Nischala’s Blog-o-Review : Leo Babauta’s ZenHabits

Blog Name: Zen Habits
Run By: Leo Babauta
Blog Born On: 2007
This has been one of my personal favorite for several years now.. And Leo never ceases to amaze me with his blog and the way he conducts his life…

So the TOP 5 things that I really LIKE about his blog?
1) Amazing Compelling Insightful Content – All through the year! Truly admirable for any blogger!
2) He regularly updates his blog – At least once a week, many times twice or more
3) His writings are real – And usually based on his own life experiences. He cites real life examples and his own personal journey which adds a lot of weight to the points he makes
4) Easy to read and understand the message – Very well written. Simple, Clear and precise
5) The layout – I personally love the font size (Larger than most typical blogs) and the minimal usage of color (Just Black and White)
6) I like his copyright / uncopyright policy

Is there anything I wish he could do DIFFERENTLY?
Honestly, I had to think really hard.. After a lot of thinking this is what I came up with
1) Logical Categorization of the Archives – There’s lot of amazing content, but sometimes its so hard to wade through it to find what I’m looking for. A little grouping and categorization will definitely help. For e.g.: Writing, Exercise, Eating Healthy, Habit Formation, etc.
2) A place to comment – I know Leo has turned off comments on his blog for good reason (And as a blogger, I completely understand where he is coming from)… But sometimes I feel so strongly about something that he has written and would love to express it on his blog.. But am unable to do it! So then I do wish he let me comment..
3) I sometimes wish he’d have some pictures / visual representations on his blogs. Again, even I don’t use any visuals in my blogs, but sometimes just sometimes it’s nice to see some color

Other than that, a PERFECT BLOG.. One of the BEST I have seen in the blog-o-sphere
And I’d give it a 10 / 10, a Golden STAR and Thumbs Up!

What I learnt from Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous Series in 2012?

In 2012, I did a special series on my blog called Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous . When I conceptualized this Series, the idea was primarily to connect, learn and be inspired from the lives of others. So for the past year (2012), I have had the good fortune to connect with some amazing individuals from across the globe, get insights into their worlds, learn a little about their journey of life and of course, gain perspectives on diverse subjects. Not to mention that every one of them taught me several important lessons of life which I will remember for a long time. And then of course, some of them have become good friends today, and we have forged a special bond which hopefully will strengthen with time.

Today (In Dec 2012), I can’t help and look back at this journey, and the key lessons from this journey. Sharing it in a blog post as I think these have helped me grow in my journey as a person, as a writer and of course LIFE!

At the outset, I’d like to say Thank You to all the stars who I featured in this series – A BIG Thank You to Jessie Paul, Abhijit Bhaduri, Meeta Gangrade, Nupur Basu, Lisa Petrilli, Aishwarya Suresh, Danny Iny, Bruce Sallan, Angela Maiers, Preeti Shenoy, Dr Renuka, Prof. D.V.R. Seshadri, Dr Smitha Radhakrishnan, Sriram Srinivasan, Dr Bindu Hari and Ratan Jalan

Next I’d like to Thank all the readers of this blog – Thank you for taking the time to read, share and comment on my writings! You are the reason I publish on this blog!

LESSON 1 : From IDEA to EXECTION – Shorter the BETTER

When I came up with the idea to do this series on my blog, I personally was excited with the concept. But I also had several apprehensions and questions in my mind – Will I be get interesting people to feature on the blog? Will I be able to give it the time it requires? (Trust me! Every single interview takes significant time and effort, and time is premium for a mother with a full time corporate job!). Will I be able to keep the momentum right through the year? Will anyone read these posts? Will people like these?, etc. etc.

Had I pondered too long to get satisfactory answers to all these questions, the series would never have come alive. So here’s what I did – I just decided to plunge into execution! And the first thing was to publish this post of my blog stating that I would do a series called Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous. Then I went about identifying a list of 10 people whom I could feature on this blog (I knew them directly / indirectly). Next, I sent them a formal request asking if they’d be keen on this. Honestly, I did a math of a 30% response ratio (i.e., About 3 people will respond) and a 10% acceptance ration (i.e., 1 person out of 10 will agree to do this interview). I needed to start somewhere and hence publishing the first rendezvous was the key (Special Thanks to Jessie Paul for being my very FIRST STAR). Surprisingly, I got a response ratio of 90% (i.e, 9 people responded) and a 70% acceptance ratio (i.e., 7 people agreed to do the interview).  Wow! This was awesome!

So coming back to the lesson : When an idea strikes you , it is good to think before you execute it. And the sooner you start execution the better! Worst case, you will make some mistakes. Its better to learn from the mistakes than to not execute at all. Usually, thinking too much and for too long is a recipe for procrastination or not starting at all!

LESSON 2 : If you want, ASK

Along the year, I wanted to feature several interesting high-profile successful individuals / achievers from across the globe. So I created a list of people whom I’d like to feature in this series. Some of them where people I knew personally, but many of them I really did not know (And I guess they did not know me either). So I wondered if they would even read my mails if I sent them a request; and more importantly if they would be gracious enough to accept my request.

Surpringly, all I had to do was ASK. And most of them were happy to speak with me.

So coming back to the lesson : If you want something, ASK for it! Worst case, people will say NO! Accept it and Move On! (By the law of averages, there will always be some YES and some NO for everything in life). But if they say YES, you never know what exciting stuff will come your way!  

LESSON 3 : TRY something NEW every ONCE in a WHILE

Every once in a while it is so important to try and do something new. You learn, discover, comprehend, appreciate and internalize – about the world around you, about people and about yourself! So doing something which you’ve not done before (I’ve never done any interviews in my life before! The closest I’ve got is to reading them :). Something which shows you different flavors and perspectives of life and the world (Speaking with people from other worlds makes you acknowledge appreciate and comprehend similarities and differences in people, cultures, life, society, systems, outlooks, opinions) . Something which connects you to real people (I’m guilty myself of being a “digital / virtual being” for many years of my life). Something which pushes you out of your comfort zone (I’ve never really been comfortable talking to people I don’t really know, let alone talking meaningful things)…

So coming back to the lesson : Trying something new can be a transformational life experience. There is pleasure and pain in it, there is learning and unlearning in it, there is discovery and joy in it, there is surprise and fun in it.. So it is definitely worth a try – every once in a while

LESSON 4 : The WORLD is filled with many GENUINELY NICE PEOPLE

Yes!  This series makes me believe that the world is filled with very many GENUINELY NICE PEOPLE. People who care, people who are willing to share, people who love, people who inspire, people who lead by example, people who are trying to make a positive difference in the world – And personally that makes me happy, positive and hopeful about a better tomorrow, a better future, a better world in times to come (In spite of all the not so nice things I read, hear and see everyday)

So coming back to the lesson : The world is full of many GENUINELY NICE PEOPLE, who are doing their BIT and BEST in more than one way.. To make a positive difference and to leave a legacy which will make the world a better place

LESSON 5 : Every Life has many a story worth knowing, listening, telling and sharing

The last and most important lesson is that any one who is living today has a story worth knowing (Only if you’d ask the right questions), worth listening (When someone is sharing), worth telling (Only if someone asked you to speak about things dear to your heart or what you believe in or your personal stories of inspiration), and worth sharing (through blogs, books, words, etc.). And if you pay attention to observe, listen, think and understand the lives of those around you, and reflect quietly about your own life – there is a wealth of lessons you can learn every day of your life!

So coming back to the lesson : Take the time today to tell and share your own life story and to listen and know the stories of those around you! It does make a DIFFERENCE!

So those were my lessons…Did you enjoy the Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous Series?
Leave a comment to let me know what you liked the best.. Would like to hear from you…

Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous with PREETI SHENOY

Preeti Shenoy,  named among one of the top five authors in India by CNN-IBN, weaves magic with her words and pictures.  An extremely talented and versatile individual, her Twitter bio reads: “Best-selling Author, Artist specializing in pencil portraits, Poet, Yoga-Buff, Ex-basketball player, Blogger, Dobe-owner, Nature lover, Ted speaker and a Mother.
Her interests are as multifarious and diverse as her several academic degrees which include an internationally recognised qualification from UK in portraiture. DNA has described her as a ‘Keenly observant mind’ and Times of India describes her writing as ‘Excellent story telling skills’.  There is simplicity in her writing that appeals to the inherent good in all and her positivity and ‘Live life to the fullest’ philosophy finds a large number of takers, who follow her very popular blog.
Her second book ‘Life is what you make it’ was among the top selling books of 2011 in India and her third book ‘Tea for two and a piece of cake’ which was released in February 2012, continues to be on all the best-seller lists, having sold more than 25,000 copies within two months of its release.
Her pencil-portraits are life like which strike you with a realism that take you aback. She is also an avid card-maker and a poet.  She has written for publications like Times of India, Readers Digest and many more. She has worked with under-privileged children teaching them English and Math. She has worked with several schools conducting workshops on thinking skills and creative crafts.
She says  “Life is short. Follow your heart and chase your dreams. And yes, they will come true.”

