Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Peter Prescription


Prescriptions on How To Remain Creative and Competent

(Reviewed by VIKRAM KARVE)

Title: The Peter Prescription
Author: Dr. Laurence J. Peter
Published: 1972 (William Morrow)

The hot weather gives me the golden opportunity to dust off my favourite books from my bookshelves, sit in cool comfort and re-read these lovely books sipping chilled ice-cool lemonade.

I have realized that re-reading good books gives me even greater pleasure.

So that’s what I’m going to do for the next few days – browse my bookshelves, re-read some of my favourite books, and tell you about them.

During my engineering college days, in the 1970’s, I read three non fiction books which had a lasting impact on me.

The first was Parkinson’s Law (written in 1958) based on the author’s study of the British Civil Service and Admiralty.

The other two books were written by Dr. Laurence J. Peter – The Peter Principle (1969) and The Peter Prescription (1972).

These three Management Classics are a must for the bookshelves of every manager.

Written with incisive wit, Parkinson’s Law is a seminal book on the workings of bureaucracy which is essential reading for any student of Management.

It is consummate management classic, a masterpiece, which is a “must read” for every manager and management student.

The Peter Principle, a delightful read, provides a superb insight and intriguing study of hierarchiology.

If The Peter Principle is Dr. Peter’s seminal pioneering work, then The Peter Prescription is his definitive book, a wondeful all-time management classic.

If you have not read ‘The Peter Principle’, do read my review of the book, the previous post in my weblog right here.

Understanding ‘The Peter Principle’ is sine qua non, essential prerequisite reading, before you embark upon ‘The Peter Prescription’.

Whereas both Parkinson’s Law and The Peter Principle formulate and substantiate their respective theories, The Peter Prescription is a philosophical self-help treatise on how to achieve happiness in all aspects of life.

Written in his same hilarious inimitable style, Dr. Peter exhorts us to be creative, confident and competent by replacing mindless escalation with life-quality improvement.

The message of the book is in congruence with eastern philosophies which focus on inward enhancement rather than outward escalation.

In his introduction Dr. Peter states: “Many authors offer answers before they understand the questions…….. I understand the operation of the Peter Principle, and the remedies offered are the product of years of research……… prescriptions will lead to great personal fulfillment and joy of real accomplishment.”

The book, interspersed liberally with quotations and case studies, comprises three parts.

The first, titled Incompetence Treadmill explores why conventional solutions not only fail to alleviate the effects of the Peter Principle but may actually serve to escalate the problems.

His analysis of ‘marital incompetence’ is hilarious. A bachelor is a man who looks before he leaps – and then does not leaphe concludes.

With the flattening of hierarchies, I wonder whether, in today's world, there still exist any Professional Processionary Puppets – the organization-men.

It would be worthwhile to look dispassionately, from a distance, into your own organization for similarities to prototypes adorning bureaucracies of yesteryear in order to ascertain whether your own organisation is a modern state-of-the-art progressive one or a rigid hierarchy bound archaic organization heading for decay.

The meat of the book is in Part Two, titled ‘Protect your Competence’ which elucidate a total of 25 “prescriptions” on how to remain creative and competent throughout your working and personal life.

There are two things to aim at in life:

first, to get what you want;
and then to enjoy it.

The prescriptions, which are condensed wisdom of the ages, guide us on how to achieve this cardinal aim of life.

“The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness” Dr. Peter quotes with elan in this delightful book.

Competence is a system-governed factor – your competence is as viewed by your bosses (like beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, your competence lies in the eyes of your boss!) and thus the yardsticks of competence are governed by the HR policies in your organization.

Why is everyone around you so competitive?

Do the HR policies in your organization encourage competition, rat race and reward escalationary behaviour, and if so, what can you do about it?

Maybe you can find some answers by exploring the prescriptions.

Let’s have a look at Peter Prescription 3 – The Peter Panorama – which I have used to great effect, which comprises listing your satisfying activities, joyful experiences, pleasant reminiscences, and after introspection make a second list of those which are feasible to do regularly and then make sure you do them whenever feasible.

