Saturday, December 28, 2013

Youth can have political aspirations again

As Arvind Kejriwal swore in as Chief Minister of New Delhi today, I could feel something changing within me. I knew million others of my age would be feeling the same change.

India is young. People talk about the country's demographic dividend. It has been benefiting us in some many spheres of life, the shiniest beacon of this success being the IT Services industry. It has grown at an unprecedented scale in recent past. One field of life which was nearly untouched by this energetic youth was Politics. The most crucial part aspect for any country's growth. Young people like me have been skeptic of joining politics. The reason isn't because they wish to play safe, or because they were no willing to serve the society/country.

I have a lot of talented friends, who are natural leaders. Who have the will to serve the society, but they don't want to join politics. They volunteer for NGOs. Teach in slums, orphanages. Do all sorts of things but do not have political aspirations. Even when they know that, it is the avenue to trigger the biggest change. I

When I turned 18, I was excited, I could vote. I could participate in electing the next government for my state, my country. I went to the polling booth, I was confused. There was no one who I could vote for. None of the contestants were pursuing an agenda which I was interested in. This is the reason why a lot of young people still don't vote.

There has been a buzz in the media. In next general elections there will 120 million first time voters. It is a huge number but wouldn't have been take seriously by the political parties hadn't it been to the turn of events in last 2 years. (An unintended revolution)

Before I delve deeper into what has changed, I would like to enumerate reasons why I couldn't participate in the elections when I was eligible for the first time to vote. There are a large number of political parties in our country, but they have been contesting elections of issues which were relevant back in 1980s. Some parties do stand up for things that look beyond the political horizon, talk about growth and progress, but their are other factors that would hinder an aspiring young leader from joining them.
  • Congress is the undoubtedly the single largest party in country, with a rich legacy. But today it has degraded into a mediocre undemocratic organization, which bows before 'the chosen one'. The excellent cadre system destroyed, you need to know more about 'chamchagiri' than politics to rise through the ranks.
  • BJP the only other national party, cannot distance itself from the fundamentalist sister organizations, VHP & RSS. The ideological narrow mindedness means that it will never have the country wide acceptance.
  • Regional parties like RJD, BSP, SP who cater to a specific target group, generally identified by a caste.
In this political scene, a person would have to make a compromise with himself before actually entering in the fray to do good. I personally registered for membership two times, but couldn't do that.

Nitish Kumar in Bihar seemed the only person who didn't have these vices attached. Maybe a few others in Southern India.

In this environment Arvind Kejriwal has broken boundaries. There is a brand new politics, which focuses on contemporary issues. A person of middle class has reminded us again, that you don't have to belong to a particular family or caste to become a politician. Something which was lost after independence, sons & grandsons ascended constituencies from their fathers.

I'm hopeful again, that politics will once again become a passion, it has been a profession for too long.

This gives me hope:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It was not just another HR course

Second day of the second quarter it was the second lecture of the day. The time table said it was time for Individual Dynamics in Organization. An HR course! I had had an experience of HR courses in my engineering days. They were always theoretical, always monotonous, always boring. Whether it was Industrial Psychology or Industrial Sociology, most of them would look appealing in the beginning but after the initial few lectures there would be mass bunks especially planned for them. Not that they weren't interesting, but usually because the class would fail to see what value they would add to an engineering student. Credits and marks for these subjects required just a lot swotting, the last night before the exam.

On these lines were my expectations from this new course. At-least two credits would be easy to earn, one sixth of the quarter was only done. I expected myself to doze in the lectures.

With such stereotype already built in my mind I sat expectantly to see who the professor was, what would be her grading, was she more focused on end-quarter exams or there would be assignments? Will there group assignments or the boring individual ones.

The class started, the professor swept in with a smile on her face. Asked us to form groups of eight. We were to discuss about the best and worst class that we had ever attended. Focusing on those two classes, we had to recall what the professor had done, and what the students had done in those classes.

Friday, July 5, 2013

An end and a new beginning.

