Ways of democracy

I was at Sofia, a very beautiful and ancient city in Balkans and capital of Bulgaria. I was very keen on exploring the city and what better way than taking a walking tour! During the tour the guide spoke about the rich culture and history of Bulgaria and importance Sofia has as a city since ancient times. He showed us the churches, remains of buildings from Roman times, important building from such as parliament and president’s office. Midway through I came across a beautiful statue made from bronze and copper. It was of St. Sofia, the saint after who the city took its name. Interestingly, the statue stands exactly where statue of Lenin stood during the iron curtain days.

The story of St. Sofia is quite tragic. St. Sofia and her 3 daughters were devout Christians and during those days christianity was not allowed in the Kingdom of Rome. When the king learnt about it, he ordered execution of the three daughters. In pain of such a loss, Sofia too died in a few days.

Sofia actually never lived in the city nor in Bulgaria but given that the city had taken its name from her, authorities there decided to put her statue in the spot left blank by removal of Lenin’s. A famous Bulgarian sculpture, Georgi Chapkanov, was commissioned to make the statue and he came up with this in year 2000:

General public and historians were furious after seeing this! Why? Many reasons but here are the top 3:

  1. The statue seemed too erotic for a saint

  2. St. Sofia was a devout Christian and didn’t believe in Roman beliefs. Her daughters were executed by the Romans and this is all the more reason to believe she would have abhorred Roman system and beliefs. But her statue holds an owl and a dagger, something that Roman philosophy has meaning for however Christianity has none!

  3. The statue wears a crown, which symbolises royalty but not a saint. Bulgarian people have seen ill effects of having the so called noble men and royals. At this time, they wanted to settle for democracy and a crown was not in good taste

I believe the authorities failed to democratically. The statue was meant to make people proud but they ended up creating something that the locals prefer not to speak about. And this happened because authorities took undemocratic way to achieve their objective. They should have built a prototype and taken public opinion.Given the emotional investments, public would have quickly given their reaction and the artist could have reimagined the statue.Nevertheless the status looks great I feel.

To be fair to the sculpture, I think we should leave artists to their imagination and their ideas should not be hostage to history. But this statue had a purpose. It afterall was coming at the place where Lenin’s stood for decades! The same statue at any other place wouldn’t have attracted such emotions but this place and time was special.

Like the Eiffel tower was initially rejected by Parisians and later embraced, I hope the people of Sofia too eventually embrace the statue.

Rat race in schooling and helicopter parenting

Last night I was thinking about my son’s schooling and what I aspire for him. I was looking at private schools (very expensive), grammar schools (highly competitive), top rated public schools (top 25% of public schools) and wondering what should be my strategy for him. To put things in perspective, only 5% of students in UK study in private. Another 5% study in grammar schools. 20% in top rated public school. A mass majority of 70% study in schools that are public and rated ‘good’ to ‘needs improvement’. Pyramid is clear to me but the question in my mind was whether the below picture is right:


No doubt I am under pressure as most parents are because we believe education is is the most important tool we can give to our children to succeed in today’s highly competitive market. So with this logic its obvious that if a parent can afford, he should go for private education. That is what parent do! Did you know that in UK, only top 1% population can comfortably afford private education? This data is from HMRC so should be about true. Perhaps we could guesstimate that only 0.5% population my actually have school going kids. But 5% of students study in private schools – so a big majority of parents put their kids into private altgh HMRC believes they cannot afford private education for their kids! Pressure on parents is so visible! Also, private education, just school education costs £500,000 – imagine your child having a house of his/her own even before getting into college!

Its not about costs. Parents are driving kids into sports, music, academics, art, drama… hope I covered everything there…else that also included… From the time a child wakes up till he goes to sleep, everything is choreographed. Focus is much on results and not so much on joy of doing that. This is called helicopter parenting. Its not like our parents didn’t do a good job of parenting us… but they achieved quite decent results without helicopter parenting. How do I think they did it? perhaps by focusing on core; such as values, beliefs – the foundation stuff – and allowed children to flourish with experiences of life.

