Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jan Chetna Yatra: A Fiasco in Making

The Jan Chetna Yatra by Shri L. K. Advani, flagged today from the State I am currently sitting in, could not have come at a more inappropriate time, promising to damage the BJP’s image and prospects to a large extent. It is startling that the person who had spent 90% of his time in the opposition benches (Narendra Modi, 2011) is capable of making such an erroneous political move. By positioning his proposed thirty eight days yatra as a means to initiate mass awareness and mass mobilization in order to create new awakening against corruption and black money (Narendra Modi, 2011), the veteran leader has completely miscalculated the impact of such a move. Let us utilize Porter’s Generic Strategies to deconstruct the aptness of this yatra by the supposed Prime Minister-in-wating.

To the un-initiated, Porter’s Generic Strategies (Porter, 1985) constitutes three approaches to position an institution with respect to its competitors in order to be competitively viable. The term “generic” was used by Porter for he argues that the approaches are applicable across products and services of institutions of any size. The three approaches are:

(1)Cost leadership i.e. no frills

(2)Differentiation i.e. creation of uniquely desirable products and services

(3)Focus i.e. offering of specialized services in niche market

On viewing critically the Jan Chetna Yatra, which can be viewed as just another platform (read ‘product’) in offering to the Indian public, seasoned by now to fight corruption wars on the street, I argue that primarily the BJP has failed to differentiate itself from the just concluded and still talked about scuffle between Anna Hazare and the Government. Advani’s words in Sitabdarai, “I am confident that the steps to fight against corruption, be it Lokpal, black money, will be taken up in the coming session of Parliament” (Advani, 2011), falls flat against the antics of Team Anna who literally made the Government burn the midnight oil. I feel sorry to note that over time, the opposition in our democracy has also been reduced to a position, with mindless criticisms emerging now and then that contribute more to decibels than ring a warning bell. The BJP ought to go back to drawing board and think of something different. Innovation does enhance visibility if not acceptance, and the BJP which been living long under the shadows of its former self as well as activists like Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, needs to rechristen itself and actually live for the Bharatiya Janta (Indian People) which it so proudly proclaims. Parroting Anna & Co. shall ruin the Congress but shall not bring the BJP to power.

Having argued above that the Jan Chetna Yatra is nothing but the old wine in new bottle, it is imperative that we look at the means employed for the desired end. Shri Advani shall traverse the length and breadth of the country through a rathor chariot which in fact is a bus that has been reconfigured by the ace vehicle designer Dilip Chhabria at a workshop in Pimpri, near Pune (Deshpande, 2011). Although the BJP top brass has maintained a stoic silence on the amenities available in the chariot, yet history often repeats itself, and thus can be expected to repeat itself this time too. Back in 1990, when Chhabria had designed the chariot for Advani's yatra to mobilise support for the Ram temple in Ayodhya, air-conditioned rest room, public address system and a satellite TV system in the vehicle drew more crowds than the speeches (Deshpande, 2011). I would like to believe that the reconfigured vehicle had more to do then towards generating a favourable perception of people for the saffron party than the “Ramrajya” speeches. At least I was enamoured by the same. The vehicle spoke of a change that was drastically missing and frantically aspired for in 1990s. However 2011 needs a person who is untouched by opulence and steadfast in integrity. The Messiah must rise from the least prosperous and the most harassed. In the season of scams, he must have the least access to prosperity. Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev did fit the people’s image of a perfect leader, clean, courageous and communicative. Shri Advani with his fashionable rathshall be left alone in this battle to display the maximum frugality. The BJP has lost the focus. When the aam aadmi(ordinary citizen) has been denied the haath (hand) of Congress, which was promised in the elections, thanks to the unrestricted loot by its allies, the BJP ought to have come as an aam (ordinary) party. Impression management is a pre-requisite for effective management and knowledge and application of it always helps.

We need to be free of corruption and we shall be, but no thanks shall be due for the same to BJP or the Congress or to Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav who claimed that “Advani is spoiling the birth place of Jaya Prakash Narayan in Bihar” (Yadav, 2011). It is surprising that Laluji still points finger at other politicians post his public rejection in the 2010 Bihar elections. Anyways it is the nature of Indian politics: to bite without right. I believe that corruption has no institutional cure; rather corruption has been institutionally designed and is sustained till a hue and cry emerges from the least benefited party (or least corrupt party). Hence the cure is primarily contingent on individual refinement which is in turn contingent on the education one receives and never one’s attendance on a political juggernaut. Has the UPA or the BJP done enough on education? That shall be the subject of another blog.


