# Reverse counting is a fine exercise

As a child I was advised by one of my teachers that counting reverse, i.e. 100,99,88, and so on, was a great exercise to improve your ability to concentrate and focus. There are extensions of that exercise, like skip counting i.e. 100, 98, 96, and so on. When it becomes more mathematically complex, it actually stretches your ability to focus and calculate as well. Try it out. That was during student days. Of late I know than that the overall effect of reverse counting has far reaching positive implications in latter part of life as well.

Forward counting is what we all do, all the time. Planning, estimating, predicting, figuring out our worth down the years, and being happy by living in the future under the pretext that all the forward counting  calculations are going to help.

Reverse counting can begin when you think forward counting might stop. Actually not. Really speaking reverse counting must start when forward counting slows down. Typically when you have counted till 50, you may actually start counting backwards from 70 or 75.  Example  45,46,47,48,49,50,51 etc. is followed by……70,69,68,67 and so on……I think most mature people should understand what I am saying…. Saying this with personal experiences, not necessarily with the Covid-19 situation in mind.

I have a friend whose mobile desktop  says L 10 to 15 . I kept wondering what that meant for many months. It also had something in smaller letters W 3 to 5 which I ignored or did not notice earlier..

When you reach your fifties, you think there is still too much of a time to achieve something even more. Of course. With solid experience and professional knowledge and contacts to back up, you could plan even for the next 3 decades. That’s very theoretical.  Reverse counting can begin there. Start with 75 and count back.

Possibly 66,65,64: have you met all your friends, as some may stop counting soon, whichever direction.

69,68,67: Did you share you knowledge and time with younger  generations? Have you mentored at least 20 people by that time? If you were a master of something, have your mentees achieved something solid by now and perhaps have started reverse counting themselves?

58,57,56: Did you enjoy the drinks you missed or food you liked always? Have you read the books and poems that you wanted to read, but did not have the time  while you counted forward?  Have you listened to the songs and seen the movies you missed. Are you done with more or less all your loans?

Oh, there are some many things you can and must do as a responsibility to society and your near and dear ones. But prior to that, before losing track of the numbers more serious reverse counting is as follows:

53,52,51: Do you have your nominations and life policies in place? Does your spouse know the numbers and where the original policies are?

56,55,54: Do you have a proper will in place / trust in place? Are your joint account logins and  passwords safely shared ?  Have you started ignoring things that you could not for years- at work or at home ? Its not giving up, its letting someone take charge, much younger. Its leadership.

Really speaking  reverse counting can extend your forward counting in a very special manner. Actually the friends desktop reminded him:  Look, just about 10 to 15 years of a proper life span is left and just a maximum of 3 to 5 years of work is possible. A most practical reminder.

If you are hurt by this reading, or don’t agree please excuse and go ahead counting forward. If you like it or agree, forward the message, don’t only count forward.

# Making Higher Education Available for all at a decent cost- such a pressing need.

Recently I saw a movie titled Hillbilly Elegy, which was launched on Netflix in November 2020. Perhaps the only reason why I chose to watch  it  was that the name was kind of weird to me and that made me checkout what that movie was. I did not have any inclination as to what would be in store while watching the movie, at least going by the name.

The movie has a wide range of reviews, and was negatively received by critics -many of them rating it as bad on multiple fronts like screenplay and storytelling. However I think watching it was a great learning experience. I personally would rate the movie as excellent in the social context- for any country for that matter, not just the U.S..

Hillbilly Elegy is based on the 2016 memoir of the same name by a person named J. D. Vance. The film stars Glenn CloseAmy AdamsGabriel BassoHaley BennettFreida PintoBo Hopkins, and Owen Asztalos, and follows J D Vance the Yale law student who makes it to the prestigious school after a huge effort, overcoming obstacles all the way- economic and social .

I guess, as Indians one must watch this movie too- though it is an American one in a specific American setting. The movie focusses on issues with the economic and social state of the people living in the hills of  Kentucky. The story is a personal memoir no doubt, and signifies many things connected with that setting. Of great relevance to me, ( which many reviewers have not seen through & beyond the natural ) is the important learning that – unless you  make higher education compulsory, cheap or free, and accessible- your country is not going to progress.

Hillbilly Elegy –what does it mean?  Hillbilly means person from a mountainous area of                        the U.S. who has a simple way of life and is considered  be slightly different/ stupid by people living in towns and cities.  Elegy means a poem of serious reflection.

A real life story of  1980s and 90s, “J.D” Vance struggles through many serious problems during his days as a young boy, and later as a college student and even later when he has to take up a job. He even joins the U.S. Marines to fight in Iraq to fund his education in his home country. All the time, his progress is impacted by the problems that his mother and other members of his family face, back in the hills.

