Let’s resolve again… today… for everyday (every time actually) is the start to a new year…

So another ‘Calendar Year’ is here (and the ‘newness’ of the year might have already gone. By the logic of my elders ‘Navyache Nau Diwas’, meaning novely of every new thing lasts only for Nine days.) … just an other Calendar year. Yet again the memes about new year resolutions which lasts just till the year is new, have flooded the timelines on various social media accounts (and I think by today most of these memes might have come true again) . There is some element of truth to these memes. Nothing to be ashamed of, but the observations are worth pondering. Why many of us get driven to make resolutions around new year, why very few of us are actually able to carry out what we resolve and can we program ourselves to keep more of the promises we make to ourselves?

What’s a Year?

A year is the time taken by Earth to orbit all the way around the Sun. A day is the time taken by Earth to revolve around its own axis for once (we have divided this time into 24 divisions called hours. Let me not go into more details of the day here, yet you can read about sidereal day, stellar day, etc.). Now, the length of the year is approximately 365.2425 days. But including a few hours of a day in one year and leaving others will cause confusion. So we generally have 365 days in a year and we accumulate the excess hours as an extra day (Gregorian Calendar).

(Do you Know: Hence 97 out of 400 years are leap years? Note, 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years but 2000 was a leap year along with every other year divisible by 4 but not divisible by 100. Again 2100 will not be a leap year. ).

Things get interesting with ancient Indian/Hindu Calendars (Old Shaka, Vikram Samvat, etc.). These calendars follow lunar months. Hence twelve months (masa, lunar month) is approximately equal to 354 days, which is about 11 days less than the length of a solar year. This creates a difference of about eleven days, which is offset every (29.53/10.63) = 2.71 years, or approximately every 32.5 months. Purushottam Maas or Adhik Maas is an extra month that is inserted to keep the lunar and solar calendars aligned. (There is an additional correction of  maas, when one month gets dropped/canceled for further corrections over longer durations- centuries)

(Do you Know: When I talked about the day, it was a 24-hour day of one complete revolution of Earth around itself. Apart from that divas (solar day- based on solar movement. One sunrise to another is 1 divas. Note that this time is not 24 hours) and tithi (lunar day – based on movements of the moon. A tithi also is not 24 hours but can vary between 21.5 hours to 26 hours.) are two concepts you can read about.)

Indian National Calendar, also known as Saka Calendar was prepared/adopted by the calendar reform committee led by Senior Indian Astrophysicist Meghnad Saha. by studying different calendar systems used throughout the country. It has the same length as that of the Gregorian year.

The Hijri or Islamic year also follows the lunar months and hence are 354 or 355 days in length.

(Throwback: During school days, while very early education of basic astronomy (as part of the geography syllabus) was being taught, I was very much confident that the time taken by Earth to complete one revolution around the Sun and reach some fixed point on orbit once again should be called a year. But later, I got to know that even the position of the orbit is not fixed and neither is the time for this revolution. This is one of the incidents that fuelled the understanding that we can not have ‘absolute’ knowledge about something.)

What’s a ‘New Year’?

Actually, when I thought a little deeper, there was nothing special about the moment when the calendar changes. A little more thought and it again felt special, along with countless other moments. (Remember, It is not just about one calendar but every other calendar. People generally use such information to discredit one thing and childishly think that it makes other things look better, by default.)

The current calendar according to which we just celebrated the new year is the Gregorian Calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII as a modification of the Julian Calendar. The Julian calendar day Thursday, 4 October 1582 was followed by the first day of the Gregorian calendar, Friday, 15 October 1582. The Julian calendar, first implemented by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C., had fallen out of sync with seasons since the Roman emperor’s system miscalculated the length of the solar year by 11 minutes. So the new year day of the Julian calendar is not the same day as the new year day of the Gregorian calendar… though both are the 1st of January in respective calendars.

Currently (from 1901 to 2099), Julian Calendar is behind the corresponding Gregorian date by 13 days. Some people around the globe (traditions who follow the Julian Calendar) will be celebrating the new year on the 14th of this month. But the Julian Calendar itself is a modification of the old Roman Calendar which used to start on the 1st of March, when September was the 7th, October 8th, and December 10th month as their names suggest. Though most of the world accepted first the Julian and then Gregorian Calendar as it should be for practical purposes in an increasingly connected world, the observation of the new year has been different at various times in various places. 25 March to honor Lady Day, 25 December as Jesus’ Birth, 29 August in Egypt (sometime), 23 September as the birthday of Emperor Augustus, etc. There was a time when 1 January was celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision and Naming of Jesus, but not as New Year’s Day.

