I was looking at the recent Padma awards, and reading the award descriptions, and it was so inspiring! People have been awarded in multiple categories for their contributions in science, medicine, social work, industry, sports, entertainment etc. Every awardee has made a major impact in one of these areas.
Looking at the awardees who are themselves so diverse and have such varied contributions, I noticed that there is one thing which is common among all the awardees (this is true for atleast the recent #PeoplesPadma awards since last few years). And the common feature is that each one of them has worked to make things better for others in the society. And they have done it in their own unique way.
Also, it’s important to note that they didn’t do that hoping to get a Padma award one day, but because they actually wanted to bring a change in some aspect of society. I noticed that each one of them has two main qualities: 1. They are passionate about something and want to improve things in that context in the society and 2. They have faith in themselves. They believe that no matter what the circumstances are, they are capable and they can bring a change.
Most of us operate very differently in our daily lives as compared to the awardees and I guess that’s what makes them special. We take most decisions in our life, the with primary objective to make things better for ourselves or for our family. For example, choosing one job over another just because it pays more or taking up roles because it will look good on the CV or saving up to buy a bigger house or a better car. Most of us operate like that in the world.
On the other hand, there are a few who think differently. For example, they think on the lines like: how can I teach others, how can I do research find a cure of a disease, can I build a company which solves a particular problem faced by society, how can I do something for specific groups of people in society and so on. Their primary objective is to act such that they can best contribute to the society. And the best part is that in the process, they do well enough for themselves and their families (which is the primary aim for most of us). I think another added benefit is the immense satisfaction and peace they must be deriving through the process.
Each one of us is capable of working for a greater good. We don’t even need to drastically change our lifestyle. We just need to change our vision and objective. When making any decision, instead of thinking which act will be best for me, we need to flip it around and think which act will be beneficial for people around me. Instead of focusing on ME we should start focusing on WE (by the way WE includes ME!). And together we can make a much better society for everyone!
Also do read about Harekala Hajabba who sells oranges in Mangalore. From his earnings of Rs. 150 a day he built a primary school in his village! Or about Tulsi Gowda, who never received any formal education but she has planted thousands of trees and is famous as the Encyclopedia of Forest due to her vast knowledge of diverse species of plants & herbs. These stories are so inspiring and show that literally anyone can act for societal good. If we are not acting for the greater good of society, then that’s just an excuse, because truly each one of us is capable. Hope one day, most of us will act primarily for social good rather than our own interests. That day it will be all the more difficult to shortlist people for Padma awards.