98% marks: Congratulations ….52% marks: Congratulations in advance – you could do much better and be “ Qualified to Succeed in Life” – just do the right thing now.

As the “Results Season” dawns in India with all Boards – Central and various States declaring the results, students and parents go into an ecstasy mode if their children have done very well, and those whose children have not, resign to the fate that they are not going to make it big in life. These “marks” which many a times even touch 100 /100 in many subjects, have made people think that these are only the parameters of future success. Unfortunately adults, parents, the media and the coaching classes and private for profit universities have created such a hype that we are turning to be a nation of so called highly educated brilliant students, but most of whom do not deliver in life. The many competitive exams that our students keep working for over years and trying to excel in have actually made our younger generation follow meaningless pursuits and forget other better aspects of life.

This is the most appropriate “season” or time, to tell our youngsters and even our parents, the real facts of learning, education, life and happiness. This is the time when teenagers to be told that if you have not succeeded in getting a good score in exams, nothing, and really nothing matters much

Parents, if you always wondered what will happen to your children if they do not excel in studies, let me tell you that your fears are extremely unfounded. If they excel in studies, there is no guarantee that they will excel in life and reach high positions. If they do not excel in studies, there is actually a greater chance that they will succeed in life- provided their leadership qualities, interpersonal skills, language skills and many other aspects of their personality are developed. Some of the best political leaders, best business persons, best corporate leaders are not having great academic skills/ certifications/ degrees. They are simply great leaders and that’s why they are there. Some of the best CEOs and leaders are excellent speakers at forums, have a wonderful thought process and convincing abilities and extra ordinary knowledge, but in many cases they were not brilliant in academics. At least they were not toppers ! Why? It is only because during their many formative years they were exposed to far more than books and academics only. May be they were involved in a lot of extra curricular activities, had innumerable friends which we now call as “networking” and developed many qualities which actually matter in life more than your marks or academic excellence.

With my 30 + years of working experience in responsible positions in India and overseas, I feel academics plays just 25% role in the success of your career or in the success in your life . The rest 75% that will make a difference in your profession, career and life is your leadership skills, your self esteem, your confidence level, your convincing abilities, your communication skills, your interpersonal skills, your dynamism, your networking ability, your ability to interact with a wide range of people, and your ability to lead teams . Unless you are a surgeon/ doctor, a scientist/ research engineer, or someone really hands on technical- only then academics may play a greater role in your success than other qualities. For the remaining 90% of the masses , it is your leadership ability, soft skills, your personality that will take you places . It is most important to build your personality along with your study skills for a real success in life. The earlier you start, the better. 75% of the best jobs actually seek out people with excellent personalities and very few people really are looking out only for academic talent.

Ten years in the Middle East exposed me at times to some of the UK based schools that a lot of people sent their students to. I was amazed at the skills in communication, impromptu speaking, confidence levels, and clarity of thought and expression that even 12 year olds had, even the Indian ones. It was obvious that these schools focused right from the beginning on these areas , which are practical requirements of life, and not just academic excellence. Most American schools and universities have on going testing during the entire year , where you evaluate a student with a test at the end of the lecture or at the end of the week, ensuring the student actually learns “during the lecture” itself, rather than at the end of the year. I know we will come to that stage sometime now or later, but all the many years that our schooling / educational system has taught us has either not being relevant fully to our lives or they have not being instrumental in improving our thought processes. I realized in USA that a Community College diploma holder, who has landed up there as his family cannot raise a huge sum for University fees, is far better in his work and focused on the job than an Indian engineer qualified as a BTech or BE. In Dubai I noted that the Italian Technician with 10+2 education at a Polytechnique was far better hands on in his work than many Indian engineers put together, due to his training at work/ internship.

At my personality development institute I have encountered “scholars” with 95%+ marks who are shy, or unable to articulate a point or who have great problems in confidence and also very weak in spoken English despite getting 90%+ marks. I have “professionals” coming in who are doing quite skilled jobs and holding responsible positions but who are unable to handle bosses or colleagues, speak at meetings and hold fort in important meetings with clients. I guess there are a lot many things that are just not right while we learn during a long 17 -18 year learning process.. That could have something to do with our parents, schooling and the government. A very minor fraction of our population is of course is super excellent and goes on to head large corporation internationally, but is that what we seek as a country ?

Specially in my last 20 years of work, I noticed 2 types of professionals. Both types had equally good domain knowledge of their work / subjects. One type had in addition, excellent communication skills and were also good in many different areas like Public Relations, making friends, winning over people , clients and making excellent personal contacts. These guys/ gals most probably were also more active in extra curricular activities during school & college times. I noticed that these guys moved up the corporate ladder very fast and moved on to take on wider & higher roles and responsibilities. The other type also did well, but only those who had a really excellent domain knowledge did make a good mark. I am pretty sure that all the others in this second type, if had rounded off their personalities well in time, could have got a lot more in return.

In fact I remember a large multinational company hired only one person from a choice of many, during the placement season at my engineering college due to his other abilities than just academics. This person had a poor academic record of several ATKTs, Today the same person runs a very successful electrical products manufacturing company- not just because of his technical knowledge, but due to his DYNAMISM and being extremely MARKET SAVVY and STREET SMART. These word in CAPS have nothing to do with your marks. I have seen highly qualified people from top institutions of engineering and management who have not made any mark in life, as they were very inhibited in their approach, were selfish and lacked leadership and team building skills.

Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge. ( like Technology, Science, Accounting, Engineering, Software etc )

It doesn’t matter if you did not receive the best academic training from a top university or a great school. A person with less education who has fully developed their overall skills will be far more successful than a person with an impressive education who falls short in these other categories. Yes, it is certainly great to be good in academics, be an intelligent person good in math, science and logic etc ,and be a rational thinker, have a high IQ; all these are an important assets ….but you must realize these are not enough. Your IQ will help you personally, but other things will benefit you and everyone around you as well. If you can master the complexities of these unique and often under-rated forms of intelligence such as communication skills, team building skills, leadership skills, networking, research tells us you will achieve greater success and be regarded as more professionally competent and capable.

In many developed countries the above qualities are rated as a great form of competence along with typical academics. I want to tell young boys and girls- marks are just ONE thing for success . So if you do not have great marks, just don’t get bogged down by it. There are so many things in life that you can excel in, provided you are well developed as a person, a great human being . Why do we glorify only board toppers ? Why do not we give publicity to those who top armed forces exams, police entrance exams, fireman exams, social workers, sportsmen and good politicians too ? Are these not essential professions ? Don’t these services need great people and is that not a form of achievement? Why don’t we congratulate and have awards for small entrepreneurs. In many cases to excel in many areas that are relevant to our country or elsewhere , you need different levels of achievements other than academics. We must change the way we look at marks. The change must start with parents, with schools and the government.

Recently I asked one of my Asst. Managers who is an Engineer-MBA from a good university, who has super excellent marks if she and her brother had read during school -Famous Five, Secret Seven, Hardy Boys, Mills & Boon, and Tin Tin- forget Shakespeare .Unfortunately she did not know any of these books or its authors like Enid Blyton or Franklin Dixon, something my generation of youngsters devoured during school days. Then I asked her marks in English during the boards, and it was a fantastic figure. I could only tell her that she has missed out on life in the process of scoring great marks ! The real charm of learning, growing up and studying is getting lost under the super tough academic competition. Lets us admit that thousands who get 100% in science and math at the SSC/CBSE levels do not make it in the IIT entrance. So young people, do not give too much importance to the marks. It is not a guarantee for anything. It does not tell your real competence.

For those who seek degrees or achieving academic qualifications in life , or even those who think they will “miss the bus” of professional qualifications, do not worry- it is possibly the best time for you . Nowadays you can get any degree from anywhere in India or in the world. The options are many: full time / part time / correspondence/ on line or just by sending your fees/ payment ( unfortunately ) ! Many well known educational institutions are into this business now , selling degrees or other certifications in bulk. So everyone is going to be a qualified person, regardless of your marks. Many US / UK universities are full of Indian students now. Not because of the fact that Indians are well educated and intelligent, but because their parents could pay the fees or take loans. So even there are going to be too many foreign returned educated persons. ‘It is all about money’ -is the another story that is taking shape in India. You may thus be “qualified” in the academic sense. In this scenario of oversupply of all professionals, the questions to ask yourself are: Are you good enough to beat the competition…… are you employable…. whether you can be a leader / entrepreneur?, more specifically : Are you “QUALIFIED TO SUCCEED IN LIFE” ? That may not need great marks in the first place. You just need to keep working on yourself continuously- with specific work related skills and life skills: not a one time academic certification.

Written by Dinesh Bandiwadekar- Director of Persona Academy, http://www.personaacademy.in


CXO’s @ Rs 30 million per annum & sales executives at Rs. 30,000 per month……The fallacy of paying exhorbitant salaries to CXOs- the time for promoters owners to think seriously

Recent pay packages to so called professional CEO/CXO’Ss have reached the sky. Nothing seems to be the limit. Salaries like Rs. 20 to 50 million per annum seem to be common. Yet, how really effective are these CXOs in changing the fate of their organisation ? Are they really worth that much. And really, how long do they last in their organisations to make a long term difference ? What are the repercussions of their salaries on the morale of their staff ? How do the CXO’s really convince the management that they are worth that much ?

The first point that comes to the mind- is the CEO/CXO’S the founder or promoter of the business ? Did he take the organisation to a great success from scratch. If not, if he was introduced into the organisation after the business reached great heights, was it his achievement ? If not, does he really deserve the pay ?

The second point is what does such a guy do after taking charge? Normally to show his utility and hide his expense, he tries to cut corners- he sacks a few people drawing say Rs 30 lakhs a year. 5 people terminated means he has saved Rs 1.5 crore/ 15 million , say 50% of his salary he has saved ! Another Rs 1.5 crore/ 15 million comes from reducing advertising and travelling budget due to “austerity” measures ! – so he can now show the management that his salary is recovered ! . Such CEO/CXO’Ss always immediately on joining cut expenses on advertising, marketing, sales, personnel & travel and even company lunch to cut costs and show profits, but these are the same decisions that cost the companies several millions of rupees in sales & profits!!

