தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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thirukural
Whatever may be said, who ever may say it - to
determine the truth of it, is wisdom - Thirukural

Reflections 2007 : Chinthanaigal

Reflections 2007 Reflections 2006 Reflections 2005 Reflections 2004 Reflections 2001 Reflections 2000 Reflections 1999 Reflections 1998



Reflection by Jayalakshmi Satyendra

Saturday 27 October 2007

"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) contributed by Satyendra Chelvendra

 Sunday 14 October  2007

"They talk of patriotism. I believe in patriotism, and I also have my own ideal of patriotism.Three things are necessary for great achievements... First, feel from the heart... This is the first step to become a patriot, the very first step.(Second) You may feel, then; but instead of spending your energies on frothy talk, have you found any way out, any practical solution, some help instead of condemnation...? (And Third) Yet, that is not all. Have you got the will to surmount mountain high obstructions. If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?... Have you got that steadfastness? If you have these three things, each one of you will make miracles..." Swami Vivekananda on Patriotism

Sunday 7 October  2007

"There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know." Harry S Truman quoted by Stephen Kinzer in All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror

"Can we say of Reich, as Andre Gide did of Dostoevsky, that he 'remains ever the man of whom there is no way to make use! He is of the stuff which displeases every party. Why? Because he never persuaded himself that less than the whole of his intelligence was necessary to the part he chose to play, or that for the sake of immediate issues he would be justified in forcing so delicate an instrument or upsetting its balance.'" Wilhelm Reich: Life Force Explorer - James Wyckoff

Monday 1 October 2007

"..Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning..." Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday 16 September  2007

"...The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites. Not ordinarily do men achieve this balance of opposites. The idealists are not usually realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic... But life at its best is a creative syntheses of opposites in fruitful harmony... We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart...There is little hope for us until we become tough minded... A nation or a civilisation that continues to produce soft minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an instalment plan..." A Testament of Hope : The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

"...When we started there were perhaps 6 or 8 of us. Today there are thousands. Of  the original number, 3 or 4 remain. I do not know how long I myself will be alive. But that does not matter. We are building a road.  Others will arise to take the road further..." Sathasivam Krishnakumar, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in conversation with Nadesan Satyendra, 1991

Sunday 5 August 2007

1. “I began a revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I would do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action..” - Fidel Castro

2. "Life accepts only partners, not bosses, because self determination is its very root of being." - Margaret Wheatley

Saturday 21 July 2007

“The scientific search for the basic building blocks of life has revealed a startling fact: there are none. The deeper that physicists peer into the nature of reality, the only thing they find is relationships. Even sub-atomic particles do not exist alone. One physicist described neutrons, electrons, etc. as “. . .a set of relationships that reach outward to other things.” Although physicists still name them as separate, these particles aren’t ever visible until they’re in relationship with other particles. Everything in the Universe is composed of these “bundles of potentiality” that only manifest their potential in relationship.

We live in a culture that does not acknowledge this scientific fact. We believe wholeheartedly in the individual and build organizations based on this erroneous idea. We create org charts of separate boxes, with lines connecting the boxes that indicate reporting relationships and alleged channels of communication. But our neatly drawn organizations are as fictitious as building blocks are to physicists. The only form of organization used on this planet is the network—webs of interconnected, interdependent relationships. This is true for human organizations as well. Whatever boxes we stuff staff into, people always reach out to those who will give them information, be their allies, offer support or cheer them up. Those lines and boxes are imaginary. The real organization is always a dense network of relationships.” - Margaret Wheatley contributed by Satyendra Chelvendra  (see also Margaret J. Wheatley - Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World )

Tuesday 9 July 2007

"சாதி மல்லிப் பூச்சரமே சங்கத் தமிழ்ப் பாச்சரமே; 
எனது வீடு எனது வாழ்வு என்று வாழ்வது வாழ்க்கையா;
இருக்கும் நாலு சுவருக்குள்ளே வாழ நீ ஒரு கைதியா;
தேசம் வேறல்ல தாயும் வேறல்லா ஒன்றுதான்;
தாயைக் காப்பதும் நாட்டைக் காப்பதும் ஒன்றுதான்.. "

