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After the 2008 economic meltdown, the management world has discovered that CEOs need to follow not only the Business Compass but also a Moral Compass to steer the enterprises they happen to run. Improving one’s Spiritual Quotient is now a sheer business necessity, and shall be more so in the decades to come.

It is here that Indian scriptures and sages provide a ready template for managers of all sizes and shapes.

The bookSurviving in the Corporate Jungle’ covers some lessons from the following:

-Ramayana

-Mahabharata

-Bhagavad-Gita

-Thirukkural

-Chanakya Neeti

-Sri Aurobindo

Managers with a Western Mind and an Eastern Heart

The success of the likes of Satya Nadella (currently the CEO of Microsoft) and Sundar Pichai (currently the CEO of Google Inc) goes on to show the growing importance of managers who are not only exposed to the Western models of management but also steeped in Eastern wisdom in the realm of management.


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Be it Blandings Castle or Totleigh Towers, summer is eternal and the sun beams benevolently across the books of Mr Wodehouse. And Mr Ashok Bhatia, who has spent much of his 60-odd years curling up in bed with the works of the great humourist, hails from a land where the sun-shine is as eternal, although not quite so benevolent. It is more prone to broil the citizens till they totter on the brink of the loony-bin.

In Amsterdam, however, even as the calendar assured that it was nearing the end of April, the weather was having a cold hearty cackle at the expense of misguided tourists shivering in their light jackets. Thus, the erstwhile management consultant and his wife turned up at Restaurant Szmulewicz wrapped from head to toe under many, many layers of wool, fleece and polyester.

Ashok is done with navigating the highways of the corporate world. He now spends his time with NGOs in the rather diverse and distinct disciplines of Management and Spirituality. That is provided he can tear himself away from his lifelong perusal of the antics of Jeeves, Ukridge, Lord Emsworth and the rest of them. He has recently authored a book himself, which takes a humorous look at the principles of management and, as a corollary, mismanagement. But perhaps he is happiest when adding thoughts and reflections to his blog, which, needless to say, is dominated by PG Wodehouse.

Mrs Bhatia has not really been an avid Wodehouse reader herself. But matrimony comes with associative afflictions. She is not immune to the moments when her husband is spotted variously chuckling, guffawing and, to use a modern illusion, rolling on the floor with laughter. Investigations carried out at these junctures do keep popping up Wodehousean passages as chief suspects. And she excels at that profound quality found in the better or worse halves of devoted readers, without which the very pursuit of reading would be rendered impossible – indulgence. She indulges Ashok as he reads, and tolerates him even as he sometimes reads aloud to her. It was this sterling indulgence that had brought her to Szmulewicz, withstanding the association of not only her husband but three more Wodehouseans.

Josepha Olsthoorn and Wil Brouwers had turned up before one could even say ‘Bring on the Girls’, charming and hospitable, eager to spread sweetness and light. And Arun too had been allowed in the restaurant … although as he entered there had been a distinct sound of a very old sheep clearing its throat in the southern alps, followed by the words, “Long hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.”

Thus glasses were clinked, old Plum was toasted, Empress was remembered, Ukridge was discussed. It grew louder and funnier by the minute, an evening filled with humour and hapjes, Galahad and gezelligheid.

In short, it was a perfect what’s-its-name of the thingummy and the thing-um-a-bob of the what d’you-call-it.

(The aforesaid write-up, whipped up by Arunabha Sengupta, appeared in ‘Nothing Serious‘, the magazine unleashed upon its members by the Dutch Wodehouse Society at regular intervals.

Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and freelance sports journalist based in Amsterdam. He also has a past in the software industry that still gives him the jitters. Apart from being a Wodehousean, he is also a Holmesian and is the author of the pastiche ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes.’

Permission to reproduce this piece, if piece is indeed the word one wants, is gratefully acknowledged.)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/a-drones-club-meeting-in-amsterdam)

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Those who happen to know me personally are often deceived by my polite manners. They often wonder as to why I never opted for a diplomatic career.

