Country first , Religion later…..

It is rather shameful that people from North East have to panic and run for cover in their own country because their fellow countrymen have chosen to show solidarity to Muslims from Bangladesh by threatening to kill or hurt them across the country if they stay put.

And after what has happened in Mumbai and Lucknow it is evident that they could well mean what they say. I fail to understand why Muslim organizations throughout India have taken upon themselves to protest against the violence in Assam where people from both sides got killed over an issue which we all know is linked to illegal immigrants from Bangladesis encroaching upon the land and resources of Assamese people. It is known that the Muslims in Assam are from Bangladesh and this can be very well validated by the census records

The Muslim population has grown at twice the rate of growth of Hindu population in Assam proving that there has been an influx from Bangladesh. The congress has been supporting this since independence under its  appeasement vote bank politics but now things seem to have gone beyond their control as there are more Bangladeshis than Indians in pockets where violence has broken out.

Now here comes the part that hurts. When it is a conflict between Indians and foreigners who just happen to be Muslims why do we find Muslims in India supporting the Bangladeshis going to the extent of damaging government property, fighting with Indian policemen and even vandalizing martyr’s memorial by rampaging and tramping all over it !!  Even if I believe for a moment that the rally was against the violence happening in Assam what does it say when you disrespect what the Indians hold so close to their hearts.

If you read the report above you will know the theme of my argument. Even as Muslims your protest is for violence against Muslims not against India,the country you live in and which allows you to carry out your protest liberally. The martyrs memorial that got vandalized was erected in honor of a Muslim freedom fighter so is the anger against the Bodos fighting with your Muslim brothers from a Foreign land or against India as a nation regardless of the fact that our freedom was won with sacrifices from Hindus as well as Muslims. The last line of the report says it all – Several Muslim leaders have also condemned the act. As if they were supposed to applaud the act but have somehow chosen to condemn it.

Two important questions :

1. How many Hindus came out in large numbers against the violence in Assam and why most of them still either don’t know what the actual problem in Assam is or feel that it is a local conflict between 2 groups fighting for control in the region ?

2. Why only Muslim organizations felt the need to come out so aggressively and protest when essentially the fight is between Indians and Bangladeshis .

Threatening the north east people in Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad is cowardly and treacherous as obviously these folks have nothing to do with the violence in Assam and have come out of their homes like millions of other Indians in search of a better life. The right to move freely and settle in any part of the country is guaranteed by our constitution so who are these enemies of the state to force them in their own land ??

Anyone ,whether Hindu or Muslim who has chosen to be an Indian citizen has pledged to have country before religion as India was and remains to be a secular nation.I strongly feel that all Muslims in India will have to resolve and choose the nation over their religion, unconditionally and without exception else the patriotic Muslims will have to bear the cross for those who seem to have a doubtful stance…..

Lessons from Mumbai Dabbawalas

The story of Mumbai dabbawalas who deliver home cooked lunch to 2 lakh customers everyday on time every time has been an inspiring one and is much hyped since the management gurus discovered that there is more sense in their simple ways than there is in all management book combined.

In the last 5 years everyone from Prince Charles to Richard Branson to CK Prahalad have flocked their workspace ( streets of Mumbai) and every organization worth its salt has piled them with certificates on managing quality,supply chain,cost,change etc etc .They have been named as SIX SIGMA organization with 1 error per 16 million transactions.They have lectured at every management school from the IIM’s in India to Stanford and Harvard in the US.The list is endless..

The big deal is that all this has happened without a single computer in place ( assuming human brains are not computers) and more than 85 % of workforce (shareholders) being illiterate.

Without going into the temptation of demeaning the so called MBA’s I will straightway go to the lessons I learnt when I went to hear them out at the ISB last weekend.There are some key takeaways so more than what you read just sit back, absorb what is being said and then try to implement at your workplace.

1.Keep operational costs low – these are cost of doing business and eat profit

2.Do not invest unless it gives you assured returns and you will almost certainly loose out if you don’t

3.Customer is not the Raja but the Maharaja – Prince Charles was asked to met the dabbawalas at churchgate station so that the deliveries for the day are not affected

4.Complexity opposes compliance – workers shun tedious systems and processes and they do no good except bring down productivity and frustrate everyone around.Simplify as much as possible and create processes only when you can’t do without them.

5.Deviation from your core competency can reduce focus and affect current sales and profits negatively.Don’t jump around to the first idea to diversify just because the consultant tells you so.Use your own brain.

