Monday, February 19, 2007

Innocence, Indira and India Inc.

* Children of Heaven
I had heard about this Persian movie, and finally got a chance to see it this weekend. Simple, Sweet, Innocent. Really an awesome make. Loved it. The two siblings, their small world of school-studies-friends, the poor hapless parents, the stark contrast between the poor families and the richer ones - all of it is so nicely shown. Looking at those two innocent kids is a matter of sheer joy. The school Physical Training periods look funny, and took me back to good old primary school days :) Remembered Amelie - one more place where I found innocence so nicely pictured. Much has been said about this movie already, so let me just say it's a must watch.

* "My Years with Indira Gandhi" - Dr P C Alexander
Recently I got to read the Marathi translation of this book, by Ashok Jain. The book is about Dr Alexander's stint as the principal secretary to Indira Gandhi, from 1980 to 1984. It throws light on her personality - as a tough PM of India, and also as an enthusiastic, multidimensional lady. This was the very first book I have read about her. Dr Alexander narrates how he got a chance to be involved in not only the government affairs but also some of the political, party, and even personal matters. A chunk of the book deals with Indira Gandhi's efforts to establish good relations with other countries. It displays her as a matured politician, a seasoned expert on Foreign Affairs. Dr Alexander also mentions how Indira Gandhi treated her colleagues who deserted her when she lost her power, how she had once considered giving up the PM post and going for the Presidential seat.
The things which struck me the most were her acute understanding of foreign policy as portrayed here, her perfectionist nature, her enthusiasm, organized way of doing things, her relations with her colleagues, regional leaders like the then CM of Tamil Nadu - M G Ramchandran, and some international leaders like Ms Thacher.
I have very little knowledge to form a binary opinion about Ms Gandhi, and I do not want to form such an opinion either. This book surely throws light on some of the interesting aspects of her personality, which is inspiring. It's worth reading :)

* India Inc - on a shopping spree !
Go back to year 2000 - and you find Tata Tea venturing out to aquire the Tetley brand in the UK. Since then, so many Indian companies have gone out and bought foreign ventures. This has started to give us a stronger position in the global scenario. It is very interesting to look at those deals and aquisitions, and all the discussions which follow. Recently after the TATAs won the Corus deal, there were cries of joy and warnings both - some people saying this is a big positive steps for India Inc, and the nay-sayers blaming Indian companies for improperly handling their money. I am very much a beginner in the topics like global trade, economics and business practises; but I am just trying to follow what is happening.
Got to read these interesting articles:
-- The great shopping spree !
-- Karuturi Networks, a little-known Bangalore company, is making a big move in the $80-billion floriculture space which will make it the largest rose grower in the world ! It is close to aquiring Holland based Sher - the world's largest producer and supplier of roses, for $40 million. Sher's greenhouses in Holland, Kenya, and Ethiopia produce 600 million roses annually. It all began on Valentine's Day, 12 years ago, when Karuturi, a mechanical engineer was sniffing around Bangalore for roses to take to his wife ! It's amazing. Find the full story here.
-- Suzlon Energy Ltd : the Pune-based company which bought the Belgian "Hansen Transmissions International" - it was a more-than-half-a-billion-dollar deal ! It is the fifth largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world. They have developed some of the largest wind parks, while creating global presence - including Europe, Australia and America. Read the story of the man behind Suzlon - Tulsi Tanti here.

-- Mandar Gadre.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Hi all I am writing again after loooong time.. but was really busy in many activities so couldn’t manage to write this on time..
Here it goes..

