Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vastu junk in the Times of India

Here is another junk article in the Times of India, property times segment, only meant to fill up space as the advertisements have dropped drastically. The Vastu quack talks about Indian being under economic distress as it is surrounded by water on the east, south east and west and southwest. There is another country which has similar geographical boundaries and has enjoyed great economic progress in the past 50 years - USA

Water makes a difference

Water in East, Southeast, South, Southwest and West. India is surrounded by water in five directions. It is one of the largest peninsulas in the world. Out of eight directions five directions are surrounded with water.
As per the principles of Vastushastra water element in North, Northeast and East is considered as the best for prosperity.
In the case of our country, it is
only the East direction which matches with this.
Water element in the rest of the five directions is bad, out of which South, Southwest and West is extremely negative.
Water in the Southeast leads to delay or lot of obstacles in every work. At the same time, water in the Southeast is also responsible for unproductive expenses, malpractices as well as corruption. Increased cost of the projects due to malpractices or corruption is a major obstruction in our progress.
Water in South, Southwest and West hampers the stability of the nation. Repeated aggressions on this nation caused instability and foreigners ruled this country for a long period.
It also leads to financial losses on large scale almost leading to bankruptcy.
If we look at the progress of Indian economy it was always under the pressure of foreign borrowings.

Dr.Raviraj Ahirrao (Ph.D), Pune 020 – 30266435 Website:, Sms: VASTURAVIRAJ at 56767

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Learning From the West/ Why does India suck ??

In a speech to students at a management institute NR Naryaran Murthy delivered a scathing attack on the Indian culture and its supposedly superiority. I've been critical on NRN on a few issues however here I tend to agree with him. All his points are extremely valid given the current context of business and political nexus in India. However I find it hard to believe that Infosys has acquired thousands of acres of land in Bangalore and Hyderbad without any special favors to the powers at hand. These speeches would be more useful if they were directed towards government beaurocrats and ministers as these folks are responsible for more damage to Indian society then anyone else in modern India. It is interesting he brings up the Milan subway example in Mumbai. I've travelled by that sub-way thousands of times and each time the traffic is more horrible then before.
To surmise Indians according to NR Narayana Murthy are
1. Irresponsible towards community
2. Corrupt
3. Tax evaders
4. Cheaters
5. Bribers
6. Apathetic in attitude
7. Arrogant about own intellect
8. Poor listeners
9. Responsibilty dodgers
10. Unaccountable for actions
11. Unprofessional
12. Thin-skinned
13. Feudal thinkers
14. Not independent
15. Dishonor contractual obligations
16. Intellectually dishonest
17. Lack of commitment.
18. Hypocrites
19. Prejudiced
20. Unpunctual

Learning From the West - N R Narayana Murthy

Download pdf file:

Ladies and gentlemen:
It is a pleasure to be here at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was a man of strong values and he epitomized simple
living. He was a freedom fighter and innovative administrator who contributed
to nation building in full measure. It is indeed a matter of pride for me to be
chosen for the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award for Public Administration and
Management Sciences. I thank the jury for this honor.

When I got the invitation to speak here, I decided to speak on an important
topic on which I have pondered for years - the role of Western values in
contemporary Indian society. Coming from a company that is built on strong
values, the topic is close to my heart. Moreover, an organization is
representative of society, and some of the lessons that I have learnt are
applicable in the national context. In fact, values drive progress and define
quality of life in society.

The word community joins two Latin words com ("together" or "with") and unus
("one"). A community, then, is both one and many. It is a unified multitude and
not a mere group of people. As it is said in the Vedas: Man can live individually,
but can survive only collectively. Hence, the challenge is to form a progressive
community by balancing the interests of the individual and that of the society.
To meet this, we need to develop a value system where people accept modest
sacrifices for the common good.

What is a value system? It is the protocol for behavior that enhances the trust,
confidence and commitment of members of the community. It goes beyond the
domain of legality - it is about decent and desirable behavior. Further, it
includes putting the community interests ahead of your own. Thus, our
collective survival and progress is predicated on sound values.

