Thursday, January 8, 2009

Satyam - Matters beyond the balance sheet: The larger lessons we must not forget

08-09 appears to be for the fall of the big guys. It started with Lehman brothers and has gripped the entire world in it. The latest Satyam fiasco for once has brought a very pertinent question and the question has nothing to do with balance sheet or auditing. The question is that of Indian's attitude towards corruption. You may wonder how?? Well, for too long we Indians have been attributing heaps of negatives like corruption, dishonesty & non-transparency to politics & bureaucracy. And the typical statements of people would be that they don't want to be in politics because they can't be hypocrites or tell lies. Even when the white collared people commit crimes and bury them under the carpets, we are often busy blaming the Indian bureaucracy for being corrupt.

We can no longer afford to do that. At least now we should stop blaming the politicians & bureaucrats as the sole owners of dishonesty and corruption. And this brings me to a bigger question - who is ultimately responsible for corruption & terrorism in India - is it just the usual set of politcians, babus and some resource constrained security agencies? Or is it the whole of India and all of its citizens who forget their duty after the ballot and cry when the bullet strikes? Who is responsible for the dirty roads in India - the Netas or all those citizens who don't think twice before spitting and peeing on the road?

The Satyam debacle needs to be viewed in this larger perspective lest we forget the lessons.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 things common to Obama and Gandhi

Call it a premature infatuation or the fallings of an overwhelmed world citizen, but the more I listen to Barack Obama the more I admire him and the more I would want to listen to him. He may be taking a tough stand against outsourcing, but I still admire him for the values that he stands for. Though I did not have the fortune to listen to such numerous videos of Mahatma Gandhi, whenever I listen to Obama, I see a clear reflection of Gandhi's thoughts and values. So here goes the list.

1. World Peace

Obama talks of re-opening American consulates that have been shut, re-enter into a dialogue with all the enemy nations and launching a strong diplomacy to ensure that America contributes positively to the world peace. And if Gandhi can be summarised in any way, it would be world peace.

2. Equity
Fighting for the poor, at times he echoes the Indian Left. His speeches clearly indicate that he wants to achieve a sort of equity between the haves and the have nots. And this is not just about money. Its about Education, Healthcare and more. He wants to achieve a parity between the rich and the poor. Mahatma had always insisted that India lies in its villages and number one priority of us all Indians should be to uplift the poor.

3. Swadeshi ( Economic Independence)
India may not like this stuff, but Obama is all set to restore the virtues of an economically independent nation. Fifty years ago, Gandhi stressed the same thing and epitomised it by weaving his own clothes. Obama is not a globalisation-hater. But he is all set to restore the economic self-respect of America.

4. Unity

Obama is a UNIFYING entity. He brings the whites and the blacks together. This unity is not just a rhetoric, but a sincere attempt. While Gandhi stressed on unity to fight away the British, Obama is doing it to bring a divided nation together for its own survival and identity.

5. Non-Violence

Obama clearly stands for non-violence. His campaign has not only sought to end violence in Iraq but also within the country. Infact Gandhi can be singularly marked for adhering to the principles of non-violence.

One may say that he only talks, but his talks are an indication of change that he wants to bring about. Infact all the leaders had to talk their way up before putting into practice what they talked about. As I listen more to him, the more I am convinced that he is embracing Indian values in the areas of education, economy and religion.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two worlds in One world

I see two worlds within the same world. The other world is not occupied by aliens but by us human beings (sorry to disappoint Krrish fans). They are not developed and underdeveloped, but they are different in the way they communicate and perceive the outside world. And they have been created within our own life times and the space we live.

No more guessing, I am talking of people in the fast growing cities and those in the countryside. People in the cities experience fast life, are usually very well informed, time is sacrosanct, have little patience, are well connected via net. The people in the upcountry experience things that are very similar but the degree of intensity is highly diluted. People are well informed but they dont seek it as a matter of urgency. 24 hours news is still an icing on the cake and the morning newspaper is anyway there for them. Most of them don't even have email IDs and even though they are connected through mobiles, emails are still a non-essential thing except for the few. One world has speed, fast life, information at the finger tips and more than imaginable impatience. The other world has its own pace and enough patience to stand in the que.