1.doing mba..
Many people ask me curiously about mba course.. may be because most of my friends r in technical field... so they have curiosity about what mba course is all about and what do they learn their and what will be their job profiles and all.. here I will try to tell u something about me doing mba.. basically “in mba they teach u management skills” is an inappropriate statement. More appropriate statement is “ in mba they teach u various aspects and techniques of managing a business.” They club in subjects of many fields related to running a business together and teach u those subjects like any other technical subject.. in the process, its U who has to learn the management skills and the vision.
My course is specially fabricated techno-management course.. so we have lot of technical subjects.. wireless communication, internetworking technologies, network security, object technology.. etc.. then from finance side we have few subjects.. and then few core management subjects like – marketing, enterprise resource management, business environment in India, project mgmt, economics and one subject on business communication.
Other than technical subjects, I liked marketing and enterprise resource management.. specially, I feel everybody in the world should learn basics of marketing.. it really amazes u how ppl have developed marketing..
Marketing and ERM help u to create a different perspective to ur thinking…. And economics..-- I loved that subject.. its not much diff than pure science..
In all while doing mba, they also make u learn some things.. like hard work and smart work.. u really have do most of ur work in other than college hours. Then they teach u to speak or present urself.( u have to make lot of presentations.. may be more than 25 in 2 yrs) and what I thought very imp and unique, they make u use all parts of ur brain, not just logical and memory part.. very unlike our undergraduate college..
That’s all about mba..

2.I gave a speech..
This year on republic day, 26th jan, I gave speech in prabodhini… haha.. funny na.. I also thought same.. gele kahi varsha, praboshini madhe 15 aug ani 26 jan la prabodhinitlya vegveglya vibhagatle kahi tarun lok bhashan karat ahet.. I m telling u something abt my this years experience.
on 14th jan. girishrav called me.. ( I had not stored his number in the cell so it didn’t look like ‘girishrav calling’.. so mazi tevha basli nahi.. hehe.. pan when he told his name, tevha… hahaha :) ) it was sankrant on that day.. first sentence he said while laughing was..” tuzyavar sankrant aaliy.. ya 26 jan la tu bhashan karaychays.. vishay tharavayla sandhyakali yeun bhet.. “ kahi jananna he vichitr vatel, pan yuvak vibhagatlya margadarshakanche ani girishravanche sambandh itke bhari ahet ki ase sangaycha tyanna nakkich adhikar ahe.
Mag sandhyakali bhetalyavar tyanni 2 vishay sangitle. Ek mhanje “Indian subcontinent madhalya deshanmadhe gelya kahi varshat ghadlelya lokshahi prakriyesambandhichya ghatana ani tyanche parinam.” Ani dusra mhanje “bharat America anukarar” or” indo-US nuclear deal”. I had to select any one of them. I said I will think and tell u tomorrow. I searched bit for both on the net and next day told him I will talk about nuclear deal.
Mala tayarisathi phakt 12 diwas milale hote, tyatla pahila me vishay niwadnyat ghalavla.. pan hya vishayavar internet var prachand material available ahe.. maze kam evadhech hote ki khup vachane, te neat organize karane, ani hya vishayatlya kahi tajna lokanshi bolun mazya shanka vicharane ani disha yogya karun ghene. Tyapramane me he sagale kele.. nemke hyach kalat college madhe far hectic schedule chalu hote. Tyamule farach kasarat zali.. ani shevati 26 jan la bolalo. Te kasa zala he tya vyakhyanala aalele aaple bakiche mitrach sangtil. Pan atleast I was satisfied.
Hya sagalya process madhe kashta zale pan khupach maja aali.. phakta girishravanni sangitla mhanun me hya kahihi sambandh naslelya vishayavar bhashan kele.. ani asa bhashan karane hi kahi far avaghad goshta nahiye he mazya lakshat ale. Tumhihi ashi kuthali tari sandhi gheun bhashan karun bagh.. (and I m not talking abt work related presentations)

