Thursday, 19 December 2013

Lion Safari in the making in Etawah,UP,India

Sakkarbag Zoo in Gujrat as part of animal exchange programme between the zoos.The four lions (two males  and two females) were handed over to a ten member forest team from UP , which arrived in JUNAGARH Zoo,VJ Rana ,Superintendent at Sakkarbag told PTI.
                           Both pairs will be housed in the LUCKNOW Zoo for the next few days  before they are shifted to the breeding centre  at the upcoming Lion Safari Park at ETAWAH  early next year , he said .

Please read this news ,courtesy Business Standard dated December19,2013.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes  is an extraordinary childhood memoir  of its author Frank McCourt(August 19,1930-July 19,2009) , as he grew up from a five year old to nineteen years old.I read it second time recently, and was  moved , as much as  I was when I read it first time .It makes you" live" the poverty, powerlessness , struggles and hopes of Frank,his mother Angela and his brothers.It tells us how hope still, somehow emerges in a situation of total hopelessness.One reason why  this book is so popular is that it makes the reader realize  how lucky he/she is , to be able to lead a life which so much more secure and well provided.
                             I  had always wondered what made McCourt  choose the tittle of this book as Angela's Ashes.Are these the ashes that fall from Angela's cigarettes, or are these ashes  in the fireplace which she continuously stares at blankly?Do these ashes represent the weakening hopes and dreams of Angela for raising a healthy , happy family and wanting Frank to become  much more accomplished and successful  than only  a messenger boy ?The best thing is that despite all setbacks  and disappointments , her ashes are still warm(?)  about her dreams , which in some way prepare a mindset in Frank to save money enough to go from Limerick in Ireland to New York.Hovering between his indecision to leave for a better future or to remain in Limerick  in a small but secure job at post office  , he manages to keep his dreams alive and sails to New York .
                     I recommend you to read this very powerful and inspiring book .It impacts  its readers on all their senses , it provokes them  and makes them think  and feel  .

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Leadership and Change

             It is my firm belief that among all values of a true leader, courage is the essential and the most important value. This is a value which makes other values happen. Courage is the touchstone of leadership. Courage becomes hope and faith on one side and love on other side. The three Christian virtues of hope, faith and love are united in courage. Leading transformation needs courage and risk taking and over coming fear.
                                                 We must be the change we wish to see in the world"- Gandhi. Provide personal example. Throw your full weight on the side of change. You must wear your heart on sleeve so that all can see who you are, where you are coming from and where you are going. Never ask others to do what you are not willing to do yourself. Good example gives you the only real influence over others that you are likely to have. It also gives you the moral authority to ask for sacrifice.
    If you do not motivate others by  example, it amounts to manipulation. Good example is self- effacing. It does not draw attention to it self. 
                                               Leadership capacity involves
1-               Freedom of Self.
2-               Courage , confidence and Fearlessness.
3-               Competence.
4-               Integrity & conscience.
5-               Non-attachment /unconditional love
                                 In a transformation, change is in all senses and directions. There is physical/economic change, mental and emotional change and spiritual change. In other words you have changes in
1-    Hierarchy
2-              Structure
3-              Processes
4-              Systems
5-      People and beliefs
                                             Tools for transformation
(1)      Cross-functional teams and collective leadership.
          Breaking down of departmental barriers and empowerment of teams. (A cultural change)

(2)    Development of leadership Capacity throughout the organization by:
(i)                          Providing freedom for action
(ii)                       Instilling confidence through  discussion.
(iii)   Providing skills and competence through training & workshop.
(iv)                     Providing resources for change (A cultural change)

(3)   Change & monitoring of processes through ISO 9001:2000 standards. These standards represent international consensus to monitor in the best possible way those processes which influence quality & enhance customer satisfaction & performance. (A cultural transformation).ISO results in simplification, decentralization and consumer processes and gives continual improvement.
4.                HRD issues gain priorities
         Quick redressal of employee grievances builds self-esteem & energy of employees.
5.                Involvement of all employees
Employees are given meaningful work & active participation in change. It releases their energy for organizational purpose. Job mastery experiences release energy. Assign jobs according to abilities & skills.
6.                Internal Transparency
When employees do not know what is happening, they withhold their energy from organizational activities.
7.                Openness & accessibility
Ideas of (ownership) by all are incorporated into vision mission & transformation process, at every stage.
8.                Change in attitude of Employees
Two ways
(i)                          Presentation of analysis.
(ii)                 Arousal of emotions. Coercion can not produce change agents.
Repeated affirmation is essential.

