Friday, April 24, 2009

Award , Reward and Complete Disaster



Very plainly put, awards are recognition under reward schemes.

It is commonly believed in the corporate world that whatever you reward, you get more of that and so, usually corporates implement various reward and recognition schemes, to encourage high performance in desired business parameters and award a selected few to send out a positive message.

My intention here is not at all to argue out a case in favour of or against this idea ; nor to judge the merits of the modalities/tools commonly used under these reward schemes to select the “ Best of the Pack ” / Best Performers as against the others who do not get selected despite playing as well or even much better.

[Honestly, if I am asked to take a view, I would rather be in favour of the idea of at least having some reward schemes and giving public recognition to some, and keep on streamlining the schemes based on actual experience, rather than not recognising anyone out of the fear that the scheme is not full-proof to pick up the real best. Actually what matters and can serve the real purpose behind these awards is that everyone should appreciate that these awards are more symbolic in nature and meant to send out a positive message that your organisation is committed to high performance and your contribution is getting noticed at the higher levels.

So, rock on … !

It boomerangs the moment it is claimed that the award winners are the best ones and all others are non- or lesser performers. By its very nature, the playing field in a widely spread-out service organisation, strictly speaking, can never be truly equal and there are not yet tangible measures to evaluate the pure individual contributions of a single person to the results emanating necessarily from team play. But yet, there is no denying the fact that the award winners are definitely high performers and there is no denying the fact that leadership does make a difference to the quality of teamplay: an average team can do wonders under effective leadership; while an excellent team may turn mediocre under poor leadership. Hence, the awards are necessary to spread the right message !!]

Apart from the corporate message regarding visibility of the high performers, there is another important dimension to an ‘award’ and that is : award is basically a public recognition of your merit and hence, it sort of demands greater work with higher commitment and greater excellence ! Ordinarily, awards are expected to enthuse the winners to move to a higher orbit of performance. Check out if that is happening or not; if yes, your reward schemes are a huge success. After all, the best index of success is its longevity.


Perhaps the most crucial dimension that distinguishes reward from award is that while award is a public recognition that you get for doing something well, reward is an inner feeling of becoming by doing something well.

While awards expect or demand that the winner should move on to a higher plane, reward drives from within and automatically propels the person to a higher orbit of performance.

Nothing more apt could have been said than what Emerson observes about reward :

“The reward for a good job done is having done it well”.

Because, having done a good job, you feel a unique uplifting sense of satisfaction and inner drive for doing still better, irrespective of whether others in the gallery are watching you or not.

To some extent, awards also propel and generate inner drive for higher performance; but there is a great risk of its turning out to be transient, as it draws its sustenance from recognition from others : next time, if despite giving a dazzling performance, you do not get the award, there is a big possibility that it demotivates you more than the award motivated you the first time.

A Complete Disaster

My hubby got the most coveted Award of his Bank ( Best Regional Manager) for two years consecutively ( although it is called Best RM award, about 30 odd Regional Managers were winners of this award and for 2007-08, my hubby was positioned at number one). It is customary in our Bank to felicitate the awardees, along with their spouses to publicly acknowledge the significance of family support behind the high achievers ( that’s really sweet ! ).

On 18th of this month, I accompanied my hubby to Mumbai for a felicitation of all the Best Regional Managers and Best Branch Managers – all with their spouses – felicitation at the hands of none other than the Chairman. It was a scintillating function organised in the garden of Chairman’s residence ( which has been awarded the Best Residential Garden of Mumbai by BMC this year).

Chairman’s speech was crisp n enlightening – which was followed by giving away of awards, photo sessions, experience sharing by some awardees. Names were called out randomly for experience sharing and our turn did not come ! To be honest, I thought my hubby would definitely get a chance to speak – I was also sort of prepared to speak a few words as a spouse – I had my thoughts gathered, for a change!

I had thought, on behalf of the spouses of the award winners, I would thank the Bank, the Chairman and the top brass for this wonderful way of honouring the top performers and making them share this credit with their other halves. I sincerely wanted to thank the Chairman for having revised the reward money substantially upward which could enable our family to go on a fabulous Europe tour last October on special LFC granted under this reward scheme.

