Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lyrics: Kuchh aisa ho jaaye (Film: Aao Wish Karein 2009)

My favorite song of 2009

aisa pehale toh kabhi na huwa tha
woh sitaara bhi mujhe keh raha tha
jo mujhe kabhi lagata tha ajnabi sa
mujhe wohi lagata hai jindagi sa
aise kuchh tu mila tha, kho na jaaye bas yeh dar sa laga tha
chhoti chhoti baaton mein, sochu din mein raaton mein
jo chaahu woh ho jaaye kuchh aisa ho jaaye
bundon ki iss baarish mein, dhundu main har khwaahish mein
jo chaahu woh mil jaaye kuchh aisa ho jaaye

har subah mujhe kuchh aisa lagata tha
khwaab tha sahi jo hamane likha tha
dekha toh abhi ik pal hi gujara tha
par na jaane kyun kuchh aisa laga tha
jaise sadiyaan ik pal mein saari
kuchh hi baaton mein meri tumhaari
beeti kuchh aise hogi hamaari
itani si thi bas apani kahaani
aise kuchh tu mila tha, kho na jaaye bas yeh dar sa laga tha
chhoti chhoti baaton mein, sochu din mein raaton mein
jo chaahu woh ho jaaye kuchh aisa ho jaaye
bundon ki iss baarish mein, dhundu main har khwaahish mein
jo chaahu woh mil jaaye kuchh aisa.... ho jaaye
ho ho ho ho ho......

kehana chaahu main par dil yuun dhadaka tha
jaanemann kyun kuchh aise darata tha
jo bhi tha mera uss pal woh tera tha
jina chaahe toh bas yahin lamaha tha
aise kuchh tu mila tha, kho na jaaye bas yeh dar sa laga tha
chhoti chhoti baaton mein, sochu din mein raaton mein
jo chaahu woh ho jaaye kuchh aisa ho jaaye
bundon ki iss baarish mein, dhundu main har khwaahish mein
jo chaahu woh mil jaaye kuchh aisa ho jaaye
ha ha ha ha kuchh aisa ho jaaye
o ho o ho kuchh aisa ho jaaye
kuchh aisa ho jaaye, kuchh aisa ho jaaye

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Managing and Developing Self - Indian Way

Author: Varun Jha (LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/varun82)

Self-management is a psychological term used to describe the process of achieving personal autonomy. The goal of self-management is to shift supervision and control from a parent, caregiver, job coach, or employer to the person him-/herself. Self-Development is taking personal responsibility for one's own learning and development through a process of assessment, reflection, and taking action.

We can identify our life as a process of self growth and development from birth to our present state wherein the permanent core identity of ‘I’ is augmented with additional features during the process of living. This gives each one of us individual distinctiveness and uniqueness. We call this uniqueness as individuals’ ‘Personality’, consisting of specific motives, traits, dispositions, desires and the likes.

The above process of an evolving and changing personality to an extent, (based on the commitment), can be self managed by any one during the very act of living. Internal Conflicts are created when we try to go out against a certain value, when there is a violation of value. For instance, on the one hand we have greed and on other hand we have a value for doing what is right. Greed, which arises from our needs and our insecurities forces us to violate someone’s right or makes us to act in a dishonest manner. When we act in the universal values, such conflicts are resolved. The one who wishes to gain self knowledge must have the ability to refrain from the temptation to indulge in sense pleasures.

Desire is a product of ignorance. Some of the desires are helpful, some are hurtful, and some both helpful and hurtful. There could be some desire conducive for our self growth. As we grow, our needs gradually reduce and we discover more satisfaction with ourselves. This is what is called growth. The ultimate goal is to become free from need, which creates desire. As soon as a desire arises, instead of blindly following, it is important to ponder about its usefulness. In some cases, where desires may be related to the necessities of day to day living, it should be fulfilled. But there are some needs that are cultivated; needs that aren’t there, but are perceived to be needs.

Anger erupts whenever one is frustrated with himself. It erupts whenever one feels helpless. One feels helpless whenever one cannot make his way out. One feels that others should conduct themselves in a particular way to meet his expectations but unfortunately it doesn’t work. That is why there is a clash of conflict between people with their own expectations.
Whenever one’s demand or expectations is not met, one feels angry because of feeling of rejection, helpless and not in control. Jealousy erupts on account of a feeling of deficiency in oneself. It happens when somebody is better, more accomplished, or smarter than other.

To worry is something natural. We must, however, recognize that mere worrying doesn’t help. Worry will not accomplish anything. If we find ourselves worried about something, we must confront the object of worry and act upon it. If we can alter the unpleasant, we should try to change things to make situation more pleasant and agreeable. When there is something inevitable in life that we can’t change, we have to accept it gracefully. Anxiety occurs when we are not willing to accept the unpleasant realities of life. Prayer will also help in reducing anxiety. In every situation there is certain things we can change and many things we can’t change. Whatever we can change, we should use our will and courage to change.

We should not grieve for things that we need not grieve for. Grief arises when, number one, we do not understand the realities of life, and number two, we are not willing to accept these realities. We do not understand that the whole universe functions according to a certain order and that we cannot change this order. If we understand this reality, we will be able to deal with it comfortably. Sometimes, even when we understand, we do not accept it. Hence, in order to deal with the grief in our life, we need both understanding and acceptance.

It is the human nature to have expectations. So, we have an opinion about ourselves. Usually, the opinion is that I am inadequate. The expectation that we have of others, they originate from the expectations that we have from ourselves, and we have very big expectation of ourselves, and that is we expect ourselves to be complete, we expect ourselves to be perfect, we expect ourselves to be free of every limitation. This is the expectation we have. The more we act out of self interest the more selfishness circulates in the mind. This is called “contributor” attitude. Attitude of consuming or grabbing creates further obstacles in our lives. More one become a “grabber”, more insufficient they feel with themselves. Thus, by contributing we are not obliging but doing what you should be doing. Lord Krishna says that Kama (indulgence), Krodha (anger) and lobha (greed) are gateway to suffering. More you submit to these impulses, more ineffective, manipulative, vulnerable and weaker you become. Pratipaksh Bhavna (Bhavna = attitude. Paksh = position or side. Prati = opposite) is the method to overcome these. This means deliberately taking the opposite sides. For example, when anger arises, the opposite of anger is what we call Shama – forgiveness, accommodation. Forgive him. See the person behind the behaviour. Thus, Control when it comes to Kama, Compassion- when it comes to anger and Charity when it comes to greed.

