Saturday, December 27, 2008





Vikram Karve

Tell me, what is the difference between Science, Technology and Engineering?

It is simple.

The principal goal of a Scientist is to publish a paper.

Science is the reasoned investigation or study of natural phenomena with the objective of discovering new principles and knowledge of natural phenomena.

The principal goal of a Technologist is to produce some physical change in the world.

Technology is the practical application of science. Technology includes the skill, technique and knowledge of the manipulation of nature for human purposes, using scientific results and knowledge.

The principal goal of an Engineer is to design, create and produce new tools, machines and systems for practical human means by exploiting technology.

In a nutshell, a Scientist studies nature, a Technologist manipulates nature, and an Engineer exploits technology for human purposes.


Dear Reader, do you agree?

Please do give your views and comments.

Also, do read my article on ETHICS, VALUES AND TECHNOLOGY on this blog or my creative writing blog by clicking the url below:


Thursday, December 25, 2008





Some things are under our control, others are not. Happiness and Freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can't control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible .


Thoughts play a very important role in your life, whereas your feelings can make or break you; also affecting the lives of others around you.

We often let our attitudes or feelings govern our lives. We let feelings drive our thoughts, not realizing that thoughts drive actions, actions produce results, and results in turn produce more feelings, causing a vicious circle which may ultimately lead to loss of self-control.

Feelings are not totally controllable, as many times feelings are produced by external circumstances beyond your control, and if negative feelings are allowed to drive our thoughts and actions, then undesirable results emanate.

These undesirable results in turn produce further not-so-good feelings, and the vicious cycle continues. This is true for any unpleasant or negative feelings, like anger, envy, disgust or hatred, which tend to drive our thoughts and actions, and quickly take charge of our lives.

An analysis of other options indicates that neither actions nor results are suitable alternative drivers since they also are not totally controllable and will not always be pleasing.

The best solution is to establish ‘thought’ as the driver is because it is controllable and we can get good results. Moreover there is a matter of choice. It is in our control to think good and interesting thoughts. The happiest person is he or she who thinks the most interesting and good thoughts.

The human mind cannot totally prevent poor quality thoughts from arising, but it can choose whether or not to dwell on them. The mind moves from dwelling on poor quality thoughts by selecting alternative beneficial or pleasant thoughts to focus on.

Choosing to be driven by thoughts and then controlling those thoughts allows the best possible results. Positive thoughts lead to good performance (action), which yields desirable results, which in turn produces good feelings.

Good feelings are conducive to better thoughts and progressively this cycle facilities a high degree of self-control and feeling of happiness.

When good thoughts are combined with good potential the results can be remarkable. Thus, the very basis of self-control is refusing to allow our feelings to control our responses and dwelling instead on good, pleasant, joy-producing positive thoughts.

Develop and apply your skill to control your thoughts. That’s the key to a happy and healthy life.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Non Academic Musing





When I lived near Aundh, in the evenings I often used go for a walk on Aundh Road from Bremen Chowk towards the railway line at Khadki.

It is one of the best places to walk in Pune, wide roads with plenty of greenery and foliage on both sides.

Of course, Girinagar, where I live now, is a fantastic pristine verdant walkers' paradise, where you can rinse and invigorate your lungs with pure cool refreshing unpolluted air; but then it's far far away from the chaotic polluted noisy concrete jungle of Pune!

But one thing is for sure.

While you can rinse your olfactory senses to your heart’s content with the wonderful pure air, you can’t relish a delicious Lamington and indulge your epicurean gourmand desires on your evening walks out here.

In those good old days, on my way back to my erstwhile home near the banks of the Mula River, I would treat myself with a Lamington at the Spicer College Bakery Shop.

Let me close my eyes, transport myself to the glorious past, stop at Spicer College Bakery on my evening walk, buy a lamington and delicately place the soft delicacy between my lips, press and squeeze a piece of the wonderful stuff on my tongue, focus inwards, enhance the sensitivity of my gustatory senses in order to enhance the experience of supreme bliss as the Lamington melts in my mouth and the chocolatty-coconutty luscious syrupy sweetness permeates into me.

A Lamington is a delicious cube of sponge cake, dipped in melted chocolate and sugar and coated in desiccated coconut.

They originated in Australia around 1898 in what later became the state of Queensland. Whilst the origin of the name for the Lamington cannot be accurately established, there are several theories.

Lamingtons are most likely named after Charles Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. However, the precise reasoning behind this is not known, and stories vary.

According to one account, the dessert resembled the homburg hats favoured by Lord Lamington.

Another apocryphal tale tells of a banquet in Cloncurry during which the governor accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of gravy, and then threw it over his shoulder, causing it to land in a bowl of desiccated coconut or peanut butter.

A diner thought of replacing the gravy with chocolate and thus created the lamington as we know it today.

Ironically, Lord Lamington was known to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, once referring to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits".

Another theory is that they were named after Lady Lamington, the wife of the Governor.The Spicer College Bakery Lamington is my favourite – and can you imagine it costs just Eight Rupees [that’s five Lamingtons for a Dollar, for those who think in Dollars!].

The chocolate icing keeps the cake moist. The desiccated coconut protects it from drying out in the hot climate. And it’s quite a juicy generous lip-smacking treat!

The Spicer College Bakery in Pune serves a variety of healthy goodies like carrot cake, nut cake, doughnuts, samosas, soy patties, soya milk; but, for me, it’s always my all time favourite, the inimitable yummy succulent Lamington!

Tell me, Dear Fellow Foodies, have you tasted a Lamington, in Pune or elsewhere?


Monday, December 22, 2008



[Leisurely Browsing]


Vikram Karve

Leafing through my beloved books on my bookshelves is one of my favorite pastimes. I love the company, the smell and the feel of books, as I leisurely browse and glance through the varied books I have collected over the years. And maybe select one for perusal.

This morning I picked up a delightful management classic called Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson. I acquired my copy on 06 May 1999 in the Pune Book Fair (that’s what I’ve written below my name on the first page). It is a laconic book which explores the paradoxes of management in an extremely witty manner. Let’s browse through this wonderful book together.

The Book:




ISBN 0-684-80080-2

In his foreword Michael Crichton writes: “In this book Richard Farson reports more than experience; he gives us …wisdom”.

The 172 page book has eight parts and thirty three chapters, and as the author says in the introduction, these chapters need not necessarily be read in sequence, but in whatever order appeals to the reader. Let’s do just that.

“Morale is unrelated to productivity” the author says chapter in 27, turning conventional HR wisdom on its head. He deprecates management practices of pampering and mollycoddling employees, giving gifts, holding parties, recognizing birthdays, gestures of goodwill and other HR gimmicks designed to court employee favor as a calculated morale-raising strategy. Self-actualized people, who were among the greatest achievers in our society, were not necessarily comfortable or happy; they could be ruthless, boring, stuffy, irritating, and humorless and organizations are absolutely dependent on such people. You don’t agree, don’t you? That’s why you must read this book, which turns things you have learnt topsy-turvy and gives you something to think about.

Effective Managers are not in control, emphasizing the vulnerability requirement in a leader. Absurdly, our most important human affairs – marriage, child rearing, education, leadership – do best when there is occasional loss of control and an increase in personal vulnerability, the author says, drawing a parallel between leadership with romance. If you know how to have a romance, it isn’t a romance, but a seduction. Not knowing how to do it makes it a romance; it’s the same for leadership, an intangible quality, where management techniques don’t work, leadership can't be taught. Genuineness in relationships is the only way to lead professionals.

Training leads to the development of skills and techniques, and suggests the possibility of control. Education leads to information and knowledge, which suggests the possibility of understanding, even wisdom. Wisdom involves humility, compassion and respect – essential to effective leadership!

Training makes people more alike, education tends to make people different from each other, so the first benefit of education is that the manager becomes unique, independent. “Don't try to train leaders. Educate them!” the author exhorts.

Planning is an ineffective way to bring about change. Too often it is an empty ritual designed to make management feel there is something going on in that area.

There are paradoxes and paradoxes, absurdities and absurdities!

Individuals are strong, but organizations are not! Till I read this book I was given to understand that it was the other way around, and the organisation is paramount and individuals indispensible.

The better things are the worse they feel, says the theory of rising expectations, and that’s why good marriages are more likely to fail than bad ones, and second marriages are better than first marriages, but shorter!

In communication, form is more important than content, praising people does not motivate them, and the more we communicate, the less we "communicate".

