21 Day Hiatus

The Head and the Heart

God’s way of telling you to take a break …

Many among us are wondering what do we do, while the world has been forced in a lockdown mode. There are some who are catching up on their much-needed sleep; some are catching up on their habit of reading books (great going), and some are still scratching their heads and wondering what to do. Most of us have graduated to the ‘Whatsapp University’ and have applied for the 24 hour subscription.

There are some things that I would like to share from my 25 years in the uniform AND nudge you to imbibe some lessons; I’m positive that this may make a difference in your lives. These 21 days can make or break you. It can be a game changer. It can lead you to a more positive, motivated better YOU. Either that OR status quo … the way you’d been living continues. This is just a hiatus and nothing at all and this too shall pass.

So, what should/ could we do in this holiday … Foremost! Spend some quality time with your family. The most important people in your lives. In this daily mundane office/work -home routine you’d forgotten them. Spend time. Cook. Play board games. Watch TV together. Watch movies together. Share stories. Share memories. Build rapport. Strengthen relations. Make phone calls, to all your near and dear ones; friends and family. Your voice (and one call) can do miracles. Replace screen time with Real time.

Set a routine. Break the past routine. Get up early (5 or max 6 am). Give yourself a 30-minute cardio; basically, pumping up the heartbeat, increase some blood supply to the extremities and strengthen body muscles. Push ups, some abs and lower body exercises. Freshen up and sit at your workstation by 9/9.30. In this time, you could have made breakfast and surprised your family (bonus!). Subscribe to an online course for greater learning. Tea break with family and back to work. Catch up on all your pending work. All. Think and pen your future workplace requirement. Preparing the fresh/ first quarter projections or any other requirement. Your POA (Plan of Action) on resumption of normal service.

Post lunch a quick 20 mins siesta is a luxury provided by mother nature (even Napoleon had his power naps). READ. Pick up some/ any book and read. All the travelling time that is being saved needs to be invested. So, Read!

Post five, back to family time. Listen to songs, sing along, play some board games; we are into “banana peal”; a board game akin to scrabble sans the marks and competition. It helps collaborate. Awesome. A movie/ serial and early to bed.

And just before hitting the pillow, count your blessings and pray for humanity and daughter earth and help develop an attitude of gratitude.

You have tried your way all these years. Try this way for 21 days for an habit to form and then there will be no other way thereafter.

Integrity. Discipline.

Really, But How Do I Do it?

“Salvation lies Within” – Warden Norton, Shawshank Redemption

In these trying times across the globe, a number of people have been advising to keep your spirits up; be optimistic and so forth. So, how does one keep oneself optimistic, while everything around seems to be floundering? While we were deployed in border frontiers our our nation, with zero communication is a small post with just our section (7-9 men) or platoon (32-36 men); one would hardly interact with people days on end. No internet those days. No mobiles. No communication. It takes effort to keep ones morale high. So how did we do it? Here is my take:

+ Cliche but true; positive thinking. Help your brain to seek for positive emotions. It could be anything. It should help you smile. A single +ve thought and the neurotransmitters take off. Oxytocin (love, pleasure, orgasm), Serotonin for mood, Dopamine (stimulates and encourages) are released; reduces blood pressure and makes us feel better. Share something +ve. Chill.

+ Be an eternal optimist. Don’t take anything for granted. Everything has to be earned. There is nothing called luck. The more you strive/ practice/ want and put in effort; your grit – a relentless pursuit will help you get to your objective.

+ Keep learning. Be curious. Pessimists lack curiosity. Curiosity is the cornerstone of knowledge. And I oft repeat, “Knowledge is power”/ “Knowledge gives CONFIDENCE”. It beats “I know it all” and you broaden your horizon. Open your mind (and heart). Remain Alert.

+ Don’t pass the blame. Everything going wrong is due to someone/ government and so on. Take responsibility; then you learn. The mind exaggerates risks, suffering and negativity. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in their seminal work spoke of the choices people make. From the probabilistic standpoint even when the choices are identical, we have strong preferences. We are more willing to gamble when it comes to our gains. We tend to be risk-averse.

+ Put things in perspective. At the face of it, it may look like ‘dooms-day’ but remember ‘nothing is what it seems’. Step back and put it in perspective. It gives you a better understanding and you can truly live ‘ Don’t sweat small stuff’. The event/ issue won’t matter a week/ month/ year from now.

+’Carpe Diem’ (Latin for ‘Seize the Day’); live in the moment. It is a philosophy for happiness. Don’t wait for the pot of gold at the end of the journey. Enjoy the journey, buddy!

