Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The 5th commandment

                                                Ankur Bora

When young people have good role models, they can change and set their sights towards higher achievement. We have incredibly distinguished Assamese people who have done outstanding work worldwide. They have become a source of inspiration to others. Our youths can learn from their life story and acquire the essential qualities that have been so vital to the success of these individuals.

Wahid Saleh is a social entrepreneur and a community leader based in Holland. Hailing from Rajabari, Jorhat, he moved to the Netherlands at a young age; through commitment, devotion and years of dedicated work he established himself as a leader of diaspora and torchbearer of India. In recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments promoting friendship and understanding between the peoples of India and the Netherlands, Mr. Saleh was bestowed upon the coveted Dutch honor, the Knighthood in the Order of Orange-Nassau by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. In January 2011 he also became the recipient of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman , the highest award conferred by the President of India, on overseas Indians. Mr. Saleh is the first person from the North East of India to receive this award. We, a number of non-resident Indians, are involved with the philanthropic work of Wahid Saleh. We are privileged to interact with him, over a decade now, through numerous email communications and personal interactions. There are countless stories that display his core values in action. The commandments passed down by Mr. Saleh are important in today’s world and provide a guide to meeting tomorrow’s challenges. 

 “Don’t worry about what the society expects from you. Be true to yourself, your beliefs and your values.”  In his first commandment, Mr. Saleh imbibes us to stand firm behind our conviction and if needed, to move away from following the crowd. I specially treasure that message because such conviction is needed in social and community involvement. A few years ago, I , on behalf Assam Foundation of North America , nominated the founder of the Guwahati based Rickshaw Bank Project for the prestigious Tech Awards , Silicon Valley’s premier annual awards program. The application went through intense screening process and I had to participate in a telephonic interview answering tough questions to the nomination committee. In the month of September 2011 we were greeted with the exciting news of the award nomination. However, to our chagrin, a few individuals in Assam started a campaign opposing the award conferred to the founder.  There had been intense pressure on me as well our foundation members. Mr. Saleh, aware of the situation, called and made me aware that I was going to represent the poor and marginalized rickshaw community and hence I should not be disheartened but see the bigger picture ahead. He helped me to focus on what I was going to do next. After listening to him, I decided not to get further drawn into the futile debate. Instead, I began concentrating on the pre-event activities including producing a high quality Audio video story, compiling a newsletter with stories of Ricksha- pullers and preparing an elevator speech for the award nominee Dr. Pradip Sarmah.

I remain grateful to Wahid Saleh for his words of wisdom and always vividly remember how the perfect turn of phrase, spoken precisely the right moment, had made such a difference to me. We are captivated and continue to find inspiration from him.  “Do one thing at a time. To start with do little things at a time that makes you proud of yourself. You will have faith in your capacity when you have a few achievements to your credit – however small and insignificant they might be. This will make you accepted, respected and welcomed.”  In retrospect, the action-packed Tech award event opened a window of opportunity for me. I not only got to interact closely with exceptional individuals, but also learned tools and techniques - how to showcase and present gifted individuals and non-profit organizations. Later on, I nominated a number of individuals from my  home state who went on to win international awards in the field  of grass-root innovation and in the realm of women creativity in rural life. Wahid Saleh remained with each of us giving just the right bit of encouragement as we stepped up to the plate.

Good leadership takes strength of character and a firm commitment to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. Wahid Saleh would always say,  “In the world there were no short cuts to success nor in future there will be. Don’t believe that you are entitled to something. You have to earn what you get.” Mr. Saleh is legendary in his unmatched work ethics, integrity and honesty and these principles illustrate the roots of a man whose foundation is built upon solid principles. 

“Don’t ever stop learning. Everything you do in life is short-lived, transitory.” – Mr. Saleh alludes to the importance of continuous improvements. In today’s world where knowledge often changes faster than we do, you need to keep learning to stay ahead. Otherwise, one will be left out and left behind. Wahid Saleh, who is early adopter of new technology, recently introduced us to the Assamese Optical Character Recognition – a tool to scan old Assamese books and upload the contents to online website. It has been a fascinating experience for us, we are realizing that we cannot live on past glory; we need to expand continually, get out in front of the pack and stay there.

