Twelve Steps to Raise Your Self Esteem

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Twelve Steps to Raise Your Self Esteem

Step One

Stop comparing yourself with other people. There will always be some people who have more than you and some who have less. If you play the comparison game, you’ll run into too many “opponents” you can’t defeat.

Step Two

Stop putting yourself down. You can’t develop high self-esteem if you repeat negative phrases about yourself and your abilities. Whether speaking about your appearances, your career, your relationships, your financial situation, or any other aspects of your life, avoid self-deprecating comments.

Step Three

Accept all compliments with “thank you.” Ever received a compliment and replied,” Oh, it was nothing.” When you reject a compliment, the message you give yourself is that you are not worthy of praise. Respond to all compliments with a simple Thank You.”

Step Four

Use affirmations to enhance your self-esteem. On the back of a business card or small index card, write out a statement such as “I like and accept my self.” or “I am valuable, lovable person and deserve the best in life.” Carry the card with you. Repeat the statement several times during the day, especially at night before going to bed and after getting up in the morning. Whenever you say the affirmation, allow yourself to experience positive feelings about your statement.

Step Five

Take advantage of workshops, books and cassette tape programs on self-esteem. Whatever material you allow to dominate mind will eventually take root and affect your behavior. If you watch negative television programs or read newspaper reports of murders and business rip off; you will grow cynical and pessimistic. Similarly, if you read books or listen to programs, that are positive in nature, you will take on these characteristics.

Step Six

Associate with positive, supportive people. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered. On the other hand, when you are accepted and encouraged, you feel better about yourself in the best possible environment to raise your self-esteem.

Step Seven

Make a list of your past successes. This doesn’t necessarily have to consist of monumental accomplishments. It can include your “minor victories,” like learning to skate, graduating from high school, receiving an award or promotion, reaching a business goal, etc. Read this list often. While reviewing it, close your eyes and recreate the feelings of satisfaction and joy you experienced when you first attained each success.

Step Eight

Make a list of your positive qualities. Are you honest? Unselfish? Helpful? Creative? Be generous with yourself and write down at least 20 positive qualities. Again, it’s important to review this list often. Most people dwell on their inadequacies and then wonder why their life isn’t working out. Start focusing on your positive traits and you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving what you wish to achieve.

Step Nine

Start giving more. I’m not talking about money. Rather, I mean that you must begin to give more of yourself to those around your. When you do things for others, you are making a positive contribution and you begin to feel more valuable, which, in turn, lifts your spirits and raises your own self-esteem.

Step Ten

Get involved in work and activities you love. It’s hard to feel good about yourself if your days are spent in work you despise. Self-esteem flourishes when you are engaged in work and activities that you enjoy and make you feel valuable. Even if you can’t explore alternative career options at the present time, you can still devote leisure time to hobbies and activities, which you find stimulating and enjoyable.

Step Eleven

Be true to yourself. Live your own life – not the life others have decided is best for you. You’ll never gain your own respect and feel good about yourself if you aren’t leading the life you want to lead. If you’re making decisions based on getting approval from friends and relatives, you aren’t being true to yourself and your self-esteem is lowered.

Step Twelve

Take action! You won’t develop high self-esteem if you sit on the sidelines and back away from challenges. When you take action – regardless of the ensuing result – you feel better about yourself. When you fail to move forward because of fear and anxiety, you’ll be frustrated and unhappy – and you will undoubtedly deal a damaging blow to your self-esteem.

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Closing the gap

SLOW and steady wins the race; only the women are picking up pace and men are slowing down! In a major blow to the male ego, a new Oxford University study on women sprinters has found that with the passage of time women will overtake men in the 100m sprint. The study has found that if women continue to close the gap at the present rate of improvement they would soon be outrunning men within 150 years. None of us will be here for the 2156 Olympics to see that happen, but when it does, the last male bastion will have fallen. The steady rise and rise of women in virtually all fields can be seen. From housewives to secretaries, to CEOs, presidents and prime ministers, their rise up the ladder of success has been steady. Slowly but surely they have been chipping away at the once male-run world and the exclusive old boys club is taking a severe beating as more and more women take on roles that were once their exclusive preserve. But back to the study.

