Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Google's view on Openness

This post on Google's belief in openness by Senior VP from Google is special as you get to understand the philosophical base of the organization, his understanding of historical trends and capacity to envision the future, understanding of technology and as a result of it all, most importantly a clear understanding of the future of their business.

These special people make this organization so unique.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Business climate

Do check out this map depicting ease of doing business in different parts of the world

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What corporates can learn from NGOs

This is what some of some of us (happy to find myself too:)) had to say about what Corporates can learn from NGOs.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

For want of a symbol?

Whenever I read about terrorist activities being perpetrated in the name of religion and specifically when it comes from Islam, I get intrigued whether a presence of a religious symbol that would have depicted peace and love would have been of any value for people who really can't understand abstract thoughts.

Abstract thinking such as internalizing the subtleties of universal brotherhood are really not easy concepts for a raw mind. Its very very difficult to go beyond the confines of the structures and historical events that impose a certain kind of perspective on the minds of people. While just emulating the symbol in some form can help in a very simple way.

Certain religious symbols inspire a certain kind of virtue. Eg. the deep stillness and highest form of sacrifice in  Jesus's image encourages one atleast not to ignore these values if not emulate them on a daily basis. Similarly, Buddha's image in meditation inspires the need for internal deep dive. In Hinduism, Lord Krishna's image goes to a large extent in encouraging the virtue of dharma and prosperity- (though the latter ideal is what is generally seen to be understood by the simple minded and the former conveniently ignored).

At times I would say that if the image doesn't inspire the actual act it surely challenges the contrarion line of thinking. For example not all Christians may believe in sacrifice and surely not in living a life of non-materialism but the symbol would surely contest any feeling on the contrarion side, of say killing others in the name of religion. Similar would be the case with symbols of other religions. Which means that just because Hinduism has symbols doesn't imply that all Hindus embrace love and peace. But surely it mitigates and challenges people who want to perpetrate violence in the name of religion.

While when we look at Islam, we find that being a monotheistic religion, it differs from Christianity in not having any symbol of worship. I would surely want to understand the reason of this design but I wonder if some symbol signifying the virtues of love, unity and universal peace would have done some good to the raw minds of terrorists and in turn impacted the larger world in several positive ways.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The most positive negative emotion?

Can there be anything 'good' about anything 'bad'?

A very meaningful message in the latest edition of Harvard Business Review where it is suggested that its fine to have regrets since thats what is going to give us better perspective towards good decision making in future.

Many a times people tend to pull others out of this mode without thinking that there is a time which is a must spend for actually critically evaluating a decision which has gone bad. Just stating that you need to 'chill' and forget is a probably the most naive way of dealing with any kind of failure in life. Its important to feel bad about one's own judgement (if it has gone awry), learn from it and then move on.

Just wondering if Tiger Woods has taken break from professional golf  for this reason?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Forces in favour of diversity

Finding Globalization another interesting theme to dwell upon particularly because of the way it influences economy, politics, environment, cultures and also values.  There are phenomenally interesting fall outs of globalization and it will great to delve into them gradually.

One of the reasons why people are becoming more and more tolerant towards diversity I guess is because people are seeking tolerance from others. When a person takes birth in a village or a small town and achieves not much in life other than one's title and the legacy of prestige that comes with it, we tend to hold on to it as our sole axis of identity in society.

This identity which develops on the basis of caste, creed, religion etc allows one to have a position of authority and some significance which doesn't seem to be bestowed naturally to the individuals otherwise.

As we go from that insular state to a more broader platform of work by reaching out to other cities and also countries (by virtue of a globalized economy) we meet new cultures, new languages, new systems of understanding people. And then the problem is turned upside down. At this stage, the person doesn't enjoy the luxury of placing oneself on the high social ground but has to make oneself accepted in the new environment so that he/she could enjoy the same respect that others in that community enjoy. For a person who had a low social grounding earlier finds him/herself in a position of relief since the original definition of social hierarchy is not recognized here.

This struggle for gaining the necessary respect or seeking of acceptance in new societies allows one to become more and more tolerant  and reasonable for the simple reason that as a person who is intolerant towards others can't naturally expect others to be tolerant towards his/her own self.

This is happening more in urban areas than probably rural areas but as the country drifts towards further urbanization, we can surely assume that acceptance of diversity would only improve with time.

Social changes are always difficult to be brought about through direct routes. Legal ways also don't run too far. Its only indirect or oblique forces which tend to challenge certain notions and give us perspectives which are much broader and larger than what we hold dearly through significant period of time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What binds India

This image was taken when I was travelling in an auto rickshaw within Mumbai city.

The thing that struck me was the fact that this image of symbols of two different (Hindu and Islam)religions coexisting in the the 'office' of this auto driver indicates the strength that sustains our country and acts as an example of what acceptance (or probably tolerance) in religious beliefs is all about.

I am not sure how many people with limited education in other parts of the country would be able to have that degree of inclusiveness in their minds. You can quickly think about some countries randomly and come up with answers.

This ability to co-exist is the very strength that acts as a bulwark against the divisive tendencies of our politicians atleast to some extent.

The next degree of this evolution would emerge when there would be total negation and revolt against sectarian tendencies of the political leaders and that would lead to impact at the highest portals of power.

We have come a long way and there is still a huge distance to be travelled.
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

The debate on debate

I recently had an opportunity to chair a school debate competition organized by the British Council in Mumbai. The topic for the debate was 'Freedom of Expression in Art'. The debaters were quite young and mostly between the age group of 14 and 17 years and did a decent job in putting their points across though with some scope for improvement.

A thought that came to my mind when I had a discussion with one of the very interesting audience of the debate. He mentioned about how after the debate got over, on an offline note, one of the participants who spoke against the motion of debate stated that she was actually not so much against the motion.

The immediate thought that follows is, what is the purpose of this competition? I understand that the purpose of debate is to progress towards clarity after considering diverse view points. While what the judges are expected to judge is how well is the person able to defend his/her stand. In many issues it is likely that the person may agree to some points in favour and some points against the motion then does that mean that the debater is expected to maintain a stand with stubbornness just so that he/she appears well guarded in his/her defence.

Does that mean that the debate is not actually based on the principles of debating but simply the principle of not budging from one's point, no matter what. Or for that matter for those who adulate competition in all spheres of life, the spirit of competition is the key and debate is another arena just like say a sport.

If we look at the alternate view point, should there be points provided to the participant for revisiting one's thoughts in an objective light and again come back with a more balanced perspective. Will the debater in that case be 'judged' weak or will that be the true victory of debating as a means of clarity and maturity of thinking. What should be the parameters of judging in that case?

Isn't it funny that at times as we try to recognize someone's competence in one realm, do we give an altogether wrong message on the same subject but at a different end.

Probably the 14 year old might go back home thinking that he did a fine job in sticking to his point while actually he might have missed out on the core of what a sound discussion is all about.

But surely, he is not to be blamed. He becomes a victim of another system of evaluation