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TM Speech 16: The dollar auction: explaining conflict

Speaking to inform: Project 5. The objective of this speech is to explain an abstract theory or concept . Time limit is 8 minutes.

“Let us play a Euro (dollar) auction. I have this Euro with me, and I want you to bid for this and it will be yours. The rules of the game is that the winner will get the Euro but the second highest bidder will also pay his final bid even if he or she doesn’t get the Euro. To keep it simple, the bids should be in five cents.

Ready? Let’s see the bids…

What you would eventually notice is that, once one of the bid reaches 50 cents and if the bidding continues beyond that, the auctioneer is always to gain. That is, the total bid value is greater than the actual worth of what is being bid. If two people are bidding and one bids 50, the other 45 cents, another has to bid 55 cents (he still has a gain of 45 cents). If the other quits, he loses 45 cents, but the auctioneer has gained 5 cents. The bidding continues until each individual can afford not to lose any. However, it doesn’t stop there. Let’s see what happens in the 95/90 cents bidding scenario. For the latter to get the dollar, say he would bid 1.05 so that he can restrict his loss to 5 cents instead of 90 cents. But, the former has lost 95 cents and he would do the same and this escalates beyond control. It then becomes only a game where the players try to cut their losses relatively to each other while the auctioneer stands to gain no matter what they do. The game stops only when one of the bidders becomes bankrupt (after conceding all he has).

What are the strategies to play such a game then without losing? Just don’t play it all! Or the one who thinks is a stronger player gives an indication that he will make sure he will ruin the other parties prospects well in advance. For eg, one player could indicate that he would bid 5 cents but if anyone else bids more, he would immediately bid 1 Euro. That will already send a signal to the opponent that it is worthless to play. In this case, no one is at loss or gain – including the auctioneer. It is therefore in the interest of the auctioneer that the bidding goes in small phases, and that it never ends.

What if I say, instead of 1 Euro it is a million or billion dollar auction? Would you forgo your investment of say, 500kEuro or five hundred million by quitting midway?

Now, do you think this happens in the real world? And sure it does. This model can explain why some conflicts in the world never seem to end.

Let us consider some examples. If you see some world conflicts, you often times see three parties. To warring parties, and the other – the auctioneer who is the arms seller. Anyone know who are the biggest gainers of arms trade? They are the five permanent members of the UN security council – USA, France, UK, China and Russia.

Consider the example of India and Pakistan fighting over Kashmir. The western powers who sell arms to both countries have it in their interest that the conflict never ends. Any time Pakistan is going to be on the verge of bankruptcy, immediate aid is pumped in. Similarly, every conflict in the middle east has the same pattern. These are the countries who happen to be the biggest importers of arms from the western powers. In addition to the auctioneers, the politicians and the military heads from both warring factions are also to gain – and all at the expense of common people.

Billions and billions of dollars are spent in arms trade and conflicts. The enormous losses it causes to people is heart wrenching. Imagine the amount spent instead on eliminating poverty and raising the standards of living.

This conflict escalation need not be restricted to world problems. If we observe carefully, we can notice them in our daily life as well. Companies spending humongous amount of  money on certain projects that seem to go no where, triangle love stories, and any situation where you have already spent something worthy that leads to no where.

Having an understanding of these phenomena through such simple models like dollar auction can help us comprehend its myriad ways. Once we become aware, we can then work dispassionately in matters that are in our control in order to bring any change we wish to see.



TM Speech 15: What is your story?

This is a humorous speech assignment and I gave this speech in my club contest in the humorous speeches competition for the year 2014. I eventually went on to win the division championship title.

The objective is to leave the audience with a smile.

I have a question to you all. I expect an honest answer. Deal? 

Would you ever sign on any document without knowing what you are actually signing up for?


Would you ever volunteer to enter a room that has no exit and the chances of your life turning miserable would be 50/50? “…”

You can be honest. I am not your spouse!

hmm…How many of you are married? “…”

You know what? I just did! – AND not too long ago, on August 13th, I signed my marriage certificate. 

I’ve never understood how humanity has conspired itself into signing on something without knowing what it is signing up for. 

On that day, the 13th of August, I was touched by an angel and became the husband to the most amazing woman I’ve ever met in my life. 

