#Health, #Inspiration, #marathon

The First Mile..

Airports and rest are seldom quoted in the same sentence. While nursing an injury sustained post the half marathon in Mumbai, it was the much deserved rest that I was looking forward to amidst the bustling lounge at Delhi airport. The moment I took off my solely shoes to the sight of a swollen foot, it was a sense of relief over the impending pain that made me think about the recent half marathon experience, which happened to be my first. I was my best companion throughout and it was an ideal moment to relive the last two years of build up.

I am taking a shot in describing the journey from the end to the build up..

@21 kms – Crossing the Finish Line: I just did it. This is different from all I had imagined on how it will be. A sense of relief beholds me and the overwhelming emotions that I had imagined I shall experience are missing. All I witness and fathom is just a lot of people ahead and some behind. None of the emotion, or celebratory lap or any of that I was supposed to get after conquering the feat came close. Not even a sense of satisfaction.

@18 kms – 3 more to go: I will fall on the ground, kiss it, and let emotions take control of my entire body. It is ok to cry and out pour. Yes it is absolutely fine, like how you did behind closed doors couple of years back. Your feat is no normal thing, and when you look back on the build-up you would have made your own self proud killing your own inhibition demons. You would have done it. You would have survived the 21 kms.

@15 kms – 6 more to go : How can you give up? You did not give up couple of years back did you? There were times where you could have given up when the unfriendly visitor had you in its grip. You survived by showing character. Your legs are fine. They don’t feel pain. You just imagine having a pain. Haven’t you fallen for the trap your mind plays with you before? I hope you have not forgotten October 2015? Come on. Go for it.

@11kms- 10 more to go: I circled the beautiful infrastructure over the Arabian Sea, I pay attention to the song on my phone. With the incessant chatter with my mind, I could not chance on it however it was beautiful voice of Bhimsen Joshi at the crack of dawn. I got a confidence that I could pull it off now, just like 2 years ago when Pandit Bhimsen Joshi helped me pull through one of my toughest phase. It was the same Raag Durga and with the same energy transforming my body. I realized I am half way there.

@6 kms – 15 more to go: What should I call you? A survivor or a winner? Well, who is a winner really? Someone who has reached the finish line faster than anyone else or someone finishing the journey as a token of unnerving spirit? I see a lot of people running. I wonder what is running in their mind? What are they running for or why? I see vagaries in the physical appearance. Some short, some plump, some athlete and some reaching out to the sponge bath at the pit. It dawns on me that for all of us running today, our own selves are our companion. People have their own reasons to run. Most of us will complete and have a pyrrhic victory that is at best surreal. Many of us won’t complete. But with the realization that there is so much unseen anxiety and grief surrounding mankind which needs a forum to express, I turn around to complete the sixer.

@3 kms – 18 more to go – I feel content in overtaking in what I thought were a lot of people, however not getting ahead of myself. I cannot control the tinge of smile that beckons me with the analogy. “Not getting ahead of myself”. I admire the massive manpower, dedication and lives it took to ready this engineering marvel atop the sea. It is liberating to understand that there are countless souls whose job we take it for granted and have forgotten to thank in our daily lives. Menial jobs such as the janitor at the hospital couple of years back whom I did not have the fortune to meet. The janitor at the workplace whom I see but never acknowledge. World can be a better place, because it certainly has been kind to me.

Start Line – 21 more to go – Off you go my friend. Another test of your endurance. You have enough medals back at home, but this journey you are embarking on is special one because you are not chasing any medal but an inspiration. Make the most off it. Get people cheered up. Always smile. Smiling works for you. Just like how you went in to the surgery room and most importantly came out smiling. It immediately eased out quite a trauma in the family. So smile. Co-incidentally the music starts “God put a smile on your face” – Coldplay.

