Monday, August 27, 2007

Response to "Gideon's Tongue"

In response to my post titled "Gideon's Tongue", Simon Morgan from South Africa writes:


I recently stumbled across the story of Gideon's 300 and couldn’t stop pondering on the image of lapping water like a dog. So I started doing some research and also found your blog entry.

Very interesting are the writings of Epictetus in his Manual on Stoic philosophy. Here the Greek thinker (ca. 55–ca. 135) writes:

“When you are adapted frugally according to the body,
do not embellish on this at all,
do not, if you drink water,
on every occasion say that you drink water.
and if you ever intend to train for endurance,
do it for yourself and not for the ones outside;
do not embrace statues;
but when very thirsty draw in cold water
and spit it out and say nothing.”

It is interesting that he associates the character of a person with a matter such as drinking water. Hence another possible interpretation of the Gideon story is that the 300 were indeed the most courageous men of the army as they were not primarily driven by their biological needs. After all it is extremely difficult lapping water from your hands.

God Bless


Very interesting, Simon, I would certainly not have thought of that on my own - though I don't understand Epictetus' line about "embracing statues".

I wonder if similar thinking about training and discipline has occured in other countries or historical periods? Of course, part of the reason why soldiers train as hard as they do, is so that they can learn to more or less ignore the impulses being provided by the body, and operate relatively independent of their body's demands. But that is a general matter. I'm wondering about training in relation to water and thirst.

I recollect that, on the cross, Jesus tasted the vinegar that was offered to him but would not drink it.... I have always wondered why he did not do so. The usual explanation that I have obtained is that Jesus did not want to take the help of a "drug". Well, that could be true. But your post above makes me see Jesus' action too in a new light. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 24, 2007

Is there really a talent shortage?

In the latest issue (24 August 2007) of the Executive News Service produced by Egon Zehnder International, the top story reads: Leadership: how to build an executive brand

The second story is: Talent management: generation gap forces firms to develop leadership skills at all levels

While, I am naturally happy about development and training programmes, the story does demonstrate the myopic view of most exectives in most firms.

My view is that there is plenty of talent around - and the main problem is that recruitment policies are solidly biased against experienced people in their Fifties, let along people in their Sixties, Seventies and Eighties (many of whom are perfectly able and willing to work).

Rather strange, really, considering that there are, among customers - at least in the developed world - fewer younger people and more older people! Sphere: Related Content

Doing Business with India

The first edition of this book completely passed me by!

The second edition has overviews of "India at a Glance", as well as on its politics and economics, before it explores issues relating to labour, skills and training; real estate; Special Economic Zones; Analyzing the Indian market; Distribution; the vexed question of Partner Selection; Finance, Tax, Accounting, Law, and Business Culture. The book also has sector reports on pharma and energy - though disappointingly not on infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, the massive entertainment and knowledge industries and so on. But rather than complain about that, I am glad that we have reports on at least two important sectors - because it is so difficult to get facts and figures in India (as in all developing countries!).

Published by Global Market Briefings and warmly recommended. Though expensive at £99, it is available for a discounted price of £65 from

I should make it clear that *I* do not get any commission from sales of the book or any of the other activities of Winning Communications. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why does the Government of India DISCOURAGE philanthropy by Non-Resident Indians?

Here is an interesting fact:

a particular non-resident Indian (NRI) who I know has published a book abroad as well as in India. From the royalties of his book in other countries, the NRI wishes to benefit, so let us keep that in a separate box.

From the earnings of his book in India, he was minded to give it all to an NGO. Imagine his surprise on discovering that if donations are given to a properly registered charity (that is under section 80G of the Income-tax Act), only 50% of the amount donated can be deducted from the income for tax purposes. However, the maximum amount of donation that will qualify for deduction is limited to 10% of the total income.

In other words, if his book earns Rs. 100,000 and he donates all of that to Indian charities, he is still liable to pay tax on Rs. 90,000!