What is the underlying essence of the movie? :- Higher Education should be treated almost as a right, and can never be made exorbitant  for the masses.  If you have an economy of USD 20 trillion, and a population of 330 million, ( as in the USA ) you are short of a work force at all levels. And if you do not educate a growing young population who finds the education costs/ tuitions / fees  etc. extremely expensive- you are doing a great injustice to them. Many talented young Americans do not make it to University only because they cannot afford it.  Plus you make your own education standards very high and entry into colleges and Universities a challenge.   What’s next?  People from other countries ( with a much cheaper and easier education system- read “manipulated”) come into your colleges, specially after their Bachelor’s degree  as they can afford the costs. ( Mind you, there are millions of families across the world who can afford American university costs.) They then take away a huge number of jobs that you are creating because of your strong economy and your own innovativeness. The millions of young people who were talented from your own country ( read “USA” ) lose out thus in their education and later in opportunities despite your strong and large economy.

What ever strife that  has been shown in the movie, in essence is linked to income of individuals, which in turn is linked with education- may be of their earlier generations. For decades education has been expensive and that has taken  away the charm and hopes of the poor.  A degree is important, and a professional one more so, for a proper job and income.  Some countries like the USA need to realise that fast. What the capitalist educators and also young educated people  do need to know is that real education & knowledge too in most cases commences with your first job and working experience, rather than the 3 to 4 years your spend in college. If you make college education inaccessible and difficult for the masses, then they are not going to take it to the next stage- which is good work, good jobs and a decent income.

The internet and on line education is however changing the concept of higher education very fast. What now matters is also how we manage, recognise and validate on-line education and degrees- so that a huge number of  intelligent and deserving candidates like “J D” do not miss out on good life in the USA- like how his earlier generations in the hills did. The hills in the movie  are also comparable to rural India geographically and economically in general.

India too needs to keep this in mind. Since education and  college degrees all these years were affordable, millions got educated. Then they got jobs and started working in companies which did work for western economies or more developed nations, in areas such as software, engineering, IT/  ITES etc. Then many got posted in developed economies. But the start of all this was due to a low cost education- government aided or cheaper private education institutes. Now it is any government’s responsibility to keep higher education costs cheaper and ensure more and more people learn.  Also to note is that we must not ignore / marginalise our  ITI’s while scaling up our IITs. The back bone of a strong and meaningful economy is strengthening our work force at all levels of the work spectrum- something which seems to be have been forgotten in our race for getting recognised as born intelligent  people.

The other fallout of an uneducated or less educated people on a mass scale,  are protests and rallies by millions who do not even understand what they are protesting for- but that’s another story altogether.

On a soft ending note, in the movie, you have an Indian girl named Usha, played by Freida Pinto who pacifies and guides “J D” her American boyfriend into achieving his ambitions. Now India everywhere- work and the social front both?

https://technology5378.wordpress.com

More about the Memoir by JD Vance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillbilly_Elegy

More about the Netflix original https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillbilly_Elegy_(film)

# Beirut to Mumbai- There is no algorithm for leadership

Both Beirut and Mumbai went through similar situations in August 2020

BEIRUT:  The recent blast in Beirut brings to the fore some major issues how leadership really  matters.

Having worked with many Lebanese managers during my stay in UAE/Dubai, I have  great respect for the people of this tiny country, specially for their talent at work,  their drive in achieving things, their ability to convince people as great salesmen and marketers with their exposure to Arabic, English and French languages, their place in the entertainment business in the Arabic world,  their style and fashion, their food, and  their  overall zest for life -…… All despite the troubled past of 50 years, which started  with a long ranging civil war in the 70s.  Lebanon has an ancient civilisation that is a mix of Christian, Muslim, a Jewish population and has  a very cosmopolitan approach and a western orientation, being at the cross roads of Europe and West Asia. Over a period of several decades , no doubt Islamic terrorist organisations slowly captured Lebanon. Christians were fast eliminated from running the country.

Its financial power and stability through the 1950s and 1960s earned Lebanon the moniker of “Switzerland of the East”, while its capital, Beirut, attracted so many tourists that it was known as “the Paris of the Middle East”. However, the most competent Lebanese are not in Lebanon and  are well settled and great business people outside their country, spread across the world.  In fact most of the companies / investments in the Middle East are owned by Lebanese businessmen and businesswomen, who are extremely talented, charming, educated, knowledgeable and specialists in different trades though as an expatriate population they are a small minority in the Gulf compared to Indians, Pakistanis, Egyptians and Filipinos.

So what happened with this country in the last 6 to 7 decades? – this country is on the brink of a financial disaster, bankruptcy and political turmoil and  economic desperation.

