Moderated by Priyanka Shah, Editor-in-Chief, YJPerspectives
Ajaita Shah is the founder and CEO of Frontier Markets. Founded in 2011, Frontier Markets is a rural marketing, sales, and service distribution company focused on providing access to affordable and quality consumer durables to low-income households in emerging markets. In line with its mission to create “Saral Jeevan” or an “Easy Life” for rural customers, Frontier Markets has delivered a range of high social impact products including clean energy, agriculture, health, and water sanitation to 4.9M people and over 700,000 rural households in India. This has been facilitated through a unique distribution model where a network of over 3,500 digitized rural entrepreneurs help educate, relate, and reach these households. Prior to Frontier Markets, Ajaita worked in microfinance with Indian-based organizations including SKS Microfinance and Ujjivan Financial Services. She has worked on numerous development projects in 7 states in India and consulted under the World Bank on microfinance strategies for South Asia and Latin America. She is a Clinton Service Corp, Echoing Green, and Cordes Fellow and has been awarded many accolades including the Most Influential Leader in Microfinance Under 30, Business Week’s 30 Under 30 award, Forbes Top 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs award, and the United Nations Women Transforming India award. Ajaita has a BA in International Relations from Tufts University. …
By: Varuska Patni
As I got older, my concept of wellness and how I incorporate it into my lifestyle has evolved over the years. Simply put, I view wellness as the opportunity to remain healthy in various avenues of life (i.e. physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, etc.). Since wellness encompasses so much, it is unique to each individual and thus involves a sense of creativity in our approach to maintaining our well-being. I believe true contentment breeds from fully engaging in daily activities and making them meaningful. …
By: Monika Kothari
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for The Good Place, the television series starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson as denizens of a utopian afterlife. (But to be clear, if you haven’t been watching the show, at this point you have no one to blame but yourself.) The basic gist is that Ted Danson is a demon masquerading as a celestial being who constructs an illusory paradise called the “Good Place” in which la crème de la crème of humanity enjoys eternal bliss in the form of infinite quantities frozen yoghurt, among other things. …
By: Vatsal Gandhi
I spent the first 17 years of my life in South Mumbai, within a tightly knit, mostly Gujarati-Jain community. Although there are a lot of Jains spread out across the city and its suburbs, the Jain community in South Mumbai is a small group, well-to-do and fairly religious. We had a beautiful temple within the boundaries of our apartment complex and another historic temple a mere five-minute walk away, both complete with all forms of facilities: Upashray, Ayambilshala, Pathshala, etc. As a result, I grew up watching and learning about various aspects of the Jain religion.
While studying ancient Indian history in school, Jainism came up as a parallel religion to Buddhism; we learned about their origins, beliefs, and similarities. This helped me put the teachings obtained at home and at Pathshala in perspective. While the former focused on day-to-day activities and scriptures, school gave me the big picture philosophical background of the religion: the values of non-violence, non-attachment, celibacy, and truth. …
By: Aparna Sagaram
As children of immigrants, many of us struggle to fully assimilate with both Indian culture and American cultures. This is called the bi-cultural identity crisis, and the effects this has on mental health can be very damaging.
Many children of immigrants grow up afraid to embrace and discover all the wonderful aspects of experiencing 2 different cultures. We often feel like we have to pick one and reject the other. Some of the negative effects of experiencing bi-culturalism are:
1. Feeling like you don’t fit in anywhere
2. Trying to please your parents while discovering who you are as an individual
3. Internalizing prejudices about the minority identity you also hold
By: Anvita Jain
Imagine being fresh out of college, about to start the job of your dreams and move to a new city. In July 2016, I moved to Dallas to start my first job as a Business Analyst at Capital One. To say I was excited about this new role would have been an understatement. I thought I had tricked Capital One into hiring me. I was absolutely convinced that, by some stroke of luck, I had landed the perfect transition from an engineering degree to a business-facing career.
On the surface, this job seemed perfect. I entered a two-year rotational program along with many colleagues my age that offered development opportunities in spades and a high enough salary to cushion a comfortable lifestyle. My manager was agreeable, I got to work on impactful projects and my hours were reasonable. Dig a little deeper and the reality was much more bleak. I did not enjoy the work I was doing, which ultimately led to a lack of engagement and a failure to perform to my fullest potential. My dissatisfaction spilled over into a lack of connection with my peers and colleagues. In short, I was unhappy but also too stubborn to be a “quitter”. …
By: Preeti Shah
The astronauts have landed in Times Square.
The milky way is freckled on the steel grey
face of skyscrapers. A whole gaping city,
its mouth full of space.
Asteroids stream of jaywalkers,
with their daily shuffle,
jaded saturation of rhythm.
Obsidian can be found sparkling
in the grit and caulking
of all the homeless corners.
We see each other,
our eye contact fluxing.
Our kind words suck into
the worm hole of subway tunnels.
We see each other,
and sometimes nothing;
just the darkness of space.
About the Poet: Preeti Shah
Preeti Shah is a Queens-based poet whose work is upcoming in Sukoon Magazine, Toho Journal Online, and True Chili Journal. She is a Brooklyn Poets 2019 Fall Fellowship Finalist. She is grateful for the opportunity to have her work published through YJPerspectives.
By: Priyanka Shah
One of my earliest memories of food was watching the compassion my mom put into its preparation. I remember her carefully separating cilantro leaves before chopping to check for any creatures who may have made the micro-forest of a bunch their home. She would pack a Jain lunch for me each day, where each meal included thoughtful and creative food options like naan pizza that perfectly catered to my ‘American-born confused desi’ palate. I remember coming home from school and watching how after a busy day, she would somehow magically whip up a wholesome dinner in less than 30 minutes. …
By: Naman Shah
If your experience is similar to mine, we’ve met Jains at all ends of the political spectrum — from far left, to far right, to plain apathy. Religion and politics are two domains where our values, and sometimes our emotions, can be expressed both collectively and through institutional forms. Yet, if we as Jains share a set of core values — Ahimsa (non-violence), Aparigrah (non-possessiveness), and Anekantavada (multiplicity of views) — then why do our politics differ so dramatically? …
By: Saurin Shah
I always viewed Jain laity as a lifelong dilemma: even though shravaks and shravikas are afforded concessions, anyone who attempts to follow Jain teachings will eventually have to confront the decision to persist in or desist from the karmic cycle. Anyone who remains in their worldly life consciously chooses to commit karma: such a choice puts a ceiling on how much they may develop on a spiritual level. However, as my view of the Panch Parameshti expands beyond that of inaccessible deities and their disciples towards that of teachers and role-models, this binary perspective seems quite myopic. These five groups may provide an endless source of knowledge, but their wisdom can travel only as far and as wide as their students, us Jain laypeople, are willing to take it. Therefore, I feel that the metaphysical burden of Jain laity, that of rejecting transcendence and remaining within the material realm, is no burden at all. By choosing this life, I am empowered to take on the responsibility to make the world a better place for all living beings so we can each reach closer to enlightenment.
While the education metaphor isn’t a perfect fit, I feel that our core beliefs explain why each and every Jain has this duty beyond their own development. The Sanskrit phrase Parasparopagraho Jivanam has been associated with Jainism for thousands of years since appearing in the Tattvartha Sutra. It elegantly states that all souls are interconnected and interdependent. Furthermore, it implores us to be cognizant of the effects of our actions and to make them positive. …