Rajiv Gandhi

Today is the 20th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi. I still remember vividly the moments I heard the news of his assasination. It was holidays. And I had been to my grandparent’s place and stayed overnight, a rare instance. We were sleeping when we heard noise on the streets in the middle of the night. We thought it was some election galatta and went back to sleep. The next morning we heard the news of his gruesome assassination. The news that some one can blow a human being and by blowing oneself up was very shocking to me. Back then, I could not even imagine such a thing could happen. The photos on the newspapers were very disturbing. I have never been disturbed by a political leader’s death before or after.

In part it was because of the nature of the assassination and in part because Rajiv was my first hero in the political space. In that impressionable age, Rajiv’s charisma was overpowering. I remember his charming smile, quick sprints to the stages, his speeches (usually translated simultaneously to Tamil by P Chidambaram) and the way in which he used to throw the garlands back to people. One such garland was to take his life in the end.

With some knowledge of history, today I could see Rajiv in a more balanced way. Still I believe he is the last mass charismatic leader we have had. I was very young when he took over. But accounts of his times show there was a sense of vitality and confidence that marked his initial years. Though his political inexperience and the reality of the political life finally caught up with him, he seemed a mature more experienced person in 1991 and was all set to come back to power.

We have had a series of uninspiring leaders since Rajiv, at the national level, an exception in some ways would be Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee.  In my opinion, the Prime Minister of the country is not only the executive head of the state. He/She is also the leader of the nation who should serve as an inspiration, paint a vision for the nation and galvanize it to action. Dr. Abdul Kalam was an inspiring President. Unfortunately, our recent Prime Ministers remained only as political figures or temporary occupants or a bureaurcrat’s bureaucrat. We need someone like the younger Rajiv, someone with charisma, vision and action to inspire, motivate and lead. Twenty years, I am still waiting. 

P.S.: A couple of days back the second anniversary of the Mullivaikal massacre was observed. Ironically, I believe Rajiv Gandhi was the best possible bet for a solution to the Srilankan problem from the India. He took genuine steps to bring peace there. His killing definitely alienated LTTE from the public opinion in India. Life is always a series of ifs and buts..but if only he had not been killed 20 years back, one never know, we may not have had the massacre 2 years back.

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Shame on you Congress!

My sympathies for the Congress party which has already reached abysmally low levels since the start of UPA-2 is on the verge of complete extinction now. It pains to see how this party and the Government can stoop to such low levels in resisting attempts for cleaner governance. Why is there such a barrage of insinuations and vilification of civil society representatives in the Drafting Committee of the Lok Pal Bill? The Bhushans have been carrying out their fight against corruption at high places for quite some time now. Why were the issues raised now not raised earlier? One wonders what moral right does Digvijaya Singh have in giving his opinions on Justice Santosh Hegde! And now the Congress ‘High Command’ has directed their members not to air opinions in public. Are we so dumb to believe that Mr. Singh made his statements without the blessings of the ‘High Command’? I am not saying that all the allegations are false, I am not the one to judge it. But the timing surely stinks!

Shame on you Congress! You are the oldest party of the country, the party that has ruled the country for most times, the party which was rewarded with a couple of hundred seats in the Lok Sabha for the performance of UPA-1. And people expected you to double up the good work without the constraints of coalition partners, and here you stand having squandered such an opportunity. Taking comfort in the fact that no credible alternative exist you have become arrogant! Shame on you!

Anita McGahan on Recasting MBA Schools

Here’s an interesting TEDx talk by Professor Anita McGahan, recipient of the Academy of Management Business Policy and Strategy Division’s 2010 Irwin Outstanding Educator Award, on revamping business education.

Very relevant thoughts, especially for our country like ours.

P.S.: Click on the title of the post if you are not able to see the video

Champions – What’s next?

Well Done Team India! Thank you 🙂

 It was an awesome world cup and Team India the deserving champions. Years of waiting on our side and preparation on yours and finally you have delivered. We are the No. 1 Test Playing Nation and ODI World Cup Champions 🙂 Keep it going.

