Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

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Fare well to Farewell;Alvida, Dada

October 8, 2008

Fare well to farewell- Alvida, Dada.

Today’s(8/10/2008) entire sports page in the Times of India is devoted to Mr Saurav Ganguly’s retirement and deservedly so. Well, all the speculation about voluntary retirement in the media turned out to be true. It is only in the fitness of things that as the curtain draws on the careers of one of India’s best batsmen and perhaps greatest captain, he be given a commensurate exit. He has fared very well so far to earn such a farewell and one hopes that he fares well in what will turn out to be his swangsong series against the mighty Australians against whom he has waged many a battle.

I am reminded of a Television Show some years back where ex- cricketers Krishnamachari Srikanth, Mohinder Amarnath and well known cricket commentator Charu Sharma were discussing “How to drop a player gracefully?”. They could not come to any firm conclusion but concurred that while Sachin cannot be dropped because of what all he had achieved(70 plus hundreds in international cricket), the other senior cricketers deserved a dignified exit with graceful indications/hints in advance. Srikkanth seems to be walking the talk because this is his first major step as the new chairman of selectors.

I remember reading about what the Australians did with Steve Waugh. Waugh had failed to “cross the final frontier” of beating India in India in 2001 and would have liked one more chance. Since the Australians are ruthless, he got no such opportunity. They did not even allow him to play as a player(he was willing to give up the captaincy) in the 2003 world cup . He had to hang his boots as per the selectors bidding but they went about the process in a dignified manner.

Since in India, strong emotions are associated with cricket, there was bound to be speculation about the retirement of the fabulous four- Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly. The cricketers will always say that age is no factor as long as they are fit but from a country’s point of view, young players have to be groomed both for playing and leadership and a certain gestation period is involved because of which succession planning is necessary.. One of the reasons why Yuvaraj Singh has not got enough chances in Test cricket is because the middle order is filled with seniors. In retirement too, Dada is proving to be an apt leader ; the fabulous four have to be shown the door(gracefully) – Yeh, dil maange more( Younger cricketers)

It would not be out of place to mention here that one day, if the popularity so demands, test cricket too should be minimized or dropped gracefully in favor of 20/20 instead of breast beating over it as if it was some kind of holy cow. A country with a spiritual legacy should not shed tears over such matters and follow one of the tenets of spirituality- impermanence. Popularity apart, 20/20 has to potential to make the game global and also take it to the Olympics.

Coming back to Saurav, I will never forget what my father said when Saurav Ganguly decided to fight his way back after being dropped as captain and player and he had been captain for 49 tests. He said “This is like a managing director being stripped of his post and being told to try his luck again as a management trainee all over again in full public view”. I have read about how a cricket captain’s job is perceived to be next to the Prime Minsiter’s in the context of the following it enjoys in India. Saurav should be remembered more for mental strength and sheer resilience for his comebacks apart from unique leadership, graceful, southpaw touch and the towering sixes he hit in one-day matches. I had written a poem(of sorts) on one of his comebacks:-

The return of Saurav Ganguly(Click with mouse)

One can only say something like this while bidding goodbye:-

Pyare Dada,
Aapko na bhoolne ka karte hain vaada
Aapki leadership,mental strength aur resilience yaad rakhenge sada
Aapka silken touch or towering sixes pe ham hain fida
Australians ko dikha do dadagiri aakhri baar kehne se pahle Alvida.

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B.C.C.I OR B.T.T.I ?

June 2, 2008

The day after- After the IPL got over yesterday with Rajasthan Royals emerging as the clear winners, the Delhi times made an assessment of IPL in an article “Figuring out IPL”
It states “IPL will bring about Rs 12 billion every year in cricket. India’s total budget last year was Rs 4.9 million. BCCI will earn Rs 3.5 billion from the first year of IPL which is more than Rs 2.3 billion it earned in 2007. The forecasted profit of BCCI is a whopping Rs 43 billion for the next 10 years”. Almost seems that 20 overs cricket can support ofher forms of cricket just as cricket sometimes supports other sports in India. Other sports lack public support; the cricket administrators should see the writing on the wall and go for the form of cricket which the fans like the most- it is the public which makes cricket in Inida a popular sport and the cricketers demi-gods.

