Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Greek philosopher, Socrates once said, "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new".

It is so easy for us sitting on our couch in front of the television or reading the local daily and pass judgment or criticize people on what should be done without ourselves partaking in the process that could actually change things on the ground and make a difference. 

I believe change is happening around us,in our own lives and yet we act oblivious to our surroundings. Take for example, the people who work in our homes and around are instruments of change in their own little way. 

My household help,Vijay hails from Uttarakhand but chooses to work in my city on a two job shift is inching towards a new chapter of change and victory in his life. He is making a sacrifice of staying away from his family to make a dignified living in order to provide the best education to his sons and daughters so that the next generation of his family could secure a job in a skilled profession. Once on a casual conversation with him,I inquired about his daughter to whom I had sent some of my study books that were lying in my store room,he was beaming with joy when he told me that his daughter had recently secured 70 per cent marks in her matriculation and had even got a scholarship for her higher studies in college as well. And not just that,she wanted to become a doctor in the future! It is the seed that Vijay sowed when he consciously decided to move out from his village to afford a good living and education for his children that his daughter today could aspire to become a doctor!

Likewise is the story of the local junk dealer in my neighborhood who braves the cold in winters,the harsh sun in summers and the heavy downpours in monsoon as he keeps pedaling his way on his old bicycle when he goes about buying scrap, newspaper and metals from different households only to provide a decent living to his family and educate his son to realize his potential of becoming an engineer. 

These are some of the choices both men and women make as they take that leap of faith when they embark on a journey towards change. 
As I widen my sphere of influence and look around, there are so many such inspiring stories transpiring around me.

When I read of the drought-like situation prevalent in some parts of our country and imagine the worst scenario where women have to traverse a distance of six to eight kilometers daily or even more in their pursuit of water and above all carry twenty liters of water on their head all the way, the image of Cynthia Koenig immediately comes to my mind. 

For starters,it is so easy to feel sorry for these women,pity their situation,ponder for a moment and move our attention to the next story. But a lady by the name of Cynthia Koenig chose to focus her attention and begin her research right here when she designed a Wello: WaterWheel that functions akin to your luggage strolley but is meant for carting water. It looks more like a roller wheel and is equipped to weather rough terrain. 

With her invention, she has eased the burden of an average village women through her time-saving, cost-effective and zero-stress on the body water carting solution. Women as her become role models of change in our society because until she arrived on the scene no one had even chosen to challenge the conventional methods of carrying water or even cared to give a thought to these women who could become victims of health ailments in the future...but Cynthia chose to do something about it. 

Thus her solution is a "wheel of change" that will be talked about each time when you come across the next village women going about her daily chore of drawing water from the well. It took one person back in the stone age to carve a wheel and little did he know that his evolution would change the dynamics of how the world functions today! Well-O!

Each of us talks of saving our environment even as we tom-tom from loudspeakers to roof-tops on the importance of growing more trees. On different occasions like World Environment day,quite predictably we hear our politicians, dignitaries and scholars lecturing to us about our environment and as a token plant one sapling that would soon be long forgotten of. And not just that,we hold drawing competition, slogan writing, elocution, essay writing etc. to mark our contribution towards the planet. That's it!

But here's Saalumarada Thimmakka for you - a 103 year old woman from Karnataka,a living example of change who in her lifetime planted 384 saplings of Banyan trees that she nurtured as her own children and watched them grow as she had no offspring of her own. 

Though she lives in extreme poverty with a meager Rs. 500 she gets as Government pension even as her bills remain largely unpaid,but today these towering banyan trees are at an economic value of Rs. 15 lakhs which are managed by the Government of Karnataka! 

With several certificates and medals awarded to her by different state and organizations,the space in her home falls short to accommodate these accolades. However she doesn't rest there basking in her achievements...she marches onward as she advocates the cause of afforestation and does all that she can to spread awareness on this burning issue that is self destructing the planet.She firmly believes that every person must leave behind an asset that would benefit the entire humanity. Saalumarada has indeed created a small haven of paradise for us all as her legacy to posterity and the banyan trees are a testament to it! Kudos's a bow to you! 

What does a Rupee get you these days? You flip a coin in a bet without caring a damn. Even if a coin slips out of your pocket, you don't feel the pinch.

But for the poor in Erode,a small town in Tamil Nadu,they have found a savior in Venkatraman who serves them a delicious meal for just Re. 1 at his AMV Homely Mess. While the cost of lunch for a regular customer is Rs. 50, Venkatraman also gives a twenty percent off for the disabled as well. 

It took just one incident at his mess to trigger this noble initiative that has blessed the people of his village and around. Eight years ago,a woman who had admitted her relative to the general hospital stopped by his mess to buy idlis for herself and her relative. When Venkatraman told her that the idlis were over and suggested dosas instead,she confided into him saying that since dosas were more expensive,she did not have money to buy food for two and hence one of them would have to sleep hungry.And that's what set Venkatraman thinking. That was the dawn of change towards a new beginning.

After that incident,he initially thought of providing free meals to the poor as well as the people and relatives accompanying patients to hospital during their stay. On sensing that they would be embarrassed at the thought of it and perceive it as charity,he was thus led to charge a token of Re. 1 for a meal. Since 2008, Venkatraman has served 40,000 Re. 1 meals! Being a man of modest means and faced with financial difficulties of his own even as prices of essential commodities continue to spiral upwards,he is undeterred. Finding solace from the divine blessings,he believes that good things have happened in his life because of small acts of kindness towards the poor. 

I salute this man and his kind initiative of sharing his meals with the poor. The task of feeding so many people around him with limited resources on board is a testimony of Jesus feeding the multitudes.

These are just three inspiring and uplifting stories that champion the cause of "change" in the ocean of humanity. Such stories will continue to create ripples around and will hold relevant at all times for it touches the very heart, mind and soul of mankind.

After all, who are these people? They are those whom I don't know and perhaps they are those whom I may never meet. But I share this unique bond with all of them through their works that are living examples of their ideas and ideals which have inspired me to come out of my cocoon and take small initiatives on my own rather than being a passive spectator to all that is happening around me. In my own little way,I have become more vocal when it comes to expressing my views and taking a stand on the causes that I hold dear to my heart. 

I begun this post on an inspiring quote by Socrates and I now end it on yet another powerful quote by Nobel laureate and playwright,Sir George Bernard Shaw who once rightly said, "Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."


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