Saturday, December 19, 2009

मेरे विचार

उदास है यह रास्ता, या हूँ मैं उदास
यहाँ कांटे भरे हैं या है यहाँ मेरा एहसास
ये जगह वीरान है या कोई नहीं है मेरे पास

बस इसी सोच में दिन ढल जाता है,
बस इसी सोच में सवेरा हो जाता है,
बस इसी सोच में फिर दिन ढल जाता है |

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Job Satisfaction

I find a lot of people complaining that they are not satisfied with their job. They don’t find the work challenging or that they don’t deserve to do the work they are doing. It reminds me of one incident which took place when I first came to Bangalore.

I had joined MindTree and along with two other friends rented a two bedroom flat. The flat had only one wardrobe, which was not sufficient for all our clothes. So we asked a carpenter to fix a metal rod between the two walls of the bedroom to enable us to hang our clothes. The carpenter came around 12.30 p.m and started his work. He took measurements and fixed the wooden pieces on both sides of the wall, between which he was going to fit the metal rod. Suddenly he realized that the two wooden pieces were not in a straight line. The piece at the right was about 1 cm below the exact place, although you really needed to look carefully to notice the flaw. He told he will remove the wooden piece and fix it in the correct place, which would take another 20 minutes. It was already 1:10 and I was hungry. I told him there was no need for this as you could hardly make out any difference. But he insisted and told me that he believes in doing things perfectly. He started the work and after 40 minutes when he was totally convinced that the final product is perfect, he let me go!

If something like carpentry -which we think mundane and uninteresting- can give such satisfaction to the carpenter (I unfortunately did not ask his name), then why can’t we be happy with what we are doing? I think it’s not the job which satisfies us, rather it is our attitude. With a right attitude, we would find joy and happiness in whatever we do. This is not to say that we should keep doing the same job throughout our life. If at all we want a change, the reason should be a strong liking for the new job, rather than a dislike for the current one.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What motivates people to earn money ?

I sometimes wonder what actually motivates people to earn money? Rather, earn more than they are earning now. The obvious answer is to improve the standard of living. To buy a car, to buy a new car, to buy a new expensive car and we are still at car! Human mind never ceases to dream. We always dream of the things we want to own.We always dream of a new house, of the latest car,of the latest cellphone. But do we really need all the things I mentioned above ? May be not. Do we really enjoy them ? Occasionally. After buying the latest cellphone - which has so many features that it is difficult to tell whether its a cell phone or a computer - how long do we use these new features?. Most of the things we aspire for are neither needed nor enjoyed by us, still why do we keep running behind them ?

Lets try to understand this by considering some exceptions.Most actors would be happier if their performance is praised, rather than say, a foreign holiday.Amitabh Bacchan will be more happy to get critical acclaim for his acting in BLACK than get 1.5 crore per episode for Big Boss.For a sportsman, the ultimate glory is performing in front of his fans, not the millions of dollars he might earn in endorsement money. Sachin Tendulkar will be more happy to scores a 60 ball hunderd and help India chase a target of 350 in a world cup final, rather that sign a multi million dollar endorsement deal with Nike.An author will be more happy to see his book getting good reviews than half a million dollar advance on a new book. A common factor in all the above instances is the preference for recognition over money. To gain an acceptance among others that you are indeed a special one. This is a feeling not restricted to actors, sportsman and authors, but is pervasive in all human beings. As Chetan Bhagat, the investment banker turned writer, writes in his blog "I no longer work in the bank, as I felt I had to get over the lure of money and go after what I really cared for".

How does a common man fulfill this inherent desire for recognition ? The most obvious way is to earn money and buy things which attract others envy. Money allows you to become The-one-who-has-mercedes or The-one-with-the-big-bungalow. Its not what we do with the money that gives us satisfaction, but what others see us doing with the money. Also, people's perception of a person's capability is directly proportional to the amount of money he earns; more the money, better is the perception.This in turn motivates us to earn more money.

Again, this is not true for every 'common man'.Money is the topmost thing in the minds of only those who don't have a goal in life. Since without achieving anything worthwhile, it is difficult to get recognition (the ultimate aim of any human being), people fall back on gaining respect by earning more money. Once we have a goal,an ambition in life, something to show others what we are capable of, we would find the lure of money slowly decreasing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Joy of Reading

I have always been interested in reading books; but till some time back there was one small difference between me and the other book lovers – I was interested in the book only till I started reading it. After that, it seemed incredibly boring and I struggled to finish it. In short, I found no joy in reading books.

