Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leadership in the context of present environment: A reflection about the socities we live in

This is a very interesting topic. If we see around the globe we may realize that most of the leaders represent the kind of socities are prevailing in those countries.

Italy: Birthplace of Mafia. Still the tapered side of Italy is governed hugely by mafia inteference. The president is an epitome of societal turbulance. When I was having a discussion with Dr. Antonio Guezzati, who was a professor at University of Bocconi (Milan), now running a consulting firm based out of Washnigton DC he told that the bugger (the president) controls everything. How did it happen? He openly asks ambassadors to invite sexy girls. Even at the age of 72 when the country looks towards him for leading the nation he is involved in fulfilling his sensual needs? It reflects the kind of society our Italy may be. People involved in just fulfilling their sensual needs and not moving up in the need hierarchy of Maslov.

France: Well Mr. and Mrs. Sarkozy are well known for all not so good things. Mrs. Sarkozy has flair of having affiars and feels ‘bored’ with just one personOn the other hand Mr. Sarkozy’s involvement with his minister is talk of the town along with having a possibility of his offspring from that minister. His other minister’s involvement with corruption cases and appointments of sex offender is well known. Some day it is the return of “bourgeois bohemian values. With just population of approx. 60 million why the President finds it very difficult to manage where countries like India and China find it not so tough? I had put a perspective to answer this question in my earlier writing. It also reflects the way relationships/ administration is done in our French society.

US: The present world super power. Barack has not been a native of US that’s why may be he brings variation and seen as a promising leader. Former President Mr. Bush reflected a similar perspective of US society as discussed above in context of Italy & France. An attitude of indifference towards existence of other nations. Creating Taliban and ISI which in turn has been problematic for US. Forex reserve of US is less than that of Italy which reflects overspending attitude of people which resulted in recession. As a saying goes “if you stretch beyong the length of the bedsheet you become ‘naked’” and so it happened in America. In view of many European acquiantances and friends now it is Europe’s turn.

India: Well the country of my birth. Corruption is everywhere. In Europe/ US the corruptions are at high levels but in India it is all pervading. One reason why corruption might not be at lower levels in many European nations can be attributed to social security features. Yet some countries like Italy still have the lower level corruption. In India the staff in the lower hierarchy are paid too low to survive properly so they resort to corruption. At the top level the situation is as good as in other countries. The best part is that everybody knows and despite complaining people live with it. This also reflects the societal problems India like country may have. We are fast catching up with the developmental model of western world without realizing whether that is development or not. Fortunately the Prime Minister is one of exceptions which exist so we have lots of hopes and dreams.

The question is why don’t we bring change in the society when it is evident that it is needed much more than before!! 

Maslov’s hierarchy of needs: Revisited in context of development of human beings

Many of my management friends will remember Maslov’s hierarchy of needs (He was an American pshycologist). I am reproducing it for reference.

As you can see that the needs/ development of human beings in the upward direction. In present day context if we see our cities around the globe including western nations we are stuck at the third level!! When a society is made of human beings then the societal development must be looked in the context of human beings. We are so much tuned to meet our Physiological and love/ belongingness needs that we are not able to think beyond! What has caused this stagnation?

This puts one big Q in our minds? Are countries like US/ France/ Germany/ UK etc. really worth being mentioned as developed nations! No doubt infrastructure exists, bit of security exists (or at least illusion of safety exits in light of recent recession), drinks and sex exists but are our western nations progressing up in the pyramid direction? In my view they are not. At a time when the noble positions of teachers are being misusedcan we say that the education in our western socities is good? 

Where are the Platos, Joan of Arcs, Socarates, Nostradamus, Newtons, Einstiens etc. of the present time ....... 

Are we different?

Today while I was walking in Malabar hills area (Mumbai, India) suddenly when I saw dog it struck me. With our mindless drive for achieving something or enjoying life we tend to get involved in things which are not worth following, despite knowing, so is there a difference between us and the animals (dogs)?

