Home Sweet home!

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When do we really start missing home? What is home? Home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. In today’s world, we travel for work, holiday or to go and stay with your family, who have moved to different places from home, temporarily or permanently. We may go to see the seven wonders of the world, or we may go to travel to live in a small town or a village. We may go to a culturally advanced place, or we may go to a drab place. But after some time, we eagerly look forward to coming back home. Why does this happen?

 The thought process about home started when Deepti wrote,   after about 45 days in the US for work and holiday, that she was missing home!

Of all the places in the world, our home is the safest place in the world for us. We can do anything at home without the fear of repercussions. Our homes are our sanctuaries. We are kings and queens of our homes. We are undisputed leaders; nobody can touch us within the precincts of our homes.

We love everything about our homes; it may be a palace, or it could be a small condo. It could be a bungalow, or it could be a shanty. But this description is for others; for us, it is our kingdom.  But we should not forget one thing. The place where we live is home. Later on, with increasing prosperity, we may buy more properties, but those are not our homes. It is at this juncture things sometimes go wrong. We purchase properties for investment purpose, but we start treating them like home.

In our busy schedule during working days, we do not get time to go and visit these properties even once in a year. If the property is in another town, then it becomes even more challenging to manage. Beyond a time, as these properties become older, their valuation also does not increase the way we want it to rise, sometimes it diminishes.

But many people fall in love with such properties. I know of someone who had a property in a different town than where he lived. The property was a 40-year-old independent bungalow and had become too costly to manage because of taxes and low rent the property fetched. Someone suggested to him to dispose off the same. He had never lived there. His reply was, “Over my dead body!” It took some convincing by friends and relatives that helped him to make that decision. I asked him once about the same. His reply was, “It was my first property; it’s like the first child. How can one dispose off the same?” I did not tell that children also become old and move in life!

We should not forget that the concept of the home also changes. As we switch from studentship to professional work, we become independent of parents. We make our own home at some stage. I had written a blog on a similar subject sometime back.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/16th-august-1995-to-23rd-september-2018/

In this blog, I had written about concentric circles of our lives! When we have our family and children at some stage, we have our own home! The place which you called home in your younger days becomes your parent’s home. The same concept is going to be repeated when your children grow up, settle down and have their family. That is where the concept of ancestral home comes into the picture. In previous generations, people rarely travelled out of town for work; only girls moved to their husband’s home after marriage. The same property was home for many generations. But with today’s modern technology and way of living, the concept of ancestral home will be forgotten after a few generations. The reason for this is you had an ancestral home but moved to Bombay for work. Your children moved to London, New York or Timbuktu for their career. Some come back to India, but most don’t. The ancestral homes hence stop existing as a concept.

With increased mobility, days of ancestral homes concept is waning. But the home remains home for the nuclear families that get created in different generations. Probably we could say that longevity of the idea of home is reducing and ends with the parents who “created” the home.

Every home has its memories, its stories, the happy moments and the sad moments. I remember my first “home” which was at Dhobi talao in Bombay. What memories I have! Catching an early morning bus to go to school; it was G3 at 6.15 am and meeting Pradeep! Coming home by lunch-time; memories of listening to cricket test-match commentary of tied match between Australia and West Indies are still fresh in my mind. There was a rule at home not go to the Cross Maidan to play before 4.30 pm. But we used to sneak out under the garb of completing home-work at some friend’s place. Half the time my mother had to send someone to bring me back home from the ground though we had a rule that we should be back home when it started getting dark.

Our first home in Pune after marriage was the most fun part. Jaya and I were the first ones to get married in our group. Every day, some friends would barge in for a chat, food and whatever till they were thrown out. Some friends would come prepared to cook chicken; some would urge Jaya to plan on the previous day so that they could have Sabudana (Sago) Khichadi the next day.

Home is something which is a great leveller, makes everyone a family person. That person could be a famous Surgeon or a Scientist. She could be CEO of an organisation or a Minister in a Government. But at home, these same luminaries are converted into a different person. Their personality changes and they become mothers, fathers, uncles. They may also become sisters or brothers or aunts. My friends, this is the power of “Home”! Each home has its own Ramayana and Mahabharata which others rarely see or visualise.

We have all seen how people’s personalities are very different when they come from broken homes. They have no shoulder to cry on; they have nobody to share their sorrows. The home gives shade to the family like a banyan tree against the harshness, that is life; but when that tree itself falls, people seem to get exposed to the vagaries of nature. Home is an umbrella that prevents you from sudden rains. For us, home is only next to God. When a human is in turmoil, a person goes to a church or a mandir. It gives them mental peace and solace. You had a bad day office; you lost a big opportunity in business. You accidentally bumped your car into the one ahead of you! After reaching home and sitting in your favourite window or on a pet chair, your agitation tapers off.