Jan 7th 2017 – 1 week to go – Will I be able to complete? Will I have a decent time? This is just a practice run, like a preliminary examination. Memory ain’t your best friend at all, where in one of my preliminary exam, I had scored miserly 54.8%. But in the test that mattered, it was a 90+. I should not have thought about such a deal breaker. It didn’t motivate, but made me stop at 13 kms. There is an inherent problem with our society on how we distinguish success and failure based on an examination. With this thought, I wrap up the practice.

October 2016 – 3 months to go: Run. Faster. Is it me? Or is it just that the weight that I have been putting on sideways and god knows everywhere that is pulling me back? I have been told, that I lose weight immediately. I don’t see it at least when I practiced. I am way off the pace and am unsure if I will ever get to the best of myself that I was a couple of years back before the unwelcome visitor paid me a visit.

October 2015 – 1 year and 3 months to go – Run. Start your first step. Will I be able to? What if I collapse? What will I do? Is it worth the risk? I receive no answer. It is been 6 months since you underwent the brain surgery. Are you sure you should be doing this? I receive no answer. I take the first step. Apprehension gets the better of me. Self doubt gets the best of me. I ran for 50 meters and I stopped gasping for breath. If I am cut out for this? I look at the sprawling Lalbagh Gardens in Bangalore and I ask myself again, if I am cut out for this? Am I going to survive? Yes, is the answer I receive. I take the first step.

April 2015 – Almost 2 years to go: Mom was around. I walked slowly but did a good job in hiding my anxiety and utter lack of confidence. Mom took me to the temple. It was all fine. Until I told her, I am feeling nauseated. I don’t recollect what happened next. I woke up sitting on a chair of a tender coconut vendor, just outside the temple. Mom told me I had passed out. I realized I had my entire pants wet as I was told “you lose control over your bladder when you lose your consciousness. Ek ke saath ek free.

April 2015 – Almost 2 years to go – It is a surgery related symptom. You had a major brain surgery and you will see symptoms of non-functioning motor parts in the beginning. I was seated against the doctor holding my right arm which was hanging there. I did not know if it will be ready for a new inning or forever remain a liability. I saw what it feels like to receive sympathy from your own. My wife fed me dinner as I could not use my right arm and I was never good with my left. That day I cried. I cried to my wife behind closed doors. I cried the entire night while she never let my hand go.

March 21st , 2015 6:30 am.

This is it. I was taken from my ward to the surgery room. There were plethora of emotions. But I stayed strong. I know it was not an easy battle. I was going to be operated to remove the unfriendly visitor. The tumor that was staying with me on by brain. It was not welcome. It was going to be a little less than 4 hours of surgery. Skull, a real piece of strong bone had to be cut. I was awake during the surgery and witnessed the entire thing live. That takes character. Doctors were supremely gifted but kind, the team was kind. They played my favorite music there from my playlist. Bhimsen Joshi was one of them. I was 40% awake and in senses. I saw them drill a hole in my head. It was happening. It just did.

Jan 15th 2017 -19kms – The Last Mile :

You have come a mighty long way my friend. From being at the surgery table two years back where your brain was your biggest enemy, and today where your own self is your best companion. You have done it. It is not about the pace, not about competition. It is about a purpose. When you run the last mile, it has to be for a new beginning. There is nothing called a Last mile. If it were, I would not be starting a new journey. There are so many kind souls I need to thank post this run. I realized how kind the world has been to me. By giving my family the strength to overcome, which they ably passed on to me. I owe them my life for it. I see the finish line. I think about the start line of the race and smile at how far I have come.

“Real courage is the ability to detach from past, look back at the start and realize how far you have come”.

I have survived the first mile.

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The walk

“First step is impossible, second step is anxiety, third step is comfortable, fourth step onward it is liberating”

The night had been an anxious one. I woke up early,  showing little discomfort caused by an erratic sleep. The behemoth task of starting ” Walking in the wee hours” was something I was looking forward to, albeit cautiously. It has been the idea of my friend “B” who constantly whispers ” Its the first step, that is difficult, second step you overcome anxiety, third step you become comfortable and then from fourth step onward you celebrate” or on those similar lines. The task had to be done, for my own sake and for my friend with whom I had a little rough ride over last year.The alarm went by as I was wearing my shoes. I hear the clutter. My friend is already at the gate, waiting.

