Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lessons from Chak De India

Remember "Jo nahin ho sakta hai, wahi to karna hai". The story Chak de India was simple, characters full of personality, there was humor, defeat, victory and the game of hockey!!!!The movie is around that How the Impossible is made Possible when all the team members start delievering.


  • If you have the talent, passion and commitment, you can make underdogs win

  • Its not good to mix personal and professional lives.

  • At times tough decisions has to be taken.

  • Team/Organization is always bigger than the individual.

  • Taking the Challenges as oppurtunites.

  • Dream big as without dream nothing is achieved.

  • Strategy is important - know the team members individual strengths and weaknesses.

  • We have to identify as Indians first and rise above our affiliations with our states, religions and castes.

  • We must embrace discipline to strictly follow every step required for success.

  • We have to put the interest of our nation ahead of our personal interests, subordinating our egos and biases.

  • Put in tremendous hard work and make short-term sacrifices for long-term glory.

The movie clearly demonstrated how an underdog hockey team can achieve world cup by virtue of inspired leadership and collective action.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Collective action and Cooperation during my fieldwork visit

Hello friends, as part of our fieldwork I went to the state Rajasthan. My host organisation was URMUL Trust and my village was Dandkala. It’s a village of Pakistan refugees who settled over here after 1971 Indo-Pak war. In our village Electricity was one issue which touched my heart as despite being an electrified village in government records there was no electricity in the village. When we (me and my village partner Anand) probed further to know the exact reason behind it then we came to know that 4-5 electricity poles needs to be repaired and electricity meters needs to installed in households. We thought that it is not a big deal for us to facilitate villagers on this issue. We started talking to villagers about how to solve this problem. After lot of meetings and discussions villagers came to consensus that the whole village will write one application collectively. Villagers understood the importance of collective action and cooperation needed to solve this problem. Although in Dandkala Rajput and Jaat community are not at very good terms but for the benefit of whole village they decided to cooperate and collectively take action. Villagers wrote one application to let government officials know about electricity problem of Dandkala. We told villagers that since it is an election time so by just little bit of collective effort of electricity can come very soon. After this villagers even talked to local MLA Mr. Devi Singh Bhati about this issue and without any fear demanded electricity for the village. Talking to Local MLA who is extremely influential person clearly demonstrated that it was the collective strength of the whole village which made it possible else villagers are very fearful of him. Villagers decided that all of them would go to submit the application to Executive Engg. at Bikaner. The result of all these efforts resulted in installation of Electricity meters within 12 days in 70 households. It was made possible only because of cooperation and collective action of villagers. This collective action reinforced my belief that villagers need just a facilitator and not sympathizer.

Village Experience

It is rightly said that India’s heart lies in its villages. The rural community nurtures those traditions, rituals and customs which have long been forgotten in the cities. Fieldwork was an opportunity to come closer to village culture. Over the course of time as we got involved in the day to day activities, we developed a sense of bonding with the village and we often referred to it as “our” village to the outsiders.

I was born and brought up in Delhi and I had never been to village barring 2 short visits to villages as part of Induction fieldwork and PRA. I was excited about going to Rajasthan as I had never visited Rajasthan in the past. As our bus crossed the city of Bikaner and drove towards the village we were catapulted into an entirely different world. Dandkala is a multi caste village with the Rajputs, Jaats and Nai staying in different hamlets. I have always regarded villagers as very intelligent people who needs just little bit of direction and motivation to achieve their dreams. They need facilitator and not sympathizer.

After the initial jolt on discovering no electricity, roads, muddy water and toilets, I think the first thing which crossed my mind was that next 50 days would be challenging. I thanked god for putting me exactly in the same village which I had dreamt of. Life would be going to be tough but full of opportunities to challenge my hidden potential. Before coming to village I had set some objectives for myself:-
1. When I would leave the village after completing my fieldwork it would be a better place to live by virtue of my little but sincere and dedicated efforts.
2. My association with host organization and village would continue even after completing my fieldwork.

The villagers were friendly and helpful, not wary of us. Interestingly, they evidenced very high understanding of caste and class issues, and they exhibited much political consciousness in terms of party politics, mainly for ideological reasons. What they did emphasize on was the skills for managing the environment for making a living. They also elaborated on talks of marriage, children, and their socialization within a community of relationships. The major element of my village stay was day-long listening, observation and interaction with poor families. This involved sharing their life, learning from them, helping them, and encouraging them to voice their ideas of well-being and ill-being. Before this experience I knew nothing about what it is like to be poor and how hidden poverty can be. I have never had an experience like this.
As villagers were not having the private toilets so all villagers including women go out for ablutions in the open fields. Within one week of my stay I made up my mind that my host family will have proper toilet under any circumstances. I motivated our host family to construct toilet and with financial assurance from my side the toilet got constructed within next week. I provided all the technical expertise needed for constructing a toilet. It was really satisfying moment for both of us.

