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Archive for October, 2015

CEOs and managers wanting to puncture the stress bubble these days have several options. Some can head to the nearest gym and burn away those blues. Some can simply switch off their technical gizmos and spend some quality time with their loved ones. Some can start learning yoga and meditation. Some can choose to put off the lights at home, put on some soothing music and relish their favourite tissue restorative, sans any distraction.

Others can pick up any work of P G Wodehouse or Terry Pratchett and recharge their batteries. Or, they can look up the delightful work of such eminent cartoonists as R K Laxman and Mario Miranda, both of whom have looked at managerial situations with the lens of sparkling wit and humour.

In Mario Miranda’s cartoons and illustrations, we come across the buxom but woolly headed secretary, Miss Fonseca. We also get to meet Mr. Godbole, the diffident and spineless manager, who is placed rather high in the hierarchy of goofy characters. And yes, no office scenario can be complete without a stiff-upper-lip superior, The Boss. He is the Lord and Master of all that he surveys.

Here is a delectable sample of some of Mario Miranda’s great work. Each one has an in-built lesson for a manager, whether an aspiring one or a practising one!

Not in a mood to work today? Think of an ingenious excuse to leave early. Or, just make a dash for it, hoping you remain invisible to The Boss.Office 01

For those who have just joined the company, it is useful to interact with some old hands. They could explain the finer points of the company’s leave policy.Mario Office 02
When hiring people, it is useful to enquire about their sleep patterns. This ensures that when an employee is taking a power nap, The Boss’ blood pressure remains under control.

Mario Office 03

Wish to report sick? Better seek advance permission from The Boss!

Mario Office 04
The Boss’ reputation travels far and wide. Those wanting to gate-crash into his office invariably use it to their advantage.

Mario Office 05

Bosses can be forgiven for their blind spots. No office can run without those who have become a part of the landscape.

Mario Office 06

For blue-blooded bureaucrats, documentary evidence reigns supreme.

Mario Office 07
Employees often crawl into their place of work. Invariably, they run back home. Customers who happen to walk in at Closing Time get treated with as much derision as they deserve.

Mario Office 08
When selecting people, The Boss knows the importance of body language.

Mario Office 09
Just joined a company? Befriend someone who can give you the inner dope on all colleagues.

Mario Office 10
One way to keep The Boss happy is to allow him to refuse your request for a raise.

Mario Office 11
Yet another way to make The Boss laugh is to ask him for a raise!

Mario Office 12
When a raise does come about, smart managers make sure they pay their obeisance to The Boss at regular intervals.

Mario Office 14
Reporting late for work? Think of a brand new excuse so as to escape The Boss’ wrath.

Mario Office 13
The Bosses always believe that physical activity of an employee is directly proportional to his/her real output at work.

Mario Office 15Mario Miranda’s cartoons not only entertain but also educate. To a stressed out manager, these are a ready means of chasing away those blues, much like a work of P G Wodehouse. To Plum fans, Miss Fonseca might sound like Madeline Bassett. Mr Godbole, the average Joe, may appear to be configured along the lines of Bertie Wooster, without the brainy support of Jeeves. The Boss might sound as if he is built along the lines of Sir Watkyn Bassett.

To aspiring managers, Mario Miranda’s cartoons offer unique insights into how companies function. They have a chance to learn how to navigate their way through the maze of management policies and practices, many of which are never covered in voluminous manuals and in Standard Operating Procedures of large conglomerates.

(Source: Mario’s Best Cartoons, Book I, ISBN 978-81-901830-6-2, gifted to yours truly by a thoughtful friend based at Goa in India)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/of-secretaries-and-the-inimitable-miss-fonseca

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/the-inimitable-r-k-laxman)

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While taking a leisurely stroll through the sunlit streets of Plumsville, lined on both sides with trees offering low-hanging ripe mangoes of unalloyed mirth, we come across quite a few authors, editors and publishers.

We get to meet Florence Craye, the famous author of ‘Spindrift’. We run into Oliver Randolph ‘Sippy’ Sipperley, the aspiring author. Gwendolen Moon, the poetess, crosses the street in front of us. George Webster ‘Boko’ Fittleworth bumps into us at the next corner. Smooth Lizzie, a poetess in whom critics might be disappointed, flashes past us in her two-seater. Even Bertie Wooster, our favourite hero, can be seen rushing to the offices of Milady’s Boudoir, possibly to submit his piece on ‘What the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing’.

Daphne Dolores Morehead can be seen headed somewhere in a hurry. Rosie M. Banks can be seen rushing to her humble abode, just to check if Bingo Junior’s bank passbook has finally got updated with the tenner handed over to her loving husband some time back. Bingo Little, himself an editor of Wee Tots, can be seen trying to touch Oofy Prosser for a tenner, so the loss may be made up before her loving wife discovers it. Lord Tilbury, the famous publisher, may get noticed rushing off in a disguise, ostensibly to avoid any manuscripts being hurled at him by aspiring authors from the windows of a passing bus.

