Sunday, October 10, 2010
1. Protect the image
3. Be Super. Think IBM.
6. A computer network
7. What is blog short for?
9. Are you game?
11. On Time
12. Name of an online community that has something in common with NASA
13. First Come First Serve
15. Are you phone smart?
16. You can be easily tracked now
18. Now Newspapers can even TALK
19. 'You press the button, we do the rest'
20. A Microsoft's software product for building web sites and applications
2. Your wireless reading device
4. A Manufacturing Technology
5. It’s all related to IC's
8. Thick and Thin..Read between me!
14. Mobile Operating System17. The Japanese Way!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Anyways,the process began with essay writing and the topic was 'Democracy comes in way of India's economic growth as compared to China'.
Time : 20 mins Page : 1 side only Rough Paper given to jot down points
After that,a sheet was given where you needed to rate yourself on personality based questions,some 50 questions were there I guess.
At the end of this,we were all asked to wait in a room for the phone to ring through which they would call the candidates ..This was the funniest part :)..We used to keep checking whether the phone receiver has been placed correctly or not if it didnt ring for a long time ..lol.
Also,people were grilled on everything about oneself- form writeup,acads,extra-currics,work-ex,hobbies,essay,five most important certificates,etc.
Panelist: 3 male Profs P1,P2,P3 but when I entered,there were only 2.
Q.Tell me about yourself.
Q.What does Amdocs mean?
Q.What did you learn in your team?
Q.What is that you didnt expect in the corporate workplace?
A.Told about casual dress code,very informal and lively team,no training.
Q.Are you a foodie? What do you cook?(As I had mentioned cooking in the form).
Q.Where do you invest your savings?
Q.Dont you trade in stock market?
A.Yeah Sir,that is also a good option but you always need to track the market and I didnt find much time to spare for that.
Q.What is your opinion about Gold as an investment?
A.Yes Sir,even that is good since its value is appreciating a lot nowadays .Told about ETF also
Q.Then,P2 interrupted and came to acads and told he will ask on Semiconductors(voila !! ...this is the only subject for which we had no class in college and I was surprised Prof picked up that subject only :( ).
A.Told them the truth.
Q.But P1 interrupted you have got good grades.
A.Yes,Sir that is because I had read the content just before the exam day .
Q.Ok,So you have one internship at IISc.What are the different kinds of network?
Q.Asked some questions on that ...not able to recollect now but I answered them.
Q.What does a router do?
Q.How will you connect a desktop and a laptop in a room?
Q.What all facilities can you avail by connecting the devices above?
A.File Sharing,Internet Sharing,Printer Sharing.
Q.What is noise measured in?
Q.Did you see supercomputers in SERC?
A.I told about Param,IBM BlueGene and that I was lucky to have access to the server room.
Dont remember what else he asked.Jotted down whatever I remembered.
At the end,both seemed satisfied and then I left the room.
I was quite happy as the PI went well and the string of interviews finally came to an end and I was free now :)
Here the group size was again 9 and I was the last but one to go for the PI.
Essay Topic for our group: If we suffer from great pains,then we should have the right to end our lives. (Time : 20 mins, 1 page (both sides)).
Then the papers were collected and we were asked to speak on the same topic as part of our group discussion.
Spoke about euthanasia and different types of pains (mental,social,physical) but some people in the group were deviating from the topic.Overall,it was not a good GD even if it wasnt a fish market.
Panelist: Two male Profs P1(Seemed to be a Professor on Organizational Behavior)
P2(Seemed to be a Professor on Marketing ..a jolly Prof..kept smiling all the time)
Q.Tell me about yourself.
Q.Have you looked at IIM Lucknow website?
Q.What do you like about the site?
Q.U told IIML has lots of clubs and u have done social service work,do you know the name of the social service club of Lucknow?
Q.Ok,do you know what activities they do generally?
A.No,Sir .I just went through the clubs at a glance on the site.
Q.Can you name some journals/research papers on the lucknow site?
A.No,Sir.Didnt see the site in such details.
Q.You are good at both scholastic aptitude and extra-currics.What do you think,should scholastic aptitude be given more weightage?
A.Sir,I feel both are equally important .Also told that one who is not academically excellent in his school days should not be barred from getting iim calls even if he has perfomed well in CAT but his grades arent so high.Both should be balanced I feel.
Q.What are the things you think you require while working in a team?
Q.Your mother is a B.Ed Lecturer.What do you learn from her?
Q.P2 interrupted now and asked to name some latest telecom service providers.