Enjoyable events begin to crowd out the unpleasant and you feel happy.

And, in the extreme, there are prescriptions like utter irrelevance – hilariously effective.

Do read, experiment, and try to imbibe the prescriptions in your professional and personal life, and experience the results for yourself.

Introspect, evolve a philosophy of life, fine tune the art of living, concentrate your efforts within your area of competence, and have an improved quality of life consisting of abiding competence and contentment.

If you cannot be happy here and now, you can never be happy.

Part Three of the book is written from the management perspective giving 42 “prescriptions” to Managers to contain and mitigate the effects of The Peter Principle in their domains and manage for competence.

It views The Peter Principle from a manager’s point of view, and assuming the manager himself is not a victim of the Peter Principle, offers valuable tips in the HR Management, particularly recruitment, promotion and selection.

Obviously, outsourcing wasn’t that prevalent way back then in the sixties and seventies, otherwise organizations may even have ‘outsourced’ incompetence. Isn’t it a brilliant idea to outsource incompetence? Maybe some are already doing it!

As stated in the introduction, the purpose of The Peter Prescription is to help you explore how you yourself can mitigate the effects of The Peter Principle by avoiding the final placement syndrome, and as a manager, it tells you how to keep your employees at their appropriate competence levels to achieve mutual optimal benefit.

First read and understand The Peter Principle.

And then apply to your own life The Peter Prescription and experience genuine personal fulfillment and joy of real accomplishment.


Book Review
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.





The Peter Principle

THE PETER PRINCIPLE - Why Things Always Go Wrong


(Reviewed by VIKRAM KARVE)

The Book: The Peter Principle

Authors: Dr. Laurence J. Peter & Raymond Hull

Published: 1969 William Morrow

I think there is a Chinese saying that it is a misfortune to read a good book too early in life. I think I read ‘The Peter Principle’ too early in life. And at that time, I being of an impressionable age, the book influenced me so much that I “rose” to my level of incompetence pretty fast, either unintentionally or by subconscious design.

I read ‘The Peter Principle’ in the early seventies, maybe sometime in 1972, when I was studying for my B. Tech. degree in Engineering, and even bought a personal copy of the book in 1974 (which I possess till this day) which, considering my financial status those days, was quite remarkable.

The book, written by Laurence J. Peter in collaboration with Raymond Hull, a management classic and masterpiece in the study of hierarchiology, is so fascinating, riveting and hilarious that once you start reading, it’s unputdownable.

In the first chapter itself, giving illustrative examples, the author establishes the Peter Principle: In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence and its corollary: In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent.

Dr. Peter writes in racy fictional style and as you read you experience a sense of verisimilitude and in your mind’s eye can see the Peter Principle operating in your very organization. That’s the way to savor the book, and imbibe its spirit – read an illustrative “case study” in the book and relate it to a parallel example in your organization.

He discusses cases which appear to be exceptions like percussive sublimation, lateral arabesque etc and demonstrates that the apparent exceptions are not exceptions. The Peter Principle applies in all hierarchies.

Discussing the comparative merits and demerits of applying ‘Pull’ versus ‘Push’ for getting promotion, Dr. Peter concludes: Never stand when you can sit; never walk when you can ride, never Push when you can Pull.

He then tells us how to recognize that one has reached one’s state of incompetence (final placement syndrome) and should one have already risen to one’s state of incompetence suggests ways of attaining health and happiness in this state at zero promotion quotient.

Towards the end of his book he illustrates how to avoid reaching the state of incompetence by practicing various techniques of Creative Incompetence. (I probably practiced Creative Incompetence quite competently and hopefully I am still at my level of competence!)

In conclusion Dr. Peter tries to briefly explore remedies to avoiding life-incompetence which he has elaborated in his follow up book ‘The Peter Prescription’ which is a must-read once you are hooked onto The Peter Principle.

The Peter Principle is a compelling book, written almost forty years ago, and with the flattening of hierarchy and advent of flexible organizational structures and HR practices, it would indeed be worthwhile for young and budding managers to read this book and see to what extent the Peter Principle applies and is relevant in today’s world.

