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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Books Read in 2012

Life begins at the end of our comfort zone. Enjoy 2013. I will say goodbye to 2012 with an appeal of common honesty and decency. "Don't just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it." Jim Rohn had captured essence of reading long ago with this lucid statement. We choose for ourselves the sort of literature we want.

Yet, this year was spent in going through easy books. Absence of books related to concept of business strategy and marketing may be counter of prevailing norms of reading list of a MBA student. I still want to read the forgotten matters of culture and society. Reading Economic Times has already made my vision one dimensional in nature. The reading list is getting skewed in favor of English language is not an healthy sign. Is the gradual exit of mother tongue from our reading materials a rational choice? It will be immense loss of mine command over both languages and misunderstood social acceptance that discourages free thought.

I want literature to be full of engagement, entertainment and even enlightenment. That is the joy of reading. Only few authors have tenacity to present complex issues in the most subtle manner and verbalize our angst that dissect through our souls and stirs our social conscience. Yes, I am starting to believe in Osho's Hypothesis that 'if consciousness changes, then certainly the social structure will change, because the social structure is just a projection of man's mind.' But how this consciousness can be even touched? I got this answer in a quote by Irwin Edman : It is myth, not a mandate; fable, not a logic; and symbol, rather than a reason, by which men are moved. That was profound discovery of the irrational side of human behaviour. Still can't leave rationality for the sake of emotions. It works well for survival purpose of human being. I am not a spiritual communist like Osho but find the hypothesis quite true.

Reading is not a time limited activity and text can't be seen as one dimensional lines. The meaning between words need to be understood through random and one must try repeated readings in different phases of life. There is need to add more of witness literature in reading list and also required an instrument to gauge health and progress of the reading habit.

The Kaoboys of RAW : Down Memory Lane by B. Raman - English - 7.5/10

Hoshruba: The Land And The Tilism by Musharraf Farooqi - English - 7/10

Unbearable Lightness of beingby Milan Kundera - English - 8.5/10

Games Indians Play: Why We Are the Way We Are by V Raghunathan - English - 8/10

The Prophet, The Wanderer, Sand & Foam, The Forerunner by Kahlil Gibran - English - 8.5/10

Snow by Orhan Pamuk - English - 9/10

Dreams from My Father (A Story of Race and Inheritance) by Barack Obama - English - 8/10

1000 Films to Change Your Life - Time Out Guides Ltd (Author) - The short interviews of the people involved in film-making to the opinion of various critics make this book one time readable. - English - 8/10

The Room On The Roof, Vagrants In The Valley by Ruskin Bond - English - 6.5/10

The Temple Tiger and more Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett - English - 7/10

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins - English - 7/10

Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing by Osho - English - 8/10

Breakout Nations by Ruchir Sharma - English - 7.5/10

Kyozan: A True Man of Zen by Osho - English - 7/10

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Get the picture without the photo

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. ~Aldous Huxley.

The reality of India depends on where you stand, what you seek and how you choose to live. I went to Kolkata for two days with Gaurish in Durga Puja festival. This travel tour was a way forward to learn about diverse cultures as I know very little about my own country. And, yes this was welcome break from avalanche of bullshit mountain of patriotism on the virtual word of facebook. This travel tour was a chance to enjoy a festive season with Bengali people.

With arrival in Kolkata, I was caught in the race of hundred of people looking for exit at railway station. Watching the city for the first time was like reading through the pages of history with one's own eyes. The city was dipped in colors of Puja festival and I was trying to figure out the spirit of the Kolkata as few call this as city of joy. And yes, everything was either appearing either holy or historical.

While traveling around Kolkatta I saw many people of the different strata in the crowd. There was an urge to take blessings from deity but a sense of joy was on their face. For one night, it was not important whether they earn little or more, have a stomach full of food or not, it takes just plain devotion and faith to smile despite severe odds....

I am a non believer in a true sense. FYI, being an atheist is not an issue in India. An infidel like me can flourish in the social space only if I don't raise voices against caste discrimination and sexual inequality. In my many years of existence, I had learnt not to take anything from anybody and criticize unless one can give something better in its place.

I was amazed by creativity of the artisans who have designed Pooja Pandals. Innovators and Designers are not celebrated in India. There is no lack of quality and competition but general Indian psyche respect power more than creativity. May be its the prejudice of the mediocre nation who could neither understand nor respect the great flights of innovative individuals and intelligence of few. What I like was that celebration were not loud as few have consciously chosen substance over style and it was also reflected in the absence of any over-the-top band baja music.

Roaming around city in the night on foot shows different face of Kolkata. It was quiet but not peaceful. There were so many poor, cripples, migrant labours and destitute on the road that it shatters the myth of incredible/ rising/ shining India. These people might will disappear as will I, it all matters nothing, life goes on meaninglessly. Pity is what you feel for those for whom there is no hope. What pity leads to is becoming insulated from poor, even closing the eyes, and trying to make the end as easy and comfortable as possible. In the face of extreme poverty only, a person choose the path of crime in India. Otherwise, I believe India to be a very silent and non violent country amid such repressive social and economic order.

There is too much pressure on us of hoarding degrees, internships and job experiences in the early stages of career. With gathering experiences by travels and meeting different people, one gain insights of numerous aspects of life. Eventually through these type of travelogues, I want to see through unintelligible chaos of life and refine them in a simpler manner to the next generations as legacy. I traveled without camera to get the picture without the photo. The overall effect without any camera is a montage of memories that sparks flashes of warmth and subtle smiles. These tours are only prelude for setting out for a long nomadic existence called life.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rule of the Road - Break out Nations

1)Watch the changes in the list of top billionaires, learn how they made their billions, and note how many billions they made. This information provides a quick bellwether for balance of growth, across income class and industries. A country that produces too many billionaires, relative to its size, is in all likelihood off-balance.

2) Strong companies and stock markets should - but should not necessarily - make for strong economies, so don't confuse the two. The clearest examples are countries dominated by oligopolies, like Mexico, SA and to some extent Philippines.

3) Watch for steady momentum behind economic and political reform, particularly in good times. Nations typically implement reforms when their backs are against the wall.

4) Check the size and growth of the second city, compared to the first city. In any big country the second largest city usually has a population that is to 1/3rd to 1/2 of the biggest city.

5) Watch the locals , they are always first to know; they will be bringing money to a breakout nation and fleeing one in trouble.

6) The sight of local companies going global is often celebrated in headlines as a national success, but more accurate interpretation depends on the circumstances. Going global can be sign of corporate strength or of national weakness.

7) Don't get hung up on the rules.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Key Learnings from Breakout Nations

All Thanks to Ruchir Sharma for his splendid book : Breakout Nations.

1) The old rule of forecasting was to make as many forecasts as possible and publicize the ones you got right. The new rule is to forecast so far into the future that no one will know that you got it wrong.

2) Goodhart's Law (Coined by former Bank of England, adviser Charles Goodhart) : Once an economic indicator get too popular, it loses its predictive value.

3) It is said that it takes money to make money, but for nations to grow rapidly it is much easier to be poor - the poorer, the better.

4) Typically it is difficult for any nation to expand the manufacturing share of its labor force much beyond 20 % , and China is already at around 23%.

5) "Low context", in contrast describes societies like United States and Germany in which people are individual oriented, care about privacy and more likely to stick to timelines and their word. Both India and Brazil are "high-context" societies, a term popularized by the anthropologist Edward Hall. It describes cultures in which people are colorful, noisy, quick to make promises that cannot always be relied on, and a bit too casual about meeting times and deadlines. These societies also tend to be particularly family-oriented, with tight relationships even beyond the immediate family, based on close ties that are built over long periods of time. In an environment this familiar, there is a lot that goes unsaid — or is said very briefly — because values are deeply shared. By the same token, much is implicitly understood from context. The spoken word is often flowery and vague. Apologies are long and formal. In that regard, Indians and Brazilians are a lot more like Italians than, say, Germans.

6) There are three layers of life in India : the increasingly cosmopolitan cities, the faceless towns and often the desperate villages.

7) Demographers traditionally expected customers to start asking for non essential "aspirational" goods like deodorant and hair conditioner only after they entered middle class.

