Sahil Sehgal

India’s Groundwater is in Crisis: NASA

The environment and its problems are ignored the most in our country. While everybody is focused on corruption and anti-national activities, people ignore our most basic and life threatening problems such as the fast depleting ground water. The groundwater in India is exploited everyday to an alarming level for the purpose of irrigation and domestic use. While we in our homes, take showers for hours at end and leave the tap running while brushing our teeth, hydrologists around the world and in India are in panic over the disastrous depletion which is happening at a pace much faster than the replenishing rate. NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) has been a primary reason for reaching this conclusion.

Major steps need to be taken to prevent this fast approaching disaster which will result in complete collapse and failure of agricultural output and availability of potable water, destroying the lives of 114 million residents of our nation.

What is Ground Water?

It is the water that is found beneath the soil. Typically contained among the permeable rock, sand and clay, the reserves can be found to expand to over hundred feet. Many times these reserves are created due to accumulation of water over thousands of years. This happens when the water percolates through the soil and reached these areas. Typically this is replenished by the water that falls on the surfaces during rainfall and other natural processes.

Image Source: www.gptx.org

Image Source: www.gptx.org

It is one of those sources of water which is unaffected by changes in weather. Since no direct evaporation, condensation and precipitation happens here, it can only be replenished by water that percolates through the soil. To maintain a stable water table, there needs to be a balance between the replenishing rate and the usage. Since there are limited ways of recharging the groundwater, it takes much longer to replenish it.

GROUND WATER IN INDIA

The ground water reserves in India are at an all-time low. States such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab are the worst affected. These are those states which have a heavy population that needs water, and are in a phase of rapid economic development. More importantly, Punjab and Haryana and other parts of North western India are the fertile areas and are the grain producing states. These states were the biggest beneficiaries of the Green Revolution which is believed to be another reason for this quick depletion. Agriculture and irrigation are known to use approximately 95% of the groundwater in these regions.

The data available with the Indian Ministry of Water Resources has indicated that the usage rate of ground water is much higher than the replenishing rate.

Image Source: www.livemint.com

Image Source: www.livemint.com

A study conducted by Hydrologists in NASA with the help of GRACE has provided data on this. Based on analysis of six years of monthly data acquired through GRACE, they found that the ground water has been declining much faster, at the rate of one foot peer year. According to this data, the water extradition at its current rate is not sustainable in India. The rate of fast declining water will affect the agricultural production and make for life in India very difficult. This research was done after taking into account several other factors such as storage in lakes and reservoirs, vegetation, glaciers and soil moisture. No natural factor could be found to explain the depletion. The only reason to be found was human activity.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

There are things that people in their ordinary lives can do to help this problem and make it less of a threat. Simple lifestyle changes are available. Here are some things you can do at your home:

  1. It’s natural for faucets and toilets to develop leaks and drips. Rather than ignoring it, get it fixed. Tons of water is wasted when you let the leak be and don’t fix it.
  2. Be mindful of your baths. No, you don’t need to spend half an hour showering. You can clean yourself equally well if you come out of the shower in ten minutes. Using fifty liters where you could have done with twenty liters will not make you cleaner, it will only make you waste more.
  3. Be careful of the chemicals you use around the house and their disposal. Avoid using chemicals wherever possible and be very careful during disposal. A common habit in the Indian masses is to dump the waste outside the house. This is disastrous for the environment and the water levels. Chemicals should be disposed properly.
  4. Avoid letting the water run. This is the biggest cause of wastage of water. Many people have an annoying habit of letting the water run while their brushing their teeth, or shaving or washing utensils. Shut the water off when you don’t need it. It’s a resource you can’t live without so avoid wasting it however possible.
  5. Indulge in water harvesting. It’s a simple process and the tools and material required for water harvesting is very easily available. All you need to do is put in a little effort. Water harvesting will save you a lot of money and help the environment a great deal especially in the monsoon season.
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Marathwada! A droughtful story!