On the other hand, if he takes ALL of his money out of India and uses it for his own benefit, then the Government gets only 5% of the Rs. 100,000 as tax (or whatever remains of that amount after suitable expenses are deducted, because of the double-taxation treaty.

This is an incentive, not only to avoid giving to charity in India, but even to take the money entirely out of the country!

What kind of lunacy is this! Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 17, 2007

The RSS and Bajrang Dal have now attacked a medical doctor

In what is a spreading incidence of violence across the country, the RSS's hoodlums have now physically attacked Dr Raju, the Chief Surgeon of a Hospital in Kachhwa, Uttar Pradesh, Central India.

Up till now, as far as I know, the RSS confined its attacks to harmless preachers, nuns and other such people.

There is one case where a "real worker", a school principal, was beaten up in Madhya Pradesh.

Now, as far as I know, for the first time, a medical doctor has been beaten up (earlier today, according to a news flash).

Warmest congratulations to the RSS and the Bajrang Dal: perhaps they will now be encouraged to also start beating up normal farmers, shopkeepers, office workers, drivers, lab technicians, IT workers, heads of businesses, advertisers, ordinary housewives, and so on.

And, eventually, when it finally dawns on the exceedingly acute intelligence of the RSS and Bajrang Dal, that its terror tactics do not work on any and all of these, the RSS and Bajrang Dal will then no doubt rise to the ultimate masochistic height of beating each other too. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Any Indian writings on technology? Or any writer on the history of technology in India?

I am working on collection of writings on technology and the good life.

However, I am finding it difficult to find any significant reflections by Indians on the origins, nature or effects of technology.

Equally difficult is finding anything significant on the history of technology in India.

Any suggestions? For those readers who know me personally, directly to me, please. Others can respond via my Blogsite of course. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Baggage problems when flying?

Insurance claims for lost baggage almost doubled in the first half of this year, according to figures published today. The UK travel insurance company InsureandGo apparentlyreceived 2,094 claims between January and June, 85 per cent up on the number for the first six months of last year.

This is despite the number of passengers increasing only 1.4 per cent.

Well, that raises some questions, doesn't it. Why would a 1.4% rise in traffic trigger an 85% rise in the number of lost bags.

Could it have something to do with systematic underinvestment in baggage handling systems over several years? Sphere: Related Content

Facebook's technical problems

I see that Facebook, the social networking website, is scheduled to announce that it has broken into the UK’s top 20 most popular online destinations for the first time this week.

In the wake of its popularity, I have for some weeks now, been getting an invitation or two each day to accept them as my Contacts on Facebook.

Regretfully, due to a problem on the site that I reported some time ago, I can't actually accept any of these folk as Contacts, no matter how often I click the "Confirm" button.

So, till Facebook sorts out this problem, it will remain pretty unpopular with me! Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 13, 2007

At the Wolfsberg Think Tank on "Leadership and Ethics" which I organised a few weeks ago, Dr Kim Tan, the Founder & Chairman of the British company, SpringHill Management Ltd., provided an inspiring presentation on the subject, "The Role of Ethical Business Leaders in Reducing Poverty".

What made the presentation inspiring was not all the theoretical points made, but rather the moving story of how he became involved in job creation combined with nature conservation on a mass scale (Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest national park in South Africa). The slides of his presentation are at:

Kuzuko Lodge is set to open soon. What a wonderful place to which to retreat for a luxury holiday - and in a malaria-free region! Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, August 11, 2007

One of history's worst mass murderers is still the most honoured man in China

People become like their gods, goes an old Greek saying. We might modernise it as: "People become at least a little like their heroes".

So why is a man who was directly responsible for the deaths of some 70 million people, still the most honoured man in China?

I mean Mao, of course.

Probably the most exhaustive possible book on the man is titled Mao: the Unknown Story (just published by Vintage Books). Authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have, between them, produced nearly a thousand pages, based on ten years of research, including interviews with close associates of Mao as well as a massive number of other people who interacted at various levels and in various ways with him and his regime.

So we are not going to get a more authoritative look at the man in the near future anyway, and possibly not ever.

