Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Captivity of Negativity

An hour of watching news on TV will leave you with a feeling of resentment; there is very little to cheer it would appear.  Why even , the ardent Indian cricket fan's shoulders have sagged after a dismal show recently. Throw in the news of the  mysterious disappearance of the  Boeing 777 and you have a motley of well..."Breaking News" to choose from.

No surprise then, that along with the e-commerce, TV news consumption is growing at breakneck speed while the brakes have been put on economic progress of the country. There is an air of despondency just about everywhere.Without a shadow of doubt, one of the chief reasons for the slowdown is the structural impediments in the form of infrastructure(the lack of it). That notwithstanding, the problem of low productivity of the employed work force cannot be understated.  Gallup recently conducted a survey in India measuring the job satisfaction of Indians; level of stickiness they call it and the results showed that over the last ten years, the level of dissatisfaction has gone up by close to 10 times. While dissatisfaction stemming from lack of jobs is understandable, the manifold increase in dissatisfaction levels of those with jobs is disconcerting.

It is also worth observing that India's engaged workforce as a percentage of total workforce at 9% is less than half of the engaged workforce percentage in  developed markets. What is more worrying is that the percentage of highly disenchanted workforce in India is as high as 31%, higher than developed nations as well as emerging nations.

India’s Employee Engagement Challenge

Those enlightened souls who do not believe in stats can look at their friend groups transcending companies/sectors. I am confident the results will concur to a large extent with the above findings.

So now that the hypothesis has been corroborated, let us delve further. There could be various reasons for the prevailing disillusionment. It would be fair to not paint every disenchanted soul with the same brush. For some it could be an issue with work being assigned to which does not match up to his/her expectation. For some other, working style might not be in sync with the boss or the company. For another, it may be a feeling that his/her effort is not appreciated, given the constraints. There are many other reasons.

Most of the reasons have one thing in common -a lack of leadership. Unfortunately, the chasm between the superior and the subordinate is deeply rooted in our culture. While some would point to benefits for the organization from this chasm, there is a notion that a lack of communication stems from this distance. This lack of communication between the boss and his/her subordinate, if it exists,can be detrimental to the organization. We see several instances of strategists at the top coming out with great strategies, only to see nothing or very little  happening on the ground. Why? It is the disconnect between the planner and the doer, the strategist and the implementer, the boss and the subordinate. Companies with strong leadership do not allow such scenarios to develop. Pareto's principle is applicable here as well -80% of the organization's value add is done by 20% of its workforce( you can make it 70-30  or 65-35 but the point stands) While it is not possible to derive the same output from every employee, it is worth making an effort. That is what managers are there for, are n't they? Ask yourself this, is your boss adding value to you? If the answer is yes, you are lucky. If the answer is no, you ought to be looking for a change.

To conclude, I quote a statement which I felt was very simple yet powerful -

The difference between a manager and a leader  : A manager gets people to do what needs to be done while a leader gets people to want to do what needs to be done. Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communicate.' - Warren Bennis.

We need leaders, NOW!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Its "Bharat" vs India

"If you show meat to a shark, what do you expect?". Thats the mindset of "Bharat" today; not Bharat mind you. Do note the difference for Bharat espouses tolerance, respect for individuals, restraint, sacrifice while "Bharat" stands for hypocrisy, arrogance, intolerance, didacticism. Unfortunately, Bharat has been losing to "Bharat" every day. This is not a recent phenomenon. Its been happening since the Late Vedic Age if i remember my school history lessons correctly(respect for women was there in the early Vedic age but that gradually disappeared with time). The Hindu wedding based on Vedic rituals has a part wherein "Kanyadaan" is done by the bride's parents. Is a woman an object to be given away? Clearly, Bharat is almost extinct today, what we have is "Bharat", getting stronger and louder by the day.  This "Bharat" cannot digest the concept of  independent, outgoing, modern girl/woman. What makes matters worse, is the hypocrisy. The very same people who preach "noble values" actually dont imbibe them. Unfortunately, this is true as a society too. If I were to go back to where I started, we as a society are like sharks who pretend to be dolphins and starve ourselves of  the meat( meant for sharks) to keep the act.together. So, when the meat(which is not meant for sharks) is seen and no one is watching, we show our true colours.

