Public Speaking

With Words we Rule Men or like Trump we seek ‘Trouble’ …

Posted on October 3, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, Public Speaking |

In the Bible, reticence is a virtue. “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent,” we are told in Proverbs 17:28. “With their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”

An Americanized version of this saying, often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain, is that it is better to remain silent and appear foolish than to speak and remove all doubt.

Or as Winston Churchill purportedly said, “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.”

Kori Schake, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who served in key policy roles at the White House, Pentagon and Foggy Bottom during George W. Bush’s presidency, explained why Trump’s “fire and fury” threat was so dangerous back in August. Her piece for the Atlantic is as relevant today as it was seven weeks ago. This is the key paragraph:

“In 1949, the United States withdrew its military forces from the Korean Peninsula. Secretary of State Dean Acheson then gave an important speech defining American national-security interests — which notably excluded Korea.

‘It’s not the drawing down of U.S. forces but rather Acheson’s speech that is commonly cited as the signal of American abandonment of South Korea. Words matter: Acheson didn’t cause the Korean war, but his words are remembered as the provocation.

‘Words especially matter between societies that poorly understand each other’s motivations and intentions, as do North Korea and the U.S. We can afford to be sloppy in our formulations among friends, where cultural similarity or exposure give context, but neither of those circumstances pertain with North Korea.”

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Corruption is Political Life Blood …

Posted on June 2, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought, Public Speaking |

Interesting Stuff – By Prameet Kamat – published in Law and Govt May 17  

Corruption funds politics. More specifically, it funds political parties, elections and ideology. So, to understand a party’s ideology, political view point and it’s corruption model, it’s crucial to look at the party’s organization and funding model rather than its personalities.

Let’s look at a simplified model of the economics of a national party. India has about 700 districts and 6 lakh villages. For a political party to have a national foot print, it probably needs about 100,000 local offices, plus a state level and national level organization — offices and people, like any other corporation need funding. Rent + people + consumables per office: 50,000 INR per month.

That’s a fixed bill of INR 300 – 500 crore annually. Add to this cost of LS elections — 400 seats @ 25 cr INR each = 10,000 Cr every five years


And another 2,000 crores every five years for the state election, assembly polls and so on. So about 2,000 crores annually give or take. The number in itself isn’t important. The dimension of it is.

Now, Inflows: Donations to the Party: from well wishers, ideological supporters and common citizens ie through –

  • Administrative corruption (services to common people and small businesses— police, transport, jobs, posts, records, licenses, permits, certificates etc)
  • Unorganized Business Corruption ( Bribes for Liquor vends, LPG gas distribution etc)
  • Local Extortion(Protection money from small shops, petty crimes, prostitution rings etc)
  • State level Organized business corruption (Real estate, Mines, Natural resources, Liquor, Transport)
  • State level Lobbying & Extortion

Corruption, as the man on the street experiences it, is largely what we can call Administrative and Unorganized Business Corruption. Typically, the way it works is that every government official needs to collect “revenue” from the common man for services rendered and pass on a fixed amount every month to his superior. Anything over and above that fixed amount can be kept for personal benefit.

For example, a State Administrative service officer (government salary is at about 75k per month) needs to pay a fixed amount of 1–2 Lakh per month to his superior, who in turn aggregates it and passes it on to his superior, who in turn passes it on higher.

(This simple system is fascinating. So many models can and are tried at an individual level by different government officers to meet different levels of personal ethics and morality — The Robinhood model, The Capitalist model, Honest Rebel model. There is also the aspect of a “department culture” — how does the head of the department set the tone — how does he negotiate his fixed amount with his superior — does he say I’ll get my department to perform giving you street credit but in return I’ll only extract so much from the department? What does he do after that? Pass the message on and keeps the cash? How are “non- economic favors” handled? Does the superior say “do this favor for my friend or family — I will take a lesser amount from you this month?” or does he say — I don’t care, favors or not — you need to deliver this or you are transferred to Mizoram. How does he negotiate the selection of his subordinate officers? Does he maximize inflows or trades off inflow vs performance?)

The rest can be clubbed into Business Corruption. The money you get from large corporations for resources, permissions, infrastructure decisions and so on.

The Money Trail. So this whole money trail ends at the Minister in charge of the department and then on with the CM. What then happens with this gentleman? He needs to deposit it into the Party treasury. How much does he need to pay? Again, a simple view of this negotiation I imagine to be — The party funded 15 crores in the last election and the CM spent say 10 cr personally and hence they agree on say 100 crores a year to the party. You can imagine the dynamics at play here. A “bankable” candidate with his own street level organisation will negotiate a lower party contribution but get lower funding from the party at election time. The party can choose a candidate who offers a higher monthly contribution to the party but needs more funds and street level support from the party at election time.

Clean Corruption? The second more fascinating strategic choice for the CM and the party is Administrative & Unorganized Business Corruption as a percentage % of total inflows. Or in simple words — how much do I take from the common man every month?

This decision determines his popular perception and his electability. With a “clean CM”, the common man experiences better government services, benefits, roads and utilities. Except that the CM is not really clean — he is just choosing to get a higher portion of his funds from Business Corruption. It’s not an easy choice in its execution. The established system of administrative corruption is far easier to milk and manage than negotiating deal specifics with multiple business entities.

The sheer costs of running a political party show us that running a clean, corruption-free government is an impossibility unless they have guaranteed donations every month. Hmm. (When was the last time any party except AAP canvassed you for donations?)