The conversation ensues.

A: ….(With a simple nod acknowledging the presence of “B”)

B: (Buzzing as always I remember) ” Glad to see you, and good morning”. I am so glad you agreed to do this. I understand, I have been a little tough on you the last year. I hope these walks can mend our ways back

A: (Trying hard to hide my recalcitrant attitude) Yes, let us move on and I hope that throughout this walk you will be my guide and messiah. Its difficult to come to terms after what happened last year, but I am willing to give it a second chance. I have to admit, I am very anxious over this exercise thing but am giving it a shot. I think its worthy.

B: Oh sure do! You do realize, we have already done 300 meters. It is easier said than done, but I think we both should move on.

2 – 3 minutes would  have gone, before we spoke again.

A: Why did you do it?

I received no response, so I tried asking the question differently.

A: You realize what you did could have resulted in terrible disaster for both of us?

B: But it did not. Don’t you think there is a lesson there for both of us?

A: (Ignoring the rhetorical question) Lesson on how to survive or how to be cautious all the time?

B: We came out stronger, we both did. I got myself a tumor without my knowledge and was helpless. I could not communicate in the usual way by giving signs that I am so good at and that you expect from me. I admit, I panicked and that did not go well.

A: Yes, the moment you realize when we are part of the same matrix, it becomes easier to live with each other irrespective of our differences. The problem arises when we both vie to control each other. Who is the master? Who is really the master?

B:  Beautiful gardens, birds are free and chirpy, its a beautiful world out here in the early mornings. What a sight!

A: See, you are distracted. Are you listening?

B:Do you really want me to think about the weakest moment for both of us? Do you want me to take you through our bitter fight? The fight for survival?

A: No, I want your support to get this done with safe and sound.

B: Aye Captain.I agree. After all you are my body, and I am nothing but just the brain.

A: I am happy you acknowledge there is team work involved in survival. It is difficult when you are pit against your own brain and the first best friend you have  made and last one you would ever know. When you know your own brain is plotting against you without coming to terms its full intentions, it becomes a different paradigm of complexities.

B: I agree. It wasn’t easy on my part to put you through it given I control you and I knew I had trouble sewn all over myself. But you know I had to do this for us to communicate better. You are the best friend I have got for you are my body and I am nothing but just the brain. It is about being together and knowing each other what each of us desire. We are one in entirety, but unique in what we seek and what we desire. I could never convince you why I did what I did by growing a tumor on myself. It will always remain a mystery and I would be happy for it to remain locked and never to resurface. However, I have learnt that it is a world beyond our realms of imagination, my imagination lest yours. What do I seek? I still don’t have an answer. But I want to find out, and this is the ” First step” towards reclamation.

A: We are back home. We walked a good 20 minutes. I am glad we did this alone and together.

I looked back and it was no surprise that I saw no one. I had no one to bid good bye and wish a nice day to. I never had a company, but myself. All I had today, was my brain”B” to accompany me for my walk. I realized the conversation was with myself. Brain is the first and last best friend you will ever have or know. I just realized how ignorant I was of my own self and I still happen to be. Last year was  tough. But we both fought the surgery, we survived, we live with zeal and we took the first step towards a purposeful living. First step towards a healthy living. First step towards eradicating ignorance that blinds us on what we really mean to this world. First step towards being happy again.

I could not stop listening to the voice inside. My friend ” B ” was whispering again;

” First step is impossible, second step is anxiety, third step is comfortable, fourth step onward it is liberating”.

 

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If God were an Insurance agent

God is omnipresent and so have we heard. During my spiritual trip for a few days, exploring the inner most parts of South India, I found this to be true. Oh no, not the omnipresence, but the existence of an infrastructure in each of the villages I had visited. Temples indeed.  Each village had one, sometimes two, right at the epicenter. To set the context, in one of the rural setup, a hospital was 45 kms away by road, while the temple was just few yards from each house door. Priorities.