The ‘meat’ of the book is the chapter on – The “Technology” of Human Relations. Exploring the impact of technology on Human relations, the author discusses how technology invents us, develops a life of its own and with every application of technology a counterforce develops that is the exact opposite of what we intended. The danger is that we become so in love with technological applications that we forget its detrimental effects; he illustrates his point with examples of how computer technology increases design capability but stifles creativity. We must focus on Relationship Enrichment rather than acquisition of techniques of management skills, he suggests, since the more important a relationship, the less skill matters.

The book is replete with startling insights. The author states his message in his introduction: “I believe many programs in management training today are moving us in the wrong direction because they fail to appreciate the complexity and paradoxical nature of human organizations. Thinking loses out to how-to-do-it formulas and techniques, if not to slogans and homilies, as the principle management guides.”

This is a refreshing, original and thought provoking book, something different from the run of the mill stuff. It’s a management classic, a rare gem in the plethora of management literature. Do read it. You’ll be glad you did.


Sunday, December 21, 2008






We may classify events can in a few broad categories based on their purpose and objective:

Leisure Events [leisure, sport, music, recreation]
Cultural Events [ceremonial, religious, art, heritage, and folklore]
Personal Events [weddings, birthdays, anniversaries]
Organisational Events [commercial, political, charitable, sales, product launch, trade fairs, shows, road shows etc]
Academic Events [ conferences, workshops, seminars, symposium, unconference]

In this first part of the article, let us focus on Academic Events, since that’s what I am most conversant with, having been a teacher and training manager for most part of my career, and having participated in, actively presenting papers and passively as delegate, and also organised many Conferences, Seminars, Workshops, Symposia et al. [Of course, I have organized and participated in many other types of events as well, and may write about it subsequently].
The two main stakeholders in an academic event are the organisers and the participants or delegates.
From the academic point of view the Organisers view the event as one-way communication, a gathering where they impart information to the attendees. [Of course there may be other commercial and career ambition motives as well!].

The Delegates may look at the event from different points of view – there are a number of reasons why persons attend academic events like conferences: learning experience, enjoyment, professional networking, seeking peer group approval and prestige [by presenting their research papers], as a perk or reward for good performance etc.

Conference: A meeting of individuals or representatives of various bodies for the purpose of discussing and/or acting on topics of common interest or theme. A conference is a large event, lasting several days and attracting a large number of delegates. Typically a conference may attract more than a thousand delegates.

A session is an unbroken period within a conference; the plenary session is a session at which all delegates are present. The “Graveyard Shift” is the session immediately after lunch when most delegates are likely to feel drowsy, siesta and nap off. A poster session affords opportunity for authors of papers which are not actually presented in the conference to display posters, summaries and abstracts of their papers to delegates and stand by to discuss and answer questions. This is held during conference session breaks outside the main conference hall in the foyers and adjacent lobbies.

Convention: A convention, or congress, is a gathering of greater importance than a conference, much larger in size, with a few thousand participants, with a formal agenda and programme, with the aim of formulating policy.

Seminar: A seminar is a small to medium sized event with the number of delegates ranging from 20/30 to around 100/200. Seminars are compact one or two day events designed to educate and inform delegates of the subject(s) of interest and discuss issues of common concern.

Symposium: A symposium is a Seminar where only a single topic or subject is discussed in an informal way encouraging inter-delegate-speaker communication and debate.

Colloquium: In a colloquium one or more experts or eminent academicians deliver lectures on a subject followed by a question and answer session. A colloquium is purely academic in nature.

Workshop: A workshop is a small gathering of delegates to discuss and exchange ideas on specific topics or to solve particular problems. It is like a symposium but more formal in nature.

Meeting: A meeting is a much smaller event, maybe involving a few executives or invitees, discussing business or a precise agenda.

Information Flow: In a symposium and workshop the flow of information is between all the participants, delegates and speakers; whereas in a seminar and colloquium the flow of information is primarily one-way from the speakers to the audience. Of course, in a meeting there is more of presentation, deliberation and discussion with the aim of collective consensus and decision-making.

Clinic: A clinic is a meeting of a select group of persons with common interests, confronting and discussing real-life situations and problems, organised for the purpose of diagnosing, analysing and seeking solutions to specific problems.

Unconference: An “unconference” is a facilitated, participant-driven face-to-face conference centred on a theme or purpose.

At traditional conferences, the most productive moments often occur during informal networking, tête-à-tête and discussions between the formal sessions, in tea and lunch breaks and in the evenings – that is what an unconference aims to achieve.

The cardinal premise of an “unconference” is that there are no spectators and that everyone is a participant.

This sets the stage for everyone to actively contribute and is another factor in making this event so unique.

The idea of “unconference” probably emanated from the Fundamental Law of Conventional Conferences: “The sum of the expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of expertise of the people on stage.”

The aim of an unconference is to break the barrier between the audience and the speakers on the podium. Members of the audience and participants write topics they're interested in on boards, consolidate the topics, and then break into discussion groups.

At traditional conferences, the most productive moments often occur during informal networking, tête-à-tête and discussions between the formal sessions, in tea and lunch breaks and in the evenings – that is what unconferences aim to achieve.

With the advent of the internet and increasing virtual interaction, meetings, conferencing, networking and modern forms of “formal” and “informal” web-based communication and learning technologies, the concept of “unconferencing” is more attractive than traditional conferences of the “old mould” type.

So how does one plan and organise such academic events? There are so many aspects and factors to be considered – topic, venue, dates, programme, speakers, papers, delegates, technology, communication, budget, accommodation, food, entertainment, PR, promotion, publication, sponsorship, commercial aspects, check-off lists… I’ll end here now… more on this and about other types of events later on this blog.


Saturday, December 20, 2008



[Food for Thought]



Here are the six basic attitudes.


A passion for the discovery of truth – acquiring knowledge for knowledge sake.


A passion to gain Return on Investment of time, resources and talent.


A passion to experience the impressions of the world and achieve form and harmony and balance in all aspects of life.


A passion for conformance, to gain the approval of society, please others.


A passion to achieve position and to use that position to affect and influence others.


A passion to seek out and pursue the higher meaning of life.

Now, Dear Reader, please close your eyes, look inwards, introspect, reflect, contemplate, and tell us WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

GROUPTHINK - A Good Way to Make Bad Decisions





Tradition has it that conflict is bad; it is something to be avoided.

The culture of many organizations implies explicitly or implicitly that conflict should be suppressed and eliminated. It is common for managers to perceive intra-organizational conflict as being dysfunctional for the achievement of organizational goals. Most of us still cling to the idea that good managers resolve conflict.

Current thinking disputes this view. In the absence of conflicting opinions, harmonious tranquil work groups are prone to becoming static, apathetic and unresponsive to pressures for change and innovation. They also risk the danger of becoming so self-satisfied, that dissenting views – which may offer important alternative information – are shut out. In short, they fall victims to a syndrome called “GROUPTHINK”

In a study of public policy decision fiascos, I.L Janis identified “GROUPTHINK” as a major cause of poor decision making. As he describes it, ‘groupthink’ occurs when decision makers who work closely together develop a high degree of solidarity that clouds their vision, leading them to suppress conflicting views and negative feelings about proposals, consciously or unconsciously.

A manifestation of the groupthink phenomenon is the staggering irrationality which can beset the thinking of the otherwise highly competent, intelligent, conscientious individuals when they begin acting as a group or team.


The net effect on the group is that it overestimates its power and morality, it creates pressures for uniformity and conformance, and its members become close-minded, living in ivory towers. Some manifestations are the illusions of invulnerability and the encouragement to take great risks and to ignore the ethical or moral aspects of their decisions and actions.

This author has witnessed close-mindedness on the part of several managers which then permeated their teams. One project manager took this to the extreme and in effect defined his environment as consisting of two kinds of people, either friends or enemies.

The friends were people who completely agreed with his favoured solutions and supported his project. All others were enemies.

Soon his entire project team was echoing similar sentiments having fallen victim to “GROUPTHINK”, resulting in unbending positions, heated arguments and subsequent lack of respect for anyone who disagreed with them; the ultimate consequences can easily be guessed.

The symptoms of groupthink include:

(i) An illusion of invulnerability that becomes shared by most members of the group.

(ii) Collective attempts to ignore or rationalize away items of information which might otherwise lead the group to reconsider shaky but cherished assumptions.

(iii) An unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, thus enabling members to overlook the ethical consequences of their decisions.

(iv) Stereotyping the dissenters as either too evil for negotiation or too stupid and feeble to merit consideration.

(v) A shared illusion of unanimity in a majority viewpoint, augmented by the false assumption that silence means consent.

(vi) Self-appointed “mind-guards” to protect the group from adverse information that might shatter complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decision.

Not very surprisingly it has been suggested that those most susceptible to groupthink will tend to be people fearful of disapproval and rejection. Conversely, an outspoken individualist, if trapped in a groupthink situation, runs the risk of being ejected by his colleagues if he fails to hold his tongue.