A transient state of mental menopausewriters' block image

Though we happen to know most of the authors, writers, poets and poetesses mentioned above, we have no clue as to how they keep whipping up juicy as well as not-so-juicy stuff for their public. We empathize with their feelings of despondency and gloom if they pass a single day without writing at least five hundred odd words. But we continue to be clueless if they ever encounter the dreadful condition described by those in the writing trade as a Writer’s Block. Given the challenges they face in their mundane lives, they would surely be facing a transient state of mental menopause, as it were, at some point in time or the other. But they hide such perils of their profession well.

With one exception – that of Ashe Marson, the hero of Something Fresh. In his case, we get a sneak peek into the kind of conditions which can leave a writer’s sensitive soul all of a twitter, facing a condition which stupefies the brain. The flow of ideas gets blocked. The words no longer pour out, much like a public water tap which goes dry without a warning in a city in one of the emerging economies of the world.

Ashe Marson and the Wand of Death

Residents of Plumsville are aware that Ashe keeps the wolves at bay by dishing out the adventures of Gridley Quayle, Investigator, which are so popular with a certain section of the reading public. He is also known to be a regular when it comes to performing Larsen Exercises in public spaces, having become immune to the no-longer-curious glances of the proprietors of Hotels Mathis and Previtali, few cabmen, some chambermaids and even a cat. Physical fitness is his gospel.1915 Something Fresh collage

But one morning, he gets laughed at by a girl on a first floor balcony. Ashe gets beaten. On this particular day, this one scoffer, alone and unaided, is sufficient for his undoing. The depression, which his exercise regimen had begun to dispel, surges back on him. He has no heart to continue. Sadly gathering up his belongings, he returns to his room, and finds even a cold bath tame and uninspiring.

The breakfast, comprising a disheveled fried egg, some charred bacon and a cup of chicory which is euphemistically called coffee, aggravates the grip of misery. And when he forces himself to his writing-table, and begins to try to concoct the latest of the adventures of Gridley Quayle, Investigator, his spirit groans within him. He rumples his hair and gnaws his pen. He looks blankly for half an hour in front of a sheet of paper bearing the words: “The Adventure of the Wand of Death,” and tries to decide what a wand of death might be.

This is how Wodehouse describes the inner thoughts of his hero:

It was with the sullen repulsion of a vegetarian who finds a caterpillar in his salad that he now sat glaring at them.

The title had seemed so promising overnight–so full of strenuous possibilities. It was still speciously attractive; but now that the moment had arrived for writing the story its flaws became manifest.

What was a wand of death? It sounded good; but, coming down to hard facts, what was it? You cannot write a story about a wand of death without knowing what a wand of death is; and, conversely, if you have thought of such a splendid title you cannot jettison it offhand.

An interruption makes him feel all the more disoriented. However, the intruder happens to be the heroine, Joan Valentine. She de-mystifies the Wand of Death for him thus:

“Why, of course; it’s the sacred ebony stick stolen from the Indian temple, which is supposed to bring death to whoever possesses it. The hero gets hold of it, and the priests dog him and send him threatening messages.
What else could it be?”

Ashe gets back on track!

This is how poor Betty suffers one

So widespread is the silent epidemic of Writer’s Block that even such popular series as Archie Comics has been forced to accord recognition to it once in a while.

Take the case of poor Betty. She has unique qualities of head and heart. However, given her unselfish and helpful nature, she ends up hitting a Writer’s Block. The milk of human kindness sloshing about within her proves to be her undoing. In one episode of these popular comics, she runs quite a few errands. By the time she can please everyone else and hit her typewriter to start pouring out her ideas onto some sheets of paper, the brain refuses to fire even on a single cylinder.

Betty 1 01 (43)betty 2 01 (42)Betty 3 01 (41)Betty 4 01 (40)Betty 5 01 (39)

Even the high and mighty suffer

Present day authors and bloggers can derive some solace from the fact that some of the greatest writers in literature — Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway — were tormented by momentary lapses in their ability to dish out some juicy text or the other.

The sensitive souls that authors are, they are apt to be influenced and distracted by external occurrences. But come to think of it, it is their jaundiced view of such occurrences alone that provides them the fodder for their literary produce.

Imagine an author like P G Wodehouse sitting lonely in a dense forest, trying to come up with some escapades of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. With only a couple of birds and monkeys for company, he is likely to return home in the evening with some blank sheets.

He undoubtedly needs his quiet space. But he also gets in the bargain several distractions. Ethel pottering about in the kitchen. Pets who relish the joys of walking the ramp over some typewritten sheets lying on the floor. A maid who will come in just as he is brooding on his next Hollywood script. A surprise visit by a government official. A postman who brings in some fan mail.

Distractions all, yes. Leading to a Writer’s Block once in a while, yes. But each one is perhaps also an opportunity for him to view a mundane occurrence afresh, with a new perspective. Traits of each real-life person providing him the finer details of some fictional characters he is writing about.

Keeping the milk of human kindness from spilling over

Authors need an eco-system which enables them to strike a judicious balance between their off-society times of solitude and their open-for-interaction times. Successful ones perhaps perfect the art of walking this tight-rope. They make sure they do not exercise in public spaces. They get fed well. They do not get interrupted when they are in their quiet corner, dishing out the adventures of an investigator liked by their publishers and readers. Unlike Betty, they keep their milk of human kindness from spilling over to their grey cells. Their passion for writing keeps them more focused on their journey of creative expression.

