Posted in Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: SARVEPALLI GOPAL (Third Impression 2008) JAWAHARLAL NEHRU – A BIOGRAPHY

BOOK REVIEW: SARVEPALLI GOPAL (Third Impression 2008) JAWAHARLAL NEHRU – A BIOGRAPHY

OXFORD INDIA PAPERBACKS

Jawahar lal nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the great political figures of the century and one of the most difficult for the biographers to portray. For modern India, only Mahatma Gandhi is more elusive to the biographer grasp. When viewing the mountain, one perspective at a time is the best one can do and so with the biography of Nehru. Sarvepalli Gopal is a historian of note and so is his biography. The first sentence of chapter 1 provides the clue: The broad details of the early life of Jawaharlal Nehru are by now well known”. In fact, they are not well known except to those who have read a great deal. Even to the specialist this presentation of Jawaharlal Nehru’s life from birth to the harrow, Cambridge and inns of court years, marriage and Indira – appears not so much like a skillfully directed movie or a master novel as like a photograph album of casual if accurate insights. The person presented by S. Gopal is a historical boy and man. We must look elsewhere for details about Jawaharlal’s troubled marriage, his sister’s opinion about him, the curious situation of his having an abundance of admirers and colleges and yet a paucity of close friends, and, of course, his special affection for Indira.

Prof. Gopal’s biography does give us a tremendous amount of new information, especially from the Nehru letters to which he had access. In many cases, Prof. Gopal now lets us in on the secrets. As a good historian with excellent access in India and Great Britain, he has tracked down the minutiae of details in the archives; he has interviewed Lord Mountbatten and other former rulers in India, and he has examined the private letters and archives of Nehru’s colleagues. It is to be regretted that the thirty-year-rule of British archives prevented the author from consulting directly the papers of 1946-47 that only now are being made available.

The first volume up to 1947 covers an important segment of the Indian nationalist movement. For me, the most impressive and informative chapters are those (Ch.: 5 to 15) that narrate in such an excellent way Nehru’s political work in Uttar Pradesh, and his ascendency with Gandhi’s support to the highest level of leadership in All India National Congress. Much of this material is fresh and adds a new dimension to an understanding of Jawaharlal’s ‘greetings’ in politics. The chapters (Ch. 16 to 22) deals with World War II as it related to India – the various political crises, up to the transfer of power and independence. Here one finds the historian turning historian, and forgetting or under stressing his biographical subject.

Several strands of analysis running through this book fail to convince. One is Nehru as Marxian socialist. There is not much a proof that Nehru read Marx or understood it.  He was intellectually against the oppression of the poor but he couldn’t be called a socialist in the ‘scientific sense’.

He was convinced that science was essential to modernize India, but his grip on scientific theory and its applied use in Indian setting was based more on faith than on knowledge. Nehru was in many ways a technocrat, not a scientist, in his approach to physical and economic planning. The writer has correctly displayed minor faults of Nehru such as grand displays of temper, impossible princely behavior in political discussion and fails to nail Nehru on important errors in judgments like failing to realize the demand of Muslim league for Pakistan.

To that end, the book succeeds, and uninitiated readers are provided with a background of the Indian independence movement and post-independent India along Nehru’s political. Perhaps no other Indian leader symbolized and affirmed the pluralism of post-independent India more than Jawaharlal Nehru did. It is not surprising, then, that the book gives a fascinating account of Nehru’s commitment to secularism, to the nurturing of democracy and toward the establishment of diversity and a pluralistic setup in India’s political structure and institutions.

jawaharMany interesting incidents and anecdotes fill the book, such as that of the first national elections of 1952 when, as crowds cheered Nehru during his campaigns with “Pandit Nehru Zindabad” (Long live Nehru), he would urge them to say “Naya Hindustan Zindabad Kaye” (Long live the new India). Or of how his threats to resign both from the party and from the premiership of the country could quieten the entire opposition. Another point is drawn out by the author and unknown to most readers is the unfair criticism that Nehru has faced for having propagated dynastic rule. This was never so, and the writer goes on to tell us how Nehru never groomed his daughter Indira (later to be the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi) and often remarked “I am not trying to start a dynasty. I am not capable of ruling from the grave.” Indeed, he was succeeded by another highly admired politician, Lal Bahadur Shastri. Indira’s advent into the echelons of power was to occur later.