9.           Change in design of products
Designs have to be in accordance with cultural values aesthetics, desires & needs of consumers. Designs must be changed creating an emotional relationship with people.
    10Other Supports
(i)                          Rituals, ceremonies, music, poetry & songs.
(ii)                       Active participation in community programs
(iii)                    Listen to role models & get emotional support.
(iv)                     Appreciate others.
(v)                        Apply Stress Reduction techniques.
(vi)    Participate in personalized management development programmes 

I am only one
But still I am One
I can not do everything
But still I can do something
And because I can not do everything
I will not refuse to do
The something that I can do
                                                          Edward Everett


Saturday, 16 November 2013


An excerpt:

"Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today i completed the reading of Knut Hamsun's Hunger.It is truly a great book written in 1895 when Hamsun was 31 years old.What a terrific book!It is semi autobiographical.It reveals what it means to remain honest while facing poverty and hunger.I started feeling smallness of my sacrifices for following truth compared to those faced by the hero of the book.
It raises the fundamental questions:what is pride?what is is insult?what is conscience?Is conscience a luxury?what is love for a poor man?How does your poverty affect love of others for you?What does starvation really mean?
No wonder it is one of the most influential books in the history of mankind."

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The line between home and work

In this age of internet , laptops and mobiles, it has become necessary to revisit the issue of drawing a line between work and home .I believe, it is essential to draw the line firmly, though it is not easy to do so .The line becomes fuzzy when we start talking about home offices and alternative work places.We are in a new kind of Mobility Paradox 
                        If you are in an office of public utility and your mobile number is in public domain , the chances are  high that your mobile will continue to ring at odd hours .The mobile has eliminated the role of private secretaries screening your official  calls.The spill over of official fatigue and worries chases you till you decide to put your mobile in the  silence mode  at some time in the evening.The border line becomes further blurred when you get mails in large numbers  on your computer from unknown quarters .If you respond to each of these calls and mails ,the slow fizzle of chronic fatigue , cynicism , negativity  is likely to set in till you have a burn out .And still you  may get a complaint from your boss  in the morning that you did not receive his call when he called you on your mobile in the late evening.The work has a tendency to spill over  for 24 hours a day.
                            Does this efficient communication internet and mobile , obviate the necessity of  meeting people in person ?NNot necessarily .People may not be satisfied with  your quick return calls.You are never free.
                 Lou Gerstner(former chairman of the board   and  chief executive officer of IBM  from April 1993 to 2002 ) had a habit of bringing suitcases of work home with him every night.But things have changed drastically since then .There was an era when people sought connections with each other, by moving around .We are now in an era where we have to decide when and where to disconnect  -both electronically and socially.We have to face this new Connectivity Paradox.There is no other choice.

Monday, 21 October 2013

All about Self-esteem

Do you care whether you are praised or criticized?Does a compliment make you happy?Does an adverse remark make you  unhappy?Do you have  fame , envy or admiration as your goals?If yes , then you self-esteem is coming from others .And that is dangerous .Why do you give others  power over you and control your mind and state of happiness?Your pursuit of happiness should depend on you alone , and on no one else.Don't place others  before your self.Be great , rather than wanting to be thought great. Donot lead a second hand life.Do not be a second- hander.
          Don't run after popularity . Give honest judgment to a friend , even if it is unpleasant .Demand a certain quality in people you like.Donot believe in fratenities , professional associations , etc.
                     Have a self .Respect your self .If you do not respect your self , you can have neither love , nor respect for others.Be true to yourself .Have robust  independence, an impeccable integrity and an enviable competence .Be fiercely independent.Never sacrifice your integrity  and your independence even for the best causes.Sacrifice of integrity or independence  can never be a virtue.The integrity of  your  creative work is of greater importance than any lofty endeavour.
                       Be competent .Before you can  do things for others , you must know how to get things done .That is competence.To be competent , you need to have love for what you do .Also the way you do your work .Your work done your way .Develop the habit of working meticulously.(Zero errors)..Know every part of your work.Do a thing for your own purpose.
                      Do you like to hold power over another human being?Rulers of men are dependent on their power.Donot decide for others.The man who goes after power is the worst second-hander  of all.
                        Do you share credit with others?More than that , do you share dis-credit with others.?Be clear that all credits and discredits are yours alone .Be the responsible doer.No one can really hurt you or help you .

 If you believe in the above , you will  have  some  wasted periods in your life.But  that is the price you pay.Donot give in when circumstances are adverse. Donot sell the person you love for money  or for popularity.Then I will be proud of you. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The art of Project Management ,Part 2.

Today(October9,2013;Wednesday),I had   one more opportunity to address the officers of Indian Forest Service ,  in Forest Training Institute , Kanpur,UP,India, on the subject of project management .I was told that about 10% of forest officers/officials out of about 13,000 get trained  on a variety of subjects  once in one year .This I thought, was inadequate .To my mind , every official has a right to be trained under a short duration training course, at least  once in a year .This requires up scaling of budget , infrastructure and faculty many fold .But it would be a worthwhile investment .One reason , why in India , government officials work much lower than their potential , is lack of training .Training inculcates the qualities of leadership and competencies.
                                             One very important concept to be understood is project life cycle.We must deliver on time .For this , we must start and finish on well defined times .The project has to be conceptualised/defined in a time frame , project planning must take place in a defined time period , execution must finish on time , and delivery of the deliverables must be made on time .In other words , the project life cycle must have a well thought and well defined time frame .
                                                While all stages of project life cycle are equally important , the project planning must need special attention .It has nine equally important aspects/parameters as follows:
2.Schedule/Time management/Delivery target time.
4.Human resources/Staffing .

