Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CHANAKYA’S NEW MANIFESTO - Pointers to Solving India’s Long Standing Problems

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Here is a non-fictional creation by Sri.Pavan K. Varma, which is a treatise to Chanakya and his much valid and valued theory. Chanakya’s New Manifesto analyses the multiple challenges facing the country and proposes solutions to them.
What would Chanakya do if confronted with the various crises that beset contemporary India? Using this question as the primary point, Sri. Varma makes a practical and detailed plan, modelled on Chanakya’s Arthashastra, to bring about reform in the following five priority areas that need urgent attention.
1. Governance: - Sri. Varma elaborates in 57 points, the reforms required in Governance and the necessity of pre-announced coalition, Governance Agenda, Lock in period of 3 years, Governance Appraisal Panel, duties and powers of the Prime Minister, integrity of the Government employees and so on for safeguarding national interests. 
2. Democracy: - In order to take the measures required restoring credibility and dignity to Indian democracy, Sri. Varma elucidates in 87 points like formation of an Apex committee for electoral reforms, accounting of donations to political parties, compulsory submission of audited accounts by parties, strengthening of the EC with a special cell of the income tax department to vet the declaration of the assets of the electoral candidates etc.
3.Corruption:-If corruption becomes a matter of great risk ,where the odds are heavily stacked against perpetrators, it is likely that every one takes care. Hence there are 111 points discussed like reforms in funding and financial accountability of the political parties and the political system, neutral infusion of technology, elaboration and finalization of a model legal framework ensuring transparency and fairness in all laws relating to buying and selling of national resources and government procurement processes and institution of prompt and regular deterrent action for all acts of corruption. 
4.Security:-For creating an integrated security infrastructure, 58 points have been given envisaging the creation of the Policy Planning Division, Defence Committee, Defence Procurement Directorate ,Border Infrastructure Cell, separate ministry of internal security comprising of anti –terrorism and anti- insurgency units.
5.The creation of an exclusive society:- Creation of a pro-active exclusive society is explained in 41 points which include effective implementation of unique identity based services, adoption of a new National Mission on Agriculture, creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle to fast track the proposals of labour intensive manufacturing sector, prioritizing the Health sector, coordinated efforts in education and developmental activities and so on.     
Hence in the author’s own words “Chanakya’s New Manifesto proposes a comprehensive blueprint for change” and it is a book that should be attentively read by everybody.
The statistical data and the facts given is a manifestation of Sri. Varma’s dedication and sincerity to his work. Looking forward that someday this will be a text book for some curriculum of progressive India.
This review is a part of the Indian Bloggers Book Reviews Program. Participate now to get free books!
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Human Resources!

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(This blog post is written by VIT University student NikhilChandwani, who is also a novelist and a poet. His first novel “I wrote your name in the sky….And Yours….And Yours too” was recently published.)
The three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness. But for some people, humans are resources.
Microwave ovens are resources, phones are resources, laptops and internet are all resources – but humans are humans.  And the sooner we realize that, the better it will be for all of us.
Addressing or using human as “resources” most likely commenced in medieval times when there were autocratic lords and they had labors who sow their crop, cut their harvest, look after their livestock and to do all the other things that required humans.  If a labor died or was handicapped they could simply be replaced by another who could do the same thing – a typical direct replacement, like replacing your refill when the pen ink gets over.
However,  we now live in more civilized times (even if you feel that your boss is a autocratic lord sometimes, trust me, he cannot order your head chopped off anymore!) and I feel that it is time we stopped using humans like that – as if they were replaceable or renewable and regenerable cogs (aka resources) in some huge organic engine.
IT jobs these days by its very nature is a creative pain – you may spend countless hours or days on a problem without coming up with a optimum answer and all of a sudden it strikes you when you go to get that fifteenth cup of coffee to keep you alive  Or maybe you need to just sleep on it and the next day on your way to to your office it all magically becomes clear and you wonder how you missed something so simple and obvious.
Show of hands – how many people have never had this happen once in their career so far?  No hands?  I thought so!
Anyway, the point I want to make is that the real resource you need care about if you are a project manager (God help you!) is not the quantity  humans or the time they should spend on a given problem or a piece of so called work.  Instead, you should be worrying about their levels of result, inspiration, motivation and even current mental state.  Sadly, these are all very ideals and abstract qualities and, moreover, they do not have any units of measurement.  Project managers cannot say, for example – I need 7 grams of creativity, 120 metres of inspiration and 10 motivations on this project for the next 6 months.  So, ironically, they only decision or measurement what they can – number of people and time – and think they are done. That is where the debate comes in, because
'X' people is not equal to 'X' other people
Actually, the real fallacy is not in the numbers themselves but in considering them as if they were only numbers.  They are not – not numbers, not resources, not exchangeable, not replaceable.  They are humans – real, live, blood and flesh and feelings humans who have their own strengths and weaknesses, their own likes and dislikes, their own hopes and fears and dreams and their own state of mind on any given day, and who will go to the corners of the planet to pull off a miracle for you if they actually want to.
If you only considered them like – humans.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Typical South Indian Engineering College

