No rain is good fortune

It’s monsoon time in India and being an agrarian economy after 60 years of independence all eyes are on the skies.Monsoon is delayed by two weeks.

The Television channels are blaring out forecasts and interviews by the dozens,the leaders are giving hopes,The Met department is correcting itself a thousandth time  ,The stock market is shaking,The priests are performing Yagnas,The professors are lecturing on theories of poverty,the corporates are keeping an eye on the Macro environment……….the farmer is praying for mercy,he is scared.It is business as usual.

In the morning today my 4 year old son was singing a rhyme :

Rain Rain Go away

Come Back another day

Little Johny wants to play

Like a lightening it flashed my mind,I thought about all the Little Johny’s in this big country of mine who want to play if it does not rain.I realized that they would be  chanting the same Mantra albeit with a sinister design.

No rain or drought does is not actually bad.It spells great fortunes and goodness for a variety of reason for all sections of our imbalanced society.

I would say broadly everyone benefits from a drought sans the farmer.Its just the Question of changing your attitude and looking for opportunities where ever they exist. Let’s make a list to further build upon this great Aha :

The Gods : Folks who would never bother to bow their heads in front of temples become overtly religious overnight.They offer prayers,prasadam and other goodies to the almighty and seek their favor.Going by the Geeta when Arjuna ask Bhagwan Krishna O knower of all things please tell me what do you eat ? Bhagwan Krishna replies I eat Bhaav ( emotions ) of my Bhakts       ( followers).So clearly it is a feast for the Gods.

By making sure that Indra stays at home they can continue their party.And believe me if the followers pray from the heart the food gets even tastier.

I don’t want to annoy the almighty so I will quickly move to the next one who will smile even if you throw your shoe at them.

Politicians : After gods who else ? Demi Gods.They are the biggest beneficiaries of this largesse from heaven.The best thing is that the politicians benefit regardless whether they are in power or in opposition.You must be thinking I’ve lost it.But think again – If you are in power you get yourself photographed with emaciated farmers a few times and waive off all outstanding loans to ensure that you are back in power.The Dogs have to be faithful to their masters.

And If you are in opposition you can always blame the misfortune of the current chief  minister which has befallen on the janta(public) and proclaim that the only way out of hell is to vote against the wretched man.Even the Gods don’t like him and they are punishing you for the public for his misdeeds.The opposition has a very good chance of coming back to power if the Government in power cannot arrange for the ransom money in condition one above.

If monsoon fails for two consecutive years the government will most certainly fall.

Police : It’s  hay day for them too.Drought means more fights,more andolans ( crusades),more people fleeing the hinterlands and flodding the slums,more black marketing, more crimes  and everything else that desperate people do.And desperate people also pay a lot of money to get out of desperate situations.

From the money made over the years and your unquestioned access to power you have more often then not managed vast tracks of well irrigated lands which will produce what ever the market demands.Even the Gods can’t touch the rich and mighty.A shortfall translates to premium.It is demand and supply – simple.

People may not buy clothes,they may not entertain themselves,They make stop sending their children to schools but they will certainly eat.So go ahead make money.Nothing personal against anyone.

Media – Oh my God ! how tragic is this scene the otherwise plastic face of the anchor will anounce.

A mother is mourning over the dead body of her only son.They had nothing to eat for days and they kept themselves alive by eating leaves of plants but even they dried up this season.The camera pans left and you have the dead body with a tight close up of the howling mother ,the camera pans right and you have long shot of the dried and barren landscape for miles on end.

Don’t get scared there is a disclaimer  that some of the scenes may disturb you.And you say No way.I have seen worse – Last time when you showed us that amazing video of parts of the body blowing away from a train in motion in Mumbai I  tried to calculate the speed of the train and the speed at which the parts were blowing out to understand the concept of relativity.

One mans’ folly is another man’s fortune.The adage cannot have a better example that the media.When hunger strikes , the poor will hang themselves or starve to death and both will present an unsurpassed opportunity for the media to make the most of it.

