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Monday, February 23, 2015

Kalam’s charm floors audience - The Hindu

Kalam’s charm floors audience - The Hindu

The week seems to have made a good beginning with two news items - some glorious advice from the Prime Minister and the former President of India relevant to the student community. It is time, people ponder over the issues mentioned for greater benefit and prosperity of the youth of India.

We would need to dovetail the remarks mentioned by the two leaders with our education system and revamp it completely so that the nation offers the best learning environment to one and all.

Monday, February 16, 2015


I was doing some research into the life stories of some of the prominent personalities who offer great insight into the secrets of Self Development.

Incidentally, I landed on a story published in Yahoo Cricket about 'Kutraleeswaran, India's forgotten swimming sensation.'

What a great inspiring story! During the year 1994, when he was only 13, he swam across six sea channels, including Pak Strait and English Channel, beating the 30 year old earlier unbroken record of crossing 5 channels in the same year set by Mihir Sen. He also declined an offer of superior training facilities by Italy if only he agreed to represent them in the next Olympics. Unfortunately, he didn't get continuous support for his swimming career in India and he finally gave up swimming for his studies. He seems to be working in U.S.A currently.

In one of my earlier blogs reviewing the progress of sports in India, written in Tamil, I noted that during the year 2014 India had made considerable all round progress in sports. Big sponsors are slowly discovering value for their investments in sports like football, hockey and tennis too, Earlier, Cricket alone attracted investments, rewards and crowds. Things are definitely changing. I only hope that the shattered dream of Kutraleeswaran doesn't happen to other sports persons too in the days to come.

I understand that the other unfortunate part is the professional life of a sports person is limited generally to only 3 to 4 years and that they lack the long term support for their productive stay in sports. They would need a long career support in order to sustain their interest in sports.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

“You Can You Will” by Joel Osteen – A Book Review

I must thank my son for introducing me to the television broadcast of the weekly services of Joel Osteen, the senior pastor of America’s largest church – Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas in the U.S.A. His weekly services are seen by more than 10 million viewers each week in the U.S and millions more in 100 nations around the world. He is the author of six #1 national bestselling books and has been named by numerous publications as one of the most influential Christian leaders in the world. For some time, we were regular viewers of his services and began admiring him for his very powerful motivational service speeches. His quotes and references from the Bible during his speech and in his writings can relate to anyone, regardless of their religion. One can learn a lot from such references and his own narrations about his personal life experiences in his speeches and the books written by him. Just a few snippets from his book “You Can You Will” that I happened to read:

Keep your vision in front of you:
Studies tell us that we move toward what consistently see. You should keep something in front of you, even if it is symbolic, to remind you of what you are believing for. All over your house, you should have pictures that inspire you, scripture verses that encourage you, mementoes that strengthens your faith.

“1. I learnt this from my father. He and my mother started Lakewood Church in 1959, in an old rundown feed store. They had ninety people. You know what my father called the church? Lakewood International Outreach Center. There was a big blue sign outside. The sign cost more than the building. The truth is, they weren’t an international outreach center. They were a small neighborhood church with ninety people. But every time my father drove up to that church and saw the sign, his vision was being increased. He was moving toward it.

When the ninety members saw the sign week after week, something was being birthed on the inside. Seed of increase were taking root. Do you know what Lakewood is today? It is an international outreach center touching the world. Growing up, my father always kept a globe on his desk at home. At the old church there was big world map on the wall. He put a globe behind him when he spoke. He always had the world in mind. One year at the conference, people came from 150 countries. It looked like the United Nations.

When you keep in front of you, you are moving forward.”

"2. A few years after my father went to be with the Lord and I stepped up to pastor the church, I had a desire to write a book. My dad had written many books, and they were all translated into Spanish. On the bookshelf I walk by at home every day, I had two copies of my dad’s most popular book. One was in English. The other was in Spanish. I kept those books in front of me, knowing one day at the right time I would write a book. My dream was that it, too, would be translated into Spanish.

In my mind this seemed so far out. I never thought I could get up and minster, much less write a book.  
This was stretching my faith. A year went by, no book. Two years, three years, four years. It would have been easy to lose my passion and thing it was never going to happen. But I had my father’s books strategically placed on this bookshelf right outside my closet.

To get to the other parts of the house I had to go right by those two books. I saw them thousands and thousands of time. I didn’t always consciously think about them, but even subconsciously I was moving forward writing my own. My faith was being released. Something on the inside was saying, "Yes, one day I am going to write a book.

In 2004 I wrote my first book, ‘Your Best Life Now.’ When the publisher read the manuscript they decided to publish it in English and Spanish at the same time. Normally they wait to see if anybody buys it first. But that’s the way God is. His dream from your life is bigger than your own.”