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Other day I visited one of the self financing engineering to deliver a two hour lecture. This is the narration of what happened on that day of my visit. You visit majority of the established self financing colleges as guest and I am sure you will have some similar experiences.
On my arrival I was taken to the guest house and almost an hour later the Principal of the college joined me for breakfast. He started talking about the college and why his college is one of the best in the town. Here is the conversation happened between Principal and me.
Principal: Sir, you know one thing about this engineering college, we are consistently getting University ranks in each branch for the last three years. In fact last year first rank in Civil, Electrical and Electronics branch was from this college. 
Me: That is really good, so what was the percentage you need to get to become University topper?

Principal: Around 85%... 
Me: That may be tough to get, right?
Principal: Yes it is… but we are able to achieve this mainly due to the disciple we enforce in our college.
Me: Discipline? What kind of discipline are you talking about?
Principal: We make sure that 100% attendance in class is ensured even though University mandates only 75%. Even you miss one day of class you need to bring the letter from parents. No boy or girl is allowed to talk anywhere outside of their classes. Even in the college bus we have separate section for boys and girls and we have appointed teachers in each bus to make sure that no interaction happens between boys and girls.
Me: In this age also you are able to implement all these?
Principal: (very enthusiastically) we follow these rules very strictly. Girls staying in hostel have to be in the room by 6:00 PM and boys by 7:00 PM. Disciple is strictly enforced in the hostels also. Even when electricity goes off not even a single student shouts. If any of these rules are violated, they are severely punished. We have also uniform for both boys and girls in college.
Me: So do these students do anything other than studies?
Principal: Yes of course. We conduct annual cultural festivals where students can exhibit their various talents and we invite all the parents also for this cultural festival. But there also we enforce strict disciple by not allowing any western influence in these cultural festivals.
Me: What do you mean?
Principal: We don’t allow any cinematic dance or western style dance in our cultural festival.
Me: But those dances are so common these days.
Principal: These dance corrupt young mind. We strictly don’t allow boys and girls to interact. Our main selling point during admission is that “engineering education preserving Indian values”. Allowing these kinds of dances is against our principles and most of the parents also won’t like it.
Me: So students organize these  events?
Principal: No way. Teachers do it. How can you make students do all these? They are here to study, right?
Me: Do you have internet connection in the campus?
Principal: Yes we do. Our entire campus has wireless internet connection. Any student or faculty can use it. But we made sure that websites like Facebook, Orkut, all chat sites email sites other than college email is blocked. Why should student waste their time on such website that doesn’t do any good to their studies? Also all our internet servers are switched off at 10 PM.
We just talked for few more minutes and then I was taken to a room where I was supposed to talk. There was close to 300 final year students in that large room and I was supposed to give a motivational speech. Typically during my talks I try to interact with students rather than having a monologue where I am the only person talking. After few minutes into my talk I asked for a volunteer from among students to come up to the stage and talk for a minute about a person who has influenced you the most in your life.
Every student in the audience was looking down so that I won’t pick him/her to come to the stage. Finally I have to force someone to come and talk. I gave the microphone to that student and he was virtually shivering and could not talk even a single word. I have to make him go and forced another student to come to the stage. She also behaved the same way. This continued with another four students and I stopped this whole exercise. I realize that no student has the confidence to come and talk in front of their own class mates. 
I continued with my talk and after an hour into my talk I briefly started talking about resumes. I asked that crowd of over 300 students how many of them have resumes and any guesses on how many hands went up – ZERO. I was not surprised; I have seen it in so many other colleges – final year students with no resume.
I somehow finished the talk and now it is time for lunch. For lunch I was joined with Principal and Head of the Departments (all retired from some engineering colleges and over 65 years old). While we were having lunch I started this conversation after seeing how dormant the students were during my talk. 