In today’s newspaper Shekhar Kapoor says ” We are all vouyers ..” and nothing can be more gratifying than watching a man die while you finish your 4 th course and thank good heavens that the face on the Tv screen was not mine.

At the awards Ms . Dutt can walk away with all the kudos for showing the “reality” so sensitively.

I strongly feel we should have ” reality show” if it does not rain this time.

We can have ten families fight with hunger,pain,humiliation and disease every night on prime time.It will be Mega Final when finalistwill die on the stage just when he was going to get the cash prize of Rs100000 from Bill Clinton.Everyone will be crying but you will be laughing your way to the bank.I am telling you you can rake in millions with this baby.

Anyways lets move to a more sophisticated set.

Professors : Poverty strikes a chord with the audience immediately whether it is governments or corporates or the general Public.Talk about it and link it to your theories of wealth distribution and the noble prize is yours for the asking.It is important to maintain a certain ‘look’ so it seems that you are one of the impoverished souls from your doctrines; its just that you have better clothes to wear.If you can muster a tear or two while emotionally explaining the irony of the situation,nothing like it.You can tell  Dr . Singh over high tea  about your plan to do away with poverty and he will be so impressed with it tha he will make  you the Chairman of  the steering committee on Poverty and Drought relief.Its your choice the if you steer everyone towards or away from it.

Some fools may wonder that with so much Gyan(knowledge) available for free why millions die of hunger every year.But Like I said they are fools and they will not invite you to guest lectures at Harvard and Stanford nor offer you publishing rights for your next rambling”What poverty.Let’s Party !”

So don’t bother Rock on .

Priests -You stand to gain the maximum.Who bothered about doing homas and yagnas ( rituals ) in good times.Now you can really make use of your cellphones and the Mobikes chanting Gayatri Mantra from one Kalyan Mandapam to the other.God called me and said that he is very angry this time so we need to do the Koti Sahastra Maha Paropkari Yagna.It requires the sacrifice of a 100 cows,1000 kgs of Pure Ghee(purified butter) , 5 tonnes of firewood,1001 kgs of Ladu prsadam and 51 pundits chanting shlokas for 555 hours at a stretch.You can always change the merchandise mix depending on who gives you the maximum commision.

Another big source of revenue is predicting the future.It will It won’t.It may , it may not.Astrology is the best source of comfort in times of uncertainty and by saying something as vague as Water Water everywhere but not a drop to drink you can get away with either outcome.”Ghor nahin Ghanghor Kaliyug hai Bhai”

Then there are small links in this big chain of prosperity :

District Magistrates,officers and Babus – Drought relief from centre,Aid from world bank.Donations from HNI’s ( high net worth individuals).Its raining Money,Money Money !!

Engineers and Overseers – New plans for building dams and canals.Another portion of the house can be completed this year and given for rent with which you can pay the engineering fees of Munna.

Traders,Pawn Brokers and money Lenders – Who said cash crunch is bad.Its damn good.If it does not rain you can always double the interest rate from last year.And whatever mortgage is there from last year is obviously yours as no one will be able to pay up.

NGO’s – with so much coming in as donations you can finally shift to your new offices at Nariman point with a view of the Arabian see.Tell Papa I have arrived in a noble fashion.

And yes it’s time to change your old Fab India Kurta.Someone was saying you smell bad.Tell them you don’t get time to change your clothes doing community service and there is no water to wash clothes.You have to use tissue …..even though you are a Kanyakubja Brahmin.After all you work in drought affected areas.

Lastly a small business can also come to the lowest in the hierarchy the undertakers – when so many die you can up charge for performing the last rites before the body starts to rot and smell.

** Disclaimer – this part may disturb you**

But why did you read it ? I said ” we are all voyuers ‘ .Aren’t we ?

Appraisals can make or break companies

Going through the humiliation of the Appraisal Process one wonders why they needs to be subjected to this barbarous act with tyrannical overtones in which personal dynamics or organizational realities are charaded  as performance measurement.

The above  can be aptly demonstrated by picking up the data of Good,Better and Best ratings of the last two years.Do employees who were “best” until last year have suddenly lost it to be rated as just OK or even poor this year.It is not the employee but the economy which is under  performing and wants to loose excess baggage for a tough uphill climb.