Because the CEO [or the “Boss”] dispenses all favours, his biggest problem is to avoid being treated like God. Secondly, the “Boss” must avoid thinking that he is God.

Indeed, in many organizations, it is not easy to contradict or argue too vigorously with the boss.

Even when managers feel that they know more than a superior, they may suppress doubts because of career considerations.

Fear, respect for authority, and even admiration may make sceptics hesitate when confronted with a confident CEO or superior. This is less of a problem if the leader acts in the organization’s interests, possesses requisite soft skills, and has strong ethics and cognitive capabilities to make decisions.

However, if a leader does not force serious questioning, he or she will sometimes make mistakes and errors of judgement. Colleagues will become “yes-men”, and groupthink will take over decision making. And the dominant CEO may not discover his or her mistakes because fearful employees withhold information.

What can lower-level managers do about the boss who has lost touch with reality and seems to be driving the organization in the wrong direction?

One can adopt three different strategies:

(i) “Exit” (Leave the organization)
(ii) “Voice” (attempt to force changes from within)
(ii) “Loyalty” (accept things the way they are)

Each individual can evaluate the risks and benefits of each strategy.

However, if the organization is really on the wrong track, true loyalty requires an attempt to communicate one’s reservations and concerns to the leader.

How can a confident, independent CEO avoid the pitfalls and temptations of absolute power? The obvious (but difficult) answer is to make sure that power is never absolute, and surround oneself with other confident, independent people, and encourage dissension and debate on every decision.

In his autobiography ‘A Soldier’s Story’ General ON Bradley has exemplified this aspect in the decision-making style of General George C Marshall, Chief of Staff of the US Army in World War II, a dominant leader who was instrumental in the Allied Victory owing to his resolute management of the entire war effort. “Gentlemen, I am disappointed in you. You haven’t yet disagreed with a single decision I have made,” he told his staff after one week in office. “When you carry a paper in here, I want you to give me every reason you can think of as to why I should not approve it. If, in spite of your objections, my decision is still to go ahead, then I’ll know I am right.”

Rather than search for views that might reinforce his own, a CEO should seek contrary opinions to avoid groupthink. Some suggest using devil’s advocates for all major decisions by assigning some individuals in all groups and teams to argue against the dominant view.


This is a “groupthink” situation in which individuals or groups low in the hierarchy are powerful enough to do what they want, even when contrary to organizational objectives. Such power may be based on specialized expertise or privileged access to information. Parallel power can lead to groupthink in two ways.

Firstly, senior managers may accept ideas from lower-level managers that are not necessarily in the organizational interest, either because they have insufficient information to ask the right questions, or because opposition would not seem legitimate.

Secondly, top managers may make decisions without all the necessary information because subordinates do not provide it due to vested interests arising from misplaced loyalties to a limited function, department or team, rather than to the organization as a whole.

Such situations can be mitigated by ensuring that managers rotate between different units and positions.


When everyone in power instinctively shares the same opinion on an issue, the wise manager should be wary. Natural unanimity groupthink results in an inward-looking organization detached from its environment.

Escape from this predicament almost certainly requires a fresh perspective that can come only from outside, by hiring new managers or appointing outside consultants.

A CEO may lay overemphasis on staff – line cooperation in the belief that the easiest way to ensure implementation is to recommend only those actions that the line managers agree with. But this is not necessarily useful to an organization and may lead to mutual admiration and, ultimately, ‘natural unanimity groupthink’.

The effectiveness of staff - line dichotomy depends on maintaining a certain tension between the two. When the tension disappears, the staff may not be doing its job.


The key element in any strategy for avoiding groupthink is to instil checks and balances into the system. Formally, this can be achieved through cross-functional teams, staff advisers, external consultants, or procedures like “devil’s advocacy”.

Informally, managers must learn to tolerate dissidence, criticism, contrary opinions, discussion, brainstorming and debate and encourage their colleagues to express doubts about proposals. Propositions from various parts of the organization need to be treated transparently, equitably, and consistently, to avoid groupthink.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2008
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.



[Human Resource Management]



Numerous theories of motivation have been formulated, tomes and tomes written, and Management Gurus pontificate to their hearts’ content, on the subject of Motivation, but to put it simply, I feel that, in a nutshell, all the motivators, or motivating factors, can be encapsulated in the acronym “MICE”.

Let’s expand MICEMoney, Insecurity, Cause, Ego.

In today’s world Money is probably the primary motivating factor. Need I say more?

Fear and Insecurity have always been most powerful motivators for ages. Though negative in nature, these are used very often by many organizations and bosses.

Many idealistic persons are motivated for a Cause, ideology, belief, passion, love, ambition, or to realize one’s “life-mission”. This is the highest quality of self-actualization type motivation.

The role of Ego, pride, self-importance, self-respect [“izzat”] and self-actualization as a motivator is significant in some cases. Another high quality “self-esteem” type of motivation.

MICE and Motivation – they are inextricably linked, aren’t they?

And isn't this motivation theory so breathtaking in its simplicity?

The art of motivation is so easy, isn’t it?

I wonder why we have all those high falutin, esoteric motivational management theories taught at B-Schools!






Here are a few papers and articles written by me and my students in the late 1990's and 2000 when we studied, explored, researched and carried out post graduate dissertation work in the fascinating subjects of Soft Systems Methodology, System Dynamics Approach [ SSM SD ] and their applications in Systems Engineering and and various aspects of Management and Technology. Almost a decade has passed and, maybe, a lot of work has since been done in SSM - SD. We hope to renew our interest in this promising area of SSM - SD.

1. Design of futuristic electromagnetic conflict (EC) systems using soft systems modelling-system dynamics (SSM-SD) methodology.
Debnath, R. and Karve, V.W.
International Conference on Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility 1999 New Delhi, India, 6-8 December, [INCEMIC 1999], pp 143 – 148.


Full Paper:

2. A Soft Systems Methodology – System Dynamics (SSM-SD) Based Approach to Re-Engineering EMI / EMC Regulations and Standards.
Debnath, R and Karve, V.W.
15th International Wroclaw Symposium and Exhibition on Electromagnetic Compatibility, June 27 – 30, 2000, EMC 2000, pp 466 – 475.

3. A Decision Support System Design Incorporating Soft Systems Approach.
Murali, D. K. and Karve, V. W.
IT for the New Generation, Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Convention of the Computer Society of India, September 16-20, 1998, New Delhi, India, pp 229 - 237.

4. Ethics, Values and Technology,
Karve, V. W.
Invited Paper, Plenary Session, International Conference on Cognitive Systems [ICCS 1998], Dec 13th – 15th, New Delhi, India, pp cii - cix.

5. Systems Cybernetic Re-Engineering for Empowering Human Performance: A Soft System Dynamics Approach. Sriram, S and Karve, V.W. International Conference on Cognitive Systems [ICCS 1998].

7. Reengineering the Human Resource - A Soft Systems Approach.
Karve, V. W. and Sriram. S,
Seminar on HR Strategies for Naval Repair-Yards, Naval Dockyard, Mumbai , 06 Nov 1998.

8. Soft Systems Paradigm for Modelling a Production Enterprise, Karve, V. W. and Sriram, S.
All India Seminar on Design of Production Systems – New Concepts, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, 26th July 1998.
[Also delivered the keynote address on “Soft Systems Paradigms in Engineering Management” at this All India Seminar]

9. Coping with Cupid: A Soft Systems Approach,
Karve, V. W. and Debnath, R.
Journal of Defence Management, Vol. 26, No. 2, Nov 1999 – Apr 2000, pp 1 - 15.

10. Soft Systems Approach to Ethical Management – Putting Ethics before Business
Karve, V.W.
Indian Management Journal, Vol. 36, No. 10, Oct 1997, pp 51 – 53.

11. Soft Systems Methodology - System Dynamics Approach to Total Quality Management.
Karve, V. W. and Debnath, R.
National Conference on Quality Engineering on Aerospace Technologies, (QUEST 99), Bangalore, 20-21 August 1999.

12. A Soft Systems Approach to restructuring higher technical education in India.
Debnath, R. and Karve, V. W.
Fifth International Conference on Cognitive Systems (ICCS 99), New Delhi, 15-18 December 1999.

13. Ethical Quality Standards,
Karve, V. W.
Journal of Marine Engineering, Vol. 39 No. 1, June 1999.

14. A System Dynamics Approach to Quality Management in the Naval Scenario Incorporating the Soft Systems Methodology Perspective.
Karve, V.W. and Debnath, R.
Journal of Marine Engineering, Vol. 39 No. 1, June 1999.