The book, like the man, is hard to engage with, and yet impossible to put down. You have unending documentation of his determination to grab and keep power, of the corruption that resulted, of Mao's unfeeling cruelties, and of his enormous ego. It is impossible to escape the conclusion that more than 70 million people were "eliminated" directly because of Mao's rule.

How could Indian Prime Minister Nehru and those around him have possibly got this man so totally wrong as to have considered him a "brother" of India? Days after being garlanded and feted in India, Mao ordered the attack on India which resulted in carnage of the Sino-Indian war (a huge amount of Indian territory is to this day held by China - and the current power-brokers in Inda are content to let all that slide in the interests of making money today). But those are sore matters. Let's not go there (as Americans say). Or not any further.

The point is that this power-crazed beast is, in spite of China's much-vaunted opening to the world, still the most honoured man in the country, with photographs everywhere and ritual homage still being done to his memory.

How can China ever expect to join the community of civilised nations as long as this man is not denounced by its elite? How can ordinary Chinese hope to have any chance of genuine freedom and dignity as long as this man is virtually deified in their country? Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The scandal of the commercial takeover of our intellectual life: the case of academic publishing

Is our intellectual life really being taken over slowly by commercial interests? I am met with incredulity when I make such a statement - at a party, for instance.

But consider the following incidents:

1. I am sitting at my computer looking for a particular quote to which I want to refer in an article that I am writing. On Googling it, I find it pretty quickly. However, I want to check the exact wording since it is some years since I read the particular piece, and my memory is not perfect :-)

So I attempt to access the piece via the hyperlink. It takes me to the site belonging to the publisher which demands a fee of $32.11 to give me access to it. That is quite a sum of money, for which I could easily buy a whole book, or even two. Exactly how many pages of material am I going to be able to buy for $32.11? In my case, ten pages - of which the particular piece in which I am interested runs for two pages (it happens to be a book review). In this case, I am not even given the option of being able to buy the two pages - I have to buy the whole book review section. As the material seems to be available from several sites, all of which lead to the publisher's page, I can only deduce that the publisher has deals with all these websites, so that the spoils are divided between the website that leads to the publisher's page and the actual publisher. Does the publisher really need to have such deals with these various websites? Is it not enough for the material to be listed on the publisher's website alone? Then, perhaps without the commission to the other websites, the material might be available to readers at a more reasonable price?

2. Here is a more egregious example. A friend who is an full professor at Oxford (let's call him Dr L) wrote an article a year or two ago and, perhaps because of the force of old established habit over the years, and certainly without any particular process of thought about it, signed away his copyright in the article to the journal publisher concerned - as one is increasingly required to do before articles and book reviews can be published. Another person (let's call him Dr S), a mutual friend, with whom I was breakfasting this morning, tells me that he wanted to translate Dr L's article into German so that it could be published in a collection of essays that he is editing for publication in Germany by a small academic publisher who will certainly not require the copyright but only the permission to publish a German translation of the original piece. Both Dr L and Dr S anticipated no problem from the Journal publisher, and permission was duly requested by Dr L in the usual formal way. But the permission has officially been denied by the publisher who (of course, now that it owns the copyright) does not need to give any grounds for denying permission.

Till a few years ago, it was customary for publishers to ask for only "first publication rights". Then this switched to the grant of copyright, though it was either written down or understood that this was merely a convenience for the publisher, and that no reasonable request for republication of the essay or article (for example in a book) would be withheld.

The whole situation has now changed, and publishers don't just want to make a reasonable profit on actually publishing articles, they want to extract the maximum profit from having acquired the intellectual property.

What rankles is that Dr L was not paid anything by the journal publisher for the original article and that the German translation and publication would be on a non-profit basis!

Conclusion: The sooner professors and others in academia stop collaborating with such commercial exploitation of their intellectual property the better.

How could they do so?


Stop publishing in these print journals controlled by commercial interests, and set up peer-reviewed journals on the internet with full and free public acess. After all the salaries of our university academics are paid by citizens!

