Friday, February 26, 2010

My Guru

Over the past few months, i have been reading a lot of Robin Sharma's wisdom. He has had a huge impact over me. You won't believe, i have started sleeping for 6 hours now, instead of 9 !! Seriously, this dude rocks. He will speak such words, which will create a sort of current inside your body. One day at the Lucknow Railway Station, i just happened to buy one of Robin's books - "The Monk who sold his Ferrari". After reading that book, my vision has got more concrete. Since then, i haven't stopped reading. I have already finished reading 4 of his titles. The names of the books you can find on the right hand side of this page.

Now, a brief about ROBIN SHARMA :

He is the globally celebrated author of 10 bestselling books on Leadership and Personal Development. His work has been published in over 50 countries and in nearly 70 languages, making him one of the most widely read authors in the world.Robin is the founder of Sharma Leadership International Inc. , a global consultancy that helps people in organizations Lead Without a Title.

Here are few of his words of wisdom :

  • You can curse the darkness, or you can light a candle and show up as a leader. Life is all about how you exercise the choices available to you.
  • The way you do the little things says a lot about the way you will do the big things.
  • Sometimes discouragement sets in . Happens to all of us. We try hard, stay true to our dreams and pursue our ideals. Yet nothing happens. Or so it seems. But every choice matters. And every step counts. Life runs according to its own agenda , not our's. Be patient. Trust. Be like the stonecutter, steadily chipping away, day after day. Eventually, a single blow will crack the stone and reveal the diamond. An enthusiastic, dedicated person who is ridiculously good at what they do just cannot be denied. Seriously.
  • Have the discipline to do whatever it takes to make the idea a reality. Because nothing happens until you move.
  • The lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul.
  • Remember, the critics have always laughed at the visions of bold thinkers and remarkable visionaries. Ignore them.
  • We all want to be appreciated by our peers and revered by the tribe. But leadership is about a lot more than trying to look good in the eyes of others. Its about being BIW (Best in the World) at what you do. Its about leaving people better than you found them. And its about not worrying who gets the credit for a job well done.

Robin may be speaking about very little things in our day to day life, but these are the things which matter the most.

The best idea of Robin which i like the most is that of : Under promising and Over Delivering. I think i need not explain it. This is the underlying principle in people to people skills. Dale Carnegie has also spoken on those lines.

Then, he further illustrates the concept of a Leader Without Title. I find it very striking. A Leader never vies for recognition. A person who speaks out his mind in front of a gathering is a leader. A person who helps a blind man to cross the road is a leader. A person who offers his/her seat to the elderly inside the Delhi metro is a leader. I salute them. Because they are the real champs of our day to day lives. Everyone of us can be a leader , a Leader Without Title.

I just wanted to share these thoughts of mine.

They are special to me.

They talk about my guru : ROBIN SHARMA

If you want to know more about him , please visit Robin Sharma's Website.

Keep checking this column for more of his Wisdom.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CSE Interview Questions

- My Civil Services Interview questions -

First Interview - 3rd April 2008 – Purushottam Aggarwal’s Board

  • You are from Sociology Deptt of Lucknow University. Name 4-5 Sociologists from your deptt. Who have earned a big name in Sociology.
  • Why do parochial identities predominate in Indian society ?
  • Tell us about Sociology of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Tell us some famous statement of D.P.Mukherjee.
  • If I give you Rs. 100 , what proportion of this fund will you spend in maintaining relations with which group of countries ? Don’t give the approximate %, give the exact categorization.
  • If regional peace is important for you, then will you be able to reduce the defence expenditure of India ?
  • If Pakistan do not remove their army from the borders, will you ask your army to come back ?
  • Why do violence and agitations take place like – strike in universities, factories, offices etc. ?
  • The Police always complains that it do not have operational autonomy and for every small thing , SP has to take the permission of DM. Where , in your opinion, should the police power reside – in hands of SP or DM ?
  • Should we scrap the sports budget altogether ?
  • You are a 100m sprinter. Tell me your 100m timmings. What is the distance of your triple jump and shot put ?
  • What is the role of media in promoting sports , esp. cricket ?
  • Comment on NREGA. What kind of employment does it provide ?
  • Compare between India and China.

My Score : 80/300

Second Interview – 24th March 2009 – K.Roy Paul’s Board

  • How much do your friends from other religion know about your religion ?
  • Sikh population in Lucknow.
  • Reason behind Babri Masjid Demolition.
  • Why Ayodhaya is considered as the sacred place for Hindus ?
  • Agriculture , Rivers and mineral resources in UP.
  • Give a specialist answer – What do you mean by INDIAN SOCIETY ?
  • Name few Indian Sociologists.
  • What do you know about M.N.Srinivas and his contributons ?
  • What are the social indicators you can derive from Census ?
  • Have you travelled to other parts of India apart from Delhi and Lucknow ?
  • Name the cities in India whose names have been changed .
  • What do you know about Gandhara art ?
  • Tell us something about Chola Dynasty.
  • What would be the first thing that you would do after becoming an administrator ? Give your spontaneous answer.
  • Do you have the habit of reading ? What kind of books do you read ?
  • Towards the end, the Chairman asked, since when and where have you been residing in Delhi ?

