Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It was my day of Introspection

Do you get this feeling of just running away into another world unknown? Today that was the mood of my day.

Naturally, it was my introspection day. A day that must save my days and my life.

As we grow being a toddler to a runner, we learn to ask questions, to absorb new sights, to ask for toffees by every minute, to play a new game and the list is endless. We go to school and collect new experiences. We go to college and learn to smoke, to drink, and of course, to woo girlfriends. 

Then we start earning. We start hunting for the best job. We aspire to drive the best bike and then the best possible car.

This exponential series of adapting to and accepting new things, learning new tricks of the trade slowly but surely gets us all into the virtual realm of Maya. Maya that is addictive. Maya that is overwhelming. 

One Sunday afternoon, I vividly remember my father saying, 'I want to stop having mutton'. Then I had asked, why on earth do you want to quit mutton. He said, I am completing a natural cycle of taking everything and then trying to leave everything. I thought, "whatever" and continued chewing the tasty liver.

Today I suddenly understand what he meant. I am starting on my next phase of life - the phase of giving up and giving back.

This is my 12th year of my professional life. 11th year of slogging in Mumbai.

I have already given up cold drinks, given up chocolates (almost), given up sweets (almost), trying to give up smoking (which perhaps would always be 'trying to'). Today, I feel like giving up Mumbai.

I don't mean the city. I mean the life. (unfortunately, the city and the life are conjoint twins)

We cant give up earning and the chaos that you have to go through to earn a decent life. But we sure can give up the crazy decibels, crazy traffic, crazy working hours, crazy cost of living, and the smoke filled, dust filled star-less sky.

It is also a time to give back. It is a time give back what I have learnt, what I have experience and what I have earned. 

Its a time to give back the love that my parents showered. Would they ever come to Mumbai to stay with me. Never. So should I go back to Assam and be with them in their lonely times?

Its a time to give back to the society. To start counseling the youths to make a career. To help a bit to take Assam into an economic growth trajectory. To start contributing to culture, to preserve and promote it. 

Did I get enough time to think clearly and to arrive at some resolutions. Of course, not. Mumbai hardly gives you that much personal space and time. I had another great busy day. Quite a lot of problem solving, delegation and management was done.

I perhaps need another day of Introspection !

Saturday, September 17, 2011

We can be the Government !

Everyone of us, who have migrated to metro cities from small towns and villages for work and prosperity, can probably relate to all the cribs that we often hear and make about our home states and state governments.

One of the Facebook comments read, 'Without a better Government, better policies, implementation and awareness, no one can develop the current condition of Assam till 2050... the Government is busy in making people fools...'

I also used to say that a few times till I could realize that Government is not essential to economic and social development.

Its definitely hard work and needs a lot of dedication, passion and sacrifice. However, we have to believe it strongly that economic and social development can happen without tax money and Government intervention. 

We can be the Government ourselves!

The hypothesis is basic and straight-forward. An economy develops when there is growth potential for disposable income, which can circulate in the economy to provide for a cyclical growth. The more the disposable income, the faster the money circulates, the better is the economic potential towards growth. Secondly, with increased potential for disposable money in the economy, communities tend to spend more time for social, cultural and community development.

Any small idea that can contribute to disposable income in the short run or in the long run, is worth its effort towards development.

Well known economist Keynes had spoken about Govt. spending by paying the public to dig and fill up holes in the ground. When the public would get the money, they would buy and thus would increase money flow in the economy. That was his one of the solutions to get over the great depression of the thirties.

Mahatma Gandhi vision towards economic development was to help every village become a self-sufficient republic. Mr. Gandhi's economic policies were different from what Nehru instituted in the first five year plans. He spoke about self sufficient villages and not about big inefficient PSUs.

Each one of us working outside Assam or in Assam with knowledge, know-how and some money can fulfil Gandhi's philosophy by thinking about our villages and towns first to add economic value. 

Adding economic value is not as difficult as it sounds. Let me illustrate few of the basic initiatives that each one of us can make an effort to take.

  1. Whenever we visit our native place, we need to find out few hours to address school and college students about any topic that you think is of importance. It can be lecture on career counselling, self employment tips, dignity of labour, importance of time and the list can go on.
  2. We can organise a get together in local clubs to increase awareness about mediclaim, life insurance, health insurance, mutual funds etc. This will not only improve lives of people who buys these instruments, but also help local youths who can become agents to sell them.
  3. We can pay for college education in terms of the hostel fee and a monthly maintenance. If a student gets an admission into cotton college and we can contribute Rs. 2000 for the student, we are actually giving life to knowledge. We should simply focus on our home villages to find a worthy student.
  4. Knowledge is the new currency of today. We can write blogs and also can contribute to the local newspapers and magazines to spread knowledge. We should write about agriculture, mid-size business ideas and models, increasing efficiency etc which can boost economic value addition.
  5. We should create awareness about micro-finance possibilities. We have the initiative called 'Rickshaw Bank' that can be replicated for most of the low cost business ideas that small towns can easily execute. It is as simple as buying a rickshaw for a poor family and asking for Rs. 18 everyday for 18 months.
  6. We can organise small events by calling artists and performers from Assamese villages and towns to cities like Mumbai. Even if we pay a nominal performance fee, the overall benefit is much higher to the society at large.
  7. Open a question/answer page in Facebook where anyone can ask questions relating to the area of your expertise. If you are a CA, you can answer questions on tax, company accounting best practices etc. 
There are numerous such ideas that each of us can initiate. The intention needs to be there to contribute in some way by spending few hours, one day a week. Once the intention is there, ideas are never-ending.
It is a humble request that everybody on the better side of life should think of contributing back to the society in the smallest way possible.

We can then be the Government. And we wont get the time to crib about the Government.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Are festivals festive for all?

Last night, it was an elephant of crazy monotonous beating of drums that kept me awake till 2 AM in the morning.

It was worse when I woke up with an elephant headache from all the crazy monotonous beating of drums at 5 AM in the morning.

Effectively, devotion to Lord Ganesha made me sleep just 3 hours, and now I am in the office - angry and sleepy. I can assure that I wouldn't be less angry and less sleepy, if I was a devotee myself.

Everybody but the troupe of drum beaters and the group/family which is bringing the idol to their mandal, were clearly in deep agony. It was just too sensitive an emotion, to show it upfront on the face.

It is unfortunate that we lack civic sense, responsibility and sensibility towards our fellow citizens when we go about satisfying our personal urges to achieve happiness and contentment. From cutting a lane with a probable hope to reach the personal destination faster, to celebrating festivals without caring for the others in the society, we are just a selfish bunch of human beings.

Perhaps that is the reason why the Great Ganges is filled with filth, stink and germs. I have heard that the shops next to the ghats sell soaps and shampoos the most, and at a premium. All that matter to us is a dip in the Ganga for a few seconds to absolve ourselves from the sins. Then we spend hours in the bathrooms of our luxurious hotels with all the soaps and the shampoos to wash off all the filth, stink and germs.

Perhaps that is the reason why our public toilets are un-usable. Perhaps that is the reason why our asses may get a chewing gum attack in a public transport. And the list goes on...

Do we really know how to lead a community life? Do we know the meaning of a team player? Is that the reason why we are pathetic in all team games? (Cricket is not a team game!)