“Clearly, the thing that’s transforming is not the technology — the technology is transforming you.” Jeanne W. Ross, MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research
Moolya Foundation is a non-profit organisation that aims to transform public affairs through digital leadership. The mission of Moolya Foundation is to expand the conversation surrounding public affairs and empower every citizen in the digital age.
Moolya Summer School 2021`— 6 weeks internship cum training program — aims to engage with budding policy enthusiasts and familiarise them with the principles of policy research and practical approaches to policymaking and analysis.
I was recently invited to deliver an online address on ‘Reimagining Leadership in the Digital era.’.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines ‘Reimagining as ‘to form a new conception of, to recreate. What is Leadership? A great definition is ‘visualization of and moving towards a future that was not going to happen otherwise.
In the digital era, our world is increasingly granular- more number of players are entering every day & increasingly interdependent- more unknowable connections between them. Information availability & sharing is 24 X 7 binding us all together and creating a global awakening of expectations.
‘ Deb returned to Calcutta, but to greater worldly burdens. One day, as he sat with his friend, he confided, “Having lost my father, I sought solitude. What I have got instead are never-ending duties and worldly commitments. There is a struggle going on inside me and I do not know who would win- the World or the Spirit.”
That night, Deb saw his departed mother in his dream, “Hast thou really become the One who knows Brahma? If so, sanctified is thine family, fulfilled is thine mother’s desire.”
Deb woke up to find all his worries gone and his mind feeling like a feather.
When Carr, Tagore and Company finally declared bankruptcy and with it the closure of all the businesses, Deb said to Sarada, “All our businesses and property have gone out of my hands. What I had prayed for has been granted and realised. As the moon gets freed from Rahu, so has my soul become free from the worries of the world and now feels the heaven of Brahman.”
Thus it was that the son of Prince Dwarkanath became Rishi Debendranath. The pearl necklace and the curse that accompanied it had come a full circle. It had journeyed from adorning Lord Krishna in Chandernagore to driving the scion of a business empire based in Kolkata to renounce everything and embrace spirituality.’
The above is an excerpt from the story ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’ from the book of the same name. The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with more than one hundred and seventy excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
As I write this the pandemic has been with Humanity for a little over one and a half years. If History’s signposts are anything to go by, the pandemic would remain with us for another one to one and a half years. In between the viral waves ( third, fourth and so on) would wax and wane as surely as does the moon.
At this point in time, we are witnessing two discrete trends:
The world as a whole is seeing a week to week increase in infections of 11%. Clearly the pandemic is waxing now, with large swathes of countries in Europe, South America and Asia adding to the numbers.
Vaccination has picked up pace with most countries rapidly vaccinating their citizens. The developed countries in Europe and North America have largely vaccinated their population.
If we were to look at India, which just a couple of months back, had a world beating surge in excess of 400,000 new infections a day, the decline from those highs too was rapid. However, as we speak, the infection numbers seem to be flattening out at around 40,000 new cases a day. While this signifies a drop 0f 90% from peak levels, it is still a 400% above the bottom level witnessed at the end of the first pandemic wave last year end.
Thanks to News channels and social media, folks remain nervous about the virus variants. How the COVID 19 virus keeps on mutating, how the Delta ( and other yet to come!) variants are leading to new infection surges all over. There is also widespread concern about the efficacy of the available vaccines against the mutating variants. Folks remain stuck in this narrative and feel confused and disempowered about what they should do.
People ask, “Are we into a no-win situation where a solution to a problem is leading to a new problem arising?”
Europe may provide an answer. Let us look at what is happening in Europe excluding Russia.
Week on week, infections have gone up by 41% ! Currently, new infections over the last week stands at 449,826. This could be partly due to the crowds gathering for the Euro Cup matches!
Total deaths in the previous week has been a mere 1317. This, on a base of 449,826, is a mere 0.3% ! I repeat the deaths as a % of infections is a mere 0.3% !!
What this means is that in Europe the deaths related to COVID 19 is now so miniscule that it might actually be lower than that being caused by common influenza.
What this implies is that while vaccination may not be preventing infection, it is surely diminishing fatalities and that too almost totally.
So where do we go from here? What could we do to shift the overall context so that we could return back to ‘normal living’?
What we could do is this.
Shift our perspective and language from infections to fatalities. In the ultimate analysis, that is what matters (apart from hospitalization, which too gets diminished by vaccination)
Stand in the cause of supporting vaccination. Each one of us could play an enabling role in this by getting one or two folks in our circle vaccinated expeditiously. For example, we could assist our service providers and household helps by registering them for free vaccination on the Government portal.
