Thursday, 30 April 2015

A case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

I  had gone  to Cross Word , Lucknow  to buy a good book by an Indian author but ended up in buying this book by Mohammad Hanif about the  plane crash which killed   President Zia ul-Haq  of Pakistan.I wondered how it could be a book of fiction when it dealt with a historic fact .I came across this excerpt from  one of  Hanif's interviews where , when asked  why he chose to fictionalise Zia Ul-Haq 's death, he replied as follows:"Like all young  reporters,I was like ,this is going to be my big story,and I started working on it.After a few months,I realised that there was no way I was going to get to the bottom of of it.There were layers  and layers and layers of deception and cover-ups to cover the other cover-ups.Then it occurred to me that I would just make up my own facts.If no one was willing to tell me who did it,then as a fictional character,I'll raise my hand and say,"Well,I did it". and I'll write a book about it.And so, basically,it was  a failed journalist's revenge".
                                The book derives its name 'A case for exploding mangoes' from the episodes described in chapters 29 to 37, which involve a  mango party thrown  on Pak One,the plane which carries President Zia ul-Haq , American Ambassador Arnold Raphel ,General Akhtar and many other Generals.,and which finally crashes ,resulting in the death of President Zia and all others on board. .Mangoes are a gift from All Pakistan  Mango Farmers Cooperative."And for today's lunch , our host is the most respected Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Akhtar"

Monday, 20 April 2015

Adventures of a Bystander by Peter F. Drucker

It has been a slow read.I could read these 336 pages in 33 days, with an average of about 10 pages a day .Drucker has managed to introduce some interesting and fascinating  characters in this book.It is interesting to read the memoirs of a man who knew first hand Freud , Henry Luce of Time -Life -Fortune, Buckminster Fuller,Marshal  McLuhan,Alfred Sloan and FD Roosevelt. 
                  The Bystander sees things  neither actor nor audience notices.He sees things differently from the way actors or audience see.He reflects , and reflects not as a mirror reflects,but  as a prism does via refraction .The chances are more that a bystander writes more objectively and adds  those aspects  in his narrative which the actor himself may not have noticed.
                    In the chapter The Monster and the Lamb,Drucker  raises the question as to how we should deal with an evil like Nazis.Evil operates through the evil doer, but it also operates through the rest of us.There are among us great many trivial men of great evil , and very few Lady Macbeths.Men must not treat with evil on any terms-for the terms are always the terms of evil and never those of men.Man becomes the instrument of evil when he thinks to harness evil to his ambition(as was done by Hensches , the Monster);and he becomes the instrument of evil when he joins with evil to prevent worse.(as was done by Schaeffers,the Lamb)..But what about the sin of indifference when one refuses to bear witness when"They crucify my Lord."?Drucker asks us to pray to God to deliver us from evil , and leaves it at that.(Perhaps, like a true Bystander.)
                          In Ernest Freedberg's World,Drucker writes:"It was my job as the subordinate to make the boss effective, and not my job to reform him. . ."And more,"Still, though it lingered on ,the civilization that Freedberg,Parboom and Uncle Henry represented is gone or going.Our society has shifted to seeing symbols as real;the symbols have substance while the objects they represent  are mere shadows. . . Reality is created by manipulating symbols;history is made by staging" media events. . .writing grant applications has become the most honoured of the liberal arts Is  the ultra-nominalism that treats  symbols and images  as ultimate reality, and people and things  as shadows, still so" innocent" and innocuous when it has become the perception of the great majority?"
                       In the chapter       Henry Luce and Time-Life-Fortune , Drucker says what Luce might have said:"I do not care who shapes country's policies;let me shape its vision."Luce  did shape  country's vision through these three magazines.
                           Marshall McLuhan's most important message is that technology is an extension of man rather than  just a tool.It is not man's master.But it changes man and his personality, what  he is and what he perceives himself to be.It changes what man can do.Also , Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan exemplify the importance of being single-minded.The single-minded ones,the monomaniacs, are the only true achievers.
                                 In the chapter The Professional:Alfred Sloan  , he quotes Sloan:"You tell us what you think is right.Don't worry about who is right.Sloan also attached the highest importance to the decisions about people , about placement of people.Sloan  regarded it his duty not to have friends at the work place.You have to be impartial and must not even give  the appearance of having favourites.
                      What made people like Martin Luther King  was not just their intellect ,their scholarship and their uncompromising dignity.It was their integrity.It was the integrity out of which    Martin Luther King arose, the integrity that gave the Negro leaders their inner sovereignty and moral authority, not only among their own people but also in white America.Drucker brought out very powerfully the the role of integrity as the ultimate source of power and leadership.What a valuable lesson from a Bystander.
               I recommend you to read this book for the  valuable insights that only a sharp observer like Drucker  could  give.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

What is wrong with U.P. Rules framed under The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act ,2009?

