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When we visit a new place, everything looks sparkling and bright. As we zip through the streets,  the sign boards look shinier. The way side eateries appear to be serving items which smell much better than the ones in the place where we live.

Likewise, when we meet a new person whom we have liked at first sight, we get swayed. We look for matching vibrations. We look for a resonance in our thoughts. We try to find common interests. Everything about that person just sounds perfect at that point in time.

For most of us, the appetite for novelty is virtually inexhaustible. We are always seeking something new. Whether it is career or home, books or movies, clothes or food, we are eagerly looking forward to a change of scene. When our routine lives bog us down, we go off on a vacation. The wanderers and explorers within us ensure that our interest in our own lives is always alive and kicking.

In most relationships, we soon reach a pleateu of sorts. We start noticing warts. We start discovering the other person’s weaknesses. Much like the new place which starts looking jaded, the new relationship no longer holds us enamoured.

Boredom soon follows. The sheen of novelty gets completely worn off. It gets replaced by contempt. We start detesting the person. Traits which appealed to us some time back assume a negative hue. At times, one has to take a call whether to continue with the relationship. This is the time when we are likely to take a more balanced view of the relationship.

Life continues throwing challenges. These test the strength and the tenacity of the relationship. If we find that the other person has been faithful, frank and sacrificing, we realize his/her real value in our lives. If the overall contribution of the other person has been significant, we continue with the relationship.

We could also continue with a relationship based on either necessity or fear. But such bonds become vitiated over a period of time and the real joy of togetherness is lost. Love is not about keeping someone chained to us; it is more about letting go.

For any relationship to be truly healthy and sustainable, a degree of freedom for each one is a must.  The bond might imply exclusivity, but not of a kind which becomes suffocating for the other person. The respect we have for the wishes and likes of the other person needs to get reciprocated.

Relationships happen to be like tender saplings. Given the right soil conditions of our own character, regular exposure to the sunlit warmth of care, routine watering by the elixir of affection, and occasional nourishment by pleasant surprises, the plant grows. Its roots become stronger. Its branches and leaves provide the perfect shelter. A relationship which is not nurtured thus tends to wither away over a period of time.

How does one tackle relationships which have gone stale over a period of time? How does one reinvigorate them?

A brief period of separation helps. A surprise helps. Getting back spontaneity helps. Imagining the absence of the other person helps. A frank dialogue helps. A warm hug, or even a touch, helps. Putting ourselves in the shoes of the other person helps. Doing something together of mutual interest helps. Even enquiring about the progress of the other person’s pet project helps. Cutting down on cynicism helps.

The main challenge in keeping relationships healthy and vibrant is posed by the novelty we are always seeking. The good news is that novelty has many facets. An innovative approach can put the pep back into most of our relationships.

How do you overcome the challenge of novelty to keep your relationships charged? Would you like to share your recipe for attaining everlasting happiness in a relationship?

The new government in India has promised to cut red tape and substitute it with a red carpet. This is a great promise, but one has to wait and see how it actually unfolds. India has a federal structure in place. So, unless states come on board, wannabe entrepreneurs might still be found running from pillar to post negotiating their way through the dense maze of policies, procedures and rules at all levels. A major MNC recently stated that as many as 167 approvals were required before its project could see the light of the day.

The Doing Business 2013 report of the World Bank ranks India at 134 out of 189 countries in ease of doing business. India has questioned the methodology of the World Bank. This could satisfy the ego of some patriots amongst us. But the stark reality is that the costs of setting up and running a business in India are unreasonably high.

One also needs to consider the fact that India’s infrastructure is anything but world-class. There is a mismatch between the skill set available in the labor market and the needs of the industry. Policy framework is inconsistent, giving rise to a sense of uncertainty in the mind of investors. Add to this India’s poor record in enforcing contracts due to legal delays and the tendency to slap taxes on a retrospective basis, and the high level of discomfort experienced by investors can be readily explained.

One of the most serious stumbling blocks to India’s growth story is the widespread corruption. Businesses which are driven by pure greed find this rather handy. But those which stand by business ethics and operate within the paradigm of a value system detest this scenario. The latter surely deserve all the encouragement they can get.

The new government in India would do a great service to the nation by seriously cracking down on corruption. Some baby steps do appear to have been taken, but these do not attack the root cause of the problem. It is good to chase black money stashed abroad. But steps need to be taken to stem the rot at the root level itself.