Since there is a lot of breast beating over the commercialization of the game, Sachin Tendulkar’s views on the issue are worth noting “ “I don’t personally feel that, you know, (IPL is) dumbing down the game. It’s just another version of cricket. Test cricket is there and then they started One-day cricket many years ago and One-day cricket has been a tremendous success and if the game is gonna get globalised in the form of IPL, then why not? It’s better for cricket,” he added in defence of the league that has been criticized for being too glamorous and money-centric.The criticism of money centric is as silly as our obsession with Nehruvian socialism once upon a time which liberalization has proved time and again.

A few days ago, Mr Lalit modi had mooted the suggestion that IPL should be held twice a year which the President of BCCI, Mr Sharad Pawar deemed impractical because of the tight cricket schedules. This like missing the wood for the trees. The so called commercialization of the game has become possible only because of its public support. Look at the advantages of 20/20 match- gets over in 3 hours with thrilling results as against 5 days of boring cricket with impending draws, can be played at night throughout the year(except winters) as against day time which is office going time, is assured of public support again and the possibility of going international as Tendulkar pointed out, grooms captains among players like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan singh etc.

One wonders why anybody would like to watch Test or even one day cricket anymore which in any case used to be watched only when it became interesting(Tests). The TRP ratings say it all- it was a mind boggling 8.2 in the first two weeks, 8 at others and has always been above 5. Shahrukh Khan’s Paanchvi Pass has TRP’s of 4 and serials like Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi TRPs averaged at 5. By all accounts , the IPL is Paanchvi Pass(Five star success) and the way it is going, it won’t be long before it replaces traditional forms of cricket and in the future, we shall say- Kyunki T20 bhi kabhi test/one day thi. Prominent journalists have written about how cheerleaders should be left alone and the moral police should not act as spoilsports; actually it is Test cricket which requires these cheerleaders and I doubt they shall be able to save that form of the game even if they choose to go all the way with their act.

Lalit Modi had also compared an IPL match to an entertaining Bollywood film which is bang on target because it does make a good substitute and is a good alternative. The public support for IPL reminds of the song from one of yesteryear’s greatest Director of Hindi films, the late Mr Manmohan Desai. A song from his film, Roti goes something like this “Yeh tau public hai yeh sab jaanti hai, public hai” . The cricket Administrators should read Peter Drucker’s “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” where there are several examples of company failures(bankruptcy) who fail to read and follow the market forces. That apart, management is about leverage- getting more for less which a 20 over match represents. I don’t think anybody can watch even the best of Bollywood films for five days; Test cricket is basically impractical and outdated.

Though too many matches can sometimes be a case of “Familiarity breeds contempt”, on the whole 20/20 are more practical and enjoyable and should be spaced evenly throughout the year and preferably with countries playing one another. 20/20 should be the rule and not the exception. So much so that the B.C.C.I should stand now for Boring Cricket Curbing Initiatives and convert its name to B.T.T.I- Board for Twenty Twenty in India.
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After writing the above, former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar wrote in the Times of India that while playing Ranji Trohy, he was used to empty stands but 20/20 had the kind of crowds that could prepare a player for the big picture occasion. Another article stated how families who watched matches in groups are going to miss 20/20. Cricket Adminsitrators should drop other forms of cricket the way Australians drop their cricketers ruthlessly– Saare Niyam tod dau, Test cricket khelna chod do.

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Home Shanti Home

December 25, 2007

Though I should have written this post long back, it kept getting postponed for one reason or another. A week after “Om Shanti Om” was released, a Nigerian friend of mine who had left India way back in 1975 suddenly popped in front of my residence. For a while I thought it was a mistake since we are several families living in a flat system. When he muttered the word “Baba” and his residence number of the seventies, I was able to put two and two together and welcomed him in.

Imagine meeting him after 32 long years. When we had parted ways, I was taller than him and we were of the same built but now, he was much more taller and heftier than me. After the initial exchange of pleasantries , he tried to speak in hindi or whatever he remembered though in 1975, he spoke as well as any Indian. He would speak a few words here and there which sounded funny. He said that he was out of practice but had not forgotten “Zeenat Aman”, “Yaadon ki Baraat” and Amjad Khan of Sholay. Some things are beyond the domain of language. We also remembered how his elder brother, Nuhu would wear goggles and look like Clive Lloyd( West Indies captain on their tour off 1974) and we would run after him shouting “Lloyd”, “LLoyd”

When I took him around the colony and the local club, we remembered our childhood days in the early seventies when we had spent three years together. He was extremely naughty and that gleam in his eyes had not receded over the years. Though a year younger than me, it was he who gave me my first “Sex Education” lesson at the age of nine( He was eight at that time) . Though I did not ask him at that time, I could not help asking him where he had received his sex enlightenment from at such a young age. When he arrived at his old house, he showed me the tall wall between his and the house of an American couple who used to stay there. He said that he had a naughty chowkidaar who used to put him on his shoulders and show the American couple “doing it “ at a certain time in the evening. He said that he learnt both theory and practicals like that. With or without internet, those inclined to learn will learn. Imagine, him coming after a gap of 32 years and telling me all this.

