Friday, September 26, 2008

CSIM Session 5

VALUEable or inVALUEable ??

Both I would say... That's how I will describe the few hours of our interaction with Mr. & Mrs. Chandran. The title slide projected 'Values and beliefs' as the topic for the day, I thought it would be a moral science class. S0mething like - you should do this you should not do this and probably some stories too (tats one reason why I liked these classes in school).

The class started with the duo (Mr and Mrs Chandran) asking us a very basic question - What do you understand by Value? This question stumped me big time. We keep using this word so very often and when I was asked to define value I was BLINKING. Values are learned beliefs like honesty is a value, punctuality is a value. As we practice these values they become habits or virtues and when a group of people exhibit this value it becomes ethics. That's the definition incase someone asks you.

This class was so filled with exercises that we never felt the time passing by. We did multiple hands on sessions. We began identifying the values which are important for each of us. Following that we had to give priority of the identfied 7. Once that was done, we were asked to split a sum of 10,000Rs against these 7 in varied proportion. At the end we did some basic math like add, multiply and found out which value rates high for each one. This gave us an idea of what takes more priority for us - power/position, aesthetic sense, social/helping others etc. This was a wonderful exercise which re-iterated to me that I am a person who loves being with people and enjoy helping people.

We then came to an interesting conversation on can a project that works for a social cause be profit oriented. This one is many people's favourite. We all agreed on the fact that social projects need not always be non-profit ones. As we reached this point, there was a confusion in distinguishing a business from a social project. If both are profit oriented models what is the difference in them. And here is where the duo helped us see the key difference - in a social cause the profit comes from the work that is done and not at the expense of the customer.

The session turned more and more captivating as we identified that our discussions were bringing forth the on-the-field qualities one needs to be a social worker. Some of the most important ones are
1. Understand the people you work for. Read between the lines - both verbal and non-verbal communication
2. Be objective as you hear to the people. Never judge using your value system.
We were given a wonderful example for this
A lady comes to you - she is pregnant for the 7th time - all the children born so far are either deaf or dumb - she is suffering from syphilis - what would you suggest - abortion??
The question left us in a fix - atleast I did not know what to say - couple of folks suggested an abortion as the chances of the 7th child being normal is less. The rest were against it as they could not accept the whole idea of taking life off.
And know what? The 7th child was Beethoven.

As a social worker it helps to be a
1. empathetic listener
2. have cultural sensitivity [I came across a mail on Bihar relief activity where they were urging people to donate sarees. The women of Bihar have never worn anything other than saree. The person/organization here was culturally sensitive to the needs of the people.]
3. Gender sensitivity
4. good communicator
5. Establish trust

The most important thing is to be one with the mass. That's one reason why Gandhi was loved and Nehru was respected.

Before we realised the clock struck 6 and the session was over. It was - Invaluably valuble.

Hats off to the duo - they had so much energy in them to keep the class going for 4 hrs. At their age, I am not sure if I will be able to talk for 30 minutes continuously. They were so knowledgable and down to earth.

Thanks to CSIM - We are getting a life-time opportunity to meet such great people and spend time with them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tum ho to ...

Tum Ho To Gaata Hai Dil, Tum Nahin To Geet Kahan..
Tum Ho To Hai Sab Haasil, Tum Nahin To Kya Hai Yahan..
Tum Ho To Hai Sapno Ke Jaisa Haseen Ek Sama…
Jo Tum Ho To Yeh Lagta Hai Ke Mil Gayi.. Har Khushi
Jo Tum Na Ho Yeh Lagta Hai Ke Har Khushi.. Mein Hai Kami
Tumko Hai Maangti Yeh Zindagi…

One of my favorite soft beat songs from Rock On movie. I liked this one rendered by Joe (Arjun Rampal) in the movie.

The movie is awesome, God salute to Farhan Akthar for his amazing acting and singing. Never knew someone could be so mutli-talented.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CSIM Session 4

Today I decided to shed off little laziness and write about my previous sessions. There is too much to write and so I start without any foreground background.

Session 4 - We had Vishal Talreja from Dream-a-dream come and talk to us. He was young, dynamic and of course very inspiring. The session was focussed on leadership. We discussed some of the aspects of a leader and then did a case study which was very interesting.

Here is a jist of the case -- Ravi is the head of DWF foundation which supports around 800 children in Bangalore. Over the period of time, he feels that organization has become stagnant in terms of growth. So he comes up with a project where DWF can start supporting children in Chennai and Mysore. There a couple of organizations who wants to partner with DWF for this. Now, Ravi takes this proposal to his team, everyone is excited about this but are not willing to take it forward. The reasons being they are stretching themselves already and will not be able to give time to any new work, how can they trust the credibility of the partners and how can they get to know their work ethics, what if their mission is very different. The case ended with the question - If you are Ravi how would you take this project forward and convince your team.

