Saturday, December 08, 2007

Big Dreams... Big Principles

22nd Feb 2007,
It was the day when I had to pay the fees for my admission into Welingkar. I finished off the formalities somewhere around 2 in the afternoon and decided to take a cab to Siddhivinayak temple.

I hailed a cab outside the college campus and the driver agreed to go to the temple. He was a young man somewhere in the late 20's. I chose to sit in the front seat. Before riding off, he took a long look at the college building and then drove off. After about couple of minutes, he asked me...

Driver: Sir, Is this an office?
Me: Nope, this is a college.
Driver: Wah !! This is the first time, I am seeing people dressing up so decently in the college.

I laughed and said...

Me: Yes, This is a management college... Sometime people move around in formals.
Driver: Ok, When do people take admission in this college... Is it after school?
Me: No, First you have to complete your pre-degree and then a degree course and then, the management course.
Driver: Sir, after this where do people get job?
Me: Once people pass out, they might go in for big companies and work in higher positions as managers.
Driver: (laughs) I didn't know that these managers also go to study.
Me: Yeah, it's like that.
Driver: So you mean, after someone do a course from this college, he is sure to become a manager?
Me: Most do, not all.
Driver: What are the salaries of a manager... ?
Me: Depends upon the company... Some pay in lakhs and if you pass off from really colleges, you earn in crores.
Driver: (he slowed down the car and looked at me and speeds again) My goodness.

He was quiet for sometime. I guess, pondering over something...

Driver: What are the fees to get into such colleges?
Me: I said... Depends on the college. On an average it costs... 2-3 lakhs minimum.
Driver: Oh.. OK

He was quiet for the rest of the ride. As I came near my destination, I asked him..

Me: Initially you were talking a lot. What happened?
Driver: Sir, I was thinking of getting my son to pass out from a management college. I don't want him to continue working like me as a Taxi driver.
Me: Ok, How old is you son?
Driver: He is just 4 yrs old. I still have time. I was thinking on how to save money for his education. What ever I do, I will work hard for it.

I was shocked... This man, is thinking way ahead. I felt amazed and pity for that fellow. When I reached my destination, the charges were Rs 36/-. I gave him 4 tenners and asked him to keep the change. He digged into the pocket and handed me the change. I said...

Me: Keep it, think that it is from me for your son. Buy him something from me.
Driver: Sir, I will only keep and buy anything from what I earn. If you dont want it, then drop it in the donation box.
He smiled back at me and thanked me. I took the change and saw him driving off. I was amazed by the self respect that the man showed. He is one of the rare breed of men that you would get in a tough city like Mumbai. A man who would eat the bread he earn. A man with strong principles. Its tough for a man like him to earn and run a family and tougher to sustain in a city like Mumbai.

It doesn't matter how big position you work in your organization, its these human values that really matters.

I went into the holy sanctum with that Rs 4 still in my hand... I dropped it in that box and that day I chose not to be selfish and prayed for that Taxi Driver. May his dreams come true.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Some Myths cleared...

It was Sunday morning, I woke up to see thats its already 7:45am. I shot up from my bed and quickly did all my morning drills 'coz the time is running out. I was getting late for the 8:20am vasai local for my class. I hurriedly had my breakfast, packed my bag and also tucked in Shantaram by Gregory Robert David book so that I can read while on my way to the college in the train. I threw my bag on my shoulder and sprang out of my house. I briskly walked to the main road and asked started looking out for a rick to the station... preferably platform 1. Crap !!! No picks around.. finally I saw one speeding towards me.. Shit, it was full. Then another one, it was full too. I saw my watch, 7 min more... The third one has only 3 passengers. It stopped ahead of me and shared the front seat with the driver. While on my way to the station, I was cursing the other ricks for being full. Bump !! a pothole... I cursed the municipality. Then a traffic cop signalled and our rickshaw stopped. He let the vehicles pass by, I cursed him too. I checked my watch, crap.. just 3 more min. As soon as the rick was at my stop, I paid the driver exact fare and jumped out of the rick... My watch says 1 min more.. I hurriedly ran towards the station. I was running and dodging all the people who came in between. A middle aged marathi man saw me and yelled at me "Abbe... Shatrang khel raha hai kya ?? ". which means, Why was I playing chess on the road. He wasn't wrong because of the way i was cutting and crossing paths of the people around. i admit that it was a scarstic humour. I didnt feel like laughing but it certainly did bring down my pace. As soon as i got into the train, it started off. Phew !!! I settled down at a seat whereever i could find one and took some time to gather myself and get back on track.

After about 15 min, I opened up Shantaram and began reading the story about Linbaba treating a labour's wound. He mentioned in one of the para that Indians never thank, but instead show their thankfulness by returning a favour. Smile was on my face, I put down the book and my thought revolved around that statement. For a moment, I was proud that I am an Indian. Just then, 2 people started talking. I chose to overhear them. They both were middle aged and looked to me some some kind of those govt servant types. They indeed were.. One was working with the BMC and the other one was a Police Constable. When I heard that, i started having a feeling of hatred towards them in my mind. it was because, we have a notion, that the BMC do no work and never clean up the gutters and the Police, harassing the common citizens is their only motto.
These were their chats

Constable: howz your work going on?
BMC: Yes, we are gearing up for the monsoon. we have already covered most of the places, but then there is still work left in some areas.

