7 Things Young India can Learn from Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died last Thursday at the age of 93 at New Delhi’s AIIMS hospital.

He became the prime minister of India 3 times and is known as the man who went the extra mile to shape the foreign policy of India.

He steered India out of difficult economic times, so clearly he should have a lot to teach us, right?

Here are 7 lessons on what every young Indian can learn from him:

1. Big Places don’t define your lives.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born in Gwalior. Yet, he became the Prime Minister of India three times (May 16 1996, to June 1, 1996, 1998 to 1999 and 1999 to 2004).

The place we are born doesn’t define what we can accomplish in life. Atal Bihari made his own path and fought to do big things. .We can make big differences regardless of our origins, is all up to us.

Atal Bihari as a child

2. Do not let Money kill your dreams.

Your parents may not be wealthy and powerful, but why should you let that dull your dreams?

Vajpayee’s father Krishna Bihari Vajpayee was a school teacher and his mother, Krishna Devi, a housewife. Nevertheless, Atal Bihari had big dreams, and he followed them!

So if you never doubt your ability on accomplishing your dream, you can definitely get there.

3. Don’t let the world affect you with their opinions.

A year after India won its freedom, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was abandoned. But Vajpayee, who was a member of the RSS, never gave up on his ideologies.

He was a founder member of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the political parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

After the Jan Sangh became part of the Janata Party, the issue of dual membership was raised.

atal bihari vajpayee

Atal, along with other former Jan Sangh ministers in Morarji Desai’s Janata Party government was told to give up their membership of the RSS, but they refused to abandon the organisation.

Like Vajpayee, don’t let the world force their opinions on you.

If you believe in something, stick with it even if the world thinks you are wrong.

4. No mentor? Don’t let that affect you.

Vajpayee was 29 years old when he lost his mentor, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who died mysteriously.

He was really upset about Mookerjee’s untimely death. Yet he carried on his party work with other leaders, like Deen Dayal Upadhyay and L K Advani.

Having a mentor can make your path easier, but, like Vajpayee, you can forge ahead even if you don’t have one.

5. Always learn from your past.

In the 1998’s election, the BJP won 182 seats. Again, it was short of a majority.

This time, Atal Bihari knew what he had to do. He didn’t resign like he did in 1996.

Instead, he formed an alliance with 13 partners under the banner of the National Democratic Alliance and went on to form the government.

So, if you don’t succeed once, it does not mean you will not succeed if you try again. Plan carefully and gather together people who will support you in your endeavour.

6. Try your best to resolve issues peacefully.

Despite his best intentions, he was betrayed by Pakistan twice. However, he never gave up on his dream of a harmonious relationship with India’s neighbour.

atal bihari

In February 1999, he travelled to Lahore for peace talks, but got the Kargil war in return.

2 years later, he invited Pakistan’s military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, for a summit in Agra to once again discuss peace. In December that year, Parliament was attacked.

He still persevered and visited Pakistan in 2003, for the SAARC summit.

If the goal is important enough, keep trying.

India may not have succeeded in making peace with Pakistan, but it is possible that you will achieve your goal. Few young people from both the countries are friends and help each other.

Right now, instance, there are people from Pakistan who want to help Kerala.

video of Yuvraj Singh asking for help for Kerela

7. Never give up

In 1998, the Vajpayee government lost the no-confidence motion by a single vote.

Vajpayee refused to give up. The BJP contested the 1999 election with vigour and won.

Sometimes, all you need is a belief, gumption and hard work. That will lead you to success.

Today, BJP has started the Kalash Yatra to immerse our Atal Ji’s ashes in rivers across India.

Let’s take out 1 minute from our daily schedule and pray for his beautiful soul.

Let us know in the comments if you learned something more from Atal Ji! We’d love to know it 🙂

If you like this post you may also like: “How Young People Contribute to changing the world every day”.

Do you want to contribute towards United Nations’ SDGs and help us change the world? Check our leadership programs at www.aiesec.in

Written by

Anisha Bhawanani is graduated in Marketing and Finance and loves writing. She is a happy go lucky girl with a head full of dreams, very passionate about traveling and exploring different cultures. One day she wants to win a man booker prize.

How to be a Harry Potter in the world of Muggles

Over the last 20 years, Harry Potter has impacted millions of us, crossing time and generations when doing so.

How many of us have grown up wishing to be a wizard and waiting for our letter from Hogwarts? I bet that right now, somewhere in the world, there’s a kid dreaming about the wizarding world, wishing to be a part of it.

harry potter flying on a hippogriff

Magic aside, the series taught us some most important things that we need to focus on in our life. From the first book and until the most recent movies, there’s always a new lesson about responsibility and leadership.

Haven’t you noticed it?

Here are some 4 lessons I learnt with Harry Potter:


1. Leaders are made, they are not born

As an infant, Harry survived an attack by Lord Voldemort, and acquired fame as “The Boy Who Lived”.

He grew up without knowing any of that and, when he entered the wizarding world, he was surprised to know the legends about him and how heroic everyone considered him. Despite this, he remained grounded and was always seeking to learn and gain more knowledge, rather than just taking a heroic status that was gifted upon him by others.

Harry Potter as a baby

In the end, Harry owned his title as a hero through his own actions and leadership skills, right?