8) The commodity windfall is fun while it lasts, but it also carries seeds of its own destruction

9) They say money talks and wealth whispers but in Moscow wealth dances on the bar.

10) A rich country need to make rich things to keep growing.

11) In the 1980s the late Vaclav Havel, at that time only dissident Czech writer, put the call to counter revolution well; he wrote that people living under Communism yearned for a normal life, free from communist call of 'permanent revolution', the unceasing efforts to turn themselves into model socialists.

12) Local authorities will start competing for growing pot of investment dollar by lowering prices of bribes and tips. Since the bribes collected locally are spent locally, the decentralization of corruption tilts the upside of even ill gotten gains away from Jakarta.

13) When everyone's a victim, its wonder anyone ever had the confidence to invest in the economy.

14) The basic idea that rich foreigners are always first to run in crisis is widely accepted. The truth is that the first to flee are most often the well positioned insiders.

15) To take the pulse of the global economy, look in Seoul. The numbers are fast, accurate and reliable.

16) At a certain point, when an apparently unconventional approach is working, you have to rethink the conventions, not the approach.

17) The Korean experience backs up the argument that the strongest corporate model is family owned but publicly traded and professionally managed. The family gives the company an inherent focus on the long run, while selling stock on the open market forces the family to keep the books clean, to put experts in charge of day to day operations , and to keep the loopy cousins out of the corner offices.

18) Some times it appear that South Korea has cultural blindness to the value of the services.

19) At zero on Gini scale everyone has same income, and and at 1, just one has all the income.

20) But moderation while preferable to chaos, is no longer in the post crisis global environment of less easy money and tougher competition.

21) Most workers in the informal sector have learned to live with what they have, and learned to live with quite little.

22) The arbitrary management of arbitrary rules is hardly the main risk in the fourth world frontier.

23) Markets are especially bad at foreseeing the financial implication of the war and hey are also weak at recognizing the benefits of peace.

24) The future must be decided based on what works, not on the ideological debates that retarded SriLanka's growth for so long.

25) Political systems don't impact growth for better or worse; political leaders do.

26) Even a small dose of market logic can produce dramatic results in a backward communist state.

27) A general rule for spotting credit bubbles is that if bank lending expands by more than 20 percent a year for five straight years.

28) Sometimes just modest reform or the arrival of a dynamic new leader can unleash growth, particularly in the frontier market.

29) The later a nation develops, the more opportunity it has to learn from nations that came before, and to leapfrog entire development steps in the process.

30 )Saying anything outrageous is considered a badge of merit among leaders on the frontier market.

31) The first rule for a successful oil state is :"Thou shalt not steal."

32) No bubble is a good bubble, all leave some level of misery in their wakes.

33) Cheap money policies also tend to fuel what the research firm GaveKal Dragonomics has aptly called "the worst kind of bubbles", because zero interest rates encourage investors to pile into assets that are priced on scarcity (gold, fine wines, collectibles, trophy properties), not on productivity (tech, machine tools, ships). When bubble pops the capital is simply destroyed and society is left with no more gold diamonds or fine wines than when it started. Atleast the tech bubble helped wire the world and left behind a whole new range of Internet tools and services, which have grown more valuable since.

34) The author George Goodman , best known by his pseudonym, Adam Smith, captured the closing moments of all manias perfectly in his book The Money Game, written at the height of a market boom in 1967 : "We are at a wonderful party, and by rules of game we know that at some point in time the Black Horsemen will burst through the great terrace doors to cut down the revelers; those who leave early may be saved , but the music and wines are so seductive that we do not want to leave, but we do ask, 'What time is it? What time is it?' Only none of the clocks have any hands.

35) George Orwell once observed, “Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Development in a Trimester of rural management - 4

An IRMA Prof. Arunathan always ask a very profound question on poor and rural managers : “Why we are here and why they are there?” There must a greater emphasis on individuality and questioning the status quo in very academic program. Continuing from the 3rd part of the Development series in RM , I will move towards the 4th part of the learning in the field of Rural Management. Here in 10 points what I learnt in last 3 months:

1 - RM student could barely handle the stress when the pile of assignments came to them. They devolve from sensible students to the frenzy morons looking for their grades.

2 - The exposure to the American just do-it culture can produce entrepreneurs rather than a MBA degree. MBA is only as mandatory prestige tag for sure success in industry.

3 - Everything that we do, revolves around the singular concept of landing up with a great job. And the fact is no matter what we do, we will end up with a decent enough job in a corporate environment.

4 - Marketing is not expensive, merely frightening. The best way to learn marketing is to do marketing. It require talked to people of different temperaments at their mental level.

5 - When bulls fight, crops suffer. Such is the politics of professors and college administration.

6 - Donor mentality in reconstructing lives of poor can have a loophole that poor may become accustomed to depending on foreign aid.

7 - Business is not a science that can be learnt from textbook but it can be absorbed a little a time and learning process can go on infinitely. The encounters with men/women of different attitudes and bargaining power provides one an insight of the crux of the business. And same holds true for tracking companies and market with much more complex business ecosystem around them.

8 - Today our villages are languishing due to the lack of – political will, availability of resources and most importantly abject neglect by the intellectual capital of the country. In words of Arvind Kejriwal: All the government schemes are made in Delhi where one Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a non-elected representative, makes schemes and allots Rs 30,000 crore to implement them across the villages of the country. The needs of each village are different from the other.

9 - When a society boast about how glorious they have been in the past, it is an open indication of how defensive they are currently in their mindset. Such is the scenario of Indian society. And only exposure to real-life data helps students of this society in being better prepared in their professional careers.

10 - To be poor is to be denied the opportunity to participate in social, economic, and cultural transactions. Poverty is not created and recreated in a social vacuum; it is produced and reproduced through practices that are both relational and unequal. Lack of tenurial security and lack of appropriate development inputs are among the reasons why Naxalism has spread so much in the country.

There is a great anecdote by Prof Arunn that must be embraced for life - During my Ph. D. days a decade back, I met in a conference, one of the original thinker and top performers in my domain of research (heat transfer); over a bar conversation, I was about to excitedly explain an idea that I 'planned to work' and he gently patted me to silence in mid-breath; Arunn, don't tell me what you 'plan to work', work; and publish; and I will know what you did. That response (from a 'gentle giant' with more than 600 papers and 10 books and one of the 100 highly cited authors in mechanical engineering) was a 'slap of advice' that is indelible. It helps now and then to keep oneself busy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Poetry of Protest - 3

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. - Thomas Jefferson

Continuing from the series of Poetry of Protest Part 1 and Part 2, we are looking more in the power of protest. Protest is a sign of repression to overlook voice of love, reason and critical criticism. Looking for the identity, dignity, autonomy and culture in current scenario across globe, the inertia of the tradition can only be resisted by individuals of great integrity and confidence. Out of disobedience one starts being an individual.

We live in a arbit society where pregnancies, marriages and divorces of D-type celebrities became the national news but there comes a threshold where the public's right to be informed on the matters like naxalism and corruption takes back seats.With the loss of confidence, the capacity of outrage goes. We are living in the ages where even speaking against Sachin Tandulkar, Shivaji Maharaja and Dr. Ambedkar is considered sin leave aside deemed demigods. The one sided movement of striking a balance between freedom of speech and respecting cultural sensitivities has been a waste effort. History of liberty has preceded repressive culture and will survive them.

Most well-meaning citizens are alienated from the horrible plight of the exploitation, displacement and dispossession region. Even our outraged is selective as eloquently put by Shivam Vij - The Muslims are outraged by Satanic Verses and the Hindus by MF Husain's paintings and the Dalits by an Ambedkar cartoon and in each case we end up with censorship rather than freedom. We choose whose freedom we want to support. We are selective in our support and in our outrage.

How much of our past must we abandon? How much of present is worth carrying forward ? And where is our golden age lying.. in the past or in future.. surely not present with its complex realities. Not everyone can theoretically understand the complex reality but few has undeniable ability to put this in lyrics. To be logical is never meant to be right. That is why we all love poetry as this is full of emotion even playing with words for this. Only poets can write with an invisible, polite, but absolute aura that appeal to our irrational mind. Spirit of poets transcends the fabric of time, spreads through their best and worst times of the civilization. And they will always present to create an unanswerable dilemma for the powerful elders of a community. What people cannot ask and talk with each other, they will google secretly. They will inquire into the origins of power with an audacity of hope.

