‘Happy’ Birthday to me? – not yet!

4 06 2010

“I truly believe that Teaching and Medicine are the noblest of vocations, among all. And they should remain like that. Any institute or individual who takes up these vocations for greed or any other motive other than teaching and curing will only dilute its true delivery. I am a teacher and I would never be my student’s consultant.”

That’s how Dr. KVSM Krishna, my teacher and Course Director responded when I generally queried about his view and interest in associating himself with the ‘so-called’ A-Listed business schools around.

Back in 2000-2001, when I did my PG at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Dr. Krishna was then the Course Director and our teacher for Economics and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. But for me he turned out to be my Teacher for Life. Innumerable lessons on Life and Self Awareness that were bestowed upon me by him. All of these occurred during those hundreds of hours of class room talks as well as countless after class room discussions that happened in his office. Even after the course completion, till date I have the privilege of being blessed with his teachings through various e-mail and phone conversations; though he has been moving to different geographical locations we managed quite a few meetings over the last decade. Each and every of this interaction, be it a casual 5 minute call, he has never left without giving – giving to his student pearls of wisdom from his vast ocean of knowledge.

I credit all my successes to HIM and I accept all my shortcomings as my inability to understand and/or follow his teachings.

His understanding of things is very in depth and focused. His teachings sound simple but takes a lot to understand and comprehend its true meaning. He comes across as a grumpy ol’ chap; but a true student will see a TEACHER in every cell of him. His dedication and commitment towards his students is unparalleled and he would stretch himself to newer limits to touch and teach his students.

As our course started off, it didn’t take me much time to bond with him. The lessons had started flowing and soon, over a year – an introvert, shy, low on confidence, hyper anxious and clouded youngster who could barely understand his self and the world around, some one who had no drive and no ambition – turned into STUDENT OF THE YEAR, scored maximum in almost all subjects and most importantly gained confidence to embark upon an enterprising journey. All of this happened because of an intervention called Dr. Krishna.

At every point, smallest of issue to biggest of resistances that I would have discussed with him, each and every time he has come across as a Teacher to me; and that has helped survive the student in me. His strongest impact on me has been in making me realize the value of “LEARN TILL YOUR LAST MOMENT”.

He would tell us “I want you all to be LEARNERS and not become LEARNED”

The lessons were just not limited to economics or entrepreneurship. We would have talked and discussed almost every subject on this planet. From human development to spirituality; from inter gender dynamics to family businesses; from poverty alleviation to self development; from marriages to education system every topic was put across in a light so as to understand its significance. Most importantly, over all this years, till date his sole effort through every talk is to make his student know and realize his latent potential.

This belief – a strong and honest belief of my teacher in me forms the seed of my awareness; forms the basis of my understanding of me, it powers my vision of life and energizes my every attempt of developing myself. My thought processes and cognitive mechanisms have evolved from the seed of knowledge that he had sowed.

I attained the form of flesh and blood in 1979, whereas I derived my mind in 2000. My teacher gave me REBIRTH.

I feel that I am no way near in being a worthy student. If his teachings manifest themselves in my doings and I truly embody all that I am learning only then will I feel happy and contended.

Many Birthday’s have since gone by, it really doesn’t matter to me; but it is the ‘Rebirth day’ that holds greater significance to me. And I Endeavour to give myself a HAPPY RE BIRTH DAY – the day I shall be contended, the day I feel a sense of pride, the day I feel worthy, not in anyone else’s eye, but in my own assessment.

That day, I shall wish myself a Happy (re)Birth day!

PS : I have always debated with Dr. Krishna about attempting to publish his thoughts or atleast to blog so that a large number of ‘students’ be touched. However he remains so involved with the students around him that he hardly thinks of documenting himself. On this birthday of mine I initiate this segment on my blog in which I shall attempt to present the various talks that I had with him. It’s going to be a task to put various chats that I have had with him over varied contexts in the most correct manner. I take it up with a hope of letting more STUDENTS reach to a true TEACHER.

Advertisements




Five reasons to not vote.

28 04 2009

My concept of democracy is an environment wherein each and every individual gets to exercise his/her free will.

