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Archive for January, 2013

Leadership is a much discussed virtue in management literature. However, like Peter Drucker says, there is no ideal type of leader. “Leadership personality’, ‘leadership style’ and ‘leadership traits’ don’t exist”, he writes in The Leader of the Future. The emergence of a leader is the result of a complex interplay of two factors – personality traits of the leader and what needs to be done at a given point in time. The moment the two become congruent, a new leader could emerge on the scene and deliver the goodies!LEADERS

There is no doubt that the leaders of tomorrow would need personality traits which would be qualitatively different from those of today. Here is my take on what business environment circa 2025 would be like, and how our future business leaders would be tackling it.

2025 – A Likely Business Scenario

What would be the business environment like in 2025? Several CEOs I spoke to said that business leaders in 2025 shall be working against the backdrop of a world which would, in all likelihood, be a multi-polar one, with Asia, particularly China, exerting more influence on global events. It would be a world which would be more inter-connected, commercially and otherwise. Thanks to new communication means, the individual empowerment levels would have risen significantly. Also, it would be a more urbanized world. Thanks to the rise of a new global middle-class, society in general would have reached a higher level of aspiration, resulting into a much higher demand for energy, food and water. On the flip side, income disparities would have risen substantially. Changes arising out of our climatic patterns would also pose a formidable challenge to the leaders of those times.

We could still be in for surprises, though. Disruptive changes are quite likely to overwhelm us. These changes could come in the form of impact of new technologies in the field of robotics, biotechnology, space sciences and communication. Increasingly, governments world over may start becoming enablers of entrepreneurship, faced as they will be with direct and intensive pressure from those they govern. We shall surely be seeing more entrepreneurs amongst our midst – whether in the commercial sector or in the societal sector.

A Business Leader in 2025

Decision Making Under Higher Uncertainty

Since the level of entropy in the system would have gone up further by then, a business leader of circa 2025 would have to be adept at making decisions under a higher level of uncertainty. The abnormal today would be the new normal, and many a leader would be feeling more like experts at river rafting in our economic and statutory rapids, often being called upon to go against the current.

I am not an expert in Econometrics, but could venture to guess that for those who are quantitatively inclined, advanced statistical tools would come in even more handy. I say so because there will be an overdose of data as well as information available to a business leader then. However, ultimately, his/her intuitive abilities – based on personal experiences in their formative years – would prove to be more valuable.

Sir Colin Marshall, the ex-Chairman of British Airways, transformed his organization into one of the premier customer service kinds in the days of yore. The uncertainty he faced in the period of his association with BA was monumental and serves as an example to be followed by CEOs of future.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon came up with the concept of ‘predictive analytics’, paving the way for all of us to enjoy the convenience of shopping on-line.

Higher Trust in Instincts

A logical corollary of the above would be the need for a leader to be ahead of the curve. Those who have counter-intuitive responses and place a higher trust in their natural instincts would surely fare better. In turn, there would be a strong need for a much higher degree of inner resilience, because this alone would enable them to keep their stress levels under control even in trying circumstances. Dynamism will be yet another critical input. It would ensure that they are able to steer their businesses through the dense economic fog enveloping the business highways.

The World Economic Forum had proposed a theme centered on the twin traits of resilience and dynamism for 2013. Given that there are no risk free growth models available to leaders and CEOs of the future, one could not agree more with this proposition.

A good example of facing flak and not losing sight of one’s goals is that of Larry Page of Google. He continues to trust his instincts and doing what he thinks is best for his business.

A Global Mindset

Given a much more inter-connected world, a business leader in the future would need to possess a vast knowledge of commercial, behavioral and societal norms followed in different parts of the world. A primary task would obviously be to ensure that his/her organization has world-class management processes. Only those institutionalizing best practices in strategic planning, marketing and human relations would be able to make their organization a successful one.  The fact that a leader would, in all likelihood, be leading a multicultural team of followers would pose a challenge – irrespective of whether the situation demands a leadership which is ‘transactional’ or ‘transformational’.

