Sunday 26 February 2006

Maverick v/s Method - Heartfelt

This happens to be one of the most powerful cover stories that i've read in recent times. Can't help but share it with you'll


The Heart of the Matter


Rahul Bhattacharya reflects on the most fascinating Indian cricketer of our time


Love him or hate him, you just can't ignore Sourav Ganguly


At some stage, hard to say when, Sourav Ganguly no longer remained a cricketer and turned into a folk hero and a folk villain. Averages and the rest came into it but with Ganguly things became a matter of convictions of the soul. Anything he did or did not do could provoke an outcry. Everything that was done to him or not done to him could provoke an outcry. Ganguly issues took the form of movements. In many ways he is the cricketer-phenomenon in India's modern pop culture.

A year of sustained chaos, encompassing several riots, numerous u-turns and countless epitaphs, has now led to a predicament of superb absurdity. In a recent column the satirist Jug Suraiya was badgered by his partner to attend yet another festive-season party. "You'll meet lots of interesting people," he protests. "I'll end up as always like a spare Sourav; present and accounted for, but no one quite knows what's to be done with him." Indeed, no one quite knows.

The Ganguly situation is impossible. No answer is a solution, not even the one of respectfully putting him out to pasture, because he isn't going, and if he isn't going he is almost certain to be back. No, the situation must resolve itself and the rest is commentary. The fashion is to be exasperated, if not disgusted, by the whole affair. Personally I'm not tired of it. Not in the least. I'd be lying if I say I'm not fascinated: as human dramas go, there's too much in it.

And the situation could not be what it is were Ganguly not what he is. On braving my surname and referring to Ganguly as the most fascinating Indian cricketer of his generation in a recent article, I was ticked off by a reader: "I am sure no person, living or dead, on earth outside people of Bengali origin thinks that Ganguly comes anywhere close to being one of the most fascinating cricketers, let alone being `the most'." Another put it more succinctly: "A f***ing Bong standing up for another f***ing Bong."

Never mind the enlightened. The reactions Ganguly evokes comprise a phenomenon broader than Bengali parochialism. Cricinfo.com's diarist Siddhartha Vaidyanathan reported from Pakistan that the first thing locals asked him after the khatirdaari was about Ganguly. They were unhappy with the treatment meted out to him. They related to his naked passion. In one way or another Ganguly speaks to watchers. At once he compels you to assume both the best and worst about him; at once he can prove you both right and wrong. In short, he makes you feel. I have not spent quite so much time discussing, debating, any other cricketer. What is it about him?


I suppose Ganguly came to symbolise individualism and rebellion. Individualism in that he was given to flouting norms, yes, but also in the way he could not be bothered about members fitting into or giving energy to the group. To him match-winning talent was match-winning talent and that was that. Type was important: the brasher the better. In his book Aakash Chopra and Mohammad Kaif were meant for walk-on parts and Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh for glory. This could not be scoffed at because, as much as the attitude may have bred hubris, at the time the team was being built there exuded from it a rawness of belief that was both effective and appealing.

A journalist recalls being phoned by Ganguly to watch a youngster in a first-class game that was being televised. "Aap is ladke ko dekho. Badaa khilaadi hoga yeh. Mujhe khilaana hai. (Watch this boy. He is going to be a big player. I want to pick him right away.)" A few months on, Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashed 148 against Pakistan from No. 3. One player put it this way: "If you capture Dadi's imagination, he will do anything for you." And vice-versa, for once he'd captured Dadi's imagination the player too would do for anything for Dadi. Yuvraj on his first comeback to the team was quoted saying: "I'm ready to die for such a captain." Harbhajan's unstinting support can in some way be understood in light of the fact that, feeling defeated by disciplinary issues, the chucking saga, an ordinary international track record, and economic pressure at home, he was contemplating moving to the US to drive trucks for a living at the time Ganguly fought for his selection.

