Friday, May 31, 2013

Abohoman


I grew up in a Pravashi Bengali family with quite liberal parents. Baba used to read lot of books and was pretty well - versed with Bengali literature and same holds true for Ma. She is musically inclined too and can effortlessly sing Bengali songs. But I was never introduced or forced into any kind of Bengali "culture" in the truest sense. My parents always believed that with time and the right influence, we will find our way, find our roots, like them and appreciate them. However, baba would always say that you can gain all the technical knowledge and do all kinds of number crunching and analysis but it is literature and good films which will finally smoothen the edges once you learn to appreciate them. And that is how you will truly evolve as a person. But he would also say that good movies or literature is an acquired taste. It won’t happen overnight and never by force.    

In the days of Doordarshan, sometimes I used to sit and watch Sunday afternoon regional movies with my family. I was in school those days and pretty naive. For me, most Bengali films were black and white, poorly lit bordering dark, extremely complex and totally sad with too much pain. And that was a total turnoff. In due course of time, I never really bothered to waste time on such inane stuff and to be honest I had to totally depend on the subtitles. Even today, I don’t boast of my prowess in speaking, reading and understanding Bengali. An average Bengali would probably be appalled listening the way I speak but that is besides the point. During my school days there weren’t too many avenues to watch good English films. So fed with typical Hindi Bollywood films or Pakistani mini-series videos, when a Bengali arty film would end, I would ask Ma - so what happened? How can they end the film here? I mean what about the logical end, you know, "and they lived happily ever after or whatever." Ma would smile and state that the director has left the end to our imagination. And I was never satisfied with that answer. So I did not really develop a taste for Bengali films until much later.

During one interesting interaction with a friend while discussing films I made a shallow remark about Bengali films in general. My friend suggested that I should see a Rituporno film. It might change my parochial views. I said that I had heard that she has acted in some good films. And you can imagine the scene. My friend kept quiet for a while trying to keep a straight face and said, “Rituporno is a man, Rituporno Ghosh and he is a director. Rituparna Sengupta is a female, an actress. Maybe you should go back to your trusted Google to enlighten yourself.” I narrated this incident at home. Baba laughed and said – “kobey manush hobi?” (When will you grow up?)

I did go back to Google and I decided to see what this ruckus about an upcoming director is? My first Rituporno film was Dahan. The movie lingered in my mind for quite a few days. I felt like watching it again. And I did. Honestly, I liked the film and everything about it. I went on to watch Bariwali and Utsab. By this time I started looking forward to watching the films and preferred to watch it alone and soak its elegance. (And I needed peace to follow the dialogues and minute nuances). I still remember it was a lazy afternoon when I sat and watched Unishe April. It was a revelation of sorts. I now started understanding the Rituporno phenomenon, his grasp of human emotions and the ease with which he managed to serve it up to his audience. I even went and bought an English translation of Chokher Bali. The book was called “A grain of sand.” I read it and then watched the film. It was mesmerizing. It was much later when I was once chatting with my parents and Ma said, “Aishwarya has acted in a Bengali film.” I said, “Yes in Chokher Bali. It was a fantastic film.” Baba looked up from the newspaper and said, “It is a Bengali film. How do you even know about it?” I smiled and said, “ektu manush hoyechi.” I told them all about the films I have been watching and about Rituporno and his amazing work. People who knew me for some time were generally surprised at my knowledge of such films. An aunty-in-law from California gave me the DVD of Shubh Muhurat. It is through this movie that I realized that Rituporno is leagues ahead of his contemporaries. He could make an engrossing film with three leading female protagonists using a theme like investigation. This is otherwise unheard of in Indian films. He deserves handsomely each and every award and recognition. Bengali films actually came of age during his watch. His films became a turning point for Tollywood like Dil Chahta Hai was for Bollywood.

Rituporno’s films had a significant influence in my life. They helped me subtly metamorphose. The impact was similar to what J.K. Rowling had on children. A whole generation of disinterested kids took up reading voraciously and it widened their horizon. The movies taught me to look at life in black, white, grey and all other colors in the spectrum. I heard about his demise during an awfully busy working day. In the evening, I spent a considerable time reading the news about him. Probably, he knew that time was running out. Chitrangada was most likely his fervent memoir. I have not seen it yet but I will. 


















There will not be another Rituporno. Thank you Rituporno, for making such wonderful films and opening up a whole undiscovered world for an ignorant me. Today, while writing this, Sony Aath is showing Abhoman. That is the word truly suited for Rituporno.



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Education World Article - "Tomorrow’s Workforce: What Students Need"

How prepared are our students of today for the skill requirement and challenges of tomorrow? Here is a perceptive little article from Education World.

Tomorrow’s Workforce: What Students Need

Young people in school today will be joining the workforce tomorrow. But are they being prepared for success in the 21st-century work environment? Education World asked experts to weigh in and identify the most important skills that students will need.
Here’s what we learned.
Image

Monday, May 13, 2013

What is going to make the Difference?



