Art of Mismanaging
Cloak and Dagger
US in Arms Bazaar
Think it Through
Art of Mismanaging
The irony of ironies is that India has, in my estimation, the world’s largest number of management schools and also a record number of so-called MBA’s, but everything around us is mismanaged. The man who literally pioneered the study of management at a time when we were on the threshold of Independence, defined it something to this effect:
Making people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.
Enhancing the ability of people to contribute
Integrating people in a common venture by thinking through, setting and exemplifying the organizational objectives, values and goals
Enabling the enterprise and its members to grow and develop through training, developing and teaching
Ensuring everyone knows what needs to be accomplished, what they can expect of you, and what is expected of them
Management skills enable us to coordinate hundreds or thousands of people with different skills and knowledge to achieve common goals.
The best example in my opinion of management as per the above, is DMRC — Delhi Metro Rail Corporation which was literally the handiwork of a now-forgotten selfless technocrat — E. Sreedharan, the great civil engineer popularly known as the “Metro Man”. He served as the Managing Director of Delhi Metro between1995-2012. Few men in our history have created organizations that the country can be proud of.
Did Sreehharan go a management school? No, he didn’t. Can you teach how to manage or only hone the skills of those who’ve already engaged in the art and craft of managing things and managing people? Personally, I think teaching management to those who have just graduated from a university but haven’t worked for a day on the shop floor of a factory, is plain, simple waste of time of all involved in the exercise. Aren’t we running our management schools simply because we have no alternative productive avenues to deploy our so-called educated university graduates?
Come to think of it, our existing style of management very closely resembles a Hindu marriage — lot of confusion as to who had to do what and how to trace the missing would-be bride who went hours ago for a hair-do and was last reported to be returning home. However, as in Hindi films, everything is happily through in the end. How do they put it: All’s well that ends well.
Cloak and Dagger
Close your eyes and the bogeyman will just go away. Is it not reminiscent of the proverbial ‘pigeons shutting their eyes on sighting a cat’? The UPA government adopted a very a similar course in the Lok Sabha. It chose to shut off telecast as the controversial Bill on creating Telangana was being rushed through by the devious device of a voice vote. Didn’t it remind you somehow scoring the winning goal in the dying minutes of the match? Did the government in all its naiveté think that this will actually block out the news how the bill was rushed through?
The creation of the 29th state of the Union is an issue fraught with grave implications. It is tantamount to opening Pandora’s Box all over again, the box that was somehow closed by organization of linguistic states. Now if within a linguistic state a new state has to be carved, shouldn’t there be clearly laid down principles, or else fresh demands will surface by the day?
It should have been done only after consulting all the stakeholders. But, the government opted for half measures all the way. At each step, it seems to have been guided by crass electoral compulsions rather than by any other consideration.
In case of Andhra, the government had a god-sent opportunity in the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission. It had suggested viable solutions which could have served as a halfway house while the government worked to get everyone on board. Among its recommendations was greater devolution of power to the Telangana region and a common capital in Hyderabad. This would not have pleased everyone but it would have been a reasonable stopgap arrangement.
Now that the hornets’ nest has been stirred, let’s watch the consequences. The electoral calculus that Sonia Gandhi is relying upon may prove all wrong.
There is always a great deal of public interest in the fall of the high and mighty. And more especially, when the newsman becomes the newsmaker, he cannot escape the minutest possible scrutiny simply because he had been judging others all the time. Tarun Tejpal was, before his arrest in a rape case, one of our high-flying high-profile investigative journalists. As the blue-eyed boy of the Establishment, he deemed himself as above all laws.
As the boss of Tehelka he was accused of sexually assaulting a junior female colleague, and officially charged with rape by the Goa Police. The charge sheet runs into 2,846 pages. Besides rape, he has also been charged under Section 376 (2)(k) — rape by a person in a position of control or dominance over a woman — that is punishable with 10 years in jail under the new amended law. This law, you’ll recall, was enacted in the wake of the much-talked-of December 16, 2012 gang rape. This case, therefore, will be closely watched by everyone — media as much as the public. It going to be the litmus test for the effectiveness of our laws.
Goa police has done a meticulous job. The outcome of this case depends on the accused being able to prove his innocence and not the victim. This is in accordance with the new law. This case will also set a benchmark in the police investigation — the watertight charge sheet was filed within 80 days of the registration of the FIR.
We have the honor of being ranked as the highest in ‘reported employee workplace assault’ and sexual harassment cases. There are two reasons for these. First, the profound reluctance of rape victims to stand up and speak out. And secondly, the time it takes for a rape case to be decided. The decision in the present case will go a long way towards making workplaces safer for women and sending a strong message to men that inappropriate behavior with a female colleague will cost them pretty dearly.
US in the Arms Bazaar
My caption is borrowed from the Anthony Sampson investigative classic: The Arms Bazaar: From Lebanon to Lockheed. It describes the development of the giant arms companies, beginning with Vickers, Armstrong and Krupp and its uncontrollable growth thereafter. Nobel Prizes were instituted by Alfred Nobel as a golden fig leaf to cover his own notorious role in making weaponry deadlier than ever.
You know business of America is business. This self-declared national drive sums up the American national psyche. It just doesn’t matter what type of business and what is its impact on the world around. Its goal is single-minded pursuit of money- making. It’s immaterial what you produce and sell to make a fast buck from the transaction. It could be canisters or cannons; it could be guavas or guns, trunks or tanks or any other pair of antithesis you can conjure up.
The trouble starts when the item happens be a lethal commodity. And there starts the rub. The United States is the world’s leading arms trafficking nation, with US$60 billion in arms transfer agreements during 2013. On a very rough estimate US companies and the US government control over three-quarters of the international weapons trade.
One of the key jobs of US officials is to promote US arms sales. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tom Kelly underscored this point in April 2013 testimony to Congress. Whether arming the Shah of Iran in the 1970s or transferring of weaponry to Afghan extremist groups fighting against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, the US government has paid too little attention to where US arms end up.
Just about a month ago on January 15, the Obama administration issued the first official policy directive on conventional arms sales since the mid-1990s. The document, Presidential Policy Directive 27, reiterates the administration’s explicit commitment to promote arms sales, but it also includes a pledge to show restraint. The latter is easy to show. Every weapon exported may henceforth carry a label: use it with care, it could be explosive.
Think it Through
Here’s a gem from my favorite poet, Maya Angelou. Read it over several times to absorb the message./p>
I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow…. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. ... I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision…. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
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