Article published in The Financial Express dated Sep 16, 2016.
College degrees will play a lesser role than the ability to culturally fit into the organizations.
Over three decades after I parted ways and a decade after he passed away, I find today a perfect occasion to pay my tribute to Col PS Satsangi who discovered a teacher out of me. The 5th Sep, in India, is celebrated as the “Teacher’s Day”.
It was in the year 1982 when I met Col PS Satsangi in Allahabad, a holy and an intellectually fertile city, under the instructions of my Professor and research guide, the Late (Prof) Bipin Kumar Agarwal, University of Allahabad. Like any youngster of my age, I was on the top of the world with a Masters degree in Physics under my hat and a research scholarship. Very reluctantly, I accepted the offer to join Colonel Satsangi, who was then in his early fifties, blessed with an imposing personality and possessed an out of the world vision on education. Initially, it was a non-commital migration to Delhi to see the world a bit and probably to keep flirting with several career options, a fashionable chore in those days.
But what happened was a fall in love and never look back, as they say. Col Satsangi’s ability to inspire, to convince and to motivate one to commit to a cause was amazing. Personally, for me, he created a “Self belief” and changed my view on “work”and “enjoyment”. I began to enjoy the process of learning and growth in me and in the students under my charge. A record of the sort was made when we spent nearly 18 hours working with the students without making a fuss. Obviously, the energetic Colonel was leading from the front. I had my moments of frustration, dejection and inner calls of ‘quit’ but they all vanished like a water bubble every time I interacted with him.
My colleagues and I, all in our twenties, developed a deep insight into education. ‘Self-motivation through nil punishment’, became our mantra and we chanted it more number of times during the day than the Gayatri Mantra. Under the stewardship of Col Satsangi, we experimented with the effects of “Self-directed Study”, “Open book test”, “Enduring long hours”, “Personalized instruction” and “Counselling” on learning outcomes, much before they became commonplace, with great success.
My contemporaries were envious of the fact that Col Satsangi treated me with favour and special treatment. The truth is that I was his favourite but he did no favour to me. It was a very intimate relationship of mutual admiration. For me his sterling leadership and educational philosophy and for him my deep, unconditional commitment to new learning and unlearning. I had my quota of intellectual differences but they were sorted out before the sunset. All these years I never adequately expressed my gratitude to the erudite Colonel who dedicated himself till the end to shape the personality of thousands of students and hundreds of teachers. I did write, though, a tribute when he turned 75. I have every reason to cheer and salute him for his lessons in my early years as a young teacher. I salute him for his uncanny ability to refine the pulp we were made of and for the way he moulded us to become evolved, compassionate teachers and better human beings.
I will be failing in my duty if I do not mention with reverence here the enchanting influence of his wife, the Late (Smt) Kiran Satsangi. She was more of a mother figure on the campus of Rotary Public School, Gurgaon than anything else, much less a boss’ wife. Her sudden departure from our midst as a result of a horrible road accident was a blow that many of us have not fully recovered from. It remains, a terrible loss till this day. Her midnight arbitrations between her husband and the young teachers, exhibiting rebellious streaks at times, with a topping of choicest dishes from her 24X7 kitchen, did wonders to cement our relationship.
A real tribute on this day to any teacher would be to cherish Col. Satsangi’s philosophy of focused hard work and to apply the scientific principles of educational management to achieve learning outcomes. His unshakable faith in the empowerment of teachers is a lesson for today’s leaders to learn. My grateful homage to you Sir! For you are the one who cured many of us of our jaundice of avidya (ignorance).
Ashok Pandey is heading the prestigious
Ahlcon International School in Delhi, India
(Six lessons from his life for teachers-students)
July 27, 2015, we were looking for yet another scintillating address by our beloved President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam as he descended on the picturesque campus of Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. Alas, the script was different that day. The nation caught between disbelief and the inevitable was least prepared to accept what happened. As we pay our grateful homage to Kalam Sir, a year later, his memories fill our hearts with a million gratitude. RIP Kalam Sir.
Six learnings from Dr. Kalam’s life:
- Who says poverty stops you from achieving your dreams? You defied all odds, Kalam!
- Despondency is your enemy, equanimity a friend. He embraced the later.
- Working with the children is a privilege not bestowed on many. Seek it vigorously.
- His teachings were simple and touching. Effective communication does not require jargon and ideology.
- We all need a mentor in our lives, whatever station we are at. Equally, choose one to mentor and support.
- The love for nation lies in active participation in nation-building not in sloganeering.
The list is endless!! Our respectful homage!!
LinkedIn power profiles for India has featured the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi in a post shared by Mr. Sachin Kapoor, Head India Business Development, LinkedIn. This post featuring Mr. Modi has coincided with his 94 min speech on Aug 15,India’s 70th Independence Day, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Delhi. His speech went under the hammer no sooner than he spoke the last word. Even while he was interacting with the school children in the blue-yellow formation of #Azadi70Saal (70 years of Independence) his speech was being hailed and assailed in equal measure by the people motivated by their affiliations.
This post is not about the politics of his speech. It is about work culture, leadership lessons and deep branding of the country emanating from the PM’s speech and leadership. There are five very important lessons for the leaders. Read below:
1. Work Culture:
The Prime Minister reiterated that he will focus his speech on the transformation his government has brought about in the way it functions; the work culture. Important ingredients of any organizational success are the vision, process, accountability, and outcomes. To this work culture, we may add efficiency and transparency and set new standards for a “good governance”.
2. Inclusive Leadership:
Organizations today are diverse, multi-cultural, multi-vertical and catering to a diverse group of consumers. India as a country embodies all this. The Prime Minister is talking and demonstrating an inclusive leadership. His repeated reference to the entire populace of 1.28 billion Indians, his vision of extending the reach of his governance to the last person in the queue, his focus on village sanitation, electrification, and connectivity, are aimed at inclusion. Any growth, prosperity, and accomplishment mean nothing if it is not egalitarian. The inclusive leadership is important also from the standpoint of the consumers. Every consumer(citizen) has her aspirations. Only an inclusive leadership stands a chance to respond to the people’s diverse aspirations.
3. The Big Picture:
Leadership at its pinnacle must focus on the big picture. Micro issues should be left for administrative-managerial exercise. Innovation, creativity, and big ideas describe the big picture. New initiatives in Skill India, Make in India, Swachha Bharat, Empowering the marginalized are the exemplars of that thought process. A leader’s big picture thinking leads to elevating him and his organization to the level of an influence. That is precisely what is happening around India; its expanding influence. India is seizing initiatives in clean energy production, cyber security, manufacturing, and digitization as an outcome of the big picture visualization by the leadership.
4. Deep Branding:
Every organization craves for a good reputation and a brand value in the eyes of the people. The brand value is a sum total of the idea, attributes, essence and positioning of the product and services. The PM is endeavoring to brand India as a nation, culture, democracy, economic power and as the land of opportunities. Aligning 1.28 billion people with the vision of “One India, Great India” is an exercise in deep branding. The fulfillment of the promises made and creating a niche in the hearts of people are keys to deep branding.
5. Do not Procrastinate:
Most organizations falter in their mission on account of an absence of a sustainable work culture. Most alarming of the cultural deficiencies is “procrastination” The PM was eloquent in his assertion that his Govt does not believe in procrastination but taking the challenges head-on. Any organization in the service of its people (read customer) cannot afford to push issues under the carpet, nor can it afford not to attend to the grievances, issues, expectations and concerns immediately. For an organization customer is a king, for a country it’s the people. The organizational leaders and the Heads of the Govt must acknowledge it.