The bloody diamond

The bloody diamond
This is life

Welcome to the imperfect world

Welcome to the super-real world where survival comes first, much before the high alter preachings of excellence (for others only). So if you are the one who does not have to survive, or does not care - you have a choice not to remain here.

For others, please have a seat and take cover - here anything can happen anytime and you may just become a faceless co-lateral damage. Everything here is related to life and death, pains and agonies, treacheries and conspiracies, cons and deceit, treason and betrayals, despair and darkness - we just do not live in any perfect world.

BUT that is why the blog is here at all - let there be light. It aspires to show the way, to train myself and my friends in the defense against the dark arts. It is also related to hope and courage, renunciation and redemption, indomitable will and lust for life - the immortal battle with the dark side. Daggers drawn, no quarters given nor asked, no hostages taken - we must fight till the last man standing

Rest assured, you are in good hands. These hands, with all the talents or the lack of them, with all the liveliness and the inner brooding, with the over-sized ego and the extra-ordinary humility, with all the goodness and the devilish designs - have been war veterans - they have fought for decades in the battle of survival.

Happy surviving




Love in blood

Love in blood

The inescapable war within

It is the curse of the human that we are constantly at wars. War with the Government, society, family, spouse, children, Boss, peer, friends, neighbours. Some of these are overt, some crude, some plain enmity but some are subtle, some barely palpable, some low key and guerilla types, some are cold as razors, some are dry like the funeral pyres.

Most of these cannot be own with force or when you try for winning - sometimes you have to lose to win them. Some are more like trials than wars, they never show the faces, never let you see their pimples, just shadows, the kafkaesque faceless executioners take over.

For all these, we need inner strength, we need strategies. Sometimes the objective is survival, sometimes it's plain escape from the random blades, sometimes the heady delight of beheading the enemy. Sometimes it is sheer joy to be alive, sometimes happiness comes over from a walkover or just a walkaway, without even a careless looking back. Often it is a mixed feeling - the agony, the ecstasy, the brutal orgasm or a complete disenchanted detachment - a shelter in the NOW. They sometimes need courage, need cunning finesse, sometimes ruthless lack of values of a son-of-the-bitch, sometimes daring flamboyant recklessness, maybe even stoic nonchalance. But the best of the best generals in the wars of life, always win without unnecessary bloodshed or even none of it at all.

But the most painful and fearful of all these wars are the ones with oneself. It could be a conflict between mind and heart or even the soul that holds our values dear. And this is one war that always hurts, always wounds, always bleeds one dry, always keeps one awake through the fearful night with the shadows of the curtains blowing in the gentle wind and making shadows of our most intimate fears within. It is like a nation under seize, and alas, there is no escape. When you will kill yourself softly, no survival strategy ever works.



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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Survive from being a fucking sober



While letting her go in front of her home, you didn’t suddenly pull your girlfriend to give her a lingering kiss, while she fought to get away ? Didn’t u get intoxicated in the party and danced like crazy with your friend’s girlfriend, to spend the next two days to get badly thrashed by your own, whom you really realy care for ? Didn’t you bunk the classes to go for a 8-hour beer session,  to be carried home by the innocent bystanders, to get a marching order the next day by your Dad ?  What the hell you are living for, you prude, for a few marks and a few more nickels ? Is that a living ?



If you don’t break the rules, you are a rotten vegetable, ask me. I had the rare distinction of being on the verge of rustication 4 times within a span of 9 years in school, first being at the age of Class 1 and beat that. I snatched the scale from the hand of the Nun who wrongly, or so I thought, punished me and broke it into half, in the strict missionary school I was in. This is nothing to boast about, nor the fact that each time some guardian angel had to come down to save me at the last moment, but I am proud and content that I have proven myself to be a living organism and not a rotten vegetable called “sober” that some parents think as the ideal state for their children.

Sober essentially means he does not smoke, nor drink, nor take grass or cocaine or LSD or heroine or anything of that sort, does not even look at the pretty girls (which I have done all my life, by the way, if I miss someone my wife cooperates to turn me to that direction !!), let alone cavorting with them. What they do, study and study and study and get beautiful marks and even more beautiful marks.  The joke goes that after such a sober guy died, well not by cirrhosis of lever that I will probably meet my waterloo in but by severe diarrhea after taking some outside food for a change, the life insurance company refused to pay the assured sum on the premise that “this guy had never lived, so how could he die ?”

I am not any big guy, just average in everything I guess, including the number of pegs and fucks, to measure the give and takes. The only basic difference is in the pride, the guts, the fucks I give to whoever thinks whatever about me. This is not honesty either, I am not claiming to be a saint waiting to be cannonised, if people had a chance they would rather blow me by the cannonballs. But this is a proof that I live my only life, as I want. In all the schools and colleges, I was known by the Principals to the Directors to the rectors to the Durwans and the security people, often even ignoring me as half-mad anyway because they couldn’t ever digest the facts that a guy may have complete disregard for the established rules and regulations that they hold so dear.

Just because most people live like pigs or lambs, you don’y have to throw away your only life, do you ? Just let go, yourself and all bloody rules and expectations and the fucking rules that the bastard society will impose on you !! (BTW, I am not responsible for anything written above, I have had too many pegs to understand what was written !! ) .


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Survive from burning down the small bridges

Let me tell you a telltale story first. A small happy bridge was there in the deep mountains somewhere, on a small river. Just as the other mountain rivers, this was mostly harmless but at times, a very dangerous river. And the bridge was happy to lay down itself, for anybody who cared to pass, over the troubled waters. Only thing, it expected a little tip, as a mark of gratitude. Nothing wrong in that, all waiters expect 10%, you can even give 15% or more if you are happy, a small price for a smile which is often hard to define. Big bridges don’t care for a tip, they always have the high toll gates erected over the clouds and force you to pay your obeisance at high rates. So, one day a beautiful courageous dashing Prince came in a white horse, but he was a little mean too. The bridge jumped in jay and laid itself on the small flow of the waters. The Prince laughed at the river, crossed the bridge and bade goodbye. The bridge smiled, of course there is a smile for every situation in life, and said nothing. After a few months, when the Prince was coming back after rescuing the beautiful Princess and the monsters were in hot pursuit, he reached the bridge again and was surprised at the fury of the river. The bridge smiled in a melancholy way with the sound of silence, laid himself down on the troubled waters but not fully. His one hand remained to his cheek. The Prince galloped to the end of the bridge to find there is a small gap, had no option but to give a jump but could not clear by a whisker. The furious waters took them away.

You think I stole another fairy tale? No, I just cooked it up, just to make a point. People don’t expect much, but usually remember a slight, even if they forget what all you’ve done for them, for gratitude and beauty erodes faster than all other things. When a small crucial service is needed, they open the old ledger book and make the double entry of the open issues. 





For all my minuses, I always hated meanness, it’s simply uncharacteristic of me as a leo. But a few times, I remember ruefully now, when I was much more stupid and immature, I was mean at small things with people which had later cost me very dearly in terms of crucial and critical junctures in my life when for a little support, I could have paid 100 times of the small amount I was mean with, but alas, the bridge had already been burnt and the damage done cannot really be un-winded in life.

We are usually very careful about the big bridges, often to the point of reverence if they are that big, accepting the lordship meekly and even happily. But in many critical junctures of life, when the two roads will diverge in the yellow woods, you will see that the decision on your fate will simply hang on a word of a small bridge. Just like the interviews, most critical decisions on your life, will be taken by other people, often uncaring and even disinterested, just like those parole committee members in tailored suits in the Shawshank redemption who did not care about what you said. Just like the interviews, your life will hang on a cliffhanger on a 5% probability, as that is often the maximum difference between the people whose named are being considered and only one will be selected for the lifetime opportunity. In those crucial times, when the monsters will be after your hot ass and the Princess, you will find that a small word form a small bridge will tilt the balance of the game, believe me, I am an experienced victim who only has himself to blame.

When I see the stupid and the careless immature people burning the bridges rather than parting with a small tip, I sigh inwardly, and alas, you cannot turn the clock back.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Survive from the taxes – and their use - witness of the history



Have U heard about the notorious Devi Singh who founded the Nashipur Raj family ? Have you seen the Nashipur Rajbati, a stone’s throw away from the Mir Jaffer’s palace ( of which only the gates are standing in the name of “Nimak haram deuri) in present Lalbag area in Berhampur. The palace is often refered to as a "miniature Hazarduari" because of the similarity in features. The grand flight of stair, the large gothic columns, the huge hall for the court and entertainment, the courtyard with the belgian glass enclosure where the Baijis performed. 

