And But: The Negativity Syndrome

A positive thought by a dear friend of mine was recently posted on Facebook. It was indeed, a beautiful thought about the amazing power of Love to disregard any fallacies or blemishes in the nature or character of the person you love deeply. That is because it is true that when you become completely vulnerable to a person, expose yourself completely and let Love fill up all the vacancy in your heart, a few flaws will not stop you from loving ever more. You can see that prime example in our parents. Most of them are from an arranged marriage, an institution where you never know what narrow mindedness or insecurities lie at the back of your partners head and from the time where our parents come, the dictionaries did not hold the word divorce. Does this mean that they are not happy and always fighting?? Not at all. That is the beauty of their alliance. They accepted the other person with open arms and an open heart, truly showing their broadmindedness and believed in their lawfully wedded partner, giving them a chance to love deeply and strongly. These only, later on become the qualities of a good parent, loving their child enough to overlook the small errors they make yet being responsible enough to set them on the right path.

But what does this mean for the present generation? What does the above discussion tell us about how much do we truly love? I discovered the answer while trying to comment about the beauty and validity of the thought posted by my friend. I wanted to start by saying that I agreed with her and so I started with a “True…” This is where it struck me. My mind is so attuned to thinking in the negative that the only word which could have followed in my line of thought was a ‘But’.But is that the right word?? Masters of Group Discussion often tell us that the polite way of making a point during a GD is to say, “Indeed” or  “I agree” or “True” and then append your thought after that, because you acknowledge the previous person’s contribution and yet go on to make your point clear. The sum total of that comes out to be, “True, And…” However, my thoughts were coming to be “True, But…”

Indeed, that is a dilemma, wanting to say Yes but ending up saying No. I sat there,thinking for a minute about what I wanted to say but not quite able to form a decision, left dumbfounded by the fact that my thoughts were negative even in the glaring face of positivity and happiness. I worried about what could be inferred from this discovery and what it meant for my counterparts all over the world. Does it mean that we are doomed to become extremely negative faced with extreme environmental conditions both natural and psychological? Does it mean that there is a limit after which everything the mind sees it believes there to be a downside to? Does it mean that the years of violence both in games and in the News, of competitive nature in sports and studies alike, of believing in the amount of harm of Allopathic medicine and the impotence of Alternative ones and of studying the great World Wars yet starting new ones, has left Man dumb towards the beauty and magic of Nature, solemn to the glory of Man and a polar opposite to the Positivity of Hope, the essence of Humanity? If it has, then there is no knowing when this fragile mind will crumble under a set of beliefs which would sicken any psychiatrist. Because the true Question here is whether you will add an “And” or a “But”. Because that will tell us what we are thinking and how we are reacting to Life. Because that will tell us whether there is Hope.

After a lot of thought, I simply typed in the following words… “True… and beautiful!”

The Memory Remains (from Guest Author Anurag Saxena )

It is meant to be a memorial for the nation’s war dead but seems to be more of a monument to India’s slothful bureaucracy. The army has wanted a memorial inscribed with the names of nearly 50,000 soldiers killed in four major wars since Independence. The British-built India Gate has the names of fallen soldiers from the two World Wars who served in a colonial army. Free India’s National War Memorial proposal has been through various various ministerial hoops for a decade now. The first objection was that the memorial would block the view of India Gate. The Ministry of Defense responded by saying that the memorial would have the martyrs’ names inscribed on marble slabs in the ground below eye-level. Now the Ministry of Urban Development has reservations on the project due to “certain statutory clearances and availability of land”. Never a shortage of feeble excuses when it comes to honouring India’s war dead. – India Today (August 17, 2009)

India Gate

The Akshardham temple in Delhi is magnificent. Maybe opulent is a better word. 356 ft (109 m) long, 316 ft (96 m) wide and 141 ft (43 m). high, covering an area of 86,342 sq ft (8,021.4 m2), it provides a breathtaking view of religion through the ages. It is a monument of worship. Worship of money, that is. Magnificent sculptures, fountains etc show how money can buy everything. This can be expected in a country where books like White Tiger are criticized for depicting the truth.