Q.Asked to name TSP 's in last two years.
A.Told but didnt mention Virgin Mobile which he wanted me to say,so he popped in the name and asked do you know the marketing model of Virgin Mobile regarding their strategy of 'Getting paid for receiving calls'.
A.I told I can guess so and so but he interrupted and told if you dont know then we will not discuss.It's ok.
Q.What does TRAI stand for and what is it?
Q.Tell the controversies it is involved in ?
A.Told.(Then he told odnt you think the Telecom ministry is more involved in 3G auction than TRAI and started laughing looking at other prof joking about A.Raja)
Q.What is spectrum?
Q.How does the ministry of Defence come into the picture?
A.Told about Spread Spectrum Technology,CDMA
Q.Which is the party in power in your state Orissa?
Q.Which alliance is it Cong or NDA?
A.Third Front(Answered it very confdently :) ).
As I was leaving,he asked me how many calls you have?
Told and left.
I really felt happy at the end having answered most of the questions apart from the beginning ones but was very hopeful of converting it.
It began with an essay writing and the topic was 'All fools and fanatics are so certain about themselves but wise people always think so much'.(Time given : 20 mins,2-3 pages)
After this got over,we were grouped into slots of 9 and moved to the respective panels.
GD Topic: A case study on Water and its Price.(5 lines were written on Water).
Discussed a lot of topics on water use and misuse ,mumbai water shortage,pipe's bursting,water harvesting,world water day celebrated on 22nd march,water conservation,water management courses,awareness programmes both in rural and urban areas,water tax and many more points pitched in which I am not able to recollect now).GD went pretty good as everyone was speaking except two.
Panelist: 3 male Profs(one of them was an electronics engineer i guess as he asked electronics questions to everyone).
My interview began again with the eternal question of tell me about your origin and they tried to link me in every way with Gujarat.
Q.Tell me about yourself.
Q.Then asked about short term and long term goals.
Q.What is your aim in life?
A.Gave some gyan on it.
Q.As I told I have learnt German,I was asked what is my fluency level and rate yourself on ability to speak,write,read German.
Q.Why would you like to go for Ph.D in the long run?
Q.What have you learnt from your mother ,she being a B.Ed lecturer?
Q.What is the difference between IIR and FIR filter?
Q.Why is doping done?
Q.What is Fourier Transform?
Q.Can you desing an analog circuit using K-map?
Q.Do you want to ask us anything?
And then the interview ended .It was a pretty short interview for me as it lasted for about 15 mins.But in general,other people in my group had 30 mins interview with factual questions on GK,finance and based on your hobbies.
Verdict: Converted :)
3rd April,Hotel Sea Princess,2 pm: I was ready to face yet another set of people and yet another interview in the line.Most of the faces were already familiar and I started conversing with them whom I had already met at other interviews.As usual,I started chit-chatting listening to other people's interview experiences.
We were a group of 9 people.We were first called for the Essay writing which was of duration 35 minutes.
Topic: Private participation will help solve India's infrastructure problems.
When I saw this topic,I realised all my chances of getting through IIMB is over.I didnt have much knowledge about infrastructure sector of our country ,forget about the problems,companies,private players.Still I tried my level best to put some facts and figures and some points I knew about infrastructure and how privatisation would help.I wrote precisely in good handwriting and was able to complete in one page.You will be given only one side of the paper to write.
After this,we were sent back to waiting room and our rolls were called.I was the last but one to go.
In the meantime,I enjoyed tea,cookies,discovery channel with some show of Bruce Lee and talking with guys there.
Panelist: 2 Profs(Srinivasan Mam (P1)and a male prof(P2)),1 Alumnus(P3)
My interview duration was the shortest one of all ,around 10 mins whereas others had it around 20-30 minutes.
As I entered the room, P2 started talking to me in Gujarati and then I had to again convince him that I am not.He went through my form thoroughly and then P3 popped in.He started asking me about my work-experience.What is my role and what exactly is the process involved in the product I work in?(in short,he grilled on that for a while).
After a while,P1 came in with snacks and asked me what are your hobbies?
I answered reading novels and drawing.
Then both P2 and P3 said "All people good at drawing come towards the end of the interview process".
As i said sketching,mam then asked me to sketch her face and asked me how much time i would take .I said around 5-10 mins and then she gave me a yellow paper.
The panelists were talking among themselves that one of mam's students had sketched mam's face and it looked like manisha koirala and so they were teasing Mam :)
I kept drawing looking at mam's face and finally she took the paper from me after some time and said the sketch is not looking like her :( :( But she told she will keep it as a souvenir with her. :)
After this,P2 asked me 'Why MBA?'