Suffering from a Writer’s Block these days? Fret not. Some unique insight is bound to pop up in your mind soon enough. Perhaps, a Joan Valentine is about to walk in and talk about the Indian connection of the mysterious Wand of Death, thereby spurring you on to dizzying heights of creativity!

(Notes:

  1. Images of Writer’s Block and Something Fresh courtesy www.
  2. Archie source: Issue No. 221, Episode titled ‘Betty in the Write Mood‘)

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World over, one activity which keeps ordinary citizens delightfully preoccupied is that of exercising their right toelection voting choose the government they deserve. Travel to any continent, and one is apt to find a set of either countries or states which have either held an election, or are gearing up for the same.

Indians had their share of the fun in 2014 itself. Citizens of Zambia and Italy enjoyed casting a vote earlier this year. So did the denizens of Israel, UK, Poland, Mexico, Turkey and Singapore. Those who live in Portugal have just cast their votes. The ones who inhabit Egypt, Switzerland and Canada are just relishing the build-up of election rhetoric in their respective countries. Citizens of Myanmar, Spain and US are surely looking forward to the experience.

The Amusement Quotient

The process of holding aloft some core democratic values is not bereft of its entertainment value. Hapless citizens who struggle to etch out a living on a day-to-day basis surely deserve as much humour in their lives as they can manage to get. One source of amusement comprises the empty rhetoric and inane promises which get made in almost all the election speeches. Yet another is the tendency of blaming the previous regimes for all the current troubles.

Then we have the ‘simple harmonic motion’ proclivity of politicians who keep changing their loyalties, much like the delicately nurtured whoPGW Garfieldand_friends keep getting in and out of different dresses when taking a saunter down the ramp. Once a war of words starts, Newton’s Third Law of Motion kicks in. Much heat gets generated, but no light.

Some contestants are themselves so very colourful that the speeches rolling off their glib tongues provide enough merriment to last a few weeks at least. It does not really matter which ideology or political party they happen to represent. Their Amusement Quotient (AQ) remains unaffected. The jury though is still out whether a high AQ score translates into a high vote share as well.

Of goodies without tears

Election times not only provide succor to the souls which are perennially tormented by the harsh slings and arrows of life. Often, there is a ready supply of cash and goodies. Free transport to and from exotic locales is readily available. So are free lunches, for a change. The speed at which liquor flows could put a rivulet to shame.

Elections provide great chances of making a great deal of noise. Not to forget the chance of smashing shop-windows and burning vehicles; the sheer excitement of either beating up policemen or pinching their helmets.

Add to this the unique opportunity of throwing rotten apples, tomatoes and eggs at candidates who propound a view which happens to be contrary to that of the voters. No wonder citizens of countries which hold frequent elections end up getting international recognition in such areas as archery and shooting.

Politicians in the Wodehouse mould

Those familiar with the works of P G Wodehouse would fondly recall the select few characters therein having politicalRoderickSpode inclinations – voluntarily or otherwise. Sir Roderick Spode, Comrade Bingo’s revolutionary pals, the Heralds of the Red Dawn, the Hon’ble A. B. Filmer, Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, Mr. John Bickersdyke, Bertie’s pal Ginger and Stilton Cheesewright would readily spring to their minds.

When they look around the present set of politicians who keep huffing and puffing at frequent intervals, they are apt to be able to identify some unique traits of the Wodehousean characters in most of them.

The deep commitment to the Cause of a Spode. The revolutionary pals who fail to recognize the new-age challenges facing their outdated ideology. The self-assured stuffed-frog charisma of a Filmer. The morally dubious character of a Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe. The never-say-die spirit of a John Bickersdyke. The reluctant politicians in the mould of either a Ginger or a Stilton, on whom political ambition has been thrust by a no-nonsense girl friend.

Carbon credits, humour and mythology – the Indian scenario

The largest democratic exercise anywhere in the world takes place in India. The general elections in 2014 have beenIndia Parliament House quickly followed by state assembly polls. Earlier in 2015, Delhi chose a new government. It is now Bihar’s turn. States like Assam, Kerala, Pondicherry, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu follow in 2016.

In large states, campaigns and rallies based on 3-D holographic techniques are now more of a norm than an exception. Political parties using these can surely claim ‘carbon credits’ for adopting greener practices.

Indian elections have more than their share of humour and spectacle, much like elections elsewhere. Some politicians display their salty wit while some make do with their smiling sarcasm. Some go around chest-thumping and rattling off their achievements whereas some others thrive on their quiet dignity and a Monalisque enigma.

The great mythological epics of India provide an excellent resource base to contestants. Their complicated storylines and character lists provide unique opportunities for allusions and allegories to be drawn, thereby providing a divine touch to the worst of invectives which are routinely hurled at each other. Indian politicians’ mastery over mythology needs to be commended. Publishers of kids’ literature based on these epics surely laugh all the way to their banks.

The potential of Election Tourism

India has the good fortune of having a few state elections every year, the general elections being the blockbusterTaj offerings every five years. Invariably, the sheer magnitude of the exercise leads to staggered multi-phase elections, which offer a unique business opportunity – to those in the hospitality and tourism sector, and also to the government by buoying up its foreign exchange earnings.