I had thought, I would share this honour with the countless others back home in the Region and Circle, and their family members, who teamed up with my husband to deliver this splendid performance, but for which we would not have been here taking the award !

I had thought, I would compliment the award-winners and at the same time, urge them to always remember two things: firstly, that award propels and demands higher performance with greater excellence and total commitment. The onus now falls on them to prove to themselves at each step ahead that they deserved every bit of it , by doing better than their past best. Secondly, they have to remember that at the end, the reward for your perseverence is not what you get for it , but what you become by it. So award or no award, you must keep on giving your best shot, doing better than your best.

Alas… there were only thoughts ; but no action taken by me to create an opportunity for sharing my mind. I could have simply asked the organiser ( a close friend of mine) to announce my name for speaking on behalf of the spouses. I did not do that. Soon, there came the vote of thanks and then group photo session was announced. So our chances to speak on this golden occasion gone – or so I thought !!

But see the irony ! As it needed some re-arrangement to be done for the group photos, there was a sudden announcement for volunteers from the audience to sing on stage. Daughter of one of the awardees volunteered and gave a beautiful rendering. Meanwhile, the compere, who happens to be the organiser of this event and a very close friend of mine, came over and whispered to me that I was going to sing next ! I was really caught off-guard and started waving her saying “ No, No” – but she went up the dias and announced my name saying that since I am her batch-mate, she knows I sing very well and that she can take this liberty with me !!

Oh, God ! how I was feeling … too shy, gigly and wanting to strangle my friend’s neck right there !! But to keep her honour, I went up the stage, took the mike ( at the heart of my heart, I always knew till then that once I hold a mike, I can never fail in singing !) and started singing my most favourite prayer.

But I was in for the greatest shock of my life ! As I started singing, I thought my voice is trembling unduly and just after three lines, suddenly I stopped singing, giggled and said, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ and sort of, ran away from the stage. Of course, whatever little I sang, drew a good applause and later on, lot of nice comments – likes of ‘singing so beautifully, why did not you sing fully’, ‘ have a beautiful voice – must work on it’ etc.

BUT, BUT, BUT …. The fact remains that .. ( so painful to admit ! ) I walked off the stage mid-way ; I failed to sing though I claim to be a talented singer and I failed before whom … the Chairman, the top brass, a wide cross-section of our own people – an audience before which anyone in this bank would die to showcase one’s talent !!

I failed to take a rare and golden opportunity that was given to me by my dear friend, which could have been used by me both for speaking a few words and singing : First, with the mike in my hand, I could have said what I had thought of saying, as there was no thanks-giving done by any one from the ‘spouses’ group. I could have made my short speech still peppier by adding that though it is not the rule to speak after the vote of thanks, I am taking the liberty to break the rule and thank the bank for …. blah… blah .. .

Then I could have started singing, and I am sure, after speaking for sometime, that grip on voice automatically comes and I could have really rendered the way I usually sing. [By the way, later when I heard my hubby’s mobile recording, I suddenly realised that my voice was not sounding as shaky as I thought on stage !! So, another act of foolishness out of stage fright. Actually, suddenly, I went blank and forgot the next line.)

So.. it was a complete disaster; complete in every sense because what I did amounts to snatching a defeat out of the jaws of victory and none other than me was responsible for this failure to seize a golden opportunity !! It is awful to admit this in this public medium; but perhaps that is the first thing that I need to do as penance. What went wrong with me … despite having my thoughts gathered for the short speech, despite getting a request to sing ( I did not have to volunteer or beg for a chance ), despite getting a platform with a high profile audience that included Chairman , MDs, DMDs etc. and their spouses ???

No, it was not stage fright. It was not lack of practice either, although I did not have scope to practice for about a week before that. It was not even because I was not expecting a request for singing.

