Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Power of ‘One’ to make a change

This story is apt for a country like ours. If we want to make a difference, all it takes is one person to start making the difference. The effect is contagious and it spreads like wild fire…the enthusiasm grabs everyone around.

the power of one to make a changeNarayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything.

 “I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” Krishnan said. “It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime.”

Krishnan was visiting a temple in the south Indian city of Madurai in 2002 when he saw the man under a bridge. Haunted by the image, Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny. “That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame — to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves,” Krishnan said.

Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — to India’s homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused. “Because of the poverty India faces, so many mentally ill people have been … left uncared for on the roadside of the city,” he said.Video: Akshaya Home

Krishnan’s day begins at 4 a.m. He and his team cover nearly 125 miles in a donated van, routinely working in temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit. He seeks out the homeless under bridges and in the nooks and crannies between the city’s temples. The hot meals he delivers are simple, tasty vegetarian fare he personally prepares, packs and often hand-feeds to nearly 400 clients each day. He says many of the homeless seldom know their names or origins, and none has the capacity to beg, ask for help or offer thanks. They may be paranoid and hostile because of their conditions, but Krishnan says this only steadies his resolve to offer help.

“The panic, suffering of the human hunger is the driving force of me and my team members of Akshaya,” he said. “I get this energy from the people. The food which I cook … the enjoyment which they get is the energy. I see the soul. I want to save my people.”

By Danielle Berger, CNN April 2, 2010

The Initiative of ‘One’

It’s very easy to sit back and complain about how we were negatively impacted by the actions of those around us. This is a story about a regular business person who actually stood up and did something. This positively impacted thousands of commuters on a daily basis…the initiative of “ONE”.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-black-silhouette-tow-truck-image23994460Thai Businessman Chetsada Wiangket doesn’t sit in Bangkok’s notorious traffic snarls wishing for a subway of skytrain to be built. He’s too busy thinking up ways he can help ease the problems of driving in the city. Since February 1994, for example, Chetsada has installed nearly 100 emergency two-line stations beside busy highways and at traffic-police kiosks.

He thought of the tow line when his old car overheated, blocking an entire lane until a tow truck could get there. “A broken-down car can worsen traffic considerably, “says the 38-year-old ice-cream distributor and manager of his family’s medicine company. His idea was that, if a driver had a tow line, he could ask a passing taxi to pull his car to a petrol pump.

Chetsada started placing small signs announcing the emergency service near busy highways. A tow line was attached to the sign by a hook. Drivers used the lines, but failed to return them. Delighted nonetheless, and encouraged by traffic police, Chetsada embarked on his campaign in earnest.

He built larger steel signs, on each of which he included a diagram illustrating how to use the lines and a request to return them. The line is chained to the stand, and users must ask traffic police in the area for the key.

Then, fearing that his service might put an extra burden on the police officers, Chetsada decided to cool them off, literally, with ice-cold towelettes in their tricycles’ refrigerator compartments and give one to any policeman they see. “Sometimes officers put them under their caps to make the heat more bearable,” says Chetsada.

The father of three says his wife, Nithiorn, is a motivating force behind his Samaritan projects. “At first she called me crazy. But I’m the type who is fuelled by insults,” he adds.

While receiving no monetary rewards, Chetsada said the compliments he receives from all sides are reward enough. “These days everyone is out for himself. But if we all do nothing – just wait for that skytrain or subway to materialize – we could be waiting forever.”

Source: Reader’s digest, 1997

The Determination of ‘One’

In a lot of Development indices, “development” is often measured in terms of how much a nation can consume. If we all look at ways to save & re-distribute, the world will be a happier place for all. This lesson applies to all of us that work in the corporate space as well.

The-determination-of-OneEach year Tokyo’s 23 municipalities collect 235,000 abandoned or illegally parked bicycles from the street. Many are reclaimed by the owners, but until 1987 the rest, even those in good repair, were routinely destroyed. That’s when Masahiko Mizushima, then 47, was appointed manager of the bicycle-affairs division of a municipality in northeast Tokyo. Mizushima, disturbed by this waste, wondered, “Isn’t there a use for these bikes somewhere? Maybe they could be donated to developing countries.”