One of the important aspects of managing the self that Bhagwad Gita teaches is called responsibility. There is a very famous line in Bhagwad Gita - Adhikara means freedom or adhikara also means responsibility. Human being has ambitions, freedom of choice, free will. But, Lord Krishna says that a privilege or freedom will be a blessing to you only when that freedom is accompanied with responsibility. Call it responsibility or call it a duty, every individual has it. A responsibility/duty towards parents, teacher, others. Emotional maturity is being able to manage one self and one’s emotions. An immature person cannot be a leader because he cannot make right decisions. For judging the situation, for leading, for making right decisions, you must have maturity, what you call emotional maturity. You must be able to have a balanced mind and maintain an equality of poise, a balance, even under unfavorable conditions.

Spiritual growth entails movement from tamasik (with greatest impurities refers to inertia, ignorance, and darkness) tendencies to Rajsik (represent activities and ego related with it) and then towards satwik (represent purity, knowledge and all noble aspects of human life) state, with reference to thoughts, desires and action. It is accepted fact that higher levels of management require high EQ. For natural, sustained and effortless behavior, high spiritual quotient is what is required which automatically meets the requirement of characteristics of high emotional quotient.

Self-management may take a great deal of time and energy to implement. However, having an individual actively participate in changing his/her own behavior may be the key to reducing or eliminating behaviors as well as to maintaining appropriate behaviors. Once the person can monitor, evaluate, and reinforce his/her own behavior, everyone benefits.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Young at 62

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Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance ... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again."

- Jawaharlal Nehru’s message to the world, on the dawn of India's freedom; midnight, Aug 14, 1947

Tomorrow we will be celebrating the 63rd anniversary of our Independence. The Independence Day of any country is a moment of pride and glory. At this juncture, I think of the problems, we as a country face; how do we move from here.

Education is the biggest challenge that we face. More than 25% of our people are illiterate, which means there is almost no hope of their leveraging the opportunities around. Education empowers people and brings fundamental change to the way they look at their lives. Ensuring access to quality education for all, in particular for the poor and rural population, is central to the economic and social development of India. We need to invest much more and have an intensive and proper supervision of primary and high school education. The Right to education bill, passed recently, is a step towards the right direction. But here again we need to remember that many such great policies have hardly achieved anything substantial in the past and died within government files. The allocated budget ends up in the pockets of we know who. We need to totally overhaul our basic education system at primary and high school levels.

To be world class, we have to improve infrastructure. Transportation needs not only to be fast but affordable and reliable at the same time. We as a country are already spending a lot of money on education, infrastructure, etc. So it’s really a question of effectiveness. Hindrance to it is poor governance. What is most disturbing is the growing divisions in society along caste, communal and regional lines; and above the all, financial lines.

All these facts paint a poor image but don't stop me from being optimistic about our future. India has undergone a big transformation; from a British Colony at the beginning of the 20th century to a world power at the end of it. Experts no longer discuss the future of India, but say that the future is India. We have to define a strong vision ahead, if we want to accomplish what we dream.

On Independence Day, here I wish our dreams of a new tomorrow come true for us… NOW AND ALWAYS!

Happy Independence Day to all.

- Swapnil Saurav

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Beyond Intelligence

Wisdom is the knowledge needed to live a good life. It is beyond intelligence and includes knowledge, understanding, experience, discretion, and intuitive understanding. We sometimes overlap the meanings of wisdom and intelligence, but actually intelligence is necessary but not sufficient for wisdom.
Wisdom involves:
* seeing things clearly
* acting in prudent and effective ways
* acting with the well-being of the whole in mind
* Deeply understanding the human/cosmic situation
* knowing when to act and when not to act
* being able to handle whatever arises with peace of mind and an effective, compassionate, holistic response
* being able to anticipate potential problems and avoid them

Vendanta suggests three varieties of Yoga (i) Karma Yoga (ii) Gyana Yoga and (iii) Bhakti Yoga to achieve spiritual progress and thus gain wisdom.

Karma yoga enhances capacity to work and increase in its effectiveness. It’s a major starting point for professionals like us. Detachment to the fruits of action (anasakti) and yet attachment and commitment to assigned work (duty in the assigned role), consistent with the individual capabilities and interest (swadharma) are the major tenets.

Bhakti Yoga built around devotion, single pointed-ness and a sense of offering one’s self to supreme power or god or higher order depending on one’s faith. It permits development of the faculty of concentration and love beyond ones possessions and near and dear ones only.

Gyana Yoga that permits deeper discriminative powers on the experiences of life, similar but greater and deeper study of the issues we have covered in this course so that the realities of the life and its environment are understood and appreciated with greater clarity and conviction.

For a professional working person one can say that three aspects are involved in work head (thinking and reflecting), heart (feeling) and hands (doing). Each of the three yogas is appropriate for each of the aspects: head for gyana yoga, hands for karma yoga and heart for Bhakti yoga.
Wise people live their daily lives in accord these wise perspectives and wise values. As a result, their actions make the world around them a better place.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Living intelligently

We, human beings, are unique species with distinctive capabilities, peculiarities, even abnormalities. We possess partial and half incorrect knowledge about who we are, what could be our purpose of life, where we are heading, what is this phenomenal world and our relationship with it. This ignorance is the main cause of human misery. And generally it is the misery rather than happiness that drives us to seek Vendantic knowledge. With my limited knowledge on this subject which I acquired during Gita Shibir classes, I am writing this article on how an individual can live intelligently and be happy.

What is living intelligently?
Human beings posses’ three body schemes: Gross Body (physical organs), subtle body (which includes- mind, intelligence, memory and ego), and Causal body (approximately equate to soul). Let’s look at the components of subtle body, which is important for our study here. The mann (mind) is constantly active with different ‘Vritis’ (thoughts). The buddhi (intelligence) judges the qualitative dimensions of experiences and evaluates possible responses. The chitta (memory) corresponds to conscious, subconscious & unconscious dimensions, with its embedded impressions (called Sanskaras) acquired from previous experiences. ‘Ahankar’ (ego) provides a wide range of self concepts form mere self awareness with extreme humility on one extreme and egoistic sense of doership on the other. All the above together provide an individual distinctive and unique disposition, which we call ‘swabhava’ i.e. ones nature.
Often in life one faces conflict between choices involving what is right (shreyas- dominated by intelligence) and what is pleasant (preyas- dominated by mind) is. ‘Shreyas’ represent long term gain (short term pain at times) and vice versa for ‘preyas.’ In such a conflict we tend to choose preyas. We sometimes fool ourselves by justifying our actions by using intelligence and logic to justify our wrong choices. Such wrong choices lead to frustrations, problems, sadness, guilt, regrets and other such negative feelings. Living intelligently means eliminating or minimizing such negative feelings. In the following sections to come, I will try to explain how Vedant shows ways for living intelligently and effectively.

