Sunday, December 28, 2008

Media-upper middle class?

Television is a great medium. They investigate, prosecute and even pass judgement in any given case. I am talking about news channels.

And as Justice B Sudarshan Reddy of Supreme court criticised upper middle class (media consists of upper middle class)* for reacting only when a tragedy was affecting them and keeping mum when the same was badly hitting the poor and the masses of the nation.
In the words of Justice Reddy’: "Where were these protestors when the rivers were polluted by the effluents, when the rural poor children were dying even before reaching the age of five, when the criminal justice system systematically failed the poor?' He also said, ‘the recent reaction to the Mumbai terror attack was highly urban-centric, he wondered why these protests were not seen when similar terror strikes had hit places like Gokul Chat, Lumbini park, Mecca masjid and in Mumbai trains which were frequented by the lower middle class and the poor’.
My answer is: Media, Justice Reddy, did not show interest.

Most of these protesters are media created through their wonderful system of SMS polls.
By the way SMS polls also give the media money. Some one should come out with facts and figures about SMS polls and the money earned by the media.


Aziz Mirza was only peeping into the future of television when he made his film ‘ phir bhi dil hai Hindustani’. Understandably the film was just rated average by the media. I must say he was prophetic.
Media manufacture public opinion through their SMS polls. Great!
Their talk shows are really grrreat! Take Barkha Dutt. She wants to talk more, though there are guests who are experts. She takes her own time framing a question. Even before the guest completes his or her sentence she inturrupts and starts giving her version of the guest’s non-completed answer. Then she switches to another guest and repeats what she did with the first. Then she goes on. Often she becomes hysterical. She often says ‘paucity of time’ which does not apply in her case. After saying that she goes on to speak for at least a minute before the commercial break. I think she need not ask guests any questions, instead have a monologue giving the views of guests and occasionally turning to guests to get their nod. Afterall, as it appears, guests merely want to be seen on TV.

It was sad watching Barkha Dutt yelling hysterically and some other journalist lying on the floor and reporting on Mumbai terror attack.

Reference: Report in the Times of India of 28.12. 2008 ‘Growing apathy to woes of the poor, notes SC judge’

* mine.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just?

This is further to my blog 'Justice' dated December 8, 2008. Today's head line in the Times of India 'HC declares second judgement null & void' is much more disturbing. It says'The division bench of Justice D S R Verma and Justice K C Bhanu, which had delivered the second judgment acquitting Hymad of murder, on Monday ordered the registrar general to conduct an enquiry into the entire episode and report the findings to a disciplinary committee'. This is passing the buck. If Sivraj Patil and Deshmukh can resign on moral grounds, why not the judges?
Another question that crops up is: which of the two bench reviews was correct?
May be the recalled judgement is correct!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Justice

HC jails and frees man at same time

7 Dec 2008, 0254 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: In an unprecedented incident, the case of an Adilabad man charged with harassment for dowry and murder of his wife was heard by two

division Benches of the A P High Court almost concurrently. And while one of the Benches pronounced him guilty on both the counts, the second one acquitted him on the charge of murder and ordered that he be set free immediately.

The bizarre saga began when one Abdul Raheem went to the Bhainsa police station in Adilabad district on April 13, 2003, and lodged a complaint against his son-in-law, Hymad Pasha, accusing him of killing his daughter Rayeesa Begum. "I gave him my daughter, Rs 15,000 cash as dowry, some gold ornaments and household articles and performed the marriage on April 17, 2000," the father said in his complaint. But 15 days into the marriage, Hymad started harassing his wife to bring in more dowry. Two more demands of Rs 3,000 were met while the third one for Rs 10,000 could not be.

On April 13, 2003, the father said he received a call from the house of Hymad that Rayeesa was dead. After the inquest was over, a post mortem was conducted and Hymad was charged with dowry harassment and murder of his wife.

The trial court in Adilabad, after examination of the evidence on record, both oral and documentary, held Hymad responsible for the death of his wife and in 2006, sentenced him to life imprisonment for murder along with Rs 1,000 as fine and imposed another three years imprisonment plus Rs 500 fine for harassing his wife for additional dowry.

The accused has been serving prison term since then. Meanwhile, the relatives of Hymad approached S Surendar Reddy, a lawyer in Hyderabad and through him, got a criminal appeal filed in 2006 in the AP High Court against the judgment of the trial court. Around the same time, Hymad too wrote a letter to the authorities of the high court seeking their help in engaging the services of an advocate for preferring an appeal over the trial court verdict. The high court, through its legal aid wing, allotted lady advocate Shanti Neelam to argue his case.

The criminal appeal by Hymad's relatives went to a two-member division bench comprising Justice A Gopal Reddy and Justice B Seshasayana Reddy while Hymad's own appeal went to another two two-member bench comprising Justice D S R Verma and Justice K C Bhanu. The judgment on the appeal by relatives holding the accused guilty on both counts was delivered on March 7, 2008, while the verdict on Hymad's appeal acquitting him on the charge of murder was given on September 29, 2008.



Click on the image to enlarge.

I presume High Court only reviews any judgement of a lower court when an appeal is filed. If I am correct in my thinking, here same judgement of lower court was reviewed by two different benches in the same High Court. I cannot say anything further lest I am charged with contempt of courts.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

USA and our media

Our media gets extatic when USA makes any favourable comments about us. It happens every time. The latest is Rice’s statement. Following is her statement as reported in the times of India of 4th Dec. 2008.


click to enlarge

Then she made a u turn while in Pakistan. Times of India of 5th Dec., 2008.


click to enlarge.

President Clinton took credit for Kargil 'withdrwal'.

click to enlarge.
Our forces gallantly fought and pushed back the occupiers.
USA has its own interets to serve.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tackling Terrorism

TV channels today were telecasting huge crowds lighting candles in Delhi and Mumbai. Thanks to Rangde Basanti! Most of them spoke about ‘corrupt’ politicians, NSG for the protection of VIPs and for military attack on Pakistan. That was very genuine emotional outburst. What percentage of this candle lighting, English-speaking citizens actually take the trouble of exercising their franchise? I am sure many of them are not among 40 to 50% turn out in voting booths. They are good at criticising but not offering solutions. But what they are saying is true.

It is true that we spend huge amounts of money for ‘ protection of VIPs. Many of them do not really need protection. For many of the ‘VIPs’ it is just a display of their status.

Taking over Pakistan is not difficult for our Forces. But what is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq will also happen in Pakistan. Gorilla attacks will be the order of the day. Then we will have to have budget double the amount of funds for defence of what is being budgeted. If I am not wrong it is over 100000 crores at present. Can we afford it?

M J Akbar in his column writes:“Hidden under grime and neglect, perhaps there is a little Somalia within Mumbai, wait ing to burst out and infect the body politic. This sinewy, seamless nether world is nourished by the “black economy”, and has contempt for au thority since it feeds, twice a day, the grubby hand of a policeman. Organized crime requires both sophisticated management and corrupt law enforcement agencies. The underworld does not live in isolation smuggling is a multinational enterprise. Once it was gold; today it is drugs. Only the naïve are aghast at the thought that ships from Karachi are landing in Mumbai. Each day ships are being loaded in Sindh with street-ready drugs from Afghanistan for the lucrative markets of rising India. Do the stars of Bollywood, the money shifters of Dalal Street, the dolled up celebrities of Mumbai’s many hills - indeed, from the wealth bracket of many of the guests at Taj on Wednesday night - never ask how their hallucinatory puff has reached them? ”

My purpose of quoting MJ is that Government is lacking in its duty. At the same time corruption is not just rampant but triumphant even among the people who criticise corruption in high places. How else so many weapons landed in Taj and trident?

Government has good neethi (policy) but what is lacking is nyaya (justice or implementation). Policy alone is not a solution. Here people play an important role. Least they can do is not to be lured by corruption where security is involved.

NDTV reported on Oct. 27, 2007 under headline, Employment bias mars private sector – Study, “The private sectors' refrain that affirmative action is good enough may not stand now. Fresh studies have proved that there is discrimination in employment.

It was subject of much dispute - many had been saying it, others contesting it. On Friday, a study was released by the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies in collaboration with Princeton University.

The study was conducted against 548 job advertisements with 4808 applicants over 66 weeks, across five metros.

It reveals that in fact a person's caste and religion could be a hindrance in getting a job, despite equal qualification.

Inequality in private sector

The study says that a dalit had 60 per cent less chances of being called for an interview, and a Muslim had 30 per cent less, as against their higher caste peers.”

In private sector there is neither neethi nor nyaya as regards social justice. Social injustice is cause of naxal terrorism.

To conclude we can fight rerrorism with firm hand if we (every citizen) ensure that we are not corrupt, VIP security for status symbol is eliminated, NSG is stationed in all major cities and above all social nyaya is ensured.

References:
1) Employment bias mars private sector – Study (NDTV) adhana Sharma
Saturday, October 27, 2007 (New Delhi)
2) Toothless leaders turn tough nation into soft state30 Nov 2008, 0741 hrs IST, M J Akbar (Times of India)
3) Concept of neethi and Nyaya—from a lecture delivered by Prof. Amratya Sen