15. A Systems Dynamics Approach to Quality Planning and Management in Shipbuilding industry incorporating Soft Systems Methodology perspective.
Karve, V. W. and. Debnath, R
International Maritime Conference, [INMEX 99], 7-8 October 1999, Goa.

[Copies of all the above papers have been compiled by the DIAT Deemed University Pune Library in the Annual Compendium of Published Papers IAT Spectrum 1999 and 2000]


ART OF LIVING - A Philosophical Approach to Life

Art of Living - A Philosophical Approach to Life


Vikram Karve

I’ve got a wonderful book in my bookcase. It’s called The Art of Living: The Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness, a new interpretation by Sharon Lebell. This compact book encapsulates in a nutshell the salient teachings of Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher.

Whenever I buy a book I write my name, the date and place of purchase on the first page. I bought this book from one of my favorite bookstores Gangaram’s Bangalore on 18 August 1999. There was a time, in the nineties, when I used to visit Bangalore very often. I ensured I stayed somewhere near MG Road, and spent the evenings strolling in the delightful area around MG Road and Brigade Road.

A delightful meal of the scrumptious Kerala delicacies like Stew, Appams, Parotta and the Ghee Rice at Imperial on Residency Road, baked delights at Nilgiri, Rosogullas at KC Das and Book Browsing at Gangarams Book Bureau were an absolute must. It’s been almost a decade now, I cherish those memories and hope I get a chance to visit Bangalore soon.

Now let’s have a look at a few gems from this witty and wise book which delves on two basic questions pertaining to the art of living:

How do I live a happy, meaningful, fulfilling life?
How can I be a good person?

Approach life as a banquet, Epictetus advises.

Think of your life as if were a banquet where you would behave graciously. When dishes are passed to you, extend your hand and help yourself to a moderate portion. If a dish should pass you by, enjoy what is already on your plate. Or if a dish hasn’t been passed to you yet, patiently wait your turn… there is no need to yearn, envy, and grab. You will get your rightful portion when it is your time.

Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not... and once you learn to distinguish between the two inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.

Events don’t hurt us, only our attitude towards them does.

Don’t demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them to. Accept events as they actually happen. That way peace is possible.

Create your own merit.

Never depend on the admiration of others. Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source. There is no such thing as vicarious merit.

These are a few gems from the book - every page radiates simple implementable wisdom.

Whereas society regards professional achievement, wealth, power and fame as desirable and admirable, Epictetus views these as incidental and irrelevant to true happiness.
What matters most is what sort of life you are living; a life of virtue, caretaking the present moment.

Authentic happiness is always independent of external conditions…your happiness can be found within.

This captivating book has had a profound effect on me; my way of thinking and living, and motivated me to delve into the life and works of Epictetus in more detail and it was heartening to see the congruence and harmony of the teachings of Epictetus with Eastern philosophical wisdom and precepts.

I’m glad I bought this splendid book. It cost me only ninety five rupees and has given me great "return on investment".

Go down to your neighborhood bookstore and browse through it. I’m sure you will love to have a copy in your bookcase.

And you'll browse through it almost every day, again and again, and elevate yourself to a higher plane of living.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008





Unless time is managed properly, nothing worthwhile can be accomplished.

Time is unique resource. It is indispensable, intangible, irreplaceable, irretrievable and therefore invaluable. It is equitably and uniformly distributed.

A day of every one consists of 24 hours only, no more and no less.

Every piece of work requires time. Difficult tasks may require ample time; after all Rome was not built in a day.

Time does not obey the laws of ordinary arithmetic.

4 minutes today and 3 minutes tomorrow do not add up to 7 minutes at a stretch.

Time without energy has not much value; for instance, if one is seriously ill the time duration of illness is practically useless.

Time is money.

Costs are related to the passage of time, such as interest on capital.

Time is also a measure of effort.

Even a few minutes of time can be of critical importance.

Time lost is lost for ever and yet the easiest thing is to waste time.

We always tend to waste time and then regret that we are always short of time.

Time management is, therefore a vital aspect of management.

A Swiss gentleman summed up 65 years of his life as under:-

(a) Spent in bed - 26 years
(b) Spent in Office/at work - 20 years
(c) Spent in eating - 6 years
(d) Spent in waiting - 6 years
(e) Spent in anger - 6 years
(f) Spent in toilet, bathing, shaving,
laughing, scolding children, blowing
nose and lighting cigar - 1 year

(g) No time apparently spent in
thinking, planning or achieving goals

Modes of Time

There are two modes of time for every person:

(a) Either you have a very “busy” mind, effectively employing human resources like working, thinking, remembering, reading, writing, watching, discussing, listening etc., in short, fully utilizing your senses. Here you are very busy and involved.

(b) Or at the other extreme, you have an “empty” mind – for example, whilst waiting for a bus or train, waiting for a doctor or friend, when you do not get sleep or listening to a boring speech or attending infructuous meetings – activities in which you are not interested or mentally involved but perforce have to be physically present.

In the first case time flies – you would say – “Oh. My God! One hour has passed. I thought just about 5 minutes have gone by.”

In the second case, imagine you are waiting for a doctor, or your friend at a Cinema Hall or awaiting a train, which is running late, at the railway station. You look right, then left, then at your watch. You curse your friend or the train for not coming on time. It seems ages. When the much-delayed person or train arrives at last, you shout “Why are you late? I am cooling my heels for hours.” Whereas actually only three or four minutes may have passed.

For a Busy Mind: Time Flies.
For a Empty Mind: Time Crawls

Time Management

Time can be divided into three aspects for applying techniques of managing it:-

(a) Biological: Pertaining to bodily functions.
(b) Social: Pertaining to self, family and society.
(c) Professional: Pertaining to professional activities/time spent at work.

It is essential to maintain equilibrium between these three aspects. Any imbalance may prove to be detrimental to one’s physical and mental health and can adversely affect the individual in the long run.

It is essential, therefore, to allocate one’s time in balanced manner to the extent feasible to all these three aspects.

(a) Biological Time : Adopt the golden mean of moderation among:-
(i) Sleep
(ii) Food
(iii) Ablutions / Calls of nature
(iv) Sex / Recreation
(v) Physical Exercise

It is advantageous to establish regularity for all the above activities.

(b) Social Time : It is desirable to give time to yourself, your family and for society and the general guide lines are :

(i) Self development/self time – at least one hour per day should be kept for oneself for thinking, introspection, reading and other hobbies.

(ii) Family time – strong family ties and a happy domestic life are the foundations of success in both personal and professional life. One must spend some time with one’s family everyday and to co-ordinate activities of family members. Dinner time and after is suitable for this.

iii) Social time – in order to live in society, one has to attend various social events like weddings, religious functions etc., where one is not the master of one’s own time. Social obligations may entail a substantial portion of time.

(c) Professional Time : In this aspect, if one is working, one does not really have a choice as working hours are generally fixed. The aim here is to optimally utilize the available time for maximum output/productivity and self satisfaction. It is, therefore, essential to plan one’s work and that of the subordinates in an efficient manner and also identify “Time Wasters” and make efforts to eliminate/reduce them. Examples of Time Wasters are –

(i) Infructuous meetings.
(ii) Poor communication [including unnecessary mobile phone calls].
(iii) Unwanted visitors
(iv) Disorganized work due to lack of clear cut priorities, “Fire Fighting”/Crisis Management, duplication of effort, confused responsibility and authority, ineffective delegation, indecision and, in general, failure of Management of Work.

The basic cause of time wastage at work can be classified as follows:-

(a) Over-staffing is common cause of wastage of time. Since most of the people do not have clearly defined work for the whole day, they often obstruct each other and create unnecessary problems. According to Peter Drucker – “If a Manager or Supervisor is spending more than 1/10th of his time on human relations, on disputes and quarrels, it is clear indication of over-staffing”.

(b) Time is wasted on account of faulty organization of work. Work is not planned sufficiently in advance.

(c) There is enormous wastage of time and effort due to various meetings often at various locations, which are not properly directed and drag on interminably.

(d) Time is often wasted because the relevant information is not readily available or the information available is inaccurate. Similarly collection, storage and dissemination of unnecessary information is wasteful.

Though one has to evolve one’s own technique of time management depending on the circumstances, the three cardinal principles are –

(a) Span of Attention
(b) Provision of time in adequate chunks.
(c) Concentration.

(a) Span of Attention : There is a natural limit to how long one can concentrate on a particular activity or task. This is called span of attention. For example – One cannot obviously work continuously for a long duration without loosing effectiveness. Working beyond one’s span of attention becomes counter-productive. Work begins to suffer badly. In planning work, this requirement must always be kept in view.

