Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Consultant and the Shepherd

Its story time again! This time I would like to share a story about the (so called) corporate consultants, who will study, analyze, the problems or challenges, suggest solutions and fix the problems (hopefully). Hope you enjoy it.
One day a consultant was traveling in a car by the countryside when he came across a big herd of sheep. He slowed down to allow the herd to cross the road. Behind the head was the shepherd who managed the herd.
He stopped the car to take a break, and during that time he spoke to the shepherd. The consultant told him that he will tell him exactly how many sheep were in the herd, and in return the shepherd should give him a sheep as his fee. The innocent shepherd agreed. After 10-15 minutes of studies and analysis, the consultant replies, “You have got 257 sheep in your herd.”

The shepherd agreed that it was correct and told him that the consultant could choose one sheep from the herd. The consultant chose his sheep, put it in his car and when he was about to leave the shepherd asked him, “Aren’t you a consultant?” Surprised, the consultant replies, “Yes, but how did you come to know?”

The shepherd said, “I could figure it out in 3 instances. First, you offered me your service even without me asking for it. Secondly, you gave some information which I already know. You did not tell me anything new that I did not know about my business. Thirdly, you have taken my dog and put in your car thinking it’s a sheep, which shows that you have absolutely no idea about my business and its nature.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Are you in Programming or in Management?

I came across this bit in the internet and found it very amusing. Thought I will share it with you. :-)
In someway it talks about the truth, isn't it?
A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below.

He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be a programmer,” said the balloonist.

“I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I yaame Mallu

“MeiM jātā hōōM. Mujhe yahāM nahi āna haiM”. The venue is a packed school auditorium somewhere in Delhi, India. The school annual day celebrations are going on. It’s a group of students presenting a skit in Hindi, obviously the kid who is saying the dialogue, is from Kerala.

A fresh software engineer from Kerala, who came to Bangalore for the first time, in a bakery. “Errr…Can I get tea, chips…hai kya?”, confused as to use which language. “എന്താ വേണ്ടേ ?(What do you want?)”, comes the reply from the shopkeeper.

Mallu (മല്ലു): Short for Malayalee (മലയാളി) . A rare species of Homo-sapiens found in almost every terrain, irrespective of the climatic conditions of the local geography. Highly adaptable, ambitious (when outside their breeding ground of Kerala), has high survival capabilities (outside Kerala) of that of cockroaches and lizards. Can live without air for days but not without a Mohanlal or Mammootty movie, Puttu-kadala, Idiyappam-kadala or Appam-stew once a week.

Let’s accept it. Mallus (pet name for anyone who hails from God’s own country, Kerala) are everywhere. I don’t think there is any other group which is so widely present in the world. Right from North Pole to South Pole, from Sydney to Sweden, they are there. As a story goes when Neil Armstrong landed in Moon there was a Mallu, Govindan-kutty, there who welcomed him, and offered him a black coffee. It was told that Govindan-kutty was running a Hotel & Tea-shop there in moon long before Neil Armstrong landed. But one thing in true, which ever corner you go in this world there will be one Mallu at least to whom you will run into.

I have seen that they behave very strangely. We cannot find any correlation between their behavior when they are inside Kerala and outside Kerala.

Within Kerala there is nobody else who has so much of detrimental attitude, who takes things for granted. ‘It’s my world, it’s my life, who is bothered?’ – kind of attitude. You take the Mallu through Palakkad (one of the major border districts in Kerala), and slowly head towards the border check-post in Valayar, his behavior appears to change dramatically. And once outside Kerala, he is the smart, ‘ready-to-do-anything’ fellow, who knows how to get his way through.

He, in Kerala, will raise slogans and hold flags, throw stones at vehicles, put vehicles to fire, disrupt the normal life of people for petty issues, but the same Mallu when in some other state or country will dutifully follow the rules and will not get into any kind of fix.
The one who talks about labour unions, and justifies the need to have a socialistic society when crosses the Arabian Sea and reaches the shores of Arabic countries forgets all his past and starts living a life of a perfect citizen follow the capitalistic model there and admire it.

The one who blames and shouts at the Government of Kerala for having kept a toll booth in a bridge for Rs.10/- will very sincerely pay the toll to be paid in any other part of the world which will be several times this amount and will justify it.
I have failed to give a logical reasoning for this behavior. If anyone can help me understand this, I will be grateful. Is it because of the socio-economic-political scenario in Kerala, or is it because Kerala is supposed to be highly literate? I don’t know.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Scene 1: 1998, in a small town in India
Father to Son: Have you got the application form for B. Sc in the National College, make sure that you apply on time, well before the last date. Also remember to get the application for the PSC examination coming up for UD Clerks examination.
Wife to husband: I have been asking to repair this TV. This black & white TV has been giving blurred pictures over the past one week. Please call the mechanic today.
Son to mother: Mom, I am going for tuition. I will be late as I have to replace the cycle’s bell, and also have to get groceries from Ramu’s store.

