#160 -100 Days and Does India Needs a Shadow Cabinet?


Democracy is the Best thing to have happened to India. It has its own issues, Merits and Demerits, its own charm and its own fun. Most of the times, the Electorate is not ‘Captive’ and its free-will makes its Voters Taste and Test various ideologies, Manifestos and Plans as well as its own ‘idiosyncrasies’ and ‘Inconsistencies’. Sometimes, like in India a Family runs the Government for years and is blamed for its poor governance, cronyism and Corruption. A New Government then takes shape and people vote for it with Hope and Expectations. Sometimes the period lasts full term of 60 months – sometimes, with Coalition becoming ‘Dharma’ of Democracy – the Governments fall in as low as 13 days – leading to New Elections. Yet, that’s the Fun in living in a Democracy. A Voter gets to Choose !

As the Modi Government of NDA in India completes its 100 days ‘HoneyMoon Period’ many in Media are conducting Polls, publishing Achievements and where the Government failed to fulfill or came slow or did nothing about the Public aspirations – TV, Newspapers, Websites are full of articles and Social Media is abuzz about the Good or Bad 100 days that we have seen of a New Government.

That is not the topic I would discuss today. One of the things strong on my mind for past 10 years has been the Need of a Shadow Cabinet in India.

  • What is The Shadow Cabinet: Shadow Cabinet is a feature of the Westminster system of government.
  • It comprises a senior group of opposition spokespeople who, under the leadership of the Leader of of the Opposition, form an alternative cabinet to that of the government, and whose members shadow or mark each individual member of the Cabinet.

  • Unfortunately, for the Congress Party in India, The Lok Sabha Speaker has not granted LOP status ( Leader of Opposition) to the 2nd largest party quoting precedent. This poses several problems including in very senior appointments like LokPal which requires the LOP consent.

  • With the Ruling Party not being in majority in the Upper House ‘Rajya Sabha’ – this can complicate things for the Ruling party in getting crucial Bills passed and slow down its plans of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’ thereby not allowing it to fulfill its poll promise of “Good Days Ahead” or ‘Achche Din”.

During the Elections, this writer had written comments about the need for a Shadow Cabinet idea and not just Election Manifesto but Concrete Plans by the Opposing parties being kept ready once they Win and assume power.

Coalition ‘Dharma’ makes things complicated. It makes you adopt willy-nilly the ‘CMP or Common Minimum Programs’ and give way to your populist/ better thought plans and ideas.

Members of a shadow cabinet are often but not always appointed to a Cabinet post if and when their party gets into government.

  • It is the Shadow Cabinet’s responsibility to criticize the policies and actions of the government, as well as offering an alternative program.
  • In most countries, a member of the shadow cabinet is referred to as a Shadow Minister

Many of the Actions which BJP / NDA Government took for example the Departure of ‘Unwanted Governors’ – the Closure of the Planning Commission et al appeared to be done out of whim and not as per a Plan.

The appointment of the Prime Minister’s Advisor who was ex-Chairman of TRAI had to be done with an Ordinance and debated in the Parliament. None of the above steps were in the public domain or expected. While they may have been on the fond wish list of the supporters.

Probity in public life can be enhanced with a strong opposition. Voice of Dissent within the party can also be heard and not muffled. A strong Shadow Cabinet can give the Government a feeling of getting to play a ‘Kho-Kho’ game in which tables can turn. This can work as a deterrent for complacent governments and also positively for Good Governance.

Do Let me know what you think?

 

#159 – Design Ideas for the Most Innovative/Disruptive Keyboard :)


When I was 12, we lived above Press Trust of India which had several teleprinters printing Reams of paper filled with latest News. For a young curious kid, it was fascinating. I made friends with the Mechanic who showed me the secret button which when pulled would automatically type their Daily Prompts for Reporters – ” The Quick Brown Fox Jumps over the Lazy Dog”, A later variant to which was ” Now is the Time for all good men to come to the aid of the party”, I liked it. So much that I went to learn both English language with Typewriting at a Coaching School for Three Years ! The Skill learnt is still useful as I sit and type this on a Keyboard of my MacPro – A TV Type Writer – trying to become an Author :)

I noticed many effective messages being conveyed thru a New Medium recently. Much like the Telex message which sends a Test message or a Prompt to the other side I found lot of Research and Development work done by Key board manufacturers in recent years. Changing the Graphic of the Keyboard and replacing it with meaningful messages is what I observed, and it is fascinating as much as it is Fun. I wonder whether Pre-Depression America had this Sub-Prime Rate related Button on the Keyboards? :)

I tried collecting a few good ones. You may have also come across such examples of creativity. I quite liked them as I feel it is a great communication Medium which conveys your message Simply in Shortest visual form !

Wish Happy Birthday to People in your Contact List at the Touch of a Button ! And, you won’t need the Linkedin ‘Connected’ App:)

I did not understand this one. When You are Ready why Wait? I think the visualizer tried to replicate the Traffic Signal on the Keboard here :)

I love this one ! I am sure, it would a delight of the CFO who loves Free Cash Flows and would actually Pay to include this in all Credit Controller’s Keyboards to make the People Pay – Pay on time. Some Smart Credit Control actually suggested that this button be linked to Customers’ Credit Card which automatically takes care of the Two stage Verification process in One . Two – In – One ! Great ! :)

Of course, this would be to the delight of People who Dislike the Social Media and people who use Social Media. I am sure, there would be others too who will opt for this button on their Key board.

Now this could be a Student Friendly or Student Enemy button – depending upon whether you are looking at it from a Question point of view or Answer point of view i.e. whether you push this as a Professor pushing new Case Study on the Class or the Group Leader Pushing the button which gives the answers, makes powerpoint, makes an Audio/video project presentation on behalf of the whole class – all at the touch of a button :). Who won’t like to have it.

I have no doubt, This would be the Politician’s and the Verified Accounts as well as the various ‘Quotes’ and ‘Link pushers’ favorite. This button Auto-Generates Tweets much like the BS Generator websites on the Internet which many students writing copious business and technical report writers use frequently :) – just to score some brownie points ! ( the tune you hear thru your speaker is that of ” For a Few Dollars More ! “

No need to elaborate ! This one is called the Danger Button or Emergency button for Home, Office, Students – all rolled into one for different emergencies. Saves all work and shuts down the Laptop, Computer, Smartphone, Tablet within 0-5 seconds !

Whoever designed it probably had Customer interest in the mind but even the Keyboard manufacturers would refrain from making and hence this is a PREMIUM BUTTON, The next button in our R&D lab is called ” Highest Escalation” which not just reaches the HIGHEST IN C SUITE by email but also leaves a text message on his smart phone, Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter with copies to all in the Customer Service Hierarchy. Booking started a few years ago ! The Waiting time is over 100 years as most Husbands, Wives, Mothers in Laws, teachers etc. etc. have booked several. ‘Several’ because they do not wish to Complain for a faulty keyboard ! :)

I am 100% Sure, The Learned Professors who wrote “Balanced ScoreCard” and taught us about ‘Customer Intimacy’ or the ‘European Foundation of Quality Management’ which assesses Organisational Excellence thru Customer Service and Complaints and the Auditors of ISO 9001 would really see the merit in having this button. The button would come with some shortcuts for Escalation matrix Adherence by (?) Customers !!! I know, Customer is the King, he makes the rules but all of the above named gentlemen and ladies would like to put the customer on a ‘leash’ and would like them to conform to the Escalation Policy ! And a button like this would be greatly appreciated and would form the First sentence of your Audit Reports !

This one is a good one ! But don’t mistake that if you are bored reading the Linkedin Pulse articles – by pressing this you can change to another author, or another article leave alone the ghastly thought – to rewrite and CHANGE this article and replace your own name as the Author. Don’t worry we are doing R&D WITH THE UPCOMING BUTTON CALLED

R E P L A C E !

Book in Advance – Here and Keep Tracking Here Daily. If not safisfied, we have already provided you with the Complain Button above.

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p class=”center”>Thanks for your time – This is another button in my wishlist.

 

#158 – Leaders are Born and Leaders are Made. Are you Leading or Managing?


Are Leaders Born or they are made? Very old debate indeed.

Is Manager the One Who Pushes and the Leader who Pulls as this Diagram below shows?

Or it is the Lean Management Definition which better explains the Difference?