(b) Provisions of time in adequate chunks : If any important work is to be done, time must be made available in sufficiently large chunks. For example – If a job takes 20 minutes, it is of no use to allocate time at the rate of 5 minutes a day for 4 days. Time used in such driblets is utterly wasted. For important work one requires sufficient time at a stretch.

(c) Concentration: Concentration is essential for effective utilization of time. This as a matter of practice is necessary to avoid all interruptions. It is also necessary to focus attention on one task at a time.


Time Management is essentially a matter of self-discipline, though it is affected by external factors. The aim should be to identify and minimize both internal and external Time Wasters to the extent feasible. One has to cultivate the art of enjoying both essential work and leisure. It is essential to maintain equilibrium between biological, social and professional time for improving one’s effectiveness.

In short: Time T = X + Y + Z,where X = hard work; Y = play or rest; Z = keeping one’s mouth shut i.e. “Silence” for “Introspection”.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2008
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work







Many years ago, at work, I used to employ a Management Technique called Force Field Analysis in Project Management.

Now I improvise the Force Field Analysis Model to great effect and success, in my personal life too for self improvement, to break bad habits – to change my life for the better.

So can you. Let me give you an example.

I remember that evening clearly. It was a tough and stressful working day.

It was hot and humid, I was tired, sweating profusely, my throat parched with thirst, and as I walked home late in the evening, I found myself opposite my favourite bar.

I looked yearningly, tempted, overcome by a strong craving, desperate to have a glass of chilled beer.

Nothing like a glass of cold beer to drive my blues away – the “panacea” to my “stressed-out” state!

But I did not go into the bar.

Instead, I rushed to the nearest Chaat-wala and had some pani-puri [gol-gappa].

The moment I put the first pani-puri in my mouth, the intense overpowering medley of sweet and sour, pungently hot, fiery and spicy flavor of the chutneys, jal jeera and “pani” overwhelmed me and made my craving thirst and longing for beer disappear pretty fast and enabled me to stick my resolve of giving up drinking.

I had suitably improvised the concept of “Force Field Analysis” to break my drinking habit and then keep it that way.

Long back, I had quit smoking too, and to stay that way, make sure I didn’t start again, I used force field analysis with great success.

Force Field Analysis provides a framework for looking at the factors or forces that influence a situation or activity.

Restraining Forces are those which inhibit or discourage the occurrence of a particular activity and Driving Forces are those which promote, facilitate and encourage the occurrence of the same activity.

In case you are familiar with NLP terminology, let’s say Driving Forces are positive anchors and Restraining Forces are negative anchors.

Let’s take the case of drinking.

Sit down, close your eyes, and introspect.

Can you identify the stimuli, the triggers, and the situations, the driving forces, which create in you the desire, the urge, the craving to drink?

These driving forces can be anything, internal and external, tangible or intangible – people, situations, events, parties, tendencies, moods, foods, social, cultural or organizational trends, practices, traditions, norms.

Do a simple exercise.

For the next week, or even a month, be yourself, live as you do, but mindfully record all the occasions on which you had alcohol and carefully list the driving forces that motivated you to drink.

What motivated you to have that drink?

Was it a social event, party, friends, as an aperitif before some gourmet food, amplifying the pleasure of smoking, dancing, “creativity”, for reducing inhibitions or enhancing excitement as a prelude to sex, tiredness, happiness, celebration, depression, boredom, the company or memories of some people, sad memories, self pity, jealousy, inner craving, addiction…?

Do it thoughtfully, record all driving forces meticulously and make an exhaustive list of the driving forces.

Now make a list of restraining forces that discourage, dissuade or inhibit you from drinking.

Concern for health?

Wife’s nagging?

Physical Exercise?

Values, religious and cultural taboos, regulations like prohibition and no drinking zones, work and hobbies, conservative environment, social encouragement of temperance?

Some types of foods too are effective restraining forces as far as alcohol is concerned [for me, pani-puri, bhel, jal jeera, lassi are quite effective. Also I lose the urge to drink after a good hearty satiating meal].

Be aware, live mindfully, observe yourself and record the restraining forces to drinking meticulously.

Now it is simple to quit drinking – all you have to do to quit drinking is to strengthen the restraining forces and mitigate and weaken the driving forces and most importantly, where possible, change direction of some driving forces and convert them into restraining forces by using techniques from concepts like NLP, 4T etc or, best of all, your own improvised techniques [like the “in lieu substitution method” I have evolved for myself – some alternate activity to substitute drinking, like exercise, reading, writing, outdoor activities, family time, playing with pets, taking your dog for a walk – something creative and positive to do during your erstwhile “drinking time”].

Learn how to tactfully and effectively avoid drinking.

Suppose your friends try to force you, apply peer pressure, taunt you saying you are a sissy, spoil sport etc. simply say, "I really must go," and leave the place.

Remember what Epictetus said: If you want to do something make a habit of it; if you want not to do something refrain from doing it.

I’ve also read somewhere: If want to be happily married, remain in the company of happily married people.

Always be with likeminded people whom you want to emulate.

If you want to stop drinking try to be in the company of non-drinkers.

Yes, you may have to change your friends too.

Avoid situations which elicit craving.

Substitute healthy activities like physical exercise, recreation and creative hobbies instead of drinking.

Change your lifestyle, your friends, your activities, and your environment.

You will have to change your daily routine too if you are serious and committed to quitting drinking.

Identify your stimuli, triggers, situations, people and anchors, internal and external, tangible and intangible – the driving forces that create in you the urge to have a drink and facilitate drinking and mitigate them by improvising force field analysis as it suits you best.

Try it, and you will succeed. It is easy to quit drinking the Force Field Analysis way. You can take my word for it.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2008
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work

Monday, December 15, 2008

Philosophical Approach to Training Design




I’ve been in Training Design for years in multifarious situations and requirements and I feel that the first step in designing a training programme is to mull over and decide as to which Training Philosophy, the Confucian or the Zen, is aptly relevant in the particular situation.

In the Confucian Training Philosophy the Aim of Training is to Qualify the Trainee for a more important job.

In other words, Training is inextricably linked with Career Advancement, and since Training is for promotion, successful completion of the training programme creates expectations in the mind of the trainee, and if the training is not followed by promotion or career advancement quickly enough, non-realization of expectations may create frustration and resentment in the trainee.

In the Zen Training Philosophy the Purpose of Training is Continuous Improvement in Performance.

The aim is to improve present performance by focusing on excellence in work and self-development, strengthening the inner urge and enhancing requisite skills for work-excellence and job-satisfaction without the trainee expecting any tangible material or career advancement returns.

The Training Designer, Training Implementors and Trainees must be clear about the Training Philosophy and Purpose and Aim of the Training Programme prior to the conduct of the course in order to obviate ambiguity and to reap optimal Return on Investment [ROI] from the training.

And of course, if you don’t believe in formal training programmes, there is always the good old time tested training philosophy which is breathtaking in its simplicity: “Entrust a man with responsibility and then tell him to get on with the job!”

It always works. You can take my word for it.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Your Smile and Your Laugh




While I was clearing up some old papers in my bookcase, I came across some jottings in an old diary I had made more than thirty years ago probably while sitting in my university library.

I had scribbled something about types of smiles and laughter.

Your smile (and your laugh) is like your signature – your very own personal imprint, password or signal.

Now I want you to keep a mirror in front of you and practice each of the types of smiles described below, and have a laugh.

Don’t you want to know which type of smile and laugh suits you best?

Come on, get ready, and check it out, and tell us which type of “smiler” and “laugher” you are.


Lip smilers – Smile only with their lips.

Cheesy smilers – Smile with their teeth

Twinkle smilers – Smile and Laugh with their dancing eyes

Sweet smilers – Exercise their chubby cheeks

Wry smilers – Know something you don’t

Tee-Hee smilers – Smile with their necks

Body smilers – Smile wholeheartedly with their whole body

And of course you’ve seen the fake, contrived smiles of forced geniality.


Hearty Laughter – All heart

Belly Laughter – Body, belly and heart

Seal Laughter – Barking, high pitch, like a seal

Guffaw – Clearing one’s lungs and windpipe

Giggle – silly, embarrassed laugh

Titter, Snigger, Snicker – mocking laughter

Chuckle – A quiet laugh to yourself

Chortle – Gurgling laughter

We also have a burst of laughter, rolling with laughter, horse laugh, laughing up one’s sleeve (a secret somewhere), and laughing one’s head off.

I am sure there are many more types of smiles and laughter, so Dear Smilers and Laughers, do tell us all you have observed.

I wonder if one’s personality and character is related to the way a person smiles or laughs?

And would someone please tell me what is: “to smile like a Cheshire Cat” for I have never seen a cat smile [Dogs do smile though!]


