SajanSpeaks

Thoughts that originate deep within

Conquering Adversity: Inspirational Journey of an Army Officer

This IS NOT about Capt GR Gopinath’s life. Every now and then during my career counseling sessions guiding people for their second career, I come across people with inspiring stories. Here is one such story.

Recently I watched the Tamil movie Soorarai Potru which depicted the journey of Capt GR Gopinath, the trailblazing entrepreneur and CEO of Air Deccan. Since the movie was highly dramatized, I followed it up by reading Simply Fly written by Capt Gopinath himself. I was introduced to his amazing journey of his life.

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And now let me introduce one such person to you, Maj JV, Shaurya Chakra.

Born to a humble family in a tribal area of Maharashtra around Nandurbar, JV did his schooling from his village. To make ends meet he started working very early in life after school as a Newspaper distribution boy, helped giving cable connections for satellite TV, ran a STD phone booth, and also worked as a Bus conductor in a private travel agency. Alongside he kept his school grades up and even did wonderfully well in NCC too.

In his Class XI , he went for a recruitment rally and was selected for Soldier GD. The poor boy did not know the difference between a soldier entry or an Officer entry. He called up his NCC Commander, to declare the good news of his selection into soldier category. The officer asked him, “Where are you now?”, he replied, “At the Recruitment Rally Sir”. The officer calmly replied, “Do you see any Officers there?”, he said “Yes”. The Officer asked him to hand over the phone to the Recruitment Officer. They conversed for a few minutes. Then the Recruitment Officer took out his application and tore it off. He told him to go and report to his NCC Officer. Dejected, JV later met his own NCC Officer who told him – “You are meant to be an Officer and not a Soldier”.

Like Capt GR Gopinath, JV he too wanted to see the world beyond Nandurbar. He joined BSc Microbiology and again showed his prowess in NCC. He did so well that he was selected to represent Maharashtra in Republic Day Parade. Because of the prolonged absence from college he was unable to complete the lab work and so he was forced to shift to BA English. While doing his college work, he used to go to Pune and work in call centers to make ends meet. Since his English was not proficient, he was only able to get into a local Call Center. He got trained in English and got trained for getting into the Armed Forces as well. His evenings were all spent in preparing for exams and interviews. The NCC had inspired him to a life in the Army. His officers in NCC used to motivate him.

After a year in the local call centers, he graduated to a MNC Call center where he was able to pick up better English. That inspired him to prepare for SSB. He passed his NCC ‘C’ Certificate. He started going for SSB and each time he used to get rejected for some reason or the other. Every time he went for the SSB he had to quit the job he had, because they never gave him leave of absence. And each time he got rejected he searched and got a job in another Call center. Yet he kept on preparing for the SSB. By this time he had grown in his profession in the call center and was getting decently paid too. He completed his graduation and went for the final fifth attempt SSB. He knew he would get rejected and was preparing to move to the next better job. However, to his sweet surprise he got selected in his last and final attempt. He was not able to believe it. He had indeed made it. Thereafter there was no looking back. He joined the Officers Training Academy for a Short Service Commission.

During his Army Career, he always stood for truth and justice throughout his career. He is well respected by his troops. His gallantry has been recognized in action in J&K where he was awarded Shaurya Chakra for conspicuous bravery.

Today he has completed ten years of service. As his tenure of duty in the Army is coming to a close as a Short Service Commission officer, he  is looking forward to giving back to the area where he was nurtured. Major JV has dreams of starting a school to help the tribal children, create ventures to ensure a good livelihood for many in that area. All I can say is that I see a resemblance of Capt GR Gopinath in him. There is a fire that is burning bright in his belly. Let us all pray and hope that JV achieves what he has set his sights on. I hope many children will be inspired by the never say die attitude of this valiant son of the soil soldier. Little setbacks are nothing if you focus on the life ahead of passion.

I wish JV the absolute best. Go forth and conquer the world Major JV. Let us see another Capt GR Gopinath emerge in this country.

A Covid Yatra

Ever since the Pandemic struck, we have been extremely cautious taking all precautions, avoiding all personal contact with strangers, not allowing anyone from outside including maids for the past 8 months, ensuring that only one person visits outside once a week to buy provisions. So much so that we cancelled our yearly trip to our hometown in Kerala. Our son who is at Dehradun luckily had come home just before the lockdown and we all survived happily the past many months.