How do parties differ then? How does the government get better under one party and get worse under another? Why does one party build more roads and the other build less? If its just economics, shouldn’t it all be the same?

The answer lies in your corruption strategy. And here is where Mr. Narendra Modi comes in. But to understand this, let’s see how the Congress Party works.

The Congress invented the Corruption Model in India. The Congress party came into power mainly under the leadership of Gandhi and Nehru with a socialist agenda and with the momentum of having had a primary role in the creation of Independent India. They formed the government and ran the country until 1977 and then again intermittently till 2014 making them the ruling party for about 50 of the 70 years as Independent India. If we assume corruption began with the formation of the government and evolved as a way of funding the expenses of running the party and managing election expenses, we can imagine that people with wealth would come into positions of power in the party by donating to the party. We can then see how the model kept evolving morally where the party leadership kept managing and controlling these funds for the good of the party and then ended up controlling power distribution in the party.

The Congress interestingly never had to build a street level election organization and rode on their brand and freedom fighter credentials to win elections. They had the least costs but by virtue of being a monopoly, had the highest fundability leading to a bigger and bigger party war chest. This model steadily built on itself until the late eighties, where first the Janata party and then the BJP started biting at this monopoly and winning elections with low funds but higher street level volunteer-led organisations.

As economic critical mass grew, regional parties started using local issues and identity to win elections and come into power. No party however can even today match the economic might that fifty-year head start gave the Congress. It also explains very easily why even politically inept newbies within the Gandhi family still manage to hold on to that power. The combination of assets, cash and corporate relationships that were held closely by the party leadership and managed by loyal accountants for the party in vague cross-holdings is near impossible to usurp.

Congress election strategy is basically Votes for Cash. The cash-rich Congress has since then stayed with the strategy of trading political seats for cash. I imagine Sonia Gandhi being practical with her choice of candidates- “I don’t understand political context. Who comes in with highest probability of winning elections and with least ask of my party funds?

Effectively, an inorganic acquisition strategy — that simple equation has defined Congress electoral strategy for the last couple of decades. It explains why we see so many power centres in the Congress Party and their love of regional alliances.

BJP strategy The BJP on the other hand initially rode on the Ram Janmabhoomi movement to capture electoral mandate and came to power. They had a few short years at the top but being a relative startup were far more unified in their ideology and their leadership under AB Vajpayee and LK Advani. After coming to power, they inherited some of the corruption systems that the Congress has built and probably started to fund themselves and their partner organisations.

I think Pramod Mahajan was the driving force for collating the thinking on how to harness funds and had started to really transition the party into a commercial entity at a national level.

Something different happened in Gujarat. Narendra Modi came to power as a relative outsider and by sheer luck or genius found himself with the electoral mandate. I don’t know whether this was due to circumstance or innovation, but I imagine he looked at the local funding model in the context of the unrest for the man on the street, and decided to focus exclusively on Corporate or Business Corruption to fund his party and local organisation.

It’s entirely possible that this is by sheer luck as his some of the nation’s largest corporates came from Gujarat and due to its ports and trading activity had a heavy bias in being invested there. Leveraging that into a business relationship seems like the only logical way to relieve the pressure on Administrative and Unorganized corruption. It’s the only way that an newbie outsider CM could harness his government’s administrative resources and ask them to provide a smooth ride for the man on the street and restore his confidence. “No funds required from the government to the party.”

This simple choice allowed the CM to focus on selecting the best candidates for ministerial and senior officer roles. We can take this even further and imagine that the CM says to his ministers and officials, you perform and I’ll take care of you. You don’t need any revenues from your departments. He does this for a year and then another and realizes he is getting political credit and earning him an electoral mandate. His next election then lets him go back to his corporate sponsors and say, okay look, I am cleaning up the administration and creating infrastructure for you. For this, I am going to need a 1,000 crores from you every year – a sort of a retainer model.

For the corporates, this becomes an easy deal — the CM has just offered a bulk discount on the thousands of crores I bleed every year at the hands of his government at his ports and his license and excise offices. This centralized corruption strategy starts to do a couple of things — you start to control the funding, and hence the party and therefore the election strategy, and second, you really start to control the government for performance. You effectively subsidize the common man through the goods and services he consumes from the private sector and the resulting profits. You start to select ministers and leaders for performance rather than “party revenues”. You are less reliant on local leaders for elections, and in effect can run a performance government, creating massive economic opportunity for corporations, which then goes back to reinforce his value propostion to both his stakeholders- the voter on the street and the corporate promoter.

What happens next? The Scale up and the Lock-in.

After ten years of managing this at state level, you then offer the central party leadership a massive fund infusion for the party elections in return for becoming the PM candidate and saying that I will manage the party funds as well, effectively controlling the entire election and candidate strategy. You have just done what the Congress has done for three decades- control the party by controlling the inflows. You win the election by outspending your fiscally conservative competition and with a better strategy. The unified face of the party allows you to control the message and win you a national election.

What happens next? Now you have got to pay your sponsors back. You then deploy the same centralised corruption strategy at a national level. You deploy international strategy as a new growth lever for your corporate sponsors. You push the government into high performance mode on power, roads, railways — generating economic growth for your sponsors and economic and political momentum.

The Counterstrike. Even with all this, you still worry about the next election. For one simple reason. Your main rival still has 5X the resources you have. Theoretically, the Congress could break the bank in the next election and outspend the BJP to dilute the party’s electoral mandate, especially in the regional constituencies.