Then there are differences, you would just wish, were not there. The POLLUTION and CRIME!! One is clean and only getting a bit dusty and the other is already thick black. The one is still safe and the other a preferred destination for criminals.

I remember seeing an English movie long back, dont remember the name now. The protagonist of the movie is a pregnant lady reporter who often covers crime and other stuffs for a reputed publication. The baby in her womb often keeps talking to this reporter mother. After sometime, the baby starts complaining to the mother that the world is cruel, that its full of pollution, it has indifference and love is dyeing. And it makes a strange wish - "I DON'T WANT TO ENTER THIS WORLD, I AM SAFE INSIDE". The mother is disturbed and seeks to bring some normalcy to life. The baby appears to respond to a small boy in her apartment. The mother engages this little boy to talk to the baby inside. The boy opens his entire world of innocence and little pleasures to this baby. Slowly but surely, the baby starts loving the world. I don't remember the end.

My academic curiosity : Why are Mumbai and Bangalore so different from Kolhapur or Hubli? Why are the big cities getting so cruel, dangerous and indifferent by the day? Is it time we introduce people to the virtues of smaller worlds? The B city? The C city? To the innocence and pleasures of a small kid?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Can we have some Good News please !!

Reading newspaper in the morning gives heartaches. Switch to a news channel and you see the blood splashed everywhere. Add to that an infinite number of crime stories and diaries making the life a living hell. Breaking news almost breaks your heart and a bit of head too. Eventhough you may be miles away from the place of crime, you are made to feel and suffer the pains of everybody involved. Some may say this is necessary and even justify it as the very purpose of showing it. But a newspaper and a channel full of this content more often wears down heavily on the human mind, which then for some strange reason refuses to think positively. Its not that good things are not happening at all. Infact they are much more and better than these. But a sad news ends up consuming the entire space in the media which incidentally finds pleasure in sensationalising the content. Competition has forced media to present the news in as grotesque a manner as possible.

No wonder the Indians often talk cynically. They fail to see the brighter side simply because they are not exposed to it. The young India is such a gutless and courageless one. Give them computers, they will write scores of softwares. Hand them a condom and they will knock every door on earth to sell it. But ask them to step into politics, manage hypocrisy and contradictions, govern and lead: the answer is a simple no. It has become such a fashion from students to film stars to keep complaining about dirty politics and say "Oh! politics is not for me, I cant lie you know and blah blah blah".

The question is, can't we have enough good things to say and show? So many encouraging developments take place in the society every minute that deserve our attention. Media can pro-actively search and bring it to the audience. Even in some of the most troubled places of earth, the front page is consumed by such encouraging headlines and the bomb blasts etc which have become a sort of routine for the citizens, get published in some obscure corner of the paper. Can the media in India also do such things. Can they resolve to showcase atleast one very encouraging and positive development each morning. With the power that they command today, they can make an entire generation embrace challenges. And ofcourse it would make the life a lot more pleasant and livable.

I recently found a site that is dedicated to spreading the good news all the time. You will definitely be surprised to see, a site that talks of positive action, steely endeavour and quiet triumphs and news that is hidden below the sevaral layers of the mainstream media. "Lead India" was yet another initiative that came as a relief from a reputed publication like Times of India.

Are the media giants listening?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What's life?!? Excel Sheet or Power Point?!?

It's a cliched topic. It has come up in many ways than we have thought. But the intensity and relevance of it came to me with my new work life. There was a duality, a conflict, that I was beginning to notice. The conflict between the creative and the disciplined use of my mind.

The new work commands that I invest almost half of my energy into creative thinking and the other half into something that needs a strict, disciplined approach of mind to succeed in it. Reading a Business World report on some of the industry leaders like Mittal, Ambani, Tata and others, I realized that even these guys are called in to manage similar conflicts, albeit on a larger scale with rampant consequences. On one hand they need to continuously innovate to stay alive in the industry and at the same time operate with the ISO discipline to sustain and achieve the objectives.