My score : 114/300

Education Conundrum

Education is the cornerstone of any civilized society. I am worried at the fact that even after the completion of six decades of Independence, we have not been able to ensure the right to free and compulsory education to each and every child in the country. I understand that 50 or 60 years are not much in any country’s history and country’s performance cannot be judged in such a short span. We have made huge advances in terms of Literacy. Compare the figures of 1951 and 2001, you will see the difference. Still, we cannot be complacent and have got a long way to go.

There are certain problems in Education in India which have time and again held us back in various spheres. I would like to narrate them as follows :

  • Infrastructure
  • Teacher Competency
  • Content and Process of Education
  • Quality of Education
  • Lack of Retention
  • Lack of Vocationalisation of Secondary Education
  • Linguistic barrier for Tribals
  • Lack of uniformity of syllabus
  • Huge vacancies in Teaching Posts
  • CBSE,ICSE vs State Boards
  • Expenditure on Education (as % of GDP)
  • Cramming without understanding
  • Stress without desired outcome
  • Teaching without purpose and commitment
  • Education without creativity and knowledge

The point here is that we have not been able to bring about uniformity vis-à-vis syllabus and teaching standards across the country. In yesterday’s programme on All India Radio, a caller from Sonebhadra district said that she had her schooling at her place. Now, when she has come to Delhi for higher education, she is finding herself ill equipped and incompetent in comparison to the students from Delhi. What is the reason behind this ? This is mainly because of the difference in teaching standards and the study environment which varies from place to place. The kind of exposure that the students from Delhi gets is far more wider than the one received by those in the countryside.

Our attempt , while bringing about the reform in the Indian Education system, should be to eliminate this discrimation between the privileged, not so privileged and under privileged.

My own experience in Lucknow University speaks volumes about the maladies in the system. One fine morning it happened to be an Ancient Indian History class in the Arts Faculty in 2000 A.D. It was my class. I was sitting inside that big hall , more like a big conference room without a mic !! The professor started giving the dictation. Everybody started taking it down. To my great amusement , he was dictating only in Hindi since majority of the students were from the hindi medium. I did not take the dictation and sat idle with a hope that the English version will soon follow. Since my medium of examination was English, so there was no point in taking down the notes in hindi.

Suddenly, the Professor stopped and stared at me. Maybe because, I was the only one sitting upright while the other English medium students had bent their heads down. There came the comment from the Professor, “Sardarji, why aren’t you writing anything ? What is the problem with you ?”. That was really embarrassing. In that tight packed class of some 150 students, I said “Sir, I am from English medium and I need the notes in English”. The professor got angry and shouted back at me saying that he will give the dictation only in hindi and since I have grown up, I should translate that into English and take down the notes. I wasn’t a master of English Literature and I couldn’t do it. That was my last History class.

I just want to drive the point back home that the problem in the education system is more than it appear to be. It was not only me who suffered but all the other English medium souls who suffered silently. I understand that we cannot have two different classes , one for hindi and another for English medium candidates. But certainly, we can have a bilingual class. But for that, the teacher / professor should be well equipped, equally proficient in both the languages. Now, here comes the question of quality of education.

The issues of Equality and Quality in Education needs to be addressed.

Here, I would like to suggest some reforms which we should bring about in our Indian Education System :

  • Learning to be child friendly free of fear and trauma.
  • Respecting the mother tongue of the child. (I favour education in mother tongue atleast till VIII standard but thereafter, English should be made compulsory)
  • Abolition of Physical Punishment
  • Ban on private tuitions by teachers
  • Questioning should be encouraged
  • Team work and community spirit should be applauded
  • Encourage sports and Physical Education

In Higher Education :

  • Introduce semester system
  • Continous internal evaluation
  • Abolish affiliating college system
  • Set a target for about 2500 university level institutions by 2020

The emphasis should be laid upon developing certain higher order skills amongst the children , viz. :

  • Critical analysis
  • Research
  • Problem solving
  • Imagination
  • Self-expression
  • Decision making
  • Team work

Infact, CBSE has already introduced the concept of ‘HOTS’ – Higher Order Thinking Skills, that lays emphasis on synthesis of knowledge.

Also, focus upon bringing about public-private partnership in the field of education.

