Yesterday one of my good friends who is a highly qualified finance and governance professional with many degrees to his credit including fraud detection, proudly shared his pictures addressing at the ‘Vigilance Awareness Week’ of a well-known PSU. Today a half-page advertisement in the newspaper by the Tax Department stared at me “Erase Corruption – Build a New India”. This was urging us to take a pledge as part of the Vigilance Awareness Week. Not a fixed day but an entire week to promote integrity and eradicate corruption. While I do not want to belittle the efforts towards this, the question is – does a day or week or event or drive really serve the purpose ? At best it is a symbolic reminder of something that should be our second nature but has unfortunately vanished completely from our lives. No wonder there are frauds and scams galore across businesses, families, countries, companies, not-for-profit organisations, governments and even the so-called vigilance-sentinels !
As serendipity would have it, last week I was to deliver a talk in praise of someone as part of my project at our public speaking club. The person I chose was my late mother who has instilled a lot of good values in me. This is what I said, little knowing that it is a precursor to the Vigilance Awareness Week :
“Ethics and Integrity” are an integral part of my personal and professional life. Recently I read about N Chandrasekaran, Tata Sons Chairman saying how moral values taught to us in our early life shape our future. Very true. Our childhood was spent in a small rented house for 25 long years. The compound was large with a beautiful garden and several flowering plants. My mom had made it clear to us in no uncertain terms “you are not touching a single plant nor plucking a single rose without the owner’s permission. That which is not yours will never be yours. It is wrong even if you desire for it since it doesn’t belong to you.” She told us such stuff so many times over and over again, that integrity has become my second nature. So much so that when I had to coin a tagline for my firm, I said “Enable. Empower. Ethically”. A small seed sowed back then by my mother has grown such deep roots within me. Sometimes when I talk to my children, I realise the legacy lives in them.
Friends, if you have to bequeath something to your children, bequeath good values and strong sense of purpose in life. You will leave behind a better world for the future generations !”
As I leave you to delve into your childhood, I am sure you will find many such intangible assets that have been bequeathed to you. Delve deep. Dig them out. Shape your lives better.
It is festive time. As we celebrate Navarathri or Dasara, signifying the victory of good over evil, celebrations also have moved over from socialising, dancing, poojas, eating and making merry together as a community to splurging on materialistic things on the Big Billion Day Sales. No more just ‘buy 1 get 2 free’ offers. It is ‘happiness Sale’ or ‘khushiyon ka button dabao i.e. press the button of happiness’ kind of celebrations as some brand jingle blares on the radio or life-size ad cut outs zoom into you from hoardings. Can happiness really be bought ?
As I get a little philosophical, the joy that I derive looking at the colourful rangoli (floral design) drawn by one of my long-time employees as part of the office pooja celebrations is immeasurable and invaluable. I must give it to her that whether it is work or rangoli, she puts in the same kind of meticulousness and diligence into it to produce a ‘work of joy’. No wonder the Samhita team voted for her solo rangoli to occupy the place of pride on the banner, as a tribute to her and to our festive celebrations.
As my thoughts move from materialistic happiness to happiness as a state of mind, I cannot but empathise with those that are afflicted with mental illness who are denied this happiness, this state of a balanced mind which can exercise discretion, which can function normally. While this piece is not about the various kinds of mental illnesses, it is definitely a tribute to those that are battling mental health conditions in ignominy and shadows, fearing the bias and stigma. Well, things are achanging. Acceptance and treatments are improving. It is heartening to note that recently, the IRDA (Insurance Regulatory Development Authority) has directed all insurance companies to include mental illness under insurance policies, at par with physical illness as provided under the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 which is effective from 29th May, 2018. Now people with mental health conditions can be covered under mediclaim. Carrie Fisher has said “……they should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication to them”. Here’s wishing joy and good health to all these unsung heroes and their families that are fighting an every day battle !
Whether you are hopping from one garbha dance group to another or moving from one house to another admiring the golu / bombe (dolls) displayed or finding solace in group chanting (yes, all this seems to be on the rise !) or unfortunately laden with deadline-bound office work like some of us, do find time to read the regulatory updates of this 198th issue of Samhita. Keeps you updated as always – whether with joyous news or not, I cannot tell☺
A few days back my friend called me with a strange request. He said “I don’t know why this lady feels I can answer her but am sure you can. Can I share your number with her ? Can you please take her call ?” No sooner had I disconnected, than I got a call from one Mrs. MK. She was very anxious and confused. She was an artist with her own studio and was my friend’s customer, sourcing her art materials from his store. She didn’t know him all that well but something in him gave her the confidence that he could guide her properly. Well, my friend himself didn’t think so because the question was about cancer treatment. He promptly directed Mrs. MK to me, confident that I should be able to boost her confidence. Mrs. MK had completed her breast cancer surgery and was to start her chemotherapy the next day. And here she was asking a complete stranger like me “Ma’am please guide me if I should go in for the chemo or skip it ? I am totally confused since some people are asking me to go ahead while my children and a few others are saying it has too many side effects and is not required. In any case surgery is done and you are in advanced stage, what use is chemo ? I am in a dilemma. Will I lose my hair ? where will I get a wig ? can I continue with my studio ? will I lead a normal life thereafter ?” She had the typical questions and anxiety as I could make out from her voice. I allayed her fears and assured her that she must go by her doctor’s advice and not by what others say. While chemo has its side effects, she must not find short-cuts and avoid the treatment. Since the reply came to her from a cancer survivor (leading a normal life since the last 5 years) who had gone through the pain and was speaking from first hand experience, she seemed to have bought my words. At the end of the call, she sounded more certain, less confused and more confident to go ahead with her next round of treatment. She trusted me since she knew I had been on a similar journey before her and would only wish her well, as a ‘senior-comrade’.
I felt happy that I gave hope and courage to a total stranger. Fear of Suffering had turned to Power of Suffering. Yes, I felt suffering empowers us because we can relate to it better, if we have survived some crises in life – be it illness, be it financial, be it emotional. We can bring conviction and credibility to what we say. And offer succour and hope through words and deeds. If a mere phone call can help someone take a life-impacting decision, just imagine what power we have within us to reach out to others as a group. In this regard, headquartered in Bangalore, Pink Hope Support is a cancer survivor’s group working closely with patients and caregivers in many different ways across cities. Pink Hope Connect is a monthly programme involving talks and activities around cancer open to all. Last Saturday, as part of the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September), we had a talk by a leading paediatric oncologist, Dr. Intezar Mehdi of HCG, aptly titled “Let it go, Let it fly”. Many parents and children (survivors leading normal life) spoke as well.
Let me share some key takeaways :
– Don’t waste time shopping for doctors
– Seek help. Don’t disconnect from outside world. Share. Talk to positive people.
– Don’t google. Be part of a group.
– Yoga does wonders
– Don’t ask ‘why’. Ask ‘How’. In childhood cancer cases, rest assured “Nothing I could have done to prevent”. Answer is UNKNOWN. Answer lies in how to treat.
– 70% of childhood cancer is cured. They need normal lives thereafter.
– Children’s open mind reinforces a positive attitude. They cure faster.
– Live your today. Don’t worry about recurrence.
Dear readers, you can choose what you want to from the above. Not all are cancer-specific. But they are ‘Hope-specific’ !