Thursday, December 31, 2015

Was Gabbar Singh of Sholay a philosopher disguised as a dacoit?

As 2016 rolls in, and 2015 sulks away, some really serious issues need to be tackled. Here goes.

Was Gabbar Singh of Sholay a philosopher disguised as a dacoit?

Yes, that is true. I guess he was one of the greatest philosophers out there, with a deep knowledge of taxation, statehood, world history and organisational behaviour.
Gabbar Singh BrightSparks blog
Kitne readers the?
Sample this -
  1. Gabbar ke taap se tumhe kewal ek hi aadmi bacha sakta hai, khud Gabbar. (Only one man can save you from the fire of Gabbar - Gabbar himself) Does this not remind you of every single King that has ever ruled? You either fell in line and paid obeisance, or were steamrolled under their might. Examples - Mongols, Mughals, and just about everyone else
  2. Aur iske badle mere aadmi tumse thoda sa anaaj lete hain toh kya koi zulm harte hain, koi zulm nahin karte!  (And for that protection that I provide, if my men take some food from you, is that torture? Not at all) Does this not sound like every single Nation State that exists today? All honest citizens are born in bondage, and die so, happily paying taxes through their noses in return for the 'protection' they get.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Can military or police service be made mandatory in India for young people?

As of now, it is not. And the simple reason for that is - our huge population.
That has always ensured that there are enough volunteers to enrol themselves, every time vacancies come up. In fact, ditto for China (PRC) as well. Hence no need is felt to make anything really 'compulsory'. Hence, no rigid conscription.
Military service BrightSparks blog Sandeep Manudhane SM sir PT education MBA IAS IIMCAT XAT
But it's a great idea and can help India in several ways.
  1. Dignity of labour - Most young women and men (18 yrs +) hardly understand the value of manual labour, or any labour for that matter. Getting educated formally, and landing a cushy job is all that's aimed for. It will change in a big way. Young ones will become far more sensible.
  2. Pride for the nation - Almost instantly, there will be a change in perspective for most. Their approach may undergo a radical overhaul.

Monday, December 28, 2015

How to handle mounting stress during Exam Preparations?

I'll keep it direct, precise and effective.
Follow these simple techniques   [ It = Mounting Stress ]
Determination BrightSparks blog Sandeep Manudhane SM sir PT education
You can do it!
  1. Welcome it, expect it. Look at it in the face.
  2. Take frequent small breaks. Re-energize.
  3. Laugh a lot. Crack jokes. Don't be serious-faced all the time.
  4. Exercise or walk (40 min) daily without mobile phone.
  5. Take a bath daily. Wear clean clothes. Keep your room tidy.
  6. Ask one or two close friends to perk you up regularly.
  7. Read one small motivational story each day.
  8. Take at least one day full off per month - no studies at all.
  9. Make your own notes, in good handwriting. Take ownership.
  10. Think of every success you've had so far, howsoever minor.
  11. Think of the less fortunate. You'll feel blessed.
  12. If you are religious, pray daily. But don't ask for anything!
  13. Meditate 5 to 10 min daily. Keep your mind still.
  14. Make a personal success mantra - short and sweet - repeat it regularly.
  15. Finally - go to the rooftop once a day - shout out loud - I WILL MAKE IT!
Positive frame of mind guaranteed! All the best.

Monday, December 21, 2015

UPSC Mains Exams - Ideal Essays

UPSC Mains Essays - an Ideal format

The UPSC Mains examination concluded recently. The first paper is Essay-based. Of the two Sections carrying four options each, you have to write one in each. (1000-1200 words each)

And don't forget to check a whole suite of amazing learning resources, here!

Here I present an ideal essay, from each of the two Sections.

ESSAY - Dreams which should not let India sleep.

The Kalam spark and Brand India

India’s ex- President the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam had once said that "Dream is not that which you see while sleeping; it is something that does not let you sleep.” It aptly summed up his dream of the kind of dreams Indian youth should live.
The Indian economy is looking up and India is being given its due recognition now in international circles. We have come a long way since Independence. We are now seen as an influential world power and Brand India is well on its way to become a success. However there is much that needs to be done in many sectors. There still are many paradoxes that need to be addressed both internally and externally.