On a first read, the question resonated a typical corporate team behaviour. How many teams we would have felt that we are already over working and our manager comes with some new task thinking we have all the time in the world to do it. All the while, I was seeing the problem from the eyes of someone working in the team. With this case study I was forced to reverse roles, tables turned and for once I pitied all my managers and thought of the tough times they would have had convincing someone like me :-)

Coming back to the case, we were 4 in our team and each one was thinking tangential to the other. Somehow at the end we managed to streamline our thoughts though one person was totally against Ravi's decision. There were 3 teams. The first team's presentation was awesome - J had come to present and for the next 10-15 minutes we only saw Ravi there and not J. Truly fantastic presentation I should say. Hats off folks. They gave ideas like Ravi would take the lead and go to chennai and Mysore to start these operations. This way, he would move out of Bangalore and give way to the team to lead the efforts in Bangalore. Most of their points was based on this key idea. Though it seemed to work, the project now looked like Ravi's child and not the teams.

The second team presented ideas on how to solve the existing problems in Bangalore so that the team can start working on the new projects. The idea was good, they had a plan in place to solve the issues but the only point that was missed is what if they get caught in the loop of solving the problems in Bangalore. There were couple of comments from other teams as the plan did not bring out the qualities of a leader who would empower his people to solve their problems.

Last was our team and we knew that our analysis of the problem was not enough. We had brought out ideas like how to partner with the local NGOs, how to reduce the work load of the team so that they can take up new work. Also we split the growth numbers into smaller chunks for it to sound realistic and achievable. Somehow we managed to get appreciation from other teams.

At the end of the case study, we came up with a list of qualities of a good leader. A few of what I can recollect (those which sounded very important to me) -
1. Transformatory thinking or think big and out of the box
2. Empowerment of people
3. Understand the people
4. Have a vision for the future

Apart from these are the essential values like integrity, honesty and others.

That was how our session ended. It was a fabulous case study with a lot of thoughts flowing from everyone.

More to come on the 5th session.

God!! Please help me get up early so that I can blog my thoughts.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Zoommm Vrooooooommmmmmm

Hurrah, I crossed 1000 kms on my cutie bike. For me its a big achievement. I remember those days when I wanted to buy a 2 wheeler and was so hesitant only coz it was long long time since I had ridden a bike. I was so scared to be ride on on the roads of Bengaluru where half the driving population know no rules.

Thanks to pv, with all the encouragement and motivation we bought pleasure a few months back. It was a like a dream come true for me (one of my small dreams :)). The first week I feared to take it anywhere that was a kilometer away from home. All I did was go round and round the same street. And all of a sudden there came a day when I had to take my sis on the bike all the way to HSR layout. Now, it was not only to ride my way but also to ensure my sis is safe. Too much pressure, somehow I managed to go and then it was all fun ...

That day alone I drove on the inner ring road, outer ring road, marathahalli, whitefield. Confidence grew and from then on all I did was to zoom and vroom and this week I crossed the 1000km mark. For all those bikers, it would seem wierd that I am jumping up and down just for this. But this one is very special to me.

In all these days, I have had so much fun on the bike. Offlate I have started scolding more, scolding somoene on the road who does not drive the way I want him/her to :-). I know almost every other driver would have scolded me. Recently, I had the best experience on the bike.

As usual one morning I started the bike to go to office without realizing the tough times I would face soon. I slowed the bike a little to cross a hump on the road and tak my bike stopped. Then i pressed the button to get it started but it failed to respond. I put the choke on and then things fell in place. And there came the next time where I slowed down coz of traffic. This was the beginning of all troubles - my bike failed to start no matter what. I had no way but to pull it to the side with all those heartless four wheeler guyz honking behind. Then I shook the bike this side and that side without knowing why I did. Well, I remember many people doing that way and I wanted to try my luck too. I was left with no option but to push the bike to some place and park it. That was the time it struck me that its been a real long time since I filled some fuel, but the fuel indicator was showing the petrol tank was half full. Also, that was morning was when I had the wonderful thought that the bike has started giving good milage after the service. With all this in mind, I decided to check the fuel tank myself. I opened to see that it was empty with not even a drop of petrol :) What else, I walked to the nearest petrol bunk, got a half litre can of petrol and filled the tank. After two three kicks, my bike decided to take me to office.

Morals of the story -
Don't always trust your fuel indicator
Don't dream of big milage increase after the first service

Now every time I fill petrol, I use my elementary math to calculate how many kms would come before I have to refill.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why mobile phones have no dial tones?