Generally Ganguly fostered angry or reckless young men. To him "good behaviour", a broad term espoused by the present team management, belonged in school and probably not even there. He himself had been summoned to the match referee no less than 12 times in the last decade. His approach was bound to precipitate what could possibly be termed a cultural conflict in the world of modern sport. For Ganguly, like for Arjuna Ranatunga, competitiveness involved brinksmanship rather than training. As far as they were concerned Australia were not to be aspired to. They were simply to be toppled. England were not to be appeased. Victory lay precisely in their disapproval. In other words, Ganguly and Ranatunga wanted to do things their way. Both carried a resonance of the anti-colonial rather than that of the savvy global sports professional of the age (in Pakistan, Ganguly blithely sported an oversized beanie bearing a logo of the wrong corporate). If it was limiting it was also inspiring. And it invited, from Western observers especially, a ludicrous mix of suspicion, ridicule and condemnation. Much more easy to be gracious about well-mannered fellows who toe the line.

So far so good. Ganguly quenched the thirst for individualism, which is an essential allure of sport; he had an effect on young players and followers similar to that of a rock concert, and all the while kept a successful team together thanks also to a wonderful set of seniors and a fine coach.

And yet, after a point every day for him became a day of decay: the uncorrected technical errors, the sinking fitness levels, the sagging fielding, the jaded tactics, the lowering of standards for himself and by extension for the entire side - not least the gifted youngsters over whom he had so much influence. Finally, his almost politician-like desperation to hold on to power manifested itself in an insecurity - or was it the other way round? - that tore away at the very fabric of the team.

The deterioration looked all the more stark because of the contrast with that most outstanding of cricketers, and Ganguly's exact contemporary and heir, Rahul Dravid. Simply, Dravid built himself on stronger foundations. Ganguly batted pretty as a butterfly but, distracted, found himself blown away by the winds of high pace. Dravid opened up once his base was sufficiently secure. When it came down to it, Dravid had the rigour to last. Likewise, where Ganguly the leader powered on bare-chested with the belief that with flair on his side nothing was impossible, Dravid appreciates that any group must have the safety net of work ethic, discipline, punctuality, enthusiasm - the finer things. Dravid's brand of risk-taking is more cerebral. With Ganguly there was always the element of danger, of losing it all. Ganguly was not about systems and processes. Ganguly was about whims and instincts. This was the thrill, and a great thrill. But I suppose when you're losing, the thrill is gone.

***

Personally, commenting on the Ganguly situation has been challenging because it involves a tussle between the heart, which wants the individual, the rebel, to beat the odds and win, and the mind, which cannot help but log the slow, sad decline. Then the watcher and the journalist in you battle and they can be, but are not in every instance, the same.

Besides, this was a situation like no other. The more I dwelled on the issue the more I stopped dwelling on the rights and wrongs (there were so many that there weren't any) and the merits of the case (which became too tiresome). They didn't matter so much either. Simply, I just wanted to see how it would unfold on a human level.

I suppose in effect I was choosing the simple intimacy of the watcher to the powerful insider-ness of the journalist. I couldn't see why a nebulous "what's best for the team" should become a pamphleteering cause with me - that was merely a parameter to be considered while trying to pass honest judgement on the actions of the men responsible. Beyond that it was neither my duty nor my inclination and I felt foolish for harbouring any guilt in this respect. At a deeply personal level it did not matter a great deal to me whether India became the next Australia or not. Cricket was at once a massive joke and the most significant human theatre and all the joy ultimately came from the universal stuff and would be fulfilling regardless. And banging on either way missed the most crucial point of sport - that we really don't know what's going to come.

It was with this sense of freedom that a colleague and I jumped on to a spontaneous train to Rajkot on the eve of a Duleep Trophy fixture in which Ganguly would need to prove his form and fitness. It felt like something special might happen, and it did. On a municipal ground, in an environment so anti-climactic that it was melodramatic, the soon-to-be-deposed Indian Test captain hit a rousing century. It was lovely to watch, not so much because of his strokes, some of which were indeed vintage, but because of all the other layers to it.

That evening I met Ganguly at his hotel. I was apprehensive. I had written critical articles about him over the past few months and these things have a way of getting around, often in exaggerated form. I had nothing specific to ask him. I only wanted to try and gauge what he might be thinking, how he might be reacting to the uniqueness of his dilemma.


There was an air of complete serenity about him, heightened because he was initially sitting on a swing in an open courtyard. He looked the perfect bhadralok: crisp white kurta pyjama, hair neatly parted, thin-rimmed spectacles.