You can see from the above picture, a helicopter parent has to cover so much of circumference while our earlier generation was focused on core – a much smaller circumference!

Ok, now i can imagine what much be going on in your mind – tomorrow is going to be much more competitive and we need to equip our children for that. So we need to, as parents, ensure our children are great in STEM, Sports, creativity… essentially the outer circle. But think about it, we study a bunch of things, but what do we end up using?

With Advent of AI and ML, I think need for outer circle will further fade. What humans will focus on will be core values, equity, sustainability … things that are much more core.

Skills required in 2020 is very different from skills that were required in 2015 – Education needs to adapt and that begins at home and not in any school.

This bring to the next argument that the power and money is generally concentrated with a few. The selection of who those few are is highly competitive. The person who does phenomenally well on all aspects will have competitive advantage … right? but why do we think the future will be competitive and not collaborative? Wealth distribution is indeed getting distorted. But if you go into history, it was worse! The kings and few of their teams had most of the wealth. Today national GDP is far more distributed than any time of the history and perhaps that is how over a long term, i think distribution will trend towards. Collaboration will be the world of the future and not competition.

In conclusion, I feel as parents, we should focus on giving a stable childhood with a vibrant environment where children can learn core values that won’t be shattered even under heartbreaking circumstances. We provides various experiences so that children can choose their way to navigate through life because adaptability will be more important than extreme skill or competency.

Revolutionizing Corporate Learning

With increased turbulence in market conditions and accelerating changes in the business world, the only true competitive advantage that an organization possibly has is its people, who can navigate an organization through difficult conditions successfully. But the real challenge is how can organizations accelerate learning?

Let’s take a closer look at how Ben, Chris, and Anna are navigating their next in their respective fields of work.

Read more: https://infy.com/2wWGbk5

Adding ‘Human Elements’ to HR processes

Today I visited a hospital with my son for checking on a small inflammation he developed in his hand. It was nothing to worry about but my son would have been under some pain during the procedure. The doctor was open about the whole procedure with my son and after finishing up, gave a sticker to him for being brave. A Doctor could have just focused on the inflammation but rather choose to focus on the person.

As HR professionals, we often are focused on the issues that employees bring rather than the employee.

How do we bring Empathy into our profession?

Have you come across a situation where HR has provided you an experience that you liked?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Kaala chakra

So it was time for Rama to go back to baikuntham after ruling Ayodhya for many hundreds of years. Ayodhya was a rich and powerful kingdom with its citizens experiencing happy life. In short – everything was perfect. Ram’s purpose of coming to earth was met but Rama simply forgot about his original Vishnu form and was performing his duties, as a king.

For kaala to move on and enable Rama to realise his true self and go back to baikuntham, a sage plans a trick and Lakshman falls for it and commits suicide. Listening to the news, Rama decides to go into surayu river and drown, brining an end to his avatar.

But Hanuman realises this and tries stopping ram. To teach Hanuman that this is just a kaala chakra, and everyone needs to do their bit, Rama slowly drops his wedding ring through a hole under the thrown and orders Hanuman to instantly become small in size and bring back the ring.

Hanuman follows the command and reduces his size and goes through the hole only to realise there are countless such rings and countless Hanuman trying to figure out which ring is the ring

Hanuman realises that it’s not and end. Ram will be back and next cycle, he will meet another rama and come down again. But to comply with the command, Hanuman nevertheless continues to search for the ring dropped by Rama in this kaala chakra.

One could criticize this story is not possible – logically if kaala is chakra then also it should have started at a point and if it started, then it has to end. If it never started, then only it will perhaps never end, which means it goes on infinitely! And how do one make sense of infinity? In this case there should be infinite rings and infinite Hanuman and since we don’t know what infinity means we cannot make sense of the statement at all and so the story looks quite bogus but I would urge you to rather take this story at face value and try to look at the deeper meaning in the story rather than looking at it mathematically.