Friday, 24 August 2012

India's Energy Crisis:Some thoughts on Economic Growth,Energy, Environment , Ecological Intelligence and Leadership

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     On August 23 , 2012 , I got an opportunity to chair the inaugural Session of SN Tripathi Memorial  Lectures  2012, on the subject of "Climate Change , Water & Energy Crisis"  organized  jointly by  Swayam Siddha ( A reputed NGO), in collaboration with Indian Railways Institute of Transport Management(IRITM) and Lucknow Management Association  at Lucknow , UP , India.While Sri Nitya Jacob, Environmental Journalist and Programme Director( Water ), Centre for Science and Environment , New Delhi gave the Key Note address on water pollution under the heading :Shades of Blue" , Professor Shyam R. Asolekar of Centre for Environment Science & Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology , Mumbai gave the second Key Note address on "Water Crisis:What is in it for a Common Person".Sri Prem Ji Bhai, Veteran Social  Activist, Vruksh Prem Sewa Ashram , Rajkot , Gujrat gave his address as Chief Guest on "Redefining Green:New Models:One Man Sows Billion Seeds of Hope".I chaired the session and also spoke on "Climate Change &Energy Crisis.In what follows , are my thoughts on energy crisis and climate change , which I shared  during the talk .
                While we must accept that there is scarcity , depletion of ground water and pollution of both surface and ground water , the perception  is that water problem has yet to take the shape of a crisis , while energy crisis has already knocked at our door .The fact that there was recently a  complete blackout in 15 states of India due to failure of grid , is enough to prove that there is a crisis of energy in India.When we heard the Minister of Power saying that Chief Secretaries of States  will be arrested if any state is found to be overdrawing power from the grid , it revealed a deep  crisis of governance  and a crisis of  leadership crisis.Our  electricity supply , our gas supply , our oil supply is highly  inadequate. As a nation ,we have low energy security .
                           On a somewhat different note, a large number of Genes commonly found in people with Autism reflect vulnerability to environmental stress and inflammation .For kids with Autism and with spectrum of Autistic disorders, it takes less environmental stress to reach a tipping point into illness.   Diseases of Civilization like Auto Immune disorder, multiple Sclerosis, Cancer , diabetes are on the rise due to toxic and industrial chemicals.                  
             Where does the solution to energy crisis and climate crisis lie?

With present strategy of economic growth , higher growth requires higher energy consumption .So there is a need to evolve growth strategies which require lower energy consumption .At present , global energy demand is growing @ 2.2% per annum .Every village in India wants to have electricity supply .We must bear in mind  the fact that nearly 300 million persons   in  India are trying to survive each day on what we spend for a cup of Cappuccino.We need electricity to improve the living conditions of these people .There is every reason to believe that we need more energy , as the aspirations of people grow.
                    Not only energy consumption is increasing , it is  mainly fossil fuel based , increasing  carbon foot print , pollution and contributing to global warming . This is a catch 22 situation Energy efficiency in domestic consumption can be achieved by use of LED, CFL, rated fans , AC's , refrigerators, geysers and washing machines .People need to be made aware and ecologically Intelligent .Ecological Intelligence is just like  any of the multiple Intelligences  put forward by  Howard Gardner , says Daniel Goleman.We need to  correct the information assymetry of market .This needs more information and eco -transparency  to the consumers.This will make markets efficient  and will also help the  sale of ecologically intelligent products. By using our ecological intelligence,we need to incentivize business to make positive changes by voting with our dollars .We  should consume and purchase only those products which are produced by eco friendly industry , even if these are a little costlier .
                     Energy star ratings on appliances can be deceptive.An energy star rating on a Lap Top may show it highly energy efficient .But if we go deep , the overall impact of a laptop can be different."90% of the environmental impact comes during manufacture and disposal and not use."A Lap Top made in China  from a factory which used electricity from coal, can have a high negative energy impact, even if its use is rated highly energy efficient.
Not only that our energy supply is inadequate .Our fossil fuel  supply is also low and depleting .India has the world's fourth largest coal reserves but the demand supply gap has been consistently increasing, with domestic production unable to keep pace with demand .We have been unable to exploit our coal reserves due to governance problems.
         India holds just 0.7% of the world's proven oil reserves but accounts for 3.9% of the global oil consumption thus importing nearly 75-80% of its oil consumed .
              Similarly India has 0.8% of the world's proven gas reserves but accounts for 1.9% of the world wide gas consumption, thus importing nearly 20% of its natural gas consumed through LNG.