Reminds me of a Hindi Phrase “Honhar birwan ke hot chikne paat” which means “महान लोगों की महानता उनके बाल्यकाल से ही दिख जाती है।” Greatness of Great people is visible from their Childhood. It requires a different eye; it is said, to spot it, see the small symbolic actions of the child, his/her hidden talent, their latent skills and it is said that the Masters ( Gurus) have that ‘X-Ray’ eyes to see them and develop them before they reach adulthood.

The Buddhist saying is – ‘When the Pupil is ready, the Master Appears”.

We see leadership as a continuum with born leaders and “nonleaders” at the extreme ends. Born vs. made continuum. Most people fall somewhere in the … Middle…Or On some ‘Leadership is Thrust upon…”.

Let me explain with this visual I found on Google.

So would it be alright to say that we have a Sleepy leader ( Latent) inside every one of us. Who sits behind masks, opaque glass or stained glass waiting its turn to come out?

Let us take the argument further about Born Leaders, Sleeping Leaders ( I prefer to call them with this name rather than Non-Leaders) who are waiting to be awakened. Either the Circumstances, Situations bring out the Leadership qualities from these Sleeping Leaders or a Spark, A Trigger, A prompt by the Guru or Mentor !.

Many of us know The Story of RaceHorse and Legend – ” Secretariat” . The story of Secretariat began with the toss of a coin in 1969 between Penny Chenery of Meadow Stable and Ogden Phipps of Wheatley Stable. The coin toss was the idea of Phipps, owner of Bold Ruler, and “Bull” Hancock of Claiborne Farms as a way to get the very best mares for Bold Ruler, and when the toss went their way, to add well-bred fillies to their own broodmare band.

Read the very interesting story on Wikipedia

Secretariat (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989) was an American Thorough bred racehorse that in 1973 became the first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 25 years. He set race records in all three events in the series – the Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5), the Preakness Stakes (1:53), and the Belmont Stakes (2:24) – records that still stand today. He is considered to be one of the greatest Thoroughbreds of all time. In 1999, ESPN ranked Secretariat the 35th-best athlete of the 20th century, the highest-ranking racehorse on the list. He ranked second behind Man o’ Warin The Blood-Horse‘sList of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century. He was also ranked second behind Man o’ War by a six-member panel of experts assembled by the Associated Press. He was also ranked second behind Man o’ War by a Sports Illustrated panel of seven experts.

Few days ago, in another article I mentioned a dialogue I once had with a Retired Dacoit who asked whether ” I am selfish or Selfless person”. The Topic of Leading of Managing also begins here. To my mind, if we draw a diagram as below – we shall find the Leadership Talent in un-named intersecting portion of this Venn Diagram.

It is my belief that Leaders are Made.

“ Man is not the creature of circumstances, circumstances are the creatures of men. We are free agents, and man is more powerful than matter.”

Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881)
British prime minister and writer

Leadership is different from management, but not for the reasons most people think. Leadership isn’t mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having “charisma” or other exotic personality traits. It’s not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it.

The Difference Between Management and Leadership

Management is about coping with complexity. Its practices and procedures are largely a response to one of the most significant developments of the twentieth century: the emergence of large organizations. Without good management, complex enterprises tend to become chaotic in ways that threaten their very existence. Good management brings a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions like the quality and profitability of products.

What I find most interesting here is the Convergence Where the ‘LeadMan’ start taking over. This is perhaps the ‘Sweet Spot’.

Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change. Part of the reason it has become so important in recent years is that the business world has become more competitive and more volatile. Faster technological change, greater international competition, the deregulation of markets, overcapacity in capital-intensive industries, an unstable oil cartel, raiders with junk bonds, and the changing demographics of the work-force are among the many factors that have contributed to this shift. The net result is that doing what was done yesterday, or doing it 5% better, is no longer a formula for success. Major changes are more and more necessary to survive and compete effectively in this new environment. More change always demands more leadership.

As a Manager Learns – The Transition from Management to Leadership can happen when the following begins to happen.

It is interesting to see the comparison between Solid and Liquid and when Solid Ice transforms into Liquid Water or Vice-Versa interesting changes take place. So is with the Transition/ Transformation phase for ‘Made Leaders’ who transform from Management to Leadership thru a process called ‘Promoting from Within’ when the system throws a Leader – Most often a Younger Manager.

A Leader Fails when he says : “No One Listens To me”

 
 
 

 

#157 – Is the Talk about Igniting Employee Passion A Myth?


” DMTGP” Deliver More Through Great People : This was a slogan for a Great Employer I worked for, for over 20 years. It had received European Best Employer Awards and not just in Europe it followed the ‘Investors in People’ Standard in countries like India as well. More and more Companies are these days trying to PMWFE “Produce More With Fewer Employees” since the great recession, much has been written and studied on employee passion in recent years. Research has shown that engaged, passionate employees are more productive than those who aren’t. Yet the population of engaged employees is still less than 30%. When we Google the words “Employee Passion” we get over 22 million results.

  • Ken Blanchard and his team, I believe, have led the way in this area of research and knowledge.
  • Yet, with so much content on passionate employees, what are leaders not understanding since most employees are far from passionate about the work they perform?

 

Two Myths :

1.One Process for All – Or One Size Fits All approach well rooted in Laziness and inertia to look for the Right Process/ Right Approach.

  • It is observed, when working with leaders in the area of employee engagement, most of them look at employee passion, or engagement, as a process.
  • The process often includes providing: purpose, meaningful work, growth and development, relationship with manager etc.
  • But, employees don’t become passionate because of an employee engagement formula a leader uses. We are all individuals. In fact there are over 7 billion of us, and what creates passion for me probably will not create passion for you.
  • As a leader, we first need to understand your employee. We need to understand their strengths and challenges, skills, knowledge, and values before we can ever hope to influence their passion. So start our understanding by having monthly 1-1 meetings with each of your team members.
  • Take time right now and schedule 60 minutes with team members for this month. Better yet, schedule out six months in advance and make the time sacred. This time is for the employee, not for us. It is a time to show our commitment to learning more about each of them and how we can help them to reach their full potential through a development conversation. In addition to having these meetings, if we haven’t already done so, adopt an assessment tool that we can use to understand each other’s preferences and strengths.

2. Leaders Drive Passion -

  • A portion of employee passion is not about what a leader does, says or acts. A leader can’t “make” an employee passionate.
  • Employee passion is a partnership between leader and employee. And there are some people in this world who are just not “built” for passion. We call these people “Eeyore”, the gloomy donkey from Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • Leaders need to bring the right people onto their team who are already passionate or have the potential to be passionate and they also need to prune those who don’t have the capacity to be a passionate employee.
  • And the pruning part can be difficult because you might have a very skilled and knowledgeable employee on your team, yet their behaviors demonstrate disengagement on a consistent basis.”

So what can leaders do to influence and impact those who do have the capacity to be passionate?

  1. Make sure that each employee is in the right position that leverages their strengths and loves. Leaders often misinterpret an employee’s strengths as also a love of the strength.
  2. Be there and be present. When employees know they have the support of their leader, that their leader recognizes the value they bring to the organization, and will spend the time to aid in their success, passion is just a matter of time. And when an employee demonstrates passion at work, recognize and celebrate it. Remember that recognition, and celebration should be individualized as we discussed earlier.
  3. Show your passion. As a leader, you can’t expect other to be passionate about what they do unless you are modeling your own passionate behavior.

Leaders always need to be striving towards employee passion for everyone, but they need to remember that

1. Employee passion is individual,

2. Not all employees are wired to be passionate, and

3. Igniting Employee passion is the responsibility of both the employee and the leader.


To be engaged passionately at work, what do Employees Need:
  1. Sense of Purpose – Need to Contribute – Bridge between Present and Future
  2. Work they feel is worth doing
  3. Autonomy or Lack of ‘SnooperVision’
  4. Collaborative Teams
  5. Growth Opportunities
  6. Fairness Treatment
  7. Appreciation – Recognition and Applause for Good Work Done
  8. Connected and Helpful Colleagues
  9. Intimacy – Connected Leaders – Rituals – Feeling Special
  10. Sense of Gratitude by Leaders for whom they Feel, They Work.

News from Transparency International


25 August 2014

Today’s top story

India: India reviews state hospitals to end widespread corruption
Reuters

The government on Saturday ordered a review of activities at all state-owned hospitals to end what the health minister called systemic corruption, as part of the new administration’s crackdown on malpractice in the healthcare sector.

