Questions for self-introspection

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An attitude of gratitude

It is very important to have an attitude of gratitude in our lives.

What are you grateful for in your life? One of the techniques to immediately shift your thought process from negative to positive is to have an attitude of gratitude. It is when you start to think of and visualize the things in your life that you are grateful that you begin to shift your focus to all that is positive in your life. And what do you attract when you are in a positive vibration? Yes, you attract vibrations that are in harmony with your current state of vibrations. Everyday, think of at least one thing in your life that you are truly grateful for – your family, your wisdom, your consciousness, your lovely pet, etc. – and thank someone (either God or whomever you consider to be the all pervading energy) for that.

The Universe is neutral. It will give you what you ask from it. You can never really attract positivity by always complaining of your present state of affairs. You need to make a conscious effort to think and act on achieving positive outcomes.

 


Read Sandeep Manudhane‘s answer on Quora on What is your most important tip?

Top 5 quotes on Happiness

Happiness is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of human existence. Not only does it instantly shifts our state of minds, it helps us in attracting all the good that is there in the Universe. When we are happy we come in a positive (healthy) state of vibration. Thus we tend to attract all those energies (vibrations) which are in harmony with our present state of mind. That is precisely the Law of Vibration.

Here, I present to you my selection of top 5 quotes on Happiness which will be really helpful in shifting your state of vibration.

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My encounter with a bully

I am reminded of a series of incidents that happened with me for a period of over two weeks while I was at Nandyal (Andhra Pradesh, India) working in a cement manufacturing plant. When I was assigned to come in shifts, I happened to be in a team that was led by a shift-incharge, years my senior (31 years of age at that time, regarded as the go-to person by many in Nandyal plant), who bullied me many times in control room, and while we used to wait at the bus stop. During the starting times when he met me, he used to provoke me quite often, sometimes staring at me for no reason, slightly pushing me, ragging me (by regularly asking me why don’t I drink or smoke, that I am unfit for a plant job, though I must admit I never felt like being ragged) in company of other operators. When these incidents got to my mind and I was at a peak of outburst, I remember anxiously sitting in the plant bus planning my strategy as to how I was going to tackle him today – Should I straightaway warn him? Should I take up this matter with my supervisor (my supervisor was a mature and an able person)? Should I talk to my parents? Should I talk to Biswa (who is one of my close friends, as I was reminded of him)? Should I just act differently so that he sees me not as a person different from others, and so that he is pleased and we don’t bother each other much? or Should I just leave this job? (This all happened for a period of one to three weeks, and was at its peak for one or two days)

I did not take any action against him. But then things started to change. Upon reflection, I realised that I just did these things – I did not change my personality to suit him, I did not pretend to be a different person than who I was then, I stuck to my basics on how to deal with people the way I have had done previously. Because I knew that I was not wrong, and like many things, this too shall pass. I just kept calm and kept faith. One thing that I would like to state at this point is that the bully perhaps does not realises how much of an emotional impact (I remember Biswa calling me over phone and crying!) he can have on his junior colleagues.

Now that same person whom I used to hate the most in the plant became one of my best colleagues in the plant. Perhaps he slowly started to realise that I was not faking (for example- as I don’t drink or smoke, he forced me several times to start drinking (I have realized people do this to make a political statement)). Perhaps I was able to give him a different perspective. He started to joke with me quite often and talk about his son, he started to teach me mill operations from control room, he sent me an FB friend request, he helped me plan my travel to home, he gave me his phone number in case of any help, and many other things. What happened is that his attitude towards me changed. Now as I look back I find it funny that how I used to be so disturbed by this man, as if he was the biggest problem in the plant. I talked to him over phone day-before-yesterday and he invited me to visit Nandyal.

Now things could have turned very differently had I reacted too much during those times, I do not deny this. But I did what I felt was the best I could do at that time. I am happy that this happened to me as it gave me a perspective and taught me lessons.

Now it is very much possible that the person (the bully) may read this account and feel shocked and then go on to give a completely different narrative. That’s the beauty of it, each one of us have a unique experience and perspective on looking at things. Our thinking makes something good or bad, otherwise it is just as it is.

Do we need a college degree to be successful?

It is true that skills, and not degrees, take us far in life. But it is also true that we need degrees to enter into the job market in India and in many other countries. This debate of “whether we really need a degree” is also common to other countries, even to the USA. In the present scenario, to be eligible for a professional job, it is a must to have a degree to back your credentials as it supports the job applicant’s resume. Certain professional fields which are too much subject-specific such as law, medicine (MBBS, MS), academia (teaching) necessarily require a degree and it is not possible to embark on such professions without them. While certain other professions such as public speaking, entrepreneurship, sports, do not require educational degrees as such.