This needs steps towards energy efficiency as well as production and consumption of clean energy.   
                   Energy efficiency  implies consuming less energy for the same  level of output or services.This is  achieved by technology,materials and intelligent designs.In day to day business , executives put profit as the primary driver of strategy.("The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits").this is now replaced by the Triple Bottom Line concept.These three are Planet(Environment) , People(Social Responsibilty) and Profits.Though not everything green is profitable business, we need to find sustainable business solutions which are green as well as profitable.This requires innovation, entrepreneurial genius and smart strategic planning to create wealth.This is eco tranparency and ecologically intelligent  solutions.This also brings in the need for firm enforcement of government regulation related to environment .                 
                  Energy efficiency in commercial buildings , office buildings  can be achieved by LEED certification system.LEED means Leadership in Energy and Environment Design.LEED certificate has become gold standard for green(energy efficient) buildings.LEED standards use new design and materials which can lower costs as well as  energy consumption , thereby upgrading impact on environment .We can also retrofit older buildings with LEED standards.
Adobe Systems retrofitted its headquarters to LEED standards and saved 1.4 million dollars in costs within ten months.Such initial savings lead to a search for more ways to find such gains , creating a virtuous cycle.
                           To maximize their profits , builders/developers set their budgets for building's costs as low as possible.The system provides incentives for bidders in turn to find ways to cut their costs to fatten their profits.The sub contractor for the heating and cooling system has every reason to install the cheapest he can  find that will do the job and just meet building codes, rather than a higher priced one that will save energy and money over long haul for the real customers of the building .LEED creates transparency by revealing the hidden costs.Market forces will drive the LEED movement but people's understanding has to develop that there were better ways to build buildings now.No regulation can be as powerful as the understanding  of the market forces.
                  Energy efficiency in agriculture and irrigation  by using rated pumps , especially solar water pumps.Energy efficiency in industry also can be achieved by using green technology.
                            Clean power can be obtained  in the form of:
a)Nuclear power.
b)Bio-mass based power.
c)Wind power.
d)Solar power.
e)Tidal power.
                                    There is  a need to encourage production and distribution  green and clean energy.This requires three fold action:
1)Proper pricing policy  and metering .
20.Quick approvals .
3).Insulation from policy uncertainty due to political changes.
We have become used to management by crisis.
We need 60 different approvals from eight different ministries for undertaking oil and gas exploration .There is no assurance of reasonable returns .Administered price mechanism does not ensure adequate returns to investors.In fact , in oil and gas sector , prices should be largely left to the market forces and and every effort must be made to ensure that there is no cartelization and monopoly pricing .
                  Wind power , solar power and tidal power are not yet scalable while the nuclear power  technology will evolve over time . In France, where electricity comes predominantly from nuclear power, it is cheaper than in England where it comes predominantly from oil and gas.
                      I am inclined to suggest that the solution to energy crisis in India , like in France , lies in producing and distributing Nuclear power. This  is likely to  help us control  and mitigate the intensity  of the climate crisis.We also need to make our people ecologically intelligent and our markets ecologically transparent.Rather than threatening our chief secretaries with arrests , we need leadership which works seriously towards  meeting the challenge of  our energy crisis .


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Vidya Nand Garg: Becoming a Thought Leader

Vidya Nand Garg: Becoming a Thought Leader: We can bear witness to the fact that nearly 300 million persons   in  India are trying to survive each day on what we spend for a cup of C...