 

More news

 

Blogs and opinion

 

News from Transparency International

 
 

 

#156 – “Going back to Square One” There is no such thing – In C Suite.


El Camino de la Muerte, considered “the world’s most dangerous road”, Bolivia. ( See the picture below).

The roles of the C Suite Members include :-

Establish Vision, Mission and Values

  • Determine the Company’s Vision and Mission to guide and set the pace for its current operations and future development.
  • Determine the values to be promoted throughout the company.
  • Determine and review company goals.
  • Determine company policies

After watching such a Lovely View who would like to Go Back to Square One ? Backtosquareone ” is a phrase that means “togobackto the beginning, after a dead-end or failure”. Go back to square one – Dictionary meaning says, Fig.toreturntothestartingpoint.(Alludes to the squares of a board game.)It’s back to square one. We have to start-over.It looks like it’s back to square one for you.One step forward, two steps back typically refers to a Frog in the Well. Someone who has no View beyond his own limited View Point. We have all heard this catch-phrase.

  • Is it something that we say that means every time we make progress, something bad happens. which causes worse situation than we were to begins with. Every solution we come up with seems to create more problems than it solves, so it’s one step forward, two steps backward.

There is no such thing as “Going Back to Square One” even if you feel like you’re having to Start Over, you are trying again with more knowledge, strength and power than you had before. Your journey was never over, it was just waiting for you to find it again.

There are areas where the C Suite Members can seek and receive Feedforward/ Feedback but there is no Going Back to Square One.

External environment

Your activity in reading and networking for information about news and developments: This is a matter of giving greater priority to the external environment.

Discuss with a coach, mentor or colleague how you can take steps to ensure that you regularly scan current affairs and meet relevant people. The questions in this section each give an indication of appropriate actions to take.

Internal affairs

Your effectiveness in collecting and monitoring information about the state of the organisation: Now that you are a director you should take an interest in affairs outside your own department.

Use the suggestions in the questions in this section to prepare an action plan, or discuss it with a coach or mentor.

Stakeholders

Your attitude to shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, the community and environment: As a director you have responsibilities for a wide range of stakeholders.

It might be useful to ask for a discussion at board level or to discuss it with your chairman, coach or mentor.

Decision making

Your skills at making a decision and forming your own judgement: As a director you are exposed to a wider range of decision-making.

This is an important activity and worth attending an appropriate course or raising with your coach.

Role flexibility

Your ability to behave appropriately in the different roles you have to assume: Directors face the challenge of multiple roles.

This should be addressed in a director development programme or with your executive coach.

Integrity

Your behaviour as a director and the balance between openness, honesty, integrity and commercial gain: Integrity is a personal matter, but at this level should be covered within the board’s published values.

If this is not so, you should raise it with the chairman and suggest it is included in a strategy meeting or corporate retreat.

Systems thinking

Your understanding of the relationship between parts of the system that includes your organisation.

If you have not covered this previously, it should be included in a director development programme or dealt with by your coach.

Board governance

Knowledge and understanding of your responsibilities on the board: This is a very important matter for both individual directors and the board.

These matters should be covered as part of your induction as a director – if not, read them up, attend a course or discuss with your coach.

Business sense

Your understanding of what is required for a business to be successful: You are likely to have picked up business sense as you progress through your career, but as a director you have a wider responsibility.

Discuss your current awareness with a mentor or coach.

Scenarios

The ability to think about the future and the impact of events: Scenario planning is different from strategic planning.

If you don’t already do it, suggest that you ask a facilitator to run a scenario planning exercise.

Team behaviour

Your behaviour as a team member within the board of directors

The Positive Mind and the Motivator within us repeats:

” There is no such thing as “Going Back to Square One” even if you feel like you’re having to Start Over, you are trying again with more knowledge, strength and power than you had before. Your journey was never over, it was just waiting for you to find it again.”

 

#155- 6 P’s of CSR Success in the C Suite.


A reader kindly asked me to elaborate on the Role of the C Suite in Owning and Promoting CSR within the Organisation and outside. The prior article was bit lengthy and I could not add it there.

First, Let me Give you 6 P’s of CSR Success: They are…

Let me explain.

I consider myself lucky to have worked with the Dutch MNC where the CEO and the Board was all three i.e. Passionate, Possessive, Possesed and considered CSR as a medium to instill Pride in our people. This C Suite took is beyond in the typical ‘Inside to Outside’ approach and developed very strong Partnerships with UN WFP and other organisations worldwide in Pursuit of Common objectives, Common Passions, Using Common Possessions, Motivating People to Participate and like People Possessed carry forward CSR.

This was the First company in Europe, to publish its Annual report and the CSR Annual report simultaneously on the Same Day ! And, predictably, the AGMs had more questions from stakeholders about CSR, Road Safety and all the good things we were doing towards fulfilment of this cause.

As I joined this function – moving sideways from my Profit Centre role, I was told by the interviewer:

  1. You’ll move from Command Role to Influence and Impact Role.
  2. You’ll Indirectly impact and influence all the People who work for the company and its stakeholders in your country.

  3. Don’t Expect thanks, you may feel it’s a thankless job – Enjoy ! If you like works of Public Good !

  4. Your phones will stop ringing, you may begin to feel you are held incommunicado ! You can change all that – The Initiative is in your hands ~ as is the Finishiative !

So Here You have the Success Formula in All P’s for Great CSR permeating from the Very Top – The C Suite and the Supervisory Board down to the junior most person on the shopfloor:

  1. Passion for what we do,
  2. Possession/ Possessiveness,
  3. Possessed People, Determined People,
  4. Pride in People,
  5. People doing works of Public Good,
  6. Partnerships – In Humanitarian work there is No Competition.

With Able support from the Top – This became our Formula for Success !

 

#154 – How will India’s New CSR Law- Influence and Impact the C Suite?


Introduction:

Corporate Social Responsibility is not a new concept in India, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India has recently notified the Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 along with Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 “hereinafter CSR Rules” and other notifications related thereto which makes it mandatory (with effect from 1st April, 2014) for certain companies who fulfill the criteria as mentioned under Sub Section 1 of Section 135 to comply with the provisions relevant to Corporate Social Responsibility.

What is CSR?


The term “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” can be referred as corporate initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on the environment and impact on social welfare. The term generally applies to companies efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators or environmental protection groups.

Corporate social responsibility may also be referred to as “corporate citizenship” and can involve incurring short-term costs that do not provide an immediate financial benefit to the company, but instead promote positive social and environmental change.

While proposing the Corporate Social Responsibility Rules under Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, the Chairman of the CSR Committee mentioned the Guiding Principle as follows:

  • “CSR is the process by which an organization thinks about and evolves its relationships with stakeholders for the common good, and demonstrates its commitment in this regard by adoption of appropriate business processes and strategies.
  • Thus CSR is not charity or mere donations.
  • CSR is a way of conducting business, by which corporate entities visibly contribute to the social good. Socially responsible companies do not limit themselves to using resources to engage in activities that increase only their profits.
  • They use CSR to integrate economic, environmental and social objectives with the company’s operations and growth .”

India is the first country to mandate a minimum spend on corporate social responsibility initiatives. In a country facing multiple socio-economic challenges – can it work?

Building a better future: the Indian government has brought into Effect new CSR guidelines requiring companies to spend 2% of their net profit on social development. On 1 April this year, the government of India implemented new CSR guidelines requiring companies to spend 2% of their net profit on social development.

For whom Applicable?

The companies on whom the provisions of the CSR shall be applicable are contained in Sub Section 1 of Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013. As per the said section, the companies having Networth of INR 500 crore or more; or Turnover of INR 1000 crore or more; or Net Profit of INR 5 crore or more during any financial year shall be required to constitute a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Board “hereinafter CSR Committee” with effect from 1st April, 2014. The pictorial representation below gives the representation of Section 135 (1).

The above provision requires every company having such prescribed

  1. Networth or
  2. Turnover or
  3. Net Profit

shall be covered within the ambit of CSR provisions. The section has used the word “companies” which connotes a wider meaning and shall include the foreign companies having branch or project offices in India.

What to do when CSR is applicable?

Once a company is covered under the ambit of the CSR, it shall be required to comply with the provisions of the CSR. The companies covered under the Sub section 1 of Section 135 shall be required to do the following activities:

1. As provided under Section 135(1) itself, the companies shall be required to Constitute Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Board “hereinafter CSR Committee”. The CSR Committee shall be comprised of 3 or more directors, out of which at least one director shall be an independent director.