Nashipur was one of the bigger zamindaries in bengal. It had large portions of the districts of Birbhum, Murshidabad and Malda, beside the now Bangladesh districts of Rajshahi, Bagura and Pabna. The family went on to remain a major zamindar, Raja Bahadur Bhupendra Narayan Sinha died in Delhi in 1949. He had one son Ranendra Narayan Sinha and two daughters.Ranendra Narayan Sinha (the last titular head of the Nashipur Raj family, as the Zamindary system was abolished in 1953 in West Bengal) died in 1992. The nephew of Maharaja Debi Singh, Raja Udmant Singh built a temple complex in Nashipur. The present palace was totally renovated by Raja Udmant's grandnephew Raja Kirti Chand in 1856.

A small businessman, Devi Singh came from the then Haryana side (probably Panipat) and like all outsiders, immediately started ruling the historically spineless Bengalis as the Collector of Bengal under Mirkashem and then Lord Clive in the Post-Plassey era, about 1765. The biggest marks he has made in the history was as the extremely cruel ruthless official of the rulers, particularly in the times of the famous “Chiattor-ar monnantor” (The famine of 76) which happened in the year 1770-71, in which many lacs of Bengalis died straight out of starvation, many families sold their children for a handful of rice, not to mention selling wives or parents. Devi Singh shown absolute ruthlessness in getting the taxes though, even for a due of Rs. 1, he used to hang the starving people every day, his favourite sport. The defaulters were kept locked in a dark cellar in the palace and were executed by hanging when the mood of Devi Singh went up. 

If you go to the palace now, you can still see the hanging room in all it’s glory, complete with an underground channel which went to meet the ganges river about 500 mts away, te gargoyle through which the blood flowed to the sewer, and the remains of the black hangman dresses (cloak & hood) he used to wear when he did it in his own hand. It is said that Devi Singh used to put only about 30% of the collected taxes in the coffers and spent the rest on his own aggrandizement – the torture practice being in the full knowledge of Clive (he was reprimanded on this issue which came up in the trial of Clive in the English parliament in 1778). Devi Singh is credited in the history to cause the death of at least 50000 people additionally, just by his ruthless policies.




Have you heard of Hirabai ? She was the 6’2” tall sensuous beautiful 16-year old Iranian dancer in 1755. 15-year old Shiraz bought her from the King of Kashi for Rs. 5 Lacs or 1000 gold mohurs. For this money, he kept his grandfather Alivardi captive for 3 days in his Heerazhil palace to get him to agree to pay the money. She later, post-Shiraz, stayed on on Murshidabad and used to dance in the courts of the rich, at a fee of Rs. 5000 per night !! Mirzafar is said to want to keep her as an exclusive kept. to which she refused. Hirabai was quite a regular in the house of Jagat Seth too, beside the other miscellaneous rich people who had the money at the time. There is a painting of Hirabai (then mid-aged) in the Nashipur Rajvati even now and (a friend of mine commented he is ready to pay 5000 each for 30 nights for this lady).

There was another side of Devi Singh (given the title Raja and later Maharaja) that can explain where these hard-earned money (hanging people for a due of Rs. 1 was no joke) from the taxes went. He loved to get the top class baiji-s for dancing in his courtyard, which still has the wrought iron stands on the 4 sides to hold the Belgian glasses to make the periphery where they used to dance. He often used to get Hirabai (then 30+ at a rate of Rs. 5000/- per night) too.  

Except Rajballabh, there was no Bengali in any important post at any time in the era of either Alivardhy or Shiraz. In the Mir Zafar’s era, Nabakeshto Munshi was added by a soft nudge of the English and became Raja Nabakrishna Dev (after becoming the collector-general of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa, and long after he got a sizeable portion of the loot after Plassey, of what had remained after Clive took 2/3rd of what was there (but it is said that Clive did not come to know about a secret Rs. 8 crore which was shared by Nabakeshto, Mirzaffer and Mirza Mohammadi baig, son of the killer of Shiraz). By an official accounts available with the Shovabazar Raj family, Nabakrishna had spent more than a lac rupees the first time he went for Durgapujo, to impress the English Gentry. He spent Rs. 9 Lacs plus in the last rites ceremony of his mother, in the year 1782.

And, we the common people, are not even invited to see the dance !! Just to pay, the tax. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Survive from your relative position

I will tell a story first. A Japanese and an American, both fond of hunting, entered a jungle with guns. In the pursuit of game they entered deep jungle and suddenly realized that they had run out of bullets. Just then they heard a lion roaring behind them. Both started running. But the Japanese took a short break to put on his sports shoes. The American said, "What are you doing? We must first get to the car." The Japanese said, "No. I only have to ensure that I remain ahead of you."

How true !! The lion would stop after getting his first victim! It is not important how good you are in running, it is important to know that you do it slightly better than others.

Motivationally and attitudinally, I will ask anybody not to be jealous of others and do his work sincerely. It is the perfect recipe to be happy and content – the fruition of selfless “Karma” that prohibits looking at the fruits of your work itself. I have friends, some of them are more brothers, who are much more successful in every sense and deservingly, no doubt. Rather than being jealous, I have always remained delightfully awestruck, proud and reverent at their achievements, some of which become part of folklores. Their dedication and the results provide me inspiration but I do not compare that of mine, because I know I am different, good or bad. But can it be possible when you are in direct competition with someone for the fruits of labour? Could I have done it in my office when I was in the industry, or with people who are not friends, just peers or straight competitors, by definition ?

For examples, say, in a top-grade MBA Institute all (or most) of the students have entered thro’ their achievements, through the front door and now they are all preparing for their ultimate goal – campus placement. In previous articles, I have commented in detail on the need for professional help in important things and the stupidity of amateurish pride of being smart and adequate, so I will keep it aside. Lets assume that all are ready. Now, on what basis the HR guys of a company will take say 5 of the 15 guys ? They normally see the absolute quality of a candidate, which as per our premises, are more or less comparable (otherwise they would have gone to a higher or lower graded Institute in the first place) and also the relative quality of a candidate, the phenomenon that is known as differentiation. The guys who will understand exactly what things the HR people look for in a candidate and the fine prints behind all the bullshits that they may talk and project an image accordingly and create a differentiation with others, will sail through easily.

If the general absolute quality is suspect or the students are not properly trained in the game itself, the overall strike rate will decrease (e.g. a top IT co. took only about 22% candidates selected for interviews in a top-level Institute in the last year), but those 22% surely were a step ahead of the others. A clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Getting a job is no big deal, deal is to get the best of the jobs, in best of the terms, with the highest ease.

Jockeying for this relative position, a game of one-upmanship, is a natural phenomena coming out from the super-competitive rat race everywhere, not only the entry. After joining a company, one will be subjected to it. Everywhere, a spate of people join at a particular entry-level position and though the initial 1 or 2 promotions are usually given out on plain seniority etc., the next promotions are bound to be decided by this “staying one step ahead”, as the image of the worker is usually the supreme consideration in those times. True, there are often an elaborate and bombastic HR process for the same exercise, but it is always done and maneuvered in a way to justify the results that have been long decided even before the appraisal process started.

It is simply not the rule that the best or the hardest worker are given the rewards, it applies to the people who manage to create an image for it or any position of influence which is again a complicated process that may even include sexual favors which are outside the purview of this discussion. There are often people who have made it an art to live off the credits of others and simply do it, usurping the limelight. These are called “born managers” who always direct and manage, how the others will work and send those to him, so that he can send the mail to the Boss everyday (or week) talking about the progress and the dedication of the team (!!??). because they actually have a very light schedule (which can be felt by the half-dead team members only but not others), they get a lot of extra time to sound the trumpet and go around giving the impression that he is dying with work but of course never complains, as after all he is responsible for running the Company !!

However the management world shout about the hallowed “flat” structure of the tomorrow’s organizations, As you will go up the ladder, you will understand we were never out from that colonial mind where the hierarchy is the supreme yardstick. In that pyramid structure, even if four excellent guys are in a level, only one slot will probably be available in the upper level at a point of time. Then the question will be settled by the image or the equation. A bit of mathematical genius can get you there, or you go back to school. If you want to win, first you must be prepared to fight.

When the lion is behind you, being “Good” or “Very good” do not count anymore, you have to be “Better” or the “victim”. You are so lucky, to have a choice.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jobs galore – But where are the people?

All the time we hear about unemployment running into lacs and people not getting work etc. etc. but when we have work and need people, it’s hard to find people to work, there is a huge demand supply gap. All the people seem to be only after jobs, not work.

