An open letter to Mr. Ratan Tata.

Respected Sir,

You are one of the very few businessmen that I (and I understand, the majority of the Indian youth) idolize. Your honesty and integrity are admirable.

However, there are a few things to be brought to light with respect to TCS- the largest IT service company in India both by revenue and market capitalization. The company has almost become like a government office with all its red-tape, apathetic attitude of the employees, treatment of subordinates as bonded laborers and the abuse of power by people holding the high posts (Senior managers, Senior consultants, Resource Management Group etc).

I would now like to come straight to the point and highlight some instances of such unprofessional-ism that I have witnessed (and as a result, suffered because of) in my 2 years as a TCS-er.

1. Frequent transfers: In the past 1 year, I have been transferred 4 times and the notice period has been, in one case, of just 1 day. Also, no temporary accommodation was provided for the initial period. Sir, tell me how is a person expected to pack within a day, book a ticket (considering the current state of the Indian railways where it is a Herculean task to get a ticket either a couple of days after the window is open or in Tatkal and the sky-high prices of the airlines), find accommodation within a day in a completely strange city and report to office the next day? Also, the reimbursement is far lower than the costs incurred by the person and takes an eternity to be cleared by the authorized personnel whereas the accepted standard is less than a fortnight. 

Also, when I reported to city B after being transferred from city A, I was told that there was an error and I need to report immediately to city C (which was 200 km from city B). Is such inefficacy and carelessness a characteristic of such a reputed company?

2. Red-tape: As I have already mentioned, it takes the reimbursement process more than 4 months to complete against the set standard of around 15 days. 

I would also like to cite an incidence where I had to, after being ill-treated by my manager, raised a grievance against him. The process is still stuck in the workflow after more than 3 months, the reason being that the HR who was supposed to authorize has lower authority than the person against whom the grievance has been raised. So, I ask you Sir, is it how things are supposed to be? You see something wrong is happening and do not take any action because you are scared of the repercussions, scared of losing your job? Then what difference, if any, is there between such a great company and the government officials who don’t do their duty because they are scared of the Goonda-raj in their area?

3. Over-recruitment and cutting down on the compensation of employees: Recently, the compensation of all the people “on-bench” were slashed citing recession as the reason. The people are on bench not because they want to be, but because they are forced to due to excessive and mindless recruitment by TCS (TCS recruited over 60,000 people in the financial year 2011-12). So, instead of having so many people un-utilized, why doesn’t the company focus on recruiting less? Also the salary changes every month and the employees are not told the exact reason behind it.

4. No travel arrangements made for female employees working late night: Recently, I have had to travel from city X to City Y (separated by 30 km) for official reasons. Each time, I left after 10 pm. Still, no arrangements were made to drop me home safely. I have also faced such instances in the past and I had to suffer eve-teasing on my way back home. So, who would take responsibility for my safety? Doesn’t the Indian law specify that female employees working between 8pm and 7am be provided a company pick-up and drop?

5. Abuse of power: Many a times, when I complained about the same things as mentioned in the blog post, the only answer I got was, “TCS mein aisa hi hota hai. Ya to chup raho ya company chhod do” (“This is how things work at TCS. So, either keep quiet or else quit the company”). Tell me, is it really how things work in your company?

People are threatened with being thrown out of the company or sent to a remote location if they raise their voice against any such unethical practices being followed within the organization.

Also, another manager of mine once told me to “please” the client, whatever it takes. His exact words were, “Bahar le jao usse, so jao uske saath, jo bhi karna hai karo, but client ko khush rakho” (“Take the client out, sleep with him, do whatever it takes, but make sure that the client is pleased”). At that point of time, I was fairly new to the company. And as is the current norm, new recruits are not told about the company policy and are kept in dark about their rights.

6. Maternity leave issues: One of my friends who was pregnant was not given leave until 4 weeks before the expected delivery date  and also asked to report within less than 2 weeks after the delivery whereas Clause 4 of the MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT, 1961 clearly mentions the following points:

“Employment of, or work by, women prohibited during certain period. —

(1) No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage.

(2) No woman shall work in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery of her miscarriage.

(3) Without prejudice to the provisions of section 6, no pregnant woman shall, on a request being made by her in this behalf, be required by her employer to do during the period specified in sub-section (4) any work which is of an arduous nature or which involves long hours of standing or which in any way is likely to interfere with her 

pregnancy or the normal development of the foetus, or is likely to cause her miscarriage or otherwise to adversely affect her health.