Here are some steps which could possibly help to curb the growth of the  cancer of corruption:

  • Political funding needs to be brought on a transparent plane. This can only be done if there is a clear message that witch-hunting of businesses, especially in case of a change of regime, would not take place. Suitable changes in India’s taxation laws would also help. Till the time political expenditure remains obscure, red tape would continue to hinder the country’s growth.
  • Bureaucracy performs a critical function. Safeguards can be improved. A well thought-out stick-and-carrot policy can be introduced and then ruthlessly implemented. This would ensure that the tendency of some to seek rent for grant of mandatory approvals is curbed.
  • A strategic policy for use of natural resources needs to be announced and implemented. It is not only about mineral resources but also about India’s rivers, airwaves and other bounties of nature.
  • Real estate sector needs structural reforms. A stronger MIS system is the need of the hour. Uniform rates of stamp duties attracted by property transactions across the country would go a long way in creating a level-playing field. Administering collections and detecting frauds would also become easier.
  • Pushing through DTC and GST would result in better revenues. This would give the government better leeway to reduce taxes across the board. In turn, this would improve Indians’ collective honesty levels.

On their part, businesses also need to do some soul-searching. By raising the bar higher on the compliance front, they could improve their market valuation. Their brand image is bound to get a makeover for the good. In turn, this helps them to attract more business as also more skilled employees.

Once a demonstration effect sets in, the government machinery would also develop confidence and stop viewing them through a jaundiced lens of suspicion. Instead, this would enable the government to go ahead with self-certification in several areas, thereby utilizing its own human resources better.

All of these are bitter pills to swallow. But unless this pain and suffering of chemotherapy and surgery is undergone, the cancer of corruption would continue to thrive. A strong political will alone can achieve this cure of the Indian system.

[Related posts:

http://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/a-16-point-agenda-for-the-16th-lok-sabha-of-india

http://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/combating-the-cancer-of-corruption%5D

Leave of Absence

Dear Fellow Bloggers, Followers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

The high and low tides of life are finally about to take their toll,

For some time I am likely to be off the Blogsville radar, sorely missing you all.

 

Continue with your voracious readings, have fun, enjoy your time,

Yours truly would soon be back on board with prose and verse that rhyme.

 

I shall be sorely missing the inner joy of writing and its associated pleasure,

Rewards of your valuable feedback I shall relish on return at my leisure.

 

AWOL I do not aspire to be, hence this request,

Do please grant me a short leave of absence in right earnest!

ashokbhatia:

The world is inhabited by two kinds of people – those who have come to depend upon a tissue restorative of some kind and others who chug along their lives in a perfectly sober state of mind. However, a vast majority keeps shifting its loyalties between the two kinds, keeping an age old question alive and ticking – to drink or not to drink!
Here is a tipsy post from the inimitable Honoria which you might relish.
Hic, hic, hurray!

Originally posted on Plumtopia: The world of P.G. Wodehouse:

‘There are moments when one needs a drink. Are there moments, indeed, when one doesn’t?’

So says M"BarmyInWonderland" by http://www.facsimiledustjackets.com/cgi-bin/fdj455/2890.html. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Barmy in Wonderland via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BarmyInWonderland.jpg#mediaviewer/File:BarmyInWonderland.jpgervyn Potter, the Hollywood heart-throb, who leads poor Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps astray in Barmy in Wonderland (1952). But before you start quoting these sentiments as the views of the author himself, have look at what happens to the frequently pie-eyed Mervyn.

In Chapter One, he gets blotto, burns down a hotel bungalow, and induces Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (a hotel employee) to slip a frog into his employer’s bedroom. In Chapter Five, Mervyn is already soaked when Barmy arrives at his house (for a dinner he never gets).

It was plain to him that the other, fatigued no doubt after a long day’s rehearsal, had yielded to the dictates of his lower self and for some considerable time must have been mopping up the stuff like a vacuum cleaner. If not actually ossified, he was…

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Success often makes us complacent. On the other hand, failures help us in our relentless pursuit of excellence.OVERSTAYING ONE’S WELCOME

My own experience tells me that it helps to befriend and manage our failures. Each failure makes us discover a latent strength of ours. Each one has the potential to open up fresh vistas in our lives.

Yes, it also helps to take a step back to evaluate our successes, so the critical factors behind those could be understood better.

Befriending Failures

There is no cut-and-dried formula for managing failures. However, I do believe that a renewed focus on the following factors can help us in getting more out of our failures.

Giving up Self-pity

It does not get us anywhere. It only ties us down to a past which can’t be rewound and rerun. Negative things do happen. It does not mean that all others are as happy as they appear to be. Let us look up ourselves in the mirror of our soul. The nastiest comment made to us could have a grain of truth which could be a great lesson for us to get out of the emotional wilderness.

Doing a Root Cause Analysis

What makes us bite the dust? Over-confidence or lack of confidence? Wrong tactics? Faulty implementation? Taking someone’s effort for granted? Let us resist the temptation to blame others for our failures. Let us look inwards. Let us introspect. What did we do wrong? Friends and well-wishers can help us to figure this out. Going forward, the trick is in ensuring we do not make the same mistakes again.

