Apr 22, 2009

Ten boys, almost of my age, get on a boat one night, go to Mumbai, besiege the two best hotels and a Jewish settlement in the downtown, spray bullets, kill, take hostages and paralyse the nation for nearly three days. The police have no idea what to do. The bigwigs of the government are more content in taking their sons and daughters for a fun visit to the site. Months later, South Bloc still can’t get that country to close the terrorist training camps that still operate with impunity in its territory.

Back then i was agitated. As a disillusioned middle class Indian youth, I complained about governmental dysfunction and security loopholes, about untrained police and an unaware public. I sat on a beanbag chair and cribbed about all the problems-but i never went beyond that.

I cursed the system. For me, people who came through votes were the real enemies and not the people who came through boats. I searched for reasons to why an ace shooter shoots, get gold and is rewarded in crores whereas another shooter, who dies while fighting terrorists, is left to bite the cold dust. I wanted to know which victory is critical. I asked-but I never went beyond that.

I denounced the political system. For me, Indian democracy was a bit like Gulliver tied down by a gang of kleptocratic and criminal lilliputians; every five years they let the giant get up and stretch and then order him to lie down again. On a coffee table with my friends, i have all the logics, the explanations and the solutions for everything that went wrong. I spoke-but i never went beyond that.

I read about the hunger in the villages and small towns where electricity is an infrequent visitor and where public institutions are hubs of malefic political activity. I was pained about this-but i never went beyond that.

I see a host of success stories-not as big as Henry ford’s, but not small by any measure as well. An MBA from San Francisco state university, Rahul Gala Shah, has returned to become a successful farmer. P.K. Biju, a student leader, wants a paved road to make the 2 km trudge to his school easier. Shruti Nagvanshi embrace the faith as a protest against untouchability.These are men and women who have chosen the rough and tumble of politics and used their talents to be people of worth. I appreciate them-but this time i want to emulate them.

And suddenly i have a chance of the lifetime to go beyond. Come 13th may, and it will not just be a button on an Electronic Voting Machine, i will press a change.

We are citizens at a time when the world is watching how we will exercise our rights in the world’s largest democracy. Will we cold shoulder convention or cave into it? We are the future of India but on our decision will depend the India of future.


Mar 15, 2009

It were those days when slumberness had set straight.A seemingly monotonous three month long vacation laid ahead.For all those hotshot career consultant guys i had read at the forums, to be engineers of worth and substance, treat your vacations as your semester and your semester as your vacations.To put it in a more 'engineered manner',make sure in your vacations you stick your heads in something that will make those impatient neurons in your brain to wringle up some nerves.(Brain they say needs exercise, as every other muscle does).

So unquestioning,as engineers have been of late,i decided for a programming course at a place called baijnath,some 16 Kms.from Palampur.Not that i hated the course.Sunil sir,the instructor at the course,was a candid and a witty man.I enjoyed every bit of his teaching.But what pinched straight across,was the fact that there were no challenges,no adventures,no highs and no lows beyond those daunting source codes.But fate,they say,isn't too obvious to guess.

One day when i was travelling to Baijnath,there was a bike lying on the road turned upside down with stains of blood on the road.A lady from abroad,sitting right behind my seat asked the driver to stop to check whether somebody was lying there injured.But he was unwilling,due to legal hassles and due to their awckward time charts that they boast of following as if they were the Ambanis of roads.Call it an impulse,i stood up with the lady and asked the driver to stop.We got down and fortunately there was nobody.i picked up the bike and parked it on the corner.

Back in the bus,I got to know more about the lady.She was Valerie'O Neal,a californian who had served as CTO at blackberry at Ottawa and later as Head,Sales at Motorolla at Manhattan(New York).Fed up of the directionless pursuits of hers,she and her husband set out on an enriching voyage to India where they would serve those in need.They were in India for the last three years and lived at a place called Sidhbari on Palampur-Dharmsala road.

And then i told her about myself,my family,my education and about my boring vacations.Upon hearing the vacation part,she told me i can work with them if i was interested.I was,for heavens.And when i had to get down the bus,we fixed up our next meeting.the next day,at a small village called Sansal,where she was holding a blood donation camp.