“My legacy to India,” Nehru had said, “is hopefully 400 million people capable of governing themselves.” Four decades after Nehru’s death, Indians have learned the habits of democracy well. As the recent election in India where the ruling party was routed out of power has shown, the people and the politicians have learned well the lessons on the power of the vote and the mandate of the people. He has written a meticulous historical biography and is to be looked upon for any information on Nehru’s work.

 

Posted in fitness, Life, Weight Loss

My Fitness Journey – The Day it all started

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I was staying at my didi’s place in Pune for my internship. It was just another day and didi asked me to get some groceries. I went down to take them, on my way back the lift was not working so I decided to climb 8 floors. It is then I realized that I am heading into a future full of disease. I had to take like 4 steps to climb 8 floors. When I reached, I was full in sweat as if I ran a marathon and came. That night I introspected a lot and made sure that I will make a difference. I decided to loose weight or rather to get fit. I will now share the things I did to get me started and the rest is history. I am taking a time frame of 15th to 30th May 2014. I will share exactly what I did then, as it is said that if you do it for first 15 days you can probably do that thing for a lifetime. It needs 15 days to change your behavior.

  • I decided to start slow but remain consistent. This is what was told to me by many but I never followed
  • I made sure that I note down each and everything I do so that I can analyze where I need improvement. This helped me in the longer term to know where I was going wrong and to decide my next course of action.get-started-food-intakeget-started-calorie-count
  • I used to mix up a lot of workouts so that my body do not set into a particular type of workout. Any routine which sets in creates lesser impact as we move forward.get-started-excersise-schedule
  • I made sure my calorie intake is less that what I am burning out to create the deficit. This was to make sure I reach my targets consistently.
  • I followed a strict schedule to have a proper sleep and food intake at specified time. Rest is equivalent of exercise during your journey.get-started-time-table
  • I started making lifestyle changes like taking stairs all time, walking or cycling to work, don’t eat late at night etc. This came naturally as I started seeing everything in terms of Calories.
  • I took small and achievable targets and made sure I celebrate my wins. I used to treat myself a chocolate every time I used to achieve what was planned. Motivation and Enthusiasm are the biggest factors in one’s success.
  • Choose an idol and always take guidance. For me, it was my cousin who lost almost 20 kg’s to become lean and fit. You will always have someone to look up to and make sure you don’t lose your path.
  • Publish it for people to see and take inspiration. A positive word from a colleague will give you a boost you can’t imagine and a negative one will give you someone to prove wrong.
  • Ignore people who always pull you down and make sure you make them part of your celebrations making them realize that nothing is impossible.
Posted in Experience, learnings, Life, Philosophy

Learning how bad our need for posession is – When I didn’t buy anything new for 107 days

Some events leave a void in your life. The emptiness which cannot be filled by anything or anyone.

A year and a half ago something like this happened in my life: my grandfather passed away.

We just had marriage in or family and just in a moment he was just not there. That day a small part of me was gone. There were so many hard parts, one of the hardest was not being able to mourn in peace.

Nope, in our society you can’t just mourn a person’s loss—you need to work. Not just at your job, but on piles of paperwork, people to let know and arrangements to be made. I had to leave for joining my first job in 3 days. Going through my grandfather’s old things, I felt the loss of my grandfather with each item I sorted. This is when I realized that we were living the life of accumulation.

