Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

Kiran’s Hierarchy of ‘Strategic Nonsense’

A few years ago, I was taught a theory which had revolutionized the field of behavioral sciences back then. It was called the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow developed a model in which basic, low-level needs such as physiological requirements and safety must be satisfied before higher-level needs such as self-fulfillment are pursued. In this hierarchical model, when a need is mostly satisfied it no longer motivates and the next higher need takes its place.

Maslow’s Hierarchy:

maslow.jpg

 

Similarly, circa 2008, there has been an effort to publish a fantastic theory after tons and tons of effort (i.e., after generous amounts of drooling over Ayesha Jhulka in JJWS and breaking my head over a Quentin’s movie, Deathproof) which talked about the bread and butter of corporate lifestyle, ‘outstanding gibberish’ (colloquially also known as bullshitting, crap, baloney, drivel and various other 4-letter words). The author, after due consideration over a box of chips, concluded that ‘crap’ cannot be classified under a hierarchy but the tools to generate this crap definitely can. What’s more – he also intelligently deciphered that he uses many of these tools quite liberally, primarily to feed himself if not to write insane theories like this one.

The theory (as indicated in the figure below) states that the more nonsense you want to speak, the higher you go up the hierarchy. The effort of every corporate employee should be to step up each level, without which the primary and lofty objective of speaking rubbish all the time wouldn’t be achieved (and in fruition for that effort, this theory should be mandatory in all HR initiation programmes). Refer the diagram below –

My Hierarchy:

my.jpg

 

The figure in itself should be self-explanatory. But since the author is already at the highest level, he can’t but help reiterate and explain the self-explanatory figure in a verbose manner for the next few paragraphs.

Level 1: These are the most basic tools that are used by anyone and everyone today. Tools, without which most of the corporations won’t survive, let alone flourish. These tools are comparable to Maslow’s 1st level – basic physiological needs, without which a man can’t proceed to the next level in either of the hierarchies. Especially, Solitaire in the author’s hierarchy.

Level 2: This is the introductory and crash course to ‘ridiculous garbage’ at the corporate level. People who are at this level need to be careful to speak their mind (in other words, total crap) since they need to back it up with numbers (else, your situation would be similar to Tushaar kapoor’s in Terminator 4 – badly beaten up, beyond recognition!!). Numbers could be fudged, but they (the ‘evil’ auditors) can easily make out and throw you out of this cozy corporate world into the big bad world. However, this is a very good introductory course – comparable to Maslow’s Safety needs – whenever in trouble, fudge and fall back on this level – it is an awesome safety net and most people fear to tread at this level. (If ever you get bored of looking at those 65536 cells, search for ‘Excel games’ in Google 😉 )

Level 3: An advanced course, and a definite signal that you are on your way to be knighted very soon with ‘Legendary bullshitter’ title. Hardwork is a necessity though at this level. Understanding numbers and translating them into reams and reams of paragraphs, the sole objective being – to be seen by all but not to be read by any one. A few diagrams (from Level 1) and some tables (from Level 2) constitute the basis for Level 3 – and as they say in Mathematics, they are necessary but not sufficient. Your written skills would be tested here – how lengthy can you write, how confusing can you write, how verbose can you be and can you use all the GRE words learnt in this document. A challenging assignment neverthless. Again, definitely comparable to Maslow’s Social needs – sense of belonging and acceptance to the ‘League of Extraordinary Ridiculous People’!!