Friday, December 12, 2008

Alma Mater Memories of ITBHU Days

Alma Mater Memories - ITBHU Days


Vikram Waman Karve

The class of 1972, who graduated in1977, the first IIT-JEE batch, had organized a reunion at our alma mater, ITBHU, Varanasi, in the first week of January 2008. I had planned to go, but couldn’t make it, owing to a sudden unexpected job relocation. I’m sure all my classmates who were there revived fond memories of our student life at Banaras, so here is my nostalgic piece on my alma mater.

ITBHU [Erstwhile BENCO – Banaras Engineering College]
Institute of Technology
Banaras Hindu University

Let’s begin with the college song

IT BHU Chorus









Composed by:
Prof. Charles. A. King
The First Principal of the
Banaras Engineering College (BENCO)

On what basis do you judge an educational institution – an Engineering College or a B-School? In today’s world there is just one criterion – market value – the starting salaries and campus placement the students get – the more outrageously astronomical the pay packets, and the greater the percentage of lucrative campus placements – the better the institution. And with the increasing commercialization of education, many institutes blatantly compete, advertise, and focus on these materialistic aspects to attract students – it’s a rat race.

I feel the cardinal yardstick for appraising the true merit of an educational institution is the value-addition it instills in its alumni – and I’m not talking of utility and materialistic values alone; but more importantly the inculcation and enhancement of intrinsic and intangible higher values. The student should feel he or she has changed for the better, professionally and personally; and so should other stakeholders observing the student from the outside be able to discern the value enhancement.

I studied for my B.Tech. in Electronics Engineering at ITBHU from 1972 to 1977 (first batch IIT JEE) and I experienced the well-rounded value addition I have mentioned above. Later in life, being academically inclined, I continued studying, completed many courses, a Post Graduate Diploma in Management, an Engineering and Technology Post Graduation [M.Tech.] at a premier IIT, worked in multifarious capacities and even taught for many years at prestigious academic institutions of higher learning, but I shall always cherish my days at ITBHU the most. I knew I was a better man, in my entirety, having passed through the portals of ITBHU, and I’m sure those scrutinizing me from the outside felt the same way.

ITBHU was amalgamated by integrating three of the country’s oldest and best engineering colleges: BENCO (Banaras Engineering College) – the first in the Orient, and certainly in India, to introduce the disciplines of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, MINMET – the pioneer in Mining and Metallurgy in India, and College of Technology – the first to start Chemical and Ceramic Engineering. Indeed these three institutions were the harbingers of industrialization in our country.

In my time ITBHU was indeed a center of excellence, an apt institution to study in, and a lovely place to live in. The vast verdant lush green semi-circular campus at the southern end of Varanasi, the largest university campus I have ever seen, with its pleasant and relaxed atmosphere was ideal for student life. And being a part of a premier university afforded one a consummate multidisciplinary experience.

It was a delightful and fulfilling experience I will always cherish – learning from erudite and totally dedicated Professors, who were authorities in their fields of specialization, amidst excellent academic facilities and ambience, elaborate labs and workshops, lush green campus, well-designed comfortable hostels, delicious food, expansive sports fields and facilities for all types of sports, the beautiful swimming pool, the unique well-stocked and intellectually inspiring Gaekwad library, and the exquisite temple that added a spiritual dimension to the scholarly ambiance. One could learn heritage and foreign languages, fine arts, music, indology, philosophy, yoga, pursue hobbies like numismatics – the avenues for learning were mind-boggling. So many of us learnt music and foreign languages at this sanctum of learning. The idyllic environs of BHU helped one develop a philosophical attitude to life.

Like all premier institutes ITBHU was fully residential, which fostered camaraderie and facilitated lifelong friendships amongst the alumni. I can never forget those delightful moments in Dhanrajgiri, Morvi, Vishwakarma, Vishveswarayya and CV Raman hostels, mouthwatering memories of the Lavang Lata and Lassi at Pehelwan’s in Lanka, the Lal Peda opposite Sankat Mochan, and the delicious wholesome cuisine of the city, and the cycle trips all over Varanasi, Sarnath, and even across the holy and sacred Ganga on the pontoon bridge to watch the Ram Lila at Ramnagar.

Way back then, in the nineteen seventies, ITBHU was a wonderful place to study engineering and live one’s formative years in. I wonder what my dear alma mater is like now!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve - His Life and Work

Bharat Ratna Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve - Story of his Life.

In my own small way I wish to present a review of biographical literature on Maharshi Karve in order to enable readers [especially the students and alumni of educational institutions who owe their very genesis to Maharshi Karve like the SNDT University and the numerous and multifarious women’s schools and colleges under the aegis of the Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Samstha] get an insight into the life and work of this great social reformer whose ceaseless efforts played a cardinal role in transforming the destiny of the Indian woman.

I have before me three books on Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve:

(i) His autobiography titled ‘Looking Back’ published in 1936.

(ii) Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar published in 1958 by Popular Prakashan Bombay (Mumbai)

(iii) Maharshi Karve – His 105 Years published on 18 April 1963 ( His 106th birth anniversary) by Hingne Stree Shiksan Samstha Poona (Pune)

Allow me to tell you, Dear Reader, a bit about these books which describe the life and times of Maharshi Karve and tell us about the monumental pioneering work of one of the foremost social and educational reformers of India.

It would be apt to start with his autobiography – Looking Back, and let Maharshi Karve describe his life and work from his own point of view in his simple yet fascinating style. I am placing below a Book Review of his autobiography (which I had reviewed a few months ago) for your perusal:

Book Review of The Autobiography of Maharshi Karve: “Looking Back” by Dhondo Keshav Karve (1936)

Dear Reader, you must be wondering why I am reviewing an autobiography written in 1936. Well, till recently I stayed on Maharshi Karve Road in Mumbai. I share the same surname as the author. Also, I happen to be the great grandson of Maharshi Karve. But, beyond that, compared to him I am a nobody – not even a pygmy.

Maharshi Karve clearly knew his goal, persisted ceaselessly throughout his life with missionary zeal and transformed the destiny of the Indian Woman. The first university for women in India - The SNDT University and educational institutions for women covering the entire spectrum ranging from pre-primary schools to post-graduate, engineering, vocational and professional colleges bear eloquent testimony to his indomitable spirit, untiring perseverance and determined efforts.

In his preface, Frederick J Gould, renowned rationalist and lecturer on Ethics, writes that “the narrative is a parable of his career” – a most apt description of the autobiography. The author tells his life-story in a simple straightforward manner, with remarkable candour and humility; resulting in a narrative which is friendly, interesting and readable.

Autobiographies are sometimes voluminous tomes, but this a small book, 200 pages, and a very easy comfortable enjoyable read that makes it almost unputdownable.

Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve writes a crisp, flowing narrative of his life, interspersed with his views and anecdotes, in simple, straightforward style which facilitates the reader to visualize through the author’s eyes the places, period, people and events pertaining to his life and times and the trials and tribulations he faced and struggled to conquer.

Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve was born on 18th of April 1858. In the first few chapters he writes about Murud, his native place in Konkan, Maharashtra, his ancestry and his early life– the description is so vivid that you can clearly “see” through the author’s eye.

His struggle to appear in the public service examination (walking 110 miles in torrential rain and difficult terrain to Satara) and his shattering disappointment at not being allowed to appear for the examination (because “he looked too young”) make poignant reading.

“Many undreamt of things have happened in my life and given a different turn to my career” he writes, and then goes on to describe his high school and, later, college education at The Wilson College Bombay (Mumbai) narrating various incidents that convinced him of the role of destiny and serendipity in shaping his life and career as a teacher and then Professor of Mathematics.

He married at the age of fourteen but began his marital life at the age of twenty! This was the custom of those days. Let’s read the author’s own words on his domestic life: “… I was married at the age of fourteen and my wife was then eight. Her family lived very near to ours and we knew each other very well and had often played together. However after marriage we had to forget our old relation as playmates and to behave as strangers, often looking toward each other but never standing together to exchange words…. We had to communicate with each other through my sister…… My marital life began under the parental roof at Murud when I was twenty…” Their domestic bliss was short lived as his wife died after a few years leaving behind a son… “Thus ended the first part of my domestic life”… he concludes in crisp witty style.

An incident highlighting the plight of a widow left an indelible impression on him and germinated in him the idea of widow remarriage. He married Godubai, who was widowed when she was only eight years old, was a sister of his friend Mr. Joshi, and now twenty three was studying at Pandita Ramabai’s Sharada Sadan as its first widow student.