But how could a local official setup an international aid programme?

Mizushima met a Malaysian diplomat who was enthusiastic about his idea. An orphanage was selected as a worthy destination for the bikes. Mizushima chose the best bikes, arranged for retired mechanics to recondition them, and soon 75 were on their way to the orphanage.

Mizushima visited the orphanage a few months later, and was pleased to see children using the bikes to get to school. “The children were very happy, and so was I.”

Encouraged by the success of his initial effort, Mizushima teamed up with the Japanese Organisation for International Cooperation in Family Planning, which had experience aiding developing countries, and in 1988 sent 375 reconditioned bicycles to Malaysia, the Philippines and Zambia. By then his efforts were being noticed by government officials. He recognized a committee of 14 local government bodies and the family-planning organization, which, supplemented by other donations, funded the project. Mizushima was named executive director.

It was hard work. A bicycle shipment could take months to arrange, keeping Mizushima at his desk many nights, away from his wife and children. But he had turned his idea into reality.

Every year the number of bikes sent overseas increases. Since the programme began, more than 10,000 bikes have gone to 24 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Mizushima is happy with the results of his gesture of good will, he says, adding that like everything else in life, it just took determination. “If you really want to get something done, you can somehow, some way.”

The vision of ‘one’

To us this is a story that proves how much can be achieved, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties, if one has the vision and the will do it.

the vision of oneAs he hears the squeals of laughter from a nearby classroom, even a heavy beard cannot camouflage the hint of smile on Deodhari Karmali’s visage. It is not without reason. His school – Viklang Vidyalaya – that he started in 1987 has 112 students, including 22 girls, today. All the school’s students and six teachers are physically handicapped, including Karmali himself.

For Karmali, the youngest of nine children, setting up a school was the last thing on his mind. The son of a casual labourer from Murubanda village in Bihar’s Hazaribagh district, he wanted to join the army. However, his life took a different turn at 15 when he lost his right hand in an accident. The disability was only physical as it did not impair Karmali’s mental courage. Two years later, he founded a school for physically handicapped children at Sukari-garhalari village.

Running the school has been no mean task for Karmali. Earlier, parents were reluctant to send their handicapped children to the school. This despite the fact that he charged no fees, distributed free books and even provided meals. But his labour and commitment – he would raise money by growing vegetables – saw Karmali’s dream take shape.

The school’s first batch had 12 students. Money is a constant source of worry as the school requires at least Rs 60,000 a month to sustain itself. But Karmali is undeterred: “If God has deprived me of one hand at least he has given me a mind which always thinks about the betterment of others.”

For Karmali’s wards, their master’s life is inspiring enough. All of them want to follow his footsteps. Mukesh Kumar, 10, wants to help Karmali once he is able to stand on his own feet. “But for Guruji, we would have been begging for alms,” says 12-year-old Sudhir who has lost both his legs.

As for Guruji, he is happy that his school is well into its eleventh year. “Hard work and determination have brought us here,” says Karmali. “I often forget that I have a handicap. Now it makes no difference to me.”

But a difference it has certainly made to 112 handicapped children. With Viklang Vidyalaya, Karmali has shown to the cynical villagers that mental strength can transcend physical barriers.

Source: India Today, 19 October, 1999

The Contribution of ‘One’

Our theme for the next 2 weeks is the ‘Power of One’. We have been inspired to do this section by the number of voices we hear in the training room and outside about not being able to make a positive contribution because of the negative lag of team members, the boss, the environment etc….These real life instances show us quite the opposite…Here’s to the ‘Power of ONE’

the contribution of oneIn April 1995, Craig Keilburger of Toronto, Canada, then 12, read about the death of Iqbal Masih, a boy his age in Pakistan who had spent six years chained to a rug loom working in conditions approaching slavery. Iqbal had escaped and joined a crusade against child labour. He had been shot dead in the street.

