Saturday, May 25, 2019

One Person Can Make A Huge Difference

This is not about Modi although the headline is tailor made for him. This is about 3 individuals who on their own did what entire communities could not. These stories are about single minded dedication to humungous goals which took decades to fulfil and demanded that these heroes sacrifice their already meagre resources to achieve them.

We all have heard of people in the corporate life who have done wonderful things. But they also have organisations who rally behind them and help them achieve their vision. However these selfless individuals who did the unthinkable on their own and in some cases, also fought societal and governmental apathy and hence are equally special. All of today’s stories are also about compounding – how a little every day leads to unbelievable outcomes.

The first story is about Jadav “Molai” Payeng who single headedly planted an entire forest in Assam on the banks of the Brahmaputra. How? By planting one tree every day for the last 35 years covering an unbelievable 1,360 acres – 2 times larger than the central park. He started when he was 16 years old and his inspiration came when he saw a lot of snakes die as floods and draught hit their village and the animals did not find any greenery to hide from the harsh sun. Today the Molai forest teems with wildlife today including tigers and elephants. He is rightfully called the Forest Man Of India and was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015.

The second story is about Kere Kamegowda - A shephard in Karnataka who spent time in the hills grazing his cattle and during the spare time digging up artificial tanks. In the past 40 years he has built 14 of them – all interlinked and transformed a barren hill into a green pasture. This illiterate man built these ponds on slopes and interlinked them so that they have water even in peak summers – a feat that engineers will also be proud of.

The third story is about Dashrath Manjhi – the mountain man of India. A 300 foot mountain stood between his and the next village in Bihar and the journey was long and treacherous. He lost many of his fellow villagers including his wife to the mountain. So he took a hammer and chisel and carved a 360 feet long and 30 feet wide road through the mountain. Took him 22 years of day and night effort. The government took more than 30 years to tar the road and the forest department even initiated proceedings against him for destroying government property!! But the mountain man did not give up and continued fighting to get the basic services to his village.
These inspirational stories are about the indomitable human spirit and the fact that if one decides, nothing is impossible. 
Enjoy your weekend 😊

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

2 Questions - What is Heptathlon? Who is Swapna Barman?

2 Questions - What is Heptathlon? Who is Swapna Barman?

Heptathlon is made up of Hepta (seven) and Athlon (Greek for contest). It is an athletic event, in particular one for women, in which each competitor takes part in the same prescribed seven events (100 metres hurdles, high jump, shot-put, 200 metres run, long jump, javelin and 800 metres run). These events take place over 2 days.

Who is Swapna Barman? She is the first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold. She was fifth on her Asian Games debut as teenager in Incheon four years ago.
Why is this important? Because we know the Indian prowess in athletics. We also know about the nervousness of youngsters performing at the highest level at the biggest stage.

But if this is too easy, consider this –
·         You are born with 12 toes – 6 on each foot. You can only afford normal footwear which hurts you every time you use it
·         On the day of competition due to tooth inflammation your jaw is 2 times the actual size
·         You come from a poor family and your dad is bedridden and your mom supports the family which also has 3 more children

So what do you do on competition day? You pull off three personal bests in the competition – the Shot Put, the Long Jump and the Javelin Throw, snatching away the biggest medal of your career. Isn’t this the stuff that champions are made of?

This was Asian Games in Sep 2018. We produced our highest ever total medal tally of 69 medals in the tournament and matched the highest tally of 15 golds (last achieved in the inaugural 1951 games held in New Delhi)
Swapna followed this up with a silver at the Asian Athletic Championship held in Doha last month.

Because the only thing better than beating the odds once is beating them twice!!

Enjoy your weekend J

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