Search This Blog

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Real Inspiration!

This note of mine purely intends to express my respectful gesture to one of my friends & his wife and to inspire all the readers to practice it & appreciate such acts whenever they come across, in their lives!

I know Sri Suresh Kumar since I came to Hyderabad in August, 2002. He was a rick driver in the narrow lanes of twin cities hailing basically from Thiruvananthapuram. He was introduced to me by one of our common friends who used to work in GE’s BPO arm (Later became Genpact). Sri Suresh Kumar is a graduate and quite a knowledgeable person, who is well read too. He easily should have been in a good organization in a far better position with his knowledge & skill levels. However, he was an auto rickshaw driver with a difference for the reasons better known to him. Once you use his services, you will become addicted as he offers lot of value additions with personal touch! When I was introduced to him by my friend Sri Venu, he was reading ‘The Hindu’ News paper sitting in his rickshaw! A brief introduction and five minutes down the line, he made me a fan of him!!

Sri Suresh Kumar has helped me a lot in settling down in Hyderabad and guided me on many issues to resolve and move on…! Quickly we became thick friends and I understood that in addition to rickshaw driving, he owns 3 more ricks, which is given out for daily rent and he also finances rick drivers across the city! Apart from this, he had a chit fund business as well!

God had much different things for him in store! Times had changed suddenly for him as he went into ruffles on finance recovery with the rick drivers and as a chain reaction; it affected his chit payments & overall credibility. However, he moved on with great struggle till he reached a point, where he had to take up a small time job as a billing clerk in a large steel plant! His wife Laya was also a commerce graduate and worked with a private firm. They were undergoing testing times as there was lot of pressures from the creditors…!

He sold all his ricks to settle some of the major issues and approached each of the pending creditors personally and told that he’ll be able to pay only a tiny amount per month as he is not able to give anything substantial! Many of them protested and demanded settlement through advocate’s notice! Many of his friends like us intervened to help him in convincing these creditors to accept the reality & compromise….!

In the last 5 years, they both (Husband & Wife) struggled hard and managed to move inch by inch and kept servicing their loans along with providing good education to their only son ‘Bharath’! Now, they had cleared all the debts and started saving again!

Now, let me come to the crux of this note!! In the beginning of this turmoil, Sri Suresh used to approach all the close friends like us for short term financial helps and we all had sincerely helped him whenever possible. One of our common friends, Sri Roy, in a critical instance gave his engagement ring to pledge as he was not able to give cash…!! Years passed and as things worsened for Sri Suresh, he couldn’t return the ring! Once, Roy offered to pay the sum and take it back and by then Sri Suresh realized that he had lost the mortgage slip as well!! The day he was searching for the slip, I was there in his house and that day only both I & Laya came to know about this adjustment! Laya immediately offered the only gold chain she had and started crying! Roy got upset and consoled every one by clearly spelling out that he considered relationship important, not the money and that’s the very reason for not asking for it till then!

All these incidents faded from the memory over years till I received an ecstatic call from Roy at around 11.30 PM, about a week back! He was gasping, struggling to conceal his emotions and literally in the verge of crying!! He wanted to meet me immediately and when I reached their home, both Sri Suresh & Laya were also there…! As I had just reached back from work and didn’t even have my dinner, I strode in with a demand of food to Roy’s wife Beulah, who’s very popular for her culinary skills amongst our peer group..! However, there was no response from anyone, as if all of them were in a dream world staring at me without even recognizing my arrival! I felt little odd at the reception and made a huge noise to make my presence felt!

Roy came hurriedly towards me and hugged with big splash of tears! Like everyone there, I too became emotional and after the initial spurt was over, he had shown me his engagement ring engraved with the name ‘Beulah’..!

I believe that the thankful glitter in the eyes of Roy & Beulah at that moment was the best ever blessings showered on this amazing couple and their only son ‘Bharath’ for the years to come! Because it was not just thanking this special couple, but it was an expression of gratitude to the ‘Almighty’ for reinforcing our values and beliefs….for which we have been fighting this world all through our lives!

