From corporate to impacting millions of lives in social sector, Atul Satija-Founder & CEO of The/Nudge Foundation shares his journey - The Daily Guardian
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From corporate to impacting millions of lives in social sector, Atul Satija-Founder & CEO of The/Nudge Foundation shares his journey

Atul Satija the Founder & CEO of The/Nudge Foundation sat in an exclusive conversation with NewsX for its special segment NewsX India A-List.

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In an exclusive conversation with NewsX for its special segment NewsX India A-List, Atul Satija the Founder & CEO of The/Nudge Foundation spoke about the endeavors of his organization and how they aim to revolutionize Agri-tech and other pressing challenges that the country is facing.

 Talking about his journey and how he found his true calling in the social sector, Satija said “I started as an Engineer-MBA harboring the corporate ladder dreams, mostly because India did well in the technology sector and better than the other sectors in the last 20 years. I followed the same journey. But I think somewhere growing up, I had this notion that I want to do social work at some point in my life. And I didn’t know when. So when I entered my 30s, I started volunteering with a nonprofit in Delhi and that’s how my journey in the social sector started.”

“I used to wait for the evenings and weekends to actually go and spend time in communities. That really told me that my heart is actually working on the grassroots, and bringing about social change, and not as much in the corporate rat race that I was in. I think eight years into it, I moved to Bangalore and did a startup, and five years back, I decided to make that switch. And that’s how The/Nudge was born. It’s been five years of a really impactful journey now,” continued Satija sharing with us his inspiring journey from corporate to the social sector. Satija started The/Nudge Foundation in 2015 as a non-profit poverty alleviation organization. During its inception five years ago, The/Nudge started working with underprivileged groups in skill development who migrated to cities from rural areas and the organization gave them skills and employability and put them in jobs. 

The founder threw light on the kind of change that his organization is looking to create and how they are aiming to solve some of the most pressing challenges India faces today. “India has the second-largest number of extreme poverty in the world. The country has 175 million people below the poverty line so it’s a very large problem. The/Nudge was created to work on poverty alleviation. That’s the purpose with which we started but the way we do that is we are an action organization.”

“We want to be at the grassroots and keep our hands and feet ready. We want to learn from our work on the ground and also learn from others’ work on the ground. Whenever we find a solution that works, we want to figure out a way to scale it working with the governments and markets. We see us as a development action organization working on poverty alleviation, wanting to bring about systemic change,” continued Satija.

Poverty alleviation continues to be a very multifaceted and complex issue. Satija shared his insights and various angles with which The/Nudge approached it, “It is a very complex problem that has too many dimensions to it. One has to pick what you can do and leave the rest to the ecosystem. The way we at The/Nudge look at this is we focus on livelihoods as the main area which means that income in the hands of the poor is what we are trying to tackle. We know that there is work to be done in public health, in education in so many other areas, but we chose livelihoods as our own vertical focus. Livelihoods could be urban, which means scale development, putting people in jobs, making sure that they are staying in jobs, making money, having financial security, social mobility, and things like that. In rural areas, it’s largely Agri and dairy and some allied services around that. That’s our vertical focus.”

“Horizontally, we also look at the capacity of the country and the development sector to contribute meaningfully to poverty alleviation. What that really means is that we have the talent working on the big problems, do we have the capital required to solve these problems? How will technology contribute to this, and also is the policy infrastructure of the country? Technology, policy, capital, and talent are kind of the foundational pillars we see along with our vertical working livelihoods,” continued Satija.

Aiming to achieve their goals The /Nudge works across three different impact streams broadly which Satija elaborated as follows: “First is the Center for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship where we bring young people into skilling programs and then we put them into service sector jobs. Secondly, we have the Center for Rural Development and the third is the Center for Social Innovation, where we focus on mostly talent moving into the social sector and actually being able to contribute to India’s journey.”

