Saturday, June 2, 2007

TV and dating

I cringe every time someone refers to TV advertising as a ‘mass medium.’ It makes it sound so sterile and impersonal that it is not surprising that so much of the advertising out there comes across as cold and impersonal, like a memo to the consumer explaining what benefits the brand offers instead of actually striving to make a lasting connection with the consumer. I like to think of it differently. To me, there is nothing ‘mass’ about TV advertising – every time a consumer sees your ad, it is a one-on-one interaction, and a chance for you to make a lasting connections. To help you see what kind of thinking may lead you to do, let us change the context to one that is all about making a one-on-one connection: dating…

(P. 55, ‘Brand Management 101: 101 Lessons From Real-World Marketing’ by Mainak Dhar, from Wiley

Cities - the objects of our love and hate

Cities are the greatest of human inventions. They embody our histories and manifest our technological innovations, cultural and social interactions, economic structures, political systems, and our respect for (or fear of) deities. Cities contain our imagined communities, our socially constructed identities, and the spaces that shape our daily activities. We equate cities with progress, and in many cases cities elevate their citizens to higher social status than that afforded to their rural counterparts…. Cities have been the objects of our desire, our love, and our hate.

(P. 1, ‘City and Environment’ by Christopher G. Boone and Ali Modarres, from Pearson


Many organisations do not invest in superordination – repeated articulation, reminding, and assertion of the overall goals, mission, and common interests of the organisation.

Where superordination is neglected over a period of time, members of efficient departments tend to get strongly hooked on (as contrasted to meaningfully committed) to their departmental sub-goals, as determined by their departmental managements.

They also, usually, become skilled in the unique technologies relevant to their respective departments. In that mode, they become increasingly competitive to make their units successful in comparison to other units or departments within the organisation. Where this competition becomes unhealthy, dysfunctional conflict develops.

It usually appears much in the following ways:

* Members of different departments resist each other’s ideas, suggestions, or requests.

* Department A, facing such resistance, investigates to find out what the (adversary) resisting department B is doing, or not doing…

* Each department develops inroads into the other to make allies with its disgruntled members who, it feels, might be of help in this conflict and competiton…

(P. 452, ‘The Orderly Workplace: An Exploration into Holistically Disciplined Worklife’ by Prem Chadha, from Macmillan

If you don't know debit from credit...

Bookkeeping had not changed in nearly 500 years; the Italian priest Pacioli had first described the double-entry bookkeeping system in 1494. Double-entry bookkeeping used complicated layers of records: transactions, then ledgers, and then trial balances. Contemporary software companies in the early 1990s based their programs on this complex accounting scheme – using debits, credits, double ledgers, posts, and closes. But Sam Klepper’s first study suggested this rigid and nonintuitive approach frustrated business owners.

To confirm his initial research, Klepper commissioned a national survey to determine exactly how much time and money small businesses spent on accounting. Klepper examined business owners’ complaints about accounting and searched in particular for bookkeeping tasks that were costly and frustrating, as these would be the areas most appealing to customers seeking help. Invoicing and payroll met those two criteria.

The national survey results validated Klepper’s initial findings. The research showed that most businesses were tiny: 85 per cent of the ones surveyed had fewer than 20 employees, and 98 per cent fewer than one hundred. These small businesses had no room on their payrolls for a trained accountant. Instead, the owner, the owner’s spouse, or an office manager kept the books. This person had never taken accounting in school, didn’t know a debit from a credit, and didn’t want to learn…

(P. 111, ‘Inside Intuit’ by Suzanne Taylor and Kathy Schroeder, from Harvard Business School Press

Meet Dhanraj Pillay

The 1990 World Cup selection was an important moment for Dhanraj though he didn’t get much of a chance to showcase his developing skills. Another trait of his – not to take any nonsense from anyone was coming to the fore. During the Auckland 1991 Olympic qualifiers, Dhanraj had an argument with Jagbir and the team coach Balkishen Singh. Jagbir was not fully fit as he had an ankle injury. But Balkishen was insistent on playing Jagbir. Dhanraj questioned the decision of playing a player who was injured while he sat on the bench despite being fully fit. In the coming years, this trait of calling a spade a spade would win admirers while earning the wrath of many coaches and selectors.