Home is a powerful institution created by us, let us try to preserve it and not flog it! It can absorb many shocks but remember that this shock absorber cannot be just bought from a shop and replaced when damaged!

Deepti, you must be back home already; our flight just had taken off from Frankfurt today, when yours landed there on the way back to Pune. Take care and enjoy our dear Pune again!

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Sequel to Election-nama!

My previous blog was about Election results concerning the path taken by Indian Democracy post-independence! 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/status-quo-election-nama/ 

But I could not write more things on the subject, as I limit my blogs to less than certain number of words. For want of a better title, I have given the title to this blog Sequel ….”! I had written about the Khan market gang, Tukde Tukde gang and others who were dead against the Modi regime. Somehow I was very uneasy with their extreme discomfort. Why were these people so uncomfortable? What is the difference between these people and others like you and me? 

I read a blog by Shobha De in Times of India dated 26/5/2019.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/politically-incorrect/how-liberals-living-in-la-la-land-misread-the-asli-hindustani/

She has accepted in the blog that she is from this group of people who thought Modi might just survive or lose the election. ( I feel that gang is too harsh a word). She felt that people like her have now become irrelevant. She has also said that she had hoped that all of them would wake up on 23rd May, the election day, with a big smile on their face. Shobha is one of the very few who have accepted what has happened. 

Some of the reactions from liberals on the election results were

  • Don’t underestimate ‘intelligence’ of voters! They had also voted Hitler, Mugabe, & Marcos to power! They have also voted Trump, Putin & Erdogan to power! 
  • It is a wave; it was always meant to be a wave. The hate wave has gripped India for a while. 
  • I clearly remember 16 May 2014. Everyone was rushing to JNU Students’ Union office to watch the Lok Sabha results. I had a naive belief that @ArvindKejriwal would become PM, that India would reject a mass murderer. That was the first time that I felt like a Muslim in India. 

I have nothing against the different views that people have. One of my closest friends is dead against Modi. I must have discussed election results with at least 50 people known to me. They are all professionals. They have been there and done that! Out of these 50, only one friend was against Modi. But he expected NDA to get 250 seats and he was not against everything by NDA. On the similar basis, I assume that comments above were from a specific group of people, who are in Media, who are in public eye, who had  enjoyed the government jaunts of foreign trips with Prime Ministers and other ministers in “olden days”. (Translated to preModi days). They have also been saying how much Modi is wasting money on foreign trips by taking a jumbo jet with very few advisors; he should travel in a smaller plane! (Translates into reporters don’t get free rides!)  

The 50 people I am talking of are very successful people in life, intelligent, smart and what have you. They were the CEO’s and owners and directors. Does it mean that all these liberals speaking diagonally opposite are better and more intelligent than my friends group? No way.  

Another thing I noticed was the discussion on the exit poll day. On a Marathi channel, there were many reporters as experts. The exit poll figure swung between 237 to 350 for NDA. All the “experts were unanimous in saying that figure would be much less than 237 and could go to as low as 137! It looked as if they wished it to happen. The reporters are supposed to be in touch with the ground realities; they are the knowalls! How can all of them be so wrong? When such vital predictions go wrong, does it affect their performance card? Are they demoted because of such blunder in the forecast? Are they forced to take a salary cut? Such project failures would, in any other job, could lead to people being terminated. I have not read any such news about reporters. 

Reporters, Liberal experts, along with the opposition politicians, have proved one thing during this election that they did not have the pulse of the masses. When they use the word masses, they mean to say, idiots. Other than these groups, no one else  knows what is happening in India.  

I am again quoting from Shobha’s blog because no one else has the guts to accept that they failed to predict the people’s verdict miserably.

The toughest thing people like me — like ‘us’ — have to face up to is our irrelevance. And do so, while keeping that stubborn chin up! Do we have what it takes to look within and find out what changed when we weren’t looking? When were we busy trying to convince ourselves, the past five years were nothing but an aberration? How wrong we were! Not just wrong in our assessment but wrong about virtually everything else! We were clinging on to our nostalgia — our over-romanticised idea of India — while refusing to accept the cold, hard reality that India had changed. It wasn’t even India anymore! It had become Hindustan!  

What by the way was an alternative to Modi? Naidu who could not retain his government? Banerjee whose workers created mayhem during the election campaign? Banerjee who refused to meet the prime minister (as per her- the “Outgoing PM.”) who wanted to discuss what help Central Government could give to cycloneravaged Bengal? Mayawati who asked a question, “If we can have Ram statues all over, what is wrong in having my statues too?Lalu Prasad who is languishing in jail with a 13year jail term. Rahul Gandhi who proved his merit by the Congress score of 0 in 17 states, including losing at Amethi.  This opposition governing us, was the “over-romanticised” idea of the experts!

