Review the review

In the recent Ashes series, the major point of talk is not about the teams but about the umpires and their follies. Many have tweeted their views as to how could the umpire miss the nick in Broad daylight, how could the hot spot camera miss the edge, etc. Unless the ICC reviews the DRS itself, these talks about the review system will continue to build up , and unfortunately without taking anyone to any logical conclusion.

Do we really need DRS ?

I vote in the affirmative. Cricket like tennis is a game where there are ‘pauses’ between the successive deliveries. DRS can fit in here, whereas it would mar the continuous action flow in sports like football. In fact we require DRS more in cricket than in games like tennis because the elements to consider are quite a few, starting from the no-ball review, position of the ball pitching, position of the ball hitting the pad, batsman nicking it or not, the height factor, direction of the ball trajectory after pitching, etc. Humans are prone to errors , more so when there are so many points to consider. So in short the BCCI who is vehemently opposing the basic premise of DRS existence, doesn’t really have anything substantial to support its stance.

Why the confusion and controversy then ?

Technology has never been cricket’s best friend, is it ? The Duckworth-Lewis method of calculating the scores and arriving at the final winner raises eyebrows more often than not. The DRS has now joined the party off late. Let me illustrate a few instances which opens the doors for these controversies.

The controversial side

The leg side has always been given a step motherly treatment in cricket. The main element of confusion is when the ball trajectory in the reviews shows the delivery making (not)just enough contact with the leg stump and the decision is left to the on-field umpire. The legendary bowler McGrath has shared reservations about this and rightly so. There have been instances where the ball was predicted to be hitting more than half inside the leg stump but the on-field umpire had originally ruled the batsman not-out. It was judged to be just clipping the bails but the umpire had declared the man out. DRS passes the responsibility back to the on field umpires in such cases and both decisions might prove wrong, in relation to one another. There has to be some uniformity in the treatment of the poor leg stump. In tennis, the ball even if it barely makes any contact with the lines, is declared as good. No arguments are entertained. Some final decision should be planned here too. Passing the buck back to the umpires defeats the purpose of going for review in the first place. DRS must give some decision: Either Out or  Not out and not keep things in the grey by passing the buck back to the originator.

Limited reviews

Someone has rightly said that the batsman in contention in the ongoing series might have walked if the Aussies had one more review left in the bag. The question is if DRS technology is present, then why should the team suffer because of some inexplicable decision of the umpires. Yes, the teams are partly to blame as they feel that any LBW decision just has to go in their favour and go for the reviews once or twice more than actually necessary. One solution for crunch of reviews in crucial situations can be granting a fixed number of reviews to the teams before the test match starts, say 4 per team per department. The teams can distribute them as per their choice in 1st-3rd innings and in 2nd-4th innings of the match. This provision wont help in ODIs but the idea is worth experimenting in tests.

Doubt in Benefit of doubt

If there are no camera angles to clearly suggest whether stumping is successful or not the verdict is ruled in favour of the batsman. Then if there were no cameras to suggest whether the ball had hit the bat on its way or not, why was the benefit of doubt not given to the batsman ? It is definitely not the batsman’s fault if the hot spot camera was found napping. There should be no doubt as to when to invoke benefit of doubt and when to not.

There are many more grey areas in various other modes of dismissal which require discussions. Technology isn’t and cannot be picture perfect. Its optimum and beneficial use is in our hands.Trade off between preserving the original essence of the natural game and elimination of human errors is needed. Over use may kill the beauty of the game, for instance every second batsman would get declared out lbw if DRS trajectory projections rules so even if the ball manages to barely make contact with any stump ! Uniformity and common sense in drafting the rules will however help reduce the number of eyebrows raised for the decisions by the DRS and help improve the falling standards of umpiring decisions.

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Tourism: A double edged sword

The recent flood fury news has been very disturbing to read and difficult to digest.Many have blamed the unchecked and haphazard construction as the main cause of nature outburst. The construction is mainly done to accommodate the growing demand of tourism in these regions, which has now in turn sadly brought more pain than relief to the entire valley.