I am sure we all know about how important resource Water is to humanity. 2/3rd of a human body, 2/3rd of our planet, approximately 80% of all the nutritious food we eat, our breathing process, all our daily chores, everything comprises of heavy amounts of Water. Oddly, it will be ‘safe’ to say that No Water, means No Life! With the temperature rising to over 50 (Degree Celsius) in a few parts of India in the recent years, regions have started becoming vulnerable to Drought! A condition where a being yearns for every drop to drink. Maharashtra, is one such state in India which is adversely hit by the water crisis. The main region being the Marathwada, comprising of Beed, Osmanabad, Jalna and Latur districts.
Coming from a prominent Social Sciences Institute which is based in the same region and being exposed to the local villages I can assure that the condition is worse than it appears. The Institute is one of the very few suppliers of Water tanks or any other kind of relief for people. There sure are tanks put up at short distances for the supply of water, but the ‘Supply’ at most of them is way less than the demand! Perhaps, even close to nil. All one can see is names of the huge brands and personalities that bestowed the village with a tank but forgot water maintenance and supply. Certainly cannot expect too much, can we? The region has seen some famines before and has also been officially declared a ‘Drought-Prone’ Zone. People literally travel miles towards the ponds and the lakes. The wells are mostly dried. Official Reports and Statements even say that only 5% water is left in the Marathwada Dams. The region, with a population of about half a million, accounts for one of the largest number of Farmer Suicides every year. With an average rainfall being less than 1/10th than expected in the region in the last three years, water is being transported through trains and tanks, which also are said to reach once in a week to their destinations. Steps, which sound amusing at first, do not sound funny anymore like postponing marriages and restricting the number of people to collect water at a place to avoid riots!drought-india-story_647_090915032013_090915085001
A saying which goes like, “Water, Water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” seems to have come true for the world today, literally. And way sooner for the Marathwada region. This article will mostly be exposed to a very educated class that lives in very rightfully earned luxuries and comforts. The sad part is that as a part of this class we are unable to feel the real ‘thirst’ and ‘hunger’ that people living in these areas go through and hence, we fail to do anything about it. Most of us would even start cribbing if we have to live without eating or drinking even for half a day, then how do we understand the pain of someone who is thirsty for weeks! Mere empathizing is also not a solution to such a problem. But it sure is the first step towards it. The aid to these regions are provided by willing individuals only. Whether from the government or Non-Government Organizations, irrespective of the age, sex, cast, religion and community, it is important for each one of us to be able to join hands, volunteer and contribute as much as we can in whatever way we can. This article was supposed to be an informational one but on a personal level it was hard to end it on a depressing note. Since, no statistics or facts might bring a smile to your face. Though the steps are being taken by the Government and NGOs to overcome the problems but those are just baby steps! Every Individual should do their part. If we cannot help directly or spread awareness, at least by becoming self-aware and practicing conserving water, each individual can contribute to solving this water crisis.
Save Water! Save Lives!

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Tips and Techs to Save Water

Nawazzuddin Siddiqui starrer Manjhi- the story of a mountain man, is an inspirational movie about how an individual’s perseverance can lead them to success. Though the movie was a love story, the part that touched me the most was when the village is hit by a famine and the people evacuate. Except the protagonist himself who is busy excavating his way in between the mountains! The way he craves for even one drop of water is disheartening, indeed. There was a recent news article that reminded me about a similar kind of persistence of the human mind that Manjhi shows in the movie, physically. The persistence to create new ways. Some might even refer to it as a ‘Jugaad’! The article was about a person who used to collect all the dirty, hot water that came out of his air conditioner and used it for different purposes like watering the plants, cleaning his house etc. It just struck me that to save a simple resource such as water one does not need cool inventions and advanced gadgets. All one needs is the willingness to save. A willingness to contribute through small steps taken towards the conservation of water. And Voila! Here are a few steps which can be adopted by every one of us in our daily lives to do the same!