3.Sakharshala.. u got to know this..
Third thing I want u all to know is about our sakharshala. Most of us went to teach in sakharshala in theur when we were in school. ( for those who don’t know what sakharshala is, call me) those sakharshala have come a long way now..
after starting with that experiment, prabodhini persisted with it and continued to run them for many years.. in some sugar facories, the experiment failed and in some it worked..
but after some years of doing actual work, prabodhini sent reports about these sakharshala to maharashtra govt.. impressed by our model and actual work, maharashtra govt has now made it compulsory to open a school like that for every sugar factory in maharashtra.. and it has appointed prabodhini as head of it guidance or advisory committee. So now every sugar factory in maharashtra has to run a school for workers children based on model developed by prabodhini.. and prabodhini acts as head of its advisory committee. Great na… I was very excited when I heard of this. And wanted to tell u all…
i forgot to mention the main thing about sakharshala, the reason why i chose to write about it..
aapalyaithe jasa sakhar kamgaranchya mulancha prashna ahe tasa hariyana madhe veetbhattyanchya kamgaranchya mulancha ahe.. hariyana madhe eka jilhyat ek konitari marathi collector ahe.. tyala maharashtratlya sakharshalanchi mahiti kalali ani tyala he don prashna ani tyanchi possible uttare similar watli.. so tyani prabodhinichi madat ghetli ani tikde sakharshale sarkhya shala suru karayche tharawle ahe..
tya shalanchya shikshakanchya training sathi prabodhinila tyanni madat magitli. ani december madhe aaple anil sir ( sakhar shaletle) ani ajun ek jan hariyana jaun teachers che selection ani training karun aale.. tyanchya anubhav kathanacha ek karyakram madhe prabodhinit zala.. so mala he sagale kalale..

that’s all from me this time. Waiting for replies..
-- Chaitanya Bokil.

Monday, January 22, 2007


** Dr. Ida Scudder
A few days back, I read an amazing biography of a missionary doctor Ida Scudder. It is written by Veena Gavankar in Marathi. It is a very inspiring tale of a missionary worker in the medical field, in and around Vellore in South India for more than 60 years. Most of her family was also involved in the missionary work. At one point of time in life, young Ida was decided not to become on of them. But something else was ahead of her. She came to India to visit her ill mother and could have a close look at the condition of the rural people around. Then determined to work for them, she returned to the US, earned her medical education and came back to Vellore. A small 'hospital' she started in a 10' x 12' room in 1900 has now grown into a huge 2000-bed medical centre. She also founded the Christian Medical College (popularly known as CMC) affiliated to the same. The sheer volume of her work is simply awe-inspiring.
In addition to the care of women, Ida Scudder saw the need for bringing health care to the poor, the disabled, and the neglected of India. She traveled regularly to outlying villages, bringing medical care to the doorstep of poor villagers, many of whom had never seen a real doctor or nurse, starting CMC's first "roadside" dispensary in 1916. Over the years, these roadside dispensaries have developed into extensive rural health and development programs that have become internationally acclaimed in the Community Health field. Hats off to Dr Scudder !

** The Jigsaw Puzzle
When I was in my last year of engineering, I worked as a student mentor. Many first year students would come upto me, and talk to me regarding their career paths. I was (and I still am) myself thinking on my own career path, but I would tell them about what I thought.
Some of them had a special concern - they were from those branches of engineering not considered "cool" by students and their parents alike. They were under a peer pressure. These were students from Metallurgy and Materials Science, Civil Engineering etc. Some of them thought they had landed up in dead fields, or those branches which will never fetch them good jobs, higher positions in industry-academia; in short they did not have much "scope" in their careers, if they graduated with degrees in Metallurgy or Civil.
This is what I used to tell them: "I look at this as a Jigsaw Puzzle. There are many pieces, each piece has its own place in the whole picture. A piece should fit into that position, and it also should be able to join with other pieces to complete the puzzle. It is nothing different with different engineering disciplines. Each type of engineer has his/her own place in the bigger picture of the sci-tech world, including Academia-Industry-Society-Governance. Each of them has to be able to fulfil the job, the duty. Each one has a special role to play. And also, each one IS important. Each one has his/her own place in the picture. Without any one piece, the picture cannot be completed. Thus, there is nothing as significant and insignifiant branched of engineering. All have to work together for any progress worth while. There is no need to look down upon a certain discipline. Let us broaden our minds, look at the bigger picture, try and understand it. Then only we can hope to make any difference - together."

** What is Success ?
Like many of us, I have tried to ask this question to myself, and thought over it for long. For me, the answer has invariably involved "satisfaction". Satisfaction of having made a great try, more than achieving something. Satisfaction of taking people along with you, rather than a cut-throat competition culminating into hard feelings. Satisfaction of having made a difference, rather than only criticizing. Satisfaction of having created something excellent and not mere destruction. Satisfaction of having done something new rather than following some beaten path. Satisfaction of having helped someone by rekindling his/her self-confidence rather than having dry sympathy. This, i feel, is success.