What factors affect living intelligently and How to achieve it?
Human beings possess both animal instincts and divine qualities. Arising from this, human beings are engaged in one of three modes of living: Competition – The concept of ‘I me Mine’(characteristics: manipulative, calculative and reactive stances), Cooperation – The concept of ‘I mine and you’ (characteristics: Inclusive growth, corporate social responsibility etc), and Selfless Service – The concept of ‘us’ (example: The lives of social workers, saints and sages) – There is no difference between – You, Mine and Us. Living intelligently is about moving toward selfless service.
Let’s look at some of the factors by which we can achieve living intelligently:
1. Living in harmony: We don’t feel happy when we are insulted or hurt so we have no right to hurt others. Nobody wants failures or unhappiness. Life is about living in harmony.
2. It’s about being Successful: Each one of us lives in two worlds – The external world and the internal psychic world. External success mean sense gratification, material gains, name and fame while internal success mean peace, happiness and a sense of self worth. We give little importance to the internal success which in reality has greater significance. External successes lead to temporary satisfaction till new desires arise, which invariably happens. Intelligent living requires external activities that concurrently become a source of internal success.
3. Being Happy: We find inadequacy within us and seek acceptance for us from outside world through the external successes. Happiness is our nature and has to be merely exposed and not acquired, which means a non demanding and satisfied mind. ‘Acquiring’ happiness from the external objects on the erroneous belief that happiness is embedded in external objects and events is futile.
4. Be a contributor: The more we act out of self interest the more selfishness circulates in the mind. This is called “contributor” attitude. Attitude of consuming or grabbing creates further obstacles in our lives. More one become a “grabber”, more insufficient they feel with themselves. Thus, by contributing we are not obliging but doing what you should be doing.
5. Manage ambitions: Only human beings have a privilege to have ambitions. But it has to be managed. If we can manage an ambition, then ambition is an asset. We should be able to manage our desires and not desires manage us.
6. Be strong: Lord Krishna says that Kama (indulgence), Krodha (anger) and lobha (greed) are gateway to suffering. More you submit to these impulses, more ineffective, manipulative, vulnerable and weaker you become. Pratipaksh Bhavna (Bhavna = attitude. Paksh = position or side. Prati = opposite) is the method to overcome these. This means deliberately taking the opposite sides. For example, when anger arises, the opposite of anger is what we call Shama – forgiveness, accommodation. Forgive him. See the person behind the behaviour. Thus, Control when it comes to Kama, Compassion- when it comes to anger and Charity when it comes to greed.
7. Freedom and Responsibility: One of the important aspects of managing the self that Bhagwad Gita teaches is called responsibility.There is a very famous line in Bhagwad Gita - Adhikara means freedom or adhikara also means responsibility. Human being has ambitions, freedom of choice, free will. But, Lord Krishna says that a privilege or freedom will be a blessing to you only when that freedom is accompanied with responsibility. Call it responsibility or call it a duty, every individual has it. A responsibility/duty towards parents, teacher, others.
8. Relationship with others: When we rate two people in general, the relationship involves the two aspects; in Sanskrit called as anugraha (favouring) and nigraha (restraining). Sometimes you need to give favour and sometimes you need to restrain. That is called love. Restraint alone is not right, favouring alone is also not right. A judicious combination, of anugraha and nigraha, restraint and favouring, is required. For a healthy relationship, do not control unless necessary and do not give instructions unless necessary. But, when you give instructions make sure that they are followed.Create an environment of comfort and safety in your presence. A person’s creativity, initiative everything will find it’s way when person feels safe, comfortable, accepted, loved. If there is a relationship of trust, love and mutual respect, then, it itself is a great source of joy. Understand that help is an attitude not an action.
9. Be wealthy: There are two kinds of wealth. One is this worldly wealth, material wealth, which has its own usefulness in my life. Another kind of wealth is internal wealth. In Bhagwat Gita it is called the Divine Wealth. Divine wealth is in the form of goodness, kindness, compassion, love, all the things that I cherish, the noble qualities, etc. We can say with certainty that the more loving I am, more kind I am, happier I am, the more I contribute, happier I become. More you contribute more inner or divine wealth that you discover because fortunately we have infinite store of love and kindness and goodness within ourselves without exception.

Why living intelligently is important?
Living intelligently is important as it helps both at professional and personal level.
At personal level
• Decreased frequency and eventual elimination of negative feelings such as greed, anger, jealousy, hatred, guilt.
• Greater self confidence with humility
• Relate to others with empathy and love, improves our relationship with others
• Feel peace within

At professional level:
• Increase of deeper and lasting sense of peace increases sensitivity. Its improves SQ which automatically impacts EQ. SQ is most important determinant of sustained and superior leadership.
• It creates greater confidence to face crisis and exhibit creativity
• Fruitful interpersonal relationships build credible authentic leadership skills
• It makes us less bias, which helps to see the ‘realities’ of situations leading to better decisions through superior judgment skills
• Improves skills of leadership (Interpersonal and institutionalization)
• Gives strength to handle crisis

Spiritual growth entails movement from tamasik (with greatest impurities refers to inertia, ignorance, and darkness) tendencies to Rajsik (represent activities and ego related with it) and then towards satwik (represent purity, knowledge and all noble aspects of human life) state, with reference to thoughts, desires and action. It is accepted fact that higher levels of management require high EQ. For natural, sustained and effortless behavior, high spiritual quotient is what is required which automatically meets the requirement of characteristics of high emotional quotient. Besides, it also serves a larger purpose of living life more productively and more happily; this is what intelligent living is all about.

I am not an expert of this subject. I have just started learning about Vedant way of living. With my little exposure to it, I found it to be a perfect theory for life, as Vedantic knowledge have been developed over centuries and meets fourfold test: (i) comprehensive and integrative description (ii) explanation of all cause- effect relationships implicit in the theory (iii) verifiability of suggested cause-effect relationships and finally leading to (iv) prescriptions that would have acceptable logic arising from the previous three steps. Compare to our Vedantic approach, western theories are much younger and still in nascent stage of evolving.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Are you the dream employee?

My MBA course nearing completion and the most important moment has come- the placements. Thanks to the current financial crisis, it’s turning into nervous 2009 for us. But we are in upbeat mood and gearing up to face the challenges. We are very clear in what we expect- a career with challenge, opportunity, satisfaction, a strong work ethic and an attractive compensation and benefits package. We spend time and effort to prepare ourselves for the interviews without understanding what the company and the job demands. Then somewhere during the road we find mutual trust falling and our moral going down. Employees tend to forget that they have an obligation to produce the results that will generate more profits to the company.

Corporations invest money in their employees and expect employee loyalty in return. We expect company to have family-like relation with employees, so there is nothing wrong when company expect same kind of relationship in return. Right attitude is the key to success. Attitudes are important because they affect job behavior and efficiency. Sometime, going may be tough but its important not to forget that we work for a customer and a good employee attitude towards the company creates a positive effect upon the customer.