Why have the provisions of The  Right of Children  to  Free and Compulsory Education act ,2009  remained broadly unimplemented in U.P. so far, despite the fact that  it came into force  on April 1,2010  duly  notified by Central Government? What is wrong with us in this state?Why  have other states  gone far ahead than U.P.?
I have identified the five major areas as below:
1.The rules authorise the district Basic Shiksha Adhikari to  prepare a list of eligible disadvantaged /weaker students and allocate these  students to different schools which have the duty to admit these students .This centralisation is not only time consuming and inefficient .It  has the potential to  result in large scale corruption and malpractices.Why cant we  provide for parents applying directly to the schools , with  copies of  requisite certificates.?Only when private schools do not act  or respond, the official machinery should intervene.

2.The second important area is regarding the inadequate compensation to be paid to the private schools when they accept to educate the children from the disadvantaged /weaker sections.At present , it has been kept at Rs. 450 per student per month.This is much lower than the actual expenditure per student per month  in government schools, as any simple calculation would indicate.Why the government has chosen to disregard the provisions of law and deliberately kept it low, is not  clear.Perhaps , it is a case of indifference , perhaps a case of bonafide mistake .In either case , it needs to be corrected post haste.

3.Thirdly , we need to encourage private schools to provide better infrastructure, better  paid teachers , better equipments  than are available at government schools .This implies that government   should give a free hand to the private schools to fix the fees that they  can charge from the students.Only this kind of revenue model will encourage the private schools to implement the Right to Education Act , in letter and spirit.
4. Fourthly , the government must not artificially bring in  the concept of municipal wards while defining  the radius of one km (for primary schools)from the residence of a disadvantaged /weaker section student.The Right to Education Act does not recognise any ward for  its implementation .
5.Last but not the least .If there are more than one private schools in the neighbourhood which can give admission to the students of the disadvantaged sections ,to which  school should such children be sent?It should not be left to the fancy/discretion  of a government official ,or even to the parents of children .It should be decided strictly by the shortest  distance , because that alone is the most objective  parameter.
                If  these five categories of  issues are  addressed in fair, just and objective manner , we shall be doing a great service to the children of Uttar Pradesh .The question is :who will do it and after how much time?

Thursday, 16 April 2015


What is branding  and why it is important? When Google appeared on the internet scene, it was just  a search engine.When people used it as a search engine  product , they found it a better , faster and more useful product.They began to trust the Google brand which delivers faster and better information online.When Google launched a new product like Google plus, people were quick to try Google+ , because they trusted  Google brand .This is how a brand gets built and becomes different from a product .It is a name people trust.
                         There is no doubt that the quality of your product is important.But only quality does not make your enterprise successful.The world will not come to your door just because your product is of a super high quality.You need to do marketing , and branding .
                     Some brands are mythical .For example,James Bond, Barbie , Wizard of Oz are mythical brands.They have the scope for a sequel , prequel , a story and a spiritual or religious connection with community.Such mythical brands are not just about products ora  bundle of facts.They create a story with a growth , mystery , promise of a heroic outcome and  endorsements from celebrities or authorities.A brand can turn out to be mythological accidentally but can also be created  mythological intentionally.Not all mythological brands guarantee success.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Exhibition of paintings and pictures

It was a very pleasant  and enriching experience for me  to inaugurate the  exhibition  organised by  Ms. Rubeena Beg , Secretary ,State Lalit Kala Akademi.U.P. on April7,2015(Tuesday) at Lal Baradari Bhawan,Lalit Kala Akademi,Lucknow.
                     The two artists whose creations were on display were  Sri Deepti Prakash Mohanty of Varanasi , and Sri Subir Roy of Lucknow.The paintings of Mohanty  mainly related to the ghats and streets of Varanasi.The photo pictures of Subir Roy related to  Lucknow,Tribal areas near Vishakhapatnam and sand dunes of Jaisalmer. , Goa ,and Hooghly.Mohanty's paintings  showed an artistic use of colour and imagination .Roy showed  life and death in different artistic forms.It was all uplifting and beautiful.
                   I realised how artists bring out the most beautiful,the most lofty and the most real in a manner which remains with us long after we have watched the paintings and the pictures.
                      I thanked the artists and the organisers for giving me and others this beautiful experience.