Om shanti Om was a tribute to a movie called Karz which was released sometime in the seventies. In the seventies, there used to be a great commercial movie director,”Manmohan Desai” who used to make films on long lost brothers who would separate as children and unite as adults. The best among them was the Amitabh staarer “Amar, Akbar Anthony”. You may enjoy such films as children but one tends to outgrow these things. Never in my wildest imagination I would have thought that Baba would return after 32 years. As far as I was concerned, he was out of sight, out of mind. I could not have traced him on google as I did not know his real name. He would not have been able to trace me had I not been staying in the same colony at a different place. Brothers or friends, it feels great to be reunited after such a long time. Hindi movies have a logic after all and I should say “Home shanti home”

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Stop harrasing Hussain, it is high time; Artists should be prudent whether they paint or rhyme.

August 3, 2007

This is in reference to Mr Shashi Tharoor’s article “It’s time to stop harassing M F Hussain” in the Sunday times of India on 29/7/2007. I think this is his third article on the subject where he keeps defending Mr Hussain’s independent right as an artist to keep portraying Hindu gods and goddesses in a naked form. Recently, we also had some controversy where some artist from a design college in Gujarat was also condemned for the same reason in sculpting.
Sometime ago, Mr Vir Sanghvi, the editor of Hindustan times had expressed the view that freedom of expression was all very well but it entailed a sense of responsibility. One may express himself artistically on touchy issues but did it have to be there for public consumption?

I can’t help but agree more with Mr Sanghvi. The first prime minister of India, Mr Jawaharlal Nehru had expressed his displeasure on religion because of the kind of violence that had taken place in the past in the name or organized religions and the fact that it was contrary to what they preached. When there are so many things to choose from, why choose something that is bound to arouse controversy unless it was started with some ulterior motive in mind. From a practical perspective, it is deemed that no publicity is bad publicity.

Though not much of a poet, I started my poetic career in making silly limericks on issues and things. Then I gradually graduated to poetry on other people’s wives apart from my own ( one has to lose the battle to win the war.). Just as bunking school which was more stringent gave more thrill than bunking college, writing poems on forbidden fruit was more challenging This is an example of my “artistic expression”:-

When your husband goes abroad

I happen to be quite good at spur of the moment Hindi limericks. Needless to mention, initially the ladies were delighted and my thrill knew no bounds on receiving handsome compliments. However, for all their spontaneous responses, I never got a request for an encore after the first two or three narrations. For a while I was perplexed but it soon dawned on me that sooner or later, the husbands( hasna band) were bound to intervene. I could understand their plight because for all practical purposes, I was one myself. All good things have to come to an end and my poetic initiative could not but have a premature end

Mr Tharoor, in his previous articles had expounded on the virtues of what is called “reasoned argument” but one only needs vested interest and a good imagination to circumvent that. In my case :-

1) My friends knew that most of my poetry on their wives was frivolous and there was not anything remotely romantic in them.

2) My friends also knew that I wrote “serious serious” articles on intellectual matters in spiritual/ intellectual/ HRD magazines and was therefore “safe”.

3) Dale Carnegie had mentioned once how one’s spouse and one’s occupation were the two most important decisions of one’s life. Since I have already written almost 15, articles on the latter( links on my blog – http://mypyp.wordpress.com/ ) and practically nothing on the former( I am glad my wife has not read Dale Carnegie), one can assume that for me, spouse/spouses were on the backburner.

4) One Punjabi gentlemen had once asked me “ Do you Gujarati men address your wives also as “ben”. I refuted that strongly and after spouting a spur of the moment limerick on his wife told him “ We may not call them “ben” but this is just to show you how can we can address the real ben(other people’s wives) if we choose to. Then, I resolved to improve this absurd “ben” image of Gujaratis and set out to narrate poetry on other people’s wives with a vengeance.

5) By a process of serendipity, I discovered that my silly rhyming was acceptable when, once in a blue moon, I managed to write somewhat “classy” poems on spirituality, cricket etc accepted by some reputed
websites. One sample:-

The legacy of September 11,2001

Since practicing rhyming on the ladies had led to all this “achievement”, I could argue that it was all for a noble cause.

