Monday, October 16, 2017


Various movements in India have marched to the determined chorus of the anthem – ‘hum honge kamyaab’… in fact there are many versions in different languages of India… Everyone seems to know the song but few know the author… In fact, very few know that originally it is not a Hindi lyric… it is an English verse!

The song ‘We shall overcome’ became popular in the US civil rights movement. It is believed to be derived from a hymn penned by Reverend Charles Tindley in the early 1900s. Martin Luther King used it in his oratory. Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and many other singers lent voice to it. Nations across the globe created versions in many languages.

However, it isn’t enough to sing ‘we shall overcome’. Resolutions have to move beyond internal resolve into aligned actions. Resolves may turn a shifty virtue that changes with situation. They may be oft sacrificed at the altar of selfishness. We must be spot on in our resolves to be consistent and steady in its implementation.

We tend to rein in resolve by succumbing to motives. We must overcome the circle of self-centredness and look beyond to the larger perspective. Very simply, we must overcome hate, greed and injustice of all sorts. The path to wishful positivity is filled with toil, self-doubt, seclusion and even defeat. But we shall overcome, someday!

Yes we can and we will overcome one day…
if we commit to the spot-on resolve today!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, October 9, 2017


Last Saturday, I was at the Installation Ceremony of the new Board of Samraat Club Curchorem. The event was in the hall of a school called Sarvodaya. A colleague asked me for the meaning. It was used by Mahatma Gandhi as the title of his 1908 translation of John Ruskin's tract on political economy, Unto This Last. Gandhi came to use the term for the ideal of his own political philosophy.

The word has two roots: sarva (all) and udaya (uplift)… literally meaning the uplift of all or the welfare of all. Ruskin's outlook extended from three central tenets: (1) the good of the individual is contained in the good of all. (2) a lawyer's work has the same value as the barber's in as much as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work. (3) a life of labour is a life worth living.

Incidentally, many centuries before, Buddha had spoken about the same approach as ‘Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay’ (in the interest of all, in the happiness of all). It is a useful compass for all of us who work in organisations that strive for making a positive impact on and with the people of the world.

Of course, we must start with the people around. We must extend regard and respect for everyone we meet. We must recognise the dignity in labour and participate in it. We must value every human being and recognise that equality comes about only when we are all uplifted to the same plane of self-respect. When we rise together, we truly rise!

Together we can rise, together we should
Sarvodaya is about the common good…

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, October 2, 2017


Here is an anecdote which I share while addressing Parents: Two young boys were on a bike on an early Sunday morning. The road had hardly any traffic. However, the bike went out of control and hit a lamppost placed on the centreline divider. I ask the audience, ‘Who is responsible for the death of the youth?’

Some blame the rider for riding rashly; some blame the parents who gifted the bike. Others blame the lamppost, the road, the bike, the government and other factors. I point out that I had been through worse bangs on three occasions and happily I survived all of them. Sadly the two young men did not survive their first accident.

So often, we want to fix blame for something that could be just an accident. An accident can leave you dead, paralysed, with a few hurts or without any scratches. Simple ones can be fatal and complicated ones can be sans pain or stain. After all, accidents are incidents that happen unexpectedly and unintentionally.

Of course, crashes could have a cause. And while it is good to learn from an accident, it can be insensitive to insist on fixing onus, especially in cases which do not really involve us. Every occurrence may not require identification of a culprit. Chance and circumstance are possible factors too.

Often there are mishaps without any apparent or deliberate cause. They are just accidents. If they have nil or minimum damage: we may not get into an over critical judgemental approach. Yes we can and we should learn from the experience and that is about being developmental. That’s when we can truly move on!

Blame game restricts to being over judgemental
Accidents should lead to lessons developmental

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, September 25, 2017


On coming Thursday, he would have turned 110. But Bhagat Singh died a martyr at the young age of 23. He lives on as an immortal inspiration for the youth…

The greatest inspiration is that Bhagat did so much and wrote so extensively in such a short span. Many say that if he lived longer, he would have created greater impact. But surely, he lived his life packing every moment with worthy actions far surpassing the ones by so many who have lived more than two or three times his age.

We must ask ourselves whether we are adding life to our years or years to our life. The latter does not require much effort on our part. To exist or survive is not a great challenge. We must make our life worthy of living by doing every extra bit of effort at the present moment.

Most of us are waiting for later… we wait for the ‘right moment’! But procrastination is the executioner of passion and potential. The best time to do any good was yesterday. The second best time is today! Tomorrow may be late. We must involve in worthy living NOW!

