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Archive for the ‘bussiness’ Category

What is so posh about being unfashionable?

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on January 12, 2011

Being fashionable is about being influenced by the current popular trend or style. On the converse being unfashionable is not being influenced by a trend. The most fashionable ones are the people who set that trend. Isn’t it? They had dared to be different from the existing scheme of things and charted the path of their liking. Look at the unfashionable person. The unfashionable person dares to be different by being stuck to what he likes. He might be frozen in fashion of a bygone era or he might be failed trendsetter whose style did not take off.

It is not considered cool to dare to be different as you like. It is considered cool to follow the trend-setters early on before your other friends. For if something becomes very common it is no more a fashion. One has to hurry to live in that fashionable period for the longest. If you join late, then it is already time for the next fashion.

What does the current new world with its emphasis on choice promise us? – Freedom to choose. Unfortunately with its tools of advertising we choose what they choose for us. They choose what is new. If I were to choose what I like I become unfashionable. I think it is cool to be unfashionable if you still think and choose for yourself.  Are you with the tide or do you dare to be yourself?



Posted in bussiness, economics, social | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

The Dirty Job: a story

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on August 27, 2010

My mother was admitted in the hospital. She had burnt herself. We went to see her every day. Our grand mother took us there. The doctors in the Government Hospital were not friendly. They would not let us stay in the burns ward for long. My mother suffered from burn injuries, which I still think were not very serious. I have seen many with worse burns make it to life. She died within a week of her admission. It was the doctors who killed her with their treatments.

Ramesh took Choti and left the village just after my mother’s admission into the hospital. Choti was born to my mother and Ramesh last year after they started living together. I think my mother knew she was going to die, even though she was conscious in the hospital. She wanted her family to take custody me and my other siblings Babloo and Moti. Her family is big. My grandma and her other children promised to take my brother. They did not want me or my sister. After all we were girls and they were afraid that we would grow up to be like our mother. I was seven years old and my sister Moti was four. An old lady in our village took sympathy on us and took us in. We addressed her respectfully as an aunt.

I missed my father and mother. My father was an alcoholic, but he loved us. He visited us every alternate day and gave us stuff to eat. My mother had wanted to keep him away from us. She used to shout at him, when she saw him meet us. I realize she too loved us. She was beautiful. We all look like our dad. Choti looked like our mom. I missed Choti too. My father never took another woman. He loved our family. A few months after mother’s death, I heard his body was found in a gutter in the neighbouring village.

This aunt who took us into her home was old. She found it difficult to control me. I was indeed naughty when I was small. I was always in the street playing with other girls. I did not help her as much as I troubled her. She put me into a hostel. I like school. I studied for five years.

In the summer holidays, I came back from hostel to be with my aunt. She was taking us to her native village. I refused. It was a dirty little village. We would have to share our room with two buffalos that they have. The smell was horrible. Instead of going I could stay alone in our village. She told her friend who lived few streets away to take care of me.

Her friend whom I called as Padma mausi took me to her house for a couple of days. She fed me well. I liked her. She took me to her aunt’s place which was few more streets away. The house had many young girls. They were all involved in dirty work. I knew that. My aunt too was involved in it, when she was young and able. There are no dirty little secrets in our village. Everything was open. Even primary school children knew what happened behind closed doors.

Our village had night school. It was where all children slept, when their mothers were busy with dirty work in the night. I knew it all, so I could tolerate it. I could accept the girls in the brothel. We played in the free time. I got good food there. It was better than what my aunt gave.

After a month, the care taker of the house called me into her room. A young man was there. She showed me to him and left the room. I was afraid. I screamed. He was strong. I could not fight. It was painful. I wept. He abused the care taker for giving him such a lousy girl like me. The care taker smiled and said, she is fresh to the trade. I was beaten that night for having shouted. Padma mausi never came again. Neither did my aunt. I was stuck there. I am now a 14 year old prostitute.

I could not leave the brothel. I was confined to the indoors. I had freedom inside. I could wear anything. I could eat as much as I pleased. I had the company of many girls, though many were older than me. Once you get used to everything you begin to enjoy what you once detested. I enjoyed the company of men. I liked the sensations of my body. When I lived in hostel, I liked Abdul. I dreamt of marrying him. His memories have got erased now. I lost the fear of men. I have seen them all. The rowdies who come and demand us for free, the police who are supposed to protect us, young men contemplating marriage, middle aged men who lost fancy for their wives and old men whose wives have died.