Craig vowed to keep Iqbal’s cause alive. He started Free the Children, a human-rights group run by kids. Soon Craig felt he had to meet the children he was trying to help. He took a seven-week trip to Bangladesh, Thailand, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

He discovered child labour everywhere – a girl bagging sweets 11 hours a day, a boy stitching footballs. “I met one eight-year-old girl pulling apart used syringes and needles for their plastic,” Craig remembers. “She wore no gloves.”

The Canadian Prime Minister was in Asia at the same time, discussing export-import deals. Craig met him to talk about the children who made some of those exports. Since then the government in Canada has moved to get tough on its trading partners.

Craig has singlehandedly awakened many to the suffering of an estimated 200 million children. “Why you?” he was asked.

“If everyone said ‘Why me?’ nothing ever would be accomplished,” Craig explains. I’ve met those children. I’ve read the story of Iqbal Masih. Why not me?”

Source: Ed Bradley, “60 minutes” (CBS)

The Power of ‘One’

Often in our training sessions we are asked, “How can I as an individual make any difference to the way things are done if people around me don’t support me?” Since we feel very strongly about transformation one committed individual can bring about, we present to you our topic for this fortnight.

the power of oneVishweshwar Dutt Saklani, also known as ‘Vriksha Manav*’ turned 91 today but his spirit to conserve environment by planting saplings is as young as a teenager. Born on June 2, 1922, Saklani had been a freedom fighter before he took up the cause of the environment in the post-independent India. It was his unwavering commitment to save the environment that made him plant and nurture number of trees in his native Pujargoan in Saklana Patti of Tehri district.

Saklani got the idea off tree-planting in 1948 after he lost his brother, who had begun planting trees just before he passed away. Grief-stricken, Saklani used to roam the hills to seek solace. It was during this dark period that he decided to create a fitting memorial to his dear departed.

Beginning by planting acorns on a barren patch near his house, Saklani gradually moved further afield. As a part of his commitment to the environment and in memory of his brother, Saklani raised 70 nurseries and planted more than 50 lakh saplings of trees like oak, rhododendron, cedar and walnut, turning an area of 120 hectares in Pujargoan into a lush green forest. He, thus, named this forest ‘Nagendra Dutt Saklani Van*’.

Saklani’s labour of love has not only made him a more serene man, he’s brought life back in its myriad form to his area. Hillsides, once denuded by indiscriminate timber- feeling and quarrying have become green. Thanks to the trees having taken firm root, the soils of terraced fields have stabilized and once-dry streams are flowing again. The villagers’ traditional sources of fodder and fuel have been restored, and even birds have returned to the area. In recognition of his amazing achievements, the government gave Saklani the prestigious Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra award in 1986.

Saklani’s zeal of plant trees on every barren patch of land earlier brought him in conflict with uncomprehending villagers and officious bureaucrats. But his transparent sincerity and the benefits of his work gradually won people over, inspiring other individuals and organizations in the region to take up their own tree- planting programmes.

For Saklani, a lot remains to be done. “If you don’t cover the land with trees,” he warns, “the soil will get washed away and then there will be no more land left- for you, me, or anyone.” He firmly believes that every Indian must at least plant one sapling on the occasion of birth, wedding or even a death in his family. He said it was important to save the environment.

Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh June 2012

*Van (Hindi) means a forest

*Vriksha Manav (Hindi) means The Tree Man

S-t-r-e-t-c-h as a Strategy

When we think of the word “stretch”, for most of us it conjures up an image of working harder. However, stretch is very often about “Stretching” & challenging our mind to look beyond conventional wisdom and come up with a unique solution. This can happen at every level. Here’s a story on this theme.

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-as-a-StrategyHaving fled Seoul during the Korean War, we lived as refugees in Taegu. My father had been kidnapped and taken north, and my older brothers were serving in the army. It was up to me, at the age of fourteen, to earn a livelihood for the rest of the family. There was not much that a fourteen-year old could do in the chaos of the war, but fortunately one of my father’s former students, who worked at a newspaper, arranged for me to sell newspapers.