The tools available with a project team are many :
2.Documentation .
4.Knowledge management.
6.Investment in capacity building and training.
Monitoring , control and compliance can be done trough some of the following methods /tools:
1.Steering committee/Budget Approval committee.
2.Process audit/Process improvement .
3.Due process.
4.Performance review/Oversight.
5.Plugging the Leakages.
6Project Closure.
7.Performance audit/Performance improvement.
             I was told that in China , a very large number of universities have started giving degrees in Project Management .But in India, there is not even a single university awarding a degree in Project Management.
Most of the departmental Training Institutes in states do not have ant training programme of training government officials on project management .It is such a glaring gap in the governance system of India.
                        A good,robust project management training can go a long way in improving efficiency, delivery and cos-effectiveness of our public development , welfare programmes as well as our governance .
                         I was happy to see overwhelming support to the idea of project management in public sector and government, among the audience.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Lion Safari and Eco-restoration of Fisher Forest at Etawah

 Lion Safari to conserve the Asiatic Lions (at present numbering 411 in the world) is being set up in the Fisher Forest Etawah.Fisher Forest has a total area of 2912 acres.Lion Safari is being established in 875 acres .An Eco-restoration project of 1000 acres of Fisher Forest was completed on October5,2013.In all , 153240 plants were planted ).What follows is a report of the event of October5,2013 published in The Pioneer , Lucknow in its edition dated October6,2013.

     - - - --- --- - --- ---

Lion Safari will boost tourism, development in UP: CM

Sunday, 06 October 2013 | Pioneer News Service | Lucknow | in Lucknow

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said on Saturday that the Lion Safari at Etawah would not only boost tourism in the region but also bring happiness and development in the state.
Addressing a huge gathering during inspection of Fischer Forest/Lion Safari project in Etawah on Saturday, the Chief Minister reiterated that the Samajwadi Party was committed to all-round development of Uttar Pradesh. Former Defence Minister and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam  Singh Yadav was also present on the occasion.  The SP supremo and the Chief Minister planted a sapling in the area. 
“We have planted over 1.5 lakh saplings in the Fischer Forest and the Lion Safari area spread over 1000 acres in Etawah. The progress of work which was started by Netaji (Mulayam) is now in full swing despite of various hurdles,” the Chief Minister said. Yadav Junior said that they were adopting international standards in developing the Lion Safari and it would be one of the world’s best wildlife sanctuary. 
“The uniqueness of this safari would be that while at other such places the animals remain in the cage and the tourists roam in the area, in the Etawah Lion Safari, people will move in caged paths while the lions and other animals will roam freely in the jungle,” the Chief Minister said. Yadav Jr said the area would be developed as a green belt with more than 11 lakh trees and this year the Government had fixed a target of planting five crore saplings here. The Lion Safari, which is mainly being developed to save lions, will also have a Lion Breeding Centre.
The Chief Minister said his Government would spend more than Rs 45 crore on developing the Lion Safari and Rs 30.50 crore of this amount would be utilised on setting up animal house, conservation breeding centre, veterinary hospital and other such facilities. He said of the remaining amount, Rs 9 crore would be spent on tourist promotion by setting up interpretation centre-cum-library, gardens, parking lots, watch towers, toilets and other amenities.
As per the plans, 50 hectares of the total area will be reserved for developing lion safari core, 300 hectares for buffer zone, 50 hectares for chain link fencing and 350 hectares for habitat. Highlighting the achievements of his Government, the Chief Minister said they were giving Kanya Vidyadhan, unemployment allowance, assistance under Hamari Beti, Hamari Kal, free laptops, and had waived loans of farmers and were providing free irrigation facilities. He said many more welfare schemes would be announced in the near future.
Yadav Jr said the state Government would open employment avenues for youth, particularly in the police force. He said the Government was trying to improve the power scenario. Speaking on the occasion, Yadav Senior asked the Government to expedite the Lion Safari work. The SP chief said the state Government had already laid emphasis on improving education and health systems.
“UP is the only state where education, irrigation, medicines and treatment of all chronic diseases are free, he said, adding that the state Government was making all efforts to improve the power scenario. The SP supremo stressed the need to tackle communal violence with tough hands. He said that Etawah, which was once known for dacoits and crime, was now known for its good environment, particularly after the Lion Safari/Fischer Forest. 
Yadav Sr lauded the Chief Minister for speeding up the pace of development in the state and said the Lion Safari would bring Etawah on the international map.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

My favourite quote by Gandhi

“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.”

Monday, 30 September 2013

wildlife week in India

Today is the first day of India's Wildlife Week .(October1-7, 2013).
Let us reaffirm our commitment to preserve ecology , biodiversity , wildlife , forests and environment .

