Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Generation Next...

Why do I feel irked with the 24 year old upper class, affluent ladies traveling alongside? Why do I find myself smirking at their conversations I overheard about how dirty the station is, or their disbelief at how someone can travel for 2000 km in sleeper class?

I have reasons. They've hardly matured into being ladies, They're still girls. I'm irked at their upbringing, at their sense of entitlement at their loathsome judgements.

Hmm. Is the problem out there, or is it inside of me? Them being the way they are is just an effect of certain causes. Where is my annoyance targeted and why? If I so wish for a different effect, I ought to alter the cause.

One would let it pass. "To each his own. You can't help."

But, what if I try? What if I try to alter the cause in order to alter the effect? If they're exposed to a perspective of the truth, which is new to them, it might help?

So, I tried. I understood, that it isn't the exposure that is the bottleneck. It is either the ability, the willingness or the need to get exposed.

The spark to learn or the awareness of what one is exposed to is present in some, absent in most.

अपनी अपनी फिकरों में जो भी है वो उलझा है। जिंदगी हकीकत मे क्या है कौन समझा है।

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

यदा यदा ही धर्मस्य...

A very beautiful explanation of the verse...Important to note that Krishna is within each of us, not some Messiah outside.

यदा यदा ही धर्मस्य, ग्लानिर्भवति भारत |

अभ्युत्थानम् धर्मस्य, तदात्मनं सृजाम्यहम् || गीता 4/7  

अर्थ : हे अर्जुन ! जब-जब धर्म की हानि और अधर्म की वृद्धि होती है, तब-तब मैं प्रकट होता हूँ ।। 7 ।।

व्याख्या: मनुष्य में धर्म और अधर्म दोनों ही प्रवृत्तियाँ होती है। कभी भीतर धर्म बढ़ता है और कभी अधर्म।। कभी हम धार्मिक जैसा बर्ताव करते हैं और कभी अधार्मिक जैसा। लेकिन जब व्यक्ति के अंदर अधर्म का भाव आता है तब उसके मन में उस अधर्म को न करने की एक लहर भी ज़रूर आती है, भले वो उसको ध्यान दे या न दे और अधर्म करने पर बार-बार दिल यह ज़रूर कहता रहता  है कि जो कर रहे हो, वो गलत है। ऐसा नहीं कि जब कुछ बड़ा अधर्म करेंगे तभी अंदर की आवाज़ आएगी, ये तो किसी का पेन चुरा लेने पर भी आएगी। ये आवाज़ तब-तब आएगी जब-जब आप कोई भी अधर्म करोगे। लोग इसी आवाज़ को नज़रअंदाज़ करके अधर्म करते हैं। ये अंदर की आवाज़ कुछ और नहीं बल्कि हमारी चेतना में बैठे कृष्ण की प्रेरणा है, जो हमें अधर्म न करने की सलाह देती रहती है यही भगवान् कह रहे है कि जब-जब धर्म की हानि और अधर्म की वृद्धि होगी तब-तब मैं प्रकट होता हूँ । यही उनके प्रकट होने की प्रक्रिया है क्योंकि वो तो अपनी प्रेरणाओं से हर व्यक्ति के अंदर अपनी अनुभूति का अहसास कराते ही रहेंगे । 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Fighting Fear

There is a lot of insecurity amongst the powerful and influential people today, as always, perhaps? Insecurity breeds insecurity. When the powerful are insecure, they inevitably exploit the powerless.

Students graduating out of the leading educational institutions, who are expected to lead, begin with, or rather, are equipped with this sense of insecurity. If this assessment seems thoroughly incorrect, read no further. But if there appears to be truth in it, let us explore more of the truth.

Businesses today seem to have more adversaries than stakeholders. In other words, those who were stakeholders have become adversaries. Consumer, regulator and the peripheral society have since long become adversaries. They put pressure on profitability. Off late, channel partners, vendors and even employees are treated as outsiders. It wouldn’t be surprising that the board of a company considers public shareholders too as outsiders, rather than owners of the business. Who, then, is the insider? Is it just the bunch of top executives? That is the position a typical management graduate is groomed to occupy, right?

