Sunday, 29 November 2015

Rivers flow not past but through us

How many times have we admired a flowing river-- be it in the Gangetic plains in India or rocky heights of the Grand Canyon in North America. Rivers cast a spell on the viewer. If viewed over the seasons, rivers teach us the meaning of contrasts in life. For example:
Calmness Vs turbulence
Wide Vs narrow
Deep Vs shallow
Danger Vs safe
Dirty Vs clean (water) 
Plenty Vs scarcity and so on.

These observations teach us a lesson or two. Like not to pollute a river either by throwing garbage or discharging a city's sewerage into the river or both! Many of our rivers and lakes in Indian cities have been polluted beyond redemption. 

Why has it happened this way? Because, most of us observe the river as it flows past. We do not feel that we are part of the river. How can we be part of the river? Sounds weird? Consider what John Muir said "The rivers flow not past, but through us". See the picturesque quote PQ created by superimposing this quotation on the scenic picture of Punakha river in Bhutan Himalayas.
If we all feel the river flowing through us--like our own blood and energy--we will neither abuse nor destroy the river. We never destroy our own life, do we? So, next time you are on a river bank, pause and feel the river flowing through you! And feel the transformation within you.

In case you want to see some more pictures of Punakha in Bhutan, click here.

A few more PQs related to Nature can be seen by clicking any of the links below:
Caterpillars teach us self-discipline
Nature and its marvels
Mist and mountain

More on flowing rivers in the next post.

Thanks for browsing.
Your feedback or comments are always welcome

    Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 29th Nov 2015 

29th Nov: Animesh Bhowmick contributed the following:
"Rivers have always been a source of enigma and intrigue for mankind . (Hemant Kumar song on Ganga in Bengali is apt). Often it is difficult to locate the exact source of the river. Take for instance Nile considered the longest river, but now has been overtaken by Amazon through a series of satellite mapping technique recently developed to pin point the exact starting streams. Even in case of Ganges new studies discard Gomukh to b the starting point but trace it back further into under rock multiple crevices miles away,  flowing with glacier water from above. It's interesting to note that Chambal is the only river in India, whose source is not mountain rain water but underground springs . Also river Okavango flows hundreds of miles under ground surface, before emerging out at the delta spilling into Atlantic. Even Danube flowing thru Balkans into the Black Sea at Volga Bulgaria has interesting history- It's here that the Greeks discovered Amber (Shilajit) and coined the famous Amber route. Perhaps no other cultural sub group like the Hindu Bengalis of erstwhile undivided India, had so much impact/ influence on their daily life from the confluence of Ganga, Brahmaputra (called Jamuna), Teesta and Meghna flowing through it's heartland compositely called Padma."

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

39th Anniversary

Thirty nine
going to forty
called the Ruby Anniversary.

Ruby is a precious stone.
So is life with the family.
God has been kind
to have given us 
two caring children 
with two equally caring spouses and
four wonderful grand children.
We are grateful to 
our parents
rest of the family
and all the friends
for enriching our lives.

as we complete
39 years of togetherness
we thank each one of you
for being part of our life.
It has been a great journey.
Stay connected.

As we say in the picture below we are truly, 'Feeling blessed together'.

And before we sign off, here is how we looked 39 years ago! Location- Museum Lawns, Pilani 1976. Black and white has its own charm!

Bye for now.

    -Neeta and Harsh Bhargava (the Ghumakkad)/ 25th Nov 2015

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Life as a reflection of State of mind

A picture of two black-winged stilts in flight forms the backdrop of this week's PQ- picturesque quote. The reflection of the birds in the placid waters of the lake, caught my eye. And Google helped me find WW Dyer's apt quote on the state of life being a reflection of the state of mind. Pause and think for a moment. Isn't it true?

Some of the previous PQs on 'life' can be accessed by double clicking any of the links below:

Life is like a butterfly
Flowers and hope
Nature and patience

Do suggest your favourite quotation and Ghumakkad will try and find a suitable picture for it. It is heartening to learn that some of the readers have used the PQs in their talks or lectures. As they say 'proof of the pudding is in eating'!

