Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lage Raho, You Inspire Us - Anshu Gupta!

Everytime I meet you in person, I feel blessed and inspired! People like you are rare species :)

Yesterday(20 September) while we all were celebrating GOONJ's inspirational work and Ramon #Magsaysay award, I was constantly feeling goosebumps and my heart was filled with pride :)

Both veterans and beginners had assembled to be part of Samosa, laddu and Chai party. While he invited veterans & close friends to come and share about Goonj, I felt overwhelmed when he asked me to come and share :)

At the first instance I was short of words and full of emotions but then I shared two things that makes him class apart!

It was February 14, 2012 and I was sitting with him in Goonj's office sharing the plan and idea of our upcoming Lead The Change program, we spoke for an hour or so, he gave some brilliant feedback. During the entire conversation we did not talk about funds, after the meeting I was about to leave, when he stopped me and handed over a cheque. Without even uttering a word I looked into his eyes and he replied,"Mujhe pata hai tumhare paas paise nhi hain, kaam ayenge.(I know you dont have money, it will be of use)" I had a big smile on my face and enough courage to never look back! It was the first funding cheque for Youth Alliance and he wrote "Lage Raho" on my diary. One of the best Valentine's Day gift I can imagine :)

Second thing, that I shared is often missed in this data driven, quantifiable world, where numbers matter more than anything. Couple of week back I called him and asked him, "Bhaiya, how many talks have you given til now?" and we estimated around 500 talks/lectures. With an average of 50 people(I am sure it will be more than that), he has spoken to more than 5000 youngsters in past five years and with his powerful oratory, if he has ignited even 1 heart in every talk, he has inspired 50 more initiatives or individual to do something powerful. Apart from this, thousands of people have visited Goonj's processing center and left spellbound and inspired. I know around 5-6 youngsters personally who have initiated their enterprise because of him. This cannot be quantified and the seeds of inspiration that have gone deep because of Goonj, cannot be seen currently and we might witness the impact in decades and centuries to come.

Goonj might be there or not but 100 years down the line, its inspiration would be doing things which are incomprehensible!

Thank you Anshu bhaiya! You are my hero :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Circle is Growing :)

I was about to enter the hall to facilitate a session named as "Pyar se Parivar" (Family of Love) with Divas but the sea of footwears (chappals) outside the hall intrigued me. I wasn't aware of exact number of people sitting in a large circle inside the Satyagraha Hall of Gandhi Darshan and thus began my counting. There were 129 pair of footwears. The family of love has grown, this was the largest number of people Youth Alliance family has ever hosted in one program, in one circle. I am talking of Change Festival, the two day residential program that has strengthened our belief in love, trust, surrender & compassion. 

Change Festival with its motto to celebrate both people & ideas had a deep focus on transformative enterprise & we prepared with a guiding question, how will my work change me from inside? The two days were of complete surrender in trust. The team worked hard to make every little thing special, nearly all the things used in the program were handmade from namecards to mementos to decoration material :) It was heartening to see the team put their heart and soul in every little things they were doing.

Out of 110 participants, 26 shared their idea. The ideas varied on issues ranging from Education to Sports Comics to Employment for Visually Impaired etc. We had to work on 10 of them to learn the art of refining an idea keeping transformation at core. All of them collectively chose 10 of them and effortlessly all other joined the chosen ideas to form 10 teams. During our planning we were thinking this transition from 26 ideas to 10 teams(of around 10 member each) would be difficult but it so happened that everyone was happy in their teams. In the final closing circle on Day 2, the final presentations were made and everyone came forward to offer their gifts to these 10 ideas. We felt happy that everyone in the circle could see that finance is not the only form of capital support and there were multiple form of capitals that were offered to each team.

It was a leap of faith for us both in terms of number of participants in the program and also that we were hosting this on Gift EconomyShashank shared with us that GIFT is nothing but Giving in Full Trust and that set the tone for us. We promised ourselves to host a space for 120 people in full trust without any participation fees & they can pay it forward whatever they are moved to. At the night of Day 1 when participants were engrossed in refining their ideas, I was sitting with my team members and then we shared that it is not the outcome of 3-4 months of hardwork but it's years that have gone behind building this ecosystem. Two days were enriched with the gifts of Ravi BhaiyaDeven Bhai, Vivek Bhai, Anshu Bhaiya, entire Moved By Love community and several other mentors who were part of it to mentor the teams. For us it was such a wonderful feeling to see around 15 mentors who stayed with us for two days to support the participants in refining their ideas.

A day before CF we were holding our review circle and Jagdish bhaiya who is the caretaker at Gandhi Darshan was around. We asked him to join us, he sat with us throughout our sharing, later he said,"Yahan itne log aate hain, per aap logon jaisa pyar nhi dekha maine." (Many people come here but I have not seen such love in people.) He had set the right tone for us. GSDS is an amazing place and one of the few places where things were ready before time :)

All in all, it was a humbling experience where everyone came together in a circle to make it a reality. It was a wonderful confluence of multiple form of capital, participants from across the country enriched it with the diversity, GSDS offered us the space, Youth Time Movement supported us financially, mentors shared their experience, team offered their labor of love, the rain made the two days pleasant. 

It was in true form a community build with love, trust and collaboration. Now, all we need to do is make it stronger one person at a time, one heart at a time :)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

To love, is to SERVE :)

Today, I went to bank to withdraw some money for Change Festival, only to know that banks are closed on every 1st April and then closed on 2nd for Mahavir Jayanti, 3rd for Good Friday. All in all bank will be closed for next three days and 3rd, 4th April is our much awaited Change Festival. Thinking of people from whom I would borrow some money for the event, I prepared a list in my head.