2. The Board’s report shall disclose the compositions of the CSR Committee.

3. All such companies shall spend, in every financial year, at least two per cent of the average net profits of the company made during the three immediately preceding financial years, in pursuance of its Corporate Social Responsibility Policy. It has been clarified that the average net profits shall be calculated in accordance with the provisions of Section 198 of the Companies Act, 2013. Also, proviso to the Rule provide 3(1) of the CSR Rules that the net worth, turnover or net profit of a foreign company of the Act shall be computed in accordance with balance sheet and profit and loss account of such company prepared in accordance with the provisions of clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 381 and section 198 of the Companies Act, 2013.

What constitutes CSR under Companies Act 2013:

Recently notified Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 has defined the term “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” as follows:

“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” means and includes but is not limited to :

i. Projects or programs relating to activities specified in Schedule VII to the Act; or

ii. Projects or programs relating to activities undertaken by the board of directors of a company (Board) in pursuance of recommendations of the CSR Committee of the Board as per declared CSR Policy of the company subject to the condition that such policy will cover subjects enumerated in Schedule VII of the Act.

Meaning thereby, conducting all those activities which are either specified under Schedule VII to the Companies Act, 2013 or those which are recommended by the CSR Committee of the Board as per the CSR Policy and are undertaken by the Board of directors of the Company will be covered under the scope of activities of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Activities covered under Schedule VII of the Companies Act 2013:

Ministry of Corporate Affairs vide its Notification dated 27th February, 2014 (which shall come into force with effect from 1st April, 2014) has come up with the modified Schedule VII which covers wide range of activities which can be undertaken by the Companies as a part of their CSR initiatives.

The activities involve the following:

  1. Eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition, promoting preventive health care and sanitation and making available safe drinking water;
  2. Promoting education, including special education and employment enhancing vocational skills especially among children, women, elderly, and the differently abled and livelihood enhancement projects;
  3. Promoting gender equality, empowering women, setting up homes and hostels for women and orphans; setting up old age homes, day care centres and such other facilities for senior citizens and measures for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups;
  4. Ensuring environmental sustainability, ecological balance, protection of flora and fauna, animal welfare, agroforestry, conservation of natural resources and maintaining quality of soil, air and water;
  5. Protection of national heritage, art and culture including restoration of buildings and sites of historical importance and works of art, setting up public libraries, promotion and development of traditional arts and handicrafts;
  6. Measures for the benefit of armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents;
  7. Training to promote rural sports, nationally recognized sports, paralympic sports and Olympic sports;
  8. Contribution to the Prime Ministers’ National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government for socio-economic development and relief and welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women;
  9. Contributions or funds provided to technology incubators located within academic institution which are approved by the Central Government;
  10. Rural development projects.

The above mentioned activities constitute the CSR activities and the companies which are covered under the provisions of Section 135 shall be required to carry out any one or more of the activities as specified above along with following its CSR Policy. I came across an interesting Graphic which aptly describes the CSR 1.0 and its smooth transition towards CSR 2.0 in the artist’s imagination.

It sounds like legislation is to be celebrated – but does it go far enough?

Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Sustainability Reporting for Sustainable Development conference, held this June in India, issued a joint declaration stating that while the government bill was welcome the 2% ruling could lead to forced philanthropy, ‘tick box’ behaviour, tokenism or even corruption, and masking of data to avoid having to comply. Time will show if this legislation will have a real impact on poor people’s lives and prevent actual environmental degradation.

The GRI conference, attended by thought leaders from business, civil society, social service, academia and the government, issued the Mumbai Declaration, which among a list of 13 points specifically highlights these issues with the government’s CSR guidelines.

This is not the first less than positive response to the Indian government’s CSR guidelines; business leaders have expressed concerns from the corporate perspective. Ratan Tata, the former chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the $100bn Tata group, has said:

We have a phenomenon which is meant to be good but is going to be somewhat chaotic … we don’t as yet know what kind of monitoring there’ll be in terms of how well this money is used.

Concerns about the motives and implementation of this new mandate have also been voiced by Azim Premji, the philanthropist and head of the £3.4bn IT services firm Wipro, part of the global Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Last year he said:

My worry is the stipulation should not become a tax isat a later stage … Spending 2% on CSR is a lot, especially for companies that are trying to scale up in these difficult times. It must not be imposed.

  • Can government-mandated CSR be a social development path for a nation in which over 900 Million have a mobile connection but only 600 million or 36% of the population has has access to a clean toilet?
  • While the current CSR spending by the top 100 Indian companies is estimated at Euros 0.6 Billion per annum, the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs anticipates that about 6,000 Indian companies will be required to undertake CSR projects in order to comply with the new guidelines, with many companies undertaking these initiatives for the first time. Some estimates indicate that the CSR spends in India could triple to £1.8bn a year.
  • After the latest Independence Day speech by the New Prime Minister Narendra Modi TCS and Bharati Foundation pledged Rs.100 Crores each for construction of Toilets in Schools and hopefully more corporates and PSUs and Banks will follow suit.

The government has set out specific guidelines on how CSR activities should be handled. These stipulate that the CSR activities need to be implemented by a CSR committee that includes independent directors. This committee will be responsible for preparing a detailed plan on CSR activities, including the expenditure, the type of activities, roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders and a monitoring mechanism for such activities. The company board is required to approve the CSR policy for the company and disclose its contents in their report as well as publishing the details on the company’s official website. If the company fails to spend the prescribed amount, the board in its report is required to specify the reasons.

The government’s suggested CSR activities include measures to eradicate hunger, promote education, environmental sustainability, protection of national heritage and rural sports, and contributions to prime minister’s relief fund. The company can implement these CSR activities on its own, through its non-profit foundation or through independently registered non-profit organisations that have a record of at least three years in similar activities. This provision has led to a boom in the number of NGOs that can implement these CSR activities. A recent article in the Times of India reported that there are over 2 million operational NGOs in India.

Choosing the right one from such a large number of NGOs won’t be easy. Some organisations such as Samhita Social Ventures and HelpYournNGO are trying to facilitate this process by setting up online portals to assist. These portals group the NGOs across different sectors such as education, sanitation, women’s welfare, water, livelihood, and children and also seek to provide a qualitative evaluation of the NGOs.

While the larger companies typically have CSR teams to carry out evaluations and monitor the spends, the SMEs without a specialist team assigned for this activity might find it difficult to plan and monitor the spends. The government regulations allow such SMEs to pool their CSR funds with other companies to achieve scale and share a collective implementation process.

NGO evaluation portals and the pooling of resources by SMEs could help to streamline the CSR investments, and questions will continue to be asked about the government’s role in mandating such investments. Even as this debate continues, the more important question that the Indian businesses need to answer is how do we align these government mandated CSR activities to handle India’s socio-environmental challenges while enabling better long term profits for the business?

What shall constitutes a CSR Report?

Rule 8 of the CSR Rules provides that the companies upon which the CSR Rules are applicable on or after 1st April, 2014 shall be required to incorporate in its Board’s report an annual report on CSR containing the following particulars:

  • A brief outline of the company’s CSR Policy, including overview of projects or programs proposed to be undertaken and a reference to the web-link to the CSR policy and projects or programs;
  • The composition of the CSR Committee;
  • Average net profit of the company for last three financial years;
  • Prescribed CSR Expenditure (2% of the amount of the net profit for the last 3 financial years);
  • Details of CSR Spent during the financial year;
  • In case the company has failed to spend the 2% of the average net profit of the last three financial year, reasons thereof;

Role of the CSR Committee in the Listed companies:

The CSR Committee constituted in pursuance of Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 shall be required to carry out the following activities:

a) formulate and recommend to the Board, a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy which shall indicate the activities to be undertaken by the company as specified in Schedule VII;

b) recommend the amount of expenditure to be incurred on the activities referred to in clause (a); and

c) monitor the Corporate Social Responsibility Policy of the company from time to time.

What if a Company ceases to be covered under Section 135?

Rule 3(2) of the Corporate Social Responsibility Rules, 2014 provides that every company which ceases to be a company covered under section 135(1) of the Act for three consecutive financial years shall not be required to :

a. constitute a CSR Committee ; and

b. comply with the provisions contained in subsection (2) to (5) of the said section till such time it meets the criteria specified in sub section (1) of Seciton 135.

