Irrfan

“When I was 6 or 7 years, I was told about god. I used to wait and cry, I used to wait for time to pray. I literally used to wait ki prayer ka time kab hoga, and whenever I used to pray, I used to cry a lot. With that concept, I grew up and suddenly in class 10th, my teacher told me that there is no blue sky up there, its just darkness up there, and suddenly everything shattered! What? There is no blue sky up there, and I started questioning everything”-Irrfan

I think Irrfan’s attitude of questioning his believes helped Irrfan Khan transform into Irrfan.

I have watched a few of his movies. I used to like his acting. But I was not knowing him as a person.  After watching this interview of his, my respect for him immensely increased.

My understanding of the conversation that happened between Irrfan, Asha Jadeja, Sunny Singh, and Anu Aga.

We are a product of so many influences: our parents, society, insecurities, fear. One should be free of any influence or should have the wisdom to choose what is right for oneself. The bizarre thing is that every religion considers itself the best.

We should have gratitude for the people around us. They have been kind enough to help us become whatever we are! Do something for the people around you.

To solve our problems who look for a formula, we look for a person who can free us from suffering. But is there a person who is wise enough to always do the right thing and accept his mistakes when he falters? Leaving everything to one man makes us non-thinkers. No one role model, find good traits in the people around you and adopt them.

Anu Aga beautifully summed the discussion with her words of wisdom

Our stay on the earth is short, our role indespensable, and impact inconsequential.

Irrfan said the movie The Warrior changed his life. I am eagerly waiting to watch his movie, enjoy and learn from the movie. I am also looking forward to learn about life from his other interview.

My friend Vikram shared this interview, Thanks a lot to Vikram.

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Sleep: The Swiss Knife of Health

Points taken from the talks of Prof. Matthew Walker from the Center for Human Sleep Science, Dept of Psychology, University of Berkeley.

Bad Effects of Sleeping less [1]

  1. On reproductive health
    1. I would like to start with Testicles! Men who sleep 5 hr or less have significantly smaller testicles than men who sleep more than 7 hrs. Their level of testosterone is of someone who is 10 years older than them. So, the loss of sleep will age a man by a decade on this critical indicator of wellness! Similar negative effects have been found for female’s reproductive health, also.
  2. On learning capabilities
    1. We all know that sleep is required after learning to save what we have learned. But what about before learning? Do we need to sleep before learning?
      1. Yes, good sleep helps you prepare your brain for learning.
    2. Night-out i.e. waking-up all night either to complete some academic work or any work has a serious implication on our learning the very next day. There is a 40% deficit in making new memories. Its analogous with the email server and emails bouncing back. What could be the impact of this 40%? Passing or failing an entrance exam!
    3. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are diseases associated with weak memory. Another physiological sign of getting old is less sleep duration or loss of good quality sleep. There is a correlation being the loss of good quality sleep and these two diseases. A good sleep transfers data from your short term memory to long term memories.
  3. On heart’s health
    1. Every year, 1.6B people across 70 countries 2 twice a year, participate in the Daylight saving experiment. In Spring, people sleep 1 hr less. It causes a 24% increase in the number of heart-attacks in the following day. In Autumn, people sleep 1 hr more. It causes a 21% reduction in heart attacks. A similar observation is for car crashes, road accidents, even suicides.
  4. Cancer
    1. Night-time shift work has been declared as a carcinogen by WHO. It can cause Cancer of bowel, cancer of the breast.
  5. Due to less sleep
    1. There is decreased activity in genes associated with the immune system
    2. There is increased activity in genes associated with promotion with the tumor, stress, etc.

Myths about Sleeping [2]

1. Taking alcohol or other drugs for inducing Sleep:

  1. The sedation is not sleeping. Sedation removes the frontal cortex or ‘thinking-mind’ from being active. But the sleep quality is not good. People often wake-up during sleep, and thus don’t feel relaxed after waking up. Quality of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep also decreases.

2. If you have missed sleep, is there any way to recover from it? Sleep is not like a bank balance, you cannot accumulate debt. It’s not like our hunger. During the evolution process, we never had a requirement of sleeping less, hence our body doesn’t know how to cope-up with less sleep.

3. Short sleep during the week and then binge sleeping at the weekend. Those who are sleeping less than 5hrs have a 65% higher chance of dying.

Tips for Better Sleep [2]

  1. Regularity, same time sleeping, and wake-up.
  2. Giving up on alcohol, caffeine.
  3. Adjust the air conditioner’s temperature to 18-degree Celcius.
  4. Instead of tossing and turning in bed, If you are not getting sleep, engage in some peaceful activity like journaling, reading or listening to calm music, to induce sleep.
  5. No multiple alarm snoozes. Quality of sleep after waking-up to snooze the alarm is bad as the mind is mainly engaged in dreaming during such periods of sleep. You can use an alarm to indicate yourself to prepare for sleeping (brushing, journaling, etc.). Alarm sound cause Cardiovascular stress, so multiple alarms to wake-up are not recommended.