I picked up books which I thought would interest me – like mystery novels, science fictions etc. In fact, I also searched the top 100 books of the century through internet to find some good ones. One of the first books which I seriously started reading was, The silence of the lambs (which was one of the Google results). The book had around 250 pages – it took me almost 10 days to complete the first 120. The second half of the book was more interesting, though, and I finished it quickly; but I still did not find any “joy” in reading the book. If at all, I was “relieved”. (I still don’t know why I even tried reading books; why I was so desperate to read and “enjoy” the book, even though I did not like one).

Two months back I joined an online library (again, I don’t know why) and borrowed a book, India after Gandhi, authored by Ramchandra Guha – the remarkable intellectual from India. When the person from the library delivered the book, I was almost embarrassed. The book had 900 pages and was at least 5 times the size of any book which I had even attempted to read. Since he had come all the way to my office, I found it hard to send him back. I took the book and thought of returning it the very next week.

While at my house, I started reading the prologue – just did not feel like returning the book without reading even a single page. I was surprisingly refreshing. It talked about how different India is from the other nations of the world and how very few non-Indians actually believed India will stay united even until 10 years after independence. I felt a sense of pride and started reading the first chapter. The chapter ended with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. I casually looked at my watch. One hour!!! It was one hour since I started reading? It easily beat my previous record of continuous reading – by 59 minutes. As I read the further chapters, I got sucked into the book and perhaps for the very first time I did not care how many pages I had read and how many were left. I just read and if I may use the word – enjoyed. After finishing the book, again for the very first time, I was a bit sad. Not happy, not even relieved to have finished a 900 page book, but sad. Since then I have read a few more books including The Wings of Fire and Alchemist and I must say I certainly have experienced joy while reading them.

I am a new entrant to the readers club, but I think to experience joy while reading, the choice of the book is very important. I may not enjoy reading a book which my friend enjoys and vice versa. In past, perhaps my choices were incorrect and hence I did not enjoy reading. Now that I have tasted blood, hopefully I will continue hunting the right prey and keep satisfying my thirst!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thank God for BSNL !!!!

India started economic reforms in the 90's and since then the economy has consistently clocked growth rate of over 6%. The clamour for dis-investing the PSUs is increasing and disinvestment itself is considered a panacea for all economic problems faced by India. Till sometime back even I considered private ownership to be the one and only solution; it increases efficiency and accountability and is beneficial for the stakeholders. A small incident made is rethink my take on the subject.

Last year I shifted to Kathriguppe, Bangalore - a relatively developed area ( It has Pizza hut, Dominos and Pizza Corner all within a radius of 100m! ). I contacted Airtel to get a broadband internet connection. The executive from Airtel arrived at my house within 24 hours of my call, installed the phone and modem and in less than half an hour I was ready to interact with the world! I couldn't help but admire the blue-turbaned Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh - the architect of India's economic reforms. I could picture him smiling smugly at his achievement.

Recently I shifted to another area called C.T.Bed - around 2 km from Kathriguppe, and as usual the first thing I did was to call the Airtel executive for the broadband connection ( Air, Food and Internet are the three most important things in my life nowadays - and not necessarily in that order!). The airtel executive took my address and promised to come the next day to set up the connection. To my disappointment he did not turn up. I waited for another two days before calling him. He politely told me that he could not give the internet connection as there was "no connectivity" in my area. Wary of sounding stupid, I did not ask him the meaning of "no connectivity" even though I had no idea what he meant. On inquiring with few people I found that "no connectivity" is not really a telecom jargon and colloquially it just means that it doesn't make any "business sense" for Airtel to invest here. There are not enough people in the area with airtel connection and in near future the number is not expected to grow rapidly. Unsurprisingly, the only company providing the connection there was BSNL. I applied for the BSNL connection and bang after 25 days, I got it!

The process may be slow in a public enterprise - as in my case, 25 times slower - but at least it reaches a wider population. SBI branches are ubiquitous across the country, where as you will find private banks like ICICI and HDFC heavily located in big cities with limited or no presence in smaller towns. The raison d'etre's of private companies is to make profit - by all legal means (and sometimes even by illegal means).

Before you conclude that I have graduated from Prakash Karat school of economics, let me tell you that I am not against private ownership or disinvestment.But before privatization, the government should ensure that all regions have an equal chance of benefiting from it. The government should lay the groundwork ( in some cases literally!) before giving the reins to the private companies. It should build the necessary infrastructure to encourage private investments. Only then India will be able to utilize the full potential of disinvestment. Otherwise, a part of India would be the new Singapore, but to get there you have to cross miles of Sahara desert.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Blank Receipt

This incident took place around 2 years back – on my first trip abroad. I was going to San Jose, California and was obviously very excited. Even though the itinerary was very hectic – I had to change 4 flights in 30 hours – I enjoyed every bit of it, as it was my first trip ever by air! I landed in San Jose around 6’oclock in the evening. I got out of the airport and took a cab to my apartment. The driver was a friendly fellow; he volunteered to put my luggage in the cab rooftop and smilingly asked, “Hey, how are you”? I was taken aback. It’s definitely my first trip to America and it looked highly unlikely that this guy had traveled to India. Then where did we meet before? Anyway I managed a confused smile. Handing the apartment address to him, I asked, “How much time will it take”?
“Half an hour”, he replied casually.