Exercise Regularly;
Physical Fitness = Mental Robustness

+ And last but not the least. Keep your energy up. A half-hour physical exercise helps you boost your energy, blood flow, raises positive emotions and increases your immunity. Fresh oxygen, early in the morning, shoots through your system and injects your billion cells.

Live and let Live. Enjoy. Wishing you the best.

Be Safe. Be Home. Hear the chirping of the birds. Enjoy the breath.

Womans’ Day

WOSAF (WOmen SAFety) with SITCON (SITuation CONtrol) Measures

Come March 8th, and there is a lot of hullabaloo about WOMANS’ DAY; and as an Annual Event, perfunctorily, organizations do lip service and organize an event and pack their bags for the next day. Really …

Be Prepared . Be Alert . Be Safe .

Let me share some tips herein, for everyone to ensure safety.

The one rule you should remember is that hard objects should be smashed against bone, while pointed objects used to pierce into soft tissue.

You should have your keys in hand as you approach your car or front door – no fumbling in your purse!  Something a friend told me years ago is to take one key and put it between your second and third finger and make a fist around the rest of the keys, it becomes a great weapon if needed.

If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Avoid drawing unwelcome attention to yourself.

It is a fallacy that women are not strong. For example, it takes only 12 pounds per square inch of pressure to dislocate someone’s knee; even a child of 10 years can generate over 50 pounds of force. The knee is the easiest place to kick. If you are caught in a clinch or held down either from the front or back, your heel can generate a lot of strength. So if you hit your heel on the attacker’s instep with all your body weight, he will collapse. Never punch a person with your fist on his face because if his mouth is open you’ll get hurt by his teeth. Instead, use the heel of your hand. Use your fingers to gouge the eyes. Slap a person with the cupped palm on the ears.

Though there is no reason one can’t live or travel alone, the fact is that it is always safer for single women in India to live or travel with at least 1 or 2 other people. Often if you have a male companion, you are usually also less likely to be sexually harassed and/or molested. (We are not saying this is how it should be! It curbs women’s rights to freedom of movement and is fundamentally sexist. But it is a safety precaution that works to some degree in India.)

If you are traveling on assignment, or have moved to a new town or city for work , ask your company or organization to ensure your safety by making the arrangements for your stay through their local contacts. Or ask them for known and reliable contacts through whom you can make your arrangements. In the hotel, make sure your door has a latch or chain on the INSIDE, and once you are in your room always keep the door locked and chained. Always carry a portable door-stop and use it at night irrespective, or use some object like a door stopper. If it is a room on the ground level or 1st floor, make sure the windows have grills. Do not leave your balcony door open while sleeping at night. When ordering food etc. do not leave the door open, and yell for the service person to walk in. Have them knock and take your items from the door.

In budgeting your travel or rent expenses make safety your no.1 priority.  The lower the cost the bigger the risk with safety.  Hence it may seem like a good, cheap deal on a  rented house, apartment, hotel/ guide/ transportation/ tour package, BUT the more obscure it is – the bigger the risk with safety.  You are better off with a known place. Also something that other SINGLE WOMEN you personally know have used and recommended. (Remember it is not the same for a male tourist).

Never accept food and drinks from complete strangers (especially on buses, trains and in hotels), even if they seem friendly or are very insistent (and they can be, heaping you with phrases like “Indian hospitality” or “the guest is god”).  There have been cases where food and drinks were laced with drugs, and the tourists were then robbed and or sexually assaulted. Visit bars and restaurants which have more customers (that way your food is also fresher) and whatever you drink, insist on a sealed bottle (check the seal carefully).

Avoid all body contact with men you have just met or even if you have known them over a few days. Do not give hugs and don’t shake hands. Use the conventional ‘namaste’ instead.

Your eye contact with strange men should be brief and never intimate.  Don’t make direct eye contact and smile simultaneously.  In a culture where the sexes still remain hugely segregated, these can often be misinterpreted. Be friendly with your words; but be very careful with your body language.

If you are living in upscale hotels, you can dress as you wish.  But if you are living in low budget hotels, or are in public areas, the market, villages etc., wear baggy clothing and try to ensure your arms and legs are covered. This is only helps avoid unwanted local male attention. It has nothing to do with rape as women fully clothed, too, have been raped.

