This is the time corporates should focus on wellness of their employees!


Many times, we grapple with our work so intensely that we forget what’s it that actually allows us to work at optimum levels. Corporates, government offices, educational institutes and not for profits, all are quite concerned about increasing the efficiency and productivity of their teams. Doing so without paying much attention to the fact that wellness of the employees is the single factor which drastically affects their productivity is of no help. 

Through Baithak Foundation, we consistently conduct de-stressing and mindfulness sessions for corporates, which include manufacturing and software companies, educational institutes and not for profits. Titled as Naad Yoga, these sessions are aimed at introducing the healing and de-stressing power of Indian Music to the participants.     

As we conduct more and more sessions, we realise that if companies do not give due attention to the healths of their employees now, the situation might just go out of hands. 

For those who think I am exaggerating the things, here are some observations: In most of the companies, after sitting down for 7 -8 minutes, the participants become uneasy; a clear indication of poor upper and lower body strength and weak respiratory system and blood circulation. Almost all the participants are constantly shallow breathing. Many of the individuals are just unable to sing in their natural voices and indicator of constant fear of being judged. The attention spans are coming down too fast. In any weather or season, a third of the lot is suffering from cold and cough. Most of the participants look pale or sleep deprived or under immense stress. 

As the age old wisdom goes, a healthy mind is cultivated in a healthy body. Lately, we have been taught to look at our body as a magic-machine; capable of running at optimum levels in spite of being abused consistently. On the contrary, our body is like an asset, which like any other asset, needs proper maintenance, care and rest. Same is the case with our mind which is constantly abused by unwarranted stimuli. Yet, we hardly do any activity (or remain without any action) so that the mind is rejuvenated. Imagine, you are expecting your axe to cut more without sharpening it. Eventually, you will need more force and rigour to cut same amount of wood with the blunt axe. The higher force will further damage the axe and also your body. Also, the quality of wood that is chopped will go down. The most simple solution to the problem is, dedicate some time to sharpen the axe. This sounds so logical then why we do not we apply this wisdom to our body and mind? Why we just keep stretching them? Why cannot we ensure that we spend some time, even ten minutes a day, for wellbeing of our mind and body? 

Music practice can directly impact the wellness and hence the productivities of the individuals in multiple ways. 

First of all, music practice can significantly improve the breathing of the practitioner, positively impacting the overall wellness, mindfulness and energy levels. Music automatically makes us take deep breaths and prolong our exhales. This tends to push participants in the parasympathetic mode of nervous system. 

A large number of studies point out that singing calls for coordination between a large number of centres in our brain. Practising music regularly can have measurable impact on memory function, creativity, attention spans and many other  pointers which not only improve the wellness of the practitioner but helps him or her to do in a better way whatever they do.  

Music practice is a superb way of enhancing one’s emotional quotient. Singing and learning music can help enhance the understanding of situations, scenarios and people and their mindsets. Music is also a great medium of expression. It makes one sensitive of his or her own emotions, thereby enabling to better understand emotions of others. 

Listing even proven benefits of music practice will make this article very long. The point is, many times, the solution to most pressing of our problems is not difficult or costly to implement. Most of the times, it is so easily available that we tend to neglect it. A fifteen minutes music practice, when done consistently can result in long term benefits. As we are providing this experience to larger number of companies, we see increasing awareness and willingness to practice and learn music. 

Do get in touch with me if you would like to organise one such session at your workplace. 

संत साहित्याच्यी कालाबाधितता


काल मला आणि दाक्षायणीला पुण्यातील वाडिया महाविद्यालयाच्या वाणिज्य शाखेच्या विद्यार्थ्यांनी ‘संत साहित्य – एक साठवण’ या विषयावर संवाद साधण्यासाठी बोलावले होते. थोडं बोलणं आणि थोडं गाणं असं कार्यक्रमाचं स्वरूप होतं. आजच्या काळातही संत साहित्य ताजं आणि उपयुक्त का आहे? या विषयावर तुम्ही नक्की बोला असं त्यांच्या प्राध्यापकांनी सुचविलं.