Having been through the grind from either side of the table for a number of years now I have realized that while the purpose of a performance appraisal is to”motivate” the employee for performing better in the coming year it most often  ends up as  a fault finding mission in which your boss frames you for crimes uncommitted for justifying a rating already conceived.

Data is twisted beyond recognition.If you are blessed , only those numbers will get highlighted which are in your favor and if you have rubbed the powers that be on the wrong side you may suddenly notice that the bars are smaller,the trend lines have a downward slope and you are falling behind everyone else like never before.

Before my motivational speech turns into a personal rant I would jump to the obvious question What’s the solution ?

To answer this we will first have to look at the cause of the problem.While organizations lay down seemingly fair ways of performance appraisal clearly defined by systems and methods it is ‘people’ who have to execute the process.We have to realize that organization is nothing but a group of people and people are humans who will have all the limitations of being one.They have egos when it comes to subordinates,jealousy when it comes to peers, and malice towards anyone who can take up their slot in the short run.I will give you a few examples to demonstrate why and how the system fails :

1.The rating of a yes man is always better than those who speak their own mind even though every official publication will talk about innovation and new ideas.Remember ‘The boss is always right’ .

2.Every time your boss recommends a promotion you come closer to becoming him especially if he is not moving up so he is perfectly justified that you are frozen in time too

3.The organization is visibly owned by nobody and so there is no point in putting too much premium on performance. Underachievers consistently  demotivate their team members to under perform  so they can never come close them in the hierarchy.Very difficult to prove but easy to to get away with.Appraisal happens once a year but the bosses can slow poison everyone around them every day.

So what should be done ?

OBJECTIVES  HAVE TO BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE

METRICS HAVE TO BE AS NUMERICAL AS POSSIBLE

APPRAISALS HAVE TO BE AS OBJECTIVE AS POSSIBLE.

The process has to be fair but more significantly it has to APPEAR to be fair.

It is very important that an employee understands the rating process and agrees to his rating.Unless they own their performance the whole purpose of conducting an appraisal is defeated.It is even more important that the areas of improvement and gaps in performance are well identified and specific measures are outlined to make sure the next years rating can be improved.You are successful as an appraiser only if you can get enhanced results from the Appraisees in the coming year.In fact there should be a penalty on those bosses whose teams ratings keep falling each year.

To ensure the above progress needs to be reviewed every quarter to take away any surprise element at the time of final assessment.

An appraisal that’s fair and well conducted will most certainly inspire the employee to do better.On the other hand an appraisal badly done can ruin the employee as well as the organization.

Some organizations do exceptionally well than the others – now you know why.

It is the Appraisal.

Would leave with parting lines from Marcus Aurelius ;

A man has to stand up straight,not straightened.

I have no friends or enemies

कोई दोस्त है न रकीब है,
तेरा शहर कितना अजीब है.                               Hong Kong.php

यहाँ किसका चेहरा पढा करूं,
यहाँ कौन इतना करीब है.

मैं किसे कहूं मेरे साथ चल,
यहाँ सब के सर पे सलीब है

वह जो इश्क था वह जूनून था,
ये जो हिज्र है ये नसीब है.

तुझे देख कर मैं हूं सोचता ,तू हबीब है या रक़ीब है,

तेरा शहर कितना अजीब है

There are no friends or enemies

How strange is this city of yours

Whose face should I read now

I have no one who is close to me

Whom should I ask to come along

All of them have their own cross to bear

The affair that I once had was an obsession

This longing which I have now is my destiny

Looking at you, I can’t make up my mind

If you are really a friend or may be an enemy of mine

The Ghazal has always been very close to my heart but for some reason it has been the top of my mind these days.

At a point you do realize the relativity in relationships and the fact that the only thing  static,absolute and changeless about you is yourself.