I thought.. yeah, now they wake up.

BMC: These mediawale, they potray us in a negative manner. Public has a very bad picture of us. When we do something good for a ward, we are not rewarded at all, but if something goes wrong, we are in the front page of the morning newspapers. If they papers have no story to print, they dig up any of our past mismanagements and print it. At times, its very demoralising. Our boss tells us that if I dont find BMC in the newspapers, thats an achievement in itself.

After hearing this the cops smiled.

BMC: Really, if you cant be in the limelight for a good reason, atleast do not be for the wrong reason. when we are not on the papers, its an achievement in itself. We are handling a city of over a million people. You would know how this is.

After hearing this, the cop paused for a moment, took gathered himself and started speaking.

Cop: Yes, I agree. Similar things happen to us too. When More raped a girl, the media potrayed, that all the cops are nymphomaniacs. When, Daya was arrested, it was like as if we all have underground links. Nobody sees that we work minimum 15 hrs a day. Many at times we just prevent a crime from happening and no one notices it. When these VIP visits our city, they become our second wife. We do not return home for weeks together. Some sleep in ACs with girls of their daughters ages while we guard their home. When they are around, we do not even get a chance to eat rotis cooked by our wife. Now since there is monsoon, we would be busy with this. Then there is Ganpati, then the Navratri and then Ramzan and then Diwali. Followed by Christmas and New Year. Then after about 3 months we have the summer. We do our duty under the hot sun. Life is a mess over here.

He continued...

Cop: We have a lady constable who joined our force 3 years back. Her family had prayed that when she would get a job in the Maharashtra Police, they would start keeping a Ganpati at home for 10 days. But whenever there is Ganesh Chaturthi around, she is on a 15 days duty guarding a mandal. For the past 3 years she has not seen the Ganpati at her home. We work in a continuous shift for days together. When we are on a bandobast or out of our chowkies, we have the liberty to find a corner and pee, but what could these women do. We men can manage, but what do these women officers do.

I was speechless...

Cop: When these terrorists give our city a guest appearance, our life becomes a shit. Chowkies are our second home. I would not encourage my kids to join the police force. We are extremely short of man power. I am not sure why these mantris are hesitant to fill up the vacant posts. Our job is thankless one.

I felt ashamed. I just did not wish to hear any more. I was finding it difficult to digest whatever they spoke till now. Shantaram might have come across many good people, but am sure he must have never met the people who were with me in the train. Yes, we Indians are thankless, but we prefer to show our gratitude by returning a favour when needed. I feel, we might have missed these people out. I feel we have forgotten to thank them for the work that they do for our city. Just imagine, what if the cops go on a one day strike. Maybe we refuse to see other than what is shown to us by the media. I wouldn't blame the media for the shit they are in, but its we who encourage them to print. This incident made me respect people for the job that they do. I have stopped cursing them... I really felt the need to show some empathy before judging another person. Whenever you look around, there are better people around you than you.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Inclusive growth and Corporate Social Responsibilities

This morning, while I was sitting at a bench in my bldg, lost in a thought. Just then an old lady from our bldg walked towards me and sat beside me. I warmly greeted her and began enquiring about her health. She said that she was fine, but her kids are worrying her more than her health.

To give a brief background about her family, she is a Gujarati lady from Surat settled in Mumbai after getting married. Her husband expired some 20 years back. He worked as a sales man. He always struggled and managed to meet his family needs. When he died, her eldest son, Manish, was 14 years old and Bhavin, the youngest one was 10. Manish had just completed his SSC and was planning to persue HSC in commerce. Due to the catastrophe in his family, he choose to abondon his plan for further studies and start to work so that he can help his mother run the family. They did have their cousin's help for sometime, but then how long would they survive on that. He and his mother worked hard and helped Bhavin to complete his engineering. After completing his engg, Bhavin got a cool job in an infotech firm. He worked there for a couple of years and got married. Bhavin was a hard working fellow and due to his work, the company had sent him for an overseas assignment. He stayed in US for 2 years and is now back in town. While Bhavin had a good career growth all along, his brother still suffered. He got married before Bhavin went to the US. Manish was just an SSC passout. He remained a small time salesman like his father and would manage to gather some more money through his side business as an insurance agent. Though they were not enough to live a luxery life, but it was reasonably good enough to run a family of 3 comfortably.

Aunty continued telling me, when Bhavin came back from the US, all we wanted him is to get married. Even Bhavin wanted the same. He readily agreed. He is now buying a new house, a big one, a 3BHK. Aunty was happy as she would get a chance to leave the chawl and move on to a bigger house where Manish and Bhavin would stay together with their own wife and kids. That was what Aunty had wished all along. But her happiness was short lived. When Bhavin told them that he would want him to stay in that house alone with his wife and kids. He said that he has bought the house with his money. He wont be getting anything in inheritance from his parent. Whatever he is now is earned by him.

