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Monday, September 23, 2013


The battle for the throne of Delhi is indeed getting exciting by the day. With the ongoing affairs reminding us of the reign of “Bahadur Shah Zafar” it is apparent that a takeover is on the cards and rightly so, the kingdom of sycophants, robbers and people clueless about what character and value systems are all about needs a shakeup and an overhaul.

Arvind Kejriwal of the RTI and Anna brigade fame is eyeing the premier state of the sultanat and it appears that he may scrape through to victory. His strategy is simple yet may prove to be effective as the two main groups have more than disenchanted the aam aadmi with the result that the aam aadmi party that lacks money and muscle power may yet make the finishing line. Even if it does not, it appears absolutely certain that the party would have made its presence felt sufficiently enough to cause discomfort to both the national level dispensations. 

That the forthcoming hustings due in the spring of 2014 would turn out to be the battle royale of the century is beyond doubt. Never before in the history of independent India has its populace felt so helpless, so cheated and so angry at the bunch of nincompoops who constitute the ruling clan. The Durga Shakti incident of Uttar Pradesh, the wave of rapes and indignities heaped on the fairer sex and the repeated and blatant cases of loot with absolutely no concern for the aam aadmi have led to the ongoing wave of disenchantment with almost everything connected with the state. The fine line that distinguished the robbers from the rulers has become blurred. 

Closer home, the ongoing affairs in the lifeline of the nation have also deprived its constituents of any sense of pride and dignity that they possessed. We have shed both our wealth as well as dignity.  

At birthday parties of tiny tots, one often witnesses amusing fights for the cake. It is sad that in real life, in the political arena of modern India we are forced witnesses to fights over pieces of the cake with members of the ruling clan as well as prospective rulers leaving no stone unturned in ensuring a disgusting display of concern only for the cake with the sole intent of self gratification. The nation can and is indeed rapidly going to hell.

Yet being a hindu I believe in destiny and the almighty. With Modi around, perhaps the next hustings may provide us with the faint ray of hope that can lead to sunshine and brightness all around. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th of September has indeed been lucky for the nation and its constituents. In Modi, the nation got a new ray of hope in the otherwise hopeless scenario that we find ourselves engulfed in. The enthusiasm of the constituents over Modi got a major fillip by the rare court verdict that that satiated the collective conscience of the country. The perpetrators of the heinous crime on the 16th of December have been paid back in the same coin and for once, justice was not merely seen to be done it was actually delivered. Yet the mere fact that the juvenile who was the worst of the lot has got away lightly should lead the society to introspect whether someone fit to rape and murder be treated with kid gloves. Is it not a travesty of justice?

Perhaps the nadir had been reached, both in governance as well as social values and the now the road is only up, uphill I must say and moving forward therefore would indeed necessitate a resolve much more firm than what the nation has witnessed in its history. It appears that the second war of independence has just begun, and this time it is not freedom from foreign rule, but freedom from mal-governance, rampant corruption and a erosion of ethical and moral values. It is indeed time that we as a nation realize that true freedom and development do not come cheap and the price would have to be paid even sixty six years after the tryst with destiny.

A new era of nation building appears to have dawned on this land that was once regarded as the noblest and richest territory in the world. That is what gives a rare significance to Friday the 13th of September 2013.

Many of us are shocked and angry at the clamor of a few misguided souls lamenting at the award of death penalty to the gang of four, the gang that achieved the rare distinction of carrying out the most heinous crime possible on a human being. That these misguided souls would have been singing a different tune had their own daughter undergone a fate similar to Nirbhaya is also true. While the hanging would indeed act as a deterrent to many rapists lurking in dark corners and allays, its impact would be many times more if it is carried out in full public view in the Ramlila maidan. The ground that every year witnesses the mythical victory of good over evil would indeed rejoice over the real elimination of evil from the society. 

Evil needs to be crushed with an iron hand and not given an opportunity to rise again. Ramayana and Mahabharata, the two holiest epics of the hindu religion have shown the way that evil needs to be crushed for the good of the society. This judgement therefore gives solace to aggrieved hearts and there were millions of them after the 16th December incident. 

Friday the 13th would indeed have a new connotation from now on! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The nation rocks!

The nation is indeed rocking. It appears to be on a perpetually moving swing with a gentle nudge being regularly provided by scams and unholy happenings, the latest being the purported revelations of D G Vanzara. Without going into the merits of the case, I have reasons to believe that the statements are merely political in nature blurted out for petty political ends. 

Being from the services, Vanzara is a bureaucrat and bureaucrats are known for not taking responsibility for their actions. So these revelations do not surprise at all. I am reminded of the post world war scenario when all those accused of heinous crimes took shelter under the silly plea of merely following orders. Yet their orders were written in nature and what our friend here is taking shelter under are verbal orders or so he claims. If at all the orders he is talking about went against his conscience, he should have sought written orders and there the matter would have rested. But that was not to be and Vanzara acted as all bureaucrats do. Act yet do not take responsibility and then pass the blame elsewhere.