After returning to Belgium, I soon began to notice the peculiar ways in which people were reacting to the news of my wedding.

First let’s start with the women.  

“Oh! you are married! wow!”…There is something about marriage that makes them crazy! Their blood flows to their feet, they become red, they become so excited…

“how sweet …give me a hug…uuummmah”…wait! why is it ok to hug and kiss me after I got married!

“Where is your wife? Can I see a picture of your wife…oh how pretty!…You look so beautiful together…Oh she is not here yet. Oh! no!….you just got married and she is already not with you…ooooooo…”

I am not even sure if they take a good look at the picture at all. It doesn’t matter who is in the picture but they will say what they decided to say. 

Then, the single guys,

Takes time to sink in.  “What did you say?” …”Why was I not invited to the bachelor’s party dude? I thought we were buddies? I never knew about this…”.

“Well, of course…because I did not know it either four months ago”.

“What??%@$%^&”.  “What’s going on here. What’s the story…”

“Story? there is no story…it was an arranged marriage. I met her, the amazing woman that she is – we liked each other – we decided to live together…

“So, why should you marry then? Why not live together first, test it out and…remember our friend Vivek? He bought a whole cow and realized he was lactose intolerant??…”

“And keep doing this a number of times until I get a statistically significant result that tells me I am ready to marry?”

“the problem is that Indian women I wanted to live with won’t let you to live in with them unless you marry them…”.

“Has anyone tried dating an Indian lady here?…

“Lucky bastards!…

aah! an unlucky one out there. “Did you stop eating meat and start smelling like spice?”

Now the reaction of married guys:

…No excitement.  Exact opposite to the women. “Oh…Do I have to say something?” …“oh ok! whatever. not my problem!” …”Does he even know what is coming? “

An unrelated question? How many of you have done snorkeling or scuba diving?  “…”. It all seems beautiful in the water but the trouble starts when you open your mouth. It seems as though all married men are scuba diving all the time. 

Then another and this is the best, one of my colleagues at work:

“Hey welcome back! Congratulations. So, your wife is back with you?”…


“Wow! Can it get any better! You are married, went to your honeymoon and you come back alone!. This is cool. You have all the benefits without taking its costs!”

But, the question keeps coming. What is your story? Well. The story begins now…Marriage for me is a delightful journey of curiosity and discovering each other. I have the rest of my life time to write my story… 


I won our division championship (The script has been edited since). The video is posted below

Women Empowerment and (economic) Development

Like I mentioned in my previous, there are times (when I have lot of time at hand) to engage in some discussions. I am part of this NGO called CORD (Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development). In that FB group there was a post on Cheryl Wu Dunn’s latest book Half the Sky, a synopsis of which in TED says that women empowerment leads to development. As I am wont to do, I suggested that women empowerment does not necessarily lead to development but vice-versa. A small discussion followed and I am listing some thoughts of mine that I wrote to a very nice lady I was interacting with through email. I also received a gift of the book’s copy from her. How cool is that? Internet is amazing. You end up meeting people randomly and somehow they leave a mark in your life-line. I am sure whenever I open Cheyl Wu Dunn’s book, or when I think about women empowerment, I am reminded of this sweet lady (name with held for privacy purposes). The post itself is below. I wanted to archive the thoughts.