There are two pillars of the cultural value system - loyalty to family and loyalty
to community. One should not be in isolation to the other, because, successful
societies are those which combine both harmoniously. It is in this context that I
will discuss the role of Western values in contemporary Indian society.

Some of you here might say that most of what I am going to discuss are actually
Indian values in old ages, and not Western values. I live in the present, not in
the bygone era. Therefore, I have seen these values practiced primarily in the
West and not in India. Hence, the title of the topic.

I am happy as long as we practice these values - whether we call it Western or
old Indian values. As an Indian, I am proud to be part of a culture, which has
deep-rooted family values. We have tremendous loyalty to the family. For
instance, parents make enormous sacrifices for their children. They support
them until they can stand on their own feet. On the other side, children
consider it their duty to take care of aged parents.
We believe: Mathru devo bhava - mother is God, and pithru devo bhava - father
is God. Further, brothers and sisters sacrifice for each other. In fact, the eldest
brother or sister is respected by all the other siblings. As for marriage, it is held
to be a sacred union - husband and wife are bonded, most often, for life. In joint
families, the entire family works towards the welfare of the family. There is so
much love and affection in our family life.

This is the essence of Indian values and one of our key strengths. Our families
act as a critical support mechanism for us. In fact, the credit to the success of
Infosys goes, as much to the founders as to their families, for supporting them
through the tough times. Unfortunately, our attitude towards family life is not
reflected in our attitude towards community behavior. From littering the streets
to corruption to breaking of contractual obligations, we are apathetic to the
common good. In the West - the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand -
individuals understand that they have to be responsible towards their

The primary difference between the West and us is that, there, people have a
much better societal orientation. They care more for the society than we do.
Further, they generally sacrifice more for the society than us. Quality of life is
enhanced because of this. This is where we need to learn from the West.
I will talk about some of the lessons that we, Indians, can learn from the West.
In the West, there is respect for the public good. For instance, parks free of
litter, clean streets, public toilets free of graffiti - all these are instances of care
for the public good. On the contrary, in India, we keep our houses clean and
water our gardens everyday - but, when we go to a park, we do not think twice
before littering the place.

Corruption, as we see in India, is another example of putting the interest of
oneself, and at best that of one's family, above that of the society. Society is
relatively corruption free in the West. For instance, it is very difficult to bribe a
police officer into avoiding a speeding ticket.

This is because of the individual's responsible behavior towards the community
as a whole On the contrary, in India, corruption, tax evasion, cheating and
bribery have eaten into our vitals. For instance, contractors bribe officials, and
construct low-quality roads and bridges. The result is that society loses in the
form of substandard defence equipment and infrastructure, and low-quality
recruitment, just to name a few impediments. Unfortunately, this behavior is
condoned by almost everyone.

Apathy in solving community matters has held us back from making progress,
which is otherwise within our reach. We see serious problems around us but do
not try to solve them. We behave as if the problems do not exist or is somebody
else's. On the other hand, in the West, people solve societal problems
proactively. There are several examples of our apathetic attitude. For instance,
all of us are aware of the problem of drought in India.
More than 40 years ago, Dr. K. L. Rao - an irrigation expert, suggested creation
of a water grid connecting all the rivers in North and South India, to solve this
problem. Unfortunately, nothing has been done about this. The story of power
shortage in Bangalore is another instance. In 1983, it was decided to build a
thermal power plant to meet Bangalore's power requirements. Unfortunately,
we have still not started it. Further, the Milan subway in Bombay is in a
deplorable state for the last 40 years, and no action has been taken.
To quote another example, considering the constant travel required in the
software industry; five years ago, I had suggested a 240-page passport. This
would eliminate frequent visits to the passport office. In fact, we are ready to
pay for it. However, I am yet to hear from the Ministry of External Affairs on

We, Indians, would do well to remember Thomas Hunter's words: Idleness
travels very slowly, and poverty soon overtakes it. What could be the reason for
all this? We were ruled by foreigners for over thousand years. Thus, we have
always believed that public issues belonged to some foreign ruler and that we
have no role in solving them.

