Friday, December 27, 2013

Attitude Change: New Indian Democracy

Attitude Change is undoubtedly an impending reality for political landscape in India. Though primarily perceived as a short-term game plan during election seasons, addressing expectations is also a developmental economics issue involving enormous costs. In this context, addressing attitude change is a common challenge for traditional political parties, which so far, were operating without openness in policy framework. Its impact is already being seen in different forms: be it unprecedented electoral response in State Government Elections of Delhi, effects on how the business is conducted – be it agriculture, fisheries and health, and already scarce forest, land, and water resources. With changes in key variables, namely average age of population, earning capacity, exposure to and aspirations for better standard of living, it is in our collective interest that our country moves towards an attitude resilient development path.

The important question here is how to grow fast while keeping in mind the need for poverty eradication, managing urbanization, and improving public health, education and development. As a developing country, India strongly believes that it requires adequate development space for its people.

I am only reiterating the fact that attitude change is a real issue and like every serious concern it also entails some inevitable trade-offs and choices that are to be made as a part of the planning exercise when malicious agencies will want to get involved in the name of change within the competing demands of a vibrant political franchise. Lately with the growing concerns about attitude change, the set of trade-offs faced by traditional policy makers and dependent lobby agencies has expanded, with critical decisions to be made regarding meeting expectations.

On the flip side, poorer sections of the society are demanding more space, in order to achieve the same level of per capita income and welfare as enjoyed by the rich in the country. There is a huge lacuna in terms of bringing their attitude and aspirations’ divide amongst these sections - can also be perceived as developmental divide. For India in the short and medium run dependence on bringing this gap will continue to be a necessary part of enabling growth.  

The choice between focussing on purely growth centric processes or adopting an ambitious attitude correction trajectory were never easy to make and are going to be even more difficult in the coming years. As growth weakens, growth becomes more of priority; it will become difficult for attitude change to sustain itself.

The central question then will remain: How do we finance all of our needs, while staying within a prudent attitude envelope? The answer has to be more efficient spending and policies to generate equitable and inclusive growth, along with additional efforts to constantly monitor the definition of the same as we move forward.  

The need of the hour is also to create strong incentives to encourage civil society participation in democracy. The political market will need to be transformed to attract for more participation and reduce nepotistic despondency.

Given the constraint on resources, ultimately the entire task boils down to optimal resource allocation and mobilization and also the creation of an incentive structure that motivates citizenry appropriately. The role that markets and development/ non-government organizations can play in this task is significant. New and additional resources through the participatory mechanism of our vibrant democracy will play a crucial role in handling this attitude change.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sleeping Good Tonight

There is no doubt we are living longer than ever before, and because of this more and more people are making an effort to take better care of themselves so that they can be healthier and sharper and thus maintain a better quality of life. Naturally, with an extended life span, we all want to maintain our cognitive abilities as long as we can. Brain games are undoubtedly popular tools for staying sharp, but they are only one of many in the arsenal of cognitive maintenance.

Mental stimulation is an absolute necessary for keeping the brain sharp because it helps to generate new brain cells as well as create new connections between existing nerve cells. Cognitive activities like math games, word puzzles and reading, and physical activities that require manual dexterity for motor coordination, can help keep your brain functioning well for many years to come.

As we're talking about quality of life, we also need to broach the topic of emotional health. Depression, anxiety and insomnia all take their toll on our ability to function and can easily lead to cognitive decline as we age. Getting help with these issues can make all the difference between enjoying old age and being oblivious of it. Helpful strategies such as meditation, breathing and relaxation techniques can help you find peace and comfort, for which your brain will thank you with improved cognition and focus. Of course, building healthy social networks with friends and family that you maintain even as you get older is yet another way to stay sharp and connected.
In the entire gamut of remaining healthy – we rarely discuss sleep, more so, even if we happen to chance upon it, conversations usually revolve around lack of good sleep. I feel it is necessary we start acknowledging the efforts of our physical self for providing us with a night of good sleep. This will help motivate our emotional self to channelize efforts to make that happen again. Let’s appreciate it and have a good sleep tonight!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cockroach Theory for Self Development: Response Vs Reaction

I stumbled upon this piece of story, and felt it carries an important lesson - that which is often ignored by many.

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but it landed on another lady in the group. 

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama. The waiter rushed forward to their rescue. In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior? If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it's my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me. It's not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me. More than the problem, it's my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Do not react in life. Always respond. The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded. Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of, just and right to save a situation from going out of hands, to avoid cracks in relationship, to avoid taking decisions in anger, anxiety, stress or hurry.

This story carries a powerful lesson - it is important we give it a thought.

- Abhijith Jayanthi

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happiness Fix

I remember, myself being very negative and unhappy when I was young and that seemed to have changed dramatically for the better. Now, I seek to be bright, happy and outgoing, chatting and laughing with all. This is because I finally learned how to be happy.