Allow me to set the record straight. P G Wodehouse played some role in indicating that my Guardian Angels had planned my life much unlike that of Eustace Mulliner, who was a part of the British Embassy in Switzerland.

Jeeves’ psychology-of-an-individual factor has also led me to believe that the diplomatic corps on this planet are better off without me.

My limited intuitive faculties also tell me that life as a career diplomat could not be as glamorous and hunky dory as it might appear to be from the outside of an embassy building.

The Eustace Mulliner saga

Wodehouse fans might recall that the splendid idea of Eustace Mulliner joining the British Embassy in Switzerland was dangled before him by his godfather, Lord Knubble of Knopp. Eustace had stoutly refused to avail himself of the offer.

However, things turned out differently when he was caught misbehaving with Francis, a feline creature which was a favourite of his Aunt Georgina. At the time, two more characters had popped up, taking a jaundiced view of the proceedings. His obduracy evaporated. He decided that Switzerland was a safer country to be in.

Unlike Eustace Mulliner, my Guardian Angels had planned my life along different lines.

One, I never fancied maintaining a ‘Open House’ for pets of all kinds.

Two, Fate never bestowed upon me a girl friend, that too someone like Marcella Tyrrwhitt, who would take the risk of entrusting her favourite Peke and her canary to me while going off to Paris on a brief sojourn.

Three, I have never had the privilege of having a wealthy aunt who might have taken offence at my throwing cucumber sandwiches at her cat.

Four, never have I come across an ardent animal lover like Orlando Wotherspoon, the perennial Vice President of the Dumb Chumbs’ League, who would threaten to thrash me within an inch of my life.

Nor have I had the privilege of coming across a girl friend who had Spanish blood in her; someone who would have liked to whack me with the heaviest parasol she could lay her hands on, the provocation being her discovery that a favourite Peke of hers had been gifted by me to one Beatrice Watterson.Those who have followed the ruminations of Mr Mulliner (Mulliner Nights, Open House) would recall that Eustace, upon joining the British Embassy in Switzerland, had stuck to his duties with unremitting energy.

‘So much so that, he had been awarded the Order of the Crimson Edelweiss, Third Class, with crossed cuckoo-clocks, carrying with it the right to yodel in the presence of the Vice-President.’

One might miss the rights to yodel in the presence of the high and mighty, but life has been kind to me in so many other ways.

The psychology of the individual

Jeeves would have surely approved of my keeping away from a diplomatic career. I am certain that several diplomatic disasters and gaffes have thus been avoided, saving our planet from a more uncertain future. August bodies such as the United Nations surely breathe easier.

The simpleton that I am, a career in diplomacy would have tested my reserves of patience to the hilt. Putting on a plastic smile, when necessary, would have tried my nerves no end. A Bollywood producer, had he cast me as a lead actor for one of his inane movies, would have cried all the way to his bank. Having to make inane conversations with perfect strangers on topics which are alien to the restricted domain of my knowledge would have left my soul in perennial torment.

To a lay person, the life of a career diplomat might sound flashy and exciting. Rubbing shoulders with world leaders. Travelling to exotic locales. Devouring Anatole-ish spreads. Attending conferences and banquets. Making clever speeches which get received with a thunderous applause and, possibly, even a standing ovation.

But it is not too difficult to surmise the harsh realities of a diplomatic life. These pose many challenges of a managerial kind.

Of diplomats and their career blues

Maintaining cordial international relations in our turbulent times would be no mean task. The dignity and the image of the home country needs to be upheld. Culture, heritage and values need to be showcased. Cultural nuances of the land where they happen to be posted to need to be understood and rigorously followed.

Besides negotiating and facilitating treaties, opportunities for trade promotion and closer collaboration have to be exploited to the hilt. An eye has to be kept open for business opportunities between the two countries. Unique strengths of the home country have to be showcased. Stakeholders of diverse hues, shapes, sizes and temperaments have to be kept in a positive frame of mind. Political masters have to be kept in good humour. Business barons snapping at their heels have to be kept at bay.

