Toastmasters Speech 2: Organize Your Speech

My Toastmaster CC2 Speech.

Bhishma’s Teachings for the Modern World.

Mahabharata is perhaps one of the greatest epics of all time, an epic in which every character is present to serve a purpose, to provide teachings of life. Among the myriad of players in the great epic, one characters stand out prominently towering over the rest.  Bhishma or aptly called as Bhishmacharya. The scion who renounced his right to the kingdom to fulfill his father’s wishes, a great archer and a scholar, who had the combined wisdom of balance, purity, devotion, serenity and chivalry. My motive here is to explain the qualities of Bhishma that we can emulate in this trying modern world.  Let me start by giving some glimpses into the life of Bhishma.

Sacrifice

Born as Devavrata, to Goddess Ganga and King Shantanu, he was the legal heir to the throne of Kuru dynasty. Devavrata had to part ways with his mother soon after he was born. . He was brought up and trained by many eminent sages. Devavrata learnt archery from none other than lord Parasurama. He had all the qualities and abilities to become an excellent king. But that was not to be. King Shantanu who had fallen in love with a fisher woman named Satyavathi, wanted to marry her. But Satyavathi and her father had a condition that Satyavathi children should have the access to the throne to which Shantanu could not agree. Shantanu fell into deep depression. Understanding his father’s predicament, Devavrata met Satyavathi and her father and to get the consent for the marriage he took a vow that he will never have the throne and will remain a celibate lifelong. He also promised that his entire life will be dedicated to serve the throne of Kuru dynasty. For the sacrifice which Devavrata had given, he was named Bhishma (he who took terrible oath) by his father King Shantanu.

The first quality that Bhishma teaches us is ‘Sacrifice to our loved ones’. But in this modern world how often we do sacrifice for our parents. Forget about sacrifice, we sometime even don’t find time to find to talk to them.

Commitment

On the other side Bhishma had to pay heavily for the vow. Despite being a great warrior and possessing all the qualities of a great king, Bhishma was reduced to playing the role of an administrator and advisor without any actual powers. He had to lead a life full of loneliness, frustration and sadness. But on no occasion did Bhishma swerve away from the oath that would have helped him having life of eternal happiness. This shows his commitment to truth and values.  We all take oath in on the other form but if faced with even a small disturbance we happily break them off, that too without any regrets.  A big challenge faced by companies today is how they adhere to their corporate values while finding appropriate means to achieve desired ends. We have seen big conglomerates falling down due to bribery, inside trading, scams, etc. Bhishma’s life teaches us to focus on the need to have principles and values as guiding posts so that context and situations do not derail us.

Devotion

There is another side of Bhishma which is less known. His loyalty to the crown never came into conflict with his loyalty to God. With his devotion, goodness and sacrifice, he was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Krishna. In the battle of Mahabharata Krishna broke his own vow to suffice the vow of his beloved devotee Bhishma. In the modern times we pray to god only when we are in trouble. We forget god in good times. Bhishma teaches that no matter what is the state of mind we always need to devote our time to God.

Bhishma wasn’t without his flaws after all he was human. His biggest concussion was that he had to witness silently all inhumanities including the insult of Draupadi. Notwithstanding the negatives, overall, the impression Bhishma proffers is one of man of great dignity, forbearance, courage, integrity, justice, and above all, selfless service for a chosen cause. There is much that the present and future generations of leaders can emulate in their respective spheres of activity and influence from the glorious life of Bhishma.

 

 

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Book Review: 1991 – How PV Narasimha Rao made History by Sanjaya Baru

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We remember the year 1991 as an year when we lost Rajiv Gandhi  in a bomb blast at Sriperumbadur putting the  entire country  in shock. I remember how my home was filled with huge crowd to watch the cremation ceremony on the television. Though the year 1991 is always remembered for this horrific incident but this was also an year when India saw a much needed radical shift in the economic policy. “Much needed change” will be an understatement  because India was reeling under a much festered and deplorable financial crisis.

It is well known that Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister, catapulted the economic reforms. But during that time India’s political leadership had to deal with multiple changes and reforms , at home and abroad, and the man of the moment was Prime Minister Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Roa or  PV, as he always called. PV had the wisdom, grit and the valor to create a political climate in which these reforms could be implemented. Sanjay Baru in his slim book explains why PV was the central character  of  1991 . Baru also does a fabulous job in putting together the politics, the economic and the geopolitics of 1991 which makes the book an interesting and a must read. Below are some glimpses from the book.

