Who Cares?

We have been taught all our lives that to be decent human beings means that we exist on this earth to (as far as we can) make life less difficult for others, and in turn, make them less difficult for us. To feel like we have a greater purpose and to feel like we are making a difference, we need to help our fellow human beings in any way we can.

This attitude is ideally also meant to extend to monitoring our behaviour so that our impact on nature and the world, in general, is as positive as possible. However, every day, the human race fails to inspire because the world has become such an incredibly harsh place to call home.

Continue reading “Who Cares?”

2 October: International Day of Non-Violence

“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.” – Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1927

The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

According to General Assembly resolutionA/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.

Introducing the resolution in the General Assembly on behalf of 140 co-sponsors, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Anand Sharma, said that the wide and diverse sponsorship of the resolution was a reflection of the universal respect for Mahatma Gandhi and of the enduring relevance of his philosophy. Quoting the late leader’s own words, he said: “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man”.

The life and leadership of Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence, has been the inspiration for non-violent movements for civil rights and social change across the world. Throughout his life, Gandhi remained committed to his belief in non-violence even under oppressive conditions and in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

The theory behind his actions, which included encouraging massive civil disobedience to British law as with the historic Salt March of 1930, was that “just means lead to just ends”; that is, it is irrational to try to use violence to achieve a peaceful society. He believed that Indians must not use violence or hatred in their fight for freedom from colonialism.

Definition of Non-Violence

The principle of non-violence — also known as non-violent resistance — rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. Often described as “the politics of ordinary people”, this form of social struggle has been adopted by mass populations all over the world in campaigns for social justice.

Professor Gene Sharp, a leading scholar on non-violent resistance, uses the following definition in his publication, The Politics of Nonviolent Action:

“Nonviolent action is a technique by which people who reject passivity and submission, and who see struggle as essential, can wage their conflict without violence. Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is one response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to wield powers effectively.”

While non-violence is frequently used as a synonym for pacifism, since the mid-twentieth century the term non-violence has been adopted by many movements for social change which do not focus on opposition to war.

One key tenet of the theory of non-violence is that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the population, and non-violence therefore seeks to undermine such power through withdrawal of the consent and cooperation of the populace.

There are three main categories of non-violence action:

  • protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils;
  • non-cooperation; and
  • non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.


Choosing my Avatar: Master or slave?

YUVA together with Judy Johnson is organising a workshop on the 3rd October 2015 under the theme: Choosing my Avatar: Master or slave? This conference will be held at Brahma Kumaris Centre, Global Peace House in Khoyrati as from 12.30 p.m to 4.30 p.m.

Judy Johnson, consultant and coach in the field of leadership development and organizational effectiveness from Canada invites you all to join her for a workshop that will help you to better choose you Avatar. YUVA is collaborating with her as it will benefit all our youngsters in exploring the ways and means to go beyond all your limitations and barriers in achieving excellence in life.

Judy works in the field of organizational effectiveness and leadership development. With a background in adult education, intercultural effectiveness, leadership and team development, she specialises in facilitating clarity in complex organizational and group situations. She assists in uncovering the inherent strengths in organizations and individuals, enhancing their ability to create and sustain focused, purposeful and positive directions.

Judy is adept in the areas of process facilitation, team development, principled negotiation, conflict resolution, experiential education design and delivery, needs assessment and program evaluation. She works with government, private sector and community-based programs and organizations in international and intercultural settings. Listed are examples of recent projects.

Judy has the ability to select and blend appropriate process tools to create clarity in groups, focus the will of the group in a common direction and enhance relationships and commitment to a collective endeavour. Through the use of silence, teaming strategies, reflective inquiry, and experiential activities, Judy uses an appreciative inquiry approach to facilitate strategic planning, teambuilding and conflict resolution retreats to strengthen organizational and group effectiveness. She facilitates consensus-building gatherings between multiple stakeholders in diverse contexts.

She has also been working directly with leaders at all levels of organizations in a one on one basis to support values-based leadership approach. In the coaching role, she acts as a sounding board and mirror to support and challenge assumptions guiding leadership approaches. In a facilitator role she works with leadership teams and/or develops programs to enhance leadership within the organization. She brings a perspective rooted in the principle that it is individual change that creates systems change and recognition that when leaders are focused on a purpose greater than profit or products will their organizations thrive.

Judy has designed and facilitated intercultural effectiveness orientation and debriefing sessions for Canadians travelling overseas as CIDA-sponsored professionals. Based on her own overseas project management work in India, Latin America and Southeast Asia, she also brings the intercultural effectiveness paradigm and approach to her work with interdisciplinary healthcare teams who cross professional cultures to work more effectively together. The principles guiding her approach to these sessions include a focus on self-awareness and self-mastery, intercultural awareness, and project management strategies.

