Friday, 26 October 2012

Golden Dusshera and the Third Eye

The festive season in India is on in full swing. Goddess Durga is on her 5-day visit to Mother Earth. This festival symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Most parts of India are agog with the puja spirit.

The most well-known festivities and puja pandals are at Kolkata. Next to Kolkata are the celebrations and puja pundals of Cuttack, the erstwhile capital of Odisha. My city Bhubaneswar, the post-independence capital of Odisha, is fast catching up, and perhaps has overtaken Cuttack in this aspect.

The silver city of Cuttack, famous for its silver filigree works, is known for its Durga idols donning gold ornaments against the backdrop of silver tableaux. This year there are 155 puja pandals decorated with gold and silver worth crores of rupees. One puja pandal has a silver backdrop made of 3.5 quintals of this precious metal.

Bhubaneswar, with its 170 puja pandals, does not wish to lag behind in the use of precious metals in Durga Puja. One Puja Committee has used 160 Kgs of silver in tableaux in the background and the Deity in this pandal has a crown of gold weighing 750 grams. The gold crown adorning the deity at one puja mandap at Cuttack weighs a little less than 4 Kgs. More and more mandaps are shifting to crowns made of gold.

Durga Puja at Alam Chand Bazar, Cuttack was started by Netaji Subas Chandra Bose in his younger days. (The ancestral house of Netaji at Cuttack, where he was born is still standing. He had his school and college education at Cuttack. Later, he shifted to Kolkata and joined the freedom movement.)

The former and the present capital cities of Odisha have become twin-cities. Earlier, people of Bhubaneswar used to visit Cuttack to watch the splendour of Durga Puja there. The flow has started in the reverse direction; residents of Cuttack have started visiting Bhubaneswar to see the gorgeous puja pandals in the capital-city..  

However, curiously, none of the pandals has been insured. The Puja Committes feel that insurance cover is not needed as they have taken enough precautions in the form of private security personnel, CCTV cameras and police arrangements.

One additional attraction of Puja celebrations at Bhubaneswar this year has been the 5-day Dandiya Dance Festival in the evenings. Anyone can participate or watch this by purchasing a ticket.

One question which arises in my mind when I visit these pandals is that in almost all cases, the image of Goddess Durga has a third eye. I know that Lord Shiva has a third eye by opening which He burnt down Madan, the god of love, when the latter tried to break Shiva’s meditation, but does Goddess Durga has a third eye?  And in many cases, the image of Lord Ganesh also has a third eye. In all cases, the third eye is positioned vertically (to give the face a better look?), not horizontally like the other two normally positioned eyes. Is this as it should be?

Or, is the concept of the vertically-positioned third eye meant to provide a view from a different dimension or a different angle, not reached by the horizontally-positioned eyes?

By the way, images of Kartikeya, the other son of Lord Shiva, are perhaps not given this third eye.

Talking of the third eye takes to me to another story. A man used to find defects in everything including the creations of God. His  wife derisively said, "You have indeed become a wise man; you can faults in God's creation." Proudly, he said, "If God gives me another eye, I can find more mistakes in His work." Immediately, God appeared, told that his wish would be fulfilled and then He disappeared. A third seemed to appear on his forehead but it remained like a bulge only and did not open. His wife became worried. However, he became calm and said, "Don't worry, it has opened inside and now I can see all my faults and these are numerous.From now onwards, I shall stop finding faults with others." He became really a wise man.

To End With

The West Bengal Government has declared a 10-day holiday from the 20th to the 29th October for its offices for Durga Puja and Kumar Poornima. In the original Notification, the 26th was a working day but it was declared as a holiday just before the Puja. So, the Govt.-machinery has to stop working for continuous 10 days! Add to this the fact that the decision of the newspaper hawkers’ Union not to deliver the papers from the 22nd to the 25th has forced the suspension of publication of newspapers for 4 days.

No news is good news!

Happy Dusshera!       

Friday, 19 October 2012

Management - In Laws And Out Laws

This is a sequel to my earlier post ‘Laws Made Not By Law-Makers

I came by an interesting feature relating to management in The Economic Times of the 9th October. Here is an extract of some interesting parts in it:

I. Hot Air Ride

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced the altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a little more and shouted, ”Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago but I don’t know where I am.”

The woman replied, ”You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be an engineer.” said the balloonist. “I am.” replied the woman. “How do you know?”

“Well” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is, I am lost. Frankly, you have not been of much help at all. If anything, you have delayed my trip.”

The woman responded, “You must be in management.” “I am.” replied the balloonist, “but how do you know?”