Scene 2: July 23, 2008. The same family, relocated to the nearest metro.
Son to Dad: I will be reaching San Joe by 3rd, when you and mom reach there by 20th, I will arrange to pick you up, as I will be traveling to New York. I will get my apartment furnished and cleaned by the time you come.
Dad to son: Ok, but have your friend agreed to take care of the car till we are back? Also we have to talk to the Apartment owners association as we will not be here for 6 months.
Mom: I am yet to get the masalas and pickles that we have to take. Also I have spoken to Mrs. Sharma about the alliance for our son. As their daughter is also working in the nearby city, may be we can have our son meet her when we are there. We can also see and talk to her. I want him to get married by this year.

It might get into the dictionary, may be. A term used in US, to convey that the jobs there have been cut, and moved to India. Many there lost jobs, many here got jobs. The difference - the cost to the companies. The companies put it as the intellectual capital available, the quality of work, and the list goes on. ‘Bangalored’ is a term used in US, in a slight negative manner to indicate the job cuts there, which still keep happening. Now, I would like to know how this term impacted India.

If you look at a bigger picture, the Indian family has got transformed tremendously over the last decade. I remember, 10 years back, same time, nobody (I mean the ām Junta) had not heard about Infosys or TCS or Satyam. The term software was just taking the rounds. Computer languages were just being introduced. Well, it was there, but now it was getting more popularized. Youth who just passed out of college, who did not manage to get into a PSU or Government job, students who wanted to know more about computers (since from somewhere they had heard that Computers is the next big thing), all joined for these courses. Admission to Engineering which was considered a tough stream till early 1990s were getting (at least, feeling) simpler, with more and more colleges opening up.

Come 1999, and the software bubble burst. The few IT companies which had recruited some graduates delayed their joining; many IT professionals lost their jobs. But to the common Indian it did not make a difference. Silently he was getting ready for the next joy ride. Indian companies, by then had learnt the marketing techniques (projecting the cost factor to clients, and projecting the quality factor back home) which got them more and more business. A wave struck the IT sector in India, which was very dormant till then. Companies started recruiting heavily. Anybody from an engineering college could get into some IT company. And what it did to the āām Junta in a few years….

The early movers in IT got experience, moved up, fresh people were recruited heavily. Indian IT firms got more and more clients, in turn more and more money, in turn wanted more and more employees. Students were pushed, pressurized, brain-washed, compelled by parents, friends, relatives, ‘well-wishers’ to take up engineering, and if they were not able to get into any engineering college, to take up courses in IT from private institutes which advertised a pan-India presence and boasted about placements.

IT was tempting for the middle-class crowd, a relatively high pay packet which was not offered by any other sector for their experience, seemingly good working atmosphere (when compared to some engineering companies, in mechanical, civil or electrical streams). The IT crowd got bigger and richer. Many of them got chance to go ‘On-site’ (read US & money-minting). This economic growth of the IT crowd and IT companies pole-vaulted them into the top slots.

IT companies touched the US$ 1Bn mark in record time, which no other company in other sector could dream of. IT crowd (the so called middle-class Indian) could afford and started buying things which they could not even dream of a few years back. They bought house/houses, car/cars. Marriage market value of ‘Software Professional’ sore high touching unimaginable levels. The lifestyle of middle-class household began to change. The pressure on the students started increasing to join Engineering, or any IT company. They could not choose for a finance stream or a science stream of their choice. IT and Software became more popular terms than politics and corruption. Infosys and TCS become the topic of conversation among the parents and superseded the priority the PSUs had.

Money started flowing, and the value of money came down. The upper-class remained rich, the middle-class became richer, the poor became poorer. The economically weaker section was the worst hit due to this change in lifestyle. They could not afford things since inflation was sky high. The other sections managed to live through.

The BPO story is also similar. But the difference is that it was seen as less glamorous as compared to the IT scene. If you really look at the IT and BPO sector, both are same. It is just that the nature of work is different and skill sets required to do that job is different. Both jobs came from US or other regions. Both are outsourced. No difference. Just that the clients give more money to Indian companies for IT work than BPO work, which in turn results in more salary for IT guy then a BPO guy. Otherwise it’s all same.