6)It is said that “God punishes the intention, not the action”. Apart from the above, I give vent to my artistic expression on all sorts of subjects- from the ball boys on the Tennis court to the delicious cooking. I may make poetry on someone who I may not attractive enough but whose name rhymes well and vice versa.It is not difficult to prove that it is the love of poetry or more specifically, the delight of rhyming and as long as the motives are noble, nobody has any business getting perturbed.

In my view, not even a lawyer can refute these “reasoned arguments” though they sound more like the devil quoting the scriptures for his purpose.. The fact remains that no matter how “civilized” we get, in our heart of hearts “A human being is still a creature of emotion, not logic”; The ladies expression of spontaneous delight did me in because sooner or later, the husband’s ego was bound to be hurt. One of them did try to give me a dose on my own medicine and would have succeeded but for the fact that god did not deem it fit to confer the art of even lousy poetry on every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Being a writer, Mr Tharoor would do well to heed Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “

“A writer almost always presents one aspect of a case, whereas every case can be seen from no less than seven points of view, all of which are probably correct by themselves, but not correct at the same time and in the same circumstances. “ Though this is written in the context of motives of people who write books, it is generally true as well. Talking in the context of looking at a thing from a different standpoint in different circumstances, Gandhiji adds “All my life though, the very insistence on truth has taught me to appreciate the beauty of compromise.”. He even described this spirit as an essential part of Satyagraha.

The liberals can go on arguing in the name of freedom of expression but the fact remains that when one can move on to greener pastures(women, children, nature), why restrict oneself to touchy issues? In a country of a billion people, there are plenty of anonymous Greek gods and goddesses who could do with some limelight. Just as Mr Hussain had an obsession with Madhuri Dixit once upon a time, he would probably get more money and job satisfaction on revealing unknown talent. The twenty first century is as it is expected to be stress prone and there is no point in being provocative on sensitive issues. If you put your hand on top of a candle, won’t you get burnt?

Mr Tharoor is bang on target on one issue though. He says towards the end of the article that in his old age, Hussain is forced to live in exile and not allowed to return to the land of his birth because of the threats to his life. For a religion that prides itself on tolerance, this is despicable. He is not a naughty young poet after all.

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Does god need a guru?

January 13, 2007

The original title of this article was going to be “If I were God..”. That would obviously sound quite pompous and so I first thought of “Does God need a consultant”? . However since the film Guru has been released recently and resurrected certain stray thoughts in my mind, I substituted consultant with Guru. This article is a “thinking out of the box” exercise on god’s performance on several issues(because of which there seems a lack of focus which is deliberate):-

I read somewhere that the film Guru is based on the life of India’s most successful post independent industrialist, the late Dhirubhai Ambani.. His success mostly was because of lateral thinking – http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/personal-growth/personal-growth/lateral.asp. The world’s best known authority on lateral thinking, Edward De Bono has always advocated that both linear and lateral thinking should be introduced in schools because intellectuals or other bright people do not necessarily make good thinkers. Just focusing on the romance of “Rags to Riches” story while missing the essence is like missing the wood for the trees. Assuming that god is running this world, he is not doing a very good job on this issue; high time he influences the teachers. . Teacher is also synonymous with the word Guru the literal meaning of which is “One who removes darkness.” A lot of darkness can be dispelled if lateral thinking is taught. Wonder why it does not happen.? The govt may or may not do anything but the people of India gave Dhirubhai a farewell that speaks for itself- he was the Guru of Gurus and who better than Hirubhai(My name is Hiren Shah) to extol the virtues of Dhirubhai.

Talking of Dhirubhai reminds me of my father who though not an entrepreneur, had turned around a sick company and won a partnership on the strength of his management skills alone. Being a chartered accountant by profession, he prevailed upon me the importance of cash flow management and how any business could collapse without continuous liquidity. So much so that I ended up writing a poem on it . God really takes the cake where cash flow is concerned. He has to ensure that sufficient accidents happen every month to ensure that the kitchen fires burn in several homes(mechanics, doctors, insurance etc); he has to ensure that people fight and there are disputes so that lawyers, police etc earn a living etc etc. Basically, he has to operate on the principle of “One man’s problem is another man’s opportunity”. That’s quite a naughty way to run the world even accounting for the law of Karma. Liquidity apart, God has to ensure that overall the world is good(profitable) and considering the fall of people like Hitler and Stalin, he has done a good job of it. He is a pretty good money manager.

