Speech given at the orientation program for the new batch of MBA students Symbiosis, Pune, July 24, 2008

© ChetanBhagat Good Morning everyone and thank you for giving me this chance to speak to you. This day is about you. You, who have come to this college, leaving the comfort of your homes (or in some cases discomfort), to become something in your life. I am sure you are excited. There are few days in human life when one is truly elated. The first day in college is one of them. When you were getting ready today, you felt a tingling in your stomach. What would the auditorium be like, what would the teachers be like, who are my new classmates ² there is so much to be curious about. I call this excitement, the spark within you that makes you feel truly alive today. Today I am going to talk about keeping the spark shining. Or to put it another way, how to be happy most, if not all the time. Where do these sparks start? I think we are born with them. My 3-year old twin boys have a million sparks. A little Spiderman toy can make them jump on the bed. They get thrills from creaky swings in the park. A story from daddy gets them excited. They do a daily countdown for birthday party ² several months in advance ² just for the day they will cut their own birthday cake. I see students like you, and I still see some sparks. But when I see older people, the spark is difficult to find. That means as we age, the spark fades. People whose spark has faded too much are dull, dejected, aimless and bitter. Remember Kareena in the first half of Jab We Met vs the second half? That is what happens when the spark is lost. So how to save the spark? Imagine the spark to be a lamp·s flame. The first aspect is nurturing ² to give your spark the fuel, continuously. The second is to guard against storms. To nurture, always have goals. It is human nature to strive, improve and achieve full potential. In fact, that is success. It is what is possible for you. It isn·t any external measure ² a certain cost to company pay package, a particular car or house. Most of us are from middle class families. To us, having material landmarks is success and rightly so. When you have grown up where money constraints force everyday choices, financial freedom is a big achievement. But it isn·t the purpose of life. If that was the case, Mr. Ambani would not show up for work. Shah Rukh Khan would stay at home and not dance anymore. Steve Jobs won·t be working hard to make a better iPhone, as he sold Pixar for billions of dollars already. Why do they do it? What makes them come to work everyday? They do it because it makes them happy. They do it because it makes them feel alive Just getting better from current levels feels good. If you study hard, you can improve your rank. If you make an effort to interact with people, you will do better in interviews. If you practice, your cricket will get better. You may also know that you cannot become Tendulkar, yet. But you can get to the next level. Striving for that next level is important. Nature designed with a random set of genes and circumstances in which we were born. To be happy, we have to accept it and make the most of nature·s design. Are you? Goals will help you do that. I must

add. If we are lucky. If challenges could always be overcome. how will I write? Or rather. We are people. Set goals to give you a balanced. you may achieve the success. from what I have seen so far. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. will start to die. The teacher said ² don·t be serious. And 50 years is just 2. Do we really need to get so worked up? It·s ok. If the marble falls. Some IITians kill themselves over low grades ² how silly is that? But that is how much failure can hurt you. This is especially relevant in India. Balancedmeans ensuring your health. unfairness and loneliness of purpose. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions. However.500 weekends. sometimes things take so long that you don·t know if you chose the right goal. this feeling of being excited and alive. mental peace are all in good order. it is a marathon or whatever. as I thought they needed writers. Frustration saps excitement. I get thousands of opinions on my writing everyday. like I wanted to when nine publishers rejected my first book. successful life. And that·s where you want to be. balance and not taking it too seriously that will nurture the spark. I set the goal of writing for Bollywood. One last thing about nurturing the spark ² don·t take life seriously. as we are really temporary here. relationships. be sincere. Whether its my writing. If I take it all seriously. but those that do come out stronger. These must be guarded against. Else. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. You must have read some quotes ² Life is a tough race. I·ve told you three things ² reasonable goals. Disappointment· s cousin is Frustration. There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your breakup. One of my yoga teachers used to make students laugh during classes. fall in love. Have you ever been frustrated? It happens when things are stuck. No. that means you are at your limit or potential. These are disappointment. I am called extremely lucky. but it took me five years to get close to a release. there are four storms in life that will threaten to completely put out the flame. where health and relationships are the marble. and turns your initial . there is no point coming first. You will want to quit. There is heaps of praise. don·t just have career or academic goals. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. life is one of those races in nursery school. This quote has defined my work ever since. What did this failure teach me? is the question you will need to ask. And remember ² if you are failing at something. not programmed devices. Same with life. If things don·t go as planned or if you face failure. bunk a few classes. but this spark. Failure is extremely difficult to handle. the second storm. Disappointment will come when your effort does not give you the expected return. I use the word balanced before successful. But it·s life. there is intense criticism. my relationships or any of my goals. goof up a few interviews. my job. After books. how will I live? Life is not to be taken seriously. From traffic jams to getting that job you deserve. they would cease to be a challenge. One student asked him if these jokes would take away something from the yoga practice. You will feel miserable. where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. frustration. we may last another 50 years.