Conclusion

Reclaim our right to a full night of sleep! Sleep is like the swiss army knife of health! Good night, good luck and I do hope you sleep well!

 

References:

[1] TED Talk: Sleep is your superpower | Matt Walker

[2] How To Improve Your Sleep | Matthew Walker

 

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Tips for Conversational Competence

There are many occasions in life when we meet a lot of new people. Below mentioned points will be helpful in having a better conversation with the new people.

1. Don’t multi-task (like checking your phone and talking)
2. Don’t pontificate (speak or write and give your opinion about something as if you knew everything about it and as if only your opinion was correct)
3. Use open questions (How was your day, how do you feel)
4. Go with the flow of the conversation.
5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
6. Don’t compare your (similar) experience with that of others. Your experience of failing in an exam might be different than some-ones failing the same exam.
7. Try not to repeat yourself.
8. Don’t give many details. People don’t care about them.
9. Most Imp skill: Listen, eye contact. Listen with an intent to understand and not with an intent to reply.
10. Be brief.
11. Ask a really personal question (Name, first day in the city, where are you from)
12. Find Similarities and commonalities
13. Pay a unique compliment, be generous
14. Ask for an opinion (on something simple) and really listen to them
15. Be present (not on your phone or in your own thoughts)
16. Name, place, animal, thing (Remember their name, places they visited, their pets names, their likes, dislikes, etc)

Ref:

7 Ways to Make a Conversation With Anyone | Malavika Varadan | TEDxBITSPilaniDubai

10 ways to have a better conversation | Celeste Headlee

My Students Don’t Know How to Have a Conversation

 

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Book Review: Lying by Sam Harris

I have heard many times that “One shouldn’t lie”. Even our mythology mentions that there was a “satyug” when people always used to speak the truth. In every society, truth has a value and people also aspire to speak the truth. However, sometimes a person lies for so many small/big reasons.18869177._SX318_

The book Lying will help you in

  • Learning scenarios in which people lie
  • Advantages of speaking truth in those scenarios.

The book is very easy to read and is small with only 47 pages. So, let’s begin with defining a lie.

What is a Lie?

So, let’s understand what is a lie. When someone asks me “How are you?” and I mostly say to him that “I am fine”, although I may not be fine. Is this a lie? No, as in such a scenario even the speaker expects to hear the same thing. If he is interested in more detail, he will further talk in detail about other things also. So, a lie depends upon the expectation of people involved in a conversation. To lie is to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication. To speak the truth is to accurately state one’s belief. It is not necessary that the belief should be correct. If you ask me e.g. “Newton, were you born in Bihar?”. This is an objective question that has a definite answer in Yes/No. Now, it depends on me whether to speak the truth or lie as per the scenario. If I say “No”, I have intentionally misled you when you expected an honest reply. There can be a subjective question also e.g. “Is Bihar a good state to live?”. Now based on my understanding, I will say “Yes, it’s a good state to live”. However, my belief might be wrong. As from my side, I have honestly communicated my belief, I am speaking the truth.

Half-Truths

Some of you might remember that in Mahabharta, Yudhisthira spoke a partial truth to Dronacharya about his son Ashwathama’s death. Now, since the statement deceived Dronacharya, to me it is a lie. So, half-truths can also be lie depending on the intention of the speaker.

Why Do People Lie?

So, you have understood what is a lie, let’s understand why people lie. One can have many reasons to lie but generally, people lie to avoid embarrassment, exaggerate their achievement, disguise wrong-doing or gain undue advantage. The lair often assumes that he does no harm to other people as long as the lie goes undetected. But does the person who was lied to, shares this assumption of liar? Often, not. Research has suggested that all forms of lies – including white lies, are associated with poor quality of relationship [1]. So, if you want to develop a healthy relationship with someone, speaking truth to him/her is a vital ingredient.

What about White Lies?

White lies are lies spoken to comfort others. A classical example is when your friend dresses up for a party and asks you “Do I look fat in this dress”. If a person looks fat in a dress, it’s also the problem of dress, which can be easily changed. Now, it’s your wisdom to identify if the friend wants an honest reply. However, If (s)he does, by telling him/her a lie, you will put your friend in a situation where others at the party will notice that your friend is not dressed well. So, your reply has not helped your friend. An honest reply could have helped your friend and would have also improved your relationship with him/her. Honest feedback or sincere criticism can also encourage our friend to improve his/her flaws which will be anyways noticed by others.