Satija acknowledged the pressing challenge concerning both theoretically and practically to get talent and sustain that talent in the Indian Development sector, “We were not a wealthy country for a while, during pre-independence and post-independence. What is happening in the first generation wealth is that everybody comes out of colleges thinking about their own financial security, and supporting their immediate family and people around them. And that is the right thing to do. I think India is reaching a stage now, with the last 30 years of our growth during post liberalization in particular, where there is correct mental space to think about society at large. And that is allowing millennials in particular to think. It’s a great opportunity, I don’t think 20 or 30 years back people were able to think that way. They had to solve for their financial security and see this as a second career as I did.”

“I’m seeing a lot of energy amongst the youth to do it but the barriers are very real. Is there affordability of talent or can an NGO sector pay salaries that people need? Firstly, there is a huge gap and philanthropy is not able to support the salaries that markets can afford Two, how does the sector work? Does the talent see the NGO sector where they can go and work as they work normally in some other organization? People have a certain view of nonprofits which for the most part, are not real. I have been in the development sector now for five years, I have seen amazing variety and diversity within the nonprofit sector. There are nonprofits that drive activism, but there are several service delivery nonprofits, entrepreneurial problem-solving nonprofits, and think tanks. There are academia and research as well. There is room for everyone. And I think that it is probably the better time for people to jump into the sector,” continued Satija.

The/Nudge Forum recently launched a 2-crore grand CISCO Agri Challenge on 18 December aiming to spark farmer-centric innovation in partnership with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India and CISCO India. This saw the three ways coming of the engineering talent, technology talent, and innovators together to come in and solve the problems of the farmers’ income.

On a concluding note, Satija shared with us how and where he sees the imagined five years from here and the priorities, “Over the last five years we are able to touch about 8-9 million lives across the country through our both indirect and direct work. In the next five years, we want The/Nudge to continue on this path of being a development action organization and be closer to seeing systems change happen in the country, especially in scale development areas. I’m seeing The/Nudge impacting about 15-20 million lives in the next five years. Cumulatively mostly through system change, evolving the scaling ecosystem to where it needs to be or rural livelihood, with farmers income being in the next stage of their growth.”

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Bring mindfulness to the workplace

High-quality connections are shown to improve individual functioning, and positively affect group outcomes, such as psychological safety and trust.

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The real payoffs emerge when an individual’s mindfulness is translated into mindful interactions and relationships, says a new study. Such interactions infused with intentionality, compassion and presence can bring about more harmonious and healthy organizations.

“An understanding of how individuals bring mindfulness with them to work, and how these practices may contribute to interaction and relationship quality, is especially relevant as work landscapes are ever-changing and interdependence is increasingly becoming the norm,” said Christopher S. Reina, PhD, an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship in the VCU School of Business.

 In the study “Your Presence is Requested: Mindfulness Infusion in Workplace Interactions and Relationships,” which was published in Organization Science, Reina and management professors Glen E. Kreiner, PhD, of the University of Utah; Alexandra Rheinhardt, PhD, of the University of Connecticut; and Christine

A. Mihelcic of the University of Richmond explores how individuals bring mindfulness to work and how it infuses their workplace interactions. These practices may be formal, such as engaging in a mindful pause before beginning a meeting, or informal, such as listening to someone with a high level of attention.

The qualitative study draws on the experiences of actual leaders to explain how they bring mindfulness into the workplace. Primary data sources included interviews and on-site participant observation. The researchers conducted 30 formal interviews with managers, professionals and consultants who practice mindfulness in the workplace and more than 50 informal interviews with a wide variety of individuals who apply mindfulness principles at work.

“Interestingly, interviewees noted how other individuals around them had noticed the emotional effects of their mindful behaviours on interactions and relationships,” Reina said. “We found initial evidence that our interviewees› efforts toward bringing their mindfulness into the workplace were seen by their colleagues as having a positive effect.”

High-quality connections are shown to improve individual functioning, and positively affect group outcomes, such as psychological safety and trust.

In addition to mindfulness arising within an interaction, the study also found that mindfulness practices could be used to set individuals up for success in future interactions, such as when preparing for a difficult or important conversation.

“Mindfulness reminds us that our thoughts and emotions are complex,” Reina said. “They are contextualized by prior events experienced within a social environment, and within this social environment, individuals must be aware of both their own and others› thoughts and emotions in order to navigate these complexities with skill and compassion.”

