What can one person do?

Someone posted a mail to a mailing list that I am part of asking us to enroll in the electoral list and vote for Narendra Modi. As expected, there were a deluge of “I am smart ass” replies like “What can one person do”, “I voted in the last election, but what has changed” etc.

Our mass media and intelligentsia has subjugated us to state of stasis from which it is difficult to come out of. On a daily basis, we are bombarded with news that proclaim our politicians are useless, our government is useless, there is no hope, etc. Even if a politician does something good once in a while, the media tries it’s best to highlight what is wrong with it rather than praising that person. This has caused a state of apathy among the educated class which does not vote and hence cannot influence any policy making process. Due to this, policy making process has been hijacked by incoherent small term vision which hurts the country. The poor people who vote for these policies are not educated enough to figure out that the short term gains they see in the special statutes crafted for them will hurt them in the long run.

Once in a while a politician comes along who has an impressive track record of able and clean administration in his state, who has embraced technology to better the livelihood of his people, who has made sure that every corner of his state has electric power, good roads; who talks of a vision of India based on ideas and not rhetoric and still we sing the same old tune of “what can this guy do”?

Majority of the educated class want a quick fix to everything, they want a revolution which warms the cockles of their heart rather than slow credible methodical improvements, hence they lean towards anarchist movements like Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal etc. One poignant observation is that poor people are usually filled with hope about change, improvements, making the country a better place etc while the educated well to do just eloquently preach that nothing is going to change no matter what. Why does this happen? A lot of people of the present yuppie generation who are the most vocal have never experienced poverty first hand. Soon out of college they landed in plush high paying jobs, had all the material comforts that their parents had to work their asses off for 25 years in a year, never had to stand in line at public taps to fill water at 4 in the morning, never had to skip a bus stand and move to the next one to save few paisas. The poor of the country still do that and when once in a while a person comes along who has vision for the country, they latch on to him, while the rich educated are apathetic to the cause and continue to romanticise poverty in their own small make believe world.

Sure, even if Narendra Modi comes to power which in itself is a big “IF”, nothing is going to change dramatically overnight. It is next to impossible to change something that is rotten at the core in a short period of time but the confident demeanor and able administration of a strong leader trickles down to the bottom, you can only be as good as your boss lets you to be. Energy and enthusiasm of such leaders is infectious, it gives you hope and when you have an army of hopeful motivated young people, future looks bright.


Employee appraisals are a cause of butt ache in almost every organization. Majority of the people I have known/worked with hate this time of the year. In most of the places, appraisals are done in an ass backward way, where in, during some pre defined interval, you fill a form with all the potions you invented to cure cancer and then expound on how this has revolutionized the medical field(sic sic).

I feel there is a better way to do appraisals. Let me outline it. Regular one on ones should be mandated by the organisation with whomever you are reporting to. During these one on ones, the manager/lead jots down what went well during the time, how did you contribute to this, what was your role, did you go out of your way in putting the task on a fast track, did you do something that not only benefits this particular project/task but the organisation as a whole, did you help anyone when they were stuck etc etc. These questions can be mapped to the vision/mission statement/OKRs/whatever of the org. Also, the manager asks each of the team member as to did anyone else in the team help them in any significant manner. This is peer feedback on a regular basis.

The advantage with this approach is, when it is appraisal time, you do not have to fill a lengthy form and scratch your head as to what you did during this period or fill a peer review form because your manager already has it. Due to the weekly interactions and note taking, the manager has a very good idea of each employee’s strength weakness etc and can outline it in a coherent manner to the upper management and make a clear case for hike/promotion/demotion/pink slip etc.

I feel this approach takes the pain out of employees and makes the appraisals more meaningful rather than some namesake process.