Alternatively, professors and other intellectuals should ask for royalties for the sale of their articles, in the same way as book publisher offer royalties on the sale of books.

After all, the intellectual property is created by the professor or intellectual. Those who risk their capital in publishing academic journals certainly deserve to make a reasonable profit. But why should the professor or intellectual get nothing if the ordinary member of the public has to pay to get hold of the intellectual property produced by the professor or intellectual? Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mr Deichmann, the world shoe merchant

I had not heard of Deichmann when I started working in Switzerland, but soon there was no escaping his name. Specially as the Deichmann shoe empire grew and grew, and as his philanthropic activities grew in India, and then in Africa and Israel, and so on.

As a result, I came to admire the man greatly, even though I have never met him. Apparently, there was a biography of Deichmann published last year in German, but I was unaware of it, because I read German only when I have to, and certainly do not keep up with publishing in Germany.

The above is one set of facts which you need to know. Now put those aside, while we turn our attention to another set of facts which you need to know, before I bring everything together towards the end of this short posting.

Andreas Malessa is a radio and TV journalist and author. He came to our home to interview my twins, Suresh and Jyoti, about their novel Conspiracy of Calaspia, and their forthcoming new novel. Regretfully, I was not able to be there for the occasion. So Mr Malessa kindly left a "small present" for me. It turned out to be the English translation of Deichmann's biography, written by Hanna Schott and Andreas Malessa!

This was the first time that I became aware even of the German book, let alone the English one.

So now we come to synthesis of the two sets of facts above: I have finished reading the book very quickly. It is (somewhat unattractively for the English reader) titled Why are you rich, Mr Deichmann? and published by R. Brockhaus Verlag, Wuppertal, Germany.

The translation is perfectly comprehensible, but there are what may be called various "Germanisms" in the text, which give it a curious flavour. The book(all too briefly) covers the family's antecedents, Heinz-Horst Deichmann's experiences during the Second World War, how a medical doctor came to be one of the world's top shoe businessman, and his philanthropic and business activities. There is a brief section on the children, now that Heinz-Horst Deichmann's son Heinrich Deichmann has taken over the running of the business. And finally there is tribute by the old family friend Johannes Rau, then President of Germany, to Mr Heinz-Horst Deichmann.

The story is told very simply, almost sparsely. A few sentences cover the millions invested in philanthropy and, equally important, the months of time every year. The acquisition of imporant companies is covered in a sentence, sometimes less. So this is a rather understated story, whose full magnitude hits you only on reflection. A powerful story of an extremely rich man who enjoys life but lives modestly so that he can help humanity. Sphere: Related Content

The "N" Factor

The "N" stands for "networking" which of course existed long before the word came into existence - as is always the case. Even in the world of ideas and concepts, the idea or concept always pre-exists the creation of the word to describe it (at least in the world of ideas and concepts).

Well, there are probably thousands of books on networking, but I must confess that I have never read any of them, thinking them a waste of time, as I grew up in India where the art of networking has been taken, if not to its highest level, then to something pretty close to it.

However, since a couple of my friends, Adrie Reinders and Marion Freijsen, have not only written a book but even presented it to me, I had little option but to at least browse through it.

I must say that, as soon as one seeks to do so, this little book draws you into it. Not only is it "unputdownable", it is full of practical tips that any novice will do well to have in her/ his bag.

The best thing about the book is that it distinguishes between genuine networking, which consists of establishing a relationship, and what might be called merely increasing the number of visiting cards in your Rolodex or the number of addresses in your Excel.

However, even relationships (or networks) need to be managed! Reinders and Freijsen have created very helpful charts and tables. A systematic approach to networking is different from a merely intuitive approach to it - not that intuition is at all bad guide to relationships and to networking, but intuittion does need to be supplemented with systems.

They look at the role of events in enhancing networks, at sports and other interests. They examine the question of whether networks are transferrable (or can be passed on from one to another). They present various considerations in relation to charities, to e-networking tools, social networking tools, collaboration tools, networking in politics, the impact of culture on networking, et. al..