Understanding Core Values

What are our core values? Despite adversity, can we stick to them? This is not to say that we should lack flexibility. At the same time, it is crucial to remain connected to our inner core, around which our universe can be rebuilt with ease.

DisciplineBoss - Meet Him Halfway Through

Did we fail because we slipped on any of our parameters of discipline? Did we believe someone and acted on misleading information without cross-checking what the ground realities were? How can we avoid jumping to conclusions and acting on impulses? Do we plan to spend some quiet time with ourselves and etch out a plan in detail before rolling it on for implementation?

Punctuality

This might sound too simplistic, but believe me, it is not. Respect for others’ time is a virtue effective managers invariably have. Taking our own commitments seriously is a quality that all successful people have. Delivering results in a time-bound manner is one of the single most important factors determining our success in life.

Physical Fitness

Mind rules over body. But if the body were to revolt, what are we left with? Abusing and neglecting our bodies lands us in a crisis situation sooner or later. We suffer. Our near and dear ones suffer. Let us take care of ourselves better, so the body will support us through the vicissitudes of life.

KnowledgeJOB LABELS and Skills

In our desire for advancements in career, we often take on assignments for which we do not really have the domain knowledge. This is a good way – to challenge ourselves and to enrich our knowledge bank. Learning the basics from a subject expert never hurt anyone. Subduing our ego while seeking support from others helps.

Humanity and Common Sense

Being humane in our approach minimizes our chances of failure. Are there others who care for us so much that they will alert us of the pitfalls on the way to our achieving a major goal? There is pretty little we can do all by ourselves. Delegation helps. So does networking with those who have a more pragmatic approach than we do.

Habits Leading to Failure

Generally speaking, the following habits could prove to be a recipe for disaster.
• Concern about job and not career
• Earning but not learning
• Focus on Branding ourselves and not on our work content
• Higher concern about what others are doing

Evaluating our Successes

The following factors help us in evaluating and then replicating our successes better:PROMOTIONS
• Understanding our own words and beliefs;
• Smallest of actions is much greater than the largest of intentions;
• ‘Now’ is the only time available;
• Never tell a lie; it does not help in the long run;
• Don’t be too eager to make a promise; if made, never break it!

Some Basic Truths

Some basic truths of life that we need to realize and imbibe:
That human worth has nothing to do with status;
Power must always be balanced by humility and a willingness to listen and learn;
Arrogance is never justifiable;
Privilege always entails responsibility.

It is said that ‘Success is a bastard and Failure is an orphan’. Let us try checking the DNA of our successes, so we have a better chance of replicating those in future. As to failures, let us try and adopt the hapless orphans we run into in our careers and lives!

Bollywood’s take on corruption differs across various time zones. Just as the society has evolved, so has the approach taken by Bollywood on depicting and tackling corruption changed over the past few decades.

In the black and white era of Gandhian simplicity, it was often more about the bad guys being urban gentlemen and the good guys being rural urchins. Movies like ‘Do Bigha Zameen’ (1953), ‘Jagte Raho’ (1956) and ‘Parakh’ (1960) readily come to one’s mind.

Jagte_Raho_1956_film_poster

We have also had movies where the lead cast suffered in dignified silence. The audience was often left with a feeling of disgust towards all those who were shown as corrupt. Movies like ‘Satyakam’ (1969) left us with a fond hope that things would somehow improve in the future. satyakam

Then came the angry-young-man phase. Here, we had the revenge theme. Muscular power ruled and the law of the land took a back seat. The hero, whether single-handedly or along with his buddies, went about killing the corrupt ones with gay abandon. Movies like ‘Deewar’ (1975), ‘Ardha Satya’ (1983), ‘Andha Kanoon’ (1983), ‘Shool’ (1999), ‘Rang De Basanti’ (2006) and ‘Rajneeti’, (2010) typified the violent kind of response to the scourge of corruption.

Rand De Basanti_poster

In some cases, the message was that of joining the system, so as to be able to reform it from within. ‘Yuva’ (2004) represented a treatment of this nature.Yuva_(movie_poster)

Yet another genre in the corruption-related movies churned out by our Dream Merchants is that of comedy. The script presents corrupt practices laced with a liberal dose of humour. The underlying message is serious, but the packaging is satirical. Over time, this mode appears to be becoming more popular.