I can never forget the hospitality which I received from villagers and especially from my host family. Although the family was under huge debt but still they took care of both of us like their own children. They do not eat rice and vegetables because of high price but they cooked delicious Pulav and prepared vegetables everyday to make sure that we get proper food. Their love for us can’t be described. I still remember how our host got worried when we told them that we wanted to go in the Rajput Hamlet for a transect walk.

Electricity was one issue which touched my heart as despite being an electrified village in government records there was no electricity in the village. So engaging the community in writing application (for village electrification) and motivating them to talk to local MLA Mr. Devi Singh Bhati were the most exciting experiences. The effort put in by the villagers gave immediate returns and within 12 days of submitting application the electricity meters got installed in all those families who had submitted the file earlier. This collective action reinforced my belief that villagers need just a facilitator.

An intensely religious people, each home was having a room or at least an alcove where they fold their hands and say their prayers before calendar images of their gods. To seek benevolence from their gods, for in this hostile landscape, it is easy to be superstitious, and they pray to Shiva, to protect them from the demons of the elements, and scrounge of mankind.

My theme paper ‘Embroidery Marketing’ helped me a lot to understand the dynamics of marketing in the rural area. It was an eye opener to see FabIndia product being produced here. I had never imagined that such expensive and high quality kurtas can be produced in a village.

Looking back I feel that constructing toilet in our host family and working for village electrification were one of the memorable activities we undertook in the village. Planting trees (55 saplings) and creating awareness about vasectomy in the village were some of the other experiences which I would never forget. All the way I was conscious of one feeling that how destiny took you to places and how my experiences were different from that my other “mainstream” friends would ever have. These experiences have now become vivid memories which I am sure will continue to remain my guiding light all along life, at all times.

The experiences I underwent throughout this period, no matter how subtle they were have enriched me as a person and would remain with me for rest of my life. I learnt how an entity called village exists as an aggregate of castes and communities. Development, certainly, is a long road, but in a sector where most paths wash out long before reaching anywhere, it is a road well worth extending and maintaining. Overall, I had a kaleidoscope of all sorts of experiences during my stay. Thanks to IRMA for giving me such a great experience.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My IRMA GD/PI Preparation 2007

Describe yourself in 3 words?
Collector of well wishes
I am a person who believes in collecting well wishes since money can purchase anything but not true wishes.

Tell us something which is not written in the resume?
I am not afraid to say “I don’t know”. If any subject matter is alien to me then I am more then happy to say I have no idea about this.
I don’t believe in charity.
I always take the criticism in a constructive way. (Communication skills)
I love swimming.

Describe yourself?
I am Amit Goel. I am from Delhi and I did my schooling from Central School Delhi Cantt. Then I moved to bhiwani for my Computer engineering from Technological institute of textile and Sciences in year 2005 and since then working in HCL Tech Noida as software engineer.
As a person, I am adaptive and inquisitive by nature and have good listening skills.
I am especially interested in community service, research and investment in real estate sector and reading business news is my passion.

What do you mean by community service?
In my perspective, Community service is helping others so that they can realize there dreams.

What all community work you have done?
I had collected funds for Helpage India, I am a regular Blood donor and I really cherish my golden days of college where I interacted with rural and semi urban society on regular basis. I used to give cloths and stationery to their children. That experience gave me my long term goal.
After I came back to Delhi in 2005 we gave our plot which we have in a village called Mohan garden in Delhi to an local resident who runs a small open school in the evening specifically for children’s of laborers working in that area . We visit the place on regular basis and interact with the kids to motivate them and tell them that you are as good as anybody.

What do want to convey by research and investment in real estate? IRMA
I invest in real estate after proper analysis and I believe house is one of the most basic needs for everybody but rural people don’t have proper house and it has been my long cherished dream to improve their living condition by providing reasonably priced houses to them. Moreover Real estate affects 250 other industries directly or indirectly. So if real estate sector does well then it generates lot of employment in other sectors as well.

Tell one thing which you liked in HCL?
Employee first policy

How HCL has helped you in these 3 years?
HCL has increased my vision and made me professionally matured, I understand how big organizations work, how work is allocated, how issues are escalated. HCL taught me importance of time management and how to balance your personal and professional life. I have become a good team player now. All these reasons made sure that I stick with a single company till now and this is very unusual from IT industry point of view where people change companies very frequently.