When one considers the example of Compaq’s Eckard Pfeiffer, who was a leader in a race against himself, it becomes clear as to how organizational renewal can be brought about. “No matter what industry a company competes in”, he said, “it must live with one foot in the present and the other in the future….there is simply no other way to build world leadership”.

A Democratic Style

The profile of the followers would also be different. Hierarchical authority is already proving difficult to manage change; there is no reason to believe this would not be even more so in the future. The followers would demand a higher degree of participation in the decision-making processes. Leaders who recognize this need of their followers and create a working environment which enables the same would achieve higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness in their business processes.

Creating a non-coercive environment in which employees and other stakeholders are clear about the corporate identity and the mission would be far more important than it is today. Reverse mentoring would be more a norm than an exception in the days to come.

Monsanto’s CEO, Robert Shapiro, had the ability to go against traditional hierarchy. He initiated strategy sessions with cross-sections of employees of different ranks, specialties and geographical perspectives and reaped rich dividends for his company.

The Moral Compass

Leaders who believe in sustainable businesses would not only use their commercial compass while determining the direction to take. Using a moral compass would be a valuable trait amongst the future leaders. A strong inner core, embedded with a value system which recognizes the needs of the society at large, would be a great quality to have. A pre-condition for employing key managers would be their endorsement and support of the core values of the business.

When the likes of Siemens and Wal-Mart come clean on their misdemeanors, they set an excellent example of probity in the business world. When Mr. Ratan Tata, the Chairman Emeritus of India’s salt to software conglomerate rues his inability to enter some fields of business because of the absence of a level playing field in India, his focus is on one of the core values of his business.

Indra Nooyi is charting a unique course for PepsiCo globally, shedding traditional markets and going in for healthier food products instead.

 Preparing Leaders for 2025

Captains of industry today can set a personal example by getting cross-functional teams in their organizations to come up with suggestions to face the challenges of future effectively. They can also emulate some of the traits, thereby leading to a trickle-down effect across the entire organization.

HR honchos can re-design their appraisal processes and re-assess training needs of key managers to address this issue.

Those in senior management positions can consciously plan to hone their skills in areas they find themselves deficient.

Management institutes can tweak their course content to ensure that those leaving their hallowed portals possess these traits, so as to improve their contribution towards the organizations they decide to either float or serve.

And our time to start preparing the leaders of tomorrow starts now!

 

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Whenever you pass by the desk of a colleague in office and see him staring with blank eyes at nothing in particular, you may 'The Thinker' : Rodinbe wrong in assuming that he is either worried about his upcoming annual appraisal or concerned about the academic performance of his kids. For all you know, like Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’, he could simply be withdrawn into himself, in a rather introspective mood, and trying to unravel life’s managerial mysteries which appear unfathomable at normal times.

One of the profound mysteries is that of facilitating innovation. History of major breakthroughs tells us of at least one factor which prompted the coveted ‘Aha!’ moment – a spot of idleness. Not the kind of idleness which is a trademark of laziness, but the dynamic type where the mind, firing at all six cylinders, suddenly decides to take a break, looks at its own self in a detached manner, delves into the realms of the sub-conscious and comes up with a gem of wisdom which had eluded it so far at the conscious level.

Some Unforgettable ‘Aha!’ Moments

Rewind to around 250 BC. If Archimedes had not decided to take some time off and soak himself in a bath tub, possibly playing with some floating toy ducks and singing along in a leisurely fashion – much to the discomfiture of his neighbors, world would have surely missed great many developments so far. There would have been no boats and ships. Countries the world over would have been dependent only on their foot soldiers and armies to defend their borders. At a more mundane level, the streets of ancient Syracuse would have missed the sight of a guy in his birthday suit running along, shouting ‘Eureka’ in gay abandon.

Visualize this scenario in 1666 AD. Newton has once again retired from Cambridge. In a contemplative mood, he is taking a leisurely stroll at Lincolnshire, in an apple orchard ostensibly owned by his mother. He has just been enjoying some tea which has had a remarkably invigorating effect on his grey matter. He sees an apple falling to the earth and starts wondering why it always has to fall down, an observation which lesser mortals like you and I would have merely shrugged off and resumed our walk. He gets down to doing some calculations and ends up giving to the inhabitants of Earth a great theory on forces of gravitation. Goes on to show what a relaxing cup of tea sipped in quiet repose in an apple orchard can accomplish.

