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

Dinesh Bandiwadekar runs www.PersonaAcademy.in  and www.TheEngineersForum.in

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.

SALUTING A LEADER :Know what leadership is practically all about

SALUTING A LEADER.

-Know what leadership is practically all about:

-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.

4. Leader encourages transparency.

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.

8. Leader appreciates.

9. Leader motivates.

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
DINESH BANDIWADEKAR
dinesh.bandiwadekar@gmail.com

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.

Written by Dinesh Bandiwadekar 9619545460 / dinesh.bandiwadekar@gmail.com

Links
http://bms.bhonsala.in/
Application form for the next Summer Military Training Course for your ward: http://bms.bhonsala.in/Encyc/2020/1/27/83rd-SUMMER-MILITARY-TRAINING-.html

Why all Indians must learn at least 2 Indian languages compulsorily till the XII th Standard

To connect with India and millions of Indians, you must know Indian languages. Is it time to propagate a dual medium education seriously ?
Yet one more time Maharashtra government proposed that Marathi be made compulsory till the 12th standard. I was just more than happy that they did not make Italian compulsory instead!
Jokes and politics apart, (both words which now seem to mean the same in the state which is still a great one!), I think it is time we do a re-think on learning our languages considering the future of India and the future generations. Certainly making some compulsion about learning Indian languages is a must, but we can have a new formula to learn Indian languages now, otherwise it will be too late. It is not about which language is compulsory in which state, but about learning our culture, popularising literature and keeping history intact of our country.
We should not forget the importance of English, but we must accept that we actually value English not just from a career, business and an educational perspective, but that a very large section of the society values it as a status symbol. In fact the status quotient has evolved into a situation where a lot many well off families now consider putting their children in schools affiliated to international board, many to show off their social standing.
No doubt, we learnt English from the British and we took it further as no other country did, and we gained a lot from it. Look at Pakistan to know what happens when you do not value and learn what is sincerely advised to you, and which benefits you.
However, we must soon ensure some very important changes in the education system which also means learning languages if we have to progress into a vibrant, friendly and cohesive economy, for the benefit of masses across income levels and considering the huge expanse of our country.
Time and again, I get requests from young college students and working professionals to help me improve their chances of getting through personal interviews, written tests, group discussions and a few related things for entering management colleges and even for excelling in technical / software related jobs. These candidates ( who mostly come from a weaker economic background or from rural areas or vernacular schools ) feel that they are stuck somewhere in their careers and also at times in their lives. Some of them feel that they have hit a wall, and further progress is impossible unless they bring a change in their “personalities” ! Ok , whatever that means- when I drill down into this problem, I realize that most of the people are asking me to improve their communication abilities in English !
As you can understand, the problem has now “outgrown” to such an extent that in India we have started misinterpreting personality development as “Speaking Good English” !. Our craze for English and positioning it in society has even changed our thinking !
One of the most important reasons why English has an edge, is that besides Hindi to some extent, we do not have one unifying language. The fall out of the situation is such that millions of Indians do not know their own languages and culture and extensive literary landmarks, in addition to the fact that they do not speak correct English !
India is a $ 3 trillion economy. English is understood only by 10% of our population and just about 3% of the population can speak good English. The demand that our 125 crore population will generate is the main factor that is going to drive the economy to double the current size, and evidently English has a limited role to play in it. So when a $ 3 trillion economy is up and running with Indian languages, it is worth studying, promoting and pushing Indian languages so that we grow the economy further. Give a boost to Indian language authors who will must sell more, Indian language movies seen more, will drive business, and Indian language classes must be in demand, and Indian language publishers should not be extinct.
Now about the time for learning languages- A study conducted by the MIT in the United States indicates that there is indeed a critical period after which learning a new skill becomes harder, like learning a second language. According to the study, the best time to learn a new language with native-speaker proficiency is by the age of 10. ( Say Std VI or VII ) Children under 10 can more easily absorb information and excel in a new language. Young people under the age of 18 can still show great skill at mastering new language, but things start to get more challenging beyond this point.
And, Why did we not excel in English despite our “intelligence” and despite the fact that we have spent 100+ years approximately with that language being with us? ( By the way, starting a sentence with And and Because is wrong, just like “Myself Rajesh” is- but does it matter ? )- “Because”: we did not have an adequate and correct system or method of learning English, and we had very few English teachers, and a very small number of teachers who really were good in English. Simple !. And, now we want our population to speak good English in offices, on TV debates , GDs and interviews! Is that correct?
Talented vernacular students( mainly from non metros ) have been forced to take a back seat because of this new issue and average students speaking good English have been made into “smart guys” with a so called “good personality’ The repercussion of the “English Speaking” phenomenon has serious implications. Vernacular medium schools in metros are slowly shutting down. Even the poorer section of society want their children to study in English medium schools. The outcome of all this is going to be evident after 20 years, when we will have adults who are neither good in their own mother tongue and just average in English. Unless we make our vernacular medium schools as “dual medium” with a lot of emphasis on English right from the start, we will actually end up closing these schools and hurting a lot of weaker students who cannot afford costlier education. Don’t forget that the best of doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists and writers in India have studied in the vernacular medium. English is just one part of the process of development. Let’s give it the right amount of importance it deserves, and some importance to Indian languages.
I think we have made English into a very commercial proposition and actually made it into a monster. I think its high time to allow other languages to be considered for selection processes into management colleges and other places. To push our culture and languages, some compulsion is essential, but the choice of language to be studied also has to be open. If we do not do it now, most Indians in another 2 to 3 decades would not be connected to their origin, state and country, besides the fact that Indian languages will be on the chopping block.
Solution to issues:
1. What possibly is wrong is the way we have limited ourselves to teaching Indian languages. We cannot suddenly dictate learning languages beyond a particular age. We must make a National Testing System for Indian languages ( similar to TOEFL / IELTS etc ) where in you can select 2 Indian languages (one could be Hindi ) and learn them wherever you want and from which ever state that you reside and then write a test at the end of the year and have a rating system. Then make a minimum level of proficiency and score requirement for all types of jobs. This way a Tamilian in Dehra Dun can study Tamil and so for many others the same way we study our own languages elsewhere. The testing ( and training of course ) can be off line and on line. Schools will teach the languages and prepare students for free/or paid, but a lot of private coaching classes will help drive the economy and improve language standards in the country.