What will you do today to support your own and your family’s movement towards normal life? Apart from of course circulating this post!
The book is dedicated to my father Late Debabrata Ghosal who gave wings to my imagination in my formative years.
I am conscious of the blessing that my eighty seven year old mother bestows on me daily which has enabled me to focus, ideate and pen what I have written.
I remain indebted to my wife Sanchita, without whose partnership and deep involvement, this book would not have come out in the present form. Not only has she been a sounding board for my creative thoughts, her suggestions relating to mid-course corrections in the plots have led to significant improvement of the final output that is in your hands today.
I am also beholden to my daughters Riya, Raka and my son-in-law Vibhu who provided the needed ‘readers point of view’ criticism of my writing at every stage. My daily interaction with my nearly two year old granddaughter Anaysha on WhatsApp video, has been a source of joy as I went about the onerous task of authorship.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves around the world with more than a hundred and sixty excellent ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.
Some months back, Sumant Chak of the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers ( Jamalpur cadre) , a transportation domain expert, was the winner of the Chronicler of the Hooghly contest.
As a winner he got a free copy of the book. After he completed reading, he sent me the following musings. I found it fascinating how some of the places and events in the book sparked off thoughts about his own experiences and perspectives. I am giving hereunder what he wrote.
I had been meaning to write to you for sometime as I finished reading your very readable stories.
I was particularly impressed by the first Ashtami and the last about the Chronicler. In Ashtami the characters were so well defined that they seemed to be people one knew. The details of the period were beautifully depicted and one felt so real like a play which was unfolding in front of one’s eyes on the stage of one’s imagination. It reflected the effort that must have gone into researching the times so as to bring it to life. Wonderful.
The piece de resistance was however the last story – The Chronicler of the Hooghly. It was the manner in which you were able to thread real life characters into the tale that showed the grip you have over your craft. It’s almost as if you were writing about the history of the region. Apart from that it struck a personal chord bringing back my own experiences of the river, the towns and also my time in Eastern Railway. In my first year at Jamalpur, I was asked by the GM’s wife to come to Calcutta and direct a play for the annual function of the Womens’ Association in Rabindra Bhawan. For some time I was bunking with a friend in Howrah Jute Mills almost just across the river from Fairlie Place and since I was seconded to the ER CME office for a month, I travelled daily to Fairlie via the ferry. Talking to people on it brought out a lot of tales regarding the various ghats and the ferry journey in the story was like reliving those days. I also used to travel by ferry whenever I came on work from Asansol to Fairlie Place when I was ADRM.
The other personal connection was mention of Chandernagore, a town I have never visited but read much about. I did my schooling till Inter in La Martiniere College, Lucknow, a school founded by Claude Martin with strong connections to the town. Claude Marting was a fascinating personality who started with the French India Company, switched sometime later to East India Company and finally befriended the Nawab of Oudh in Lucknow where he spent the rest of his life building some very important buildings including the La Martiniere College, a great piece of architecture. He apparently has some strong connection with Chandernagore to the extent that in his will he ordained that from the interest earned from his sizeable wealth, a certain amount would be given annually to pay the debts of the drunks of Chandernagore!!
Another connection was the necklace you mentioned. Apparently my paternal grandmother had a similar pearl necklace coveted by all with the hope that it would be given to one of them in her will.
It’s a wonderful book and I do hope you will pursue this interest as it is a gift not given to everybody. My best wishes are always with you and will look forward to more stories from your pen.
The book continues to make emotional waves around the world with more than a hundred and sixty excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Instagrammer Bookish witch88 has reviewed the Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories as under:
My ratings: 4.6/5 Consisting of 4 short stories (Ashtami, Pandemic, Fault Lines, and The Chronicler of Hooghly) that span across cross generations, this book is a thought-provoking, enlightening as well as knowledgeable read.
What I liked about the book: -> All the stories compare a time in India (especially Kolkata) from pre-independence vs now, making us ponder whether things have really changed. -> The most striking feature of the book is how the author has let his creativity rewrite history. -> The writing holds the capacity to make a reader fall in love with old Calcutta. -> The stories are thought-provoking and represent various human nature/emotions. -> The distinct messages from each story: a) In Ashtami, our aversion as humans to differently-abled individuals. b) In Pandemic, the comparison between 1920 pandemic and 2020 pandemic. Also, how the lockdown brought us closer to our families. c) In Fault Lines, the karmic endings of our actions over time. d) In The Chronicler of Hooghly, how certain actions have their impacts felt over generations.
