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The guests at the xMonks Drive, each of them have a defining moment. It is like listening to real-life heroes, who fought the stigmas, stereotypes, their prejudices to reach where they are. One such change-maker on this week’s episode is Puja Marwah, the founder of CRY.

Here is a shortened and edited script of the conversation with her about living an anchored life and her journey.

We are not in same India

During my MBA, I was supposed to survey the people in the village and I was talking to this old lady. And she looked at me and she said, “I want to see a bus before I die.”

And to me, I mean that, that, that those two years and meeting those people in that village was a turning point to realize that my India was not the India I had been brought up in that they would, there was this other India, where independence or freedom had not brought them anything, if not brought them water, or education or health or roads for a bus.

Do you know what I mean? And it just blew my mind away from that I didn’t know that I was brought up in ignorance of what existed or that I grew up, you know, barely in my own life.

I think you know, it set me thinking. It set me thinking about the first time it gave me this recognition of this other idea, the one I had not seen, and also of the feeling of a set of people who have been deprived of everything.

How Are We Adding Value to the Society We Are Part Of?

The more and more now I interact with people, the more I realized that there’s a deep need in most of us, if not everyone, to ask ourselves this question. How relevant am I? Yeah, with the gifts, all the talents, all the accomplishments, all the education that I have accumulated for myself. How am I adding value to the society that I’m a part of? How, what kind of meaning am I living my life from?

Let me just share this complete quote with you by Marianne Williamson. She said, our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful. beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. Yeah, we are all meant to shine as children do.

Take Charge of the New Culture

To move from a culture that would have never accepted questioning, to one, which is constantly questioning was very hard. There’s been the pain of being proven wrong. There’s been the joy of being loved. And there has been I think what has helped me right from first to the second year was seeing the work on the ground. Meeting the people who lead their communities, despite huge obstacles, understanding that everybody in the organization attempted attempts, even today to be sincere and true to the work that they do. Even if they’re fighting on something, or there’s an argument on something, it is because it will fundamentally affect the work.

I think that’s a huge component of leadership to just be able to believe, I think you have to also believe that you are not a victim or inheritor. You have to as a leader, believe that you can shape things, that cultures are shapeable, and human beings will find the best in themselves if given the space. So, when you’re leading an organization, you are not a victim of it. You cannot stand aside from it and say I don’t really like this system. But rather take charge and say I have to do it because I’m here.

If you think something needs to be changed, change it.

Stay Anchored in Life

I’ve realized that if I can anchor myself in my own deepest values, in my belief in my own potential, and and others for both, if I can anchor myself in integrity, both for myself and for others. Then these two can take me through any small conversation to a large crisis. Yeah, because these are my anchors, they say no, that you Yeah, all of us have a bedrock right. Yes. Something that holds us steady. So even if the world you know, rocks or some moon, we come back to straight. Yeah. And it is that, you know, if I can bring myself to remember it and anchor myself in it, I’m okay.

About The Speaker: Puja Marwah

Puja Marwaha CEO – Child Rights and You (CRY), believes that children are the very foundation of every nation’s growth and development aspirations. It was this belief that fuelled her passion for children’s rights and inspired her to become a full-fledged part of the social sector in 1994.

After a liberal arts and Human Resources development education, Puja Marwaha made the transition from the corporate to the social sector early in her career. Having worked earlier with various corporate organizations, she joined CRY in 1994 to set up the organization’s Human Resources function. In 2002 she moved into more general management roles in CRY. Today, Puja is the Chief Executive Officer at CRY, India’s leading child rights organization.

Puja believes that children should be at the heart of all human development work. This belief informs her passionate interest and involvement in children and their potential. Throughout her work, Puja has been involved in the nurturing of a large number of organizations and people, enabling them to connect at the level of individual belief, to the vision of all rights, for all children.

For the past 25 years, Puja has helped build an organizational framework for CRY that best captures the essence of justice and equity. Her work is focused on the creation of an organizational character that attempts to foster a passion for children, a high degree of individual accountability to children, and a belief in every person’s potential to bring change for children. She currently also serves on the board for VANI – Voluntary Action Network India – in an endeavor to strengthen public mobilization for social causes.

Listen to the unscripted and raw conversation with the leading lady at xMonks Drive Podcast. Tune in now.

How should you add value to society?

We should add value to the society we are a part of by using our skills, our education, our talents, and our gifts.

Are we part of the same India?

The goal of living has excluded a major chunk of our population. The status of our values has completely rejected the invisible. The India we live in is not the same. There is another India that ignores education, roads, or even bus-the basics.

What is the concept behind New India?

New India is India where society is ruled by the status of the person rather than the values, it is India that ignores education and the basic necessities of the poor, and the others who are a part of it don’t even bother for them.

What is taking charge of the new culture?

Believe that you are a leader, not a victim, take charge of the culture around you.  Shape them as humans find the best in themselves if given the space. You cannot stand aside from it and say I don’t really like this system. But rather take charge and say I have to do it because I’m here.

Who is Puja Marwah?

Puja Marwaha is the CEO of – Child Rights and You (CRY). She believes that children are the very foundation of every nation’s growth and development aspirations.