So whats the answer? Stop the act. If we don't "Bharat" will win over India. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Tennis - A beautiful game

Pete Sampras's serve, Roger Federer's forehand, Richard Gasquet's backhand - all three had one thing in common - grace. Infact almost all pros have that poise just before contact. Even Marat Safin's booming serves had that quality; it is that quality that separates the wheat from the chaff. By grace, I mean looking unrushed which means getting into a position early. Federer at his peak looked the most unrushed player on the circuit, yet his court coverage was on par with the best. How? Because he could anticipate the ball so well, his first step gave him the extra time.

It makes sense to do better than to do more.

As an amateur tennis player, I remember our coach shouting at us to make the groundstrokes look effortless. Two years on, i feel it is the single most important thing in tennis. Ofcourse you would need a sound technique to make it look "effortless" whether its a serve, or a groundstroke or a volley.

It really is a beautiful game. Tennis with its subtleties can sound too complicated, I find it fascinating. There is biomechanics intertwined with a feel for the ball. Andy Murray with a "drop shot here, a drop shot there" has an amazing feel for the ball. It is scary the control the pros possess. They can virtually place the ball on a coin.

Its a real shame that tennis in this country is an elitist's game. I mean for proper coaching and membership of a club, you have to pay through your nose. The last few years have seen many academies opening up trying to bridge this demand -supply gap. With greater awareness through media, rising disposable incomes and most importantly increased emphasis on fitness, tennis is only going to grow here. As with just about everything in this country, pricing will be the key.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Indian Cricket: Way Ahead

If you are an Indian you are bound to have views about the Indian cricket team, here are mine -

Tendulkar to stop playing ODIs after 2011 World Cup
Am a staunch Tendulkar fan, but cant see how this wont work for him. With less travelling as a result, he can give rest to his body and focus on Test cricket

Pujara bats at No. 3 and Rahul at 6
Not because Rahul is not playing well but because there has to be a smooth transition or India is going to meet the same fate as Australia where the new guys look lost without the experience of seniors to fall back on.

Sreesanth to play only Test matches
His natural ball is the outswinger inviting the batsmen to drive. In ODIs which are often played on placid pitches the length required is just short of a good length most of the time meaning he has to adjust and bowl a much shorter length than his normal full length. Swing bowlers are rare and they need to be handled with care. Story of one Irfan Pathan. Sound familiar?

Play lesser ODIs and more test matches
BCCI has made enough money to design and send a space shuttle to Jupiter! It is test cricket that will harden your cricketers and find you your future stars. Sachin, Saurav, Rahul, Kumble, VVS, Zaheer, Sehwag - you name them, all of them established themselves in Test cricket first.

Rahul, Sachin, VVS - they must not retire in the same year
The transition has to be smooth. These three heavyweights when they retire they will leave a hole in any side. By having a phased exit, the youngsters can be groomed when one/two of the trio is still around.

Sehwag to bat in the middle order when one of the trio retires
Agreed Viru has been very successful at the top opening the innings, but I believe he would have scored more runs had he batted in the middle order when the shine of the ball has been removed.

Preparing sporty wickets for first class matches
Self explanatory

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2010: The year that was

Ten Memorable moments/events of 2010 (not in order)

  1. Spending new year's eve and the new year with family
  2. 3000+ kms ride from IMT Ghz to Vikramgarh and back(RMX)
  3. Sachin Tendukar's 50th Test ton
  4. Nadal winning at Roland Garros and Wimbledon
  5. Me hitting 25 runs in an over!
  6. A week long sojourn at Bangalore and another one at Hyderabad - two places I love
  7. Bro getting final offer from Bain & Co
  8. Saying no to Infi and IT
  9. The prospect of me having a career in automobiles
  10. Winning the Tennis leg of LoT
PS: Wishing everyone a very happy and successful 2011

Monday, 13 December 2010

Theory of random randomness

Axiom: Everything is not random
The converse holds true viz. random is not everything.

Theorem: Everything is randomly random.

Corollary to the theorem:
Good fortune, bad fortune are nothing but illusions to appease oneself. If one is around for a while, there will be instances of the other side of fortune;good/bad thus cancelling the earlier bad/good side.

Ever wondered why the most successful men/women have had to come through "difficult" times?

The earth is flat indeed!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

League of Titans: Tennis Final

"You could cut the tension with a knife"

Apropos the LOT Tennis final 2010, the above statement best describes the final.

