Sunday, June 28, 2015

To catch the 6:06 am Churchgate local

Facing parched land and in the backdrop of Prime Minister’s announcement of Smart Cities, Ajay decided.

Dadar railway station intimidated Ajay. Roaming the streets in humid April weather of 2014, Ajay found work as a un-loader in trucks for agricultural produce. Rs. 20 for a hard morning’s labour. He had Mumbai’s famous vadapav. Month-long sleeping on station, the mundane continued. He saw physical development in city but without a moral well-being. He did not like it. But smart cities was the way forward. From working as newspaper vendor, hand-car puller, security guard at mall to delivery boy for online portals, Ajay lived life from hand-to-mouth.

With some luck he became an office-boy in a multinational company with confirmed job. Marriage, kids followed. Ajay wasn’t happy living a stressful life. He yearned for a simpler life. He turned in his bed to adjust alarm for 5 am - 14 May 2024. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The art of asking questions

Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” In a similar way, you can say “Teach a student to ask questions and you wouldn’t need an exam.” With individualist lifestyles inspired from Western countries, ego as an emotion has started to have an overwhelming affect on individuals.

If you ask questions, they seem to offend people. Questioning authority is a strict no-no. We were taught in school to ask questions and those who did were considered to have a scientific temper. Our knowledge is superficial these days. Conceptual understanding is not done. And therefore we are afraid of people asking questions. Thus, we muscle the thinking ability of people which makes them mute followers without a scientific temper.

Beliefs, faith and religion are the only aspects which cannot be explained with a proof. All other things have a reason for their existence. Armed forces are the only places where we need a line of authority without questioning the decisions. Everything else needs to be questioned.

The most important aspect of a teacher is not to feed information but make the subject interesting enough for the student to be inquisitive about its contents. Then the teacher need not worry if the student will study or not. Leaders or bosses, too, need to encourage questioning because only then will the fundamental understanding of their subordinate improve. Questioning will make an individual look at the future. And try to understand what impact will a decision have in the future. This will make companies to make a second line of leadership ready who can fill in shoes in case of a retirement or attrition.

Sad though that inspite of all literature on team-building and working in teams, no one touches upon the idea of encouraging different view-points although it says to accepts different view-points. But if scientific temper isn’t improved upon, there will be no contrary view-points.

When arguing on a point and you know that you are right, keep on asking leading questions and over period of the argument, your opponent will understand the fallacy of his argument. 

Employees with a knack of asking questions are worried about their superiors getting offended with questions. They have to learn to ask questions in a round-about way and be apologetic of asking questions. The world these days is ruled by bottom-line and money-mindedness. If this continues, majority of the followers will lose their thinking-acumen and will be mere robots with power to a few. And as they say “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

So, if you encourage at least one individual to start getting to the depth of any aspect, you got a winner on your hands. There can be no better ability than to ask questions. The target should be to catch them young. Youngsters at impressionable age can be moulded like clay. Any questions?