Wednesday, February 29, 2012

വിനാശ കാലേ വിപരീത ബുദ്ധി !

മലയാളികള്‍ക്ക് സുപരിചിതമായ ഒരു പഴഞ്ചൊല്ലാണിത്. ഉടക്ക് ബുദ്ധി മൂലം നാശം സംഭവിക്കുമോ അതോ നാശ കാലത്ത്‌ ഉടക്ക് ബുദ്ധി ഉടലെടുക്കുമോ എന്നോ ഉറപ്പിച്ച് പറയാന്‍ സാധിക്കുകയില്ല. രണ്ടും ശരി തന്നെ എന്ന് അനുഭവങ്ങള്‍ കാണിക്കുന്നു.

ഇങ്ങനെ പറ്റിപ്പോയ സംഭവങ്ങള്‍ നാം നിത്യേന കാണുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍ കണ്ടത് കൊണ്ട് പഠിക്കണമെന്നില്ല.


നമ്മുടെ മലയാളം ടി വി ചാനെലുകള്‍ നിത്യേന പടച്ചു വിട്ടു കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന സീരിയലുകള്‍ അറിഞ്ഞോ അറിയാതെയോ പ്രേക്ഷകരെ മനസ്സിലാക്കിപ്പിക്കുവാന്‍ ശ്രമിക്കുന്ന ഒരു വാസ്തവം ഒരു പക്ഷെ ഈ പരമ സത്യം ആണെന്നത് ചില സീരിയലുകള്‍ കാണുമ്പോള്‍ തോന്നാറുണ്ട്.  എന്നാല്‍ എറിയുന്നത് മിച്ചം.  കൊള്ളുന്നത്‌ ഉന്നം വച്ചവര്‍ക്ക് ആയിരിക്കില്ല എന്നു മാത്രം !

കുറെ കൊല്ലങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് മുമ്പ്‌ സ്വകാര്യ മേഖലയില്‍ ബിസിനെസ്സ്‌ ചെയ്യുന്ന ഒരു കൂട്ടം എന്‍ജിനീയര്‍മാരെ പരിചയപ്പെടാന്‍ ഇടയായി.

പേര് കേട്ട ഒരു ബിസിനസ്‌ ഗ്രൂപ്‌ ഒരു പുതിയ സംരംഭം തുടങ്ങിയതായിരുന്നു. പരിസര മലിനീകരണം നിര്‍മാര്‍ജനം ചെയ്യാന്‍ ഉതകുന്ന പ്ലാന്‍റുകള്‍ രൂപ കല്പന ചെയ്ത് ആവശ്യക്കാര്‍ക്ക് നിര്‍മിച്ചു നല്‍കുക എന്നതായിരുന്നു ഈ പുതിയ സംരംഭം കൊണ്ട് ഉദ്ദേശിച്ചിരുന്നത്.

ബിസിനസ്‌ ഗ്രൂപ്പിന്‍റെ മേധാവി പറ്റിയ ഒരു എന്ജിനീയരെ മറ്റൊരു കമ്പനിയില്‍ നിന്നും ചാക്കിട്ടു പിടിച്ചു. നല്ല ശമ്പളവും വീടും കാറും ലാഭവീതവും ഒക്കെ വാഗ്ദാനം ചെയ്ത് പുതിയ കമ്പനിയുടെ എം ഡി ആയി നിയമിച്ചു. കമ്പനിയുടെ ആസ്ഥാനം ബാംഗ്ലൂര്‍ ആയി തീരുമാനിച്ചു.

പുതിയ എം ഡി അതി ബുദ്ധിമാന്‍. സങ്കേതിക കാര്യങ്ങളേക്കാള്‍ പണമുണ്ടാക്കുന്ന കാര്യങ്ങളുടെ കിടപ്പുകള്‍ കൃത്യമായി ഹരിച്ചു ഗുണിക്കാന്‍ ഇദ്ദേഹത്തിന് മിടുക്ക് കുറച്ചു കൂടുതല്‍ ആയിരുന്നു. എം ഡി ആയി വ്യവസായ പ്രമുഖന്‍ അദ്ദേഹത്തെ നിയമിക്കാനുള്ള കാരണവും ഈ മിടുക്ക് തന്നെ ആയിരുന്നു എന്നു വേണമെങ്കില്‍ പറയാം.

പുതിയ കമ്പനിയുടെ മറ്റു പ്രധാന പോസിഷനുകളില്‍ ഒരു പറ്റം വിദഗ്ദ്ധ എന്‍ജിനിയര്‍മാര്‍ നിയമിതരായി. എന്ത് കൊണ്ടും ഉദ്ദേശിച്ച കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ ഭംഗിയായി നടത്തുവാന്‍ കഴിവും പ്രാപ്തിയുമുള്ള മിടുക്കന്മാര്‍. ഓരോരുത്തരും കമ്പനിയുടെ ഓരോ പ്രവര്‍ത്തന മേഖല കൈകാര്യം ചെയ്യുന്ന രീതിയില്‍ കമ്പനി പ്രവര്‍ത്തനം ആരംഭിച്ചു.

ഈ എം ഡി യെയും അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്‍റെ സഹ പ്രവര്‍ത്തകരെയും ഈ സമയത്താണ് ഞാന്‍ പരിചയപ്പെടുന്നത്. കോടികള്‍ ചിലവുള്ള ഒരു മലിനീകരണ നിയന്ത്രണ പ്ലാന്‍റ് നിര്‍മ്മിച്ചു നല്‍കാനുള്ള കരാര്‍ ഞാന്‍ ജോലി നോക്കുന്ന കമ്പനി ഈ പുതിയ കമ്പനിയ്ക്ക് കൊടുക്കുകയും അതിന്‍റെ ചില മേല്‍നോട്ടം എനിക്ക് നിര്‍വഹിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യേണ്ടിയിരുന്നതില്‍ കൂടിയാണ് ഈ പരിചയം ഉടലെടുത്തത്.

ഈ പുതിയ കമ്പനിയുടെ പ്രവര്‍ത്തനങ്ങള്‍ കാര്യക്ഷമമാക്കാന്‍ ഉതകുന്ന പല കാര്യങ്ങളും ഈ എം ഡി യും അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്‍റെ ഉന്നത സഹപ്രവര്‍ത്തകരും എന്‍റെ അടുത്തു ചര്‍ച്ച ചെയ്യുക പതിവ്‌ ആയിരുന്നു. പല നല്ല ആശയങ്ങളും പെട്ടെന്ന് തന്നെ ഉള്‍ക്കൊള്ളാനും പ്രാവര്‍ത്തികമാക്കാനും ഇവര്‍ക്ക് നല്ല കഴിവ് തന്നെ ആയിരുന്നു എന്ന് പറയാം.

അധികം താമസിയാതെ നൂറു കണക്കിന് എന്‍ജിനിയര്‍മാര്‍ പണിയെടുക്കുന്ന ഒരു മഹാ പ്രസ്ഥാനമായി ഈ കമ്പനി വളര്‍ന്നു. കോടികളുടെ ബിസിനസ്‌ കോണ്ട്രാക്ടുകള്‍.

ഈ കമ്പനിയെ അടുത്തു നിരീക്ഷിച്ചിരുന്ന ഒരു വ്യക്തി എന്ന നിലയില്‍ ഒരു കാര്യം എനിക്ക് വ്യക്തമായിരുന്നു. ഈ എം ഡി യുടെയും അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്‍റെ മൂന്ന് വകുപ്പ് മേധാവികളായ സഹപ്രവര്‍ത്തകരുടെയും അടുത്ത സഹകരണവും ടീം വര്‍ക്കും ആയിരുന്നു അവരുടെ വിജയ രഹസ്യം. ഈ നാലു പേരുടെയും പ്രവര്‍ത്തന പരിചയം പലതായിരുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍ ആ നാല് പരിചയ മേഖലകളെ ഒന്നിപ്പിച്ചു മുമ്പോട്ട്‌ പോകാന്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞപ്പോള്‍ അവരുടെ പ്രവര്‍ത്തനത്തിന് ഫലം അതി വേഗത്തിലായി.