I have tried here to bring few points, which would help to maintain right relation between employee and organizations:

1. Follow your passion not paycheck: Look for the jobs that will meet your conditions, if you are in a job that meet your personal passions, priorities and desires, you will have a natural enthusiasm for the job.

2. Have a career coach: Make someone whom you trust as your career coach. You should be open enough to discuss personal matters to her. Both of you should be able to evaluate career options to meet your true priorities, passions and needs.

3. Continual learning: Always keep yourself abreast with latest developments happening in your area of work. Be innovative and keep improving the process which you are working on. This will keep you to stay motivated.

4. Avoid “flight-to-escape” mentality: Changing job only to escape bad conditions may not help. You may be running away from the problems, but facing it with positive attitude will help to improve yourself and develop your overall personality.

5. Talk to your current organisation: You should consider discussing with your managers or HR managers about your concerns. Most companies have ombudsperson; you can also consider option to approach them. But never create negative vibration in the work environment.

6. Opt for another career: It helps to leave the current employment on good terms if you have found an employment that will create more positive career situation.

I don’t mean everything is good with the company always as is the case with any family. There is should be enough discussions and thoughts given from both the sides before any tough decisions are taken. Quitting is not an option to be ruled out but it should be the last option. We all want to work for a “dream company”, but seldom we have asked this question to ourselves- “Am I the dream candidate for the company?”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

India at 62: Great Potential, even greater problems

We are well past 60 years of our existence and we have enough reasons to celebrate the achievements we have made in these years. Not too long ago, we were known as land of snake charmers and regarded as the epitome of third world. Now we are ranked in top-10 world’s largest economies. Today India is recognized as having a tremendous potential for becoming a global economic player. India has gained worldwide attention as one of the fastest growing markets and a respected, responsible democracy. According to a Goldman Sach report, India is going to “sustain its breakneck growth for the foreseeable future”, and going to become world’s second largest economy in 2050. There are many other respectable reports which also predict similar bullish outlook. But isn’t having the potential and actually achieving it is two different things? And this is where the biggest challenges lie for India.

India has enormous problems especially in the areas of poverty. We talk of calling ourselves global economic prowess, when 60 percent of people don’t get a square meal. The World Bank estimates that 456 million Indians (42% of the total population) live under the global poverty line of $1.25 per day (PPP). This means that a third of the global poor now reside in India. According to a report released by the Indian government, nearly half of the country’s small children are malnourished. Unemployment rate is 7.2%. The per-capita income rate, literacy level and other key human development indicators also lag behind many other developing nations, including those in sub-Saharan Africa. The cost of healthcare is spiraling, government spending on healthcare is shrinking and the impact on the poor is catastrophic. Only 15% of the Rs 1,500 billion healthcare sector is publicly financed. As a result, the public health system is on the brink of collapse. National data reveals that 50% of the bottom quintile sold assets or took loans to access hospital care. There is huge shortage of basic amenities like electricity and drinking water. Power shortages and blackouts are common throughout the country. The deteriorating condition of road and rail networks, as well as port facilities, hampers the continuing rapid growth. Economic losses from congestion and poor roads alone are as high as $6 billion a year, figure by government agency. India's gross fiscal deficit remains one of the highest in the world. The Confederation of Indian Industry estimates that more than $330-billion needs to be spent on infrastructure over the next five years to boost the country's competitiveness. The overall government deficit stood at just under 6% in fiscal year 2008. In fiscal year 2009, this may accelerate to above 7%. At such high levels, government borrowing crowds out private-sector credit, keeps interest rates high, adds to already high government debt, and becomes a key source of macro vulnerability. 60% of the labor force is employed in agriculture, which contributes less than 1% of overall growth. India’s economic boom has been powered disproportionately by a world-class technology sector that requires only a comparatively small number of highly skilled workers. Even as the economy soars, overall job creation has not kept pace with the growth of the working-age population, which is projected to expand by 70 million people over the next five years. Most of India’s rural population is young and illiterate, lack adequate access to educational service; they do not possess the skills necessary to compete in the global economy.

With all these problems staring us in the face we say that we are going to become an economic super power? Are we living in a fool's paradise?
You may not be reading the above statistics for the first time. Also, the solution is not easy, but we have to start somewhere. India needs to realize its potential. It’s economic performance in recent years gives some reason for optimism. Fortunately, after decades of underinvestment and political inertia, India's political leadership has awakened to the magnitude of the infrastructure crisis. A handful of major projects have been completed; others are moving forward. Mr Manmohan Singh, is promising a 100-days Marshall Plan-scale effort. But think practically, is it possible to get things on track in 100 days. However, we lack is not policies but the will of our law makers to execute them. We have seen instances where funds either remain non utilized or get siphon off. Policies are made without looking at the feasibility of execution.
Will the current government be able to turn things, atleast, on track? Let's wait and watch.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Four Pillars of Administration Based On the Movie “The Great Escape”

By Swapnil Saurav

In this article I present the review of the movie “The Great Escape" and compare with the four pillars of administration. This 1963 film is based on a true story about the Germans who opened Stalag Luft North, a maximum security prisoner-of-war camp, designed to hold even the craftiest escape artists in 1943. Steve McQueen did an excellent job as Capt. Hilts "The Cooler King". James Garner as Flight Lt. Hendley "The Scrounger" and Richard Attenborough as Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett "Big X" were also too good.

1. Administrative Context:
Intrinsic characteristic of any organisation is heterogeneity of objectives of members. There are conflicting intra organizational goals between functions, departments and human beings working for them and between short term and long term, and becomes the cause of potential conflict in organizations. The task of a leader, a manager or an administrator is the selection of such course of action that ensures maximum congruence between the different set of goals, keeping the conflict and contradictions among these goals to minimum so as to achieve coordination and cooperation between the members.
The movie shows leadership, sacrifice, relationship building and goal setting and how POWs attempts to find freedom. We see them plan, prepare, and dig the tunnels as they elude detection from their captors. It was remarkable to see so many people involved with each other considering their large number and working together in synergy.

