Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

My Diary – Indore

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

I travelled to Indore last night. After checking in the hotel by 9:45 p.m., I went for a walk at 10:30 p.m. I found many road-side shops were fully operational even at that time. By the way, I was in area called MR10 which is new developing area.

My observations:

1. A city of 25-lakh people have a good feeling of safety and security. It is historically associated with city of Avanti during the 5 century BC and active city during Ashoka time (2nd Century BC).

2. The new infrastructure is very well planned for a city of just 25-lakh people. This planning process could have started at least 10-15 years back, because I observed the 10-lane ready highway in middle of the city. Six main lanes (3 + 3) were divided by a 10 feet of green cover plus two side lanes for separating the street traffic with a pedestrian track.

3. Every Sunday morning between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., the local corporation body organises a public awareness programme. Along with active public, local govt. officials and leaders participate in these programmes. Today, the topic was around Pollution. I witnessed active participation from the public and I also liked the large group performing aerobics using popular Bollywood songs.

4. The intercity infrastructure is very strong. Ujjain is just 45 minutes by road, while Bhopal is the next major city with a 3-hr journey that provides lots of intercity collaboration.

5. The city is food loving with different varieties of recipes and authentic food styles (Marathi, Gujarathi, Rajasthani, etc.,) coming in from its neighbouring states.

I will travel again to Madhya Pradesh to discover more of its heritage and culture.

PS: please correct me in case of any data errors.

Little Good News #1

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

During the recent Polestar Awards function, I felt the need of ‘Little Good Newspaper’ similar to the current newspaper that we read every morning and start the day with news happening around us and all over the world.

The proposed newspaper can carry what ‘next door’ human being is contributing in building the spirit of compassion, innovations and contribution to a larger purpose of humanity.

I am sharing the first news – ‘Little Good News #1’

On my birthday, 30th Dec, I visited my old Govt. Senior Secondary School, Sector 6, R K Puram, Delhi. During that time in 1972-73, it was one of the worst schools I studied in. Generally, we have a very poor opinion about govt. and corporation schools though most of the middle-class students like me have studied in such schools. It was me, Manju and Akansha who were very sympathetic with the state of govt. schools and before entering to the school, discussing about ‘how to change them’.

As we started talking to the Principal of the school Mr. R R Meena, to my surprise, I observed that:

1. Today the school has 72 class rooms. It was well painted with learning pictures and posts on the walls. Also, it is a co-education school.
2. The Principal’s room is shared with few of the staff members and they are working as a single team.
3. The strength of the school has grown up to 1,800 students with a pass percentage of over 98%.
4. Noticeably, the school also has a full-size swimming pool with viewer desks.
5. The school has five houses (groups), where each house is collaboratively managed by 5-7 teachers and students. Each house is responsible for school discipline, cleanliness and assembly participation.
6. The school has RO water plant facility and clean toilets.
7. I was impressed by the school auditorium which can house more than 1,000 students and also has an acoustic wall paneling along with high quality sound system.
8. The Principal and Vice-Principal – Mr. Meena and Mrs. Nita were very enthusiastic in sharing the success of their students.
9. The school conducts extra classes during holidays for needy students.

We were totally spellbound from this experience.

My Diary – 27th Dec 2015 at Bhubaneshwar

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Today morning, we visited Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. These caves originated during 200 B.C., constructed by the Kharavela Dynasty (post King Ashoka, Mauryan Empire) on the hills where Jain Monks used to live.

My Observations:
1. Udayagiri is the place where monks can live in more than 50 man-made constructed caves.

2. Hostel caves: There are single person caves, two person caves and a dormitory spread over multiple caves with an opening.

3. Teaching class rooms: There is a large elephant cave where more than 100 students can attend the lectures.

4. Library: The library section is behind the lecture hall.

5. Tutorial classes or reflection rooms: Two-storey meditation caves with front area for discussions are also present.

6. Amphitheatre: An open-air amphitheatre with seat for the King and Guru can be seen on the Udayagiri hills.

7. Khandagiri is the place where all the temple caves are present. The idols of Adinath and Mahavir of 2nd to 3rd century BC are also present. Interestingly, the importance of nine planets (which the western world discovered in the 16th century) is carved out around the Adinath idol.

8. Interesting fact -In one cave, there is an idol of Lord Ganesha carved on the right-hand side and Adinath on the left-hand side of the cave.

