Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Yellow Line

I have seen a yellow line in the airports at the metal detector near the security check area. The queue starts from the metal detector and one must stand behind the yellow line.

I have often wondered what purpose the yellow line serves.

Recently, I visited USA on a vacation. I noticed yellow lines every where. Even in the coach we traveled, there was a yellow line in the aisle near the driver. The driver will not start if some one has crossed the yellow line.

Queues are a very important element of civilization. In operations research, queuing theory is a tool in optimization. In computer science, queues are a very important data structure. In nature, we find ants achieve seemingly impossible things by following a queue.

I have noticed the futility of jumping the queue in the airport. We need to stand several times in a queue: when getting into the airport, check in, security, boarding, getting in the bus which takes us to the plane, deplaning. No matter who is ahead of us, we all reach the destination at the same time. It seems like a small victory in being ahead in a queue but there are no benefits. Following the queue helps in completing the process faster.

I have also observed how people respect a queue in a temple. In Jagannath Temple in Puri, queues are rarely formed and the Darshan is a traumatic experience for many. In south India, the queues are more regularly followed in temples.

I have observed school children meticulously form and follow a queue in school or when they visit a zoo or a museum in a group. But, as adults we often are too impatient to follow a queue and end up being chaotic.

I do not know why we hate queues but some reasons may be a. feeling more important if you do not stand in a queue, b. a feeling that you will achieve or acquire some thing out of turn, c. the VIP culture.

I hope to see more queues and less chaos in the Institute.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bad News First

Everybody loves a good news. Be it in exams or job or family, or health, we welcome the good news.

I was chatting with an IT executive and he told me that he wanted to hear about bad news first and good news later. The logic was simple: you can do something if you hear the bad news early. He narrated incidents when he broke the bad news to his clients early and was appreciated for that.

That discussion got me thinking. It is said that before the truth takes off, the lie travels around the world. It may also be true of bad news and good news. I have often shared the bad stories with students and parents first. A few of them have appreciated the idea.

In our culture, the bad news is often not shared but the good news is gloated upon. Personally, I think no news is good news and bad news is worse news. One has to keep both eye and ear open for the bad before it becomes a news item.

Here are some good news and bad news jokes.

A man receives a phone call from his doctor.The doctor says, “I have some good news and some bad news.”The man says, “OK, give me the good news first.” The doctor says, “The good news is, you have 24 hours to live.” The man replies, “Oh no! If that’s the good news, then what’s the bad news?”The doctor says, “The bad news is, I forgot to call you yesterday.”

Here are some quotes about good news and bad news.

“It is much, much worse to receive bad news through the written word than by somebody simply telling you, and I’m sure you understand why. When somebody simply tells you bad news, you hear it once, and that’s the end of it. But when bad news is written down, whether in a letter or a newspaper or on your arm in felt tip pen, each time you read it, you feel as if you are receiving the bad news again and again.”
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

“There's good news and slightly less good news.”
― Joanne Harris, The Gospel of Loki


“The bad news is nothing lasts forever,
The good news is nothing lasts forever.”
― J. Cole


“In my experience , big words ornament bad news.”
― Roshani Chokshi, The Star-Touched Queen


“Bad news has good legs.”
― Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley  
 
 

First Convocation



There is something special about First. Often in the family, the first child is special. In movies the First Day First Show is special. The first day of your life is special and is celebrated as the birth day.

For the Institute the First Batch will always remain special. They have gone through a lot of hardship but got a lot of attention from the faculty and administration. The First few faculty members will also be special as they have built the Institution.

Our first convocation will also be special. It is the most important event for the Institute became an University.

The Institute became an University in Jan 2014. Therefore, the students graduating in 2014 were awarded degree by the Institute. However, we did not hold the Convocation in 2014 and 2015. The reason being the we were working on many formalities demanded by the University Act. In the last board meeting, it was decided to hold the first convocation in 2016. It was also decided that Hpn'ble CM Sri Naveen Patnaik will be the convocation speaker.