So what was the Financial crisis India was facing ? India was on the verge of defaulting on its external payment obligations, with Foreign exchange dwindling rapidly as oil prices went up, exports went down and NRI’s began withdrawing their deposits in foreign currency in India. The reason for this was the Gulf War of 1990-91 and another factor was that the world was losing confidence in the Indian government’s ability to deal with difficult economic situation. Baru is  candid in mentioning that the economic crisis of 1991 was also a result of bad economic management of the preceding tenures of Rajiv Gandhi (1984-1989) and V.P.Singh. It was then left to Chandra Shekar and PV to arrest the slide and clean up the mess.

Chandra Shekar (CS) also played in an important role in reviving the Indian economy.  How he had dealt with the US request for landing their flights for refueling during the Gulf war was an admirable one. IMF was ready to help but it wanted India to take firm economic steps in the annual budget. Yashwant Sinha was ready with the budget with policies which would satisfy IMF but Rajiv Gandhi, who was supporting the minority government from outside, had some other thoughts. CS’s growing confidence began to worry Rajiv Gandhi and he felt that his position in Congress might get challenged. A ‘snooping’ controversy was created by Congress and an angry CS called on President Venkataraman and submitted his resignation. This even surprised  Rajiv who was not expecting such a response and tried to intervene with the help of Sharad Pawar but CS shot back saying ” Go back and tell him that CS doesn’t change his mind three times a day”. 

CS, who now was running a care taker government , had to take a tough decision to convert India’a gold stocks into hard cash in order to avoid the payment default.( There is a brief mention in the book how the gold was physicaly transferred).Had CS been given free hand by Rajiv, CS could have been India’a man of destiny. But destiny chose PV. Rajiv had denied a ticket to PV in the 1991 election and PV had decided to retire from political career.But Rajiv’s assassination paved way for PV taking up the lead role.From then onward Baru explains on how PV achieved the reform, be it the devaluation of Rupee, Industrial reforms, cutting government expenditures and the challenges that PV had to face within and outside his party during the reforms.It is to be noted that  government that was formed after PV, none of them , not one, ever sought to reverse any of PV’s policies

There is a good mention of the role played by Manmohan Singh, how he and PV complemented each other, and the elite group of bureaucrats who implemented those reforms. It is a fact that these reforms was forced on India but PV picked and chose what he felt he could reasonably defend within his own party and Parliament. It was his ‘middle way’.It is worth noting that he was the only PM who had the political courage to confer a business leader  with nation’s highest honour , when he bestowed the Bharata Ratna on J.R.D Tata. PV also holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Record for the highest voter turnout when he stood in election in Nandyal.

Importantly, reforms during PV’s tenure were ‘reforms with a human face’. When IMF called on PV he had only one message to give ” I am willing to do whatever is good for the economy, as long as not one worker tells me has not lost his job because of me ” . PV achieved the reforms not by becoming authoritarian, but by being democratic in his instincts, consensual in his approach and above all he made sure that he took no individual credit for any of these achievements.This is something the current government can learn.  PV also revolutionized national politics , and his own Congress party, by charting a new political course, thereby proving that there could be life beyond the Nehru-Gandhian dynasty, something which the current Congress party should digest and act.

What I mentioned above are just glimpses, there are lot more stories well scripted  in this book . I would recommend you to read it. You may even realize  who were our real heros after reading this book.

Pages : 194

Author : Sanjay Baru

Published September 26th 2016 by Aleph Book Company

 

Dangal – You can’t miss it

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If you have come out of theater without having any goosebumps  or a tickle in your eyes  or a desire to topple somebody in the air , as how Geeta and Babita does in the movie,  then perhaps you have not enjoyed the movie. Dangal definitely is going to one among the best movies of 2016. The performances of the girls was a treat to watch and so was their cousin who is the funny-bone-cum-sutradhar of the movie. Dangal is a remarkable flick peppered with some nice humour,   punch dialogues , nail-biting wrestling sequences , smashing performance of the girls , wonderful writing and editing , Daler Mahendi‘s vibrant title track ,Amir’s  near to perfection acting and Nitesh Tiwari’s excellent direction.

Damn the demonetization, watch Dangal. 

A Man Called Ove – Book Review

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If you have got bored up reading the usual  detective fiction or the mythological ones , which are by the way the new trends,  you will find this book delightful, quirky and amazingly refreshing. Originally published in the year 2012 by Fredrick Backman, the books is about a gritty and a grouchy neighborhood old man called Ove. Ove lives a lonely life confined to his staunch principles and strict routine . He doesn’t like to be disturbed and gets easily irritated when somebody breaks the rules.  He complains about every noise that others made, shouts at children for playing in the garden and turns the air blue if the pet dog barks.  This very stubbornness of this character is the source of the humour  and all said and done you will certainly fall in love with this grumpy Ove.

