Wednesday, May 25, 2011


क्या रंग दर्द का होगा?
ज़र्द, सफ़ेद, भूरा...
तेरे तो,
गम का रंग भी
गुलाबी लगे पिया

क्या मन
बिरहन का होगा ?
उदास, बेजान, बेनूर?
तेरा तो हिज्र भी
रूहानी लगे पिया

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jobsworth, Tata and the Indian Work Ethic

Actually, this post is about none of the above. Its just triggered by a mind map that had the abovementioned stops. Early in the morning, i was considering writing a post on the professional Blog "5 Consulting Myths: BUSTED". Then i read THE Tata interview in the paper, where he has accused Brit managers of Jobsworth (a word i learnt from a similar article a few months ago) , and one of the lines struck me particularly : "Now things are better. Now no one leaves at 5, and we have bosses who call for meetings at 5." I went in my head "Hullo??!" One of the Consulting Myths i wanted to bust was "more hours = more work." Fact: An Employee is someone who can sabotage your project, while getting paid for it.(the sabotage, not the project, though you might think you are paying for the project).
And then i thought, Why is it that we Indians think nothing of taking work home? Where, in the first place, did this magical figure of 8 hours come from? A little thinking answered that - most probably, from the Industrial Revolution. It was not possible to measure your productivity on the assembly line, so we measured and said "Spend at LEAST this long at work" and over time, that magical figure became "Spend At most this much time at work." Way back then, there were supervisors whose only job was to ensure that you do spend that time working, work was easy to see and monitor (your hands either moved or they didnt) and it was ok.

And then i thought, "How did we measure performance before the Industrial Revolution? What was the traditional Indian way of measuring performance?" Then a story came to mind - of Jayadeva (the author of Geeta Govinda) using 2 lamps on his desk - one for his work, and the other for meeting personal guests. "Ohhh... even way back then, it was assumed that one would bring work home. Indians!"

And THEN it struck me - in the Vedic period, we identified so much with our professions that our most basic social and religious identification - the much maligned VARNA system, was based on what? The PROFESSION of the person!! The teachers and the knowledge workers were the Brahmins, the warriers were the Kshatriyas, the traders were the Vaishyas, and the menial labour people were the Shudras. Our work was not just what we did, it was what we WERE!

In Sanskrit, the word for duty and religion is the same - Dharma. It takes some commitment for a civilisation to actually do that without even thinking of it. While that might explain how India manages to play the Phoenix over and over again, there is another side to it. It also explains why most Indians just dont understand why people have to spend time away from work with their families.

Performance Management in Ancient India
Was simple. An astrologer( Raj Pandit) was judged by how well he predicted the future, not by how many hours he spends at the Court. A farmer was judged by the crop produce, not by the no. of hours put into the farm. The mathematician was judged by the quality of his writing, not by how many years he put into the research. The Minister was judged by how well he advised, not by how much he attended court. The trader was judged by his wealth, not by the working hours of his shop. In short : In almost all knowledge efforts, results were rewarded,not effort, and most certainly not hours at work.

The Indian Concept of Work Life Balance
You see, the family was completely involved in the work. it was a family profession. The children followed the father's profession, and since they had to be trained early, the entire family was also a work unit. Which means that there was no concept of a family life separate from work. Couples were hired to work together, and together they stayed. When children were born, they were inducted as early as possible too.

And that, Mr. Tata, is why 5 o' clock meetings are not ok. This is not the Vedic period. Indian companies do not do Family Days. Families are not a part of the profession or work any more.

And last, but not the least: Lack of Planning at your end does not constitute crisis at my end. 8 hours a day is not too little time to work and bring a company out of the financial mess.

Disclaimer: I am not in his shoes. Perhaps they pinch really bad for him to take a stand like this. I have never before heard him be vocal about something like this.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day..

I have known my mother a long time.. i have noticed
The creases on her face
for many, many years..

Today, i realise
That i cannot describe
my mother at all..
Because you cannot describe
The Pacific Ocean
Or the Universe
Or a phone call on your darkest day
"How are you beta?"

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sandwich every bit of criticism in 2 layers of praise

When i first read this one liner, over 20 years ago, it appeared absurd, even funny. Because obviously, it was the natural thing to do, wasnt it? Why would anyone put it down as advice?

But the one liner stuck in the head. and later, it turned out to be one of the best pieces of advice i have heard and internalised. And like all elementary things that children do as a matter of course, i realised that a lot of adults do NOT do this. Over the years, from being a natural thing to do, it has become a conscious act of will, at times, even become a thing to be done for its own sake. But not once, has the advice failed one. It ALWAYS works.

  1. The credibility of the review goes up. When a review has both pros and cons, a lot more people trust the review.

  2. The person tends to not get defensive. This is the biggest advantage of this approach. Since you start with a compliment and end with another compliment, the receiver is not defensive. It helps.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Middle East Democracy

Am i the only one who finds it curious that:
1. ALL the Middle East unrest happened so concurrently.
2. They were able to mobilise so many people in such a short time.
3. They were able to mobilise so much logistical and financial support so quickly - in almost no time.
4. Most of these "revolutions" start nameless, with the name of a mob, and dont get a leadership face until later, and yet, they seem to be remarkably well directed?
5. They get military support from NATO, no less, in a jiffy?

That all of this coincides with the worst period in US domestic economy, a time when there is exactly ONE economic threat to the US - the cash rich, low debt middle east?
That all of this coincides with the time when the President is grappling with BIG internal issues and his ratings are at all time nadirs?

On the Osama death that was announced earlier today: Am i the only one who finds it weird that all the stories come with no pictures at all? Not even pictures of the mansion that was ambushed? When the Iraqi dictator was captured, it was all over the place.. the pics, the works.. how come its different this time? maybe its too early to be curious.. so i will wait..

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Navtej Bharati's poem..

ਤੂੰ ਜਦੋਂ ਬਹੁਤ ਸੱਚਾ ਜਿਹਾ ਹੋ ਜਾਨੈਂ
ਸ਼ੁੱਧ ਬੋਲਣ ਲਗ ਜਾਨੈਂ, ਫ਼ਿਕਰੇ ਘੜ ਘੜ ਕੇ

ਸਿਹਾਰੀਆਂ ਬਿਹਾਰੀਆਂ, ਵਿਰਾਮ ਚਿੰਨ੍ਹ ਲਾ ਕੇ

ਮੈਂ ਡਰ ਜਾਂਦੀ ਹਾਂ

ਓਦੋਂ ਮੇਰਾ ਜੀਅ ਕਰਦੈ

ਤੇਰੇ ਚਿਹਰੇ ਤੇ ਥੁਹੜੀ ਜਿਹੀ

ਮਿੱਟੀ ਮਲ ਦਿਆਂ

ਨਛੁਹ ਲੀੜਿਆਂ ਤੇ ਛਿੱਟੇ ਪਾ ਦਿਆਂ

ਤੇ ਤੈਨੂੰ ਕਿਤਾਬੀ ਜਿਹੇ ਨੂੰ

ਅਸਲੀ ਬਣਾ ਲਵਾਂ

a poem by Navtej Bharti (Canadian Poet)
My take: Kitabi jahe to dar nahi lagda.

Someone please translate..

Mampi: thank you for sharing this.