Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Unknown Citizen

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in a hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

From Another Time by W. H. Auden, published by Random House.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Queen’s English molested in Sarkari Babudom…

Don’t get shocked by my choice of verb in the title of this post …believe me, I mean it! This morning on our way to office we were discussing the kind of leave applications and office notes we receive from our sections …and we found that an outsider may find it nothing less then sleaze if he gets to read the stuff. To start on an innocent note, one fine morning I got a leave application where the reason for taking leave was “Marriage of self with sibling” (Actually the person and his sister were getting married on the same day) . In another instance a collegue got a leave application where the applicant writes that “As per doctors prescription, my wife is to be delivered on 2nd of next month and my presence is required in the hospital.”
If this is not bad enough there is a tongue’n cheek case from one of the north eastern Accountant General’s office where the Dy.AG (Admin) received an application for paternity leave stating “ By the grace of God and Accountant General , my wife has delivered a child last Sunday and my presence is now required at home….” .The DAG with his wacky sense of humour marked the application to AG by noting “Since the Accountant General seems to be involved , he may like to see and sanction the leave .” The AG replied back on the file “ I don’t know about God but I have nothing to do with the incident.The leave, however, may be sanctioned.”

Don’t think that the leave applications are the only source of our entertainment in the otherwise boring government offices. Recently some elderly women (16 in number) in a sister office got in some sort of argument with the in-charge of administration section and accused him of “outraging their modesty by making obscene gestures and postures” . The matter came for inquiry before the Dy.AG who wondered how the accused managed to perform the seemingly impossible feat of “outraging the modesty” of 16 women in a crowded section of government office in one single afternoon . But thanks to the strict guidelines against sexual harassment at workplace, the matter was immediately taken up. During investigation it came out that the obscene gesture was pointing finger to them saying “Get out” and the obscene posture was to remain seated while talking to the ladies. Well, the case was subsequently dismissed with a warning to the ladies for minding their language.

Now now now…. if you feel this is the height of it ..just wait till you hear the next case. Things are getting murkier and murkier around us the same office and incidentally in the same section( administration) there is an Assistant Audit Officer who is responsible for liaison work with different agencies . This person has to call the various agencies on phone , write letters and meet the concerned authorities, if required . In his wisdom to distinguish between the telephonic conversation and meeting face to face , he uses some interesting English. E.g. if asked to meet his counterpart in a sister office , he will write –“ As directed by higher authorities, physical contact was made with the Sr. Audit Officer in MAB office but no fruitful result came out of it.” The other day to explain his efforts for getting a telephone repaired this gentleman reports on file “ Repeated physical contacts were made for last three days by the undersigned and his assistant shri….with the Telephone complaint officer and his staff, but to no satisfaction . However, efforts are on and if required, physical contact will be made with the higher officials as well.”
After reading this note the Dy.AG (Admn) who was also the one who conducted inquiry for “outraging of modesty case” just commented that - Sr. AO (Admn)..who was charged for outraging modesty of 16 women , has got an assistant he deserves!” ( well, of course not on file)

Did I just hear Lord Macaulay turning in his grave?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ambition and trying something new

If you want something you never had, do something you have never done.

Don't go the way life takes you.Take the life the way you go. And remember you are born to live and not living because you are born.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

PCs and the Office Management

A very senior colleague recently announced proudly during a meeting that in his house every member has his/her own PC …not only that they have few PCs extra to provide to the guests or servants too. I was amazed. He looks like a very simple person –known for his wit and repartee but never for his extravagant lifestyle. Then, he clarified that PC here stands not for Personal Computer but for Personal Cats. He has a total of 9 pet cats and the group being an assortment of male and females in future also they will never fall short in number of PCs in their home.