(4) The period referred to in sub-section (3) shall be –
(a) at the period of one month immediately preceding the period of six weeks, before the date of her expected delivery;
(b) any period during the said period of six weeks for which the pregnant woman does not avail of leave of absence under section 6.”

7. Inefficiencies: There are many instances wherein people are transferred haphazardly from one place to another when some people are being moved in the exact opposite direction. The number of transfers can be reduced if proper planning is done.

Also, people from technical background are made to do non-technical work and vice-versa. This adds considerably to the direct and indirect training costs for the company.

And Sir, there are many other instances that go unnoticed/are suppressed by the higher officials, because most of the time, they are the ones breaking the rule/abusing their position of authority.

I would implore you to look into such matters because this is not a stand-alone case. Most of the female employees face such problems on a daily basis. And if unchecked, they will surely tarnish the reputation of the company in the long-run.

Yours Sincerely,

A disgruntled TCS-er.

(Disclaimer: This is a guest post on behalf of a female friend of mine who happens to be a TCS employee for the past 2 years and has personally experienced most of the incidents mentioned above)

Why I hate Modi? And Indian politicians in general.

In the beginning, it might seem like the occasional ramblings of a frustrated 1st year MBA student, but the gravity of the situation cannot be neglected. While Modi may claim that Gujarat is “progressing” and have his bunch of ministers upload documents on the web to substantiate his claims[1], truth be told, Gujarat is one of the only two(the other one being Mizoram) dry states in India. How are regional prohibitions on alcohol in sync with the concept of democracy, my feeble mind fails to grasp!

And that is not the worst part. The prohibitions seemingly apply only to Indians. Foreign tourists are exempted from this rule/law/ban. I have seen foreigners walk openly with a carton of beer in both hands. While the Modi fan-boys claim that is is just a gimmick to attract tourists[2], a differential law, nevertheless, defeats the whole concept of equality- one of the pillars on which a democratic nation stands. This discrimination also points to a more serious issue- “Modism” is still reeling under the inferior Indian mentality of the pre-independence era. Giving foreigners more rights than the natives should be a matter of shame for the man whom many nimble-heads hail as the future PM of India. No Sir! I will not vote for Modi. Whilst I might have some ulterior personal motives(and fears) for my decision, there is also the general apprehension of what Modi and his ultra-conservative policies will do to the largest democracy of the world.

But then, what are my options? Rahul Gandhi? I would be damned if I do after seeing the following stats:

(1) Amethi has 39.5% literacy level (national average being around 65%),
(2) Around 50% population is below poverty line.
(3) Only 15% population has access to electricity.
(4) Vaccination level is below 16%.
(5) Around 16% of children die below age of 5 years
(6) Amethi received Rs.3.06 crore as developmental fund from Govt. of India in 2009-10 of which Rahul Gandhi used merely 5.89% (0.18 crore). Where did the rest 94% go? Surely, Rahul-ass-Gandhi’s pocket must know.
Now let us see his record as a champion youth icon Member of Parliament:
(1) The national MP attendance average in the parliament is 77%. Rahul Gandhi’s attendance is 47%.
(2) National average for questions asked by MPs in parliament is 119. Rahul Gandhi asked ZERO questions.
(3) The national average for Debates attended by MPs is 15.6. Rahul Gandhi attended ZERO debates.

The following image shows how big a hypocrite that son of a bitch is:

Second option: Mayawati.

The money-gobbling, calling-everyone-mad, erecting-elephant-statues, making-own-birthday-a-media-event, sending-private-jet-to-Mumbai-to-fetch-sandals, illiterate bitch? Not even if all hell breaks loose or freezes over (whichever be the permitted case according to the laws of Thermodynamics).

The bitch transfers/gets arrested/sends to asylum anyone who raises a voice against her, accepts money worth crores as “gifts” from the sycophants surrounding her, doesn’t give two hoots about the general public, squanders billions of worth of public money on erecting statues of herself and her party symbol (the elephant. How I wish one of those would trample her!), declares her birthday as Jan Kalyankari Diwas (People’s Welfare Day)[3] whilst sucking the very life out of the helpless.

But this, sadly is the current Indian “poly-tick-al” situation.

