Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Three habits of highly ineffective employees

OK, this one may hurt.

Think you have what it takes to dig a career hole for yourself and then stay there? If not, here are three tips that are sure to get you the kind of attention nobody really wants.

Miss deadlines: If each person in a company operated in an independent vacuum, a missed deadline might not be such a big deal. But, as you well know, almost every action of every employee has some kind of effect, either direct or indirect, on the performance of another employee. Let’s say Person A–that would be you–has four days to complete the first part of a project; Person B has four days to complete the second part; and Person C has been given three days before the ultimate out-the-door deadline.

Since you’re not that hung up on specifics like deadlines, you take an extra day to get your portion of the project done. Person B has now missed an opening window of time for getting his portion launched so he, in turn, borrows another day from the master schedule. Now poor old Person C finds himself at the end of the project, and his deadline is one day away. As in DEADLINE. Not Ailing Gray Area. Person C probably has to work late and miss his daughter’s soccer game where, as it turns out, she scores the winning goal. And it’s all your fault.

Complain too much: OK, look, most people like to complain. They do it more often out of frustration if they feel like it’s not feasible for them to take any real action — but that’s not letting you off the hook. Like it or not, your job is to make things happen for the company you work for. If you can find fault with everything that entails (everything legal, that is), your input will lose its value. Constant complainers have no credibility.

Of course, you complain because you think you know better than those who make the decisions. Maybe you do and maybe you don’t. Either way, you don’t want to get a reputation as the person who will point out all the bad aspects of every suggestion and have to be dragged kicking and screaming into every new endeavor. It’s exhausting for everyone you work with. Ultimately, no one will think of you as a discerning employee as much as they will think of you as a pain in the butt.

Be the company doormat: This is the Complainer’s polar opposite, but it’s just as toxic. Are you the guy who helps everyone? The one everyone knows they can dump work on because you’re so nice and capable? And if everyone likes you, they respect you, right? Wrong. Your manager probably interprets this helping tendency as an inability on your part to set boundaries. And, believe me, no one is going to foist any make-a-name projects on you–only the penny ante stuff they don’t want to do.

The ability to set boundaries is something you need to have if you want to move up in the company. And if you take nothing else away from this blog, know this: Those co-workers lining up to pawn work off on you will not set your boundaries for you.

Although your intentions are good, your desire to help everyone may result in your workload being too much to handle, which could make you a deadline-misser (see my first point), and you don’t want that. Another result is that, with things piled on as they are, you will do no one project really well.

In brief, finish on time, develop a streak of optimism, and learn to say no.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why you must insure your wedding

"The latest entrant into the insurance family is wedding insurance," I told my brother Prabhat who is getting married this year. His immediate response was: "What's the need of such an insurance cover?" But before i could answer, his next question was, "What is the premium and what is the term insured?"

Wedding insurance is for providing cover to protect you against any untoward incident on or before the wedding.

Whatever may be your financial status, weddings in India attract huge expenditure, what with it being a once-in-a-lifetime event. After some research, I knew wedding insurance is not that big in India as awareness is still quite low. Moreover, people shudder to even think of an unforeseen, unfortunate event happening around their own or their child's wedding.

Mostly, it is a case of: Let's not think about it; and nothing will happen. But considering the huge amounts at stake in such a short duration, it is advisable to protect yourself from any such incident.

In a nutshell, wedding insurance safeguards you financially against unforeseen events that could postpone or cancel the wedding.

A conversation with the relationship manager of Bajaj Allianz revealed that they have recently launched a wedding insurance package.

He said, "In case the wedding gets postponed or cancelled, there is a certain risk of monetary loss. Our package covers the specific risks related to weddings. But yes there are not many takers for the same till now; moreover the policy is not being marketed aggressively as well."

Normally the wedding insurance policy covers wedding cancellation / postponement due to fire or any natural disaster, accident of the bride / groom, accident of blood relations for a seven-day period (three days prior to the wedding date, the wedding date, and three days after the wedding date), damage to property including the venue, burglary, and even cases of food poisoning at the function.

Typical wedding insurance covers range from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 8 lakh and their indicative premiums range from Rs 3,770 to Rs 14,276.

What wedding insurance broadly covers?
Right from brides or grooms coming late to burglary of valuables, everything is covered. The biggest risk covered is non-availability of groom or bride owing to stranded transport or law and order problems. Any damage to building and contents due to fire or allied perils is also considered a ground for claims. Accidental death in family or that of close family friend is also covered.

Legal liability and third party damages are recognised as risks. There is cover against food poisoning too, which comes under public liability clause. In case wedding ornaments are lost, the policy stands.

Money kept in safes at the wedding residence also comes under insurance policy. It extends to the day after the nuptials. Burglary of valuables is covered for one day after the marriage, as it is assumed that people stay back the night after wedding.

What wedding insurance doesn't cover?

The insurance policy cannot be claimed if dispute arises between two families. There are a whole lot of exclusions, which prevent a wedding insurance claim from being accepted. A marriage under duress, criminal acts, misconduct, misrepresentation, willful negligence, insolvency and influence of drugs or alcohol are sufficient to exclude a policy.