1. Modi, Narendra (2011), ‘Full Text: Modi’s open letter on Advani’s Yatra’(retrieved fromhttp://ibnlive.in.com/news/full-text-modis-open-letter-on-advanis-yatra/191899-37-64.html, on 11.10.2011)

2. Porter, Michael E. (1985), Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, The Free Press: New York

3. Advani, Lal Krishna (2011), ‘Advani begins his yatra, criticises ‘corrupt’ UPA’(retrieved fromhttp://ibnlive.in.com/news/advani-blames-corrupt-upa-of-clinging-to-power/192091-37-64.html, on 11.10.2011)

4. Deshpande, Priyankka (2011), ‘Advani yatra set to roll today on made-in-Pune rath’(retrieved from http://www.mid-day.com/news/2011/oct/111011-pune-Advani-yatra-set-to-roll-today-on-made-in-Pune-rath.htm, on 11.10.2011)

5. Yadav, Lalu Prasad (2011), ‘Advani's yatra an insult to Bihar's land: Lalu’ (retrieved fromhttp://ibnlive.in.com/news/advanis-yatra-an-insult-to-bihars-land-lalu/191866-37-64.html, on 11.10.2011)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

To My Baba...

I came across this beautiful song-cum-lyrics while watching a serial. It so beautifully echoes my emotions for my Master.

Do listen:

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Conceptualization of Love

Purpose of the writing
Love has been often described as an elusive concept by many researchers and "practitioners". The above statement finds credence from the oft quoted statement on love : "Love is blind". However nothing stops us from taking a plunge into the depths of this phenomenon that is supposed to be the panacea of majority of the problems of mankind. If we can make an attempt to elucidate the dimensions of human love scientifically we can provide a face to this supposedly mysterious phenomenon. This article exactly aims to do so.

The conceptualization
Before I proceed, I wish to clarify that this articulation is limited to human love only. I define human love as any love expressed between humans, or between humans and inanimate/animate objects. Having established the purpose and limitation, I argue that human love can be thought of comprising three dimensions - affection, commitment and expectation. Below I make an effort in deducing the contents, span and scope of the three dimensions.

1- Affection: Affection can be defined as an affinity for some person/object on account of attraction for his/her/its origination or attribute(s). The definition is not as complicated as it sounds. Affinity can be understood of comprising of two basic dimensions i.e. attraction and attachment. Affection thus begins with attraction to some noted attributes of a person/thing which in turn leads to attachment. Apart from that sometimes affinity may also arise based on the origin of the object/subject or due to classification of object/subject to a certain cluster that is viewed favorably or in awe by the prospective lover.
2- Commitment: Commitment can be defined as an unchangable decision to stand by the object of love through thick and thin. If viewed critically, it can be observed that commitment can be decoded to consist of two dimensions - valuation and steadfastness. By valuation I mean the prospective lover values the object/subject of his/her affection over others. And by steadfastness I mean that the valuation does not decrease in absence of the attibutes that initally attracted the prosepective lover. If there is a fall in the stature of the object of love the prospective lover helps in stabilizing and then aids in ascent of the object to its previous level of glory. Thus commitment is one step ahead of affection in that it supports the maintenance of the loved attributes of the object of love.
3- Expectation: Though it is often advocated that love is selfless and the reward of love lies in loving, however I argue that expectation does charactrize love. In my opinion, human love is sustained by reciprocation. We need to see that we are wanted and the time and energy we bestow on the object of our love is valued. However what is the guideline for effective reciprocation? Its the expectation of the partner. Expectation serves as a lighthouse to guide us in our degree and type of reciprocation. It helps throw light on the needs and desires of the loved one and makes us reciprocate in defined appropriateness. Thus we define expectation as expected, desired and guided reciprocation.

Having established the dimensions of love, we can now make an attempt to define the same. Love can thus be characterized as an emotion that begins with attraction to some attributes, goes beyond it by displaying commitment and is sustained by fulfilled expectations. Hoping this shall give a guidance to structure our emotions and make love a productive and fulfilling endeavour.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Exported Netas-Lesson unlearnt

The Indian electorate and their political representatives have not learnt their lessons after sixty years of Independence. Now that the election jaggaurnaut has started rolling, it is really comical to see Netas being 'exported' from some region of the country to represent people in another region. 

What is the logic of one Sanjay Dutt from Mumbai fighting elections in Lucknow to represent it in Delhi? And one Azharrudin from Hyderabad to fight elections in Rajasthan? Is it not a joke of democracy? 

