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Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

Pondicherry has a unique charm for people of different hues, sizes, shapes, ethnicity and faiths. Some drive down with the singular purpose of unwinding and experiencing a spirit-ed upliftment of sorts. But many others pop up over a weekend, merely to soak in its spiritual ambience. Some hang around a wee bit longer, so as to be able to experience its spiritual vibrations. Many others keep coming back and even decide to settle in the city or its surroundings.

Spirituality and religion form an integral part of the allure of Pondicherry. Other than many spiritual hotspots and historic temples which it can justifiably boast of, the place is a spring-board of sorts for many places which would please a spiritual seeker as well as a religious devotee.

Of Spiritual Enlightenment

Besides meditating at either the Shri Aurobindo Ashram or the Matri Mandir, one can experience a heady spiritual upliftment merely by sitting quietly at a secluded place on the beach; being in communion with Mother Nature, aptly represented by the greenish blue waters of the Bay of Bengal.

Seeing the relentless rolling in of waves, deeply inhaling the salty air, pouring out one’s heart to the endless sea, watching the sun or the moon rise, following the movements of seagulls flying by – all these help one to attain a state of inner calm. Batteries get charged up. One can get back to one’s materialistic pursuits with a renewed vigour.

A dynamic awakening

But spiritual awakening comes about not only by adopting a static practice like meditation. It also has a dynamic dimension, which manifests itself through the mundane experiences of life.

Consider the unique experience of driving on the Pondicherry roads. It teaches one the virtues of Humility and Courage. When a millennial on his racing bike overtakes one from the left, one’s Receptivity improves. Bovines squatting on the roads quietly assert their democratic rights over whatever little road space is on offer, thereby teaching one the value of Equality. When a bus driver who believes he is driving an auto rickshaw instead suddenly honks from the side, a sense of Generosity coupled with the fear of life and limb helps one to offer him a right of way. The auto driver who delves unduly deep into the pockets of a lay visitor to Pondicherry also imparts a valuable instruction in Generosity.

Finding a parking space on the main thoroughfares needs loads of Perseverance. Upon a hapless pedestrian avoiding being run over by a speeding car, a sense of Gratitude towards the Divine descends. Sincerity of purpose is required while crossing a narrow road where two wheelers use a two-way as a four-way lane. When a traffic cop endowed with a stiff-upper-lip takes a lenient view of one’s inadvertent adventures on the road, vibrations of Goodness can be felt. When one has battled through the streets and reached one’s abode safely, a sense of Peace prevails.

Overall, one makes Spiritual Progress. One’s level of Aspiration goes up a notch higher. One learns the true meaning of Surrender to the Divine.

Even if one misses meditating at the twelve petals of Matri Mandir, each representing the qualities mentioned above, there is no cause for worry. Driving on local roads can also be an enlightening experience.

For Religious Succour

Ardent devotees of Lord Shiva treat Pondicherry as a part of the southern ‘Pancha-bhoota’ circuit, comprising Kalahasti (Air), Kancheepuram (Earth), Tiruvannamalai (Fire), Chidambaram (Ether/Space) and Trichy (Water). As an architectural marvel, the Big Temple at Thanjavur is not too far off. Overnight trains can transport one to Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari in a jiffy.

 

Those who revere Lord Vishnu just need to head to the famous Ranganathaswamy temple at Trichy and experience its strong vibrations. Kumbakonam offers a heady concoction of many deities who are eager to bestow their grace on any of their believers who choose to get benefited. Some who wish to specifically appease Lord Shani head to the famous temple at Karaikal.

The dargah at Nagore offers solace to those seeking upliftment of a Sufi kind. The church at Velankanni is not too far off.

Irrespective of the faith one professes, Pondicherry and its vicinity offer a wide spectrum of uplifting options.

With the Union Government recently pitching in for burnishing this facet of Pondicherry in the years ahead, blissful days are surely ahead.

Brand Pondicherry

Brand Pondicherry has many attributes. A cosmopolitan culture. Metro-like facilities in a small-town framework. Warm people. Excellent education. Great medical support. A thriving hospitality and services sector. Yoga. Ease of meeting public officials. And like the proverbial icing on the cake, spiritual enlightenment and religious succour.

Take your pick and experience the myriad colours of the rainbow called Pondicherry!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/pondicherry-a-certain-sense-of-gallic-glory-gone-by

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/pondicherry-the-little-indie-french-town

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/the-element-of-wisdom-in-management-a-seminar-at-pondicherry

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/the-travails-of-a-non-resident-pondicherryite

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/movies-with-a-puducherry-connection)

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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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When it comes to achieving the heights of Corporate Excellence, the element of Wisdom plays a crucial role. Look at any organization which enjoys a strong brand equity and one is apt to discover the wiser ways in which it conducts its operations. Its initiatives lead to a sustainable growth of the business, giving back to society in ways which are imaginative as well as pragmatic. The common thread running through all such initiatives is that of the element of Wisdom, one of the four pillars of Integral Management, the three other pillars being Perfection, Harmony and Strength/Power.