Many people claim it was the take over of the country by Islamist fundamentalists backed by regional terror groups and funding. Whatever that is and whoever was in power,  it’s all about leadership which failed over a LONG period of time. That  is also  true of many other countries of the Middle East and the Levant. You may be a great specialist, but if you do not have the ability to lead or you do not have a leader in place to take you through many issues and circumstances carefully, your skills   may not matter to the extent they should , to you and to your country.

For the Lebanese, leaving their own motherland,  culture, and family to go to other locations must have been a very difficult thing. A whole bunch of talented people left the country over the last 50 years and will still do,  making it lose  invaluable GDP that they would have created within . The countries of Middle East, and West Asia had leaders who were not really leaders but destabilisers,  fighters and trouble mongers. Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Palestine, Algeria, Morocco, you name it.

What really matters for all forms of organisation is Leadership, not exactly subject knowledge. The crucial aspect of leadership is evident at all levels, and overall  success is largely a factor of leadership and not expertise  or specialisation, always.  People that are not team players and team leaders can be extremely troublesome. Lebanon and a few other countries of West Asia had leaders ( read rulers )  who were not leaders.

After a particular time of evolving of anything, leadership skills matter the most. Finance, Administration, Marketing, Engineering, IT skills or whatever skills can be bought, traded, exchanged and purchased – online or off line ! Governance however has to come from within and cannot be bought. Desire to succeed as a team matters more than anything. The team then could be a Country, a Company or a Club.

The blast in Beirut occurred  due to thousands of tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate stored in one location over many years, right within the port of Beirut which is in the heart of the city. Such an absurdity. It had engineers who designed the silos, chemists who did the tests, safety experts who filed multiple reports whichever way, it had all senior government officials over the years knowing the issue, the port authority well aware of the tremendous hazard that they were carrying, but for many years no one took the initiative to remove it to another location, export it if it was not required, investigate why such a large quantum was brought in. And know what ?….it was bang next to the entire grain storage of Lebanon. No one had the drive to solve the problem and find a workable solution. Lebanon for sure had experts within and outside the country who  could have sorted the problem.

A large part of the blast is linked to an inefficient and irresponsible government that was run by autocratic rulers and their relatives and friends.  A proactive top in multiple departments of Government and the ministers would have ensured such an absurd storage was never done and if done, still moved it out to a desert area which is so much available. No one took the lead. I am sure all would have been knowing the facts – it’s such a small country and everything happens in the small city of Beirut. Yet.

MUMBAI :  One big learning of the SSR / CBI /Maharashtra Police case is that in any operation or organisation, leadership is the key to everything. On the job skills are very important, but if there is a twisted leadership at the top which does not allow the work to be done in an efficient and honest manner, all the talent down the line could go waste.

The talent down the line need not be the best available, but the best can be exploited from an average talent if the leadership is excellent. That’s what a leader is. He or she guides average people to deliver results if it is a huge work, beyond the purview of a few people to accomplish. Team work and leadership make a big difference to delivery. Specific skills which are people oriented can never be replaced, but an entire working system can be enhanced by a good leader. An experienced person, knowledgeable and with an ability to drive things matters. He need not be, and cannot be an expert in multiple functions.

Mumbai police down the line is/ was the same all over the years. The beat cop never changed or can change on his own.  Ditto for CBI and the government at the centre.  However why a huge force like the Mumbai police  failed  to do its job despite having a good past record? After all a lot of forensic investigation etc. was to be delegated to experts. It failed as the directions from top were convoluted, distorted and corrupted. The same Mumbai police which was a respected force till some time back cannot suddenly deteriorate. A huge police organization at  the ground level which worked 16 to 18 hours a day during Covid times, could not be a bad force.

CBI on the other hand came with clear directions to solve a case. Leadership and directions was different. There was some different kind of leader behind the organisation.

If India keeps relying on a talent that gets short listed due to a written exam and interview conducted when you are 24 years old and then you give full powers all the time to people for the next 35 years till they retire at 58, you have trouble at hand. Holding decorated positions and tags and fancy titles is one thing and continued delivery of results is another. More secure you are, less efficient is your work. More secure you are from outside competition, more passive will be your approach to work. It’s like absolute power which corrupts absolutely.

We have number of senior bureaucrats and police officers who collude with a dishonest system as they have nothing to lose, due to a very safe job or employment security. In fact they become more secure when they collaborate with politicians, otherwise they will keep getting transferred ( at the most). This nexus between administration and politicians is what is bringing the country down slowly. Are there not several top bureaucrats who can jointly stand and object to wrong doings?  It is only the private parties like Republic TV and Times Now and a few others which can keep a control on a non performing bureaucracy. Because, if you do not regularly deliver in a private enterprise, you need to give  up  on your assignments/ work or employment.