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

INDIANOIL-CHENNAI REGIONAL OFFICE

I was in madras from 1982 to 85. During those three years I had three different reporting managers. The first manager was rather cautious in his work, as he was uneasy with some officers, who were close to DGM. The people close to him were in the same grade as I was. DGM was in PR at HO for a long time. He was very close to Vijaya Vahini, film producers in Madras. It was common knowledge that the closeness was because Indian Oil calenders were prited at Chandamama press owned by them. He also tried for a film career for his daughter. She acted in a couple of Tamil films but for lack of talent faded away. But a good father that he was, he did try. In 83 both DGM and the manager changed. We had an apparantly docile and pan chewing DGM and a man, who thought he was the best as our manager. He was considered a terror and a very intelligent man. One thing about Tamilians, they like their bosses to be tough. Toughness is synonimous with efficiency. A few weeks after he took over, one morning when I reached office he asked me to go to Hyderabad by afternoon train. I went home, packed up and reached Madras central. There was no vacancy in AC 2 tier. I went to office from the station and reported to him. He was furious and told me that never before in his life had any one had courage to do what I did and said I could have taken unreserved compartment, which would have pleased him. I very politely told him, “ Could he think of sending me by flight instead of saying I could have gone by unreserved compartment”. He was speechless. May be nobody had dared tell him the way I did. Thereafter we got along well. May be he had no choice. He was separated from his wife and the process of legal separation was on. He had two children and both were under his custody. The court had permitted his wife to see her daughter in school. He requested me to go to school and bring his daughter to office before his wife could reach the school. This was against the law. I consulted DGM HR. I had known him for long and he was my well- wisher. He advised me to tell him with a straight face that I would not do it and I did exactly that. He was very puset and that was the end of our good relations. There are people who cultivate relationships with a motive under the guise of freindship or wellwishers. Then came third manager. He was very fond of sycophancy and love for long words, long sentences and cliches. In Madras, at least in Indian Oil, one who wrote 19th century English was considered great. They admired managers, who used maximum number of punctuations. Probably an intelligent man had to be not understood easily. Any one using short sentences with mono or bi syllabic words was not thought of much. Some times the sentences ran into paragraphs. However messed up the sentences, it was not uncommon to hear their subordinates read their letters in awe. They would even consult each other to know if they understood it correctly. He was very particular to use multisyllabic words. It was a virtue to be pedantic. His favourite columnist was G K Reddy, who contributed regularly to The Hindu. He made conscious efforts to use a new word he came across in his commercial correspondence. He wanted someone who could help his wife driving her down to places of her interest. He gave me several hints but I refused to take. He did not like me. He wanted his man, in my place. He managed my transfer to chengalpet as Sr Sales Officer. There were two channels of promotion. Sales officers promoted on seniority were designated sr sales officers while those promoted on merit were called Assisstant Managers. I was promoted as an Assisstant manager in 82. I protested. I approached the association. That year in 84 most of the promotions went to Palghat Iyers and our DGM was a Palghat Iyer. It was hard to believe it was a coincidence. My transfer order was not cancelled. I walked into DGM’s room and told him, “ I know you will not help me. You will help only Brahmins and that too from Palghat. You could have possibly considered if I were at least a Hindu. You are a sectarian minded person”. I walked out. I was summoned by GM. There were association members present. GM told me, “ I am cancelling your transfer order now but remember I will punish you by transfering you to operations next year.” I said, “ I have worked in operations and I do not consider posting to operations as punishment”. He did not like it.

Karkare

The Expressindia story, “Karkare’s response to a death threat: A ‘smiley’ by Y P Rajesh Posted on Nov 27, 2008 at 1637 hrs IST, is very disturbing.

The concluding part of the story is even more disturbing. I reoroduce that part:
“His last visuals as seen on TV showed him working with his men near the VT station, the target of one of the attacks, although it is perplexing at this point in time why such a senior officer ended up getting exposed to a brazen terrorist attack. Initially, he was shown wearing a shoddy helmet normally seen used by constables during riots. A little later, a policeman lowers a flimsy bulletproof vest over his shoulders, one that was obviously of little protection when those fatal shots were fired at him.
The previous evening, hours after our meeting, TV channels had ‘breaking news’ that he had received a fresh death threat from some unidentified caller, apparently in connection with the Malegaon probe. An Indian Express reporter SMSed him asking him if this was true or if he had anything to say. His reply: just a smiley.”
I think the authorities concerned need to interrogate that policeman, who “lowers a flimsy bulletproof vest over his shoulders, one that was obviously of little protection when those fatal shots were fired at him.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advocate speaks the Truth




Sr Advocate Anoop Chaudhary submitted before the CJI on May 1, 2008, “We do not render any service to the litigant-----it would be harsh to make lawyers pay for alleged deficiency in service under the consumer law”. He was appearing for the petitioner advocate V B Joshi challenging a recent verdict of NCDRC.

The verdict of NCDRC was not concerned with winning or losing the case.The Bench tried to reason, “ if an advocate does not pursue the case of a client properly or does not file the documents on time for which the latter suffers, should not be made liable?”

After all Mr Chaudhary was speaking the truth and nothing but the truth.
I wish the Bench had included matters such as taking adjournment on flimsy grounds.

I am posting this and also scanned report of The Times of India of 2nd Dec.2008, just in case it has missed your attention.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Film Directors

There are many film directors. Some are over rated while some are under rated. In my view Bansali is highly over rated, thanks to media. Media tries its best to over rate or under rate anyone they choose to. In late 50s media gave a verdict that Dilip Kumar was over shdowed by Raj Kumar. Similarly, in mid 80s they gave another verdict that Vinod Khanna had over taken Amitabh. What a joke! Don’t believe me? See the archives of newspapers and Magazines.
Sorry for shifting from directors to actors. In my view Guru Dutt was another over rated director. His films Pyasa and Kaghaz ke phool were appeciated largely because of Sahir and Azmi.
Take Biall Roy and Bansali. They made Devdas based on the same novel. Bimal Roy’s Devdas is realistic apart from excelling in naturalism. Bansali’s lacks in both. Realism is about treatment of a subject, while naturalism is about external factors such as settings, attire, customs and traditions of the period etc.

Realism is not photographic representation of life or just a slice of life. There is something called artistic liberty, but that liberty has to create suspension of disbelief as well. There are two aspects—probable impossibility and impossible probability. It is the director who has to visualise and select probable inpossibility while taking liberty with the subject.
In one scene in Bansali’s Devdas you have Mrs Kher running through a hall. She is shown running for a number of minutes and the hall seems to get lengthier. If one were to combine Diwan e aam and khas of Agra fort the length would look shorter than Bansali’s hall.
Then I saw a film called Black. Amitabh is shown shouting at a dumb, deaf and blind girl in the name of teaching. Mind you, this film was highly acclaimed and had received very good crtical acclaim. How the girl responds to this shouting and then benefit by it and thereby learns to lead a normal life is a matter of mystery to me. This was a case of impossible probability.

Let us take Lagaan. It is an insult to the game of cricket. We must seek the opinion of Sunil Gavaskar to know if a team can be formed the way it was done in Lagaan. The director depended solely on patriotic feelings of the viewers for success.
Another case of impossible probability! If the film were made in a comic genre, it would have been better.

The there was swadesh. The lead actor is a NASA employee. He is shown directing the operations of NASA over telephone. He is very indispensable to NASA. The film should have ended with the collapse of NASA when the lead character returned to India for good.

We do have very good directors in Shyam Benegal, Kunal Kohli and Prakash Jha.

I have chosen only those films, which were critically acclaimed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Actors



Dilip kumar was my favourite actor in my high school and college days. I watched Devdas in 1960. It is amazing to see pain in his eyes and on his face. The scenes of bullock cart ride, train journey and the last scene which ends with his death were superb. It was an excellent combination of Bimal Roy and Dilip Kumar. No other director would have done as well.
Naya Daur, Kohinoor, Ganga Jamuna, Moghal-e Azam, Paigham and Leader, I consider, are best examples of his acting talent.

Later he turned theatrical. He got carried away with his accent and intonation. He started sounding affected.


Amitabh bachan is another great actor. When he came on the scene I was working. When I saw Amar Akbar Anthony, I knew here was a good actor. Between 1975 and 1982 I hardly watched films. I saw Shakti in 1983. I thought he performed beautifully. Some time in 1984 Mr. Rath said that I must see Bemisal. I saw it in Chennai. He was good. In 1987 I saw Deewar. I was impressed. Television happened and I saw a lot of films. I was disappointed. Film after film he was doing the same role. But I thought he did well in Abhiman. When I saw Main Aazad Hun, I was amazed by his voice, way of dialogue delivery. His plus points were really exploited. Then I saw Alaap. His performance was very good. He was able to portray agony on his face and in his eyes. All I can say is that his talent has not been exploited.

Monday, November 17, 2008

INDIANOIL-Siliguri Tenure

That was the year 1980. I reported to Siliguri terminal as operations officer. Mr. G. Mallick was the head. Siliguri had the history of union violence. It was widely known that Mr.Malai Ghosh and Mr. Subir Raha were slapped across the face during some altercations with the union leaders. Unusually they did receive management support and the employees involved were suspended. But that was history when I reported.

I was cautioned the working life was tough and Mr Mallick was a no nonsense man. I always had a reputation of being a rebel (iconoclast in my view). I landed a toughest assignment of MG operations. There was a single gantry for full rake. A rake in MG is lengthwise more than BG rake. Each wagon is almost double the length of BG wagon. With one gantry there were three spurs. That is to say one spur was without gantry. And all full rakes were placed only there. Placement was never perfect. At least an hour was spent in hand shunting.

I can never forget my first working day there. A full rake of loaded wagons was placed in third spur sometime after lunch break. The hose connections were given after verifying the dip measurements, lines were made through and the decanting operation commenced.
Normally with the good pumping capacity a full rake is unloaded in about five hours. Things were in perfect order and after three hours decanting was at normal rate. It was around six in the evening. I was feeling tired being at the site for four continuous hours and decided to have a cup of tea and start working on the release papers.

I returned to gantry after an hour. On checking I found the product levels in the wagons were the same as when I left the gantry an hour ago. I walked the entire length of the spur to see what was happening. I found that the valves of at least three to four wagons were in open condition even though the decantation of those was completed. That meant the entire suction line was with air. I did not say a word to any worker. I just told them to prime the line and close the valves of completed wagons. I could see the pain of realization of guilt in their eyes. The entire decantation was completed around twelve midnight.

Next day they volunteered to confess their guilt. There after I enjoyed working with them.

This was yet another confirmation of my belief that one should never lose faith in the goodness of human beings.




The first installation Manager of Siliguri was Mr. Savur, who retired as GM some time late eighties (I may not be accurate about the date). There are a number of hilarious incidents narrated very fondly by the workers of Siliguri. Of them I recall one here. Those were the days when many of the facilities that we have taken for granted today were non-existent. Working life in terminals was tough. Added to that the managers who migrated from Esso or Burmah Shell or Caltex were always keen to drive in to every one that they were superior. Well, that is not the purpose of this writing.

From a balcony of Installation Manager’s bungalow, which was within the compound wall of installation, one could have a clear view of happenings in the Installation. Mr. Savur used to stand in the balcony, bare-bodied with a folded-up dhoti, sipping his morning coffee. It was not unusual that a wagon would overflow. And it was not unusual to see Mr, Savur, with folded lungi and yagnopaveet on his bare body chasing the culprit all over the installation. Whatever was the feeling of being chased at that time, the workers remembered it very fondly. That probably was a comic relief in an otherwise tough environment. They remembered him very fondly.

If you follow the Manuel on operations you cannot load wagons when both bottom and master valves are inoperative. But scarcity of wagons, immediate product requirement was possibly the reasons for ignoring the instructions. One can know the upper valve is inoperative, but you cannot know the condition of the bottom valve till the flange is removed. Once the flange is removed and the bottom valve is inoperative, product just gushes out of the faucet. When this happened, a worker on the spot just put his head against the faucet flange to arrest the flow till others rushed there. Putting the head against the faucet flange meant a great risk. The flow could even suffocate, apart from the danger of soaking in petroleum.