Avoid all travels at night. Never get into a cab or auto that has more than one man sitting in there. Sit near the door and if other men get in at any point, get out immediately. Never ever hitch a ride or accept a ride with a stranger no matter how friendly he seems. During train journeys mindfully gauge the people who are with you in your cubicle, and if you feel uncomfortable stay on your guard; don’t go to sleep. If you need to find your way somewhere, ask for directions. But never follow someone who says, “Follow me, I will show you.” Follow the directions and keep checking with others you meet en route to see if you are on the right path. Never agree to meet people you barely know at a house or hotel they invite you to. If you must meet and talk, ask them to meet you in some café of your choosing. Go and leave alone.

Set your boundaries with your body language. Usually men who are looking for an opportunity for an apparently ‘careless’ brush or uninvited physical contact, will test your boundaries first, for e.g. sitting too close. Or touching your hand. Indian women often get frightened and flustered and are unable to speak up. While foreign women are often concerned about seeming unfriendly, racist or snooty. But the rule of safety is the same for women no matter where they are in the world: IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE, IT IS NOT O.K.  Set your boundaries assertively. Move away or remove your hand. If they persist, tell them firmly using very straight language, “Please sit in that seat. I don’t like people touching me. Never appear hesitant or apologetic.

Avoid intensely crowded places – like buses and festivals. That is where men take the opportunity to molest women. Also, be very careful about a direct, angry confrontation in these kinds of situations, for mobs in India are notoriously unpredictable. A lot of Indian women often don’t complain because the crowd begins to blame them. In a festival try to stay on the edges of the crowds. In a bus or market place, loudly but firmly and politely say “What are you doing?” And remember guilt works better than anger.

The Golden Rule of Safety for Women where ever you are:

+ Be alert to your environment and the people around you at all times.

+ Listen to your gut instinct and don’t second guess it. (It is better to be wrong and safe than wrong and sorry!) And act on your observations and instincts intelligently.

+ If held from behind don’t struggle forward, you’ll only exhaust yourself. Instead throw yourself backwards to surprise your attacker or stomp on the lower leg or foot. The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

+ If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you …. Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse.

+ Keep Eyes and Ears Open, Hands Free. Make Eye Contact.

THROUGH A RAPIST’S EYES” (PLEASE TAKE TIME TO READ THIS)

A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim (profiling) and here are some interesting facts:

** The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid, or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

** The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who’s clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing.

** They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

** The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots. Number two is office parking lots/garages. Number three is public restrooms.

** The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don’t have to worry about getting caught.

** If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn’t worth it because it will be time-consuming.

** These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas, or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.

** Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you’re not worth it.

POINTS THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER:

1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: can’t believe it is so cold out here, we’re in for a bad winter. Now that you’ve seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.

2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell ‘Stop or Stay back!’ Most of the rapists said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

3] If you carry pepper spray, yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

4] If someone grabs you, you can’t beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh – HARD. One woman used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.

5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy’s parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you’ll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he’s out of there.

6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible.

7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behaviour, don’t dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you’d feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.

FINALLY, PLEASE REMEMBER THESE AS WELL ….

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.

2. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you…. chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after hopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their cheque book, or making a list, etc. DON’T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS, LEAVE.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be hiding at the passenger side , peek into your car, inside the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. (DO THIS TOO BEFORE RIDING A TAXI CAB) .

b. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

c. Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

Be Alert. Be Aware. Be Safe.

A New Decade

The NEW Decade

Two Zero Two Zero marks the beginning of another decade. And just like the last one, this one too shall pass. And should you take some time out to ponder, you’ll realize that soon you’ll be turning the dreaded number (OMG, I’m 25!!! I’m getting old OR I’m 30, 50 or any number) and if / should you look back, you’ll wonder where did the years pass by.

Make Two Zero Two Zero a decade for turnaround. You’ve done things your way and seen the results. Should you feel you’re stuck at the same place, feel overwhelmed with your situation, feel listless and life just passing by. You’ll soon be inviting new friends called stress | depression | loneliness; and oft these are accompanied by a host of other guests. Unannounced they drop in. The meds. The sleepless nights.

So if you’re a student, what would TURNAROUND mean? You are known as son / daughter of Mr and Mrs … This decade turn it around. By the end of this decade, Your parents should be referred to as father / mother of So and So. Do something so spectacular that you make your parents proud. They are known as the parents of So and So.

If you’re a professional how would TURNAROUND look like? You feel stuck in a rut. Can you look for a change? Change in domain? Change of any particular skill set? Change in your appointment – not just a promotion (which will, in good time, come as it is). I’m referring to quantum jump. You’ve always wanted to do certain things. Can you take baby steps to achieve that?

You could be of any age, position, role … anywhere, doing anything. Let Twenty Zero Twenty Zero be the decade of Change. If you ponder, you’ll realize that this is P.O.S.S.I.B.L.E. … Just get down to do it.

