IMTB syndrome – Administrative Bane

Agreed, everyone is busy, but “I am too Busy (IMTB)” is absolute humbug and what in general parlance can be described as Cop-out. It means two things when an issue is brought to your for a solution/ suggestion – “You are not a priority” or “I have no clue about it”. In my experience it is almost always the latter. Fear that the capability (or incapability, to be precise) gets exposed is the culprit for this IMTB syndrome.

The 'Busy' Trap Best Quotes – Fav Quotes | BestQuotes
Yes, this is the message that we need to convey to those pretenders
Pic Courtesy – Web

This is largely a reproduction of a Tweet thread that I had posted a year ago during my efforts volunteering with the Government as a Corona Warrior regarding reasons (in my humble opinion) why our famed Bengaluru Model took a beating. Our war-room and the processes were proudly presented by Mr Luv Aggarwal in his evening briefing pre June 3rd Unlock, when Karnataka and Bengaluru in particular, managed the Pandemic using technology judiciously. The technology implementation during lockdown was studied well by domain experts and the potential pitfalls were highlighted (to add – I had personally given potential numbers if certain measures were not put in place – It so happened my numbers were accurate give or take 10 – Thanks to models developed by Dr Santosh Ansumali and another by Dr Prasanna Simha).

Let me directly reproduce the tweets posted on the IMTB Syndrome

Someone (irrespective of sector) if he is too busy for everything, all the time, it means either he doesn’t know his job or doesn’t know to manage it. I come across so many who hide behind this “I am too busy” from their reportees, from their peers and superiors. If you are a manager find a balance or bosses will have to find some balanced person. In days of mobile phones, you cannot have pagers.

What went wrong with much touted Technical advantage #Bengaluru and #Karnataka has to be discussed sooner than later to save the state and #Bengaluru. #IamTooBusy or #MineIsBest adamance costed us after all the gains we made. With tonnes of experience in IT system/solution architecting, mobile app practice – Both from hands-on development experience too, not just looking over shoulders of developer) architecting was the key fact that did the damage. It cannot be a hobby project when dealing with data especially when we are dealing with Human Lives.

It is not just passion, enthusiasm, hard-working or commitment (of which we never had a dearth, it has a lot to do with Competence too, without which all the others are pointless. (Vice versa is true too. But starting point is COMPETENCE). That is when we, a bunch of enthusiasts conducted a thread bare analysis of some Apps that were used (its tremendous success earlier and its miserable failure once the numbers ramped). Sadly our penchant to investing more to dig shallow wells, instead of one deep productive well, was our bane

News | The O'Meara Lab
Too many Unproductive shallow Wells
Pic Courtesy: Web

There was this particular officer whose #MineIsBiggest adamance is what let go of a multitude of options provided to mankind, free of cost. Why Government has to spend on “Learning Curve” of Private sector was the line. Seriously? On something that is so specific to public health & pandemic & offered for free? When an IAS officer is appointed into the Government services, it is more for his administration skills and much less for any other basic domain skills. If he “was” Engineer it is just incidental and once in service your primarly role is administer, not demonstrate your Engineering skills.

This particular officer had a balloon of an Ego, thought it was passport to so called growth by creating many hobby grade apps – in IT what we commonly refer to as “Hello World” program. We clearly highlighted that the Application Architecture is too rigid and unscalable. It was ok when our numbers were low but unlock expectedly would hike the numbers, contact tracing numbers would jack up, number of cases would increase and so on. Net result, to save his image and adamance that his apps were the best, our City, the IT Capital took a beating both in terms of image and also in terms of public health – Evident in the bulletins released those days – opaque contents and numbers that has spiked. But he was shut to any idea lest his carefully built up image gets shattered – it did shatter but by then City and the State paid a huge cost.

Sincerity and strenuous efforts is no substitute for Competence, which is what this bunch of hard working officers lack. As late as today, solution is not to scale the solution up, but scale the users down. Haalooralli Ulidavane Raaja… goes an old saying in Kannada. We’re no where near haalooru yet. Is it Insecurity when not once, twice, four times you don’t turn up for a meeting to discuss (#IamBusy you know 🙂 without a care for time of people, domain experts whose billable is 40 times > this officer’s. He was out to show who wears the pants in the administration. During a review by Chief Secretary, I did write a note explaining where we went wrong and the remedies there of. Then CS, accepted it and immediately allowed remedial measures and it did not take 3 weeks to get semblance of control again. (Recalling a message I received over Whatsapp – Hey Suresh, you just spiked my husbands growth. My humble reply – I rather spike career growth of one person than risk COVID Spikes)