Monday, 16 September 2013

Ozone Layer Preservation Day

Today is 16th September,2013(Monday).It is International day for Preservation of Ozone Layer.Ozone layer depletion was observed since the 1970s in two ways:
1.A steady decline of about 4% per decade in the total volume of Ozone in Stratosphere.
2.A much larger spring time decrease in Ozone layer over Earth's Polar regions, especially the Antarctica.
                        The consequences of Ozone layer depletion  are Skin cancer, Cataract , Lower immunity and damage to plants.Due to efforts of all the nations, there is some success in controlling the Ozone layer depletion .There is a clear evidence of decrease in the burden of Ozone depleting Substances(ODSs) and signs of Ozone recovery .But the long life of ODSs like CFC means that it may take another 75 years to go back to values like those of 1960s.In February 2013, Ozone hole over Antartica was the smallest in the past decade.So there are signs of hope.
                                   The Montreal Protocol was adopted on September16,1987.At present , 197 countries are a party to Montreal Protocol.India became a party to the Montreal Protocol on 17th December,1992.Under the Protocol,production and use of 96 ODSs was controlled .India was using 9 out of these 96.On December 19,1994,the UN General Assembly proclaimed September16 to be the International day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.It was first celebrated on 16th September,1995.Today is 19th  International Ozone Layer Preservation day.
                                   The nine ODSs India was  using in 1992 were:
1.CFC ChloroFlouroCarbon(3 types)
2.CTC carbon Tetra Chloride
3.HCFC hydroChloroFlouroCarbons
4.Methyl Chloroform
6Halone(2 types)
The seven major industries in which these nine ODSs were being used were:
4.Solvent sector
6.Metered Dose Inhalers(MDI)
7.Fire Extinguishers
India has successfully phased out the production and consumption of CFC,CTC,Halons on 1st January,2010, except in MDI.India has agreed to phase out HCFC by January1,2030.The same is the success story the world over.The success story of the Montreal Protocol gives us a hope that the nations of the world are capable of cooperation for the common good.It also shows that the governments , industry, civil society can work together for meeting other developmental and environmental challenges.
                                    However we cannot rest contented.In India, we have replaced CFC by HFC.But HFC as well as HCFC  are 10,000 times more potent than Carbon dioxide in causing Global warming .So we have preserved Ozone layer but caused Global warming .The Montreal protocol does not place any restriction on HFC.Also there is a huge cost of transition from HFC to Safer options ,which do not cause Global warming.The USA is trying to link Ozone preservation to Climate protection efforts.India has to take a view, as climate protection is covered under Kyoto Protocol.Next meeting of parties of the Montreal Protocol is due in November,2013 in Bangkok.We need to create public opinion to opt for policies that contribute to Ozone rich but less warm atmosphere.We have to keep our atmosphere healthy and pollution free ,in line with the theme"Healthy Atmosphere,the future we want"This is the message of International day for Preservation of Ozone Layer,2013.
                    I have been told that one out of every four citizens of Australia suffers from skin cancer because of Ozone hole in Antartica and Southern Hemisphere.If it is true,(I wish ,it were wrong) there is an urgency  to fight Ozone depletion , especially in Southern Hemisphere.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

What needs to be done for our environment?

This evening(September 7,2013;Saturday),I had the opportunity to attend  an international event on environment organized by the City Montessori School.It was attended by 65 teams  of students  from Nigeria,Sri Lanka,Bangla Desh , Nepal as also from various states of India.It was a delightful, meaningful and well-organized event.I have witnessed very few events of this kind , where the message was driven home to everyone present, without any doubt.I was asked to say a "few words".What follows is a summary of what I spoke  there.
                               Chief Seattle said:"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors.we borrow it from our children."Chief Seattle was the person after whom city of Seattle is founded.Seattle , the city of Microsoft,,Boeing and Star Bucks , is clean and green , as i found in my visit to this city in May this year.What Chief Seattle meant was  that we must have an attitude that this Earth is to be preserved and made cleaner and greener for the posterity.
                                      Environment has to be conserved by the government as well as by the citizens.Neither the government alone , nor the citizenry alone can do it .It has to be a combined effort.
                                    At government level , it is muti-departmental,multi-disciplinary  area.As many as fourteen departments are involved as follows:
4.Housing/town and country planning.
5.Urban development/Urban local bodies.
7.Non-conventional energy.
10.Panchayati Raj/Rural local bodies.
11.Health/family welfare.
12.Medical education.
14.Public Works,Roads, and Buildings.
So high level of skills of co-ordination are required to get results out of these fourteen departments.
                      in addition , there are a large number of laws and rules relating to pollution control and environment protection .One has to really struggle hard to keep oneself updated on these legal provisions.Some of the important Acts and Rules are as below:                 
1.The water(The Prevention and Control of Pollution)Act,1974.
2.The Air(Prevention and Control of pollution)Act,1981.
3.The Environment (Protection)Act , 1986.
4.The hazardous Wastes(management , handling and transboundary movement)rules,2008.
5.The Bio-Medical Waste(Management and handling)Rules,1998.
6.The Plastics Manufacture , Sale and Usage Rules,1999.
7.The Municipal Solid wastes(Management and Handling) Rules,2000.
8.The Noise Pollution(Regulation and control)Rules,2000.
9.The Batteries(management and handling)Rules,2001.
10.Energy Conservation act ,2001.
                      A third  aspect of environment is to work out a comprehensive environmental pollution index.Central Pollution Control Board  with IIT , New Delhi worked out a Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index(CEPI) based on air , water and land pollution .According to this              
 study,eleven most polluted  cities/industrial clusters/areas in UP:
Critically Polluted(CEPI is 70 or above) . 
1. Ghaziabad . 87.37.
2.Singrauli .81.73.
3.Noida . 78.90
4.Kanpur  . .78.09
5.Agra . 76.48.
6.Varanasi-Mirzapur . 73.79
These six areas are critically polluted.
Severely polluted areas;
7Moradabad ..64.71
8.Aligarh . .63.83.
9.Firozabad . .60.51.
10.Mathura . 59.98
11.Meerrut . 59.38
The state government has  got 52.5 million trees planted in the last 3 months and has developed 60 green lungs in 58 districts , with areas ranging from 50 acres in many districts  to 1000 acres in Etawah. It has decided to go ahead  for  declaring Pilibhit Forests as Tiger reserve.
               Here is my list for what a common citizen can and should do to preserve and improve environment .
1.Enhance the green cover.
2.Learn and implement three R's of environment:recycle,Reuse,Reduce.
3.Adopt an eco-friendly way of living and dying.Make green buildings, do rainwater harvesting, consume less water, conserve energy and practice ecological intelligence.
4.Say "Yes" to gender equality in all walks of life from education to providing washrooms .This will reduce population explosion.
5.Education has no meaning without learning to conserve and environment should be taught together.
6.Maintain highest standards of cleanliness and non-pollution.
7Respect diversity and bio-diversity.
8.Use eco-friendly transport,public transport and pooled transport.
What is needed is a belief system and an attitude about environment  in every person on the above lines.




Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Why I read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand periodically?

Why is it that we want to read some books again and again?More specifically , why I  feel drawn to read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand again , and yet again?Ayn Rand wrote this masterpiece in 1943 , and it still has the power to hold me in 2013,  70 years  after ,since she wrote it.It has the same freshness, vigour and capacity to uplift ,as it had when I read it for the first time in 1980.The only difference in the last 30 years is that I appreciate it more clearly and admire it more.Where does its captivating power lie ?It has had and will continue to have that staying power which only the classics have.
                                   Ayn Rand wrote this work in 1943 when she was 38 years  .She wrote Introduction to the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition in 1968 when she was 63 years  .In this , she asks:"Are there any substantial changes I would want to make  in The Fountainhead?".And answers:"No-and therefore I have left its text unchanged."In the same introduction she says that one of the cardinal reasons of The Fountainhead's lasting appeal is that it is a confirmation of the spirit of youth, proclaiming man's glory, showing how much is possible.
                                        The Fountainhead  has successfully created an ideal man in Howard Roark.He has a code of ethics and a reverence for himself and his values.He does not give up before the usual process of corruption, the way most people get corrupted in this world.He retains his values, his mind , his self-esteem, and does not abandon his values despite great hardships.He does not lose his fire.He holds on and moves on , knowing that the fire is not to be betrayed, learning to give it purpose , shape and reality He does not know what and where his future is,he marches on to realize man's glory and life's potential.He truly demonstrates the power of a  man.This sounds egoistic  but that is precisely the crux:The theme of The Fountainhead is that man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress.
                      I especially like the last para of the Introduction:"It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man's proper stature-and that the rest will betray it.It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning-and it is those few that I have always sought to address.The rest are no concern of mine :it is not me  or The Fountainhead  that they will betray :it is their own souls."
                     This power to inspire, motivate and ignite  for having and following complete loyalty to a code of ethics and having  an unflinching faith in the power of an individual, described in an interesting , romantic backdrop , makes us  read  The Fountainhead , again and again .

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Control in an age of empowerment by Robert Simons

This classic article was originally published in Harvard Business Review in 1995, but is relevant even today .While it is a fashion to talk about empowering the employees in an organization , the top management often chooses to exercise more and more control on the decision making .The two- control and empowerment- - are thus opposed to each other.In India,in public sector and government , there is a tendency towards ever increasing control, thereby resulting in less and less empowerment of the employees at different levels.This often suits the employees as well .In the era of hyperactive Auditors and Courts (through Public Interest Litigation),employees too,of late, prefer less and less powers of decision-making , so that the accountability for decisions and actions lies at the senior levels.This results in control-oriented ,dis-empowering system of management and governance .The ultimate sufferer is an ordinary member of public , who has to wait in-ordinately long, with little accessibility to actual decision makers.It certainly results in poor, corrupt and inefficient  governance.
                                    What is the solution?Does it mean that the employees are given more powers, with very little control at the top.Robert Simons answers this question very precisely and with great clarity.He takes a position that we need to harness every employee's creativity by empowering him or her .But it should be done carefully  with four levers of control, given below.
1.Diagnostic control systems  which define and monitor critical performance variables, with preset goals.
2.Clearly articulated belief and value systems.
3.Boundary systems  defining code of conduct and minimum ethical standards.(The rules of the game)
4.Interactive control systems by organizational dialogue to encourage learning.
                                 The balancing of empowerment and control is clearly the responsibility of the top management .In the government ,both at the centre and in the states , this responsibility lies with the senior civil servants and the ministers .How far they want to do it , and if they want to do it , how far they succeed in achieving this balance , defines , to some extent , the quality of governance .India, alas , is far away from the ideal level of balance.