I usually sold the papers to the shops in the crowded Pangchon market in Taegu. As soon as I got the papers I ran to the market. If I lost time selling a couple of papers on the way, I could lose the market to other paperboys. So I was always the first one at the market, but I still could not capture the whole market, because I lost valuable time giving change as I sold to people in the first third of the market. During those precious moments, the other newsboys would catch up and pass me, securing the rest of the market for themselves.

In order to feed my family, I had to sell a minimum of the hundred papers a day; my mother and two younger brothers were always anxiously waiting for me at home. I had to come up with a new method to sell more papers, so everyday before I started I would make sure I had plenty of change ready. I was able to save important time by tossing the folded bills of change with the paper, grabbing the money, and running to the next shop. In that way, I eventually was able to capture about two-thirds of the market. But the other kids were still catching up with me.

I had to improve my tactics, and I did. I just ran through the market tossing the papers to the shops- nobody could catch up with me. Then I could take my time making my way back through the market to collect the money. Not everybody paid each day, but I was able to sell all my papers and usually was able to collect what was owed to me within a couple of days. After about two months, the other paperboys had given up completely, and I had the market all to myself.

Source: Every street is paved with gold by Kim-Woo-Jung, founder and chairman, Daewoo.

S-t-r-e-t-c-h against all odds

Most of us want to achieve spectacular success in life. A bird’s eye view of most people that fall under this category tells us they have “stretched” normal limits tremendously. Here is a story of “Tiger” Pataudi to illustrate this point.

Stretch against all odds[Tiger Pataudi lost sight in one eye as a result of a car mishap when in his early 20s. He describes adjusting to life in the first few weeks after the accident.]

… three or four weeks after my operation, I was back in the nets, trying to find out what difference the accident had made to my batting. As any boxer who has had one eye closed by the blows of an opponent will tell you, it causes loss of perspective of judgement and distance. For example, when trying to light a cigarette I found I was missing the end of it by a quarter of an inch. I was also liable to pour water from a jug straight on to the table, instead of into a tumbler as I intended. But gradually I got the trick of performing such actions, finding it quite possible to adjust.

But my batting needed sorting out…on the whole I found out I favoured the quicker stuff. Slow spin was so difficult to follow in flight, but gradually I learnt to judge pace by the amount of flight and the effort that the bowler was putting into it.

I aimed to get bat and pad right behind the line of anything straight and play the ball with studied care, but if the ball was off the wicket I took the opportunity to play a full-blooded aggressive shot. It was a question of finding out my limitations and then playing strictly within them.

As far as everyday life was concerned it did not take me long to get adjusted. Mind you, I still find it difficult to drive at night because the headlight bothers me. For this reason I have stopped driving altogether in England. In India, the worst thing is overtaking when another car is approaching on the other side of the road – I find it difficult to judge precisely how far away the other car is. Mostly I don’t bother to try to distinguish colours with my injured eye, but if I close the good one, colours seen from a distance of a few inches are fine.

Having been granted leave of absence from Oxford University for one year, largely because I was told I wouldn’t be able to read for some time, I returned with my mother and sister to India in order to recuperate. Back home people didn’t realise to what extent my eye had been injured and I, determined to play as much cricket as possible, did not of course encourage their curiosity. When asked by the captain of the President’s team against the visiting MCC team under Ted Dexter, at Hyderabad, I jumped at the chance.

… we batted, and for my own moment of trial I decided to try to wear a contact lens in my right eye. To my discomfort I found I was seeing two balls, six to seven inches apart. By picking the inner one I managed to score 35 runs before tea. Then I removed the contact lens and, keeping the bad eye closed, completed a top score of 70 before being caught by Ken Barrington off the bowling of Tony Brown.

Source: Tiger’s tale by Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi

S-t-r-e-t-c-h for Strength

Being strong is about preparing ourselves – both physically and mentally – for the tests that life puts us through. Here’s a story by Stephen Covey about how the concept of S-t-r-e-t-c-h helps us develop emotional and mental toughness.