And if you’ve read her earlier books, here’s some good news. Her fourth book titled “The Secret Wishlist” is due to for release shortly. You can pre-order this book by clicking here. Not only do you have a chance to get a personally signed copy of the book from Preeti, but also a 30% discount. You can also follow the FaceBook updates for the book here.

A couple of weeks back, during a random online browsing activity, I accidentally came across Preeti Shenoy’s book titled “Life is what you make it” – Something about the title compelled me to buy the book. I finished reading it in one night. Then I read her other 2 books “34 Bubblegums and Candies” and “Tea for Two and a Piece of Cake” all of which are National Bestsellers in India. After I finished reading all the three, I learnt that she also blogs, so naturally I visited her blogs. I liked her writings (both books and blogs) simply because they were simple, easy to read and written straight from the heart!

So I sent her a request for the Rendezvous and she immediately replied with a “YES”!

In this rendezvous, we discussed about Preeti’s journey into the world of writing and some nuggets about life which she strongly believes in.

Nischala: Hi Preeti. Firstly, Thanks for your time. It’s great to connect with you!
Preeti: Hi Nischala. Thanks for this

Nischala: So Preeti – Firstly, Congrats on the success as a writer. From what I read, all your books are national bestsellers and are doing very well!
Preeti: Yes! Thank You. They are all indeed doing well. Touch wood!

Nischala: So let me start this rendezvous with how your writing journey started?
Preeti: I have always been a writer. From childhood, I have written several short stories and poems – Many of which have won laurels and have been published in journals / magazines, etc.

But looking back, I think the big push for writing came only after I lost my father. In order to deal with this loss I started writing – Writing primarily for myself and more as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions. Writing kept me busy and almost was therapeutic to help me deal with a difficult and vulnerable phase in my life. So I started posting my writings on a blog anonymously and I was happy to see that my posts were very well received. The big boost came when a radio show in the US picked up a post of mine for the “Perfect Post” Award. The traffic and reader base increased significantly after that.

I then started writing more seriously and in more respected publications like Reader’s Digest, Chicken Soup Series, Times of India, etc. One of the main reasons that I took up writing seriously was because it kept me busy and helped me deal with the loss of my father. So I wrote about things which I believed in or which I was passionate about – like life, relationships, animals, bikes, dance, art, etc. I think there are more than 60 articles of mine published in various publications.

And at the same time I received a lot of comments and suggestions urging me to explore writing a book. And that’s how my first book “34 Bubblegums and Candies” was born.  It’s really a compilation of little stories from my life and some of these were already published on my blog.

Nischala: That’s an interesting journey. So looking back, what was your happiest and proudest moment as a writer?
Preeti : As a writer, my happiest moment was when my first book came out. Also when my second book was named among the ‘top books of 2011’. And honestly I write because I enjoy it; and so it has been a happy journey all along.

Nischala: Wow! Congrats. I guess there is something special about the “firsts” of anything in life – Especially your first book . I also see that you write regularly on your blog and also have been able to publish 3 books in the past few years. From my understanding, they are two different worlds. So, what is the key difference between a blog and book?
Preeti: That’s correct. I started blogging in 2006 and since then I try to blog regularly.
Blogs and Books are two different worlds simply because in a book you need to have a storyline, characters, a setting, dialogue, etc. And more importantly there has to be a central theme to your book. While in a blog, you can write about anything you want and publish it! And every blog post can be a separate theme.

Nischala: That’s interesting! So moving on, you have also given a TEDx Talk very recently. How did that happen? And what was the key message? How was the experience?
Preeti: I have given two Ted X talks –one at Symbiosis Institute for Technology and management Pune, where I spoke on creativity in daily life and another at Ted X Sona, where I spoke on ‘5 lessons for growth’.  Both talks were very well received. The experience was great.

Nischala: Preeti  -This is the first time I am talking to you. But in this brief interaction, you sound so positive about everything. So how do you manage to stay so positive?
Preeti: Hmm… Well that’s something which a lot of people say to me. See I think I am generally a happy and contented person in life and it manifests in my interactions with others. I believe that for everything in life you do the best you can in whatever situation you are in. And if things don’t work out the way you wanted, deal with it and move on.

Nischala: That’s a great attitude for life. So what do you think anyone can do on a daily basis to feel positive, happy and alive!
Preeti: Well, there are no universal answers. But here’s what I do and it helps me a great deal.

Do something you love everyday – It can be reading or art or listening to music or meeting friends or watching a TV program – Whatever it is, set some time every day to do what you love. You will be surprised at how much difference it can make in your life.

Laugh – Do something fun that makes you laugh – It can be that you read a joke or watch a cartoon or just fake a laugh. But laughing regularly definitely has a positive effect on your overall well-being

Nischala:  Thanks for sharing these practical tips. I am sure that if anyone did the above regularly, it will have a positive impact on their lives. So, as we conclude any message that you’d like to conclude with?
Preeti: Live life today, Follow your heart and Live everyday
There is joy in little things that you can do every day. Most of us rush from morning to night in doing a zillion things, and we don’t stop to appreciate the beauty and the magic of the world around us like smell the flowers, enjoy our meals, spend time with people we love and care for, etc.  At the end of the day, life should be about what makes you happy and contented. And if you figure this out and know how to get there, then you will end up happy and contented every day of your life.

I truly believe that life is short and so very unpredictable. I am saying this because I have experienced up close of personal what it means to deal with the demise of those who mean the world to you.

And what I learnt from all these experiences is that it is important to focus on living well and being happy today. Finally when you go, you don’t take anything with you – especially not money. And what you leave is memories for others and how you impacted their lives.

I was not like this 5 – 7 years back. But as of today, this is something I believe in and execute every single day this way. So I live life to the fullest today, enjoy every single day and am happy and content at the end of the day. That’s what really matters.

Nischala: Thank you so much for this rendezvous.
Preeti: Pleasure is all mine. Have a great day!

How did you like this rendezvous? Leave a comment to let us know..

Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous with Dr.RENUKA

About Dr Renuka S
Dr. Renuka is a consulting Nephrologist (M.B.B.S, MD (Nephro)) who currently practices in Bangalore, India

I first met Dr. Renuka way back in 2006. It was a meeting that changed my life in more ways than one. Today (In 2012) looking back at our association, I can definitely say that she’s been one of the “nicest and kindest” doctors I’ve ever met or known in my life. The combination of her medical experience in nephrology coupled with her kindness, positivity, objectivity, presence of mind, sensible and practical ways in dealing with all kinds of medical and non-medical situations makes her a very unique doctor – One who stands out in today’s day and age. And hence, she will always be remembered by many who have interacted with her.

Over the past few years, Dr. Renuka has been a mentor, friend, philosopher, guide and confidant through the many highs and lows of my own life. Hence, I was very happy when she agreed to do this rendezvous with me.

NOTE: The primary aim of this discussion was to create awareness about the importance of kidneys in the human body.

Nischala: Good Afternoon Dr Renuka. Thank you so much for your time
Dr Renuka: Good Afternoon..

Nischala: As discussed when we met last, I’d like to have this discussion with the intent of creating an awareness of the kidney function in the human body and a high level understanding of the problems associated with kidney failure. So to begin, let’s start with the basics – What are the key functions of the kidneys in the human body?
Dr Renuka: Sure. There are 3 basic functions of the kidneys in the human body. One is the excretory function, i.e., to excrete waste from the human body like urea, creatinine, etc. Second is the homeostatic function, i.e. to maintain the acid and base levels within the body to ensure the correct salt and water balance. This ensures the regulation of the Blood Pressure (BP) within the human body. Third is related to the hormonal function of the body. The human kidney secretes important hormones – Calcitriol (which is Vitamin D in active form) & Erthyrpoietin (an essential hormone that controls red cell production. The haemoglobin is a good reflection of this measure) and also the enzyme renin

Nischala: OK. So my next logical question is what are the most common kidney related problems?
Dr Renuka: Today, there are many problems related to the kidney functions:
1) Asymptomatic kidney disease in which there is a leakage of protein urea but no visibile symotions for the patient
2) Nephritic Syndrome which is usually characterized by pedal edema, i.e., swelling of the feet and ankles due to fluid accumulation. Of course there are other symptoms which can be diagnosed with medical investigations like blood and urine tests
3) Nephrotic Syndrome in which there is usually swelling all over the body due to fluids accumulation in the body. Of course there are other symptoms which can be diagnosed with medical investigations like blood and urine tests
4) Rapidly progressive renal failure in which there is rapid worsening of the renal function in a matter of few days – So for example you’re creatinine level is 2 today and in a span of few day it reaches to very high level (say 10 and above)
5) Acute kidney injury in which the kidney does not work temporarily. And over a period of time the kidney function is regained
6) Chronic Renal Failure in which there is a permanent loss of kidney function and this happens gradually over a period of time. In most cases, this is chronic and needs timely diagnosis and medical treatment