You may find it amusing but these days my office is also contemplating seriously for getting some PCs- personal CATs . In our Disaster Management Committee meetings a long pending topic is of –menace created by Rats in the office. Yes, the building where my office is situated is an old one- in fact a very old heritage building- despite all modernization of the interiors , there are enough ways for the rats to enter and damage the properties. An authoritative official source in my office informs that rats love mouse- now, don’t tell me that’s basic affinity to their own clan for I am talking about computer mouse . In my office rats love to cut the mouse wires. Server, PBX and other important systems are other favorite targets . So typically one monday morning we will find that intranet is off or PBX is non-functional for rats had some weekend feast on the wires. Administration tried everything from rat traps to poison but none of these provide permanent relief from the rat –menace . They will invariably turn up again after a while and claim their right on our office property. Generations of their tribe have flourished eating our glorious audit reports and files and they have no intention of depriving their little ones from this cherished practice – from continuing this old tradition. (At times I wonder if these mice are the only creatures putting our reports to some use.)
So during one such discussion we though of all hi-fi ways of dealing with rats – someone suggested vibrating music (some special frequency which only rats can catch) others thought of rat-pads, but for some or the other reason all of these were rejected. Then my boss (owner of a PC himself) gave the wise suggestion of having some cats in the office and let the nature’s law manage the rest. Well, coming from boss the decision was naturally welcomed but then can you imagine a group of government officials agreeing to something simple and common- sensical solution instantly. So very politely few doubts were raised viz. who will feed the cats, who will be responsible for them, will it not start a Cat-menace in office ? What about their cleanliness and hygiene? Since the questions were raised earnestly, someone was asked to “explore the feasibility” of the idea and it was taken into the minutes of the meeting and the discussion ended at that note .
The other morning, I and my colleague (in-charge of office administration) on our way to office , were discussing this new meaning of PCs and their potential role in office management. He suggested that each section in office should be given a PC(personal cat) and the rat-jurisdiction of the cat should be defined within that section only . At this point another colleague from a sister office chipped in saying that what if one sectional cat encroach on another cats area? What if there are consequent cat-fights ? Well, cats unlike office employees will not be governed by any conduct rules nor disciplinary action can be initiated against them. He jokingly asked if our office is going to make a set of rules for these cats too. Unfettered by these remarks, in true bureaucratic manner two of us replied in chorus that the solution is simple -- We will transfer the guilty cat to Andamans Branch office or Farakka RAO on a punishment posting . Howzzzat !
Though this was said in lighter spirit don’t get surprised if one day you actually find such a proposal come true . In government and in fiction- anything is possible .

FEEDBACK: I just got some feedback on this post from a friend . Since it has come in an email let me post it here -

" well there is a more radical solution...a PS* for each section..because in respect of accesibility to the rats PS scores over PC and PS management is relatively fact they dont need any management at all.they may also help in eliminating some bigger rats(within each section) who are eating into the Audit institutuion itself (mouse to choti si pyari se cheez hai).......yeh bhi kaam nahi kiya to PP** ko bulate hain aur kehte hai ki Rat ke saath UN Bigger rats ko bhi le jayen...Ganges tak"

*Personal Snake(of the rat eating family)

**Pied Piper

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A Healthy Disregard for Anything Impossible!

I loved Google from the day I used I for the first time. It was definitely love at first search….I was amazed at the simplicity of the idea. At that time , I knew nothing about how a search engine works, who are the founders of Google and how do they sustain themselves financially …..To my eyes , this search engine was nothing less than a social service to the internet users . Well, I am much more knowledgeable about Larry page and Sergey Brin and about goggling in general now . There are numerous sites, forums, chat rooms, communities, blogs dedicated to Google and for quite some time now, Knowledge about Google –the firm and the people behind it is brought out of Googleplex( HQ of Google ) .
Last night I was reading “ The Google story” by David Vice . I want to write about the philosophy with which Google works….In the book Vice narrates that once in Isreal while telling the story of the beginnings of Google to his raving fans, Larry Page said...
"Optimism is important. You have to be a little silly about the goals you are going to set. There is a phrase I learned in college called, 'having a healthy disregard for the impossible.' That is a really good phrase. You should try to do things that most people would not do."

Its so simple…and yet so fantastic .Very much like Google itself. the most striking thing about Google is their simple interface and their motto of "you can earn without any evil". I am reading the Google history since this morning and found this very inspiring piece of info on “ Ten things Google has found to be true” . You need not be an entrepreneur to realize the truth in these 10 commandments Google followed . Here they are:

1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.

2. It's best to do one thing really, really well.

3. Fast is better than slow.

4. Democracy on the web works.

5. You don't need to be at your desk to need an answer.

6. You can make money without doing evil.

7. There's always more information out there.

8. The need for information crosses all borders.

9. You can be serious without a suit.

10. Great just isn't good enough.

For Details on these 10 things Check out this link

So keep Googling ...and enjoy their wide range of new services (including this blog service ).As they themself agree-" Over time we've expanded our view of the range of services we can offer –- web search, for instance, isn't the only way for people to access or use information -– and products that then seemed unlikely are now key aspects of our portfolio. This doesn't mean we've changed our core mission; just that the farther we travel toward achieving it, the more those blurry objects on the horizon come into sharper focus (to be replaced, of course, by more blurry objects)." So what is your take on this for me , I just want to say WOW.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be."

- William Hazelitt

Monday, March 5, 2007

Chilling ,Horrible and yet so moving...

This is 1963. Thich Quang Duc, the Buddhist priest in Southern Vietnam, burns himself to death protesting the government's torture policy against priests. Thich Quang Dug never made a sound or moved while he was burning. !! ]