Take care of yourself before helping others: Nilekani

DH Changemakers 21 in 2021: Take care of yourself before helping others, says Rohini Nilekani

Panel discussion by SR Ramakrishna, Writer Vivek Shanbhag and author and philanthropist Rohini Nilekani at BIC, Bengaluru on Friday. DH Photo/Pushkar V

Change is the only constant in life, said writer, author and philanthropist Rohini Nilekani, at a panel discussion with Kannada story writer, novelist and playwright Vivek Shanbhag, on what change means to them at the DH Changemakers 21 in 2021 event here on Friday.

Joining the event at the Bangalore International Centre virtually, Nilekani had one advice that stuck with the 21 Changemakers. "Just like they say, put on your oxygen mask before helping others, before every flight, take care of yourself before trying to change the lives of others. It is important to take care of yourself first," she said.

On how she had adapted to the changes caused due to the pandemic, Nilekani eloquently said, "Change need not be a ruler, it need not be swept under the carpet. Anthropologists, biologists, and scientists have said how our species finds it difficult to adapt to change. But just over a period of one year, two billion people have learnt to wear masks on their faces. We have learnt to deal with change. A lot of people went under due to Covid-19, but we did adapt to change."

Shanbhag had a linguistic take on what change meant to him. He said, "Change has always been a struggle. We experience change through language. Change in society is reflected through language. For example, a book published 50 years ago evokes certain memories, and is indicative of that period's history." He went to cite the example of his book 'Huli Savaari.' "I felt the language then was not ready to capture a corporate story, that experience. So much has happened in 30 years," he said.

'Change mindsets'

Nilekani was quick to point out that real change can't be brought about without changing mindsets. "When we're younger, we think we know everything," she quipped. She recalled her upbringing in a middle class family and simple living, and the transition thereon to a wealthy lifestyle. "I was a leftist then. We were taught one thing: Simple living but high thinking. Infosys did well and we became wealthy. Wealth can be an opportunity to change," she said.

Both the panellists were astound with the range of change that the 21 DH Changemakers brought about in society. "These changemakers have looked for solutions to everything: from space debris to dye for molecular testing. A good society is a foundation of all human progress," she said.