I will share with you how people think, differently. A family friend, an excellent mathematician, has different views. She said, “It is the pharma and weapon lobby in the world who made sure that Modi, the hawk, won the elections. Modi will make sure that their products will be bought by India as Modi will definitely go to war with Pakistan.” I do not argue with such brilliant ideas.

All these wise, bright, sharp people were hoping to get the alternatives that are mentioned above. Had this group of politicians won the election to form a government in Delhi, where would they take India? Consider each persons expertise, and we can imagine that they would have been squabbling, fighting all the time with each other; each state trying to steal the projects irrespective of  whether they were useful for India. Yes, the foreign jaunts of the reporters in Jumbo jets would have started. Politicians and business people could have continued to try and loot the institutions and banks without fear.  

All the “experts” sit in their ivory towers in Delhi. Has anyone travelled to villages in Assam? Has anyone seen the bloodletting happening in Bengal? Following a few TRP story of Gau Rakshak killers make these people think that these incidents are controlled from Delhi. Yesterday when all channels were showing Modi’s speech, one channel showed breaking news Video of some horrible beatings in MP. I am all for Exposés! But we should not forget that bad things have been always happening in the world.  There is no extraordinary increase in these numbers during Modi’s time.

Social media and TV has its pluses and minuses. When a bad incident is telecast repeatedly for TRP we feel that the world is bad. Same is the case with WA and FB. But what people actually have in their minds will be known only by direct contact with them. So let us hope that the media, the opposition, the gang all learn their lessons and become responsible and thereby more effective.  I also hope that they stay away from their romanticism and live in the real world! Amen!

996 or else!

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You must be wondering if I am going to start writing blogs in the digital language of 010101. Don’t worry; I am not doing it! But what is this 996? Chinese companies now expect their employees to work from 9 to 9, all six days of the week! For workaholics that sounds like great news. But 996 workaholics, by choice, are rare. People do work longer hours. But can that be the reason enough to work 996, all the time? I don’t think so. No sane person can follow that schedule. If you work 9 to 9, all six days of the week, where do have time for family life, time for personal chores? Time for enjoyment and time for quick picnics. Spending time with spouse and children on the seventh day is out of the question because it is likely, that one will sleep it out on the seventh day! Below is the status of 996 people on Sunday!

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How has this come up? Competition? Dictatorship? Fear of losing the job? Unrealistic goals? Or probably it is a combination of all the factors. Add to this, for international companies, with headquarters in America, and offices in Germany, Israel, India and China. Working with colleagues in different continents can play havoc on the lives of the people. In any organisation, the work is done by different teams in collaboration with each other. Hence there is a need for telephonic meetings regularly. But does it mean that 996 should be the norm? How longer hours will complete the complex jobs shown below, more efficiently?

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Jack Ma, the big boss of the Chinese company Alibaba, says, “The 996 schedule – which means working 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week – is “a huge blessing that many companies and employees do not have the opportunity to have.” He further says that if you don’t work this way when you are young, when are you going to work hard? The question comes to mind what the definition of young is In a group of 100 people if 80 members are young and 20 are not so young, then can you have different timings for young and the not so young? He also feels that such a work regime has allowed Alibaba to become a giant on the world stage.

Why do we work? To win our bread and butter, to learn new things, to go ahead in our careers. How many of us are bothered about the last aspect? The main thing is to achieve, is to steadily get our bread and butter, to pay our bills on time. Educate the children and pass life peacefully. Not everybody is looking to become highly successful in life. Would such people be interested in 996? Would they be able to sustain 996?

I remember about a young engineering graduate who was in the US for his master’s degree, for a couple of years. He joined a company in Pune, where the atmosphere was not 996 but hectic. It was a group of smart engineers working to do some great technical work. Three months later, he went and met his boss and said, “I cannot work with such a smart group of people; probably this is not my taking.” Later he started playing bridge and made his career as a professional bridge player!

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Is 996 feasible in the long term? I don’t think so. There is murmur going on, “family or ICU?” The 996 types of lifestyles are bound to create issues — even our 9 to 6, five days a week lifestyle is against the fundamental requirement of the human body. Before the industrial revolution, our lifestyle was based on nature. Sunrise and Sunset would decide the daily routine. 9 to 6, five days a week lifestyle also involves travel, business dinners and late meetings. So even this lifestyle is hectic. What made Jack Ma think that 996 is sustainable in the long term, I would not know.