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Becoming a Thought Leader

We can bear witness to the fact that nearly 300 million persons   in  India are trying to survive each day on what we spend for a cup of Cappuccino.Does it  make you  sit up ,think and do something , however small?If it does , then you are a thought leader.Who are thought leaders?They are the persons who traverse constantly between the private and the public ."They are bridge builders who connect the local and the global , the past and the future, the heart and the mind" .They connect commerce and conscience. To be a thought leader , on needs imagination , sensitivity, reflection , dialogue , expression, integrity  and  courage   .  Basic assumption of a thought leader is:"What I am  and what I do does matter."
                         The Art of Original Thinking(The Making of a Thought Leader) by  Jan Phillips(225 pages) was first published by ProLibris Publishing Media Ltd on August 1 2006 , and I read  this "book with a difference" in August ,2012 .                
                    To live imaginative and inspired lives  takes time , the courage to go within, and the commitment to a practice of silence.It takes verve and stamina and rebellious originality.The poet Mary Oliver says:"In order to be the person I want to be , I must strive hourly against the drag of others."That is why we need time alone, every day, to re-root ourselves in the fertile soil of our imagination.  Any of us who are trying to be creatively and compassionately are at the risk of being outcasts.Robert Grudinsays:"Creativity is dangerous.We cannot open ourselves to new insight without endangering the security of our prior assumptions.We cannot propose new ideas without risking disapproval and rejection ."Thought leaders become thought leaders by endangering the security of their prior assumptions .
                                  Often when confronted with situations where people ask for our help , we ask them to wait and ourselves go to get help .Jan disagrees.In a crisis , do not go  from the scene .YOU ARE THE HELP.Solutions exist nowhere but within ourselves .She asks us to take the responsibility , rather than moving away in the garb of getting help .                                           
                      The book  tells us about the power of story and story telling ."What we believe is possible for ourselves comes from the images and stories that have entered into our consciousness."Where do the thoughts originate .In our conversations with family , friends ,in  media.'Being in the presence of others whose experiences are vastly different from ours, causes us to see ourselves and our beliefs in a new light."Do not wait in silence.Interviewing folks about their lives and values enlightens you.Donot follow the words of others as doctrine.Ask new questions."Think of your own experience, work and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does."When you tell what you have never told to any other person , you find parts of yourself that had been long lost, simply because there is some one else also to hear and receive them .But you have to go first .You can be the cause of a profound conversation if you dare to go first .
                Thought leaders engage in deepening themselves in silence and study, then reaching outward with awareness gained on the inner journey, merging with others to synthesize and share, collaborate and create.The have the integration of the inner and the outer , insight and action .          
                       It gives us the concept of triple Bottom Line- People , Planet and Profits.Put the people and planet before profits. When this is done , profits follow automatically. Jan quotes "A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America" by Ian Mitroff and Elizabeth Denton . They found  that spirituality is one of the most important determinants of organizational performance. People who are more spiritually involved achieve better results .In fact , they suggest that spirituality may well be the ultimate competitive advantage"Spirituality"involves the continuous unfolding of the human spirit."I do not know if these observations hold true only  for America .But I am sure that markets , society, governance systems and level of education in India  indicate that these observations  do not hold true in contemporary  India.(It is an irony that Jan quotes copiously from Indians  Mahesh Yogi , Raman Mahrishi and Sri Aurobindo Ghosh.)
                    The book  gives a very large number of quotes from other authors and in this sense can not  be called original. It has many references to eastern mysticism ,with its  somewhat circular and often confusing jargon , making it  a kind of metaphysical  work. In addition , it  brings  in the Millennium Goals set by the UNO,  micro finance of Mohammad Yunus of Bangla Desh , and global environmental issues.It  jumps all over , with no logical order in thinking or presentation .
But despite its weaknesses, , the book  has  some new and attractive thoughts , which make it a worthwhile read, and gives you  value for  our time .It is  full of interesting, inspirational and educational  stories.
                      While I do not believe that  thoughts  alone bring about a change , thoughts are essential foundation for any meaningful purpose, change  or activity .In this sense , understanding the processes and systems that go into the making of thought leaders are important for any person or organization  who want to bring about a change .I recommend you to read this book by Jan Phillips on thought leaders.