No repressed individual can be creative. I may sound radical but Pussy Riot's punk prayer or the rap of Afro-American is sign of pure protest poetry against their social and political regime. Even the time of bollywood's pop patriotism is gone with upcoming of new generation. We will track down every bit of words written by Gorakh Pandey, Baba Nagarjun, Muktibodh, Gaddar, Nirala and Dhoomil against our state because great literature rarely goes into oblivion.

1- Poets of Protest : This series delves into the soul of the Middle East with intimate profiles of poets who seek to interpret and inspire.

2- The poetry of revolution : Tunisia's uprisings were started neither by political action nor a military coup, but by a regime of banners and chants.

3- Only people who are very intelligent and very unhappy can write good poems. Poet's ability to shut off their part of the mind even while the world is in turn-moil. This mean that poet had no more connection with the present. The poet seek solace with in the past or future like a ghost.Such a heavy price for a piece of art. Only the purest poet like dervish allow poems in their heart at the time of their revolution. - Orhan Pamuk through Poet 'KA' in Snow.

Sometimes, I crib too much and behave like cynic. Yet, somehow I always feel inside that a voice of protest is more essential than being indifferent and ignorant to the whole scenario. Thanks to Annie Zaidi for quoting a great anecdote supporting my gut feeling from an article written by one of my favorite journalist Johann Hari :  "In 1966, the specialists at the Pentagon went to US President Lyndon Johnson – a thug prone to threatening to “crush” entire elected governments – with a plan to end the Vietnam War: nuke the country. They “proved”, using their computer modeling, that a nuclear attack would “save lives.” It was a plan that might well have appealed to him. But Johnson pointed out the window, towards the hoardes of protesters, and said: “I have one more problem for your computer. Will you feed into it how long it will take 500,000 angry Americans to climb the White House wall out there and lynch their President?” He knew that there would be a cost – in protest and democratic revolt – that made that cruelty too great. In 1970, the same plan was presented to Richard Nixon – and we now know from the declassified documents that the biggest protests ever against the war made him decide he couldn't do it. Those protesters went home from those protests believing they had failed – but they had succeeded in preventing a nuclear war. They thought they were impotent, just as so many of us do – but they really had power beyond their dreams to stop a nightmare."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Attention Deficiency

Attention span refers to the amount of time we can focus on a task before we start to "zone out". Due to boom of the social media, the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to a staggeringly short 5 minutes. People’s attention spans are much shorter now as their interests have moved on to sports, technology and fashion. The attitude of our younger generation has changed so rapidly with the introduction of Twitter and Facebook. Even then social media can't be blamed entirely as knowledge accumulates to people who read Wikipedia on screen that to those who mush their brains with Twilight on paper.

“According to UNESCO, the biggest single indicator of whether a child is going to thrive at school and in work is whether or not they read for pleasure.” Growing numbers of children are being turned off books by the end of primary school because of the influence of the internet and lack of reading in the home, according to research. I don't vouch for the American children but I am personally having a lot of problem in concentrating. Usage of Internet and unorganized lifestyle can be attributed as one of the reason to this. May be I have Attention deficit disorder in low amount.

Paying attention, for long periods of time, is a form of endurance athleticism. And I am losing the ability to focus on a particular task for long periods of time. I can't even watch 2 hours movie in one seating due to anxiety and lack of concentration. So this is worse state of a self declared cinephile. I open up multiple tab on internet browsers while count of articles read per day has been drastically reduced. Its a worrisome situation as this has never occurred to me before. It is important to talk about my fear of becoming restless, because if I don't it will throw me out of balance in daily life.

May be its case of digital dementia where use of excessive Internet makes one dumb. There is an old wisdom that a real person is not a slave or an addict to anything. I am also recognizing the fact that harm is not in the act but in addiction. Also sitting 7-10 hours daily on internet is not a case of shooting oneself in the foot, but shooting oneself in the head. My deepest fear is not that I am inadequate for more learning, its that i assume myself well informed above the level of the peers. Trying flamboyance with ignorance to justify one's own perception as intellectual in public is suicidal and worth a big laugh. Every skill fades erodes with the time without practice and even mighty talented need to nurture competency level. Who am I to claim of being focused when I am unable to read a page or listen to a song without switching to other jobs. Life is the best teacher one can have. If only younger managers like me surf fewer hours on internet and lived life more!

I have not written a word above that how I am facing a big writer's block. The best way to overcome writer's block is to write. I recently found a good advice on writing in a movie : Finding Forrester - You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is... to write, not to think ! The process of manufacturing article through selected keywords is hurting the growth prospect of a writer inside me. I had lost the great tranquility of heart where I care neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of people. Tough questions and tough decisions can't wait forever. I have remained enough patient and its time to figure out how. Not every person can be proactive but it would be suicidal and lethargic not to be reactive either.

This blog article in itself is a solid attempt to rethink about stagnation in ideas and deficiency in attention span. Suddenly, I remembered this fall into abyss was initiated long ago when I stopped writing poems, how lame they may be. Path of small stream of creativity was blocked months ago. The quest to read, watch and listen only without putting a single word back on paper has became self defeating now in real sense. Mind can't take any more information anymore. There is a dire need to focus either through meditation or doing anything creative. As a sentient life-form, I hereby seek asylum in a vacuum far away from all networks.

Ten Issues -24

1- Smokers’ Corner: Real revolutions by Nadeem F. Paracha.

2- The Night Shastri Died And Other Stories by Kuldip Nayar.

3- Why Elites Fail by Christopher Hayes.

4- The real wealth of nations - The Economist

5- Children of the Taliban - PBS Frontline

6- The wedges between productivity and median compensation growth By Lawrence Mishel

7- 'A Perfect and Beautiful Machine': What Darwin's Theory of Evolution Reveals About Artificial Intelligence by Daniel C. Dennett.

8- Why so many communist philosophers? by Santiago Zabala

9- Destroying the commons by Noam Chomsky.

10 - Theories of Oppression and Another Dialogue of Cultures by Ashis Nandy Perspectives

Jonathan Haidt: The moral roots of liberals and conservatives

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Cinephile

I love world cinema.
I have habit of checking IMDB votes of good films.
I am a person who love movies, conversations about films, and people who love films.
That's who I am,
A cinephile.

Part I
Cinema provides us a cosmetic version of nationhood. We, Indians can great affinity to our cinema. We pay homage to movies through the use of dialogues, style, body language and even songs in daily life. So much of their impact on us that we can either hate or love our films, but definitely can't ignore them.

Ramadhir Singh is more subtle and strategic way in GOW : "Every fucker's got his own movie playing inside his head. Every fucker is trying to become the hero of his imaginary film. As long as there are fucking movies in this country people will continue to be fooled."

There is always so many feel-good and masala potboiler films in our mainstream Hindi cinema. They serve a very important function of delivering entertainment in our society. But one feel-bad film every year can reminds us of the mistakes that we make and hushed up under covers. We need to diversify the portfolio of genre of the films.

The nudity and sexuality in a good film is context, not subject. But, we don't know how to handle even such sensitive topics with grace. We stick to the conservative and moralistic film avoiding burning topics like partition, riots and even naxalism in right light. We are so much adopted to the candyfloss reality that anything that is even a little real, seems dark and taboo. And Indian diaspora is more conservative in preservation of traditions.Hence, none can hope much ray of hope coming from overseas Indian community.

Indian mental liberation has occured through west. There is no denial of this. But we are still colonized in our sense of thinking and acting. If one Western magazine calls a movie "hidden gem" then all of India is calling it "hidden gem". This is current Indian colonialism. There is no inner calling among us to search and promote independent minds of tomorrow's cinema.

Part II
Movies made for "everybody" are actually targeted for nobody in particular. Movies about specific characters in a detailed world are spellbinding because they make no attempt to cater to us; no longer make movies based on personal analysis and outlook to life and to the world.