Disclaimer: All the views expressed in the post are strictly mine and in sync with that of any sane person’s. Apologies for the slightly offensive language employed intermittently. Trust me, this is as decent as I could get.

We part only to meet again.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat, But always keep that hunger.
I hope you still feel small when you stand by the ocean,
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens.
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance ,
I hope you dance.

As I feebly attempt to pack up my stuff and prepare myself mentally to face the scary reality that this time I will pack never to unpack again within the boundaries of BITS Goa,  I wonder “WHERE THE HELL DID THE 4 YEARS GO?”

I still clearly remember getting an admission offer from BITS. Feeling way too excited on the prospect of spending the next 4 years in Goa. The 36-hour long train journey through the breathtaking Konkan rail route. Arriving at Vasco and feeling the ever slight Portuguese touch in everything. Taking a cab next morning to the campus. Entering the gate and staring at the astounding beauty everywhere. Moving to my hostel room and unpacking my bags. Trying to make small talk with the guy opposite to me in the evening and ending up listening to him crib about the fact that he didn’t get into IITK which was located in his hometown. Going to the common room and being welcomed by a booming voice of a barely 40-kg guy trying fruitlessly to teach everyone some stupid card game and then thinking to myself, “If this featherweight banshee keeps screaming his lungs out, we might need an ambulance pretty soon”.

The first lecture in LT1 packed with 300-odd faces and a lady teacher trying to explain to a over-excited lad that she indeed was “Mr.” Bheeraj Dehl (name changed to ensure anonymity :P). The handful of future 10p’s firing away their doubts at the lecturer much to the agony of the rest *sane* people. Going to Monginis in the evening amongst the constant fear of getting ragged. Actually getting ragged. And then the incident involving He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Sometimes I think it was all because our Freshers’ Party was named “Scream”).

Late night horror movies at the “Giant Sardar’s” room. First T1. First disappointment at getting below average marks (Who would have known, at that time, that it will slowly and eventually become a habit?). First CGPA card, the resolve to study harder next sem and then watching it fade away whilst bunking classes, watching movies and playing CS. Getting into fights with people – seniors, batch-mates and juniors alike.

And then some really unexpected events- India winning the T20 CWC, the 7th April Maggi Revolution, sacking of the “Bitsian Hitler” and the true rise of college democracy, the unfortunate Jaundice outbreak and finally India being crowned cricket champions. (2007 batch: Veni Vidi Vici )

Things I will miss: Beer, Bogmalo, CS, classes that I never attended, DC++, bike trips, the shocked expression on the professors’ faces on seeing me in the exam hall (“Is this guy really in my course?”) and a handful of really special people (in strictly alphabetical order) – Ajay, Ajju, Anshu, Atul, Deepika, Kinshuk, Lakhmeet, Mohit, Puru, Rituj, Shraddha, Varun.

Signing off,

As we go on, we remember,
All the times we had together.
And as our lives change, from whatever,
We will still be, friends forever.

My Saving Grace

“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” -Erica Jong

It’s been 4 years as I sit down to write this article. 4 years since the best “April Fools’ Day ” of my life. 4 years since my metamorphosis. In retrospect, it seems a long time. However, it flew by so fast, it felt like sand slipping out of my hands – uncontrollable and inevitable.

If I had one superpower, it would definitely be the ability to turn back time and cherish those precious moments that made such beautiful memories. Memories so lucid and so detailed, it feels as if they have literally been etched on the back of my head. That first glance, when I instantly knew I would never be the same again. The first hug, when I could swear I heard a voice from within my soul, asking me to never let go. The first kiss, when I could feel my left cheek turning red. The first train journey from Goa to Mumbai, just to meet one particular person. And then the good-byes. The hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling that somehow I was leaving behind a part of myself. The feeling, like a monster rising from the depths of my soul and gnawing at my insides. And the desperate plea for time to stand still and for that moment to linger forever leaving me where I truly belong.

may not be am not perfect. Honestly, I come packed with more nuances and idiosyncrasies than is the norm. No, I can’t sing you a romantic melody. No, I don’t play the guitar either. Neither can I write you poems, nor can I compose and record a song for you. I would have loved to do any of the above things, but I CAN’T. Also, I admit I have a weird timetable. Half the time we can’t talk because one of us is sleeping. Yes, I’m not much of a talker even though I know you love talking so much. But one reason for that is that I love hearing your voice, I love listening to you go about anything and everything under the sun and I love hearing you narrate a funny incident and then bursting out into one of your child-like chuckles even before you are finished.