I recently visited a famous hill station in the Himalayas (and luckily came back just before tragedy stuck). It was the beginning of the end of the season and the crowd and traffic jams over there were so huge that they would have embarrassed the ones found regularly in cities like Mumbai. The narrow roads and the sloping terrain of the Himalayas were finding it a Himalayan task to manage the tourists who had come in thousands of numbers. A person could reach a place faster walking rather than travelling in automobile !!
Good, bad or ugly , but the picture of our hilly regions has definitely gone a transformational change over the years, and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Now on the positive side what do the ever increasing number of tourists bring to any tourist spot? A huge spike in the incomes, enough to make their ends meet even in the off season.I had visited the same place 2 decades back and saw huge positive developmental changes, with plethora of branded shops and establishments flooding the market areas. Internet connectivity was also available in areas where not many years ago, telephone connections were unheard of. So yes, overall things have improved in these tourist spot regions with the growth of tourism industry over the years.

So, is the growing tourism to be blamed for the current mess? Partly yes, with garbage getting accumulated on the roads due to indifference shown by us towards the nature. But with countless hotels being constructed carelessly on slopes with loose soil, erosion was always on the cards. Power projects have also been recognized as one of the main culprits.Global warming is anyway already causing the snow to melt rapidly, adding to the velocity of the ravaging rivers.

The biggest irony is that although tourism and unregulated construction have caused pain in the valley off late, the lack of tourism for the next couple of years is going to hurt the locals as much as now, if not more. Tourism as a principal source of income will cease to exist for the time being. The huge costs for restoration of property destroyed by the floods are only going to add insult to injury for the locals, who are getting punished for really no fault of theirs.Just as the rivers are leaving no stone unturned in their path, the politicians are, as expected leaving no stone unturned in creating this a political issue and hampering rescue efforts through their worthless aerial surveys.

So what are the leanings for us from the event ? Heed the advice of the ‘real’ experts and regulate the construction and development of eco-sensitive regions. Increasing number of tourists are handled much better in other countries, including ones less developed than us. Take a leaf out of their book. Strict punishment to those polluting the environment here is a necessity. We need realistic and sincere efforts from all towards protection of the flora and fauna here else we would lose the beauty of our natural resources in the not so far future.The direct fallout of destruction of any hilly region will be the ever increasing diaspora to urban cities, a problem already so huge that we really don’t need any more means to aggravate it.

Posted in General learnings | 2 Comments

Redefining MBA

It is sad to note that not many Indian B schools figure in top business schools globally. I, myself being an “MBA” know that MBA education, atleast in India is not much more than a 2 year academic journey, very similar in style and structure to technical education, with its main (if not sole) purpose is to get admitted in a top firm offering top bucks.

I have always wondered how we can redefine MBA to enable students to truly become “Masters of Business Administration” Here are a few inputs, some of them having drawn from a few of my earlier posts.

1. Moving from specialization to generalization
In most MBA curricula, students are given a feel of all subjects/ domains in the first year and later they choose subjects of a domain of their liking. This is exactly opposite to a person’s career path. He generally moves from a specific domain/department in the initial days, later to assume a more generalist, managerial role as he climbs up the ladder. He is the pseudo HR manager for his team/ function. So, to reflect this flow, why not reverse the flow of MBA curriculum? To make matters more interesting, let second year students of specialisations say A, B and C study subjects of specialisation D along with those first year students who have chosen D as their branch. This will ensure fairness and healthier competition among students across the two years.  I have provided a detailed note at one of my posts at Case for change in MBA course flow

2. The “Real” MBA subjects.
With the advance in Internet and mobile technology, access to technical knowledge is too easy and doesn’t really require a MBA teacher to deliver it. There are a few subjects which currently are treated as complimentary ones, but need to be given top slots in the ladder of importance
a) Self management
You cannot manage a business if you can’t manage oneself. Here is where subjects dealing with personality, self development and behavior, anger management, crisis management, one’s behavior in organisation need to be given high priority.