A nation of paradoxes

India has been a nation where the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the accomplished and the wanting, have co-existed. It is no longer a matter of romantic theorizing, many critical aspects of our national life need an urgent fixing. These striking paradoxes often rattle, and make the establishment sit up and take notice, but lasting change hardly comes by.

Dream No. 1
Women’s Safety -  We can now fire an Agni V to destroy our most capable enemies, but our women cannot travel safely in public transport. We are conceptualizing and executing the cheapest journeys to Mars, but our girls fail to successfully complete the journey from mothers’ wombs to the birth table. This is an issue of concern not just in the hinterland, but in major metros as well. Women are subjected to hardships on many fronts - sexual exploitation at the workplace, domestic violence, lack of proper medical facilities, lack of education etc. The Government enacts laws to ensure that women get a proper system of redressal and their rights are not curbed. Some of these laws are:
  • The Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013
  • Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

However, the implementation leaves much to be desired. As a society, India has to truly liberate its women so that they can contribute to nation-building that can help us leapfrog. We have a long way to go.

Dream No. 2
A harmonious society sans Terror - The dream of eliminating terrorism in all its forms should energise us always. India in the past has been the victim of both left wing and right wing extremism. In fact, former PM Shri Manmohan Singh labeled Left Wing Extremism (LWE) as the biggest threat to our internal security. According to analysts, 183 districts in India across 7 states in India are affected by LWE.  The Government of India has made efforts to curb this menace militarily as well as economically. But LWE continues to be a source of much concern. Unless we create a harmonious solution, a significant part of our population will stay insurgent, harming our national goals.
Cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of India is severely distorting our national agenda. The current Government has taken tough measures on cross-border terrorism and it may have started paying dividends, but one attack on a high-visibility target can effectively derail the bilateral Indo-Pak talks. Pakistan must realize that a mighty India cannot be subdued, and its own incremental destruction is of no use to India or its own citizens. All Indians must come together to act as good citizens, keeping our agencies informed of any nefarious designs, and ensuring our youth does not get radicalized by any daydreaming terrorist organization like the ISIS or Al-Qaeda.
A terrorism free India is indeed a dream that should not let India sleep.

Dream No. 3
A happy Indian society – As privileged Indians, each one of us should not rest until the last disadvantage Indian has not been educated, properly fed, clothed and given a shelter.  Also, we can’t stop till India is cleaned up and stays that way. While the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs) intended right from 1950 to ensure this, it is only in the recent past that we have enacted laws such as the Right to Education (RTE) and the Food Security Act that put bring an air of reality to the vision of Founding Fathers. The Government of India has many employment schemes for the rural and the disadvantaged people. These schemes contribute in making this dream a reality. In June 2015, the Indian Prime Minister launched three of the most ambitious schemes of all time- smart cities, AMRUT, housing for all by 2022.
Under this scheme, also called the Pradham MantrI Awas Yojana, the Central Government has targeted building two crore homes for the urban poor by 2022. The government will provide Rs 1-2.3 lakh assistance per house under different components of the scheme, including in-situ redevelopment of slums using land as resource, credit-linked subsidy scheme, affordable housing in partnership and beneficiary-led individual construction or improvement of homes. The Government has identified 305 cities and towns for the same. The Swacch Bharat Mission aims to achieve a clean India by the year 2019.
Such initiatives, if pursued diligently and implemented honestly, have the potential to change India to a sensitive nation that cares for its citizens.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What if Sardar Patel or Netaji Bose would be India's first prime minister?

History can be intellectually very stimulating if alternative scenarios are visualised. Even the recent trends in some major exam's questioning pattern seem to suggest that students must develop this thought process, as it needs real depth to be able to write rationally on alternative possibilities. In fact, the UPSC 2015 Mains papers clearly indicated it!