Our perception of looking at excellence through examinations and academics is slowly taking a toll on us. 75 years of independence and we have many states still struggling to create jobs for its people. They still have the same methods of governance and selection of top officers as followed by other states. Perhaps they never had proper leaders to drive things. Just what is slowly happening in many states of India is what happened to Lebanon. That country had immense talent down the line which left the country. India has 1000 times more, so we have to be more careful to harness. Ability to extract the best from a work force matters than what is your specific ability. That is real leadership. We are really lacking enough leaders for a country of our size.

Unless we change leadership parameters and job security issues of government functionaries, after 75 years as a country, we can expect thousands of small, medium and large scams and huge lapses in governance for years to come and corruption at all levels in almost the entire government machinery- all which go unnoticed though they are very rampant. They get ignored as they were not murder cases worth discussing. No TV channel or the fourth estate can tackle the magnitude of the problem we have.

# Kenny Rogers ( 1938- 2020 ) …………my idol in life.

If you see the above live radio program clip ( 2.5 min ),  you will understand how the singer gets an entire audience to sing, in small groups and then all together. They are his old fans no doubt and  they know the song, but making someone participate and feel involved in a live program this way is awesome, and see the fantastic way he does that. Also do note the mesmerised audience.

There are many great singers, but  the greatest ones have a different  story or song to tell. Kenny Rogers died recently at age 81, and a golden chapter in country music came to an end.

I have been listening to Kenny Rogers, the country music legend since the time I was in college. I recorded his songs on a cassette player when  the internet  did not exist and when digital audio audio files were not available. I  had all the lyrics of his songs written down.

All songs in country music have a story to tell,  and some of his fantastic songs had wonderful subject matters too.  His silken voice was out of the world.  His stage presence just awesome.

For those who do not know much about country music and it’s beats and the storyline concept of its songs,  just Google Kenny Rogers and listen to  The Gambler, The Coward of the County, and a few others.. One of the most memorable is ISLANDS IN THE STREAM with Dolly Parton, who was  a great friend throughout his life.                                                                    ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQW7I62TNOw )

Definitely he had a profound impact on my way of looking at my life and my personal issues,  and I am sure he has influenced millions of others too.

What I learned from Kenny Rogers’ persona and songs/ lyrics were some important lessons in life.  Whatever you do,  has to be in the benefit of people and public good. As the short clip indicates, he was simply excellent in getting people together. Narrowed down to a basic life  of an ordinary mortal like me, it translated for me subconsciously  into team building being a very important area of life, sharing knowledge and experiences -whether at the work place or in homes or within extended family groups or friends.  This seems simple elements of life, but unfortunately these qualities  are not taught in schools and college, at least in India. You learn these only from people.

Singers and song writers and sportsmen make great leaders, few people realise that. They create a harmonious blend between skill and ability on one side and transparency and team work on the other. Leaders hence are great team builders, motivators, orators, and communicators  and most film and song producers, musicians and singers are great team players or leaders themselves.  And yes, Kenny worked actively till he was 78, travelling around USA and the world. An inspiration to Keep Walking for all of us.

Kenny had extremely humble origins ( his father was a carpenter ), but created  a colossal wealth over his lifetime. I feel he would not have even bothered how much it was, just like the line in his song THE GAMBLER…. “there’s time enough for counting when the dealing  is done”.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hx4gdlfamo&list=RD7hx4gdlfamo&start_radio=1&t=0 )

As mentioned earlier as regards the messages in country music songs, do not miss the message in the above one-

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em (when to hold ’em)
Know when to fold ’em (when to fold ’em)
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

Lead your life well, and do a great job- others will count for you.

Hats of to you Kenny Rogers,  for influencing my life though you didn’t know me.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Rogers

# Anant….the Endless

In Sanskrit, it means, ‘without end’, ‘infinite’, ‘joyful’. I just cannot fathom the fact that I have to write about Anant Khanolkar so soon. Just a month back I decided to start paying tributes to some of those people who have left an indelible mark on my own life, and which was to include  some very close friends too, as part 2 of a small series . I wrote about Sunil Gavaskar as the first one and I told Anant, “Anant, much later,  I want to write about being my best friend” and he said “No- you have set the benchmark so high, and I cannot be the one in your  list, do not embarrass me”. I said Ok, No problem. I never thought this would the case where I have to write about him in any case, so soon.  I am absolutely devastated.

My friendship with Anant goes back to 1982 when I first met him in S.E. ( Civil ). Almost 38 years we were in touch on a regular basis. Be it the surface mail / fax/ sms /the rare expensive  phone call / and now the free what’s app,- anything that was the mode of contact in vogue. We also were together in New Delhi during 1986-87 and saw parts of the city together, when he studied for his post graduation at the School  of Planning and Architecture and I was doing a management course. Some memories those.