The J&K Conundrum

UT of J&K and Ladakh

Bifurcation of J&K

Article 370 and 35A have been abrogated. Let us understand the dynamics of new political and security dimensions of the historic decision. It would put an end to the money-making industry being run by a privileged few by looting the generous funds received from the Central government thus ensuring development and empowerment of the ordinary citizens.
With the passing of J&K Reorganisation Bill-2019, unified entity of J&K state as created by the Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh will become a part of history and two new political entities will emerge. A union territory (UT) of J&K with legislative powers and a UT of Ladakh without a legislature. While there are different models of UTs in India, UT of J&K will adopt Puducherry Model under Article 239A of the Constitution of India.

The separate Constitution of J&K promoted separatism rather than ensuring state’s full integration with the rest of India. The Constitution of India will be fully applicable without any exceptions in J&K. The separate state constitution will cease to be operative and with that the separate flag enjoying the same status as the National Flag. Only the National Flag will fly atop all government buildings and the government offices. Any disrespect to the national flag and national anthem would be a cognizable offence. Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) or the State Subject, which used to be the most prized possession of the state residents and most difficult to procure if one happened to be from any other community, will now become an ordinary document like many other documents. A big relief to the common man and particularly those who were denied the privileges enjoyed by the permanent residents of the state. There will be no gender discrimination. Tourism potential will be exploited to the full. Ranbir Penal Code will form part of the archives. In other words, the symbols of being different and special will cease to exist and from Kanyakumari to Kupwara and Lakshdweep to Ladakh India will be one and all will be Indians. 

Some are crying foul and trying to fuel communal passions to ensure the continuation of their hegemony, it would be suffice to say that the days of feudal attitude and open loot are over. The preamble to the Constitution of J&K did not refer the state as secular while the Constitution of India proclaims India as a secular nation.

What are the implications of reorganisation? UT of J&K will have a legislative assembly and no legislative council. It would have a council of ministers with 10 ministers (not exceeding 10% of total legislators) headed by a Chief Minister. Lt Governor will replace the Governor. The UT of Ladakh will continue to be governed by the two autonomous hill councils headed by the Lt Governor (LG). There will be common High Court for both the UTs. J&K UT will continue with JK Public Service Commission, Ladakh UT will be served by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). All major Central laws & Commissions will be applicable in both the UTs by deleting the term “excluding State of J&K” from the Acts governing them. Election Commission of India will henceforth conduct all the elections in J&K UT instead of the Chief Election Officer (CEO). All Indian citizens will be eligible to register themselves as voters as per the existing electoral laws as applicable in rest of the country. Local land laws have been retained.

The provision of Article 239A applicable to Puducherry will be applicable to new J&K UT. The legislative assembly will enjoy the power to legislate on all matters in the State List except “police” and “public order” and all matters in the Concurrent List. The J&K Police will be under the control of Home Ministry, as in the case of Delhi. However, in Puducherry law and order is a state subject. This is the main reason bothering the Kashmiri leaders who used to have full control over the police and used it to fulfil their agenda including soft approach towards separatists and terror sympathisers. J&K Bank will be under the full control of the Central Government and RBI. Bank which acted as a “Kamdhenu” for the local parties will no more be at their beck and call thus drying up a source of personal financing and conduit to terror financing. Centre will now have the power to also declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the two UTs.

The new assembly will have a term of 5 years like the rest of the country. It would have 107 members with 24 seats frozen for POJK. LG will have powers to nominate two female members as existing. The four existing members to Rajya Sabha will continue to be the sitting members from the current J&K. As far as Lok Sabha is concerned J&K UT will have 5 members while one will represent the Ladakh UT. Union Government has also proposed fresh delimitation of J&K Assembly. As far as MPs are concerned fresh delimitation is not permitted till the next census after 2026. An increase of 7 seats, 114 from 107 has been proposed and the delimitation will be based on 2011 census. The 2011 census is fraught with irregularities with the entire floating tribal population shown in Kashmir as well as a population of 2 lakh Kashmiri Pandits. Nonetheless, political reservation for the tribal is a welcome step.

Tourism will get a Boost!!

With this reorganisation, the people would expect good governance, of which they were deprived by the successive elected governments in the past, and end to rampant corruption. With direct monitoring by the Central government, the scope and pace of development will undergo a change and external investments will generate avenues for employment. Hopefully, the region will get better medical and health facilities and the need for its citizens and state of art super specialty hospitals will be functional here as well.

