Inclusion Circle at Vindhya

Nayan R
December 2, 2023

Vindhya e-Infomedia, an organization known for its unique motto, has added yet another feather to its cap by hosting its very first inclusion circle in its corporate office, Bangalore. There were no agenda or action items to be followed. Idea was to listen, absorb and embrace the collective wisdom brought out by all the attendees. The discussion was about the power of giving and how everyone can be great at giving and thereby achieve inclusivity. Event saw numerous attendees from various places who work towards their mission of making India an inclusive nation.

The event began with a prayer song and Mr. Nipun Mehta lighting the lamp, followed by a short introductory speech by Ms. Priyanka.

Inspiring Stories!

Being an inspiration!

A person can do wonders when he is inspired. Ms. Yeshoda was the first person to share her story and that was nothing short of inspiring. She didn’t let hearing and speech impairment deter her from following her dreams. She was one of the two employees of Vindhya in its initial days. With her never-say-die attitude, she impressed and convinced Ms. Pavithra YS, founder and MD of Vindhya, to employ her and learn sign language in order to break the barriers between them. For the past 11 years, she has inspired and cheered many hearing and speech impaired employees and is looked up as a role model by many. She is the sole reason behind sign language being announced and used as the official language in Vindhya. One can always find her happy, bubbling with energy, smiling and more importantly, she passes that positive vibe to everyone around her. She makes everyone feel that they are no different.

Braving all the odds and win!

The next speaker, Mr. Sreenivasulu, moved everyone with his story of conquering all the odds of his life. As a physically challenged person, he faced difficulties in doing chores that made his family members judge him and rebuke at him for being of no use. They didn’t see beyond what he lacked of. He was clouded by doubts on his chances of leading a dignified and an economically independent life. His never-say-no attitude pushed him to apply for the post called for by Vindhya. He was selected and since then, there was no turning back. He, who knew only to switch on and off the system then, now has mastered his office works in no time. He is happy that he can live off on his own earnings now and that has given the much needed confidence to face the world. He has proved that he is second to none and is leading a dignified life. He is the best example of the saying, “It’s not altitude but your attitude that determines your height!”

On being Wounded healers!

It was time for Mr. Nipun to speak on how a wounded being can also be good at healing. He quoted, “everyone is good at something; but everyone can be great at giving” and shared few examples of how can it be practiced. Sumanth, who travels by bus, wouldn’t be offered seat reserved for physically challenged people voluntarily by others who would be using it. In another case, a 100% visually impaired person wearing specs, Trinath will always offer his seat when people unaware of his impairment ask him for his seat. And, he is happy about it. No regrets. How great he is at giving!

Nipun shared another example of giving- When Mother Teresa was repeatedly asked to change posture of her head for a picture until the other person who posed with her was satisfied, she patiently posed without showing any sign of displeasure. One of the onlookers accused the person of troubling Teresa to which she replied, “There are many kinds of poverty. When somebody wishes to change the position of head, it means he is in need of it and I am ready to give it to him as he wishes.” This is the act of giving at its unadulterated form!

All of us are leaders and all of us can also be wounded healers! – Trinath

Next, he shared a story on how prisoners in US, guilty of murdering, formed a circle and discussed about their deeds. They discussed about how long they have been in jail and how long was the moment of rage that pushed them to commit the crime. In came various answers like 2 minutes/ 20 minutes/ few hours of rage. When speaking about each prisoner contributing to the circle, one said,” People hurt me. I hurt people” Hurt people; hurt people, was his logic. But, seeing it in another dimension gives it whole new meaning- “hurt people; heal people”. When faced with such situations, always remember Gandhiji’s words, “always oppose the action; never oppose the person”. Value of a person is always greater than the value of his actions. Thus, though wounded, all of us can turn into healers, keeping this in mind.

Heal the wound with soothing touch of wildlife!

In US, Steve Karlin was so attached to wild creatures that he takes care of the hunted animals. He strongly believed that they must be taken care of well and in return, they would show humans the same amount of kindness they were bestowed with. They had the power to heal the wounds of the humans with their touch of love. To quote an incident, a boy who was deemed to be too difficult to handle, was directed to Steve. He nurtured a little horse named Thunder. The boy and Thunder met. Boy was surprised to see thunder looking at him constantly. When Steve reasoned that it was since thunder likes the boy, he couldn’t believe it. Soon, boy started weeping and when thunder sensed it, it immediately buried its head on the boy’s chest. The boy was taken aback by this gesture as he was never ever loved by anyone, not even by his parents. This is the power of giving! It could heal a deeply wounded heart and soul. Everyone can be good at giving. We just have to find the waves and amplify it.

Tapping into your humility!

In one of the inclusion retreats, when people were asked to walk around blindfolded, visually impaired people volunteered to assist others and formed a chain with wheel chair bound people and walked around with them. It was completely a spontaneous act of giving helping hands to others. All of us must try to tap into that spontaneous spirit of trusting people and humility.