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THE TURNING POINT IN THE CHEESE STORY

Most Indians have unquestioningly accepted that cheese, much like many other goodies, was brought to India by the Portuguese or Dutch as Hindus considered curdling milk as inauspicious.

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Long ago, before the dawn of the selfie age, cameramen used to instruct the group being photographed to say ‘cheese’ to make the subject’s lips break into a forced happy smile. That was the closest contact that many Indians made with edible cheese. Even those who were anglicized and liked their sandwiches with slices of cheese were restricted to processed cheddar that came in small round tins. This was the stuff that was grated and spread over macaroni and baked vegetables (to melt in the oven).

However, there always has been a minuscule minority of cheese snobs who talked of other cheeses, more expensive and exotic. French blue cheese like gorgonzola (that had blue veins), Roquefort, Gruyere and harder cheeses like edam, gouda, parmesan, and the rest. They remembered nostalgically when they could enjoy to their heart’s content, different varieties of cheese, with crackers at breakfast or opt for the non-sweet dessert course of a cheese platter post-dinner.

It was not only the French cheeses but the Swiss cheeses with holes that had made themselves familiar to the audience of comic-reading kids. Wedges of Swiss cheese were encountered more often on the TV screens where Jerry the mouse would be seen scheming to steal cheese from the mouse trap set by his arch-nemesis Tom on the dining table. Of course, in classier fine dining restaurants, the ‘continental’ chefs took delight in showing off their skills with tabletop fondue cooking. Feta cheese made with a strictly prescribed mixture of ewe and goat milk is increasingly popular with health-conscious salad eaters. Non-dairy cheeses prepared with oil seeds have been created for the increasing tribe of vegans.

For the majority of Indians, cheese has meant paneer (aka cottage cheese often confused with cream cheese). It is only in recent years that Indians have also tasted cheesecakes and other varieties of cheese traditionally made in India in Himachal Pradesh or among the Parsi communities like (Kalari and ‘Topi wala’ cheese). Chenapod is a traditional baked cheesecake in Odisha that has for centuries been offered to Lord Jagannath at Puri.

Most Indians have unquestioningly accepted that cheese, much like many other goodies, was brought to India by the Portuguese or Dutch as Hindus considered curdling milk as inauspicious.

It is very difficult to concede the claim that cheeses were unknown to Indians before the advent of Europeans. How on Earth can anyone explain a Bhutanese dish like Ema Datshi (molten cheese and chilis) hidden in the hard-to-reach heart of the Himalayas was terra incognita till the 1960s. 

It remained forbidden to ordinary travellers and traders for decades after that. Obviously, the cheese made with Yak milk and highly pungent local chilis owes nothing to the much-hyped Columbian exchange. Another cheese that has traditionally been prepared and relished from Yak milk all the way from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh is called Churpi. It is a hard toffee-like substance that keeps the mouth moist and the jaws working. Even if one keeps Chenna out of this controversy other Indian cheeses like kalari from Himachal Pradesh can legitimately claim to be a child of this soil as perhaps can the Kashmiri Chaman. Other Indian cheeses like Bandel and Topi Wala Cheese are certainly adaptations and improvisations of the French or the Dutch Cheese theme.

Cheese is widely used in Mediterranean, Central Asian and Turkish cuisine. Milk was curdled in leather bags and the cheese so obtained was pressed to drain off moisture, matured, smoked and flavoured.

A turning point in the cheese story came in India when western fast food entered India and proliferated in all corners of the subcontinent with great speed. Mcdonalds’ was the first chain to insist on quality standards for the cheese supplied to them. They were large enough a buyer for the cheese makers in India to clean up their act and strive to become the chief vendor.

The same happened when Pizzas — Pizza Hut, Pizza King and Dominos — lured the younger generation of Indians with seductive extra-cheesy toppings and cheese-filled crusts around the rim. Mozzarella came on its own and Amul the legendary milk cooperative started producing it. Likewise when Italian pastas of different sizes shapes and flavours were included in the menus of speciality restaurants drizzling of hard Parmesan became another acquired taste.