Following two paragraphs are taken from a webpage

https://hub.packtpub.com/developers-lives-matter-chinese-developers-protest-over-the-996-work-schedule-on-github/

Working long hours at a company, devoid of any work-life balance, is rife in China’s tech industry. Earlier this week on Tuesday, a Github user with the name “996icu” created a webpage that he shared on GitHub, to protest against the “996” work culture in Chinese tech companies.

The 99icu webpage mentions the Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China, according to which, an employer can ask its employees to work long hours due to needs of production or businesses. But, the work time to be prolonged should not exceed 36 hours a week. Also, as per the Labor Law, employees following the “996” work schedule should be paid 2.275 times of their base salary. However, this is not the case in reality, and Chinese employees following the 996 work rule rarely get paid that much.

These two paragraphs indicate what is happening at the ground level. Can the developers come together and fight the system? I doubt, and it may not be possible even in the US as well as in India. But probably breaking laws in China appears to be blatant. Companies are getting away without being prosecuted by the authorities. The latest information says that 996 will be replaced by 10107! Ten AM to 10 PM seven days a week.

I understand the aspect of profitability in business. But will 996 achieve those numbers? It is evident that people are continuing this out of fear, and also because of no immediate options available. Years back I had met one engineer from Wipro on a flight. He said that his job was quite laid back, but every day he felt like changing his job. After office, he took 2 to 3 ½ hours to reach home. In 996 and 10107 the commute time is not even considered. I read on the website that someone changed residence and moved into not a very decent home, to reduce commute time.

Many companies are not into 996 or 10107, yet. But the number of hours put in plus the commute time makes it terrible. If both husband and wife are working, then the practical solution will be to look for jobs in areas nearby and move residence near the workplace. I know of a couple whose total daily commute time is six hours daily, minimum. One of them has a health issue and is required to exercise daily. But this is not possible due to commute time.

The Chinese colloquial term for a developer is “码农. Its literal English translation is “code peasants” — not the most flattering or respectful way to call software engineers. I call them white-collar workers on the lines of blue-collar workers. Mr Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra group, had tweeted, “I feel as if I am a businessman from Dinosaur times.” He made this comment after he read a statement by Uber CEO that Uber will never become profitable! I have a run very small business all these years; I am also surprised that Amazon has never made any profits, ever! I am told that these are 996 companies!

Mr Naraynamurthy of Infosys had sent an email to all Infosys employees to make sure that they leave office on time. But his instructions have never been followed in the spirit! I have discussed with people working in larger companies, especially the coders. All of them have said that they can concentrate on their job for not more two hours at a time. If 996 culture is followed how much will be the real productivity is anybody’s guess.

996? 10107? To me, none of these makes sense but what is the option? We had apartheid! We had slavery! The only difference is that compensations are high in the new bondage! Hopefully, there will be an organised movement against these systems, so let us wait and see, fingers crossed!

Harried because of Hurry!

Remember the Blackberry? Blackberry was the ultimate device fifteen years back. People could get to process their emails on the device. What more did you want? Waiting for child’s skit to start, take a peep into your emails, going for potty, oh that ultimate place to see your emails in peace! Wake up at 2 am for a pee, check emails and then reply to your colleagues in India or the USA or where ever. By the time you went back to sleep, it was 4 am. Oh! An hour to wake up to catch a flight. So, it went on. I am sure it still goes on. You were a proud owner of Blackberry after all.

How much time does it take for burnout to start? Two years, four years or five years! Then we started thinking that this is the only way to work and we have ultimately joined the bandwagon of stressed, tired, grumpy executives. Oh! I forgot about the app synced with everything, your calendar! You became a slave of your calendar and proud that most of your time in the office is blocked by meetings. I must mention the old cliché. The meeting is an event where minutes are kept and hours are lost! The beauty of your calendar is that it could be accessed by all your colleagues; it is like the modern open plan offices. Transparency is the name of the game. You have committed five different things to your customers, your boss and your colleagues. Yes, there is a small thing like wife’s birthday! On that day, you are lucky and have one and a half hour between 3 and 4.30 to finish your commitments. Ding, ding and ding! You are blocked for 3 pm by your boss, 3.30 by your HR boss, 4 pm by a cross-functional team. Of course, your time after 6 pm is free, as this is after office hours; your time cannot be blocked. By the time you are in the car …..

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Not all the stresses are harmful, and there is eustress which helps humans to better work — definition of eustress made by Virginia Miltary Institute is “a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being,” during positive stress (“eustress”), such as a promotion or vacation, feel-good chemicals called endorphins are released. But humans tend to go beyond and stretch the eustress too!

