Friday, 28th April 2017
ONCE UPON A TIME....
Once upon a time, there was a boy living in the coastal town of Mombasa in Kenya. He was born with great fortune (cultural, not material!), and had a fantastic childhood, and assumed life was the same for everyone else....... Naive? Yes. Dreamy - definitely. People lover - with great passion. At school, he jumped one year at the age of six, because his talent exceeded his age. He was always very enthusiastic, and thrived on challenges. He never knew loneliness or isolation. And the culture he was born in (Jain) was unique in terms of its respect for each and every living being - this became his DNA.
He went to a community school in Mombasa, and saw his father Mr. Keshavji Rupshi Shah spending buckets of time for the community, voluntarily. His father would give speeches, go to lots of meetings, visit the temple regularly, and all this in spite of his physical disability - for him work was secondary to voluntary service. Here was a personal role model Atul sought to emulate. At school, Atul began to shine, and came tenth in the whole of Kenya when he completed his O Levels (GCSE equivalent). Academic performance was always encouraged by his father - why are you not number one, was the often repeated question. This was a push, but somehow, Atul made it. Right to the Top.
At the age of eighteen, he came to study in the great big world of Britain, with much enthusiasm and excitement. Here was a chance for a small time village boy to enter the 'modern' and progressive western world. The London School of Economics was quite an eye-opener for him. He made a lot of new friends, worked hard, and ended up with a First Class degree - rare in those days. He never thought he would ever complete a PhD - this seemed beyond his dreams, but he did it, at the London School of Economics, with a prestigious fellowship from the Institute of Chartered Accountants. His published research has been hugely visionary in terms of its ethical content.
Somehow, Britain was not the world he had imagined or dreamed of. For a start, there was no community, only individuals. Secondly, different skin and culture were not valued and in fact supressed. The work experience was really tough indeed. His popularity with students and enthusiasm was seen as a threat by colleagues. And the biggest conflict was ethical - so few people cared about their values and the impact this had on others. For so many professionals today, the ethic is strongly individualistic - and there is little civic concern or even a sense of duty and responsibility. Slowly but surely, Atul began to realise that his culture had something very solid and real to offer the 'modern western civilised' world, something that in its own way, the world is desperately searching for.
Atul was challenged, but his leadership trait kept on pushing. He created communities wherever he went. He founded new initiatives (Young Jains, Jain Spirit magazine), new media, new ways of keeping the timeless values of his Jain culture alive and nourished. Diverse Ethics it the latest in a string of social inventions. He has written countless articles, many books, spoken on radio and television, achievements beyond his wildest dreams. He has assimilated and adapted to Britain in a very bold and positive way. His book 'Celebrating Diversity' was a map for integration and harmony in Britain and Professor Chris Mullard OBE billed it the best book on the subject by far.
The key force behind all this has been his passion to serve and share his skills and knowledge with one and all. This portal utilises modern technology by building a virtual community, with the aim of advancing sustainable ethics and integrity in the workplace. Now that has been his life's mission, all the way. Hop in and ride along together. We can make a difference.
Tweets by @atulkshah