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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Part 2 - Perception - Art of seeing things as we are and not as they are!

Prameya - The aspects of reality and hence knowable is classified into 12 things. They are the soul, the body, 5 senses, Objects of senses, Cognition (Budhi), mind, activity (of the mind), dosa (mental defects), rebirth (life after death), Phala (fruits of our actions - pain, pleasure), suffering (dukha) and freedom from suffering.
If we are not ignorant about these 12 things then we would attain liberation but unfortunately we are bonded due to wrong or invalid knowledge on the above.

So whats the way we can achieve valid knowledge?

This is where Pramaana kicks in!... According to Nyaya there are 4 distinct fountains of current knowledge:

1. Perception (Pratyaksha Pramaana)
2. Inference (Anumaana Pramaana)
3. Comparison (Upamaana Pramaana)
4. Testimony (Sadba Pramaana)

Also knowledge is gained through Experience (Anubhava) and also through memory (Smriti). Experiential knowledge is received through above 4 ways and memory is essentially is acquired through anubhava but stored and recollected over a period of time.

There are few ways of Invalid knowledege (Aprama), which are Samsaya (Doubt - Inability to conclude / determine), faulty conginition (Bhrama) and Hypothetical argument (based on).

Lets look at what perception is.

Perception (Pratyaksha Pramaana) - Knowledge produced by the conjunction (Contact) of an object and an organ. So what are the operative components of perception, lets take an example of we perceiving a blue color jar. There are 6 components which are "recognized" during the perception process...

1. Conjunction - Samyoga Sannikarsah - Eye sees a Jar which is the conjunction of Object (Jar) and Organ - Eye.
2. Inherent Union with what has come into contact - Samyukta Samavayah (Blue color is the inherent union with the Jar which is also perceived)
3. Inherent Union with what is intimately united with a thing that has come into contact. - Samyukta Samaveta Samavayah (This is the recognition of Genus "Colorness" which is the inherent union that is Intimately united (blue color) with the object (Jar)).
4. Inherent Union of the organ - Samavayah Sannikarsah - through the organ of seeing - Eye in this case.
5. Inherent union with the intimately United - Samaveta Samavaya Sannikarsah. - (In the same way Genus "Sight")
6. The connection of the attribute to the substantiative. - Visesana Visesyabhava Sanniskara

  • Perceptions could be classified based type of contact Ordinary perception- (Laukika) which is based on direct contact and Alukika (Extraordinary Perception) based on indirect contact.

The ordinary perception (laukika) process has 2 stages - Indeterminate (Nirvikalpa - without knowing the quality such as color, shape but recognizing the jar) and Determinate (Savikalpa) which is definite and explicit. Most perception processes are generally first indeterminate and then determinate. The speed at which this happens in an individual determines how sharp the person is.

The extraordinary perception (alaukika) is divided into:

  • Samanya Lakshana (identification of classes or generality in one thing .... for example it can be understanding Human being are mortal. Here humanity and mortality are generic classes identified.)
  • Jnana Lakshana (Perception of association) ... when we see ice we also perceive that it is cold, this does not happen because we directly feel coldness but through association.)
  • Yogaja - Perceptions acquired through yogic practices.

Perceptions could also be classified based type of modes External perception- (Bahya) which is based on 5 senses and Internal (Manasa) based on mind as an internal faculty perceiving pain, pleasure, aversion, desire, cognition etc.

This is perception in brief. Just look at the depth of definition, classifications and most importantly the interlinkages between systems ex. Yogaja which is based on the Yoga school of thought and has little to do with Nyaya system.

When you take time to read the other aspects of this philosophy, you will understand and appreciate the depth of thinking, not loose but very structured that was there ages before which is our inheritence, but lost some where, some how...

We are ensconsed in "bliss" and even for those who have come across this for the first time in this blog would still be ignorant just like me, but for the fact that they would have moved one item from "unknown-unknown" to "known-unknown" .

By this measure the toughest jobs are that of "Quality or brand professionals" who earn their bread by managing & improving "perception of a perception".

Yours perceptionally!

Happy reading !

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Part 1 - Perception - Art of seeing things as we are and not as they are !

" If we are what we think ! then we are shallow beings, since many of us who don't think deep enough.
If we are what we eat ! then we are empty beings, since majority of us are below the poverty line and invaribaly starve.
The lowest common denominator seems to be, we are what we perceive!
For Perception is the art of seeing things as we are
and not as they are ! "
Many of us think that we are in brighter times as men have turned "Rationalists" in the last few decades / centuries and is coming out of the dark ages of superstition and have understood the power of thinking and invented a new system of thought process.
Can you believe that our forefathers did not only have logical and rational thinking as a science but also showed us a path of extending that science to realize ourselves and its a pity that many of us are ignorant of this. The gem of a topic i am going to share with you and finally link up with the first few lines of this blog is essentially about Nyaya (aka Tarka Sastra) - a system of philosophy propounded by Gotama concerns with the achieving valid knowledge through science of logic and reasoning.
The goal of Nyaya philosophy is to attain the liberation of soul through logical thinking and attain valid knowledge. Valid Knowledge eradicates ignorance and hence paves way for realization. One of the important aspects i want to stress upon is there were many schools of thought in Indian Philosophy like Nyaya, Yoga, Samkhya & even Mimamsa (to a lesser degree) which were roads to realization of ourselves but did not follow idol worship. Even this aspect is not known to many of us for we choose to live in "bliss".
So what does Nyaya system deal with? I shall try to be as concise as possible and as always i would ask you to refer further details from our global guru for self learning -
All Indian philosophies are divided into 1. study of nonmanifested reality and 2. study of manifested reality. Nyaya system deals with both but mainly explains that from 2 broad topics (or atleast iam going to deal it that way) under 16 different categories. The broad topics are:
1. The object of knowledge (Prameya) - What is knowable.
2. Sources of valid Knowledge (Pramana) - Means to attain Valid knowledge
Etymologically, Prama means Budhi (Cognition) hence object of knowledge is prameya and sources through which we receive this knowledge is Pramana.
But before i "drink deeper" let me ask you few questions for you to think:
1. What do you think is knowable as you can list and can you categorize it?
2. What do you think are the sources of knowledge?
3. Can you define perception, Inference?
4. Can you tell me the difference between perception & Inference?
Now during my MBA program i had read some definition of perception in one of the management books followed up by multiple definitions of perception by various philosophers. Infact I can say that there is no philosophy / philosopher which (who) has not touched upon perception. Nyaya also deals with perception in a significant way (but i should say) & most comprehensive way in approach i have ever read...
There are few books in life that are difficult to understand in one go and few books that teach us something new when ever we read it repeatedly. Nyaya and Tarka related books fall under both categories for me.
Let me stop here and continue this in the next blog....
Yours logically
Happy reading !

Holistic view of the energy centers in our body!

Disclaimer: Unless and until you are interested in topics like Meditation, Yoga, Chakras and holistic aspects of the same please do not look at this article, else you will be wasting your time.

This is a compilation of 20 characteristics of the 7 chakras in our body which is available in fragmented form and that has been consolidated into one document by me.... The holistic view includes Physical forms / locations like the nerves, glands, functional system etc, the qualities of these locations like the color, svara etc. and the ethereal and meta aspects like devtas, petals, sheaths, doshas etc... (Click on the image to view it better....)

I can't and am not going to explain anything as, for those who know the basics and are interested in just details, here it is and for the rest there is no need for any explanation. :). If you are still interested then rely on the Global Guru for self teaching.... i mean "".
It would be nice if you can add to this!

Happy reading

Thank the terrorists & Don't mourn the death of the heros!

It's been a very emotional 3 days for most of us that has managed to consume a huge amount of energy from more than half a billion people and the stress levels are unprecedented.
Stress is a response (In fact a psychosomatic response) to a stimulus (Stimuli), which in this case has been a terrorist attack. But how do people respond when they are stressed? (which is essentially characteristics of response for a response). Some of us would turn anxious, some would fear, and some may turn aggressive.
Ayurveda suggests that, people with 'Vata' prakruti are more likely to develop stress reaction, such as anxiety or fear. 'Pitta' individuals notice an increase in their dosha during stressful situations and typically react to it in a very aggressive way. They may also suffer from hypertension, peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis and other pitta disorders. Stress affects 'Kapha' individuals in a different way - these people may develop under-active thyroid, slow metabolism and even increased blood sugar, leading to a prediabetic condition. This gives them a tendency to stuff themselves with food, leading to obesity. (Are you listening?)