To begin with the Basics-

  1. Turn off the tap.
    Everyone knows this simple tip, yet all of us become careless with it! While brushing teeth, washing dishes, scrubbing and while performing all other tasks on the sink we always consider it a waste of energy and time to turn off the tap for a few seconds. That procrastination costs us the wastage of gallons of water each time.
  2. Fix leaky sinks and running toilets.
    We all have more important tasks to do than getting a few leaky faucets repaired because wasting water is fine but work is worship! We have to get rid of that attitude.
  3. Take shorter showers.
    We all love to take long showers after a tiring day. Who doesn’t? We can still try by closing the shower while using soap or rather using a bucket instead! Come to think of it buckets can also be used for purposes like flushing the toilet, watering the plants and washing your vehicles! It is a great water saver!
  4. Rinse your razor in the sink.
    This is for the guys. We do not need to keep the razor under running tap but rather we can sink it in warm water. Gives the same effect!
  5. Only order water in a restaurant if you are going to actually drink it.
    Not only at restaurants but anywhere, even if we go to someone’s home, if we are not willing to have water try not to have it. A lot of glasses are also half full so the rest of the water is thrown away!
  6. Reuse, Reuse, Recycle.
    This one goes with almost anything in hand when it comes to conservation. Reuse water from wherever you can, whether from back of the air conditioner or from the bowl of washed vegetables. Also use one glass all day long for drinking water at home rather than washing a glass over and over again.

 

While I used this amazing “Gyaan” from my personal experience and well, common sense I also came across a few technological advancements that might amaze you. These gadgets are made just to make sure that water is conserved properly. Sure, they aren’t easily accessible yet and might still be a farfetched dream but that doesn’t mean we can’t be wooed with the ideas!

  1. Urinal and Sink Combo

There is a lot of travelling involved usually from the commode till the sink. Who knows what can happen on the way? This technology reduces the travelling to nil by placing the sink just above the urinal. The water used for washing hands is used to flush urine as well. That means it promotes both hygiene and water conservation!

 

  1. Eco-drop shower

Imagine a situation where you are standing between 2 walls that have nails on them. The walls are comingeco-drop-shower2 closer slowly and you are standing there in between waiting to be crushed. Well not as dangerous, but a similar idea is the eco-drop shower that has concentric circles at the bottom of the shower. These circles rise after on showers for a long time and makes one uncomfortable in order to indicate one to stop showering.

 

 

  1. iSAVE Faucet

It is always motivating to have exact statistics about how much calories we burn or how much weight we have gained or what speed are we driving on. Always gives motivation to do more, get better and plan accordingly. Similar idea is the iSave Faucet. It reads the amount of water being used. The device that does not run on electricity and rather some turbine surely motivates to reduce the water pressure and be more judicious in one’s water usage.

 

These were some daily life tips and some future technologies that will help us save water and be be able to give a better future to our coming generations. WHO, World Health Organization recommends 2 gallons water per person per day to meet the daily requirements which is way less than what is used on a global level. We need to begin the conservation of water today. In order to see a better future!

Save Water! Save Life!

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The New Face Of I Am Still Human.

I am still human is an organization that aims at filling the youth with positive energy  and drive  out the negative energies from within and around them. We believe in the good within the youth and work towards creating a positive environment   around  them while treating and being a part in their lives as nothing less than friends.
Our new logo has been made with the utmost precision by the Yellow Cursor with the same thoughts in mind. The new logo bares colors of happiness of joy with each colour symbolizing some aspect of our vision or approach.
Orange representing the positive energy we want to spread out, our optimism and our ability to treat and be treated as nothing less than friends.
Yellow representing the knowledge we want to spread, innovation that we want to use in our tasks and the illumination we hope to carry with ourselves.
Green here represents our desire for constant growth, the harmony we hope to provide within our society and the freshness we dream of bringing into our ideas and efforts.
Blue represents the calmness like the sea with its strong base but effortless power.
The new logo emphasizes on the characteristic of humanity that we want to enrich within the society with a human figure a the core, carved out of I. The letters of IASH can also be found in the negative spaces.
The new logo aims at inspiring the humanity within all of us and involve you in our work towards helping the youth of our society.
We would like to thank the Yellow Cursor for designing this logo  and helping us move forward in our endeavors. y

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VICHAAR 1.0

On 30th april 2016, I Am Still Human conducted Vichaar 1.0. it was a platform for college students all over the Tricity, to discuss upon issues and problems they may face in their daily lives. With the event taking place in the amphitheatre in city park, sector 68, Mohali, it attracted a lot of crowd from the nearby areas and colleges due to being the very first discussion mainly over the youth . The amphitheatre was full and lively with over 200 people in attendance.