Thanks for browsing.

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 22nd Nov 2015

Thursday, 19 November 2015

CDM Annual Seminar 2015

College of Defence Management (CDM), Secunderabad India, is my alma-mater for the Management Program and subsequent stints as faculty. An inter-service institution having global recognition, it holds an Annual Seminar on Security Issues concerning India.

Ghumakkad attended this year's seminar. Few pictures, but missed my DSLR. Therefore, please pardon blurred images of iPhone.

The venue

Few veterans can also be seen in the picture.

I was part of the organising team of the 1st Seminar held in 1995 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the College. Few of the staff from that era are still serving the college. Here is a picture with three of them.

The College campus is clean and green.

Here is wishing all the best and greater glory to CDM!

Thanks for browsing.

  Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 19th Nov 2015

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Finding Solutions Together

Ghumakkad takes you on a cerebral plane this time. Unlike most of the previous journeys which were on a physical plane, here we share a learning experience with officers from Indian Police Service (IPS), Forest Service, Postal Service, Revenue Service and other allied civil services.

A workshop titled 'HRM Functions in the Government' was conducted where more than 100 civil service officers having two to four years experience, participated. We had shared the contents of workshop briefing in a previous post. You may click here to browse it.

To make the learning experiential, we conducted a team workout. Each team had to discuss one assigned function of HRM as relevant to government set up, in detail. They had to then assess the pros and cons of existing HRM processes and mechanisms and suggest one improvement/change to make it more effective. Here are few action shots of the workshop.

In the end each team shared the issue as identified and the suggested solution. Two speakers in the picture below.

The workshop proved the point that 'learning by doing' is the best way to learn. Be it children in a school, students in a college or working professionals as in this workshop, learning by doing brings out the best in each participant. As can be seen from the summary of recommendations in the table below, the participants made a brilliant effort in the hour long workshop.

HRM Function
Issue as Identified
Suggested Solution
HR Planning
1.      Lack of National Integration
Promote National Integration through changes in cadre allocation policy
2.      Lack of parity among All India Services
Pay and promotion parity among All India Services to be implemented
Recruitment and Selection
Selection process skewed in favour of candidates from metropolitan cities and private english medium schools/ colleges
1.      Selection process be made more ‘situation-oriented’ rather than theoretical questions and assessment
2.      UPSC Members to include civil society leaders in place of pure academicians
Training and Development (Officer cadre)
Induction Training (like the Foundation Course) based on archaic methods and not connected with ground realities
1.      Induction training at officer level should use more real life Case Studies, field visits, video clips to generate interest. Otherwise, most participants show disinterest and divert their time on next IAS exam/ chance!
2.      Training to be more ‘modular’ rather than ‘monolithic’ as at present. Focus to be on ‘learning by doing’ rather than lectures and PPTs.
Training and Development (Staff level)
Wide gap between officers and staff and their training.
1.      Staff be given training to deal with public like for constables/others.
2.      Greater involvement of Officers in conduct of staff training.
3.      Language training for staff as applicable.
Personnel Administration
Extraneous considerations in postings and transfers.
1.      Use a software based system for greater transparency and fairness.
2.      Software to use data like special skills (say anti-terrorist operations),  need for longer tenures in core assignments, past postings, individual preferences etc.
Performance Appraisal
Present system very ‘sluggish’ and does not cater for performance linked appraisal
Revise the appraisal system to include target based reviews (as in the ‘Scrum’ system widely used in the industry), greater accountability and linking the incentives in an objective manner.

Rewards and Recognition
Lesser focus on ‘Community Awards’ as compared with individual awards
Schemes like ‘Nirmal’ awards for village sanitation, be extended to other fields like education, healthcare, water, livelihoods generation, rural entrepreneurship etc which can improve the quality of life in rural India. Kerala government’s Best Panchayat award is a case in point.