Still I’m struck by the marvelous act of this couple, which not only inspires Roy and family to keep up their helping nature, but all of us as well….!

(This is based on true incident. However, the names are all changed to respect the privacy of the individuals)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

VVIPs and Laws/ Rules of our Great Land

It is with a heavy heart that I’m forced to write this note when the aftermath of the sad demise of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh is taking place. India had been the country of Maharajas and lots of so called privileged people at the cost of millions of homeless and deprived sections. In the modern democratic India, we come across new avatars of Maharajahs, in the forms of democratically elected representatives of people and the bureaucrats who serve them (not the people).

We, the common citizens of India get our thin temperament tested, whenever our beloved leaders are frisked or questioned inside (very unusually) or outside the country. We take it as an offensive towards our prestige/ ego, self esteem or whatsoever it is called…?! We immediately tend to compare the sops we offer all those so called VVIPs from abroad (Many a times, even the security guards are garlanded) and cry that we are offering this facility of exempting the law for just an individual and we expect them to do the same for our politicians. When they call a spade a spade, we make lots of noise and of late, we try to give all these incidents a colour of racism. However, in most of the cases (if not all), the truth is that the outside world understands the purpose of the rule and act accordingly, regardless of the personal charisma or fan following of the individual…!!

There are very stringent and far sighted rules made by our predecessors for the ultimate safety and security of the citizens of India and there have been continuous amendments incorporated according to the varying contexts, technologies and market gaps. However, what I noticed is the confidence/ guts of influential people who flout any law with the help of either money or power.

People who violate the laws/ rules on security checks or making it controversial when checked do not understand the purpose of every such checks and by flouting it they not only put themselves in danger, but also others, who are present there.

When it comes to air safety, despite the fact that there is a ban/ warning on flying in adverse conditions by DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation), most of the VVIPs push their way through without understanding the serious consequences of such a move. This is because our VVIPs do not properly understand/ realize the danger or the possible consequences of such decisions.

Let me quote some relevant parts from an article published in Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad dated 6th September, 2009 for your info….

“Helicopter pilots agree that even in cases where VIPs become adamant, it is bureaucratic and political hangers on who are the bigger problem. ‘Kuchh karo jee’, they will insist even when you have told them the weather is impossible.”

“I have known senior politicians and bureaucrats to stomp in frustration and start shouting when flights have to be cancelled.”

“He refused to listen so we took off only to encounter dense clouds and lightening soon. His confidence turned to panic and he screamed ‘Wapas chalo! Wapas chalo!’. Half an hour later, we were back in the airport, where we started from…”

These are the various accounts of experiences by some of the senior pilots who fly VVIPs across the country.

Now, we need to set up a permanent mechanism for continuous education to all those who fly frequently on the norms with the examples and video clips to keep everyone’s memory afresh on such issues. Most of them ignore the warnings to keep up their schedule, but fail to understand that it can cease their schedule forever…!! In the process, these VVIPs put the entire crew’s life in danger too. This is very sad and our people should realize that every rule is made with a purpose and it should be followed to serve the purpose.

Another suggestion evolved out of various discussion groups is to have a very stringent law and more stringent execution to cancel the license of the pilots who fly despite the warning by DGCA. This may give the pilots some firmness to respond to such pressures…!!

At the same time, the people who are supposed to execute the rule should be educated to understand the purpose of the rule and interpret it logically to serve the purpose of the rule and not just to follow the rule blindly to block the public/ public servants in the pretext of a rule….!!

As an irony of life, I shall write about some funny experiences later, where the rules are followed vigorously to deny or deprive people of their facilities without understanding the purpose of it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Impact of corruption in Indian Economy

In the recent past, we were receiving chain mails on the huge figures of amounts lying in the swizz bank accounts of various Indians and there was this huge hue & cry on accessing it to plough it back in our economy…!!