Birth and Death are the two accidents of life; but what defines life is the choices we make during the time period in between this two accidents. And in order to make satisfaction generating decisions we need to be ‘aware’. I mean awareness of self. Most of the time we just follow some rules, ideals and constitution just because we are programmed to do so in our formative years. We start believing those ‘thoughts’ of ours and ‘us’. But that is not true. Else there wouldn’t be so much of frustration, so much of homicides, so much of fear lurking all around. ‘Free Will’ doesn’t mean behaving haphazardly, being careless and clue less. ‘Free will’ means an ability to choose the belief system which would help you lead a satisfying life (in your own understanding); the choice making ability for you to achieve your goal of your life. ( one may choose to not have any goals; given this is a satisfaction generating decision and not mere escapism)

The whole of earth is one and so is the whole of humanity. I believe in a boundary less world. Boundaries can be there; but for the sole purpose of governing concern.   A millenium back some control freak with the support of muscle power would have been able to control a particular population residing in a particular geographical area. To sustain the control on the population the ruler would have to come up with rules, constitution, laws etc. Infact to me it seems that the invention of army as a force would have been to restrict this population within this geographical area; rather than the current known function of it providing security. Soon many such groups would have formed leading to a complex world structure as we see today. The need to control took over the minds of  ‘rulers’ rather than the object to provide an environment where ‘free will’ can pervade. These groups of people is what evolved into NATIONS. With nations came the new moralities and values like PATRIOTISM, MOTHERLAND, dying for my nation etc.  For intellectually inclined came the concepts like Anarchy, Communism, Republican, Theoism, Socialism and DEMOCRACY. What I am saying here is that all of these morals or concepts or systems are at root restrictive; and hence can never encourage ‘Free will’.

Having said that, we are today living in a world order where each NATION is competing, fearing, depending on other NATION for its survival. From all the available and evolved concepts let us accept for now that DEMOCRACY if practiced by all NATIONS, can lead to a progressive world order of peace and satisfaction for all. So the objective of the Democratic system is to create an environment which encourages ‘free will’.

Now let me try and explain  the manner in which democracy is practiced in today’s time.

  1. Partisan politics or PARTY  based democratic system at its root is divisive. It can never bring people together and hence it would never make people ‘aware’. Infact it is marred by propoganda and divisive strategies which only corrupts the environment. Moresover it is driven by lust of POWER and not for anything that we discussed above.
  2. “VOTING as the ultimate expression of democracy” is nothing but a myth.  Voting only allows me to choose one from a lot; who are fundamentally all same. It is like  whom shall i choose to exploit me this time? This in my understanding is not an exercise in Democracy.
  3. Lets for one minute believe that voting is great and it bring revolutions and all. In post modern history, since the dawn of democracy, no revolution has occured due to an election. That’s just one. Now sample this : A, B and C are the three contesting party’s in a particular area. A plays the majority caste game, B plays the minority religion card and C is someone who is using the Socio-economic segment as its propoganda. Now B trades with C to create an atmosphere so that their propoganda breaks the votes of A. This inturn would help reduce the marging between A and B. So C exists only as a tool to manufacture votes. This is a very common strategy, much more complex tools are deployed in the real world. The whole campaign of ‘PLEASE VOTE’ is/can be a strategy to shift the numbers equation.
  4. The so called accomplishments of any elected government are not leading us to a safe, secure or equitable society. The most dreading fact is all of the educated and literate and well read you dont want to make yourself aware of the real statistics. And for believers in vote ; antiincumbancy(existing candidate losing out) has been a major phenomenon in most constituences in most elections over past 6 decades.
  5. Most importantly Voting, by no means leads to the exercise of my ‘free will’. I deny to subscribe to this hollow morals bombarded on me which tells me that “IF YOU DO NOT VOTE YOU ARE NOT AN INDIAN” and on the other end it allows me to litter on road  remain an Indian.

These are the Five reasons for me to NOT VOTE.

All the intelligent ones would already have their comments ready;  the remaining ones in any case wouldn’t have reached till here. However let me make it clear that I am not being a cynic nor I am being regressive. I believe in change, I believe in chaos and a I also believe in accepting new order.

But all of those who wish to give me a dose on pop-morals like “dont just speak,  do something”, “get into the system to clean the system” etc etc…..I would just say that even I have watched and enjoyed “Rang De basanti’ and ‘Yuva’.  That’s just about it.

But yes, a democracy can be encouraging, it can make the individuals of society ‘aware’ and that would happen when Votes are not begged for, but are offered. I would quote OSHO here : My concept of democracy is people deciding on their own, without any political propaganda from anybody. Choose the candidates you like. In fact, the candidate approaching the people and asking,“Please choose me,” is ugly. If he is of any worth, people should reach him and ask him, “Please take this responsibility for us. We want you to be in Parliament.” “

I take this opportunity to persuade Dr. Kalam, Mr. Narayanmurthy, Mr. Sam Pitroda, Mr. N Vittal, Mr. VG Patel to get into governments, to get into active public administration. (there are many more capable individuals, but i would name only whom I have read or known) It is not this mythical ‘vote’ but the choice to persuade those whom I consider appropriate a greater exercise in BEHAVING DEMOCRATICALLY. All of us know some such capable individuals around us. They need not be known and popular figures. Find them and persuade them to get into the assembly. Some of you who think themselves to be capable of governing a society, persuade yourselves. I truly believe that this ACT OF PERSUADING the candidates we collectively see capable of is a greater democratic expression than a mere black dot on the index finger.