In recent years, with growing affluence among the urban elite cheeses like wines, have become aspirational. They are symbols of an exclusive exotic delight to the masses – privileges of like, special status symbols. Many Indians, past middle age suddenly are drawn towards golf and cigars. A platter of cheese to be paired with wines or a cheese platter as an option for dessert is a clearly discernible emerging trend.

It is on this cheese platter that one finds the more expensive and the more exotic sharp smelling and sharp-tasting French blue cheeses. However, few Indians have the stomach to try the maggot-infested Casu martzu or the crawling cheese from the Italian island of Sardinia. Because the larvae in the cheese can launch themselves up up to 6 inches when disturbed, diners have to hold their hands above the cheese to prevent the maggots from leaping away!

The turn of the century witnessed the advent of the artisanal cheese makers, mostly in hill stations or in areas where Europeans have settled for generations like Kalimpong, Pondicherry, Ooty and Bhimtal. Some like Mansoor Khan, director of Bollywood hits like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak took a break to pursue their passion. Khan moved to Coonoor in 2003, to start making Gouda, Colby, and other cheeses. In Pune, ABC Farms’ has been producing versions of Gorgonzola, Cheddar and mozzarella for over three decades now. They supply tonnes of cheese a month, to leading five-star hotels in Mumbai and Pune.

The Indian Cheese story continues to be written.

Pushpesh Pant is an Indian academic, food critic and historian.

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Voters must be made aware of healthcare issues

Suravi Sharma Kumar

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Covid 19 pandemic is when we have so clearly understood how broken our health systems are and this has made us contemplate the role that the government should play in ensuring healthcare for all in the country. Surprisingly Indian election manifestos across all parties don’t allow healthcare any decent space. And more curiously, India’s voters appear to place little emphasis on health as they decide whom/ which party to vote into power. For instance, in the state elections in Bihar in October-November 2020, as found in a post-election survey, only a meager about 0.3% of the voters considered health as a priority–even against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Economic factors and general developmental issues loomed much larger to voter priorities against providing good healthcare.

Why do our voters not prioritize health despite their having to pay one of the world’s highest out-of-pocket (at 78% OOP) expenditures and catastrophic spending on health for decades? The reasons for the low prioritization of health in elections seem to be complex and rooted in our psychological imprint. Our people have surprisingly non-existent expectations of government as healthcare provider/s. This most likely is because the health system had been unresponsive and unaccountable for way too long. People’s minds have been turned away from this in their upbringing years while going through the thick and thin of their woes around hospitals and clinics. There is simply no expectation in their minds. 

An expectation is the emotional anticipation or belief of an occurrence that may take place in reality in the future. It’s a potential reality that we look forward to being manifested in our lives. But mindsets primed over many decades are transformed to such a state that it doesn’t allow the emergence of any such expectation in people. The very concept of government providing healthcare doesn’t exist in the minds of the multitude in our country.

The other cause of such reaction in voters may also be because none of the political parties provide the subject of Health any decent place in their election manifestos. They make no promises about improving health care. So this leaves the people to themselves as far as health is concerned and are left with no scope to choose a political candidate or a party on that ground.

Political leaders, on the other hand, stay away from promising improved healthcare, either because they don’t have the answers, or they find it too complex an issue to analyze and come up with an agenda on offer, or because timelines for improving the system are well beyond the life of their political regimes. However, we get to see that where political leaders have delivered well on health, such as in Kerala, it has created an expectation from citizens which compels leaders to offer election agendas prioritizing health. Despite the pandemic, it has been hard to identify any shift in the electoral politics of health provision even in the world’s richest party governing our country. The ruling party under the charismatic leadership of the honorable prime minister has also been stressing other welfare goals even in the backdrop of a pandemic. The ruling party is also seen to garner benefits from maintaining a raft of welfare schemes since 2014 adding several such schemes and promoting them actively during elections. 

