Sunday, January 17, 2010

Power of Dreams

Power of Dreams

When we look around us, we find people who are successful, highly successful. They have achieved some feats which are unimaginable for others. Sachin Tendulkar in cricket, Roger federer in tennis, NR Narayan Murthy in business, Shahrukh Khan in movies, Chetan bhagat in writing, Sonu Nigam in music and various other people who have achieved great feats considering their humble background.

What differentiates these people from others, what has made them to be successful while others could not be so successful?

It is their power of dreams and the passion they have for the work they do.

It is this power of dreams which is most important for a person; the freedom to follow what she wants! However, more often than not parent instead of cultivating and nurturing the power of dreams – curb children’s dream by saying it is not possible/not practical/unaffordable etc.

I believe parents instead of stopping children from dreaming should encourage them to dream. At the same time – parents should encourage children to develop qualities which would help them fulfill their dreams. These qualities include hard work, dedication, determination, commitment, sacrifice, team work, creativity, right attitude, willingness to learn among others. These qualities are not being taught by any school, one has to learn these qualities by themselves and what better way to learn these than pursuing what you want.

Even if all the children may not succeed in realizing their dreams, yet the process (of working towards their goal) itself would ensure they grow up to be a balanced and a better individual.

Even though material things like car, house, money gives people happiness, I believe nothing gives you more happiness than accomplishing what you wanted, your dream.

So Go Follow your dreams and remember what our ex-president Dr. Abdul Kalam said

"Dream is not what you see in sleep, dream is the thing which does not let you sleep."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sports - Luxury or necessity

Yesterday, couple of college graduates asked me to fill in a survey. They wanted to know if I would allow my child to follow football as a professional sport or some other sport as a career option or would I force him to cramp up lessons and get high grades – 99% and above so that he can become CA or an Engineer from IIT or an MBA from IIM.

This made me think about what would I do? Would I allow him to pursue sports as a career or not? To me, it was not a simple answer – even though my heart said I will- my mind was saying it would depend – If he is one among the top 5% people in that sport, I may agree, otherwise I think I will force him to study hard.

Why is this? Why would I not allow my children to do what they want? When I look around, I see that living a normal life is very expensive today. One needs to earn at least rupees 40-50K per month. You may think I am exaggerating but just count – Rent -10K, Food – 5K, Clothes & accessories – 5K (to keep up with the peer pressure), Medical expense – 5K, children Education 5K,Retirement savings – 10K, Taxes – 3K and then God only can save you if you have an education and housing loan – add another 30K for this. These expenses are growing at 10% annually.

Any professional sport or hobby has room only for very few professionals; say about 100 in each sport at a maximum. In this scenario, am I wrong when I say that I may not allow my children to follow what they want unless they are excellent at whatever they want to be?

The next question is how would I know as long as I have not given them an opportunity to pursue what they want? Frankly speaking as a common man, I feel that’s a huge risk and I am not ready to take that risk. First, the cost of sending your child to a football, tennis academy or singing class – is a huge amount about 2K per month. Secondly, the probability of success is as low as 5% (since my child has to be among the top 5%), added to this there is a risk of getting low grades in schools, as more time is spent in sports, the whole proposition looks scary.

Considering a scenario like this can somebody blame me for what I think? Just imagine, if this is the scenario for some people like me (an educated MBA earning 6 digit annual income) what would be the situation of a common man like an auto driver, clerk, bus driver or a laborer in a village?

Can I be blamed for this pessimistic thinking? I don’t think so. As long as we don’t change our system and give preference for a balanced learning, as long as we continue hire people based on their grades in 10th, 12th, CA, MBA etc, as long as we have no provision for pension for a sports person, as long as we don’t have an academy where children can come and learn sports free of cost, as long as we exploit people by making them work for peanuts like Rs. 100/- per day etc.., we will have people like me who would consider sports and other hobbies “a luxury”.

We will continue to go and watch movies like Chak De India and see our teams winning only on screen and applaud for that, while our football teams would continue to fail to even qualify for Olympics……

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why not sue the state

Telanga movement is turning out to be an opportunity for all small time politicians who want to showcase their hollow political power in Andhra Pradesh. Every politician wants to call for a bandh and on the day of the bandh all offices, factories, transport, railways will be forcefully shutdown. And several buses will be burnt as if it they belong to their ancestral property.

Nobody seems to be concerned with the kind of reactions these actions have on the business environment in the state. US has already issued a travel advisory against travelling to A.P. Several MNC IT/ITES companies are rethinking on their expansion plans in the state and those who already exist are planning to leave A.P. and go north.