Me: Do you have any campus placement happening here?
Principal: We are trying hard, some companies are coming but did not take any of our student.
One of the HOD: Sir, during interview these students don’t open their mouth. You saw today during your talk, right? These students are not at all smart. They only know how to mug up and write the exams.
Another HOD: We have paid huge money and got online access to most of the good journals. But rarely students use these resources even though we are providing high speed wireless internet access to all students.
Principal: We are giving them all they need. Still they don’t have the urge to develop those skills.
Me: May be if you take out those barriers – I mean allowing internet access 24 hours with no sites blocked, removing the rules that boys cannot talk to girls, increasing the entry time to hostels of both boys and girls, may be give the students more freedom and responsibilities may help
Principal: What Sir? Now they are not getting any jobs. If we do like what you just mentioned then even their values will be lost. They may be able to get jobs anytime but if the Indian value system is lost, it is lost for ever!!!
Me: Hmmm…..
I left that college in another 20 minutes understanding fully well that no miracle can save those kids. As long as we have people in the form of teachers and parents who believe that restricting everything a student likes is the best way to imbibe disciple and Indian values such colleges will thrive.
I rest my case here. Amen….
Photo taken from www.diplomaguide.com
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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Five Things I Like to See Differently in India

For India to progress as a nation there are so many things that need to be done differently and here is a list of five of them that needs to be addressed sooner than later.
No More Evil Customs and Traditions
We have come a long way from the custom of practicing Sati. But more needs to be done. There are still lot of things done in the society in the name of “Custom” that is so outdated that we need to put an end to. Recently I went to a marriage of one of my friends and what I saw there was shocking. The bride’s parents have to buy stuff to fully furnish a new house and that has to be exhibited on the day of marriage. Now all those who come for the marriage after greeting the bride and groom will go to see the stuff the bride’s parents have brought for the groom. From kitchen utensils to multiple air conditioners to cars will be there for exhibition and later taken to groom’s house. I was told the way this works is groom’s father hands over the list to bride’s father who makes sure that the list is fully taken care of on the day of the wedding! We say giving dowry is prohibited by law in India and these kinds of things still happen in India. It is high time we stop following things in the name of custom and tradition.
Equal Respect for All Jobs
One of the most important things I learned during my stay in US – give equal respect to all jobs and people doing those jobs. In India for example a driver or janitor is always looked upon as someone doing a menial job and never respected. The people who are supposedly doing menial job are almost always ill treated. This has to change and all of us should learn to respect every job. The person doing the so called “menial job” may not have been fortunate to earn a college degree like me or you but he is expert in the area where he is working just like you or me. This change in attitude is very much needed if India needs to progress into a developed country.
United India
During our school days we have learned “Unity in Diversity” about India. But are we united in true sense? There is divide between North and South India, divide based on language, religion, states to name few. If you want to understand the hatred that exists go to some online forums or comment sections of some popular websites like rediff. Even in the last 4 months in my new job, what I am seeing is that there is not much interaction among the students from North and South India. Being a teacher in a school that has students from all over India, looking around you could clearly see the divide based on region. With culture and language so different in each state it is tough to agree on all the issues but it is time we throw away the regionalism from our mind for the good of India.
Cleaner and Greener India
Let us accept the fact – India is getting more and more polluted day by day and it is the duty of every citizen who loves India to take steps in their own life to arrest this trend. If the environment gets polluted and degraded at this alarming rate, India as a nation has no future. The painful thing is that even those people who know the implication of pollution are not ready to change their lifestyle to reduce the pollution happening around them. If we don’t take corrective measures now in another two decades, the progress of India as a nation will be highly hampered due to the uncontrolled environmental pollution and destruction happening around us.
Equal Rights and Respect for Women
In paper, Yes, the women in India have equal rights and respect. But in reality is that the case? During nights in India you rarely see any women traveling alone. Why? Some may argue it is our culture and crap like that but the main reason is she feels insecure to travel alone during nights in India. In US my wife used to go alone for shopping even at mid night driving the car and she never felt anything odd in that even though it was an alien country for us. Back in India, she is not comfortable going out alone even around 8 pm in the night even though it is her own country. Now India as a nation cannot progress until half of its population feels that they have all the rights and respect as their counterparts not only in paper but also in practice.
Let me conclude this piece by what a farmer recently told me. I stayed with one of my friend’s parents in Madurai few days back. They have some agricultural land and they earn a living by cultivating rice for ages. Since their daughter is in US, they have lived close to one year in US and are familiar with the way things happen in US. When I met them at their house in Madurai, they told me that they decided not to do any planting this year. The reason was that government gave approval for a big multinational mining company very close to their agricultural land and they started mining that went over 400 feet. The wells, the farmers depended on for water were around 100 feet deep and once the mining company started digging 400 feet deep, all these wells went dry. My friend’s parents were helpless as they don’t have any place to go and complain. My friend’s mother was telling me, “We in India only think of today and not about tomorrow. We use our resources as if there is only “Today” and no “Tomorrow”. What I like in US is that they use resources “today” after fully thinking about “tomorrow”. It is time for people of India to start thinking about tomorrow and not about today”. I fully agree with her.
Yes, let us make the necessary changes today so that we will have a better tomorrow!
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Chanakya's New Manifesto