In early November I got a call that my aunt was very unwell due to an old illness and she was in ICU. I had no option but to rush home. I booked my return flight tickets, (A stay of less than 7 days did not mandate quarantine), got the required E-Pass from Govt of Kerala portal and went to the airport armed with the mask and sanitizer. I asked my son to drive me to the airport so that I avoid public transport. We were checked for temperature and allowed to enter the airport. The Airport authorities and the airlines have done their best to keep social distancing, however our people still are ages away from developing a sense of Social Responsibility. Masks are still being worn over the chin and people not bothering about 6 feet distances were milling all around the place, in check-in counters, security lines, boarding area etc. The airline provided plastic Full-Face masks too, but many of the passengers just took them as souvenirs and kept them in their handbags instead of using it as PPE, till such time they were not allowed to board the flight without it. Only then they reluctantly wore the Full-Face Masks.

I had to tell many people to behave themselves and maintain the distance during the boarding. As I boarded, the Airhostess announced that the seats were sanitized, but to my horror I found someone else already in my seat. So much for sanitization. My flight was uneventful, and I did not even venture out to the toilet. On landing in Kochi Airport, apart from collecting the E Pass there were no other checks. One could just walk out. I travelled in a car that was sent from my home, but the driver refused to switch on the AC due to fear of COVID.

Now came the next shock of my life. All people who were otherwise eager to meet me, all asked me to keep away from them including avoiding a visit to their house. Barring one odd relative, rest all were happy when I said I will not visit them. This kind of untouchability hurt me most. I was wondering, why did I ever travel in the first place.  I was afraid for my old mother and met her from far and after a wash and change in my sister’s house, I left for the hospital in our car. The next few days I stayed in a Hotel Room to avoid contact with anyone. This is the first time I stayed in a Hotel in my own hometown. Strange are the times. My travel was restricted to the hospital, and back to the Hotel room for a restful night’s sleep. Even in Hospital I stayed in the room, without venturing outside much. I always wore N95 Masks which I changed regularly and kept the sanitizer as a pocket content (Only Ex NDAs will understand this word).

The N95 Mask restricted the supply of air while breathing and every now and then I was forced to inhale fresh air in some place which was free of people. When the Nurse came to check the Oxygen level of the patient and the reading was not displaying correctly, I offered my finger to test the oximeter. To my horror I found I was having less O2 than the patient. That’s because I was wearing the N95 masks for long. In four days, I was fed up with the masks and was longing to get out of it. I salute the Covid Warrior Doctors and Medical Staff who have been wearing this for months now. I can’t imagine myself doing it. Just imagine if some one contracts COVID and he is unable to breathe how worse the feeling could be. I have heard firsthand accounts of those who yearned for some oxygen.

I am writing this after I have returned and completed my 7 days self-home quarantine, to ask you to please take precautions. Its better to be paranoid rather than contract Corona inadvertently. Accidents happen on roads not because you do not know how to drive but because of other’s mistakes. So you need to be doubly safe here. Wear Masks, Sanitize your hands often and do not interact with family members till the time you have taken a complete bath after coming from outside. Try and avoid all travels, gatherings in public as far as possible. The feeling of being shunned hurts a lot, so it is better to be Safe than Sorry. The only silver lining in the whole travel of mine was that my Aunt is on the road to recovery.

We pray all of you remain COVID Safe.

My Child Knows What to Pursue – Does this always hold True?

I was the one who always maintained that Career Counseling is NOT required for kids who know what to pursue. However, my belief was shattered to bits in two recent cases that I had dealt with. Many times, our kids / parents are influenced by external reasons to choose a particular career. In most cases they may even like it later. However, the bigger question is, should we leave it to chance, or should we have a scientific assessment to confirm the child’s choice of career?

Nikki (Name Changed) was a brilliant girl and scored high marks in Class X. The supportive parents encouraged her to go for Engineering and since her marks favored that decision the girl planned to crack the IIT JEE. She went to Kota (The hub for coaching centers) and dedicated two years of her life. She scored a mere 60% in Class XII and did not clear IIT JEE. Disgusted she returned to her hometown and took a drop year. After a yearlong study, she managed to clear MHCET and got admission to a good Engineering College in Pune in BTech in IT. Two years later she quit the college as she was not enjoying it anymore. So that was total of three years gone waste. She went to Mumbai and joined Bachelor’s in Mass Media. Her parents were supportive as usual. She enjoyed the course and pursued additional Diploma in Direction and landed up as Asst Director in a prestigious serial. She worked for a year. It was back breaking work with hardly any rest. It was time for a change. She was very pretty and decided to take a plunge in Acting because every one encouraged her to do that. She got a few offers, but everything slipped through due to casting couch issues. She was a girl with high values. She even undertook acting classes to improve her chances of getting a break. By this time, another 4 years went past. Corona devastated the Industry and it came to a standstill. At 28 she was back to Square 1 after 7 years of hit and trial.