As far as the security environment is concerned, the new system will deal with anti-national, separatist and soft –separatist forces with an iron hand with policy of appeasement becoming a thing of the past. Pak sponsored terror will continue to be a cause of worry. It would not be easy for Pakistan to continue with its evil intent for very long. When lasting peace returns and situation becomes normal, there is a hope that the UT may once again get back the status of a state. 

The move has evoked little response from governments across the world except Pakistan. The response of USA and other P5 powers has been very positive. The noise being made by Pakistan is on the expected lines. Pakistan is worried about the next move of the Modi government which is likely to be its claim on POJK (which the Defence Minister, Mr Rajnath Singh has said, will be the only point of discussion henceforth). Pakistan’s criticism of bifurcation of J&K holds no water because of what it did in 1970 wherein it carved out a separate territory of “Northern Areas” from its occupied territory of J&K and made it a federally administered area. In 2009, it was renamed as Gilgit-Baltistan and is now planning to make it a province of Pakistan. Even Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) has maintained silence rather than supporting Pakistan. China, which lays claim to parts of Ladakh had tried to raise the issue at the UNSC but without any substance or support. 

UT of Ladakh

The detractors have been the ones, who have lost their “kingdom”; the likes of the Farookh, Omar, Mehbooba, the Hurriyat … the ones who would line their pockets of the dole that India pushed for peace in J&K.

And most importantly, the stature of India, across the globe would emerge as a decisive, determined, self sufficient country. This, coupled with the Chandrayaan II, would project India as a nation capable of holding its own, a nation you cannot mess with.

Here Great Courage and Fortitude is the Norm

Highest Battlefield of the World

This is the motto of the Siachen Brigade; the highest battlefield in the planet. Having served in the uniform for nearly 25 years, I understand courage. I understand valour. I understand bravery. I understand fortitude. I’ve lived it. Facing the incoming bullets of terrorists.

Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death – even if it means inviting the wrath of the perpetrators of crime/ physical danger. Moral courage is the ability to act rightly, in the face of opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement or personal loss.

The recent incident in ‘The City of Joy’, Kolkata and the actions of a daughter of an Indian Air Force Officer, speaks volumes about the qualities that ‘fauzi’ kids imbibe. Ushoshi Sengupta, an ex-Miss India Universe, was confronted with a situation. She displayed presence of mind to capture the incident on her phone, approach the police (whose response was a blot to the uniform), was followed to her residence, mobilized people of her area and took control of the situation.

Build YOUr Self-Efficacy

Kudos !

The grit, resolve, courage both physical and moral were in ample display. But then, nothing less is expected from the people who breathe, live and extol discipline; the armed forces. People who are role models of our present day society. It is no wonder that her father is her inspiration! Hats off sir.

Lessons for Women Safety:

A. I keep harping on presence of mind. What is required to be done, has to be done. A quick plan of action .. what are the resources I can bank on.

B. Be fearless. You’ll get abundant courage; energy which you never realized you possessed. If you are gripped with fear, the amygdala will take over and stop blood supply to your pre-frontal cortex; your thinking brain. Your body is being prepared for flight or fight.

C. Standing up to the bully has always worked for me. Once you raise your voice, you realize that the bullies are all empty within – all noise. AND importantly, this goes on to build your Self-Efficacy. The next time your brain will tell you, you’ve been in such situations earlier and gets hardwired to handle them.

D. Raise your voice. Make it a priority to make this planet a better place to live in. A better place for my mother. My sister. My wife. My daughter. Parents teach your children better.

Hats off Ushoshi .. for showing the way!!!

Fight Back

The Army taught me “Offence” is the only form of “Defence”. Very many times, I heard about ‘Self-Defence’ classes for women to protect themselves. Tch! Tch!

Take Control

When in doubt, attack! You’ve been attacked – counterattack! Bring it with a bang. Here are some key fight back principles. Remember: Fighting is the last resort! But when you gotta fight, you gotta fight hard. Your goal is to safely escape. Run, when you can.

Foremost – YOU are the weapon. Everything else is a tool, which can act as a force multiplier. The choice is between the perpetrator or YOU! YOUr commitment counts. YOU cannot be squeamish about this. What is non-negotiable. Clear any doubts in YOUr mind now, what is it you’ll fight for and what you’ll let be. What is acceptable and what is NOT?

YOUr strongest weapons of your body parts are: elbows, knees, legs, feet, hand, teeth, hips and of course your head! Strike these against his VPs (vulnerable points): eyes, throat, nose, neck, groin, abdomen, shin, knees. Be direct and explosive. Hit hard. Hit fast. Rip out his ears. Gouge his eyes. Smash is head. Crack his fingers. Strike his knees. It’s YOU or him!

