Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

Teacher Absenteeism in Indian Schools

A democracy thrives best when its citizens have the ability to make the right choices for themselves and for their societies. With 35% of its population illiterate(1), and an even higher percentage lacking in functional literacy, the efficacy of democracy in India stands seriously undermined. The 2007 Annual Status of Education Report(2) (Rural) has found that “it takes the middle of class VII for 80% children to be able to read a class II text”. One of the most important causes of bad quality of education in rural India is the high rate of teacher absenteeism. The Kremer et al (2004) study(3), reported that one in four teachers were absent from school, and among those present, only about half were teaching, during the unannounced visits on a nationally representative sample of government primary schools in India. The Paul Glewwe(4) et al (2008) study finds that in developing countries including India, teachers face weak incentives to put effort into their teaching. The study also finds that dismissals of teachers for repeated absenteeism are only 0.03% in public schools, and 6% in private schools, clearly implying that accountability structures are simply nonexistent. However, the National Knowledge Commission Recommendations(5) on School Education is surprisingly silent about the problem of teacher absenteeism.

The problem of teacher absenteeism in India should be tackled by adopting a two pronged approach: First, at micro management level, incentives not limited to financial benefits, must be provided for teachers to come to work; Second, at policy management level, workable mechanisms of empowered structures to ensure accountability of teachers and schools must be institutionalised and sustained.

Paul Glewwe et al (2008) report that absenteeism in more in schools which are away from paved roads, and less in schools which has better infrastructure. The teachers posted to rural schools have no proper housing facilities, and many take up houses in nearby towns.
The DISE statistics on School Indicators(6) states that 44.22% of all schools in rural India are located at distances more than 10Kms from the nearest block HQs. But the public transport systems are very frugal and teachers find it difficult to commute to rural schools from towns. The government must provide housing and pooled transport to help teachers perform their duties. Basic necessities such as toilets must be provided in schools. Teachers posted in rural areas must be also compensated with a special hard duty allowance. Teachers must be allotted a pool with equal distribution of schools from all categories of degree of difficulty, and rotated on posting to schools only within their pool. This will give teachers the ownership to the development of their schools especially once they know that they would be back to the same school again in future, and provide strong emotional incentives to remain accountable to the local community.

In rural India, teachers are the opinion makers. Teachers also perform the crucial election duties. Therefore, the political class is unwilling to estrange teachers. Further, the local community is not powerful enough to demand accountability. In the year 2000, the Uttar Pradesh government initiated
Village Education Committees(7) (VEC) to monitor school performance and promote demand for accountability at community levels. But studies(8) revealed that 92 percent of households surveyed did not even know that a VEC existed. In such scenarios, any demand for accountability from inside the system is not likely to be met.

There is definitely a need to create empowered structures from the outside, to monitor school performance and demand accountability from teachers. The central government must institute a multi stake holder, independent
Schools Monitoring Agency(9) on the models of investment rating agencies. The agency must monitor the quality of delivery of education services, teacher attendance and performance, school outputs etc, and continuously assign ratings to school systems in states. Corporate India must be encouraged to consider the ratings of this agency before investing in a state, because industry is one of the major end users of human resources. It is in the longer interests of the businesses to demand accountability from schools and teachers as majority of the labour force employed by businesses are the very product of these schools. Education is a state subject. The policy directions must be fine tuned as per requirements of each State, but individual states must implement reforms wholeheartedly. The central government could give tax concessions for businesses investing in states that have higher school performance ratings. This will provide incentives for the states to improve their school systems in order to attract higher investments.

Technology solutions must be explored to institutionalise effective systems to monitor teacher presence in schools. An
experiment(10) by Duflo, Hanna, and Ryan (2007) in Non Formal Education Centres in Rajastan, using tamper proof cameras to monitor teacher attendance reported 50% decline in absenteeism rates, and improved student performance. Similar methods can be co-opted into the existing mobile communication infrastructure in rural areas. For example, a tamper proof camera enabled mobile phone can be used to send an MMS message with a photo of the teacher along with the children in classroom, to the teacher monitoring body, on demand.

As with solving any other public management problem, a committed leadership is essential to solve the problem of teacher absenteeism in India. The strong teacher unions, and the teacher politician nexus, are stumbling blocks for demand for accountability of teachers. It will take years to reach the desirable end state of improving quality of education, but it will be an effort worth made, because good education is fundamental for good citizenship, and good democracy.

Works Cited:

(1)Premi, Mahendra K, (2002) India’s Literacy Panorama,

(2)Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2007

(3)Kremer, Michael; Chaudhury, Nazmul; Rogers, F Halsey; Muralidharan, Karthik and Hammer, Jeffrey (2005), “Teacher Absence in India: A Snapshot”

(4) Glewwe, Paul; Holla, Alaka; Kremer, Michael (2008), “ Teacher Incentives in the Developing World”

(5) National Knowledge Commission Recommendations on School Education in India (2008)
(6) DISE Statistics on School Indicators (2006-07),
http://www.dise.in/Downloads/Rural 2006-07/School Related Indicators.pdf

(7) Glewwe, Paul; Holla, Alaka; Kremer, Michael (2008), “ Teacher Incentives in the Developing World”

(8) Abhijit Banerjee, and others, “Can Informational Campaigns Spark Local Participation and Improve Outcomes: A Study of Primary Education in Uttar Pradesh, India,” World Bank Policy Working Paper 3967 (The World Bank, 2006).

(9) The National Knowledge Commission, in a letter to the Prime Minister of India, has proposed setting up of a National evaluation body for monitoring quality. However, no details about composition or functioning have been elaborated. Para 9, p7,

(10) Duflo, Esther; Hanna,Rema; Ryan, Stephen ; (2007): “Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School”

Put on Your Thinking Cap


“Pink se panga nahi lene ka” orders Preethy Zinta, and so sells everything pink – from Scooty to Mobile phones. “Yeh Dil Mange more!” proclaims Shah Rukh, and we get that moral sanction to indulge in hedonistic ways of life. Money can’t buy happiness -- but it can buy you a big yacht so you can pull right up next to it. Irrespective which ever god we believe in, we all practise the religion of consumerism. For Tara, shopping is a feel good factor! In plain words, she suffers from compulsive shopping disorder. Tara wants to buy that wine red Saree because she feels that looking good would improve her marriage! Her husband Rahul is a tightwad. He secretly wishes for the new iphone but keeps quiet because he knows that he would have buy Tara a diamond stud, if he buys a iphone for himself. If Diamonds are best friends of girls, then whatever happened to Tara’s old buddy who has stood by her all these years? He wonders! In today’s world, it is not “cool” to express feelings and share deep emotions by mere words. Presenting gifts is a mandatory requirement of expression of love. That is what Consumerists do.

