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Prasanna Mishra

Certain beliefs give both life and living a new dimension. I am not discussing on beliefs that could have religion connect. These beliefs I am talking about are secular, a part of art of living. As a child a bruise while playing with friends pained less when friends sat around you and said comforting words. Empathy helps. It spreads a feel-good ambience and the small world around us looks cheerful. Having good wishes for not only your near and dear ones but for strangers, for living creatures around, and even inanimate objects one grows up with, like a hillock in front of our home, a building you pass by, a sapling being planted, adds a positive dimension to life and living. You cherish health and prosperity all around. Your thoughts for a mango tree you pass by every morning while walking, are for its wellbeing and bearing fruits in abundance, for being a perfect home to the cuckoos to sing and make the world around you cheerful and musical.

We are not born to live a life of isolation, withdrawal, keeping to ourselves and suspicious of others. We are not destined to be creatures of darkness. We are born to be in light, to radiate, to activate and refine our latent ability to flourish and benefit others. Such a mindset propels us to be on a continuous learning mode. There is no room for comparing us with others. It’s an open-ended journey toward excellence.

Learning the power of gratitude is an extremely enriching experience. It makes us humble; it improves our ability for healing that transcends our suffering and move us towards wholeness.
These qualities are embellishments that make us more humane, more productive and add purpose to our life. These are equally essential for public servants as well. With these qualities, they become more effective and highly motivated. They are more successful because they see the core purpose of the job at hand. The following example illustrates the pitfall of a mechanical attitude of a civil servant. It’s about a building housing a grassroots level public office.

The office building of the Bhubaneswar urban ICDS project located in the area I live finally got a functional compound wall with a good-looking gate, some days ago. Why it makes an event for me one would ask. Here is why it does.

I had worked as Director, Community Development & Panchayati Raj years ago, in the Seventies, when Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Programme was in infancy with only a few block-level projects on ground and a few in the pipeline. Urban ICDS project came much later. ICDS was a flagship programme of state intervention in the area of children and expectant and lactating mothers, their nutritional requirements and education of pre-school children. I had liked the programme immensely and that feeling survived decades of being away from it.

The Bhubaneswar office building may have come up at least some decades ago. It stood forlorn, without a compound wall. The office does have a storage godown where feeding materials are stocked. The public office is mostly visited by ladies connected with the programme. The office was on my morning walk route and every morning I was sensitive to its vulnerability and helpless existence. Things took a turn for the better when government buildings came up on three sides of this building. Walls on three sides were built by departments that owned the buildings. This was some years ago. Finally, the gap in front was built, perhaps, a month ago and a good gate adorned it a fortnight later.

This development for me was no less important than the completion of an important city flyover. Why the crucial infrastructure was missing for decades points to the need for greater sensitivity in our bureaucracy.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. The author can be reached at lonewalker.1942@gmail.com)

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