Sunday, March 23, 2008


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.