मेरे पेड मेरे दोस्त

मेरे पेड मेरे दोस्त

हर रोज़ सुबह                                                       My green tree

जब मैं घर से बाहर जाता हूं

अपनी हरी पत्तियों की मुस्कुराहट लिये

तुम मुझे छोड्ने के लिये खडे रह्ते हो

सच पूछो  तो बस तुम ही एक साथी हो मेरे

क्योंकि तुम मुझे समझते ही नहीं हो

मेरे साथ बांटते हो मेरे सुख और दुख

जब मैं उदास और निराश होकर

अपनी कार का दरवाजा बे मन से खोलता हूं

तो लगता है कि तुम भी खडे हुए हो चुपचाप

और जब मैं जोश से गुंगुनाते हुए

कार के शीशे में अपने आप को देखता हूं

तो तुम सिर हिला कर कह देते हो

हां भई बहुत अच्छे लग रहे हो

मज़ा तो तब आता है जब देर रात मैं

नशे में चूर कार में चाभी नहीं लगा पाता

और तुम मुस्कुराकर मुझे चिढाते हो

लेकिन सच केहना मेरे यार

कल रात जब मेरे पैर लड्खडाये थे

क्या वो तुम थे जिसने मुझे

गिरने नहीं दिया था …..

My tree My freind

Every Morning when I go out

You are there to see me off

With your smiling green leaves

Honestly you are my only true freind

you not only understand me well

but you are always there for me

To share my Joys and my Sorrows

When I open the door of my car

with an indifferent mind

You stand there in silence

When in a cheerful mood

I hum a song and take look at myself

in the rear view mirror

you smile and tell me

It’s Ok you are looking just great !

In the middle of the night, Inebriated

when I struggle with my car keys

You scoff at me and I laugh with you

Don’t lie to me my dear friend

Tell me the truth

yesterday at night when I stumbled

and was about to fall

Was it not you who reached out

and did not let me hurt myself.

(We’ve) Lost that Loving Feeling

In the year 1977 my father traveled to Europe.He had been awarded a scholarship by WHO to do research at a lab in Malmo,Sweden.I was just 6 years old at that time.It was a 1 year project but I believe he wrapped up a bit early as he was sick of living all alone in a strange land with no one to talk to.Looking at foreign microbes,sashaying along air conditioned corridors,staying in a 15×12 hostel room at the medical college and eating boiled food was not his idea of success ,I believe.

In the year 1978 he returned home.He came back with suitcase load of goodies that he had written about on picture postcards that were handed over to us by the postman day after day and week after week.We were not sure if we were more happy at Papa coming home or with all the gifts and Toys that he had brought us.I remember I felt lucky that we had both.

In his Baggage was strange equipment to play Music.We had so far seen only a tape recorder and a transistor but this thing had all three play back modes available at that time together.It had a transistor,a tape recorder and an LP disc player.We christened it the “3 in 1″.We had a few cassettes that Papa got along with him and the transistor played Vividh Bharti without any options.The problem was the LP player.With a round turntable and a needle to go with it this was the most intriguing part of the 3 in 1.Even my father did not know how exactly it went about churning notes from thin air as the Vinyl disc rotated in circular motion atop the turn table with the silver needle scratching its surface.

One of the songs that Papa had recorded perhaps on a  lonely night in his hostel room was a song by Righteous Brothers.It was called   ” You’ve lost that Loving feeling”Even though I did not understand the meaning of the song I liked it a lot for some strange reason.The voice of the singers was deep and laden with sadness,the notes were perfectly arranged and I just loved the Saxophone , the drums,the cymbals and the bass guitar which made its presence felt in the background….Tum Ta rum Ta rum Ta rum.

Its a beautiful song.In case you really like it and wish to sing along Pls follow You tube video :

30 years down the line I know exactly what it means when your partner does not close her eyes when you kiss and how the tenderness in her fingers is lost.

Innocence is a great gift and even the most painful facts of life can be enjoyed if one does not understand their ugly nature.I guess that is what keeps taking us back to our childhood.

I wish I never loose that Loving feeling but the years keep adding up and something beautiful keeps dyin‘  within me.

The song is also sung wonderfully by Elvis Presley.Later Westlife came up with their version too.

And here’s the one by Tom Cruise in Top Gun.