APARAJITA– the undefeated one.

Wounds heal, words don’t. Sometimes, it takes more than a packet of air to be able to breathe. A heart break hurts more than a broken bone, it only takes one person to change one world. The Bengali word Aparajita means the one that cannot be defeated. I had a read a story where the writer said that usually, when parents name their newborn, God smiles an evil smile. The child spends the rest of his/her adult life trying to live up to their name and miserably failing at it. I met a girl aged about 18yrs. An average teen on the outside. A fierce warrior inside. She did not let God win, she lived up to her name.

Her name is Aparajita – the undefeated one. The internet is something humans made but humans fail to understand. Social media is the new data giant of homo sapiens, by homo sapiens, for homo sapiens. The 0s and 1s of the computer’s brain cannot do any physical harm, and yet cyber bullying is real, cybercrime is rampant and ignorance is evident. Parents always fear the unknown, for their child’s sake if not their own. That is why mothers cried so hard when their sons left to study or trade in far off lands. This is also why parents warn their kids about the cellular phone and the internet. They despise it but their love for their kids makes them install the devil at home. To top that, you have India’s patriarchy where women are at fault even if the sun fails to rise in time. Now, in a situation like this, imagine the situation of a girl who was a victim of cyber crime, was also an Indian daughter and thus an obvious defaulter, under the Indian judicial system and thus sure that justice would not be met with. You would expect her to accept defeat, right? But it’s persons like her who show us the light, set an example, tell us that if the purpose is true, one soul is enough to save the world.

“Facebook-The imperfect corner for improper stuffs.” – Aparajita.

Let’s MAKE & not just BAKE

There is a reason why the original Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is priceless, Mozart’s music is worshipped, Shakespeare is immortal. An idea can change the world if it is original enough. Because no one loves a baby more than a mother, nobody appreciates a painting more than the painter. Adoption, improvisation, innovation – they can only take you so far!

Communities are recognised and praised across the globe because of their strength and continuous efforts towards the cause of the open source. But before we proceed, let’s huddle up, sit, and introspect. We are good. But is being good enough? Can we be better? If yes, why haven’t we started already?

Clubs/Communities focus on hosting events and taking sessions with the help of the existing resources. The focus on curriculum building is minimal, thus attempts to address issues being faced by the attendees are often overlooked.

One of the biggest issues that the Mozilla Community in South Asian sub-continent face is the lack of curriculum designers. The clubs who have the personnel capable of designing viable curriculums lack the mindset to design their own curriculums.
I blame our work culture for that, but we are here to break the stereotype, I believe?

WHY?
We host and organise events based on the existing curriculum, the existing curriculum/teaching activities is sufficient in all spheres; but sometimes, in order to maximise impact and make the web, the existing curriculums need to be modified to suit the circumstances. Imagine teaching an English kid Sa Re Ga Ma Pa instead of do re mi fa so la ti do! No, as the language, culture, country changes, so does the mind set. We are the torch bearers of open source, we are responsible for the upholding of the web, so let us act like one!

Through Curriculum Design Workshops, we intend to focus on this issue. We need to change the way Mozilla Clubs / Mozilla Campus Clubs and above all communities in the entire South Asia perceive the entire philosophy of Curriculum Design, understand its importance and most importantly include it as an integral part in the functioning of their respective clubs.

With the help of Curriculum Design Workshops, we attempt to raise awareness towards the art of ‘Curriculum Building’ and ‘Understanding the Target Group’. We want the clubs to focus on quality and impact, every place has a different set of people, pertaining to different social backgrounds, facing different issues. So it is very important for the sessions facilitators to understand those issues and design a curriculum that will help people solve those issues (candid to the particular area). In this way, we believe the impact of a sessions/campaign can be maximised.

We are a country of 1.2 billion brilliant minds, let us use some to enlighten the rest.

IMPACT

“I am currently studying in Mumbai. If I save up some pocket money by the end of the month, I buy story books for the kids of an orphanage I visit every weekend. Story books were the best part of my childhood.”

“I do a part-time job after college. That pays enough for my maid’s daughter’s dance lessons. Mom doesn’t know.”

“Those calls I keep getting at night, my number is also a suicide helpline.”

Yes, you cannot change the world. That is a hyperbole. But you can change one person’s world. – Adwitiya Rahman (Brother you keep telling me this and you’re right.)

Let me tell you a story. A 20-year-old Swiss boy was on the verge of committing suicide one summer. He had two options – to die or elope. He eloped. He used his saved up pocket money to buy a ticket to India. Two weeks later, he landed up in a small village near Madurai. There, while he thought he could save the twenty children of a small orphanage, the children saved him. And he returned the favor.

He asked for help from everyone who he knew could help. He built a wall to give them a sound sleep at night, he worked to pay for their school fees, he moved to India to keep his promise – he was their anna.

Now, that was one man making a difference in twenty lives. Did he change the world? No. But he did manage to change their world.