When I analyse now, post-facto, in a detached and honest manner, I see the reason in my habit of saying “ No, No” to singing whenever I am asked to !! This has become a strange second nature to me, when it comes to singing before anyone on request. The same kind of absurd shyness grips me even at this age, as it used to, when I was a child !! There is no rationale for it, no justification for it !! It is only when I decide to sing in advance that I find myself able to sing comfortably. I realise, this is becoming a self-limiting, almost reflexive behaviour on my part and it is high time, I get out of this ….making very conscious effort. Otherwise, how do I go about my already proclaimed goal of pursuing singing after I left my job???


“The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live.”

- Norman Cousins

And I sincerely do not want this tragedy to happen to me . So, I promise myself that as a penance, now I will take or create opportunity to sing the same prayer in full before at least 10 audiences in coming one year !!

So, that’s it !! I just felt like sharing this story of my complete failure. I think, it may resonate with you if you are also finding opportunities passing by without you being consciously aware that it is of your own making. Do some soul-searching and change what is needed to be changed within. Are you wondering what is the relationship between award/reward and disaster ?

Well, award and reward come after success; failure or disaster comes before success . Then there goes the saying : failure is the pillar of success . Take both the hypotheses together and you get some sequence like : failure, success, reward, award …..

So let me start now … afresh, my recent complete disaster notwithstanding !!!!

[ And friends, be ready to play me the audience and help me fulfill my self-target, which was carrying another zero originally, but got struck off while typing and I knew, that was the right thing to have happened. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha ! )

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pause and Ponder sl 4 : Beyond Fear, there is Freedom .

Pause and Ponder sl. No 4 : BEYOND FEAR, THERE IS FREEDOM

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. ”

- Seneca

What a profound wisdom in simple words !!

[Actually, at times, I feel straight-talk advices like “ Be courageous”, “ Be adventurous”, “ Be fearless” etc. sound a little threatening and more than inspiring one to overcome fear, they tend to instill more of self-doubt ( thoughts like am I able enough to do all these ? ) because somewhere they seem to advocate more than ordinary guts. But when we think in terms of what Seneca says, it ultimately means the same thing – have more than ordinary guts – but it makes us feel this in a more comforting and re-assuring manner – it makes us feel that it is actually okay to fear a bit, but it is worth taking leap despite the fear; it makes us believe that, though something looks difficult before we start, once we start, it will turn out to be not as difficult as we thought and so just start ! It actually inspires you and helps you actually dare !!! ]

It is observed – too often, that we contemplate doing many things that we feel are worth doing; but somehow the worries of difficulties that may come our way, the fear of failure, the fear of ridicule, the fear of rejection, the fear of persecution etc. get better of us and we fail to muster up that little grain of courage to take the first step. But if we consciously and continuously fill our mind with simple, yet powerful thoughts like what Seneca said, soon it can become a way of life with us to dare

be it a small adventure like learning a new skill that you think you are not naturally wired for( e.g. I learning how to drive a car on road etc.) or doing something you are scared of ( like bunji jumping/ I donating blood etc.)

or a big adventure like climbing a mountain, or rafting , or doing stunts, going to space , or public speaking etc.

or a tall adventure like carrying disparate groups along to deliver a common goal or having your way in negotiation with strong opponents, or out-performing the market without compromising ethics in business etc.

or a great adventure like retaining your freedom of mind in the face of all bondages, standing up against injustice in any form, serving the sick and the suffering, inspiring others by own examples, challenging the conservative wisdom to invent/innovate/discover something new and creative, getting political freedom for your country from centuries of foreign subjugation etc.

But one thing is common in all this : a mindset that runs towards , and not away from what the mind fears !! It is a mindset that dares and you dare when you

D….. feel an intense Desire to pursue something worthy, though difficult

A …. believe that you have the Ability to do this, if required by acquiring the new skills,

by pooling others having the needed skill

R…… take Risk by actually taking action needed for the pursuit

E….. keep Evaluating mid-course for course-corrections, if needed and act


Personally, I draw tremendous inspiration from this quote of Seneca and there have been several trying situations in my life – both personal and professional, small and big, when these few words have helped me discover the ‘courageous I ’ within myself and as I look back… I feel simply splendid about it that I have always been able to look into my eyes in the mirror - not because I have achieved anything ‘great’ or ‘grand’ or ‘ historic’ or something that can make the world bow down in admiration. No, what makes me so joyous is that I see in the mirror a pair of eyes, that have always sparkled with a child-like twinkle of daring when faced with fear at very many moments of life! And also the fact that this is a pair of eyes that never had a reason to droop in shame for not having tried something worthy, but difficult.

