The future depends on what we do in the present

I am “Designing the Future” in association with BlogAdda.com & INK talks.

“I’m so crazy I don’t know this isn’t possible!”, said Daffy, while riding an invisible bike.

The “Porky & Daffy” cartoons were my favorites when I was 6 years old. Not knowing that something might be impossible was an old idea that has stuck with me even today, just like that invisible bike. Since I did not know that it was “not” possible, I voluntarily dropped out of school, as I believed I could learn better outside it. And I clung on to a bag full of these old childhood ideas, pulling them out one at a time and playing around with them. My latest muse is Gandhigiri. Old, rusted, washed clean on every 2nd October and then thrown back into the bag. But I decided to take it to the streets and waited to see if it would get swept off!! Well it did not!!

The idea of designing the future brings a million possibilities in my mind – from Wow, to super high-tech to Utopian. But unconsciously there is an attack of these visions of the future, where I see a dwindled number of humans dressed in steel – and no trace of green on our land.

My major concerns today are global warming, going far away from our Indian roots, and an increasing gap between the haves and have nots. These dark thoughts are clouding my vision of the future.

But suddenly there’s a ray of sunshine!

“No matter who you are, some scholar can show you the great idea you had was had by someone before you.” ~Albert Einstein.

We often tend to find ourselves trying to be different, and then complicating that which could be simple. The design of my future is to be as simple and basic as it can be to create a breeding ground for a change, a change that can be scalable and easy for a child as it is for an adult. I believe that quite simply,  execution of the most profoundly discovered ideas can change our future. Not each one ought to be intellectually driven and satisfied to enable it: what is needed is only awareness of the impact a small change of actions can make. I have taken inspiration from one of the most eminent persons in the last century, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

I took up an experiment, just like Gandhiji did, to take responsibility with a few other people. A group I organized outlined five broad causes and worked on them for a week. Read the Manifesto of Mission Gandhigiri, and then read  the results, what actually happened.

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Hello all,

Here’s how we the Youth of Coimbatore can and will drive change in Coimbatore for this week. Activities under five broad causes are going to be executed in different places in the city, with a thrust on R.S Puram and Kovaipudur. Read on!

# For the environment: Planting AND adopting trees and working on responsible waste disposal through people and shops we are in contact with.

# Hope for our public spaces: “Saying that Indian are dirty and we are like that only is cute, but doesn’t do anything to solve the problem. Meet The Ugly Indians! < http://theuglyindian.com/ >  become one, and change Coimbatore’s public spaces (almost) overnight. Open dumps, cigarette littering, paan stains, public urination… it’s absolutely cleanable.

# Celebrating India: A few years down the line Indians are going to be indistinguishable from the increasing mass of Global Village citizen. Becoming “modern” isn’t a bad thing but the word is a bit misused in the context of progress. Modernizing is not about aping Americanism and Westernism, but about how we can bring riches from our past in a present-day context.  It’s about Kalamkari, Karma and Kozhukottai, and you’d better be ashamed if you don’t know what these are. Bring on the Art and Culture – in dress, speech, thought, expression… In association with Bhakti Natya Niketan and Prastara we present to you, BHARAT.

# Serving the lesser privileged: Shanti Ashram from Coimbatore has been doing dedicated service for 26 years in many villages of the city. Under their auspices, we take part in programmes aimed at poverty alleviation and “Sarvodaya” in the 40 villages they have adopted.

Anybody can volunteer, call Aditi at 09787581258 for details.

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What resulted:

For the Environment:
One school and one college agreed to adopt saplings until they they could take care of themselves. We planted 10 saplings in Govt Music College and Govt Corporation School for Girls.


For our Public Spaces:
Volunteers and bakery owners adopted innovatively designed cigarette bins to curb the menacing problem of cigarette litter that no drainage/waste system is designed to handle. One small stretch of pavement in prime commercial area was ‘spot-fixed’! The ground saw sunlight, litter found its place and the walls got a fresh coat of paint. Plastic litter scattered around a favourite sports ground was cleared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service to the Underprivileged:
We attended a workshop at Shanti Ashram and became the first volunteers for their newly launched Poverty Solutions programme with easy, effective solutions. Sixty of us took home “undiyals” (traditional piggy banks) to save money and distribute after four months in the following ways: ⅓ for our own progress, ⅓ for our family and ⅓ as contribution to Poverty Solutions.

Celebrating India:
A series of lecture-demonstrations on the highly overlooked question of why we must stay close to our Indian roots (and still branch out into the world!) struck a chord. The sixty young people in attendance were those at that crucial part of life when they wonder, “Who are we, really?” This talk was accompanied by a dance performance and tour around the venue – the magnificent 7th century temple at Perur.

