(As published in Unique Times June 2014 Edition)

Musings on a carnival Election

Musings on a carnival Election

What is different about elections in Kerala? For one, it is nothing short of a miracle to get your own voter’s identity card.  Everyone was asking me to vote, so by December 2013, I decided to apply for the card. And it turned out to be a roller coaster ride more difficult than the ones in Disneyland.

Over 40 working hours in two months were invested for this effort since I considered it my duty to procure one even though the officer appeared hostile. And I heard that many people could not exercise their legitimate franchise in Maharashtra. And many applicants of voter’s ID card could not get one yet. In Bangalore, illegal immigrants from Bangladesh were awarded the coveted Indian voter Identity card. 

Election in India has immense possibility for entertainment. It is not a complete curry with the right masala, is as complicated as the election debate in India. Consider the alphabet soup. Congress(INC)UPA, NDA, SP, BSP, TMC, AIADMK, DMK, AAP, TRS, TDP, JD(U), JD(S), AG, CPI, CPI(M), NC, MNS, SAD, KJP, NCP and many more. You could be excused if you did not know most of these registered and organised political parties. And there are many more small parties and few ‘senas’. 

You would not have missed the presence of  Mamata, Mayawati, Jayalalita and Vasundhara Raje who are the most famous women faces in the political scene. This rung is one notch lower to the likes of Sushma and Sonia Gandhi. And you must also be familiar with Supriya Sule, Meenakshi Lekhi,  Shazia Ilmi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra? Of course there are men too. But they have been adding distasteful comment on campaign trail, that I will skip their significance. But what about the old guards such as Ambika Soni, Jayanti Natarajan and Renuka Choudhary on one side? On the other side are the kinds of Uma Bharati among others. 

Well, now you will agree with me that these people have kept us amply entertained during this season. Consider the histrionics, many are choreographed and some spontaneous. This script can inspire Bollywood for their dialogues. Amit Shah, Beni Prasad Verma, Imran Masood, Asaduddin Owaisi and Giriraj contributed immensely to this cause. Arvind Kejriwal  filled the space of spontaneous histrionics by being on the receiving end of slaps and ink splashes on face. Only a few politicians such as Chidambaram, Yashwant Sinha, Manish Tewari and Jayanti Natarajan chose to stay away from contest and competition Well, all these kept the average Indian voter entertained and informed. 

But the broader question is, “Are you really happy about Indian elections?” You may have spent a lot of your valuable time to watch endless and inclusive debates or may be was it the interviews that alerted you? Many a time you will be justified to be the member of a fan club of a celebrity television show anchor, such as Karan Thappar, Rajdeep, Arnab or even Barkha. There are many vernacular heroes who grilled the political people as if it was a court room. 

In an age of information overload, any amount of sensationalizing can only be seen as more information. Even if it amounts to an overkill of an event or situation by extreme reporting practices of the correspondents. So, have we come full circle in this campaign? Not yet, because there are targets from the industry. Robert Vadra, Gautam Adami and Mukesh Ambani to name a few. The periodic exposure of bureaucrats and their revelations makes for conversation content. Did you hear about the reports by CAI? Or the book by Sanjay Baru called ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, and the punitive action against IAS officers such as Durga and Khemka? 

All these happened during election time, and now the stage was set for the actual business of elections. Consider the number of industries that flourished. Textiles really stuck gold with the banners and various flags that decorated the streets. The helicopter service and transport vehicles for volunteers, barricade, stage erection,  security, sound system and all communication devices  and other work of ground preparations also kept thousands of people employed.

People from advertising, promotion and publicity and branding are also paid well during the season called Indian election. Many businesses made good profit. Anyone with a really sharp tongue and little reasoning of the correct type, could easily become a spokesperson. They simply learnt to argue about everything. So the business in the election season invoked immense resources and made many entrepreneurs wealthy.

Do we need standup comedians to make a satire on the dramas that happen in the election season? Perhaps not, as the larger drama of campaigning is beamed into your bedrooms, dining rooms and mobiles by television channels. They are the other side of the alphabet soup. CNN IBN, APP, NDTV, ZEE, CNBC, ETV and ABP. I will not be surprised if one day the Indian election information may encroach into channel V and MTV.

Many catholic priests, Fr.Frazer Mascarenhas, Shan Imran Bukhari, Ramdev Baba and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar were not spared.

How does the global Indian view this virulence in his home country called India? The NRI in all good faith seems to be able to donate money to favorite political parties, but they are not an integral part of political action because they are not allowed to vote.

But what is the objective of this massive people movement called Indian election? To govern, to bring growth and development?  We also need strict implementation of laws as guided by the Constitution of India.