Accordingly, if a company, for 3 consecutive years, ceases to be covered under the ambit of section 135(1), it shall not be required to fulfill the conditions relating to the constitution of CSR Committee and other related provisions.

To conclude,

Considering the increasingly vast and complex business environment, the move of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is a welcoming step which apart from contributing towards society, plays a major role in various ways which includes attracting and retaining employees in a such a way as to increase morale of the employees along with creating a sense of belonging to the company and contributes towards enhancement of company’s own goodwill, positive image along with bringing competitive advantages.

Also, as rightly mentioned by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), CSR is generally understood as being the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives (“Triple-Bottom-Line- Approach”), while at the same time addressing the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders.

#153 – How Violence Is Ended – Buddhist Legend


Among the ethical precepts of his “Eightfold Path” was “Right Action,” which included avoiding all killing.

A legend is told of two kingdoms on the brink of battle. Each claimed the right to irrigate lands from a river flowing between.

The Buddha asked the two kings,

  • “What is the water worth?”
  • “Very little,” was the reply.
  • “And what is a life worth?”
  • “It is priceless.”
  • “Then why would you trade something priceless for something of little worth?”

According to tradition, the following tale was told by the Buddha himself to monks whose quarrel had reached the point of violence.

Once long ago, there arose a quarrel between two kings.

One king was the great Brahmadatta. His kingdom was large and rich, and his troops were many. The other king was Dighiti. His kingdom was small and poor, and his troops were few.

Brahmadatta told his generals, “We will march against Dighiti and conquer his kingdom. He will not be able to resist me.”

When Dighiti heard of the army’s advance, he told Deva, his queen, “Nothing we do can prevent Brahmadatta from seizing our country. For the sake of our people, it is best to avoid a battle. Let us flee from the kingdom tonight.”

Deva asked, “Where can we go?”

“We will go to Brahmadatta’s own capital city, Benares. It is large enough to hide in, and he will never search for us there.”

So they took their young son, Dighavu, and fled by night to Benares. There they lodged in a poor quarter of the city. King Dighiti disguised himself as a wandering holy man and each day begged enough coins and food for them all.

Time passed and the prince grew toward manhood. Then King Dighiti told his wife, “Truly is it said, we may forgive those who hurt us, but we never forgive those we hurt. If Brahmadatta finds us here, he will surely kill us all. It is best to send our son from the city.”

The queen said, “Let him go to my parents in the west. There he can learn the arts and sciences proper to his estate.” So they sent the prince away.

Now, it happened that the barber from the court of King Dighiti was at this time at work in the court of Brahmadatta. One day, the barber caught sight of Dighiti in the marketplace, begging in the guise of a holy man. Hoping for reward, he secretly followed Dighiti to his home, then reported to Brahmadatta.

Brahmadatta sent his men to arrest the family. Dighiti and Deva were brought before him.

“Where is your son?” demanded Brahmadatta.

“Beyond your reach,” replied Dighiti.

Brahmadatta turned to one of his generals. “Tie them up and cart them around the city for all to see and scorn. Then take them out the south gate and execute them by the sword. Allow no one to perform the funeral rites. Their bodies shall be prey to birds and beasts.”

Now, on that very day, Prince Dighavu had come back to Benares to visit his parents. As he passed through the marketplace, he saw soldiers on horse and on foot, and among them a cart, and tied up in the cart, his mother and his father. And he was powerless to help them.

King Dighiti saw the prince as well. Wishing to advise his son, yet mindful not to give him away, Dighiti called out as if to no one. And these were his words:

  • Be not shortsighted.
  • Be not long-sighted.
  • Not by violence is violence ended.
  • Violence is ended by non-violence.

As darkness fell, King Dighiti and Queen Deva were taken outside the city walls and executed by the sword. Their bodies were left on the ground, with a dozen soldiers standing guard.

Within the city, Prince Dighavu told himself, “First I will perform the funeral rites for my parents. Then I will find a way to avenge them.”

He bought strong wine in the marketplace and brought it to the guards. They took it gladly, and soon lay drunk and asleep.

Dighavu piled up wood, placed his parents’ bodies on top, then lit the funeral pyre. He pressed his palms together and walked three times around the flames.

At that moment, at the royal palace, Brahmadatta was strolling upon his roof terrace, puzzling over the words of King Dighiti that had been reported to him. Gazing far south, over the city wall, he spied the fire and the figure circling it.

“It must be Prince Dighavu,” he told himself. And a cold fear gripped his heart.

The prince, his duty complete, slipped quickly into the forest. For days he stayed there, hiding from Brahmadatta’s men while grieving for his parents.

At last, the danger and the tears had passed, and Dighavu entered the city once more. At the royal elephant stables, he took work as an apprentice.

And so it was one morning that Dighavu rose early, sat before the stables, and sang to greet the dawn. His voice drifted to the palace and to the balcony of King Brahmadatta, who had also risen early, wakened by a fearful dream.

“How lovely,” said the king. “I have need of such music to ease my mind.”

He sent for the singer, and Dighavu was brought before him.

“Sing for me,” said Brahmadatta, not knowing who the young man was.

Dighavu sang, and the king’s heart was gladdened. Then Brahmadatta told him, “Stay with me.”

And Dighavu answered, “As you wish, my lord.”

So Dighavu became the king’s attendant. And since the young man’s conduct was agreeable and his words pleasing, the king grew ever more fond of him, bestowing on him more and more responsibility and trust.

Then came a day when Brahmadatta desired to go hunting. And he told Dighavu, “Today you will drive my chariot.”

And Dighavu replied, “It is an honor, my lord.”

So Dighavu that day drove the chariot of the king. But as the hunters pursued their quarry, Dighavu cleverly took a path that led away. He brought the king far from the sight and hearing of the others.

At last Brahmadatta said, “I wish to stop and rest.”

Dighavu dismounted and sat cross-legged on the ground. And he told the king, “Come rest yourself, my lord.”

So the king laid his head in the cradle of Dighavu’s legs, and slept.

Dighavu gripped his sword and drew it slowly from its sheath. He pointed the blade at the throat of Brahmadatta. And then there came to him the words of his father.

  • Be not shortsighted.
  • Be not longsighted.
  • Not by violence is violence ended.
  • Violence is ended by nonviolence.

The sword of Dighavu trembled. He drew it slowly away and replaced it in its sheath.

Brahmadatta breathed heavily and opened wide his eyes and sat up in alarm.

“What is wrong, my lord?” asked Dighavu.

“It is a dream that often plagues me,” said the king. “I see Dighavu, the son of my enemies, coming at me with his sword to avenge his parents.”

Then Dighavu clutched the king’s hair, dragged his head back down, and drew his sword. “I am Dighavu, son of your enemies, and here am I to avenge my parents!”

“Have mercy, dear Dighavu! Grant me my life!”

“How can I grant your life?” replied Dighavu. “Truly is it said, we may forgive those who hurt us, but we never forgive those we hurt. You have killed my mother and my father, and would surely kill me too. So the life to be granted is mine!”

“Then grant me my life,” said Brahmadatta, “and I will grant you yours!”

So Dighavu released the king and put away his sword. And the two rose and clasped their hands and swore never again to seek the other’s harm.

Then Brahmadatta said, “I have often pondered your father’s final words. Tell me, Dighavu, what did he mean when he told you, ‘Be not shortsighted.’?”

“My father meant, ‘Do not be quick to spurn a gift of friendship.’”

“And what did he mean when he told you, ‘Be not longsighted.’?”

“My father meant, ‘Do not allow your hate to last too long.’”

“And what did he mean when he told you, ‘Not by violence is violence ended. Violence is ended by nonviolence.’?”

“My father meant this: You, my lord, have killed my parents and stolen their kingdom. If I were to kill you in revenge, your allies would kill me, and then my allies would kill them, and so on, with no end to violence. But now instead, you have granted my life and I have granted yours. So violence is at an end.”

Then the king marveled at the wisdom of Dighavu, who understood in full what his father said in brief.

Indeed, so great was Brahmadatta’s admiration and his gratitude, he soon restored to Dighavu the kingdom of his father. And as long as both kings lived, all quarrels between them were resolved in friendship and good will.

 

#152 – 7 Habits of the Highly Effective People – My Takeaways.


My boss gave me two books as Gift. The first one was “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and the Second one ” 8th Habit” – both by Steven Covey. I am sure, Many of the Readers would have read them too and many of you would have liked them.