Akshardham

It is inexplicable how we can manage to spend millions on temples and other places of worship and yet turn a blind eye to the millions who live below the poverty line. The Indian Army wants a memorial for their heroes. Frankly, God for me is that unknown soldier who patrols the border, making sure his countrymen can sleep peacefully and asking for nothing in return. Why doesn’t he deserve a memorial? Just ask yourself, if you are in the middle of a war, who would you rather have by your side? A beautiful idol of your God or a trained soldier with plenty of ammunition? Doesn’t that unknown soldier deserve better?

The Bystanders

Ever noticed that whenever in a Movie, there’s a scene in some Public place, the focus is never on the public but on the Actors?? Then what are the other people doing in that scene? Why are they there? What is their purpose and what is their reason?

bystanders

Lets leave the film industry aside. Have you ever thought what it would be like to have that talent or that Father or that Level of Power in Society or that much Money?? Of course you have, we all have! We all have at some point in Life thought what it would be like to have that much money and social standing. How much easier Life would be if we were that Rich and Famous Person who is always partying or giving interviews about their Fabulous Life and how other people treat them with so much respect and always give them preferential treatment! How much fun would it be if we have already achieved what we wish to achieve and are simply sitting back and reaping the rewards.

Often, during College and even School, I used to imagine how Easy my Life would be if I were that Professional who has already achieved that Position and is just working now. How much I despised the process of going to school and how much I longed to exchange it for the process of getting up early every morning in order to go to Work! It was the satisfaction of having a boring, procedural Life which gave me comfort! It was this comfort which made me hate my Learning years, because those years were important only for growing up, not actually doing anything constructive on the work front.

I had read nearly all major interesting Management stories before Class 10th, including Shiv Khera, Who Moved My Cheese?, I Moved Your Cheese and even Murphy’s Law (Where Something Can Go Wrong, It Will !!!) !!!

All of these made me think about all the kinds of new ideas and methods I could implement once I got to that managerial position! And yet, I was not the least bit interested in going for an MBA!

Ok, enough about the reasons for this post, lets move on. So we’ve understood that all the popular stories are about the people at the centre and that Life will always take you through the boring phases before giving you the reward. So what does this teach us?? That those Bystanders have a Life of their own, a Story of their own in which they are the Heroes and They hold the central plot. In their Lives, We are the Bystanders!

Do not be a Bystander in your Own Life, take up the reins and Pull the Horse of Destiny in the Direction YOU want it to go! There is no better satisfaction that to reap the rewards only after going through the Most Boring Parts, because those parts make you realize how valuable that reward is and makes you Enjoy it! There’s no sense in skipping to the most gripping part without dragging yourself through the long, useless explanation!

You are already THAT Person! Just start being Them and see to it that the aspirations you have now are what you are holding 10 years down the line. Because That’s what makes you That person!

Your Move

I have left Chandigarh. The City where I was born and lived for 8 years. I was born in Chandigarh and at the age of 1, I moved out of it, on a Vanwaas of 13 years, moving from one end of the country to another, visiting, living in and growing up with every corner of the Indian Nation. After these 13 years I was back to where I had started, in Chandigarh. I settles there to complete my education, from Class 10th till the end of my Engineering degree. I spent the last 7 years in Chandigarh, growing up with it, although Chandigarh refused to grow with me, opting instead to be the Old Man watching the Young flourish in it’s care, willing to satisfy my curiosity yet keeping me well protected within it’s wings.

