Ganesh Chaturthi

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Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with festivities lasting ten to twelve days every year. The occasion for the celebration of the birth of Lord Ganesh, son of Lord Shiva and Parvati.

Ganesh symbolizes intelligence and application of mind. There are many incidents in Lord Ganesha’s life which symbolize his sharp wit and presence of mind. Among them the most famous of them is his competition with his elder brother Karthikeya.

As the story goes Lord Shiva called both his sons and told them that whomsoever circles the world three times will be given the prize of a magical Mango which was presented to him by Sage Narad. Ganesha realized that his vehicle the mouse, would be of no match against the swift flying peacock of his elder brother. He thought for a moment, smiled and took three circles of his parents. When they asked him why they were circling him, he replied that they were his world, and taking three circles of them was equivalent to circling the world three times. Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati were very pleased and they gave the fruit to Ganesha.

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The festival falls in the fourth day of the waxing moon in the Hindu lunar calendar month of Bhadrapad which mostly falls in September according to the English Calendar. While the festival is celebrated all over the country, it is in the Indian State of Maharashtra that the celebrations are specially famous.

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In medieval history, the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi can be traced back to the times of the great Maratha King Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. However following the decline of the Maratha empire, the festival lost its state patronage. It was the famous freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak who revived this festival as a community celebration and to gather people in his fight against British Rule.

Indeed he has left behind a lasting legacy. Every year the festival gets bigger and more and more people revel in the worship of the Lord and seek his blessings.

I have a Dream!

I have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr.

In the history of American politics, yesterday, the 28th August was a memorable day. It was on 28th August 1963 that Martin Luther king delivered his famous speech – “I have a Dream.” It was a great speech that will be remembered by all progressive societies for many decades. Not only did it motivate the black American to rise and demand their citizenship, but it is also regarded as one of the greatest speeches ever written and delivered to very large audience with unmatched enthusiasm and great alacrity.

The contribution of Martin Luther king for securing equal rights for African Americans is greater than anyone else. But for him it would have been impossible for Barrack Obama to become the 44th president of the most powerful nation on the earth.

The greatness of a leader is seen and recognized from the high degree of passion with which he/she is devoted to the cause. That becomes the force which is difficult to be faced and fought with by the opponents. Great leaders with great passion and total selflessness can bring about sweeping changes every society needs from time to time.

If we were to select main qualities of great leaders, I would list the following in order of importance.

  1. Selflessness
  2. Passion for a cause
  3. Excellent Public Speaking abilities
  4. Unending coverage

How I wish that today we may also have some leaders with some semblance of what a great leader Dr Martin Lither King was.

Can you spot one?

Religon – A Uniting Force!

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What is religion? If the devil and the angel are both residing in one’s mind – why is religion so necessary? The devil is strong and grows at an immense pace. But the angel is initially weak and needs constant support of the individual concerned. Religion is a set of rules which one follows to tame the devil, and to nurture the angel.

T.S. Elliot
T.S. Elliot

Each religion teaches the same. There could be a difference in methodology. There could be a differences in some of the rituals. There could be differences in the ways in which each religion is taught; but the objective is the same. The common objective therefore, should be a uniting force. So said the playwright, poet and thinker – T.S. Elliot. “Religion must be a uniting force, but unfortunately some selfish, self-styled religious leaders connive it to divide humanity.

Swami Vivekanand
Swami Vivekanand

Swami Vivekanand delineated the same idea in his famous speech at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The same is reproduced below:

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. l thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration.I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:

As the different streams having there sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to thee.

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita:

Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

The Nobel Laureate

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The recent interview of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and its report in the media has created a huge controversy. As most of us know by now that Amaratya Sen is reported to have said that he is not in favor of Mr. Modi as Prime Minister. Further, he gave his reason that as C.M. he allegedly failed to protect the minority community in the state of Gujarat.

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Mr. Sen’s eminence in the field of economics is undoubtedly of a high order. Whether his theories have hold any relevance for our Country is all together another question. Most of us are also aware that he does not live in India and has definitely not in Gujarat. If that is the case one wonders about the basis of his comments on the condition of minorities in that state. Does he base his opinion on media reports? Or on feedback provided by the ruling Congress? And has he tried to make any kind of assessment by actually visiting the state?

