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Archive for March 2013

विचारों की सान पर…

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Bhagat Singh Sukhdev Rajguruआज ‘असली शहीद दिवस’ है – बस हम जानते नहीं हैं।

शहीद शिवराम राजगुरु, शहीद सुखदेव थापर और शहीद सरदार भगत सिंह 23 मार्च 1931 को अपना बलिदान दे कर जा चुके हैं। देश स्वतंत्र भी है, शायद। कम से कम किसी दूसरे देश का गुलाम नहीं है, बाकी तरह की गुलामियत के बारे में नहीं कहता।

भगत सिंह ने जीवन के कुल 23 वर्ष ही पूरे किये। जितना ज्यादा मैं जानता-पढ़ता हूँ उनके बारे में, मेरा आश्चर्य बढ़ता जाता है कि इस छोटी सी उम्र में उनके सोचने-समझने की क्षमता कितनी जागृत और परिपक्व थी। क्या आप जानते हैं उनके विचार और लड़ाई सिर्फ ब्रिटिश साम्राज्य के खिलाफ ही नहीं थी; सामाजिक पिछड़ेपन, साम्प्रदायिकता, अकर्मण्यता और विचारों के क्षेत्र में अन्धविश्वास के विरुद्ध भी उनकी लड़ाई थी? शायद आज का युवक ये जानता ही नहीं। और ऐसा क्यों न हो, जब हमारी अपनी ‘स्वतंत्र’ सरकारों ने ही हमारे क्रांतिकारियों के विचारों को, उनकी याद को, महज एक ‘धन्यवाद्’ का रूप दे रखा है जो आज के दिन की तरह समाचार-पत्रों में एक-चौथाई पेज में छपता है, बस।

भगत सिंह के बारे में बात करते हुए एक जगह ‘शहीद भगत सिंह शोध समिति’ के डॉ. जगमोहन सिंह और डॉ. चमन लाल ने लिखा है (पुस्तक: ‘भगतसिंह और उनके साथियों के दस्तावेज’) –

“…आज सबसे बड़ी ज़रूरत इस बात की है कि शहीद भगत सिंह के मूल वैचारिक तत्त्व को जाना व समझा जाये। यह पहचानने की ज़रूरत है कि वे कौन से सिद्धान्त थे, कौन से तरीके थे और कौन से गुण थे, जिससे भगत सिंह आत्म-बलिदान करनेवालों में सबसे ऊँचे स्थान के अधिकारी बने? वे कौन सी परिस्थितियाँ थीं, जिन्होंने भगत सिंह को भारतीय चेतना का ऐसा अन्श बनाया कि एक ओर तमिलनाडु में उन पर कविताएँ लिखी जाती हैं तो दूसरी ओर भोजपुर में होली के गीत में ‘भगत सिंह की याद में अँचरिया भीग जाती है।’ लेकिन ऐतिहासिक दुखान्त यह भी घटता है कि जब वर्तमान की समस्याओं का सामना करने के लिए हम अपने अतीत से उदाहरण खोजते हैं तो अतीत के सारतत्व को नहीं, उसके रूप को अपनाने की कोशिश करते हैं, जैसा कि भगत सिंह व उनके साथियों के साथ सरकारी और कुछ अन्य प्रचार-माध्यमों ने किया है।”

लेखकगण आगे लिखते हैं,

“शहीद भगत सिंह न सिर्फ वीरता, साहस, देशभक्ति, दृढ़ता और आत्मा-बलिदान के गुणों में सर्वोत्तम उदाहरण हैं, जैसा कि आज तक इस देश के लोगो को बताया-समझाया गया है, वरन वे अपने लक्ष्य के प्रति स्पष्टता, वैज्ञानिक-ऐतिहासिक दृष्टिकोण से सामाजिक समस्याओं के विश्लेषण की क्षमता वाले अद्भुत बौद्धिक क्रांतिकारी व्यक्तित्व के प्रतिरूप भी थे, जिसे जाने या अनजाने आज तक लोगो से छिपाया गया है।”

मैं समझता हूँ कि यह सच बात है कि हमारी सरकारों ने भगत सिंह और अन्य साथी क्रांतिकारियों के विचारों की पूर्णता को जन-मानस के सामने लाने का कार्य नहीं किया है। पर क्या ये भी सच नहीं है कि देश के नागरिकों ने, युवा-समाज ने भी अपनी ओर से ईमानदार कोशिश ही नहीं की है जानने की? क्या आज भी हम भगत सिंह का सिर्फ क्रांतिकारी स्वरुप नहीं जानते? और क्या हमने कोशिश की है कि हम भगत सिंह के बौद्धिक और वैचारिक स्वरुप को जान पाएं और उनसे सीखें?