2. Role Of The Administrator
The activities have to be broken and assigned to people with required skills (or potential to build necessary skills) to deliver on the distinct strategy. Role of the administrator becomes very crucial in integrating the sub-units of the structure and how well these sub-units are integrated determines the success of implementation. The ranges of roles they perform are: Interpersonal roles, Informational roles, and Decisional roles. They display the traits of: Hard work, analytical ability, taking initiative, attention to details, persuasiveness, value for values, social/political skills, perseverance, and team skills.
In “The great escape” movie, we had a core group of prisoners determined to escape, in fact their goal was to facilitate the escape of 250 men in one night, which they managed to do it. Planning for escape was a daunting task, something never tried before, and required utmost collaboration among the prisoners.
The role of an administrator is to work for the betterment of community at large. This is precisely what Capt. Hilts did:
a. Teams of men were organized specialized in different crafts.
b. Jobs delegated- like survey, dig, dispose the soil, manufacture clothing, forge documents, procure contraband materials, keep track of soldiers movement, distract security guards, supplying fresh air in the tunnels with handmade bellows, and to provide lighting in the tunnels. Noise of digging was covered by men singing in chorus.
c. The list of supplies needed for the job was unbelievable: 4000 bed sheets, 600 feet of rope, 1000 feet of wire etc. It took army of prisoners to find and steal all the materials required.
d. Each person had a job. There were tailors, blacksmiths, forgers, pickpockets and camouflage artists.

3. Administrative Process And Behavior
The behavior of each individual has to be directed towards achieving the team’s objective. In the movie we have seen that people exhibited administrative process and behavior.
This movie is a great example of each of these things mentioned above. It doesn't take long for one prisoner, Virgil Hilts (the late Steve McQueen), who earns the nickname "The Cooler King" for his failed escape attempts. Hilts isn't the only prisoner who wants out, a few others hatch a plan to get 250 men out in one night. How it’s executed is a stroke of pure genius and skill. The movie has a vast variety of characters who are allowed to show their feelings, which is a nice touch. There two characters who make solid examples and I cared for the most. One is Colin Blythe (the late Donald Pleasence), a gentle Brit who specializes in forging names and goes blind, the other one in Danny Willinski (Charles Bronson), a Russian who excels in digging tunnels and tends to get rattled.
The behavior is about ordinary people with commitment creating extraordinary team.
Vision inspires team. The prisoners had a vision of becoming free and that inspired the whole team.

4. Administrative Strategy
The organizational structure must follow strategy if implementation is to be effective.
a. Suitable specialization of task: Everybody is specialized in some art and their tasks are well laid out. The scene that impressed me and I think is the best example for administrative strategy is the 4th of July celebration, where Steve McQueen is riding on a motorcycle and McQueen throwing the baseball against the cell wall to test the alertness of the security guards.
b. They had parallel provision for coordinating.
c. Setup information system. The way they setup their information system was amazing.
d. Collaboration is multiplication: complementing one another is important and not competing. We find prisoners working as single unit, and in spite of some misunderstanding never allowed competition between them.
e. Last but not the least: Great challenge require great team work. Though attempt failed in accomplishing its objective but it offered the world a historical example of collective endeavor.

No doubt this movie is all about leadership, sacrifice, relationship building and goal setting. It was sad that they were caught later but their effort which led to achieving impossible is praiseworthy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What can be done to reduce layoffs and increase employment?

Does a family decide to get rid of a member when it undergoes financial crisis? The answer is obvious. When an organisation layoff people, it sends a wrong message to the existing employees, customers and competitors, which is not good if it intends to survive long. Need for layoffs indicate towards either functional inefficiencies or a shrinking customer base. Whatever method is adopted for layoff- performance based or last-in first-out or first-in first-out, companies run into the risk of losing capable resources. India has the largest number of population below the age of 25 in the world. Government and policymakers should ensure that job creation keeps pace with the number of young people reaching working age. Otherwise, it could lead to social disruption and strain our social fabric.

Some suggestions on how to increase employment and reduce layoffs:
1. Analyze and identify the reason why sales are dropping and fix it. Fund and encourage innovation and reward the folks who innovate and help to optimize the processes and differentiate.
2. Companies should adopt measures like - pay cut across-the-board, request voluntary separation or sabbatical and introduce additional days off (without pay) to ensure human capital retention.
3. Investment on resources and time can be directed to produce new competitive business plans. Connecting with customers and Interactions beyond just sales and marketing will generate tremendous ideas for new products.
4. Companies should use available human resource to invest heavily in the future product pipeline and develop the products that customers might want in future. They should also increase effort on long term strategic initiatives, than focusing on current situation.
5. More jobs should be created across all categories of the Indian economy, i.e., services, manufacturing and agriculture. Policies should be put in place to foster faster economic growth.
6. Planning infrastructure projects has multiplier effect on the country's economy, including job creations and accelerating economic growth. Public Private Partnerships should be fostered to fund such projects.
7. We should move our mindset from job seekers to job providers. Entrepreneurship ventures should be encouraged.
8. Employees should keep their skills up to date. Idea is to maintain the employability factors high as companies look for a productive and adaptable workforce. Companies should offer alternate role and location to employees to retain the talent as losing them would mean losing already acquired knowledge.
9. In tough times, when layoffs are imminent and no other options seem viable, companies can look to turn full-time jobs into part time. This way companies can save money and the employees do not lose their jobs.
10. Government should support technical and vocational training institutes and course structure should be expanded to include many new technologies.

It’s natural to feel the heat but tight market should not be a major cause of worry as competitors also face same situation. The points mentioned above would help to limit the damage. We must remember that no one formula will work. It has to be a combination.

- Swapnil Saurav

Thursday, May 28, 2009

HR Practices: Job Evaluation

Job analysis and evaluation (JAE) is the process of creating a structure that establishes the worth of each job to the organization and typically is based on the jobs content (such as the skills needed, job duties, and working conditions) or its external market value and not on the abilities of the individual performing the job. The Job evaluation process was started with the intention of providing Role Clarity to all the employees. Job titles can often be misleading - either unclear or unspecific - and in large organizations it's impossible for those in HR to know each job in detail. This is where JAE helps to understand the each role.
It is essential to have clear, detailed and up-to-date job descriptions on which to base the job evaluation. The JAE data can be meaningfully used for the following processes:
* Recruitment and Induction
* Determining pay and grading structures
* Ensuring a fair and equal pay system
* Deciding on benefits provision - for example, bonuses and cars
* Comparing rates against the external market
* Undergoing organizational development in times of change
* Undertaking career management and succession planning
* Reviewing all jobs post-large-scale change, especially if roles have also changed.

Jobs are basically measured against 3 major factors:
Know How (KH) - Inputs
Problem Solving (PS) - Processing
Accountability (A) – Outputs
I have tried to compile the characteristics that are measured in JAE, by no means it represent exhaustive list:
Knowledge and skills
* work experience
* qualifications
* external qualifications
* specialist training

People management
* human relations skills
* ability to deal with work pressure
* supervisory responsibility

Communication and networking
* social skills
* presentation skills
* diplomacy

Freedom to act
* depth of control
* supervision received

* judgment
* initiative
* analytical ability

Working environment
* knowledge of special working practices
* breadth of management skill required

Impact and influence
* efficiency
* impact on customers
* responsibility
* results of errors

Financial responsibility
* budgeting

There are some principles of Job evaluation are:
a. Job evaluation is an ongoing process.
b. Job evaluation is an evaluation of the role, not the person doing it.
c. A job evaluation scheme should be a fair system, understood by and communicated to employees.
d. It should be transparent, and reviewed regularly to ensure business needs continue to be met. The type of scheme chosen will depend on the organisation needs. But any staff making decisions on job roles will need training in the chosen system.
e. Evaluation is based on Job content which means job that has to be achieved.

