Category Archives: Leadership

Goa Institute of Management offers Certificate Workshop on Integrated Digital Marketing

Standard

Workshop Highlights:

– Interact with leading industry experts and academicians in interactive sessions with Live case studies.
– Understand the digital channels landscape and strategise online marketing, branding and PR.
– Obtain a practical toolkit on digital marketing to help you plan, roll out and measure digital campaigns.
– Get exposure to latest and most relevant digital marketing trends that leading corporates adopt today
– Accelerate your career with industry-led, Digital marketing workshop
– Work on a live digital marketing project

Duration: 25-27 April, 2014

Venue: Pune

For more details and enrolment see this.

Advertisements

The stiletto index

Standard

I have been involved in a bizarre experiment for the last few days. I have bought myself a pair of 6 inch heels – stilettos as they are generally called and have taught myself to walk gracefully in them. I now have a stiletto score for all cities I have visited since I bought this pair. A ndIndian cities as I expected performed pretty low as the heels attracted everything from nasty potholes to catcalls. What, pray, is the purpose, you will ask me?

I have a hypothesis. A carefully thought through one which is supported by elementary data. That the development of a place can be measured by the ‘stiletto index’. That is the percentage of people who wear stilettos. Or the number of stiletto sales in a year. Or a permutation thereof. As the sensex tells you the economic health of the country, the stiletto index’ gives you a measure of lot more. Economic health. Yes. My survey of 20 shoe-shop owners across the metros have shown a link between economic growth and stiletto sales. As India grew economically, more and more women splurged on these luxuries. The demand is highly elastic with respect to factors such as GDP and per capitia income. Social index. Definitely. That distinct sound as you walk down the corridor in your stilettos. That power statement that the shoes make. The blatant sex appeal. You would not wear stilettos unless you are empowered and unapologetic about your power and sexuality. In other words, stiletto sales are an indicator of where women stand in your society and show the social development index of a country. I remember a Sherlock Holmes story where the master sleuth deduced the mystery on the basis of the shoes the female protagonist wore. Shoes are a clear indicator of a woman’s social status, opined he. And we agree. Stilettos are also an indicator of a country’s infrastructure development index. How many women are brave enough to wear stilettos to work when they know they have to brave over-crowded buses, pot-holed roads and other such oddities waiting to trip you up? Political index? One thing for sure you would not wear stilettos in turbulent political times. No matter how acrobatic you are, running in the 6 inch heels is still a challenge. Statistics tell me- and this one is from a friend who runs a shoe shop in London- is stiletto sales fell during and after the London riots. A corporate trying to break into a market can do a one-shot PESTL analysis by looking at the stiletto sales figures. A little trick that theiir consultants can use to reduce their months of market research. If there is a market for stilettos in the country, rest assured the country atleast scores high on the development index. And you would do well to target your promotions at the women there, because they are most likely making a lot of purchasing decisions.

Ofcourse like with any index there’s the counter-argument. Feminists argue stilettos actually constrain a woman, not liberate her. They are the western world’s equivalent of a burqa. They impose the stereotypical image of a woman’s beauty. There is possibly some truth in this. Still the correlation between the stiletto sale and the development index is too strong, to be ignored. Infact I recommend that economists get immediately down to creating the stiletto graph – the insights will be mindboggling. And can lead you to much more than the missing Cinderella.

Thank You, Mom: The Power of Emotions

Standard

A white. An African. An Asian. Ordinary women. Extraordinary mothers. Who woke up early in the morning so that their children could go out to practise. Who washed and cooked and cleaned as the children chased their dreams. Who bandaged wounded legs. Boosted hurt morales. And was always there. As the daughter or son does the podium finish, she is there in the stands shedding tears of unbridled happiness. The regular woman. The extraordinary emotions of the most beautiful relationship on earth-that of a mother and the child. Emotions that moved me to tears as I watched the video. Knowing that this was part of an advertisement campaign from a hard-nosed FMCG company who, as I watched the video, counted the efficacy of the campaign in hard numbers. Yet for those two minutes I was back in my childhood. With my mom who was always the invisible force in our lives. Who woke up before the sun did so that we never missed the school bus, who sweated in the kitchen so that we could show off our tiffin to our classmates, who gave up getting that fancy gold necklace so that we could go to that expensive summer camp. And when we finished on the podium or won those trophies, she was there in the audience clapping , crying laughing, and telling everyone who cared to listen – There. She is my daughter.