So, a good question - Let us suppose that Pandit Nehru did not become the first PM of India. What would have happened?

This answer is based on pure speculation. Kindly bear.
India if Sardar Patel were to become the first PM, and continued for some years -
Sardar Patel BrightSparks blog Sandeep Manudhane SM sir Indore PT
Pakistan to the UN? Never!
  1. Having integrated India, he would have gone real heavy on the Kings and Princes that played the fool during the process of integration. Their falling-in-line would have been ensured very fast.
  2. He would have made them pay the price pretty quickly - the Privy Purses would have been abolished perhaps by 1955 itself (rather than in 1971 as done by Indira Gandhi) [ Privy Purse in India ]
  3. The private banking industry in India would have collapsed due to this pretty fast, and nationalisation would've happened by 1960 itself. 
  4. The Congress may have seen a vertical split right after the First General Elections. The faction led by Pandit Nehru would have posed a huge challenge to Patel's leadership.
  5. The Kashmir issue would have taken a different shape altogether - it would never have been internationalised, and no appeal to the UN would ever be made. Bilateral would have meant completely Unilateral!
  6. Pakistan would have thought once more before pushing the tribal forces into Kashmir in 1948.
  7. Bye bye NAM.
  8. Bye bye Personal Law System. Welcome Uniform Civil Code.
  9. Perhaps India would have discovered Netaji Bose's real whereabouts in the 1950s.(Warning - pure, heavily loaded speculation)
  10. Goa would have been in India by 1952 at the most :)
  11. Perhaps no IITs and IIMs but more of regionally empowered institutions

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Great habits for 20-year olds to be productive & for success in life

I will write based on my own experience (of having been a 20 year old once!) and working actively with 20 year-olds for two decades now!
To be really efficient at your work, life and relationships, here is my recommended set of 7 great habits to follow -
brightsparks blog PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir Indore
This is what we call 'losing oneself in work'!
  1. Be Organised - "I am depressed to see the percentage of people who do not put things back from where they picked it up". This simple truth has deep implications. It tells me that you do not value many things simultaneously - (i) a systematic approach, (ii) other people's time and effort, (iii) value of time itself, and perhaps (iv) you are an arrogant brat as well. When you pick a book and do not put it back where it belongs, it may look like a small error. But this is exactly what you'll do later in life with crucial Documents, Official Files, Expense Statements, costly objects, and soft files as well. In a nutshell, your workspace will be an aggregation of randomness and lack of any predictability. You will not be a good employee for any employer, or a good colleague for any ambitious achiever. So how to improve? Well, start right now, clean up your study-table, make a place for everything and keep it that way everyday. Do weekly/fortnightly cleaning of unwanted junk.
  2. Be Positive - We are surrounded with a lot of negativity always, of almost every type imaginable. Everyday, we have a choice to make - either we allow it to overpower us, or we create our own positivity. I have realised that it is a much better choice to do the latter. While we cannot shut our eyes to the problems, crimes, hunger and misery around us, we can keep reminding our inner selves that "I will do whatever little in my capacity to make this world a better place." That reinforcement alone can be magical. It can change your focus from brooding to contemplation, from shock-induced-inaction to positivity-driven-action. Much better to do your small bit each day, than be a great philosophiser speaking volumes and doing nothing. Every sentence spoken laced with negativity takes some life away from you.
  3. Appreciating your Age - Remind yourself daily that this is the best phase of life - young yet mature, energetic, starting up, painting a blank canvass literally! Do not envy those in positions of power - they regret having lost their youth. Do not envy the kids with no worries in the world - you can't turn the clock back at all. So focus on the today, the present, the moment right now. Plan a lot - not much of that will see the light of the day but it will make you very focussed on achieving things through a systematic approach.
  4. Getting up early - Nothing beats this one when it comes to time-management. You'll
    Clock Time Getting up BrightSparks blog Sandeep Manudhane SM Sir PT education Indore
    Achchhe bachche aisa nahin karte!
    stop complaining - "got no time"! You will feel a new sense of productivity surging through your veins. You will feel automatically more capable by the sheer virtue of having more time at your hands. And the first thing to happen - your parents will be proud of you! "Hamara beta, kitna acchha bachcha, jaldi utthta hai". Ha ha - so if for nothing else, do it to make your parents happy.
  5. Find time for enjoyment, Enjoy to the fullest - Usually, advice for a good life stops just short of such pearls of wisdom. But I will say - "Go ahead and enjoy life to the fullest!" Every week, go out once at least with family or friends. Watch a movie every now and then. Plan a proper picnic whenever possible. Create opportunities for fun and enjoyment regularly. It'll help you stay energised perpetually, even through your "down" moments. This real-world happiness will perhaps even prompt you to cut down on social media time. It'll make the other things look sensible. Why do we live, after all. It'll even prepare you for the next point coming up.
  6. Plan for old age - As an example - I am 20 or 24, why worry. I can never fall seriously ill. Well, you got it all wrong. When the bad day arrives, it'll come unannounced. And if you are emotionally and financially unprepared, a loss of dignity ensues. So, start saving and investing. As a rule, put aside at least 20% of your monthly earnings into your safety fund. It'll have two magical effects - you'll be forced to start budgeting (value for money), and you'll prepare yourself for old age. Many of us know how to earn money, but nobody teaches us what to do with that!
  7. Stay very inquisitive, Get the big picture in your mind - When we are part of a
    Steve Jobs Learning Attitude Sandeep Manudhane SM sir PT education Indore
    big team led by someone else, we may become myopic and focus too much on the tiny bits handed to us as work. While that's important, but what's more so is the fact that to grow in life, you must develop a big-picture-mindset. See where your work fits in. See who the customers really are, what their needs are. See what else could be done to serve them better. Find more about competitors who are doing really well. Learn from them. Read about industry-best-practices. Read about the world, about stuff