Dear Reader, read The Peter Principle, then look around you in your workplace - Do you see the principle in operation?

And next, you must read THE PETER PRESCRIPTION - do read the book review right here in my blog.


Book Review
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.






Friday, March 27, 2009

Virtue Happiness Effectiveness

Art of Living made Simple

The Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness: Epictetus

[Book Review]


Vikram Karve

I have 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, published by HarperCollins in 1994, ISBN 0-06-251346-X.

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. Those were the glorious days, in the nineties, when I used to visit Bangalore very often. I ensured I stayed somewhere near MG Road, and spend 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 six years 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. Go down to your neighborhood bookstore and browse through it. I’m sure you will love to have a copy in your bookcase.

I am sure you will enrich your inner self every time your read this delightful book.







Monday, March 16, 2009

DISSERTATION - Part 2 - Reference Citations


Reference Citations

[ Citations, Footnotes, Endnotes, References, Bibliography ]



Art of Dissertation – Part 2 – Citations

Whenever you use any words, ideas or information from any source in your dissertation, you must cite and reference those sources to acknowledge the contributions of others in your dissertation work.


Reference Citations may be included in the following forms:

Footnote Referencing in the text at the foot or bottom of the page.
Endnote Referencing or Citation-Sequence System collated and listed chronologically at the end of the text.

Citations serve inter alia the following purposes:

Establish credibility of the research.
Enable assessment of the quality and timeliness of the research.
Acknowledge the contributions of others and sources of information in your dissertation work.
Provide identification of material used in your research or quoted in your dissertation report.
Facilitate inclusion of material of supplemental value.
Intellectual Honesty.

Referencing [Footnotes and Endnotes]

In your dissertation you can do referencing using either Footnotes or Endnotes.

A Footnote is a bottom-of-the-page citation, whereas Endnotes are collected at the either at the end of the dissertation or at the end of each chapter.

Footnotes and Endnotes serve the same purpose. However, they are two different systems, so be consistent and use one of the two methods throughout your dissertation.

The advantage of footnoting is that readers can simply cast their eyes down the page to discover the source of a reference which interests them, but now-a-days Endnotes [References] at the end of the dissertation seem to be preferred.

References are to be sequentially numbered throughout your dissertation starting with 1, indicating the relevant number [note identifier] at the end of the pertinent sentence in the text, superscripted, or in brackets, and amplified by the citation either at the bottom of the page [footnote] or at the end of the dissertation [endnote]. The citation should provide the following bibliographic information:

1. Author(s) surname(s), first name(s) or initials
2. Name of the article, book or journal
3. Editors (if applicable)
4. Publishers Name and Location
5. Volume and Issue Number or month of publication (in case of a journal)
6. Year published
7. ISBN (if applicable)
8. The exact page numbers if your reference is a direct quotation, a paraphrase, an idea, or is otherwise directly drawn from the source. [p – page, pp – pages]

Titles of publications should be italicised, article titles should be enclosed between single quotation marks, and commas must be used to separate each item of the citation and end with a full stop.



1. Wilson B, ‘Systems, Concepts, Methodologies and Applications’, John Wiley and Sons, USA, 1984, p 29

Journal [article]

2. Steiner CJ, ‘Educating for Innovation and Management’, IEEE Transactions on Education, Vol 41, No. 1, Feb 1998, pp 1-7

Conference Proceedings [paper]

3. Sriram S and Karve VW, ‘Systems Cybernetic Re-engineering for Empowering Human Performance: A Soft Systems Dynamics Approach’, Proceedings of the International Conference on Cognitive Systems, Dec 1998, pp 723 – 739.

Internet Citations must include:

1. Name(s) of Author (s) / Editor (s)
2. "Title of Article, Web page or site" in quotation marks.
3. Name of sponsor of site or Title of Journal
4. Date of article, of Web page or site creation and latest update.
5. Access date (the date you accessed the Web page or site).
6. Complete Uniform Resource Locator (URL) in angle brackets.