(P. 6, ‘Forgive Me Amma: The Life and Times of Dhanraj Pillay’ by Sundeep Misra, from Wisdom Tree

Friday, June 1, 2007

Learning vs training

Learning is almost the opposite of training. It is not a ‘business,’ yet it is everyone’s business. Though it makes no one any money, it allows people in an organisation to draw nearer to objectives. It happens entirely in the learner’s head, and requires no technology whatsoever. It is by its very nature unmeasurable and undefinable. Learning is an end in itself, not a means to an end…

One pushes (‘Now hear this!’); the other pulls (‘What do you think?’)… Training wants to cover the greatest amount of ground in the shortest time, with the fewest interruptions and the highest degree of learner homogeneity. It wants above all to be finished and get paid. Learning, by contrast, knows no clock, respects no formal structure, and occurs in as many ways and at as many places as there are learners.

A lot of lip service has been paid to ‘the learning organisation,’ a phrase coined by Peter Senge in ‘The Fifth Discipline’. In the Senge view, the long-term goal of any organisation is not making and selling more and more widgets, but managing the knowledge process that allows the company to continuously discover better ways to meet the needs of its widget customers….

Successful training does more than pour information in people’s ears. At its best it engages the learner’s imagination, triggering a positive change in behaviour that pulls toward greater organisational success. When training does this it crosses the boundary to learning.

(Pp. 89-91, ‘The Accidental Leader’ by Harvey Robbins and Michael Finley, from Wiley India

Politics and business

Politicians in developing countries are unwilling to believe that good management practices can make a difference to the economies of the countries. Two major privatisation projects in Sri Lank illustrate this. The bus transport services of the large Ceylon Transport Board were privatised and numerous small private companies and persons with no experience of management took over this fractured business. The result has been a chaotic transport network. In the other case, the nationalised plantation sector, that had declined over two decades because of state mismanagement, improved dramatically when it was taken over by a number of reputed business firms that had long experience in the business. As a result, tea production and exports have grown substantially.

(P. 207 ‘Adventures in Management: A Sage of Managing in a Developing Country’ by Kenneth Abeywickrama, from Response

History of broadband

Historically, the term broadband was used to distinguish multifrequency communications systems from baseband systems. Not long ago, telecommunications companies could offer only a limited range of highly reliable, lower-bandwidth services over their widely installed conventional copper twisted-pair telephone wire. Other options for delivering scalable, cost-effective high bandwidth services via existing wireless and physical media were also limited. Over time, as newer technologies developed, the term broadband has become synonymous with higher bandwidth services…

Today’s broadband

With well over 100 million lines provisioned worldwide, DSL (digital subscriber line) is truly a global and well-recognised technology. DSL deployment is even a political issue in many countries. Some governments track the overall number of DSL subscribers and subsidise large infrastructure deployments to attract businesses and development. This is much like bridges, electricity, and roads are subsidised to stimulate economic growth. DSL represents more than 63 per cent of global broadband connectivity…

(P. 1, p. 30 ‘Broadband Network Architectures’ by Chris Hellberg, Dylan Greene, and Truman Boyes, from Prentice Hall

Was VDIS a success?

