Sunday, January 13, 2013



Let us consider the following facts:

• Man has lives 50,000 thousand years.

• Each life time 62 years.

• We are at present in the 800th life time.

• First 650 were spent in caves.

• Writing was discovered 70 life times ago.

• Printed word only 6 life times ago

• Precise measurement of time just 4 life time ago.

• Overwhelming developments are taking place in this, the 800 life time.

The well known author C.P. Snow remarks:

“Until this century social change was so slow that it would pass unnoticed in one person’s life time”. This is no longer so. The rate of change had increased so much that even once imagination cannot keep up with it.

Let’s consider some more facts:


• Before 1500 AD in Europe only 100 titles (books, research papers, pamphlets, journals) etc. Were published per annum.

• By AD 1950 these had expended to 120000 titles p.a

• A century comprised into 10 months in other words, what quantity was published earlier (450 years back) in a century begin to be published in just 10 months by 1950 AD.

• Today it is 1000 titles per day.

• Scientific literature – alone – 60 million pages p.a.

• From the time a child is born, to the time of its graduation world knowledge expands 4 times.

• By the time one graduates one is already obsolete on top of it. Teachers even more obsolete than the child itself teach the child.

• By the time, the child is 50 years old. World knowledge expands 32 times. Exponential growth of knowledge!

• Obsolescence of knowledge very rapid.

• Difficult to keep pace, one therefore takes to specialization in some branch of knowledge where one can keep reasonable pace with the latest development.

• All is not lost yet. Just as what was once a software has today been embedded into the memory of a computer chip, in the same way, knowledge acquired and digested by one generation is likely to be transferred genetically in the subsequent once, provided it keeps on assimilating as much knowledge as possible and remains sexually active as long as possible.


1600 B.C. Camel Caravans 8 m.p.h.

1610 B.C. Chariot invented 20 m.p.h.

1825 A.D. Steam locos 13 m.p.h.

1980 A.D. - Do- 100 m.p.h.

1938 A.D. Aeroplanes 400 m.p.h.

1960 A.D. Rockets 4800 m.p.h.

Space Vehicles 18000 m.p.h.


1714 A.D. Patent for Typewriter

1864 A.D. Commercial Production

1836 A.D. First Agricultural Machine

1930 A.D. Machine Marketed

The cycle from concept to commercial production to marketing the products which took 94 to 150 years earlier (as shown above) takes less than a year in case of most products these days.

Extremely rapid scientific discoveries lead to rapid obsolescence of products launched. As a result, even 1 year old discoveries become obsolete especially in the fields of:






• For 81.5 Centuries Q/2 Per Century

• By 1850 A.D. Q Per Century

• Today 10Q Per Century

In past 100 years, we have consumed 2000 years’ fuel.


• Total output of Goods and Services doubling every 15 years.

• A child surrounded by everything twice new by the time it becomes a Teenager.

• By 30 years – A second doubling

• By 75 years – Five doublings

• Compared to Birth, by end of life – 32 times new objects surround a person.


• Expectation levels have become quote high.

• Distances reduced.

• Almost real time global communications are possible.

• Advances such as Video-conferencing make it unnecessary to travel.

• Relationships have become numerous, but of shorter duration. They are increasingly based on achievement of purpose rather than on Emotion / Sentiments.

• Concept of time is instant Tea, Instant Coffee, Instant Soup, Instant pre-cooked dishes, Instant Communication and so on.

• People throw away used things. A throw-away society is coming up. Even spouses are sometimes discarded in order to acquire newer and more appropriate ones!

The problem areas:

1. Handling flux of Change,

2. Pressure of Transience,

3. Updating Skills/knowledge,

4. Growth/Stability,

5. Attitude/Behavior.


Do we ever realize how many changes keep coming in our own life? If we pause to about it, we would be surprised. The first change occurs when we are born.

In the mother’s womb, we are in a sage and secure place, floating in the uterine fluid. It is dark inside, quite soothing to the eyes; nutrition comes automatically to as via the placenta, which joins our belly button and the mother’s womb.

As soon as we are born, we find a lot of bright light outside, that bedazzles us. A reflex action shuts our eyes. We are placed on a solid object, a soft cushion. However soft the cushion, it is still much too hard for us as compared to the fluid we were floating in. The outside world is strange, full of noises. The only vaguely familiar thing is the mother’ touch, but she is far too busy recovering for her labor pains to attend to us. In protest, we start crying little realizing that this act of crying makes us to learn breathing. Previously, even oxygen came to us through the motherly connection. In fact, if we do not breathe immediately on birth, the doctor or the mid-wife gives us a gentle hit on the buttocks to make us cry. Any delay in crying means depriving our brain of oxygen and consequent damage to the rain that may be irreversible.

The next change comes when we learn to suckle. No more Automation now! We have to come to the Manual mode! We learn to exert our mouth muscles to take in mother’s milk. Then, learning to raise our head, turning on our sides, watching the world around, recognizing objects by sight, sound, touch and taste. Our best clue to object recognition remains taste for quite some time. Then, creeping, crawling, sitting up, learning to stand up. Walking, earning from mother’s milk to outside milk or solid food etc. Changes after changes come in quick succession. Every change is painful in the beginning, full of frustration at failure to learn properly and adjust to the new situation.

But somehow at the end, we learn and even forget that we had tried to resist or delay that particular

change. We also forget the pains that were associated with each learning process. When we learn and reap the benefits of that learning, we wonder why we were trying such a wonderful thing.

Then, we go to school, learn to play games. Each new game is a change. On completion of studies, we start earning and spend at least the next 40 years in that activity. In the cycle of life, no day is the same as the preceding one.

In the job also, transfers, learning new skills, promotions, super cessions, getting a good boss, a bad boss, new colleagues joining, their getting adapted to the ob, transfers, promotions, sacking, suspensions, resignations or retirements. Even among our neighbors, so many changes keep happening. No facer of life is free from changes. There is nothing constant in life. The only thing that is constant is change itself. Except the Sun, every other object undergoes change.

Scientists tell us now that even the Sun gets magnetic storms occasionally. (Nuclear Physicist Edward Teller says “In all my scientific exploration, the mist inert material that I have come across is the human mind.” All substances can be changed faster and more easily than the human mind).

We cannot stop the march of time by holding on to the minute or hour hand of the clock. In the same way, by holding on to the old habits after the proper time for those habits is over, we cannot stop the coming changes. We merely add to our miseries. In this regard, a poem written by me sometime back is perhaps relevant.

I quote it below:


Whenever I rebel against an event

Or a phenomenon

I am only admitting that I do not

Comprehended the causes

Underlying that event

The stronger my rebellion,

The farther away am I

From truth in the matter.

When I finally understand

What caused the event.

I revolted against,

I hit upon the axiom

“What happens is right”

For what happens is

A resultant of all the

Forces of nature acting together

And since even Time, the

Fourth dimension has participated.

The result has got to be right.

Now if so many changes are going to come, whether we like it or not, would it not be wise to learn something about change it? What is change? What causes it? How many types of change are there? How to reduce losses to us on account of change? How to cope with change? How to reduce losses to is on account of change? Can we possibly take advantage of the change? Profit instead of loss? How to sense the coming changes? How to prepare ourselves to face the changes? Questions such as the above are proposed to be tackled in what follows this.

Changes can be: (a) brought about by our own selves,

(b) brought about by nature and

(c) brought about by others.

When we ourselves bring about a change, we remain very happy with the change, at least initially. Later on, sometimes we get bored of this change and bring about one more change. It may also happen that a change brought about by us may cause us to repent. Therefore we ought to think about the likely impact, its costs and so on before we bring about any change. This would ensure that the change begets us the desired result. It may not be possible even to stick this advice. We have to experiment to make sure that some aspect of the proposed change had not been taken into account.

When the change is due to natural causes, we know that we are helpless and after grieving for a while, we adjust to the new situation as soon as possible, e.g. when a relative or a dear one dies of an illness, we do mourn but we also begin to live a normal life, soon thereafter.

When other people bring about a change, we usually object to it. We may even protest vehemently in the fashion of a child playing in dirt, being forcibly taken away by mother for bathing and dressing. After dressing up, it feels fresh and is happy. But the fact remains that it did not initially want to be disturbed from whatever activity it was doing.