The Team also attended a day long workshop dealing with the First book subjects. Here is my TakeAway from the Workshop I attended few years ago. ( I think I mentioned about my old habit of keeping notes/ Diaries for nearly 40 years. Digitisation is helping me to throw away the old diaries while retaining the Good old articles and Learnings captured over the years.)

I very much liked this book and the workshop. As I have said, in my articles before – Being a visual person – I like to visualise things. Coming below is a great diagram which explains how people like me learn – the Visual way ! A picture makes things more clear to me and similar people like me and helps us understand things clearly. Verbose essays and non-fiction does not help me to Remember the Book by One Sentence, One Paragraph or One Page as a takeaway – as I used to boast when I was young and a voracious, speed reader. Post marriage, things begin to change and with each transfer my carefully built libraries were perforce donated under watchful eyes of my wife – I started transiting towards more Online reading, ebooks and Live reading. Internet also opened many doors for me to search in the virtual world and satiate my hunger for new knowledge, ideas, concepts and self-help, self-development.

So I came out with just one Take away from this program - ” Begin with an End in the Mind”. My boss was not quite happy. He wanted me to remember by rote all the 7 and the non-workshopped 8th Habit as well. ( I had no intention of earning any ‘brownie points’). In all fairness to the Great Writer – I decided to learn the messages in the book in my own way.

(The fact is that many of such workshops and training programs go with me drawing Doodles on the notepads which these training companies supply. No disrespect meant – I understand that Doodles like the one below actually convey our ‘Understanding’ of the subject and is a creative way, I agree ! ).

I came across nice Pictorial story which I share below. This story taught me ” Think Win-Win” ! No words are required to explain. Apart from Win Win – it also give the Essence of the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” and the concept of Collaboration.

The Picture Below helped me clear all cob-webs and get one thing clear – Put First Things First. The Business of Business is Make Money. Profit is Not a Bad Word and we exist in Business as Managers, Workers or Directors in C Suite to Make Money for the Business.

The following Prioritization/ Time Management/ Decision making matrix helped me to understand what is Important, What is Urgent and What is Urgent and Important. My boss help me here. He had a habit of taking copious notes in meetings but his spiral Note book was always mentally divided in 4 Quadrants that Steven Covey talked about and his Notes would always have the Most Important and Urgent ‘Capture’ in a certain corner for his future Execution of plans ! Great way to Mentor I thought !

1. Be Proactive

First, elaborating on my learning process and How Do we learn thru this wonderful graphic I came across. My learning happens at the Visual Levels.

proactive
  • adjective:descriptive of any event or stimulus or process that has an effect on events or stimuli or processes that occur subsequently
    Example: “Proactive inhibition”

  • adjective: (of a policy or person or action) controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond to it after it happens

2. Begin with the End in Mind

Helps us make a Goal. Helps us to Plan the Steps. Help us create the To Do Lists.


3. Put First Things First

Prioritising Things.

4. Think Win Win

Explained thru the story picture above.

5. Seek First to Understand then be understood

6.Synergize

7. Sharpen the Saw

And finally, Don’t Worry, Be Happy as Worrying….

Steven Covey

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p class=”center”>I would be keen to know what is your learning style? How do you learn? How do you TakeAway from a book or a workshop, seminar, lecture ?

#151 – The Prince Who Had Everything – Legend of the Buddha


Of all Buddhist tales, the best-known and best-loved is the story of Buddha’s own birth and youth. Buddha—“the Enlightened One” or “The Awakened One”—is the religious title given to Siddhartha Gautama, a prince of the Sakya clan, which ruled an area that today straddles the border between Nepal and the Indian state of Bihar. He is believed to have lived from around 563 to around 483 B.C.

No official account of Buddha’s life was left by either Buddha or his disciples. As with most great religious leaders, the stories of his early life were gradually expanded and embellished by his followers. Still, the legend probably represents in symbolic form the early spiritual life of the young man who became the Buddha.

In the royal city of Kapilavatthu, a son had come to the great King Suddhodana and his lovely Queen Maya. They named the boy Siddhartha, which means “He Who Reaches His Goal.”

Soon after the birth, the king was visited by a great seer named Asita. The baby was brought for him to see. To the king’s alarm, the holy man burst into tears.

“Sir, what is wrong?” asked the king. “Do you foresee some disaster for my son?”

“Not at all,” said the seer. “His future is supreme. Your son shall become a Buddha, an Enlightened One, and free the world from its bonds of illusion. I weep only for myself, for I will not live to hear his teachings.”

Now, the king was distressed that his only heir might turn to a life of religion. He called upon eight Brahmin priests, all skilled in interpreting signs, and asked them to prophesy for the prince.

When the priests had conferred, their spokesman addressed the king. “Your majesty, if your son follows in your footsteps, he will become a Universal King and rule the known world. But if he renounces home and family for the life of a seeker, he will become a Buddha and save the world from its ignorance and folly.”

The king asked, “What would cause my son to renounce home and family?”

The priest answered, “Seeing the four signs.”

“And what are the four?”

  1. “An old man,
  2. a sick man,
  3. a dead man, and
  4. a holy man.”

“Then none of these shall he see,” the king declared. And he placed guards around the palace to keep all such persons away.

As Siddhartha grew to manhood, the king sought ways to strengthen the prince’s ties to home. He married him to the lovely Princess Yasodhara, who in time bore a son. And he surrounded him with dancing girls to while away his hours. The prince became a creature of pleasure and seldom left his luxurious apartments in the palace’s upper stories.

But one day Siddhartha thought he would visit a park outside the city. The king arranged the outing, with strict orders to his guards to keep the road clear of the old, the sick, the dead, and the holy.

As the prince passed through the city in his royal carriage, people lined the road to admire him. The guards followed the king’s orders as best they could. But even so, the prince spied in the crowd a man with gray hair, weak limbs, and bent back.

“Driver,” said Siddhartha, “what is wrong with that man?”

“He is old, my lord.”

“And what is ‘old’?” asked the prince.

“‘Old’ is when you have lived many years.”

“And will I too become ‘old’?”

“Yes, my lord. To grow old is our common fate.”

“If all must face old age,” said the prince, “then how can we take joy in youth?”

Not long after, the prince spied a man yellow-faced and shaking, leaning on a companion for support. “Driver, what is wrong with that man?”

“He is sick, my lord.”

“And what is ‘sick’?”

“‘Sick’ is when your health has left you.”

“And will I too become ‘sick’?”

“It is likely, my lord. To be sick is our common fate.”

“If all must face sickness,” said the prince, “then how can we take pride in health?”

Before long, the prince spied a stiff, motionless man being carried along by four others.

“Driver, what is wrong with that man?”

“He has died, my lord.”

“And what is ‘die’?”

“‘Die’ is when your life is finished.”

“And will I too ‘die’?”

“You will, my lord, without a doubt. Of all our fates, death is the most certain.”

“If all must face death,” said the prince, “then how can we delight in life?”

At last the prince spied a man with shaved head and saffron robe.

“Driver, what is that man.”

“He is a seeker, my lord.”

“And what is a ‘seeker’?”

“A ‘seeker’ is one who renounces home and family to wander about, living on what he begs. Avoiding pleasure, he subdues the passions; meditating, he controls the mind. And so he strives for freedom from this world of tears and the endless round of rebirths.”

“Driver, return to the palace. No more do I care for parks or pleasure or anything that may pass away. Soon I too will be a seeker, renouncing this life that binds me.”

That very night, Siddhartha slipped into the women’s quarters for one last look at his sleeping wife and son. Then quietly he descended to the courtyard, mounted a white steed, and set out.

The city gate, too heavy for a single man, swung open by itself at his approach. And as the prince passed through, he made this vow:

“Never shall I enter this city again, till I’ve seen the farther shore of life and death.”


#151 – The Prince Who Had Everything – Legend of the Buddha


Of all Buddhist tales, the best-known and best-loved is the story of Buddha’s own birth and youth. Buddha—“the Enlightened One” or “The Awakened One”—is the religious title given to Siddhartha Gautama, a prince of the Sakya clan, which ruled an area that today straddles the border between Nepal and the Indian state of Bihar. He is believed to have lived from around 563 to around 483 B.C.

No official account of Buddha’s life was left by either Buddha or his disciples. As with most great religious leaders, the stories of his early life were gradually expanded and embellished by his followers. Still, the legend probably represents in symbolic form the early spiritual life of the young man who became the Buddha.