The objective of this post is to collectively explore if the temples can play a far more pivotal role in economic development of a rural setup in our country? And if so, can it be more than just offering faith and hope?  If God were an insurance agent, how would the world be?

Act of God: A legal parlance, deliberated in popular movies, by experts and of course a precursor in every single insurance document that determines the extent of protection of the incumbent from natural disasters. Now that we’ve established God to be part of the Insurance industry, legally, let us seek God’s advice here.

Customer behavior: I was present, long enough in each temple, to witness interesting patterns emerge. The visitors varied from peasants to land owners and the subsequent donations they handed out. Some gave coins, some gave notes and some cheques. All of them did so, with a hope of getting better from whatever peril they ail from, god bless them. The thought fascinates me that they feel invested in a temple and believe the almighty will protect them. For some lowly peasant who had donated, it would have to be after a difficult choice. Foregoing a daily tea, or a biscuit for their child to invest in that temple.

“How can we make this investment on intangible called hope to a tangible one called returns”? Our hypothesis statement.

Micro finance: Let us put in perspective. Temples and banks are no different. For the naysayers, are they really? Banks collect cash. Banks lend money to ones who are able to repay. Banks employ. I leave the derivation to you. I believe that temples can play a role in massively increasing the portfolio of microfinance. Temples have an assurance about them that enable people in the ecosystem to visit, invest and feel secure that they have done the right thing. Imagine a bank wanting to set up a rural center. The arduous task of process, drain in finances and most importantly establishing the trust from the people in the ecosystem. Government by means of regulation and incentives have pushed players to set up rural banks, but do not talk anything about, existing infrastructure to be people’s friends. May be governments have limited purview and are tied.

Can’t temples be a torchbearer themselves of micro financing thereby enabling people to help each other out? The stigma of non-repayment barring entry to the temple and its functions are a far greater stimuli to repay the dues compared to a loan provided by a bank. Temples have a sense of respect and brand, I see valid reason for it to continue the noble pursuit of helping needy mass.

Protection: I talked to strangers in random. People prayed for various reasons but protection was prime factor. Protection from illness, protection of their family members who are suffering. For some elderly, it was just that they had lost hope in the world and protection from suffering that they foresee was all they prayed for. All of them invest with an unwavering faith that the perils will only be cured. There is an aura of optimism when they donate. The tingling sound a coin makes when it reaches the bottom of a pot brings about a queer smile on their faces. If I were to ask them have they have taken a health insurance policy, of why have they have not, it might raise eyebrows and I would be an instant villain. An urban babu trying to make money of poor is not someone I wanted to come off as. But my imagination suggests that if the temple dawns of a role of a protection counsellor, the possibilities are seamless.  Protection precedent is also set, where in every temple has a cloth full of essential grains tied atop its structure (Kalasam) in case disaster strikes (An act of god).

However in helping the needy, during the time of their health concerns, the temple oozes goodwill and nobility to be the front runner to lend a helping hand. An amount as a lumpsum to the family to recover and cover for productivity loss owing to ill health, is not a bad start. The temples too have much to gain by this simple gesture. Healthier families are more likely to keep visiting the temple, with enhanced beliefs and thus benefitting the temple in tangible and intangible ways. What would it take for us to activate this positive reinforcement?

Some temples are true to their might and are actively involved in developing the eco system they are part of. Education for children, meals for the poor, spiritual development etc. Being at pole position to bring about a positive change in people’s lives, I just expect they change tad bit faster with the times. A free meal can be a good helping hand to the poor, but it still does not solve the problem of self-flagellation they endure on the poor. It leads nowhere in inculcating a culture of self-respect in the poor and needy. It just pains me to see the places of worship are entangled in unnecessary and dubious debates around who can enter and who can worship rather than realizing the power the temples possess in enabling change.