We all know why we work but time has come to think how we work. Is getting stressed out, day in and day out worth it? With every colleague going through the same grind of anxiety and stress, irritation levels go beyond limits. Now Blackberry is lost to time, and any smartphone can be used for emails. Now another new stress creator is born, WhatsApp groups. I know of various companies where WA groups are formed to send group or individual communications. WA is known as “Instant Messenger” so there is no hiding from the message. You can’t claim that you have not received it.

How should we work? As usual, we can start with something small. People have been following specific methods to reduce stress. Reducing stress does not mean that we should go away from work, but the atmosphere can be changed. There is a Swedish tradition of fika (it means coffee); they take fika break, go for a dose of caffeine and have a discussion. Going for a break makes a change in the atmosphere and reduces tension. In Britain, there is tradition to go to a pub nearby and take your small dose of Ale or a Beer while discussing serious matters. People have started going for a stroll in a group in the office garden and discuss things. These small changes are known to be great stress busters.

Talking of meetings, are so many meetings productive? Are any decisions taken? People take decisions swiftly when they meet in smaller groups. I had jokingly asked a General Manager in a large company, “Where is the time for you to act on decisions taken?” He smiled and said, “I hope to convey decisions to my colleagues who are expected to implement decisions. Of course, we meet three times a week to check if the implementation is carried out!”

Another great idea will be to involve families in picnics or some outings. When people socialise outside the work domain, chances of improvements in an interpersonal relationship are quite high. The mixing also encourages people to develop social relationships between families.

Formal work culture started with industrialisation, but it began in a big way in the last 50 years when large global companies were born. Every company had its methods. A vast organisation started a practice that every meeting should begin with a presentation. When this company started having trouble, the new CEO stopped this process. Some processes and methods are started for a specific reason, but many times they continue without people understanding why they started in the first place.

A classic example is that of a report generated in Solapur district in the state of Maharashtra. The report captured some information and sent it to the Queen of England. Somebody started preparing this report in the 19th century. The report continued for 50 years after India became independent, till 1997; a sensible officer stopped this practice. Since 1947 the report was generated and kept in a file! Many such processes are followed in private sector organisations too! Each such process adds to stress!

All modern organisations have a sickness of “do it fast”. Everybody is always in a hurry! The reason for hurrying everything is because a lot of different demands are made on people. Heavy demand on freshly joined or junior staff causes people to get crushed under the burden.  Hence emphasis should be shifted from “why” do something to “how” to do something. Unless this is done, people will not get the fulfilment of doing a good job and will always be anxious.

When anxiety and stress are removed from the work atmosphere, the efficiency of people goes up. They perform better and may show their real potential. In the organisations, there are many certifications required, and audits are always going on. With severe competition from global companies, new management techniques are used. As people remain anxious and dissatisfied, some rebellion is observed. Google had a tough time when staff protested about the treatment given to the female team. In Uber, one lady complained openly writing a blog on the same subject. She also explicitly said that the female population in Uber is going down drastically.

The hurry is the root cause of the most disappointing things happening in the work domain. Things do change fast in the world these days. But it is not possible to match speed with everything. We must remain with the nature in thinking. A child is going to be born after nine months, whatever you do to push for early delivery. The required “PUSH” starts after nine months!

Surprise Tool! Daily Routines & Rituals!

People take education; they train themselves in specialised areas. But few things impact your daily productivity, career path, and overall well-being as much as your routines. What daily routines are we talking about in this discussion? Each has his routines. I will explain what I mean.  

I write a little more than what I used to do in the olden days. I consider myself a bit of writer these days. In the year 2018, I have written 212,000 words as per WordPress site! In a day on an average, it is approximately 580 words or 1 ½ page. I published 180 blogs in 2018. As a writer, I have my routines set up. The routines are not right or wrong but these are my routines, and I follow them.  

Here is what I do. I do my fine-tuning, publishing and other entries related to publishing after I wake up early morning. Essential work takes about 45 minutes. When I wake up, I take my medicine, wake my laptop, heat water for drinking. I drink hot water with turmeric as per terrific suggestion by friend Jayprakash. It helps my throat. I  read what I wrote on the previous day; reading again aids in fine-tuning and getting into the groove. One of my rituals is to publish my blog at 5 am. Why five am? No reason, it is my routine. When I follow my routine, my published matter is generally free of errors, as my mind is fresh and helps me correct my mistakes. Will I make any mistakes if I don’t follow the routines? Will I be comfortable? I do not know. But If I am comfortable doing my work with a specific routine, I may not want to experiment.  

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You may write down your own routines/rituals as displayed above!

In the office scenario we check our documents, our emails, we have one on one meetings. We have group meetings. We meet with outsiders. We have telephonic conversations. We are not robots. We take some time to switch from one task to another. Just imagine that you have come from a heated interdepartmental meeting. Next on the agenda is a one on one meeting with a talented colleague. She may be thinking regarding resigning due to some complex issue. A good idea will be to take a five-minute break. It could be tea break, washroom break (maybe to wash your face). This break will bring some normalcy in your mind, and you will be able to handle the one on one meeting better. 