We are destroying the planet and there will be nothing left for the future generation, all of this so that we can enjoy or the lifetime and the possessions we hardly use. We invest time, effort and money to get all the material possession only to be disposed of with great difficulty. And all of this for enjoying a very short time in this world with the things we rarely use and easily forget.

I then decided that let’s do something different in memory of the person I loved. So, I embarked on a journey that lasted 107 days where I didn’t buy anything new, obviously excluding groceries, medicine, and basic toiletries.

Need not greed

I have never been disciplined in buying things. I just buy it impulsively without any thought. Never thought this will give me a lot of learning along the way:

  • There is too much stuff in this world already there. As I embarked on the journey not to buy anything new. I started browsing second-hand things on online classified, Facebook groups etc. I was shocked to see the volume of the stuff we have already created and all this stuff being thrown away and new created
  • Humans buy things on pure compulsion. The number of things listed for second-hand sale in stores and groups was uncountable. Right from lock to dresses to anything was available second hand. Clearly, the act of buying is often completely disassociated with real human need, or even want. It’s much more akin to a compulsion.
  • There is a great stigma for the pre-owned items. This is attributed to hygiene, not being civilized, weird, etc. People thing that these discarded goods are only good for people of lower income group among us but not “us”.
  • There is so much abundance in our lives and in this world the made me realized that I didn’t need 6 pairs of shoes or 25 pairs of clothes. But it also made me realize that there are enough and more people to give you things you need at a very low cost as they don’t need it anymore.
  • When everything is old everything is cheap and everything old comes at a steep discount. My bank account grew very fast in these days and made me realized that I have more than enough to survive. The quality is something which I think I never compromised.
  • One more thing is it feels good to pay to people instead of companies. People are in general honest and helpful. They were normal people just wanting to recoup a portion of their purchase price by selling perfectly usable items.
  • There are some things which you cannot just buy pre-owned. When I was forced to not buy them against my strongest impulses at times, Iw as surprised that nothing changed. Most of the things are generally “nice to haves” and real needs are generally very limited.
  • Living in minimalism was a transformative journey. When someone leaves, you are expected to get past it and move on. I just didn’t want him leaving me a normal phenomenon. Hence this experience which left me better than before and a lifetime remembrance.

Sharing this has only one agenda that at the very least, I hope you’ll just change the way you think when you buy another item and thing if you really need it or not.

Posted in Experience, learnings, Life, Philosophy

Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasim

Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Enthusiasm and success go hand in hand, however, enthusiasm comes first. Enthusiasm inspires confidence, raises morale, builds loyalty and is priceless! Enthusiasm is contagious. You can feel enthusiasm by the way a person talks, walks or shakes hands. Enthusiasm is a habit that one can acquire and practice.

I am very fortunate to get a boss like the one I have at my workplace now. His enthusiasm is infectious. He is always up for any challenge and since last 1.8 years of my work I have improved a lot in the process. I owe all that to him.

Many decades ago, Charles Schwab, who was earning a salary of a million dollars a year, was asked if he was being paid such a high salary because of his exceptional ability to produce steel. Charles Schwab replied, “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among the men the greatest asset I have, and the way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.”

Many people have this question in their mind that what are leaders/ higher management in a company paid for. It is this very same reason if inspiring people to do more than they could.

“Live while you are alive. Don’t die before you are dead”

Enthusiasm and want are what change mediocrity to excellence. This gives us a chance to go extra mile out of our comfort zone and do success. This teaches us to focus and not compare ourselves with others. And keep us on toes till we finish what we started.

Always be excited about what you are doing and if you are not please change that fast. Always take challenges as an opportunity to learn new things and grow. Water turns into steam with a difference of only one degree in temperature and steam can move some of the biggest engines in the world.

That is what enthusiasm helps us to do in our lives.