Animals (Dogs)
We all enjoy decent food
They also get to have nice meals
One of the prime needs
‘Well off’ dogs have it
Social life (friend group)
We have our friend circle
They also tend to be in groups
We find very few
Dogs are considered to be the best friend of human beings and the most faithful (some dog may take it as an offence if he/ she sees being compared to human beings)
Majority of us (city dwellers, European/ US peers etc) enjoy life with liquor, sex, few with food etc.
They don’t have access to liquor but do lot of sex and also enjoy food. Now a day they have special foods prepared.
Family life
Most of our peers in western countries/ large cities in Asia tend to get involved in short relations and move ahead. Many relations get developed over liquor overnight and having mutiple ‘associations’ is considered cool!! Having a family seems to be an unsustainable affair!
Well they don’t seem to have families. Females will have multiple partners, males will have multiple affairs. Females are left to bring up the children. If they would have a voice they would have also, may be, expressed it as cool! Some dog might say damn! Humans are catching us so fast….
Indians are a lazy set of guys. Our western peers beat Asians by mile. Some do so to stay in shape so that they could have great sex (well some set of guys and girls gave that answer).
Dogs keep on running so the healthier ones enjoy same things as humans with as many as they can manage.
Most of us get (but do we utilize it?). Now a day teachers are having pleasurable activities, around the globe, with students rather than giving them life’s lessons. Who to trust?
They don’t have it (at least formally).
Many in western nations and majority of Asian cities vehemently try to protect it (least realizing that for any activity, starting from birth to death, we are dependent on each other!!).
They are all for it. They try to protect it fierecly. They mark their regions and any violation of ‘personal space’ results in fights!

Having so many similarities are we different? Some say human beings posses superior intelligence. What is that intelligence? Why are we afraid to utilize our brains? Why do we take status quo as it is, even if deep inside we feel there is something amiss? May be you get to see lots of animals on the roads in our Asian cities people get to have some feedback about difference between a human being’s behavior and that of an animal (not so in the case of our western nations).

I wonder what would have today’s world been if the French revolution wouldn’t have happened, America’s great struggle wouldn’t have been there, India’s independence struggle wouldn’t have happened, China wouldn’t have fought for its freedom? If our ancestors wouldn’t have put their asses in the line of fire we would have still been centuries behind. If they would have said “damn why the hell should I care for what happens to the future generation, neighbours etc. Let me enjoy the life, girls/ guys. Why the hell should I go out of my comfort zone?” I dare not imagine where we would have been?? We have forgotten Joan of Arc, Madam Marie Curie, Bhagat Singh, Abraham Lincon etc.

May be things happened long long ago so our generation has forgotten ‘the duty’ and just remember ‘the rights’. Are we ‘the lost generation’?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Things less talked

Many of us are great admirers of people like Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus, Dr. Ambedkar, Abraham Lincon etc. When it will come to follow their paths many people might say "have you gone crazy that I would like to go through the same path they did?. It is not possible for me!"

Similarly most of the cases we always try to show the bright side of the life of any well known person which creates skewed perspective of life! The younger generation tries to copy and when they fall short of their targets they realize it was just a mirage and he/she wasn't given any balance perspective of the person. In case of Jesus also there are lots of controversies and now after so many child abuse cases surfacing around the globe in Western countries people have become disillusioned with the concept of church, its notion of opaqueness, notion of god as the supreme and his decisions about the human actions. People in time of need long to get support of god and all they are asked to do is to 'have faith'. Don't we think that it is ultimately the karma of that specific person, may be channelize through god via faith, which gets him/ her out of the situation of misery? In case of Mahatma Gandhi many people idolize him but don't recognize several instances of sexual misconduct which were brought into notice by recent articles

The notion of sexual freedom in our western countries has been more abused rather than responsibly utilized. Asian countries are following the example more rapidly than expected. Recently when an Iranian cleric announced that the earthquakes are caused by women overexposing their boobs to the surprise of many several women went in public that such thing doesn't happen by exposing their boobs and creating even a facebook group. Why have we become so mindless to pay attention at such events and even trying to create a media hype about it? As I had mentioned in my previous article most of the drug uses, sexual activeness is caused by 'mindless reactions'. Somehow I feel that many from the younger generation have weakened their self control to such an extent that they are unable to cope up with real life situations. One example which I may cite from recent news in India where 1) Two dutch girls where raped but later there was evidence that the two dutch girls enjoyed the company of the young Kashmiris (having photographs with kissing scenes) and even one of the victim told there was nothing like rape happened. 2) A Brazilian girl was raped twice by her landlord in Noida. Even though I was ashamed yet all this put the question in readers' mind about 'the truth' & 'the trust'!! Were the two girls as victim so weak that they couldn't not approach the police or why did the Brazilian girl didn't approach the police at the first instance? Our western countries' girls are portrayed as immoral & without character (through movies, media, pornographic material, real life instances etc.) so everybody tries to take a shot at them in Asian countries. They are exposed to undue attention. There are several instances which can be cited from colleagues' observations in Italy, Germany and a no. of other places. Recently when I had an interaction with a well learned guy who has traveled widely (an Indian) and owns a no. of companies didn't appreciate the mindless sexual drive of our western peers more so in the light of recent child pornographic cases surfacing in Eurpe, Australia & US (Why are we playing with the innocence of children?). A professor at IIM Ahmedabad, globe trotter and well respected in economics field, had warned almost a year ago to be beware of European girls. Still I feel that there are good things about Europe/ US, in terms of human relations, which must be brought out to show the world that all is not lost. My faith has strong basis through interactions with a no. of families & kids in Europe who I feel are as much Indian & value emotions as I might do.