Nischala: OK. So can you please elaborate on Chronic Renal Failure? What are the stages for this?
Dr Renuka: Chronic Renal Failure is a condition in which there is permanent loss of kidney function. It is usually a slow and progressive illness. The National American Kidney Foundation has defined the 5 stages in the Chronic Renal Failure based on GFR Rate (Glomerular Filtration Rate).
A note of GFR : Your GFR tells how much kidney function you have. It may be estimated from your blood level of creatinine. If your GFR falls below 30 you will need to see a kidney disease specialist.[ Src: ]
Stage 1 – GFR is greater than 90 Ml / min
Stage 2 – GFR is between 60 to 89 Ml / min
Stage 3 – GFR is between 30 – 59 Ml / min
Stage 4 – GFR is between 15 – 29 Ml / min
Stage 5 – GFR is less than 15 Ml / min
At Stage 2, most doctors typically start counselling individuals and families on long term treatment options. The most important aspect is to mentally prepare people to the treatment. Also early detection and timely initiation of medication can prove to be very effective in the delay of the onset of the Stage 5. So for example if it takes someone 1 – 1.5 years to transition from Stage 2 to Stage 5, if you begin medication early, you will possibly end with at Stage 5 in 5-6 years. This makes a huge difference in the lives of many patients

Nischala: What are the key causes for Kidney Failure?
Dr Renuka: There are many causes for Kidney Failure, the key ones are below:
1) Diabetis – The primary cause of in about 95% of the cases
2) Hypertension
3) Glomerular disease
4) Interstitial disease – which really means due to the lifestyle changes in today’s day and age. So for e.g.: Our day to day diet. A lot of people consume aerated drinks on a regular basis. These drinks have a very high percentage of phosphate which can lead to kidney problems. Another cause is the large consumption of medicines that we consume on a regular basis without being aware of the chemical composition and the way they can adversely affect out body internally
5) Familial or Hereditary – So if it runs in the family, there is a chance that you end up with kidney failure and very little can be done to prevent this.

Nischala: What are the trends with respect to Kidney Failure? In terms of age, gender, nationality, etc? Are there any global trends as well? Is there any research and published data available?
Dr Renuka: Yes. The US Renal Data System (USRDS) regularly publishes statistics on kidney related information. The last one was published in 2010. According to this report, 38 million Americans (which is about 10% of the total population) have kidney related disorders and about 55000 people are on dialysis. A few thousands have undergone kidney transplantation. And 88600 die of kidney failure. Also, the cost of maintaining these patients / year on dialysis is 59.4 Billion $

In India till 2005 there was no CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) registry. Indian Society of Nephrology created a registry database to collect statistics across India. However, many hospitals have not yet registered and hence the data is not updated, as of date. While efforts are underway to bridge this gap, as of 2012 following is the published statistics – 52273 of adult patients have chronic kidney failure. In terms of trends, 70% are male and 30% are female. Average age is about 50. And diabetes is the most common cause

Nischala: Thanks for sharing this. So, what can anyone do to prevent Kidney Failure?
Dr Renuka: As I mentioned earlier, the main reasons for the cause of CRF is diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle and consumption of wrong food on a regular basis (junk foods especially those with high fat / sugar content). So one way is obviously through an active lifestyle with adequate exercise and physical activity and of course a balanced diet.

On a larger scale, Dr Mani from Apollo Hospital Chennai has pioneered an initiative to prevent kidney disease, rather to screen early the probability of occurrence of a kidney problem and to start preventive medical treatments. One of the most important ways that he has done this is through regular and periodic screening of key medical parameters (for e.g.: blood and urine tests, BP) which indicate potential kidney disease. So for example, he observed that about 30% of those who were screened had urine abnormality, i.e High levels of sugar and protein in the urine OR high BP. You can read more on his work here. So when these leading indicators are detected, immediate treatment is provided based on the medical evaluation and assessment.

But coming back to your question, diet and lifestyle changes need to be made. Specifically in terms of diet, it is recommended to avoid alcohol and smoking. Also, one should keep a regular check on sugar levels and blood pressure. Constant monitoring of one’s diet is also essential – so one should eat when hungry or at fixed times – And especially not cultivate the habit of eating throughout the day. Also, it is important to ensure a balanced diet which has a combination of all food types like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fats. Another key point is to avoid aerated drinks – They have a very high phosphorous content.

In addition, regular exercise is an absolute MUST – Even a brisk morning walk everyday goes a long way in controlling hypertension and preventing or controlling diabetes. If you cannot find time to walk exclusively, fit it into your routine as a part of your everyday activities, but do make sure it is an integral part of your life!

Another important aspect is to regularly monitor your urine protein, constantly monitor sugar levels and BP (Blood Pressure). In case of a family history of kidney related diseases, then early screening is recommended. The sooner a problem is detected, the earlier medical treatment can be initiated and this proves to be very effective is preventing further degradation of the kidney related disorders.

Nischala: What are the suggested medical treatments to deal with kidney failure?
Dr Renuka: So it depends completely on the stage at which this is detected, the patient’s age and overall health – especially if the patient already has pre-existing ailments like heart problems and / or diabetes. But broadly, kidney failure can be treated either with medical management, dialysis (haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis) or kidney transplantation.

Nischala: What is dialysis? Can you please elaborate on Haemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis?
Dr Renuka: Dialysis is the artificial replacement of kidney functions in the body. It is a process for removal of excess water (as urine) and waste from the body with the help of the artificial kidney.
There are 2 types of dialysis:
1) Haemodialysis – This is a process in which the excess water and waste is removed from circulating blood through an external filter / artificial kidney (which usually has a dialysate), purified and is returned to the body. Due to the impaired kidney function, the blood has a high concentrate of blood urea and creatinine. The dialysate in the artificial kidney removes the waste from the blood through the process of diffusion. This waste goes into the drain and purified blood is re-circulated into the body
2) Peritoneal dialysis – This is a process in which the peritoneal membrane which lines your abdomen facilitates the process of dialysis. The peritoneum is rich in blood supply and it’s like a bag holding your internal organs. To do peritoneal dialysis, this bag is filled up with a special fluid, called dialysate. Wastes and extra fluid in the blood slowly flow into the dialysate.
After a few hours, all the waste from the body accumulates in the dialysate. Then the used dialysate is drained out and clean fluid is put in. This process needs to repeat several times a day.
During dialysis, blood and dialysate are kept apart by a membrane. Wastes and fluid flow out through tiny holes in the membrane. Blood cells and protein, which the body needs to keep, are too big to pass through, and stay in the blood

Nischala : Ok Thanks. Is there any online link where one can read (as a layman) to understand this better
Dr Renuka: You can check the link at Kidney School

Nischala: I will go through this. Thanks again. So moving on, what are the pros and cons of Haemodialysis?
Dr Renuka: In haemodialysis, you have to come to the dialysis centre which is usually in a hospital as the procedure is done by specialists at the centre. So the disadvantage is that you have to commute to the dialysis centre on a regular basis and usually someone should accompany you. Each sitting lasts for several hours and you have to plan your work and schedule around this. By the end of the procedure, most patients are pretty exhausted since the procedure in itself can be quite intensive and tiring. Also, there is strict diet and fluid restrictions which mean you cannot eat and drink all foods. Many patients find this toughest, especially if you don’t have self-control!

In the long term, there are chances of blood borne viral infections since the blood is being removed from the body for purification. Also, there is a possibility of Hepatitis C infection – for which there is no vaccination. Sometimes there can also be bleeding from the nose and mouth as well.
On the plus side, it is extremely useful in acute emergency and can help cleanse the waste from the body instantly and effectively. Also, since the procedure is administered by trained medical experts, you can relax (patients and family) when the procedure is being done – Of course there is stress and emotions to deal with, but physically you will be idle!

Nischala: What are the pros and cons of Peritoneal Dialysis?
Dr Renuka: There are many positives – One, peritoneal dialysis can be done at home, so there is no need to come to a dialysis centre. Two, since the process in internal to the body, there is no blood loss. Thirdly, it is continuous process. Also, there is limited diet restriction and so there is more flexibility on your diet intake. And if health permits, you can self-administer the procedure.

However, the peritoneal fluid has a high sugar concentration of sugar, so that is a disadvantage in case you already have diabetes. Another disadvantage is that you need to strictly follow the procedural guidelines while doing the procedure. So you need to wash your hands really well, sterilize the equipment and procedure area and also follow the steps for doing the peritoneal dialysis very accurately. Because if you don’t, there is a high risk of infection – This is called peritonitis. This usually requires hospitalization and a dosage of antibiotics to control the infection.

In India, a decade back awareness of peritoneal dialysis was very low and also the cost was very high – i.e., Peritoneal dialysis was almost 50% more than haemodialysis. However today, the cost differential is about 10% – so peritoneal dialysis is more than haemodialysis by only 10%; and hence is being preferred by many patients if they can afford it!

Nischala: Coming to Kidney transplantation, what are the current trends in terms of numbers and acceptance?
Dr Renuka: So the best form of renal replacement therapy is kidney transplantation. It improves the quality of life, work and day-to-day activities. The key challenge is to find the right match of kidney donors. According to The kidney transplantation act of 1994, a kidney from a living person could be considered only from the immediate family with a matching blood group – And immediate family means parents (mother / father), siblings(brother / sister), children(son / daughter), spouse (husband / wife)– who are more than 20 years and less than 60 years of age.