You do two things — One, you neutralize the Congress with the only way you can neutralize their resources — Black money and Demonetization. You go after their assets stashed abroad over the years. You tighten the screws on taxation and transactions. Even if you don’t reduce their resources, you at least succeed in reducing their liquidity and hence their deployability. Congress vote share is declining in every successive poll since 2014 bar a couple of exceptions. You take a hit too but if you look at the damage you cause your biggest rival, this is a a shin graze.

Two, you then go ahead and remove the cap on anonymous political donations, effectively legalizing the entire transaction between your corporate sponsors and your party treasury.

With these two simple steps, you have just changed the game for political domination in India. And that is what I believe is happening in India today.

What of ideology? What of the manifesto? Well, honestly if you control the economics, you control the medium that can control the message. If you run the government and the corporations, you effectively control nearly everything. You can manage messages locally to suit or modify the narrative.

.Two exceptions remain. The Judiciary and the Internet.

That’s for the next chapter.

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Views on WHISKEY

Posted on November 21, 2013. Filed under: Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, Public Speaking |

In 1952, Armon M. Sweat, Jr., a member of the Texas House of Representatives, was asked about his position on whiskey.  What follows is Class Tongue in Cheek (taken from the Political Archives of Texas):

“If you mean whiskey, the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples Christian men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fiber of my being.

However, if by whiskey you mean the lubricant of conversation, the philosophic juice, the elixir of life, the liquid that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life’s great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into Texas treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.

This is my position, and as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle.


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Great Speech – Cricket and Politics …

Posted on November 11, 2013. Filed under: Indian Thought, Public Speaking |

These are Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Late Lakshman Kadirgamar’s after dinner remarks, in the UK where Sri Lankan Cricketers were present.
Some historians say, I think uncharitably, that cricket is really a diabolical political strategy, disguised as a game, in fact a substitute for War, invented by the  ingenious British to confuse the natives by encouraging them to fight each other instead of their imperial rulers. 
The world is divided into two camps – those who revel in the intricacies of cricket and those who are totally baffled by it, who cannot figure out why a group of energetic young men should spend days, often in the hot sun or bitter cold, chasing a ball across an open field, hitting it from time to time with a stick – all to the rapturous applause of thousands, now millions, of ecstatic spectators across the world.
The game has developed a mystical language of its own that further bewilders those who are already befuddled by its complexities.In the course of my travels I have a hard time explaining to the non-cricketing world – in America , China , Europe and Russia – that a ‘googly’ is not an Indian sweetmeat; that a ‘square cut’ is not a choice selection of prime beef; that a ‘cover drive’ is not a secluded part of the garden; that a ‘bouncer’ is not a muscular janitor at a night club, that a ‘Yorker is not some exotic cocktail mixed in Yorkshire or that a ‘leg-break’ is not a sinister manoeuvre designed to cripple your opponent’s limbs below the waist.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me see whether politics and cricket have anything in common. Both are games. Politicians and cricketers are superficially similar, and yet very different. Both groups are wooed by the cruel public who embrace them today and reject them tomorrow. 
Cricketers work hard; politicians only pretend to do so. Cricketers are disciplined; discipline is a word unknown to most politicians in any language. Cricketers risk their own limbs in the heat of honourable play; politicians encourage others to risk their limbs in pursuit of fruitless causes while they remain secure in the safety of their pavilions. Cricketers deserve the rewards they get; the people get the politicians they deserve.
Cricketers retire young; politicians go on for ever. Cricketers unite the country; politicians divide it. Cricketers accept the umpire’s verdict even if they disagree with it; politicians who disagree with an umpire usually get him transferred.  Cricketers stick to their team through victory and defeat, politicians in a losing team cross over and join the winning team. Clearly, cricketers are the better breed.
A story goes that a shark was asked why diplomats were his preferred food. He replied “because their brains being small are a tasty morsel, their spines being supple I can chew on them at leisure – and they come delightfully marinated in alcohol.
Today we lost a match. But you lost to the rain and M/s Duckworth and Lewis. You did not lose to England . Only a few weeks ago you had a resounding victory against South Africa . You will win again tomorrow. What is important is to keep up your confidence and spirits.
Nobody told me that I had to make a speech, it dawned on me that there is no such thing as a free dinner!”
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Churchilliana …

Posted on February 25, 2013. Filed under: Personalities, Public Speaking, The English |

Toward the end of his life, Winston Churchill visited the House of Commons. A buzz throughout the room accompanied his presence, taking away from attention to the debate at hand. “They say he’s potty,” murmured one member of Parliament.“They say he can’t hear either,”responded Churchill.

. During World War II, an aide read to Churchill an account in a tabloid: A seventy-five-year-old man on a cold January day-with the temperature thirty-five degrees below freezing had propositioned a nineteen-year-old girl to have sex on the grass in Hyde Park.  Churchill replied to the aide, “Over seventy-five! Below-zero temperature! It makes you proud to be an Englishman!”


George Bernard Shaw sent Churchill an invitation to the opening night of his play Saint Joan. He enclosed two tickets and a note “One for yourself, and one for a friend–if you have one.”    Churchill expressed his regrets, asking if it would be possible to have tickets for the second night–“if there is one.”

 .When the first destroyers arrived in the fall Of 1940 under America Is Lend-Lease Program to Great Britain, Prime Minister Churchill went to inspect them. He was joined by FDR’s right-hand man Harry Hopkins. Churchill looked at the decidedly over aged rust buckets and grumbled in a whisper, “Cheap and nasty.” Hopkins, who was startled by the remark, queried, “What was that?” Churchill amended aloud, “Cheap for us and nasty for the Germans.”