कई बार सुनता हूँ कि किस प्रकार से देश में नेतृत्व का अभाव है, ज्ञान का तो और भी ज्यादा। शिकायत है कि नेता नहीं मिलते। और सिर्फ राजनीति की बात नहीं हो रही यहाँ पे, कार्य-क्षेत्र में तो नेतृत्व-क्षमता के अभाव का रोना लगभग रोज़ ही सुनता हूँ। आप भी शायद मानेंगे। पर फिर पूछने की इच्छा होती है कि क्या हम वास्तव में सीख रहे हैं पुराने नेतृत्व से, विचारों से? वो नेतृत्व और विचार जो सिर्फ समय के हिसाब के पुराने होंगे, पर परिपेक्ष्य, उपयोगिता और प्रासंगिकता के हिसाब से बेहद कारगर हैं आज…

“स्वतंत्रता का पौधा शहीदों के रक्त से फलता है”, भगत सिंह ने लिखा था। शहीद राजगुरु, शहीद सुखदेव और शहीद सरदार भगत सिंह के विचारों व कर्मों से रोपित और रक्त से संचित आज ये पौधा भले ही पेड़ बन गया हो, मीठे फ़लों से बहुत दूर है।

आओ दोस्तों, आज शहीदी दिवस पर ये प्रण लें कि जानना शुरू करेंगे उन सिद्धांतो को, उन विचारों को, जिन्होंने एक 23-वर्षीय युवक भगत को ‘शहीद सरदार भगत सिंह’ बनाया। शायद ये हमारे भी कुछ काम आ जायें…

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What My Best Bosses Taught Me…

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Leader TeacherIn my eight years of working life, I worked with some superb leaders. However, my first Manager will always be very close to my heart; he was the one who picked me right after the MBA-school and taught me the grind of the corporate world. A really demanding guy he was; his toughness ensured I learn everything the right way. There were no short-cuts allowed. He motivated and pushed me hard. In short, he shaped my career and my thought-process for the formative years.

After four years, I met another superb leader, who hired me to be the part of his dream-team, and took me to an altogether next level of learning and performance. Unlike my first boss, he was far younger, albeit an equally strong leader. He taught me another set of valuable lessons, and refined me into a better professional and a leader.

From a young, raw, inexperienced management trainee to now a people-leader myself, these two bosses left an indelible impression on my professional and personal lives. Here, I am sharing some of the key things they taught me; some very simple things they said and did proved to be the most effective learning later.

As a young management trainee, here is what I learnt from my first boss…

  • Whatever is worth doing, it’s worth doing in a process-oriented manner – create processes for everything you do.
  • Be a subject matter expert – there is nothing better than knowing your job the best.
  • Be in office at least one hour before an important presentation. Visit the room where the meeting is scheduled; check the projector, see if it works fine with your laptop. That’s being ready and being on-time…
  • Either you work hard for the first 20 years of your life and enjoy the rest of it, or you enjoy the first 20 years and you would find yourself working very hard to live your rest of the life.
  • If you don’t really know the business by the back of your hand, you aren’t the HR guy business would want to have on their team.
  • Never accept mediocrity – it is infectious like a disease.
  • A good leader never worries about his goal-sheet; he just helps members of his team achieve their goals; his get automatically done!
  • Never mess with the happy situation, specially, while deciding compensation and benefits.
  • If you are signing a document, writing an email, making a ppt – anything that carries your name, watch out for all the silly mistakes – spellings, fonts, formatting, grammar – they all make a dent. Positive or negative – you need to decide.

