Abhay Shivgounda Patil

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कविता १०१

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IrshaadStageगणित अाणि कविता या दोन गोष्टीत कमालीचं साम्य अाहे. दोन्ही अल्पाक्षरी – फाफटपसारा अजिबात नाही. दोन्हीत अाशय अाणि अर्थ ठासून भरलेला. अाणि, “अाम्हाला त्यातलं काही कळत नाही” असं म्हणून त्यापासून दूर पळणारे लोकही दोन्हीकडे. गेल्या महिन्यात संदीप खरे अाणि वैभव जोशी या कवीद्वयांचा “इर्शाद” हा काव्यवाचनाचा कार्यक्रम कॅलिफोर्नियाच्या सिलीकॉन व्हॅलीत झाला तेंव्हा प्रेक्षकांत “कविता कळत नाही” संप्रदायातले जे कोणी होते त्या सगळ्यांचं  irreversible ह्रदयपरिवर्तन झालं असणार यात शंका नाही! मित्र संजय अापटेची फेसबुकवरची प्रतिक्रिया प्रातिनिधिक होती.

शाळेत मराठी पद्य म्हणजे आम्ही जेमतेम पास. कुठल्याही कवितेने मला मुळापासुन हलवल वगैरे नाही की कधी माझ्या मनात कसलेही तरंग वगैरे निर्माण केले नाहीत, त्यामुळे कवितांच्या कार्यक्रमापासून मी बहुधा लांबच राहतो पण काल कॅलिफोर्निया आर्टस् ससोसिएशन (Calaa) च्या १५ वर्ष निमित्त झालेल्या संदीप खरे आणि वैभव जोशींच्या ‘इर्शाद’ कार्यक्रमात जरा डोकावलो आणि मेलो. चक्क कविता ऐकत बसलो, नुसत्याच ऐकल्या नाहीत तर प्रचंड आवडल्या.

म्हणजे Science मधे गोडी निर्माण व्हावी म्हणून Popular Science लिहीणाऱ्या शास्त्रज्ञांसारखंच या कवींचं काम महत्वाचं अाहे. “मंचीय कविता” असं म्हणून काहीजण काव्यवाचनाच्या कार्यक्रमाला कमी लेखत असतीलही, पण या निमीत्ताने कवितेकडे लोक वळतील हे नक्की. अमेरिकेत विद्यापीठात विषयाची अोळख करून देणाऱ्या course ला “अमुक तमुक १०१” असे नाव देतात – तसा हा “कविता १०१”! कर्मधर्मसंयोगाने मला हा कार्यक्रम त्यांच्या शेजारी बसून ऐकता अाला. अोळख करून देतांना मी कवी नारायण कुळकर्णी कवठेकर यांच्या या ओळी उधृत केल्या.

अनुल्लेखानं वाळलं तर
पायाखाली चुरगाळलं तर;
याहून मोठा
अन्याय होईल फुलांवर
त्यांचं नाव
जीवनावश्यक वस्तूंच्या यादीतून
गाळलं तर.

कविताही फुलांसारखीच जीवनावश्यक गोष्ट अाहे हे नक्की!

बरं, इथपर्यंत अालाच अाहात तर मी वाचलेल्या (माझ्या नाहीत – घाबरू नका) या कविताही जाता जाता ऐका.
एक दिवस मी परमेश्वराला – कवी केशव मेश्राम

अमेरिकन शेतकरी भाऊ! – कवी वसंत बापट

तू हवीस यात न पाप – कवी पु. शि. रेगे

शिरच्छेद – कवी वैभव छाया


Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

May 13, 2017 at 8:42 pm

Who Killed Gandhi?

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lkgGodse was not the killer – he was just an instrument of a much bigger conspiracy. There were as many as five unsuccessful attempts on Gandhi’s life, last one barely 10 days before the fateful day. After the last attempt, there was enough information to nab Godse and his accomplices, but it remains a mystery why the police did not act. After the murder, police were lax in acknowledging, leave alone following up on, the tell tale evidence. So much so that the trial Justice Atma Charan closed his judgment stating that the Police should have been named as one of the accused. It is as if everybody, including the ruling Congress Party, was content to avenge one death with two lives – and were not too eager to pursue the case. The Jivanlal Kapur commission proved to be a redeeming development, however the current ruling dispensation is working on removing this report from the official records.