When we announced the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) in 1997, we were faced with a peculiar problem. Tax evasion, especially of income tax, had become so commonplace that anyone who paid his taxes in full was considered a fool There were many respected lawyers and doctors (who would consider it wrong to violate even a traffic rule) who took the bulk of their fees in cash and did not think it was wrong not to disclose their total income. An income tax raid on a person’s business or house was considered as a temporary intrusion into the normal way of life, and sometimes even as a badge of honour (‘There was a raid, but they found nothing’)…

Through VDIS, we offered the tax evader a one-time opportunity to turn honest, regularise the past, bring all his assets into his balance sheet and, thereafter, pay taxes at the new moderate rates. VDIS collected over Rs 10,000 crore to the treasury and it was proclaimed a great success. But I have often asked myself, how many tax evaders really and truly returned to the path of tax compliance? How many did not revert to the old ways of tax evasion in subsequent years? I do not know, because I left the government shortly thereafter.

(Pp. 114-115, ‘A View from the Outside: Why Good Economics Works for Everyone’ by P. Chidambaram, from Penguin Portfolio

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cost considerations of machine tools

It is necessary to meticulously consider the economic aspects of various machine tools available for production, to check for their suitability. Recovery of capital investment usually takes 5 to 10 years. Hence, there is no point in buying a new machine tool, if the production cost or time per workpiece will not decrease substantially…

Material cost depends upon the size of the workpiece and condition of the raw material. This will be same for existing and new machine tools, unless there is a change in the production process…

Labour cost or operator wages is higher for general purpose machines, which call for more skilful operators. Special purpose machines, with a higher degree of automation, can do with an unskilled operator, who only has to load and unload workpiece, and press start/stop buttons.

Overheads comprise all indirect costs such as money spent on the maintenance department, tool room (for resharpening tools), clerical staff, methods engineers, managers, even sales personnel and advertising. Overheads are usually expressed in overall percentage which ranges from 50 per cent for small workshops, to 500 per cent for large establishments with modern amenities and a better qualified workforce.

(pp.3-4, ‘Machine Tools Handbook: Design and Operation’ by P.H. Joshi from McGraw-Hill

'Lick' laid the intellectual foundation of Internet

Pages could be filled by listing all the people who have made significant contributions to the origin and evolution of the modern Internet. But one person laid the intellectual foundation: J.C.R. Licklider, a remarkably modest man who insisted on being called ‘Lick’ rather than ‘Dr. Licklider’ and who was comfortable letting others take credit for his ideas. Licklider had both a wide-ranging curiosity and (according to him) a short attention span. Combined with a gift for problem solving, these characteristics made him a generalist with deep insights into a number of fields. The fact that he was a psychologist, not an engineer, explains why his early ideas about computing and networking centred more on their cultural role than on technology.

(p. 1, ‘OSPF and IS-IS’ by Jeff Doyle from Addison Wesley

Stumblers, scanners and sniffers

The terminology related to wireless tools can be a bit overwhelming. Generally speaking, most tools that implement active scanning are called ‘stumblers’, whereas tools that implement passive scanning are called ‘scanners’. However, a stumbler is generally considered to be a ‘scanning tool’ (even if not technically a scanner). ‘Sniffers’ are network monitoring tools that are not specifically related to wireless networking. A sniffer is simply a tool that shows you all the packets the interface sees. A sniffer is an application program. If a wireless driver or card doesn’t give the packet to the sniffer to process, the sniffer can’t do anything about it.

(p. 95, ‘Hacking Exposed Wireless’ by Johnny Cache and Vincent Liu from Tata McGraw-Hill

Options and procedures

Option-oriented managers are motivated by the possibility of doing things in a different way. They are the ones who develop procedures for performing a task and then move on to develop some other procedures for the same task. Procedures are for others. Exploring new ideas and possibilities is of great interest to them. They prefer to have options and alternatives in any situation or activity. They do not like lmiting themselves to the one right way. Their language will be full of words like 'can', 'options', 'opportunities' and so on. They concentrate on what has to be done, and want to get to work on the task at hand, doing what needs to be done. Managers of this kind will want lots of freedom, flexi-time and options.

Procedure-oriented managers like to follow set rules and processes. Once they understand a procedure they will repeat it over and over again... Thy are more concerned about the how of doing something than the why. The procedure-oriented person looks at a task as a sequential series of actions... For them, there is only one correct way of doing things. Their language is full of 'must' and 'should'... Procedural employees will have to be given instructions, and procedures should be well-tested and foolproof.