Karve VW, ‘Ethics, Values and Technology’, in Cognitive Systems Review, July 2008, viewed on 21 August 2008

Some Abbreviations in Referencing

ibid is used in consecutive references that refer to the same work, whether to the same or different pages.

Example: [the digits 1,2,3 are the footnote or reference numbers]

1. Karve V, ‘Appetite For A Stroll’, Cinnamon Teal, India, 2008, ISBN 9788190690096, p 15.

2. ibid [Please note that this refers only to page 15 of the above book and not to any other page of that book]

3. ibid, pp 29-34. [This still refers to Karve, but to pages 29-34]

op. cit. is used with non-consecutive references that refer to the same work but to different pages.

loc. cit is used with non-consecutive references that refer to the same work and to the same page or pages of that work.

Examples: [the digits 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 are footnote or reference numbers]

4. Senge P, ‘The Fifth Discipline’, Currency Doubleday, USA, pp 75-76.

5. Twiss BC, ‘Managing Technological Innovation’, Longman, UK, 1974, p 33

6. Senge, op. cit., pp 101-110 [Note that the footnote reference numbers to Senge are not consecutive and that different pages in his work are being cited].

7. Karve V, op. cit., pp 117-120. [Different pages of Karve (reference at serial 1 above) are being cited]

8. ibid [This refers to Karve, pp 117-120]

9. Twiss, loc.cit. [The reference is to Twiss page 33. Citation of any other page or pages would have entailed the use of op. cit, followed by the page number(s)]

When references are made to two or more books or papers of the same author, the abbreviations op.cit. and loc. cit. are not used in subsequent citations, in order to obviate confusion.

In referring to material contained in other pages of your own dissertation you may use the following abbreviations followed by the appropriate page number:

cf (confer) – compare
cf,ante (confer ante) – compare above
cf, post (confer post) – compare below
supra (above) – cross-reference to preceding matter
infra (below) – cross-reference to succeeding matter
et passim (and here and there) – matter referred is scattered in the dissertation


A bibliography should generally contain all the sources cited in the dissertation and any other important references [books, journals and internet websites] that you have consulted during your research or used in preparing your dissertation.

Systematically list the various sources of information consulted or used in your dissertation [books, journals, internet websites, previous research work / dissertations] separately in alphabetical order of authors’ surnames in the same style as references.

The distinction between references and bibliography is that whereas references [footnotes and endnotes] cite authority for specific statements, the bibliography gives descriptions of entire works.

If a reader wants to consult a work referred to in a footnote, he turns to the bibliography for a full description of that work.

[to be continued]


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.






DISSERTATION - Part 1 - Thesis Statement




Part 1 – Thesis Statement

I wrote a dissertation to earn my Masters Degree in Technology [M.Tech.] from IIT Delhi in 1983, and one more for my Post Graduation in Management in 1985.

Since then I have supervised and guided dissertations, more than 40, maybe 50, chiefly for Masters Degrees in Engineering and Technology [ME / M. Tech.].

Some students of mine thought it apt than I pen down a few tips on the art of dissertation, so here are I am, writing a few lines, on The Art of Dissertation.

In a nutshell, the Art of Dissertation comprises the following simple steps:

1. Select a dissertation topic in a subject that you are knowledgeable about.

2. Compose a thesis statement that only asks a single question.

3. Employ a research methodology process that is compatible with your dissertation study.

4. Present your data evaluation, analysis and interpretation in an accurate, succinct, logical, well-reasoned and lucid manner and write your dissertation report in a simple, coherent manner conforming to the prescribed style.

5. Conclude your dissertation by answering the thesis statement and, if pertinent, mention corollaries and consequences and possibilities and scope for future research work on the subject.

6. Impart the finishing touches to your dissertation report – definitions, references, bibliography, abstract, summary, acknowledgement, certificate, contents and title pages.


A thesis is a hypothesis or conjecture. The word "thesis" is coined from the Greek derivative of the word meaning "position", and refers to an intellectual proposition. A thesis may be an unproved statement, a hypothetical proposition, put forward as a premise.

