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!

Lincoln Inspirations, and Current Politics

Any man can say things that are true of Abraham Lincoln, but no man can say anything that is new of Abraham Lincoln

Frederick Douglass

I’ve been recently listening to the Team of Rivals, and interviews of Doris Kearns Goodwin about Lincoln (besides snooping around on Biography.com for more about the man). Like millions of others, I find myself mesmerized by the almost-mythical stature Lincoln commands in history.

There is a lot that can be said about him, but a quality that intrigued me most, perhaps because of its absence in the political scene of today, is Lincoln’s uncanny knack to be able to oppose his political foes with respect, without questioning their intent. Even as he opposed slavery, Lincoln could empathize with folks on the other side. Instead of demonizing them, he said:

They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist amongst them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up.

By doing so, Lincoln is able to oppose the issue and let others ‘come to him’, instead of adding to flames of bitterness. It is not only a sign of good character, but also a smart political strategy.

I wonder how such attitude would transform the political debate today, especially in India. I wonder if Manish Tiwari could speak a sentence without demonizing everyone else on the other side of the table. It is not just about being polite, rather more importantly, it is about being smart and strategic.

In the midst of these thoughts, I am reminded of Gandhi, who called Jinnah his brother. I am reminded of Barack Obama, who called McCain a patriot and hero, while opposing him in an election. These qualities are not wholly absent, but rare, perhaps for a reason…

On the landscapes of history, only a thin horizon separates the skies of statesmanship from the seas of politics. Perhaps it is this essence of Lincoln and Gandhi, a sense of balance that calls you to rise to the highest levels of emotional strength while keeping your feet grounded in reality.

Make a Difference. Teach for India.

As a kid, I remember thinking

I wish I had a teacher whom I could ask anything. How did the universe begin? How did living things come in to being? I wish my teacher was a friend, a mentor.

I was fortunate to be able to study in a very good school, with the best of teachers in my city. We would ask questions here and there, but I wish I could ask more, always. There was always something more lurking at the back of my mind that I wanted to be answered by someone knowledgeable. Little did I know that so many Indian children do not even have access to a school, let alone a good teacher; that over half the students drop out by upper middle school. Getting answers was not their biggest problem; most had not even learned to ask.

Some of the best times of my life have come while teaching at my own school. There are few things greater than the sense of fulfillment that one gets after sharing knowledge with young, creative minds.

It is to align this sense of purpose with education inequity in India, that Teach for India has stepped in. Their model is very similar to that of Teach for America: recruit brilliant, young minds as teachers, and help them connect with students who need them the most. They provide leadership and mentoring for their teachers, while making significant difference in the lives of young students.

Only in their nascent stage yet, TFI has already acquired a good batch of teachers from some of the best colleges and companies, all of whom have had enriching experiences. The program is looking for talented individuals, and provides generous financial income and housing support as per Indian living standards.

Below is a peek in to India, its children, the education system, and Teach for India. Get motivated. Make a difference!