A New Wave of Hope

Video

Arvind Kejriwal has come to symbolize rebellion against the VIP culture, corruption, and politics-as-usual.

I liked the plainspoken and straightforward tone of his speech in Delhi assembly. There is much to admire in what the AAP has done. Regardless of how long this government lasts, they have proven that it is feasible for the common man to fight and win elections in a democracy. We should celebrate that, and wish them our best!

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A Special Story

Meerowal,
Zila Shekhpura,
Station: Mehta-Sujja,
Punjab, Pakistan.
22 August, 1947. 

It was amidst the scary sound of raindrops on the roof, that Dwarka heard the Sarpanch’s voice on the loudspeaker – “Safety has become an issue, and we have decided that all Hindus must leave this place by tomorrow. Their early departure will make this area more safe, and also ensure the safety of Hindu ladies and children”. As his beeji and papaji collected all jewelery, money and foodstuff at one place, the 13-year-old Dwarka packed his schoolbag with the hope that he would come back home and attend school whenever the situation improved.

That was never to happen. In the kafila that traveled from Meerowal to Ajnala, his mom and dad were hit by a barcha (a long wooden stick, with a pointed iron tip at the end) on their heads. Master Mangal Singh, the best teacher in school, was killed by a Muslim bandook. He had been Dwarka’s favorite teacher. Overcome with anger and frustration, Dwarka told his elder brother – who was 18 years old – that he could no longer keep walking.

As the kafila came to a halt near the Ravi river, Dwarka looked at the wild currents of water, occasionally hitting strong rocks and then dying out. His elder brother threw the gathri (the knot of cotton cloth which they had been carrying) in to the river. It had all the jewelery of their mother, and 10 rupees which their father had given them. “Better to throw it here than let it go in to the hands of Muslims.” Many other people threw their gathris, gold-coins, and sometimes, even food.

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When he reached Amritsar, Dwarka barely had a pair of clothes left. Penniless and hungry, he found temporary respite at the langar in Khalsa College.

Life was to quickly take a new turn. He searched vacated Muslim homes for utencils and stole fruits from Skathri Bagh, which he would later sell in streets – an anna for each item. There were days when no one would buy, and those when he’d have to do mazdoori for 10 hours to earn two rupees. He pulled a rickshaw for Seth Bhagwan Dass, who would pay 8 rupees for a ride of 20 kms. He saved money to rent a rehdi, and eventually bought a fruit-shop of his own. He educated 6 children, all of whom are decently settled in life now. And today, at the age of 73, he goes daily to the local mandi to earn a living, simply because he loves doing it. He’s someone whom I greatly admire. He is a hero. He is my grandfather.

Meet Dwarka Nath Madaan, the most cheerful man I have ever known in my life. Even with just 10 rupees in his pocket, he is the kind of person who feels like the king of the world. His grandchildren call him paaji (Punjabi for ‘elder brother’), and he is younger at heart than most people you will ever meet.

His is the story of hundreds of thousands of people who had to leave their homes, and start all over again in a new place. And yet, I have never heard him complain about any misgivings that life may have dealt him with. In his evergreen smile and youthful energy, he reminds me of words from Rudyard Kipling’s If:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

His is the story that shows how happiness can come shooting out even from black holes of despair. His is the story that is ordinary, like transparent air, and yet so extra-ordinarily powerful like a tornado. His is the story that I cannot capture in a 3-hour-long phone-call to India, nor in one blog post here …

A Message to Treasure

One of my role-models in life is the principal of my school. I studied at the Spring Dale Senior School, Amritsar. And our principal is a brilliant lady who virtually transformed garage classes in to one of the best schools in Punjab (if you ask me, one of the best in the world!). Without digressing in to how much I admire her vision and qualities, I have to share a message she sent me a few days ago. It is an answer to queries from a student to a teacher. The teacher’s response came from the vision, experience and wisdom of several successful years. I have to share this brilliant message, and also my commitment to live by the ideas of my teacher.