In 2009, this act was amended to include kidney transplantation from “near-relatives” – So as of date, as long as you are medically fit you can be considered for a kidney transplant by virtue of the following relationships – first cousins, maternal / paternal uncles / aunty and grandparents. Also, not-so-close relatives who have stayed with the patient can donate organs, provided there is no commercial dealing.

Irrespective of the relationship between the kidney donor and kidney recipient, it is now mandatory to appear before the Ethical Committee to get an Ethical Committee Clearance. And this is governed by the Health Ministry of State.

Last option for transplantation is cadavers / diseased donor transplant – For e.g.: people who are brain dead or on ventilator. The family is usually counselled for transplant. If they are willing, then the process of kidney transplantation is initiated. In most cases, family agrees because they feel that in some way they can help another human being and that their loved ones “live” through someone else. These are really heart-warming moments because one needs to make a life-changing decision about someone they love and care about, at probably one of the most vulnerable moments of life! So the role of counselling is very important in such cases!

In terms of the operational modalities, there is a centralized list of patients awaiting kidney transplantation created region-wise. In Bangalore, there is an independent body in Nimhans called the Zonal Kidney Coordinator Cell which manages this list. If anyone is keen on kidney transplantation, they need to register with this cell. Upon confirmation of registration, they are added to the waiting list. When a donor kidney is identified for a transplant, the first 10 registered patients are activated and notified on a first come first served basis. It is a totally impartial and neutral way. Once a patient is ready for the transplantation, the hospital is informed. The hospital then arranges the next steps in terms of scheduling the procedure, informing the surgeon, arranging OT (Operation Theatre), co-ordinating with blood bank, etc.

Nischala: Hmm.. So What are the challenges with respect to kidney transplantation?
Dr Renuka: The first challenge is that kidney diseases are increasing and there is an acute shortage of kidney donors. Due to the ever increasing waiting list, there is an increase in the cadaver transplant. Hospitals are also considering marginal donors, i.e., older people above the age of 60 years old if they are medically fine, or people with some malignancies which cannot spread.

Also the good news is that the success rates of kidney transplantation has increased year on year. So the first year kidney rejection has come down significantly (Chronic Allograft Nephropathy). On the flip side, many patients don’t come for follow-ups and become irregular in their medication after 1 year – which leads to different kinds of medical complications with time. So it is important to be regular with medication, with prescribed medical investigations periodically and doctor visits.

Nischala: So any specific case that you remember and would like to share?
Dr Renuka: Yes. There is one case of an employee in Central Silk Board (Bangalore) who was a 40 year old diabetic when he was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. It changed his and his family’s life completely. He had to be absent from work for a long time to start off dialysis. It affected his family because he was the key earning member in the house and there was a loss of income and increased medical expenditure due to his kidney treatment. Luckily in 1998 he got a cadaver kidney. The transplantation was successful. After that, he was very religious in following a strict diet, taking medicines and also leading a healthy lifestyle. Today in 2012 almost 14 years later – he is still doing very well. His family is all well settled and children are also doing well for themselves.

See kidney failure is not just about the patient. It is the whole family who suffers and endures the day to day hardships. The patient definitely undergoes physical pain, mental stress and agony, emotional highs and lows and also most patients experience a huge sense of GUILT that they are a burden of their family – That is the hardest! Also, many times the family finds is hard to come to terms with the situation. So the first reaction is obviously shock! And then denial – most people don’t accept the results and diagnosis and keep running between hospitals for alternate medical opinions. Many even explore alternate medicine and healing – but they don’t work! Usually it takes about 1-1.5 years to accept and reconcile to the situation. And usually in this time more damage is done internally – to the kidney, heart and other organs as well.

Nischala : Any other message you’d like to share as a part of this rendezvous?
Dr Renuka: With the advancement of technology and innovations in the medical field, there is now a lot of research on a durable artificial kidney. In 2010 Decemeber, a miniature computer was designed to function as a dialysis machine – So you can put it in a belt on your waist and re-charge with a battery – It is called DAK (Durable Artificial Kidney). The good news is that human trials have been successful and as per latest data this should be available in the US market in 2-3 years’ time. It will be expensive when it is launched. Also it will take time to come to India. But yes! It was make a transformational difference in the life of kidney patients!

Also the point I want to emphasize again is that delaying treatment can be detrimental to patients especially in young people. Usually, we come across 2 kinds of situations – One in which there are no financial constraints – so either the patients have an insurance cover or adequate financial security. In this case, they usually go for the best treatment. What really makes a difference here is the self-discipline and quality of lifestyle they maintain after they undergo the treatment. For those who have financial constraints, it is an everyday struggle. In some cases families have to make a tough choice between basic every day needs like food 3 times a day and going in for renal treatment – These are the really touching cases! And those who make the tough decisions go through a lifetime of guilt because of their choices or because they took short-cuts.

The challenge is that there is no government hospital which provides haemodialysis at subsidized costs. And dialysis in private hospitals is not affordable for everyone. There are however a few philanthropic organizations and initiatives which aim to provide affordable or subsidized treatments in rural areas or to those who cannot afford it.

Also many of our affluent old patients and families have a huge sense of gratitude for their fresh lease of life after dialysis or transplantation– and hence send us voluntary donations so that we can help those who cannot afford it. In some instances, we also have cases of individuals and families who sponsor the education of those children whose parents cannot afford it because they are currently spending all funds on renal treatment. In fact, a group of doctors in our network also sponsor the education of 1 child every year. So we all contribute between 6000 Rs to 8000 Rs.
So as doctors, we do our bit and best to contribute and help those in need in more than one ways!

Nischala: Thanks so much for your time and sharing your views
Dr Renuka: Sure. I hope people read this and it benefits them in some way

How did you like this Rendezvous? Leave a comment to let me know…

My Favorite Quotes on Education

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” ― Robert Frost

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” ― Oscar Wilde

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” ― Brigham Young

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
― Aristotle

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” ― Malcolm X

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” ― Margaret Mead

“Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.” ― Mark Twain

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” ― Henry Ford

“Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t. ”
― Pete Seeger

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” ― Thomas Jefferson

Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous with Dr.BINDU HARI

Dr. Bindu Hari is currently the Dean at NPS (National Public School) International Singapore, Senior Principal / Director at The International School Bangalore , Senior Principal of NPS Koramangala and NPS HSR schools. She joined the NPS group of institutes in 1990. Over the past several years, she has been instrumental in the growth of the group of institutions in India and also pioneered the foray abroad. She has done her M.Sc  and  Ph.D in chemistry and B.Ed.

Personally this rendezvous was special because it was a way for me to re-connect with my past – to be specific, the school that I studied in. Looking back, I do think that NPS did shape my life in more ways than one – For starters, I was fortunate to study in one of the best schools in Bangalore way back in 1994. And by virtue of this experience, I can confidently say that there is a definite value in studying in a premier educational institute.

For those who don’t know about NPS, it was reputed to have the BEST (and most envied) academic records (for E.g.: In my batch, there were several students who were among the Top 100 in IIT entrance exam, several were Toppers in the Medical entrance exams like AIIMS, etc.) and many of them set records in these exams as well. It was a privilege to know some of these “great minds” back then; many of whom have made a global mark for themselves today. Second and probably more important was that I forged several life-long friendships here!  Last but not the least my tryst with NPS paved the way for my future – in terms of the subsequent formal education that I pursued; and also for my professional choices and growth.

Nischala: Good Afternoon Dr Bindu! Firstly, Thank you so much for your time Dr. Bindu. It’s a pleasure to connect with you after so many years!
Dr. Bindu: Hi! Good afternoon! Great to hear from you.. It’s wonderful to speak to you after so many years

Nischala:  Lets  start this rendezvous by  going back to your journey in the education sector – Specifically what inspired you to get associated with education, academia and NPS? Especially since you had a stellar academic record yourself and could really have pursued any other career of your choice.
Dr. Bindu: Looking back at my own life, I have always been interested in research.  After my Masters in Chemistry, I enrolled into a Ph. D programme and  really enjoyed the process of research a great deal. Classical research is an amazing process – collecting and playing with a lot of data, number crunching and drawing conclusions to prove or disprove a hypothesis almost every day! But the flip side is being in a  research lab all day, doing experiments and working on the computer results offer very limited or almost no social interaction. And after a point I realized that I needed more social interactions, communication and personal enrichment so I started teaching. I taught Chemistry at NPS Indiranagar  to  students in the middle years and senior school. That was an exciting experience for me – Simply because children think so differently from adults – they are full of ideas, enthusiasm and express the same in many different ways. It was a thoroughly enjoyable process! So if I look back to connect the dots, I started at the grass root level in teaching and grew from there!

I also have a very academic bent of mind. So I always knew that I would someday go back into the classroom – It is where I belong! Just that I probably did not know where I would start and how the journey would pan out! So today while I am responsible for several qualitative aspects in all the educational institutions, I still do take time to train or teach. For e.g.: School assemblies are teachable moments, I take a few sessions in Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and I am involved in creating Training modules for teachers.