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Story of a Nobody by Anton Chekhov

This novel of 122 pages by Chekhov is very interesting and powerful.This Nobody, who is also the narrator of the story(Stepan) , belongs to a terrorist group and manages to get the job of a servant in the household of a  government official's son(Orlov, also called Georgy Ivanych) , with a view to spy on the father.But the experience of staying in that house  changes the mission of this young Nobody .Suddenly , he realizes the purposelessness of life and becomes disillusioned with his mission .He gives up his mission.
                            Orlov is fond of reading new books.He falls in love with a married woman  , Zinaida Fyodorovna.She leaves her husband and moves into the house of Orlov.It is then that Orlov begins to avoid her , and goes on  for long periods to stay with one of his male friends , just to escape her.Finally , Zinaida discovers the truth , and Stepan helps her to escape from St. Petersberg  to Venice.
                           Zinaida becomes a cynic and  tells Stepan that there is no difference between Stepan and Orlov.Both had deceived her and abandoned her in their own ways.Stepan does bring her to Paris but she sees no future for her.Stepan first thinks that  it is due to her cynicism and despair , but later  realizes that  what she says has truth in it.
   Zinaida gives birth to a baby of Orlov(Sonya) , and dies during child birth (perhaps by consuming poison.).Stepan returns with Sonya to St. Petersberg. Stepan  realizes that he is not well , is old and is nearing his death .He goes to Orlov to discuss the future of Sonya.Orlov tells him to send Sonya to a boarding house , and also tells him to discuss things with the ex-husband of Zinaida.
                             Stepan realizes  observes and experiences  deceit, hypocrisy , illness and  old age , and it  changes his faith and his convictions in his mission .He realizes that very learned  persons  like Orlov could be mistaken in their beliefs, apparently  honest persons like himself  could actually be cheating others , resulting in  his cynicism and purposelessness .There is only  a sudden flash  about one possible purpose of life:  selfless love for another.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Plant a Tree



Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Successful Managers versus Effective Managers

I recently read the 1988 book called "Real Managers" by Fred Luthans , Richard M. Hodgetts and Stuart A. Rosenkrantz.It was based on empirical data from an extensive  four year  study on real managers.
                           For me , it was a paradigm shifting book.I thought , I must share its central idea with a wider audience through social media .I am sure , if you are a real manager , it will change the way you work .
                           The book has nine chapters but the real findings are given and analysed in chapters four and nine.Briefly ,it says that  the effective managers  have the distribution of their activities/time and resources  as below:
1.Routine communication :45%
3.Human resource Management:27%
4.Traditional Management functions:15%
Comparative figures for successful managers are;
1. . 28%
2 .  . .48%
3. . . .11%
4. . . .13%
The real difference is in the time and resources spent on networking .Successful managers spend nearly half their time and resources on networking while effective managers spend barely 12% of time and resources on networking .
The" Effective AND successful "spend time  almost on the same pattern as that of Effective managers .
                     ( Successful managers are those who rise to the top in the shortest time .Effective managers are those who really bring about the changes they want in the organizations.)
Do we want to be successful ?or do we want to be Effective and successful?Depending on your answer, decide to spend time and resources on networking .

Sunday, 16 June 2013

How to get filthy rich in rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

It was just a coincidence that I saw the movie The Great Gatsby when I was in Seattle recently  and read Mohsin Hamid's "How to get filthy rich in rising Asia  when I returned to Lucknow in India.I had read  Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby  about a few years  earlier, and finished it with some sad sense of ending .The novel , the movie both are great .Mohsin Hamid 's book did remind me of Gatsby, and at many levels , it evoked similar feelings in  .The book is about the rise and fall of the protagonist("You") in an Asian city..He succeeds in bringing about  the flavour of a  typically Asian city and people through his work.
                  Self-help books are very popular among  poor but ambitious boys and girls in Asia. Mohsin has shaped his novel  around this frame , and has created a riveting story of a poor ,boy based in a rural area of  rising  Asia .He  traces his journey of becoming filthy rich as a  corporate tycoon, controlling a  huge , sprawling business of supplying bottled  drinking water .His  quest  for wealth and love go together.The Pretty girl , on whom our nameless hero  has consistently set eyes till the very end , also learns how girls become rich and famous in rising Asia .Their paths cross several times , each pursuing  individual  ambition to be rich , still loving each other , till  in their twilight , they  live together , till  they  reach their end , one after another .There are only three persons to attend the funeral of the Pretty girl , and  later , about the same number for our hero.
              The book has 228 pages and 12 chapters.Each chapter  is based on a lesson in self-help;Move to the city;Get an education;Don't fall in love;Avoid idealists ;Learn from a master;Work for yourself;Be prepared to use violence;Befriend a bureaucrat;Patronize the artists of war;Dance with debt;Focus on the fundamentals;Have an exit strategy.The hero is "You". No character is named .The characters are addressed like pretty girl , politician , bureaucrat implying that there could be one or more such persons you may come across in daily life in rising Asia.But let us be clear :by no stretch of imagination , it is a self-help book .It is only that the protagonist is a struggling  ,ambitious  youth in rising Asia .The book is a first rate literary novel , based on this format of 12 self-help rules .The result is a book which is a thousand times more powerful than any self-help book could ever be.(In all honesty , I am not against  reading self-help books .I am not one of those who make fun of those who read self-help books .But literary books are obviously a class apart , and no self-help book can ever come near any of these .
                      The book contains many instances of sacrifice of morality when a  poor , rural youth is determined to be rich fast enough in rising Asia .These are dark sides of  system, which need the attention of all of us , young and old , men and women alike.We need to  provide in rising Asia clean opportunities  , incentives and systems for our youth to rise, earn  and achieve.
                            It is  an extremely well written book of fiction which stays with us long after we have read it. .I strongly recommend you to read it .