Of course, there is no doubt that Rajya Sabha member Chandan Mitra should not have talked about stripping Amaratya Sen of the Bharat Ratna. He has also expressed his regrets, though a bit late. But the question remains, whether Sen should have passed the comment about Mr. Modi (a democratically elected chief minister) in the first place?

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The matter does not rest here. Further, Sen is said to have stated that he would return the award if former Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpee were to say so. The question that immediately comes to mind is whether Sen was aware of the condition of health of Mr. Vajpayee. And where was the question of dragging the former PM into the controversy when the highest civilian award is bestowed by the Government of India. Finally, in dragging the name of one of Modern India’s most successful leaders (at a time when he is ailing) has Mr. Sen conducted himself as a Nobel Laureate?

These are questions which need answers. I would invite your comments on this issue.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Yesterday, the 23rd of July was the birthday of Lokmanya Tilak. Born in 1856, he was a truly great leader of our freedom movement, who was conferred the title of ‘Lokmanya ‘- one who has been recognized as the People’s leader. He was the one who heralded the concept of Sampoorna Swaraj.
It is sad to note that our media, including the electronic media, which has all the time and words to sensationalize the most commonplace happenings did not lend any coverage to this great soul of our country.
I append below excerpts from his life,so gracefully published in Wikipedia for our countrymen, who like to remember this great Lokmanya leader.
In 1894 , Bal Gangadhar Tilak transformed the household worshipping of Lord Ganesha into a public event. The  large community celebration .
He was an educationist. The Deccan Education Society that Tilak founded with others in the 1880s till today, runs much respected Institutions in Pune like the Fergusson College.
It was he who started ,The Swadeshi movement. This being a part of the Indian independence movement and the developing Indian nationalism, which was an economic strategy aimed at removing the British Empire from power and improving economic conditions in India by following the principles of swadeshi (self-sufficiency; Hindi: स्वदेशी svadēśī), which had some success. Strategies of the Swadeshi movement involved boycotting British products and the revival of domestic products and production processes.
He, along with other leaders, coined the concept of Sampoorna Swaraj.
He was indeed a great leader.

Our Cultural Heritage!

ImageToday is Shayani Ekadashi also known as Ashadhi Ekadashi

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It is believed that Vishnu falls asleep in Ksheersagar – cosmic ocean of milk – on Shesha nāga, the cosmic serpent. Thus the day is also called Dev-Shayani Ekadashi (lit. “god-sleeping eleventh”) or Hari-shayani Ekadashi (lit. “Vishnu-sleeping eleventh”) or Shayana Ekadashi. Vishnu finally awakens from his slumber four months later on Prabodhini Ekadashi – eleventh day of bright fortnight in the Hindu month Kartik (October–November). This period is known as Chaturmas (lit. “four months”) and coincides with the rainy season. Thus, Shayani Ekadashi is the beginning of Chaturmas. Devotees start observing the Chaturmas vrata (vow) to please Vishnu on this day.

ImageA fast is observed on Shayani Ekadashi. The fast demands abstainance from all grains, beans, cereals, certain vegetables like onions and certain spices.

This day, a huge yatra or religious procession of pilgrims known as Pandharpur Ashadi Ekadasi Waari Yatra culminates at Pandharpur, in Solapur district in south Maharashtra, situated on the banks of the Bhima River. Pandharpur is main center of worship of the deity Vithoba, a local form of Vishnu. Lacs of pilgrims come to Pandharpur on this day from different parts of Maharashtra. Some of them carry Palkhis (palanquins) with the images of the saints of Maharashtra. These pilgrims known as Warkaris, sing Abhangas (chanting hymns) of Saint Tukaram and Saint Dnyaneshwar, dedicated to Lord Vithoba.

ImageThis is yet one more display of our rich and varied cultural heritage!

Bad films, Apt response?

