Friday, March 2, 2012
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Sunday, March 6, 2011
|Saurav Kumar wants to 'Spice up your mobile'|
Sunday, September 26, 2010
The great Indian psychotherapy
(TOI, 26 Sep 2010, All That Matters, Page 22)
Countless articles, books, thesis, papers and research reports have tried to answer the question, ‘what is wrong with India?’ Global experts are startled that a country of massive potential has one of the largest populations of poor people in the world. Isn’t it baffling that despite almost everyone agreeing that things should change, they don’t? Intellectuals give intelligent suggestions – from investing in infrastructure to improving the judicial system. Yet, nothing moves. Issues dating back thirty years ago, continue to plague India today. The young are often perplexed. They ask will things ever change? How? Whose fault is it that they haven’t?
Today, i will attempt to answer these tricky questions, although from a different perspective. I will not put the blame on everyone’s favorite punching bag– inept politicians. That is too easy an argument and not entirely correct. After all, we elect the politicians. So, for every MP out there, there are a few lakh people who wanted him or her there. I won’t give ‘policy’ solutions either – make power plants, improve the roads, open up the economy. It isn’t the lack of such ideas that is stalling progress. No, blocking progress is part of the unique psyche of Indians. There are three traits of our psyche, in particular, that are not good for us and our country. Each comes from three distinct sources – our school, our environment and our home.
The first trait is servility. At school, our education system hammers out our individual voices and kills our natural creativity, turning us into servile, coursematerial slaves. Indian kids are not encouraged to raise their voices in class, particularly when they disagree with the teacher. And of course, no subject teaches us imagination, creativity or innovation. Course materials are designed for no-debate kind of teaching. For example, we ask: how many states are there in India? 28. Correct. Next question –how is a country divided into states? What criteria should be used? Since these are never discussed, children never develop their own viewpoint or the faculty to think.
The second trait is our numbness to injustice. It comes from our environment. We see corruption from our childhood. Almost all of us have been asked to lie about our age to the train TC, claiming to be less than 5 years old to get a free ride. It creates a value system in the child’s brain that ‘anything goes’, so long as you can get away with it. A bit of lying here, a bit of cheating there is seen as acceptable. Hence, we all grow up slightly numb to corruption. Not even one high profile person in India is behind bars for corruption right now. This could be because, to a certain extent, we don’t really care.
The third trait is divisiveness. This often comes from our home, particularly our family and relatives, where we learn about the differences amongst people. Our religion, culture and language are revered and celebrated in our families. Other people are different – and often implied to be not as good as us. We’ve all known an aunt or uncle who, though is a good person, holds rigid bias against Muslims, Dalits or people from different communities. Even today, most of India votes on one criterion – caste. Dalits vote for Dalits, Thakurs for Thakurs and Yadavs for Yadavs. In such a scenario, why would a politician do any real work? When we choose a mobile network, do we check if Airtel and Vodafone belong to a particular caste? No, we simply choose the provider based on the best value or service. Then, why do we vote for somebody simply because he has the same caste as ours?
We need mass self-psychotherapy for the three traits listed above. When we talk of change, you and i alone can’t replace a politician, or order a road to be built. However, we can change one thing – our mindset. And collectively, this alone has the power to make the biggest difference. We have to unlearn whatever is holding us back, and definitely break the cycle so we don’t pass on these traits to the next generation. Our children should think creatively, have opinions and speak up in class. They should learn what is wrong is wrong – no matter how big or small. And they shouldn’t hate other people on the basis of their background. Let us also resolve to start working on our own minds, right now. A change in mindset changes the way people vote, which in turn changes politicians.
And change does happen. In the 80s, we had movies like “Gunda” and “Khoon Pi Jaaonga”. Today, our movies have better content. They have changed. How? It is because our expectations from films have changed. Hence, the filmmakers had to change.