That is the time Nikki approached me through her mom’s contact. She underwent the Psychometric Scientific analysis and found that Data Analytics was coming strong for her. A few months back she called me to inform me happily that she has joined for her Master’s in Data Analytics in a good institution in Bangalore and that she was enjoying that course. Her mom wrote to me-“Finally we see the light at the end of the tunnel”

That brings me to another IITian story. The boy in Class X had decided that he wants to be an Aeronautical Engineer. So the supportive father resigned from his job, shifted to Kota and gave his child the best possible atmosphere to clear IIT. The boy was technically brilliant, so he cleared the prestigious IIT JEE and got admission too in Aeronautical Engineering in a famous IIT. The father was on top of the world.

Four years later the boy tells his Dad that he has not enjoyed the four years of Engineering. They approach me and after the counseling sessions, it was revealed that the boy though technically brilliant was not suited for outdoor engineering like Mechanical, Civil or Aeronautical. Instead had he taken IT he would have enjoyed it. We also found that the boy was very good in Management. So he is now preparing for CAT. I am sure he will get through IIM and do a great work as a Project Manager and beyond.

These two incidents have replaced my Belief. Even if the child is sure what to do, it is always better to get a professional Scientific Career Counseling that uses Validated and Reliable tools.  Those needing help can mail me sajan(at)renergetics.com to find out the nearest counselor trained by the famous Psychologist and Psychotherapist Dr. Chinu Agrawal, PhD, Founder and Director of Feeling Minds.

As a Parent, we need to fulfill our responsibility of the origin of the word Parent- Pareto- “Bring Forth”. Bring Forth the very best in your child…Happily.

May you provide the best resources for your child to shine their best.

How they wished they did the Counselling Earlier!

During my career counselling sessions one the oft heard phrases is – “How I wish we came to you earlier”. Let me narrate to you two such cases.

Case1: Two years ago, this girl was in XIIth. She did not know what to go for. She only had a vague idea of being an artist or a designer. The career counselling was done some time in mid November 2017. The strongly recommended career choice was Graphics /Product Design through UCEED Exam. I asked her if she had applied for the exam. Her answer was negative. I told the parent, that very day was the last day for applications. They managed to submit the application before midnight. But the girl did not prepare much in the two months available and as expected she did not clear the exam. So she joined a BA course. The child wished they had come to us earlier so that she had adequate time to prepare.

In my follow up calls, I continued to encourage the parents to motivate the girl to try again the next year. So she wrote the exam the next year and she passed. She joined for B.Des in Communication and Media Graphics in a good college. Few months back I saw her mother sharing a picture on Facebook, about her daughter getting a prize in a contest in her college for a very creative picture with a caption. She lost a year but she was able to get into the right career pathway. The parents and the child are happy to get a career which the child really enjoys. Her inner potential is finally getting recognised and being rewarded.

Case 2: Last year another parent called me for counselling his XIIth studying child. But they never came back, basically because the child thought he has worked it all out himself. He wanted to go for Law and prepared for law, but he did not clear the CLAT Exam. So he decided the next best option according to him, which was BCom. He joined a good college and studied for a year. But something told him that he was not getting a good feel. He came to me for counselling now in his BCom 2nd year.

During the counselling we realised that Accounts nor Commerce nor Law were anywhere close to what he would have excelled in. He realised his folly. Yet we were able to find out alternative pathways for him after his BCom which should excite him. His words were….. “Uncle I wished I came to you earlier”.

These two examples give you the true power of getting your kids counselled well in time. In fact, if your child has lack of clarity, get them counselled early in Class X, if not, you must do it in Class XI and if not as early as possible in Class XII. Do not wait till they realise their folly like these two kids.

Dr. Chinu Agrawal, PhD, Founder Director of Feeling Minds, is a leading Psychologist, who has made it her mission to bring positive psychology to all. She has trained numerous counselors across the country to help children. Her counselors use tools that are well validated, reliable and trusted to get a Comprehensive Scientific Career Counseling. You may write to me at sajan(at)renergetics.com to know more about the Career Counselling process methodology designed by her.

 “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” ― Thomas Edison

Plan ahead, give your kids the very best so that they excel in whatever they do and remain Happy and fulfilled in their careers. We wish your kids the best in whatever they choose.

CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Amidst all the negativity and protests across the country I was searching…. Abhi Bhi Bhalai ka zamaana hai kya? Even in the Defence Forces, of late there has been murmurs of how senior lot have let down its rank and file by their utterances and actions. Those were seen as going against the welfare of the Officers and men and the Disabled.