Various European nations and colonies adopted 1 January as the start of the new year during different years, mostly when the Julian Calendar was still being used. To name a few, France in 1564, most of Germany in 1544, Spain and Portugal in 1556, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark in 1599, Scotland from 1600, and Russia in 1725. England, Wales, Ireland, and Britain’s American colonies did so in 1752.

The various calendars from the Indian Subcontinent, which mostly follow lunar months, celebrate the new year on different dates. A significant lunar position combined with social-cultural significance like the first new moon of Chaitra month (the first new moon after the solar equinox) is Gudhi padawa celebrated as new year day in Maharashtra and some other states of India. While in Gujarat, the new year starts with Kartik Month (which coincides with Diwali) of the same calendar, Vikram Samvat.

In the Indian National Calendar, Chaitra is the first month of the calendar. Chaitra has 30 days and starts on March 22 in non-leap years and in leap years, it has 31 days and starts on March 21. (Similar to Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian Solar Hijri calendar this start coincides with the March equinox.). But the diwas starts with Sunrise, so no point in staying awake for midnight strokes of 00:00 hrs.

In Islamic Calendar, the year begins on the first day of the month of Muharram. This keeps on changing with respect to the Gregorian calendar as there are no adjustments as per solar/sidereal year. A day in the Islamic calendar is defined as beginning at sunset, that’s when the new year starts.

What’s so special about ‘New Year’?

Till now you must have understood what a new year means and when does it start. If you don’t, you are not alone, we are two (at least).

The meaning of the year actually depends on the calendar accepted/followed by the socio-economic structures you are a member of. In the more connected world of this era of globalization, we find ourselves to be part of many such structures. For most of us, we are still following the native calendars of our forefathers for festivals, religious activities, events related to traditional occupation, etc. Yet, as global citizens need one calendar to be in sync, the Gregorian calendar is driving the most significant parts of our lives now.  We might decide on the various dates as the start of a new calendar year, new economic year, or new ‘personal’ year starting from your birthday, but the year we are talking about is majorly Gregorian. (How will your colleague from another part of this planet wish you on your birthdays as per say Vikram Samvat birth ‘tithi’ when it keeps falling on different Gregorian dates and times every year?).

Yet, who has denied us our right to observe any calendar in any way we want? But as per my understanding, most of us need some social confirmation from others about various events, and the more diverse your social circle, the more likely you are to go back to the Gregorian calendar.

Even in the Gregorian Calendar, every day is the start of a new year that is going to end next year at the exact same time (don’t be too smart to talk about 29th February. You already know what I mean.) So what if your resolution lasted only a few days and then discontinued ? If it’s still relevant, today another new year is starting. Go ahead and do it again. Don’t say I am never going to break my resolution again. Because everyone does (almost). Let’s be different by accepting it and doing it again. Let’s develop the awareness that every moment is special. Believe it and reap the benefits.

(Note: I started writing this piece on 30th December of 2022 and posting it today on 9th January of 2023. I had resolved to finish it in two days, but couldn’t. So what? I just kept on revisiting. I was sure, any day I finish will be a special day. Today MAXIMESS completed 14 years of incorporation and I am writing this finishing note sitting in Aundh (Pune), where some crucial meetings about the inception of MAXIMESS took place in 2008. My advice for myself if this article finds me 14 years ago? It’s Okay if you are not constantly at some tasks, make sure you revisit it today. The today in the title means the day you are reading this article. Yes, it starts now. )

Amazing Numbers : Interpretation and Understanding

Tesla founder Elon Musk’s net worth is $238 billion. How much is $238 billion?

A recent Statista article by Katharine Buchholz have interesting explaination for you. It says, “If the 50-year old started spending a dollar each second (without accumulating further wealth and the dollar not inflating or deflating), his current riches would last him more than 7,600 years.”

It’s only around 2000 years from Jesus time till now. If Elon Musk spends $1 per second, it will last his 7600 years. Interesting way to explain numbers, right?


If you want to go into calculations:

A billion is 10^9. 238 billion is 238 * 10^9 i.e. 238000000000.

One year have 60*60*24*365 = 31536000 seconds.

238000000000 divided by 31536000 = 7546.9 (To easily understand 238 * 10^9 divided by 31.5 * 10^6 gives us around 7.5 * 10^3 = 7500 approx.)


In the same article, she writes, “A million seconds are close to 12 days, a billion seconds amount to almost 32 years.” Though I always play around with numbers, such refreshing interpretation makes it interesting.  


If you want to go into calculations:

A million is 10^6. And One day have 60*60*24 = 86400 seconds.

1000000 divided by 86400 = 11.57 i.e. a million seconds is 12 days.

But then multiply by thousand and it is 11570 days i.e. 11570/365 =31.69 i.e. a billion second is 32 years.