As these gamut of images run through my mind, I go back to the P&G campaign. Such a simple yet such a powerful premise. An initiative to bring moms to cheers for their children in the Olympics. Coming from India, where several sportspeople belong to the sections of the society who can ill-afford a ticket to London, I can see the immense impact the initiative has. With the ad saluting the world’s most difficult job, the brand has achieved the connect all brands aspire for- a strong emotional bond with its many customers. Shorn of the emotion, the products that P&G sell are but inseparable from the gamut of FMCG products flooding the market. What is tide but an inexpensive detergent powder to wash the unbecoming laundry? But in the hands of the mother, it becomes that one way to make sure that the jersey her son is wearing to his first major race is sparkling white – it becomes a talisman, a miracle-maker. Or the shampoo she uses to wash her hair – the one luxury she allows herself while going to watch the annual school events where her daughter comes on stage. The strong emotions associated with motherhood infuse P&G with a stature, a persona, an attachment which far transcends utility. I look at a few other campaigns which have played heavily on emotions. Dove’s-Every woman is beautiful campaign. Or the Surf Excel-Daag accha hai campaign which celebrates the freedom of childhood. Or the legendary Nike ads celebrating the hard work, the grime and the intensity of emotions behind success in sports. As I scourge through lists of campaigns we have been bombarded with, only a few stand out in terms of emotional connect. But those that do have managed to build enduring loyalty and relationships by first creating and then filling emotional vacuum through their powerful messaging. The ones that you automatically reach for while out on your monthly grocery shopping. Or while replacing your old pair of shoes.

Yes, it is difficult to create an emotional connect with a regular everyday product. Inspire strong feelings around a detergent powder or a bar of soap for example. Brands do it by shifting the focus away from the base product, creating instead a powerful set of characters, stories, imageries, memories and associations with the product wired in somewhere or even receding into the background. As the P&G ad does. Evoking a strong resonance in every mother. And every child who has grown up with the safety of the mother’s love. Whether or not P&G’s numbers get bolstered by the campaign will be probably a key indicator of the success of the campaign. However through an initiative, howsoever profit driven the objectives maybe, to bring the invisible mothers to the front, P&G has endeared itself to the world. By saying what we miss in the furore of the day – Thank you Mom