One of my friends, who has his own firm, is looking for some guys for quite some time. He is simply pressed, overworked and desperately need people even above the few he has. He often has to refuse work/ assignments for want of people. Myself and a few other friends try to send anyone who seem suitable to him, consider it a social work for both the parties. A few days ago, I referred a guy who said he is looking for a job, have him his no. and advised to go meet my friend after an appointment. The guy called up after 3 days, asked to meet my friend, dithered on which day he will come and said OK, I will come at 6/7 in the evening. My friend said “6 or 7 ? I hate that people will wait for me and expect to get the same treatment from others”. The guy said “OK, Sir, 6.30”. My friend was waiting, even postponing a meeting with a client, on the appointed time. The guy called up at 7.50 to say sorry and that he had some trouble and could not come, can he come on the next day ? My friend was furious but said nothing and said ok. Next afternoon a client called up my friend for an urgent meeting in the evening. He called this guy and asked if he could come at any other time. The guy said Sir, I am already working somewhere and they are giving me 12K, how much you are going to give ? My friend was flabbergasted. He said “I can give you double, even triple of that. But do you deserve that ? I have to know that first. If you are interested to talk to me, pl. come tomorrow at that time”. The guy never came.

Another girl, sitting at home, giving CA final exams with article-ship over a year ago, sent me her CV thro’ an ex-student of mine who still keeps in touch. I spoke to her and thought she is quite suitable for my friend and it will be very beneficial for her. I gave her his number and asked to get in touch, alerting my friend. She could not call up in the last 8 days. Seems busy in looking for a job. She was asking me in the beginning how much she will be paid, I said I have no idea, why don’t you go for an interview?

Sounds familiar ? The stories sometimes get dangerously similar and aligned to the stories of getting proper and good domestic maids, who also are getting scarce day by day and show the same kind of attitude problems, partly due to pure poverty in this case though. In my training on Interview techniques, I teach them all kind of strategy and tactics about how to put their best foot forward, project the best image and fit possible and push any salary negotiation till the end so that they can play on a solid ground at that point and extract the maximum juice. I have seen this strategy getting immensely successful most of the time. At a pure mind-game that is an interview, finding that balance is important as otherwise you are ought to sell yourself cheap or ask for too much and be unable to prove your value. But the issue at hand is much bigger and bleaker than the money part alone. It is a problem emanating from self-knowledge and looking everything in a price angle rather than the value. In a class in IISWBM, in a different context, the discussion veered toward this. They were complaining that even bad companies are being brought in who are offering laughably low salaries. I expressed surprise that why they are coming to IISWBM, not going rather to all the other Mgt Institutes where many students would love to get a job of 8000/-. One too smart guy from behind taunted "Dollars Sir?". I kept my cool and asked if he did think $8000 is something fantastic. I said to my little knowledge about US which I have visited a few times, it's not much and too many people get it. The question is that "if you deserve it?"

I am pretty habituated to see the youngsters of today, mainly MBA students but other species are included. I have a good sense of their potential, have every sympathy for the confused state that they usually belong to and have even sacrificed a lot on my personal front in the hope of adding a lot of value to their lives. I do not claim to compare myself, but the concept that Chandragupta would never become an Emperor if not trained by Chanakya. Even the best steel cannot be a samurai sword unless you have a master craftsman at work.

I generally find that the most significant trouble most of them have is in the attitudinal area. They simply do not have the mindset to work, they always look for a “job”, that will pay them very well but will not give much work, and not outside the plush air-conditioned office, of course. The vision to look inwards, the question of “deserving” that my friend raised, is simply missing. They are very good at having fun, being at the facebook, and master at passing the exam with the “Matrix” notes with the question of what they have learned totally missing from the happy picture. They have “bought” the degree, paid so much fees to the Institute (whose quality is something I won’t even comment about) and now it is the liability of the Institute to give them a cushy plush job, with as little work, of course. Except a few, the more I see them, the more hopeless I become.

Even if I have the power to change this, I do hate the idea to force someone to come to me for a lesson, you just can’t teach anyone to live better if he does not want it with a passion. Nobody can change anyone, it’s on them and you can only help, guide, mentor, motivate and inspire, not spoon-feed a reluctant spoilt brat who thinks his father has a lot of money so he can afford to be a monkey and so, why care? Their parents are no less a willing party to this thinking approach and attitude. One of my old students completed his MBA, worked for a bank for a few months, hated the back-breaking work that could also have given him a solid grinding as well, and left the job. He at least got bored after taking rest for half a year and had enough intelligence or contacts to land a nice job. Being the only child of well-to-do parents, his parents did tell him to relax and not get killed. Thanks Papa!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Survive – from taking your MBA a bit too seriously


In the inauguration of the post-MBA specialization year-long course on Strategic Management in IIM Calcutta, the legendary Prof. Ranjan Das came to the dais and asked “How many of a read a book called ‘The power of NOW’? All 35 people kept their hands hidden. Then he lectured for an hour on behavior, life and attitude. We were mesmerized, but could not help feel desolate. What is the relation of all this with StratMan, (except a statement that SM is all about behavior) ? Then for a year, the deeper we went, we understood that the essence of the whole subject had been taught in a nutshell in the first one hour.

I have continued studying SM even after that and for years I have been teaching it in different management Institute, but I never forget that lesson. Al learning turn towards philosophy at one time and after a certain level, because that level concerns with the concentrated wisdom, the essence of the learning. I have continued to give that in my first class of the term, to the utter dismay of the students, but it is fun to give the last scene first and then show the movie in an unhurried flashback.

Dealing with the students, not only in the management Institutes but also of the schools and colleges in my training sessions of BodhiTree, I get to see a lot of them taking their degree or the course too seriously. They try to discuss the nuances (the more difficult, the merrier) everywhere and in every place (don’t know if they try to talk about these with their girlfriends even in odd times). Is it is focus or is it is kind of ego-feeding? I often see a strange kind of showmanship in these efforts, the one-up-man-ship that was elegantly demonstrated in the Hitler-Mussolini meeting in the “Great Dictator”. I had a junior (in my dept. but 2/3 levels down) who always thought of unusual ways to score a point with me, sort of indirect oiling, to show that he is ahead of the others. I hated this but he was insistent. Say when I am having my lunch in the canteen, he will come up and sit with me (his peers are sitting in another table) and start discussing a delicate issue in Insurance. After a few time, I told him “I had to pass the whole thing from Licentiate to Fellow in under 3 years and didn’t get the 10-12 years time like others. So, you can understand, I did not have to time to study and have very limited knowledge”. The sarcasm shot past him and the next day he came to my lunch-table to discuss another issue which should not have affected him at all. This time I flatly told that I charge to discuss official things at my leisure time. Such people probably tend to their facebook account or any other forums as academic discussion boards and ruthlessly down-ride all things less glamorous or less knowledge-based. World was never short of pompous asses.

I hate the concept that the subjects are often theoretically taught, with an eye on finishing the syllabus and the exam purposes. While I did just that in my last term in my alma mater, it was under a situation of exigency. Otherwise I try to give the essence of the subject and whatever are there in the books, they can just read that (I even give the chapters or pages). I am grateful to God for the chance of being in IIM as that provided a new approach of thinking itself (further honed by the Strategic Management Forum in other IIMs) and a new view towards life. Prof. Saugata Ray (now dean at IIM_C), while teaching financial strategy, said “however much I teach you, you still read the book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ nicely, otherwise you won’t be able to really appreciate the value of tangible assets or their creation”. I found that an understatement, after reading the book. My brother, a brilliant doctor, has probably earned (God knows how many) times of his whole life’s salary and fees from investments in property and shares. He could as well have earned even more if he changed his profession altogether but he didn’t care, obviously. Aswat Damodaran books are not enough to teach you the essence, he gives you the house. It’s then over to life, to teach you to make it a home. I say “A SM course cannot teach you personal strategy unless you read ‘The Godfather’ or the relationship strategy without reading the art of war, where Sun Tzu says that a great commander wins a war without bloodshed”.
I personally own several properties, all of which have given me mind-boggling returns. At least one opportunity I missed by a whisker has haunted me for years and gave me a notional loss amounting to several years of my salary (net of tax) even when I was a very successful professional. Still, while I am not in a position to buy any more, I act like a listening post and insist to all my friends that any opportunity of a good investment (even without judging) should be informed to me. If I cannot buy, my relatives and friends are there. And I am not a broker, and never charged a paisa, nor will I. I do this to others as a grateful service for the fact that they are my well-wishers. I often find this attitude, most among the Bengalis unfortunately, that they take any real estate maneuvers as much below their dignity. The result is for all to see. 70% of Kolkata is gone, and the rest is goingggg..