Now, let’s look at another scenario….an insider of a ‘National Party’ said there was a dictum by their ‘Party National Head’ to all their ruling ‘State Heads’ to send 200 Crores per month to the head quarters…!! Of course, some portions are spent back on election time to distribute liquor, cash and other incentives to the vote banks. However, you can calculate the volume of money and remember, if a CM has to send 200 Cr per Month, he’ll definitely make more than that at his level.

We all, have been discussing these facts casually and at least some of us who would have felt in the bottom of our hearts some (false) prestige about the fact that we Indians have the maximum amount of money parked in those secret accounts. We were also advocating it to plough it back into our economy. Agreeing to the fact that such a move will help us during this recession blues, we need to understand the fact that we need to initiate a process to stop this accumulation in the future by eliminating the root causes of this….!!

However, each one of us know that ‘it is easier said than done’ and it requires lot of political and personal guts to envisage and execute a programme to eliminate this social evil….!! This needs tremendous support from the ‘common people’ or so called ‘aam aadmi’ like us to implement it successfully.

Now, how shall we contribute and support this? If any of this political leadership initiates such a process, let it be anybody from a ‘Gram Panchayat Member/ President’ to the ‘Prime Minister’, we need to respond by resolving ourselves on remaining non – contributing to the corrupt system for some silly favours from them..!! Very difficult…is it not? This is the point where the corrupt system scores upon…..

Be it a temple, be it an office, be it a park or any public place, every one of us need preference and we are always in a hurry..! Is it not? This pattern of behaviour had helped the system to deteriorate….!! How many of us go to temple with mental preparedness to spend time in the queue…? I had mentioned regarding this in one of my earlier notes that I’m always prepared to wait and if I am not prepared, I don’t intend to go inside and I’ll pray from outside and move. Similarly, when we are going to any place, please be prepared to spend time and pursue it as that will relieve you of mental tension and unnecessary loss of money.

Apart from this undue hurry, another common factor which triggers the system of corruption is the lack of knowledge and lack of confidence to identify and avail information from the proper source. This is magnified as the system adds value to the scenario by confusing and making it complex for a common man to gather information, even from an information desk. The individual, who sits at such info – kiosks and responsible to pass proper information, deliberately acts indifferent and makes the life miserable for those who seek information. As the process becomes complex, we tend to take short cuts and they succeed in their plans….!! However, now there are many avenues where we can access information from…thanks to the websites, RTI act etc.

The impact of the corruption and so called parked money is very frightening….

In 2002, 1 Kg of branded Atta cost was between Rs.12/- and Rs.14/-

In 2009, the same quantity of the same item cost you between Rs.35/- and Rs.37/-

What triggered the cost to increase almost 300%?

Is there a substantial increase in the cost of production?

Even if there’s an increase, is it as huge as 300%?

We talk of less inflation and buoyant economy, etc. Despite all these facts, why the costs are increasing steadily & exorbitantly?

Logical answer is……

The traders and industrialists, who have been funding the corrupt system all these days, are forced to take back the money from the poor consumers….!! (This is in addition to the government looting through the additional taxes and cess, etc. Another funniest system is that any tax is collected from the end consumer….?! Actually it should have been collected from the profit of the traders…!)

This is dangerous…..we need to initiate a response campaign through various platforms like ‘’, etc. and should provide the info in the regional languages as well. The Indian consumer power is actually a ‘genie’ with unparalleled strength and we need to unleash it to eliminate these kinds of social evils. If we join together and boycott the retail outlets, all these traders will not be able to sustain for long and will be forced to accept the demands of the consumers….!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Come few more days and my lens & frames will see this world from the perspective of a 40 year old (or young?!) and may be it evolves to be different….God knows…!!

This gives an opportunity to discuss about a dream project of mine, now shared by few of my friends as well, who are also working hard from their end to make this happen…!!
Our vision is to have a series of sustainable knowledge hubs offering services to bridge the rural – urban divide and bring India, few inches forward towards achieving more inclusive growth in this golden era of changing world dynamics. These hubs are conceived & designed as a chain of hermitages, which accommodates our elders with an aim of predominantly giving them mental comfort rather than just a string of physical comforts.