Higly recommended.

Adrie Reinders and Marion Freijsen, The N Factor, WBusinessBooks, California, USA, hardback, pp 148, $19.95

(see Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 03, 2007

A minor debate on family origins

On my website, under Family History, I assert that the family: "used to reside at 30 Beharipur, Bareilly. From that, we guess that the family originally comes from Bihar, which was once much richer than what became known as the Upper Provinces under British rule (or Uttar Pradesh now)".

One of my relatives, visiting me recently, questions this. So, before anything else, I should amend the entry to read NOT "we guess" BUT "I guess".

Now the grounds for his questioning turns out to be "Beharipur" COULD also mean that the area of the town is dedicated to one of our gods.

My feeling is that there is some contemporary prejudice against Bihar on the part of my relative, as this is now one of the poorest and most lawless parts of the country!

However, to the grounds of his question: IF the area really was dedicated to this god, then there should certainly be a pretty old and massive temple in the middle of the area. As far as I know, though there is of course the usual plethora of temples in "our" area, there is NO "Behari Mandir" or equivalent.

I regard that as a pretty conclusive riposte - though, as always, I am open to fresh light on the subject. Sphere: Related Content

Bruce Katlin running a marathon to raise funds for Satya Niketan School in India

In one of my postings yesterday, I mentioned Bruce Katlin & his wife Terry Graziano, who are training to run a marathon to raise funds for Satya Niketan School.

Well, I have just received an email from him saying that it is the Portland Marathon that they will run on October 7. Here is the bulk of his message:

"My friends Rebecca and Chandra Kant Shourie have dedicated their lives, (their lives have been threatened just for teaching English to these children!) to providing the only English education at the school that they started, The Satya Niketan School (Home of Truth) to the poorest children who are considered the "lower caste". Some of these children can not afford the $4.95 monthly fee to attend classes.

"The conditions in the Nagod region are difficult and we are asking for your contributions so that the school can purchase a much needed generator to power the school's lights and sole computer. We need to raise $3000 by October 7th. Please contribute whatever you can afford via ITAG:

To learn more about the Shouries, the school and what Terry and I are doing to raise money through our marathon, please visit our website at:

Thank you in advance for your help.

Best Regards,

Bruce Katlin
Katlin Consulting
+ 1 646 265 5009 Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 02, 2007

So the mini-subs are real

Readers with long memories may recollect stories of Russian mini-subs being sighted in the Norwegian fjords, and even tearing through fishermen's nets when (accidentally) snagged in them.

Ever since the 90s, I have asked various people whatever happened to the mini-subs since they have stayed out the news. But no one seemed to know.

Now, however, we do know. The mini-subs are not the figment of the Norwegian imagination. Nor are the mini-subs merely rusting somewhere. See the story "Russian subs dive to the Arctic Ocean Floor" (they mean mini-subs):,1518,497774,00.html Sphere: Related Content

Indian resources on philanthropy

I am trying to put together a collection of readings from Indian traditions or sources on the subject of philanthropy.

Any suggestions are welcome - whether from ancient books and writers, or from more modern secular, Muslim, Indian Christian, Sikh, Jain, Indian Buddhist and other sources, agnostic, humanist, and so on.

You can send suggestions either to my e-mail directly (if you have it) or simply respond to this Blog in the usual way.

Many thanks! Sphere: Related Content

Education in India and the work of Chandra Kant and Rebecca Shourie

Readers who know me personally will be aware of my admiration for the work of Chandra Kant Shourie and his wife Rebecca, who founded Satya Niketan School in Nagod, Madhya Pradesh, Central India over 20 years ago).

Bruce Katlin, of Katlin Consulting in New York, is training to run a marathon to raise money for the school, and it will be wonderful if readers feel able to support his effort. As he points out, the school needs the equivalent of $3000 in order to buy a new electricity generator as their rather aged one is fading, and they need electricity in this extreme hot weather. The school started in the living room of the Shouries and has now expanded to 400 children. You can support a child's education there for about $5 a month!