Today (Nov 6, 2016) I heard Tushar Gandhi in Pune. His great grandmother, Kasturba, died in Pune and the murderers of his great grandfather hailed from Pune. It was an emotional speech, with startling facts. What I picked up from his talk is shocking enough that I am eager to read his well researched book, Let’s kill Gandhi. (He was in Pune to release a book, written by a young activist Sanket Munot, countering widespread misconceptions about Gandhi.)

Here are some of the notes I made during the talk.

First attempt on Gandhi’s life happened in 1934 when he was in Pune to accept civic felicitation. A hand bomb was hurled at his car. The case was closed with no arrests. Later, a forensic report confirmed that the hand bomb used in 1934 was from the same batch of hand bombs that were thrown at a Muharram procession in Ahmednagar in 1946. These bombs were recovered from the residence of Vishnu Karkare, the convict in Gandhi’s murder.

Madan Lal Pahwa was arrested after he hurled a hand bomb, on January 20th during Gandhiji’s prayer meeting. This was just 10 days before Gandhi was killed. Pahwa did lead the police to the hotel room where the kingpins of the conspiracy had met with him. There was tell tale evidence, including laundered clothes bearing initials NVG (Nathuram Vinayak Godse) – but Police did not act. Ashutosh Lahiri (?), who was ready to depose was not interrogated. When questioned by the Court, the police chief infamously gave the explanation that they did not expect the conspirators to revert so quickly. (“They were not playing cricket” -was the actual statement!)

Godse and his accomplice Apte were complete novices when it came to firearms. Just two days before Godse killed Gandhi, it is a mystery how he acquired one of the most sophisticated revolvers of that time – a Beretta. It was apparently surrendered by an Italian troupe to a General in King of Gwalior Jiwaji Rao Shinde’s army. The arms dealer Sharma, from whom Godse acquired it, was never interrogated enough on this count.

Godse was not known to be good with words. He did edit a few journals, but his style was aggressive and never persuasive enough.  Godse’s argument in the appeals court, that is available on the net, was so powerful that one of the Justices hearing the case remarked that had the people in the Court turned jury, they would have acquitted Godse. Tushar Gandhi claims that there was no way Godse could have drafted that speech – he believes that it was work of one of the most gifted litterateurs, V D Savarkar.

On the afternoon of January 30, pamphlets – allegedly printed in Amritsar – were distributed in Alwar, Rajsthan, announcing death of Gandhi. Gandhi was killed in the evening.

Digambar Badge, the bodyguard of Veer Savarkar turned approver; and his deposition was considered fit to hang two convicts. Tushar Gandhi claimed that, it is intriguing why the evidence he shared regarding Veer Savarkar was rejected by the Court. However, Justice Jivanlal Kapur came down harshly on Savarkar in his report, terming his acquittal purely technical.

And finally, he talked about the bogey that Gandhi forced Indian Government to give Rupees 55 Crore to Pakistan; and that he was the one responsible for the partition.

When Mountbatten came back with the proposal for partition, it was only Gandhi who opposed it. No organization, RSS and Hindu Mahasabha included, agitated against it. Nehru and Patel did not like the idea – but they accepted it as a “practical” step. Later Nehru confessed that he did not anticipate the terrible human cost that the partition entailed – and that only Gandhi saw it, but to no avail. Gandhi confided to Pyarelal that neither the leader who was like a son to him, nor the one who claimed to be his inheritor, was ready to listen to Gandhi’s counsel. They were in tearing hurry to get the power and overlooked the consequences that proved to be too bloody – only comparable to the holocaust.