If we resolve today that we will vote on the basis of performance alone, we will encourage the voices against injustice and we will place an honest but less wealthy person on a higher pedestal than a corrupt but rich person. By doing so, we would contribute to India’s progress. If everyone who read this newspaper did this, it would be enough to change voting patterns in the next election. And then, maybe, we will start moving towards a better India. Are you on board?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
THE GIRL WRITING AS HERSELF....
It was probably the April of 1974. Bangalore was getting warm and gulmohars were blooming at the IISc campus. I was the only girl in my postgraduate department and was staying at the ladies' hostel. Other girls were pursuing research in different departments of Science. I was looking forward to going abroad to complete a doctorate in computer science. I had been offered scholarships from Universities in the US... I had not thought of taking up a job in India.
One day, while on the way to my hostel from our lecture-hall complex, I saw an advertisement on the notice board. It was a standard job-requirement notice from the famous automobile company Telco (now Tata Motors)... It stated that the company required young, bright engineers, hardworking and with an excellent academic background, etc.
At the bottom was a small line: 'Lady Candidates need not apply.' I read it and was very upset. For the first time in my life I was up against gender discrimination.
Though I was not keen on taking up the job, I saw it as a challenge. I had done extremely well in academics, better than most of my male peers... Little did I know then that in real life academic excellence is not enough to be successful?
After reading the notice I went fuming to my room. I decided to inform the topmost person in Telco's management about the injustice the company was perpetrating. I got a postcard and started to write, but there was a problem: I did not know who headed Telco
I thought it must be one of the Tatas. I knew JRD Tata was the head of the Tata Group; I had seen his pictures in newspapers (actually, Sumant Moolgaokar was the company's chairman then) I took the card, addressed it to JRD and started writing. To this day I remember clearly what I wrote. 'The great Tatas have always been pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure industries in India, such as iron and steel, chemicals, textiles and locomotives they have cared for higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study there. But I am surprised how a company such as Telco is discriminating on the basis of gender.'
I posted the letter and forgot about it. Less than 10 days later, I received a telegram stating that I had to appear for an interview at Telco's Pune facility at the company's expense. I was taken aback by the telegram. My hostel mate told me I should use the opportunity to go to Pune free of cost and buy them the famous Pune saris for cheap! I collected Rs30 each from everyone who wanted a sari when I look back, I feel like laughing at the reasons for my going, but back then they seemed good enough to make the trip.
It was my first visit to Pune and I immediately fell in love with the city.
To this day it remains dear to me. I feel as much at home in Pune as I do in Hubli, my hometown. The place changed my life in so many ways. As directed, I went to Telco's Pimpri office for the interview.
There were six people on the panel and I realized then that this was serious business.
'This is the girl who wrote to JRD,' I heard somebody whisper as soon as I entered the room. By then I knew for sure that I would not get the job. The realization abolished all fear from my mind, so I was rather cool while the interview was being conducted.
Even before the interview started, I reckoned the panel was biased, so I told them, rather impolitely, 'I hope this is only a technical interview.'
They were taken aback by my rudeness, and even today I am ashamed about my attitude. The panel asked me technical questions and I answered all of them.
Then an elderly gentleman with an affectionate voice told me, 'Do you know why we said lady candidates need not apply? The reason is that we have never employed any ladies on the shop floor. This is not a co-ed college; this is a factory. When it comes to academics, you are a first ranker throughout. We appreciate that, but people like you should work in research laboratories.
I was a young girl from small-town Hubli. My world had been a limited place.
I did not know the ways of large corporate houses and their difficulties, so I answered, 'But you must start somewhere, otherwise no woman will ever be able to work in your factories.'
Finally, after a long interview, I was told I had been successful. So this was what the future had in store for me. Never had I thought I would take up a job in Pune. I met a shy young man from Karnataka there, we became good friends and we got married.
