Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stop cribbing about the system

People call themselves social activists and sympathize with a number of causes - violent and non-violent, lost and raging. I have one question - does anyone here have the guts or the spine to contest an election, win it and be righteous? U can call the system rotten, but can you change the system? Is there one leader or an individual who will stand up and say I will be honest? Why must a politician always be a social activist who is poor, wearing a khadi kurta? If common good and individual good dont converge, is it right for us to expect honesty, from politicians, from civil servants? Is it not true that I make more money than a district collector or my local MLA, atleast in terms of salary? Is it not true that he is supposed to be more intelligent and a better manager than me? We can call the Maoists right or wrong, but we have created them and impassioned cries of support will only stoke violence. Change the system. Create a social movement. Dont bargain for slices of mango, dont write poetry, dont sing songs, but show the examples. Set an example within the smallest social unit - the family and the extended family. Isolate an uncle or a cousin or a parent who is corrupt, dont marry his daughter, dont invite him for family functions. Treat a corrupt individual like a leper in the 18th century. Let him goad his money and eat it and make love to it and rot away. Is this way too much to ask or too long to read?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Life & Organizations

It gives immense satisfaction to do something for yourself. When this something you do for your good is also your favorite thing to do in life, things get so demystified. Then we slowly start getting better, improving our work everyday, striving to achieve perfection. The difference lies in loving the work, just as play or rest is enjoyed, just like how a book or a movie is relished. If work be like a hobby, then the world will be a quiet retreat and not some drab shitty noisy city. Every other kind of work is just a trade off for an easy life. There is no human component in things we do at work. We regularly double cross, gossip, quarrel and destruct each other in the name of our management theories. Why were Porter or Drucker ever born or elevated to their exaltedness? They have caused this systematic vanquishing of human values. Manipulating leaders, selfish employees, untrusting organizations, control (manipulation) mechanisms, transactional rewards. Throw out human values, morals and intentions, and we have the perfect professional organization. All management theory is based on theory X. people don’t want to work and they have to be made to work. For God’s sake, the problem is that so many people think their job sucks.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Smarting Smartness

There is always a smarter way of doing it.

We hear this statement from so many quarters nowadays. What this implies is that there are multiple ways of doing anything, and there is one way that is smarter than all other ways.

The smartest way of doing something is not necessarily the optimal way of doing it by any means.

The smartest way could not always be the way you like it to be done. A person could still choose to do it the way he wants and likes to do it, according to his own set of likes, dislikes, morals and principles, at the peril of being called a simpleton and slowy snively goose.

The optimal way of doing something is not always the smartest, and not always the most likeable way of doing it.

In today’s world , being street smart is being thought of as mandatory. Else there are a hundred people around to con you. But don’t you lose goodness as much as you are smarter? What is the future for people who talk the truth / tell what they feel ? For people who don’t understand pulling the strings ? For people who cant even bargain on the streets? What is fair? And where is faith? – Facebook wall of a friend.

Smartness = 4 x intellectual giftedness
Street Smartness = 4 x intellectual giftedness + personal social emotional factors

Smartness is intellectual giftedness. Intellectual ability to think through a given situation or problem and then find the best way of doing it. The best way to do it could be the most optimal way or the most selfish way of doing it. But the smartest way will be the way that is most beneficial to somebody.

This is what makes smartness differ from street smartness. PSE – personal social emotional factors.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Was driving down to Madurai from Erode. My car has just an FM radio receiver. So I had to listen to whatever Kodai FM, Kodaikanal was playing at that time.

This is one of the many times when I have been left to the mercy of this radio station. Usually the songs played are ones one wouldn’t hear in the normal course of time. With no offence meant to their DJs, the programs are more or less boring.

Then there is this program at 10 am – a debate on simple topics – with views put forward on a topic by the laymen of Tamil Nadu’s hinterland. The moderator is a professor, who tries to make the arguments sound simple than what the respondents put forth originally.