If Open Skies were the limit, Humans would have gone everywhere

If Open Skies were the limit, Humans would have gone everywhere

I lived the past 7 years without much remorse, without much pain and even less regret. I did things every foolish teenager does, speeding through life, gambling away good fortune yet keeping a distance from responsibility. I angered many, enchanted a few and made a lot of friends, out of which only a select few will stay on with me in my life, guiding my path with small, unnoticeable inputs. But most importantly, I lived the past 7 years without a plan, with a care for tomorrow and without ever really thinking which moves will I need to make to ensure one end or another to my reckless ideas which came and went with the Monsoons. I did not plan and I did not foresee. I just moved with the flow. When it came to choosing my stream in Class 11th, I went where convention took me, into the Sciences, that too without Medical. Further, when time came to select My Engineering stream and College, I stuck to Chandigarh although I had gotten Patiala first. I took Electronics because I thought Computer Science to be too easy and not enough of a Challenge. Besides that, when recently someone asked me why I had joined Electronics and what my favorite subject was, I had no answer.

There isnt a road we havent travelled. The Question is, where do you want to go?
There isnt a road we havent travelled. The Question is, where do you want to go?

Now, I am at a point in my Life where the next few months have been charted out by Infosys. Yet, Life has many twists and turns. I can never forget Chandigarh, who’s sights and smells are embedded in my mind, imprinted on my soul and have affected my thinking like nothing else has ever before. Still, I move on, in search of the next adventure. I have not, for myself, planned out the next 7 years of my life, although I have a brief outline in my mind. There is a Tomorrow, blurred and fuzzy, but very Real and perhaps, very interesting. All I say to my Life is that in moving out of Chandigarh, I took a big step, a giant leap of Faith, moving away from my comforts to a new beginning, which will spawn a new end as Destiny will command. All I say to my Life is that I have chosen carefully, what to do in my turn, my only message to it now is,

Life,

it’s,

Your Move.

And, The Price is Wrong!!!

What was it that the erstwhile Hutch (now Vodafone) did as it’s first move into the Indian Mobile service provider scene? They gave us 1000 free SMSs at an obnoxiusly low price of Rupees 6/- a joke so laughable that we used to message just to get our mobile batteries low, a feat now affordable to people with BSNL Student SIM Cards… And all this was to ensure that the market share was OWNed by Hutch within a few months, riding on the Youth’s need for a cheap communication medium which was hip and happening too…

Now, after the dreaded change called Vodafone, the prices of an SMS have shot up from less than a Paisa to 10 paise per SMS and yet Vodafone leads with the share, partly because people would rather stick to the number they’ve been using for quite some time.

But this post is not about Vodafone, it’s about market share and pricing of goods.

Today, roaming around in the market in the evening, my curiousity led me to a general store to ask the price of the new energy drink named Cloud 9 (or 9 Cloud, whatever it is…) which is being pegged as India’s First Natural Energy Drink which is produced locally. The branding, shape and graphics of the can and the contents point out to only one thing- They’re trying to compete with Red Bull.

Here’s where the brand is going to fail-

a) The price of the drink is put at Rupees 75/- Ring any bells? The Price of a Red Bull, which is imported from outside is also set at Rupees 75/- So if I’m going to pay the same price, why not buy the branded goods which have worldwide acceptance and have proven market value? (I’ve had Red Bull, it’s good, Full Stop)

b) The Ad agency hired by the company for Cloud 9 made it good to rope in players of the Chennai Super Kings, most noticably Mahender Singh Dhoni and also, Shilpa Shetty for the launch and RP Singh as the Brand Ambassador, and then wasting away these big faces in a string of downright Stupid Advertisements that in no way make the Indian Consumer want to go out and buy the drink.

c) The drink is being pegged as India’s First Natural Energy drink. As though the average consumer cares. Haven’t we been having Coke and Pepsi and Vodafone long enough NOT to care if the brand is Indian or Global?? Haven’t we become used to all sorts of Unnatural foods and drinks to not care if the drink is Natural at all? What’s so natural about Coca Cola by the way??

Small Note to Cloud 9: Don’t even think that a person who’s just come from the gym will go buy your drink for 75 rupees, they’ll buy milk. And even if they do spend money on an energy drink, it’ll be Red Bull. Here’s Why-

What’s Cloud 9 offering that’s different from Red Bull?

ans) Nothing, the price is the same. I have no reason to buy a brand that’s just entered the market instead of a worldwide accepted brand.