The same day i told sunil sir about my meeting with valerie.He was kind enough to equip me with all the geography and the travelling facts that i needed to know about Sansal.So the next day as he let me off 30 minutes before the class, i set off for sansal.The 45 minutes drive from baijnath to sansal,beleive me, was truly worth it.It was a tiny village situated at a height of 1850 metres.The misty clouds descending upon the carefuly carved mustard fields and the elegant triangular rooftops in the backdrop of snow cladden himalyas were nothing less than scintillating.As I reached the temple adjoining the river,there she was ,with her husband,busy with the camp.

During next three weeks,i regularly went to Sansal and various places in the vicinity with valerie and Rudolph(her husband who used to work as a lawyer witha lobbying firm in New York).They were not alone in their noble pursuits.There was Kim smith,who worked at International relations office of UN at Geneva.(Due to our inclination towards politics we instantly became friends,often discussing political scenarios at length while we travelled.)And there was a sweet South African couple who came here to participate in a Paragliding world cup at Billing near baijnath when they met Valerie and rudolph and decided to stay back.

They taught children at schools,organised freee medical check ups,distributed blankets,undertook massive awareness campaign in the villages,brought in finances from NGO's to undertake upliftment programmes in villages,started microfinancing initiatives to finance SME's(small and medium enterprises),helped them create SHG's(self help groups) to create a resource pool in the village,took their problems to administration and virtually everything to transform the lives of people.

They all have dedicated their lives to people of foreign lands because back in their working schedules in their own country they were fed up of their unspiritual existence.But now they are less interested in their past than in an enriching experience of helping those in need who line up to say a humble and soothing namaste every time they turn up.For them serving is bound up in distance-a strange country,a foreign language,but an easingly simple relationship with the commoners-a relationship of love.Distance from their busy schedules offers them the space to cultivate real intimacy with the people.

As i sat down with Valerie,Rudolph and Kim for a small farewell party they had thrown up for me,i cannot help but appreciate the boundless enthusiasm and positive energy they have dedicated to people of foreign lands.They never question political system,nor do they offer any solutions,they do not beat women going to pubs nor do they stand stand for illogical fanatism of religion.

Yet in a small and unheard corner of the world,they are doing their bit.They,if any body is,are true indians.


Feb 8, 2009

"Teach him gently, world, but do not coddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
This is a bigger, world, but see what you can do.He is such a nice son."

Abraham Lincoln's words weigh heavy on my mind as i stand outside the gate of my school watching young,excited kids entering the school.The same school where i was a student once,which taught me all the virtues of life,and a school whose beats still resonates with my heart.

If memories are sweet companions,this school gave me millions of them. If friends are pillars of strength,i am lucky to have made many of them here.If teachers are the ladders to success,i climbed many of those wonderful ladders.If achievements are beautiful flowers,i plucked
many of them.If failures are thorns,i had my bit of share as well.But this school has been good to me.When i rejoiced,they celebrated with me.When i cried,their caring hands consoled me.When i won they patted me and when i lost they beleived in me.

Once when i refused to take a penalty in the State Football Championships,I got a hard slap across my face,from my football coach.Three years hence,at the same championships,I got the "Best Penalty Taker Of The Tournament".Guess,amongst those clapping hands,which were the most thunderous? I CAN GUESS TODAY.

When I was rebuked for not polishing my shoes into the divinity of white,I protested."As if you make mirror out of shoes",I rejected the flawed logic.But the rules of the world of Respected men ought to be followed. I UNDERSTAND THAT TODAY.

When I lost out on a scholarship to a Principal's son,they made sure i wasn't depressed.They had an unflinching sense of beleif in me and in the time to come,I tried and make sure this beleif manifested into results they expected out of me.Can those few bucks of scholarship match those results? I KNOW THE ANSWER TODAY.

When i overstepped the line ,they were harsh with me. I KNOW THE REASON TODAY.

When my gradesheets didn't reflect their expectations, they were angry. I APPRECIATE THAT ANGER TODAY.

When i had thumping achievements, they celebrated with me. I REMEMBER THOSE CELEBRATIONS TODAY.

When my shoulders dropped,they were always there to offer sincere words of advice. I RECOLLECT THOSE ADVICES TODAY.

When i had an arguemment with my friend, they made me see the reasons. I LOVE THOSE REASONS TODAY.

They taught me that an educated man is the one who manages well the circumstances of day,who is honourable in his dealings,who hold his pleasures for something bigger and to top it all who is not spoiled by his success.Those who have a character in accord with all these

My dear friends,learning needs freedom to think and freedom to imagine and both have to be facilitated by the teacher.They are the backbone of any country,the pillar upon which all aspirations are converted into realities.A teacher creates a lifelong autonomous learner and to do
that they simply have to be the best minds of the country.A teacher is like a ladder,it is used by everyone to climb up in life,but the ladder it'self stays in place. I KNOW MY TEACHERS TODAY.