Sri Aurobindo Center for Advanced Research (SACAR) recently organized a one day seminar on the topic of ‘The Element of Wisdom in Management’. The event was a part of a series of seminars organized by SACAR over the past two years as a part of its endeavour to explore the relevance of some key spiritual tenets to the realm of management.

Wisdom in Organizations

A talk by yours truly covered the diverse ways in which Wisdom manifests itself in strategic as well as in tactical decision-making by organizations. It quoted real life examples of business houses using Wisdom in such managerial functions as Marketing, Finance, HR, and the like. Business houses like Tatas, Nestle India, HCL, Infosys and Wipro were covered.

Wisdom in managing People and Production

Mr. K. Nagaraja Kumar, Head-Marketing, L&T Corporate Technical, Chennai, explained the elements of Wisdom which can come in handy to managers responsible for handling people and production. With the help of light-hearted illustrations, he conveyed some profound messages to the participants. He presented a case study wherein a detailed road map was used to turn around the fortunes of an ailing manufacturing unit by engaging meaningfully with relevant stakeholders.

Balancing Intelligence and Intuition

Dr. Narendra Joshi, Principal, Agnel Technical College, Mumbai, highlighted the necessity of balancing intelligence and intuition in the realm of Product Life Cycle Management. He cited the examples of companies like Sony, Xerox, Matsushita and Nestle which introduced innovative products which were much ahead of their times. Analytical tools like Teboul’s model, Kano’s model and the Fritz approach were quoted by him. So was the necessity for a quiet mind for reaping the benefits of one’s intuitive powers.

The Age of the Spiritual Manager

Dr Ananda Reddy, Director, SACAR, spoke of the fact that Wisdom is far above and beyond the realm of the thinking mind. It is about understanding and effectively using the underlying algorithms which open up the vast vistas of miraculous knowledge and infinite possibilities for managements to decide long-term business strategies and frame policies which ensure profitable as well as sustainable operations. He shared his perception that the age of the Spiritual Manager is already upon us and management professionals would do well to equip themselves with spiritual tools to succeed in their career and life objectives.

The Wisdom of Human Values

Prof G P Rao, a doyen in the field of management education, spoke of SPANDAN, a NGO founded by him, which espouses the Wisdom of running business enterprises based on human values and ethics.

Empirical evidence of Integral Management

Prof Kisholoy Gupta, Acharya Institute of Business Management, Bangalore, presented the empirical results of an insightful study done by him to gauge the perception and reality of the Four Pillars of Integral Management – Perfection, Harmony, Strength and Wisdom – by practicing HR seniors in the Indian industry. The results showed that there is already some awareness of the constituents of Integral Management, though the nomenclature arouses a curiosity and a desire amongst management practitioners to understand and adopt this new paradigm in their day-to-day working.

Wisdom at the personal level

What does Wisdom mean to a practicing manager? Mr Ganesh Babu, Founder & CEO, Winning Minds Solutions, Puducherry, came up with a heart-warming presentation on the dimensions and utility of Wisdom in the mundane life of a working manager. The talk explored different dimensions of Wisdom in all spheres of one’s life – professional, social as well as personal.

Leaders with equanimity

Dr. Debabrata Sahani, Surgeon, Optholmologist, Bhuvaneshwar, touched upon the importance of an inner connection for business leaders. Wise are those who enjoy a tranquility and calmness within themselves. Their decision-making is based on balanced, well-considered and holistic view of the facts of the case. They do not manage crises in business with knee-jerk reactions. They deal with people according to their nature and with occurrences in the business environment according to their force and the truth or hard reality they represent. Impartial they are. Detached they are. Compassionate they happen to be, but never at the cost of their innate wisdom and truth.

Wisdom for an Indian citizenMr Hariharan Subramaniam, Director, Indian Institute of Governance, Chennai, touched upon the Wisdom of not only connecting to one’s inner self, but also the need for an Indian to contribute towards restoration of the old glory of her country. India has a special role to play in the comity of nations and the need of the hour is to train value-based politicians and administrators who would steer the country in the decades to come. He spoke of the vision of kick-starting his dream project, the Indian Institute of Governance, which would serve this purpose. His opinion was that one’s wisdom was directly proportional to one’s inner growth.

The seminar was well attended by practicing managers, management academicians and research scholars. Its conduct marked another milestone in SACAR’s efforts to propagate the concept of Integral Management, the Four Pillars of which happen to be Perfection, Harmony, Power and Wisdom.