It is the same thing with adults. When others change something, we, who are used to a particular way of functioning, hate to be disturbed. We protest loudly and pick holes in the new system. What we are doing when we argue is nothing more than rationalizing the basic psychological objection to being disturbed. We get blinded b this psychological block and even when we know at the cerebral level that the proposed change is beneficial. We cannot stop ourselves from opposing it.

Then, there are some people who are likely to be hurt as they have a vested interest in the old system – Usually politicians and sometimes even Union leaders or lately even the Media Moghuls. These people may be working for themselves or for others whose interests are being hurt but who are too clever to protest themselves. Funny thing is that we, the long-term beneficiaries are taken in by their talk. We scarcely realize that they are merely taking advantage of the normal human weakness of initial opposition to any change, whatsoever. If a change is warranted in the nature’s scheme of things, it is going to happen irrespective of the opposition, we can only protest and delay the change; for, delay is all that happens. Naturally, the consequential benefits are also delayed.

Now, let us examine the properties or the attributes to a change:

First, change has a magnitude. Some changes are small while some are big. Some are even profound. A transfer from one section to another is a small change while a transfer to an altogether different department is a big change. A change of job from one company to another on a salary twice or thrice the earlier one is indeed a profound change.

Second, change has direction. /some changes are for the better; they take you up. Some are for the worse; they take you down. Some are neither worse nor better. They merely shift you sideways. From doing filing work is merely a lateral shift. No change in salary, status or even the table. Only the type of work is changed.

Third, change has speed. Some changes come very fast, some very slow. Weakness caused by old age is a slow change. A heart attack comes suddenly. Old age comes creepingly. Both bring weakness. One is sudden; the other slowly creeps in.

Fourth, sometimes we become unhappy when the change expected by us does not come about. When a girl begins to cross the marriageable age and nothing happens she starts muttering that her parents do not care much for her. She forgets that when the very first marriage proposal was mooted, she had coyly opposed it.

When a change comes in someone else’s life, we see it, but do we ever think about that person’s state of mind? Let us take the example of a girl marrying our son and entering our household as bride. The father-in-law, the mother-in-law, the brother-in-law, the sister-in-law – all have varied expectations of her. She is supposed to prove herself as a competent and caring person. Nobody asks her what are her expectations. Nobody realizes that she has left her parents, brothers and sisters, friends, neighbors, a particular life style and has come to an alien world. What she is going through is nobody’s business. Not even the mother-in-law who too had been in a similar position some 25-30 years back. The daughter-in –law who too has dreams, aspirations when we, especially the menfolk, face even a small change, how disturbed do we become? However, we do not show sympathy; leave alone, empathy, for what the daughter-in-law is passing through.

The same thing happens when changes occur in others’ lives. We remain mute witnesses, quite a few times. Sometimes we even laugh at the discomfort felt by the victim of change.

Thus, we have seen that changes would keep coming. Nothing is permanent. In fact, these days, changes are coming at an ever increasing pace. We have to try to sense the coming changes. For this purpose, we should make it a habit to reflect on what is happening now, link it with what happened in the past, work out a trend and predict what could happen in the future. When that particular future comes, review our prediction and analyze causes of variance, if any. If this habit is formed, in course of time, we can learn to predict changes.

If we can sense the coming changes, understand them and try to adjust to them, we could concentrate on reducing any possible losses due to the change. In fact, we could even find out ways of benefiting from the change.

Does that mean that we become a pawn in someone’s hands? Certainly not I am reminded of a Christian prayer in this regard. It says something like this:

“Oh! Lord! Help me to change the things that I can,

Help me not to try to change the things that I cannot,

And above all dear God! Please help me to understand,

What I can what I cannot change in this world of yours!”

We have to learn to discriminate between changes that we need not adjust to and changes that we must bow to. Most trees do not react to a weak wind except to flutter their leaves. When there is a strong wind, some trees bend and are able to come back to their original position, as soon as te wind weakens. Some other trees do not bend and end up losing a few branches but survive. They may even mistakenly ne acclaimed as heroes! Continuing this policy, both types of trees react in the same way when a gust of wind of the proportions of a Typhoon comes the trees that bend to the Typhoon, get de-shaped and are not able to come back to their original position. They continue, to grow, even if in a different pattern. On the other hand trees that did not bend and stood steadfast are uprooted completely and thrown away. They die.

In a customer friendly economy, production schedules may have to change frequently and at short notice. Production facilities may have to be re-fashioned. In fact, the Japanese install many of their machines on rubber pads rather than keep them fixed on concrete. This helps them to quickly change the lay-out of the factory when warranted by the orders they receive. Like in the case of machines, in the matter of organization structure too, re-structuring may be required quite frequently. This necessarily means relocation of people manning the organization structure.

If we do not learn to adjust to powerful changes, we in our individual cases and the company, in our collective capacity, may become outdated and thrown in the dustbins. It is thus a better proposition to change ourselves in time rather than blindly oppose any and every change. We would get less pain and less loss. We might even gain something.

What advance preparations can be done to face changes of any type? We can continuously develop ourselves in a diversified manner. Newer skills, newer crafts, newer competencies mist be learnt to be able to succeed in any field that is in vogue at any given time. We never remain jobless.

Let me give you my own example. There was a huge demand for civil engineers in A.D. 1956 when I passed me B.E. (Civil) examination. I got 16 job offers in 15 days’ time! There was the question of choosing one out of them. 25 years later, the situation had changed considerably. No new projects and no need for civil engineers. Being an employee of the public sector at that time, I did lose my job (To-day I might!). I had no work, however. I found to my surprise that doing nothing was more strenuous than being actively engaged.

I use the time to develop myself in other directions. Did Public Relations work for a while before landing up as a head of the Training Department. I had hardly received ant training myself nut fortunately or because I had been doing a lot of thinking, reading and writing apart from having an innate desire to develop others, I succeeded. I liked this job so much that I decided to settle down permanently in the field of Human Resources Development. I realized that as a civil engineer, I got my kicks by watching structures with which I was professionally involved, grow into useful buildings or a desolate piece of land transform itself into a beautiful township and a sprawling factory. On switching over to H.R.D., the same kicks were now got by watching young boys and girls grow into confident and competent professionals and older people acquiring new insights, new skills and grow in a variety of directions. I found that my vision viz. growth had endured. Only the objects of growth had changed. From lifeless objects to lively people. On retirement, I found myself as a Director of a Management Institute even though I was not an MBA! Here too, I did reasonably well. After resting for a few years, I did a crazy thing I appeared at a competitive examination for admission to the MBA course, passed and completed a 3 year evening program. T- day, I am profitably and usefully engaged in teaching at the local unit of the Productivity Council.

Thus when we find that times have changed and we find ourselves obsolete and redundant, it is time for self-renewal, for self-development into diverse fields so that we can be useful somewhere or the other. For this it is necessary to learn as many skills as possible. We must learn the skills of developing our own selves so that we are totally self-reliant. For self-development, it is essential to have self-awareness as well as learn how to manage our own selves.

Friday, January 4, 2013



Objectives of the Program:

1. To understand ourselves in entirety – our physical, mental, emotional, social, professional & spiritual selves.

2. Having understood our own selves, to manage ourselves in such a manner as to achieve our life’s goals – both long term and short term.

3. To develop ourselves in areas that need improvement in a continuous manner with help from the environment around us.

How important is Self-awareness?

The MUNDAKA UPANISHAD opens with a question put by the householder Shaunaka to the sage Angras – “What is that, by knowing which, all can be known?”

Can we aspire to an all-embracing knowledge of the Universe in which the limitations of our individual viewpoints are dissolved and our necessarily partial awareness transcended? Do we have to study all the VEDAS, all the UPNISHADS and the various SHASTRAS? Isn’t there a short cut? Isn’t there an instant kind of learning?

In response, the sage Angiras said that there were two levels of knowledge. “The enlightened sages hold that knowledge is of two kinds – a lower one and a higher one. The study of the VEDAS, UPNISHADS and SHASTRAS can be called lower knowledge. The higher one is that which leads to the realization of the SELF i.e. Self-awareness, Self-Management and Self-Development.


Before we go into self-awareness, let us find out what is meant by self? Is it one’s name? Is it how one looks? Is it one’s social skills? Is it the value by which one lives? Or is it a combination of all these, that go to make up self? Self can also be described as one’s Personality, the totality of all of one’s personal characteristics.

