Social reform, and Me

Krishna Sharma (circa 2006)

krishnadvr@gmail.com
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US: +1 919 636 5472
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This website, SocialReform.info, is a sort of my personal blog. Here I discuss some of my ideas about social reform, which are born out of studying life and society from many angles, over the course of my life time. So, I think it would be appropriate and necessary to tell who I am and what made me put this site together.

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Education and Profession

I was born in 1958 in the village of Kavur near Kotappakonda in Andhra Pradesh, India. I studied up to Tenth Standard in my village elementary schools and high school, then completed Intermediate and B.Sc., with Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry in S.S.& N. College, Narasaraopet, also near Kotappakonda. Then I did M.Sc., in Mathematics & Computer Science at the University of Hyderabad.

My first job after education was as a Mathematics lecturer in KITS (Kakatiya Institute of Technology and Science), Warangal. After working there for one year, I switched to the Information Technology field, with my first job at ECIL (Electronics Corporation of India), Hyderabad. After working there for eight years, I moved to the USA, and worked in various companies, big and small, both as an employee and as a consultant, primarily in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Durham, North Carolina. My last job was as Information Systems Architect, at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Durham, till I chose to quit it in 2018 to pursue my other passions.

Projects

Neither the education nor the profession ever demanded more than 40% of my brain capacity on average. So, I am left with a lot of brain capacity to use for other purposes, just as many people do. People use such extra brain capacity pursuing their passions, and so did I. I have done many multi-year projects using that spare capacity.

During the 1980s, I used my spare brain capacity working on side hustles making extra-money, volunteering in fund-raising activities for an orphanage, coordinating the donors of an on-demand blood bank.

Then I focused on improvements to the education system starting from the mid-1980s into mid-1990s, establishing SEA (Society for Educational Alternatives) and C-NEP (Champions of New Education Paradigm). I delivered a two-day seminar to SCERT, NCERT, Osmania University, UNICEF, Agha Khan Foundation, Pullareddy Foundation, Aurobindo Education Society, etc. discussing the past and present status of Education, and suggesting some improvements. By then I was in the USA and I couldn't coordinate the activities in India. And my efforts regarding education went on to the back burner. I also met Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, in Chicago during his visit, and discussed the kind of changes needed in the education system. He asked me to meet later in Hyderabad, and I did go to his office in the secretariat and he was busy in a video conference with the collectors, and I couldn't meet him.

Then, in the 1990s, I volunteered for LAMP (Literacy as a Movement of People) program run by Bhagavatula Charitable Trust of Visakhapatnam, helping with fund-raising and newsletter circulation. I became active in the Minnesota Telugu Association and served as Vice-president for one year. I wrote comedy-plays about the lives of Indians in the USA and directed them. And then I started a software consulting company and ran it for a couple of years. Things mellowed down with the onset of the infamous .com bust.

In 2000s, after closing down the consulting company, I took to stock investments and lost the money I made in the consulting business. I also moved from Minneapolis to the Raleigh Durham area in North Carolina. I became active in the Telugu community again, and served as the President of the Telugu Association in 2006, giving it a huge boost. Right after that came the activities related to the construction of a new Temple in Cary, North Carolina. I served in the public relations committee, being the chief contributor and editor for the temple's weekly newsletter, which became a daily newsletter during the days leading up to the Prana Pratishta of the temple in May of 2009.

Third Thread

Even the profession and projects put together did not consume 100% of my brain capacity. There was still some brain capacity left, which made a third thread run in my life in the background, which is about understanding the universe, life, and humanity. I am interested in studying human nature, both at the individual level and social level, and in studying spirituality, from a very young age. I have been reading books since my college days, related to psychology (Freud's and others' works), sociology (Karl Marx's and others'), culture and anthropology (a wide variety of non-fiction, fiction, historical fiction in Telugu and English, both by Indian Authors and non-Indian authors) and spirituality (Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavatam, Ashtavakra Gita, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Puranas, Bible, Quran, etc.).

My profession and all the other side projects also gave me deep insights into human nature. My profession helped me understand human behavior, individual and collective, in various formal settings. My projects helped me do the same in informal settings. I had the opportunity to work closely with people of all ages, people from multiple echelons of the society, members of both sexes, both Indians and Americans, from many walks of life, which helped me gain a deeper understanding of human nature. These real-life interactions, coupled with the knowledge, perspectives, and theories in books gave me great insights into the nature of life and humanity.

This interest in human nature is also tied to my early work on the education system. Though I stopped formal activities related to education in mid-1990s, I followed on it, keeping a tab on all the latest developments. Having moved to the USA and having my children in American schools and later in colleges, I get to know a lot about the American education system also. This experience enhanced my understanding of the education system.