But being predominantly a Pitta prakruti individual, here are my thoughts now:

  1. First and foremost we have to blame ourselves and no one else. If we cannot fence our house, dogs would come in. You can shoot the dogs but can't blame them. Its is in the nature of the dogs that they would come into houses that are open.
  2. The second mistake from our part is to expect potency from an impotent leader. Dr. Manmohan Singh is an eminent economist and a great academician but not a politician and not certainly a leader that this country needs at this time. Just as all economists are clueless now across the world on their core subjects its our mistake to expect India's one of the greatest economist to be any different. I am surprised that how the entire administration has lost its potency under this government and should be termed as "EPA" (Eunuch Production agency) instead of "UPA".

Then the question arises what would i do if am in that position? You can be jingoistic and say please attack Pakistan and prove to have succumbed to emotions. But this is what i would suggest:

  1. DO NOT ATTACK Pakistan. This would be mistake even if we attack the training camps. There is a time for this and this is not the right time.
  2. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER mourn for the people who have been killed and whose lives are sacrificed. Once we mourn the emotions drain, once they are drained we would forget this and we would be not do anything and wait for the next attack. Media and the political leaders would admire the "resilient attitude" and crown us as "suckers". Nurture the wounds and pay back. Dont mourn till we believe we have protected our house and given it back to them. Its time to pay back and not mourn. Wash the blood of the innocents with the blood of the terrorists!
  3. First and foremost revoke "MFN status" for Pakistan and announce them as "Enemy state".
  4. Stop all trade, peace process, transportation, diplomatic links, entertainment and mutual visits. This has to come in place immediately.
  5. Remove all the security protection from all leaders. The people who are accountable should have the same fear & insecurity that we and our families are subjected to. This is the only way this would improve. When Self preservation is closely linked to the overall security situation in the country then these politicians would feel the heat.
  6. Its impossible for the government to protect all the buildings and institutions. Never expect the government to do this. Let the corporate houses adopt buildings, streets, institutions etc. There have been instances of corporates sponsoring schools and gardens and i think the time has come for them to adopt their local building, streets and areas. The government should cut the corporate tax by 5% and the savings that coming from this should NOT BE PAID to the government but utilized by the corporate them selves to improve security.
  7. Business continuity & Disaster recovery are neglected areas in Indian corporates. Many companies have posts like "Head BCP & DR" and Indian companies have not even thought about these. These topics stand extremely neglected and this needs to be invested upon.
  8. Topics like "First aid", "crisis response" has to be taught in schools to kids & in offices to prepare them for better situations.
  9. Stronger laws alone does not solve the problem. But i just feel like shooting politicians who claim "That POTA prevented any terrorist attacks". A law by itself does not prevent the crime and its elementary knowledge that law and crime are not mutually exclusive but coexist. If we have to repeal ineffective laws then there wont be any laws in the country. Can you tell me one law (other than mother-in-law :)) which is really effective and not misused? Over and above law these issues suggest that Institutional failures and hence we need to strengthen these institutions. If the terrorists can plan for 6 months to carry out an attack think how long we need to plan to thwart it. This needs systemic thinking and institutional strengthening.
  10. Nothing deters crime (not hard laws, not severe punishment) but instant or prompt punishment. Its the speed of justice that deters crime (comparitively / mos effective) and not the severity of it.

This attack is different from all other attacks so far. Most of the attacks are over in a matter of hours or minutes like an advertisement or a movie, but this time it went for almost 3 days and on Taj which does not stand for opulence but for the dignity of the Indians. The other important characterstic this time is the depth of the plan, extent of the explosives used and the sheer skill & determination of the terrorists which has shocked the nation.

Just like hackers identify vulnerability within our networks, just like dogs come into open houses and tell us that house is open, this act of terrorism would not go down as one more but would make poeple rally and demand better security and governance from the government. We should thank the terrorists who under took this attack and got this nation together !

Thank the terrorists to have reminded us that we are in a WAR ! But importantly, Its not the time to mourn but to pay back!

Thats an aggrieved & aggressive pitta prakruti for you!

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Disturbed, Distressed and Angry!

Just as the news of Mumbai siege is breaking out without any details on the overall picture, as one of the disturbed, distressed and angry souls in this country am venting out here.

I have an emotional attachment to Taj Mahal hotel which is a 100+ years old structure and stands for the diginity of the country and Indians. Built by an Indian for indians during a time when "Indians and dogs" were not allowed to such places.

The spirit it represents, the splendour it radiates and the warmth it exudes is unique and closer to my heart. Though i was as distressed when the Indian parliament was attacked but i think now am angry too. For Indian parliament has been the refuge of the criminals and their patrons for a long time (Rest of them who claim to be clean are impotent), this structure represents a great deal more than that.

Thinking calmly (after a great deal of effort) i believe the following should be our action points:

  • The home minister of India and the home minister of Mumbai should quit or sacked. Incomptency and mothehood statements should be abhored.
  • The prime ministers hand is tainted with the blood of the innocent Indians and visitors and he should be resolute enough to wash the same with the blood of the guilty. There can be no one else held responsible for the loss of lives than the leader himself.
  • The officers who laid their life in the line of duty, let as a nation salute them and their families.
  • Lets recognize the Islamic terrorism which is recognized world over and not be soft on terror. This does not mean that all muslims are terrorists or Islam preaches this but recognize the fact that under the pretext of religion we have this, real and hard in front of us.
  • IB which was a pride of every indian has been known now as "Ignorant Bureau" instead of "Intelligence Bereau". I think they are currently staffed by economists who don't have any clue of whats going on. As a first step they should have an objective of being atleast as good in predictions like our astrologers. May be it should be staffed with astrologers instead of economists and intelligence officials.

What will follow is going to petty politics and this will be forgotten by every one after few weeks again to be remembered during the next attack.

"Athithi devo bhava", means all indians believed in a religion called Hospitality and the guests are our gods. Its sad that few are held hostage today and few probably have died.

I am distressed, disturned and angry like many other Indians today.

Yours angrily

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rear view!

I started this blog on 29/Oct and its just about a month since then (If you think its still 4 days left, think of the sideral month) and I am pleasantly surprised for the following things:
  • Posted over 30+ articles with an average of >1 per day. For the many who wonder how i do it the secret is here (This is the most asked question to me).... i wait for the best time for the juice to flow ; and mostly its between 10PM to 3AM and on one sitting i end up writing 2 or 3 articles.
  • The website has had close 300 hits and thats >10 per day. You can read it from linkedin and Orkut too which i managed to link up.
  • Many who visit the site have used the Y! ping box to chat with me...
  • Some encouraging feedbacks most of them by Phone, Email and IM mostly being complimentary and hence am not going to publish that here and thump my chest.Actually i was not sure that there are many people around who like dry and heavy subjects which i mostly tend to blog about.

Height of it, the initiative was without any planning as i stumbled on the blogger site accidently aided by the sudden rush of energy (i dont know from where) that flew through my head and hands which i managed to use it wisely ;).

Didn’t know where he was going.
Didn’t know where he was when he got there.
Didn’t know where he had been when he got back.
And did it all on borrowed capital.’

Many of you would have heard the quote about one of the the greatest discoverer. If this can be achievement of poor planning, should we ever plan? (For those who have not heard, the above lines were on Christopher Columbus and now re-read the above passage to appreciate it.)

Though there is no comparison yet in the same lines,

Dont know how it started, Dont know why it continued

Dont know if its useful, Dont know if its tasteful,

Dont know if i would give the priority

Dont know if there would be regularity

Dont know what the perceptions are

Dont know if i would enjoy it the way i did it so far

But all i know is There is no road to happiness and the journey in the road is the happiness !!

It was a brief rear view ! to thank you for your feedback.