What happened to the classical ‘win-all’ idea, which gave birth to some legendary businessmen of the yesteryears? I'm not so sure, but it may be true that today, legendary, visionary business leaders are the ones who aim at size, market share, valuations and profitability of their ventures/companies.

We have stories of business leaders, who worked in the capacity of trustees of the wealth of societies and nations, who had no fear for the survival of their own selves, their family and their individual identity. Do these stories inspire or even interest students at the leading management institutes? If they don't, are the institutes perturbed?  

Nowadays, one hears stories of people who tread off the beaten path - engineers becoming farmers, business tycoons becoming monks and the like. What do these stories mean to a student? Are these slotted into ‘spiritual pursuits’ and therefore irrelevant to business management?

Mine is such a story. The lure for a better life led us from an elite urban life, from a successful corporate career to a life on the farm. We try to grow our own food – fresh, nutritious and tasty. We don’t send our children to school – they’re getting the best education we know of. They’re saved of the systemic education, which seems hell bent to encourage comparison and instil the insecurity. We do not measure wealth in currency, but in real terms. We find it unnecessary to assign a monetary value to our wealth. We find ourselves not conforming to generally accepted norms because we find many of them irrelevant.

I knew I may not be popular or famous. But I never thought I’ll become irrelevant, forgotten and buried in obscurity.

It is not  about me or others like me, who've walked off. My question is whether I'm helping or encouraging my friends to view life from a new perspective?

Off late, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in a war. I’m a character in the war, against fear. If I don’t put up a committed fight, I’ll be doing injustice to my role.

Fear is contagious. It spreads from leaders to the followers. The fight ought to be against the fear in the hearts of those who are poised to lead. Businesses and business leaders are arguably in the forefront of how the world is led today. They’re as powerful as politicians and religions.

The question is, “Are the institutions awakened to the need of the hour? Do they feel responsible for the direction businesses take? Or are they too trapped in the same insecurity of rankings?”

Let's talk?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Demonetisation - Yet Another Point of View

We debate and argue. We do it a lot because we skip a few stages of research, discussion and understanding. Let us try to not to do it here. Let’s assume that we are yet to take a position on the subject.

Demonetisation should not require much technical understanding of economics or monetary economics, I think. Let’s begin with something everyone agrees with. There’s a price everyone is paying for demonetisation. The farmers, the businessmen, the bureaucrats, the Reserve Bank of India, the banks, employees of banks, employees of cash management agencies, foreign tourists in the country, those who’ve hoarded cash by evading taxes and those who’re dealing in cash for illegal businesses. When one thinks of it, cash binds us more than cricket and religion.

We’re paying a price in anticipation of a few benefits. Three benefits to be precise: One, an attack on makers of counterfeit currency, two, an attack on the corrupt and three a movement towards a cashless transaction habit.

Of these, one is a long term benefit – the movement towards a cashless transaction habit. The subject does need deeper understanding, but for this discussion, we can safely say that there would be no dispute that this habit will solve a lot of problems for all – consumers, business community, banks, RBI, government. It is indeed a huge benefit. Cashless transactions are as old as the banking system, but in the recent years, they’ve become far more feasible as an alternative to cash. But the share of cashless transactions is abysmally low. A change in habit of such nature always comes in with a shock treatment like this one. If this demonetisation results in an increase in cashless transactions to even 10 – 15% of the total transactions, it can be said to be worth the trouble only for this reason.

But is it likely to happen? Now, we can debate. The demonetisation in itself supports the movement, but the simultaneous introduction of same value currency (and even higher value) goes very strongly against it. If we were not to replace the entire value of the old currency with new, perhaps the buyers and the sellers would have made an effort to learn and get comfortable with cashless transactions.