Pulamaipithan -  புலவர் புலமைப்பித்தன்

Sunday 1 July 2007

"...a communal purpose without which we can neither live nor die in this hostile world can always be called by that ugly word (nationalism). In any case it is a nationalism whose aim is not power but dignity and health. If we did not have to live among intolerant, narrow-minded, and violent people, I should  be the first to throw over all nationalism in favor of universal humanity. The objection that we Jews cannot be proper citizens of the German state, for example, if we want to be a 'nation' is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the state which springs from the intolerance of national majorities. Against that intolerance we shall never be safe, whether we call ourselves a people (or nation) or not..." Albert Einstein, 1929

Monday 18 June 2007

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? The master doesn’t seek fulfilment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and welcome all things...”  - Lao Tzu

“Courage and patience are qualities…one needs very badly when…placed in difficult circumstances….  But above all else, what is most needed in a community which considers itself to be ill-treated at the hands of others, is the virtue of love and charity.. There is hardly any virtue in the ability to do a good turn to those who have done similarly by us. That even criminals do. But it would be some credit if a good turn could be done to an opponent.” - Mahatma Gandhi

contributed by Satyendra Chelvendra

Thursday 16 May 2007

"War is not evil. It is the things which make war necessary that are evil."  Patrick Pearse, 'the First President' of Ireland

"..Where there is no justice, there will be violence. We decry the need to resort to violence. Those responsible for violence are not those who must resort to it as a last resort. The responsibility of violence rests upon those who deny justice. The resort to arms is justified, but only as a last resort, only after an appeal to reason is no longer available. But when a resort to arms becomes necessary, it should be done with pride and not with shame; it should be used with compassion and not with uncontrolled hate; it must be taken up always with a clear understanding that it is justified only for the sake of liberation of our people and not for the purpose of revenge or suppression of another person's right to life and liberty and self-determination " World Council of Indigenous Peoples, 1984 quoted in Jeff Sluka on National Liberation Movements in Global Perspective

Friday 27 April 2007

“Culture is the way people conduct themselves in an organization or in a community and the beliefs they hold and share. Culture is born of a need or cause which galvanises a group because of the intrinsic underpinning values which appeal to them personally. The most powerful way to drive cultural change is through the example of the chief executive.Culture is bought and not sold. People buy into culture when the leader ‘walks the talk'. If there is an alignment between what the leader says and what he or she does, people will embrace that change and it will create a momentum of its own. The trick is to harness that momentum and to manage it so that it becomes an integral message throughout an organization. Culture must be institutionalised so that it becomes part of what you do, every day.."  Satyendra Chelvendra, Management Consultant to Global Financial Institutions, former Managing Director, Personal Banking, ANZ Bank - reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, 10 February 2007

Saturday, 14 April 2007 - Hindu New Years Day

"...It is the fight for national existence which sets culture moving and opens to it the doors of creation. Later on it is the nation which will ensure the conditions and framework necessary to culture. The nation gathers together the various indispensable elements necessary for the creation of a culture, those elements which alone can give it credibility, validity, life and creative power. In the same way it is its national character that will make such a culture open to other cultures and which will enable it to influence and permeate other cultures. A non-existent culture can hardly be expected to have bearing on reality, or to influence reality." Frantz Fanon at the Congress of Black African Writers, 1959

"..மொழியும்கலையும், கலாசாரமும் வளம் பெற்று வளர்ச்சியும் உயர்ச்சியும் அடையும பொழுதே தேசிய இனக் கட்டமைப்பு இறுக்கம் பெறுகின்றது. பலம் பெறுகின்றது. மனித வாழ்வும் சமூக உறவுகளும் மேன்மை பெறுகின்றது. தேசிய நாகரிகம் உன்னதம் பெறுகின்றது.." Velupillai Pirabakaran

"...Nation building ... is not confined to national liberation movements, charismatic leaders and liberators, wars of national independence, and the struggle of national entities to emerge to independence from a position of relative powerlessness and subservience to a dominant power. Nations are as much cultural as political forms, and the creation of a unique high culture of world significance is often central to their legitimation." John Hutchinson, European Institute, London School of Economics and David Aberbach, Department of Jewish Studies, McGill University, Quebec, Canada in Nations & Nationalism, Volume 4, 1999)

Thursday 22 March 2007

"..If living together is so hard....
....what about a separate state... for the Tamils? They have as good a claim to a nation of their own as most members of the United Nations. But as always it is a question of power, and in Sri Lanka the Sinhalese have the power.." The Washington Post, Editorial Page, August 5, 1983