That was the commitment of the people. Think of their contribution to the growth of this corporation!



Mr.Mallick valued punctuality over anything else. The Terminal timings were 8 am onwards. A little before 8 am he would stand in a small garden close to the main gate.
Every time I saw him there I wished him with all respect. I have always respected authority even if the authority is mediocre. But Mr. Mallick really deserved respect for his many good qualities. I found blue-collar workmen never wished him. They either lowered their gaze and walked away or looked the other way. In one of the tea sessions with workmen, I did spend sometime with the workers when there were no placements, I asked them the reason for their not wishing the TM. There were two very outspoken boys, Niranjan and NandaLal, who told me that whenever they wished him in response he merely looked at his c… and that was the reason they stopped wishing him. Mr. Mallick was a body builder and used to cycle in the terminal premises during early hours. He used to stand straight, legs a bit wide apart and wrists placed on his hipbones. Whenever someone wished him he merely gave a nod. Well, the inference of workmen was not totally misplaced. In one of the informal get-togethers I narrated this to Mr. Mallick. He really laughed and there after he responded by raising his hand.


The compound wall of terminal and quarters was common. From the quarters to the railway station or to any place was lonely and desolate. Areas on either side were low lying full of shrubs, bushes and wild grass. After the twilight, it was an experience to walk on this road. On both sides of the road were glowworms in their full glory presenting the entire area as a replica of the heavens above. The feeling was one of walking over a galaxy.

Siliguri terminal was situated in New Jalpaiguri. Officers and staff stayed in the same residential complex adjoining Terminal. When the sky was clear Kanchanjanga could be seen. It was a beautiful view. Siliguri is about 8 kms form New Jalpaiguri. But the short cut was just about 4 kms. Talking of Kanchanjunga I remember my visit to Darjeeling, which is just 70 kms from Siliguri. Siligiri is in Darjeeling District. At Darjeeling with family I spent a week in our beautifully located Holiday home, which was next to Oberoi hotel. From the window I could see the kanchanjanga in its glory.


One day during the week we started for tiger hills at 4 in the morning. Tiger hill is the place from where one can see Kanchanjanga in all its glory. It was sometime in November and most of the days the sky used to be cloudy or the atmosphere misty. Many visitors returned disappointed, as they could not see because of inclement weather.
We waited breathlessly. As the twilight broke the unimaginable happened. The purple glow of the twilight covered the snow-capped mountain. There it was-- breath-takingly beautiful. I felt the ‘sparsh’of God. I cannot forget the experience. My ‘rongte khade ho gaye’.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

INDIANOIL- SR had super efficient ED

It was in the year 1996. Southern Region had an ED, who was considered excellent managerial material. How else would he become ED at the age of 45 years, in an organisation, which shouted from the roof top that their promotions were absolutely merit based? Only by being just the top material! There were groups in the organisation, infact there have always been of brahmins and non-brahmins. The brahmins, among them the Iyers were in awe of him. There never has been an ED of his stature, they would say. On the other hand, the other group was on the extreme opposite of that view. They called the Regional office building an ‘agraharam’. An agraharam is a locality around a temple whose residents are only brahmins. There were many such places in southern India where people outside the fourfold soceity were apart from being untouchable, were also unseeable. Remember Waikom? This is not the subject of my writing. So I get back to what I began to write about. This gentleman was fair (complexon) but sounded slightly affiminate when he spoke.

His greatest virtue was love for his mother. There is nothing wrong in that. All scriptures advise that. But it was different. It was bordering on mother fixation. He refused a posting with promotion out of Chennai because his mother did not want to move out of Chennnai. In many cases this organisation woud transfer such an officer without promotion, but in this case the conscience of the organisation came in the way. They retained him, only to promote him the following year without sending him out. After all he was indispensable!

As Ed his achievements were remarkable. On the advice of his numerologist his office on the 9th floor would not only keep him away from evil, but also bring him fortune. There were 8 floors in the building. But brilliant as he was he changed them to levels, with first level being ground floor. Lo behold! He was on the 9th level.

His managerial skills were demonstrated in his tour programmes. On the day of his scheduled departure at least 3 flights were booked to a single location with a gap of one or two hours. This was a brilliant example of time management. He was not sure whether he would be free from a meeting or from the files and he did not or could not afford to miss the most important work, which awaited his attention at the place where he was scheduled to go.

On many occasions he avoided overnight stay. He would come back late evening flight and go back again early morning, thus keeping both official and filial commitments at the same time. Many argued he was doing the right thing. Afterall he was saving hotel charges for the organisation. Flight charges yes, but he travelled Indian Airlines, which meant money was with the Government.

He always advocated loyalty to the organisation. But then he quit to join another organisation. Quitting was technically right, but was it ethical. Afterall, ‘jo jeeta wahi Sikandar’!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stock Markets

Today is 25th October 2008 and newspapers carry front page very bold headlines—SOS: Save Our Stocks (Times of India) and Investors lose Rs 3,00,000 cr (Deccan Chronicle).
I have not studied economics as a subject in college. My understanding is mere commonsense.
When a company floats shares, it does at a premium. A share is worth Rs 10/- but is issued at Rs 50/-. But when it comes to paying the dividend the calculation is on intrisic value of the share. Great!
When a buyer of shares later sells them at a much higher rate the company does not get anything out of it. The company remains unaffected. A buyer buys shares at Rs 300/- per share. In a year the share value jumps to Rs 500/-. Thereby he gains if he sells them. If he keeps them and susequently the value drops to Rs 400/- he claims he has lost Rs 100 per share. Pathetic! Why do we call them investors instead of calling them gamblers?

It is agreed that the speculator’s purchasing power reduces when the market crashes. But what percentage of Indians participates in the market? Just one percent of Indians participate in the market.
It is very true that GDP is affected when the speculaters do not make money because stock market speculaters and those with black money consume a very large portion of GDP.

Excerts from PM’s speech on civil services day as reported in Deccan Chronicle of 22-4-06 :
“Markets will increasingly become the arbitrators of resource allocation in many cases. At the same time, it is necessary to realise that markets can at times lead to marginalisation of the poor and the vulnerable. We must not forget that markets serve those who are part of the market system,”
. “While markets can facilitate higher growth, a government must ensure that growth is equitable, inclusive and not unduly harsh on those not equipped to manage change. Ensuring and assuring equitable and sustainable growth is, therefore, an important challenge before the government and its managers,”
The Sensex, at that time ended flat at 9.25 points up to close at 12,030 after touching a high of 12,102 and a low of 11,878.35 points. At one point, it was down 153 points.

M J Akbar in Deccan Chronicle on 3-6-07:
“The latest issue of India Today informs me that in just one year, 2006-2007, Dr Singh’s government permitted the shareholders of 1,100 companies to pocket Rs 40,000 crores in dividends. Did they pay any tax on Rs 40,000 crores? Not a rupee. Take out a calculator and do the math.”

Mani Shankar Aiyar Posted online: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 0000 hrs:
“So when you talk of a nine point two per cent growth rate, it becomes a statistical abstraction: 0.2 per cent of our people are growing at 9.92 per cent per annum. But there is a very large number, I don’t know how many, whose growth rate is perhaps down to 0.2 per cent. But certainly, the number of those who are at the lower end of the growth sector is very much larger than those who are at the higher end.” Mani Shankar Aiyar


Kushwant Singh in Deccan Chronicle of 18.11.07.:

“The day India’s Sensex crossed the 20,000 mark and Mukesh Ambani was declared the richest man in the world, 20,000 men and women from Central India arrived on foot from Gwalior to Delhi to protest they had not enough to eat one square meal a day. It was as ironical an coincidence as could be, what in American slang is known as a double whammy — two slaps on the face. India which is counted among the poorest of the poor nations of the world should also produce the richest of the rich.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

INDIANOIL-MY FIRST YEAR

I reached Madras, now Chennai, early morning of 8th February 1970. Next day I had to join IOC as Sales Officer (Under Training). This was my first visit to Chennai. After having lived in Bombay, now Mumbai, Chennai seemed a quiet place.

I just had Rs.150 and 20 days ahead for getting paid by the organization, I was yet to join. Bombay had hardened me, as I had to lead a very frugal life. It was a struggle for me all throughout my 5 years in Bombay.

I had very few things that I possessed—three trousers, four shirts, a pair of shoes and two ties—in a steel trunk. Of the 150/ that I had, I paid Rs.50/- for a room in a small lodge as advance for a month.

Twenty of us joined on 9th Feb.1970. We reported to Sri T.B.Jayaraman, assistant manager training. He was a very talkative person, but not a good listener. The common perception is that a training manager should be a talker. He was true to this perception. About 6 or seven of the trainees were staying in a small hotel in flower bazaar off poonamalli high road. I went along with them, saw the place, liked it and decided to shift. Rental was Rs.100 for a month. The place was not far from the TVS, and our office was right opposite TVS. Minimum fare of taxi was 60 paise and for our distance it was Re.1.50 or thereabout. Three of us used to share.

Some among the group used to laugh at my steel trunk. They looked and behaved they were from financially very well to do families. Some of them were. There were three discharged emergency commissioned officers. I told them they would have laughed at gandhiji too. That put them in their place. Those were the days gandhiji was still “alive”.
Do we need a cultural revolution to bring back Gandhiji? “Even if Gautham Budha knocks on your door, are you going to receive him or just make a laughing stock of him?”
We fail to recognize Buddha many a time in our lives. We expect him to be exactly like the statues of him we see.
Coming from Bombay, chennai looked a better-organized city. It was more like an enlarged town. Life was at a much slower pace. A meal in Dasaprakash was Rs.3/-. Buhari’s was a popular non-veg, restaurant. Half tandoori chicken with roti cost just Rs.5/. We went there regularly. The biggest shopping center was Ratan bazaar, though there were cluster of shops around Anna statue, Gemini circle and Mylapur. There was no flyover at Gemini circle. There was hardly anything beyond Vijay Vahini.

Our training included retail, consumer sales and product knowledge. B.A.Rao, V.T.Ramdas were considered retail experts and they were our faculty. Dua was consumer expert and arunachalam and Gopalan were tech. service experts, they were ex merchant navy personnel. For retail the bible was manual of Esso. We were taught retail factors. Months later we got to see the manual through a different source. It was revealing how the faculty never disclosed their sources of knowledge.