Evaluation requirements are met by:
a. Job Understanding by means of job description
b. Judgments: JAE is concerned with making judgments in order to maximize the objectivity
c. Criteria for assessing job content: Number of criteria are required. The two most common criteria of job evaluation are: whole job ranking, where jobs are taken as a whole and ranked against each other; and awarding points for various aspects of the job. In the points system various aspects or parts of the job such as education and experience required to perform the job are assessed and a points value awarded - the higher the educational requirements of the job the higher the points scored.
d. A common scale of measurement is required against which to make judgments.
e. Cross-checks are required to ensure that the judgments are sound.

Involving employees in the job evaluation process can increase their commitment and further engagement with the organisation, but they must remain impartial at all times in the process.

Indian Automobile Industry: Driving to the stars


In 1933, Harlow H. Curtice, president of General Motors had said- “General Motors has no bad years, only good years and better years.” General Motors ruled automobile industry for over 50 years. In 1980, Japan for the first time surpassed the United States as the leading automobile-producing nation in the world. The point being driven here is, there is always something which customers want and even the leaders of the industry fail to see. Ever since then, the world order for leadership in the automobile sector has changed.
Image on the left shows the list of countries by motor vehicle production in 2007. The data for 2008 has been purposefully left out from this study as the current financial turmoil is assumed as a temporary phase, and that things would be back on track sooner or later.

India is currently at 10th position. However, the good news is that Indian automobile industry sales volumes are expected to grow to 3.7 million by 2012 – representing a CAGR of 13.3% (albeit a little lower due to the current financial crisis). The world is now moving towards less expensive and higher fuel efficient cars without compromising on luxury and safety, and this has strengthened the hand of the developing world’s emerging giants. China has become world’s largest manufacturer of passenger cars, though joint ventures with multinational OEMs account for the majority of volumes. Automobile Industry in India too, has come a long way. Time magazine has hailed Tata’s Nano among world’s 12 most important cars of all time. All these are auspicious signs, but fact remain that the Indian Automobile industry is far away from being best in the world. In this article, the strategies that Indian companies are adopting and should adopt to reach closer to the top, are studied. The outline of the article is as follows: Section 2 deals with the opportunities that the Indian automobile companies have in domestic market as well as in international market.

With opportunities come limitations as well. Section 3 talks about the challenges faced by Indian auto companies which could limit the expansion. Finally Section 4 talks about what companies are doing to overcome these challenges and also what they could do more.

2. Opportunities

Automobile demand is influenced by a number of socioeconomic and policy variables, more so in recent times. India has a large consumer base, growing middle class, lot of opportunities opening up, rapid expansion of local production and product launches, rapid rise in income – all these factors are poised to create exciting time ahead.

The Indian government along with support from OEMs and industry experts developed a revised Auto Mission Plan (AMP: 2006-2016) released in mid-2007. AMP Vision for India is “To emerge as the destination of choice in the world for design and manufacture of automobiles and auto components with output reaching a level of US$ 145 billion accounting for more than 10% of the GDP and providing additional employment to 25 million people by 2016”.

These trends have been noticed by the world community and many new market entries are being planned by major OEMs in India. India’s automotive industry is among the fastest growing ones in the Asia-Pacific region. Fastest growing segments are passenger cars; Mini, Small, Medium, Small Pickup, Medium Utility and Medium-Heavy Commercial Vehicles. Companies are looking to take advantage of these opportunities with its current product line-up, and future entries are also being planned in these segments. Introduction of the excise tax benefit for Mini segment vehicles in 2006 pushed up the industry growth. This has attracted foreign OEMs to setup their manufacturing plants in India. The Indian consumer rates technology, comfort and convenience as important considerations for car purchase.

3. Challenges

The challenges faced by India, on the road to becoming the No. 1 in the automobile sector, are also no less in number. Major problem is Infrastructure. India has always been lagging development where growth has pushed authorities to create infrastructure. Lot of infrastructure projects are taking long time for completion and development remains sluggish. Secondly, the Industry remains "Bottom Heavy" with unbalanced segment structure - About 70% of vehicles sold in 2006 were transacted at less than US$15,000. Indian automobile is still heavily skewed towards the low-priced mini car segment (40% of total industry in 2006) with an average transaction price of around US$7,300. Indian firms are not ready with design for advanced market. This means that a large sum of money is to be invested in either R&D or for inorganic growth. It is getting increasingly difficult for Indian companies to fund huge spending for R&D. Recent acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover by Tata motors was felt to be a hasty decision prompting Ratan Tata to say “We went too far too fast”, however such risks have to taken by the companies if they are eying to be a global leader.

India faces a serious threat from Chinese manufacturers. The pro-industry Chinese government policies and the low cost of manufacturing have given Chinese firms a slight lead over Indian firms.

Incidentally, China has overtaken Japan to become the 2nd largest market for automobiles. This has happened due to significant strategic and structural advantages: Chinese carmakers enjoy massive fast growing home market to scale up operations.

They also have significant cost advantages including labor costs and low capital investment. However, Chinese products suffer from quality lapses and lack of prioritizing market segments often paying less attention to marketing and distribution and this is where India stands to gain significantly since it has a better ‘quality’ standing in the global market compared to China.

4. How to face these challenges

Every problem has a solution, but the challenge lies in finding the solution. The following few aspects could possibly help the Indian automobile industry.

Entrepreneurial Aspects

Lee and Peterson (2000) have evolved a cultural model of entrepreneurship. They have proposed that a society’s prosperity to generate autonomous, risk taking, innovative, competitively aggressive and proactive entrepreneurs depend on its cultured foundation. Role of economic, political/legal and social factors are moderators in the relationship between culture and entrepreneurial orientation. Indian automobile company has to adopt entrepreneurship and take risk. There might be a few hiccups on the way but a strong entrepreneurial orientation will ultimately lead to increased competitiveness.