Gandhi’s last fast was NOT for pressing Indian Government to give the promised Rs. 55 Crore to Pakistan. It was for peace. It is a fact that the newly born Indian nation was almost bent on renegading on it’s very first commitment as a sovereign nation. The brutal violence that erupted post partition had the whole country boiling with rage against Pakistan and the then Government did not want to be seen as Pakistan’s benefactor. But they also knew that not keeping the promise meant a huge loss of credibility for the new born country. Gandhi’s fast turned out to be a good excuse to do the right thing, but that also meant turning the ire of the nation towards Gandhi. Note that Gandhi DID NOT end his fast on this announcement. His fast was not for the 55 Crore – it was for peace.

And Godse claimed that Gandhi’s fast for giving money to Pakistan was the last straw.





Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

November 6, 2016 at 11:52 pm

Posted in History, India, Uncategorized

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If you don’t see beauty, you are not seeing

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jinanNow, that’s a very intense version of the common adage – beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Isn’t it? That was K B Jinan, the activist, designer and disruptive educationist. (Here is a link to one talk by him.)

We routinely come across quotes and anecdotes that dazzle us when we read them. Most of them are nothing more than glorified cliches that wither away soon. But some stir you and get etched in your mind. Here are a few such that I heard from K B Jinan at the Mindfulness Conference (October 7-9, 2016), organized by Just Being. They are not platitudes. They appear ironic and counter intuitive and open our eyes to some stark reality that was not apparent earlier. (We marvel, how did we not think of it!) Beware, they are not to be taken too literally – some are really outrageous. So, sit back, relax, read and enjoy.

Language corrupts, and how! Let’s see. Where is Delhi? Up north, right? And where is Kerala? Down south. Good. So if we drop a ball in Delhi, will it roll down to Kerala?

Children don’t need toys. It is an affront to their intelligence to give them miniaturized reality. Don’t give them a kid chair, let them sit on a normal chair and watch what they do with it!

Every generation has to reinvent. Period. Think why the nature has not stopped giving birth to zero year olds. (Otherwise it would have preferred to give birth to 90 year olds!)

Spirituality is the last ploy of the mind. (Milarepa)

In our quest of knowledge, we have stopped being human beings – we have turned into human knowings.

Reasoning is about what we know. What about the unknown then? Reasoning short-circuits comprehension.

Jinan came down heavily on the language and the words. He confided that there came a point when he stopped reading and started experiencing. That rewired his cognitive abilities. Interestingly, the young guru Nithya Shanti, who was in the audience, shared a Sanskrit adage that said the following.

When a teacher teaches, he throws words at the disciple – and then pulls back the words and lets the meaning stay with the student.

I am tempted to end this note with the line that Nithya Shanti makes his audience say after him every time he dispenses some gyan-byte, so here we go.

How wonderful!

(Do check out my earlier blog about the session by Geshe Dorji Damdul.)

Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

October 10, 2016 at 6:16 am

Geshe Dorji Damdul on Mindfulness

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domdulToday, at the Mindfulness conference organized by Just Being, I had the opportunity to hear Venerable Geshe Dorji Damdul, Director of the Tibet House(New Delhi) and the official translator of His Holiness The Dalai Lama. He shunned esoteric philosophy and kept it simple, profoundly simple. At every stage he urged listeners to question what he was saying, and accept it only if they felt convinced. Here are a few things that stayed with me.

He quoted the 8th century Buddhist monk Shantideva to explain how, to address misery, one has to look inward, and not outward. When the earth is covered with thorns, and you wish to walk over it – will you think of covering all of it with leather? No. You just cover your two tiny feet and walk over the thorns.

Ignorance and self-centered attitude – these two attributes create a facade of guarding you, but end up destroying you. He narrated a story to explain how anger made one opt for a choice that one would not have made under the free will. It is a deceptively simple story – read carefully.

Recently in Delhi, when a bus barely brushed a motorcycle – and scratched it – the youth riding the bike thrashed the bus driver to death in a fit of anger. Imagine that, somehow, the boy was told ahead of time that his bike was to suffer a few scratches due to negligence of a bus driver. Let us say, then he was given two options when that were to happen – (1) reprimand the bus driver, tell him to be careful, and fix the bike for a thousand rupees, or (2) get angry, show strength, beat the driver to death and go to prison. Can there be any doubt about what option he would have chosen? Didn’t the facade of strength and courage created by his anger made him choose the course that he would not have chosen of his free will?