And then I chanced upon this story that shows how one person can make a difference in his or her ecosystem. How one person can work within the system and improve things in their area of influence exponentially. This is a story, NOT to praise one individual (Therefore, I am NOT going to name him, lets call him Brigadier G) but it is the story about one man and his vision of how to transform things that are under his Command and Control, an eye opener for all Commanders at their level to see how they can create islands of excellence by their single handed focus and larger vision.

The story starts in a small town dusty cantonment in Central India. It is in the middle of nowhere with nearest big city about 2 hours away. The Brigade has been there for many years and minor improvements have been taking place. And in comes the newly minted Commander. Brig G

His First Impression. There are five villages bordering the Military Station which itself formed part of an old Cantonment. These villages next to boundary wall feared the Army personnel. There was a mutual fear psychosis and suspicion. There was literally no interaction between the faujis and villagers. The village ladies used to make breaches in boundary wall to come in and collect firewood. Many of them would get chased away. There was a Garrison School whose building was last painted decades ago, the curriculum was primitive, Teachers disgruntled, having Poor Pay. The hygiene was poor, the bathrooms were so badly maintained that the Medical Officer reported that maximum cases were of Urinary Tract Infection esp. in girls who refused to go to these toilets. There was a Section Hospital, a poorly functional ECHS Polyclinic and a Central MI Room and scores of disgruntled veterans who had once upon a time given their best of their youth for the nation.

His Interaction. On assuming Command of the Brigade, Brig G called for a meeting with the Mukhiya (Headman) of the villages. He invited them for Tea and snacks. This broke the ice and the Mukhiyas started telling about their problems of lack of medical facilities during an emergency, they spoke about how illiterate they were, how they required firewood to keep their chulas burning. Brig G immediately allowed them access to the Cantt for firewood collection but the entry would be governed by ID cards and through the main gate only within an area specified for firewood collection. He assured them of medical help during emergencies.

He next called for an Open house with Veterans where he literally got hauled over coals by the disgruntled veterans. They said they had poor medical facilities, too much time standing for their CSD billing, and hardly getting any respect. He spoke to jawans and found that they were spending a lot of time and money for coaching and helping their children get better education.  His view became crystal clear. He prioritized THREE main issues. Education, HealthCare, Veteran Welfare.

Education. His first priority was to get the infrastructure of the Garrison Public School improved. He built a modern washroom for children. Before and After Toilet RenovationGot pure Drinking water through an RO plant. Got the Teachers and Students to do cleaning of their premises regularly and take pride in the school area. Got a play ground built, got Air Conditioners fitted in class rooms and Heat Convectors for winters.

All these he did within the existing funds of the school without breaking any Fixed Deposit. The improvements were immediately appreciated by the people and more children started enrolling which improved fund availability. Teachers pay was revisedsyllabus improved, Smart Boards were installed, cost renegotiated with vendors, and sections and classes upgraded every year from the current 6th std. A case was taken up to convert the Garrison Public School to an Army Public School so that better facilities could be provided. The defunct school started attracting kids.

The Pre-Primary section was restructured to have a proper Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Kindergarten. It was made into a Stand-alone school.

Parent Teacher Meetings were started. Top Teachers were hired for special coaching of students to join Sainik School and Military Schools after Class 5. They were provided resources in terms of books and class premises were utilized for tuition’s in the evenings. 42 students attended in the first year and 28 qualified the written exams and 2 finally found their names in the merit list. This year numbers will go even higher.

To engage the womenfolk and Ladies, Takshashila Education Hub was created. During the day a Govt certified Diploma in Nursery Teachers Training is conducted. As a welfare measure one girl child in each of the five nearby villages was fully sponsored by the Brigade. Others were admitted. This gave a great fillip to women education as these trained teachers were then employed in the Garrison school or nearby civil schools. During evening the same facility turned into an APTECH Certified Computer Courses for Ladies and kids. This facility also provided Certified English Speaking Course from British Language Council. This facility was also used by the jawans to improve their own education. The National Institute of Open Schooling node helped them complete their schooling and the IGNOU Army Education Program node helped the jawans complete their graduation.

A separate facility was created for officers to help clear their professional exams. Result of this endeavor was that the Brigade had 100% pass results for Offrs in Part B Exam and one even got 500/500 in Military Law.

The Officers, Men, Ladies, Children and Civilians Education requirements were met by these fantastic improvements.