I was in Kerala recently to have a series of discussions with various people who are very serious about this project and keen on associating with this at different levels of involvement. All the previous social development projects I had conceived and executed in the past are with a strong & binding factor of ‘built – in’ sustainability element. Now, each such unit is designed to run on its own, without any external funding for its operations.

It is envisaged to graduate into a very classical and niche centre of excellence in the fields of performing art forms, with associations/ affiliations to International/ Indian universities, Institutions or Organizations of culture and heritage.

We would like to welcome people and their inputs in this regard personally from those who are interested to serve the old & young generations together…!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The World’s Largest Democracy

We Indians boast of our largest democracy and as usual, we tend to exaggerate a bit too much of our beautiful country and beautiful system.

Many a days, I restrained myself from writing this and a recent news item in the ‘Times of India – Hyderabad edition’ inspired me – rather provoked me – to express, what I felt at the bottom of my heart.

At the outset, let me explain the context… The perception of the true & beautiful rural India is just a hoarse these days…if anyone still boasts of the same….!! This may be harsh to accept or digest for my friends who live outside India. They all must be having some beautiful nostalgic memories about their villages and never would like to accept the ever evolving ‘development’ in their respective remote places across the country.

The ‘once beautiful’ rural parts of India is now corrupt and doesn’t care for any values we all boast of….!! Every passing election is making us more & more corrupt and abusive…!! On an average, every major candidate spends few crores in each election and in every constituency, there will be at least three such candidates who spend like that. Imagine the money distributed in a single constituency and where is this money coming from? If you calculate the total amount spent all over the country, it will be much more than the accumulation in the swizz banks…!! Apart from money, another item distributed is country liquor, made of illegally smuggled spirit (which may even come from hospitals and mortuaries)….!! There are many places where a whole colony or community wiped out consuming this illicit liquor. Our great ‘media mafia’ is partial in terms of coverage as they consider making somebody a poster boy out of a weird speech as more important than such silent massacres poor, illiterate people, who can be biased by anyone with a motive.

Now, let’s understand that our democracy is still alive not because of the greatness of our system, but just because of the acceptance nature of our people. Even if somebody goes on a rampage of massacre, we would not respond, rather we have the ability to rationalize it as our destiny…!!

Having written so far, let me describe the silver linings among all these are the expectations we all have on the educated youth of this country and the few examples like following….

The DGP of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. A K Mohanty had executed his duty with vigor during the first phase of elections. He had practically arrested the movement of cash and liquor, which otherwise would have got distributed across the state. Almost all the vehicles were stopped and examined and crores of currency had been seized. Mr. Mohanty was brought back as DGP by a special request from the Election Commission after recommending action against the then existing DGP for sharing a stage with the Chief Minister and violating the code of conduct by publicly praising and supporting the CM. It is an open secret that Mr. Mohanty cares a damn about any political pressure from any quarter…!! Many of the SPs, who were helpful to many candidates from various constituencies found it difficult to help their friends as they knew the nature of DGP and possible consequences if they fail in their duties…!

The results of these stringent measures were very funny and eye – opening…!! The rally addressed by Mr. Rahul Gandhi in Hyderabad had only around one thousand people as audience. The reason: The money & liquor could not be distributed to the people to attend the meeting as there was this strict check was happening. Now, all these leaders are pulling crowd by paying money & distributing liquor. Gone are the days of charismatic and crowd pulling personalities. Our villagers even bargain to get more money when they come to pick them to the meeting place…!! This proved that even a single authority with determination to implement the systems can really make a change.

This was one of the silver lines which gave me some strength to write despite the frustrating deterioration of the system and the lack of people’s ability to respond to all these social injustices. However, a news item show cased the determination of a village, which in turn, made me write…!!

A rural village in Andhra Pradesh had stopped the candidates, who came with money at the entrance of the village. Every voting individual of that village came together to corner the candidates with a list of development requirements written on a bond paper and made the candidate to sign it with an affidavit of fulfilling it.