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Axis of Evil .... Part 1

1. The decision to read this article is fraught with dangerous and unimaginable consequences of it forcing you to think deeper (on issues that are practically unimportant, unimportantly fundamental and fundamentally inconclusive to lead a normal life) and hence people who are not adventurous and not accustomed to such events are advised not to proceed further. The author does not take any direct or indirect responsibility for the consequences barring to agree to discuss these things over a drink :)
2. Life is as simple as you want it to be. (Ref. Rule 1: Ten Commandments of Rags Gopalan . If you are going to proceed after this, you may be complicating it more than required.
3. Please do not proceed to the article without understanding the disclaimer 1 & 2.

Axis of Evil: This popular term used by Dubya in 2002, triggered many reactions around the world, some public and others did not ... My reaction is simple...Why should axis is having only three entities always? Iran, Iraq and N.Korea now but Germany, Italy and Japan in WW II. I also read somewhere that Wipro, Infosys, TCS is the Indian software axis of evil killing upcoming software companies... while i don't subscribe to that view but again its just 3 here too... I think there is a primordial unwritten rule that "Two is company, three is axis".

But little did many of us (including Bush) realize that "good" and "evil" are not available with "form and name", but these represent our mental states and hence contextual, impermanent not incorrigible and essentially a state of mind.

Adhi Shankara states
"Sarva Praaneeshu Prathi deham, Devasura sangramo anadhi kala pravarthithaha" meaning
"The fight between Good and Evil has been happening within every person at all times".
The sensory organs that divert our attention to external world and make us commit sins like lust, theft, jealousy etc are the evils and the force that focuses these sensory organs and our mind internally to realize what we are, and in the process makes us bind with Love, charity, mercy etc are the good.

A sudden thought arose and i was asking what would be the axis of evil within ourselves? Being a rebel without a cause i decided on the following:

  • It would certainly have more than 3 names.
  • My axis of evil is not certainly going to be a straight line as it is made out to be always. Then what can be the shape of the axis? As you know, a straight line extended infinitely is a curve and this curve as it progresses should meet itself, which means it could be a circle or ellipsoid. Then to be geometrically right the axis of evil has to be Circle of evil. But lets continue to call it axis of evil only for the time being.

Where does this axis of Evil begin? Let's analyse that:

  • Good and Evil are essentially the result of widely accepted interpretations of what is right and wrong. Where does this sense of right and wrong lie?
  • What is right and wrong are essentially value systems which are interpreted by the mind. (~ Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so. ~ William Shakespeare)
  • But the roots of our mind are in the society for everything we do are based on the society we have grown up. The way we dress, we eat, we read, we work the reason for setting into marriage as an institution blah blah. As Einstein famously noted, common sense is a set of prejudices which we accumulate before the age of 18.
  • These prejudices are unfortunately not stacked and arranged as black and white for easy interpretation but just like a rainbow not limited to 7 colors, but as a continuum of multiple shades of grey between white and black.
  • This rainbow is also called as the "Individual conscience" which is the aggregation & accumulation of this value system over a period of time.

So the starting point of this axis of Evil is essentially the "Individual Conscience" which is ever evolving and is mostly based on the society we live. So we have the starting point as a "ever floating" point.

Let's analyse one more aspect of this starting point:

This "individual conscience" has a value system which is interpreted by the mind, but the mind is evolving from the society. No one would disagree that we have a society which is suffering from falling moral standards. Hence this floating point has a consistently falling altitude based on the falling moral standards of the society and hence the mind is preparing to accept lesser standards than it currently holds.

So based on the above, the starting point is actually not a Point, but a point which is circularly moving down which is essentially a SPIRAL moving downwards. Hence this is a dynamic entity and where does the seat of conscience lie?

Modern scientists and doctors are quick but certainly wrong in pointing out that its the brain. Scriptures from Hinduism and Buddhism indicate that its the heart but not the one that pumps but hridya the seat of feeling. In my opinion this should not be confined just to one place in a body but through the entire causal and ethereal body which is subtle and limitless.

Wow!, if you are fine so far, we have just understood the starting point.

(To be continued in the next article...)

Happy reading!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Trisensical approach to effective people management !

"Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it." Though it may sound little funny, the above quote has a lot of wisdom in it for it imbibes the basic rule of delegation & formula to succeed with people, which is "Play by their strengths".

I can't help but again quote Thirukural in which I read one of the best definitions yet, about delegation of work "இதனை இதனால் இவன் முடிப்பான் என்றாய்ந்து அதனை அவன் கண் விடல்" which means "Identify who is the best to complete this work, understand how we will complete and then delegate the work to him". I cannot believe a poet can be so knowledged and wise in management aspects too, that too 2000 years back.... (Indian civilization and literature ki jai ho!)

While it is easy to write the meaning for this couplet, its difficult to reproduce the sweetness and wisdom of this quote for you should know the language to appreciate the former and people management experience for the later. One of the significant, (personal yet professional) milestones in any one's carrer is to successfully manage a team and earn the respect from the team members. Once a person has crossed this stage in his career then you will see him as a very confident individual.

As always once a person is confident it is very diffcult for him to identify as to when he will transcend the border between confidence and over confidence. Once he has tresspassed into over confidence zone (knowingly or unknowingly) he will start proposing his own theories like am going to do it now. :)

"Managing & developing people is like mining gold. You need to dig & process tonnes of dust and sand to get an ounce of gold". I am highlighting here 3 senses which needs to be monitored and nurtured that i have always used while managing a team or more importantly in understanding an individual's state of aspirations irrespective of whether he is your colleague or a subordinate.

All animals have 5 senses and we human beings have (or supposed to) 6 senses and the sixth sense as you all agree is a misnomer for its not so "common". The 4 senses which i am highlighting are in addition to the above 6 and is as follows:

7th Sense: Money. Most often we find that this replaces our sixth sense. Irrespective of all said and done this takes precedence and this sense is compromised only when we have the other 3 senses which i am going to highlight below overpower the 7th sense. We all work for money and am not sure why it should be difficult for us to accept the practical side of life. But am also a believer "That nothing significant gets accomplished when mind works for money".

All of us want to retain good talent within the team instead of losing them to the competition. Very often we find that just money does not excite the best minds. How often we have heard "People work for People" and what makes few managers so special that they evoke a sense of loyalty in all their team members despite high paying jobs are available in plenty for these talented employees. While it is easy to say that i feel very comfortable working with him because of many reasons (blah blah), I am generalizing and giving a structured thought in the following lines. (No, I am not going to bore you with leadership qualities or communication, motivation etc.)

1. Sense of belonging: This is the first sense i want to emphasize which we have to look out in a potential employee during interview. It will be very evident in few of them and we can decide that they are or would be "Culturally fit" when we recruit them. But a smart manager would always be evaluating this sense in his team members. What can potentially reduce the sense of belonging in an employee? It could be many things and i want to list a few:

- Unfavorable image of the company in the market.
- Excessive inter/intra department politics. This really puts off apolitical characters.
- Cultural issues like Internal adminstration / executives don't stand up to the highest values like there may be evident levels of corruption, misuse of office resources etc.
- The sense of belonging may rest with the organization but not with the manager. But such cases mostly end up quitting the organization since they are driven away by the managers.

A smart manager would always count the number of employees who have quit and rejoined the organization which just highlights that their sense of belonging has got them back. On the other hand an employee's sense of belonging can be more with the manager than the organization. Then the organization should be concerned about the manager's sense of belonging for if he leaves, he would take his team away.

Sense of belonging is essentially which brings the passion to play at work from an individual. If this sense is missing at the desired level then 7th sense could take over anytime and alternatively this can effectively manage the 7th sense if its available in right quantities. I have to put in a word of caution that spending 20 years in an organization does not essentially mean that Sense of belonging is high, for heavier particles tend to settle down at the bottom and would not move much. :)

2. Sense of purpose: Every individual has to be oriented and given a sense of purpose. Often managers don't rise the level of thinking among employees and don't show them the big picture. Hence employees most often cannot relate their KPI with the overall picture. A smart manager would be very good at doing this and would inculcate a voluntary goal directed behavior among this team. There is always a debate as to how stretchable the goals one should keep and then they end up quantifying that 20% more or 30% more. But importantly "Always tell them what to do and not how to do". When employees are free to approach the delivery process in the way they think the best then the sense of purpose gets imbibed in them.