Short attention span in everything we do, demands that all things fashion should be "renewed" every six months. Since long, we have stopped growing old with our valued possessions. When did you last purchase an item that you will still treasure holding it for years? Vintage has become history. Consumerism has led us into purchasing almost exclusively disposable goods. Doesn’t work? Throw it! Buy another one! Even before we debate whether to repair our old stuff, we are enticed with a plethora of new goods ready to burn our pockets! And then, it is a treat to watch how cleverly people invent ingenious reasons to buy new items. Whom are we trying to fool?

Stressed out? Just go out and Shop! - Such crass consumerism gives us an instant sense of self gratification. We associate our identities with the phones we carry, the brand we wear, and the restaurants we hang out. We buy things because our neighbour has one. We splurge, we flaunt, but we hardly consume what we buy. Celebrities endorse every product from Navrathan Tel to expensive cars, highlighting our insecurities and stupefying our sensibilities into buying things that we would never need. Do you seriously think you can delay ageing by using a Rs 500 cream? Do you think you can control obesity by drinking Diet Pepsi and munching zero trans fat potato chips? Do you really need to buy the fuel guzzler SUV when all you need is some means of transportation? Think again.

Consumption is not bad. There is no harm in satisfying one’s needs. In fact consumption is essential to keep the economy going. But the problem comes when one tends to create an imaginary need to satisfy his/her other surrogate senses! You buy a mobile phone and you think you have satisfied your need? Wrong! Soon, you are introduced to GPRS mobile net surfing, and you are just not happy surfing the net through a small screen. How about a Blackberry? After all you get 100 emails a day. Who cares if all of them are forwards mails! There you go. Within months, you “upgrade” – a nice term for indulgence. Soon, a blackberry seems not enough. You can’t watch those important video attachments which you receive in your forward mails, and your ignorance about latest fun stuffs is a sore thumb among your friends circle. One among your friends flaunts his new 12’’ Sony VIAO. Will you stop from buying one for yourself? Unlikely! You have come a long way – from owning a simple mobile phone to spending 50 grand on a laptop, all for something that had zero importance in your life. That is consumerism.

Take a little time out to do some soul searching. How much of your consumerist attitude has permeated your life? If you realise that you can change the life of someone among millions of poor in this world who live under one dollar a day, with that one buck you save by internalising reduce-reuse-recycle practices, would it give you any incentive to do so? I leave it to you. You are the best judge.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dreaming on the Toilet Seat

I say to life; Bring it on.

How often do you discuss your dreams with others? How often have you been told to achieve first and then declare later? How often you have been hammered with the thought that to openly speak about your vision in life and your methods to achieve them is to showcase your arrogant mind? I have this peculiar habit of thinking aloud, however trivial the thoughts may be – from how did I find that damsel who crossed the street to what I wish to achieve in life and how do I intend to achieve them, and discuss my idea with anyone whom I find interesting – friends, colleagues, complete strangers like autorickshaw drivers to street bums. When I tell the seemingly impossible dreams I dream and my grand plans to achieve them, with a passion that radiates from every cell of my body, I find a large majority of people simply getting defensive. Some advice me that I must be more humble while a few others hint that I must concentrate on achieving rather than on only speaking about achieving.
  Some look at me with reverence and say that so far they haven’t met someone who is so confident in life and yet there are a few who simply laugh, awaiting the vicarious pleasure of watching me bite the dust.

I have one answer for all of them. The mere possibility of a failure can never prevent me from dreaming.  Discussing my dreams with my friends and strangers alike provides me the much needed vibrancy in thought process. It also helps me to remain focused. If a time comes when I am on the crossroads where I have to decide to be or not to be, to do or not to do, to reach out and excel or go back and get cosy, the fact that I have discussed my dreams with so many people propels me to live up to the reputation I have created for myself, making me walk that extra mile. My life history tells me that often that extra mile has decided my success or failure in my endeavours, for it is not said without wisdom that a man who survives a gladiator fight is the one who remained courageous five minutes longer than the other.

If, after all this, at the end of the day, I fail, or get trounced, or get flattened by the road roller called life, I will simply get up, brush aside my dirt, shrug away the pain, and start walking again. I will not get intimidated. I won’t ever stop trying. I say to life; Bring it on.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

Either Or?

Professional Success or Personal Happiness?
Good Looking Girl or An Intelligent Girl ?
Idealism or Happiness?

I threw these question choices to many of my friends. Each of my friends chose one or the other choice. Not even one, posed the counter question – Why does the choice have to be an either or, and not both? It is simply because, subconsciously, most of us believe that Idealism and Happiness cannot coexist and that they are mutually exclusive. Let us look at this way: Most of the things which a human being considers to be a provider of happiness is a taboo, whereas that which gives him satisfaction of being ideal, arguably calls for stricter controls and therefore a tougher life – hence unhappy. Simply put, being happy is being NOT ideal and being Ideal is tantamount to being NOT happy. I wonder, why the things that are considered ideal, does not give happiness and as a corollary, why things that give happiness are not essentially ideal? Let me illustrate with an example; Mr Happy, who drinks and smokes - habits that are considered bad and therefore not ideal, is happy enjoying the “high state“ of pleasures of drinking and the nicotine peaks of his cigarette. Nevertheless, the values of this society have been so internalised that such pleasures are termed as unholy and sinful, that which causes disease and that, in some religion, is against god’s mandate. So, forever, Mr Happy is living in guilt, the price he pays for his pursuit of happiness. Let us take this man to the next level of our Idealism vs Happiness battle. Say, Mr Happy got married to Ms Practical, who despises habits such as drinking and smoking. Mr Happy is madly in love with her and he knows for sure that Ms Practical cannot accept the fact that he is a drunkard and a smoker and that she is so prejudiced that she will turn a blind eye to every other good quality of his, when she comes to know about his so called bad habits. So, even when idealism demands that he say the truth to her, yet he chooses to lie, to be happy and to keep Ms Practical happy. So, being NOT ideal, that is to say that Mr Happy conceals the material facts about his habits from his wife, is in turn keeping both of them happy.

Is this only how we can make idealism and happiness meet? Can the two, Idealism and Happiness, ever meet? Ideally speaking, Idealism and Happiness must meet happily, but they do not. Where is the concept of mutual coexistence of the so called good and bad, lost? Why can’t we be relieved of the guilt of choosing one over the other? If tolerance is one of the virtues of an Ideal human being, then why is an idealist not tolerant about non ideals? If an idealist, in fact, is tolerant and does not react to mundane manifestations of everyday life non-idealisms – aka Howard Roark of The Fountainhead, where should the not so bestowed like me, draw a line separating Mr Ideal’s tolerance and indifference? Last but not the least, can an ideal man afford to be indifferent to his surroundings, abdicating his responsibility to make this world “ideal” if he considers the world as he sees it “not so ideal” ?