Personal Examples

1. One of my friends had sent me a gift on my birthday. I didn’t like the gift and mentioned to him. Now, he has stopped sending me gifts. So, at least his time and money are saved and I am also saved from the pain of getting rude in expressing my dislike for the gift.

2. Sometimes my mother asks me if I had dinner or not? Now, I am true to her and explain to her why I didn’t have dinner yet. It gives me the opportunity to talk to her about my condition here. It helps both of us in improving our relationship.

Advantages of always speaking Truth

If people around know that you always speak the truth, then congratulations to you! Honest people like you are rare. People know that what you said is what you meant. Your praises for someone will not be mistaken for mere flattery. Speaking truth will also make your life simple as you don’t have to remember what you said to someone for a particular question as the essence of your statement will not change based on the scenario. A liar has to always remember what statements (s)he made to different people, so that (s)he can keep his/her lie undetected. Keeping so many versions of a statement in the head will make you worried.

Trust

If you have heard a person lying, your relationship with him/her changes even though (s)he has not lied to you. Now, every time your friend interacts with you, you will be skeptical if (s)he has said the truth to you. This would reduce the trust between both of you.

What about secrets? You can easily say that “I don’t want to talk on the particular secret”

I hope that review will encourage you to always speak the truth. Do also read the book to understand the advantages of speaking the truth and controlling the temptation to lie.

I was wondering if only humans lie or animals also lie. I was happy that we are not alone, Animals also lie.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern gray squirrels of North America will hold a nut in their teeth and pretend to bury it in a variety of places before actually doing so, a tactic to keep other squirrel thieves guessing, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/05/animals-lying-liars-birds-squid/

[1] Deceptive Message Intent and Relational Quality

[2] The photo of the book is taken from the Goodreads website.

Tip: At least try to not lie in front of kids as they are poor in keeping the lie hidden. Else, you can prepare yourself to get embarrassed in front of the guests.

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Paulo Coelho

Background

Paulo, a Brazilian, was born on 24th August 1947 (9 days 87518auafter India’s independence) in a catholic family and his father was an engineer. Paulo had a desire to become a writer or an artist. When he expressed that to her mother, she said that “My dear, your father is an engineer. He’s a logical, reasonable man with a very clear vision of the world. Do you actually know what it means to be a writer?

From age 17-20, Paulo was admitted 3 times to mental rehabilitation institute, but the times, he escaped from there. Later, he became a Hippi and took drugs. On his return to Brazil, he wrote lyrics for album songs. One of his critically acclaimed albums ‘Gita‘ has inspirations from Bhagwat Gita, Indian mythology scripture. Brazil was under the Military regime and Paulo was even tortured as the government believed that his lyrics have left-wing influence and are dangerous. At age 33, he married. At ~38 years, he told his wife that they have most of the physical comforts in life but he is not happy from his life and job of lyrics writer. At age 39 he experienced a life-changing 500-mile pilgrim walk (which is the theme of his first acclaimed book The Pilgrimage).

The Alchemist

alchem

He wrote the book in 2-weeks. The publisher published 900 copies. When the book sold only 2 copies in 6 months, his publisher refused to support the book further. However, Paulo had deep believes in himself and his writing. One of the lines of the book ‘The Alchemist’ was that if you firmly believe in something, the entire world will help you in achieving your dream. Hence, Paulo thought of contacting other publishers for the book. He told the first publisher that the book has been already published and has not sold much. However, Paulo also mentioned about his firm believe in the book. Hence, the publisher agreed and the rest is history.

The book is among the highest translated books in the world and has been translated into 80 languages (8 in India itself). The book has been recommended by Madaona, Will Smith, Bill Gates and many others.  So, there is something special in the book which resonates with so many people as the book has more than 100 million copies sold and has been Newyorks bestseller for 6 years.

The book talks about a shepherd Santiago and his personal journey to a treasure. What motivates me to read the book is the concept of “Personal Legend“. Personal legend is your personal calling, the things which you aspire to do, for what you think you are born. I think this aspect of the book has have touched many. I will soon read the book and publish its review.