संत साहित्य कालातीत का आहे? याला अनेक कारणे आहेत आणि यातील सर्वांत महत्वाचे कारण म्हणजे संत साहित्यातील ‘फॉर्म’ आणि ‘फंक्शन’ यांचे संतुलन. फंक्शन म्हणजे ते मुख्य काम जे करण्यासाठी एखादी गोष्ट बनविण्यात आले आहे. उदाहरणार्थ, अंग झाकणे आणि प्रतिकूल पर्यावरणापासून संरक्षण करणे हे कपड्यांचे फंक्शन. फॉर्म म्हणजे त्या वस्तूचे दार्शनिक रूप. कपड्यावरील चित्र, जरी, नक्षी म्हणजे फॉर्म.

संत साहित्यात ‘फॉर्म’ हा अगदी गरजेएवढा आणि नेटका असतो. संतांना जे सार सांगायचे आहे, ते सार स्पष्टपणे श्रोत्यांपर्यंत पोहोचविण्यासाठी आवश्यक तेवढाच तो असतो. त्यात गरज नसताना अलंकार वापरले नाही आहेत. गम्मत अशी, जशा लोकांच्या आवडी बदलत जातात, तसा त्यांना आवडणारा फॉर्म बदलत जातो. २० वर्षांपूर्वीची चित्रपटाची गाणी आजच्या पिढीला आवडत नाहीत. यामागचे कारण फार सोपे आहे. त्यांचा फॉर्म आजच्या पिढीला जो फॉर्म आवडतो त्यापेक्षा फार वेगळा आहे. संतांनी त्यांच्या वाणीत लोकांना ‘खेचण्यासाठी’ फॉर्म चा वापर नाही केला. त्यातील सार हे फार उच्च दर्जाचे आहे आणि म्हणून ते कालातीत आहे. अनेक लेखक, कवी हे त्यांच्या काळातील समाजाला रुचेल किंवा आकर्षित करेल असे लिहितात. संतांनी अतिशय सध्या आणि परखड भाषेत सत्य लोकांसमोर मांडलं.

आपण कितीही उत्क्रांत झालो असलो, तरीदेखील हा ओंगळपणा तसाच आहे आणि संत साहित्य नेमके त्या ओंगळपणावर बोट ठेवते.

आपण सर्वच मानवाच्या उत्क्रांतीबद्दल जाणतोच. परंतु जे. कृष्णमुर्ती याबाबतीत फार सुंदर बोलायचे. ते म्हणायचे, कि उत्क्रांती हि फक्त शरीराची आणि बाह्य गोष्टींची झाली आहे. आपल्या मनातील हिंसा, राग, भावना इत्यादी शेकडो वर्षांपूर्वी होत्या तशाच आजही आहेत. दोनशे वर्षांपूर्वी माणूस प्रसिद्धीसाठी जितका हपापलेला होता, तेवढाच आज देखील आहे. संत साहित्य काळाच्या बदलापासून अबाधित आहे कारण कि ते या मूळ मानवी मनावर आणि त्यातील ओंगळपणावर भाष्य करते. आपण कितीही उत्क्रांत झालो असलो, तरीदेखील हा ओंगळपणा तसाच आहे आणि संत साहित्य नेमके त्या ओंगळपणावर बोट ठेवते.

आपण कितीही झाकायचा प्रयत्न केला, तरीदेखील आपल्यातील कोतेपणा आणि त्यामुळे आपल्याला आणि आपल्या आजू-बाजूच्यांना होणारा त्रास आपण उघड डोळ्यांनी बघत असतो, त्यापासून मुक्त होण्याचा प्रयत्न करत असतो. संत साहित्य हा त्या दिशेत मार्गक्रमण करण्यासाठी एक आश्वासक मदतीचा हात म्हणून उभे राहते. हेच त्याच्या कालातीततेचे रहस्य.

