Thursday, November 09, 2006

Its Showtime....

And so the day has arrived.. Just got back from the inaugration of IRIS 2006 - which promises to be larger than life.. the start was pretty much perfect with a pretty thoughtful lecture By Ms. Naina Lal Kidwai, the CEO of HSBC India.. it is always good to listen to people like her address young audiences who have so much to learn from corporate leaders like her..

Now, after the inaugration, we are gearing up for the kick off of some of the events today.. we have Papyrus, Marksman, Cerebrate (Strategy) and Factorise lined up today.. and of course all the really big games - Ashwamedha and Kalpavriksha - start tomorrow.. for more information on all the events and details about IRIS itself, visit
Do watch the intro with the speakers on and enjoy the IRIS theme.. as we have kept saying over the past few momnths, Welcome to the Show, Welcome to IRIS!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Six Sigma Men!

TQM.. Six Sigma.. ISO 9001.. all these terms can hardly be imagined in the sub-urban, crowded trains of Mumbai, can they? But there is a set of people who make it possible.. They are the people now famously known as the "Mumbai Dabbawaalas".. I just learned today that their association is termed "Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers' Association".. As a B-school student, let me go with the acronym tradition and call them NMTBSA..

Going by the latest trend in all IIMs, our institute also arranged for a lecture by the famed dabbawaalas from Mumbai.. I must admit that I was quite skeptical about what significance such a lecture would have.. And whether its been unnecessarily hyped by everyone.. But after attending the session and especially seeing the documentary at the end, I would say that all Indians should atleast see how the system works.. It almost reflects a utopian world as far as I am concerned.. Which makes it even more special because such a thing has been in existence for almost 116 years now..

The kind of service these dabbawaalas provide is quite hard to imagine, given the circumstances they do it in.. Anyone who has been in a Mumbai local train knows what it takes to wrestle one's way to get any space on those trains.. For them to cover the entire length of Mumbai in those trains carrying those heavy loads, both on the western and central lines, and provide service with a zero error rate (well officially it is 1 error in 6 million) is simply mindboggling.. Again I would like to stress on the kind of environment they do it in.. Not a single dabbawaala is educated more than 8th standard.. Their average age is 52 years.. And many of them have to carry loads upto 75-80 kgs on their heads.. Their only dependence is on the Mumbai local train service which is very reliable as long as the weather gods don't intervene drastically.. The way they sort out and separate the 2,00,000 dabbas they handle every single day is quite amazing.. Not a single dabba gets misplaced or sent to the wrong destination.. The system is entirely manual and surprisingly, there is NO mistake ever made.. The confidence of the President and the Secretary of the association in their system was quite a revelation.. Why shouldn't they be, after all they are Six Sigma certified!! The secretary actually made fun of terms such as Logistics and Supply Chain Management saying that they are told they are good at it but he doesn't even know what they mean.. Being a so-called OR enthusiast myself, I was really amused by a lot of his comments..

All in all, I would say it was a very humbling experience for every one of us listening to the two gentlemen talk about an organization where every single employee is also a partner.. Everyone earns the same amount of money.. All the revenue generated is distributed equally among all the partners.. It reminded me of the word syndicalism used by Bertrand Russell in his writings.. When I say syndicalism, I am not referring to the Trade Union aspect of the philosophy; I am talking about the fact that every single person has an equal stake in the organization.. Such a system is very difficult to find and the Dabbawaalas are unique not only in that respect, but also the fact they have the most efficient system in the world.. Finally, I must thank our Operations professors for arranging such an interaction which gives people like me a different perspective to life altogether.. Life never ceases to throw its set of surprises, does it?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back on the road again!

So I am finally back after what seems like forever.. Have been missing blogging lately.. Was just waiting for some appropriate moment to resume.. And so today happens to be the auspicious occasion..

Well, the last few months have shown me how things can change very quickly in one's life.. Just 3 months back, I was sitting in Bangalore, in an air-conditioned office, working for a common goal in a project which seemed to be going on forever.. In fact, if I rewind back by 3 more months, I could well have been on a flight to Silicon Valley in the US of A.. But then as it happens, I had to take a crucial decision at that juncture and ended up refusing that offer for "greener" pastures in life.. So, after rounds of GDs and Interviews and nervously waiting for results, I found myself selected for the course on Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) in the Indian Institute of Management, Indore (IIM-I as it is more commonly known!)..

Its been a month and a half since I got here and I already have many experiences which will remain with me for a long time to come.. I had always heard so much about experiencing life in a B-school, but being here and actually being a part of everything is really exhilarating.. Sure, its a competitive world and everyone wishes to finish top one day.. But the different kind of people I have met here and most of what I have learnt so far is really intangible.. Whether it is the initial intro sessions, the late night parties, the theatre club performances, the World Cup matches in the audi, the birthday celebrations, the student body elections, the freshers' and talent night performances, the quizzes, the games, or the latest matki-phod competition, and so much more which I can keep writing about, it has been so much fun and at the same time, such a unique experience that it seems tough to believe that I have been here for not even 2 months.. Ohh, we do have classes too!! :P In fact, we are already more than half-way through this term.. But who wishes to write about acads on a blog when one's happy!!

