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Showing posts with label knowledge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label knowledge. Show all posts

HOW TO BE A STRONGEST MAN ?

The strongest man in 
the world is the man who
stands alone

                         - Thomas H. Huxley

Muscle power alone can't denote potency.  Right proportion of mind power with it takes you to the winning path.

 Being strong and sturdy means having self-conviction, perseverance, inexhaustible desire to overcome all the obstacles.

The real test is when you get a series of failures but still keeps your head high with one more attempt.  In this process, some times, you are forced to be alone and  failures cloud your  enthusiasm.  Then turn your mind, remind yourself with these  immortal words of Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam :

F.A.I.L means : First Attempt In Learning
E.N.D. means  : Effort Never Dies
N.O means      :  Next Opportunity.

The world would always respect those who are real-life heroes instead of reel-life heroes. Mahatma Gandhi personifies this   quality.  This fragile and wiry man shook the British Empire with his one point agenda of  ousting British Raj from India through non-violent path.


So be the strongest, physically, mentally, morally and ethically !

MY MISSION : KNOWLEDGE MISSION


In India, English still rules as the most vibrant and viable communication vehicle. There is no dispute in saying that the English is still the mainstay language for our educational and communication needs.

The language has a special charm in Southern and North-Eastern parts of India. Though, I was grown up with my mother tongue Telugu as a medium of instruction up to class 10, my father injected an irresistible charm in me to hone my English speaking and writing skills at the age of 6 or 7. Though English was not taught properly in my school days, it was my dad who had ignited an unflagging spirit and taught me to hone my language skills. Till I entered into my first year of graduation, I was not good enough at writing or speaking in English. Though I had taken English medium in my Intermediate (11th & 12th class) those two years had not helped much to hone my language skills. My father being a qualified stenographer but chose a different profession, used to cherish the career of stenographer which prompted me to learn stenography. So it was in 1988, I started my arduous journey of learning stenography and simultaneously started reading English newspaper - The Hindu daily. As suggested by my father, I used to underline the difficult words in the editorial page and refer dictionary to improve my word power on daily basis. My father used to suggest me to write a passage on any topic on my own to improve my craft. When I followed his word, the desire to excel in English reached to an unfathomable level and I dreamt of writing articles to newspapers/ magazines as a freelancer. An attempt was made by that time to write a letter to the editor of one prominent English newspaper regarding my opinion on certain political issue of that time. When I sent that letter, it was amazing that my piece of comments were published and my joy found no bounds.


The passing of stenography in the second year of my graduation was very much a smooth sail as I put my body and soul on it. By the time I entered into third year of B.Com, one day I was asked by my mother to bring sugar from a nearby provision store. Instead of purchasing sugar, my attention dragged to a nearby second-hand book/old newspaper vendor who stacked and kept a bundle of old English books. When I went near and saw, I was perplexed to see the priceless collection of Vivekananda literature, all published by Ramakrishna Mission. There was hardly any choice and I made up my mind to take the old books with my sugar money. Perhaps, I could not take home sugar, but the sweetness of those books is still lingering in my mind.

When the books were brought home, a recurring dream of Swami Vivekananda for some days put me in quandary to choose between my academic subjects and Vivekananda literature. I could not know what exactly happened to me. A sway of spirituality overpowered me and I find a new delight in Indian philosophy with particular reference to Vivekananda literature. It further drove me to find some other books of Vivekananda in the local Triveni Publishers where I got Vivekandan's famous Chicago lecture book. That electrifying lecture tremendously increased my courage levels. Mine, otherwise a shy guy who always feared to speak in English started talking in English as my friends of that time told me that I used to take long lectures on spirituality. Those books which I purchased occupied a proud place as a first collection in my personal library, started way back in 1989. I had been very kind that my parents did not yell at me for diverting the sugar money for books. Instead, they encouraged me to nurture my reading habit. Afterwards, my father used to give some money on the first of every month and I used to purchase a book or two, thereby I slowly built my treasure trove. Though I almost neglected my studies in preference to Vivekananda literature, I had not felt hard to cope up with exam pressure ,and in fact I excelled in my third year B.Com exams with more than 80 %.

After a little over 2 years struggle in private jobs, Heaven smiled upon me as I was selected as stenographer in a govt. organization. Though it seemed some sort of divine intervention of getting a government job so early at 22, I forecast that I must have to sail in troubled waters ahead. Like I predicted, a major accident dislocated my father's thigh joint and that incident crippled not only our financial well-being but had also taken away my sheen for competing Civil Services Exam. Though, the dream of Civil Services could not materialize, the charm for English did not diminish. I slowly improved my word power by reading newspapers and other english magazines.

There were so many mental challenges, mind wars and personal struggles which made my journey so daunting. In my late 40s I realized that blogging is a better way to express myself that would chisel my craft to perfection. To make the story short, I built my own website with a custom domain called ‘Knoweb’

‘Knoweb’ is an acronym for Knowledge Web . It is driven by a single point agenda of empowering the people with right kind of information. It is a pure Knowledge Mission!