अतुल पेठेंची ‘किमया’

आपण स्वतःहूनच ओढवून घेतलेली पण आपल्याला अजिबात न सोसवणारी आयुष्याची गती; आयुष्यात सतत अजून काहीतरी मिळवायचे आहे हे वेड, आयुष्याच्या परिपूर्णतेबद्दल असलेल्या किंबहुना लादलेल्या किंवा उसन्या घेतलेल्या मृत संकल्पना; या व अशा अनेक कारणांनी आपण आपले आयुष्य गचाळ आणि गलिच्छ करत चाललो आहोत. या सर्व गदारोळात ‘घर’ या संकल्पनेला किती महत्त्व उरणार? काचेच्या निर्जीव खिडक्यांनी बनलेल्या आणि एक तुसडेपणा निर्माण करणाऱ्या, गारठवणाऱ्या वातानुकूलित ऑफिसात अर्ध्याहून अधिक दिवस घालविल्यानंर घराबद्दल, त्यातल्या रंगसंगती आणि रेषांबद्दल, त्यात विराजमान झालेल्या अवकाशाबद्दल कोण विचार करणार? 

घर हे केवळ चार भिंती नसून तो आपल्याला स्वतः बाहेरील व स्वतःतील अपरिमित अवकाशाशी जोडणारा दुवा आहे हा साक्षात्कार केवळ एका तासात घडविण्याची ‘किमया’ अतुल पेठेंनी केली. निमित्त होते प्रसिद्ध स्थापत्यकार माधव आचवल लिखित ‘किमया’ या पुस्तकाच्या अभिवाचनाचे. संकल्पना होती ज्येष्ठ नाटककार अतुल पेठे व सोलापूरचे अनुभवी स्थापत्यकार अमोल चाफळकर यांची. सादरकर्ते अतुल पेठे! अतिशय नव्या धाटणीच्या या प्रयोगाचे स्थळ होते अनुपमा कुंडू या अतिशय सिद्धहस्त स्थापत्यकर्तीने साकारलेले संवेदनशील चित्रपट दिग्दर्शक क्रांती कानडे यांचे घर. ज्याला आपण नेहमी दुय्यम लेखतो ते चार भिंतींचे घर आपल्याला, आपल्या भावविश्वाला किती हळुवारपणे स्पर्श करते याची जाणीव घराच्या अंगणात पाय ठेवताच झाली. मन्सूरांच्या गाण्याने स्वतःची एक वेगळी ‘स्पेस’ निर्माण केली होती. बघता बघता दिवाणखाना पूर्ण भरला. ठीक वेळेवर प्रयोगाला सुरुवात झाली. 

पहिल्या काही क्षणांतच आचवलांचे एखाद्या चित्रकाराच्या लयबद्ध रेषांसारखे शब्द, पुस्तकातील मृत शब्दांना पुन्हा जिवंत करून संप्रेरित करणारे अतुल पेठेंचे वाचन आणि कोणाही व्यक्तीला आपल्या पोटात घेऊन लगेच आपलेसे करणारे क्रांती कानडे यांचे ‘घर’ – या तिघांनी मिळून आम्हा श्रोत्यांच्या बोथट झालेल्या संवेदनांची कलेवर आमच्या समोर टांगली. खरंच की – आपण किती यंत्रासारखं आयुष्य जगतो; घरांचे आकार, त्यांची मांडणी, त्यांना कुशीत घेणारी आजूबाजूची झाडे, घरांचे रंग, त्यांचे सभोवतालच्या निसर्गातील रंगांशी होणारे संवाद, खिडक्या, पुढील गवतावर खेळणारे सूर्यकिरण आणि ते पाहतांना घराच्या चेहऱ्यावर पडलेला समाधानाचा सोनेरी प्रकाश; आपण ज्यांना निर्जीव समजतो ती सर्व घरं जिवंत असून फक्त आपणच निर्जीव आहोत हे उमगलं. फार कमी प्रयोगांतून साक्षात्कार होतो. किमया हा त्यातला एक.      