The other things this type of CEO/CXO’S does is introduce new work measurement and extensive reporting formats to make performance measurements sound more professional. The formats are too cumbersome, academic and possibly developed in another set up earlier where the CEO/CXO’S worked – and not applicable to current organisation. Another thing he does is reshuffle the organisation chart and create new divisions and verticals. All this in reality disturbs a well settled organisation and does not bring in any tangible value. As the CEO/CXO’S is new,
the management does not object and the staff does not dare to protest.
At this point of time, 3 to 6 months have passed !! ( Rs 10 miilion Nett after tax is in the CEO/CXO’Ss bag by now ) . Company has not shown any improvement , in fact there deterioration in sales & profitability.

What next ?… the management is slowly starting to get jittery over their selection of the CEO/CXO’S ( & his salary )….Really when can we see improvement in sales and the bottom line, they ask ?…The CEO/CXO’S in the board meeting says that he is just settling down, and the management should see a distinct difference in operations in a few months time…..the CEO/CXO’S then identifies a few people who are in the salary range of Rs 3 to 4 million per annum. He slowly tells them to leave and replaces a few with half their salaries, but not even with 25% of their competence. Great- the salary bill drops by another Rs 10 million. The CEO/CXO’S has something to talk about !!!
At this stage 9 to 12 months have passed !! ( Rs 20 million Nett after tax is in the CEO/CXO’S’s bag ) . Company has not shown any improvement , in fact there is further deterioration in sales & profitability.

What next……at the next AGM, there is serious discussion about the company’s performance. The owners are really wondering their decision to hire the CEO/CXO’S was correct. They question the CEO/CXO’S. His answer is -all efforts taken are in more or less correct direction, and next year the results of this will be seen….my assurance. The CEO/CXO’S that day goes home, a lot of tension on his head. He has already chucked out a few guys, cut down on some really important expenses , tried some cosmetic measures to change the company, but now what ? What next can be done? The market situation is too bad within the country, China is destroying his market share, and no idea will really change his sales and business. The CEO/CXO’S knows he is losing out. He takes out his laptop, searches for his last CV ,and updates the same !.

Next day at work…..he takes stock of his people & targets. he feels they are not performing, not him. He fires a couple of more guys , and brings in some high sounding designated people who were loyal to him in the earlier company. Salaries?- at 50% more than those fired. He tells the new guys that he wants RESULTS . He then goes back to his laptop and uploads his fresh CV to many consultants loyal to him whom he had given business for recruiting in his earlier organisations as a client. At the same time, as a last ditch effort hires an expensive management consultant to make a report on his company.( Owned by a jobless friend of his from his MBA batch of the 80’s/90’s ! ). The consultants “consults” the employees , takes a lot of information from them, and makes his nicely worded report in English and packs the old wine in a new bottle. The CEO/CXO’S settles the RS 10 million bill of the consultant and organises a lot of procedural / organizational changes , which saves a few millions more in salaries, but does not improve anything !! By this time, 15 months have passed !! ( Rs 25 million Nett after tax is in the CEO/CXO’Ss bag ) . The company has not shown any improvement , in fact there is further deterioration in sales & profitability.

In the next quarterly meeting, the CEO/CXO’S is taken to task by the board. The CEO/CXO’S has nothing much to say. His power point slides which he mastered during his MBA, do not reveal much as to how the future will change. The economic situation in the country and the Chinese belwo cost products have ruined the market, and even God cannot do anything. The CEO/CXO’S goes home, gives final touches to his CV and sends it to his HR consultant friends and to people he knows. Another 3 months have passed. The CEO/CXO’Ss bag is Rs 30 million full.

What next ??? The management has started the search for a new candidate. The CEO/CXO’S s is aware of this , but by this time his new flat that he booked at Powaii is almost ready. He is looking for a job now in Andheri East and not at Mahalaxmi The sales do not improve ,the collections do not improve, the bottom line takes a hit. The CEO/CXO’S complains to his wife that the management does not understand his long term plan for the organization, and does not appreciate his top business school MBA knowledge and have a Baniya mentality – and that he is finally fed up. As a last ditch effort, he tries to get in SAP- something that he is not aware of at all. He calls his Engineering college hostel mate who heads a SAP company, and agrees for a contract of Rs 30 million.

The management comes to know this. They meet at a Malabar Hill flat of one of the directors & decide to throw the guy out in 3 months. The same night the CEO/CXO’S has taken stock of his earnings in 2 years- Rs 55 million after tax. The empty “gala” under his under completion Powaii building is on his radar for purchase and a plan to start a consultancy business after retiring “early” is on the cards . He writes the cheque for the down payment……. A new consultant has emerged ! .Next day, luckily there is a call from his consultant friend for a CEO/CXO’S level position in another public limited company. The CEO/CXO’S rushes for the interview, shows his salary slip and luckily gets the job at Rs. 40 million per annum negotiating a 30% pay hike. Finally another “BAKRA” Company ( scapegoat )has been found by the CEO/CXO’S. Spending the next 2 years at least is not going to be a problem !!! A new CEO/CXO’S has arrived…..two more years of fooling around to be done and then to operate from the Powaii office of his own !!!!

Next week, after receiving the offer letter, the CEO/CXO’S calls a meeting in his current company. He privately expresses his ” gross disappointment” over the management not being clear in its objectives and hence he would like to move on as it is waste of time for him in the current organisation. A story is over.
By the time the guy leaves his office, Rs. 6o million with tax has gone down the drian. A lot of lower salaried employees at the same time also did not contribute properly as they felt that they were really UNDERPAID compared to the CE,O who they were sure was doing nothing.