Why can Cloud 9 never beat Red Bull in marketing?

ans) Cloud 9 has the worst possible marketing agency, useless. Red Bull has been making innovative ads since they were born. And they have a lot of money which they can squander on popular actors and cricketers.

Now, What’s the solution? Here’s what Cloud 9 must do in order to beat Red Bull for the market share…

a) We all know the drink doesn’t cost more than 25 rupees. Bring down the price to something near that.

b) Fire your marketing agency. No, am not telling you to throw him off the job, drink a case of Cloud 9, load up your gun and fire AT them. They’re useless and they’re wasting your money. Get someone else to make your ads and make sure that they are very very cool.

c) On the Cloud 9 website there’s a video in which the Director of Cloud 9, Priyesh Ganatra accepts very un-suavely that they copied the USPs of all major energy drinks from all over the world in order to create their own. That video is very very UNCOOL. Remove it. Also remove every trace of CORPORATE nonsense from that webiste. Reason- If I visit the website of a Youth Oriented product, I want to see downloads, product Videos and features like games and more sales pitch, not your God Damn Company’s Address. You want a Hint? Go to the Fuel Deo website here.

In the end I just want to say that Indian Brands have yet to realise the importance of market share and how to capture it.

p.s. To my readers- I have cc’ed this post to the Cloud( manufacturers. Lets see if they have the brains to read it and change a LOT about their brand.

How To: Add Google SMS Channels To Your Blog

Hey Hey Hey!!!

This is the post all you bloggers have been waiting for! Specially my dear friend Arpit Rastogi.. Hope you find this useful…

Ok, so Last time we discussed how to Make a Google SMS Channel which gives people updates about your Blog… But what good is it if people don’t know how to access your Channel and subscribe to it??

One way is to simply send email invites to everybody in your list but that’s the most un-cool thing you could ever do to yourself (of course, it’s very very effective, but we’re trying to be cool here people! :D).

The better way is to add this function as a Widget to your blog and put it right next to the email invites so that people notice it. Now, since there was no direct way or a pre-made widget to do this thing for me, I mixed and mashed a few widgets and came up with the following code to Make me a widget!

Without any more festivities, here’s the code:

<a href=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/subscribe/NitinsBlog”> <img src=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/inc/SMSChannelsLabsLogo.gif” alt=”” height=”50″ width=”150″> </a> <br> Have GMail? Now get my posts via sms! <b> <br> Just <a href=”http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/subscribe/NitinsBlog”> Click HERE </a> </b> <br><br>

Now, here’s an explanation of the code, the first href link within the double quotes is the link for your SMS Channel, this is the one which will be embedded within the cute little picture of Google SMS Channels which will be part of the widget… Oh and also, the second href link is your sms channel too!!!

Google SMS Channels

So, all you have to do is this: Change the two href double quoted links from My SMS Channel (NitinsBlog) to the Subscribe link for your SMS Channel and post it in the Widget for your Blog and you’re done…

Oh wait! How to make your own widget?? If you are on WordPress, simply go to the Widgets page in your Admin and add the Text Widget to your Widget list and add the Code there…

If you are on Blogger, go to the Layouts page in your Admin and click on the Add a Gadget link, then, click on the HTML/JAVASCRIPT widget in the Basic Gadgets and add the code there…

One last note, make sure you change the href link and make sure you put the subscribe link for your sms channel in double quotes for it to work properly.. and if yuo don’t change it, you’ll be making sure that people join my blog instead of yours! 😀

And a p.s. No common user uses Google SMS Channels right now so they’re going to have to register themselves to it first and that’s a slightly confusing process. I have already added the whole procedure to my earlier post, here and I seriously suggest that you read it and write your own blog post about how to join the sms channels for the benefit of your readers… Feel free to copy from my post…

Finally, if you want to get a feel about how Google SMS channels treat a new user, register yourself from my blog’s channel using the widget given at the top right side of my blog 😀

Have fun!

What Reality?

What is Our Reality? What is it that indeed defines this World We live in, this Life that we see so many moments of? What is the meaning of all this pain and suffering and happiness and misery and a sad, beautiful sense of relief that We have lived this life?