Health Care There were over 10K people who were serving and veterans in the station. They wanted quality Health care. They used to go to faraway cities for basic health needs. The ECHS polyclinic was energized, by selecting a hardworking veteran. He went out of the way to visit veterans who were unable to move to get their needs fulfilled. Funds and medical equipment were requested and released from ECHS central organization. The ECHS poly clinic was improved with critical care equipment. Brig G worked to get funds released from Sub Area to improve the station. Besides, ECHS Polyclinic, the Station Polyclinic and Section Hospital were also resuscitated through MES and Station Funds. The first task was to upgrade the ambulance in the station into a Critical Cardiac Care Van as a life saver, so that the evacuation to the nearest city was easier and life could be saved. A Health Care and Wellness Group on social media was started where suggestions were taken from the environment. Patient Management Software was developed in house by the Sparrow (Officer Commanding Signal Company). These improvements immediately found favor with the people. The nearby villages were informed that first aid for emergency cases would be provided. This in fact saved a couple of lives on few occasions. Health Care improvement was visible and highly appreciated by all. Very soon the Station Polyclinic was adjudged No 1 among minor station in the entire Command Zone.

Veterans Welfare Every quarter an open house was conducted chaired by Brig G, attended by Doctors, Adm Commandant, Zila Sainik Board OIC, OIC ECHS, Canteen Officer, Brigade AAG and AQ. The Veterans vented out their frustration in the first meeting. A cadre was conducted for those jawans who were the point of contact with Veterans, so that they could handle all situations.  Boards were put all along cantonment that said “We Welcome Veterans and Veer Naris. We salute your services”. This improved the respect for the Veterans. CSD Counters for Ladies and Senior Citizens were established which resulted in No Waiting at all. A Separate Parking area for Veterans were earmarked. Veterans Day was celebrated with gusto. Veer Naris were felicitated. Veterans came from far and wide. They came with lots of gifts to express their love for the serving people. Today the remarks of Veterans on various feedback registers are proof of the quality of improvements done.

End Result These actions over the last one year have made a lasting impression on the serving, veterans and civilian people. Brig G has made a 15-year Perspective plan so that the good work will continue in improving the quality of life in the station. His next aim is to make the Cantonment Board School as a model school that will be better than the Delhi Govt Schools (that have been improved recently by the Delhi Govt.)

All these were not only possible due to Brig G’s vision but also due to the excellent support given to him by his Staff Officers and the Battalion’s under his command led by truly great Commanding Officers. He was also supported by his seniors be it his Division and Corps Commanders or the Sub Area Commanders. I wish to praise all who have chipped in their might. All these activities doesn’t mean their Training has ever suffered. These highly motivated men, have been outperforming others in Training field too as evident from their Firing results. Their motto is People First, Mission Always

One Man can indeed make a Difference. Instead of cribbing about the system, you become the system and get it moving. I wish and pray that you are that One Man who can do this within your eco system so that the max persons get benefited from your actions. If you are reading this and you happen to be that one who can make it happen, take inspiration and DO IT! I wish this story becomes a Case Study in HC/HDMC senior officer courses so that many future Commanders can take inspiration.

More power to you Brig G. May your Tribe grow!

(I request all readers NOT to name the Officer or Cantonment in the comment section if you know whom I am talking about. Let us respect his privacy. But do share this story so that more such Cantonments can benefit in future from actions of people like you)

Is Dropping a Year an Option for Students in Class XII?

During my Career Counselling sessions, I have come across parents and few students who have decided to drop a year to attempt their competitive exams. Is this a wise choice?

Should I Drop a Year

Before we go on to decide if this is an option, let us see, why they think this as an option, in the first place. The most important reason is that, the students in most cases and parents in specific cases, want their kids to study well for their board exam, without burdening them with additional coaching for competitive exams like IIT or NEET. The other reason is that some of them fail to plan and forget applying for the exams and are forced to wait another year. The third reason is some of them really do not know what to do and hence give all exams and hope they pass in few. When they do not, they try for it the next year again. Last year, 3 students whom I counselled dropped a year as they got their clarity only towards the end. All three have got into the fields of their choice this year.

One of the ways to ensure that your child gets his/her aim in the first attempt itself is to understand what the child is good at. The correct way to go about is, to get the child career counselled using scientific tools and then decide which exams to seriously prepare for. That will also give you the insight into which exams to apply for well before time and not miss the dates.

As for the people who want to just concentrate on board exams only, well there is no “One Solution” that “Fits All”. My experience with dealing with children during counselling and then following it up with them later, has revealed that DROP YEAR should only be considered in case the child is a person who can organize themselves and their studies. I have noticed that students who are ready to go for an 8-10 hour regular tuition classes in a residential format, do better the next year and get through in NEET and IITs. However, for a Child who is disorganized and unplanned in most cases, do not get any benefit of dropping a year. Their scores would remain more or less the same.