You can listen to this podcast to know more about Paulo Coelho

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मैं और निर्माण: “मैं” से “हम” का सफ़र

Nirman

आजकल निर्माण के 10वे कैंप के लिए प्रचार जोरो शोरो पर चल रहा है। निर्माण अपने Youth for Purposeful Life का संदेश अधिक से अधिक युवाओं तक पहुंचाना चाहता है, ताकि युवा स्वयं का निर्माण कर सके, स्वयं के लिए एक उद्देश्य पूर्ण जीवन का निर्माण कर सके और उद्देश्य पूर्ण जीवन जीने के साथ साथ एक आनंदमय जीवन भी जी सके।  निर्माण की शुरवात डॉ अभय और डॉ रानी बंग ने की। दोनों को स्वास्थ्य सम्बंधित विषयों पर काम करने के लिए पदम श्री भी मिला है।

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Dr Abhay Bang and Dr Rani Bang accepting Padma Shri Award from President Shri Ram Nath Kovind

Youth for Purposeful Life

ये निर्माण की tagline है, जो एक तरह से पुरे ‘निर्माण’ प्रक्रिया का सार है । Purposeful life इसलिए जरूरी है क्योंकि अगर जीवन में लक्ष्य हो तो जीवन को एक दिशा मिलती है। जीवन में कई उतार चढ़ाव आते ही है, इसलिए दिशा भटकना आसान है। सुगम रास्ता चुनने का मन में अक्सर आकर्षण रहता है। पर क्या सरल रास्ते पर चलना जीवन में आनंद देगा? जिस तरह क्रिकेट का मैच अगर कांटे का न हो, रोमांच न हो, ऐसे न लगे की हार भी सकते है अगर अच्छा नहीं खेले, तो मैच खेलने और देखने में मज़ा नहीं आता है। ठीक उसी प्रकार जीवन है, कोई चुनौती ना हो, कुछ नया ना सीखे तो क्या जीवन में मज़ा आएगा?

Youth

जैसा कि आप जानते है युवा ऊर्जा से भरे होते है। समाज में भी काफी बदलाव लाना चाहते है। भगत सिंह (23 साल), महात्मा गांधी (24 वर्ष) चाचा नेहरू (24 वर्ष), अटल बिहारी वाजपई (16 वर्ष), सोनम वांगचुग (22 वर्ष) युवा ही थे जब उन्होंने सामजिक विषयों पर काम करना शुरू कर दिया था। आपको ये भी पता है कि हमारे आस-पास समाज में काफ़ी समस्याओं है। शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य सुविधाएं, आर्थिक विषमता, कृषि, पर्यावरण, जल, वायु का प्रदुषण इन सभी विषयों पर काम करने की आवश्यकता है। पर काम कौन करेगा? देश के युवा!

निर्माण शिविर इसलिए विशेषकर युवाओं के लिए है, जो अभी कॉलेज में पढ़ रहे है या कुछ वर्षों से काम कर रहे है और समाज के बारे में भी सोचते है। निर्माण का शिविर गडचिरोली स्थित शाेधग्राम में लगभग 9-10 दिन का होता है। शिविर में मुख्यत 18-28 वर्ष के कॉलेज में पढ़ रहे या अपनी पढ़ाई पूरी पर कुछ साल काम कर रहे, NGO में काम कर रहे, डॉक्टरी की पढाई कर रहे छात्र होते है। जीवन में इतने विविध विविध क्षेत्रों में काम कर रहे या पढ़ाई कर रहे लोगों से मैं पहली बार मिला था। और शिविर में काफ़ी हंसी खुशी का माहौल के बीच जीवन के कुछ महत्वपूर्ण प्रश्नों पर भी गंभीरता से बात होती है।

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Nirmanees at Nirman 8.3 camp

Happiness

जीवन में ख़ुशी की चाह में हर इंसान लगा हुआ है। और लगा भी क्यों न हो, विज्ञान कहता है की खुशी इंसान ज्यादा कामयाब होता है, स्वस्थ रहता है और अपने आसपास के लोगो के संग भी खुशियाँ बाटता है। मैं भी अपने जीवन में हर बड़ा फैसला ये सोच कर ही करता हु कि कुछ समय बाद इस काम से मुझे ख़ुशी मिलेगी की नहीं। रोचक बात ये है की अगर आप आनंद के विज्ञान को पढ़ेंगे तो आपको पता लगेगा की वो इंसान खुश रहते है जिनके अपने सगे-सम्बन्धियों से गहरे संबंध हो, कुछ हद तक अपने गुज़र-बसर और इच्छाओं को पूरा करने के लिए पैसा हो और एक उद्देश्यपूर्ण काम हो। ये उद्देश्यपूर्ण काम की तलाश ही है कि कई युवक/युवतियां अपनी नौकरी से ऊब कर दूसरी नौकरी खोजते है, NGO में काम करते है, स्टार्ट-अप खोलते है और ऐसे ही अन्य काम करते है। मैं भी जब अपनी नौकरी कर रहा था, पैसा तो कमा रहा था, पर जिस प्रकार तनख्वा बढ़ती थी, उस प्रकार काम में लगन या काम से ख़ुशी नहीं बढ़ती थी। तब मुझे ये नहीं पता था की एक उद्देश्यपूर्ण काम खोजना चाहिए मुझे। ये ज्ञान नहीं था कि मुझे वो काम खोजना है जिससे मेरा भावनात्मक जुड़ाव हो, जो मुझे उद्देश्यपूर्ण लगता हो। इस ज्ञान के आभाव में मैंने सोचा की MTech कर लेते है क्योंकि BTech के दिन अच्छे थे मेरे लिए। पर सच कहु तो IIT Bombay से MTech करके मुझे ऐसा नहीं लगा की मुझे अब वो काम मिल गया है, इसलिए मैं placements में भी नहीं बैठा था। निर्माण के कैंप में जब purposeful life के बारे में बात हुई और मैंने आनंद के विज्ञान को पढ़ा, तो मुझे समझ आया की उद्देश्यपूर्ण काम खोजना कितना महत्वपूर्ण है खुश रहने के लिए।