And there is another beauty in daring: you will never find yourself alone once you dare on a just and worthy course; there will be helping hand(s) sent from Above !!

[ Photo credit : SBI Calendar for 2009 ]

Earlier I had narrated a few of my small encounters with fear in my posts on this blog on 12th Apr, 2008 and 5th August, 2008, which do not appear to have been widely read and so I am just reproducing here below to save my friends the pain ( !!) of clicking on the links. These may be of interest to go through in the context of the present post.


A few days back , I stumbled upon an interesting article by Steve – Whatever you fear, Face it . I agree 101% with what he suggests. Yeah .. if we fear something, we must face it and that is perhaps courage in the real sense. Courage is not the absence of fear - it is doing something worthwhile despite fear . And what u experience and gain in the process in terms of pure happiness that comes out of conquering fear & personal inner growth is a treasure, that eludes all those who keep to their safety zones and spend a lifetime without living a moment !

When I started my Blog ( gosh ! last year – and let it remain without any post for almost a year !!) – my wish was to paint different strokes !! At the moment, time apparently is a big constraint. I said apparently – as I find, for one year I just started the blog and did nothing – then since last one month, I am somehow making this time at least once a week to scribble something, now that I want it. Perhaps, that is the secret - really wanting to do something intensely . That is perhaps also the key to mustering up courage – to stand by yourself - to face the fear – the fear of uncertainties – the fear of failure – the fear of being ridiculed - the fear of what the world would think … etc.

Well I know I am basically a courageous person - have displayed it umpteen no. of times as I know it myself – and I know many others also acknowledge that ( ha, Ha ). But , good lord … , when it comes to pursuing my life goals ( now that I have finally spelt these out clearly before my self at least ), I find myself still dilly dallying . Clearly , that right amount of courage to switch course at this juncture of life perhaps is missing as yet !

Let me spell out my goals here – so that I will feel more responsible and be under more self-pressure to muster up what it takes to pursue them !

a) Use my God-gifted singing talent –for my own satisfaction and for giving something back to this world . I don’t know how much daring it will be to dare dream becoming a professional singer at this age – that too without learning music . But surely, God has blessed me with abundant talent to use it for charity shows.

b) Get associated with some orphanage/children’s home etc – do some charity plus “Shramdaan” ( i.e actually spend time with them and do things for them etc. ) .

c) Start writing ( feels a bit nice that at least there has been a beginning towards this goal …)

d) Popularise Oriya cuisine – there are so varied and tasty and healthy and typical dishes we cook , which are yet to be commonly known as, say the southy dishes or north delicacies or Bengali dishes . Let there be Oriya Thali concept – like Gujju Thali – and I m sure, many would love the taste and the combination .

Coming back to Courage - Courage is shedding fear and also shedding the habit of not shedding many things !


Courage is shedding fear .

I would always cherish the 25th June of 2008 – a great & memorable day for ME !! Yeah - I conquered fear and did something for the first time which I had been wanting to do whole my life so far .. DONATED BLOOD .

Oh, sounds so trivial - s..o..o many people do that .. that too, time and again. What’s so great about it when it comes to me ? Nothing actually – nothing great about the act per se – only when I look at it in my context ( I simply can not stand sight of blood or needle entering into flesh ( Yup!!) & do not laugh – I close my eyes even when a bloody scene comes on screen !!!) - then I feel this sense of satisfaction that, yeah , I have done it – notwithstanding that great urge to run away from the bed when I had to keep on pumping myself and some sinking feeling was overpowering me after a minute or so & the process was to take another 3 /4 minutes. And I actually had a little bit of black-out after it – felt really embarrassed to hog all the attention-both from the doctor and colleagues, who had themselves given blood minutes back and were cheerfully going around in an absolutely normal condition . Well, that was really making me feel bad – but had no control. Actually, earlier also I had similar experience of sinking after giving blood for test during first pregnancy – may be, psychological because of my fear.