What makes people different from each other? One is the culture that we are born in.. Maharashtra-Rural or Delhi-Cosmopolitan or Orissa-Tribal and so on. We are affected by how people around us talk, behave and eat and so on. We tend to copy them.

Next, we are affected by the caste, the family we are born in.. Is it high Caste or low Caste? Is it a big family or a small family? Are you the youngest, eldest or somewhere in the middle? All these determine how we turn out to be, as we grow up.

Then, we are affected by the atmosphere in which we are brought up.. neighbours, friends, teachers, relatives, etc. and the type and amount of exposure to various places and events. All these affect us.

We have so far talked about external factors; but there are personal factors as well. That is why even a pair of twins who have many commonalities have distinct personalities. One proof of this is the Iranian girls Ladeh & Lalan, joined at the head. They wanted to go their separate ways, even if the operation that did it had the risk of death. The fingerprints of each were different.

Each person – each self is different. Each is unique. That is what we mean when we say that the personality of Atal Bihari Bajpayee is differentfrom that of Lal Krishna Adavni and so on.



Personality may be seen as a “Sum total” of an individual which includes his physical appearance, health, intelligence, prominent emotional range, profession, social relations and spiritual make-up.


Who am I? What am I? What motivates me? What do I like? What do I dislike? How do I feel? What is the difference between thinking & feeling? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What are my energizares? What are my de-energizares? What angers me? Why does it anger me? What makes me sad? Why does it make me happy? What excites me? Why does it excite me? What are my values? What is my attitude to various aspects of life?

It is after finding correct answers to the above questions, that we become aware of our own selves.

Advantages of Self Awareness

1. One can reduce one’s losses by not crossing one’s own limitations.

2. Next, One can reduce one’s limitations with help from others as well as by one’s own efforts.

3. One can increase one’s gains by using more of one’s own strengths.

4. Next, One can increase one’s own strengths.

5. One can also turn one’s weaknesses into strengths.

6. One can develop better relations with others.

7. One can become healthy mentally, emotionally and lead a happy life.

8. One can manage one’s own self better a step necessary before managing others.

9. One can, in short, develop oneself without undergoing undue pains.

Johri Window



This is a technique for becoming more aware of one’s own self. In the above figure are shown four windows. This is called The Johri Window.

Window no. I is Transparent:

It is an area of one-self which is open to one’s own self as well as to others. Here one knows one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Others also know the same.

Window no. II:

This is a window of hidden self, which is an area that is open to one’s own self but which is closed to others. Here one knows certain things about one’s self which others do not know.

Window no. III:

This is a window which is closed to one’s own self but it is open to others. This is an area where one is not conscious of certain things in one’s own self which others can see as if by X-ray.

If we want to develop ourselves, we should try to increase Window no. I. We should also try to decrease the area of Window no. IV. While we can increase the area of Window no. I by one’s own efforts or with help from friends and relatives; for decreasing the area of Window no. IV help of a competent psycho – analyst is required.

Increasing Self-Awareness

There are two methods of increasing Self-awareness. One is Self-Disclosure after introspection. As one makes things about oneself public, one picks up more and more courage. A space is also created for more introspection i.e. Atma-Manthan, leading to more self-awareness. Window No. I is widened. One becomes more transparent and feels light as if some burden is removed.

The other method is to get feedback from others about one’s own self. Feedback is a way of helping another person to consider changing his behaviour. It is communication to a person which gives him information about some aspects of his behaviour and its efforts on you – some things that the person himself/herself has perhaps not noticed. As in a guided missile system, feedback helps an individual to know whether his behaviour is having the effect that he wants. It tells him whether he is “On target”, as he strives to achieve his goals.

Criteria for useful feedback:

The giving and receiving of feedback is a skill that can be acquired. When feedback is attempted at the wrong time in the wrong way, the results will be, at best, useless and may be disastrous. Therefore, developing feedback skills can be important. Here are some criteria for useful feedback:

• It is descriptive, rather than evaluative. It is helpful to focus on what the individual did rather than to translate his behaviour into a statement about what he is – “You have interrupted three people in the last half hour” is probably not something that a person really wants to hear, but it is likely to be more helpful than – “You are a bad mannered oaf”.

• It focuses on the feelings generated in the person who has experienced the behaviour and who is offering feedback – “When you interrupt me, I feel frustrated” gives the individual clear information about the effect of his behaviour, while at the same time leaving him free to decide what he wants to do about that effect.

• It is specific rather than general. For example, it is probably useful to learn that you “Talk too much” than to have someone describe you as “dominating”.

• It is directed towards behaviour which the receiver can do something about Frustration is increased when a person is reminded of some short-coming over which he has no control.

• It is solicited rather than imposed. Feedback is most useful when the receiver feels that he needs and wants it; when he himself has formulated the kind of question which those observing him can answer.

• It is well-timed. In general, feedback is most useful at the earliest opportunity after the given behaviour, depending of course on the receiver’s readiness to hear it, support available from others, and so on.

• It is checked to ensure clear communication. One way of doing this is to have the receiver try to rephrase the feedback in question to see whether the receiver’s version corresponds with what the sender meant.

• When feedback is given in a training group, both giver and receiver have opportunity to check its accuracy with others in the group. Thus, the receiver will know whether this is one person’s opinion or an impression shared by others.

• Feedback should not be given primarily to “dump” or “unload” on another. If you feel you have to say this to the other person, then ask yourself who it is you are trying to “help”.

• Feedback does not ask “why”. It stays within the bounds of behaviour and one’s reactions to that behaviour. To theorize about or ask why a person does a certain things is to plumb the depths of motivation and perhaps, of the unconscious. Avoiding the “whys” will help one to avoid the error of amateur psychologising.

Why do we resist it?

Given the premise that properly given feedback can be a fine way to learn about one self, what are the reasons that we resist it? For one thing, it is hard to admit our difficulties to ourselves. It is even harder to admit them to someone else. We are not sure that the other person can be trusted or that his observations are valid. We may be afraid of learning what others think of us. We often expect to hear only negative opinions about ourselves, tending to overlook our positive qualities. Or we only like to hear praises and do not want to hear unpleasant truths about ourselves.

We may have struggled so hard to make ourselves independent that the thought of depending on another individual seems to violate something within us. Or we may, during all our lives have looked for someone on whom to depend, and we try to repeat this pattern in our relationship with that helping person only.

We may be looking for sympathy and support rather than help in seeing our difficulty more clearly. When the helper tries to point out some of the ways we are contributing to the problem, which might suggest that we as well as others will have to change, we may stop listening. Solving a problem may mean uncovering some of the sides of ourselves which we have avoided or wished to avoid thinking about.

We may feel our problem is so unique, no one could ever understand it and certainly not an outsider.

On the other side of the interchange, it is not always easy to give feedback to others. Most of us like to give advice. Doing so suggests that we are competent and important. We get caught up in a telling role easily enough, without testing whether our advice is appropriate to the total issue or to the abilities, the fears or the powers of the person we are trying to help.

If the person whom we are trying to help becomes defensive, we may try to argue or pressure him. Defensiveness or denial on the part of the receiver is a clear indication that we are going about trying to be helpful in a wrong way. Our timing is off or we may be simply mistaken about his behaviour, but in any case, it is best to desist until we can re-evaluate the situation. If we respond to the receiver’s resistance with more pressure, resistance will only increase.

To be fruitful, the helping situation needs these characteristics:

1. Mutual trust

2. Perceiving the helping situation as a joint exploration

3. Careful listening with the helper’s listening more than the individual receiving help

4. Behaviour from the helper which will make it easier for the receiver of help to walk

Feedback takes into account the genuine needs of the receiver. If feedback is given in a training laboratory under the conditions described here, it can become one of primary means of learning about self.


Once you are aware of your own self, the next step before Self-Development is that of Self-Management or Self-Regulation. If you want to manage others, should you not first be managing your own self? Can one, who cannot manage even his own self, manage others? There is one other reason for Self-Management - for those who are able to manage their own selves, the boss has very little to instruct. The boss remains happy with a subordinate who manages himself and as we shall see later, even the self managing subordinate remains happy himself. It is a win-win situation. Both boss and subordinate are happy. So is the organization.

Now let us see what is involved in Self-Management. Basically the following:-

1. Self-Control

2. Trustworthiness

3. Conscientiousness

4. Adaptability

5. Innovation

6. Self-Motivation, consisting of –

i. Achievement drive

ii. Commitment

iii. Initiative

iv. Optimism

Let us see each of these, one by one.