Nuclear perils, radioactivity, war and war-like perils also come under exclusions. The fine print has to be read because damage to electricity through short-circuits or self-heating deprives you of policy benefits.

The wedding insurance policy does not cover 'cold feet', that is, when the bride and / or the groom change their mind at the wedding venue.

Also nothing can be done if bride and groom decide to run away! Nevertheless, you should find the wedding insurance bug catching on... There is just too much expense and value involved for that not to happen.

चिडिया और सफ़ेद गुलाब

आओ सुनो एक कहानी

एक चिडिया को एक सफ़ेद गुलाब से प्यार हो गया , उसने गुलाब को प्रपोस किया ,
गुलाब ने जवाब दिया की जिस दिन मै लाल हो जाऊंगा उस दिन मै तुमसे प्यार करूँगा ,
जवाब सुनके चिडिया गुलाब के आस पास काँटों में लोटने लगी और उसके खून से गुलाब लाल हो गया,
ये देखके गुलाब ने भी उससे कहा की वो उससे प्यार करता है पर तब तक चिडिया मर चुकी थी

इसीलिए कहा गया है की सच्चे प्यार का कभी भी इम्तहान नहीं लेना चाहिए,
क्यूंकि सच्चा प्यार कभी इम्तहान का मोहताज नहीं होता है ,
ये वो फलसफा; है जो आँखों से बया होता है ,

ये जरूरी नहीं की तुम जिसे प्यार करो वो तुम्हे प्यार दे ,
बल्कि जरूरी ये है की जो तुम्हे प्यार करे तुम उसे जी भर कर प्यार दो,
फिर देखो ये दुनिया जन्नत सी लगेगी
प्यार खुदा की ही बन्दगी है ,खुदा भी प्यार करने वालो के साथ रहता है

खूबसूरती क्या है?

मैने खुदा से पूछा कि खूबसूरती क्या है?
तो वो बोले ::::
खूबसूरत है वो लब जिन पर दूसरों के लिए एक दुआ है
खूबसूरत है वो मुस्कान जो दूसरों की खुशी देख कर खिल जाए
खूबसूरत है वो दिल जो किसी के दुख मे शामिल हो जाए और किसी के प्यार के रंग मे रंग जाए
खूबसूरत है वो जज़बात जो दूसरो की भावनाओं को समझे
खूबसूरत है वो एहसास जिस मे प्यार की मिठास हो
खूबसूरत है वो बातें जिनमे शामिल हों दोस्ती और प्यार की किस्से कहानियाँ
खूबसूरत है वो आँखे जिनमे कितने खूबसूरत ख्वाब समा जाएँ
खूबसूरत है वो आसूँ जो किसी के ग़म मे बह जाएँ
खूबसूरत है वो हाथ जो किसी के लिए मुश्किल के वक्त सहारा बन जाए
खूबसूरत है वो कदम जो अमन और शान्ति का रास्ता तय कर जाएँ
खूबसूरत है वो सोच जिस मे पूरी दुनिया की भलाई का ख्याल

D se dosti,
D se dushmani,
D se dil,
D se dard,
D se dillagi,
D se deewangi,
D se itna bhi door na ho jana ke
H se Hamara saath hi chhut jaye.

Sawaal paani ka nahin, pyaas ka hai.
Sawaal maut ka nahin, saans ka hai.
Dost to duniya mein bahut hai magar,
Sawaal dosti ka nahin VISHWAS ka hai..


मैत्री हा असा एक धागा,
जो रक्ताची नातीच काय
पण परक्यालाही खेचून आणतो
आपल्याही मनाला जवळचा करून ठेवतो
आपल्या सुख-दु:खात तो स्वत:ला सामावून घेतो.

मैत्री करण्यासाठी नसावं
लागतं श्रीमंत आणि सुंदर
त्याच्यासाठी असावा लागतो
फ़क्त मैत्रीचा आदर

काहीजण मैत्री कशी करतात?
उबेसाठी शेकोटी पेटवतात अन
जणू शेकोटीची कसोटी पहातात.
स्वार्थासाठी मैत्री करतात अन
कामाच्या वेळेस फ़क्त आपलं म्हणतात.
शेकोटीत अन मैत्रीत फ़रक काय?
दोन्हीपण एकच जाणवतात.

मैत्री करणारे खूप भेटतील
परंतू निभावणारे कमी असतील
मग सांगा, खरे मित्र कसे असतील?

कधी भांडणाची साथ, कधी मैत्रीचा हात
कधी प्रेमाची बात, अशी असते निस्वार्थ मैत्रीची जात

या मैत्रीचा खरा अर्थ केव्हा कळतो?
नेत्रकडा ओलावल्या अन शब्द ओठांवरच अडखळला
मित्र या शब्दाचा अर्थ तो दूर गेल्यावर कळला....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Plenty at stake as top three sides go in to battle

As well as looking to wrap up the series 2-0, India will look to regain the No. 2 spot in the ICC Test rankings with a win in the second Test against England in Mohali starting Friday. Having briefly secured the second spot with a 2-0 win against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in October-November, they were toppled by South Africa who beat Bangladesh 2-0 in the two-Test series at home, towards the end of last month.