Temples are directly linked to economics. I quote the invisible hand, that the need of the market will bring about equilibrium. I have not seen a God, but neither have I seen an invisible hand. A temple to its true noble cause, can do wonders. After all that is what we all hope for when we visit a temple. Wonders and miracles.

I believe god was meant to be a protective force. It is only logical inference to derive, if god were to be an insurance agent, he would be mighty good at it and we all shall wake up to a better and hopeful world tomorrow.

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The old grandpa saying“ I told you so”: The inevitable emergence of Trade unions in Indian IT industry

History is a fascinating science fiction filled with pockets of wisdom from thought provokers and academicians, which come true eventually. History, like an old grandfather has a pedantic nature to it. A grandfather, who is not taken seriously till calamity strikes and then he has the last laugh with “ I told you so”. Take for example, The Great depression, cycle of capitalism- socialism returns- capitalism with vengeance, the industrial revolution are all filled with wisdom. Industrial revolution led to large-scale labor reforms, which currently is the pillar of any industry (don’t ask the capitalist for they are sure to have different view points). Take the example of any industry recognizing unions, enforce management principles to ensure proper working environment and instill security and mandate employee’s behaviors. We have heard the quote far too often “ People are our assets”. The same rhyme is echoed when IT industry leaders speak out on different forums.

But in retrospect there is one industry that has been elusive of recognizing the fundamental right of employees to form unions. They even detest the practice and have become a strong cartel to fight against with superficial success to its credit. It is the famed “ IT Industry” in India. We ought to think being the beacon of an industry beating all the macro economic metrics such as “ GDP contribution, foreign currency contribution, and labor skilling & employment “etc. it is contributing beyond the realms of our imagination and spreading development. Partially true but thus arises a real cause of concern, that it might be a farce. I list three main reasons why IT industry cannot ignore emergence of trade unions.

Real wage inequality: A senior leader of Human Resource in one of the top IT companies in India proudly proclaimed to a group of International HR’s that “ For the past 8 years, we have not increased our campus salary offerings and people are still ready to join”. He is right. None of the companies have done any major alteration to the wages they offer to fresh engineering graduates. In economic sense this reads as “Fall in income”. Once we factor 8 years of inflation, the real wage has gone southwards. However the incentive scheme for the leadership tells a different tale. With more success on operational efficiencies (which are at best myopic) such as outsourcing, contracting etc. and most of the times, dependent on exchange rates, the incentives handed over to the top leadership of the IT companies are growing at an exorbitant rate. The difference in monthly salary (excluding stocks and perks) between a senior employee of a business unit vs that of a new comers was circa 40:1 in 2008. Today it hovers around 75:1. The same period coincides with high currency exchange rates. There is prevailing inequality that is expanding within an organization.

Automation and digitization: When the first spinning wheel machine was introduced it was the foundation stone for what would be a long lasting struggle towards labor reforms. The future of work will be disrupted with artificial intelligence and Internet of things. It is frequent to have tweet chats and discussions on social media by prominent HR’s to determine the impact of “Future of work” . The impact of automation has already showed significant damage to trust levels with schemes of layoffs and increasing work hours to name a few. The top IT companies have both “ in discreet and in public” held massive elimination of existing jobs without proper outplacement services. I have unfortunately been part of one such brutal exercise in 2008. The interconnected world for free movement of capital but not of people does no good to the industry labor in anyway either. The pressure to contain costs to compete at global level all adds to the impending chaos. Now add the anxiety and fear to the falling wage and you will see the birth of a complex metabolism.

Obsession on process over people: “People are our most important asset” & “ People costs are single most significant costs”. Other than being said by the same IT leader, those are in fact counter-intuitive. With increasing pressures to deliver returns to shareholders at unsustainable (net after enjoying tax breaks) margins of 20% above, the only innovative thing is to tingle with bottom lines. Layoffs, benefits withdrawal, performance management systems designed to fail, incentives scheme that is a race to the bottom and obsession placed to increase productivity trying to get more from less. Imagine, an employee getting an email for not maintaining enough hours at a work desk? Futuristic? No it’s a thing of past in the industry. There is no debate that people costs form over 55% of overall costs, but 100% of revenues are from the very same people in a service industry. Assets do come at certain costs that are inevitable.