The Age of the Spiritual Manager is already upon us. The time has come for management professionals to consider and adopt Integral Management – an Indian paradigm to understand and refine our managerial processes.

(Related Posts:

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

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/managerial-perfection-notes-from-a-seminar-at-pondicherry-india

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/harmony-in-management-a-seminar-at-pondicherry-india

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/power-in-management-a-seminar-at-puducherry-india)

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The prattle of tender feet around one keeps one very much alive and contented. Especially so when one happens to be in a phase of life where one can have the luxury of observing their behaviour at close quarters without having to worry about their mundane needs. Other then providing unalloyed joy and sparkling mirth, it also provides one an opportunity to grow spiritually.

When a Bollywood diva casts a spell

Take the case of a one-year old toddler who takes Master Thos to be his role model. If Thos was infatuated with a Hollywood diva, he happens to be besotted with one of the Bollywood divas. Play this particular song on the TV, and he goes into a trance which even the most advanced practitioners of Zen might not have experienced. Meals get forgotten. Toys cease to be of any consequence. Those around him might not even exist.

Sonam Kapoor, the diva in question, may be delighted to know of the brand equity she carries in the mind space of this young one. There is a good chance that he might even earn the distinction of being the youngest ever fan of a Bollywood diva.

One can only hope and pray that, as he grows, he never gets to emulate the goofy schemes of Thos the Terrible. In fact, thanks to the benign influence of the diva, perhaps there is a chance that he would end up performing such noble deeds as walking a few miles to fetch a newspaper for a guest or carrying any other injured young one on his tender shoulders, so as to win over the affections of his heart-throb.

The sincerity with which he expresses his fondness for the song featuring Sonam Kapoor is something which deserves to be emulated. It teaches us the innate goodness in all things musical, artistic and beautiful.

By being under the spell of a silver screen diva, he is merely following a long-held tradition of his ancestors. Soon, though, moving doors, books or other items may take his fancy.

He also demands equality in treatment vis-a-vis other kids in the immediate vicinity. If that does not come by, he knows how to shriek and attract the attention of his seniors, so justice gets meted out. This is invariably the scenario when some ice cream is getting distributed.

There are also times when he reminds one of Algernon Aubrey Little. When the father’s boss came visiting some time back, he was a model of ideal behaviour. No tantrums. No yells. Only some cute smiles. Peace prevailed. A promotion on the job soon followed.

Norway Schhol Art 1

A respect for technical gizmos

The other young boy, all of four years old, reminds one of Edwin the scout. It is not that his daily acts of mercy include dousing fires with and setting cottages on fire. But he does try to reverse-engineer and repair an egg-boiler, with catastrophic results.

Anything that moves attracts his attention. Curious to the core, he would tend to dismantle the gadget and then look on helplessly when attempting to put it together again. Door locks get fondled with much love. Remote controlled toy cars or toy boats are never safe in his vicinity. A family senior testing blood sugar or injecting insulin is an object to be closely observed and supported.

As he has grown, cell phones and iPads have gained his respect as reliable sources of perennial entertainment. Thus, these are no longer subjected to the kind of rigorous quality tests he used to conduct in his formative years. In his younger days, he has dunked many a cell phone in a mug of piping hot tea, marvelling at their steadfastness when compared to, say, biscuits.

One is yet to notice if, like Edwin, he is an expert on ant behaviour. But dogs, pigs, cows and horses do come in for stark appraisals under his watchful eye.

Locking up people inside dark rooms comes naturally to him. So does sneaking up from behind and suddenly yelling in one’s ear, thereby leaving one all of a twitter. Often, sudden bouts of some karate moves make one run for cover, lest one may need to review one’s medical insurance cover. Tying up one’s shoe laces surreptitiously makes him burst into uncontrollable laughter, much to the chagrin of the party of the other part.

Dealing with him is very instructive. His knowledge of all things mechanical and electronic makes one humble. One simply aspires to be a quick learner like him, so as to be able to quickly absorb the latest that technology has to offer and make progress in life, as defined by contemporary standards.

Norway School Art 2

A goofy mind, a tender heart

Consider also the case of a young girl of 6 odd years whose flair for drawing, painting and singing is often a talking point. But beneath the veneer of sophistication and innocence lies a mind which could churn out goofy schemes at the drop of a hat. The likes of Roberta Wickham and Stiffy Byng could learn quite a few tricks of the trade from her.

Much like Peggy Mainwaring, she is used to staring and giggling at odd times, leaving the party of the other part shaken to the core. A relentless chatter emanating from her often leaves one yearning for some peace and quietitude. A continuous barrage of queries fired at one leaves one exasperated at times. The value of courage and perseverance is thus learnt the hard way.