Khandagiri caves

Khandagiri caves

Udayagiri caves

Udayagiri caves

Khandagiri-Udaygiri site

Khandagiri-Udaygiri site

Just Walk

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

On Wednesday, I met a colleague from Polaris, Suresh Kamath. He mentioned to me that he walks every day 10 to 12 Km. I asked a few questions because I started regular walk after getting inspiration from my brother and committed that I would walk at least 2 km for 20 days in month. Not a big goal. During 2012, 2013 I could maintain that small walking consistently. I increased this goal to 200 km per quarter during Oct-Dec 2014 and Jan to March quarter.

10 km per day was big goal against 3 kms per day for around 22 days in a month(Take out travel days) to achieve 200 Km across three months.

I got inspired from Suresh and did 10 Km per day for 3 days in a row – Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

A small, satisfying milestone.


Connecting the dots – evolution of Photography

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Photo Courtesy: The early lensmen (1850-1910)

This morning I was reading Frontline magazine where they published photograph of Taj Mahal taken between 1850-1860.

That set me curious around the invention of photography. My findings 1. First process of invention happen when someone observed the ‘effect of light on some material like Silver nitrate etc. 2. Someone connected the above phenomenon to storing the image on some surface if you expose it for long time. 3. Then next person connected the next dot by ordering convex lens to converge the picture on silver chloride. 4. Few more dots connected before first invention got registered in 1839. 5. Eastman who wanted to use photography for his trip to Europe found entire equipment very clumsy and large.

He thought of simplifying the Process of photography by leaving his job as a Banker. 6. He started his company in 1880 in NY and first camera Eastman Kodak was launched in 1888 a year before Nehru was born in India. In 19th century it took almost 90 years to connect the dots between Idea and commercialisation. Today this cycle has come down to 12 years in the case of LED lighting. It took atleast 50 years to reach the invention of Camera to common man in 20th century. In 21st century it took less than 5 years to make LED viable for common man. A power of Globalisation and communication.

Mangal Pandey to Mangal Yaan

Saturday, September 27th, 2014


157 years of new emerging India.

From Religious Learnings to Cutting Edge Technology. From contentment, to the courage to challenge the world.

The Mangalyaan project was conceived in 2010. It got approved on 3rd August 2012. In just 14 Months the Mars Orbiter was launched on 5th Nov. 2013.

  1. The mission represented the perfect collaboration among 13 disciplines of expertise – Electtrical Engineering, Mechanical engineering, Chemical, Civil, Metallurgical, Telecommunication, Electronics, Computer hardware, Astrophysics, Software, Solar energy, Aeronautics and Mathematics. The level of synchronization and ego-free work this must have required is truly amazing.
  2. It was an example of Perfect Project Management. The spare figures speak for themselves – There have been 51 Mars missions so far; 21 of them labelled failures. No country in history ever accomplished the mission in its very first attempt. The accomplishment of ‘First-time right’ simply cannot be overstated.
  3. Perfect Technology – India’s space programme has always been a cut above because of ISRO’s constant thrust on self-sufficiency. With many of the established Space programmes over-protective of their knowledge packets, ISRO had no consultant to advise them or walk them through the umpteen unknowns in a journey across the biggest unknown. The combined prowess of internally generated technologies conquered these unknowns.
  4. Perfect Process – Impeccable planning. All interdependencies worked out for 300 days of Mars orbiter in Space.
  5. Perfect Testing without UAT (User Acceptance Testing) – Just Zero defect. This detail alone is immensely appealing to our perfection obsessed field.

We were hearing lots of ‘Jokes’ about india in all 5 spaces of competencies which ISRO challenged. It proved them all wrong and inspired us all to bring ‘Made in India’ brand in front.

I got humbled today.

Mangal Ho! – Inspiration from 225 Million KM away

Friday, September 26th, 2014

(Here is an article published in Connect – our in-house newsletter) 



The vast expanse of stars and celestial bodies have tantalized man’s curiosity for eons. Indians particularly, have explored and attempted to de-mystify the planetary secrets for ages through keen observation of their movements and recorded the influence on earthly beings. Mars – known as ‘Mangal’ in India – the diffident, red-faced neighbour of our planet has evaded several attempts of humans in the past from entering its orbit and probing its mysteries. Only a few have succeeded thus far. Yet, ISRO’s (Indian Space Research Organisation) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) – fondly called ‘Mangalyaan’ back home – successfully entered the Martian orbit in the very first attempt. But that’s not the only reason why the entire nation and world is talking so much about ‘Mangalyaan’ right now.

This critical space probe mission has all ingredients of a perfectly planned and executed project. One cannot set aside the fact that the overall cost of sending MOM into Martian orbit falls under $75m. That is less than how much money it took to make the movie Gravity (says! All the necessary equipment required for the mission was made to fit around a 1300 kg weight limit. From obtaining government approval to final execution, the entire feat was achieved in less than 15 months!