Self Control:

Keeping self control means keeping in check disruptive tendencies which take one away from one’s own goals and regulating one’s Self-Talk (what one says to one’s own self in one’s own mind) so as to check impulsive emotions as the outset itself. Self-Talk is said to be the engine of the subsequent train of one’s behaviour. One can also use relaxation techniques, Yoga,etc. for checking one’s impulses.

People having the competence of Self Control are able to

a. Manage their impulsive feelings and distressing emotions well

b. Stay composed, positive and unflappable even in trying moments

c. Think clearly and stay focused under pressure


This competence can be achieved by establishing and maintaining personal standards of Honesty and Integrity. This makes others comfortable and confident of what they can expect of you.

People having the competence of Trustworthiness do the following –

a. Act ethically and are above reproach

b. Build trust through their reliability & authenticity.

c. Admit their own mistakes and confront others for their unethical actions.

d. Take tough and principled stands even if they are unpopular


This competence means responsibility for personal performance (rather than blaming others).

People with this competence do the following –

a. Meet commitments made by them and keep their promises.

b. Hold their own selves accountable for meeting their own objectives.

c. Remain organized and careful in their work.


For this quality it is necessary to have –

a. Flexibility of mind, body & emotions

b. Ability to bend oneself physically, mentally and emotionally in the direction desired by one’s own self depending on circumstances.

People with this competence are able to –

a. Handle smoothly multiple demands, shifting priorities and rapid changes.

b. Adapt their responses and tactics to fit fluid circumstances

c. Remain flexible in how they see events

d. Respond appropriately to changes without losing sleep


Innovation involves being comfortable with novel ideas, approaches and new information. It requires one to remove the fear of the strange.

a. Seek out fresh ideas from a wide variety of sources

b. Entertain original solutions to problems

c. Generate new ideas

d. Take fresh perspectives and risks in their thinking

Self Motivation:

The best motivation is Self Motivation. Nobody can make us do a job better than the one we want to do and the one which we enjoy doing

For Self Motivation to occur, the following are essential –

A. Achievement drive

Desire and action involved in striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence and to feel motivated intrinsically by the achievement itself constitutes self-motivation.

People having the competence of Achievement drive are –

i. Results-oriented with high drive to meet their own objectives and standards

ii. Those who set challenging goals for themselves and take calculated risks

iii. Pursuing information to reduce uncertainty and find ways to do better than before

iv. Continuously learning how to improve their performance

B. Commitment

Commitment is aligning one self and one’s personal goals with the goals of the group, organization or society at large, that one belongs to and sticking to them till fruition.

People with this competence –

i. Readily make sacrifices to meet a larger organizational goal

ii. Find a sense of purpose in the larger mission

iii. Use the group’s core values in making decisions and clarifying values

iv. Actually seek out opportunities to fulfil the group’s mission

C. Initiative

Initiative is the readiness to act on opportunities including the ability to sense opportunities.

People with the competence of Initiative are –

I. Ready to seize opportunities

II. Pursuing goals beyond what is required or expected of them

III. Cutting through Red Tape and bending the rules when necessary to get the job done

IV. Mobilizing others through unusual, enterprising efforts

V. Proactive rather than reactive

D. Optimism

Optimism is persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and hurdles.

People possessing this competence –

i. Persist in seeking goals despite obstacles & setbacks

ii. Operate from hope of success rather than fear of failure

iii. See setback as due to manageable circumstances rather than as a personal flaw

When we are able to do complete Self Management, we are in a position to develop ourselves with whatever help is available from our environment. We become what is called emotionally intelligent. Then sky is the limit. There is no reason why we cannot transform ourselves into an Ambani or a Mahatma Gandhi, a Swami Vivekanand or a Ramana Maharshi.


Dimensions of development:

What does one mean by development of an individual? There are various interpretations. Some of these are very limited in scope. They are restricted to the level of material achievements, such as income and wealth, or social climbing in terms of status & visibility.

A more comprehensive conception of human development includes the following four elements:

i. Knowledge: of concepts, theories, economy, market, etc.

ii. Skills: the ability to use knowledge as appropriate, exhibiting different mix of skills at different levels of responsibility, consisting of technical, behavioural and conceptual skills.

iii. Attitudes: towards work, quality, service, relationships, groups, authority, discipline, influence, etc. Behind attitudes are underlying values and beliefs about one’s role in the family, institution and society.

iv. Habits: work habits of order, punctuality, follow-up, time management, etc. and personal life habits for physical health, joy & tranquillity.

It will be appreciated that there is hardly any upper limit on the scope for one’s development. In fact, each level of progression is development with respect to the earlier level, but is only the base from which to strive for the next higher level.

Of the above four components, perhaps knowledge is the easiest to acquire. It can be acquired somewhat mechanically. Skills need greater efforts to develop. So much knowledge remains unexploited for lack of skills. Discarding destructive attitudes and developing constructive ones is more stressful to the individual in the short run, but potentially of great benefit in the long run. The human paradox and the tragedy is that bad habits are easy to form and good habits are easy to break. It has been observed that part of the learning from formal training courses remains unutilized because habits of work and social behaviour of the individual are slow to change.

Blocks to development:

Every individual has potential. Human resources development systems and experiences are capable of developing and utilizing this potential. But they cannot guarantee development. They are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for human development. It is necessary for the individual himself to remove the following blocks in the path of his own development.

Self image:

Our behaviour is more influenced by self-image, rather than by self-concept. The image is how we think of ourselves, The concept is how others perceive us. The latter is often more realistic. The gap between the two – image and concept, if substantial, will tend to act as a block to the individual’s development.


The difference is called “fantasy”. It can either be an over-valuation of himself, by the individual, or an under-estimate. It is more often the former. If so, it can lead to complacency, inaction, over-confidence and possibly superiority complex. In case of under rating oneself, it manifests itself in withdrawal, dependence, lack of initiative and possibly inferiority complex.


Either way the fantasy element in self-image acts as filter on experience. It prevents the individuals from perceiving his experiences correctly. He tends to selectively perceive that part which agrees with his fantasy. So, unsatisfactory results may be seen as high performance by the individual. Conversely, another individual may be discouraged or even depressed by good results.

Feedback Distortion:

Learning is a process of absorbing feedback from the environment. The distortion is due to the fact that most individuals have a preference for positive feedback. Praise is highly agreeable. One tends to exaggerate it further. Negative feedback is irksome. One tends to ignore it completely or at least to minimize it. In saner moments, the individual may appreciate that constructive criticism is helpful. But even when it is couched in mild language, it evolves a defensive response. One tends to underplay it. The temptation is to find explanations and scapegoats.


Let us suppose an individual has crossed some of these hurdles and realized that learning is the path to development. A further block is a narrow view of development, primarily as the accumulation of more knowledge, with inadequate emphasis on skills, attitudes and habits.

Steps in Self Development:

Are these insurmountable? Is there hope for the individual? Yes, of course, there is. We can draw the following guidelines, by observing highly developed individuals in different walks of life.

Self Awareness:

The first is to be constantly aware of the possibility of a fantasy element in one’s self perception. It is a commitment to be interested in how others perceive one self, and to evolve a better understanding and estimate of oneself not as a one-time exercise but for all time.

Seeking Feedback:

The second step is to be open to feedback from one’s environment of events, objects and people. We have seen the difficulties in “receiving” feedback. The individual needs to remind himself constantly to modestly underplay praise, but take even mild criticism seriously & examine it for the underlying message and learning. He can go further and “perceive” feedback on his own. He can do this by increasing his sensitivity, picking up all verbal and non-verbal reactions to his words and deeds. Such perceptual ability liberates him to that extent from dependence on others, who feel adequately concerned enough to observe him and take risks in giving him negative feedback.


The third step is to identify the realistic elements in the fantasy and convert them into future visions, fully realizing that they are yet to be achieved and cannot be assumed away.

Growth Plan:

It is then possible to identify the gap between the self-vision and today’s state of development of the self-concept. A self development action plan can be worked out in order to bridge the gap.