और खुश रहने की चाह ही तो सब करते है !

My Experience

मैं निर्माण 8 के शिविर का हिस्सा रहा हूं और उसके बाद मेरे जीवन में कई सकारात्मक बदलाव आए है। निर्माण में मैंने जो सीखा उसकी इन बदलावों में अहम भूमिका रही है। इन बदलावों के बारे में बात करके मैं अपने कई साथियों से निर्माण का परिचय करवाना चाहता हूं।

मेरे जीवन में कई बदलाव आए है निर्माण के शिविर के बाद:

  • पहली बार निर्माण कैंप में मैंने purposeful life के प्रश्न के बारे में शांति से सोचा और अपने लिए खुद को समझने और खुद के लिए भावनात्मक जुड़ाव वाला काम खोजने के लिए पांच वर्षो का प्लान बनाया।
  • मेरा आत्मविश्वास बढ़ा और अपने शरीर का BMI ठीक करने का मनोबल भी बढ़ा। निर्माण शिविर से आने के बाद मैंने अपने शरीर पर ध्यान देना शुरू किया। रोज़ जॉगिंग करना, व्ययाम करना और खेलना शुरू किया। 4 महीनों के निरंतन प्रयास से 6 किलों वज़न कम किया।
  • अपने आस पास के समाज को समझने के लिए, खुद के विकास के लिए और आंनद के लिए भी किताबें पढ़ना शुरू किया।
  • कई दोस्त बने जो या तो समाजिक विषयो पर काम कर रहे है, या फिर काम करने की प्रबल इच्छा रखते है। उनमें से कुछ दोस्तों से मेरी आज भी काफ़ी अच्छी और in-depth बात होती है।
  • स्वयं को समझने के लिए ध्यान करना, योगा करना, जीवन में जो हो रहा है उसके बारे में लिखना, डायरी लिखना शुरू किया।
  • परिवार और मित्रों से भावनात्मक जुड़ाव बढ़ाने की दिशा में पहल हुई।
  • जीवन लक्ष्य शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में काम करना तय किया। शिक्षा के विषय में क्या क्या काम हो रहा है उसके बारे में पढ़ना, लिखना शुरू हुआ।

एक ऐसा काम करने का फैसला किया जिससे मैं भावनात्मक रूप से भी जुड़ा हूं। अभ्यासिका से जुड़ कर मुझे लगभग 4 वर्ष बच्चों को पढ़ाने का मौका मिला। जीवन में अच्छी शिक्षा कितनी जरूरी है इसकी समझ और गहरी हुई। अच्छी शिक्षा से अच्छा इंसान और अच्छा समाज बनाया जा सकता है, इसपर विश्वास बढ़ा। बच्चों और युवाओं को अच्छी शिक्षा मिले इस विषय पर काम करने का दृढ़ संकल्प मैंने निर्माण शिविर के बाद ही किया।

Path

वो रास्ता चुनना जिससे मेरे भावनात्मक जुड़ाव हो। जो रास्ता जीवन के अलग अलग अनुभवों के कारण ठीक लगे, ऐसा रास्ता खोजना एक तरह से खुद को भी खोजने के समान है। जिस प्रकार प्रकाश की पहचान तब ही हो सकती है जब प्रकाश किसी रुकावट से टकराए, उसी प्रकार खुद की पहचान, खुद के गुण, स्वयं के मूल्य तथा प्राथमिकताओं की पहचान भी तभी होती है जब जीवन में चुनौती मिले, कोई मुश्किल निर्णय लेना हो या कई दिशाओं में एक दिशा चुननी हो। सच्चे दोस्त की पहचान भी मुश्किलों में ही होती है। निर्माण वो शुरुवात थी जहां से मैंने अपने जीवन का लक्ष्य एक समाजिक और महत्वपर्ण प्रशन को समझने और हल करने का बनाया। मार्ग में कई चुनौतियां आएगी पर क्योंकि मुझे WHY पता है, तो HOW भी हो जायेगा। जैसा की Viktor Frankl जी ने कहाँ है:  Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’

