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Wednesday, 28th June 2017
 

Feature Angles

Feature Angles (500 words each)

 

  • Practical Tips on Celebrating Diversity
  • One persons true story of discrimination and assimilation 
  • Book Review - Aidan Rankin
  • Bio-diversity and human diversity - ancient Indian wisdom
  • Borderless Mind and practical tips
  • India in Britain - minority community, majority culture
  • Feature columnists - faith (Madeleine Bunting, Guardian), Diversity (Black guardian),

 

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:

  • Mindset is important. Instead of focusing on human beings, we need to understand that we are but one species on this planet, and the whole planet is rich with bio-diversity. If we look at the world from this perspective, then difference becomes normal rather than abnormal.
  • Prejudice begins from the mind and to remove it, we need to do mental gymnastics.
  • Our thinking today is boxed and bordered. We need to think beyond boxes and boundaries and be willing to celebrate and learn from whatever is good in others.
  • Difference leads to growth and progress. Similarity leads to narrowness and decline.
  • Dialogue is critical. We need to engage with people from all walks of life personally and directly if we are to benefit from our rich diversity. All too often, we draw our curtains on others and start conversations with suspicion and distrust rather than openness and innocence.
  • Open-mindedness needs to be cultivated and nourished. Too many people think that they are open-minded when they are far from it. They do not realise that open-mindedness is much more than a rational way of thinking. The book shows how this can be achieved in practical terms and nourished and sustained regularly. Examples are languages, travel, meditation and curiousity.
  • Pride comes before a fall. Arrogance and egoism prevent us from benefiting from diversity and learning from others. In extreme cases, it can lead to bosses inhibiting progress of colleagues who are different and smarter.
  • Children help us to stay innocent and to remove pre-conceptions and stereotypical views. We need to listen more and learn through them rather than be patronising.
  • Materialism and greed breed insecurity and distrust towards others. Prejudice festers and breeds in this environment. 
  • Territorial attitudes in our neighbourhoods and workplaces also lead to prejudice. In reality, we are all passers-by on this planet and will be forced to leave behind our territories. Why not be open, welcoming and accepting of others in the hear and now?
  • Hospitality is the key to building lasting friendships. We all enjoy receiving it but are very poor at giving it. Think first of others, welcome them with a smile and a glass of water, and look after their welfare.

 

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.
Smile at a stranger and remove suspicion. Try to understand the world from their standpoint. Learn to give territory rather than to own, guard and protect. Increase your inner growth, so that you may die gracefully, having enriched the lives of others through your own.

To order your copy of the book, visit www.diverseethics.com

BORDERLESS MINDS

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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