I was kept hidden for the fear of a police raid. I was moved from one brothel to another for protection. Indeed there was a raid and I was rescued. I was kept in a home run by the Government. Apparently my brother Babloo contacted a NGO and they had organized the rescue operation. I hate Babloo for having done this. I had adjusted to a new life. I was even enjoying it. I did not have to go to school. This rescue screwed my life up.

I was kept in this Government run home. I was not yet 18 years old, so I did not have right to be involved in this business. There were many girls like me in that home. Many of them were forced into it, just like me. They too began to enjoy their new life, just like me. They too were not getting any money, just like me. The men who came to us gave us money. We were to hand it over to the caretaker. She would give back a small amount to the older girls. The younger ones would only get food, clothing and accommodation.

After I joined the new home, they did some blood tests on us to check if I had contracted any disease namely HIV. I did not get it. The new home had a teacher who came to teach us some basic stuff. I was best in my class, as I had completed my primary school. Most other girls were dumb. I was getting irritated with their fixed schedule. I used to shout back to the teacher and the warden. They would beat me at times. They also taught us moral ways to live. I could see from the lives of our teacher and other staff that there are better ways to live.

I get confused at times about what is happening? The past and future flood me with irritation. I get tensed and do things that I later regret. I just cannot control it, when I get into that rage. Last year I broke the TV, Computer and telephone in a fit of rage. They thought I became mad.

They took me to a doctor. He admitted me in their hospital. He was a young man. He looked respectable. I saw him joking a lot with his friends in the hospital canteen, but he was serious with me. He looked straight into my eyes. He probably was mystified with my story. He had sessions with me regularly.  I avoided his eyes in the beginning. I became more comfortable with him and shared more freely. Of course I avoided many areas which were uncomfortable for me to discuss with. In fact I do not remember much of those either. He was interested in those things, as if they had a key to a treasure.

He asked me one afternoon, “You did not go to your aunt’s village because you would have been uncomfortable. Am I right?” I thought it was obvious. He then asked me, “If you had gone off to your aunt’s village, would you have gotten into this mess?” I was shocked. It is true; I would not have gotten into this puddle of shit if my aunt was around. She was old. She was in the dirty trade herself, but she was strong enough to protect us. He then said,” There are many things in life, which are uncomfortable. If we run away from them, then we would get into situations which are even more uncomfortable. Isn’t it?” I agreed.  He then added, “Can you see a difference between what feels good and what is good?” I did not understand that, but I nodded. He smiled and said “Good!”

He taught me how to relax my mind and how to ventilate my anger in acceptable ways. The day of my discharge grew nearer. He asked me of my dream. Of, what I wanted to be. I told him what I always desired, “A dancer, in the movies.” I could see his eyes sink. He was not happy. He tried to tell me that it felt good to be a dancer in the movies but it might not really be good. He said that the movie industry had risks for girls like me. He said it is likely that vulnerable people may get into wrong things.

I am sure I am not getting into bad things. I detest the dirty work myself. I would never do it to get a chance to be on silver screen. There is something called talent in this world and people would recognize and reward it. The doctor is educated. He can know what is in books. He cannot pick dancing talent. He has stereotypical beliefs on movie industry. Other girls in our hostel have danced on movie sets. They have told me that they did not have to do dirty work to get dancing chance. They told me the heroines do it not dancers.

When I got discharged, I could see that the doctor smiling. His smile was empty. It looked as if he knew something dangerous was lurking around. More knowledge spoils the mood for everyone.

Next year, they will release me from the home. I still am unable to love my brother Babloo, though he had done everything in my interest. It is probably because I fomented hatred over him just because he caused me the discomfort of moving me to the Government home from the brothel. I don’t care about Choti and Moti too. It has been many years, since I saw them. I have lost feelings for those whom I can call as a family. I can be a free bird with no restraints. I can chase my dreams. I can go to Mumbai and try my shot in movies.


"The dirty job is always available."

After discharge from home she went to Mumbai to become a dancer. She fell in love with a light-boy. He left her after a year, leaving behind a two month old daughter in her hands. She was hungry and her baby had no milk to feed. She came to know why her mother sought Ramesh despite having a husband and three kids. The main roads are busy and side lanes are dark. The dirty job is always available.

PS: (added on September 25th, 2010) There is a sequel to this story ‘ Bollywood, Brothel and Being Born Again’.You can find it here.

Posted in behavioral therapy, bussiness, distress, economics, emotion, fiction, gender, indian society, personality, psychotherapy, social, stigma, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

eros@ergon.con*: a conversational story

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on July 6, 2010

Recently an Indian CEO was sacked from his company because of a complaint of sexual harassment. He maintains what they had been in a consensual, flirtatious relationship that grew out of a close friendship with a colleague. This story triggered me to think on these issues.

