24 August 2009

And healthcare for all?


The Corporate world likes to use military phrases profusely, if callously. There is the Project Manager who will tell you how she is always in the firing line; there is the team lead who will tell you how he is always with the troops in the trenches; there is the manager who will tell you how he hit the ground running in his new job. But you will never hear the Indian Military Academy’s motto from any corporate honcho’s mouth:

"The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time."

The reason is simple. Substitute company for country in this motto and the honchos’ belief will manifest in a bizarre, juggled order:

“Your own ease, comfort and safety comes first, always and every time. The honour of your company comes next. The safety, honour and welfare of the employees you manage comes last, always and every time.”

Anthony L. Komaroff’s writes on Executive Physicals in the Sep09 issue of Harvard Business Review about how companies can save money in Executive Physicals and I quote:

It makes good sense for companies to protect their top talent. Sometimes those who run the show can’t find the time to mind their health. That’s where executive physicals come in. With an eye toward prevention, these one- or two day examinations attempt to accommodate busy schedules while supporting the long-term wellness and productivity of a firm’s key players.

‘Executive physicals’ is an example where honchos are put ahead of lesser mortals. It reminds me of a scene from the movie Titanic in which as the ship starts listing after colliding with an iceberg, the women and children are first put on lifeboats and so to safety. A man appears on the scene and demands that the first class ticket holders be first put on lifeboats since they have paid more. The implicit argument is that the first class passengers’ lives are more important because they have paid more.

We are talking about saving lives through healthcare not about esoteric perks of private jets or mansions on hilltops. Isn’t everyone equal where lives are concerned? And in any case what key players are we talking about? These precious people are keys to which gate? We have seen how in the current recession, the so-called key players opened the gates of greed, avarice and mendacity and left their companies tottering on bankruptcy.

There are more things to learn from the military than fancy phrases. The way the military looks after the health of all its men and women is one thing companies can do well to emulate.

06 August 2009

My e-Independence Day Celebrations

This year, on 15th August, it will be an e-Independence Day Celebrations for me.

Thankfully the clamour of the corporate world to reduce the number of holidays hasn’t affected this holiday. 15th August is going to be a real holiday for me since I have decided to go the e-celebrations way.

I will wake up late after the pre-independence day late night party and probably will not be able to catch the live coverage of flag hoisting from the Red Fort. Sipping my cup of coffee, I will catch up with the flag hoisting at the Red Fort by the Honourable Prime Minister on MDTV online. Given India’s improved stature in the league of nations, perhaps DBC will show the hoisting on their website as well. DBC’s showing will surely be a ringside view.

I will e-go ( e-go not as in Freud’s id, ego and super-ego, but e-go as in ‘virtual going’ ) to the local Independence Day Celebrations venue and watch the impressive march past of the military , police and the school children on the local channel. It doesn’t make sense to actually go to the venue with this horrendous traffic on the roads. What about swineflu? Better not go to a public place in these viral days. One never knows.

I will watch Abhishek Bachhan’s day out with the troops on the Siachen Glacier on MDTV in the afternoon. A similar programme should be there on DNN-IBN too and I should be able to switch channels to get the best of both virtual worlds.

Oh, I forgot. My own flag hoisting will be @ home as well. That day the tricolor (See Note 1 below) will be the wallpaper on my Laptop and my Iphone.

In the evening, I will hear patriotic songs on TV. There may even be a special Independence Day programme on Sa Re Ga Ma (See Note 2 below). On hearing these songs I am sure my eyes will well up. Where have all those martyrs gone, I shall probably muse. At dusk I will light a virtual candle on my PC. (Remember, my laptop is already preoccupied with the tricolour wallpaper)

Concurrently, throughout the day, I will send happy Independence day SMS and MMS to all my friends and relatives (especially, to my NRI relatives). That should really keep me occupied. Talk of a holiday!

Late into the night I will order pizza and watch a debate on TV on the real meaning of Independence Day. Probably, I will take part on the SMS poll conducted by one of the TV channels (at Rs 5/- per SMS).

‘The Question we are asking today is’, the anchor would ask:

‘Can we have virtual Independence?’

‘Yes, we can’, I would answer.




Note1: The Indian flag is called the Tricolour
Note2: Sa Re Ga Ma is a popular song competition hosted on one of the Indian TV channels

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