Coming back to point – when I look back to find out how I could actually do this, a few things come out sharply :

a. an intense desire to do . ( Honestly, I always think blood donation to be one of the noblest acts – basically u r giving life to a needy in due course . So always wanted to do something of value going beyond self .)

b. taking opportunity of doing when the circumstances give a chance. (Earlier, apart from the fear, either the timing, or the venue, or the organisers .. or perhaps the lack of intensity of desire.., something or other was coming in the way of my participating in any blood donation camp. This time, it was being organised in my office premises, by our office to celebrate our foundation day and was being organised in a professional manner with the help of doctors and disposable syringes. In my current assignment, it was possible to come down and participate, sparing an hour or so .

c. Actually throwing yourself first into the situation before your fear takes better of u . (Yeah, this time I just made up my mind, came down to the venue . Then, although I did have the impulse of running away , I did not do that as I could not have shown my weakness before my colleagues – u see, each of us do face many occasions in life when we just have to live upto a reputation . Ha, ha . So I knew , once I go to the venue , I will somehow manage to participate and that actually happenned .

d. The feeling after conquering fear is just splendid – charging u with greater vitality and greater happiness !

Thank GOD for helping me feel good about myself .

Same night, I could also be of help to a colleague, who would have otherwise missed his train. It was really raining hard when I was leaving office and here was this person, standing and worried about how he would make it to the train, that was to leave just about 20 minutes from then. There was no auto in sight also. I offered to drop him at his hotel, which is near to the Rly station . I am usually very scared about driving when it is pouring, that too at night – due to very poor visibility. Number two – I would not normally venture to drive to an unknown place in such inclement weather . But I did it – and am happy that I did it .

By the way, last year , I decided to drive my car personally – and, for me , this was a very bold ( read courageous ) decision. My husband & daughters were scared visibly – had no trust in my ability to drive a car . Not their fault – my track record of road alertness, sense of (geographical) direction, route awareness etc. was extremely poor. I agree with them and appreciated that they love me and were concerned about my safety – as also safety of others. But what I never liked about it was the hidden message that I CAN NOT drive . That was not acceptable . When the whole world is able to drive, why can not I ? Nevertheless, I restrained myself in view of my job pressure, erratic timings and requirement of the vehicle by my daughters for various purposes during the day. So continued with dependance on hired drivers till my daughters finished with their classes here, although it was taking a heavy toll on me ( & my car … one would shudder to look at the dents and damages that my poor car had to bear all the time ! I was so disgusted with repeated touch-ups that finally just left it with all the dents & scratches . In fact, that gave my car such a distinct identity ( ha, ha) that all my people at office always recognised my car effortlessly .) . Once my children finished with their exams, I decided to take over .

I acknowledged two things –

(i) I am not naturally wired to be a driver & do have some weaknesses which could spell hazard on road;

(ii) but at the same time , it is possible to learn driving and fix those weaknesses to an extent, required for safe driving.

So, I decided to learn and immediately called up a driving school. Timings were very difficult for me – very early in the morning and in evenings, I had to go from office for night driving & come back to office again. I can still recollect the first time I had to drive on a busy road – all alone without the trainer by my side - so..o scary ! How relieved I felt after parking at the office ! While returning, it really took strong will power not to accede to everyone’s request to make the office driver sit beside while I drove back home. Of course, for two days, one of my colleagues followed me separately, while I drove back home .

So , this was also a story of victory of courage over fear – and the basic tenets of the approach are the same in every such story :

acknowledge what is required to be done ,

acknowledge if you fear doing that,

believe that it is possible to learn higher skills in the domain of what you fear , and once you learn the skills, you will be better placed to face your fear ;

collect information, gather knowledge and learn skills required in the field .

Act - do what you wanted to, in spite of fear. Success will be only a matter of time.