Lets deal with the creative part first. Its a delight that one is called upon to establish his creative credentials. All of us know that creativity does not lend itself to right-wrong approach and as such it may at the most display a degree of acceptance like Good, Better and Best. And in turn show dominant trends of successes and failures. Creativity requires that we are relaxed, informed, aware of our surroundings for critical inputs coupled with a penchant for finding alternative solutions. Work pressure and the consequent stress is the greatest enemy of creativity. Targets, deadlines, time-lines, meetings, commitments create stress and pressure. With stress, creativity takes a beating. It starts a panic race to reach the goals (however one can dispute this by quoting several incidents where stress and pressure have infact brought out some hidden creative solutions) However, work pressure cannot be completely ruled out of work life.

But what is equally and perhaps more dangerous than the work pressure is, the WORK itself. The kind of work we do largely decides how effective we are as creative individuals. And that brings me to the next part of my work that requires a discipline. It has structures. It has rules and whole lot of repetitive and mundane tasks that include Ctrl +C, Ctrl+ V, Alt +F and so on. Often they wear-out the mind leaving me with no energy to think creatively.

And all this comes in a Time bomb. Yes, time is yet another enemy of creativity. The 9.30 to 5.30 job that commands the world with entry and exit points at work place. On top of it, if you happen to have something called as the task sheet, you can be sure, it is tailor made to kill your creativity. Task sheets look so nice to look at. The serial no., particulars, time, day, status of the work given, et al. They tell the story of "a day in the life of an employee". But the point is missed. The entire life gets tasked. A task sheet is a huge structure and structures do not take kindly to creativity. Over a period of time, the organization will have huge number of sheets that display what the employee was doing but not what he could have done if he had been given a free mind to work. Creativity requires free mind and by implication some free time. Accepting the fact that organizations do not have unlimited time, there needs to be a system in place that makes space for creativity.

And till I resolve the conflict, the work goes on as usual.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Indian Love: A colourful display of romance

Is Indian love any different from the other cultures in the world. Is the question relevant?

The other day, I was watching a movie on HBO, where the man bends forward effortlessly to kiss his ladycharming. The sheer spontaneity and the ease with which it was done made the shot almost a non-event. They say art mirrors life. The western life mirrors it as well as the Indian. What am I getting at? Well really trying to know if this can be a hypothesis. Not doing any great research though. If indeed its true, then a lot of romantic English and Indian movies will serve to be a great deal of worth.

I was travelling to Goa. On the way in my AC car, a Hindi song was being played. It said.."Milan abhi aadha adhura hai..." from the film Vivaha. The setting is of two about-to-be-married couples dancing in the happiness of their marriage. I was just imagining the entire landscape of the marriage and all its pre-marital excitements, apprehensions and romance. The whole song and dance of the marriage crossed my mind like a happy flowing river. The smiles, the dress, the sheer excitement of it, the unwordable adrenalin push of it. The foreplay was very clear. The song further says.."Kuch batein ho chuki hai..kuch batein abhi hai baaki...bauchar ek padi hai...barasaate abhi hai baaki"... meaning that some talks are done but some more are left....that there is just a drizzle...but the rain is awaited".

Then the song says "Hame milane me sabka sahayog pura hai"... the song acknowledges the role of the elders and family members in bringing them together. In some ways its a celebration of an arranged marriage also, as its usually the elders who play a vital role in arranging for the same.

The Indian classical music represents love and erotica through the melodious rendering of ragas. Certain ragas by their very nature express love, romance and erotica. The Ektaal of the exposition is usually a prolonged appreciation of love and romance. As it extends into Teentaal the final pleasure is conveyed.

A thought crossed my mind that this is what the Indian love stood for as a differentiating entity from the rest of the cultures! A portrayal of love and all its subtleties. Contrast this to the western romance, the urgency for the final act, the "take it easy" approach and in some ways the non-eventishness of it!

Which is good? Again not a relevant question. The underlying societal values give a clue of why love is portrayed and practiced so differently in different cultures. And values can be neither bad nor good. They are just there at some point in the history serving a purpose and some desires of individuals and societies. Infact the mixing of cultures throws up a unique area of study of how love is celebrated among communities and societies.