We were sent to different Distrct Offices (now Divisional Offices) in batches. Rajinder Kapoor and I were sent to Bangalore for field training in Retail. Kapoor is no more. He died in a road accident sometime in early nineties. He was a cousin of film actor Jitendra. We reported to Mr Urs, who was notorious for his ill treatment of officers. But it was his conviction that that was the way to deliver goods. Raoof and Narayan Rao were field officers in the city. One was handling retail development and the other existing retail network. Field training was for a month. Mr. Urs was hard of hearing and used to doze off often, even in meetings. He rebuked someone, no matter whom, the moment he woke up. A strategy? I found only officer who got away being frank was K.V.George. Bangalore was called a garden city. It deserved it! Even those days concepts were accepted, just as today, with IOC’s interpretation. Nursery became a part of allied selling. The effect was such that you could not recognize an RO from a distance. Nrupatunga service station was a glaring example. In a review meet George said in his typical mallu accent “ Sir, a barber’s shop should like a barber’s shop”. Raoof was always a clever one. When he knew it was his turn next, he would seriously keep looking at his watch with worry on his face. After a few minutes of his drama, he would say, “ Sir, I have an appointment with home minister at 4 and if I don’t start now I wont make it”. He used to succeed. May be Urs knew the excuse or may be he took him seriously.

We just followed the field officers, made notes and sent reports to Chennai every week.
When we got back to Region there was a review of what we learnt in the field. Again after a month’s classroom sessions we were sent to Vizag terminal and District Office for a week each and from there to Vijayawada depot for another week. We were three of us in this group—Mehra, Prabhu and me. Tejpal Singh, discharged emergency commissioned officer was ADM. One day he summoned all three of us to his cabin. Way to the washroom was through his cabin. It was a bunglow converted into office and obviously this was a bedroom with an attached bath. We noticed he was not happy with the arrangement what with people coming in frequently for a pee. He asked us what was the expansion of FJ and OA. Before hand he told us we should raise our hand if we knew the answer and then he would decide who should reply. Accordingly we raised our hands.
He picked me. I told him they stood for Financial Justification and Operating Analysis. Fine he said. Then he asked Prabhu what was the third column in OA. We all looked at each other we did not think it was necessary to commit to memory the entire format. He took offence and told us we were not fit to be field officers. He said in the Army such details were required and they were absolutely necessary. After a long lecture on discipline, he ordered us to commit every line to memory. On the final day of the review in Ch. M. Rao’s cabin he wanted to know whether we did what he wanted. Mr. Rao there after started reviewing Tejpal and throughout he was at the receiving end. That spared us the review.

Those days the Depot was in Vijayawada town. I was there for a week. Depot Manager was Mr. Natarajan and with him reporting to him was, I think, Subramaniam, who was Operations Officer. I was on the TLF bay all through the week.

Mr. Savoor, BOM, wanted to review all of us because he, perhaps wanted to know how much we had grasped about Operations. We got an impression that everyone in his department was scared of him. Perhaps it did not occur to him that he had shut all the windows of suggestions, advice and information. Next to him in line of authority was Mr. Hiremath, who seemed uneasy in the presence of BOM. Review was over and all of us came out happy. Next day Mr. Jayaraman summoned me and handed over a letter in a sealed envelope. It was extending my training period for a few more months because Mr. Savur was not happy with my review. Till I opened and read the letter, Mr. Jayaraman did not know what the letter contained. I thought it was a mere coincidence that the only other recipient of a similar letter was Riyasat Ali Mirza. But later experiences with savur proved my thinking wrong. I will talk about my later experiences a little later. Mr. Jayaraman fought for us and the letter was withdrawn.

There were a lot of groups in IOC—ex- Shell, Esso and Caltex officers never saw eye to eye. Then there were officers who came from Railways and AG’s office. Then there were Iyers and Non-Iyers among the non-Iyers there were several groups. Majority of officers and staff were Iyers. The non-Iyers referred to IOC as Iyer Oil Corporation. Groupism was so much that even among Iyers, of Madras origin did not think much of Palghat and Trichur Iyers. I believe it is so even to this day.

There was a big event of inauguration of lube blending plant. All the trainees were there, wearing badges and waiting near the entrance. Our chairman, managing director and general manager along with branch manager were also waiting for chief minister and central minister of petroleum and natural gas to arrive. Those days we had only one chairman as we have now, but he was a kind of titular head. Real power was vested with managing director. After him in the line of hierarchy, we had just one general manager assisted by a single deputy general manager. The branch managers who were in “E” grade performed the functions of today’s executive directors. The lube plant was not under the branch manager. While branch manager was in ‘E’ grade, plant manager was in ‘F’. Karunanidhi, CM, Madras arrived and everyone was busy receiving him.

We saw a white dhoti and kurta clad gentleman quietly walking in from the other gate. We recognized him. He was Triguna sen, minister of petroleum. Our chairman, and managing director rushed to receive him. The security at the main gate did not recognize him and he got down from his car and entered through the other gate. Those were the days. The ministers did not need security. The ministers did not throw tantrums. At least not this one!

Jayaraman was promoted and transferred to Madurai as District Manager. So we had a new assistant manager training, Mr. A.N. Sinha. Sinha was friendly apart from being a good trainer. He carried himself well. His communication skills were very good.

My next field training was in Kerala. My destination was Kottayam. I went via Trivandrum. I wanted to see the famous Kovalam beach. It was raining in Trivandrum. I took a taxi and went to Kovalam. It was raining continuously. I found it to be very beautiful place what with clear water and wet rocks and rain-washed cocoanut trees. It was so absorbing I forgot I was drenched. Trivandrum was a beautiful sleepy town. Green and beautiful!

For one month I was in Kottayam, reporting to Venkatraman, who was field officer. I used to be with him wherever he went and made notes for my weekly reporting to Madras. It was very difficult passing time from 5 pm onwards. I was all-alone without knowing the language of the place.

One Saturday evening I started for Thekadi, a hill station and a wild life sanctuary. My plan was to stay in Aranya Niwas, a government guesthouse situated inside the sanctuary. When I reached the place it was dark and no room was vacant in the guesthouse. The village beside the sanctuary was a kilometer away, it was dark and the path was hardly visible. I felt scared. There was no way except to walk the distance and find a place to sleep. I did find a place, very shabby and uncomfortable. I was tired. I slept. I woke up at 4 in the morning, washed and went to Aranya niwas to take the launch for a tour of Periyar Lake. It was a beautiful lake surrounded by thick, green forest. The animals normally come to the shore to quench their thirst. In my one-hour ride I could see just a couple of boars. If you are lucky you see hoards of elephants. I was happy with just a couple of boars. I was told; a day prior to the visit of VIPs, salt is spread in the forest. The elephants eat the salt and come to the shores to quench their thirst. Unfortunately, the day I went there were no VIPs. But I enjoyed being in the midst of Periyar Lake.

I visited almost all places where our retail outlets and SKO agencies were situated. Traveling in Kerala was very enjoyable. Green paddy fields, cocoanut trees, water all around and girls in their ‘randu mundu’! I visited Chenganacherry and Tellichery, in one of these places a great social reformer from Nair community was born. Kerala was, once, extreme in caste system, they practiced not just un-touchability but also un-seeability. Remember Vaikom movement? There was another custom, which was very peculiar to Kerala. Namboodaris, the high caste Brahmins permitted only their first son to marry. May be there was an economic angle to this. They did not want family property to be fragmented. So far so good! But the custom, which came to be known as ‘sambandham’ followed. In this custom the non-married sons were permitted to have ‘relation ship’ with Nair girls and beget children. The children so born did not get the father’s name. They were given maternal uncle’s family title. The Namboodari men visited the girl’s house only during the nights. They did not eat food prepared by nair family. This led to another custom. Madras Iyers were employed as cooks for namboodari men. These Iyers have now settled in Palghat and Trichur districts. Today most of them run coffee shops and ‘messes’. After the abolition of the sambandham system, these people were disliked. They were a community driven to the wall, for no fault of theirs. They merely went there for economic purposes. Like the Jews they turned out to be highly intelligent community. There was a time when most of them found place in Indian Administrative and Foreign services.

All Cherians and Kurians, Christians from Kerala claim their ancestry to namboodaris. It is possible that many of non-married sons of namboodaris converted to Christianity. After all it is human instinct to raise a family.

It is mind boggling that Christianity, Islam, Judaism and later communism, all foreign, were not just tolerated but accepted, while their own people, lower caste were treated so badly. A Christian or a Jew or a Muslim could run a teashop but not an un-touchable. On the one hand very liberal and catholic, on the other extremely intolerant! Of course these are now things of the past. But this intolerance surfaces once in a while, mostly in rural areas.in urban ares it is subtle and sophisticated. The once runner up are today exploiters.

The picture below was taken in Hotel Geetha on2.6.1970. It was a farewel party for Mr Jayaraman.



click to enlarge.

INDIANOIL- MY LAST 5 YEARS

APSO was just formed. Body language of DGM suggested I was not welcome. Later I came to know he wanted one of his clan in my place. I continued to receive non-person treatment. He was far from competent to set up a new office. I had met him several times at Chennai before this posting. He visited Lube Plant for meetings on blending schedules. All the meetings were held in my cabin. There I found him very meticulously tabulating the Lube indents of various locations, which his assistants had to do as a feedback for the meetings.

He enjoyed the position of Divisional head so much that he was almost not willing to be a state head. Personally I thought he should have remained in Gr.B. Educational qualification alone does not make a man suitable for a higher position. Anyway he was enjoying the attention that went with the post.

As the APSO was just formed there was considerable work in my department. All the files from region were brought which had to be sorted out. Transport contracts were finalized by region but work orders were to be issued by us. EMD refunds were to be effected, SD of previous contracts were to be effected, as the existing barge contract period was coming to an end, fresh contract had to be initiated in addition to the day to day monitoring of working of depots and terminal and replies to various queries from operations managers of DOs, monitoring stock loss. In addition preparing presentation material for frequent review meets. My DH and I were the only officers with a grade six officer for clerical work. My DH had little experience of operations and was on tour 2 to 3 days a week. When in town, if the state head was on tour he would just leave the office whenever he pleased.

I continued to receive non-person treatment. There were three departmental heads, who were highly sectarian and got along with one another greatly. Of the three, two availed VR and the third resigned. Whenever night duty was required to be done in connection with price change the trio suggested my name, which was readily agreed to by DGM, knowing fully well my health condition. I had suffered MI and was on medication.

DGM was fond of safari suits. He always wore un-ironed clothes and his jacket lengthwise just touched his waist where he wore his trousers. There was a woman officer who called it a blouse.