Compassion comes naturally to her. She loves being surrounded by pets she can shower her motherly affection on. When a bitter feud with a younger sibling results into the latter getting hurt, she gets immediately transformed into a caring and loving nurse. But Homo Sapiens often get bluntly ticked off by her for the slightest of perceived infractions on their part.

When germs of acute goofiness strike, the sky is the limit. A younger sibling’s trousers are found wet in the middle of the night. Wisdom dawns when one notices the empty bottle of drinking water by the side of the bed. Guilt-less pleasure is felt when the younger sibling gets a reprimand for an act of omission committed by her own self.

Post-ablutions, she turns out to be a great bathroom singer, requesting the support of a senior to clean up. ‘Potty is over’ is belted out, in tune with a nursery rhyme like ‘Twinkle twinkle little star….’.

Her receptivity is not to be taken lightly. When it is playing time at a friend’s place, she realizes the rest, solitude and enjoyment the hapless mother would experience while she is away. The hapless mother’s rights to such well-deserved rest and recuperation come in for open and frank criticism.

Norway School Art 3

Competing with the Bermuda Triangle

Yet another case which merits consideration is that of a young lass of 7 years who is built along the lines of Kid Clementina. She is a not-so-quiet saint-like child, when in a good mood. When taken out for a movie and a dinner, she is full of gratitude. She gazes at her benefactor in silent admiration. But while at home, a stubbornness tests the patience of the seniors around.

Great deal of perseverance is required so she may partake of any single meal which may last well over 90 minutes. Each morsel is punctuated by a commercial break, so to say. Unless, of course, the meal comprises a pizza alone, followed by the temptation of either an ice cream or a chocolate.

The threat of changing the WiFi password alone works wonders and makes her obey various commands at home. Fond of playing such brainy games as chess, she is quick to perceive that an attempt is being made to make her falsely win the game of patience and strategy. She resents such acts of chivalry. Her artistic skills are remarkable. So is her passion for karate.

There being no ink pots around these days, one is sure that she is unable to put any sherbet in the same in her classroom. But messing up the password of the iPad of a schoolmate comes readily to her. Rapid progress gets made by her in the realm of mastering all kinds of technical gizmos.

She believes in keeping one on one’s toes. While going out of the house in a hurry, one suddenly finds one’s footwear missing. Or, a ping-pong ball resting inside one of the shoes. A toothbrush can suddenly vanish, leaving one gnashing one’s teeth in disbelief and dismay. A toothpaste tube could get replaced by a cold cream tube. Unless one is alert and agile, the experience leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth, literally as well as figuratively. One’s shaving kit could go into hiding for two weeks, leaving one feeling like a distressed soul pining for one’s beloved, beard and all. One’s favourite comb could get hidden, leaving one shuddering at the prospect of making an appearance in public. Overall, the house appears to provide stiff competition to the Bermuda Triangle.

Norway School Art 4

A Core of Innocence

Put any two of the kids together and the results could be disastrous. Put all four of them together and the foundations of civilization start quivering.

The combined goofiness of a group of kids is directly proportional to the square of the number of kids together.

Unlike what the Theory of Relativity postulates about there being an upper limit for the speed of light, one does not believe there could be an upper limit for kids’ goofiness. With three kids of his own, Einstein himself might have been in agreement with this proposition.

Their interpersonal interactions are more like sinusoidal curves, putting the Dow Jones Index and the Sensex to shame. Loving embraces are quickly followed by bitter arguments, accompanied by loud background music and tantrums of all kind.

Their minds are highly creative. Their imagination is vivid and fertile. More often than not, they are a reflection of what one is and how one behaves in their presence. In a way, they hold a clear mirror to us, especially when it comes to ethics, values and social leanings.

It is true that kids are simply adorable. Perhaps because their external sheath of goofiness is built around a core of touching innocence – a virtue which one loses as one advances in age. They radiate the purity of their chaste souls, yet to be corrupted by social prejudices and materialistic considerations. A sheltered upbringing obviously helps.

Towards spiritual progress

mothersymbolmeaningThe Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram has spoken of twelve attributes which help a spiritual aspirant to make progress. Sincerity. Humility. Gratitude. Perseverance. Aspiration. Receptivity. Progress. Courage. Goodness. Generosity. Equality. Peace.

Being with kids surely paves the way for rapid spiritual progress, besides keeping one amused and entertained at all times.

The challenge of minimizing Screen Time

While families have shrunk, technology has entered the family space. For hapless parents, there are two challenges. One, that of minimizing Screen Time, weaning away kids from gadgets and involving them in outdoor activities. Two, that of imparting them the values which would last them a life time. Perhaps it is time to consciously revert back to the joint family system. More about this in another blog post.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/some-plumsville-kids-and-the-richter-scale-of-roguishness-part-1-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/when-masters-thos-bonzo-and-moon-rise-in-love

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/bringing-up-kids)

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grandfather

Oh, what a change I have witnessed in these seventy-one years,

Wars, acts of terror and news of genocides has reached my ears.