Book Review
Edward de Bono.
The Six Value Medals. The essential tools for success in the 21st Century
Vermilion, an Imprint of Ebury Publishing, Random House,  London. 2007. pp. 176, Rs. 245 (Flipkart)

The author is well known for some amazing books like How to Have a Beautiful Mind and Six Thinking Hats. In this forward-thinking book, the author has endeavored to push our thoughts towards a value-driven framework.


When businesses and commerce started gaining momentum in the 17th, 18th century; the sole focus was growth, economical progress and dominance. There was scant regard for anything else. The common tendency of past and today’s businesses is to operate and resolve issues on the way. This is true and is necessary. But the author questions that by simply operating and maintaining are we honestly exploiting our true potential or remaining stunted? He implores his readers to question what should be the true differentiating factors given all common things as constant and available equally.
Edward de Bono contends in this book that competence, information and state-of-the-art technology has become a commodity in today’s world. As a professional or as a company, these factors can be easily replicated. In such a scenario, what will be the differentiating aspect to become competitive and establish as a market leader? He suggests that in the future we will have to embed values in our thought-process and analysis and launch oneself as value-driven from all perspective.
This is a coming of age book for all of us who play various roles in personal life, in our families, organizations and society. The paradigm of conducting ourselves and doing business are changing rapidly and the solutions that will survive the test of time will have to be value-driven. It is no longer about the bottom-line but the values that steer us and our employees and stakeholders in a particular manner. If we understand them, we can come up with amazing solutions and outcome.
Values are prevalent everywhere and in all our actions whether we acknowledge it or not. It is embedded in our subconscious mind. The author’s framework of Six Value Medals highlights various areas or our lives.
·         Gold Medals - Human Values
·         Silver Medals- Organizational Values
·         Steel Medals- Quality
·         Glass Medals- Innovation and Creativity
·         Wood Medals- Effects on environment
·         Brass Medals- Perceptual Values
These values can be rated as strong, sound, weak or remote. Edward de Bono suggests that for any decision, if we follow a simple scoring method for each value, we can make solid progress in our decisions. Every project, issue, conflict, idea, change can be slotted into this framework with promising results.
What will set us apart is how we make decisions, how we choose and think, how we find solutions, how we function and interact with our customers, suppliers, lenders, employees and community. The author implores us to introspect about our values. He points out that values are often perceived as “vague” and “intangible”. And that is where this book becomes useful. It provides a framework to put this intangible factor into perspective, to understand values and assess them.
This book is a tool and not a solution in itself. It stimulates our neurons to think and think deeper and differently. The value triangle and the value map act as guides to help us analyze and assess various values and make sound decisions.

This short book is spread across 19 concise chapters making it easy to read, comprehend and retain. Chapter 3 is the heart of the book which basically explains the framework. Each of the medals is explained in specific chapters. The key lessons and pointers for analysis and implementation lie from Chapters 11 through 16.
This book is seriously recommended for business owners, middle and top managers as well entrepreneurs for personal growth and driving their organization towards a more durable and resilient future. When we start our business, rarely do we ponder about mission or vision. The first scramble is to stay afloat. As we grow and stabilize, we realize that there is a need for something “extra” to become sought after. And that extra is Values in individuals, teams or companies. The author’s larger message in this book is embedding values in how we function will ultimately enrich our society. The author has beautifully presented the tool in a short reader-friendly manner which can be effortlessly absorbed maybe over a weekend. And the reward for investing the time in reading the book will be manifold if implemented in the right spirit and intention.
If you are a budding entrepreneurial venture or an established company, a beginner in a professional career or an industry veteran – this is a must read book to enhance and enrich your work and family, to add a whole new dimension and meaning to your life.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bridging the Information and Support Gap for Indian MSMEs – MSMEMentor.in

Entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for information on managing finance, developing marketing and sales skills, understanding legal complexities and complying with statutory requirements specific to their business. Joining MSMEMentor will open them to a vast resource of skilled experts in various fields who have “been there, done that” and possess experienced hands-on skills that is priceless.

MSMEMentor.in is yet another brilliant initiative by India's dedicated development institution for MSMEs – SIDBI and National Stock Exchange. This venture is supported by PRIME which is a premier database on capital market. 
MSME players are often subjected to challenges of obtaining information, guidance and insight on macro-economic factors which can help them steer their business in the right direction. The bigger issue is the fragmented condition of India's MSME sector which creates further impediments. Thankfully due to the widespread use and availability of information technology tools and the Internet, institutions like SIDBI have managed to come up with platforms to bring the entrepreneurs and experts together to share views, discuss and create lasting solutions. The aim of MSMEMentor.in is to derive results and not just create another “informative website”.

Entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for information on managing finance, developing marketing and sales skills, understanding legal complexities and complying with statutory requirements specific to their business. Joining MSMEMentor will open them to a vast resource of skilled experts in various fields who have “been there, done that” and possess experienced hands-on skills that is priceless.

This platform also affords and opportunity for industry veterans, retired personnel, independent consultants and any professional to help newbies by mentoring them through their business incubation to maturity stage. The level of involvement can be highly specific to each enterprise thus giving the expert adequate freedom to engage and perform. On the positive side, large companies can join MSMEMentor as experts and enrich the knowledge bank as part of their CSR.