2. Another more easier way for millions of Indian students across small towns, villages and even larger cities is that we introduce a DUAL Medium of study- that is prevalent in many states including Maharashtra. The system is perfect, but we possibly did not have the best resources to make it popular. NOW OUR COUNTRY HAS THE RESOURCES. Except Maths and Science, all subjects are taught in the local language from lower class levels. We can take this further, by teaching all subjects in English from the 8th standard, except of course Hindi and the local language. By age 12/13 one would have reached a level of proficiency where all students would have gained mastery in 3 languages including English. After 13, learning a new language is a bit tough.

3. We need to put in a much larger funding into education. Maybe it is time we make education free for all till the XIIth. Consider the developed countries. This could be the biggest investment decision that will bring in a huge change for the future. This could also create huge competition within India and improve us further. Why huge amounts have to go in infrastructure projects only?
Here I would like to write about Harshal Vibhandik, an investment banker from New York and a great social worker in Dhule, whom many people just don’t know. Quality of education matters more than the language. Digital education is the transformation. Vibhandik returned from the U.S., and propelled digital classrooms in over 1100 schools of Dhule Zilla Parishad. He is a hero and a role model for villagers, teachers and students. Actually thousands of students from private English schools moved to government schools of Marathi/ Dual medium schools, as quality of education was at a much higher level. All was possible due to his digital initiatives for schools and unique financial modelling to sustain the change, which the local bodies and even the state government supported actively.
The young generations and parents must also understand that eventually the connect with the markets and customers and business / financial success is in a local language or Hindi, though your learning is in English. We are no doubt the back office of the world due to the fact that we are far better than China as regards English is concerned, but there is a huge back office created for our own country in time to come using our own market and creating jobs within.
In the company that I head, we work for a lot of overseas clients with 75% of the staff not excelling in English and who hail from small towns and Tier 2 or 3 cities in Gujarat and a few other states. An English teacher trains them to excel gradually and we are doing very well with this model, which was promoted by my American Indian company owner. If you have the desire to learn any language, you can, provided you are interested enough and have a good teacher around,. Everything is possible -Yes, but someone has to drive this all. May be only a crazy politician can do it.