It was an easy, enjoyable, and in some ways warm, conversation. Broadly, three things were striking. One was that retirement was very far from his mind; how others might like to remember him seemed to be their own business. Another was his sense of hurt about allegations of "divide and rule". But the most remarkable was his aura of calm. His family members would later tell The Hindustan Times that he has always been so, that he had never ever lost his cool off the cricket field, that nothing ever fazes him. He himself would say that he believed in destiny and expected to be playing the World Cup of 2007. In that short little meeting I could appreciate more properly than ever before the temperament of a man who at any moment of time has more knives at his back and more garlands at his face than a cabinet of ministers.

A week on, Ganguly was dropped from the one-day squad altogether. Then stripped of Test captaincy, then deemed a Test allrounder, then... you know the story.

The most revealing moment came in the response to his being dropped after the Delhi Test against Sri Lanka. He could have retired right then a saint, all sins forgotten. The man who a few months ago was among the most reviled in the land now had the undiluted support of the nation. It was extraordinary that he would pass up the opportunity and choose instead to put himself and the team under so much pressure and run the risk even of humiliation - were he to return and flop. As ever he left you grappling with mixed feelings: to admire his self-belief or to dismiss him as delusional? What to make of such a man?

And so there he was in Lahore in India's first Test of the new year. He probably should not have been playing at all. Despite the denials to the contrary, it is learnt that his inclusion in the touring party had more to do with the wishes of authorities other than the selectors and the team management.

Late on the second afternoon: Pakistan 668 for 6, India wilting. Ganguly had just made an impressive dive at the boundary. Now a high ball swirled above his head. An initial misjudgement, frantic back-tracking, a final, flailing leap, a one-handed catch both spectacular and comic, a slow-motion backward roll on hitting the ground, and off like a bomb upon regaining poise, injecting humour and spirit into a weary side. It felt like he was one of the boys again. Even Greg Chappell smiled. It was by a distance the most contagious moment of the game. He did not bat a single ball and humbly carried drinks in the next Test.

He was back again for the final match. He made 34, 37, and two errors which were each to be - as luck would have it, and since this story has a strain of tragedy running through it - his only error of each innings. Both times the team required a big score and in the final analysis these were a pair of letdowns. Still it was not an illusion: he indeed batted beautifully, more fluently than any other Indian in the match and as fluently as he had ever done in his career. Few could have expected it. Among those few was Ganguly.

Two days later he flew back home as Dravid turned his mind to the upcoming one-dayers and, some part of it no doubt, to the batting order for the next Test series. And that's where the Sourav Ganguly saga rested at the last opportunity to update.

Talent Management eh?

I was googling on Talent Management as a management concept and came across this highly interesting read by an HR Professional...

On Leadership: Want leaders? Look for talent management

By Albert A. Vicere

For years, experts have been pointing to a crisis in leadership. But this isn't a crisis of accountability; it's a crisis of availability. We're running short of leaders.

Consider this: A Business Wire survey found that 20 percent of the senior executives in Fortune 500 companies were qualified to retire in 2003. A survey of large companies conducted by RHR associates found that half the respondents expected to lose more than half of their current senior management team by 2010. And a recent study by Executive Development Associates found that 70 percent of the responding companies cited a lack of leadership bench strength as a major corporate challenge.

Companies finally have begun to address the issue, acknowledging leadership talent shortages and making leadership development a top priority. But most express concern that the leadership talent gap is one of corporate America's biggest challenges.

Certainly, demographics are at the heart of the challenge -- baby boomers are retiring in droves, and they need to be replaced. But new employee expectations and the complexity of global leadership make that challenge enormously complex.

What companies need is a focused, intensive set of processes to expand and develop their pool of leadership talent. And they need to get those processes in place now if they have any hope of filling their leadership talent gap.

What's needed, according to Eileen Antonucci, executive vice president for Executive Talent Management Systems at EDA, are integrated approaches to talent management and leadership development. She notes that at the best companies, "talent is viewed as a key strategic resource for achieving business objectives and is never taken for granted."

Antonucci went on to note that high performing companies have well-developed talent management systems "driven by a deep and detailed understanding of the organization's business goals and the talent needed to get there."

Human resources guru Dave Ulrich has written extensively on what it takes to build what he calls organizational capability, the ability to develop business strategies and execute them. He contends that the essence of organizational capability is a tight link between business objectives and organizational processes for selecting, developing, appraising and rewarding people. In short, they need talent management systems.