We seldom see director driven cinema. Its the insult of creativity and vision. A good director (story teller) is a person who represents the sentiments, the unexplored and the unexplained powers that have been handed down to the people through centuries. In India our so called 'meaningful' films often seem shallow because they are about borrowed pains. Seldom does something as deeply felt and skillfully made like Miss Lovely, Supermen of Malegaon, Frozen, Harud, Gandu, Hava Aney Dey etc come our way. We should be grateful for small mercies of such indie directors.

At this age when quick cuts, item numbers and shaky cameras are becoming trends, its a sense of aestheticity to watch a long shotand let us fully appreciate images and dialogues that are well worth watching. Sometimes the story stops in a frame and a spectacle takes place. Either wonder or heartbreaking tors of metaphysical wonders. The visions makes us lost in the grace and glitz of the cinema.

‎"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever does." ~ Margaret Mead

Part III
Witnessing a scene in an anonymous crowd in dark theater. Its the expression of our repressed and private emotions in the public throgh the character of another person.Cinema brings us the secret anguish of frustrations burning in heart with a silent sorrow of failed dreams that surrounds us in loneliness. The picture stands face to face in front of us. It transforms us into the territory where viewers don't know how to react. Humiliation and Compassion of protagonist become ours.

If you are alone, you are more receptive ad look more deeply into things and that is important. That is how cinema can go beyond entertainment and be work of art. You never forget a sad ending and feeling of broken promises. Heroes die and there is chance of heartbreak! You can't simply watch it, you have to absorb it. Great film and silence in the dark surroundings becomes complementary to each other.

There are odd cases that such a great looking film is not particularly re-watchable. Even the story line and script development are good but the whole film re- watching becomes dull experience overall. May be the characters and dialogues are not engaging enough to catch our attention again and again.

The world is always a battle ground between romantics and realist. And we want a healthy balance between them in our cinematic arena. We all know that life time vale of cinematic product like documentaries, short films, movies are enormous and passed through generation like a cultural heritage. Roosevelt insisted that photographers and writers document the Great Depression, they produced iconic work that allowed America to doubt its myths but also to get back on track. Can't we do same with our cinema ? I have faith in future of good cinema. Do you have ?

"Film as dream, film as music. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul."- Jean Luc Godard

Thursday, August 30, 2012

BHU Kulgeet

मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।
यह तीन लोकों से न्यारी काशी ।
सुज्ञान धर्म और सत्यराशी ।।
बसी है गंगा के रम्य तट पर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।
मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।।
नये नहीं हैं यह ईंट पत्थर ।
है विश्वकर्मा का कार्य सुन्दर ।।
रचे हैं विद्या के भव्य मन्दिर, यह सर्वस्रष्टि की राजधानी ।
मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।।
यहाँ की है यह पवित्र शिक्षा ।
कि सत्य पहले फिर आत्मरक्षा ।।
बिके हरिश्चन्द्र थे यहीं पर, यह सत्यशिक्षा की राजधानी ।
मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।।
यह वेद ईश्वर की सत्यवानी ।
बने जिन्हें पढ के ब्रह्यज्ञानी ।।
थे व्यास जी ने रचे यहीं पर, यह ब्रह्यविद्या की राजधानी ।
मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।।
यह मुक्तिपद को दिलाने वाले ।
सुधर्म पथ पर चलाने वाले ।।
यहीं फले फूले बुद्ध शंकर, यह राजॠषियों की राजधानी ।
मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।।
सुरम्य धारायें वरुणा अस्सी ।
नहायें जिनमें कबीर तुलसी ।।
भला हो कविता का क्यों न आकर, यह वाक्विद्या की राजधानी ।
मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।।
विविध कला अर्थशास्त्र गायन ।
गणित खनिज औषधि रसायन ।।
प्रतीचि-प्राची का मेल सुन्दर, यह विश्वविद्या की राजधानी ।
मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।।
यह मालवीय जी की देशभक्ति ।
यह उनका साहस यह उनकी शक्ति ।।
प्रकट हुई है नवीन होकर, यह कर्मवीरों की राजधानी ।
मधुर मनोहर अतीव सुन्दर, यह सर्वविद्या की राजधानी ।।

---By Dr S.S.Bhatnagar
To read the interpretation of this kulgeet, click on Kulgeet (English).
To listen to this kulgeet, click on BHU Kulgeet. (This broken link has been recently fixed)

Literal meanings:
विश्वकर्मा - Lord of architecture
सर्वस्रष्टि - All creation of nature
बिके हरिश्चन्द्र थे यहीं पर - Once King Harishchandra even sold himself to keep up the truth of his words, providing a glorious example of his morals on this land of Kashi. Read full story of him by clicking here.
थे व्यास जी ने रचे यहीं पर - Maharishi Ved Vyas ji wrote sacred books, including Mahabharat, in Kashi.
मुक्तिपद - Steps of freedom
यहीं फले फूले बुद्ध शंकर - Kashi is the place of first sermon Lord Buddha (in Sarnath) and land of Lord Shankar (Kashi Vishwanath Bhagwan)
वरुणा, अस्सी - The two tributaries of River Ganga; Varanasi name comes from Varuna + Assi.
नहायें जिनमें कबीर तुलसी - Kabirdas was born in Kashi and Tulsidas ji was born on the ganga shore
वाक्विद्या - Study of voice (Speech and Poetry)
प्रतीचि-प्राची का मेल सुन्दर - Beautiful mix of east (prachi) and west (pratichi)
विविध कला अर्थशास्त्र गायन गणित खनिज औषधि रसायन - Multiple Arts, Economics, Music, Mathematics, Mining, Medicine and Chemical Science

Thanks to Puneet Pandey for the post.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Life of A Rural Manager

What is unofficial tagline of Brand Rural Management Programme at XIMB : “We Try Harder”

A simple question is asked by an aspirant, “Why does anybody ever want XIMB-RM as first choice in admission ?”

Yes, we all know that “XIMB-RM is only No. 2.”

Yet the reply is simple: “We try harder in nurturing our budding rural manager because we have to make a point. It's always the second ranker who works harder and learns a lot more in the process.”

The origination of the answer is not to create a cute, gimmick, but instead it was – and is -- a business philosophy that every XIMB-RM students holds true. Each and every student of rural management knows that he must work harder and learn extensively than their counterparts. XIMB - RM focus on frank and truthful statements about our ranks and education philosophy. This institution is a Sangam (confluence) where we seek to find balance between mainstream business and development of people on margins.

As I write this, I'm enjoying cool breeze of Vagator beach, Goa with a chilled beer. Actually, that’s not the true case at all. I'm sitting in a small room with bare minimum facilities at Gajapati district during winter internship. I assumed before joining XIMB that I can handle the weather of Odisha. Rarely, it rains mildly with a romantic weather. Its always either a dull humid weather or heavy rains. Nothing weakens Superman like Green kryptonite, the humidity acts same way here draining all energy! For once, we can wish cool weather every day (yes dear XIMBians, We all love Bhubaneshwar weather :X)! To add to that rigour were other matters like bad food (very very important). We love cuisine like Night-mess ka roasted chicken to X-cafe ka garlic chicken soup.

Arbeit macht frei is a German phrase, literally "labour makes (you) free". The slogan is known for having been placed over the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, but that should be put on the entrance of this place. Yes, life is not so cool here. Time is a scare commodity in this place. Yet, one can see endless usage of time in various activities. People still have the spirits to involve in various Committees, quizzes, games and X-Walks. But this is a thing about XIMB: you rarely get time for yourself. Even the whole 24 hours seems to be exhausting, tiring and even suicidal as it can sometimes get, I don't think any of us would want it any other way.

When Rural India wakes Up at 5:00 AM only then our rural managers stop their interactive chatting sessions and start dreaming of liberal days of graduation. 15 minutes before beginning of the class, get you Ass Up Fast is the call from the beloved lazy neighbor. Even then, 9 out of 10 Rural managers are firmly grounded on their bed. Such is the start of the day and the forecasting of whole saga of two years can be made on this start.

