28 August 2014

Her beauty cannot be measured by the standards of a colonized mind

"Her beauty cannot be measured with standards of a colonized mind."

Michelle NdegeOcello

"The wealth accumulated by Europe and North America are largely based on riches taken from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Without the destruction of India’s rich textile industry, without the takeover of the spice trade, without the genocide of the native American tribes, without African slavery, the Industrial Revolution would not have resulted in new riches for Europe or North America. It was this violent takeover of Third World resources and markets that created wealth in the North and poverty in the South."


"Sir, we have, as far as possible closed every avenue by which light might enter their minds; we have only to go one step further — to extinguish their capacity to see the light, and our work would be completed; they would then be reduced to the level of the beasts of the field, and we should be safe."

Speech on “The Abolition of Slavery” by Henry Berry, House of Delegates of Virginia, January 20, 1833 in the aftermath of the Nat Turner Revolt in 1831.
After this speech, “compulsory ignorance” laws were enacted as early as 1740 in South Carolina that barred most free and enslaved African Americans from a chance to learn.  By 1860, most southern states had outlawed black education. (via State of Black Education [.doc])
AMERICAN HISTORY AND AMERICA’S PRESENT. NEVER FORGET WHAT THEY WANT FROM YOU. THEY WANT YOU ON ALL FOURS LIKE AN ANIMAL. This is as crystal clear as it gets folks. The powers that be want us ALL to stay in the dark. If they keep us all dumb, they can feel safe. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Never forget that!
(via knowledgeequalsblackpower)

"Sometimes it was hard to express how much you loved someone. You said the words, but you could never quite capture the depth of it. You could never quite hold someone tightly enough."

- Diane Chamberlain, The Midwife’s Confession

"Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are you holding back? What are you saving for—for another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now."


Reason only control their impetus

                        -Carlton Simon

My marriage has been impulsive. That marriage should have been short-lived instead of the 23 years it spammed.

-  Joseph Barbera

You are never alone or helpless.
The force that guides the stars, guides you too.

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti 

"There is a moral panic in America over young women's sexuality - and it's misplaced. Girls 'going wild' aren't damaging a generation of women, the myth of sexual purity is.

The lie of virginity - the idea that such a thing even exists - is ensuring that young women's perception of them is inextricable from their bodies, and that their ability to be moral actors is absolutely dependent on their sexuality.

It's time to teach our daughters that their ability to be good people depends on their being good people, not on whether or not they're sexually active."

Undone by Hope  -http://undonebyhope.tumblr.com/post/26598119528/there-is-a-moral-panic-in-america-over-young-womens
Stream Cream - Jessica Valenti  - http://www.thestar.com/article/623495

" A good friend keeps your secrets for you. A best friend helps you keep your own secrets."
          -Lauren Oliver    (Before I fall)

"Don't condemn  sensuality. It has been condemned by the whole world, and because of their condemnation, the energy that can flower in sensuality moves into perversions, jealousy, anger, hatred  - a kind of life which is dry, with no juice.
Sensuousness is one of the greatest blessings to humanity. It is your consciousness. 
Consciousness filtering through the body is what sensuousness is"


via -  http://mentalalchemy.tumblr.com/archive

"It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars"
                                                               -Richard Evans



23 August 2014

My Dream. Your Dream. Our Dream.

Demonstrating leadership by, thinking what you believe, saying what you think, and doing what you say.

In 1985 two leaders from Bendix Corporation a leading American company, came visiting to our manufacturing facilities.They sensed that we wanted to achieve something outstanding in our field but could simply not describe it. Allan suggested we should aim to be a 'World Class Company'.

At that time no one even spoke of something so audacious. The concept sounded fantastic and next day we brothers met and discussed the concept. We adopted the vision to be 'A World Class Organisation'.

In the following week at a meeting of all our staff we made the announcement. Guess what? Our team just looked at us blankly. We were appalled, how could they not be excited about this fantastic vision? They were aghast that we should dream of something so audacious when we faced great struggles daily on countless matters big and small.

Thank God a brave man asked, "Sir, what exactly do you mean by World Class?" 

We brothers looked at each other and now we looked more confused than our staff. We had adopted a concept given to us by someone else, shot into action completely clueless of what our vision actually meant.

Returning to our office, we spent 3 months in discussions,  trying to figure out what that one statement really meant to us and to our people in which there were no doubts.

We finally concluded that as a business organisation we needed to find, retain and service customers profitably while providing value to them.

We adopted the philosophy; 
1. Look after the customers who are the purpose of our existence, by always providing them superior quality products and services, 
2. Look after the employees who actually make it possible to achieve things
3. Look after the shareholders and investors by providing superior returns on their investments
4. Look after the communities in which you exist and function in.