Today’s topic was “Does comparison of oneself to others lead to good or bad?” The topic seemed fairly innocuous for me at the beginning of the drive. The respondents to this debate will be the grocery shop owners, men who run telephone booths, unemployed people, farmers, etc.

But when the arguments started flowing in, I was amazed at the quality of the responses. The ideas expressed were original with a very good mix of real life, cinematic, lyrical and inspirational allegories.

One person from an unknown village near Kodumudi, Erode put forth the following argument:

“comparing oneself with others makes one lose his/her individuality”

This I think is the essence of the whole discussion. He was referring to the moderator as “ayya”. He told the moderator that he was just a 10th standard pass out, running a small grocery shop. Intellect is not dependent on education and social upbringing. It is imbibed through something other than mere institutions.

When I posted this in 2007 in this blog, one of my friends commented thus:

“In fact I would say education, at least the form that we went through actually kills any leftover intellect”.

Intellect is the thought process distilled to crisp. Intellect is the one drop of ocean water that contains unobtanium that can fuel a space ship for 2 billion light years, that drop that is quarried from countless others insignificant. Intellect is the force of consciousness, purified by truth. Intellect is not something that comes on Monday and leaves the next Monday. Intellect is the basis of man’s natural superiority in the world order. Intellect is why we are the top of the food chain. Intellect creates art, inventions, revolutions, books and thoughts. Intellect builds our moral strength. Intellect creates the plane on which we transact with the world, the playing field of thoughts and emotions.

Intellect includes traits such as creativity, personality, character, knowledge and wisdom. Intellect is a property of the mind, which actualizes our abstract thought, reasoning, planning and problem solving, use of language, and learning.

People differ from each other in their capability to understand ideas, abstract thinking, adapting to environments, reasoning in various forms and importantly solving problems through thought. Intellect is never consistent and can not be linear or equal in measure. So a person’s intellectual capability will vary on different times, different problems and different environments, when the criteria for measurement vary. While a poet will be measured for his works’ beauty and flow, so the scientist for his truth, precision and proof.

Dr. Howard Gardner – “To my mind, a human intellectual competence must entail a set of skills of problem solving — enabling the individual to resolve genuine problems or difficulties that he or she encounters and, when appropriate, to create an effective product — and must also entail the potential for finding or creating problems — and thereby laying the groundwork for the acquisition of new knowledge”.

The essence of all definitions I found in wikipedia is this:

Intellectual capability is how effectively an individual deals with cognitive complexities that arise out of the problems he encounters, work he wants to create, knowledge he needs to gain to solve, explain and create.

Intellect is the agent that triggers the intellection in the mind, the force that moves the potential to actual.

When the early Greeks and Indian philosophies likened intellect to God, modern empirical theories have evidently made it a much simpler cognitive function, which it is. So intellect and intellectual capability have become the basis of all consciousness and our standing in nature, because these 2 terms represent our capability to create other than what we get from earth and our capability to determine what happens in and on earth and in the future what happens in other earths.

Our education has depended on memory and not on cognition. Cognition for children stops with outside the school. How does he learn to use a PC? Somewhere we have oversimplified education to black and white, to suit 100 children in a classroom and 100 million children in the country. Our system doesn’t have the time to let children think through problems. Education, from training to intellection, has become the domain of people who don’t want to believe that education is just these 3 words in spirit and 3 more in action care, fairness and dedication.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A something for today

When the Innocent collapsed
Under the white sky and
For the last time they breathed
The Earth’s womb shook and
Sorrow tore every root
Melancholy were the winds
Silent were the rains
Dark mountains brooded none
Angelic bells rung never more
Love was denounced forever
Archangels were doomed
As was the common man
And silent alleys roam dark
And forever damned souls
Writing grating requiems
And gruesome bawdy odes
Over dead love, long gone.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A well trained street dog

I was driving back to Pondy after meeting a client in a place called Rettanai, a very remote village. I was crossing the GST road and stopped at a place called Kooteripattu X Road for some refreshment.

I had stopped at a typical road side transit point shop. Everything about the shop was temporary, including the coin phone box and the ice box. I was smoking and having a Coke, when it started raining very heavily. A policeman ran into the shade of this shop for shelter and so did a dirty looking dog. The space was enough for the four of us - The shopkeeper, the policeman, I and the dog.

The dog was the shopkeeper’s friend and kept brushing itself against him. I could see that he was hungry.

I decided to buy a Tiger biscuit packet and give him some biscuits. I opened the pack and when I offered him the biscuit, he wouldn’t take it at all. He turned away at first, and when I walked around and put the biscuit near his snout, he sort of pushed it away and turned away again.

The shopkeeper decided to intervene. He asked the dog to eat and then he started accepting my biscuits and wagging tails at me. We finished with the biscuits and he just went off to a corner of the tarpaulin enclosure and sat on his haunches.

This is exemplary behavior and highest discipline, and coming from a street dog, it bowled me over completely. I was asking the shopkeeper how long he knew the dog, and the reply was 6 months. The dog would have been an adult when he started patronizing the shop. Then where, how and when was he trained? Why did he become a street dog? Did he run away? Was he abandoned? Did he lose his way somehow?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Schooling or What???

They say all men are not made equal. Someone is better than many others and many others are better than most others. There is no state of not comparing in man’s life; there are highs, lows, gradients. There are sometimes small plateaus, but with sheer drops.

As part of my work, I visit and work with schools in urban and rural places. I see children trudging along in monotony, ennui and fear in many many places. Usually the schools that are looked up to in their town are the ones where children are at an unwarranted low. Children need not go through the stress at their age, to simply learn. The parents want the child to learn and develop, the school wants the child to put up a great show – at home and in the tests/exams, but what does the child want?

Children want to learn too, but without being pressurized, threatened and being abused for their personality type. Though no child can tell this like I have said, all the child wants is to have a good time at school while they grow up to be like its father or mother – good, responsible and successful.

In the traditional schooling system in India, children are classified as:
a. The Highly Intelligent – prepares for his classes, never misses an assignment, quick fire in answers, top five ranks in the class, very good memory
b. The Hard Workers – prepares for class, asks doubts, never misses an assignment, is good at recalling answers and usually a very good memory
c. The SO SO Children – usually score first class, but struggle and are quiet in class
d. The Weak Children – fail or just pass cases

The a & b types are personality types that pick up stuff by just listening and reading. They are not dependent on the school for their education, but the school is dependent on them to produce “results” and maintain the status of the school.

The c & d types are different personality types who can’t pick up concepts by just listening, reading and memorizing. They form the bulk of the school’s roster, usually from 40% to 60%. They really need their schooling to accommodate their alternative or majority learning personality. They need their schooling to prepare them for life, for competition and to become good people. Their needs are being ignored continuously, by the theory that every child is the same, (if he can score, why cant you?) and that schools are trying to produce engineers and doctors only, and not human beings.

Let us look at the typical learning experiences of the type c& d school children.

a. He is slow in the class, is usually undisciplined, could be hyperactive and/or neurotic, gets physically and mentally abused for being like this, doesn’t score marks, is continuously lying, hiding.
b. He is picking up learning experiences continuously outside school. He is good at cycling, mobile phones, computers, making clay models, etc. He is better than the a & b types in many things that may be required to be successful in life.
c. He comes to school out of fear for the parents, is going through schooling in fear for the teachers, marks and abuses, and is living through life in fear of abandonment and ostracization.
d. He may have never or seldom gone through a moment of enlightenment in school, even if he has, he won’t divulge it.

If a school makes 1 million in a year, the types c & d contribute 0.6 million, yet they are not addressed. It is a sad state of affairs with parents ignoring their unique child’s needs for the more glamorous “marks” and “career”. Nearly all c & d type children get psychologically malformed due to their schooling.

I have defined the types of children taking cues from how children are actually assessed in school. Many or most people believe that any other method of classification is impractical, blasphemous and sometimes even immoral. It is the fixated practicality of adults that is spoiling our future generations for us.