6.Technology is to support business and business is not there to support technology.Computers are for helping people and people are not there to help computers.Don’t put the cart before the horse !

7.Keep your organization as flat as possible.Hierarchies boost egos not your business.Let your people take their own decisions as far as possible.The guy who does the job knows best and one does not need to take approvals for going to the loo.That was OK in kindergarten – grow up please !!

8.Promote cooperation inside to take on competition from outside.If your employees keep working on thwarting internal competition they will be weak to take on external challenges.Do not have people within the organisation to compete amongst themselves.

Let the leaders emerge rather than get nominated.

9.Build extra cushion for exigencies and emergencies.The computers may konk off,people can fall sick,debtors can default and suppliers may delay.But it has to be business as usual for your customers. You can bounce back quickly if you are not on a rigid surface.

A word of caution though – the spring in your sofa keeps you comfortable but if its too cushy   you can start to spoil your spine.

10.Commitment matters – qualification doesn’t.It should matter what you can do rather than what you have done.

Your most talented and educated people are no good if they keep networking for pastures greener and use company infrastructure for scouting higher paying jobs.Put a question about what you gained during your MBA to any of the Ivy league institutes in India or abroad and they will say ” networking”.There could be nothing more silly and out of place than this.An unfortunate fact is that more than 50 % of fresh MBA’s switch  at at least 3-5  jobs in the first 5 years until they find a comfortable place to park their fat ass.

One committed employee can do more for the organisation than 50 educated ones who are looking for options outside.A committed worker will not be afraid to ask for a raise when he feels its due to him while a non committed individual will change jobs at the slightest pretext.I have come across folks who have changed jobs for a 5 day week !

11.Educate employees about the importance of what they do.Once they know they will make sure that errors are minimized and even in the absence  of a code of conduct they will strive to deliver better results for their customers – internal or external.

12.Use existing infrastructure – its free ! Look around your self and you may find stuff that you can use rather than buy or build on your own.If you can use Indian postal services at 2 % higher cost to reach out why create a logistics company of your own.When there is milk from the dairy farm why buy a buffalo ?

13.Abandon bad customers – hard to admit but a reality of life.If you have bunch of bad customers who bring down your efficiency,de motivate your people and cost you a bomb to serve you should not waste time in taking the “call”.Dump bad customers before the good ones dump you.

Good money can’t be chasing bad money as simple as that.

14.Promote self discipline rather than discipline and don’t be shy when it comes to penalizing wayward behavior. Bad behavior gets imbibed faster – remember no one taught you smoking but you picked it up just by looking at your friends.Each one of us knows what is the right thing to do and people cannot be allowed to make examples in bad conduct at the cost of organization.

Rules are meant to be broken – surely not in this company.

15. Multi tasking is another name for screwing up a lot of stuff all at one time.Cross fertilization is management bull shit peddled by managers to stay away from taking responsibility of a single task and its outcomes.

Unless proven to be ready for the next level an employee must demonstrate potential rather than flash his fancy degrees.Your customers don’t give two hoots about who delivered the Pizza as long as it was on time.

16.Human beings are emotional and that is what differentiates them from animals.What a hundred HR workshops can’t do can be achieved by a simple lunch together everyday. Money can’t buy love but it certainly can buy lunch once in a while when you want to celebrate the group’s success.

If one man in a team can stand up  for the other with a belief that when it comes to my partner even he would do the same, you know that you are ready to take on the world.

17.High salaries can attract mercenaries and pigs but not dedicated,inspired and motivated people.Narayan Murthy of Infosys was once asked that how he retained talented people during initial phases of the company and he said

” Everyone was giving them a job, I was sharing my dream with them”

Money takes care our bodies but it is our mind which moves the body.The choice is clear – a pat on the back at the right time and at the right place can do more to motivate and inspire than a wad of notes in the pocket which no one knows about.

18.The humble improve.Humility has to be promoted as religion in your organization.Fullness is an enemy of growth and one who thinks he knows all perhaps does not know that there so much more.

If you rest on your laurels you are probably wearing them at the wrong place.We all know the hare and the tortoise story  but a twist in the tale is that now the hare gets stamped by the bull from the stock market while he is asleep.

In the Jungles of Africa it does not matter if you are a Gazelle or a lion what matters is that when the sun comes up you must start running – If you are lion to catch the gazelle and if you are a Gazelle to outrun the lion.