    happening around you. Read about anything. Ask good questions. Be ready to learn new skills with an open mind.
If you can start bringing these into your life, a transformation is assured. All the best!

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Can India witness a real Coup?

N T Ramarao N Chandrababu Naidu Andhra Pradesh PDP PT education blog Sandeep Manudhane SM sir Indore
Palace Coup in A.P.
Many political coups have been successfully, and often peacefully, organised in India. A good example of a regional political coup is when in August 1995, N T Ramarao was removed as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, and as the president of the TDP, by his son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu who led an internal coup against his own father-in-law! If we examine the possibility of a comprehensive violent coup at the national level like the ones regularly seen in many African nations, yes, then we have not witnessed one so far.
I would love to give a detailed treatment. Here's my take -
A. Coup versus Revolution versus Rebellion
George Washington 1776 American Revolution USA PT education blog Sandeep Manudhane SM sir
Washinton, ahoy!
  • First, let us understand the difference between these. A coup (more commonlyCoup d'etat) is a quick and decisive (and generally illegal) overthrow of an existing government by a small group that is in the position to do so, with or without the armed forces or military or the leading militia. Example - what is seen across African nations regularly
  • Then comes the term revolution, which is used to denote a large-scale uprising of people from all walks of life, with the common aim to overthrow the existing regime, and replace it with a more acceptable one. Example - the American revolution 1776 that ousted the British Raj from what was to be the USA or the 1857 Indian Revolution against the British Raj
  • A rebellion happens when there's a lot of opposition (armed, violent or otherwise) to the central authority. India has witnessed many of these post 1947, like the Naxalite rebellion (post 1979 till date), the Khalistan Andolan (rebellion) in 1980s etc.
B. What are the reasons for such uprisings?
Egypt Hosni Mubarak Barack Obama
Egypt's Hosni Mubarak
  • Seemingly unjustified concentration of power in one family or person - Just recall what happened in the Arab Spring from Dec 2010 onwards. Most of the Arab regimes faced tremendous revolt from civilian populations as for decades, an ossified political structure had offered little devolution of power across the society. Examples - Egypt (Hosni Mubarak). An old example - the American Revolution that happened in the 13 original north American British colonies (against UK - on the primary issue of no taxation without representation - considered gross injustice by the Monarch i.e. the Parliament)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Is there a simple way to become Spiritual?