എന്നാല്‍ ഈ വിജയം അധിക കാലം മുമ്പോട്ട് കൊണ്ടുപോകാന്‍ ഈ കമ്പനിയ്ക്കു കഴിഞ്ഞില്ല. വലുതായി വന്നതിനേക്കാള്‍ വേഗത്തില്‍ അത് പൊട്ടിയെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞാല്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞല്ലോ.

ഈ വിനാശത്തിന് ആരുടെ വിപരീത ബുദ്ധി ആണ് കാരണമായി തീര്‍ന്നത്?

ഇവരുടെ അടുത്ത ഒരു നിരീക്ഷകന്‍ എന്ന നിലയില്‍ മറ്റാരെക്കാളും അത് മനസ്സിലാക്കിയ ഒരു വ്യക്തി ഒരു പക്ഷെ ഞാനാകാം.

വളരെ നിസ്സാരമെന്നു പറയാവുന്ന ഒരു കാര്യം ആണ് ഈ കമ്പനിയെ പൊട്ടിച്ചത്.

കമ്പനി വളര്‍ന്നു വലുതായപ്പോള്‍ പുതിയ പല പല വകുപ്പുകള്‍ രൂപം കൊണ്ടു. എച്ച് ആറും ഫിനാന്‍സും ഒക്കെ അതില്‍ പെടും.

കമ്പനികളുടെ പ്രവര്‍ത്തനങ്ങളെ സുഗമമാക്കാന്‍ വേണ്ടിയുള്ള ഇത്തരം വകുപ്പുകളില്‍ നിയമിക്കപ്പെടുന്ന ആളുകള്‍ കമ്പനിക്ക് തുരങ്കം പണിയുന്ന കാഴ്ചയാണ് പലപ്പോഴും കാണുന്നത്.

നമ്മുടെ ബാംഗ്ലൂര്‍ കമ്പനിയിലും അത് തന്നെ സംഭവിച്ചു.

എം ഡി യുടെ അടുത്ത മൂന്ന് വകുപ്പ് മേധാവികളില്‍ ഒരാള്‍ ഔദ്യോകിക യാത്രപ്പടി ബില്‍ ഫിനാന്‍സ് മാനേജര്‍ക്ക് സമര്‍പ്പിച്ചു.

ചട്ട വിരുദ്ധമായ ഒരു തുക കൂടുതല്‍ എഴുതിയതായി കാണിച്ചു ഫിനാന്‍സ്‌ മാനേജര്‍ നോട്ടു എഴുതി  എം ഡി യുടെ അറിവിനായി യാത്രപ്പടി ഫയല്‍ പുട്ട് അപ്പ് ചെയ്തു.

നോക്കണേ ഒരു കാര്യം. സ്വകാര്യ കമ്പനിയിലാണ് ഇത്. സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ സംരംഭം ഒന്നുമല്ല എന്ന് ഓര്‍ക്കുക.

കമ്പനിയുടെ വളര്‍ച്ചയില്‍ മതി മറന്ന നമ്മുടെ എം ഡി പഴയ കാല കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ ഒക്കെ അങ്ങു മറന്നു പോയി.

തികച്ചും  എം  ഡി  യുടെ  നിര്‍വികാരതയോടെ 'കാര്യമാത്ര പ്രസക്തി' യോടെ അദ്ദേഹം കുറ്റക്കാരനായ ഉദ്യോഗസ്ഥനില്‍ നിന്നും കാര്യകാരണ റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ട് ആവശ്യപ്പെടാന്‍ 'ഉത്തരവ്' ആയി.

പിന്നെ കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ തകൃതിയായി നടന്നു. ഫിനാന്‍സില്‍ നിന്നും എച്ച് ആറിലേക്ക് ഫയല്‍ നീങ്ങി. എം ഡി യുടെ അടുത്ത മുറിയില്‍ ഇരുന്നിരുന്ന നമ്മുടെ ജനറല്‍ മാനേജര്‍ ഈ കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ ഒന്നും അറിഞ്ഞതേയില്ല.

എല്ലാം പരമ രഹസ്യം.

അധികം താമസിയാതെ നമ്മുടെ ജനറല്‍ മാനേജര്‍ക്ക് കാര്യം കാണിക്കല്‍ നോട്ടിസ് കിട്ടി. ചട്ടപ്പടി അല്ലാതെ അഞ്ഞൂറ് രൂപ യാത്രപ്പടി ബില്ലില്‍ എഴുതിയതിന്.

കമ്പനിയുടെ പ്രവര്‍ത്തന മേഖലയിലെ ഒരു നേടും തൂണ്‍ ആയ വിദഗ്ധ എന്‍ജിനിയര്‍ ആണ് ഇദ്ദേഹം എന്ന് ഓര്‍ക്കണം. കമ്പനിയുടെ ഇത് വരെയുള്ള എല്ലാ നേട്ടങ്ങള്‍ക്കും കാരണഭൂതരായ നാല് പേരില്‍ ഒരാള്‍.

അദ്ദേഹത്തിനു ആ നോട്ടിസ് സഹിച്ചില്ല. അദ്ദേഹം അതനുസരിച്ചു മറു നോട്ടു എഴുതി ഫയല്‍ മടക്കി.

നീറുന്ന തീയില്‍ അല്പം നെയ്‌ ചേര്‍ത്ത് പേര്‍സണല്‍ വകുപ്പ് എം ഡി യെ കാര്യം ധരിപ്പിച്ചു.

കഥ നീട്ടുന്നില്ല. നമ്മുടെ ജനറല്‍ മാനേജര്‍ കമ്പനിയില്‍ നിന്നും ഔട്ട്‌.

അദ്ദേഹത്തെ നോട്ടമിട്ടിരുന്ന ഒരു പ്രതിയോഗി ഗ്രൂപ്‌ ഈ വിദഗ്ധനെ കയ്യോടെ റാഞ്ചി.

നമ്മുടെ കമ്പനിയുടെ കരാറുകള്‍ ചിലയിടങ്ങളില്‍ നൈപുണ്യ കുറവ് മൂലം അവിടവിടെ പാളാന്‍ തുടങ്ങി.

ഒരു മൂരാച്ചി പോയെന്നു കരുതി കമ്പനി പൊട്ടുമെന്ന് സമ്മതിക്കാന്‍ നമ്മുടെ എം ഡി യുടെ ഈഗോയും തയ്യാര്‍ ആയിരുന്നില്ല.

അധികം താമസിയാതെ എം ഡി യും ഔട്ട്‌. കമ്പനിയുടെ കഥ അവിടെ കഴിഞ്ഞു എന്ന് പറയുന്നതാവും ശരി.

ഈ മഹാ വിപത്തില്‍ നിന്നും ഈ കൂട്ടരെ രക്ഷ പെടുത്താന്‍ ഞാനും ഒരു ചെറിയ ശ്രമം നടത്തിയിരുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍ വിനാശം സംഭവിക്കാനിരിക്കുന്ന കാലത്ത് ആരുടെയും മനസ്സില്‍ നല്ല ഉപദേശങ്ങള്‍ കയറില്ല എന്ന് അനുഭവം. 

[രാജന്‍ സീ മാത്യുവിന്‍റെ മലയാളം ബ്ലോഗ്‌ ലിസ്റ്റ് ഇവിടെ കാണുക !]

[This blog is in Malayalam Lanugage. When disaster is to happen, human intellect does not work wisely. The people concerned in the disastrous events seems to close their minds due to egoistic attitudes that they seldom listen to wise advices even. Later when the disaster had caused the havoc in their lives they might happen to brood over if they remain to do so. In the above blog a case study of a company is depicted. The company was prospering. Then a small incident changed everything. There was opportunity to save the situation. But hardcore egos did not allow to act wisely. The company faced bankruptcy and the person who was not willing to budge was humbled to the core !]