  1. First, let me clarify. I never say women empowerment is not necessary. All I say is: thinking that women empowerment will lead to economic development is a misleading conclusion. Women empowerment will lead to development only in a specific context (when other forces also come into play). Women empowerment is necessary – no doubt. But, even men empowerment is, for that matter. Making this a gender issue will trivialize the development debate.  Or to put it in other words: It (women empowerment) is necessary but not sufficient.
  2. Education does lead to a positive externality as you point out in your mail below (not sharing the details of the email here). Therefore, whether it is women or men, it does have an impact. However, that externality is best utilized when other forces that lead to development come into play – Personal, economic and political freedom. Bill Easterly’s (he lives right in your backyard) latest book, “The Tyranny of Experts” illustrates that. I am planning to get a copy of it soon. These (the freedoms I mentioned before) in some sense are empowerment as well. But, not just confined to education and giving employment opportunities, etc.
             Now come concrete examples.
The examples of women politicians in India only to illustrate that empowerment itself doesn’t lead to development. The other example is the issue of female foeticide. It puzzled economics researchers when they learned that female feticide was infact no less but sometimes even more in urban than in rural areas. If I remember right I believe the authors of poor economics quote even data from Bangalore. One might argue that they should show more details. May be the heavy landless labor population might have skewed that data, etc. However, they are not superficial researchers. So, I can believe them. We can say that even though women are reasonably educated and perhaps earning (which is an equivalent to the empowerment that the synopsis of the book is talking about), the problem just got worse.
          That these “empowered” (or poor un-empowered) making a choice to abort female fetus is akin to another “liberal” woman aborting an unwanted pregnancy when having sex out of wedlock or from a short-term relationship or a relationship where she finds no future. This is no different. In both cases it is a “cost” to bear. In the latter it may not be gender specific (but hey, my heart bleeds the same for male foeticide too).
          Another example: Female illiteracy in India. It took our policy makers and NGO talking heads decades to realize that lot of girls drop out of school simply because:
  1. there are no girls toilets
  2. Lack of sanitary napkins
          Instead the whole focus was on “empowerment”, “female exploitation”, “patriarchal culture”, “caste oppression”…as you know anything can be blamed on caste in India! and on and on…It turned out that parents were willing to send the girls to school. But, the girls were unwilling to go for the above reasons. In some sense, the girls were exercising their freedom (they were empowered. No one was coercing them to go to school or not go to) by choosing not to go to.
         Similar is the case with girl prostitution. I’ve had some interactions with some of these women when I was in Singapore (please don’t get crazy ideas!). There were scores of women from all the poor nations around who are into prostitution. They are stunningly beautiful btw (and still have that innocence flickering in them in spite of being the flesh trade participants). To escape from prevailing conditions, they made a conscious choice of getting into this. They empowered themselves this way.
       Moving beyond this, I want to open the discussion to another perspective. We tend to see women in prostitution, or who remain illiterate, etc as something that they did it beyond their control. We then tend to add a moral color to it. But, it is important to realize that we don’t know what they know. We don’t have access to the same information that is influencing their choices. They yield to those circumstances only because they can’t find other opportunities. There is a market, and they can be players in that market providing certain services. In the case of adolescent boys, a similar market doesn’t exist. Otherwise I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a similar issue with males too. So, they confine themselves to doing menial jobs, low paid labor – “child labor”, crime, etc. In both cases the end goal is the same. They want to stay out of poverty. These poor people are just finding ways that suit their comparative advantage to make a living.
        Significant portion of women staying out of education is an issue but so is the significant portion of men staying out of education as well who are into crime,etc. All these are linked. Few of these “crimes” may be trafficking these women, pimping, and johns, etc which is mostly done by men. So, it is a well complemented system working its own way out of poverty. That is how I look at this issue.
All these issues with a moral color may appeal to the heart but when we look at these dispassionately we come to realize the underlying dynamics.
        More examples are given Bill Easterly’s book “Elusive quest for growth”. Here he takes examples in Africa because people consciously choose not to educate themselves. They figured it did not benefit them. Why? Because it is too costly to invest in that when they don’t see any benefits. Similar trends exist in India also. One eg:
        One of the NGOs that works in remote tribal areas in Orissa mentioned that they work hard to educate these tribals (I am witholding the names for privacy reasons). Until perhaps 5th class it is fine but after that 95% of them drop out. They are comfortable working in their farms. They don’t find much benefit from further education. They are making a conscious choice. They don’t find much use in educating themselves if they can’t find opportunities beyond that. The very same NGOs oppose all kinds of development initiatives and the governments are also corrupted to promote development.
        So, the point I am trying to make is that one should look beyond these platitudes of gender debates. I will read this book now that you were kind enough to send it to me but one does not necessarily need to read that to get an idea. A simple observation around can tell a lot. We tend to confine our thinking into the boundaries imposed by lot of our talking heads and self-proclaimed experts on development.
        What is the way forward then you might ask.
Education, empowerment, etc mean zilch when personal, economic and political freedoms are compromised. The state may spend enormous amount of money and resources to empower and educate but when it controls lot of services that hinder market transactions or spontaneous development initiatives that people themselves take, there will be no progress.
       Let me illustrate with an example. The state can proclaim that schools will be opened and female literacy is a priority. Fine. But, they don’t build girls toilets. In effect, they actively prevent girls education by design although they keep talking about “empowerment” ,etc. When we look at it, the girls are in fact empowered like I said before. They are making a clear choice.
      Another example: Talk all high and big about empowerment and exploitation but then create artificial scarcities by preventing private players to come in. Scarcity of higher education, when primary education is being prioritized (again a necessary but not sufficient) will not help in any ways. People won’t find opportunities to utilize their skills. Preventing private organization of people to create value by restrictive policies will only make matters worse. There is this educated bunch. But the red-tape prevents them from conceiving, pursuing and executing any idea that will add value.
       The developed world had the right policies in place – private property rights, personal, economic and political freedom. That is why women seem more empowered in this part of the world. Whereas in countries like India, China,etc – there is too much of a state control. A strict communist control in China vs Kakistocracy in India. Bad systems, bad rules and bad outcomes go together. These can’t be seen in isolation when we are examining the problem.
       All in all, I am not denying the issues raised by Ms Wu Dunn in her book. I am saying that solving those issues itself may be necessary but not sufficient.  I could also not be right all the time. So, any inputs are welcome in your comments. Would love to learn from your view points as well.