Deterred by the complex language that many religious preachers may use, many people give up the idea of going the spiritual way altogether. But there is another way, a much simpler way.

A direct approach, without getting into any religious practice, could be as follows-

Freedom Break your Chains BrightSpark blog Sandeep Manudhane SM sir

Simple way - Let go. Things, people, possessions, attachments.
Slightly Better way - learn to smile while doing it the Simple way.
Still better - learn to share your happiness while doing it the Slightly Better way.
The Best way - dedicate everything you do, to others. Final state of bliss!

Think about it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Greatest of Teachers

In life, the greatest teachers one can get are -
  1. Most important, parents. But most of us hardly value till we become parents ourselves!
  2. Secondly, life. Every living moment of it.
  3. Next, the worst enemies we have. They are the best teachers, telling us exactly what we need to shore up.
  4. Criticism. Taken healthily, it changes the game.
  5. Books. Silently, without expecting anything, they are willing to teach any time of the day, forever.
Parents are the only ones to love us unconditionally no matter how rotten we get. Lifegoes on, its lessons unrelenting. Even in the most mundane of existence, minor daily transformations can be effected that have a long-term impact. Worst enemies end up teaching the best lessons to the open-minded. Instead of fearing them, watch their moves, and learn. No harm in that. Criticism is something that'll come our way, no matter how good or benevolent we may be. There is no point worrying ... rather turn it to your advantage and just move on. Books carry the distilled wisdom of generations, and read with minimum prejudices can be eye-opening.
Matrix Morpheus Neo Keanu Reeves PT education PT's IAS Academy Sandeep Manudhane blog SM sir
Free your mind
I have realised that even the best motivational teacher cannot help a student who keeps a mind closed to possibilities. As Morpheus told Neo in Matrix, 'You have to let it all go! Fear, doubt, disbelief. Free your mind'.
Priceless advice that!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

XAT 2016 pattern change - how to cope

XLRI XAT IIM CAT MBA entrance PT education blog Sandeep Manudhane SM sir Indore
XLRI's XAT has always been one of the most well-designed and challenging of the MBA entrance tests in India. In fact, I would rate it as a test that's better-designed than even the IIM CAT. Especially in the past 7 years, CAT has taken a knock. XAT has graudally gained a sort-of legendary status among smart candidates.
Some reasons for saying so:
  1. Almost never has the test crashed, or leaked! (except the disastrous computerisation attempt a decade ago, quickly shelved, sensibly)
  2. The test hardly ever has errors.
  3. It is now a 100% transparent test. IIM CAT is 100% opaque. Others are in-between.
So let's see what they are planning to do now, for XAT 2016 (03 Jan)
There are TWO major changes :
Number of Questions and Time Limit - In the main question paper the number of questions have been reduced from 84 to 78 and the time has been increased to 170 minutes.
  • The XAT authorities have indicated that traditionally the total number of attempts in XAT is on the lower side. Toughness of the questions is one of the reasons for this. It has been mentioned that the questions this year would be easier than the previous year.
  • Hence, it is clear that this year students would be able to attempt more. If a student has set some targets regarding the number of questions he needs to attempt (which we don't advise), he may have to redraft his strategy. In fact, relax as you would now attempt more!
  • The best way to handle this problem is to not set a target on the number of attempts and just try to be as fast as one can be.
  • Students will also be able to apply the Scan-Search-Select-Solve (SSSS) technique more easily. It will help attack a greater number of questions now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Good habits for everyday

Steven Covey good habits for Bright Sparks blog by Sandeep Manudhane
Some good things to practise everyday

Small things ultimately make up the big ones. Here are some good habits for daily use:

  1. Thank the almighty for giving you another day to live your dreams. If you are an atheist, thank destiny. Just thank someone!
  2. Smile and laugh at every possible opportunity, every day. By being serious and morose always, nothing worthwhile can be achieved.
  3. Read something new each day. Try developing your mind by irrigating it with new ideas and thoughts.
  4. Write down something new each day. It will give you a lot of confidence and will make you a better communicator.
  5. Save some money, howsoever small or big the amount may be. It will make you a cautious spender.
  6. Do one good deed for the day. Find something that is beyond your immediate commercial or academic interest. Do it.
  7. Keep your home and workplace clean. Take pride in organising and cleaning up your place regularly. Cleanliness truly is Godliness.

And if you are not the disciplined type who can follow a daily regimen of to-do things, let your mind roam freely and set a long-term goal of achieving something really outstanding.

All the best!

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Why MBA after engineering - an analysis

Article on BE + MBA by Sandeep Manudhane
A dream can come true with right engineering
Typically, an MBA post Engineering makes you look quite bright from the employment perspective, provided your aptitude and attitude match what's taught in the MBA programme and you are able to significantly add new skills and a "thinking approach".

Being confused about your future is a pretty healthy thing, as it means you are evaluating several options. You are thinking. You are not sure. This is how it should be, initially. No worries!

I will help you understand the right approach to getting an answer to this question.

Choosing any career

For any student stuck in a dilemma, a good basic course of action is:

  1. Introspection - Undertake a serious process of introspection to identify your triggers.
  2. What you love - Find out what are 3 or 4 things you would love to do consistently for many years, day in and day out, and be happy doing those.
  3. Listing - Make a list of everything you thus evaluate.
  4. Feedback - Discuss with family, friends and those you trust.
  5. Reality-check - Check your background dispassionately - what a student does through schooling and college years is a reasonably good indicator of future potential in terms of entrepreneurship or business leadership.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Politicians v/s Bureaucrats - a comparison

Students often ask me who is more powerful - a politician, or a bureaucrat? The answer can be quite nuanced, and detailed.

sandeep manudhane, sm sir, PT education, ias
First, the basic definitions. 

A politician is one who represents her/his people, and makes the primary decisions on matters that decide the mode of assets/resources distribution & sharing. In rare instances, she/he may decide on life-and-death matters too (warfare/ terror/ abortion/ religion/ health etc.)

A bureaucrat is one who brings broad or narrow sectoral expertise and administrative acumen to help the politician achieve the goals the policies have set. She/he is not required to earn public approval, and is more permanent in that sense. For the purpose of this answer, I'll include all types of civil services under this definition. Also, my answer is not restricted to just India.