Let’s read in the author’s own words how he asked for her hand in marriage to her father – “I told him…..I had made up my mind to marry a widow. He sat silent for a minute and then hinted that there was no need to go in search of such a bride”.

He describes in detail the ostracism he faced from some orthodox quarters and systematically enunciates his life work - his organization of the Widow Marriage Association, Hindu Widows Home, Mahila Vidyalaya, Nishkama Karma Math, and other institutions, culminating in the birth of the first Indian Women’s University (SNDT University).

The trials and tribulations he faced in his life-work of emancipation of education of women (widows in particular) and how he overcame them by his persistent steadfast endeavours and indomitable spirit makes illuminating reading and underlines the fact that Dr. DK Karve was no arm-chair social reformer but a person devoted to achieve his dreams on the ground in reality.

These chapters form the meat of the book and make compelling reading. His dedication and meticulousness is evident in the appendices where he has given date-wise details of his engagements and subscriptions down to the paisa for his educational institutions from various places he visited around the world to propagate their cause.

He then describes his world tour, at the ripe age of 71, to meet eminent educationists to propagate the cause of the Women’s University, his later domestic life and ends with a few of his views and ideas for posterity. At the end of the book, concluding his autobiography, he writes: “Here ends the story of my life. I hope this simple story will serve some useful purpose”.

Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve wrote this book in 1936. He lived on till the 9th of November 1962, achieving so much more on the way, and was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters ( D.Litt.) by the famous and prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1942, followed by University of Poona [Pune] in 1951, SNDT Women’s University in 1955, and the LL.D. by Bombay [Mumbai] University in 1957.

Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve received the Padma Vibhushan in 1955 and the India’s highest honour the “Bharat Ratna” in 1958, a fitting tribute on his centenary at the glorious age of 100.

It is an engrossing and illuminating autobiography, written in simple witty readable storytelling style, and it clearly brings out the mammoth contribution of Maharshi Karve and the trials and tribulations he faced.


I (the reviewer) was born in 1956, and have fleeting memories of Maharshi Karve, during our visits to Hingne Stree Sikshan Samstha in 1961-62, as a small boy of 5 or 6 can.

My mother tells me that I featured in a Films Division documentary on him during his centenary celebrations in 1958 (I must have been barely two, maybe one and a half years old) and there is a photograph of him and his great grand children in which I feature.

It is from some old timers and other people and mainly from books that I learn of his pioneering work in transforming the destiny of the Indian Woman and I thought I should share this.

I have written this book review with the hope that some of us, particularly the students and alumni of SNDT University, Cummins College of Engineering for Women, SOFT, Karve Institute of Social Sciences and other educational institutions who owe their very genesis and existence to Maharshi Karve, read about his stellar pioneering work and draw inspiration from his autobiography.

Reviews of two biographical books on Maharshi Karve

As I have mentioned earlier, two other good books pertaining to the life of Maharshi Karve which I have read are:

Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar, Popular Prakashan (1958)


Maharshi Karve – His 105 years, Hingne Stree Shikshan Samstha (1963).

The biography ‘Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar’ was commissioned and published by the Dr. DK Karve Centenary Celebrations Committee on 18th April 1958 the birth-centenary of Dr. DK Karve. (Thousands attended the main function on 18th April 1958 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai which was addressed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister).

The author, GL Chandavarkar, then Principal of Ram Mohan English school, has extensively researched the life of Dr. DK Karve, by personal interaction with the great man himself, reminiscences of his Professors, colleagues and students, and his two writings Looking back and Atma-Vritta.

The author acknowledges with humility: “This is the story of the life of a simple man who has risen to greatness without being aware of it in the least. It is being told by one who can make no claim to being a writer” - and then he lucidly narrates the story of Maharshi Karve’s life in four parts comprising twenty four chapters in simple narrative style.

Part I, comprising eight chapters, covers the early life of Dhondo Keshav Karve, from his birth to the defining moment in his life - his remarriage to Godubai who was widowed at the age of eight, within three months of her marriage, even before she knew what it was to be a wife.

The first chapter vividly depicts the life and culture of Murud and Konkan in a brilliantly picturesque manner and is a fascinating read.

The narrative then moves in a systematic manner encompassing the salient aspects of Maharshi Karve’s life till his birth centenary in 1958.

The biographer comprehensively cover Maharshi Karve’s marital and work life, but does not throw much light on his relationships with his four illustrious sons, who were well-known in their own respective fields of work.

The author avoids pontification and writes in friendly storytelling style which makes the book very interesting and readable, making it suitable for the young and old alike. I feel an epilogue covering the remaining years of his life would make the biography more complete.

There is a reference index at the end and I found this book to be quite a definitive biography which could serve as a source for knowledge and inspiration to readers interested in the life and work of Maharshi Karve.

The 233 page book was published by Popular Book Depot Mumbai in 1958 and I picked up a copy priced at rupees forty at the International Book Service at Deccan Gymkhana in Pune a few years ago.

Maharshi Karve – His 105 Years, published on his 106th birth anniversary, is a pictorial album depicting the life and activities of Maharshi Karve. In today’s parlance it may be called a ‘coffee table’ book, but it is a memorable reference book of lasting souvenir value which is a must for every library. The chronologically arranged sketches, photographs and captions tell Maharshi Karve’s life-story in a seamless manner. There are photographs of historical, heritage and sentimental value highlighting important milestones in his life and work. [If you want to see my picture, turn to page 98 and have a look at the small boy holding Maharshi Karve’s hands and looking at the camera. I may have been just one and a half years old then and barely able to stand!].

This book is indeed a ‘collector’s item’ and was priced at a princely sum of rupees ten at the time of publication.

If you wish to learn more about Maharshi Karve and draw inspiration from his life and work, do read these three books. And please do let us know if you come across literature on the life and work of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve.


Life Story of Anandibai Karve - Maze Puran [Marathi]

Maze Puran - The Memoirs of Anandibai Karve



Anandibai Karve

(Published 1944, 2nd Edition 1951 by Keshav Bhikaji Davale, Mumbai)

I have before me a fascinating little book titled Maze Puran – the memoirs of Anandibai Karve, the wife of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve, written in Marathi.

This autobiography, originally published in 1944, and revised by Kaveri Karve, Anandibai’s daughter-in-law, in 1951, is a story of extraordinary grit, determination, courage, resilience, sacrifice and optimism in the face of adversities shown by Anandibai Karve in facing and overcoming the trials and tribulations of early widowhood, and her subsequent marriage, pioneering work and intrepid life with the well-known 19th-century Maharastrian social reformer Bharat Ratna Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve.

I had earlier written about three books pertaining to the life and times of Maharshi Karve and have given the links below at the end of this article. Please do read it.

This is not a voluminous tome, as some memoirs tend to be, but a small book written in unpretentious yet articulate storytelling style which keeps you engrossed till the very end.

Anandibai Karve writes in simple sincere readable style with sincerity, honest forthrightness and remarkable candour.

This is particularly evident in the chapter on her illustrious husband where she describes his personality, character, strengths, frailties, and their marital, domestic and familial relationship with frank candidness without mincing words.
The story of her early life is indeed heart rending – married at the age of eight to a widower twenty years older than her, she became a widow just three months after her marriage and had to endure the humiliating social prejudice and difficult life of a child-widow.

She vividly describes the turning point in her life when she joined Sharda Sadan of Pandita Ramabai in Mumbai, which began her emancipation from the manacles of widowhood. During his visits to Mumbai her father used to stay with Dhondo Keshav Karve. She narrates, with a touch of subtle humour, how Karve, a widower, when queried about remarriage, expressed his desire to marry a widow, and Anandibai’s father offered her hand in marriage to Karve.

She unfolds the story of her social work and family life in such a lucid precise down-to-earth manner, sans pontification, that keeps the reader riveted till the very end. Her poignant end is depicted by Kaveri Karve in the last chapter.

If you know Marathi, read the book. It is interesting and illuminating. I hope the publishers or the Hingne Stree Shikshan Samstha brings out an English translation soon for the benefit of readers throughout the world.

Do follow the links below to know more about books on the life and times of Maharshi Karve, or see my post on this blog.

And, Dear Reader, if you come across any literature on Maharshi Karve please be so good as to let us know.

Click the link to know more about books on Maharshi Karve


Wednesday, December 10, 2008



[A Story]



I will tell you a story.

You tell me the moral of the story.

Here is the story:

Once there lived a Goat – an ordinary looking goat who lived wild in the mountains.

One day while grazing in the forest, the goat saw a Giraffe, and the goat said to himself, “I wish my neck was as long as the giraffe.”

Lo and Behold! The goat’s neck suddenly became as long as the giraffe’s.

Delighted, that he could now see far and wide, the goat saw an eagle flying high in the sky.