There were frequent review meets—by regional heads almost once in two months and by director marketing. All the meetings were held in 5 star hotels. And our DGM insisted all officers attend. Entire day of the review meet all officers remained in hotel.
We all enjoyed delicious lunch and teatime snacks. No one normally knew when the reviewing dignitary would arrive. Sometimes it used to be late in the afternoon. Reviews were more of leg pulling nature. All officers were witness to discomfiture of our state head. Our DGM invited leg pulling. On one occasion when regional head was analyzing the presentation of state sales head, he repeatedly questioned the officer to clarify certain points and to this a very irritated dignitary reprimanded him saying such questioning should have been done as a part of his duty, and that he was showing his lack of knowledge of what was going on in his state which he was heading.

On another occasion when he failed to give satisfactory explanation to Director marketing on certain queries, director marketing asked him to start packing for transfer, as he was unfit to be a state head.

He was unceremoniously removed and in his place AKS was installed. He was similarly, unceremoniously shifted from Patna because of his ill treatment of officers. He had spent a few years in the army serving as an emergency commissioned officer. Even though he was discharge from the army years ago, he continued to behave as an army man. He never tolerated any argument let alone dissent.

The trio I mentioned above again managed to put me on night duty for monitoring price revision. I had to be in the office from 1100 am on a Saturday till 8 am next day. Of the 21 hrs 18 hrs were in waiting for price revision messages to come from region. I fell sick and had to be on leave next couple of days. Within less than a month of this experience, one evening my dept head told me I had to stay that night for another revision. I told him my health did not permit to stay back particularly after having worked the whole day in the office. When he insisted I told him even if it meat a charge sheet I would not continue. By then AKS had left office. He managed to keep someone else that night and told me I could go home. Because there was some error in monitoring AKS summoned my head to his cabin. He quoted me verbatim. I was summoned. He repeated what was reported to him by PVR. I accepted what I had said. I told him I was fit to work during the office hrs but not fit to continue working beyond till early hrs. He told me to give in writing. I refused. He issued a letter and I gave a fitting reply. For months he refused to talk to me. When such things happen I feel I am not the loser. It is the organization, which is deprived of a thinking individual’s contribution.

There was a big hype on millennium change over, several posters were displayed and a number of communications were sent to all locations requiring individual attention of the location in charge and also his presence in the work place at midnight to report smooth change over. Everything was done as seriously as Mr. Kalam would do before launching of a satellite. AKS reached office before midnight to personally monitor and talk to each location head. Mr. Rmanamurthy, who was Sr.DM at cuddapah, saw through the change over at midnight and went home and AKS called Cuddapah a little after he left. AKS was convinced Mr. Murthy did not attend office. His ego was hurt. No explanation could satisfy him. On the request of Murthy, who I knew to be a conscientious officer, I went to AKS to apprise him of what had happened. I was told categorically that he was not prepared to except any explanation. Whatever good opinion he had of Murthy was washed out as he found him to be irresponsible.

AKS was very meticulous about organizing any functions. It was republic day and after unfurling of the national tri-colour refreshments were arranged. Snacks were laid out, tea and coffee was ready for serving. After the sancks some one asked for water, which was not there. That was the only item escaped the attention of Somshekhara, who was AM(Admn.). AKS reprimanded him right there and not satisfied with that asked him to see him in his cabin. Next day I heard Mr. Somshekhara was missing. He did not go to his house and his family alerted he did not reach home even after midnight. Search parties were sent and after a long search he was found sitting alone near a temple on the banks of Husain sagar. Mr. Sen was always unreasonable if he did not have his way. Mr. Somshekhar took leave for the next two months and thereafter availed VR.

A review was scheduled at Chennai of operations heads of states on 10.03.2000. PVR asked MTS and me to prepare presentation for the review. We prepared the material and got it transformed into power point and submitted the printouts. He made certain corrections and asked Chandrashekhar to incorporate the changes that he had made into the power point presentation. It was late in the evening. He took the floppy and got the briefing on all those points in the presentation.

Even before he came back I got the feed back from my friends in Chennai that ED, Mr.Basu was highly critical of his lack of knowledge and expressed his displeasure. The HO formats for presentation did not include locations with stock gains. However PVR was asked to explain the erosion of gains in Vizag during the year vis-à-vis previous year. Had he known he would have explained! PVR returned and told us that the presentation was not up to the mark and that ED was not happy. He also said ED wanted to know who was assisting him in his work. When he mentioned my name ED told him that he had worked with me and rated me very high. That evening AKS received call from GM (MO) to say that PVR had miserably failed in his presentation. PVR was summoned. He returned after an hour to tell MTS and me that AKS wanted to see us. Knowing PVR well I guessed what was to come. In the evening after office hrs PVR led us to AKS’s cabin. Even before we sat down he started hurling accusations against MTS and me that we had let State office down. He said PVR trusted us and took the presentation material without going through it. MTS kept mum because he was obliged to AKS for having him transferred to Hyderabad. I protested and wanted to explain to him the truth. He was furious and shivering with rage. I told him that he has to hear my side of the story before coming to any conclusion. He refused to hear what I had to say because he had already delivered judgment. Whenever there was dissent between two officers, he always believed the senior of the two. I told him very firmly that I had the right to be heard. I also told him that power point gives only the basis on which the presenting officer has to elaborate and convince and might be PVR failed there. I also told him that without involvement and basic knowledge presenting officer couldn’t successfully present. At this both PVR and AKS got wild and asked me to go. Before going out I told AKS that shouting and refusing to listen to arguments did not suit the chair he was occupying. I also told him that the next day was conference of depot managers and that I would make the same presentation and convince him on all the points. To make myself heard I did speak the above sentences loudly and went out of his cabin. What surprised me was that MTS who talks so much otherwise did not speak a word.

Next day I made the presentation and also explained the erosion of gain in Vizag during the year 99-2000. In 98-99 terminal received most of the parcels by tankers whereas in 99-2000 it was through the pipeline from the next door HPCL. In fact HO earlier were asking for investigation for the enormous gains in 98-99. AKS looked pleased and gave me an impression that he realized his judgment on the previous day was wrong.
Next day I was in my car to start for the office, when AKS came out of the lift and while going to his car saw me. I refused to look at him. He came up to my car and tapped the window glass. When I lowered the glass he smiled and said” are you still angry”.

PVR could not take this. When I reached office, Madhavi handed me a letter from PVR asking for my explanation and giving show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against me. Obviously when AKS refused to oblige him he wrote this letter in consultation with his close friend Santan Krishnan, who was ops head in region. When my reply did not reach him on the cut off date, he gave a reminder. I replied point by point and also attacked him on his weaknesses. The curtain was drawn.

To dispel the doubts of the skeptics, I have with me copies of presentation slides with corrections in PVR's hand writing and letters exchanged between PVR, and me, which can be checked.

When our office was in Gurumurthy lane, servo towers was just two km away, so I used to go home for lunch everyday. This became a big talking point. Some raised their eyebrows and said “he goes home for lunch in his car, his is the most expensive lunch” while some others talked about my not returning within half an hour and yet going home on time at the end of the day. Those who talked this way were latecomers to office, who never reached before 10 am. They went out for lunch to nearby eateries and took nearly an hr to come back. They were the people who mattered and their verdict prevailed. One day PVR told me that it was DGM’s instruction that I should not go home for lunch but I could go out to any eatery nearby if I did not wish to carry my food. There after I started bringing my lunch. After my daughter went to States, my wife was not keeping well—she was on sedatives. My going home for lunch was to just to keep her happy. PVR never ever said any time any thing on his own behalf even if it were his own. He was like the gantry supervisor who would tell the workers, “ do this because the terminal manager wants it, other wise I am with you”.

I have always been against sitting late in the office. After the day’s work efficiency declines and one tends to make mistakes. People thought my argument was just to avoid sitting late. Apart from decline of efficiency one has many roles to play in life. Now that Ramamurthy of Infosis has written on this subject some thinking is given to the subject. I consider myself far ahead of my time. Many times the ideas that I give are rejected and even laughed at. But the same ideas get implemented after 5 to 6 years. For instance when the State Offices were formed I suggested that the depots should report to SOM instead of to DOs. I was rather ridiculed for such a suggestion. The then DGM and SOM said reporting of Depots to DMs was in the best interest of sales. This was implemented after 4 years. I am sure even now the best interests are served.

AKS was a different man away from work field. He was an extrovert and out-going. Picnics organized during his period remain memorable. He was meticulous in arrangements. He was lively and mixed with everyone.

Servo towers was transformed—with gardening, facilities for children. Every occasion was celebrated in style—deepawali, dassera, republic and independent days. There was life in servo towers in his days.

He had a weakness for shaking hands with particularly women officers and members of staff. With some he held on to the hand. Age was on his side.

He was an excellent host. Any party with him was lively. He enjoyed cracking jokes and listening to others’ as well.

I was shifted to LPG. SSDG succeeded AKS. And BVK joined as LPG head. This turned out to be the best period of my tenure in APSO. In fact I rate it as one of the best periods in my career and the best periods can be counted on the fingers of a single hand.

Mr. Dasgupta was efficient, hardworking and dedicated. He was polite but impersonal. For him it was work and nothing beyond. I could not, however much I tried, understand why he resigned. He did get his promotions on time. The reason he gave in his farewell speech was that he did not find personal time as the job demanded all his time. As a state head he did not have to visit each and every distributor and dealer. He toured even on Saturdays.

With his departure the grace and dignity that he brought to the chair diminished. He endeared himself to almost everyone.

With the change of state head, style of functioning changed.

SMC meetings, which I happened to attend in the absence of BVK, I found nothing much was discussed. Merely dates were changed for action points and a couple of new points added.

I attended my last SMC meeting on 28.10.2002 at 1330 hrs. Without any discussion GM announced that the SMC was over and the minutes of SMC held on 8.10.2002 would be the minutes of this SMC. Someone suggested at least few changes in target dates to make it more authentic.

Time is a major input on par with raw materials, human resource and finance. Efficiency is capability translated into action within time frame. Efficiency cannot be measured independent of time. We in Indian Oil have brilliant, well-informed, highly qualified and very capable human resource. But time has always been a casualty. This is noticeable in every meeting and SMC is no exception. You will appreciate what I am saying if you go through the minutes of SMC meetings.