I can understand the argument that the top management throws, because we are fed with brutal negative perceptions of trade unions. Strikes, lockdowns and constant fight to get better wages are some aspects what comes through when we mention “Union”. However, IT industry is far too smarter to fall into this trap of perceptions and is better off by providing their employees rights to form their unions. The talents that they employ are set of “Next generation” and have social media as their armor with which they can inflict damage beyond comparison at a push of a button.

Can government do something? Indeed we do have a government body in Nasscom, however its true identity is best explained by a quote by father of modern economics, Adam Smith“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices…. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less to render them necessary”.

The role of government must be a mediator to mobilize the formation of unions.. First is to fasten labor reforms. Our labor laws are at best archaic. IT industry falls under the ambit of “Shops and Establishments Act”. A statute that does not even have specification to provide seating arrangements for its employees needs no further clamor to reach for the refresh button. Government provides for massive tax breaks to the export dependent organizations that have been in place for a long time but the efficiencies are just getting accumulated at the top. Trade unions actually will help the IT industry by ensuring productivity improvements without the heavy investments in process driven systems designed to malfunction. It won’t be easy to mobilize any body and it certainly can’t be the trade unions that we have witnessed so far. It will be inherently radical due to its composition and skills of its members and built on foundations such as investment on people, their rights to fight layoffs and other arbitrary schemes of management and the basic job of ensuring employee safety and security. Government should also have better anti competitive practices to check for collusions amongst players. Haven’t we seen an announcement by a company “ There will be no hikes this year” and all other companies following suit?

To conclude, IT industry has been a backbone of our economy and has played a pivotal role in fulfilling our talent potential. It has changed the perception of the whole world towards India from an agricultural economy to knowledge one. It is thus imperative that to run the marathon, we need people with extraordinary skills and training to form the industry’s lungs. The only way to go about is giving them the freedom to fight for their own rights. Productivity gains will only increase with centralized organizations rather than investing on creative design for process that yield the same results. IT employees the second largest unorganized labor force after daily wage earners in the country. The shareholders and their pawns might have justified reasons for not recognizing unions and they might even win the battle. But is that enough to win the war? I doubt so. I will leave you with a thought of Karl Marx. “ History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”.

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A Divided, DIVIDEND: Whose the Slave and whose the Master ?

The only difference  between a Master and a Slave is that they are and cannot be the same.

So now that we have established the boundaries about Master-Slave, lets go about figuring out the erroneous principle of Employee Stock options that “window dresses” the slave to be a potential Owner. ESOP’s, performance based equity, tenure based stock are few names that exist in the vocabulary. The internet is a good tool to find innumerable articles about the efficacy, sustainability and shareholder value maximisation, stock option for employees tries to achieve by tying its top executives. We might debate against or for it, but doesn’t dividend paid out to this set of quasi owners, artificially boost the value of the company?
There might be compelling reasons to believe so it does.

Dividend is not Salary: So basic accounting thumb rule suggests, salary is deducted as cost to arrive at an EBIT. Dividend however pans after all the arrangements with governments via taxes, depreciation and debt. Net income is important for Free cash flow projections of the firm. So imagine lesser equity, as no additional stocks have been issued to employees and a simple bonus is paid out for them. Net income as you may see goes down.
The amount that the Executives will receive as part of dividend announcement shall be just as good as a bonus. However exists one small difference that it is not considered a “cost”.  Value Boost well and truly witnessed

Bonus and Dividend: I completely fathom the impact of stock options and their extrinsic motivation in ensuring the executives work towards better shareholder value. Won’t the bonus cut it ? Well empirical evidence, I believe, suggests they don’t. But an yearly dividend from the stocks owned. How better are they than Bonus in reality ? Considering the tax implications on the employee’s aren’t they better off receiving cash instead ? Moreover as an employee having liquid cash is always preferable as you may ask any rational investor.