3. Sense of Achivement: Here comes the most important part, as an individual we need a sense of achievement which makes us feel better and improves our self confidence. If a manager cannot ensure that his team derives a sense of achievement then he can be pretty sure that he will lose his team.
Goaling has to factor this in. Else the manager can keep telling "Doing it right is no excuse for getting it done in time :)".
The secret of being the most loved manager and building a loyal talent base is the result of managing the Sense of belonging, Sense of purpose and Sense of achievement in an individual and within a team.

Even if we are good as a manager with the above skills it is important that we develop our team members to understand this aspect and factor them in day today team management. Lets remember "Leaders create leaders and not followers".
This is my "Trisensical approach to effective people management", for a guy who is good at this can thrive as a "Successful Benevolent dictator" in his own corporate fiefdom.
What say?
Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Axis of Evil !... Part 2 (Difference between right & Wrong)...

Note: Disclaimer stands valid for Part 2 too ! :)

What is the second point in this axis?

What else can the next point be other than the place where the temptations originate. For they are the ones which ask us, Do you want or not? We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine for the Opportunity may just knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell. For ages, its been the woman's weapon and man's excuse. The seat for these temptations are in the heart along with all the other feelings we experience.

There is no way a man can live in this world without generating this temptations in his heart. How we treat these temptations and what we decide to do actually determines the path and axis of evil and hence lets understand the next stop.

So, what is the third point in this axis?

We usually know what we can do, but temptation shows us who we are.

Temptations are good but for its irresistibility and we generally avoid temptation till we can resist it :). Temptations has an inverse relationship with our mind. Stronger the temptations, weaker the mind and vice versa.

Hence the third point of the axis of evil is not the mind but the weaker mind, for the axis of evil gets broken and dissolves when the mind is not weak.

Determined to break the primordial rule ( Two is company, three is axis) I have decided not to stop till we arrive at the fourth point in this axis?

My vote unanimously went to the Tongue for the following reasons:

  • There are 5 Gnanendriays (Cognitive senses - Eyes, Nose, Tongue, Skin & Ears) & 5 Karmendriays (Hands, Feet, Mouth, Genitals & excretory organs) but there is only one of them which is common to both and that is the Tongue. For without the Tongue we can neither taste nor speak.

Everyone knows that an uncontrolled tongue is certainly an evil for the following reasons:

  • When we start eating to satisfy our tongue and not for health, we are inviting diseases with red carpet within the body.
  • How can i stay away without quoting one more Thirukural about the evil nature of the uncontrolled tongue and here it goes:
    "தீயினால் சுட்ட புண் உள்ளாறும் ஆராதே நாவினால் சுட்ட வடு" which means " An injury due to fire will heal but not the injury due to a sharp tongue" (Essentially stressing that if we speak very unplesantly then the words will remain in the hearts of the receiver as a grudge / scar and will not heal.)
  • For the contemporary i can quote William Shakespeare (I wear not my dagger in my mouth).

Arrogance starts in our mind and ends with ourselves (for it will eliminate us for sure) and what else can speed up this process other than the tongue which acts as a catalyst.

So lets see whats the fifth point in this axis?
I just want to present the following URLs for some stats and you decide for yourself.
One in 3 girls and one in seven boys gets sexually abused before the age of 18 and 90% of this crime is from a known acquaintance.

Lets stop with these five points in the axis of Evil but what are the indicators to us that consitently points us out that we are the wrong side or the right side?

  • Certainly the first indicator comes to us with the notion of guilt that settles within ourselves. This essentially is the delta between our value system and action items which we carry and its essentially a residue thats left behind for the rest of our life. But this indictor is purely internal without any visibility to the outside world. Is there an indicator thats available to the external world?
  • Yes. Its the Yes prefixed by "E" and its the EYES. Why so? Lets see...

First is obviously the very popular quote that face is the index of the mind and here face essentially means the eyes.

Second reference is obviously from Thirukural "அடுத்தது காட்டும் பளிங்கு போல் நெஞ்சம் கடுத்தது காட்டும் முகம்" which means "Just like how mirror reflects things, face reflects the feelings of the heart". Here too face essentially means the Eyes.

Hence if we have a residue which is the notion of guilt then when we look ourselves into the mirror or into others eyes this residue reflects. Hence the most interesting way to decide what is right and what is wrong is to see if the mirrors are accusing. But look deeply and you need to be true to yourself but its just between you and the mirror.

To conclude the "axis of evil" or the "Circle of Evil" resides within each of us and I believe it starts from our conscience and ends there. While this conscience is dynamic and floating (probably a downward spiral as of now), the axis passes a through tempted heart, weak mind, unrestricted tongue and abnormally energetic genitals.

Now i dont know if this would be circle and hence lets stick with the term "Axis of Evil" but with the satisfaction that there are more than 3 entities in it.

Life is all about mind over matter. If you dont "mind" it does not "matter".

Happy weekend!

Happy reading!

The Axe Effect!

Nooo!, its not about i being chased by bikini clad girls from all over the town! But certainly this blog was sparked by one such ad. We are grateful for such products else the world esp. in public places / transports we would have nauseated to death!

Fortunately so far i have not been identified by my neighbour's nose ever and would want to keep it that way! The other day I and Priya were discussing on deodorants and i was telling her a simile...

  • I asked her to put some carrots in a juicer and make me some carrot juice and she did it for me...
  • Then after pouring that off i asked her to make me some tomato juice and she promptly took the jar out for cleaning it. But i told her not to clean the vessel but make the tomato juice in the same jar she made carrot juice without cleaning it.
  • Without knowing what am i upto she quipped that she could make some mixed veg juice if thats what i wanted.
  • Thats when i dropped the bombshell and told her not to clean the jar for the entire day and make some juice on the same jar tomorrow. The natural question that followed was "Are you mad?" and I have a standard answer for that "Not till i got married & now am not sure".

She said the whole place would stink and its not hygienic, blah blah... Thats when i said that probably we can use some Deodorant to solve it.

Usage of deodorant in real life is exactly the same as above. Consider our stomach as a juicer / mixer / grinder and we are treating it in the same way i have described below, the only difference being we have a self and auto cleaning mechanism that is supposed to work twice a day (Refer my blog Vive la Senility!). But considering what all we eat, how eat and how we live this cleaning process is never sufficient and it requires an extra bit of maintenance which many of us are not aware / neglect it. Lets understand that we smell because we out do the capability and capacity of the auto cleaning process thats naturally available within us.

A bad mouth / a body odour is nothing but the advertisement of body's state and its attempt to eliminate toxins or least it is crying out for maintenance, because we have accumulated so much toxins within our system. A "six pac ab" also needs this monthly maintenance.

Using a menthol / deodorant to cut the smell out is just a fine blend of foolishness & insensitivity (to ourselves). Its sad to note that the market for these deodorants survive among the "most educated" / "most civilized" urban groups.

So what are the effective ways of cleaning the "jar" so that toxins are flushed out periodically:

  • Ayurveda prescribes Vaaman Dhauti, a simple cleansing technique can and (to be) done by any one (everyone). (I am sure you would get better instructions but am listing the technique i have been taught) Get up around 6 AM in the morning on a sunday (this probably is the most difficult step to follow), brush your teeth, take luke warm water (1 to 2 litres) and add salt (just enough so that you feel that the water is salty, may be 3 teespoons per litre, you decide).
  • Drink this water without stopping in between and gobble up 1 or 2 litres depending on your capacity.
  • The saltiness may force you to vomit the water immediately (many times even before you drink your full bottle). Vomit as much as you feel like there is no harm in getting the thing out of your stomach. If you are left with more water in your bottle, drink and vomit again.
  • For those who think vomiting is an uncivilized act and very unhygienic act, please read the juicer example again.
  • Not all the water comes out through the top route. Some of the water would clean the intestine (small and large) and you may have a weak / soft stomach for few hours.
  • Do some light exercise and drink drops of water (not more) and you would help the process of cleaning the intestines better.
  • Starve the morning, in the afternoons and evenings avoid non-vegetarian, spicy, milk based foods (curd, buttermilk, even milk) for the day. (Just for the day). Eat kicchadi (Pongal) with lots of ghee in it.


