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Nature’s Lessons For Modern Society And The Corporate World

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There is a very good reason as to why we are causing mayhem in the world. We no longer feel the need to fit into the realm of nature.

Two things are happening as we continue to evolve away from nature. We are no longer understanding and learning from nature, and we are losing our survival instincts. The problem with this is that we are still a part of nature’s ecosystem – and though we have built our matrices, our roots are still buried in nature. What we are not realising is that, if interpreted correctly, there are reasons and solutions in nature for everything we experience in our modern, urban lives.

Consider this – traditional martial art forms such as kung-fu evolved, supposedly from the observation of the movements of animals such as snakes, monkeys, tigers and cranes. But as our society moved past the Renaissance, it seems that many of us also stopped observing and learning from nature.

Aren’t we bored and tired of our monotonous 5-day weeks in the corporate world? Then, head out to a lake or a water-body – where there are cormorants, darters or terns and observe them catching fishes. Most of the time they dive into the water, they come up with nothing. When they do catch a fish, the fish often slips out and escapes. How many times do they need to keep repeating this to find enough food to satiate their hunger, every single day?

We have a lot to learn from birds, even in the 21st century. (Representative image. Photo by Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times)

There are no weekends in nature. What if they thought that this was boring and monotonous? What if they said that they had enough and that they wouldn’t be doing this anymore? They would perish in hunger – as simple as that.

And people complain about not getting jobs and talk about retirement! There is no complaining and retirement in nature. Just one rule exists out there: try till you die, and die when you quit.

There is something very fascinating in nature we don’t reflect upon. Why is it so difficult to spot animals in the wild? It is because of the prey-predator relationship. Catching a prey depends on whether it is the predator sees its prey first, or the other way round.

What we often term as beauty in nature is actually camouflage – to hide or distract, be it from the prey or the predators. In my opinion, most things in nature try to hide themselves from one another, all the time. Lions are colour-blind – so, when zebras run together, lions do not have any visual sense of what’s happening around them. But, how do they still hunt down the zebras? Because they have heightened levels of their other senses.

What does this come down to? Nature always pushes the boundaries of every being in her ecosystem. Nothing comes easy. Every being has to be at the top of their game all the time to stay alive and for its species to survive. The primordial force of nature keeps pushing the limits of everything in it. This, in my opinion, is what propels evolution – every animal tries to evolve continuously to be a dominant species.

Even something as ‘natural’ as a lion hunting down a zebra has profound, survival lessons for us. (Image Source: YouTube)

How does all of this translate into our lives? For wildlife photographers, they have to stay ahead of all these hide-and-seek games in nature to get great pictures. There are three aspects to getting great wildlife photographs: spotting the subject, anticipation and hand-eye coordination.

Apply this for the Agile methodology – the management practice that has taken over almost all industries. Whenever I hear or think about Agile, what comes first to my mind is the image of a tiger. Agile methodology is not just about doing things faster. After all, why is Agile predominantly a product-based methodology? Because it is essentially about spotting those little opportunities in the market – anticipating which way the market conditions may swing, what customers may need and getting the products out into the market accordingly.

And this is exactly how tigers or other predators hunt in the wild. Be it in nature’s jungle or the concrete jungle, success has the same underlying roots. The change management principle of focusing on small wins, consolidating them and targeting bigger goals is a lesson that comes right from nature.

What has changed about us is that we have evolved into the beings of a complex cooperative society. In this transformation, it is our survival skills that have been affected the most. A support system gets built around every individual from where we get help whenever we need it. The size of the support system depends on our needs and what we can give to the society.

Social media networks are all examples of such systems. This highly-interconnected way of living reduces our need for survival skills. This, I believe, has been the biggest liability of becoming intelligent beings. Our needs have grown exponentially, which, in turn, has raised the bar of our desires. With our waning survival skills, when life becomes difficult, we often become frustrated and start feeling helpless, turn to gods and eventually to superstition.

In my opinion, no other being in nature believes in getting help from a higher power to succeed. Every animal believes in its own skills and abilities to survive. This is why in highly competitive market conditions, mere skills and abilities do not take us far – it is our contacts in the ‘favours-based’ society that help us get ahead.

But, there is an anomaly here. A lower number of surviving skills should ideally make us less competitive – but the reverse is happening. Urban life has become a mighty arena for wealth-based competition. We are vying to buy bigger and more expensive houses, cars, gadgets and an infinite number of assortments. This is an endless pit – and once we fall into it, we spend our entire lives chasing after more wealth to keep buying newer and supposedly-better things. Think about the iPhone and all its die hard fans who live in queues for days outside Apple stores to buy the newest versions.

How can nature help us cope up with the daily pressures and struggles of a hectic and competitive corporate life? (Photo by Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images)

Our status in society (built around wealth) mandates that we keep chasing after wealth and riches all the time. Businesses are thriving with marketing strategies fine-tuned to exploit this wealth-based competition to the hilt. But, wealth is a commodity – and acquiring wealth is not a skill. It is all about exploiting the needs of our fellow beings.

In my opinion, a great example of this is the real estate industry. Buy land at lower costs and sell it for higher prices, based on demand. Most business models are built around understanding and exploiting people’s needs – going to the extent of creating new needs if they do not exist. This is something which, I believe, Apple epitomises.

Is there anything in our society that eggs us on to become better human beings? In my view, nothing. This means that we are not evolving and that we have stagnated. Technology has only made us dependent on it, and has not helped us become better beings.

Nature develops three critical aspects in every being for survival – patience, perseverance and resilience.  Nature teaches us to keep scouting for every opportunity, and keep doing the same things relentlessly till we succeed. It also teaches us to keep moving ahead in the face of every adversity.

Nature teaches us to appreciate every moment of our lives. We take time for granted – ours and everyone else’s. In nature, a momentary lapse is what stands between life and death. Nature sharpens our skills and abilities continuously, and keeps us ready to face the next challenges.

We need all of these – even if we are to live in the bubble we have created for ourselves. But we have made ourselves lethargic enough to choose the easy way out every time. No schools or universities can teach us nature’s lessons. In the extremely competitive world we live in, we need our fundamentals firmly in place. Only the eternal Mother can make us evolve into better beings.

A version of this post was first published on the author’s blog.

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Featured image used for representative purposes only.

Featured image source: Pexels
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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