“I wish I had wings like that eagle,” wished the goat; and instantaneously, wings appeared on the goat’s body.

Thrilled, the goat flapped its newly acquired wings, when he suddenly he spotted a tortoise.

The goat admired the beautiful hard shell of the tortoise, and said to himself, “I wish I had a strong hard invincible body like the shell of the tortoise,” and instantly his wish was granted – the goat’s back turned into the shell of a tortoise.

The goat felt ecstatic and impregnable, till he suddenly saw a Cheetah speeding across the horizon running at high speed.

“I wish I had legs like the Cheetah,” the goat wished, and miracle of miracles, the goat’s legs immediately became like the Cheetah.

Now the goat was truly overjoyed, on cloud nine, till he saw the enchanting sight of a beautiful peacock with majestic feathers dancing magnificently.

“I wish I had gorgeous feathers like the peacock,” he wished, and in a jiffy the goat’s wish was granted, and the goat now had dazzling copious plume of colourful feathers.

Adorned with the neck of the giraffe, the wings of the eagle, the shell of the tortoise, the legs of the Cheetah and the feathers of the peacock, the Goat felt jubilant, supreme, regal, on top of the world, and strutted around grandiosely in majestic pride.

A Hunter passing by suddenly saw this unique stunning creature, marvelled for a moment as he couldn’t believe his eyes, he gawked spellbound at the “Goat” for some time, recovered his wits and decided to capture this exotic priceless gem.

So the hunter cast his net, caught the “Goat” and sold this amazing never-seen-before one-of-its-kind exclusive creature at an astronomical price to the zoo.

Large crowds gathered at the zoo, and everyone gaped in awe at this astonishing exotic creature.

The “Goat” spent the rest of its life in captivity, weeping and crying, wondering why even the other goats wandering about freely and unnoticed in the zoo gardens did not recognize him.

I’ve told you the story; now you tell me the moral of the story.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2008
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Life Enlightened

Book Review

Swami Rama: Selected Poems
An Insight on Life Enlightened
Compiled & Translated by Shakuntala Bodas
Published New Delhi 2007

My indefatigable aunt Shakuntala Bodas, an ardent and committed devotee of Swami Rama, has authored a number of books in English, Hindi and Marathi on the life and his teachings of Swami Rama.

Of all her books, my favourite is Swami Rama : Selected Poems - An Insight on Life Enlightened compiled & translated by Shakuntala Bodas.

Pessimism or disappointment is living death
So please do not allow it entrance into your mind
Keep your body, mind, and energy filled
With enthusiasm, coupled with peace and balanced mind.

This is an excerpt from the poem titled The Secret of a Happy Life.

Poetry, breathtaking in its simplicity, expressing clear thoughts and delivering precise message – that is the beauty of the poems in this compilation.

The book has a large number of simple evocative poems; each one will touch your soul in some way or the other.

The sincere devotion, earnest zeal and erudition of the author are evident in the free-hand translations, and as one absorbs the delightful poems, one does experience a sense of sublime joy.

At the beginning of the book, Shakuntala Bodas explains the background, reasons for writing this book, and recounts the life story of Swami Rama. Her effortless, attractive writing style makes this book a delight to read.

Dear Reader, doesn’t matter whether you are spiritually inclined or not, get a copy of this book, carry it with you, open a page at random, read a poem, and you will feel inspired and spiritually elated.

[Reviewed by VIKRAM KARVE]

Book Review - Embedded System Design

Book: Embedded System Design - A Unified Hardware / Software Introduction
Authors: Frank Vahid, Tony Givargis
Publication: John Wiley and Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, Singapore, 2002
ISBN 9971-51-405-2
Pages: 324.

[Reviewed by Prachi A. Deshmukh]

Once, there was a conversation going on between three ladies. They were discussing on something very seriously. Each of them was telling her own experience and others were listening to the speaker very carefully. They were neither discussing about some TV serial, nor about the latest fashions. Their topic was regarding cooking. (But they were not discussing culinary recipes!). The three ladies were from three different generations – the first an 80 years old Granny, the second her 56 years old mother and the third the 28 years old daughter. They were discussing how the kitchen has been changed. Conclusion of their discussion was that, now cooking is a task of few minutes. Mixer, food processor, microwave oven, dishwasher etc. are there waiting for your orders!

Not only in kitchen, but everywhere one can see things are becoming easier and simpler. Those who are born after 1980s can experience the changes happening around themselves. Now there is no need to make your hands panic by washing the clothes. Washing machine will do it for you!
Do you want to listen to music of your choice? An MP3 player can store thousands of songs of your choice. If you want to convert your beautiful moments into sweet memories, then digital camera is there for your help.

Are you planning to go for shopping? No need to carry money with you. Credit card will maintain your account.

All these examples look unrelated to each others, but there is some relation in them. ATM, barcode scanner, cell-phone, digital camera, fax machine, home alarm system all are totally different from each others but they do have one thing common in them. All of them are embedded systems. Now the question arises ’What does an embedded system actually mean?’

In simple words, Embedded System is a computing system which does a specifically focused job. It’s nearly any computing system other than a desktop computer. We can not be unaware of it because embedded systems are part of our day to day life. We find them almost everywhere.

That’s why one must study about embedded systems, especially if you are aspiring to be an Electronics, Communications, Computer Engineer or IT Professional. For those who really want to know about embedded systems, a good book to start off with is ‘Embedded System Design- A Unified Hardware/ software Introduction ’ by Frank Vahid and Tony Givargis.

The book is actually an introductory book which makes us familiar with the basics of embedded systems, the hardware for them, the software, peripherals, memory and interfacing. This book is also helpful for those students who are going to take more specialized courses. To understand this book one needs the basic knowledge of electronics, flowcharts and algorithms.

The book shows its usefulness and applications starting from the cover itself. The picture on the cover shows all the applications in our day-to-day life which we find in home as well as outside our homes. A simple picture tells us how important to study the embedded systems.

The content in the book is divided into 11 Chapters. The first chapter introduces us with the basics of embedded systems. We become familiar with the Optimizing Design Metrics, processor technology, IC technology, design technology and trade offs.

In second chapter we learn about custom single purpose processors: Hardware. We learn about the combinational logic, sequential logic, custom single purpose processor design, RT level custom single purpose processor Design and the optimizing custom single purpose processors. If the reader knows about the transistors, logic gates and flowcharts then it will be easier to understand this chapter.

In third chapter the authors introduce us with the General Purpose Processors: Software. Here we learn the basic architecture of the general purpose processor, its operation, developing environment, ASIPs, General Purpose processor Design and about the selection of a processor.

In fourth chapter we study the Peripherals of standard Single-Purpose Processors like Timer, Counters, Watchdog Timers, UART, PWM, LCD controllers, Keypad controllers, Stepper motor controllers, ADC and RTC.

There are different types of memory like ROM, PROM, OTOROM, EPROM, EEPROM, FRAM, RAM, SRAMDRAM, PSRAM NVRAM etc. We learn different types of memories as well as cache memory and MMU in the fifth chapter.

In sixth chapter we study the different types of interfacings to the processors as well as arbitration, multiple Bus architectures and advanced communication principles. Here we come to know about the different types of protocols.

Digital camera is an important and interesting example of embedded systems. In seventh chapter this example is explained very briefly. Here we learn about the requirements as well as the design of an embedded system very detail. Chapter no 8 and 9 are about the state machine and concurrent process models as well as the control systems.

Chapter 10 introduces us with the IC technology. Here we learn about the VLSI IC technology, ASIC IC technology and PLD IC technology. This chapter teaches about the IC technologies briefly.

In last chapter of the book, chapter 11 we learn about the techniques like Automation, Verification, Reuse, Design Process Models. At the end of this chapter we find the book summary. It gives us summary of the entire book in few words.

In appendix A the website is given which includes important information regarding the embedded systems. Also included are chapter wise lab resources. As embedded system is combination of both- hardware and software, it is very important to perform the practical experiments to understand the concepts.

This book is not just a simple basic book but is adequate for a complete course in embedded systems. The authors have maintained a smooth flow throughout the book. The language is easy to understand. One special feature of this edition of the book is that it has been designed specially for the students in developing countries.

An ideal textbook, this book may prove even more useful to understand the importance of embedded systems if some more applications of embedded systems were illustrated. Maybe further editions can be made more attractive by adding the photographs of the examples of embedded systems.

The summary at the end of every chapter give the important part of each chapter in brief. The review questions are helpful to prepare for the subject. The References and further reading are useful for those interested in a more detailed study of the subject.

We feel that this book may be extremely useful for students, engineers, technologists and professionals interested in the fascinating field of Embedded Systems.