How “Human” are you?


One day in October 1998, two girls were attacked by a man in a train in Mumbai. He tried to grab their purses. They resisted. He got so angry that he pushed them out of the running train. One of the girls, Jayabala Ashar by name, fell under the train and its wheel cut off both her legs. 

There were three other girls in the same compartment at this time. None of them helped these two girls. Later, the police and the parents of Jayabala appealed to these girls on television, the radio and in the newspapers to come forward to help the police. They never did. Probably they were ashamed of the cowardice they had shown on the train. They committed a second act of cowardice to cover up the first.

Ashnu Singh (25) and her friends Preeti (23) and Gayatri (23) were, on 28 May 1999, outside a cinema hall in Connaught Place in New Delhi. Two youths snatched the bag of Ashnu, and ran away. Three policemen on duty refused to help her. The three girls chased the youngsters, tackled them, got the bag back and handed the young-men over to the police

Suhasini Mistri used to sell vegetables and fish near Park Circus in Kolkata. In the evening she worked as a house maid. She was so poor she could look only after only the eldest of her four children, who helped her sell vegetables. The other three were placed in government run homes, and they studied. Suhasisni suffered as she helplessly watched her husband die of a heart attack, unable to pay for medical treatment.

 One son, Ajay, became a doctor. In 1992 she put together all her saving of 21 years Rs. 40000 – and bought a piece of land that her husband used to cultivate. There she started a thatched-roof hospital for the poor. Inspired by her hard work and dedication, her children and several doctors helped her, and today her ‘Humanity Hospital’ serves the sick among the poorest people of the area. It also sustains a number of self-help groups.

In November 1998 a shoe-shine boy found in the Parasuram Express a bundle containing Rs. 25000. That is more money than he could expect to earn in years of shining shoes. But he handed the money over to the police because he did not want anything that did not rightly belong to him.

Mother Teresa became one of the greatest heroines of our times. She was not always the ‘saint of gutters’ as she came to be known later. She was at first a member of a society that runs a famous school in Kolkata. One evening, as she was walking down the street, she heard a woman crying out for help. She took a decision on the spot. Mother took the woman home. Later that night, she dies in the comfort of mother’s loving arms.

Mother then took another courageous step. She decided to come out of the convent and begin a new chapter in her life. She decided to live only for the poorest people of her neighbourhood. A simple woman, not very talented or qualified, a foreigner with no money, she had the courage to take the risk. She knew what God wanted her to do and she did it.

In May 2004, Shweta Narang, a pretty girl of Indore, married Captain Mayal Acharya. Shweta was a Punjabi, Malay was Bengali. They met when Malay went to visit his sister at Indore. The two became friends and kept up a steady correspondence. In February 2002, Malay was injured in the course of ‘Operation Parakram’ on the border with Pakistan. He became paralyzed from the waist down. Despite opposition for all her parents and other family members Shweta decided to go ahead and marry this paralyzed e-soldier.

What makes some people capable of doing what they know to be right, despite the great sacrifices their actions will cost them?

Humanity in little things

No one is born great. They become great. They become capable of great sacrifices when they are grown up because they made small sacrifices when they were growing up.

The history of the world is the story of people who did great things. But first they did small things extraordinarily well. When Gandhi was young he was able to overcome the temptation to eat something that was forbidden by his parents. Many little acts of this kind gave him the strength later in life to face far greater challenges.

If you really want to grow up to be great one day, the next time you have to make a choice, choose for what is right even if it means a little sacrifice to you. Keep doing that every time and one day you will become someone to be remembered in history.

Be human in your own way

When we read biographies of great people, every book makes us want to become similar to the great person we are reading about. Every good film we see leaves us wanting to imitate the hero or heroine. Everyone admires Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. But we do not need to be the Mahatma or the Mother to come great. We need to be great in our own way.

Shikha Jain of Imphal, Manipur, was injured in a bomb blast on November 10, 1994. She became paralyzed from the waist down. She was studying in Jain Mahavir Higher Secondary School where Sharda Jain, her mother, was a teacher. From 1994 till 2003 Sharda Jain carried her daughter daily to and from the school. In 2004 Shikha wrote her higher secondary examinations. When the results were declared everyone was overjoyed to find that Shikha had topped the list of commerce students of the entire state.

In 1999 Vinita Singhania gave birth to Anshuman. It was evident right from his birth that the boy was mentally retarded. Only a year later a second tragedy struck Vinita when her husband died after a heart attack. But Vinita made a decision. She resolved that she and her child would lead a normal life, with dignity, and head held high. She became so successful in educating Anshuman that today she even take classes for other parents who have mentally retarded children.

Shikha Jain, her mother Sharda Jain, and Vinita Singhania deserve to be considered heroines of our day. They showed what can be called the “I CAN” attitude. They did not sink into despair at the tragedies that befell them. They faced the difficulties that came their way and dealt with them to live normal lives.

Convictions of your own

The tea garden workers of Champaran were treated very badly by their British planters. Gandhiji went to study their problems. Someone reported to him, “The planter at this place is very bad. He has hired people to kill you in secret.”

One night Gandhiji went to the house of the planter and said, “I hear that you want to kill me. I have come to your house all alone. No one knows I am here. If you like, you can kill me right now.”

The poor planter stood there, completely stunned.

A person knows clearly what is right and wrong. That gives him the courage to decide well. We must choose for ourselves what we want to do. It is not enough to do the right thing only when parents or teachers ask us to. We must not do all that our friends ask of us when we know that what they are asking us is wrong.

Many people know what is right. Not all of them have the strength of will to do what is right.

Be optimistic

“LIFE IS EITHER A DARING ADVENTURE OR NOTHING,” says Helen Keller. She was not discouraged by her handicaps (she was deaf, dumb and blind!). She proved herself a heroine.


We should not be afraid of failure. But neither should we jump into danger without thinking. A wise man makes a quick study of the situation, and of his capacities and limitations, and then decides what to do. Anyone who does something for the first time is taking some risk. “Risk-taking is the essence of innovation”, declared Herman Kahn.


Magician PC Sorkar (Junior) was very poor in Mathematics. His score used to be even as low as five or six marks. He considered himself lucky when he passed matriculation. He became as great a magician as his father.

Almost everyone in the family of Suvaprasanna was a doctor and they wanted him also to become one. But he passed his matriculation only with great difficulty. He went on to become a famous painter.

Narendranath scored only 47 in English, 38 in Mathematics and 45 in History at the High School Leaving Certificate examinations. But he became Swami Vivekananda that everyone knows about.

Deb Kumar Sarkar was a car racer. In 1992 he had an accident and his left leg was amputated. He refused to accept defeat. “Passion does not get affected by difficulties, and driving is my passion,” he said. In November 2004 he took part in the inaugural India-ASEAN Car ralley, an 8000 kilometre drive over treacherous roads.

How prepared are you to be an honest human?

  • You are writing your examinations. You do not know the answer to a question. You do not ask you neighbor for the answer. But he shows it to you. Will you look at the answer?
  • How often do you deny yourself an ice-cream to give the money away to some hungry person on the street?
  • You see someone bullying a child. Will you go to help the child?
  • You accidentally broke something. You are sure no one saw you do it. Will you, all the same, tell your parents or your teachers about it?
  • Your friend asks you to do something you know is not right. Will you do it because he is your friend?


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