The tragedy of success!

A personal experience on why success really not matters in life!

Who doesn’t want success in life? I am sure everyone are affirmative regarding success. Because failure is bad, it hurts, makes us feel sad and depressed. While success on the other side, makes us happy, popular and even powerful. The society praises the successful people. But, success brings with it its own set of tragedies, and we have to pay a price for that.

Let me tell you my school days story. I used to be a topper in my school. I was a A student or grade wise, a straight 4.0 guy. My primary focus in my school days was just study, get good grades, become a topper and again study more. Its almost like I was stuck in a infinite loop where more study made me topper in my class, but then I used to become afraid that I might lose out, and so I used to study even more for the next grade. So, basically, I was stuck, quite badly stuck!

Now, when I look back to my 14 or 15 year old me, I simply cannot stop laughing. Because I really don’t understand what made me so obsessed for topper rank or in other words, fascinated for success. I had tasted my fair share of success, but somehow that taste soon became insatiable. I wanted more and more, and however, more I got, I was not happy. Still the fear to lose out the top rank or even lose the praise from the society or family made me do that.

But now I realise that becoming successful is actually dangerous in life. Because the price to pay for success is much more than the fruits gained out of success! Why do I say so?

Let me elucidate by what I mean by tragedy of success. As I said, I got success quite early in my life. But assuming that was the biggest mistake I ever made. Because I did not learn the joy of hard working. Even though I was hard working, but my attention was always fixated on the outcome, and not on the process of doing. Hence, whenever I achieved the end result, I just moved on to the next goal, without even thinking how much efforts I had really made. Its almost like I had become some sort of machine.

So, when I say I did not know the joy of hard working is because the ones who fail in that age, know how much efforts it takes to become successful. They know how much work is needed to climb the ladder. Those who fail early in life become appreciative about their own efforts. Those who fail and succeed, not only understand what they have gained, but also the means by which they have reached the zenith. And that’s the best part of failing and succeeding. Because at the end, its not the goal that gives the joy, but the journey that takes us towards it. Its like a roller coaster ride, where the ups and downs are what we enjoy, and not the end of the ride, right!

This is the first tragedy of success which makes us forget that it is not the end, but the means that really matters!

I missed that train in that tender age. Because I not only feared failing, but also feared to change the path. Because once I knew the mantra to success, I just kept blindly following it. By that I mean I just started emulating the same way of studying or working to get the final goal. And it worked, because my path gave me the top rank. And that’s why I said before, I had become some sort of machine, because only machines never change their way of working. It’s as if I was programmed in some sort and I religiously executed the code!

But in that process I failed. Why? Because I missed the important lesson of not trying to change the course. When we stick to some way of work or living, we get stuck. We then don’t innovate or try something different. We then don’t learn new things and miss experiencing new adventures in life. And when we don’t learn or experience, that means our life is stuck. Its like a pond where water gets stagnant and eventually dries up, without no fresh inflow of water. While the river on the other side, flows and is dynamic.

This is the second tragedy of success, where consistent success makes us stick to the same path, thereby turning our river like life into a pond, which someday gets stagnated and eventually dries up( and making us bored of success as well)

Finally, the third tragedy of success is quite known which is nothing but complacency. As the legendary CEO of Intel Andy Grove quoted, “Success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure…” When we get too much repeated success, then we gradually become complacent. This is the law of nature. Because if this would not have been true then the mighty empires like Roman, Ottoman, British would never have fallen down. Even the toppers, the richest, the most famous would have always maintained their status quo. But they all went down, eventually. Because they got complacent at some point in life.

So, the third tragedy of success tells us that even success is not eternal. Yet we strive for it, because we forget that it is not going to be with us forever. Of course this does not mean, that we should not aim for success. No. But knowing the wisdom that if we cling on to just success, then either we become complacent, or we become paranoid to maintain it, which is nothing but the first tragedy of success, where we become like machines to guard our precious success. But doing so, just makes us lose the joy of achieving it. Then what’s the point of getting that success when we can’t even enjoy what we have achieved, right?

Thus, I end this post, with the simple message I learnt from my personal experience of being an early success in life. And that is, to never go after success. Rather to focus on the path of excellence, which inevitably leads us to the pinnacle of success, someday. And the magic is we don’t even know when we have climbed the Everest because we were busy enjoying the ascent of Everest!

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Book review: The Billionaire Raj

A commentary on India’s journey through its own gilded age

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Over the last week, I completed reading this book about India’s economic journey since 1991 till date. The book is written by James Crabtree, and it was published in 2018. I found the book pretty interesting and below are some of the observations and comments regarding the book.