Good Music. Bad Noise

Standard

The mobile alarm screeches and screams. Despite the extent of evolution of the acoustics in mobile phones, the alarm always manages to sound like a terrible assault on the olfactory nerves. Bad noise. You wake up noticing vaguely a strange bird on your balcony singing its heart out. Good music. The songs are drowned in the noise of the traffic which scares the bird away. Bad noise. You are met on the breakfast table by an angry spouse who has a few curt words for coming in late yesterday evening- it was your anniversary. Bad noise. Which obliterates the little chap eager to talk to you. Good usic. You tune in to the television to be assaulted with a series of breaking news on violent crimes from the night that was. Bad noise. Ignore the radio playing Rafi classics in the background. Good music. As you move through the day, the pattern continues. The heated debate with the boss on the raise drowns out the thump on the backs by the colleagues for brilliantly executing a project. The deluge of perfunctory emails eclipses that one text message from the spouse saying he/ she is sorry about the morning tiff and suggesting a romantic dinner. The overwhelming desire to keep abreast with all your connections on social media shuts out the good-natured neighbour offering you juicy mangoes from his hometown. The bad noise shutting out the good music. Ensuring you are home after a long day feeling excitable, irritated and unhinged. With a swarm of noises in your head fighting to assert their importance. While the good guys – the little bird, the child, the neighbour all walk around on the periphery trying to make themselves heard. And failing miserably.
Ofcourse you are not to blame. Each of the bad noises is too powerful to be ignored. They scream, they shout, they assert themselves till they crowd out all the melodies you could have filled in. All of them require urgent attention. You are almost tuned in to respond to some of them for example emails inexplicably marked with the ‘urgent’ sign. Or even the facebook messages though they maybe from friends you barely know in real life. The information-hungry world conditions you to be alert to all these stimuli, constantly reminding you of the necessity to stay plugged in to absorb the last packet of communication or information thrown at you. Helped on by a hyperactive set of invisible elves which create a humongous amount of data that unobtrusively creeps into your life. Along with the angry boss, the indignant spouse and the noisy traffic. Ofcourse the sources of noise do not always wear angry faces as in the example of Facebook solidarity I talked about. The relentless emphasis on networking make you concentrate on building huge lists of superficial relationships which have to be sustained by less than meaningful interactions throughout the day. We live in a pseudo social world where we choose chatter over meaningful interactions, measure our social worth in terms of breadth rather than depth. No wonder when we are home we gloss over dinner table conversations and skip over the playtime with the child. We are saturated by the time in terms of conversations and information to be further bothered with parent-teacher meetings and anniversary plans. With the inadvertent effect of straining the more meaningful interactions we could have had. Worse all the bad noises also crowd out the moments of solitude, the few seconds of introspection to compose your own notes from the snatches of tunes being played around you. Ensuring you live your life as a hyperactive social animal going through the motions of the day without pondering on whether any of it makes sense. Where you involuntarily prioritize noise over music. Can this pattern be changed?

I have been conditioning myself recently to spend several minutes of silence everyday. I spend the minutes in the local park which has a secluded bench among a bushy thicket. The birds chirp in the background. There is a small stream which gurgles and gushes in a hypnotic rhythm helping me focus my thoughts, aligning them into symphonic waves. I then go onto accentuate the moments of harmony in my life. The dinner table conversations with my husband, the sessions of stories with children of an NGO, positive interactions with friends I cultivate with care. I am moving away from hunting connections to farming bonds. I also refuse to be drawn into the information vortex by creating a neat list of what I need to read and what I have to respond to. Does not stop the spontaneous outburst but does enough to preserve my sanity. So I have less clutter and chatter yet more powerful interactions which make me feel more enriched at the end of the day. I also literally add music to my life by creating a composition of the most soothing melodies loaded on to my personal music devices. By far the most powerful change I have brought into my life is to create a music within. A repository of happy sounds: my favourite songs, laughter, happy chatter; which I delve into when I need to obliterate particularly harmful noises. I manage to, for example, block out chunks of defeatist interactions by delving into my inbuilt library.

Ofcourse none of it is easy. The persistently ringing mobile or the ping announcing a new email on your smatphone will obstinately interrupt romantic dinners. Switching off or ignoring the urgent interruptions take powerful self-control. However unless you do that, the music will continue eluding you.

That thing called Love

Standard

She was fiery, cunning, in love with another man. He was the regular ‘bad guy.’ Yet they were attracted to each other inexplicably and came together to alternately destroy and fulfil each other.
Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the wind. Judged on a scale of conventional morality, they are not nice, agreeable people. Yet judge them on sheer passion, and they are two extraordinary individuals who dared to love, to lust, to defy and to live.

Love is such a strange thing. Illogical, incorrigible and indomitable. Love destroys and love builds. The only thing worth having. The only thing worth dying for. Be it the love for a woman or the country it is the only emotion that makes men push his limits. Be it the love of a man or the love for a cause it is the only thing that makes the woman cross the boundaries. Love is magic. Love is powerful. And Love is bold

As Mort Sahl said – The bravest thing a man does is love woman

Why did I choose to speak about something which has already been dissected, eulogized, analyzed and criticized to death. There is by the way an unsettling dichotomy between love and death which I will blog about some other time. For now let me explain the reason. Yes ofcourse it is the season. The run up to the valentine day with the profusion of red. The nip in the air, the bright woolens, the parties with the hottest singles. There’s no better time to fall in love. Or rise in it.
There’s another reason why I chose to speak about love. It is the sheer power behind it. There are a million self-help books out in the market with umpteen formulae for reaching the top. They talk about personal effectiveness tools, decision making frameworks, and motivational tips for the mind and so on. I say trash them all. There is only one simple force that will take you to your goal. There is only one truth that will shape your life. Yes ofcourse that is love. Love what you do. And do what you love. You cannot become a brilliant engineer if you are in love with the Himalayas. You cannot two-time your way to the top. Nevertheless you can lead a reasonably prosperous and contended life with this deceit. Force your heart to compromise with the mediocrity. And let a pony-tailed guru tell you how to package the compromise to sell to a balanced world.

