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मेरा हिमालय और उसका क़ब्रिस्तान

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मैं पिछले कई वर्षों से बद्रीनाथ यात्रा पर जाता हूँ। एक भक्त के रूप में नहीं, एक बाइकर के रूप में। हिमालय मेरा आँगन रहा है बालमन से और जब-जब मैं अपनी रॉयल एनफ़ील्ड मोटरसाइकिल ले कर बद्रीनाथ गया, वही पहाड़ और वही पहाड़ी रास्ते मेरे लिए पूज्य और देव-तुल्य रहे, किसी भी मंदिर से ज़्यादा।

हाल के सालों में – 2012 और 2015 – ये दो यात्रायें की बाबा बद्रीनाथ के द्वार को। आप कह सकते हैं – ज़लज़ला आने के पहले वाले साल और उसके दो साल बाद। जो देखा, और महसूस किया, वो शब्दों में बयां नहीं कर सकता। सड़कें तो बन गयीं हैं, पहले से बेहतर भी है। पर सड़को से नीचे उतर कर देखो, तो पहले और बाद का भयावह फ़र्क़ पता चलता है।

इसलिए, 2012 की यात्रा का वर्णन तो आप मोटरसाइकिल डायरीज में यहाँ पढ़ सकते हैं, पर 2015 की यात्रा के बारे में लिख पाऊँ, वो शब्द और हिम्मत अब तक नहीं जुटा पाया हूँ।

Himalaya ka Kabristanकुछ दिन पहले दैनिक भास्कर अख़बार में जयप्रकाश चौकसे साहब के लेख में एक किताब का वर्णन पढ़ा – ‘हिमालय का क़ब्रिस्तान’– ये शीर्षक है प्रत्रकार लक्ष्मी प्रसाद पंत की इस पुस्तक का। पिछले दो दिन में ये किताब पढ़ी। केदारनाथ-काश्मीर-काठमाण्डू – तीनो जगहों की हिमालय-उपजित त्रासदी के बारे में एक निर्भीक पुस्तक।

अगर आप भी मेरे जैसे हिमालय से सच्चा प्रेम करते हैं – और न सिर्फ इसे पूजते हों और न सिर्फ इसे छुट्टी बिताने का मनोरम पर्यटन स्थल समझते हों – तो इस पुस्तक को पढ़ने की सलाह मैं आपको दूँगा।

इस किताब को पढ़ने के बाद मुझे एक बात याद आती है। 2012 की मोटरसाइकिल यात्रा के दौरान मेरा छोटा भाई नितिन भी साथ था – अपनी पहली लंबी मोटरसाइकिल यात्रा पर और पहली बार पहाड़ पर। ज़ाहिर तौर पर उत्सुकता ज़्यादा थी और सवाल भी। मैं हिमालय के बारे में जानता-पढ़ता रहता हूँ और सामाजिक-भौगोलिक जानकारियां रखता हूँ, एक आम पर्यटक से ज़्यादा। जब हम बद्रीनाथ पहुंचे तो अगली यात्रा केदारनाथ की हो, ऐसी बात होने लगी। बद्रीनाथ मंदिर के ठीक नीचे अपनी पूरी शान से बहती अलकनंदा के बारे में बात करते हुए मैंने नितिन को केदारनाथ के साथ बहती मन्दाकिनी नदी के बारे में बताया। ये भी कि कैसे पहले मन्दाकिनी नदी दो धाराओं में बहती थी – पूर्वी और पश्चिमी। और कैसे समय के साथ अब सिर्फ एक धारा में ही प्रवाहित होने लगी है। नितिन ने पूछा कि दूसरी तरफ क्या है अब? मुझे जवाब मालूम नहीं था, सो बात वही ख़त्म हो गयी।

मैं आपको बता दूँ कि जब अगले ही साल 2013 में सैलाब आया, तो मन्दाकिनी नदी ने सारे बंधन तोड़ दिए और दुसरे पुराने रास्ते से भी बह निकली – और उसे रास्ते में मिले घर, दुकान, होटल और न जाने क्या-क्या – अपने रास्ते में उसे मनुष्य का किया अतिक्रमण मिला। और वो उसे बहा ले गयी… पंत जी अपनी पुस्तक के बारे में इस बारे में विस्तार से लिखते हैं… उसे पढ़कर मेरी आँखे भर आईं और भाई से हुयी बात याद हो आयी।

अंग्रेजी उपन्यासकार कजाओ इशीगोरो के हवाले से लेखक ने लिखा है:

“जैसे शतरंज के खेल में जब तक हम अपनी चाल के ऊपर से ऊँगली नहीं उठाते, हमें अपनी ग़लती का अहसास नहीं होता, वैसे ही प्राकृतिक आपदाओं का अहसास भी अचानक ही होता है जब हमारी गलतियाँ अति कर देती हैं।”

2012 में मेरे पास इस प्रश्न का उत्तर नहीं था कि मन्दाकिनी के दूसरे रास्ते में क्या है। 2013 के बाद से मेरे पास इस प्रश्न का उत्तर नहीं है कि क्यों प्रशासन आंखें मूंदे रहा इतने वर्षों से लगातार फैलते अतिक्रमण पर। हमने नदी के रास्ते में अपना घर बनाया और अब दोष नदी को, कि उसने अपना वही रास्ता वापस चुन लिया, तो वो दैवी आपदा है?

मैं लेखक से पूर्णतया सहमत हूँ कि यह कोई दैवी आपदा नहीं थी। ना उत्तराखण्ड में, ना ही कश्मीर और नेपाल में। ये मनुष्य के लालच का परिणाम हैं, जिसे हम दैवी आपदा और हिमालय का प्रकोप और न जाने और क्या-क्या नाम देते हैं।

2016 – मैं फिर से तैयार हूँ मई माह में बद्रीनाथ जाने को। इस बार मेरी और नेहा की माएं भी साथ जा रहीं हैं। वो 2013 में नहीं जा पाईं थी – वही साल जब सब जल-मग्न  हो गया था। परिवार ने तब चैन की सांस ली थी कि वो दोनों उस साल चार-धाम यात्रा पर नहीं जा पाईं। वो चैन की सांस जो हज़ारों-लाखों परिवार नहीं ले पाए। हिमालय मुझे फिर बुला रहा है और मैं इस बार कुछ डरता हुआ सा, पहली बार ऐसा महसूस करते, जा रहा हूँ।

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TATA Log

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TatalogI wish to share with you all a superb book that I just started reading – ‘Tatalog. Today, I completed the first two chapters and am impressed! Written by Harish Bhat, MD of Tata Global Beverages Ltd, and published by Penguin, this is a collection of “hitherto untold…eight modern stories from a timeless institution.”

For readers who don’t know ‘Hindi’ language, ‘log’ is a hindi word for ‘People’. I got drawn towards reading this book only because the foreword was penned by one of my all-time favourite authors, R Gopalakrishnan. You would recall Gopalakrishnan through his bestseller books – ‘The Case of The Bonsai Manager’ and ‘When The Penny Drops’. However, now that I have read the first 50 pages and learnt about the untold story of the ‘Tata Indica’, written so aptly by a Tata insider, I am so looking forward to reading further… about Tanishq, Tata Finance, Tetley, EKA, about ‘second careers of intelligent women’ and Tata Steel.

I will surely come back with a detailed book-review in few weeks’ time for you. Till then, I am leaving you with what Gurcharan Das opined about the book; do note the power of the last phrase:

“This is not a hagiography. In the tradition of the best business books, it teaches something about the way the world works. It explains why the Tatas have endured for 150 years: not because they did not make mistakes, but their errors were portals of discovery.”

 So apt, isn’t it?

I would recommend this to all who follow writings on organization & change and who wish to learn from the massive human effort called ‘TATA’.

MBA at 16! A must read…

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Just completed reading the latest book from Subroto Bagchi, ‘MBA at 16; A Teenager’s Guide To The World Of Business’, Penguin 2012. This is an absolutely path-breaking work! The Gardener pens a very crisp, captivating and insightful piece for the 16-year olds, taking them through the world of business. Like all his earlier works, in this book too, he doesn’t preach, doesn’t load you with information. Contrarily, he ventures into the real world of 31 students, all in their teens; spends months with them, becomes a part of them, and finally comes out with this very simply-written, yet a well-researched work.

All of 157 pages, you would assume that it’s a 3-hour read at best. It could have been, yes. However, once you start reading, you’d not simply pass through the pages. Despite the fact that the book is written in form of a simple story, every page offers learning to 16 years and 32 years old alike! He takes us in the life of a teenager and helps us view business from their eyes. Much contrary to the prevalent opinion that teenagers are only hooked on to MTV, X-Box, dating and masti, the book captures the promise this GenY-minus-10years would bring in the world of business.