b) Strategy
This is one of the most misused words in MBA education. No one really knows its real meaning but everybody wants to talk about it. To give students a good dose of strategy, show them the complete series of the greatest epic “Mahabharat” which is full of plots and strategic moves. In fact its main character Lord Krishna is the best strategist, crisis manager and street smart person known to us. I am sure all will learn about strategy much better than they can through powerpoint presentations and flowcharts.

c) Languages
Learning of foreign language: Help grow business in new frontiers across the globe and regional language : To be able to communicate with local allied partners better are as important as other technical gyaan

d) Some other important subjects like Business Law: Know your rights and restrictions and Yoga/ gym workouts: To keep you mentally and physically fit, Disaster Management: To be able to protect oneself and all around  us in case of any unpleasant situation, etc are as important, if not more.

3. Guest lectures
These have been reduced just to another formal exercise and 2 hours of sleep amongst students. You really cannot learn much about business through hi-fi talk in 2 hours. Better would be to invite personnel known to us better in our day to day lives such as the food caterer: One who manages food arrangement for over 500 guests, minimising costs, maximising consumer satisfaction, etc or infact even someone like a pilot who deals with stress much more and better than us. I have detailed this thought at one of my earlier posts The real management gurus

Traditional way of class room lectures need to be seriously re-looked at when it comes to MBA. Case-studies, group interactions which are right now treated as a supplement need to be brought in the forefront. A person’s thought process should have undergone a change at the end of MBA, something which doesn’t happen at undergrad courses.The course should aim at all round development of an individual and if required reserve marks for the extra-curricular activities also. Through these and through a lot many more such simplistic ideas, we can make MBA education much more meaningful and help the seekers (I am not referring them as students) gain out of it better to help make their businesses more successful.

Posted in General learnings | 20 Comments

The Hawk Eye

Recently, for the first time in more than half a century, the bustling vegetable market near my place of residence wore a deserted look. Reason: It had just been a ‘victim’ of a raid against all illegal hawkers, carried out by the Hawk(er) Eye specialist of Mumbai. I write here to describe the mixed reactions of people to this cleanliness drive.

The common man have always talked in support of the demolition man whenever he raided the parties of the biggies. Intrinsically and physiologically ,we feel good (about ourselves) whenever some illegal activities by the super rich and Almighty are brought to task. After all , in a fight involving the powerful and any other individual, the former just has to be perceived wrong. We even equated the demolition man to the super cop which every actor is now possessed to play on the silver screen and thought that at least there is some cop who does something visibly good for the common man. All his deeds were seen as good since they did the common man no particular harm and only added a topic for discussion amongst us, apart from cricket and corruption.

Now, one fine day or rather night, he marshaled his troops and pulled down temporary establishments of all the hawkers ,who as per the law were occupying the market place illegally. The very first reaction from us was that it served the hawkers well for illegal occupying public property. Things did turn sour from the consumer point of view though. The permanent establishments and legal hawkers protested against the drive by shutting shop. Things were no longer amusing when there was not a single gram of vegetable in one of the biggest vegetable markets of Mumbai for more than a week. Not everyone was complaining though. Small centres involved in home delivery of vegetables and nearby super markets saw their businesses grow multiple times in a week’s span. Politicians, as usual got an opportunity of trading charges and fighting over the transfer orders of the Man of the Moment. Media also threw its hat in the ring by sensalising the death of a hawker by equating it to the death of his daughter, the latter caused by natural reasons and not circumstantial ones.
Now, since we were getting affected, we the common man revised our opinions about our good man to suit us. We opinionated that although the drive against illegal encroachments is not bad, still some restraint must be shown, especially while dealing with poor hawkers who struggle to make two ends meet. Nobody has the right to snatch away their only source of living.  Suddenly, the compassion and humanity inside us woke up !!! Some questioned why doesn’t the ‘Adharsh‘ cop go after other huge illegal towers constructed in our city and target only the helpless and powerless. In general,  people supported the reinstatement of Mr. Clean, but with caveats of their own. After all these events, somewhere I feel we need to accuse ourselves of double-standards and hypocrisy  Cleanliness, goodness is good only till it doesn’t affect us. Any good intentioned individual is only good till the point he directly or indirectly does no harm to us….

