My Interview in the Mentor Section of Hindu Business Line on 13Jun11

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A wishful thought… The Southern Union of India (SUI)

India is a diverse nation with 1000’s of languages, multiple cultures, 27 states, but with a common spirit – The spirit of Indianness! What does this mean: we are hospitable, but do not tolerate hostility; we survive on juggad, but believe we will lead the next wave of innovations; we are called a developing nation, but have many a lessons to teach to the developed nations.

When you look at India at a slightly microscopic level, this spirit comes to life in different ways across the four regions of the country (North, South, East & West), owing to their distinct cultures.

If you look at the South, through it is 5 states, different cultures, different languages, but they are still united in more ways than one. Take for instance the food: Idly, dosa, sambar, rasam & curd rice are all part of the staple diet of a South Indian. Take for instance the outlook: modern but orthodox. This is one region, where the people have a unique combination of intellect and business sense.

Similarly the northern region, they have roti, dal, lassi & butter as common components of their food. The general attitude is more aggressive, blunt, yet open & welcoming.

You will find common traits in the West, East also!

The big question is: How are these regions leveraging these similarities in outlook & aspirations?

How would be it the South Indian fertility (as a point in case) could leverage these commonalties (in thinking, approach, culture) and use them to drive growth across the region?

What if the Southern States (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Pudducherry & Tamil Nadu) formed a Southern Union of India (SUI), much like the European Union (EU), but taking into account the learning from the EU. This SUI can gain from:

1. Free trade across its borders: This will mean local enterprise will benefit and expansion across the SUI will be faster and more cost effective (less paper work, less bureaucracy).  This will mean that the states will lose octroi and other taxes, but can make it up in other areas. This process will become easier with the coming of the GST, making taxation uniform across states.

2. Common vehicle registration: enabling vehicles registered in the SUI to ply freely across these states

3. Common water management: I know this is a touchy topic, but if you look at it, water is a basic right of each human and the rivers are the property of each Indian, then why the dispute. A Common water management body across the SUI can ensure optimal utilization / distribution of water and the common cash pool can be used to develop better infrastructure & faster.

4. Common Infrastructure development: SUI will have a much larger pool of resources and the access to larger natural resources and talent pools.

5. Common trade policies: will mean larger FDI aided by streamlined processes, common agendas, etc. Just imagine if the GIM (Global Invertor Meet) that happened in Karnataka was conducted for the SUI? I am sure that the 4LCr commitment would have been multiplied 3 to 4 times! Where Karnataka has seen the major investment coming for Steel, the other regions could have attracted other sectors.

6. Leverage of technology: The southern states already have a god e-governance system. Imagine the cross-pollination of these practices across the SUI and leverage of ICT for managing cross border working. WoW What an impact!

7. Common Skilled Labour pool: Anyone getting trained in vocational skills and certified by the NCVT would easily be able to get a job across the SUI. This will mean access to a larger skilled labour pool, a huge boon to the industry.

I am sure the right people can identify another 100 items where the SUI can collaborate, but I guess the biggest advantage will be the fact that people across the southern states will begin the see the SUI as THEIR responsibility and look above petty political issues and come together for the progress of the region.

I know this thought goes against the basis fundamentals of the political system of divide and rule, but if the goal is to make money, please do! The attempt here is not to kill corruption (though it might also get curbed), but instead to create a larger impact from the bucks spent!

On the same lines if N, W, E can also create regional unions, I guess we will be a more united and progressive nation than we are today.

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Softness = Weakness ??

I have always wondered why all the successful people appear to be stubborn or arrogant or ruthless!

The fact of the matter is that they are forced to behave like that, even though deep inside they might not be that way. They are also hard working smart humans with emotions and feelings. They also understand right from wrong, they are also caring and giving. This I know due to my close association with many such seemingly stubborn successful  individuals (I am sure you know some also).

I always used to feel that the success has got to them… but then I realized, the fact of the matter is the world equates Softness to Weakness.

These people (successful people) realized and decided not to be treated as weaklings and hence appear as rigid to the ones who don’t know them well enough.

If you reflect back and look at how you have treated people who were “soft”… didn’t you think

– they were spineless,

– they were people who cannot stand-up,

– they were people who do not have a view of there own, etc… in other words weak??