We started preparing for the Convocation by seeking a suitable time from the HE Governor and Hon'ble CM. Once the dates were finalized, we prepared the long check-list of thinks to do. The check-list was long and included items like stitching the robe, medals, tent, and many other items. We wanted this event to be memorable. We wanted the event to be executed to perfection. We wanted the event to be crisp and precise.

We started the event on time and finished in an hours time. The timing was nearly perfect considering that it was the first convocation.

We has unexpected last minute challenges we had not anticipated. The security requirements of the Hon'ble CM had to be complied with at the last moment. The certifications - civil, electrical and fire - for the temporary structure had to be obtained at the very last moment. The police demands for frisking had to be complied with at the last moment.

There were disappointments also. Some students inspite of our clear communication came late and were not given the robes and the certificates on stage. Many parents commented on non-serious nature of a delay by a few minutes and the Institute's undue hard stand on the same. While we have our sympathies with them, I believe that they failed in their professionalism in not reporting one time.

All Student volunteers, staff members and the faculty members did a wonderful job. I thank each one of them for making the First Convocation an event to remember.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

SPICMACAY in IIIT

Dhanada Mishra and his wife Babita Mishra are my good friends. Dhanada is slightly crazy (which may be an underestimation). He studied in India, USA and worked in Australia. Then he returned to India and now plays politics in AAP. But the couple do wonderful things like running Spicmacay chapters in Odisha.

Here is an extract from Wikipedia about SpicMacay

SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) is a non-political, nationwide, voluntary movement founded in 1977 by Dr Kiran Seth, Professor-Emeritus at IIT-Delhi who was awarded the ‘Padma Shri’ for his contribution to the arts in 2009.

SPICMACAY’s intention is to enrich the quality of formal education by increasing awareness about different aspects of Indian heritage and inspiring the young mind to imbibe the values embedded in it. It seeks to inspire youth through experiencing the mysticism embodied in the rich and heterogeneous cultural tapestry of Indian and World Heritage, with a hope that the beauty, grace, values and wisdom embodied in these arts will influence their way of life and thinking and inspire one to become a better human being. For this, the most accomplished artistes of the country render programmes of Indian classical music and dance, folk, poetry, theatre, traditional paintings, crafts & yog primarily in schools and colleges. In 2011, SPIC MACAY was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana award in recognition of its contribution to youth development.

I had my brush with Spicmacay in IIT Kgp in 70s, IIMB in 80s and XIMB in 90s and 2000s. I always made it a point attend the Spicmacay programs and witness some great performances by icons of Indian classical music.

It has been my dream to start Spicmacay programs in IIIT-BH, This year we had three classical performances - the latest being by Sarod Maestro Pt. Tejendra Narayan Majumdar. The programme was enthralling. The claps from the audience reflected their appreciation.

We hope to have many more such programmes and more so from local artists.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tragedy Strikes Again

In my interactions First Year students and their parents, I often narrate many tragedies that have struck the Institute, its students, staff and faculty. The objective being we learn from those mistakes and prevent such tragedies in future. While some learn from such narratives, others do not.

The tragedy happened again this Monday a day before the Republic day.

Five of the First year students went to Puri on Monday. This was a working day. They took an auto rickshaw to go to Puri. They went into the Sea, There was a huge wave. They lost balance and were being dragged into the sea. The Life Guards swung into action and rescued four of them. One them could not be rescued. He went missing in the sea. His body was discovered 2 days later in a lonely beach 7 kilometers away from the main Puri beach.

Sourav Kumar was a decent, studious and honest boy. He was in his full senses when he went into the sea. He and his friends went into the main Puri Beach where hundreds of tourists, shop keepers and life guards found. Many people take bath in the sea. While accidents are rare in this beach, they happen with distressing regularity.

The Institute truly saddened by the loss of life of promising young boy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the grieving family members of Sourav's family. We hope they will learn to live with Sourav's loss quickly.

