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Friday, April 30, 2010

We shall make it

I have a hunch that India shall present a spectacular show during the forthcoming commonwealth games. Things now seem to be moving fast and am sure that the speed would continuously accelerate in the coming months.

Connaught Place seems set to revive its old glory. The stadiums and other facilities are fast attaining completion and even the railways is now fast putting its act togethor to present the stations and services in a remarkably improved shape.

A system that is not very conducive for deliverance can also deliver provided the will is there and this time certainly, the will does not seem lacking.

The show will be spectacular, and if India also manages a decent haul of medals, it would be the icing on the cake, a cake that would be savored by the entire population.

I am now keenly awaiting the games, with pride of course.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why react on everything

I fail to appreciate why most of us react on whatever happens around them and wonder whether it is necessary to do so. Perhaps life becomes easy if one does so because then one does not have to think. The environment does the thinking for him and he just becomes a tool in the hands of the environment.

Missing "proactiveness" is the cause of worry. A missing conviction amongst most of us that even chaos has a beautiful way of settling down if left untouched is also a cause of worry. But it is easier said than done. Our inherent trait to poke our nose into every affair and to pass value judgements on everything under the sun, primarily to look intelligent in the eyes of others is a cause of worry.

When shall we Indians, especially the species of the sarkari variety start appreciating that their job is not only to react on all occasions but also to be proactive and have a personal developmental and growth agenda. Organizations decay in the absence of proactivity.

Cleanliness is Godliness

I often wonder how Corporate headquarters, especially in the sarkari sector, most of which have abandoned any semblence of cleanliness or orderliness try to make their subordinate offices neat and efficient. Such claims or efforts, in my opinion are not even worth the paper which they are written on or issued. Only exceptions, so far in my career, have been experiences with the Rail Bhawan and now, the Vallabh Bhawan. These two office buildings present quite a non-sarkari appearance and an equally appropriate working environment. They definitely smack of efficiency, whether they are or not is besides the point. A visit to the Rail Bhawan surprises even the hardcore Delhiite. The corridors, toilets and public areas are definetely a cut above the rest of the Bhawans. And even the archives are a class. One can locate a file or a noting made almost fifty years ago. But, a dekko of most of the sectional offices and officers chambers leaves one dazed, mainly because of the glaring contrast between the public and the private areas. Well anyway, the mandarins of the Rail Bhawan definitely deserve a pat on their back for their efforts in keeping the building clean and smart. I also clearly remember my visits to the Paryaran Bhawan which houses the union ministry of environment. Well now matters seem to have improved but earlier I used to wonder how a ministry which cant maintain its own environment can do justice to the “environment” of the country? Talking of environment, that is perhaps the most important aspect, but which most of us, almost the majority of us experience, but fail to appreciate. My first brush with environment was during those heady days of probationary period at Calcutta, almost a quarter century back when while descending the stairs of the metro station at Calcutta, I suddenly came alive to the impact environment has on us mere mortals. It was an experience which I fail to forget. The same Calcuttan who treated littering and spitting in public places as an accepted trait of the society, changed colors within a space of only a hundred odd steps. One does not dare litter or even spit inside the metro stations at Calcutta merely because of the pride, which the wonderful environment inside metro stations instills in the Calcuttans. The story of the Delhi Metro is almost similar. Similar experiences at various other places in our Bharatvarsh has reinforced this belief and I am now convinced that one does not litter a clean place. Also having experienced the effect which cleanliness and orderliness had on me in almost all the offices I have inhabited so far in my career of twenty four years, I am fully convinced that a neat, clean and organized environment generates positive vibes which have a multiplier effect on efficiency with consequent growth in deliverance. And so my first task in joining any new organization is to try to effect a change in the working environment. It has happened in all my offices, in railways, the ministry of tourism, the India Tourism Development Corporation and now the State Tourism Corporation. Cleaning up the seat of power and that too literally is the task for the first day, to be followed by beautifying the working environment, both hardware and the software. I find it strange how we sarkari babus manage not to throw even paper, which is useless, out of date, irrelevant or even dirty enough to soil our hands and the table it is put upon. And so we have piles and piles of files, piled up in almirahs, inside and on top of them in typical government offices, and absolute indifference on part of all of us to do anything about it. And it is not just files, but old cardboard boxes, file covers, old pieces of dusting cloth and if one looks hard enough, even old slippers tucked under the almirahs. Broken furniture is omnipresent. But before passing any value judgement, let us try to analyze why someone who maintains his home absolutely spic and span fails to carry his zeal to the work place. Is it because of lethargy, aversion to cleanliness, too much work or just indifference. I feel it is the last, indifference it is, but why? The answer lies in our not being able to correlate our activities with deliverance and that leads to indifference towards whatever we do at work and also the surrounding environment. Official work has become a drudgery that has to be endured. Nothing matters whatever we do has become the prevalent belief even amongst the elite in the ruling class – the bureaucrat. And this is something that has to change, if we are to change for the better. Amen.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