How aware is Mr. Dutt of the problems in Lucknow? Lucknow is literally an extended arm in the busy air route from Mumabi to Delhi which Mr. Dutt shall frequent. With all due respect to him, he must look forward to contest from a constituency where he is known for what he has done - Bombay. Public servce is best done after one is aware of the social problems first hand. And for that one must have roots in that particular place and society. Mr. Dutt do you belong to our society? Most of the electorate you wish to represent in the hallowed Parlaiment house will never have seen you personally other than the movies you acted in. Very few of them can afford the parties you go to and most of them are contented to lead a simple life. Learn something from your father who contested from Bombay the place where he built his career and represented the people whose day to day problems he was aware of. It shall do a world of good to this democratic drama that the nation is about to go through in a month's time. Or else its just a joke. 

And do the citizens have any right in deciding who shall stand in elections for them? How did the Samajwadi Party boil down on Sanjay Dutt? Did they ask the people of Lucknow before doing that? Will the Congress party ask the constituency in Rajasthan whether they agree to their choice of Azharruddin as their candidate? Lot of hue and cry is being raised over the inclusion of 'none of the above' in electronic voting machine in this election. However if looked at an economic point of view its a sheer waste of resources and time if at the end of all this activites one lands up with no result. This can be avoided if quality control is done right from the beginning and public opinion about their prefered representatives from every party is listened to . 

The silver lining in all this is the example of Ms Mallika Sarabhai, the famous danseuse and social activist. She is contesting from Gandhinagar constituency the place she was born, the place that she describes as 'karmabhoomi'. She is part of the people residing there breathing the same air they breathe and facing the same challenges they face, no more and no less. That is an example of principled politics. That is an example one must look up to. That is an example both the electorate and the political parties must derive lessons from. Mindless fielding of candidates shall do no good to the nation for the ultimate goal is standing up for the people in the Parlaiment which can be only accomplished if one is more aware of the problems of the people than preferences of one's parties. 

Its time we make our People Representation Act more specific and go beyond the usual criminlaization of politics. Till then its a wait and watch policy on the game plan of these exported netas. Amen!

Its deflation now !

Well it is really a revealation for me to witness inflation and deflation in a span of less than 12 months. I had heard about the deflation that had hit Japan in the 1990s termed as 'the lost decade' and also of the Great Depression of the 1930s yet in one case I was geographically constrianed and in another case I was constrained by time to have a feel of it. Now both of them have come to visit India and analysing the consequences of these is really giving me a good chance to apply my knowledge in decoding the consequences. 

Inflation has caused deflation
Well the first thing first. Inflation is the reason for the current deflation level. The price rise had actually made many goods and services inaccessible to the consumers. And the credit crunch initiated by the RBI to fight inflation has actually decresed the free money available to peopel to splurge. People have become more concerned about savings than expending. Hence demand for goods and servies had gone down over time. Thus manufacturers have started decresing the price of the goods and servies to coax people in buying there products. This causes deflation in the economy.

What are the consequences?
Manufacturers start to decrese prices for they see infront of them inventory piling up. Hence they need to dispose them of to at least break even. Hence they stop production for time being. Workers lose pay and the economy slumps further. Long term deflation may end in manufacturers firing employees since labour accounts for the highest cost of production in any industry. Thus long term deflation may result in unemployement. 

Since internal demand is low, exploration to harness and supply to external demand may increase. Hence exports may proliferate. However it is yet to be seen whether increase export can counter the effect of low consumption. This also differs on the prevailing foriegn exchange.

Where to invest?
Invest in industries where the demand will never cease to decrease. For eg. telecommunications and healthcare. Good returns is assured. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Logic for Compensation Package

The terror strikes on Mumbai has no doubt shaken the conscience of the nation. Our insecurity, vulnerability and level of reaction preparedness has left everyone wondering whether they had made the right choice in thrusting power in the hands of individuals who appear so self-obsessed in using the national property for personal benefit. Well the tragedy of self - obsession did not stop with the death of terrorists, but it went further when each politician went on announcing compensation packages for the brave officers. From where did they get so much money from? Then why these people were not taxed under the IT Act? And if its the public money they were donating, who granted them the authoirity to do so? And most importantly how did they arrive at the number they wish to grant? All this brings out a gaping hole in the compensation policy and therefore the motivation for this article. 

I want to give a simplistic mathematical model that will not only guide the politicians/leaders in arriving at a number that shall be in accordance with the action of the awardee but also make the package a transparent property that can be scrutinized logically by the public they represent. This way there is an enhancement of accountability and lucidity is induced in the compensation package system. 

Assumptions and scope
The model follows two primary assumptions. They are:
1- The operation involves the use of millitary or police personnel.
2- The awardee is killed in operation.

