Clarity begins at home: Trust internal communication to create alignment

March 12th, 2014

( First appeared in IIM Ahmedabad Alumni Journal, Feb, 2014)

As a practitioner who has handled 360 degree communication covering all stakeholders, I have often noticed a tendency to assign attention in proportion to outlay. Consequently, internal communication, with its relatively modest budgets, does not get its due from some constituents of the managements. If only, the outcome, and not the outlay, were to be reckoned, businesses would benefit through internal communication, which creates employee alignment, without which there is no sustainable brand or customer satisfaction.

Through this article, I hope more business organisations step up internal communication, with the prior knowledge of likely challenges, pitfalls and essential facilitating attitude. This attempt has been prompted by the diffidence and scepticism that exists at various levels in a large number of organisations.

I hope to inspire Corporate Communicators to participate in change management and co-create history, rather than being just chroniclers of history.

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So, what is your CSR?

March 3rd, 2014

(First appeared in the Hindu Business Line of 3rd March)

India’s new Company Act 2013 and the accompanying rules that have finally been announced will impact the points of intersection between India’s for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. The threshold of Rs 5 Crore# annual profit and the minimum 2% of net profits prescribed will force a flood of fresh entrants and funds into the field. This is even after allowing for some of the old wine of on going welfare /civic /environmental schemes in the newly labelled bottles.
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The empowerment chain reaction

February 21st, 2014

(First appeared in Grassroots February 2014)


An army of ‘12th pass’ village girls is triggering a societal transformation, and enjoying it, too.

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Why I admire Vikki : A belated tribute to the PR agency executive

January 7th, 2014

( First appeared in Vidura Oct-Dec 2013)

Let me call him Vikki. The youngest son of a retired Delhi babu, Vikramaditya realises in his 3rd year BE, that Engineering is not his cup of tea and, calling himself Vikki, enters the exciting world of PR. Vikki is typical – and possibly the mean – of the PR executive population. ‘Vikki’ is apt because when stuck, people turn to him and he is supposed to know everything. ‘Vikki’ is apt, also because he is easily editable even without a murmur.

Having worked with a large number of PR agency executives in the last three decades and having seen many more in action and inaction, not to forget what numerous Corporate Communicators across cities have shared, I believe that Vikki and his colleagues have not received their due credit. Hence this tribute to Vikki, though admittedly, not without the inevitable errors of generalisation.

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The punctual pay

December 15th, 2013

Yet another irony in life: it is the punctual who pay for it. And the currency of payment? Time, which they value – the reason they try to be punctual…

The elusive palm leaf and an honourable draw

November 28th, 2013

(First appeared in the Hindu Business Line, November 28th, 2013)

There are at least three people assessing me as I enter a large veranda and take my seat, facing one of them, for my first encounter with Nadi Jyotisham (astrology based on palm leaf). I have my camera with me and I am wearing a floppy hat.

“The camera must be costly”, says a voice from behind me. I escape economic profiling by saying, “Yes, new cameras cost a lot, but second hand ones are cheaper”. “You get them cheap in Malaysia and Singapore”, the voice from behind is exploring my travel range. I play it vague with a half nod. The youth sitting in front of me hands over a printed ‘menu’ and explains to me that the opening gambit will cost me Rs 150, something like a minimum entry fee; each of the 15 additional areas of insight (wealth, love, et al) will cost me Rs 150. I confess to him that my budget for the evening is just Rs 150.

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The Dilemma of Reluctant Retirees

November 18th, 2013

(A shorter version appeared in The New Indian Express, November 16, 2013)

Arguably the greatest hoopster of all times, Michael Jordan retired twice, each time after taking his team to triple NBA championships. On his second rebound, he was a pale shadow of his gravity-defying old self. Soon after celebrating his seventh Formula 1 title, Michael Schumacher quit in style but on his comeback career he was mostly an ‘also ran’.
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Rome : A city-sized tableau of history, up-close

October 18th, 2013

(First appeared in Air India Shubh Yatra, October 2013)

Rome is no beach resort to be experienced sensually with the skin, mind locked up. Rome is intellectually engaging as a city-sized tableau the interplay of politics, religion and art has created. So the monuments exist, some in ruins, as they were in the unaltered, timeless settings of River Tiber and the ‘ear bud’ foliage of Cyprus trees. Rome, like most other historic Italian cities, has resisted the modern temptation to grow vertically. Yet, unlike the city states of Venice and Florence, a Roman holiday is a challenge of distances. After all, it was caput mundi (capital of the world). Rome overwhelms you with its magnificence, and the mega scale on the three physical dimensions – plus the sense of the eternal, on the fourth dimension. Wrapped in a time warp are monuments, distanced by centuries, coexisting contiguously. This delightful puzzle has to be unravelled by joining the dots with the logic of chronology. Then one can decipher the entangled ribbon of human history spanning over 25 centuries.

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Of a hate-love relationship

October 16th, 2013

(First appeared in the New Indian Express, October 16, 2013)

In an otherwise happy school life in rural Kerala in the 1960’s, my gravest dread was not snakes or ghosts, but Hindi. Text books presented it as rows of clotheslines, on which hung squiggly shapes. Staring at them, the pages would turn dismal black, pockmarked by bright yellow-rimmed white circles – the exact colours of stage fright. I came to recognise in Hindi the only real threat to my passing my exams. I was relieved to bid adieu to my nemesis by scoring 50% in my School finals.

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Andaman Islands: Naturopathy for tired lives

July 10th, 2013

( First appeared in SpiceRoute, July, 2013)

When you touch down at Port Blair’s Veer Savarkar airport, you are in Indian territory that is farthest from the mainland. Geographically closer to half a dozen countries, the strategic importance of Andaman and Nicobar is evident in the special care and attention this Union Territory receives. Result: subsidised, tension-free life in a crime-free region (fire arms are banned) that approximates a welfare state. There are no beggars. And the auto rickshaws do not loot. People are tourist-friendly and multilingual and one can get by with a mixture of English, Hindi, Bengali and Tamil.
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