Run Your Race:

There will always be people who try to squeeze you into their molds and pressure you into being who they want you to be. They may be good people. They mean well, but the problem is they didn’t breathe life into you. God did.

The second quality of a winner is that you run your race the way you want to run it.

You can’t be insecure and you can’t worry about what everyone thinks. You can’t try to keep everyone happy. If you change with every criticism and play up to people, trying to win their favor, you will go through life letting people manipulate you and pressure you into their boxes.

You have to accept the fact that you can’t keep everyone happy.

“When my father went to be with the Lord, I had to accept the fact that the purpose of my life was different from my father’s. His calling was to help bring down the denominational walls between churches, and he went around the world telling people about the fullness of the Spirit.

When I took over our church, I felt the pressure to be like my father, to fit into his mold. I thought I had to minister like him and run the church like him and go down the same road. But when I searched my heart, deep down I knew my calling was to plant a seed of hope, to encourage people, to let them know about the goodness of God.

It was struggle, because I loved my father. Some people had been at the church for forty years. I thought, “I can’t be anything different. What would people think? They may not accept me, they may not like me.” But one day, I read a scripture about David. It said, “David fulfilled God’s purpose for his generation.

I heard God say right down in my heart: “Joel, your dad fulfilled his purpose, now quit trying to be like him and go out and fulfill your purpose.” When I heard that, it was as if a light turned on. I realized, “I don’t have to be like my father. I don’t have to fit into certain mold. It is okay to run my race. I am free to be me.

As our church started growing and more people started watching, the critics came of the Woodstock. People were saying, “He is not like his father. He doesn’t have experience. He is too young.” Even now, some say, “He is too much of this, or he is not enough of that.” I believe one reason God has promoted me is because I turned out all the negative voices and I have done my best to stay true to who God made to be.

I learned early on that to please God I may have to disappoint a few people. There were several members who had been with the church for a long time, friends of the family for years, who were upset because I wasn’t exactly like my father. I wouldn’t let them squeeze me into their mold, so they left our church.”

I too have learnt a lot in my own experience the benefits of visualization and dreaming one’s future and the need to say ‘no’ when it warrants. It might be very painful to say ‘no’, but it might be the most appropriate thing to do on certain occasions.

Incidentally, the other motivational speaker and author I adore is Antony Robbins, generally known as Tony Robbins. His must-read two books are: “Awaken the Giant Within” and “Unlimited Power”. Sometime during the late 1990s, when I struggled to produce results in my job and my own survival was getting threatened, I chanced upon his book “Awaken the giant within” and it became a sort of Gita for me for reviving my spirits.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Madras checks finds support in Spain - The Hindu

Madras checks finds support in Spain - The Hindu

I don't claim myself to be a visionary, but the thoughts that we have tremendous potential in many of our small rural towns had been striking me quite often. When I wrote my novel: WHAT IF OUR DREAMS COME TRUE! I envisaged that we created a marketing link for many of the rural products - such as the coral mats from Pathamadai, palmyrah tree products, cloth bags and art crafts, the decorative, cute, little dolls made out of clay for the Navrathri celebrations, mangoes and mango extracts from Kalakkad and many more- from the entire Tirunelveli region. We need better and more creative design and finishing, use of current technology, training of youth and so on. The businesses are run on traditional methods, controlled by a handful of families in select pockets. The worst of all, there is no price support for the products; they are sold away mostly for non remunerative prices.

In this context, I only recollect my own personal experience while working for a bank in the North-eastern states. The rural farmers, who were engaged in producing citronola oil from the grass which grew wildly everywhere in the tea gardens after one harvest, used outdated technology and sold their oil for throwaway prices to middlemen who had virtually bonded them by exploiting their economic weaknesses. These middlemen, in turn, sold the oil in Mumbai at very high prices to pharmaceutical companies and mad huge profits. We tried to intervene, ably supported by one of the central government sponsored marketing organization, by providing them seed finance for their operations and linking the sale of their products to the government marketing organization. We went to the farmers' doorsteps where they extracted the oil, even under a threat of physical assault by unknown middlemen. The farmers, though welcomed our initiatives, were scared of the middlemen and for losing their longstanding, traditional support. We collected only a small quantity of the oil, but we made the point. The very next week, the middlemen doubled the offer price for the oil and the farmers were pleased.

A similar experience resulted regarding selling oranges in Tinsukia, and ginger, pine apple and coconut in Tripura. It was a successful experiment, though they couldn't be continued on a long term basis. Farmers and rural producers want remunerative prices for their products.

Our handloom industry is one of the unique industries, providing employment to millions of people. It requires support in terms of technology, raw material at reasonable prices, cash flow, marketing their products, skill development and training. I know many government sponsored organizations have been set up, but they all seemed to riddled with nepotism, corruption, mismanagement, and inefficiency as many newspaper reports repeatedly claim.