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Archive for August, 2012

Dear Aamir ji,

As a person front-ending the ‘Satyamev Jayate’ show, you are truly making a change in the way we think and react to situations. Allow me to repeat a comment from one of your famous movies: ‘Jahaan-panah, tussi great ho…!’.

Our Sundays would never be the same again. After a sumptuous breakfast, we had got used to becoming couch potatoes, settling down in front of our TV sets. Like ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’ in the past, ‘Satyamev Jayate’ had got us used to a new prime time on TV!

 Each episode brought into our drawing rooms real issues we were aware of but had never thought of in detail. We have all built a cocoon around us. Safe in our self-created comfort zones, we believe that the problems we are aware of need to be addressed by someone else.

Well, here was a show that made us sit up and think. Harsh reality came knocking at our emotionally impregnable doors every Sunday. If we ever entertained self-congratulatory thoughts of India becoming a super power in the days to come, we learnt the sober reality of the long way we are yet to go to be able to make it.

Bringing about a change is not easy, whether at the individual level or at the societal level. By washing our own dirty linen in public, we at least made a beginning – by showing the courage to admit that problems exist, and by beginning to discuss these. The brains behind ‘Satyamev Jayate’ deserve kudos for this.

Right from female foeticide and sexual abuse of children to domestic violence and water and food pollution – you name it, and ‘Satyamev Jayate’ had touched upon it. Each issue was well researched and well presented. Each one covered unique success stories, where an alternative approach had been tried, with a positive outcome.

The marketing as well as the structuring of the show was smart. Its handling was such as to skirt current controversies. The protest by Medical Council of India did not rub off on the show’s image; it only lowered the public image of that august body further. There was no attempt to denigrate the government in power. The amount of financial support it has generated goes on to show the immense connect it built up with the audience. Surely, a great attempt at social activism, using the media’s potency in a positive manner.

One way to compliment the ‘Satyamev Jayate’ team is to ensure that we, the citizens, become vigilant on these issues. In our personal lives, we can abhor the derogatory practices we have witnessed on the small screen, week after week. In our social circles, we can try to discuss these issues, thereby spreading the awareness about the ill effects of such practices. A small beginning would then get made.

For those who are already yearning for more of the same stuff, it is perhaps time to ponder over important areas which never got discussed so far. In other words, if the show were to make a comeback, what are the burning issues it can cover? Permit me to make a few suggestions.

  • WORLD CLASS QUALITY: As a country which is poised to overtake Japan as the third largest economy of the world, how many globally acceptable products/brands do we make?

  • DELIVERY OF PUBLIC SERVICES: How can India rapidly apply technological innovations to improve the delivery of public services to its people? Whether it is getting a ration card made or receiving a LPG refill, a death certificate to be obtained or a FIR to be registered, mundane tasks make life rather complicated. Just like an Aadhar initiative shows, there is a tremendous scope of improvement.

  • MAKING OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM DEPENDENT ON REAL LEARNING AND NOT ON MEMORY: The current generation has failed to design and roll out a futuristic education system. This issue needs to be addressed on priority, so India’s human capital development no longer remains sub-optimal.

  • ENCASHING OUR DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND: How can India better leverage its demographic dividend by rolling out an ambitious skill development programme, so our graduates really graduate and our researchers really search for innovative and sustainable solutions to our unique problems. How do we generate leaders for tomorrow?

  • BALANCING INDUSTRIAL GROWTH vis-a-vis ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: How can we balance our environment protection goals with our need to expand our industrial base? With rising incomes and aspirations, the consumption base will continue to expand. Can we look for sustainable solutions?

  • GIVING UP OUR OWN ATTITUDE OF ‘CHALTA HAI’: Administrators in any field – public or private – complain (and justifiably so) that 90% of their time is spent in ‘following up’ things. This attitude, once commented upon by Mr. J. R. D. Tata himself, is at the core of many of our problems. Consider the following:

    1. We can build super highways, but how do we improve our driving skills and the courtesy we show to others on the road.

    2. During an agitation, where is the need to burn and destroy our buses, trains, hospitals and schools, created out of our own hard-earned money?

    3. Why does our sense of cleanliness remain confined to our homes and does not extend to public places?

        We, the people of India, need to take ourselves – and our roles – more seriously! The ‘Chalta hai’ attitude will not do!!

I am delighted to know that the SMJ team is already planning the next phase of the series. Some of these areas may interest them.