 

इस प्रकार निर्माण से जुड़ कर मैंने जीवन में एक ऐसा लक्ष्य चुना जिसमें मेरा स्वार्थ नहीं है। अपने स्वार्थ को भूल ऐसे काम को चुना है जिसमें हमारा लाभ हो। इसका ये मतलब नहीं है कि मैं अपने परिवार को भूल गया हूं। उनकी खुशी की भी मेरे जीवन में प्राथमिकता है और बच्चो और युवाओं को गुणात्मक शिक्षा प्राप्त हो ऐसे संस्थान बनाना भी प्राथमिकता है।

Process

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अगर आप भी इस मैं से हम के सफर पर चलना चाहते है, समाजिक प्रश्नो पर बात करते है और उसे सुधारने की चाह रखते है तो निर्माण के इस सफ़र में मेरी शुभकामनाएं आपको।

निर्माण 10 फॉर्म: http://nirman.mkcl.org/doc/nirman-application-form.pdf

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nirmanforyouth/

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Nirman Experience by Fellow Nirmanees

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Book Review: Goal Analysis by Robert F. Mager

goalAnalysisBook Details

Title: Goal Analysis (Image from [1]

Author: Robert F. Mager (Mager is a heavyweight in the field of training and performance improvement. He is Ph.D. in Psychology at the State University of Iowa [2])

Rating on goodreads: 3.82/5

Pages: 159

Review

Everyone wants to do something, something big, something revolutionary for the betterment of people around him/her or society at large. Some people set goals for their life (visiting all the states of India), goals for the year (visiting Ladakh) or goals for the month. Some people make career goals, personal fitness goals and goals to excel in exams. So, in essence people make various goals in life and strive to achieve them.

Goal can be easy of measure e.g. of becoming more physically fit or can be more abstract e.g. a work-life balance. It is known that achieving a goal becomes easier if it is clear. Defining a goal clearly makes the path that leads to the goal easier and the actions to achieve the goal become clear. As mentioned in the book, one of the crucial things in achieving a goals is to clearly define the goal, e.g. If you want to reduce your weight, the first thing to define is how much weight you want to reduce and within how many months. This will make you conscious of your measuring your current, desired weight and you can now break your goal in smaller monthly targets.

One of the key learning from the book is to define your goals in a more measurable way. If you can’t measure your target, you may not be able to measure your actions towards the goal and also keep track of your progress. One of the important questions to ask is

If another person had set a goal similar to yours, Can (s)he achieve the goals by performing the same actions as you are performing?.

Personal example

Let me try to illustrate through my personal experience of reducing body weight. During ~ March-June 2018, I was trying to reduce my body weight. Although I had committed the mistake of not defining the target weight I wanted to achieve, however there were few things which were as per this book. My actions to achieve the target were (1) daily evening jogging (~4 km), 2) exercise (few set of exercises), 3) diet control) 4) Logging my calorie intake (through food) and spending (physical activity) in an app 5) Regularly measuring my weight to track my progress, and 6) Plotting the measured weight (using the app). All the actions are measurable and hence I was able to reduce my weight.

When you can measure an action, your mind can easily get the feedback on whether you are doing the fixed action and also if the action is being done properly.

Your goal should talk about the ends rather then about the means. e.g. understand foreign trade rather than developing an understanding of foreign trade. Then, you should also define the goal in such a way that someone else can also figure out if you have achieved the goal and how you yourself will find out that you have achieved the goal. In some measurable goals like passing an exam, reducing your weight, it’s easy but for goals like work-life balance, it can be difficult. You can list down various actions which are required to achieve the goal and you can segregate the actions in actions which you are already doing, actions for which you are self-sufficient and actions for which you need other’s help. You can also plot a chart to track your progress towards the goal. If progress in two three actions define your progress towards the goal, you can plot them separately.

Summary

  • Define your goals clearly and in measurable way so that someone can also say that you have achieved your goals.
  • List down your actions to achieve the goal. Ask if the actions are measurable and sufficient.
  • Track progress of the actions.
  • Review periodically your progress.
  • By repeating steps 3-4, you will surely achieve your goal.

 

Note:  Please leave your comments to let me know what you liked the book review and what else I can add for the review to be more useful.

 

References

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Goal-Analysis-Clarify-Actually-Achieve/dp/1879618044

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/268336.Robert_F_Mager

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Books: My Teacher and My Friend

Main Purpose

My main purpose of reading books is to learn. I think, I feel happy when I learn new things about the world, my surrounding and about my self. One of my missions in life is to also improve myself, so self-help books are another type of books that I enjoy reading.