Behind this serious life of Ove there is a sentimental and a romantic life secretly buried in. His career life and his life with his wife Sonje is an interesting part of the book to read. Ove’s life goes for a change over when a boisterous family moves in his locality . A pregnant lady , Parvaneh, moves with her husband (Ove finds him idiotic ) and two chatty children in the neighborhood of Ove and suddenly Ove  was made to engage with the world again. There are some funny moments such as Ove trying to teach driving to Parvaneh. Seeing that Parvaneh is getting tensed while driving Ove shouts at her saying“You survived struggle in Iran, moving here and learning a new language, and being married to that idiot, driving a car should be no problem!”. My personal favorite was the rivalry between Ove and his friend on the car they owned, a rivalry that even costed Ove the friendship. Ove owned  a Saab while his friend owned a Volvo. Ove hated Volvo. So each time his friend upgraded his Volvo, Ove upgraded to the next Saab. And the twist in the story is that , eventually  Volvo took over Saab and you can sense what might have gone through Ove.

At the end of the Book there is a questionnaire to check How much Ove you are in your life. I would certainly recommend you to read this one.

Book : A Man Called Ove
Original Title: En man som heter Ove
ISBN: 1476738017 (ISBN13: 9781476738017)
Edition Language : English                                                                                                                             Author : Fredrik Backman                                                                                                                             Publisher : Simon & Schuster
Pages : 377

Dear Zindagi – Alia lives upto it

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 Alia Bhatt’s name comes first  in the opening credits of the movie and as you leave the theater you will agree that Alia deserves that honour. After a long time I saw a movie which had a female as the protagonist. If it was Sridevi who delivered a knockout punch in English Vinglish ,in the first flick of Gauri Shinde, this time Alia Bhatt crafts a delightful performance. With her cute and energetic appearance you simply cannot take eyes off her. You will easily forgive the subtle plot and even the number of boy friends Kaira ,the character played by Alia, had in the movie. Perhaps the movie has only one actor , Alia Bhatt, and you should see the movie exactly for that reason.

And if you by chance had  got irritated by Shahrukh‘s camoe role in Ae Dil He Mushkil, you would certainly applaud for his role in this movie.  Shahrukh with his tender humour, tough looks and restrained acting, plays his role of a mental therapist with a  conviction. The scenes when both of them are together is a treat to watch especially the Kursi and the mountain climbing theory . Alia also allows humourous jibe to pass on her ( Cycle ko Recycle)  and plays the satirical scenes with perfection.

Couple of best liners from the movie

Genius is not who has answers for all the question, but Genius is someone who has the patience to find the answers for all the question “.

If the fear or weakness is going to become a habit, its time to have a look on it

It is sarcastic that Rajeev Masand / newspaper  gave 2/5 for this movie while they  gave 3.5/5 for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil which hardly had anything to offer other than  Arijit’s melodious songs.

Dear Zindagi go for it.

Movie Review : Dear Zindagi

Directed by : Gauri Shinde

 

 

 

 

Movie List of 2016

Hindi

Hall of Fame

  1. Nil Battey Sannatamy review
  2. Airlift my review
  3. Rustom –  Should be one of the best movies of 2016. Akshay Kumar at his best
  4. M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story – Sushanth Singh does a wonderful job. Purely Dhoni’s story.
  5. Pink – One of the best movies of 2016. Amitabh steals the show
  6. Dear Zindagi – my review

Time Pass

  1. Sultan – One time watch movie. Watch out for Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Jag Ghumiya song
  2. Housefull3 – See it if you don’t have any thing else to do.
  3. BaaghiWatch it for Tiger Shroffs action and for Shradda Kapoor
  4. Ki & Ka – A nice concept went wrong, still can be a one time watch
  5. Dishoom – Varun Dhawan keeps the movie entertaining

Risky

  1. Happy Bhag Jayegi – Avoid, nothing in it

Malayalam

Hall of Fame

  1. Maheshinte Prathikaaram –  Worth a watch.
  2. Action Hero Biju – One of the best movie of 2016
  3. James & Alice –  A rare and different love story
  4. Jacobinte Swargarajyam –  One of the best movie of 2016
  5. Kammatti Paadam  – A serious drama
  6. Anuraga Karikkin Vellam  – Humour , romance and some good acting
  7. Happy Wedding –  The premam boys does a good job
  8. James & Alice 

Time Pass

  1. King Liar –  A good Dileep movie after a long time.
  2. Ithu Thanda Police – Time pass
  3. Pavada – Time pass
  4. Kali  – Watch it for Dulquer and Sai Pallavi
  5. Oppam  – A nice concept without a good script.
  6. Annmariya Kalipilanu – Time pass
  7. Marubhoomiyile Aana – Watch it for Biju Menon