A counselor in the audience asked – should one advise mindfulness to a person who is in an extremely agitated state? Geshe countered – when you have a garment covered with mud, would you use detergent on it right away? Won’t you first rinse it in plain water a multiple times and only when it is free of mud would you not use detergent to remove the stains?

Interestingly, Geshe’s views on “expressing anger” were counter intuitive, and identical to what the Management Guru Adam Grant says in his recent best seller Originals. (Do check out my blog about Originals.) When you vent your anger, in the short term, it creates an illusion that it is helping you calm down. But it feeds the anger. It is a widely perpetuated myth that the anger may simmer inside you, and explode, if you don’t express it. In fact, expressing anger is harmful. It is a bait – don’t fall for it!

There was a lot more to his speech – but let me stop here. Do share your comments. Add your take-away if you were there!


Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

October 7, 2016 at 9:20 pm

Leadership Learning

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leadershipWhen I received an invite from a large software company to speak, I felt nice for two reasons. First, they thought me worthy of a talk on “Leadership Learning” and also because this initiative was started by my colleague when he was with that organization!

My objective? After an hour of talk I wanted everyone to feel that the hour was well spent – and each carried with them some sense of deja vu, a few  AHA moments – and of course curiosity to explore more on their own. So here is a brief account of what I shared with them on August 13, 2015.

Everything we see around us is complex – organization, family, society. Everything we have to tackle is complex – be it performance reviews or raising a child. How do we tackle complexity? Complexity can not be confronted with complexity.

The answer is K.I.S.S. – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”!

The celebrated Gall’s law goes like this: A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked.

This law is essentially an argument in favor of underspecification: it can be used to explain the success of systems like the World Wide Web which grew from simple to complex system incrementally, and the failure of systems like CORBA, which began with complex specifications. Gall’s Law has strong affinities to the practice of agile software development.

I then talked about inversion – and other counter intuitive techniques to look at the complexity which give us dramatically simple perspective to address complexity.

We were always taught to mug up  answers to get good marks, right? But in the real world we know that it is all important to ask the right questions. (What’s the use finding correct answers to  wrong questions?)  Learning is important – but un-learning is more important! I was told by my teacher to un-learn my procedural language training – “otherwise you will program Fortran in C++” he told me!  Vikas Joshi (Founder, Harbinger Group) once told us how one should deliberately create knowledge gaps by entrusting tasks outside  people’s expertise – so, you avoid creating silos of expertise and induce collaboration.  And as the chief people officer of Google (Laszlo Bock) has famously said,  letting the inmates run the asylum works the best!

What is the simple mantra of Success in the corporate world?  Believe it or or not – it’s “Helping others drives success“! Instead of aiming to succeed first and give back later, giving first is a promising path to succeed later!  (But if you do it only to succeed, it probably won’t work.)  This is not an extract from some sermon, but findings by the most highly rated professor from Wharton, USA – Adam Grant.  You actually don’t need to give back – but better give forward. If someone helped you, help someone else.  He also talks about presentation and negotiation. Conventional wisdom tells us that one needs to dominate the conversation, to be assertive, to win an argument. Wrong. If you want to lead someone to your conclusion – you need to do that on their terms! And, instead of dominance, you need to focus on prestige. The motivation has to come from within.

Intuition – don’t we love it when  we seem to know things – but don’t know how we know them? It’s a startling fact that the intuition, or heuristics, often leads us astray. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” shows us that we are often complete strangers to ourselves – and that’s a frightening thought!

Laszlo Bock cites a study in his book where more than 2000 interviews were recorded. The naïve observers were shown the slices from each interview beginning with the interviewee knocking on the door and ending 10 seconds after the interviewee took the seat. Observers provided ratings of employability, competence, intelligence, ambition, trustworthiness, confidence, nervousness, warmth, politeness, likability and expressiveness! For 9 of the 11 variables thin slice judgment correlated significantly with final evaluation of the actual interviewers. is it not scary?  Point is, as Kahneman explains, we constantly make up stories – and then seek evidence to corroborate those stories.