CSM made a presentation on state performance on retail. In one of the slides he projected income for IOC from other sources. In this category were rentals from ATMs of ICICI bank, which have counters in many of our ROs. The income shown was between Rs.6000/- and 10000/-, Rs.10000/- was for ATM at Begampet. My question in the meeting was--whom this ATM benefits? I pointed out that it was only to the advantage of the bank. If the bank has to open an ATM in Begampet, they cannot hope to get any premises of such place utility at Rs.10000/-. Rental value at important places for commercial purposes is given in The Times of India every week. This scheme does not fit the concept of allied selling because it is observed that those who use ATM do not fill gas. A survey done by any professional body will reveal that. A lot of people walk in to the ATM. Others come on vehicles and park them near the ATM and use the facility without taking MS. Apart from the low rental; there is congestion as well. The entire scheme is one sided and definitely not in the interest of IOC. GM was apparently unhappy with the point that I made and told me very curtly " bangi let us not debate on this". I got the impression that there is no commercial consideration in our decisions. Would any businessman ever consider such a proposal?

The concept of vigilance in management is being vigilant be it the management of finance, raw material, human resource, machinery and most important time. If this concept is accepted, vigilance is one important component of a manager. A manager without this component is no manager. If function of a manager were compared to human anatomy, which organ would you think would be vigilance? I leave this question unanswered.

Managers, who strictly observe vigilance in the commonly understood sense of the word, tend to violate the same, which the non-discerning eye does not notice. To give a commonplace example, touring. It is commonplace to see managers touring where touring is not really needed. We have examples of managers visiting each and every distributor, dealer all over the state, which is primarily a function of a field officer. To top it they complain they have no time for their family. This is where the vigilant time management is lacking. No one can manage time; one has to manage oneself within the time frame. Vigilance in time management (misnomer) requires one to audit one's time spent. Making a time chart can do this exercise. One has to keep an account of time spent against the time scheduled. This done for a week or so will give an insight into one's time management. The next step is to budget one's time. Please remember time is as important as finance. We all have seen how a schedule is observed more in breach. Call to mind any programme that you attended. There is always an agenda, earmarking time. To begin with the programme does not begin on time. Every one of us knows all rest. I go back in time to my college days. Sociology was one of my subjects of study and conflict of roles was an important topic. That was the time when a film by name Anuradha, with Balraj Sahni and Leela Naidu in the cast was released. This film dealt with the same subject of conflict of roles. A Doctor engrossed in his medical practice totally forgets his role as a husband. Of course as it happens in films the Doctor realizes his mismanagement of time which resulted in his wife's frustrations. We have several roles to play. A successful man is one who budgets his time for each role and keeps auditing it. Think of a man who rises to the top of the ladder of one role and is on the lowest rung in rest of the roles. That is lop-sided.

We have today quite a few products of management schools. Good. We need them. But all that they are used for is statistics. Statistics is a base for any decision-making. It is not an end in itself. So much of statistical analysis is churned out. Various permutations and combinations are used. Looked at from all available angles. It remains a monument. The products of management schools should be used for achievements and not just for super power point presentations before dignitaries whose visits are quite common. Path is important but the function of the path is to lead to destination.

We Indians are very receptive to new ideas. We accept all modern management principles as long as we are in classrooms. Away from classrooms, in real work situations we do exactly opposite of what we appreciate in classrooms. If at least 10% of what is so laboriously learnt in management schools is put to practice it will make a difference.

In order to accept and practice modern concepts unlearning is the first step. And unlearning has to be at the top as well as the bottom levels of management hierarchy. Faster the top unlearns lesser is the need for lower levels to unlearn.

Mr Vasanth Kumar accepted me as a friend. He trusted me and I did not disappoint him. It was an experience to see him write the CRs. He was absolutely unbiased. I enjoyed working with him. I will always remember my association with Venkat Rao, Janakinath, Shankar Rao. They enlivened the atmosphere whenever we got together over a drink.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Amitabh

Amitabh Bachchan is an ardent fan of Bal Thakrey. Remember the statement of Jaya after Raj attacked (verbally) her husband?

For Raj to attack Amitabh is, perhaps, politically correct.

Balasaheb's paper also endorsed Raj's views. Later statement by Balasaheb about Amitabh being a national figure etc. was an after thought. He did not reprimand his editor for writing against Amitabh.

There is no comparison between Rajanikanth and Amitabh. I am not referring to acting prowess. Rajani acts in Tamil films and makes money from Tamil audience. Amitabh does not work in Marathi films. Amitabh works in films made in rashtra bhasha.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

women and quota in Parliament

Women's quota bill is likely to be introduced in parliament. Like men all women are not socially under previledged. Supposing the bill gets passed, who do you think will be nominated by the political parties. I am certain wives, daughters or daughters-in-law of the MPs and MLAs who are no more will find place. Women without godfathers will not find place.

At present nominations are largely based on caste. If we talk of AndhraPradesh, there are three major and influential communities within Shudra caste and all the political parties nominate members of only those communities. Same selection procedure will be folllowed by all political parties for nomination of women candidates. What happens to women who are from sub castes numerically weak?

When it comes to reservation for socially under previledged boys and girls in colleges, there is talk of merit ( under the present system merit is more a myth than reality, those who can spend money send their wards to expensive tutorial classes, where answers to probable questions are memorised.). With regard to quota in parliament for women, only wives,sisters or close relatives of rich and influential will get preference.For instance wife of Pramod Mahajan will be considered.
There should be quota for women from the socially under previledged sections of society.

concern for health

Dr Ramdoss has a nack of staying in news. First it was Dr Venugopal. Then he started a campaign against smoking. The latest is alchohol. I am very glad that there is someone who is so very concerned about the heath of our countrymen.

The best he can do is to convince the cabinet he is a member of and close down all the cigarette manufacturing units and breweries. 'na rahe ga baans, na bajegi bansuri'. He can also similarly make all tobacco cultivation illegal.

If tobacco and alchohol are bad for us, they are bad for people world over. But he cannot decide what people in other countrie do. He can prevail upon commerce minister and the PM to stop all exports of tobacco and alchohol.

But unfortunately he is not aware of economics. Ramdossji will do well to discuss with Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh.

I am sure he knows the repercissions. All this seems to be for women voters in his constituency.

He reminds me of Rajnarayan.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nissim

Nissim Ezekiel is (He lives in his works) a renowned Indo-Anglican poet. He taught Modern English Verse when I was a student in Bombay University way back in 1965. All verse is not poetry, just as all poetry need not be verse. There are writers like James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and many, who in their prose gave poetry.
Here is a poem by Nissim in Indian English:

I am standing for peace and non-violence.
Why world is fighting, fighting
Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding.
Ancient Indian wisdom is 100 per cent correct.
But modern generation is neglecting—
Too much going for fashion and foreign thing.
Other day I am reading in newspaper
(everyday I am reading Times of India
to improve my English language)
How one goonda fellow
Threw stone at Indirabein.
Must be student unrest fellow, I am thinking.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, I am saying
(to myself)
Lend me the ears,
Everything is coming—
Regeneration, Remuneration, Contraception.
Be patiently brothers and sisters.
You want one glass lassi?
Very good for digestion.
With little salt lovely drink,
Better than wine;
Not that I am ever tasting the wine.
I am the total teatotaller, completely total.
But I say
Wine is for the drunkards only.
What you think of prospects of world peace?
Pakistan behaving like this,
China behaving like that,
It is making me very sad, I am telling you.
Really most harassing me.
All men are brothers, no?
In India also
Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Hindiwallahs
All brothers
Though some are having funny habits.
Still you tolerate me,
I tolerate you,
One day Ramarajya is surely coming.
You are going?
But you will visit again
Anytime, any day,
I am not believing in ceremony.
Always I am enjoying your company.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

POOR INSULTED

I do not like the concept of free meal. It is nothing but giving alms. And, perhaps, it has a placebo effect for the highest executive body of this country. Unfortunately all religions encourage poor feeding as it is referred to. During my morning walks, I find women from wealthy families taking out packets of food items and distributing to the poor, who have just woken up from their footpath bed. Those who take the packets have need for it. May be they slept empy stomach or just lying down without sleep because of pangs of hunger. But for those giving away the packets it was placebo effect. It is akin to watching a tragic film and saying to self, ‘ thank god this did not happen to me’.
By distributing free meals to poor students Governmment is doing exactly the same thing. Do you think the parents of children receiving free mid-day meal feel happy? On the contrary, they are sad about their inability to provide food to their children.
Instead of giving alms the Government should work for economically empowering the poor. According to sensus there is no unemployment in our country. The problem is one of wages. If a worker gets wages that can enable him to provide for food, shelter, clothing, education upto high school level and medical care for three members, he will not sacrifice his self-respect to opt for free meals.
There are many schemes for upliftment of the poor. But the benefits hardly reach the poor. Incharge officials of the scheme get richer. It is not enough to just allocate funds. Government should have a mechanism to see that the justice is done. Instead of giving free meals wages should be increased. Democracy is not for just 10% of the population. A handful of people from India coming in the bracket of ‘world’s richest’ is not an achievement, it is infact a matter of concern. When there is hunger, mal nourishment, planning for going to moon is akin to a starving family wanting to buy a colour television.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Merit?

Through out the history of mankind, the previledged sections of society have resisted any social change. There is fear of losing the exclusivity of previledges. That is why the upper caste is resisting reservations for OBCs. They forget two things.
1) When it comes to primary education they send their children to private and very costly schools. In the social circles they boast that their children are in very costly schools. But the same people want Government aided institutions for higher education, where the educationnal expenditure is subsidised by the Government. UGC grants 1000 crores annually to these institutions of higher learning.
2) They talk of merit and quality. What is it? Memorising answeres to likely questions in a very expensive tutorial institute? That is merit.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hero

Mahatma Gandhi will always be remembered for his fight against untouchability. He was not against caste system. Because of him untouchabiility was officially banned. But even today untouchability does exist. Do you come across any tea stall in any village in India operated by a scheduled caste person?

Ambedkar will always be remembered for his contribution in securing reservations for SCs and STs.

Kanshi Ram will always be remembered for empowering SCs and STs. He made the people outside the fourfold society aware of their political rights. Creating awareness is a great achievement. In my view he is the greatest of the three.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

why?

I saw a programme on one of the TV channels that NIIT has established offices in China. As the anchor was saying apart from learning Chinese the staff are also learning Chinese manners. She was shown seated at a dining table and pouring water from a jug into the glass of a person sitting next to her and saying,” in China you have to serve others before you serve yourself”. This was surprising. This is a common ettiquette we were taught when young. The anchor or the scriptwriter is from a generation where they live in very small families and had not had the occasion for informal education. Subjects like Civics, moral science and ‘Deeniyat are missing from school syllabus. Those were the days when elders taught table manners (most of us sat on floor to eat but I am using the word table manners because using ‘floor’ manners does not sound good) to children. Children were taught-not to serve yourself first, do not search for a good piece from a curry etc. Today it is missing.