Are both the owners one and the same?: Well some invest money at a considerable cost of equity and the others, namely the employees with options, invest sweat. Comparable parameter indeed. But it gets murkier when you consider that the employees have better information than the investors. Whole principal of “Risk” to calculate cost of capital is questionable here give both are investing with completely different facts at their disposal. I love financial engineering for this part only. It is a tool used for the benefit of the organisation. Can a simple shareholder with 100 shares come and work for the company ? Try that out..

Well I would like to work and accumulate more data to validate this set of hypothesis. I am looking forward for someone to correct me if this is absolutely stupid. Would this change the whole investment world ? Of course not. Will this even matter in the near future, probably not. Why do it at all then ? Well in some organisation, employee stock options are even unto 7% of the total equity. I might be ill informed about the treatment of employee stock options and dividends they get, but little research and studies I carried out suggested otherwise.

It is just that I had a thought, and then I asked myself. What would I prefer if i were a top executive? Dividend or a Bonus ? Bonus, especially the freedom liquid cash gives me to choose where to invest my hard earned money. Well if I invest in my own company it is evident enough that I am doing something right for the true owners.

Unfortunately, Insider trading, I am told is frowned upon.

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Mediocre But Arrogant – The New MBA

The title is of a book by Abhijit Bhaduri. How apt is it to my present world!! Oh my!!

My walk to my school is exactly 7 minutes. Including my wait in signals admiring the sumptuous architecture of our building called 11. In these 7 minutes, the everyday battle is the resulting disconnect with the world. I would rather walk at a leisurely pace but the sooner I reach, the earlier I connect back to the world to solve world’s problems. Internet, ah how can I live without you. So if this was an Operations Management exercise can you identify where the bottleneck is?

The introduction sessions in my Business school seems ages ago though 5 months afresh. Those days, struggling to get used to a capital city lifestyle. Morbid evenings, being far away from family. Mood at best Somber with doubts over my own decisions and of course the intriguing excitement of a new chapter to begin. Things started looking up fast. One key session to quote from those days was on “ Roman Aqueducts” . The beauty of the session was twofold, one being “ Innovative thinking” and the other being how people with no wifi-internet could pull off something staggeringly beautiful yet so useful. If this was a strategy class can you answer if it gave competitive advantage to Romans or being straightforward why on earth did they build it?

It is heartening the donations flowing in to encourage R&D in medical field. Each investment will ensure society is healthier and mankind survives varied apocalypse both manmade and natural to pass on its fables. But are we responsible for the monetary part of it though? Where are the Pfizers and Novartis of the world. A look at their financial statements and their worth together is bigger than all our donations put together surely. So should we, the enlightened masses, bring to light, areas, in dire need of investments, such as child education, sanitation etc? For education is the pillar of societal development and had most of the third world population been educated, we would surely have figured out cures for all that ails mankind today such as War, poverty, religion? If this was a financial investment, class, which project “personally and financially” gives you better return on investment? Net present value always wins.

The centuries old scribblings that are inscribed on caves, walls are no contention to today’s print and digital ads. However, they say a tale. They tell story of how ingenious mankind has always been. Evolving from one crisis to the other, innovating to survive. Rome was not built in a day, but boy are we curious to fragment this brilliant civilisation. There have been many civilisations before and after, but Rome fascinates every single child from all corners of the world, assuming they have the privilege called education in most of these parts. The audacity of its architecture of aqueducts, the use of Nature to supply water to innermost regions of the world all tells a fabulous story. The essence in ensuring civilisations prosper not only in cities but also towns, needs mention. Sanitation, agriculture, industrial area thrived and today we are here, probably to the brilliance of Romans or probably someone else, but lets put it this way, Mankind. This was their marketing plan to the world to brand themselves as the torch bearers of civilisation. So, Assuming the primitive Roman, with his raw skills to understand nature like we can’t, was to walk this earth now and witness our “Ice Bucket Challenge”, what shall be his reaction? Once he watches the ice bucket challenge videos in coming years, would we have branded our generation in the light we would have wanted to, as an epitome of intellect? Marketing assignment maybe?