We, B1, were pitted against A(junior section). The format of the tie -three singles( 2 men's and one ladies' singles) followed by men's doubles and mixed doubles. Team winning first three rubbers would win the tie. Each rubber was a best-of-7 -games with a minimum difference of 2 and a tie breaker at 4-4.

Match 1: Akash(A) vs me(B1)

I won the toss and chose to serve. The start was a lousy one for me with a barrage of unforced errors. Akash for his part played well. No errors while I kept making them. Serving too disintegrated and in no time I was 3-0 down staring down the barrel. That is when I decided to chuck plan A and adopt plan B. Plan A was to play my natural game which was just not flowing that day. So, over to plan B which meant I went with the top spin serve for both the serves and deeper ground strokes without going for the lines (which I was missing anyway), even if it meant longer rallies. The ploy worked and I managed to bring the score to 3-3. It was 4-4 and a tiebreaker ensued. The nerves were jangling alright. I got behind in the tie breaker too and had to fight my way back. Serving to save a match point in the tie breaker, my first serve went long. Return error from Akash on my second serve levelled the score and I somehow managed to eke out a couple more points giving me the match. What a relief! Personally for me, the win provides some succour after last year's agonizing loss in the final. That said my game was way below par for best part of the match. Just hung in there and got lucky to scrape through. Phew! Talk about getting out of jail.(i was 3-0 down after a lousy start). It was more of a grinding match, not the free flowing game with winners that you associate in a final. In that sense, I guess I would have disappointed my classmates/friends with a "slow match" interspersed with very few winners(none on the backhand side). Having said that its still a win and I ll take it. Hard luck Akash. You were almost there.

Match 2: Himanshu(B1) and Akarsh(A)

Himanshu was in great form in the semi-finals. However this match presented a different challenge to deal with Akarsh who was adept at chopping and coming to the net very intelligently. Himanshu tried his best to adjust to the lack of pace but could n't. Akarsh's movement to the net and the finishing was too good. Akarsh won this rubber 4-2 and levelled the tie at 1-1.

Match 3: Bhanu(B1) vs Deepti(A)

This was a crucial match for both the sides as the tie was poised at 1-1. Bhanu took the initiative early with penetrating shots and romped to an early lead. Deepti actually played well, quite well. It was just that Bhanu had discovered her A-game (no pun intended). 4-1 the scoreline in favour of Bhanu at the end of this match.

B1 in the lead at 2-1

Match 4: Devesh/Himanshu(B1) vs Akash/Akarsh(A)

Devesh got his booming serves going but returns kept coming from the other end. The unforced errors were coming from B1. A took the lead 3-2 after it was 2-2. Playing with confidence the duo Akash and Akarsh took the match 4-2.

It was level pegging at 2-2 now and the tie would go down to the last rubber - mixed doubles.

Match 5: Devesh/Bhanu (B1) vs Abhishek/Deepti (A)

It would be fair to say that B1 clearly had the edge in this match. Bhanu was playing her best tennis and matching Abhishek shot for shot and even managed to win a few rallies prompting one of the supporters of A to shout out to "target the man". The B1 supporters went delirious with laughter at this interjection. Devesh was solid as ever and we won the match 4-0 and with it the tie and the tournament. It was one humdinger of a tie. It was 4 AM by the time the match finished.

Huge relief after losing last year's match. Well played team - Himanshu, Bhanu, Devesh. The win was a complete team effort.

To my team mates:

Bhanu: You were overconfident in the semis and justifiably so given the dearth of competition in the previous rounds but you bounced back to win from 3-1 down. In the finals you surpassed yourself and took your game to a new level.

HSM: Fabulous show. Strong consistent performance throughout tournament. Your game in the semifinal in particular was excellent and it was a critical win given that the next match(of Bhanu) turned out to be really close

Devesh: It was great to have you in the finals. Your involvement mattered a lot in the final result.

To B1 supporters:

Thanks a ton for showing up, braving the cold. Your support made the difference in what was a pulsating final.

To my juniors - Akash, Akarsh,Abhishek and Deepti- you folks will win next year. Hard luck this time around. Well played!

To the chair umpire Baiju and the line judges good job done.

Last and not the least, SportsCom, well you guys rock!