 

Sure enough, I miss fountain pens, LP records and telegrams,

Not to forget a cell-and-internet-free peaceful life, noisy cars and trams.

 

I have witnessed a man landing on the moon, a space mission to Mars,

Our country gaining independence, gaining control of the land we call ours.

 

I have contributed to building the nation in my own little way,

Drawing power channels which feed water to the fields with grains and hay.

 

I have seen shrinking TV sets and shorter global hauls,

Several generations passing by, sprouting glitzy malls and highway tolls.

 

Time sits lightly on my mind, has certainly made me smart and wise,

You can still lean on my strong shoulders, despite challenges that arise.

 

I continue to be young at heart, in me some inspiration you can find,

As always, my advice is practical, objective, frank and kind.

 

All of you are born in our humble and common family,

So you need not take this as an old man’s homily.

 

As you grow, the world will try and define boundaries on you,

Soar above these you must, sticking to your own convictions and view.

 

Boys, treat all the women you come across with the respect they deserve,

Once home, let go of your trousers and wear skirts once in a while and serve.

 

Girls, don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement, make your own track,

Use your own wisdom, balance your duties, break the glass ceilings that hold you back.

 

You are the only one who will face the consequences of your actions,

Be bold, be wise, follow the path of righteousness, never become part of sinister factions.

 

The family has evolved from religion to spirituality, given you rich values to live by,

Carry forward this legacy, let your material and spiritual growth touch the sky.

 

A day may come when you may get to live on a comet or on the Mars or the Moon,

Values and Dharma shall always support you, come a dark night or a blistering noon.

(Image courtesy http://www.freeimages.com)

 

 

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Psmith put the newspaper away. A sigh escaped him.

“Nothing makes sense”, he muttered.

For the space of about twenty-five seconds, Mike, sitting across a small table on a sunlit balcony ingateway-of-india Mumbai, India, sat in silence.

“What is wrong with you?”, asked Mike, with a concerned look on his face.

Some time back, Psmith and Mike had been posted to the Mumbai branch of the New Asiatic Bank. It had taken them some time to get used to the hustle bustle of the noisy metropolis, often reeking of stale fish.

They had a centrally air-conditioned apartment all to themselves at Worli in one of the high-rise buildings overlooking the Arabian Sea. Being a Sunday, both were in a relaxed state of mind.

“How could people be so very excited about being taxed differently?”

“Who is excited? What are you referring to?”

“You would know that India is soon set to hop on to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bandwagon. What the poor guys do not realize is that life is not going to be a bed of roses, as it is being made out to be.”

Mike continued to concentrate on the designer tea-pot in front of him, a complete picture of the model gown-wearing bank officer on his weekly off day.

“It is good to notice the concern you display for the citizenry which managed to slip out of British control some seventy years back. Perhaps, you are upset that it took them so long to realize that their entire country needed to be a unified market?”

“No. What I object to is the fundamental flaw in the GST. It is un-Indian. It is just too simple.”

Mike looked up in surprise. “What do you mean?”

“Comrade Jackson, no Indian tax system could be that simple. A universal tax percentage applied to everything so you know how to calculate it is just not right. It is handing over the power of understanding a tax to the people. Does this not take away the basic right of Indian taxation: confusion, opacity and obfuscation?’”

“But, surely, that should be good news?”

“Not for the few bespectacled gentlemen who try to figure things out, buried under the weight of those heavy tax books in some library of a government department. They would be rendered simply rudderless. They would resent this sudden deprivation of their tremendous power – of being the select few who could interpret and explain away the laws, the bye-laws, the rules, the notifications, the rulings by various tribunals and councils from time to time, and what not. I sense a revolt of sorts brewing up soon enough.”

“Oh, you mean to say that the bureaucrats would not be too pleased with the new taxation system?”

“Elementary, my dear Jackson. They would surely not relish the prospect of losing their power over the people. Also, the only way they can earn the extra money required to keep their families grinning from ear to ear.”

“Hmm…you do have a point there.”

“Not only this. Should a simple taxation law come into play, imagine the number of taxation experts India Parliament Housewho would be rendered jobless. Their care-worn clients would no longer be spending hours in their plush offices, trying to figure out the nuances of filing quarterly returns. They would instead be sitting in a fine dine restaurant, treating their lissome secretaries to a sumptuous dinner, while having told the spouse of a pressing need to attend a crucial meeting at the office.”

“But you would agree that the GST idea is indeed noble, simple, global and logical.”

“Which is why I suspect there is so much resistance to it. The government has been trying to sit people down and explain to them why the current system of taxation is the work of some mad people who happen to grace the opposition chairs now. Of late, it even decided to reach out to the latter and ensure that they were no longer sulking at the party presently in power walking off with all the credit for having brought in this landmark change. And note that the party in power now had itself obstructed the same change when it happened to be in the opposition.”