“Well”, said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep and you expect people beneath you   to solve your problem. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

II. Mind The Chair

A crow was sitting on a tree doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the crow and asked him, ”Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?” The crow answered, “Sure, why not?” So the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Q: What do we learn from this?
A: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very high up.

III. Rowing Speak

The American and the Japanese corporate offices of a large multinational corporation decided to engage in a competitive boat race. Both teams practised hard and long to reach their peak performance.

On the big day, they felt ready. The Japanese team won by a mile. The American team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. So a consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommend corrective action.

The consultant’s finding: The Japanese team had 8 people rowing and one person steering, the American team had one person rowing and 8 people steering.

After a year of study and millions spent on analyzing the problem, the firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough were rowing on the American team.

So, as the race day neared again the following year, the American team’s management structure was completely reorganised. The new structure: 4 Steering Managers, 3 Area Steering Managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.  

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American office laid off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.


- A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

- Confidence is the feeling you have before you understand the problem.

- Exceptions always outnumber rules.

- If opportunity came disguised as temptation, one knock would be enough.

- Progress is made by lazy men looking for an easier way to do things.

- A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.

What Boss says and what he means:

That is very interesting. – I disagree.

I don’t disagree. – I disagree.

I don’t totally disagree with you. – You may be right, but I don’t care.

You obviously put a lot of work into this. – This is awful.

In a perfect world – Just get it working and get it out of the door.

We have to leverage our resources. – You’re working weekends.

Individual contributor – Employee who does real work

I’d like your buy-in on this. – I want someone else to blame when this thing bombs.

We need to syndicate this decision. – We need to spread blame if it backfires.

We have to put on our marketing hats. – We have to put ethics aside.

I’m glad you asked me that. – Public Relations has written a carefully phrased answer.

I see you involved your peers in developing your proposal. – One person couldn’t possibly come up with something this stupid.

I’ll never lie to you. – The truth will change frequently.

Human resources – A bulk commodity, like lentils or cinder blocks

Funny Business by Glasbergen :

Think globally, act locally, panic internally.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Milkman Of India

Dr. Vergese Kurien, the architect of India's White Revolution who catapulted India to be the largest milk-producer of the world, died on the 9th Sept. 2012 at the age of 90. The Amul (acronym for Anand Milk Union Ltd.) story, started by him at Anand in Gujarat became a catalyst for farmers' co-operative. Born in Kerala, he chose Anand as his karma bhumi.  He is fondly called the 'Milkman of India'.

 The film 'Manthan' made by Shyam Benegal tells the Amul story. This film was funded by 5 lakh farmers of Gujarat, who contributed Rs. 2 each.The lead roles are played by Girish Karnad ,Smita Patil and Nasiruddin Shah. Sadhu Meher, the well-known Bollywood actor from Odisha, makes a special appearance in it.The wife and I had watched this film in 1976 or 1977 when I was posted at the small District Head Quarters town of Etah in U.P. Daughter I  had accompanied us as a baby and had also 'watched' it. I am not sure whether she enjoyed it as much as we did because she laced her viewing with intermittent whimpers .

Here is the film

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Magic From A Piece Of Bamboo

Three years ago, I started attending the get-together of an informal group called ‘Friends of 70’. This group comprises us ‘boys and girls’ who passed out from Utkal University in the year 1970. In my 36 years of service in my bank, I was out of my home-state for 28 years (23 consecutive years preceding retirement). So, although this group was formed soon after most of us had taken up professions and jobs, I could attend its get-togethers only after retirement. When I attended it for the first time, I could recognize only a few of them. So I had to apologize and ask many of them their names. When I asked one such person to tell his name, he hugged me tight and said, “Xxx (my first name), can you not recognize me? I am Mohini, Mohini Mohan Pattanaik.” The name clearly rang a bell in my mind and I said, “Mohini, the chap who used to play the flute?” He gave me a bear-hug once again and said, “Yes.” Soon after, I came to know (from other friends sitting nearby) that he had become a Guru in flute-playing and that he is a big name in Odisha and India in playing this musical instrument!

The other day, I had the opportunity of enjoying a musical programme called ‘Bansir Sandhya’ (An Evening of the Flute) where Mohini and 24 of his disciples presented a heavenly flute concert.

 Here is a sample of his great skill.


In that evening, I learnt that the magic which can be created with a piece of bamboo was discovered when years and years ago, a person heard a sweet melody coming out of a bamboo bush. Intrigued, he probed and found out that bugs had bored holes in a bamboo and when wind was passing through these holes, it was creating this divine note.

A grateful salute to Goddess Nature!!!