Let's begin listing the powers and limitations -

BR Ambedkar Indian Constitution PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir PT Indore
Ambedkar, the lawmaker
  1. Laws: A politician makes the laws. A bureaucrat implements them through drafting of micro rules, regulations and by running the implementation machinery. Together, they become the sarkaar.
  2. Sanction: A politician earns public approval through elections. A bureaucrat earns his position through a process of examination.
  3. Harmony: Due to point 2, a politician can harmonise mutually antagonistic perceptions of various communities. A bureaucrat will never be in a position to do so.
  4. Visible Power: A politician can muster up public support to protest government actions, or bureaucratic apathy, inaction or opposition. A bureaucrat can seek legal/systemic redressal only, and not hit the street to voice grievances.
  5. Entrepreneurship: A politician can run a business empire in parallel, either clandestinely or openly (as long as he/she can prove an arm's length connection). A bureaucrat automatically earns disqualification if he turns a commercial entrepreneur.
  6. Stability: A politician rides a lion all through his career. A bureaucrat walks the concrete road of system and processes.
    Margaret Thatcher Indira Gandhi brightsparks blog Sandeep Manudhane PT education SM sir Indore
    Iron Ladies - Margaret & Indira
  7. Scope: A politician can transform the entire selection process of bureaucrats. A bureaucrat can significantly delay or sabotage the politician's desire to do so, by apathy, inaction or complexification.
  8. Limits: Due to society's general inertia, a cunning and immoral politician almost exclusively reserves the right to indulge in abusive verbiage, harassment and criminal activities. A bureaucrat will have to be extremely stealthy about it!
  9. Grandiloquence: A politician can massage his ego regularly by making grandiose statements like - "an investment of Rs 1 lac crore will soon be made to achieve world class output in X sector". A bureaucrat cannot say anything like this ever unless formally sanctioned by the government after policy making.
  10. Stamina: A politician runs the gauntlet frequently, and has to face abusive crowds, heat and dust of the land, and rough and tumble of political conspiracies. It requires the skin of a pachyderm to endure and succeed. A bureaucrat can stay aloof, dedicated, quiet and still achieve a lot.
  11. One up: A politician can transfer a bureaucrat. A bureaucrat can arrest / prosecute a politician.
  12. Leeway: A politician can make loose interpretations of the law. A bureaucrat can make subjective interpretations of the politician's directives.
  13. Money: A politician can make a lot of money, without being perceived as being dishonest. An honest bureaucrat cannot.
    Pandit Nehru Congress image for Bright Sparks blog of Sandeep Manudhane sir
    Pandit Nehru
  14. Transformation: A single politician can transform a nation completely. Examples - Pt. Nehru (India), Deng Xiaoping (PRC), Mikhail Gorbachev (USSR), General Zia ul Haq (Pakistan), Nelson Mandela (S Africa), Abraham Lincoln (USA). A single bureaucrat just cannot. The reverse is equally true - a single evil politician with determination can totally destroy his people, and entire bureaucracy may be unable to do anything about it.
  15. Enablers: A politician can create an enabling environment for bureaucrats to deliver. Example - PM Shri Narendra Modi. A determined bureaucrat can transform a single system to enable long term political stability. Example - Ex Chief Election Commissioner Shri T N Seshan (IAS) who radically improved Indian electoral processes.
  16. Intersection: A politician can, in certain situations, act like a true bureaucrat. Example - the Constituent Assembly that drafted the nitty-gri
    tty of the elaborate Indian constitution. A bureaucrat can, in certain situations, control the raging fires of separatism. Example - IPS officer J F Ribiero in Punjab during the insurgency.
  17. Crossing over: A politician cannot usually crossover to become a bureaucrat. Many bureaucrats become politicians. Examples - Ajit Jogi (ex IAS), Arvind Kejriwal (ex IRS), Kiran Bedi (ex IPS).
    Arvind Kejriwal Kiran Bedi image for Bright Sparks blog of Sandeep Manudhane
    Arvind Kejriwal (IRS), Kiran Bedi (IPS) 
  18. Losing their sleep: A politician loses sleep when public support wanes. A bureaucrat may lose sleep when political support wanes!
  19. Transparency: A politician can subject everyone else, except himself, to public scrutiny. A bureaucrat can do nothing about it. Example - the RTI Act in India, which presently exempts political parties from scrutiny
  20. Peace of mind: Whomsoever you may be, this surely has to be earned!

Hope this helped!

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Monday, November 16, 2015

What is inflation?

While a lot of technical literature is available if one wants to learn more about inflation, I present some alternative perspectives to understand what inflation can mean.

Here goes:

  • Inflation is when you feel good about the economy, but end up not saving much at the end of every month.
  • Inflation is when you really want to praise the Central Bank governor for being so technically astute, but lack the feel-good to do so.
  • Inflation is that which bites you hard when the Minister claims it would not.
    RBI Raghuram Rajan Sandeep Manudhane SM sir PT education PT's IAS Academy
    Inflation is a monster we keep trying to tame!
  • Inflation is high when you passionately try to explain a class of students why it cannot be otherwise, given the macro economic fundamentals.
  • Inflation is what remains hidden, and ready to explode, after years of Federal Reserve's Q.E. effort.
  • Inflation is the fantastic man-made monster that arises from another fantastic man-made monster 'money', that arose from yet another fantastic man-made monster 'progress'.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The magic of Nanotechnology

The magical atoms!