Level 4: The ultimate, The highest, The best and my verbal ability falls short of superlatives for this tool. ‘It all depends on the way you present data’ – in other words ‘You can fudge all you want, but get me a positive decision’ – if you are in this kind of world, then this is the tool for you. The more you want to speak nonsense, the more you want to explain self-explanatory diagrams in a verbose manner (like this one), the more you want to spend corporate time having fun by moving text from left to right or zigzag around – the more you belong to this level. As I said before and I reiterate (that is because I have nothing else to say), if you want to be considered as one of the ‘kids with potential to become a CEO’ – you exactly understand that this is the proficiency you need – oratory and powerpoint skills. The most abused tool of the lot (as a side note, I once had one of my colleagues present 16 graphs on a single slide!!), definitely comparable to Maslow’s Esteem and Self-actualisation levels put to-gether. Proficiency and expertise at this level would confer you with the title of ‘Legendary Bullshitter Mr./Ms.’ and you would be royally drafted into the ‘League of Extraordinary Ridiculous People’.

Priceless Info for H1!

Whenever I am in grave doubt, I turn to ‘the one’ source. Whenever I need to make an important decision, I turn to ‘the one’ source. In this age where there is an acute shortage for real spiritual gurus, my only respite is this online spiritual guru of mine – the mind-bogglingly intelligent, outrageously hilarious..err..poignant rediff message boards.

In the near future, I shall dedicate a complete post to this Master of mine, but for now, peruse this priceless information to secure a H1 (working visa for the USA) –

rediff.jpg

Random Thoughts – Again

Due to so-called ‘busyness’ on the professional front, I am unable to spend much time thinking about any topic to an extent that I can dedicate a blog to it. The ‘Random Thoughts’ series of blogposts are going to be quickies, and quickies though efficient, lack finesse! Apologies.

1) The past week has been a Nostalgia week. I accidentally happened to browse through my chat conversations on both yahoo and google. My, my – it was one emotional roller coaster. What started off as 5-10 refreshing exercise turned out to be an endeavor close to 3-4 hrs spread over couple of days! Conversations, letters – some which I read twice, maybe thrice and some which didn’t even matter; Photographs – some which I wanted to frame and keep them in my bedroom, and others which I despised; Letters – some so genuine that tears trickled down, some so sham and artificial, I wondered why I even had stored them. Some thoughts evoked a feeling of ‘The world seems to have drifted a thousand miles and left me alone’, while others ‘Mann! I couldn’t have said that’ types. As happens with nostalgia, you feel happy and sad at the same time – with some thoughts still active, others dormant and most of them dead.

2) I might not be qualified to say this – but I find some of the things newly-weds do absolutely hilarious. To the risk of sounding cynical- ‘Oh! We went out for dinner. It has been 3 weeks since we got married and we thought it was time for celebration’ – Some achievement, eh? Oh my God! Look, people said we couldn’t even get along for 3 days and now we have completed 3 weeks!! Bah! Another distinct feature of newly married couples – When they sit in a group, they slyly look at each other and smile, wink and to top it all, try to ensure that noone else in the group has noticed that! I mean c’mon – if you slyly look at each other for 30 min out of a 45 min gathering, others are bound to notice you guys. And We know what you guys are thinking and smiling about – we exactly aren’t products of immaculate conception, are we? So, how about some ‘actual’ social gathering rather than a ‘sly’ social gathering!

3) I haven’t been getting much time to read books lately – but I am stealing a read here and there. I would definitely recommend Khaled Hosseini’s ‘Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ – both extremely well-written and gripping. Given the current state of Afghanistan, these two books give an excellent perspective of the state.

4) Some of the readers’s comments I received through my email – would like to put them here

a) ‘Why are majority of your short-stories based on this boy-girl theme? You write them well…so why can’t we have a diverse set of topics?’

My response: Well, probably it has to do with my age 😉 However, will definitely keep your comment in mind whenver I embark on a short-story.

b) ‘Can we have more posts like ‘State of Indian education system etc?’

My response: More such posts found on Desicritics.org. I write about generic topics on that site; I put in one or two such articles on this blog. I would definitely love your comments on that site too.

Welcome to Haystack Apts!

