Jul 29, 2009

Meaning of Life

Was reading pico iyer’s wonderful piece in the NYT and hence this blog. This is the part that moved me the most, “The first words the Dalai Lama said when he came into exile, I learned not long ago, were “Now we are free.” He had just lost his homeland, his seeming destiny, contact with the people he had been chosen to rule; he had been forced to undergo a harrowing flight for 14 days across the highest mountains in the world. But his first instinct — the result of training and teaching, no doubt, as much as of temperament — was to look at what he could do better. Now.”

I read Dale Carnegie rather late in life. Yeah, some 4.5 yrs ago to be precise. I was 29 & pregnant in my third trimester & my baby had stopped moving. Doc Maity, the old curmudgeon who ultimately delivered D, told me curtly, ‘Ask god to give u the strength to bear things which u cannot change; ask him to give u the power to change things which u can.’ Saying this he thrust a dog-eared copy of carnegie’s definitive ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ into my tear-stained face. I couldn’t quite hate him for he’s a surrogate pa for me, but curse his blithe spirit, I sure did.

Over the next few years I have read, pored over & saved countless articles/blogs which essentially talk about the same thing. Whether it’s the fable of the glass being half empty, the serenity prayer, or inspiring tales of people who have turned their lives around despite upheavals, nothing touches me more than these anecdotes of unknown people who exhibit such outstanding instances of courage. We talk of wonders & the paucity of them in the modern world. Isn’t the existence of such people a wonder? Isn’t the ability to feel awe & genuine respect in the face of relentless cynicism, a wonder?

Finally, why are we really here on this earth? A great fate & immortal fame is guaranteed to only the select few. But when u get down to brass tacks it is indeed thoughts of future generations of mankind that must keep folks like u & me going. How else can I explain your impulse to propel the rain-water harvesting initiative in your building? How else can I explain your selflessness in agreeing to tutor those smelly slum kids twice a week? Why is someone like bill gates even championing the cause of Functional Foods to combat global malnutrition? It is about posterity. Sabyasachi Chakravorty who plays the role of a terrorist leader in mani ratnam’s ‘dil se’ tells fresh recruit manisha koirala, “It’s not imp that we are born in a perfect world; what is important is that we leave behind a better dawn for the children who follow when we die.’ How simple, yet how profound.
Is this all getting too mushy? Ok, let’s touch upon some rudimentary economics. All of what I’ve said above is not merely some grand moral singsong. It is also grounded in fundamental economic principles. Would you begin to build an empire that u know couldn’t anticipate the business needs of tomorrow’s consumers? If social media integration stopped with orkut, would we all be poring over twitter feeds from gul panag and Nicholas kristof? Definitely not.

While the capitalist desire for profit making is fundamentally self-absorbing, I do believe once the immediate need for bottom lines & shareholder profits is fulfilled, companies drive innovation not merely to improve P/L accounts but also to leave something behind for posterity. America’s greatest museums, university scholarships & libraries, science & literary awards are funded by private philanthropists, not government sponsored. Our home grown Tata’s are another case in point. i once had the good fortune to visit a Piramal plant in rural Himachal Pradesh that was fully run by women! Yes, a machine component plant that was 100% manned by women workers and this was a deliberate decision taken by the senior management aimed at uplifting & empowering the women in that region. Those words from ‘dil se’ words make sense now?


indiana said...

only you could have gone and found profound utterances from a movie that gave us "chaiya chaiya"!! :)

god bless malaika!! :)

drift wood said...

ah! u know me. am adept at picking gems. :-)