You may have observed routines followed by batsmen during cricket matches. Some twirl their bat, some walk five steps away from stumps and come back. All such routines help them to keep their concentration. But there are some smart bowlers like Ravindra Jadeja. They bowl their balls one after another in quick succession if a run is not scored. The hastening up helps the bowler to break the concentration of batsmen as they are not able to twirl their bat or remove the hand gloves.  

Our persona or personality is made up of what we repeatedly do. If you are a voracious reader, then people may call you as a well-read man; because during the chats, you can give quotes or examples from what you read.  

The rituals aid the routines that we follow! Publishing my blog at 5 am is a ritual too! When we follow some rituals, it sends signals to our mind that we are planning to start some new activity. After using Laptop for emails, before one on one meeting, we can put the laptop in sleep mode by closing it down. After coming back from group meeting before looking into your computer, you may have a cup of tea to indicate the switch over. I had said above that we are not robots and this is what it means. Our attention doesn’t immediately follow the new task. Some thinking and part of our attention remain stuck in the original work. 

Such rituals are not connected directly to any task. These are parallel to some of the religious rituals we follow in our life. On a specific day after a death in the family, we invite people for lunch, as a ritual indicating that the mourning is over.  

When we perform two different tasks, our thinking can be entirely different. For example, you were creating a document, and then you are switching to a one on one meeting with a colleague. These two tasks require vastly different thinking. Writing will need referencing of old documents, talking to a colleague, looking for old emails. The one on one meeting will require you to switch to the understanding of the specific issues being discussed, and you may need to check something with your HR department. Mental changeover, information collection and preparation in general for every event is different. We have to find our ritual that makes the transition smooth. 

Each of us has a way of doing things. Our body cycles are different. Some of us are morning people, and some are night owls. There is no point trying to wake up at four in the morning because the CEO of a successful company in the line of your business does so. “Early to bed and early to rise” is the right thing to say. But your work requires that you take calls thrice a week that ends at midnight! You may not be able to follow this idiom.  

So how do routines and rituals fit into the modern workday? And how can we develop ones that maximise our ability to do meaningful work? One might ask do we need these routines and rituals to pass the day? We have to understand that in the modern world days can be long, tedious. Sometimes these can be boring too! Routines and rituals can introduce some break in the tedious nature of jobs.  

I will share with you some different routines/rituals that people follow. 

  • I have seen many roadside kiosk owners, after preparing their first cup of tea to dump it on the ground. On checking, I was told that it brings them good luck. 
  • Churchill used to take a nap at 5 p.m. This was his siesta, a habit gained in Cuba, allowed him to work 1 1/2 days in every 24 hours. At 6:30 p.m. he awoke, bathed again, and dressed for dinner at 8 p.m. 
  • Some athletes, don’t change their socks throughout a small tournament.  
  • Some cricketers always wear their gear in a specific sequence.  

You are what your routines are, and these are specific to you! So go ahead and follow them religiously.

I found one slide about rituals about our life! I thought it was interesting.

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Moral Corruption!

 

Ghosn

Moral Corruption is the worst form of corruption in this world. When I read the news about the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, Brazilin born Chairman of Nissan Corporation, I was both surprised and sad at the same time.  

Carlos Ghosn, KBE born March 9, 1954, is a Lebanese–Brazilian–French businessman, who has served as the chairman and CEO of France-based Renault, chairman and CEO of Japan-based Nissan, and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors. From June 2013 to June 2016, Ghosn was chairman of Russia-based automobile manufacturer AvtoVAZ. Ghosn is also chairman and CEO of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, the strategic partnership overseeing Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault through a unique cross-shareholding agreement. The Alliance, which includes AvtoVAZ, has held approximately 10% of the global market share since 2010, and as of 2017 is the third largest automobile group worldwide, having previously been the fourth largest automobile group worldwide since 2010. 

 Nissan moved to oust long-serving boss Carlos Ghosn after accusing him of misleading investors about the size of his salary and misusing company assets for personal gain, marking an abrupt downfall of one of the automotive industry’s most feted executives. 

The usual question coming to my mind is why, why and why? Why did he do this? Money cannot be the reason, saving on taxes illegally could be the reason but that again means that he was trying to make more money, which my mind cannot accept. His package for 2017 was reportedly 7.4 Million Euros.  He was found to have misreported his earnings. Over years he misreported the earnings to the tune of US $ 88.70/ million. How much money does a man need? This question is similar to the title of the famous Tolstoy story, “How much land does a man need?” What makes humans corrupt? It is said that the power corrupts people and absolute power corrupts people absolutely! He had many enemies and people felt that too much power was concentrated at one centre. He brought the group of the companies mentioned above from the brink of bankruptcy! As a group, this is considered the third largest group in the world.  