Einstein, who left us as late as 1955 AD, was much impressed by the violin sonatas of Mozart and used to play chamber music. An inspiration for all those who suffer from absent-minded professor-itis, he pushed the frontiers of knowledge to mind-boggling levels at that point in time. History does not record a particular ‘Aha!’ moment when the theory of relativity got discovered, but the connection between the paradigm shift in our understanding of the universe and his love for music and the soothing effect it has on one’s grey matter can be readily understood. There is no doubt that the great man did not find the environment of the Swiss Patent Office conducive enough for innovative thinking.

Contemplative Downtime   

A common thread running through all these events is the presence of a unique ‘Aha!’ moment of illuminating thought, undoubtedly facilitated by a phase of idleness. Some scientists in California now say that even lesser mortals can benefit from a spot of daydreaming. This goes on to prove – if proof was ever needed – that sitting idle is not wasteful, as many whip-cracking CEOs would have us believe. A vast majority of managers, workers and students would heartily attest to the fact that difficult assignments are handled much better if only preceded by a spot of contemplative downtime. This way, they are likely to envision a more productive approach to the issue at hand, resulting into substantial savings for the organization they serve. As Tom Hodgkinson says, ‘The art of living is the art of bringing dreams and reality together’.

Globally, managements need to seriously look at the utility of mental downtime when the thinking faculties are allowed to wander freely. Rather than mistaking hectic physical activity for real efficiency and effectiveness on the job, most bosses heading a team of innovators and developers typically create a work culture which facilitates a contemplative mood. They also perfect the art of refraining from micromanaging. Nor do they abdicate. They lead simply by inspiring and standing up for their team members, whenever necessary. The result is an exponential jump in the much-coveted ‘Aha!’ moment for their team members.

Does A Rigid Hierarchy Stifle Innovation?

It has been shown that under favorable circumstances, problem solving abilities tend to improve by as much as 40%! If such moves are introduced, and further backed by tea/coffee breaks, the results could be even better. High time some ad honchos took up this clue and designed some clever TV spots for companies marketing these beverages!

In India, where the propensity to innovate appears to have diminished substantially compared to what it used to be in the Aryabhatta days, this proposition deserves far more serious thought. Perhaps our national laboratories, centers of excellence and R&D institutions need to work more days, but provide for additional tea/coffee breaks and exciting vacation binges. Going in for flatter organizations devoid of strict hierarchy could also lead to better quality of informal interactions, thereby increasing the productivity and rate of innovation. The Peter Principle is proof that organizations which put a higher premium on seniority are more likely to have a dismal record in the realm of innovation.

The Power of Daydreaming

Scientists may now claim to have discovered that the rejuvenating powers of officially sanctioned breaks are reduced if people skip off-times and use these to perform other equally demanding tasks. But the power of dynamic daydreaming was never in doubt. Our grand-parents have always held that ‘All work and no play make Jack a dull boy’!

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When we think of gorgeous heroines draped in plain color chiffon saris and sleeveless blouses – swaying to rhythmic beats composed poster jab tak hai jaanby eminent musicians and lip-synching soulful lyrics penned by proficient poets – with the magnificent Alps as a backdrop, the only name that comes to our minds is that of Yash Chopra!

The producer and director showed us the value of pure romance sans vulgarity in times when the only mantra to box office success appears to be “the lewder and cruder, the better”. He passed away last year. He has left behind a rich legacy of social comment through the wide-ranging themes of movies he produced or directed.

But the king of romance acquired this sobriquet by a very interesting process of evolution, through a long and arduous journey of making socially relevant movies which reflected our society’s challenges of their respective times. Like other popular directors of Bollywood – Raj Kapoor, Subhash Ghai and others – he had a unique ear for music, which was a hallmark of all his movies. The lyricists he associated with were accomplished poets who invariably came up with relevant and meaningful verses.