I answered in brief 2 lines.
P2 looked satisfied and looked towards P1 and asked her "Do you want to ask her anything ?"
She nodded 'No'
And then my interview ended !
I felt satisfied with my interview but since it was quite short one as compared to others,I was a bit apprehensive but then all's well that ends well.
Friday, April 23, 2010
John Henry Fabre, the great French naturalist, conducted a most unusual experiment with some "processionary" caterpillars. These caterpillars blindly follow the one in front of them. Hence, the name. Fabre carefully arranged them in a circle around the rim of a flowerpot, so that the lead caterpillar actually touched the last one, making a complete circle. In the center of the flowerpot he put pine needles, which is the food of the processionary caterpillar. The caterpillars started around this circular flowerpot. Around and around they went, hour after hour, day after day, night after night. For seven full days and seven full nights, they went around the flowerpot. Finally, they dropped dead of starvation and exhaustion. With an abundance of food less than six inches away, they literally starved to death, because they confused activity with accomplishment.
Many people make the same mistake and, as a result, reap only a small fraction of the harvest life has to offer. Despite the fact that untold wealth lies within reach, they acquire very little of it because they blindly, without question, follow the crowd in a circle to nowhere. They follow methods and procedures for no other reason than "It's always been done that way."
Its long but really good. I really liked it specially the miracle story and about Stanford.
I am privileged to be with you here today and to share this significant moment of your life. The convocation marks the culmination of all the endless nights you worked through, all the anxieties you have gone through facing one examination after another and all the preparation you have put in, not only to enter this prestigious institution but also to graduate from it successfully. It is no small achievement. Only a handful of the most talented people in the world have shared this success with you. Let me say
that I am very proud of each and everyone of you.
I am little wary about giving you advice - because advice is one thing young people all over the world do not like receiving. I cannot fault you for that. The world does look very different when it is seen with your eyes. You are filled with enthusiasm and are straining at the least to get on with life.
And the world is very different from what it was when I was your age. Never before has the role of technology been so pervasive and so central. The Internet has breached all physical borders and connected the world together like no other force has done before. For the first time, opportunities for creating wealth in India are at par with the best in the world. There is no need for you to sacrifice the joy of remaining in your own country any more.
All opportunities are accompanied by their own challenges. I thought I would share with you a few of the lessons I have learnt in my own life, while leading the transformation at Wipro, from a small company three and a half decades back into a global corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange. I hope you find them useful.
Lesson #1: Dare to Dream
When I entered Wipro at the age of 21, it was sudden and unexpected event. I had no warning of what lay ahead of me and I was caught completely unprepared. All I had with me was a dream. A dream of building a great organization. It compensated for my inexperience and I guess, also prevented me from being overwhelmed by the enormity of the task before me. What I am happy is that we never stopped dreaming. Even when we achieved a position of leadership in every business we operated in India. We now have a dream of becoming one of the top 10 global IT service companies.
Many people wonder whether having unrealistic dreams is foolish. My reply to that is dreams by themselves can never be realistic or safe. If they were, they would not be dreams. I do agree that one must have strategies to execute dreams. And, of course, one must slog to transform dreams into reality. But dreams come first.
What saddens me most is to see young, bright people getting completely disillusioned by a few initial setbacks and slowly turning cynical and some of them want to migrate to America in the hope this is the solution. It requires courage to keep dreaming. And that is when dreams are most needed - not when everything is going right, but when just about everything is going wrong.
Lesson #2: Define what you stand for
While success is important, it can become enduring only if its built on a strong foundation of Values. Define what you stand for as early as possible and do not compromise with it for any reason. Nobody can enjoy the fruits of success if you have to argue with your own conscience.
In Wipro, we defined our beliefs long before it became a fashion to do so. It not only helped us in becoming more resilient to stand up to crises we faced along the way, but also helped us in attracting the right kind of people. Eventually, we realized that our values made eminent business sense. Values help in clarifying what everyone should do or not do in a business situation. It saves enormous time and effort because each issue does not have to be individually debated at length.
But remember that values are meaningful only if you practice them. People may listen to what you say but they will believe what you do. Values are a matter of trust. They must be reflected in each one of your actions. Trust takes a long time to build but can be lost quickly by just one inconsistent act.