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pre-paid Mobile Phone Connection: This is how Airtel does it !

To be very frank I used to be an admirer of this company named Airtel, a Bharti Communication venture, which was a sort of pioneering private organization which brought about the telecommunication revolution in India, breaking the monopoly of the Government of India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Prior to this revolution, the telephone instrument used to be called the P&T phone, an acronym for the Post and Telecommunication department, and was usually a black ebonite moulding with some electro-mechanical things in it.

Those in the government had made such rules and regulations that it was not even possible for any one to use a phone instrument having a different color. Having a telephone connection at home and office used to be a status symbol which only those well connected could manage. The members of the parliament (MP) had the special privilege of recommending any one a telephone connection! A telephone connection used to cost a few thousands of rupees at a time when the average salary of a government officer was much lesser!

With the opening up of the telecommunication sector by the government of India in the Nineties suddenly proved that India was not a poor country any more as it used to be thought earlier. In just two decades time ever since, India has over a billion telephone connections, an average of a phone for every citizen!

The big crowds that you see any where in any retail shop in India is perhaps in the foreign liquor shops and in the mobile phone shops !

The post paid telephones were the order of the yester years. But now it is the era of the pre-paid mobile or cell phones.

In the telephone business the old P&T is bifurcated into a few PSU companies called the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) which serves on a pan India basis and the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) which takes care of the telecom business of the metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi etc. The arm that dealt the international communication business was made Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) which was later sold out and now owned by the private Tata group.

There are scores of private players in this big business. One of the pioneers was Airtel. Then there are companies called Idea, Vodaphone, Tata Docomo, Aircel, Hutch, Reliance, etc.

Migration of this business from the earlier monopolistic regime to the present open market system has been mired in controversies and corruptions of very high order and the details of which are not very much understood by the common man. 

In the earlier days the DoT officers holding the Indian Telecom Service (ITS) title used to manage this business. Now personnel of varying competencies and calibre manage the show of the private players. Many of the personnel that the telecom companies have in the field offices are employees of franchisees and not direct employees of the companies concerned.

Both in the government sector and in the private sector, it is not very easy for the common man to meet a responsible officer representing these companies. In fact, the responsibility of selling their products and services have been outsourced to such an extent in these companies that the pre-paid mobile connection means purchase of a small electronic chip called the SIM with a unique telephone number which can be inserted to your mobile set for activating the connection by the respective telecom operator company.

India of late is a country where internal warfare of extremist groups sponsored by both internal and external terror groups take place here and there most unexpectedly. Such a situation has made the government pulling its strings to tighten the telecom companies to ensure keeping records of  proper identities of their customers, especially those who are pre-paid mobile connection users. The logic behind such a move is to prevent individuals belonging to the extremists organizations using their pre-paid mobile handsets for their acts anonymously.

So the government rightfully has put the onus on the mobile companies to ensure the identity of the SIM purchasers.

The SIM cards are offered for sale by small time vendors and shops who displays the logos of the telecom companies prominently advertising the SIMs that are available with them for sale.

A customer who wants to get a connection goes to any one of these shops and ask for a SIM of his desired operator of choice. The vendor takes out a set of SIMs well packed with the connection number displayed outside the cover.

The customer selects his SIM. He has to then fill up an application form which is available with the vendor. For his convenience, he only has to sign at one or two places, and the vendor or his agent does the remaining filling up for him later. That is fine for the purchaser, because he should be well educated to get it filled up by himself. More over the shop from where he has purchased the SIM does not have such facilities for the purchaser to sit down conveniently and fill up the form!

Together with the application form, the customer has to give self signed photocopies of an identity proof document. There is a big list of such documents which are accepted as per the directives of the government. How to get an identity proof originally is a thing which is yet to be decided in this country ! Because, any identity document to be made requires providing some other identity proof. Then he has to give a document in proof his address. Now this is a ticklish issue. Many of the documents that he had given for the identity has also some address on them. But those addresses may not be the same located in the place where he is now purchasing the SIM, if he happened to be a person who keeps changing the residences due to his profession.So the address proof has to be a land line telephone bill of the BSNL ( how can he have this because this BSNL will ask for a address proof!) any such thing. But for a person of a changing job nature, none of this can be made without some original address certification by some authority. [In this connection it would be interesting to see these blogs also : 1. The Unique Identity Crisis of India !  2. Unique Identity to All: the Simple Thing to Do ]

Now coming back to my experience of getting a pre-paid mobile connection in Ranchi, the capital city of the meneral rich and Naxal infested Jharkhand state of India. I came to this city nearly an year ago, after staying in the near by state of Chhattisgarh for three decades. My PSU employer wanted my services here now. The company provided me an official mobile connection operated by the PSU telecom company, BSNL. After a couple of months, I thought of having another mobile connection for my private use. So I went to a shop near to my residence, which displayed the logos of many mobile telecom operators. The shop owner told me the mandatory requirements for getting the SIM. I should have an identity proof and and address proof and a photograph.

For the identity part, I had many things with me. I had a passport, a PAN card issued by the Income Tax Department, a driving license issued the Transport Authority of my previous state of residence and my company's photo identity card. Except the PAN card all had my address also recorded, but those addresses were all where I lived before and not my current residence- the current residence at that time being my rented accommodation.

The shop keeper explained that any of the identity proof are okay, but for the residence proof none are acceptable. Then he suggested to have a notarized rent agreement for my rented accommodation. Fortunately I had that and all documents were submitted happily and I was issued the SIM of Airtel.

The SIM costed just about Rs.50. ( approximately one US dollar). Due to the cut throat competition and large scale volumes the connection costed just pea nuts !

So happily I went home with the SIM to be inserted in my new mobile hand set. The shop keeper had told me that the SIM would get activated by the Airtel company after they receive the documents. And I waited for that moment.

To my surprise, nothing happened for some days. I kept enquiring with the shop keeper. At last, after a lapse of about two weeks, he informed me that the company officials did not approve my address proof ! I asked the shop keeper to return my documents. Though he could not give it back, thankfully he returned the Rs.50 that was taken for the SIM. Since the pre-paid mobile connection was not such an important thing for me, I just left the thing there.

After a few months, my employer allotted me my official residence in the company's own township in a prime location in the city, a well known address of its own. Now I had my CPSU company's quarters allotment letter as the proof of residence at last.

With these documents, BSNL was happy to give me a pre-paid SIM which was activated in no time. BSNL being a PSU was now working much more efficiently than the private players. Thanks to the competition that the latter created !

Recently, I thought of having another pre-paid mobile connection. This time I went to the shop owner who got me the BSNL SIM connection. Since I had the BSNL, I thought of trying another operator and opted for Airtel once again forgetting my previous bad experience. At least this time I was pretty confident about the address proof.  I gave him the same kind of documents I gave for getting the BSNL connection !

Fortunately, the connection got activated and I used it for nearly a week. In between I recharged it twice. Then all of a sudden, I got a SMS on the mobile asking to meet my shop owner in connection with the documents. Since the shop was near to my residence I went to him. He casually said to forget it. It is a common practice of this Airtel fellows, he informed.

Then to my surprise, in the next day, the mobile went dead. I approached the shop keeper, my only contact in this connection! This time he gave me back all the documents with an unsigned checklist with a tick mark on the column marked 'un acceptable address proof'. While all the documents had the signature and rubber stamp of the vendor who sold the SIM in the first place with due attestation of the verifications, the checklist returned did not have any such thing. It did not say who is returning the same or on whose behalf. It even did not bear the Airtel logo. Obviously, the company had outsourced this function to some local fellows who are either not competent or arrogant with their whimsical 'power' of deciding who can get an Airtel connection in Jharkhand.

This time I decided to do some research on this. Through google search I came to know that this kind of complaints are frequently happening with Airtel .

Just for a curiosity, I wanted to know how this company disposed their customer complaints.