Wahid Saleh is always steadfast in his principles, particularly in the importance of taking responsibility for everyone in his care. I witnessed numerous occasions when he did exactly what he said he was going to do. Mr. Saleh would always follow through on what he said. A few years back, while on his way to Haj, the pilgrimage to Macca, he called me from the airport enquiring about a monetary commitment he had made to an organization. I was given the responsibility for completing the transfer on his behalf. On his initiation, I hurriedly completed the transaction online just in time; as he thanked me I heard those enigmatic words – “Now I am free of debt”. So, once again his words of wisdom lead me to my fifth commandment: We need to keep our word every time.

Wahid Saleh grew up to the tolerant pluralistic teachings of the Brahmaputra valley and has embraced the quintessential human values – responsibility, commitment to hard work and service to others. And his life story reminds us that cultivating seemingly ordinary virtues prepare us to perform extraordinary acts. Wahid Saleh is my role model and my hero. I have tried, not always successfully, but always, to live by his words.             ankurbora@hotmail.com


Comments -  around the world.

I have followed with great admiration the amazing journey of Wahid, my classmate( proud to say that)  from the school days in Jorhat, in those dreamy days. Not only the younger generations, he inspires me a lot--at times feel 'wish I had the tenacity, the enthusiasm and drive'  that Wahid shows in anything he takes up. Certainly an icon for the younger generations.
Thanks for publishing a lovely write up.  

Madan Prasad Bezbaruah, former secretary tourism, Government of India.


I got interested in Wahid Saleh from his vision 20-20 document on Assam way back in 2007 while reading articles about the work done by the Assamese diaspora abroad. A true humanitarian, Saleh Sir's research work through internet on any topic related to Assam is really appreciable and has given timely direction whenever we the younger generation had to lean on our elders for guidance. The way he could link past news and persons to the present context of requirement shows his excellent tracking and networking abilities and I pray that such a wonderful guide keeps on showering us with his vast knowledge and expertise for the years to come.

Mofid Rahman Hyderabad

A very good article  and an excellent tribute to a very deserving person. I personally do not know Dr. Wahid Saleh, but have been hearing about him a lot and also read his e-mails. Our gratitude to Dr. Saleh for all his work and thanks to Ankur Bora for his efforts in bringing forward all these information to us. Indeed Dr. Saleh is a Jorhotia after all. We are proud of him 

Hiren Sarma
Houston, Texas

It was very nice to read the article  on Wahid Saleh. From my brief email messages to him so far I can understand the passion and zeal he has for his activities. There are a lot of learning lessons in the article which are embroidered in Saleh’s life. I will try my best to follow the lessons. I thank for such a nice article.
With regards,

Manjil Saikia Institute for MathematicsUniversity of Vienna, Austria

Indeed a great piece of article on Wahid Saleh. Thanks to Ankur Bora  for this nice article. I have in touch with Wahid da for last 7 years. He has been a mentor for me (and for many others) on many occasions. I am amazed to experience his vastness of knowledge and fully energetic life style. I had the opportunity to meet him twice. First time I met him in 2015, when I was visiting University of Leiden. He came to meet me in Leiden on a cold winter evening. Recently, I have visited his residence along with my wife and few other fellow Assamese friends during the first week of January 2016. Wahid da has prepared a hefty dinner menu for us by himself. It included many Assamese dishes as well. We were  really surprised to discover his excellent culinary skills. I call him as the living encyclopedia of Assamese diaspora in Europe and in abroad. 

Pankaj Barah, PhDBioinformatics Scientist  Heidelberg , Germany 

Indeed a nice piece. Wahid da has been a source of inspiration to so
many. I wish him good health and many more years in the service of

Dr Sanjib Kumar BorkakotiNagaon , Assam 

Thanks for the Article on Wahid Saleh. In-deed I feel more proud to be an Assamese knowing about him. Saleh made us so proud and his  work is inspirational to me. I congratulate him and thank him for giving ​me more strength.


Dear Ankur Bora
Glad to read the article “ The 5 commandment “ published in Assam Tribune, 1st April,2016. Assam needs leadership & social entrepreneur like Wahid Saleh to uplift our youths for development. If an Assamese man can do so much in Holland, cannot he come to Assam to lead and guide & motivate our youths to work in better direction.