In my view the notion of freedom and individualism which we so fiercely try to protect around the globe is a big farce! As a popular saying goes "no man or woman is an island" and most of the learning which we have is from our surroundings and the people around us. Be it Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad or any well known entity each were part of a society, dependent on it and also recognized it! It's time for our generation and even the older generation to think and use our minds rather than mindlessly following what the neighbor might be doing or the peers might be doing.

It puts a no. of questions in our minds about 

1. Our way of living
2. Parenting
3. Education system
4. Value of human relations (rather than just physical association)

and many more such things. Yet I have hope and hope many may also have hopes. I do as much as I can and hopefully find a no. of our young friends from Europe/ US/ India who wants to see a better world. I hope we will find some 'doers' rather than 'just complainers' to bring change for good!

With hope........

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Non Performing Knowledge Assets (NPKAs)

I came with this word/ idea after spending sometime as an entrepreneur and reflecting on my life post & prior being an entrepreneur. As a similar term might be familiar to people from finance background what we call NPAs (non performing assets). It means 'an asset' which is sub standard or doubtful or loss making.

In today's scenario what we have been seeing in education reflects the same. What most of us study becomes useless in due course of time. During our work we use less than 10% of what we have learnt. Companies like Google who have been unknowingly able to reduce the NPKAs have surpassed performances of many companies who came before. Doing something on one's own or following ones dreams gives ability to reduce these NPKAs. As a society we should promote adventure nature in today's youth with proper guidance. Creativity is the buzzword now but little people associate it with the ability/ opportunity to utilize one's potential to the fullest. Hope we are able to see things in wholistic perspective and increase the horizon of our thinking. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

East & West: Perspective from Discipline point of view

During my last two journeys and also by numerous interactions with international students I realized that one of the differentiating factors is discipline. I would classify the discipline in two parts - emotional & physical.

If you see the general Indian public they are some of the laziest bunch of people on the planet with little regard for their health. The greatest contrast is seen in policemen or many a cases with normal businessmen. There is lack of physical discipline though since last couple of years there has been an increasing trend among people towards walking & running. Yet Europeans or US nationals will beat Indians by a mile. Yet so much of physical fitness has failed to keep the countries out of red during the recession or during economic turmoil! Countries like France, Italy, Greece, Spain etc. have lack of financial discipline and even though each of the countries have low levels of population they have been finding it hard to manage. On the other hand India & China's growth is a matter of envy. What makes them click?

In my opinion it is the presence of emotional discipline in the developing countries. On an average most of the Indian males/ females will have 1 or 2 relationships while in west it is a norm to have min 4-5 relationships by the time a guy/ girl reaches the age of 25. This is just the case of morally upright westerners. The adventurous ones will have gone through numerous experiences and when I asked one such person he had forgotten the count even! One of the European students even told that Australian girls can sleep with 5 guys in a night! So it seems that it might be the European benchmark. Indian males will envy for sure but many in the cities are trying to catch up! It is worrisome and that is the point where people should use there mind. Human beings are not simple objects but the emotions differentiate them from machines and sense of larger thinking differentiates them from animals. As Buddha says we become what we think. Everything starts at the emotional plane and subsequently manifests in behaviors. During my first visit to Europe I realized that most of the people who are into smoking or drinking habit do so to conform or to gain acceptance in the peer group without using much of their mind. Similar is the scenario in case of making physical associations. Guys/ girls start with a noble view of relationships but experience cheating, lies etc. In great hatred to their such kind of partners they also start behaving in the same manner and thus the vicious cycle starts & continues. It emotionally rattles them and to suppress 'questioning in their minds' they turn towards physical exercises. It tires them and to some extent suppresses such questioning but during the course of life a stage comes when they no longer can suppress these and things go haywire. Many change their career tracks abruptly and some run towards countries like India - seeking peace & salvation. Italy with a population of 60 million has a president who is known for his sexual exploits and adventurs. People are made helpless by their own representatives. France with almost same amount of population has a president who has hard time managing his wife's/ mistresses' affairs. How will he be able to manage a country when he is busy managing his partners' affairs!! Similar is the case at many other places in Europe. 