Churchill was visiting the Southern United States in 1946. He attended a dinner party a socialite’s house. The hostess aked him what kind of chicken meat he desired. He said that he wanted breast meat. Shocked the hostess replied that in the South they don’t say things like that and that chicken is either white or dark meat.    ……………..    Several weeks later, Churchill sent the hostess a card thanking her for dinner. Enclosed was also a brooch with a short description saying: “Pin this to your white meat.”

After the British deliverance at Dunkirk, Churchill, in the House of Commons, rallied Britain with his most memorable speech. …….. “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender,” he declared. Then, as the House of Commons thundered in an uproar at his stirring rhetoric, Churchill muttered in a whispered aside to a colleague, “And we’ll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles because that’s bloody well all we’ve got!”

During the war, Churchill one day left the House of Commons to hail a cab to go to Shepherd’s Bush, the site of the BBC Studio. Churchill was scheduled to deliver an 8:00 P.M. address to the nation.  At his wave, a cab came to a halt and Churchill gave the address of the BBC studio.

“Sorry, sir,” was the reply. “I have the radio on and I want to hear the prime minister’s address.” Churchill, delighted with his response, slapped a five-pound note in his hand. “Driver, I have to get there fast.”

The driver replied, “Frig the bloody prime minister, guv’nor, what’s that address again?”

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A Parsi in the House of Lords…

Posted on November 26, 2012. Filed under: Business, Guide Posts, Indian Thought, Personalities, Public Speaking, The English |

Lord Bilimoria in the House of Lords. – Thursday 24 May 2012 –

My Lords, more than 1,000 years ago, a group of Zoroastrian refugees fleeing religious persecution in Iran arrived in India in what is now the state of Gujarat . The Zoroastrians asked the local king for refuge but he said there was no space for them in his land. One of the Zoroastrian priests asked the king for a cup of milk filled to the brim. The priest gently took a teaspoon of sugar and stirred it into the milk  without spilling a drop. He then said to the king, “If you take us into your kingdom, we will be like the sugar in the milk: we will blend in with you but we will also make your kingdom sweeter”. The king allowed them to stay and that group of refugees, and others who followed, flourished to become India ’s Zoroastrian Parsee community.

Fast-forward over 1,000 years and the Zoroastrian community is still tiny: only 69,000 people, less than 0.006% of India ’s population of 1.2 billion people, and yet wherever you go in India , everyone knows who a Parsee is. Moreover, what makes me so proud as a Zoroastrian Parsee is the reputation of our community within India . When I took over as UK chairman of the Indo-British Partnership, now the UK India Business Council, of which I am president, my Indian counterpart Narayana Murthy, one of India’s most respected business leaders, said to me, “I have never met a bad Parsee”.
Mahatma Gandhi said: “In numbers, Parsees are beneath contempt, but in contribution, beyond compare”.
Over the centuries, the Zoroastrian Parsee community has excelled in every field. Today, both the Chief Justice of India and the Solicitor-General of India are Parsees. Maestro Zubin Mehta, the world-famous conductor. I could go on. In fact, I could go so far as to say that in achievement per capita, theZoroastrian community is the most successful in the world by far. However, the community has not only looked after its own but has always put back into the wider community. It exemplifies one of my favourite sayings: “It is not good enough to be the best in the world, you also have to be the best for the world”.
The Zoroastrian faith was brought to the world by the prophet Zoroaster in around 1500 BC. It is said to be one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions, if not the oldest, with a god, a supreme being, and the concepts of good and evil and heaven and hell. This was the religion of the largest of the ancient empires, the Persian Empire . This was the religion of the Emperors Xerxes, Darius and Cyrus the Great.
The Emperor Cyrus is of course credited with writing the world’s first Bill of Rights, the Cyrus Cylinder, which is far older than our own Magna Carta, whose 800th anniversary we will soon be celebrating. The basis of Zoroastrian faith is three words: “Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta”—good thoughts, good words, good deeds.
When Jamsetji Tata, the founder, set up Tata Steel over 100 years ago in the jungles of what was then part of the state of Bihar, where our company, Molson Coors Cobra, now owns the only brewery in the state, a British civil servant at the time dismissed the idea of an Indian ever owning a steel factory and said he would eat every bar of steel that came out of that factory..
Dadabhai Naoroji entered the House of Commons as a Liberal in 1892, against all odds. In 1895, just three years later, the second Indian, Mancherjee Bhownagree, also a Zoroastrian Parsee, was elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative. In 1922, the third—and the only one of the three Indians elected to the other place before India’s independence—was Shapurji Saklatvala, or “Comrade Sak”, who was elected as a Communist with Labour support.
I am so proud to be a Zoroastrian Parsee. I am so proud to be an Indian. I am so proud to be an Asian in Britain , and most importantly I am so proud to be British.”
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Sam Manekshaw Gives a Lecture – 25 Years after Retiring …

Posted on September 27, 2012. Filed under: From a Services Career, Guide Posts, Indian Thought, Light plus Weighty, Personalities, Public Speaking |

This is Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s Lecture at the Staff College, of which he was once Commandant. He talks on the ills facing the Nation and the crying need for Leaders in all walks of life with anecdotes from his own life. And on Indira Gandhi and her Govt in early ’71. before the ’71 War, which made the Nation of Bangla Desh.

His Lecture was on Armstice Day – 11TH November, 1998 – some 80 Years after the end of the First Great War! A bit long with personal asides – but hardly rambling!

Commandant, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am conscious of the privilege to have been invited here to address the college.