 "...Communal riots in which Tamils are killed, maimed, robbed and rendered homeless are no longer isolated episodes; they are beginning to become a pernicious habit." Paul Sieghart International Commission of Jurists  March1984 [see also 1958, 1961, 1974 and 1977]

Sunday 11 March 2007

The Rules of Trust

Common sense tells us that there are seven cardinal principles of trust we should keep in mind:

Trust is not blind. It is unwise to trust people whom you do not know well, whom you have not observed in action over time, and who are not committed to the same goals. In practice, it is hard to know more than 50 people that well. Those 50 can each, in turn, know another 50, and so on. Large organizations are not therefore incompatible with the principle of trust, but they have to be made up of relatively constant, smaller groupings. The idea that people should move around as much and as fast as possible in order to get more exposure and more experience – what the Japanese call the horizontal fast track – can mean that there is no time to learn to trust anyone and, in the end, no point, because the organization starts to replace trust with systems of control.

My title in one large organization was MKR/32. In that capacity, I wrote memos to FIN/41 or PRO/23. I rarely heard any names, and I never met the people behind those titles. I had no reason to trust them and, frankly, no desire to. I was a "temporary role occupant," in the jargon of the time, a role occupant in an organization of command and control, based on the premise that no one could really be trusted. I left after a year. Such places can be prisons for the human soul.

Trust needs boundaries. Unlimited trust is, in practice, unrealistic. By trust, organizations really mean confidence, a confidence in someone's competence and in his or her commitment to a goal. Define that goal, and the individual or the team can be left to get on with it. Control is then after the event, when the results are assessed. It is not a matter of granting permission before the event Freedom within boundaries works best, however, when the work unit is self-contained, having the capability within it to solve its own problems. Trust-based organizations are, as a result, reengineering their work, pulling back from the old reductionist models of organization, in which everything was divided into its component parts or functions. At first sight, the new holistic designs for the units of the organization look more expensive because they duplicate functions and do not necessarily replicate each other. The energy and effectiveness released by the freedom within boundaries more than compensates, however. To succeed, reengineering must be built on trust. When it fails, it is because trust is absent.

Trust demands learning. An organizational architecture made up of relatively independent and constant groupings, pushes the organization toward the sort of federal structure that is becoming more common everywhere. A necessary condition of constancy, however, is an ability to change: If one set of people cannot be exchanged for another set when circumstances alter, then the first set must adapt or die. The constant groups must always be flexible enough to change when times and customers demand it. They must also keep themselves abreast of change, forever exploring new options and new technologies. They must create a real learning culture. The choice of people for these groups is therefore crucial. Every individual has to be capable of self-renewal. Recruitment and placement be-come key, along with the choice of group leaders. Such topics will require the serious attention of senior management. They should not be delegated to a lower echelon of human resources.

Trust is tough. The reality is, however, that even the best recruiters and the best judges of character will get it wrong sometimes. When trust proves to be misplaced-not because people are deceitful or malicious but because they do not live up to expectations or cannot be relied on to do what is needed – then those people have to go. Where you cannot trust, you have to become a checker once more, with all the systems of control that involves. Therefore, for the sake of the whole, the individual must leave. Trust has to be ruthless. It is incompatible with any promise of a job for life. After all, who can be so sure of their recruitment procedures that they are prepared to trust forever those whom they select? It is because trust is so important but so risky, that organizations tend to restrict their core commitments to a smaller group of what I call trusties. But that policy in turn pushes the organization toward a core/periphery model, one that can, if practitioners are not careful, degenerate into a set of purely formal contractual relationships with all the outsiders. Nothing is simple; there is paradox everywhere.

Trust needs bonding. Self-contained units responsible for delivering specified results are the necessary building blocks of an organization based on trust, but long-lasting groups of trusties can create their own problems, those of organizations within the organization. For the whole to work, the goals of the smaller units have to gel with the goals of the whole. The blossoming of vision and mission statements is one attempt to deal with integration, as are campaigns for total quality or excellence. Such things matter. Or rather, if they did not exist, their absence would matter. They are not, however, enough in themselves. They need to be backed up by exhortation and personal example. Anita Roddick holds her spreading Body Shop together by what can best be called "personal infection," pouring her energies into the reinforcement of her values and beliefs through every medium she can find. It is always a dangerous strategy to personalize a mission, in case the person stumbles or falls, as the Body Shop nearly did last year after unfavorable publicity, but organizations based on trust need that sort of personal statement from their leaders.