Here I would contrast it to another officer, also an Engineer but emerged a Superstar in the War against Corona in Karnataka, simply because he just administered, facilitated multitude of domain experts to deliver. Jealous Enemies within carried out a hit job and some wise men thought dividing Bengaluru as per BBMP zones for effective management was a better approach and he was relegated to a particular zone. He performed magic for that zone again and proved, whatever the scale it is about doing a job perfectly and playing his role as required, not to demonstrate his Engineering skills. I have to name and thank this officer on behalf of the state and the City. Thank you Major Manivannan, IAS for being a Friendly Administrator who knew his job extremely well, for being a Facilitator than anything esle and harnessing strength of all available resources (which was scarce). You were the reason why many corporates and NGOs happily joined hands to work with Government. By the way, Major Manivannan was the person who conceptualised the Citizen Corona Warrior (locally called Corona Sainika Program). I was blessed to be associated with the Program as Vice Chairman of Corona Sainikas Task Force handling the state (I was tasked with entire State except BBMP areas) and thereafter as Chief Citizen Coordinator when the Home Quarantine was managed by Citizen Volunteers. But for him, I would not even think of joining this initiative, since working with the existing Public delivery system is very frustrating for someone from Corporate sector. He insulated all the bureacratic challenges from service delivery folks and left free to deliver. Respects to this model Civil Servant.

Would like to recollect contribution of M/s Knowledge Lens to the entire initiative, It was our loss that we could not reach out to them during lockdown (when we had to manage even bigger volunteer pool) and I am sure we would have done even better job with their support. After the unlock, Major Manivannan and me sat down to discuss actions for establishing the Citizen Quarantine Squad (later renamed to make it appear more citizen friendly as Neighbourhood Home Quarantine Watch and Care – NHWC) I still remember how I drove in to Knowledge Lens office in Electronic City and met up with Shri Sudeesh Narayan, Founder and CEO to seek support of two technical Development resources, he dismissed it saying, why two – leave it us, we will develop the entire portal and maintain it – ALL FOR FREE. He r introduced me to Shri Jayesh Sripada Rao (a friend for life now) who then helped us, hand held and in fact became one of the best volunteers himself during the entire battle. I have to admit, it was totally unexpected and Free came with a cream of High Quality Professional outputs. Knowledge Lens’s Mobile practice came in handy to address all the needs of the system. We were able to automate the entire registration process including delivery of ID cards at almost no cost. There was no looking back thereafter. We had lot of partners engaged into the program and smoother delivery inspired even more work from the volunteers in this critical phase. Once again role of Major Manivannan and his support was immense. Sadly, when the zone-wise bifurcation was done, only the zone headed by Major Manivannan used all the apps and results were there for all to see.

What inspired Corona Warriors like me and nearly 40,000 others who were out on the field with support and encouragement of Major Manivannan and then Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri BS Yediyurappa ji.

Remember when the program started – no one had a clue about what this Virus was all about. But everyone knew what should be the outcome – WE HAD TO WIN – with the App or not

Winding up with a small anecdote – A Senior Bureaucrat asked me (he was trying to understand the psychology of volunteers) “We are duty-bound and paid a salary to do this work, What is in it for you taking all these risks?” My spontaneous answer was (which I strongly believe is what every volunteer thinks and essence of volunteering):


I was told by this officer at the time of retirement, that he had written these lines on a paper and had it below the glass top of his table.

Thank You-from Happiest man alive

With her becoming better and better, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find words to write this tribute piece to the wonderful soul in my life. Like I said earlier, we are not celebrating her Birthday, but her presence in our lives.

To say that she is like that gift that we keep unwrapping every day of our lives – Someone who never stopped giving to all the kids (and Me). The better half whose missionary zeal to make everyone of us even better is something I never stopped admiring

I am truly at loss (otherwise over verbose) to find positive adjectives to prefix to her name, and gave up after a hour. Thought it is better to attach a thesauraus and still find there were more that could be added. That is the value she brings to the huge family – not just maternal or marital but to the huge extended family that we are so fortunate to possess.

All the DaMaKi family was unanimous in their agreement when I said “Thank you for being with us and for just being you” Personally, I am extremely proud and privileged to be a part of, the one who makes me feel like a hero, every single day for the past 43 years that we know each other (Oh yes, it is that long, and it seems like we just met a few years back for the first time).

She is my biggest fan (beesanige alla). The one who instilled all the confidence in me, when in those rare moments I lost belief in myself. I have gone through those moments and thanks to her presence in my life, those moments were so rare. She pushed, prodded along, and never allowed me to quit.