Now we called another meeting with our team. They listened and this time there was some more interaction. Even surprises and shock.

We mistook shock to be caused by the daring vision. In fact as subsequent private discussions with them showed that they thought we were mad.

Insane not because of the challenge before us but by our sheer audacity of proposing something so great while we were actually doing so badly on so many of the things that we wanted to change.
Hardly anyone believed us. It is then we learnt that the greatest resistance to change was 'Management Credibility'. They had learnt from our organisation and others where they had worked that managements say things without meaning them, rarely keep promises, and will only exploit you.
How could we convince them that we believed that the the interest of the employees and employers were one and the same and based on taking care of the interests of all stakeholders with sincerity?
Nothing seemed to work and now we risked looking like fools. 
Thank God, we had the counsel of several people and the most remarkable was our friend Nana Shahane.
Nana highlighted an important term used both for God, and father in Indian culture is 'Anna -Datta', meaning the one who provides us. Now rarely used but in earlier times even the employer was called Annadatta.
We learnt that you cannot expect people to give your their best if they feel uninvolved, disrespected, unloved and denied their fair share. We learnt that we had to shift from the accepted norm of highly exploitive capitalistic model to that of being a family. Not just any ordinary family but a well trained, disciplined, highly motivated continuously improving family working as a team to achieve our vision.
It took a couple of years to start winning trust, but once our people, our extended family members came to believe that we were sincere, our dreams became theirs. From leaders we became facilitators to successfully achieving a great dream. We doubled output with the passing of each year, seemingly impossible and incredulous growth.
The elders in the family also had the difficult and important task of maintaining discipline and fairness amongst family members. You have to be fair but firm, tough but tender and hard but humane.
You may ask if it is so simple then why so many people and organisations simply cannot implement this approach. Good things come from people with good and noble beliefs. Sincerity can be faked only for a while, because people easily come to see through insincerity rather quickly.
What goes around comes around. Many organisations and their leaders have grown physically, emotionally and spiritually distant from their own people. It is then not a family but a gathering of individuals only concerned about exploitation and increasing their individual wealth and power at all costs.
By engaging sincerely and respectfully with team/family members, nothing is impossible.

22 August 2014

Human Resources Destroying department

A survey of the most detested departments in any organisation will normally reveal four villains, Human Resources, Administration, Accounts and Security.

HR (Human resources) function and how to leverage it to make quality of work and personal life better.

No doubt, there are many talented and sincere people discharging HR responsibilities in some organisations. However in the vast majority of organisations HR people are disliked, often intensely, while they themselves bemoan the lack of appreciation for their contribution.

Right from calling candidates for an interview, selection, finalising the remuneration package, induction, appraisals, promotions, increments, work assignments, leave sanctions, training, career planning, the HR people have an important role to play.

Here is a real life example to highlight why the HR are not so popular
Mr. Rao was a committed and diligent employee who often arrived much earlier and stayed up later than official hours demanded, to take on extra workload and meet urgent requirements of customers. He was punctual and his bosses were happy with him. For his extra work he never asked for either compensatory leave or additional remuneration, he just did his duty as best as he could.

One day Rao's aged aunt had an accident and needed to be hospitalised. Rao asked for and was granted leave from work to attend to her. After his aunt returned home Rao would call on her every morning and evening before and after his work to administer his aunt her medicines meet with the doctor and the physiotherapist and take care of her needs.

A few days later, due to a political rally being staged in the city for three days there were massive traffic jams on the route Rao took to work. Rao was unable to get to his workplace on time and came in about 30 minutes late.
Rao was shocked to receive a communication from the HR manager warning him to be punctual and that he would be marked as having attended only half the working day for those three days for which he was late.

Rao was upset and angry. He went to the HR manager who kept him waiting outside his cabin for about an hour. Rao was now furious by the time he met the HR manager. He explained to the HR manager the situation, but to no avail. The HR manager told him that the situation was beyond his control and all he was doing was implementing the rules and that he was helpless to do anything. In fact Rao should be grateful that the HR manager was not pursuing disciplinary action against him. Rao exploded and told the HR manager what he could do with his stupid rules and stormed out of the HR manager's cabin.

The HR manager was upset that he being such a powerful man and a 'respected' person within the organisation could be spoken to in this manner. He issued a show cause notice to Rao asking him why action should not be taken against him for his temper tantrum in his office an act of indiscipline.

Rao went to his boss and explained the situation to his boss. The boss was sympathetic expressed his inability to take on the powerful HR manager since he was close to the big bosses.