However, I am concerned with us missing lessons from such tragedies. To my mind following are the lessons for the Students and their Parents:
  1.  The students must keep their parents abreast of their movements and coordinates when they go out of the campus.
  2. The parents must keep track of their wards at all times.
  3. We feel powerful in a group and underestimate the risks involved in our actions. Being aware of risk and having a plan to mitigate the risk is important

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SRK's Keynote at IIM Bangalore

IIM Bangalore is my alma mater. I spent two of my best years there about 25 years ago. Recently, they held a alumni convention and Shah Rukh Khan was the Keynote speaker. I share his inspiring keynote.

Thank you to Saif and team to put all this together. Good evening to the Alumni of IIM, the faculties, students and distinguished guests.

I was so pleased with myself when Mrs. Shaw requested me to give the keynote lecture for this alumni conclave until I saw the alumni list. My mind suddenly froze up like the icebergs in Iceland where I have just shot my latest song, and I thought, “What will I say to all these wonderfully wise people?” For a second I contemplated sending a stunt double but then I read a joke about the wisdom of all you amazing achievers from IIM. The joke made it clear to me that all of you are extremely wise, but your wisdom is of a different kind from us lesser mortals. It went something like this….it was about a kid who claimed he was too good for the standard 1 that he was in and should be promoted to the fourth standard. He was marched to the principal’s office and for gender equality reasons; obviously the principal was a lady. She thought the kid should be given a fair chance, as ladies are always fair and said she would ask him a few questions and if he will answer them right…he will be promoted to the fourth standard. Her first question to him was… 
what does a cow have four of that I have only two of? Boy after a moment…Legs.

What is in your pants that you have but I do not have. Boy…pockets.

What does a lady do sitting down a man does standing up and a dog does with his one leg raised. Boy…shake hands.

What starts with F and ends with K is a four letter word and if you don’t get it, you have to use your hand….boy confidently…A Fork.

The principal looks at the teacher and tells him, send him to the IIM …he will fit in there just perfect.

That gave me some confidence to stand before you all. Maybe in your quest for knowledge, you all might have overlooked some very basic and simple truths…so here I am…to widen your sphere on how normal mortals would have answered those questions.

I am no guru in creative leadership so please bear me with some compassion and patience and do excuse my humour.

The essence of creativity is the ability to channelize imagination into expression and build from it something new and possibly ingenious. Whether it is an art form or a scientific invention or discovering a new way of doing the same old thing…it begins in the mind. A mind that does not function within the framework of boundaries but constantly searches beyond them is a mind that is able to create anew. The cornerstone of leadership, I believe, is nothing more than cultivating the discipline and courage to nurture and sustain such a mind while constantly calling the bluff of the illusory limits imposed by life.

See I am fifty. An age where you most likely are making retirement plans not romantic plans. But here I am still coochie cooing girls my children’s age. And no they don’t look up to me, actually they can’t because they are all taller than me, they treat me as their age/equal having been put in the position of someone who is a romantic hero, I have cultivated a belief that I can love them back as beautifully as any man can age notwithstanding. With respect dignity and put in my own experiences of life, which younger heroes won’t have. Though I must admit girls having a bit of a father fixation, comes in handy with my endeavors.

Leaders are able to assimilate experience in order to reframe the world around themselves on their own terms. They use the very structure of life to dismantle it. They are not afraid to question, to imagine, to dream and to believe. They are also not afraid to act even if their actions might not result in success.

There is an old song I always turn to, when I am faced with adversity. Being a public figure most of my actions and intentions are questioned, reviewed and sometimes loved and sometimes even distorted. Ranging from praising my sexiness to questioning my sexuality, I get it all. But whenever I feel thwarted I think of this song…Hum to ACT karega. Duniya se nahi darega. Chahye ye zamaana kahe humko deewana kahe hum toh ACT karega.

Many books have been written on leadership skills, on methods and models for it but in my view, it really isn’t all that complicated. To be able to dream unencumbered, to imagine and hang on to a boundless mind filled with ideas so that you never stop renewing yourself and the world around you whether it is your inner world, your consciousness or your outer world that encompasses your profession and your relationships is essential to leadership. But dreaming is not enough, its also important to be able to dismantle the old, the frameworks that are laid out before you, the ideas that you yourself cling to, the ones that hold you back and prevent you from growing. It is by disassembling your fears of failing, of losing (not just things, but people and positions), and most of all- of change that you can be truly creative not just in the things you choose to do, but in the way you view your part in the world you inhabit.

