Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Citizenship as a way of life

I have found my Guru

A Life Transforming Encounter With Citizenship

I feel quite fulfilled in my journey of life. I have reaped sufficient outer fruits, plenty of inner fruits and countless joys of contribution. The only fruit that eluded me is promotion. Of late, I have also started hoodwinking it as a return gesture! I have a well located house, a decent lifestyle, cheerful health (touch wood!), a loving family, good friends of both sexes (much to the envy of some of my dear friends!), some publications to my credit, a steady growth, an understanding of human behaviour, taste for arts and culture, satisfaction of contributing significantly to my extended family and an ever growing pool of well wishers.

Though I always felt at peace with myself, I had no one to look up to in intriguing times. My friends went to temples and prayed, some of them pursued yoga and meditation and others had their own ways of finding solace. I do not believe in any rituals though I don’t mind going to temples etc. During times of crisis, I felt a sense of void. May be it was because I had a predominantly scientific view of life.

I have been a sincere student of human psychology and a behavioural science trainer (minus the eccentricities, of course). I delved in to positive psychology and was for a while thinking of designing a programme on authentic happiness (based on the work of Martin Seligman and others on the subject) as my mission in life is to make people happy. The school of thought I was following laid down various components of happiness beautifully and, in the end, stipulated that all these would bring happiness but you should also do something worthwhile and meaningful in your life. Making a positive contribution was just one of the building blocks of authentic happiness among so many others.

Beginning of my citizenship journey

It was sometime in June 2009 when all the Circle Development Officers and Intervention Leaders gathered for the first workshop on Project Citizen-SBI at the Corporate Centre, Mumbai. This was the first time we saw and heard Mr V Srinivas – half-sleeved white shirt, curly hair and the glow of conviction. He propounded the concept well but most of the audience at that time felt that it was too abstract. I remember interacting with him during the lunch break to share with him my experience with Parivartan and the need for Hindi and vernacular versions of the programme. I extended an invitation to conduct pilots in Bhopal Circle and also complimented him for his outstanding oratory skills, knowing little then about his deep conviction and intense engagement with the subject.

Then we had a longish workshop and pilots at Taj Banjara, Hyderabad during August where I found time to go through the foundation notes on various dimensions of citizenship. This was followed by pilots at State Bank Academy, Gurgaon where we had a solid apprenticeship in all nuances of Citizenship and also the art of facilitation. Here, I would like to add that this programme has given us a rich pool of well equipped facilitators and prompted our Training System to take a giant paradigm leap forward. Later on, the facilitator gym back home was a unique experience. We shuttled many a times to the multi purpose hall at the Bandra-Kurla complex to fine tune the programme versions and our own understanding of citizenship.

A new way of life

As the citizenship orientation programmes progressed, I found myself deeply immersed in citizenship – classes, travel, talking with participants over phone, contributing for the Google groups of Intervention Leaders and Facilitators, setting up and propagating the CitizenSBI blog, answering all the queries from across the country (as if I was an expert in citizenship!) and developing a real as well as a virtual citizen community. I found that I was working and thinking citizenship 24x7 and felt charged up all through with no traces of fatigue. Some friends started saying that I have internalized citizenship and was becoming more and more citizenized with each passing day. All put together, we looked at 101 dimensions of citizenship from 1001 different angles. Don’t believe? Just go through the groups and the blog!

It then dawned upon me that I have discovered a new way of life. I had started contributing positively on a regular and continuous basis in so many spheres and was in a state of flow. In my college days I had adopted cricket as a view of life. Cricket helps you to develop sportsman spirit, accept defeat as well as victory and is a gentleman’s game. The citizenship philosophy gives a lot of fulfilment as we continuously get opportunities to touch lives of others. It is not just something swantah sukhai, it caters to the welfare of others.

Some faces of my success

The facilitators and participants have reposed so much trust on me that I have developed confidence to find a pathway to any problem under the sun and overcome the challenges. This strength is derived from the faith that others have on me.

One of the citizens who had suffered an unforgettable hurt and found life meaningless, has found solace in contributing to the cause of citizenship daily. May I reproduce the exact words – aaj phir jeeney kee tamanna hai…What more impact can a programme have on an individual’s life?

One of the master facilitators told me that whenever we need anything in citizenship, we know that you are always there.

I have already shared the story of the citizen union leader who contributes regularly for my learning centre and is a regular visitor. He finds something amiss if he doesn’t have a cup of tea with me on any day. I know I can depend upon him. He is my Man Friday.

One of the intervention leaders says that he has developed the writing habit because of my continuous follow up with him to contribute for the blog. We converse almost daily and he reveres me like his elder brother.

I know that I can touch lives. For that I realise that I should be pure in my heart. Not that I was lecherous in my deeds but I have curbed my baser instincts even in thought and feelings.

Tasting some success out of CitizenSBI blog, I created some other blogs too. One of them was for my son who is a biker and loves to perform stunts. When his friends praised the blog, he had this to say to his friends on Facebook – No yaar, I have not done it. It’s my dad. He is an expert blogger now.

Aur merey paas Maa bhee hai! I understand that my mother told folks in our native place the other day – Bhagwan sabko merey Jagat jaisa beta deh! What more can I aspire for after this?

Eklavya finds Guru Drona

During my entire journey of citizenship, I have been watching one man with a lot of respect. I have read all his writings like we read scriptures (and here I don’t mean “without applying my mind”!). His dedication and devotion to the cause of citizenship is simply amazing. I have never witnessed such conviction earlier in my life. In my heart of hearts, I have accepted him as my Guru. I am his follower in words and deeds.

Just like Eklavya found a guru in Dronacharya, I have found my guru in Mr V Srinivas, CEO and Lead Researcher, Illumine Knowledge Resources, Mumbai. The similarity hopefully ends here. I presume he won’t ask me to present my thumb to him in guru-dakshina.

Many of the readers would already know about him but for those who don’t and feel curious, I provide below a link to know more about him:

I invite you to be my guru-bhai or behen and join my community.

P.S. – I also love and adore his entire team – Biren, Joyeeta, Rebecca, Mahima, Parul …

State Bank Learning Centre, Indore