Friday, December 11, 2009

Humara Bajaj...!!

This is NOT written by me! But wanted to cherish it, hence posting it. Will appreciate your thoughts on the same. However, somehow it could be prudent business decision (i dont know..!), but I am extremely unhappy about the idea of phasing out the legendary, the iconic, the fabulous - "Humara Bajaj"!! (I never had one..!)
Anyways, read on..!

The End of an Era..!

The demise of Bajaj scooter represents a passing of not only an era, but a consciousness. Nothing captured the complex reality of existence in Middle India better than this hybrid creature that offered mobility and convenience, albeit grudgingly.

If the Indian middle class man were to be reborn as a product, chances are it would be as the Bajaj scooter. Squat, a belly going to pot, wearing a grey safari suit, undistinguished, but resourceful. With a wife perched uncomfortably at the back, Gudiya squeezed between the two and Cheeku standing up front. No product came close to capturing the essence of middle class India as well as the Bajaj scooter. For decades, the scooter was both literally and metaphorically at the heart of the Indian middle class consciousness, imparting its own unique flavour to how we lived our lives.

The scooter carried with it an aura of safety (over its macho cousin the motorcycle) that its engineering does not quite merit.

Its smaller wheel size actually made it a less stable vehicle than the motorcycle, but the air of safety that it so convincingly carried had to more to do with images that surrounded it. It had a stepney, which provided a welcome safety net on independent-minded Indian roads. It had space to squeeze in a full family, a place to carry vegetables, a dickey to store sundry needs of the family- in short, it seemed safe because it catered to the all those stable, worldly things that made a man a ‘responsible’ person.

Most importantly, the scooter hid the machine from view. Unlike the bike which revels in displaying its muscular architecture, the scooter covered up the beast within with rotund blandness. The rounded soft shape of the scooter helped it be seen as a domesticated beast of burden, anonymously performing the duties asked of it.

Overall, the scooter was middle class and safe because it went out of its way to advertise its lack of masculine ambition; it wore its unprepossessing modesty on its sleeve, by eschewing any heroics.

This was evident in the manner in which the scooter negotiated the road. If the bike saw the road as a woman to make love to, the scooter preferred instead to haggle with her. The bike hugs the curves of the road, melting the rider onto the tar; the scooter maintained an awkward distance, unconvinced that continuous mobility is a natural human condition.

If the bike purrs, the scooter stammers; where the bike is a gushing river, the scooter a spluttering tap ;if the bike an untamed stallion, the scooter a recalcitrant mule. The bike pillion rider fuses into the driver- dropping a girl home on a bike is a rake’s pleasure, on a scooter a ‘cousin brother’s’ duty.

If John Abraham is the poster boy for bikes, Amol Palekar on his way to the ration shop is the abiding scooter role model. ‘Heroes’ on bikes wear bubble helmets and boots, on scooters they chew paan and give signals with their feet.

The scooter celebrates the functionality of motorised mobility, not its recreational energy. At a time when we coped with scarcity with heartbreaking dignity, the Bajaj scooter was our imperfect solution.

It needed to be kicked incessantly, first aggressively and then pleadingly, at times it needed to be tilted at an impossible angle for the fuel to start flowing and its spark plugs needed more cleaning than Bihar politics, but it blended in perfectly with how we lived and what we believed in.

Restrained, repressed, modest, versatile in an unassuming way, the scooter spoke for us and our way of life like nothing else. No wonder the Hamara Bajaj campaign rung so true- for once advertising made us look into a mirror and told us a truth we all recognised.

With the Bajaj scooter gone, we have lost a vital part of our connection with our sense of our own middleclass-ness. It is not just Hamara Bajaj that is gone, but a reference point to our idealized way of life that is no more.


Sunday, November 22, 2009


Planet earth is on the path of rejuvenation after the battering effect of the sub-prime crisis; a type of recession which hit the world and badly affected the fundamentals!
The time tested theory of Darwin –‘survival of fittest’ – again held good and only the fit companies survived the storm.

General tendency is to react to the ever changing environment. However, being reactive will be less helpful than being responsive. If any company which is stock rich and fat (instead of being fit), it losses the ability of responding and in turn compulsorily has to react to the changing markets. This dynamic behavior can be attributed to the amount of stocks lying in the supply chain.

Essential point to appreciate here is that companies don’t compete but the supply chains do. Higher the amount of inventory in the supply chain, lesser responsive the companies are. In turn, such situations led to the downfall of the companies during the tough times of recession which called for immediate change in the prices and orders which inevitably forced the companies to alter the manufacturing and supply chain practices.

Those companies which managed to adapt to the change survived. Operational Excellence (OE) / LEAN is the foundation for Business Excellence (BE). OE ensures the basic stability of the working where the health of machines, continuous flow of material, short throughput time and excellent quality ratio are the parameters that determine the competitiveness of the organization as well as decide customer satisfaction. Needless to say, customer is king and it is essential to heighten his/ her satisfaction levels to delight stage to survive in the market.

The strategic parking position of the inventory decides the responsiveness of the supply chain. Now, to maintain optimum inventory at the upstream levels is the key. If the inventory is upstream that is at the raw material form (towards supplier end) is good. Best would be just in time! Concepts of producing to takt time (customer demand rate) and shortest throughput times (time to manufacture) are not mere concepts there but real requirement.

Readers will appreciate that concept of JIT is very glitzy. However, to reach the stage of Leanness, parameters quoted earlier should be considered. And one can reach this destination of LEAN by a structured program for continuous improvement. It is known by different names; some call it TPS (Toyota Production System), others WCM (World Class Manufacturing), some call it KAIZEN – all world class companies have different names for the structure. But as it is said, ‘All roads lead to Rome.’ All systems lead to one destination of world class performance.

And, at the cost of repetition, I would like to mention that world class performance was necessary just to survive the storm of the situation. Many organizations resorted to cost cutting initiatives and in turn cut the muscles and not the waste. What we intend to say is rather than attacking the muscles, one should hit the fat – the waste in the system by cost management and not cost cutting.

Identification of bad actors quickly is important and cost – benefit and time – benefit analysis of the problem solution holds key. One should start from the low hanging fruits and keep moving towards tougher targets. Now is not the time to get lost in semantics, one has to identify where the value is lost, identifying their causes and rapidly acting to fix them. Problem solving capability at all levels is vital for the above mentioned points. If we relate this further to the culture of the organization, it should be conducive to highlight problems which lead to improving the current situation.

Hence, the fundamental principles of operational excellence program, as mentioned below, should be adhered to.

i. Process & Results: Focus on processes along with results, instead of results only approach, if the processes are right then results will follow automatically!
ii. Total Systems: Entire value stream should be considered vis – a – vis local island of excellence.
iii. No Blaming: Organizational culture should nurture open environment which enables the value builder to highlight the problem without any fear. Employee empowerment leads to a situation that every new problem identified is celebrated.

To conclude this article, I would like to quote Benjamin Franklin. As he rightly said “Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship!” So, watch out for waste and sail smoothly even in stormy weather.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do you think like I do?

What I want to do – spend time in the country side learning farming, set up a shack by the beach and watch the sunset, drive a powerful 4X4 to the topmost terrain, open up a restaurant chain and venture into expanding pass time options for the crowds, train to be a professional golfer, or just continue doing what I do best, procrastinate and STAY CONFUSED!!

Whether I believe in HIS existence and HIS strange ways of dealing with us!

Why do we live in the past? I think it’s we who determine for how long it should live.

When shall I get that next opportunity to play one of my most favorite sports since childhood – cricket! Feel the willow in my hand and the exhilaration in my being.

Should we believe what we desire to believe or what is the fact in front of us?

Does the universe really conspire to make you achieve what you strongly aspire for or does it keep you yearning for more happiness and more happiness till it seems there is nothing left but to drown in that feeling?

How to reach a situation when the opposite person understands the point without having to say it every time?

Is this is it?

When this entire muddle shall end?
I am sure it will dawn into a new day; very soon..!

Do you often think like I do?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


As it unfolds, one discovers lot of answers and further more questions.. It goes on as the show continues.. Countless complications..!

Is it the same with all? Have you ever felt the need of being present at two places at the same time? I am sure all of us would have felt that if we can go back in time and change/ repair a few things. But have you felt you are better off if you are surrounded by the crowd or have you felt the chaos is transient? Or do you remember last time you took a minute off your busy calendar to observe the setting sun? (Even I doubt even if you had time on hands, you would be thinking of other petty issues which could have been resolved with lesser resources. Pardon me for my technical language; I am getting involved more and more in the business of Change Management and Resource Optimization.) This is just a reflection of my roving thoughts, as it was on Sunday evening. (Remember, Post 1: Sunday eves are most chaotic.)

Anyways, these questions and thousand more would never end. Last weekend, it so happened, that I squeezed out some time in Baroda. Tried to visit few of the old places, or rather places which rang a bell of good ol’ times. Although, I couldn’t pay tribute to all the places, excuses being lack of time or in fact companion. I strongly feel, people who are familiar with the places would appreciate my point in quoting them here. The moment I mention, Mahakali sev usal, I am sure your taste buds will turn on and trigger the urge to have it. To add to it, I had the famous ‘chutney bun samosa’ at BHS as my breakfast. Reminds me of our school days and much awaited break (recess) times. However, I missed out on the ‘pearl vada pavs, kachoris from pyarelal’, etc. May be next time! Hann, but, I relished omlette at Raju Omlette centre (I think our fauji ka outlet doesn’t exist anymore) and also had the famous mix plate (bhel puri – sev puri). The mix plates have a special place ‘cos it has reminisce of the tough grade 10 & 12 times, where we used to sneak out and relax at the sides of Sursagar. I will not continue as the list is limitless. I will end this string with feel of dairy den – the chaos is immaculate.. (I can’t understand why am I fascinated by chaos. That is another point to ponder!)

Okay, so the purpose of this post was to capture my random thoughts. However futile it may be, trying is the key. Its like one has to keep trying without much worrying about the results. Results will come if the efforts are put it the correct direction. That very much defines the difference between effective and efficient!

I know it is very confusing and apologize for the perplexing post. I will post more, later. (When I am sane!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is the grass really green?

No no, I am not talking about African savanna grass! Neither am I comparing Indus valley pastures with those of Nile.

This note is on all the aspirants with towering dreams as regards to their careers and life. (Refer: Bechara Youngistan). As discussed with my able friend, Mr. Pandya, I am putting down my thoughts below.

Let me put it this way. Broadly, one can categorize people into two varieties. Ones who are less ambitious and are content with low profile roles with lesser responsibilities. Per my knowledge, this scene is very much common in European countries. However, for country like ours which is still in growth phase, the population is more ambitious. The young go-getters are available in dozens in almost all nook and corners of the country. These people make up the discontented crowd, can be one of us, which I am referring to. However, one can’t call it greed. I would go to the extent that most of the youngistan, (I am taking liberty of all such aspirants as youngistan, as they are still into active phase of growing and still feel there is lot to achieve), will struggle with the so called organizations to create a mutual symbiotic growth relationship. Further to it, as the legendary Mr. Narayan Murthy shares his secret of success, is that he created lot of millionaires to reach into list of billionaires. Its like ‘you grow, I grow’.

Okay. Lets go back to the basics and try to explore few unanswerable questions. What as per you is dream job? For some it is as simple as what you like doing, for others it is doing what they are passionate about, which inspires them. Many sum it up as there is nothing like dream job. Its an illusion. I partly agree. It is a fantasy. This has strong connection with how one lives his/ her life. How prolific and abundant ones’ life is!

The next big related question is to explore life. (It may sound bit philosophical, but I feel it is connected somehow) It is the most fascinating and illusive journey. Buddhism says it is to create value every day. Value is a subjective term and can be discussed at stretch. Even Rhonda Byrne’s Secret unveils the same thoughts. For some its strategically estimate and plan the future phases, rest believe in the moment, enjoying the current. One friend of mine strongly advocates that it is the daily questions we answer, problems we solve; which is what is called life.