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

In Good Faith . .A journey in search of an unknown India

This book describes a journey across India by the author in search of her own identity and the identity of India she can identify with .During this journey , she frequently comes across people   whose behaviour and practices  challenge  the  commonly held  notions of what it means to be a Hindu or a Muslim in India.As a result , she discovers an India in far away , little places where  followers of the two religions find a common God, a  building  which is both a temple and a dargah. She discovers little islands  where  diverse, multiple religions coexist ,providing the evidence of unity and a  strong counter to fundamentalism .She discovers dialogues and voices which  indicate  that India has a tradition of unity and religious tolerance which goes back to many centuries.
                     The book "In Good Faith  . . A journey in search of an unknown India" by Saba Naqvi  , published in 2012 by Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd , has191 pages , and is a racy read .It is essentially a book  about an honest , unbiased and long search for identity .Having worked in Uttar Pradesh as an IAS officer for 32 years and in Moradabad as District Magistrate from 1991 to 1994, I found the author  struggling  to search for answers to similar  questions which often  have  occupied my mind  too.That is why , I find these accounts of journeys by the author very authentic.In a state which is often  plagued by the virus of religion and caste, this book comes like a fresh breeze.Such books inspire confidence between the two communities and must be read by all  the administrative and police officers who have a major role in the governance   as also the  people interested in understanding the traditions of inter-faith harmony and peace .
                                                            There is  always a scope for self-doubt when we see instances of religious intolerance .I quote:"The truth was that , somewhere along the way , I had  also begun to doubt the work itself.That's why it took me so long to give it a serious shape.Having collected the material over several years , I became a non-believer. . . . But somewhere down the line , I knew I had to keep some idealism alive.Over the years , i would periodically return to this project that , in some sense, represented an India I would like to believe in, a culture I wanted to survive.I struggled with my own scepticism about it being categorised as romantic mush to deem that it was worth my while and indeed, a valuable contribution to put down all the material I had collected and knock it into some sort of a sensible shape."I find this self -doubt very real and natural .In fact , this self-doubt  gives this book a touch of authenticity .A parallel self-doubt comes when as a civil servant I struggle with my scepticism and retain my faith that honest governance is still possible , when I see in  some  civil servants   glimpses of honest courage and willingness to pay the price for the cause of truth.The book by  Saba Naqvi gives hope and faith on several planes.
                           The author says that each chapter has the attention span of a journalist sniffing out a story and not the rigour of an academic .To my mind , this is one major strength of the book .Had it been written by an academic , it would have lost  some of its readability and impact .The book covers the journeys to places in  12 states  of West Bengal ,, Maharashtra,,Andhra Pradesh,Orissa,Tamil Nadu,,Kerala,,Rajasthan,Uttar Pradesh,Assam,Karnataka,Manipur,Kashmir and Bollywood. The book has rightly highlighted the positive impact of Sufi movement and Bhakti movement  on both Hinduism and Islam .
                               Despite all instances  strifes  and  communal  disharmony in India , the stories described in the book give "glimmer of hope".I recommend you to read this book to understand the  religious and  cultural diversity and unity of India.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

World Environment Day . June5,2013

Happy  WorldEnvironment Day .
Let us take a pledge  not to waste food.
 (June 5,2013)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Understanding the meaning of strategy

The word strategy  has always  appeared  to me  intriguing.I have been hearing and using this word for many years , with some hazy  understanding.Of course , I have   used  with some clarity words and concepts like  mission , vision , goals , projects and plans.But  strategy  has always appeared illusory.How is marketing different from marketing strategy,data processing from IT strategy, acquisitions from Growth strategy, cutting prices from Low-price strategy?
               We must not mistake strategic  goals for strategy.Strategy is not goal-setting.Strategy is not a belief in the power of positive thinking.Shared visions of successful stages  cannot be the basis of strategy.Vision and mission statements  also are no where near a good strategy.But then , what is strategy , and what distinguishes a good strategy from a bad one? 
               Richard Rumelt in his outstanding book"Good Strategy Bad Strategy . . .The Difference and Why it Matters" has thrown light on the meaning of strategy with remarkable success.At first, I thought  I will be able to read this book quickly .But as I progressed , I realized that it has been written with a richness and compactness that I had to pause , read, think and proceed often enough .But  finally after I completed reading this book , I was somewhat clearer on strategy than before.Published in Great Britain in 2011 by Profile Books Limited, it has 323 pages.