It is true that the city needs many more Mr. Cleans but unfortunately they always face the music eventually and we are partly and indirectly to blame for the same. There are far too many illegal
activities on at the moment to put on paper. The need of the hour is to publish clear, concise guidelines and rules enlisting legal and illegal activities. Application of the rules should be uniform across sections, power, hierarchy without any caveats. The demolition men need to be rewarded bot reprimanded. In this process, if we as a common man suffer or are inconvenienced a bit, so be it. As a Hindi proverb says ‘Kuch paane ke liye kuch khona padega‘. To achieve a city with a visibly cleaner image, there cannot be any ifs and buts while cleaning up the dirty things. Yes, at the same time it should not look like the drive is politically motivated nor the use of force turn ugly at any time, else the entire purpose of drive against illegality will get defeated in the first place.

Posted in General learnings | 1 Comment

The 4 Ps of reaction

The week has seen plethora of news related to the plight of the ‘allegedly’ ‘weaker’ gender.a Almost everyone has thrown his hat in the ring while expressing their individual opinions be it on TV , on social networking sites or physically on the roads leading to the residences of the Almighty of Indian politics. These reactions can be broadly classified into 4 main Ps, a term derived from the marketing class.

Politicians

The have earned Phd degrees in 4D technology: Dissociate, Divert , Deny, Declare . At first sight , they rubbish off any event, be it an assault or terror attack as just one of the many things and question the motives of the protests against the incident. On seeing the public anger growing beyond control, they somehow try to divert the attention from the root cause of the protests. This time, the top man’s son took the honours from the usual ‘experts in garbage speaking’. He painted a wonderful picture of the government’s attitude and managed to dent and divert the real motive behind the protests to some extent. Politicians then denied that the move to move the victim out of India was not political in nature. After her sad death, both the government and the opposition leaders then demonstrated extreme remorse and as expected announced some cosmetic changes to ‘improve’ the situation. Even a 4 year kid will know that these wont make any structural changes in the system. Unfortunately for us, the government knows that we , harmless Indians cannot do anything more apart from just demanding and hence they really don’t need to do anything great or spectacular. It will be business as usual for them sooner or later.

People

Less than 1% of the total population actually took to the streets protesting the crime. Rest of us, at maximum used social media to vent our anger and making our own suggestions towards improvement of the system. Due to an unfortunate combination of lack of power and a too busy life to care for other things , we really cannot do anything more than this. But the real  unfortunate part is that the celebrities also did preciously nothing more than candle light marches and posting flowery language tweets. At minimum they can read this and bring about some changes in the films they produce. We all suffer from short term memory loss and unfortunately but most probably the burning torch will lose its fuel and remain at best a dim candle as time passes away.

Programmes on news channels

I have never been an advocate of news channels debates. They neither discuss or deliver anything concrete. Anyone fond of shouting should go to Parliament and not news studios. The very fact that they run day long high voltage programmes on sad events shows that they are really just making hay while the sun is shining bright , at the end of the day. In all probability, they will turn to another star who shines brighter and when this ‘star’ fades away eventually with passage of time. If they really want to bring any change in the system, come together and with the help of real experts propose a draft of systemic changes and publish them in public forum. The best thing that the media can do is to keep the issue burning and not let it slip by amidst some other upcoming meager issues like IPL, bollywood masala news, etc, etc

Police

They are like the school principals; Answerable to all the above Ps and always appear to serve as the ones on whom the buck of (ir)responsibility can be passed to. Although they really cannot be excused for inaction on their part, everyone will agree that they are, to a large extent controlled by the politicians . This explains the amusement on the face of the commissioner of police on talks of he claiming responsibility and resigning in the face of the sad event. It is the government who really has to make laws to ensure enough police protection to the general public. Again, cosmetic changes like having women cops at all stations may not really make a big difference.