So I found out their customer care e-mail from the Internet and wrote about this to :
airtelpresence@airtel.in

I had clearly stated all the things regarding this new Airtel Prepaid SIM .

I had given my contact details and all such things that they would need to have a proper enquiry.

The next day a lady contacted me on my cell phone. She talked about the complaint which I had. She seemed understanding the problem.

She was apologetic for the whole incident. But her solution was that I should find out their office located in this city and meet some one there to resolve the issue. Perhaps to listen to their new demands! I do not know.

Having purchased the SIM from the local shop, I did not feel like spending my time and energy again to go in search of some offices of this company for making an argument with their incompetent staff once again to have the connection restored.

When there are many options left to the customers, no one would like to do such a thing.

But had this company cared really for the customer, they would have seen that a legitimate customer is not lost, even if that individual customer is not worth much for them taken solely. That is what customer care is all about.

But for many of the Indian companies, this is what the employees are not taught well.

And after some time of their existence, the employees start making rules of their own, pulling down the company that provided them their bread and butter for some years !

Unless the top brass of the companies take special interest, such things keep happening in all companies, not only with this Airtel.

Before concluding this, I remember how some similar instances of customer grievances that one of the prominent private banking company of India handled. The top management of this bank deliberately chose to be a six sigma company with regard to customer complaints, not just in words, but in action. The effect is that now most of the businessmen for whom banking transactions are very important for sustaining their businesses, chose to be the customers of this bank, for they knew that the bank would solve their problems if at all something wrong happens. In less than a decade, this bank became a consistently profit making venture and the number one in private banking sector in India.

That is the importance of customer care.

But when companies begin to forget it, the stage is set for them to perish !

[View the linked list of all Blogs of the Author Here ]

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cashew Fruit Toddy : Remembering a Recipe from Good Old Days !

In my childhood days, a piece of land my family owned in the Central Travancore region of Kerala, had many varieties of   Cashew trees. This land was a square plot having an area of approximately an acre. My father, though not a farmer by profession, was a very fond enthusiast of horticulture that he used to spend much time in mending his land and growing various kinds of tuber crops and pulses in the couple of plots of land he owned like this.

This particular square plot of land had been planted with various varieties of cashew trees lining the external periphery of the land, which provided shade and shelter for the village boys who found the place good for playing, not disturbing the inner plots which used to be cultivated with annual crops. The land also had a few coconut trees , jackfruit trees and Areca nut trees here and there. The tuber crops such as the elephant foot yam, the climber yam, tapioca (cassava) used to be harvested mostly for our own consumption where as some other occasional tubers like ginger and turmeric provided some cash gains. There were many other crops which used to be cultivated, but those were not so common. Some of the trees in the plot had pepper vines on it which yielded a few kilograms of black pepper annually.

Steamed pieces of the yams and cassava with fish curry used to be the tastiest food we enjoyed those days.

Now the most neglected trees and the most liked ones were the large cashew trees that dotted the periphery of our plot. I remember learning tree climbing in some of these trees which had conveniently placed branches and slopping which helped even a novice like me to climb up a tree !

Every year these trees numbering a score or so flowered and used to be fully covered with young green cashew nuts with green bulges on their upper ends developing as the pseudo fruits. These raw green nuts provided a good source for making a tasty tender cashew nut curry, provided some one could venture in to the task of cutting those into pieces and taking out those tender kernels from their insides. The cashew nut was naturally protected with their offensive 'phenolic' sap which could make a person's skin severely 'burnt' if ever it happens to be in contact with the skin. So lot of care was needed to take out the tender kernels to prepare the tasty dish, which the ladies of the house normally would not attempt.

So the fruits were left to grow and ripen out to become the cashew apples later with their ripened cashew nuts attached to the end of the pseudo fruits.

The cashew apples used to be in yellow, red, orange and pink colors. Some used to be elongated while some used to be fatty but all having the typical inverted cone shapes. When the fruits ripen for the first time in the season, we used to pluck a few and eat it enjoying their sweet juices fully, later to be repented for the itching that the small amounts of tannin that the fruits gifted to out throats.

Soon, the fruits would become a thing to be discarded as a waste with no takers for them. Even the cattle used to be fed up with these fruits refusing to eat them as they become plentifully available in the ripening season.

Our attention would be to collect the cashew nuts to be stored for use later in the year. If the collections are good, it used to be sold out to local vendors who collected them to be sold later to the cashew factories. Though the processed nuts were a delicacy which got marketed in the international markets at a premium, the local small growers like us never used to make any money out of these by selling these nuts in the local market. So occassionally we took out the kernels in our own improvised manner, getting the half burnt cashew kernels for satisfying our taste buds, our only way of enjoying the rich man's food.

No wonder, the small cashew tree owners of our region soon resorted to the wise decision of cutting these trees for fire wood, making those cashew factories to resort to importing the nuts from Africa for keeping them fed with the essential raw material !

The Keralites have never been good entrepreneurs in their own land, in general. Many of them could be good employees outside their own land. But in their native place , which is blessed with God's own blessings, they lacked the creativity and enthusiasm to utilize the potentials of the natural blessings of their land which is now promoted world wide as 'God's Own Country' ! I being a 'Marunadan Malayali'  ( non-resident Keralite) have got the opportunity to compare the attitudes of Keralites while residents at home land and otherwise!

In those days, I remember an attempt made by me to make use of the cashew apples for some useful purpose instead of wasting them to be scattered all below the trees and rotten , attracting swarms of house flies!

I remember devising a method by which the cashew apples can be used by converting their rich juices to a very tasty liquor, smelling and tasting like the toddy (palm wine ) but was not an intoxicant like it. Incidentally, Kerala is dotted with hundreds of toddy shops which sell this country liquor under government licence. Palm wine or toddy is a very tasty liquor with a pleasant sweet but a little pungent if fermented for a while. The palm wine produced from coconut tree is the best of its kind but its availability is always less than its demand, creating a situation in which the licenced country liquor bars of the state selling spurious toddy to its customers quite often.

Coming back to my recipe of making the cashew fruit toddy. The cashew apples' main problem is its tannin content which causes some kind of itching sensation in the mouth and throat. So this has to be removed. The best and efficient way of removing it from the cashew fruit juice is to add a few ounces of starch solution to it. The starch solution is the one you discard after boiling rice ! The moment the starch solution is added to the cashew fruit juice, which is made by squeezing cut pieces of the cashew apples, the juice coagulates the unwanted tannin gum and the gum settles down quickly to the bottom of the container.

The gum free juice is then added with a little sugar and a handful of black pepper seeds and kept closed in a jar for about twenty four hours for it to ferment lightly. Then filter out the pepper and serve the liquor after chilling it. I used to make this and enjoy drinking it in the summer days. Fantastic taste !

The squeezed out apples can be dried as a good cattle feed.

The cashew apples provided a good opportunity to Kerala to make and market a fine drink, not necessary the hard fenny that Goa has been brewing from cashew apples for decades.

Unfortunately, cashew trees almost vanished from Kerala by the time entrepreneurship developed in Keralites! Kerala also faces an acute shortage of working labor !

But the problems are potential opportunities. There exists many such opportunities in Kerala. Opportunities for Kerala to develop as a model state of prosperity !

Friday, February 24, 2012

ആര്‍ക്കും വേണ്ടാത്ത മുള്ളാത്തയ്ക്ക ഇത്ര വല്യ ഔഷധമോ?

ഈ അടുത്തയിടെ, നമ്മുടെ കൊച്ചു കേരളത്തില്‍ ആരും അങ്ങനെ ഉപയോഗിക്കാതെ തള്ളിക്കളഞ്ഞിരുന്ന ഒരു പഴ വര്‍ഗമായ മുള്ളാത്തയെ പറ്റി,  ഒരു ബ്ലോഗ്‌ ഈ ബ്ലോഗ്സ്പോട്ടില്‍ വായിക്കാനിടയായി.