The three points gained will put India above South Africa, who will then have to ensure a series win against Australia, the No. 1 team, in their contest starting Wednesday in Perth, to hold on to second spot. However, South Africa have the chance to go top if they whitewash Australia 3-0.

Australia have held on to the top spot despite the defeat in India, followed swiftly by a 2-0 series win in the Trans-Tasman Trophy at home to New Zealand. They are currently 13 points clear of South Africa, and 14 of India.

A 3-0 series win at home against South Africa will give them four points and stretch the gap ahead of no. 2 to 21 points. Any series win, in fact, will strengthen their position.

The Australia-South Africa series holds a number of incentives for the players as well. The South African pace duo of Dale Steyn (No. 2) and Makhaya Ntini (No. 4) will look to improve their positions among the top five Test bowlers, given that Australia's Stuart Clark (No. 3) has been ruled out of the first Test. Jacques Kallis will also look to widen the gap between him and Daniel Vettori at No. 2 in the Test allrounder rankings.

Michael Hussey, currently No. 4 in the Test batsmen rankings, will also look to move up the charts, and narrow the gap at the top. But he will hope that both, West Indies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul (No. 1) and Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara (No. 2) falter this December, in the series away to New Zealand and Bangladesh respectively

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Your 6 transactions that the taxman tracks

When Priyanka Jhamanani (name changed) bought her friends' flight tickets for over Rs 125,000, the last thing on her mind was a notice from the income tax department.

Six months later, she was summoned by the IT department to explain the expenditure. Also, the notice asked her to meet an official and explain her source of funds.

"To catch tax evaders and prevent money laundering, the IT department has made a list of high value transaction. Notices are sent to consumers to explain these expenses, said K H Viswanathan, executive director, RSM Astute Consulting, a tax consultancy firm.

Experts explained that normally, the IT department sends notices to only those people whose yearly credit card transactions cross Rs 200,000.

But other than credit card companies, the Reserve Bank of India, banks, mutual funds and companies issuing shares and debentures need to file a report stating high-value transactions. This is done in form of an annual information report. Some even report the details every quarter.

Some of the yearly high-value transactions tracked by the IT authorities include:

1) Property purchase worth Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million) or more;

2) Deposits of over Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million)in a savings account;

3) Purchase of bonds of over Rs 5 lakh (Rs 500,000);

4) Investment in mutual funds of over Rs 2 lakh; (Rs 200,000);

5) Purchase of shares worth Rs 1 lakh (Rs 100,000) in a single company and;

6) Purchase of consumer durables like plasma television or expensive cars.

When faced with such a situation, you need to have all the documentation ready. "When IT called for an explanation, the person who has made such a transaction should carry all the documents supporting the source of funds. He also needs to carry his IT filings for the last financial year," said Kanu Doshi, a tax expert.

For instance, if the IT department calls to inquire on the purchase of a flat of over Rs 30 lakh, carry bank statement and documents that shows the loan amount.

"Make payments as much as possible through cheques or debit cards for large transactions and from an account that is your salary account. This will help to explain the source of money easily," explained Viswanathan. Further, if you have borrowed any money from a friend or relative for these purchases, take the loan in cheque. That would help clear any doubts.

To be on the safe side, mention all the high-value materials purchased while filing returns. This should include jewellery, expenditure on children's marriage, and others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sanskrit – a source of knowledge and wisdom or a dying heritage?

Sanskrit, like Latin or Greek is the world’s one of the oldest and few classical languages. In present times, it is written in the Devnagri script and its grammar was set out in 500 BC. It is listed as one of India’s 23 official languages. The total number of people who speak Sanskrit does not exceed 50,000, whereas it is also a second language to less than 2 lakh people. In whatever limited numbers, besides India, it is also spoken in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and some other areas of South and Southeast Asia. Like in the earlier mentioned counties, many Buddhist scholars in China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam also speak and use Sanskrit. This is supported by the fact that all scriptures of Hindus, Jains and Budhists are written and recorded in Sanskrit. Books of Puranas, with Bhagavad Gita as one of them, are one of the most interesting collection of stories about the Hindu gods and goddesses written in Sanskrit. The fact that Vedas, India’s two most talked about epics, Mahabarat and Ramayan, the works of Kalidas, etc were all written in Sanskrit shows that Hindu philosophy and traditions revolve around Sanskrit based writings. Sanskrit was a vehicle of creativity and development. The work done in Sanskrit is huge - Vedas laid the foundation of Vedic literature and all Sanskrit literature thereafter. Classical Sanskrit literature contains rich poetry, is found in Indian Classical Music and literature, as well as scientific, (Indian plants and animal species, Indian astronomy and ancient Indian sciences), technical, philosophical and religious texts. Sanskrit has been extensively used in religion and philosophy, in grammar, phonetics, etymology and lexicography. Astronomy, astrology, sociology, arts and aesthetics, politics and sex are well explained in Sanskrit language. Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages is considered as the “mother of all languages”, as many languages of world have either evolved out of it or have been greatly influenced by it. At the same time, Sanskrit language, it is believed belongs to the Indo-European, Indo-Aryan language group, as there are too many words in European languages that are similar phonetically and in meaning to those in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is related to Asian and South East Asian culture and philosophy, as Latin and Greek to European. Sanskrit originated from the same source as Latin, Greek and Persian, what we now refer as the Indo European languages. Sanskrit language has a wonderful structure - more perfect than the Greek, more abundant than the Latin, and more elegantly refined than either. It bears such a stronger resemblance to both - verb roots as well as forms of grammar, that it possibly could not be an accident that these evolved from some common source. Unfortunately, this link no longer exists. Though, there are people who suggest that Sanskrit evolved from either Dravidian group of languages or an earlier version of Sanskrit spoken in the sub-continent. But, some of the most widely used words common among these languages suggest that they all came from the same source. Evolution of different words in each language and possible connection with similar words in other comparable languages provides irrefutable evidence of their common origin. Sanskrit today has practically turned in to a ceremonial language, mainly used in Hindu hymns (mantras) and Bhudhists and Jain scriptures, but unfortunately, not brought in day-to-day use.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fresh grads: Focus on job content, not salary

