Sunday, December 8, 2013

What will Delhi Election results unfold for us ?

No matter what the results are for today, AAP has already made a huge contribution to the politics around us. It has forced a national party to change its CM candidate (Harsh Vardhan), it has changed the writings on the hoardings of all parties, it has redefined mobilizing methods during election and most importantly it has given us hope, that, yes change is possible.

During my numerous conversations with Auto Drivers, ATM Guards, I have sensed the belief that they have in AAP. The vote bank which was mostly swayed away with dirty caste, money and liquor politics has come together.

Today for me the most important thing is the vote share of AAP. I dont care if they win 10 seats or 36, what is important is how many people went out to support them. The vote share will give an insight to whether we are ready for change or not. If a significant number of people support them, then it will be clear that people are fed up of corrupt political practices and they are ready to embrace change and support someone who is honest. A large percentage of vote share will encourage not only AAP but many other people to come in politics who feel that it is not a place for honest people. It will also push other political parties to bring in honest blood and use new ways of reaching out to people.

I just want to remind one thing to all my friends that Arvind Kejriwal is not God. He also has his own limitations and has done (will do) his share of mistakes but his intent seems genuine and there is no doubt about his honesty and integrity. AAP's decision to stop taking funds after they reached 20 Crore limit was just amazing. No other political party has ever done this before. I have seen very few individuals who refuse to earn beyond a point.

I don't see them making government although I am ready to see this miracle happen. It might be a hung assembly where no one wants to support each other. If by any chance AAP makes a move to seek or get support from BJP or Congress then that would be their last mistake.

Hope for the best lets see how it unfolds. These results are going to be the landmark for years to come and will  redefine how the upcoming General Election would be contested. 

All the best to the polity of India :) 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why it is important to Vote this time ?

Dear Friends,

Hope you are doing good. Today I am not writing this as a representative from Youth Alliance but as an active citizen of India. We all have chosen the path which will surely bring social change in our country, it might happen in our lifetime, if not then I am sure that we will lay the foundation for coming generations.

I am writing here to talk about the basic right that we all have as citizens of India - Right to Vote. I believe that it is important for each one of us to exercise the right that has been given to us as a citizen. We are the ones who are trying to bring in some change and hence it becomes more important for us to have faith in the existing system and use the existing tools to innovate it for good. I think it is first time in our lifetime that we have seen such an upsurge in youth voices and so many youngsters coming out to demand their rights. This will become more meaningful if we go out tomorrow and exercise our right to VOTE.

I am writing this before Delhi election because Delhi has witnessed some change in the way politics has been done in our country ever before. I request you to sense the change that might be round the corner. First time in near history any election is being fought on development agenda and anti-corruption. Its not just about any party winning elections, it is more about how many people support or are ready for change. 

Having said this I request you all to go out and vote tomorrow. Mobilize your neighbors, friends and of course family and appeal them to vote. 

Please forward this to your friends and motivate them to go out and vote tomorrow.

Looking forward to see a better India in years to come :)

- Citizen First
Prakhar Bhartiya

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Struggle Between Inner and Outer Self

The session started with a meditation exercise. The idea was to control the mind because mind is a wanderer and when we are seeking answers about SELF, we need to have a calm mind.

First two question asked by Chitranjan ji our facilitator for the session were :
  • Why you are here today ?
  • How will you change post session ?
All the participants gave different answers of the two questions and then the discussion went on. The big question that we pondered upon was, "How do we understand the conflict between inner and outer self ?"

Then we had an exercise where he proposed that for one hour let us assume that the relationship between inner and outer world is helpful in reaching our destination. And now share our views in the group with a situation that holds true for above.

We also discussed the distinction about FEAR and PHOBIA. 

Mostly during the entire session we were talking about conflict between any two ( it can inner and outer self or between two different individuals) and it happens mostly at four different levels. They were :
  • You and I are adversary and the powerful person wins (No Point of Dialogue or understanding)
  • Presence of adversary motives other to empower himself and then fight (One Wins, other Loses)
  • Whenever two people are at conflict, one will try to understand why we are at conflict and look for others weakness and strike at them to win
  • Whenever there is a conflict both sides try to understand the complete picture, dialogue and come to a conclusion (Win- Win)
For me the two were more importantly my inner and outer self. The constant struggle to be one has taught me many things about myself, has helped me in improving myself. Still there is a long way to go and huge scope of improvement but being aware of the facts and moments when this conflict happens gives me peace and opportunity to learn. 

(Just to add here, I know an amazing book " Seven Habits by Stephen Covey" that talks about this in one of the habits, "Think Win-Win". I would request you all to read that book. It has been a blessing for me, I still keep a copy of it with me and have recommend it to many. Please dont read it as a book but what worked for me was that I read one habit 2-3 times and then tried to imbibe it in me and then move to next. )

Apart from this couple of things that stood apart for me were:
  • What I am today = What I was yesterday + What I learned today (what I learnt today majorly comes for reflection
  • We also had a conversation around authenticity. Children should be given opportunity to express authentically because it is extremely hard as a kid to keep extreme emotions inside. 
  • It is important to be aware of what we are saying, doing , thinking. Whenever we lose awareness we lose opportunity to learn.