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R.I.P - Second Feedom Struggle in India fought by Resurgent Indian Patriots

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Here’s a military thriller by Mukul Deva, with non- stop action and well researched storyline.
Karmanye vaadhikaarasthay maa phaleshu kadachana, maa karma-phala-hetur bhur maa te sangho ‘stv akarmaani’”, which means we have a right to perform our prescribed duty, but we’re not entitled to the fruits of our actions. We should never consider ourselves the case of the results of our actions, and never be attached to not doing our duty. This verse from Bhagvad Gita is the guiding principle of the Resurgent Indian Patriots, a group of six  formed by Retired Colonel Krishna Athawale to end corruption and greedy politicians ,so that the common man can rest in peace while living his life in India.
In his own words, the author Mukul Deva writes “all these years, no matter which party came to power, they (the corrupt) all survived because all of them were in cahoots. All of them aware that if they kept quiet about the others, they in turn would keep quiet about them and everyone got to milk the nation. That is how the Indian politician had survived all these years. That is why no Indian politician had ever been found guilty of any wrongdoing or convicted by any court”.
The story begins with the killing of kins of famous corrupt politicians in Bihar, Pune and Chennai by the RIP with their announcement in all the TV Channels that if no immediate action is taken on the errant politicians, one corrupt person would be executed every day for three days, viz. a corrupt politician involved in land scam,  a corrupt judge and a  corrupt arms dealer, starting from the next day and that India will no longer tolerate the rape of the motherland. Then comes the superb narration of the   plans of the RIP headed by Krishna and his group comprising of Karan, Kevin, Kashif, Kunal and Kamlesh names of all starting with the letter ‘K’, which are fruitfully executed, inspite of the stiff contests from the CBI’s men headed by Vinod Bedi and the Home Ministers personal investigation team headed by Raghav Bhagat .The final killing of the designated heir of the political heirachy and the formation of the Government by the newly formed political party  -Incredible Resurgent India is the silver lining .The softer portion of the story has three characters Pooja the dead wife of Krishna, Reena Bhagat , the separated wife of Raghav and love of Krishna and Paayal, the understanding sister of Krishna.
Even though in the disclaimer given in the Author’s page, Mukul Deva has stated that the characters are purely fictional, one can surely discern their likeness with the Indian political scenario. The description of the unconditional selfless service of the RIP with no avarice for award or reward is fine and inspiring. The story is crisp and fast moving. 
This is a lucidly written thought provoking thriller proving the ingenuous patriotism of Mukul Deva in every word and deed of the novel. A heart rending tale from one who has lived by the gun. A must buy for a good collection of modern literature.
This review is a part of the Indian Bloggers Book Reviews Program. Participate now to get free books!
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