26 March 2014

Indian Democracy - You have a choice

We are often reminded that India is the largest democracy, and we have the freedom to choose.

In the din of psuedo-secularism, psuedo-nationalism, and psuedo-honesty, there is unfortunately little to choose from.

I am an optimist and will therefore choose to vote for change. 
With change there is hope but without change we are doomed. 

This may the only time in 5 years, I can make my political choice felt by the politicians. 

I am going to vote, will you?

05 February 2014


Power hungry people always find a way to get to the top of the pyramid of power or die trying. They know how to use and discard people and manipulate levers of power effectively. Power is so intoxicating that people who acquire it become insatiable and typically want more and more until they themselves are consumed by power itself.

Democracy as it was born gave relief to the masses and a good shot at changing their means of survival and progress. It however requires that the people exercise wisdom in the choices they make. Democracy is unfortunately under siege. Instead of providing a better world and India, it has in fact mutated into something toxic called an 'ineptocracy'.

People are made to believe that democracy provides a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Nothing can be further from the truth. Leaving aside the rhetoric, the press briefings and speeches, it is now 'a government of the evil, by the cunning and power hungry for the benefit of a select few.'

History clearly shows that across the world across nearly all time that a group of people representing a marginal percentage of  the population are the 'haves' and the vast majority are the 'have nots'. The politician needs the money and resources of the haves and the voting numbers of the 'have nots', while promising to protect each group from the other.

Our current model of government evolved a long time ago and the result is INEPTOCRACY, which can be defined as; 

A system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

When a state reaches a position where approximately 50% of it's citizens rely on the largess of the state for their continued sustenance, the form of government becomes one of ineptocracy.

The least capable to lead are not fools, they are extremely intelligent and cunning with questionable morals. They just know how to game the system and devote their whole lives in manipulating the system. The only consolation for Indians is that this disease is not restricted to our country but even to most of the developed countries.

People making choices on careers and electing their leaders should do a bit of homework and then make informed choices on how to proceed. I for one, am not going to vote for people that will push us further towards an ineptocracy. 


What are the management lessons I can share with you?

An outcome of my many years of teaching and consulting with organisations and families, it is observed that there are 3 possible types of leaders, based on rewards and punishments. 

The first is the briber. This person is normally an incompetent person and has no other choice but to keep bribing the people to support him or her. This is not difficult to implement because one can always be gracious with someone else's money and resources. This is why the government of India under the UPA leadership has been compelled to spend Rs 11 trillion in past decade in programs of highly questionable value. The follower or employee gladly takes the bribes but often feels offended and alienated. When the sops dry up the followers leave and seek other alternatives.  A problem for bribers is that the followers or dependents become addicted to sops and soon grow dissatisfied and they need even larger doses of bribes. Such leaders are initially lauded but soon despised, and they are almost always never respected. 

The second type are the slave drivers or 'intimidators', the primary tool they use is fear. They so intimidate the followers that they do not dare disobey. They work towards crushing the individuality and collective identity of people. Once implemented this approach delivers very fast results and impact of change can be rapid. This is possibly what is happening in China. Unfortunately gains tend to reverse as soon as the fear factor diminishes. The performance of followers is also just above bare minimum so that they escape punishment. Many school teachers and administrations also use this approach. Such leaders are often hated. They demand respect but almost never get it. 

The third type are the true leaders, they use a blend of positive reinforcement while wielding a big stick.  They normally have a well thought out strategy which is communicated and excites their followers. The leader's dream becomes the dream and vision of the followers. This is based on educating, facilitating, supporting and encouraging followers. Performers are suitably rewarded after evaluation by a transparent system, and non performers are encouraged to perform better after due dialogue and analysis. The laggards are often cast aside and supported to survive but fall behind the main group.  This approach is the foundation and builds a meritocracy. Typically leaders adopting this style of leadership are hated and loved at the same time, but always command respect.

11 November 2013

Owning yourself

The Individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

-  Friedrich Nietzche

03 November 2013

Noble Dobri Dobrev

98 year old dobri dobrev, a man who lost his hearing in the second world war, walks 10 kilometers from his village in his homemade clothes and leather shoes to the city of sofia, where he spends the day begging for money.
though a well recognized fixture around several of the city’s chruches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying bulgarian monasteries and churches and the utility bills of orphanages, living entirely off his monthly state pension of 80 euros and the kindness of others.