I have been reading quite a bit about people writing their experiences in Infosys and I have made up my mind that I need to dedicate some space to Infy in my blog too.. But that needs to be a separate post.. For now, I'd just like to sign off saying that I am back blogging again.. with the determintaion to be more regular from now on..

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Just Let 'em be...

Being a man, I feel it is naturally hypocritical for me to write on a subject like sexual harassment. I have done my share of ogling at women, passing comments, etc. Although I would like to think I have not "offended" any woman, there is no way I can say whether it is true.

Amit Verma sums is it up quite well in his post here. Especially this part of his post makes a lot of sense to me:
"I suppose women are used to the male gaze, and I can't imagine how. But everytime a man talks disparagingly about letches, he's being hypocritical, to some extent or the other. After all, we all 'check out' women fairly often. If we're male, we have the gaze. Maybe we've just learnt to make it less obvious. One man's checking out is another man's letching. Where do you cross the line?"

I have discussed this with my female friends and it was quite a revelation for me when they told me that they face such things almost every time they go out, whether they are alone or in a group. I can't help squirming when I hear about the kind of things they go through almost on a daily basis. I know I can't truly relate to the sort of harassment they go through. I do not even know whether raising a voice in public will even change anything. I am slightly pessimistic about what raising one's voice in public will do. What if the girl actually does not want me to raise my voice and give undue importance to such an episode? As one of my friends put it quite succinctly, "just let women be". Wish men paid heed to these words.

Many of my male friends think that harassment has a lot to do with the dress that girls wear. They argue that "revealing" dresses naturally "provoke" guys more into passing lewd remarks, etc. I do not really agree with them. The kind of instances I have heard and seen about do not really indicate any such tendencies. Inspite of all the "modernization" in our culture, I still don't think all girls still have the freedom to wear anything they want to. Most of them are very conscious of what the society will say if they wear "bold" dresses. With people like the shiv sainiks and similar "ethnic" groups playing police and custodians of the "great indian tradition and culture", I don't know whether we will actually see a day when women are given complete freedom in our country.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Don't mingle with singles..

A day before the International Women's day, it is but natural that there are many articles on women and their status in the society is widely discussed. The sad truth is that even though there may be women who are able to make their own decisions and enjoy freedom, their number is still quite low when compared with the ones whose lives are controlled by either their families. How many girls in our country, whether in urban or rural areas, get the freedom to choose when to marry and with whom? Things may be a lot better than what they were 20 years ago, but a lot of change still needs to come into the mindset of the people.

I find it really disconcerting that we have women requesting men to put on their thinking caps when it comes to respecting and appreciating the new "empowered" woman in a newspaper like this. Isn't it a basic level of freedom which any man should automatically think about giving to any woman? Does it really require such articles to point out these things which seem fairly obvious?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Changing times...

I remember reading Ram Guha's article in the Hindu recently about him supporting any team but England in international cricket matches. Well, I share the same views. And this article sums up the mindset of the Englishmen, or atleast what it used to be. Things are not too different this time either, even though the "second-string" English team actually performed quite admirably in the first test (probably better than what their "main" team would do.)!

I am glad we are in an age where the pommies are not given undue importance by the rest of the cricketing world. Perhaps the one sore point nowadays is the sad decline of cricket in the West Indies. It is really sad to see them getting beaten by every other team nowadays. It is not so much the fact that they are losing, it has more to do with the manner in which they are doing so. And there doesn't really seem to be any solution in sight. Hopefully the world cup next year may bring about a change in fortunes. For the sake of cricket, I hope the revival of the Carribean kings happens sooner than later.

Love for the game!

There are some things in life which really move you.. This article shows the other side of cricket.. Away from all the glamour, media attention and adulation from the crowds, there are players who simply play because of the love for the game..

I admit that Narendra Hirwani is one of the players I have ridiculed in the past.. I still remember one of his fielding errors which made me laugh when I saw it live.. I felt very guilty as I read this article and realized that a lot of injustice was done to a player like him.. I somehow feel equally responsible for his not being selected in the team when he deserved it.. I wonder how we'd have looked at this man had he played for India in that crucial Kolkata test against Australia and won that match for us..

Somehow, all of us tend to get clouded by stardom and what the media chooses to inform us.. With all this talk of Saurav Ganguly and his exclusion from the team, I wonder how many of us even bothered to think why people like Hirwani, Kanwaljit Singh never really got their due. How many of us are even aware of such players? It just amazes and inspires me to read stories of such men who keep fighting on and on inspite of being ignored repeatedly and perhaps unjustifiably so. It makes me think that there is so much more to cricket than just winning a test match and being counted as one of the best in the world..
I think this piece sums it up really well
"Watching cricketers like Hirwani, who possess the ability to go on forever and a day, defying age, pushing themselves further and excelling against opponents a whole generation younger, provides a unique kind of thrill. Not all journeys need a final destination; often the joy of the ride is fulfilling in itself. "

Saturday, January 28, 2006

MBA - not enough to be a good manager!

For someone who has spent a long time in the field of management (first as a student and now as a top level manager) to say that management education lacks this is something. There seems to be a growing sense of dissatisfaction and incompleteness about the experiences gained as management students.

More and more people seem to be writing about the things lacking in B schools worldwide. Or maybe its just me who's reading too much into a few articles written by certain disgruntled people!