Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Third Generation Company:

Years ago when I was working for reliance I read a book written by John Scully. The book was called Odyssey: From Pepsi to Apple. John Scully has written about his personal journey from being the youngest vice president of Pepsi to becoming the CEO of Apple. He describes the Cola wars, how team meetings and board meetings were conducted in Pepsi, The stress that he had to handle there and how eventually Pepsi got a better market share than Coca Cola based on these policies. Further down the book he describes his meetings with Steve jobs and Steve Wozniak and his experiences in Apple as the company’s CEO.

But the point which did capture my imagination was his description of First generation, Second generation and third generation companies. The first generation companies are as per him like the Coal mines which operated during the late ninetieth century. Places where the employees receive little respect and even little salary. Where the employees are treated more like animals of burden. A second generation company was something like Pepsi Co. Here the employees were treated with a respect and given good salaries, but were considered nothing more than accessories for the growth of the organization. The personal growth of the employee and the growth of the Organization were two different things. It was a place where the manager’s cabin was made of glass, but the company policies were hardly transparent. Employees got to know management decisions at the last minute and were expected to wear a tie in the office. But then in the 1970’s a new generation of companies rose in the US. This group he put under the third generation companies.

A third generation company has more open poliies and treat their employees like assets rather than accessories. Give them the freedom to learn and work the way they wanted. Allow them to have plans for their own betterment and assist them for it. Unlike a 2G organization which had many filters were each filter could say no to a particular decision, here decisions could be taken up by the individual. Of course the individual has more responsibilities, but he is also given the authority to execute them well. Apple as per him belonged to this category. It was an Organization were many employees spoke freely about dreams of opening their own companies without fear and resignations were never a problem for managers. As the company’s growth and success was linked to the individuals growth Apple became a fortune 500 company in a very short period.

And my mind I wondered during that time as to what it would be like to work in an organization like that. I was employed at Reliance during that time. A company which could hardly be called a Second generation Organization. It was more like a 1.5G organization. I felt stagnated and my growth was impeded. Bootlickers and Sycophants were in abundance. I was fortunate that my Boss much better than the rest of the senior management but none the less I felt frustrated by my work. But luck has its way. Based on the experience and knowledge I gathered at Reliance I got a job in ECI. Now I know at least how it is to work for an 2.5G organization. Just like Apple, ECI India’s growth has also been phenomenal. From a meager 5 million dollars in 2002 to 125 Million in 2008. It has grown more than 20 times in 6 years. In ECI individuals do feel free to take decisions and growth is not impeded by concepts like work experience and seniority. Everyone knows their role in the organization and aspires to do better. Employees are taken for annual meetings (or should I say annual holidays) to exotic places and given five star treatment. Team bonding is very high and discussions are always fruitful.

This radical shift in they way people are managed was probably always inevitable. The world is becoming a more and more competitive place and for a organization to succeed the employees have a huge role to play. Second generation concepts no longer hold good if a organization wants to grow at a rapid pace. Individual cannot be treated as mere accessories. My only hope is that Indian comapnies would learn from organizations like Apple or Google or for that matter ECI before it is too late.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

The Story of India:

Today As I gaze outside my window on a fine Saturday morning I see a small child being taken care of by the maid server. The child seldom seems to go inside and it appears as though he is waiting for his parents to return. I believe both of them work leaving the kid under the care of the maid servant. And My mind wonders yet again; Is this the story of India ???

Well I don’t think that the story of India is that of the mother who has to leave the kid in the hands of someone else against all her wishes and instincts for the betterment of her family. Nor is it the story of the father, who slogs day and night to give his family a better life. Nor is it the story of the kid who is perennially waiting for a glimpse of his parents outside the window. A wait that will go on for another five years before he is accepts the fact they will be home only for dinner. The Story of India is the story of the pre teen maid servant who has to take care of the kid. Do all the household chores. Give up on education and commit herself to a life wherein she might never get a chance to become a doctor or an engineer or a nurse. India’s story is the story of the little girl who has to work for some unknown reason, whose childhood is full of challenges and difficulties which I have still not faced in my life. It is the story of a Childhood lost in the quest of survival or possibly for the betterment of her siblings or even worse a greedy father who wants money for alcohol. Whatever it may be the real culprits in this case are the parents who employed her.

Nothing can justify employing a small girl for work other than the fact they are too selfish to shell some extra money and employ a mid aged woman who can truly take care of the kid. This act of employing a pre teen girl is as bad for the kid as it is for the little girl. The India government provides for free education for kids. For girls it is free up to college. They also provide midday meals to students who attend government schools. A meal which is balanced well enough for the mental and physical development of the child. There are organizations like CRY whose entire focus is on betterment of the poor by educating the young. Bharati has launched a new campaign to educate the girl child.

I have always felt that a country’s development depends on the number of educated people and not the percentage of literates. A literate is the one who can just read a news paper while an educated man will be able to act on what he reads. See beyond the obvious and distinguish the right from wrong. The parents of the child probably feel that they are doing a great service to the family of the girl by employing her and giving her money and food. They probably feel no remorse for the destruction of the girls childhood. These uneducated people who have employed the girl should be treated as criminals and nothing less. Their crime is comparable to that of murder and other grave offences.

