The Best Way to find yourself is by losing yourself in the service to others”– Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Discovering the Model of my Life – striving to become a noble citizen
“What’s that?”. It was a smiling girl of about six years of age tugging at my long shirt sleeve and pointing towards my jeans. The girl’s face shone despite her ragged clothes, unkempt hair, mismatched slippers and bruises on her knees from some recent fall.
I, myself was eight years old and had accompanied my grandfather on his Lions’ Club activity of providing a meal to 200 students at an orphanage. Still seeing her hanging onto my shirt sleeve, I followed her gaze and saw that she was pointing at the unopened bar of chocolate jutting out of the pockets of my jeans. I was stunned to realise that the little child had never seen a chocolate in her life! I think that was the moment of realization for me, that there is a massive chasm of privilege between different sections of people in this world.
That day, I got exposed to the world of “two sets of clothes, two meals a day, and a simple smile on the face”. And perhaps grew many years in that instant. I resolved to learn more about the inequalities and disparities in the world, and to see if there’s something that I could do about it. I learnt that of the 7bn people in the world, there were still 700-800mn people who were extremely poor and struggled every day to make ends meet.
Later on, in my ninth grade in school, I had gone as a delegate of South Sudan to the Harvard MUN, where we debated on the ongoing global refugee crisis. I was on a committee which recommended basic solutions like locks in the rooms of women in the refugee camp. These discussions sent a shiver down my spine as I imagined the plight of these 50-100mn displaced refugees, who had lost their country and perhaps their identity, but strived to retain their self-respect.
I continued to plumb into the depths of the world of inequalities, when I learnt that there were regions in India where female foeticide was rampant and studies pointed to a half a million female foeticides in the country each year! I was appalled to learn that in these same regions, girls were not allowed to go to schools, and would stay home and cook from the age of 7. However, in 2016, when an all-women scientist team sent India’s first satellite to Mars, I could see hope.
I have gone through the various stages of disbelief, denial, dismay, heart-break and finally, fierce resolve whenever I have come across the plight of under-privileged people in the world. Whether their under-privilege is defined by lack of wealth, lack of opportunity, lack of equality, lack of belonging to a country or community or stems from belonging to a particular religion, caste or gender, the plight and heart-burn is the same.
If it had not been for the six-year old, who nudged me awake to the realities of the world, I may have travelled through life blissfully unaware of the problems that afflict humankind. I also became aware of the efforts of many people, many organisations which are trying hard to help these sections of society. Seeing a documentary on how Bill Gates re-invented himself from a competitive IT mogul to a world-changing philanthropist gave me goose bumps. The global movement of many industrialist billionaires pledging 50% of their wealth to the cause of providing succour to the under-privileged is equally admirable.
I have now developed a new-found resolve to use my education and skills to study hard, work harder, build some tech-led businesses which would directly help the under-privileged or would generate wealth to be used to help them so that I can create a deep and meaningful impact on the world, and help reduce the disparities around.
This should be the “Model of my Life”!
I would have lived well if my epitaph would read something like “Adviti grew through life to help others go through life”.