Feeling dejected and defeated, Rao apologised to the HR manager, became listless at work and stopped caring whether the urgent customer requirements were met or not. He henceforth left for home at the scheduled departure time. He also started applying to other companies and six months later left the organisation, not before sharing his discontent with his co workers.

The end result was Rao had to start all over again in a new organisation to rebuild his career. The organisation lost a good and dedicated employee and lost quite a bit of business and goodwill due to unfilled orders. Rao’s colleagues hardened their views on management versus employees feeling and the HR manager got promoted.

Support functions particularly in corporate levels such as HR need to fulfil three functions,

  • Advice
  • Support 
  • Control. 

However it is normal human tendency to focus on the control aspects. It is a fact that while human beings being social creatures they have this compulsive need to dominate, exert power and influence over other people around them. HR personnel are rarely responsible for measurable organisational outputs and yet they are granted a large and disproportionately high level of power and authority. Power without accountability will lend itself to dictatorial tendencies.

Within my own organisation, it took us a pretty long time to figure out what to do things differently, to get our HR to be a positive factor in our organisation. This is what we did.

We always selected people for the positions in HR who had empathy. Empathy is the quality to put oneself in the other person’s shoes so as to feel what they feel. Empathy is a desirable quality for a manager but an essential one for a HR manager.

Many HR managers are recruited for their grasp of labour laws and ability to keep empliyees in a state of fear of management. This type of person is typically well versed in the law and confrontational in character. They normally bypass all organisational formal channels of communication and have a hotline straight to the top honchos.

Some key elements in our HR management was;
1. Respect for individuals
2. Have a clear vision of what type of organisation we wanted to run
3. Recruit right people and have clear organisation goals and objectives communicated to all team members (this included employees and associates)
4. Clear roles and responsibilities for various functions within the organisation and maximum effort to make communications and interaction between functions as seamless as possible. This was done by a process of mutual discussions with all people involved.
5. Standard operating procedures to guide team members on how to discharge their responsibilities and consolidated within a HR manual.
6. An effective appraisal system
7. A system where rewards are proportional to the results achieved and as an outcome of the appraisal.
8. Focus on continuous upward mobility for employees within the organisation
9. Growth of individuals while making sure they got constantly more productive.
10. Effective employee redressal system with a final option to meet and discuss any perceived injustice with the top man in the organisation.
11. Zero tolerance for favouritism, partisan politics or nepotism.
12. Celebrate success and reward people for outstanding contribution.
13. Continuous improvement and correcting any weakness immediately.

I know what many of you are going to say, yeah, yeah, yeah!, not everyone is a saint and what about discipline and punishment etc.

While we believed that people normally work for you and not against you, a sense of fear for unacceptable behaviour or performance also needs to be established.

We followed the 'hot kettle principle'. Our policy was based on the principle that if a person touched a hot kettle, three things would happen;
A. It will cause pain
B. The pain will be immediate
C. It will be predictable

My former colleague Mr. Abhik Sengupta now head of HR for Asia - Pacific for Tata Beverages used to advise, "be fair but firm, tough but tender, and hard but humane". This philosophy worked well for us.

It is our experience that employees are generally positive and want to do a good job.
It is the job of top management with the help of their HR staff to enable employees to do their jobs in the least hassle free manner rather than de-motivate them by misplaced beliefs and ineffective human practices.

Employees desire to get a good pay package in line with or somewhat higher than the competition. They want a chance to grow, and also very important is that they wish to be treated equitably and with dignity. However this is often too much for many top managements and HR staff to provide. In the end the organisation pays the price.

15 August 2014

India at 67

The further we travel the more we long to return to our origin. We have to step out to look in. After many years of travelling, visiting numerous countries and people, I want to return home. Not the physical home, but where my heart lies, to discover my country and people, and in doing so learn who am I.

A land and its people are best understood by its history, culture and art. The journey is meaningful only when made using the native language. Therein lies the problem for most of us Indians including me, even if they be moneyed, are in a position of power or influence. 

Our history has been rewritten and handed down to us by the former colonialists and perpetuated by an education system that is designed to glorify their achievements while heaping ridicule and shame on Indians. Yet we accept it all unquestioningly.

Our identity and culture has been grievously harmed by the systematic destruction of many of the components of our society, that made India great for millennia and attracted invaders in the first place. Our art and heritage has been stolen by the invaders and now adorn living rooms and museums across the world as trophies. 