My belief that India will be a prosperous country with equal opportunities for all diminishes when I see such atrocities. However I hope one day I will also proudly call myself an educated individual and do something to stop this rather then just close my curtains and look the other way killing all hopes for a better life for the girl.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

The illuminated Iliad ! ! !

A week ago I got my iLiad ….

I have been vying for this for the last six months. It arrived on Tuesday and ever since I have not been able to keep it down. One sad thing about it was that it does not support PPPoE. I have not yet connected it to the iDS. But all said and done it is a great device.

I have been reading “Moonseed”, a science fiction book written by Stephen Baxter on my iLiad . I can’t help wondering that the iliad it self is something of out science fiction for me. I got my first Computer when I was 20 years old. Till then I was working on my college PC and building 16 bit applications in Pascal and turbo C. Eight years down the line I own my own e-book reader with a touch screen. Astonishingly it is faster and cheaper than the fist PC I bought. I guess as long as Moore’s Law remains valid, I will very soon own a colour tablet PC of that size with a lot more features within the next five years. I am a die hard fan of the Star Trek series. I never imagined that one day I will be carrying a digital pad like Captain Jean luke Picard or Geordi La Forge did. Guess the next thing to expect is a communicator like the one they have in the series (or may be it already is available for a huge cost).

It’s been fun using the iLiad. I can write notes, keep a personalized dairy and make annotations on the PDF. The last one week has been very amusing for me exploring the different features in the iLiad and reading books in it. I went though some technical docs which described how E-ink technology works. Guess the technology is still in its nascent stage and a lot of work needs to be done in that direction. I am a little disappointed as the iLiad takes some time open books in html format and annotations are only enabled for PDF files and not other formats. Also the page flip speed is not up to the mark. But I find the reading experience better than paper backs. The internal memory is only 256MB out of which only 128MB can be accessed by the user. A CF card or a MMC card is a must if you want to keep a lot of online books on it. One really amazing feature of the iLiad is zoom for PDF files. Most of the PDF files are formatted in A4 size and the iLiad is roughly A5 size.

As time goes by I may face problems with the contrast and other stuff which users have written about in iLiad Forums. But for now, my new toy is keeping me quite busy.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Of Indomania and Indophillia ………

Today I was watching “The Last King Of Scotland”. The movie did show the historic extradition of all Asians from Uganda. There were around 50000 South Asians living in Uganda at that time. And my Mind wandered off thinking as to how many times Indians faced such problems. I had but one way of knowing, by searching for it in the Internet.

I was not particularly thinking of how many Hindus have been prosecuted in India or abroad because of their faith. There are many such instances. Of course there is Aurangazeb who was possibly the worst ruler any country ever had. His religious prosecution saw no limits. There were the Portuguese who have even cut hands of people worshiping Hindu gods. However I was more interested in finding out how many Indians irrespective of their religion have been a target of ethnic cleansing abroad.

I work for an Israeli company and have seen how strongly the Jews feel not just about the holocaust but also about the event where there were expelled from their homeland by the Romans in the 1st century and had to face innumerable difficulties up to the 20th century because of it. Even now in the 21st century Antisemitism does not seem to die. Did the Indian Diaspora ever suffer like this? I searched the Internet for Answers. Of course other than the few exceptions in Uganda or the Fiji Islands, the Indians living abroad have faced fewer problems. The latest concern for us is Malaysia. It has been reported that around 4000 temples have been brought down and the Indians living there face discrimination in every day life. These are however unconfirmed.

Indophillia is by and large a more recent thing. It started when the British captured Bengal and everything Bering the name of India became a fad in Britain. People tried to find out more about India’s history and culture. They also visited India to understand and see for themselves what they were reading so much about. It is this impression of British India that the rest of the world still believes in. Hindu Philosophy did gain a high level of acceptance when Swami Vivekananda went to the USA. Oppenheimer quoted from the Bhagwad Gita after the Manhattan project was a success. Bollywood movies have made in roads in possibly every European and American country. But the notions about India still refuse to disappear.

The image of India remains that of a land of snake charmers and extreme poverty in the west. With a population of around 1.2 billion and about 23 % of them living below the poverty line this perception is not completely false. However it is not the complete truth. Four of the top ten richest People are Indians. India has the largest Middle class, it is the largest democracy, it speaks around 25000 languages and it has more than 200 different Religions and cultures. I see India more as a mini encyclopedia of the world. India is possibly the only county which has shown against all odds that Secularism and democracy do work in chorus. Mark twain once remarked about India that, “The one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.”

The perception of the world about India maybe changing, but I guess it will take another 100 years for them to come in terms with reality.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Here come the Rains ……….

The monsoons have arrived in Mumbai, It has hit Mumbai around 3 to 4 days in advance, but certainly are a welcome relief to me.