What’s next? Test Series victories in West Indies, England and Australia? That would be a great hat-trick. Three overseas Test series back to back in three different continents in a single season!. And could be a wonderful last phase for greats like  Dravid, Laxman and Sachin.

An hat-trick would be a challenge, especially with some chinks in our bowling department. But we know you would go for it and we would be there to cheer for you. All the very best!

Decision 2011 – On voting, 49-O and tender ballot

“Decisions are made by who show up”– The West Wing, Season 1 , Episode 22

April 13, 2011 is one such decision day. One of the crucial elections in TN in recent times.  So do go, vote and make yourself heard.

EVERY VOTE COUNTS. EVERY VOTE COUNTS. EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

Here are some useful FAQs from the Election Commission website for the election:

Source: http://elections.tn.nic.in/faq.htm

1) How to check your name in the electoral rolls and to find the polling station where you have to go to vote?

As an elector you should immediately check whether your name has been included in the electoral roll of the constituency where you reside or not. You can find out this information from the Electoral Registration Officer of your area. Electoral Rolls in all major cities have now been displayed on official websites also.

For TN elections you can check the electoral rolls at this site: http://elections.tn.nic.in/

2) What is the process of voting? How do you go about it?

1. The poll date and hours are fixed by the Election Commission of India and they are well publicized before all elections.

2. When you reach the polling station, entry will be regulated by queues. There will be separate queues for men and women voters and the physically handicapped persons. The persons who enforce the queues will allow 3-4 voters into the polling station at a time. Physically handicapped voters and women voters with babies in arm will be given precedence over the other voters in the queue.

3. Stage 1: When you enter the polling station, you will go to the First Polling Officer who is in-charge of the marked copy of the electoral roll and responsible for identification of electors. You should keep your identity document ready to show to the First Polling Officer. You can also show to him the unofficial identity slip giving your particulars. However, you should note that unofficial identity slip only helps in locating your name in the electoral roll but is not a guarantee of your identification. The First Polling Officer will then call out your name and serial number so that the polling agents become aware of your presence and your identity is not challenged.

4. Stage 2: Thereafter, if your identity is not challenged, you will proceed to the Second Polling Officer who will mark your left forefinger with the indelible ink. Thereafter, he will proceed to record your serial number in the electoral roll in the Register of Voters. Once this is recorded, you are to sign in the appropriate column in the Register of Voters. If a voter cannot sign, his/her thumb impression will be obtained. The Second Polling Officer will then give you a signed voter’s slip which will record your serial number in the register of voters and your serial number in the electoral roll.

5. Stage 3: You will then proceed to the Third Polling Officer who will take the voter’s slip issued to you by the Second Polling Officer. The Third Polling Officer will press the “Ballot” button on the Control Unit of voting machine and direct you to the voting compartment where you will record your vote on the balloting unit of the voting machine. Please note that each voter will proceed to the voting compartment in exactly the same sequence in which his/her serial number is recorded in the voters’ register.

6. Stage 4: Voting Procedure.

  • Inside the voting compartment, you are to press the blue candidate button on the Balloting Unit against the name and symbol of the candidate of your choice.
  • Press the button only once.
  • On the candidate button being pressed, the red lamp will glow against the name and symbol of that candidate.
  • There will also be a beep sound heard to indicate that your vote has been recorded and the Busy lamp goes off in the Control Unit.
  • This process is repeated for other voters till end of the poll.

7. You must remember that secrecy of voting is important. Every elector is expected to maintain the secrecy of voting and in case of failure to maintain secrecy the elector may not be permitted to vote. Any person who violates the secrecy, will be booked for an offence under Section 128 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. You should, therefore, not disclose to any person who you have voted for. Similarly, if any election official attempts to obtain information on who you have voted for, it will amount to an offence committed by that official. Photography of a voter casting vote is prohibited. It may also be noted that no polling official or agent can come inside the voting compartment under the pretext of helping you to vote. You can, however, be permitted to take a companion of not less than 18 years with you for recording your vote, if for any physical infirmity you require such assistance.