What I did not like about the book: -> Certain bits in some stories did not make much sense, as to why they were part of the story. -> In The Chronicler of Hooghly, the to and from between the past and present was a little complex to follow at times.
Quotable quotes: -> Just like we do not change even when we replace our old garments with new, so does the soul remain unchanged as it discards its worn-out body and takes birth in a new one. -> Tragedies happen to good people to make them stronger. . More via link in bio. 🔗 👆🏻 . QOTD : Which is favourite pre-independence story /book?
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with more than one hundred and sixty excellent reviews and ratings on Amazon and Good Reads
I was in a meeting with my new Chairman. I was passionately elucidating my future plans for the business.
The Chairman looked at me, made a sign of smallness with his fingers and said, “Your businesses generate too small a revenue!”. The stress was on the smallness, the inconsequence of all that I and my businesses were doing.
Stumbling out of the meeting, I was in a daze. To be told by your boss that all your efforts and dreams, all that you stood for, did not matter in the larger scheme of things, was devastating.
As I look back at that crucible moment, I can see how it changed the trajectory of my life thereon.
For days afterward, I was pummeled down by negative thoughts and low self-esteem. I swung between anxiety, anger and bitterness.
The way it occurred to me, there were all these guys, less qualified and with less competence, who were being acknowledged because they seemed to be ‘at the right place at the right time.’
I felt small. I hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve what I had heard. From that one conversation, I seemed to have lost a significant part of myself, opening up hitherto un-noticed doors to self-doubt and self-flagellation.
But then a thought came to me, ‘Had I done enough right?’
I unburdened myself by speaking about the incident and my thoughts to my wife and a couple of trusted workplace colleagues. I felt less like an idiot when I shared what I learned from screwing up. This helped me to move beyond the dark side of my self-doubt and low self-esteem.
The incident supported me to work on that crucible moment question, “Had I done enough right?” It taught me the practice of Self Reflection. It is this that opened up for me new possibilities and opportunities of growth.
In his Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller, ‘The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights’, author Doug Conant speaks of his own journey of self-reflection and discovery that revolutionized his leadership and transformed his career trajectory.
Doug condenses his remarkable leadership story into six practical steps.
Reach High – Envision
Dig Deep – Reflect
Lay the Groundwork – Study
Design – Plan
Build – Practice
Reinforce – Improve
In today’s world of uncertainty and disruption which can leave us stuck and overwhelmed, the above six steps have the potential to lift our leadership and performance to heights that would bring us career success, joy and fulfillment.
Yesterday, my daughters arranged for an all-Italian supper of pasta and Pizza with garlic bread for their Baba. As I was washing down all that great food with a glass of coke I felt so blessed.
In my younger days, we neither had the awareness nor the luxury of such DAYS to acknowledge our loved ones. The only days I recall celebrating were Birthdays and the occasional special anniversary (the tenth, the twenty fifth etc.). Those were simpler times……
Times change. The bond, the love, that heavenly security in one’s father’s arms remain. This is how the feelings, the thoughts, the conviction to take one’s rightful place on the world stage flow down from one generation to the next.
My father Late Debabrata Ghosal gave wings to my creative imagination since childhood. He inculcated the ‘can do’ mindset in me. Decades after he has left my side, I continue to sense his guiding compass when confronted by life’s situations.
Though I too held my daughters in the same manner that Bapi held me decades earlier, have I been able to pass on the right values and mindset onto them? I suppose only time will remain a witness to that ……
Spanning a century between the pandemics of 1919 and 2020, Dipen and Indranil are confronted by tragedies under vastly different societal conditioning and development. What is their link spanning four generations which arises from an old and dilapidated palace and its massive Shiva linga?
Santosh Jami from Bengaluru writes……
” Amazing book, very easy read.
Honestly I am not much into books lately but when I read the preface and the first few pages, I could not put it down, especially the parts where historical facts were interwoven into stories is real magic. The narration of battle of Plassey, events surrounding fall of Bengal when mixed with the characters in the stories – all of them came alive.And the mix of history with contemporary events is beautiful.
The open ending where the Chronicler slowly fades away is really thought provoking and leaves the reader with self reflection and space for introspection in a very subtle way.
Overall, an excellent read.“
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with around one hundred and fifty excellent reviews and ratings on Amazon and Good Reads. Available on Amazon, Flipkart and leading bookstores.