Do not say you cannot make an impact because you are not rich enough, not smart enough, not free enough. Don’t say, “Oh, I want to teach kids but I got no space.” The world’s largest companies started in the garage in the backyard. Wait, don’t have a garage? Start teaching in the kitchen, on the road. The Government is messed up? The System does not facilitate change? Defy the system. And, finally, if your country really keeps you from doing what you think is the right thing to do, no one’s stopping you from leaving. Only you. All the rest are no excuses not to try. You alone cannot change the world, but you have to try.

I do not expect mom to change the world. But I do expect a brother to. The world belongs to us today. The Gen Y. The millennials. The earlier generations complain that we do not have an organizational attitude, we do not follow rules, we never learned how to work in teams, our generation has gone to the dogs.

I refuse to take the blame. Yes, we are violent and radical. Yes, we have an abusive tongue and poke holes around our body to hang silver rings. Yes, we do not stick around for too long, maybe because we refuse to settle for anything but the best.

We have the first generation of truly empowered women; we are the first generation to have fought for gay rights; we are the first generation who held candle lights nationwide as a raped girl died. We aren’t flawless, but we are the first generation that’s trying.

Do you know what’s the only thing that will break our momentum? Time. We are impatient and we never have time. The only way of creating a real impact in a short time is to hold each other’s’ hand and strive – for a better end to today, a better beginning for tomorrow. It’s not such a good time, the world is crying of doom. Let’s hold closer, tight. We will fight. And we will win. And we will win right.

I will repeat what I said. Changing the world is far-fetched, at least single handed. But together, we are stronger than we think we are. Together, we can make an impact – one that lasts. So, I pray. Try.

Let us change the world, one person at a time.

#MyStory

19 Years, 19 Experiences, 1 Person

01.Be an alchemist – don’t learn the art to make gold, learn it for knowledge and gold will follow your fingertips.

02.All five fingers of the hand are equally important – treat colleagues as brothers and you will never miss family.

03.Working hard is important – work smart is though, the only way to success.

04.Friends at work make better friends because they struggle with you through your hardest hours of the day.

05.Be a Roman when in Rome – but make sure the Romans do take notice of.

06.Trust yourself, that’s overconfidence – trust your effort, that’s experience.

07.Do things which is impactful -not for the sake of doing it.

08.It didn’t work out in the past because it will work out in the future.

09.Know your goals and run towards the post – the world is at your feet.

10.Prevention is better than cure, why go for disaster management when you can avoid the disaster?

11.Explode, scream, hit the wall, cry – don’t tell yourself no one cares.

12.You cannot save nature, you are nature. Love yourself, save the planet for the next generation.

13.Do not settle for the mediocre life, leave a mark. You owe this to yourself!

14.Only a good listener can become a good speaker.

15.Don’t beat around the bush, specificity is the key to a successful conversation.

16.Worrying never solved a situation – so let’s not stress the mind.

17.Life isn’t hard. The brain just needs a constant dose of self-motivation.

18.Discuss work. Not people.

19.Learn – Ideate – Deploy – Repeat.

 

Be a storyteller.

Let’s do a quick quiz!

  1. Do you remember the Schrödinger wave equation?
  2. Do you remember the name of the Disney princess with the longest hair in town?
  3. Do you remember the scientific name of the frog?
  4. Do you remember the story of the Princess and the Frog?

Yes, while we read of Rapunzel and the frog as kids in kindergarten, we don’t even remember stuff we studied only a couple of years ago, stuff that was essential for us to pass exams, get into big institutes and make our parents proud!

This, my friend, is the power of storytelling.

Unfortunate or not, this is exactly how our brain functions. We remember what we love or fear the most. Reason why the last breakup still brings tears to your eyes. Reason why mom always excelled at scaring you into eating that entire plate of rice as a kid!

Thus, I think we will all agree that stories are the best way of ingraining something into a human brain. I am no storyteller and do not plan on being one till the shackles of family life force me to tell some to my hypothetical kid! I mean business here.

My challenge is: how do we use storytelling to sell our business better?

Sounds quirky? Well, to be honest, it has been used by business tycoons across the globe for years now! Now, of course, you cannot expect to crack a deal by narrating the story of Hansel and Gretel to a room full of Directors only coz you are a good storyteller!

When you are selling your idea to some of the smartest people in business, things get a little tricky!

Let’s look at it this way: you have to sell a soap bar. You know its attributes and can sell it through rational advertising. But then, there are 5000 other soap bars on 500 other departmental stores in the same city! Why will a customer buy your bar and not anyone else’s? This is where you make up a story. How you make the story is up to you though!

It’s simple actually. As simple as a kid choosing a Tom & Jerry notebook over a brown boring cover notebook.

I will use the classic example of Dove here. When Dove came to India, it advertised itself as a moisturizing soap. And it worked, for some time. But then people got bored of that story. So, a new story had to be told. That is when Dove launched its Real Beauty Campaign. Dove told millions of women what women wanted to hear – they are the real Botox-free, make up free, imperfectly beautiful women.

And women bought that story. The Dove Real Beauty campaign is the most successful campaign at the moment.

I will repeat myself here, this is the power of storytelling. And now you know why!

Syntax vs Algorithm

An algorithm is a finite list of well-defined instructions for accomplishing some task that, given an initial state, will terminate in a defined end-state.