ARE U A GOSSIP MILL?


No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.
                                    
                            - Bertrand Russell

A large chunk of leisure time is spent unproductively by majority of us in gossip. If two people meet, they talk less of themselves and more of the world.

If you involve more in gossip, you will be in utter  chaos. Indulging in such unproductive and futile talk not only seep your energies but also negativity corrodes your system. Instead, you could use those energies for self-reflection so that you can tread a path of
success.

Socrates gives a Triple Filter Test to overcome this problem:

One day an acquaintance met Socrates and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

Hold a minute, Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything, I’d like you to pass a little test. It is called the Triple Filter Test.

Triple filter?

That is right, “Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be good idea to take a moment and filter what you are going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. "

The first filter is TRUTH. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?

"No," the man said, “actually I just heard about it and ...."

All right, “said Socrates.” So you don't really know if it is true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of GOODNESS. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?

"No, on the contrary...”

"So, Socrates continued,” you want to tell me something bad about him, but you are not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of USEFULNESS.

Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me? "

"No, not really. "

"Well, concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?

If everybody prevails on the wisdom of Socrates, we could channelize such unproductive energies for more
creative pursuits.

WHAT IS ELEPHANT'S MEMORY ?

 

I was pretty amazed one night when I read that former Chief Election Commissioner of India T.N. Seshan had an elephant's memory and he could quote verbatim long passages, be it from scriptures, prose or poetry.  This former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from South India was labelled as the  hardest nut to crack in the political circles of his times.

When I see my reading commitments with books piled up on my table, I wish that all information in those books should go into my brain instantly like Director S. Shankar's Tamil science fiction  movie Enthiran in which the hero Dr. Vaseegaran  creates a sophisticated android   that  astonishes the audience with jaw-dropping tricks like reading bulky books/magazines in a blip of second with it's X-Ray eyes.

I wonder whether that  is within human possibility or not.  I can't summarily dismiss that act as shown in that movie.  But there is enough evidence to prove the power of human brain through powerful personalities like Swami Vivekananda who is blessed with such photographic memory.

If we go into the mechanics of memory, it is said that our memory works basically on one cardinal principle : Interest is the mother of attention and attention is the mother of  memory.  If a thing ignites you enough and when you feel the need to memorize, you could do it effortlessly.

When it comes to Elephant's Memory,  I read that Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee is gifted with a phenomenal memory power.  Even in his ripe age, he used to  read a lot and write  journal/diary.     Why it is called elephant's memory because the elephant never forget.   It doesn’t have appreciable eyesight, but it never forgets a face.  The elephants in the group check one another out with their trunks.  Another interesting fact is that  elephants also recall routes to alternate food and water sources when their usual areas dry up. 

The elephant's memory is not an illusion and one could  cultivate it through self effort.



STENOGRAPHER : THE SPECIES UNDER THREAT OF EXTINCTION

The strokes you write hasten your hand. The fingers ride with speaker’s words. It is a perfect symphony of hand and head, an art  which you could master and  chisel  to perfection.

There was a time when the profession of stenographer is considered as middle-class’s breadwinner. It’s charm in 90’s in India is something you can’t find  in this Information Age.  The government sector is still the main  stakeholder of stenographers. But no doubt, it is becoming a dying profession and I doubt its survival in the coming decades as technology replaces maximum human labour.

If you go back to history of stenography, it is believed that the word stenography is derived from the Greek words steno (narrow) and graphein (the art of writing). It is also known as tachygraphy (quick writing), brachygraphy (short writing), zeiglographia and semography.  We find that   hundreds of shorthand writing systems and scripts have been experimented and used for more than 2000 years.

In good olden days, Notarii (reporters) write the speeches of roman senators. The famous writer George Bernard Shaw wrote all his literature in shorthand. Famous novelist Charles Dickens was also a shorthand writer. It is said that Shakespeare’s plays were preserved by means of shorthand. In Mughal Era, Qatibs (reporters) were appointed to take down Shahi Farmaan (orders of the king). These  historical traces indicate the prevalence of shorthand since time immemorial.

Shorthand is no doubt a dry subject. My own impression being a stenographer is : laborious; uninteresting. The primary qualification to win over this art is, patience.  For initial 2 -3 months, you can’t generate interest to go forward and you have to blindly follow the exercises with daily practice. Whether somebody makes it as a profession or not but it is an art that anybody could  learn which immensely helps in note-taking, especially by students in their studies.

The stenographer earns his/ her reputation being exponent in this art. Charles Dickens, the famous novelist says that ‘’learning of Shorthand is equal to learning of 6 new languages’’. George Bernard Shaw felt that  learning of shorthand makes him independent of typewriters, of  Dictaphones and of the immediate present of a Secretary. The Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi says that Shorthand writers-cum-reporters hold the prestige of public men in the hollow of their palms….