Each one of us reacts and responds to such events as per one’s capacity, power and position in society. The need is to really try to do something more than what is primarily defined and set for our roles. This should ideally be started in the top-to-down hierarchy of power and influence, to bring about some concrete changes towards the betterment of the society we live in.

Posted in General learnings, The Political Circus | 1 Comment

Take a leaf out of…

With England, New Zealand, WI and South Africa doing well on foreign soil and the news of retirements , both announced ones and expected to be announced ones, Test cricket has once again found a lot of mention in the sports columns these days. Still , the advent of fast cricket has spell doom for this long format. The recent cosmetic recommendations by the top body haven’t done anything great to revive it. I was able to find quite a few rules present in other more internationally acclaimed sports which if applied here, with a few adjustments, might help sustain interest in test cricket.

Replacements

A football team can replace upto 3 players in the playing 11 in the second half. This helps the team to change its composition in view of the changing dynamics of the match. It can be adopted in test cricket too, with each team having opportunity to replace , say 2 players in second innings i.e. before the 3rd innings of the match. But a batsman can be replaced only by a bowler and vice-versa. A player who struggled in the first set of innings cannot be replaced by another player with a similar ‘job profile’ i.e. bat/bowl in the last 2 innings.All rounders and wicket-keepers cannot be replaced. We can add a few twists also: If a team that conceded lead in the first innings opts for a replacement, then the other team which took the lead can then ask any one of the remaining 10 players of the other team also to be replaced , albeit with a few restrictions. Also teams often deploy substitutes during fielding to replace slow moving fielders. Such temporary replacements only for fielding purposes should not be allowed. Substitutions , just like in football, can only be permanent for that game.At the same time care needs to be taken not to make the replacement rules too complicated or provide teams with loop holes to exploit the situation.

Umpire decision review

Only GOD and ICC can tell why is DRS not used much. If the big daddy BCCI is opposed to it , let them be; Remember they were opposing T20 cricket also once upon a time… Here we can take a cue from tennis. After scores are leveled at 6-6 games all in the final set , the number of reviews get reset to 3 per player. Similarly here for a team that manages to bat beyond 90 overs, the number of reviews can be reset to 3. On the other hand the team which manages to bowl out the opponent in less than a fixed number of overs , say 60 in 1 innings, can be granted an additional review in any one of the remaining innings.

(No) offence 

A player found guilty of any offence can be given a ‘yellow card’ or ‘red card’ based on the seriousness of the offence. A batsman or a bowler with a ‘yellow card’ cannot play in  that second innings in which his team bats or bowls respectively. A second yellow card  means game over for him. A red-carded player cannot play in any of the next innings. The concerned team can then field only 10 players for the remaining innings. For a team as a whole, we can also have rules similar to that in Formula 1 wherein an offender is given a 20-second penalty. Here the team can be deducted 20 runs in the next innings it bats or the opposition team is granted 20 additional runs in the innings in which offending team bowls. The penalty for an offence in the second innings can be carried forward to the next test match. In this way all the team members are penalised and not just the team’s captain.

The aim is to make the rules of test cricket somewhat different from other fast modes of cricket so that there is some renewed interest in watching the otherwise long and boring form of cricket.

Posted in Gentleman's game, Other sports | Leave a comment

The great online struggle

With the online processes making inroads in our country, we do have come a long way, doing away with scores of offline painstaking processes. Ticket booking, recharge of devices, status tracking, shopping couldn’t have been simpler  Still, just like in our Hindi movies, a lot is left to be desired with the online stuff. In some areas, it has proved to be a double edged sword, thanks to some of our Stone-Age irrational laws, negligible development of associated fields & thoughtless migration of processes from offline to online mode.

Solve other problems first

We need to understand that after going online, our problems will not get solved overnight. Common sense needs to prevail and precede before we make things online.

