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Never be happy with what you know

Indra Nooyi is an India-born, naturalized American, business executive and the current Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world. She has consistently ranked among the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women and in 2014, she was ranked 13 in the list of Forbes World’s 100 most powerful women.

I was watching NDTV’s 25 Greatest Global Living Indians ceremony on television where she was recognized as one of them and listened to her three lessons for young people:

First, be a lifelong student. When we are kids we ask questions like “why is the sky blue” and “why the bird is flying so high”. For some reason as we grow older the curiosity goes away. If we are happy with the knowledge we have then we are actually going to atrophy. Please remain lifelong student and don’t lose that curiosity.

Second, consider your job be a calling. Whatever you do, throw yourself into it. Throw your head, heart and hands into it. She says, “I look at my job not as a job but as a calling and a passion. I don’t care about hours, hardships because everything is a joy.”

Third, help others rise or come up in life. Greatness comes not from a position but from helping build the future.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” There is no end to education. Education is a life-long process. From the moment you are born to the moment you die, you are learning. The more you learn the more you realize how little you know.

Quote: “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”  – Albert Einstein

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IAS topper, who failed sixth grade

When Rukmani failed in Class VI, her parents were upset and sad. Her teachers scolded her. Her friends laughed at her. The Neighbours said that she lacked intelligence. Relatives advised her parents to send her for tuition.

Rukmani alone knew the reason for her failure. She knew she had not paid attention in class and that she was careless about study. When the parents arranged for tuition, she rejected it and decided to challenge herself. She made up her mind to work hard and give her best.

That’s what she did. She never failed again. She passed her secondary and higher secondary with high percentage. Twice she won gold medals in her college studies. She passed her Masters from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Her desire shifted to IAS. She not only passed her IAS in the first attempt without any coaching but secured Second Rank in the Country in 2011. She is none other than Rukmani Riar from Chandhigarh. Just think of it, IAS topper, who failed in Class VI. The reward of determination, hard work and perseverance!

Achievers get to the top of a mountain by climbing it. James Allen says, “The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” According to Napoleon Hill, “When your desires are strong enough, you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.”  True brilliance shines anywhere. No one can put a limitation on you, except you. Where there is a will, there is always a way out!

Quote: “To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France

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1009* at fifteen 

Pranav Dhanawade, son of an Auto rickshaw driver at the age of fifteen became the highest run-scorer with his 1,009*. This is the first four digit score by an individual in an official match, surpassing 13 year old Arthur Collins’ 628 in a house match in England in 1899. Dhanawade is a student of Class 10 of KC Gandhi School, Kalyan. He achieved the feat against Arya Gurukul, Kalyan, in a district inter-school tournament for HT Bhandari Shield organised by the Mumbai Cricket Association.

He achieved this in a batting time of 6 hours, 35 minutes, Pranav faced 323 balls and hit 59 sixes and 129 fours with a strike rate of 312.38. Mumbai Cricket Association has announced a monthly scholarship of Rs. 10000 each to Pranav Dhanawade.

Haven’t you heard people crying about what they do not have? “I’m too old.” “I’m too young.” “I’m not educated.” “My parents are poor.” “I’m from the backward class” “I can never make it.” “I feel nervous.” “I could never do that.” A winner is someone who recognizes his talents, works his tail off to develop them, and uses them to achieve his goals and brings happiness to others. An unquenchable desire to achieve and succeed has enabled many individuals to accomplish what was well beyond their wildest dreams. Unceasing hard work, strenuous labour and practice give you success no matter your background.

Quote: “Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want.”  ― Paulo Coelho

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Statement of purpose

Students who want to pursue higher studies abroad will have to write their statements of purpose (SOPs). What is a statement of purpose? It is an application essay a student applying for a graduate programme at a foreign university is required to write in order to be admitted to the programme. In U.K. it is called ‘personal statement’. The length of it is about 500 and 700 words.