A dissertation is a lengthy, formal document that argues in defence of a particular thesis. The term "Dissertation" is derived from the Latin word dissertātiō, meaning "discourse" and is a document that presents the author's research and findings and, in most cases, is submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification. The research performed to support a thesis must be original and substantial. The dissertation must illustrate this aspect and highlight original contributions.

Your dissertation is your research which demonstrates your understanding of the subject in a clear manner. Therefore, it is imperative you find a topic that gives a clear picture of what you should write. Always ignore ambiguous and vague ideas. And, most importantly, choose an apt title – in fact, the title of your dissertation must fascinate you and entice your audience.


Dissertations are of two types - Empirical and Analytical.

Empirical dissertations make propositions resulting from experiments, involving laboratory or field research.

Analytical dissertations reflect propositions resulting from meticulous, pioneering and innovative analysis of previously published work.


A dissertation report may comprise the following main chapters:

1. Introduction- An overview of the problem; why it is important; a summary of extant work and, most important, the thesis statement.

2. Literature Review-the chapter that summarizes another work related to your topic.

3. Methodology-the part of the paper that introduces the procedures utilized for the research study and the conceptual model.

4. Data Presentation, Evaluation, Analysis and Interpretation -the chapter involves the presentation of computation values using statistical tools to support the claim.

5. Conclusion-the complete summary of the research findings.

Of course, you must include suitable pages for definitions, illustrations and graphs, footnotes and references, bibliography, abstract, summary, acknowledgement, certificates, contents and title pages.


Dissertation writing chiefly involves the introduction, literature review, methodology and analysis chapters, and the others mentioned above. Having selected your dissertation topic, before you begin your dissertation you need to establish your thesis statement first.

A thesis statement is simply a single sentence that provides the main intention of the research. The thesis statement will epitomize the scope of your study, give you an idea of what you want to prove and will pilot your research.

A good thesis statement must satisfy the following four criteria:

1. The thesis statement must state your position.

2. The thesis statement must be able to support a discussion.

3. The thesis statement must be specific about its position.

4. The thesis statement should only have one single idea of discussion.

You must ponder over the following points while writing the introduction to your dissertation:

Is there any need to this dissertation study?
Why do it now? Why here? Why me?
Is the dissertation topic in my “comfort zone” and am I thirsty for knowledge and passionate about it?
Is there a problem? What is it? Why does it need to be solved? Should I approach it empirically or analytically?
What is my hypothesis? Is it original, novel, new, innovative?
Who will benefit from my dissertation work? In what sense will they benefit?
How will my contribution add to “commons”?
What is going to be my methodology? [modalities of data collection, evaluation, analysis, interpretation]
Are there any constraints or limitations in conduct of my proposed dissertation studies and research?

Dear Reader, I am feeling tired now, and will end this first part of my article here, but before I sign off, here is an interesting quote I read somewhere:

“The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but the transference of bones from one graveyard to another.” – Frank J. Dobie.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.






Research Papers - SSM




Here are a few research 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 – Systems 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, Poland, 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 University Library in the Annual Compendium of Published Papers IAT Spectrum 1999 and 2000 and are available for reference in the DIAT University Library]

Research Paper - EMI / EMC



Proceedings of the International Conference on Electromagnetic lnterference and Compatibility 1997 [3-5 Dec. 1997] Page(s): 87 - 92Please click the link below to read the paper:


The paper is based on ME [University of Pune] Dissertation [1997] titled:
Three dimensional cube model for ship design, weapon selection, evaluation and installation
By Tayal, M.
Karve, V.W. Guide

Full Dissertation available in DIAT Deemed University Library, Pune.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Life and Work of Maharshi Karve

Bharat Ratna Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve

Biographical Literature on the Story of his Life and Work.

[ Reviewed by VIKRAM WAMAN KARVE ]

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.

LOOKING BACK by Dhondo Keshav Karve - Autobiography

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 years 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, sometime back, for six years of my life, I stayed in a magnificent building called Empress Court on Maharshi Karve Road in Mumbai. I share the same surname [ Karve ] as the author. Also, I happen to be the great grandson of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav 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, are motivated to 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.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review article.