This helped me in achieving the growth that I couldn’t have imagined in my personal and professional life. I created a company, ran it for successfully, Wrote a book, Created the largest verified database of providers, help run a company, publications, etc.

enthu1

Posted in Experience, learnings, Life, Philosophy

Do you have a habit of starting projects, but not finishing them?

time management, project management

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”

It might be the new business you want to start but you’re halfway working through the business plan. It might be the album which you want to launch but you’re still composing the songs. It might be the book which you want to finish writing but you’re still stuck in the late chapters.

If you have been taking action and working on your goals, that’s a big achievement and you should be proud of yourself! Getting started is your first step to realizing your goals. Most people get stuck in the thinking but not doing phase, and that’s not good because your goals won’t magically pop up one day from not taking action.

However, if you have a habit of starting many new things but not finishing them, then that’s something to look into. The whole process from starting something to completing it is a different study itself. If you have ever embarked on a project, you’d know that every goal/project comes with its own set of challenges which are not visible when you first start. For example, maybe your original idea doesn’t turn out how you would like it to be. You meet obstacles which you didn’t anticipate. You underestimated the amount of work that needs to be done. Other commitments or fire emerge that take your focus away.

Here are some Key Points which should be kept in mind, while dealing with this:

1. Be selective in what you embark on
When you start on a project (especially if it’s a big scale one), be sure that this is something you are passionate about and you want to see through. Personally, I don’t start something unless I’m absolutely sure that I’m interested in it. Though there are always some projects where you don’t have any choice. In the past, I embarked on things which I was half-interested in, for example playing cricket, some random project in the office. Eventually, I stopped them mid-way. This resulted in the waste of time and resources which could have been better utilized elsewhere. Because of that, I’m more conscious of how I utilize that time and energy. If you set a high threshold on what you want to do, the completion rate is also higher.

If you aren’t sure that this is something you really want to do, you can dip your feet into the pool first – try it out on a small scale and see if it’s what you’re interested in. For example, if you’re interested in starting a business, read up on it first. If you’re keen to be a writer, try a personal writing or open a blog and start writing or getting some freelance work. Another way is to sit on it for a few weeks. If you keep thinking about it every day for weeks, then you should probably give it a go-ahead.

2. Estimate the resources you need

In companies they do resource planning, where they estimate how much resources are needed for a project. After which, they plan the manpower and investment accordingly. For us, that means doing a quick plan on how much time and effort this idea will take so we can have a bird’s eye view.
It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. Just a quick outline will help. The point is to have something that guides you and helps you to take the decision.

3. Budget your time and energy accordingly
After you create your outline, you would have a realistic idea of how much time and effort is needed to complete it. Plan out your time and resources accordingly and integrate them into your schedule/to-do list. Block out time in your calendar for the project. Give yourself some buffer as well, in the case of contingencies.

A big reason for the loss of enthusiasm or energy is when people underestimate the amount of work needed to bring the goal to life and the dependencies which suck your enthusiasm. I remember, in my college time, I started on a different project which never saw the light of the day. I dived straight in without any plan. I just thought if I kept consistency, it would eventually be finished. I spent countless days and nights just doing without planning, but it never got anywhere after months. In the end, I was getting new ideas on new things to do, and it was time to move on to other projects.

Looking back, the biggest reasons why it was never completed was because (a) I underestimated the work required (b) I was being too hung up on unimportant details (c) dependencies which kill the momentum. That led to unnecessary redoing, which prevented me from moving forward. To this day there are multiple projects still sits incomplete in my laptop. I might get to it in the future, but not now as I’ve many things which I’m more interested in working on.

Good planning of resources helps you plan your energy and expectations. You know you must put in X hours and X work to get the final output, so you’ll manage yourself appropriately to achieve your desired outcome. That’ll lead to a higher project success rate.