“But what do you think is so very exciting about the present system? I think it is known as Value Added Tax. They have several other taxes as well.”

“Well, for one, that should be known instead as Value Reduced Tax, simply because you have less value once you have paid it. Then they have excise, individual state taxes, octroi tax, entry tax, professional tax, luxury tax, entertainment tax, sleeping peacefully at night tax, Bengali sweets tax, South Indian dosa and idli tax, North Indian chhole bhatoore tax, West Indian poha and shri khand tax, did-not-tell-your-wife-and-came-to-Pondicherry tax, Clean India tax, farmers’ mental happiness tax, road accident tax, child-not-doing-too-well-at-school tax, mother-in-law irritant tax, enduring the politicians tax, having-to-watch-inane-movies tax, waiting for delivery of public services tax, and many more in the same genre.”

“Ah, life could be surely simpler!”

“But the good point here is that the common citizen can never afford to be lazy or complacent. The Indian tax system has always been designed to keep the common citizen on his toes. Agile. Confused. Uncertain. Feeling illiterate. There has always been an element of surprise. He opens a letter and finds that he has a tax due. And he starts asking himself, ‘What tax is this? I was not aware a tax like this existed. Do I need to pay it? Is there no way to avoid paying it?’ And off he goes to seek some solace from his tax consultant who is happy to demystify the affair and get another excuse to raise a bill on the hapless wannabe tax-evader.”

“You appear to be quite impressed with the Indian taxation system!”

“Yes, Comrade! They have an excellent system which matches their age-old spiritual values. Anythingemblem_of_india-svg that makes you feel small, negligible and illiterate is bound to flatten your ego in no time. You could even be a director of our bank. But when you get a tax notice which you do not understand, you feel all of a twitter. You take a more benevolent view of humanity in general. Even your driver and your lift operator seem like angels in distress, facing similar challenges in life. You realize that there is no escaping the taxation system. It is as immortal as a soul is said to be.”

“But what makes you think the GST is likely to be simpler, when it comes to the fine print? I was told that it would need even the humble barber to file as many as forty odd returns to the government every quarter?”

Psmith slid out of his chair with a disgruntled sigh, and dusted his dressing gown. “Perhaps there is something in what you say. I propose that we call the new system as the Great Spiritual Tax instead. It would make all businesses across all the states and territories of India equally worried. They might even turn to spirituality and seek divine intervention to set their house in order. It would not be wrong to surmise that a commercial crisis has indeed arisen. A period of great anxiety has begun, especially so for small businesses.”

Mike looked up with some surprise.

“Let me explain,” said Psmith, raising his hands. “Once the new system takes over, all businesses would be required to register. Whether for manufacturers, distributors or retailers, it would be virtually impossible to escape the tax net. The luxury of doing business based on fake bills would no longer be theirs. In fact, past transactions could also come in for greater scrutiny. Besides, the Income Tax sleuths would be easily able to figure out the real income levels of businessmen of all hues, sizes and shapes. The entire business eco-system would totter.”

“Are you trying to say that the size of the Indian parallel economy would shrink?”

“Quite possible, Comrade Jackson. Your keen intelligence reaffirms my faith in your unique abilities. However, I doubt if this could be good news for the country.”

“How do you say this?”

“If you would delve deep into your memory cells, you would recall the 2008 financial crisis which engulfed the world. Do you think the Indian economy suffered as much as our so-called advanced economies then?”

“I do not think so. The Indian economy showed greater resilience then.”

“If so, allow me to point out that one of the major factors discovered and held to have helped India then was the existence of an underground economy.”

“Indeed?!”

“I do believe so, though I confess I am not an expert at such matters. Take the informal economy awayRashtrapati Bahavan and what do you get? A rigid and formal economy which has a much higher dependence on formal debt markets. The risk of overstating debts grows manifold. Next time round, when another Lehman Brothers show up on the horizon, the Indian economy could be found in deeper waters. Having a thriving parallel economy helps.”

“You surely surprise me. You sound like an ardent advocate of the parallel economy!”

“On the contrary, I do not. My point is very simple. Why should we allow only our businesses to suffer when the political parties themselves continue to enjoy the fruits of an underground nature? Why not clean up the Indian political act as well and provide a level playing field to all her citizens? Why should the Indian politicos be spared of a taste of their own medicine that they prescribe for the toiling masses?”

“Whatever, the Indian GST is now already on a roll. The bill has received the assent of the President of India. The only hope you can entertain is that of the implementation getting goofed up and the process getting delayed somehow. My understanding is that if the steps of setting up a GST Council, an agreement on a basic tax rate and the detailed procedures take longer than a year, the implementation deadline might as well get shifted to April 2018. If that happens, the government itself may keep it on the back burner for some time.”