Moreover, we have lost the will to proactively solve our own problems. Thus, we
have got used to just executing someone else's orders. Borrowing Aristotle's
words: We are what we repeatedly do. Thus, having done this over the years,
the decision-makers in our society are not trained for solving problems. Our
decision-makers look to somebody else to take decisions. Unfortunately, there
is nobody to look up to, and this is the tragedy.

Our intellectual arrogance has also not helped our society. I have traveled
extensively, and in my experience, have not come across another society where
people are as contemptuous of better societies as we are, with as little progress
as we have achieved. Remember that arrogance breeds hypocrisy. No other
society gloats so much about the past as we do, with as little current

Friends, this is not a new phenomenon, but at least a thousand years old. For
instance, Al Barouni, the famous Arabic logician and traveler of the 10th
century, who spent about 30 years in India from 997 AD to around 1027 AD,
referred to this trait of Indians. According to him, during his visit, most Indian
pundits considered it below their dignity even to hold arguments with him. In
fact, on a few occasions when a pundit was willing to listen to him, and found
his arguments to be very sound, he invariably asked Barouni: which Indian
pundit taught these smart things!

The most important attribute of a progressive society is respect for others who
have accomplished more than they themselves have, and learn from them.
Contrary to this, our leaders make us believe that other societies do not know
anything! At the same time, everyday, in the newspapers, you will find
numerous claims from our leaders that ours is the greatest nation. These
people would do well to remember Thomas Carlyle's words: The greatest of
faults is to be conscious of none.

If we have to progress, we have to change this attitude, listen to people who
have performed better than us, learn from them and perform better than them.
Infosys is a good example of such an attitude. We continue to rationalize our
failures. No other society has mastered this part as well as we have. Obviously,
this is an excuse to justify our incompetence, corruption, and apathy. This
attitude has to change. As Sir Josiah Stamp has said: It is easy to dodge our
responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our

Another interesting attribute, which we Indians can learn from the West, is
their accountability. Irrespective of your position, in the West, you are held
accountable for what you do. However, in India, the more 'important' you are,
the less answerable you are. For instance, a senior politician once declared that
he 'forgot' to file his tax returns for 10 consecutive years - and he got away with
it. To quote another instance, there are over 100 loss making public sector
units (central) in India. Nevertheless, I have not seen action taken for bad
performance against top managers in these organizations.

Dignity of labor is an integral part of the Western value system. In the West,
each person is proud about his or her labor that raises honest sweat. On the
other hand, in India, we tend to overlook the significance of those who are not
in professional jobs. We have a mind set that reveres only supposedly
intellectual work.
For instance, I have seen many engineers, fresh from college, who only want to
do cutting-edge work and not work that is of relevance to business and the
country. However, be it an organization or society, there are different people
performing different roles. For success, all these people are required to
discharge their duties. This includes everyone from the CEO to the person who
serves tea - every role is important. Hence, we need a mind set that reveres
everyone who puts in honest work.

Indians become intimate even without being friendly. They ask favors of
strangers without any hesitation. For instance, the other day, while I was
traveling from Bangalore to Mantralaya, I met a fellow traveler on the train.
Hardly 5 minutes into the conversation he requested me to speak to his MD
about removing him from the bottom 10% list in his company, earmarked for
disciplinary action. I was reminded of what Rudyard Kipling once said: A
westerner can be friendly without being intimate while an easterner tends to be
intimate without being friendly.

Yet another lesson to be learnt from the West is about their professionalism in
dealings. The common good being more important than personal equations,
people do not let personal relations interfere with their professional dealings.
For instance, they don't hesitate to chastise a colleague, even if he is a personal
friend, for incompetent work.

In India, I have seen that we tend to view even work interactions from a
personal perspective. Further, we are the most 'thin-skinned' society in the
world - we see insults where none is meant. This may be because we were not
free for most of the last thousand years. Further, we seem to extend this lack of
professionalism to our sense of punctuality. We do not seem to respect the
other person's time.