In my SM classes, I always give quotes, stories, anecdotes and book-names so that the real objective is fulfilled. The real objective to me, is to become smarter and happy and rich. Strategy says everything relates to the relevance to the objectives. So, to me, objective is supreme. That is why I try to teach all my students, my children that is, to keep one eye all the time for the opportunities that are going past them. 99% will be irrelevant or not applicable or impractical, but the rest 1% will give a 100 times return on the effort. If you do not respect opportunity, it will stop coming to you. I go on telling them “Your salary can never make you rich, opportunities can”.

But I still find that that some people, prefer being dumber, complaining and, well, MBA! Then I respect their choice.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Survive from being good only – a case for Alumni network


I won’t try to define Alumni as to me, it is slightly more than a definition. It is a sentiment, a gratitude, a relationship with continued interest, interaction and involvement with one’s Alma mater. Where they have benefited from the association, they usually do recognize and cherish the relationship and often, constructively participate in the making of a community with a shared bonding. They stay connected with the fellow alumni, teachers, the institute itself and also benefit from a variety of privileges like activities, events, professional and educational meets and connections, programs, career options and networking opportunities. The belonging foster the growth of healthy fellow-feeling, promote common interest and maintain the feeling of unity.

When someone takes a pride of belonging, the phenomenon is multi-faceted and multi-directional. There are four major pillars of the phenomenon, The Institute (tangibly represented by the present authority and top management with their vision), the faculty, the current students and of course, the alumni, who often provide the much-needed pull-effect to the Institute and the students. Reputation of alma mater and the increasing equity of their diplomas are key motivators for connectivity for a large section of the alumni. They seek to connect through career, social, and business networking provided by the alumni forum and so, are also interested in learning more about their institution’s academic strengths, how it educates graduates for careers, exciting developments in student-faculty collaborations and research, and opportunities to be exposed to new things and be prepared for a complex and changing world

Without the pull effect, even Harvard would not have come this far or the IIMs would not have made this name. In most or nearly all major technical or management Institutes all over the world, alumni factor was one primary factor for their vault in the big league. Even the economic factor, in some cases, were huge. Harvard gets huge amount of endowments from their alumni (a 2009 survey showed 67 of the top guy, Chairman / CEO, of the fortune 500 cos. were their alumni), other Ivy league Universities follow suit. Even some of our IITs have got significant funding for noble purposes, the Vinod Gupta endowment for IIT-KGP is one example. In Harvard, the alumni association (the collegiums for the elation of many important functionaries) have a role in the management, control and development of continuity and perpetuation of the name and traditions, strengthening the tie between the old and the new. They have their own office in the campus itself.

While the pride of belonging is a primary reason of being in any alumni association, being in the core of the ol’ boys network is an obvious benefit and is often a big factor of personal success in the industry. It is quite true that more businesses are acquired or given at the clubs rather than the offices also point to that principle and the culprit network. The result or rather the potential strength of such a community support will be evident if you look at the Parsi community or the Doon school Ol’ boys network.

But it needs a conscious effort on the part of the Institute too. Unless it takes a justifiable pride in the achievements of their children, the feeling slowly becomes mutual and the path is separated (beside only fulfilling the practical personal needs of networking or being in touch with the batchmates). An Institute must understand that it is the people who build the connection to the Institution and not the other way around and the people need active nurturing and encouragement, not the high-handed laidback neglecting welcome. Nurturing a bond, starting with the young alumni (students are would be alumni really), leads to consistent and increased philanthropic support over time over the life-cycle relationship with the alma mater.

Some alumni associations, (like the Jadavpur University one), have established branches in different parts of the country, and even in other countries. IITs have joint alumni association branches in many countries and they are pretty active in all aspects. They sometimes reunion parties, sports, cultural events, conferences etc. and often fund-raising take place to help their alma mater in certain aspects, e.g. loan scholarships for brother students, helping them connect to the industry, giving pull-effect for campus interviews, helping the management with visionary suggestion, funding special needs for the Institute infra-structure or special extra-curricular training needs of the students etc. The best thing about even the most active associations will be if they do not transgress the boundary of participation and authority.

The best of the Institutes always take a special care to nurture the alumni network and create a strong bond. They create or patronize the alumni association, create interaction points with alumni leaders, improve alumni involvement and support, reach donor among and through the alumni and set a code for a mutually respectful and beneficial relationship. Some Institutes, as I have heard, even arrange for surveys (by the Consumer survey organizations which often have some alumni at the top) regarding alumni satisfaction and often use community analytics software (another BI tool and a variant of the Customer analytics software) in tracking the results and the progress of the continuing initiatives. This sort of endeavors also create a more healthy atmosphere with checks and balances that can work as a counter-weight against outside or governmental interventionist policies and provides more and true autonomy for the Institute.

The mutually beneficial relationship dynamics of the Institute and the alumni increases in an interactive and incremental manner. The more famous and respected the Institute becomes in the marketplace, the more benefits the alumni derives in the industry circles because of the name. In my personal experience in the HR consulting side, I have seen that the name matters a lot in the CV or in an interview. At the same time, the more the alumni rise, the Institute gets tremendously benefited because of the association. A case in point is the heydays of the Razabazar Science college and it’s students in the Ashok Ganguly or S.M. Dutta days in Hindustan Lever (now Unilever).

But this kind of relationship needs active nurturing from all the pillars of the phenomenon. Students must understand the potential benefits of the association (and the current students don’t often show much the kind of maturity or attitude for the same) or the Institute must also understand that being good (or even the oldest) don’t matter much in the new world order of the cut-throat competition of the Institutes, where the philosophy is (from the management parlance borrowed from Jack Welch) “If you are not the Champion, or the challenger, you can f__ off”. It certainly needs an X factor that pushes the boundaries of the Institute and the students (who really become the brand ambassadors of the Institute of the industry by their knowledge, their manners, their philosophies, their attitude, their work culture and everything else). The teachers, who tend to get a bit tired and cynical over the years, also need to be taken along if the inspiration has to be there.

In the end, it is that inspiration, that matters..

Friday, March 9, 2012

Survive form a bad picture – yours - Part -2

Have you ever seen a girl who does not hire a beautician or a parlor for her make-up on her marriage day ?? Then why they think they can do it all by themselves when making a resume which runs for many years and the trade itself is an art, no less than a art-full beautician’s job, which is to show you in the best possible looks or the job of a professional photographer which is to show you in the best possible light, angles and poses ? Professional CV-making is an art that takes a lot of experience and clear understanding of the psyche of the people who will screen the CV or of the people who will be taking the interviews based on the CVs. This is a problem with many professional agencies also where inexperienced greenhorns make the CVs in an assembly line system, without any personalized or customized analysis or viewpoint on the strength / weak areas, tilts and slants, and most importantly the overriding objectives of the candidate. While there is no perfect CV is alright, the “one size fits all” is a devastating rundown to the candidates. In the last 2 months, we have created (or rather recreated from scratch) at least 3 CVs which were previously made by “Naukri”, who charge a higher rate but use mostly junior fellas, who have never seen the industry themselves, on the job.

But CV have their limitations too, just like a photograph. It may be a brand image projection, but you should also relate to that photograph. Otherwise every girl would have sent a picture of Angelina Jolie for their marriage negotiation. A top-class photographer (with a team including a hot-shot make-up man) can show any girl to be beautiful, but cannot make you look like Jolie that all the companies will make a queue at your door next morning for a, well, autograph. CV-making is no magic and do not expect a Harry Potter job. Life is not Hogwarts, it is the hogwash that one needs on her face and anything more than that and the overdose of paints will make her look like a cheap hooker (and a liar, of course). You only market yourself thro’ the CV, not overdo it and lose your credibility. A CV, of a pretty successful pro who were dissatisfied with the service of another agency, came to us for re-creation. There was quite a list of qualities given in that CV, almost anything under the Sun. Our Associate who provides the service, a top-notch HR pro with decades of high quality experience, smiled and said “all these qualities should have made him the President of USA by this time !!”.

A CV has to have a clean formal professional look that must show you methodical, neat and well-organized. It also indicates the written communication skills, your self-assessment (often people make so much wild claims about their qualities that the CV itself can become a laughingstock) and the realistic position. Each word must be chosen and all fats cut out so that it can be easily scanned and the words you want to highlight (often many things must be told in a subtle indirect way) should come up very easily. Traps must be created in a way to lead and lure the interviewer in your strong areas where you can play most of the time of the interview and the interviewer will be automatically timed out about probing you deeper about your weak areas and angles. A CV should reflect your best angles, but also reflect how you can fulfill the employers needs in the position you are aiming for, and that is the exact place where your CV needs a personalized strategy. Copying the best-looking CV available among your friends will never best serve your purpose. But still do it, Kamalakanta advises, if you are smart - it will probably save you a day’s salary for the position you’re looking at.