I was fortunate to visit him in Boston in 1990 when he was staying with a few friends and when he had just purchased his first car in the US, and then again 24 years later in 2014 when I stayed at his house in Concord MA.  I met him countless times in Mumbai and also a few times in Dubai where I worked for some time.  Uma, his wife had become a great family friend and Rucha and  Shree his children-we knew always what they were doing in their studies and sometimes in the extra-curricular.  The Khanolkars had become  great family friends.

Anant travelled frequently on business and had covered more than 60 countries on a regular basis.  He spent a lot of time in a field that was very unique of TV programme recording software and related things. He never looked stressed despite his result oriented work as a Sr. Director of Sales and his regular travels. He made it a point to halt in Mumbai and Goa – the first to meet his friends and the second to meet his parents. I guess he met every one possible from his friend circle on his trips, even going to their offices at times. And he attended all the get–togethers we organised in Mumbai, once a year. In fact we had started scheduling them as per his visits.

Anant the endless…. was really that way- endless arguments while pushing his point. He was a tough nut to crack in arguments, and I never really argued with him anytime .I was always worried about losing a friend. He had perfect observations about anything and anyone and was forthright in making his point. Many will recall his ability to pick up an argument out of  nowhere!  Another common point of our friendship perhaps was our little bit of disinterest in studies- e.g. we both were unaware that Prof..NSV Rao changed subjects ever alternate lecture and we did not know what was the day’s subject was!

Possibly the most popular but the  most criticised, Anant was still the most widely met and contacted  person of our batch VJTI 85. Be it any VJTI stream, most people knew him well and was very popular with the hostelites.  I will never forget  the long chats in room 211 of D Block which had become  a second home to many  from our batch and also with day scholars who dropped in before exiting from the gate next to rectors bungalow. Visiting D 211 was mandatory for me before leaving for my home.  Also, of late he had the maximum posts on the VJTI 85 group. He was very critical of posts by other members without any substance or checks. However the smile on his face was a permanent feature.

The best part of Anant was his wide range of interests, wide knowledge of multiple subjects and the desire to share that. Always very vibrant and motivated, he would motivate you to accomplish anything. I guess he always approved my many job changes and read everything I wrote  and took a deep interest in what I did for the last 25-30 years. It was a great pleasure discussing work and things not connected with work with him.  A long chat was common with him and made me feel good about myself and my work, though things were not always hunky dory for me.  But a long chat would make all stress converted into jokes and fun and recharge batteries for weeks before the next call.

For Anant the fun times & places changed rapidly from Patalganga, to Prabhadevi’s Twin Towers  to VJTI hostel  to a short span in Hindu Colony, Dadar to New Delhi, to Tata Electric and MHADA office and then finally to Boston where he must have spent close to 32 years. All along he made great friends, everywhere.  Uma always complained Anant travelled all the time  and the kids too missed him a lot.. The Covid 19 situation did keep him at home for a few months at a stretch but finally it didn’t turn out that way.

Will miss you my friend, very badly. It has not yet sunk in that you aren’t around, but I am sure in a week and in years to come, it is going to be a big big void for me and all of us as well.

My heart goes out to his family- Uma, Rucha and Shree and his old mother in Goa, and  Uma’s family. I was waiting for the lockdown to end and flights to resume so that we could meet one more time. So sad. So unfortunate and most unjust what just happened yesterday. A most interesting and vibrant personality gone from us too early. He defined what could be the true meaning of a long term friendship and there can be no argument about that- unless we meet again.

RIP Anant.  Almost dialled you Anant while writing this, to check something….cannot write anymore.

Dinesh Bandivdekar

22nd July 2020

Anant Khanolkar left for his heavenly abode on July 21st, 2020 while hiking with his 2 children in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, at the young age of 55- due to a massive cardiac arrest.

# Mone Sir

For a great teacher in a wonderful school who inspired to take up things systematically and succeed in life……………

On this teachers day, I would like to continue my series of paying tribute to some of those people  who made a great impact on my life. Not that I have achieved anything great in my own life, but nevertheless whatever was possible in the constraints of life, was partly attributable to many people whom I was fortunate to meet or know. Some of them were public idols whom I never met, but here is a Teacher & Gentleman both rolled into one. I should have written about him many years ago, if not a few decades. I fear I could be digressing a bit while writing about him, but it could be relevant with an insight on education in the modern context.