There are not only Intelligentsia, Devil's Advocate, Activist, Salesman and Social workers but also Mamas, Chachas, Night-Owls & Free-riders present in each batch. There are people here who provide a lot of joy whenever they leave the room. While one or two are such masterpiece while everybody was drinking from the fountain of knowledge they only gargled. Yes, there are superstars who gives solid evidence of halo effect. Some of ours species can even argue with a signpost but there is one with whom it's hard to believe he beat out 1,000,000 other sperm. I fall in the category of rural managers who set low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

Before a layman goes on a trip, one may want to read more about the history, the people, the landscapes, and the present political and cultural situation of the destined place. That is the pedagogy of academics for rural manager. Donor Mentality, CSR activities, Development tourism, Caste based business, deep poverty, top down approach of government, rehabilitation policy etc ... we were mentored for two years to question authority and yet develop leadership traits.

Our alumni travel across India and are ease with corporate office as well as a tribal community in a remote region. That sets us apart from our colleagues in India. We have our internal conflicts like how we will integrate development (not sure what it meant then) with surging profits of the company. We know both about CK Prahlad and P Sainath. P Sainath who? A question that is asked too frequently from the rural managers.

And we learn in two years : For India, reality bites. But Lage Raho India ,dream on! Business Managers are good Hegelian. They have a good theory, forget about the reality. Hence, the author has chosen to become rural manager. Yes, saying golden words in the end, we all have a deep love for 'sustainable development' of all 'stakeholders'.

Notice: This was a draft written long ago treasured in archives of the blog for unknown reason. It's been like 8 months since I last wrote in one flow. I am throwing a glimpse of life of a rural manager tailored at XIMB.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ten Ted Talks

1- Adam Savage: How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries.

2- Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

3- Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

4- Brené Brown: Listening to shame

5- Hans Rosling: Religions and babies

6- William Noel: Revealing the lost codex of Archimedes

7- Clay Shirky: Why SOPA is a bad idea

8- Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice

9- Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do, and how we can do it better

10- Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation

Quote of the Day : “As a teacher and a writer, I'm not interested in just producing books, and I'm not interested in just reproducing class after class of people who will get out, become successful, and take their obedient places in slots that society has prepared for them. What most of us must be involved in—whether we teach or write, make films, play music, act, whatever we do—has to not only make people feel good and inspired and at one with other people around them, but also has to educate a new generation to do this very modest thing: change the world.”— Howard Zinn

Saturday, June 30, 2012

IITBHU : Such a long journey

Vide Notification no. F.No.8-5/2008-TS.I (Vol.-IV) from Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India, the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 2012 (No.34 of 2012) has come into force on 29th day of June 2012 and consequently, the erstwhile Institute of Technology, BHU has become Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University), Varanasi w.e.f. June 29, 2012.
IT-BHU had always trait of becoming independent and autonomous. Now, that goal had been achieved. Speech given by Jawaharlal Nehru on 15th August 1947 : 'Tryst with Destiny' is coming in back of my mind. In 2009, IT-BHU was slated for conversion into an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) by amending the Institutes of Technology Act 1961 through The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 2011 which was passed by the Lok Sabha on 24 March 2011 and by the Rajya Sabha on April 30, 2012. The institute is now officially known as IIT-BHU.

To once visit in Varanasi is a very desirable fate and one accepts the fact that nothing is outside the realm of possibility in India. Irrespective of this, I don't know why I despise Varanasi while loving the college in equal proportion. The river Ganga that flows through Varanasi is a reservoir of filth, chaos and poverty, but also a meeting place for memories and belonging. I had expressed much anger in Banaras: A Bitter Memoir. Holy City of Kashi is the most sacred place for millions but mine love is limited to my college only.

An average ITian is a self contained creature and sometime desiring for an extra 'I'. However, an ITian richly deserve more than the quasi-IIT status. It is true that we all have walked on the roads of IT-BHU with a question in our hearts. Why is there so much bureaucratic and political hurdles in one small conversion ? May be Indian state can bear anything from corruption to nepotism, but an 'autonomy' to make its own decision is blasphemous !

There is always a pivotal moment of self awareness in a society that is held together for so long by the belief of superiority. We all know thoroughly about rise of new IITs and the gradual fall of ITBHU from its peak position. The fall was initiated long ago with internal politics, low funding and shoddy appointments. Even ITBHU introduced entrance pattern of IIT-JEE in 1971 only, it could not update itself with the changing times so quickly. However, much deserved yet over-hyped IIT brand continues to elude the institute. Administration, Faculty and Students of IITBHU need more interaction with the honest, progressive, modern and reasonable world outside of its own citadel.

Imminent effect of IIT Status is already visible through an upward movement in JEE ranks for IIT BHU. [Quick Analysis Here]. It appears to be name change for many but the first step towards great change has already been taken. There were few questions raised previously about future of ITBHU. See the winds of change has already started flowing among the faculty, alumnus, students and administration. After IIT, What Next?
'The Old order changeth, yielding place to New'
I cherish 'IIT tag' for ITBHU not because of the 'brand value' but because of the wide spectrum of 'autonomy' enjoyed by them. The tag will naturally attract higher ranked JEE candidates and procure high funding levels for faculty. I dreamed of college who should be identified with the liberty and opportunity. I dreamt once ITBHU such a place for me. I no longer cherish the dream and am driven by different ideology. Yet, this was a cause close to my heart. Opening of new IITs and up-gradation of old Institutions is a slow step towards reform in the higher technical education. I was personaly much against people who were opposing opening of new IITs as this may dilute the 'IIT' brand. This is much shameful that our best minds were more concerned about brand than scarcity of good institutions. Only under umbrella of IIT, the autonomy could have been achieved and now had been achieved.
“The job of the university is to not give society what it wants, but what it needs.”
A good way of spreading brand awareness and also making the best out of the time in the institute is to try to do something out of the box such as travel abroad for internships, leverage the IT-BHU network in securing jobs etc. The journey to this red letter day for IT BHU fraternity has been long and full of roadblocks. This could not have been possible without countless& well-wishers, proud alumnus, ITBHU administration, esteemed Professors and current students. They protested, lobbied and even gone public with their demand of the conversion. Kudos to all of them. There were opposition and blocks from the section inside BHU that were seeing threat to the heritage of Madan Mohan Malviya. With persistence, the milestone for upcoming glorious years had been achieved.

I am not yet convinced about how this move will benefit thousands of poor students. To be poor is to be without any entrance exam coaching or good schools. Already, there is a huge information gap between middle class and lowers class. People with good information and money set are less dependent on government spending and public goods. They are in much better situation to get an admission in any IITs at the end of school education. I hope that IITs should make reservation of seats for a youth from BPL card holder family. That will be a good initiative from such an old and prestigious Institute.

Changes are slow but inevitable. As time passes either we adapt or get left behind. The widespread serenity of VT has taught us to endure and have a patience for the cherished moment. I am happy to be a tiny part of heritage of both BHU and IIT system. Yet a question remains unanswered in my mind at this happy hour. Do the best students need the IIM or IIT stamp to be seen as special ?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ten Issues - 23

1- Retuning Alha Udal : The lustrous versatility of film music, and change wrought by time. Gulzar knows our culture more than anybody in music industry.

2- Evaluating responses to India's macroeconomic crisis by Shubho Roy and Ajay Shah.

3- Not an April Fool: We are encouraged to over-share, for commercial reasons (just as we are encouraged to over-consume, but that's an issue for another time).

4- वक्‍त की छलनी में चेहरे गुम हो जाते हैं, गीत अमर रहता है ♦ जावेद अख्‍तर - पिछले दिनों जावेद अख्‍तर को राष्‍ट्रपति ने राज्‍यसभा की सदस्‍यता दी। 17 मई 2012 को जावेद साहब ने संसद में अपना पहला भाषण दिया।

5- Sheryl Sandberg’s Inspiring Speech At Harvard Business School. Sandberg urged the new graduates to think of their careers as a “jungle gym,” jumping around instead of following a preordained progression. She urged her listeners to take similar leaps, perhaps accepting a job that’s a step down from what one is currently doing if it offers the chance to learn something new. “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship,” she said, “don’t ask what seat—just get on.”