Lesson #3: Never lose your zest and curiosity
All the available knowledge in the world is accelerating a phenomenal rate. The whole world's codified knowledge base (all documented information in library books and electronic files) doubled every 30 years in the early 20th century. By the 1970s, the world's knowledge base doubled every seven years. Information researchers predict that by the year 2010, the world's codified knowledge will double every 11 hours. Remaining on top of what you need to know will become one of the greatest challenges for you.
The natural zest and curiosity for learning is one of the greatest drivers for keeping updated on knowledge. A child's curiosity is insatiable because every new subject is a thing of wonder and mystery. The same zest is needed to keep learning new things. I personally spend at least 10 hours every week on reading. If I do not do that, I find myself quickly outdated.
Lesson #4: Always strive for excellence
There is a tremendous difference between being good and being excellent in whatever you do. In the world of tomorrow, just being good is not good enough. One of the greatest advantages of globalization is that it has brought in completely different standards. Being the best in the country is not enough; one has to be the best in the world. Excellence is a moving target. One has to constantly raise the bar.
In the knowledge-based industries, India has the unique advantage of being a quality leader. Just like Japan was able to win in the overseas market with its quality leadership in automobile manufacturing, India has been able to do the same in information technology. At Wipro, we treat quality as the No.1 priority. This enabled us
not only to become the world's first SEI CMM Level 5 software services company but also a leader in Six Sigma approach to quality in India.
However, even today I am dissatisfied with several things which we are not doing right in the area of customer satisfaction. Doing something excellently has its own intrinsic joy, which I think is the greatest benefit of quality.
Lesson #5: Build self-confidence
Self-confidence comes from a positive attitude even in adverse situations. Self-confident people assume responsibility for their mistakes and share credit with their team members. They are able to distinguish between what is in their control and what is not. They do not waste their energies on events that are outside their control and hence they can take setbacks in their stride. Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Lesson #6: Learn to work in teams
The challenges ahead are so complex that no individual will be able to face them alone. While most of our education is focused in individual strength, teaming with members is equally important. You cannot fire a missile from a canoe. Unless you build a strong network of people with complimentary skills, you will be restricted by your own limitations.
Globalization has brought in people of different origins, different upbringings and different cultures together. Ability to become an integral part of a cross-cultural team will be a must for your success.
Lesson #7: Take care of yourself
The stress that a young person faces today while beginning his or her career is the same as the last generation faced at the time of retirement. I have myself found that my job has become enormously more complex over the last two or three years. Along with mutual alertness, physical fitness will also assume a great importance in your life.
You must develop your own mechanism for dealing with stress. I have found that a daily job for me, goes a long way in releasing the pressure and building up energy. You will need lots of energy to deal with the challenges.
Unless you take care of yourself there is no way you can take care of others.
Lesson #8: Persevere
Finally, no matter what you decide to do in your life, you must persevere, persevere, persevere. Keep at it and you will succeed, no matter how hopeless it seems at times. In the last three and half decades, we have gone through many difficult times. But we have found that if we remain true to what we believe in, we can surmount every difficulty that comes in the way.
I remember reading this very touching story on perseverance.
An eight-year old child heard her parents talking about her little brother. All she knew was that he was very sick and they had no money left. They were moving to a smaller house because they could not afford to stay in the present house after paying the doctor's bills. Only a very costly surgery could save him now and there was no one to loan them the money.
When she heard daddy say to her tearful mother with whispered desperation, ``Only a miracle can save him now,'' the child went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured all the change on the floor and counted it carefully.
Clutching the precious jar tightly, she slipped out the back door and made her way six blocks to the local drug store. She took a quarter from jar and placed it on the glass counter.
``And what do you want?'' asked the pharmacist. ``Its for my little brother,'' the girl answered back. ``He is really, really sick and I want to buy miracle.'' ``I beg your pardon?'' said the pharmacist. ``His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him. So how much does a miracle cost?'' ``We don't sell miracles here, child. I am sorry,'' the pharmacist said, smiling sadly at the little girl.
``Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I can try and get some more. Just tell me how much it costs.'' In the shop was a well-dress customer. He stepped down and asked the little girl, ``What kind of a miracle does your brother need?'' ``I don't know,'' she replied with her eyes welling up. ``He's really sick and mommy says he needs an operation. But my daddy can't pay for it, so I have brought my savings.'' ``How much do you have?'' asked the man. ``One dollar and eleven cents, but I can try and get some more,'' she answered barely audibly. ``Well, what a coincidence,'' smiled the man. ``A dollar and eleven cents - the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.'' He took her money in one hand and held her with the other. He said, ``Take me to where you live. I want to see your little brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the kind of miracle you need.''