I am sure, everyone’s life is full of such moments, when, inspite of fear, we take action, because it is worth it and in the process, grow stronger and wiser. I am reminded of what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,

“ When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”

Courage is shedding the habit of not shedding many things

Yes, one of the things that we normally do not think of shedding is a secure job !!

Well, I am not talking about today’s youngsters – who are job-hopping rather a little too frequently. They belong to another world with a different canvass as context. I am referring to our generation – the 40/45 plus, who usually relish the comfort of being settled down and somewhere along the line, tend to lose the appetite for venturing into an uncertain world to chase their life-goals.

I do not say that to be courageous, u must shed ( leave) a secure job, just for the heck of it . No, it is definitely not to suggest recklessness. The point that I would like to make is that there is a tendency among many of us just to keep on clutching to the current job, even if it is no longer giving u that kick and u are already in a position, where u can afford to take a call on other opportunities beckoning u or just to chase your dreams. Here comes, what I would call courage, courage to quit. Newer beginnings are possible only if we are ready to change the status quo – ready to come out of inertia. Yes, do a thorough analysis of your own situation to ensure that u have already put in place a fall back system to take care of your personal responsibilities (like self-sustenance / family responsibilities, which just can not be compromised) before u quit the known and start exploring the uncertain. Once u achieve this position, then all that u require for chasing your dreams is a drive to spread your wings with courage to soar against the wind, if that be so !!

By the way – right now I am also on my way to explore the uncertain – the first step already taken – quitting a secure job. Yeah – my fall back system for financial needs is ready. Feeling a little scared.. but excited . Isn’t that what courage ultimately is ? I am tempted to quote a few great personalities, from whose words, I have always drawn inspiration .

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
- Ambrose Redmoon

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
- Mark Twain

Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.
- John Wayne

Courageous people are still afraid, but they don't let the fear paralyze them.

- Steve pavlina

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Education for Earning Vrs Education for Service


Education for Earning Vrs Education for Service

“Reform Orissa from Within”. “ Reform our country, our society, from within the system.”

Those are the words of Dr Kiran Bedi and she needs no introduction ! These words would have sounded hollow and hackneyed to me, had they come from any of the many mouths we know who utter such preachings, but do a precious little in their own lives!

Well, before I proceed, I need to give a brief introduction to the context.

Today will always remain a golden day for me.

Well, not because today happens to be the Utkal Divas ( the foundation day of the independent state of Orissa, my homeland), although that is good enough a reason to feel jovial about;

neither for the reason that today happens to be The All Fools’ Day ( although, by implication that makes the day dedicated to the kind of me – the ‘fools’ – the more you know, the more you come to realise how little you actually know !!).

It is because today I got to hear Dr Kiran Bedi in person !! Saw an ad in a newspaper this morning that she would be delivering a talk at KIIT University here on the topic “ Role of Women in the present scenario” and all are invited. My joy knew no bounds. It is a topic title that I find one of the most hackneyed, boring and useless topics. At times, it actually angers me – would anybody ever think of a topic, say, the role of men in the present scenario ? Anyway, the point of attraction was Dr Kiran Bedi , and not the topic. So, I rushed through my chores and actually arrived at the venue by 11.30 am. ( I said, actually, because, on some occasions earlier, I had felt like attending certain events like this – celebrities delivering talks or participating in symposiums, but finally did not – may be because those speakers never really drew me so strongly !! )

I have always held Dr Kiran Bedi in very high esteem ( and so do the people at large ) for the unwavering courage she has actually demonstrated by always walking her talk as an IPS officer ( the first lady IPS officer of India joined in 1972) PLUS the way she has made a difference through whichever assignment she has handled during her service career – be it reforms in Tihar jail, or traffic in New Delhi, or … or… . her contributions as a member on the Advisory Board to UN on peace etc… She has received a number of awards n public acclaims – Raman Magsaysay Award and many more. All along, it has been a war on injustice and she made her point once more, when she resigned from service when she thought she had been meted out injustice in her professional career. But what is significant to note is that even after resigning from service, she is engaged in doing a host of social service activities AND SHE CONTINUES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE !!!