We invite all young people to come and visit us on the 3rd of October 2015 for a very inspiring moment on how to be a good leader.

Portrait: Yudish Kutwaroo, Président de YUVA District Rivière du Rempart

À 24 ans, Yudish Kutwaroo n’a pas froid aux yeux et est toujours disponible pour se mettre au service des autres. Le Président de YUVA District Rivière du Rempart a adhéré justement l’association YUVA pour se regrouper avec d’autres travailleurs sociaux pour améliorer la qualité de vie de nos compatriotes.

Détenteur d’un BSc (Hons) Business Economics with Information System, ACCA Work, il travaille actuellement dans le secteur bancaire à la MCB depuis déjà trois ans.

Alors qu’il a commencé le bénévolat depuis le collège, des années plus tard, nous faisons face à un jeune qui jongle entre plusieurs activités : travail social, ses études, son travail, sa famille… Et surtout le désir d’aider les plus vulnérables. Head boy du collège Ramsoondur Prayag SSS, il a parrainé plusieurs projets dans son collège avec la collaboration de ses enseignants et amis pour venir en aide aux autres. Encouragé par ses parents, il a continué son parcours dans le bénévolat à l’Université de Maurice en étant membre de la Students’ Union (SU).

Yudish Kutwaroo à Grand Bassin pour la fête de Maha Shivratree.

 «  J’ai toujours eu le désir d’aider les personnes dans le besoin et c’est pour cela que j’ai choisi YUVA. Sachant qu’étant seul je ne pourrais pas faire grand-chose, j’ai décidé de m’associer avec les jeunes qui ont la même vision et les mêmes motivations que moi car ne l’oublions pas l’unité fait la force ».

Yudish Kutwaroo avec la Présidente de Maurice, Honorable Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.
Yudish Kutwaroo avec la Présidente de Maurice, Honorable Ameenah Gurib-Fakim à la lancement officielle de YUVA.

Son rêve ? C’est de réussir à motiver les jeunes à se bouger pour améliorer notre société en essayant d’éradiquer la pauvreté et les fléaux qui dominent la société. Sa devise: ”Don’t ever say that the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon”.

J’ai adhéré YUVA depuis sa création et je suis le Président du district de Rivière du rempart. J’ai un grand sens d’appartenance pour cette ONG qui fait tous pour le développement des jeunes et aussi parce que j’ai déjà travaillé avec Krishna Athal, le Président de YUVA dans le passé. C’est quelqu’un qui m’inspire énormément de par son professionnalisme et de par la vision qu’il a pour la société. Voilà une des raisons pourquoi je tiens tant à m’associer à YUVA ».

Yudish avec les YUVANs de l’Amitié.
Yudish Kutwaroo avec certains YUVANs de l’Amitié, Cottage et Gokoolah.

Yudish Kutwaroo est un jeune très dévoué et c’est lui qui a parrainé le tout premier projet de YUVA qui consistait à faire des donations aux pèlerins lors de la fête Maha Shivratree. Nous avons eu l’occasion de montrer nos motivations et de donner un exemple aux autres jeunes en rassemblant les YUVANs de toutes les religions ensembles.

Yudish Kutwaroo à Grand Bassin.
Yudish Kutwaroo à Grand Bassin pour la fête de Maha Shivratree.

Son prochain objectif est de rassembler des nouveaux membres dans chaque village afin de se mettre aux services des pauvres. Il a le désire de mettre les YUVANs à la proximité du peuple. Il a pour un début déjà créé des YUVA dans quelques villages tels que Rivière du Rempart, Plaines des Roches, L’Amitié, Gokoolah, Cottage, Belle Vue Maurel, Petit Raffray et Grand Baie. Pour le moment c’est une belle réussite car nous travaillons très durs pour organiser des activités afin de nous faire connaitre.

YUVA Petit Raffray Distributes Clothes to Needy People

YUVA launched it’s anti-poverty mission by collecting new and used clothes from individuals, civic & corporate organisations, then distributing those clothes to needy and disadvantaged people. (Venue: YUVA Petit Raffray)

End of an era: ‘Missile man’ APJ Abdul Kalam Passes Away

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam, the ‘missile man’ who came to be known as ‘People’s President’ died yesterday after he collapsed during a lecture at the IIM in Shillong.

Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October, was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany hospital in a critical condition following the collapse at around 6.30 pm.

According to reports, Kalam suffered a massive cardiac arrest during the lecture at IIM, Shillong.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was born in India on October 15, 1931. A lifelong scientist, Kalam’s prominent role in India’s 1998 nuclear weapons tests established him as a national hero. Among his many accolades, including honorary doctorates from 40 universities, he was granted the Padma Bhushan (1981), the Padma Vibhushan (1990), and the Bharat Ratna (1997) — India’s highest civilian awards — for his contributions in modernizing government defence technology. Known as the People’s President, Kalam was so popular that MTV nominated him for a Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 and 2006.

