IntroductionLook around what is going on around us. It is not that only the rich and the famous are the most influential people. They are not necessarily the best of opinion leaders. We then discover that only those with good value systems, with extremely good moral values and a history of impeachable honesty and integrity, are those who stand out. The entire world wants to listen to them. We are often inspired by such people.
What makes them click? What can we learn from them, so that we enlarge our circle of influence? It turns out we can enlarge our circle of influence, by and through a) Volunteering to take up local social causes b) Involving college and school students in constructive social action c) Intelligent and apolitical use of social media d) Networking with different agencies and e) Becoming a subject matter expert.
Volunteering to take up local social causesDecades ago, a very young officer of the Indian Overseas Bank was aghast at the kind of filth he saw around him in Chennai. He decided to do something about it immediately. He founded an organization called ExNoRa international, that to this day, is active in making parts of Chennai clean. His name is Mr. Nirmal.
This was a voluntary organization and was funded only through voluntary contributions. This organization does not accept any Government aid and is in the forefront of environment protection through tree planting, effective use of water resources and so on. This organization would never had happened and neither would Mr. Nirmal have grown into what he is today, if he had not done the initial volunteer work of taking up social causes. It is not only in Chennai that this organization is active. It is quite active in other parts of India too. Hence, the most important step in enlarging our circle of influence is to start taking up some social cause on a voluntary basis. Once this happens and more people start understanding the volume and intent of our work, we will be easily able to enlarge our circle of influence.
Involving school and college students in constructive social actionMany volunteer groups throughout the country are now very much active in pointing out the dangers related to communalization of religion. This has active student support as well. It is now spreading like wildfire as many have realized that it is wise and also meaningful to keep our flock together and prove to the world that all religions in India have the same respect and not one religion alone.
The dangers to the secular fabric of the nation are not lost on the college students. They are on the streets. They are actively supporting a growing tribe of local apolitical social activists who are rallying the people to emphasize the need to maintain at any cost. We also need to guard against any tendency to show off or use the support that we get for selfish purposes. Once this happens, we are likely to lose all respect. Enlarging our circle of influence should always happen through the most effective ethical means possible. Social causes are of a complex kind. If farmers are affected, they will naturally raise in protest. It is also essential that we preserve the core of our agricultural sector and not destroy the same through what might be called as industrial development. Ill-advised and possibly the worst sort of development have been put into place in several pockets of India, when the most polluting industries have come up on rich agricultural lands. We can easily enlarge our circle of influence by taking up such good social causes and spreading the message among local college and school children. Once the intent is clear and the sincerity is seen, student support will follow
Intelligent and apolitical use of social mediaWhile this author does not know what happens in other parts of India, it can safely be said that caste differences among most of urban youth in the entire urban Tamil Nadu, is on the wane. It is commonly observed that the social media and the extraordinary spread of education, where at least one person would be a graduate in every family, has resulted in a situation where abolition of the worst form of untouchability is gone forever. People meet at all places. People exchange ideas on social media and are very much influenced by them. Since the literacy levels are so high, any attempt to prove the supremacy of one caste or community over the others, is now met with the strongest resentment. The YouTube videos in Tamil, where since point is countered with facts and figures, is quickly out on social media and the voices of those who tend to create some mischief, are silenced forever in the sharp reactions.
This collective identity, which has the pride in the Tamil language as the main focus, irrespective of caste or creed or religion or economic status, had found a massive expression in the form of protest at the Marina beach at Chennai, some years ago, in support of Jallikattu, a traditional Tamil sport involving the taming of bulls during the pongal festival. It had massive support from across all age groups and some five lakh people in protest made the State Government come up with an ordinance.
The entire protest was apolitical. It became internationally famous too. This is exactly the kind of protest or expression of dissent that we need in today's conditions.
Networking with different agencies Today, we have NGOs and individuals who are always keen to contribute to social causes. For example, there is a Good Samaritan in Coimbatore, who gives the poor and the really destitute, a decent burial. He has the support of the police and at least two volunteer organizations who can immediately mobilize material and manpower support in terms of students. It is also gratifying to note that the concerned students have the active support of their parents as well. Today, this gentleman is known throughout the city of Coimbatore and is able to positively influence so may minds. Hence, we need the support of different agencies, in the process of enlarging our circle of influence.
Becoming a subject matter expertOne can easily count the numerous videos of the famous historian, Ramachandra Guha, who is now a fabulous expert on so many pressing social issues. Similarly, Dr. Raghuram Rajan has voiced his concern on the state of the economy. The former economic advisor to the Government of India, Dr. Aravind Subramaian, has also talked on the economy, with facts and figures.
Becoming a subject matter expert is not easy. It requires a great deal of hard work and systematic research into data pertaining to any social issue. For example, even those who are housewives, have taken to YouTube and showcased their culinary skills, particularly those pertaining to the preparation of a wide variety of vegetarian dishes. When the public understands the intrinsic merit of such inputs, the results will always be good. We need to look around for several such opportunities. Of course, becoming a subject matter expert would require several years of hard and systematic hard work. This step is for the long-term.
ConclusionGiven the complexities of our social lives, it is but essential that our efforts at enlarging our circle of influence should have focus, honest intent and purpose. When this is done, all other things can fall in place. Of course, the finer details of the steps involved might change in every individual person's case. This is perfectly in order and it will also throw up many good lessons in the process.
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A good article from the author. The tips he has given are really excellent and they will help definitely in increasing our circle of influence.
If we take up small works in our area, people slowly notice and other people who are interested will join us and our mission will get expanded. This will definitely give a big scope for our circle to get widened. Similarly, if we start helping the needy in our area to the extent possible without much effect on our pocket, our circle will get increased.
If we have specialised knowledge and when we interact with many government authorities also we will get noticed by them and once they are impressed with us they will try to involve us in many activities and we will know many people and our circle will increase.
I have seen in some villages some young people form small associations and they organize events which are useful to the village. Then that group of people will get noticed by those villagers and they will have a very good circle in that village.