Research & Development

The car industry is different to, say, the mp3 player industry. An Ipod has only one design team, and will look exactly the same no matter where it is sold in the world. This is not the case with automobile industry. The relationship between innovation and market share is one of the cornerstones of economics of innovation and industrial organization at large. Innovators are expected to take advantage of their technological leadership in terms of profitability and market shares (Joseph Schumpeter). The introduction of innovations engenders a competitive advantage and hence a transient market power for innovators. In the developed world, technology has always played an important consideration for vehicle manufacturers as customers have always embraced state of-the art cars. Hence to boost the long-term market capitalization of their companies, executives should focus on new product introductions and resist relying on sales promotions. Although consumer incentives may yield increased short-term performance and/or prevent severe sales erosion while new product projects are in the pipeline, they do not provide a viable long-term answer to the manufacturer’s challenges in the industry.

Engineering Services

Managers should introduce new products and technologies that best complement their existing set of capabilities. Firms need to command a variety of different types of knowledge, so as to bring them together, exploit their complementarities and recombine them in order to introduce technological innovations.

Technological knowledge accumulated and generated within firms is the result of the mix of internal and external knowledge. In turn internal knowledge is generated by means of learning processes and research and development expenditures (Arrow, 1962a). External knowledge is acquired in a variety of ways, including the direct purchase of technological knowledge in the form of patents, services and intermediary research products delivered by third parties (Antonelli and Calderinib, 2007).

Firms should look at the Toyota Production System (TPS). The TPS has led to a movement of ‘lean production’ focused on taking waste out of value streams. Cost reduction is achieved through the use of just-in-time production. Another design worth mentioning here is the concurrent engineering method, still a relatively new design management system, but has become a well-defined systems approach towards optimizing engineering design cycles. Concurrent Engineering has overlapping phases of development, has failure analysis and vendor involvement in the early part of the cycle. These lead to reduced product development cycle time. Rapid learning along with empowered decision-making systems made concurrent engineering initiatives to succeed at Tata motors.

Firms should also look at technological outsourcing and Merger & Acquisitions. Technological diversification is a sign of eventual business diversification. Sometimes, technological diversification is the effect of the general exposure of firms to a new general purpose technology–such as plastics and new information and communication technologies.


After a home, an automobile is generally the second largest purchase a person makes. Therefore, most consumers spend a lot of time researching cars before buying one. This is where the internet has stepped up and become a powerful tool. Selling a car in these internet times takes a lot more than just nationwide television branding. It takes a multi-channel, long-term marketing campaign that follows the customer from initial research on the Internet to purchase in a local dealership. Firms have been successful in implementing direct response marketing. Direct response marketing is a form of marketing designed to solicit a direct response which is specific and quantifiable. The delivery of the response is direct between the viewer and the advertiser. DR has become an effective tool for cost-effective automotive marketing. DR can also provide metrics like ROl from marketing programs. "Many consumers see their vehicle as an extension of themselves. The trick is to tap into that emotion and pay it off with relevant product attributes they are looking for — gas mileage, safety, etc," says Mike Sheldon, president of Deutsch Los Angeles, a multi-disciplinary marketing and communications agency.

Internet Marketing

The advent of social networking sites coupled with technologies such as Web 2.0, which rely on user collaboration and include web services, peer-to-peer networking, blogs, podcasts and online social networks, have made internet marketing an exciting way of reaching out to prospective customers. With India poised to have the largest number of internet users, the prospect of selling and marketing through the internet seems bright for automobile companies. Already, some like TATA Motors are using the internet as an effective way of reaching the young audience. Concepts such as Viral Marketing (marketing your product with the help of a different concept) can help catch the attention of the growing internet users.

Supply Chain Management

On the demand side, there has been a tremendous increase in competition, product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter, and customer’s taste is constantly changing; all of this leads to high volatility in demand. It is difficult to predict customer preferences and trends, and it is even more challenging to identify and acquire relevant demand signals that are both accurate and timely. Firms should find ways to quickly sense customer demand and ways to respond to it. New analytical methodologies, IT framework, and collaborative decision-making processes are to be developed to better match demand with supply. As the Indian automobile industry prepares to make its mark globally, the need to improve supply chain efficiency is being given high priority as these lead to improved operational efficiency.

The CPFR (collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment) program is being adopted by the auto industry. Enterprise Demand Sensing helps organizations to have the Right Product at the Right Place at the Right Time. CPFR can be used for better planning capacity requirements and replenishment activities. Indian firms have to develop sustained competitive strength through quality, innovation and delivery. Practices such as supplier capacity booking, use of Third Party Logistics Providers, shortening of product cycle time, lean methodologies and effective distribution through innovative techniques such as those used by Dell computers can help achieve this advantage.

Foreign Partnership

Tata Motors has expanded its operations in Europe and the Americas through partnership with Fiat. More and more European OEMs are teaming with Indian companies. It gives them access to the growing Indian market, low-cost production and engineering. Indian companies can leverage on such partnerships to be a global player. However, these partnerships have to be strategic in nature and have a long term vision of capturing the world market. A mutual benefit exercise could be one where the Indian company sells its cars through its foreign partner’s distribution channel while at the same time using low cost advantage of India to provide it with components and assemblies.

Create Brand Loyalty

Managers introduce new products as a way to deter or reduce the scale of entry, preserve industry profits by mitigating price competition, or to capture market share from rivals. Luxury producers change models less, and thus choose to maintain the stability and consistency of model designs over time. It is seen that European manufacturers rely on a single design over a longer period of time relative to their Japanese and American counterparts. This is because European consumers are more loyal to particular brands. Thus the European auto market is characterized by long product life cycles, heavy emphasis on engineering elegance, and sophistication. American market focuses on low cost, elaborate body style changes, and powerful engines. The Japanese market is probably the most competitive. Firms that can introduce models quickly to match rivals are successful. These learning can help to form strategies for global operation of Indian companies.


A company must balance to be successful in a global industry. For example, pressures for global integration include multinational customers, multinational competitors, and pressures for cost reduction. Pressures for local responsiveness include differences in customer needs, market structure, and the presence of substitute products. It is argued that successful companies develop unique strategies to respond to both kinds of pressures in varying degrees.

The first area for integration is pressures for global strategic coordination. The second area for integration is pressures for global operational integration. Third, managers need not always incur the high development and launch costs that are associated with major product innovations. Indeed, the U-shaped relationship between innovation level and long-term firm valuation implies that firms can benefit from “pulsing” innovations (i.e., provide minor improvements to their new market entries rather than engage in continuous intermediate-level innovation). A recent study of many categories indicates that “incremental innovations can be drivers of brand growth in their own right” if they represent additional consumer benefits and are introduced more frequently than competitor products.