And the next Boss taught me these…

  • We do strategy only two days every year – rest 363 days we need to ensure impeccable execution.
  • People don’t have any control over who would become their boss; they learn to put up with whomsoever the organization puts over them. But they surely will not accept all bosses as their ‘leader’. Being the boss is easy, be the leader…that’s really difficult. But then, why would you want to do an easy job anyway?
  • Age really doesn’t determine maturity and years of experience are no measure of talent and capability.
  • Never hire people in your team who are any lesser competent that you. Hire people better than you, and make it a habit.
  • When in retail, spend maximum time travelling to stores; talking to people, spending time working on the floor – that’s where real action is, that’s where real ideas and results will come from.
  • Don’t start any major activity or a plan if you do not envision it running for at least five years. Dream big, plan right, look ahead…
  • Guard your team’s reputation like your own. If your team is right, no one should be able to touch them. If they aren’t right, you should be the only one reprimanding them, not others…
  • A leader not only needs to be fair, he must also appear fair.
  • It’s OK to fail at times; just don’t miss capturing the learning.
  • If all the sub-teams are not connecting in a ‘boundary-less’ manner, they aren’t forming one team for sure. Invest time and energy in making all sub-teams work together cohesively, and you’d build the most competent team ever…

While both these men belonged to different age-groups, background and experiences, they had many things in common – they were both voracious readers, always willing to learn new things and better themselves. They were quite punctual and orderly, and valued others’ time like their own. They were big men with small egos, and carried no chip on their shoulder about the designations, cabins, et al. Both were true to their words, and always came back when they said they would. Both spent more time in building careers of their team-mates than their own. And above all, they both never shied away from accepting responsibility, living up to what Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A chief is a man who assumes responsibility. He says “I was beaten,” he does not say “My men were beaten.”

Many of these things I learnt by observing them. And when these two leaders spoke, I heard them loud and clear. Sometimes, it took me a while, even a long time in few cases, to realize the importance, for the impact of there words to sink in. It took me while to imbibe some of these learning and change my behaviour…but I now can see why some of these learning are real pearls of wisdom. I now enjoy practicing them, and reap the benefits.

I learnt several other things from my other managers too, and while I am still learning, something I’d never stop; I’ll be forever grateful to these two gentlemen, who taught me some really valuable work & life lessons.

Those are my learning from my best bosses. Now it’s your turn. Which of these learning speak most to you? I am sure you too worked with some great bosses; what are your experiences? Let me know in the comments below- and here’s to all of us becoming better leaders!

My Learning From Alice In Wonderland…

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AliceRight since my childhood years, and even to date, I am deeply fascinated with Lewis Carroll’s legendary character – Alice. Immersed in her very own Wonderland, she always intrigued me – some of my finest learning of life comes from this book ‘meant for the children’! Carroll was a rather gifted man of diverse interests in logical reasoning, science, philosophy and mathematics; to my mind, his words have much deeper meaning than merely intending to be a children’s book. Celebrating ‘curiosity’ at every available opportunity, Alice is a truly timeless character and some of her words occupy my thought process to date; I have found them really useful every time I have read them. Sharing seven of them with you:

  • “But”, said Alice, “the world has absolutely no sense, who’s stopping us from inventing one?”
  • Alice laughed, “There’s no use trying,” she said, “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
  • “Do you think I’ve gone round the bend?” 
    “I’m afraid so. You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
  • “If everybody minded their own business… the world would go round a deal faster than it does.”
  • “You should learn not to make personal remarks,” Alice said with some severity; “it’s very rude.”
  • “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
    “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,”
    said the Cat.
    “I don’t much care where…” said Alice.
    “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,”
    said the Cat.
  • “Tut, tut, child!” said the Duchess. “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.”

Through the words of wisdom above, Alice leaves an indelible impression on the mind, shaping character, instilling values like power of imagination, trying & risk-taking, finding sense amidst chaos, managing self and that nothing is impossible. All through, she tries to interpret everything around her in a logical manner, and you’d often note the conflict between her desire to be mature, rational & grow up and her natural ingenuous whims; a skirmish that most of us adults face almost daily in our lives.

Now that you’ve looked closer, don’t you agree with some of the deeper messages Alice delivers to us adults too, specially in the chaos of the corporate world?