Trust is not and never can be an impersonal commodity. Trust needs touch. Visionary leaders, no matter how articulate, are not enough. A shared commitment still requires personal contact to make it real. To augment John Naisbitt's telling phrase, high tech has to be balanced by high touch to build high-trust organizations. Paradoxically, the more virtual an organization becomes, the more its people need to meet in person. The meetings, however, are different. They are more about process than task, more concerned that people get to know each other than that they de- liver. Videoconferences are more task focused, but they are easier and more productive if the individuals know each other as people, not just as images on the screen. Work and play, therefore, alternate in many of the Corporate get-togethers that now fill the conference resorts out of season. These are not perks for the privileged; they are the necessary lubricants of virtuality, occasions not only for getting to know each other and for meeting the leaders but also for reinforcing Corporate goals and rethinking Corporate strategies. As one who delivers the occasional "cabaret" at such occasions, I am always surprised to find how few of the participants have met each other in person, even if they have worked together before. I am then further surprised by how quickly a common mood develops. You can almost watch the culture grow, and you wonder how they could have worked effectively without it.

Trust requires leaders. At their best, the units in good trust-based organizations hardly have to be managed, but they do need a multiplicity of leaders. I once teased an English audience by comparing a team of Englishmen to a rowing crew on the river – eight men going backward as fast as they can without talking to each other, steered by the one person who can't row! I thought it quite witty at the time, but I was corrected after the session by one of the participants, who had once been an Olympic oarsman. "How do you think we could go backward so: fast without communicating, steered by this little fellow in the stern, if we didn’t know each other very well, didn’t have total confidence to do our jobs and a shared commitment – almost a passion – for the same goal! It is the perfect formula for a team."

I had to admit it – he was right. "But tell me," I said to him, "who is the manager of this team!" "There isn’t one," he replied, after thinking about it. "Unless that is what you call our part-time administrator back in the office." Manager, he was reminding me, is a low-status title in organizations of colleagues.

"Well, then, who is the leader ?  "That depends," he said. "When we are racing, it is the little chap who is steering, because he is the only one who can see where we are going. But there is also the stroke, who sets the standard for all of us. He is a leader, too, in a way. But off the river, it's the captain of the crew, who selects us, bonds us together, builds our commitment to our goal and our dedication. Lastly, in training, there is our coach, who is undoubtedly the main influence on our work. So you see," he concluded, "there isn't a simple answer to your question." A rowing crew, I realized, has to be based on trust if it is to have any chance of success. And if any member of that crew does not pull his weight, then he does not deserve the confidence of the others and must be asked to leave. Nor can all the leadership requirements be discharged by one person, no matter how great or how good.  - Charles Handy author of  The Elephant and the Flea in  How do you manage people who you do not see

Monday 29 January 2007

" ...The irony is that to do things faster, you often have to go slower. You have to be more reflective. You have to develop real trust. You have to develop the abilities of people to think together. Why? Because it requires you to go through basic redesigns. You need to build a shared understanding of how the present system works.... People must trust one another through difficult systemic changes...

...First off, we often don't take any responsibility for what we have created, which is obviously patently absurd at some level. Organizations work the way they work because human beings create them that way! It isn't the laws of physics. And then people's baseline reality, what they often report, is that "the system is doing it to me. Our reward systems are killing us. Our strategy is no good." It's always something external to me, some thing which is now imposing itself on me. So you might very well say, "Thought creates organizations, and then organizations hold human beings prisoner," or as David Bohm used to say, "Thought creates the world and then says 'I didn't do it.'"

One very simple way to think about everything we are doing is to just take that simple aphorism of Bohm's and say, "Thought creates the world"; and then what if it says, "I did it"? That would be the reintegration of mind and matter. That would be like saying, "Oh! Our organizational systems are ridiculous. How did we create these?" To me, the essence of what systems thinking is all about is people beginning to consciously discover and conceptually explain and account for how their own patterns of thought and interaction, often very habitual and unaware patterns, patterns that we haven't ever reflected on, manifest on a large scale, and create the very forces which the organization then 'is doing it to me.'