Nischala: That’s an interesting journey! So from what I understand the group has grown significantly over the past two decades. So can you elaborate a little on your presence and strength today – primarily in terms of the number of students you have an opportunity to mold and influence?
Dr. Bindu: Well, Yes! We’ve had a phenomenal growth in the last decade. So as of date, we have the NPS (National Public School) International Singapore, The International School Bangalore , NPS Indiranagar, NPS Koramangala, NPS Chennai, NPS Rajajinagar  and  NPS HSR . In 2013 we open our doors to students at NPS Mysore. As of date, we have about 12000 students across all schools and about 1700 teachers.

And then of course we have NAFL (National Academy for Learning) which was started in 1993. This school  aims  at providing international education in India in collaboration with CIE (Cambridge International Examinations), Cambridge. So students have an opportunity to appear for IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education). The success of the early experimental foray into international education led to the creation of TISB.

Nischala: That’s great to hear! It’s a good opportunity in India for students aspiring to get IGCSE. So from your view – Is there any difference between TISB and say NPS Indiranagar?
Dr.Bindu: The most significant difference is TISB has a heterogeneous student profile from across the globe – We have students from over 30 nationalities and this diversity enriches the learning experience as students develop cross cultural skills- awareness, sensitivity and communication early in life. In contrast, NPS has a homogenous student base and staff profile as the students are from almost every Indian state.

Also TISB is a residential school offering boarding facilities and hence living on campus offers a unique and exciting life experience as students develop self-reliance and independence early in life while actively contributing to community living.

The NPS group of schools, NAFL and TISB have emphasized academic rigour.  However, the vision of all our schools has evolved to include holistic education to enable students develop a broad range of multidimensional life skills and to achieve this end, there is an increased focus on multiple learning opportunities and co-curricular activities within and outside the school environment. NPS has and is continuously evolving in its educational programmes in order to prepare students for tomorrow’s global economy.

Across all our schools our students aim for admissions into the top 20 universities across the globe and top universities in India. Many of our students score top ranks in various competitive exams including IIT JEE, PMPD, AIEEE, AIIMS, CLAT etc. And the latest feather in our cap is our first student from NPS, HSR Layout will be heading to Oxford University to study History. There is increased awareness among students about educational opportunities across the globe and parents can afford to fund this education.

Nischala: This is awesome! Makes me a proud NPS-ite! So from all your experiences – What are your observations in terms of key changes in the students and this could be in any aspect – from an eagerness to learn, to awareness of technology, to a passion to do something unique, etc etc.?
Dr. Bindu: That’s an interesting and thought-provoking question! Firstly, students are more aware simply because they have access to vast amounts of information at a mouse click. Google is the answer to many questions! Greater information accessibility leads to greater exposure and presents students with more opportunities than probably students had a decade ago.

Secondly, this generation of students are “digital natives” – comfortable with technology, software, use of all Apple products including the iPAD, etc . They learn any new technology at the blink of an eye. In contrast, parents or teachers are “digital immigrants” and struggle to get started let alone achieve mastery!

Hence students are extremely confident because of greater exposure and opportunities presented to them from an early age. They tend to articulate with clarity and their ability to express orally or in writing is impressive. One of the reasons for confidence is that students are performing on stage at school from the age of 4 years and most of them have no fear of public speaking or interacting with a large audience.

However, an issue of concern is that children of today have limited attention span and patience. It is the world of instant gratification and real-world expectations are based on their experience in the digital world,i.e., at the click of a button. The real world however does not always work this way!

Nischala: That’s interesting to hear!What about parents? What are the significant differences you observe in parents with respect to their expectations on the role of school and education system and their involvement in the growth and development of their children?
Dr. Bindu: The reality of today is that most parents have 1 or 2 children and more recently most parents are opting to have only 1 child. Hence “Helicopter parenting” is very common. Parents hover around their child in an overly protective manner and bubble wrap them in a world of material comfort! Subsequently as children get older, some parents become demanding of the child!

Some parents are uninvolved with the life of their children as they are far too busy to spend time with their children and we do see children of neglect. Others are overly involved, i.e., they don’t give much space for child to grow and evolve. There are some parents who are involved to an appropriate degree in their children’s education.

Parenting styles vary between authoritative parenting, jellyfish parenting or assertive parenting.  There is no right or wrong here but the most effective parenting style in our experience is one in which the parent showers unconditional love, engages the child in conversation, uses teachable moments to highlight key messages and reasons in order make the child see reason.

As a school, we always communicate to the parents that education of a child is really a joint venture between the school and parents in order to accomplish the most we can in the best interest of the child. It is a very “child-centric” approach that we adopt. And we have always  had incredible support from our parents.

The other point I want to make is that today parents have greater purchasing power and are great providers for their children! There is a real danger of our children growing up with a sense of entitlement because of this.

And again the fact is that Parents will always be the child’s first teacher. So if a parent chooses to be resilient in a tough situation, the child learns  to be resilient! Children learn and absorb based on parent’s responses and reactions.  We emphasize the role of parents in the growth and development of the children at every opportunity that we get!

Nischala: And my next logical question is around teachers.  What are the noteworthy changes in the teaching community? – In terms of access to teachers and willingness for qualified individuals to take up teaching jobs?
Dr. Bindu: The fact is there is dearth of good teachers around the world. And even in India the ground reality is that it is very hard to find good teachers for subjects like History, Science and Math. And this is a real challenge for the country as a whole and will only compound with time. Finding passionate, enthusiastic and dedicated teachers is hard today and will become harder in the next decade.

Consider our own alumni – the best of our students go on to be lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc. And rarely does a youngster become a teacher by choice!

When we quiz 4 year olds on “What do you want to be when you grow up?” – They all want to be teachers. Interestingly in a Grade 7 class, it is 1 out of 90 students who aspire to be a teacher. And in Grade 11 or 12 no one wants to be a teacher. Youngsters don’t associate glamour or status with teaching and salaries for teachers are lower than other professions such as Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers. As a result youngsters don’t opt for teaching. In addition we live in a materialist society and family pressure drives students into other professions. In Bangalore which is considered India’s Silicon Valley, one can’t compare earnings of a teacher with that of an IT professional.

But as an institute we pay our teachers well – We are probably one of the highest paymasters in the Indian scenario, and so our teacher retention ratio is by far one of the best!  Of course most teachers also value the challenge,  the culture, the school environment and the style of running the institute and hence they stay on here.

On the positive side, another trend we are observing is many intelligent young mothers are pursuing teaching as a second career. We recently appointed a Chartered Accountant with 5 years of experience at E&Y (Ernst and Young) as a teacher-intern. Work life balance and family commitments are an important priority for many women and they take up teaching as a second career. We welcome this trend.

We have started a teacher-training center to draw intelligent and passionate people into teaching.  And we are getting some good response.

Nischala: Thats great to hear! So moving on how do you think technology will transform the education system?
Dr. Bindu: The environment today is dynamic, fluid and changing rapidly. And technology is a definite enabler in the education sector in more ways than one – by providing access to knowledge, enhancing the quality and ease of research, being the mode of distribution of content to students, monitoring and tracking student progress, making the process of differentiated assessment and pedagogy easier, and simplifying record keeping processes.

The  skillsets required in industry are changing and hence the need of the hour is really to build skills around creative thinking, critical reasoning, developing research skills, problem solving, compiling and processing and presenting data and information for a specific purpose.

Consequently the role of teachers is changing into a facilitator rather than a mere instructor who directs the class. Teachers are designers of learning experiences based on available resources – And resources can include print, video and digital resource, science and math equipment, etc.

Also there is a definite element of collaborative learning as on many aspects students end up being the “gurus” and teach the teachers. In addition, the nature of questions that students ask today is impressive – obviously based on inherent curiosity and inquisitiveness of the world around them and teachers may not have the all the answers. So we encourage enquiry-based learning and have started a new initiative at NPS for Grade 3 students!

The academic endeavor at our school is to subject the child to a range of experiences to facilitate awareness, comprehension, learning, collaboration and growth.

Nischala: That’s interesting. So can you elaborate on some of the other unique initiatives at NPS?
Dr. Bindu: At the school, we still value core academic skills – Language proficiency, Math, Science, etc. But we are aware that students need supplementary skills in addition to core academic skills to take them through life. For e.g.: We have started a new entrepreneurship course for Grade 6 students to develop Entrepreneurial Literacy. The aim is to sow the seed of entrepreneurship in the students; and even if only 10% become entrepreneurs it is great for India! We believe that entrepreneurial skills are critical for students if we look into the India’s future –It is what India needs. We started this as a pilot at NPS HSR and based on  the success of this programme, we plan to expand this initiative into all our other schools.

In fact the latest book by Subroto Bagchi  called MBA at 16  is really a co-creation of his interactions with 31 NPS students. So we are now planning to take this initiative to the next level where we work with students to create a concrete business plan and see if we can get funding to actually give life to some of these ideas.

Another emphasis is on developing and enhancing language skills of students. So we have introduced a Novel writing program for students of class 4 and 5 and this project stems from the fact that India has few child authors and fiction for children by Indian authors is rare. The emphasis is on getting the students to appreciate writing as a process.