Yes love is not about balance or the calm. It’s the intensity that threatens to break you. Yet it is that intensity that has inspired everything worth reckoning that has occurred in this world. Like as a blackberry ad says is weak. A very convenient option in a Facebook world. Monalisa was not born out of a mere liking . Or the poetry where Tagore celebrated the joys of love. I remember visiting Nandan – the cauldron of culthood and romanticism in Calcutta. It was the season of the rains. And the courtyard was reverberating with the rants of a mad man. The unkempt man told me he had lost everything he ever loved. Yet he searched for it again. ‘The pain is ameliorating’, he said. ‘And I will have it no other way’.

Yes love hurts. The pains of separation, the fangs of jealousy, the wounds of loss. A Virginia Wolfe or an Albert Einsstein or a Subhas Bose have all been singed by pain in shaping their extraordinary lives, in living their passion. Majnu was stoned. Anarkali was buried. The fakir lost in divine love is branded a madman. Yet they lived their convictions, loved, lost and loved again unapologetically.

So this Valentine day rise in love. If it’s a conviction you have compromised with, go back to it. If it’s a person you have dared not approach, bedazzle him or her. Life’s too short for wishy-washy like stories. Etch your love story. And see the power of we transform your life.

In the words of that perennial romantic, John Lenon, executed by a man who professed to love him
Love is You
You and me
Love is knowing
We can be

26th January – Making sense of a dry day

Standard

‘Dry Day’ admonished the waiter giving me a slightly quizzical look. Realization dawned. Republic Day. Ofcourse. Not just another mid-week holiday. I still could not make sense why it needs to be a dry day though. Oh yes we are a prudish nation who lets Sunny Leone on prime-time TV but cracks a dress-code whip on women colleges. As usual I failed to make sense. Like I fail to make sense of the contradictions we accept without batting an eye-lid. For instance why the cow is more protected than women and other animals. Why the choices for drinking water are either packaged bottles that come at a price or contaminated water. Why is Hussain hounded out while Advani can repeat his rath-yatra. Why 600 crore is spent on a Dalit park while 600 babies die of encephalitis. Why is 26th a dry day in upmarket pubs. While hooch-sellers still sell posisoned salvation to the daily-wage workers. “Madam”- my chain of thoughts is interrupted by the well-behaved waiter. The special moktail of the day had arrived – the concoction sported the brilliant shades of the tri-colour. I looked around. The hip joint had brought the tr-colours out in full vigour. Even the back-ground music which usually consisted of Enrique and Shakira, comprised the feel-good patriotic songs. The giant plasma screen played footages of the republic day parade in the capital. The patriotism was too obvious to ignore. Possibly I am the lone sceptic in a sea of proud Indians. If so many people can find reasons to celebrate 62 years of democracy, so can I.