For years  I was frustrated and unhappy, always thinking that I'd find happiness once a specific event happened or when someone did something I wanted them to do, or when I landed the right job, etc., but over time I discovered that was not the case. Even when things did occur to my liking, I found that they didn't have a lasting impact on my personal joy and fulfilment. Then one day it finally hit me. I concluded that the things outside of myself were not going to enrich me and make me happy in the long run and that it was up to me for assuming responsibility for my own bliss.

Once I realized this, I stopped chasing some elusive source of happiness. I began practicing living in the moment, choosing to enjoy all that life had to offer me right now. This didn't mean I gave up on my ambitions. It just meant that I put them into perspective, and began to be grateful for what I already had. In fact, gratitude is the best “happiness fix,” as it always brought me back to what was really important in life: living, loving and being happy.

I realized I had sabotaged myself for years with expectations about myself. I wanted things to happen, but seldom took action to get what I wanted. Then I began taking steps towards actually achieving my goals, while continuing to practice being happy in the moment. Shortly after, some of the very things I had so longed for were actually happening. However, they were not the reason for my new state of joy, but they did add to it.

This is just a powerful reminder that we have a say in our own happiness. I hope you will keep that thought with you as well. Think about what makes you happy and what doesn't. And once you have answered that, try to give yourself more of the former. Then think about why certain situations make you unhappy. Ask yourself how you could improve them. And once you implement some of those adjustments, I am willing to bet that you will feel better about them! Just taking control of them may give you a whole new outlook.
-          Abhijith Jayanthi

Sunday, February 24, 2013

India: Blowing a Broken Trumpet

In Japanese tradition - the three wise monkeys, sometimes called the three mystic apes, are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil". The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil. Sometimes there is a fourth monkey depicted with the three others; the last one, Shizaru, symbolizes the principle of "do no evil". He may be shown crossing his arms. These monkeys no longer represent the reality and the needed attitude in the present.

Looking into the past for over 500 years: The trends for a nation to be an economic powerhouse were always changing over the course of time – earlier, during the times of segregated, small-scale kingdoms; it was more of a class struggle between the powerful ruling class and the largely ignorant working class. As the class struggle gave rise to a nationalist flavour; nations have emerged fuelled by scientific advances and achieving economies of scale in production and trade. Competing for supremacy and imperialistic behaviour of the nations replaced the erstwhile class struggle as the defining trend.

In 20th Century, the imperialistic behaviour was on a decline – largely because of globalization and knowledge exchange: a necessity to connect across nations and co-exist took prominence. The class struggle of the present is between the oppressed and a skewed imperialist class – and it has begun. One ugly face of this struggle is the advent of terror as a tool of class struggle. The growing need for any nation in the modern times is to work for stable existence and stay largely insulated – for terror can impact economy and the budget spend allocations; which will adversely affect nation’s outlook.  To live in the present – one needs to be vigilant, observe and listen to what is happening around one-self. These three set of principles are in stark contrast to what is depicted and celebrated as a maxim – The Three wise Monkeys.

India has always been a contrast singular experiment – with largely successful kings administering over a huge stretch of land in the past to non-aligned/ anti-imperialistic beliefs in the recent past being a significant feature. Though, resurrection (with the present possibilities that India holds) within a span of over 50 years after a 200 years of horrid slavery should instil a sense of achievement; there are multiple facets of Indian Society that need attention  and should be set right –  especially in the modern times, India needs to adapt and work for stable existence. We will need to revamp our security apparatus and work for a secured future – we will have to set it right, before we blow our trumpet.  

-  Abhijith Jayanthi 

Friday, January 04, 2013

Dead Man Walking

In an apparent attempt to inculturate west bloc democratic ideologies - billions of dollars have been invested at various levels.I think technology plays a major role in manipulating people’s views about what is going on in the world. However, people are not easily controlled or influenced these days with conventional media with advent of social media. There is growing consciousness amongst public about the usual ways – how conventional media work and feed construed views to general public. I hope people consider that the world will never run like a well-oiled machine. The idea of the human mind as uncontrollable has influenced a desire for rational mastery over our own human nature. I like to imagine us slaving over the  development of artificial intelligence for thousands of years, using the language  of science and the laws of reason, but always failing to compute our own human nature, emotions and desires. Little do we know that intelligent thought dwells in the corner of a dark, damp area of human perception. It lays waiting for the right moment to engulf us in our technological conquests and pave the way for the future.

I dream of India - a nation with her multicultural atmosphere, of the wide range of opportunities it offers – theatres, museums, shopping streets, sidewalk caf├ęs in every city and town. None of this I want to miss in the Nation of my dream. Parks, a big river, little lakes and canals, Open spaces where you can meet, exchange and express yourself. This is my thought – what is yours?

- Abhijith Jayanthi 

Place: Abu Dhabi
Date:  01 Jan 2013