I have enjoyed creating such wow moments for my students. One such interpretation came while making sense of the facts mentioned in textbooks. The radii of atoms are of the order of 10 ^ -10 m (10 Angstroms i.e. 10 raised to minus 10 metres) while nucleus of atoms had radii of the order of 10 ^ -15 m. So ratio os radii of atom and that of nucleus is 100000 = 10 ^ 5.

Then, to make them realise the comparative size, if radii of nucleus is 1 cm than radii of atom is 1 cm * 100000 = 1 km. Understand this, if atom have radius of 1 km (imagine a sphere of 1 km radius) the nucleus at its centre is of the size of a marble/a sphere of radius 1 cm. The students will start getting amazed at this point. 1 lakh i.e. 10^5 times does not make that impact which comparison of 1 cm and 1 km does make.

Now, this is just radius. By volume the ratio is 10 ^ 15. Really, really large number. That is the ration of empty space in atoms as almost all mass (protons and neutrons) is in tiny tiny nucleus. 

So I would ask, though not practically going to happen, imagine that every atom collapses and only protons, neutrons etc are present together (no space in between) Earth will become of a size of room with same mass and a human being will be a fraction of spoonful in volume while weighing same. 

In the classroom, teaching students to understand and interpret numbers is always an amazing experience. I think, some skills will be useful across the industries.

Let me know if you love such food for thought. I would love to serve if so.

Learning to Learn

Some days back, I saw a teacher using animation to teach how the human heart works. Now-a-days there are many new apps coming to the market, providing such animated/video content for visualization of various concepts. Majority of the teachers, students and parents are in awe of the ease of digital learning in the form of audio-visual content. But I sense few problems here and would like you to understand it so as to avoid its ill effects.

We must embrace digital technology for its many benefits such as all time availability, wider reach, compact storage etc. But if the approach is not right, students may miss some of the golden benefits of learning. I still remember how I learnt ‘working of the human heart’ during my school years. The experience is still very strongly imprinted in my memory. One of the ‘AHA’ moments of my learning I will never forget. I will use this example to make my case.

Source: Pixabay

I had this habit of trying to read things and try to understand before they are taught in school. So I was reading the sentences and then was trying to understand it using the diagram given in the same book. Slowly, I was building the whole picture. I was using my imagination to visually recreate the working of the heart in mind. I was connecting the part read and understood with new information coming in with each statement. If, at times, I struggled to understand a few lines, I would go further with the awareness of what is missing. If I could understand the next portion, I would find the context to understand earlier lines. Taking effort to read and make sense of it, build context from other parts of text, use other available tools to construct meaning… I would use it all during my studies. At the end, when I could understand the concept and see the whole picture, it was the most beautiful feeling. Maybe an AHA moment as people call it. I am aware of the use of these strategies by me from the age of 13–14 at least. Gradually, I improved in use of these strategies further.

I forgot how the human heart works in the next few years, apart from a few things. As new information and learning’s come in, our memory discards some old unused, unrevised information to make space for new. Most of us forget. Then what is the purpose of learning it in the first place? For me, I forgot the facts. But I learned how to think, how to read, how to make sense of new information, how to build complete pictures from many small connected bytes of information from the same topic and it stayed with me forever. I am happy I didn’t see any animation or gulp in the versions understood by my teacher at first. Because, not everything you learn stays with you, but your learning of how to learn will stay with you. Slowly, when you narrow down on your field or subject, many of the things you learned will fall out of relevance. But never the training of how to think.

Autobiographer of Albert Einstein, Denis Brian, tried to put Einstein’s view on education in the following words, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” I agree with Einstein with my experience. I now realize, when people defend the importance and benefits of education, I should ask what they mean by education. Mere learning of facts won’t make a good person or professional.

Education, when done right, has the potential to help us achieve much more. But isn’t it the time we revisit our beliefs about what education is and what should be our approach about it?

I should not forget to mention the role of motivation here. The AHA moments are addictive. If we know what is expected of us as learners, and we achieve it with our efforts, the sense of accomplishment activates the reward circuits in our brain. The associated interplay of chemicals and experiences in our brain imprints a memory of pleasure and we can get it. Result? We have motivation to repeat that experience. That’s the motivation to study.

In my experience, to understand the knowledge structure of any concept or subject, we should avoid trying to download someone else’s understanding as it is. The byte sized information, served gradually, allowing the learner to make sense out of it, to create meaning and build the knowledge structure by herself/himself is important.

Get Rumified

“Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.”

Rumi. His every word, every thought touches something very deep inside me. Is it because it’s very real or is it because it’s surreal ? Is it because it’s very comforting or is it because it’s unsettling ? Is it because it’s very true or is it because it’s beyond the truth ?