3) (49-O) Can you decline to cast your vote at the last stage?

The law enables a voter to decline casting his vote at the last stage. If you decide not to cast your vote after having signed on the Register of Voters and after having received the voters’ slip from the Second Polling Officer, you must inform the Presiding Officer immediately. He will then take back the voters’ slip from you and proceed to record in the remarks column of the Register of Voters that you have declined to exercise your franchise and you will be required to put your signature under such entry. After this is done, you can leave the polling station without proceeding to the Voting Compartment.

4) What happens when your vote is challenged?

In case your identity as a voter is challenged by a polling agent of any candidate, on the ground that you are not the person whose name is listed on the rolls, the Presiding Officer will ask the challenger to give evidence in proof, of his challenge. Similarly, he will ask you for proof of your identity. You can use your EPIC or any other supporting document like Passport, Ration Card etc. for this purpose. If the challenge is not established, you will be allowed to vote. However, if challenge is established, you will be debarred from voting and handed over to the police with a written complaint by the Presiding Officer.

5) What happens if someone else has cast the vote in your name?

1. If the First Polling Officer tells you on arrival inside the polling station that your vote has already been cast, bring this to the attention of the Presiding Officer immediately. The law allows you to cast a Tendered Vote. A Tendered Ballot Paper, as per Rule 49P of the Conduct of Elections Rules, will be given to you and you will be required to sign your name on the list of tendered votes. A tendered ballot paper is the same as the ballot paper displayed on the balloting unit, except that it shall be endorsed on the back, with the words, “Tendered Ballot Paper” either stamped by the Returning Officer or written by the Presiding Officer at the time of issuing it.

2. After marking your choice of candidate with the help of Arrow Cross Mark rubber stamp you should hand over the tendered ballot paper to the Presiding Officer, who will keep it in a separate cover. Please note that in such case, you will not cast your vote on the EVM.

(Picture Source: http://www.erepublik.com/en/article/-presidential-election-a-new-journey-ahead-1233685/1/20)

My greatest lesson on being a teacher..

It seems now that I may end up having teaching as the career option sometime soon if not immediately. But I had my first lesson in being a teacher came some 15 years ago. We just learnt that my sister then in her sixth standard was not promoted to seventh. This was her first year in that school. My mother went and requested the Principal to promote her to seventh promising that she would do well in the next year. The Principal patiently explained her the need not to do so. She reasoned how such a decision can actually hurt her in the long run. Looking back several times I have thanked that Principal.

My sister redid her sixth standard, but she was determined to do well now. She progressively improved in her academics, went on to do very well in college , studied networking, passed CISCO certified exams in flying colours and now working in one of the best private sector organizations in the country. I am so proud of her, the way she worked hard and improved by the year. I am sure she will scale greater positions in her career. I always think all this might not have been possible if the Principal had agreed to my mother’s request. It might have been possible as well but I guess the chances would have been very less.

I believe that single firm decision with the student’s long term overall interest in mind played a major role in the transformation of my sister. 

According to me, a teacher’s job does not end with just giving technical inputs on the subject, conducting exams and giving out letter grades alone. A teacher has a larger role to play in shaping the mind of a student. And sometimes by his/her action (knowingly or unwittingly) the teacher can affect students’ life in a way that they cannot even imagine.  I have given the positive example above. There are examples on the other side as well.

For example, I have seen teachers who were careless about evaluations. I have witnessed teachers who give grades without submissions or give grades without even bothering to go through the submissions or accept late submissions without any reason. Maybe they genuinely disbelieve the grade system etc. but by their action they are sending out a message. They send out a message that is discouraging to people who have put in the hardwork. More importantly, they are in danger of sending out a message to those who were lackadaisical about their work that it is okay to be so. They inadvertantly play a role in reinforcing the carefree/free-rider approach to work. I believe that this would ultimately hurt those kind of students’ interests in the long run. These teachers have not learnt an important lesson of being a teacher: that a teacher’s action can have long range impact on a student’s life and it is important to think one’s role as much more than just a technical knowledge giver and being ‘popular’.