  • The most important one is the elimination of toxins, undigested food in the stomach. Please note that this cleans the stomach (primarily), oesophagus and intestines.
  • You can see reduction in weight immediately and waist / hip line will certainly reduce.
  • Flexibility will increase & body will be lighter.
  • You would notice that you can walk / run faster.
  • Reduction and elimination of body odour and bad mouth.
  • The flum in the chest gets eliminated while vomiting.
  • If you practise this regularly you can notice that you would not crave for coffees, teas, Alcohol, smoking and excessive eating too! The secret being when your system finds harmony, it prefers to stay with it. I used to drink 1o to 15 coffees / teas a day which got reduced to two a week and i could maintain this for over 3 years.
  • This process also controls your Pitta in the body, which is important to stay younger. (Dont ask why the effects are not showing on me ;))

I have not noticed any side effects or issues with this barring red shot eyes for few minutes after the procedure. Please take advise from an ayurvedic doctor / Yoga instructor.

“A foolish man tells a woman to shut her mouth, but a wise man tells her that her mouth is extremely beautiful when her lips are closed” thats the only way he can escape her "mouth odor".

There are 2 additonal "hygiene" tips i would like to add here which is widely neglected or not even known:

  • Many of us think that brushing is the only activity related to Oral hygiene. But this ends with cleaning the tongue and not with brushing. Scrap the tongue with a scrapper. You tongue is a lead indicator for the health of your body. Early in the morining, if it tastes bitter then pitta is more (Dry skin, boils, fever likely to follow), if it tastes sweet then kapha is more in the body (Cold, fever, migraine, sinus likely to follow). White deposits on the tongue indicates undigested food / improper digestion and also Kapha is more. Lets teach our kids that Oral hygiene is not dependent on which tooth paste we use as its made out in the TV and media but depends more on how we clean our mouth. This would eliminate bad mouth to some extent.
  • After hitting the potty please ensure that you clean your mouth once with water. When you crap, toxins (in gaseous form) rises up and settles in oesophagus and mouth. (How can something move down without a pressure from the top and there is a upward displacement of air within the body "). If you want some proof, try cleaning your mouth with the same water before and then after hitting the potty. You would find the water is colder the second time.

The deodorant market in India is more than 200 crores and is growing at a rate better than the talcum powders, yet only less than 1% (educated, civilized, urban ) of the population can afford it. This certainly calls for better disposable income for the Indian society, increased production of deodorants in Indian markets, more profits for the deodorant companies till then stinking bodies around

or alternatively

follow cheap and natural ways thats tested, healthy & harmless to keep ourselves fit with a "lean mean odourless" body..

When all of us decide to take this blog seriously there will be a "Axe effect" on the deodorant companies bottom line, but till then let the AXE effect continue for we all have to survive socially!

Yours socially!

Happy reading !

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nature of Truth & Truth of our nature !

Say True or False: "Sun rises in the east and sets in the West"

If we ask this question to anyone, a majority would say that its true. Few of us would also claim that its not false but would ask us to realize that sun neither rises nor sets, its a perception based on other truths like earth revolves around the sun and earth rotates itself from West to East.

Wiser among us would agree that both the views are true. While we feel that both are true, not many among us can explain as to how to explain the contradiction that exists, if at all it exists. :)Many philosophers have explained and talked about the concept and nature of truth and let me share what impressed me under this topic....

  • There are many contemparary theories on truth and its nature, like Correspondence Theory, the Semantic Theory, the Deflationary Theory, the Coherence Theory, and the Pragmatic Theory. You can google this and read about this. Thoughts from Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Confucius would spur your thinking process but I found some very interesting references in our own hindu scriptures and tamil literature very interesting....

In our Vedas and Upanishads, there are replete references Satyam (सत्य / சத்யம்) and ரிதம் / रिथं (Rhitham) and most references that i came across state

"Ritham Vathishyami, Satyam Vathishyami"

If you want to translate in English it just means let me tell the truth, but if you try to understand what it actually means, you will be surprised at the level of wisdom these scrips convey.

Simply put Ritham essentially means "vyavaharika truth" (worldly truth) and Satyam means "Paramarthika truth" (absolute). So what is Ritham? Sun rises in the east and sets in the west is "vyavaharika truth". The other does not need an interpretation as this is the absolute truth, which is sun neither rises or sets and the perception is because of earth is rotating itself.

If richness of the language is an indication of the maturity of civilization then indian languages & Civilization has no competition. I frequently quote 2 other examples that highlights the deep knowledge of nature, Indians had:

1. Geology in Sanskrit is called "Bhoogol". The word Gol means "round". The study of round earth is geology and this term has been in existence for thousands of years.

2. Brahmaand in Sanskrit means "Universe". The word Anda means "Egg".

This essentially means we knew that the world is round and the Univese is elliptical in shape and thats why we called it so. Compare that to a civilization that stoned people including Galileo as late as 17th century for claiming that the world is round and the scientific community which did not even knew that the Universe is elliptical till the mid / end of last century. I think we have to learn a great deal from our past which has been hidden from us for some reason or the other. Also we have a greater responsibility of passing it on the next generation.

But coming back to the main topic, the following couplet best explains the nature of truth:

வாய்மை எனப்படுவது யாதெனின் யாதொன்றும்

தீமை இலா சொலல்

This is a classic couplet from Thirukural, which tells what truth is in just one and half lines. Tamil professors are pretty kicked about this couplet since of the one half lines almost 3/4 th of the line actually means "Truth means what". So that exact meaning goes like this, " Truth means what, words that does not harm".

The way we are taught this couplet in school is with an example, Lets say you are chased by a mob and you come and hide in my house. The mob arrives and asks me if i have seen you running here. Now i know that you are hiding in my house and traditional wisdom suggests that i should speak the truth which is tell them "where you are".

But the interpretation of this couplet suggests that I should not tell them that you are here if i think they may harm you. Telling a "lie" at that time, that i dont know where you are, is still the truth.

The same concept is stressed by Manu,

"Satyam Brooyath, priyam Brooyath, na Brooyath satyam apriyam, Priyam cha nanrutham brooyath", which means

"Speak the truth, speak what is pleasant, don't speak unpleasant things even if its the truth, Dont speak pleasant things if its not the truth".

So the relative nature of the truth and more importantly that the nature of the truth is not in just its words / meaning but in its effect also, is the point which i wanted to emphasize.

"Men occasionally stumble on the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened" . While this article is about the "Nature of truth", "the truth about our nature" is the ability to live a shallow life and avoid thinking deeply on any issues at any level. This is the second point which i wanted to highlight.

So, does the Sun rise in East? :)

Your truthfully

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Return of the Tiger ..., Part 2

(Please read part 1 before this blog)

India currently has a GDP (PPP) of ~$3trillion (2007) as against the world's GDP of $65 trillion, which is just about 4.6% (india is 5th after EU is about $14.7, US is $13.8, China $7, Japan $4.3).

So let's analyse what contributed to this rise?