For a few days, I went over some of the CVs to make a list of the major and common problems, which are:
1. Not easy for scanning or reading
2. Too much colour or shading and lines in the format
3. Overall strategy is missing
4. Will not provide direction for the interview
5. Too much information is given
6. Not CV, it should be a profile, of max. 2 pages
7. Cliché and vague statements given as objective
8. Personal statement vague and high-sounding
9. Silly email addresses or filename (ex. supersexy2010.doc or rockstar.doc.)
10. Real objective and targeted area of work unclear
11. Direction of career not apparent. Qualification and projects on one direction, experience on another
12. High focus on knowledge rather than skills
13. High claims on skills and attitude, without any proof or even auto-suggestion by the education or experience backing. E.g. one writes “excellent communication skills” which is plain laughable
14. Side margins very less
15. Photo should not be there
16. CTC / salary info. Must not be there
17. Declaration at the last need not be there
18. Cohesiveness is not there, overall idea is disjointed
19. Poor choice of word
20. Spelling mistakes
21. Grammatical mistakes
22. Written in past tense or in third person
23. Too much of shading / embossing / colour / lines
24. Important points not highlighted
25. Strengths are not apparent and not highlighted
26. Weaknesses not covered
27. Extra-curricular /interests is over-mentioned or not proper for the role / job targeted or negative

So, be happy and start making your own CV, even if it closes the doors that were half-open, till now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Survive from a bad picture - yours - Part 1


It surprises the hell out of me that a resume, or curriculum Vitae (CV) as is commonly called, is neglected so much in the whole process of job search. While helping my wife’s HR consulting business temporarily, I get to see hundreds of CVs, of mostly MBAs, and never cease to be amazed. People send all kind of CVs, bogus – childish – stories – evidently untruthful – big claims – unreadable - unprofessional or simply downright ghastly. Some are so plain Jane, that no HR professional will give a second look at them to find out more. It is said that they scan one in 30-70 seconds and reject it or reads it the second time.

While my wife is in horse-trading, the business of reins should not have been our concern at all. But in a business in which sees the clients see the reins first and decide to look at the horses, we simply could not have a Nelson eye, otherwise our business will suffer because an otherwise suitable qualified good candidate may quite be simply screened out just because the CV is a trash. What a waste!! A CV is supposed to be the key to the door, no more and no less. After the door opens, you get a chance to go and give the Amitabh Bachchan like dialogue or Amrish Puri like smile or a Malaika like jhatka, but what if the door is only painted on the wall ?? !!

Remember the movie where the Hero gets a perfumed ladies handkerchief and falls in love with the girl whom it belonged to?? He made all sort of images in his mind how the girl will be and etc. etc. In the same way, a good CV has another very important job, that is to make the interview irrelevant in a way a true blue ocean strategy makes competition itself irrelevant. First impression last forever and one gets only one chance. One Must create a solid first impression – must put the best foot forward – not the lame one. In the business of giving an interview, image management is everything and that killer image (“Mere paas Ma hay”) can only and only be transmitted through a CV ! When a candidate will go thro’ the door, the interviewer should already be half-dead in lust, and should only need a slight push to commit suicide, no persuasion please. He should only need a confirmation of the image he has got and nothing else, he is already hanging on the cliffhanger.

But still, alas, the guys who expect too much too early and much more, never ask the question why they should get all those. The complain – constantly. Why the C-grade Institute (that never really made any bar in entry and never had any quality control on the input students except the paying capacity) is not getting them plush and plum jobs (also the corner office, where they can sit in the strong AC and do facebook all day) when they had paid so much money? They blame everybody – Institute, placement office, HR guys, faculties, job market, International recession etc. etc. and never gives a thought why these companies pay the consultants so much money to find out the right people for them. They never find out if they should be taken by any company at all?? By knowledge – by application – by attitude. I know because I have taught a lot of them and are simply hopeless about 95% of them. It’s not that they have less intelligence, many of them are also talented in different ways – it is usually always the attitude that spoils them to this degree. There I blame a lot of people – parents, Institutes, University, education system, faculties. Everybody is out on a race to get the most at the minimum of effort and determination.

These 95% – the main trouble is they don’t want to learn. They want to pass, by hook or crook, no textbooks please and the read-a-subject-for-exam-in-a-night (like Matrix companions) are the norm. They dream about the IIM kind of salaries and have no idea the kind of intense grinding they go through. I went mad when we were in IIM-C for a year in Strategic Management. Every afternoon, totally exhausted, when we used to go back to the hostels, we were used to be told of the next days 5/6 Case studies by the Program Director’s Secretary (we always felt like murdering her by drowning in one of those famous 7 lakes in the campus and if she was not attractive, we probably would have done it someday). Then we were awake with the cases till 3 or 4 in the morning, and came back at 9 sharp. These people, in contrast, makes a revolution if they are given a task, tries to make a team of 10 if given a small project. Most faculties in most private Institutes are evidently sub-standard (in tandem with their sub-level salaries) who never had read a case study themselves. University is full of corrupt people who think exam is a formality and everybody should pass to avoid any hassles and give questions from Matrix only. The height is that nobody cares, because then the rich Institute owners will give the cash awards, under the table. The only thing these 95% care about is why they are not being “given” a plush job.

Coming back to the CVs, a few we get are pretty good (in fact, one we got recently, we asked that guy 5 times where from he made that CV and he insisted he himself wrote it and finally confessed that his elder sister is in HR and is a pro in this field), some are OK which we do not disturb and some which need slight change that we quietly make on our own even without asking them. After that, about 40-50% remain which are of the “Must be changed” status, for which we ask them if they will take the paid service, and most people disagree and say No (we say shit and submit the CV as it is) and some cautiously ask the rates and some readily take the service. We see that even many candidates in the HR side, simply can’t make a proper CV and we wonder what picture they are providing of themselves.

A CV is a snapshot of a person, 2 flat pages focusing on the relevant highlights of 20 / 25 / 30 years of his /her life and throws a composite image. If you really do not look like the photo given here, then why you give that picture through your CV? And then expect that you will be called for an interview?

While people spend a lot on the beauty parlors for facials and other services, they do not get their CVs professionally made. They are smart, and smart people do not waste money, right? So they spend it on beers, restaurants, girlfriends, ipods, other numerous gadgets and endless funs – except their snapshot for the purpose that they constantly cry and supposedly try – a nice job

Monday, November 7, 2011

Some old pics of Lucknow and Sepoy mutiny


I am passionate about Lucknow history and plan to re-narrate and re-interpret it in a book that I started 4 years ago and plan to complete in another 4 years. Enjoy a few of the pictures from my collection in http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2413659453543.2134861.1012989103&type=1&l=3664f2db40

Notes on the associated picture : This picture was taken by Felice Beato, an italian photographer, in 1858. Sikander Bagh (formerly Secundra Bagh), a summer house on eastern side of Lucknow which is almost at the heart of the city now, had been occupied by mutineers who began firing on Sir Colin Campbell's troops. it was a scene of intense fighting in Nov,1857. Following the action, the British dead were buried in a deep trench but the Indian corpses were left to rot. Later, the city had to be evacuated and was not recaptured until March 1858 and it was shortly afterwards that Beato probably took this photo. One contemporary commentator described it: "A few of their [rebel] bones and skulls are to be seen in front of the picture, but when I saw them every one was being regularly buried, so I presume the dogs dug them up." A British officer, Sir George Campbell, noted in his memoirs Beato's presence in Lucknow & stated that he probably had the bones uncovered to be photographed. However, William Howard Russell of  The Times recorded seeing many skeletons still lying around in April 1858.

The British opened fire on the solid brick wall of the building. Holes pounded in the wall turned into wide gaps. The slaughter inside was appalling, and before long the ground was covered with both the dead and dying Indian soldiers. This is perhaps the most notorious photograph associated with the entire struggle and shows the pavilion within the garden where, as Beato's own caption dispassionately recalls that, 2000 Indians were slaughtered. In the restaging of the interior view 4/5 months later, Beato not only positioned the horse and Indians, but, even more chillingly, arranged for disinterred bones to be scattered in foreground to create a constructed image of military triumph and celebration. This is the conic image of the aftermath of the Mutiny. By the time that Beato reached Lucknow, the corpses of the rebels had been deposited in mass graves, and were disinterred so that he could only arrange the bones in front of the ruined building. Look closely enough and the arrangement of bones seems to echo the triangular pediment of the neo-classical façade above. Broken bodies echoing broken buildings in a staging of history to be consumed in the capital of the victor: from the outset, a self-conscious esthetics of violence has informed the production of war photographs as both document and art. The most notable point is that the savagery on the rebels were perpetrated by the Pujab and Gorkha regiments under the command of the British officers. In fact, it were the loyalty (to the British !! sic) of those regiments which were one of the major reasons for the failure of the rebelion.