6- Graduate Student: To Be or Not To Be by Karthik Shekhar who is a graduate student at MIT. He earned a Dual Degree in Chemical Engineering in 2008 from IITB.

7- An Open Letter to India’s Graduating Classes - The author is a partner with KPMG.

8- We are now going to uncloak the anonymous man and tell the story of Stephen Ridley. Life is short - you're young, you're old, you're dead. React to that knowledge. You have nothing to lose.

9- Why People Should Not Be Poor by Neera Chandhoke - Can we reflect on the right not to be poor without taking on these background inequalities? Arguably, the right not to be poor is best articulated as a subset of the generic right to equality. The concept of equality is, however, not self-explanatory. In many circles, redistributive justice has replaced equality. It is therefore time to ask the question – equality for what? Unless we are careful about the way we approach the poverty debate, we will land up not with equality, but with “sufficientarianism”.

10- ARTICLE 17 is a campaign launched by Video Volunteers on April 14th, 2012, to urge the National Commission for Schedule Castes, (the government body that is constitutionally appointed to direct and implement the safeguards against untouchability), to prosecute cases of untouchability.

Thought of the Day : - “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.” ― Bertolt Brecht

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ten Issues - 22

1- Banning middlemen from oil trade could drive down price of crude by 40% : These middlemen add little value and lots of cost as they bid up the price of oil in pursuit of financial gain. They are "pure" speculators - investors who buy and sell oil futures but never take physical possession of actual barrels of oil.

2- Daron Acemoglu on Inequality - The US, the UK and many other countries have become far less equal over the past 30 years. The MIT economics professor says it's important we understand how and why this happened, and what it means for our societies. He also review Five Books.

3- The Emperor Uncrowned - A complete reportage on the rise of Narendra Modi.

4- The new think tank by Niranjan Rajadhyaksha:- Dry intellectual pursuits such as neuroscience and auction theory are solving problems on the ground. We met four people whose models prove how.

5- December 1984 By Sathyu Sarangi : Many of the battles begun 25 years ago, in the aftermath of catastrophe, continue today. A deep and moving saga of the struggle of Bhopal victims.

6- Of chick charts, hen charts and other such women’s stories: Saba Dewan - This could be termed as a pioneer of the Feminist movement in modern-day Delhi. It will be difficult to fathom that such sexist and misogynist behaviour existed in educational institution.

7- Plutonomy and the precariat: On the history of the US economy in decline - Prof. Chomsky explains that the current US economy is built on 'growing worker insecurity' - people who are too busy and poor to make demands.

8- The Importance of Not Being Earnest : The larger implications of a country that takes itself too seriously. - We as the Public India seems to have no sense of humour at all. And all attempt of sarcasm and other sharper kinds of humour.

9- Marx at 193 by John Lanchester - Writer review here importance of Marx and he really did have the most astonishing insight into the nature and trajectory and direction of capitalism.

10- Great biographic article on Prof. Amartya Sen who studies of social choice, welfare measurement, and poverty and do research on fundamental problems in welfare economics.

Quote of the day :- Personally, I'm in favor of democracy, which means that the central institutions of society have to be under popular control. Now, under capitalism we can't have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level - there's a little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I'm opposed to political fascism, I'm opposed to economic fascism. I think that until major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it's pointless to talk about democracy.” — Noam Chomsky

Monday, May 14, 2012

Personal Reading History -2

‘Time, like a fistful of sand, slips through our fingers while we stand and wonder what to do with it.’

A habit is must for proper utilization of the time during our growing years. I had a nice habit of book and comics reading from the childhood days. I have already written a brief about reading history in a previous post (Personal Reading History -1). In retrospection, it feels great that I have read so many books, comics, stories and poems.

I want to read with the growing age the best of all world literature. It varies with the short stories of Anton Chekhov, Guy De Maupassant, Somerset Maugham, Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde and O Henry. UP, CBSE and ICSE board short stories and in English and Hindi from class 5th to 12th were fondly read by me. Smriti by Sriram Sharma, Gift of the Magi by O Henry, The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde, Idgaah by Premchand and A Letter to God by Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes (Translated by Donald A. Yates ) are still mine favorite stories.

Books Read at friend's place: Panchatantra, Sindbad the Sailor, Pinocchio, My experiments with Truth, Gulliver Travels, Chandrakanta Santati and Prisoner of Zenda.

Books read in School Library : Moby Dick, Three Musketeers, The count of Monte-Cristo, A Christmas Carol, Time Machine, The War of Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Thirty Nine Steps, Oliver Twist, Great Expectation, You can win by Shiv Khera, Frankestein, The Red badge of courage, King Arthur and Round Tale, Sunny Days, Malgudi Days, Plays of Shakespeare

Books Read in Hindi Translation: David Copperfield, Ivanhoe, The Man in Iron Mask, Black Beauty, Call of the Wild , Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Black Tulip, Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Talisman, Don Quixote, Robin hood, Around the world in eighty days, Coral Island, The Adventure of Tom Sawyer, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.

These books were treasure house of enjoyable and informative literature that I had read in my wonder years. Sometimes, it was encouragement of the parents and cousins that later on converted into my own initiative. Thanks to my sister also who competed with me in finishing a book as fast as possible. Later on, the reading habit died due to my own negligence beyond class 10th.

I never seek happiness as those who run only for happiness never find it. On the surface when life becomes "eat, drink, be merry." It is superficial, and one day everybody get bored sooner or later. Some will seek refuge in religion and others in the work. It is extremely important to pick an advisors, mentors, friends and role models who are concerned about our intellectual growth and not just our productivity. Productivity is just like machine but thinking is done at different levels. We can only pick the best of ideas by becoming morally serious and intellectually curious.

I like books and write outdated essays on the blog. I always aspired to become an average educated reader for understanding the world around me. Currently, I appreciate reading mostly non fiction books. Simultaneously, I introduce popular concepts and idea that focus on the problems and prospects of sustainable development at this blog in a lucid manner. I feel indeed as a custodian of a common heritage of the civilized world through this cultural tradition of reading and writing.

As a grown person, it seems beyond understanding that scholars have stopped just reading novels and poems and started studying them. That is tragedy of Literature. While most of mine friends and classmate lack the habit of reading books for pleasure. Only few had started reading beyond school books, other just prefer to watch TV and Internet. They watch TV so the attention span is low. May be because people don’t read books these days.

Reading is tough and requires patience. It actually needs application to grasp the meaning of words and find hidden emotions between the lines. I act as writer at this blog. This blog is a demanding, difficult and not much reader friendly...highly personal place, typically filled with short insights. But if you have arrived here for a light-hearted entertainment's on your mind, then this blog is a wrong location in blogosphere.

As a writer, I have began to doubt my own capacity to see things unbiased, when I no longer am sure if my view is right or left. Yet, I am trying to remain as independent as possible. I suspect that market forces have altered the behavior of writers. That bothers me a lot. I will easily pass away, unnoticed and unremarked with time. Just let me read and write without censure story of my own. I thanks books as they had changed exposure and outlook. A nation must have its culture rebels, prophets, saints, heroes and martyrs. I am none but a Reader and Writer.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Development in a Trimester of rural management - 3

Continuing from the 2nd part of the Development series in RM , I will move towards the 3rd part of the learning in the field of Rural Management.  Here in 6 points what I learnt in last 3 months:

1- Integrity and Humility are more necessary to success than the knowledge. Only creating assets and giving knowledge is not enough but the spirit of service is far more essential for a rural manager.

2- For-profit firms, they argue, often face pressure to abandon social goals in favour of increasing profits. Non-profit firms and charities are needlessly restricted in their ability to raise capital when they need to grow. There should be a third way of developing the objectives of both firms.

3- There is a misplaced tendency to look at "progress" through the eyes of people in power or in powerful economic institutions. There lies a great assumption that if they do well, wealth/prosperity will trickle down into the lives of ordinary people. This approach is one of the many 'indicators' of the development, not the only one as perceived by mainstream.

4- Government can give equal opportunity to all, but still a Steve Jobs will be a Steve Jobs, all people are not going to become Steve Jobs. Equity does not mean that all children must learn the same thing at the same rate but they have the same access to same infrastructure and facilities.