(p. 124, 'EQ and Leadership' by P.T. Joseph SJ from Tata McGraw-Hill

Friday, May 18, 2007

Caste system among Sikhs

Although not themselves Hindus, Sikhs are a historical offshoot of Hindu civilisation, who, since their parturition from the parent faith, have enjoyed a symbiotic coexistence with both Hindus and Muslims in the multiplex cultural environment of northwestern India. The Sikh religion and the socio-cultural milieu in which it evolved was founded upon doctrinal divergences both from orthodox Hinduism and fundamentalist Islam. It rejected many of the formalisms of the caste system and embraced principles of social egalitarianism derived both from Islam and Bhakti; it rejected orthodox Hindu polytheism and adopted a form of denominational monotheism based upon the authority of a succession of gurus. Its emphasis was, in Madan's words, "anti-ritualistic, anti-idolatrous, and social egalitarian" (1997:80).

(pp. 82-83, 'Sikhs, Swamis, Students, and Spies' by Harold A. Gould, from Sage

The rise of BSP in UP

BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) has checked the dominance of the upper castes effectively in a number of ways. At the outset, the BSP did this by establishing a political party led and dominated by Dalits and other marginalised castes and communities. The BSP established iteself by sensitising and weaning away the Dalits first from teh Congress in the 1980s and then from the BJP in the 1990s...

The BSP adopted a policy of democratic political representation of different communities to check the monopoly and political hegemony of the upper castes. Indeed, the BSP had long back floated a slogan that stressed teh representative aspect of democracy. The slogan was 'Jiski Jitni Sankhya Bhari, Uski Utni Bhagedari' (each according to its numerical strength). Significantly, the party did not keep this slogan only a slogan, but tried to implement it both in letter and spirit.

(pp. 248-249, 'Political Process in Uttar Pradesh' edited by Sudha Pai, from Pearson

How to meditate?

Question: Is it all right to meditate in the space between the eyebrows?

Answer: When the heart centre is there why not go directly to it instead of going through other centres. To go to Tiruvannamalai from Madras why should one go to Benaras first and come down all the way? Why not come straight?

(p.59, 'Spiritual Heart: Bhagavan Ramana Answers' by A.R. Natarajan, from Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning)

Inequities towards the mentally impaired

All modern societies have had gross inequities in their treatment of children with unusual mental impairments. Often such children do not get the medical care and the therapy they need. (... For example, muscle therapy for children with Down syndrome can make it possible for these children to negotiate their world in a way that promotes active learning). More, even, than people with many physical impairments, children with mental impairments have been shunned and stigmatised. Many of them have been relegated to institutions that make no effort to develop their potential. And they are persistently treated as if they have no right to occupy public space. In the congressional hearings prior to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), many examples of this shunning were cited. One case concerned children with Down syndrome who were denied admission to a zoo so as not to upset the chimpanzee.

(pp. 199-200, 'Frontiers of Justice' by Martha C. Nussbaum, from Oxford

Destruction of indigenous habitat!

85 per cent of all known plant species are situated in areas that are the traditional homelands of indigenous people. In addition, tropical rain forests, which account for only 7 per cent of the earth's land surface and provide the habitat for 50 million indigenous people, are thought to contain over half of the species in the entire world biota. The system of land use and resource management that has been developed down the centuries encompass nomadic pastoralism, including animal husbandry, shifting cultivation, agroforestry, hunting, herding and fishing. In addition, the indigenous knowledge of plants, soils, animals, plants and climate is used to achieve a balanced ecosystem.

... Much of the world's biological richness is found in those areas of the globe that form the traditional homelands of the indigenous people. There is a direct correlation between the rate of diversity loss in terms of ecosystems, species and genes and the destruction of the habitat of the indigenous people.