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The event Vichaar, is one of the organizations latest endeavours to create constructive discussion amongst the youth of the society. It was a discussion between panellists from the Punjab University Student Union , panel consisting of Mr Nijog Singh ( acting president), Mr Tejinder Singh ( media consultant) , Mr Kamal Brar and Mr Navkarn Sandhu ( upcoming acitivists), a Moderating panel consisting of of Bobbee Singh , a state awardee in social service, Mrs Vandana, principal at The Tribune school, Mr Gulshan Sharda, General Manager at Hindustan times and Mr Rajesh Gupta, an advocate in criminal law and the audience. They believe that creating discussion is the very first step to bringing a change in our society. The idea is that when people discuss something, they become aware of the various aspects of it and this opens their eyes to new interpretations and solutions to the very same things. Keeping in mind the target audience of the organisation the theme for Vichaar was chosen as ‘Issues in Student Life’.
The audience was given a free reign for asking any questions that they had pertaining to the theme. The discussion saw several important issues raised such as possession of arms in colleges, eve-teasing, substance abuse etc. The audience was full of enthusiastic and inquisitive members of the society who revelled in the questioning round. The questions seemed to raining down on PUSU from all sides but they held their own and answered all of them with extreme precision. The moderating panel did not back down either and their questions were received with utter caution as they brought about issues that the discussion should have been moving towards, for example, Bobbee Singh brought up the question of safety of women in colleges and also outside itc

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The event started and ended on a high note with the audience humming along to Sahil Sharma . He took the audience by storm with his music, with all the aggression dissolving as his songs carried on. It seemed the perfect end to a wonderful day.

We would like to thank our sponsors without whom these event wouldn’t have been possible. Our sponsor for the event were  91healthcap- the complete helpline for health line , Hindustan times- delivering the right news at the right time , the Sach Foundation-providing education to the needy, Campus TV, PU pulse, PU mirror, Punjab University Radio,  Punjabi Live Tv, La pinoz ,Foodmasters  , homemade food Dhabha , Maati the boutique and Yellow Cursor.

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The Hypocrite Zone

The Indian political scene will always be a conversation starter in every household. When face painted bahus and katharnak sasumas fail to amuse, one flicks the channel to the loud, wrathful tones of Arnab Goswami and the puffy, red faced politicians sharing screen space with him. The Government did this. The Government did that. Inflation, the nation’s worsening state, corruption, economy, religion, poor infrastructure and your husband’s infidelity- it’s all the government’s fault.

We, as a nation, exist today in a state of lazy restlessness. We are ready for the world to change, we are eager to see those money eating bastards go to jail already, ready to shout slogans and gather in hordes and skip work but we are not ready to get off the couch to contribute two hours to social welfare, not ready to give money to those who need it and not ready to fight harder than the next man. What’s the point? The government’s got machinery and people for that kind of extra-occupational matters. We’ve got to work hard and get a job and make money, money, money. Paise seh duniya chalti hai bhai. Aaj kal bhalayi ka zamana kaha? Itna hi shauk hain to jayoh na Benaras, pahan lo lungi aur ban jayo saadu.

India is a developing country. India is the fastest growing economy in the world after China and India’s got one of the largest armies on the planet. India is also a country of mediocre men who only preach hypocrisy and judgment and religious intolerance. The decent sort tend to run away to other countries.

Isn’t it time to look beyond the little universes we’ve built around us? Isn’t it time to burst the bubble? Isn’t it time to mean what we say and stand by what we believe?

So next time you’re sitting in the car and eating oranges, stop your friend from throwing the peels outside on the sidewalk like his father is the Maharaja of Hindustan. Don’t urinate out in the public. Be kind to your country.

Start small. But do start, nonetheless. Don’t just sit. For god’s sake, don’t just sit there.

And oh, I nearly forgot. Stop blaming the government.

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The Growing Problem Of Substance Abuse

The world we live in today is a world where everything is readily available. Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, countries are becoming more and more developed, standards of living are continuously rising, and most importantly, people are becoming more and more open minded and becoming more tolerant than ever before. In such a fast-paced, developed, ever changing society, the prevalence of substance abuse hardly comes as a surprise. Substance abuse is something that nobody, young or old, is a stranger to. Substance or drug abuse, as it is popularly known, is a patterned use of a drug in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others, and is a form of substance related disorders.