The Book is divided into three parts:

  • Part 1: Tycoons
  • Part 2: Political machines
  • Part 3: A new gilded age

The Part 1 highlights the stories of some of the richest billionaires in India. The author simply couldn’t have begun the chapter without mentioning about Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India. The story of the rise of Ambani family, along with their world’s billion dollar house ‘Antilia’ is very sparkling. The author then mentions about the other tycoons in India such as Gautam Adani, and the once ‘King of Good Times’ ( but currently fallen down to King of Bad Times), none other than Vijay Mallya. The author coins the term ‘Bollygarchs’ for these tycoons because of their resemblence with the Russian Oligarchs, for having gained enormous wealth after 1991, thereby widening the divide between the rich and the poor.

The Part 2 chapters mention about the political machines which drives the crony capitalism. Several scandals are covered in these chapters, especially during the 2009-2013 era, which includes the CWG, coal scam, 2G scam and then the bad debts incurred by the public sector banks due to non payments of huge loans taken by businessmen like Vijay Mallya, Subroto Roy and even Anil Ambani. The inter-dependency between business and politics in India is covered in detail. Especially in the south, particularly Andhra region, the nexus between businessman and politicians is often close knit to the extent they both are inseparable. That’s why the author calls them as ‘Andhrapreneurs’ who not only built huge industries but also became politicians to get their business deal done. This part also throws light on how industrialists like Gautam Adani could become so rich after 2000, in a mere span of 20 years, just because of his proximity to the then Gujarat CM and now PM Narendra Modi. The political machines( running and winning elections) are costly and hence, only private businessmen can fund such an enormous enterprise, for which they expect favors from the winning government.

Finally, the part 3 covers various topics like bad debt problem which the Indian public sector banks have been facing since 2013. Many big industries took huge loans during the India shining decade of 2003 to 2013, when the GDP rate of India reached 8-9% for quite sometime. The wave of rising GDP and having a former finance minister, Manmohan Singh as a liberal and pro-business face of the government, made these tycoons bet heavily beyond their paying ability. Almost everyone took the risk, and this led to the enormous ‘House of Debt’ on the banks. Then the season of scams happened in 2010-2011, and further the appointment of honest men like Raghuram Rajan as RBI Governor, and Vinod Rai as CAG made the life of crony capitalists difficult. The banks started demanding the payback of ‘house of debt’ and this led to the fall of the big names like Andhrapreneurs ( GVK, GVM etc), Vijay Mallya, Subroto Roy, Naveen Jindal etc. Further, the election of Narendra Modi led to even more stricter rules where corruption became almost non-existent. Hence, the once over confident tycoons became ‘anxious tycoons’ as covered in the chapter.

Then the author also writes about the other scams like IPL (Indian Premier League) and how cricket got completely changed in the last 15 years. Its almost as if the once game of gentlemen became the game of billionaires, who started owning teams, exerting control over BCCI and ICC and almost led to the death of the gentlemen’s game. Only lately the reforms were brought in by the supreme court which led to the ouster of billionaires like Lalit Modi and N.Srinivasan, appointment of able gentlemen like Ramachandra Guha, Vinod rai and recently Saurav Ganguly in the BCCI board.

It would be highly surprising if the author did not mention about the Indian media and his remarks on the ‘Modi’fied India. The rise of Indian private sector media is thoroughly covered by the author. How Arnab Goswami became the right face within the leftist dominated media is discussed along with the author’s rendezvous with the rebellious journalist. Later, the author highlights the journey of Narendra Modi from a simple chai-wallah to becoming one of the most popular and powerful PM of India.

But the author also expresses his opinions in the chapter ‘The tragedies of Modi’. He opines that once the world looked upon Modi as an ultra-conservative right wing leader having pro-business policies. But looking at his journey since 2014, the author worries that the opposite has happened. Modi did not create any wedge based on religious or communal lines, and have rather rendered a clean, corruption free, non-biased governance against every liberals expectations from him. But on the other side, he has been very conservative when it comes to his pro business policies. Instead of creating a private sector utopia, he has led to even more inclusive, self-reliant ‘Atmanirbhar’ and more government control leadership. Though he did not shy away from taking bold decisions like demonetisation in 2016, but on the other side there has not been much of a economic reform when it comes to private sector entrepreneurship. The heavy control of government on public sector industries, banking continues till date. As this book was written in 2018, hence Modi’s 2019 grand victory is not covered, but the author did mention that PM has taken care of making sure not to upset the common man, and at the same time, keep the big industry happy as well.

Finally, the book’s name as ‘Billionaire Raj’ is congruous with the pre-1991 era after independence, which was known as ‘License Permit Raj’. But since 1991, there has been a ‘Billionaire Raj’ not only because of the rise in the number of Indian billionaires in the Forbes richest list, but also because this journey from 1991 till date is strikingly similar to the ‘Gilded Age’ of America in 1870’s to 1900’s. Infact the parallel is stunningly similar that famous economists like Ashutosh Vasrhney, Jayant Sinha and many others have written about this parallel between today’s India and the Gilded Age America.

