Saturday, September 1, 2018

WHOM DID THE BELL RING FOR?

The Kerala deluge is over but it’s after effects continues. It would take very long to get back to normal. In many places, it may even not!

More than 500 dead, a million people in relief camps, properties worth billions of Rupees destroyed, many are rendered homeless. Thousands of people had lost everything. Many places do not exist on the map now. Such trauma, such agony!

The political mudslinging had started. Office bearers  belonging to national ruling front advising country not to contribute any money to Kerala as it is only the rich who got affected. The country says no to big voluntary contributions coming from well meaning nations. Opposition leader calls for judicial investigation into the openings of dams without prior warning. The ruling front refutes. Experts at both side reeling  out judgements. TRP rate goes high on TV Channels!

The major saviours, the fisher folks are back home after saving tens of thousands of lives. The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) works hard. The local youth daringly come forward to assist, many even losing life in the process!

The Monsoon weather, the low pressure at Orissa, no integrated action plans on Dams opening, the neighbouring state playing truant,  the delay in army, navy reaching; there could be thousands of reasons for the high gravitas of the situation.

While we pay obeisance to the departed Souls on accounts of the floods, let us ponder for a moment on .......

What can be done for such a scenario not to repeat in Kerala, ever?

Do we go back and rebuild the same type of houses on fragile land?

Do we clean up the hill tops to make it habitable?

Do we close up riverbeds to create plantations?

Do we construct palatial mansions touching the river to show our pride?

Will we continue to handover dam management to the same departments without an unified integrated plan on opening them on calamity?

Do we sit idle for the powerful neighbouring state to influence the Federal government and other stakeholders not to act upon to  find an alternative to the dilapidated Mullaperiyar dam? 

Will we clamour for our involvement in the dam/river water management of those being owned (?) by the neighbouring states? 

Or

Do we all forget about whatever had happened and get back to our consumption patterns?

How do we move opinions? How do we take defaulters to task? How do we let go our pride of properties and sacrifice ownership for the safety of our people?

Questions linger...….. Remember, the alarm bell had rung!



The message is conveyed in unambiguous terms!



Now is the time for decisions and actions, so that the bells will not toll again!



Monday, April 23, 2018

REFLECTIONS OF A RECENT GUANGZHOU VISIT


Part of the ancestral silk route by the sea, eons ago

Now part of nation’s progress and Chinese ego

Silk gave way to umpteen new merchandise 

It is the new business avenues that it channelize

 
The city spends its energy on economy and eating

Says the brochure, true, people from all over meeting

Buying things made in and around, original and ‘copy’

Meeting low and high aspirations of all the needy

 
Planned out well, ambitiously copying a marque city

Wide roads, multiple metros, abundant electricity

Growing upwards, tall edifices and a CANTON TOWER

Many industry verticals combine here to show the power

 
Modern amenities, fairs and exhibition centres 

Converges buyers of the world in huge numbers

Them come flying in hoards, fill up lodging halls

Each event beating early records by many holes

 
City of Cantonese loving its rich global heritage

With a fertile delta by Pearl river cultivating in acreage

Thousands miles of flow done into South Sea

Rice, corn, millet, fruits and milk all around to see
 

City dwellers, working to strength but lack the zing 

Is there merriment in doing, on the faces does it bring?

Felt it involuntary, are they in motion for its own sake

Or the rulers conjuring it as happiness on the take?

 
Materialism in culture, overshadowing rich tradition?

Everyone behind fast buck and quick satisfaction

Purpose and meaning of living taking the last seat 

Is it, none knows what is in store, thus showing no heat?

 
Now growing into maximum city, powered by industries

And global clients, yet suffering greater uncertainties 

Trade barriers and tariffs, despite ‘open’ economies 

Will future get marred by  induced economic squeeze?
 
 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

EXISTENCE


Existence - the dynamic nature of living
Though born by fluke, without purpose
Some pick up the meaning on the go
Many may not even know
 
Life in its beat sends in strange pictures
Of situations showing up suddenly
Shocked and shivering, you stand to face, get it
Or it gets you, it is survival times, either way!
 