The law of Karma reminds me of the horrifying sexual exploitation and serial killings of innocent children at Nithari Village in Noida recently. One cannot but wonder about the law and what the innocent children must have done in their previous lives to deserve such a cruel fate. Talking in the management context of “ One should not make the same mistake twice”, unless god makes the law of Karma transparent( one should be able to see what one did in one’s previous lives for reward/punishment) how can one know one’s mistake and ensure that it is not repeated again. This is assuming that the law is correct( going by Hinduism, Jainism and to the best of my knowledge, Budhdhism). On mooting this question, I got a new reply this time- the first four years, the child has to pay for the father’s sins, the next four the mother’s sins, the next four his own sins before the actions of the current birth starts. Interesting, if true.

Otherwise the answers one tends to get are- if god makes the law transparent and nobody does any bad deed , how will he run the world- if there is no villain, where will the heros come from and what about the famous maya jaal ?. Another explanation in the context of “Necessity is the mother of invention” is that if no or very little trouble happens, who the hell will remember good(poor), old God?. As it is, one gets to hear that most people worship god out of fear and greed but very few out of love. Man, by his very nature is selfish but for God to create so much trouble in the world just to be remembered? God would not be spiritual if god were like that and if that is so, existence has no meaning. The way tides happen, seasons change, the distance between the earth, moon and sun and similar other things that happen in the Universe which indicates that the universe is in order- why not this(transparency in law of karma)? God alone knows the answer and I do hope the old boy gives it a thought or two.

Talking of transparency reminds me of the redoubtable Bill Gates, the richest and one of the most successful men in the world. I have read in books on how at Microsoft, anybody can write to Mr Bill Gates directly and be redirected by him. In my humble opinion, that must be one of the major reasons of his success because with that kind of transparency, Mr Gates probably knows what the potential of each individual is and people are not likely to be scared of their immediate bosses. Today it has come in the papers “Lost your appetite for work? Blame your toxic boss” where it is given how autocratic bosses can harm both the individuals and the organization. I have read other books on the subject and also suffered practically and feel that the situation can be redressed only if the top boss( boss of bosses) ensures that there is enough transparency without fear which can only be good in the long run. This can only happen if the boss of boss of the bosses( god himself) instills this sense in the heads of organizations. Wonder what god’s views on this are.

Talking of Mr Gates cannot but remind of the initiative that he has taken with his foundation. One gets to hear of a “Capitalists mind with a socialist heart” but perhaps for the first time in the history of mankind, the world’s two richest men have come together for philanthropic activities with a $60billion fund. This is a very handsome step considering the fact that civilizations have perished when there have been extreme disparities of income and wealth. Mr Gates also said that he wanted to give back to society not only in terms of money but whatever he had learnt in the business world. One gets to read in spiritual books that many times severe adversity causes an about turn in people’s attitudes and make them graduate towards spirituality/philanthropy. It happened to one great industrialist. If true, it would be prudent of God to hasten adversity and bring it a little early in their lives- preposterous though it may seem, one has to look from an overall perspective and the lead given by these two gentlemen can remove whatever is left of the rift between capitalism/ Socialism forever. As we say in Hindi, shubh(read ashubh) kaam me deri kya?

Transparency cannot but help you remind of the political system. Yesterday, there was a report on how cricketers were going to be paid on performance alone. I find it a little strange that people playing a sport have to be so accountable and elected representatives of people have no accountability. In every second management book, it is given that goals are so important that the habit of forming them should be inculcated from early childhood. It is strange that for sports and children and companies, goals and performance is important but for those running the country, it does not matter. Strange are the ways of God- somewhat like putting the cart before the horse.

Now that reminds me of something else. Getting their due always reminds me of women- one wonders when they will get their due? I read a couple of books on their exploitation at work. One keeps reading on how considering their population, women are grossly misrepresented in parliament. There has been some headway in the right direction after liberalization but by and far, it remains a man’s world. One would like to believe that God wanted men and women to be equal and since women gives birth to a man, this is the cart before the horse all over again. I am not saying that god does not have horse sense but one wonders why such injustice? The 21st century may turn out to be one of servant and mother leadership and one hopes that god makes amends for past mistakes.

Getting their due and cash flow reminds one of something else- one journalist had told me that the goddess of Laxmi( Money) and Saraswati( Goddess of knowledge) do not always go hand in hand. Someone with a mass appeal like actor Govinda can give a brilliant actor like Naseeruddin shah a run for his money where commercial appeal is concerned. Good art films flop where substandard commercial films may do well. There are examples of artists struggling for subsistence and people with very humble businesses being millionaires. Everything that is good does not necessarily succeed commercially and vice-versa. God alone knows the reasons for this but at least he can do a more balancing act that befits his stature.

