& occasionally about other things, too...

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Power of Opportunity - Richard Rothman

Long before the present publishing boom began in India, Richard Rothman, then a bureaucrat with the United States Government in India, published a collection of short stories that was breathtakingly original.

Then, being the maverick that he has always been, Richard kicked his comfortable job to launch his own consultancy – in an area nobody would've thought of as a business proposition – Opportunity.

His second book on the subject The Power of Opportunity is being launched in Bombay later in January. In a short, e-mail interview, he talks about his book and ‘Opportunity’.

Richard’s consultancy Open Mind Consultancy has teamed up with the Penguin India team to create a very India-centric roadmap to both individual and business success.

What is this book about?

The Power of Opportunity presents a thorough methodology of thought and action on personal and business opportunities. It is the first book to attempt to do this since Edward DeBono published his book Opportunities in 1978.

Why is the book titled The Power of Opportunity?

Because opportunities have tremendous power to change our lives for the better. They are the seeds from which all success grows. For example, a couple years ago I met a 20-year-old entrepreneur, still a boy really, who had dropped out of college to develop an internet app. This boy, from a very modest background in Bihar, had managed to raise $20 million from Tiger Global, a major US venture capital firm.

This example highlights two fundamental things that give opportunities tremendous power:

1) all opportunities are free. You can't pay for them even if you want to. There is no “opportunity shop” where you can buy them. That means that opportunities are available to even to penniless boys from Bihar.

2) the best opportunities are like powerful magnets that attract all the resources needed to scale them. Why had Tiger backed him? Was it because of his track record? Obviously not. Tiger was pouring resources into the opportunity, not the entrepreneur.

But resources flow only to the best opportunities, what I call golden opportunities.
Therefore, it is crucial to consciously choose opportunities by using a systematic process, and not rely on luck, as most people do. Unfortunately, most people end up pursuing Nopportunities, which are not opportunities, because they don't use a systematic process to choose them.

This is the second book you have written on opportunity. How is The Power of Opportunity different from Master Opportunity and Make it Big?

My previous book, Master Opportunity and Make it Big, presented the stories of 18 "Opportunity Masters" who had started with nothing and made it big by taking advantage of excellent opportunities.  Although all of these people had succeeded, they did not necessarily understand why. In The Power of Opportunity, I present a methodology of thought and action which is based on my experience with the over 2,000 businesses I have consulted with over the past 30 years as both an Opportunity Consultant and Trade Commissioner. Therefore, it is an original theory which I have developed.

You're probably the only Opportunity Consultant in the world, what exactly do you do or can do for corporations and for individuals.

As the first and only Opportunity Consultant in the world, I offer companies a systematic process to uncover, recover and discover opportunities for sustained, profitable growth. How am I different from other management consultants? Most follow the principles of strategy developed by Michael Porter and others, which uses “competitive advantage” as the main filter through which to view opportunities. I’ve found that using competition as a filter can lead to increasing market irrelevance over time. After all, do your competitors buy your products? Are they part of your team? Of course not. I focus instead on providing useful service to stakeholders.

You have worked in India for the last 25 years, in terms of your specialisation (Opportunity) how has the Indian market changed? Are there more tangible opportunities at present then there were in the early years of economic liberalisation.

On a macro level, I firmly believe that India is the greatest land of opportunity in the world today. Half of India’s population are still subsistence farmers, a business model which is fundamentally broken in the modern age. Over the coming decades, they will move to cities and take better opportunities as wage earners and entrepreneurs. Since the demise of the License Raj in 1991, the Indian opportunities landscape has liberalized - but it still has a long way to go. The government has got to focus less on ideology and more on growth through opportunities.

In your sphere of expertise (identifying opportunities) what changes have you noticed in India over the last two decades?

The Indian mindset is gradually shifting from the pre-license raj mode of opportunity through connections, bribery and extortion, toward a modern rules-based system that rewards opportunity based on merit. This migration to the rules of the modern era will take decades, but the trend is in the right direction, and India will benefit from it.

You have published an amazing collection of phantasmagorical short stories and a novel.  Why did you abandon writing fiction?

I haven't abandoned fiction. I plan to resurrect and publish my novel eventually. But at this point I'm focused on spreading the mantra of Opportunity.

You may buy the book here (in India): The Power of Opportunity

Kindle edition is available here (in Canada): The Power of Opportunity

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A requiem for Indian secularism?

As 2019 draws to a close and we look back at the events of the past year, reflect upon the gains and the losses and the lessons learnt, the one issue that is impossible to ignore is the rapid decline of secularism in India.

The Modi regime, backed by a solid parliamentary majority it got in 2019, has set into motion changes that have fundamentally altered India by forcibly extinguishing its secular ethos.

Although, India proudly claims to be the largest democracy in the world, democracy in India has largely been confined to the successful holding of elections.

For democracy to be meaningful, adherence to other sacrosanct principles of democracy are necessary. These principles include respect for democratic institutions, a legislature that engages in meaningful debate, independent judiciary, a free and thriving media that encourages debate and dissent.

Under the new Modi regime, democratic norms have been severe constricted. Today, India under Modi has no patience for secular principles and is keen to enforce aggressive majoritarianism.

Two events that demonstrated this tendency are:

  • The lockdown in Kashmir
  • The passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the implementation of the National Register of Citizens.
The Modi regime found a semblance of support for its assertive moves in Kashmir, primarily because many in India believe that the stalemate in Kashmir needs to be resolved. And if old methods haven’t yielded results in the last seven decades, new methods must be tried.

However, the lockdown of the state and its people since August 2019 is unacceptable, and a gross violation of people’s rights to freedom.

When the exercise of identifying illegal immigrants was launched in Assam after Modi was reelected, it raised legitimate concerns because New Delhi now had a government that swore by majoritarianism, and was not above using the state’s enormous reach to propagate its exclusivist philosophy of aggressive Hindutva.

Pertinently, the exercise of implementing the NRC in Assam proved how difficult, if not impossible, it would be for a large number of people to prove their Indian citizenship. Nearly two million people (including Hindus) could not prove that they were Indians. 

Perhaps in recognition of the anomaly that the NRC would result in the exclusion of Hindus, as well, the Modi regime amended the citizenship act to accord citizenship rights to non-Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Modi’s supporters may claim that the amendment is to help minorities in these countries emigrate to India. But the fact is that the purpose of both the NRC and the amended citizenship act is to exclude Muslims.

Amit Shah, India’s Home Minister and the second-most important minister in the Modi regime openly declared that the citizenship register would be implemented across India to ferret out illegal immigrants.

“It is our commitment to implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country to weed out the infiltrators. First, we will bring the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to ensure that eligible refugees get citizenship, and then we will introduce NRC to throw out the infiltrators. They are termites, they are eating into the country's resources,” Shah asserted.

He declared in the Indian Parliament, “Maan ke chaliye, NRC aane wala hai.” (Take it as a given that the NRC will be introduced across the country).

In July 2019, when the implementation of the National Citizens Register was launched in Assam, the following protest poem, “I am a Miya’ written by Hafiz Ahmed spread like wildfire on the internet.

Write Down ‘I am a Miya’

Write Down
I am a Miya
My serial number in the NRC is 200543
I have two children
Another is coming
Next summer.
Will you hate him
As you hate me?

I am a Miya
I turn waste, marshy lands
To green paddy fields
To feed you.
I carry bricks
To build your buildings
Drive your car
For your comfort
Clean your drain
To keep you healthy.
I have always been
In your service
And yet
you are dissatisfied!

Write down
I am a Miya,
A citizen of a democratic, secular, Republic
Without any rights
My mother a D voter,
Though her parents are Indian.

If you wish kill me, drive me from my village,
Snatch my green fields
hire bulldozers
To roll over me.
Your bullets
Can shatter my breast
for no crime.

I am a Miya
Of the Brahamaputra
Your torture
Has burnt my body black
Reddened my eyes with fire.
I have nothing but anger in stock.
Keep away!
Turn to Ashes.

Translated by Shalim M. Hussain

Will this protest poem be a requiem for India’s secularism?

The internet informs me that a requiem “is a religious ceremony performed for the dead. ... The word requiem comes from the opening words of the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead, which is spoken or sung in Latin (requies means “rest”).

In a nonreligious context the word refers simply to an act of remembrance.”

Some of the biggest composers of western classical music have composed requiems, and one of the most memorable compositions is Clint Mansell’s Lux Aeterna for Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 film Requiem for a Dream

(You may listen to it here: Clint Mansell – Lux Aeterna – Requiem for a Dream).

'I am a Miya' will be a requiem for Indian secularism if the world allows India’s Modi regime to continue with its persecution of Indian Muslims.

Watch the video here:

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Song of Silence - Sangeeta Gupta's paintings

Curator’s Note by Meena Chopra

In an ongoing journey with five elements of life, Sangeeta Gupta reveals the hidden realms of creativity by bringing it to the conscious levels through her art. There is a sustained intricacy of mystique, in the entire range of her work. 

The obscurity of abstract forms start speaking to one in a silent melody and a continuous song is created within the limits of space and time through the subjective experience.  Undoubtedly a spontaneous painter, the vision of her inner world is very clearly and honestly depicted in both her poetry and art. 

In her latest works, there is a kind of explosion of forms in contrasting tones and colours which give a powerful sense of free-spiritedness. This instantly grabs the attention of the viewer's eye and draws it deeply into the subtleties of forms and tones, thereby creating a continuous dialogue between the inner and outer worlds. 

What strikes me most in her art is the sincerity, through which the subconscious flows out naturally, impulsively and effortlessly through her art.
Fellow Artist and Curator Meena Chopra

Continued in the post below

Keshav Malik - a poet and an art critic

Continued from above

Guest post by Sangeeta Gupta

It seems only like yesterday, I recall.

I had recently come on transfer from Calcutta and was new in Delhi. My third solo exhibition was to be held at the All India Fine Arts and Craft Society in December 1997. I was desperately looking for someone to help me to curate the exhibition and to inaugurate it.

I met Manohar Kaul, Chairman, AIFACS regarding this and he promptly suggested that I contact Keshav Malik for this who was in the gallery attending some exhibition. Kaul said it was easy to identify Malik as he would be the tallest in the crowd.

I entered the gallery looking for him. He was there in the midst of a large gathering talking to people, yet he did not seem to belong there. I was simply mesmerised by his persona and walked up to him and said I need to have a word with him. He smiled and came out of the gallery and at that moment we were in a meaningful conversation, which went on for long.

At that point of time I was totally ignorant of his stature in the art world and had no hesitation in discussing with him about art and poetry. We instantly developed a bond which grew over the next 17 years. Keshav went out of his way to curate the exhibition of my ink drawings.

Keshav guided and inspired me to evolve as an artist and a poet. I felt anchored in Delhi – a big ruthless city. It was the beginning of a great learning experience and a beautiful relationship. His house became my comfort zone, we shared a lot.

Keshav witnessed my growth as an artist and a poet and enriched my life.

All these years I had the confidence that I could bank on him for guidance; could call him; meet him when I wished. I had immense faith in his advice and wisdom.

His passion for reading and writing poetry and reviewing art was the intrinsic force which made his life not only beautiful but so much worth living. He loved seeing art so much so that he would visit all shows in Delhi. He often said that he drew inspiration from art for his poems.

He translated my book of poems (The echoing groove - 2005). We did a book together, his poems and my paintings (Visions and Illuminations - 2009). One of my exhibitions had his poems and my paintings together on display (Shridharani Art Gallery, New Delhi - 2004). We read poetry together on several occasions in the midst of ongoing exhibitions.

I had this strong conviction that Keshav had so much wisdom and insight about evolution of Indian art that it should be shared with artists and poets of all ages and it would be appropriate to document it in a film. I discussed this with a filmmaker and he gladly agreed to do it.

Even after making all efforts by collecting data and research material the project did not take off. I was losing my patience and peace of mind over it. One day I decided that I would make the film myself. I am no filmmaker, but I made it as my tribute to my mentor Keshav. I scripted, shot the film and then did editing with the help of the professional.

I was keen to have a special screening of the film on Keshav’s birthday and the documentary was screened on 5 November 2012 at I.C.C.R, New Delhi. The first film on Keshav – Keshav Malik- A Look Back, is a reflection on the life of the noted poet and art critic.

He was a Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi. He was an Art Critic of Hindustan Times and Times of India. The film features, several eminent painters, poets, scholars, and their views on his life. The film has been screened at various venues such as Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Sanskriti Kendra, Anandgram, New Delhi and at Kala Ghoda Art Festival, Mumbai 2013.

The other two documentaries Keshav Malik – Root, Branch, Bloom and Keshav Malik – The Truth of Art were screened by India International Centre and by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Delhi in 2013 and in the Spring Festival, 2014 at Alliance Francaise de Delhi.

This film has been selected and is in the archive of Documentary Edge Campus, a resource centre for documentary films, New Zealand, to be used for educational and research purposes. This film was telecast by the TV channel DD Bharati and Lok Sabha TV several times.

My mind is flooded with hundreds of memories of Keshav. He would often curate my shows in Delhi spending hours together, till late evening and then rush back home to change his Kurta and come back to inaugurate the same exhibition.

Keshav wrote most of my catalogues for my exhibitions. He would come to my studio to help me select the works for an exhibition, then write about it, curate the show and also inaugurate it.
He was a complete man who cared for the feelings of all. 

Out of his concern for women artist that it was more difficult for a woman to sustain herself as an artist he would go out of his way to help and promote them.

Keshav often said that poetry is a way of life and merely writing poetry is not enough. His poems were philosophical and abstract and dealt with deep concern for humanity. He never compromised with his values in life.

During his 89 years on this earth he witnessed so much of change happening in and around him, but he remained unaffected by the material and mundane like a lotus in a dirty pond. He was a detached witness to the affairs of this world and lived life on his own terms.

He was modest and humble, sensitive to the needs of others and yet he firmly stood by his values in life. The artist community who were fortunate enough to meet and interact with him would cherish the memory of a man who came on this earth to spread love and compassion.

I salute the man and his spirit who had faith and hope in humanity despite numerous upheavals in the society. While the documentary was screened at IGNCA somebody asked him “Do you believe in God, have you seen him?”, Keshav said “No, I have not, I have only seen human beings and I only believe in them”.

Time neither is, nor passes.

What is, is the world-making womb

where you are born, to die.

Born asleep, born a dream –

dreaming dreams without recall.

These lines of his poem always remind me that we have limited time on this earth and each moment should be lived with a sense of purpose.

Keshav served and guided the Indian art world for more than six decades through his critical yet constructive writings. He was one of the first persons I had met in the art world when I came to Delhi 17 years ago. Keshav was a mentor, guide, and philosopher to me.

I specially admired his compassion for young and budding artists who came from all over India and flocked around him for advice and help. He was generous to all artists who came to seek his advice. He always had something good to write about each artist. He was a poet’s poet. I feel enriched by the long association I had with him.

His passing away is a great national loss and has created a void which cannot be filled ever. An era of art criticism has come to an end. His contribution as an art critic and poet will be remembered by the Indian Artist Community for times to come.


Why this, why now?

Meena Chopra, a frequent contributor to this blog, is curating an exhibition of paintings by Sangeeta Gupta, a visiting artist and poet from India. The opening reception was held on 19 November, and the exhibition is on till 29 November at Heritage Mississauga - The Grange 1921 Dundas St. W Mississauga ON L5K 1R2.

-Exhibition is curated by Meena Chopra - Artist, Author & Poet and Nain Amyn- Lalji

On 29 November 2019, Sangeeta Gupta will make a presentation on Life and works of Keshav Malik - an Indian celebrity poet, art and literary critic, art scholar, and curator

29th at 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at The Grange
followed by an open mic session in collaboration with Courtney Park Writers' Group
About Keshav Mailk:

Keshav Malik (5 November 1924 – 11 June 2014) was an Indian poet, art and literary critic, arts scholar, and curator. He remained art critic for the Hindustan Times (1960–1972) and The Times of India (1975–2000). He published eighteen volumes of poetry and edited six anthologies of English translations of Indian poetry.

He was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, for his contribution to literature. In 2004, the Lalit Kala Akademi, India's National Academy of Art, made him a Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi for lifetime contribution, which is its highest award).
'CROSS CURRENTS - Indo Canadian International Arts' believes in going 'BEYOND BOUNDARIES' both in 'thought and action', 'within and without'