Prof(Dr.) Bibha Das SaikiaRSET, RGI

Just read your article in Horizon of assam tribune. Thanks for letting the people of assam to know about such a great personality hailing  from assam. And its even great to see that you are also trying to follow his words. Even I will try to follow his commandments.

Thanks and regards,Chinmoy kr Phukon

Excellent write up on Wahid Kokaideo , Ankur Thanks a lot
Whenever i think of  Wahid Kokaideo,.it always  revitalise  my strength to do more 'xewa' to the people of Assam in sprcific and to humanity in general
Together we can

Satyendra Madhab Mahanta , Jorhat

Dear Ankur:
Congratulations and THANK YOU for such a superb piece on a noble man. And Wahid'da, all we can say, may you have health and happiness to continue on your mission on helping the people and place you so love.

Ananta Nath , South Florida , USA

Dear Ankur:
Congratulations to you for the excellent article about Wahid Saleh's achievements and five commandments which will be inspirations to all of our youths to make their dreams come true in their lives.

Arvind Phukan Seattle  , USA

Thx for sharing, Ankur! 

Hi Wahid da,

We are extremely proud of you for making all of us proud. Congratulation for your achievements. 
Thx and regards,

Niren Choudhury , USA

Dear Ankur,
A very nice article indeed!
As I write this mail to you I bow my head in reverence to  Wahid Saleh. 
Thank you. 

Juri bhattacharyya , USA

Dear Ankur,
In our last telephone conversation you mentioned about my 5 commandments. I did not have a single clue what you meant by it. This morning after receiving your mail, I realised what you meant by 5 commandments.
         In the moment of a pleasant surprise, excitement, interest, great pleasure, or the like, our society uses a new age expression. It is “Wow”. What to say in a moment like this when I am overwhelmed by happiness? I am short of words except a “WOW”. You made me feel great and experience intense pleasure. You put me in a different pedestal. I am where I am thanks to the support of all my young friends.
          A rather unknown Methodist Bishop H.E. Luccock once said "You Can’t Whistle a Symphony by Yourself. You Need an Orchestra to Play it Right". That is what I have done lot of young people joined my band to play the symphony.
         Abraham Lincoln once said “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” I followed this philosophy. Moreover I am doing it as a "Seva" to the community.
         Thank you for your friendship and understanding. Also thanks to the friendship of all my friends spread over different parts of the world. The great Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar said “‘Friendship is not just a smile on the face. It is what is felt deep within a smiling heart:” and I feel the warmth of all the smiling hearts.
         In the autumn of my life, with the blessings and help of God Almighty, I hope to carry on the work which I am doing. “But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep” (Robert Frost).
Take care! Greetings and best wishes,

Wahid da

Dear Wahid da,
 Thank you for showing us all that only by realizing the greatness which lies within each of us, can we strive towards this divine path called life, with its struggles and joys, the duality which is but life, therin lies its  beauty. Yet what helps us to  remain  anchored is the beliefs we have been brought up with, our disciplines, & our truths .  With humility and awe , like a sparkling speck of dust , yet a significant part of this great cosmos we move on .  We are truely blessed to have your positive force guiding us, for there are responsibilities we all carry,  & as the saying goes --- nothing worth having has ever been achieved without effort . With love & deep regards-- 

Anjana Bora , Dallas , Texas , USA ! God Bless!

 ​I too am a lover of great quotes, and in your honor , here are a few , enjoy!
​“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”~Carl Gustav Jung
​“There are no accidents or coincidences in this world.  Nothing is by chance.  Everything you’re experiencing is a direct manifestation of where you’re focusing your energy, attention and consciousness.”  ~Jafree Ozwald
 ​The most intimate relationship we will have in our entire lifetime is with ourselves.
      No one hears our hearts the way we do.
      No one knows our hurts the way we do.
      We are the sages of our soft spots and our edges.
      Self-compassion is showing up to that relationship with honesty and with love.
      – Jamie Ridler –

1 comment:

  1. Very pleased to read the wonderful article and the most amazing comments, specially the response by Shri Saleh Sir. I have been regularly interacting with Sir since I came to Netherlands back in 1991 as a student. Over the years there has been one constant and that is I could look for information on India in Netherlands in his most amazing Indiawijzer. We often met in India events and once he also visited our home. Till today he is a man of great support and encouragement. Very inspiring. Big thank you. Jai Hind. Vivek Nagpaul