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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cost Effective Weight Loss - For Free :) I Am Not Joking!

I see a lot of IT professionals working out in gym under the able guidance of experts. But, what is pathetic about this is the short lived spirit to workout and bad consequences subsequent to it. Most of the professionals give up in the mid way and so, suffer from side effects like sudden increase in body weight, shapelessness etc. No gym master can help anyone in this regard :)

So, what can we do about it? I always insist my friends not to practise weights in gym and go with natural way of maintaining body. Yes, I mean the same ;) I want them to "Run" and it is not that running is possible only on a treadmill. It is always good to wake up early in the morning before sunset, walk to a park nearby and jog for half an hour preceded by some good old stretches. This will expose us to morning fresh air which is required in a city like Chennai. It also helps you to jog in a natural way, rather than in an artificially air conditioned gym. I am here neither to tell that going to gym is a bad practice nor to tell that gym workouts wouldn't help. I want to emphasise the natural way of maintaining body which would keep us fit in a long term. Even if a professional skips a couple of weeks of exercise, he will not suffer from any side effects and he will see a minimal or no change in his physical appearance and strength.

How Can Chief Minister's Special Cell Solve Your Problem?

The Chief Minister's special cell is a grievance redressal forum open to public. Anyone who is an aggrieved citizen can lodge a grievance online and it is addressed by the authorities swiftly.

Firstly, an aggrieved person has to login to and register with all the necessary details like name, address, date of birth, email, etc, post which he/she will be given a login and password. Once logged in to the portal, he/she can lodge a new complaint. The portal has provisions to track the lodged grievance through a petition number provided at the time of lodging the grievance.

Grievances under various categories like financial assistance, housing, land matters, police, service pension, social injustice etc. can be lodged and get resolved. If it is a genuine grievance, it will be forwarded to the concerned department to take necessary action and subsequently the status of the petition will be changed to 'Approved'.

The advantage of availing this facility is that firstly, an aggrieved person can get in touch with officials sitting in front of a computer at home. Secondly, he/she gets a petition number immediately after submitting the grievance and this number can be quoted for further discussions on the petition with any official. Thirdly, the grievance petition can be tracked and the status can be checked periodically online. Gone are the days when the petitions submitted at the secretariat are missed by officials and a complainant had to wait for years together to get it addressed.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Observing Modi Government

I understand that it is too early to determine the capability of a new government when the cabinet itself has just been enlarged and responsibilities are being assigned, I thought to register some of my observations and things that provoked my thought process.

Firstly, the 'Swachh Bharat' campaign seems to attract, if not significant but a considerable amount of people and it is a welcome step. And yes, it is growing and I think the strategies used to manifest it is working out. I could see a lot of people speak about 'Swachh Bharat' campaign, and getting involved in cleaning activities. I can also see the difference in central government office premises and other public places like railway stations maintained by central government. They are pretty clean than before and most importantly, I saw a shop keeper asking a customer to drop the used coca-cola cans in a dust bin placed at the station. Feels good!

Secondly, the stand of the Indian Government in the world forum in support of subsidies to the poor farmers in the country is a commendable step. It shows the firmness in the government's stand to support the back bone of Indian economy, Agriculture, on which still a significant amount of population depends on. 

What is little scary is the industrial reforms brought by the government. This includes the 'Make In India' campaign and various other measures like the reversal of NPPA's control measures on pricing of 108 medicinal drugs. I see it as a first step towards a quick revival of the already sick Indian economy, but at the same time I am afraid that it should not be achieved at the cost of well being of the people. There is a need for sustainable economic growth and at the same time the development of people in all aspects has to be kept in mind. Let's wait and watch !