Antonucci couldn't agree more, saying: "Talent management systems do not leave key factors to chance. The organization carefully develops a distinct 'employer brand' to attract talent, thinks through how work is organized and its impact on issues such as employee satisfaction and retention. A talent management system is part of the fabric of the organization."

But effective talent management requires a perspective that goes both ways. Said Antonucci: "Organizations need to know what kinds of talent they need to achieve their goals. For example, what are the knowledge and skills employees need based on our business outcomes? But they also need to know the needs and expectations of their employees. What will engage and motivate employees? What will attract them to our organization? What will keep them here?"

What are the characteristics of a good talent management system? Antonucci outlined three simple traits. First, there is ownership and involvement across the whole company, not just with the human resource management department. Second, business objectives permeate every aspect of the system from employer branding to appraisal through development. Third, the system is measured in real business terms and results are acted upon.

And the measures of an effective talent management system? It comes down to whether a company has the talent needed to execute its business strategy. And the signs of a faltering system are readily apparent: failing to meet business targets or objectives; shortages of key talent; talent management a low corporate priority; employee morale and satisfaction on the wane; problems recruiting employees; problems retaining employees; a tarnished employment brand.

With the steady departure of baby boomers from leadership ranks and the demand for talent more intense than ever, companies should heed the siren of talent management. The crisis of leadership availability is no longer looming on the horizon. It's here. Talent management processes are crucial to meeting the challenge.

Thursday 9 February 2006

Unmaad

Intoxication ... High on Life ... Trance ... Adrenaline Rush ... Unmaaad

The concept of relentless energy has intruiged me ever since i was in school.
In school i used to flaunt about my ability to stay up late hours and then attend school .. go through the entire draining day at schoool .. attend class... come back and do the same shit all over again ... i really dunno wht made me tick ... Was

it my state of mind .... my friends .. my network .... my thoughtss.... it was so amazing ... the entire idea about sloggin trough 10th Std. ... it's often said that the journey is as important as the destination ... Subconsciouslly i ensured that the journey was very,very beautiful ...

As years passsed by ( 4 to be precise ) ... i've never been able to get access that state successfully ...it's been compulsive ... it's been forced upon by circumstances ...

At IIM B it was different .. it was magic .. it was a state that i could not express in words ... maybe Unmaad.

What is it that makes students go on relentlessy ... unliminted energy ...robotic n yet creative .. monotonous n'd yet not so

...
they're the future of India ... some of the best managers to-be.. India's corporate giants ....
I aspire to be amongst them...

Will i make it ? I dunno ... But i have questions ... & i want answers ... I badly do ... Even though i know that they all lie within me ... i need reassurance ... i need faith .. in myself and in the Universe !

What is their make up?
What is their strength?
What is it about them that's so surreal .. why can't we cut them down to size and make them more human ?

What is the secret of their success?
Am i not passionate enough? Am i not inspired enough ?

If i am, then why don't i translate my inspiration into action? into action that makes me go on forever ...
Do we always need a support system of friends to make us go on tirelessly .... to inspire us ?

When will i awaken the giant within ?

When i will i tell my self .... Anuj, give two hoots about what people around you think of you, or what people around you are

planning to do with their lives ?

When will i stop living in the illusion that i'm productive and growing ... When will i be able to tell myself that ... when

the world sleeps, the men who intend to make it big in life toil...

When will I rise to the biggest challenge of my life ... When will i give up mediocrity ?

When will i Practice what i Preach ?

When will i do what most Supposedly Successful people don't do ?

When will i be able to reach a stage when i accept people close to me ... without giving a fuck for what other people have to

say about them ?

When will i learn to trust ? Trust new people, old enemies, the universe ... ?

When will i find the ability to transalte my thoughts, dreams, and visions into action ?

When will i reach a stage when thoughts, negativity and prejudice are not a part of me?

When will i achieve the flow ?

When will my mind and body align to become the most powerful force in this universe ?

When will i be able to say that losses, heart-breaks, materialistic pleasures and the works are bullshit

When will i be able to reach a stage when i lose all my wealth and say that ... whoa! this is life tooo ...

When will i believe that i'm comforably numb in my comfortably dumb world ...

What is that formulae for inspired action ?

when will i attain salvation ?

When will i attain Unmaad ?