Rumi is reminder that everyone of us is bigger than we are, yet a small part of what we can be.

Remember, you are everything you are and everything you can be. Be the universe !

Luck Surface Area

‘Luck Surface Area’ is great concept modelled by Jason Roberts.

Surface Area of Luck

The formula is Luck Surface Area = D x T, where D is doing and T is telling. We can increase our chance of serendipity by doing and telling. We are increasing the probability of good thing falling in our yard by increasing its area. It makes sense actually.

Do great things and in great way. Network and tell people about you, your vision and work you do. By doing and telling, you are preparing yourself to make most out of the next opportunity coming your way. In Oprah Winfrey words, luck is preparation meeting moments of opportunity. So all the best to you for increasing surface are of your luck.

5 insights for learners: Things which help me with frequent domain/career change

2021 was another eventful year for me, highlight being my midlife career change.

After founding MAXIMESS (IT Services/ Digital Product Engineering Company) in 2009, I went on to found educational institute and worked in education domain for over 10 years. Meanwhile I co-founded a school and a co-operative credit society too. I was also active in social activism and experienced grassroots of our democracy by contesting state assembly election twice. So along with my primary work of teaching students and mentoring my colleagues in all my ventures, I have been doing many things here and there. At the start of 2021, considering the opportunities in front of MAXIMESS and my hunger for adventure, I decided to start actively working in IT as my primary work.

Couple of days back MAXIMESS turned 13. Now its around 10 months from when I actively started working in IT and started exploring the domain. Here, I am sharing my learnings in hope that it will help someone like me into similar transitions into any domain. ‘Self Regulated Learning’/‘Independent Learning’ is a skill which will help you in every industry, every demography and every era. To do that, I have learnt that when you start exploring a territory unknown to you, letting your curiosity be stronger than the doubt and using common sense to avoid critical mistakes puts you at advantage. Moreover, your ‘enthusiasm and motivation’ helps you make up for ‘lack of knowledge and expertise’.

I have always used following strategies to learn and to do better (it is not by design for this assignment, but crux of my lifelong learning across various domains and ventures):

1. Zoom In – Zoom Out: Attention to details at every level is important. Understanding the parts and how they connect to make the whole is right way to learn and think. I use this to understand verticals and horizontals of our organisation, skillsets and mindsets individuals, tools and processes used to deliver value etc and how it forms the organisational structure and culture.

Think it like zooming in and out on google map. When you zoom in you study a small area in very much detail and then you zoom out to see how it fits into bigger one. Do that systematically and you understand the whole.

2. Listen Actively – Ask Right Questions: There a lot you can learn from your peers. I took time top attend meetings of different groups/teams and also had one-on-one meetings with different stakeholders. Actively listening helps you understand things deeply, go beyond what is verbally said, ask short right questions to know more and thereby helping everyone (including yourself) with new insights.

Compulsive behaviour of speaking too much to impress or being absent minded in discussion, are roadblocks in learning and also toxic for team imany ways. Deliberate efforts towards active listening and developing habit of asking right questions minimally for eliciting more relevant information helps everyone.

3. Observe Parallels – Embrace New: Core domain ‘Knowledge’ varies from industry to industry but the ‘Wisdom’ is mostly permeating across all domains. From subject to subject or from industry to industry, I always find that some things are same and for some there are parallels. So you never start from scratch when you venture into new role or domain. This ready structure then helps you absorb the new knowledge.

Your ability to observe carefully and subtly validate your understanding is going to definitely help. That gives you the much needed confidence while walking into the unknown and embracing new knowledge, skills to make it your own.

4. Read – Learn: Continuous learning is important to reach the desired expertise and to excel. Apart from the sources mentioned above, reading blogs/books and going for some relevant courses will complement your journey. This should become a habit. If it’s not yet, start small but start now.

Newton used to say, ‘I could see farther by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ Staying updated of the existing knowledge will help you understand what new can be built and how existing can be made better. Reading and learning are the ways of standing on shoulders of giants.

5. Fast and Slow Thinking – Metacognition: Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman talks about two systems of thinking, system 1 is fast and automatic whereas system 2 is slow and deliberate. I have observed that when we do some thought-based work for first time, we use system 2. But when we do same work over and over, with awareness, it slowly becomes a system 1 work for us. Example, I learned driving using system 2 but now, for most of the time it’s being done by system 1. My mind know the situations where system 2 have to kick in. System 2 needs more energy and have to be wisely used.

Awareness about these two ways of thinking and ability to use it wisely is helpful. To be able to think about your thinking or know about the knowledge is metacognitive ability. Metacognition is learners one of the superpowers.

I am sure you this insights and skills will help you as they have helped me.