Therefore the ideal pathway that parents should follow, is to first identify what your child is best suited for. I have counselled several students who have taken PCM Stream, when they are actually suited best for Arts or Commerce. We unnecessarily burden them with subjects they are not interested in. In fact one child, now in college confessed to me that his Class XI and XII were the darkest period of his life.

Parents must get those kids career counselled who do not have clarity as to what they should pursue. You may write to me at sajan(at)renergetics.com to know more about the Career Counselling process methodology designed by leading psychologist Dr. Chinu Agrawal, PhD, Founder Director of Feeling Minds, and to know counselors in your city.

Once the children understand which path to pursue, then fill in the applications for the exams, well in time. Please read my previous blog which highlights this dilemma HERE. (https://sajanspeaks.wordpress.com/2019/05/17/plan-ahead-parents-of-children-in-class-xii/)

Then start the preparation in due earnest in the first attempt itself. It is good to take the assistance of a home tutor or a coaching institute to prepare for the exams. You should think of a drop year only if your child is capable of sustained and regular efforts in the following year.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. ” ― John F. Kennedy [State of the Union Address 11 Jan 1962]

I wish you the very best in getting your children to their pinnacle of their potential and settling them in great career paths ideally suited for them to have Happy Lives by planning ahead of time.

Good Luck to you and your kids.

Plan Ahead: Parents of Children in Class XII

Over the years, I have come across parents who fall into few categories. First ones are very serious about giving their kids the best education and they plan everything well. Second are parents who trust their kids’ choices and support them what ever it may be. Third are parents who believe that their kids will find a way for themselves. All of these parents have had immense success and few failures. But the one that I feel very sad about, fall in the fourth category; Parents who wake up too late to find the horse has already bolted from the stable and then try to latch it. I am addressing the fourth category, in particular.

As a Career Counselor speaking and interacting with hundreds of kids and double that number of parents, I still find there exists this fourth group of parents who wait till their kids complete their Class XII to decide their future. They do not realize by that time; a whole lot of options have already foreclosed for them because the applications and exams for many streams have already got over halfway through the Class XII.

The applications commence as early as July while your children have just entered Class XII. Yes, you heard that right. The first exam in Class XII for which a child is eligible is KVPY Exam for entry to the IISC. Application opens in July and exam is written in November. UPSC NDA & NAVAC Exam, application closes by September and the written exam is in November. The IIT JEE first exam is in December and all Design Exams like UCEED, NID, NIFT etc. get conducted in January for which the application closes by November of the previous year. Even The Film and Television Institute of India application closes in February, so is the case with the English & Foreign Language University entrance Exam. So, unless the parent and the child get the clarity of what they need to do, they may be trifle too late to decide and might even have to forego a year to get the career of their choice. Parents, please realize that the preparation for a good future starts with selecting the right Stream after Class X. That is the start point. It also gives children time to prepare for Competitive Exams in Class XII.

Many such cases are coming to me and it makes me feel sad. I wish they had come a few months before so that the child can usefully utilize the many options with them and get the time to prepare for the same. I still remember one child last year whose final counseling session was done on the day the Design exam UCEED application was closing. Obviously, the child did not make it in the exam because she hardly had any preparation time even though she would have done fantastically well in that, had she prepared. This year the numbers are higher, of the parents who came after Class XII results. What a wasted opportunity. Nevertheless they still found it helpful.

In my series of blogs, I have repeatedly insisted that you should take a call for the right career pathway immediately after Class X Exam or earlier so that the child can get clear 2 years to prepare for the competitive exams along with their Class XII exams. Otherwise taking a drop year is the only option left for the children and parents who do not plan well ahead.

Do get your child counseled early so that they have the clarity to pick and choose their best suited career paths. Please contact counselors near you or write to me at sajan (at) renergetics.com to find a career counselor who has been trained and certified by one of India’s leading psychologist, Dr. Chinu Agrawal, PhD, Director of Feeling Minds.

Thousands of kids have benefited, Why not yours?

Think, Plan, Act!

Are Career Counselling Assessment’s Scientific?

This is an oft asked question to me by many parents? What is the Validity of the counselling’s you do? Well, so far I had only the data of satisfaction of the parents of the kids whom I counselled, to prove that these counselling are scientific. Even though Dr. Chinu Agrawal, Director of Feeling Minds, confidently assures me about the Reliability and Validity of the Feeling Minds® protocol which has gone through stringent research process. She is an internationally certified and accredited Career Expert who has devoted her life to bringing Scientific Career Guidance and Counseling procedures to everyone.