The more I thought about education, the more it became clear to me that the education system can neither be understood well nor its problems can be solved in isolation from psychology and sociology and spirituality. The more my understanding of psychology, sociology and spirituality developed, the better and concrete solutions I was able to imagine for solving the ills of the education system.

Self-Discovery

Towards the end of 2000s, I reflected on the half-a-century of my life's journey. I reflected on my education, profession, all the projects, and the third thread that is actively running. I asked myself, what do I want to do with the rest of my life, before retirement and after retirement? What are my core interests? What would give me a sense of fulfillment in life? What could I do to make a meaningful contribution to the betterment of humanity?

The philosopher in me told me that, no matter what one does, humanity would pretty much remain the same; the very fact that humanity suffers from so many ills even after the work of so many great personalities throughout history, is proof that nothing really changes, at the end.

However, there are some instincts in me that won't let me sit quietly. They spur me into action all the time, to read this or that, to research into one topic or another, to participate in one activity or the other, and so on.

I realized that I have no choice but to do something to satiate my instinctual urges and to keep my brain occupied.

Foaum

At about the same time, as a result of all my studies of human nature, a model / framework to explain life and humanity started taking shape in my mind. I called it Foaum (pronounced same as foam), a shorthand for Framework of Aum, Aum being the Sanskrit word that has many meanings, one among which is 'everything'. It is a framework to connect everything related to life and human nature that I have ever observed or read about.

I am writing a book to describe the framework, through which I hope to impact the psychological and sociological studies across the world. Currently, each branch of the social sciences has its own theory that is disconnected from the others. There is no unifying theoretical foundation for all the branches of sciences. With Foaum, I hope to fill that gap. The website for this initiative is foaum.org.

Foaum has two parts. The first part is agreedly esoteric and theoretical, which could be of interest only to philosophers, intellectuals and theoreticians. But, the second part is very practical and is meant for everyone's use. It models human diversity, i.e., the individual, the social, as well as spiritual diversity. Using this diversity framework, which I called 'Colors of Humanity', I am able to explain a wide range of psychological, sociological, and spiritual phenomena and craft solutions for a wide variety of problems, at home, at school, at work and in society. I decided to make it my life goal to formalize Foaum and offer formal solutions to various problems in various spheres of human activity, based on the insights that Foaum gives. Towards this end, I started five different initiatives as follows:

Initiatives

Better Individuals, Better Families, Better Education, Better Workplaces and Better Societies

Under the initiative of Better Individuals, I have designed various workshops titled 'Welcome to Life', 'Introduction to Life', 'Three dimensions of Life', etc., which covered various aspects of personal life, family life, professional life and spiritual life.

I ran these workshops, which lasted for four to five days each, for about four years starting July 2009, the 200th birth anniversary of Charles Darwin, my all-time favorite scientist. The participants of these workshops happened to be anyone and everyone interested in gaining deep insights into life and human nature. They came from many walks of life, from doctors to IT professions, to Ph.D. students, to entrepreneurs, to housewives, to educational professionals, and so on. I called this initiative called Medha Jananam, a Sanskrit phrase that can be loosely translated as 'Ignite the Intellect'. The website for this initiative is medhajananam.org

Under the initiative of Better Families, I developed workshops on parenting and on pre-marriage concerns, and ran them for a few years. Later, I expanded Grihastha into a full-fledged 'family services' initiative, offering on-line advice, interactive workshops, and personal guidance. The website for this initiative is grihastha.org.

Under the initiative of Better Education, I developed a workshop called 'Nature Oriented Nurture', targeted to the joint audience of teachers and parents, and another workshop called 'Rich Alignment' to the staff of Children's homes and foster parenting services. These workshops train the parents, teachers and staff on how to nurture and teach children based on their unique personalities and strengths. The website for this initiative is ed4ward.org.

Further, I designed a new model of education from the ground-up called Grownules, a shorthand for Growth Modules, incorporating all my ideas that accumulated over the span of four decades, addressing all the problems that I noticed in education, from every single perspective, that of children, that of teachers, that of parents, that of administrators, that of private institutions, that of governments and that of society. I am writing a book also on this model. The website for this initiative is grownules.org

Under the initiative of Better Workplaces, I developed three different workshops for workplaces, called, 'Success@Work', 'Work Dynamix' and 'Epic Leadership', targeted to individual contributors, managers, and senior leadership, respectively. The website for this initiative is human4ce.com.