Note: This happened during a learning event for the Changeloom Program of Pravah at Kolkata. 
(Chittaranjan Kaul is the Co-director Center for Learning Resources, Pune and also Board Member, Gandhi Fellowship)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Head, Heart & Hand

“Practice what you preach”, was taught to me when I was a kid but then I did not
understand the importance and meaning of this phrase. It was really hard for me to
find someone who followed it. It was when I became a teacher as a Teach For India
Fellow that I understood the importance of this phrase. Being a teacher you have to
follow what you say. If I ask my kids to reach school at 7am then I have to be there at
6:45am. These small things became the basis of small change that started in me.

When I became a TFI Fellow and started working with 52 third grader kids, all my
philosophy and principles were at stake. I believe being a teacher is one of the most
difficult jobs one can have. My kids kept a check on my patience, my commitment,
integrity and all this way it was really difficult to deliver but a constant self-vigil
and reflection helped me a lot. My class acted as an experimental lab for me, I was
growing each day as a person, as a human being.

I used to read a passage from a book “Gandhi-The Man” by “Eknath Easwaran”
everyday to my kids. It was this time of the day which was most awaited in my class.
I strongly believe that his philosophy is very relevant even today. My kids learned a
lot from him, I witnessed how they used to relate incidents from their life with that of
Gandhi ji’s. Two years in the classroom gave me the strength to move forward and
do something for the society, something beyond the self.

When I see at India’s myriad challenges I see only one way to find a solution to all
these problems and this is by empowering youth of our country. Keeping this in mind
we started Youth Alliance with a vision to connect each youth with a cause. It aims to
build a movement of young leaders equipped to meet India’s problems by designing
processes to identify young individuals with a spark to think innovatively for the
larger social good. We do this by conducting programs where they get experiential
exposure in both urban and rural space to identify their passion.

The journey with Youth Alliance has been equally challenging but the strong
conviction that change is possible drives me to work hard. Change of heart is the
core philosophy of our work and this is possible only when you lose yourself in the
service of others. In last one year we have helped in nurturing 8 new enterprises,
connected 12 individuals to full time development space and all this gives us hope.

Over the years, Gandhi ji’s message of, “Be the Change” has got deep rooted in my
heart. He was a big supporter of youth power. He used to say that youth should be
self-reliant and self-supporting. He talked about an education system where head,
heart and hand are developed simultaneously but over the years our education system
has failed to do so.

Today if I reflect on the work that I am doing at Youth Alliance I feel it is nearly
the same as Gandhi ji wanted. We are trying to nurture youth to be self-reliant,
entrepreneurial, social role models and connect them with rural India, the villages
where Gandhi ji’s heart was.

I don’t know how far will I go, how many young people will Youth Alliance reach
but I am sure where ever we go, how big we become the most important reason of our
being is Gandhi ji and his philosophy of life.

Note: I wrote this article for the annual journal, "Satya". The journal carries articles on a wide variety of subjects – society, politics, economics – anything that is centred on Gandhian thought and practice. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tests of Life...Continuous & Comprehensive Evaluation !

Some exams are written, some oral but then there are few exams which are known as "Continuous & Comprehensive Evaluation". For many working in education field CCE has a particular meaning and many have been lobbying for it since decades. And now when comes under RTE, it has to be implemented in schools.

Here I am not talking about CCE in classroom but I am talking about CCE in our daily life. The tests of life  are so hard and difficult to crack. They always come as a surprise and like the open book exam that happen in colleges, they always come with an OPEN BOOK ! You know the answers but it is hard to accept/follow them.

Self evaluation is such a difficult exercise. But if you pass this test, then for me all other tests are a waste. Life always brings you to a crossroad where all the roads seem to be correct and then you have to decide the best one. I also face this dilemma every now and then and sometimes it becomes a very hard choice. 

Life is not easy and it is harder is you have a non-negotiable value system ! You often end up with hurting/ annoying a few but then you can't please everyone and you are not here to do that. People understand, it takes time but they do. One thing that I have understood lately is that you can't compromise with your principles. You need to stick to them. There should be few non-negotiable things in life, like for me integrity, trust and taking responsibility are a few. I have been trying to be non-judgmental also but sometimes I fail to do so and knowing that I have failed to do so helps me in improving on it everyday.

Gandhi ji is the best person I can think of when it comes to a person with non-negotiable value system. He has been a constant source of inspiration for me and every time I fail in life's CCE I think of him and visualize him in my situation and then come up with the right answer. 

To end with I would say, all answers to complex questions of life are within us. 

Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koi.
Jo Mann Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koi ! - Kabir

Look within ! Sanka Mangal ho :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy B'day Shashank :)

If I think about Shashank happiness is something that comes to my heart. He is one of the best human being I have come across. His thoughts at this young age give me hope of a better tomorrow. He is one of the most sorted out youngster around me.

I also feel blessed to have his company and in future work closely with him. I find him very similar to what I was in college but he is a few steps ahead and much more thoughtful than what I was.

Shashank you are a true gem, I enjoy your company and its my pleasure to know you. There is a lot for me to learn from you. Keep up your positive energy and we are going to ROCK !!

All the best for days ahead. Keep exploring and keep taking others along in your journey. Spread love :-)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Visit to GB Road (Kat-Katha) !

We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.

The auto driver smiled at me when I asked him to take me to GB Road in Delhi. It is a lane I have been hearing about since last few years but never thought I would go there one day. As I was walking down the lane, it felt as a usual busy lane. Three - four floor houses build on either sides looked like they would crumble anytime. It seemed like they are a century old construction and need immediate repair.

GB Road is more famously know as the red light area of Delhi. I was going there to visit my friend Gitanjali who runs an organization "Kat-Katha", engaging with the didis (sex workers) and their kids, developing tailoring skills among the didis (the ones interested and allowed to come) and also providing an environment for their kids that is conducive to fun and learning. She has planned an activity of art and fun with kids this Saturday and I went there to take part in the activity.

As I climbed the narrow staircase with so much of skepticism I saw few of my friends sitting there and decorating the place. I felt much better and got relaxed. It was a 12ft.*10ft. room and many other 6*4 rooms. The biggest room was being used by Gitanjali and her team as the classroom. It was all decorated and as I entered the room I was greeted by a smiling photo of Gandhi ji. 

Then I went up and saw a group of around 10 kids playing with some volunteers. What a moment it was ! Aha ! All doubts and skepticism about the place were gone. I joined the gang immediately and started playing "kabbadi", I lost every-time I tried to take a chance. It reminded me of my days in the classroom :) 

During the entire time I was constantly thinking about the brave girl Gitanjali and how amazing work she is doing. It really takes courage to go there and work. She has been getting warnings, threats but I feel the smile that I saw on kids face today is something that keeps her driving. The painting made my Ruksana Didi (which I got a chance to put on the wall) is her motivation.

This visit has again pushed me back to think that so much more has to be done. I sometime crib about small things and there are others who don't have basic amenities but are enjoying life with what they have. 

There are so many questions that are coming to my mind. Why are these women treated like slaves ? Why don't they get a chance to be what they want ?  Why are these kids exposed to things, they should not know? Why are we as a society forced to accept this ? And most importantly why am I unable to do anything about it ? There is a lot to reflect, to do and create that ripple effect of change. 

People like Gitanjali are my role model, they make me work hard, they give me hope that a better tomorrow is possible !

All the best to "Kat-Katha" and hats off Gitanjali !

P.S. : If you want to visit Kat-Katha ( drop me a mail. I would love to connect. You can volunteer there every Saturday and  take part in different way. It is our duty to support such youngsters who are doing some amazing work on ground.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year ! (Sabka Mangal Ho: May All be Happy !)

Dear YA Team,

Since yesterday, I was listening to a song, which says, "Tera Mangal, mera mangal, sabka mangal ho ( May you, me and everyone around be happy and blessed with goodness) (from Vipassana)" and for me this was the perfect way to start the new year. 

The year ending has been a sad one, so many have died across the globe, the world has seen so much of destruction both natural and man made. Back in India the last year has seen so many protests, corruption on its peak, spineless politicians and the brutal gang-rape. More than happiness it has highlighted sadness. I would not say that the year was a happy one for the nation. But I see a positive hope because I saw thousands of youngsters coming out with a desire for change.

But for me the question is what are we going to do this year to make this a happy year for all. How are we going to channelize this anger and sadness ? Will it fizzle out with time or we will use it in positive direction ? I think this year needs more actions than words. Everyone says that action speaks louder than words but this year lets promise each other to practice it. Here our role becomes important because we need to channelize this energy of youngsters in positive direction and translate it into action.

I think we are born in this era and have got this opportunity to be the change because we are destined to do so. Remember, not everyone gets this chance and honestly speaking its not everyone's cup of tea. You have taken the step and now all you need to assure is to keep taking small steps, one at a time.

At the end I would say I am happy with what I am trying to do but my hunger to do more is increasing day by day. I am happy in doing this because my work has given me an opportunity to meet you all.  I feel fortunate to know each one of you with such amazing potential. 

May the coming year and life ahead bring happiness in everyone's life, everyone be happy. Wishing you, your family and everyone around a very happy and prosperous new year !

सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

May All become Happy,
May All be Free from Illness.
May All See what is Auspicious,
May no one Suffer.

Sabka Mangal Ho !!