The fact is, the world takes the soft people for granted and tries to run them over (knowingly or unknowingly). Soft people are often soft targets.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are truly weak people and also there are stubborn people, but you can make out. An actually weak/stubborn/arrogant person will be hollow or superficial in his knowledge and can be identified easily.

Let me leave you with these thoughts:

1. Lets be more compassionate to soft people, they might actually be smart.

2. Mostly successful stubborn people are humans too, who have become successful because of their hard work!

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The Year gone by 1: Fatherhood…

This year began with a pop… and out popped my little angel… Danika (means “Morning Star” in Slavic). Jan 20th to be precise.

She brought with her loads of different emotions and the most overpowering one being that of becoming a “Father”. Let me try and define “Fatherhood”?

Its when you feel Blank… thoughtless actually! I guess its the sheer feeling of not knowing what to do next. I remember running out of the operation theater with my hands up in the air, with tears in my eyes, shouting… its a girl, its a girl… but not really being able to think. But believe me when I think back, its the best feeling one can have.

It is when you are scared of holding your little one, but you have to show you are strong to an even more scared better half (wife)!

Better half… Not knowing which one..?? Is it now a better one-third? Confusing isn’t it?!!

Its the feeling of joy & peace when you look at my angel sleep, spiked with a strong dose of fear that says “Oh! Sh**, I am responsible for her”.

Its the first time you realize that your wife can actually create magic… literally and I have been telling her that “She did a fine job”, every single day!

Its the fun of being cuddled, hugged, bitten, drooled upon…

Believe me, when she puts her head on my shoulder and sleeps or clings on to me; it feels like I am her protector and I can almost hear her say “My daddy the strongest”.

These past 11 months have been true bliss… seeing her grow, seeing her smile, seeing her respond, seeing her cry, seeing her play, seeing her dance, seeing her anger…. oh, I can assure you no one told me I have to be ready for this… and specially when these statements hold good for both Mother & Daughter!!!

Danika will soon turn One in Jan and I am sure she will turn 10 soon enough… Fatherhood also means realizing time flies (and flies real fast)…

This has probable been my fastest year gone by… and one I would have loved for to continue.

(There so much more I can share… maybe I will do a Fatherhood Part 2)

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The Year Gone by…

Its been a while since I got down to blog… So over the next 8 days of 2010, I will pen down my Thoughts to sum-up this year for me.

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Outcome…

The above average human is extremely hard-working and puts in a tremendous amount of effort to succeed. Every successful person I know and I am sure even the ones I don’t know are hard-working. Then what differentiates a somewhat successful person and a really successful one? (And, I really don’t want to get into the whole definition of success discussion here!)

Like a close friend once mentioned, Gaurav, to be successful one must focus on “Outcome”. I really didn’t understand at that time, but it surely got me thinking. I realize now. It is the “Outcome” that matters and not the “Output” nor the “hard work”, both being necessary evils, but cannot be the end goal.

Let me try explaining with an example: Lets say you were give the task of ensuring your companies participation in an event, with the aim to generate additional business. You do your task extremely well: get your CEO a speaking slot, setup a great booth to showcase the companies offerings and fix a few meeting for the sales guys on the sidelines. Would you say you were successful? Measuring “Output”, I would say ‘yes’ (participation, 1 speaking slot, say 5 meeting), but looking at “Outcome”, hard to say at this stage. If even one of these meeting would have converted into a lead or better still into a new deal, I will say an absolute ‘YES’.

Looking back across my personal & professional life; it has been the “Outcomes” that have made the difference and being “Outcome” focused has made all the difference! I am sure one of the key attributes that differentiate the somewhat successful people and the really successful ones, is the later’s ability to focus on “Outcome”.

Thought: So are you ‘Output’ focused or “Outcome” focused?

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Blogging fears, overcome!

Blogging can be scary… ask me! I have been just thinking about blogging, but never got down to posting my first blog! A few things that stopped me:
1. Am I good enough
2. These guys (bloggers) write well
3. Who will read this
4. Is it worth my time
… etc etc

Finally I realized, I will never know if its worth it till I try. One thing is for sure, writing helps me think and if nothing else, this blog will be a diary of my thoughts. I hope you all enjoy the “Thoughts” as much as I enjoy sharing them.

All the best to me and Happy Reading to you…
Gaurav

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