Various factors/reasons are under play for this and the most prominent one is because reforms in the health sector are harder to enact and much slower to yield any tangible outcomes for voters to take cognizance of and manifest any impact in terms of votes earned for the party undertaking such a complex agenda. Hence, foregrounding health sector investments have been seen as politically riskier than other result-oriented schemes/ agendas. For instance, improvements in the distribution of food grains or gas cylinders (Ujjwala) are more visible and tangible/measurable for the general public than enabling efficient medical caregiving policy/ scheme which is a far tougher and time-consuming task to undertake. Welfare schemes based on the ‘delivery’ of a product are much simpler and tangible than improving services like health and education, which are much more complex. 

Healthcare depends on a system that includes infrastructure, human resources, medical protocols and resources, high accountability, and capacity. For this reason, perhaps, the main electoral pledge in the health sector in recent years has been on health insurance and a few free treatments offers rather than comprehensive infrastructural reforms within which this product can be effectively utilized.

The social determinants to health that are highly prioritized in the UN sustenance goals must find a place in any discussion on health infrastructure improvement. They are important contributory factors to health status in general and get varying degrees of priority in governments. But there is a need for more focused coordination to ensure optimal allocation of resources across various sectors touching the subjects of safe drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition. Their contribution to good health is unarguably a lot but these need to be adequately recognized, measured, and evaluated.

There is also a need to establish a coordinating body in the country’s highest offices to connect the dots in health and other social determinants of health and coordinate the work of various agencies contributing to health improvement to enhance and better utilize these for the general good.

Experts would agree rebuilding India’s health system requires first and foremost better financial allocation and some policy work around the clarity of roles of the national and state governments. The other area is creating empowered institutions with evidence-based healthcare governance and administration. The motivation for these will emerge from creating (or making more visible) the demands of Indian voters for improved health. Social help groups and non-government organizations should work on voter awareness, their perception of health schemes, and even the politics behind these.

The author is a Consultant Doctor, Moolchand Medcity.

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HOW ONE CAN FOLLOW ONE’S PASSIONS AND DREAMS IN LIFE

A career has to be true to your inherent talent and interests. It should fulfil your financial goals and help you grow personally as well. It is important to be guided on the right career path, but it is far more important to stay true to oneself while making a career choice.

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We all have aspirations for the future. Ask a child and he too will have a dream. Dreams might revolve around a career, achievement, or the little pleasures of life, such as travelling or driving a nice car. We are defined by our dreams. Additionally, dreams also direct the course of our lives. But occasionally, circumstances deter us from pursuing them. Does that imply one shouldn’t pursue their dreams? Should one give up trying? And, more importantly, should we keep encouraging our children to follow their dreams and aspirations until they come true?

Firstly, we must realise that while barriers may occasionally stand in the way of realising our ambitions, they are seldom long-lasting. After all, dreams are what give us hope. The right thoughts, the right environment, and the right attitude are the key components that may assist children, students, and adults in never giving up. 

To stay authentic to yourself and your dreams, you can consider the following:

1. To think beyond examination scores:

Imagine parents telling their child to follow what their best friend or the best student in their class is doing. Most likely, he has no interest in what the other person does. However, ordering the youngsters to do anything will just add pressure on their young minds. Despite peer pressure, supportive parents and relatives must recognise their child’s innate skills. The child’s overall growth must be more important than who received the highest grades in the class. Once the child’s latent skills are discovered, positive reinforcement might help him excel in his chosen career path. This is the first step towards dream realisation – encouragement at all times. 

2. The P’s that will stand the test of time:

Patience, Perseverance, Passion. A deep interest in anything naturally leads one to success. But persevering in the long run with no distraction or fear of failure or other obstacles is the key. There will be challenges but taking them head-on will take one through the testing times. And what’s most important is patience. To wish for quick results and give up halfway through leads one nowhere. Things happen only with time and at their own pace.

3. Being grounded:

Taking time to introspect and self-evaluate is very important. One has to be mindful of one’s attitudes and confidence levels and keep arrogance under check. Perhaps with all the years of experience, we have still not come across someone better. So being modest and preparing to listen keenly is necessary. This includes being open to better ideas and suggestions. Besides, work ethics play a big role. From turning in homework in time at school to timely reporting at work, discipline only adds more to humility. Chasing your dreams needs you to be grounded first.