It is remarkable to think of how this zero-defect accomplishment was made in such short time period and at such low cost. The Indian space agency has achieved what American, European and Russian agencies could not. This success has indeed elevated the status of the “Made in India” label and placed us on a high pedestal in the global arena.

The reason why we are so excited about this phenomenal success in the Polaris banyan is because it humbles us, inspires us and exhibits very visible connect with our value systems – breaking limiting beliefs, achieving a perfect design, delivery excellence, getting first time right, zero-defect and extreme execution.

At the core of any successful project lies good design. The extent of collaboration within multiple teams involved in this project deserves applause to begin with. The efficiency with which the operations were handled is an essential lesson in the power of planning and skill of precision. Every single element used to build this spacecraft and launch it into space was accurately engineered to deliver extreme performance. The amount of risk taken and managed is awe-inspiring. It feels exhilarating to say that this can happen only in India.

There are lot of learnings to gain from this magnificent success story. The tremendous efforts, the commitment, the focus, the vision, the humility, the team work. And we are determined to take this far and deep into our practices to continue breaking grounds for all our customers. If the complexity of astrophysics can be dealt with so deftly, simplicity in financial technology can be achieved by adoption of the same principles.

Coming soon: Arun Jain’s take on the Mars mission – Mangal Pandey to Mangalyaan

The Panchabhootham (Five Elements) analogy of corporate institution building

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014


Prof. Prasad Kaipa, CEO Coach in Silicon Valley recently took me to the Redwood Forest in California. I had a phenomenal experience walking around among the trees, some of which were almost 300 feet tall. They are 2000 years old and resistant to any fire. They have lived a life spanning across cultures from a time period before any of the settlers migrated there. Multiple fires have happened in that forest and some of the trunks were burnt. But it didn’t impact them. The burning has created some holes in the bottom, but the trees are growing and standing tall. They need so much of water every day – 500 gallons. They take water from clouds too, because the roots cannot support the water to go up to 300 feet. So, the leaves take water from the clouds.

Prasad took me through a very good dialogue on how he uses the redwood forest for coaching. He brings CEOs there and spends two days at a time in the forest with them. He said institution building is a big learning that can be taken from these trees. These trees are long lasting, well beyond a human lifetime. He takes them around and structures a beautiful metaphor. Over a campfire in the evening – the campfire is like a vision which we want for the company. That vision gives passion and energy to the people. Fire is what gives energy to everybody. There is a vision and then to carry this vision across the forest is where forest fires play a role. Air plays the role of marketing and taking it to the marketplace, creating a buzz. From the air, comes sky or space . Sky is a set of opportunities/possibilities. It’s a huge sky which has many possibilities. Once the possibilities have been identified, we need resources. We need to drive it down and in that water plays the role of connecting the possibilities into reality and connecting to the earth where you can sow the seed and grow your vision on the ground and nurture the dreams. This is the Panchabhootham (five elements) analogy which he provided. I had never heard of it before.

According to Hinduism, life and the various species originated by combination of planetary entities and the five manifestations of nature – air, water, fire, land and sky. The Panchabootham analogy, a very interesting one, links to Corporate institution building.

Scotland – On High Ground

Monday, July 14th, 2014

I spent five days with my family in Edinburgh and Scotland, for my son’s graduation from the University of Edinburgh. We took a tour to the Highlands as well. We liked the vast stretch of green mountains with many rivers of fresh water; they make for such good living conditions. Everything was fine, except the extreme temperatures.

The total population of Scotland was just over 4,80,000 people across the country in the 15th Century. The numbers grew to just 5 million over the last five centuries.

The culture of Scotland has produced some remarkable thinking gurus of modern times – from inventions in the medical field, like pioneering surgery, to Philosophy to economics – Adam Smith, for instance. From big business to philanthropy – Andrew Carnegie; Poetry to literature – Burns and Hume; scientists like Graham Bell, humorists, television personalities, even criminals!

The country has produced remarkable minds on a sustained basis.

I was wondering what the role of a Culture is in making such high quality output.

Broken down into data points,

  1. Edinburgh population has remained more or less constant at 4.8 million people to 5.2 million people over the last 100 years.
  2. Visibly there are no high rise buildings being created – No anxiety to imitate.
  3. Walking and Cycling are still quite the dominant modes of travel.
  4. Art and festivals are participated by one and all.

From the outside, Scotland does not even seem to be marketing itself as a great tourist destination, when compared to its counterpart countries.
Is it Humility and self security that matter to grow internally?