Worst of all is our own mother tongue and our languages which are so rich are now shunned by us. We are incapable of or feel embarrassed to speak in Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil etc, lest we be considered country bumpkins. The mistaken notion that Indian languages and literature are inferior to the English language and European literature is implanted and stubbornly ingrained in our minds. Further this opinion is constantly reinforced by leaders, teachers and the media of our own country.

We are now effectively disconnected from ourselves and somewhat confused because we do not know who we are. We want to be like the Europeans who ruled us or the Americans to copy them blindly to adopt a culture, thinking working and lifestyles, which are often inappropriate for us.

I ask you, are we really free? I believe we are not free, unless we discover ourselves as real Indians

We are a continent sized nation, that has been adrift for a very long time. Populated by an amazing range of people with rich culture, who are not only intelligent but possess great talent.  A great future awaits us as Individuals and as a nation, we just need to find ourselves. In a sense to be reborn. To become truly rich in every sense if we choose to.

To rekindle our lost spirit, be materially and spiritually rich once again, it is essential that we respect, appreciate and acquire all that is beautiful, great and useful from other cultures and lands.

English no doubt has now become the internationally accepted language for science and commerce. No doubt, we must not only learn English and be proficient in its use, but must we forsake our own languages and hence lose the vital link with our culture and heritage?

Let us not hold grudges or condemn anyone. Past history cannot be changed, however a magnificent history can be created in the future, by being the best that we Indians have the potential to be.

I have already begun my journey and made some progress. I hope you have discovered or have begun discovering the authentic person and Indian in you. My friend, it is then that you can claim to be independent. Until then please forgive me for not congratulating you this Independence day.

It is a always better to be an imperfect version of yourself then to try and be a perfect copy of someone else.

02 June 2014

22 Things that we can learn from happy people

There are two types of people in the world: those who are happy, and those who are unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn't come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within.
 The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, smiling and content with their life. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.
  The question is: How do they do that?
  It's quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they ...
 1. Don't hold grudges.
  Happy people understand that it's better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you'll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

  2. Treat everyone with kindness.
  Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

  3. See problems as challenges.
  The word "problem" is never part of a happy person's vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

  4. Express gratitude for what they already have.
  There's a popular saying that goes something like this: "The happiest people don't have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have."
You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don't have.

   5. Dream big.
  People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don't. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

  6. Don't sweat the small stuff.
  Happy people ask themselves, "Will this problem matter a year from now?" They understand that life's too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

  7. Speak well of others.
  Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

  8. Never make excuses.
  Benjamin Franklin once said, "He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." Happy people don't make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

  9. Get absorbed into the present.
  Happy people don't dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they're doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.

  10. Wake up at the same time every morning.
  Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.

  11. Avoid social comparison.
  Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you're better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You'll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

  12. Choose friends wisely.
  Misery loves company. That's why it's important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

  13. Never seek approval from others.
  Happy people don't care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it's impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone's approval but your own.

   14. Take the time to listen.
  Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others' wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

  15. Nurture social relationships.
  A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

  16. Meditate.
  Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don't have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

  17. Eat well.
  Junk food makes you sluggish, and it's difficult to be happy when you're in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body's ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

  18. Exercise.
  Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

  19. Live minimally.
  Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.

  20. Tell the truth.
  Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others' trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

  21. Establish personal control.
  Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don't let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one's own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.

  22. Accept what cannot be changed.
  Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you'll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

My thanks to Harry Daswani for this piece.

27 May 2014

Knowledge without grace

One can choose their friends but not always their neighbours. With God's grace I have always had wonderful neighbours, that is until very recently.

A neighbour moved in recently to stay with her mother. She is a highly educated 'professional', but totally devoid of civility and possesses a bitter personality. An obnoxious person, she knows all her rights but is ignorant about her responsibilities.

A fascinating product of our current education and political system she is. Weaned on social and political entitlements and blinded by her 'professional knowledge', this was a good example of the new modern world we have been creating.

Knowledge without grace is both ugly and destructive.

Sharing and caring have been sacrificed at the altar of greed and 'professional' creed.

I try to give her a wide berth but it is difficult not to cross the path of neighbours especially when one lives in an apartment complex. Every encounter is dreadful and it is not difficult to appreciate why she has no friends. I felt angry initially, but now there is only pity.

On the bright side,  I am now even more appreciative of the many wonderful people that are in my life.  God bless my friends and neighbours.

15 May 2014

Song Unsung.

The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.
The time has not come true,
the words have not been rightly set;
Only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.
The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.
I have not seen His face, nor have I listened to His voice;
only I have heard His gentle footsteps from the road before my house.
The lifelong day has passed in spreading His seat on the floor;
but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask Him into my house.
I live in the hope of meeting with Him; but this meeting is not yet.

-  Rabindranath Tagore