In such a growth plan, one needs to reduce the lopsided emphasis on knowledge alone. The necessary stress can be put on the other components of learning, namely attitudes, skills and habits. Specific behavioural strategies can be pursued for each element of learning.

i. Curiosity - for knowledge accumulation

ii. Practice - for sharpening skills

iii. Introspection - for modifying unhelpful attitudes

iv. Self-Discipline – for weeding out unwanted habits & acquiring or strengthening desired habits

Without these steps, an individual will not develop much even with the best of appraisal, counselling, training and development systems. Through these steps, the individual can develop on his own effort, even if his enterprise is not progressive enough to have a HRD system. By these steps, the individual can interact optimally with a HRD system, to the mutual benefit of himself and the institution. With such growing individuals, the institution can become a great instrument for social good.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


NOTE:- I think, I must mention here what led me to write this article. In the beginning of my career, I got 3 quick promotions in a span of a little over 5 years. I also got a lot of recognition for my efforts, my enthusiasm, my achievements and so on. Subsequently, while recognition came, no promotions did. This led me at first to apportioning blame on my bosses, particularly since my other role members appreciated my work and were bewildered at my being left out. I found that the fault lay with the system of depending on only one person for appraising an employee. Hence this article. It was written in 1984 - 85 and published in the January - March 1986 issue of "SYNERGY" , the house journal of Indianoil Management academy, an academy that was run by my employer. The concept outlined here, after a lot of work done on it by a whole lot of people, is these days, known as 360 degrees appraisal. In 1992, General Electric adopted it for the appraisal of its employees. When I was doing my M.B.A. at the M.S. University of Baroda in 2000 - 03, I had done a project on introduction of 360 degrees appraisal system in IPCL. The article is now being posted on my blog in order that all the work that I have done so far is available in one place.


Whereas the present performance appraisal system consisting of an appraisal - annually done of an employee's performance - by his superior may be adequate in the case of juniors, the same would need further elaboration in the case of Senior Executives or for a group of persons or for a department responsible for some function. What is outlined below is a kind of functional health survey in respect of an individual's working, a group's functioning, a department's functioning or a company's functioning or the functioning of a group of companies and so on.


Any senior executive deals with the following persons / groups of persons.
a) Superior / Superiors,
b) Subordinates,
c) Peers,
d) Subordinates of peers ( Occasionally ),
e) Agencies providing services / goods,
f) Customers ( Internal or External ), Clients, Departments for whom goods are produced or services are rendered.

The present system of appraisal by Superior amounts to appraisal by only one of the six persons / groups mentioned above. It is therefore quite likely that the appraisal may not be thorough in all its aspects.

What is proposed therefore is that the appraisal should be done by all the persons / groups mentioned above apart from self appraisal so as to get more objective and more broadbased overall appraisal of the performance of the individual.

The first question that would arise is whether it is feasible. It would become feasible if the frequency is once during the occupation of a particular position by the individual rather than making it annually. One would have to design the performance appraisal format in the form of a short questionnaire which would have to be different in all the six cases in view of the disparate expectations from the individual under appraisal, by each of the six above. However the present format would do for self-appraisal as well as appraisal by the superior.

The questionnaire would have to be administered by an interviewer ( preferably from an outside agency ), in order that time is not lost in filling it. Putting signature on the questionnaire would be optional for the interviewee. The interviewer would have to be well-versed in behavioural science, especially in interviewing techniques.

Information compiled from the above should be given in the form of a feedback to the individual under appraisal as a group average along with striking departures from the average in order that he gets a fairly accurate picture of his performance. He would be able to appreciate the gap between self-image and his image in others' minds.

The samples of questionnaires are given at Annexure 'A'. These questionnaires are only illustrative in nature and can be modified to suit specific cases. The functional Health Survey would help an individual to leadership, group membership and customer satisfying attributes.


In the case of a group or a department, its inter-action takes place with the following :-
a) Superior Group - Head Office in case of a branch, Corporate Office / Board of Directors in case of a head office, relevant ministry in case of a Public Sector Undertaking and so on.
b) Subordinate groups as a converse of the groups mentioned in a) above.
c) Peer groups - other branch offices or same department in other branch offices etc.
d) External Agencies through which the group or department functions and
e) The client groups for whom the goods are produced or to whom services are rendered.

At present, the performance of a group or a department is presented by itself and appraised by its superior group. This would amount to a self-appraisal and review by the superior. It is certainly better than a mere appraisal by the superior. It however falls short of the more broad-based appraisal that is proposed here.

I would lay particular stress on the appraisal by the client groups since after all, all the activities of the appraisee group are ultimately meant for serving the client groups. As an organization becomes bigger and more complex, this aspect is often forgotten, resulting in mass dissatisfaction and apathy.

An occasional functional health survey, say once in 2 or 3 years, would help the department to take corrective steps and improve upon its performance. It would also help the department to coalesce themselves more into the group ethic, become a more effective part of the bigger unit and satisfy its client groups to a greater extent.

It needs to be said that both in the case of the individual as well as the group, the functional health survey has to be carried out on a selective basis, both in terms of selection of the individuals / departments as well as in terms of its timing.

More emphasis has to be laid on the outcome of the findings of the functional health survey for proposing remedial actions, in monitoring their progress and whether a subsequent functional health survey shows effective improvement. If it is carried out on a routine basis for all individuals / departments, there is a risk of its degenerating into a cumbersome ritual.



1. How much does he function by the authority of his position ?
2. How much does he function by personal relationships ?
3. Does the appraiser feel that he is able to give his best under the appraisee i.e. his boss ?
4. Does he inspire confidence in you ?
5. Does he encourage you to carry out new ideas ? Does he give you suggestions, possible pitfalls in any ideas that you have ?
6. Does he give you an opportunity to implement new ideas ?
7.Is he rule / system bound / Or is he a law unto himself ? Or does he selectively use his discretion ? Is he approachable ?
8. Is he a good / active listener ?
9. Is he a good communicator ? Does he give clear instructions ?
10. Are his instructions effective ? Does he also tell you the underlying purpose ?
11. How does he face an abnormal situation ? Does he take charg ? Does he also inspire you to take charge in your own sphere?
12. Is he himself disciplined ? Is he punctual ? Does he follow the norms/rules formed by the organization ?
13. Does he take quick decisions ? Or does he make you to come a number of times for the same thing ?
14. Does he give you feedback on the work done by you ?
15. Does he have double standards ?
16. Does he pat you on the back for good work done by you ?
17. Does he reprimand you for any mistakes ? Does he ask you what you have learnt from your mistake ?
18. Is he impartial ?
19. Does he have a mind of his own ?
20. To what extent can he put his foot down on unreasonable demands ?
21. Is he honest enough (intellectually and emotionally) to own up his share of the blame in a mistake involving you ?
22. How much time does he have for your problem ?
23. Does he make compromises or does he always insist on his way of working ?
24. Does he lay down pririties for you to follow ?
25. Does he invite/encourage you to criticize him ?
26. Do you feel that you have been able to develop yourself during the period that you worked under him ? If so, mention specific areas.
27. What are his traits that you dislike ?
28. What are his best qualities?
29. Does he command your following ? Do you accerpt him as a leader ?
30. Does he delegate responsibility to you ? If so, does he also delegate requisite authority ?


1. Do you find the appraise co-operative ?
2. Does he fulfill your expectations from him ?
3. Are the goods/services offered by him/his department upto your requirement of quality/quantity/timing ?
4. When due to reasons beyond your control, your requirements from him/his department undergo a change, is he able to make consequent changes in his sphere to suit your requirements ?
5. Does he normally plan his work in consultation with you or does he come up at the last minute with some problem ?
6. Does he offer you help on his own in solving your foreseen/unforeseen problems ?
7. Is he able to anticipate your requirements ?
8. Does he keep you informed of his plans and any changes in the plans previously communicated ?
9. How would you rate him as a team member ?
10. Would you like to work as a team member under his leadership in an activity which is a mainstream activity for him ?
11. Would you like to include him as a team member under your leadership for some specific tasks ?
12. Do you consider that he has an adequate hold over his department ? Or do you have to approach a subordinate of his for getting your work done by his department ?
13. Does he insist that he and he alone should be approached for getting anything done in his department ? Or do your subordinates find his subordinates confident of making a commitment on behalf of their department on an issue not involving policy matters ?
14. How much rapport has he been able to buildup with your next in command so as to be able to handle situations in your absence ?


1. Are the goods produced / services rendered by the appraisee easily available to you ?
2. Is this availability timely ?
3. Is this in required quantities ?
4. Is this upto the standards of quality required by you ?
5. Are your dealings with the appraisee pleasant ?