In a nutshell, I am not against fun. Fun is essence of life and in the present generation sharing happiness exponentially increases happiness be it physical or virtual. However, Privilege has a non-negotiable burden called taking for granted. Water is precious, like Wifi for us in the campus. For some its a privilege granted, for most its not.  Coming from an emerging country, where rivers are goddess and the goddess are dirty, this resource exploitation is despicable. Water, unused can’t be given to people elsewhere, agreed but the point is not giving it to people in need. It is not a tradeoff. The point is to use this privilege that a very few get, in a responsible manner. Wars during Roman civilisation were fought for land, the future wars will be for water. Who wins this war? Why ice water and not an Oil Bucket challenge ? Insipid Arrogance.

I leave you with one last weekend assignment. Imagine you walk into the campus one fine day, only to find the water supply is out and the WIFI as well. Which would be more irritating ? The fact to find no water to wash your hand, or the inability to share this gruesome apathy on social media ? Either way, the answer for my first question on bottleneck is Mediocrity. Mediocrity that mankind has achieved with evolution. The other assignments, we can figure out together.

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No Objection from a Doting Husband

A fundamental right an individual has in his armoury is to choose where he travels. Is this the same if the individual is married ? Ok, more importantly, married and be a woman ?

So, When my wife went to submit her documents to procure the elite Schengen visa, she was asked to provide the most important document, that was missing from her impressive repertoire of documents. 6 year’s payslip, Income Tax records, Employer reference and her own Individual Bank statement were apparently not enough. The elusive document to be provided was, something, to remind her, that she is first a dutiful wife. To remind her, that she is not a dignified woman to be travelling abroad,  by herself. A reminder that she has foregone her rights, the day she got married or probably born. To remind her, that she is just a “Woman”.

The document in contention was, a No objection certificate from her husband. So if this is required I decided to provide a No objection Certificate anyway. After all, It was in my control.

Here it goes!

To

VFS Global Services

Subject: No Objection Certificate from an Indian Husband

Dear Sir ( Not Madam ),

I, a citizen of India, want to thank you for bloating my male chauvinist ego by handing me an opportunity to give a No Objection Certificate Letter for my wife.

I here by, have no objection in her being more educated, intelligent and successful than I am. I have no objection, that she is the bread earner of our family and provides for me by working as hard as any man could fathom. I have no objection, in admitting that, as a woman, she pays her taxes and contributes to run the economy and in someway contribute to your income.

I also have no objection in her deciding to travel to any part of the world, with her own income. I have no objection because, by doing so, she will assimilate new experiences, explore better cultures, and probably set right, the stereotypical image India has achieved abroad on how it treats its women. I have no objection that she will be a matter of pride for this nation. A nation that has fallen so steep in world’s eyes, that she will be looked upon as a miracle to have survived in India. I indeed have no objection, in admitting, that she will be free and breath fresh air of Summer, wearing the attire that she wants, without prejudiced or megalomaniac men with brains in balls, staring at her bare legs.

I indeed have no objection, that by providing this letter, if you decide to grant her a visa she will travel abroad, feel sorry for herself, having been born in our country, and especially as a woman. I have no objection, that she will ensure her niece & daughter, will be taught a very different and broad view of the world, which will not be constrained to think as a sex starved man would do. I have no objection, in me being able to miss her during her trip, to understand, what it really means to be an independent woman in our modern country.

In the end, I have no objection, if she treats you with disrespect, or animosity. I will also have no objection if she decides to pursue a claim of discrimination of having requested this letter in the first place. I will for sure have no objection, if she punches you on your face.

I will have no objection, when the next time you see a married woman, especially your wife and mother, you choke with shame and apologise for being a pompous chauvinist.

I have no objection in saying, we are a long way away from being a Nation.

Yours powerless MALE Citizen

Anujan Krishnamoorthy,

Jai Hind

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