Monday, October 31, 2016

The Iron Man who united modern India - a salute

Today is India's Iron Man - Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's - birth anniversary, and his amazing achievements need to be understood in the context of the complex background he was working in.

The Britishers came into south Asia as traders, became our rulers, looted us for 200 years with all enthusiasm and sowed seeds of discontent and struggle that we are forced to live with till date. The central pillar of their rule over such a huge land with massive diversity was simple - break Indian unity by nurturing selfish kings and princes, while defanging their military strength systematically and giving them a dream of a bright future. Today's Rajya Sabha itself came into being as a Council for such Princes, where they would meet together under British supervision.

As the fires of independence struggle started burning bright, the British were sure of one thing - once they left, India would simply balkanise (break apart) into hundreds of pieces. They knew it as they saw no single Party or individual capable enough of tying the huge land into one thread of unity. The rulers had no idea that a man whose vision was broader than Bismarck and skills sharper than Robert Clive and Warren Hastings combined, was waiting in the wings.

Here is one of the many maps of the India when Britishers left in 1947. The complexity of the situation and immensity of the task of unification could have driven anyone crazy.,

(this is one of the many maps available)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Festive season of Diwali - a time to reassess India's priorities

The entire nation is drenched in the festive and colourful spirit of Diwali - the festival of lights. It is wonderful to see how over hundreds of years, this festival has taken on contemporary hues while retaining its ancient structure, alive with legends still relevant.

So before moving ahead - here's wishing all my readers a wonderful Diwali!

The key message from Diwali is - arrival of Good, destruction of Bad, cleaning of the clutter and mess, & a renewed vigour for prosperity!

In fact, there's this amazing article on Diwali you must read!

Let me apply Diwali's lessons in a national context. As we near the end of 2016, it is a good time to see the direction our national priorities are taking, and how far we still have to go to ensure a decent quality of life to all Indians.

From the experiences gained in 25 years as an education entrepreneur working at the grassroot levels, I feel that an India aspiring for superpower status needs to urgently work on the seven priorities listed below, and Diwali is the best time to list these!

  1. Rapid economic growth - India needs tonnes of investment, both internal and external, to speed up the industrial sector and overall economy and absorb the huge pool of emerging youth. Many initiatives are being pushed by the Government, with Make-in-India leading the march. Unfortunately, the speed still needs much acceleration. This single priority, if successfully achieved, can put renewed vigour in India's rejuvenation. We have a long way to go.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Leadership lessons from Tata Group's latest ordeal

So it happened finally on the 24th October, 2016.

What was simmering below the surface, popping up occasionally through news reports and the rare interviews, rare enough to be brushed under the carpet, exploded into full public view. 

Barely four years into the job, Cyrus Mistry lost his job as the top gun at the huge Tata industrial and services empire in India., Tata sacks Cyrus Mistry,

For the group, it is a rare thing to happen. In fact, in its nearly 150 years of existence, the group has seen only six individuals heading it. That puts it in a league that even the hallowed General Electric can't compete with - GE has had 12 CEOs over 124 years (of course, GE is a single legal entity running multiple businesses, and the Tata Sons holding company is controlling multiple legal entities (separate companies), but that's just a legal difference. For practical purposes, group Chairman is the boss and his word is final). Also, since Mr Mistry belongs to the family that holds the largest chunk of shareholding in Tata Sons (the holding company of the entire group), something must have gone terribly wrong for the Board to resort to such a desperate measure. I try to analyse it from a leadership - management perspective, and hopefully we all have some lessons to learn here.