India already boasts of Cultural Tourism, Business Tourism, Medical Tourism, Religious Tourism, Spiritual Tourism and the Goa kind of tourism. Time, perhaps, to tweak the Incredible India panoply and include Election Tourism as one of its key verticals.

Some incredible benefits

Consider the following advantages of such an initiative:
• A global platform for all our politicos to display their theatrical and oratory skills.Angelina_Jolie_2_June_2014_
• Rebranding India – from a land of snake-charmers and elephants to a digital-savvy country, what with innovative 3-D holographic campaigns, mobile applications and the works.
• Global promotion of the kind of mud-slinging which goes on, in the name of campaigning.
• A unique exposure to India’s rich mythology and epics.
• Improvement in the country’s foreign exchange reserves, with its attendant benefits for the Indian economy.
• Boost to several sectors of the economy, like travel, tourism and hospitality; the spill-over effect on other sectors.
• Boost to investments from Swiss Finishing Schools which would make a beeline to set up coaching centers in India, aimed at grooming our politicos.
• Political parties could augment their inflows by auctioning the rights to campaign amongst international celebrities. Imagine the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore getting roped in to make selective appearances at public meetings and shoring up the electoral prospects of some parties.
• Some movie moghuls from Hollywood could even get tempted to persuade Julia Roberts to appear in a movieMadrid_-_Congreso_de_Diputados entitled ‘Eat, Pray and Vote’, thereby improving the prospects of even smaller political parties to make a mark.

An exciting global outlook

Once India provides a lead along these lines, several other countries would follow suit. Their GDPs would register a healthy increase. Unemployment rates would dip. Politicos of all hues will get a global platform to showcase their marketing abilities. In the not so distant a future, global auctions could take place, enrolling the campaigning services of international celebrities. Coffers of the parent country they hail from would start getting filled up faster.

Spain, which ranked first among 141 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism CompetitiveHillary_Clinton Index, has an immediate opportunity coming up by way of a general election planned on December 20, 2015. Imagine the delight of a tourist who, while visiting the Plaza Mayor, the Teide National Park and the Museo del Prado, gets invited to a witness an election rally on one of her quieter evenings!

USA plans to hold its next Presidential election on November 8, 2016. There is enough time for tourism agencies to whip up some special packages which, besides offering a trip to the Niagra Falls and the Grand Canyon, include a contributory dinner with, say, Hillary Clinton!

The possibilities are endless. The mind boggles. If Spain takes a lead, it is likely that the United Nations World Tourism Organization, headquartered in Madrid, would soon move to recognize Election Tourism as a responsible, sustainable and universally accessible activity.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/politicos-in-plumsville-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/politicos-in-plumsville-part-2

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/invitation-to-a-swearing-in-ceremony-at-blandings-castle)

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Denizens of the Republic of Plumsville are cordially invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet of its Federal Government.Blandings castle-enHon’ble President, Lord Emsworth (Clarence Threepwood, 9th Earl of Emsworth), would preside over the function. The Vice President, Mr. Chichester Clam, shall also grace the occasion.

The ceremony shall begin with the Hon’ble President raising the National Flag, to the accompaniment of a rendering of the National Anthem ‘Sonny Boy’ by Ms. Cora Bellinger.

The Hon’ble President, the Vice President and the incumbent Prime Minister shall thereafter garland the statue of Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE, the Father of the Nation.

Oaths shall be administered by the Chief Justice of Plumsville, Sir Watkyn Bassett. Oaths shall be in the name of the Constitution of Plumsville, viz., The Code of the Woosters.

Here are the respective portfolios and the incumbents:

Prime Minister: Mr. Rupert Psmith (‘p’ is silent)

Commerce and Industry: Ms. Joan Valentine

Defence: Ms. Stephanie Byng

Entrepreneurship: Ms. Sally

Fashion Design: Sir Roderick Spode

Finance: Mr. Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge

Food Processing: Mr. Anatole

Health & Family Welfare: Mr. Ashe Marson

Home: Ms. Dahlia Travers

Human Resource/Education: Ms. Tomlinson

International Relations: Mr. Reginald Jeeves

Information & Broadcasting: Mr. Mulliner

Labour & Employment: Mr. Gussie Fink-Nottle

Literature and Fine Arts: Ms. Rosie M. Banks

Matrimonial Bliss: Mr. Bingo Little

Milk of Human Kindness: Mr. Bertram Wilberforce Wooster

Net Neutrality: Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe

Parliamentary Affairs: Hon. Galahad Threepwood

Space and Atomic Energy: Ms. Madeline Bassett

Sports: Ms. Pauline Stoker

Taxation: Mr. Tom Travers

Terror Management: Ms. Roberta Wickham

Tissue Restoratives: Ms. Postlethwaite

Tourism: Ms. Angela Travers

Transport: Mr. Percy Craye, Earl of Worplesdon

Wildlife & Forests: Captain Cuthbert Gervase ‘Bwana’ Brabazon-Biggar

The swearing-in ceremony shall be followed by a short program, as follows:

Speech by Mr. Rupert Psmith

‘Meeting Millennium Development Goals: The Role of Humour in enhancing the Gross Happiness Index of countries’