Written by Dinesh Bandiwadekar ( dinesh.bandiwadekar@gmail.com )
Dinesh Bandiwadekar launched Persona Academy ( http://www.personaacademy.in ) a personality development institute in Mumbai in 2014 after working for 30 years and currently holds a top position in an USA based Engg I.T. KPO which works for international clients. He can be reached at dinesh.bandiwadekar@gmail.com / 9619545460

2018-19: THE YEAR OF THE FALL – What do you learn from it and what your next generations should learn too… ( lessons for business owners, employers, and employees)

2018/19 saw the end of many powerful people and companies in the corporate world and business in India. Many well known persons and not so well known persons have lost face in the recent few years. What is the lesson to all of us and to the future generations? One does not need to be a Philip Kotler to understand or write about this, but anyone with extensive working experience across organisations can certify that the following is true…..

1. Lessons to Promoters, Shareholders, and Owners:

a)Never bank upon one person in the organization. No one is so great that he or she can do what the others cannot. Actually, do not overrate anyone or glorify one person.
b) Build a team of good people and good successors.
c) Train many of your staff well so that they can take up a bigger responsibility at an overall lower cost.
d) Build a brand name, do not build only individual strengths or select employees.
e) Develop all round resources. Do not allow people to build power centers. Do not allow key people to play politics.
f) Keep a close watch on your key employees – Are they ensuring the above 5 factors or are they also playing politics that other good people leave and they become indispensable.
g) This is the time of disruptions. New technology can put your business our of gear. Keep in touch with younger generations to learn new stuff.
g) Your HR head has to be as strong as your Operations head. Also, check if your HR head / team is hand in glove with the Operations head? Do not have an ornamental HR team, but have a real policeman’s approach here.
h) When your organization is doing very well, ensure that you build teams to balance strengths and share powers. If you are diversifying or openings new businesses, ensure that all is not controlled or dominated by one person.
i) If a lot of key people leave your organization, start acting fast and find out the reasons.
j) Never divert from the core competency of your organisation.
k) Do not rely on one external auditor, one consultant, one due diligence officer, one accounting head. Otherwise they could exploit the situation for the benefit of a few employees.
l) Ensure all the above people in K above, understand the domain of your business and not just balance sheets. Do they understand the idiosyncrasies of your business area or are just balancing figures and amounts on paper.
m) Do not value only hi-fi qualifications, but value commitment, hard work and longevity and trustworthiness of your employees too.
n) There is nothing to replace proper experience, no piece of glorified paper from any University can replace experience. Note that a person may be an excellent technocrat but he may be a poor marketer or a poor leader.
o) Ensure that you build leaders in your organization and not politicians and power mongers. Ensure your key team members build proper teams under them which you could use in the case of exit of some top people.
p) Do not overrate any particular academic degree. Ensure people know a wide range of skills. Check on the core competency of employees, and do not assume that they know other functions and that they have adequate leadership skills besides domain knowledge.
q) Intense competition and globalisation could turn your company redundant or its services or products irrelevant.

2. Lessons to employees:

a. When the going is good, you never know when there could be a fall. So prepare for a bad patch when the good patch lasts .
b. Its the time of outsourcing- you never know when you could not be required.
c. Build multiple skills.
d. Retirement age in the private sector is slowly coming down from the late ’50s to early ’50s, so plan for an early exit.
e. Know that you succeed more due to the strengths of your organization and less because of your personal capabilities. Know where you stand and know that in most cases organisations make people and in a fewer cases, people create businesses, but they in most of the time cannot create organsatiozs.
f. Do not invest in hi-fi expensive properties if you are doing well today as you never know when that could be a great burden later . Invest carefully. Or you could be worried about your EMIs for a long long time
g. You are as important as the seat you hold. People respect your chair. Once you are out of that chair, no one gives a damn.
h. High fliers or those who are successful in organisations must know that if possibly they were to get into business themselves, they would be failures, as doing business is extremely difficult and being part of large successful organisation is relatively extremely simple. In many cases incapable people survive in large organisations only because they flow with the success of the organisation.
i) Know your core competency and try to work around that. There is too much of a competition from thousands of academically qualified people, as capable as you, and a lot of street smart, not so qualified people.

