Thursday, February 18, 2016

Learnings from Life

Someone asked a great question on Quora about "What are some things you realise as you grow older?" I wrote an answer that was loved by many. Sharing it here!

What are some things you realise as you grow older?

  • The only thing that finally matters is 'being at peace with oneself'
  • Real friends can be counted on fingers. Of one hand.
  • Only crises can make a man out of you. Rest is routine.
  • Leaders are 1%. Great managers are 10%. Rest are workers.
  • It takes barely 5 min in an interview to judge a person truly
  • No one works for any corporation. People only work for themselves.
  • Happiness can be eternal if you choose it to be that way
  • 'Sharp at academics' is not equivalent to 'happy in life'
  • Daily brisk walking routine is the best medicine for entire body
  • Laughing out loud is the best stress-buster
  • You don't need lots of money to be happy
  • Kids who love you are the greatest source of constant joy
  • Brands are in the mind. Life can go on merrily without them.
  • Fast food is the fast way to destroy your body
  • Atheism is easy fashion. Rationalism is hard fashion. Spiritualism is tough fashion.
  • Run hard from anyone promising salvation - it lies within
  • No matter what you do, you die. All legacies are temporary
    Wisdom, Philosophy, Learnings, Youth, Sandeep Manudhane, SM sir, Indore, PT education, PT's IAS Academy
    The colours of life
  • Violence never solves any problem permanently - only love does
  • Everything gets recycled, including our bodies
  • Everything changes with time - the harder you resist, the more they change
  • No one is absolutely right ever - everyone is right in bits and pieces
  • Perceptions are as good as reality - in fact, there is no genuine reality
  • Mother Nature is the biggest badass around, unstoppable & unaffected
  • The Universe is a very mysterious place with tonnes of secrets
  • And finally - Teenagers know everything, Communists want an equal world, Capitalists believe in trickle-down, & Governments work for citizens!


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Great Sanskrit Shlokas

Sanskrit has in its womb some of the finest creations of the human mind, in the form of shlokas. Some are religious, but most are spiritual in nature. The entire literature in Sanskrit is an ocean, from which we can find priceless pearls now and then.

Three of the most profound Sanskrit shlokas that I have come across in my limited exposure to the language, are -
India's national emblem
सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं        
सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः 
येनाक्रमन्त्यृषयो ह्याप्तकामा   

यत्र तत् सत्यस्य परमं निधानम्
satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ
satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ
yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā

yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam
Literal meaning -Truth alone triumphs, not falsehood
Through truth the divine path is spread out
by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach

where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Should we correct people's mistaken in grammar, pronunciation, spellings etc. as they speak or text?

From experience, the clear answer is - not at all. One should never try to correct people when they are in the process of talking.
It has the following effects -
  • Makes the person feel inferior almost instantly
  • Makes the person feel you're a complete idiot to not do it softly, indirectly, later
  • Makes it a big ego issue and never achieves the desired result
Yes, even for a teacher, it is very tricky to do it in a class, as the student may be made fun of by others. This is a typical Indian habit, and an ugly one at that. The whole class may start giggling or smiling, and will make it miserable for the student concerned. So one has to then pull up everyone and teach them manners, not something to be done frequently.
So how should it be done?
  1. Make a mental note of the mistake, when committed.
  2. Indicate by your facial gesture (a minimal one) that you've identified something's wrong. (So other students who've realised it too, will know you're not ignorant of it)
  3. Let some time pass.
  4. Gently, softly, bring up that issue in a third-person tone ("Someone said a little while ago, and made this mistake while saying it, ... etc.)
  5. It is important for the student concerned to know the mistake she/he made, and for others to know it too.
For standard errors, a teacher can address the class as a group, without anyone making a mistake. A classic case is of the word "definition". Most students spell it as "defination", which is clearly wrong. Another is millennium, that mostly is written "millenium" by people. One can go to the extent of explaining roots too - for example mill(a thousand) and enn (year) that would make it permanently fixed in their minds.

Monday, February 8, 2016

How to prepare for UPSC - Pre first, then Mains, or Both Together?