And ofcourse I did. The very fabric of the world’s largest democracy. Patched, frayed yet held together. By the love for cricket. And the animosity for Pakistan. By the search for a messiah. And the disappointment of being let down by the ones they do. By the rising prices. And the occasional sales. Threads of commonalities in the huge list of differences. Because lets face it – diversity does not unite. Look at the fumbling, bumbling EU reeling under an unequal union. The basis of unity has to be a common dream, a a feel-good factor everyone can share . Standing in the 62nd year of sovereignty this ancient nation does give me some of those happy moments I can share with a Madrasi or a Punjabi without the happiness getting lost in translation. The fact that India shined inspite of the political inertia. The nation now is strong enough to be offering bail-out packets to mightier nations. The progress, the success has come on the dint of the strength of a billion Indians who have risen over scepticism to take themselves and the nation forward. The strength of the democracy. Which can vocally attack the men and women in power without the fear of a backlash. The strength of humanity and compassion. The extra-ordinary stories of courage, conviction and compassion curated from all over the country. A young girl in Bengal who canvasses against child-marriages. A middle-aged man from Chennai who overcame social stigma to manufacture affordable sanitary napkins for rural women. People sectioned into states on the basis of differences. People united into India by a strong hope. Of a better tomorrow. Of a democracy where equality and justice transcend the preamble. Of a republic which respects humanity. The country may then truly evolve to be the nation Ambedkar conceived. A nation which does not require reservations and delineations and segregations. A nation which does not require a dry-day to enforce respect for the tenets of democracy. A democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. Have a meaningful republic day!

Neo in wonderland: De-constructing the matrix world

Standard

Long ago, on a perfect summer afternoon Alice had the misfortune of falling through a rabbit hole. What followed was an extraordinary adventure including a mad tea-party, a tyrannical queen, a giant cat and a maze of surrealist characters which tested Alice’s ingenuity. Fortunately for Alice she just had to wake up. Neo’s problem was less simple. He had to cut through the maze of a software program which controlled the earth subverting humans to mere programmed zombies in a computer game. Neo prevailed. Ofcourse as long as the rabbit hole and the matrix exist in fictionland, they remain little more than allegorical objects. However the concepts seem to transcend with ease into relatively real world. To trap the unsuspecting Alice. To delude a Neo. Create an extraordinarily complicated web of dreams and surrealism, allegories and illusion, deceit and delusion. A maze more complex than a fictional video game can be. Where human beings are pawned and truth is but a programmed memory. The version of truth depends on who has access to my brain and is programming it. Yes the invisible who’s. The matrix makers. The masters of illusion. The power-brokers. The puppeteers. And the story tellers. Who manufacture the invisible chips inserted into the unsuspecting mass of humanity. Who slavishly do their bidding. The beauty of the arrangement is the slaves do not carry any visible signs of subjugation. So there is no rebellion, no resistance. Only an occasional awakening which again can be corrected by another chip. The perfect plot.

About six months back when Libyans were baying for the blood of Gaddafi, I happened to read an article by an African journalist. Who raised a lone, bold voice chronicling an alternative view of the revolt. And traced much of the Arab Spring to a war to control the richest oil reserves. When a romantic picture of a people movement against a tyrannical despot in silken robes was being played out distinctively over world media, believing this lone voice was difficult. Honestly I am not informed enough to make a judgement either way but I have taught myself to look at the obvious truth with a degree of scepticism.Stories for example of spontaneous people movement with hours of supporting footage on sponsored media. The rise and fall of Anna Hazare for example. A media darling. A messiah. A saviour. Thousands rallied behind a diminutive man supporting a bill which most of the followers had little knowledge about. Six months down the line media killed the hero. A series of amazing conversations I had with people close to the movement ‘revealed’ that Anna was always a manufactured face. A ‘Neo’ caught in a matrix of political compulsions. Just as the supporters who stood behind him. The men and women who bribed, lied, cheated in daily life. But who manufactured their own cocoon of honesty and vindication by siding with Hazare. A deceit of a scale the mind struggles to grasp. Ofcourse I am again conscious of the fact I am presenting someone else’s story. And that perhaps the sums up the only universal truth. That truth is but the story I choose to believe in. The chip I choose to accept. At any given point of time I have a torrent of stories being pumped on me. Guised in the garb of truth. Backed by facts. Can I rise above the hypnotic set of webs to see a clearer version of the truth. Which at some plane is still relative. But which is not planted into me exploiting my gullibility. Exercise the power of judgement, to take decisions, to rationalize. Which is when Alice wakes up to realize it is but a dream. Neo cuts through the web to salvage humanity. And the matrix lies broken.