In the royal city of Kapilavatthu, a son had come to the great King Suddhodana and his lovely Queen Maya. They named the boy Siddhartha, which means “He Who Reaches His Goal.”

Soon after the birth, the king was visited by a great seer named Asita. The baby was brought for him to see. To the king’s alarm, the holy man burst into tears.

“Sir, what is wrong?” asked the king. “Do you foresee some disaster for my son?”

“Not at all,” said the seer. “His future is supreme. Your son shall become a Buddha, an Enlightened One, and free the world from its bonds of illusion. I weep only for myself, for I will not live to hear his teachings.”

Now, the king was distressed that his only heir might turn to a life of religion. He called upon eight Brahmin priests, all skilled in interpreting signs, and asked them to prophesy for the prince.

When the priests had conferred, their spokesman addressed the king. “Your majesty, if your son follows in your footsteps, he will become a Universal King and rule the known world. But if he renounces home and family for the life of a seeker, he will become a Buddha and save the world from its ignorance and folly.”

The king asked, “What would cause my son to renounce home and family?”

The priest answered, “Seeing the four signs.”

“And what are the four?”

  1. “An old man,
  2. a sick man,
  3. a dead man, and
  4. a holy man.”

“Then none of these shall he see,” the king declared. And he placed guards around the palace to keep all such persons away.

As Siddhartha grew to manhood, the king sought ways to strengthen the prince’s ties to home. He married him to the lovely Princess Yasodhara, who in time bore a son. And he surrounded him with dancing girls to while away his hours. The prince became a creature of pleasure and seldom left his luxurious apartments in the palace’s upper stories.

But one day Siddhartha thought he would visit a park outside the city. The king arranged the outing, with strict orders to his guards to keep the road clear of the old, the sick, the dead, and the holy.

As the prince passed through the city in his royal carriage, people lined the road to admire him. The guards followed the king’s orders as best they could. But even so, the prince spied in the crowd a man with gray hair, weak limbs, and bent back.

“Driver,” said Siddhartha, “what is wrong with that man?”

“He is old, my lord.”

“And what is ‘old’?” asked the prince.

“‘Old’ is when you have lived many years.”

“And will I too become ‘old’?”

“Yes, my lord. To grow old is our common fate.”

“If all must face old age,” said the prince, “then how can we take joy in youth?”

Not long after, the prince spied a man yellow-faced and shaking, leaning on a companion for support. “Driver, what is wrong with that man?”

“He is sick, my lord.”

“And what is ‘sick’?”

“‘Sick’ is when your health has left you.”

“And will I too become ‘sick’?”

“It is likely, my lord. To be sick is our common fate.”

“If all must face sickness,” said the prince, “then how can we take pride in health?”

Before long, the prince spied a stiff, motionless man being carried along by four others.

“Driver, what is wrong with that man?”

“He has died, my lord.”

“And what is ‘die’?”

“‘Die’ is when your life is finished.”

“And will I too ‘die’?”

“You will, my lord, without a doubt. Of all our fates, death is the most certain.”

“If all must face death,” said the prince, “then how can we delight in life?”

At last the prince spied a man with shaved head and saffron robe.

“Driver, what is that man.”

“He is a seeker, my lord.”

“And what is a ‘seeker’?”

“A ‘seeker’ is one who renounces home and family to wander about, living on what he begs. Avoiding pleasure, he subdues the passions; meditating, he controls the mind. And so he strives for freedom from this world of tears and the endless round of rebirths.”

“Driver, return to the palace. No more do I care for parks or pleasure or anything that may pass away. Soon I too will be a seeker, renouncing this life that binds me.”

That very night, Siddhartha slipped into the women’s quarters for one last look at his sleeping wife and son. Then quietly he descended to the courtyard, mounted a white steed, and set out.

The city gate, too heavy for a single man, swung open by itself at his approach. And as the prince passed through, he made this vow:

“Never shall I enter this city again, till I’ve seen the farther shore of life and death.”

 

#150 – Judging people & Wisdom of Saint Kabir


5 months ago, coming out of hospital after my second Cardiac attack, my Guru Dr. Marshall Goldsmith prompted me to observe and write. Linkedin Pulse accepted and I began on the journey of sharing an article a day. I am pleased to dedicate this to Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and Linkedin Pulse. I get to meet the Guru this Sunday – that is the second pleasure. So please enjoy reading.
Hasty Judgement – is a short story on Emperor Akbar and Birbal

Once the Emperor Akbar was riding near a mango grove. An arrow whizzed past him. His soldiers rushed to the grove and caught the person who did this. He was a young boy. On asking why did he want to kill the Emperor, he said that he did not want to kill the Emperor, he just wanted to knock down a mango from a high branch.

The Emperor was too angry to listen to him. He ordered to put him to death in the same way as the boy wanted to kill him.

A soldier tied the boy with a tree stump and steadied his arrow to kill him. Birbal, who was watching all this process quietly so far, now shouted, “This is not fair. If you want to shoot him in the same way as he tried to shoot the Emperor, then you will have to aim for a mango. And then the arrow has to miss the mango and strike the boy.”

Akbar had calmed down by now. Thinking that it was unfair to the boy, he ordered his soldiers to release the boy. Thus Birbal saved that innocent boy.

Judging people & Wisdom in Couplets of Saint Kabir

Things Successful Leaders Judge

  • Judging is awkward, mostly because we do not like being judged.
  • But, leaders who don’t judge follow the path of least resistance.

It is said,

“To neglect judging is to embrace mediocrity.”

  • We judge all the time. Right now we’re judging this article.
  • Is it worth reading? Will it help me develop my leadership?

Is this guy nuts?

  • People want to be judged when it results in praise, growth, or advancement.
  • “How am I doing?” is an invitation to be judged.
  • We can not lead without judging.

I found these 5 Things Leaders Must Judge interesting and had noted in my diary quite sometime ago and feel it is still very relevant.

I quote “

#1. Judge the Results

  1. What were the goals?
  2. What are the real results?
  3. What one behavior was essential to achieving results?

#2. Judging the Attitudes:

  1. What are first words uttered when something goes wrong?
  2. Who complains all the time?
  3. What is your orientation to challenges, obstacles, or opposition?

#3. Judging Motivations and Interactions:

  1. How do people feel when they’re around you?
  2. How did you energize or drain the people you worked with?
  3. How are you encouraging others to take next steps?

#4. Judging the Inclusion and Inclusiveness:

  1. Who did you include in your project? Why?
  2. Who should have been included? Why?
  3. Who made surprising contributions? What did they do?

#5. Judging the Learning and Development:

  1. What are you learning about yourself, leading, and others?
  2. What will you avoid next time?
  3. How can new insights be applied to current or future activities? ” end quote.

Few Bullet Points to Remember:

  • To judge something as inadequate is to condemn it.
  • If denouncing isn’t possible, don’t bother making evaluations.
  • Condemnation is the first step toward transformation. Aspirations to improve point to current deficiencies.
  • The verbal gymnastics we use to avoid condemning poor behavior obscures the truth and slows progress.
  • Judging becomes useful when it moves from backward-facing condemnation to forward-facing transformation.

Judging isn’t useful when it ends with condemnation or self-confirmation.

  1. What makes judging useful?
  2. How does judging go wrong?

Wisdom contained in the Couplets of Saint Kabir

There is so much Wisdom filled inside the literature created by the Saints of India who wrote their Poetry in common language, which was easy to understand for the local folk in very simple terms.

These Poets were renowned Gurus, who did a lot for the Social upliftment and Equality of Human beings and their Teachings were well accepted with followers among all religions. They were not religious Gurus, they taught no rituals but spread the Light of Gyan – Knowledge and Wisdom among those who listened.

The biggest quality they had was their Humbleness and Humility. Their Simplicity was amazing.

Saint or Sant Kabir as he was called, was a weaver by profession and acted as teacher and a social reformer by the medium of his writings. His dohe (couplets) are full of meaning and teachings. He believed God is one and people just worship Him with different names.

Do you have the Ability to Judge People?

At the Least, Do you have the mandate to judge People?

Sant Kabirdas wrote:

Below are some of his famous couplets with their meaning.

बडा हुआ तो क्या हुआ जैसे पेड़ खजूर।
पंथी को छाया नही फल लागे अति दूर ॥

Meaning in Hindi

कबीर कहते हैं, कि सिर्फ बड़े होने से कुछ नहीं होता. उदाहरण के लिए खजूर का पेड़, जो इतना बड़ा होता है पर ना तो किसी यात्री को धूप के समय छाया दे सकता है, ना ही उसके फल कोई आसानी से तोड़ के अपनी भूख मिटा सकता है .