It was only after joining Telco that I realized who JRD was: the uncrowned king of Indian industry. Now I was scared, but I did not get to meet him till I was transferred to Bombay. One day I had to show some reports to Mr Moolgaokar, our chairman, who we all knew as SM. I was in his office on the first floor of Bombay House (the Tata headquarters) when, suddenly JRD walked in. That was the first time I saw 'appro JRD'. Appro means 'our' in Gujarati. This was the affectionate term by which people at Bombay House called him. I was feeling very nervous, remembering my postcard episode. SM introduced me nicely, 'Jeh (that's what his close associates called him), this young woman is an engineer and that too a postgraduate.
She is the first woman to work on the Telco shop floor.' JRD looked at me. I was praying he would not ask me any questions about my interview (or the postcard that preceded it).
Thankfully, he didn't. Instead, he remarked. 'It is nice that girls are getting into engineering in our country. By the way, what is your name?'
'When I joined Telco I was Sudha Kulkarni, Sir,' I replied. 'Now I am Sudha Murthy.' He smiled and kindly smile and started a discussion with SM. As for me, I almost ran out of the room.
After that I used to see JRD on and off. He was the Tata Group chairman and I was merely an engineer. There was nothing that we had in common. I was in awe of him.
One day I was waiting for Murthy, my husband, to pick me up after office hours. To my surprise I saw JRD standing next to me. I did not know how to react. Yet again I started worrying about that postcard. Looking back, I realize JRD had forgotten about it. It must have been a small incident for him, but not so for me.
'Young lady, why are you here?' he asked. 'Office time is over.' I said, 'Sir, I'm waiting for my husband to come and pick me up.' JRD said, 'It is getting dark and there's no one in the corridor.
I'll wait with you till your husband comes.'
I was quite used to waiting for Murthy, but having JRD waiting alongside made me extremely uncomfortable.
I was nervous. Out of the corner of my eye I looked at him. He wore a simple white pant and shirt. He was old, yet his face was glowing. There wasn't any air of superiority about him. I was thinking, 'Look at this person. He is a chairman, a well-respected man in our country and he is waiting for the sake of an ordinary employee.'
Then I saw Murthy and I rushed out. JRD called and said, 'Young lady, tell your husband never to make his wife wait again.' In 1982 I had to resign from my job at Telco. I was reluctant to go, but I really did not have a choice. I was coming down the steps of Bombay House after wrapping up my final settlement when I saw JRD coming up. He was absorbed in thought. I wanted to say goodbye to him, so I stopped. He saw me and paused.
Gently, he said, 'So what are you doing, Mrs. Kulkarni?' (That was the way he always addressed me.) 'Sir, I am leaving Telco.'
'Where are you going?' he asked. 'Pune, Sir. My husband is starting a company called Infosys and I'm shifting to Pune.'
'Oh! And what will you do when you are successful.'
'Sir, I don't know whether we will be successful.' 'Never start with diffidence,' he advised me 'Always start with confidence. When you are successful you must give back to society. Society gives us so much; we must reciprocate. Wish you all the best.'
Then JRD continued walking up the stairs. I stood there for what seemed like a millennium. That was the last time I saw him alive.
Many years later I met Ratan Tata in the same Bombay House, occupying the chair JRD once did. I told him of my many sweet memories of working with Telco. Later, he wrote to me, 'It was nice hearing about Jeh from you. The sad part is that he's not alive to see you today.'
I consider JRD a great man because, despite being an extremely busy person, he valued one postcard written by a young girl seeking justice. He must have received thousands of letters everyday. He could have thrown mine away, but he didn't do that. He respected the intentions of that unknown girl, who had neither influence nor money, and gave her an opportunity in his company. He did not merely give her a job; he changed her life and mindset forever.
Close to 50 per cent of the students in today's engineering colleges are girls. And there are women on the shop floor in many industry segments. I see these changes and I think of JRD. If at all time stops and asks me what I want from life, I would say I wish JRD were alive today to see how the company we started has grown. He would have enjoyed it wholeheartedly.