Who will be responsible for the job losses, losses in value of property etc? It seems there is no Government in the state; we hardly see any strong message coming from the CM or the state government. Even the central government seems to be sleeping on this, why Sonia Gandhi and Man Mohan Singh can’t come out and announce the process and the timeliness they will follow to take a decision. In the mean time asking all parties to maintain peace and if parties don’t adhere to maintaining peace they should be prosecuted as per the law of the land.

From a citizen’s point of view, why can’t I file a case against the state for its inability to maintain law and order? Why the government employees and ministers’ be held responsible and punished for their inability to carry out their duties as the custodians of law and order?

Yet, the problem is who has time to do all this. Common man has to go a job which demands accountability and in most of the cases have an appraisal system to measure his performance. Unlike our ministers who neither defined responsibilities nor an appraisal system to judge measure their performance. The best thing is for the parties in opposition they have 5 years to do nothing except to hold bandhs, dharnas and burns buses.

Does somebody has any solution to this or is it the price we are paying for democracy?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Small things to keep us happy

While talking to my niece today, I realized how small things can make one happy. She said her boss appreciated her speech today saying “It was good”. This small appreciation gave her immense happiness. I am also reminded of occasions when my wife was very happy for small thing like ice-cream treat or holding hands and going for a walk.

Yet for me and many others like me, these things are just ok… These things don’t make me happy I am happy only by a promotion; pay hike, clearing some imp exam, give some imp speech excreta.

I wonder why is this so …Why can’t I be happy and contented with small things like my wife or my niece. I don’t have a definite answer to this but I think I give more importance to external happiness while they give more importance to being happy from with-in.

I hope this realization will help me to search for happiness with-in and I thank my wife and my niece for helping me realize this.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Last 3 years have been the toughest 3 years of my life ... studing for MBA while working at a call centre.... .. studying for CFA .. Staying away from family for the first time .. not being there for my parents, wife when they needed me most... Yet i am happy that this hardwork and sacrifice has paid off and today I have achieved my dream of doing an MBA from a prestigious B-school...

I have realised today that hard work always pays and nothing makes me more happier than achieving my dreams and the ability to create a new beginning for myself and my family.

And I am very thankful to 'God' for this day.

New Year - New Beginning

Yes, At last I am also a blogger.

It took me a long time to get started on this journey but I am happy to have boarded the bus at last.

And to begin my blog , I wish to write on topic which is very close to my heart – Education.

Recent movie Three Idiots has shown to the whole world many lacunae of Indian education system. Yet, all of us are missing one important lacuna (i.e) accountability.

We see year after year that pass percentage in 10th, 12th and graduation is below 60%. We also notice that more than 50% of students who join school drop out before they complete their 10th standard yet we never make schools accountable for these things.

In our education system, neither school nor teacher is held responsible for the failure of the pupil. It is always the student or the parents’ who are blamed for the failure. It is always student who is blamed for being lazy, idiot, dumb, useless, etc.. etc..Yet nobody asks him/her as why is s/he is not able to do well in studies. In fact these constant blaming and punishment makes him lose his self confidence, so much so that he starts to believe he is good for nothing and would never be able to do anything worthwhile with his/her life. In due course, he starts hating studies and parents unable to bear the load of huge fee decide to stop his/her further education.

In spite of all the talk of private education bringing in better results, we still see that the percentage of employable graduates remain low at less than 5%

It’s high time that we change this system and start fixing accountability on the school/college for students’ success. This in turn will force them to be start searching for reasons for failure of students. They would be forced to customize their teaching methods to suit the needs of the students. They would also invest in training their teachers and start innovate practice to explain complex subjects like maths and science.

One way to do so this to create a grading system for schools (ex: Grade A. B, C) and fix the maximum fee chargeable based on the grade obtained by the school. In addition these schools should be eligible for grants and aid from government based on the grade.

Another action can be issuing education coupons like ration coupon to children below poverty line and reimbursing these coupons at amount higher than face value based on the grade of the school. For Ex: coupon of Rs. 100 will be reimbursed at Rs.200 by Grade ‘A’ school and Rs. 150 by Grade ‘B’ School.

Third action can be permission for new schools. Only schools which have achieved certain grade should be allowed to open new branches or eligible for Govt. land for opening of new schools.

These points may be criticized saying India already has very low school – student ratio and these measures would de-motivate people who wish to open new schools. However, we need to realize it’s not quantity but quality which matters most.

Today an average Indian family earns about Rs.10000/- a month and spends Rs. 3000-4000 on the education of their children and they have a right to demand for accountability from the schools.

Let's make a new beginning this New Year.