02 November 2013

Why does love pass me by?

Most people say they are afraid of love, because you often get hurt in love.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Love cannot hurt, but unfulfilled expectations can cause much unhappiness.

Our disappointment with 'Love' arises out of two reasons, trading and possessiveness.
When we give with an eye on getting something back in return, it could be called trading. We give affection and 'love' wanting something in return. This is not love it is a deal. Deals are transactional and generally unsatisfying.

Love is a giving, an unconditional giving. You do not know why, but you simply give. An example would be of a mother's love for her child.
Love is a subject of the heart and not the mind and therefore defies explanation.
Love is not logical, it cannot be. That is why all sane people who we describe as normal, rarely experience love. You have to be a bit foolish and even more innocent to experience love.

Love is probably the greatest feeling one can experience, it is beautiful, no it's exhilarating. The other thing that ruins love is our possessiveness. The greatest disappointment in life appears to be unreciprocated love or our inability to possess the object or person of our love.

I love you so you have got to love me. You cannot love anyone else.
This possessiveness leads us to do strange things and demand impossible loyalties.
Placing absurd and unnatural expectations on the person of our love, we make them actually dull and ugly making them undesirable and therefore unlovable.

Anyone worth possessing, simply cannot be possessed.

What would happen if you took a beautiful flower and closed it into a box? The flower would wither and die very quickly. What would happen if you took the sweet water from a spring and put it into a bottle for a long time, it would become stale and smell foul. What would happen if you captured a beautiful bird and put it into a cage? It would neither have beautiful flight, nor spread its glorious wings nor will it sing beautifully as it did when it was free.

Love is a gift, and if it is true, seeks nothing in return.
Be like the sun radiate, give energy and bring life to all you see and meet and expect nothing in return and you shall transcend from an orbiting planet to a star and man-like to God-like

19 October 2013


Most of my friends and all of my family believe me to be eccentric, like a billionaire just without the billions. Come to think of it, the world can be an amazing place if you are a bit crazy.

The gift of life is so fascinating that it can be regarded as one giant laboratory. Everyday presents numerous opportunities to increase both my knowledge and appreciation of people.

I love life and all that it offers. Maybe that is why it is easy for me to smile and laugh. I often smile at strangers sitting in their cars and bikes stuck in traffic or at traffic signals. Here is what I discovered,

  • Most people and I connect for a few seconds and a smile grows on their faces, sometimes we exchange greetings, or even have a very brief conversation. 
  • Probably being more relaxed, passengers tend to be more interactive than drivers.
  • Toddlers and young children are the most receptive and invariably smile back. They continue to gawk, smile and wave until I move out of sight. 
  • Youngsters between 10 to 20 years of age are most reluctant to respond. They mostly look at me with the expression "I know people like you, who try to be friendly but are actually dangerous". This I attribute, to loss of innocence. They have begun to learn that the world is far from ideal and most adults cannot be trusted. 
  • Young adults and middle aged people are too preoccupied chasing tasks and problems in their lives to acknowledge the existence of humanity and life. They are mostly dismissive, because if you are being nice to them, you probably want something therefore you can't be of any consequence. 
  • The elderly are glad that their existence is acknowledged. Sometimes they get confused but most often they beam a smile, and are most chatty.
  • Government officials and people in expensive cars mostly have a scowl on their face. They invariably have a frown and almost always give me that look that says, "What in hell, is the matter with you?" I can't get it. If they had money and power why do they appear unhappy?

Here are some quotes on smile.

  • A smile is a curve that straightens things out.
  • A smile is the shortest distance between two hearts.
  • It takes 6 muscles to smile and 120 muscles to frown.
  • It is easy to conceal your grief but impossible to hide one's joy, a sign of a happy spirit.

The end of my experiments always leaves me with more questions than when I started. Maybe I am a lousy researcher, but who cares? I am celebrating life.
I realise that, I am not a human on a spiritual journey but a spirit on a human journey.

Keep Smiling

02 October 2013

'It is not your fault' - Mahatma Gandhi.