Future becomes  present and past then turns into
An experience in a jiffy and the moment goes by
Away from memory, into oblivion, forever gone
Past is passé you feel, nothing makes any sense?
 
Life begets life, a progeny of your form
 
                              Tradition, legacy and lineage, bringing in
Hierarchies of blood and gene connect 
And keeps you in the maze of lines and layers
 
Ageing, a process, making you realise 
The unwantedness of living, in its end
As repetition of meaningless continuum
Salvation, why is it there in the first place?
 
Endeavours of karma, of getting results
 
Without seeking it and then making it out
In a sorrowful world of food chains, of eating
The lower one or getting eaten up by the higher.
 
Excuses, pushing you, finding forsaken meaning
Making you grow up, die and decay
Back into mother earth, as building blocks
As manure, food, air, water and the like

Friday, May 13, 2016

From Devil to Deep Sea. The story of how the Internet Mega Corps compromise our liberty and life


When communism bit the dust, the world saw the failure of an economic and political experimentation that germinated from the thoughts of intellectuals such as Marx and Angels. While communism had its own glorious moments, its fall is attributed to the indulgences of individual autocrats it produced in various parts of the world who ran the governments.

From a bipolar world, in the nineties of the last century, planet Earth turned into a unipolar one. The shift took away the level of balance being maintained between the nations of the world. Capitalism took control of the world and   governmental/regulatory interferences started coming down. Lack of regulatory control led to huge monopolistic growth of corporations and they started spreading the tentacles over every resource available on the planet; be it men, money or material. The result is that of select few trusts/families and corporations controlling the wealth of the world. These behemoths progressed every year higher than the growth of the nations thus growing into extreme higher riches, going beyond the control of the governments of the world.

Here ends the traditional Industrial revolution. That was where we were at the turn of the century.

Enter technology....

Internet started impacting the world of commerce and business in a big way. Thing started moving from brick and mortar to the online 'click' world. With Web 2.0 arriving, the world moved into social networking that completely changed the behavioural pattern of humanity. Today an in individual is all alone physically but dwells in the crowd of the cyberspace. Relationships and social orders are going thru massive paradigm shift.

Add to that the online commerce. Something that had started as a referral purchase from small online companies had come to be established as big time ‘e-Commerce’ now. This Business is moving into trillions of dollars. Online technology companies grew to become Industrial behemoths. Google, Amazon, Alibaba, eBay there goes the endless list, multibillion dollar businesses having huge market capitalisation.

As it is, at the time of the plateauing of traditional industrial revolution, all major assets of planet Earth had come to be owned by business conglomerates. With the online companies invading further, it had completely become so. With scant respect for the governments around, these industrial and online companies flourish with the laws made by themselves for their own operations!  It is almost like the thief keeping the keys. Has anyone bothered to think of a future where humanity will be completely controlled by the corporates? Time and again, these corporates come out with technological innovations that would enslaven the masses and then everything is simple. Just let them do a little arm twist; you are in their hand, forever.....

It is not only wealth but it is the individual liberties that we are compromising now. In the age of cyberspace that we are now, we are at the mercy of technology which is acting as the regulator. Technology may be considered neutral but the corporate that owns it is not. The intent of the corporate owning the technology will be monetize the technology and amass wealth, thru the regulation that it brings forth thru the technology.  This regulator threatens liberty. Our preoccupation with the idea that liberty means "freedom from government" makes us not see the regulation in the new space.

This regulator is code, the software and firmware that the cyberspace is made of. This code and the architecture; set the terms on which life in cyberspace is experienced. Our privacy protection is determined by the code. This code can censor speech. The code decides whether access to information is general or specific in nature. It also decides who sees what and what needs monitoring.  It is a sort of slow poisoning effect.  We take our sweet time to realize that we had compromised many of our liberties in order to use the technology. In effect it is the technology and companies that own them that is regulating us now.