Practically speaking, in this globalised world, where the very institutions of ethics and morality that defined the established precepts of morality and virtues in the first place, are becoming decrepit and losing significance, what we term as idealism is losing its relevance or atleast there is a wide perception that its losing one. Being ideal is not so “cool”. Being Ideal is not about anywhere close to being practical. Such is the divide. Has practicality won over idealism? Or is idealism indifferent to the conflict? Can a world ideally survive this either or battle? Lots of interesting questions but my introspections are only leading to disquieting answers. This does validate my idealism vs happiness battle theory.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Put on Your Thinking Cap

Who are you to cast the first stone?

“Why are you doing this?” She was visibly pained.

“Does it matter?” Paisanomous replied with remarkable equanimity. He didn’t move. His face was bright and calm, like a full moon on a spring night.

“Does anything matter at all in life?” She asked.

“If it didn’t, you wouldn’t have asked the question.” He said.

“Why do you hide behind a façade? Why cant you be yourself?”

Paisanomous looked at her, eye to eye. His eyes were so sharp as if it were piercing her forehead, reading her mind. He replied softly “I don’t hide. I just reveal less to cause to form an opinion.”

She lifted her eyebrows, uncertain about every thing that she felt certain about him ever. “And what would be that opinion you wish to be formed in your audience?”

“Opinions are matter of perceptions. It is their prerogative to form one, in whatever form they wish to give shape to their prejudices. What is life, if not a sum of experiences? What is an experience, if not the product of perceptions resulting from the interaction of random events more randomized by entropy? And what are perceptions if not the sum of prejudices internalized in the mind?”

“Why would they want to give shape to their prejudices?”

“To get moral sanction of possessing one, from others who in turn give shape to theirs and draw moral sanction from their neighbors. To assume the effect as right they set out to prove right in the first place, so that they don’t end up disproving its existence. To find congruent minds because incongruent thought process scares them.”

“Why do you think an incongruent thought process scare them?” She wasn’t sure if she allowed herself to be excluded from those she referred to as them.

Paisanomous rose. It was well lit room with glass curtains hanging down like a waterfall. He moved to the window and looked at the city streets through the glass pane. He saw a salesman trying to sell his product, a worthless bum begging at the streets, a shining Bentley limousine that spoke of royalty, waiting for the green signal and a woman crossing the street holding a young child’s hand. The street wasn’t crowded and it was a perfect slow start to the long week ahead. He smiled, thinking to himself the spectrum of various people – the rich, poor, the able, young, the guided, the guiding presented before him in the panoramic canvas called life and a spark of thought flitted across his mind as to where all their trajectories are taking them to. He wondered whether they realized that each of them had a unique trajectory and that they had the power to keep it unique.

He turned to her and replied “Because they have abdicated their power of reason and succumbed to mediocrity called conformance and congruence. Because they have handed over the responsibility of forming opinions to what merely meets the eye and not what lies beneath and their ability to think and analyse. They seek moral sanction of all their mediocre actions by forcing others to be mediocre, conform to ones own standards, never excel, never think, fritter away the unique human reasoning ability for a song. For every man who desires to excel, who wishes to reach the ideal, who treads on a virgin path to make new roads often armed only hope and vision, there are a million who will pull him down, who will say that it has not been done before, who will put thorns on his path by way of forcing him back to the cocoon of inertia which they have so comfortably learned to live with.”

“So, what do you intend by all your changing costumes and skins? Why the frivolous guy image, when you are good and when you know that you are good? Aren’t you bothered about your reputation? What will people think of you?” Her stomach was churning. It was a strange numb feeling of dispersed pain, forced to disperse by the super conscience that would not allow such a pain to surface, for such a pain will validate all its contradictions.

He was glad to see her pain. Her very pain had titled the balance on his side. He continued To discover that one in the million, who has the perspicacity to suspect the opposite when a million others who refuse to use their power of reasoning, who form opinions coloured with their prejudices, who are mentally blind to see that which doesn’t meet the eye. "

“Argh!…..you mentioned reputation. That’s a dangerous word. Reputation is what others think you are. What are reputations, if not functions of time? They change. A supremely secure man doesn’t bother about reputations. He doesn’t hand over the right to hurt him or destroy him, to others. He is so powerful that he desires the best and he desires to be the best. He is the powerhouse of this world. “

“ But you caused to form an opinion by your actions? Didn’t you?” Her indignation was palpable.

“ Yes I did. But not before revealing enough to challenge their ability to use their mind, to see things which otherwise is not visible to a mediocre mind.”

“ So you mean to say that character is the real thing? And that it what is one actually is? And that one must really care for?” She asked.

He smiled, as if he was waiting for this question and said “No. Just like reputation which is what others think you are, Character is what you think you are. It is also coloured, but with your own prejudices. And the most ridiculous part is that one doesn’t even realize that one is prejudiced. One is simply ignorant. Most often one is guilty of not only ignorance, but also ignorance of the fact that one is ignorant. This form of ignorance is the cause of mental inertia and is the most preposterous crime that has befallen humanity and precluded its enlightenment.”

“But what right do you have to cast the first stone?” She fired.

“By the same right you threw this question to me.” Paisanomous left the room.

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

I am Back

I was away for quite sometime and my proffessional responsibilities kept me away from the blogging world. However, my creativity was always on fire and I kept writing. I read a lot during this period of last six months, more than what I had read in the last few years. Life is exciting and there seems no better time to live life than now. In the meanwhile, I created a new character called Paisanomous. He will feature in my writings from now on. His eyes will be the lense through which I will see the world. He is a protagonist of practical idealism. I know it sounds like an oxymoron. But I have decided to embark on this course. I wish to validate my ideas and test my beliefs. Therefore I have presented Paisanomous to this world. Murder him with all the weapons that you have in your arsenal. Don't let him survive. Trample his ego and make it untenable for him to live. And if inspite of all your efforts, Paisanomous survives and comes out of the murder board like a gleaming bar of gold, I shall have validated my ideas.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Learning Curve

Boobalan.......Tussi Great Ho Yaar!!!