Would you like to join HCL after your MBA?
Sir, with due respect to HCL now I want to explore other sectors as well to expand my knowledge base and to meet my long term goal.

Why MBA or Why MBA in rural management? IRMA
Sir, after getting around 3 years of work experience in corporate world and working on different projects, now I believe time is good to get into the intricacies of business management with a context of rural management. An MBA in rural management will bring me more closer towards my target audience i.e. rural society and I will get the opportunity to understand their problems in much deeper level. I would be able to get into the companies working for their cause which is not possible for me with my current profile. An MBA in rural management will help me in realizing my dream of contributing to the rural society.

IRMA is a premier institute which focuses only on the rural management. In IRMA I will get a management degree with a context of rural society and since IRMA is purely rural management college so I would be able to understand the rural society in much detail. IRMA would be a beginning for me to learn and shape up my dream. Practical exposure would be much more.

Software industry is lucrative industry then why do you want to join IRMA?
Sir, with due respect to IT industry I do agree that it is a lucrative career option if aim of somebody’s life is just to make money only but for me money is not everything I have different approach towards life, I want to follow my heart and over here I would like to quote wordings of JRD Tata who once said that he don’t want his companies to be islands of prosperity in the sea of poverty.

After working in AC rooms for around 3 years in software industry will you are able to able to adjust the demanding job profile of rural manager? IRMA
Sir, I am very adaptive by nature. I adjusted quite well in my college which is in semi urban area.

Give one reason why we should select you? IRMA
For my understanding of rural society and to realize my dream.

Why we should select you or special points?
I feel a good academic background coupled with around 3 years of work experience has increased my business understanding. In depth reading of business magazines backed up with long discussions with my elder brother has increased my management knowledge. People management is my forte and for this HCL Technology gave me BRAVO award also. I have good motivational and execution skills. I understand the importance of backup plans as one never knows when things go wrong. I don’t wait for the opportunity to come my way instead I create them (In my current project I volunteered to unofficially lead the team).

What is success according to you?
According to me success is not what you create for yourself; it is what you leave behind for others.

Give one reason why we don’t select you?
Sir might be you want me to focus on my job as of now and gain more experience.

If we reject you then what would be your next step?
First of all I will respect your decision and then I will introspect what went wrong so that I can improve my grey areas. Moreover I had my backup plans ready if something goes wrong as this year I have to take admission in MBA.
Back up plan: - rural management from XIM B

What is your percentile in CAT?
91 percentile

What all other calls do you have?
Sir, I have calls from
XIMB for rural management
narsee monjee for Banking
SIOM for operation management
SP Jain Dubai for Banking

Briefly outline your strengths?
I am optimistic, adaptive and level headed guy who dreams a lot.

1) I am extremely optimistic person and for me half water of glass is half full and not half empty.
2) I can adjust in type of environment. I adjusted very easily in bhiwani which is a semi urban area.
3) I am a level headed guy who is neither bogged down by failures nor did I get too excited after success.
4) Dreams are great internal motivators.

2) I have good motivational skills and in my current project I motivated the junior team members to enhance their technical knowledge and skills.
3) Reading business magazines had tremendously increased my knowledge base and had given me lot of confidence to interact with different peoples from different walks of life.
4) I have good execution skills. At the age of 23, I single handedly managed the marriage of my elder brother as my father can not take too much of exertion due to illness.

Briefly outline your weaknesses?
1) I am learning to say “NO” to others as sometimes it causes problems for me.
When I went to onsite(Malaysia) one day my friend who had come along with me told me that he is going for an outing and will not come to office and told me that if our manager back in India asks about me then do not tell him about it.
2) I am trying to improve my communication skills and in this I specially thank HCL for providing me opportunities to give lot of presentations and have discussions with client from time to time.
3) I am working on my handwriting as while giving presentations in company sometimes it becomes difficult for the audiences to understand what I had written.

Describe the nature of your work experience, responsibilities and achievements (if any)
I began my professional career as a Software Engineer with HCL Technology, Noida. Over the period of around three years I worked in different projects ranging from Embedded to ERP. I had worked on both sides of software coin i.e. Development as well as testing. I started with development and gradually moved into Testing. In my present project I am working in the capacity of Team Lead and handling a team of 6 people. Apart from being individual contributor I am also responsible for mentoring of junior team members and work scheduling. In my present project I also got the “BRAVO” award for demonstrating excellence at work and got the opportunity to go onsite.