Meetings, conferences and banquets have to be attended. Impeccable sartorial standards have to be maintained, showcasing their home country while keeping the local sensibilities in mind. Consular services have to be dished out with courtesy, transparency and efficiency.

Morale of the staff has to be upheld at all times. Resistance to change needs to be overcome. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has to be understood and applied in all cases. Career priorities invariably take precedence over personal matters.

The harsh slings and arrows of fate do not stop with such mighty challenges. Once in a blue moon, some odd requests have to be granted. Interviews by a bunch of giggly communication students may need to be granted. Inquisitive media journalists desperately searching for some exciting sound bites may have to be tolerated.

Lay citizens of a distant country could pop up, wanting to present a book authored by them on a subject which sounds like Latin and Greek, simply because the book was launched back home, in the home language.

The last mentioned was the fate suffered recently by two senior members of the international diplomatic corps, when I popped up in flesh and blood to present to them a copy of my book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

It was kind of them to have granted me an audience. Like many a harsh slings and arrows of Fate coming their way, they took it very sportingly, thereby shoring up the image of their country in the feeble mind of a lesser mortal from one of the emerging economies of the world.

Bertie Wooster would have heartily approved of their chin up attitude. So would have Eustace Mulliner.

As to my not having gravitated towards a diplomatic career myself, Jeeves would have surely approved.

Thank you, Plum!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/a-meeting-with-the-minister-counsellor-of-portugal-in-switzerland)

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Finland is a country which has smoothly embraced rapid change from being an agrarian economy to being a knowledge economy. Innovation happens to be a key priority. India, on the other hand, is still grappling with the disruptive changes that the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution bestows on its citizenry. It has earned global acclaim in the realm of “Jugaad”, which could be translated as either Informal Innovation or as Frugal Engineering.

INTERNATIONAL MINDS in FINLAND (IMiF) is a global community of 500 plus inquisitive souls whose IQ (read Intelligence Quotient, also Inquisitiveness Quotient) is rather high. It believes in co-aggregating and creating value in/with/for Finland. The community works with the single purpose of soaking in as much knowledge and wisdom as they possibly can from our vast universe. To this end, the community provides a platform for such persons of universal good will who would not mind sharing their knowledge and experience with them.

And that is how it came about that yours truly recently had an opportunity of interacting with some of the finest minds in Finland. While more than 500 luckier souls comprising the community continued to play the roles assigned to them in life elsewhere, a motley group of 5 singularly unlucky ones had to undergo the trauma of listening to some boring stuff dished out by yours truly. Their risk taking appetite surely deserves kudos.

While Lorena provided administrative support, Ludwig (Mylly´s CEO), Alexey (A professional who has mastered some of the intricacies between Russia and Finland, even in terms of logistics), Roman (IMiF´s Chairman and founder of TPOINT), Olavi (Young at heart, though an officially retired university professor), MARCO (co-initiator of IMiF) and Tim (An international business person), assembled at Mylly, a cultural centre at Kotka, to hear what yours truly from far off India had to convey.

Title of the talk

Surviving in the Corporate Jungle.

Key Takeaways

Analysis Paralysis

The role of intuition in decision-making can never be underestimated.

Meeting bosses half-way through

It is crucial to help one’s boss to keep his blood pressure under control.

Female Power

It pays to have gender parity at the work place.

His Master’s Voice

Avoiding being a Yes-man pays. Senior managers have the responsibility of registering dissent.

Overstaying One’s Welcome

Does the flight of your career appear to have rough weather ahead? Press the EJECT button in the cockpit.

Managing Stress

Build inner resilience. Meditate regularly. Do not allow garbage to get collected in the mind. Carry out a cleaning exercise every single day.

Quotients

Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient are fine. What we also need to develop and use in business is our Spiritual Quotient.