This is simply amazing….!! Even in our highly literate Kerala, I had not heard of such activism. This is the real ‘Panchayati Raj’ or decentralization of power. Let’s hail it and hope that it spreads to each village of our shining India..!!

It is my sincere wish that all of us take this forward to induce an unbiased thinking process among the villagers and make them participatory in the development process as they only know the exact requirement of their respective habitats.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Tribute to Sabari Master

It is a sad moment in my life to write this note as I never thought that I would be writing this after his unprecedented departure. Whole of last week I started to write and then got stuck due to the burden of grief my mind was carrying…!! Such is the impact on each of us, who interacted with him at least once in our life time….! And it was evident from the size of the crowd present at the funeral function.

Though he was associated with a political outfit for all his social empowerment activities, he was respected and heard beyond his political affiliations. He used to be a consultant, advisor, a friend in need, guide, philosopher and what not…? There are few words to describe the way he used to handle others’ problems with utmost sincerity and involvement. Above all, to me, he was the most unassuming and simple social worker, who never allowed others to exaggerate his own great works.

My father used to do a lot of help to various people regardless of their cast, religion, social background or any such conditions. In many cases he used to voluntarily offer help, even without the recipient’s request….!! So, during my childhood, I used to observe my father as well as those people from various back grounds who come for help and many of them after receiving the help as well. I had seen many of them breaking down in front of my father when they explain their sorrow and the glee in their eye when they visited after successful completion of their requirement with my father’s help. I used to amaze at my father’s ability to solve others’ problems and of late, during my teens, started discussing with him how he feels after completing each such incidents….?! He used to reaffirm only one thing…the joy he gets out of each such help offer is that as if he created another fixed deposit in God’s bank, which will fetch interest in the form of help to every member of his family when they require help from others. He believed that we are all social elements and if we don’t practice the values then there is no point preaching or praying….

However, all those individuals and families, who used to come from various parts of the country with a request definitely looked forward towards my father as God and a man capable of doing great things and regarded him as an individual with great knowledge and many of them recognized him after receiving the help as someone who did something which they would never have been able to achieve on their own…!! It is true that he was really knowledgeable and for us he was a living encyclopedia and inspiration to innovate…! So the aura was always visibly surrounding him ever. Later on in my life, I received the interest of my dad’s good deeds and realized how important his words were and took an oath to myself that I would follow his path in terms of helping others and preach only what I could practice. Later in life, when I was working in a voluntary organization, which was undertaking a World Bank funded rural development project, I came across a very funny incident which gave me lot of self – realization and confidence, even though the incident was intended to discourage me.

This was during the initial days when I joined this organization and in one of the executive committee meeting, the CEO of this organization, criticized me for carrying myself in the office as the CEO of the firm. He is one of the very sharp intellects of the country, who is respected by very many in the country for his contributions for the development of the rural hamlets of our country. First of all, it was shocking for me to hear it from him as I still respect him a lot and I shall vouch that I had learnt many things in my life during our close association for about two years. This criticism initially hurt me, even though the other executive members argued for me in that meeting, but provoked a strong analytical thought process inside me. I then realized that many people from various parts and various projects used to approach me for different types of help and my patient hearing and approach was appreciated & liked by all these and made them close to me and prompted them to approach me for each & every issue. Even though I always heard them and gave a logical guideline to act upon with the help of my own experience, I used to specifically put them on to the concerned authority in the organization, whenever it was not my jurisdiction. However, the way I used to approach issues and my body language were the culprits.

This definitely made me realize the fact that why people listen to my words in a gathering….!!! I thanked my dad for the same kind of vibes he gifted me with….!! Now, the relevance of this description is to point the fact that when my dad or me did the help to others, it was well recognized or the recipient definitely acknowledged the pain behind the effort and this is the same with many people who help others. But Sabari master was very very unique and special because he never let the recipients know the pain he takes in helping them. That’s the greatness, I could very rarely witness in people like him. There may be many people like him, who helps others, but to me he’s unique for this quality of unassuming nature, which will knock down any of his opponent, with tears in their eyes.