Saturday, December 18, 2010

Patit Pavitra

Its not that I have not been reading all this while. Its just that I have not been posting!

Completed reading "Patit Pavitra" (Sinner & Pure) by Bhai Vir Singh.

The short essay/narration dwells on the deep rooted caste system in the Indian society and more so in the Sikh religion which was established by breaking down the walls between castes and divisions in the human race based on sex, creed, region etc.

A good two pages of this write up are devoted to the undeniable fact of life that life and death are ever-co-existant and supporting and fighting each. It is described in many examples, few of which are:
1. beautiful sparrows in playful mood among dead wood
2. bulbul (a song bird) singing beautifully while perched on a human skull
3. new plants growing from the wood of a large fallen and dead tree

Describing the facts that Sikh religion was established without any discrimination and was based only on love for One Supreme Being, one of the quotes from Guru Granth Sahib that talks of all saints from all classes of society and equates them:

Bhalo Kabir das dasan ko
uttam Sain jan naee
uch te uch Namdev samdarsi
Ravidas thakur ban ayee
Few quotes that shun the caste in front of the Lord:
1. Aagey jaat roop na jaye Teha hovey jehey karam kamaye
2. Agey jaat na pucchiye karni sabad hai saar
3. Fakad jaati fakad nao Sabna jiya eka cchao

One way caste system that works in God's scheme of things is:
Khasam visaray, te kamjaat Nanak naavey bajh sanaat

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Don Quixote

Don Quixote – Finding leadership in Lunacy

Reference: Don Quixote by Cervantes

The novel Don Quixote was written by Cervantes in 17th century and has been a best seller not only of its time but across centuries and the world. It is the only novel to be translated into most number of languages.

It is a story of Don Quixote, a tall thin idealistic country gentleman who after reading books about knights in medieval times gets such a fascination about knights that he starts believing himself to be one! He longs to do acts of bravery and does not miss any opportunity for it even if the opportunity does not exist. He is accompanied in his pursuits of knighthood, by Sancho Panzo, a greedy, cowardly but kind and faithful peasant labourer who acts as a reality check for Don but is conveniently ignored by the knight.

Don’s various acts in the story seem to be stupid and nonsensical but at the same time his single minded pursuit of goal force us to ponder whether he is a delusional madman or a leader ruled by vision and strong sense of self. He exemplifies the fact that when a mission consumes you, it fills you with optimism, creativity and stamina. The character forces us to search for answers to questions like:
a. Should we be ashamed of our dreams or follow them in reality regardless of their absurdity?
b. Should we hold values that the world around us has forgotten and placed in meuseums?
c. What is better - being people's hero or being hero in one's own eyes?
d. Where is the line that separates boldness from recklessness, bravery from blindness and cowardice from prudence?

Though the character may not be able to give clear answers to the above questions but certain leadership qualities do come out rather strikingly. He is full of energy and looks forward to the unknown despite being old. His ability to imagine has not withered with age. When on a mission, however absurd it may be for the rest of the world, his single minded pursuit is admirable.

Managers of organizations can draw lessons in leadership from Don. Whether they will like to be a Sancho who represents the world at large and is found in abundance or will they assume the role of Don and refuse to conform to the norms of the society thereby setting up their own norms and achieving the results that they dream about. Don exhibits a sense of responsibility many times and teaches the managers to be responsible for their actions, words and dreams. Don proves that achieving dreams calls for being mad; it demands rebelling against the set rules of the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If God was a Banker

If God was a Banker

Ravi Subramanian

After many months, I could get to read a novel thanks to a long flight and here’s my account of it.

I somehow tend to like stories that are told in more than a few flashbacks and therefore I enjoyed the story telling style (even the 2 or 3 amateur stories written by me in my blog are told in a flashback). But all along I could get the feeling that the plot is a complete pickup from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. While Ayn Rand pitched the two protagonists on the creative profession of architecture, the author here pitched his two on the hottest career of our times – banking. It’s been a long time when I read The Fountainhead, and I don’t recollect if we had anyone who can be labeled as God for both the protagonists. This seems to be the only difference between the two novels – here we have a God (who never showed any godliness except that of forgiveness) for taking care of both of them.

Sundeep and Swami start from the same professional backgrounds – management diplomas from IIMs. But it is surprising that Swami was shown to be way too modest even after spending 2 years in IIMA. It did not feel very nice to know that my alma mater was shown not instilling enough aggressiveness in its students. Anyway, Sundeep filled the vacuum. A few other things seemed to be not correct chronologically but one would not have given them any importance had the author himself not made it too realistic by using certain names especially of organizations.

The story could have been more to my liking if it had a little less of the excessive explicitness of sexual encounters of one of the protagonists. At times it seemed that the author is trying very hard to emulate Khushwant Singh but then Singh’s novels have a much smoother flow.

Enough of negative criticism. I did like the novel for its style of story telling. The pace was good and emotions seemed real. It also captured the politics, dramas etc that go on in banking circles – just that there were no inter-bank scenes. They are pretty common too and I wished they were captured somehow.

In the story, Sundeep and Swami, pass outs of IIMs join a foreign bank in India and in the first week impress their boss – Aditya who plays the God. The two take different paths to success – Sundeep takes short-cuts to climb up the ladder and pocket the moolah as well, while Swami takes the hard way full of sincerity and hard work. And as any Bollywood movie would reach its climax, Sundeep gets trapped in his own actions and is asked to give resignation by the bank while Swami is elevated to higher posts. Aditya, the God comes to the rescue of Sundeep as he did in past for both Sundeep and Swami despite Sundeep’s bad behavior with him during Sundeep’s rise.

All in all, an OK one time read, but don’t do the mistake that I did – purchasing the novel. Read it by borrowing it.