Mone Sir was my class teacher in 7th B, and that was way back in 1975-76, at IES English School at Dadar. ( I apologise for not remembering his first name or initials, but we used to call all our teachers that way ). I was always a B/C  grader for almost all my school years till then. We had divisions till E or F, and all were graded according to the marks we got in the exams. So you can guess that I was not so bad !  Yet I had developed an inferiority complex by virtue of not being in the elite company of those in the A division for many years!. I too underestimated the D,E, and F types though that was a myth that was broken altogether in the subsequent 20 years ! ( Example:  While remembering someone…’’Oh, that guy who was in the E division?’’- he is heading a MNC now,  what ? )

Mone Sir was a fantastic Math teacher. It’s quite sometime now, and I do not remember what was the other subject he taught in the school was, but it possibly may have been Science. I need to ask my school buddies about it, they have elephantine memories about the school. But what he was famous and popular for, was that he headed the school NCC besides being a wonderful academic teacher. The NCC cadets flew airplane prototypes on Sundays and on certain days like the Independence day and Republic day parades on the school ground- and ‘’that was it’’ for the boys and girls of the school. On Sundays, early morning at school, Mone sir was in his NCC Air Wing uniform and he looked extremely impressive. He was fair and tall and soft spoken. He never raise his voice except for the parade March Past commands. I just cannot forget him even today.

Math however was not a very comfortable subject for me, and neither was science. But that year changed my life about these 2 subjects and possibly other subjects too. I clearly remember Mone Sir going out of the way altogether to ensure we have understood the concepts well, and he used to have a round of questions for the students before going further to solve the problems. Anyone caught not understanding the fundamentals, did NOT have a “Class” as you may think, but  another round of nicely worded explanation. It was a repeat  teaching exercise , actually for all those possibly not so bright as the others and laggards like me. Later, I knew that after some weeks he had identified in the class all who had some issues, and all those got some special attention from him. Actually, all those including me, I know improved drastically and I stood first in the class, that year and I moved to the A division for the next 3 years.

I think all was a remarkable achievement not only because Mone Sir kept stressing  on getting the fundamentals right but because he did not want the weaker students to lose their interest in studies and their confidence in life. That was paramount.  It’s quite some time that has passed but there was an old world charm in his teaching and an approach that all in the class must learn and not just the toppers getting better and better. Perhaps being a NCC commandant made a difference to his teaching style as well. Many years later I read somewhere that the best of teachers create interest in the subject in the minds of their students, the rest automatically follows. In hindsight, I think people like Mone sir must have influenced a lot of things in my own life and in those of other students.

But that’s not it – what he demonstrated practically to thousands of young minds was that academics is just one aspect of life, and there is another form of learning and life – (through his NCC endeavours)- and I feel that  perhaps the extra curricular and disciplinarian approach was more important in life. My school, besides producing top rated doctors and engineers, some of  who are famous,  produced very good cricketers too- including Sanjay Manjrekar. They all helped the school win/ top in the Giles Shield and the Harris Shield and there were a few guys who went into the Indian Air Force as pilots.  1975 incidentally was  the year when India won the Hockey World cup – at Kuala Lampur, and I  remember it was Mone sir who  asked me about the hockey match updates in the class till the final and appreciated whole heartedly my interest- as perhaps he realised that no one else was so keen about the game. Cricket was the King then.

Is that wholesome approach to life or discipline missing nowadays? Have we forgotten to train students directly or indirectly on leadership and on governance matters? Is our young generation not grounded nowadays? Are the 200+ TV channels taking a toll on the minds and lives of the kids ? Are our current school students spending too much time on academics? Are they being brainwashed by unnecessary extra load of the same lessons again and again at such a junior level- in tutions, in school tests, in some form of unnecessary competitive exams and now again by some apps driven by hype and actors? Actually an unbranded life was so simple and fun then. Conversations and interaction was all the way fun.

Instead of interacting with friends a lot, playing every evening in the open, are our kids unnecessarily spending too much time in academics and on the mobile ? . Looking back at the distant past, these are some major issues in today’s education I think that has affected life, not just education. I remember our Principal Sinha Maám  telling us to read good books and novels and not sticking just to the text books. The fact that the mobile and TV did not exist was the biggest boon. The amount of reading we did was enough education. These could be separate topics for discussion altogether and I don’t want to digress too much.  I think the schooling, the great teachers like Mone Sir and the overall environment including that of a middle class neighbourhood school was an automatic exercise in grounding oneself. That grounding is a must even today.  It produces good people in time to come.

My eldest brother and his friends who went to the same school, will remember another fantastic teacher – Pradhan Sir- a nationally award winning teacher. I remember that I had once reached school when it was a holiday for the primary section and accidentally  had the privilege of sitting in my brother’s class of Std. X or so, ( till I got picked up by my mother )- specially when Pradhan sir was teaching  Algebra or whatever. That class was a bouncer for my age, but I listened so well to the lecture that I remember  Pradhan Sir complimenting me for being so attentive!. I guess those days were different and teachers out of the world too and respect to teachers was an integral part of education.  We had many excellent teachers then and there would be now as well.  How good my school was and how good were my teachers?.…it took me many years to realise after I left the school.

Do you remember any teacher that made a great impact on you or in your life- directly or indirectly? Pay you respects for 2 minutes today. Some of them may have been really instrumental in shaping your life, perhaps you don’t realise it.