That well-dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge and it wasn't long before Andrew was home again and doing well. ``That surgery,'' her mom whispered, ``was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?'' The little girl smiled. She knew exactly how much the miracle cost.one dollar and eleven cents.plus the faith of a little child.
Lesson #9: Have broader social vision
For decades we have been waiting for someone who will help us in ``priming the pump'' of the economy. The government was the logical choice for doing it, but it was strapped for resources. Other countries were willing to give us loans and aids but there was a limit to this. In the millennium of the mind, knowledge-based industries like information technology are in a unique position to earn wealth from outside. While earning is important, we must have mechanisms by which we use it for the larger good of our society.
Through the Azim Premji Foundation, we have targeted over the next 12 months to enroll over a million children, who are out of school due to economic or social reasons. I personally believe that the greatest gift one can give to others is the gift of education. We who have been so fortunate to receive this gift know how valuable it is.
Lesson #10: Never let success go to your head
No matter what we achieve, it is important to remember that we owe this success to many factors and people outside us. This will not only help us in keeping our sense of modesty and humility intact but also help us retain our sense of proportion and balance. The moment we allow success to build a feeling of arrogance, we become vulnerable to making bad judgments.
Let me illustrate this with another story:
A lady in faded dress and her husband, dressed in a threadbare suit, walked in without an appointment into the office of the President of the most prestigious educational institution in America. The secretary frowned at them and said, ``He will be busy all day.'' ``We will wait,'' said the couple quietly.
The secretary ignored them for hours hoping they will go away. But they did not. Finally, the secretary decided to disturb the President, hoping they will go away quickly once they meet him.
The President took one look at the faded dress and glared sternly at them. The lady said, ``Our son studied here and he was very happy. A year ago, he was killed in an accident. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial for him on the campus.''
The President was not touched. He was shocked. ``Madam, we cannot put up a statue for every student of ours who died. This place will look like a cemetery.''
``Oh, no,'' the lady explained quickly, ``we don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would give a building to you.''
``A building?'' exclaimed the President, looking at their worn out clothes. ``Do you have any idea how much a building costs? Our buildings cost close to ten million dollars!'' The lady was silent. The President was pleased and thought this would get rid of them.
The lady looked at her husband. ``If that is what it costs to start a university, why don't we start our own?'' Her husband nodded. Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California, where they established the University as a memorial to their son, bearing their name -the Stanford University.
The story goes that this is how Stanford University began.
I wish you every success in your career and your future life.
Psychology always fascinates me right from childhood.Each one is unique and our minds are different in ways of thinking .Some people are biased by their environment and some by stereotypes and tend to project that in their mind.In B.Tech 1st Year,we were taught a subject Industrial Psychology which talked about various aspects of mind,personality,intelligence.I used to love studying it.Moreover,my mother teaches Psychology so I had a natural instinct towards that subject.Our brain is too powerful and can imagine anything.Everything is stored in the subconscious mind.Mood swings is quite a common phenomenon.I have come across two persons at home too whose personality I keep trying to understand till date and keep reasoning out their behaviours.Again,telepathy and coincidences - why do they ever happen and how does that happen are all inter-related.I introspect a lot :) .I like analysing personalities a lot as to why one did something or why one did not do something. Well,till date I havent read any book on Psychology though my mom keeps telling me to go through some of the books in her rack but I was lazy to bother.After watching this movie,I am again reminded that I should start reading some such stuff or some research papers on personality disorders and also telepathy because it happens with me a lot:P In the later years of my life,I wish to be a free lance psychiatrist or counsellor.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
IIMC was my first MBA GD/PI.It was scheduled on 22nd March,2010 (World Water Day) at 2:00 pm in Mumbai.
I reached the centre around 1:00 pm and as I entered the waiting room for IIMC, I started feeling jittery :)
Soon,we were called for verification of documents and then taken for Group Discussion.It was a group of 11(9 M +2 F).
GD Topic: Every problem has the seeds of solution in itself.
(Quite generic topic,discussion tended to be a fish market,points on terrorism,naxalism,finance,cloud computing,women's bill,education cropped up..at last each one was asked to summarise).
Time: 13 minutes
Personal Interview: I was second in the roll to be called in.
Didnt have to wait for much time (Thats the best part).
Panelists:Three Profs(1 Lady)
Q.Have you submitted your payslips?
Q.Relax . What did the guy who went first tell you about us?
A.Just that he was asked about me and education stuff.
Q.How many students have scored above you?