Monday, July 21, 2014

English LEArning Programme(ENLEAP)

I have initiated a new Spoken English learning programme for the HOPE Foundation nursery and primary school teachers. In addition to that, three of my students pursuing MCA are also getting trained by the trainer. I call it ENglish LEArning Programme (ENLEAP). Here are some pictures,
Trainer Mr. Janaki Raman training the MCA students

Trainer Mr. Janaki Raman training the teachers in HOPE Foundation

Please support this initiative. Lets be a socially responsible and enlightened citizen of India!!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Golden Mean

Recently I have come across a reading comprehension passage in “Trishna’s Supercourse in English Language Comprehension and Reading comprehension” book. It reiterated what mybrainstock was emphasising as one of the important traits of leadership. It is nothing but the “Balance Factor”. If you are confused about what I am talking about, then read my article on “Balance Factor” before going ahead.

Now, I will share you the passage given in the book which talks about the “Golden Mean”, which is similar to what we call “Balance Factor”

“The chief condition of happiness of man, barring certain physical pre-requisites, is the life of reason. Virtue or excellence will depend on clear judgement, self-control, symmetry of desire, artistry of means; it is not the possession of simple man, nor the gift of the innocent but the achievement of fully developed man. Yet there is a road to it, a guide to excellence, which may save many detours and delays; it is the middle way, the golden mean. The qualities of character can be arranged in triads in each of which the first and the last qualities will be extremes and vices, the middle quality a virtue or an excellence. So, between cowardice and rashness is courage, between humility and pride is modesty.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How To Record Your Voice In MacBook

Mac OS X is bundled with a cool feature of recording your voice with ease and converting it to your desired format.

To record your voice,

1. Launch QuickTime player from LaunchPad.
2. Select File -> New Audio Recording
3. Click the Record button (Red circle) to start recording your voice.
4. I am using MacBook Pro with Retina Display and in this Mac I don't need an external microphone to record my voice. Mac has an inbuilt microphone doing the job for you
5. It is also smart enough to minimise the noise and distortions around you.
6. Once you complete recording, click on the Stop button (Green square button).
7. Go to File -> Save and save the file at your desired location.

How To Convert A Pages File To MS Word, PDF or ePUB File In MacBook Pro

I am always delighted to work on my MacBook Pro and amazed on the power of Mac OS X. One of the cool features of Mac OS X ( I am using Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks) is the conversion of a 'Pages' file created in Mac to be converted to a Word, PDF or ePUB file. It is like a cake walk in Mac.

Here are the steps,

1. Create a New Document in Pages
2. Type the content
3. Click File -> Export To
4. Select your desired format.
5. Select the quality if applicable.
6. Click Next and choose the place to save your file in the desired name.
7. Click 'Export' and that's it

Enjoy using Mac!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Leadership Lessons From Election Commission Of India

May it be banning prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's rally, or sending notice to Kejriwal for violating model code of conduct during the Lok Sabha election 2014, or the nation-wide vehicle check before the elections or the smooth elections , the Election Commission of India have set an example for an efficient body of integrity. Every leader has to understand that, no one in this world is without a boss sitting on top of him to screw him. A student is under a school teacher, a school teacher is under a principal and he is under a correspondent, and it goes on. Even you may be a CEO of a company, still someone will be there to make you bend.

You may dream of going to the top of everyone and change the world and make it the way you want, but remember, someone will always be there on top to put a roadblock to your decisions. So, you cannot wait till you go to the top. Everyday, you need to fight for justice being a man or woman of integrity. The Election Commission of India, though under high pressure, discharged its duty efficiently and courageously. I am not going to argue if the decisions are right or wrong, but I want to highlight the bravery, non-partisanship and integrity, in spite of high pressure.  

Being a leader, this is the lesson, we need to learn from the constitutional body. A leader should not lack confidence, he should not loose heart at the time of adverse situations, he should maintain integrity in times of opposing pressure, he should be equanimous and calm. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

How to Cut An Audio File And Convert To MP3 File In MacBook

Mac Book is loaded with a number of tools and softwares so that you don't need to go out and search for one breaking your head. One such solution to a common problem is the ability of to cut and convert an audio file to a desired format.