Actually when you hire a CEO/CXO’S at Rs 30 million p.a.& above and all other staff is at an average salary of Rs 1.5 million p.a., automatically you have send a signal to the CEO/CXO’S that he is GOD and all the others below are idiots. The excellent guys down the line also accept willingly that if the CEO/CXO’S is so good to get a fantastic pay, then let him do wonders for the organisation, why should I show results at such a ( comparatively ) paltry pay ?

Solutions to avoiding such CEO/CXO’Ss and avoiding losing tons of money are simple HR rules- old ones from the time there were no similar types of Sr.VP / EVP -HRs , and the rules are are still very effective:

1. Do not have more than 20-25% of salary as difference between 2 consecutive levels of hierarchy at top 3 levels in the organisation. Distribute pay & responsibilities equitably.
2. Pay commissions to staff on sales and other performance related incentives. The performance related should touch 50%-100% of the salary
3. Identify performers and groom them to take over higher positions. Train them at your cost. You do not need hi fi qualified candidates.
4. The pay scales at mid management levels should have 15 to 20% difference and at top 3 levels at 25% difference. In NO way, should your CEO/CXO’S draw Rs 30 million and your VPs Rs 4 -5 million, and your Managers just Rs 1.5-2 million and your field sales staff Rs 200,000 P.A. This huge difference in pay scales is destroying organisations and not motivating anyone. If you distribute the CEO/CXO’S’s salary as performance bonus to staff, your company will not need a CEO/CXO’S and will do twice the business that the overpaid & insecure CEO/CXO’S can do.
5. Assure promotions to people on a regular basis with higher positions/ promotions and just 20% higher pay every promotion. You will soon find CEO/CXO’Ss, Presidents and VPs from within who are happy, and work at normal pay levels and who deliver, rather than the monsters that you buy from the market at over valued salary levels..
6. No human being is so supreme to change business situations, or change market sentiments, or a failing economy and direct hundreds of employees to double their output. Do not try to find one.
Even Godmen cannot change the fate of an organization due to depressed market conditions, and Chinese pricing, forget an ordinary mortal doing it, whom you have put on a pedestal just because of his professional & hyped up degrees or past experience in another organization..

A company or organisation runs on its own strength , not on the strengths of one person. So build your organisation, do not build your CEO/CXO’S’s status & wealth . All the difference can be made by all your people in the organisation. So do not waste your money on one or five special persons , better invest in all your employees.

The middle and lower end of your pyramid actually delivers results and is responsible for the quality , speed and profitability of output and not the top end. Put your money on the right resources.

Rather than pay one person the salary of 50 to 100 average people, pay all the average people 10-20% more in terms of profit sharing or sales revenue or for productivity, and see the results improve dramatically all over. This fundamental change will ensure that no person above a crore / 10 million of rupees of salary is ever required.


Written by Dinesh Bandiwadekar: has personally seen great companies go down the drain with the above phenomenon. He is Director of Persona Academy.


It is very common nowadays to see talented people getting out of work or losing a job and having very few options as far as work and business is concerned. Even people in early & late forties are becoming part of this phenomenon which was earlier restricted to people in their fifties. Why are educated and “qualified” people seeing difficult days like these? Is it that they were bad in their work ? The answer is NO. What does one do to avoid this situation, where so called educated & qualified people are in over supply and techno savvy younger people are taking over jobs of the older people at lesser salaries ?

As one matures in his work in any organization, and goes up the hierarchy, his contribution shifts into delegating , directing and guiding younger people in their work. His work becomes less of a “hands on” execution of a task, but more of extracting work from other skilled persons. He soon assumes leadership and a team building role to achieve results rather than involving himself in the finer details.

At this higher level, your confidence, leadership skills, communication skills, other soft skills, motivational abilities, and general team building abilities count a lot. Not all managers are leaders, but leaders could become great managers. To move beyond a particular level in any organization you do need a wide range of skills and not just be an expert in your area of work.

These skills also matter a lot while interacting with clients, and while handling client facing roles. Your top management is certainly keeping a close look into all your abilities.

The higher level positions thus need an excellent personality and good soft skills.
As and when you grow up in stature in a Company, you move from being a skilled specialist into a skilled supervisor, and then a leader, a motivator & a guide. In short you have started mentoring people. If you do not go through these phases gradually , you perhaps are not really a senior management person.
Do look at the following age related progress expected from your side if you are to really succeed well in your career on a long term. It is also assumed that you know your core work well , such as Engineering, Supply Chain, Sales, Accounts, Finance, etc.

Age 23- 25 Trainee ( Learner )

Age 26-30 Asst. Manager / Manager ( Hard working, ground level operative , delivering results)

Age 30-40 A mature “senior manager / head of a department” with 5 to 20 people reporting to you. You play a detailed business role, supervising a team to deliver results. You do a part of the work, and oversee others doing the same for overall results. You build networks. You are improving very fast in your soft skills as well, and also on the way to become a better personality.

Age 40-45 Leader, motivator, team builder. You start having an overall control of the operations. You direct managers and future leaders . You have developed excellent presentation skills, meeting co-ordination skills by this time, and you have good soft skills at this stage. You have excellent networking skills by this time. Sr. GM / VP level designations.

Age 50-58 Leader, Motivator, Team Builder, Advisor, Guide / All aspects of mentoring …here you start being an important pillar of the company. Here you guide the senior managers . The positions that you normally are in :President/ COO/ CEO .

