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CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS. - MY STORY & TAKEAWAYS




It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants (Pause) the question is what are we busy about? - Henry David Thoreau [Henry David Thoreau’s literary piece The Battle of the Ants ]


Hi, I am Prashant here to share my story with all of you!


The key message for me has been - Goals are a manifestation of belief and honesty towards self.

This is driven by 3 key elements :

1) Believing in doing

2) Being responsible for decisions

3) Passion and compassion as primal movers in life


I - Believing in Doing


I have always experienced a firm belief in triumphing over challenges, most of which for me are in the mind. This for me is an outcome of the belief I have in doing.

Being from a low middle class income household where education was supposed to reap rewards for you, I got an engineering degree in Information Technology. Securing a job with IBM was considered splendid. It was everyone's dream. But was it mine? Working with MNCs was the dream for many, but for me the calling lay elsewhere. As I took steps to pursue my passion to work for the people a majority of my ecosystem felt this was uncalled for.

Giving up a well paying job in a sunshine industry with a future was something that for middle class youth was harakiri. Why do it? Family, friends, colleagues would often talk me into the patronising concepts of - settling, living for self, working for money, money is everything, travel abroad, search for greener pastures as they say!

My belief to do service for communities was pitted against that of others. I worked with slum dwellers across Delhi & Gurgaon. Carried on with my interest all along where the world could see my passion. While talking to my ecosystem I stayed objective in communicating and patient. The way forward was to do and show all the paths I could see but others couldn’t.


II - Being responsible for Decisions


I moved on to work with communities, as I entered into a phase of choice and decision making. As I explored and experienced new pathways the people around me would often say ‘Don’t come to us and tell us later that you are right’ ‘Don’t come up and ask us what to do?’

& I was like am I doing it today? Why would I do it tomorrow?

Being responsible for the consequences of decisions that I took was key for me. Carrying on my passion for “SERVICE”, I decided to work with Tribals in the North East. It came as a shock to all. The challenges of language, food, and culture were immense. I had thought of it all laying my options on the table. Defining the smallest of details. How would I manage a living? Could I trust the people I would be working for to be kind enough?

I began my journey to the region. On my first day I availed the local transport, the man in charge quipped ‘Bhaiya India se aaye ho!’. I said ‘yes’. I realised the richness and vastness of the landscape I was a part of. How different have we been as citizens? As each day passed I experienced the language, food, day to day habits and so much more. I immersed myself to understand and indulge.

I remember how I was made fun of while I tried to speak in the local language. But with my sense of acceptance and learning, folks who had mocked me helped me understand and speak the language. The cultural values, practices were amazing.

All along the key was to own the sense of responsibilities for decisions I made. Learn from the experiences of “SERVICE” that come along building “SELF”.

As the famous Chinese proverb goes - “A wise person makes his own decisions, an ignorant one would follow the public opinion”


Ever since I have chosen the former as a practice.


III - Passion and compassion as primal movers in life


Once I was back from the North East and started to travel along the forests of Shivalik range of Himalayas, housing the famous Corbett tiger reserve and Rajaji Elephant park and Tiger reserve. Met Tribals, forest dwellers, pastoral nomads. Lived and experienced their lives.


In those moments it felt :


“The question is not how to survive but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humour and style”

Maya Angelou


As I shared my life with the community and experienced theirs on a day to day basis - challenges of Jungle life, systemic inadequacies with no government facilities like water, electricity, ration reaching them - things started to change. They understood my challenges and I theirs all due to my passion and the sense of compassion of the communities.

I now work with Himalayan transhumance community (Van Gujjars) who are pastoral nomads and Taungyas. Their primary livelihood is based on the milk courtesy of the buffaloes they own. Ironically, I am lactose intolerant. So simply put cannot consume milk and milk based products. My people had one thing in abundance and it didn't go with me.


As COVID struck we initiated Covid relief and response in the forests around - health resources for children and women, education, food support. We are developing nutrition gardens as we aim for a shared self reliant future.

After working with them for 3 years I am served black Tea now.

We all can live together in harmony supporting each other in our journeys. All we need is compassion to acknowledge - so much of all that is common and follow our passion to create synergies for us all to travel the long road together for a better future for the world.


So for me 3 things that worked were -

1) Believing in doing

2) Being responsible for decisions

3) Passion and compassion as primal movers in life


Key message being - Goals are a manifestation of belief in self and honesty towards self

I have much more caring and loving ones around, communities whom I have known for 4-5 years of life.


In the end - Be all in or get all out, there is no halfway & to live a happy life, tie it to a goal not to objects and people!


Prashant (Co Founder, Samanta Foundation)

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