How did they come about this conclusion that many a man will scoff at — former British Olympic sprinter Derek Redmond has already gone on record saying, I find it difficult to believe. The study compared the winning times for the Olympic 100m since 1900 and calculated that by 2156 a woman sprinter would breast the tape in the 100m run in 8.079 seconds putting her ahead of her male colleague by 0.1 fraction of a second (men are expected to manage a best result of 8.098). Mathematics is never wrong. And this study was a mathematical calculation based on women’s run timings over the years.

At the first women’s 100m event, staged in Amsterdam in 1928, the winning time was 12.2 seconds compared with the men’s 10.8 — a difference of 1.4 seconds. By 1952, the margin had decreased to 1.1 seconds, with the men breasting the tape at 10.4 seconds and the women at 11.5. In Olympics between 1988 and 2000, the difference was under one second. But in Athens this summer, the gap widened to 1.08 seconds. But, says the study, if overall trends continued, the gap would close up again to 0.84 seconds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics — just one year away!

DETERMINATION

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DETERMINATION
In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before.

Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an upcoming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.

Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.

The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway, a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage; he was not able to move even.

Everyone had a negative comment about the crazy project and felt that the it should be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built. In spite of his handicap, Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge. He tried to motivate and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task. As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment.

It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife.

He touched his wife’s arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish but the project was under way again.

For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man’s indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. It is also a tribute to the engineers and their teamwork, and to their faith in a man who was considered mad by half the world. It stands as a tangible monument to the love and devotion of his wife who for 13 long years patiently decoded the messages of her husband and told the engineers, what to do.

Perhaps this is one of the best examples of a NEVER-SAY-DIE attitude that defeated a terrible physical handicap and achieved an impossible goal.

Often when we face obstacles in our day-to-day life, our hurdles seem very small in comparison to what many others have to face. The Brooklyn Bridge shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realized with determination and persistence, no matter what the odds are.

Even the most distant dream can be realized with determination and persistence. It was courage, faith, endurance and a dogged determination to surmount all obstacles that built this bridge.

Do you recall small brands?

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Do you recall small brands?

Fevicol did it and how. Its advertising established it as a a household name and a generic for the category and won the agency O&M tonnes of awards. Other brands in low involvement categories like plywood, pens, glass are now following suit. So, why are agencies and advertisers getting so involved with these brands?

Plywood – now how many people are really excited about this product category? Chances are that very few don’t even know that there are atleast a 100 brands in the market. A majority of these brands don’t invest in any form of advertising. But market leaders Greenply and Century Ply want consumers to remember just their brand names. And they are doing this by creating some simple yet eye- catching advertising. Advertising that is winning awards like the Greenply film that won an Abby Gold early this year or the Century Ply ad which is getting talked about within days of its launch. This film took a year from conception to execution and finally hit television channels only in December. The brief given to the agency was just to create an interesting ad with a single-minded proposition!
Deputy MD, Century Ply, Sanjay Agarwal , “There have been certain failures as far as certain creatives are concerned in the past. But this time, it has to be good. We are trying to reach the masses. Plywood maybe low interest category but when you make your house, you are spending 15% of your expenditure on plywood.”

“This is a lot of money and if the name Century Ply is in your mind and if we can convert even 3%-4% of people from other brands – that’s a big development for me. It’s a Rs 10,000 crore market and a small shift for us. Another reason is we are into plywood but diversifying into cement and the agri business, and for that we have to create a brand and Century Ply is the brand that will go to the masses.”

It’s every brand’s attempt to reach out to the masses, even if they are not going to directly buy your product. Brands that have very low consumer involvment tend to make the mistake of focusing on what they think is their USP. The trick actually according to other brands like Camlin is, to forget about product applications and focus on creating a high involvment emotional product that will eventually deliver sales.

Executive Director, Camlin, Shriram Dandekar says, “Any soft sell ad will never give you direct information on the number of units sold or the number of units picked up but we believe that over a period of time in a continuity, when people see this ad, it will have good recall value – the theme will have a record and will leave an impression that Camlin has created a good ad and that means Camlin has a good product.”