Here is a brief and understated history of the school and of what it has achieved:

History of Satya Niketan
(Satya Niketan means the Home of Truth)

The year 2006 was the 21st year of Satya Niketan High School. What began as a small kinder garden class of 20 children, sitting on the floor on mats, and around an old dining table, in the our living room, (Rebecca and Chandra Kant Shourie) with both of us joyfully pouring out our love upon the children; has today grown to a full fledged High School, with 400 students. It is the only high school in the area providing quality education to the children of the Nagod District. The education is in English Medium so that the children get a chance to go forward in the world, equipped to address the challenges of higher education in the different fields which are opening up in our developing country.

Some of the satisfying fruits of our labours have been working with children from very poor homes, for whom it would never have been possible. Satya Niketan has graduated students who are working as Engineers, IT professionals, doctors and in many other fields, earning enough to lift their families out of the vicious cycle of poverty! Equally important, Satya Niketan has become an interface, a point of dialogue with the established society, in terms of challenging long held superstitions and beliefs which have been detrimental to the development of our society and nation. A point of challenge and change, as any educational institution, by its very definition ought to be.

To understand and appreciate the journey of Satya Niketan, it would be helpful and beneficial to understand the reasons and motivations that brought a couple like us to a backward and remote place like Nagod, and be motivated enough to give the best 25 years of our lives to the building of this school. Rebecca Shourie holds a MA (Hons) in English Literature, Delhi University, and BSc Nursing, Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur College of Nursing, Delhi, and Chandra Kant Shourie – holds a BE (Hons) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science.

A deep spiritual experience led us to commit our lives to serving our country. We are highly qualified and have had a number of top order career options lined up before us but instead of pursuing personal careers, we have opted to dedicate our lives to serve others. We feel strongly that the doctor is needed where there are sick people. So, we embarked upon a path which led us to the poorest and undeveloped parts of our country. As we cast ourselves upon this path, a series of events led us to the place called Nagod in the District of Satna, in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Nagod, is a small town, with a population of about 25,000 to 30,000 and serves as the centre – (administrative, market, social and political) for about 600 villages which surround it, each with an average population of about 1,500 to 2,000 people. Nagod has an old fort, which is still inhabited by the royalty of Nagod State (a small kingdom established in the thirteenth century, by Parihar Rajputs ), with the royalty of Nagod still enjoying power in free India. The oldest living Prince of Nagod is currently the Home Minister of State in the present Bharatiya Janata Party Government of Madhya Pradesh.

During the rule of the Parihars, the society was organized according to the Feudal lines - Landlords being given a number of villages as their fiefdoms, in return for their loyalty and allegiance to the king. Independence here has not made much of a difference in the daily routine of life – the difference it has made has been that now these Kings and Landlords have to fight elections (or rather put up credible facades of elections ) in order to maintain their fiefdoms and their influence over their constituencies instead of being born into privilege. This feudal system which is present in a unique form is in the northern part of India, and it is incorporated into the all pervasive caste system, which is still maintained in all its former glory and rigidity in these parts.

Our advent into this land exposed us to this society in a very dramatic way. Among other things, one of the things that we felt very deeply about was the lack of education in this area. There was hardly any education worth its name. In the early 1980’s if you happened to take a walk around the town, or around the villages, you would come across groups of young children between the ages of 8 to 15 sitting around, playing cards and gambling. Often these sessions would erupt into violence. We personally witnessed many such incidents.

We also found that the whole education scene was negatively commercialized leading to a complete breakdown of the system in this land. There are centres of examination where for a certain amount of money mass copying is organized. In the government schools, (which make up the majority of the schools) there is no teaching and during the exams, children are allowed to copy. This continues up-to the college level. As a result you have students with a first class Masters degree in English Literature and they cannot write a single sentence in proper English!