I Quote from The Matrix, a movie with so many hidden meanings that every line is a coded message!

Agent Smith:

“Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.”

Today, I was watching the Movie “Shortcut to Happiness” and I was reminding of The Matrix in the closing sequence of the movie because the Devil claims in the movie that God had the option of creating any world He wanted to but He created this one with all the pain and suffering and most importantly, all the failures We face during our lives. At this point I thought about the aforesaid quote and thought, why would God NOT create a perfect world? Probably because the way Human Nature is defined, We would suspect nothing to be true in a world like that.

Further, I am reminded of the concept of Yugas according to Hindu Mythology. There is, out of 4 Ages or Eras, One Epoch of particular interest, the SatYug, where Man is the perfect form of Purity, characterised by all the good deeds ever possible, without Want or Lust or Need for Earthly desires. In such an age, we can only say that Humans would be living a perfect life. That’s where the conflict grew in my Mind, that if we can never have a perfect world then how does One explain the occurrence of the SatYug?

The Answer was quick to present itself… In the SatYug, the Devil disappears, not so much as the incarnation of the Devil disappearing, but the concept of Need and that of Greed disappear as everyone is content with what they have. It was interesting to compare the concepts of the Matrix, an embodiment of Western Thought based loosely on Eastern Philosophy with the concepts presented by Hindu Mythology, but in the end I realised, heck, lets just finish watching the movie and go to sleep!

🙂

p.s. I would Love to have comments from my readers about this idea I have discussed above… Thanks Lalit!

Time to Break Up

Ever wondered whether small is beautiful or If Size truly does matter? Although it may seem it, I am not talking about the complex dynamics of an interpersonal relationship here, although such a thing would be the perfect example…

I am talking about Organizations and Corporations and the Question whether we learn something from the facts and acts that define the new Millennium. Here’s my Case, presented in three parts:

Case I.

The corporation known as General Motors (GM) is the acknowledged second-largest of the world behind Toyota and owners of some really popular brands such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Pontiac and the now sold brands Hummer, Saab and Opel. One would consider GM to be truly a leader with amazing profits and a huge market-share, considering that it and Toyota leave all the competition behind or if they can’t, they buy it! However, GM filed for Bankruptcy on June 1st, 2009. What this says about the Health of their companies bank-books is quite obvious, they were facing a huge recession and just couldn’t keep themselves above water, so they had to let go of certain brands and certain assumptions about their market-value. GM has promised that when the company emerges from bankruptcy, it will be

“a leaner, quicker more customer and completely product-focused company, one that’s more cost competitive and has a competitive balance sheet.”

I at one time wondered what that meant and what implications would it have? Would it mean that there will be dropping of people from various levels of management in order to bring more speed into the Equation? Will it mean that GM will sell most of it’s brands which have low profit but are popular and iconic in nature such as Hummer and Opel? Oh wait, they’re already done that! So what will GM do? GM plans to emerge as a leaner company with a smaller work force, fewer plants and a trimmed dealership network. This means that they will keep fewer jobs in their overall structure till the time they can stand up on their feet and buy back the 60% ownership stake of the US government and 12.5% stake of the Canadian government. In other words, GM will become smaller than its previous avtar in order to beat the vicious fangs of recession.

Case II.

Now I wish to tread on more dangerous ground. This, by taking up three examples of Religions which have become too big for their own good and have lost more than just followers, they have lost Faith…

The first is the Roman Catholic Church,representing over half of all Christians and one-sixth of the world’s population. Now, the Church has it’s biggest population in Europe, the lands of it’s origins and it’s long history. But Christianity is present even beyond those borders, all over the world, spreading to the farthest corners with missionaries taking long voyages to bring the light of Christianity to the uneducated and unblessed. It is this huge enterprise which now stands at the brink of loosing all faith by it’s followers. It is obvious the more popular a movement, more will be the people who tend to attack it. But this religion, with it’s long history and large following has now started to creak from the inside with the tendency to follow practices very often condemned by the same Church.