Friday, 10 August 2012

Nature , origin and exercise of power

When I read this extraordinary and incisive book "The Politics Of Obedience:The Discourse Of Voluntary Servitude" by Etienne De La Boetie , I was stunned.Though written in 1553 , its analysis and conclusions   so  sharply and precisely  matched   my own experiences and insights  of three decades as a   bureaucrat  in the State of Uttar    Pradesh , India  that I became an  ardent admirer of Boetie.Boetie's work is  very thought provoking and is relevant in the 21st. century. The game of politics has not changed much  since the 16th century when this discourse was written. What has made the situation worse is that the State has layers of bureaucracy  who staff  powerful offices. Such " powerful" bureaucrats are relatively of little use to public but extremely  useful to the rulers  which is why they  have become  indespensible.
              Boetie gives   a profound insight into the nature of the State - all states are in essence a hierarchy of privilege that benefits a limited minority,  that  blatant use of power comes essentially through the consent of the governed. While rulers  and governments use propaganda,  favors, gifts and sweet speeches about "poverty eradication", "public welfare" or "world democracy," these tricks of power-seeking  rulers  would amount to little if the people understood that they are in complete control , and the propaganda, once seen for what it is, cannot cast its spell upon them.  " For although, the means of coming into power differ, still the method of ruling is practically the same;those who are elected , act as if they were breaking in bullocks;those who are conquerors , make the people their prey; those who are heirs, plan to treat them as if they were their natural slaves." Transformation into a tyrant  takes place from captain to king , and from king to tyrant.The book very convincingly and effectively   explains the origin and inherent corruption and  tyranny of all government.                    The book(It is actually an Essay) is published by Kessinger Publishing in its Rare Reprints Series.It is a thin book of only 29 pages in three parts.It is  written  with clarity and very  powerfully.I could read it in two hours.The paperback edition by     Kessinger Publishing is   elegantly produced but  is   awfully expensive. ( $108.88).Boetie wrote his "Discourse" around 1553 when he was about 22 years of age and a student at the University of Orleans. He died in 1563 at 32 years of age.The book was not published in Boetie's life time.In 1574,a long passage of La Boétie’s Discours was first published in Latin, together with other texts, in an anonymous publication  and later in French .In 1576,Protestant theologian Simon Goulart  published, for the first time, the complete text of the Discours .In 1577 , Boétie’s Discours de la Servitude volontaire was published for the first time on its own.
                                                The essay is very caustic about the "powerful bureaucrats" who surround the rulers.Boetie calls them 'servile'.  These  favourites of a ruler can never feel entirely secure."What suffering, what martyrdom it involves.To be occupied night and day in planning to please one person, and yet to fear him more than every one else in the world;to be always on the watch, ears open, wondering whence the blow will come;to search out conspiracy, to be on guard against snares to scan the faces of companions for signs of treachery,to smile at  every body and be mortally afraid of all , to be sure of no body, either as an enemy or as a reliable friend;showing always a gay countenance despite an apprehensive heart, unable to be joyous but not daring to be sad."
                 With nothing to call one's own, receiving from some one else one's sustenance, one's power to act, one's body , one's very life.Still men accept servility in order to acquire wealth;as if they could acquire anything of their own when they can not even assert that they belong to themselves, or as if any one could possess under a tyrant a single  thing in his own name.
"Those , who having by shameful means won the ear of  princes-who either profit from their villainies or take advantage of  their naivete-were in the end reduced to nothing by these very princes.How little faith one can place in the friendship of an evil ruler?Such a ruler does not know how to love, that he ultimately impoverishes his own spirit and destroys his own empire.The fact is that the tyrant is never truly loved, nor does he love.There is no friendship when there is cruelty, when there is disloyalty, where there is injustice.Elevated above others and having no companions, a tyrant finds himself already beyond the pale of friendship, which receives its real sustenance from an equality."  One never pines for what he has never known ;longing comes only after enjoyment and constitutes the memory of past joy."Tyrant does not consider his power firmly established until he has reached the point where there is no man under him who is of any worth .He stultifies and effeminizes the subjects.Stupidity in a tyrant always renders him incapable of benevolent action .
               Many rulers give bait towards slavery-plays , medals, pictures and other such opiates.Accomplices in his  power games  provide new supporters of despotism  big favours or small and  large profits or small.All those who are corrupted by burning ambition or extra ordinary avarice, gather around the tyrant and support him in order to have  a share in the booty and to constitute themselves petty chiefs under the big tyrant .They approach the tyrant , embracing with both hands their servitude .Others follow them.The tyrant/dictator sees men about him , wooing and begging his favour and doing much more than he tells them to do ."Such men must not only obey orders;they must anticipate his wishes.To satisfy him , they must foresee his desires;they must wear themselves out, torment themselves, kill themselves with work in his interest, and accept his pleasure as their own, neglecting their preference for his, distorting their character and corrupting their nature, they must pay heed to his words, to his intonation, to his gestures and to his glance.Let them have no eye, nor foot nor hand that is not alert to respond to his wishes or to seek out his thoughts."
               Why do we volunteer to our own enslavement?Why do we surrender our liberty and allow ourselves to be dominated by others?Is it  born out of our cowardice?Do we exchange our liberty for our  greed ?When we submit to a tyrant , our giving in gives him strength.Is it King's favour or liberty? Which gives us more joy and honour?If the burning  desire for liberty is missing , there is corruption by servitude.Insist on the joy of liberty.Freedom is our natural state.
                 It is said that Mithidates trained himself to drink poison .Like him , we learn to swallow and not to find bitter the venom of servitude. Nature has less power over  you than custom or environment .You get habituated to subjection.Thus custom becomes the first reason for voluntary servitude.Enslaved people lose courage and all signs of enthusiasm and are incapable of any great deed .Tyrants encourage them to assume this attitude.

