Thursday, March 23, 2006

The amazing role of parenting

Today I saw a Tamil movie - "Thavamai Thavamirundu" that was a sentimental movie that highlights the role of parents in our society. While arguing with an eastern european and few americans, I was posed with questions like why do we still want to live with our parents??? I'm amused.. Why should not I love to live with my parents?

Parents are an amazing people in our society. They sacrifice so much so that we can rise. Even if it means herself to go hungry, our moms would never make us hungry. Our dads, who could not cry for a big injury can wince and weep if half-a-dangerous injury occurs to their kids. For many of the parents, the entire life revolves around their children. They take too many pains to get us educated with values. They try to inspire, motivate, teach... and they r the source of most things in our life. But, I feel pain when I see so many kids leaving their parents uncared for. They who had gifted us everything are not given a small inch of our affection.... They who had willing give us even in times of despair are not given anything in our times of prosperity. I vividly recall a thirukural verse,

"EnNanri Konrarkum Uivundam uivillai,
Seynanri konra magarku"

There can be a redemption for any sin, but they who had forgotten to return back the good deeds done by others to them, have no chance of any redemption (excuse my poor recall & translation skills)

More than just helping our parents in return for their favor, the services that we can do for the family gives us a sense of purpose of life. Unlike most people, Indian commoners dont question the purpose of life. They have it ready... When u r a kid ur purpose is to obey ur parents, when ur young u listen to teachers, when u grow up u serve ur kids... and this is the whole purpose of life. It is so simple.... Hinduism doesnt require you any great deed to reach heaven. IF you just do your duties to your immediate family, you can reach highest possible heights. I recally a small story here:

"A great Indian saint once asked GOD who is His greatest devotee. The saint expected the answer to be himself, but the GOD stunned him by saying the name of an obscure women. The saint who was so well versed and scholarly and devoted was astonished and he went to see that women. He was surprized to see a women caring for her husband and when she was drawing water from well, her husband calls and she immediately leaves the bucket and runs and bucket stands in the middle of well defying gravity. The saint so stunned by even the earth stopping before the most devoted and patient wife was even more surprized when she directs the saint to an even more great devotee. That guy is a butcher - someone from lower caste. The saint even more astonished goes and meet that guy, who after doing his butcher job, faithfully takes care of the needs of his parents. For him, the GOD has no obligations. He does what GOD requires him to do and so GOD has him as the greatest devotee"

The moral of this story is that before we seek to change our world, we need to change our immediate family. IF each one takes care of the immediate family, there wont be any need for governments, laws, religion and social rules.

We should be happy to have a great purpose for our lives. To forever change the state of our parents, the family and all our relatives. Recalling a famous shloka forming the afternoon Sandhya prayers,

"I shall hope to see all the greatess well a hundred years,
I shall hope to live well in prosperity a hundred years,
I shall hope to live well with my relatives and family a hunred years,
I shall hope to taste life happily a hundred years".

Let our family show the purpose of our dark and dull lives. Our family is not a burden in a modern livestyle (even I once saw the family like a windsail, it allows you to move witout doing any work, but if you want to move fast enough it would restrict your motion) it is more of a celebration of our livelihood. It lies in the soul of our greatness.

What is responsible for the India's greatest growth?

For a long time, I've been wondering what suddenly transformed this energized India. EVen 10 years back, India was known nothing other than black magic, poverty, crazy rituals and big moushtaches. Now technology and entrepreneurship could not be talked without mentioning India. No doubt, we have a long distance to go, but still what we have achieved so far from 'nobody to a celebrity' is a story worth telling. What changed us...

I could not see much in Indian govt (it still remains the most red-taped and corrupt systems in the world), Indian bureacracy still feels difficult to come to terms with modernity, Indian education systems have not seen much of a change, Indian infrastructure 'sucks' to say the least. We have poor airports, poor roads, poor schools (most Indian schools are totally private funded), poor healthcare (people get shocked to hear that most Indians manage without any kind of medical insurance) no social security (if you fall, your govt. doesnt give a 'damn'), but with all this we manage to shine. We young Indians, who endured all the pains of poor education systems to poor roads to schools without libraries and with autocratic teachers have managed to challenge the brightest top 1% of Western minds. What gave us so much power and energy.....

The greatest factor, the unspoken, untold and unheard feature responsible for carrying India so far, is our FAMILY. Gosh! our planners so much underestimate this great institution. Our govt. might not have given us great schools, hospitals and social security, but we had parents who replaced all of those governmental functionalities. While we had all these poor stuff, my father gave me an illusiory world with me having better transportation, healthcare and education, while he pained himself. So, many times he gone without money, but I never had to face pecuniary. My mom never left me hungry for any type of food I desired.

I had a much more cozier life than what real fortune would have allowed me. I never got cars, but I got an education that could now buy me the best of the cars. I never had fancy stuff, but I got values that could carry me throughtout life. I vividly remember the great stories my father used to tell (I'm going to put all these in my personal blog), those stories I heard and read are still fresh in my mind. I got those General Knowledge books and the big jigsaw puzzles and brain games like Chess, brainvita and Memory at the age of 6. I always heard him saying some great gita verse or a thirukural (the holy book for Tamilians). Most importantly, he had curious images - like an interesting image of krishan delivering gita to arjuna. I always was interested in such things. My mom taught me those little shlokas and latter inspired me to learn longer ones like Shashti Khavacham, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Lalitha Sahasranamam... I never became a scholar in sholakas or gita, but I knew enough to always call GOD on my side. I knew enough to realize that he always stood by the toughest times I had.