Variables identification
The falacy in the current compensation awarded by the Govt. or the politicians to be precise is that they are just a random amount spoken at the spur of the moment. So the intitial problem is to isolate and define some variables that must be borne in mind while awarding these compensation packages. I state them below:

1- Gain of operation [G]
This conatins two sub variables- the first sub - variable is the richest survivor at the end of operation. Well this is not to state that the poor need not be saved. Moreover while firing away the awardee will not be in a conscious position to determine and judge the economic state of the ones he will be saving. But to just give a tangible reward for his bravery, the richest survivor of the operation is taken to determine the value of the operation. I argue and state that half of the annual income of the richest survior must be awarded to honour the gallant personnel. This is because I have taken an implicit assumption that the money shall be deducted from the income of the richest survivor. So one must leave the survivor with some amount too. 

The second sub variable is the costliest property saved after the operation. This is self explanatory. If its a partially damaged building then property saved equals the complete property cost in current market price less the damaged part of the same. If its undamaged single undivided property, I argue the complete property price must be awarded. The logic is that the gallantry of the awardee has stopped the owner of the property from bearing renovation cost of the property to total loss of the same.

Hence on a whole it can be stated that compensation awarded is directly proportional to the gain in operation.

2- Time [T]
The third variable is "time of operation". Needless to say the higher the time of operation, the more the resources used and more liklihood of damage to life and property. According to experts, the response to an attack must be within 30 mins of the attack. Any reaction time that is greater than these stipulated 30 mins provides a double advantage to the attacker namely aiding in planning and grabbing strategic positions for engagement. Hence compensation package awarded must be invesely proportional to the square of time spent in operation. 

3- Family [F]
Last but not the least the survivors of the family of the awardee must be taken into account. They may have lost a family member who was an earning member. So the last drawn annual income of the slain personnel must be given  aggregated to the number of years left till another member of the family (preferably the child irrespective of sex) is able to support the family after completion of education. Usually this age can be taken as 25 years (taking cue from the ancient Ashrama stage that puts Bramhacharya ashram meant for education till age of 25 years). The logic is not to allow the standard of the family to depreciate in absence of the earning member. 

Mathematically speaking
Compensation is represented as C

1- C is directly propertional to G 
=> C is directly propertional to [ i/2 + (p - d)]; where i = the total income of the costliest survivor, p = total cost of property in current market price, d = damaged cost of property in current market price

2- C is inversely propertional to T (2) [ read it as T squared]

3- C is directly propertional to F
But F = (25 -n) x; where n = the current age of the eldest born, x = the annual income of the deceased at the time of death.
=> C is directly proportional to (25 - n) x

Therefore the final equation is: C = k [2p-2d+i][x(25-n)/t(2)]; k = constant

The constant k if analyzed in terms of units comes as time/Rs. It means the amount of time that is spent to generate a rupee in this country. So it can be argued that constant k = GDP  growth rate of the nation at the time of operation. 

A democracy survives when people are taken into confidence by the political class to win confidence. Hence a rational expnditure structure is a must for one is handling public money. So this is a small effort in my part to devise a model for compensation packages that our bravehearts so truly deserve. Criticisms to improve the model are welcome. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some Models for Dowry Calculation

This thought came while I was busy refuting a blogger whom I had met in the cyberspace through a common friend. She had written something about matrimonial ads and had bashed up mankind very unkindly through politically correct language. Added to that were some psychopaths who had boosted up her ego without a critical thought on her writting and made her believe that she was championing the cause of women. Well what followed in a nutshell was that I engaged myself in a debate with her and when she saw the ground beneath her slipping, she gave a few lectures to me on humilty and respect and vanished away with a huff! Well insecure people can never sell secure ideas. 

Anyway I dedicate this piece of writing to that very individual who provided the much in demand food for thought for these models to germinate in my cerebral space. 

Approach 1- An econometric model for dowry calculation
Problem definition: Marriage can be defined as a transaction of goods, services and emotions between partners.
The variables for transaction and the means to measure them: Three variables I am taking for defining transactions - goods, services and emotions.
1- Emotions can be measured as EQ of each partners and a correlation of them can be entered in the model

2- Services can be measured as the "number of trips/month" to finalize the match. In affection marriages its usually very high since lot of convincing stuff to make the families agree has to take place

A note on affection marriage - The term affection marriage has been coined by me to define what is called as love marriage by the blind-in-love mortals. This is because these love marriages are the ones which provides the fodder for the numbers to swell up the divorce registers. My question is, "Can love end?" After lot of debates and arguments with self and critically observing such affairs (I mean that word!) I arrived at a conclusion - "That love can end if its done with a reason. Anything that is done with a reason ends with a reason." But love is reason-less. And hence what is prevalent before us is affection marriage in the garb of love marriage. I define affection marriage as a time bound emotional contract that builds up between two individuals for a tangible reason. 