Thank you,My dear Teachers for making what i am today.

"Life's battles don't always go
To stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who knows what he is today."


what ISTE has taught me

Feb 3, 2009

One of the most enthralling part of my college life uptil now has been my time with ISTE..It has been one such platform which has made me realise the importance of team dyanamics.the various forms of literature that i have carefully analysed has led tofollowing conclusions as to what should be the ingredients of a succesful team..This article would not have been possible without the unending coopoeration from my colleagues at ISTE.

Have you ever noticed how some teams have the magic touch? You see their work, and the way they work together and all you can think is, "Oh, I wish I were on that team instead of this one." It's hard to put your finger on what exactly makes them tick, isn't it?

Well, satisfy your curiosity right here and right now. I have the answer.The reason you can't see the magic is that it's invisible. It's not written down in their mission statement and it's not repeated in the footers of their documents.From outside the team, you can't see it at all.

Here are the five hidden secrets that separate the great teams from all the rest:

1. Trust. The team has developed a high level of trust. This means not only personal trust ("I trust that you are fundamentally a good person who won't stab me in the back") but also competency trust ("I trust that you have the knowledge and abilities to come through for me"). This level of trust takes time and while it may appear to be there from the start, it's not.

2. Conflict. Team members are willing to deal with conflict in a direct, honest, and thoughtful way: not holding things in, not lashing out, and never using conflict for personal gain.

3. Feedback. Team members are willing to call each other on unhelpful, unproductive, or destructive behaviors. They don't chicken out when it comes to giving and receiving feedback at the peer level.

4. Commitment. Most team members are committed to success, even when going through difficult times. They will walk the talk, as the saying goes, no matter how challenging the situation.

5. Values. The team has a clear sense of their shared values. They do not necessarily share all of the same values, but they do share several core values, which guide their decision-making and behavior.

How does your team stack up? If you're not close to a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 in all five areas, fix it. If it's beyond repair and the leader is unwilling to face this, think about finding yourself another team. Life is too short to be miserable at work. Low performing teams are miserable teams. High performing teams are happy teams. How would you rather feel all day?


Feb 1, 2009

Since bankruptcy is a situation that seems to be hitting more people it is best to know some bankruptcy facts. These facts can help you to understand what happens when you claim to be bankrupt. The first fact that you will need to understand is that filing for bankruptcy is not the end of the world.

Bankruptcy is a way for you to suspend the different debt collections that are being carried out in your life during the time that you have somehow managed to collect lots of debts. Once you have filed for bankruptcy the court will grant an automatic stay order.

This stay order will prevent the different debt collection agencies from trying to collect their debts while the court is looking into your tangled up finances. According to the known bankruptcy facts, during the time of your bankruptcy money cannot be collected from you by your creditors.

These individuals will need to talk to your lawyer to find information about the debt payment. These creditors can however petition the court for relief from the stay order. This relief order will provide them with the ability to collect any secured debts that you have written over to them. This is the only way that these creditors can collect money, property and assets from you.

By knowing about bankruptcy facts like this you can make sure that you are careful about assigning your property as security to credit companies. There is another bankruptcy fact that you should know about. In this fact once your bankruptcy payments have been fully paid off you will be discharged from further debt payments.

At this point former creditors will no longer have any claim on you and they can not force you to pay any more of the former debts. However if you do happen to get into credit difficulties with these same creditors once more they will have the right to seek compensation for these new debts that you have incurred.

As you look through the various bankruptcy facts and advice, you will see that in most cases your assets that can be turned into cash must be turned over to a bankruptcy trustee. This court appointed person will make sure that you are paying off your debt in a reasonable manner.

Your disposable assets once they have been liquidated will be distributed amongst your creditors. This is also another way for you to discharge your bankruptcy charges. There are many other bankruptcy facts that can help you to avoid being in trouble with the various people to whom you owe money. You just need to talk with your lawyer for help.


Jan 31, 2009

The stock market has sure been in the news a lot lately. When market prices drop, it may signal a good time for new investors to get in. But many folks may be intimidated at the idea of investing in and trading in the stock market because they've had little or no experience. Here are some basics to help you decide if this type of investment is right for you.