I have always maintained that it is the bureaucrat and all those who are mere servants of the government responsible for the ills of the nation, not the politician who unfortunately always takes the flak. While the intent almost always and rightly so is of the politician class, the machinery that converts the intent into action is manned by the bureaucracy. It is the bureaucrat who buckles almost always at the slightest opportunity, yet blames his political masters behind their backs. The rapid rise of corrupt practices is also fuelled by the bureaucrat who nowadays has as much as much stake in Zurich as the corrupt politician.

Perhaps the social fabric from where the bureaucrat as well as politicians emerge is rotten. And therefore we shall continue to witness the rocking swing.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Public Sector can Excel!

The public sector enterprises have miles to go and they can provided...............

That ITDC the only central public sector enterprise in the hospitality sector is deeply in reds is a news that saddens yet reflects the state of the nation. On a lighter note one feels that a lot of effort must have gone in over the years to achieve this distinction considering that the hospitality business is inherently and also highly profitable. The reasons for the debacle indicated in the news item are simply unacceptable.  

It is indeed sad that the latent strength of the temples of modern India, the Indian public sector enterprises lies untapped even after over sixty years of existence as a free nation. It defies common business sense that many of these commercial enterprises set up with public funds and backed by the state are underperforming yet many of them continue to do so. The reason lies in inept management as generally the apex level positions are filled not based on performance or leadership traits but on other criterion or considerations. That the shades of ownership and mere technicalities are not issues that matter and what really matters is the commitment, zeal and integrity of the top guy is a fundamental premise that needs widespread acceptance.

Air India and ITDC are text book examples of profitable business enterprises being bled to death by inept managements. Despite the general public opinion being to the contrary, blaming political masters or the external environment for the ills of the company merely diverts attention and shrouds the real causes. The fact remains that the companies act and the memorandum of articles of the enterprise sufficiently empower the chief executives to ward of any hostile threats to the efficient working of the enterprise, yet in many cases the chief executives either fail to lead or else succumb to pressures and attractions. 

My stint as the head honcho of the Delhi division, the largest division of the mighty railway system of the country firmly reinforced my belief in the goodness and the immense utility of men at large. It also reinforced my belief that the primary problem of the nation is neither the politicos, nor the unions; it is the bureaucracy that with passage of time has evolved into a self seeking organism. The bureaucratic clan indeed has to take the major blame for the pitiable condition the nation and organizations like the ITDC and Air India find themselves in.

My two stints as a public sector honcho, namely the short-lived stint at the India Tourism Development Corporation and later at the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation reinforced my belief that CEO positions in public sectors are primarily leadership positions. Any CEO who does not appreciate this basic premise is bound to fall flat on the face and that is what has been happening regularly in the Indian public sector scenario. Giving a short shrift to this premise while making selections for apex positions ensures a mediocre future existence for the enterprise, a situation not healthy for the economy.

My stint at the India Tourism Development Corporation coincided with the aggressiveness that was then being displayed in the disinvestment of the public sector and also the 9/11 incident which affected tourism worldwide. The combined synergy of both the events made the revival an almost impossible exercise, yet the unprecedented turnaround that the company witnessed in 2002-3 was the result of a massive team effort, a team effort that even the junior-most of the employees identified himself with. Doubts over the ability of the public sector to perform at par or even better than the private were also successfully laid to rest.

The iconic success of the Madhya Pradesh Tourism in finding its place in the big league of Indian tourism and also the unprecedented financial turnaround of the state tourism corporation was fuelled by the same employees of the once beleaguered corporation who were earlier being blamed for the mess that the state tourism corporation was in. Posting over 30% growth year on year by a state public sector undertaking that had already hit the bottom and was being actively considered for a sell-off again proved that a turnaround is possible provided the top guy has employee focus and is committed to the growth of the company.

Any commercial enterprise, be it the local pan ki dukaan or a towering corporation is only as good as its leader, or in other words its top guy. The top guy has to have leadership qualities and by his words and deeds, should be able to command the unquestioned loyalty of his men. Everything else is secondary, yet unfortunately most of the top guys only look upwards and display extreme keenness to be identified as the blue eyed boys of the powers that be. Blue eyed boys they become, but they lose the company and that is what has happened with most of the commercial enterprises that have gone downhill or are performing below par.

The top guys also have to be able to distinguish between the “effort to deliver” and the “decision to deliver”. While the effort part is good and appreciable, the decision part is almost mandatory. Unless the company led by its top guy decides to deliver, the effort will almost always never bear fruit. It is also sad that generally, the top management gets busy in the “how” and remains busy in the same while the corporation continues its downhill slide. That the “will” to improve is far more vital than the “how’s” and “why’s” needs appreciation.

And lastly, any commercial enterprise that works in a competitive environment, howsoever profitable the sector may be, has to have its foundations firmly in the ground, grouted in value systems that are universally accepted as good and also good practices. Stamping down corruption and other vices should therefore remain the principal focus of the chief executive who should lay this issue on the table and lead by personal example.

The public sector always attracts criticism on grounds of non-performance due to sarkari ownership. Yet with sound commercial sense, the ownership pattern can turn out to be the biggest strength of the company provided the CEO has leadership traits. He is the pivot and he is the one who can take the company forward or sink it. The buck like in any commercial organization stops at the chief executive even in a public sector undertaking.