To me, corruption is of two types where people take bribes to do some work (more corrupt amongst this group take the money and don’t do work!). Others are like Ghosn who have everything going for them but think that they can get away with anything. While doing unscrupulous things such people give many excuses. What excuse Mr Ghosn will give will be interesting to note. While he was doing such dealings, did he have the moral authority to question people reporting to him about malpractices?  As a CEO how did he guide the teams to create company policies against corruption?  Is it not hypocrisy? 

A friend was running many businesses. He was head of the family and came from a typical business trading community. He, his brothers and the family homes were raided by Income Tax sleuths 3 to 4 times. There would be headlines in the newspapers giving the family name too! But he took pride in this. He said people will know how much money they had! Once after a raid, he was in a great mood and shared with me details of how he made much more money by following incorrect business practices. His calculation included the tax paid, fine paid and bribes paid! He said the after bribes IT sleuths would not bother to see the real amounts of cheating! He proudly said that they made an additional 50% profits than what they would have made. Newspaper item be damned! I had gone to his office just after the latest raid. He was in a sombre mood, so I asked him what happened to his “I don’t care” attitude? He said that his mother had given him a piece of mind. She rightly asked him that when the family has so much money why do all this wrong stuff? He had no answer to that. I asked him, “How will answer HIM when you reach the pearly gates?” He again had no answer. He died a few years later and I hope that HIS immigration authorities did not trouble him too much; I am told that they do not accept bribes!    

Terms, Politics and Moral Turpitude can be treated as synonyms. Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States and some other countries that refers to “an act or behaviour that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community”. The concept of “moral turpitude” might not have precise definition, but it has been described as an “act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man. Very rarely do we see politicians who do not fit this definition.

Politics has supposedly started with a view of doing social work. Hundred years back we really had politicians who took this work as their life’s mandate, did everything as God’s work. But today’s politicians do the “Social Work” only for power and making money. We have hundreds of examples where politicians have made money that could last their seven generations. At least one good part is they do it openly and are not ashamed of doing these deeds. Moral Corruption has taken over the politics and it appears that the things will go from bad to worse.  

Once in a while educated and polished people do enter the politics. But to me today is sad in the life of Pune city. Vivek Velankar, social worker, an engineer by training, worked in IT area for 15 years and then took a plunge in social work. He was doing a good job and people like him are the safety valve to the conundrum called our liberal, democratic society. Such persons ask tough questions when needed and debates happen and many times right decisions are finally taken. Today he has joined the forces with a group of people in Pune, who feel that making it mandatory to wear helmets while riding two-wheelers is wrong. Unfortunately for them, the Supreme Court has given this ruling so nobody can change it.  This group argues that it is the concern of the individuals to decide what is safe for them. They will do whatever they want. But the statistics have shown that in fatal two-wheeler accidents at least 90% riders are helmetless. Many get major head injuries; ultimately it is a burden on the health system of the society because only so many hospitals can be built and run. Persons like Velankar should be helping the government agencies and the courts using their forum to make sure that riders wear helmets. If people like him take this awkward stand the unnecessary confrontations happen, police system is burdened to catch non-users. What is achieved? I used to drive two-wheeler to work in the late ’70s. All the time I used to wear a helmet! It was not compulsory then!  

We have read about morally corrupted people in public life! M J Akbar was supposed to be a thinking writer, editor and publisher. Sanjay Gandhi was another example; his aim was to get people thinking strongly about population control but the way he bulldozed was simply not acceptable! Trump giving sermons is a big joke; he is well known for his funny ways in personal life and business practices. A President of a large, developed nation like the USA using doctored videos for the political propaganda is simply not acceptable.

Life is full of surprises, you never know what you may find about someone, whom you think you know well! Of course, I do not know Mr Ghosn. But my friends’ attitude towards life came out into open after Income Tax raids. People talk of social work, donations, nation first and all such moral things but real life when their mask opens up, you only feel surprised and sad! How much money does a man really need? Maybe I am too naive! But one thing I know, how much land does a man need! It cannot exceed 6’*3′!

 

 

          

I am the best!

Our Tera Firma is full of smart people. In last 50 to 70 years the innovations, evolution of technology has gathered momentum which is far swifter than what happened in previous 2000 years. This has happened because of the people who besides being smart, innovative were humble too or may be some of them were not! They knew that any idea that becomes popular may easily get pushed aside by a better idea or a product. Maybe some of them hardly had any choice as one can’t stop advent of new things especially in technology area. 