 Brief talk by Ms. Stephanie Byng

‘Defending borders of countries with a dash of humour; The need to set up training academies in pinching helmets’

Presentation by Mr. Gussie Fink-Nottle

‘Boosting employment prospects of youth by encouraging newt-rearing industry’

Brief talk by Mr. Bertram W. Wooster

‘Managing Immigrants in an increasingly globalized world – An Innovative Approach based on the Milk of Human Kindness’

Talk by Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe

‘Maintaining Net Neutrality by pinching servers and technocrats from neighbouring countries’

Address by Ms. Roberta Wickham

‘Using the hot-water-bottle puncturing strategy and other goofy schemes to neutralize terroristic endeavours’

Video presentation by Ms. Angela Travers

‘Promoting tourism by protecting sharks and whales’

A vaudeville performance by Aunt Julia and Joe Danby

A parody of the Market Snodsbury speech of Mr. Gussie Fink-Nottle, delivered by Master Seabury

The President shall thereafter be pleased to have you with him and the newly inducted team at the lavish luncheon being planned by Monsieur Anatole, God’s gift to our gastric juices. He shall be assisted by the house staff, led by Mr. Sebastian Beach.

The event shall conclude with a Guard of Honour, led by Colonel Aubrey Wyvern, astride the high-bred Potato Chip.

Venue: Forecourt of Blandings Castle
Date: October 15, 2015
Time: 10:00 hours sharp

Notes:

1. Guests and invitees are hereby requested to take their seats by 09:45 hours.

2. Pets are strictly discouraged, lest they disturb the pre-lunch siesta of the Empress of Blandings. James Pirbright shall be in attendance. All the decent sheep and cattle shall be hustled away into regions unknown, so the ceremony may proceed without any interruption.

3. Cell phones and technical gizmos of all kinds shall need to be deposited with Constable Ernest Dobbs at the entrance.

4. For those who wish to take a guided tour of the magnificent gardens and the moss-covered yew alley, Mr. Angus McAllister shall be available after the conclusion of the ceremony.

RSVP: Secretary to the Hon’ble President: Rupert Baxter.

(Notes:

  1. Inputs received from avid fans of P G Wodehouse are gratefully acknowledged.
  2. You may also like to check out: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/politicos-in-plumsville-part-1)

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In the last post, we considered the political leanings of Sir Roderick Spode and Harold Winship, aka Ginger. Here are two more characters of a political nature we come across in Plumsville.

The challenge of handling hecklers

Let us look at some of the challenges faced by Mr. John Bickersdyke, manager of the London branch of the New Asiatic Bank, who is a keen aspirant for a Parliamentary slot. He has the singular misfortune of having the immaculate and loquacious Psmith working under his supervision.  (Psmith in the City)

He might have been defeated in an earlier attempt by a couple of thousand votes. He might have now switched overPsmith from being a Liberal to a Unionist. All this does not deter him from making a speech at the local Town Hall.

However, Kenningford, S. E., happens to be a tough place. The electorate is more inclined towards a robust kind of humour which could even incite such physical acts as smashing shop-windows and kicking policemen.

This is how Wodehouse sums up political meetings:

‘All political meetings are very much alike. Somebody gets up and introduces the speaker of the evening, and then the speaker of the evening says at great length what he thinks of the scandalous manner in which the Government is behaving or the iniquitous goings-on of the Opposition. From time to time confederates in the audience rise and ask carefully rehearsed questions, and are answered fully and satisfactorily by the orator. When a genuine heckler interrupts, the orator either ignores him, or says haughtily that he can find him arguments but cannot find him brains. Or, occasionally, when the question is an easy one, he answers it. A quietly conducted political meeting is one of England’s most delightful indoor games. When the meeting is rowdy, the audience has more fun, but the speaker a good deal less.’

Armed with a penetrating, if harsh, voice, Mr. Bickersdyke begins well. He casts a spell over his audience. He says a couple of nasty things about Free Trade and the Alien Immigrant and then turns to the Needs of the Navy and the necessity of increasing the fleet at all costs.

‘This is no time for half-measures,’ he said. ‘We must do our utmost. We must burn our boats–‘
‘Excuse me,’ said a gentle voice.
‘How,’ asked Psmith, ‘do you propose to strengthen the Navy by burning boats?’

The inane question breaks the spell. The story of ‘Three Men in a Boat’ is used to amuse the audience. When Mr.

Psmith 1909 by T. M. R. Whitwell

Psmith 1909 by T. M. R. Whitwell

Bickersdyke goes on to point out the lack of genuine merit in the achievements of His Majesty’s Government, applause follows.

The irrepressible Psmith once again interrupts and points out that the story is not an original one. A fiasco follows. How Psmith manages his boss the next day is something to be learnt from.

Mr. Bickersdyke ends up winning the election, though with a slender margin over his opponent, about whose background some damaging revelations get circulated on the eve of the poll, projecting him as a German spy.

Astute politicians always ensure that their speeches are cleverly crafted and dramatically delivered. These are designed to be monologues, interspersed either with loud applause from the audience or with sloganeering, cheering and flag-waiving from time to time.