Work Life Harmony

Avoid becoming a slave to technology.

Of Production, People and Ethics

Various leadership styles emerge. Charmless Charlies. Missionary Zealots. Road Rollers. Armchair Revolutionaries. Crazy Conformists. Sponge Comforters. Incumbent Chiefs. Super Chiefs.

Details can be accessed here.

A comment from one of the five wise men

Why is SQ (Spiritual Quotient) so very important in decision-making?

Being spiritual means one takes decisions which create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Ethics and Values also come into play. In the long run, brand equity grows. So does shareholder wealth.

An example from the Tata-Benz collaboration during World War II was cited. Details can be found here.

(Others skipped discussing any other ideas, so relieved they were that the ordeal of listening to yours truly was finally over!)

The global nature of management thoughts

Managerial thoughts transcend national boundaries. Possibly because the principles of setting up and running an enterprise happen to be universal in nature. The core of the psychology of a manager also does not vary from country to country.

It is great to be able to share some experiential insights with, and also learn from, senior professionals who operate in another business environment and in a distinctly different work culture.

 

(Notes:

IMiF can be found:

In the public presence https://www.facebook.com/internationalmindsinfinland

In the private presence

https://www.facebook.com/groups/INTERNATIONALMINDSinFINLAND

Presentation based on my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently.

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

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Why is Wodehouse so very famous in India? In particular, why do Indians love Jeeves?!

Here is an interesting event coming up on the subject.

Plumtopia

What Ho!

Another treat for Wodehouse lovers is taking place at the British Library, this time as part of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival. A panel, involving MP and Author Shashi Tharoor, MP and journalist Swapan Dasgupta, business writer Mihir S. Sharma, and Wodehouse expert Tony Ring will be discussing:

The Wodehouse Effect : Why India Loves Jeeves: – JLF at The British Library

It’s an intriguing subject, and one that provokes a good deal of discussion amongst the chaps and chapettes in our little Wodehouse community. (Yes, chapettes! Don’t let the all-male panel or misguided notions about Wodehouse appealing mainly to men mislead you — he has a large and enthusiastic following among Indian women).

Many people have tried to explain the reasons for Wodehouse’s popularity in India, including Shashi Tharoor in a 2012 article How the Woosters Captured Delhi. In particular, he highlights Wodehouse’s wonderful use…

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Celebrating the first anniversary of having launched a book in Portuguese in March 2016.

English version to follow soon….!

ashokbhatia

Surviving in the Corporate Jungle

BookFrontCover

This is a short introduction to a book by yours truly, the Portugese version of which is getting launched in Portugal shortly. The launch event  in Porto is planned on the 2nd of March, along with a talk on “Work Life Harmony” at the  Catolica Porto Business School  of  Universidade Catolica do Porto. The launch event in Lisbon is planned at Universidade Europeia on the 3rd of March, 2016, as part of an event titled ‘Passport to India.’

How this book happened

Forty years back, the School of Business at a prestigious university in India made a big mistake. They awarded me a degree in Business Management. They were so very happy to see me off the campus that they even awarded a silver medal to me.

I owe this book to my professors – some of whom taught so well that I learnt a…

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ashokbhatia

The conscientious ones amongst the mandarins in the Indian Health Ministry cannot really be blamed for having sleepless nights. The epidemic of such lifestyle diseases as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular abnormalities is leaving them a wee bit clueless. The need of the hour is to come up with a scheme which nudges Indians of all sizes and shapes to start living slimmer and healthier lives.

Take obesity, for instance. As many as 60 million Indians – roughly 5% of the population – are considered obese. With more than 50 millionObesity image suffering from high blood sugar, India is a nation headed for a health tsunami the devastation caused by which would be anything but sweet. This is a grave threat to our vision of the country reaping a hefty demographic dividend in the years to come.

How do we motivate the Indian couch potatoes to switch off their TV sets…

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