Shout! In the Army, we have our war cries. It pumps up the adrenaline and adds 33 percent more power to your blows. It rallies the fighting spirit and sharpens your focus. Shout!

Your biggest ally is S.U.R.P.R.I.S.E. … Exploit timing. Exploit when he is talking. Attack without warning. Keep the initiative. Take him by surprise. Go for the gonads. Go for the eyes. Strike at his ears. Rip them off. YOUr goal is to drive him back to safely flee. If you are cornered, don’t struggle. Gather yourself to release with a sudden force with a War Cry. Don’t wait for big opportunities, grab small openings.

There are ‘n’ number of daily use items you can use to strike. Just use your imagination! Be aggressive! Overcome your fear of injury. Adrenaline will take care of it. Never give up hope or let futility set in. Futility results in paralysis. Focus. Focus. Focus. The assailant will let his guard down. When he is fumbling with his/ your clothes. When he is thinking he has won. Strike. Strike hard. Strike fast. Stay on the hunt.

Vignettes from the Uniform

Foot Soldiers: “For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”
  1. The recent incidents in J&K and the subsequent actions have brought to fore many issues. Many of my friends, who have not donned the uniform, have oft asked me very pointed questions. Some of them even went ahead and suggested what the response of the uniformed forces should be; from the dubious to the incredulous. Some of you are privy to these through the social media. That our nation does not have conscription army, coupled with complete lack of ground situation, prodded me to share some real-life vignettes to understand ground realities.
  2. My ‘infantry’ battalion; Infantry are the foot soldiers you witness operating in Saragarhi, Mumbai during 26/11 or Kargil in the chilly heights of Tiger Hill/ Tololing.

Fail Fast

3. In my first field posting, we were deployed in the North Eastern frontiers. Of the 4,057 kms of border that we share with China, 1,126 kms is in Arunachal Pradesh. If you see the map, you will notice River Ngi Chu, emanating from the Tibet Autonomous Region enters India and becomes River Lohit. It is a major tributary to the mighty Bramhaputra. River Dong flowing from East to West joins River Lohit. From this junction if you look due East approximately 28 kms (as the crow flies) is the tri junction of the Indo -China – Myanmaar border. A man-made marker is present to identify the location.

4. The mission of our ‘Long-Range Patrol’ was to go along River Dong to the marker.  Time 15 days. 10 men self-contained for the entire duration. Thus, each of us carrying anything from 30 to 35 kgs on our back. We were carrying a Radio Set to give an “all Okay” report each evening and our location. There were no track or trail to follow. Our plan was simple. A four/ five -kilometre march each day. Reach our location and prepare one hot meal and settle down for the night which descended at 4 pm!

5. The first four days were uneventful. That is, if you don’t account for the leeches!! They manage to enter  through the shoe eyelet, crawl up and keep sucking blood. Once huge, they just drop off leaving behind huge blood clots. To counter the leeches, we walked with a salt pouch at the end of the stick and keep dabbing around us. Phew!

6. We would set off after having our hot cup of tea early morning and reach our destination by around 12 – 1 pm. The walk was gruelling and tough. We would often have breaks to catch our breath and have some ‘shakarparas’ (Indian snack, rich in carbs). It tested us for physical fitness, mental robustness, determination and grit. On reaching our destination for the day we would settle down, contact our base and report location and prepare one hot meal and rest. We explored a variety of flora and fauna. My troops being from the North East helped as we would invariably have some fresh catch to keep us going, thanks to the booby traps they would lay.

7. Disaster struck on the fourth day when the heavens opened up. The heavy rains drenched us to our bones. It rained for two full days. We were forced to cancel our walk. Cold and shivering we were forced to take shelter under the canopy of the trees. We commenced on our mission the sixth day without our hot cuppa and, we kept walking till 2 pm. I was aiming to catch up the two days that we missed. Dinner was a challenge as we could not find any dry log| trees to light fire. We slept on half empty stomachs. By now we were running low on our rations and were hoping to complete our mission. But by the ninth day, it seemed like mission impossible.

8. We came up with a brilliant idea. Shed all our weight| heavy bags and proceed with bare essentials. Complete our task and on our way back, pick up our stuff. This sounded very logical. And the next morning, we set off, so much the lighter. That day we walked and walked. By around 12 noon we reached our marker and unfurled the Indian Tricolour and planned to stay there for the night. Without the packs, we had no extra clothing. A bonfire was lit, my boys managed a nice game, and we celebrated with a barbeque. The night was cold. Shivering through the night, we curled up against each other to keep us warm, we all got up at 4 am to return.