So NPS is an evolving school. We respond to the needs of society, industry and skills for employability.

I must also credit the CBSE board for introducing the Adolescent Education Programme (AEP) for students in their teens. The fact is that young people are quite confused and have to deal with pressures from peers, pressure to perform, pressures related to body image, pressure from parents, pressure from society – and it’s not easy. These sessions  gets them to reflect, introspect, become self-aware and also talk with confidence about issues promoting or impeding their personality development and progress!

Nischala: This is very interesting and exciting to hear! I think exposure to such aspects at the school level is a great opportunity for students. So moving on, I’d like to ask you a very basic question – What does education really mean? And how is an “educated mind” different from a “literate mind”?
Dr. Bindu: It is an interesting question. So in my view, there are many kinds of literacy – academic, entrepreneurial, civic, environmental, health, information (In the context of whether the available information is authentic and accurate or not), media (In the context do you accept all that you see in media or is discernment and analysis a part of your thinking process), social, cross cultural, etc

However, the meaning of education is far broader than mere skills acquisition. Ideally, the aim of education is to make an individual a meaningful contributor to the community and society at large. And the values that a school imparts as part of informal learning makes an ocean of a difference – attributes such as self discipline, self regulation, work ethics, basic honesty, integrity, generosity, kindness, sharing, respect for the aged and  disadvantaged,  support of others in times of need etc. contribute in an intangible but important way to the refinement of a society. These may be old world, old fashioned values but these values are the glue that holds a society together. Societies that neglect to infuse and disregard these values are likely to disintegrate or implode sooner rather than later. Children must absorb this message from parents, school and society as a whole!

So an educated mind blends skills with knowledge and values for the betterment of both self and society.

Nischala: OK.. Moving on, Another aspect which I hear or read a lot about in the new generation of kids is related to health issues / lifestyle problems – primarily due to lack of exercise and incorrect food habits. What are your observations and experience here?
Dr. Bindu:  You are so right! Many parents use laptops as baby sitters (as opposed to TV two decades ago). The greatest concerns are violent computer games desensitizing our children and the ease of access to pornography which parents are unaware of.

We are creating a generation of couch potatoes who eat vast amounts of processed, high calorie, nutritionally poor junk food. In addition, children are no longer physically active or as involved in games or exercise outdoors as the generation before – These are concerns. This is leading to a significant increase in the percentage of lifestyle related health issues like obesity, Type 2 diabetis, etc and concerns such as the lack of concentration, distractedness, restlessness and the lack of social skills etc.

As a school, we have incorporated health literacy into our curriculum. However it is parents and students who have to make the final healthy choices. There is a vast difference between knowing and putting the knowledge into practice.

Nischala: Hmmm…So 10 years from now, what do you think will make a difference in the education system?
Dr. Bindu: As I see it there is a movement across the world in the education sector and technology is a very big part of this movement primarily due to ease of access to information at a low cost!

Hence the role of a teacher is gradually evolving into a facilitator of learning. There is debate and discussion about whether teachers will be required in future or not and whether technology will replace the classroom teacher? And my answer is that teachers CANNOT be dispensed with- EVER!  They will always have the power to mould, groom and influence development in the intellectual, emotional, social, and psychological domains. As long as schools exist, teachers will be required and will always have a key role in education!

Nischala: Moving on,What really keeps you going as an educator?
Dr. Bindu: It is one of the most enjoyable journeys in my life. Walking into school every morning is a wonderful feeling. The environment is lively and animated – You have to experience it to truly understand what I mean. Each day presents a different set of challenges and changes to deal with continuously.

Each of us at school makes  an emotional investment in the lives of our students every minute of the day at every single instance we interact with our students. The underpinning of every interaction is to make a child feel secure and safe before he or she embarks on learning through exploration. It is unique to a school and the profession of teaching. It is truly a calling.

Being around children is a joyous experience. The young are idealistic, they have ideals and idols. You have to engage in conversation with a 10 year old to understand how analytical and intelligent they are, you have to talk to them and prepare to be surprised by their dreams and thoughts without limits and boundaries. These refreshing interactions keep us adults flexible and adaptable.

A few days ago, I was talking to one of my young students who has juvenile diabetes. To be honest, I was impressed with his temperance, humility and knowledge.  He is so widely read, so mature and well rooted for his age! We derive joy, energy and hope from these interactions with children which give us strength to forge ahead!

I believe a teacher has to be an eternal optimist, one can’t be a teacher and not be optimistic – You NEVER EVER give up on your kids!

Nischala: So looking back, what are the unforgettable moments in your journey as an educator?
Dr. Bindu: At the school, we believe that incremental progress and every tiny step in the right direction for each and every child is worth celebrating. Acknowledgement, recognition, appreciation and praise is woven into fabric of the school to make it an affirming environment for a child.

While we value the best in ability, talent and skills, we celebrate the success of those who struggle to conquer the smallest developmental milestone. So there are really many rewarding moments of happiness in the life of an educator.

But if I had to recall a recent episode it is this… It was extremely fulfilling to see an  NPS Alumnus  present the welcome address to a 5000 member audience in the presence of the former  President of India Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam at a graduation ceremony of an engineering college. She stood at the podium and delivered the perfect welcome address – I had goose bumps and I still have them as I recall the speech. I’ve seen her as a shy 7-year-old child at my school and there she was delivering a speech with assured confidence which many will remember for a lifetime! William Wordsworth said “Child is the father of man”.. And that’s so true. What a child is today is there for all to see. And what they are likely to achieve tomorrow? – No one can predict.

It is hard to explain the bond between a teacher and student – you can’t capture it all and express it in words. Every teacher  has emotionally invested in the child and the intangibles including affection, compassion and empathy play a big role. As a result, an educator  is constantly  evolving and developing while demonstrating and role modeling with every interaction and this is an extraordinary experience for any educator and a very fulfilling one. It’s really hard to express, explain, comprehend or measure – But if you’ve ever taught a child and seen them blossom in life,  you feel happy and proud!

Nischala: I’d like to end with any other key message  to students and parents.
Dr. Bindu: To the students I say “Believe in yourself always”. And what every teacher and parent should do is create a climate of positive expectation and express an affirming message so the children live up to these expectations. Having faith in our children is critical for education and life!

Nischala: Thank You so much for your time. It was an absolute pleasure.
Dr. Bindu: Thank You!

As I did my research on Dr. Bindu, I came across an insightful article Bindu Hari’s Six lessons for parents. In my view, a Must Read for every parent!

How did you like this rendezvous? Leave a comment to let us know..

Everything I learned in Kindergarten

This guest post is by Angela Maiers

I taught kindergarten for one year of my career. It was an extraordinary year. It was an experience I wish every teacher and leader could have at least a small taste of.

There’s something about being around young children; beyond their energy, freshness, and laughter.

Children are wise without knowing it. Fearless learners and compassionate leaders; children live in a world where everything matters and everyone has value.

I loved seeing their faces light up when I told them how smart they were making me. They smiled with pride and appreciated the praise; but I am not sure they understood how true those words were.

I can honestly say, everything I needed to know about social media and life; I learned in kindergarten.

It was there, I learned to:

  • Notice beauty and wonder all around me
  • Never take a day, or even an hour for granted
  • Find evidence of life and growth in the most unlikely of places
  • Listen with a mind and heart wide open
  • Dream big and celebrate little
  • Capture the extraordinary in the ordinary and everyday things
  • Most Importantly … Love Unconditionally

The world is what we make of it, and children know that. To fully embrace the potential the web holds; we need to be more “child-like” in our approach. The web depends people’s ability to move through it with respect and grace; to demonstrate community and social responsibility, and to fully experience it with love.

If you have not had the privilege of spending your day in the presence of such genius minds, I leave you with a “taste” of what young, talented, and passionate learners can achieve! (And I am not talking about the dance; I am talking about their extraordinary Habitudes!)

Originally published @ ; Re-published with permission; Courtesy Agela Maiers

In search of research: My tryst with academia

This guest post is authored by PAVAN SONI – Author Bio is at the end of the post

We all are purpose maximizers. For a lucky few, the purpose is struck very early in their lives and for others, it remains elusive for years. I was fortunate to lie somewhere in between, for the calling in life came when I still have a few years to realize it. The ‘search’ for the calling in life or the purpose landed me to the field of ‘research’ and am I happy? Oh yes indeed. So here’s my little story of the transition from the corporate world to academics, and the intent remains to inspire a few readers to join the exciting world of academics.   

Academia was never a stranger to me. I started teaching informally from the age of 15 and then formal teaching followed soon. Even while in the corporate arena, first with Titan and then with Wipro, I kept myself abreast with reading, writing and teaching. For almost last 7 years now, I have consistently been teaching over the weekends and that umbilical cord in many ways made the decision to shift to academia rather smooth. Now here at IIM Bangalore, looking back I can only ‘connect the dots’ as the great artist Steve Jobs quipped and be surprised that how life crafts itself. Here’re five insights that I gathered through my career in corporate and in academia, and I wish to share with a hope that these would resonate with you.