ഇംഗ്ലിഷില്‍ ഉള്ള ഈ ബ്ലോഗ്‌ മുള്ളാത്തയെ കുറിച്ചു വളരെ അറിവ് നല്‍കുന്നു.

അത് വായിക്കാന്‍ ഹൈപ്പെര്‍ ലിങ്ക് ചെയ്തിരിക്കുന്ന മുള്ളാത്ത എന്ന പേരില്‍ ക്ലിക്ക്‌ ചെയ്യുക.

കാന്‍സര്‍ രോഗത്തിനുള്ള ഒരു ദിവ്യ ഔഷധം ആണ് ആത്ത വര്‍ഗത്തിലുള്ള ഈ മരം.

ഇതിന്‍റെ ഇലയും തൊലിയും പഴവും കുരുവും എല്ലാം ഔഷധ ഗുണമുള്ളതാണ് എന്ന് തെക്കേ അമേരിക്കയിലുള്ള ഗോത്ര വര്‍ഗക്കാര്‍ക്ക് പുരാതന കാലം മുതലേ അറിയാമായിരുന്നു എന്ന് കരുതപ്പെടുന്നു.

പത്തു നാപ്പതു വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കു മുമ്പ്‌ ഞാന്‍ ഈ പഴം എന്‍റെ ഒരു ബന്ധു വീട്ടില്‍ വച്ചാണ് ആദ്യം കാണുന്നത്. വല്ലാത്ത മണമുള്ള ഒരു മുള്ളന്‍ ചക്ക പഴം. ഒരെണ്ണം മുറിച്ചാല്‍ പത്തു പേര്‍ക്ക് തിന്നാന്‍ കാണും. പഴത്തിനു മധുരവും പുളിയും ചേര്‍ന്ന ഒരു രസം. നീര് ധാരാളം. കുരു ആത്തക്കായുടെ പോലെ കറുത്തത്.

ആദ്യം തിന്നാന്‍ അല്പം മടിക്കും. അങ്ങനെ ആണ് അതിന്‍റെ മണവും സ്വാദും. ഇഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടു കഴിഞ്ഞാല്‍ പിന്നെ കാര്യം വേറെ.

അന്ന് ഞാന്‍ അതിന്‍റെ കുരു എടുത്തു വീട്ടില്‍ കൊണ്ടുപോയി കുഴിച്ചിട്ടു. വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കു ശേഷം അത് എന്‍റെ വീട്ടില്‍ കായ്ക്കാന്‍ തുടങ്ങി. ആര്‍ക്കും പക്ഷെ അതിനോടു പ്രിയമില്ല. പഴങ്ങള്‍ ആണ്ടുതോറും വന്നു ചീഞ്ഞു പോകും. അത്ര തന്നെ. ഭാഗ്യ വശാല്‍ ആ മരം ഇന്നും അവിടുണ്ട്. പാഴ് മരം എന്ന് കരുതി ആരും അതിനെ വെട്ടി നശിപ്പിച്ചില്ല. ഇതുവരെ.

കാന്‍സറിനു ഇതുവരെ കണ്ടു പിടിച്ചിട്ടുള്ള കേമോ തെറാപ്പി മരുന്നുകളെക്കാള്‍ പതിനായിരം മടങ്ങ് ഗുണം പ്രകൃതി ദത്തമായ ഈ മരത്തിനുള്ളതായി അറിവായിട്ടുണ്ട്.

Soursop എന്നാണ് ഈ പഴം ഇംഗ്ലിഷില്‍ അറിയപ്പെടുന്നത്. ഇന്ന് ഇന്റര്‍നെറ്റില്‍ ഈ മരത്തെ കുറിച്ചും അതിന്‍റെ ഗുണങ്ങളെ കുറിച്ചും ധാരാളം കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ ഗൂഗിള്‍ സേര്‍ച്ച്‌ ചെയ്താല്‍ അറിയാന്‍ കഴിയും.

ഉഷ്ണ മേഖലയില്‍ വളരുന്ന ഒരു പഴ മരമാണ് കാട്ടു ആത്ത എന്ന് ശ്രീലങ്കയിലും മറ്റും അറിയപ്പെടുന്ന ഈ ഫല വൃക്ഷം.

കേരളത്തില്‍ ഒരു പ്രയാസവും ഇല്ലാതെ വളര്‍ന്നു വരും. കുരു കുഴിച്ചിട്ടു മൂന്നു നാല് വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കകം കായ പിടിക്കാന്‍ തുടങ്ങും.

കേരളത്തിലെ ആയുര്‍വേദ ഗവേഷണക്കാര്‍ ഇതിന്‍റെ ഗുണങ്ങളെ പറ്റി കൂടുതല്‍ പഠിക്കണം.

ഇതില്‍നിന്നു കെമിക്കല്‍സ്‌ വേര്‍തിരിച്ചെടുത്തു സ്വന്തമായി ലാഭം കൊയ്യാന്‍ വലിയ അല്ലോപതി കമ്പനികള്‍ക്ക് ചില പ്രയാസങ്ങളുണ്ട് . അതാണ്‌ അവര്‍ മരുന്ന് മാര്‍കെറ്റില്‍ ഇറക്കാന്‍ മടി കാണിക്കുന്നത്.

എന്നാല്‍ ആയുര്‍വേദ ഔഷധ ശാലകള്‍ക്കു ഒരു കാന്‍സര്‍ മരുന്നായി ഇതിനെ ഉപയോഗിക്കാന്‍ ഗവേഷണം നടത്താന്‍ പ്രയാസം കാണാന്‍ വഴിയില്ല.

ഇപ്പൊ തന്നെ പലരും അവിടവിടെയായി ഈ മരത്തിനെ അര്‍ബുദ ചികില്‍സക്ക് പ്രയോജനപ്പെടുത്തി ഫലം കണ്ടു തുടങ്ങിയിരിക്കുന്നു എന്ന് ആധികാരികമല്ലാത്ത റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ടുകള്‍ സൂചിപ്പിക്കുന്നു. 

മരുന്നായി ഉപയോഗിക്കാന്‍ ചിലപ്പോ സര്‍ക്കാരുകള്‍ ചില മുട്ടാപ്പോക്ക് ഉടക്ക് ഉണ്ടാക്കിയെന്നിരിക്കും.

എന്നാലും ശരി, കേരളം ഈ മരത്തിനെ മനസ്സിലാക്കേണ്ട സമയം അതിക്രമിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു.

ആര്‍ക്കും വേണ്ടാത്ത നമ്മുടെ മുള്ളാത്ത വഴിയുള്ള ഫലവത്തായ അര്‍ബുദ ചികില്‍സ കേരളത്തില്‍ ആയുര്‍വേദ ആശുപത്രികളില്‍ ഗവേഷണത്തിനായെന്കിലും തുടങ്ങിയാല്‍ ഒരു പക്ഷേ ഒരു വലിയ നേട്ടമായി തീരാന്‍ സാധ്യത തള്ളിക്കളയാന്‍ പറ്റില്ല.

കാല താമസമില്ലാതെ നമുക്ക് അത് സാധിക്കും എന്ന് കരുതുന്നു.

[ലേഖകന്‍റെ മലയാള ബ്ലോഗ്‌ ലിസ്റ്റ് ഇവിടെ കാണുക !]

[The blog here given in Malayalam language highlights the importance of promoting the common fruit tree found in Kerala known as 'Mullaatha' the local name for the Soursop or Graviola. In Kerala, perhaps this tree came from South America together with other South American imports like Tapioca or Cassava, which later became a secondary staple food of the Keralites a century ago. The properties of the leaves, bark, fruits and seeds to act as efficient medication to treat various forms of cancer need to be researched in a systematic way. Kerala with its ayurvedic research facilities and the natural habitat for this tree would be the ideal place to take up additional  research studies on this aspect for the common good of the people of this world.]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Observations on the Working Styles of Two Indian Public Sector Chief Executive Officers !