Difficulties in writing in Telugu

There are times when I engage (needless) in debates. One recent example was engaging in a debate on Wendy Doniger controversy. The article is published in eemaaTa (online telugu magazine). I was commenting heavily in English and some commentators complained. I thought about it seriously and wrote this comment which was not approved for reasons only the editorial board knows. Thankfully, the editor did pass on the message to the unhappy commentators about my commenting in English in a Telugu magazine. If you are one of those rarest of rare species who can read Telugu (whether you are Telugu by birth or not). Then you can go and read the link below. I highly recommend not to waste your time by reading the essay but (some) comments are insightful specially by one Mr Raghottama Rao garu. The link is below:

The following post in Telugu is my heart-felt feelings about my inadequacy in expressing in my mother language Telugu compared to English. I wanted to post it here in my blog. Somehow I liked what I wrote. I never wrote such a long Telugu post in long time.


శ్యామల రావు గారికి, త:త: గారికి, మరియు ఇక్కడ ఉన్నా ఈమాట దిగ్గజాలందరికీ,

ఇక నాలాటి వాళ్ళకి తెలుగు లో వ్రాయటం కష్టమెందుకవుతుందో నా అభిప్రాయాన్ని తెలుపుకుంటాను.

1. నేను తెలుగు మీడియం స్కూల్ లో చదవలేదు. పైగా ఈ ముక్క రాస్తుంటే నా కళ్ళ నీళ్ళు కూడా వస్తున్నాయి – ఆ జ్ణాపకాలు ఒక్కసారిగా తల్చుకుంటుంటే. స్కూల్ లో తెలుగు లో మాట్లాడుకుంటే మాకు శిక్ష ఉండేది. ఒక్కొక్క సారి తిట్లు తినడం, లేదా “fine” కట్టడం. నా చిన్నప్పుడు నా మీదే కాక, నా స్నేహితుల మీద కూడా మా ఉపాధ్యాయులు “Talk in English” అన్న చీవాట్లు ఇప్పటికీ నా చెవుల్లో మార్మోగుతూనే ఉన్నాయి. ఒకటి గుర్తుంచుకోవాలి: ఇవనీ “లిబరల్” లక్షాణాలని నాకు అప్పుడు తెలీలేదు.

ఈ పరిస్థిథి ఎందుకు నెలకొంది అంటారు? తెలుగు లో ఎందుకు వ్రాయలేకపోతున్నారు అన్న మీ ప్రశ్నకు జవాబు, అలా ఆ యొక్క ఉపాధ్యాయుల అరుపులకు బెదిరిపోయిన పసిపిల్లల కళ్ళల్లో ఉందండీ.