4. Quit being a perfectionist
How many of us keep delaying work because we want to get it just right? I’m all for perfectionism and getting the best output, but if your desire for perfectionism is preventing you from getting things done, I think it’s good to challenge it. If you’re stalled at a stage of the project and you keep revising it, again and again, park it for a later stage and move on to a new part. Return to it later and see it with fresh eyes. You might notice that what you were hung up about really isn’t that big of a deal. Also, constantly referring to your outline is also helpful in getting perspective. Your objective is to finish the project, so keep your eyes on the prize.

If your perfectionism is preventing you from even getting started, try these two tips:
* First, break the task into many little steps, then focus on one part at the time. If you still put it off after breaking it down, then break it down even further into mini pieces. Soon, you’ll be left with such a simple task that you’ll be wondering what was keeping you from doing it from before!
* The second tip is to give yourself the permission to do a draft version. Meaning, there’s no need to get it done right the first time. Just creating a draft, even if it’s a crappy one, is better than if you didn’t do anything at all. Get yourself started and things will roll on from there.

to do list

5. Commit to it
Once you start, commit to it. Whatever you have planned, do them. Give yourself the option to exit a project if it’s not in line with your vision, but otherwise, hold yourself to your word.

Ask yourself what’s more important to you – Going out to party for the weekend or to work on that business you’ve been meaning to set-up? The former might bring you some temporal gratification, but the latter is what truly gives you satisfaction. The rewards you get from doing the latter are rewards which you’ll continue to reap long afterward.

Start more project that you can finish

(The view expressed are by a friend with some pollution from my side)

Posted in Experience, learnings, Life, Philosophy

Save yourself from loosing your path to COMPARISION

comparison

Today, let’s talk about the most common habit of the social animal, i.e, comparing ourselves with others. Before proceeding further, we all should keep one thing in mind:

“PEOPLE HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON, THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT”.

Comparing is actually one of the most important sources of unhappiness in our lives. We feel incredibly unhappy, resigned, even embarrassed, because our situation is nothing like the picture of the perfection that is painted by the Society & Media, which so result in our own unhappiness.

With the advent of social media, all we look towards is what the other person is posting, liking etc. 99% of the content shared on social media is positive. We think that his life is perfect and he is having all the fun and then we start comparing and feel bad about ourselves.

Instead, we should never compare ourselves with others, for – “Everyone has his own originality, and no one can play your role better than you”. Looking up to someone is awesome but we never realize when we start comparing and it becomes an obsession.

It’s always the point of view that changes how you see a person or a thing.  A city from the top of the mountain looks beautiful and from inside it feels too crowded.

“THERE ARE ALWAYS TWO SIDES OF A COIN”

Now let’s see how we can stop comparing.

Know Yourself and What You Stand For.

Respect and love yourself. The “ability” to stop comparing is the result of how you feel about yourself and your life today. If you have an incessant need to compare yourself with others, and you can’t seem to stop yourself from doing so, it suggests you are probably insecure or unsure about yourself (or that area of your life which you are comparing with others).  If your comparison behaviour is due to insecurity or a lack of confidence in yourself or in that area of comparison, you should build your self-confidence or your confidence in that area, instead of continually making comparisons with others (since the comparisons will never end).

Recognize Everyone and Everyone’s Life Is Unique.

As stated earlier, “Everyone has his own Originality, and no one can play your role better than you”. So, understand this thing that every person is different and everyone has his own individuality, his own capabilities, his own limits, and his own destiny. Besides recognizing the uniqueness of each person, recognize that everyone’s life is unique. There is no point in comparing yourself or your life with other people’s lives, because each of us has our unique life path that is ours to create and ours to follow. There is no need to feel compelled to live a life that is just like someone else’s, because you are different from that person. Embrace and celebrate the uniqueness and differences between everyone.

Focus on Being the Best Version of Yourself

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow-man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” It is good to refer to others as benchmarks of excellence, especially when they are doing well in the goals which you want to pursue. However, know that your end goal here is to create your unique life path and excel in your own shoes—not to be a replica of someone else. Feel free to let yourself be inspired by others, but don’t lose yourself in the fascination. Ultimately, your biggest, and only source of competition in life is yourself!