He didn’t accept that it was his responsibility to be a hero because of people telling him that. Instead, he made it his responsibility because he saw the importance of his actions and decisions.

A true leader is not told to be a leader, but they just can’t stand in front of injustice and do nothing. They have strong values, as Harry had.

We can see this change also in many other characters, such as Neville Longbottom.

Starting as a modest child with low confidence, Neville mishandled his way through secondary school, once in a while leaving a positive impact on anybody he met with.

neville longbottom saying he'll fight his friends

For several times he showed purpose and bravery. Because of his own strong will to evolve during the years that he spent in Hogwarts, Neville could grow a lot in confidence. He assumed an instrumental part in the last Clash of Hogwarts, again showing that leaders are made, not born.

2. Knowing its own strengths it’s a big step in leadership

In Harry’s 5th year at Hogwarts, the school goes through hard changes in its rules and class schedules. This happened because the Ministry of Magic didn’t want young wizards talking about the return of Voldemort. It was pure censorship.

Most of the students were angry at the new policies, as they felt powerless and vulnerable without the chance to learn Defence Against the Dark Arts in such uncertain times.

Hermione took the lead and proposed the arrangement of a secret study group. She knew how Harry had a lot of practical knowledge in Defence Against the Dark Arts, due to his past experiences with Voldemort, and suggested him (not to say pushed) to lead the Dumbledore’s Army (D.A.).

Dumbledore claping and subtitles "Dumbledore is pleased"

That’s where Harry got really aware about his potential.

Maybe he would never have accepted that if Hermione didn’t tell it to his face. Sometimes you just need someone telling you: “you should do this because you’re good at it”.

And thanks Hermione for that,  after all, leadership is a lot about how well you know yourself, right?

3. True leaders inspire others to be better

Dumbledore’s Army began with the aim of being a place to study and practise magic, going against the new wave of authority at Hogwarts, but it ended up filling a substantially bigger need.

The students who went to D.A. gatherings where the people who needed to learn and enhance their magic, and they built up their aptitudes at a quick rate through Harry’s direction.

Dumbledore's Army claping

Later that year, when a battle was approaching, Harry was prepared to fight without anyone else. He felt it was his responsibility alone and that he couldn’t ask anyone to risk themselves.

But a good leader makes people feel capable and empowered. Hence, Neville stood up and said that the whole D.A. should go to, as this was their opportunity to fight and to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

By role modelling courage and bravery, and putting time into building up his companions, Harry could enable and empower different leaders. After Harry fled Hogwarts, years later, Neville assembled and led a new D.A.,  preparing them to face the last battle at Hogwarts.

Dumbledore's Army had something worth fighting for

This is a true sign of effective leadership – by empowering his followers, Harry helped new leaders to come up.

4. No one can lead alone

Harry, Hermione and Ron are regularly admired for how complementary they are and how solid their bond is. The trio shows how the best leaders are the individuals who centre around their qualities.

Aren’t they just friendship goals?

Harry Ron and Hermione laughing in the snow

Harry never hesitates to speak his mind, he makes the team be fearless and talk about ‘unspeakable’ things. He is confident and free, ready to trust in his abilities in face of troubles and huge difficulties.

He‘s also driven by an inborn need to put things right.

Hermione is a supplier and an anchor. She is ingenious and mindful and adopts an exceptionally even minded strategy. As opposed to Harry, she’s able to control her impulses and think things through before acting, something that comes in hand many times, when others couldn’t think properly.

Ron, in the meantime, ties the gathering together with his feeling of loyalty and brotherhood. His benevolence and will to help other people, even if shown in the goofiest way, is just lovely.

gryffindor students cheering

5. Leaders don’t close their eyes to the issues around them

During the entire Harry Potter series, Harry and his friends were always concerned about the issues Hogwarts was going through. They were willing to anything at risk the course of exploring the problems and looking for solutions, always keeping in mind the safety of the other students.

They just couldn’t close their eyes when something seemed wrong.

Hermione breaking rules

That’s how true leaders are, right? Our world is our Hogwarts and we have to learn about the issues that it is facing now.

After all, we are the one, who have to stand-out, like these incredible wizards, and take action to make our life legen-wait for-it-Dary!

Let’s take the first step and be a Wizard of change in the world full of muggles?

Let us know in the comments if you ever did some magic to make the world a better place!
We’d love to know it 🙂


If you like this post you may also like: Things we wish the school would have taught us”.

Do you want to make a difference and contribute towards United Nations’ SDGs?
Check out our opportunities at www.aiesec.in

Written by

Anisha Bhawanani is graduated in Marketing and Finance and loves writing. She is a happy go lucky girl with a head full of dreams, very passionate about traveling and exploring different cultures. One day she wants to win a man booker prize.

History of International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and we ardently celebrate it. But have you ever paused to think why we are doing this? Did you ever think that maybe there was a reason behind this and if there is, then what is it? I think I can safely say that you didn’t.

Did you know that International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900’s? Here’s a brief history of Women’s Day.

1908 march

Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women’s oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

march 101910
In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zelkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs, greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.

Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events.

On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity.

On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.











1918 – 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as ‘International Women’s Year‘ by the United Nations.

2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.


The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.