Loving Your Mother Tongue and Being Parochial

Recently my wife and I were travelling from Bengaluru to Bhubaneswar by a flight operated by a leading private airline in India. While flight took off, we were told by an announcement that the Pilot, Co-Pilot, and three of the cabin crew (out of the four cabin crew on that flight) were from Bengaluru. Then we were told that flight crew can speak in three languages i.e., English, Hindi and Punjabi! So all those who hailed from Bengaluru did not speak ‘Kannada’!!!!

This put me off a bit. But it is a true that many of the Bangaloreans do not speak Kannada. Go to any shop in a Mall in Bengaluru, you may have to converse in Hindi to communicate with the salesperson there (who is most likely from one of the North Eastern or Eastern States). Even many of the eating joints in these Malls, including those serving ‘Udupi’ dishes will have staff hailing from Nepal or from North Eastern or Eastern states.

Then, is it too much to expect people of Bengaluru to speak in Kannada? Then, is it not a fact that Bengaluru is a cosmopolitan city? Language, in a cosmopolitan environment, often takes a back seat and what becomes important is the act of communication with the sole purpose of getting the things done or to do business! As long as the person at the other end understands what you want to convey, it’s OK.

I am a Kannadiga but have spent most of my working life outside Karnataka. While I was in the North East, I was posted in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. I did not pick-up any Assamese, Khasi, Bengalee and Mizo while being there. Then I was posted at Kolkatta (it was Calcutta at that time) and managed well without learning Bangla (Kolkatta residents really love South Indians and go extra mile to make them comfortable!). Thereafter, I was posted in Hong Kong and then in Mauritius. In Mauritius, my kids picked up the local dialect, but not me. Next came my posting at Mumbai and in seven years I spent in Mumbai, I hardly picked up any Marathi.

Then I moved to Middleast, first Kuwait and then Qatar. I am yet to learn Arabic, though I did seriously try.  I am not proud of this fact but I am in good company, as most of the expats here do not understand or speak Arabic.

While learning the local language is very much desirable for outsiders, being parochial in this aspect may not be desirable at all. This is mainly because insistence on local language dealings might bring in obstacles in getting needed talents, in integrating with the global economy and ultimately in achieving progress. World is fast moving towards transacting in languages such as English, which is a foreign language to many. Yet, people learn English as it is the medium for higher education, language for computers and mobile handsets!

Let’s learn as many languages as possible but let’s also not force our language on others!

My Take on Self-Discipline!

In a discussion recently, I came across a phrase “Self-discipline leads to greater happiness”. Somehow that discussion did not last long but what lasted in my mind was this phrase!

Happiness or leading a “Happy Life” is, perhaps, the most important goal of most of us who toil on this planet earth. While happiness can be described in many ways, one can also draw a linear relationship (i.e., A relationship that occurs when variable quantities are directly proportional to one another) between “Peace” and “Happiness”. One is happy when there is peace! Now, “Peace” is a state where there are no disturbances or surprises. The best way to reduce disturbances or surprises is to practice self-discipline.

Mahatma Gandhi had said something very relevant here. He had said that “peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.” Peace, therefore, is within the realm of everyone and is not dependent on any outside factors. By exercising self-discipline, one can reduce surprises and disturbances and achieve peace and thereby, happiness!

Besides helping one to lead a happy life, self-discipline has another very important characteristic. It will not be incorrect to say that the success or failure of an individual is largely determined by the degree of self-discipline exercised by him. We have many instances. When Sachin Tendulkar started to play cricket, there were many who were equally good (I would not like to take names here). But it was only Sachin who made it to the top. Look at any great personality whom you admire, such as Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, or Mahatma Gandhi and you will see a person who excelled in self-discipline!

What Is Self-Discipline?

Self-discipline is a thing which everyone is aware of but may find it a bit difficult to describe. Self-discipline is, essentially, the ability to take action regardless of one’s emotional state. Self-discipline involves acting according to what one ‘thinks’ instead of how one ‘feels’ in the moment. Often, it involves sacrificing the pleasure and thrill of the moment for what matters most in life.

Self-discipline is, therefore,

(i) the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses;
(ii) the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.
(iii) the thing which gives one the power over one’s life.

In our day to day life, self-discipline drives us to:

(a) Work on an idea or project after the initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away
(b) Go to the gym when all you want to do is lie on the couch and watch TV
(c) Wake early to work on yourself
(d) Say “no” when tempted to break your diet
And so on…

How to develop self-discipline?

The Creator has given us all our share of self-discipline and now it is for us to develop what is already existing within us. May be the following tips will help:

1. Get Started Right Away : One of the best methods for building self-discipline is to simply get started. Often, the hardest part about doing something that you do not want to do is the fact that you have no momentum. It may seem like a daunting task. Take the first step, simply ‘force’ yourself to take action. It will feel uneasy at first, but once you get the momentum going, you will most likely start to feel the flow and build your self-discipline.

2. Complete what you have started: Self-discipline is taking the things to its logical conclusion. If there is any failure, self-disciplined will retry but never abandon the task. Lots of people come up with great business ideas. Few people actually make a business a success. Many people start writing a book. Few people actually publish one. Most individuals have a dream. Few fully realize it. As a general rule, we are good at starting things but we tend not to finish them.

3. Have a time schedule : A great tool for building self-discipline is to have a time-table. If you are finding it hard to get started on your professional studies, schedule 30 minutes every day for the next 7 days and stick to the time you dedicated to it. Before you know it, at the end of the week you would have spent 3 and a half hours in studies. However, if you can’t work for 30 minutes at the scheduled point in time, ensure you do it at an earlier or a later time. If it can’t be done that day, ensure you add an extra 30 minutes to the following day.

4. Be prepared to put in efforts: Nothing in this life is easy and to achieve one’s goals, one has to be prepared for some hard word. Self-discipline does involve exercising lots of determination, concerted efforts and having goals.

And Finally…..

Being self-disciplined is not easy but it is not too difficult either. It is definitely worth the trouble! Self-discipline has long been recognized as a positive trait that’s highly associated with a productive life and the achievement of personal goals. Aside from that, self-discipline has also been correlated with higher self-esteem, better academic competence, better relationships, and better coping with stress and frustrations. Let’s do it!