Once, one of my professor flashed this transparency in a lecture :

To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people;
and the affection of children,
to earn the appreciation of honest critics,
and endure the betrayal of false friends,
to appreciate beauty,
to find the best in others,
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden path, or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived.
This is to have succeeded.

This poem is many a times attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. But a good site on Transcendentalists says that it is not by Emerson but Bessie Stanley. Whichever the case, I feel the poet has put it well in the last line - if even one life has breathed easy because i lived, i wud be happy and rest in peace :)

This is (another) one from Bessie Stanley:

"He has achieved success who has lived well,
laughed often and loved much;
who has gained the respect of intelligent men
and the love of little children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who has left the world better than he found it -
whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;
who has always looked for the best in others
and given them the best he had;
whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction."

-- Mandar Gadre.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


* The Pursuit of Happyness
While on my California trip last month, I got to watch this movie. (Yeah, the word Happiness is spelt as "Happ yness in the movie name. In fact, there is a book with the same title.) This movie is based on a real life story of Chris Gardner. He is a self-made multimillionaire, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and philanthropist who struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son, Christopher, during the early 1980s. The movie shows his struggle in those days - as a salesman and as an intern in a big finance company. At one point of time, he has lost his wife, his money, his house - pretty much everything, but hope. He toils and toils. He makes great effort so that his son is not affected by these adverse situations. He works hard, achieves success, and does not stop at that. Today, he is giving back to the society.
(Chris is played by Will Smith, and his son Christopher is played by Will Smith's son. Their acting is amazing, to say the least. I kept remembering the father-son pair in The Life Is Beautiful). The scene where Chris and his son have to spend a night in a metro station restroom shakes you from within.
You get out of the theatre awestruck and inspired. It's a must-watch. If any point of life you think you have lost everything, look at Chris Gardner's case.

* India Poised
Many of you must have already had a look at this. At the turn of 2006, Times of India released this small piece of amazing writing - saying Let's Make 2007 the Year of India. It is a very inspirational piece. Amitabh Bachchan has, in fact, recited the anthem. And it does bring in effect.
One India Wants. The other India Hopes.
One India Leads. The other India follows.
Quietly, while the world is not looking, a pulsating, new, dynamic India is emerging. An India whose faith in success is far greater than its fear of failure. An India who no longer boycotts foreign made goods, but buys out the companies that make them instead.
Amazing! Do not forget to check out other columns/features on the main page.

* National Youth Day - Swami Vivekananda Janmadin - 12 January.
Vivekananda is beyond dates and anniversaries. He is beyond books, quotations, celebrations, poojaas. It's the message. Let us all, in true sense of the word, remember him and march on the path he showed. Let us believe in ourselves. Let us understand what our true duties are. Let us live - with our hearts feeling, with our brains thinking, with our hands working incessantly. Let us arise, awake and stop not, till the goal is reached. Let's be men - His Men.
Let's remember the words: "Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success."

-- Mandar Gadre.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Life @ Persistent

When I started this piece of writing, I thought ‘Life after engineering’ as the title. But then I realized that bulk of the events in last year or so have taken place in Persistent itself. So decided that ‘Life @ Persistent’ would be an apt title.

This is 6th Jan 2007. I just completed a year and a half at Persistent. Since I joined in July 05, it has been a wonderful journey. Very different from some 18 years that I had spent in various schools and colleges. I can split it into three parts – the initial phase, an eventful year in my team and my immediate future.

Getting inducted in Persistent along with other 200 freshers from all over India was a bit nervous experience. All of them were brilliant in varying degrees. My training batch consisted of 20 people and for some reason or the other every one of them appeared superior to me. Throughout my training period, I struggled to keep pace with them. I had started to realize that I have some serious tasks in hand – to start believing in myself, to raise the bar significantly, to reinforce faith in my abilities which I had hardly done during my college days.

Once my training was over, it was time to meet a person who would act as my mentor for a mini project before I could have joined any real project. The person whom I met is a real genius with excellent technical skills, amazing communication skills and an awe-inspiring personality. Fortunately, I later ended up being in the project of which he is Project Manager.

