Archive for the ‘Bravery’ Category

Made In India

September 25, 2009

By Navi Rajdou
Navi Radjou is the Executive Director of the Center for India & Global Business at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. The Center brings together business, academic and policy leaders and young people from around the world eager to shape India’s leading role in the global knowledge economy. Previously, Navi was a vice president at Forrester Research, where he led the firm’s analysis of how globalized innovation is driving new collaborative market structures and organizational models. Navi is an Indian-born French national and is based in Cambridge, UK.

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Made in India

Is demography destiny? I used to believe so. But these days, I think that depends on how a country leverages its human capital. Merely boasting a big population doesn’t confer superpower status to a nation. The quality of its human capital must match its quantity. This hard truth is finally sinking in among Indian politicians and corporate captains.
Recently, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that India is projected to provide 500 million workers — a quarter of the world’s total work force — within a decade. Indeed, by 2020, the average working age is projected to be 60+ in both US and Europe, 45 in China, and merely 29 in India!
But Mr. Singh was quick to point out that without proper education and training, the majority of these potential workers won’t be “employable” by either public or private sector firms. In a country where half of the 1.1 billion population today is below 25, Indian politicians are finally waking up to the employability and talent challenges facing the Indian youth.
India’s explosive economic growth is fueling demand across industries, ranging from IT to manufacturing to retail, for a huge number of skilled professionals. Unfortunately, while India produces over 3 million graduates each year, the percentage of those graduates that are employable by the industry is fairly low. Two studies, one by McKinsey & Company and another by Duke University, showed that fewer than 25% of the 500,000 engineers graduating in India are of comparable quality to the 70,000 engineers produced in the US — and therefore “employable” by the industry.
Aware of this challenge, the Indian government is collaborating with the National Knowledge Commission to unleash the country’s human potential by, for instance, opening more IITs and IIMs and imparting “soft skills” to young workers. Unfortunately most of these initiatives take a quantitative approach that merely aims to improve the supply-side of the Indian labor market. I personally think that the issue (and therefore the solution) lies on the demand-side, and requires a qualitative solution as well.
Why? Because employability is only half the problem. Even if they do find qualified workers, companies can’t take their Indian employees’ loyalty for granted: attrition rates in Western IT providers’ Indian offices run as high as 50%, due to lack of engagement by their employees. In a global workforce study conducted by Towers Perrin, a whopping 56% of Indian employees said that they feel disengaged at work – the highest percentage among all countries surveyed. These disgruntled Indian employees feel a big disconnect between their personal aspirations and their day-to-day professional activities.
This disconnect results from the fact that while young Indians are attending colleges (let alone high schools) neither their parents nor the educational institutions pay attention to their individual talents and career aspirations, and help tie them to the skills needed to be successful in an organization. This paucity of attention later results in high employee attrition which hurts Indian industries’ ability to sustain growth and build globally competitive and adaptable workforce.
However resourceful it might be, the Indian government can’t afford to take a top-down approach to igniting and coaching the minds of the 550 million-strong Indian youth. It needs to enroll the help of creative entrepreneurs worldwide to accomplish that mighty goal.
Fortunately, some entrepreneurs are already responding to this call. Take Dr. Ravishankar (Ravi) Gundlapalli, whom I recently met in San Francisco. After 12 years of working as a supply chain professional (Ravi has a Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics), Ravi decided to become an entrepreneur in the education sector with a global mission. Ravi told me that his passion for teaching and education goes back to his own high school days in Chennai, when he learned Tamil to teach mathematics and physics to his fellow students from Southeast Asia who had difficulty understanding concepts taught in English at school.
Ravi’s extensive field research in India with individual students, colleges, employers, and trade associations shows that most of the 3 million graduates that India produces each year are not receiving adequate career-based education and orientation. So Ravi is launching a new startup, Turning Point Global (TPG), which aims to address the employability and talent management issues faced by the Indian economy.
TPG’s vision is to “ignite the Indian students’ minds” with career planning and career success principles that are aligned with the students’ own genius and career aspirations. By engaging with Indian students while they are still in college, TPG plans to make them career-ready by the time they embark on their first job, armed with relevant functional, behavioral, and career success skills. TPG has many other innovative ideas to ensure that these students continue to maintain clarity of self and clarity of career, and in the process help reduce employee disengagement and attrition in the industry.
Ravi also told me about former president of India Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Prof. Sudershan Acharya’s Lead India 2020 youth national movement, and how his vision for TPG is synergistic with that of Dr. Kalam’s, which is to ignite the minds of 550 million youth of India and transform them into employable human resources with strong leadership and human values.
I was moved when Ravi described how he is currently “igniting” the mind of a blind but super-bright Indian student, whom he met through Lead India 2020. This blind student received a youth leadership and outstanding scholars

Small & Silent is also work . Charity doesn’t beg for recognition, But at least once in a while, shouldn’t they be mentioned at least ?????.

April 13, 2009

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love” —Martin Luther King,

There are hundreds and thousands of silent workers the unsung heroes with limited or no resources working under great adversity with just grit determination & self less zeal as their tools. They are all around us, but, we fail to notice. Unfortunately we tend to look for brand equity to serve or associate with a development project.