Here is a fictitious story in form of conversations bringing out few issues which might have relevance to sexual harassment. I am no expert in this field. Though I have heard of many stories on domestic violence I have not heard much on sexual harassment. What I know is limited to conversations I have had with friends, patients and co-passengers in trains. I call the story “eros@ergon.con”.


“Have you heard of what is happening?…This is bullshit going on here in our company.”

“I know. I work in Vicky’s team. I also know the reasons for all this.”

“What exactly happened?”

“See, Rashmi joined our team six months ago.”

“Is she the one we saw in the theatre last month?”

“Yes. She is the one. Remember, she was there with her boy-friend.”

“I remember being introduced to him. Ramesh is his name. He is in the accounts department…Ok. So, what did she do?”

“She has not been doing well in the job. Vikram had to admonish her for her mistakes. She felt offended. She filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Vicky.”

“Oh my goodness! I heard about that complaint but did not know the background. Anyone who knows Vicky can vouch for his integrity. It is terrible for his name to be stained like this. I wonder how he and his wife have taken this.”

“Rashmi has been roaming around with Ramesh whenever she is off duty. Their relationship is secret. Ramesh’s parents would never agree for their marriage. She is probably stressed. This gets carried to work. Instead of accepting responsibility she has used her trump card to defame Vicky.”

“Vicky’s name would clear off after the enquiries, but what about the trauma he is undergoing. She loses nothing for filing such a complaint.”

“She should be sacked for raising wrong allegation, when Vicky is cleared.”

“Some of these girls are crooked and some are just sensitive idiots. Last year, I had a complaint against me.”


“Yes. It was a tough season. Our team leader Mrs Johnson wanted us to finish a job within 24 hours. She announced this at the end of the working day. It meant that I would not be going home that night. Our friend Raju was admitted in the hospital and I was to go to relieve his wife Laxmi for few hours. I was so pissed off at such untimely deadline, I pointed my middle finger as Mrs Johnson left the room. I basically meant **** off.”

“I can understand.”

“You have seen Swathi in the party two weeks ago. Didn’t you?”

“Oh! Is she the girl, who was sipping coffee when we were gulping beer in the party?”

“Yup! The very same girl. She saw my gesture. She went to Mrs Johnson and complained of this offensive gesture the next day.”

“Oh my God! What happened?”

“Mrs Johnson came and congratulated our team for staying up the whole night to finish the work. She also said that if we had not completed the job then she might have had to send us home to…as she said that she pointed her middle finger.”

“Really? She is cool.”

“We all had a good laugh.”

“Except Swathi…Perhaps.”

“We have to be sensitive to people around us. It is very true, but what if someone does not fit into our culture at all. What can we do if a person is overly sensitive? Thankfully Mrs Johnson is cool. If she was another sensitive nut, I would have had it.”

“It is a pity that Swathi could interpret a sign of frustration as a sexual gesture. But I respect her. She is good at her work and has good character. She is not like Urvashi, who sleeps with the boss to get promotions. In fact she has to do such shit to even retain her job.”

“Isn’t it interesting that everybody knows that the CEO is sleeping with a staff and nobody batters an eye lid. Urvashi’s father is a professor of Sanskrit and Indian Culture. I cannot believe how a girl like Urvashi is born into his family.”

“Who knows one fine day Urvashi might file a case in the court against the big boss for sexual harassment? Ha ha ha”

“Yes! The world would believe it to be harassment too. Poor girl…what other option does she have in this male dominated society…She had to do it…She kept it secret for long because she was stuck with fear…etc.”

“Absolutely true. These are bullshit arguments in her favour. She made her choice. She is doing this to move ahead in the corporate ladder and nothing else. If she really has some emotions for him, then she would realize with time that the CEO is just using her. Rashmi sleeping with Ramesh hurts the company in an indirect manner. It does not affect others directly. Urvashi’s sleeping with the boss is a lot different. She is growing in the ladder bypassing many worthy people. This would hurt the company more. Don’t you think so?”

“Incompetence and physical beauty put a girl at risk of being solicited for sex in her work place by people who can cover her incompetence. If she is ambitious, she uses her beauty to bait men around her to cover for her lacunae. I really do not think this kind of thing can be called sexual harassment. It is happening with the choice of the woman.”

“Whenever there is less difference between two people and the difference that a senior can make to them is huge, favours including sexual would tilt the scales. You can take the entertainment or fashion industry for example. At least this is not so much pronounced in our technological industry.