How the young working professionals and fresh graduates can prepare themselves for the current global economic situation.

The current job scenario

Earlier, there was a bit if arrogance in the fresh graduates because not one or two but three companies chased them. So, there was no seriousness about joining or staying in a company. Some of these graduates were very choosy because there were many jobs available. So, they took jobs for granted.

Attrition was high as they were hopping companies for small amounts. Those times are over.

What kind of jobs to take
I would suggest two things. My suggestion to them now is, choose a company that wants you and not the company you want. And, stay there. This is no time to jump around and experiment.

If you have a stable start in the beginning of your career, even if it is for a lower salary, it is okay. You should forego the idea that you would not work in Tier 2 cities, and that you would not work in lesser known companies.

You should look for job content that can add value to your experience. Only those who are doing well in the company will be kept in troubled times. Those who are not adding value will be under threat.

So, you choose a company where you can learn and contribute. When you are contributing, you are under less threat.

What companies look for during times of economic slowdown

When companies become very choosy during times like this, a fresh graduate has to be either from a good college or has to have good grades or good knowledge. When the chips are down, companies look for people who add value.

So, freshers should make sure that they learn to manage their own expectations. They should not lose heart. In some of the campuses, I see young people thinking their world has ended if they don't get a job. Don't get depressed.

Higher studies as an option

It is a risky proposition to go for a Masters just because you didn't get a job. If you want to add value to your qualifications, go for higher education.

Salary cuts

During the dotcom bust, many used to say, we will stay here even for a smaller salary. Maintaining a job became more important than asking for a raise. Once again, we see those times.

The next two quarters are very crucial. If the global economy continues to remain sluggish, it will be disastrous.

Banks cut home loan rates

Public sector banks on Monday announced that home loans up to Rs 5 lakh (Rs 500,000) would be given at a maximum interest rate of 8.5 per cent, while those between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 20 lakh (Rs 500,000 and Rs 2 million) would be offered at 9.25 per cent.

Besides, the banks would not charge any processing fees and pre-payment charges for loans up to Rs 20 lakh, and would also provide free insurance cover, the Indian Banks Association said.

The package looks at reviving the demand in the housing industry.
# Interest rates not to exceed 8.5% for loans up to Rs 5 lakh
# Interest rates for loans between Rs 5 lakh and 20 lakh to be 9.25%.
# No processing fee or pre-payment charges, free insurance cover for loans up to Rs 20 lakh.
# PSU banks announce one percentage point cut in loans for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

However, it is not yet clear if the existing home loan borrowers will benefit from the special home loan schemes unveiled by state-owned banks on Monday.

Outlining the new housing loan package in accordance with the stimulus package announced by the government on December 7, State Bank of India chairman O P Bhatt said the interest rate under the two schemes could come down, but would not go up beyond the threshold limit of 8.5 and 9.25 per cent for a five-year period.

The offering under the packages would be made till June 30, next year, Bhatt said, adding that after the lock-in period of five years the borrowers could look in for free or floating rates that could change in accordance with market conditions.

To make the package attractive, the public sector banks would give the loans at a margin of 10 per cent up to Rs 5 lakh and 15 per cent for loans between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 20 lakh, and in either case, banks would offer free insurance cover, Bhatt said.

Leading private lenders, including ICICI Bank and HDFC, appeared favourably inclined to cut their rates, with sources saying the two lenders would study the PSU banks' package before taking a call.

Sources said any decision would be taken after ascertaining whether PSU banks are getting any government subsidy for implementing the package.

The banks have also decided to cut the lending rates for the micro and medium enterprises by 100 basis points.

DDA awaits go-ahead for draw of lots

Many people who have applied for a flat in the DDA housing are interested to know when the draw will be carried out. This blog will continue to provide updates on this subject.