Meaning in English

  • It is no use being very big or rich if you can not do any good to others.
  • For example, Palm tree is also very tall, but it is of no use to a traveller as it provides no shade and the fruit is also at the top, so no one can eat easily.

Another Couplet he wrote:

साँई इतना दीजिए जामें कुटुंब समाय ।
मैं भी भूखा ना रहूँ साधु न भुखा जाय॥

Meaning in Hindi

कबीर कहते हैं, कि हे भगवान् मुझे ज्यादा नहीं चाहिए. बस इतना दीजिये,जिस में उसके परिवार का भरण-पोषण हो जाए. और यदि कोई अतिथि आये, तो उसका सत्कार भी कर सके.

Meaning in English

Kabir requests God to give him only as much so that he can feed his family and if any guest comes he should be able to feed him too. It means, you should only have that much which you need, there is no use having too much.

In Yet another couplet Sant Kabir Said,

माटी कहे कुम्हार से, तु क्या रौंदे मोय ।

एक दिन ऐसा आएगा, मैं रौंदूगी तोय ॥

Meaning in Hindi

मिटटी कुम्हार से कहती है कि आज तो तू मुझे पैरों के नीचे रोंद रहा है . पर एक दिन ऐसा आएगा जब तू मेरे नीचे होगा और मैं तेरे ऊपर होउंगी . अर्थात मृत्यु के बाद सब मिटटी के नीचे ही होते हैं .

Meaning in English

  • Soil tells the pot maker (Potter), you think you being happy as you are kicking me and kneading me with your feet.
  • There will be a day when you will be below me (after death), I will knead you.

Sant Kabir said this for the Spiritually minded,

माला फेरत जुग भया, फिरा न मन का फेर ।
कर का मन का डार दे, मन का मनका फेर ॥

Meaning in Hindi

ये उन लोगों के ऊपर कटाक्ष है जो धर्मभीरु होते हैं. कबीर कहते हैं कि माला फेरने से कुछ नहीं होता. धर्मभीरुता छोड़ के अपने मन को बदल.

Meaning in English

  • This is sarcasm on people who follow religion blindly.
  • Kabir says, you spent your life turning the beads of rosary, but could not turn your own heart. Leave the rosary and try and change the evil in your heart.

#149 – 7 Attributes of Top War Room Leaders and Parkinson’s Law of Triviality


Couple of words have gained currency in Corporate life these days. They are Called “Setting up a War Room”. While I have never been inside one but I have observed the Frequent Visitors to the Room, The Participants and their thought processes very well. No, Not as a Spy or a Business Intelligence gatherer ( which is not a bad idea at all :) ) but more from an academic interest.

Few Definition of a war room-

  • “a room where strategic decisions are made(especially for military or political campaigns)
  • -an area within a building enclosed by walls and floor and ceiling;
  • “the rooms were very small but they had a nice view”.

War “noun

  • a room where battles are planned that is equipped with maps, computers, etc.
  • a room where people meet and exchange plans, ideas, information,etc., in an active way
  • a room at a military headquarters where maps showing the current status of troops in battle are maintained
  • a room (as at a business headquarters) used for conferences and planning that is often specially equipped (as with computers, or charts).

Wikipedia describes it as A command center or command centre (often called a war room) is any place that is used to provide centralized command for some purpose. While frequently considered to be a military facility, these can be used in many other cases by governments or businesses.

The term “war room” is also often used in politics to refer to teams of communications people who monitor and listen to the media and the public, respond to inquiries, and synthesize opinions to determine the best course of action.

A command center enables an organization to function as designed, to perform day-to-day operations regardless of what is happening around it, in a manner in which no one realizes it is there but everyone knows who is in charge when there is trouble.

Conceptually, a command center is a source of leadership and guidance to ensure that service and order is maintained, rather than an information center or help desk. Its tasks are achieved by monitoring the environment and reacting to events, from the relatively harmless to a major crisis, using predefined procedures.

Of course, in India one of the Corporates also used it as a Competition for students.

To me, who has never been inside the Corporate War Room – I visualise that if there are Three Warring parties, (which in these cases I presume there are or even more) – They would resemble a ChessBoard such as the one shown below which I found on Google images. It would make us wonder whether you play this game like Chinese Checker or like a Chess Game with three players ! :)

The Corporates sometimes call their own Teams as Tiger Teams and they recruit students from Top B Schools who have excelled in the ‘Simulation Business Game” and generally it is a Team Pick by the Recruiters.

Before we begin discussing War Rooms and the Top War Room Team, Team Players and their Attributes and how to go about recruiting and assembling these teams so critical in todays’ businesses – I thought a little digression is required.

Let us briefly discuss Parkinson’s law of triviality, also known as bike-shedding or the bicycle-shed example.

This is by C. Northcote Parkinson’s 1957 argument that organizations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.

Parkinson illustrated this by suggesting that a committee would spend more time on a proposal to build a bike shed than on a proposal to build an “atomic reactor”.

The Parkinson’s law has been applied to software development and other activities.

  • If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.
  • Data expands to fill the space available for storage.
  • Storage requirements will increase to meet storage capacity.

The Parkinson’s law could be generalized further as:

  • The demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource.

An extension is often added:

  • The reverse is not true.

This generalization has become very similar to the economic law of demand;

  • the lower the price of a service or commodity, the greater the quantity demanded.

Some define the law in regard to time management as:

  • The amount of time that one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.

This Law makes one thing clear and that is – there is no room in the War Room for Triviality. And, Trivial issues will never be ‘Overweight’ or ‘Under-weight’ in a War Room and from what I know of War Rooms – there are strict Rules for the players inside. Few of them are stated below as:

  • Be as nice as you can be.
  • Be as nice as you have to be.
  • Always Capitalise on Your Strengths.
  • Don’t let Trivia occupy too much of your Mind Space.

Of course, at the back of the team’s mind is another Time Management Laws which is at work. The saying “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. (Parkinson’s Law) makes Accuracy in Observation, Brevity in Communication and Clarity in Thinking and Unison in Decision Making are key hall-marks of a Team which finds a way to the famous “Go – No Go !” Decisions together. So I would imagine !


I read this from an article in Fast Company and to my mind, this very aptly describes the Attributes of the Team Players in the War Room – Whether in Military or in Corporate Boards. This is described by a former SEAL commander as Tough Leadership attributes. I Quote “

1. Teamwork is your top priority.
A mission cannot be successfully executed unless the team is functioning as one. The SEALs continual emphasis on teamwork corresponds closely with the daily requirements of the business world.

2. Early leaders are good leaders.
This opportunity is unparalleled in the corporate world, where an employee may need 10 to 15 years to reach a position of significant leadership and high level of responsibility.

3. Excel at ethics.
In the world of business, the ethical leader is sometimes a rarity, and truly esteemed.

4. Stay calm.
The military trains its team to be more comfortable taking risks with incomplete information. This is the daily function of a CEO, but it is rarely passed down to employees.

5. Hard times help you adapt–quickly.
Young executives who go through hard times should learn to appreciate them, recognizing that those times will not only strengthen them, but truly train them to properly and successfully lead their own teams when battling the competition.

6. Ambush the competition.
In an ambush, always take out the radio operator and the unit leader (usually the guy next to the radioman). Without leadership or good communication, the enemy is forced into disarray and can be picked apart. A good lesson for all leaders and their organizations.

7. Study Darwin.
Survival is not about who’s the strongest or fastest, but who can best adapt to change. Navy SEALs are masters of adaptation, being able to operate in jungle, desert, or artic conditions. In comparison, CEOs must adapt to the ever-changing market conditions they face daily and should train their staff to do the same. ” End Quote

While Business Simulations are being adopted by B Schools more and more I feel, Advanced management Techniques such as the one about Leadership and War Room simulations are still on the Corporate Wish List as expectations from the B Schools. I hope, they would soon respond to this.

Business Idea : Instead of a Business Centre situated in the middle of the busy Business District – If War Room is set up in a Discreet location – fully equipped with the best of communication facilities, Best of living facilities, Security, Surveillance, Golf course and all – it can do good business. I am talking of ‘Top of the Pyramid’ here – No Trivia of course ! :)

 

C Suite Mentor – Finesse and Finishiative by Dhananjay Parkhe

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