The Indian Standard Time somehow seems to be always running late. Moreover,
deadlines are typically not met. How many public projects are completed on
time? The disheartening aspect is that we have accepted this as the norm
rather than the exception. In the West, they show professionalism by embracing
meritocracy. Meritocracy by definition means that we cannot let personal
prejudices affect our evaluation of an individual's performance. As we
increasingly start to benchmark ourselves with global standards, we have to
embrace meritocracy.

In the West, right from a very young age, parents teach their children to be
independent in thinking. Thus, they grow up to be strong, confident
individuals. In India, we still suffer from feudal thinking. I have seen people,
who are otherwise bright, refusing to show independence and preferring to be
told what to do by their boss. We need to overcome this attitude if we have to
succeed globally.

The Western value system teaches respect to contractual obligation. In the
West, contractual obligations are seldom dishonored. This is important -
enforceability of legal rights and contracts is the most important factor in the
enhancement of credibility of our people and nation.

In India, we consider our marriage vows as sacred. We are willing to sacrifice in
order to respect our marriage vows. However, we do not extend this to the
public domain. For instance, India had an unfavorable contract with Enron.
Instead of punishing the people responsible for negotiating this, we reneged on
the contract - this was much before we came to know about the illegal activities
at Enron.

To quote another instance, I had given recommendations to several students for
the national scholarship for higher studies in US universities. Most of them did
not return to India even though contractually they were obliged to spend five
years after their degree in India.

In fact, according to a professor at a reputed US university, the maximum
default rate for student loans is among Indians - all of these students pass out
in flying colors and land lucrative jobs, yet they refuse to pay back their loans.
Thus, their action has made it difficult for the students after them, from India,
to obtain loans. We have to change this attitude.

Further, we Indians do not display intellectual honesty. For example, our
political leaders use mobile phones to tell journalists on the other side that they
do not believe in technology! If we want our youngsters to progress, such
hypocrisy must be stopped. We are all aware of our rights as citizens.
Nevertheless, we often fail to acknowledge the duty that accompanies every
right. To borrow Dwight Eisenhower's words: People that value its privileges
above its principles soon loses both. Our duty is towards the community as a
whole, as much as it is towards our families.

We have to remember that fundamental social problems grow out of a lack of
commitment to the common good. To quote Henry Beecher: Culture is that
which helps us to work for the betterment of all. Hence, friends, I do believe
that we can make our society even better by assimilating these Western values
into our own culture - we will be stronger for it.

Most of our behavior comes from greed, lack of self-confidence, lack of
confidence in the nation, and lack of respect for the society. To borrow Gandhi's
words: There is enough in this world for everyone's need, but not enough for
everyone's greed. Let us work towards a society where we would do unto others
what we would have others do unto us. Let us all be responsible citizens who
make our country a great place to live. In the words of Churchill: Responsibility
is the price of greatness. We have to extend our family values beyond the
boundaries of our home.

Finally, let us work towards maximum welfare of the maximum people -
Samasta janaanaam sukhino bhavantu. Thus, let us - people of this generation,
conduct ourselves as great citizens rather than just good people so that we can
serve as good examples for our younger generation.
Speaker : N R Narayana Murthy

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Editors Guild plans to check paid news

One of my pet peeves is finally getting noticed by the media. The Times of India Property Times supplement is a prime example of planted 'paid' news stories. Lets see if this Editors guild directives makes any difference. Indian Express reports

The Editors Guild of India, an industry body representing senior media editors across the country, has declared the issue of “paid news” as its focal agenda for 2010. Expressing shock and serious concern over the news reports on the increasing menace of “paid news” in media, the guild, in its annual general meeting held Tuesday in Delhi, announced the setting up of an “ethics committee” that will draft a code of conduct on the issue.

“To begin with we will send out letters to editors across the country to mobilise consent on the steps to be taken to check this menace,” said Rajdeep Sardesai, president of the guild and editor-in-chief of IBN Network. The code of conduct will list the do’s and don’ts on the issue, said Sardesai.

The ethics committee that will draft the code will be headed by T N Ninan, editor of financial daily Business Standard. The other members of the committee include noted columnist B G Varghese, Sumit Chakravarty, editor of Mainstream, and Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi.