I called my parents in India this morning. I do this almost every day. But I realized that today (Oct/2) is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and his 144th birth anniversary. Then, during my morning jog, in the neighborhood park, on this lovely autumn day in Connecticut, a train of thoughts rushed through my mind. I want to keep this short — especially since I am now reading a book titled How to Write Short — and post it on the Cabot Cloud Computing blog because everything is in the cloud these days!
In addition to my parents and grandfather, growing up as a young boy and attending the St. Vincent’s School in Pune, India, I was influenced by two centenarians who recently celebrated their centennial birth anniversary: Rev. Fr. Rudolf Schoch (100 years) and the other Mahatma Gandhi (144 (12 * 12) years – “100” in the Duodecimal (base 12) number system). Mankind decided to broadly adopt and popularize the decimal system out of sheer serendipity and convenience instead of alternative systems such as the duodecimal system. So today, we have ten digits instead of a possible twelve digits in the duodecimal system or sixteen in the hexadecimal system, etc.
Fr. Schoch was a great admirer of Gandhi. I have fond memories of listening to him teach classes on Gandhian thought and values. He was our principal at St. Vincent’s when I first entered St. Vincent’s in Grade 1. Then he returned as principal again when I was in Grade 10. I consider myself privileged to have had the opportunity to learn about Gandhi from Fr. Schoch. I paid close attention to his classes despite my singular fascination, those days, with math – even at the risk of failing at other subjects. Today, I am glad to have listened and learned from Fr. Schoch. He and his many Jesuit contemporaries built the strong educational system (schools and colleges) in India. Their efforts continue to make our world a better place.
So, let’s celebrate the centennial birthdays (in two different number systems) of two great men who each toiled to uplift mankind – one very personal to me – a Jesuit priest who dedicated his life to educate the poor and needy “making gentlemen out of boys” and the other a freedom fighter and an apostle of non-violence “shining light on a nation”. Yes – the intense focus of modern educators these days is on numbers and letters (reading, writing and arithmetic) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). But when the cloud clears, the enduring lesson from these two centenarians is pure and simple: focus on building enduring values.