My love and respect for the House of Tata remains undiminished by the passage of time. I always looked up to JRD. I saw him as a role model for his simplicity, his generosity, his kindness and the care he took of his employees. Those blue eyes always reminded me of the sky; they had the same vastness and magnificence. (Sudha Murthy is a widely published writer and chairperson of the Infosys Foundation involved in a number of social development initiatives. Infosys chairman Narayana Murthy is her husband.)
Article sourced from: Lasting Legacies (Tata Review- Special Commemorative Issue 2004), brought out by the house of Tatas to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of JRD Tata on July 29, 2004 .
Sunday, September 19, 2010
LE BALAIYA, ee ka hua?
Kahe albalaye huye hain? Etna narbhasane se kuchchho nahin hoga.
O-mi-gosh, what's this? Why are you so flustered? Such nervousness won't help matters.
The inveterate linguist may scream at such an apparent contamination of Hindi language but the average Bihari simply loves to throw all narrow parameters of grammar to the winds. For them, the funnier they are, the better their adaptability is into their inimitable lingua franca. Over the years, Biharis have invented a language, which has an unmistakable stamp of their own.
In recent times, its popularity has traveled far and wide beyond the borders of the State many screen heroes, including Amitabh Bachchan, have mouthed Bihari clichés with characteristic élan - a far cry from the days when it was thought to be an infra dig of sorts for anybody other than country bumpkins and unscrupulous politicians to perpetrate such "verbal atrocities".
All that, however, is passé now. Bihari Boli is sweeter than honey now not only in Bollywood but also on the campuses of prestigious universities and IITs across the country. Words like harbaraye, garbaraye, bargalaye, thartharaye and dhanmanaye which would have sounded Greek to outsiders earlier are being used with gay abandon by the hep youngsters there.
Sobriquets laced with double entendres like "garda", “bawaal” and “dhuan” denoting the varying degree of a girl's beauty can be heard not only in Patna University colleges but also faraway Fergusson College in Pune. Moreover, a-go, dugo, teengo and chaartho type of numerology that was a matter of disdain not long ago is being accepted even by the stiff upper-lips without any qualms. So, notes sarka do (pass on the notes),"batti buta do (put out the lights)", Principal ko harka do (bamboozle the principal), burbak kahin ka (you stupid fellow!), hum to biga gaye (I was thrown out) and Hum to huan thebe kiye the (I was very much there) are some of the expressions which have conveniently made their way into the otherwise prim-and-propah St Stephens, New Delhi. Similarly, coinages like dhakiyaye (shoved), mukiyaye (punched), and latiyaye (kicked)are the current rage. Hiyan (here),huan (there), kahe (why), enne (this way) and onne (that way) are some of other typical words, which are spoken rather nonchalantly by so-called educated lot.
One, therefore, does not get surprised if one hears tanikke for little, nimman for good, anhar for darkness and ejot for lights. For them, colloquial language need not be tied to any narrow rules. E topicwa par maatha khapane se kuchchho nahi hoga (nothing is to come out of this topic), as one wit commented. Among many characteristics of this language are its terms of endearment. Seldom does one hear people on the streets calling each other by their real names. Raju automatically becomes Rajua, Pappu turns into Pappua, Rajesh into Rajeshwa and Shatrughna at best Satrohna.
This potpourri of all Bihari dialects has also coined new terms for human anatomy which would baffle an FRCP if he were to land here straight from Edinburgh. Here gor means legs, moori is substitute to head, ongree is equivalent to finger, thor denotes lips and kapar is synonymous with forehead. This language also has more onomatopoeic words than probably any other.