To understand History

The purpose to understand history is not to merely know what had happened in past. I want to understand the changes which happened in the history. To understand change and reasons behind the change, motivates me to read history. It also enables me to see changes in the present and also engineer changes (if I can, as I know the reason behind changes in the past). Also, people might not be able to fool me by telling wrong history.

Human History

To gain understanding of the world and have a world view i.e. attempt to understand why the world is like this as it is today?

  1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  2. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
  3. Guns, Germs and Steel

Indian History

  1. India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha

To improve myself:

  1. To improve my skills to interact with people
    1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2.  To understand how MK Gandhi became Bapu
    1. Understanding how Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became such an influential figure in the Indian freedom struggle. What were principles in life, what were his habits and in what ways I can learn and adopt his principles.
      1. My experiments with Truth
  3. To manage my time properly
    1. 168 Hours You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
    2. The Checklist Manifesto How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
  4. To make achievable goals in life
    1. Goal Analysis
  5. Understanding the science behind meditation.
    1. I think that its very important for me to control my mind. Everything I do, first manifests/originates in my mind. So, I want to understand my mind and ways in which meditation can help in this.
      1. Altered Traits

To understand what is happiness and how my mind works

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  2. Stumbling upon Happiness

To understand meaning and purpose in life

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning

To learn from life of others

  1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  2. Anne Frank

And also read popular fiction to enjoy them

  1. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  2. 1854 by George Orwell

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First Week at Singapore

Visiting a new place always bring new excitement, excitement of meeting new people, seeing new places and also in the process learning from the people, places and culture of the place.

Singapore-Merlion-Getty-1360x765

As a part of my NUS-IITB Joint-PhD program, I have come to Singapore (original name Singapura, Singa (Lion)) to do research work at National University of Singapore. After all the hassles of vacating the hostel and the sorrow of bidding goodbye to few close friends at IITB, once you sit in the flight you start contemplating your decisions and start motivating yourself for the bright learning future ahead. I have a close friend in Singapore named Mohit, hence I was less worried about where I would stay at Singapore and the all the concerns one can have while going to a new place. I must say that I was lucky to have Mohit in Singapore. He had come to receive me at the Changi airport (as per few reports it is the best airport in the world, may be next time I watch the airport more closely in order to appreciate its beauty). When I visited the airport last time, I found “A Million Times at Changi by Humans since 1982, video” very amazing.

In context of Mumbai

Singapore has a population of around 5.61 million in 2018 whereas Mumbai had a population of around 12.4 million as per 2011 census. Singapore has a area of 721.5 km² and Mumbai has an area of 603.4 km² making Mumbai more populous than Singapore and also having more population density that Singapore. It may also make Mumbai more difficult to manage.

Public Transport

buses

We took the bus to his home. I was happy to find that we are using public transport. I must say that public transport system at Singapore is remarkable. Till now (~10 days of stay, I have only used taxi once that too as my friend was in great hurry to reach airport) I have only used buses and MRTs maintained by SMRT (a government enterprise). Comparing it with Mumbai, I had used private taxi to reach airport as there is neither metro nor local service to Mumbai airport. Fortunately, one is available in Delhi. I was happy to see that there was not much traffic on the roads, possibly due to government’s policy of reducing number of cars in an attempt to reduce road congestion.

Also, all the MRTs + bus stops are wheel-chair friendly. They have lift facility and have small ramps of small heights. Many families with small children brought trolleys. Most of the MRTs have escalators, at time very big ones, and lifts for passengers.

strollerMRT

Also you can travel using smart-cards to pay for your travel. Same card is used for both buses and MRTs (Delhi government has launched such cards in Delhi also in Dec 2018)

smartCards

People and Their Mobile Phones

MRT_phone

I found people using their phones a lot. Although people who were traveling with a companion were spending time with him/her. However, most of the passengers who were traveling alone spent their time on their mobile phones.

Efficient Government System

I had the chance to interact with the government system while booking the appointment to my student pass. It is issued by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. The online appointment system is very efficient (took very less time (just 3-4 clicks for me to book my appointment (similar to the slot booking for passport at Seve Kendra in India). Also, when I went during the allotted time, I found the system very efficient and without much hassle, I got my documents verified and my student pass printed and handed-over to me (~ within 2 hours).

Public Housing

HDB.jpg

Almost 82% of the population in Singapore lives in government houses developed by their Housing and Development Board. Such houses are also called as HDB and have similar architecture. Then, there are apartments made by private builders are which are called Condominiums or Condo for shot. Conods may have more facilities like a swimming pool, tennis court etc. One can read more about HDB houses vs Condos also.