As the driver told, we reached the apartment in another half an hour. I took out my luggage and asked the driver for the cash receipt so that I can reimburse it back in India.
“Oh, Just a sec”.
He handed over two blank receipts to me and again smiled. This time though, the smile was a bit different. I did not understand why he gave me two receipts and that too blank ones. I returned them and asked him to give me only one, with the exact fare and his signature. He did as I told. I assumed that he had given two receipts by mistake, but I still couldn’t decode his smile.

A couple of days later, I told my fellow roommate about the cab driver’s incident. He laughed and replied, “Oh… he might have realized that you are an Indian. Many Indians ask the cab drivers 2-3 blank receipts to submit fake reimbursements”. For a moment I went blank, I couldn’t decide whether I was sad, angry or humiliated or a mixture of these. And yes, that explained his mocking smile and a There-You-Go-Again look in his eyes.

Breaching integrity is never a good idea, especially in a foreign country. Every Indian in a foreign land is a cultural ambassador of India and he/she should behave like one. Having started my career in Mindtree which lays much emphasis on integrity, it was particularly painful to know how foreigners perceive Indians. Though at one end of the spectrum Indians are considered smart and hardworking, at the other end they are looked at as a bunch of people with loose integrity. I sincerely hope the latter is proved wrong in course of time. For this every Indian abroad has to realize that they are not only representing themselves, but the whole country. Their every action will be generalized to 1.1 billion people of India.

I hope next time when I travel abroad , instead of giving blank receipts, the cab driver asks, “Hey, How are you? Are you an Indian? Tell me something about India. I have heard great things about that country.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Arzz kiya hai....

क्या बताएं तुम्हे हम अपनी दास्ताँ,
अब तो आँसू भी धोखा देने लगे......

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I want to be....

The other day I asked my neighbor's son - who is studying in 10th standard - about his future plans. He looked a bit concerned and said "I wanted to be a computer engineer, but now that there is no IT boom, I am thinking of studying M.B.B.S and become a doctor."

Most high school students and surprisingly even their parents know of only two career options, engineering and medicine. Students are not even aware of career opportunities in other fields like economics, journalism, science etc. They choose their career not based on their interest and aptitude, but on parental pressure and herd mentality. This has to stop if India has to fully utilize the potential of its human resources.

To start with, students have to be made aware of the career options in different fields. This can be done by changing the academic curriculum in such a way that it focuses more on the practical applications of the subject. The teachers also have to play an important role in making the students cognizant of the career options in their subjects.

Secondly, it must be mandatory for all schools to have a career counselor, who can work with the student to identify his/her strength and weaknesses and help in making an informed decision about their career choices. Though some schools do have career counselors, a majority of them don’t have one.

Thirdly and perhaps the most important of all; the parents should encourage the child to pursue a career of his own interest. Most parents either realize their dreams through their children or are just ignorant about the career opportunities in their child’s interested field. In the latter case, the counselor has to proactively interact with them to remove their any of their misconceptions.

Human resources are the most important asset any country can have; India is fortunate to have it in abundance, but their utilization leaves a lot to be desired.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Should Capt.Gopinath contest ?

Captain Gopinath is contesting for the Lok sabha seat from the Bangalore south constituency. Opinion is divided as to whether he should contest at all? Even if selected, will he have sufficient clout to effect any policy decisions ?

I for one believe that Gopinath should contest. If he wins, it will be a watershed event in Indian politics. Politics has always been considered a dirty game, especially by the educated elite. It is something which is discussed over a cup of coffee and forgotten even before the cup is over. Gopinath's victory will prove that being an successful businessman doesn't stop you from entering politics, it doesn't alienate you from the common people. The entrepreneur community consists of some of the shrewdest brains in the country; their entry into politics will immensely help India in addressing some important issues before it like poverty, unemployment etc.

Many argue that even if Gopinath is elected, as an independent candidate he will not have the necessary clout to influence any major policy decisions. This may be true, but lets not take such a myopic view. He may not be able to influence any major decisions in the next five years, but as an MP, his point of view will be heard and more importantly it will inspire more and more people to enter politics. Someone has to start somewhere and we should think of it, as just the beginning.

Eminent personalities like Narayan Murthy, chief mentor of Infosys, have openly advocated the candidature of Gopinath. A victory for Gopinath will not be just for him, but for an entire community disillusioned with politics. I sincerely hope that Gopinath wins and pave the way for a new breed to people to enter politics.