               We have the choice of being vassals or being free men.The more we yield and obey , the mightier and more formidable the tyrants become.The tyrant has power over you only  through you .You can deliver yourself if you try , not by taking action but merely by willing to be free. ."Resolve to serve no more,and you are at once freed.I do not ask you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over , but simply that you support him no longer;then behold him , like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces?When we simply do not obey , the root does not receive nourishment and the branch dies.Non-violent resistance and civil disobedience both trace their origins to this work.Before Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Tolstoy, or Thoreau, Boetie underlined the importance of civil resistance. 
                                                 "Actually the people never blame the tyrant for the evils they suffer;but they do place responsibility on those who influence them.People compete with one another in mentioning the names of the favourites, in analyzing their vices, and heaping them a thousand insults, a thousand obscenities, a thousand maledictions.They hold them accountable for all their misfortunes .If at times, they show them outward respect, at those very moments, they are fuming in their hearts and hold them in greater horror than wild beasts."This is a very powerful insight for the "powerful" bureaucrats
                             You may think that this is a cynical view of the origin and exercise of power .But I must remind you that Boetie was young , intelligent and observant at 22 years of age , and it is difficult to believe that at that age he turned cynical and I have similar views at the age of 57 years .I hope and wish that I am  proved wrong  by a detailed research , though I have no evidence to say so .