A.4.36 percent ..
Q.Say 2 lakh students have appeared for CAT ,then?
A.4.36/100 * 200000
Q.Tell us something which is not there in the form.
Q.What do your enemies think about you?
Q.You are good at drawing and you like to read novels,why didnt you go for Arts Stream?
A.I am good at artistic subjects as well as technical side too .I have won in many olympiads and member of technical clubs in my Institute.
Q.What are your career goals?
Q.Dont you think you should have scored much higher in CAT when we compare your excellent academic scores?
A.Yes Mam,I expected to score above 99 ptile but I am happy that I have got so many calls .I had given my best.Rest I wasnt able to evaluate myself where I went wrong because I didnt have the question paper because of online CAT system.
(Prof): Yeah,you raised a good point there.
Q.What is it in teaching that excites you?
A.Innovation,out-of-the-box thinking,can think beyond the books..blah blah
Q.From where all do you have calls?
(Prof) You are a good student,a good daughter but you talk a lot.Think more and then speak ,that will create a great change.You will do good wherever you go.
Results out on 10th April,2010 : Rejected :(
I forgot to mention that I was allotted mentor from IIMC after my interview got over :)
Anyways,it was just the start of the chain of interviews of the hectic month.
An Article on Times Life,7th March,2010 by Rajashree Birla
AS a teenager, I recall a tale that has had a telling impact on me all through these years. It has a philosophical resonance that is akin to the Geeta, which is the scripture I lay great store by.
Once upon a time there lived this Jewish king named Solomon. In a grumpy mood, he thought of teaching Benamiah Ben Yehoyada, his minister, a lesson. So he assigned to him a seemingly impossible task. He ordered Benamiah to find him a magic ring with extraordinary features. And that was — if you were happy and wore the ring, you would feel unhappy. And vice-versa. If you were joyous and wore it, you would feel absolutely sad!
Solomon gave him a six-month timeline for the search. Deep down in their hearts, both Solomon and Benamiah knew that such a ring did not exist in this universe. Benamiah prayed hard for a miracle. A little before the deadline was over, and having walked all over for such a ring, he decided to go to one of the poorest places in Jerusalem.
There he saw an old merchant who was spreading out his goods on a carpet. Benamiah was quite intrigued. He thought, “Let me take a chance with him.” Therefore, he asked the merchant whether he had a magic ring that could make a happy person forget his happiness and a sad person forget his sorrow. The merchant smiled. He took a gold ring from his wares and etched four words on it. Benamiah took the gold ring. When he read the inscription he was extremely happy. He felt that his mission was accomplished. He went back to Solomon. Solomon and all his ministers began making a mockery of Benamiah, teasing him as he would have returned empty-handed. Benamiah smiled and offered the gold ring to His Majesty. As soon as Solomon read what was written, he stopped being a tease. The words were “this too shall pass”. Suddenly, Solomon felt that everything in life was ephemeral, and nothing lasts forever.
These four words - ‘this too shall pass’ — have always given me tremendous strength, resilience and a lot of hope. Subsequently, I learnt that the phrase gained global fame when Abraham Lincoln, the former US President, used it in one of his speeches.
A little aside, I believe that if you view life through the lens of a positive prism, you will only be greeted with positivity. I have found that reading books like Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff… & It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, Joy 24 x 7 by the spiritual Master Sadhguru, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, also help enormously in stoking positive thoughts, which enable us to go with the flow.
(Rajashree Birla is the chairperson of the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development)
This speech was delivered to the Class of 2006 at the IIM, Bangalore on defining success by Subroto Bagchi CEO MindTree.I really admire this speech of his.
I was the last child of a small-time government servant, in a family of five brothers. My earliest memory of my father is as that of a District Employment Officer in Koraput, Orissa. It was, and remains as back of beyond as you can imagine. There was no electricity; no primary school nearby and water did not flow out of a tap. As a result, I did not go to school until the age of eight; I was home-schooled. My father used to get transferred every year. The family belongings fit into the back of a jeep – so the family moved from place to place and without any trouble, my Mother would set up an establishment and get us going. Raised by a widow who had come as a refugee from the then East Bengal, she was a matriculate when she married my Father.
My parents set the foundation of my life and the value system, which makes me what I am today and largely, defines what success means to me today.
As District Employment Officer, my father was given a jeep by the government. There was no garage in the Office, so the jeep was parked in our house. My father refused to use it to commute to the office. He told us that the jeep is an expensive resource given by the government- he reiterated to us that it was not ”his jeep” but the government’s jeep. Insisting that he would use it only to tour the interiors, he would walk to his office on normal days. He also made sure that we never sat in the government jeep – we could sit in it only when it was stationary.