1. How is the appraisee to deal with ? Does he fulfill his part of the contract / agreement ?
2. Is he flexible in case of your genuine difficulty ? Or does he insist on his pound of flesh irrespective of any problems that you may have ?
3. Is he approachable ?
4. Do you find any difficulty in settlement of your running account ?
5. Do you deal with him only on all issues Or are you able to deal with his subordinates ?
6. Does he often plead about being bound by rules ?
7. Does he leave a good taste in your mouth on completion of a deal ?
8.Would you like to deal with him again ?
9. Are your final dues settled quickly ?

Friday, October 21, 2011


NOTE:- This was wrtten in early part of A.D. 1970 and published in the April 1970 issue of my employer's house journal then known as GBJHP News.

A new method of improving the soil bearing capacity is being employed at Haldia. This is the sandwicking process about which many have heard and are consequently curious about it. What follows is an attempt at explaining it to the layman.

As you all know, every structure needs a foundation. These foundations are placed on the ground. When the ground is strong as in the case of rock, very heavy structures can be placed on it without any elaborate foundations; whereas when it consists of a weak soil, costly foundations have to be provided.

The soil at Haldia is very weak. It can not support a load of more than half to one kilogram per square centimetre in most places. In such soils, we usually provide pile foundations. Piles are made of concrete, wood, metal etc. Concrete is however the most popular material for piles. These piles are driven into the ground till they refuse to go anymore. Then on top of a number of liles, a concrete "cap" is cast. On the pile cap, the structure is built. The piles provide strong foundations and do not permit any appreciable settlement of the structure founded on them. They are however a costly business. Therefore, whenever we can avoid them, we naturally try to do so. While equipment foundations do not tolerate any settlement, our storage tanks can take a certain amount of settlement, though not as much as one metre which is the expected settlement of untreated soil at Haldia as per a recent soil survey. Thus we can avoid piling under storage tanks and sandwicking which takes care of most of this settlement in advance appears to be a good solution. We hope to save about Rs. three and a half crores by adopting sandwicking.

The process of sandwicking is as follows :-
First, a hole is made into the ground with the help of a small drilling rig similar to ones used for making small bore wells. The sandwick which is a long and narrow jute hosepipe (about 80 m.m. in diameter) is then inserted in this hole. Such sandwicks are placed at an interval of two and a half metres both ways under the tank foundations. the ground is then "loaded" with sand. A heap of sand of pre-determined height is made over the foundations. The weight of this sand is equal to 100 % to 150% of the maximum load of the tank. As you know water is heavier than oil. Therefore the tank carries its heaviest load when it is filled with water during testing for leaks etc. This is the condition taken into account while determining the height of the sand heap. The heap of sand is allowed to remain in place for a period varying from 12 to 17 weeks. This is called preloading. During this period, an interesting phenomenon takes place. The ground under the heap of sand begins to settle. How does this happen ?

The soil consists of a number of layers of different materials. Some layers are pervious i.e. they allow passage of water and some do not in other words, they are impervious. The sandwick penetrates through both pervious and impervious layers. All these layers contain water particles. Due to preloading the water is sqeezed out and the sandwick (made from specially selected coarse variety unlike the sand used for preloading which can be of even fine variety) provides a channel for carrying away the water particles from the soil by capillary action. As the water is squeezed out, the soil contracts in the same way as when a ROSSOGULLA is squeezed. If the sandwicking is not done, the tanks would keep on settling down for a long period of time, giving perpetual headaches to our maintenance people. By adopting this process, we are allowing the settlement in advance and in a short period. We are also avoiding another scourge of the maintenance staff. This is one of an uneven settlement, causing the tank to tilt sideways and spill some of its contents. The bearing capacity of the soil is improved uniformly under the tank and it can take greater loads than before.

In the case of tanks of smaller diameter, what we do is to drive the sandwicks and prepare tank pad consisting of earth or fine sand of about the same height as the expected settlement. On this the tank itself is is erected and gradually filled with water. This is called hydraulic preloading. Here also, the preload is kept for 12 to 17 weeks during which the settlement takes place. The settlement is measured by means of settlement stakes. The water is then gradually pumped out. In the case of sand preloading also, the sand is removed after 90 % of the full settlement has taken place. This sand is now taken to another tank foundation and used there for prelosding. To minimise the quantity of preloading sand, a ring like a fortress made up of sand bags is built around the peripherry of the tank foundation and sand is then filled in this fortress. The preloading sand heaps' slopes would have hindered work in adjoining areas. As you know Haldia site has difficult access to it and bringing a huge quantity of sand to the site would have posed more problems. Sandbag walls have helped to save about 20% of the preloading sand.

You would be interested to know that the sandwicking process has been developed by an Indian engineer and besides Haldia, it is also being used inthe salt lake area of Calcutta (Kolkata).

Sunday, October 9, 2011


This was written for my employer's house journal. It was published in September 1971 issue of GBJHP NEWS of the Refineries & Pipelines Division of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. The Editor's comments on this piece are given below.

EDITOR'S COMMENTS :- Shri R N Desai is the one for asking inconvenient questions. But he knows how to get away with them, with the magic that he weaves with his words around the swift stabs of his hard, cold facts. His views may be challenged by both "the Management" and "the Unions". So, let it be. The columns of GBJHP NEWS are open to all.


A question like this is bound to shake fellow Civil Engineers if not others as well. In these days of Science and Technology however, we have to constantly question ourselves whether what we have been traditionally doing continues to be right in a given set of circumstances.

I do not know the cost of other townships in the GBJHP family (GBJHP was an acronym used for Gauhati, Barauni, Jawaharnagar, Haldia refineries and Pipelines). Our own Haldia township is however estimated to cost Rs. 2.5 Crores for a total of 730 residential units of various types with the attendent facilities. This gives an average cost of Rs. 34200/- per unit.

Townships have been criticised as a drag on the public sector finances. a capital of Rs.2.5 Crores blocked in the townships involves us in interest charges of Rs.22.5 lakhs per year. Add to this the maintenance cost at the rate of 1 per cent of the capital. This amounts to another Rs.2.5 lakhs p.a. Add the salaries of the maintenance staff and overheads. The total recurring expenditure excluding depreciation, would exceed Rs. 27 lakhs.

Divide this amount by the number of employees accommodated to give you an expenditure of Rs. 3700/- p.a. or Rs. 310/- per month per employee. No doubt, the employees pay rent but the average rent could be taken to be only Rs. 30/- p.m. In other words, our Company subsidises us to the extent of Rs. 280/- p.m. in the matter of housing. Do we count this blessing when we recount our woes ?

My aim in writing this article, is however not to extol the munificence of the management. The point that arises is whether we can afford it. Must be, since we are still making profits ! But isn't there some way by which we can cut down on this expenditure apart from saving Rs. 2.5 Crores for productive invesiment elsewhere ?

The distinguished scientist-cum-industrialist -cum- lately turned government servant, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai has pointed out that every public sector enterprise must determine the mainstream of its activities and concentrate on it. Our mainstream of activities is obviously refining and selling oil. Should not every paisa available to us for investment be put in this mainstream ?

The question that comes up next is, how are we to house our employees ? The answer is simple. Let them live in their own houses ! It was already shown in an earlier article ( How not to lose Rs. 750/- p.m. ? published in March-April 1971 issue ) how advantageous it is for an individual to build his own residence. But where is the initial capital to come from ? Obviously, the employees barring a few, can not invest their money in building houses even if they have the necessary amount. The money must come from organizations whose mainstream of activities is to lend money. The LIC and the nationalized banks already have a scheme in this regard. For those of us who have put in more than six years of service, our Company has already decided to give 80 % of the cost of a house as a loan.

The instalments for the repayment of the loan would be heavy - on an average about Rs. 295/- p.m. and beyond the reach of most employees. But then can the Company not spend a part of the subsidy of Rs. 280/- p.m. that it is now spending on house rent allowances ? Say, Rs. 265/- p.m. could be paid as HRA which together with Rs. 30/- p.m. would make Rs. 295/- p.m. In any case, we have rules by which house rent allowance is paid to the employees who stay in their own houses.