Aunty was very upset with all these. Manish abondoned his further studies so that Bhavin could move ahead in life and would earn for them. Aunty and Manish did everything for Bhavin so that in future Bhavin would look after aunty atleast. But it didn't turn out that way.

I was hearing what aunty and was really upset over Bhavins attitude. She advised me not to do this to my mother and my father. Our talk broke when Manish wife came out and aunty went to the market along with her.

I climbed the stairs of my building to get back home. I was really shocked and really surprised with Bhavins behaviour. How could a well educated graduate could do this to his own family. It was terrible. Aunties problem had occupied my head till I reached home and sat down to read the newspaper.

The headline of the newspaper talked about our PM Manmohan Singh appeal to the corporate world to now work towards 'inclusive growth'. The Corporate world should now work with the government to help the poor and the under previleged. The haves must now help and work for the have-nots. Initially there were opposition from the Corporate world. A thought crossed my mind. Isn't this similar to aunties problem. Here the govt had implemented policies for the Indian industry to grow rapidly and expand globally. The economies are growing and flourishing like never before. The urban India is growing. But the backward class are not benefitting it by anyway. The poor, old and the under previleged are being ignored in this growth race. All what the govt had asked was to help them for a common cause. The time has come now to include the have-nots in the growth and expansion. You just cannot ignore them in the race. After all we are Indians representing India globally. This should be treated as a part of Corporate Social Responsibility. Something which the young and dynamic Indian industry should incorporate in itself.

Lets face it, we have dependended on the govt for the last 60 years for the growth of the backward class. The effort were not that fruitful. The industry were on the growth pattern in the last decade. It would be good that the corporate bodies would also chip in and help the govt in this cause. Imagine, what would be the state of Manish and Aunty 10 years down the line. What was their fault, just that Manish and aunty helped Bhavin to grow and prosper. Is this they way how they should be treated? Is this the way the under developed should be treated?

As an individual, we cannot make a big impact when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility. Believe me, we do not own the TATAs, Birlas, Mahindras and the Ambanis. We can hardly make a difference. But since this huge growth has benefitted us with big pay packet, we can donate some amount to any of the reputed charitable organizations working for a genuine cost that we would like to support. What we earn will remain on this earth. Why dont we just keep the amount that we need and donate the rest to the people, maybe 2% - 5% of our annual salary. Instead of donating, sponsor a child for his school or college education. Does that take too much of your time?

Instead of giving economic benefits to companies building or occupying SEZs, why dont the govt provide benfits to the organizations promoting CSRs? This would surely attract Industry's attention on this.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tribute to Koushambi Layek

It was a hard day at Job Hunting. I was really tired after a walk in at an MNC. Before going back home, I took some time out to have a cup of tea at a nearest restaurant. While I was going through the papers, I was reading the article on Koushambi Layek's murder. It apparently described the incident as to what happened at the murder night.

While I was reading through, I saw two fat middle aged ladies dressed in Saree walked into the restaurant. They looked to me like a gossip mongers exactly as we see in the movies. They took the table beside me. One of them saw me reading the article and then began their gossip mill as soon as they sat down. My cup of tea was served. I closed the newspaper and started sipping the tea. I could help stop over hearing the two ladies talk. Their talk did not sympathizes Koushambi at all. They began talking of her character. That pissed me off. Dunno why, but I felt like telling them... "Ladies, Mind your own business. Wonder how clean your children are? It was her own life. She was the best judge as to what she want to do. It was her personal life." I pitied Koushambi. She was apparently cheated and killed by her lover.

I stopped hearing their gossip and began thinking what went really wrong. None of the two were celebrities, nor they were kids to any influential parents. Why did it get to the papers at the first place. Nobody would want the world know that something bad has happened to their lives. I really didn't know. I began cursing the press and the media for making her private life open to all. But then, could it be a blessing in disguise? Since it is open to all, this case would be thoroughly investigated into. Hope this case don't get lost like the others.

After giving it a thought, all I can hope and pray is that justice is served to Koushambi. Hope this case is thoroughly investigated into. God give her family and friends the strength and courage to bear this loss. May her soul rest in peace.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Karmic rewards

In a typical Indian mentality, we look upon people on the basis of religion/caste etc first. Parents would prefer to marry off their kids to a person of the same caste, People would love to have neighbours of their similar culture. People prefer hanging out with Rich friends etc. But I am confused over one thing. What is supreme... Caste, Creed, Religion or Money??? Why do people prefer these instead of looking at the individual.

My personal belief is that a persons KARMA is more important that his DHARMA.

What would you prefer -

  • To marry off your daughter who is a dunkard, jobless youth of your caste OR to her love who is kind hearted, respected youth, who would keep her happy for the rest of her life.
  • Doing business with a spend thrift man who has inherited wealth from his hard working father OR a hard working struggling individual who believe in giving quality work.

It sux to hear when people take decisions without looking at the individuals ability.