The most prominent stenographic systems is Pitman Shorthand. Sir Isaac Pitman published his stenographic work : soundhand in 1837, later called phonography or Pitman’s Shorthand based on the phonetic structure of the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. History says that till the advent of Pitman phonetic system, nearly four-hundred plus systems of English Shorthand had been experimented in England alone.

There are other stenographic systems in the world as well, like Gregg System which is based on the longhand letters and became popular in United States. There was also a Sloan – Duployan System which is an adoption of French system into English.

The heroic figure for stenographers  in contemporary times is Dr. Gopal Datt Bisht, the first ever Ph.D in stenography in the world, and the Guinness Record holder for the highest shorthand writing speed of 250 words per minute.

There were also proud moments for stenographers in the annals of history. One of the stalwarts who did yeomen service is J.J. Goodwin (1870 – 1898). This British stenographer was initially assigned the task of noting down the lectures of Swami Vivekananda during his first tour to United States.

The credit for transcribing  large portions of Swamiji’s literature goes to Goodwin who painstakingly translated the Master’s  extempore words into inspiring stuff. Within a short span, Goodwin became Vivekananda’s close friend and disciple. The amount of love and respect Goodwin earned from Vivekananda is indescribable. When Goodwin died at a very young age,  Vivekananda wrote that : The debt of gratitude I owe him can never be repaid, and those who think they have been helped by any thought of mine ought to know that almost every word of it was published through the untiring and most unselfish exertions of Mr. Goodwin. In him I have lost a friend true as steel, a disciple of never-failing devotion, a worker who knew not what tiring was, and the world is less rich by one of those few who are born, as it were, to live only for others.

The seeds of interest to learn shorthand were first sprouted in me by my father who is a qualified stenographer.  He impressed upon me that the proficiency of English   is linked to learning shorthand. He  ignited a zeal in me  to hone my language skills.

 Automation, new technological  aids and smartphones completely changed the  landscape of present day office set-up especially in private organizations.  Digital devices replace humans as personal assistants and  this indicates  a danger of extinction of this species called Stenographer,  sooner than expected ! 

TIME TO FLEX THE MUSCLES IN THE BRAIN

We are groomed in a system where books are treated more as an academic tool than life enriching experience. We see only a minuscule percentage of people who nurture reading as a habit beyond student life.

When I undertake journeys, it is appalling to see few people with books. In this respect, our Western counterparts are a wiser lot, because their society is more knowledge centric. This behavioral deficiency can be cured by taking a conscious decision to nurture the habit of reading as a daily dose to make life more blissful.

“Books” according to American critic E.P. Whipple, “are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. “ Through reading, we get the endurance to accommodate the view point of others. Reading is more a sort of exercise to the mind. A book will give the necessary impetus to withstand the pulls and pressures of daily life. Books are messengers through which a person’s ideas, experiences and insights are shared with the whole world.

The great people of past have already recognized the importance of books. The Catholic archbishop, poet and writer François Fénelon sagely said “If the crowns of all the kingdoms of the empire were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all

Books should not be chosen casually as we are generally deceived by the title of books but be rather  intelligent enough to choose a book.  Then comes the task of ‘reading’. The ‘how’ of reading a book is better interpreted by Sir Francis Bacon: “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested”.

Reading makes a complete man. Moreover, reading is not a passive activity. To read a book, you have to prepare the mind in that direction and a conducive atmosphere needs to be created.  The decisive factor involves in choosing a good book is to gaze into its reviews which form a central plank in deciding the fate of the book.

In fact the holistic approach for book reading is to take important notes in the course of reading that book which will aid  you  for future reference.  Book reading is not for sensual pleasure. The books that kindle our imagination and elevate our thoughts are the right kind to read. “No entertainment is so cheap as reading” says 18th century writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. We cannot bring any radical change in people’s perception regarding ‘books’ unless we first achieve cent per cent literacy.

According to UN Human Development Report - 2020, adult literacy rate of India is pegged at 74.4%. We are in shambles with regard to Human Development Index (HDI) which is 0.645 (Rank 131), lagging behind our neighboring island nation Sri Lanka which is at 0.782 (Rank 72).

A multi-pronged approach is needed to achieve the objective . Yearly Book Fairs that are now held only in some select cities need to spread to every district headquarter and a coordinated approach is required to attract local people. Moreover State Libraries need to be strengthened with adequate funds to mould them into ‘modern temples of knowledge’. School children must be nurtured to go to libraries and parents need to give them books as gifts for occasions. There is also a need for Self Knowledge Groups’ among students and other stakeholders for sharing of knowledge.

Other than governmental interference in the form of financial aid and policy planning, a parental approach will only bring a perceptible change. Otherwise we continue to remain in dirt.