In this modern and competitive world, perhaps many people will be out of the Rat Race or will not be “in sync” with the requirements/ or will not really progress well in their career beginning their 40’s. This is not due to not having technical / professional skills, but because falling short of leadership , personality & soft skills. Even those with very good technical / professional skills may get stuck in their careers at this stage and find that they are not progressing.
For this survival , the senior managers/ top management personnel must have developed in them- by the time they are 40 , several essential aspects of a great personality, have excellent soft skills and more importantly great leadership skills. You have to accept that whatever specific technical work you can do, perhaps a much younger person can do it (do better as well ) – at a much lesser cost. Hence you need to contribute in a much different way with your work experience. which much younger people just cannot. At the higher level of management you need to be business oriented, people oriented, client oriented, have excellent contacts – business & social, have excellent networking skills and have great directional skills. You should not be doing too much work much yourself – ( you are not expected to do that ) and you need not be a specialist of more than one areas, but you need to get the work done from others as there are a lot many things to accomplish in a short time. This is the time you are “Creating Managers” in your organization from a long term perspective of your Company. In short, you must be a great personality yourself by this time, a leader and a motivator first. When you get elevated to top level management positions, ask yourself if you have these qualities.

When you lose a job , keep in mind you will get a better one with your personality and leadership abilities rather than one particular skill- because just that skill will be with many younger people, working at half your cost. Also while moving from one career to another or from one type of job to another- you will need to be a good leader with good personality traits and soft skills. It’s a very competitive world that we are living in. While technology can be a game changer, it can close down some businesses and wipe out many roles and positions, also competition can destroy your company. BUT nothing can affect your ability to make a come back or find another job if you have wide ranging qualities. It’s not so easy to be a specialist till you are 58, but it is possible to be a leader, a team builder, a great supervisor and a great motivator guiding other managers and specialists.

Written by
Dinesh Bandiwadekar
Director Persona Academy

My son is IIT IIM……I don’t care about others

The questions that worry young students and parents alike in India are:

1.What is a deadly combination of educational qualifications for a great corporate job ?
2.How my son will draw a salary as a management trainee which can be more than what I got at retirement?
3. How much wealth can be accumulated by me and my next generation ?
4. How many Second and Third homes can I invest in?
5. Where will land prices appreciate the most?

As a fast growing nation where the wealthier are getting more wealthy and the poorer getting more poor, we have to really expedite a cultural change to call ourselves progressive, educated and intelligent. Why? Read on,,,,,,

A massive change in thinking about others and about our inward happiness is a must. We glorify our highly educated and talented professionals so much that the rest who are underprivileged and unfortunate- are a distinct secondary citizens. Our idea of an intelligent professional is one who is successful in accumulating all for himself. Nowhere does our school and college education teach us values of compassion, love and consideration for the real needy and poor. Nowhere do they teach us manners that you must have when you are in public , or when are you driving in India or elsewhere and how to behave in offices in India and overseas with others. Nowhere do they teach you human values and how to be a great boss or a great individual in society. Neither anyone teaches you compassion and nor ever anyone tells you to donate something to the poor . .If anyone attempted to do that for you , then they are outdated old fashioned.

For us, competence in education is everything. We proudly rattle off our qualifications. Little do we know that despite our so called best brains and learning skills , we are a highly and grossly a community that is selfish, uncaring, non compassionate and highly ignorant of what the developed countries call as real education, and development.

So where does education and learning start? Real learning starts when you are very young and when your parents and school teachers influence your behavior and not just your academics. The real learning starts when someone teaches you to help others and be compassionate with those having problems.. No problem if you accumulate wealth but did you even give 5 percent of your wealth to the needy?. May be you were never told to do it …neither in school nor by your parents .We are taught to respect our elders but we were never taught to assist the disabled and poor. We were taught to board a crowded bus or a train but not taught to give way to others even if they are weaker than you This deficiency in our thinking gets reflected in our work later in life when even as engineers and bureaucrats we do not even think of insist on basic ramps and toilets for the disabled and wheelchair bound. . It’s all due to our grooming and training right from school days and our childhood.

The real education is not whether you are a very successful IIT IIM graduate or similar or a great doctor or engineer or lawyer or a finance professional. The real education is whether you are a human being who thinks for others. This is where developed countries beat us hands down. We are nowhere. We are a damn selfish set of people in a possessive economy. Just taking pride in our GDP growth is no sign of progress. Progress is what we can do for the poor and those in trouble. We are just nowhere in this aspect.
As a result of our inconsiderate behavior towards others we find highly qualified bosses and even average people who do not know how to behave with deputies and colleagues. We have corrupt and dishonest people who just think about themselves and make money illegally and even teachers in schools who write off and insult children with severe learning disabilities. In the developed nations like USA these things are never tolerated. It is not necessarily the law… It is their culture and upbringing that changes everything. This is the real sign of being professional and highly competent. Not being IIT-IIM and likewise . Time to redefine success to succeed as a nation. How many of our highly paid professional help society in any way or contribute even a small fraction of their wealth ?

One should see the facilities for the disabled in an educated economy . The law for implementing these things comes in much later…. …first comes the thinking and grooming to think about the others. We need not do so much as done is the developed west… but atleast a ramp and toilets for the disabled to start with. That will show we are changing.