Last few weeks have flashed past so fast that I hardly remember any of the events in detail. A journey that began of September, 14th, 2009 ended. Everything that I put together in the period of four years in engineering fell apart in a flash. There was no time for emotions. The world was now glaring at me, it isn't too kind to a graduate. I was well prepared for this moment. I've been hunting down every opportunity that I could lay my hands on, preparing for this moment of realization.

I had secured a job at Tata Consultancy Services Limited through the campus recruitment process. So I wasn't gonna be jobless. But fours years in a private engineering colleges had already taught me one thing: never settle down for what you have. Once you're satisfied with your life; it is finished. This hunger wasn't there when I had finished schooling. At the point of time, I was content. But this time I was ready, I already has decided that before even appearing in the interview, that if I get selected in TCS, I wont join. The offer letter was supposed to be a trophy of my first kill.

I had planned it all through, if I didn't get an awesome job, I'd go for higher education. Get a tag from an Institute of National Importance and bask in the glory of being a part of it for the next two years. Life was kind to me, I fared well in the entire MBA admissions procedure, the CAT, the group discussions and the interviews. I hadn't left Lucknow for most part of the 20 years my existence. If I did, I was only to Allahabad.The whole process of B-School hunting took me to new places, alone. My parents supported me, bearing all the expenses of these trips to Delhi, the tickets, the hotel stays. This exercise gave me a lot of self-confidence. I always was poor in facing interviews in my college life, but those 30 minute sessions with the some of the best professors in country helped me get over this shortcoming.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Who Am I?

As an informal assignment the seniors from the B-School that I'd probably be joining shortly, asked us to create a fish-bone diagram or an Ishikawa diagram to answer the question 'Who Am I?'. Though I never submitted an assignment during my graduation, I decided to turn over a new leaf this time around.
An Ishikawa or a fish-bone diagram for 'Who Am I?'

Friday, April 19, 2013

I love it when a plan comes together

It has been a roller coaster ride since I got my CAT result on 9 January. In this period, I have been to about a dozen of B-school and job interviews where I usually feel nervous, to the dozen of B-school Group Discussion where I feel quite at ease. Interviewed about 50 odd students myself in the recruitment for my Drams club. Organized the Annual fest of my college. And experienced betrayals, success, loneliness, bankruptcy and whatnot.

After three months of doing stuff that I did because 'a man gotta do what a man gotta do' I was finally jobless again on April 15th. I had been busy, but something that was more important than all of this had been put on the back-burner. My final year project. Something that I'd talk about when I'm old and lose all my teeth. The glorious feeling of creating a software system. It took me 6 months to zero down to a topic. I wanted it to be something new, a project which had never been made before. My quest for a novel idea, was unfruitful. So decided to go on an adventure ride on a topic I had no idea about. I have decided to create the replica of Skydrive or the Googledrive. Though it has already been invented, I decided to create a cloud file storage system of my own, which I thought was sufficiently difficult.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The First Battle: down but not defeated

My life has been an easy one. I never had to try hard to get anything. You can say that I have been cruising through these years. Most of this comfort is due to the fact that nobody expected much from me. I've been better than average all through my life, but never the best.

After some odd 20 years of same life, one is bound to get bored. I also fell prey to the same fate. A dormant trait, ambition, activated itself. Now I was wondering how to pull myself out of the stream, in which I had been flowing along for all these years, and which definitely was leading me to a life of mediocre. So I started planning, with my graduation underway, there were two options. A better job or a better education. From my profile I could only land myself a software job, which isn't very hard to get in the current IT boom. Everyone has one. So it was better education that I needed. This path forked out into technical or managerial education. Here it was an obvious choice, management education. High return on investment and a degree that makes you fit for working in almost every field.