who will do it

The recent Delhi tourism conclave concluded on the note that the recommendations of the conference should monitored by the body for implementation. The conference as usual saw generation of a lot of ideas by experts of various shades and hues. I was feeling pity for the organizer, the MD of the DTTDC who was the only one in the large gathering who had the responsibility for implementation. Rest all were free to generate ideas, rapidly.
That precisely is the problem of Hindustan, the country that has almost everyone full of ideas and suggestions, but has very few people who have the capability to convert an idea into a reality through the maze of a variety of rules and procedures. The situation is so complex that it almost borders on the hilarious.
Why is it so? Why have we made deliverance impossible in a country that almost begs its inhabitants for deliverance. For we have everything, a rich culture, a glorious past, unmatched legacy, brilliant people, but we do not have deliverance on the scale it should be witnessed.
And we accept the nonsense. We accept that the present way of doing things is sacrosanct and that deliverance is not. And so we have a complicated bureaucracy, almost the mother of all bureaucracies that is hell bent on complicating matters, by the day and gloating in its remaining maddeningly busy without even producing a lemon.
We have to accept that there is a problem in the way our country handles its problems, its deliverance. Our refusal to accept the same is the source of the problem. For if we dont even accept the existance of the problem, we shall never move even an inch in the direction of resolving it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dreaming of Utopia

For govt officers, especially those who can be classified as bureaucrats, I often wonder, is it necessary to be rough, unconcerned with humanity, selfish and to treat those under him with total disdain and to suck up to those whom he reports to?

Yes most of us behave in the fashion we should not be behaving in. And the tragedy is that all those who behave in this fashion think that they are right and that this is the only way organizations should be run or handled, except that when it comes to them, they expect their superiors to behave in a different fashion.

Do we really believe from the core of our hearts that human beings perform only when they are mistrusted and shouted at? Is deliverance therefore a function of our vocal chords and not of managerial skills and leadership qualities?

I find it rather strange that a "human being" centric organization like the railways has mistrust of everyone as its USP. Yes there are exceptions, but exceptions do not make the rule. Personally my belief is that the best of humans can only be achieved by total trust and absolute respect. After all, all religions teach us about the oneness of human beings and God, and therefore why there should not be total trust and absolute respect for each other and as a corollary why people shall not put in their best effort in whatever they do.

Call a man a dog, and he behaves like one. Call a man a thief and he behaves like one.

These sub human qualities are what differentiate a developing economy like ours with a developed economy like that of the western world. And these are qualities, traits to be more exact that would forever keep us in the developing league.

I wish things could be changed. I long for an ideal world, a world where everyone is given, by the system the basic dignity and respect that every one of us deserves and has a right to.

Sound like Utopia, is'nt it. And this utopia is to be made a reality by all of us, no lord is going to descend from the heavens to do it for us.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Merit in the new India

How does one define merit in the new and vibrant democracy that India is now. The opening up of the economy in the early 1990's has now positioned the country on the verge of an entry in the real big league. Merit will or should now attract attention for it is the only thing that would facilitate deliverance, something that the country really needs.
But for all of us from the sarkari sector, merit carries a different definition. Merit in the true sense fails to carry any meaning in the sarkari sector of the country. Connections, pliability, adjustability, an absence of a value system, sycophancy, feudal traits are what really characterise meritocracy in this artificial world inhabited by the sarkari kind of people.
And railways really takes the cake in this field. 30 years of service has failed in ingrain in me meritocracy of the artificial kind practised in this sector. And so I continue to feel out of place in this setup. But it hardly matters. We have emerged into an organization that is inhabited by people who only look up, neither sideways or below. And so HR suffers, badly. I can see it and also feel it almost always.
The only saving grace is that true meritocracy is thriving in the private sector of the country and that should save the day for India.