When I joined his project ‘Corbis’, I again realized that I am going to be among people who are very proficient technically. But being amid people with great caliber did help me a lot. When people around you are such highly capable, you first try to match them. If you do that successfully, you strive to excel them. I did exactly the same. With utmost determination, dedication and sincerity I have been able to come close to at least match them if not excel them. I am extremely fortunate to be a part of such amazing team where I don’t have any colleagues but only friends. Yes ... regarding them as colleague would insult the bonding that we all share.

I honestly feel that I have started to rediscover myself as an effect of being in this team. Had I shown the same amount of dedication and seriousness during my engineering days, my mark sheets could have had a bit more weight. However, today I can proudly say that I have left behind the initial nervousness that I went through during my training and I have done well over the last year; probably better than many of the 200 people that joined with me.

The work assigned to me in this team, the responsibility that I have been given, the client calls that I participate in; around 100 mails that I have written to clients so far have indeed helped in building confidence and self belief. Also, it feels really great to see the stuff that you had developed live in action on some of the websites that people in america and europe use.

Only in the last week we had a release. Now not only I will be contributing but sort of leading the biggest feature in the next release of the product. I will be working with 3-4 people from the team. This feature is going to be a hell lot of work and a huge amount of responsibility. I am looking forward to 3 exciting months of work.

I have learnt many things in the past year and hope to get better and better in coming future. Still a lot catching is left to be done and I just hope that the learning curve should never end. I am happy with where I stand today but certainly not complacent.

- Mandar Kulkarni.

Friday, December 22, 2006


* The Legendary JRD
in the summers, i read a book named "JRD - mee paahilele" ('JRD - through my eyes') by D R Pendse. Pendse worked with TATAs from 1968 to 1991, as an economic advisor. he is a very well known economist, and has done great work for spreading awareness regarding important issues concerning indian industry, global market and economics, development of think tanks etc. through this book, i could take a peek into JRD's life as the head of TATA group of industries. he led the group for grand 53 years (!!!), from 1938 to 1991. it was a very dynamic era - from the time before world war II to the time when independent India was opening up its markets to the global industries. JRD led TATAs through all of this.
while reading about him, two things struck me the most --
1. the unshakable set of ethics and the integrity this man showed. he was a true patriot, who, while leading a private sector industry, proclaimed "what is good for India, is good for TATAs". he built an ethics system inside the group, which still lives on. a pioneer in Indian Aviation, he started TATA Airlines in 1932, which later became Air India. he was the one who funded TIFR and paved way for India's nuclear research, he was the one who initiated the family planning movement long before the government did. he was sure a visionary, and was aptly decorated by India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1992.
2. JRD's power to identify bright, capable people and apply them at the right positions was awe-inspiring. an example that i know of is Sumant Moolgaonkar (popularly known as SM - the man who headed Telco for 40 long years, made it a successful business, exemplifying a great manufacturing industry.) JRD picked up, applied and took with him all these great men, often eccentric. hats off to his leadership !
JRD's life is an inspiration. I have one of his posters on my wall which says: "No success or achievement in material terms is worthwhile unless it serves the needs or interests of the country and its people, and is achieved by fair and honest means."

* you may wonder who gave me that poster, and that is the second thing i am going to talk about.
before i left for USA, i attended an "orientation-cum-info" session organized by a well known coaching center for GRE, TOEFL etc. the person who heads this center had the JRD poster (and a copy of Bhagawad Gita) gifted to us students, which was very thoughtful of him, and i was impressed.
but my impression was tarnished by what he talked in front of the young students ready to fly to the US. his talk was far from inspiring. he talked about and criticized corruption in India, and how the talented ones are getting wasted staying here. he in fact said "go to the advanced countries abroad. your talent will be recognized and appreciated there. no one cares about your credentials here. just dont forget your parents, send money home. blah blah blah"
that was all of his "expectations" from 500 bright (i believe) and young students going abroad for higher studies. there was no mention of making use of educational facilities there, becoming experts in the respective fields and contributing to India in whatever way one can. (btw, i am not hinting you cannot contribute by staying outside India. in fact in the modern world, one's physical location matters less and less. but he simply did not touch on any of this). the man who gifted us JRD's poster talked only about how nice, clean, honest, healthy an environment one will get abroad. he said and implied that it is not much of a use to stay in India. he never uttered the terms "giving back to the country", "contributing to India's progress" etc.
i thought he would use this golden opportunity to voice out the need for the educated and privileged ones to contribute to the nation's progress. he had a huge young audience. but he lost the opportunity. i kept thinking. the next time i go back home, i am going to see him and tell him all this.

