This article was first published on Madratgames.com on 27th April, 2016
Ask this question to yourself, your friends and maybe your parents. Have you visited your native place with your children? Have they seen the place where you have spent your childhood? Do your children have an idea about how their great grandparents lived, what they did and any specific memories of them? Our respect and our interest in our past will decide our answers to these questions. We all have a personal and family history, social/community history and national history followed by history at international / global level. In our rush towards the future, we are so deeply immersed in our present that the past becomes obsolete every day. We have no time and no interest in looking back as there are so many challenges ahead that are constantly calling for our attention. When we do so, are we doing the right thing?
I am reminded of “Three Box Solution” shared by Prof. Vijay Govindarajan where Box 1 represents The Present, Box 2 represents The Past and Box 3 represents The Future. This framework states that it is not possible for leaders to have a sound plan for the future without having a firm grip on the present and a proper understanding of the past. Out of the three boxes, Box 2 is the most challenging for leaders. It helps them to learn from mistakes and observe the obsolete trends to make changes for the future. We, as parents need to share our histories with our children.
Personal & Family History: When we share our own stories of challenges and victories with our children, they understand us better. These experiences remain with them when they start their journeys. There are strange connections with the roots and there are many hidden treasures which might inspire a new learning curve or a new outlook for life. Personal histories could be very inspiring to many, provided we know our histories. We hear a lot of personal history as learning experiences when we listen to achievers like Kiran Majumdar Shaw, Indra Nooyi or Steve Jobs. There is a lot of family history which has gone into the making of third/fourth generation business conglomerates/social-political leaders.
Social/Community History: We don’t give a lot of positive importance to our social/communal relevance. Each society/community has some life sustaining tools and traits that make them unique and successful in specific fields. As parents, we must share those traits and tools with our children to make them aware about their roots. A global mind-set should not neglect our social history.
Being a Marwari, I shared “Rajasthan An Oral History: Conversations with Komal Kothari” by Rustom Bharucha and “The Marwaris: From Jagat Seth to the Birlas” by Thomas Timberg with my 15 year old, so that she knows about amazing people who shared the same land, same landmarks but lived a meaningful life. This doesn’t mean that we want our children to look down upon other social cultures or to rigidly follow our own customs. It simply means to give them information and knowledge about their lineage, so that they could appreciate their ecosystem and be open about learning from other societies & communities too.
National History: Mugging up dates and years for our history exams is our only tryst with national history. We hardly remember the milestones or struggles of our country’s past which have created the present. We are so impressionable and gullible because we, as a nation, have not archived our historical facts well. Distortions, deviations in our history for petty benefits in the present are the political order of the day because we, as individuals have never respected our past. Since we don’t value it, we don’t bother to find out and share our true history. A generation which is clueless about our freedom struggle or glorious Indian discoveries is our failure as parents. We need to dwell deeper than paying symbolic salutes to our country by standing up on hearing our National Anthem. Watch “Veer Savarkar” or “Discovery of India” with your young kids. Read “My Experiences with Truth” with them.
To tick the second box well, we must stay tuned with our past to prepare a holistic third box. We can learn a lot from the vision of Infosys Co-Founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan, who has led a team to create an app, “ITIHAASA” to capture the history of India’s journey in Information Technology from 1950’s with insights into what will happen 25 years from now. As parents and leaders, let us respect our personal, social and national histories. Preserve the past and share it for a future that is brighter and savvier.
We have an additional responsibility of grooming our children and our teams well, so that they create a meaningful digital history. We need to make them aware about the importance of digital footprints that they are leaving casually online as these footprints will create an immediate but relevant history and irrevocable too.
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