I couldn’t wait to narrate this experience of mine. I landed at Chennai Central Railway Station at 10pm to board my train to Bangalore. I generally travel light and I carry only that much baggage which I can lift myself. I have never employed the services of porter ever, but today was a different story. As soon as I alighted from the autorickshaw, one physically handicapped, frail young man, one of the thinnest six footers I have seen, came limping towards me. He had visibly suffered from a polio attack and both his legs were handicapped. But, I was surprised when he asked me if he could lift my baggage if I paid him Rs 20 ( Half an US Dollar)!! His spirit humbled me and I accepted his offer. I handed over the lightest luggage I had. He lifted it, alas, he could not walk more than 10mts or I was too moved to see the way he went about carrying my suitcase. I immediately unloaded the briefcase from his head, and paid him Rs 20. Even though he had not completed his contract, I appreciated his will to work and earn, rather than resorting to begging in streets (which many physically handicapped people resort to).

The story did not end there. The guy had another friend who also seemed handicapped and who came limping to me and said that he will carry the suitcase, which his friend couldn’t carry. I was a little disinclined to this offer, but when he told me that he wouldn’t charge me anything as I have already paid his buddy, I had no option but to give him the opportunity to earn his own bread, when I would pay him once more for his good intentions. So went the story and the second guy, who called himself Boopalan, and who was partially handicapped, started walking towards platform no 3, carrying my suitcase. A few more meters and I could see that Boopalan was sweating and panting. I suggested to him that I will pay him there and will take back the suitcase. He was unimpressed by my offer and considering it as an insult to his self respect, Boopalan walked even faster. It was absolutely heartrending to see him do the job inspite of so many physical handicaps. He was so thin that it appeared as if it had been months since he has eaten.

I asked him how much does he make in a day for his living. He replied that he makes around Rs 50 (a little more than an US Dollar) and even in that frugal earning, he has to pay Rs 5 or 10 to the local policemen as bribe. At this juncture, I couldn’t control my emotions and my eyes moistened. I pitied the state of law and order in our country, where there is bribery and extortion from policemen even from such hapless souls who are willing to work and earn rather than do illegal activities. Boopalan was walking in front of me and I was closely following him, feeling completely overwhelmed by his gumption and energy. But the mother of all acts of kindness was yet to come.

A few steps ahead of us in the platform, a blind man was walking with the help of his walking stick, swinging it all around him to probe for way. As we crossed this blind man, Boopalan, who was carrying my suitcase in his head holding it with right hand, suddenly took hold of the blind man's walking stick and asked him where would he want to go. The blind man replied that he wished to go to S3 coach. Without second thoughts, Boopalan smilingly said that he would hold his stick and asked the blind man to follow him by holding the other end of the stick. I was flabbergasted. Scores of people were in the platform and most of them did not bother even to give way for the blind man. But here is one guy, physically handicapped himself, vehemently refusing to take money without doing work when I offered, carrying my suitcase on his head and walking with great difficulty, but having a heart bigger than the biggest and helping another blind man to find his way through the crowd. I admired this man. I was humbled. I was on my knees. I saw a Hercules in Boopalan. He seemed to me as a man of extraordinary moral values and resilience par excellence.

It was a revelation, a sight to watch, a lesson which a thousand classrooms won't teach what I learnt in those five minutes from Boopalan. I learnt that how ever much difficulty I am in, I must always work and earn honestly and ethically and how ever much physically incapacitated I become, whenever possible I must treat, guide and help people who are less privileged than me. This is what Boopalan taught me in 5 minutes and he showed that it is possible to be like that. I promised myself that Boopalan would join my list of inspirational leaders who have shaped my life and my soul. As a token of respect, I emptied my purse and gave all the money I could find in it. It was a two months pay incentive for him for his good work and a good heart!! He possibly had never seen so much money at one time and his hands were trembling when he recieved it. I wished I had more cash to give him. As he left me, there was a lump in my throat and heart.

Boopalan…… Tussi great ho yaar!!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Put on Your Thinking Cap

My advice to to-be HAPPILY married girls - A Satire :P

1. Look for a Guy who is in US or Who has the potential to go to US. Some amount of greenbacks in life feels good especially when you multiply it by 40.

2. A guy working in a big company with a big name has a brand equity. After all, you need to answer 100 people a day where your husband is working. Infosys or TATA sounds much much better than Tirupati software & co (firm)!!

3. Love will keep you alive but a meal for two in Le Meridien is always tasty and the ambience is de-stressing. So, please find a guy who has VISA power.

4. Maanggadu Mariamman Temple is beautiful tourist destination, but what ever said and done, a trip to Rome is an exclusive holiday, . So, yet again go with a guy who has VISA power, this time both the money and the stamp!!

5. Look for a handsome guy. It wont hurt to see your baby daughter look like a johnson baby cutie pie (for that even you also need to look good).

6. A bicycle ride to office is very tiresome. So, please try to ensure that you can get atleast a Toyota for yourself as your first valentines day gift. On that occassion of him gifting you one, Your special kiss to your hubby is priceless. For everything else there is MASTERCARD.

7. DONT marry a guy with sisters(especially elder, younger and twin) even if he comes for free. You are buying trouble and pain.

8. Insist on a seperate home right from day one. Maamiyar thollai(in-laws Harassment) is not worth it. Come on....lets face it......no one can be considered and treated equal as your parents and what are these old age homes for????.

9. Finally, remember...self worth of a guy is good to talk about. But when it comes to choosing your partner, please go by what the world does. Afterall, a million others cant be fools. There is NO NEED to think differently and try to be more happier.At the end of the day, no one is more happier than the other. Its all one and the same. Atleast in my advice, you can be comfortable, even if your marraige breaks.

The Saga of Indian Marraiges Continue.:)

Put on your Thinking Cap

My Advice to To-Be HAPPILY married guys - A Satire :D

1. Look for a beautiful girl. Inner Beauty arguments are a big cover up act and it is the greatest myth that beautiful girls have no inner beauty. This defies all logic. After all you have to put atleast your engagement snap in your orkut album to show off and inner beauty cannot obviously be shown!!

2. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder is again a big myth. If an object is green, it appears green to everyone. It’s the same case with beauty. If your eyes are finding Ms Gandhimathi or Mrs (late) Phoolan Devi beautiful, then please go and get your eyes checked before you proceed.

3. Whats in a name? Everything flows from the name. you have to call that name for next 30yrs. Preethi, Priya, Vandana, pooja etc are in. Mythili, Mahalaksmi, annapoorani are out. There is enough research to prove that girl's personalities are shaped by their names.

4. If Her Past Matters to You : A girl will never confess about her past, or any fling, or bad habits to a prospective groom unless she is fairly sure that the interaction is leading to some logical conclusion. This means, she is likely to take atleast a month to a lifetime, before she openly speaks out. This is unlike men, who generally start off highlighting how much they smoke or how many relationships they have had. So if these "confessions" matter in your decision making, then before deciding give yourself atleast 2-3 months time. If not given enough time, then bid for it.