3. Lessons to All

1. Money is not everything. There are a lot many things to do in life other than money or wealth or acquisitions.
2. Focus on building goodwill and relations and network with good people.
3. Everything that goes up comes down ( not just airlines ) is a simple thing accepted across many cultures and religions across the world.
4. Family ties, relations and transparency in person and business life is of utmost importance. No amount of wealth can replace these things. Money spoils relationships too.
5. Do not defer enjoying a good life till late in life. You may not be there or not have the wealth or have the mindset or the health to enjoy it in later life. Enjoy sports, exercise, travel and meet friends on a regular basis.
6. Eventually, you do not stay in a 2/3/4 BHK, but stay within your 250 cu.cm. brain and mind and in your thoughts.
7. Eventually, you need 6 ft x 4 ft space to spend 1/3 rd of your life ( sleeping ) and that has to be a proper sleep.
8. You need one simple car to move around and 3 square meals a day to live well and a roof over your head to be happy..
9. Have friends and time spent with old friends has no substitute. Nothing can replace the great feelings of being with old friends and relatives and no amount of property or wealth can replace relationships.
10. A lot of your success is based on fate and luck as well, not just your capabilities and hard work The latter do not change, but the earlier ones and government rules do ! ( demonetization, tax net and competition )
11. With changing wealth creation patterns, government rules and regulation, and the aspirations of the next generations, all your investments may not turn out to be perfect ones.
12. Donate – need not be money always, could be knowledge, could be guidance and counselling. Contribute to society and poor people around you , mentor the under privileged. This is also a way of wealth creation.

WITH LOVE & RESPECT TO THOSE BORN IN THE 1960’s

In the last few weeks some unique events happened in my life that set me thinking of my generation in depth- a retrospection which was much due considering that my active working life is now slowly on the way out and also coupled with the fact that my small business made me recently interact with hundreds of people, mostly half my age. The generation I am referring to is of those born in the 1960’s. The first few events were that I saw two movies based on PL Deshpande the famous Marathi actor, writer and intellectual, and also the movie Thackeray based on Bal Thackeray the Shiv Sena founder. The other event was that I met my old college friends at a get together at Dadar where I grew up, who all were born in the early 60’s.

All the discussions that happened in the get together of those close friends were based on our college days till mid eighties and the settings and events captured in the movies were in the era 1960s to 1990s. Though the events were Mumbai / Pune centric, they were, nevertheless possibly applicable to all those born in the early to mid sixties, all across India.

One thing that I realised in the past few weeks was the fact that those born in the sixties were extremely fortunate people. Fortunate, not in monetary terms, but in terms of living and life. Why ? Because, this particular generation has seen the most of the great changes in an entire lifespan that perhaps no generation in India has seen. What this particular generation has seen and experienced, perhaps no one prior to and later than in their mid fifties now, will ever experience.

This generation has seen it all. From the days of not having a refrigerator and a landline at home to times when people have the latest smart phone in hand, which is now extremely misused and which has taken over your life. The transition from going to a neighbour’s house to make or receive a phone call on a heavy, antiquated black phone piece to a 200 gram smart phone that tells you that you have to have your food. Through that journey was a push button electronic hand set landline , a cordless phone, a pager and an “‘un-smart mobile phone””. I remember asking my friends if they had a phone and a refrigerator at home in the 60s and 70s, and I remember having a FIAT or an Ambassador car was the sign of the super rich. All along school and college, I nurtured a dream of owning a second hand FIAT car which was finally realised after I turned 32, full ten years after I graduated. Today, my generation’s sons and daughters are taking cars and bikes to college.

I remember me and my friends scheduling a meeting together 7 days in advance and honouring a commitment to meet, without calling or speaking to each other in the intervening period, as there was no way to get in touch.