We advise young people to emulate successful people.  Is that good enough?  Remember, successes can’t tell us what not to do!  When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible.  Looking at failures is more important.  Example: Start up companies and venture capitalists.

At the end I shared what Vikas Joshi shared with fellow Harbingers about leadership during our Annual Award event.  Do take this test of leadership.

How do you experience different people around you? Do you pay attention to differences?
Do you know how different people experience you differently? Harder question – as you go higher, mirrors get curved!
How do people experience themselves when they are around you? That’s the hard test of leadership.

Then I invoked Gandhi.

I believe, irrespective of the ideology, Gandhi was the epitome of leadership. Why Gandhi? Imagine – when even a  telephone was a luxury, forget Internet, he had the mass following across the length and breadth of the nation. The way he excelled in the third test was beyond compare. He made every ordinary person feel like a freedom fighter, not just a patriot, through simple acts – be it wearing khadi clothes or walking along the Dandi march.

As someone said – गांधी एक आंधी थी जिससे तिनका भी आकाश चढ गया!

Gandhi was a typhoon, that catapulted even a straw to the sky!

Thank you.

Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

October 2, 2015 at 6:13 am

A poll on my Facebook persona

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I am curious how my Facebook presence is perceived.  I would like my friends – and also those who follow my posts – to respond to this anonymous poll. It may help me mend my ways!


Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

February 22, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Gen Y for the dummies

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Had a good time attending the NASSCOM (Pune) session on Gen Y management.  Here is a brief account of my take-aways.Gen Y

When a senior person goes “When I was your age“, what do you think a Gen Y really wishes to say?  “You know what – you were never my age!“.    When Ganesh Natarajan (Zensar CEO) told this story – it reminded me of the school counselor who told us parents – “You know what – you were never teenagers!

Ganesh went on to claim that the single biggest obstacle in having a harmonious relationship between Gen Y and Gen X is the inability of the Gen X to “let go“.

The Gen X is often left wondering why the Gen Y isn’t excited by the great stuff offered to them.  The catch, according to Prakash Iyer (Kimberley Clark Lever) is –  what is “great” in the eyes of Gen X is hardly so for the Gen Y.  

And then there was Mohit Gundecha (Jombay), a Gen Y himself, who put forth the best advice.

When talking to Gen Y just be 100% transparent.  Give them the advice that is best for them, not for you or the company.  They are just too smart to not understand if you are anything but transparent.  One can’t afford to be reactive with them – you have to be predictive.  Don’t go by what they did in college – it will most probably be (at least in India) not by (their) choice.  So let them do what they want to do.

And then came the killer, that could only be believed because it came from a Gen Y himself.

Don’t think that “command and control” strategy is irrelevant for Gen Y!  The old-fashioned managerial behavior is okay, nay even necessary,  if the context is right.

Anshoo Gaur (Amdocs) declared that Gen X and Gen Y are not different.  He set out to explain, in engineering-speak, that we ought to compare Gen X and Gen Y along two orthogonal axes, viz. “what” and “how“.  On the “what” axis, they are the same, and differ only on “how“.  So, his advice was, identify the invariants (i.e. “what“) – e.g. values, performance – and work on them. Don’t fret over the “how“.

The tail-piece was a story narrated by Ganesh about his conversation with the management Guru (late) C K Pralhad about education in India.  On a Delhi Mumbai flight Ganesh rued about the Indian education system (rote learning et al) and Pralhad shot back – “As a thought leader, never ever think of persuading the Government to change our education system.  If they do that, they would ruin the India story!”  To oversimplify – Pralhad’s rationale was that it doesn’t make sense to be liberal with the youngsters.  The Indian system, that stuffs student’s head with rote learning, is okay – as the students get ample time to ruminate over it later to make sense of it!  Now that’s a kind of shocker, right?

Thank you NASSCOM for a thought provoking, and entertaining, evening!

Disclaimer: This note is my interpretation of what I heard which may or may not be what the concerned speakers meant!

Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

February 27, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Gen Y, talent management, Uncategorized

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