And my biggest regret is that I haven’t yet taken you out on a real date – Me, a tux, you, a cute black dress, a Limo, one really long sunset drive, an ocean-view restaurant, a table for two, wine, champagne, violins, a bouquet of the reddest roses, a box of the darkest chocolates, a diamond ring, the perfect proposal, one smiling lady, one acceptance kiss and then the two of us, just the two of us and the whole night to look forward to. (YES, I do have it all planned in my head. But you will have to wait for it :-))

And I want to Thank You for all you’ve done and all you’ve been to me. So here it goes: “To my lady love, “Thank You”. Thank you for putting up with all my eccentricities and my mood swings and my temper. Thank you for always being there. Thank you for making me feel complete. Thank you for giving me a reason to smile everyday when I get up. Thank you for giving me a reason to smile every moment of the day. Thank you for making my life more meaningful. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to. Thank you for everything.”

This song is dedicated to you: (Slow Dancing in a Burning Room: John Mayer)

“It’s not a silly little moment,
It’s not the storm before the calm.
This is the deep and dying breath of,
This love that we’ve been working on.”

(P.S. You know I’m such a fool for you. You got me wrapped around your finger.)


9 Must Have Chrome Extensions/Add-Ons

Here’s my first post on WordPress. It’s a note I posted a while back on my FB profile.

Starting with the assumption that everyone knows what Google Chrome is, I will just state a couple of things-

It’s twice as fast as its nearest competitor i.e Opera(rest don’t even come close) and provably the most secure browser in the world. (It was the only one that wasn’t hacked at Pwn2own while the rest were, within minutes of the start)

http://www.thechromesource.com/chrome-the-only-major-browser-not-hacked-at-pwn2own/

Also, owing to the incredible development support[Chrome is a part of a bigger Open-Source project called Chromium], Chrome has thousands of really cool extensions. Below I list some useful ones.

1.Panic Button:- Personally, one of my favorites. Imagine you are browsing some sites and a friend/colleague/gf/bf suddenly crops up from behind and you don’t want them to see what you were seeing(could be anything depending on how pervert you are). What do you do? Just click on the super-cool “Panic Button”. It hides all your tabs and replaces them with the New Tab page. Clicking the button again restores all the pages.

2.WOT:-Web Of Trust is a community based tool that lets users/visitors rate sites based upon how trustworthy it is. Green means safe, Red means you are at your own risk and Yellow indicates a mixed response.

3.Stumble Upon Toolbar:-Bored? Already been through all your bookmarked sites? Try Stumble Upon- it does what it says. With a large varieties of topics ranging from politics to college humor and over a billion sites to visit, all you need to do when you are shit bored is click on a button. StumbleUpon has also launched many other services like StumbleThru, StumbleVideo etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StumbleUpon

4.AdBlock and AdThwart:- Block most of those irritating ads that crop up on every site. Prevents browsing from becoming a nuisance. Tagline-Kiss ads goodbye and browse in peace.

5.Turn Off the Lights:- One extension with a really cool name. Makes watching videos online a pleasing experience. The entire browser except the video pane fades to black when you click on it.

6.Facebook for Chrome:- Lets you check the news feed, your profile and messages and also displays the number of notifications you have. Good for a quick glance of your account. Similar extensions include “Gmail checker Plus”, “Orkut Chrome” and “ChromedBird” for GMail, Orkut and Twitter respectively

7.XMarks Bookmark and Password Sync:- Syncs your bookmarks and passwords across different browsers and workstations.

8.Snow:– Just a fun app. Does nothing useful except making it look like it’s snowing on your webpage. But is a visual treat. 🙂

9.Favorite Doodle:- Lets you choose your favorite doodle from the Google Doodle gallery containing all the doodles made till date. Next time you visithttp://www.google.com/, hola, there’s your favorite doodle sitting on it.

Also, there are tons of other extensions I haven’t tried yet including Mini-versions of many sites like Wiki, Flixster, Cricinfo, Financial Times etc., just for fun apps including Scrabble, Tic Tac Toe, Mini Golf and so on.

Here’s the link for the latest stable release of Chrome.  http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/landing_chrome.html?hl=en

So go, start “Chroming”.