She was dialing the number for the nth time – and for the nth time, she received the same response. ‘Welcome to Haystack Apts. We appreciate your patience, please hold on till the operator comes online’ and the irritating music…ta daa tadaaa taddaadaaaa

Wait! Where are you taking me? Leave me alone. I want to be left alone – No, I don’t want to go anywhere; I am fine here; Leave me alone…leave me…

She: Why the hell doesn’t he purchase a cellphone? It would be easier to reach him. I am sick and tired of this music and this standard message. Let me try once again!
‘Welcome to Haystack Apts. We appreciate your patience, please hold on till the operator comes online’ and the irritating music…ta daa tadaaa taddaadaaaa

Why have you put me in this dark room? I cannot see a thing here. Why am I here? This place looks so eerie and scary. Take me out of here! Somebody out there??? Savee meee!!

She: Let me get hold of this guy this time, am going to tear his brains out – I am tired of listening to this music all the time – are the operators in their bloody evening siesta? Why the hell doesn’t someone pick up the phone?
Let me try one last time –
‘Welcome to Haystack Apts. We appreciate your patience, please hold on till the operator comes online’ and the irritating music…ta daa tadaaa taddaadaaaa
She: Aaarrgghhh!!

No food, no water – how am I supposed to live! Oh God! What kind of predicament is this? Why have I ended up in this situation? This is close to hell – no, someone, someone please get me out of this situation…someone out there?!!

She: I am getting more frustrated. What is wrong with the apartment folks and…and…why is he put up in this apartment?? Couldn’t he find a better apartment or even better, why doesn’t he buy a cellphone for himself? Beats me.
It’s been quite some time since I spoke to him. Let me try one last last time!
‘Welcome to Haystack Apts. We appreciate your patience, please hold on till the operator comes online’ and the irritating music…ta daa tadaaa taddaadaaaa

Wait! Where are you taking me again? Why am I made to sit in front of a tank of water? Nooo…blurp blurp blurp…I can’t breathe!! blurp blurp blurp…what are you guys doing to me? blurp blurp blurp…what do you want? Why are your torturing me like this? Noo….blurp blurp blurp…I am going to die this time…ahh…blurp blurp blurp…

She: This one last time – and I am gonna commit a murder – Operator or him – First come, first serve basis!

‘Welcome to Haystack Apts. We appreciate your patience, please hold on till the operator comes online’ and the irritating music…ta daa tadaaa taddaadaaaa
Operator: Thanks for holding. Your request ma’am?
She: Room No. 404, K please!

Phone rings! K jumps out of his bed and sleep!!

K: Uh darling! I just went through a nightmare without hearing you all these days! Thank god you called.
She: But K! it’s been only a week since we spoke!
K: Well, a week is long time – a very long time for me sweetheart!
She: You know what K, you are such a damn fool!
K: :-*
She: :-*

State of Indian Education System – Appalling!

I was shocked the other day when my cousin told me that her daughter (3 yr old) studying in Nursery had 9 subjects to study. 9 subjects in a Nursery class??!! I cannot imagine myself to have studied so many subjects in 10th class, Nursery is too far to call. My cousin goes on to say that her daughter had to answer a set of 30 questions to get through an exam – Who is the Prime Minister of India, Who is the President of India, Which bird can fly backwards and such like. I had only one question for her – did the school teach the student her home address, her school address, names of her parents, home phone number – information which is critical for a child of such young age? Given the state of politics in our country, why would I want to know the Prime Minister of India if the same changes every couple of years, if not less? I would rather learn the capital city of my country, capital of the state which I live in – information which is much more stable, information which is useful. The nursery kid is not going to a quiz contest, is she?