Source: www. semanticscholar.org

One day an opportunity presented itself in front of me to actually test these claims. My very dear friend’s daughter had taken these sessions when she entered 9th standard in Oct 2017. I discussed the options with the child but we never formally completed the counselling because of various reasons especially because she was busy with her sports activities and the parents were traveling with her across the country. Besides there was this feeling, that she has still got time to do it. However, time just flew by. The girl completed her Xth boards in May 2019 with flying colors where she scored nearly 96%. That was when the parents realized it is time to complete the assessments.

My friend called me and said, “I think she has changed over the last 18 months, so I would want you to reassess her”. I told him it is not required as the tests are valid over time, but he said that he found some changes in the daughter and would like the assessment done all over again as lot of time had passed. I had no option but to oblige. But in my heart I was happy as I saw an opportunity to test this system myself.

I re-administered the assessment. The child did the test patiently. I got the results of the assessment. To my utter surprise there was hardly any change over the past 18 months. The personality was exactly same. Her top two Career Interests were same. There were minor changes in the other interests. Over all her top choices had hardly changed. Design and Psychology still retained their top positions, except Architecture which had come strong earlier had now gone down in priority. This proved beyond doubt that Dr. Chinu’s claims were indeed based on solid research. The Validity and Reliability of these tests included in the Feeling Minds® protocol were indeed very high.

Psychometric tests are developed after a lot of research. I would strongly advise parents to check the validity and reliability of the Career Counselling tests that is being administered by professionals. There should be data available to show the scientific research of having been field tested. We are after all dealing with Careers of our Children and we need to be sure that the instruments are good and reliable.

A good counselling should be individual based, specific to the child. It should test the child’s Personality, Values, Career Interests, Dreams & Aspirations and Skills & Abilities. Correct assessment will lead to Focus and Clarity for the kids and they will perform well to the best of their potential. I have many parents writing to me about the excellent results their kids have got in board exams after having got such clarity.

Feeling Minds has trained several Career Counselors all over India. You can write to me at sajan (at) renergetics.com should you need assistance in finding suitable counselors near your place to help your kids.

Zig Ziglar said “Will you look back on life and say, ‘I wish I had,’ or ‘I’m glad I did?” I hope you will choose the later. All the very best.

Mehta Chowk AWAKENS

Mehta Chowk is a sleepy small town in Punjab, located approximately 70 Kms South East of the Pakistan Border (Dera Baba Nanak) strategically aligned to the much discussed Kartarpur Corridor. It sits 40 kms East of Amritsar on the road to Hoshiarpur.  What does Mehta Chowk have in common with the some residents of Delhi who lost their loved ones in the Uphaar Cinema Tragedy on 13 June 1997? It makes me wonder, well……… there is a lot.

Remembering CAPTAIN MANJINDER SINGH BHINDER of the 61st Cavalry who selflessly saved over 150 lives on that day in 1997, when a raging fire broke out in the Uphaar Cinema in New Delhi. Even after he realised that his four-year-old son, Ruskin and wife Jyot-Roop were engulfed in the inferno and could not be saved, Capt Bhinder jumped back into the fire and took charge like a true Army officer to guide panic- stricken women and children through the dim-lit and narrow stairway to safety, till flames engulfed him. Indian Army lost one of its finest officer and horse-rider. He had just won the National Games equestrian event in Mysore and was considered a strong prospect for the 1998 Asian Games.

The story doesn’t end there. Parents of Capt Manjinder Bhinder had to fight Ministry of Defence for the pension they were entitled to, who hung on to the technicality that Capt Bhinder had not been fighting enemies. He was fighting fire even while the army had declared his death “attributable to military service”. After seven years of litigation, the Delhi High Court told the MoD that a Soldier is ON DUTY ROUND THE CLOCK, and ordered a special family pension for Manjinder’s parents.

21 years later, after this tragedy in Delhi, the residents of Mehta Chowk had something to recount, remember and rejoice Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder on whose memory stands a Memorial Gate and a Stadium in this small town. Alas……a few things had changed in the past two decades. Capt (Hony) Vardeep Singh, father of Bhinder had lost his eye sight due to Glaucoma and Veermata Gurnam Kaur had grown much feeble and weak looking towards the entrance of their house expecting the return of their gallant son one fine day.

The mother’s heart was filled with immense joy and it appeared that happiness and festivities had once again dawned at the ‘Bhinder House’, when they were visited by their son’s course mates who spent time with the ailing parents and remembering their fallen mate with those who gathered……relatives and friends at Mehta Chowk.