Mumbai Marathon – Race against the self

Standard

Am I an athelete? No. Do I fall in the category of extra-ordinary human beings who display superb physical stamina? No. Am I running for charity? Yes and No. Though I do a lot of fund-raising I was not really running with a specific charity in mind this time. So why was I running? As I stood – a little lost among the vast crowd of Marathon enthusiasts- at the unearthly morning hour, I was mentally reviewing the reasons why I was running the marathon. I needed to have solid reasons. Because while I knew my body could fail and give up, my mind would not. And I needed to give it a strong conviction to propel the body along. And my conviction was to stretch my limit. To cross the mental barrier of distance. To achieve what in my book had been impossible. To participate in an experience which becomes a great leveller by throwing open a track where you only have a pair of shoes and grit for company. And the mantra which becomes something of a refrain – No mountain too high to climb. No river too deep to cross. And you start moving, running, walking, jogging, limping to the finish.

Ofcourse as the gates open and you start running, your mind gains a number of enthusiastic helpers. The perks of seeing the sun rise over the Arabian Sea as you run through the Bandra-Worli sea link. The mysterious Haji Ali rising like a phoenix from the waters. As a staunch believer in the Sufi and Bhakti tenets of complete devotion, I said a silent prayer as I crossed Haji Ali. Give me the strength to run. The courage to endure pain. My prayers helped. As did the prayers and encouraging words of the amazing people who lined the marathon route. A little boy in tattered clothes who held out a biscuit. A little girl in a head-scarf who sprayed the soul-lifting moisture. And all through chants of – ‘Come on. You can Do it’. For me I did not need the celebrities or the cheer-leaders. These people – ordinary Mumbaikars- were my heroes. As offcourse were my co-runners. A middle-aged lady in a burkha. ‘Running was liberating’-she told me after the race. Like it gave you wings. And you soar over your walls, over your constraints and boundaries. Which is what a septuagenarian draped in Indian flag was doing. The tri-colour fluttered as he raced, his face pulled together in taut determination. ‘I run for the country, to tell people it is a nation we have to build together’. Ordinary lives. Extraordinary stories. Collectively this mass of humanity generates a tremendous amount of positive force. At some point Science may be advanced enough to harness it to drive a Marathon mill. Which grinds cereals for the less than privileged kids who shared their biscuits with the runners. When you have such force even a non-athelete like me rises over physical constraints. And finishes the race ignoring a severe cramp, a sprain and blisters. The victory against self is the most extraordinary of all your wins. Next year. A stiffer target. And the race with self begins all over again.

Pinky Aunty and Collaborative Consumption

Standard

I was reading a blog post on collaborative consumption with considerable amusement. Couched in typical management terms, the post talked about an economic model based on sharing, bartering, pooling and finally optimizing resources. The post said the collaborative consumption revolution could become as big as the industrial revolution. Help conserve the scarce resources on Earth. At this point I decided to give Pinky Aunty a call. If they were stealing her ideas she should atleast know. Pinky Aunty in her inimitable style asked me – So will they be sharing table salt too? You know that’s the kind of stuff that typically runs out. I was not sure if the systematic collaboration revolution comes down to such granularity , but salt is an apt symbol of the collaboration that has defined our mohollas for a long time. Where you opened the door to a worried Pinky aunty asking if she can borrow some salt. Or sugar. Or your axe. Or bicycle. In return she offered spicy achar, her imported sewing needles or a formidable pair of scissors. No wonder when collaborative consumption is being voted by Time in the top ten ideas that will change the world, we are a mildly irritated by the hullabaloo. We have always been doing this. We have been taught to do this. Share. Give. Receive. And grow together.

The Indian padosh or mohollas are the best examples of cooperative communities and local networks. Think of the row houses sharing a common courtyard. Or the apartments arranged so close to each other you can actually jump on to your neighbour’s balcony. Our indigenously Indian upbringing have meant we have coped quite well in these communities. Resisted the nosy aunt or the bossy uncle. Or the upstart boy who insisted on playing music at top volume. And made the most of the collective good. We have pooled together resources and skills. Spontaneously. Or driven by rudimentary forms of co-operative societies. I grew up in a small steel township. While the fathers were busy at work, the mothers led by a staunch Pinky Aunty formed a WVS – Women Voluntary Service. They baked cakes, made delectable Achar, procured magnificent fabric or handicrafts from their native places and then went on to trade these stuff at optimum prices. Looking back, they never really made much profit because the stuff mostly got exchanged between the ladies running the community. Or given away to the local orphanage. However the community thrived by leveraging the combined strengths of these extraordinary women. As kids we emulated our mothers. We pooled our books together and created a local library. We rented our bicycles in exchange of a Michael Jackson record. A little bit of humanity. Some amount of economic sense. And we together seemed to have everything we needed to be happy.