That was our early childhood lesson in governance – a lesson that corporate managers learn the hard way, some never do.
The driver of the jeep was treated with respect due to any other member of my Father’s office. As small children, we were taught not to call him by his name. We had to use the suffix ‘dada’ whenever we were to refer to him in public or private. When I grew up to own a car and a driver by the name of Raju was appointed – I repeated the lesson to my two small daughters. They have, as a result, grown up to call Raju, ‘Raju Uncle’ – very different from many of their friends who refer to their family driver, as ‘my driver’. When I hear that term from a school- or college-going person, I cringe.
To me, the lesson was significant – you treat small people with more respect than how you treat big people. It is more important to respect your subordinates than your superiors.
Our day used to start with the family huddling around my Mother’s chulha – an earthen fire place she would build at each place of posting where she would cook for the family. There was neither gas, nor electrical stoves.The morning routine started with tea. As the brew was served, Father would ask us to read aloud the editorial page of The Statesman’s ‘muffosil’ edition – delivered one day late. We did not understand much of what we were reading. But the ritual was meant for us to know that the world was larger than Koraput district and the English I speak today, despite having studied in an Oriya medium school, has to do with that routine. After reading the newspaper aloud, we were told to fold it neatly. Father taught us a simple lesson.
He used to say, “You should leave your newspaper and your toilet, the way you expect to find it”. That lesson was about showing consideration to others. Business begins and ends with that simple precept.
Being small children, we were always enamored with advertisements in the newspaper for transistor radios – we did not have one. We saw other people having radios in their homes and each time there was an advertisement of Philips, Murphy or Bush radios, we would ask Father when we could get one. Each time, my Father would reply that we did not need one because he already had five radios – alluding to his five sons.
We also did not have a house of our own and would occasionally ask Father as to when, like others, we would live in our own house. He would give a similar reply,” We do not need a house of our own. I already own five houses”. His replies did not gladden our hearts in that instant.
Nonetheless, we learnt that it is important not to measure personal success and sense of well being through material possessions.
Government houses seldom came with fences. Mother and I collected twigs and built a small fence. After lunch, my Mother would never sleep. She would take her kitchen utensils and with those she and I would dig the rocky, white ant infested surrounding. We planted flowering bushes. The white ants destroyed them. My mother brought ash from her chulha and mixed it in the earth and we planted the seedlings all over again. This time, they bloomed. At that time, my father’s transfer order came. A few neighbors told my mother why she was taking so much pain to beautify a government house, why she was planting seeds that would only benefit the next occupant. My mother replied that it did not matter to her that she would not see the flowers in full bloom. She said, “I have to create a bloom in a desert and whenever I am given a new place, I must leave it more beautiful than what I had inherited”.
That was my first lesson in success. It is not about what you create for yourself, it is what you leave behind that defines success.
My mother began developing a cataract in her eyes when I was very small. At that time, the eldest among my brothers got a teaching job at the University in Bhubaneswar and had to prepare for the civil services examination. So, it was decided that my Mother would move to cook for him and, as her appendage, I had to move too. For the first time in my life I saw electricity in homes and water coming out of a tap. It was around 1965 and the country was going to war with Pakistan. My mother was having problems reading and in any case, being Bengali, she did not know the Oriya script. So, in addition to my daily chores, my job was to read her the local newspaper – end to end. That created in me a sense of connectedness with a larger world. I began taking interest in many different things. While reading out news about the war, I felt that I was fighting the war myself. She and I discussed the daily news and built a bond with the larger universe. In it, we became part of a larger reality. Till date, I measure my success in terms of that sense of larger connectedness. Meanwhile, the war raged and India was fighting on both fronts. Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minster, coined the term “Jai Jawan, Jai Kishan” and galvanized the nation in to patriotic fervor. Other than reading out the newspaper to my mother, I had no clue about how I could be part of the action. So, after reading her the newspaper, every day I would land up near the University’s water tank, which served the community. I would spend hours under it, imagining that there could be spies who would come to poison the water and I had to watch for them. I would daydream about catching one and how the next day, I would be featured in the newspaper. Unfortunately for me, the spies at war ignored the sleepy town of Bhubaneswar and I never got a chance to catch one in action. Yet, that act unlocked my imagination.
Imagination is everything. If we can imagine a future, we can create it, if we can create that future, others will live in it. That is the essence of success.