Digital cameras is a classic case of the  inventor  being  flat  footed.   Digital  cameras  were  invented  by  Kodak ,  the  pioneer  in  cameras  and  films.  They  invented  the  digital  camera  but  apparently  forgot  about  it. Later Cannons and   Konicas  of  this  world  just  blasted  Kodak  out  of  business  by  bringing quality, reasonably priced digital cameras in the world in large volumes. By the time Kodak woke up it was too late! They went into bankruptcy. Now these same digital cameras are being included in cell phones. These cameras in cell phones, are becoming better and better. So, what is the future of digital cameras as we know them? Honestly, it is difficult to judge but is it possible that digital cameras will come with a SIM card in future or we may have cell phones with better and better cameras. I am not talking fantasy. Recently I read that Jio, Mukesh Ambani’s company is bringing out Laptops with SIM cards with the idea of always being connected. Then do you need WiFi? I don’t know what this will do to the current market conditions. However, there are already cheaper hotspot devices, with 4G, available in the market. For a fee of Rs.400/ per month this hotspot can be connected to 10 devices. Then will we need SIM card for an individual Laptop? This is how the technology is changing swiftly. All the current and new players in the market will have to come up with their own variations to ween away customers towards their technology!  

Electric Vehicles, especially cars, were considered as niche products in the market and maybe people thought that they were competition, at US $ 100,000/ price, to high end cars like Mercedes, BMW and Audi. This was only a couple of years back. Besides Tesla, other car makers are also showing nimbleness. They have already come with their own EV’s and going strongly in bringing EV’s in mass production.  The other car makers already know how to manufacturers millions of cars, so once they master Electrical drive train technology at a competitive price, things will change drastically. What will happen to today’s drive train industry? We don’t know. But there is a good chance that this industry will become sunset industry. Maybe 20 years? I have had a discussion with couple of friends who are running allied industries in auto field. They are worried and are already thinking in terms of change over. Their nimbleness will help them. But a few others are still saying that EV’s is a passing fad! For their sake, I hope they are right but my mind tells me otherwise. They are “I am the best” types.

We see similar case in Indian IT industry. Our IT business was started by doyens of IT industry. They have done a fantastic job of bringing India on world IT map. Indian IT business grew by leaps and bounds and has created technology culture in India. They also created large number Indian millionaires and now billionaires. Their contribution has helped India in other sectors! They have made India confident too. But during last few years there have been signals, that this model of service providers is not going work for a long time. Indian companies need to go up the value chain. These companies on Nasdaq are officially described as “Providing technology consulting, application, system integration and engineering services” that means these are service industries. In India, they call themselves as software  companies.  It is with this false nomenclature they have started thinking that are software product companies.  They started the culture of people sitting on bench, as per demands of their customers. For those who don’t know the meaning of “sitting on bench” this is what happens. The customers ask the service providers to ensure that additional 20% people are assigned to the project but they have no work. If the project is of 2 years duration,  then   these 20% folks have no work for two years.  What culture have we developed? Should we not be going away from this method? 20 is a substantial % to be forced to remain idle. This according to me is poor management, in crude language run by bean counters. Is profit the only motive? What about the career of 25/30 year old young people? Once they get used to this life, they would be happy to remain idle, if possible, all their life!

Once there was a meeting between a doyen of IT industry with CEO of an American company.   The American company is a world’s top end product company employing 5 thousand people   where as the Indian company employs  1.5 lacs people.  Out of 45 minutes meeting the doyen talked for 40 minute and the CEO for five minutes. Both their turnovers are same. Doyen never felt it necessary to find out how the same turnover is achieved with so few people. He must have got same opportunities to talk with many such people world over but probably, “I am the best attitude” has kept the thought process where it was ten years back. I hardly read any news about this company trying to go up the value chain. Attempts made by a new CEO were brought to null by the doyen with his “Expert” knowledge! In such fast changing world, even a year or two of sluggishness, can put a company under severe strain; but maybe these “Limited” companies are “personal limited” companies even though share holdings of the doyens are low. Going up the value chain, what is that? I know how to run this company. “I am the best.”

All the best to Indian IT industry and hope better sense will prevail at some stage. I have seen enough small companies which have made software products and are up the value chain. Typical case is “Tally”. They have made an ERP suitable for India and millions of copies have been sold. Quick Heal is another company that comes to mind. Their security products have become well known. For both these companies their Profit/Turnover per employee is pretty good. If these smaller companies can do it why all the service giants  cannot do it? They have mountains of cash reserves. They don’t know what to with it. Is it the proverbial  Ostrich’s head in the sand?