Mashaal and A Life of Purpose

Mashaal and A Life of Purpose

Mashaal has completed the fifth year; it is time to write about it.

It all began when (Late) Dr. Sheetal Amte involved Sujata Deshmukh, Dr Nobhojit Roy and me to work on designing a program on Leadership for Healthcare professionals. Things moved fast and we held the first program in September 2017. It must have ignited minds because it is carried on by Dr Anurag Mishra (Prof of General Surgery, MAMC, Delhi). Anurag (as everyone calls him) along with Dr Monty Khajanchi and later Dr Hitakshi Sharma took the mantle of leading this program, and they have done a splendid job! Unfortunately, Sheetal is not among us to see the success of the initiative which she started.

I will not go in to the technical aspects of what subjects are covered and the teaching methodology. This discussion is about why the Mashaal Movement as we call it has succeeded, and sustained for five years. Seven years actually if you account for a short hiatus which the pandemic caused.

It is important to discuss those matters which receive less attention but, in my opinion, are more important.

Mashaal has trained 150 Healthcare professionals so far. In its program on leadership development. Considering that Mashaal is organized largely on the goodwill of sponsors and the pro bono work of organizing team as well as facilitators, it is quite an achievement.

The success lies in the fact that Mashaal organizers are volunteers; Mashaal works propelled by their motivation and not on the push of money. Volunteering strengthens our sense of purpose, and it also binds us together. I have always wondered how a group which has no hierarchy works beautifully well together, bonds well among, something of a miracle in the hierarchy conscious Indian society. I had experienced this in Thane HR Group too.

It differs from the corporate world in that way – no hierarchy but effective in its work.

There are questions about sustainability of such groups. Thane HR Group crossed 25 years of its outstanding work albeit with a hiatus of three years. The hope is that those who are influenced by the purpose which drives Mashaal, will overcome all difficulties. Richard Byrne plays with words and makes astute statement – ‘The purpose of life is a life of purpose.’

That is the point! The purpose of life is a life of purpose!! I begin the program by explaining the difference between ‘Primary Greatness and Secondary Greatness.’ This has been so well explained by Stephen Covey. I quote him here:

‘Secondary greatness has to do with positions or titles, awards, wealth, fame rankings or rare accomplishments. Almost by any definition, secondary greatness can only be attained by a select few, an extremely small percentage of a population. Secondary greatness is largely determined by comparing one person against another. Primary greatness, on the other hand, is open to everyone. Every single person can have it; there are no bell-curve limits.

Primary greatness has to do with a person’s integrity, work ethic, treatment of others, motives, and level of initiative. It has also to do with a person’s character, contributions, talents, creativity and discipline.’ (Unquote)

At Mashaal the first step is to get the bearings right. That is achieved by understanding primary greatness. The foundation for understanding the Warren Bennis’ statement ‘Becoming a Leader is Becoming Yourself’ is laid at this first step.

During our daily work we do not get time to sit down and reflect on how we arrive at many decisions in our life, crucial or otherwise. We work like automatons. We lead our life well if we decide consciously, making our choices knowingly. We rarely reflect on the relationships we build, and yet we wish to be one of the most effective persons in our small little world.

Just as we need to find time to exercise to keep our body fit, we also need time to reflect. Three things matter most if we are to live a ‘life of purpose.’ We review our goals, our relationships with people and decide on our ways of rejuvenating. That’s where Mashaal steps in and holding hand, guiding way.

At the highest level of leadership, people follow you because of who you are and what you represent. At this stage, leaders often transcend their position, their organization, and sometimes their industry.

Sujata Deshmukh (CEO, Tutul Consulting) leads the facilitation by discussing many concepts and their practical application. She has the rare knack of weaving stories of daily life experiences to help gain insights in leadership. Her way of sharing insights through participative learning is unique.

Dr Nobhojit Roy explains, in his inimitable style, the ethical issues which healthcare professionals face and guides them on how to handle them. The most difficult decisions are not made in the corporate world; they are made in the clinics and operations theatres by the doctors and surgeons. Those are the decisions of life and death.

Our objectives for Mashaal guide us – Help healthcare professionals reconnect with their purpose, learn practical leadership lessons, and leverage each other’s experience. Simple and well defined.

Gradually the efforts of Mashaal team are bearing fruits. This year we had a medical practitioner from UK attending Mashaal.

Talking of fruits, I am reminded of my unique experience of plucking and eating fruits, Apricot, Plums and Peaches from trees. We held fifth edition of Mashaal at Satoli, Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand. We wanted use the seeds to plant more trees after consuming fruits.

That is a good metaphor for Mashaal. Get benefited by the selfless work and engage in selfless work.

Join the Mashaal movement if you are in the Healthcare Sector. Join us if you believe ‘The purpose of life is a life of purpose.’

Reach out to Dr Anurag Mishra (MAMC, Delhi) ( or to Dr Monty Khajanchi (KEM Hospital, Mumbai) ( or to Dr Hitakshi Sharma (MAMC, Delhi) (

PS: Feature Photograph ‘Lighting Fire’. Copyright. Vivek Patwardhan

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”