थोडक्यात, आपली घरं हि आपल्या ‘मी’ ची प्रतिबिंब आहेत. किमयाचा प्रयोग अनुभवून घरी आल्यावर केवळ माझे घर बघून मी स्वतःबद्दल खूप काही शिकलो. घराच्या भिंती, त्यांचे रंग, टापटीप किंवा अस्ताव्यस्तपणा; सर्व काही मला माझ्याबद्दल खूप काही सांगून गेले. 

आपल्या सर्वांच्या आयुष्यात एखादा मंच असतोच. वक्त्याचा मंच म्हणजे तो जिथे व्यक्त होणार ते सभागृह; गायकाचा मंच म्हणजे तो ज्या ठिकाणी गाणे सादर करतो ती जागा; किंवा शिल्पकाराच्या मंच म्हणजे त्याचे शिल्प ज्या ठिकाणी विराजमान होणार ते स्थळ. परंतु आपण सपशेलपणे विसरतो कि वरील सर्व मंच हे व्यक्त होण्याचे आहेत आणि आपल्या सर्वांचा सृजनाचा मंच म्हणजे आपले घर. नाटकाच्या स्टेजवर कागदाचा एक चिटोरा देखील आपण खपवून घेत नाही पण घरात मात्र कपडे, पुस्तके, सामान, कागदपत्रे, जाळी-झळमट, सारे काही आलबेल. अलगदपणे श्रोत्याला पुरते कळून चुकते कि आपण आपल्याला सामावून घेणाऱ्या आपल्याच घरावर आणि आपल्या वस्तूंवर किती अन्याय करत आलो आहोत. 

स्थापत्यशात्रातील काही किचकट संकल्पना या अभिवाचनातून फार सोप्या आणि जिवंत पद्धतीने उलगडल्या गेल्या. अशीच एक संकल्पना म्हणजे अवकाश, किंवा स्पेस. किंबहुना घर या संकल्पनेचा उगमच अवकाशाच्या संकल्पनेतून झाला असावा. नाही म्हंटले तरी आपण सर्वच ‘मी’ च्या जाणिवेने ओतप्रोत भरले आहोत. आपला हा तोकडा ‘मी’ अपरिमित अवकाशात कसा जगणार? म्हणून मग छोटी अथवा मोठी घरं. थोडक्यात, आपली घरं हि आपल्या ‘मी’ ची प्रतिबिंब आहेत. किमयाचा प्रयोग अनुभवून घरी आल्यावर केवळ माझे घर बघून मी स्वतःबद्दल खूप काही शिकलो. घराच्या भिंती, त्यांचे रंग, टापटीप किंवा अस्ताव्यस्तपणा; सर्व काही मला माझ्याबद्दल खूप काही सांगून गेले.     

    बिंदू, रेषा, अवकाश, प्रकाश, बाग, जलस्रोत अशा अनेक घटकांनी वास्तू साकारते. आणि हा प्रत्येक घटक म्हणजे जणू काही एक शास्त्र. रेषा एकत्र येऊन अवकाशाचा एक छोटा तुकडा कसा कापून वेगळा करतात हे एक शास्त्रच आहे. किंवा आचवलांनी पुस्तकात नमूद केल्याप्रमाणे वास्तूच्या सभोवतीचे जलस्रोत तिला कसे एक प्रकारचा हलकेपणा आणि गतिमानपणा देतात; हे देखील एक शास्त्रच. विविध वस्तूंचे आणि घटकांचे योग्य परिमाण साधणं; हे देखील एक शास्त्रच आहे की! किमया अशा नानाविध शास्त्रांना उकलते आणि त्या किचकट शास्त्राचे रूपांतर कोणी अनुभवू अथवा जाणून घेऊ शकेल अशा एका बोलक्या भावनेत करते. 

किमया चा एक तास घरात नाही मावणार इतकी श्रीमंती देऊन गेला. खरंच, स्थापत्यशास्त्रातून येणारी संवेदनशीलता आणि श्रीमंती हि घरात न मावणारी आहे. घराच्या दार-खिडक्यांतून बाहेर येऊन ती बाग आणि अंगण इथपर्यंतच न थांबता रस्ते, आजूबाजूच्या वस्त्या, नद्या, असा विस्तृत प्रवास करत प्रसरण पावते. आपण संपूर्ण अवकाशाचे आणि त्यातील सर्वच घटकांचे खूप मोठे गुन्हेगार आहोत हि जाणीव पाण्यात बनणाऱ्या बर्फासारखी आपल्या आत स्थिरावते.  

एक प्रयोग म्हणून ‘किमया’त अनेक बाबींचा सखोल विचार झाला आहे. प्रयोगासाठी घरांची निवड फार काळजीपूर्वक केली जाते. प्रत्यक्ष प्रयोगाची तयारी सुरु होण्याच्या आधीपासूनच अतुल पेठे व त्यांचा संच वास्तू समजून घेतात, तिच्याशी संवाद साधतात. प्रयोगातील प्रकाशयोजना समर्पक असून नरेंद्र भिडे यांनी केलेले संगीत नियोजन नेटके व साजेसे आहे. वाचनातील निरनिराळ्या संकल्पना उलगडण्यासाठी केला गेलेला ‘प्रॉप्स’ चा वापर फार विचारपूर्वक करण्यात आला आहे. अनेक तरुणांनी हा प्रयोग साकारण्यास हातभार तर लावलाच आहे त्याचबरोबर प्रयोगादरम्यान देखील अनेक मदतीचे हात शांतपणे कार्यरत असतात.

‘किमया’ चे खरे यश कशात आहे? माझ्या मते, एका व्यक्तीला तिच्या घराबद्दल संवेदनशील करण्याच्या या प्रयोगाच्या अफाट ताकदीत त्याचे यश आहे. आज शहरे, त्यांचे नियोजन, रस्ते, वाहतूक, गावांना मिठी मारणारा भीतीदायक गलिच्छपणा, नाले झालेल्या नद्या, हे सर्व आपण जाणतोच. माणूस एकदा त्याच्या घराबाबत संवेदनशील झाला, कि त्याचा पुढचा प्रवास आपसूकच सुरु होतो. स्वतःचे घर नेटके करण्याची फुरसत, किंवा ओढ जोपर्यंत एखाद्या व्यक्तीत निर्माण होत नाही, तोपर्यंत तो आर्क्टिकवर वितळणाऱ्या बर्फाबाबत फक्त समाजमाध्यमांवर ‘शेयर’ करण्यापलीकडे काहीच करणार नाही. अगदी सरळ शब्दांत सांगायचे झाले, तर किमया फारच ‘ऍक्शनेबल ‘ आहे. त्यावर लगेच कृती करता येते. ‘किमया’चा एक प्रयोग त्या व्यक्तीला पहिल्या पायरीवर चढवतो- स्वतःच्या घराची. हि एक पायरी चढण्यातला आनंद इतका असीम आहे कि पुढच्या पायऱ्या ती व्यक्ती आपोआप चढणार. किमया हे केवळ एका पुस्तकाचे वाचन नसून ती मानवी संवेदनांची पुनर्मांडणी आहे. किमया व्यक्ती आणि समाजपरिवर्तनाचे चक्र आहे. ते नुकतेच फिरू लागले आहे. गतिमान होण्यास वेळ नाही लागणार!

किमयाचे अधिकाधिक प्रयोग होणं आवश्यक आहे; आपल्या व आपल्या पुढच्या पिढीसाठी आणि समाजाचे धागे टिकवून ठेवण्यासाठी ‘किमया’ एक आशेचा किरण आहे.    

     

The Circles in Life

Many times, it is quite difficult to evaluate the impact of work that you are doing. If one keeps throwing seeds around, the impact won’t be seen the very next day; may be it will take a decade or so to realise that the mere act of sowing seeds has transformed a barren piece of land into an intricate ecosystem.

When we meet someone for the first time and explain them the work that we try to do through Baithak Foundation, the most obvious question that we get is – What is the outcome of organising concerts and workshops in schools? How is it actually going to help the students? How is it going to support the art form?

While exposing kids to music has many immediate benefits like building sensitivity, awareness about culture, imbibing values and discipline, support to young artists etc., could there be any long term benefits as well? Can such trivial exposure to this art form affect the Course of life of a person?

To answer this question, I would like to share two incidents which happened in the last year.

In the year of September, I got a call from a Pune based mid-aged man who wanted to host a Baithak at his house during Ganpati Festival. When we reached the venue, my first question was – What promoted you to host a classical music concert and not DJ or other forms of loud music?

The answer which he gave, was eye opening. When he was a kid, his family was a patron of art and stalwarts like Pt. Ravishankar used to stay at his uncle’s place for days and perform. Though this gentleman did not have any connection with music thereafter, in the later parts of his life, he felt like he was missing this art form and should reconnect with it.

Not only this, being in the profession of audio-video equipment, he also donated a professional recorder to Baithak which we now use to document our work.

The second incident happened in a school. At present, we are working with more than 12 locations in Pune, a mix of construction sites and municipal schools. Principal of one of the schools was quite keen on having our sessions at her school. When we did first concert in her school, we saw that unlike many other schools, she had done an excellent job with entire event organisation – from better publicity of event and student interest to actual on stage arrangements.

After interacting with her, she shared that when she was in college, she used to attend Spicmacay concerts and these concerts had had a deep impact on her and she was very keen to provide same experience to her kids.

Just imagine, a college student who heard Indian Classical Music in her college days and was touched by it, the experience she had is impacting how she provides experience of Indian Classical Music to next generation of students.

We often feel that one can contribute to art only by becoming a donor or a performer. That’s so untrue; there are so many roles in this ecosystem for which we need passionate people! Whenever I see some volunteer taking notes of a concert, with an intention to convert it into a nice piece of documentation, or someone passionately preparing the stage before the concert, I feel thankful that in society, we have so many people who are touched by immense power of this art form and are honestly trying to contribute to the ecosystem in whatever manner they can.

While working, one has to believe in the circular force of life – what you do, will not immediately bounce back on you; it will follow a circular path and will meet you unexpectedly, may be after a few decades!

Being Grateful to Silence

Can I paint if my canvas is shaky? Or can I dance if the ground is not rooted in the stillness? As I closely observe these trees, their bottoms rooted in the darkness of the night, yet their peaks touching the light of the moon and the stars, I realise that this universal silence is the playground on which creativity of existence unfolds relentlessly.

As clouds pass through the sky, all our actions and activities pass through this silence. As clouds are unable to taint the sky, our activities, howsoever loud and violent they might be, can not even touch this eternal silence; disfiguring it is far from reality.

Who is an artist? May be the one, who tries to paint this silence on a piece of paper; or the one who sings so that people hear the silence he or she is hinting at; or probably the dancer, who through his or her postures, makes us aware of the infinite space in which we are born, live and die.

When the canvas or the space in which we survive is at even a slight unrest, creativity is impossible. When artists are madly running behind creativity, is it not wise to halt for a moment and be grateful to this silence- the ultimate benefactor of creativity?

Kabir and Krishnamurti : Drawing Some Parallels

Kabir and the simplicity of his words have always stunned me. So has the intensity of the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti. While reading and singing Kabir with one’s totality, one can experience the truth, suddenly flashing like a thunder in the dark sky filled with clouds. On the other hand, when one completely surrenders to Krishnamurti’s writings and flows with them without holding anything back, one can actually see the movement of the mind. And then comes a moment, when the mind completely stops; and the truth again shines itself up like a thunder in the dark sky.

Kabir shares his experience of truth while Krishnamurti, through his writings, pushes you to it.

Some two years ago, I happened to listen to a Kabir’s Bhajan sung by Pt. Kumar Gandharva : नैय्या मोरी निके निके चालन लागी. The Bhajan compares us to the boatman sailing his boat through the turbulent currents of life. Kumarji’s rendition of this Bhajan is extraordinarily beautiful and I listened to this particular composition dozens of times. I always stumbled upon the last stanza:

कहे कबीरा जो बिन सिर खेंवे, सो यह सुमती बखाने ।

या बहू हित की अकथ कथा है, बिरले खेवट हि जाने ।।

(Kabir says, the one who sails without using his head, becomes available to the wisdom (intelligence). This secret to the wisdom cannot be told by one person to the other; rarely, a sailor will be able to discover it.)