Written by Dinesh Bandivdekar / dinesh.bandivdekar@gmail.com  / 91-9619545460

Sept 5, 2020 Teachers Day

# Sunil Gavaskar turns 71……my Idol in life

Sunil Gavaskar, the former Indian captain, turned 71 yesterday and wishes poured in for the legendary batsman from all over the world. BCCI and ICC’s official Twitter handles tweeted their birthday greetings for the Little Master, paying tribute to the first batsman to reach 10,000 Test runs. “World Cup winner, first batsman to score 10,000 Test runs, most numbers of runs in debut Test series. “Happy Birthday to the former team India captain and batting legend”, wrote BCCI. Gavaskar, who has held multiple batting records, is rated as one of the finest batsmen to have ever played the game.

Like me, those born in the 60s and those even in 70s will remember him as a hero He was my role model and is still is.

I remember waiting and holding my breath for his centuries. That was the time of the radio commentary and the B&W TV set. Listening to the radio patiently and praying for another century, specially from 80 runs to 100 runs was one of the most interesting things in life. Thank God, life was so simple then, even when not having anything really ! The culmination of any test century was like my personal achievement and was an euphoric feeling that lasted an entire day ! Throughout my school days and even during my SSC and HSC exam days, and later in college, I followed his batting, records and achievements.

I was fortunate to shake hands with him when I was a school kid, and almost with the entire Bombay Ranji trophy team then, on the occasion of my cousin Subhash Bandiwadekar’s wedding, who was then Mumbai’s wicketkeeper.

When he retired in 1987, I was about to finish my post graduation. The day he retired, I thought a great career is over. But little did I realise that another great career had begun, which has gone on and on for more than 30 years- that of a sports expert, a sports administrator, a commentator ‘’par excellence’’, a great mentor and a great sports writer. And of course, I am a great admirer of his command over the English language and his ( extempore) ability to articulate on live TV,- be it a complex cricketing situation, (which again is the hallmark of a great commentator ) or explaining a special cricketing policy in a “limited words” newspaper column.

Actually I myself am reaching a so called ‘’retirement age’’, but my hero is still going on and on, and so I have now decided not to retire anytime !! Age after all is just a number.

I remember reading ‘’Sunny Days’’ his autobiography, twice during school. I also clearly remember where he resided, at a 10 to 15 minute walk from my home at Dadar, at Sir Bhalchandra Road, in Madhavi Building in a small flat in a typical middle class area, just behind where Pritam Hotel is. This was when his cricketing career was in the nascent stage, and even while he started playing test cricket . May be that was because his Dadar Union club was just a 15 minute walk- where he was a ‘’regular’’ early in the morning to practise or to play club cricket. That was sometimes even after returning from an overseas India tour, the earlier evening or night.

What I realised over a period of time- possibly subconsciously- from Gavaskar is that life can be Sunny throughout, when you dedicate yourself to a cause. The ‘’cause’’ changes over a period of time, but your focus must not. Devote yourself to something and then keep changing as per the need. In life there is no stopping, and no failures. Practice makes a man perfect, dedication makes you achieve a lot of things and being a mentor or guide and advisor to the next generation is the best you can do for others- in the latter part of an extended career. Also, typical middle class virtues can take you places if you are honest, dedicated, sincere and respect your seniors and are willing to learn.

Sunny, thanks for being a motivator, mentor and idol in my life though you don’t know me.

Dinesh Bandiwadekar 9619545460/ Dinesh.Bandiwadekar@gmail.com, stayed at Dadar, studied at IES ( King George school) and Ruia College till the 12th, all within a stone’s throw from where the Little Master grew up.

-Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is a Leadership Institute all by himself.

Practically what is Leadership and what are the examples of Leadership and what are the obvious fall out’s of not having a Leader around?

Here are 25 most practical signs and tenets of leadership. Check how many people around you really have even half of them, though most of these seem so simple. Yet to have these qualities requires a very evolved mindset, training from childhood and tremendous courage.

1. Leadership is UnAcademic: One may be a great academic or a scholar and he could be still a great leader. However in most cases the Leader need not be a subject matter expert.

2.Leadership is Letting Go: A Leader let’s others lead. If he does not, he is only a politician. Politics is opposite of statesmanship.

3. Leader creates teams: Companies, families and business ventures succeed with Leaders running them and not necessarily technologists or subject matter experts. Leaders create teams to ensure success. Teams deliver with multiples abilities and individual skill sets. A Leader just in most cases, plays the role of a coordinator, but that could be a very important role.

5. Leader gets the best possible people to work together.

6. Leader develops bonding between team members . Never does he play politics with his team or within organisations / families / association.