A while ago, I was invited to a seminar where the subject was youth and people said that the youth of this country was not pulling its weight, that society generally was not satisfied with how the young were functioning. When I was asked what I thought about it, I said that the youngsters of this country are disappointed, disturbed and confused.

They cannot understand why all these untoward things are happening in this country. They want to know who is to blame. Not them. If they want to study at night and there is no power, they want to know who is to blame. Not them. If they want to have a bath, there is no water; they want to know who is to blame. Not them. They want to go to college and university and they are told there are not any vacancies; they want to know who is to blame. Not them. They say – here is a country which was considered the brightest jewel in the British Crown. What has happened to this Bright Jewel.

No longer are there excuses with the old political masters saying that the reason why we are in this state is because we were under colonial rule for 250 years. They turn around and say that the British left us almost fifty years ago. What have you done? They point to Singapore, they point to Malaysia, they point to Indonesia, and they point to Hong Kong. They say that they were also under colonial rule and look at the progress those countries have made.

They point to Germany and to Japan who fought a war for four and a half years- whose youth was decimated and industry was destroyed. They were occupied, and they had to pay reparations; Look at the progress those countries have made. 

The youngsters want an answer. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thought I should give you the answer.

The problem with us is the lack of leadership.

I do not mean just political leadership. Of course, there is lack of that leadership. There is, more importantly, lack of leadership in every walk of life – whether it is political, administrative, in our educational institutions, or whether it is our sports organizations. Wherever you look, there is lack of leadership.

I do not know whether leaders are born or made. There is a school of thought that thinks that leaders are born. We have a population of 960 million people and we procreate at the rate of 17 million – equaling the total population of Australia – each year, and yet there is a dearth of leadership.

Can leaders be made? My answer is – Yes. Give me a man or a woman with common sense and decency, and I can make a leader out of him or her.

What are the attributes of leadershipThe first, the primary, indeed the cardinal attribute of leadership is professional knowledge and professional competence.

Professional knowledge and professional competence have to be acquired by hard work and by constant study. In this fast – moving technologically developing world, you can never acquire sufficient professional knowledge.

You have to keep at it. And at it! And at it!

Professional knowledge and professional competence are a sine qua non of leadership. Unless you know what you are talking about, unless you understand your profession, you can never be a leader.

What is the next thing you need for leadership? It is the ability to make up your mind to make a decision and accept full responsibility for that decision.

Have you ever wondered why people do not make a decision? The answer is quite simple. It is because they lack professional competence or they are worried that their decision may be wrong and they will have to carry the can.

Ladies and Gentlemen, according to the law of averages, if you take ten decisions, five ought to be right. If you have professional knowledge and professional competence, nine will be right, and the one that might not be correct will probably be put right by a subordinate officer or a colleague.

But if you do not take a decision, you are doing something wrong. An act of omission is much worse than an act of commission. An act of commission can be put right. An act of omission cannot. 

Take the example of the time when the Babri Masjid was about to be destroyed. If the Prime Minister, at that stage, had taken a decision to stop it, a whole community – 180 million would not have been harmed. But, because he did not take a decision, you have at least 180 million people in this country alone who do not like us.

So, what comes next for leadership? Absolute Honesty, Fairness and Justice. 

We are dealing with people. Those of us who have had the good fortune of commanding hundreds and thousands of men know this.

No man likes to be punished and yet a man will accept punishment stoically if he knows that the punishment meted out to him will be identical to the punishment meted out to another person who has some Godfather somewhere.

This is very, very important.

No man likes to be superceded and yet men will accept supercession if they know that they are being superceded, under the rules, by somebody who is better then they are but not just somebody who happens to be related to the Commandant of the Staff College or to a Cabinet Minister or by the Field Marshal’s wife’s current boyfriend.

This is extremely important.

We in India have tremendous pressures – pressures from the Government, pressures from superior officers, pressures from families, pressures from wives, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and girlfriends! And we lack the strength to withstand those pressures.

That takes me to the next attribute of Leadership – Moral and Physical Courage.

I do not know which of these is more important. When I am talking to young officers and young soldiers, I should place emphasis on physical courage. But since I am talking to this gathering, I will lay emphasis on Moral Courage. 

What is moral courage? Moral courage is the ability to distinguish right from wrong and having done so, say so when asked, irrespective of what your superiors might think or what your colleagues or your subordinates might want.

A ‘yes man’ is a dangerous man. He may rise very high, he might even become the Managing Director of a company. He may do anything but he can never make a leader because he will be used by his superiors, disliked by his colleagues and despised by his subordinates. So shallow – this ‘Yes Man’

I am going to illustrate from my own life an example of moral courage. In 1971, when Pakistan clamped down on its province of East Pakistan, hundreds and thousands of refugees started pouring into India. The Prime Minister, Mrs. Gandhi had a cabinet meeting attended by the Foreign Minister, Sardar Swaran Singh, the Defence Minister, Mr. Jagjivan Ram, the Agriculture Minister, Mr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and the Finance Minister, Mr. Yashwant Rao. I was also ordered to be present.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a very thin line between becoming a Field Marshal and being dismissed.  

A very angry Prime Minister read out messages from Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. All of them saying that hundreds of thousands of refugees had poured into their States and they did not know what to do. The Prime Minister turned round to me and said: “I want you to do something”. I said, “What do you want me to do?”

She said, “I want you to enter East Pakistan” and I said, “Do you know that means War?” She said, “I do not mind if it is war”.