A mulish cop who refuses to stand for Parliament

A member of the Drones Club, Stilton is a hulking chap with a large head compared to a pumpkin and a ‘face that looked like a slab of pink dough’. He is educated at Eton and Oxford, but considered a fine fellow only ‘as far northwards as the neck’.

In Joy in the Morning, we find him to be the local cop at Steeple Bumpleigh. However, his fiancée, Florence Craye, does not approve of his career choice. Here is a part of the exchange of views on the subject between her and Bertie:JoyInTheMorning

‘I should have thought you would have been rather bucked about it all. As giving evidence of Soul, I mean.’
‘Soul?’
‘It shows he’s got a great soul.’
‘I should be extremely surprised to find that he has any soul above those great, clodhopping boots he wears. He is just pig-headed. I have reasoned with him over and over again. His uncle wants him to stand for Parliament and is prepared to pay all his expenses and to finance him generously for the rest of his life, but no, he just looks mulish and talks about earning his living. I am sick and tired of the whole thing, and I really don’t know what I shall do about it.’

Towards the end of the narrative, Stilton gets ticked off by Uncle Percy for forgetting his sacred obligations and bringing up wild and irresponsible accusations in a selfish desire to secure promotion. This revolting exhibition of fraud and skullduggery makes him resign from the Force, thereby restoring the romantic relations between him and Florence. Whether he eventually makes it to the Parliament is not known.

Politicos and their invaluable contribution to humour

Politics offers a great opportunity to humourists of all hues. Cartoonists are forever snapping at their heels, irrespective of their popularity at any given point in time. Writers keep coming up with articles which project the funnier side of their acts of omission and commission. Stand-up comedians earn their living based on scripts and acts which are centered on their misdemeanours.

We might love or hate politicos, but they do provide us comic relief. Their contribution to promoting diverse careers is indeed praiseworthy. Above all, they are marketing honchos who have perfected the art of selling dreams to their gullible public.

P G Wodehouse was not a political or social commentator. Yet, he gave us a handful of politically inclined characters. All of them happen to be as cranky in Wodehouse’s world, as indeed they are in ours.

I wonder if he ever etched out a political character from amongst the delicately nurtured of the Plumsville species. Aunt Agatha would have surely made a fine politician; so would have Joan Valentine and Sally!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/politicos-in-plumsville-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/the-hapless-rozzers-in-plumsville)

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In Plumsville, we get to meet quite a few characters who happen to nurse political ambitions. Some happen to be born crusaders and revolutionaries. Others appear to have gravitated towards politics by chance. Yet others have a career in politics thrust upon them by a ruthless fiancée.

The name of Sir Roderick Spode readily springs to our minds. Comrade Bingo’s revolutionary pals, the Heralds of the Red Dawn, pop up in our consciousness. Our grey cells remind us of the Hon’ble A. B. Filmer, the Cabinet Minister who gets readily intimidated by an angry swan.

The morally dubious Conservative and Unionist candidate Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe is another person whom we cannot afford to ignore. When not busy pinching sow-keepers and the Empress of Blandings, he plans to stand in a by-election in the Bridgeford and Shifley Parliamentary Division of Shropshire.

The candidature of John Bickersdyke, who has the singular misfortune of having the immaculate and loquacious Psmith working under his supervision at the London branch of the New Asiatic Bank, deserves a mention.

The list of honourable mentions cannot be complete without the hapless Ginger who endeavours to take up a political career merely to please his fiancée. In another narrative, the same fiancée aspires to influence the career of Stilton Cheesewright, who is otherwise content being a vigilant guardian of peace at Steeple Bumpleigh.

Here are some of the select specimens we come across.

Misinterpreting the Voice of the People

Sir Roderick Spode and his nationalist Black Shorts gang happen to be shining examples of dictatorship, a form of CodeOfTheWoostersgovernance which does not depend upon the approval of the lay citizen. This is how Bertie Wooster expresses himself on the subject (The Code of the Woosters):

“The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting “Heil, Spode!” and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: “Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?”

In the television series Jeeves and Wooster, Spode makes loud, dramatic speeches in which he announces bizarre statements of policy, such as giving each citizen at birth a British–made bicycle and umbrella, widening the rails of the entire British railway network, so sheep may stand sideways on trains, the banning of the import of foreign root-vegetables and the compulsory, scientific measurement of all male knees.

The perils of being affianced to a perfectionist

Then we have the curious case of Harold Winship, or Ginger, who is an old chum of Bertie’s. (Much Obliged, Jeeves)

When at school, he used to play a Damon to Bertie’s Pythias. He has been persuaded by his fiancée to stand for Parliament in the bye-election at Market Snodsbury.

‘But I was telling you about this business of standing for Parliament. First, of course, you have to get the nomination.’
‘How did you manage that?’
‘My fiancée fixed it. She knows one of the Cabinet ministers, and he pulled strings. A man named Filmer.’
‘Not A. B. Filmer?’
‘That’s right. Is he a friend of yours?’
‘I wouldn’t say exactly a friend. I came to know him slightly owing to being chased with him on to the roof of a sort of summer-house by an angry swan. This drew us rather close together for the moment, but we never became really chummy.’
‘Where was this?’
‘On an island on the lake at my Aunt Agatha’s place at Steeple Bumpleigh. Living at Steeple Bumpleigh, you’ve PGW MuchObligedJeevesprobably been there.’
He looked at me with a wild surmise, much as those soldiers Jeeves has told me about looked on each other when on a peak in Darien, wherever that is.
‘Is Lady Worpledon your aunt?’
‘And how.’
‘She’s never mentioned it.’
‘She wouldn’t. Her impulse would be to hush it up.’
‘Then, good Lord, she must be your cousin.’
‘No, my aunt. You can’t be both.’
‘I mean Florence. Florence Craye, my fiancée.’
It was a shock.