In 2002, India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance helped him win election against the country’s former president, Kocheril Raman Narayanan; Kalam became India’s 11th president, a largely ceremonial post, in July 2002. On July 27, 2015 Kalam suffered from a massive heart attack while lecturing at the Indian Institute of Management and subsequently died at the age of 83.

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam rose from humble origins to become the President in the most unexpected manner during the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee after an all party consensus minus the left parties that saw him through in an election which he won handsomely.

An aeronautics engineer from Madras Institute of Technology, Kalam was considered the brain of missile programme in India got and as Chief Scientific Adviser to Vajpayee was also instrumental in the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998.

As President, Kalam utilised any opportunity that came to him to address students, especially school children, to dream big so that they became achievers in life. A bachelor, the former President was a veena player and was deeply interested in Carnatic music. He was vegetarian all his life.

Earlier during the day, Kalam had tweeted about his function at IIM Shillong.

Facebook-Cover-APJ Abdul Kalam

A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure: APJ Abdul Kalam

APJ Abdul Kalam was among India’s best-known scientists before he became the country’s President. An alumnus of the Madras Institute of Technology, he worked for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he helped launch India’s first satellites into orbit. Later, Kalam worked on developing missiles and other strategic weapons; he was widely regarded as a national hero for leading India’s nuclear weapons tests in 1998. In 2002, Kalam was named the country’s President, and he held that position until 2007. During the Wharton India Economic Forum in Philadelphia, Kalam spoke with India Knowledge@Wharton about his career as a scientist, his vision for India’s future, and the most important traits for leaders, among other issues. An edited transcript of the interview follows:

India Knowledge@Wharton: Since our publication is called Knowledge@Wharton, could you tell us something about knowledge?

Kalam: I’ve written a four-line, poem-like thing called “Creativity.” It goes like this: “Learning gives creativity. Creativity leads to thinking. Thinking provides knowledge. Knowledge makes you great.” I have made at least a million children repeat these lines. I am very happy that Wharton has created Knowledge@Wharton; it’s a beautiful idea. My greetings to all of you.

India Knowledge@Wharton: Perhaps we could begin by talking about your own past. You were born in Rameswaram in 1931. What are the biggest differences between India as it was then and India today?

Kalam: Since then I have orbited the sun 76 times. I have seen when I was a young boy the Second World War coming to an end, and the effect of war and injuries. I saw India attain her freedom in August 1947; I saw the economic ascent phase of India [beginning in] 1991. I have worked with visionaries like Prof. Vikram Sarabhai. I have seen the green revolution, the white revolution, and the telecom revolution; I have also seen the growth of information and communication technologies (ICT), as well as India’s successes in the space program and self-sufficiency in strategic weaponry. These are some of the things I have witnessed. Of course, we have a long way to go. Since we have to bring smiles to the faces of more than one billion people, we have many challenges ahead.

India Knowledge@Wharton: After studying aeronautics at the Madras Institute of Technology, you were one of India’s top scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and then at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). You helped launch several successful missiles, which led to your getting the nickname, “Missile Man.” What challenges were involved in getting this program going and leading it successfully?

Kalam: I worked for ISRO for about 20 years. My team and I worked to put India’s first satellite into space. Then our team took up the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. These were youthful teams that worked with me, and they have gone on to take up much larger projects. These in turn have led to great value addition in areas such as technology, infrastructure and, above all, human resources.

One of the important lessons I learned in the space and missile program was not just how to handle success but how to deal with failure. Wharton is in the management environment. I would like young people to understand how they should manage failure. In any project you take up, you will face problems. These problems should not become the captain of the project chief; the project chief should be the captain of the problems and defeat the problems.

India Knowledge@Wharton: You were actively involved in India’s nuclear weapons tests in 1998. Could you tell us about that experience and the lessons you learned?

Kalam: The main lesson I learned was how multiple technical teams and departments of the government of India could work together for a great mission as an industrial partnership. It was a great experience.

India Knowledge@Wharton: You are known to be deeply spiritual. Did you ever feel conflicted, or guilty, about developing missiles and nuclear weapons? Why, or why not?

Kalam: I realise that for my country’s development, peace is essential. Peace comes from strength — because strength respects strength. That is how our weaponised missiles were born. You need strength to keep the nation peaceful, so that you can focus on the necessary developmental missions. That is how I see it.

India Knowledge@Wharton: How did you come to become India’s President in July 2002? What leadership qualities does one need to lead a country as large, complex and chaotic as India?

Kalam: Well, I won’t call India chaotic, because order comes from disorder. That is what is happening now.

I was elected President of India — from 2002 to 2007 — through a well-structured election process. Any leadership — whether it is political leadership or leadership in technology — requires that the leader have six traits. What are these traits?

