On life…and learning

Archive for May 2013

It Is Risky. Really?

with 2 comments

RiskRISK. The buzzword of the modern times. The talk around this word is so ubiquitous, it is almost mind-boggling. Yet, I somehow always thought the concept of risk is rather overhyped and exaggerated, as far as the way it gets spoken and feared about in our daily lives.

Recently, I came across this brilliant essay written by Mindtree’s Subroto Bagchi – the famous Gardener. Bagchi speaks about risk and the hype around it in an extremely candid manner. It makes an interesting, worthwhile read –


The Fallen Tomato Cart

I pass through this very intersection every morning with so much ease. Today, the pace is skewed. There is a sense of disarray as motorists try to push past each other through the traffic light. The light here always tests their agility because if you miss the green, you have to wait for another three minutes before it lets you go past again. Those three minutes become eternity for an otherwise time-insensitive nation on the move. Today, there is a sense of chaos here. People are honking, skirting each other and rushing past. I look out of my window to seek the reason. It is not difficult to find because it is lying strewn all over the place.

A tomato seller’s cart has overturned. There are tomatoes everywhere and the rushing motorists are making pulp of it. The man is trying to get his cart back on its four rickety wheels and a few passersby are picking up what they can in an attempt to save him total loss. Though symbolic in the larger scheme of things, it is not a substantive gesture. His business for the day is over.

The way this man’s economics works is very simple. There is a money lender who lends him money for just one day, at an interest rate of Rs 10 per day per Rs 100 lent. With the money, he wakes up at 4 am to go to the wholesale market for vegetables. He returns, pushing his cart a good five miles, and by 7 am when the locality wakes up, he is ready to sell his day’s merchandise. By the end of the morning, some of it remains unsold. This his wife sells by the afternoon and takes home the remainder, which becomes part of his meal. With the day’s proceeds, he returns the interest to the money lender and goes back to the routine the next day. If he does not sell for a day, his chain breaks.

Where does he go from here? He goes back to the money lender, raises capital at an even more penal interest and gets back on his feet. This is not the only time that destiny has upset his tomato cart. This happens to him at least six times every year. Once he returned with a loaded cart of ripe tomatoes and it rained heavily for the next three days. No one came to the market and his stock rotted in front of his own eyes. Another time, instead of the weather, it was a political rally that snowballed into a confrontation between two rival groups and the locality closed down. And he is not alone in this game of extraneous factors that seize not only his business but also his life. He sees this happen to the “gol-gappa” seller, the peanut seller and the “vada pao” seller all the time. When their product does not sell, it just turns soggy. Sometimes they eat some of it. But how much of that stuff can you eat by yourself? So, they just give away some and there is always that one time when they have to simply throw it away.

Away from the street-vendor selling perishable commodity with little or no life support system, the corporate world is an altogether different place. Here we have some of the most educated people in the country. We don the best garbs. We do not have to push carts; our carts push us. We have our salary, perquisites, bonuses, stock options, gratuities, pensions and our medical insurance and the group accident benefit schemes. Yet, all the while, we worry about our risks and think about our professional insecurity. We wonder, what would happen if the company shifted offices to another city? What would happen if the department closed down? What would happen if you were to take maternity leave and the temporary substitute delivered better work than you did? What would happen if the product line you are dealing with simply failed? In any of those eventualities, the worst that could happen would still be a lot less than having to see your cartful of tomatoes getting pulped under the screeching wheels of absolute strangers who have nothing personal against you.

All too often we exaggerate our risks. We keep justifying our professional concerns till they trap us in their vicious downward spiral. Devoid of education, sophisticated reasoning and any financial safety net, the man with the cart is often able to deal with life much better than many of us. Is it time to look out of the window, into the eyes of that man to ask him, where does he get it from? In his simple stoicism, is probably, our lost resilience.


Thought-provoking, isn’t it? What do you think?