There is one easy argument many would buy that the English left us a legacy of democracy, English and a constitution that helped us to jump back. There is a saying that "History is actually the biography of the winners". These our supporting factors but not the core factors. This argument is proposed and marketed by western intellectuals and lets see each one of them:

  1. Democracy: According to Democracy Index 2006 refer the link below there are 28 full democracies, 54 flawed democracies (India, Brazil is among this list), 30 hybrid regimes (Russia), 55 authoritarian regimes (China is among this). Just the sheer list which indicates the most powerful nations like Russia, China were not even democracies does not bolster the argument that democracy has contributed to rapid growth of a nation. While i don't disagree that democracies sustain the growth better than anyone else since the risk of whims and fancies of authoritarian regimes are avoided.
  2. English Language: An estimated 2.2 billion people fall under the English speaking countries contributing a GDP of $18 trillion. China and Japan which contribute to over 1.5billion people and among the top 5 in terms of GDP nations don't fall under this category. Among the 1.1 billion people in India less than 250million ( less 25%) are equipped with English knowledge and certainly their contribution to the GDP is significant. But it should also be remembered that India is a predominantly rural, domestic and agri based economy.
  3. Constitution & Legal system: There is no need to talk about this in India as many of the laws are archaic and the law enforcement is actually the weakest link in this country. You cannot claim to be a rising nation due to this factor.
  4. Population: This is a possible argument as the consumerism & consumption has increased significantly and hence a young population would certainly contribute to the nations growth. If this is case then how come EU which has less than half a billion population and US which has just about 300 million people contribute to ~$14 trillion each (22% of GDP each). Also to just remind you, do you believe that Population is the reason why India is made this progress in the last 50 years? I think as a nation and the world has recognized India's population as a strength only in this decade. We have been continuously taught that population is our biggest problem. Hence i cannot accept something which has been viewed as a problem for the last 50 years has been the single factor contributed to our rise. There is something more.
  5. Education system: Partially yes. If you ask any academician / teacher / students he would respond that our students are forced to mug up and vomit instead of applying concepts in real life. There is a huge gap between the academic output and the employment readiness. Many industry leaders have complained that the English and academic skills are not at employable quality. Hence we may be better off than many countries but the amount of improvement which needs to be made is significant in this sector. Also our investment in education as a % of GDP is also negligible.

Then what can be the most important factor that has made this possible?

Is it the spirit of Indian people? May be yes, but you can attribute anything under this argument. There is something more fundamental, very integrated and yet not visible that contributes to a society which has come up in a big way which would not have been possible only with Government initiatives but also because of the direct result of the participation of the majority of the people.

What is this factor?

Lets see some of the byproducts of this factor before we discuss what this factor is...

  1. Despite having the lowest per capita, how has the educated & literate population has grown year on year for the last 50 years? This is despite very poor and negligible government spending on education.
  2. The police to people ratio is one of the lowest in the world and the police force is ill equipped to handle any major issues, despite that Indian society has been by far peaceful and calm.
  3. While there is a concern on increasing divorce rates, till a decade back India still has the lowest divorce rates in the world. (One stat indicate that in the city of Bangalore alone the increase in divorce rates are contributed by IT sector significantly. 50% of the ~2500 cases filed in Bangalore are from IT sector only.)
  4. Savings rate has been upwards of 35% over the last 50 years.

There are many such factors we can list but the basic binding force behind most of them in my opinion is the Indian Family values. India has been blessed with 2 generations (approx 60 years ) since independence to have great people who stuck to the Indian family values, took the responsibility of being a model citizen through self less love and dedication to their families.

These 2 generations educated themselves, worked hard, fiscally prudent, educated their families and children, saved a great deal for their family and children, did not get distracted by the governments inability to deliver good governance, social pressures, quota system, social unrest etc. Nothing distracted them from delivering a secured and quality life for their families.

The effect of good micro unit reflects in the macro set up and this has what has got us where we are now. India as a country and we as individuals should be indebted to these 2 generations which got us where we are now.

What could derail us is the damage to this institution and the indicators are:

  • Divided families ... financial independence to women is certainly a good thing but that need not result in divided families. World over this trend has proved detrimental to the microcosm and hence to the nation.
  • Falling education standards & overall educated people....... This is not measured by the number of school going children alone but measured as a continuum upto the number of doctorates we have. Our genes are programmed to hunt and acquire knowledge, we should not loose this thirst.
  • Absence of fiscal prudence .... a fall in the savings rate below 30% is a lead indicator as to where we are going.

To summarize, its the selfless, hardworking, model citizens with family values of the last 2 generations which actually took india from being one of the poorest nation to one of the super powers of the world. If you want me to hypothesize a situation where in India was not a democracy and English was not left behind by British, i would still bet on the indomitable spirit of the indian middle class and their family values which would have still seen India progressing... probably with far lesser divorce rates :).

What India would be in the next 50 years is purely dependent on us and the next generation. My guess is as good as yours. I hope it would not be a "Return of the Tiger" to where it started :).

Yours salutingly

Happy reading!

PS: Most of the statistics i have provided are from the top of my mind recollection and would stand corrected if something is significantly different.

Return of the Tiger .... Part 1

There has been a lot of discussions that this century shall be the 'Century of the Asians" - esp. India and China. Every day news is all about new economic world order blah blah... No. I am not going bore you with "Thump your chest" stats which you will anyway receive on every Jan 26th / Aug 15th.

India, from being the richest country in the world in 17th century, was one of the poorest till the mid of last century is rising again to be among the top nations. How can we as a nation undergiong few hundred years of exploitation & colonization could jump back in just about 60 years back to the world stage? This is the question which prompted this blog.

Let us pause and reflect on our inheritance. The historian Angus Maddison has painstakingly constructed the structure of world income over the past three centuries and shows us that in 1700, before the dawn of the industrial era, India, China and Europe accounted for similar shares of world income. (I have this very interesting excel sheet which estimates the GDP for the last 2000 years!... mail me if you want a copy). Each had a near 23% share of world income. By the middle of the 20th Century India’s share was down to a paltry 3%, China’s down to 5%. Europe and the United States together accounted for more than 50% of world income.

But this has not happened by accident but through a systematic process of exploiting India, erasing our link to the past and introducing English language to subjugate us. I am not sure how man knew the following facts:

1. We follow an education system (Macauly's system) introduced by Lord Macauly in 1835 or around that. Lets see his letter and his intentions of introducing English:

In his address to the British Parliament in 1835 , Mecaulay told - "I have travelled across the lenght and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation" In his own words: 'We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.

'In a letter to his father, a Protestant minister, Macaulay wrote: 'Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. The effect of this education on the Hindus is prodigious. ...It is my belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence.'

Macaulay's protégé Max Muller happily concurred in a letter to his wife: 'It the Rigveda is the root of their religion and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last three thousand years.' As Max Mueller, the propagator of the Aryan invasion theory, wrote to his wife, "It took only 200 years for us to Christianise the whole of Africa, but even after 400 years India eludes us, I have come to realize that it is Sanskrit which has enabled India to do so. And to break it I have decided to learn Sanskrit."

On this foundation of two+ lost centuries, a systematic eradication of our education system, introduction of a new language, Onus of integration of multiple states, partition of a great country into 2 and then 3, a civil war at the time of partition, almost 3 wars within the next 20 years we have tried to rebuild our home.

Compared to a near zero rate of growth of national income per year in the period 1900 to 1950, the Indian economy registered a 3.5% rate of growth between 1950 and 1980 and over 5.5% growth per annum between 1980 and 2000 and over 7% since 2000.

Though difficult, i wanted to short list one factor which contributed to our meteoric spring back to world stage in such a short span of time.

Lets see the reasons in the next blog ... wait for Part 2.

Happy reading!

Friday, November 14, 2008

At last wisdom seems to dawn!

One of the news that made me feel better today is this news:
U.S. backs away from plan to buy bad assets (

If you have been following the $700b package launched by Bush admin, which planned to buy troubled assets (TARP) - a move very widely critized by many analysts. Today's news article goes like this "Treasury's Henry Paulson officially abandoned plans to buy troubled assets through the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Instead, the government will continue to pump money directly into financial institutions. Paulson said the program will also begin to focus on consumer credit by trying to increase the availability of student loans, auto loans and credit cards, and will examine ways to prevent foreclosures."

To simplify things lets assume we have the same situation in India and for argument sake lets assume that you have lost your job, unable to pay the mortgages and hence lost your house and car.

I am probably holding $700b package in my hands and have the power to influence on this situation in a +ve way then what decision do i take?

1. Do i go and buy your house & Car?
2. Do i support you with loans, jobs, easy availability of credit so that you can stand up on your feet and reclaim the assets?

The answer is very simple even to a person with average intelligence like me.

This is the decision that has been taken. Refer to my blog (Fiscally prudent American *..) where i would have emphasised this point and world over there was hue and cry over the decision to buy TA.

In fact Gordon brown went on record to say that our program is better than US TARP program since we are not buying bad assets.

Its a simple and logical decision but still expecting one such from Bush's team is difficult and being over optimistic. Probably in the last 8 years if one strategic policy has been reviewed and corrected this is one of them.

A dying light burns bright and lo! the wisdom has dawned now for this team.

Still i felt better after reading the news and hence the early morning blog.