Group Creative Director, Lowe, Preeti Nair explains, “Unlike a detergent or a soap, your involvment is very clear, these are the categories you don’t care what you are buying, therefore what name remains salient is what you will ask for. Saliency will happen only if you are memorable. A brand gets registered – it’s not because of how often the brand name comes, it’s at what time it comes, so if you take a single-minded benefit and do a commercial they’ll remember, you’ll get saliency on the brands. Brands like Fevicol, Greenply have done it.”

Such advertising has a definate advantage in terms of longer shelf life over advertising campaigns in the FMCG space. For most such brands, there is greater emphasis on the creative idea rather than the media plans. Most of these brands don’t spend more than Rs 3 crore annually on advertising, but definitely get a lot more bang for their buck!

Mentoring The Mentors

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Mentoring The Mentors

Recent research by geneticists in the University of Chicago has thrown up the surprising finding that the human brain was evolving as recently as 5,800 years ago. This was well after the rise of the modern man 200,000 years ago. More importantly, the finding points out that our brains may still be evolving.

A lot of it is linked to the way our lives have changed fundamentally in the intervening millennia. When art, music and tool-making were emerging 37,000 years ago, our brains responded significantly to this change. The development of written language, the spread of agriculture and development of cities kicked in another important change-and another phase of evolution of the human brain.

With changes in patterns of everyday existence, our brains too evolved to accommodate these complexities. The evolution of our brains has also transformed the way humans deal with one another and develop a new set of leadership skills in each era of history.
In the case of the brain, luckily for us, the change occurs on its own. But for leaders, the onus of change is thrust on them. So, in a fast-changing corporate world, a manager must change and evolve his leadership style moves up in the hierarchy.

Mentoring, at its core, is about helping your people with advice on leading and managing in a new role. If they were not mentored at the time they moved to this role, they need it even more. They might have inadvertently picked up habits that could be holding them back from being more effective.

Have you moved to a new role recently? First, my congratulations! Now, to help you judge how well your style has evolved, here are two questions you can ask yourself:-

How many new habits have I adopted in response to the requirements of this role?

How many habits and activities have I discarded as not being relevant anymore?

Mentoring involves, first, helping leaders answer these two questions and, second, helping them through the much longer process of learning new habits and un-learning old ones.

Because management is a practice, it cannot really be taught in the classroom. At best the classroom can help us know the “What” and the “Why”. But what really matters is “How”. How to learn new habits, while also un-learning?

Also, the “How” would differ in each case-the differences being defined by the mentor and the mentee, their respective styles and temperament, the organisational culture, and the needs of the organisation.

The extremely outgoing leader will naturally have a way of mentoring that is different from another who prefers a more toned down style. Similarly, the way this leader with an outgoing personality is mentored will differ from the one who prefers a less flamboyant approach.
Cultural factors too play an important role. This was recently driven home to me quite forcefully while working with an executive team comprising members from Western Europe, South-East Asia and India. Their styles were influenced quite strongly by their respective cultural backgrounds. But more importantly, there were many common areas too. We used these commonalities in our mentoring programme to develop the foundation for achieving higher team performance.

An Acquired Skill

Though mentoring is an acquired skill (learnt only by doing), what is usually not mentioned is the fact that it involves a fairly steep learning curve. Rather than learn while naturally making mistakes, we prefer to a it as managers and leaders. But the more we make mistakes, the better we become.

Also, to clarify, mentoring is not the same as offering suggestions. At best, suggestions-for example, “always do this while talking to a vendor”, or, “never do this in a client meeting”-qualify as suggestions.

It takes time, persistent and conscious effort to become an effective mentor. But it becomes far easier to learn, while making fewer mistakes, by watching others do it first. By having role models.

“GE’s training works because of a thousand different things, most of which have nothing to do with training”, declares GE’s Chief Learning Officer Rober Corcoran. He adds that 20 per cent of leadership development is a result of mentoring, coaching and role models.
[To know more about the other 80%, see The Leadership Factory (Part I) and The Leadership Factory (Part II) ]

Leadership, and by extension, mentoring, are learnt best by a process of apprenticeship, where we first observe someone doing it, before attempting it ourselves. Carl Bass, COO of Autodesk the US $1.5 billion software company, is candid. “As an executive, you’re always being watched by employees,” he says, “and everything you say gets magnified-so you teach a lot by how you conduct yourself.”