(p. 160, 'Biotechnology, IPRs and Biodiversity' by M.B. Rao and Manjula Guru, from Pearson

From Ashavad to Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad began as Ashavad, which thrived as a Hindu town around the 10th century but by the 15th century, it was transformed into a well developed Islamic city. Within the folds of the eight kilometre fort wall, it housed the citadel, the Friday mosque, royal tombs and city gates aligned along an axis, which redefined Ashavad as Ahmedabad. Yet its residential precincts known as 'pols' with their interactive street fronts and varied thresholds were notional and sustained different ethnic sub-groups within its overall medieval fabric.

(p. 53, 'In Conversation: On contours of contemporary Indian architecture' by Balkrishna Doshi and Sen Kapadia, from Macmillan

Finding solution

It is exciting to serarch the world for ideas and 'best practices' and to compare them with each other. However, the most useful idea may not be the one that is 'objectively' the best amongst them but the one which best fits the specific needs of the situation. Therefore, an analysis of the situation and the problem within it that neds a solution must preced the search for good ideas and the right solution.

(p. 176, Discordant Democrats by Arun Maira from Penguin

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Terminology differences

There are several inherent problems associated with process mapping:

* Terminology differences: Perhaps the most common problem between different standards or process models is one of communication - the actual terminology is different. For example, consider the different words that may be employed to indicate the activities within a process - words such as: 'task', 'step', 'practice', 'action'. Although these semm like minor differences, what about the situation where the same word is used, such as 'process', but with different definitions in each process. It is essential, therefore, that these differences in language can be identified and clarified.

(p. 94, A Pragmatic Guide to Business Process Modelling by Jon Holt from Viva

Four countries involved!

Consider the case of an ISP based in the US, with a European office in London. One of its customers is an Italian, resident in Italy, who posts on his website, which is hosted by the ISP, an allegation about a French politician. The French politician complains but the ISP does nothing to remove the allegation. If the French politician wishes to take action, he can, in theory, take action in any of the four countries involved - England, France, Italy or the US. His best hope of winning a court action may well be in France but there is little point in bringing an action in France unless the ISP has some sort of legal presence there. The same applies to Italy, a country where, in any case, the law is not renowned for bringing cases to a rapid conclusion. The politician will probably opt for action in England, on the grounds that, in such cases, English law is much more sympathetic to the person claiming to be wronged than is American law. It may still be necessary to persuade the English court that this is a matter that it can properly consider.

One concrete example is that a court in New Zealand recently ruled that an organisation based in New Zealand could take action in a New Zealand court against an Australian newspaper that, it was claimed, had published defamatory statements about it on its website in Australia.

(p. 197, Professional Issues in Information Technology by Frank Bott from Viva

Why verify

Verification is important to assure that parties (to global environmental cooperation) are living up to their obligations. Most regimes include verification measures that collect information about parties' compliance. Nations are more likely to comply with their international obligations if infractions are promptly and accurately reported. Treaties vary widely in terms of who collects this information and how frequently. Since self-reporting can run the risk of nations misrepresenting their records, impartial third parties can sometimes be used. For instance, after the Cold War ended it was discovered that the Soviets had been routinely lying about their whale catches and the amount of radioactive wastes they were dumping in the ocean. In practice most treaties rely on a complicated mix of verification arrangements.

(p. 130, Global Environmental Governance by James Gustav Speth and Peter M. Haas, Pearson Longman

Understanding Russia

Padma Desai: The president is authoritarian, the bureaucrats dominate the ministries as well as the regional and local administrations, and the oligarchs control Russia's dominant industrial sector. How can genuine market reforms proceed from this straitjacket?