What would be the Company's role in this scheme of things ? The Company would have to act as a catalyst. It would acquire the land, develop it, prepare a town plan, build roads,water, sewer and power lines, divide the land into plots and lease them out to the employees. Proportionate cost of these common services would be charged to the employees. It would initially run the municipal services and later hand over this function to a committee of employees. The Company would also build public buildings such as hospitals, schools, clubs, cinemas etc. out of welfare funds. A few quarters would have to be built for the small number of construction personnel coming to the site. These would later, be utilized for the small percentage of employees who are subject to transfers. Space would also have to be left in the township for later entrants who replace personnel retiring from service.

If we ponder further over this matter, it should be possible to make out a scheme that is mutually advantageous to the Company as well as the employees.To summarise, the advantages of adopting this scheme are as follows :-

1) The Company sticks to the mainstream of its activities. A capital of Rs. 2.5 Crores would be released for increasing the refinery capacity.

2) Recurring expenditure of Rs. 27 lakhs per year apart from depreciation could be reduced.

3) Every employee would be a house owner. He would have a stake in the refinery. He would become more responsible as he would have been exposed to a sort of entrepreneurship.

It would obviously not be possible to change the scheme of things already decided upon in the case of Haldia Refinery except for any further quarters that we may require for expansion. We could, however, give a thought to this matter for our future requirements and formulate a scheme as a sort of pilot project for the next refinery that comes up.

This is one small way in which we can put into practice democratic socialism that many are talking about !

The article ends here

The Editor in a footnote added as follows :-


The bare cost of building the refinery townships at Gauhati, Barauni and Jawaharnagar adds upto over Rs. 551 Lakhs plus. The breakdown of the total cost in respect of the three townships and the number of units that the said cost represents is given below :-

Gauhati - Rs. 150 Lakhs for 641 units

Barauni - Rs. 295 Lakhs for 1487 units

Jawaharnagar - Rs. 106 Lakhs for only 932 units the refinery has.

The cost of additional units and that representing additional related expenditure has not been included in the above figures.


As anticipated, a Letter to the Editor arrived and was published in the Nov.-Dec.1971 issue of the same journal. It is preceded by the Editor's comment on it.

Editor's Comment :- By many accounts, Shri R N Desai is the most - read writer of the GBJHP family. Here is some further testimony, but of a kind which may not be relished by the ever-growing tribe of Desai fans.





I was grossly amused to read Mr. Desai's seeming homily on building townships.... er... I mean not building them. On reading it, I was reminded of the story of Kalidasa, the ancient poet, who was one day found sitting pretty on the branch of a tree and merrily hacking away at it where it forked - apparently oblivious of his imminent peril. Unless of course, mr. desai is training his eyes on a cushy job in the Planning Commission, i do not know why he should deal such a heavy blow to his own tribe. An unfortunate band that finds its role shrinking in this bouncing Oil Industry - a Chairman from the clan notwithstanding. ( An allusion to the fact that our then Chairman Mr. Ramabrahmam was a civil engineer.)

Mr. Desai must have meant it as a joke. How else could he - a brilliant mind that he is - overlook these points. The township planned at Haldia at a total cost of Rs. 250 Lakhs is meant for 600 refinery personnel and 130 (approx.) from Marketing, Pipelines, Excise etc. Since people from the last named departments and about 100 from refinery will be holding prospect of frequent transfers, houses for them will have to be built by the Company. Now the division of capital expenditure on township is Rs. 207 Lakhs and Rs. 43 Lakhs for others.

The estimated expenditure of Rs. 207 Lakhs includes the cost of a hospital, a school, a club, a community centre and a guest house, totalling nearly Rs. 20 Lakhs. As the author suggests that these social amenities should be provided by the Company, I also excluded them from my computation. Hence for housing 600 personnel of the refinery, the Company is spending about Rs. 187 Lakhs. Since 100 persons out of that 600 will be transferred in and out, it leaves us with us with the housing problem of 500 only who can be given the benefit of Mr. Desai's revolutionary idea. Let us examine it in detail.

The unproductive expenditure on the houses and ancillaries construction for 500 stationary personnel at Haldia Township will be 5/6 x 187 = Rs. 152 Lakhs (say). The payback period of the refinery has been worked out to be 8 years. If this amount of Rs.152 Lakhs is to be paid back in 8 years, we will illustrate position after the 4th year to get an idea of the average yearly commitment of the Company on this score.

Position in the 5th year

1. Repayment instalment 152/8 = 19 Lakhs

2.Interest @ 9 % on half
the capital as the other
half has already been paid 152/2 x 0.09 = 7.86 Lakhs

3.Maintenance @ 1.5 %
including the
emoluments of the maintenance
personnel 152 x 0.015 = 2.28 Lakhs

4.Land rentals for 45 acres 0.81/29.95 Lakhs
Less return as rent @ Rs.30
per month per capita for 500
persons only 1.81/28.15 Lakhs

TOTAL ( say ) Rs. 28 Lakhs

Mr. Desai recommends in the name of democratic socialism that Company should subsidize @ Rs. 255 per month per capita. That works out to a yearly burden of 500 x 12 x 250 (say) = Rs. 15 Lakhs on which there is no return. Deducting this amount from the average yearly commitment as worked out earlier, we find that the Company is spending nearly Rs. 13 Lakhs on 500 employees for their accommodation for the first 8 years only. The commitment adds upto 104 Lakhs in 8 years' time. This amount of Rs. 13 Lakhs is equal to only one day's production of the refinery whose sale receipts for the first year is estimated to be Rs. 36 Crores. Now an expenditure of less than 0.5 % of the annual turnover on housing is negligible.

But the latent returns in the form of better industrial climate and higher productivity as a result of conducive environmental psychology is incomputable. Who can say that the sparkling and consistent performance of our boys at Baroda (reference is to our refinery at Jawaharnagar at Baroda or Vadodara in Gujarat) has not been due to the wonderful living conditions at their township. In one single year, they earned enough profit to pay back the initial cost of their township 5 times over. ( Figures in the Editor's footnote above indicate that the cost of Jawaharnagar township per residential unit was the lowest !)

Now back to calculations. After the 8th year, the Company is spending nothing, except may be the amount it would have earned as interest on the extra 104 Lakhs it has spent over preceding eight years towards employees' accommodation. from 9th year onwards the Company would be saving an amount of Rs. 6 Lakhs (15.00 - 9.00) by building its own township, expenditure on land rentals and maintenance expenses being offset by rent collected. That is by 25th year, she (it) would have wiped out the unproductive initial investment of Rs. 104 Lakhs and thence in comparison, mr. desai's idea would be a constant drain on the Company's resources, with added headaches in finding new plots of land, developing, leasing out to employees (and the attendent troubles) etc. once in nearly every 20 years. And finally mr. Desai props up his figures by a tangential reference to depreciation on which he does not dwell elaborately, leaving the reader to make his own guess. Here is the catch.

Only in his last article, he had shown us how we were losing Rs. 750 p.m. by not building a house. The burden of his article was the innocent assumption that a property in an urban area appreciates to 10 times its initial value in twenty years' time. That way the township in Haldia (which is destined to become a major port city) now being built at a cost of Rs. 2.5 Crores will be worth 25 crores in 20 years' time, a favourable element which i have kept out of my calculations.

Now, come Mr. Desai, "Heads I win and tails you lose" is too old a gimmick to carry even temporary conviction. Your facts are quite cold but unfortunatrly they are not hard enough.

Yours etc.
An Admirer
(Some Admirer - Ed.)


My response to the Admirer's letter to the Editor

Dear Sir.
I have read with interest the letter with the above caption from " An Admirer " (sic). The 'Admirer' appears to have shed a lot of tears on behalf of Civil Engineers. This would lead one to believe that he is one of that tribe. It seems however that the tears have been wasted.

The Civil Engineer was once likened to a donkey by a former chief of mine - himself a Civil Engineer. Donkeys, he used to say, are the beasts of burden and till the advent of mechanized transport, did a lot of carriage work for the Civil Engineer. A Civil Engineer's status, in the old days therefore, was measured by the number of donkeys working on his site. His main reson for the analogy however, was that the Civil Engineer, like the donkey, could be kicked by anyone - even by a housewife. And like the donkey, he remains insensitive to any kicking or flogging. To him, it is just one of the routines of life. He plods along his own way, come hail or high wind. If a donkey is a happy animal, a Civil Engineer is a happy human. He becomes either a crook or a philosopher. (Even in our Company, he either gets retrenched - with full benefits to be sure - or he becomes the Chairman. God, my former chief used to say, does not worry himself over only two species - the donkey and the Civil Engineer !