Under the initiative of Better Societies, I wanted to draw everyone's attention to the underlying issues of society in transitioning itself from the agricultural age to industrial age, which people in the media, social media, and academia, and let alone the governments, would not focus on, because of lack of interest, time, or sponsorship or abilities.

The lack of deep thinking about the agricultural to industrial tranaformation, is affecting the society in many ways, from government policies and programs to the initiatives by non-governmental organizations in a big way. Through this initiative, I hope to bring people's attention to the core issues and propose radical solutions to make societies better. The website for this initiative is socialreform.info.

Ramayana

Besides the profession, the projects, and these initiatives, I also had an itch for a long time to translate Valmiki's Ramayana into contemporary English, providing socio-psychological commentary. I knew it would be a multi-year project and was afraid of such a serious commitment, for a long time. But, ultimately, I committed myself to do it in 2012 and completed the translation in 2019.

As I translated this great epic, I also generated interest in people to read it. I created an initiative called 'Read Ramayana' for this purpose. Anyone can signup for this initiative and get Ramayana Slokas along with my translation, commentary and an audio rendering of the Slokas by Sriram Ghanapati, Head, Sankara Veda Pathasala, Hyderabad, in an email every week, so that they can read Ramayana from the beginning to the end, without missing a Sloka, which is a lifetime dream for many. Over 9000 people have completed reading Ramayana with this initiative thus far. The website for this initiative is www.readramayana.org.

Sarala

There are two other initiatives in my mind, both related to languages, of which one is complete, and the other is waiting to get started. The first one is about an ergonomic keyboard layout for the Telugu Language.

As the use of Internet and smartphones expanded in India, and as the need for supporting Indian languages on these devices increased, there arose a need for keyboard layouts for all the Indian languages. A keyboard layout called InScript was developed by the Government of India, But this happened to be a pretty rudimentary and unimaginative layout with all the vowels placed on one side of the keyboard layout and the consonants placed on the other side as if the keyboard layout design is about classifying alphabets. Its layout is not ergonomic like the QWERTY keyboard for English. In the absence of any other keyboard layout, this became the defacto standard. Further, this keyboard layout was adopted to all other Indian languages blindly, without paying attention to the usage of the letters for the specific language.

It broke my heart to see this development. India has so much man-power and creative minds, and so many universities, yet none of them was engaged in the development of such a foundational tool of the information age.

So, I took it upon myself to design a keyboard layout, for at least one language, my mother tongue, Telugu. My goal is to design an ergonomic keyboard layout like the QWERTY keyboard layout for English, assigning the most used letters to the most accessible keys on the keyboard. I developed computer software and did a thorough statistical analysis of the frequency of the use of various letters and Matras, in the Telugu language. Using that analysis, I designed a keyboard layout, which I called the layout Sarala. Sarala can be downloaded from many software sites on the Internet today. The official website for Sarala is foaum.org/sarala.

Bharati Script

The second initiative regarding languages that I wanted to undertake is called Bharati Script.

All the languages of India share pretty much the same alphabet, but each has its own script. There is no common script that people from all parts of India can read. People travelling from one state to the other cannot read even sign boards in the other state. Meanwhile, the use of English and the Roman script became prevalant and it is now set to become the de facto standard. But there is a problem with this. Roman alphabet does not have enough variety of letters to represent all the vowel and consonent sounds of Indian languages.

The Government of India's unimaginative and political solution for this is to impose the use of Hindi laguage throughout India. This imposition met with resistance in many non-Hindi speaking states, so much so they insisted on the use of the regional language, wherever possible. The insistence created the opposite effect, viz., resentment over it.

My soluiton to this problem, is to develop a new script from scratch, which is elegant and also better suited for the computer age, whithout the complex matra and coupound letter structures, that are typical of all Indian language scripts including the Devanagari script used for Hindi language.

I want to make this a community effort and challenge artists, typographers, language experts, etc. from everywhere to develop a beautiful script from scratch. I am still working on launching this initiative. The website for this initiative is bharatiscript.in.

Putting it all together

One thing I don't like about life is that it is too long for some and too short for some. It is the later in my case. I do not know how far I can take these initiatives within the time I have on this earth. But I sure would like to enjoy and be busy with these initiatives till I drop. And I hope the initiatives would be of at least some benefit to at least a few people.

To summaraize, here is a graphical representation of all my activities.

Besides these few initiatives, I have a couple of life time wishes, which I don't think will ever be fullfilled. One, I want to know the answers for the big questions such as why does this huge universe exist, what is the meaning of all these billions of life-less stars, what is life, why does it exitst, and so on. Two, I want to understand Einstein's special theory of relativity.