 Jahaan-panah, we wait for you to come back!

 With loads of admiration and love,

Ashok Bhatia,

Puducherry, India.

(akb_usha@rediffmail.com)

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Oh, what a relief it is…to be able to leave a body behind, and to wait for a new one! Freedom from bondage, at last!

I just finished a rather fulfilling life. I write this to convey my deep gratitude to the Divine for giving me this opportunity. Now, I aspire to be allotted a brand new body, so I may fulfil the rest of my desires as well.

In the past 48 years or so, I had my destined quota of joys and sorrows. I relished a wide variety of sweets and savouries. Right from the famous pedas of Mathura to sandes of Bengal and from kulfi of Amritsar to payasam of Tamil Nadu, I have relished them all. Delhi’s famous kulche-chhole were always a favourite, and so were Indore’s pohe-jalebi and maava-baati. Mumbai’s vada-pav and Agra’s aloo-ki-tikki are not easily forgotten either.

The body which I tried to assist for so many years is now inching close to 60 years of age. I vaguely remember having made my appearance when it was just about 12 years of age. I had an exciting youth, when I bit and cut into all kinds of foods the body was partaking then. For the first 35 years, I enjoyed biting into sumptuous vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes. Subsequently, with a focus on purely vegetarian fare, life became easier; the body gave up treating its stomach as a burial ground for all kinds of dead life forms.

I was one of the lower front teeth in the body. A dentist would typically refer to me as an ‘incisor’ tooth. The problem was that the upper front teeth did not like me at all. They kept hitting at me at all times. First, the jaw alignment was not right. Second, the person had an ‘A’ type personality. With a high level of anxiety in the system, he was often gnashing his teeth. Not surprisingly, he was diabetic and hypertensive. To add insult to injury, there was a strong addiction to tea.

Well, the result was that I lost my precious enamel and lustre pretty soon. My roots started getting exposed by the time the body was 55 years of age. Serious attempt was made to protect me by wearing various kinds of contraptions. However, time took its toll and finally I got so loose as to cause lot of discomfort to the body. Chewing became a difficult exercise. This resulted in digestive disorders. Through all this, I kept up a brave face and supported the body as long as I could.

Blissfully, my end came two weeks back, at a moment when the body was enjoying a delicious swiss chocolate, that too in the shadow of the Alps. I ensured that my parting with this body was sweet, harmonious and peaceful.

Much has been said about the painful experience of reclining in a dentist’s chair. However, I was lucky. Eventually, I had found a very compassionate and caring dentist. I shall be missing my visits to her clinic, which always had soft music playing in the background.

I know that my colleagues would be missing me by now. Even before I could come loose, another traumatized colleague of mine had gone underground; it still remains embedded in the gums. So, only 30 of them are now left behind. The front ones are already shaking in their foundations. I guess the body will get used to this new experience pretty soon, depending on the canines, pre-molars and molars to make the food digestible.

My gratitude is also due to the body assigned to me. It looked after my nourishment and hygienic needs rather well. I wish it well for as long as it lasts. If only it were to learn to smile more often, it would be happy to see its resemblance to the Bollywood legend, Dev Anand, who also had a front tooth missing!

Howsoever painful, it is not easy to let go of even a diseased part. I know how difficult it is for people to let go of their old habits, their fragile egos or their worldly possessions. Alas, a mere tooth like me is easily dispensable!

Just like me, there are diseased teeth in my country and in my society as well. There are rotten practices, evil thoughts and unpatriotic designs. There is inequality, corruption and mismanagement of resources. These are holding back my countrymen from enjoying prosperity and happiness.

On the upcoming occasion of India’s 65th Independence Day, I wish there are caring dentists who can either cure these ills or simply ‘extract’ the diseased aspects of our living.

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Quite early in life, I discovered that a movie should be selected for viewing not based on its cast Lekinbut based on its director. Each director has a distinctive perspective on life, and the manner in which he/she presents a theme is as unique as, say, one´s finger prints. Admittedly, the core brilliance of a movie is determined by the producer-director duo. But the unmistakable stamp on the narrative is that of the director. To put it simply, if you sit down to watch a movie by Gulzar saheb, you know what to expect. On the other hand, if you are going to see a David Dhawan flick, you already suspect what is in store.