Evolving Into a King of Romance220px-Dhool_Ka_Phool

Partition, Secularism and Peace

If ‘Dhool ka Phool” (1959) was about illegitimate children, ‘Dharamputra’ (1961) touched upon religious intolerance in days when the term Hindu fundamentalism was not part of our vocabulary. The story of a Muslim bringing up a Hindu boy tugged at one’s heart-strings. The scenes of partition were hard-hitting, leading to a backlash at the time. That was perhaps the reason he never ventured to make a film on a political theme again during his lifetime.

However, he did come up with a clear message on peace and unity with his ‘Veer Zaara’ (2004). Not even a single bullet was fired in the film, but the message was loud and clear – that India and Pakistan share a common culture and a strong bond – by implication, both countries deserve a poster veer zaarachance to be together again, pooling their scarce resources to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease, instead of war mongering.

Family Values, Wealth and Bigamy

‘Waqt’ (1965) was his last movie where he worked with his elder brother Baldev Raj Chopra. It was the first one to have had a multi-star cast, a practice which is followed till today. It also spawned several other movies in the lost-and-found genre, popular ones being ‘Yaadon ki Baraat’ and ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’. The movie also depicted the lavish styles of the rich, conveying that 220px-Deewar_posteracquiring wealth is not necessarily evil.

Then he formed Yash Raj Films, his own banner, and came out with ‘Daag’ (1973). The issue of bigamy was handled with his trademark elegance and suavity.

The Angst of the Youth

This was followed by two angry-young-man-phase movies, capitalizing on Amitabh Bachchan’s recently acquired image in ‘Zanjeer’. It started off with ‘Deewar’ (1975) and was followed by ‘Trishul’ (1978). In ‘Mashaal’ (1984), he cast thespian Dilip Kumar who portrayed an angry old man. Much to the glee of middle class audience struggling with rising aspirations kabhie kabhie posterand astronomical living costs, the means were no longer important; ends were.

Elegant Romance

With ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ (1976), he introduced a poetic touch into the art of commercial movie making and set the box office registers tingling. This trend continued in his subsequent movies like ‘Silsila’ (1981), ‘Chandni’ 220px-Silsila(1989) and ‘Lamhe’ (1991). The angst eventually mellowed down and human emotions acquired center stage. All the characters in these movies were from an affluent background. In each venture, the canvas only got larger. In each, candy-floss romance was in the air, backed by melodious music and soulful lyrics that would remain etched in our collective psyche for a long time to come.

His style of depicting romance was muted, elegant and refined. The main protagonists were invariably civil and dignified, following the norms of propriety. It was devoid of lewd dialogues, coarse lyrics and vulgar scenes. Even in ‘Darr’ (1993), we had an anti-hero stalking the heroine, but never in bad taste.

Social Values and the Indian Diaspora Lamhe poster

He produced ‘Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (1995), which was directed by his son, Aditya Chopra. The movie set new records and Indians world over could readily connect with the superiority of family values it espoused. A daughter brought up in UK needs permission from her overbearing father for a vacation in Europe; a hero refuses to get persuaded by the heroine’s mother to elope with the heroine; instead, the couple works towards getting an approval of the match from the heroine’s father, come what may – these were market savvy master strokes in the script which made the movie immensely popular with all age groups.

Musical Romanceposter of chandni

Very few directors have ventured to work on a theme with music as a backdrop. ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (1997) did precisely that. All the main characters had a different perspective on love, and the movie was about the transformation of their belief systems. It was beautifully built around music and dance, elevated to a level where soul-mates discover each other.

We live in terrorism infested times. It is not surprising that his last venture, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ (2012) used this as a backdrop of a triangular love story.

An Ear for Music and Rich PoetryDDLJ poster

While supporting his brother, B. R. Chopra, Yash Chopra got to work with music directors like N. Dutta and Ravi. However, once on his own, he first worked with Lakshmikant Pyarelal for ‘Daag’, and then with Rahul Dev Burman for ‘Deewar’. Khayyam was his choice for ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ and ‘Trishul’. All through these movies, he worked with Sahir Ludhianvi as the lyricist.