Cleanliness

roads

The grass on the sides of the roads and open areas adds to the beauty of the roads and also reduces dust-related pollution. Even in Boston and New York in US, I found the same strategy being adopted by the government to curb dust-pollution. I found Singapore very clean.

Fair Price Supermarkets

Till now, I have done most of the shopping from the National Trades Union Congress Cooperative operated Fair price shops. You can purchase your groceries, vegetables, fruits etc. Apart from the fair price shops you can also visit Indian stores like Mustaffa or other shops run by Indian. Since Indian constitute around 9% of the population there are few shops here being run by Indian. So, you can get Indian items although at a higher price.

fairprice.jpg

Little India

A place to visit if you miss Indian ambience, food and also want to do shopping Indian items. I was very relaxed to see so many familiar looking Indian faces at the Little India. I had gone with Mohit and my other friend Sridhar. We did some shopping and also ate at an Indian restaurant there.

Old people

Most of the old people (beyond 65) still work. I meet two old people in their 70s working as taxi driver. It appears to me that the family structure is such that children don’t support their old parent. It is predicted that Singapore’s old population will increase further.

Security

Country seems to very secure. There are so many cameras watching your every move.

Indian Food

Me and my friends cook and we cook frozen paraths (heat them). Eating out daily is presently a challenge for me. I am missing my hostel mess a lot here. Although there are so many hawker centers (they serve food for people from different countries like China, Japan, India, Western etc)  in Singapore where I find people having food, I still miss the taste and also the variety of dishes being served in my mess at Hostel 14.

maxwell-food-centre-stalls

 

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Economic Inequality in India

As per Forbes India, Mukesh Ambani‘s revenue grew by $16.9B (from March 2017 to March 2018, 1 year). $16.9B is ₹16.9*68*1B = approx ₹1150B in year 2017-18. ₹1150B in 1 year = ₹3 Billion per day = ₹30,000,00,000 = ₹300 Crore/Day.

Starting salary of an IAS officer is ₹47250/Month or approx ₹50000 (after 7th Pay Commission). In 2016, there were roughly 5000 IAS officer (5196 officer). These officers officer earn ~₹2,500,00,000 or approx ₹3Crore/month. So, 1 day earning of Mukesh Ambani is enough to cover the salaries of all IAS officer (considered as the best brains in India) in the country for 8 years. An MP in India earns around ₹3 Lakh per month. How lucrative will be the offer to an MP, MLA, IAS to work for Mukesh Ambani instead of working for people?

How lucrative is money for an IITian? During every placement session, IITian while applying for jobs, do consider how much the company is paying them and often choose for the company paying more (one of the indicators for this attraction for money is students choosing Finance, Consultancy jobs compared to core engineering jobs. Page 8 of placement report (2016-17) shows that 403 students took such compared to 345 students opting core jobs. Students while choosing engineering branches after class 12th do consider placements (in some sense, Money) as a metric to consider. Parents ask their child how much his/her friends are earning.

So, Money is an important metric considered while taking decisions in life and you can imagine the influence ₹300 Cr/day on your every day decisions in life. Economic inequality in our country in at its peak and is only increasing and India is experiencing a Billionaire Raj. There are ~120 Billionaires (2017) in India compared to ~10 in China (~2005) when our GDP sizes were roughly same.  Studies done by Nobel laureate Thomas Piketty and Oxfam conclude that economic inequality in our motherland is worsening year after year. The harmful consequences of this inequality have been well studied. Prof. Richard Wilkinson (Professor Emeritus, University of Nottingham) in his TED talk says that the economic inequality hinders people from following up their aspirations of upward mobility and leading a comfortable life.

So, do I also personally contribute to this increasing economic inequality. I was using Reliance Jio as it was giving cheap (₹93) but quality service. Today, i moved to ₹99 plan (almost same services as by Jio & also my reason to write this article) of Airtel to avoid this consolidation of consumers and money to Reliance. I personally teach under-privileged kids from nearby Phulenagar slum as I believe education in an enabler to reduce the inequality. I also donated ~5k (2017-18) to different social causes. Being aware of the importance given to money in your life decisions’s is important. Personally i find doing meaningful work and earning less more important than only earning more. This was one of the important reasons why I left my job at Huawei to purse meaningful job of a professor, educator and I am doing PhD at IIT Bombay.

How can I contribute to reduce the economic inequality? How can you contribute? Let’s ask this question periodically to ourselves.

ToDo:

  1. Clarification that the income data is for Mukesh Ambani only, not Reliance Industry
  2. How rich people negatively influence policies in their favour
  3. How Billionaires spend their money http://jeffsachs.org/2018/08/billionaires-reach-for-the-stars-while-world-suffers/
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