I have so much love from my readers that other writers cannot even imagine it. As you grow older you will realize you are unique.500 weekends. You cannot avoid them. What you want. Never. I welcome you again to the most wonderful years of your life. the spark dies. not only through college. as like the monsoon they will come into your life at regular intervals. but unfortunately that is how our country works. ever make that compromise. There are so few opportunities in India. But I also hope that ten years later as well. Thank You. to have an opportunity to go to college and understand this speech in English means you are pretty damm lucky by Indian standards. They do it for their family. Remember. There you go. nothing is to be taken seriously. you took it too seriously. but through the next 2. But realize. In fact. I will surely choose college.energy into something negative. That you will Keep the Spark alive. They give up something that meant so much to them. When you are little. It·s ok. And sometimes it is just plain luck. making you a bitter person. what you believe in. the last point that can kill your spark is Isolation. However. People with connections. Finally. but my whole country will keep that spark alive. As you grow older to college. seeking a certain enjoyment in the process rather than the end result ² at least I was learning how to write scripts. Frustration is a sign somewhere. Let·s be grateful for what we have and get the strength to accept what we don·t. Love yourself first. And you may drop some of them. frustration. but everywhere. but I have two boys who I think are more beautiful than her. beautiful faces. I don·t look like AishwaryaRai. But in doing that. you still are a lot like your friends. and then others. Merit and hard work is not always linked to achievement in the short term. travel can help you overcome it. How did I deal with it? A realistic assessment of the time involved ² movies take a long time to make even though they are watched quickly. your eyes will shine the same way as they do today. Don·t let unfairness kill your spark. pedigree find it easier to make it ² not just in Bollywood. and ultimately things do work out. but the long term correlation is high. I·ve told you the four thunderstorms ² disappointment. unfairness and isolation. what makes you feel. may be different from even the people closest to you. rich dads. so many stars need to be aligned for you to make it happen. But ten years later and you realize you are unique. having a side plan ² I had my third book to write and even something as simple as pleasurable distractions in your life ² friends. And there is something cool about saying ² I come from the land of a billion sparks. I don·t get literary praise. there will be some people luckier than you. as we really need it now more than any moment in history. This can create conflict as your goals may not match with others. Basketball captains in college invariably stop playing basketball by the time they have their second child. Unfairness ² this is hardest to deal with. And I hope not just you. . food. If someone gave me the choice to go back in time. It·s ok. You just need to keep the raincoat handy to not let the spark die. all kids want Ice cream and Spiderman.

given at November the HT 21. big budgets and tested formulas work while the biggest hits of the year could be Rock On and Jaane Tu. as we have all dreamt of that India. I am tempted to think we can make my country¶s dreams come true. And I¶m not just saying we need to do it because it is morally right/ ethically correct/ or because it sounds nice at a conference. not just in big cities but across India for the last five years. read. Before we become one with the world we have to become one with ourselves. They are the bulk of the population ± the bulk of our voter bank. To make India a prosperous. At best. Yes. Nobody wants a family festered with disputes. caste. To see India the way the younger generation wants to see it. I am no leader. drive and hard work alone has the ability to make it. . Two generations ago. Religion. For in a democracy. I am a dreamer with perseverance to make dreams come true. A lot is wrong in my country. The question is how do we fix it? Because to do anything great. Everyone wants to be friends with happy. what they are looking for is not what politicians are pitching. There are too many differences. where not only the spirit of patriotism. we have another greater cause. The first mindset change required is to change the politics of differences to the politics of similarity. our voting will change and the politicians will change. do I believe people¶s thinking can be changed. We all know that India. we elect the politicians. Where people don¶t ask where you come from. But Gandhi brought them all together for a greater cause ± to get the country free. And that is why I am here. If we get our own house in order we don¶t have to make an effort to be one with the world. looking down on elitism and the role of English. and it doesn¶t just start and end by blaming politicians. developed country. Where anyone with the talent. © ChetanBhagat Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. Today. And since I have made a nation that didn¶t read.BECOMING ONE WITH THE WORLD Speech Delhi. The world will want to be one with us. you have to become one first. times have changed. Yet. I¶ve been studying young people in India. rich. It is not too different from the old school Bollywood where they think item numbers. thriving neighbors. Thank you for the opportunity to speak at the leadership summit ± the first of its kind for me. Leadership Summit 2008 There is a lot required to be done for this. but also the standard of living is high. To get India its rightful place in the world. These three areas are changing the politics of differences to the politics of similarity. but where you are going. It isn¶t like we didn¶t have disputes then. We need to do it as it make sense from an incentives point of view. If our thinking changes. As I have made my own dreams come true already. community have existed for centuries. To me there are 3 main areas where I think we need to change our thinking ± leaders included. our forefathers came together to win us Independence. The question is not who we blame for this.