Beside the previous visits, I went to Lucknow in 2010 for some work at IIM and kept a couple of free days to go over the old city all over again. Secundrabagh is now almost like any other park, except the gate which is still standing and a small memorial erected that tarsely says this is the place where about 2000 rebel soldiers were killed in fighting. The beutiful building was razed to the ground by the British themselves, as they did most of the superb Kaizer-bagh area where the main King's palace was situated and the whole area was overloaded with many beutiful buildings. The other structures have also given away, only a few remnants of the massive pillars are there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Survive from being a "Nowhere man" – the goal-less state

Have you ever stumbled upon your internal question of what is a real success ? Have you ever dithered over the fact as to why, some people are much more successful and happy and content over the others ? What it takes to be happy ? A high-flying job or a lot of money is not success as a whole, otherwise there wouldn’t have been so much anger and politics and discontent, stress, marital discord, disintegration of relationships, adultery and lack of loyalty, and so much of tension with the friends and relatives for the top executives and the rich people. It is the lack of balance in life, a lack of direction in life that creates these symptoms.

Probably the biggest trouble with the youngsters today is the lack of direction. With the materialistic trend, their needs are very high, their expectations are very high, but they are not sure what they really want or how they will get those or if at all. Eternally standing at the crossroads all the time is what makes them angry and confused, stubborn and blaming, bewildered and hopeless – even suicidal. IITs have the highest suicide rate among all institutions in the country. One of the reason is that for years they took IIT as the final destination, a state of have-all, and when they understand that it is only the beginning of another journey, they find it hard to take. Defining success is not a part of the things that the parents try to teach their children, leading to all the trouble and the internal dilemma and confrontations in their lives.

As our vision is often blurred, and the future uncertain, all the more we need to know ourselves – our hopes, dreams, wants, likes & dislikes – self-knowledge is the highest form of knowledge and is the most potent tool in one’s hands. And there-from comes up the goals and objectives of one – the destination of a human being. Goals give us a meaning and something to live for. It inspires us and help us move. Active people age quickly after they retire.

The pathetic fact is that parents are generally aware of goals, at least most educated parents have a vague idea of it but most do not recognize the power and the crucial nature of it. The result is a disaster more potent than the 9/11 blast because it tends to make the lives meaningless in a certain way. If you do not know what you want, whatever you achieve cannot make you really happy, because you are never sure that you wanted just that. Success needs goals first and goals last – there is no shortcut. Sounds strange – but life will always give you what you ask – but you must be serious in asking.

It is said that if you are going to “nowhere”, any road can take you there. Living without a goal is like boarding a train without knowing where it is going. This is fine for the bohemians without a care, temporarily, but is a sure recipe for disaster for all others. People without goals just tend to wander through life, in a perpetual search of what will make them happy and content. A survey concluded that about 4-9 effective years are wasted in one’s life in average, for a person without a proper goal, when he dithers and roams around options - directionless -rudderless – valueless. Another survey by Harvard found about 85% of the people never find a definite goal in life, of the rest, 70% get it after the age of 25 (when the options of running after that goal becomes very limited). The whole point of Goal-setting is to facilitate success. There is an inseparable link between goal setting and performance, in any area. A goal is like the grain of sand which exists at the center of every pearl, and about which the pearly material has gathered. It is the ‘big idea’ around which one’s Constructive Imagination builds, deposits and accumulates its wealth of material.

Parents spend lakhs of rupees on their schooling and coaching centers to ensure they get in somewhere – typical craze are Doctors, Engineers, MBAs – with thousands of low-grade Institutes springing up, it is awfully easy now – with the big companies giving up the idea of people and seeing them as mere resources who can clean the shits of US companies, getting a job is also easy. But then ? Then the question comes, now what ? What about their internal strength and value base ? About their life skills (soft skills training are common for interviews) and survival skills ? What about their relationship handling skill ? Their resilience or survival skills that can make them survive thro’ a tough time or handle a major failure or setback ?

Even in Management, the whole idea stands upon the concept of Objectives and goals – of a company or of individual divisions and the associated managers. Peter Drucker started the modern management principles by the idea of MBA, Management by objectives. But people, including MBAs learn the tool, not knowing even this basic perspective and that makes them incapable of having and applying the power of goals in their own lives. A survey among the MBAs found, 93% know it is good to have goals, but only 3% have written goals and only 1% review them regularly. I have myself often done a quick survey among the different batches in my classes at the Management Institutes, and found the result tallies. After 15 years in schools and colleges and of course - expensive coaching centers, they still are not aware of their true desires or how to make those wishes and ambitions concrete – with concrete SMART goals that can truly unlock the potential and that can spawn the 5 Ds, direction – dedication – determination – discipline – deadlines.

Goal-setting is not just a theory, it is a practical process that can be learnt, but then to be implemented by practice. There are steps and techniques of it, which one can learn to do it successfully. Goals must be taken in balance between the 6 spokes of life : Family – Financial / educational – Physical – Mental – Social – Spiritual that will ensure an even balance when that wheel will run. But the path cannot be taken until you know where do you want to go, and that is the most crucial thing for success. The most painful fact is that either you will have a goal, or you will have to ever run – to meet somebody else’s goal

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Survive from the parental apathy

My wife was elated and sad when she came back from the parent orientation in our daughter’s school, that I couldn’t attend. It seems Brother Mac, the invited speaker, had given an excellent lecture about parenting adolescent children, especially girls. She was gag a about it and sad at the same time because most parents were always complaining about “wastage of time”, “he hasn’t married even and lecturing us on parenting” and “what is there in these gyans & boring lecturing “ etc. My wife went to the Principal to specially thank her for the event and the visibly sad Principal smiled, “you are telling it should have been for more time, see .. most parents have even left before it ended”. My wife smiled back “If you arranged a lecture of which coaching center will be the best for Joint entrance , they would have asked for the whole day”.

It is extremely difficult to handle own children, this is not only my personal experience but I have heard it from some top-class motivational speakers of the country and abroad, many of whom are my Gurus and have confided this in private. Even Dr. Stephen Covey, arguably the best Motivational trainer in the world, has described in book after book, how he had painfully fought for years to handle few of his own children to keep them in proper direction. Everyone needs training, everyone needs guidance from people who are experts in their fields, and the parent community need this the most, but neither they are bothered, nor we have any societal awareness about how this thing is the most required to improve the society itself, beside the country. Parents handling of the children often sways between the extremes and that tilts the balance, the crucial factor in developing a well-rounded individual

The strange apathy of most parents toward proper parenting is strange and in a way dangerous. These people often look at their children as investments, even when not, they think their duty is to ensure success of their children and they spend like anything and do all other work to keep their children at studies. The trouble is that we have schools for every conceivable subject under the sun, but not for parenting. They don’t understand that to make his son a successful man, he has to be successful and even more, a man !! Alas, we do not have schools for making a man (or woman) out of a pupil, we have them to make Doctors or Engineers or MBAs (let’s not talk about the quality), who are what, they themselves do not know but definitely not men or women, they are rather happy to be treated as “resource” by the companies, and the Companies are more than happy to be expected to do that.

The parents normally think their duties are finished when their children get a chance in the IITs or IIMs or any good Institute, or even the bogus MBA Institute that takes a lot of money, because it is then their responsibility to get them jobs. The result is often disastrous. Dr. Aniruddha Deb (a top Psychiatrist associated with MON in Koikhali, who was invited by IIT-KGP to work on their student suicide problem), told me “The day we set foot there, we heard there was a suicide in the morning. We worked on them for 6 months, there was 5 suicides and 7 unsuccessful attempts, beside we must have been able to counsel and bring back from the verge at least 30 guys. But the real problem lies with their parents, they never taught them anything except studies. They simply can’t handle a failure. All these guys who reach there, were the first boys in their class all their lives, and suddenly now, in a class of 40, someone has to be the 39th or even 40th This becomes unbearable for them.

Beside the question of training the children for handling disappointments or failures, we push them towards a blind competition with almost no value or moral base (nowadays, after the breakup of joint families and the added pressures and so called liberal society, the value base of most parents themselves have eroded to a strange extent), no life skills and even any slow training on how to handle relationships.