The situation like recession is a reality check. To sail through such period a flexible system is required. The ability of the organization to cope with the internal changes requires a degree of redundancy in the system, whereas the ability to cope with the external change requires that the systems be versatile and capable of producing wide variety of parts with minimal change over time and costs (Buzacott 1982 and Chung and chen 1990). Descriptive research by Tichy and Devanna (1990) suggests that transformation of an organization follows a process, which includes a sequence of phases: recognizing the need for change, creating a new vision and then institutionalizing the change. Pro-activeness is the single characteristic that discriminates between manufacturing functions. Flexibility can be achieved through careful planning for different scenarios, having a flexible manufacturing system through deployment of lean techniques and an adaptive mindset. Indian automobile industry has felt a need of change and initiated the change process, mostly in a systemic way. But these firms should proceed to higher levels of change as the demand of competition increases.

Social culture

Firms should work for the community needs and view them as opportunities to develop ideas and serve new markets. Its only when community accepts the innovation, business can be successful. Indian companies should look to develop and use alternate sources of fuel. Tata is working with hybrid engine and fuel cell makers including Ballard Power Systems for using their technology in future models. These will not only make Indian companies competitive but also help to improve brand image on global level. In advanced countries, Indian car companies are perceived of producing cars of low quality. This perception if changed will provide great opportunities.

Strengthen the Human Resource Role

Indian automobile firms by going global, look to share and integrate the knowledge from both the world to create something new and stronger, not just bigger and HR has a crucial role to play in ensuring the success of this. One of the key success factors in an automobile company is achieving synergy through cooperation and coordination amongst various employees. Leadership vision along with HR plays an important role in this regard in unifying the employees toward a common goal. "Leadership is about taking the view that people capabilities are a source of competitive advantage", Satish Pradhan, executive vicepresident of group HR at Tata Sons.


Teams of intelligent people are required to execute. According to the resource-based perspective, successful organizations have unique capabilities or resources that give them an advantage over their competitors. Gersick (1994), has found that these resources are valuable when they are rare, inimitable and non-substitutable. Development of social capital within an organization is the source of competitive advantage for a firm.

Leadership skills

The role of leadership cannot be undermined. Companies have to embrace commitments to lead, to compete, to inspire and to learn. Leadership has to have a clear vision of where they want to be in the future and should accordingly create a mission statement that encompasses the same. Leadership should constantly endeavor to “raise the bar” for superior performance but at the same time also reward those who perform.

5. Conclusion

Approximately 900 dealerships left the business in 1991 in US. Similar numbers are predicted for 2008 and 2009. There is good news on the horizon. Private equity groups are bulish on the auto industry's long-term future. Manufacturers and suppliers could see infusions of capital the next several months. The industry appears to be on the cusp of significant technological advancements in vehicles. This alone will drive investment, create new business opportunities and generate excitement again in the showroom. Leading this is our automobile industry along with Chinese counterparts. Managing change is posing a big challenge to Indian firms in the wake of globalization and liberalization. Successful change demands that all major areas of an organization are kept in focus concurrently. These areas are technology, structure, systems, people and culture. It is seen that all these areas are interwoven and cannot be emphasized upon in isolation. It seems, looking at the how things are moving currently, Indian Automobile firms have done INDIAll not only to tackle the competition posed by foreign players in our soil but take the battle to their home turf. Indian Automobile Industry is Rising, Shining and Brimming with Success. Let's watch as they reach for the stars.

- Swapnil Saurav

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Election Commission of India

Conducting successful election in a developing country battling with security threats, with 714 million voters, 4617 candidates, representing some 300 parties, fighting for 543 seats can only be described as “miracle”. Never in our history has anybody been denied to choose their leader because of any reason. Since 1952 India has been the most populous democracy in the world. At 714 million electorates, we are larger than the entire population of any country in the world except China. It is also more than double the total US population, the second-largest democracy in the world.

The Election Commission has the responsibility for delimiting over 3500 assembly and parliamentary constituencies, organizing and conducting elections, registering eligible voters, recognizing political parties and their election symbols, and establishing procedures for the nomination of candidates.

In 2004, the counting of 387 million votes began in the morning. By 10 in the evening, detailed results of 533 of the 543 seats could be accessed on the official website of the Election Commission of India. The remaining 10 were completed the next day. Let’s look at the arrangement made by the Commission this year- elections spread over 1 month, with 828,804 polling stations manned by 4.1 million civil staff members and 2.1 million security personnel has been deployed for the exercise.

To hold free and peaceful elections on such a scale is no mean feat anywhere. Can any organization in the world claim to match this kind of feat of success and achievement? Why that is the office which needs to be praised for their fantastic job is always surrounded by the controversies? Is this the way we honor our heroes?

Elections in 372 (68%) constituencies have been completed. Election 2009 is going to be another jewel in the crow of Election Commission India.

--- Swapnil Saurav

Elections 2009: A Journey so far

Our Leaders

You must have read about the news piece where our Prime Minister Mr. Singh referred to independent candidates as "spoilers", urging voters in Mumbai not to vote them because they cannot win. Can we call this statement Democratic? Does anybody has a right to question someone’s candidature if it’s allowed by the law?
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi called the Congress, "budhia" (old woman) and later "gudia" (doll). BJP prime ministerial candidate L K Advani has been constantly attacking the PM as "weak" and Singh has responded with equally un-intellectual statements. Varun Gandhi's now-infamous speech was a low in this year’s election so was the RJD chief Lalu Yadav's response. Then we had Samajwadi Party’s manifesto creating news for wrong reasons.
Is it really impossible for our leaders to behave responsible and have meaningful debate? Why our prominent leaders fail to use their speeches to address the burning issues instead use merely for an entertainment purpose? Will this election give us leaders who can take India confidently to next height? We still have to wait and see.

Law breakers as law makers

Women MPs, MLAs too have criminal records: The study by the Independent Research Initiative suggests that women leaders don't lag behind when it comes to having criminal records or amassing wealth. Kerala (83%), Bihar(25%) and Chhattisgarh(25%), Madhya Pradesh (22%), Karnataka (20%), Tamil Nadu (19%), Haryana and Orissa (18%), Maharashtra and Punjab (17%), Uttar Pradesh (13%), Andhra Pradesh (8%) and West Bengal (6%). are the states with the highest percentage of women legislators.
However, in 11 states, women legislators do not have any kind of criminal record. The states are Assam, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand. On the whole, about 13 percent of women legislators in states and 14 percent of women MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha had criminal records.
(Source: study by PRS Legislative Research based on affidavits filed by candidates with the Election Commission up to 2007)

My belief is people are really desperate for a positive change and a cleaner political scenario. With the statistics like the one shown above, it does not look that we are moving towards right direction. Does this mean that we trust criminals and expect them to work for the society? What can we do as a citizen to stop this? If people promise not to vote for criminals, then with time even political parties will stop fielding them.

--- Swapnil Saurav
This article was originally written on 30 April 2009 for 5th Dimension- http://sites.google.com/a/spjimr.org/thefifthdimension/elections-2009-a-journey-so-far