                    Richard Rumelt  was described by McKinsey Quarterly as a giant in the field of strategy.He is one of the world's most influential thinkers on strategy and management .
                    A strategy has three elements:a diagnosis, a guiding policy and coherent action .It responds to a high -stakes challenge.Diagnosis spells out the obstacles.Guiding policy is like a sign post, marking the direction forward but not defining the details of the trip.Coherent actions are  feasible co-ordinated policies, resource commitments, and actions  designed to carry  out the guiding policy.    If we fail to identify and analyze the obstacles and problems , we do not have a strategy.Instead , we have either a stretch goal , or a list of things we would wish to happen.

                 In many situations , the main impediment to action  is the forlorn hope  that certain powerful choices or actions  can be avoided-that the whole long list of priorities  can all be achieved .It is the hard craft of  strategy to decide which priority will take precedence.
            It is the strategy which transforms vague overall goals into a coherent set of actionable objectives.  A strategy coordinates action to address a specific challenge.Decentralized coordination is difficult.It requires centralization .But centralized coordination  fights against the gains to  specialization..In any coordination committee, coordination interrupts and de-specializes people..There will be costs of demanding coordination , because it will ride roughshod over  economies of specialization  and more nuanced local responses.Good strategy lies in specializing on the right activities and imposing only the essential amount of coordination.
                         The need for true strategy work is episodic, not necessarily annual .In this sense , strategy is different from planning.Planning for financial  resources, human resources, opening of regional offices are not strategy , though some people call these annual exercises "strategic planning".
               Motivation is an essential part of life and success, and a leader may justly ask for "one last push", but the leader's job is more than that.The job of the leader is also to create the conditions that will make that push effective, to have a strategy worthy of the effort called upon.The most important demand from our leaders must be the demand for good strategy.Good strategy  requires leaders who are willing and able  to say no to a variety of actions and interests.Strategy is at least as much about  what an organization does  not do as it is about what it does.     
                Strategies focus  resources,energy and attention on some objectives rather than others.There will be powerful forces opposed to  almost any change in  strategy.In such a situation , it is the task of leadership to  make or enforce hard choices.It requires will or political power. Creating a vision and motivation   is not the same thing as  making  strategy .Strategy is the craft of figuring out  which purposes are  worth pursuing and capable of being accomplished.Leadership in the sense of vision and motivation may be joined  with strategy in the same person , but they are not the same thing .                                         
                 Richard Rumelt is critical of  giving too much importance to shared vision , as has been done by Peter Senge  in his book The Fifth Discipline.(I have elsewhere written a blog post on The Fifth Discipline.).
Ascribing the success of  Ford and Apple to a vision , shared at all levels, rather than pockets of outstanding competence mixed with luck, is a radical distortion of history.
                    A good strategy  uses leverage so that we invest resources where it would make a large and more visible difference..This means choosing an objective that can be decisively affected by the resources at hand.   Another tool for a good strategy is  is the creation of a good proximate objective-one that is close enough at hand to be feasible..A proximate objective names a target that the organization can reasonably be expected  to hit, even overwhelm.
                      The third tool is  to prepare the design for coordinated actions.Effective strategies are more designs than decisions.A master strategist is a designer first and then a decision maker.Strategy is a design rather than a plan or choice or decision  because we need to emphasize the issue of mutual adjustment or integration /coordination .Strategy is a joint outcome/tradeoff between technolgy and design(integration).Good strategy is design , and design is about fitting  various pieces together  so they work as coherent whole.
         At the core, strategy is about focus..Most organizations pursue multiple goals at once , not concentrating  enough resources to achieve  a breakthrough in any one of them.
            Any good strategy  prefers high ground, which is harder to attack and easier to defend.                   This requires us to exploit a wave of change.We need to have a strategy that is in tune with the  dynamics of change.      
 Rumelt  asks  us to  cultivate  three essential skills or habit  to guide our thinking in strategy work:
1. Have a variety of tools for fighting our own myopia and for guiding our own attention .
2.Develop the ability to question our own judgment.
3.Cultivate the habit of making and recording judgments so that  we can improve.
In this regard, Rumelt mentions five intertwined  errors in human judgment and behaviour .These are  engineering overreach, smooth-sailing fallacy, risk-seeking incentives, social herding and finally inside view.
A good strategy  should come out  minds free from these errors .
                  Richard Rumelt knows  the meaning of strategy, what distinguishes a good strategy  from a bad one, and what one needs to do to develop a good strategy in work and life .The book  is extremely useful , insightful . I recommend you to read it , and if you agree after reading  , put it into practice .