4. Making use of technology:

We are blessed to be living in the era of digitization. Not only has technology brought the world closer, but technology has empowered children to get ample information at the tip of their fingers. To follow a particular vocation, one is better empowered today than one was a few years ago. Children are brimming with innovative ideas. With education technology, children are fully equipped to learn whatever they wish from any corner of the world. It helped them not to stop learning during the lockdowns, and, interestingly, they also discovered some of their latent talents. What also follows, however, is that one keeps upskilling with the ever-evolving technologies and opportunities.

5. Be a seeker:

The more one reads, the wiser their minds become. Besides, learning must stop at any age. The moment one stops learning, there is no fuel left to drive the dreams. Making learning enjoyable is something parents can do for their children. Teaching time can also be bonding time and motivate children to learn more and more. Children learn not from what parents say but from what they see. Parents too must serve as examples by learning something new every day and sharing it with their children.

6. Thinking beyond a conventional career:

A career has to be true to your inherent talent and interests. It should fulfil your financial goals and help you grow personally as well. It is important to be guided on the right career path, but it is far more important to stay true to oneself while making a career choice. A little support from folks and friends goes a long way in making a difference. 

7. Challenging oneself:

One must not be bogged down by the criticisms as they only help us grow. Learning to navigate through obstacles is a confidence booster. As we challenge ourselves to do better, we only grow our potential and skills. Don’t stop dreaming. When you take up a task take it up with the same zeal as you would as a beginner.

The author is a Lifestyle writer & voice artist, The learning obby by Practically 

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Co-joined twin Veena and Vani pass intermediate exams with flying colours

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In a sheer display of determination and will power, a co-joined twin named Veena and Vani have passed the Telangana Intermediate exams with flying colours. The twins scored first class marks, sending out a strong message of where there is a will, there is a way. While Veena secured 712 marks out of 1000, Vani scored 707 marks out of 1000 marks with CEC  (Commerce, Economics, Civics) stream.

Satyavathi Rathod, Minister for Tribal, Women and Child Welfare, congratulated Veena and Vani on achieving the feat. The minister further said, «All the necessary facilities will be provided for their higher education. Veena and Vani will always have the support of the state government.» She also praised the staff personnel, who assisted the two girls. 

Elated with their scores, Veena and Vani expressed the desire to become Chartered Accountants (CA). In the tenth standard, Veena and Vani had scored 9.3 GPA and 9.2 GPA respectively. 

It is noteworthy that Veena and Vani were eligible to opt for special priveleges, which could have ensured additional time to write their exam, but they refused and submitted their answer sheet to the invigilator five minutes ahead of schedule. 

The results for the 1st and 2nd year were announced by Telangana State Board Of Intermediate Education (TSBIE). Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Reddy announced the results. Among the 9 lakh students who appeared for the exam, the story of Veena and Vani stood out and is garnering praises across the country. 

Born in 2003 in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana, Veena and Vani were cojoined from birth. Due to this, their parents stepped back from taking their responsibility and refused to take them, citing lack of resources for their treatment. Thereafter, the twins stayed in Nilopher hospital till they turned 12 and later shifted to State Home.

Despite several attempts by doctors, medical and surgical experts from not just India but also the United Kingdom and Singapore, no way has been found to separate them.

While it was earlier estimated that the  procedure to separate them would cost around Rs 10 crore, it is very complex and risky  as their veins are tangled up. This is the reason an operation has not be done yet.

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A STEP TOWARDS SELFLESS PURSUIT OF HINDUTVA IDEALS

Shweta Shalini

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The party’s philosophy of “nation first, party second and self last” was drilled into every cadre not just through words but through actions.