The monsoon is certainly my favorite season. I wouldn’t miss the sweet smell of the soil after the first rains for anything on earth. The rains bring in with them the most pleasant memories of my life. My mind wanders of to my childhood days. I always enjoyed getting wet and dirty in the first rains as a kid. In fact it was one of the customs followed by me and my friends every year. Rains certainly meant going back to school and an end to the summer vacations. But I do not remember even a single year when I was dismayed about the rains hitting Mumbai and having to go back to school.

In his Poem “The Rainy Day”, Rabindranath Tagore mirrors the feeling of every parent when he says …

Sullen clouds are gathering fast over the black fringe of the forest.
O child, do not go out!

But I guess children are not the ones to adhere to all these rules and regulations. Yesterday when it was drizzling a bit in the evening, I could clearly hear the children playing outside yelling with joy. One look outside the window and I saw almost all the kids in my locality, jumping around the garden. Some were just enjoying the rains while others were showing off their brightly coloured umbrellas to their friends.

Today when the first heavy rains hit Bombay, the first thing I and my colleagues did was to leave our work at the desk to go down and have look at it. There were no shouts and shrieks of joy like the kids, nor did we go outside to get fully drenched. But the joy was evident in every ones eyes. There was nothing but positive and happy thoughts in our minds.

Bombay has had its share of problems with the rains. I will probably never be able to forget 26th July. I was working in Navi Mumbai back then. The long trek back to Andheri was probably the most challenging thing I have done in the last 3 years. Mumbai did come to a halt for two days and I was down for another two days on account of high fever. However these rains seldom bring back those memories. I do hope I don’t face such problems this season and get to enjoy every minute of it.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Myth called GOD ?????

Today I was debating with a close friend the Concepts of Advaita and Dvaita Vedantic Philosophy. I have always been inspired by Shri Adi Shankara‘s version of GOD and my friend is an ardent follower of Shri Madhavacharya. But later in the day my mind did wander a bit… It wandered off to a book which I had read some time back and which challenged my concept of GOD through logic and science.

“Myth” has it etymological origins in the word “Mythya”. The word means False or untrue in Sanskrit. The search for truth in Hinduism is akin to the search for GOD. As Per Hinduism the one and only truth is GOD. Richard Dawkins in his Book “The GOD Delusion” certainly questions this so called fundamental truth to a huge extent. His reasoning is clear and his logic is flawless. Questioning your faith in GOD is the most difficult thing to do. When I discussed this book with my friends most of them were shocked that one book could make me challenge my beliefs. When I asked them to read the book for themselves, one of them was not even willing to touch the book fearing reprisal from GOD. The book converted me from a normal non fanatical believer in GOD to an agonistic. But being an agonistic was never simple. I was not able to accept the fact that my life had no purpose and that I would account to nothing after death and that no part of me would survive once I am burnt in the pyre. It was at this time that as more forcefully drawn to the Advaita philosophy.

I do think I am at peace with GOD for now. I probably have a few answers to the questions raised by Richard Dawkins. However I am still far off from convincing myself beyond doubt that GOD is not just a Myth invented by Man. My own introspection convinces me that there will never come a time in human history when the belief in God is done away with. Many Science fiction writers do imagine a world were the GOD delusion is abandoned once and for all. But I find this hard to accept. Man has always sought GOD in some form or the other. He has sacrificed himself and killed others in his quest for seeking him. Now I would like to point out that the gender of God is another totally different debate. But that is a question I will ask myself once I am convinced of the existence of GOD.

Religion still plays an important part in the legal system of every country. It can have a positive or a negative impact on the people of the country. There are nations where in you can be hanged for questioning and not believing in a particular type of GOD prescribed by the Government. The surprising thing is that the same is true in Communist countries like China where the government promotes the abandonment of the concept of GOD. Of course in their Case GOD is General Mao Zedong. Criticize him at your own peril. They are no more rational than fanatical countries like Iran.

GOD has always been the corner stone of Culture and tradition. Religion the bane of all evils we face in society. These two have always existed and will continue to exist. Our quest to find the purpose of life, if there is one will finally end with GOD. But will we ever be able to distinguish between Truth and Myth? Will we ever get a definitive answer to the question “Does GOD Exist”? I am sure I will not get an answer for this question in my lifetime.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Re-Igniting Blogs

Its been a very long time since I actually wrote a blog (not that 2 was a large number to begin with), But Recent events seem to inspire (or should I say Instigate) me to write again.

A Lot has changed since I wrote my last blog. I see more and more of my friends writing something every day. Pouring their hearts out and being much more honest about their feelings in blogs. I get to see a different person whenever I read a blog written by my friend. I read AB’s Interview in which he has said that writing Blogs is like opening my doors to everyone. I believe that was one of the reasons why I did stop writing. I did receive a lot of flak for the first two I wrote. People laughing and pointing the futility of bringing out petty issues like media not being responsible and letting people known how successful the T20 World Cup was, When they already knew it J . But I must add here that Amir Khan and AB are also not spared for writing their thoughts in blogs.

So I sat again today to gather my thoughts (messy thoughts). Which wander without purpose; which has no need to stay in one place for more than a minute, which can travel huge distances in seconds and look into the minds and hearts of people…..

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