From a time, some 30 years ago, when Hollywood and Bollywood actors used to hold a cigarette in one hand and a glass of scotch in the other, drinking and smoking seemed to appear as a very “cool” thing for people. If one would drink or smoke, they would automatically be counted among the cool people. Who would have thought that half a century down the line, this would be a major problem in a society and be the hindrance towards a stronger and more developed nation tomorrow?substance-abuse

The open mindedness and easy access to substance and alcohol has given rise to a class of youth which are extremely smart but extremely lethargic. Over the last 10 odd years, the number of smokers and drinkers in India has risen by a fairly great margin. Statistically speaking, India has the 2nd largest number of women smokers, next only to the United States of America. Today, a lot of the youth of our country are also heavy consumers of recreational drugs such as marijuana and other hard core drugs like cocaine, MDMA, ecstasy, acid, LSD, etc. The list is endless. While these drugs maybe fun to get high on and while they may help the person in shying away from their problems and responsibilities, one cannot deny or ignore the fact that these drugs cause a great deal of physical, emotional, mental and psychological problems in the long run.

I am not advocating the ban of these drugs. I am not saying that one should completely be aware of their priorities. If we don’t have fun now, then when do we? When do we live life carelessly? All I’m saying is that while it is a great idea to party and smoke up, drink and party on the high LSD and acid give you, it is an equally good idea to know your responsibilities and to know where to draw the Lakshman Rekha and not step out of it.

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Lakshayam- A Ray Of Hope.

We all nurture a passion but few translate it into action. A passion left unanswered results in a dry life; an act driven by passion can transform lives. This defines the journey of Rashi Anand and the dream she nurtures.

Rashi is the founder of Lakshyam, an NGO working for street and underprivileged children in Delhi. The idea behind the noble venture was the sheer number of street children in Delhi that totals over alakh. What are these vulnerable kids falling prey to? Drugs, beggary,pick-pocketing and prostitution to name a few. Rashi discovered a zeal among these children to do something meaningful in their lives; they only needed support.rashi-anand-blingg-bazaar

Today, Lakshyam has a school in the name of Sakshyam located in Vasant Kunj in a slum area where 200 children are provided necessities such as education and taught crafts. The organization also conducts workshops with street children under the flyovers, in the red light areas and at the railway stations to aware them against drug addiction and tobacco intakes.

Within a span of a year and a half, Rashi’s efforts have taken Lakshyam to such heights that it has a presence across six states namely Jharkhand, Delhi , Bangalore, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Rashi can recall vividly a scene of a group of street children playing enthusiastically, cheering and chirping. But what did they play with? Discarded tires, empty plastic bottles and stones. She compared the picture with kids more privileged who are blessed with real toys and play inside swanky homes. This instigated her to start a campaign named Lakshyam Toy Library in under which huge boxes were placed in 12 esteemed schools of Delhi and students were motivated to donate their toys. The response was surprisingly huge with a collection of over 60,000 toys and books in the boxes. These were distributed to street children in Delhi. As the number was massive, Lakshyam tied up with organizations in different states as a result of which toys were sent to rural villages ofBihar, Kurnool village, Theni district and Refugee camps in Dharamshala to name a few.

At the age of 18, Rashi was the board member of Lakshya, an NGO founded by her mother Poonam Anand who has worked for tribal women, against naxalismand in the red belt area in the state of Jharkhand.

She has opened an orphanage in Ranchi city. Also, she has worked for three years with blind, deaf and dumb children.

Rashi considers her mother as her idol and fondly recalls all the trips she made with her as a child to rural and tribal villages. Her travels have made her sensitive to the problems of the underprivileged. “I feel blessed that even at a young age of 25, I have been able to touch the lives of at least 7381 people, making a difference – small or big – in those lives,” she says.
Rashi’s aim is to see every woman stand on her feet and every kid enjoy a normal childhood. She feels that every one of us must give back to the society in any way possible, be it voluntary or monetary services. She says that if we go into theses hunned areas and have a first-hand experience of the lives the dwellers lead, we’ll know how valuable our lives are.