While at school, all of us studied about atoms and molecules. We were told these were really small physical constructs, and had almost magical properties at the nano level.

As we grew up, we read more about the "magic" that is possible at the atomic, or nano, level. Scientists the world over have tried to learn how to manipulate single atoms, to enable creation of magic drugs or machines that can cure seemingly incurable diseases.

Nanotechnology is the study of matter at the nano scale, and the immense possibilities that open up. As part of our training programme for UPSC IAS exam, I took a session on it, and here it is! 

The session is conducted bi-lingually (English + Hindi), and I have tried to explain the rather complex topic in an easy to understand manner. 


You are welcome to enquire more about this programme. 

Please visit and let us know. Best wishes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How to spend last few days before UPSC Mains

Exams IAS CAT Sandeep Manudhane PT PT's IAS Academy SM sir
Tick Tock!
Here's a 30 DAY STRATEGY prior to UPSC MAINS

Right in the middle of the Diwali festivities, the candidates who cleared Prelims are neck deep into the finishing touches for Mains 2015. The last month is very crucial. A lot of anxiety, trepidation and many questions regarding what and how. 

Let's analyse it pointwise:

1. What should have been done by now

  • By now you should have had gone through the entire Mains syllabus at least twice - for GS as well as the Optional subject.
  • Your hand-written notes - what we call POWER NOTES - should be totally ready for final revision
  • You should have had a decent exposure to writing answers and should already have appeared for some mock tests for Mains.
  • The habit of reading newspapers and magazines has already become second nature to you, and you should now be revising current affairs with full confidence.
  • The last month is the make or break month for aspirants. If these days are not utilized properly all efforts put earlier can end up un-optimised.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Politicians versus Civil Servants

A lot of students often wonder, who is more powerful - a politician or a civil servant?

Put crudely - "a CM or an IAS officer?"

This question is similar to the following:
IAS Civil Servant PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir IIM CAT
Yes Minister!
  1. Who is more powerful in a company - the CEO or the Departmental Heads?
  2. Who is more powerful in an army - the Supreme Commander or the Field Generals?
  3. Who is more powerful in a Political Party - the President or the District Heads?
In all these cases, to the uninitiated, the answer is clear - the first guy mentioned.

But to a more mature eye, the power of the 'first' depends so intimately on the workings of the second. Will a CEO be effective without proper execution by the various departmental heads (of, say, Finance, HR, Marketing, Production etc.)? Will the Supreme Commander of an Army be any good without the bravery and tactical brilliance of the field generals? Can the President of a political party alone drive home electoral victories without the involvement of other members?

As is clear, the top guy in an organisation depends on the web of relationships that flow from him, under him and through him. He/she can set the tone and the flow, but the ultimate execution depends on a whole host of factors, including involvement of everyone else.

Indian democracy stands on the three pillars name the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. There is mutual support, and checks-and-balances among them to ensure that no single entity becomes all-powerful. Further, since the Constitution explicitly vests certain powers in the services, no one can take them away (except through a long & complicated process).

If the officer is honest, and wants no special favours from the political bosses, there is virtually nothing that can stop him/her from carrying out the mandated duties.

Few points to consider:

PM Narendra Modi IAS officers BrightSparks blog PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir Indore
Political Executive with Administrative Executive
  1. Politicians come and go. But civil servants are permanent.
  2. A chief minister can be removed anytime by the Central Command of the party. But a civil servant can only be transferred between locations or posts.
  3. The Chief Minister can carry out a major shuffling of administrative machinery from time to time, but even for that, she/he has to depend on the Chief Secretary (an IAS officer).
  4. The Union Cabinet headed by the PM and made up of various Ministers can take major decisions, but the execution and 'filling-up-of-legal-requirements' depends on the Cabinet Secretary (an IAS officer).
  5. Unfortunately, when it comes to corruption, dishonest individuals in both profiles can outdo each other!

It is all about a balance ultimately.