What I am going to narrate here are two episodes that happened during some years ago during my service as an engineer in a large Indian Public Sector Company. The purpose of narrating this is to highlight the importance a Chief Executive Officer in making a difference  to the performance of the business organization. Those who are capable of understanding can very well differentiate the leadership traits that made the difference to the organization on a long term perspective from some apparently negligible actions of theirs.

For obvious reasons, I would not name the persons or the organization.

This may be taken as a real life case study in management !

The company is a large metallurgical process industry (to be more specific, a large integrated steel plant) employing nearly 50,000 people, of which nearly 2500 are qualified engineers. The engineers employed by the company are from various engineering disciplines as far as their educational backgrounds are concerned. The company's recruitment policy is such that it selects fresh engineers from the academic institutions on a pan India basis based on a stringent recruitment process. Such engineers are placed in the technical management cadre of the company. It is from this cadre that the company later draws its Chief Executives and top management personnels.

Though it is a government owned Public Sector Unit (PSU), the promotions and career growth prospects in this company are not similar to the government service. In the Indian government service, seniority is the major determiner in deciding promotions of an officer from a particular cadre. Though the Indian PSUs initially followed the government rules, the career rules in them kept on changing to their convenience when the government began vesting their Boards with more and more autonomy. As such, the Indian PSUs do not have any uniform career policy, except that they follow some mandates from the government in deciding the pay and perks of the employees.

Now let us come back to the two chief executives of this PSU. For convenience let us call them Mr.X and Mr. Y. The former was the Chief Executive Officer (CXO) of the same company more than a decade earlier to the latter. Both of them joined the company as fresh management trainee recruits, Mr X joining the company during its formative years and Mr Y joining the company later during its prime performance years.

Mr. X had his education from a premier national institute while Mr. Y had his engineering education from an institute not of that prominence. Both these gentlemen incidentally hailed from the same Indian state. Linguistically and culturally they had similar backgrounds. Mr. X was a metallurgical engineer while Mr.Y was an electrical engineer. During the initial two decades of their career both worked as first line executives in two major production departments of the same company.

Mr.X had an opportunity to work in another PSU in the General Manager and Director levels for a few years before he was selected and placed as the Chief Executive of his parent company while Mr Y worked in the same company , though he held different responsibilities in a few other departments.

When Mr. X took charge of as the CXO, he came after a gap of nearly a decade and the younger generations of officers never knew him. Most of his batch mates and seniors where now in senior levels in the company holding various positions but subordinate to him. The company just at that time had completed a major expansion plan and was just waiting to get the benefits of the massive production capacity expansion. Unfortunately, many of the new production units were failing to produce in the acceptable levels due to many technical problems of a new kind which the company never faced earlier in the old production units.

For example, the new Steel Melting Shop with latest steel production facilities was not able to sustain its production because of a technical snag on its gas cleaning facility. The latter came up with latest technology and was supplied by a reputed European company. Though the plant had been commissioned, the production of steel could not pick up because the gas cleaning plants would break down so soon. Unless the company produce the crude steel in this department it cannot possibly make the saleable steel in the other production departments! Capital employed by the company in the billions was not making any returns !

The company had trained its operation and maintenance engineers in the new technology by sending scores of them to the foreign countries from where the technology was procured. Besides, the experts from the foreign suppliers and the consultants were all breaking their heads to solve the problem.

But the problem was not getting solved. More and more experts were requisitioned from other countries as well and their suggestions were getting tried one by one. But the problem remained unsolved.

The CXO was spending hours daily in meetings with high level Indian and foreign teams to resolve the technical problem. But nothing was happening.

While the big efforts were on, the CXO did another thing. He devoted some time to discuss the issue with some of his personal friends and earnestly requested them to find any one in his large organization who could be of some help. That informal request from the CXO caused a silent 'people' search within the organization, not necessarily connected with the problem. The effect was that one day, my boss requested me ( a very junior level engineer at that time and not connected in any way to steel production) to visit the new Steel Melting Shop and study the problem independently and suggest some solution if I could.

So, I visited the new shop. I knew none there. There were big actions every where in the huge production shop which was built and commissioned just recently. There were high level 'experts' and engineers from many countries in dynamic activities trying to find out some solution to the problem. Some actions of modifications were going on as suggested by some experts. The plant was not on production mode !

With difficulty, by spending some time in understanding the process and the technology by glaring at the massive pieces of equipment connected by massive pipelines and cables and by discussing with some shop personnel here and there, I studied the problem. I thought about the whole process and the systems with a rational but unbiased mind.

Then it struck me. I found the possible reason for the gas cleaning plant failing frequently ! I could also guess the possible solution ! One of the huge pipes was getting chocked with a rock like formation which was not prone to conventional cleaning within days the plant is put to service. And the chocking location was different every time.

The solution what I found involved replacing a length of pipe of the gas cleaning plant with a smaller diameter pipe. But my predicament was that an external expert agency had also identified the problem to the same pipe and they had recommended for going for a higher size pipe. In fact one higher size replacement had been tried without any positive result and the same agency had suggested for a still higher size and work was in progress for effecting this new replacement. My technical logic on the other hand , involved changing the pipe to a much lower size than was originally designed by the foreign technology supplier.

When I told this to my boss, he discouraged me. He even challenged my knowledge and experience. How can an young Indian engineer could possibly solve such a 'big' problem so easily, that so many teams of foreign experts could not do so far ?

That was his simple logic !

But perhaps due to some other reasons he somehow decided to forward my suggestion note to higher ups. As the problem was so serious to the company, my suggestion somehow reached the Mr.X, the then CXO, who instead of throwing it to the dust bin, instructed the next in command to personally discuss the matter with me and proceed to implement it if I was found confident !

Soon, the big bosses of the company came to meet me. Some were apprehensive, but some others were willing to buy my suggestion. Soon the CXO took the decision in my favour and ordered to implement my suggestion under my guidance. The ongoing work (implementing the suggestion of the external expert agency) was stopped and the work as suggested by me was taken up, instead.

The work got completed and the plant was started. Though there was an apprehension from many people that the gas cleaning plant would fail in the first attempt itself due to the drastic change from its initial design, they proved wrong. 

The problem was solved for ever and soon the new shop began producing steel and production picked up momentum soon after. This one success catapulted my reputation as an engineer and soon I was recognized by the CXO and the top management team as an expert of the organization who could be consulted for other problems as well.

Years later, Mr. Y became the CXO. We knew each other personally. The same company  was in peak production when he took charge as the Chief. But now the issue was maintaining the plant in that performance levels. The equipment and the people are to be kept in top form ! Unlike the former CXO, this individual was a popular figure and he had personal touch with many junior and senior level engineers and officers of the company before he was elevated to the top post.

But when he became the CXO, he decided it the best for him to keep aloof from all. Perhaps he thought that would be the best policy to maintain his 'gravity' as the Chief !

He created a large CXO Secretariat filled with a large team of officers to assist him. No one was normally allowed to meet the CXO, unless approved by his Secretariat.

He was a person in regular talking terms with me before he got elevated to the top positions. He was  from a management trainee batch a couple of years senior to mine. But professionally we belonged to a different technical discipline. But he knew about me and the areas where I was considered in the company as an expert for the past many years.

When he took charge as the CXO, a major plan was going on to modernize a major production facility of the company for crude iron making with massive investments. This  involved some major changes in the technology which were proposed by some external consultants and suppliers.

While the plans were discussed at the CXO level, Mr.Y felt that one the new technologies which was being proposed need to be checked up for its suitability by me, as he knew vaguely the experience and expertize that I had in this field. Perhaps he asked some one in his Secretariat to get me involved but they did not do it that time. His management style had somehow made his Secretariat capable of deciding what the Chief should see and decide !