The Brand Equity of a Director

Over a period of time, a movie director builds up a strong brand equity for himself. It comes from the uniqueness of his style, the choice of his scripts, consistency in quality of his directorial ventures, earning a respect from the discerning viewers, crowned by some degree of commercial success.

As a person who has been brought up on a rich diet of Bollywood fare right since his childhood, and maachisas someone who has dabbled in the art of movie making himself, it is not difficult for me to appreciate the complexity of producing a commercial pot-boiler. The cine-goers eventually get to see only the end result on the screen, little realizing the hard work done by all to ensure a high quality product. That is why, a good movie makes me feel fulfilled. I feel like saluting the producers and directors who have invested their effort and money on a worthwhile product.

The CEO of a Dream Merchandise Factory

A director’s role in shaping a movie would perhaps be comparable to that of either the CEO of a company or the conductor of an orchestra. A CEO’s mindset determines the business strategy of a company. His style of functioning and his value system permeates across all levels of the company. Likewise, the conductor of an orchestra blends the notes of stringed, percussion and other instruments, creating a symphony which is unique. Like a CEO guiding a company or a conductor presenting a symphony, the director also balances the strengths and weaknesses of his team members and comes up with a movie which is entertaining – and possibly educative – in the social context.

Surely, a director coordinates and guides various specialists to achieve the level of perfection in hisGaja_Gamini_ product. Apart from the choice of a script and the main caste, no department of movie making would remain aloof from the influence of a director. Screenplay, cinematography, sound design, choreography, music, editing, budgeting, financing, marketing and many other facets of movie making come under a director’s watchful eye, thereby making each movie a unique attempt at story telling. And when someone as accomplished as M F Hussain decides to wield the megaphone, we are in for a stupendous visual treat, as in ‘Gaja Gamini’ and ‘Meenaxi – A Tale of Three Cities’!

A Director’s Take

Exploiting the latent potential of an actor is surely one of the key traits of a director. Look at some of the amazing transformations we have seen on the silver screen all these years! To recapitulate just a few:

  • A villain or a vamp being cast in a positive role: Remember Lalita Pawar in a matronly role in Raj Kapoor´s ‘Anari’? Or, Shashikala supporting the sulking heroine in Hrishikesh Mukherji´s ‘Anupama’? Cut to ‘Abhiman’ and you notice Bindu empathising with the lead pair. Under the baton of Manoj Kumar and Manmohan Desai, we had Pran playing positive roles in ‘Shaheed’, ‘Upkar’ and ‘Zanjeer’. From a staunch villain, Madan Puri became a doting grand-pa in Rajshri Production’s ‘Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye’.
  • From a flamboyant playboy to a chivalrous gentleman: Yesteryear´s jumping jack JeetendraHum aapke hain kaun becomes a simpleton in ‘Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne’ and ‘Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti’ under the watchful eyes of V. Shantaram. Gulzar is equally effective with Jeetendra in ‘Parichay’ and ‘Khushboo’. Lately, we have seen Salman Khan being tamed by Suraj Barjatya in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’ and ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’.
  • From a debonair hero to a villain: Under Brij, Ashok Kumar, the quintessential hero, becomes a villain in ‘Ustadon ke Ustad’; under Vijay Anand, he springs a surprise in ‘Jewel Thief’.

The chemistry between a music director and a director has also produced enchanting results for music buffs.

  • Besides raucous beats in movies like ‘Bombay’ and ‘Rangeela’, A R Rehman comes up withZubeidaa soulful music in ‘Zubeida’ for Shyam Benegal. Likewise, for Subhash Ghai, he composes a different genre of music in ‘Taal’.
  • The duo of Shankar-Jaikishan, when working with Raj Kapoor, left behind a rich repertoire of scores, some of which are evergreen and a treat for movie goers of all ages.
  • Salil Chaudhury, when coupled with Basu Chatterjee, came up with some unique scores in ‘Rajnigandha’ and ‘Chhoti Si Baat’.