I, in my usual stupid way, said, “Prime Minister, have you read the Bible?”And the Foreign Minister, Sardar Swaran Singh (a Punjabi Sikh), in his Punjabi accent said, “What has Bible got to do with this?” and I said, “In the first Book, the First Chapter, the First Paragraph, the First Sentence, God said, ‘Let there be light’’ and there was light. You turn this round and say ‘Let there be war’ and there will be war. What do you think? Are you ready for a war? Let me tell you – It’s 28th April, the Himalayan passes are opening, and if the Chinese gave us an ultimatum, I will have to fight on two fronts”.

Again Sardar Swaran Singh turned round and in his Punjabi English said, “Will China give ultimatum?”  “You are the Foreign Minister. You tell me!”

Then I turned to the Prime Minister and said, “Prime Minister, last year you wanted elections in West Bengal and you did not want the communists to win, so you asked me to deploy my soldiers in penny pockets in every village, in every little township in West Bengal. I have two divisions thus deployed in sections and platoons without their heavy weapons. It will take me at least a month to get them back to their units and to their formations.

Further, I have a division in the Assam area, another division in Andhra Pradesh and the Armored Division in the Jhansi-Babina area. It will take me at least a month to get them back and put them in their correct positions. I will require every road, every railway train, every truck, every wagon to move them.

“We are harvesting in the Punjab, and we are harvesting in Haryana; we are also harvesting in Uttar Pradesh. And you will not be able to move your harvest. I turned to the Agriculture Minister, Mr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, “If there is a famine in the country afterwards, it will be you to blame, not me.” Then I said, “My Armoured Division has only got thirteen tanks which are functioning.”

The Finance Minister, Mr. Chawan, a friend of mine, said, “Sam, why only thirteen?” 

“Because you are the Finance Minister. I have been asking for money for the last year and a half, and you keep saying there is no money. That is why.” 

Then I turned to the Prime Minister and said, “Prime Minister, it is the end of April. By the time I am ready to operate, the monsoon will have broken in that East Pakistan area. When it rains, it does not just rain, it pours. Rivers become oceans. If you stand on one bank, you cannot see the other and the whole countryside is flooded. My movement will be confined to roads, the Air Force will not be able to support me. And, if you wish me to enter East Pakistan, I guarantee you a hundred percent defeat.”

 “You are the Government”, I said “Now give me your orders!”

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have seldom seen a woman so angry, and I am including my wife in that! She was red in the face and I thought, “Let us see what happens”. She turned round and said, “The cabinet will meet four o’clock in the evening”.

Everyone walked out. I being the junior most man was the last to leave. As I was leaving, she said, “Chief, please will you stay behind?” I looked at her. I said, “Prime Minister, before you open your mouth, would you like me to send in my resignation on grounds of health, mental or physical?”

“No, sit down, Sam. Was everything you told me the truth?”

“Yes, it is my job to tell you the truth. It is my job to fight and win, not to lose.” She smiled at me and said, “All right, Sam. You know what I want. When will you be ready?” “I cannot tell you now, Prime Minister, but let me guarantee you this that if you leave me alone, allow me to plan, make my arrangements, and fix a date, I guarantee you a hundred percent victory”.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, as I told you, there is a very thin line between becoming a Field Marshal and being dismissed. Just an example of moral courage.

Now, those of you who remembered what happened in 1962, when the Chinese occupied the Thag-la ridge and Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister, sent for the Army Chief, in the month of October and said, “I want you to throw the Chinese out”.

That Army Chief did not have the moral courage to stand up to him and say, “I am not ready, my troops are not acclimatized, I haven’t the ammunition, or indeed anything”. But he accepted the Prime Minister’s instructions, with the result that the Army was beaten and the country humiliated.

Remember, moral courage. 

You, the future senior staff officers and commanders will be faced with many problems. People will want all sorts of things. You have got to have the moral courage to stand up and tell them the facts. Again, as I told you before, a ‘yes man’ is a despicable man.

This takes me to the next attribute: Physical courage.

Fear, like hunger and sex, is a natural phenomenon. Any man who says he is not frightened is a liar or a Gorkha!

It is one thing to be frightened. It is quite another to show fear. If you once show fear in front of your men, you will never be able to command. It is when your teeth are chattering, your knees are knocking and you are about to make your own geography – that is when the true leader comes out!

I am sorry but I am going to illustrate this with another example from my own life. I am not a brave man. In fact, I am a terribly frightened man. My wife and I do not share the same bedroom. “Why?” you will ask. Because she says I snore. Although I have told her, No, I don’t.  No other woman has ever complained”.

I am not a brave man. If I am frightened, I am frightened of wild animals, I am frightened of ghosts and spirits and so on. If my wife tells me a ghost story after dinner, I cannot sleep in my room, and I have to go to her room. I have often wondered why she tells me these ghost stories periodically.

In World War II, my Frontier Force battalion, which is now in Pakistan, was fighting the Japanese. We had a great many casualties. Young Major Manekshaw was commanding Charlie Company, which was a Sikh Company. the other companies were  Pathan companies. As we had too many casualties, we had pulled back to reorganize, re-group, make up our casualties and promotions.

The Commanding Officer had a conference and he turned to me and said, “Sam, we have to make lots of promotions. In your Sikh company, you have had a lot of casualties. Surat Singh is a senior man. Should we promote him to the rank of Naik?” Now, Surat Singh was the biggest Badmaash in my company. He had been promoted twice or thrice and each time he had to be marched up in front of the Colonel for his stripes to be taken off. So I said, “No use, Sir, promoting Surat Singh. You promote him today and the day after tomorrow, I will have to march him in front of you to take his stripes off”. So, Surat Singh was passed over. 