Mentoring, often, is “taught” to the leaders in the middle-rung of the organisations first. But what gets in the way of their becoming effective mentors is the fact that they don’t have any role models to observe and learn from. A few try and muddle through. The majority simply follow the path of least resistance, and leave the learning behind in the classroom or their notepads.

On the other hand, if these skills are first learnt at the top, the senior executives then act as the role models. They then disseminate these skills to the next level of leaders. In effect, mentoring skills flow down the organisation chart. Mentoring, like leadership development, exhibits a trickle-down effect-what gets to the bottom depends on the quantity poured at the top.

It goes without saying that not all that trickles down will ever reach the base. So, the more I pour, the more reaches the last level. In any mentoring programme, mentoring the mentors is the important activity. Everything else follows naturally. And leadership styles throughout the organisation evolve much easily, like our brain does.

American leaders studying the Gita

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American leaders studying the Gita

The concept of the crucible and the spark that sets off the alchemy was lucidly explained by a young man who had set his heart on conquering India. Alexander the Great, when 16 years old, told his secretary, Eumenes, “The gods put dreams in the hearts of men; dreams that are often much bigger than they are. The greatness of a man lies in that painful discrepancy between the goal he sets himself and the strength that nature granted him when he came into the world.”

This simple and profound statement points to three eternal truths about the essence of leaders. A leader has a passionately desired goal in his or her mind. A leader has the honesty and courage to admit a personal incapacity to reach that goal. Nevertheless, he strives to improve himself to obtain the goal and thus emerges as the leader we recognise.

Gandhi and Alexander, bot h great leaders , were very different persons: one a man of peace, the other a hero of war. Gandhi was a small man with a big dream. Like Alexander, he also had a goal he pursued relentlessly — though unlike Alexander’s his goal was to throw off a conqueror of India. His autobiography My Experiments with Truth recounts his lifelong efforts to find a better way to reach his goal and acquire the personal strength necessary.

We need more leaders in India in many walks of life. Our young people need appropriate role models, not all of whom may be powerful or wealthy. Moreover, any movement to develop leaders in India should hark back to some eternal truths. To become leaders, young people need opportunities to reflect deeply on the context in which they must lead and to ignite the spark within themselves. Because, to become leaders, they need much more than the style of leaders: they must care for others, have commitment to a cause, and the courage to take the first, difficult steps — the wisdom that Krishna gave to Arjun.
The skills leaders need are inseparable from the context in which they must lead. Sun Tzu will remain a good source of wisdom to win a war. But the Gita may provide better lessons for living in harmony with the world and with one’s conscience too. Therefore, in the drive to teach leadership through books and seminars, we must offer models that fit the needs of our times.

CEOs that create great wealth for their shareholders are good models for running a company. But they may not be appropriate models for many vital issues that must be addressed in the world today. Disillusioned by a spate of corporate scandals and by the macho but mindless invasion of Iraq, Americans need new role models. In India too we need leaders who win by inclusion and who secure peace and not merely win wars.

Therefore, the interest in the Gita in the US is encouraging, as well as the revival of Gandhi as a role model for Indian youth in a very enjoyable Bollywood movie, an idiom they can relate to more easily than erudite discussions of his philosophy.

MANY leadership summits that showcase powerful and wealthy leaders and popular books on leadership fail to get to the heart of leadership. Books that present lists of the common traits of leaders expect that others will become leaders by applying these lists in their lives. Such lists may describe the management systems that leaders employ to get to their goals, but not the process of combustion within: they do not explain what makes leaders emerge.

In contrast to such lists, Warren Bennis , an authority on leadership, describes the process of emergence of leaders in his book, Geeks and Geezers. He says that while leaders may come in many forms and have very different trai ts; all leaders are born in a ‘crucible’ within which, through an intense alchemy, they acquire their leadership mettle.
The concept of the crucible and the spark that sets off the alchemy was lucidly explained by a young man who had set his heart on conquering India. Alexander the Great, when 16 years old, told his secretary, Eumenes, “The gods put dreams in the hearts of men; dreams that are often much bigger than they are. The greatness of a man lies in that painful discrepancy between the goal he sets himself and the strength that nature granted him when he came into the world.”