Embrace the unknown!

Nipun and his wife went on a walking pilgrimage in Gujarat. The main aim was to embrace the unknown – eat whatever they get, sleep wherever possible. On the way, they met with an old lady and a man. The lady had sensed their thirst and offered water and food. Old man enquired Nipun where he was coming from and he couldn’t clearly understand what Nipun said. Nipun repeated, “I am coming from Ahmedabad, around 120 kms from here”. Old man said, “Seems you haven’t really got the sense of coming on a pilgrimage for you are still keeping track of the distance.” A moment of revelation for Nipun as he understood carrying a baggage from past will not help you in your journey of embracing the unknown. When you could achieve that, you would become great at giving and a healer.

Tapping into the sense of inclusion!

All of us must strive hard to establish an affinity with surrounding people that will give a solid base from where you can bounce back even when you fall hard. Inequalities exist in this world and being humble, open, kind hearted, compassionate opens the doors to be wounded healers and to be inclusive. All of us must tap into that inclusion to make this world a better place to live. Aim to be a compassionate pioneer in this world.

Thus, Mr. Nipun ended his inspiring speech. Next, few of the attendees shared their reflections on inclusion.

Best example of inclusion- Gandhiji

Gandhiji has always maintained that in a way all of us are servants and it is people who make him a leader. He leads others and his primary duty is to serve with compassion, transparent and honest. So, leadership qualities must be encouraged and each of us must be encouraged to participate in leadership.

Next came the Question & Answer session where Nipun was asked about his point of view of real connection in the presence of technology. In a survey by Google, out of internet, mobile and sense of taste what would people give up, shockingly, sense of taste emerged winner. Nowadays people are connected through mobile and internet, but the sense of deep and physical connection is lost. More connection with technology means more isolation from people. We must re-imagine a way to stay connected, completely, using technology.

Next, Ms. Priyanka recalled an incident which made her realize the power of giving and the joy in giving. In an inclusive retreat, during team discussion, she repeated what others spoke to the chief guest, Mr. Tom who was slightly hearing impaired. Tom was thrilled as he didn’t miss out anything that was discussed there. She was glad to have been of use at the time of need. That is the power of giving!

Next, Ms. Pavithra shared a story about an autistic employee of Vindhya at Hyderabad office. Initially, he was reluctant to mingle and never uttered a word out to her. But she decided to give him a chance! After mingling with fellow differently-abled people, he slowly began to feel at home and their friendly, kind approach changed him for good. Now, he is no more that old, reserved person that he was. He wakes up early, quickly completely his tasks and completely changed the way he looked at his life and others. A chance given has reversed his life entirely! That is the power of giving, again!

Where there is a will, there is a way!

Next speaker was Mr. Srinivas, once a receptionist in Vindhya but now, an Executive Manager. There is an awe-inspiring story behind his growth. He was as normal as anyone before an unfortunate encounter with electric wire resulted in him having his hands only till elbow. With that all his hopes were shattered and he became home bounded. Never had the courage to come out and try for a job but he hoped that he could do fine in any given job. He wanted to lead a normal life- job, earning to support his needs and a lovely family for himself. To realize this dream, he knew he had to work hard. After 2 years, he applied for the receptionist post in Vindhya. None believed that he would be suitable for that post since it demands actions like making calls, answering calls, managing people and noting down people who approach and the like. He was hopeful that he could learn and do it all with ease. After getting selected, he learnt to do every work without any assistance. He never let his shortcoming stop him from doing any task. That is the power of hope he had on his caliber. And now, he has grown up to the level of Executive Manager without whose knowledge, nothing happens in the office! Now, he is a happy man, husband to his lovely wife and a doting father to his 2 kids! Hope is all that he had and it magically transformed his life for better.

All is well in the end, if not, it isn’t the end!! Hope!

Next was Ms. Vasantha from Meenakshi Venkatram foundation, Hyderabad, who recalled an incident which gave her joy in giving. As part of foundation, they offer hearing aids to newborns that are in need of it. Working towards early intervention to avoid hearing and speech impairment, she feels that the sight of kids who use hearing aids, with a bright smile on their face having able to listen to sound for the first time, is a sight to behold and it gives immense satisfaction and joy to her! A small gesture has very great and life changing impact on many!

Final touch was given by Mr. Nipun who said, “Working out of empathy or sympathy wouldn’t bring smile. Only the touch of kindness and compassion brings smile on the face and let it shine bright!” So, we must reach out far, connect, and create family thriving on affection, kindness and joy! That is the magic potion that makes your world a better place to live for all!!

Inclusion circle came to an end with volunteers offering each person with an Orgami leaf to write our fear that we wish to overcome soon and a heart to take back home! And of course, a group picture to mark an end to this first-of-its-kind, enriching inclusion circle at Vindhya!!