Mrs. Manveen Sandhu

Dear Saurabh,
Thank you for such a lovely mail. …

Let me share a few important things that I learnt in the last 20 years.

The road to success is actually paved with small obstacles that need to be overcome on a day to day basis. If not sorted they get magnetically bonded to form a big boulder that obstructs your passage beyond redemption.

Dream big but think small.

When you set your target on small goals even the bigger mission starts falling in place.

Whenever you are undecided about a task think-Does this harm me or anyone else? If not- do it. Don’t ask-Does it benefit me or not?

And the last golden rule:
Essentially you are alone in this world. Never have expectations from anyone else but yourself. Everything is transient. Change is the only constant. What you want today you might outgrow tomorrow but don’t deny yourself today because only then shall you outgrow tomorrow.

To come into the real world rather than the philosophical one. Money is very important. Earn it the right way- it will always be enough. Earn it the wrong way- it will never be enough. First earn it and invest it, then spend it and share it. If you use it wisely you shall be its master but if you squander it you will always be its slave. So part one “Earn it and invest it” should be your plan one where in you provide for yourself and your family. The second part that will probably come 20 years later “Spend it and share it” will be your time for philanthropy and social responsibility. Yes, it is better not to depend on external avenues because you will have to do what you are asked to do and not what you want to do.

Keep in touch constantly.
With lots of love and best wishes
Manveen

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Precious words, which I will always treasure…

Morning Thoughts on Bright People

Bill Gates: ability to look years ahead, and visualize it in the present. He started writing software for fun, and then developed a philosophy to be paid for the work, and to do more… And the works of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are praise-worthy. They are doing good to the global society in a very organized, scientific and effective way.

Andrew Grove (Founder of Intel) : Immigrated to the US from Hungary, failed a physics course and then got an ‘A’- grade in the same, PhD from UC-Berkeley, did not join Bell Labs and instead joined the then small company Fairchild semiconductors, co-founded Intel, evolved as the main business of Intel changed, managed two huge corporate crisis…

Warren Buffet: His ethical, long-term vision in the stock market – a perceived sphere of speculation and manipulation – has helped him create an immense enterprise of trust and huge returns, together! He started small, and rose to the highest… wow!

Steve Jobs: A fighter with a strong heart! rejects education that he cannot afford, works hard with passion and creativity, “co-inventor” of the personal computer with the vision of its large-scale personalized utility, thrown out of the company he founded (Apple computers), creates designs, animations, more companies, an alliance with Disney, invited back to Apple and spurs a renaissance, the launch of Ipod, Iphone… what a great blend of creativity, hunger and innovation! His speech at Stanford is very inspiring, and one of my favorites.

Dhirubhai Ambani: Not a creative genius like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but a great visionary with infinite confidence and ambition… His self-belief to be the master of his own fate, and not an employee who seeks small gains, helped him rise from low middle-class poverty to the highest corporate peak, in spite of adverse market policies in the then India…

Richard Feynman: He knew the difference between reality and labels. He knew how the same thing could be expressed in different ways, by different-looking formulae… He was not afraid to question, and never scared to speculate, imagine, discuss and play… A very lively character, and an excellent teacher. His interview with the BBC (Horizon) is a wonderful summary of his vision. And the Nobel Physics lecture that he gave is great inspiration for a scientifically curious mind!

Albert Einstein: Not considered good enough for graduate science… so works as a clerk, and makes the most important scientific discoveries. The unified theory of gravitation, relativity, brownian motion, material properties, quantum statistics… there is hardly an area of modern science which does not derive some or the other important thing from Einstein! The fact that the greatest scientist did it in spite of such obstacles, and not through a pristine university scholarship inspires a lot of people, even mediocre ones like myself. His reluctance to accept quantum mechanics is famous, and current scientific attempts to address his doubts should spur even better understanding of reality.