This simple and profound statement points to three eternal truths about the essence of leaders. A leader has a passionately desired goal in his or her mind. A leader has the honesty and courage to admit a personal incapacity to reach that goal. Nevertheless, he strives to improve himself to obtain the goal and thus emerges as the leader we recognise.

Gandhi and Alexander, both great leaders , were very different persons: one a man of peace, the other a hero of war. Gandhi was a small man with a big dream. Like Alexander, he also had a goal he pursued relentlessly — though unlike Alexander’s his goal was to throw off a conqueror of India. His autobiography My Experiments with Truth recounts his lifelong efforts to find a better way to reach his goal and acquire the personal strength necessary.

We need more leaders in India in many walks of life. Our young people need appropriate role models, not all of whom may be powerful or wealthy. Moreover, any movement to develop leaders in India should hark back to some eternal truths. To become leaders, young people need opportunities to reflect deeply on the context in which they must lead and to ignite the spark within themselves. Because, to become leaders, they need much more than the style of leaders: they must care for others, have commitment to a cause, and the courage to take the first, difficult steps — the wisdom that Krishna gave to Arjun.

Keep your goals in sight

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Keep your goals in sight

It was early in the morning and Guru Dronacharya had decided to test his students and look for the best archer. All the 105 students from the royal family of the Kauravas (which included the 100 sons of the blind king Dhritarashtra and 5 sons of Pandu, known as the Pandavas) were being tested on each subject that they were being taught. Today the subject was archery. The master had hung an artificial bird from the branch of a tree and before handing over the bow to the young aspirant, the Acharya would ask – my child what do you see?

Sir, I see the sky….
Go my child, it’s not yet time to hand you the bow and arrows.

This process went on, till in the end it was Arjuna’s chance. Asked what he could see, he said: “only the eye”.
Yes! The ma ster felt, the worthy aspirant has the goal set before him and should be given the instrument of attaining the goal.

It is often debated whether these events occurred or whether these were mere mental creations of a person like Vyaasa. If these events never took place, the greatness of Vyaasa lies in the fact that he could compose something which has it’s relevance till today.

A great teacher that he was, with this story, Vyaasa probably tried to emphasise upon the fact that a person with tools and without a goal or mission, is like a monkey with a razor in his hands. It is the vision and the goal that makes a person the way he or she is.

One of the famous sayings of Dr. Abdul Kalam is – dream, dream, dream… for dreams convert into thoughts and thoughts into actions.

In a way, in order to transform our inner beings, probably one of the best and most effective means is to have positive dreams. That is one of the effective ways to human resource management. Most of us do not realise that it is the scope of professional growth and emotional security that lures a man to any corporate group rather than what he or she manages to earn now. In a way if an employee is given a direction and a vision to grow, the process makes the individual grow with the institution.

Interestingly, it has been seen that most people, even if they dream big or have visions, cannot sustain them. Probably that is where the role of leadership comes in. A true leader is one who gives the scope for a team colleague to grow on one’s own, while the leader helps in sustaining the dreams of the person.

When a person can sustain his own vision without any external support, he is an exception. If we can be ruthlessly disciplined to do that, we will be able to keep our machine ticking even when the going is really tough. That is probably the key to success. And that is what takes me ahead of many other fellow beings who also aspire to reach the pinnacle.

One such real life story I came across and could drive home the picture I want to portray – can even become a continuing source of inspiration. Can we bring about this transformation in ourselves and make the world a better place to live in?
When she looked ahead, Florence Chadwick saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours.

Already she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast.

On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on – hour after hour – while millions watched on national television.

Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much farther. But all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had . . . until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.

Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I might have made it.” It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.

Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel, eclipsing the men’s record by two hours!

