the last word: Sense of Positivism

What it takes to develop a mental model within ourselves that enables us to stay positive and look for opportunities to be happy

In these days of hyper-competition and extreme cynicism and negativism being spewed by our politicians and sometimes the people around us, it is important to build a mental model within ourselves that enables us to stay positive and look for opportunities to be happy. A few thoughts on what it takes to develop that capability.

The first imperative is to avoid passing a quick negative judgment on everything and everybody. Let’s start with politics. We are entering an election year and it would be easy to get carried away by the vitriol poured by many people of ability on people they hate. A case in point is the analysis made by one of our former Ministers, himself an academician and intellectual par excellence on the track record of the present administration in the country. He pronounces demonetization to be a monumental error, calls the GST deeply flawed and the surgical strikes not unique. The Triple Talaq Bills is biased and an overkill, the Air Force and HAL have both been shortchanged in the Rafale deal and finally, the farm loan waivers have become an imperative thanks to wrong policies. And ends his column on the first Sunday of the new year by predicting that the people of the country will view with suspicion any move in the next ten weeks made by a Government that will not find it “easy to erase the word Fail on the report card.”

If one finds this outpouring of negatives biased, the powers that we have not covered themselves in glory, either by dismissing the recent election results as just a reverse in one state, with the Congress doing deals to get themselves into power in MP and Rajasthan without getting a clear positive mandate from the people. Former leaders whom many of us grew up adoring have been vilified or nullified and it would seem that the blame for all ills in the country can be laid at the feet of one family. Really, would a billion Indians be so gullible? Haven’t we all be taught that you can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time?

For people like me and many of my ilk who don’t have any pre-set political preferences, and we can be thankful that unlike the US you don’t have to decide to be a Democrat or Republican and instead reserve the right to choose it is disturbing that both political parties and the many members of the Mahagathbandhan inevitably choose to be negative about their opponents rather than talk about their own contributions in the past and the present. For instance, I would love to see Rahul Gandhi do a TV interview where he talks with facts about the contributions of Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Nehru-Gandhi to the development of the country rather than letting his party shoot paper planes in Parliament. And it would be good too to see MP Modi and Party President Shah drop their rhetoric against the Gandhi family and present the facts of the development in infrastructure, digital and rural India which are there to see for those who are willing to let their eyes be opened. There is much both sides, and even Chandrababu, Mamta and other politicians have to be proud about-let’s make our people feel good about this rather than point them to reasons to hate the others!

In India, we have the power of youth-the luxury of having what a friend calls “a continent of diverse populations within a country”

To get the sense of positivism back, no better place to look than at the cricket fields of Australia where the exploits of Pujara, Kohli, Bumrah, Pant and Yadav have brought sunshine into the lives of the fans. Here are lads who have beaten all the odds-Kohli and Bumrah brought up by hardworking mothers to emerge as world beaters and others who have risen from humble beginnings to become world champions. One of my favorite journalists (evocative sports writers are a fading breed) Sandip G writes about the early years of Jaspreet Bumrah where he would spend hours playing backyard cricket all by himself, inspired by videos of Akram and Akhtar (hey why not Kapil Dev and Srinath?), trying to hit a pair of shoes at Yorker length and denied any formal coaching, managed to develop freak run-up and action like Muralidharan that enables him consistently to surprise the opposition batsmen. Here is an Indian who has used his adverse circumstances to advantage, mastered his craft, adapted to diverse conditions and used his quirkiness to emerge as arguably the best fast bowler in the world today.

This is truly the India and Indian spirit we should be talking about and celebrating, something we talked about at our own 5F World team new year party where our six thirty-something business heads have committed themselves to large goals in the consulting, skills, startup and social sector. As Kahlil Gibran has rightly said “The size of your problems is nothing compared to your ability to solve them. Never overestimate your problems or underestimate yourself.” In India, we have the power of youth-the luxury of having what a friend calls “a continent of diverse populations within a country”. Let us seek what is good about ourselves, where the opportunities are and how we can win!

Ganesh Natarajan