Risky

  1. Valleem Thetti Pulleem Thetti – Just like the title no head and tail.
  2. Darvinte Parinamam
  3. Hallelooya
  4. Leela  – Failed to understand the concept
  5. Oozham – Watch it out only if you are hardcore Prithvi fan
  6. Welcome to Central Jail – Waste of time
  7. Pretham – Easily avoidable
  8. Kasaba
  9. IDI – How can you make movies like that

 

English

Hall of Fame

  1. The Jungle Book 
  2. Whiplash (2014) . An intense movie which focuses on the relationship between a hardworking Jazz student and extremely rebuking and abusive teacher.
  3. Blood Father  – Week story, could be watched for Mel Gibson
  4. Hector and the search for happiness (2014)  Its about Hector a sad Psychiatrist in search of happiness. ” Everybody has an obligation to be happy” is the moral of the story
  5. Locke (2013) –This movie can be perhaps be compared to “Phone Booth”. Tom Hardy flawlessly delivers one of his best performances. Even though he is the only character you can see on the frame but he keeps you hooked on to the screen. A must watch
  6. The Gift (2014) – Impressed with the climax.
  7. The Infiltrator – Slow but thrilling movie . Outstanding climax.
  8. Hell or High Water – Watch out for the Bank Heist 
  9. 12 Angry Men (1957) – How did i miss this one

Time Pass

  1. The Central Intelligence – The movie had no intelligence
  2. Focus (2015) – Watch out for the first 30 minutes how Will Smith handles a 1 Grand bet.
  3. Run all Night (2015) – Watch out if you are Liam Neeson fan

Risky

  1. The Gamblar (2014) – Can be avoided, I dint see any features of Mark Wahlberg.

Remembering Swami Chinmayananda

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“If I rest, I rust” is one of most exalting quotes of Swami Chinmayananda, which I often listened during my school days at Chinmaya Vidyalaya. Today I am able to recite a few stanzas of Bhagavat Gita, thanks to those numerous Balavihar (open session on bhajans) that I attended during the school academics. Back then these sessions seemed vexing and were a convenient place to gibber. I never realized that these were intended to sow in the seeds of spirituality, a much needed accompaniment as we progress in life. I had the privilege of seeing Swamiji when I was in class 3. Memory of that time can be flimsy but that pious figure , clad in saffron dhoti, a saffron cloth covering one side of the bare chest, the pointed silver colored beard, spectacle and eyes equally brightening, etched deep in my mind.

I still recollect the story narrated by Swamiji to us students on that rainy day. It was the story of a king and his ministers. The king had two sets of ministers, left wing and right wing. During an extreme summer season water scarcity became an acute issue in the kingdom and people flocked to complain. King took a decision to dig new wells in the kingdom. King called upon his left wing ministers and asked them to oversee the digging of the wells. Due to the peculiarity of the land, the well had to be dug very deep to get the water. The ministers got the work done in a weeks’ time.

When the rainy season arrived the same people popped out with another issue to the king. The mud that was taken out during the digging of the well had piled up in every nook and corner and eventually clogged and congested the entire city. King ordered his right wing ministers to deal with it. These ministers took the mud and closed up the very wells that left wing ministers had dug. See the comedy of errors. Neither the king nor the ministers were wise enough to handle the situation. The message which Swamiji wanted to convey was the importance of being wise. When we do not make the full use of our mind and intellect, they lose their efficiency and the outcome either fallible or ludicrous.

On the day Swamiji attained peace on 3rd Aug 1993; our school organized a silent procession through the town. Various functions were held and in one of them the then principal of our school Mr. Kunhambu Nair gave an emotional speech on various facets of Swamiji’s life. One among them was Swamiji’s involvement in freedom struggle. Before embracing asceticism, Balan, the erstwhile name of Swamiji, took part actively in freedom struggle and was jailed. Due to unhygienic condition of the jail Swamiji caught typhoid and was chucked into the outskirts of the city. Perhaps this part of his life remains obscure to many.

Chinmayananda means ‘filled with the bliss of pure Consciousness’. Swamiji was a teacher who essentially lived to spread Bhagavad Gita. Swamiji had a expressive style for reciting Gita. Through various publications and discourses Swamiji explicated Gita in a way the common man could easily follow it. Recently I got added to the Chinmaya Vidyalaya group in Facebook and when I started reading his teachings I realized the irony. I was associated with Chinmaya Vidyalaya, an institution established by Swamiji, for more than a decade but never really tried to understand his teachings in deep. May be it is now time to give a start and follow his pedagogy.