Photo-credit: thelegacymovement.com

Written by RRGwrites

May 29, 2013 at 11:09 PM

सफलता का मंत्र

with one comment

N Shivakumar IIM Newspaper Vendorअभी कुछ देर पहले NDTV पर ‘हम लोग’ कार्यक्रम देखा। कुछ ऐसा अनुभव हुआ जो आपसे बाँटना चाहता हूँ। अनुभवी पत्रकार रवीश कुमार ने मंच पर तीन मेधावी छात्रों – निरीश राजपूत, कोमल गणात्रा और एन. शिवा कुमार – को आमंत्रित किया था जिन्होंने समाज में निचले तबके से होने के बावज़ूद और अनेक मुश्किलों को पार करते हुए, अपनी मेहनत और लगन से, अपने मजबूर इरादे से इस साल भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा (IAS) और भारतीय प्रबंधन संस्थान (IIM) में स्थान अर्जित किये हैं।

इस एक घंटे के कार्यक्रम में कई अच्छी बातें सुनी और देखी; कैसे एक छोटे से कस्बे का एक गरीब लड़का दोस्तों की मदद से अपनी पढ़ाई करता है और IAS में चयनित होता है; एक युवती, जिसे उसके दहेज़-लोभी ससुराल वाले घर से निकाल देते हैं, वो सामाजिक बहिष्कार से लड़ते हुये प्रशासनिक सेवा का इम्तिहान देती है और सफल होती है। और कैसे एक अख़बार बाँटने वाला युवक देश के सबसे प्रतिष्ठित प्रबंधन संस्थान IIM में पढ़ने का अपना अटूट इरादा पूर्ण करता है। उनके दमकते चेहरे देख के एक अजीब सी ख़ुशी हुयी, मानों मैंने खुद ही कुछ हासिल किया हो…

एक बात जो मन को छू गयी, वो आप को बताना चाहता हूँ। बैंगलोर के शिवा कुमार, जो कि पिछले दस-पन्द्रह सालों से, अपने स्कूल के दिनों से अख़बार बांटते हैं, आज अपने अनुभव साझा कर रहे थे। अनपढ़ माँ और कर्ज़ के बोझ से लदे ट्रक-ड्राइवर पिता का ये लाल अपने पूरे बचपन और युवावस्था के दौरान रोज़ सुबह 4 बजे उठ कर अख़बार डालता रहा; और अपने काम में इतना बेहतर हुआ कि न्यूज़-पेपर वेंडर बना; एक करुण और दयावान ग्राहक की मदद से अपनी पढ़ाई पूरी करी, इंजीनियर बना और अब IIM कलकत्ता पढ़ने जा रहा है।

रवीश ने शिवा से पूछा कि आखिरी बार उसने अख़बार कब बांटें थे। सहजता से उत्तर आया, “कल ही; यहाँ आने से पहले”। तालियों की गड़गड़ाहट से अविचलित उसने और आगे कहा, “मैं इस काम की वजह से आज आगे आया और यहाँ तक पहुंचा हूँ, भला उसे कैसे छोड़ता…”

कितनी उत्तम बात है, और कितनी ईमानदारी से कही गयी है…

मुझसे बहुत से लोग ये कई बार पूछते हैं कि सफलता का मंत्र क्या है। मैं समझता हूँ कि शिवा कुमार ने अपनी बात से बड़ी ही सरलता से इस प्रश्न का उत्तर दे दिया – सफलता का मंत्र अपने काम से ईमानदारी बरतने में है। जो व्यक्ति उन्नति के रास्ते पर बढ़ते हुए अपने आप को अपने काम से बड़ा समझने लगे, वो कुछ समय तक सफल तो हो सकता है, सार्थक नहीं बन सकता।

उम्मीद है कि आज के छात्र और कामकाज़ी लोग इस बात का महत्व समझेंगे। अब अपने अनुभव बाँटनें की आपकी बारी है; आप क्या सोचते हैं, बताईयेगा।


Photo-credit: ibnlive.in.com


with one comment

RRGwrites…. I believe a man has three defining moments in his life – one, when he gets married; two, when he becomes father to a daughter and three, when his daughter gets married. There can’t be more life-altering moments for a man than these three.