Sometime later, when we met accidentally in another forum, he tried hard to discuss the matter with me, but he could not spell out the technical issue properly as was not able to recollect it fully.
The plans of modernization went ahead and got implemented and the some commissioning bottlenecks were experienced for the newly modernized facility. Again  in some other top decision making forums Mr Y desired that I should be called and my opinion should be taken before one of the new systems which came up as a new modification is actually put to use. This time perhaps he desired it because of the difficulties felt in getting this new facility commissioned together with the larger production facility that got renovated. Again none actually took him serious, though I was informally informed of this development by another top officer of the company who is privy to the high level meetings chaired by Mr.Y.

I was not involved in the said project in any way. Yet, I felt that this was some thing important and I should have a look in to it for the greater interest of my company. So, I studied the whole issue independently and found that the new facility which was going to be incorporated was to create a greater technical problem later, seriously affecting the plant life and productivity. Technically, the new system which was going to be installed was not at all required and if incorporated as such was going to cause a major bottleneck after some time, instead of having the benefits as envisaged.

So, I met the top officer who communicated the issue to me and informed him of the consequences the company would have and gave my technical advice of not incorporating this new system. But this officer informed me that it was such an issue that he would not be in a position to inform Mr Y. He advised me to meet the Chief Executive, if possible. So I made attempts to meet him, but his Secretariat denied me permission by citing various reasons of pre-occupation and busy schedules of Mr.Y. It is to be remembered that they knew our previous relations and about the desire that he expressed to get my technical views.

Then the last thing left to me was sending a direct message to him. I did that too, hoping that the persons in his Secretariat would judge that an important one and bring that to his notice.

Apparently that did not happen. Shortly, the new facility was commissioned. I remember telling a few of my colleagues about the blunder made and the possible failure of the production facility in the near future.

It happened the way I thought. The iron making facility which was renovated by spending huge amounts have been spending millions again and again to off set the problems that kept developing. Major investments are being done and productivity is affected adversely. The facility which was created to produce crude iron trouble free for at least a couple of future decades is failing every now and then. Much money and efforts are spent to keep it running with frequent shut downs and  repairs.

During the short period of about two years as the CXO, many apparently invisible acts of Mr.X made the company fare very well in the next many years. His acts had a long term positive effect. I have knowledge of many such things and in a few other cases also I was personally involved.

Mr.Y remained in the seat of the CXO for nearly four years. He got a good working company to manage. But the way he performed his function as the chief executive mostly caused long term negative impact on the company. Though he had left the position, his style of management had set in a negative slide for the company.

What was the personality trait that made it possible for Mr.X to effect a better future for the company?

What was the personality trait of Mr.Y that caused the company to slide down ?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Which One Came First - the Egg or the Hen ?

Which one originated first, the egg or the hen?

Even I do not know for sure. It could be either. Such a situation in the Hindi speaking belt of India is commonly called the 'Anda Pahle-Murgi Pahle' situation.

Since this puzzle has been troubling the minds of the Indians for centuries, it has become very difficult for an Indian to accept something as original.

No Indian authority accepts any thing declared by an Indian citizen as such. It has to be certified by a great super personality who is above the citizen himself, however great the latter may be.

Now let me come to the specifics.

For example, let me cite an example of my friend whose predicament I witnessed today some time earlier. He is a top level officer in a large India government company and a civil servant by the definitions given in the constitution of India. But that civil servant definition now only applies for the purpose of punishing him for some misdeeds and not for any other purpose whatsoever.

This CPSU officer and those like him cannot be of any small help to the common public in any way even to the extent of certifying or attesting some very common documents that some other authorities of the government keep demanding from the common public even for very mundane things.

Because he is not a gazetted officer of the government ! By definition as per the legacy of the British administrative system, a gazetted officer is an officer of the government whose authority and position is published in the government gazette. Neither me nor my friend nor many like us have not even seen a gazette in our life time. It is such a rare kind of a document which is privy to some privileged people only. We might be doing many things for the country but those are not that important to be gazetted !
In the days when I was a student in the schools, I remember my plight to locate this 'super authority' of an officer called the 'gazetted officer' who is the government's agent to certify or attest copies of my mark lists and such other documents for submitting my applications to various institutions for higher studies.

Fortunately in the villages, the people knew the gazetted agents and representatives of the government authority, though they were a rare breed. Through that experience, I came to know that any government servant who drew a basic pay over Rs. 550/- per month ($ 11)  at that time was a gazetted officer ! Even with at this low pay standards, they were not very common and approachable ! The ones I learnt as approachable to some extent for me at that time were the doctor in a government health centre near our village and the head master of a government high school. You needed some high recommendation and approach to get your documents attested by these officers, but in the village that was easier than in the cities. That is what I learnt later.

These officers used to charge a fee for the attestation. It is believed that this amount is a legitimate one for them, though I am not sure about it even now.

Facing such difficulties in my life, I was thinking that I would never be a problem to the common people and instead I would help them out in such situations. But alas ! I could not. Though I became an officer of a central government company, drawing much more basic pay than many such gazetted officers, I later learnt that my position is not 'gazetted' and I am not empowered to 'help' the common man! In fact I am also a common helpless man like them !

Now imagine the situation when we were living in a city of population near a million where most of the officers connected with government are employees of our government owned company known otherwise as a central public sector undertaking or CPSU and none are 'gazetted'.

Imagine our predicament when we were running from pillar to post to locate a small time gazetted officer any where to 'attest' the documents of our own children ! I remember our children's pitiful looks on us as they learnt that we were such 'useless' officers !

With the times, the government bureaucrats slowly consolidated their powers in the hands of a few as more and more government services getting abolished or re-established or privatized.

When the governments, both the at the states and at the federal level, make laws and rules they seemed to make it with many loop holes, making the system prone to further litigation and interventions by the courts making the democratic system of India a complex one with no one in command and many in command all at the same time!

The good for nothing gimmick of attestation exercise also stands in a confused situation in India. Many authorities ask for attestation and equal number do not ask for it. Those who ask for it do not seem to understand the reason for which they demand it. They just framed the rules, copying the rules from some old rules from where the clause of 'attestation by a gazetted officer' also 'inadvertantly' got in. If you ask them, perhaps they would not be in a position to identify the 'gazetted officers' in any locality.

My good friend's son is an engineer working in a good company in Bangalore. He thought of studying further and taking a post graduate degree or diploma in management. For that he has to write a management aptitude test (MAT) conducted by a body 'authorized' to conduct it. Now this body has perhaps done every thing online and at the last minute demanded the poor chap to come to the test centre with his admission card duly filled in and pasted with his photograph and attested by a 'gazetted officer'. In Bangalore, he failed to locate a man or woman with that label who can perhaps help him and who possesses a rubber stamp and ink pad ready to 'attest'.

So he sent an SOS to his top officer dad sitting 4000 km away ! Fortunately there are so many 'gazetted' officers who move around too frequently flashing red beacon lights on their vehicles in the city we live which is capital of a state of India.

But who can dare to stop them to attest ?

Even if they are stopped will they do it ?

If some one dares to meet them in their offices will they be there ?

Now why at all the poor boy and the thousands like him need their photographs to be attested by someone who does not even know him or them?

The boy is original or the photograph?

Can you not devise a simpler method of making a foolproof system of conducting an aptitude test ?

Or for that matter any such things ?

But then please don't ask these questions in India.

Perhaps these things are devised for testing the ability of the candidates in locating rare and difficult persons of India. Who knows ?

If there is a will, there is a way.  

That is what they say!

Why I prefer Blogging with Blogger ?

When the word blog and blogging came to my notice a couple of years ago, frankly, I was not knowing its meaning. Slowly, I began to understand what it is and what it can do.

A blog as I understand now, is something in written form which is shared online in the world wide web or Internet, the technology of modern world that changed the way people lived and communicated. The voice communication technologies of modern telephony do not have the superior advantages of mass communication and information archiving facilities that the blogging technology has.

The adaptation of the Internet with this new blog creation and publishing platform has revolutionized the ways of reading and writing of people.

Monopoly of writing and publishing has crumbled and it has now come in the hands of every one, almost free of cost.