Talking about a revolution

Kahaan to taya tha chiragaan har ek ghar ke Liye

Kahaan Chirag Mayyasar nahin shahar ke liye

( mayassar – available )

Time : 9:20 Pm

Place : Western expressway,Vile Parle Mumbai

Just as we took a turn and got to our guest house we heard a loud noise.It did not register – bade bade shahron mein choti choti baatein hoti rahti hain.After we had our dinner we went out for a smoke and came out to the expressway.There were hundreds of people on the Road making calls,Looking at something that appeared to be a mutilated taxi and then I saw what I had never seen before in my life,a charred and badly burnt human body.I was so shocked that I wanted to tell myself that no this is something else.It cannot be this……it was.

I rushed back to the guest house and checked.The news was still not clear.Could be  a gang war or was it a terrorist attack.Within an hour it was established that Mumbai was under seige.The whole of Mumbai had seen firing and blasts at 11 locations and the killers were still out on the streets killing innocent men and women,young and old,rich and poor,celebrities and lesser mortals – all for one simple reason that they were Indians.

Suddenly the country on the fast track of becoming a world power was humilated,shamed and brought to its knees.A country of a billion people was at ransom at the hands of just 10 men ! What did we do to deserve this ? What went wrong ? Who is to blame ? Will it ever be the same again ? Questions and more Questions but certainly no answers at all.

The nightmare has just begun.It will take India another 45 hours to free itself from the clutches of its ravagers.And all through this you went through emotions of fear,anxiety,shame,anger,grief and yes helplessness above all.

While the country exalted its brave and rediculed its politicians we forgot to ask the right Questions once again.Like always we said that someone else is responsible.Like always we believed that someone else is accountable.Like always we felt this will not happen to me……….It will happen and it will happen to all of us if we do not act and change ourselves.Did I tell you that we turned our cab back from lower parel at 8:30 pm as the driver said that there will be too much traffic in south Mumbai at this hour.We had planned to be at Cafe Leopold.My freind had read about it in Shantaram and wanted to get a feel of the place.In the book Didier says ‘Luck happens when fate gets tired of waiting’.Very true but ‘You do meet your fate when your luck runs out’. Our luck is running out on us and if we do not change our fate by working towards it,a face you very well know  will be staring at you from the TV screen,bloody and cold as death itself.

We need to ask :

1.Were the receptionists at Taj and Oberoi not doing their duty when they were fired at form point blank range.I am reminded of the time when one of them would have smiled and welcomed me ,a laggard soul after 36 hrs in the plane at 2 in the night.Do they deserve this ?

2.Were the corporate executives not doing their duty discussing the plans to run their companies which support thousands of lives and livelihoods ?

3.Were the commuters at CST not doing their duty waking up every morning at 5 and working the whole day to feed their families and send their kids to school ?

4.Was I not doing my duty waking up at 4 in the morning,leaving behind my kids still sleeping as I always do when going on tour,meeting business associates through the day and prepairing for the meetings the next day.

Let’s not make too much of it and get the record straight.

The deal is quite simple.In a society everyone does his bit to keep the ball rolling and no ones sacrifice is less than that of the other.We share the resources so that all of us can live together ….in peace.If you pay a third of what you make every month to mafia even they will give you a guarentee of safety and free enterprise.The government,the babus and the police have become masters and we have becoem their slaves conviniently forgetting that it is we who pay for their bungalows,their cars with flashy red and blue lights,their security and even sending their kids to foreign universities to do their MBA’s which cost a fortune.

Unless we remind ourselves of the status we will be forced to live a life of fear and humilation again , again and again.Sometimes by terrorists by mostly by these monsters.No roads…we are silent,No water …. we are silent.No electricity … we are silent.Traffic Jams….we are silent.Financial Scams… we are silent.When they have failed you on every other count you must be nuts to imagine they they are guarding you through the day and night.

Listen to Bob Marley ” Get up stand Up,stand up for your right,Get up stand up,don’t give up the fight”

Peer parbat si ho chlali hai pighalni chahiye

Is himaley se koi Ganga nikalni chahiye

Aaj yeh Deewar pardon ki tarah hilne lagi

Shart yeh hai magar buniyaad hilni chahiye

Mere seene mein nahin to tere seene main sahi

ho kahin bhi aag lekin Aag Jalni Chahiye

Jai Hind !