The last days of an IIM professor

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The last days of an IIM professor

Ajit Balakrishnan – 10 November 10, 2006

In that darkened room in Hyderabad, I could see that the muscular arms that once smashed a table-tennis ball at blinding speed were now skeletal. The full head of hair had now only a few strands from repeated bouts of chemotherapy. Even a slight movement on the bed made him grimace with pain.

A flurry of email among the Indian Institute of Management alumni had brought me to Hyderabad that morning. “Professor Iyer is dying with cancer,” announced one mail. “They say there is an experimental drug that could help; he has ordered it from the US but he has no money to clear it when it arrives next week.”

Ramu Iyer taught computer science at IIM Calcutta in 1969, a year when Bill Gates was eleven years old and a decade before Intel and Microsoft, the defining companies of the modern information technology era, were founded. Many of his students are multi-millionaires, board members and CEOs of world-scale companies.

“Does it pain much,” I asked and immediately felt stupid; of course it did, I could see the pain in his face. “How is your business,” he asked, pointedly ignoring my question.
We talked for the next few hours about what was going on in the technology world, his mind eager to keep up-to-date, mine trying to find an opening in the conversation when I could ask the question that the IIM alumni had deputed me to ask — could we help out with the money needed for his drug?

To ask a professor at whose knee you learned everything that you know whether he needed the money to buy a drug that might save his life is a difficult thing to do. What has failed here, you wonder. The way we have organised Indian society that its teachers live a life of penury while their students prosper? Our health care system with its medical insurance schemes that extend to very few? The callousness of the business world, which, preoccupied with growth and investment, doesn’t ever cast an eye on the fountainheads of their success: schools and colleges and teachers?

In the Indian system, an IIM professor’s salary is fixed through the Pay Commission, that gigantic exercise that happens once in 10 years, when compensation levels of five million central government employees are re-set, and 20 million others at state and municipal levels and government-owned companies and semi-autonomous bodies like the IIMs and the IITs follow using a similar formula.

It works on an apparently egalitarian principle, a 1:11 ratio for lowest-level peon to chief secretary and a system of equivalences: an IIM professor’s post is equated to other posts in fisheries, mines, customs, income tax, defence, All-India Radio, Doordarshan. Either all get a raise or nobody gets one. Except that an IIM professor needs a high-quality PhD and has unlimited job opportunities as every country in the world gears up its management schools.
The fallacy of the Pay Commission system is that it prevents market forces from working in the job market. By keeping the salaries of college professors low by equating them to a dozen different types of civil servants, it slows down talented people from staying on for PhDs and then teaching at colleges, which results in colleges like the IIMs not being able to increase their intake, which leads to artificially inflated salaries for their graduates, which causes resentment in government circles, which leads to more Pay Commission demands. . . and the cycle continues.

What prevents the Pay Commission method of compensation-setting being broken, in spite of many recommendations that it be abolished, is the vast “distributional coalition” (a term coined by the Nobel Prize-winning political economist Mancur Olson) of state sector employees, who are adamant that all of their members be included in the Pay Commission.
A distributional coalition, according to Olson, is overwhelmingly oriented to struggles over the distribution of wealth and income to its members rather than to the production of any additional output. Distributional coalitions also keep societies stagnant by preventing re-allocation of resources. By artificially equating salaries across large swathes of the economy, market forces, which direct people away from low-utility jobs to higher-utility ones, are not allowed to come into play.

The darkening afternoon reminded me that I had to catch a flight back to Bombay. I bade goodbye to my professor knowing that it was probably the last conversation that I’d have with him. His wife escorted me to the door. As we stepped out of range of Ramu’s hearing, she burst into tears: “I don’t know what to do-I am so scared .”

I did not say anything, I merely smiled sympathetically because I too was worried; for Ramu Iyer, what would happen to his wife after his time, and a system where a professor could die for want of an amount that his students get as starting salaries. And the seeming impossibility of dealing with the vast distributional coalitions that keep our country in their grip.

A few of us alumni put up the money for Ramu Iyer’s cancer drug though it did not help and Ramu Iyer died soon after. I would like to imagine that wherever he is now, he has the solace of knowing that at least his students had not forsaken him even if the giant bureaucratic system that he served for so long had no thought for him.