Infact, the author even compares Narendra Modi with the US President Teddy Roosevelt’ because Modi also has embarked on the journey to clean the system from corruption, and channel the country into a progressive era like America had from 1896 till the end of 1910’s decade. At that time, various anti-trust laws were made in USA against the big businesses like Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. We see that today’s Ambani’s and Adani’s are no different than America’s Gilded Age barons. That’s why the author names the part 3 as ‘A New Gilded Age’ and expresses hope that the coming years will be the ‘Progressive Era’ for India when the middle class should become more powerful, corruption to be checked, and the power of technology and capital to become the dominant force over religion and crony capitalism.

I also carry the same hope that the next 20+ years from 2014 onwards become known as ‘Progressive Era’ in the history of India. We already see the problems like corruption and terrorists attacks which plagued India before 2014 no longer trouble us. Isn’t this a sign of a new progressive era? Even though the pandemic has halted our progress, and there are many systemic problems yet to be solved, but with the ongoing digital revolution, and rise of educated young generation, I am sure India will continue to progress…..

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Weathering the Storm…

India has been ravaged by the 2nd wave of pandemic which started since the mid-April. Now, its been a month, and things are getting no where near to settle down. Many experts predicted that India might see the peak of pandemic during mid-May, but now it seems no one is sure when will the peak come, or if it has already passed before. Everywhere, there is chaos, and confusion, be it in the media, or academics, government and business as well….

Even though recently the news of Israel-Palestine conflict has been streamed on the new channels and social media, but until then, it was all pandemic, covid and India, everywhere. Be it Indian media, western media, YouTube channels, Facebook, Newspapers or even when I talked with my relatives and friends, the topic is only about pandemic. It seems we all have been over whelmed and even taken over by the sheer force of the 2nd wave which swamped our life with a terrible shock.

Hence, for many days, I just couldn’t think of anything else apart from the why, when, what, how sort of questions. Why India got affected in such a bad way? When did it all start, and what were our government authorities doing to counter this? Why weren’t we prepared for this 2nd wave? How can we combat this, and weather this storm?

I know everything is not in my hands right now. Overthinking or worrying about it wont solve this crisis. Its a collective responsibility from all of us. All I can do right now is to follow the covid protocol, which includes wearing a mask, staying at home as much as possible, getting vaccinated, and keeping a positive mindset.

Much has been discussed in the media about all the precautions, but I find very less discussion about keeping a positive mindset. Hence, I thought to write something about this in this post which might help someone during this pandemic. First of all, I find one of the best way to keep a positive mindset and thereby remove the fear and negativity, is to keep ourselves busy in some work or hobby. As we all are at home, there is a lot we can do such as

-> I started reading books, especially challenging myself to complete a book every weekend. We might be busy during weekdays, and hence, we might get some free time only during weekends. I started reading book, and have completed 1 book each weekend since last month. Read any book, as long as it is not related to the pandemic or health issues. We are already over-whelmed with the illness fear, we don’t want to read about health and illness. So, I read a book on espionage world, and have started reading a book about relationships. This will help me in the long run and keep my busy for now.

-> Watch movies, documentaries. Yes, I am sure there is no need to put this option, as most of us already are enjoying this. I think Netflix and other OTT mediums are a boon during this pandemic. We can see any movies and TV shows anytime. We can make good use of our home time to watch our favourite shows or movies.

-> Home gardening – I started working on this pretty recently. And I found it to be so relaxing. Either we can purchase plant saplings or even we can just sow the seeds to grow the plants. Apart from flowers, I found we can grow some useful plants like basil, alovera, lemon grass, pepper mint which we can use to increase immunity as well. I have been using its leaves in making chai. Gardening can be very relaxing hobby and also make us close to nature, which are positive aspects of good health.

-> Regarding social media, I know it is very difficult to stop using it. But I found that in these chaotic times, the very use of social media can be very depressing. Hence, I decided to deactivate Facebook and messenger, so that I can keep out the depressing stuff away for a while. Then, I even turned off all the notifications of news apps so that I do not get disturbed with the non-stop flow of news updates which are mostly about the pandemic. But we also need to stay in touch with news. I found that listening to Radio ( India has official ‘News on Air’ app which gives detailed yet precise information.) It is much much better than the shouting and screaming on the other news channels. Also, reading opinion columns from famous columnists can be very informative as well.

-> Finally, practising meditation and listening music is another habit I have inculcated in the past few days. Instead of YouTube, I prefer radio apps which can play songs without the need to remain glued to the screen. I can often work and listen radio or podcasts together, which is far more productive. And meditating for few mins during the day is very helpful. It is like a shower for the mind to forget everything that’s going in the world, and just relax. Its OK to be selfish when it comes to our mental peace and relaxation. Because worrying about the future or when the pandemic is going to end is not going to solve the problem.

I also see many people volunteering during these times of need. Its a noble act to help someone in need, be it by blood donation, giving food to the poor, or even financially helping some NGO which is treating poor patients with the necessary medical supplies. I just think its better to avoid active volunteering, which is going out to hospitals, or coming in contact with covid patients, in case we are not vaccinated yet. Once we get both the covid jabs, then its more safer to volunteer in the field. Better to be safe and cautious for a while.