“Oh, you allude to the risk of embracing unpredictable consequences of adopting a new taxation system in the run-up to the 2019 parliamentary elections!”

“Yes. In fact, yet another challenge before them might be that of the absence of internet connectivity all over the country. Even if the GST Network gets perfected, how would they ensure that a dealer in, say, Sikkim, can secure a registration in Kerala? It is good to hear of a seamless market, but a smooth roll-out would need a strong internet backbone all across.”

“Well, sure enough, their best men would be working out the finer details and smoothening the road to implementation. The stakes are high indeed. The reputation of the present government rides on how it handles a challenge of this nature. But what you are missing on, Comrade Jackson, is the key factor of human ingenuity. When it comes to paying any taxes, it knows no bounds.”

“But I am not quite sure if there could be an easy escape route for any business, as you yourself had rightly pointed out just now.”

“But we underestimate the propensity of human beings to go to any lengths to avoid paying any taxes. Innovation is the name of the game in this case. Sure enough, the Indian tax experts would now bemap-of-india burning the proverbial mid-night oil, getting ready to advise their anxious clients about some new creative practices they could adopt under the new tax regime. Given the level of primal hate harboured by all businesses towards the act of paying any kind of taxes, advisors in the business of tax avoidance would be twiddling their thumbs, endeavouring to figure out ingenious methods of beating the new system at its own game.”

Mike smiled.

“As always, you have hit the nail on its head. But this is a universal fact which governments all over the world have to cope with. Is there any other thing you are not too comfortable about?”

“Yes, though I do not know how your intuitive faculties are so very advanced as to guess this. I do not quite see eye to eye on the strategy of dumping more and more indirect taxes on the hapless citizenry, while not working aggressively to expand the direct taxes base.”

“I really do admire your depth of thinking on the subject. Do you refer to recent reports that merely one percent of the people pay income tax in India?”

“Indeed. What an irony!”

“Perhaps, you imply that politicians of all hues lack the courage to take some unpopular steps. Rather than chasing more people to pay income tax, they prefer to use the indirect taxes route which is relatively invisible?”

“Yes. Perhaps they follow the advice of their sage Chanakya who famously said that taxes should be collected by inflicting the least possible pain on the citizens, much like a bee would collect nectar from a flower in bloom!”

“And what do you think our own bank would have to undergo?,” Mike asked.

“Serious matter. Under the new dispensation, we shall need to register in all the states and unionpsmith-1909 territories. Perhaps, even in districts, where we have branches. This is going to be a compliance nightmare. I hear some talk of all the banks lobbying for a facility to register with a centralized agency which would pool, reconcile, analyze and audit our transactions. If so, this agency could distribute the revenue earned through us to different states where the transaction has occurred.”

Mike rose from his chair and stretched his arms. His gaze drifted off to a couple of fishing boats bouncing up and down on the bluish-green waters of the Arabian Sea.

“These are deep waters, indeed. I wonder why we are discussing such matters on a lazy Sunday morning? I rather think I’ll nip down to Haji Ali and take some fresh air into my lungs,” said he. “You couldn’t come too, I suppose?”

“On the contrary,’ said Psmith, ‘I could, and will. A stroll will just restore those tissues which the gruelling discussion of the last half-hour has wasted away. It is a fearful strain, this taxation toil. Let us trickle towards the place mentioned by you. Comrade Jackson, lead me to this picturesque dargah of yours of which I have heard so much.”

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The Indian view of the discipline of management speaks of four pillars of Integral Management – Wisdom, Power, Harmony and Perfection. Of these, Power is a potent tool which, when harnessed judiciously, enables organizations and individual managers to scale greater heights.

Organizations wield tremendous power. They do so not only by virtue of their financial prowess but also by way of their brand equity, their size, their reach in the market and the kind of innovative products or services they offer. They exercise influence on the society – first, by identifying its latent desires, and then by serving the same.

Individuals who are part of organizations also wield tremendous power over its resources and its people. Arrogance and exploitation could easily follow.

However, if Power is understood as “strength and force, Shakti, which enables one to face all that can happen and to stand and overcome” difficulties connected with “men, events, circumstances, means”, then Power could be used for the overall good of humankind.

Thus, with power comes the attendant responsibility of using it wisely and equitably. Checks and balances need to be put in place to ensure that boundaries set by values and ethics do not get transcended. Keeping a strict control on arrogant behaviour is the sine qua non of long-term success in career.

Power needs to be used in a socially responsible manner. Using the power to share the gains of business with relevant stakeholders makes good sense. Deployment of power to benefit the society at large, that too in a manner which does not harm the environment, ensures that the business remains sustainable.