The balancing act again reminds you of the wide gap between applied spirituality and applied science. Intellectuals like Krishnamurthy have clearly stated that man has progressed technologically but regressed psychologically. Events like the Iraq war, 9/11 or even the recent bomb blasts prove statements like “Man. God’s greatest mistake” or “Religions are many but religion is one”. Spirituality and “religious mind” is more talked about than actually followed . Being selfish is not always a bad thing.. God could do with a bit of selfishness here- why not promote one’s own subject( applied spirituality). We have made enough headway in Science anyway.

From an individual’s perspective, being spiritual is being happy and peaceful throughout the day. This is simply not possible if a person is in the wrong profession which is brought out properly in my other blog –Make your passion your profession. The Russian comunists did it , the chinese also misplaced people in the cultural revolution but how can god do such a thing. I am surprised that a superpower like the United states has so many people writing on the subject. I don’t like to critciize god but he is not much of a critical thinker- how can welfare of mankind be brought about if a majority of people are miserable for a majority of working hours. You need to something about that, Godji.

I can go on and on as one stray thought leads to another. Just a word guru started a whole chain of thought which goes on to show that thought itself is the biggest guru. ( Thoughts have infinite power). At the same time, all this gives food for thought what god is really upto and with due apologies for insubordination, can he do with some help on certain issues. ?

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Vindication of Sex-Education

October 17, 2006


(picture from http://www.askmen.com)

This post was prompted by an interesting incident in my 11 year old son’s schoolfriend’s life. Though only in the sixth standard, with lots of girls showing interest in him, his parents were dumbfounded when their son actually received three letters(in addition to earlier emails) at their residential address from some girl. Amusing though it was, they actually didn’t know how to deal with the situation. His mother remarked, “ My daughter is almost double my son’s age but I have never had any problems with her. Since when have girls started chasing boys like this and that too at such a young age”.

Incidentally, my son studies in one of those schools which is very particular about preserving Indian culture. It reminded me of an incident at the parent teacher’s meeting a few months ago when a mother complained that she didn’t know what to say when her daughter told her about a senior boy and girl smooching in class.

The funniest incident occurred with my wife, a nursery school teacher when some tiny tot who was also known to some mutual friends actually said ,”She is sexy” on being asked “How is your teacher?” Height of “catch them young” I would say.

One almost feels like going back to school and reminds of that song “Koi lauta de mere bite hue din”

Just a couple of days ago, in the Sunday Times( 15/10/2006), in an article “Orissa teachers coy about talking birds and bees” , Arabinda Mishra says that Teachers in Orissa are reluctant to impart sex education and the dangers of AIDS to their students because they find words like condom, sex and intercourse too unpleasant to discuss in classrooms. Under pressure from the HRD ministry, a chapter on AIDS was introduced as a part of social studies for students of IX and X but the teachers were so uncomfortable discussing it that it was withdrawn. Since then, it has been a tug of war between the teachers and the bureaucrats of the HRD ministry. The Orissa Aids Cell had prepared the chapter in consultation with experts but could not convince the teachers. Orissa has had a spurt in AIDS cases but the teachers found the topic to embarrassing to handle.

A few months ago, there was a similar article in a magazine advising parents on how to go about imparting sex education. It was also somewhat amusing but the fact remains that before imparting an education of this type, the teachers themselves have to be specially oriented if not trained. The teachers however do not seem to be too inclined it seems.

The gates of this impasse can be penetrated by no less a man than Bill Gates himself. Though he has not mentioned the word “sex” anywhere in his book Business@speed of thought, some of the extracts(relevant to online education from the chapter connected learning communities) seem to be written for the current situation:-

“Most teachers have a great love of learning and they will get excited about anything that will help kids learn. What teachers don’t want is to be thrown into something they have not had the opportunity to learn about and be comfortable with”..

This exactly describes the Orissa situation..

Elsewhere, Mr Gates writes, “ An important reengineering principle is that companies should focus on their core competence and outsource everything else. “. Though this book was written a few years back, these days , it is not uncommon to find reports on homework of American kids being outsourced to India. Why then should teachers or for that matter parents take the onus of sex education when it is not their core competence and requires specialized knowledge imparting skills?. Why can’t it be done by the computer to the extent possible? As it is, on line education is all about the best teachers producing the best content and making it accessible to all, not just their classrooms. This is true for all subjects and the added advantage is that the computer can both innstruct and demonstrate and therefore make it more comprehensible.