Ofcourse as I have grown I have contrasted the eastern style of community living with western individualism. As an individualistic person myself, I have often argued in favour of individualism. Sow your own seeds. Reap your own fruits. The obvious fallacy of this approach is man is not self-sufficient. As a disjointed individual, I do not have all the survival tools in my kit. That is where I have to buy services. Or goods. And this is where wastage starts. Driving to office in a big car that can seat 5. Throwing away food available in those big saver packs because my family of two cannot finish it. Reducing my bargaining power because I buy in small portions enough to sustain me. Tilting the market in favour of sellers. When with 7 billion people it should have been tilting towards the buyer. And then Pinky Aunty starts making a lot of sense. Pool your car and reduce your carbon footprint. Form buyers’ co-operatives and shop in bulk. Rent out rooms. Barter goods. Trade skills. Create a local network which can support and canvass for the common cause. Strength lies in numbers.

Having said all this, collaborative consumption atleast in the human society will largely remain unstructured and driven by good will than by business sense. Human societies are complex, organic communities and putting rules or business models around shared consumption may not seamlessly work. What will work though is a deeper appreciation for inclusive thinking which has always defined our societies. Which the rest of the world is now learning. And rebranding as a disruptive technique. Meanwhile I have run out of coffee. Wonder which of my neighbour’doors can I knock on?

Paratha Rage – The insanity of winning

Standard

I had just returned from my morning jog and my daily bonding with the pensioners who run a laughter club in the locality. Scanning through the morning newspaper, I stopped short. A 27 year old MBA grad has been murdered at a Delhi Dhaba by a computer engineer and his friend over who will be served a paratha first. I recoiled as I read the details of the gory attack. Sympathetized with the hapless father who, only a few hours back, had met his son who had told him that he intended to make the city his home. And felt extremely angry about the pointlessness of it all. A brawl over who would get the first paratha. In any other context, this would have been hilarious. Here it was tragic.

The most disturbing aspect of the incident is it is not an isolated one. Not a freak murder you can pass off as the doing of a psychopath. These are well-to-do kids with foreign education and ‘good’ upbringing. Yet they run over pedestrians in trying to outrace a car, sabotage their friend’s work to come first, cheat, lie, bribe and even kill their way to the top. Blame it on a fiercely competitive nation of a billion plus people. Blame it on parents who scare you saying you either top your class or the new bicycle will be given to your brother. Blame it on a society which plays an unnaturally high premium on winning and a correspondingly high penalty on losing. And worst of all a messy system of justice which lets you get away with a ‘hook or a crook’. The result is a generation high on competiveness but not on the spirit of fair play that a competition has to come with. A generation which will rather cheat than fail, or hit rather than fall.

Long back I had read Abraham Lincoln’s letters to his son’s tutor where he asked the gentleman to teach his son that it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat. That it is more important to stop and help a fellow-runner who has fallen down than to win the race. I have seldom come across more profound thoughts on personal integrity and leadership. That humanity scores over all podium finishes. Yes it is important to win and it is what you should strive for. Two points of caution however. Winning on a less than clear conscience is a heavier burden than a loss. And second, pick your battles. Stop this madness of winning every race. If you have to race your way to the toilet and be the first to relieve yourself, your next stop should be with a counselor. Aggression is best left to the boxing ring and there too you have to play by the rules of the game.

A few words of advice for the parents as well. Stop eulogizing the champ culture. Punish instances of bullying and cheating. Tell your kids, assure them that it is absolutely ok to be not finish at the top of every race. The real race after all is only with the self.