Managers also have a latent power – of their mind, their will, their ambition, their attitude, their passion and their soft skills. By channelizing the same appropriately, they could rise to greater heights and become more evolved persons, exercising greater influence on the events and people they are connected with.

At a one-day seminar on “The Element of Power in Management” organized by SACAR on the 6th of August, 2016, speakers from a wide spectrum of managerial expertise shared their views on the judicious and responsible use of power in day-to-day operations.

SACAR Power Aug 2016 B

Dr. Ananda Reddy, the Director of SACAR, elaborated upon the four components of Management ― Perfection, Harmony, Power and Wisdom. He said that one could be spiritual at all the four levels – physical, vital, mental and psychic by aspiring towards what are called perfection, harmony, power and wisdom. These, he proposed, present a new paradigm of Management. On the level of thought, Power comes into play. Higher level management has to deal with the power of thought, of planning, of setting up realistic targets. He highlighted the importance of using power in a responsible and judicious manner.

SACAR Power Aug 2016 A

Dr. V. J. Chandran, IPS, SSP, Government of Puducherry, spoke of the need to use the power at one’s command in a spiritual manner – for the overall good. He highlighted the need to punish people in proportion to their crimes or indiscretions. While dealing with tough situations which present moral dilemmas, the Principles of Natural Justice have to be always kept in mind. Assuming responsibility and accountability is important. Improving upon one’s quality of work, one’s ability and one’s personal expertise alone helps. He shared with the participants certain instances where abuse of power led to severe complications for the society at large.

SACAR Power Aug 2016 3Ms. Mamatha Gurudev, Managing Director, Vijay Spheroidials, Bangalore, spoke of the power of beliefs while recounting her journey as an entrepreneur. She held that believing in oneself was the single most important trait of an entrepreneur. It makes sense to cultivate a habit of looking within and of being in touch with one’s own inner self. Trust reposed in one by others also empowers oneself. The focus should always be on the process, not on the person. She exhorted the participants to change their attitude from ‘I can’t do it yet’ to that of ‘I can do it’.

SACAR Power Aug 2016 4Ms. Padma Asokan, Director, Omeon Solutions, Chennai, elaborated the art of leveraging the power of money. Money needs constant activity and circulation. It should be used to increase wealth and prosperity. Wealth belongs to the divine and those who hold it are mere ‘’Trustees” and not “Possessors”. Investment in people is as important as investment in business. To be successful, a business needs to make money without diluting its core values. She shared with the participants quite a few of her experiences in running her business.

SACAR Power Aug 2016 5

As part of an interactive session, conducted by yours truly, participants spoke of the various ways in which they had experienced, and occasionally countered, the abuse of power. Clips from the movie ‘Erin Brockovich’ were shared with the participants, showcasing the challenges inherent in trying to stand up to big corporates polluting the environment with little regard for the community in which they operate.

SACAR Power Aug 2016 6

Mr. P. Rangaraj, Chairman, Chemin Controls & Instrumentation, Puducherry, spoke of the power of innovation in business. He touched upon some unique success stories and highlighted the need to make frugal engineering a routine habit. He described the kind of disruptions that innovation normally causes and explained the elements of perfection, harmony and wisdom which are necessary to upscale and market a new product or service.  Identifying market needs and fulfilling the same with innovative products needs to be part of a company’s culture. This alone could lead to sustainable growth and a strong brand image.

SACAR Power Aug 2016 7

Mr. Jayprakash Thindiyote, Managing Director and CEO, PSL Management Software Technologies, Puducherry, touched upon the power of technology. He spoke of rapid advances in the field of robotics and the advent of Artificial Intelligence. He felt that the more the technology evolves, the higher would be the need for bringing in spirituality at the work place. Having respect for alternative views, effective communication, genuine compassion and a creative approach to problem solving alone could help a business grow in future. He exhorted managers to be like an I-POD, that is, have an Inner Peace but be Outwardly Dynamic.

Mr. Ganesh Babu, Founder and CEO, Winning Minds Solutions, Puducherry, and Dr. Arvind Gupta, Assistant Director, Directorate of Distance Education, Pondicherry University, coordinated the entire event. Their back up support was invaluable in the planning as well as the hosting of the entire event.

Dr. Shruti Bidwaikar, Assistant Director, SACAR, summed up the proceedings and offered a vote of thanks.sacar-power-seminar-hindu

The seminar received an overwhelming response from participants coming from various walks of life, like government officials, management educationists, corporate executives, businessmen, Aurovillians, entrepreneurs and students.

The Integral Management Group of SACAR had already covered the facet of Perfection and Harmony in the past. The next event, focusing on the facet of Wisdom, is planned to be hosted during March, 2017.

(Link to a write up which appeared in The Hindu of September 13, 2016:

Best Regards

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