 Reservation and quotas in jobs and education must be restricted to three years to anyone. Then they must compete like everyone else in a free market like in sports and athletics. The judicial system can do with a revamp so that they can expedite verdicts. And the judicial system can check the possibility of a uniform civil code for all citizen of India.

The citizen can certainly be categorized into two, law-abiding citizens and law violating citizens. This is more legitimate than classifying as right, left of right, centre of left and left. The role model has to inspire citizens to give their muscle, might and resources to clean up the system. If you do so, you can determine the future of India.




Has the mankind or the woman kind or the humankind, got an objective? 

Have we here got any specific objective today? Do we really need any more answers or even solutions? I will be justified to think that most of us are saturated with answers and solutions.

Well yet, there is a search or may be a curiosity; though the search and curiosity is unending, perhaps the interests and research are compromised. Certainly, all of us here today have a common objective. We all need to grow, though not all of us may want to grow. But all of us need to grow. Whether we want to grow or need to grow, it is certain that we just may have to grow. Whether we mean grow up or grow- into or grow out-of, can be debated at another appropriate time. The opposite of growth is stagnation; stagnation makes us stifled, suffocated or may be at least stressed. 

So, now the big question is do we need any change? 

In the past we learned to grow. We learned to grow into technicalities. We learn to grow into specificities. We learned to grow into metrics, calculations, analysis, assessments, articulations and severe accuracies. If all of these were rubber bands, then we have stretched them and stretched them and stretched. Many of these parameters may collapse, some paradigms of managements has collapsed. Much has to change before the rubber bands starts snapping one by one. Has technicalities, protocols, processes and criterion become such over stretched rubber bands? If so, then change is welcome. 

So why change?

Do you like to hear the songs of Kishore Kumar or Sonu Nigam ? Of Mohammad Rafi or A.R Rahman? Of Lata and Asha or of Sunidhi Chauhan? Well do we like to hear older songs of our generations or new songs of current generations?

Well evidently there is a generation gap, many of us may not even want to acknowledge this. But are we becoming victims to a condition, which makes us, avoid doing necessary things but which we are averse to? Are we in a condition that we listen to and do things, only that we like to do? 

If this is true, then we have simply grown into a set of corporate and management mannerisms that has even become over stretched. So, who will initiate our growing out of this paradigm?  Who will make us do things that we may not like to do? When and how will we bring-in the change, are some of the questions we need to answer.

I had a function in Cochin the other day. I made meticulous travel plan. Then, descended due to the fog in Pune airport, I did not realize this air craft also touched Pune and Ahmadabad, Bangalore and then Cochin. Well, my flight delayed three times totaling three hours; my point is how do we handle uncertainties.

Has the technicalities, factored in to it a component called uncertainties?

So we now have, 

  1. Over Stretched about to snap.
  2. Grown –into specificities.
  3. Need for change.
  4. Dealing with uncertainties.

I believe that human resource department can be made part of the Business decision making process. The big question is, can it work in reverse too if we make the delivery and the technical team, as part of the human resource decision making process? Well ,either way, we can be judiciously adventurous. This is a great way to introduce the collective growing-out of the severe constraints of the present. Each one of us can become equipped to take full responsibility to bridge these gaps of knowledge capital, technical dexterity, business functions and generation gaps.

Conversely the technical experts and professionals can make opportunity to get a little rounded by understanding the human resource and human capital processes. Together we can create a synergy called human energy. When global competitiveness may become the only reality, this growth of human energy and cross industry- functional knowledge may become imperative if not inevitable.

There was an immense gap between management and other employees. We reduced the gap through the methods as conceived by the HR department. Further we introduced welfare schemes. Equity to profits were made possible through stock options. Yet, we continued to close the gaps, flexi times and working from home, virtual meetings , conferences and presentations have all attempted to ease the stress. But yet, employee engagement and aligning their interests with common company agenda, needs a re-visit. When there is inter departmental cross over and participation in business decision making, the gaps will be eliminated and employee engagements to company agendas can be optimized.

So how to enforce a methodology to convert concepts in to practice and then a reality? That we have to re-skill our personnel that could be anybody’s guess. But along with exposing the people to corresponding risk of interdepartmental and cross over functions, we need to identify a critical number of people. These people must be experts at their domain. They must have a non- compromising professionalism to work culture. This critical number of professionals who are domain experts and are experienced in your corporate culture must undergo a training. They must be trained to become NURTURERS. They must hand-hold and train the next layer of candidates from HR, to introduce them to participate in business decision making. Both the sides namely the technical delivery and business team must learn to collaborate with the visiting HR team. This merger of ideas and skills are essential in manufacturing service, and in IT enabled industries. Considering the competitions that are emerging, in offline, online, onsite and other interactions, work competencies are being re-defined by market dynamics.