Draw of DDA Housing Scheme 2008 is on 16th Dec 2008

Here is a news item published in Hindustan times.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is all set to conduct the draw of lots to its Housing Scheme 2008, launched on August 6 this year. All it awaits is a green signal from the State Election Commission (SEC). The SEC put in place a code when elections to the Rajinder Nagar seat were countermanded following the death of Bhartiya Janata Party legislature candidate P.C. Yogi. The code, in force till December 16, after the counting for the seat is over, disallows the DDA to draw lots before this date. “We have written to the SEC that since the Housing Scheme was launched before the code of conduct came into force on October 14, we should be allowed to conduct the draw of lots. A few lakh people have put in money in the Scheme and delaying the lottery is tantamount to harassing them,” said a DDA official on condition of anonymity. According to DDA’s official schedule, the agency had planned to hold the draw of lot for the flats before December 15.“We have completed all modalities like scrutinizing the application forms and will conduct the lottery as soon as we get the go-ahead from the election office.” said a senior official. Of the 12.64 lakh application forms, which were downloaded and sold, 5.60 lakh forms had been submitted in different banks authorized by the DDA by the time the scheme closed on September 16. The competition is going to be tough as there will be about 100 applicants for each of the 5010 flats, located in various Delhi localities.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Work a Miracle in a needy Child's LIFE

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Five things your manager could be doing better

don’t know your manager personally. He or she may be perfectly wonderful. And I’m not indicting all managers as being somehow deficient in their jobs. But chances are, all managers could use some strengthening in certain areas. Here are some ways most managers could improve:

1. Dealing with personnel problems sooner rather than later. Nothing demoralizes employees more than working with a co-worker who is a problem that no one will deal with, either because doing so would be “uncomfortable,” or the happiness of the team is just not a big priority to the manager. Basically, it ends up with the sub-par employee holding everyone emotionally hostage.

Although it’s never pleasant to deliver criticism, the burden should never outweigh the need. If someone is a personnel problem, he or she has to be responsible for the consequences. I’m not suggesting anything that would involve weaponry or a stockade. I’m not even saying that criticism should be blunt and loud, by any means; it can be finessed. But a manager should never be apologetic for having to criticize the work performance of a team member. If Employee A exhibits behaviors that negatively impact the rest of the staff, then Employee A needs to be made aware that it won’t be tolerated.

If not, what’s the message to the rest of the team? I can show up late, push my work off on others, be intimidating, be toxic, and watch YouTube videos all day at work. Who’s going to say anything?

2. Giving more positive feedback. Many managers operate from the assumption that their employees will know they’re doing OK as long as they aren’t reprimanded for something. This is not a productive way to operate. There are ways for staffers to infer that they’re doing a good job, but why should they have to do that? Many people don’t look at things from a “no news is good news” standpoint. You’d be surprised at how motivating it is for an employee to find out his or her performance is noticed for good reasons.

Good managers notice good performance — and they don’t just wait until performance review time rolls around to express their appreciation.

3. Leading more, managing less. Management establishes the framework for work, while leadership provides the inspiration for it. Successful IT managers learn to be both a good manager and leader, depending on the needs of the team and the situations they are addressing. How does one lead? First, communicate more. Although “meetings” have become four-letter words in most organizations, they really are essential in communicating the vision of the company and explaining how employees can work to make that vision come true.

Second, IT managers need to work harder toward establishing their group’s reputation in the company. This involves creating constructive partnerships with people in business management and other departments. Good IT managers act as their team’s PR agent.

4. Be an advocate for the team. Sometimes in an attempt to make the company vision happen and look good in the process, the overzealous manager will take on more and more work that he then promptly passes on to the team. The problem with this is that the team comes to feel that their manager is not an advocate for them, and that he hasn’t even bothered to see what’s already on their plate before he piles more on. Employees soon start to feel like it’s not so much what they’re doing for the company, but more about what they’re doing for their manager’s career. Good managers know their team’s bandwidth, and they learn to say no on their team’s behalf.

5. Be open to feedback. Strong managers don’t just pretend to be open to feedback — they listen to new ideas and discuss their pros and cons with the person who presents them. Good managers aren’t threatened by employees who have better ideas than they do. Good managers are also able to admit they’re wrong. They know that doing this is not the same as admitting they’re incompetent

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Clearing Your Inbox

Today I helped a colleague clear their inbox. I've kept a zero mail inbox for a few years. I forgot this wasn't common practice until a colleague said to me, "wow, your inbox doesn't scroll."

I didn't learn the zen of the zero mail inbox over night. As pathetic as this sounds, I've actually compared email practices over the years with several people to find some of the best practices that work over time. The last thing I wanted to do was waste time in email, if there were better ways. Some of my early managers also instilled in me that to be effective, I needed to master the basics. Put it another way, don't let administration get in the way of results.

Key Steps for a Clear Inbox

My overall approach is to turn actions into next steps, and keep stuff I've seen, out of the way of my incoming mail. Here's the key steps:

1. Filter out everything that's not directly to you. To do so, create an inbox rule to remove everything that's not directly To or CC you. As an exception, I do let my immediate team aliases fall through.
2. Create a folder for everything that's read. I have a folder to move everything I read and act on. This is how I make way for incoming.
3. Create a list for your actions. Having a separate list means you can list the actions in the sequence that makes sense for you, versus let the sequence in your inbox drive you.