__________________________________

Photo-credit: weheartit.com

चांदी की परत…

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काम के दौरान बहुत से शहरों और कस्बों में जाना होता रहता है; मैं बाजारों में, माल्स में, सड़कों पे बहुत घूमता हूँ। मुख्यता: भोजन के लिए अनेकानेक ढाबों, रेस्तरां, इत्यादि का चक्कर भी ज़रूरी हो जाता है। युवजनों से अटे-पटे ये कैफ़े, रेस्तरां, फ़ूड-कोर्ट्स, काफी कोलाहल से भरपूर हैं; कई नए लोगों से मुलाकात होती है और ना चाहते हुए भी बहुत तरह की बातें कानों में पड़ जाती हैं।

ये बातें अधिकतर कुछ इस तरह की होती हैं – कौन सी नई कार या  SUV आयी है, नयी फिल्म क्या लगी है, किस ब्रैंड ने नए जूते, माफ़ कीजियेगा, नए ‘cool’ जूते लॉंच किये हैं। नई मोटरसाइकिल, नया घर या ज़मीन, नई डायमंड रिंग… इस भागते हुए भारत में मानो उपभोक्तावाद, ‘consumerism’ ने हमारी बातचीत की कला का अपहरण कर लिया हो। कुछ ऐसा महसूस होता है जैसे ‘मैं, मेरा’ हमारे प्रमुख शब्द हैं। ऐसा भी नहीं कि ये बातें सिर्फ बड़े शहरों तक सीमित हों, लगभग हर कस्बे का हाल कुछ ऐसा ही है।

आप मुझे ग़लत न समझें, ये शिकायत नहीं है। कुछ मायनों में देश अच्छा कर रहा है, एक ख़ास तबके की आमदनी भी बेइन्तहा बढ़ रही है और उसके साथ बेहिसाब खर्च करने योग्य पैसे भी बढ़ रहे हैं… सोना और घर, दोनों ही महंगे होते जा रहे हैं और फ़िर भी ख़रीदे जा रहे हैं… अच्छा ही होगा फ़िर तो।

साथ-साथ हमारी बातचीत के दायरे भी सिमटते जा रहे हैं, मानो ज़िन्दगी पे एक चांदी की परत चढ़ रही हो…

जब भी ऐसी बातें कान में पड़ती हैं तो किशोरावस्था की एक घटना दिमाग में गूँज जाती है। उन दिनों मैंने दसवीं कक्षा का इम्तेहान दिया था, चेहरे-मोहरे पे ध्यान देना भी शुरू हुआ ही था… आप तो जानते ही हैं कि ये ही तो उम्र है जब हम आईने में खुद को कुछ ज्यादा ही देर तक निहारते हैं 🙂 नहीं?

Mirrorएक ऐसे ही दिन की बात हैं जब बाबा के एक मित्र, जो बड़े ही दीनी आदमी थे और जीवन की दुनियादारी के साठ बसंत देख चुके थे, हमारे घर पर चाय पी रहे थे। मैं कहीं जाने को तैयार हो रहा था और बार-बार आईने में खुद को देखके मानो ‘बाहर जाने योग्य हूँ’ की मोहर लगा रहा था।

मुझे ऐसा करते देख वो अर्थपूर्ण रूप से मुस्कुराये… कुछ पलों तक देखते रहे मानो वक्त को तोल रहे हों… फ़िर बोले,

“बर्खुरदार, क्या दिख रहा है आईने में आपको?”

मैं अचकचाया; मन में खुद से सवाल किया, क्या पूछना चाह रहे हैं? थोड़ी झेप भी हुयी शीशा देखते पकड़े जाने की। इच्छा नहीं हुयी ज़वाब देने की, पर कुछ लखनऊ की तहज़ीब वाली परवरिश और वालिद साहब की मौजूदगी ने जवाब निकलवा ही लिया, “जी, आईने में खुद को देख पा रहा हूँ।”

“देखिये तो, खिड़की में कि क्या दिख रहा है?” दूसरा सवाल आया।

“जी, बाहर पड़ोस वाले पप्पू अंकल दिख रहे हैं, नौकर सफाई कर रहा है, दूधवाले भैय्या आयें हुए हैं, गमले रखे हैं” हम ने सच बयां किया।

“क्या फर्क है दोनो शीशों में?” एक और सवाल…

उम्र के अनुकूल खीज तो हुयी, पर सब्र करते हुए हमने जवाब दिया, “जी, आईने में शीशे के पीछे चांदी की पॉलिश की हुयी है, इस लिए आर-पार नहीं दिखता; खिड़की के शीशे में पॉलिश नहीं है तो बाहर का दृष्य भी दिखता है…”