In 1895, Swami Vivekananda was to give a public lecture in London. When it was time to stand up and speak, Swami Vivekananda suddenly announced that it was Swami Saradananda who would deliver the speech instead of him. Though taken by surprise, the learned Swami displayed his scholarly mastery over the scriptures as Vivekananda sat overjoyed intently listening to the teachings. In the following years, Swami Vivekananda would delight himself by hearing about or pouring through the newspaper cuttings sent to him of Swami Saradananda’s lectures from Boston, Brooklyn and New York. Whether it is the success of Swami Saradananda in America or pushing Swami Abhedananda to deliver the teachings of Vedanta at a club in Bloomsbury Square, Swami Vivekananda created leaders who would work on the mission while also surprising his audience. Good leaders merely create followers. Great leaders create leaders and influence generations of leaders through their selflessness. Even after his Samadhi, a whole new generation of freedom fighters right from Lokmanya Tilak to Subhash Chandra Bose drew inspiration from Vivekananda.

Devendra Fadnavis pulled a shocker by announcing the name of Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as Chief Minister. As media personnel took a moment to absorb the gist of the announcement, the CM-Designate let out his profound understanding of politics saying, “Nowadays, not even a Nagarsevak (Municipal Councillor) or Gram Panchayat member lets go of his position. I am thankful to you.”

It was not just a sacrifice or selflessness of BJP Leader Devendra Fadnavis but also a victory of the ideological cause, which every BJP karyakarta works towards. A Shiv Sena leader, who stepped down from government for the cause of Hindutva, was rewarded by fellow brethren, working towards the same Hindutva mission. A political leader moving away from the position of power is a rare instance as 50 rebel MLAs from Shiv Sena proved. However, a BJP leader himself taking a backseat for an ideological cause isn’t rare and Devendra Fadnavis was walking in the footsteps of great BJP leaders. When the founding fathers of Jan Sangh instilled selflessness as a philosophy in its cadre, it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was a leader (Member of Parliament), with Advani working as his secretary and later as editor of a Hindutva publication. Over the next few decades, Vajpayee and Advani alternated between roles selflessly working under each other’s leadership building the party brick-by-brick. The ideological mission was supreme and not individuals. This selflessness of the party was again on display in 1977 when the Janata Party government came into power and Jan Sangh took a backseat despite a higher number of seats – the mission was more important than the individual goals. The party’s philosophy of “nation first, party second and self last” was drilled into every cadre not just through words but through actions. The Modi era brought in a fresh wave of ideological strength with the BJP selflessly taking non-RSS Hindutva leaders like Yogi Adityanath into its fold.

Over the past few days, the Maharashtra government under Uddhav Thackeray had resorted to attacking the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs for insisting on sticking to the Hindutva stand. The Shiv Sena leaders, who were once foot soldiers of Hindutva under Balasaheb and made their way up from humble backgrounds, were portrayed negatively. Their insistence on sticking to the Hindutva cause was painted as a power-hungry move of Shiv Sena rebels with the backroom connivance of the BJP. “Will you get the Chief Minister’s chair by rebelling against me” taunted CM Uddhav Thackeray in a LIVE address to the state.

“Yes”, replied the BJP and Sangh Parivar in unison when Devendra Fadnavis made that unexpected announcement at the press conference. In one stroke, BJP under Devendra Fadnavis destroyed Uddhav Thackeray’s anti-Hindutva propaganda and honoured the rebels for taking an ideological stand. In a message to every Hindutva ideologue, he made it amply clear that the stability of Maharashtra, development of the state and ideological cause is more important to him than the Chief Minister’s chair itself. The real Shiv Sena of Balasaheb under Eknath Shinde finally leads the state with the support of BJP MLAs.

The press conference by Devendra Fadnavis will be written in golden words in the history of the Bharatiya Janata Party as a step towards the selfless pursuit of Hindutva ideals. A karyakarta like me, who has tirelessly worked for the party under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis. saw first-hand what selflessness towards the cause is all about. I have witnessed how faith in leadership trumps every personal consideration and makes BJP truly a party with difference. Detractors often resort to attacking the Sangh and its ideals while taking a gibe at BJP. The BJP under Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra has once again demonstrated how these Sangh ideals are the strength of the party.

In the words of Swayamsevaks, BJP Leader Devendra Fadnavis acted true to the lines in the Sangh Prarthana – (TvadiyayayKaryayaBaddhaKatiyam) – We are committed to the cause- The cause of Hindutva, the cause of Maharashtra.

The author is BJP spokesperson, advisor to former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, and executive director of Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation.

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