In short, Kabir is talking about a way of life which involves keeping aside one’s ‘head’! I found it very difficult to grasp this line fully. Once again, Kabir had shared a thunder, a pulse of truth which my mind was unable to comprehend.

After few days, while I was reading one of the Krishnamurti’s books, where he was talking about how mind is a result of conditioning, I stumbled upon the following line:

“Any action that has come out of an idea, will lead to sorrow.”

Krishna ji tried so hard to make us realize that we are constantly operating from our mind, which is essentially a collection of memories, which is adding further to our misery. Only a quiet yet alert mind, which seeks nothing, can operate through the intelligence, says Krishna Ji.

What Krishnamurti has shared so elaborately and step by step, hoping that we would not only read his books but will actually observe our minds and the movement of thought, Kabir has revealed that in a single stroke.

Both the saints are pointing in the same direction – where mind sees its own limitation and becomes quiet; to make way for the ‘सुमती’ in Kabir’s words and ‘intelligence’ in Krishnamurti’s words. The containers are different, content is same.

 

 

 

How (some)Startups are Creating a Whole Generation of Disloyal Customers

Startups are good for economy. Startups are good for buyers. Startups are good for everyone in the society. Startups have immense potential of creating local employment and absorbing local talent. Startups also give a lot of business to local small scale vendors. Because of startups, buyers get a wide variety and highly customized product, catering to their part of the ‘long tail’. On the face of it, startups look so, so good. But still, many of the leading startups have changed the consumer mentality in a very harmful way.

Just a decade ago, brands used to sell on loyalty. The consumers or the buyers were loyal to a brand. Not like they never switched to other brand. If any of their trusted brands broke the promises it made, the buyer switched to the other brand. Trust was the parameter driving or ruining the business.

Now have look at the situation today. A typical buyer uses any particular brand till it gives a discount or only till it is running an offer. Once the discount or offer is gone, the buyer finds out the next brand giving similar discounts and the buyer switches. All that money which could go in increasing customer loyalty, is going into making them disloyal through discounts. As a result of this game of discounts, the buyer has become more selfish and disloyal.

Sadly, as a result of using discounts or offers as a strategy for customer acquisition and retention, a startup gets a little bit of success in attracting new users but it fails utterly to get further business. The pool of customers which it initially got, eventually runs to other brands. So many startups died this way in past couple of years.

On the contrary, one can find many brands which work by leveraging the loyalty and are growing slowly but steadily. Unfortunately, though people use Ola, Uber, Groffers or so many other services, they mostly look at them as transactional associates and not as ‘brands’. The guy who uninstalled one particular app last week and installed the other, won’t hesitate a bit to uninstall the later one and install a third app which offers a better discount. And so on…

Any idea where this is going?

 

 

The Current Crisis at Infosys and a Few Words From Kabir

Infosys. This word resonates with a loss of almost INR 22,000 crores for its share holders. A company, which was once talked about for its work culture and for being a great work place, is today being talked about for the turmoil, which reflected into a huge loss to the share holders.

On the surface, there might be many reasons, including the Panaya deal and others which we believe, have led to this chaos; but if one analyses the situation closely, the main reason behind all this chaos is lack of trust or at least a feeling of lack of trust.

The founder share-holder has his own reasons to doubt and disapprove the moves of the CEO. The other board members doubt the founder-share holder’s accusations. The CEO says he is not getting the required support, which simply means he does not trust the board and finally quits.

Kabir says,

पढ़ा सुना सीखा सभी, मिटी ना संशय शूल |

कहे कबीर कैसो कहू, यह सब दुःख का मूल ||

We keep doubting and cannot trust in spite of all the knowledge that we gather.  Kabir says, it pains to explain that confusion is the root of sorrow.

