Monday Truclusions – Exploring The Value of Innovative Thought

Monday Truclusions - Ashwin Karthik Caricature

It has been three weeks since my last Monday Truclusions article, and I have been looking for something worthwhile to share with you. Finally, I found something to narrate –  but before that, let me tell you a story. It goes like this:

The Brahmin’s Tale

Once upon a time, there was a great King who was very generous and really cared for his subjects. One day, a poor Brahmin in a far-off village decided to visit the King and seek some financial help. He wanted to ask the king to help him in his daughter’s wedding.

The Brahmin was so poor that he and his family could only afford one meal a day. The Brahmin’s wife had only enough to cook a single roti for him before he set off on his travels.

On his way to the palace, the Brahmin took a break to eat the roti that his wife had packed for him. He hadn’t eaten for a day, and as he was about to take his first bite, a hungry dog came up to him seeking food. The dog looked on the verge of death if it wasn’t fed.

The Noblest Of Intentions

The Brahmin thought for a few seconds and then gave his food to the hungry dog. With a hungry belly, he continued on his journey to the King’s palace. Once he got there, he told the King about the sad state of his affairs and the purpose of his visit to the palace.

The King told the Brahmin that he would help him, if the Brahmin would tell him the noblest thing he had done recently. The Brahmin found himself at a loss, and asked, “What noble deed could I have done? I am only a poor Brahmin.” All that came to his mind was feeding the hungry dog his only roti.

The King was pleased and agreed to help the Brahmin. The King began to weigh the gold coins that he wanted to gift the Brahmin using a weighing scale. To his surprise, the weight of the gold coins never increased in comparison to the weights.

Stunned, the King called the court sage and asked why this miracle had occurred. The sage replied, ”It was the quality of the deed that the Brahmin performed. He sacrificed his own food to feed a hungry dog, even though he himself was extremely hungry.”

Impressed by the Brahmin, the King decided to fund his daughter’s wedding at the expense of the royal treasury.

The True Value Of A Gift 

Now, let me give you the context needed, and explain why I narrated this story to you. It’s not because I wanted to highlight charity. It was to showcase the fact that even charity is worthless if you give something that doesn’t matter to you. But it is worth a fortune when you part with something that you value and that matters to the needy.

Now, I want to introduce you to two amazing people who have done, and are doing things, which have the potential to solve problems that are affecting the existence of life on earth.

The first person I am talking about reminds me of Shahrukh Khan’s character in the movie ‘Swades’. In the film, he brings electricity to a remote village in India. Similarly, this man rose from the streets of India to become the richest Indian in the United States. Manoj Bhargava is the man I am referring to.

One day it dawned on Manoj that one can only make a difference if they aim to be useful to others and not focusing on charity.

Choosing An Innovative Path

That is when the businessman turned philanthropist began to innovate simple things that could make a real difference. His organization has invented two simple machines: one that utilizes a simple cycle to generate electric power, which can run an entire household at minimal cost. The other can turn seawater to drinking water on a large scale basis.

Imagine life on earth without water! There wouldn’t be any, right? Water is a basic requirement for life to survive, and electricity (in modern day life) plays a humongous role in improving quality of life.   

He says, and I quote, “I got the best brains on the job, not necessarily certified with multiple PhDs, but the practical knowledge to work on these projects.” On a lighter note, he says, “I don’t measure a person’s success on the basis of the car in their garage. But look at the kind of tools in his /her garage and see the potential in them not to quit what they intend to achieve.”

He goes on to say that one’s success is inversely proportional to the lethargy or boredom one experiences. It also means that the system has no precise criteria in place to measure if one’s capabilities are successful or not.

Manoj is the kind of a person who identifies talent and gives opportunities to those who the professional system has rejected just because they don’t have multiple degrees.

Plugging The Holes In The System

The second person I am going to introduce to you is a man who welcomes, with open arms, those who the educational system has failed. I am talking about the man who inspired Aamir Khan’s character of Phunsuk Wangdu in ‘3 Idiots’. Sonam Wangchuk, the man from the Land of the High Passes, Ladhak, is an engineer, educationist and a very affable man.

His humility speaks volumes about his character when he says, “I am not proud that a movie character was inspired by me, it wouldn’t matter to me if it wasn’t. What pains me is that good work in this country is being recognised only through celluloid.”

Sonam has led the way for an alternative, pragmatic approach towards education. This has led to a drastic fall in the percentage of failures and dropouts from the education system.

This approach is called the Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladhak. This school has the distinction of taking on students who the system has failed in their board exams. The school allows them to actually learn by experience. The school is run by the students, much like how a government is run by elected officials.

They farm, keep animals, prepare food items, and engage in solving real-life problems. While solving a real-life problem regarding the scarcity of water, they created the ‘Ice Stupa’. A vertical ice tower, which was the result of a very simple idea: creating a fountain by positioning a long pipe in a vertical position. When the water falls to the ground, it freezes in the minus 20-degree weather and creates a huge conical shape.

Each Ice Stupa is capable of holding 3 million litres of water. This is how the acute water scarcity in the area was solved to an extent. This idea earned Sonam the prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise.

Food for thought: giving opportunities to those who the system has failed. Isn’t that truly what inclusion is all about?

Liked reading this? Then you might also like to read Monday Truclusions – Learning The Right Approach To Live From Real Life Heroes.

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Ashwin Karthik is the first quadriplegic cerebral palsy student to bag an engineering degree in India. In spite of having his share of misfortune that affected all his limbs since birth, Ashwin is blessed with a positive attitude and an undying spirit in life. He is a very talented poet and loves tackling impossible challenges. Ashwin has 3 role models in life- his mother, Sachin Tendulkar, and Stephen Hawkings. Currently, he works in ANZ as a Business Analyst, strives to bring awareness for an inclusive society, and wants to achieve at least a fraction of what Sachin has done for the spirit of his countrymen!