5- LPG are regarded as panacea of all the problems. I don't agree with this trend. Often assets and infrastructure created that are more beneficial to the elites than the poor who created them. I am not yet sure of the access of the vulnerable group of assets created in NREGA.

6- The true institution failure happens when the voice of vulnerable people are kept silent. Not being organised, they lack representations in social, economic and political institutions and often fail to participate despite granted rights. Most of the time, they form group on the basis of their social identity and caste system thrives with changing times.

Summary of One Year :
It is not the most talented who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones who are most responsive to change. One year has passed since my admission in 2-Year Full Time Postgraduate Diploma in Rural Management. I don't much bother academic competence but trying to learn with each passing moment. MBA degree is a fast-track exposure to various functions in the organisation -- sales, marketing, human resources, finance, product management and strategy. While development studies take s in the domain of sociology, anthropology, economics, political science and even public administration. Rural Management is a hybrid mixture of both these domains. I have not allow myself time to settle down. I tried to jump at every opportunity, to do as much as I could with my time. Rural Manager is needed to harness grass-roots dynamism and entrepreneurial potential. Hoping to convert this knowledge to some useful actions.

XIMB -RM has taught me the tact to handle of academic pressure. Still, much can be done to put a student through an intellectual rigour. I never tend to prioritize the number of hours spent in the classroom over the quality of teaching, that helps me much in assessing impact of classroom lectures on me.

As an IT engineer with 12 hrs 3.5L job at MNC was good but never a satisfying one. It is not money that has tempted me to give up a stable career at IT firm and enter rural management program. It is the freedom to read widely, think deeply, write independently and keep learning—the opportunity to live in the world of ideas and realities simultaneously. I have achieved a lot of mine goals and pretty happy with my progress. In the end, I still ponder over a simple question - But what does it mean anyway — development?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ten Issues - 21

1- Barefoot - The other side of lifeHarsh Mander -: Can anyone really live on Rs. 26 a day, the income of the officially poor in rural India? Two youngsters try it out.

2- Powerhouse on your plate! - Easily accessible and affordable, millets are making a comeback to Indian kitchens, says Shonali Muthalaly.

3- The everyday embrace of inequality :The institution of paid domestic labour produces cleanliness, meals and childcare, but it also produces and reproduces an unequal home and society.

4- Salman Rushdie & India's new theocracy :-India's secular state is in a state of slow-motion collapse. The contours of a new theocratic dystopia are already evident.

5- BCCI: Billionaires Control Cricket in India by P. SAINATH

6- 42 per cent of Indian children are underweight - Hunger and Malnutrition (HUNGaMA) report by the Naandi Foundation – were described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “national shame” at a release function here on Tuesday.

7- The complex contractor-maistry system, the devastation of agriculture, an ineffective food-for-work programme, debt and debilitating mass migrions - these are an explosive mix. P Sainath joins migrants fleeing the desperate conditions in Mahbubnagar, seeking a meagre living in faraway places : The bus to Mumbai (Part I) and The wrong route out? (Part II)

8- Looming disaster : Handloom weavers in Andhra Pradesh are in a crisis brought on by policy blindness and the emphasis on powerlooms.

9- Bt Cotton, Remarkable Success, and Four Ugly Facts.

10- Walking With The Comrades :- Gandhians with a Gun? Arundhati Roy plunges into the sea of Gondi people to find some answers...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

EPW Readings

1- Accessing Institutional Finance: A Demand Side Story for Rural India

Under the Reserve Bank of India’s “financial inclusion” campaign, the provision of institutional finance has been progressing at differential rates across the country. However, when we pair administrative banking data on availability of bank branches in a state with the All India Debt and Investment Survey (2002-03) capturing both institutional and non-institutional borrowing by households, we find that states with the most access to institutional finance, or supply, are not necessarily the ones with the most demand for finance. Looking at household level data within each state we identify determinants of institutional borrowing, and some of the strongest predictors for accessing institutional finance. A number of empirical regularities emerge in terms of the importance of having assets like land for borrowing, which undermines the basic philosophy of financial inclusion.

2- Crop Insurance in India : Scope for Improvement

The National Agricultural Insurance Scheme is vital for providing insurance cover to farmers, across regions, across seasons and across crops. This paper comprehensively reviews the NAIS and suggests changes to make it more effective. The paper is based on a detailed analysis of exhaustive data for 11 crop seasons, covering the rabi season of 1999-2000 onwards up to the same in 2004-05. Field investigations were also conducted in Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to assess the response of farmers, bankers and other stakeholders. The authors also rely on discussions with knowledgeable persons like government functionaries from the department of agriculture, bankers, academicians and farmer representatives in Nagpur, Jaipur and Hyderabad.

3- Case for Caste-based : Quotas in Higher Education

The roots of discrimination in India go so deep that social and economic disparities are deeply intertwined, although in increasingly complex ways. We still need reservations for different groups in higher education, not because they are the perfect instruments to rectify long-standing discrimination, but because they are the most workable method to move in this direction. The nature of Indian society ensures that without such measures, social discrimination and exclusion will only persist and be strengthened.

4- Can We De-Stigmatise Reservations in India?

The “politics of recognition” that Other Backward Classes have set into motion has its own set of terms and dynamics that contrast well with that of the dalits’ political discourse. The politics of obcs have now brought into the public domain issues that are likely to change the very terms of discourse in which the debate on reservations was pursued for the last three decades. The obc discourse on reservations has de-stigmatised policy; obcs have also articulated their demands beyond community concerns by bringing up issues related to regionalism and linguistic assertion. These can influence the very grounds on which public institutions, policy and political processes have, so far, been perceived and pursued in Indian politics.

5- Caste, Politics and Public Good Distribution in India: Evidence from NREGS in Andhra Pradesh

This paper attempts to measure the effect of castereservation policies on the provision of public goods and services in gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh using data from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The investigation finds that the effect of reservation varies tremendously in different social, political, and institutional contexts, shedding light on the conflicting results of similar studies. It provides important lessons for future research and policy about the caste-political conditions in which reservation can produce positive or perverse results.

6- Understanding the Andhra : Crop Holiday Movement
Why would farmers keep their own land fallow as part of a voluntary “crop holiday protest movement” in a part of Andhra Pradesh is a question that has puzzled many. A field visit to the Konaseema region reveals that the dynamics of class contradictions in the area are also responsible for the nature of the movement that goes beyond the issue of remunerative prices.

7- Developmental Crisis and Dialectics of Protest Politics : Presenting the Absent and Absenting the Present

There is not just a crisis of development today, but also a crisis of ideas for emancipatory forms of development. What is needed from progressives is a rigorous theory that must acknowledge what is present (class exploitation, imperialism, national and social oppression, profit-driven ecological destruction, gross commercialisation of all spheres of human life including  culture and social relations) but also what is absent (collective democratic control over our lives, our planet, our bodies, our destiny, our culture). That should be the start of the process of bringing about fundamental changes in the status quo.

8- Building a Creative Freedom : J C Kumarappa and His Economic Philosophy

Joseph Cornelius Kumarappa (1892-1960) was a pioneering economic philosopher and architect of the Gandhian rural economics programme. Largely forgotten today, Kumarappa’s life-work constitutes a large body of writings and a rich record of public service, both of profound significance. A critical intellectual engagement with his life-work can shed new light on some of the most fundamental constituents of the human economic predicament, and also contribute to a more nuanced understanding of one of the most fecund periods in modern Indian history.

9- Diary of a Moneylender

Debates about the role of the moneylender in the rural credit scenario tackle two conflicting images. One sees the moneylender as a resilient entity calling for his future involvement in the process of rural development, and the other sees him as an exploiter to be slowly weeded out. To get a more nuanced account of his role, a diary kept by a moneylender operating in a village in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh is analysed here. Even a cursory reading of this diary gives rich details on the scale and importance of the transactions carried out by the moneylender. Through this diary, formal lending agencies, be they banks or microfinance institutions, which have plans to supplant the moneylender will gain rich insights into the role played by this ubiquitous entity.