Grigory Yavlinsky: There is no way. However, I want to share with you my views about the kind of system we have created in Russia. With Yelstin's election in 1996, we began moving toward a system that I variously call corporatist and criminal, a managed democracy, or a quasi democracy. One may also call it a Potemkin-village democracy. Yet it is different from the arrangements that prevailed under Soviet times. The Soviet system was totalitarian in that it destroyed democratic and civic institutions as they appeared. The prevailing managed democracy is not destroying these institutions, but the major institutions are being controlled to serve the needs of the executive authority. Thus the private TV networks have been abolished; the elections are being maniupulated; and the judiciary is subservient to the Kremlin's political authority. The lack of freedom of these cornerstones of a liberal political system is the chief attribute of the current managed democracy.

(p. 196, Conversations on Russia: Reform from Yelstin to Putin by Padma Desai, Oxford

Nice Russia reader!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Myths and Facts about SHW (sexual harassment at work)

First, a definition of sexual harassment from the verdict of the apex court in Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan, August 1997

Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour as: physical contact, a demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature, for example leering, telling dirty jokes, making sexual remarks about a person's body, etc.

Myth 1: Women enjoy eve-teasing/sexual harassment.
Fact: Eve-teasing/sexual harassment is humiliating, intimidating, painful and frightening.

Myth 2: Eve-teasing is harmless flirtation. Women who object have no sense of humour.
Fact: Behaviour that is unwelcome cannot be considered harmless or funny. Sexual harassment is defined by its impact on the woman rather than the intent of the perpetrator.

Myth 3: Women ask for SHW. Only women who are provocatively dressed are sexually harassed.
Fact: This is the classic way of shifting blame from the harasser to the victim. Women have the right to act, dress and move around freely without the threat of attack or harassment. The most popular slogan of the women's right movement of the past three decades has been: However we dress, wherever we go, 'Yes' means 'Yes' and 'No' means 'No'.

Myth 4: Women who say 'No' actually mean 'Yes'.
Fact: This is a common myth used by men to justify sexual aggression and one-sided sexual advances.

Myth 5: Sexual harassment is not really an issue. It doesn't hurt anyone.
Fact: Persons subjected to sexual harassment experience a wide range of physical and psychological ailments. There are economic consequences for the victim's physical and mental well-being, and the organisation's productivity, efficiency and work ethic.


(pp. 112-113 Urban Women in Contemporary India: A Reader edited by Rehana Ghadially, Sage

Representation is more respectable than reservation

The expansion of people's capabilities is to be done in the area of education, health and income. They are now expressed as components of Human Development Index...

Liberal capitalism is inseparable from democratic institutions where freedom to choose is guaranteed. It is brought out clearly that under the conditions of democratic capitalism, achievement of social justice as 'fairness' is theoretically possible....

The market, in theory, does not recognise the social background of the person who produces it. It is also necessary to see that these groups or communities are represented both in production and distribution in order to expand the base of the market and to enhance the capabilities of individuals. This is made possible by drawing people into the system and by providing representation to each of the groups in various institutions....

To make democratic capitalism function efficiently, all the groups need to be represented proportionally in the organisations whether they are public or private, education or employment, parliamentary seats or panchayat berths and so on...

(pp. 179-180, Caste-based Reservations and Human Development in India, by K.S. Chalam Sage


"The beauty of your system is that one out of 5000 dabawalas makes a mistake only once every two months, i.e. one error in every 16 million deliveries (including the return journey) that involve no documentation. This makes it one of its kind supply chain in the world. Your 'critical-to-quality' process capability in delivery of dabas is outstanding, because you are harnessing only human competencies in your chain of operations. Quality and durablity go together. What is durable in your business?"

"The need for homemade lunch."

Message: "Search for what is durable in times of major change; it provides the wildest of business opportunities."

(p.28-29, Dabawalas by Shrinivas Pandit, Tata McGraw-Hill

Thou shalt not worry about things ye cannot control

As far as Abel was concerned, even when things seemed to be going perfectly all right disaster lurked on the fringes, just waiting to leap out and get at him the minute he lowered his guard. I remember once when we all pulled up into the office car park in the company minibus that used to ferry us, Abel came rushing out, "Thank God you guys have reached safely. I was so worried."
"Abel, why don't you stop fretting and relax a bit. Why don't you let Francis of Assisi guide you?"