I also read about one of the schools in Hyderabad which started of an ‘Integrated IIT course’ for kids of age 11. Needless to say, competition caught up and now there are dozens of schools which ‘specialize’ in this course. I personally did not know a school called ‘IIT’ existed till I cleared the IXth class (maybe I was too ignorant!). Parents pay astronomical amounts of money to send their kids to these courses just to keep ahead of a Mrs. Verma’s kid, who is after all going to a normal course. These courses, by their very name and schedule send shivers down my spine. Classes from 8 to 8 and then lots of homework – when is the kid to enjoy a game of cricket, sit on the terrace and enjoy the stars at night, listen to nuances of life from their grandparents, read about what is happening in the country, discover authors like Enid Blyton – no, the only aim of parents nowadays is to see their kids get into IITs – as if, that was the only way to salvation (if it is, then I don’t want it! And seemingly what I hear from my friends in/from IIT, it isn’t – not by a long shot).

Probably I am a little too old-fashioned, but when has this ‘going to tuitions’ become a trend? As far as I remember, when I was in school (not too long ago, 10-11 years back), going to tuitions was actually an insult. Even if students went, they went very discreetly. There was a social stigma attached to it – if you are going to tuitions, then you are dumb! Period. Students who were smart picked up every subject in school itself, and tuitions were a strict no-no. But today, the trend seems to have reversed. Going to tuitions has become the norm, and students who don’t go to tuitions are the ones left out in the race (what race, which race…don’t ask me, I have no clue!) School from 9 to 5, tuitions from 6 to 9 and then finish homework – no wonder, I see no kids playing cricket, flying kites, cycling around the streets with no purpose any longer. Sad state of affairs – and thankfully, I am not a part of it (but my kid would be – that is my worry!) [Tuitions have become such a roaring business – from LKG to Engineering, Medical nowadays – considering the burgeoning student population, it’s not a bad business proposition at all].

I still remember – when I was of age 11, studies was my least of worries – I was more concerned with how will my team win the next cricket match next evening, what is for dinner, how should I not allow the benchmate to occupy my space on the bench at school, will my mom give me 50 paise so that I can buy the ice-cream outside school etc. I spoke to a kid sometime back and all he was asking me/talking to me was what should he do to score cent percent in mathematics, are board exams really important to get into IIT, how competitive is the world – he was a kid of age 12. Tragic, but true. My father used to tell me various stories (for the sole purpose of killing the fear of water within me) to teach me swimming, my elder cousin used to teach me how things get done in the outside world and suchlike. Kids nowadays have only one thing in mind – to climb the ladder as fast as possible – my only worry is they have no clue which ladder they are going on!

It is erroneous on my part to blame the Indian education system of being fixated on IITs, Tuitions, cramming for exams etc., instead of the kid enjoying and learning life. It is just the principle of efficient markets – unless there was a need, the markets of tuitions wouldn’t have flourished as it is today. Parents are the ones to blame – they fear that their kid is going to lose out on top education, and hence pour out their life savings in educating them. We have turned Education into a commodity, into a ruthless business. We have forgotten the basis of education – education is for life, and not for a living. Instead, we have negated that basis totally – it is only for a living and nothing else. For me, treating the kids to bookish knowledge from 9 to 9 kills their creativity – and that would be a blunder of enormous proportions in the long run!

P.S – I have heard stories of many parents (and some who are my friends) promising that they would not subject their kids through this rigorous system, but would let them develop ‘freely and creatively’ – not pressurizing them into studies. However, once the kid touches the age of 3, these parents automatically switch their mode to ‘keeping up with Mrs. Vermas’ – so much for their tall and empty promises of ‘freely and creatively’.

Looking back, I am extremely grateful to my parents for letting me truly develop ‘freely and creatively’ – for not once did they say ‘Beta, you should get first rank – look at the other guy’, ‘Beta, you should study more – don’t play cricket’! I did get a stare from my father though – just once, a stare, no words – when I came back from a cricket match at 8 in the night, with my Mathematics 10th board exam the next day 🙂 [I think the stare was his fear of ‘Oh dear! This guy is gonna flunk his exam tomorrow 😛 ]

Update: My analysis of Budget 2008-09 published here (Budget 2009-2009 – A Bird’s eye view)

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