Letter No 91 - Hungry kya?

Dear friend

The hungry are the new privileged.

The American psychologist and author Madeline Levy, writes in her book ‘The Price of Privilege’ that ‘kids who have everything easily available can often feel empty.’ Her shocking realisation over 25 years of counselling teenagers was that, children who come from an affluent background, often pay a heavy price. The price they pay is that of their self-motivation, drive or hunger towards building a meaningful and joyful life for themselves. They get bored too easily. They get lazy too often.

Steve Jobs famously said in his speech to the graduating MBA class at Stanford University in 2005, "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish".

Hunger (of another kind) is a blessing.


Let me share my own story with you. When I was growing up, my family was reasonably well off. My father had moved base from Kolkata to Pune. He had started his business, taking the plunge with 50% of the sum total of his father’s life’s savings… a meagre Rs.1.5 lacs. He had to support his sisters' weddings too.

My mother and father created their life from scratch. They had hunger.

Hunger makes you push yourself. Hunger makes you want to create something. Hunger is a gift.


Me and my sister lived in a nice rented bungalow in a now premium area of Pune. We both studied at very good convent schools. We built connections with some good people in the city of Pune.

We started with little. I remember our house had almost no furniture. My father drove a 15 year old second hand jeep. But things kept getting better every year. Within a decade, we were doing very well. Dad had started two more factories, and financially we were more than stable.

Survival was definately not an issue. Our hunger was of a different kind.

Conversations with my parents would often revolve around the possibilities that the future held. We would love to talk about new business concepts, the progress of technology, philosophy, innovations that are changing the world and so on. We are fortunate that our parents always created a friendly and intellectually stimulating environment at home.

Yet, the ‘hunger' was only partial.

Things I needed were readily available. I got a bike when I was 17. I got a car when I was 19. I got a pager when I was 20. I got a mobile phone within two years of their launch. I got the kind of holidays I wanted. I got money to spend with friends. Buying good clothes and nice things was never an issue. Eating out at a nice restaurant was a twice or thrice a month affair. I was never greedy or materialistic. I knew what was within our means and what was not. I never made a fuss.


But, the truth is that the easy availability of good things takes away something from us. We pay the ‘price of our privilege’. I believe it dampens our 'hunger'. It denies us the experience of ‘longing’ for something. It denies us the experience of earning something through our efforts.

In fact, I realise that it is not really my fault that sometimes I am lazy. I’m lazy because my environment is very comfortable, I can afford to be lazy!!

Go ahead, blame it on the environment! After all, it’s not my fault that my parents were doing very well for themselves 😃

So, what to do?? I am ambitious. I want to do some brilliant, big, and beautiful things in my life. But being lazy is certainly not going to help.

Over the years, I learnt to look at it a little differently. Instead of blaming my environment, I’ve learnt to have tremendous gratitude for all the privileges I’ve received.


I realise now that all I need to do, is set the bar higher.

Some start with 0 create 100. Some start with 1 and create 100. I’m blessed to be starting with 100. Let me not settle for creating 110. Let me see if I can think about creating 1000! That’s all it takes - to expect much more of myself.

In my earlier days I was often very tough on myself and really beat myself up (emotionally) when I did not get the results I wanted. But now I’ve learnt to smile at my failures and learn from them. I’ve learnt to accept my strengths and shortcoming gracefully. I’ve learnt to dream of 1000, but take immediate action towards moving from 100 to 101 (well to be honest, I’m still learning this :-).

I’ve learn’t to keep filling myself with gratitude for every step of this brilliant journey. I’ve learn't to feed the hunger, not just the appetite.


I've rediscovered a different kind of hunger in me in the last 10 years - to make a difference in the education system, introducing a new measure of progress beyond academics based on their Body Of Work that measures grit, perseverance, commitment and willingness to DO!

We are creating a new kind of a degree - a 'working degree'. It's a degree for HUNGRY youth - those who want to break out of their comfort zones. Those who want to grow like crazy, create like crazy, and make a difference like crazy. Those who want to build an entrepreneurial mindset like crazy.

We are creating a scholarship competition for people in the age group of 16 to 25 who have been diligently following a passion or multiple passions at least for the last 2 years to recognise their Body Of Work.

Even if you are someone who likes to whistle new tunes, and you have done a lot of it, you qualify.

We are looking for the hungry ones. Because, where there is hunger, magic can happen. The skills, the attitudes, the knowledge and the platform we can give you - but the hunger is YOURs!

So, hungry kya?

Get in touch with me to know more about this contest or if you want to understand this new measure of progress we have introduced in the education space.