Stretch for strengthI was in a gym one time with a friend of mine who has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. He was focusing on building strength. He asked me to ‘spot’ him while he did some bench presses and told me at a certain point he’d ask me to take the weight. “But don’t take it until I tell you,” he said firmly.

So I watched and waited and prepared to take the weight. The weight went up and down. And I could see it begin to get harder. But he kept going. He would start to push it up and I’d think, ‘There’s no way he’s going to make it.’ But he’d make it. Then he’d slowly bring it back down and start back up again. Up and down, up and down.

Finally, as I looked at his face, straining with the effort, his blood vessels practically jumping out of his skin, I thought, ‘This is going to fall and collapse his chest. Maybe I should take the weight. Maybe he’s lost control and he doesn’t even know what he’s doing.’ But he’d get it safely down. Then he’d start back up again. I couldn’t believe it.

When he finally told me to take the weight, I said, “Why did you wait so long?”

“Almost all the benefit of the exercise comes at the very end, Stephen”’ he replied. “I’m trying to build strength. And that doesn’t happen until the muscle fiber ruptures and the nerve fiber registers the pain. Then nature overcompensates and within 48 hours, the fiber is made stronger.”

I could see his point. It’s the same principle that works with emotional muscles as well, such as patience. When you exercise your patience beyond your past limits, the emotional fiber is broken, nature overcompensates, and next time the fiber is stronger.

Source: The 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey.

S-t-r-e-t-c-h as a habit

If you have ever wondered why some people get more out of life than others given the same set of circumstances, you only have to read the story of Colonel Subhas Bakshi.

Stretch as a habit[Colonel Subhas Bakshi went eyeball-to-eyeball with death twice – and the other guy blinked. He made Stretch a habit, benefiting not just himself but thousands in the hinterland of Ranchi where he lives today. Here is an excerpt of his interview.]

Two instances where my life was saved can be attributed directly to the concept of Stretch.

I was on an Army posting near Sikkim in 1964. One of my assignments was to inspect the terrain around Nathu La Pass. I had a team of eleven with me. While we were walking through the area, there was a landslide. It happened so suddenly that we had no time to react or take over. I was luckier than my colleagues who died immediately – from the waist downwards I was buried in the snow. From the waist upwards I was out of the snow. But this first slice of luck was no guarantee of survival. So I did two things – I began shovelling the snow from in front of me to would create some hollow which would enable me to escape. However, the hollowing only arched my body lower into the pit I had created, making breathing difficult. So I had to scoop all the snow back into the pit and lie flat again. By the end of it, I was in serious danger of getting a frostbite so I decided to lay still.

Lying still created its own complication. I was in the danger of falling asleep. At that temperature, sleeping would have meant death. So I kept talking to myself so that my mind would remain occupied – for 18 hours. Until the search party spotted the debris and identified me under it.

This will to stretch is habit-forming. The following year, I was posted in the front near Sialkot in the war against Pakistan. A bullet went through my neck and the doctor who inspected me considered me to be too useless a case for even medical attention. I was refused place on the ambulance that would have got me to the nearest hospital 40 kms away. The doctor’s logic: he would rather allot the place to someone who had a chance to live.

I begged the doctor would permit me to sit on the steps of the ambulance just outside the door. He said he didn’t have a problem: I wasn’t going to eat into anyone’s sleeping space inside the ambulance and if I fell during the course of the journey, I wouldn’t be his responsibility either. I survived the journey. I begged the nurse in the hospital to treat me first since I was on the verge of collapse – and survived that as well.

Today, I am retired from the army and have dedicated my life to social welfare in one of the poorest regions of India. I work in bringing crops to regions that were never arable, perennial water to areas that could never hold the rain, electricity to villages that had never ventured beyond candles and education to people who had never gone beyond their finger-prints. Not easy. Considerably more difficult than when I lay facing death under the snow or on the edge of the ambulance more than 50 years ago. If I have been able to succeed, it is because Stretch can really be habit-forming.