Some Directors I Admire

Selection of a script essentially determines the social message that a director wishes to convey through his work. One fondly recollects the following directors who have sought to convey a unique message of their own through their work:

  • Aparna Sen did a great service to the senior citizens by highlighting their plight in the thought-provoking ’36 Chowringhee Lane’. The acute loneliness of Violet Stoneham touched our hearts. In ‘Paroma’, she explored the psyche of a tradition-bound housewife seeking liberation in her own way. In my opinion, her best offering so far has been ‘Mr. & Mrs. Iyer’. It conveyed the message of inter-religious harmony in a very effective manner. Her latest offering, ‘The Japanese Wife’, depicts the true meaning of love, sans any physical contact. One wishes her a long innings of creative offerings.
  • Ashutosh Gowarikar is another director whose work one has come to admire. ‘Lagaan’, ‘Swades’, ‘Jodha Akbar’ and ‘What is Your Rashee’ were all brilliant offerings. One surely looks forward to more movies from his stable in the days to come.
  • Basu Bhattacharya excelled in depicting the post-matrimonial relationships between couples. If ‘Anubhav’ captured the vacuum felt in the absence of a child and the misunderstandingTeesri kasam created as a result of an ex-lover of the wife walking into the household, ‘Aavishkar’ dwelt at length on the dissappointment caused by the realization that a college romance is so very transient. In ‘Teesri Kasam’, he came up with a classic philosophical treatise, whereas in ‘Sparsh’, he touched upon the challenges faced by the differently abled in our society. Finally, in ‘Aastha’, we saw him covering the impact of a materialistic culture on our morality and social values.
  • Basu Chatterjee‘s movies are classics in their own right. Depicting the dilemmas faced by the great Indian middle class with a dash of humour was his forte. Right from ‘Chameli Ki Shadi’ to ‘Baaton Baaton Mein’, ‘Chitchor’, ‘Hamari Bahu Alka’ and ‘Piya Ka Ghar’, he has regaled us with heart-warming tales, backed by tongue in cheek humour. In ‘Rajanigandha’, the hero, while watching a movie, imagines himself and the heroine as Dharmendra and Hema Malini on the screen – one of the several master strokes of the director. In ‘Chhoti Si Baat’, the hero and the heroine go about singing a song in crowded places whereas all others around them remain preoccupied with their own activities! In ‘Khatta Meetha’, we find an irritated Ashok Kumar threatening to kill Pradip Kumar, the heroine’s father, if he fails to bless her marriage with his adopted son.
  • One has admired some of the B. R. Chopra movies because of not only their socially Gumrahresponsible messages but also for their experimental streak. If ‘Naya Daur’ was about rapid industrialization leading to labour unrest, ‘Gumrah’ was about the perils of a wife likely to go wayward. ‘Humraz’ spoke of the dangers inherent in a situation where one attempts to hide facts from one’s spouse. ‘Insaf Ka Tarazu’ covered the trauma of rape, whereas ‘Nikaah’ was about a woman asserting her rights to choose a husband. ‘Pati Patni aur Woh’ was a humouros take on the proverbial seven-year itch of the male of the species, a theme which was effectively countered in ‘Rang Birangi’ subsequently by none other than Hrishikesh Mukherjee! His experimental foray into the genre of suspense led to two classics: ‘Kanoon’ and ‘Ittefaq’, both of which broke from convention and did not boast of any song, a taboo for the mainstream BollywoodDark Bandini cinema. ‘Baghban’, directed by his son Ravi Chopra, is a great comment on the derogatory attitude adopted by some of the grown up children towards their parents.
  • Bimal Roy gave us realistic movies with a socialistic message. ‘Do Beegha Zameen’ and ‘Bandini’ shall remain etched in our minds forever. In ‘Sujata’, he touched upon the stigma of untouchability in a very poignant manner.
  • David Lean‘s work has left an indelible impression on me. Think of either the elements of nature or the complexity of human relationships and you end up remembering ‘The Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Dr. Zhivago’ and ‘Ryan’s Daughter’. ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was yet another masterpiece from this great man.
  • Govind Nihalani has given us some brilliant movies over the years. ‘Aakrosh’ was based on a real life incident. ‘Ardh Satya’ captured the realities faced by our police force in stark detail. Much later, the trauma faced by youth involved in the naxalite movement was poignantly captured in ‘Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Ma’. Another unforgettable offering of his was the TV serial ‘Tamas’.
  • Gulzar is another favourite of mine. Right from ‘Mere Apne’, ‘Koshish’, ‘Parichay’, ‘Achanak’Ijaazat and ‘Kitaab’ to ‘Khushboo’, ‘Kinara’, ‘Aandhi’ ‘Angoor’, ‘Namkeen’ and ‘Ijazat’, he demonstrated a finely nuanced grip on capturing human emotions. Using flashbacks as an essential ingredient of his inimitable style of story telling, he has created a series of movies which explore the human psyche with unparalleled depth. For Doodrdarshan, he created a master piece in the serial ‘Mirza Ghalib’, ably assisted by Jagjit Singh and Naseeuddin Shah. Other unforgettable movies directed by him are ‘Lekin’, ‘Maachis’ and ‘Hu Tu Tu….’. What a creative line up!