2. తెలుగు మీడియం లో పదో తరగతి దాకా చదువుకుని, ఆ తరువాత ఆంగ్ల మీడియానికి మారి ఒక్కసారిగా ఆ ఆకస్మిక మార్పుకి తట్టుకోలేక, అంత వరకూ బాగా చదువుకున్న వాళ్ళే, ఇంక ఆ పోటీ కి తట్టుకోలేక వెనకబడి, కూలబడి, ఇంక పోరాడలేనన్న ఎంతో మంది ఆత్మ నూన్యతా భావం లో ఉందండీ సమాధానం.

అలానే ఆ పోటేల్లో పరీక్షలు పోయి, కొందరు (మా చుట్టాల లో కూడా)ఆత్మ హత్య చేసుకునే ముందు పొందిన మానసిక వ్యధ లో దొరుకుతుంది మీకు సమాధానం.

నేను చెప్తున్నది మీకు మరీ “extreme” అనుకుంటున్నారేమో…ఇవన్నీ అక్షర సత్యాలు. ఇప్పటికీ జరుగుతూనే ఉన్నాయి.

3. ఆ తరువాత కొద్దో గొప్పో నిలదొక్కుకున్న వారికి సరిగ్గా ఆంగ్లం రాదని చులకన గా  చూసిన (ఇందులో నేను కూడా ఒకణ్ణి) వాళ్ళ అహంకారం లో, ఆ చులకన గా చూడబడ్డ వాళ్ళ బాధ పడ్డ వాళ్ళ కనిపించని అశ్రువుల్లో కనబడుతుంది మీకు సమాధానం.

4. ఈ దుస్థ్తితిని తెచ్చుకున్న మనకు, మన సంస్కృతికి సంస్కరణ ఉందంటారా?

5. ఆ పైన ఇంజినీరింగ్ అనో, CAT  అనో, GRE అనో, మరోటనో మొత్తం ఆంగ్లం లోనే అభ్యాసం, అవసరం. ఇంక బుర్ర లో తెలుగు ఏమిటి నలుగుతుంది? ఒకప్పుడు (ఇప్పుడూ నూ) అటు ఆంగ్లం లో సరిగ్గా భావం వ్యక్తం చెయ్యలేక,  ఇటు తెలుగు లో వ్యక్తం చెయ్యలేక, బాధ పడిన సందర్భాలూ ఉన్నాయి.

6. ఇవన్నీ అటుంచితే, ఒక సారి తెలుగు మీద బాగా ఎందుకో అభిమానం పుట్టి, కొన్ని ఉద్వేగాలని, భావాలని  వ్యక్తపరచటానికి  తెలుగు భాష ని ఆశ్రయించినపుడు, ఏదీ…పదాలు రావే! అప్పుడనిపించింది భావలని మాతృ భాష లో వ్యక్తీకరించాలని ప్రయత్నిస్తే, భాష రావకపోవడం – “unreciprocated love” లా అనిపించింది.  ఏమిటో శఠించిన ప్రేయసి లా ఎప్పుడూ తెలుగు నాకు దగ్గర అవ్వనే లేదు.

7. ప్రస్తుత విషయం: తెల్లార లేస్తే నిద్రొయే వరకూ, అంతా ఆంగ్లం లోనే నాకు. ఎప్పుడో వారానికోసారి మా అమ్మ నాన్న ల తో మాట్లాడితే తప్ప. ఇక్కడ (Belgium) నిత్యం తెలుగు లో కాస్త సంభాషణ సంభవించడం కష్టం కూడా…పైగా ఇంటికొస్తే కూడా ఒంటరిని. కాబట్టీ తెలుగు మాట్లాడే అవకాశాలు నాకు తక్కువ. ధార వచ్చే లా మాట్లాడడమనేది అరుదే మరి. పోనీ ఈమాట చదవొచ్చు గా అని మీరనొచ్చు. ఈమాటే కాదు, ఎక్కడా కూడా నాకంటూ ఆశక్తి కలిగించే విషయాలు తెలుగు వెబ్ ప్రపంచం లో పెద్దగా లేవు (ఏవో ఇలా mediocre వి తప్పితే). ఎప్పుడైనా పుస్తకాలు చదువుతాను, కానీ ఎక్కువ గా నేను చదివేవన్నీ ఆంగ్లం లోనే.