Florence, as we all know, is a perfectionist. She has no use for a loser. To keep her esteem you have to be a winner. Bertie and Jeeves must therefore pull out all stops to ensure that Ginger contests the election successfully.

We learn that besides securing a nomination, the work for a candidate is rather tough. He has to be a model of respectability; his past should bear the strictest investigation. He has to listen to addresses of welcome in stuffy halls through the better part of a night. He has to continue making speeches. He must kiss babies, even if they happen to be dribbling by the sides of their mouths.

(To be continued)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/politicos-in-plumsville-part-2)

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What ho!

Just a week to go for the birthday celebrations,

Some of you must be concluding your Plummy deliberations;

Whipping up some juicy anecdotes and posts,

Which can be read with much glee by the party hosts.

 

With doors shut, the brain firing on all twelve cylinders,

Time perhaps to pen down the life’s goofy blunders;

Creative juices sloshing about, a tissue restorative by your side,

Between us bosom pals, there is never a thing to hide.

 

There are no contests to be entered into, nor any prizes to be won,

Either with your brain or with your heart, just pen down a juicy one;

The soft inner glow of happiness is all that you would require,

A rainbow of adulation around your shoulders you will surely acquire.

(Relates post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/an-invitation-for-the-residents-of-plumsville)

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In a highly competitive and inter-connected world, how can organizations keep pace with the ever-evolving business environment? How can business leaders and CEOs achieve results, when faced with disruptive technologies which keep changing the way the business works?

An alternative paradigm for management processes can perhaps help. This paradigm comprises four aspects which underlie all aspects of management, as it is understood, taught and practiced by working as well as by aspiring managers.

The four aspects of Integral Management, drawn from Sri Aurobindo’s writings, are: Perfection, Power, Harmony and Wisdom. Perfection in whatever an organization plans and does. The Power that a company uses to achieve its goals. The Harmony which is required to enable the achievement of goals. Above all, the Wisdom which goes into running a business enterprise in a sustainable fashion.jrd-tata

Smart managers 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.”

Sri Aurobindo Center for Advanced Research (SACAR), a NGO devoted to disseminating the thoughts and vision of the well-renowned seer of India, recently held a day-long seminar on various aspects of managerial perfection. The seminar was held at Pondicherry in India.

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Some of the key issues deliberated upon at the seminar

Making ‘Make in India’ a success needs a change in the attitudes of those who practice the art of management. The attitude of compromise needs to be shunned in all spheres of life. A strong sense of self-belief is a pre-requisite.IMG_4242 Resized

Imperfection leads to higher stress. When faced with a challenge, ‘Root Cause Analysis’ often leads to a state of perfection being achieved. Attention to detail alone helps. Pushing down complexity is yet another way to realize our goal of perfection.

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Perfection is a dynamic concept. It is a moving goal. Even 99.9% is not good enough. Factors which help a leader in her journey towards perfection are:
o Unquenchable thirst, constant endeavour
o Catering to revised customer expectations
o Vision to reach there
o Perfect planning
o Obedience
o Constant supervision and vigilance
o Perfect balance and enduranceIMG_4254 Resized

Decision making can be made more perfect by supplementing rational thinking with intuition. The higher the level of uncertainty, the greater the role that intuition can play. Intuitive faculties can be developed by means of:
o Listening better
o Reflecting on a decision before implementing
o Examining your beliefs
o Communicating to, and consulting, others
o Learning to recognize and interpret your emotions
o Creating the right learning environment; allow failures
o Using situational assessments and case studies

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Leadership styles can be perfected by following some concurrent processes:
o Leading oneself first – introspection, self-improvement, practicing gratitude, shouldering      responsibility, improving quality of action and self-discipline; self-image plays a crucial role
o Leading others – by example
o Delivering results
o Grooming leadersDSC_0114 Resized

A sound HR philosophy is the essence of Perfection, which is an inner state of living. The principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are useful in crafting innovative HR policies. Employees at all levels deserve an operational freedom which needs to be balanced with a sense of collective responsibility.DSC_0121 Resized

Some real-life examples which were touched upon

The following were some of the real-life examples which came up for discussion at the seminar:
• Evolution of manufacturing excellence across the world, from the first World War onwards
• Products of Apple and the no-nonsense attitude of Steve Jobs
• The SAS turnaround by Jan Carlzon; lessons from ‘Moments of Truth’
• Nestle India’s delayed decision to withdraw Maggi noodles from the shelves
• Recall of more than 2 million cars by Honda due to faulty air bags

The seminar, entitled ‘In Pursuit of Managerial Perfection’, drew an enthusiastic response from business managers, scholars and students alike. It was addressed by Dr. Ananda Reddy, Director of SACAR, Mr. R. Mananathan, Chairman and MD, Manatec group of companies, Prof R. P. Raya, Dean, School of Management, Pondicherry University, Prof. Jaisree Anand, Founder LearnMore India Consultant, Mr. Ganesh Babu, Founder and CEO Winning Minds, Prof. Kisholoy Gupta, Senior HR Professional and yours truly – a heady mix of management educators, lifestyle coaches, business thinkers and influencers.

