Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Jallikattu must stop! : Blog #286

Jallikattu must stop!

Let me begin by saying that I have the greatest regard for Tamil Nadu and the people from there. Some of my dearest friends are from Tamil Nadu. Having said that, I feel there is a need to have a hard look at this cruel practice of Jallikattu which many people from Tamil Nadu seem to be supporting. It is beyond doubt that this “tradition” involves cruelty towards animals. Imagine a poor animal being tortured and trained to be aggressive all its life. What kind of an existence will it have? And one fine day, it is let loose to a crowd waiting to attack and surmount it. The bull is out there not putting up a performance for us. It is undergoing a great deal of trauma.

Jallikettu, Jallikattu, Bulls, India, Tamil, Tamil NaduNow, the strongest argument that comes across is that it is part of tradition. There are good traditions and bad ones. Don’t you think this practice leans more towards the bad side of the continuum? Of course traditions add value and flavor to our existence. But are our existences so weak that it gets affected by preventing a practice which involves harassing a poor animal? Shouldn’t we take pride in doing away with such a practice and show to the world that we are moving ahead collectively?

There is a visible pattern to the responses coming across. Largely, people in Tamil Nadu want to continue this practice. They do not look at this as something which harms the animal. This is a trap that all of us fall in to. Many a time, we are too close – literally and figuratively to the subject/topic that we fail to look at the larger picture. We lose a bit of objectivity.

A while ago, I had written a blog supporting the usage of elephants for festivals in Kerala (Link : An Open letter to Pamela Anderson ). Back then, I couldn’t see the torture that elephants go through just so that our eyes can have a feast. Not that I wasn’t aware of it. Just that I refused to see it. One of my colleagues told me that educated, well read people do not even participate in the debate. I feel that is true. We do not even make a conscious effort to discuss the rights and wrongs about it. Now when I look back, I feel I lacked objectivity to a great deal. Today I feel the practice of using elephants for festivals need to stop. Although during festivals, many precautions are taken to ensure that they aren’t harmed, elephants belong in the wild. It takes a great deal of torture and confinement to break their spirit and control them so that they listen to the mahout. This needs to stop.

An actor as intelligent as Kamal Hassan should have refrained from making the comparison to biryani.  It trivializes the whole debate. No doubt, it is a very popular argument. But it is not a very intelligent one. The reason being, food is about existence and entertainment is about fun. Lack of entertainment will not kill people but lack of food can. Should we stop killing animals for food? May be we should. But I feel that is too idealistic an argument to make.  May be years down the line, when we have enough sources of food, we should try and stop killing animals too.

Most of us will not willingly harm even an ant. Then why are we failing to SEE the cruelty that we are committing towards these animals in the name of tradition?

Friday, 6 January 2017

Is HR just a nice-to-have function? : Blog # 285

Is HR just a nice-to-have function? 

Everyone loves to bash up people who work in HR. Part of the problem lies with people who work in HR and the rest is with the organizations. Often, HR is where organizations tend to cut cost. HR professionals are mostly paid less which will mean most organizations don’t get the best talent. Add to this, the attempt to cut cost since HR is an ‘enabler’ function. When an organization tries to implement a ratio of 1 HR professional for every 500 employees, what kind of productivity can be expected from that person? Yes, there are many people in the HR department who do not respond to emails, do not pick up calls and do not provide a solution for most issues. But there are such people in other functions as well. Isn’t it a bit unfair to paint everyone with the same brush?
HR, Human Resources, HRM, Human Resources Management

Now, addressing the title of this blog. Smaller organizations look at HR as a function to celebrate birthdays, ensure attendance and pay salary. That exactly is the reason why such organizations remain just that – small. When I say small, I don’t mean the number of employees. Here it is indicative of the vision of the organization.

People are at the heart of every organization. This is not just another fancy statement. This is the truth. As one works more and gains more years of experience, this truth becomes clearer. As important the processes are, it is the people who drive them and take organizations to greater heights. People need to be nurtured. Not everyone can engage with people. It requires patience, a flair for conversation and the ability to empathize. All these require people who are trained in these areas.

HR is relevant in good times and bad times. In good times of an organization, HR should be used to gauge how things can be made better. Efforts should be made to understand what investments need to be made in its people for their longevity in the organization and the long fruitful life of organization itself. In bad times, HR is needed to uplift morale of various teams. Interventions need to be made to ensure that excesses are avoided and people are made aware of the situation. These are times to tighten the belt and reinstate work productivity to bring back the organization to its glory.

Does HR have real cost impact on the organizations? It does. The most visible impact is through recruitment. It is one of those functions which is almost invisible when all is going well. Everything changes the moment there is a wrong hire. A wrong hire can unsettle the entire team and thus create a dent in the organization itself. On the other hand, a really good hire can have a very positive impact on the organization as well. Another role is that of a Business partner HR. If the BP HR is not playing an active role and if the team manager is someone from whom Lucifer takes notes, it can have disastrous consequences for the organization. People can and they will quit. This needs hiring which involves cost and training which needs cost and time. Similar is the case with other HR functions as well.

I read somewhere that people are disgruntled with HR mostly because they look for a friend in the HR person. An HR person is not expected to be a friend to employees. He/She is expected to be fair – both to the employee and to the organization. Interests of both the parties need to be kept in mind while taking a decision. It is tough and HR needs good people. It isn’t a nice-to-have function, but a must-have one!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

This Newyear, let us do good! : Blog#284

This Newyear, let us do good!

Aylan, a 10 month old little kid from Hyderabad waiting for his bone marrow transplant surgery. Lakshmi, a 60 year old elephant needs to be relocated to a place of quiet and a bit of wilderness so that she can live the rest of her life in peace. Hundreds of children in Gurgaon are waiting for a roof to be built over their heads so that they can have a bit of childhood to cherish when they grow up.  

Every New year, we all make resolutions to be a better self than the previous year. I am sure many of you would have already zeroed in on a list which will drive you through the year. Although past experiences might tell us not to take that list too seriously, let us be hopeful J.

I feel one of the easiest ways to feel good and be a better person is to help others. Many a time, we would have wanted to help people in need. Lack of time, access and just not knowing how to help them might have prevented all of us from helping our fellow beings. There are times when we would have stopped ourselves from extending a helping hand for risk of being duped.

You can help Aylan, Lakshmi and the 100s of those little kids without having to fret about any of the above concerns. is essentially a platform for helping people in need. It was founded by Anoj Viswanathan, Mayukh Choudhury and Sourabh Sharma in 2010. Today, this platform has contributors from over 120 countries across the world and helped people in need by raising funds to the tune of more than Rs.100 crores. You may help with as little as 100 rupees.

Let us lend a helping hand. It is said that charity is done mostly not for others, but for oneself. It helps in well being of oneself more than that of others. This New year, let us help ourselves J.