Thus, I hope we all weather this storm and stay positive by keeping ourselves busy, and with a mindset that this is going to end someday. At the end, we will come out stronger than before.

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Opinion on Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream

Commentary on the inside the IIT Dream

Netflix's Alma Matters: Will It Even Scratch The Surface Of Sexism In  Engineering Colleges?
Reference

Today,  I watched an amazing documentary film named Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream on Netflix. It is one of the best documentaries made on IIT and Indian education system so far. I am adding my comments and opinions about this 3 episode series

This documentary is based on the life of students in IIT Kharagpur. This IIT is located in Bengal, and faraway from all the big metro cities in India. The campus is lush green and very remote. The first episode shows how the life of IIT students revolves around departments to residence halls, commuting using bicycles, eating in canteen and living the hostel life. The students who get selected in IIT have worked hard to crack one of India’s toughest exams, JEE and hence, after two years of jail time (Class 11 and 12), as remarked by one of the students, hardly anyone studies seriously after entering the IIT. Because the students get the freedom after their jail time, and hence there is no motivation to study hard again, with few exceptions as always.

Infact, it is shown in the film as conveyed by the students themselves that many of them are confused about their careers. Because first they dont know what they want to do in life, and second they have received admission based on their JEE rank. So, for someone who has a low JEE rank, ends up studying mining or metallurgy, while the JEE top rankers select Computer Science. Hence, many students in spite of their interest in Computer Science cannot study just because they could not perform well on the fateful day of the JEE entrance exam. 

Then, the first episode also shows how gender bias still exists in places like IIT Kharagpur. Many girls studying in IIT experience this bias and sexist behavior of guys in almost everything. That’s why there has never been a single woman president or vice president of the student body in the history of the institution. The primary reason is the huge gender gap ratio, which is almost 1:9 for girls:guys. Hence, the institution is male dominated, in every sphere of life.

Then the second episode ( which is the best out of the three as per my opinion) is based on the job placements in IIT Kharagpur. All the IITs are not only famous in India for selecting the brightest minds, but also for their job placements packages. We often hear engineers from IIT getting Rs.1 Cr package. It is true that some do receive such luxurious packages, but it is not that all studying in IIT get such hefty paying jobs before graduation. Infact, this episode debunks the myth that all IIT engineers end up getting hefty salaries or jobs in Google or Microsoft. Infact as told by many IIT students studying there, very few, maybe 1 or 2 in a placement calendar year, only receive such life changing offers. While others either get good or industry standard packages only.

The episode also nicely shows how tense the students are to get the jobs. Because it is a matter of prestige and status. If IIT engineers, who are known as the best minds in the country, fail to land up a job, then how else can other engineers get the jobs? Hence, the pressure to perform and get placed is very very high. Many students don’t sleep or eat before interviews. They work hard with night outs, taking mock tests and group discussions to clear the interview round. Often the pressure is so high, that many get addicted to constant smoking or even drinking to release the stress. After seeing this episode, I remembered the movie ‘3 Idiots’, where Amir Khan aka ‘Rancho’ tells how the engineering colleges have ceased to be a place of learning, and rather have become a kind of ‘Pressure Cooker’. Indeed, after watching this second episode of this documentary, Rancho was right!

Finally, the third or final episode shows some hidden side of IIT Kharagpur(KGP). The so-called studious 9 pointers, or lazy 6 pointer engineers, participate in art, drama, painting and many other hobbies apart from their studies, video games, movies and smoking. The unique tradition of Illu in KGP to light diyas on a beautiful theme and convey the message shows how the left and right brain, when worked together, can create a beautiful world. The paintings created by the nerdy engineers reflect the hidden artistic talent inside their logical minds.

Then, this episode also shows a dark side of IIT KGP, which is suicide. Each year, 4- 5 students end up committing suicides and this is deeply troubling. The interviews with students throws light on the possible reasons behind the high suicide rate, such as excessive pressure to perform and excel, isolated campus, being away from parents and unable to cope up with the pressure and stress. I remember, one of my good IIT friend, committed suicide and it was deeply depressing. I don’t know why someone who has made it into IIT, unlike millions like me who couldn’t get into IIT in spite of trying hard, and still give up on life like that. I mean even if the academic stress or peer pressure is extremely unbearable in places like IIT, but there is always a way out. Because those 4 or 5 years are just a phase of life, and that phase surely ends someday. If someone fails in that phase of life, it does not mean that he or she will fail in other phases of life as well! I wish my friend would have thought about this, and he would have been alive today!

Finally, the episode ends with the camaraderie among students and friends who have bonded with each other for the past 4 or 5 years. At the end, almost everyone gets a job before graduating from IIT, and many of them end up going to IIM, crack UPSC or fly to USA for their M.S or Ph.D. Later in life they become like the Sundar Pichai’s or even Chetan bhagat in life. The episode ends with a very simple yet profound message from one of the students, who is not so good at academics in IIT, being a 6 pointer, and yet successfully landing a job, shares the secret to the viewers that “The most important thing in life is to never give up!”