Looking back, I'm so much grateful to have had such a great life. I got the motivation, knowledge, values and the energy to keep me on always. I dont have anything, but I'm in a position to earn anything. This is the new song of India. India is not popular because they found a new mineral or built some big buildings.. It is because we INDIANS are rising up with the energy that were gifted by a great parenthood. IF we carry this energy forward, we would never require that big FDI of China or big oil deposity of middle east... We are right now in the process of rewriting a history and the Phoenix is back....

The Magical Salaries

"The more we carry, while we go up, the more is the chance of we falling down. So burrow up savings as you move up."

I read the report about the salaries of IIM graduates in India with a tinge of astonishment and jealously. The salaries of $150 - 200K are a steal, for B-schools that doesnt even rank in world's top 100. The other day, my mom was saying how my neighbor who recently graduated from IIM-A is getting 3 lakhs (1 lakh = 100,000 & by current exchange rate Rs. 1 lakh = $2200) per month and I can expect no more than that even in US in a prestigious company. I'm stunned by how fast times are changing and the revolutions we face before our own eyes.

I grew up in an environment where Rs. 8000 to Rs. 10000 of disposable income plus housing allowance(a gross income of around Rs. 20000) per month is sufficient to run a family. A lot of times, I felt rich with a amount less than $400. Now, things are changing so fast in a very narrow period of time. Only two years ago, I was longing for few thousand rupees. When I graduated out of college and joined grad school in US, I was pleasantly surprised to see my after-tax stipend net income was more than twice my father's pre-tax gross income and my father had put lots of effort in that 25 year banking career as a manager in a national bank. I had to just do some grading and sometime teaching for few hours a week to attain that income, while my father works for 70 hours of week in managing a giant institution. And now, in a few months, my income might go by a multiple of 5X times and this is great. One of my former roomates has even a spectacular story. From a family with no graduates with an annual income of less than Rs. 15000/year, he managed to multiply the income by dozens of times!!!

This is the magic I'm talking about. For those of us who grew up with less than few hundreds of dollars a month, are now negotiating with salaries a dozen times greater than that. And this is in just a few years. If we care to see it carefully, we can see wonders. If we apply right brains, we can become millionaires in a jiffy. It reminds me of the greatest age of america - see here. If we apply right minds we can permanently change our future. There is virtually a gold rush over here and plenty of positive enthusiasm.

But, we must be more careful in this phases. The more we carry, while we go up, the more is the chance of we falling down. Thus, we should take more care in saving and investing. If we use prudent economical principles, we can do enormous wonders in this magical nation. Our eyes should glow as much as those American greats of the 19t h and early twentieth centuries. We should forever change our conditions. Nothing seems to be impossible. If so much of magic happened within the last decade, we can expect for much more in the next decade. Strap up and get ready for the biggest thrill ride of history.

India needs more engineers

I still vaguely remember an incident 6 years ago in Sep 2000. That time, when we just joined our engineering program, our college management announcd the decision to add self-financed programs in addition to our govt. funded program. That would almost triple the number of professional degrees generated by the college. This brought a natural agitation to us. People were worried about the future job prospects and fact that the competition of 3X engineers from our own college would be a dog-eat-dog contest. On a friday, when we attended a Chemistry lab session, the lab incharge passionately argued against such an intake and this agitated even more. We feared the reduce in prestige of the engineering degree (the once prestigious degree from respected instutions became a degree 'suitable for blind donkeys that requires lesser eligibility than a liberal arts program' - as put by one of my Physics professors).We discussed in detail in our hostels on the weekend and some of the students even suggested in going on a signature campaign to protest such a move. Fortunately, we didnt go against the move.

Now I realize how stupid those agitations and repulsion were. Reports after report indicate the lack of good engineers produced by our system. We once belived that a dozen engineering institutions per state could produce for all of its wants. Alas, we underestimated the great potential of this magic country. We require so many engineers that many corporations have started complaning about the lack of engineers in India. One of our biggest problems is that we produce so many of the bland liberal arts degrees, which dont satisfy anything for neither the students or the economy. The BA in history, economics, psychology produced by the chunk of arts colleges in India dont do any justice to those people nor to the fields they study. In spite of producing millions of BAs in history to economics to literature to (any arts field), we dont have many historians or economists ... of international repute. Our first job is to transform many of them into worthy programs that do justice to the field.

If they produce historians they should challenge great historical inconsistencies. If they study economics they should produce great economical theories. Without that, they may as well learn skills required for the IT or BPO industries. I recall a Tirukural quote,

"Thondrin Pughazhodu Thonruga, Agdilar
Thondarlin Thondramai Nanru"

If you are to rise, Rise with pride and popularity, otherwise it is better for you to not rise at all.

Thus, now India's main objective is to focus on core fields. We need to produce core science, art and social instutions, like we produced for technology (IIT) and management (IIMs). They should bring a fire brand of physicsts, historians, economists, litrarians.... Whatever field that we take up, we should produce extremely quality students in it.

Next step is to remove the "Also Ran" category. So many of the govt. liberal arts institutions and engineering colleges can be put in the junk category. Like Thiruvaluvar's quote, it is better not to have such institutions at all.

Once, we identified and builtup the best institutions for each field, we should find professional programs for the rest of the students. For now, we can have degrees more related to IT-ITES categories. If the students are more motivated, they can always switch to more important fields.

The main problem for us is not unemployment, but unemployablement. We seriously need to produce more quality students in greater quantity.