Dr Shruti Bidwaikar, Assistant Director, SACAR, summed up the proceedings of the day. Dr Arvind Gupta, Assistant Director, Directorate of Distance Education, Pondicherry University, advised the participants to imbibe the day’s learning in an appropriate manner while facing challenges in life.

SACAR proposes to organize a series of follow-up seminars touching upon the three other pillars of Integral Management, viz., Harmony, Power and Wisdom.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/an-inner-approach-to-leadership-and-management-note-on-a-seminar)

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Here is yet another thought-provoking post on Bollywood from My Views on Bollywood.

My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer

Recently three powerful filmmakers of Bollywood, viz., Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty and Subhash Ghai got together to announce their latest collaborative venture titled  Ram Lakhan– the remake of Subhash Ghai’s 1989 super-hit film-Ram Lakhan. This has come as a surprise and makes one wonder why would these three well-established bigwigs of the industry with all the money and resources at their disposal choose a ‘remake’ rather than come-up with an original story! And that too of a movie whose stars are still associated strongly with the original film. Even in the recently concluded finale of the popular TV show, Indian Idol Junior, Anil Kapoor made his entry dancing to the title song of this film-‘My name is Lakhan…

A funny point about this remake is that while the original starring Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff was made at the time when…

View original post 2,405 more words

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Gandhi by R K Laxman

Mahatma Gandhi, revered the world over as an apostle of peace and non-violence, led India’s freedom movement. His birth anniversary gets celebrated on the 2nd of October.

Are his teachings relevant to the world of commerce and business? Can CEOs of today learn a thing or two from his aphorisms?

Here are few of his thoughts which business owners, CEOs and managers might find of some interest.

The future depends on what you do today.

Managements who care for their brands re-engineer their business processes and ensure sustainable operations. They respect the environment and the aspirations of the local communities. They ensure compliance with local laws. Ethics and values are strictly adhered to.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.

Smart CEOs already know this, thanks in part perhaps to Philip Kotler and others who have proclaimed that ‘Customer is King.’ A small time retailer practices this axiom even without having come across it. Managements of organized retail chains try to drill this message into their front-line staff, hoping to make shopping a pleasurable experience.

Marketing honchos these days are twiddling their thumbs trying to solemnize a holy matrimony between e-commerce outfits and brick-and-mortar stores.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

CEOs spend a lot of their time trying to reform others. But the trick perhaps lies in understanding oneself internally – one’s own motivations, value systems, strengths and weaknesses.

To be a true leader also means to lead by example. A business leader who cries hoarse over corruption but is seen as dishing out lucrative business deals to a family member would never get taken seriously. A company which projects a clean image but does not deliver good value for customer’s money, or sets aside funds for speedier navigating through the politico-bureaucratic maze of a country it operates in, succeeds only in the short run.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

CEOs in the King Lion mode make good mentors when they take the mistakes of their cubs in their stride, coach them appropriately and do not indulge in demolishing their sense of self-worth.

It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.

Great leaders are often humble. They learn from their failures as well as from their successes. CEOs and marketing heads of FMCG companies who are getting out of their silos and venturing into rural markets are learning this rather quickly.

Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.

Gravitating towards an external profile which is a reflection of what one happens to be internally is one of the ingredients of success. This harmony leads to better degree of mental peace and equanimity, which in turn brings about better decision-making.

If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.

A clear sense of purpose and a strong self-belief alone are necessary but not sufficient for go-getter CEOs to realize their aims. A conscious effort to acquire the knowledge and the skills necessary to achieve one’s aim is a pre-requisite of success.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

A strong will power and a sense of conviction help CEOs in achieving their goals. Followers look up to them for strategic inputs and end up assisting them in execution.

Will it with all your heart, and see your vision taking a tangible shape.

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.

Smart CEOs know when and how to say a ‘No’. They also understand the perils of being a ‘Yes’-person. Registering dissent is an art which they often learn the hard way.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Living in the present is an art which successful CEOs practice in a state of blissful ignorance. Ensuring that all customer queries get responded to on the very day these are raised is a matter of habit for them.

Going back to school is an option which many senior managers exercise these days. Organizations which encourage such endeavours keep topping the charts of the most-favourite-employers year after year.

Mahatma Gandhi was not a management consultant. What he said was not in the context of business management. But some of the principles he has left behind for us to munch upon are practical, hard-nosed and shrewd.

Business owners, CEOs and managers of all hues are sure to find that many of his ideas are worth emulating. Mere brooding over these gems of business could transform our attitudes and produce gratifying results. Bringing them in practice could help businesses burnish their brands and build a formidable competitive edge.

(Caricature by late Sh. R K Laxman)

(This post can also be found at http://www.mdaceoworld.com/blog)

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