Similar is the story for two major Religions- Hinduism and Islam. They have a long history, both bloody and divine, but what neither of these Religions have realized is that the need for any faith to be successful is a strong leader who personally knows the thoughts and prejudices of his parish, not scriptures or complex rituals which may be interpreted differently by everyone and thus confused as faith. Indeed, it is probable that a preist in a one room church in Mongolia may infuse better faith amongst his fellow Christians than a reading of the Bible in even the most Grand Churches of Denmark. Similarly, no Pandit or Imam may claim that he is above the religion and yet hope to win the faith of people completely.

Case III.

Now I wish to explore the case of a small enterprise started in the Villages of Bangladesh by a now Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus named quite aptly, Grameen Bank. The objective of the bank was to provide small amounts of money in the form of loans to poor farmers and workers (specifically, to the wives of these people) without asking for any Collateral. This scheme is based on the principles of MicroCredit and the concept that even the Credit-unworthy can work wonders when given Credit, that it is best when a task is done at the Grass-Roots level, for that is where all the trust rests.

I sincerely hope that all the topics discussed above be well-researched into by my readers before making any conclusions, my version of which, I present below:-

“It is not possible for any organisation to grow extremely large without bursting at the seams from internal pressure. Any real Work of Faith, Belief, hard work or finance is done best when done at the grass-roots. A single man working hard and getting paid is better than thousands working hard and yet not getting a rupee back.”

And so,  it is time for all the BIG organizations, whether of Men or Machines, to realize that if you want to live through these troubled times, it’s time to break up…

Dealing With Dust

I went to the hostel today, just to clear out a few things I had kept over there while having moved out to live separately. What I did not realize was that those weren’t a few things which I had chosen to leave, they were a whole Life of me which I had gotten cut-off from since I moved out. Among the important ones were a whole set of my writings which I have never published simply because I never got the time to do so. Also, all my work related to Politics and Philosophy, topics upon which I had deliberated a lot during the course of the first and second years of college and which I had felt were life changing, lay there like a distant past of which I had no recollection, just the knowledge that a few pages with my handwriting were kept there, protected even from my own self, never to be further thought about. About these Ideas and Ideals to which I had once subscribed, I would like to say today that –

“If Man wants, he can include Philosophy into his Life, thus making it a Never-ending Quagmire of Thought, Self-Doubt and the Reassurance that Man is Superior to Animal”

after Four years of Engineering, it has come as no surprise to me that I now believe in Hard Work more than ever. As I step into the part of my Life where I will be a part of the Corporate World, I have now this notion-

“The Simplest and Most effective way for a Person to live is to Work. Nothing else is as Important as working hard. And working hard is what makes Life easier than ever.”

Deliberations on Philosophy and Politics are indeed habits of those who have the Luxury of wasting their time in making their Lives Complicated. The Simple way of Life does not involve these, just a clear understanding of what a Person’s work is and what the resultant thoughts and beliefs are.

In digressing from the topic of cleaning up my Hostel room, I wanted to ensure that the thoughts that went through my mind when I was arranging my things together were noted down. However, the more important detail is about what all I found there.

The second Important thing I found there were some of my clothes. I got very nostalgic when I saw them, discussing with my roommate Lalit the amazing journey I made from being a size 32 waist to a size 38! I know I am fat right now and I am less than proud of it. But it is an amazing thing for me to see myself as a lean, weak boy with cheeks sunk deep into my cheekbones as opposed to a well rounded man with chubby cheeks and friends who keep reminding me that I must join the gym!

It is not everyday that One gets to look at their past and present in such a glaringly contrasting way, but this insight was amazing and has made me rethink a lot about what were my thoughts and beliefs when I was two years less-experienced than I am today and I now ponder over whether in the fierceness of my devotion to my Ideals, I was believing in the right things or not…

After all, today I am happy to be an Engineer, but at some point, I wanted to be a Politician!

p.s. I promise that those unseen writings of mine will be put up soon, complete with my favorite creative commons license!