The promotion conference was over, I had lunch in the Mess and I came back to my company. Now, those of you who have served with Sikhs will know that they are a very cheerful lot  always laughing, joking and doing something. When I arrived at my company lines that day, it was quite different, -everybody was quiet. When my second-in-command, Subedar Balwant Singh, met me I asked him, “What has happened, Subedar Sahib?” He said, “Sahib, something terrible has happened. Surat Singh felt slighted and has told everybody that he is going to shoot you today”.

Surat Singh was a light machine gunner, and was armed with a pistol. His pistol had been taken away, and Surat Singh had been put under close arrest. I said, “All right, Sahib. Put up a table, a soap box, march Surat Singh in front of me”. So he was marched up. The charge was read out – ‘threatening to shoot his Commanding officer whilst on active service in the theatre of war’. That carries the death penalty. The witnesses gave their evidence. I asked for Surat Singh’s pistol which was handed to me. I loaded it, rose from my soap box, walked up to Surat Singh, handed the pistol to him then turned round and spoke to him in Punjabi, “You said you will shoot me. Have you got the guts to shoot me? Here, shoot me”. 

He looked at me stupidly and said, “Nahin, Sahib, galtee ho gayaa”. 

I gave him a tight slap and said, “Go out, case dismissed”. I went around the company lines, walked, chatted and then went to the Mess in the evening to have a drink and dinner. 

When I came back again Subedar Balwant Singh said, “Nahin Sahib, you have made a great mistake. Surat Singh will shoot you tonight”. I said, “Bulao Surat Singh ko”.

He came along and I said, “Surat Singh, aj rat ko mere tambu par tu pehra dega, or kal subah 6 bjay, mere liye aik mug chai aur aik mug shaving water lana”. Then I walked into my little tent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I did not sleep the whole night. Next morning, at six o’clock, Surat Singh brought me a mug of tea and a mug of shaving water. Thereafter, throughout the war, Surat Singh followed me like a puppy. If I had shown fear in front of my men, I should never have been able to command them. I was frightened, terribly frightened, but I dared not show fear in front of them. 

Those of you, who are going to command soldiers, remember that. You must never show fear.So much for physical courage, but, please believe me, I am still a very frightened man. I am not a brave man.

What comes next? The next attribute of leadership is loyalty. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, you all expect loyalty. Do we give loyalty? Do we give loyalty to our subordinates, to our colleagues?

Loyalty is a three way thing. 

You expect loyalty, you must therefore, give loyalty to your colleagues and to your subordinates. Men and women in large numbers can be very difficult, they can cause many problems and a leader must deal with them immediately and firmly. 

Do not allow any non sense, but remember that men and women have many problems. They get easily despondent, they have problems of debt, they have problems of infidelity – wives have run away or somebody has an affair with somebody. They get easily crestfallen, and a leader must have the gift of the gab with a sense of humor to shake them out of their despondence.

Our leaders, unfortunately, our “so-called” leaders, definitely have the gift of the gab, but they have no sense of loyalty. So, remember that.

Finally, for leadership; men and women like their leader to be a man, with all the manly qualities or virtues. 

The man who says, “I do not smoke, I do not drink, I do not ….. (No, I will not say it)’, does not make a leader. Let me illustrate this from examples from the past.

You will agree that Julius Caesar was a great leader – he had his Calpurnia, he had his Antonia, he also had  his Cleopatra and, when Caesar used to come to Rome, the Senators used to lock up their wives.

And you will agree that he was a great leader. He was known in Rome as every woman’s husband yet he was a great leader.

Take Napoleon, he had his Josephine, he had his Walewska, he had his Antoinette and Georgettes and Paulettes. And you will agree he was a great leader. Take the Duke of Wellington – do you know that the night before the battle of Waterloo, there were more Countesses, Marchionesses and other women in his ante – chamber than staff officers and Commanders. And you will agree he was a great leader.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a thought has just struck me. All these leaders- Caesar, Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington- they had one facial feature in common, all had long noses!

So much, Ladies and Gentlemen, for leadership, but no amount of leadership will do this country much good. Yes, it will improve things, but what this country needs is Discipline. 

We are the most ill-disciplined people in the world. You see what is happening – you go down the road, and you see people relieving themselves by the roadside. You go into town, and people are walking up and down the highway while vehicles are discharging all sorts of muck.

Every time you pick up a newspaper, you read of a scam or you read of some other silly thing.As we are the most ill-disciplined people in the world, we must do something about discipline.

What is discipline?  Please, when I talk of discipline, do not think of military discipline. That is quite different. 

Discipline can be defined as conduct and behavior for living decently with one another in society. Who lays down the code of conduct for that? Not the Prime Minister, not the Cabinet, nor any superior officer. 

It is enshrined in our holy books; it is in the Bible, the Torah and in the Vedas, it is in the teachings of Nanak and Mohammad. 

It has come down to us from time immemorial, from father to son, from mother to child. Nowhere is it laid down, except in the Armed Forces, that lack of punctuality is conduct prejudicial to discipline and decent living.

I will again tell you a little story. Some years ago, my wife and I were invited to a convocation at a university. I was asked to be there at four o’clock. I got into the staff car with my wife – having chased her from about eleven o’clock in the morning – ‘Don’t forget, darling, you have got to be on time. Get properly dressed; you have to leave at such and such time’

I told the driver, “Thoda aayisthe, thoda jaldi” and we got to the university and the convocation address place at four o’clock. We were received by the Vice Chancellor and his Lady. We were taken into the convocation hall, and the Vice Chancellor asked me to get on the platform, asking my wife to do so, too. She gracefully declined, and said she much rather sit down below as she seldom had an opportunity of looking up to her husband.