I have had many IIT friends during my M.S in the USA, and one of them is a very good friend, almost like a brother. He comes from a small non-english speaking background, got into IIT KGP with his sheer determination, then completed his masters in IISc, and now is doing his Phd in the USA successfully. He is one of the best examples of perseverance, hard work and never give up attitude in life.

I used to believe that maybe these bunch of IITians are really smart and intelligent, and hence they become so rich and famous in their life. Yes, they are smart, but it is not their smartness, or how fast they can solve problems, rather it is their attitude which is the secret of their success. Those four years together mould them to become tough, and develop the attitude to never give up in front of any problems. They learn to handle pressure, and they burn the midnight oil to get the work done, or meet deadlines often. This ability to perform under pressure, take quick decisions, survive in tough environments ( with the ragging included) and to face the problems with confidence is what makes them so valuable to the corporate and tech companies. Because today’s corporate culture is very competitive, and only those who are able to work and handle enormous pressure can excel. So, it’s not really what the IIT graduates study, but their attitude, their 4 year exposure to the competition and academic pressure is what matters to these companies!

Ofcourse, many other engineers in India who are not from IIT are also equally intelligent and have similar attitude, but somehow the IIT tag, their bonding for life, which often means helping each other out in times of need, networking as IIT alumni, helps them to make the IIT brand one of the best in the world. I find this similar to Army life or NDA where similar kind of camaraderie or brotherhood exists. This team work and the belief that they can achieve anything in life is what makes them successful. Infosys is a wonderful example of how a bunch of IITians started the IT revolution in India. Even many of the Silicon valley CEOs are IITians( Sundar Pichai, Vinod Khosla, Arvind Krishna etc) and it’s no surprise why so many of them have achieved it!

Finally, I would like to end this blog post with some food for the mind after seeing this documentary. On one side we see that IITians continue to rise up the ladder of success in whatever field they work, be it in India or USA. They have become the CEO’s in Silicon Valley or investment bankers on Wall Street. But the primary purpose of establishing the IIT by Pandit Nehru was to create engineers and technocrats who would build the nation. Even the IIT Kharagpur building reminds us of being ‘dedicated to the service of the nation’. 

Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur Fellowships in India 2020-2021
Credits

But we see the highly subsidized IIT education has been benefiting the Silicon valley and Wall street with the ‘Brain-Drain’ which has been going on for the past several decades. Though not all emigrate to the USA, but at the end, India has been losing some of its finest minds who could have built several Infosys in India until now.

Then, the education system in IIT as shown in the documentary reflects there is some systemic problem. Because students either cannot study what they like just because of their low JEE rank, or they do not get the opportunity to work for core companies, as very few core companies visit the IIT campus. Hence, the students from any engineering background, have to learn coding to get into software companies, or they end up doing consulting on Wall Street. This is a failure of the system which cannot provide the best minds to study what they want and neither any good opportunities to work in India in the core sector. Then it is not surprising why they shouldn’t apply the ‘escape velocity’ to settle abroad?

And the fact that if the brightest minds in IIT’s themselves are confused about which field to work on or do not have the motivation to do research ( due to other more lucrative coding/consulting opportunities abroad), then no wonder India does not have much both, innovation and entrepreneurship until now. Because we see the guys who could innovate for India end up doing coding in Silicon Valley, while the folks who could build startups end up in consulting jobs on Wall Street! Maybe this answers why India hasn’t produced any Nobel Prize winners in core Sciences after independence, when ironically, we produced more Science Nobel laureates before 1947 when we neither had the freedom nor the institutions.

Hence, this documentary #AlmaMatters is an eye opener for India. It is especially important for the younger generation, who are still in high school and their parents, to watch, because I have personally experienced how madly obsessed my generation was to get into IIT. Now, after 11 years, I find that obsession to be overrated, driven by peer pressure and motivated by the myth that ‘Once we get into IIT, Life toh set hain boss..! . I wish today’s younger generation and upcoming ones do not get obsessed with the IIT tag. I mean it is okay to get into IIT, but that is not the only way for a successful life. Infact, as the documentary shows, the life of IITians is not very different from the other non-IITians. This myth that all IITians excel in life needs to be debunked, because we see many IITians committing suicides as well. How can that be explained?

And even more important is that just like this documentary reveals the other side of IIT, so is the need to debunk the hyper inflated life of IIM graduates, those pursuing M.S in USA or even UPSC aspirants. Because millions of youngsters in India waste their precious youth years desperately trying to crack the JEE, CAT, UPSC and even with the dream to settle in the USA. Just because few people could crack these exams or win the USA lottery, doesn’t mean everyone should do it.

India needs real factories, startups and innovation labs, and not the ‘Kota factory’ or ‘Rajendra Nagar, Delhi’ factory!

It’s high time to channel the world’s largest youth population( which India has currently) in the right direction, not only for India but also for making a better world!