8. ఇప్పుడు మరి మీరడగ్గానే తెలుగు లో వ్రాయాలయ్యా అంటే ఆ ధార ఎలా  వస్తుంది? ఆలోచన ఆంగ్లం లో చేస్తున్నపుడు, ధార తెలుగు లో రావడం కష్టం. ఒక వేళ ఇంకా ప్రయత్నించి పొనీలే ఆంగ్లాన్ని తెలుగు లోకి తర్జూమా చేసుకుంటూ రాసుకుందాం అని సద్దిపెట్టుకుంటే, ఇదిగో ఈ చర్చనీయాంశమైన mediocre వ్యాసం లా తయారవుతుంది.

9. ఈ పై ముక్కలన్నీ (ఇందాకటి వ్యాఖ్యానాలతో సహా) వ్రాయటానికి నాకు మొత్తం ఒక రోజు పట్టింది. అంటే తెలుగు లో ఆలొచించటానికి చాలా ప్రయత్నించ వలసి వచ్చింది. ఆ పైన ఇక్కడ టైప్ చెయ్యటం.

10. అందుకే నాకు ఆంగ్లం లో వ్యాఖ్యానం చెయ్యటం, విమర్శించటం సులువయ్యింది. పైగా నేను ఇందాకా చెప్పినట్టు, ఏదో ఫేసుబుక్కు లో రఘోత్తమ రావు రాగు వెండీ పాందిత్యాన్ని వ్యాఖ్యానిస్తూ ఉంటే, నాకు జియోపాలిటిక్స్ ఆశక్తి కాబట్టీ చూసి, పైగా ఈ వ్యాసకర్త ఏదో తనకి తానే “detailed analysis” అని చెప్పుకుంటే కుతూహలం తో…పక్షపాత వైఖరి, అబధ్ధాల ముగింపు చూడలేక ఇంక చర్చ లోకి దిగాను అంతే…

11. అందుకే గబుక్కుమని తెలుగు లో ధార గా మీ అందరి లా వ్రాసెయ్యాలంటే నా వల్ల కాదు.

“…అతి సుస్యందనమందున దూరం గా వినువీధుల్లో విహరించే అందని అందానివి గా  భావించిన రోజుల్లో…

…నీ రూపం కనరానందున, నా గుహ లో కుటి లో, చీకటి లో నే స్రుక్కిన రోజులు లేవా…

…నే విన్నవి కన్నవి విన్నవించగా మాటలకై వెదుకాడకబోతే…


శ్రీశ్రీ కి పుంఖానుపుంఖం గా వచ్చుండొచ్చు…కానీ నా గొంతు మాత్రం మూగబోతుంది, కన్ను చెమ్మబోతుంది, కలం ఆగిపోతుంది…

కాబట్టీ నా విజ్నప్తి ఏమిటంటే: ఆంగ్లం లో వ్యాఖ్యానించే వాళ్ళని వాళ్ళ వ్యాఖ్యానలలో మీకు సంకోచాలుంటే అడగండి, నచ్చనిది ఉంటే దుయ్యబట్టండి, కర్కస విమర్శ చెయ్యండి, వ్యాఖ్యానలనీ, విమర్శలనీ చీల్చి చెండాడండీ, కానీ తెలుగు లోనే వ్రాయి, ఆంగ్లం లో కాదు, అని మటుకు ఇంతలా అసంతృప్తి చెందకండి . ఇందాకా అన్నట్టు ఆంగ్లం లో ఐనా తెలుగు లో ఐనా విషయం ఉందా లేదా అన్నది ముఖ్యం.

ఈ వ్యాఖ్యానం ఇప్పటికి సరి. ఐతే ఈ సందర్భం వ్యాసానికి కూడా సంబంధించిందని అన్నాను. అది రేపు ఉటంకిస్తాను. ముఖ్యం గా పై ఐదు పాయింట్లకీ సంబంధించినది.



PS:- “కవితా ఓ కవితా” ని ఇక్కడ ఉటంకించాను. ఐతే వెండీ యొక్క చర్చ జరుగుతున్న ఈ సందర్భం లో, నాకో భయం ఉంది.