I am happy to enumerate at least two examples of individuals or group of individuals working tirelessly to bring about transformation in the living standards of the populace& sacrificed their lives to save precious lives. Names of the individuals and groups have been deliberately blanked out so that the focus remains on the work and impact.

Live bombs do not deter this man from his commitment to save innocent lives.

Panna Lal ,who saved hundreds by defusing bombs ,dies unheard, unsung
Braver than film heroes, in real life
There were no official words of condolence nor were any wreaths laid as the body of “Chacha Bomb Squad” was consigned to the flames.(cremated)

The exploits of unsung hero , Panna Lal , or “Chacha Bomb Squad” as he was popularly known among his former colleagues in the Punjab police, will not find mention either in history books or in the numerous books written on terrorism in Punjab. However, those who worked with Chacha still carry vivid memories of this lean man bending over a live bomb and studying for some time before snapping at the circuit of the device in order to defuse it.

When bomb explosions by terrorists were a common occurrence in this Punjab state in India, the one member bomb squad of Chacha helped save hundreds of lives by defusing the devices. Panna Lal must have defused at least a dozen bombs hidden by terrorists in the busy lanes and by-lanes, in vehicles and in trains. But he received no laurels for these acts except for the occasional letter of appreciation.

The services of Chacha, Who had retired as a subhedar from the army, were sought by the Punjab police in the late 1980s as the department was hampered by the lack of a bomb disposal expert here .He rejoined the police in 1989 as a special police officer (SPO) and left the organization three years, let down by the attitude of his superiors who were always on the looked for an opportunity to berate him.

At the height of terrorism when unidentified objects were detected, the wireless sets would frequently blare “Chacha Bomb Squad come here quickly”. Shopkeepers of the busy area in a Punjab town in India cannot forget that fateful day in 1991, when disposing a bomb in pouring rain,he himself sustained injuries which led to his arm being partially disabled .
Due to his army background, Chacha could handle complex bomb circuits as he proved in 1992 when he defused a bomb planted in a compartment of the Frontier Mail minutes before it was to explode.

But recognition eluded him .For all his acts of courage, Chacha’s name was never considered for any bravery award and neither was he compensated for his medical bills.

Senior police officers often took the credit for any bomb that Chacha defused .On the plea of certain well-meaning local citizens however, Chacha’s name was forwarded to the state home department for the shaurya chakra but his file continues to gather dust in the department.

Note .
Chacha – means uncle (father’s brother elders are fondly addressed like that)
Shaurya Chakra It is a gallantry award instituted by the government of India

How Grit determination & perseverance pays for james, and his community

James ( name changed) is a 47-year-old Bolivian with a wife and eight children. He is a skilled, gifted leader and tenacious about seeking solutions – solutions not only for himself and his community of Jatun Pampa, but for his children as well.

He knew something had to change. Once, the rain and sun provided good growth of crops and residents maintained their families on crop income. But lately, they were besieged with drought, and then flooding. They had little rain, new growth dried up, there was ice in the summer, and strong winds blew where trees once stood. It was the result of natural disasters, the need for firewood and climate change.
Making the Connection
Residents agreed it was a problem, but felt alone or resigned to their struggle. So James travelled to Wayrapata, Bolivia, where an International organisation was working with another group. James was persistent in requesting a facilitator come to his community and soon after, he was in Jatun Pampa.
“Trees neutralize the strong winds,” James explained to Marc, the facilitator. “They hold the ground from erosion. We call the trees the lungs of the earth because they restore and replenish it. And when the ground is not eroded, we can also plant gardens.”
Through the process of authentic participation, a community group was organized of 16 families. Which acquired small trees from a Bolivian forestry organization. But the trees were delivered to the valley and had to be transported by donkeys because the mountain road was not maintained. It was difficult work, and after planting the tiny saplings, many were eaten by animals.
So the community group petitioned the government for a better road and, once built, 9000 pine trees were delivered to the top of the mountain and 18 acres of the Jatun Pampa village were reforested with new trees.
Families then sought seeds for vegetables and apple trees for their gardens.
Now, after only a year, the trees have stopped erosion down the mountain, helping even the vegetable gardens to succeed. There is a surplus beyond feeding families, and vegetables are sold in nearby communities.
The greatest growth
But the greatest outcome of planting the trees has been on the children.
“I planted a pine tree with my children,” one mother says. “And I believe they will continue planting trees when they are older.”
“My children take the initiative to care for our trees. They are the first ones motivated to give new ideas, too,” another says.
“When I was a child, we didn’t have gardens and I didn’t know how to plant,” a proud mother says, “But my son Rodrigo is eating fresh vegetables and already knows how to plant. It is a good thing.”
And James, who helped to initiate the transformation in his village? He just smiles and watches his own children watering the trees.
This recession, has however brought a welcome change in the mindset of the people, It seems to have nudged the pendulum a bit in the other direction. Incredible acts of generosity are occurring — often between complete strangers. Helpful communities and support initiatives have sprung up on social networks with people freely offering time, advice and encouragement to get others through difficult periods or job searches. Individuals are engaging in volunteer work.
I realize that the giver also derives benefits — both karmic and tangible. I do my share of charity, but that has to remain anonymous for the present. I hope this article will motivate people to do their bit, within their resources to impact a few lives.

Best Wishes,
Shyamsunder Panchavati