Sharing a heartfelt tribute to the feeling of fatherhood from a proud father and someone I can call a true HR leader – Gurprriet Siingh…

Gurprriet Siingh's Blog on Life, Leadership and Change

32412_10151390020697835_332470562_nToday, my heart is full of pride. Many years ago, I insisted on experimenting with my child’s life and future. I believe that the universe is designed to support us and accordingly I declared that we will choose the one school where we want our daughter Tanishqa to study and we will buy no other forms. Rummy, my wife, who was a quieter woman in those days didn’t disagree and so, the experiment was carried out. Everyday a new school’s forms were announced she would call me and I would say no. It wasn’t easy. The day St. Helena’s announced the final selection list, I was the most scared of all, for I was risking more than myself. I had to fight through a crowd to get to the board outside the gates of the school. When I saw her name on the selection list, I broke down there and wept, with…

View original post 246 more words

Written by RRGwrites

May 17, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Posted in Life

Intruding Dragon…Complacent Elephant!

with one comment

Like me, you must also have been following the sad state of affairs at the India-China border in Ladakh. And I am sure, you too would be equally appalled, if not disturbed by the series of events. And not only because of the brazen incursion of our borders by the Chinese armed forces, but also because of the rather indecorous attitude of the Indian government.

An avid reader of political history that I am, I recall a masterly account of mismanagement of the Indo-China relations by Indian governments, written by the veteran journalist-cum-politician Arun Shourie – ‘Are We Deceiving Ourselves  Again’ (Rupa, 2008). I read this book in 2008 and it opened my eyes. The book is a myth-breaking one, and shatters the popular belief that China deceived us in 1962 and thus, we were caught unprepared. Nothing is as false as this, so proves this book beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever. Scanning official letters of the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, Shourie writes a detailed account of un-statesman like behaviour of Nehru and brings out the truth that it is we ourselves who deceived ourselves into believing that the Chinese intentions (of those times) were honourable, that they were treating us as equals and would not do anything objectionable. And none other than our own Prime Minister Nehru rather eloquently accepted then, “Morally, I find it difficult to say that the Chinese government has deliberately deceived us at any stage. We may have deceived ourselves.”

Over five years ago, much before today’s grim situation came to light, Shourie penned this book and tore into the similarity of the lackadaisical attitude of Manmohan government, insofar negotiating the Dragon’s brazen attitude.

I don’t intend to write a book review here. Neither I intend to write an emotionally charged critique of how the present day complacent Indian Elephant is not able to restrain the overbearing Red Dragon of China. Much is already being written and said about this subject. I just wish to share with you the captivating, and thought-provoking, cover-page of Shourie’s book; I took this book out of my library today and clicked this image specially to share with you. This cover is depicts a series of 6 images from back to front; rather displays 6 frames of one photograph, where the Indian premier is walking towards his Chinese counterpart. To know how we are downgrading ourselves all over again, negating any possible learning from the inglorious debacle of 1962, you don’t have to read the entire book. The image in itself says it all.

Please observe the frames one-by-one, starting from the extreme left; you’d note the scary message it gives…

Are We Deceiving Ourselves Again - RRGwrites

Dear Indian Commoner, do you now see how we are deceiving ourselves yet again?

I leave you with what legendary top-cop KPS Gill said and Shourie quoted. It makes an alarming reading in today’s context…

“There is… one general principle that must guide our explorations, perspectives, plans and projections: the primary and most effective strategy to avoid war is to prepare for it.

It is one of the ironies of the human condition that if you love peace, you must be ready and willing to fight for it. The weak, the vulnerable, the unprepared and the irresolute will always tempt the world and call misfortune and ruin upon themselves. This is tragic, but it is the inexorable lesson of history.

It is strength that secures respect and dignity; conciliation, appeasement, and a desperation to avoid confrontation at all costs – these will only bring contempt and aggression in their dower.”

I am sure under the garb of his ‘dignified(?) silence’, our sealed-lipped Prime Minister has also shut his eyes and ears to this reality…

%d bloggers like this: