Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Deadline means a deadline !!!!

It was 11:55 in the night and Rakesh was still at his desk, working. He has to complete the task, which was assigned to him that evening only, at any cost, because he remembers his boss' words " Rakesh, in this company, deadline means a deadline". He thought, what else deadline means if not a deadline !!!
He went to pantry, to get some black coffee. which, he thinks, takes the tiredness away from his body. He was thinking of something when his mobile started vibrating . It was his fiancée.
" Ohh Shit... , how can I forget to call her ??", he cursed himself for not calling her the entire day. They were getting married in next 10 days and it was their golden period, as some people say.
"You had promised me to call at 9:30, I was waiting for your call "
"Yes I know..., but I forgot, I have to complete some work and have to deliver it today itself." Rakesh told her apologetically.
"That's fine, I can understand. so how was your day today ?? Wait a minute, are you still in office ? " she asked shockingly because it was almost 12:15 in the morning and Rakesh had promised her, yesterday, that he will get himself some clothes and other accessories for their wedding and there were only few days left.
"Yes I am in office. I am coming home next week no... , so I have to finish off my work before I leave" Rakesh lied to her fiancée. But the fact was; He was working late because of his amazingly untalented team lead who commits anything and everything in the team meeting, she has with other teams, without knowing the actual efforts required to complete the task. And not only that the second and the best part of her untalentedness is that she never informs, particularly to Rakesh, what she has committed in the meeting, ignoring the fact that, at the end of the day , Rakesh is the person who has to do the job. And today Rakesh was working late just because of one such commitment she made in last week's weekly meeting and got time to inform Rakesh this evening.
"When will you buy your clothes and other stuff ? Its just 10 days to our wedding and you are still in Delhi and you don't have much time left, its just one week !!!. How will you manage ??!! "
"I will manage, don't worry .... so what I was thinking was, when I come to Ahmadabad we will together select the suit for our reception and will do other shopping as well, that way you can have a suit of your choice !!! in fact Ahmadabad offers more choices than Delhi and, you know, I am not very fond of shopping, I always think it is useless to spend so much money for just one day." The last sentence he did not mean to say but, he thought, caffeine was showing its effect.
"I know you are lying, and I know you are not getting enough time for shopping and that's why you are talking about shopping together, but that's not a bad idea at all. Shopping together, wow , it will be fun"
"So its decided now, I won't buy anything from here, we will shop together in Ahmadabad" Rakesh confirmed and felt relieved.
They talked about ten-fifteen minutes more and then Rakesh returned to his desk. The script he had run, before going to pantry, was still running. He was not sure whatever he has implemented, based on the inputs from his team lead, will work or not. Till date non of her solutions or suggestions had ever worked. and today evening when Rakesh pointed out some issue she said "no no, it can't be like that, I have done this in our previous two chips and it was done like this only. You implement in this way."
"But madam, why it was implemented like this in previous projects ? there may be some different reasons for such implementation. " Rakesh had asked sincerely.
"Its legacy, and we can't change it"
"Do we have any documentation saying it should be like this only? because I am not convinced why it should be done like this." Rakesh knew that if this implementation is not correct then everyone will be after his life.
"can't you make-out just by looking at the name what does this module do ? I myself have done this in previous chips so you implement as I said." She always gets irritated when somebody asks something which she doesn't know, and this is the case always.
To be on safer-side, Rakesh had dropped a mail asking her to send some document where it is written how to implement this particular thing. But as expected she did not reply.
Finally everything was done, he dropped a mail to the entire group saying that it's done and now they can use the database. He locked his computer and scanned the room expecting nobody, but there were few engineers still working or doing something with their computers. Rakesh always hated such work culture. These people are, like Rakesh, victims of bad project planning. It is totally acceptable that in an industry such as IT, where people gets paid somewhat higher than others, sometimes have to work under pressure and have to deal with some unexpected issues and have to work extra hours but such things should be a rare occurrence. If it is happening daily then there is something terribly wrong with project planning. Somebody have to take a call and fix such things otherwise in a long run this will spoil the company's culture.
'More time you spend in planning the less time you will need for execution' Rakesh remembers the words of his team lead-cum-friend in his previous organization. But here the situation was entirely different. Rakesh's team lead doesn't like to plan things or brainstorm the problem to carve out the plan of action, instead, she will ask Rakesh to try some random things and then will blame him for not delivering quality work !!!. Putting full stop on his thought Rakesh went home.
Next morning he went office on his usual time. In back of his mind, he was expecting some mail regarding his last nights implementation and he found one in his mailbox. And as he had feared, that mail said that whatever he has implemented is not correct. Now he knew the sequence of events that will follow.
"Rakesh, phir se whatever you implemented is wrong. Why don't you do your job sincerely ?" Rakesh's team lead came to him and spoke as if Rakesh is a servant in her house and did not clean the floor properly.
"But you told me to implement in this way, I had repeatedly asked you to send some documents related to this but you told me you had implemented this in previous two chips and I should implement it like that only. Its not my fault" Rakesh knew that there is no point to have any arguments with her, because she herself knows that it is her fault but she will never accept.
"No its your fault only. You should have studied it properly and then implemented it. But you never study and always do such mistakes and in the core meeting I am always at the receiving end, because of your ignorance."
"You never gave me time to study, and to this particular implementation you were sure that it will work because you had worked on it. I had pointed out issues with this implementation but never listened and forced me to work late night to implement this." This time Rakesh was in no mood to keep himself quiet.
"nahi nahi, its your fault and you should accept it. You already have missed the deadline and it is because I had kept a buffer you were able to deliver on time. Anyways I have talked to the verification manager and you have to give a patch on this release. today itself. and this time there should not be any mistakes."
Rakesh never understood the concept of buffer. When some task needs 10 days to finish, manager will ask team lead to finish it in 7 days keeping 3 days buffer and team lead will ask engineer to finish it in 5 days keeping 2 days buffer. so basically managers and team leads wants an engineer to complete 10 days task in 5 days and still expects quality output. !!! and then companies arrange seminars on work-life balance for their employee !!! but in reality when it comes to meeting a deadline (mostly unrealistic) there is no life, only work, because after all deadline means a deadline. :)
Rakesh started preparing for the patch release and had to stay late in night.
Two days later; it was the day Rakesh was going home and he got his wedding cards from his home and wanted to invite everybody, so he thought before leaving, he will distribute it to everyone.
It was 1:00 pm and he came to his desk after finishing lunch thinking of writing wedding invitation mail to his friends and he also wanted to scan his wedding card and attach with the mail.
"Rakesh, verification team needs an urgent release. Please complete it before you go" His team lead came and asked casually.
"I have a train at 8:00pm and I am going at 5:30pm. It is very difficult to do the release now."
"That's ok, It won't take much time. Just start working I will help you in this implementation. I had committed this delivery in last status meeting." she said.
She was not clear, as usual, what to implement and how to implement. at 5:00pm Rakesh finally told his boss. "Madam, now I am going, Its 5:00 pm and I have to meet one more deadline at 8:00pm and that will not wait for me."
"Rakesh, you are going on leave at the wrong time but its your wedding so I won't cancel it, but in any case you have to finish this today itself. before you go. It won't take much time now."
It was 6:30 and Rakesh was still working and now he was very much sure that he will miss the train. Finally he finished the job and did the release. Again, he was confident that there will be some issues with the release because of two reasons; one is, his boss had forced him to do some changes which he was not sure if it is correct and the second is, because of timing constraints his boss suggested not to follow all the checks.
Rakesh had just locked his computer and was packing his stuff when he heard his boss calling, "Rakesh, Can you please send me the details what have you done in last week ? and can you send me the pointers to the docs which you have created ?"
"I have already sent you the details two days back !!!"
"Actually, I accidently deleted that mail, can you send it again ? "
It was 7:00 pm, Without properly inviting everybody, for his marriage, Rakesh left the office and reached home to get his luggage. Luckily he got the auto rickshaw just outside his house. He looked at his wrist watch and it was showing 7:30 pm. His train was leaving in half an hour and it takes at least 45 minutes to reach station from his house.
Thanks to the Delhi traffic, he managed to reach the station only by 8:30 pm !!! There was no train on the platform, he got scared. He asked to one of the coolies, sitting on the platform, about the train and to his relief train was late by half an hour and it was about to come. He sensed some divine intervention, because this train originates from Delhi and rarely gets late.
He boarded the train but was not feeling relaxed. Office was still on his mind. His phone started vibrating, flashing the office number. He put the phone in silent mode and did not receive any call from the office.
The only thoughts that was going on his mind were; 'After marriage, will he be able to balance his personal and professional life ? Will he be able to do justice to his wife ? Will his marriage be successful ? '. Just to get rid of such thoughts he called his fiancée.
"Rakesh, Let's have a meeting " It was the first day in office, after his marriage, and Rakesh was very happy and bit relaxed.
"I had told you to finish certain tasks before you go on vacation but you went without doing it. You have not finished any of the tasks I had assigned to you. Finally I had to complete all your unfinished tasks"
"What tasks ? You didn't give me any task and I did the release before I left. There was no pending tasks"
"No no I had told you to prepare for the next release and had told you to write scripts and fix all the bugs, but you did nothing."
Rakesh was furious now. She had not given any task before he left for his marriage and he had informed, about his marriage plans, two months earlier and repeatedly asked her to prepare a plan so that his vacation does not affect the ongoing project schedule, but she did nothing. "Show me the e-mail where you had mentioned all such tasks and its deadlines." Rakesh asked controlling his anger, as usual. Because of her extreme un-professionalism, Rakesh had asked her, in front of their big boss, to assign all the task via e-mail only.
"I had come to your desk and assigned these tasks. Everything can not be assigned by e-mails." She told with low tone, sensing Rakesh's aggression. "and moreover If your attitude remains the same, then it is very difficult to survive in such competitive environment. You understand what I am saying. right ?. You should learn to take the initiative, look at your teammate he joined after you and he is having less experience compare to yours, but still he is doing better job than you and that's why we are planning to send him Israel for the next project. it could have been you, but looking at your performance we are sending him." She said in very insulting tone.
'It's enough now, I can't stand such insult. I am going to resign effective from this moment.' Rakesh though and making up his mind he left the meeting room.
He went straight to his desk and unlocked his computer to type his resignation letter when his mobile started vibrating. It was his wife.
"so..., you finished your lunch ? " she asked.
"No, I am bit busy, I call you later."
Rakesh felt like crying, he went to restroom washed his face and went out to take a walk. It was month of May and Delhi was burning, the temperature displayed on top of the IOC building was 41 degree centigrade. Rakesh walked about 3-4 km around his office building, not able to make any decision. He stood under the tree on entirely deserted road, thinking what should he do? Many thoughts were hovering over his mind, and finally he decided, considering his newly married status and the financial responsibility he is having, to continue with this torture until he finds some opportunity.
He went back to his desk, to work toward meeting the next deadline. After all deadline is more important than human emotion.
-Parikshit Gohil
Disclaimer :
The characters and events in this story are real, any resemblance to real people or facts is not coincidence its intentional.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Magic Seeds by V S Naipaul

Magic Seeds by V.S. Naipaul

This novel is about life of a person called Willie Chandran. He had spent eighteen years in Africa and then in Berlin and finally he returned to his motherland India to take part in a guerrilla revolutionary movement to liberate the village people. After spending seven years in revolution movement and many years in jail he feels that this movement is not at all about the liberation of the people, the idea of individual is more important than the people for which he thought they were fighting. Willie finds many magic seeds, in the form of social revolution, and always tries to find his true life.

Over all its a good read. A good novel by a great writer.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Finally, we have education for all

Long back, during my school days, I had taken part in one of the “Each One Teach One” campaign, where we went on roads urging people, such as shop keeper or truck drives or rickshaw driver or anybody whom we find on the road to send their child to school and if they themselves are educated then educate at least one person. We were not aware what we were doing or why we were doing, at that time but it was a great fun. But now I understand the importance of such campaigns.

Indian parliament had passed a landmark bill called “Right of children to free and compulsory education Act 2009″, on 4th August 2009 which became effective from 1st April 2010 (Its real, not April fool prank ). Little background on this; At the first post-Independence census of 1951, only 9 % of women and 27 % of men were literate and because of this inherited legacy of large scale illiteracy and lack of proper provision for education, it was resolved by the architects of the constitution that the new Indian state would endeavour to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to age of 14 by 1960 !!! anyways its better late than never

Well done !!! We joined the league of 135 countries who have constitutional provision for free and non-discriminatory education for all ( However out of 135 only 13 countries provide completely free eduction). And do you know who tops the list ?? Chile, a country in South America, it gives free and compulsory education to children in the age group of six to 21 years !!! There are other countries (such as Germany, Belgium, Norway and few more) that have provisions of free and compulsory education covering their entire schooling period !!! . All our neighbouring country, excluding Pakistan and Sri Lanka, also has such constitutional provision for free and compulsory education.

Coming back to our RTE (Right to Education) Act; according to this law “every child of the age of six to 14 years (from class 1 to class 8 ) shall have free and compulsory education in neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education.” (you can find more details of the law on internet)

To translate these words on paper into reality will be a real tough task for government, considering the fact that, in India there are approximately 8 million out-of-the school children (out-of-the school includes those who never attended any school and those who are school dropouts) in the age group specified in the RTE. Nowadays, there is a very small percentage of children who do not go to school at all, the major problem is with the school dropout rate. As per the education department’s report 96% of India’s children enroll in primary school, by the age of 10 about 40% have dropped out (And this has won us a title of ” A Nation of Dropouts” ).

Before bringing all such children to the school, for free education, there are some fundamental problems which needs immediate attention from government.

Infrastructure is one of the major roadblock in materializing such ambitious goal. Substantial proportions of the primary schools are functioning without the most basic essentials such as drinking water, toilets, furniture, teaching aids and books, and with this we can’t even talk about more advanced resources like fans, playgrounds, musical instruments, computers etc …

Second most important and ironically most ignored aspect of quality education is teachers. I don’t want to generalize my statement but still majority of the teachers who , after 6th pay commission, are getting good salaries are not fit for the job ( This is true even for many of the university teachers as well, as per my observation of past few years (since I joined college in 2000) majority of the lecturer who joins the college are those who failed to get the industry job or those who has some family constraints, non of them really interested in teaching but they had to take up this job) . Teacher absence rates are very high and as per one survey, in rural India, on any average day 25% of teachers in government primary school are absent. and secondly and most disturbingly, even among teachers who are present, only about half are engaged in teaching activity. and what do those inactive teaches do ?? they are usually engaged in variety of pastimes such as sipping tea, reading comics or eating peanuts and even knitting sweaters for winter . Generally speaking teaching activity has been reduced to minimum, in term of timing and effort. and this has become way of life in this profession.

Lets hope the government take some substantial steps in these two aspects as well and then the next step should be to amend this bill to cover the secondary and higher secondary education as well.

In India we have many laws and fundamental rights but rarely laws are obeyed and rights are allowed to be enjoyed but lets hope this bill becomes a huge success and over a period of time we achieve 100% literacy rate.