This is a generation that had the best of exposure to our own culture, our own languages / mother tongue and a fantastic reading exposure to a foreign language- English. This was a generation that went to Marathi and other vernacular medium schools, yet spoke English quite well in due course of time. International schools were unheard of. Going to Balmohan Vidyamandir, RM Bhat, ANZA and other neighbourhood schools was just the perfect thing to do, and branded schools and colleges and foreign boards were unheard of. Becoming an engineer or doctor meant that you had made it to a very few colleges in the state and that you were really good at studies.

This was the generation that knew the BeeGees and also knew our own PuLa’s, Gadimas and Shrinivas Khale’s. This generation read Enid Blyton ( Famous Five/ Secret Seven ), Mills & Boon, Tin Tin comics and also Faster Phene ( Marathi ) in school, and later Agatha Christie, Irving Wallace, W Franklin Dixon, Arthur Hailey and also James Hadley Chase ( the last being read secretly after parents were asleep ) ; besides reading famous Indian language books by P L Deshpande , and poems by G(a) D(i) Madgulkar, literature by V(i) S(a) Khandekar, Acharya Atre and others- all borrowed from libraries with great effort and walking & cycling . This was a generation which was extremely comfortable in their own mother tongues and also in English. The environment that prevailed during that time, would not let you be anything else. Now the same generation is quite happy with Kindle, Amazon, Whats App and Twitter, but misses the old world charm of books. Unfortunately this generation finds their own next generation, not reading anything at length other than their academic studies, and busy forwarding short messages and jokes all the time- which hardly adds to their knowledge or content- despite having all books on Amazon and Kindle to read.

This is a generation that has seen huge changes in India’s fortune, experiencing poverty like situation to stable prosperity 20 years later, and later on also experiencing the pitfalls of excessive investments beyond their own means in properties more than what was possibly required. This generation was one that went to US for studying only if one had ample funds or was getting a scholarship or was having an uncle out there. Migration to another country for education meant a return to India after a 2 year ‘Vanvas’. The same generation sees their children return in 3 months for the Christmas break, after starting their fall semester. Isn’t that prosperity for you ? An extra tuition class besides your college education was unthinkable for many, while the same generation sees their kids going to expensive classes for all kinds of things, for possibly no reason. This generation was comfortable driving vehicles such as Fiat and Ambassador ( which were obsolete even then ) and are now happy driving high class automatic transmission cars. This is the generation that used a T Square, a Drafter, Log Tables, Scientific Calculators and then Computers. They used crazy programs like Fortran, Cobol and Pascal, and later went on to use MS office and PPTs and laptops only in their mid thirties- but are now proficient with the latest in software. This generation possibly used PPTs in their mid thirties after having made slide transparencies on plastic sheets, using overhead projectors ! Now the same generation also uses the latest toys for office meetings like PPT on Windows 10 ! Any yes, this generation does not understand how anyone becomes an AVP or VP or GM at age 30, and with no one working under them, and without any powers. For us, a Manager post itself meant something big, sometime back .

This is a generation that thrived on playing real games, being physical and working out on the grounds. Also, from watching just 2 channels of DD ( Doordarshan ) airing some fantastic programmes in Hindi ( Phool Khile Hai Gulshan Gulshan, Chitrahaar, Ramayan, MAhabharat, Buniyaad, the Sunday movie at 6 pm, stupid jokes of Yakub Sayeed and Babban Prabhu on a Sunday morning, and Marathi master piece programmes like Gajra ) and other Indian languages , this generation now also flips through 150 channels dishing out bad debates. This generation has seen it all. This generation waited for test matches which were played only once in a while, and waited for their heroes like Sunil Gavaskar to reach his century and Kapil Dev to get his next wicket – all on a 21 inch B&W TV.

Only Quality of life ( just like on the 2 TV channels ) mattered and Quantity of things possessed just did not- since those did not exist. This generation still has a value system in place, like mutual respect and friendships . A generation that saw all- frugality, comfort and excess. It however knows even today that not having something does not matter, and there is a lot to have and be happy, even when not actually possessing many things physically.