I, me and “Mein Mein hoon”

In one of my meetings in the USA a few years ago, as a true Indian salesman I rattled off my company’s achievements and for sometime did not even notice the appreciation expressed on every point by my potential American client. I was meeting him for the first time and was keen on impressing him in the short time that I thought I will get. For every point I made I got a response like “hey that’s great”, “that’s wonderful”, “wow”, “it’s interesting ” and so on. In between my potential client told me some nice things about his company and relevant to the points I made. I waited for him to finish and then I finished the balance points I had to tell.

Little did I know that I had lost half the battle. I had not expressed any appreciation nor shown my willingness to listen to his point of view.

Several visits to the USA on business taught me a lot of the American psyche which is not necessarily to do only with business. There is a big difference between how an American thinks and how an Indian from India does. The interaction Indians have is to win anything they enter in and actually they lose a lot in the process. We think we are special. We think our brain is superior and our math and science and general computational skills are out of the world. We feel we are exceptionally great in many things.

The reality is that we are not trained to think that there are more important things in life to worry and think about. Bhai… “Hum..hum hai”….”Mein Mein hoon”….we have been brought up that way from childhood….. Our schools produce “talent” is what we think is 99 percent marks! When we enter a developed nation like the USA ,that is nothing…. They have achieved a lot more with a lot less of this “intelligence” stuff. Their achievements are far bigger. And we are yet to realise that actually we have to build a great change in our systems very soon, “to succeed”.

The training in India from childhood is a lot different right from beginning than that given in the USA. Ours is missing out on so many things practically, not necessarily academically or theortically. We are not trained to listen patiently to others, big or small , older or younger. We are not trained to appreciate the points others are making. We are not trained to say “hi /hello”, ” how you are doing”, “good bye”, “have a good day” and “drive home or reach safely”. Our culture says respect elders but practically what that means is when a boss enters the office, the juniors have to say ” hello sir” or “good morning sir ” and not the other way. Why can’t the boss say “Hi Ramesh” or “Hi Deepa” before they wish him? . In fact the story in many Indian offices is that many a times the boss does not even greet his deputy back. The peon is supposed to salute the boss but the boss need not even smile back at him !

Actually all this stems out of our upbringing. We have never changed our upbringing. We think our old culture and grooming is great, based on our mythology and history. No it is not always that way…. Let us change. Let us greet, appreciate, respect everyone… not just your superiors or elders or clients . Let us gradually retrain ourselves…..many small things happen to be actually big issues elsewhere and could lose you goodwill, lose face and lose even business if we do not retrain.

Do you rush in to a lift before others or get in even before those inside come out? Do you jump a queue even accidentally? Do you walk into an office and not say hi to the receptionist? Do you have adequate driving manners and road courtesies ?

The American education system and parental training trains you a lot about this. It’s all about respecting others- big or small, elder or younger. We have to take their good points and incorporate in our training in school. Our schools emphasise to learn more and win…. Other school systems train you to live well and let others also win. They achieve many things even before winning. We lose so many things while winning or trying to win.

I had an important meeting going on in the USA when my client got a call on his pager from the Fire department and left the meeting immediately after apologising for his sudden exit. He was a volunteer in the FIRE department of the local county. He was on call that day as a trained free paramedic to save heart attack patients. His training and upbringing …. Someone’s life is more important than making money.

Another client I met had left engineering to move into farming. My Indian colleague questioned him immediately … “Is there more money in that?” His answer: “don’t know…. but it’s more enjoyable.”

We need to retrain our children into how they look at life. We should stop being achievement oriented and being possessive. All these have resulted in huge problems in our society. We have also created monstrous corruption in this process. Our “I” is more important than “we”. Actually in the process “we” are nowhere as a nation despite creating wealth and gathering fancy degrees. We are still not able to have proper support, education and life skills and help to the blind, physically handicapped, mentally retarded, students with learning difficulties and others. We don’t even have a ramp for the wheelchair bound for entering public spaces. Why is this all..? Because “I” or “Mein” is more important than “we”. As long as “I” am O. K., all is O.K., unfortunately.

A huge amount goes into charity in developed countries like the USA . So many small and large businesses contribute to the community in different ways and whatever way they can afford. People contribute personally to many causes in terms of time and money. Where do we Indians stand here? We contribute a lot to temples ! That money lies unutilised. Why is this happening ? Because the money contributed to God was actually done for seeking God’s blessings for ” me and my family”….. once again “I” or ” Mein” has come in here …..just thinking only about oneself. All this originates actually from our upbringing and training to think about himself or herself first , right from childhood.

A lot of effort needs to go into our educational system to make our children think that life is far bigger than what is there for “me”, “I” and “Mein”. This actually will enrich their lives and make them really happier and more successful in the real sense, even successful internationally and become a real winner .

Dinesh Bandiwadekar

USA mobile 321 337 5878

Have we made a monster out of the English language in India ?

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 or even getting technical jobs. These candidates feel that they are stuck somewhere in their endeavor to progress 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 in 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 !

This problem has now “outgrown” to such an extent that in India we have started defining personality development as “English speaking“ ! To me Personality & Personality development is far, far beyond just speaking good English. It means a number of things really beyond the limitations of any language. But our craze for English has even changed our thinking !