KIIT is one of the reputed technical institutes in the private sector in Orissa which has shot up to fame and ranking in the top slot among such institutes within a very short period – thanks to the visionary leadership of its founder, supported by an able team, of course.

Dr Bedi was invited by them for this talk and interaction.

Different as always, the moment she took to the mike, she declared that she is not in the habit of preparing a speech, and she always tries to ‘know’ and ‘feel’ her audience first and then decides what to speak and share. Here too, she said, she would share what she felt when she was getting to know about the institute during the last 2 hours of visit through the campus. Very candidly and without offense, she virtually dissmissed the topic ( the role of women in the present scenario), observing that once the women are educated, as they are today, they belong to the group of “educated” and share the same responsibilities towards the society and governance as the men. I was so glad – she did not disappoint me. Over the next one hour, she kept the audience spell-bound with her very forthright points, lively posture, humour and style of connecting to the audience !

In quintessence, the point she made is : Education must instill the values – especially courage, that would prompt the educated to serve and make a difference to the social fabric, to the people’s lives , to the nation. Let me narrate a bit of what and how she said it ( I can not quote her exactly within quote-unquote, because I was just a listener; so have tried to express what she said mostly in her words , added by mine to keep the essence in tact. )

Orissa is so rich in natural resources. But why is it lagging so behind in terms of economic progress for the people ? What is coming in between ?? Corruption and poor governance ! It is true for all other states in India . Corruption comes in the way of our progress, everyone knows that. But who is doing the corruption ? The literates or Illiterates ? The poor villagers or the rich urbanites ? The Educated or the Uneducated ? Who are at the helm of affairs everywhere – the educated or the uneducated ? At the end of the day, it is the educated who are responsible for corruption – for all the failings. So long as the bureaucracy is pliant, the corrupt politicians get their way. It is we, the educated, who get educated to earn only, not to serve and that is the chief culprit. We can make a difference, if we commit to service as the motto behind joining civil service or bureaucracy or all other white collar jobs. So long as that does not happen, reputed institutes will only go on adding to the bulk of educated corrupt and getting ranked at a high slot among the reputed institutes will have no real worth or meaning. Although she complimented the institute on its being ranked among the top-notch institutes of the country, she observed without any pretension that the parameters for ranking the reputed institutes should include one more parameter and that is : student-tracking , i.e. .what are the students who passed out of this institute doing currently and how exactly they have made a difference or served the humankind ?

She advised ( dared ! ) the Institute founder to act on this aspect by taking extra classes to build a special cadre of students who would like to go into services/bureaucracy with a motive to serve , not just to earn for themselves at any cost. Imbibe the values in the students that education is supposed to instill before they go out into careers. She was candid enough to say, if in 5 years from now, KIIT ians do not make any difference to Orissa and her people, there is no point in adding more number to the corrupt educated !! She said in a classic stroke of humour : “ Please call me again after 5 years ! ”

So, that’s it ! My day was certainly made. There was no time for answering audience queries. However, the only question that could come within the available time was regarding what to do as a voter when all the nominees fielded for election are corrupt or not worth getting voted. She explained that as a voter, each has ‘a right to no vote’ as per the Representation of People’s Act “. In such a situation ( which, indeed , is a situation now a days) , a voter should ask the Presiding Officer of the Vote booth to give her/him the specific form meant to record “no vote” with disclosure of your identity, of course. That will make public how many voters have totally rejected the entire lot of candidates fielded by various political parties and strong messages can be passed on..

[I am sure, that would be a grand revelation and the statistics can be of multiple use to awaken the people at large / political parties, or may even lead to further constitutional amendments, facilitating better candidates to choose from.]

All the while, I could not miss her politeness while taking courtesies extended or praises showered on her. A standing ovation, she deserved and she got !

Thank you Dr Bedi. After listening to you, I felt it my bounded duty to do whatever I can to spread this message, in which I, too, personally believe. Since I have a blog , I thought I should at least blog about it, so that your words of courage get spread and impact at least a few souls.