  • Guru Dutt has left behind a series of thought-provoking movies for all of us to enjoy for all times to come. ‘Pyaasa’ captured not only the frustration of a creative poet who earns recognition only after he is presumed to be dead, but also the angst of the youth dissppointedPyaasa poster by the shattering of socialistic dreams in post independence India. ‘Kagaz Ke Phool’ was autobiographical in nature, and went on to assume a cult status in black and white cinematography. ‘Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam’ looked at the degrading zamindari system and was backed by powerful performances. He also gave us ‘Chaudavin Ka Chaand’, memorable for its music.
  • Hrishikesh Mukherjee is yet another director who has captured the value system of the great Indian middle class in a very effective manner. If ‘Anupama’ portrayed the transformation of a docile daughter into a rebel of sorts, ‘Satyakam’ touched upon the trials and tribulations of a whistle-blower who values integrity and honesty above all else in his life. ‘Aashirwad’ captured a daughter’s longing for her father, whereas ‘Anand’ captured the dilemmas of the medical profession in a heart-wrenching manner. In ‘Guddi’, he touched upon the perils of hero-worship amongst teenagers and the negative influence of movies on those in an impressionable age. ‘Abhimaan’ put the fragile male ego under a microscope. In ‘Chupke Chupke’, he came up with a rip-roaring treatise on the eccentricities of the linguistic purists. ‘Bawarchi’ touched upon the joint family system, whereas ‘Golmaal’ was well-intended pun directed at moustache maniacs. In ‘Khubsoorat’, he drove home in his inimitable style the need of striking a balance between fredoom and discipline in family life, espousing the cause of nirmal anand (unalloyed bliss). His last offering was ‘Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kaate’ Pakeezahwhich conveyed the value of truthfulness in all relationships in a very humorous manner. One truly misses such directors!
  • Kamal Amrohi came up with virtual poetry on celluloid with ‘Pakeezah’. The whole movie was a work of passion, akin to the rich tapestry of the bright red carpet he had got specially woven for a single dance sequence to be picturized. His ‘Razia Sultan’ was also a rich offering.
  • When it comes to clean family entertainment steeped in Indian tradition, Rajshri Productions has always been very consistent. Right from ‘Aarti’, ‘Dosti’, ‘Jeevan Mrityu’ andmovie Vivah ‘Tapasya’ to ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…!’, ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ and ‘Vivah’, we have lived through good and bad times faced by families we could easily identify with. Several of their offerings have tugged at our heart-strings: ‘Uphaar’, ‘Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se’, ‘Chitchor’, ‘Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye’ and ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, to name a few.
  • If there is one person who earned money in routine Bollywood pot-boilers and ploughed it back to produce some unique movies, it is Shashi Kapoor. ‘Vijeta’ captured in detail the challenges faced by young officers in the Indian Air Force. ‘Utsav’, directed by Girish Karnad, was yet another master piece, based on the famous Sanskrit play ‘Mriccha-katikam’. ‘Kalyug’ was based on the epic Mahabharata and was directed by ShyamAnkur Benegal.
  • Shyam Benegal started off as a master of alternate cinema, offering such hard-hitting comments on the under-privileged of the society as ‘Ankur’, ‘Nishant’, ‘Manthan’ and ‘Bhumika’. ‘Zubeidaa’ presented an interesting slice of history. However, his recent offerings have been rich public-spirited satires, highlighting glaring deficiencies in the public delivery system and also taking a dig at our age-old misconceptions and taboos. If you have seen ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur’ and ‘Well Done, Abba’, you would know what I am talking about.
  • V Shantaram gave us classics which drew on the traditional values and art forms. If ‘Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani’ was based on a real life happening, ‘Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje’ captured the dilemmas faced by artists committed to their profession. ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ touched on the criminal system, whereas ‘Navrang’ explored in detail the male fantasy of having the perfect female as a life companion. 
  • Vijay Anand gave us jewels like ‘Nau Do Gyarah’, ‘Jewel Thief’, ‘Tere Mere Sapne’ and ‘JohnyGuide_poster Mera Naam’. ‘Guide’ immortalized one of the great works of R. K. Narayan. Performance of the lead pair of Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman still remains fresh in our memories. His penchant for perfection was such that in ‘Nau Do Gyarah’, if a bomb was to go off in seven minutes, the on-screen suspense went on for precisely seven minutes!