This regulation will soon change the cyberspace from a place that protects anonymity, free speech, and individual control; to a place that makes anonymity difficult, speech less free, and the user at the mercy of technology experts.

As mentioned already, for the technology and software companies, code is the law and architecture, the policy. Both are made by them. Amply protected by Intellectual regimes, the Internet corporations march the monopolistic way in order to monetize the technology. The pattern is similar to the mega corps of the industrial era in Pharma sector amassing huge wealth through patented medicines. This is just an example.  Human being will be restricted to the area designed by the Internet mega corps, at the beat of the technology. For example remember the attempt made by Facebook Corporation to take control of Indian Internet space through the freebees (www.internet.org) in tandem with a leading business conglomerate of India, with the National government abetting the process. What will all these lead to? Liberty will be lost forever; you will be the pawns at the hands of the mega corps.

What are the governments of the world doing about it? Dictated by the mega corporates, these governments stand as mute spectators with no teeth. Also, most of the governments of the rich nations are headed by the rich guys from the corporate world and thus, crony capitalism has come to stay here.

 There isn't much to govern, leave alone enacting regulations. Most of the governments are part of the plunder. Planet Earth is now fast being annihilated.

Technology which we considered neutral has now come to regulate us.  It is time to wake up and start thinking. Is this a world you and I have envisaged that technology would help us reaching our aspirations? We are slowly moving from the devil of Industrial Corporations to the deep sea of Internet Mega corps.

So the question is, what does future hold for you dear?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Nation on the move: the Dynamics of Demographics


India is a truly diversified nation. A federal system with thirty odd states and union territories within, of different culture, cast and creed, different climatic zones,  the population speaking hundreds of languages;  India with the multiplicity of  hues and shades that it possesses in every area, stands so unique among nations of the world. Managing a nation as diverse as India, could be a challenge for any Government.

Helped by global changes such as fall in crude oil prices and increased inflow in FDI that helped the country in controlling its Current Account deficit, the national planners today focuses on imaginative campaigns such as ‘Clean India’ ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’ and now ‘Startup India’ etc. Infrastructure, Energy, Healthcare and Entrepreneurship development are paramount priorities for the Central Government.

Within this background, we have to view the Indian demography.  Heading to become the most populous nation of the world in a decade, India enjoys the unique advantage of having more than 50% of its denizens coming under the age of 25 years. It is estimated that by the year 2020, Indian will be one of the youngest nation on the Planet Earth with an average age of 29 years, which is far lower than China, America and Europe. With its youth power at the peak, the nation offers many possibilities and opportunities to its citizens.

 Indian youth also have to face its challenges.  That comes in the form of unskilled labor, rural population, global job travel restrictions and limited focus on entrepreneurship. These challenges have to be overcome so that the country can enable and empower its youth into job creation, wealth creation and the distribution of the same.

 In the last decade, many nations of the world underwent drastic political changes within, led predominantly by its youth who were idling and were devoid of activities of employment and entrepreneurship. They felt suffocated within their existing systems led by people who were alienated from the reality, sitting in glass houses, on denial. For a nation such as India, with more than 65% of its population below the age of 35 years, there could be a demographic disaster.  This calls for campaigns to consolidate and lead Indian youth power constructively into peaceful activates of job and wealth creation.

 Between  the agony and ecstasy of the its growth, somewhere the planners of the country couldn’t focus properly on the necessity of preparing the Indian youth to take up employment which lies not only in the brick and mortar economy but also in the digital world. Unskilled labour is an unwanted force. Immediately the country needs to define various skills (old and new) that are required, create the curriculum and impart the same through the existing and new institutions.

An ageing world would require assistance from the youth for running their affairs smoothly. For every nation of the world, youth power is required for sheer existence. India possesses the Youth power in abundance.  Immediately equipping Indian youth with skills and empower them to meet the current and emerging global needs will be an opener for them travel across the world. An example is the Indian IT force during the turn of the last century.