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Happy Mother’s Day, Dear Mom!

Today, May 9th, 2021 is Mother’s Day. I am so glad to write my 100th blog post dedicated to the most beautiful and purest soul in the whole universe, which is none other than Mother!

Being a guy, I know I will never ever be able to experience that exceptional pleasure of motherhood. Indeed, women are the fortunate other half in this world for being able to bear the child. I don’t know if there is any theory to explain what makes a mother so kind and unconditionally loving to her child. Because whatever, might be the nature of a girl before marriage, once they give birth, they not only transform to become a wonderful woman but also become the source of unconditional love to her child and family. This is indeed truely remarkable.

The purpose to celebrate Mother’s Day is to understand this importance of the motherhood. Because we men often forget how much sacrifice a woman and a mother has to bear for the sake of family. So, in a way, we can also say that the world has a need to celebrate mother’s day, because we men have forgotten their sacrifice. Its a pity on us!

At the same time, remembering and honoring Mother’s sacrifice and dedication to her child and family just for one day is also in a way disrespecting her. Because everyday we should value her hardships and how much she bears for the family, isn’t it?

Since the birth of her children to her last breath, all she thinks, works, cares, prays and wishes for is her children’s better life. So, a mother is kindly selfish when it comes to her child’s safety, betterment and bright future. I think it is the only selfishness which is kind and selfless in this world.

A Mother toils for her home, makes good and healthy food, takes care of her child and the bigger child as well( I meant husband..). And in today’s generation, she even has a career and hence works in office or from home due to Covid. She takes interest in her kids education, homework, even though she might not have liked those subjects in her own school days. She makes sure her child never ever gets spoiled into bad habits. She will watch her child continously as if to make sure nothing ever hurts her beloved piece of heart.

Is there any other profession which has so much responsibility and dedication? I am not aware of any such. And the most selfless act is all done without her being paid. I mean it would be atrocious if people start paying for motherhood. But I am sure a mother will never ever think of any monetary gains or even expect any praise from her child or family in return. That’s why the motherhood is so much respected, and cannot be replaced. Maybe all the other jobs might get automated by robots or AI, but the honorable duty of motherhood has no chance to get replaced by any sophisticated technology.

Finally, I miss my Mom. I owe my entire life to her, whatever I have achieved so far in my life. Be it my education, my job, my morals, my nature, my health, all is because of her selfless devotion. I wish she was here today. I know she would be so happy.

After losing my Mom ( I used to call her ‘Ammi’), I realized how much void has been created in my life, as if a part of me has been lost forever. I know nothing can fill that void. Because no one in this world can love us unconditionally, like a mother does. Hence, I wish I had been a better son and would have understood her love, dedication and sacrifices before. Because someday we go away from her to achieve our career, business, life, other relationships, and we get so busy that we forget there is someone dear who is waiting for us always. Only later, do we realize, but by then its too late!

So, I really wish my generation and the future ones, remember this, and understand the importance of mother in our life. There is nothing wrong in aspiring for career, or other relationships, but just make sure you don’t forget her eternal sacrifices, and be with her whenever she needs you! That’s all she would expect from her dear child….

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Getting over failure…

To understand more about failure and human nature ..

I think one of the most difficult things in life is getting over failures. However we might have read about ‘failures being stepping stones for success’, or ‘we cannot really succeed without failing at some thing’, but getting over failure ain’t easy. We all have heard about Edison trying out like 10000 times, before he could succeed in lighting the electric bulb. Even the today’s generation Edison, which is no other than Elon Musk, had failed endless times to fly a rocket and build an electric car, and he did succeed at the end. Even J K Rowling was rejected several times for publishing her novel, and she even had to abbreviate her name to more or less sound like a man has written the book. Well, that’s another story, but she even had to struggle to succeed.

So, I wonder why dont these men and women get tired of failures? They say they persevered and were absolutely determined to fight until they win, which is true. But then if the receipe to make success and get over failures is so simple, then why don’t everyone around us ( including me) always succeed, and never fail?

Maybe many of us are conditioned to certain level of achievement. I mean we often work for and achieve a certain level of success, which is either influenced by society/family/friends or by our own interest/passion. Many would agree with me that our choice of career is also more or less influenced by what our family wants or even what our peers are going to do. Because it isn’t easy for a 18 year old to decide, what he/she is gonna do for the rest of the life, right! So, often the best profession or trade which suits the most accepted convention is chosen. And when a large group of people decide to embark on a certain profession, it certainly gets standardised. Which is like the achievements in that profession are often weighed by the well defined norms. Let me explain by an example- For someone who decides to become a software engineer, just like his/her peers, the highest level of achievement or success is to end up working for a famous software company like Google or Microsoft. Because that’s what the successful software engineer is supposed to do. This is peer defined success standard. There are very few who dare to break this norm, by working for a not so famous startup or even starting their own software company. They are the ones who are driven by passion.