వెండీ గానీ ఇది చూసి, “ఆరు కోట్ల తెలంగానాధ్రులకి “కవితా ఓ  కవితా” అని ఆరాధించే ఒక కవిత ఉందా? ఇది ఇన్నాళ్ళూ నేను psycho analyse చెయ్యలేదేమిటబ్బా”, అని వెంటనే పూనుకుని, వేల్చేరు గారికి ఫొన్ చేసేసి, “SriSri’s kavita o kavita epic poem – divine beauty or sexual perversion” అని ఒక phD మొదలెట్టేసి, ఆ తరువాత ఏదేదో ప్రచురించేసి, అప్పుడు నాలాటి వాడెవడో కేసు వేస్తే ఆ పైన ప్రత్యామ్నాయ ప్రబుధ్ధులందరూ దాన్ని నా లాటి చాందసుల వల్ల వాక్స్వేఛ్చ లోపిస్తోందని, పేజీలు పేజీలు వ్యాసాలు రాసేసి…అమ్మో ఈ పరిస్థిథి రాకూడదని భగవంతుడిని ప్రార్థిస్తూ…ఇక సెలవా మరి. మళ్ళీ రేపు కలుద్దాం.

Two great posts on relationships

Very insightful pieces. 

TM Speech 14 – The pursuit of excellence

The objective of this speech is to inspire the audience. I am giving this speech as part of our local club contest in the International Speeches category for the year 2014.


Empty handed I entered the world, barefoot I leave it.  My coming, my going – Two simple happenings that got entangled” – Kozan Ichikyo.

When I first heard this poem by Kozan Ichikyo, I felt a sense of calm after a storm that engulfs a helpless victim.

It was almost four years ago…I was working hard – to establish my place in corporate America, to prove myself and meet the expectations and standards that we, immigrant professionals have set for ourselves. I was grabbing everything coming in my way with both hands with utmost aggression. I was fiercely ambitious, and I craved…I craved the three Rs – Remuneration, reward and recognition, so much that not only was I putting extremely long hours at work but also getting upset that others were not matching my intensity. My blinded ego got inflated to an extent that I started believing in falsehoods about myself – that I was the best in my group and I could do anything, any time of the day,  better than anyone else in my group. My arrogance almost fired me.

I managed to survive with a reprimand from my vice president and the head of HR. It was a moment to introspect. I started seeking advice from some mentors on how to deal with work place conflicts. However, the best advice I got was from an unusual quarter in a totally different context that changed my conception of work, personal growth and life. My mother told me the story of a simple lady, pride of our ethnic community.

It was about a hundred fifty years ago, when the British control on India was almost complete, and frequent droughts plagued the landscape of India. There was this simple lady called Sitamma, in South India, who decided her mission in life was to cook and serve food to any hungry person that knocked on her door just like a mother would to her child. Not one single person was refused food anytime of the day in her entire life time. Her name spread far and wide and she was often called Annapurna, the Goddess of nourishment.

The then emperor of India King Edward VII,  wanted her to be his guest for his coronation anniversary celebrations in Delhi in 1903.  He sent for the governor of her region, to bring her to Delhi in full honors.  Sitamma was pleasantly surprised to see the governor and politely declined the invite. She said that whatever she is doing is very basic human. She has not been doing this for recognition or reward from the king and that she sees no reason to deserve such an honor from the king.

Such was her commitment that none of the three Rs mattered to her. She set herself a mission and strived to do it to its perfection.

It then dawned on me.  Like a satori moment taking over my consciousness, I could see the truth instantly.

We come empty handed, we leave barefooted. The three Rs – recognition, rewards, and remuneration do not come with us. They are not to be pursued but  they are a natural, eventual and inevitable outcome in the pursuit of excellence.  If the pursuit of excellence in whatever we set to do be the goal, the outcome naturally follows. Let our pursuit of excellence begin, let it begin now. 


PS:-I won our club contest. The next step is semi-finals and then if I advance, to Belgian finals. Well, lets see how far Sitamma can take me to :-). Video of the speech here (note the sound quality isn’t that great. But while speaking in the Hall it was ok…

PS PS:- I won our semi-finals as well and now advancing to the finals.

PS PS PS:- I did not win in the finals. But it was worth the effort. 

In same category I won my last year contest as well:

Lessons from past presidents

A very inspirational TED talk by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Abraham Lincoln is really my hero. I was so happy to listen to this talk.

Enjoy listening