Part of the key is acting on mail versus shuffling it. For a given mail, if I can act on it immediately, I do. If now's not the time, I add it to my list of actions. If it will take a bit of time, then I drag it to my calendar and schedule the time.


I think it's important to note the anti-patterns:

1. Using your inbox as a large collection of action and semi-action items with varying priorities
2. Using your inbox as a pool of interspersed action and reference items
3. Adopting complicated mail and task management systems

Monday, December 1, 2008

26 things to do to strengthen internal security

This incorporates some of the points coming to my mind, but is by no means a totally comprehensive list. I have deliberately not touched upon the Pakistan dimension. I would like to wait for some more details before commenting on the action that needs to be taken.

Point 1: Set up a national commission of professionals with no political agenda, in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, to inquire into all the major terrorist strikes that have taken place in Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir since November 2007, and task it to submit its report within four months, with no extensions given. Its charter will be not the investigation of the criminal cases arising from these terrorist strikes, but the investigation of the deficiencies and sins of commission and omission in our counter-terrorism agencies at the Centre and in the states, which made these strikes possible.

Point 2: Induct proved experts in terrorism and counter-terrorism from the Intelligence Bureau, the state police and the Army into the R&AW at senior levels. Presently, the R&AW does not have any such expertise at senior levels. Of the four officers at the top of the pyramid, two are generalists, one is an expert in Pakistan (political) and the other in China (political).

Point 3
: A similar induction from the state police and the Army would be necessary in the case of IB too. Since I have no personal knowledge of the officers at the top of its pyramid, I am not in a position to be specific.

Point 4: Make the IB the nodal point for all liaison with foreign intelligence and security agencies in respect of terrorism, instead of the R&AW. Give the IB direct access to all foreign internal intelligence and security agencies, instead of having to go through the R&AW.

Point 5: Have a common database on terrorism shared by the IB and the R&AW directly accessible by authorised officers of the two bodies through a secure password.

Point 6: Make the multi-disciplinary centre of the IB function as it was meant to function when it was created -- as a centre for the continuous identification of gaps and deficiencies in the available intelligence and for removing them and for effective follow-up action.

Point 7
: Revive the covert action capability of the R&AW and strengthen it. Its charter should make it clear that it will operate only in foreign territory and not in Indian territory. Give it specific, time-bound tasks. All covert actions should be cleared and co-ordinated by the R&AW. Other agencies should not be allowed to indulge in covert actions.

Point 8: The National Security Guards was created as a special intervention force to deal with terrorist situations such as hijacking and hostage-taking. Stop using it for VIP security purposes. Station one battalion each of the NSG in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru. Ensure that its regional deployment does not affect its in-service training. Review the rapid response capability of the NSG in the light of the Mumbai experience and remove loopholes. In handling the Kandahar hijacking of 1999 and the Mumbai terrorist strikes, the delay in the response by the NSG would appear to have been due to a delay in getting an aircraft for moving the NSG personnel to Mumbai from Delhi.

Point 9
:Give the police in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru a special intervention capability to supplement that of the NSG.

Point 10: After the series of hijackings by the Khalistani terrorists in the early 1980s, Indira Gandhi had approved a proposal for training Indians in dealing with hostage situations and hostage negotiation techniques by foreign intelligence agencies, which have acknowledged expertise in these fields. The training slots offered by the foreign agencies have been largely monopolised by the IB and R&AW. The utilisation of these training slots and the selection of officers for the training should be decided by the NSA -- with one-third of the slots going to central agencies, one-third to the NSG and one-third to the state police. It is important to build up a core of terrorism and counter-terrorism expertise in all metro towns.

Point 11
: The IB's multi-disciplinary centre should have a constantly updated database of all serving and retired officers at the Centre and in the states who had undergone overseas training, and also of all serving and retired officers and non-governmental figures who have expertise in terrorism and counter-terrorism so that their expertise could be tapped, when needed.

Point 12: Strengthen the role of the police stations in counter-terrorism in all major cities. Make it clear to all station house officers that their record in preventing acts of terrorism, in contributing to the investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases and in consequence management after a terrorist strike will be an important factor in assessing their suitability for further promotion. Revive and strengthen the beat system, revive and intensify the local inquiries for suspicious activities in all railway stations, bus termini, airports, hotels, inns and other places and improve police-community relations.

An important observation of the UK's security and intelligence committee of the prime minister, which enquired into the London [Images] blasts of July 2005, was that no counter-terrorism strategy will succeed unless it is based on the co-operation of the community from which the terrorists have arisen. The UK now has what they call a community-based counter-terrorism strategy. The willingness of different communities to co-operate will largely depend on the relations of the police officers at different levels with the leaders and prominent members of the communities.