The other two benefits are not long term. Demonetisation has dealt a severe blow to the makers of counterfeit notes and also those who’ve hoarded cash. So, rightly, it has been termed as a surgical strike. Whom does one hit to hurt? The enemy, of course! The makers of counterfeit notes, who then circulate these notes to finance terrorism, are obviously enemies of the country and the people at large. They must be dealt with in the severest manner. Is it a hard enough blow to wipe them out? It’s difficult to guess, but most would agree that they may get badly wounded, but not wiped out. A wounded enemy becomes more dangerous, they say. We have to trust the government to take more steps to wipe them out.

Now, let’s move attention to the last category – the hoarders of cash. This is what most people appear very vocal about. On the basis of what one reads on social media, it appears that there is a belief that this move will go a long way in rooting out corruption.

Let's ponder deeper. There cannot be a debate that this move is a one-time blow. It is an attack – an act of violence.

While all of us hate the corrupt, we must agree that we don’t hate them as much as we hate the terrorists. These are people closer, next door. They are not enemies, but people we share an interdependence with. We’d like them amend their ways, get reformed – not get wiped out. In this case, most of us can appreciate the fact that our fight is against corruption – not the corrupt. Corruption is an element, present in people. It is present in every person in some form.

If you seem to appreciate this perspective, we can continue the discussion. Please leave a reply or comment to indicate if you’d like to continue this discussion. From this stage on, it may take some effort. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

We, The Idiots!

I read a few blog posts about how our march to modernity is ruining life, depleting values and causing massive exploitation. People like me, who've 'stepped out' of the mainstream regularly express themselves on such issues. Based on such articles and on my experience during the last few years, I've realised that we’ve come to belong to a category of idiots – absolute idiots.

We are able to see and very clearly articulate the follies of the system – the education system, the economic system, the governance system, the social system. We are able to see clearly and articulate the exploitation of the human resources, the natural resources, animals and birds. We are also able to articulate solutions, at least a direction in which the exploitation can be avoided, the follies can be overcome. But we are naive enough to believe that others cannot see them. We offer talks and discourses thinking that we’re the prophets. People listen to our rambling and agree wholeheartedly, but also ignore it. Neither the ruling party is interested nor the opposition. Neither the industrialist is interested nor the consumer. Neither the media is interested nor its audience. Neither is the exploiter bothered nor the exploited. That is the ultimate proof of our idiocy. The farmer, for whose cause we are prepared to take on the government does all he can to ensure that his children don’t have to get into farming. The unskilled worker, whose life we thought is better off in the village, is willing to grab half a chance to run to the city and live in miserable conditions. The parent, whose children are being ill-educated by the system isn’t interested in any ‘real’ education. He wants his child to pass the system and make a life for himself. Aren’t we idiots – fighting someone else’s battle, when that someone else himself is on the ‘other’ side.

We think of ourselves as brave pioneers of a new way of life. We think we’re an inspiration and hope for people, who want to take a plunge into bravery. Indeed, we’re idiots – for we are nothing more than a source of entertainment for them. They never call on us. When we repeatedly invite them, organise events for them, they oblige us by coming over. They enjoy the romantic side of our lives and make us feel good about it. To make us feel better, they even share a desire of living a life like ours, but soon forget all about it. Then we’re not expected to disturb them – this chapter is over for them. We, the idiots, tell ourselves that we must go in a thousand or ten thousand will be moved to act!

All this is still not the true representation of our idiocy. There are very few idiots like us, who walk out of a system, without insurance. But all of us want to live independently. We aren’t inclined to collaborate in order to improve our own lives. We hold the flags of our ideologies high, make small compromise every day, but to approach someone with another flag will be to lose identity.

God save us.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Just As Much (JAM)

"If you stop earning - absolutely, how many years can you carry on with whatever you own?”, I asked a few people. The neighbouring small farmer said three months. The bigger farmer said five years. My ex-subordinate, who earns about a million and half p.a. also said five years. My ex-colleague earning about ₹ 5 million said 20 years. The manual labourer who works in our farm said I won’t be able to repay what I borrowed to live during the last 3 months.

To earn for livelihood is a compulsion for few, not so for few others. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to know how much is enough to suffice till old age, say 90? If I knew that, and let’s say a buffer for another 10 years, I can live like a child – provided for – not a worry about finances – at least one aspect of life completely sorted out! Then, there is no point in earning more. I can work for other reasons.