I often ask a question to people, you want your son to be this.., then what ? This “then what” part they do not know, for them the story ends there. They expect their children to be happy ever-after, as the fairytale stories end. The problem is that the real story of life starts from there. The trouble in handling the office and the work cultures and politics (some learn that from their families though), the marital discords, trouble in handling relationships, lack of life balance, drinking and allied problems, lack of loyalty or caring.. the list are endless. The happiness quotient often goes down, and even often with enough income level or wealth, they live in an unhappy state. This make the ties break.

Brother Mac gave a heart to heart talk about the experiences of his own life and also from the ones gathered in the last 40 years when he has been working with different schools. He said, most children, particularly from the affluent and rich families, are going haywire because they feel they are neglected by their parents who are living their own lives and basically give a damn about them, even while giving a lot of money as they thank that can compensate. Internally, these pupils are angry, unsecure, hopeless and basically give a damn.. as they feel they have to give that back to all other people in this world. Nowadays parents are treating their children as co-habitants and do not even communicate their love for their children, which is there for sure, he said, but are often not even apparent.

There the problem lies, at least partly. Parents expect that while we are paying so much money, schools should take care of all things, which is impossible in a way, as some basic values are always inculcated by the parents and the family and that cannot be avoided. Previously, there used to be a lot of people in a family in a joint environment, and the children didn't feel lonely or neglected by parents, there were so many people to give her the love, caring and company. Children, particularly the adolescents, go through a difficult period - with all the questions, doubts, insecurity, new knowledge, fast-changing world, sudden changes in their bodies which they don'y know how to handle, unreliable and problematic friendships, and their ideas getting smashed everyday. This is the time when they start getting out of the protections and start getting the first feel of the real world - this is often frightening and they need the love and caring the most. This is the time they get angry, careless, reckless and love-hungry. Parents should understand that money isn't everything, love is - almost.

Parents also have a strange attitude towards anything not directly related to their children's studies, or rather, their chance of scoring in the Joint Entrance exams. They simply shut their eyes to the question of a balanced development and the fact that the concentration, memory, values, direction everything can be sharpened, increasing the overall effectiveness manifold, by some simple training. Even when they are told, they think it is a waste of time or money or both, and do not also try to replace the effect by themselves. But parents cannot know everything and cannot give the training on certain aspects and for that, motivational and behavioral trainers are there. But usually the parents should and must put forth some basic values and morals without which no external training really work. Most importantly, the best training in this regard is to set examples by their own lives

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The empire strikes back - It's our country stupid


The Government, under tremendous public pressure, had to gulp the CIVIL Society demand on corruption and Lokpal Bill Committee, with the obvious political motive of undermining it and sabotaging it and backstabbing it later once the scene cools down a bit.

Anybody knows what is an ATM Ministry ? It is a ministry where you can get money on demand. In west Bengal it was traditionally the PWD or irrigation department that could supply unlimited money on demand to the people in power. In Delhi it was the Telecom Ministry. I have heard this sobriquet in Delhi at least 5 years ago and found out this is a very common joke in the capital, where you must be extremely good and big to earn a name in corruption, as everybody and their uncle are involved in it in a big way. So, we can safely assume that everybody in the streets of our capital knew about what was going on except, well, our dear PM and his cronies and their Madam and whoever were associated with them, (excluding Raja, he being the only fall guy - and see he is being punished!!) and nobody else ever knew anything about it.

I am happy that at least we have a PM who is spared of the fingers towards the unending streams of corruption stories, some of unbelievable proportions, come tumbling out of the closet. But then if he didn’t know about what was going on under his very nose in the Telecom Ministry, where every Tom, Dick and Harry knew something was amiss, for years on till the CAG – Media and the honorable Supreme court fights it out with the Government and forces some action, The PM should resign for absolute naivette and irresponsibility and intelligence failure and callousness, if not complicity.

We, the people of India, are not interested in the lame stories of the constraints of a coalition Government that you have to be a party to a huge and desperate cover-up of a huge loot of the country – equal to probably 40 years of all Bank heists in the whole country. The bottom-line of the story is loud and clear Mr. PM and your cronies like Digvijay Singh – a man who is talking to much- that you did not even lift a finger in this matter till you were absolutely forced and exposed by a huge effort by the Civil society in different forms and the judicial activism. Even after that, there were a lot of attempts at the beginning to scuttle the whole matter till the topmost court got angry and took the matter in their hands. Instances galore and the Suresh Kalmadis and Dayanidhi Marans and so many other people get a free run for years and usually get away with it unless the media or the judiciary takes cognizance of the lone fights of a few people and stand behind them.

The bill to ensure a watchdog to sniff out corruption in high places and force down some accountability is cooling in the back storeroom in the parliament for probably 40 years and now when under pressure, those very guys are saying that they have the right of self-regulation and they will do it !!?? Self-discipline is a good thing but the natural justice demand that the accused (or his father) cannot sit as the Judge too. When PM is ultimately responsible for the running of the entire Government, the backroom puppeteer Madam notwithstanding, how can he be absolved of all responsibility and be outside the purviews of a watchdog body ?

I am no big fan of Anna Hazare or for that matter, of anybody. But I am a patriotic Indian and fully agree that it is the new independence struggle for the country and it is only the first step that we are fighting for now. The Government will use every maneuver and weapons at its disposal to somehow scuttle the fight, in the name of caste- religion-destabilizing forces-communalism-holier than thou-who are representatives-right of the elected people etc. etc. and do not fall for it. Wake up and rise, my brothers and sisters, fight for the country. It is our country, stupid.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Some feedbacks for the Workshop on Strategic Interview Techniques





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It helped me to discover the real “me”, my strengths, my core capabilities and my areas of expertise. Great value for money and time invested. Another step forward to a successful career by cracking a job interview with ease!! Highly recommended –
Aabir Bose, 1st Year MBA, Institute of Engineering & Management Ph: 9883194606 Mail : aabir.bose@gmail.com

Really enjoyed the workshop. Could not even imagine there are so many things involved and so much to learn and understand to give a real good interview. The strategic view in the whole training was excellent. It will help me for rest of the life –
Arpan Chatterjee, 2nd Year Civil Engg., BESU (Bengal Engg. & Science University), Shibpore Ph: 8961578699 Mail : arpannaktala@gmail.com

The course is extremely helpful and brilliantly conceived. I have attended your classes in the Institute before but still this course has even beaten that excellence. I am much more confident now to go for any interview. It gives a tremendous value addition –
Pinak Goswami, 1st Year MBA, Institute of Engineering & Management Ph: 9007783047 Mail : gpinak@gmail.com

A very good workshop, well researched and planned. The speakers are extra-ordinary, the experience is excellent and the strategy factor will sail me through any challenge. My initial apprehensiveness has turned into a huge satisfaction –
Anupal Choudhury, Final Year B.Tech, Pharmacy, Rajabazar Science College, Ph: 9007385378 Mail : anupalchowdhury@gmail.com

I am much more motivated and ready now to face any challenging interview that has more rewards attached and the workshop is very much required for someone to be properly ready for any interview, on a short, medium and long-term basis. I am so happy that I attended the workshop –
Dhrubajyoti Biswas, 1st Year MBA, Institute of Engineering & Management Ph: 9477377922 Mail : wicked.sacky@gmail.com

A very good workshop, and helped me a lot. I will strongly recommend it to others also. –
Poulam Gupta, 1st Year MBA, Brainware Business School Ph: NA Mail : poulam24@gmail.com

Very helpful and realistic. I will be much better prepared to face any interview from now. – Abhratanu Bhattacharya, 1st Year MBA, Institute of Engineering & Management Ph: 9836132331 Mail : abhrab86@gmail.com

It was a fantastic and high enriching experience. Made me look at myself afresh and create an all-round strategy to beat any interview. –
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Survive from the medical risks

For very long, I see a general apathy of people towards any awareness of insurance as an area. Everybody knows a few agents and a few life insurance companies and sometimes, a few policies and whaow, they think they know all and are ready to fight on all issues. The most dangerous attitude is a blind eye they turn towards the non-life insurance, the most key and varied areas of insurance.

As one of the non-life fellows(of Insurance Institute of India) among a few hundred s available in the country, I have an idea about the unbelievable level of general ignorance about the non-life sector. A bit of awareness has been created in the last few years thro’ the relentless marketing of the private players, but that’s still a drop in the ocean. The car insurance is the most popular because of the strict regulatory requirement (though I have seen fools like a Godrej manager buying a new car and taking only the regulation 3rd party insurance and his car was stolen after 3 months), and the medical insurance is gaining grounds mostly because of the lesions learnt at every steps of life, there is still a long way to go.