The admission circus
The online admission process was supposed to make things simpler, wasn’t it ? Not really. 2 problems still exist. First, we need to understand that students don’t just reside in Tier I/II cities but scores of them reside in villages, wherein continuous electricity supply still remains a dream. Nobody can really expect all of them to fill up online marathon forms. No clear-cut guidelines and all form fields getting reset all of a sudden if power/internet breaks down in between, only add to the woes. Centres to help students in filling up the form are too far and too few. The rudeness, reluctance, lack of sufficient knowledge of staff over there is a different story altogether. Smartphones also cannot be used as they are still costlier, short battery life is a well-known problem, government is too reluctant to develop admission related apps and anyway we Indians still prefer laptop/desktop over phone for doing important transactions. As a result, people remain a little wary when it comes to online admission process. Entrance exams like CAT are doing reasonably well after going online, but the uncertainty over the fate of half filled answer paper before electricity/ internet calls it a day is a much bigger concern there.
Secondly, the admission process is really not online. Only 2 modules: Filling up the form and status checking are online. A process in which students still have to stand in serpentine queues for multiple checks of the same set of documents , cannot really be called online. There is huge scope for optimization here, without compromising on quality of background checks. This applies not just to admission , but also to application of passport,bank account and host of other government id proofs.

Independent but not mutually exclusive.
For a married woman, changing the surname on all id proofs is a Herculean task. Agencies issuing passport, driving license, PAN card, ration card, voter id card, bank accounts, mutual fund/insurance schemes work independently of each other. To add to it, at any agency, 4-5 documents are required. As of now, no one document has authority to establish a person’s identity beyond doubt. If say 4 agencies accept the proofs issued by other 3, then mistake by any one of them will percolate to others and the very purpose of detailed, painful offline background check is anyway lost !! Some part of some of these processes may be online , but there is no use when a person still has to anyway run from pillar to post for each…

The side-effects

Daily I receive a handful of emails from unknown marketing firms marketing all products from homes to cockroach killers. I myself don’t know how many people in this world know my email id, mobile number, postal address & other details shared by me knowingly or unknowingly on plethora of online sites. Transparency is a big concern not just to social networking sites but to other websites as well. Each person needs to have copyright on his online profile. Yes, each site has some sort of disclaimer policies in place (We anyway have no choice but to “Accept” them before proceeding ahead), but we really don’t know whether our profile is being misused or not…

Perennial problems like electricity supply will not be solved in the near future. Irrational application processes and problems due to lack of proper migration plan are created by us. Security and transparency concerns while online need to be addressed to satisfactorily. All these niggling issues need to be tackled first before we really become digital, in the true sense of the term. Else, the perception towards online usage will not undergo a changeover as much as desired.

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Good, but not good enough

India’s official entry for Oscars was announced and the honours went to the recently released movie Barfi. The movie has received rave reviews from all over and could well deserve to be selected for Oscars. Yet, the question remains whether it is good enough to beat hundreds of other entries & get us that coveted Oscar, which has always eluded us.

India has struggled to make a mark at the big Os: Oscars & Olympics. We have finally managed to make some mark of a sort at the latter. The former one remains a challenge. Many Indian movies have, in recent times grossed more than 100 crores, but when it comes to comparison with foreign films, they have struggled. This is quite similar to India witnessing huge success in its domestic tournament IPL, creating quite a few ‘stars’ but unable to produce them in sufficient numbers at the international scene, especially in the bowling department…Coming back to the official entry for Oscars, why would it win the award for the best foreign language film in the entire world ? What is the film’s USP ? Great Cinematography ? No… Good portrayal of handicap of dumbness, deafness & autism ? No, there have been better films made highlighting these areas. Good, sweet movie with a feel good factor ? Not enough to be recognised as the best in the business….With only 3 of our films making it to top 5 of the Oscars till date, in all probability this one too will bite the dust. It may end up yet again to be nothing more than andhon mein kaana raja in the shortlist of Indian films considered for the Oscars. Yet again , the talks that lack of Oscar donot degrade the quality of any film will emerge,  but they will only prove nothing more than a consolation for us.