One more extract from the Book also fits the bill “ One of the most forward looking ideas is to use the PC to offer a variety of ways to learn. About fifty different major theories identify similar attributes. Some people learn by reading, some by listening, some by watching someone else do a task, some by doing the task. Most of us learn from a combination of all these methods. “Any subject can be personalized according to the learning style of the student. What a unique way to know about sex.

It is also given that “ A highly motivated student can learn from different reading materials, where a poorly motivated student needs accessible materials such as a video to learn”. Well, considering the subject matter, I would not be surprised if a majority of students turn out to be poorly motivated. One should also discuss the motivation of the teacher here. Off and on, one gets to hear things like how teachers have not exactly taken a liking to computers and there is resistance to change. Now, if you give them a Hobson’s choice- either teach sex education directly or through computers, I think you can kill two birds with one stone and do away with the resistance to computers problem forever.

The children can also ask the uncomfortable questions on line and get their answers. With the way broadband services are improving, why a multi-media sex education initiative has not been taken surprises me. Such a move can live up to that saying in Hindi “Saap bhi mar jaaye or laathi bhi na toote” . Why not? Especially for those who find it too difficult to handle. It can also be a combo strategy- the computer can give the basic orientation and certain doubts cleared by parents/teachers.

I had read in a book how a father, on failing repeatedly to get his son to wash his hands before eating finally took him to one of his doctor friends. The doctor briefed the child on what germs were, gave a display under a microscope and topped it up by showing a video film showing explicitly what could happen if he didn’t wash his hands. Thereafter, the child never had to be told to wash hands. Another doctor had told me similarly that to prevent people from smoking, they should be shown video films of lung cancer patients and apprised of other problems they could face with advancing age when health becomes more and more precious. This is the “Without, danger, you cannot go beyond danger” that I have advocated in my earlier posts.One cannot have a wishy-washy,ambiguous, half hearted approach to AIDS(or other adverse effects of pre-marital sex) . It must be significantly scary to create an impact.

There are many who feel that teaching sex education at a young age in school is both awkward and undesirable as it may prove counterproductive. Many others are of the view that such an education is not in accordance with our culture. Such issues are best addressed by an expert.For those inclined to know more,let us have it from the horse’s mouth. These are two best articles by renowned sexologist, Dr Prakash kothari.They address AIDS, awkwardness of parents and teachers, influence of television etc among other things and vindicate the introduction of sex education among students:-

Sex education for adolescents stressed

Birds, Bees and Relatives

Today)17/10/2006), it has come in the papers how children are becoming more violent because of influence of Television. Whether it is sex or violence, one has to follow Osho’s philosophy “ To remove darkness, one has to bring light into the room and not take darkness out of a room”. The right knowledge has simply got to be introduced in the right manner and spread as fast as possible. .

The fact that “Child is the father of man” applies now more to sex than anything else can be proved by this joke:-

The teacher at the beginning of the class says: “OK kids, we are going to talk about sexual education today. First we’ll talk about how the human reproduction goes on…” Immediately, little Johnny raises his hand, and desperately tries to get the teacher’s attention. But the teacher, knowing how little Johnny is about these things, goes on… “… First, a man a woman have to be in love… ” But little Johny keeps his hand up, waving it up and down, and from one side to the other one. The teacher ignores him..”..They have to be very much in love because…” But now little Johnny even starts making noise with his feet, so the teacher decides to acknowledge him: ” OK, little Johnny. What do you want to say.” Little Johnny then stands up, and says: “I just wanted to ask. Those of us who have already f****d, can we leave?

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Lalu denied entry at the India International centre, There and at IIMs, who is really eligible to enter?

October 9, 2006

Yesterday(8/10/2006), the Sunday Times reported that Railway minister Lalu Yadav was refused the much sought after membership of India International Center which is considered a kind of “arrival statement” by Delhi’s Intellectual circuit :-

Elite IIC refuses to take lalu as member

The high esteem membership was refused on the grounds that Lalu was charge sheeted in criminal cases. One is prompted to ask “What’s new?”. If he could lecture impressively at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad on September 18, why such a hue and cry over membership of another elite institute? Five days after this post, on 13/10,2006, former Union minister, Dr Karan singh(son of Hari Singh,erstwhile king of Kashmir) resigned as one of the life trustees of IIC on failing to deliver on his promise of securing a membership for lalu. Now, if people of that kind of stature want lalu as members, one can hardly grudge him that.