Grab half-chances: When I first entered a B-School as a teacher, I was 22 and most students, including the fellow teachers, didn’t take me seriously. But it was a half-chance bestowed on to me and by having taken that I could at least get started. The institute wasn’t the tier-1 or tier-2 category, nor did I have any formal experience of teaching MBA students. Thereafter, I sniffed opportunities where I could teach, mostly for free and then with some honorarium. Location was no bar, class-size was no bar, institute’s ranking was not bar; the only thing that mattered was that I had to sharpen my axe. From that one institute, today I have taught at over 25 MBA institutes across India and abroad, and can never ever relax on the virtue of taking those half-chances. Remember, opportunities don’t come your way wrapper. You need to unearth those.

Hone multiple affiliations: We are all worth more than what we do currently. Most of us tend to limit ourselves to the workplace and the chores that we are assigned. Our friends, our pastime or mannerisms and even thinking then get shaped by, if not limited by, the workplace. One early lesson I gathered while interacting with fellows from outside of India was the virtue of honing multiple affiliations. Affiliations here mean being actively associated with, or better still contribute to, multiple avenues in life. One of which could be the workplace, and then being associated with a social cause or teaching or writing or composing or painting or something where one would draw inspiration and insights from. Remembers, you weren’t ‘born’ to work in one organization! Life offers many more possibilities and capabilities, and let’s make the most of any given moment. For me it was reading, writing, and teaching.

Live a debt-free life: One of the plaques of the times we live in is the virus of EMIs. As soon as someone gets a job, the tendency is to live beyond means. Buying a car, booking a house and then swiping credit cards. The biggest challenge with taking loans and paying EMIs is that the risk taking propensity gets doused. Once having taken a loan, the person has to work just to repay the amount, no matter how much the person is enjoying the job or adding value to it. The decision to shun a corporate job and getting into a student’s life became easy with having no debt on my balance sheet. Not buying a home or car wasn’t a great loss and also I was saved from the potential risk of not able to shape my career. I can surely buy a better model of car or a bigger house perhaps four years from now, but by then it would perhaps be too late for me to do my PhD. Life is about living, not accumulating.

Balance rigor with relevance: The first realization that happened to me after coming down to IIM was the chasm that exists between theory and practice. Our doctoral students and teachers here possess significant body of knowledge on how firms should be best run, while our corporates learn by committing mistakes! If only the knowledge that lies in the academia be made accessible and amicable to be adopted by the world that runs the economy, the mutual purpose could be justified. Unlike physical sciences, the virtue of social sciences and management education is as good as its application. Having said that, one can’t compromise on rigor, for the work has to stand the scrutiny of peers and pass the test of time. So, regardless of whether you are in corporate or academia, the delicate balance of rigor and relevance in an imperative, more so in academia where it’s our responsibility to offer actionable insights.

Remember that your network is your net-worth: The bigger our ambition is, the greater is the realization that larger goals require even larger contributions. Solitary genius or lone inventors are only limited to the realms of tales or urban legends. In the world of management research and practice, collaboration is the key, and this comes with honing an active network. My network with academics helped me get into the domain of rigor and the network with practitioners and entrepreneurs would help me navigate back into relevance. I am not talking of count on the Facebook or LinkedIn, but the count that counts. One where novel ideas could be bounced and collaboration could happen to give shape to them. Nurture your network and prune it to a purpose, for your network is your net-worth.

The first year is over at the fellow program here at IIMB and in the last one year, I literally drank from the hose. There are at least three more years to go. I am working hard, but surprisingly am not feeling tired! As I am working for myself and am sure while doing so, would be able to contribute to the discipline of research, teaching and practice. Amen!

Pavan Soni is an Innovation Evangelist by profession and a teacher by passion. He is currently a Research Fellow at IIM Bangalore. More on him at

The BEST Education Blogs I’ve Come Across

I was not really aware about the excellent work and contributions of several educators across the globe until I stumbled across their blogs. In this post, I have listed the BEST Education Blogs that I’ve come across. Listing them below in random order:

Eduvichaar @
BY Meeta Sengupta

Angela Maiers @
BY Angela Maiers

The Innovative Educator @
BY Lisa Neilson

MindShift @
BY Tina Barseghian

Free Technology for Teachers @
BY Richard Byrne

Flipped Learning @
BY Jon Bergmann

Edudemic @
BY Team @

Teach4India @

EduTail @

Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous with Prof.D.V.R.SESHADRI

ABOUT Prof. D.V.R.Seshadri
Prof. D.V.R.Seshadri is a well-respected and one of the most popular professors at IIMB. His teaching and research areas are Business Marketing; Value-Based Marketing; Intrapreneurship and Strategy.

He completed his FPM (Fellow Programme in Management) from IIM Ahmedabad; M.S. (Engineering Sciences), University of California, San Diego, California, USA and B. Tech. (Mechanical Engineering), IIT Madras in Chennai, India. For a detailed profile, please refer here

Personally, I was thrilled that Prof. D. V. R. Seshadri (popularly known as DVRS) agreed to do this rendezvous. Going down memory lane, I’ve been a student of DVRS at IIMB and had the good fortune of studying a new course he introduced at the institute in 2006 – VEIL (Venturing through Entrepreneurial and Intrapraneurial Leadership). I distinctly remember the course for 2 reasons – One was due to the fact that the course was designed to enable you to introspect, discover and develop your own personal leadership qualities and abilities. And hence it was really an eye-opener for many of us. Two was the fact that I scored one of the highest grades in the class

The course was immensely popular back then and in 2012 (6 years later) – I am told that it still is one of the most sought after courses by students of the MBA program for software professionals (PGSEM) and executive MBA students (EPGP) at the institute under the name of REIL (Reinvention through Entrepreneurial and Intrapraneurial Leadership)

If I had to describe DVRS in a few words, I would say that is he one of the most passionate teachers I have ever met or known, is immensely knowledgeable in his areas of expertise and most importantly is an honest, humble, kind and INSPIRING teacher that many of us will ALWAYS REMEMBER. And if you’ve ever been his student, you will probably echo this sentiment.

And the reason why most students will always remember DVRS is this – He made a “REAL DIFFERENCE” in the lives of his students.  Anyone who attended his classes will vouch that they learnt tremendously if they signed-up for his courses – Simply because his courses are structured and designed to ensure that you read (probably more than you’ll probably ever read in any 10 weeks of your life ),introspect, question, reason, think and learn.

And what is noteworthy is this – I personally know of individuals who made very important life choices and decisions after attending his courses and interacting closely with him – For e.g.: Quitting a flourishing IT career and pursuing a PhD, taking up teaching as a career, serving the under-previleged full-time or starting their own venture, etc. In my view, the real TESTIMONIAL of a great teacher is one who can enable you to find your TRUE CALLING in LIFE, INSPIRE you and TRANSFORM your LIFE!

Nischala :  Hi Prof. It’s so wonderful to talk to you after so long. Hope all is well. Firstly, Thank you for agreeing to be part of this Rendezvous Series…
DVRS: Hey Nischala. It’s great to speak to you after all these years!

Nischala: My first question to you really is what does it mean to be a teacher?
DVRS: Fundamentally for me being a teacher is an opportunity to enable students to think in a broader perspective – about the subjects being taught and of course, about life. So for the course I run on B2B (Business2 Business) Marketing, my role as a teacher is to introduce basic B2B Marketing concepts and open the world of B2B Marketing so that students are excited about the subject itself. When you generate interest and excitement on a subject, the students usually tend to be life-long learners. So I teach them a couple of courses while they are at IIMB, and then on completion of their program at IIMB, the students carve out and pursue their own career paths. And hopefully, years from now they can teach me, several things, based on their experiences and learnings in the real world. So the focus is really to get them excited about the subject itself.

On the other hand, the REIL course which I run at the institute is really a course on life. The focus is really to get students to introspect on the larger and more profound questions relating to  LIFE itself – In terms of what you really want to do in life? And to get you to ponder and honestly answer to yourself. The fact is that many students have taken career decisions / choices in their past (for whatever reasons) – But don’t necessarily enjoy what they’re doing today. They feel trapped with their many EMI’s (for their cars, homes, etc.), lifestyles, societal pressures, etc. Some of the students say to me at the end of the course: “You know what! I value this lifestyle too much to give it all up and follow my dreams, so I will let status-quo continue. But at least I am aware of it and it’s a conscious decision”. And then there are those who are willing to give it all up and tread on unchartered waters, to where their heart takes them!

Of course I am teaching because I am passionate about teaching the subjects and more importantly because of the opportunity to possibly make a difference in the lives’ of my students.

Nischala: You’ve been in the teaching profession for so long. And you still teach with passion even though you probably have to speak about topics that you may have already spoken about several hundreds of times before. What really keeps you going?
DVRS: I think what really keeps me going is that I ask myself every day “Am I making a difference in the lives of these students?”  And again, I am not being idealistic, but realistic here – I know full well that in every institute there are all kinds of students – So if I can make a positive difference to at least 20% of the class –  I think I am moving towards achieving my life’s purpose!