5. Please avoid girls with unmarried sisters, unless you wish to spend your savings on her sister's marriage. It’s a money spent with no returns. Imagine how many times you can take your secretary out for a movie with that money!!

6. If you are going for the ponnu parkal (First Date with Her Family) ceremony, the first thing you must assess is the girl's mother. As her mother, so shall be the girl. If she has a more beautiful elligible unmarried sister, then try to bid for her. Otherwise, reject the girl unless you want to spend a life time repenting why did u start early, oogling at her more beautiful sister!!!

7. Don’t get married to extremely talented girls, if you yourself are highly accomplished. Ore Urai la Rendu Kathi Irukave Pidathu!!! Two Swords must not be there inside a single scabbard. Maintain the balance. Peace in the family is a must.

8. Avoid all sportswomen, athletes, swimmers (even if they are school team levels) in case you have a ponch (which most of us do). In the fight to the finish where performance matters, it hurts to be seen huffing and puffing with no output.

9. Nymphomania is the only (dis)order acceptable. Reject even mild headache cases. It could be brain tumour in the making and your savings is likely to go to Apollo Medical Foundations.

10. Last but not the least, please look for a Girl with a great sense of humour,

(a) Who looks like Asin or Trisha or Katrina.
(b) Who will cook and look after you like a mother.
(c) Who will respect your parents like god.
(d) Who is caring, understanding, romantic, vivacious etc.
(e) Who is sweetness personified.

The Saga of Great Indian Marraiges Continues.:)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

My Idea for a New Object Searcher Device : Find-Alarm v1.1.1

How often were you searching for something urgent like your car keys when you are leaving for the evening show movie at 6pm or that insulin shot you needed to administer to your diabetic mother on an emergency or the file you needed for the conference about to begin in your department and were not able to find it until it was too late? How many times you wished that there exist something like Google that can help us find our objects instantly? Today, Google is the first destination if one is looking for something on the net. Google has crawled into out desktops too. But isn’t it time to invent something to search physical objects in our house or office?

I was searching for my swiss knife for hours until when it struck me as to why cant we have an object searcher device that is seamlessly integrated with laptop or mobile phone and directly points to what we are searching for? I thought about it and if I were to design one, I would do it like this.

(a) There is something called RF (radio frequency) IDs tags available in the market, which acts as a tracker for objects they are tagged on. It continuously emits unique radio frequency that is tracked by the receivers. If a RF receiver tag that can sound an alarm on reception of a unique frequency RF signal, could be sufficiently miniaturized to some sticker form and manufactured in abundance, then each and every object say a swiss knife or music CD can be embedded with these tags with unique identification number and reception frequency.

(b) And then we have a transmitter that is connected to a computer and a software program that indexes each of the tags with a name and unique reception frequency of the tag that is embedded on the object. All one would need to do is to type the object name in the object searcher software, and double click on the particular object thrown up by the search results. This would send a command to the transmitter to emit a RF signal in the same frequency of the receiver of the tag embedded on the object being searched, which when received by the object RF tag, triggers the sound alarm making it easier to locate it.

(c) To avoid bandwidth problems this device can be designed to work in blue tooth frequency (unlicensed) ranges above 2.4GHz with limited transcieving ranges of 10 to 30mts so that the RF tags of same frequency can be used by millions of users 10 to 30mts apart without interference.

Will I get a venture capitalist to set up an R&D team and roll out the Find-Alarm v1.1.1 by Jan 2008? Or is a device like this is already on the drawing boards soon to be launched in the market? How to patent this idea? Or will some one atleast copy this idea of mine after reading this blog and make a device like this and ease our lives?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Travel Diary

Straight Leku, Left Beku, Akku nimisha, hosur roadu!!

After a lovely holiday trip to mysore, myself, Ganesh and Rishi were returning to Bangalore in our car. The journey was very pleasant, slicing through the cool winds on a relatively traffic less mysore-bangalore road. As we were getting closer to the Bangalore city, suddenly Ganesh got a wonderful idea to reach back to our home at JP Nagar through a new bypass road to Hosur road and hit some meenakshi temple very near to Bannegata road. All our advice that when short on time, one must follow the shortest known route, even if it happens to be the longest route, fell on deaf ears and finally Ganesh had his way. So we left the highway and reached our last known own position and from there went straight inside a road which was still under construction.

And then the roller coaster ride began. We found ourselves in the middle of a dirt road under construction. We drove for a few meters and met a pedestrian and asked for direction. Ganesh suddenly realized that he was the Deve Gowda among us and rolled out his excellent kannada skills. All we could make out was just one word "chesthu" which he used frequently. Then the pedestrian gave us his direction " Straight Leku, Left Beku, Akku nimisha, hosur roadu". Armed with this invaluable piece of direction, we set out straight (since he had said straight leku) but could not find any road on our left to do the "left beku"!!

So we asked one more guy. The answer was same . " Straight Leku, Left Beku, Akku nimisha, hosur roadu"!! But only that he showed the exactly opposite direction of what the previous guy had told. So the path finders (me and rishi) decided that the first guy looked more educated and hence decided to follow his advice and took a left turn ( "left beku") and drove through what it seemed as Greenfield road. And every few hundred metres Ganesh would give out his Gowda build up and ask in his pure kannada chesthu chesthu and the only direction we got was " Straight Leku, Left Beku, man roadu, " Straight Leku, Left Beku, man roadu, " Straight Leku, Left Beku, Akku nimisha, hosur roadu". I said to Ganesh " Dae…I can hear the word Beku three times….so ….iva ellaram namma moonu perayum "neenga straight a poi left thirumbina …..you are a Beku"…nu solra da"!!

Finally one guy spoke hindi and gave us the most valuable advice. He showed us a tipper going in front and told us to follow it as it will take us to hosur road. We geared up for the chase and drove through mud and dirt to catch up with the tipper. The tipper driver saw a car following him and drove even faster. But finally we prevailed and reached the tipper and kept following him until he stopped to ask about us. We said we are following him to reach the hosur road for which he replied that he was going to the river bed to fetch construction sand!!! And then we realized that we were actually near a stream bed!! So we asked him for directions. Yet again the same reply.. " Straight Leku, Left Beku, Akku nimisha, hosur roadu"

I was cursing myself that "Ada paavigala…ippadi akku nimisha akku nimisha solli solliye one hour ayiduthu……innum hosur road kidaikala engaluku" . But finally we got out of that jungle (that time it did seem so) at 10pm to Bomanhalli, much to our relief. Thanks to ganesh, he took us to a good restaurant where we had sumptuous dinner and I hogged one Poli also. All is well that ends well. But I would never forget this line " Straight Leku, Left Beku, Akku nimisha, hosur roadu" ever in my life!!