Words like tapak se, gapak se, and japak se can be understood by listening to their phonetical sounds. No longer is Bihari language associated with a few howlers like eskool (school), teeshan (station)and singal (signal) only. There are certain words which carry the precise meaning but which cannot be properly substituted by any word in other languages. Machchar bhamhor liya is probably is one such example. Bhamhorna is a super word, which means the collective assault of mosquitoes to "bhamhor" you. But then, one might argue, where else do you find so many mosquitoes to bhamhor you. Similarly, routine sariyana (to arrange one books and notebooks in the schoolbag according to the class schedule), Dupatta lasiyana (when a girl's dupatta sweeps the floor as she walks unknowingly)give the exact word for which other languages will take a sentence to convey the meaning. Right from Laloo Prasad Yadav, who emerges as the best speaker of his ghar ki boli to the inimitable Shekhar Suman, everybody loves to flaunt his native command of the language. Earlier, Biharis were notorious for atrocious gender sense and shoddy pronunciation.
Now, the same traits have become the tour-de-force of their conversation. The time has certainly come to raise ekadhgo (one or two) toast to the longevity of the Bihari language.
"Teengo" cheers to that!
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Unfortunately, not every student will succeed in your class. However, this fact should not keep you from believing that every student has the potential for success. This potential is so exciting - each New Year presents new challenges and new potential successes.
2. Student Successes
Closely related to the previous pick, student success is what drives teachers to continue. Each student who didn't understand a concept and then learned it through your help can be exhilarating. And when we actually reach that student that others have written off as being unteachable, this can truly be worth all the headaches that do come with the job.
3. Teaching a Subject Helps we Learn a Subject
we will never learn a topic better than when you start teaching it. I m feeling this now.
4. Daily Humor
If we have a positive attitude and a sense of humor, we will find things to laugh about each day. Sometimes it will be silly jokes we will make up as we teach that might get a laugh from our students. Sometimes it will be jokes that kids share with us. And sometimes students will come out with the funniest statements without realizing what they've said. Find the fun and enjoy it!
5. Affecting the Future
Yes it might be trite, but it is true. Teachers mold the future each day in class. In fact, it is a sad fact that you will see some of these students more consistently day-to-day than their parents will.
6. Staying Younger
Being around young people everyday will help us remain knowledgeable about current trends and ideas. It also helps break down barriers.
7. Autonomy in the Classroom
Once a teacher closes that door each day and begins teaching, they really are the ones who decide what's going to happen. Not many jobs provide an individual with so much room to be creative and autonomous each day.
8. Conducive to Family Life
If we have children, the school calendar will typically allow you to have the same days off as our kids. Further, we will probably be getting home close to the same time as our children.
9. Job Security
In many communities, teachers are a scarce commodity. It is fairly certain that you will be able to find a job as a teacher, though you might have to wait until the start of a new school year and be willing to travel within your county/school district. While requirements might be different from state to state, once you have proven yourself a successful teacher, it is relatively easy to move around and find a new job.
10. Summers Off
Unless you work in a district that has a year-round-education system, you will have a couple of months off in the summer where you can choose to get another job, teach summer school, or just relax and vacation. Further, you typically get two weeks off during Christmas/Winter Holidays and one week for Spring Break which can really be a huge benefit and provide much needed rest time.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Just now I realized that it's been some time that I scribbled some of mine own thoughts on this page. I know I have been active, giving you the latest pictures, the latest happening from this end, but not my feelings.
Life is somehow been very kind to me, in the sense I am having a dream run in every sense of word. The work to me would be described by the fact that I am loving Mondays, and every mornings its like I want to go to my office and meet people and work.
Been a dramatic journey through the training and to many's surprise landed up in the place where I was probably dreaming some years down the line. Infosys training had been a big time picnic for most of us. Now that all have finished their training in flying colors, I am sure they would agree that training@Infy was a cream of all.
Its nice to be in a place full of caring, jolly people. There is so much to learn all the time. I am simply loving it.
Just took this time as some pictures are getting uploaded on facebook as well as orkut. Hope the pictures would say the thousand words which I wasn't able to express.
Love you all, thank you so much for all the support you have given me, and I expect the same in times to come.
Wanted to mention that Sanjay Sir gave a pleasant surprise by gracing the occasion of the reception ceremony which followed after the marriage of my brother.
Will come back with more next time....
Love and regards,