 A century so characterized by Knowledge, it is imperative that the people are imparted with the same. Therein comes the process of learning.  Of the various methodologies that are available today, experiential learning process gains utmost leeway in developing personnel.  

 Preparing Indian youth, skilling them up, upgrading their proficiency and making them employable and or leading them to entrepreneurship are the Nation’s top most priority

 To put it briefly, India has its work cut out for the future.

Mentoring: The need of the hour for start-up entrepreneurs


Start-up Challenges

Rahul has always been a creative kid. He is among ideas and comes out with solutions on how to improve things, fill the gaps and resolve challenges being faced by humanity. Everyone known to him expected him to make a good entrepreneur and later a successful industrialist. After his engineering studies, he went ahead in right earnest to bring up a company by converting some of the ideas that he had nurtured long in his mind, into product solutions.

As Rahul started up, he began facing many challenges in the company related to manpower, governmental regulations and in organizing finance. He never had any inkling of these before and never faced any of it. Alone, he started getting into the resolutions and in the process, his product ideas completely took a back seat. Instead of spending quality time on his ideas, he began running after government offices and financial institutions to solve the impediments that never seemed to end. After two years, nothing happened and Rahul by then had turned out into a tired, unhappy, passion less person. He was completely crestfallen and he dropped out of his entrepreneurial journey.

Mohan was a young person full of ideas and passion with a high level of innovation within him. As he finished his studies, he wanted to try his hands in entrepreneurship. Though he had fairly good idea of his product solution, in order to understand the business and its processes, he started attending seminars and workshops related to entrepreneurship where he established traction with some experienced people. In the process, he could get a fairly good know of things in the anvil. It is then he decided to get an experienced, empathetic advisor on a long term basis to guide him in his difficulties. His search led to a former CEO of a company who accepted to take up the role. As he started his journey of entrepreneurship, Mohan could seek guidance from his advisor on a continuous basis and with that, he went on building up his company and turned out to become an award winning start-up entrepreneur in two years’ time.

Perhaps if Rahul, instead of jumping right into making of the company all by himself, had taken the route of Mohan, he too could have become a successful businessperson.

The difference between Rahul and Mohan is very clear; Mohan had a mentor which Rahul didn’t have.

Who is a Mentor?

The story of Mentor comes from the Greek classic; Odyssey by Homer. Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, before he goes to fight the Trojan War, entrusts the care of his son Telemachus to Mentor, his friend and relative, so that Mentor could bring up Telemachus as a King in his absence which Mentor did, in the due course.

The word Mentor evolved to mean trusted advisor, friend, teacher and wise person. History offers many examples of helpful mentoring relationships: Socrates and Plato, Hayden and Beethoven, Freud and Jung etc. Mentoring is a fundamental form of human development activity where one person invests time, energy and personal know-how in assisting the growth and ability of another person. The mentor may be older or younger, but have a certain area of expertise. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn.

History is replete with feat of princes and kings making their mark which we read and get thrilled, but people like us can also get into accomplishments and each of us has a birthright to actualize our potential.  It is where mentors come, as they help us to move toward that actualization.

The person in receipt of mentorship is was earlier known as a ‘protégé’- an apprentice and in the recent years, as a ‘mentee.

The act of Mentoring

As mentioned in the beginning, mentoring is the process of informal transmission of knowledge, social capital and psychological support received from an experienced person by a recipient as relevant to his work, career or professional development.  Mentoring usually is informal communication, mostly face-to-face, for long-term duration, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge or experience and a person who is perceived to have less.

Mentoring existed since Ancient Greek times. By 1970s, it spread to the developed industrialized nations like the United States of America and later to other parts of the world, mainly in individual developmental context.  American management describes it as an innovation in people development.

Mentors bring a positive difference in the lives of the mentees. They wear many hats, acting as consultants, counselors, role models, cheerleaders, advocates, and friends. Mentors share some basic qualities such as:

·         A sincere desire to help a person

·         Respect for young people

·         Active listening skills

·         Empathy

·         Ability to see solutions and opportunities

·         Farsightedness

·         Flexibility

The start-up entrepreneurs need an ecosystem to succeed. They are constantly breaking rules and making mistakes in their effort to drive the businesses forward, not knowing whether they are doing the right thing or not. For this very reason, having a mentor is invaluable.