Over the next few years, my mother’s eyesight dimmed but in me she created a larger vision, a vision with which I continue to see the world and, I sense, through my eyes, she was seeing too. As the next few years unfolded, her vision deteriorated and she was operated for cataract. I remember, when she returned after her operation and she saw my face clearly for the first time, she was astonished. She said, “Oh my God, I did not know you were so fair”. I remain mighty pleased with that adulation even till date. Within weeks of getting her sight back, she developed a corneal ulcer and, overnight, became blind in both eyes. That was 1969. She died in 2002. In all those 32 years of living with blindness, she never complained about her fate even once. Curious to know what she saw with blind eyes, I asked her once if she sees darkness. She replied, “No, I do not see darkness. I only see light even with my eyes closed”. Until she was eighty years of age, she did her morning yoga everyday, swept her own room and washed her own clothes.
To me, success is about the sense of independence; it is about not seeing the world but seeing the light.
Over the many intervening years, I grew up, studied, joined the industry and began to carve my life’s own journey. I began my life as a clerk in a government office, went on to become a Management Trainee with the DCM group and eventually found my life’s calling with the IT industry when fourth generation computers came to India in 1981. Life took me places – I worked with outstanding people, challenging assignments and traveled all over the world.
In 1992, while I was posted in the US, I learnt that my father, living a retired life with my eldest brother, had suffered a third degree burn injury and was admitted in the Safderjung Hospital in Delhi. I flew back to attend to him – he remained for a few days in critical stage, bandaged from neck to toe. The Safderjung Hospital is a cockroach infested, dirty, inhuman place. The overworked, under-resourced sisters in the burn ward are both victims and perpetrators of dehumanized life at its worst. One morning, while attending to my Father, I realized that the blood bottle was empty and fearing that air would go into his vein, I asked the attending nurse to change it. She bluntly told me to do it myself. In that horrible theater of death, I was in pain and frustration and anger. Finally when she relented and came, my Father opened his eyes and murmured to her, “Why have you not gone home yet?” Here was a man on his deathbed but more concerned about the overworked nurse than his own state. I was stunned at his stoic self.
There I learnt that there is no limit to how concerned you can be for another human being and what the limit of inclusion is you can create.
My father died the next day. He was a man whose success was defined by his principles, his frugality, his universalism and his sense of inclusion.
Above all, he taught me that success is your ability to rise above your discomfort, whatever may be your current state. You can, if you want, raise your consciousness above your immediate surroundings. Success is not about building material comforts – the transistor that he never could buy or the house that he never owned. His success was about the legacy he left, the memetic continuity of his ideals that grew beyond the smallness of a ill-paid, unrecognized government servant’s world.
My father was a fervent believer in the British Raj. He sincerely doubted the capability of the post-independence Indian political parties to govern the country. To him, the lowering of the Union Jack was a sad event. My Mother was the exact opposite. When Subhash Bose quit the Indian National Congress and came to Dacca, my mother, then a schoolgirl, garlanded him. She learnt to spin khadi and joined an underground movement that trained her in using daggers and swords. Consequently, our household saw diversity in the political outlook of the two. On major issues concerning the world, the Old Man and the Old Lady had differing opinions.
In them, we learnt the power of disagreements, of dialogue and the essence of living with diversity in thinking.
Success is not about the ability to create a definitive dogmatic end state; it is about the unfolding of thought processes, of dialogue and continuum.
Two years back, at the age of eighty-two, Mother had a paralytic stroke and was lying in a government hospital in Bhubaneswar. I flew down from the US where I was serving my second stint, to see her. I spent two weeks with her in the hospital as she remained in a paralytic state. She was neither getting better nor moving on. Eventually I had to return to work. While leaving her behind, I kissed her face. In that paralytic state and a garbled voice, she said,
“Why are you kissing me, go kiss the world.” Her river was nearing its journey, at the confluence of life and death, this woman who came to India as a refugee, raised by a widowed Mother, no more educated than high school, married to an anonymous government servant whose last salary was Rupees Three Hundred, robbed of her eyesight by fate and crowned by adversity was telling me to go and kiss the world!
Success to me is about Vision. It is the ability to rise above the immediacy of pain. It is about imagination. It is about sensitivity to small people. It is about building inclusion. It is about connectedness to a larger world existence. It is about personal tenacity. It is about giving back more to life than you take out of it. It is about creating extra-ordinary success with ordinary lives.
Thank you very much; I wish you good luck and God’s speed. Go! kiss the world.