The concept of JIT became quite famous in the context of production management a few decades back. Before that, ‘earlier the better’ was the norm. With regard to money, ‘more the better’ is the norm today. Let us explore the concept of Just As Much (JAM).  Why? For the same reasons that JIT was popular! If I continue to spend time and effort to earn money, which I won’t need, is it not a waste of time and effort?

Is it a difficult calculation? Does it require one to be a financial wizard to calculate? All that is needed is basic arithmetic. In fact, an excel sheet can obviate the need for that too. However, it can only be done by people who no longer aspire for a more expensive lifestyle. I use the word expensive and not better. Here we will confine ourselves to the domain of money.
Let us understand how. If I have ₹ 1 Cr and I am 40 years old, is that sufficient if I live till 90? More information required? My monthly expenses are ₹ 75k p.m. and I don’t aspire for a more expensive lifestyle. It should be quite easy to calculate. We need to check for inflation, returns on investment and plug in the figures in a sheet.

Calculations suggest that if my investments are able to generate a 12% pa return and the inflation is 10% pa, I will be able to manage till 2028 i.e. till the age of 52. I’ve also factored in a 2% pa increase in expenses due to lifecycle – kids growing up, medicines, etc. A ₹ 2 Cr networth can carry me on till 2050 (age 74 years). In calculation of networth, there is no need to exclude anything – not even the house you’re living in.

Now, that should sound encouraging to a lot of my friends. How will it get operational is the next question. But that’s a much easier one. This first level needs much deeper understanding and acceptance.

Is there a catch? Yes, there is if you’d like to call it so. Financial planners across the world make you believe that you got to slog it out till you retire, so that you’re able to survive post retirement. They plan to build a corpus or capital so huge that its earnings are able to meet your expenses till you die. The assumption is that the capital cannot be spent. I think this thinking became obsolete a couple of decades back. Look around – so many people who retired 10 - 15 years back have built sizable capital (networth), be it in real estate, equity, debt or gold. They’re all set to pass it on to their children as inheritance. But it is hardly required! The children are well off by their own selves. There is no reason to believe that I will have to leave any inheritance for my children. Correction: There is no reason to believe that I will have to leave any financial inheritance for my children. If this does not provide comfort to the reader that using up capital is okay, the discussion can end for him/her.

Let’s get back to the calculation. A ₹ 75k p.m. lifestyle in a city like Mumbai is not a lavish one, but neither is it very modest. We’re not considering investments here - 75k of expenses. So, if one is paying an EMI of say 40k, we consider only the rental value, which may be around 20-25k, or less.

The next calculation can be done for how expenses can be reduced, without impacting the quality of life adversely at all. How does that impact the sufficiency of capital? A 10k drop in expenses gives me a 5 year increase – takes me to 79.

I’ve moved out of Mumbai to live on a farm. Our monthly expenses for a family of 4 average out to less than 20k per month. Factor in the lumpsum expenses of travel, capital expenses and the figure will average 35k per month. Our standard of living has definitely gone up. Our expenses should come down, because we’ll grow more food in future; currently we buy everything.

Sounds interesting? Let me know.

Friday, 7 October 2016

The (Ir)Relevance of Intellectualism

Is all the intellectualism around governance methods, economic models, morality, social justice and education worth any effort? 

Can't we notice that constitutions, laws and codes have never managed to reign the corruption within?

We may want to believe that gift culture or bitcoin will avert collapse of the economy, that permaculture will reverse the destruction of agriculture, that alternate education will change human behaviour. But inside of the inside, we know the none of this will happen. We know that it is fear, which is making us believe!

Dear Intellectual,
Intellect is a tool of the divine, not a servant of your ego. Be mindful of the urge to misuse it.

Writing codes of civilisation is futile. When people have been cleansed from within, it will get reflected in their behaviour and intent. Stop wiping the mirror; the spot is on the face! Let's get that straight.

Can your intellect be useful in cleansing the inner selves? Cleanliness is, indeed, Godliness!