However, we seem to have resigned to the fact that someone speaking good English is someone of the managerial calibre, and a more capable person. That is certainly because the kind of importance that we have given to English and have put it on a High Pedestal. Corporates are conducting GD’s & PIs only in English and they eliminate the weaker English speakers at the GD stage itself. Management institutes are doing the same. My question- why have we to link competence with capabilities in English ? In the many countries I traveled in Middle East and Europe- all developed and more prosperous than India- all the selections and interviews are done in the national language of the country- say Arabic , French, Italian , etc. Do Chinese rate their own students and employees on basis of their English skills ? All these countries could well do it in English as well, but they have their own priorities . I am not saying that we need to conduct GDs and interviews in Hindi or a local language, but our outlook towards the amount of importance that we give to English has to change. Don’t you agree that after selecting a person after conducting an interview in English, we always communicate with him or her in Hindi or a local language in the office ? So why make such a big issue about English in the first place?

The importance of English in India is restricted to a small section of our business and social operations and endeavors. Business of billions of rupees is transacted in Hindi and local languages. MBAs selected on basis of their English prowess in most cases end up discussing business with distributors, dealers, stake holders and customers in Hindi ! It is within the metros that English has a say. When you go to a small town or even smaller cities like Indore, Jaipur, Raipur, Kakinada, Kottayam, Patna or Bhubhaneshwar, you may risk losing business if you insist in talking in English ! Even in the multi billion dollar middle east / Gulf market, if you speak a high level of English, it is likely that the Arabs could get frustrated dealing with you and you could lose some big orders ! We are recognised the world over because of our maths , science ,and technical skills – so let us be proud of the same . Why are we paranoid about English?

The passages that we normally encounter in CAT or any MBA entrance exams in reading comprehension are such that ever the best of English speakers and MA’s in English cannot get the answers right. The words in English vocabulary testing that we normally encounter in such entrance exams are such that most of them are never used even in business dealings, forget day to day life.

So why are we giving so much importance to English the way we are currently doing, to shortlist candidates or eliminate them from jobs, MBA entrance exams etc? . As you travel in the Indian hinterland we see a lesser and lesser usage of English. Rural markets which are huge, are being addressed in Hindi and local language advertising. Do you think our stock exchanges, our commodity markets , our trade in various products – goes on in English ? Even then we want our MBA marketing graduates to excel in English ! When you get down to the basics of business, English is really not in sight. It is just a small fraction of our educated elite speak in English .When just a fraction of our 125 crore population speaks proper English, and which is the source of intelligent and talented people, why then do we want to create an obstacle of a language that can actually impediment the growth and success of these people ? …just because in offices we want to make presentations and reviews in English?

Also, why don’t we make it compulsory to speak, Spanish, German, French and Italian, if we want internationalization and excel in business ? It is high time, we looked at our own languages from a business perspective and unshackle the highly overrated “English speaking” ability/ skills expected of our young people. This way we open up the doors for highly talented students from the Hindi and vernacular mediums. The best of doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists and writer in India have studied in the vernacular medium. Had they been subjected to English language proficiency tests, they probably could have been eliminated from their field of study. Thankfully, they were not and they made it big. Their course content was far beyond the limitations of ANY language. I think we are making a big fuss about English- that is being done where in courses there isn’t really a very high level of intellectual content required like MBA/MMS etc.- and these courses need more of style & “gas” than the grey matter and real fundamental understanding of any complex phenomenon. Sorry about this comment. Why don’t you select a heart surgeon for an MS or a ENT course basis his English, but why you can risk to apply that parameter for a someone going to study Marketing for selling face whitening creams? It is the depth of knowledge requirement- if you have to study something elementary and yet make a 2 year course out of it and want to charge Rs 7 lakhs as fees, then you need to have such embellishments . You need to sort out the creamy layer to pay your fees, and market research shows those who can afford it are basically those who went to English speaking / English medium schools . Well, it’s business after all.

Can’t business be taught in Hindi or any other language? For centuries we have been doing business in our local languages. The few stalwart business communities even today do not speak ‘good English” ! Did the Marwari community do business because for years just because they did an MBA or was good in English ? So today why we are creating an obstacle for our young people? Talented vernacular students 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 so called “good personalities”. The matter is serious and the governments should take appropriate steps on this. Don’t forget that we Indians speak normally upto 3 languages fluently and understand 1 or 2 more. Why do we underestimate our own potential and check ourselves for a language that was not our own? Why are we blindly following the requirements of US/ UK/ Australian and other universities? If they had reading comprehension of high level English passages , why are we just copying that ? Why don’t we have our own standards and languages for testing candidates? Why don’t we check out English, Hindi and Marathi/Gujarati/ Tamil etc. as well?

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 wants their children to study in English medium schools. The outcomes of these are going to be evident over the next 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. Another fall out of the phenomenon is the rush to so called international schools following the curriculum of other countries and ignoring Indian languages in the endeavor to be more westernized/ global.

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. Why should the interviews and GD’s not permit say Hindi or a local language to be used for entrance level testing. Example: Hindi/ Gujarati/ English should be the official options for GCs & PIs in selections for management institutions in Gujarat , and similar arrangements in other states. ……..after all, 95% of the time, all these graduates are going to speak in Hindi and other languages only after they start working ! Another solution could be also testing one’s prowess in Hindi and one regional language of the candidates choice during the entrance, and that could set things in a right perspective in a major way.