7. Leader says WE, not I.

10. Leader looks at long term success and not immediate gains.

11. Actually a leader does not work 24 X 7, but gets the best people around him to work. If you see a company director or a top manager micro-managing, and not delegating, assume the company is not going to do well. A leader develops other people,not just himself. He is never worried about his position or comments on him as he is very confident about himself. A leader rarely schemes to trouble or destroy others.

12. Leadership and Power Centres are complete antithesis. Companies fail because they allow power centres to be created within.

13. Leaders are those who can handle better people than themselves. Leaders are those who can knit teams of experts and learners alike. Leaders ensure training and transfer of knowledge.

14. Leaders share information and resources so that everyone benefits.

15. Leaders create a strong next generation, a younger future management and gets experts involved to create a next generation.

16. A Leader does not hog the limelight.

17. A Leader, if a male, gives serious involvement and respect to females. Vice Versa is very natural. The initial one, not so.

18. A Leader should be capable of calling spade a spade and changing him, and if not possible, terminating/ eliminating /easing out nicely the wrong guy after giving adequate chance.

19. A Leader does not go after a title, but gets people together giving them due respect but not necessarily a title.

20. Anyone who has only monetary perspectives in mind never becomes a Leader.

21.It is to be realised that there are really very few leaders around. It’s amazing that many grown up and learned people do not have leadership skills. So be careful if dealing with them, hiring them, and letting them lead your ventures.

22.Joint families and relationships get destroyed because some one did not exhibit leadership abilities. Disputes crop up for lack of leadership around.

23.Popularity and smart Public Relations are widely mistaken as leadership abilities.

24.Delivery of complex tasks, overcoming big problems, handling a wide range of skilled professionals, ensuring over the years the growth of a struggling nation, a struggling organisation, a struggling person and fighting detractors sportingly is what leadership is all about. What contribution you could make to others is a measure of leadership.

25.Leadership is not sophistication, speaking good English in a western accent, or looking smart and stylish, holding academic qualifications from overrated Universities and elite academic institutions.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join hands to compliment our Honourable PM, Mr Narendra Modi for the wonderful leadership that he is providing our country in the most difficult circumstances.

Jai Hind / Jai India / Jai Bharatmata

Thanks and best regards

# Must make short term military training compulsory

Way back in May 1979 I attended the 42nd Summer Military Training Course of 31 days at Bhonsala Military School at Nashik. I remember even today the Commandant ( Principal) of that school Maj. ( Retd) P B Kulkarni, an Indo-Pak war veteran. I also remember my Platoon commander who hailed from an army unit in Garhwal and his strict training.

While in school, I had a strong desire to join the Armed Forces. However just after undergoing a week of the highly rigorous training, I was convinced that my actual passion was academics ! (‘’Yeh to aapne bus ki baat hi nahi !‘’)

But, I think those 31 days of some form of military services training was one of the most important lesson in life: Discipline. Without discipline, you are not going anywhere in life. Without discipline and commitment, you cannot achieve your goals, or even gain respect. Without being disciplined and committed , you cannot even help your own family, forget doing something remarkable at work or business. ( Nation building “Toh Duur ki baat Hai !” )

I remember getting trained in so many aspects of basic military training including rifle shooting, horse riding, many games like hockey and basketball and most importantly a rigorous confirmation to timing. A five minute delay to “fall in” at the 6.00 am drill, and you would be taking one big round of a football ground with a dummy 5 kilo rifle raised above your head with both hands.

I think it’s time we made this type of training compulsory. May be we cannot make an in-plant military training compulsory due to our huge population, but we need to have many such schools set up close to and within certain army establishments. I am sure such a training at a young age could be better than any internships anywhere or a so called leadership course at any management institute.

Just an inkling of what military life is, will possibly start the ball rolling in terms of discipline, commitment, leadership skills, nation building and respect for the Armed forces. Courage is another thing that results from such courses. May be discipline in studies as well. May be all persons will not be required to fight militants and criminals but, at least some can challenge wrong elements and wrong goings in society and in work places with the courage gained.

Some of the basic improvements as examples would be adherence to time, proper road manners and overall ethics and cleanliness standards, lesser corruption, lesser politics and respect to the Army and the country’s security.

It is high time we move from repeated studies of same stuff at school level through learning Apps and classes and move to some time on physical army training for all below 30, as no App can replace this type of training.

We have many Sainik Schools imparting long term education focused on training for joining military, police and para military services, but a short term 3 month course ( located in and around military establishments ) are now the need of the hour to train as many youngsters as possible . The trainers could easily be drawn from retired military officers or could be on deputation from Army units just as it was in Bhonsala Military School.

Bhonsala Military School was a pioneer started in 1937, but the movement was lost or never taken forward . However, better late than never. Maybe we really did not need it earlier, but we need it really now from an future perspective. Time to seriously think about it.