In an article,”Are you club class?” in the Sunday Times(15/10/2006), Meenakshi Kumar says that some clubs like Delhi Gymkhana insisit on a certain status and stature( a Janpath shopkeeper being refused membership)and some like Delhi Golf club insist on sporting talent. At the Gymkhana, people may have to wait upto 35 years. IIC on the other hand insists on members who help sustain the international character of the centre. On being told once that the Japensese can turn Bihar into a Japan in a few months, Lalu replied that he could turn Japan into a Bihar in a few days. That’s all the internationalism lalu’s got but jokes apart, he would simply be as much of a misfit in these clubs as a club member would be in his native Bihar.

The Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh has publicly praised Lalu very highly for his turnaround of railways.However, following the news that lalu was going to address the students of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and after he gave his lecture, a lot of blogs questioned the validity of granting him such an honor stating that the railways turnaround could not be attributed to him directly. Some argued that even if for a moment, it is believed that he had a major role to play in the railways turnaround, considering that he had made a mockery of democracy and governance in Bihar for a decade and a half, his overall record was grossly negative and a person like him had no business lecturing at premiere Management institutes of India.

Laloo interacting with management students at IIM, Ahmedabad.
(from Hindustan times archives)

In the book “The war for Talent”, the authors day” Manegerial talent is at the epicentre for the war for talent. Mangerial talent is a combination of a sharp, strategic mind, leadership ability, emotional maturity, communication skills, the ability to attract and inspire other talented people, entrepreneurial instincts, functional skills and the ability to deliver results”.

Lalu may not be a manager in the true sense of the firm but one wonders how much of this applies to him.When lalu first became CM, he was lauded for his unique administrative style like doing surprise checks at odd hours among other things. Personally speaking, I admired him for his rustic wisdom and supreme artistry at playing to the gallery. However, he flattered to deceive badly and also got embroiled in the fodder scam.

Rather than get into debates on Lalu’s credibility, one should focus on those who really deserve the honor. Where are the Shahrukh khans and Sachin Tendulkars of management? Can the information revolution and mass communication unearth those chupa rustams(hidden talent). Unfortunately, such talent is not as transparent as acting or sports. I had the pleasure of coming across one such prodigy.

Ashish Kundu and I were in the same school and same class for four years between 1977-81. We bumped into each other in the Kedia group(1992-1995) in September ‘1992 when he joined as Assistant Manager(Exports) and I as Assistant Manager(MIS). The kedia group which specialized in liquor had a turnover of about Rs150 Crores at that time. Though he used to come on a motorcycle initially, his prodigious talent soon got him three cars(two from the company) and several promotions within a span of a year and he rose to become CEO. Eminent novelist Agatha Christie had once said that everything could be done creatively and it was my pleasure to see Ashish do something as mundane as administration in a unique style( doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way-it is one thing to read about it and another thing to witness it). He excelled both vertically(each post from assistant manager to CEO) and horizontally( Finance, Marketing, Personnel, operations etc).

He completely outclassed the powers that be in the company in front of the political leadership of a southern state and foreign collaborators with whom they were contemplating various projects. Much later,after leaving his job, he established a big project consultancy business of his own in next to no time.

Poetry being the spontaneous flow of powerful emotions, he inspired this out of me in August’1995 when we parted ways in the corporate world. The quality of poetry is not as important as the fact that his brilliance inspired it. It is more of prose in poetry than real poetry.

I have said in other posts that Greatbong is my favorite writer in the blogoshpere. Here is the other greatbong in my life. As I say this I would like to add that had it been possible ,maybe the people of Bengal would have loved to see his meteoric rise as much as Saurav Ganguly’s. It was like watching a superstar take off. Here then, is a tribute to a wonderful friend and an outstanding business executive:-

Poem- Tribute to an outstanding corporate executive

Within the first month of our bumping into each other in the corporate world, on watching his razor sharp business brains and superb communicating abilities, I predicted that one day he would make it very big in the corporate world. Now, If only I could predict share prices like that, I would have become the Indian Mr Buffet by now. Despite knowing each other since school days and being regularly in touch, I always think of him as boss first, an attitude which is at great variance with some of the other bosses I have come across in my life

Jokes apart, can there be two opinions on whether or not such people should be allowed to address premiere management institutes? IIM ne bulalaya lalu, inko kya main bulalu?