“True. In fact, the ones who can be considered as harassed because of sex like this are people like Mrs Johnson, Vikram and us. We work hard and finish our projects but we are sidelined to make way for people like Urvashi.”

“Hmmm…That is right. It is OK. In the long run we will catch up. So long as we enjoy our work and our compensation, why bother about others? Anyway, I got to go buddy. Bye for now. I will catch up with you in the mall this weekend.”

“Ok. Bye. Take care.”


(Inside a sub-urban train)

“Hey! What is up man? You look sad.”

“Sure. I do. I have reasons for it.”

“Want to share? You could…if you want to?”

“I got fired today.”

“Oh I see. Any reasons?”

“See, I am a laboratory technician in a college lab. I am in love with a final year student in the college. The college management feels that if they fire me they would send a strong signal to discourage romantic love inside the college.”

“Don’t mind this…Did you do something?”

“No…Nothing that you might imagine. We have not even touched each other. We know each other for the past three years. There was some Chemistry between us. We learnt more about each other over coffee. I proposed to her three months ago. She accepted. We have planned to get married after her graduation, which is two months from now…and now…I am unemployed.”

“What the hell is this? There is no complaint, no problem in your work or her studies, just arbitrary dismissal for being decently involved in love though there are marriage plans. This is surprising.”

“I am not surprised. Last month my friend gave a love letter to a colleague proposing to marry her. He got dismissed for this itself. She filed a complaint of sexual harassment.”

“Oh my God! This is ridiculous. I cannot stand this. Where do I go? Is there an escape from this kind of persecution? Looks like anyone can harass a man. A day will come when men file cases against men saying the boss is sexually harassing them. I have developed a phobia. I am going to leave working for a company. I will not start a company too, where I might have to employ people. I have to try my hand at politics. That is a safe place, where no one talks about even about the culpable ones. It is a place where the daring can brazen and the phobic can hide.”

“I don’t get you.”

“You don’t have to get me. Even I don’t get me. May be I need to consult my friends in NIMHANS $, Benguluru.”



“Eros” in Greek means Romantic love

“Ergon” in Greek means Work

“Con” means

1. on the negative side

2. to trick; involve in abuse of confidence


NIMHANS- National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences ; a premier psychiatric facility in India

Posted in bussiness, distress, emotion, ethics, gender, indian society, law, love, management, social, stigma, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Family’s (poor)BCG analysis of children : Sons as ‘Stars’ and Daughters as ‘Dogs’

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on May 11, 2009

let them shine

A few weeks ago I skimmed through a book* on Strategic Management. I came across ‘Boston Consulting Group (BCG)’s portfolio analysis. It is based on product life cycle theory that can be used to determine what priorities should be given in the product portfolio of a business unit. It feels uncomfortable comparing a family to a business unit, but interestingly the word ‘economics’ is derived from ancient Greek and means laws of management of a ‘household’. So, there should not be a problem with studying unwritten ‘business’ laws in a family. What has that got to do with sons and daughters? Let us see…

A family decides how much resource is to be allocated to each child based on certain values and this affects the future trajectory of each child. My previous post was on society’s obsession with having sons. In this post, my point is that ‘maleomania’ might also not be useful.

Let us study a modified version of BCG’s portfolio analysis. The two dimensions in which children (products) are to be rated are Growth Potential and Domestic Productivity. My intuition is many young boys fit in the ‘problem children’ category as they do not contribute much in the house-hold chores and are perceived to have a high growth potential. Young girls on the other hand help their mothers in their domestic work. There is indifference to her growth potential. So most likely an average girl falls into the ‘cows’ category.

Domestic Productivity

Growth Potential





Problem Child




How do managers deal with ‘problem children’? They increase investment in product development or encourage retrenchment into speciality niches. If son is not studying well in studies, what do parents do? Send him for tuitions, coaching classes, cricket coaching (at least he can use sports quota), personality development workshops etc. If he is absolutely not fitting in, parents would plan sending him to some uncle’s place to learn business!

Daughters on the other hand are like BCG’s ‘cows’ which keep producing/ serving the family without much scope for growth. In the adult years, when the focus is on the son’s produce/ service (economic/social), the daughter’s share (domestic) looks small and she is perceived to be a ‘dog’. If the family accepts her well it is the case of a ‘faithful dog’ if not it is sadly that of a ‘mangy’ dog! The manager’s solution for mangy dogs is disposal, in this case in form of marriage!

The model is supposed to work for the benefit of the family economy, though I have seen it failing. I have been observing the problems faced by old people. There was an old lady, who was admitted in our Hospital with acute watery diarrhoea. She needed intravenous fluids for some time. She has five grown up sons. None of her sons was willing to be her caregiver. A salaried son of hers arranged a caretaker of another patient to also look after his mother!!!What is the use of having five useless sons?