If the so called management institutions do not fall in line, we must allow new institutions to come up which will value local languages and Hindi, and conduct entrance tests in these languages. You will notice that there is a huge “business potential” is starting such institutions offering MBA & related course for those strong in Hindi & local languages and that could be the next craze. Are you aware that in Mumbai itself there are so many minority institutes from Gujarat or South India that prefer selecting students of their own communities or their mother tongues/ languages. So why these institutions should create the drama of English testing while selecting the students ? They may as well conduct the interviews in the Indian languages and Hindi as well ( or in their own lingo )!

C’mon- lets be practical. I am not being anti- English, anti –establishment or anti-“phoren”. English is an important language for us to learn and progress ( and we have benefited due to English ) , but it should not be a barrier to all the talented Indians who are spread far and wide in the country. Does a young man from Durg in MP who has studied in a Hindi medium school and who is very intelligent not have the right to study business in a good business school ? After all, what would have been the condition of our country today had we decided to select our prime minister on grounds that he should be a good English speaker ? Let’s focus on delivery, not a language. Let’s start changing- we have a long way to go, and we are amongst the largest populations in the world, and we could be dictating terms in centuries come. For all you know, international students will one day land up in India to study and we will test them for their Hindi skills. That is if we have adequate self esteem and a long term vision. Great personalities are built on so many different things like these, English is just one part of the process. Let’s give it the right amount of importance it deserves, but not any more than it deserves.

Dinesh Bandiwadekar
Director- Persona Academy


My recent visits to the Middle East makes me feel good that I am now working in India. Having spent close to 10 years in the Middle East (Gulf ), I am happy that I have settled back in my country which is really progressing well and far more professional in handling its affairs, specially the economy.

Till ten years ago ( 2005 ) it seemed the middle east was a good place to be in and make some money and invest back in India. That is a general statement. The talent that was required in the Gulf and the labour as well, was sourced mostly from India. Indians excelled in all types of jobs and generally they took advantage of their good education, polite behavior and ability to converse in English. The Gulf was the destination for the “not so elite” Indians . The elite ones got better jobs in India and USA and in the developed world. Gulf has long been the main stay for Indian blue collared work force and labourers.

When the Indian economy took off around 2005, several changes started happening at the same time in the Middle East and elsewhere which have affected Indians. In the 2000’s I hardly found Africans in big numbers in any hospitality industry. Now, I find them actually dominating some jobs. Most of the jobs where Indians dominated are clearly the strong hold of the Filipinos now. Egyptian and other Arabic nationalities were always there in some numbers , thanks to their Arabic language skills , but now the Egyptians and people from other Arabic nations have a total domination in many fields. Never did I see Nepalis in the Gulf 15 years ago, but now you see them in plenty. Bangladesh is one such country as well. I was shocked to see a construction site where only Arabic workers dominated, a stronghold of Indian labour till ten years ago. The situation in the last 10 years in Syria, Palestine, and some other countries have forced them to take up jobs in the Middle East at survival rates.

The salaries that are generally been paid now are excellent figures when converted back into the currency of their home countries- for the Nepalis, Filipinos, Bangladeshis and the for African new comers. Not for the Indians though. The conversion and the cost of life back in India does not entice Indians much- specially at the middle management level and for skilled blue collared workers – to go to the middle East anymore.

Due credit also must be given to countries such as Philippines where they have massive skill development campaigns and programmes to “create” overseas Filipino workers- a brand “OCW” by itself . India did not do this for close to 40 years. Thanks to recent efforts, we have started, though quite late. Had we done this decades ago, the result would have been many million dollars more as remittance from the Gulf.

I noticed a great improvement in the English speaking abilities of the average Filipino, the Average Egyptian, other Arabs, and even Bangladeshis & Nepalis. This could be an effort from those countries to improve the English of their countrymen and better their job prospects in the Gulf Region. A lot of jobs lost by Indians, specially in the service industry could be because of this, and of course the relative conversion factor.

SO ARE WE THE LOSERS ? I think NO. On the FLIP side, our progress in the last 10 years has been excellent. We have created work opportunities for our own people in our own country. What could be better than that ? The plight of people in Gulf at the lower categories is pathetic. No one discusses this. The life in India is far, far better. Of course, more money helps. On the FLOP side, we lost a few million dollars income from the GULF , but we are on our way to a trillion dollar economy.

The Middle East is likely to be a dream which is getting over very soon. Everyone discusses in hushed tones so many related issues.

Does a country invest in anything just because its oil prices are high? Can only fancy looking skyscrapers and nice highways drive an economy? Is this a correct model of sustainable growth? The Indian model of development is far more logical and comprehensive. It does not need high oil and gas prices. It is a great economy by itself. Progress is assured in India and higher incomes as well for all. In India, oil prices do not decide whether the government is to build a hospital ! When we know we need it, it is done. There are adequate sources of financing. The basic need and demand , drives the completion of a project, not anything else. When that demand is there, things are in the right direction for an economy.

For Indians employed in the Middle East, The Gulf Between “then” ( 1970-2005) and “now” ( 2005-2020 ) has widened a lot. But, the Gulf between India and the Middle East has narrowed a lot. It makes more sense to work FOR your country , IN YOUR country and “BUY” in your country !

Dinesh Bandiwadekar