What is leadership according to you and cite any example from your life where you demonstrated it?
In my perspective leadership is the ability to lead and inspire others to walk that one extra mile to achieve goals. A true leader is one who allows other leaders to emerge. Leader has clear vision and he communicates this vision to other team members.
In my current project I lead the team of 6-7 people un-officially as the officially lead left the project just after 1 month of its starting and no other senior team member was willing take up the lead position as project was very demanding so I volunteered to lead the team but officially name of some senior team member was given to client as my experience level was less. It turned out to be great learning experience for me and I managed both juniors as well as seniors in my team apart from doing my own work as well. I motivated the juniors to enhance their product understanding. With seniors I never projected myself as Team lead and used to take their guidance.

What are your hobbies?
1) Reading Business Magazines like Business world
2) Arranging interviews for the fresher’s in various companies with the help of my like minded friends working in different companies.
3) Actively involved in Research and figuring out investment options in real estate sector
4) I like listening to old Hindi songs.
5) I like gardening also.

What are your short term goals? IRMA
My short term goal is to build base for my long term goal so after completing my MBA I want to get into the Microfinance industry like SKS Microfinance. Reason for this is that in the long run I want to establish real estate company for rural society and by working with Microfinance company I would be able to understand the intricacies involved in giving loans to rural people and might be I would be able to convince the Microfinance company to give money to rural people for purchasing houses built by me.

What are your long term goals? IRMA
I want to build a real estate company catering to rural and semi urban people by providing reasonably priced housing options. I believe proper home is one of the basic needs of rural society and since they do not have proper house so they always keep thinking about it and if they will get decent house then they will think other good things like education of there child etc……..

How you intend to do this and how it will benefit rural people?
I did one small calculation, for rural people 200 square feet is a decent house and price of construction is around 200 square feet so total 40 thousand rupees in the construction and since most of the rural people have the land so no need to purchase land. I will provide loan to rural people for arranging 40 thousand rupees just like grameen bank……..or I will tie up with SKS microfinance to provide loan and I will construct house.

What is development according to you?
Development has different meaning in different context. In software development we write the code………but in social development we talk about upliftment of rural society

What can computers do for farmers?
Best example for this is ITC e-chaupal. With computer they got latest news about price of their crop. They got information about best quality seeds. Computer can help them in weather forecasting.

What would be my first step to develop rural people....if I were the PM of India?
I would give special emphasis on construction of roads in every nook and corner of India. I believe most of the problems of rural areas will be solved via extensive road network.
I will strengthen the manufacturing industry in the rural area as continuous source of employment is need of the hour. In relation to agriculture I will try to minimize the dependence on monsoon.

Why Real Estate only other sectors are also good, don’t you think so?
Sir, with due respect to all the sectors I feel my personnel understanding of this sector is much more as compared to other sectors. Over the years I had closely followed the real estate sector as I invest in real estate sector.

What is difference between India and Malaysia?
In Malaysia, the problem of corruption is very less as compared to India and politicians in Malaysia are much educated and progressive in their views. Disparity levels between rich and poor are not too high. But private sector is much stronger in India signifying that Indians are much more hardworking as compared to Malaysians and Indian private sector like Reliance Tatas Bajaj has thrived instead of no conducive policies from government initially.

DID you appear in CAT? IRMA
Sir, I would be lying if I say NO but God made my choice very easy as I did not performed well in CAT and indirectly god was saying listen to your heart and do what you like the most. IRMA should be by choice and not by default.

What were your childhood dreams?
In my childhood I wanted to become either policeman or join Army for different reasons
Reason for becoming Policeman:
When I was growing up Kiran bedi was making lot of good news by virtue of work for Tihar inmates. She got Raman Magasay award also. All this inspired to join Police.

Reason for Joining Army:
Since my mother is in Defense and I spent around 20 years of my life in Delhi Cantt so it was natural inclination towards armed forces. After 12th I even attended SSB interview but destiny had something else stored for me.

Why there is a gap of 1 year after 12th?
After 12th I wanted to get into the DCE and I got mechanical engg but I wanted to do the computer engg.

Would you like to ask any question from us? IRMA
No Sir, Seniors over here had already cleared all my doubts.

If you are to made Prime minister of India for one day then what would you do?
If given the chance to run our country for one day then I would like to implement the 2 party system as in my perspective our democracy is fundamentally strong but multi party system is coming in the way of taking bold decisions. It is really very difficult to run a coalition government. Latest problem was nuclear deal which got scrapped because of opposition of left.
I would give special emphasis on construction of roads in every nook and corner of India. I believe most of the problems of rural areas will be solved via extensive road network.