I have tutored a lot of students – during my education years and thereafter at some MBA schools while working now. However, I always missed the business-orientation in them. They were simply – students! Somehow, the rat race of Indian education overlooks this factor completely till you don’t enter college. Many lack this orientation even when they enter the ubiquitous & pathetically mushroomed ‘management schools’. Amongst the plethora of text-books, career-counseling books, self-help books, et al, what we lacked was one such work, which takes teens through a real-world of business, in the manner they want to learn. A manner, that brings glint to their eyes, whenever they think of the business-world…

As a 32 year old, I found this book equally useful for me. It made me ponder, introspect; am I equipped with skills and attitude required to manage this generation? Or, to be managed by this generation, one day not very far? I found a lot of questions to answer, many a things to learn.

I am purposely not turning this blog into a proper book-review; I would like the readers to experience first-hand the concept this book offers, without any pre-conceived notions. The reader needs to pick her own takeaway…I would recommend this book to you – if you are 16 years old, if you are entering/passing out of a B-school, if you are 30 and climbing the corporate ladder, if you are parent to a teen and if you are 50 and a CEO – it has a learning for all of us. Certainly, a must read for every high-school teacher, management-school professor and Talent Managers of every learning organization…

I am sure that at the end of the book, you’d also like to thank Subroto, for his appreciation and efforts in the direction of creating a smarter corporate India. I believe all of us share the responsibility.

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You can read this review, and many more, on Subroto Bagchi’s website, at:

http://www.mindtree.com/subrotobagchi/category/book/mba-at-16/#reviewscategory

Photo-credit: penguinbooksindia.com

Unusually Excellent

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by John Hamm

I recently completed reading this excellent book on leadership. In last 9 years, I have read several books on the subject; this one is arguably the best one.

‘Unusually Excellent’ provides an effective framework – 9 necessary skills required for the practice of great leadership. John takes you through each skill in a well-structured and elaborate, yet simple and compelling manner. He makes you think and ponder on your leadership style, without sounding preaching. He builds his case strongly for each skill, his stories make you identify your gaps, without making you feel miserable about them.

What made me read this book with considerable attention was John’s immaculate presentation of the 9 essential skills – unlike the rules that many other authors of leadership arena insist upon. I have always believed there aren’t any rules of leadership; leaders are born, not made. However, we can always acquire the quintessential skills of this art, making us more effective leaders by the day.

In recent past, many authors have stressed on leaders not focussing on basics; John explains this in a very effective manner through an excellent example of TaylorMade adidas Golf’s Performance Center in Carlsbad, California – ‘The Kingdom’. It was really an ‘Aha’ moment for me to read how great golfers, when face failure, learn to revisit basics of golf at this state-of-the-art facility. John builds a strong pitch here for CEO’s, by comparing them to professional golfers, and asks them to keep revisiting their basics. Really good…

This book is meant for both experienced and aspiring leaders, and is highly accessible & practical in approach. For me, there were some very compelling stories and examples featured in the book, and I picked up some great learning from each one of them:

  • Page 5, Carl’s story teaches us humility in a special way, a must have skill leaders often take for granted
  • Page 16, Jim’s story is really insightful…as a leader, “I am not above you. I am with you…”
  • Page 49, how a digital camera teaches us to fail, and do it better next time…
  • Page 61, “There is no such thing called bad weather, only inadequate clothing…”
  • Page 67, message from a great leader, “Connect with me. I know what to do. Together, we will accomplish something great that you will look back on with pride.”
  • Page 68, Born-again employees – this one is this incredibly important – “to keep your employees engaged, you must regularly re-create the original passion, simulating the reasons they first joined the team.”
  • Page 158, David’s story on ‘Talking Trust’ – how to resolve audience’s reluctance to ask questions when there is power in the room

and many more…

A key factor that John insists on is leaders’ personally spending considerable time hiring their team. He argues that “hiring great people is the highest leverage activity that leaders undertake.” I fully second this part. This is the first and biggest investment any leader would make in creating a great team, a worthy investment that has far-reaching effects and results.

Another great insight I picked up was on Page 134 – concept of “84 Great Things.” Superb example of ensuring flawless execution and very implementable…I have already started to practice it.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on John Adler’s story, on page 167-68…the Solitary Touch…how every word that a leaders speaks makes an impact, how their all words carry a message, an actionable for all…

‘Unusually Excellent’ is an unusually excellent work on the subject. This book is for the leaders, and not on leaders. It helps you build a perspective on leadership over a long career, and does not offer any tricks to be a leader. I have really benefited from this book…it has made me think, reflect, improve…I am on the path to being a better leader and will keep coming back to consult this book. I am sure, this will be one of the most thumbed books in every well-meaning leader’s library.

Highly recommended…

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Photo-credit: endeavor.org

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