3- Goods we can keep as a question. Rather we shall discover how much dowry one must pay to keep the marriage working.

4- This can be regressed against the "nember of years one wants to stay in the marriage" which can be measured as "anniversary".
Equation: Anniversary = y + EQ + no. of trips/month + Goods to be given ( y = intercept).
This way one can calculate the goods or dowry one has to give/take scientifically.
Approach 2- An alternative appraoch
This model is a different way to look at the problem of dowry.
Again keeping the same variables as defined previously.....
 1- Anniversary is directly proportional to higher correlation of EQ scores. - This is pretty logical I guess and no need of any explanation.
2- Anniversary is inversely proportional to service exchanged. Now service exchange is defined as no. of trips/month made by partners to satisfy families to agree to their union. Hence this leads to emotional drain and hence emotional loss. Many times they have to abandon their plans and an "affection marriage" fails to initiate. I want to clarify this more. It may happen that the partners may not marry at all to anyone in their lifetime resisting the resistance. But thats beyond the scope of the model. The assumption is the partners do eventually marry each other. It follows the success-only criterion.
3- Anniversary is directly proportional to goods or dowry given/taken. I take a more economic standpoint here. More the dowry got, more the spending/purchasing power of the husband for the wife and hence less percieving of the wife as an economic burden.
So the equation becomes: Anniversary = k X EQ X months/trip X goods
Facts abt equation (units): k = constant, EQ = no units, trip = measured in kms., goods = measured in Rs (lakhs), Anniversary = years
So k's unit is km/Rs (lakhs) (since year and month cancel each other !)
I define "k" as the "mile-age constant of a marriage"; and its implications I give below. 
As one can see, if the denominator, that's goods, increases, the mileage constant decreases, i.e. the distance between the guy and girl (physical and assumed to be emotional) decreases with every extra rupee spent; it means the guy and the girl are ready to bear anything and stay on since a huge cost has been involved. So high dowry marriages are "stable", stability again being defined purely based on no. of years spent together. No taking into account of emotions.
Mile age constant has to be decreased for marriage to last - thats the thesis. So one more way  to decrease the "k" is to decrease number of trips. It happens if parents are cooperative and realize marriage is the business of two individuals and all they have the role is to felciliate the union. Hence dowry asked is decreased too. Such marriages are stable provided the EQ of the individuals have a high correlation and assumed not to change over time.
Societal implications of the current model:
1- A database of mile-age constants of all marriages in every community and caste can be made. This shall help us in calculating the dowry needed. Hence this shall fecilitate an advance planning by parents.
2- If it is an "affection-marriage", well the parents can actaully calculate the trade-off and hence based on the demand and desire can control the number of trips made by the parties for convincing them
3- The partners can actually calculate their years of togetherness and this shall motivate them to stay along and hence may increase the potential stability of marriage by making them submit to each other and hence understand each other better.

Approach 3- Dowry viewed as economic asset by the groom's family
Family A will get a bride from family B.
The dowry must be calculated based on the most sensitive expenditure of a family that will be affected on getting another girl. Hence according to me its food. Hence one must calculate the avg. monthly expenditure of food of Family A, say "x"
Marriage is nothing but can be viewed as transferring of one individual from one house to another permanently assuming the marital status to be infinite. Hence the monthly expenses on food for Family B can be calculated, say "y". Let the family mambers in this family be "a". So "y" can be leveraged on these family members for simplicity. So its "y/a" on the girl for share of expenditure.
Dowry is nothing but transferring this "y/a" from Family B to Family A aggregated to the number of years the marital bond lasts.
Now the life expectancy for men is 70 years in India (according to WHO report, 2006) and 67 for women. So marriage shall last till both the partners are alive and this is again assuming the bond is infinite and not broken by discord.
People marry in modern India at the age of 25 years minimum. So marriage lasts for 42 years.
Hence dowry to be paid = y/a X 12 X 42 rupees.
This is scientific way of determining again the dowry to be paid and has utility value rather than the show off value.
A Note and some concluding comments 
Dowry was never meant to be a contribution to the family's expenditure. Actually there is no justification of people asking such huge amounts. The incremental increase in family's expenses thanks to coming of a girl into its fold is very less compared to the wealth exchanged in name of dowryDowry is rather a show of power of individuals to society about the quality of life they are leading. Hence marriages are such expensive affairs. But if you look critically you shall see what we call marriage is actually chanting of a few mantrams and tying a knot. Throw in some new pairs of clothes for the couple. Its darn simple ceremony. Just blown into bits by the show-off. Personally I will love to marry in a court.