Here are the steps,

1. Lauch QuickTime Player from LaunchPad.
2. Drag and drop the desired audio file on the Quick Time player icon on the dock.
3. Press command+T.
4. Drag the yellow bar and choose your desired part of the song. Verify once if it is unto your expectations.
5. Click 'Trim'
6. Click File - > Export To -> iTunes
7. Go to iTunes and click iTunes -> Preferences -> General Tab
8. Click 'Import Setting' button and make sure 'MP3 Encoder' is selected in the 'Import Using' drop down.
9. Click OK in this box and the parent box.
10. Now, right click the trimmed song imported in iTunes and select "create MP3 version".
11. You would see a copy getting created in iTunes itself.
12. Copy it using command+C and paste it in your desired folder using command+V.
13. Thats all. Your trimmed MP3 is ready without even downloading an MP3 convertor or similar software

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fundamental Duties Of An Indian Citizen

Part IV A (Article 51 A)
Fundamental Duties
Fundamental Duties – It shall be the duty of every citizen of India —

(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;

(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;

(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;

(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;

(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;

(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;

(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;

(h) to develop the scientific temper,humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;

(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement;

(k) who is a parent or guardian, to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years

Courtesy: Physics Part-I, 12th Standard, NCERT.

How Corporate Social Responsibility Can Promote Inclusive Growth

Corporate Social Responsibility is the buzz word in corporate world these days. In India, corporate employees voluntarily visit various organisations and engage in different kinds of activities in developing the community. This includes, working with NGOs like HOPE Foundation, Dr. Reddy Foundation etc for soft skills development of the children and youth in the education centres established by these NGOs, working with NGOs for imparting vocational skills to women to promote self-employment, and visiting NGOs to conduct various workshops to closely engage with underprivileged children to motivate them and help them choose a better career and grow in their life.

Persuasive Engagement Helps The Community Grow Better

The most important impact of this engagement of volunteers from corporate with NGOs is of cultural and educational impact. Children and youth in these NGOs interact with the intellectuals and hence get the benefitted out of discussing about the volunteers’ educational background and professional experiences. Professionals promote by narrating their own stories and the hardship they faced in reaching where they are now. This helps in boosting up the confidence of the children who are often not so confident. This helps the children set their goals better. For example, when I interacted with one of the students in HOPE Foundation computer centre, I asked, “What is your goal?”. He replied, “I am working as a bike mechanic and I wish I would set up my own mechanic shop”. What’s wrong in that? Yes, there is something wrong. He is studying 11th standard and is irrelevant to his aspirations. He doesn't have confidence in pursuing higher studies because of financial instability. But, he is not the only person in India facing such a situation. How do those get their degrees? Questions like this have answers and these answers can be said by those intellectuals to these ignorant children and help them grow in their career. In economics, we have something called, “Underemployment”, which happens when a person with high capability doing a work which actually requires very less capability compared to his.

Quality Of Education

There are a lot of criticism regarding the quality of school education in India. Instead of just criticising it, I would urge the intelligentsia to contribute in improving the quality of education. There are organisations like “Teach For India” doing a good job in this area. The scholars and professionals in India should get themselves wet by jumping into this less focussed area. It is this community which helped us to reach where we are today. It is the duty of every citizen of India to give back to the community!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Persuading Skill: 4 Steps To Master The Art Of Convincing People

May it be an interview, product marketing, bargaining, conflict resolution in family, persuading to pacify agitated insurgents in public places and what not! Convincing people is an art, which needs to be acquired through continuous practice and experience. But, it is not very difficult as it seems to be. Let’s see how this can be acquired through four simple steps.

Knowledge is the bedrock:

Knowledge is power, as the cliche goes. First and the most important quality required by a persuader is the knowledge about the subject on which the argument takes place. The pros and cons of the subject need to be known to the persuader. If a seller wants to persuade a customer to buy a product in his/her store, it is essential that the seller has to have a complete knowledge about the products so that the seller helps the customer to choose the product which best suits the expectation of the customer. A customer bargaining for a product should know the market value of the product and the rate of the product across various other locations, which would help win a better deal. An IAS officer, convincing the agitated farmers should be aware of the schemes announced by the government for the farmers so that they become instrumental in convincing them.

Effective Communication Skill:

Secondly, the persuader needs to have effective communication skills to convey the message unambiguously. Proficient verbal and non verbal skills, demonstrating involvement and energy towards the subject of persuasion will help in winning the attention of the receiver. A good communication skill coupled with the energy can do wonders!

Patience And Control:

At times, the persuasion may not go in the right direction and this is the time for the persuader to have control over his mind and bring the horse back on track. The receiver might get annoyed or tensed as a result of continuous persuasion. The persuader needs to recognise this change and immediately react to it by pacifying the situation and facilitating the opposite party for a healthy discussion.

Understand the Problem And Find a Convincing Solution:

Finally, the most important trait comes here! The persuader has to be capable of proactively understanding the problem of the receiver and help him/her find a solution. When we go to a shop, the seller on seeing us, guesses certain facts about our lifestyle and necessities, and proactively lists out all possible products for us, which would suit our lifestyle. This would definitely make a customer happy and there is more likely a chance of a conversion there. An employer convincing an employee in an exit interview, needs to understand the personal and professional aspirations of the employee and offer him/her various options to achieve those aspirations, so that there is more likely the employee takes back his resignation. 

Knowledge plays an important role in implementing this in practice. In the case of an exit interview mentioned above, the employer, not only needs to understand the aspirations of the employee and the real issue which made the employee to take this big decision of moving out of the company, but also needs to have knowledge about the instruments offered by the company to persuade an outgoing employee and also the policies that govern those instruments, to utilise them to convince an outgoing employee. Unless otherwise, the employer would fail in his attempt.

After all, it all works out of a simple logic of understanding each other and solving each others’ problems, thereby leading to a win-win situation for both the parties.

Effective Communication Skill: It Is NOT About Showcasing Verbal Skills!

Many a time, communication skill is misinterpreted, as command over a language like English. But, effective communication is not about proficiency in a language but, about how a thought conceived in mind is effectively conveyed to the receiver, irrespective of the language or mode of communication.

Not About Showcasing Verbal Skills:

Often people try to showcase their command over language in English without even recognising the proficiency level of the receiver or the person to whom they communicate. This often leads to a bad impression in the mind of the receiver, thus conveying a wrong message to the receiver, about the sender, even if it was not intentional. For instance, in a workplace, people communicate in a regional language, unintentionally without even knowing whether the opposite person understands it.

Effective Communication:

A communication is said to be effective only if the message is unambiguously conveyed to the intended receiver through any mode of communication, which may be verbal or non-verbal. Being polite, recognising and respecting the skills and abilities of the receiver before communicating will make one an effective communicator. If the receiver knows Tamil better than English, it is better to communicate in Tamil rather than english, so that the actual intention of, conveying the message unambiguous, is achieved. If a person is proficient in understanding non-verbal communication, then better to go ahead with it.

A Secret To Win Hearts:

One more important trait of a leader is to communicate in a proper pace. I have seen people speaking very fast, which cannot be understood by the intended receiver. In this case, the actual intention of conveying the message to the receiver is not achieved. A mere showcase of command over a language will not help! One has to understand the pace of the receiver and has to speak accordingly. If he/she speaks soft, it is better to convey in a soft voice. If he/she is capable of interpreting the statements quicker, the message can be conveyed so.

Put yourself in the receiver’s shoes and see what you would have expected from a person communicating to you! Do that to him! It is as simple as that!