It is unto the mentee to choose his mentor. Essentially a business mentor must be a person of experience in the domain the mentee dwells. He must have ‘been there and done that’. Such a mentor understands the business completely; its best features and the pitfalls. The mentee must take notice of the background of the advisor and approach the person to be his mentor. Such a relationship will add immense value to the business.

As an aspiring company-builder, the entrepreneur always find himself in situations where  he “doesn’t know what he doesn’t know” but he has to stay in the motion and make decisions regardless. The smaller the company, the faster is the need to move, often without enough information to make perfect choices. Without a savvy guide, in the form of a mentor, he may end up making crucial early mistakes that could have otherwise been avoidable.

Every single day, the start-up entrepreneur face challenges. It is where having good mentor becomes essential. A good mentor’s advice will help you take action on your imperfect “good plans” because they can give you extra confidence to move forward without hesitation. The mentees can talk to their mentors frequently and it helps them take timely sensitive decisions to move forward faster

A mentor also connects the mentee to the stake holders in the business eco system. It could be the customers, the regulators or the financiers. So when the mentee does not know whom to meet for a favourable decision, it is the mentor who with his years of acquaintance with many professional and entrepreneurs around, calls them up and connect them to the mentee. It goes a long way as otherwise the mentee would only have been cutting circles in the periphery and wasting his time.

What Mentors are not

A mentor is not a bank that he would dole out funds for the young entrepreneur whenever he is in financial trouble. At the first place, a mentor could oversee the financial situation and assist the mentee not to create a financial mess or if genuinely funds are required, he could get the mentee connected the appropriate agencies such as Angel/Venture capitalist, Financial institution etc.

A mentor is not a punching bag. Many often it happens that the mentee gets into deeper emotional relationship with the mentor. It is really detrimental to the progress of the organization as the emotional bond will take away the objectivity that the mentor could bring into the relationship. When the objectivity is lost, the mentor-mentee relationship truly loses the value.

A mentor is not a ‘no’ man. The changing times has brought in so much of changes in the buyer/customer/consumer behaviors. The old rules and process of engagement may have been obsoleted. If a mentor clings to those and does not understand the changing times and adamantly advises the mentee to stick to basics, then he is not delivering any value but also retards the progress of the enterprise.

A mentor must not be part of the loot. He should never lead the mentee to any unethical/illicit situations. In this world of fast bucks, it is possible that the lure may tempt the entrepreneur to go after it. So making short cuts and greasing palms could therefore be a way. If the advisor too is guiding his ward into the world of quagmire and deceit, he is not qualified to be a mentor.

The ‘Start-up India’ Program

It is really exciting times for the start-ups in India. The union government has taken many entrepreneur friendly policies to help the startup revolution that they plan to bring out in the country. Dedicating INR 10,000 Crores towards it, the government plans to exempt the startups from paying income tax in the first three years, allowing 80% percent deduction in patent fees, starting up industry specific incubators, industry-academia  partner program etc. All these will give the necessary fillip to the new startup entrepreneurs.

In his announcement speech at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi; Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken time to tell the entrepreneurs assembled there and to those listening to him from various parts of the nation thru electronic media, about the necessity of having good individual business mentors to help the start-up.

It is indeed a good advice to heed. A good mentor reduces so much of business risk. Being alone at the top, the entrepreneur really could be on the lookout for a sounding board or a saner advice at the difficult times and having a good mentor by the side is a great relief

Conclusion

Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter. This increases the entrepreneur’s self-esteem considerably and gives him the confidence to move forward as he would be assured of an experienced sane advice at all point of his forward momentum.

Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and career situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity.

The sad fact is that in spite of the understanding, yet one in three young people will grow up without the critical asset called a mentor!