But, parents do teach children to be competetive even if it amounted to usurping someone else’s right. You have to be one up. And all this in a society, which brands itself ‘spiritual’! Talking of spiriyualism I am reminded of Shri Ravi shankar’s interactions with his desciples. I am quoting from ‘A twist of faith’ by Edward Luce.

Someone asked how she could truly know she was a good person. “You don’t need to be sweetie sweetie, goodie goodie all the time,” said guruji. The audience broke into delighted laughter. Puzzled, I looked around to see hundreds of shining eyes and ecstatic expressions. The next question which came by email and was read out by one of the his followers ended with: “I love you so much guruji.” Someone asked about whether it was always wrong to pay bribes. “You shouldn’t be too idealistic all the time,” he said. “Sometimes you have to make little, little compromises,” he added. Again, the audience erupted in laughter. I was beginning to wonder about the Art of Living’s breathing techniques.
So much for spiritualism! If this is spiritualism what is not spiritualism. Spiritualism has to have social ramifications.
I have many times come across car drivers (I am referring to owner driven cars) trying to overtake a vehicle just in front. They keep blowing horn till the car in front gives way. The quest does not end just here, there is yet another car in front and the same exercise is repeated. He knows that the car in front is in the same pursuit as he and he also knows that the car ahead has hardly scope to give him the way. But! Is this competitiveness? Similar situations are repeated in work life. How can I be second to someone irrespective of my capabilities?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

INDIANOIL-weekly 'gup shup'

Why has talking become so unpopular? Talk, we are told, is a poor substitute for action. All too often talk becomes an end in itself. Yet talk is necessary precursor for action. Meetings, conferences, symposia are all necessary. Head Office of a PSU issued an order to all its state units to have weekly meetings of all HODs. The purpose was to review the functioning of each department in the presense of all other department heads to instil competitiveness. But what really happened week after week? It is Monday morning. Everyone who is someone asking every other someone---what time is the meeting? No one knows for sure. There is an air of anxiety. Announcement comes on phone from PA—meeting is at 1530, followed by a personal message to each someone. At 1530 two or three are in the conference hall. The head telephones to find if all have arrived. He too is anxious not because of the meeting agenda but because it is not the first time that there is delay. He enters the conference hall and occupies his chair. Only about 50% attendance! Intercom “silsila” to each yet- to- arrive someone begins. Silsila is given up, as the response is poor.Lunch was over between 1330 and 1400 hrs. Serious managers do not take lunch on time. It probably is one of the unwritten management principles! Back to the conference hall. By 1600 most members are seated. Minutes of the previous meeting are on the screen. First point is taken up. By now each member has in front of him a piece of well-topped pastry and a large samosa. Mouth watering, though the lunch was over just an hour and a half ago. Samosa after all is a great delicacy. The boys who serve the snacks have not had their food. Normally they have after 1600 after they clean up the places where employees have their food. You can see hunger in their eyes as they serve appetizingly topped pastry and alluring crisp brown samosa. Someone says –why pastry every time. Why not khalakhand every alternate week. Good suggestion says someone else.Meeting is on. Third point is being discussed. Meeting did complete with change of dates for action on many points. A couple of new points added.Next meeting is scheduled Monday next.

Friday, February 29, 2008

nationality and citizenship

We in India equate nationality with citizenship. In other words citizenship is synonimous with nationality. One cannot say one is Christian, Muslim or Hindu by nationality and an Indian citizen.

But when it comes to Indians living abroad as citizens of UK, USA, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, we like to think that they are Indian nationals.

Whenever some citizen of USA, who happened to be a citizen of India once, gets an award or goes in a spaceship, we celebrate. Mr. Shashi Tharoor in Sunday Times once wrote that we could even include Mr. Churchill in our list of Nobel winners of India because he spent a few years as an army Lieutenant.

In political science a nation is different from a state. Nation does not need geographical boundaries and soverienty. It is just the population and the we-feeling that makes a nation. Infact we have so many nationalities in India. Each caste is a nation. The bond among Khammas, Reddys, Velamas transcends Indianess.That is OK! But for example if a Roman Catholic were to say he was Vatican by nationality and Indian by citizenship, there would be furore.

By the way does Vikram Pandit hold an Indian passport? NRI should be one who holds an Indian passport but stays and works abroad.

Poets and versifiers

Faber brought out a book on modern poetry but named it faber book of modern verse, though it included works of celebrated poets like Eliot, Pound, Auden, Yeats and many others. May be they were sceptical that many included were mere versifiers.

I came across another anthology named ‘Silver poets’from ‘everyman’s library’. The introduction or the prepace gave clarification why the anthology was named so. It says, “ it acknowledges a distinction between this particular assembly of poets and their more eminent contemporaries----.”

I do not recollect having come across any anthology titled Copper poets or bronze poets. I believe this category does exist. Ofcourse I have not seen a title of golden poets either. I have come across the term lesser poets, whatever it means. On the second thought it should mean versifyers who do not have poetic content even very occasionally.

Atalji, our highly respected politician, is also a poet. Hardly anyone knew him as a poet before he became prime minister. Then there were sycophants not only of his political acumen but also of his poetry. He gave in to sychophancy. He would recite one of his verses on any given occasion or on a slight suggestion to recite one. India TV portrayed it well in their programme ‘gustakhi mwaf’. Only Kaif Azmi could say what Atalji was writing was mere ‘tukbandi’. Celebrated singers offered to sing his poems and they did sing. Composers lined up to give musical score.

Verse is a form, while poetry it’s content. When the two compliment each other it is great poetry. Even the free verse has rhythm. Great prose has rhythm. Great prose also bursts into poetry. I can think of James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield. Poets use ‘measured language of emotion’. A poem is ‘a litarary expression in which words are used in a concentrated blend of sound and imagery to create an emotional response.’

‘In its broadest sense, writing that aims to present ideas and evoke an emotional experience in the reader through the use of meter, imagery, connotative and concrete words, and a carefully constructed structure based on rhythmic patterns. Poetry typically relies on words and expressions that have several layers of meaning. It also makes use of the effects of regular rhythm on the ear and may make a strong appeal to the senses through the use of imagery.’

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Beginning

In our society one thing has not changed for sure. It is desire for a male child. Many couples have even six to seven daughters just in the hope of having a male child. Try they never stop! Couples pray to God for a male child, coax Him with offerings. Muslims, many of who have Sufi inclinations pray at a durgah—a place a Sufi saint is buried, offer to cook special dishes every year on the Urs day and say fatiha. They believe that the Sufis had ‘realised Allah or discovered the ‘ultimate truth’ and his one favourable word Allah would definitelty hear. Such faith is strengthened by coincidences, by claims of various people that in their case ‘miracle ‘ did take place. “My son was born after we prayed at the durgah” is something one hears commonly. Common argument is “ we believe Allah is supreme but you see we are sinners so we request the wali to put in a word”

Hindus visit various temples; offer mundans, annadanam, every year visit Tirupati and give offerings in the hundi.

Obviously such families have large number of female members. All affection is showered on the son. Every preference is given to him. As the children grow, the daughters slowly realise they are the ones not really ‘wanted’. They develop a kind of dislike for their brother. He is an irritant. Every time they complain to the mother the ‘misdeeds’ of him. If by chance another son is born, the girls take liking to him. May be it is psychological to prove ‘ we are not against brothers’.

Miyan was born to a couple of a middle class family. First male child after four daughters, two of them died in infancy. The boy was born after many prayers, visits to the tombs of walis and bribing them with celebrations of their urs every year with traditional sweets. This boy had a special place not just in the family but also in the entire clan. Sweets were distributed to the entire neighbourhood. ‘A bucket full of sweets’, which is how it was referred to for many, many years to come. He was darling of all. But as the girls grew up to realise, they realised what was happening. It was told very pointedly to one of the daughters that her father refused to see her because she was a female child. He did return home without seeing her. One can imagine the pain in her face whenever this incidence was narrated. It was narrated matter of factly. No one ever thought of her feelings. The girls were always treated as class two. If any sweets were brought home, major portion was for the boy. As a child not realising what was happening, he took it as his priviledge.
As the days went by, the girls ganged up against the boy. It was a female dominated house and he was made to feel lonely. They did not allow him to participate in any of their games. If he did intervene, there were shreiks from the girls, which was to suggest the boy was bullying them.

The day of his circumcision was decided. He was between 5 and 6 years of age. The day arrived. From morning there was festivity in the house. All the neighbours took part in the festivities. This young lad was terribly shaken. He knew something hurtful was going to happen to him. His young mind was so disturbed every thing looked dreadful to him. He looked upon the whole thing as cruelty. Just as a convict waits for the gallows, this youngster was waiting for his tormentors. Suddenly two men seized him and held him tight while another closed his eyes with his palms. It was all over. The boy never got over this experience. Time healed the wound but the scar in the memory would not go.


When he was six, June 1949, he was admitted to a municipal school, which was considered the best of the available schools. He spent happy days at school. It was just less than two years after independence and Gandhi was still “alive”. Children were taught cleaning of cotton, seeding it and rolling on a thin rod to make some kind of straw. Next step was spinning on takali, which was a kind of spindle. From spindle the yarn was taken on a roller and then neat garlands, the kind of which, are offered to political leaders, were made. It was great fun. Boys used to compete with each other spinning the finest thread.

Then every week there used to be fun with clay. Boys were taught to make various fruit and toys.

Every day school began with prayers. Students and teachers of all classes asembled in the yard in front of the building. “Shanti Mantra” was followed by “sur e fatiha”. It was Miyan who recited sure fatiha every morning.

There were students from all sections of society—Muslims, Lingayats, Brahmins, Rajputs and Dalits. Most of the students were from very poor families. There were boys who worked before and after school. While some cleaned and fed their cattle along with their parents, some sat with parents in a cobblers’ shop hammering animal skins to help their fathers make slippers. Some times Miya visited them while they were at work.