10- Critique of the Common Service Centre Scheme

The Common Service Centre scheme aims to establish nearly three lakh rural internet kiosks across India. A recent evaluation study, however, found poor demand among users and delayed roll-out of government-to consumer services, causing losses and attrition among private operators of the scheme. There is space, therefore, for greater engineering of public good outcomes by tying financial incentives to computer education goals.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rural Management GD-PI Preparation

I was an aspirant for rural management program last year. I had applied for both XIMB and IRMA. I had tried to write down possible list of the question that may be asked by the interview panelists. Please customize the questions as per your needs.

01- Describe yourself in 3 words?
02- Tell us about yourself and family background.
03- What is success according to you?
04- What is an Urban area?
05- Why do you think you are suited for RM?
06- Why you pursued Engineering at graduation?
07- Why do you switch to IT industry after degree in mechanical engineering?
08- What is Development ? What is development according to you?
10- Would you like to ask any question from us? Would you like to ask any question from us?
11- Why Rural and What is Rural? Why did you think about rural?
12- Why preparing for rural management not for AGM course at IIMs?
13- Is there any business plan in your mind and how it will benefit rural people?
14- So how is the campus, when did you reach? What do you feel about Gujarat/ Orissa/ Mumbai? What is you first impression ?
15- Have you done self analysis. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Briefly outline your strengths? Briefly outline your weaknesses?
16- Why Companies see bright prospects in Rural India?
17- Why should we select you or special points? 5 reasons why should we select you? Give one reason why should we select you?
18- Give one reason why we don’t select you?
19- Describe the nature of your work experience, responsibilities and achievements.
20- Have you any experience of scholarly work ?
21- Do you think development activities require a lot of money?
22- What is leadership according to you? Can you cite any example from your life where you demonstrated it?
23- Do you think you will be able to switch from a metro city to rural areas? why?
24- Tell us something which is not written in the resume?
25- How will you convince the poor villager to send his children to school? What incentives are on offer if he sends his children to school?
26- What kind of things have you done in office other than work? What did you learn and understand from this?
27- There's enough of aid flowing in. And yet, things aren't turning out the way they should. Why ?
28- How do you plan to fund your studies? You will be requiring loans or your family would pay it?
29- How did you come to know about the institute?
30- Why management? Can you not serve rural population with your technical skills?
31- You can do MBA from another college, earn in lakhs, why rural management and get less paisa ?
32- Why is there a need to work for the rural people?
33- How can technology help rural sector?
34- After working in AC rooms for around 3 years in software industry, will you be able to able to adjust the demanding job profile of rural manager?
35- Software industry is lucrative industry then why do you want to join IRMA?
36- Asked about what I liked in company you work ?
37- How can you use mech engg knowledge and IT exp in rural development. How will your expertise from your work ex bring about change in a village?
38- How do you relate with the background and how do you plan to apply? What part could technology play in rural development?
39- What can computers do for farmers? Expalin the limitations of IT based initiatives?
40- From where did this rural thing come to your mind?
41- Suppose you are to develop a business model for a village. How would you do it?
42- What do you mean by community service or welfare?
43- What all community work you have done?
44- What do want to convey by research and investment in rural sector?
45- What would be my first step to develop rural people ... if I were the PM of India?
46- What is difference between India and Singapore?
47- Gave a situation "Some money is given to a rural person through micro credit. How will you ensure to get it back?"
48- How education of elders will ensure the development of rural sector?
49- How will you bring about changes in a village which has been neglected over the years?
50- How will you change the mind set of a farmer towards genetically modified crops and convince him to make the switch?

Brief Idea about - Poverty, Migration, Education Policy, Agrarian policy, E-Governance, HDI, Microfinance, Annual Budget Plan, Poverty Line, GDP, PPP, PCI (Per capita income), Information of Home state and city, Various central and state(home) governemnt schemes, NRLM, NREGA, NRHM, Panchayati Raj, PESA , Free Trade, Fair Trade, ICT (Information and communications technology), Welfare State, Market Economy, PURA, Major Sectors of the Economy, Green Revolution, Rabbi- Kharif Crops, Name of few scheduled tribes, National Food Security Mission, BT crops, Land reforms, AMUL, White Revolution, IMR, MMR, Literacy Rate, Working Population, Disguised, Seasonal and Under Employment, Polio Mission, Chipko Andolan, CRISIL Ratings, Economic Recession,Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Five Year Plans, Bottom of Pyramid (BOP), NABARD, BRIC, UID Aadhar, Lokpal Bill, Rainfed Area, Inflation, Cash Crop, Public Distribution System, Rain Water Harvesting, WTO etc etc...

Read about NGO's like Pratham, Gram Vikas, Goonj, PRADAN, BASIX, SEWA.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ten Issues - 20

1- Food Politics: How the present National Food Security Bill will deepen Food Insecurity by Dr Vandana Shiva.

2- How To Learn the Language of Evil - Alan Wolfe's Political Evil offers lessons liberals especially need. A review By Michael Ignatieff.

3- Five Things You Should Stop Doing in 2012 by Dorie Clark who is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the National Park Service. [HBR]

4- Why I Hire People Who Fail by Jeff Stibel who is Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. [HBR]

5- On Public Funding of Colleges and Towards a General Theory of Public Options : If we want to wonder why public education is becoming expensive it is in part because we aren’t supporting it as much as we were in the past.

6- Why Software Is Eating The World : Instead of constantly questioning their valuations, let's seek to understand how the new generation of technology companies are doing what they do, what the broader consequences are for businesses and the economy and what we can collectively do to expand the number of innovative new software companies created in the U.S. and around the world.

7- FDI in Retail: A new battleground at IIM Marketers blog.

8- The Decline but Not Fall of Hierarchy : What Young People Really Want : Western education imparts the idea that if we don’t have someone supervising our work, we’ll fall into a dangerous state of low productivity and collective lethargy. But examples like the rise of Google show that youth flourish in an environment with little hierarchy.

9- The global crisis has presented India with a historic opportunity to grow faster, but according to Pratap Bhanu Mehta, head of a leading independent think tank, the country is unable to capitalise on it owing to political and macro-economic mismanagement. In an interview with Santosh Tiwari, Mehta strongly criticises the Congress for ineptitude.

10 - Distant from Prosperity: The rural Indian economy, 1993-2005 - What has happened to the Indian economy over the last two decades ?

Thought of the Week : One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. ... All you need to do is to be curious, receptive, eager for experience. And there's one strange thing: when you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else. - Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living (1960)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ten Issues - 19

1- Who Represents the Poor? by Pranab Bardhan - The Limits of the NGO Movement in Global Development

2- Why the Fight against Poverty Is Failing: A Contrarian View - Abraham George is the founder of The George Foundation, an NGO engaged in humanitarian work in India, and the author of India Untouched: The Forgotten Face of Rural Poverty. In this contrarian essay, he explores why the current strategies that governments and development agencies are employing to reduce poverty are not working the way they should. Among his arguments: Microcredit programs, as they are now practiced in India, do little to help the poor.

3- The great land grab: India's war on farmers - Land is a valuable asset that should be used to better humanity through farming and ecology. An article by Vandana Shiva.

4- Right to Food Campaign's opposition to replacement of PDS with cash transfers : A Google group for interaction and discussion.

5- In Free India I Was Denied Entry' : - Interview of David Barsamian who is an Armenian-American radio broadcaster, writer, and the founder and director of Alternative Radio.

6- Goodbye, Steve Jobs; Long Live Mavericks! by Nalaka Gunawardene.

7- The class warfare the rich don't understand : The Masters of the Universe evaded responsibility and defiantly demanded more sacrifice from their victims, says author.

8- Veteran historian, novelist, and activist Tariq Ali in a recent interview spoke about the challenges facing the Arab revolts, the future of US policy in the Middle East following ‘disengagement’ from Iraq, and the significance of the current movement of dissent taking over the streets and squares of cities across the world. Read on the complete interview at Viewpoint.

9- Putting Growth In Its Place: It has to be but a means to development, not an end in itself. An essay by JEAN DREZE , AMARTYA SEN

10- You can't bank on free speech : An extrajudicial banking blockade imposed on WikiLeaks has caused a 95 per cent loss in revenue for the organisation.


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