What is the least expectation from children? Reasonably, that they take care of parents in their old age. What is the guarantee that a son would surely take care of parents in their old age? One can only hope that the proverbial budape ki lathi does not give a stick to the old parents. In the yester years, when society was agrarian, it was expected that eldest of the sons would take care of the parents.

Changing demographics shifted the responsibility to one of the sons who ‘could’ take care of them. This shift was pragmatic and not driven by social norms. So, even if a family abandons their old, there are no issues raised by others. In the modern era, when people have fewer sons, the probability that all sons would fail them is more than if they had more. I am not presenting a case against family planning. I want to argue that sons need not be stars working in interest of their family. They could become druggies, they could elope, they could be ‘hen-pecked’, or they could just abandon their parents.

The society always had capable girls, who provided in the domestic front and if need be in the community too. Please read this post for such a story. Given an opportunity, girls can achieve all that boys can. The society is changing. Women are entering workforce. Roles in a marriage are changing. Women too earn for the family and men help in domestic chores. In such context, I am sure responsible girls would provide for their aged parents. The BCG analysis forgot that with time, management itself would change! If the family considered a daughter as a star and had invested in her growth there are possibilities that the daughter proved herself worthy, even more than what could be imagined.

Intuitively, it is expected that sons move from ‘problem child’ status to ‘star’ status and daughter’s descend from ‘cow’ status to ‘dog’ status. In real life despite odds against them many daughters shine like stars and in spite of receiving all inputs few sons go to dogs.

Is it worth killing an unborn girl child (a potential star) for having a son (a potential dog, God forbid)? …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

*Ginter PM, Swayne LE, Duncan WJ. Strategic Management of Health Care Organizations. 4th edition (2005). Blackwell Publishing

Posted in bussiness, challenge, economics, gender, indian society, management, social | 7 Comments »

Bayes’ theorem and charity

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 27, 2009

Lionel Robbins defined economics as “the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.” When working is resource poor a setting economizing becomes all the more important. A hospital, which wants to serve the poor keeps its general prices low lest the poor never come. Despite this patients would require a dicount in form of ‘charity’. How is it that a hospital can try its best to see that they give charity to the poor and only the poor? 

What are the combinations possible? In the descending order of preference for probability of such a combination happening is:-

1. patient poor ( Po )-recieves charity( C )

2. patient not poor( N Po )- recieves no charity (N C )

3. patient not poor- recieves charity

4. patient poor-recieves no charity

Practically it is very difficult to know for sure economic status of a patient. Poor tribals come to hospital in their best dress even when very sick. I have seen the rich go to labour rooms in stinking clothes as they know they would discard that apparel after the delivery!

We know if charity is given or not. Is it possible to use Bayes theorem by looking at conditional probability of the given combinations and apply it to formulate direction of the services?

Bayes’ theorem can be expressed as :




Which can be expanded as :




Each term in Bayes’ theorem has a conventional name:

  • P(A) is the prior probability or marginal probability of A. It is “prior” in the sense that it does not take into account any information about B.
  • P(A|B) is the conditional probability of A, given B. It is also called the posterior probability because it is derived from or depends upon the specified value of B.
  • P(B|A) is the conditional probability of B given A.
  • P(B) is the prior or marginal probability of B, and acts as a normalizing constant.
  • The denominator is Probability of occuring without considering occurance of A. There for it takes conditional probability of B when A occurs and also when non-A occurs.

Intuitively, Bayes’ theorem in this form describes the way in which one’s beliefs about observing ‘A’ are updated by having observed ‘B’.

Let us consider person has received charity. What is the probability that he was poor?

probability of person being poor given that he has recieved charity P ( Po/C )

According to Bayes theorem:-

P (Po/ C) =                        P ( C / Po ) . P ( Po )


                               P ( C / Po ) . P ( Po ) + P ( C / N Po ). P ( N Po )

We know that P (C/Po) cannot be known. If it was then we would not look at this equation at all as P (C/Po) is our main interest. Then P ( Po/C ) would be high when

1. P ( Po ) is high

2. P ( N Po) is small.

That is if one wants to give charity to poor only, he should start a independent entity where only poor come. Then he can give charity with greater confidence! He can have another set up for the non poor where there would not be any charity. Horizontally well integrated organizations can effectively run such systems if they have such a vision.

Ops! In a single set up, there needs to be optimization of some sort. My plan is to think on this and post it in future.




Posted in bussiness, economics, mathematics | Leave a Comment »