Yet another master stroke was his persuading legendary classical musicians Shiv Kumar Sharma and Hari Prasad Chaurasia to compose the music for several of his movies. Together, they created a rich legacy of music in such movies as ‘Silsila’, ‘Chandni’, ‘Lamhe’ and ‘Darr’. The classical dance sequences performed with aplomb by  Sridevi in ‘Chandni’ and ‘Lamhe’ remain as fresh today as they were when captured on celluloid. ‘Silsila’ and ‘Veer Zaara’ had lyrics by Javed Akhtar, whereas all others had poetic inputs from Anand Bakshi.DTPH poster

For ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, he turned to Uttam Singh, who came up with mellifluous compositions for the movie. His best was, however, reserved for ‘Veer Zaara’, which dug up old compositions of the legendary Madan Mohan, revived by the latter’s son Sanjeev Kohli.

In his last offering, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, he teamed up with A. R. Rehman, with lyrics by Gulzar.

Setting New Benchmarks

Undoubtedly, he set new benchmarks for the film industry. Several trends that we take for granted today were initiated by him. He set the template for future Bollywood directors who continue to ape his technical gloss but lack the depth of romance and human emotions captured by him. He was among the first to push the industry into professionalism. Working with classical musicians and accomplished Urdu poets, he has left behind a rich repertoire of music for all of us to savor for a long time to come.

He would always be fondly remembered for a certain elegance and refinement of language which many of the current breed of Bollywood dream merchants sadly lack. Also, for the unique brand of secularism, peace and unity he propagated through his movies.

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Dear Amitabh ji,

I often wonder as to how you are able to handle yourself so well despite a continuous barrage of praise getting heaped on you from all sides. How do you keep your mental balance and equipoise in the face of unprecedented love and adulation being received by you at all times?

You conduct and carry yourself so well on KBC. When you suddenly have a winner of a “Ghar Baithe Jeeto Jackpot” award gushing all over you on phone, it is a treat to see your muted and calibrated response! The innumerable gifts and poems being presented to you by those making it to the “hot seat” of this game show do seem to move you but only for a few fleeting moments. You recover very quickly and get back to the job on hand, just like a true professional and gentleman that you indeed are!

You are ten years senior to me. I have had the pleasure of watching you enter Bollywood with “Saat Hindustani”. The way you have re-invented yourself in each of the subsequent decades is something to be learnt from you. Your career and that unique baritone voice is so well documented that I do not wish to bore you by repeating it here.

Some time back, a friend of mine gave me the entire set of four books comprising the biography of your illustrious father. Some parts were very touching – like the one which describes the first meeting between your parents, and the one where Khwaja Ahmed Abbas writes to your father, seeking his consent to offer you a role!

I also found the biography very instructive. It led me to a better understanding of the excellent family background that you have. Sure enough, your grooming has resulted into the calm and mature manner in which you conduct yourself. Your parents have set a fine example for all parents, bringing you up the way they had.

However, other than your excellent grooming, there is apparently something more to your unique quality of not allowing the abundant praise received by you to go to your head. A lesser mortal in your place would have surely become excessively swollen headed by now, leading to his own downfall. The younger actors of today need to learn this from you.

Can you please take some time off your busy schedule and answer this query? How did you develop this trait?

Warm regards,

Ashok Bhatia

Pondicherry, India

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MANAGEMENT

Unlike a “should” guy who is a philosopher, and a “would” guy who is a politician, a good manager is a “could” guy. He is aware of the constraints of resources at his disposal, and get things done accordingly.

He is the first one to come in and the last one to go from office. No job is too small for him; he is a true hands-on guy, but develops his team by delegation.

He defines and respects the invisible boundary of professional distance between himself and his key team players. When his team members are attacked, he behaves like a lioness out to protect her cubs. His team just loves him!

MARKETINGMARKETING

An ever-changing discipline, though surely not the only one. When conceived and described by Philip Kotler, it consisted of the famous 4 Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. With due respects to the great man, one may safely add one more P – Password (used for viral marketing).

With the advent of internet has come a virtual democracy in information. Changes in technology have brought in a new way the customers and brands interact. Marketing has undergone a sea change and will continue to do so in future as well, what with social re-engineering leading to a greater degree of inclusion in the economy, with hordes of new customers from a so-far underprivileged social milieu joining the market. Persons with access to internet now research the brands before making a decision. They are increasingly welcoming fresh content rather than repetitive ads.