And then they complete that feedback loop, and the most profound experiences I've ever had in consulting have always been when people suddenly go, "Holy cow! Look what we are doing to ourselves!" And I have literally heard people say things like that. Look what we are doing to ourselves. Given the way we operate, no wonder we can't win! And what is always significant to me, in those moments, is the we. Not "you," not "them," but we." Peter Senge author of the Fifth Discipline

Thursday 25 January 2007

"...The guerrilla force is independent of the civilian population, in action as well as in military organisation; consequently it need not assume the direct defence of the peasant population. The protection of the population depends on the progressive destruction of the enemy's military potential. It is relative to the overall balance of forces: the populace will be completely safe when the opposing forces are completely defeated....... By restricting itself to the task of protecting civilians or passive self-defence, the guerrilla unit ceases to be the vanguard of the people as a whole and deprives itself of a national perspective... By choosing to operate at this level, it may be able to provide protection for the population for a limited time. But in the long run the opposite is true: self-defence undermines the security of the civilian population.... limiting oneself to passive defence is to place oneself in the position of being unable to protect the population and to expose one's own forces to attrition. On the other hand, to seek for ways to attack the enemy is to put him on the permanent defensive to exhaust him and prevent him from expanding his activities, to wrest the initiative from him, and to impede his search operations..." Regis Debray in Revolution in the Revolution?

Sunday 22 January 2007

"God gives us opportunities to be of service to humanity, to our country, to ourselves. You must be ready and equipped to make use of those opportunities ...More than 2500 years ago a great Tamil poet wrote "Every country is my country, every human being is my kinsman". The brotherhood of man and universal love are themes central to practically all religions of the world. From this followed human rights such as the right to life, right to freedom of thought and speech and right to equality between man and man........ According to the Upanishads life is work and work is worship. So in the evening of my life I have fought many a battle as a member of the Civil Rights Movement...  I have won a few and lost many. I console myself with the thought that what matters is the fight for the cause and not the results. What is important is the fight and struggle for justice and not the victory nor the defeat.The saying in Bhagavad Gita 'To action you have a right but not to the fruits thereof' has been a source of great comfort to me in my life as it has enabled me to cultivate a sense of detachment which is necessary for happiness and peace of mind." - from Somasunderam Nadesan at the Peter Pillai Award Presentation, 1984

Saturday 13 January 2007

"...A key psychology for leading from good to great is the Stockdale Paradox. Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be... Create a culture wherein people have a tremendous opportunity to be heard and, ultimately, for the truth to be heard. Creating a climate where truth is heard involves four basic practices: 1 Lead with questions, not answers. 2 Engage in dialogue, not coercion. 3. Conduct autopsies without blame. and 4. Build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored. Leadership does not begin just with vision. It begins with getting people to confront the brutal facts and to act on the implications...Spending time and energy trying to 'motivate' people is a waste of effort. The real question is not 'How do we motivate our people?" If you have the right people, they will be self motivated. The key is not to de-motivate them. One of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality.." Jim Collins in Good to Great

Tuesday 9 January 2007

"For a moral order to be sustained it has to take on a form which compels us, which we can feel and which can be acted upon. The process of re-enactment reinforces meaning. That is why religion is full of ritualised enactments of ceremony.... Historical continuity is a profound psychological need. We also need to believe in a good past that endorses our present. We all like to think well of our forbears. It is apart of a healthy self image. As a result we need to give great credence to the past. This may sound anachronistic in an age where change is meteoric and the past tends to be dismissed as arcane. But psychological continuity is the foundation stone of our sense of order.. Our traditions make us secure.." Mark C. Scott in Reinspiring the Corporation: The Seven Seminal Paths to Corporate Greatness, 2001

Monday, 1 January 2007

"We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - British Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston (1784-1865)

"War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means" - Karl Von Clausewtiz (1780 - 1831)

"...We must never forget, that under modern conditions of life, science and technology, all war has become greatly brutalized and that no one who joins in it, even in self-defense, can escape becoming also in a measure brutalized. Modern war cannot be limited in its destructive method and the inevitable debasement of all participants... we as well as our enemies have contributed to the proof that the central moral problem is war and not its methods..."Harry L. Stimson, US Secretary of State 1929-1933, 'The Nuremberg Trial: Landmark in Law', Foreign Affairs, 1947  - quoted by Albert Speer in Inside the Third Reich 1970

"Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."- Pericles, 430 BC

Continued - Reflections 2006......

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