Several other legendary directors, like Raj Kapoor, Mehboob, K. Asif, Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra, Shekhar Kapur and others do not appear here. Their exclusion here is in no way meant to belittle their immense contribution to the art and form of cinema as we know it today. It is just that a majority of their work has come to define what we generally refer to as ‘mainstream cinema’, whereas the idea here has been to capture directors who have been innovative in their own way.

Directors to watch out for

All this is not to say that brilliant work is not being done these days. ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’ directedDor by Dibakar Banerjee, ‘Iqbal’, ‘Dor’ and ‘Mod’ from Nagesh Kukanoor, ‘Tare Zameen Par’ by Aamir Khan, ‘Black’ by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, ‘Munnabhai’ series and ‘3 Idiots’ by Raj Kumar Hirani, ‘Chak de India’ by Shimit Amin, ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Pa’ by R. Balakrishnan, ‘The Blue Umbrella’ by Vishal Bhardwaj, ‘Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge’ by Ashwani Dheer, ‘Chhodo Kal ki Baatein’ by Pramod Joshi, ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ by Habib Faisal, ‘Stanley ka Dabba’ by Amol Gupte, ‘I am Kalaam’ by Nila Madhab Panda and ‘Vicky Donor’ by Shoojit Sircar are all movies which give us the firm hope that Bollywood is finally out of the singing around the tree days, willing to experiment with unconventional themes, that too while keeping the box officeTaareZameenPar registers tinkling.

Rise in disposable incomes has led to the proliferation of multiplexes. Audience has turned younger. In turn, small budget movies have carved out a niche for themselves. Several producers have learnt to minimize financial risks by beating the star system and are instead banking on smarter scripts, thereby achieving better returns on their investments.

Exercising Our Emotional Muscles

Consider this: why do we get hooked on to movies in the first place? Is it sheer escapism? May be, yes, but also coupled with an appreciation of – and fascination with – this genre of entertainment. Identifying oneself with either a character or a situation presented on the screen gives one immense psychological relief. Also, one needs to exercise one’s emotional muscles or skills in a way that may or may not be acceptable in our routine lifestyles!

A director with a strong brand equity surely knows how to touch our heart-strings. In the process, he teaches us to exercise our emotional muscles better and think out-of-the-box when confronted with a real life situation!!

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IMOVATION

Steve Jobs said it. It’s smart to adapt an idea and enhance it. The combined power of imitation and innovation can take your company to dizzying heights. And Apple is not the only outfit which did it with impunity.

Paper money (read credit and debit cards) was predicted by Arthur Hailey in his 1970s book “The Moneychangers”. Diners Club started it. American Express built it up.

In discount stores, Korvett came in first. Wal-Mart globalized the phenomenon.

For fast foods, no one remembers White Castle. McDonald’s immediately comes to mind.

Closer home, in the detergent market in India, Nirma took up cudgels with Surf. But eventually, it gave way to Wheels in the market place.

Shoji Shiba advises managers to “jump into the fishbowl” for a real feel of the environment and change accordingly. According to him, those with a “third eye” do that the best as they think about users at the bottom of the pyramid.

INTELLECTUAL COPULATION AND ORGIESINCENTIVES

Copulation at the physical level often results into the perpetuation of our species. Copulation at the intellectual level often results into newer ideas, which arise out of each partner building on the ideas of the other, thereby resulting into a synergistic orgasm. On the whole, the organization gains.

Once in a while, it is good to push all the routine work away and indulge in intellectual copulation. This could mean intense discussions with a buddy whose thinking matches that of yours, attending a management seminar on a topic of your interest or even sharing your learning and experiences either with youngsters in the team or with students at a nearby management institute. It would keep your learning batteries charged up and ensure that you get back to the task at hand with renewed gusto.

INCENTIVES

Very few outfits have realistic incentive schemes, making each stakeholder a virtual partner in business. Such outfits seldom have IR issues bugging them. Often, the challenge faced by Personnel guys is to link incentives not only to absolute quantities but also to productivity norms. Calling in an external industrial engineer who has some clue as to the way your industry is configured surely helps to design a better incentive scheme.

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