So, when people are driven by peer group defined success standard, the inspiration to achieve a lot is not so high. They become satisfied once they are working for that particular company. But if they fail to achieve that, then its a big failure for them. And that failure is not so well accepted by the society. And when this happens, the confidence drops down, and only after sheer efforts and determination to rise up, does that confidence and success comes back.

But after having seen that failure and how society treats someone who failed, it isn’t easy for all to push even further. They are happy in what they have achieved as long as they achievements are socially accepted. But the internal drive to push further gets lost somewhere, and they end up in becoming the typical, which the society always wants us to be. Our approval to becoming a ‘typical’, is because of the fear of failing, and thereby losing social acceptance. But what we miss here is that by deciding to flow with the current and thereby not trying to achieve what our heart really wants to, makes us a failure at the end. That’s why J K Rowling very well said that when “you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

While for the few fortunate ones, who are driven by their passion and not by peer or societal acceptance, they are the ones who really reach the sky. Thats why it is said that “There is always room at the top”. But the road to reach the top is strenuous and often solitary. Because just like Steve Jobs, only the misfits, the rebels, the crazy ones, the round pegs in the square holes, are the ones who survive this arduous journey. I don’t know what evolution says, but for some mysterious reason, not everyone can be like them, or maybe we choose not to be like them. Because its hard to stay away for a long time from society approval, or even harder to face the difficulties when we try to swim against the current. Only the brave ones do it, and they end up pushing the human race forward.

Hence, its really upto us to decide what do we really want. For some, the need for social approval is high and so does their own level of achievements and ability to bear failures depends on. While for others like Richard Feynman, they really don’t care what others think about them ( he even wrote a book with the similar title…), and their own set of achievements and failures are purely their own. There is no right or wrong here, as everyone can best decide whats best for them, right!

But above all, there is one thing which matters at the end which is our own attitude to never give up. Its OK to be satisfied in any work or with any level of achievement, as not everyone can or wants to be the CEO. Also, even though there is room at the top, but it is also less crowded and isolated, which isn’t a good thing. So, what is more important is to know that we all have the ability to fight back for any cause or purpose we want. As long as we are happy and satisfied, we are good. But do not let society make us typical. Failure and success come and go, but we should never ever give up. I learnt this from my Mom, who really fought hard against cancer. She never complained, and was always positive, till the end. This attitude is our real strength. Giving up is not our attitude. Be it pandemic, losing a job, going bankrupt in business, or whatever tough time comes in our life, we can not lose our belief that we can and will successfully come out of it, someday! Maybe that’s the only way to get over any failure in life…..

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Lost Generation!

I am writing this post with a heavy heart after seeing the deep pain and agony which my fellow Indians have been going through during the 2nd wave of covid pandemic. My heart goes out to all the people who have lost their dear ones in this pandemic. This is indeed a tough time for India and the world, and the only ray of hope was the generous help offered by more than 40 countries across the globe to my country. India indeed is grateful to all who have re-ignited the hope that humanity is still alive!

But I have also been pondering over the thought of the impact of the pandemic on our life. I know we all have been living through this and it wont need any imagination or genius mind to know that our current life is not a good one. These are definitely not normal times, and however we might call the new-normal, but for me, it seems far from normal. Because my generation has never ever experienced something like this on a global unprecendented scale. And even more worrying fact is that its not in our control as well. There is no guarantee that when would all this end!

Just few days before, we all had thought that we have won over this pandemic. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, we started watching new cases spiking up to 3 lakhs, and 4 lakhs. The daily death rate rose from few hundreds to few thousands. And with this covid tsunami, our health infrastructure got hit badly. Then watching people die because of lack of medical oxygen, or even due to leakage of oxygen was devastating. Seeing the pyres burning endlessly and the widespread fear and agony in hospitals has made me cry my heart out. We did not ever want this to happen , and yet this all happened, in front of our nation, in just a matter of few days.

Now, playing the blame game or writing for some political mileage is something I do not want to do. Yet, I feel that we as a society are responsible for this situation. Now, the question remains What’s Next?

I see everything has changed in our life once again. We are back into lockdowns, shops and businesses are shutdown, workers and labourers are fleeing back to their villages ( thankfully not by walking..), and that means, more people will slide down into poverty once again. The tech guys like me will have to spend the year working from home..sorry slogging day and night from home. Schools and colleges are closed, and exams are cancelled. I wonder what will be the future of the kids who have already spent an year at home. The college students have to study online, and without any lab or practical work, it seems that the already mediocre quality of our engineers and graduates will even deteriorate further. The travel industry has already been wiped out, and sooner or later, many others will follow the same route. And apart from all this, our health infrastructure has already been over-whelmed and God forbid, it should not collapse.

I know we all are already surrounded by the ocean of negativity, and I do not want to add another drop by writing the problems faced by us everyday. Because this is something we never wanted to happen at the first place. Yet it happened, and now we all have to face it. Sometimes, it necessary that society should look into the mirror, and see the reality.