* (reposting from my blog)
I remember hearing about Che Guevara while in school. he did not figure in the history books i read, but there sure were some passing remarks by my teachers and seniors. i never went ahead and found out more and almost forgot about him - till, one fine day, one of my senior roomies showed me the film - The Motorcycle Diaries.
it's an amazing and very very moving film, to say the least. i loved the shooting through picturesque latin America, and a desire of going to these places sprang up. the movie, as it turns out, is much much more than a 8000 mile journey two friends make, a large chunk made using a beat-up motorcycle, which they fondly called "The Mighty One". the journey becomes a life-changing one, one of self-discovery for the two friends. Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, (better known as "che Guevara" - this "che" is not a nickname or something. it's Argentinian's way of saying what US guys say as "dude", i gather.) and his friend Alberto Granado take on a journey to discover Latin America that they had never seen, they travel and empathise with people they have never met, they work amongst volunteers in the Leper Colony in Peru. before they know, their lives are changed - forver.
in the movie we get to see a large spectrum of emotions and the types of situations. there is love, physical challenges, agony, pain, poverty, oppression, fun .. amazing combinations ! i felt like going on a roller-coaster ride. surely one of those movies i will never forget :)

-- Mandar Gadre.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Three Questions

hi all,
Today I am going to write on 3 questions I stumbled upon recently and what answers I thought of.

* Which is the thing lacking in todays India according to u?
* What value u have added in this world.
* Say after 10-15 years from now in which field, subject u want to be called an expert? Or even u want to have deep knowledge/study/understanding/wisdom?

* First one was when we were having a group discussion in college. The person who was conducting the GD, asked us few questions before the actual GD just to have warm up.
And one important question he asked was, which is one thing lacking in todays India according to u?
Question was not extra ordinarily different.. because there r many things lacking in todays India one feels. Try giving answer to this urself.. I will tell u what I think.
What I think India is lacking today is Indian-ness. There is Japanese way of doing things, American way of doing things, European way of doing things… what is Indian way of doing things? Further, what is Indian philosophy of economics? Running the country? Schooling? philosophy towards life? We have to explore and identify that. There is no reason why we should follow what westerners do blindly. And as we undergo economic revival, India has to contribute to the world Indian way of thinking towards everything.
And not doing that is the thing modern India is lacking today.

* Second question was asked to me in an interview. He was asking me about my career aspirations… and I was telling him about how I would love to do entrepreneurship sometime.. and while talking about that, I said that my idea of entrepreneurship is diff than just doing business, but being innovative and making best use of resources to create something which will add value to the world. And then he asked me “ ok chaitanya, tell me what value have u added to the world till now?” I was not prepared for this question and I gave some very arbit and unsatisfying answer.
Really, what value can we add to the world… when I think about it now.. here is what I feel. Adding value according to me is doing something which is not expected in normal course.. doing something extra or out of the way( for betterment of someone ofcourse)
We can add value while studying by learning something which is not formally taught, we can add value in workplace by doing same work but in a diff. and better way.. we can add value in a group by helping friends see more, think more, do more… and we can add value to ourselves by taking more exposure,thinking more, doing more…
We have to ask ourselves this question more frequently…” what value am I adding to this world?”

* For third question, I dont have any answer. Say after 10-15 or even 20 years from now on, in which field u want to be an expert? Or read it as in which field or issue u want to have deep study/knowledge/understanding/wisdom? Sure u want to be in some field.. and this may be different than the field in which u r for earning money.. but the field u have passion in, and u will work hard to be expert in that. I don’t have any answer to this question.. and thats disturbing..
I am eager to know what answer do u have to all these questions..

-- Chaitanya Bokil.