9. Things were fine, till we reached the place, where we thought we kept our belongings. Zilch!! We searched and searched and came up with nothing! We decided to spend the night there. With no warm clothing, cold and shivering and this was when the rain gods decided to test our resilience and mental stamina. Wet, cold and hungry, we all huddled and tried to catch a wink. The rains didn’t relent. The radio set was defunct by now, as our batteries had run out. Totally lost in wilderness, with not a soul aware of our location.

10. The fourteenth day, we resumed our walk, with no packs, drenched to the core, and to the pitter patter of the rains. Walking, in stupor, one boy lost his footing, and had a drop of nearly thirty feet. Dangling above the River Dong, which was flowing down below. Rescue was a major challenge, as we could get no footing in the slippery sides. Tying each other two men, lowered themselves and rescued him. He had a fractured ankle. He could definitely not walk anymore. We tied his ankle and decided to carry him. We crafted a stretcher from the logs and commenced our journey back. Night descended and were forced another halt for the night. The morning, saw heavier showers, and visibility restricted to 10 yards. By now two men had very high fever and were unable to walk. I had huge blisters in my foot.

11. We were to return to our base by the fifteenth day; and here we were stuck in an unknown location. Soaked to our bones, we decided to take change things. Hungry, I nominated two boys to hunt for some food. We had weapons to scare away wild animals. As the leader, I was carrying some ammunition. So, the two hunters go to fetch us some food. After some hours we hear a shot! Bingo! Darkness sets in and nothing; Kaput – neither the food nor soldiers. Some local leaves were boiled and we sustained for the night.

12. Just before dawn break, the two soldiers lumbered in. Bedraggled, dishevelled, tired with cuts and bruises all over their bodies as if mauled. On inquiry, we learnt that the hunters had bumped into a small bear and took a shot and missed; the mother hovering nearby charged at them. The two ran to save their lives and kept running for over three hours and both of them could finally meet up only around 2/3 pm. While they were finding their way towards the camp; they found a cave and took shelter for the night. To their horror, this was the mother bear’s abode. They found some remains of the pack that belonged to us, everything torn to pieces and in tatters. They slid out in silence and found their way back to our camp.

13. Twentieth day, the rain gods had mercy and the sun peeked from the mountain range to the East. It ushered a fresh ray of hope and cheer. We found the energy to commence our journey to our destination. We were already three days past expiry date (much later we learnt that rescue mission could not be launched due to the inclement weather). With one soldier on stretcher, we took turns to carry him and made a halt that evening. One of our traps, set on our way out had a catch! Another hot meal (just tandoori!) was enough to perk us up. The hot meal restored our spirits. On the twenty first day, we met a rescue patrol which had been dispatched to look for us. We were still two days from the SP. With the help of the patrol, we gained speed and found our destination.

Call for Action

  1. The whole is greater than the sum total of the parts. Our actions resulted in a string of successes. T.E.A.M. is the key to success. 
  2. As a leader, not only must your T.E.A.M. know your master plan but it is imperative to have their buy-in. Leadership is the imposition of your personality in execution of task. And when the task calls for unlimited liability, you better look into every aspect of their training and operation. And remember, the devil lies in the detail.
  3. Get your T.E.A.M. to buy in your vision, and once that is done, there is nothing they cannot achieve. Believe me when I say, NOTHING!!! And to get your T.E.A.M.s buy-in they need to see:

+ Your skin in the game; your commitment and your whole-hearted involvement. No ifs and no buts. They can see through sham.

+ They should believe that you put them before you, always and every time. I’m proud to share that YOUR army, the credo of the Chetwode, is drilled into every officer: “The safety honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety, come last always and every time.”

+ Nishkaam Karma as a karam yodhha, do your task and BE in the present. The rewards will follow. If you are looking for rewards, concentrate on your service. Its ‘give’ and ‘take’. Remember, you’ll always get more than what you deserve.

+ And if there is one, just one QUALITY that’ll stand by you. That stood by me and stands by every soldier when he dons the uniform. The one differentiator is INTEGRITY. Which really means, that your MEN TRUST YOU to do the right thing. Each one of us comes to this cross road, and we have to make a choice … I urge you, it’s not necessary to make the correct choice BUT make the right choice. It may be a road less travelled. So be it. The journey will be beautiful.

Jai Hind!!!!

Are YOU Growing?

Growth is Mandatory

Nature demands that each person grows. This is very evident, if you find time, to watch nature. Every person has this in his/her DNA. Each and every parent wants their children to be better than what they have achieved/attained. They go out of their way to provide and educate.