Yours fiscally

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Never listen to an analyst! - Be the master of your destiny

Today India's inflation numbers have been announced and as predicted analysts were wrong. The expectations were around 10.2% and it landed up at 8.98%. No wonder they say an economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why that which he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.

The announcement from Ratan Tata on the overall economic scenario and the reports about increasing job lossses in places like UK were not exactly the news you would cherish. There are lot of uncertainities and many are confused as to how to manage their personal finances.

Without sounding advisory i will share few pointers as to how you can plan yourself since i have seen many of my friends are extremely brilliant but still lack financial planning knowledge. We are Ignorant only in different subjects".

1. Stay with cash. This seems to be a very stupid pointer since many including me would respond that if i have cash then i would stay cash. :). The point meant is avoid huge financial commitments like asset additions at this juncture. The question then arises is how much is sufficient?

  • Just break up your financials into following Total Income (A), House hold expenses (B), Investements & savings (C), Debts that are serviced (D), Total fixed assets you own (E), Total assets under loan / debt (F).
  • Ideally you should have 6 times that of the commitments as cash or easily convertible to cash. Commitments here means (B+D). You cant survive without this.
  • If there is an emergency you need to sustain for 6 months which seems to be the time for you to recoupe and find a new job.
  • During uncertain times you can increase it to 9 months may be.
  • If you are keen on continuing the investments too in this period then take (B+C+D).

2. Look at your debt service ratio (D/A):
Ensure that D/A does not exceed 25% to 30%. If it exceeds then you are diverting too much resources in accumulating long term assets.

3. Look at your savings ratio (C/A);
Ensure that this more than 35%. Please note that this is less than 1% in countries like US. In India the average is close to 35% i think. The lesser it is, worse shall be your retirement life and long term requirements. (If you are interested more on this check another blog of mine " Fiscally prudent american is a sucker")

4. Gear Ratio (F/E):
Ensure that this is less than 30%. This essential gives you the leverage you have on your networth. Many US companies & house holds are in deep trouble because it is highly leveraged. What does this mean, simply put if your networth is $1 and you take loans for $1 then you are 100% (1:1) leveraged. Lehman which went bust was leveraged on 30:1, which was heavily leveraged.

Please understand that bad debts are created at good times!. Fiscal prudence and living within the means are not old school of thoughts that are extinct but are very much applicable to all us and personal finance is the place to practice this.

Yours fiscally,

Happy reading!
PS; I am not an expert and would not provide any advice for charges / free. Please note that i believe in the saying "you are the master of your destiny".

Musings on mankind! - I was born divine and education ruined me !

"God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:27).

One of the popular beliefs is that God has created man and this world in 6 days and rested on the 7th day. I think Man is superior to god as some like me believe that man has created god and has been creating for now thousands of centuries. So just by the sheer durability of his work and his ability to give and take lives in the name of “his creation” makes him more superior and committed than god himself.

This theory of mine is supported by god himself in Mahabharata, as he says “Guhyam brahma tadidam vo bravimi, Na manusat sresthataram hi kincit” meaning I tell you this secret of Brahman, there is nothing superior than man.

Upanishads said “Atmanam Viddhi” and Socrates said the same “Know thyself”, and many emphasized that the noblest study for mankind is man himself or rather how man is kindness incorporated…. Probably that’s why they probably named it as mankind. Yet we are far away from that. At the risk of sounding like a MCP (I particularly like having certain qualities of pig and you can know why in one of my earlier blogs) I may just want to tickle my “femlib” friends by asking as to why there is no word called “womankind” in our dictionaries.

Ability of the humankind to embrace the mathematical concept of “differentiation” and applying it in every aspect of life is astounding. The fact that the path to god is blocked by temples, churches and mosques or rather the people who have built them makes us call for not the abolition of all religions (since religion is the manifestation of divinity in man) but to call for a new religion which is “Creative humanism”.

What’s the fastest way to get this concept reach to masses? Our ability to unite ourselves and channelize our energies “against something” is natural and higher than rallying behind something “which is for” hence the “Creative Humanism” should be a religious political party rallying against all the religions and political parties. This seems to be a tactical way than a strategic option.

  1. Is man just an animal capable of laughing and thinking or he is an animal who is capable of entering into a communion with a being higher than himself?
  2. Is man just an object, subjecting himself and setting standards as “Virtue” and consistently falling below it, receiving a technical correction such as “punishment” and is happy to call someone virtuous who has the lowest criminal record in a degrading society?
  3. Were our ancestors whom we claim to be sages were dumb enough or mischievous enough to hide the objectivity of life and hid the philosophy under subjective concepts of “relativistic subjectivism” or “unqualified, undefined relativism” or “undeterministic humanism”?
  4. Is man kind so dumb not to unravel the impermanence, un-manifested interconnection among all things in this universe?

Man, per me, is nature incarnated with

  • Mountains of desire
  • Valleys of sorrow
  • Depth of an oceans as love
  • Brightness of a sun
  • Reflectability of a moon
  • Caves of private alleys
  • Underworlds of fear
  • Towers of yearning
  • Power of his will
  • Sense of responsibility and an
  • Volcanic urge to realize himself

Yo! Where has he lost all these traits?

For he is bonded by his desire, which has an inherent intention to expire….. He is caught in serving the suicidal instincts of his desire that asserts itself as an urge to attain satisfaction. You and me are caught in this cycle!

How do we extract ourselves out of this… we need desires that has the intention to endure than to die. They call this passion. You are your deep driving passion says kathopanishad.

But it’s important we need the passion to realize ourselves. Then one can rise above the temporality of existence; understand the obscurity of nature and the paradox of this existence. He would recognize the value of life and the divinity in it.

  • Then should the first lesson not be what is desire and what is passion and how to have the right passion?
  • Should anthropology & philanthropy not be the first subjects in school than anything else?

We are trained to be materialistic from kintergarden. If we teach our children A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Cycle... we just associate everything materialistic in life from the first alphabet.

Where has the Indian system of education teaching values & value systems gone?

A land known for producing philosophers in large scale long before industrialization era, has not produced even one in the last century. Why?

Ah!, I was born divine and the education ruined me!

Happy reading !

PS; If you also agree with this then leave a f* comment below. :)

PS; f* = fitting

World isn't a fair place!

"Books are my best friends" said some wise man. I try hard to maintain my reading habits and thats proving to be a challenge. But there are instances that your mind is ready to absorb what you read and you come across some information that moves something deep inside you!
Check out this link, which had that effect on me

Some startling facts are as follows:
  1. More than 80% of the world's population sustains in less than $10 (INR 500/-) per day. More than 40% live below $2 per day. If you can read this you belong to the top 20% since you can afford a computer and an internet connection.
  2. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.
  3. According to UNICEF, 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty.
  4. Number of children in the world is 2.2 billion and kids in poverty is 1 billion (every second child).
  5. In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth just 1.5%
  6. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
  7. A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World.
  8. Consider the global priorities in spending in 1998: (All in US $, billions)
    Cosmetics in the United States $8
    Ice cream in Europe $11
    Perfumes in Europe and the United States $12
    Pet foods in Europe and the United States $17
    Business entertainment in Japan $35
    Cigarettes in Europe $50
    Alcoholic drinks in Europe $105
    Narcotics drugs in the world $400
    Military spending in the world $780
  9. And compare that to what was estimated as additional costs to achieve universal access to basic social services in all developing countries: (All in US $, billions)
    Basic education for all $6
    Water and sanitation for all $9
    Reproductive health for all women $12
    Basic health and nutrition $13

The total amount need to make a change is about $40 billion, which is less than what people spend on cigarettes alone in Europe. If we cut 1%, just 1% of our military spending we can provide basic education for all.

This just goes to prove that rich become richer at the cost of the others. Competitive extremism, divisive politics, absolute lack of governance to ensure the money allotted is spent and a numerous other reasons can be cited and we can hide behind these reasons and if not justify be insensitive to this.

There are multiple ways listed in the site and else where to overcome some of the issues which we cannot comment on its efficacy. But what is clear atleast is the absolute insensitivity of the rich and powerful where they have designed a system that scratches each other back (I scratch yours and you scratch mine) and hence its a systemic & systematic exploitation.