Some would agree with this statement on the assumption that the Civil Engineer would, like the brother-in-law of a king, make himself comfortable for himself, even if assigned to count sea - waves ! (Apparently he stopped all fishing and shipping in the area as it interfered with his royal duty of counting sea - waves. For any exceptions that he made, he charged personal levies. Our present day royal hangers-on have found any number of reasons for personal levies !) .

Frivolity apart, I do not agree that employment of Civil Engineers would decrease by adoption of the scheme suggested in ' SHOULD WE BUILD TOWNSHIPS '. It may even increase. How ? Well, it is a CIvil Engineer's secret ! When winds of change blow, it is wise to bend rather than get uprooted. The ingenious Civil Engineer will, I am sure, bend and find a way.

Coming to the statistics quoted by my admiring Confucius (or is it Confusius ?), he deducts the figure of Rs. 15 Lakhs p.a. from the recurring cost of Rs. 28 lakhs p.a. Actually, these costs are mutually exclusive, being comparative. If I take into account depreciation, the annual recurring costs would be 28 + 250/20= 28+12.17 = 40.17 Lakhs p.a. as against rs. 15 Lakhs p.a. in the form of house rent allowance to the employees, making my scheme even more attractive. There is thus no catch anywhere. Even if as statistically contended, the Company could make up the investment in 25 years' time, there are perpetual headaches in maintenance, allotments etc. which are much more troublesome than finding additional land space once in 20 years.

Thus the the contention that the total extra expenditure is only Rs. 104 Lakhs is not correct. The extra expenditure is Rs. 25.17 Lakhs per year which in 8 years' time, would, amount to Rs. 201.36 Lakhs. To wipe out this amount of Rs. 201.36 Lakhs, it would take infinite number of years ! The interest charges on this amount alone would be Rs. 18 Lakhs as against a house rent allowance of rs. 15 lakhs per year.

Finally, the ' Admirer ' is afraid of the Company is afraid of the company losing the increment in the value of the township over a period of years. To this, the question is - Will or can the Company sell the township ? Will or can the Company raise the rents ? No, it would not even if it could. And the value of a property is judged by these factors. However for the individual employee, the value would increase as he has no such limitations. Hasn't someone said about something being good for the goose not being necessarily so for the gander ?

---R N Desai
P.S. :- Isn't it a good thing for all concerned that the "Admirer" has refrained from saying whom or what he is admiring ?



It is 40 years since the above was written. Following my own advice, I had built a house then for myself on a 5000 Sq.Ft. plot costing a total of Rs. 42000/- (Forty two thousand only) at Vadodara in Gujarat. Today, I am told that it can be sold for Rs.1,50,00,000/- (One Crore and fifty Lakhs only) . The Company did not accept my scheme (of not building townships) due perhaps to the then existing mind set. I do not know what is the position in other Indian Oil townships but I am told that about 400 quarters are lying vacant in the Jawaharnagar township at Vadodara (Baroda) in Gujarat. They are not known to have been sold. A large number of employees have built their own houses and have an experience similar to mine. Many out of towners and even Non-Gujaratis among the employees have built or bought houses/flats here. In general, all over India, a house building spree is still on. Civil Engineers, once almost wholly dependent on the government/public sector for jobs, after a short period of glut, are today in great demand again in both public and private sector as judged by the rush for admissions to Civil Engineering discipline.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


NOTE :- This article was published perhaps in the inaugural issue of Haldia Refinery News or soon thereafter. It records the dreams of planners of those days. Maybe, now is the time to take a stock of the situation by interviewing the various stakeholders to find out if the dreams were fulfilled. I hope that someone would do it in a dispassionate manner for our future learnings.


SIXTH DECEMBER 1969 will carve out for itself a place in the annals of the socio-economic history of West Bengal, nay of India. On this memorable day, the foundation stone was laid by Hon. Dr. Triguna Sen, Minister of Petrleum,& Chemicals. Mines and Metals, Government of India at Haldia for the construction of a most complex refinery under the Indian Oil Corporation Limited.

Till recently, Haldia was a typical Indian village but now, it holds out a promise of great economic and industrial re-awakening to the people not only of West Bengal but also to the entire India. Haldia Refinery Project is a public sector oil refinery fully owned by the Government of India that is by the people of India.

The first refinery in the public sector was commissioned on !st January 1962 at Gauhati for processing 0.75 million tonnes of indigenous crude oil with Rumanian assistance. In 1964, the second refinery was built at Barauni in the state of Bihar for processing 2 million tonnes of crude oil from Assam oil fields with Soviet Union's assistance.. The third refinery was built at Jawaharnagar in Gujarat in 1966 for processing 3 million tonnes of Ankleshwar crude oil, again with Soviet assistance.

Haldia refinery is the fourth link in the chain of oil refineries owned and operated by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. When Haldia refinery goes on stream, we shall be processing 2.5 million tonnes of crude oil which will be imported from the Aghajhari oil fields of Iran. The initial capacity of 2.5 million tonnes per annum will be expanded to 3.5 million tonnes in the foreseeable future. Haldia Refinery will mainly produce Cooking gas, Naphtha, Petrol, Solvent Mineral Oil, Aviation fuel, Kerosene, High Speed Diesel, Jute Batching Oil, Lubricating Oil, Furnace Oil, Bitumen and various grades of Paraffin and Micro-crystalline Waxes.


When a villager will light a lamp in his humble hut, a housewife will burn a Janata stove to cook meals for the family, a doctor will drive a car to attend to a patient, a modern miss will bake a cake in her gas oven or a farmer will run his diesel pump to irrigate his fields - they all will remember the refiners of Haldia. We, at Haldia will be happy to contribute our mite to make the nation self-reliant. Like individuals, only a self-reliant nation can be strong and happy. Has not Cicero said ? " Most happy is he, who is self-reliant and who centres all his requirements on himself alone. " As stated elsewhere, we shall be procuring 70 % of the equipment required for the construction of the refinery, from indigenous sources. This sets a fine example for other projects. " Is example nothing ?" said Burke, " It is everything. Example is the school of mankind and they will learn at no other. " So we shall be helping the nation in our own humble way by trying to be self-sufficient and self-reliant.


This is not all. As the Hon. Minister for Petroleum & Chemicals, Mines and Metals said, " Haldia refinery when completed will certainly act as a harbinger of rapid development of the state (West Bengal) in all fields including agriculture and industry." The production of fuel oil as mentioned elsewhere, will be 1.53 lakh tonnes per year. This product will be utilised for producing nitrogenous fertilizers. The Government of India has already taken a decision and necessary initial steps to set up a big fertilizer complex adjacent to our refinery at Haldia with an annual production of 1.65 lakh tonnes of Urea, 3.6 lakh tonnes of nitrogenous phosphate and 60,000 tonnes of Soda Ash. There are other promising features as well. While on one hand, the refinery will produce certain specified products for consumption, on the other, it can provide feed stocks to Petrochemicals industries under the present day technology for manufacture of downstream items like man-made fibres, pesticides, dyestuffs, pharmaceuticals, plastics, synthetic rubber etc.

There is actually a two-way process. Whereas we shall be feeding our products to other industries, we shall require materials and other services from others for which ancillary industries in the public/private sector are expected to come up in this area. Thus with the advent of Haldia Refinery, a host of other industries will come up in Haldia Region. As is welknown, for a long time, west Bengal has been a one city state since all the industries had been centred in and around Calcutta. After independence, the Government of India have set up a number of heavy and other industries in the Durgapur-Asansol region with a view to relieve congestion in Calcutta. The Haldia complex will be the third industrial area in west Bengal. The difference between the Durgapur-Asansol belt and Haldia complex will be that the latter is served by a major port and is therefore expected to become a swinging metropolis on the lines of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in course of time. It will in fact, be better than the above metros since it is being planned de novo.


An effort on this scale naturally calls for certain sacrifices on our part. We are sure that the people from this area who will naturally have to bear the brunt of these sacrifices and who would ultimately stand to gain, would not mind a temporary dislocation in their normal way of life. In due course of time, everyone of us will be a co-partner in this effort of national reconstruction. The ultimate good that will come out of this temporary dislocation will far outweigh the disadvantages now being faced.

We are therefore proud that we are taking part in the regeneration of this area which had, inthe long bygone days, had been a flourishing trade centre served by a busy port known as TAMRALIPTA, the present day Tamluk.