I do not know of any college or university in India asking for a SOP at the graduation level. Why do foreign universities ask for it? It helps colleges and universities to test whether the applicants are really interested in the programme that they have applied for, whether they are capable of pursuing the programme and completing it successfully and whether they will be able to contribute significantly to the institute.

A great SOP speaks to the members of the admissions committee and makes them smile and say, “Here is the guy I am looking for.”

Do you have an SOP? Why have you chosen a specific college or university? In which field do you want to specialise in? Why have you chosen it? When did you develop your interest in it? How passionate are you about the field you are going to specialise in? What is your career goal? What is your purpose in life?

Living and doing things with a purpose gives meaning to every little thing we do. There should be something to look forward to, so you will find meaning to it and you will realize that every action you take has its value. Today many students enter into colleges and universities without having a purpose. All study becomes monotonous and burdensome if it has no goal or purpose. A sculptor after hacking and cutting away at a block of marble all day was asked, “What are you making?” He said, “I really don’t know. I haven’t made any plans.”

Quote: “My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose — somehow we win out.” — Ronald Reagan

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I have done my duty 

Justice S H Kapadia former Chief Justice of India expired on 4th January 2016 in Mumbai at the age of 68. He was born in a poor family with abject poverty. At one time he had to survive with a little food being provided by the roadside peanut seller. He started his career as a class IV employee of the High Court.  It is astonishing and inspiring that he rose from the lowest category employee to the highest rank in Indian Judiciary. He gave priority to work, set goals for himself, did not mind dismantling systems which could breed corruption, detested indiscipline and frowned upon unnecessary expenditure and corruption in any government department. He propounded the principle of “institutional integrity”.

He did not take leave even for a day in his about 22-year-long career as a judge. Once suffered a fracture as a Bombay High Court judge but he was in court next day with plaster. He was a man of duty and impeccable character and was popular for his uncompromising stand on principles. He practiced what he preached. In his retirement speech he said, ‘I have done my duty and done no more’.

Justice S.H. Kapadia stands out as a man of duty. I am reminded of the Bible verse which says, “So you also, when you have done everything commanded of you, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” (Luke 17:10). Duty commands us to look neither to the right, nor to the left, but straight onward. Every act of duty is an act of faith. It is performed in the assurance that God will take care of the consequences. One of the scout promises is, “On my honor, I promise, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”

Quote: “Activate yourself to duty by remembering your position, who you are, and what you have obliged yourself to be.” – Thomas a Kempis

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A chance to start afresh

January is the beginning of a new year. What does this suggest to you? That we are getting another chance to make new beginnings. So, if you didn’t have a good start to the new year, this is an opportunity to make it right. And if you did have a good start, it is time to make it even better.

So, how do you make something better? By putting in more hard work, using your resources in a smart manner, and thinking innovatively. There is one more thing that we need to focus on: improving quality rather than quantity. Quantity is important but one should not ignore minute details that go on to make a huge difference in the end. The final product, whatever it may be, should be measured not just by its size or numbers but its quality and attention to details.

Mahatma Gandhi says, “It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.”

A lot of people do make substantial efforts to produce quality work but often due to constraints of time, manpower, resources, etc. their efforts fall short of the desired goals. And sometimes, one shot, which we usually get in life, at attaining our objectives, is not enough. That’s why getting a second chance is usually considered a stroke of luck. Second chances are rare but worth all the efforts.

I read somewhere from an unknown author, “If you are lucky enough to get a second chance at something, don’t waste it.” A new year is all about second chance, an opportunity to start afresh and realize your dreams. Goethe once said, “Whatever you do or dream you can do — begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it”.  It is not about changing the dates but direction; it’s not about changing the calendar but commitment; it’s not about changing the actions but attitude.

So, whenever you get one, in whatever form, never let go of that opportunity to produce the desired results. Cherish that opportunity and put your body, mind, heart and soul into it to make things right. The results will surely be worth it.

Dr. P.D. John, M.A., M.Ed, PhD

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