When someone tries to divide us. However. If a Muslim commits terrorist attack. how will these people ever come with us? Again. as we want to be remembered as the generation who took India forward. This means a large chunk of our most qualified. I see a huge disconnect in the political strategies of existing politicians vs. the number of good college seats are very limited. My books sell on railway stations and next to . famous. not the one that cut India into two dozen pieces. Don¶t validate the ridiculous. I think broad based infrastructure and economic development will satisfy the young generation¶s needs. highlight it as soon as a divisive voice appears. to college. If you find a moderate voice. From my early childhood days. And the youth want to keep it together. Unless we represent these people properly. who is going to change it? What is the point of discussing solutions to Indian problems if there is no buy-in from the common man? Just because it feels good to be around like-minded. Naive people who elect stupid politicians ± that is the bottomline for all Indian problems. but it doesn¶t mean they keep people sick and not heal them. Compared to the talent pool. Another aspect required to convert the politics of differences to the politics of similarities is a strong moderate voice. then some Marathis need to stand up and say person A is talking nonsense. connected and influential people prefer to live air-conditioned lives in their bubble of like minded people. But the moment any person becomes even moderately successful. if the thinking of the common people has to be changed. I have noticed a peculiar Indian habit of elitism. intelligent people? What is the use of this intelligence? If you switch on the TV. other Muslims should stand up and condemn it. The reason is the media is centered in these cities. to professional and business life. but the media does have a role in this. I am not making these points as a moral appeal. The second mindset we need to change is that of elitism. defending traditions. talented or even develops a fine taste. rich. and now in the publishing and entertainment circles. And the slot is waiting to be taken. Look at me.Here is what the politicians are pitching ± old fashioned patriotism. it doesn¶t take any coolness or trendiness away from you if you do it right. I agree that media is a business and TRPs matter above anything else. Doctors make money off sick people. Focus on the greater cause. argue or debate it. Here is what the youth wants ± better colleges. Mumbai and Bangalore. better role models. If person A is saying Non-Marathis should be attacked. However. Maybe it is hard to achieve anything in India. And don¶t take sides. Today a dynamic politician who takes this cause can achieve a far greater success than any regional politician. what could work for the new voters. experienced. I hate telling people what to do. they consider themselves different from the rest. people from the same community as the divider have to stand up against him. better jobs. there are ethics in every business. This moderate voice is sorely missing but is critical in keeping the country together. These wants are the biggest similarity that we all share. It isn¶t an easy goal to attain ± but it is the great cause that can unite us. seventy percent of the time you will see Delhi. as Hindus are going to condemn it anyway. caste and religion. But tell me. We all want the same things ± progress. and they want nothing to do with it. being the torchbearer of communities. educated. I am the mass-iest English author ever invented in India. ninety percent of India is not this. They begin to move in circles where the common people and their tastes are looked down upon. Same for good jobs. I think understanding India and being inclusive makes massive business sense. And trust me.

English and Hindi can coexist. If you agree with me. If you have good taste. on orkut the most common words associated with my name are coolness and awesomeness ± tags given by my wonderful readers. English teaching classes are the biggest draw. But today I wanted to leave you with just three thoughts ± politics of similarities. I have an Indian publisher who operates from the bylanes of Darya Ganj. Not England. We have to embrace English like never before. but English. Hindi is the mother and English is the wife. If you are making an effort to start a school where none existed. And if more English helps spread prosperity evenly across the country. Yes. And yet. We are all passionate about making India better. I can teach a villager geometry and physics in Hindi. It could be just a discussion with all your friends. There is massive demand for something that will improve people¶s lives. but the fact is it works in the world of today. I know some may say what will happen to Hindi and our traditional cultures. I have no special soft spot for this language. please do whatever you can in your capacity to make the consensus happen. You may have planned your next vacation abroad. trust me we will preserve our culture a lot better than a nation that can barely feed its people. but have you visited a small town lately? Have you shown your kids what the real India is like? Don¶t you think they will need to know that as they grow up and enter the workforce. It is possible to love them both. but frankly when he goes to look for a job he is going to find that education useless.atta in Big Bazaar. or spreading these thoughts in a broader manner. if you have the means and power to do so. If you go to small towns. Yes. but I am not talking about confining English to the classes. . Let¶s see what we can give back to our nation. improve others taste rather than calling theirs bad. why not give the people what will help them most. For the fact that we are sitting in this wonderful venue means our country has been kind to us. educate others. I want people to look down on elitism and develop a culture of inclusiveness. If you are educated. This point may sound contradictory to my previous one. India already has a headstart as so many Indians speak English and we don¶t have to get expat teachers like China does. But we must not confuse patriotism with the skills one needs to compete in the real world. districts and even villages ± we need to spread English. but really taking it to the grassroot level. I think it is cooler to know how people think in the streets of Indore and Raipur than who¶s walking the ramp in South Mumbai. I want to ask these people to pull their kids out of English medium schools and then talk. English will get him a job. so we can discuss this forever. In small towns. The last aspect where we need to change our thinking is our attitude to English. less elitism and more English that we need to build consensus on.

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