It is in this context that the merger of ideas within your personnel will add value to the company. The company can then not only fortify its state in the market but also project a robustly cohesive ad engaged workforce. We can together row out the severe technicality warp.


 differentiation and integration

The green worm catches the boy’s eye as it slowly moves across the leaf, biting into its flesh, and leaving a strange pattern behind. The five-year-old is picnicking with his parents, he plays tirelessly and his attention is suddenly on the leaf and he observes that it is a different object in his environment. It is certainly a part of the plant in the garden, but the plant is different from the picnic basket, the jar of jam, plates and other cutleries. Then there is water, tumbler, napkins and food. Around him are many objects with diverse utilities. But he is attracted by the movement of the worm that is eating away all the leaf. He saw that the leaf does look beautiful but stationary, and on it the caterpillar, though looking odd, is mobile. The mobility of the worm is in contrast to the stillness of the leaf. Are these mere observations or imaginations of a child? 

For a botanist, this worm is of not much importance because he is only interested in the lead and the activities that happen in it. He makes incisions on the leaves with a sharp blade and dissects the leaf further into cellular levels: he needs to know what makes the leaf so green. He is not concerned about the worm or how it makes a meal of the leaf. He focuses on factors like photosynthesis, protoplasm and chlorophyll, ignoring what the boy found interesting. 

 These scientific discoveries require severe categories, divisions and unending dissections. The education scene gives thrust on a few things – How much stamina do you have to dissect further to subatomic and nano levels, what is the IQ required to indulge in the waves of quantum environment, who has crossed over to the other side of intellectual rigor? It does not stimulate the interest and the curiosity of a five-year-old. And it ignores the questions he or she raises as the worm moves to another leaf. 


 So, is there a gap between what our graduates have studied and what is required in the industry? What is the state of readiness of our graduates to be absorbed into the industry? Have you ever thought of going back to the basics of work environment? The socio – economic realities compel all of us to relate to making profits. There is also a clear distinction between loss of resources and gains. How has the education system addressed the intense need to orient people to earn profits? Has it been able to give intellectual balance and emotional steadiness to graduates? It is where a life coach or mentor comes into place, and no manufacturing company can function without the designation of such a person for their new recruits. 

 How does he work? Let’s take the case of the botanist who finds employment in a company that manufactures herbal soaps. He did look mature enough to work under pressure during the campus placement interviews. It was only during discussions at the work floor that it became known that he just did not want to work. So the mentor has to create a new curriculum so that the emotional intelligence is established through training.

Trainees had to know that their compensation is linked directly to the output of their work. Many are ready to work as long as their contribution is limited to that of a messenger or an informant. Work that requires intellectual participation such as research, production and manufacture are considered challenges by many. How could the young people resist the charm of manufacturing new products? Does our system encourage manufacturing enterprise or create clerical employees?

The role of the mentor is not limited to getting the newly recruited employees motivated to work hard. Along with on-the-job training in the manufacture and production, the mentor has to take care of performance and quality. The worker needs to be educated on the aesthetics of the intangible beauty of the product. Moreover, the product of fine design and utility needs a suitable package. Depending on the segment the product belongs to, it has to be wisely and adequately promoted. The campaign of visibility and through media is a separate factor by itself. The science of making presentations that can compel the listener to make purchase is an essential section of sales and marketing. When such varied components come together, the result means profits. So, naturally, the botanist has to let go his rigid analysis and assessment, and adopt flexibility in sales and marketing. Without flexible options, the manufacturer will become limited to a specific stance or position. 

In all business sectors, identification and targeting of a consumer segment must be given top priority. This needs a fresh view devoid of past prejudices and biases. Be alert always, and extra vigil can prevent the loss of market to the hands of competitors. In short, the botanist and the manufacturer must have a synthesis of minds and decisions. Unchecked activities will lead to unending and unnecessary issues. With wisdom and maturity; the classifications, categorizations and segmentations will all be integrated as a wholesome business. The objective of business is to bring comfort, convenience and care to all members of the family, ensuring the luxury of a relaxed picnic. 

The integrity of education will be upheld only when graduates leave their institutions industry-ready. For this, the curriculum should not only teach how to differentiate and divide but also to synthesize and integrate. Innocence is beautiful only if it is supported by intelligence. The sanctity of any work is in the creation of a product that can be traded for its utility. The wisdom in living is that you make yourself capable of building resources. Welcome to the new enterprise. The science of differentiation and the art of synthesis must come together. This is integral to the success of business.