Point 13: Adopt the British practice of having counter-terrorism security advisers in police stations. Post them in all urban police stations. Their job will be to constantly train the PS staff in the performance of their counter-terrorism duties, to improve relations with the communities and to closely interact with owners of public places such as hotels, restaurants, shopping malls etc and voluntarily advise them on the security precautions to be taken to prevent terrorist strikes on soft targets and to mitigate the consequences if strikes do take place despite the best efforts of the police to prevent them.

Point 14: Stop using the National Security Council Secretariat as a dumping ground for retired officers, who are favoured by the government. The NSCS cannot be effective in its role of national security management if it is not looked upon with respect by the serving officers. The serving officers look upon the retired officers of the NSCS as living in the past and in a make-believe world of their own totally cut off from the ground realities of today in national security management. The NSCS should be manned only by serving officers of acknowledged capability for thinking and action.

Point 15: Strengthen the role of the National Security Advisory Board as a government-sponsored think tank of non-governmental experts in security matters to assist the NSCA and the NSA. Give it specific terms of reference instead of letting it free lance as it often does. It should be discouraged from undertaking esoteric studies.

Point 16: Set up a separate Joint Intelligence Committee to deal with internal security. Assessment of intelligence having a bearing on internal security requires different expertise and different analytical tools than assessment of intelligence having a bearing on external security. In 1983, Indira Gandhi, then prime minister, bifurcated the JIC and created a separate JIC for internal security. Rajiv Gandhi reversed her decision. Her decision was wise and needs to be revived.

Point 17: Set up a national counter-terrorism centre under the national security adviser to ensure joint operational action in all terrorism-related matters. It can be patterned after a similar institution set up in the US under director, national intelligence after 9/11. The national commission set up by the US Congress to enquire into the 9/11 terrorist strikes had expressed the view that better co-ordination among the various agencies will not be enough and that what was required was a joint action command similar to the joint chiefs of staff in the armed forces. Its tasks should be to monitor intelligence collection by various agencies, avoid duplication of efforts and resources, integrate the intelligence flowing from different agencies and foreign agencies, analyse and assess the integrated intelligence and monitor follow-up action by the police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other concerned agencies.

Every agency is equally and jointly involved and responsible for the entire counter-terrorism process starting from collection to action on the intelligence collected. If such a system had existed, post-Mumbai complaints such as those of the Intelligence Bureau and R&AW that the advisories issued by them on the possibility of a sea-borne attack by the Lashkar e Tayiba on Mumbai were not acted upon by the Mumbai police would not have arisen because the IB and the R&AW would have been as responsible for follow-up action as the Mumbai police.

Point 18
: The practice of the privileged direct access to the prime minister by the chiefs of the IB and R&AW, which came into force under Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, should be vigorously enforced. This privileged direct access is utilised by the intelligence chiefs to bring their concerns over national security and over inaction by the agencies responsible for follow-up on their reports to the personal notice of the prime minister and seek his intervention. If the intelligence chiefs had brought to the notice of the prime minister the alleged inaction of the Mumbai police on their reports, he might have intervened and issued the required political directive to the chief minister of Maharashtra.

Point 19: Either create a separate ministry of internal security or strengthen the role of the existing department of internal security in the ministry of home affairs and make it responsible for dealing with internal security operationally under the over-all supervision of the home minister.

Point 20
:Either create a separate federal terrorism investigation agency or empower the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate all cases involving terrorism of a pan-Indian dimension. It need not take up cases where terrorism is confined to a single state or a small region such as terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir or the Al Umma in Tamil Nadu. It should be able to take up the cases for investigation without the need for prior permission from the governments of the states affected. It should not have any responsibility for investigating crimes other than terrorism. If its charter is expanded to cover other crimes too, there will be political opposition.

There is a lot of confusion about this concept of a federal terrorism investigation agency. Many critics ask when the IB is there, what is the need for another central agency. The IB is an intelligence collection agency and not an investigation agency. The IB has no locus standi in the Indian criminal laws. It collects intelligence and not evidence usable in a court of law. It cannot arrest and interrogate a suspect or search premises or perform other tasks of a similar nature, which can be performed only by police officers of the rank of station house officers. The IB officers are not recognised as equivalent to SHOs.

Point 21: Set up a taskforce consisting of three senior and distinguished directors-general of police and ask it to come up with a list of recommendations for strengthening the powers of the police in respect of prevention, investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related offences and the capabilities of the police in counter-terrorism and implement its recommendations. This is the only way of getting round the present political deadlock over the revival of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Point 22
: Expedite the erection of the border fence on the border with Bangladesh without worrying about opposition from Bangladesh.

Point 23: Start a crash programme for the identification of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and for deporting them. Ban the employment of immigrants from Bangladesh anywhere in Indian territory.

Point 24: Strict immigration control is an important part of counter-terrorism The post -9/11 safety of the US is partly due to the tightening up of immigration procedures and their strict enforcement. Among the best practices adopted by the US and emulated by others are: photographing and finger-printing of all foreigners on arrival, closer questioning of Pakistanis and persons of Pakistani origin etc. We have not yet adopted any of these practices. Hotels and other places of residence should be banned from giving rooms to persons without a departure card and without a valid immigration stamp in their passports. They should be required to take xerox copies of the first page and the page containing the immigration stamp of the passports of all foreigners and also the departure card stapled to the passport and send them to their local police station every morning.