Succession Planning
Lack of succession planning in the government context
1.      For Group ‘A’ officers, ‘potential leaders’ to be identified early and assigned an in-service mentor for grooming. List of such potential leaders to be reviewed periodically and weeded out. Incentives for high performers.
2.      For ‘Promotee’ cadre: Similar grooming as per age and capability.
Employee Relations
Organisational climate and culture dictated by the whims and fancies of top leadership
1.      Greater sense of belonging to be inculcated in all employees through departmental ‘Family Day’, Children’s competitions (for all children irrespective of rank or position of the parent)
         ‘Innovative thinking’ by employees to be encouraged through ACR.
Retirement and Exit
Limited choice of Pension Fund Managers
1.      Employees to be given wider choice of Pension Fund Managers
2.      Greater flexibility on choice of Annuity schemes
Impact of OROP for the defence services
To be studied for applicability to the civil services.

Special thanks go to MCR HRD Institute Hyderabad for providing the platform for such an stimulating exercise and all the participants for making it an enriching experience.

So, remember 'learning by doing' is more effective as compared with lectures, presentations, films etc. In real life, we can find better solutions by working together.

Thanks for browsing,

    Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 15th Nov 2015

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

HRM Functions in Government

I had the privilege to conduct a workshop on 'HRM Functions in Government' for officer trainees from IPS, IFoS, IRS, IPoS and other allied services. More than 100 civil service officers  who had two to four years experience, participated.

To make the learning experiential, we conducted a team workout. Each team had to discuss one assigned function of HRM as relevant to government set up, in detail. They had to then assess the pros and cons of existing HRM processes and mechanisms and suggest one improvement/change to make it more effective.

Copy of lecture slides is given below. The participants could access it on-line while doing the workout. Total of ten teams worked simultaneously.

Hope it added to your learning at the Foundation Course.

Thanks for browsing.

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 12th Nov 2015

Monday, 9 November 2015

Happy Diwali 2015

Here is wishing all of you a very happy Diwali.
May it add sparkle to your life.

We had appealed to one and all not to burst crackers. We are thankful to all of you who supported us. We also kept our word and did not burst any crackers at home.
We however went to our club for a sparklers show in an open ground. No noise pollution.

Here is one picture taken on long exposure using a monopod. See the dramatic effect of sparklers falling from the sky. May the coming year be as sparkling.

Happy Diwali once again.

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 9th Nov 2015

Friday, 6 November 2015

Just say No to Crackers

Diwali दिवाली or दीपावली signifies the victory of good over evil and return of Lord Rama from exile. It is time for celebration. But should a celebration lead to air and noise pollution, litter on the streets and fire accidents? Should it scare and traumatise our infants and pets? How can we prevent it?

Ghumakkad recalls 1997 while he was posted in Delhi, pollution levels during Diwali were so high that one had difficulty in breathing. A campaign was launched through school children to urge their parents not to burst crackers. All schools whether government, municipal, private or public schools-- whole heartedly participated. The result was unbelievable. Delhi remained noiseless and pollution-free that Diwali. The drive continued in the next year. And Diwali was a real celebration! Credit goes to the team that did it and all the children who participated.

Another Diwali is here. We shudder to think of the pollution and noise besides trauma for the infants and the pets. Let us individually try and reduce the pollution by not bursting crackers. Instead let us light up earthen ware 'diyas' दिया  which are eco friendly.

Another suggestion- this Diwali burst your egos instead of crackers. The graphics is courtesy the DNA.

So light up your homes and hearts and say no to crackers! If you have to, do it collectively in an open ground so that the pets and infants are not harmed. Many residential enclaves and apartment complexes do it this way. So, Ghumakkad's humble message to you is "Just say no to firecrackers".

Happy Diwali!

    Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 6th Nov 2015

PS-1: The trigger for this post came from Peter Woodman, a fellow animal lover. Thanks Peter.

Postscript: 28th Oct 2016: Since the message and the appeal continue to be valid, Ghumakkad thought it best to repost it. First picture has been added today on the eve of Diwali-2016. Happy Diwali to all. Say no to firecrackers please.