Brigadiers Vikramjit Singh Gill, Sunil Dalal, Gagan Baath and Colonel Gurdip Gill along with their wives paid homage to their fallen course mate at Mehta Chowk on 09 December 18 . The news of their arrival energised the village and around 40 people gathered at their house in no time. The two sisters who lived at Chandigarh and Batala had also reached their home. The villagers, neighbours and well-wishers were treated to tea and snacks organised by these Defence Officers, who had made these arrangements so as to not upset the rhythm at home and spend more time with the family of their course mate.

The hearts of the parents were filled with pride but the eyes of the visitors filled with tears when the Mother said that – “Happiness walked into our house for the first time in 21 years. We are eternally indebted. For so many years I waited and hoped for my son to walk into this very door, but today, after so long I saw my son the tall Sardar walking in straight and I felt as if my son has come back to me.”

This outreach program is a part of the AFWS91 Society which is a trust formed by the 78 NDA, 88 Regular and 71 Tech course. The trust has made it a point to visit and be with the parents / spouses/ NOK of all the 19 of their course mates who have lost their lives in operations and other tragedies in life.

This is the same Team that had earlier helped transport the mortal remains of their course mate 2Lt ET Joseph from Nagaland to his hometown in Kerala undertaking a massive logistic operation two years back duly assisted by the Army authorities.

These acts are the efforts to let each of the team members know that their loved ones will always be taken care of, much after the gallant warriors leave this earth in the call of their duty.

Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder…………Amar Rahe!

And three cheers to the Band of Brothers of 78-88-71!

Forces Network: A Network that Truly Works, Cares and Helps

Every person who serves the country in uniform, especially those from the Defence Forces lead a nomadic life, cocooned in their cantonments, service culture and ethos. It is a great life full of adventure, mental toughness, physical courage, many times separated from your loved ones…..but it is good as long as you serve the flag of the country. And somewhere in their mid-life many of them have to seek a life outside the Forces when their career growth hits a plateau due to the Defence Forces steep pyramidal structure. This is the point where many of them find themselves literally at sea.

Col Iqbal Singh

Col Iqbal Singh a Veteran, currently working in a senior role in a large telecom MNC based at New Delhi created an online professional community a decade back. In the 11 years of its existence this Network known as the Forces Network has quietly grown into a very strong global community that helps each other to transition to a civilian life in a friction-less manner. It has informed, educated and engaged its members about life in the corporate world and how to prepare for it. Every commissioned officer from the three defence services, serving or retired can be a member of this elite group but has to be recommended by an existing member. The process is simple and one has to fill out some details by email. There are no costs at all.

While the Network primarily exists to help any Fauji who needs any kind of assistance wherever possible in any place in the world, it regularly conducts seminars and workshops, to educate, to reinvent and to reskill the Faujis who are seeking a second career. Their workshops at DGR sponsored resettlement courses in reputed B Schools are very impactful. In the past Col Iqbal’s Forces Network has conducted immensely popular and well attended seminars in major cities with various themes. Since 2015 they have been conducting seminars at regular intervals.  The one conducted at Bangalore in September this year which was titled – “Adapt to Win”.   They conducted another successful seminar at New Delhi in Jun 2018 titled ‘Stretch: To Stay Relevant”. Last year it was “Getting Future Ready”. These seminars are addressed by leaders from the industry. It is an honour to hear directly from the giants in the Corporates like Jey Venugopal, CTO, Myntra, Avnish Sabharwal, MD, Accenture Ventures, and many others about their success mantras and how we need to evolve with times.

Faujis are by nature entrepreneurs who work with minimal resources and are adept at juggling the meagre resources be it money, men or material and they are very good at Innovation to ensure success. This streak will further be strengthened by the upcoming seminar by Forces Network titled “A World of Opportunities” on Dec 9, 2018 at Dwarka. Mr. Deep Kalra, Chairman & Group CEO of Makemytrip would be addressing at the seminar along with seven other leading lights of the industry where the focus would be on how to leverage the entrepreneurial strength of the Faujis. It shall also highlight how we could use flexi or remote or freelance working and get into unique professions not thought of before. This would interest the spouses and children of the Faujis too. The seminar is open to all including those not a member of the Network including civilians. To register you have to click on the Registration Link :

https://www.townscript.com/e/forces-network-a-world-of-opportunities-seminar-new-delhi-09-dec-2018-404022

This seminar would also give an opportunity to be mentored by experienced leaders. I would strongly recommend all Faujis to utilize this golden opportunity to listen, learn and prepare yourself for the future. May be your spouses and wards too would benefit a lot form the wisdom shared by the industry leaders.

You could share this info with all whom you feel may benefit now and would give them the clarity and vision to plan their life better for their second innings.

Come Get Inspired, Find your Calling and Network.

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