I entered the office & shared this with our team (mostly comprising of college students) that has been working relentlessly for the upcoming festival. I shared the bank scenario and said that we need to crowd source a significant amount for next three days. In next one minute what happened moved me completely and strengthened my belief in power of collaborative community. The team offered to pool in a huge amount for next three days, good enough to meet urgent requirements. It was a powerful moment for everyone, each one of us was happy seeing the ownership in the team. This is true interdependence :)

This is one such incident in the series of such things that have been happening at Youth Alliance office. Each one has been trying to make it as special as possible. Often with the race of time we prefer things that are ready-made but this team has been working day and night to make every little thing from the quotes, to gifts, to backdrop everything has been made with love, trust and compassion. It has been a truly collective effort, where each one has risen to the occasion and given her or his best. 

There have been times over last couple of weeks when I have stopped one of them and said, "Isn't this too much of work for you? Can you do this alone? Start only if you can complete it?" and the reply has been,"Bhaiya, it will done! Don't worry. I will do it at home."

I feel proud to be part of an organization rather team that is so special. This is a true community, where everyone brings their gifts together, share them with each other and surrenders in trust :) The artist takes care of art and gives space to others for expressing; the critical thinker asks the right questions and surrenders in trust; the (main)host makes sure that everyone has space to do what they want to do; the believer takes care that everyone understands the true meaning of gift economy/ multiple form of capital and maintains the ethos; the writer makes sure that every word is written with love; the invisible is busy arranging the logistics and running across the city to make sure that everyone's stay is blessed, the list goes on...

This is like a dream come true for all of us. Now, it is just a day away :) Youth Alliance is going to host its largest gathering ever. We all can feel butterflies in our stomach, I trust the festival will be blissful but I am sure that the process has brought us closer to each other and this is what we all aspire :)

To love, is to SERVE and we have loved :)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Why BJP losing Delhi is in National Interest?

Last year when general elections were about to happen and Modi wave was clearly riding over the country, the big worry for me was who will stop the communal people from RSS, VHP, BJP etc. once Modi becomes PM. I was sure that it would be beyond his control to stop the people who would use his name to spread communalism in the country. The best was that he did not speak once during his entire campaign last year about communalism but promised development(I have some questions on his development model as well) and promoted that agenda. He had a very positive narrative to share with the country and he tried to move away from his 2002 riot image.

Today after around 9 months of Modi government, the entire country has seen surge in communal forces trying to run campaigns like "Gharwapsi", love jihad, vandalizing churches in Delhi. We have seen Praveen Togadia spreading hatred, BJP MP's supporting such things and adding fuel. The worst is that our PM Modi did not come out to speak(read tweet) once about anything. He has been tweeting for everything, he tweeted for Charlie Hebdo the very same evening but we are yet to hear from him about one statement against such thing.

Next disastrous thing for me is accepting a person like Amit Shah and media channels heaping praise on him. SIT might have given him clean chit but we have a history of how CBI and SIT have been misused in this country. Same Amit Shah was stopped by court to enter Gujrat for two years when Modi was CM. It was Shah who was the incharge of UP elections in 2014 and his chosen MPs have been fueling hatred in the country. 

Modi observes all this and never utters a word, in a way he silently agrees and promotes what is happening. We as a country have to decide what we want, if we want development then on the cost of what? I would not like my generations to live in posh concrete colonies with hatred for each other.

It is important to stop the hegemony of Modi brand politics and teach a lesson to people like Amit Shah who breed in the idea of communalism. Arvind Kejriwal and his party AAP has been able to challenge him and we have seen how challenged Modi and his team have felt over last few weeks. They have resorted to all sorts of means to stop the Aam Admi but this time it seems it will be impossible for them.

These are defining moment in a democracy, these moments make history, these moments strengthen our belief in the rights of people.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Three Stories. One Hope. #5SaalKejriwal

The best way to understand the mood of public is to be with them, observe and talk to them. Election being the most buzzing topic around, I have been talking to people about it and responses this time are more consistent. I would like to share few stories that truly moved me and gave me hope.

I got a call today from the village which hosts Youth Alliance for Gramya Manthan. It is a village 80 km away from Kanpur with no electricity polls. It was 8:30am and 25 year old Pankaj from other side says,"Bhaiya do something to mobilize people for Arvind Kejriwal, if you want I can come to Delhi for campaigning. This time we need to make sure that he should win. You work with so many youngsters take everyone for campaigning." I was speechless about his excitement and the way he is hoping that something will change.

Second story is of a rickshaw puller. It was 10pm at night and I was standing near Jangpura crossing and talking to various rickshaw pullers with my vicks candy, that I usually keep with me in winters and offer to people I meet on road. I asked one of them, "Bhaiya kisko vote doge?" (Brother, whom will you vote?) He replied,"I am from West Bengal and vote Congress but if Kejriwal would go to Bengal I will surely vote him." I smiled and went ahead.

Third story is that of an auto-rickshaw driver. He has been driving auto rickshaw for many years. We started talking about socio-political situation of Delhi and then I asked which party are you going to vote and why. He replied, "Bhaiya, is baar to jhaadu chalegi. Meri auto mein jo log baithte hain unme 10 mein se 7 log jhaadu ko vote de rhe hain." ( Brother, this time broom(Aam Admi Party), 7 out of 10 people who sit in my auto are going to vote them.) He then narrates how he was free from police troubles during those 49 days. Auto rickshaw drivers have been rallying behind AAP since its inception and they are quite vocal about their support.

These are just three stories from bouquet of stories I have come across over last one month. I see a lot of hope in people specially those who come from economically weaker section. I am looking forward to see the change and witness it, just hoping that this time an honest politician remains honest with time.

Like happiness is contagious, so is hope!