People should understand that questioning is good which was promoted by many philosophers - be it westerners/ easterners. Also the sense of freedom has been abused in western nations due to lack of sense of responsibility. It is true even in Indian context yet more so evident in European context. It seems 'the lost generation' will take a long time to come to its' senses. I wish it happens before irreparable damage is done. W all share the one world and I feel as much European as Indian. I am doing my bit by contribution by writing and hope few others do their bit in making this world a better place. Amen!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The girl child in India

Many of us will be aware that ‘the better half of the world’ still doesn’t have proper support system and families in India & elsewhere still feel burdened by their advent in this world. I would like to start with one incident from one of my journeys. I was recently visiting to Gwalior (a former princely & popular place in Madhya Pradesh in India) where my younger brothers stay. Three of us (including one of my brother’ friend) were returning after a dinner [at about 8:00 pm and it was quite dark]. Suddenly we heard a girl screaming and saw a guy forcibly pulling the girl to the nearby main road [I later came to know that there was a vehicle there]. We became quite concerned as this part of the India has high poverty and there have been numerous incidents of girls being forcibly converted to prostitutes. I mustered the courage and held the guys' hand. I asked him to let the girl go. The answer didn’t surprise me much. He told that the girl was his wife and running away from him. He also told that the girl was mentally disturbed but she looked alright to me. The guy smelled of alcohol even though he and the girl were wearing pretty decent cloths. I didn’t let the guy go and insisted that he should let the girl go. He then told that the mother of the girl was waiting at the main road (which was around 500 m from the place where this incident was talking place. I asked him to call her. He started calling the ‘supposed mother’. An old lady with another guy came towards us. I was surprised & bit concerned about what I was doing - was I right or wrong. As the girl was screaming some people from the nearby houses also came. The girl got an opportunity to make herself stable and called police guys on the phone. The girl then started saying that the guy was forcibly taking her to his house. We somehow freed the girl but she didn’t run away! She didn’t refute the claim that the old lady was her mother. Suddenly two police guys appeared on a bike and when I told them of the situation they took the guy with him on the motorcycle. What surprised me at this instant was that the girl then started shouting again and telling the police guys not to take the guy. She started pleading the people to call ‘good cops’. More confusion! The policemen looked quite authentic with all the walkie talkies, uniform etc. Then I was struck by a fleeting statement “Isse phir shaadi kaun karega?” [Who will marry her later?]. When I saw who made the comment I was ‘ashamed’ to see that it was the old lady [I came to know that she was actually the real mother of the girl!]. Most of the people may had missed that statement but it is still resonating in my mind.

We left the place but with conflicting thoughts and several questions in my mind which still bother me.

  • Was it right to do what I did?
  • Wouldn’t it have been better for the girl to go with the guy as she will be atleast guaranteed a roof and security – even though the husband would have been a drunk? At least she will be protected from the hardships of the society which can’t provide sustenance to a lone woman rather she is subject to all kind of humiliating situations.
  • What would have been prompted a mother to take such a harsh decision? I have utmost respect for mothers, irrespective of nationality, and I can very well say it would have been one of the most difficult decisions the mother would have taken. A mother who fed the child from birth, provided food & shelter, took care of the child when it cried, cried and laughed with her, even feeding the child and not eating herself??
  • Did I commit a great ‘sin’ by considering myself a better judge of the situation? I was not the mother and had never interacted with the child!! I had not born the child and not known the happiness or sorrows of the life which both had shared? How could I have made the judgement?

I ask these questions more today as one of my cousin sisters is going to get married soon [barely around legal marriage age in India]. When I talked to her she doesn’t want to get married. Her parents have started looking for a suitable bridegroom. When I literally told my father if he has gone crazy to help them in this he explained me the society, the people, the hardships etc. the girl or the family might have to face and I have to say he is quite right. Many of us, who have spend last several years in cities, have less understanding of things happening in smaller cities/ villages. She couldn’t get the academic environment or exposure which I could get so she can’t sustain herself. Even if I come forward to support her she can’t be married at a later stage as Indian society is not so open about it. I feel a sense of impotence. Our society doesn’t have a mechanism to support or recognize the individuality of a girl. We remain aloof from the common populace by the so called ‘fast life’ increasing our needs and hence efforts to meet those ‘needs’. We think ourselves, people from best of the institution in the country, unable in managing our own lives so how can we do that for others.

When I was a kid, with lots of needs, I used to think I will become a very rich guy with s*** load of money and will change the world – mine as well as that of people around me. I now realise that even if I have the whole planets’ wealth I can’t do so. Money is not the solution of everything. ‘Proper’ education is – enabling an individual to be ‘free’ from all kinds of needs & dependencies. I feel now even closer to the goal of 'Sustainable Living'. Sharing with another human being whatever little has been given to us – be it education, money, happy moments, people etc. Sharing others’ sorrow. Learning the true purpose of life. Breaking the impermanent walls which we have built around our hearts us and ‘opening’ to the people of the world.

I ask for all those, who are as confused as me,

“Asato Ma Sad Samaya, Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya”

[From ‘non-existence’ lead us to ‘existence’, From ‘darkness’ lead us to ‘light’]

For inexperienced readers of Sanskrit explanation of the sloka above is at;topic=154973.0