What can we as individuals do? I cant think of anything that would have significant impact in th short term but certainly in the long term... remember we are in the top 20% bracket and hence we are the problem and only we can provide the solution. Let me list a few of them:

1. Never ever ever ever ever waste food. Understand that 30000 children die every day of food. Please ensure that you or your family members dont ever waste a morsel of food. If there is an excess in a hotel or in our house, pack it neatly and offer it to the needy. I have not been upto this yet.

2. Reduce your consumption. Fast atleast once a week or fortnight. Apart from being healthy (fasting in the night), carry the thought of thousands who are hungry unlike you (not by choice). An old saying in India highlights that

"If you eat once a day you are yogi, if you east twice a day you are Bhogi(epicurean / gourmet), and if you eat three times a day then you are a rogi (a diseased person)... Also remember adi shankara's quote that "food is the medicine for the disease called hunger...(refer to one of my earlier blog)

3. Donate. Never hesitate to donate or offer charity. Life is all about giving. Try participating in a "Anna Dhana" in a temple or society or community and serve the food with your hands and realize how you feel. Make a % of your disposable income (however small, remember 40% of the world is living in less than $2 a day) earmarked for this charity.

4. Most important of all is to inculcate these values into your kids when they are young. We have inherited this place from our ancestors and have to hand it over to our kids. When we hand over lets ensure that we do it with the right values.

There is an interesting aspect which i read as to how to donate and what should be our predominant feelings when we donate:

  1. Shraddha Deyam - Give it with Involvement and faith & with a smile.
  2. Shriya Deyam - Give it according to your income (what you can afford).
  3. Hriya Deyam - Dont feel proud that you are giving but feel shy and awkward that you are unable to give more. Give it with humilty.
  4. Biya Deyam - Have respect for the people to whom you are giving.
  5. Samvidha Deyam - Have the right attitude - which means dont think you are doing a favor by giving it to others. You are actually helping yourself.
  6. After giving never think of what all you have given. Just forget that you have given it.

I also want to share the importance of food as listed in some of our scriptures which i will blog later.

For the time being lets recognize that world is not a fair place and be sensitive to the majority of the mankind. We can hope for a messiah to come and correct the situation but have to finally understand that we have to be the change we wish for! IF WE WISH FOR!

"Shreyo bhooyat sakala janaanam"

Yours hopefully

Happy reading!

PS; I have included the link in my blog for easy reference for you to get a feel of the world we live in!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

'coz friends are for lifefull !

(A brief attempt on a English poem. Surprisingly this is my first attempt and i wrote this in about 30 minutes)...
Good & true friends, too fight and an element of misunderstanding creeps in. Both of them may miss and share the same feeling but one / both may refrain from taking the steps to resolve, may be because both may feel strongly that the other person was wrong. Here the one with stronger feeling is expressing it. The gender is immaterial, and you can replace "her" with "him", but choose the gender opposite to yours (assuming the world is straight) and it will sound sweeter!

I know her so well
She knows me so well
In our hearts we dwell
Ain’t sure where did it swell

Our minds were so blending
Tastes were so matching
Interests ever adding
Even when we were not meeting

We were not in a hurry
Nothing ever remotely awry
A special feeling we carry
Why should we feel sorry?

Life has been taxing
Gloom has been waxing
Smile has been waning
But she is still testing

Her beads so troubling
Her silence so killing
Mirrors aren’t accusing
But heart is still longing

Never did I envisage
Thoughts can form a cage
It’s a night of damage
Hmmmm, Life is a package

Even if you are all wise
There’s little bit of vice
No, not a tinge of malice
Never intend to be an accomplice

Cut off my wrong hand
And extend your right hand
Drag me from the quicksand
And take me to a highland

Disband your hair band
Switch over to broadband
You're stranded in an island
I am here, your homeland.

If you can understand
There nothing to reprimand
My heart is a wasteland
With you it’s a wonderland

Conference calls go on
Get togethers roll on
Happier moments come by
Yet, deep inside its lil' dry

Mind has been mailing
Heart has been calling
Hands have been texting
But a wall has been tenting

I don’t want to meet up
But I don’t want to break up
Need a one time catch up
To ease out the hiccup

Love me for what I am
Scold me for what I am
Kick me for what I am
Hate me for what I am
But never leave me for what I am

She isn’t playful
Efforts aren’t fruitful
Life isn’t beautiful
It’s been so painful

I can be careful
But can’t be never sinful
I am still hopeful
‘coz friends are for lifefull
‘coz friends are for lifefull

Happy reading!

Chase your passion and not your pension!

"When things go wrong as they sometimes will;

When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;

When the funds are low, and the debts are high

And you want to smile, but have to sigh;

When care is pressing you down a bit

Rest if you must, but do not quit.

Success is failure turned inside out;

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;

And you can never tell how close you are

It may be near when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit

It's when things go wrong that you must not quit."

Working for an organization that over 110 years old, which has just not seen and survived but thrived among 2 world wars, great depressions, multiple cycles of economic fluctations, hundreds of break throughs in communication technology and not just being a witness to the digitization of the world but as a thought leader, a visionary, and a key stake holder in our many of customer's business, you are nothing but inspired especially when the times are tough and the organization is determined to put a fight for its survival and revival.

The results are not great and its easy to sulk and quit. But smooth seas don't produce skilled sailors. As an individual when i retire i want to be known as a skilled sailor and dont want to be review my life and regret for what i have not done. Its not the pension am after but my passion!

I read a critic commenting to the results yesterday "that the chairs are being rearrnaged at the deck of titanic" and chose to ignore it as i also read that "No where in the world there are statues for critics".

I work for Nortel and i cant predict the future, but nothing can take away my efforts and determination to put up a fight! Check the latest ad clip and get inspired!

"The times are tough but so I am,

Iam short on cash but long on hope,

Iam fallin' down to smell the grass,

Iam bouncin back to kick your a**"

Happy Reading!

Life is a billion breath package !

"A healthy mind has an easy breath."

Not many realize that when we were born god has sent us with a current account which is filled with a billion breaths (approx) and we are programmed to continuously withdraw at some rate from this account and this program is called as "Life". When we manage a "Lehman brothers" on this account then 'death" occurs.

The math goes something like this:
  1. It takes 4 seconds for a breath (Inhalation and exhalation), 15 a minute and 21600 for a day.
  2. For 120 years its just about a billion breaths (0.946 billion to be precise..)
Many scriptures say that excessive emotions like anger, sex etc waste our breath and hence the account gets drawn more than it is programmed for. The importance of "Pranayama" is stressed for the longevity and health.
The above details are known to many who is little interested in Yoga / Ayurveda. But what i was very suprised to hear and read was the following which also prompted me to blog this article.
  1. You all may be aware of 7 chakras that are very vital in our body and these are the energy centers. (Google it for more details).
  2. I read that this breath which we inhale and exhale stays in these chakras for a fixed period of time during the day / night accounting for 24 hours and 21600 breaths and the cycle continues every day.

This is something which i have not read anywhere so far and have come across which am sharing here. It is said that when one can suspend his respiratory movements for five minutes and twenty-four seconds, he is considered to be an adept at pranayama.Then he can perceive the existence of the universal life force within.It is claimed in the texts that after five minutes of suspension, thebrain requires six hours to return to its former state.
It is said that the senses become suspended when one can perform kumbhaka for a period of ten minutes and forty-eight seconds."
What is known as total suspension requires thirteen and half minutes and results in the experience of samadhi.
We generally tend have a tendency to take things for granted that are simple and free. Our suspension of breath are generally limited to few seconds due to a dose of bad news in the sensex or some trivial things like that.
Our ability to drive ourselves to the edge with out an internal credit management for this current account drives our risks higher of being "liquidated" earlier than planned.
  • Fear less, hope more;
  • Eat less, chew more;
  • Whine less, breathe more;
  • Talk less, say more;
  • Hate less, love more; and all good things are yours says a sweedish proverb!

    Breathing is simple and air around us is free (atleast so far) but we tend to ignore the effects of managing the same beneficially!

    Life is a billion breath package and how much have you used up so far?
    Yours breathingly!
Happy reading!