Now potential writers like me are no more subject to the whims and fancies of authoritarian editors of the so-called media, either print or online, who for so many years have been doing the subtle task of subverting the ways in which people thought or wrote.

They never allowed the thoughts of the common man to be known to others without their censoring. If a line of thought is not meeting their purpose, they would strike it down, killing the seed of the thought ever getting a chance to get germinated.

Newspapers and online magazines publish many things on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. But what they publish are solely those matters what they deemed as fit. Thus they, in a way acted as the sponsors of budding authors.

Even the common features like the 'letters to the editor' were subject to the whims of the editors. Thus those letters getting published to public gaze were the opinions of the readers what the editors agreed to be made known. I remember some instances where some of my comments of general interest getting deleted by the editors while they allowed obscene and objectionable things freely. I do not have any thing to comment on their right to discard those writings which are non-readable or of a language not normally acceptable to the society. They do have the right on that. But they also decided the content on the basis of its possible impact on the readership of their respective media.

In the final analysis, media is also a money making business. Money has to be generated to run this business. So those content that was not facilitating money making was not normally favoured.

The blogging facilities of dot com companies which thrive on the modern Internet technology are also part of some businesses. Some of them are bigger and more internationalized than the conventional media businesses.

But the good part of the blog media is that it allows somebody interested in writing to write and publish a matter almost instantaneously and fully without any draconian editor coming in between to prevent its publication.

The responsibility of the content of the blog vests fully with its author.

More over, what is published is visible to the public through the Internet pages and is archived for an infinite period visible to not only the present viewers, but also to the potential viewers of the future.

Though there are many blogging sites, Blogger in association with Blogspot, both now part of the big brother Google, is no doubt the best. That is my personal opinion.

It has some best facilities that no other blogging company has or offers.

First and foremost, it has the best hassle free technology. And keeps advancing or improving. So far I did not face any technical problem with publishing. It is really fast and friendly with your PC and the loaded software that it normally has.

Second it offers your blogs to be published in the most decent manner and you have all the desired levels of controls and tools for designing your blog page. You need not be a computer expert for this.

You can edit, delete your blogs or the comments from your readers at any time. You can also keep the drafts of your blogs, in fact many drafts at a time, on your dashboard indefinitely till you decide to publish them.

You don't incur any expenses in publishing your blogs, except the Internet charges that you pay. Additionally your blog page does not get bombarded by advertisements without your permission. The Google AdSense is ofcourse there for those blog authors who desire to make some money provided their readers cause generation of some income by showing interest in those advertisements placed on your page through it. But for you have the absolute freedom to decide whether your page should have advertisement or not.

Your pages are and its content are searchable by the search engines or to limited audience as per your choice.

You can enrich the pages with pictures or videos if you desire.

Most importantly, Blogger allows you to know some feed backs about your readers. The total number of page views with a detailed analysis of the readership on a monthly, weekly and daily basis is one of the best features a blog author would perhaps like the most. It gives a global perspective of your readership. Again with such a superb and hassle free technology!

Nevertheless, this feed back as of now is available only to me, the author. I tried to give a link for the benefit of my readers but it failed. Because to read the feedback link, signing in is required.

Anyway for your information, my blogs on blogger with the title Rajan C Mathew's Blogs became active from July 2011, though I opened the blogger account in May 2009. My blog writings in blogger got momentum in the last two or three months only. In the last three months around 1600 page views have been registered. Leaving the page views from my own country, the major viewers are from the USA (415), Germany (100), Russia (82), France (54), Moldova (32), Latvia (25), Canada (22), Portugal (20) and Denmark (16).

The majority of blog viewers, are silent viewers. They somehow lack the enthusiasm to write their comments or express their feelings. Personally, I would feel happy if my readers do this, even when the comments are critical in nature. Comments would also give an opportunity to all readers to know mutually to some extent.

Use blogger and blogspot to the full. Best Wishes !!

[ You may also like to read this blog : Why do I write blogs ? ]

Friday, February 17, 2012

Does Satan Influence Our Minds ?

Though there are reasons for believing in the existence of invisible negative powers generally called and known as the 'Satanic forces' as opposed to the Power of God, I do not subscribe to the notion that Satan or any of such forces attributable to that name now has any power to invade my mind against my free will.

I believe in the Sovereign Power of God not only on our world but also on all and everything in our Universe.

Yet, there are powers of various kinds, seen and perhaps unseen, all around me that could be potentially harmful to me.

Certain dangers are within my own capacity to resist or avoid.

For certain other kinds, perhaps, I need the invisible super protection of God.

In what way God acts is beyond my ability to discern. So I leave it to Him !

What intrigues me is not this.

Is the so-called Satan or Satanic forces influenze the minds of people to work against the will of God to prevail on this world ?

Are the evil things what we see on this world are the results of such an influence ?

Or is it simply the result of the evil mind work of the humans of this world ?

Though a good majority of people prefer to attribute the evil that we see now in this world as due to the influence of the Satanic forces, I have a conviction to reasonably believe that the evil minds of people are more to be blamed than Satan for all the evil things that we see in this world.

In this world now, the wicked minds of people are at work rather than the 'poor satan'. Even if the latter aids in spreading the evils, it is with the full and active support of the people who willfully give up their minds to the satanic forces to invade and manipulate !

The ways of evil invaded minds at work are not always apparent to discern.

There are such atrocities which are very easy for all to label as evil. We keep hearing and seeing such things day in and day out.

But the deceptive ways of evil are not very easy to recognize and are much more dangerous. More than perpetuating direct cruelty or henious crimes, the deceptive acts prevent good works from getting done.

These are the subtle games people play ! The deceptive games of evil minds !

Some of you might have come across people who for no apparent reasons start opposing an idea which you, for all logical reasons, have found worth executing.

Perhaps you wanted to donate some money to a charitable organization. Perhaps you wanted to help a poor person. Perhaps you wanted your church committee which managed some schools or hospitals to pay better facilities to the staff instead of exploiting them just as some other greedy business men do. Perhaps you wanted to amend a byelaw of your society or trust which you honestly feel would be better for all.

You are perhaps one of those persons who could actually act to get  these good works done, but it also depends on the concurrence of some others in the concerned group.

Here comes the frustrating difficulty which you have never thought would arise.

Some of those in your concerned group, perhaps you never imagined that it could be he or she, would all of a sudden begin arguing or working against implementing the good work. A negative force appears in the scene from nowhere to oppose a decision favouring a good work.

The good idea that many of you wanted to get implemented would stand abrubptly abandoned. And your frustration would be that you never thought such oppositions would come from such people who always seemed as nice gentlemen or ladies. Sometimes your frustrations could go high because no kind of logical reasonings would make any difference. The opposition to the good idea appears too stubborn.

I had the opportunitty of talking to some such people who had stubbornly opposed certain good ideas from getting implemented.

What made me amazed was the sheer absence of any good reasoning for their behaviour. Their stubborn minds appear as if possessed ! Possessed by negative forces !

Sometimes this kind of stubbornness from some persons becomes the cause for conflicts and fights. Many house hold quarrels between husband and wife can be traced to an issue of this kind.

Is it a result of the influence of the invisible 'Satanic forces' that cause such attitudes in some people ?

Only those people can say. They only know the reasons for opposing good works !

If you are stubborn to some issue even without your own logical mind could reason out, then possibly you should doubt satanic invasion of your mind. Knowingly or unknowingly your mind is 'invaded'.

But God has designed you to be free willed. Unlike Satan, God does not change his rules every now and then.

If you allow Satan to pervade your mind,  it is again your own free will choice !

Deceptive ways of Satan will work only when you allow such a thing to happen !

Unfortunately for those who have fallen to such deceptions, it is not very easy to come out of it.

Because their minds are filled with pride and ego, another all pervading 'gift' from the forces opposing God. A gift that makes their minds not yielding to the corrective tools that God has so gracefully provided to them!