I meet many successful people in the world of business and I often find that while their ideas are very clear, the way they speak of them is oddly dispassionate. The madness and passion are missing. I get the sad impression that business often becomes numerical: about millions and targets or it ends up being so goal driven that there is a stark loss of inspiration from it. I think the emphasis on organizational goals and efficiency has clouded the poetry of creating. Perhaps because of the artistic basis of the work I do, it is difficult for me to relate to this starkness. I feel it lacks life. Creation cannot be a managerial concept/notion, no matter how good the idea is, it has to be an “imaginerial” conception. To lead means to inspire, and you cannot inspire people mechanically or through numerical (with all due respect…unless they are stock brokers or bankers!!). Inspiration is an emotional construct. To make people believe in anything, whether it is a product, a story, an idea, or you: you need to connect their ability to imagine and dream with your own.

You can’t create within a box with unbending walls. It is an open process, one that is welcoming and wild. To abandon that inclusive wildness for a narrowly defined goal is illusory. I have never set one- truly. I have never set out to earn a particular amount, to count the crores at the box office or to compare my worth with anyone else’s. In fact I would go as far as saying that quantifiable goals are indeed illusions. The only reality is hard work.

Diligence is imperative to both creativity and leadership. Making the mistake of thinking that your dreams will take flight without you having to flap madly at those wings to get up into the sky is plain silly. In my experience, its great to delegate, but there’s no short cut to working hard. To know and to understand what you are doing, to be open to learning about it and from it, every single moment requires diligence. It requires work. If you want to excel at something there shouldn’t be a single person around you who can claim to be more familiar with its mechanics than you are. Its non negotiable to strive and to be familiar with your trade. Life remains ordinary if you are unable to sustain the capacity to work hard on your dreams. If you aren’t determined to get there- you won’t. And this is a paradoxical thing because I’ve heard many people say that you need to know where you’re going to be determined about reaching there but it hasn’t been the case with me. I never knew my destination, I can’t even claim to know it today…Now that I am on the cover of Forbes India, is that where I wanted to be as a businessman.

My IPL team has won the championship and its profitable, is that the dream I had for a sporting franchise venture. I have a film running in a cinema hall for the last twenty years…should that be the attempt in terms of achievement for my next film. No I don’t think so. I believe goals actually limit our ambitions and desire. I don’t mean that don’t have goals, but call them milestones…think of them as a passing moment of excellence and keep on striving harder for a place which can’t be defined or confined by names or numbers. I have never set goals but I have truly never done a single thing that I wasn’t determined to do the best. I had no idea where it would take me for the most part of it, but I had the idea that I would do whatever it was with a determination that would scare everyone else away.

