2009 is going to be a watershed year for most people. World is at an inflection point - a recession shaking up the tree and most of us have to pick ourselves up fresh from the ground. Admittedly, this is not apocalypse yet and there are plenty of things, which are going as good as ever. Education is one of them, indeed. This is the best time to go back to school for most people and learn a new skill or get a new degree. Paradoxically, the business I run is looking better than ever, as English Language offers many people, stuck in the threshold of employability, a sure way to move forward.
However, this is not coming without pain. Suddenly, the business model we envisioned only a year back looks inadequate. We, somehow, ended up building a business around corporate training, which was like going to seashore to watch a tsunami. I spent some time talking to industry professionals yesterday and understood that Indian corporate training business has fallen by as much as 40% in the last six months. Sadly, the downturn hit us in October, which is the worst month for corporate training business anyway, and so far, the bad news have not stopped coming. I think almost everyone in the sector is looking at March, the traditional big month for corporate training, and the results end of March will tell everyone whether the assumption of 40% contraction is also optimistic.
But one good thing for us - despite the pain associated with changing course - was that we are not a corporate training company. The positioning was artificial anyway, a sort of a safety net our managers built in the interim. Taking out that cover is now exposing us to what we needed to do in the first place - sell franchises and get going with retail training - and things have started falling in place on that count.
However, a certain fatigue is setting in me. Fatigue due to travel, indeed - I may want to stop these long haul travels some time soon. The 3 to 4 week travel commitments are unsettling, and since I have done too many of those since August, my life is currently in a complete disarray. But I did not want to stop till the business turns a corner, and I estimate we are almost there. So, I am almost looking forward to a quieter April, though I already know that March is going to be as bad as February, and I shall start rebuilding life from that point on.
Rebuilding life as in doing something else. I do think that by April/May, this business will have a life of its own. A different sort of life than initially envisioned, but I do think that will be more in sync with the aspirations and the capabilities of its shareholders than the current model. That will be a point when I can step back with the satisfaction of a job accomplished. And, I am sure I must step back, because the format we have now will contribute little to my own learning and satisfaction. I shall need an opportunity which provides me learning and variety to keep me going, as always.
One of the ideas I have is going back to the University for a year. As everyone does - there were no better time than this. However, I do consider myself a bit too old for that. Not too old to learn - one never gets too old to learn - but to spend a full year away from work, which implies a lifestyle change of significant proportion. This is one task at hand for me - I need a break and think it through - whether I can actually handle the transition.
The other idea, of course, is to embark on a second migration. I would love to go and live in another country for a while. Even if I keep Britain as my base, I am keen on expanding my horizon. Living in Asia is something I would consider, though North America seems equally attractive. I am also keen to come back to India at a not too distant future, and this constitutes a third option. I am more or less certain that if I don't do the university, I shall surely attempt a location change. This will happen as early as this summer.
I have also realized that I do not project myself well. I have done many things in life and learnt, mostly with private effort, a number of things. However, I failed to collect evidence and get this visible on CV. That remains a potential roadblock for moving forward. This is something I wish to work upon very soon, not just the CV but think through what I want to do, and which skills align best to that objective. I am actually going away from Kolkata for next couple of days into the interiors of West Bengal, and I am hopeful that whatever else I do, this will allow me time to reflect and study a bit.
So, a sort of midlife crisis on my plate at this time. However, I have one thing working for me. I am not afraid of change. In fact, I always loved change and the variety it brings. I am actually feeling free - feeling sort of lightness - and I am approaching all this with happiness in my mind. Somehow, I feel confident that my life post this point is going to be better than what it has been so far. The only thing I have to fear is fear itself [courtesy FDR] and I am not going to repeat that mistake once more in my life.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
A week into lockdown and things are beginning to change. Mornings are late, afternoons are lazier and evenings never end; meditations are filling out the time for Yoga routines and Netflix profiles are strewn with half-finished movies. This state-mandated, state-funded period of idleness is being likened to being called up to serve, but is nothing like that: Such a comparison is really an affront to the idea of service. Instead, this is just one long streak of panic; of the centre not holding and life not going on as usual. With the usual patterns and rules in suspended animation and business talk - and business - being rendered meaningless, space is opening up for unusual questions: Is Capitalism about to end? Is this the death of globalisation? Does it get uglier from here? My grandfather's generation would have scoffed at us. They saw through wars and pandemics. But, in fairness, we haven't had a life-ending crisis of our own. Notwithstanding the experiences of th
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.