  1. Times change, Systems usually do not. Well, times had changed in 1991 when the prime minister of India Mr P V Narsimha Rao had thrust an unprepared India into the fires of economic liberalisation. Most corporate groups, accustomed to greasing their way to prosperity, simply fell by the wayside in the raging and unfamiliar storm of global competition. A young Ratan Tata, newly minted Chairman of the Tata Group, set upon radically restructuring the group to stay relevant. He succeeded big time. We have covered that story at length in this Bodhi for our site here. It was the sheer force of Ratan Tata's vision and personality that he carried the group through the most difficult time imaginable. However, Mr Cyrus Mistry was not allowed the same freedom this time round. He was simply removed, as major transformations were afoot. Cyrus was facing the heat of a global slowdown just when the Tata Group had truly globalised itself (65% revenues coming from 100 countries). Was the system not able to cope up with rapid change this time? Obviously not. Was Mr Mistry not able to take the system into confidence? It seems not. For a visionary leader in an important position of power, the quality of communication can mean the difference between pulling it through, and losing it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

An amazing set of learning resources, for you!

What a fortnight it has been! Full of excitement, new resource launches, and solid innovation. So let me tell you all about it!

First of all, we have launched the Open beta version of a fantastic knowledge portal for learners and achievers, and we passionately call it the - Bodhi Booster!

We are creating amazing Bodhis (articles), Bodhi Prashns (Quizzes on those articles) and bilingual learning content - Hindi Bodhi Booster!

The whole idea came from the constant and pressing need for students across south Asia, and especially India, to have a dedicated portal for GK and current affairs, but one that would be tastefully done, refined and with adequate depth. And yes, one that would do justice to both Hindi and English medium students. We have attempted precisely that.

Just visit Bodhi Booster, and take a taste of this solid resource! Don't forget to spend some quality time knowing the nitty-gritty of it by visiting About Us, FAQs and Bodhi Soochi.

And while you are at it, don't forget to subscribe to the Free weekly newsletter - Bodhi Prakash, here!

And of course, all this is available in Hindi as well, in parallel, here!,,

This has taken tremendous passion and perseverance for the whole team, and we are happy with the beta that's out for you to enjoy.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

What would happen if everyone on the planet was a billionaire?

The concept of ‘Money’ is the most fantastic creation of the human mind. It is artificial, and holds up only because we all allow it to.

It has helped speed up a lot of our daily lives, due to easy understanding of transactions. This much we all know, agree with, and love, as none would like to prefer using the alternative - bartering.

So what this amazing invention called ‘money’ has done is to reduce every product, experience, service and interaction to a common scale - the value scale - measured through a certain currency (convertible to another, or most of the rest). That this ‘money’ is physical or virtual, convertible or non-convertible, means little in the bigger scheme of things (unless, of course, you are a crook or a cyber-thief siphoning off central banks’ monies! Or North Korea.)

Value” is what underlies everything. It defines how much money we are willing to part with, or earn through hard labour, and also why shining objects called the iPhones can keep commanding ridiculous sums of money to get owned, despite equally good or even better products available at much lower ‘prices’.

Value is, because you have more of what can measure it, and I have less of it (or vice versa). Value (created through human effort) and the dissimilar amounts of moneys that can exchange it, creates the required ‘potential difference’ that keeps economies moving.

brightsparks, sandeep manudhane, money, inflation, hyperinflation, value

So, when you give a sum of, say, $ 1 billion to every human on Earth,

Sums of money with everyone = Equal, huge, equally huge!
Potential Difference needed to create meaningful flows of value = Nil
Value of the “money” we hold = Equal, hence very low!
Worth of what we hold = drastically down
Prices of nearly all products and services = sky high (worth down)
Welcome to hyperinflation, and the breakdown of monetary systems.
Government’s response? Reset the monetary system. Create new potential differences.

As an extension of this thought, it is amazing to visualise mankind’s future. If machine-use speeds up drastically and possible infinite energy sources like cold fusion etc. really come into being, we have a perennial and super-abundant future. Money will become meaningless in the glut-economy, and bingo! We would have created a truly communist society! Ha, ha.

I have tried to analyse the whole idea of money is a series of lectures, the first of which can be viewed by clicking below.

The Concept of Money

Thank you for reading.