There were certain bad experiences with a teacher in class IV. The incidences are still fresh in memory. He did not treat all students alike. Miya just could not understand why he did so. Now after years and years he thinks he knows the reason. He does not want to believe it. He tormented the young minds. He humiliated boys who were not of his section of society. He firmly believed that only Brahmins were capable of any learning. Looking back many of those who were at the receiving end have realised his behaviour. They cannot be blamed. He was indoctrinated by his immediate surroundings. He used cane very liberally. Many times he felt too lazy to get up from his chair to slap a student who he thought had erred, instead he asked his favourite boy, of his own caste, to accomplish the task on his behalf. None dared narrate this to parents, for fear of being punished further. One day when he saw Miyan talking to the boy sitting next to him while he was supposed to be listening to what another student was saying, he got so infuriated that he threw the cane at him. The cane landed right between the eyes resulting in a small wound. He was crying. That did not have any effect on him.
He did not even come to Miyan to see the wound. During the lunch break when Miyan went home his father saw it. He just left the home. When Miyan went to school after lunch he came to know his father was there talking to the head master. After that day the teacher never touched him nor did he speak to him.

Primary education was largely under municipality and hence free. Son or daughter of district collector, judge, superintendent of police all attended the same school where a clerk’s son or a mochi’s son studied. The difference among the boys was very obvious. Children of well to do parents wore sandals and clean pressed clothes while many were in darned ones. Even as a child it did disturb Miyan. Miyan preferred going to school bare foot. Where the majority is poor and ill clad, the well-dressed children were made fun of, teased. He was broad and looked bigger than his age. He was called fatty. He was normal by today’s health standards.



There was antagonism between Lingayats and Brahmins. Sri Basava, who was the founder of Lingayats, was born a Brahmin. He rebelled against the caste system. He propogated sanatana dharma. Lingayats worship shiv ling. Though original teaching was a casteless society, today there are numerour sections if not castes among Lingayats. Sajjans are the ones whose profession was production of edible oil. A stone grinder operated by a blinkered ox, walking in circle whole day. Mathapatis are the preistly class or the descendents of that class. They are superior among Lingayats. There are Patils, landed gentry, chiefs of villages. They are respectfully referred to as Goudaru.

Brahmins had three catagories—Deshastha, Saraswat and the followers of Madhavachary, who believed in and preached Dwait phylosophy. Madhavas were very few in number. In my school there was only one boy—Purohit. Other boys showing two fingers like the victory sign, alluding to his belief in duality, always teased him. The deshastha Brahmins followed Adi Shankar’s adwaitism. Interestingly the word aikya is not used. Not being two is not necessarily one. Muslim boys were called many names. The most popular were—one referring to the circumcision, second to their script written right to left. Musula was a common reference.

At the age of 8 he witnessed a death in the family, death of a youger brother, who was a darling of every member of the family. He had fever for a few days and one day he passed away. He witnessed the convulsions of his body before he passed away. It is still fresh in his memory. Miyan’s father was shattered. He was very close to him being the yougest in the family. Miyan witnessed the burial. It was the first time that he saw someone being buried—and it was his brother. The sight of convulsions and each member of the family raising their palms praying for his life is a very agonising memory. He has not got over it though he has not told anybody about it.

He had friends in the neighbourhood, boys of his age who went to different schools. There were two brothers one in Marathi medium school and the other in Urdu. Aziz and Mushtaq and Miyan visited a school in Jama masjid to learn to read the Quran. The teacher was a very old man, Lalsab janab assisted by a college student, Mr Badruddin. Both of them were very likable persons. This class used to be between 7 and 8 am. School timings were 10 am to 5pm.

All the three boys were crazy about reading the comic strip that was part of the Urdu daily ‘Inquilab’. It was about the adventures of two boys called Chungu and Mungu. Only Aziz could read Urdu fluently as he was in an Urdu medium school. Miyan was in Kannada and Mushtaq in Marathi medium. The newspaper used to come around mid-day by Sholapur Hubli train. The pan shop owner was a subscriber. Three of them used to go to the pan shop and read the comic strip. There used to be a lot of people waiting to see the comic strip. They were habitual gamblers. The secret of their interest was about ‘Open Close’ Open-Close was a name for gambling on cotton rates. Gamblers had to speculate the opening and closing of cotton rates of next day. It was believed that the strip gave some kind of clues. The gamblers studied the strip very closely, observing the number of fingers stretched out and the language they spoke in the strip and arrive at their speculation. There would be heated discussions among the gamblers as to what could be made out of the gestures. We never heard of any one winning. Of course the people who managed the game and the intermediaries took the bids from the speculators earned lot of money. They were the ones who liberally spent during Moharram.

Miyan’s mother was keen to teach her son read and write Urdu so that when Miyan would go out of town after completing education, he could write to her and in turn he could read her letters. She succeeded. Miyan could read and write Urdu. He could read but in writing he would make mistakes. In Urdu you have multiple symbols for a seemingly single sound. ‘ze and zwai’, ‘swaad and seen’, ‘aleef and ain’, ‘swad and zwad’. There must be some difference in pronunciation of these sounds derived from Arabic and Persian. Sounds may be emenating from different parts of the mouth. Some may even be glotal and some from the palette. I think as a matter of practice and routine people use right symbol at right places. This is true of English language as well.

There was an Urdu school very near the house, built in granite with an arched corridor. There was, what appeared then, a huge playground, where they played hockey. Those days hockey was a very popular game, as popular as cricket is today. Very next to the school was a private burial ground of Miyan’s family. Behind the school there was a kind of farm, where boys from the remand home were made to work. Sometimes he witnessed boys being caned. The honorory incharge, Mr Purolkar tall, pot bellied with total grey hair was the man he used to see caning and hurling abuses. Miyan always thought he was wicked.
Many Brahmin widows, clad in red sari, without a blouse and chappals, head shaven were seen in many households. They had food restrictions also. This was a method to keep them unattractive and from going astray. Some of them were seen going to temple acrooss the playground. Some boys deliberately went near them threatening they would touch her. The widows thus accosted would shout and curse. Any touch of a non-Brahmin would make them impure for temple entry. It was a plight for the widows and fun for ten year olds.

He often visited his Hindu friends, his classmates. Their mothers were very affectionate and treated him like their own son. On some occasions he would find his friend’s sister sitting outside the house, near the main door. No one would touch her. She was served food in a separate plate. Food was almost dropped on to the plate. She had to sleep separated from the other members of the family. When asked what was wrong with her, the friend would simply say ‘ she is sitting outside’, exact translation of ‘horage koothkondada’. It did not mean any thing either to Miyan or the boy who said it. Many years later he knew that the girl was going through the menstrual cycle. That was the custom among Brahmins and Lingayats.

Hindu boys always teased Muslim boys calling them ‘katela’ (circumcised), ‘ulta’ (urdu and arabic scripts written right to left) or ‘Musula’ (slang for Musalman). Brahmins called Lingayats ‘kallu’ (stone). Lingayats worshipped shiva linga, and carried with them a small linga enclosed in a silver casing hung from their shoulder dangling at the waist. Lingayats retaliated saying’ Basava, born a Brahmin, founded veera shaiva dharma because he did not like the caste system’.

When he was in sixth standard he had a wonderful time. The class teacher Mr. Gulganji was a wonderful man, with a lot of energy and great teaching skills. He hardly used cane. He was friendly but quite firm when it came to descipline. He was very fond of Miyan. He used to visit Mr Gulganji’s house for tuitions. His wife invariably served him from whatever she made for their breakfast. Miyan always found the dishes delicious. They were different preparations from what his mother used to cook. Mr Gulganji encouraged Miyan to participate in debates and elocution competetions, which helped him in later years to compete in high school and college and earn many awards.

Class seven was a nightmate. Mr Jambh was the class teacher. Strict and cane weilding teachers were thought to be result oriented. Students were scared of him and hardly spoke. He was particularly harsh to students from lower castes. In his view Muslims should have left for Pakistan, which they had created. It never occurs to such people that ninety percent of Muslims in India are of Indian origin. For various reasons they converted to Islam. They were mostly from lower castes before conversion. They were there before Aryan invasion. Infact majority of Muslims are original inhabitants of India.
Any revolution or social chage appeals only to the under priviledged and down trodden. The previledged class always resists change, because they are afraid that their previledges will be shred. When Basava founded Veer Shaiva cult Brahmis felt uneasy. Veer shavas do not recognise caste system of Manu.

Miyan was disturbed because of his experiences with Jambh in class four. He was hardly twelve years old. There were a few, who were around fifteen, when they get to know about sex. They used to tease younger boys. This disturbed the youngsters, but they were afraid to tell anyone.

There was a scholarship examination and Miyan and Majumdar were considered as fit candidates to take the examination. Khaja Shahabuddin Trust also gave scholarships within the same exam for Muslim students. Miyan wanted to fill both the forms because examination was one and the same. Mr Jambh decided that Miyan would apply only for Khaja Shahabuddin trust, thus leaving the other to Majumdar. And he prevailed. Many years later Miyan realised why Mr Jambh decided that way. This was the first instance of injustice he faced in life. He passed the exam and got a scholarship of  five rupees every month for four years.

Mr Jambh arranged an excursion to Hampi, the seat of Vijayanagar Samarajya. This was his first outing without family. We stayed in Hampi in a mantapa of a huge temple built during Krishna Deva Raya. It was on the banks of Tungabhadra. It was a beautiful location. All the boys and teacher had bath in the river flowing through the rocks. It was a great experience. From Hampi we proceeded to Tugabhadra dam. The sight of water gushing through the sluice gates was breath taking. When they went up on the bund wall they saw water as far as the eyes could see.

Urdu monthly magazines were subscribed. Shama, film magazine with some short stories and ghazals, Beesween Sadi, a literary magazine, Bano, a womens’ magazine and Khilona, childrens’ magazine apart from Romani Duniya, a monthly novel and Jasoosi duniya, investigative novel were regular reading material in the house hold. His mother was fond of reading novels. During the reading aloud sessions he would be among the listeners. Among others he listened to Kishan Chandar’s ‘Gadhe ki aap beeti’ and ‘Gadhe ki wapasi’. The day the magazines arrived every one was busy reading. Break from reading was only routine work, done very reluctantly! On many occasions a magazine would be read aloud by one and listened to by all others. Miyan always looked forward to such loud reading as he could also participate. Those days, Muslim girls were identified by their dress. They wore shalwar khameez and a dupatta, which covered the busom and part of head. Hindu girls wore what they called ‘parkar’ (petticoat), a bouse. After certain age the Hindu girls wore half sari (petticoat, blouse and a cloth stuck in front part of petticoat and wrapped round the hips and busom and ended down the shoulder. On festive occasions this half sari used to be of silk embroidered with zari. Hindu gils never wore shalwar khameez and branded it a Muslim dress. It is Hindi films, which broke the barrier. When they saw their favourite Heroines in Muslim dress, they slowly started wearing. But in North India it was different. People down the Vindyas are traditional. Today one longs to see a girl in half sari but no one wears it.