Take note of the mini packs of biscuits, noodles and other consumer items being marketed at price points of Rs. 5 and below. Thirty years back, Indians had to wait for years to get to ride their own “Hamara Bajaj”. On the car front, there were hardly three suppliers in the fray then. Now, we see global brands wooing the customer and competing cheek and jowl for a slice of the market pie.

The Customer has now become a more empowered king!

MEETINGS

Meetings to decide strategic issues are best held off campus, though not necessarily in exotic locales.

Meetings to review operations are best kept short, held in the standing mode, at regular intervals (like TV news) without prior intimation, kept crisp by ruthlessly disallowing inter-departmental issues getting discussed while all others gape in horror and ignorance, ending much before the deadline and minutes being circulated by the end of the day with clear responsibilities defined in respect of targets to be met and respective deadlines.

It is generally accepted that the probability of a meeting taking place is inversely proportional to the number of participants.

Parkinson’s Law of Meetings states that “To a certain degree, the time spent in a meeting on an item is inversely proportional to its value”.

MEDIOCRITY vs. EXCELLENCE vs. PERFECTION

Always aim for perfection! It is said that Mr. R. M. Lala, an editor, writer and publisher of repute, once commented to Mr. J. R. D. Tata that the latter believed in excellence. The great man is said to have retorted thus: “Not excellence. Perfection. You aim for perfection, you will attain excellence. If you aim for excellence, you will go lower.”

Rabindranath Tagore, in his Gitanjali, captures the same concept thus: “Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection”. Even though “perfection” may not be attainable in reality, what matters is the “tireless striving”, which could well prove to be a reward in itself. “Perfection”, like happiness, need not be a station one arrives at, but a mode of travel, making the journey interesting and worthwhile.MICROMANAGING

To improve our personal capacity utilization, our basic struggle needs to be attitudinal – to adopt a Culture of Perfection and to give up the Culture of Mediocrity.  Our collective chalta hai attitude is passé.

MICROMANAGING

A sure way of becoming a liability for your team and also for your employers is to micromanage – getting into the nitty-gritty of each and every aspect of the task at hand. Learn to delegate and allow your team members to make mistakes. Demand results, but develop your people in the long run.

MISTAKES, HANDLING OF

As an individual, say sorry. Say it openly. Add a dash of humor and laugh at yourself publically. Avoid a buck passing posture. Do a root cause analysis. Suggest and work on a solution to rectify the mistake. Try to avoid a recurrence.

As a corporate, get your PR to handle the issue well. Take demonstrable steps to set the record straight. During June 2011, Toyota globally recalled as many as 1,06,000 vehicles, offering to replace front right hand shaft in selected vehicles. During 2007, Mattel announced a recall of over 19 million toys fearing that the toys had powerful magnets which could come loose and be swallowed by infants. Their brand recall value only shot up.

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Dear Damini,

Sadly, you are gone. But don’t you worry. Each spark out of the fire which was lit to consign your mortal remains to flames carries a luminous glow which would keep us introspective and acting upon the deficiencies in our system for a long time to come.

The Accused Are Bound to Suffer

You are lucky to have escaped a tormented and difficult life. Had you survived, life would not have been hunky dory. Media would not have left you in peace. Your relatives would have repeatedly questioned you as to why you had to stay away from home so late at night, indirectly blaming you for the brutal ordeal you had to undergo. Repeated visits to hospitals would have become tortuous after some time.

Not so for the accused. For a few moments of vicarious pleasure and sadistic revenge, they would atone throughout their remaining lives. Given the pressure which has got built up, the system would ensure that they receive the harshest punishment possible, that too possibly within a fraction of the time it normally takes to get a conviction announced.

The Hope You Have Generated

You have left behind a definite hope that our system would change for the better. Once the initial anguish and revulsion has subsided, meaningful action will get taken to ensure that India becomes a safer place for women in the days to come. The judiciary is awake, and so is the legislature. There is a realization that tightening laws alone will not help. The primary challenge lies in their interpretation and delivery, in ensuring that justice is swift and is also perceived to be inevitable. This involves not only sensitizing all arms of our republic better but also ensuring that there are more women occupying senior positions in the hierarchy.