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The Contradiction

When asked what being a girl means to various guys, we are usually told that it is very easy, that we always have the option of falling back onto marriage if our careers do not lift off as well as we hoped. The irony here is great because most women are doing excellent in their careers but according to their families, only the trophy of being married matters, everything else is just a hobby that may drift away in a while.

Marriage is just an example, what the society is actually producing in us is a contradiction. A contradiction between being Independent and being what the society wants us to be. We are told to not be scared of the outside world, but then we are put in cages for our “protection”. We are told to go out, discover ourselves and find our identities, but one step forward and we are pulled back every time, so we try to figure out who we are in the little corners of the society that we are told to live in.

I think all of us have been the victims of the emotional d5095661rama that follows asking for permission for something you may have not done before like going out for dinner with your friends. And then you are blamed for ruining everyone’s mood because you finally got the courage to ask for freedom. That’s not what a girl is supposed to do in our society, at least the primitive part of society because the new generation is just pushing us to do so.

Even if we do escape the clutches of this Neanderthal thinking, and go out into the world, our minds are poisoned with various fears so that we eventually give up and come back to mother nests, living like nothing more but second grade dependents.

Our society can be considered to be a joke, because it’s in the process of changing so it believes in empowering women but it hasn’t changed completely so practically implementing women empowerment is nowhere to be seen. It’s like teaching a bird to fly but then telling it, why don’t you just fly in the cage, what’s the need to go outside?

So this is what it really feels like, being a girl, fighting against yourself and the society and yourself almost every day because you want to be great and you want to be independent but the society has other plans for you, so you fight a little everyday just to make your place in the world, just to feel a little better about yourself but sometimes the societal pressure becomes so much that all your will to fight just dissolves into thin air and you find yourself nodding yes to all questions while dying a little inside. So, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like in my world, a girl’s world, how “easy” it is, here’s a summary of it.

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JK Rowling – The Fandom’s Favourite

Everyone’s heard about her. You would know her as the author of Harry Potter, the most selling fantasy novel series in the history of the world. She’s one of the most richest women in the world, with a legacy that grows every second of every year as more and a more children discover the magic of her writing. What most people don’t know, however, is that once upon a time she was just Jo, newly divorced, mother of a baby daughter and a very poor woman desperate for survival.

This is the not the usual, run off the mill , rags to riches story. This is a story about a woman hitting rock bottom and living to tell the tale.

As far as backstories go, Rowling had a pretty unremarkable childhood. She was born in Scotland, in The United Kingdom, to two unremarkable parents. She was closer to her mother and was always at heads with her father. She was a studious child with a conscientious temper and went to college like all the good children.

After stepping out into the real world was when Rowling’s problems really started. She and her husband, whom she had married early, started having problems. Things became so bad that she had to file a restraint order against her own spouse and soon, Rowling found herself alone, with a little baby by the name of Jessica to look after, with almost nothing to her name.

Rowling then proceeded to hit rock bottom.

She had no money. She had a baby and babies were expensive. She was so poor she had to depend on social security to make sure she could put food on the table and her flat was broken into by burglars. Her mother died.

Rowling said that as a child, a thing that had terrified her had been failure. To have nothing and be nothing, according to her, was worse than anything. And it happened to her and she could do all but nothing, helpless to its assault.

This was the time when Jo became J.K Rowling. She realised she had failed at life, just like she had feared, and that she was still alive and that she could do nothing but to go on like usual, because she still had a daughter whom she adored and an old typewriter and big ideas. She realised that failure helped her liberate herself from the expectation she had burdened herself with and be somebody who she really was, a woman dreaming about a small boy wizard named Harry.

Failure made her a survivor rather than a victim, a realist rather than a fantasist. She had infinite opportunities before her and there was nowhere to go but up.

Her book script was rejected by twelve publishing houses. The last one, the fated one, had a child read the story for evaluation. The child demanded more. The book was published. The rest, as they say, is history.

This is the not the usual, run off the mill, rags to riches story. This is a story about a woman finding freedom in failure.

This is a story about a hero.

What we achieve inward will change our reality

-Plutarch, as quoted by J.K Rowling in her Harvard speech.

 

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