Travel Diary

A Trip to Mysore

Its Me!!

Cauvery at Srirengapatnam

Cauvery at Srirengapatnam

Colonel Bailey's Dungeon

Tippu's Memorial

Eagle on the Hunt

Eagle on the Hunt

Listening for the Train

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Down the Memory Lane

Photo Finish

Down the memory lane.....Jan 1978.....Did you notice that handtowel under my chin?? The photographer was a stunning hot babe....Drooling ever since :P

Kovalam Beach......sometime in early 81

Mottai Boss aka Sivaji??

How about this sweet mottai boss??

I Love Life....I LIVE Life!! :)

Think of the Devil and i will be there.....can you spot the car no 666-3...the devil's number......I m still searching for the agent for who got me this number for last two yrs!!!:)

Taking the bull by its horn :)

............and little did i realise that.......

......i was wearing a bright red Tshirt and the bull was drunk.......and zoom i went flying.......

My Stunt Photographer

Amma Madi.........heaven on Earth.

This is a theme photo.

Behind all my success and endeavour to be a good human being, She stands silently behind the scenes, always blessing me, always loving me unconditionaly and always protecting me. She is the invisible force behind whatever I am today.

She is my inspiration in life.:)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Put On Your Thinking Cap

Piggy Back

I found this frog pair in my backyard. I really dont know if they are mating or they are mother frog/father frog-son frog/daughter frog pair carrying piggy back. But I decided to test my macro photo skills with my pet canon camera!!! I think, I have taken a decent shot!!

For a moment, I was wondering, if I could touch this frog, only to release the princess of neverland and then we could marry and live happily ever after!! Poor me........the desperation of search for a partner has got me to this level of looking at frogs for hidden princess, because in the matrimonial market, all good girls seems taken!!!

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

Bye Bye Hyderabad

Like all good things must come to an end, I have left Hyderabad after completion of my work. When I came to this city, I had no idea of what good times I am going to have ahead. Hyderabad simply rocks. All my prejudices were shattered to smithereens the day I landed here. I found the people very warm and accommodative. Hyderabad was declared a metro and rightly so, very recently. The traffic is very manageable. Hussain Saagar lake and Necklace road were my favourite places to spend a few quite hours. I met with loads of my old and new friends. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and I would someday come back to this place for a longer stay. Thanks Hyderabad. I have no words to pay gratitude to you. Simply put, I wish you all the best for becoming India’s best city!!! You have it in you.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Put On Your Thinking Cap

Happiness Crystal

On the other day I was talking to my friend CVR and we were comparing the pay structures of various professions. He was of the opinion that money and material wealth is not important for happiness and one should not be looking at a happiness index measured by wealth. It all started when I said, driving a Toyota Prado gives me happiness. He retorted that when I would actually get to drive a Prado, I would still be unhappy because then I would be looking at a Maybach!! Then I asked him what one must look for when we say happiness. He replied that often unquantifiable things like writing poetry, working hard or composing music give happiness and its better to pursue them instead of having materialistic aims.

I thought over it for a moment. I shared his view 100% and infact, I had even written about it here a couple of yrs of ago. But, to my mind there appeared to more that what it meets the eye. Three questions come to my mind here :-

1. Can happiness be a product one just one factor alone? To amplify, can any one factor be the single contributor to happiness of a person?

2. Is having a materialistic aim like wanting to own a bigger car, a crime, a road that leads away from happiness?

3. Are the two aspects of materialistic view and spiritualistic or artistic view of roads leading to happiness mutually exclusive?

Well, I look at it this way. Happiness comes from every sphere of life. I have the power to derive happiness from the most mundane things in this world to the most audacious ambitions I nurture and persevere to achieve, however materialistic they are. To tie down the source of happiness from just one aspect is unrealistic and foolish. We must take a holistic view of happiness index. Materialism and Spiritualism can and does coexist. They are the different faces of the same crystal.

I will try to illustrate this with an example. Today, I am an amateur blogger who writes occasionally but I would someday want to write a best selling fiction novel. Among other things, writing gives me a lot of happiness. Driving my present car, a B segment Ford, gives me a lot of happiness. Aspiring to drive a maybach one day also makes me happy. And dreaming to become an author of a best selling fiction also makes me very happy. Now, these are just a few faces of my happiness crystal. I may, after reaching my destination that I have set for today, aim for further more. So does that mean that after reaching there, I will still be unhappy?? No. Not if I include the journey of myself from a amateur writer to a professional author, as one face of the happiness crystal. And include the journey from a driving my poor ford to cruising in my luxury maybach as another face of the happiness crystal, I shall ensure happiness all along my journey. In life, we arrive at a destination only to commence a new journey and if this journey itself gives us happiness, then we can be happy for most part of our lifetime. And they say, success is a journey and not a destination!!

So, here I am, a one time occasional writer scribbling my random thoughts, graduating to become a full time writer, working hard enough to pen down a fiction that would get me the professional satisfaction and in turn would make me richer, would permit me to go for that dream maybach!!! Its all about synergy. The faces of the crystal synergise to produce a combined mental positive state of happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind. Not one face of the happiness crystal alone claim all the honour, but just one face alone can rescue when all others fail to radiate. That’s the story of my kaleidoscope where my happiness crystal is rotating fast. I cant make out which of its face is radiating and which is not. But the myriad picture called Life that I am seeing everyday is very colourful!! At the end of the day, it is all that matters.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Mind Gym

What do we own?
Recently, my friend RamG visited me at Hyderabad and we had quite a lot of intellectual exchange of ideas and a conversation that cut across communist economic policies to special relativity to puzzling to hindu mythology till the wee hours of the morning. During that exciting discussion, he mentioned that if we plot, the cumulative population on X axis, and cumulative wealth on the Y axis, then in an ideal situation, where the wealth will be equally distributed, it will be a 45 degree line as ilustrated by the red line in the graph below. And where one man owns all the wealth, it will be a straight vertical line as illustrated by the blueline. For a moment, i was wondering what if all of us own everything or none of us own nothing as illustrated by the pink line ??

For example, between ram and me, we both own the same house equally in all respects which may tantamount to the inference that at the same time we both didn’t own nothing. A complex scenario, but shouldn’t the world be this way? Is there anything called ownership? Can we in absolute sense claim ownership to anything at all in this world? Even our soul doesn’t seem to ours. Or is the Us inseperable from soul and hence we don’t even own ourselves?

Arrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh..............I better leave it there. The city is rocking with the delicious eyecandy and am on my way. Life is calling me. Wanna join in??