I am against dowry and so are many. But yet the system still exists. As a scientist, I love working with reality and not idealism . So refrain from judgements unlike my friend to whom I have dedicated this piece. 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The US Financial Crisis - How am I affected?

Well people this is a small attempt on my part to make the financial crisis going on rationally explainable to the common man. Trust me, none of us are immune to it. 

To start with lets remember the fundamental of business is transaction and is explained by the barter system which is nothing but exchanging goods needed and of utility value between two parties or persons. Now money is also a type of 'goods'. The importance of money lies in the fact that its utility value can be generalized across transactions i.e. it can be exchanged for all type of goods and commodities. Hence its utility value is highest. 

Now in the 'market' which is nothing but a contextual scenario where the transactions occur, the people (party 1) suddenly find that the type of goods produced by the firms (party 2) are not satisfactory and hence they do not give the money to the firms and take their goods in exchange. The people start hoarding the money for they do not trust the firms and their produce anymore. Therefore money (dollars here) slowly start vanishing from the market while number of commodities increase. The firms do all the gimmicks possible like giving heavy discounts and reducing the price but to no effect since the well informed consumers are pretty sure that the commodities are not worth exchanging for the money they have. Hence this lack of liquidity drives firms to closure. Now firms have also borrowed heavily from te investment banks which are nothing but financial sources for the firms. With the closure of firms, there is a loss of business and liquidity for these banks. Hence they too wind up business. 

Well what I wrote till now is the macro scenario. But how does it affect me and India in general? Well since everybody wants to save up and hoard money, the interest rates will go up. Hence loans will be given but with higher interest rates, since no one wants to part with money. So those of us who wants to buy a house or a vehicle will do better to wait for sometime in future. 

Because the currency of US is dollars and this is what is facing the crunch (putting little economical terms - the demand for dollar is high while supply is drastically low), its value appreciates with respect to other currencies; here we shall take our currency - rupee. Now if I buy something from US, I have to pay them in their currencies or dollars. Since more number of rupees equals one dollar now, I have to shell out more money. Hence imports will be hit badly since for the same quantity of imports, the nation has to shell out more money. On the other hand, exports will be non-profitable. Simple logic again - there is no demand of the commodities in US since people are interested in hoarding dollars than spending them freely for these commodities.

As I mentioned before, its better to stop buying houses and vehicles now, well the real estate business will be hit due to this decison of mine. And so is the automobile industry. TATA- Nano project may not be that badly hit for the customer segment its targetting can afford one lakh. But TATA may still face loss in aggregate in this project for it may not generate volumes thanks to the financial crisis. Software sector is one more sector that will be badly hit since most of the projects come from US. Since firms there are saving up by cutting costs and making calculated moves, no projects come to India and hence its psedo-employment for the professionals. Since there are no consumers, the operational activities of firms here will come down. This will result in lay-offs and loss of employement to many graduates being churned out of numerous colleges. I sometimes wonder why is education industry not tied up or affected by the financial crisis! Added to this, inflation is already at 12% in India. With no money flowing into pocket, how can one dream of buying the commodities despite the discounts and promotional offers? In a nutshell economy crashes, for we are too dependent on US. Industries which are independent like media, telecom and insurance will remain relatively unaffected. My Puja and Diwali expenditure has to reduce too sadly !

So when shall it end? Till all the loss making firms wind up and banks are left to finance only firms that will prosper. Then money flows in and people prioritise their demands and are ready to spend. Another way is if the US Federal Reserve (like our RBI) comes out and lends more money to the banks to enable them to lend out to these firms to save themselves. 

Till then all of us have to wait and watch and hope that  our leaders at Delhi do their level best to isolate our economy as far as possible from other countries. Complete isolation is not possible yet the sensitive sectors must be isolated. An internal market for software services ought to be developed and our industries should try to come up to offer a market for it. Hoping for the best !