Let me go back into history, not far before, just 100 years ago. At that time, during 1918-1920, the world suffered from Spanish flu. We all have read whatsapp posts and watched Youtube videos, on how such pandemics keep on repeating after 100 years. Well, call it pure coincidence or whatever, the reality is we are facing the similar kind of pandemic after 100 years again. And if I quote Gertrude Stein, who had called the generation after world war 1 and Spanish flu, as the ‘Lost Generation‘, not because that generation was lost somewhere, but rather it meant that they did not have any positive outlook on life, after seeing the uncertainity during those times.

Many intellectuals and writers from America and Europe had became disillusioned with the uncertainity after the 1918 war and subsequent pandemic. In France, some found solace in writing and produced some of the best fiction classics, while others in Germany and England, dived deep into the world of quantum mechanics. Russians overthrowed the Romanovs and envisioned a communist world based on the principles of Karl Marx. While on the other side of the world, the Americans self-isolated themselves from the world theatre, and enjoyed themselves in the roller-coaster ride of roaring 1920’s and stock market bubble, only to be disillusioned further after the Great Depression ushered in 1929.

Today. it wont be surprising to mirror the same trends in my generation. In the last 30 years after 1991, never has the world seen a reversal of globalization. Travel has ceased between countries, and infact, more than a visa, its the vaccine which will pave the way to enter a foreign country. The global supply chains have been disrupted, and not only vaccines, but even as small as electronic chips are in acute shortage today. America has started its journey of isolation once again, with its America First policy, and the recent quote “It’s, of course, not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated, it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated,” as said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, not only reflects their self-isolation, but also they no longer are interested in a leading the world as they had been doing since 1991.

My generation (born after 1990) is not only witnessing the pandemic at such a young age, but also are concerned about whats the future is going to lay ahead. This is not just about the pandemic, as we are aware that someday, this is going to end. But the well-established channels of education, jobs and prosperity are changing. The traditional method of schooling and colleges, is not helping today. The job market is changing with industry 4.0 revolution such as AI, Blockchain and Machine learning. We are not even sure what kind of jobs will be there in 2030. In India, the quest for securing a Govt job and other bureaucracy positions is becoming more difficult and redundant due to Digitization and dwindling need of human workforce. Going to America or Europe for education, jobs and getting settled there, is becoming more like an elite dream these days due to exorbitant cost of education and visa restrictions. Bollywood has lost its charm which it once had, and infact, many celebrities have cowardly running away out of India to escape the virus. Social media has become a surveillance weapon and political ground for the so called left and right intellectuals for their endless ideological fights and debates. And amidst all this, the stock market is being incredibly bullish, as if it has escaped the conscience of ground reality and trying to imitate the roaring 1920’s decade!

After seeing all this chaos, why shouldnt we feel lost? Why shouldn’t I fear that my generation might become a part of Lost Generation? Not only because we are confused, but also we are slowly and steadily losing faith in the well-established rules taught to us. Not only in India, but also in America, Europe, this generation is less certain of a stable future and even fears falling down the high standard of living which their parents lived. No one is sure what is going to happen after 10 years. We see that the perseverence and ingenuity have successfully rowed and hovered on an oxygen devoid Mars, while on the other side, we are not even able to provide oxygen to our fellow human beings on Earth. The have’s ( like Elon Musk) are aspiring for more automation, driver less cars, hyperloop, and putting a chip in the brain, while the have not’s are struggling for just two meals a day and a decent job! This is the stark contrast we are seeing today.

For some the pandemic has showed the bitter reality that life is short, and unpredictable. While for others, it is just another opportunity to reap profits and gain political mileage out of it. Some have shown the courage to push the limits to help and volunteer , while many others continue to hide in the castles and mansions. For some it is a day to day survival while for others it is a staycation in Dubai or Maldives.

I wont be surprised if history remembers these years or this generation as the ‘Lost Generation’. Only we have to carve out our own ways to get through this, and especially for India, it is a time to keep aside all the politics, caste bias, religious hatred, ideological or ‘ism’ debates, and just focus on bringing this country out of poverty, unemployment and economic recession. We got no alternative. We cannot keep preaching to the world, that once we were superpower, or British looted us, that’s why we are still poor. Because next year, it will be 75 years of independence. We keep praising how Indian-Americans have succeeded in USA, and rose up the ranks to become CEO’s. To be honest, it is okay to have pride, but at the same time, it shows the world, that an Indian, however talented or educated might be, cannot really progress in India, with few exceptions. That’s why we still are having one of the largest brain-drain in the world. This is not something to be proud of. We have to fix this system. We have to innovate, we have to stop pulling legs of anyone who is honest and working hard for the country. We need to know that patriotism is not just fighting against the terrorists on the border. Innovating for the country, entrepreneurship with Startup India, volunteering for the NGO and social cause, voting for the right candidate and party without any caste or religious bias, playing for the country (apart from IPL) and winning medals, all of this is equally patriotic as the brave soldiers’s patriotism. Only then, will India become a better India!

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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