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Put On Your Thinking Cap

Do We need a Moral Right to Question Others???

Often in discussions and arguments, one most interesting piece of defence that people use is to question the moral right of the person questioning them. I will illustrate this with a simple example. Ram is a college student who was found using unfair means in is semester exam. His friend Chandran confronted him after the exam and asks him as to why he did that. Ram’s counter question is almost instantaneous. He asks, “Chandru, what right do you have to question me? You also used the same means last semester to pass!!.”

I have come across this form of defence in many other areas. In politics, Congress party says BJP has no moral authority to charge Congress with corruption as they themselves are corrupt. At home, often younger siblings cite incidents of some nature to question the moral authority of parents/elders to enforce discipline, like if the father is a smoker, the son believes that the father has no right to question his own smoking habits. Alternatively, parents retort when pointed out mistakes by their young children, with a typical answer “You are a kid born yesterday. And you are questioning me???”

To cut the long story short, I would simply put it like this.

Mahatma Gandhi says Don’t Cheat.

A convicted thief says Don’t Cheat.

Is the value of the statement Don’t Cheat, a function of the person saying it? Does the same statement when said by Gandhi, more valuable than the other? I don’t think so. The value of the statement Don’t Cheat is indestructible. Its relevance, importance and significance remain the same regardless of who is saying it. Often, when confronted with situations and arguments which highlight our own incompetence and inadequacies, we tend to take refuge in the fact that the other person has no moral authority to question us and infact, take that as green signal to continue with our vices.

If it requires a person of complete character to question any one’s vices, then I don’t think any one of us can point out mistakes or provide guidance in any one else. We all are imperfect in some form or the other, at different points of time in life. It will do us more good to look at WHAT is being said, rather than WHO is saying it. Even if the greatest of advices are coming from the hardest of the criminals, it is worth absolutely the same as Krishna’s BhagavadGita to Arjun.

But yes, it would do us, others and the situation better, if we lead by personal example and then start dishing out advices. People unconsciously tend to blindly listen to so called good people, in the belief that all that they are saying is good. It makes me laugh though. Perceptions!! Oh, didn’t I tell you that we are all a part of an Imperfect World?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mind Gym

Patience and Faith : A Simple but Powerful Exercise

Place : Marina Beech, Madras
Time : 10 pm

I love beaches. I love the sea and I love to stand and watch the waves that come and go, touch and wet, the receding sand underneath the feet making you feel as if you are being pulled into the enormity of the sea and the exhilarating feeling of standing still and firm defying the mightiness.

Like all days, I reached my favourite spot around 9pm. I wish to be alone. Just the sea and me. Away from the maddening crowd. Sometimes even the old lady feeding her son in the moon also seems to invade my privacy. I watched the waves. So many of them. Some big and some small, some soft and some ferocious, some rising and some falling, some coming and some receding, but all of them were bringing a certain amount of randomness with them. It was simply breath taking. The waves I thought would reach me, never did. And those I never thought it would, swept my feet. My mind was filled with joy every time my feet got wet. And then, since I was standing at a distance, not all waves managed to reach me. Soon enough, I was falling into the trap of impatience of waiting for the waves to wet my feet than enjoying the moment, the scenery, the rising moon and the soothing music that was playing in my ipod.

The Experience and The Experiment.

Suddenly I had a spark in my brain. Why could I not use this set up to device a simple exercise to develop patience and faith. I feel that they are two extremely important qualities to last the race of life. They say, the winner is almost always the one who lasts just a little longer than others. It means, perseverance ably supported by patience and faith. Here I was finding it difficult to wait for a few moments for the one wave that would wet my feet. But this difficulty was presenting me an opportunity, to learn, experiment and improve.

I stood with my feet apart in a relaxed position. I played some of my favorite songs in my ipod. I closed my eyes and started humming aloud with the music that was playing and I decided I wouldn’t watch the waves and wouldn’t open my eyes until the first wave swept my feet. Initially, it was difficult. Darkness, the fear of unkown and anticipation was making me restless. But slowly, I learned to enjoy the present, the soothing music, the breeze that was gracing my cheeks, the rising moon lit night, gushing sound of the waves. Some 300 full seconds passed before the first wave wet my feet. Now, I had partially learned to control my mind and learned to enjoy the present for five full minutes. For those of us who have tried really doing so, five minutes is a decent time to start the experiment with.

Now, I decided to stretch the time. I stepped back one mtr. Then I repeated the experiment. Standing still. Eyes closed. Living in the present. The exercise was more satisfying this time, and I was able to stand for almost 10 minutes. Two full songs played in my ipod. Actually, I almost forgot I was waiting for a wave. It was a wonderful experience and my mind was filled with such pleasure. The 30mins of this experience had detoxified and destressed what no amount of wordly pleasures would have managed to do so.

How often we do certain things like writing an exam and cant wait to know the result. Or watch a weekly TV show and cant wait to watch the next episode. Or wrote a love mail and cant wait to see her reply. Or stand in front of a lift where already 10 people are waiting and yet pressing the lift button 5 times for the lift to come sooner. How often do we lose out steam before we are just there, or run out of interest and waver from an aim or think that things aren’t going our way and change course short of destination?

I feel that even the most simple conception has to pass through five stages.

Dream a concept------->convert them into workable Ideas---------->Start Acting on those Ideas---------->Persevere through difficulties--------->Finally taste success.

At every stage, someone of us gives up and we attribute our responsibility of our failure to external factors, mostly on imponderables like fate and destiny.

I feel that if one could develop patience and faith, the experience will be more rewarding. And, these two qualities go a long way in achieving equanimity of mind, the most essential ingredient of happiness. I have just shared one method which I found to be very useful for me. One can always innovate and use such powerful day to day experience for the path of self improvement. For egs, one can simulate the same experiment standing at suitable distance from a flying window curtain with fan switched on, waiting for the curtain cloth to touch the face.

Hope it inspires you as it did to me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

This a tamil poem I wrote yesterday while I was sitting on the banks of Bercha. The thoughts were so spontaneous and I just couldnt resist penning it down. I must thank my friend CVR for waking up the poet in me!!

நான் தேடிய சீதை

பக்கத்தில் அவள் இருந்தாள்.
கடிகாரத்தின் முள் மின் விசிறியானது.
பக்கத்தில் அவள் அமர்ந்தாள்
முள் படுக்கை பூவானது.

இதழ் துடைத்து அவள் மறந்த
கைக்குட்டை என் பஞ்சணை ஆனது.

சீவிப் படர்ந்த அவள் கூந்தல்
என் இரவானது.
சீப்பினில் சிக்கும் ஒவ்வொரு முடியும்
என் இதயத்தை கோர்க்கும் நூலானது.