Today is Mahatma* Gandhi's birthday. Love him or criticize him but you cannot ignore him, nor deny his incredible impact on humanity. Based on the highest of principles, blended with a singularity of purpose, a purity of heart and sharp intellect Gandhi ji was and remains a powerful influence on many people. 

The Mahatma has enriched our world with his greatness, and humility.  His unconventional and yet truthful approach is an example of how to Channelise a vision into action to achieve great impact. 

A defining feature of a Mahatma (great soul)  is the humility and compassion for all beings and God's creation. Born out of great spiritual courage and truthfulness a Mahatma is always courageous in thought, utterances and deed. 
Often harsh in their truthful criticism,  there is never the slightest trace of malice in what a Mahatma says and does. 

A Mahatma would blame himself rather than anyone else for their situation. This is a hallmark of a great leader, who never blames others but accept ownership and responsibility of all problems.

Here is an example, for your learning pleasure.


Gandhi ji started his professional and mission for universal brotherhood and justice in South Africa in 1903. A Mahatma inevitably undergoes great hardships, but their spiritual courage prevails.

Gandhi ji had many supporters and one of his great admirers and followers was a German industrialist named Hermann Kallenbach. In 1912 Kallenbach bought eleven hundred acres of land near Johannesburg and gave them to Gandhi ji, who founded a settlement called Tolstoy Farm (Gandhi ji was a great admirer of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and they corresponded frequently.)

One day Gandhi ji, had to travel from Tolstoy Farm to Johannesburg for some meetings and the car that they used at Tolstoy farm needed to be serviced at the garage. He asked his son Manilal to accompany him to town. Gandhi ji instructed Manilal that while he attended the meetings Manilal should get the car serviced and then return to pick up Gandhi ji for the journey back home at 5:30 pm.

After delivering the car to the garage young Manilal decided to pass the time by going to watch an entertainment show, where he lost all sense of time. When Manilal had failed to arrive at the appointed time Gandhi ji had contacted the garage and had been informed that the car was ready since 4:00 pm and they were waiting for it to be picked up.

Manilal panicked when he suddenly realised it  was 6:00 pm as  the show ended. He hurried to the garage to collect the car and then Gandhi ji.  His father Gandhi ji would be waiting and Manilal thought it best to just tell an innocent lie. He told Gandhi ji that he was delayed because the garage staff could not finish the servicing in time.

Gandhi ji looked at his son with dismay and said; " That you must lie,  disappoints and deeply saddens me. However I do not blame you, it is all my fault. There must have been some lapses or deficiencies from my side and I must have made some mistake in your upbringing." "I will have to atone for my mistake  and I wonder what I must do?" Gandhi ji continued.

Manilal felt ashamed, and apologised. However Gandhi ji refused to accept Manilal's apology saying that it was not Manilal's fault and blamed only himself. After a minute spent deep in thought Gandhi ji declared; "I will punish myself by walking home rather than drive there. Manilal, you take the car home and I will come walk home." Gandhi ji immediately started walking toward home which was 27 kilometres away.

Understanding parents is normally a challenge and understanding a Mahatma almost impossible. Manilal sought his father's forgiveness and kept apologising profusely. Gandhi ji simply turned a deaf ear and kept on plodding along.
After walking for many hours all night long, Gandhi ji arrived home early in the morning with Manilal trailing in the car the entire way.  Gandhi ji did not complain about Manilal to anyone, and offered no explanation for the reason for the delay to the questioning residents of Tolstoy Farm.

The ashamed Manilal confessed to the worried residents of Tolstoy farm of what had transpired. Manilal was filled with remorse by his poor conduct, and vowed never to tell a lie again. From that day on Manilal devoted most of his life spreading the message of the Mahatma.


My thanks to the compassionate and talented Dr. Naresh Thukral who also happens to be my brother in law for narrating this incident to me.

*Why do we call Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi a 'Mahatma'? 
We are all just little souls 'athma' and tiny fragments of the one soul, 'Param Athma,' the Creator. With divine blessing an ordinary soul becomes a 'Maha Athma,' a great soul. Ordinary souls may touch you now and then but a Mahatma transforms you.