Friday, May 2, 2014

NCERT Books Will Help You To Become A "Well Educated" Person

There are lots of criticism encircling the Indian education system. It is said that the students are not well equipped to handle the practical problems of life. But, we should also remember that criticism should be a well-informed one. We should remember that the Indian Government is taking necessary steps to mitigate this problem and make sure that Indians are well educated with proper understanding of the subjects with a proper knowledge of reality.
"National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is an autonomous organization set up in 1961 by the Government of India to assist and advise the Central and State Governments on policies and programmes for qualitative improvement in school education"
NCERT books are of school level and they offer a strong basic knowledge of every major subject like English, Maths, Science, Social Science, Psychology, Sociology, Economics etc. I highly recommend these books for you and your children. Everybody, irrespective of their age can read these books, which are available for free download from NCERT website. These books helps in developing a "well-educated" individual and thus become a better leader and contributor for the nation's economic development.

How NCERT Books Help Understand Newspaper:

As NCERT books teaches the basics of major subjects, it will help in understanding various jargons in the newspaper and makes one a better reader. This will help in enhancing the general knowledge and social awareness. So, please download these books from the following link and fine tune your skills to make better decisions being the best leader!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Decision Making: Objective Vs Subjective

Decision making becomes an essential trait as one grows in his personal and professional life. It is this quality which differentiates an individual from the rest of his/her peers. The more the scope of the consequences of a decision, the more analysis required before making such a decision. Right from an individual, who chooses the food he eats to a prime minister or a president, who runs a country, decisions made are going to affect not only him, but also many other people. For example, in India and most other countries, the decisions made by a head of a family, affects the entire family and the way which they live and grow. He/She has to make a lot of decisions on various issues of his/her family like place to live, in which a lot of factors have to be considered, namely clean environment, water facility, educated neighbours around them for the children to grow, availability of medical facilities etc.  Similarly, consequences of a decision made by a prime minister or a president are going to impact the entire country. For example, employment programmes like MGNREGA, infrastructure programmes like PMGSY, etc. A manager of India Inc, needs to assess his people on an annual basis which is going to affect the career of all his sub ordinates. So, he needs to be very careful in his assessment and produce an accurate report.

How Decisions Might Go Wrong?

Having said that, then how to make a better decision, considering all the factors and make sure to save the dependents from the negative consequences of a bad decision? It can be achieved by making Objective decisions rather that Subjective decisions.

Objective Vs Subjective Decision Making:

I think this can be better explained by taking India Inc, i.e.., the Indian Industries and the performance assessment done in those work places. 

Everyone of us come from a different geographical and cultural background. In a workplace, one may be from Tamil Nadu, the other may be from Bihar and one more could be from Rajasthan or Arunachal Pradesh. Each one of them would be influenced by the society in which they were brought up, the cultural values that were imparted to them, the virtues acquired through one's own experiences by interacting with the society. All these would have made him a person who would be posted as a manager in a company and there is more likely that these factors might influence his decisions in the performance assessment of his subordinates which might result in a so called "Subjective" decision making. For example, if a subordinate is more vocal and tries to show his visibility to the team and to the management, it does not mean that he is a better performer. If his manager is influenced by a preconceived thought that "All People who are vocal and confident are good performers", then there is more likely a chance that a poor performer moving up his career quicker than a good performer, just because he is able to deceive people by pretending to be a smart worker.

On the other hand, if the manager is not influenced by all those factors and he is strict and impartial in his decisions, then he would analyse the records of each and every sub ordinate like, the number of  problems solved by him in the project and various other records, which prove his contributions beneficial to the project and the whole team. A well informed and judicious decision has to be made by the manager considering all such factors, with a clean statistics. This approach is called "Objective" decision making.

This not only applies to industries, but also to each and every one of us, even in our personal lives. If you want to buy a mobile phone, do not buy it just because your friend bought it! Do a proper analysis and make sure it is worth your money!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The 'Balance' Factor Again

The Balance factor has again come to my mind. It may be any problem you face in your life, it is this balance factor which will help you to solve it without a compromise. If an approach is at any extremes, it will never survive the tides of change. Too strict or too lenient towards your employee will hamper the productivity. You can neither accept nor reject everything from your employer which will put you in depression or bring you a pink slip. You know the balance to handle your child. Unless it is a balanced approach, he/she will become notorious.