First, the leader must have vision. Without vision, you cannot be a leader. Second, the leader must be able to travel into an unexplored path. Normally the tendency is for people to travel along well-laid out ways. Third, the leader must know how to manage success, and even more importantly, failure.

India Knowledge@Wharton: Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?

Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India’s satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India’s “Rohini” satellite into orbit by 1980. I was given funds and human resources — but was told clearly that by 1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 — I think the month was August — we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts — I had four or five of them with me — told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure.

That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, Prof. Satish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am, and the press conference — where journalists from around the world were present — was at 7:45 am at ISRO’s satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organisation, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure — he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed. Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organisation.

The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite — and this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant. Again, there was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, “You conduct the press conference today.”

I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organisation owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

India Knowledge@Wharton: That is a great story; thank you for sharing it.

Kalam: Continuing further with the six traits, the fourth trait is that the leader should have the courage to make decisions. Fifth, the leader should have nobility in management. Every action of the leader should be transparent. And finally, the leader should work with integrity and succeed with integrity.

All the traits apply especially to the President of a country. The President continuously must be in touch with the people. The Rashtrapati Bhavan [i.e., the presidential residence in New Delhi, India’s equivalent of the White House] must become the people’s residence. When I was President I travelled to every state, cutting across hills, deserts, and seas. I was in touch with millions upon millions of people.

India Knowledge@Wharton: In your vision for India 2020, you envisaged that differences between the urban areas and the countryside would gradually disappear. Could you explain your concept of “PURA” and how that brings about this transformation?

Kalam: The concept of PURA — which stands for “Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas” — is about giving a cluster of villages physical, electronic and knowledge connectivity. The idea is to empower the villagers, so that economic connectivity can emerge. We planned about 7,000 PURAs for the country — including hill PURAs, coastal PURAs and plains PURAs. I believe that connectivity is the key to bridging the rural-urban divide. The core-competence of the village will enable the production of competitive products for national and international markets. This will lead to rural enterprises which will create jobs in villages and lead to a vibrant economy in India’s hinterland. That is how prosperity will emerge in the rural environment.

India Knowledge@Wharton: How can India become energy independent by 2030?

Kalam: Today fossil fuels dominate the energy sector throughout the world. The World Energy Forum predicts that in five to eight decades, the fossil fuels will run out because these sources of energy are not renewable. Also, energy costs will go up. Oil is already at $110 per barrel, and if this continues, this situation will be very tough to manage.

So I set a goal of energy independence for my country. It’s a three-dimensional approach. First, we should invest in solar power. Today solar power is not economical because the efficiency of solar cells is just 15% to 20%. So we should use CNT (carbon nano tubes) composites that can increase the efficiency of solar cells to 45% or 50%. Second, we should use nuclear energy, because India has abundant thorium based nuclear reactors. This is definitely a clean solution to energy needs. The third focus area should be bio-fuels, including ethanol as well as bio diesel made from jatropha [a plant that grows in wastelands] and algae. These three initiatives can free India from dependence on fossil fuels. It will also help maintain a clean environment.

India Knowledge@Wharton: In your vision for India’s future technology plays an important role. How will social grids — such as the knowledge grid, the health grid and e-governance grid — help make India a developed country?

Kalam: The idea is that the knowledge grid empowers the village citizens with skill and knowledge. The health grid brings the super-specialty healthcare that is available in the cities to the doorsteps of rural citizens. And the e-governance grid brings transparent governance to the citizens. All these grids lead to economic growth and social transformation.

India Knowledge@Wharton: During your years as India’s president, what was the biggest leadership challenge that you faced and how did you overcome it?

Kalam:  I returned the Office of Profit Bill to the Parliament. The reason was that I felt there was no transparent system for determining whether a post was an office of profit. That was a major decision. I studied the bill and returned it to the parliament for reconsideration. It created its own dynamic, but I felt I did the right thing.

India Knowledge@Wharton: If you could rewind and replay your years as President, what might you do differently? Is there anything you wanted to accomplish that you were unable to do?

Kalam: Last year I came up with an idea: I felt I should power the Rashtrapati Bhavan completely with solar power. For that I worked on a proposal after completing four years of my Presidential term — and at the beginning of the fifth year. But then the environmental agencies raised a lot of questions. Before I could answer them, my term ended. I would have liked the Rashtrapati Bhavan to be the first home in India to be powered completely by solar energy.

India Knowledge@Wharton: One last question — you are a gifted poet. Could you please recite some lines of your favorite poem?

Kalam: My favorite poem is “The Vision.” I recited it in Parliament, and I will recite it for you.

I climbed and climbed
Where is the peak, my Lord?
I ploughed and ploughed,
Where is the knowledge treasure, my Lord?
I sailed and sailed,
Where is the island of peace, my Lord?
Almighty, bless my nation
With vision and sweat resulting into happiness.