What are stocks exactly?

When you own a share of stock in a company, you actually become a part-owner! "Public corporations" raise money by selling these shares of ownership for the purposes of upgrading, expansion, or any other venture requiring capital.

How can I buy a stock and what does it get me?

Stocks can be purchased directly or by using a broker. Acquiring stock allows the owner to attend shareholder meetings, vote on issues, and receive an annual report which keeps the holder up to date on how the company is doing.

When a company is doing well, more people will want to own a piece of it which creates a higher demand. If you own stock in this company, the higher demand makes the value of your shares go up; conversely, if confidence in the business wanes, less people will want to invest in it and the value of your shares will go down.

How many and what kind of companies should I invest in?

There is no set number, of course, but the old adage proves true: don't put all your eggs in one basket. There are no guarantees in the stock market, but "blue chip" companies are stable, longstanding businesses that may offer the safest (though not necessarily the largest) returns on your investment.

It is a good idea to shift your stocks around every now and then so that a large portion of your investment income is not dependent on one or two successful companies. Remember, stock values go up and down, and you want to avoid getting stung by keeping your investments balanced. One rule is to sell off half of your shares in a company when its value doubles, then take that money and reinvest it elsewhere.

When should I sell?

This is a tough question because there is no set answer. A lot depends on what your investment goals are, how many risks you are willing to take, and how long you plan to stay in the stock market. The rule in the above section is a good one to follow, but it's essential to never sell without having a strategy in mind. This is when an experienced broker can help, and you may want to consider working with one if you plan to become a serious investor.

It is never too late in life to try your hand at investing in the stock market. It is essential, however, to do your homework and learn all about it before taking the plunge.


I am not an American..yet being a responsible citizen sitting in an awkward corner of Himachal Pradesh I feel elated that Obama has beaten all odds to set his foot in the oval office of the white house.Being a keen follower of politics I ll offer my perspective on why I think Obama is better suited than his republican rival McCain to take the reigns of states.
1. Obama was against the Iraq war from the start. Very few politicians had the integrity and the judgment to know that the Iraq war was a mistake before it began. John McCain certainly did not. McCain was one of the many politicians who thought Iraq would be a short easy war and that American soldiers would be "greeted like liberators" in Iraq.

2. Obama will lower taxes for people making less than $111,645 per year more than John McCain will. McCain has been running many misleading advertisements which make the claim that Obama is raising taxes across the board. That is not true. Obama is only raising taxes for the very rich and for corporations (who have not paid their fair share of taxes.)

For 90% of Americans, Obama's plan will bring lower taxes than McCain's will. This is an important fact not only because of the lower taxes that most Americans will pay but also because it speaks to McCain's lack of integrity. McCain continues to run ads which disingenuously claim a vote for Obama is a vote for higher taxes.

3. Obama is pro choice and will nominate pro choice judges for the Supreme Court. McCain has said he will be a "pro life President." Nobody is pro-abortion. It's not an easy choice for anyone to make, but it is certainly not the Government's role to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body.

If you believe in a woman's right to choose it is essential that you support Barack Obama as it's very likely the next President will be nominating 2 to 3 Supreme Court Justices. If McCain is the one nominating those judges, it's very possible that Roe V. Wade could be reversed.

4. Foreign policy. Obama showed he had far superior foreign policy judgment with his stance on Iraq. The things he said about the Iraq war before it had even begun all turned out to be true. We need a President who has judgment and the ability to know when and where to strike. The shoot first ask questions later cowboy mentality of the Bush/Cheney administration would be made even worse by McCain who, as Pat Buchanan put it, would make "Cheney look like Gandhi."

5. International respect. George W. Bush has been a humongous embarrassment for Americans. People all over the world now think of Americans as morons. Barack Obama is already loved all over the world. He is a brilliant speaker who understands the nuance of how to converse with people from different cultures. He's preferred in Europe over McCain by enormous margins. Obama as President would instantly make America popular again.

6. Health care. While I do not believe that Barack Obama's health care plan is the universal plan that our country really needs, it is a good step towards a better plan and it will help to lower health care costs. McCain's approach would hurt more than help. There would be even more people without health care with McCain as President.

7. Energy. While McCain is harping on the ridiculous non-issue of off shore drilling because he knows it plays well to the many uneducated voters in this country, it is Obama who has a real plan for energy independence. McCain's off shore drilling plan would only help to make oil companies even more rich. It would not lower gas prices.