Perceptions determine our thoughts, emotions, speech and actions. Let’s spend the next few minutes reading amazingly empowering stories and rediscovering the positivity all around us.
Positivity Weekly will appear on this blog around the weekend. I will bring the best of news from any and every source I can access. I will include my own personal experiences, if they fit. And if you have any apt stories, anecdotes or insights to share, I will put them here with pride. In the long run, your participation will determine the quality of this initiative. Do write in with your contributions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you like this initiative, please share it widely.
News from the public domain
An inspiring public servant
Remember Collector R Anandakumar? In 2011, he created a buzz by enrolling his daughter in a government school. The Telegraph covered this unusual development here. Having been educated in a government school himself, he probably wanted to send a strong message of faith in the system he now represented. Or maybe he thought that this gesture would galvanize the school authorities to improve their standards. The man himself dismissed all speculations by saying: ‘This is my personal matter. Why make it an issue?’
Indeed! Sir, because of people like you, I will be careful about my own perceptions of Indian public servants.
Pakistani boy finds Indian saviours
People-to-people interactions are many shades healthier than government-to-government interactions. This is more so in matters pertaining to India and Pakistan. The internet is replete with heart-warming tales of kindness featuring citizens from both sides of the border. The latest such story comes to us from, of all places, Godhra!
A young Pakistani boy contracted dengue on a visit to India, rendering his family helpless. They were running out of money as well as visa time. Read this TOI article find out how this family received help from officials who mattered and the people of Godhra.
Madiba, the Great
Nelson Mandela passed away this morning, having enriched the world with his words and actions for decades. Few could bridge the void left behind by Mahatma Gandhi. But Madiba arrived as a fresh face that reiterated the Mahatma's message in his own way. He, too, has entered that rare pantheon reserved for the noblest of humans. His legacy, too, will be received by future generations with awe.
The Independent (Singapore), which is run by my journalism mentor Balji, has put together some of his profound sayings here. Let's read those empowering words and offer a silent moment of gratitude to this man who made such a profound difference to millions.
From my vantage point
A downpour of kindness
In addition to being an excellent guitarist, my friend Sudhanshu has the ability to learn from life’s loaded moments. A couple of weeks ago, Nov 24 to be precise, Bangalore received around 106mm of rain in the evening, causing flooding and waterlogging in many areas.
Sudhanshu was stuck in the ensuing traffic snarl. Many attempts to circumvent roads with waist-deep water proved futile. And as luck would have it, he ran out of fuel. He somehow made it to a petrol station to find it closed. It was already 1130. And like him, many other commuters were desperate for fuel. Some of them were pounding their fists on the petrol station’s cabin, demanding for a resumption of service. Sudhanshu, however, stood quietly in the pouring rain, feeling soaked and battered.
‘What can I learn from this?’ he wondered.
A moment later, he saw a gentleman riding a motorcycle into an adjacent home, with his daughter on the pillion. Sudhanshu approached him and made a request:
‘May I please borrow some petrol?’
The man immediately found a tube, cut it in half, sucked most of the petrol out of his bike and into Sudhanshu’s tank. And he refused to take money for this act of kindness.
Feeling rejuvenated, Sudhanshu resumed his homeward journey. En route, roads were still waterlogged. He saw an elderly auto rickshaw driver struggling to push his auto through the current of water. So Sudhanshu dismounted and helped this man. A moment later, he saw a car driver in a similar predicament. Sudhanshu helped him too.
‘Since I received kindness from a stranger, I decided to pay it forward,’ Sudhanshu explains.
That night, he slept soundly, feeling certain that all is well with the world. The next morning, he visited the kind stranger again to thank him some more.
An oasis in Madanapalle
Last year, my friend Priyamvada Muddapur quit the trappings of Bangalore to relocate to Madanapalle. Her mission: to initiate and manage a primary health care centre for a needy community. When she began her work (under the guidance of her spiritual guru Sri M), the local community was in such a dire need that people would queue up outside the centre by sunrise and wouldn’t stop arriving till around 9pm. Despite her own challenging health condition, Priyam gamely accepted those patients and did everything she could to help them. It took months for the community to experience better health, which lead to a more streamlined demand for healthcare. In this duration, she has built a strong bond with the community – and when I saw them shower goodwill and gratitude on her, I understood the true meaning of the term Mission Accomplished.
Of course, she doesn’t see it as that. She has just begun the journey of transformation. Many more initiatives line her imagination. And thousands more will experience her benignity in the years to come. Hats off to you, Priyam.
When you enable self, you enable others
Positivity begets positivity. Prasad Aluganti’s visit to the Primary Health Care centre run by Priyam underlines this theory. Since 1999, Prasad has been directing the operations of MORE (Movement for Rural Emancipation), a nonprofit organization that has been focusing on alleviating the condition of differently-abled people since 1984. Like many grassroots NGOs, MORE has focused on transformative work rather than documenting and boasting their achievements.
But we don’t need to read tomes to know the impact MORE has had on its target communities through its Community-Based Rehabilitation programs. Just this simple fact will do: in 2008, around 50 differently-abled candidates stood for the Panchayat elections in the Madanapalle division. What’s more, 26 of them won! This happened partially due to the confidence and rehabilitation they received from MORE. Earlier this year, 6 of these seasoned politicians were re-elected.
So when Prasad wanted an audience with the Chief Minister of the state to discuss some initiative, one of the winners, now a Sarpanch, told him: ‘Don’t worry. I will certainly ensure that you meet him!’
Now, that’s true emancipation!
With just word-of-mouth publicity, the first volume of Positivity Weekly reached an audience of around 350 and counting. Readers emailed and called me with their words of encouragement. Thank you all.
So it’s true. People do want good news. And as my friend Jaysal said, ‘If the world was as bad as depicted in the newspapers, we would have killed each other long ago. And I wouldn’t have agreed to bring a child into this space. The truth is that the world is a beautiful place.’
And like us, Jaysal’s newborn will witness this beauty for herself.