The motive behind this side note is that whatever of the above you believe/ practice, wherever you might be – may it be the best employer or a small closely knit organization, may it be a cosmopolitan like Mumbai or some rural country side. One will continue to stay miserable and unhappy with the work he does, till he keeps on complaining/ whining. I am not going to get into preaching and all. Neither I am going to give motivational capsule. For I am as perplexed as you are! I am also unable to figure out, that is the grass really green on the other side?

Even I am unable to demystify the question as off now. Hope to resolve it at the earliest.The name of the post reads: ‘When I Speak to Myself’. Its pure reflection of my thoughts and readers may have different opinions. Will appreciate your inputs.

PS: I understand it looks complicated, but it really is!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What Makes a City Lively?

Today, in midst of confusion, we were having a chuski of chai at Amdavadi ‘kitlee’. And suddenly both of us were startled by a loud honk by a rowdy young biker. The normal human tendency is to curse the biker and complaint about the traffic sense in India. And this made, my friend Pandya Saheb, that’s what people call him, spark this discussion on traffic sense and he very rightly pointed out the huge rift in the traffic sense of Nairobi & Ahmedabad. (It is an apt illustration for us as we frequently visit this African city.)

Although, being a third world city, Nairobi traffic is very silent and more disciplined which follows sensible lane driving. (No doubt things are changing and even, Nairobi is joining the Indian ishtyle bandwagon.)

As opposed to calm & serene traffic in Nairobi, where people honk to abuse or alarm a sleepy driver, our Indian city of Ahmedabad, is very much lively and bustling with various kinds of sounds – some shrill and others sharper than the shrillest.

It echoes countless hidden messages behind it. In true democratic sense, people utilize the right to express.. Just imagine a man, who is a slave to boss at work & slave to wife at home, after a long hectic day is riding back on his lovely two wheeler, humming his favorite track from his college days with his whistle & his horn to accompany his lonely song on a clear four lane track. Anyone would feel happy and enjoy the nostalgic mood. Why should one bother about the decibels as if it’s going to end the world..!!

I call it freedom to express self. Different kinds of horns; college students to grey haired uncles - all very correctly utilizing the expressive technology. Also, needless to say, it avoids so many accidents!!

The next point that would be raised is Lane Driving. I am very sure you will appreciate the urge of our Ahmedabadi driver to reach his/ her destination at the earliest convenience. Humans are very responsible and should care about own convenience first. The Ahmedabadi driving culture truly respects this fact and all people mutually understand the opposite driver’s feeling. Why to worry about lanes if we have enough room to find different ways. Where there is a wheel, we will find out the way.

This reminds me of a new ad campaign of Airtel which says – ‘Impatient Ones’. It truly captures the spirit of real India. The guy honking behind you at a traffic light which has regrettably turned red (before you cross the signal) is very politely reminding you that orange light means to speed up & not to slow down. He is true citizen of Incredible India who wants to save on fuel & asks you to move on..

Where in world will you get pleasure of violating the signals & traffic rules without worrying about the tickets? People have to travel across the globe to have the privilege of driving without any traffic rules & regulations. This is very peculiar habit of our own NRGs (Non Resident Gujaratis) to follow any & every damn rule abroad but same NRG goes bananas in his own motherland.

How few of those creatures called ‘tholas’ can manage thousands of berserk guys like us. They are busy reminding you of missing helmet, various documents and finally remind your moral duty to pay him for his chai-pani. Why should we pay fines when we have so many taxes to care for.. Chai-pani helps improve economic stability of the country by maintaining continual money circulation.

Just to gently share with you that cops are same every where (From Nairobi to Ahmedabad). However, some like those in Nairobi at least apply their genius brains and try to supersede the logic of traffic lights and generously contribute to add more traffic jams through out the city. Making it a dull city..!!

Cutting it short, I would say - When in Rome, Do As the Romans Do....!!

Off the records,
Despite, above remarks, I do sincerely follow traffic rules & don't believe in honking. I strongly feel its people like you & me who are responsible and

Would like to quote one of our TV anchors,

"इसी उम्मीद पर के हमारा आने वाला कल, हमारे आज से बाहेतर होगा.. आप से इजाज़त चाहेंगे!!"

Jai Ho..!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

You Better Be Running..

Every morning a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive.

Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve.

It doesn't matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.

- Roger Bannister