Cracking the life code

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INTERVIEW Rather than join the rat race, IIT graduates Khurshed Batliwala and Dinesh Ghodke set up the World Alliance For Youth Empowerment. And, got satisfaction in return

K hurshed Batliwala has learnt to have his cake and eat it too. He is one of the few men who gets what he wants, and gives back to society what it needs. He is an IIT graduate who has never taken up a job.

He is one of the directors of the World Alliance for Youth Empowerment (WAYE) and a co-founder of “Yes!+” or the “Youth Empowerment and Skills Workshop” with his junior from IIT, Dinesh Ghodke. The “Yes!+” workshop, (under WAYE) is for youngsters between 18 and 30 years across the world. They also train youngsters who would like to teach.

Making the right choices

“The workshop is a life skills programme. It helps youngsters figure out how to make the right choices, how to think long term and it also strives to make leaders of them. Through the workshop, they also learn how to get rid of their inhibitions and barriers and get over habits such as substance abuse that don't really help them,” says Khurshed.

“Basically what we have in mind is, why do you want to lead the life you have to lead when you can lead the life you want to lead?”

More than one lakh youngsters have done the workshops in India. The workshops have been conducted in and testified by a whole array of institutions and organisations, including the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Google, NASA, Cornell University, Virginia Tech and IBM.

“Unfortunately, Google does not answer everything. It is still not equipped to. Youngsters today are full of energy and enthusiasm. They are idealistic, but are pained by corruption, violence and suffering in the world. They want to do something,” explains Dinesh.

The techniques taught in the workshop are a combination of breathing techniques and life skills such as leadership and communication. The organisation has worked on a lot of youth-led initiatives, including supporting the UNEP in their ‘Mission Green Earth Project' and working on the ‘Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna Project' cleaning the Yamuna. They have also spearheaded a ‘Donate a Book' programme to raise funds for underprivileged children, apart from donating books to aboriginal and tribal children in India, Australia and Europe.

Varied interests

Khurshed loves to cook. He keeps a blog ( where he puts up his own recipes. He also plays the piano. Ask him why he prefers not to do a regular job, and pat comes the reply: “Considering I've never taken up a job, I am not qualified to answer that question. But, I think I found something that made me and others happy. No job can do that.”

Dinesh says: “I was working in a software company where I was coding programmes. But by being a teacher of the ‘Yes!+', I'm able to contribute 100 times as much. The fulfilment that comes from changing lives is immeasurable. My journey with ‘Yes!+', since its inception in 2005, has taken me to more than 32 countries. I have met so many different kinds of people, including Presidents and Prime Ministers.”

According to Khurshed, “All young people are confused and need direction; they don't know where to get it from.” How do they grow doing what they do? “Ask any teacher who's passionate about teaching,” replies Khurshed. “The practices that we teach uplift you and make you feel good. It is not something temporary; it lasts.”

Dinesh did a similar workshop when he was in college. “These practices helped me excel in every aspect of life. It enhanced my performance as a sportsman in college. I grew closer to the people I loved, and learnt to care for the people I did not. I performed well academically, and I was good at work. The regular practice of the breathing technique does that to you. It's not much of an effort to make it a daily practice. I still look forward to doing it every day.”

At the crux of the workshop lies spirituality. “Spirituality is something that enhances everything you do — be it love, money, beauty or creativity. It makes you excel both in life and in work. Your career and life begin to balance naturally,” says Dinesh.

“You need it for the same reason that you need to pull back an arrow before releasing it, and for the same reason that a tree needs to grow deeper if it needs to be stronger. If you spend a little time by yourself to meditate every day, your intuition develops, along with your intelligence. Then, it is easier to make decisions. That gives you a natural edge,” says Khurshed.

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