This was an interesting question I read in the sci-tech section of The Hindu today. I thought it is worth sharing. Here is the extract from the newspaper.

Why can’t we hear the dial-tone in a mobile phone but hear it in the fixed wire & wireless phones?

In a conventional telephone network (fixed wire) the telephone is connected physically to a telephone exchange by a pair of dedicated copper wire from the customer’s home or office.

When the telephone goes off hook, the switch in telephone exchange will allow dial tone carrying voltage, to be sent on to the receiver. So you hear the dial tone.

In a mobile, communication is happening between base station and mobile by wireless.

This means the cell phone is not connected physically to the mobile exchange always. In a mobile phone handset, when you enter the number to be dialled and press the “send key”, the mobile phone sends a request to open a circuit, which means the circuit is on demand and not always on as in the case of a landline.

So you don’t require a dial tone in mobile networks. (It happens when you press the call button you may get a message stating network busy which shows the channel is unavailable.)

Fixed Wireless: To provide communication in a sparsely populated area and in extreme terrain conditions, where laying cable is not profitable or may be difficult, fixed Wireless was emerged as an alternative to the land line (fixed wire). So in this system a processor is provided in the customer premises to simulate a conventional telephone network.

The processor provides a simulated dial tone when the telephone goes off-hook. Then the dial number is analyzed by using digit analysis and transmits all the numbers to a base station. Unlike a cellular service instead of pressing a “send key”, a dial tone is provided.

In a landline a real dial tone is a method to indicate that a connection with the communication network has actually been established where as the simulated dial tone in a fixed wireless may not accurately reflect whether a connection can be made with the communication network. For example even if the communications channels are busy the fixed wireless phone will still provide a dial tone giving a false impression that the call will go through.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The story of Ganesha

Of late I am getting to hear a lot of mythological stories. I can't believe myself, I am reading a book of mythological stories :)

Here is the story of how the Lord Ganesha got his elephant head.

Long long ago, there was an asura named Gajasura who was performing penance for thousands of years. Lord Shiva pleased with his dedication appeared before him and granted a wish. Immediately Gajasura asked Lord Shiva to reside inside his stomach and the lord granted his wish.

Lord Shiva was now not found anywhere in Kailasha or Vaikunta and the devas got worried, they went to Narada. He took them all to Lord Vishnu who knew everything.

All the devas and the Vishnu dressed up like the 'gudugudu walas' (people who take the bull and go to each home) went to the kingdom of Gajasura. The king pleased with the singing granted a wish to the leader of the gang. The leader was none other than Vishnu himself, but Gajasura failed to realise this. Vishnu took this chance and sent the bull to pierce Gaja's stomach with its horns. Lord Shiva came out and that was the time when Gajasura understood that it was Vishnu. Gajasura then asked for a boon to Lord Shiva to be known in all directions.

As the news of Shiva coming back to Kailasha reached Parvati, she wanted to prepare herself to recieve him. While she was removing the nalangu (sandal paste) from her body, she made a cute doll with it. The doll looked so beautiful that she induced life in to it. It became a boy and she asked him to gaurd the place and not allow anyone till she comes from bath.

Shiva too eager to meet Parvati comes to Kailasha and he is stopped by this boy who does not let him. The boy tells him that his mother had ordered him not to allow anyone to come in till she comes out of bath. Shiva became angry and be-headed the boy. Parvati came from bath to find the boy dead. She was so upset and questioned shiva how he could do that to their son. Shiva thought of an idea and ordered his men to bring the head of Gajasura. He then fixed the head of gajasura (whose head is that of an elephant) to the boy and that's how Ganesha got the head of the elephant.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Teacher's day

Today, I am reminded of those teachers who have changed many things in me for good.
Shanthi mam (bio), Sivaraman sir (English), Chemistry sir, Hemavathy mam (chemistry) and my all time favourite and constant teacher my dearest mom.

Wishing you all a very happy teacher's day and thank you so much for having taken this noble profession to educate and empower young minds.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kya aap Panchivi pass se tez hai?

Kya aap panchvi pass se tez hai, hai ya nahi? Ab patha chal jayega.

Try to answer these simple(??) questions and find out for yourself.

1. Who wrote 'Jana Gana Mana' our national Anthem?

2. Who wrote 'Vande Mataram'?

3. How many states are there in India?

4. What is the capital of Jharkhand?

5. Who is the vice president of India?

Well, these were some questions I was trying to answer yesterday and I found
mein Aarthi Muralidharan panchvi class se tez nahi hoon :( :( :( :(