I don’t know how this will go on or what is going to be the end. People have lost interest in other fields like R&D in Science, Economics, and Statistics, to name a few. Students who take jobs in those streams are looked down upon. Recently I happened to see a few programs in Discovery channel where a few of the people interviewed had jobs like ‘Elephant Researcher’, ‘Wildlife Activist and Photographer, ‘Wildlife artist’. The social scenario in India does not allow an Indian to take up jobs like these and follow their passion, their interests. Students are taught art forms like music and dance to add market value to them, not because they have passion for that. Nobody is bothered to develop artistic talents in them, all are in a rat race to gain, I don’t know what. May be money, power, social status, fame.

This is what Bangalored has done to India, both good and bad. But I hope someday in future the people realize what they have lost and have been losing in the process, and work towards restoring the Indian culture, to respect and value each individual irrespective of his background, financial status, job, position. Some day it will happen.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Live and Let Die


I was having lunch at my office when this message popped up in my mobile. I took the mobile out from my pocket with great difficulty and read the message which looked like this:
‘News flash: Inflation touches 11.43%, an all time high in 13 years. Sensex down 445 points, Nifty down 113 points. Log on to for more details.’

I got irritated, what is this inflation got to do with me. Ok, Sensex and Nifty I can understand as I have also invested in a small way (after hearing the India shining story and all). So Sensex & Nifty didn’t irritate me as much as this inflation figure. After lunch, I was still thinking about it. Inflation: a term that I didn’t know much about in school days. Theoretically I knew something about it in college days, but I never bothered to think too much about it as I thought it is something to do with the Economists and Statisticians in this world.

But now I was thinking about it. What is inflation? Simply put it means the rate at which value of Rupee decreases (I don’t think it ever increases). So if it is 10%, for e.g., it means next year, you will have to pay Rs.110, for an item which is worth Rs.100 now. I went to a website to know more about it. It told me that inflation was around 5-7 % normally and it had risen to 11% off late. As I understood (and felt with increase of prices in almost everything) we have to pay extra for everything. Fuel prices increased, which lead to increase of prices of all other commodities. After looking at the figures and news in the website I concluded: ‘Live and Let Die’.

Of course I like Bond movies of gadgets and girls, but this title of one Bond movie is in a different context and has a different meaning. I go by the Buddhist philosophy of removing our desires, which are the root cause of all the miseries in life. So the statement “Live and Let Die’ means: ‘You Live and let all your desires/ ambitions/ wishes Die’.

Here are some practical steps on how you can beat inflation and earn & save more.
1. Walk: Don’t use any mode of transport, no bikes/ scooters, no cars, not even public transport because those prices are also increasing. Walking is good for health, and also prevents and cures many current-age diseases like obesity, hypertension etc. Only in case of emergencies use public transport, that too, try not to take tickets.

2. Fast: Fast 3-4 days a week. Fasting is a very effective way to balance mind and body. It even saves you the hefty food bills in your budget. Fasting helps reduce weight and tone your body (Fitness freaks, are you listening??) If possible don’t eat anything at all.

3. Don’t go to school: Don’t send children to school. Home schooling is the best. It saves lakhs of rupees spent on education which just don’t actually educate kids but ruins them. Anyways home schooling is the best till they are 15. After that if necessary send them to some government college, avail all reservations possible to minimize cost. Motivate them by stories of college drop-outs like Bill Gates, and see if something works.

4. Turn Spiritual: Practice meditation, try to kill the desires in you, those disturbing thoughts of latest designs in Shoppers Stop, Levi’s, Nike, Reebok and the like. Practice to renounce everything, live a minimal life. Use clothing only when it’s absolutely necessary, and that too very minimal. Get motivated from Bollywood actresses who practice this point (they are ardent followers of Gandhiji’s philosophy of minimal clothing).

Also there is another point which relates to inflation. This is regarding the salary hikes in companies. (Hope my manager reads this!!!) As I already mentioned if inflation is 10% it means you will need Rs.110 to buy an item which is worth Rs.100 today. So you getting a hike of 10% just means that your salary is adjusted to inflation, or in simple words, your salary is kept the same. Only if you are getting a hike of above 10% can you afford to buy something extra. And if you are getting a hike of anything below 10%, say 7%, you will not be able to afford the thing (which is worth Rs.110) which you are able to afford before the hike. In effect, your salary is being reduced if your hike is below the rate of inflation.

Even if you didn’t know what inflation is by the above examples you must have got an idea on what it is about. Now you are ready to device your own ways and means to beat inflation or be ahead of it.