Changes We Can Expect

From a heavenly perch, your soul must be watching in amazement the kind of contradictions our multi-layered society keeps coming up with. Politicians of all hues have decided to use your case as another scoring point with their eyes firmly fixed on their vote banks. But that is precisely what will ensure that we get tougher laws in the days to come.

Those responsible for enforcing the laws are presently claiming that they are under-staffed, under-paid and over-worked. Sheer public pressure will ensure that suitable changes happen over a period of time. As to our abysmally poor conviction rates – close to 25% in rape cases – your case is set to raise the bar. Our leaders are also coming forward to forego a part of their security staff, which would mean better per capita availability of police personnel for the common citizen.

Our self-anointed guardians of religious values and the great Indian tradition have not so far thought it fit to make an appeal to reform the gender-bias inherent in our society. There is no call as yet to reinterpret our scriptures to make them more progressive in their thought, in tune with the times. Our spiritual masters are yet to react to the underlying malaise in our society which does not provide a level playing field to females – whether before or after birth. Slowly and steadily, these changes would also come about.

Our advertising honchos believe that they cannot survive without using sexual innuendo in the ads they create. But brands which persist with obnoxious campaigns will eventually suffer in the market place. Our movie makers think that they can get the box office registers tingling only by putting in raunchy item songs, lewd lyrics and coarse dialogues. Admittedly, movies that one can watch with the entire family at home can be counted on finger tips. But, come to think of it, there is no dearth of such movies as well. To quote only a few of recent origin: ‘Chak De, India’, ‘Well Done, Abba’, ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ and ‘Ferrari Ki Sawari’, besides a host of others which have steered clear of pandering to the front rows in a theater.

You can readily see through the argument that provocative dresses and influence of ads and movies are responsible for the gender bias prevalent in our society. If the males shed their chauvinism a wee bit, and instead develop an inner resilience, these external factors would hardly make a difference. This can only be done through a sustained campaign directed at parents and bringing in an education system which places greater emphasis on moral aspects of life.

Business, even though it sustains itself on resources pooled in from the society, is too busy to bother about ensuring an absence of harassment at work or even in transit to and from the place of work. Often one sees a makeshift crèche coming up only when a buyer’s inspection is to take place in a manufacturing establishment. But progressive companies which take care of gender issues do end up attracting better talent.

The Rising Female Power

Economies the world over may not be in the pink of health. But the pink collar brigade has already made its presence felt in so many spheres of our lives. Right from the armed forces to civil engineering, from banking to pharmaceuticals, from medicine to management, from space exploration to music and fine arts – look at any field of expertise and you would find the finer of our species leading the pack. Until two decades back, women were found only in the jobs of receptionists, stenographers and laboratory technicians. Now, they hold sway over executive and managerial positions as well.

According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report, percentage of Indian women in senior management roles had gone up from 9% in 2011 to 14% in 2012. Globally, however, the percentage has remained unchanged at about 21%. Global average of women chief executives rose from 8% to 9%; in India, it has gone up from 1% in 2011 to 10% in 2012! As per the same report, globally, less than 10% of businesses have female CEOs, with women largely employed in HR and finance functions.

You may be aware that for some time now, EU has been planning to introduce a law that would impose penalties on companies that do not allocate 40% of the seats on their boards to women. It has met with opposition from Britain and other countries and stands blocked, as of now. But the day is not far off when this will eventually get done.

The Real Challenges

The most difficult change is going to be that of our patriarchy oriented value system. The next would be to ensure that delivery of justice is swift and inevitable. Above all, we need to ensure that the pressure of public opinion is sustained; that your case does not fade from the collective public memory for a long time to come.

Rest in Peace

Rest assured that positive changes will come about. The pace and the contours of the change may not exactly delight us. But your supreme sacrifice will not go in vain!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/the-anguish-of-a-soul

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/to-nirbhaya-the-fearless-a-daughter-of-india)

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