Bad Hindi FilmsThis morning I came across a queer report in the newspaper. The headline read “Wrath of the audience”. The report detailed how audiences have been tearing the theater seats to vent their anger if the film turns out to be shoddy and boring. Strangely, the report also said that children’s geometrical instruments are used by some people to make the task, of causing damage, easier.
Some of the movies responsible for irking such peculiar responses from the audience ,named in the report, are Himmatwala, Yamala Pagala Deewana 2, The attacks of 26/11, Zila Ghaziabad, Ishq in Paris, Aurugzeb, Aatma, Rangrez ,Jayantilal ki love story and I, me aur main. So many films, in a span of 4/5 months have fared so badly. Then why do they make such movies?
While there is certainly no justification for the audience to misbehave in the fashion described, there is good reason for the producers of the movies to contemplate and think.
The issue of unruly social behavior also concerns the relevant ministry of the government. I would go further and say that our education system is also flawed and needs review and requires correction. In the 21st century this kind of public behavior is almost barbaric.

Does the inadequate knowledge of English and the inability to speak English confidently affect our Personality & Progress?

A lot has been said in favour of teaching English from the first standard itself. Many states including Maharashtra have introduced English from the first grade even in government / municipal schools.
Our professional colleges like Engineering, Medical and other higher technical education colleges have English as medium of instruction. In spite of that, often the students are not able to express themselves in English confidently.
The principle of a leading college of Architecture told me recently  “Our students are excellent so far as the subject of architecture is concerned. They have great imagination. They can create excellent architectural designs. But the only problem is that they are not able to express themselves in English.”
In architecture, engineering, medicine or any other discipline of higher education most books available are only in the English language. Besides, the technical terms used in these subjects are also in English.  Therefore the knowledge and the ability to express in English becomes necessary for all students of higher education.
unconfident executiveFurthermore, with the coming of more and more FMCG Companies in India, the use of this language is increasing by the day. This has added to the difficulties of the employees, particularly in executive cadre. Those who cannot express themselves in English fluently and clearly are at a great disadvantage.  They are good in domain knowledge and they are adept in performing their duties, yet the inadequacy of English hurts them hard.
english speaking
So what is the solution? Should most of the work be done in Hindi which is our Rashtra Bhasha? Should all higher education books be translated into Hindi? Or should English training be imparted to one and all as our National Mission. Commercial organizations in this case can organize English speaking training as a part of their efficiency promotional effort.
rashtrabhashaI leave you with a question. What should we do with our Rashtra Bhasha?
I thank you all who participated in our earlier discussion. Until the next posting…

Innovation!

Innovation is necessary not only for organisations but also for individuals!

Unless an organisation has a specific innovation policy it will stagnate and gradually die. Most cotton textile mills have met the same fate. Clothing is one of the basic needs (Roti, Kapada aur Makaan) but now a day the clothing needs are met by garments manufacturers who prefer to secure their customers by procuring cloth from small manufacturer. Mills were used to manufacture a particular quality, colour style of cloth in large quantities only. They would sell the cloth to hundreds of thousands of retailers throughout the country. But times changed. Fashion came in. Fashion Designers came to the fore. They influence consumer with their innovations. Consumer habits changed. Instead of buying cloth and getting dresses stitched, they started wearing fashion garments. Everyone on the scenario was creatively engaged in innovation. But the mills did not innovate. Result is known to everyone. Mills stagnated and died.

 

You might ask how should one bring innovation in one’s life. How is it important when we are talking not of an organisation but an individual? The answer is by upgrading one’s knowledge and skills. Gone are the days of rich zamindars  who  will remain rich and commanding position. Who will continue to treat the labourers as slaves? An ordinary worker with a desire to succeed and determination to innovate can become Dhirubhai Ambani or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Warren Buffer.
Among other things innovation also requires an ability to take some risk in life. There is nothing 100 percent risk free. Once in a while in spite of all odds in your favour, you may still fail. There too your creative mind and passion for innovation will make you resilient to start another project.
Even when we are talking of personal relationships constant application of mind, innovative methods can bring back the lost love and/or effectively repair the seemingly irreparable relationship.

Use your creativity and imbibe innovation in your personality. Life will be very interesting and worth yearning for, not just living!
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