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Self - Orientation Model of Leadership - An alternative thought

Well before I develop this model here, let me confess that I am writing it out as a bored individual who has been made to read up plenty of stuff in leadership since last three months and who found them all inefficient to explain and understand one individual whom I consider as an awesome leader - Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The trait theories are useless in explaining for Baba has all the traits identified and much more. The behavioral theories are of no use since we do not know the situation to predict the behavior and in Swami's case its highly complex. The situational theories were of little help since I never believe that situation determines a leader but a leader determines a situation. The latest fad - charismatic leadership is again of little value. Baba is charismatic but then what indeed is charishma? Is it not a way of doing things again - a part of behavioral group of theories? In my view charishma is just a subset of behaviors. All behaviors can quailify to be called as charismatic provided they have the right audience. But Baba appeals to all and evokes both kind of emotions and reactions in varieties of people -- positive and negative. So charishma fails too for it does not help distinguish the specific qualities that make people adore Him and hate Him. The same qualities do both the jobs.

So I percieve this as a gap in the literature for none of these theory is able to explain the leadership of such a personality as Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This is my attempt based on my experience and study of Him to devise a leadership model that explains His style of leadership. I name it The Self-Orientation Model Of Leadership.

The Theory
The primary thesis of this model is what I call a dynamic interchange between self-expansion and self-isolation. I define both the terms below.

I define self expansion as an attribute that enables the leader to identify with the cognitive and affective state of his/her follower and hence make them feel one with him/her. In this state, the leader lives not for him/her, but for his/her followers. He/she completely identifies with the euphoria or suffering of the followers and sometimes may forget his/her own existence. The followers are nothing but an expanded being of the leader. For people who are unaware of Baba, may be comfortable connecting M.K.Gandhi while reading this. He practiced self-expansion religiously identifying himself with the rural population of India which was predominant pre-independence. Through self expansion he brought about a massive change in the image of the Congress party which was till then dominated by some individuals from elite class who had a misconception that their demands reflected the demands of the Indian people. 

This attribute I define as the ability of the leader to isolate himself from being carried away by the emotions of his/her followers and maintaining his/her own identity. It may sound a bit out of place but I argue that this attribute is what helps leaders to sustain their influence. They do things not because followers want, but because they want. They are neither task centric or people centric but they are self-centric. It may not be confused with selfishness but rather may be understood as a sustained attempt to maintain one's own identity. In the mission of being people centric, often leaders become too mixed up in mundane crowd and lose their shine. These leaders who practice the self-orientation model, are neither people centric nor task centric. They do both simultaneously. They involve with the people to do the task and then they isolate themselves when the kill is being enjoyed. They are not party to it. 

This attribute of self-isolation is where many of the leaders failed or fail since:
1- Its human to enjoy the prize and be taken in by applause
2- They get involved with people too much to lose sight of further task. On the other hand a self-oriented leader is continuously on a plan for further conquests. He does not rest on laurels.

So its a continuous flip-flop between self expansion and self isolation and it is catalysed by a task or series of tasks. This flip flop helps such a leader to maintain his/her identity and hence sustained control and influence on his/her followers, since the later never lose sight of him/her that way. They never know what is coming next and they are always waiting while enjoying the present. Involvement in the present while hoping for the future are the characteristics of a follower of a self-oriented leader. This is why most often spiritual personalities are self-oriented leaders. This model I argue can be generalized to all spiritual leaders.

So can practice of this model make us spiritual? Thats another research question! Till then amen!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leadership Lessons from A Road to Freedom - The Dandi March (1930)


Mohandas K. Gandhi's Dandi March (March 12, 1930) had carved a niche for itself in the history of India's long struggle for freedom from the British Raj. It was an awakening of two different beings - the rulers and the ruled, the oppressors and the oppressed. The rulers realized that their hold on India has come to an end and its better to walk away gracefully while the Indians realized the strength of Self. Gandhiji wanted them to realize that freedom is nothing but a state of mind which fiercely listens to the conscience and conscience alone. On the 61st anniversary of our Independence, it is my humble endeavour to look at this event with a critical eye deriving the underlying meanings of the symbolic act.

The Dandi March - A Conceptual Overview

Gandhiji left his ashram with his followers on March 12th 1930 from Sabarmati in the outskirts of the city of Ahmedabad and marched approxmately 320 kms to arrive and break the Salt law at Dandi on April 6th 1930. It was the morning hours and Gandhiji took a bath in the sea and with his wet loin still clung to his body and his upper part drapped in a shawl, took a handful of salt from the shores of the Arabian Sea and proclaimed the end of British empire. The police arrived and arrested the men under Gandhiji, jails were filled to brim, yet the movement sparked a fire that ignited the souls of millions of men and women throughout India. The prescence of International Press added glamour to the event and the movement was recognized and known as far as America (which was important since India needed International solidarity for its struggle for independence).

