Saturday, 29th April 2017
Feature Angles (500 words each)
Complete these articles by 10th August
REAPING THE BENEFITS OF DIVERSITY
A new book ‘Celebrating Diversity' by Dr. Atul Shah provides positive and practical suggestions
There are many beautiful and succinct proverbs in the English language - ‘Familiarity breeds contempt' and ‘We cannot see the wood for the trees' are two which are commonly known. There is huge diversity of cultures, faiths and peoples in Britain, but we often cannot see it because we take it for granted. Unfortunately also, we do often choose our friends and work colleagues based on similarity rather than difference. And this breeds contempt towards others.
Dr. Atul Shah has been living in Britain for over twenty-five years. He came as an Indian-origin immigrant from East Africa to study at the London School of Economics in 1980. During this time, Atul founded and supported many grassroots organisations and charities throughout the UK. His culture and upbringing gave him values which took him to the height of success in media and academia, but he also hit a glass ceiling where progress was inhibited. His intelligence was seen as a threat by others rather than as an opportunity.
In the book, Atul explains that:
At the end of each chapter, there is a pointed summary and reflections with points to ponder which help readers to take personal messages to help improve the quality of their lives and relationships. To find out more or buy the book, visit www.diverseethics.com
HOW I ADAPT AND GROW
One persons true story of living and adapting to Britain is shared in the stimulating new book, Celebrating Diversity, by Dr. Atul Shah
I was born in the small town of Mombasa in Kenya in 1961, just as Kenya became independent. My childhood was stimulating and invigorating, where culture and community played a central role. I was educated at the community school, played at the community sports and social centre and worshipped at the Jain temple in the centre of the town. No-one expected me to ‘fit in' - I was allowed to be myself and practice my culture and values. From the beginning, my identity was inter-woven with others and not separate form them.
And then, I came to Britain. This was a major shock to the system. There was no community. And I was forced to think of me. And boy, did I try to fit in and assimilate. I worked hard. I persevered. I made mistakes. I started, supported and inspired a large number and range of charities. I excelled beyond my wildest dreams. However, no organisation wanted to share power with me. I was used and blocked.
Raised as a Jain, a minority culture of this world with a vast ocean of wisdom and foresight, I was fortunate. Respect for me was not just about human beings, but for all living beings, irrespective of colour, species, caste or creed. Helping and leading were natural to me, and I continued this during my years in Britain. Slowly but surely, I began to grow in self-esteem and confidence. Although a lot of effort and resources were devoted to the development of the Jain community, I participated and contributed to various other communities, be-it multi-faith, academic, media or schools and educational bodies. Through this I discovered that even though I was constantly asked to spell my culture, the values I had inherited were truly rare and timely.
In modern Britain, there is a lot of talk about Diversity. However, practical guidance is in short supply. We do not know how to appreciate our Diversity and grow and progress from it. We lack sensitivity and are sometimes private and reserved rather than warm and welcoming. In the rush to live, we forget to nourish. We learn to take and forget to give. In spite of the huge opportunities, our minds are still walled and bordered.
This book shares the experiences, teasing out messages for how to truly live with respect. It explains how we can respect other faiths, cultivate and nourish an open mind, learn from children and build happy neighbourhoods and communities. The role of the media in shaping our opinions of others is discussed and personal dialogue and debate is encouraged. It shows the values that are required to practice true diversity and respect for others. It is practical and reflective, personal and honest, real and provocative.
To order your copy of the book, visit www.diverseethics.com
A new book by Atul K. Shah entitled ‘Celebrating Diversity' shows through example how we can progress together and grow through difference
How do we approach a new person or a new idea? With a smile and an open mind or with suspicion and fear? One method leads to growth and the other to decline. Given the pace of change and globalisation, we will all need to cultivate and nourish open minds if we are to truly succeed. And this need not cost - it is all about attitude and outlook.
This refreshing new book is packed with a vast range of practical tips about negotiating the unique diversity of Britain and reaping its huge benefits. Its focus is on self-reflection and self-renewal. It shows that even though many people think they have an open mind, in reality they have many prejudices and mis-conceptions. To remove these, we need to allow ourselves to be challenged, use our choices to open our minds, travel to different destinations, engage in constructive dialogue and read and reflect more widely. Meditation is a shower of the mind, and a great benefit for open-minded living. Observing and listening to children is also often refreshing, and helping them helps one stay innocent and curious.
Even faith and belief need not lead one to closure and dogmatism, but respect and openness to difference. Atul starts from the concept of bio-diversity, where each and every living being is different and worthy of respect. This panoramic world-view helps us diminish our self-importance and encourages us to act responsibly and caringly to protect and nurture rather than exploit and control.
A true reflection on Diversity forces us to look beyond our own lives to the lives of others, to their needs, dreams and aspirations. It understands and accepts that on this planet, there is room for us all and no-one owns or controls the territory. It encourages us to be humble, to trust and to raise the quality of our lives and those of others around us. It teaches us the beauty of adventure and experimentation, of creativity and challenge. It opens our dialogue and engagement with others. It helps us to dream without taking our feet off the ground.
This book is an invaluable guide to open-mindedness and respect which will help any reader to grow and succeed in the changing modern world.
The book can be ordered at www.diverseethics.com It is an ideal corporate gift.
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