எனைப் பார்த்து இமைக்கும்
அவள் புன்னகை என் விடியலானது

நான் தேடிய சீதை!!

மா பலா வாழை
அவள் சொற்கள் கவிச்சோலை.
அதிகாலைப் பனி, வென் துளிர் மேகம்
நெஞ்சமெல்லாம் அவள் மோகம்.

மரம் அவள், செடி அவள்
கொடி அவள், இலை அவள்,
மலை அவள், மலைச்சாரல் அவள்,
பாறை நடு அசையும் இளம் புல் அவள்.

நாற்றவள், கீற்றவள்,
செழிக்கும் நெல் அவள், உண்ணும் உணவவள்
உவற்க்கும் உப்பவள், இனிக்கும் தேனவள்.
நீறும் அவள், நெறுப்பும் அவள்

இசை அவள், லயம் அவள்,
ராகம் அவள், தாளம் அவள்,
வீணையும் அவள், மீட்டும் விரலும் அவள்.

அமுதம் அவள், நஞ்சும் அவள்,
பாற்கடலும் அவள், அதை கடக்கும் படகும் அவள்.
அலையும் அவள், அதில் மிதக்கும் நுறையும் அவள்,
குமுதம் அவள், கலங்கரை விளக்கம் அவள்.

கட்டிலும் அவள், மெத்தையும் அவள்,
இன்பமும் அவள், ஊடலும் அவள்.
விழியில் அவள், செவியில் அவள்,
தொட்டால் அவள், உணர்ந்தால் அவள்.

கண் விழித்து பார்த்தேன்
கனவா இது? பகற்கனவா இது?

எங்கே அவள்? எங்கே அவள்?
நான் தேடீய சீதை!!

நிலவினில் தேடினேன், விண்வெளியில் கூவினேன்
காற்றினை தூதனுப்பினேன்.
பூஞ்சோலையை கேட்டேன்,
பட்டாம்பூச்சியிடம் சொல்லிவைத்தேன்.
கறுப்புக் கண்ணாடியனிந்து சூரியனிலும் தேடினேன்.

இம்மன்னில் அவள் இல்லையென்று
மதிகெட்டு நம்பினேன்.

தக், தக், தக்.

கொஞ்சம் இருங்கள், கதவு தட்டும் ஓசை
திறந்தேன், மனக்கதவைத் திறந்தேன்.
எதிரெ அவள், எதிரெ அவள்.

வியந்தேன் நான்
நீயா அவள்? நீயா அவள்?

புன்னகைத்தாள். எனது இரவு விடிந்தது.
கண்ணிமைத்தாள். ஒரு யுகம் கணமானது.

ஆனந்தத்தில் பாடினேன்
இவளே அவள்! இவளே அவள்!

இத்தனை நாள் எங்கிருந்தாயென
பொய் கோபம் காட்டினேன்.

கோவில் மனியோசை போல் சிரித்தாள்.
பதில் அளித்தாள்...

உன்னருகே இருந்தேன், உன்னில் இருந்தேன்
உன் இமைக்குள் இருந்தேன்.

கண் திறந்து தேடினாய்
அதனால் எனை காணவில்லை.

இன்று மனம் திறந்து நோக்கினாய்
நொடியில் எனை கண்டாய்.

நீ தேடிய சீதை!!

For all those who cannot view the tamil fonts, here is the JPEG image of the poem. I hope this solves the problem for firefox users.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


A Wall Paper I Designed

I just designed a wall paper for myself. Its for 1200x800 pxl screen
for those who use a blank desktop like me.
I recieved this kid's photo in a fwd email though:)
This is my two cents to the www!!

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

Lage Raho India! Lage Raho JP!!

This is the story of Mr JP Singh. He is a simple autorickshaw driver. But the man has real big dreams. About two years ago, I was traveling in his auto in delhi somewhere I don’t exactly remember now. I have the habit of engaging in conversations with auto drivers whenever I travel on one. They are the best indicators of public sentiments and they actually allow you to get a feel of the real India. JP was one such man. When I started talking to him, he narrated his grand plans. He apparently has three sons and he has planned in detail of their future. He wanted his eldest son to finish his physics honours which he was doing at that time. His second son was a chemistry student. And his youngest son was in his class XI that time. The elder sons were to teach and tutor his third son so that he can get into some good college and prepare for IAS (civil services) exams. He dreamt of making him a diplomat. Typical Dad he was. Big dreams. What amazed me was that the way he narrated his entire plan which was more accurate and detailed than some of the biggest military operational plans. His meticulousness was manifest in the way he narrated even the time plan for the week for his children. He was nuturing the future of India. I really appreciated his dedication and wished him good luck. And he didn’t overcharge me as most auto drivers do. But the only thing I was worried that if his plans go wrong, how much devastated he would be!! He was actually living out his dream during the thirty minutes drive.

I thought the story ended there. But as we all know, this world is a small place and I met JP again in a CNG pump when he came to fill fuel for his vehicle after two full years. I recognized him instantly and asked how he was doing and what about his sons? He replied happily that his first son has got into IIT Delhi for Masters in Physics, the second one has completed chemistry graduation and the third has joined Maths honours. With all the three, he along with his sons has decided to open a private coaching institute that would fetch more money than his one of his son joining the civil services and the others working elsewhere. Infact they are running one now at a small scale. He was so happy to say this and his excitement was palpable.

Now, what does it mean? For me, it simply meant that he did not see civil services as an opportunity to earn corrupt money whose copiousness can never be matched by any private tuition centre. He would be happier to run a tuition center and earn honestly (more than an honest civil servant). And then his flexibility. He seemed so engrossed in his plans that he actually did give me an impression that he could be more stubborn. But when I heard how he had rerouted his thinking and the course of his sons as per changing dynamics of life as it unfolded in front of him, he demonstrated that he was flexible and quick to grab fleeting opportunities. And the third thing which was staring at me was the synergy. Each of his sons was to get their masters in physics and chemistry and maths, but when they synergize they produce more than their sum total. They produce an entire coaching institute. And JP was an average Indian middle class person. What more, he earns a daily living by driving an auto rickshaw. With his limited knowledge, if he can think so much, what would happen if he is trained formally in a management institute and would run an organization? What a wasted talent!!

In information ops, there is a terminology called the OODA. It stands for Observation, Orientation, Decision and Action. It is said the second O is the most important of them all. So, people like JP give me a lot of confidence in our people. In this madness of resurgent India, there seems to be a method. It may take another generation to translate into concrete results, but then our direction seems right. Lage Raho India. Lage Raho JP!!!!