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This was the execution of an experiment of my design for the future. And what I found in the last few days was startling:
* The area of pavements cleaned or amount of garbage picked up was a measly figure, but those 60 people will never litter their roads or public spaces again.
* Countries and their cultures are dying, but these sixty people care and make efforts, however small, to know, revive and preserve that which is important to them.
* 43% poverty hasn’t been reduced to 3% overnight , but sixty people are taking their role in poverty alleviation seriously, having contributed time, money and efforts.

Coimbatore has hardly changed in the last one week, but can and will see something beautiful in the coming years because these sixty people who took part have experienced inner transformation – they are BECOMING THE CHANGE. This complex idea executed itself to manifest solutions so effortlessly and quickly that it’s quite surprising. As the experiment goes on, 60 could turn into the 16 lakh people of the city, and we’d be looking at a revolution in sensitivity, change and action. Permeating Coimbatore, right through to the world.

My Design for the Future? Being the change, sixty people at a time.

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See more about Gandhigiri at www.facebook.com/Gandhigiri.Cbe

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Mission Gandhigiri ’12 featured in the Deccan Chronicle! See the article here.

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Experiment: Gandhigiri ’12

I’m halfway through Gandhiji’s My Experiments with Truth. It’s had an impact on me in no small measure. The man who always felt so big and chaste was an experimenter. Very, very human. Before reached this pedestal of truth, his journey was littered with cigarettes, meat, Westernism, dancing (!) and a lot of court cases. He made mistakes, turned them into stepping stones and became a source of light for so many people. Not surprisingly, his quotes are used, overused and abused. Most noteworthy in this category being “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

But there’s a reason for its overwhelming relevance. In very simple terms this one sentence solves the complex relationship between problems, responsibility and solutions. And so the last few weeks I’ve been dreaming, thinking and acting.. and with Ashutosh, I came up with the plan for what might turn out to be the largest youth movement in Coimbatore.

                                        Experiment: Gandhigiri ’12

Hello all,

Here’s how we’re going to drive change in Coimbatore, on one day. There are activities under five broad causes and we’re going to execute them in different places in the city. Read on, speak up, do your bit.

For the environment: In association with an NGO, planting trees and cleaning the tanks in the city.

Hope for our public spaces: “Saying that Indian are dirty and we are like that only is cute, but doesn’t do anything to solve the problem. Meet The Ugly Indians!  become one, and change Coimbatore’s public spaces (almost) overnight. Open dumps, cigarette littering, paan stains, public urination… it’s absolutely cleanable.

Vegetarianism drive: Apart from abstaining from meat ourselves, lets make an effort to request hotels, homes, broilers and butchers to help reduce meat consumption on this day. Not impossible. And if you’re wondering why non-vegetarianism is such bad deal, read this: Top 10 reasons not to eat meat.

Celebrating India: A few years down the line Indians are going to be indistinguishable from the Westerners – progress isn’t a bad thing but the word is a bit misused in this context. It isn’t about aping the West but about how we can bring riches form our past in a present-day context.  It’s about Kalamkari, Kalari and Kozhukottai, and you’d better be ashamed if you don’t know what these are. Bring on the Art and Culture – in dress, speech, thought, expression…

Serving the lesser privileged: Collecting blankets for night shelters, cleaning up the places where they stay, getting food and medicines, crowd-sourcing funds etc. In a country like India, there’s no dearth of opportunities to serve people who were born less fortunate than us (sunny side of widespread poverty 🙂 )

ANYBODY in Coimbatore can join this. While there are no restrictions on age, this one’s aimed at youth (and, like the oldies like to say, for “the young at heart”!)  School goers, unschoolers , colleges or working people… if you are ready to give in selfless service for just one day (it happens to be a holiday too, YAY! 😀 ) then it matters not. This movement is starting with one person, and can accomodate hundreds – no amount of service is too small or, too big.

Pick your area of interest and message me/write on my wall, and soon we will create an open group to keep you posted on all the details such as location, time, course of action etc!

On Gandhiji:

He was more than a freedom fighter and is a lot more than the face on our currency. Truth and God went deep with this man, and applied to almost every area of thought. This year we celebrate some things that he believed in, which are more relevant today than ever: vegetarianism, environmentalism, service, simplicity, and his beloved motherland – Bharat.

Bapu said, Be the change you want to see in the world. Abused as this quote is, it hasn’t lost the relevance with the relationship of problems > solutions > changing.

We take responsibility for our Coimbatore on his birthday this year, and he’s going to smile a lovely smile when he sees! 🙂

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I posted this as a note on Facebook a few hours ago and the response has been fantastic. Which goes on to say, to all the stinking pessimists, that there are good people who want to serve and make a difference. I’ve spoken to some NGO’s and big social workers, including Siruthuli and Shanti Ashram, and the next two weeks seem to be promising. I only hope Bapu is watching. 🙂