Not sure if I told this earlier but saying this nevertheless, on a trip abroad, a foreigner whom I met on the flight amidst our chat was shocked (mortified in fact) that I have been married for so many years and remain married to the same person. What is so normal in our part of the world is indeed a rarity there. He wanted to know how the journey has been. Humorously I replied (borrowing from someone more experienced) – “Yes indeed, we have been married for 30 SHORT years and it has been happiest 15 years of my life.” I was not kidding, life has not been without challenges. The co-passenger of my life never allowed me to even think it was a phase of trials and tribulations, ups and downs, elation and grief too. She navigated around all the bumps and waves to hold this vessel steady, ensuring that  we never crashed. Prouder moment for me was when he said – “this is what makes India & its tradition so different from other parts of the world” (INDEED). Thank you Aparna. You are the reason I was able to say that with a lot of conviction.

One of the significant achievement  of my life was my ability to convince Aparna to marry me (I should confess on the side that it is one of the best gifts she got *running*

She means a lot not because she is a perfect person but only because she is a perfect Aparna – That is good enough! On this special day, from all of us, a BIG thank you for being what you are. Have a wonderful day (which we are hoping to make) and a super duper year ahead (which we are hoping to make again)

I cannot sign off without a song dedicated to you. This is at the top of my mind today.

Happy Birthday

May the Divine’s and Gurudev Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji’s blessings be showered on you in abundance

Heart of Gold

It is 10,227 to this day when I carried the best bundle of joy, a precious Gift that I ever carried in my arms – just seemed that the entire family waited for that day for lifetime to see her appearance into the world. The first Girl of the family in generations and how lucky we are to be her parents, uncle, aunt, cousins and most importantly Grandmother. (I so badly want to add Arun into the equation but then let me confirm if he really is :-P)

A lot of what I write here maybe a repeat, because she never ceased to be the great human being she was ever since she came along – it only got better? To write instances will need Terrabytes of webspace, but suffice to say “Trust me, ask anyone who has crossed her path – what I said is truth and nothing but truth”

From that day on 3rd April 1993, to a being a bride last year and first Birthday as a wife, you have grown gracefully into an amazing young (and beautiful – my genes you see) woman. You are that human being that I often wished I could be. You are beautiful, confident, smart, and well-liked by everyone.

This was the journey so far. My Precious one in my Arms at 28 hours and 28 years

Thank you Divine, for this wonderful gift – Akhila a.k.a. Divya – who has been more a friend than a daughter. It is always tough to write my heart out in limited abilities with words – because there is so much to write and to choose some is a challenge when it comes to writing about you. To start with, incredibly proud of you darling for the way you managed our expectations, by and large exceeded meeting it. You made up more than for small little disappointments when in the rare event you did not meet it. Looking back, it was great that you yourself set such a high expectations on yourself, which means you never ever felt you are undeserving of anything great that the creation has on offer.

As I have kept saying, I only pray that you continue to remain as confident and experiment. Best learning we all drew from you is not to be afraid of making mistakes. Many doors opened due to that, a lot of lessons learnt making you even greater person. As some wise man (don’t know why it has to be a man always :-P) said mistakes create the path to the amazing life one can aspire for later.

Isn’t it a great virtue of how you make friends and people are so easily drawn to you – highly magnetic feature that is everyone’s envy. You can go to a God forsaken place, half way across the globe, or into a desert, where you know nobody, yet I am sure you will come back with loads of new friends (and yet a few more of Whatsapp groups, Amma would say this). No adversity has ever dragged you down as we saw over the years. Just shed the moment and keep moving forward. I pray to the Divine that all these characteristics are never lost on you ever.

You are the best daughter, best grand-daughter, niece, sister, cousin, friend and now (assumedly) a great wife too. Keep smiling like you do while you make light of navigating the worst and most choppy seas of challenges. The way you, Arun and Vishnu managed along with everyone in the family those days when a lot of us were down with Covid, was simply unbelievable. Made it so easy for all of us to come out of it unscathed. Those words you wrote after it was over (in a week) was very touching – not showing any worry outside but what you were going through was so evident in that FB/Insta post. WoW Darling – You are unmatchable

Loads and loads of love from all of us here

Happy birthday Di, my beautiful and invaluable Friend! It’s still unbelievable that it is 28 summers ago on this day that we met for the first time – as a few minutes old, 3.1kg lively “staring” bundle. Keep your chin high and stay happy and progress in life retaining all those great traits that you possess. I love you more than you will ever know. Have a lovely day and a great year ahead.

From Grateful Dad

On this special day, here is my pick for you (or rather for me)