A syntax is how you would write or define this algorithm to be understood by a computer. Visual Basic has a different syntax to C or C++ but the algorithm answer will be the same.

Drawing an analogy from real life, developing algorithm is like make plot, idea, character for the novel….and developing syntax is to start writing the novel after the idea is ready.

Yeah, it was actually as simple as that! See, I am not here to give a lecture about coding or software. I never do. I just want to draw a parallel between the binary world of 0s and 1s and the human world of a head and four limbs.

 

Let us imagine the 5-year-old us when our guardian first taught us how to ride a bicycle. It wasn’t really riding a bicycle that they were teaching us. They were teaching us the art of balancing on wheels. This was our algorithm. With the help of these first rides on the bicycle, we were equipped to ride scooters and bikes when we came of age. The scooter and bikes rides can be seen as syntaxes, utilized and safely ridden on with the help of the knowledge of the algorithm which is balancing. Tomorrow, if a new kind of two wheeler comes in the market, riding it will be a new syntax, but the same algorithm.

 

This generation doesn’t really read a lot of books. My mother, being a school teacher, however, ingrained the love of books in me and I grew up a book worm. I remember reading “The other side of midnight” by Sidney Sheldon. Larry, an ex-World War II pilot and struggling commercial pilot is heard saying that the only reason he has been hired by the richest man on the land to fly his jets is because he doesn’t want a pilot who has experience in flying the newest plane in the hangar. Rather, he wants a pilot who can learn how to fly any plane with little practice. Here, we understand the importance of algorithm.

 

They say if you have learnt Bharatnatyam for a considerable number of years, you can pick up a contemporary routine in a matter of a few days. Here, Bharatnatyam and Contemporary dance styles are syntaxes. The algorithm is the discipline a dancer has in his/her lifestyle, the body balance one learns through years of practice, the sure-footedness of the dancer. These are basic necessities of every dance style and if you have conquered one, you can conquer the others.

 

I can get carried away by examples, sorry. Now, I hope it is clear to all of you what the difference between algorithm and syntax is – in both software and real life! Needless to say, an algorithm is more important syntax and if one wants to really master something in life, one must concentrate on the algorithm. This, however, is exactly what never happens in our society. Does it never eke you to think how generations of parents have been o-k-a-y with the idea of allowing their kids to “vomit” everything out on the answer sheets in their exams? Did one parent ever ask their kid, “Son, you understand the Physics of cricket better than World History? Go for cricket!” Why was vomiting out random dates in pen and paper more important than really being good at something that he kid understands the nuances of?

As a teen, I had mastered the guitar. Not boasting but I was actually pretty good at it! I mastered my basics on a Spanish one and then an electric was just a piece of cake. I understood the guitar and loved it. But only if that were enough! Getting hang of a syntax with the help of IIT graduate professors who would help me crack the JEE was obviously more important! Thus, even though I never understood why –OH and -HO made up different organic molecules, I had mugged enough to not be confused by the MCQ questions during my engineering entrances. But did that help me? Will I ever be able to teach my kids organic chemistry? Maybe not, and hopefully they will get to learn exactly what their heart and mind sang to in unison.

The industrial revolution started the downfall of human reasoning if you ask me! Early man was extremely curious the first time he discovered fire. Lack of knowledge made him pray to it as it were some God, but at least he gave fire a reason. When line production came into the picture in the 19thcentury, a worker in a factory fitting the screws in a bike engine never questioned why the screw went where the screw went. Thus, syntax was more important than an algorithm to earn bread for the family. This worker went back home and thrashed his son who asked where the sun hid at night. “Draw the sun,” he must have said, “you will get grades for drawing it, not writing about its absence!” This was the rise of the world of syntaxes. Algorithm had no place. A few that broke out of the reign of syntaxes got the Nobel prize, the Man Booker Prize, etc. but obviously after being called a freak a few million times!

I cannot change how the society functions. But I can request – the next time you learn something, make sure you can teach someone else the same thing.

Yes, S(He) Can.

In 2012, Sheryl Sandberg was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and I sat back in satisfaction, women had conquered technology. And yet I was wrong. It will take us just as much time to be accepted as astronauts leading space expeditions as it took us to accept the superiority of our bodies.

Yet, we are trying. I see women studying mechanical engineering though the helmets in factories were clearly meant for men and often slide off their heads. I see girls topping Computer Science exams year after year though boys claim to have a patriarchal monopoly on computers. Mother adopted the smartphone with more ease than a father.

The man reached the moon because a woman named Margaret Hamilton sat down and did the coding for the rocket. But men took away the recognition. That’s alright. We’ll get there.

Today, women are contributing at par with men in various communities across the world, towards technological advancement, internet accessibility and free knowledge. We have always been givers – givers of life, givers of delicious food and givers of unconditional love. It was only fair that we didn’t stop ourselves from contributing every bit of our knowledge towards the greater good.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-8-20-45-am

Shot during: #helloweb Curriculum Design Hackathon at KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, India.

 

Millennials have accepted more than any other generation in history. Millennial women are fighting more for their rights than any other generation in history. So, yes, we’ll get there.