PPP -> Better quality of education -> Converts Brain drain to Brain Gain

I am hopeful that in the coming years, the reforms initiated by Sibal and Co. would bear sweet fruits. But there is a word of caution. BE CLEAR ABOUT THE KIND OF CHANGES THAT YOU WANT TO BRING IN THE SYSTEM. Because, CLARITY PRECEDES SUCCESS.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dated 19th February 2010

Issue : Fight against Maoists

It is surprising to see that even in the wake of such brutal attacks by the Maoists, the state governments have shown a lackadaisical approach in bringing about the much needed Police Reforms.Apart from aspiring to maintain the global standards as regards the Police-Population ratio, what we also need is better working conditions, no political interference in police functioning,training in latest arm equipments and the enactment of a legislation shattering the colonial legacy of 1861 Police Act.Why cant the model of Greyhounds be replicated and emulated in other Maoist effected states ? The modern Police infrastructure is the need of the hour.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dated 8th February 2010

Issue : Pricing of Petroleum products

The pricing of Petro Products in the country needs to be rationalised and decontrolled.Oil is the foundation stone of any economy.If we continue with present state of subsidies, then companies like HPCL and BPCL will find it difficult to sustain and survive.

If the Middle class of India can spend Rs.150 for a movie ticket every fortnight, then they can certainly shell out Rs.100 extra for a LPG cylinder.Moreover, the diesel in the country need not be subsidised as it is mostly the Upper middle and rich classes which uses it in their high end Diesel variant SUVs.The farmers using diesel for irrigation purposes should be encouraged to switch over to alternative sources of energy.

Its high time Kirit Parikh committee's recommendations are implemented.To make it more bearable, we can start with an increase of Rs.25 in LPG and Rs. 0.25 in Kerosene every year, for the next 5 years.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Long Live India !!

India is a diverse country. It believes in the notion of Unity in Diversity.Our founding Fathers were aware of various regional aspirations taking birth in the country soon after independence. Perhaps, that’s why, we had states reorganization on linguistic basis.

But, time and again, the regional identities have echoed their voices and have threatened and intimidated the unity of the country with their secessionist claims. The call for separate states in the country is the case in point. Today, we have plethora of voices coming from different parts of country viz. Telangana (Andhra Pradesh), Vidarbha ( Maharashtra), Saurashtra (Gujarat), Maru Pradesh (Rajasthan), Harit Pradesh (UP), Bundelkhand (UP), Poorvanchal (UP), Mithilanchal (Bihar), Gorkhaland (W.Bengal), Bodoland (Assam) etc.

The regional developmental imbalances , lack of opportunities, abject living conditions etc. are given as the varied reasons behind such voices.But I fail to understand that why no one talks about political opportunism being one of the important reason. The region of Vidarbha in Maharashtra is considered really backward and is notoriously famous for farmer suicides. However, we have had two chief ministers of the state hailing from this region. But, still, no development took place. The solution to this problem lies in earmarking special funds for the undeveloped regions and a focused decentralized approach with a periodical review. There is no replacement for an effective governance. What is the guarantee that the newly formed states will provide effective governance ? Jharkhand is a live example in front of us. With the recent Assembly elections, it has again plunged into another 5 years of instability.

India can still thrive peacefully if all of us are able to put our Indian identity over and above the regional identities. These regional voices , no doubt, are necessary in bringing about regional development , but any action which threatens the national unity and peace , should be stringently dealt with.

The Thackreys in Maharashtra have come , off late , to reiterate their ‘son of the soil’ theory. It is ridiculous to see that the two cousins (Uddhav and Raj) in their fight for political power are putting the National peace and unity at stake. The entire country is proud of its financial capital – Mumbai , and by propounding the ‘Mumbai for Maharashtrians’ theory, the Thackreys are doing disservice to the nation. They might derive some short term gains from this sort of tactics, but, in the long term, Indian unity will triumph. They should stop such petty politics and focus on developmental issues. There are better and more important things to ponder over like poverty, farmer suicides, malnutrition, price rise etc. , than Marathi chauvinism…. !!!

Long live India !

Long live Indian Unity !!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dated 4th February, 2010 - Not Published

ISSUE : BJP on Marathi Chauvinism

BJP is following double standards.The veracity of its intentions about criticising Sena and its theory remains doubtful.The editorial ('A new kind of Dicordance') rightly points out that BJP has unabashedly pursued a policy of 'anti-minorityism' .Be it Gujarat pogrom or Orissa or saffronisation of textbooks or Ayodhya, their actions have always intimidated and threatened India's unity and abased the vulnerable minorities.Marathi chauvinism is, no doubt, condemnable but BJP would find no takers and sympathisers with its recent approach, which do not seem to be bona fide in spirit.

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