I met this YOUng handsome bloke (score and half at the most), working in an MNC, in an enviable position. The battle of the bulge was evident. After the introductions, I commented on his losing battle (and touched a very raw nerve!). The routine (which I believe, YOU reader, share in common) is waking up (reluctantly) in the morning (7-7.30 am), morning rituals, grab a bite and office by 9-9.30. Lunch time vanishes in a jiffy. Before YOU could say Radhakrishnan Pillai, the day seems to nearing doomsday, as the number of pending tasks hangs over your head. By the time you reach home, dog tired, its already 8-8.30 pm. There is just no time for anything else. And life goes on!!!

Each one looks forward to the weekend, to let YOUr hair down. The venues keep changing, the malls/ movie halls change – and again there is a definite predictability of the actions. Noble Laureate Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

Want to Grow? Want to Get an Education? Want to do Something (sth)? What/ who is stopping you? One day, the employees of a firm, read a notice on the entrance of their office, “We are sorry to inform YOU of the untimely demise of the person who stopped YOU grow”. Kindly place a wreath on the casket. The employees, filed one at a time, to pay their last respects. They moved up and on placing the wreath, saw a mirror inside the casket. The person who stops YOU grow is YOU. Wherever YOU would like to go/be is in YOUr hands.

Can we just tweak our lifestyle? Just one change. Get up say thirty minutes early to include a physical activity in our lives. Enroll in an online course. Pursue some certification here. Attend some seminar there. Growth is imperative. Growth is Mandatory. And if YOU are NOT growing, YOU are going against nature. 

What are YOU doing about YOUr Growth?

What is YOUr Statement?

A number of you have been wondering about the purpose of your lives and whether you are doing the right thing?

It’s quite natural for these queries to crop up. Every once in a while, when you sit back and relax and you wonder what are you doing with your life, this question pops up? Am I doing the right thing? More importantly, and especially when, you seem to be leading a routine, dull, daily life – when life seems to be a rigmarole. Each day is “same-to-same”. Each day seems to be a repeat of the previous day, and the one previous to that. Fact is, if you slice off a week, from between, you’d not even realize which week has been sliced.

Sad, right? This is not what life is supposed to be, right? Each day should invigorate me. Each day should fill me up with energy, ready to bounce, ready to roll, ready to impact all those lives that come in touch with me, right?

What is the missing ingredient? Why is this NOT happening? Why does the day seem to be such a bore, dragging its feet? It’s neigh impossible to wake up in the morning and feel enthusiastic about the day ahead.

Seems familiar? Sounds familiar? Is this what YOUr life has turned out to be? After all the Engineering Degree/ Management Degree? And YOU thought you’d make a difference. It’ll be joyous, fun-filled journey.

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Welcome to Reality!!

But let me share some tips to make it a reality.

1. Give as much as you can and where ever you can. Helping other people is healthier and makes you feel good.

2. Relate to people. Truly connect. People with strong social relationships are healthier and find happiness. Keep the principle of family first foremost.

3. Exercise and take care of your body. Each morning get up and inject fresh oxygen into your system. Do anything, walk, run, yoga … definitely not in the gym!! Go out and let fresh oxygen in. It charges the billion cells of your body and you feel great.

4. Appreciate the good things of life. Have an Attitude of Gratitude. Be in the present. Look around and be thankful for the wonderful gift of life. Enjoy the present.

If you are depressed, YOU are living in the past, If you are anxious, YOU are living in the future. If you are at PEACE, you are living in the Present.

5. Be a Child and remember as a child you kept learning each day. Keep learning each day. Learning keeps you curious and engaged.

6. Attitude of  Positivity. There can only be good – just because you cannot see it now, doesn’t mean it’ll not happen. Good things are in store. Have patience and keep working. Do your duty with a pure intent, without looking to the rewards. It sounds tough, but its easy. Just do it!!

7. Accept the consequences of your action. Things will happen – but all in good time. So just have patience and continue to enjoy what you are doing.

But then these seven steps will make my mind positive but what about my office. The work environment, the crabby boss, the *** colleague and so forth.

Foremost, be clear as to what you want to do. The moment, you realize you are doing things which are ‘giving back’, you start enjoying the work. Some people call it passion. Just that, when you are doing it, you don’t look at your watch (or even your fb/whatsapp), and you kinda enjoy what you are doing.

Get to do those things. To find your purpose, therefore, ask yourself, “What is my Statement?” How will people describe you in one sentence?

He single-handedly, fought for the freedom of his nation non-violently and successfully ousted a 200 year old regime, to gain Independence for his Country.

What is YOUr Statement?