This generation however carries the responsibility to convey to the next few generations- be frugal, don’t be possessive, and that to be happy actually is a state of your mind and not a state of your pocket. There is a lot of nice things to enjoy in life like healthy interactions with others, reading great books, watching drama, theatre, mehfils as seen in the 2 movies of Pu.La. As we discovered in our get together, Memories and Friendships are to be possessed and nurtured rather than only shares and properties- the latter which you never take away with you.

Born in the 1960’s ? Maan…you are lucky! Give yourself a pat on your back !

By
Dinesh Bandiwadekar
http://www.PersonaAcademy.in

Badly needed- more IIMs, IITs, IAS, IPS, IRS, IES and the likes, on every street……..pl read till the very end.

As the Thanksgiving week approaches in the USA, many would wonder what relevance it has to India. More so, you will wonder what the title of the article has to do with it!

Thanksgiving is not just an American phenomenon. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated also in Canada, some of the Caribbean islands, and even of all places, Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan, and of course, not to forget our own country India. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.

With what is going on in our country, I think it is time to celebrate the same in India, possibly the way it is celebrated in the USA for the past many decades. That’s the time of the year Americans say “Thanks” to their parents, relatives, friends, clients and mentors. Though now not really connected just with the harvest, Thanksgiving connects families and many people working together. You see children coming home to their parents for a great family dinner at least this time of the year, and it is the time when you see a huge surge in traffic on the interstate highways, the airports etc.

Thanksgiving “per se” / by itself, is what Indians have almost forgotten. That is precisely what we must start learning and training young people in this country. If you watch the TV debates on various channels in India, what are we getting known for?: Insulting others, Criticising others, Backstabbing, Playing office politics, Corruption, Open fights- physical or otherwise, reckless and mannerless driving , misbehaviour towards women ? ( in comparison, watch the polite way in which debates happen on BBC and CNN ) . This is the best sign of a country deteriorating in ethics and public behaviour.

Today, we aren’t able to appreciate a single thing that is going on in our country. We are not able to applaud any good work done by anyone. We have also stopped appreciating good manners and propagating the same. All that the younger generation is now learning is, how to find faults, how to make more money, how to become more popular, how to push others behind to go ahead. We are not able to develop basic courtesies in life, have basic manners in place and follow basic public rules. From the way top political leaders talk in TV debates and argue in a manner less way, with even some political leaders going overseas and criticising our own countrymen openly, industrialists looting banks and disappearing abroad, down to the ordinary citizen not following basic traffic rules and courtesies, all these are signs that from top to bottom we are a society that has no basic grooming in place or we have lost all the values we had.

My personal experiences were a number of relatives who came for a number of years to my home when I was a kid to seek help and financial assistance. That was definitely at some cost which affected my education and life as well as during those frugal times, even any amount was a big packet. After their motives were achieved they never even bothered to inquire about my family. I always thought that it was a one-off incident. As I progressed to my job and business, I saw it happen unfortunately everywhere.

To ensure that we change over years and not get recognised as “one of the fastest growing and possibly the largest economies BUT with the least of morals, ethics and manners, the time has come to revamp our education system- from KG to PG!

We need more IITs, IIMs, IAS, IPS, IES and IRS and the likes. Surprising ? Not at all. I mean we do not really need any more of the elite institutes producing well-paid monsters who possibly make a difference to their own pockets, BUT we need on every Indian street- Indian Institutes of Thanksgiving, Indian Institute of Manners, Indian Appreciation Services, Indian Privacy Services, Indian Ethical Services and Indian Reciprocation Services. We need to change the mindset, manners and behavioural training of our future generations, starting from school level. We need basic changes in our society for the masses and not just focus on imparting high-level education for a small fraction of our society. The change in our behaviour will take us a long way for future and future generations to come. It is time to focus on the basics. We need a huge cultural change happening all across the society to take this great nation forward. Otherwise, we are bound to have a tagline very soon….”Just economic development, no ethics”.

Have a Thanksgiving weekend beginning 23rd November at your home this year. Let’s begin from home, thanking all those who mattered in your life right from your early days. Why celebrate only Valentines Day?
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Written by Dinesh Bandiwadekar
Director http://www.personaacademy.in