Along with these factors and the need expressed by some of the prominent people in the locality made us seriously think of using our education to promote a higher level of quality education amongst the children of this area. So, in 1985 we got a small group of children between the ages of 3 and 6 – around 20 of them, and started a small class in our living room. We had no money, no resources, we started with just - (can you believe it?) just 10 paise and a torn Rs.2 note in our pocket!

We had very good response from our first batch of students. Unfortunately this caused resentments in another quarter. The only other educational institution of some repute, which was being run in this town was Saraswati Shishu Mandir – an RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) a fundamentalist Hindu organization. They began to feel threatened and launched a defamatory campaign against us seeking to undermine the confidence of the people in our efforts. The two prominent accusations they used against us were one; that these people have no roots here, they can go away anytime, and then what will your children do? The other of course, was the communal card: that these people are Christians and they will make your children into Christians and spoil your religion.

This propaganda continued unabated for 10 – 12 years! The result was that in the higher classes we had very few students. However, we had made a commitment to the students who had come and their parents had put their trust in us. And, we made a commitment that even if we had only one student in our class we would still keep our part of the commitment. And we were put to the test. One year there was only one student in our tenth class!

Another cause of major opposition came from the high Caste people, especially the Brahmins (the priests) and the Ruling class and the Merchants. Their major problem was that we did not distinguish between the students on the basis of their castes. In fact, we encouraged the children from the poorer sections of society (in 95% of the cases poor meant lower Castes or untouchables), to get the benefit of education. We felt that was one thing which would enable them to break through the vicious cycle of poverty and its effects. This became a major factor with some of the high Caste people strenuously objecting to the fact their children were being forced to associate with people of low birth and that was having a detrimental effect on the upbringing of the child. Some of them went to the extent of taking their children away from our school for this very reason.

Finances have been and continue to be a very big challenge. The area here is very poor and the people do not have high paying capabilities – especially the people who really need the benefit of education. So we have had to keep our fees very low, so that it is affordable. Today we are charging a fee of Rs. 200 per month, (approximately, $4.94) and for a large number of people they are unable able to pay. Today, 25% of the students are either studying on a concession or we are giving them free education. The weather here can also be a challenge. During the rainy season we have many floods and we lose power and that is why we need a new generator to power the school.

Apart from the above problems, the other major challenge was to get qualified teachers. This proved to be the biggest problem. However, in miraculous ways during our worst times, help came from unexpected quarters – at different times we had volunteers from New Zealand, Australia, England, Holland and the United States, who came and stayed with us for periods ranging from 3 weeks to 2 years, and helped teaching in the school. Over the years the only sustainable solution that we managed to develop was to train some local people and teach them to teach. This was the only solution which would work long term. So, now we have a staff of about 20 people including the teachers, office staff and the staff running the vehicles.

Struggling with all these handicaps, 10 students from our first batch of students who started with us in 1985, appeared for their High School examination in the year 1905-06! That was a milestone. This year, our 12th batch of High School students will appear for their examination. It has been very encouraging that the students who have passed on from our school have done very well in their careers. Some have become engineers, some IT professionals, and some are working to become doctors! And a few have volunteered to come back and help us in the school for some time. That is very encouraging indeed.

So, over the years, as we have persevered. Today we today have the strength of 400 children studying from Kindergarten to class 10 - what we call High School. We still have shortage of space and staff, so the school runs in two shifts: morning shift for the Juniors and the afternoon shift for the Seniors.

We believe that we have made a significant impact in the local surrounding through the running of Satya Niketan High School and interacting with the children and their parents in this area. Over the past three years we have seen the school grow in terms of the number of children and the confidence, which the local people are now having in the school.

The two major arguments of the people committed to opposing us and wanting us to close down are: that we will leave and their children will be left in the lurch, and that we will convert their children to Christianity. Over the past 21 years both these accusations have fallen to the ground. We have not left in spite of great adversity and we have only tried to make the children better human beings.

We hope that we will be able to continue to serve the children of this land and the work that we have built up will be carried forward by the children who have caught the vision with which this work was begun.

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