Monday, 6 August 2012

Internal Communication and organizational leadership

The proverbial "The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing" is true of most of the large organizations .This adage is certainly true of governments all over the world .I have observed this over the last three decades in  the government of one of the biggest states(Uttar Pradesh , India) in the world .(Population of UP as per 2011 census is about 199.5 million .).Internal communication is extremely important and vital for the efficiency and effectiveness of any organization .Still , there  is hardly any emphasis on this critical aspect of governance and management.Internal        communication goes to the heart of effective coordinated functioning of a big organization,business , government or non-profit.When Deloitte and Touche Human Capital conducted a survey among American CEOs .They  were asked  to list  issues   very important to the success of the organisation, 95% of them said “effective internal communication. Simultaneously, only 22% agreed that they thought it was being delivered effectively.
                      American Society of Public administration has published this excellent  book"The  Practice of Government Public relations" in 2012(CRC Press , Taylor and Francis group, New York), edited by Mordecai Lee, Grant Neeley and Kendra Stewart .The chapter on "Internal Public relations for Personal and Program Success" has been contributed by Anne Zahradnik and makes very important and useful points about internal communication.
  I have no intention of going into the history of Internal Communication .But I am certain that it is a very young and evolving branch of knowledge.I spent long hours of reflection on why such an important discipline started to emerge so late.One reason could possibly be that internal communication was presumed to take place automatically and effortlessly .If it is so , this was a baseless presumption."Internal communications is fundamentally a management discipline, but as a discrete discipline of organizational theory it is correspondingly young. Stanford associate professor Alex Heron's "Sharing Information with Employees" (1943) is an outlier among texts which focus solely on the factors involved. Theorization in academic papers accelerated in the 1970s, but mainstream management texts mostly post-date 1990."(Wikipedia).        
                       What exactly the key internal  audiences  need to know?How do you want people to feel and by what time?There are six major objectives  why you should have a good internal communication within an organization.;
1.To make interactions harmonious.
2.To get smoother project approvals from the bosses.
3.To get funding without peril.
4.To improve your  reputation with internal audiences .Good internal communication  should reinforce the impression that you are competent and professional .It should highlight your functions as well as your contribution to the organization .Organizations increasingly see Internal Communication as playing a role in external reputation management also .There is a strong effect of employee advocacy on organization's reputation.
5.Internal Communication  also helps to garner  support of employees at all levels  for decisions.The goals and priorities of the department, along with their challenges and rewards,  are to be communicated to the internal audiences.All the policy decisions along with financial implications need to be shared with them .
6.Internal Communication   plays a very important role in change management as also in times of crisis.            
                Generally speaking , the five main areas  for making  internal communication plan  are as follows:
1. Internal Audiences/stakeholders.Internal communication is upwards , horizontal and downwards. Upward communication should be the primary focus of  internal communication .
2. Infrastructure
3. Managers and leaders:Effective communication is about enabling managers to be effective and responsible with their teams from day to day.
4. Line of sight for business strategy: An effective internal communication helps make sure the strategy is clearly defined and supports people translating the business strategy into action. 
5. Research and measurement.       

                                         The various forms of internal communication are:
1.Plans and key programmes  of the  organization.We need to list key messages also.The goals and priorities of the department, along with their challenges and rewards,  are to be communicated to the internal audiences.All their policy decisions along with financial implications need to be shared with them .
2.Periodic progress reports .
a)We should describe accomplishments in terms of benefits to the organization .These could include well publicized achievements with documentary  evidence.Their frequency and effectiveness should be carefully worked out .
b)These should also include unresolved work problems and also include suggestions for improvement.These  should clearly indicate the financial implications.
c).These should also cover morale and interpersonal relations among the subordinates.
d).These reports need to be frequent , though these could contain smaller bits of information
e).These could be through emails  as also through multi- media presentations.
f).News releases should also be issued to supplement the written messages.Media relations involve a news release making the announcement , a media conference after some time  , and a second news release announcing new features to be added in the next six months.
These should also be discussed in the web pages and  testimonials/quotes from influential persons be got and  put  on website.
g).It should include the public ramifications of the changes proposed or under way .
h).Community group or organization should be spoken to once a quarter.
i).One new feature story  be got published once a quarter.
3.Internal communication should cover the evaluation of the programmes.
4.If internal audiences are dispersed geographically , the progress reports could be  plotted on a map.If the purpose of internal communication is to tell people in different locations to know what to do and by what time,it should be done by sending clear and specific messages.They should also be told how the achievement against these objectives will be measured.
6.There should be system of tracking the feedback and questions of constituents.
7.Frequent face to face meetings.
                         To maintain credibility in internal communication , you need to stay current ,updated and skilled .You need to be explicit about the connection between communication and its consequences .You should connect the dots for the internal audiences , particularly your bosses. I trust that internal communication is a powerful tool which any organizational leader can ignore at his/her own peril .