All immigration relaxations introduced in the case of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals and persons of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin should be cancelled with immediate effect. The requirement of police reporting by them should be rigorously enforced. It should be made obligatory for all persons hosting Pakistanis and Bangladeshis to report to the local police about their guests. A vigorous drive should be undertaken for tracing all Pakistanis and Bangladeshis overstaying in India after the expiry of their visas and for expelling them.

Point 25: The MEA's capability for terrorism-related diplomacy should be strengthened by creating a separate division for this purpose. It should continuously brief all foreign governments about the role of Pakistan and Bangladesh in supporting terrorism in Indian territory and press for action against them.

Point 26
: The Mumbai strikes have revealed serious gaps in our maritime security on our Western coast. This is partly the result of our over-focus on the Look East policy and the neglect of the Look West dimension. This was corrected earlier this year. Despite this, there are apparently major gaps and an alleged failure by the naval and Coast Guard authorities to act on the reports of IB and R&AW about likely sea �borne threats from the LeT. The identification and removal of the gaps need immediate attention. The Mumbai offshore oil installations and the nuclear and space establishments on the Western coast are also vulnerable to sea-borne terrorist strikes.

Is baar nahin

Is baar nahin

Is baar jab woh choti si bachchi mere paas apni kharonch le kar aayegi
Main usey phoo phoo kar nahin behlaoonga
Panapney doonga uski tees ko
Is baar nahin

Is baar jab main chehron par dard likha dekhoonga
Nahin gaoonga geet peeda bhula dene wale
Dard ko risney doonga,utarney doonga andar gehrey
Is baar nahin

Is baar main na marham lagaoonga
Na hi uthaoonga rui ke phahey
Aur na hi kahoonga ki tum aankein band karlo,gardan udhar kar lo main dawa lagata hoon
Dekhney doonga sabko hum sabko khuley nangey ghaav
Is baar nahin

Is baar jab uljhaney dekhoonga,chatpatahat dekhoonga
Nahin daudoonga uljhee door lapetney
Uljhaney doonga jab tak ulajh sake
Is baar nahin

Is baar karm ka hawala de kar nahin uthaoonga auzaar
Nahin karoonga phir se ek nayee shuruaat
Nahin banoonga misaal ek karmyogi ki
Nahin aaney doonga zindagi ko aasani se patri par
Utarney doonga usey keechad main,tedhey medhey raston pe
Nahin sookhney doonga deewaron par laga khoon
Halka nahin padney doonga uska rang
Is baar nahin banney doonga usey itna laachaar
Ki paan ki peek aur khoon ka fark hi khatm ho jaye
Is baar nahin

Is baar ghawon ko dekhna hai
Gaur se
Thoda lambe wakt tak
Kuch faisley
Aur uskey baad hausley
Kahin toh shuruat karni hi hogi
Is baar yahi tay kiya hai

... Prasoon Joshi

Mumbai is still a safe city, say expat CEOs

Expatriate CEOs, many of whom have made Mumbai their first homes, may be unnerved by the three-day terror strike in Mumbai, but none of them feel Mumbai or other parts of India have become unsafe to live and work in.

"This is a dreadful attack but not unprecedented. In Bali, for instance, only foreigners were targeted. There have been major terrorist attacks in many cities of the world -- Madrid, London, New York," said Alan Rosling, executive director, Tata Sons, adding, "By world standards, Mumbai is a very safe city to travel around, even late at night and for women."

Many expat CEOs Business Standard spoke to echoed these views. "I have always felt safe in Mumbai. Unfortunately, today we live in world where these events happen everywhere. Terror has become a part of our life," said Wolfgang Prock-Shauer, CEO, Jet Airways, who has been living in India for three years.

KR Kim, vice-chairman and MD of consumer electronics firm Videocon Group, who lives in Delhi and Mumbai with his wife, said India is a big country with leaky borders and incidents, small or big, could happen.

"Politically, India is a stable country. In Thailand, there have been 19 coups. I have stayed in many countries, including in Latin America," he pointed out.

"It was brutal attack but just because of this we cannot say Mumbai or India is becoming dangerous," he added.

"In daily life, we don't feel insecure. These kinds of events are exceptional," said Kim, a former CEO of LG India who made the Korean brand a household name in India.

Not everyone feels as secure. Gary Bennett, the Indian CEO of insurance major Max New York Life, has spent nearly 1,000 nights between the Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi-Trident.

But he shudders at the thought of bringing his family to Mumbai. "I have been an expat for 14 years, stayed across Asia. Mumbai is part of my life� but I will think twice before bringing my wife and daughter to Mumbai," said Bennet.

Friends and family have been calling up, some asking them to come back. "Of course, mothers, wives and children will be concerned. But this can happen in London or New York; you need to take sensible precautions," said Rosling.

"Mumbai is incredibly resilient; the local community will get on with life. We appreciate this 'can-do' attitude," he said.