Question is do we really care if we receive Oscars or not, when films like Rowdy Rathore, ETT, bodyguard are able to make tons of money ? Similar question to do we really care to be world T20 champions when IPL is bringing in all the required moolah ? Probably no. Do the producers-directors here have the capacity to make extra-ordinary films ? Probably yes.. I have already highlighted problems with Indian films in my earlier post, Indian films and their problems. I strongly feel India should refrain from sending any entry to the Oscars unless it is a path breaking one. Even considering films like GoW, Ferrari ki sawari, heroine for its official entry for the world’s best film tells us that India is still far away from making world-class films. There is no need of completing any formality by compulsorily sending some film to the Oscars. You cannot really sell a scooter when there are high class bikes to choose from. Without taking any credit away from the beautiful film Barfi , I feel our films just don’t have the firepower & the X-factor to make it to the top, atleast as of now. Our films can change it all, provided our film makers show enough killing instinct & break traditional barriers. Simply having a foreign production house on board wont dramatically change anything. The age-old copy-cat tendency needs to be replaced by strong originality & creativity ( There are a lot of articles coming up, mentioning countless scenes of barfi being copied from here & there). All this dramatic change will take time. Till then, wishing all the best to our official entry for Oscars and also parallely all the best wishes to the Indian team especially with its batsman friendly bowling attack. Hope both make inroads into the respective competition they are part of.

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Cricket, government & ‘other’ sports

The grand Olympics 2012 have come to an end & Indian contingent returns home with a Sixer. On a relative scale, there has been a definite paradigm shift, not only in our performance at Olympics but also in the mindset & perceptions of all of us for these ‘ other’ sports. Let us see how & why this change actually happened.

Overdose: Blessing in disguise

Many people attribute the low popularity of other games to the craziness towards cricket. Ironically, the same game through some self destruction has helped people take more notice of other games. BCCI guys has definitely not learnt the Economics Law of Marginal Utility: Too much of anything causes more harm than good. For how long will India keep on playing nonsensical bi-series matches with our cash strapped neighbors ? What is the purpose of having a packed schedule of matches hoping that stands will continue to remain packed with spectators? Continuous matches one after the other have caused even die-hard cricket fans to move away from the game & take notice of other sports. More people watched our boxers, wrestlers battle it out rather than getting glued to the ongoing India-SL series. 10 years back this would not have been the case. On the penultimate day of the Olympics, social media sites got flooded with tweets & posts the moment one of our wrestlers won the bronze. This is definitely a welcome change in our perceptions.

Stopped blaming cricket & government

I have read about many players complaining that cricket has killed their sport & even the government is doing preciously little towards the development of their sport. Infact the government is fond of creating hurdle races by persisting with dark age rules related to visa for foreign trainers, sports infrastructure development, etc Well, the situation may not change much in the near future but the players & ex-players realised that they have to live with the system instead of hoping for it to change. Accordingly a few former players came together to form a non-profit organisations to help Indian sportsmen. They did the smart thing: Let the sports persons do what they are best at–Play their game & they took care of everything else: Tackling the never ending obstacle races created by Government formalities, on behalf of the sportsmen. Although still in their preliminary stages, positive results have started to show as a result of their efforts.

Colour matters

For a country perennially starved of medals, a bronze medal winner apologizing to the country for not winning a gold or silver is a real shot in the arm for us. The statements in the media did include ones like ” One step away from final”, ” One step away from gold” & not just ” Assured of silver” or ” Assured of a medal” Finally India may have started to believe that we can be the best and actually aim at gold and not just a medal in all the games we participate.

What Next ???

We Indians seem to get complacent more often than not. This performance is just the first positive step towards building a sports culture. We are still way off the radar when it comes to comparing our absolute performance with that of other countries, some much smaller than us. Government has to play a much bigger role apart from just awarding the winners & offering positions to them. They have to invest in the process of development of a solid sports culture right from school level. We ourselves need to encourage such sportsmen in whatever small way we can to hope that India gets recognized in sport events apart from just the gentleman’s game.