Here are some of the movies which have successfully attempted to comment upon the issue of corruption in a humorous manner.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

Jaane_Bhi_Do_Yaaro_1983_film_poster(‘Just Let it Pass, Friends’, Kundan Shah, 1983)

A great spoof on the unholy nexus between politicians, builders and media people, with great performances by Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani.The climax scene which is a rip-roaring mix up of vignettes from Mahabharata and Mughal-e-Azam is a must watch for all cinema lovers. In an irony of fate, both the main protagonists end up going to jail for a crime they merely reported but never committed.

Lage Raho, Munna Bhai

Lage_raho_munna_bhai(‘Carry On, Munna Bhai’, Rajkumar Hirani, 2006)

By re-packaging the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and interpreting them to suit the present context, the movie gave an effective anti-dote to corrupt practices. Property sharks, blind faith, dating do’s and don’ts, depression arising out of failure – all get treated head-on by the ultimate virtue – truthfulness.

Khosla Ka Ghosla

Khosla ka ghosla(‘Khosla’s Nest’, Dibakar Banerjee, 2006)

How property sharks operate and how a simple family can tackle such issues was brought home in a light-hearted manner in this movie. As a side benefit, the incident of property grabbing brings all the family members emotionally closer to each other.

Welcome to Sajjanpur

Welcome to sajjanpur(Shyam Benegal, 2008)

Shyam Benegal is renowned for having exposed oppression and corruption of different kinds in his earlier works during the ‘parallel cinema’ wave. ‘Ankur’ (1974), ‘Nishant’ (1975), ‘Manthan’ (1976) and ‘Bhumika’ (1977) etc left us stirred and shaken up in the earlier years. All these were very intense and serious movies. In the recent past, he has effectively used satire to convey a similar message. A remarkable transformation!

In ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur’, romance blossoms against the backdrop of corrupt politicians and hapless administrators. How the honest ones get to win in the end gives out a clear message as to how the ordinary citizen can indeed make a difference.

Well Done, Abba

Well done abba(‘Well Done, Dad’, Shyam Benegal, 2009)

How do you handle rampant corruption which makes a mockery of the benefit schemes rolled out by the government? A father-daughter duo, after having failed to get a well dug up with the aid of government funds, report to the police that their non-existent well has been ‘stolen’! What ensues is sheer hilarity. Upcoming state assembly elections ensure the complaint gets heard and acted upon.

Do Dooni Chaar

Do dooni chaar(‘Two Times Two Make Four’, Habib Faisal, 2010)

The movie was basically a hilarious take on the ambition of an ordinary middle class family to somehow upgrade to a four-wheeler. In a crucial episode, the hero, a teacher with modest means, endears himself to us by refusing to accept a bribe to declare an otherwise failing student successful.

Chala Musaddi Office Office

Chala_Mussaddi..._Office_Office(‘Musaddi Goes to Office’, Rajiv Mehra, 2011)

What does a person do when an inefficient and corrupt system declares him dead on government records?! An amusing story of how the hapless person goes about knocking the doors of justice to get his pension and identity restored.

Bhootnath Returns

Bhoothnath_returns(‘The Ghost Returns’, Nitesh Tiwari, 2014)

The nexus between crime and politics was etched out rather well in this movie. To fix mundane problems in a locality – power, water, roads, sewage, et al – a ghost decides to contest an election!

Admiring Bollywood
One admires Bollywood for several facets of its collective character. Other than the ability to handle a serious issue like corruption in a lighter vein, it also has the capacity to laugh at itself. Movies like ‘Rang Birangi’ and ‘Om Shanti Om’ are proof enough.

Bollywood is also secular. It does not matter which religion you believe in – meritocracy rules. Look at the credits of any movie and you would notice the diversity of faiths amongst those who have contributed towards making the movie.

Taking Corruption Head-on!
In most of these movies, the basic premise seems to be that an ordinary citizen can also make a difference to the system. If he/she refuses to pay for services which are his/her right, a change can start happening. Also, there is a strong need to clean up our political system. On this hope, we continue to live!

ashokbhatia:

For those of us Indians who just love berating themselves, here is a great morale booster. We get ruled more by our hearts, rather than by our minds. I believe this a major trait which supplements the ones listed in this interesting blog post!

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

India, the first culture in the world, the treasure house of ancient wisdom and scriptures, the birthplace of algebra, trigonometry and calculus, the inventors of Zero and the binary number system, the world’s first university, inventors of Yoga and Ayurveda and rightly called the cradle of human race.

As an Indian I have many reasons to revel in the glory of my origins but there is one more thing about my country that makes my heart swell with pride — it’s people and the way they conduct their lives even when they have nowhere the resources or means readily available to their US or European counterparts.

There are many valuable lessons to be learned from the stalwart spirit and intrepid valor with which Indian live their life and amaze the world (and this has nothing to do with meditation, turmeric, yoga or chess). Here are a few:

To…

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