No matter how hard we work, however, leadership implies being prepared for disaster. And it will come. If it doesn’t hit you like a tsunami washing away your house and home…it’ll show up some other way, as failure maybe, or then by taking away something (or someone) you loved and believed in… so what are you going to do about it? You can cry and wallow. I do that often and I am not ashamed to admit it. I do that in a special corner reserved for tears in my huge golden bathroom. Somewhere between the Jacuzzi and the steam room, I sit on the floor and shed huge tears of self pity, persecution and how the world doesn’t understand my genius and effort….but then I take a hot and cold shower and walk out wearing my limited edition cologne… ready to embrace disaster. So a bit of wallowing and crying is ok… but the thing to understand is that if you learn how to welcome disaster you overcome it. So what if everything gets turned on its head, change your perspective- do a hand stand- don’t sit there staring at the ruins, start getting bits of you together and rebuilding yourself. That’s what leadership is about after all. Besides a “perfect life” is a farce. God isn’t making utopian ad films and screening them on the clouds to sell it’s USP to you. It’s a man made idea and we’re buying into it all the time. Actually, there is nothing more beautiful than the imperfection of life. Creativity is about taking this imperfection and translating into something beauteous. In my trade, life serves as a fertile ground for innovation and ideas. We use its imperfection every moment. In fact there is really nothing that allows us to create better or to live better than trouble so why not embrace it and embrace ourselves too in the bargain. And while we are embracing, lets embrace destiny too ( in my case I will embrace Kajol, Madhuri and Alia also, which unfortunately doesn’t come in your perks package whichever company you join or create…ha ha) because Destiny isn’t what it’s rolled out to be either. Accidents happen (I am a living proof of an accidental movie star/entrepreneur/speaker at an IIM gathering. I wanted to be a sportsman. Represent India hopefully as a hockey or a cricket player. Suddenly I hurt my back. Didn’t have the resources to get the best treatment. Joined a theater group to fill in time and overcome my sadness of not being able to play at a professional level. Father died and we were evicted from our rented house. Mother went looking for a smaller place and the dealer’s father in law was making a series, called Fauji. My mother sent me to him and he cast me as Abhimanyu Rai in the serial. Things went ballistic from there. I got film offers and one thing led to another, and I became a movie star. By the way we never took the house from the dealer, Mr. Dhawan who actually got me on the road to stardom. And my mother didn’t live long enough to see my work either). I realize now that hurting my back wasn’t an accident, being here speaking to you all is the larger happier accident. So destiny plays a part for sure and no one can teach us either how to find it or how to chase it. Just like disaster, it will come your way but if you don’t have the courage to ride its wave when it does, it’ll toss you right back on the beach and all you’ll get to see is the sunset of a tired and weary life (plus your backside will be sore!). So I would advise keeping your eyes open for life’s magic and not turning away from it citing practicality and good reason. There isn’t one. Be brave enough to face your destiny, to sacrifice for it and compromise for it if you have to. It will always be worth it. To imagine that you know better than life is the silliest (and possibly the most costly) mistake one can ever make.

To conclude, I’d like to borrow from my latest endeavour of creativity- Dilwale and say that unless you live by the heart, unless you are Dilwale, none of this will truly translate into the splendour that life is capable of unfolding before you. The mind is the seed of creativity but the heart is the soil. That seed cannot grow without an open heart. To be able to love, to give, to share, to nurture, to take others along on your journey with as much goodwill for them as you have for yourself is the basis of all creative endeavour, of all real success, of all happiness and of true leadership. If you close up your heart to the world, if you choose to live your life on parameters that let you forget how to love, you will dishonor life and disallow it from honouring you. There is no greater creativity in life or leadership than the ability to touch each moment that you are living with the beauty of living it by your heart, to give back to life the fullness that it has had the generosity to give to you.

And that joke I cracked about the little kid…giving all abnormal answers to basic questions….was just a joke. I really think all of you from IIM are very sexy and cool. Actually I must admit it’s really next to impossible to find such a combination of smart and sexy in so many people together. It’s an honour to be amidst you, and talk with you, for it does get lonely just talking to myself in the corner of my golden bathroom.
Thank you. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Thoughts on Teachers' Day

The Doctoral students invited me to be part of the Teachers' Day celebration. I shared a joke with them which I am repeating here.

There was a preacher and a bus driver.

The preacher used to conduct the mass in the church. He used to give messages like be be good, be kind, love thy neighbour etc. His mass was repetitive, boring and least engaging.

The bus driver was a rogue. He used drink and drive. He used drive too fast. He never followed any traffic rules. The passengers in the bus and the public outside used to be very afraid.

The preacher and the bus driver died on the same day. They landed at the pearly gates. St. Peter looked at their records and asked the preacher to go to hell and the bus driver to heaven.

The preacher was shocked. He could not believe the decision of St. Peter. The preacher told  he was a man of god, he always advised people to be good, he himself led a exemplary life. St. Peter told that the decision has been made and cant be changed. The preacher demanded an explanation.

St Peter said when you were preaching people were sleeping but when the driver was driving they were praying.

We encounter two kinds of teachers: ones like the preacher and the others like the bus driver. The first kind believes in teaching in a boring way while the second kind makes you learn in their own unique way. The most memorable teachers are the second kind who pushed students against the wall.