Great technology does not build  great company. Great systems and procedures do not build a great company. Technology, systems and processes and other such things certainly contribute to the growth of a company but great companies are built by great culture and trust is undoubtedly the most important contributor to build a great culture. If one looks at the situation at Infosys, the trust is missing at the apex level.

Corporate world would be so much better if companies focused on culture instead of just profits.

The Brick and the House

Can a house be robust if the bricks that build it are weak?

Yet, everyone is focused on building big structures and no one is concerned about the quality of bricks.

It is quality of each brick which determines the quality of house that is built using them. Yet, we postpone strengthening the bricks. I realized this while I was singing in front of Guruji. From my childhood, I never focused on quality of individual phrases that I used to sing. Instead, I somewhere felt that I can create a nice musical structure by arranging them nicely. Now, I realize the limitation of this thought. Unless each phrase is beautiful, the musical structure cannot go beyond a certain quality.

The same principal applies to everything in our lives. Each statement of an enchanting story has to be enchanting. Each dialogue of a mesmerizing speech has to be mesmerizing. This effort of improving polishing each phrase, each stroke, howsoever small it many be in the overall art piece makes art a meditation.

We are somehow hooked to numbers and magnificence and not enhancing even smallest of the components. That’s what stops us from creating wonderful piece of art. Observe a musical master piece of a great maestro or a wonderful painting to sculpture of any great artist. Every stroke is a master stroke and that’s what makes every the art piece unforgettable.

More or better? The choice is our!

 

Why do writers write? Something to keep in mind while reading stuff online

Suddenly, writing and publishing have become so easy. Writing something and getting it published was so difficult a few decades ago; and look around now – there are writers, bloggers scattered all around us, all striving for getting eyeballs and attention.

As I observe, if you use any social network, you are bound to stumble upon the writings and posts by many of your friends who regularly write something or the other. Most of the times, these people take up some issue and start writing about it. While everyone has freedom to write and express, whatever we read affects is significantly and hence, while reading on social media and web, one has to keep certain things in mind; just to avoid getting carried away with content which might be highly biased and without any basis.

I have created three broad categories of writers on the web and I am sure, next time you stumble upon any of them, you will be able to gauge the hidden agenda and simply walk away.

Writing to exploit the fear of the reader 

It is highly important to understand why the so-called writer has written a particular post. As I see it, most of the times, people write something to exploit the fear of the readers and they use that fear to make them violent. Look at the posts around – the religion based, caste based fights, arguments based on political agendas- they all try to exploit the fear of the readers and make them act as desired in the vulnerable moments. I can see many of my friends madly arguing about happenings about which they know nothing. Such pieces of writing have a single purpose- make people afraid so that they lose their common sense, become violent and propagate the trash further. Try not to be one of them.

The conditional flattery 

The second type of writing that I see commonly on social media stands very close to organized crime – I call it conditional flattery. In this type of content, one person writes a post to praise someone else who in return writes something to return favor. Authors, political figures, artists, spiritual figures and even brands are doing this so commonly. Do not blindly trust a person praising the other person; you do not know the under currents. Do your own scrutiny and then trust.

Writing out of emptiness and frustration

The third type of content comes out of frustration and emptiness. Many of us see our friends writing on some random topics and getting comments and likes. As a result, we also get tempted to write something, even if we do not have anything to share. In some situations, the inner emptiness, the inner urge to be something forces the writer to write, even if he or she has nothing to write. In this case, writers mostly write false and hypocritical  content- they write about a cause they do not believe in, they post some advise which they have never lived or tested. If you believe in such content and act, it is like one blind following the other. Folks also post content which glorifies themselves and their lives and if you have a comparing mind, you are bound to get depressed soon by reading such content.

I personally avoid random reading on any social networks and web. I know what are the causes and issues I truly care about and if I want to keep myself updated, I take out certain amount of time every week or day to update myself. Random reading on web, that too without understanding the hidden agendas of the writers can prove to be disastrous.