You will never know the other side of the story that what a person has been through to be where he is today. Let’s not always see the end goal but the process which leads to it. All the overnight success stories are the results of years of hard work.

Let’s take a pledge today that I will stop making comparisons between me and others. The only person I will compare ourselves is I, Me, Myself.

YOU ARE RIGHT DOSENT MEAN i AM WRONG

“THERE IS ALWAYS HIS SIDE OF STORY, MY SIDE OF THE STORY AND A THIRD SIDE OF THE STORY.”

Posted in Experience, learnings, Life, Philosophy

Getting out of COMFORT ZONE and GROWING

Where the magic happens is ouside the comfort zone

“When you are out of your comfort zone, you are already growing by default”.

The most scientific explanation of what a comfort zone is relates it to anxiety levels. Comfort zones are called comfort zones because it’s where you feel safe and comfortable. When you stay in an area of comfort, you subject yourself to things you have become accustomed to – which leads to little or no growth as their no incentive for going an extra mile. Imagine something you do all the time, like cooking dinner or commuting to work, or watching TV. Everyday activities that you’re used to won’t make you feel anxious and uneasy, so they’re part of your comfort zone.

On the other hand, if you move beyond that area of comfort, even by a bit, you start facing things which you are not exposed to before. This new context and new stimuli trigger off a reprocessing process in your mind as you adapt to handle them. This means ‘GROWTH’.

A study of mice from 1908 showed that when a task was very easy, performance increased as anxiety levels rose. When a task was harder, however, increased anxiety only helped to a point—after a certain threshold, the combination of a difficult task and high anxiety made performance drop.

The comfort zone is often illustrated in this image, where the comfort zone extends into a learning zone but eventually leads to a panic zone, where anxiety is too high. We can use this illustration to understand the results of the mouse experiment.

Comfort zone aura

Trying new things takes energy, so when we’re feeling tired or flat, we’re more likely to lean on old habits than take a new risk.

Here are some of the benefits of leaving your comfort zone and trying things that raise your anxiety levels just a bit:

IT WILL HELP YOU GROW

When mixed with the feeling of success, some anxiety and self-doubt can lead to personal growth. Therefore, outdoor adventures like rock climbing or skydiving can be so exhilarating: personally, they have given me a huge sense of achievement and increased my confidence level in general.

YOUR COMFORT ZONE WILL GROW

With small comfort zone, the things you can do without feeling anxious are less and hence when your workplace demand you to be dynamic you will end up being anxious most of the time missing out on a lot of excitement. Hence, it’s like increasing the aura of doing things. You’ll also be able to enjoy more things in life since familiarity makes us more likely to enjoy something, even if it turned us off at first.

DOING NEW THINGS MOTIVATES US AND HELPS US LEARN

Novelty tends to increase levels of dopamine in the brain, which is part of the brain’s ‘reward center’. Dopamine’s role centers around motivating us to go looking for rewards and novelty increases that urge. The novelty has also been shown to improve memory and increase the possibilities for learning by making our brains more malleable.

If you want to push your comfort zone’s boundaries but you’re not sure where to start, there’s a tool online to measure your comfort zone. How far you want to push your boundaries is totally up to you, and will probably differ depending on what else is going on in your life. The trick seems to be maintaining a healthy balance between security and comfort, and a little novelty and excitement now and then

What are your comfort zones when it comes to your work? Environment? Diet? Sleeping habits? Daily routines? Places you go to? Clothes you wear? People you hang out with? Your goals? How can you change them around just to experience something different? How can you push yourself to an uncomfortable zone so you can grow? The more uncomfortable you feel about something, the more it means you are growing, as it will create an urge in you to change the present situations, which ultimately leads to your Growth ‘n’ Success.

So, my dear friends, come out of your respective comfortable zones and start leaping towards your ‘Path of GLORY’.