I like to call such a world order as ‘COLLABORATIVE DEMOCRACY’. Where the individuals of the society find their MP’s & PM’s and Presidents rather than the Prime Ministers and Presidents searching for votes.

Thats all. Period.

PS : I may still go to vote. The voter this time around has the choice to ‘not choose anyone; and this choice will still be counted.





RESPONSIBLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP

24 04 2009

~ When you come to the edge of a cliff, the solution is not to run faster, We have to step back ~

These are tough times. To make it gullible to you guys let me put it differently. These are different times.

The PM is asking for austerity. All that the analysts are able to predict is uncertainty. Economists all across are at their conservative best. Inflation has already over taken growth in the last quarter; and the gap only seems to be widening. Our consumption is growing but we aren’t. Many environmentalists have started the countdown towards dooms day.

These are not the bytes that we are used to in recent times. Doesn’t this seem a bit dodgy; a bit contradictory to you. If we say we are CAPITALIST than uncertainty should excite us and austerity should put us off…but as I told you these are different times. Just a quarter before we believed in consumption fuelled growth. And now we are advised to restrain.

Something’s going wrong. Sample this….

India is self-sufficient in its agricultural production; which means we produce food grains that should suffice 120 crore population. However, 35 crore odd sleep without a meal and other 35 crore odd have only one meal a day!

We consumed the most mobile phones (after china) globaly. Whereas we still do not have a decent school in every taluka!

Its said the developing Organised Retail scenario and booming Mall culture is boosting consumption and thereby fuelling growth. It’s a different story that a single mall consumes energy that can electrify an entire village!

Reports say that Insurance is a booming industry and is doing very well. Though the fact remains 75% of the people who get affected by a calamity (natural or man-made) remain uninsured.

It’s not so difficult to accept the fact that all our collective entrepreneurial energies are not taking us where it should. All that we are doing is either leading us to inflation, disparity, consumerism or environment degradation. As entrepreneurs it should matter to us – because a disturbed environment would never provide sustainable growth. If our progress is not endearing enough, than our efforts are not worth it.

So where are we? So what are we talking about in here. The answer is as simple as it is complex. The effects suggest we have missed an important factor in our viability equation. What is that factor??

And let me make it clear, we are not talking about socialism out here!

The point that is being made is IF WE WISH TO GROW ENTREPRENEURALY and IF WE WISH TO MAKE A MARK GLOBALLY we need to completely change the way we think about business and the way we understand ‘marketing’. Let us understand that profit and return are not the only variables to consider; impact on society at large is the factor that would lead us to economic and environmental stability.

Some have talked about ‘COMPASSIONATE CAPITALISM’ and some have deliberated upon ‘SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP’.

We may like to put it as RESPONSIBLE ENTREPREPRENEURHIP.

WE need to respond. More so as entrepreneurs of an emerging economy we have to respond; We need to create businesses to inspire and realize sustainable enterprise growth and social development. We need to learn to connect our aspirations for global citizenship to opportunities on the ground.

And we are not talking about austerity here. There are tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities that we are completely blinded to.

Fast food chains are exciting but community kitchens aren’t. Cities are lighting up but no ones investing in solar technologies. Instead of bigger-hollow-costlier schools a smaller-better-cheaper version might make more economic sense. Tremendous PPP (public private partnership) opportunities in the field of rural health care, children and adult education, agriculture technology development etc.

All this is not totally alien to us. In bits and parts, in small pockets somewhere some such initiatives are taken. Our task is to add scale to it and design a unique growth for ourselves. It’s about putting the social concerns out there in the market and turning them into entrepreneurial opportunities.

In the ring we have value creation vs consumption and accumulation. MAKE YOUR BETS NOW!

IMPACT MAKING ENTREPRENEURS is not at all a new term for the alumni of this institute. Initiative, Alertness, Adventure and Adaptive-ness is what EDI has taught us. Entrepreneurs as change-agents are what EDI believes in.

To move forward, lets take the first step, back!

– MIHIR GAJRAWALA