"Francis of Assisi? Never heard of him..."

"I didn't think you had Abel. He wrote what we call the serenity prayer - Dear God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

Abel pondered over this for a moment.

"Yeah," he replied, "but Francis of Assisi didn't have to worry about sharing the roads with these call-centre cabs... or the Corporation bus drivers. Have you seen how devastating..."

"Oh, all right, Abel... relax, will you...?"

"You're right," replied Abel, looking not in the least reassured. "I will... I will relax... soon as the last three vehicles have come in." Then he wandered off in a most desolate fashion, mumbling darkly to himself all the while.

The result of Abel's worrying nature was that he was decidedly the busiest and most troubled guy I have ever come across...

But the day I really got worried about him was when I was passing by his cabin and saw his screeensaver. This is what the slowly revolving words said --

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes


(p. 131-2, M.O.D.E.L. The reutrn of the employee by Mukul Deva, Response

Comment: Are you Abel?

Ethical leaders

Sound ethical leadership is rooted in respect, service, justice, honesty, and community. It is the duty of leaders to treat others with respect - to listen to them closely and be tolerant of opposing points of view. Ethical leaders serve others by being altruistic, placing others' welfare ahead of their own in an effort to contribute to the common good. Justice requires that leaders place fairness at the centre of their decision-making, including the challenging task of being fair to the individual while simultaneously being fair to the common interests of the community. Good leaders are honest. They do not lie, nor do they present truth to others in ways that are destructive or counterproductive. Finally, ethical leaders are committed to building community, which includes searching for goals that are compatible with the goals of followers and the society as a whole.

(p. 368, Leadership: Theory and Practice, Fourth Edition, by Peter G. Northouse, Sage

Comment: Seen them?

Thoughts on Good Friday

"Oppose those who oppose me, Lord, and fight those who fight against me!
Take your shield and armour and come to my rescue...

May those who plot against me be turned back and confused!
May they be like straw blown by the wind...

Without any reason they laid a trap for me and dug a deep hole to catch me.
But destruction will catch them before they know it; they will be caught in their own trap and fall to their destruction!
Evil men testify against me and accuse me of crimes I know nothing about...

Don't let my enemies, those liars, gloat over my defeat.
Don't let those who hate me for no reason smirk with delight over my sorrow.
They do not speak in a friendly way; instead they invent all kinds of lies about peace-loving people.
Don't let them say to themselves, "We are rid of him! That's just what we wanted!"

(p. 555, Psalms 35, Holy Bible - Good News Edition - from The Bible Society of India, Bangalore)

Comment: Wish the lines offered comfort to those who suffer in Iraq and other conflict zones.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

How to monitor the health of a forest

The dependence of the insect population on plant diversity is both food and habitat specific. The honey-bee is placed at an important noble centre of this food-chain. It interacts with all the tiers of the forest and collects nectar from a variety of plants. The honey-bee can therefore be used to monitor the health of a forest. With its help it is possible to identify deforestation before it gets too late. A forest with abundant honey must therefore have the following properties: a high canopy, having grown through a 3-4 storey structure of a forest; dense undergrowth; and a rich diversity of flowering plants providing an important source of nectar. Finally, there must be continuous water supply.

In a healthy forest, honey-bees, of which there are several kinds, gather nectar from flowers distributed over different stories of a forest. This is their territory of operation. They prefer not to be disturbed in their work of honey production. Some are more sensitive to human sounds, such as tiger-bees. Accordingly, they make their hives in high places, like tall trees, on rocks and st0nes on top of hills, between crevices, or inside tree trunks. These living spaces are normally shaded and in proximity of water sources.