When you prepare for the Yearly exam in school, does it help you prepare automatically for the Half-yearly?
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The roaring lions
The analogy is almost perfect for UPSC Mains and Prelims too, except the slightly extra effort that Prelims - Paper II - CSAT will require, which in case you are a Maths background student, will be very little.
I can see the beauty of the UPSC exam in the interconnected nature of the three stages -
  • If you prepare only for Prelims, and actually clear it, you've invited disaster. There's no time to prepare for Mains for same year.
  • Conversely, if you prepare only for Mains and neglect the Aptitude part and the Objective Testing part completely, it just won't work out. The mindset needed to cruise through objective questions and options is different than the skills needed to write beautiful essays.
  • And once you're doing a holistic preparation, the third stage - personality testing - is taken care of largely.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A mystery of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (श्रीमद् भगवद् गीता)

All Indians love the learning we get from the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (श्रीमद् भगवद् गीता), a historical classic text of Hinduism that carries in its womb the essence of life, karma, death, re-birth, detachment and dispassionate action.
Many curious minds find it a very mysterious text, full of newer learning each time we read it.
While researching on it, a very interesting fact I discovered was that the massive popularity that the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (श्रीमद् भगवद् गीता) enjoys in the India of today is, strangely, courtesy the biggest colonial looters of India 'The British East India Company' (BEIC)!
Sir Charles Wilkins, born at Frome in Somerset (1749), came to India in 1770 serving the BEIC as a printer and writer. He was a great learner of languages and picked up Bengali and Persian, designed the first type for printing Bengali, and earned respect from the first de-facto Governer General of India Warren Hastings himself.
Wilkins then learned Sanskrit from a Brahmin at Varanasi, and his version of the Gita, published in 1785 as Bhagvat-geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoonchanged the way it was seen by Indian elite (many of whom did not know Sanskrit). Though Wilkins wrongly assumed that Gita was written to wean Hindus away from polytheism and towards monotheism (as the presence of only one supreme Godhead - Krishna - makes it appear). His translations became very famous, and were further translated into French and German.
Without him, perhaps the modern perception of many Hindus would have been a different mix. Since most Indians, except the hard-core Brahmins, never knew Sanskrit, the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (श्रीमद् भगवद् गीता)would have remained a forlorn mystery for us for many more generations. So a big thanks to Wilkins for doing what we ourselves could not.
Jai Shri Krishna!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What did the British East India Company do to India?

The Brits came, they saw, they were amazed, they plundered, rendered the local economy rootless, they left. A single statement that summarizes the British East India Company's (and later the British Raj's) stay in Indian sub-continent from 1700s to 1947.
When trade and politics are completely intermixed, there is no way a trader can remain solely one, and a politicians can afford not to trade. The brutal death of Indian economy under British rule is a proof of the above axiomatic truth. The East India Company found India very rich, and left it poor beyond imagination!
Despite the Company officers' blatant corruption, genocidal tendencies and ruthlessness, the British Monarch and Parliament allowed it to continue so for decades, as it was fuelling their Industrial Revolution. Thus, the East played the biggest role in enriching the West.

Various pointers to what actually happened -
  • It is important to understand the background of Europe in the 15th century. All the newly emerging nation-states were assuming that the only way they could stay ahead of the rest was for them to hoard as much gold and silver as they could.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Can global inequality continue its present course?

Shocking reports of wealth concentration are emerging from various sources. Just a few individuals hoard wealth that's more than half the humanity's worth.
It is now well-accepted that the world has become a dangerously skewed place, and the promise of trickle-down has turned so hollow that politicians and economist alike have stopped using it.
Someone asked - Why are the socialists / communists so quiet about it? Yes, that's a good question. Here's my answer.
Socialism (and its extreme version - Communism) is about challenging societal inequality, essentially wealth-inequalities. Given that, the biggest surprise of Indian politics (and in general, world politics) is that the mainstream Communist Parties seem to have worked especially hard to lose all relevance, just when the conditions for their relevance are strikingly present everywhere! The world is more unequal than ever, and with technology taken over entire industries, inequality is about to touch historic levels.
Here is the crux of the latest Global Wealth Report.
The Richest 1% of the World (that's a royal 62 individuals) today hold the wealth equal to the poorest 50% of the world. So, 62 = 360,00,00,000 !