In the evening, I came to know about an acquaintance that he had a medical insurance for the last 5/6 years, failed to pay in this February (thought he was a bit tight, he will do it after a couple of months) and had a bike accident in March and since then was in the hospitals and nursing homes for nearly a month, his hapless parents and relatives arranging the money thro’ selling whatever they had. This is not a stray case either, I know of other highly educated people having this strange apathy towards insurance, as if it is like another mutual fund investment, that I will pay when I will be much surplus. The basic concept of avoiding the crippling or fatal risks by insurance against it is lost by this very idea of putting it on a low-priority thread. This was an obvious failure of his agent too that he did not warn against the possible consequences, though sometimes people just don’t want to take gyans. I continuously see students who always want people to give very good jobs and even better salaries but are very reluctant to bring themselves to a level where they won’t have to ask or beg, they can command. They are also very reluctant to take gyans. I hope it is better for them to be screwed first to learn a few things, it feels like a folly to try to save them from that experience.

I always advise people to give the highest priority to Medical Insurance among all investments and expenses even, for the simple reason that a failure to make payment before the date will simply nullify a policy running for many years even and there is no concept (as in life policies) of revival. You have to make a new policy that will not take care of any condition you have contracted in the intervening years and will take them as pre-existing, means any expense on account of those will be excluded from payment from now on. Also I tell them (but who listens) to increase the amount every year (ask fro 20/25% and they will resist and give hardly 10%). It is the same reason that I ask them to increase the amount that the companies resist in doing so. They (and those stupid half-educated agents – that is 90% of the agents and 90% of them always have their selfish motives in their advices) will try to show that you already have got 5% as bonus for no claims. That must be countered as even if you have a bonus of say 45% for no claims for 9 years, that will simply get wiped out in the year of the first claim and you will be left with the original amount, which adjusted for inflation, will essentially be a small amount, in view of the unholy nexus among the unscrupulous nursing homes and the insurance cos. Also, a floater type of policies in case it is done on a family basis, can go a long way to cover any kind of special situation where an extremely high amount may be required for the operation or treatment.

When I used to work for the big MNCs, I was well covered from their side also, even in world-wide coverage of huge personal accident policies, but still at least 2/3 years before I actually left the industry, just when I first started toying with the idea, I made my own insurance side by side and since then I fight every year to increase the sum by at least 20% and finally accept no less than 10% - this is beside the No claims bonus, mind it.

Many people often call me up for advice in insurance matters and I try to help them upto my small knowledge. Many others, even including many of my close friends, do not, which also I welcome. It may be because they do not think of me of any value or anything else. Giving free advice is a very tiring business and I am happy. But when a misfortune strikes and I have to be at their side and share the grief, I get angry sometimes. If people hold me of no account, they should not ask me at the after-effects of the accidents, that could have avoided at the first place. Often the after-effects are the real accidents, not the events themselves.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Survive from being at the mercy of the interviewer


We all give interviews. Even a KG student gives interview in another school. There is nothing much to know in it and we all know all of it. Or is it ? How many of us know how to give good or top-class interviews? How many of us can rise from the gully cricket to the world cup levels? How many of us do have the confidence that we can crack ANY interview?

Instead of that ANY attitude, people generally depend on the MANY factor. It means one will go on giving interviews with the background music of “We shall overcome some day”. The problem with this thinking is twofold. The dream jobs don’t understand probability and have to be just earned, they are never given (unless you have an illustrious father) – the competition is too much and fierce. Cracking them are like being on the India World cup team and needs tremendous talent – attitude - training at the least with a pinch of luck. For those jobs, one usually go and have a look at some of the competitors – they often look like God and speak like the Satan – and shhhhhhhhh, goes the confidence.

At the other end, the lower category jobs can sometime be given to someone amateurish, but at the mercy of the interviewer and at a much lower salary and benefit level than one deserves. The logic is simple, these companies are not bothered about quality and look for basement bargains and if they think of you as a basement, they will bargain for you at the lowest price possible. But then, the celebration can begin – ohhhhhhhhhhh, I have got a jooob. Means, the one knows all about interviews, till he/she goes on fails the ones which are the really worth fighting for, or killing.

The lower end positions also speak for the perception one leaves and the respect one commands at the interview table and the responsibilities are matching. How does one feel cleaning shit for their company? I have seen a lot of people so unhappy but continue doing just that, even without any future prospects or strategic reasons. Some others, I have seen many again including few of my own ex-students, leaving those jobs (most of them from campus placements) in a few months and cooling their heels for sometime in the family couch in their papa’s hotel.

Forget about the greats, even the really good offers never come to anybody who cannot command respect, who cannot match the wit gun to gun at the interview table, who cannot play the mind-game that is an interview. We constantly give interviews all our lives, not only the formal ones to get a job, also for the job-change every few years (without which one neither rises at a good pace nor can get the value he deserves), for the promotions, for impressing the client, stumping the Boss of the Boss, bowl out the Boss himself at times. Opportunity comes in many faces and the interview basics must be made the second skin of one who really wants to be successful. Each one also has to be customized because based on the customized research you must project the “fit”. Campus interview is often the easiest of the ones because often the companies come mentally prepared to take a small percentage of whatever they get here, and also sometimes they come with under-the-table understandings. They need people and here they come for a bargain of what they know they can expect. In all other situations, in a country of 121 crores, you must show you are pretty different from the others to get a differential treatment, anytime anywhere. Beside differentiation, you need some innovation in handling situations, subtle ways of communication mostly non-verbal, some techniques of selective projection and some clear and palpable value proposition that will take his off stump. But for all these again, one probably need months of practice even after he is provided with all the tools and techniques, the directions and the guidance, the insights and the wisdoms. Everybody needs his own customized document for the strategy and the answers to handle different kind of situations. But memorizing them cannot be the solution, when there can be thousands of questions and it’s varieties. The answer lies in creating strategies for each category of questions that takes care of a genre of situational handling. It is ultimately himself who will go to the ground and play, not the coach or the captain or anyone else. For all this, one need the highest form of knowledge, that is self-knowledge. The final thing needed is professionalism, the urge to be extra-ordinary. The game is not for the amateurs.

To become different, to be in the big league, one needs preparation on a different level that matches the league. It is the numbers that gets one to the door, then it is everything else that sails him through the door. It is like a dynamic stage performance where you simply cannot think of all your dialogs at the stage and get the oscar. Training is only a small but necessary part of it, an outside support that provides the guidance and the direction, the real core still remains to be the dogged and focused pursuit of excellence that makes the differentiation. It sounds like sheer stupidity to think that no training is needed. Nobody knows much before they are taught a bit. Everybody can sing or dance, at the family functions or festivals, then why do some people learn it? Even the Champions do it beside all others. The all time great tennis players like Bjorg, Agassi, Nadal all roamed around with personal trainers. Even the greats among the greats like Tendulkar thanks Gary Kirsten when the evening ends, as if Kirsten can teach many new things to Tendulkar after he rules the game for 22 years. No, it is the direction and objective assessment that he still needs.

One trouble is that trainers often need to be trained. An area which is a mix of science, arts and black magic beside a pinch of strategy and a tablespoon of psychology applications – it is often hard to get a good trainer. Most of them have never been through the process themselves, rarely been through the actual process from either side of the table – and then take the help of the google window, download some presentations among the million (out of which 99% are most ordinary if not bogus) and a swish of the wand – they become soft skill trainers. Good soft look will help, low salary will help even more and the responsibility of the Institute ends there – “what more do you want ? We have even kept a full-time soft skills trainer for you!!”. I will suggest let them train the faculties and not the students, on a “who needs it more” basis. A good trainer on this side needs to understand clearly the view from the other side of the table. The industry point of view not only includes what it says but also what it really wants from the employees – and that needs some clear crystal-like thinking and insight. The lack of original thinking and the understanding of dealing strategy kills the possibility of the real values of these junks. No real outstanding trainer worth his/her salt (and the peeper if you please) will easily take up a job of doing it unless he/she is getting a real fancy package. The market is huge, the need is absolute and it is only the lack of confidence on himself or herself that pushes him /her to do it on a fixed set of people. Those dealing at the industry side are far more capable are averse at teaching others of how to beat them at their own games, they consider it suicidal.

If one does not want to learn, it shows a nice confidence on his capabilities and the eagerness to take responsibilities of his life in his own hands. The only bad thing is that practically that confidence flies out of the window by the time you say Hello at the table and then the moment of truth comes and there is only one option left, the obvious one, submit to the mercy of the interviewer