Posted in General learnings, Other sports | Leave a comment

All grasshoppers, no ants

Last week witnessed a very sad incident when a fire devastated 4 floors of the Mantralaya, with around half a dozen people and countless documents succumbing to it. A section of the office of the Home Ministry also went up in flames, just a couple of days after this incident.A newspaper reports revealed that another iconic building of the BMC is already sitting on a fire bomb.  There could be many other establishments , which GOD forbid, may meet with the same fate sooner or later. HereI don’t wish to focus on sabotage theories surrounding us at the moment, but more on our preparedness for such disasters or infact lack of it.

Every organisation has in place policies , guidelines for action in case of any unforeseen incident strikes. However, in most of them, it is merely on paper and at maximum is just included in induction programs. “Mock” drills are nothing more than a mockery. They are generally conducted on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings as the output & motivation levels  at these times are anyway less. In addition people once having once reached downstairs take their own sweet time to finish off their roadside tea, snacks, smoking a cigarette and go back to their desks to resume work. So, productivity loss resulting from such a drill exercise is minimized. The facts that everyone is well informed about the drill in advance and everyone casually makes it to the ground after the siren is sounded add to the futility of such exercises. The ideal drill is the one in which nobody is informed about the drill in advance and actually is conducted during peak business hours. Employees who take it casually by finishing off the work at hand, cause delay in leaving the desks,use the lifts, taking their own sweet time to come down amidst chit-chat should be taken to task. Care must also be taken to ensure that drills are not treated as shepherd boy’s false alarms.
One such unforgettable , invaluable benefit of regular mock drills lie in the heroics of late Rick Rescorla, security director at Morgan Stanley. See how he saved 2500+ lives in 9/11 tragedyThere is absolutely no harm in having a Rick Rescorla in every organisation so that the loss arising out of any unfortunate events can be minimised.

However, the main point is why do we tend to neglect the need to prepare ourselves against disasters ? There can be many plausible explanations. I will focus on our thinking and perceptions. Such incidents occur once in a blue moon. Say out of 1000 establishments with identified vulnerabilities of different severity, less than 10 actually meet such a fate over a period of say 5 years. Probability of any 1 establishment actually suffering in a single year is thus less than 0.02%. Adding the plausible improbability of any one particular individual being at the wrong place at the wrong time further subtracts the probability of that single individual actually being a victim in a fire or related disasters. Now arise 2 subbranches explaining  why the need for preparedness gets ignored:
1) The feeling, ” I cannot be that unlucky to fall in that unlucky 0.01% category. If I do actually have so much tough luck and actually fall in that 0.01% category, no matter what I do, the fate is registered. ” Complacency is the root cause of our ill preparedness. In normal days, arguably, we do have huge faith, unknown to us, in the Almighty, tend to rely on Him to bail us out and tend to live today to die another day.
2) We always have the tendency to focus on things which need immediate attention and put things not requiring immediate attention &/or having low probabilities of occurrence, at the back of priority list. Experience tells us that people get caught up so much in day to day operational level activities so much so that the things put at the back remain at the back. When they actually decide to come in the forefront, we need to fight fire with fire.

All have studied that presence of mind can go a long way in minimizing damage, be better safe than sorry, etc in our school books. Time to implement it in daily lives. Disaster management course has been made compulsory in some Universities. Need has come to have a comprehensive course providing sufficient practical training to all. Organisations must be communicated to have at least 5-10% of staff fully trained in disaster management skills and every employee having received atleast theoretical disaster management training . Mock drills need to go beyond mockery. Believe me, achieving these targets are not at all a Herculean task. History has told us that many battles have been lost not because of the might of the enemy outside, but because of foolishness and lack of presence of mind from the vanquished. Enemies in the form of natural and man-made disasters don’t seek our appointment while striking. There is definitely a limit to which we can defend ourselves. But by being prepared and applying a little presence of mind can go a long way in defeating the purpose of the enemy. We need to do something ourselves also apart from just relying on the Almighty !

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