“तो बर्खुरदार, एक बात गाँठ बांध लो, जब तक ज़िन्दगी के आईने पर चांदी की परत नहीं चढ़ेगी, और लोग और बाकी दुनिया भी दिखाई देगी। पर जिस दिन जीवन-रुपी शीशे पर ये परत चढ़ जाएगी, आदमी सिर्फ और सिर्फ खुद को देख सकेगा। आप जीवन में बहुत आगे जाएंगे, कोशिश कीजियेगा की ये चांदी की परत आपकी नज़र कमज़ोर न कर दे…”

मैं स्तब्ध था, वालिद साहब मुस्कुरा रहे थे, और आईना मुझे देख रहा था…

आज तक कोशिश ज़ारी है कि ये चांदी की परत न चढ़े…

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Photo-credit: playquestadventureplay.co.uk

Written by RRGwrites

March 8, 2013 at 6:30 PM

A Clown Is Not Always A Fool…

with 4 comments

satirequoteClown; one of the most notable characters that featured in almost all of Shakespeare’s comedies. Renaissance history tells us that many noble households during those days kept a clown, and Shakespeare’s comedies usually feature at least one. Arguably, this Clown was the wisest of all characters; however, he was often addressed as a ‘Fool’ and was often chided by all and sundry. He’d amuse his masters – the nobility, by making pointed jokes, singing loud songs, being generally funny. And amidst this amusement, he’d speak the hard truth in the sharpest possible manner. This character was master of pretense – playing both naïve and highly intelligent with the same intensity.

I am reminded of this Clown more than ever as today some of us would celebrate the life of Late Jaspal Bhatti; it being his birthday today. Who would forget his satirical takes on the issues of a common man? In 1980’s and ’90s, as a school-going child, I used to wake up in mornings to a five-minute, hard-hitting, ‘Ulta-Pulta’ on Doordarshan. Right since then, this genial Sardar was a big hit amongst both the middle class homes and the intelligentsia.

Often, many of us mistook him for a ‘Fool’, a ‘comedian without an intent’. For those who didn’t know, he was a qualified electrical engineer from the prestigious Punjab Engineering College (PEC, as it is commonly referred to). Even before he became famous on TV for his satirical show ‘Flop Show’, who in Chandigarh and around would have missed his cartoons published in The Tribune?

A master of political satires, he was splendid in his exploits of launching political parties – Hawala Party, Suitcase Party and Recession Party, to name a few. He used to float these parties during general elections in order to bring to the foray the problems faced by the commoners.

His style was warm and comic, loud and understated at the same time. With his acts, he exposed not only corruption around us; he also poked his nose in the bitter truths of our homes, our neighbourhood, and our society. His performances brought smiles to our faces and yet, forced us to introspect. People liked the way he used to highlight the issues; his disarming smile was infectious and struck instant cord with his viewers.

In his death late last year, we lost a master satirist. I am not sure how many would know that he was awarded Padma Bhushan posthumously this Republic Day for his outstanding contribution to arts.

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, a famous Shakespearean comedy, gives a new high to the character of Clown. In this brilliant play, clown is named Feste; you’d find him making witty puns most of the time; yet he also demonstrates a sharp sense of professionalism and self-worth. In an Act, When Olivia, a central character of the play, orders him out, he says,

“Lady, ‘Cucullus non facit monachum’—that’s as much to say as I wear not motley in my brain.”

All through his life, Jaspal Bhatti, just like Feste, may have chosen to adorn motley – a brightly coloured gown, appearing jovial and unsophisticated to the world. However, that did not inhibit his wit, his intelligence and depth of learning. Just like this Clown, he kept offering to all of us valuable advice cloaked under a layer of foolishness.

Speaking about this ‘Ulta Pulta’ man, a page on his website reads:

“Once upon a time I was a household name. Times have changed and people have sold their houses, moved to new localities or redone their houses. In the process some people might have misplaced my name…”

Dear Ulta Pulta Man, I wish you a very happy birthday. May you rest in laughter & peace. I am sure some of us would never forget you…

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Photo-credit: searchquotes.com

* ‘Cucullus non facit monachum’ is a Latin phrase. It means ‘The hood doesn’t make the monk’, i.e. what appears to be true is not always in harmony with what is true. 

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