Again, part of the challenge is to continuously revamp the course content so that it is updated to today’s context, is exciting for students and is a constant learning experience for me. And I do this in many different ways. One, I do a lot of research and reading myself. However, my research is very practice-oriented and in that sense has a strong overlap with the problems managers face in the real world. I also write a lot of practice-oriented articles, case studies, etc. myself and create the course content in tune with the needs and demands of the day. Another input which I value is participant feedback for the courses, which helps to to continually fine-tune my courses from one batch to the next. Two is that I try to customize the course content to the Indian context. Three, I keep introducing new case studies – Like now I am simultaneously working on 8 case studies – two on Mumbai International Airport, one on Tanishq, one on a great company called Polyhydron in Belagaum, etc. And working on these case studies is a massive learning experience for me. Usually, most institutes / courses use a very large percentage of Harvard case studies. But I restrict it to 40% at most. 

So coming back to your question, teaching is really a two way street. I teach students and I learn along the way. Also, as you know I really teach across 3 programs (PGP, PGSEM and EPGP) at IIMB. The average work experience for each of these programs is 3 years for PGP (for the courses I teach to them), 5 years for PGSEM and 10 years for PGPX. So engaging with such a diverse student base on a continuous basis is really 50% teaching and 50% learning.

Another aspect is that most teachers tend to take themselves way too seriously. Looking back at my own career, I think for the first 2 – 3 years , I used to go to the classroom taking my degrees and all my experience in my head– and let me tell you that this is a REAL BAGGAGE which any teacher takes to the class!

What I’ve realized is that for any teacher to deliver the best education, you should go to your class with a light and empty mind. So I do prepare extensively for every class of mine, do yoga and meditation every morning. But when I enter the class, I get into what may be called “free-flow” – And that creates a positive environment to learn and engage with the class. And I’ve found this style to be personally very powerful! Getting FREE FLOW is very important for effective learning  in the classroom for both the students and for me. Also, you need to throw in a few elements of spontaneous humor to keep the atmosphere light and easy. And then the focus is on engaging with the class and also to moderate the sessions, which is the role I play.

Again, as a teacher, my mantra is really this – Walk, Chalk and Talk.. Of course, no one uses chalks anymore. Also, I am probably the only professor who uses ZERO power point presentations for any of my classes in IIMB or I think probably in any B-school in India. Not one in any of my classes. Also as you know, I schedule a fair number of guest lectures so that students get insights from industry practitioners – So that’s also a tremendous learning experience for me.

The real challenge is to get people to think and to treat all students as responsible adults and most importantly, to trust them. This creates a congenial atmosphere and puts the onus of learning on the students as well.

Lastly, for the past few years the ONE WORD I have always emphasized as a teacher has been on “Customer VALUE” in my teaching of the course on B2B Marketing… And so I really ask myself one question everyday – “Am I bringing value to the student?” – I mean for starters, let’s look at value in the purely monetary sense. So the students pay a huge fee to study at the institute, and when I look at that number – I ask myself “Am I delivering value in accordance with this?”.. And then of course, the value that I bring to someone’s life! My view is if I take 1 hour of a student’s time, I should bring value to his / her life – That’s the primary orientation and driver for me. The value framework is strongly embedded in my psyche. So I try to keep promise of delivering VALUE to my students!

Also, I now think LESS is MORE. So even if I cover fewer topics, if it has a huge impact on the student’s thinking and learning – That is more valuable than covering 100’s of topics with no real take-away for the students. What I’ve recognized is that a lot of the knowledge and specialization is very  industry-specific. The conceptual frameworks and foundation is laid at the institute in my courses (as well as other courses). Students can marry this conceptual knowledge with the knowledge specific to the specific industry in which they are working. My belief is that once you are interested in a subject, you will automatically be a life-long learner and then you will necessarily invest the time, resources and energy to continuously tap into the explosive ocean of knowledge that keeps changing at a frantic pace.

Nischala: Wow! Thanks Prof for your interesting insights! Honestly, it’s been a revelation for me because I don’t think I’ve ever met any teacher who speaks about teaching like this. I think all your students are lucky… So, moving on – What is the most satisfying moment for you as a teacher?
DVRS: The best gratification for me as a teacher is when my students write back and keep in touch with me long after they have left the institute – Which I don’t think they do with all the professors they’ve studied with. People write back saying that they are applying the concepts I taught. Some even write back that my courses were among the best at the institute and that motivated by my courses, they made deliberate career shifts. And then of course, there are so many who write back saying that I made a REAL DIFFERENCE in their life.

So there are all kinds of situations which give meaning to my role as a teacher – Cases of people in bad relationships, children abusing parents (and the parent was my student ), people in really BAD jobs, people stuck in a bad work environment, or people completely dissatisfied with the current state of affairs in their life – And their interactions with me through the courses I teach, helped them make peace with their past and move on in life.

What I realized is that people in corporate world are under extreme pressure – Some of this is self- created and some are definite professional pressures.  So living every day in a state of STRESS is really NO FUN in the long term. And if I can help them in the larger journey of life, then that gives me immense internal satisfaction!

Nischala: That’s great to hear.. So moving on, you’ve been associated with premier B-schools in India for a very long time. In your view, what are the key significant differences in students from the past (say 10 to 20 years) to now? And differences could mean anything – from self-confidence, to optimism in life and the future, to priorities, to hunger for success, to ambition, to creativity, to innovation, to understanding of basics, to REAL interest in learning… etc. etc. etc.
DVRS:  All my courses are elective courses. Earlier, the class strength was 20 -30. I knew each student by his/her name. I could give individual attention to each student and understood him/her from different facets of his life (in the class, family, work, etc.) But now with the increasing demand for management education, the class size has increased significantly. So, interactions are not one-to-one on an individual basis and it’s tough to keep track of every single student.

From student’s perspective, with ever-increasing fees in business schools these days, it puts  an immense pressure on the students due to the financial pressures, since many of them would have taken loans to study here. The pressure is not  just in terms of amount of money they invest in the program course, but also in the case of the executive MBA program participants, we must also include their opportunity cost because they don’t earn when they are students here. These pressures are increasing year on year.

Hence I feel that the attitude towards education is changing – It really is a ”utilitarian” mind-set for many students: ‘Here is what I invest, and now I need to get my return on investment after the program.’ Only 20 – 25% student truly learn – and I think that’s what counts for me as a teacher and that is what keeps me going in this profession. These are the students who will stand out in the long term! Hence, my view is that the onus of learning is largely on them. I do not take a school teacher approach of goading people to learn in my courses. In fact, I have a very elaborate course outline that spells out my philosophy very clearly, so that hopefully only those students who really want to learn should ideally be taking my courses. However with the growth in student numbers, that is not strictly possible.

As a teacher, I can enable them discover what they are passionate about –  And I think the fortunate few who figure out what their TRUE PASSION in LIFE is will EMERGE as the REAL WINNERS!

How can I not make my point without a 2 X 2 – typical of B-schools? We all have lots of noise  in the mind. And we need to recognize the noise as the underlying “drama of our life”. It can be sickeningly de-energizing to have this constant background music if the drama is dysfunctional. The drama could be things such as: ‘I am a failure’ or ‘I am useless’ or ‘I need to constantly prove myself to others’, or having a mega ego, etc. If you remove this dysfunctional baggage, it can be wonderfully liberating. I am not saying every one has a dysfunctional baggage, but whoever has it must pay heed to recognizing it and then make efforts to jettison it. The really successful ones are those who have an ‘enabling’ baggage and a clear purpose of life. In my course on Reinventing through Entrepreneurial / Intrapreneurial Leadership’, during part of the course I focus the lens on helping participants understand these aspects, help them to get a clear purpose of life, and to jettison dysfunctional baggage if any that they may be carrying.

Nischala: Thanks for sharing your 2 X 2. That was really insightful.. So moving on, you’ve seen individuals transition from B-school graduates to very many different roles –  super successful corporate executives, to business tycoons, to entrepreneurs, to academicians, to social workers, etc. etc.  – And each with a different degree of success. Looking back, what are the top 3 life lessons you believe that every student must take-away as a part of their B-school education?
1) To make continuous learning a part of your life. If you go away as a lifelong learner, you will do well for yourself
2) Recognise your core values and never ever compromise on them (these include a strong foundation of ethics, among others)
3) To focus on ROLE clarity in your personal and professional life
4) Alliance Building is KEY in the journey of life – Again both in personal and professional life. And soft skills play a very important role here!
5) Recognize passion and purpose of your life – If you discover your passion, you don’t have to work for even 1 day in life, because it will no longer seem like work

Nischala: Any other message you’d like to share as a part of this rendezvous?
DVRS: As a teacher, I am also evolving and constantly learning. I would like to stress that all that I have told you so far is my learning till date, and hence tentative. I would like to wish all readers of this piece peace and happiness always. Go, discover your passion, jettison your baggage and be happy every second of your life on earth!

Nischala: Thank you for your time. It was an absolute pleasure!  
DVRS: You know what? Some of your questions were really tough and made me think too.. So I must commend you for this… Thanks again!

How did you like this Rendezvous? Leave a comment to let us know