Bhagat showed length of the road does not matter
We must do worthy living NOW, don't wait for later!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, September 18, 2017

Gullible’s Travails

These days, adults talk revolves around the deadly addiction of juveniles to the Blue Whale Challenge. The internet game reportedly consists of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators over a 50-day period, with the final challenge requiring the player to commit suicide. Adults are baffled that ‘intelligent’ children too are swayed as they don’t apply their thinking. I ask them, ‘do you?’

It is true that in the age of the internet, the gullible are ones who do not apply the test of thinking before embarking on actions triggered by the virtual world. While craving for recognition or depression due to non-acceptance or plain bravado could be the basic reasons for succumbing to such a deadly challenge, it is obvious that lack of the spirit of inquiry that leads to gullibility.

Out in the virtual world we find careless forwarding of fake messages, many of which are life-threatening as they fuel hate and prejudice against other human beings. While the Blue Whale Challenge can be singled out and countered out in various ways, the gullibility of even well-meaning persons is creating a bloody ground for discrimination, lynching and killings.

Most of the gullible, when confronted with the falsehood of their viral posts, defend their irresponsible travails with the argument, ‘I ‘only’ forwarded it!’ But it is pertinent to note that we forward only because we agree (even if without applying discretion). We must check for the veracity as well as reconfirm the message before believing it. And even after confirming, we should consider whether it is worth passing on.

The antidote to venom is often in the venom. For the falsehood on the internet, we can try to check its validity on the internet itself. At the same time, we must use a questioning approach to check the reliability. Most importantly, we must examine the information for its relevance to positivity. After all, negativity leads to the travails not only of the gullible but also of the unconnected innocent.

In the virtual world, check before you carelessly forward
Gullible’s travails lead to a deadly target that’s backward!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, September 11, 2017

Widen the ring

The fifth edition of Kalakirti’s Goa Environmental Festival was held in Panaji over last three days. It included screening of films, talks, panel discussions as well as competitions for filmmakers, photographers, artists, cuisine, street plays and wealth out of waste. Coming Saturday, the festival goes to Ravindra Bhavan, Margao with films, photographs, paintings, cuisine contest and a workshop for teachers.

The partners had increased this time and so did the venues and the reach. Each associate hosted an activity that was their expertise. They brought in greater diversity that enhanced the influence and the impact on different sections of society. Indeed, it has underlined, once again, the importance of widening the ring.

There are many positive and progressive initiatives by individuals as well as organisations. But to widen the circle of influence and impact, we must connect with similar and parallel initiatives. We must involve and work together by joining hands with more partners to widen the ring.

There are different reasons why we are reluctant to widen the ring. We may worry about sharing stage. We may not want to share power. We may be poor in our skills of team working. We may feel we don’t require help. But, the most likely reason is that we focus on self-centredness instead of the larger purpose of our initiative.

It is pertinent to note that the choice to widen the ring is truly empowering for the results as well it makes the efforts easier. When we increase the role-players, it results in making a larger stage and a larger audience. We share not just opportunities but we also end up sharing responsibilities and the workload. Most importantly we have just made greater scope for our enterprise.

Together we can, together we shall
Widen the ring and further our call!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, September 4, 2017

Not me

When I was in school, some friends would tease me by calling out my name as Parveen Babi, a popular Hindi film actress. I would not show my irritation as I knew that the teasing would get worse if they knew I was affected by it. However, internally I would be seething. 

One day I shared my indignation with my father. Calmly, he asked me, ‘Are you Parveen Babi?’ I shot back, ‘of course not!’ My father continued, ‘and what is your favourite drama?’ I told the name of the Marathi drama ‘Toh Mee Navech’ (That’s not me). He repeated his first question and I replied with a smile, ‘That’s not me!’

So often, we feel easily slighted by someone calling us names. We perceive it to be an unfair label or a spiteful abuse. We get worked up as we feel that we are targeted unfairly. We allow the indignation to simmer and eventually boil as offended outrage. We respond in self-righteous fury that can blur many realities… all because we can’t tell our own mind that ‘that’s not me!’

We take offence too easily and we resort to poor defense or retaliation. Instead we should choose tolerance combined with dignity and open mindedness. Character is all about refusing to be affected by petty issues. Our response to every stimulus should never be easy prey for barbs. If it is a case of ‘not me’ we should not allow it to become a case of ‘why me’ or ‘how me’.

Interestingly, years later when in college, I visited the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai. Among the few visitors that afternoon was Parveen Babi! I introduced myself and started telling her of being called by her name. As I narrated the tale of learning to say, ‘not me’, she replied with an enigmatic smile, ‘not me, too!’

Heed, we are only what we choose to be
And if we seem otherwise, say ‘not me’!

~ Pravin Sabnis