(p.480 'Environmental Issues in India: A Reader' edited by Mahesh Rangarajan, Pearson

Wind power

Although wind mills were in use several centuries ago, the actual growth of wind power started taking place in the 1980s in the wake of the oil price hikes that affected the global economy. Europe took the lead in this field. Today Denmark gets about 15 per cent of its electricity from wind power. Germany and Spain are other countries producing and utilising substantial quantities of wind energy. In India, by teh end of 2005, electricity generation from the wind power sector was about 3800 MW (3 per cent of installed capacity). It is estimated that about 45,000 MW of wind energy potential exits in India. The production cost of electricity from wind energy in 2005 was about Rs 2.50 per KWH.

(p. 91 'Environmental Studies' by D.L. Manjunath, Pearson

10 ways to become more confident

1) Value shyness
2) Take to the stage
3) Don't be too modest
4) Take charge
5) Start afresh**
6) Keep the cat in the bag****
7) Challenge yourself
8) Accept the odd knock
9) Small talk matters
10) Smile

** If there's one place you go where you're treated as doormat, find a way to stop going there. It might mean changing jobs or moving into a new circle of friends.

****If you start a conversation by saying you're nervous, people will categorise you as such. Unless you tell them, most people won't know.

(p.64-65 'The Life Plan: 700 Simple ways to change your life for the better' by Robert Ashton, Pearson

Conference callers

For example, a conference facility may perdict that as many as 20 users could simultaneously place calls with their wireless IP phones within every 10,000 square feet of the conference facility. If you are deploying 802.11b, you will need three access points covering each of the 10,000-square-foot areas to produce enough capacity to support the calls. Each access point will service up to eight simultaneous calls, so the total supported will be 24. To make this arrangement work effectively, you need to reduce the radio cell size of each access point to cover approximately one-third of the 10,000-square-foot area.

(p.155, Deploying Voice over Wireless LANs by Jim Geier, from Cisco

IST is...

...humorously interpreted as Indian Stretchable Time.

In Mexico, time is treated rather cavalierly. One commonly hears the expression 'Hora Americana, Hora Mexicana' which means 'your time is our time'. In Manila, guests enter the house of the host generally an hour late for dinner. In certain Arabian countries, the host feels offended if the guests arrive on the dot, for he and his family are rarely ready to receive them on time.

(p. 80 Time Management: For Happiness and Success by Ramesh K. Arora, Paragon International Publishers www.paragonintpubcom).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A plough can be swayed sev or kara

"At the time of seasonal agricultural operations, the Sutar is expected to be immediately available to peasants in their fields when implements need to be repaired. The Sutar knows which type of plough is needed, depending upon the nature of the soil to be ploughed and the crops grown. He fashions the farmers' tools according to the famers' variegated needs, asking about the height of the bullocks, the transport constraints, and other requirements. A plough can be swayed sev (vertically downwards) or kara (inclined) - they are so required for two distinct types of ploughing, which need to exert different pressures on the bullocks. When the plough works to the farmer's satisfaction, he manifests his contentment by saying, 'I have got good stuff!' If the plough is badly assembled, the peasant will poke fun at the Sutar calling him a useless person, a pondhya, a derogatory term derived from pondha or pondhya, the bolt of the plough."
('The Mother Earth of the Mawal Peasant: Testimonies from Baban Khandbhor and Prabhakar Ghare)
(p. 273, The Social and the Symbolic, edited by Bernard Bel et al, Sage)

No mechanical equation

"There is no mechanical relationship between growth and capital accumulation, and one cannot specify a necessary rate of investment to sustain a specific rate of growth because capital intensity of production can vary and much also depends on technical progress and the efficiency with which capital is used (productivity growth). India's past experience shows that very effectively; the average capital intensity of production was relatively lower than that in East Asian economies, and TFP growth played a much more significant role than capital accumulation in increasing GDP per worker. Indeed, high rates of capital accumulation without improvements in TFP (total factor productivity) could simply hide a great deal of inefficiency."

(Emerging constraints to sustained high growth)

(p. 77 'India's Long-Term Growth Experience,' by Sadiq Ahmed, Sage)