Undeterred by the Government's effort in cutting his wings by the mass arrests of his supporters, Gandhiji decided to sieze the salt works of Dharesena. The Govt. moved into a rapid reaction by immediately arresting Gandhiji in the midnight of May 4th and 5th and by mid-morning lodged him in Yeravada Central Jail in Pune. However the movement started by "the half-naked fakir" did ignite India and Civil Disobedience became the norm of the citizens.

Leadership Insights

Looking critically, three major parameters of Gandhian leadership styles can be plucked from the above incident of historical significance. We will try to isolate them in this particular section from a series of counter questionings.

1- Why did Gandhiji select "salt" as an item for protest? Why not "textiles" as he did it in the Non-Cooperation movement of 1920? There is a huge significance in this choice of protest object. Gandhiji was trying to arouse India in this struggle for independence. And Congress has to be a National party and hence its activities must be able to touch every section of society residing in India irrespective of their economic, racial and social status. Salt served the purpose very well. It is the only thing used by the elite rich and the desperate poor, the Hindus (with their castes) and the Muslims (with their sections) in common. There was no brands of salt available then unlike today and hence it served as a common instrument to bind everyone in the nation. Textiles on the other hand were having various brands like the Bombay Dyeing, which was inaccessible to the India living in villages. By taking up the issue of salt, Gandhiji ensured the involvement (even if not active, at least attention) of ALL Indians. Hence the first leadership secret is affective unity of actors in your operational context. The operational context in the case of Gandhiji was India and he ensured the unity of it by his appropriate choice of instrument - salt.

2- The second obvious question is "why did Gandhiji march to Dandi?"He had so many rich and famous individuals like Mohd. Ali Jinnah, Motilal Nehru, Jawarharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel. He could have borrowed any of their vehicles, gone to Dandi and broken the law. Precious time would have been saved too. Yet he marched. Marching according to me had two purposes - the oft quoted purpose of involvement with people at the grassroot which allowed them to identify with the leader. It gives the people a psychological access to the leader and breaks any inhibition and gives the leader a chance to influence the people in his ideology. The second important purpose of marching was attention capturing through dramatised action. A leader is percieved as a leader by the subordinates for he/she is believed to have powers and influence that is absent in them. A leader to remain a leader has to manage that impression of the followers without being decietful. Gandhiji was a master impression manager. Every action had an element of drama. The salt march was literally a war against an empire since it was aimed to break a major revenue providing law. And a war is fought with an army. Gandhi had to SHOW that to the international media and to the assembled authorities of the empire. Hence he marched as a lieutnant of his "army". Agreed his method of fighting was different from the conventional bloody games wars used to be, yet it was a WAR of a nation against another. It clearly demarcated India from the Empire and SHOWED the existence of TWO nations and not ONE to the International community. Grabbing attention - the Gandhi way - is unique. Even his passive non-violent resistance or Satyagraha was uniquely designed to be dramatised. Gandhiji understood that anything that is not natural is a drama and attracted attention. When a man is hit, its natural for him to fight or take recourse to flight. Satyagraha demolished the two alternatives. No fighting and no running away but rather dying if possible yet not relenting to the oppressor. It will attract anyone's attention!

3- The final leadership secret that can be isolated is empowerment through promotion of behavior as expected after the end of project operation. According to Gandhiji freedom never meant replacing one ruler with another. But it meant providing a sense of free will to the common man that ensures a safe and peaceful society. A democratic ruler takes into account this free will of people to frame laws to do the maximum good to maximum people. Thus the underlying principle is free - will. And Gandhiji wanted every citizen of India to exercise it. If one sees a merit in something, follow it, if not, chuck it. This is freedom. In a nutshell he was making people practice the Advaita Vedantic school of philosophy. As long as one recognises a law, it exists; and if one dis-recognizes it, it vanishes. Gandhiji was making the people bahave as if there was no law and hence actions must be guided by conscience. All his movements aimed at this end - to break Govt. laws by disrecognizing them. Hence it put the Govt. in a soup for there is no such "provision" like "disrecognition be treated as crime". It was a unique way to achieve freedom - Free the man - free the home - free the nation.

Summing up

The Gandhian leadership style from Dandi March can be summed up as "effecting an emotional bonding of people in a operational context by appropriate choosing of an unifying object of use leading to personal empowerment of the subordinate by giving scope to exercise the free will by personal involvement and dramatised action."

India was free after millions of sacrifices, people who never lived to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Lets understand their perspective of freedom and their motive of fighting for it. Its nothing but free will leading to unity and again unity that fecilitates free will. Both are necessary for becoming a free and powerful nation in this century. Lets work towards it.