Anyway, on the platform, the Vice Chancellor sang my praises. There were 2000 boys and girls who had come for the convocation.

I rose to go to the lectern and heard the Dean (sotto voce), Field Marshal, a VIP from Delhi was allowed to stand on the same lectern for exactly two minutes. I wish you luck. I said to myself, I would not have come had I known.

Anyway, I addressed the gathering for my allotted time of forty minutes. I was heard in pin drop silence, and at the end was given standing ovation. Even my own wife, stood up and joined. 

Afterward  there were refreshments. Having an eye for pretty girls,  I walked up to a sprightly something and asked, “My dear, why were you so kind to me, when only the other day you treated a VIP from Delhi so shamefully?”.

She smiled and said,  “Oh, That So and So! First he comes over an hour late. Then then haragnues us because his grand children were not garlanded. You should have seen him raising his Dhoti and scratching!!! And he said that in Service of his Country he had even gone to Jail! And he had the gall to say that as he was very busy his lecture had been prepared by his Secretary! No wonder he was booed off.

Now, you see, Ladies and Gentleman, what I mean by discipline.  Had this man as his position warranted come on time at four o’clock, fully prepared and properly turned out, can you imagine the good it would have done to these 2000 young girls and boys? Instead of that, his act of indiscipline engendered further indiscipline.

Now, Ladies and Gentleman, you understand what I mean by discipline. We are the most ill-disciplined people in the world. So far, all of you have been very, very disciplined. Will you bear with me for another two minutes?

Having talked about leadership, having talked about discipline, I want to mention something about Character.

We Indians also lack character. Do not misunderstand me, when I talk of character. I don’t mean just being honest, truthful, and religious, I mean something more – 

Knowing yourself, knowing your own faults, knowing your own weaknesses and what little character that we have, our friends, our fans, the ‘yes-men’ around us and the sycophants, help us reduce that character as well.

Let me illustrate this by an example:

Some years ago, Hollywood decided to put up the picture of the great violinist and composer, Paganini. The part of Paganini was given to a young actor who was conversant, somewhat, with the violin. He was drilled and tutored to such an extent that when the little piece, the Cadenza, was filmed, it was perfect. 

When the film was shown, the papers raved about it, and the critics raved about it. And this man’s fans, ‘yes-men’, sycophants, kept on telling him that he was as good a violinist as Heifetz or Menuhin. And do you know that I took eight months in a psychiatric home to rid him of his delusion?

Do you know, Commandant, that the same thing happened to me?

After the 1971 conflict with Pakistan, which ended in thirteen days and I took 93000 prisoners, my fans, the ‘yes-men’ around me, the sycophants, kept on comparing me to Rommel, to Field Marshal Alexander, to Field Marshal Auchinleck, and just as I was beginning to believe it, the Prime Minister created me a Field Marshal and sent me packing to the Nilgiris.  

A hard-headed, no-nonsense wife deprived a psychiatric home (what we in India call a lunatic asylum), of one more inmate.

I thank you very much indeed. Thank you.

nd your discipline. I am delighted to see you all here.

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True Religion …

Posted on June 18, 2012. Filed under: Guide Posts, Indian Thought, Personalities, Public Speaking, Quotes, Searching for Success |

All Religions preach the same stuff. Yet they are all at war with one another and are responsible for much of the bloodshed and suffering ever since they were founded.Here is how the Dalai Lama defines true religion. Most of us will no doubt agree. 

The Best Religion is the one that gets you closest to God – in other words which makes you a better person.

Whether you are religious or not is not important. What is important is your behavior in front of family, at work, at play, in your community and outside it and indeed every where and all the time.

Your personal universe is the echo of your thoughts and actions. The law of action iand reaction is also true in your relations with others. Goodness will beget goodness and evil will beget evil.

You will always have what you desire as long as you desire the same for others. Happinnes is not a matter of destiny. Rather it is a question of options.

Hence Take Care –

Because your thoughts will become words. Your words will become actions. Your actions will become habits and your habits will become your character. And your character will become your dsstinyAnd destiny is life.

There is No Religion Higher than Truth.

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This Crazy English Language …

Posted on March 12, 2012. Filed under: Light plus Weighty, Public Speaking, The English |

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; Neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England.
We take English  for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes – We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, Grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, What do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English Should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship… We have noses that run and feet that smell. We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway. And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language In which your house can burn up as it burns down, In which you fill in a form by filling it out, And in which an alarm goes off by going on.
There is a box, and the plural is boxes. But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes. One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, Yet the plural of moose should never be meese. You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice, Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men, Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen? If I speak of my foot and show you my feet, And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet? If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and there would be those, Yet hat in the plural would never be hose, And the plural of cat is cats, not cose. We speak of a brother and also of brethren, But though we say mother, we never say methren. Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
              And in closing………..If Father is Pop, how come Mother is not Mop??? 
Compilation Copyright © Wink Creations
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English Usage – Humor and Irony …

Posted on March 10, 2012. Filed under: Light plus Weighty, Public Speaking |

PARAPROSDOKIANS are something Winston Churchill dearly loved. It is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and with much pungent wit. Eg “Where there’s a will, I want to be in it,”

Here are some classic examples.

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says,’In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’

I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the streetwith a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usualy another woman.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

Where there’s a will, there’s relatives.

Take your time , we have got all evening.

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