Only 2 per cent out of the 15 million workforce which is added per year is job-ready. Other than the problem of an ever-increasing population, a big part of this problem lies with our education system. Since school we are taught and encouraged to be hard-working individuals who can add to the workforce of the country, and not so much on creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. The reason why creativity and innovative thinking are not encouraged in our school and university education can be attributed to the following reasons. One, students in schools (especially after entering secondary and senior-secondary classes) are under a constant pressure to perform in regularly-conducted tests and assessments. Two, teachers in private and government schools and colleges, many of whom are disinterested in their professions, are not periodically evaluated and assessed so that they can be trained on their teaching skills (communication skills, audio-visual presentations, conducting smart classes, etc.) which they might be lacking in. If a university teacher is disinterested in teaching or considers her profession as a burden which is to be transferred onto the students, or is lacking in communication skills, how can she motivate and generate interest among the students to think outside the box? Encouraging thinking outside the box will lead to innovative ideas, some of these ideas will be acted upon and that will lead to job creation. Three, tendency to streamline the system by laying over-emphasis on grades. Students end up studying just for marks with little guidance by parents/teachers to help them see the bigger picture.

Parents, in turn, just reciprocate what our education system demands. Every other parent wants his/her child to go for engineering education so as to be able to secure a well-paying job which indicates their concern borne out of insecurity for livelihood and sustenance. As an example, engineering education has failed terribly in India because of its degrading quality and low-quality output. Too many entrants has lead to too many colleges compromising the quality of engineering education. Engineering colleges have ended up producing generalists instead of specialists – how much of these generalists are job-ready?

To tackle unemployment, other than job guarantee schemes like MNREGA, the government has focused on imparting job-specific skills (eg. schemes like Skill India). Entrepreneurship, which does not require educational degree and which can create multiple jobs at a time, has also been encouraged through schemes like MUDRA and Startup India. Renewable energy sector, especially the solar energy sector, has seen an amazing growth in Asia since 2011. Around 60 per cent of global jobs in renewable energy sector have been created in Asia, with China topping the list.

Degree’s role is limited to validating skills and ensuring eligibility for a particular set of jobs. Job-specific skills, and not degrees, will help us in progressing in our careers. As students, one way to ensure our future in this insecure world is to work very hard on our skills, both the soft and the hard ones.

Reinventing the sanitation projects in India

One of the deterrents that could prolong or possibly halt our dream of becoming a “developed” nation in the coming years is the lack of health and hygiene and the absence of widespread ground-level actions. It is this lacking that is also responsible for widening and retaining the gap between the wealthy in a clean surrounding and the poor in a city slum, the urban formal settlements and the urban informal settlements, in our country. Proper sanitation has a crucial role to play in bridging this gap as it is directly linked to the physical health and subsequent well-being of the people living in that area. In India the practice of open defecation is still prevalent both in urban settlements and rural areas. India has the world’s largest number of people defecating in the open (around 600 million in 2012) which includes approximately 70% of its rural population. This figure is particularly alarming because open defecation has a much more adverse effect on a densely populated country such as ours. It causes and spreads diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and intestinal infections, etc., and is responsible for increasing child mortality. Other far-reaching effects include fatality, undernutrition and stunted growth in children, loss of dignity for women and increased rates of crime against women as they are forced to go out in the open in secluded areas, river pollution and soil pollution.

Government initiatives such as Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CSRP) and Total Sanitation Campaign (Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan) have achieved limited success in their terms. Even though government surpassed its own target of building 6 million toilets by constructing 8 million toilets in 2015-2016, sanitation largely still remains a widespread problem in India. This calls for participation of more private companies as well as common people to end this problem. Two of the major reasons for people still practicing open defecation are non-availability of toilets because of poverty and “behavioral mindset” of the people who still do not realize the importance and interlink between water, sanitation and hygiene.  While the former can be tackled by providing more and more infrastructure for toilets, the latter requires creating awareness among the people about this evil practice and change in their mindset, who are still traditionally bound to defecate in the open air.

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The Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) was renamed Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan by Manmohan Singh, and later restructured as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by Narendra Modi in September 2014. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was officially launched on 2 October 2014.

Sanitation projects in a populated country like India require participation of people to be popular and successful. Integrating the two approaches of simultaneously building infrastructure and creating awareness among people can help in making Indian villages and slums “open defecation free”. Providing sustainable sanitation facilities by incorporating affordable toilets which are easy to use and clean, strong and all-weather resistant, building toilets inside or in very close vicinity of households can help eradicate open defecation. Building easy-to-use toilets integrated with a composter will prevent spread of diseases, water and soil pollution. Designing mobile toilets, toilets with an in-built alarm system for women, toilets with provision for urine diversion and providing recyclable toilet bags for people in remote areas can also be effective in reinventing the sanitation project in our country.  Another aspect of the sanitation project is to teach people about the importance and necessity of maintaining hygiene in their surrounding through audiovisual presentations, as spread of diseases is more prominent in a densely populated area lacking awareness. Encouraging people, providing more incentives and awarding households for installing toilets, even if on a time-bound basis, will increase the participation of people as well as popularity of these projects. Educating women and school going children in rural areas about the benefits of cleanliness and its healthy impact on mental and physical well-being will cause awareness among the rural masses.

The objective of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign) to make India open-defecation free by 2019 can be achieved if we are willing to engage ourselves to contribute our part to tackle the sanitation problem. With all these efforts it will be a matter of time when every Indian truly experiences that “Cleanliness is Godliness”.