So it began, the war for MBA.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

An unintended revolution

When Anna Hazare sat down for his anshan at Jantar Mantar, on 5 April 2011, he had an agenda on his mind. He wanted to uproot corruption from India. A nearly impossible task, corruption has mingled so beautifully into our social fabric that, that we all have a blind eye for it. When an officer gets a bundle of crisp new currency notes, it is termed as a gift for the family and children. It is never for him. When one has to cough up more money than what is legitimately payable for any government service, one never feels extorted or bribed, it is more likely to be considered as 'Suvidha Shulk' - (Convenience Fee) a small amount of money which one can afford and others cannot. It must really feel good to stamp their financial superiority on others as people cruise up the long line, get their work done while others sweat there for hours. Same goes with our administrators, politicians, representatives and other elected people of authority. When they cut their commission from the public budget, they feel it is morally justified. It is a small compensation for the years of public service, even the people running NGOs draw their livelihood from the donations don't they?

In such social atmosphere how could a person with no organizational support? How could he fight a crusade against corruption? Will people turn against themselves? Was the 'society' mature enough to introspect and clean itself from sins that the members of the society loved to commit?

Anyone with a sane mind would know that this was not even a possibility. Even Hazare must have known, because instead of aiming at corruption in society in general with a cannon, he targeted corruption in politicians and ministers with an sniper rifle.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

India after Gandhi - Ramachandra Guha

Cover of the Indian Edition
India after Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy written by Ramachandra Guha. I would just like to thank the author for this great piece of Literature. It has given immense faith to me in Indian Democracy and its eccentric ways. It is a must read for everyone.

I've read books since I was a kid, a journey from Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys to the Classic Fiction of Jules Verne & H.G. Wells, to the fantasy of J.K Rowling and Tolkien, but India after Gandhi was my first venture into the uncharted waters of non-fiction. If it were to normal circumstances I wouldn't have ever come across this book. A lot of credit goes to PurpleLeap, a foe to the student fraternity of BBDGEI, who organized a Blogmaster contest and awarded me with a Gift Voucher of Flipkart to buy an Apple Ipod.

Uninterested in music I browsed through the site and decided to buy books, and bought all the box-sets and collections, and with them I also carelessly bought this book. I wondered if I would ever read whole of this book, which seems an epic of 900 pages.

As I started reading the Prologue of this book, it was literally a moment of awakening. In the opening few pages Guha explains why India is a peculiar nation, why it is an exception to most of the notions of a country. The ideas and facts presented are known to nearly every aware Indian, but when you observe them in the light of comparisons  with Europe, America, Africa and other Asian countries, it really makes you feel proud about India. Every page of this books fills the mind with nostalgia.

Guha brings about the best in everyone from the society in this book, the freedom fighter turned politicians are depicted as the founding fathers of the nation. The ICS servicemen who were the perpetrators in the crime of helping an Imperial power enslave their own motherland are also glorified for their services after freedom, which was necessary to bind the different states, with their own culture, language, and glorious history into a single Union of India. He really turns the post-independence India into some adventurous world, just like the Middle Earth. The first general elections after Independence is termed as the biggest gamble in the history of the world. He celebrates the democracy throughout the book, not only in India, but also in Indian National Congress, the largest political party.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Paradox of Indian Politics

'There are two ways of making politics one’s vocation: Either one lives “for” politics or one lives “off” it' - the great German sociologist Max Weber once remarked.

In our case, we are today dominated by the later case. Our political leaders would face massive unemployment if they stopped being political leaders. Firstly most of them have businesses which would not be profitable if they do not control the state machinery. The ventures in real estate, infrastructure and liquor licenses do not require skills of entrepreneurship as much as they require favors from public administration. In order to get land allocated at dirt cheap rates or to get licenses and tenders within weeks, you have to be a relative of an MLA or an MP. To bring such prosperity in ones family, people do have to overlook interests of general public.

After independence, the old guard of Congress that ruled India for a decade, was one which lived for politics, they weren't in it for personal interests. Their ideology was defined by the examples of Tilak, Nehru and Gandhi. Austerity was a habit. Pandit Nehru didn't win every general election of his time by rigging elections or by spending more on his election campaign that his rivals. He was successful because of his moral authority. A leader of his stature would still debate with his opposition, accept their better suggestions over his own ideas, listen to his own party's leaders who, though lesser than him, still had their opinions. The famous Kamaraj plan, in which the chief ministers and cabinet ministers of Congress resigned to dispel the lure of power and work for their organization could only have been possible in that era.