Tuesday, 25 September 2018

The House Always Wins

Sometimes, declarations, statements and affidavits take away confusions. Many times, they trap us all into an unknown whirlwind and throw us far apart that we forget the purpose of our being. Such is the condition of many democratic countries including India. May what the historical reasons be, Israel is one among a few democratic countries with no written constitution. (other countries are New Zealand, and UK.  Also, up-until 1982 Canada).

I understand that it’s a strong statement against my nation, therefore, I am choosing to dig a little deeper into the subject at my level of understanding and analyzing. As to avoid confusions, let me declare that my knowledge of the subject is infinitesimally small or little, therefore, I welcome views and discussions and even criticism if one feels it is judicious!

In my understanding, a governing body at any level functions more like a casino. There are players and the house! When it comes to a nation the government is the house and the citizens are the players. Democracy is a beautiful art of making one of the players a part of the house. Thinking that the new elected player will play for his/ her fellowmen: 'across the table'. That’s a myth! the truth is that “The house always wins.”  One may refute these views.  However, for Israel, a democracy with unwritten constitution, citizens and nation are inseparable. In simple words,” people are the nation and nation is its people.” That’s the level of patriotism the citizens have toward the nation and the love nation has to it’s people, with no written constitution in between to fight for or fight with!

In Indian context, no matter which government ruled the country, there was always a protest to protect the fundamental rights, the constitution and more recently the democracy itself! There was no single protest to practice or even preach the fundamental duties! Surprisingly, Fundamental duties were added to our constitution as 42nd amendment in 1976! That’s the contrast! In Israel, citizen know their duties to the nation before they ask for their rights! Knowing the duties and implementing them in our daily life makes us more responsible and when anyone among such responsible citizens enter the league and play for the house, the people win!


In days ahead, I plan to write about success of Israel (nation and its people) in different verticals viz. education, agriculture, technology etc. 

To begin with, 
The secret of which as I see is in 2 levels.
a. On an individual level, the respect for the land and dignity of living the Israeli's carry as their skin. 
b. At national level, functioning and governance.

It’s important to note that, Israel has adopted capitalistic or corporate approach towards functioning (unlike socialist or Indian). I was surprised; people here can’t inherit land for generations, in fact they don't own land! They lease it from the government for a tenure. Every small developmental project including domestic housing is undertaken by the government. Though, I am not fully aware of it’s how about, speaking to my peers here, I learned that, Government builds houses or licenses and sanctions developers to build houses for it’s citizen. Citizen purchase the license to live in that house and has the right only on the constructed property and not the land itself! So there are no 30-40 or 60-40 sites for sale, no illegal encroachments, no agony due to acquisitions when it comes to widening of roads or rails!

For those inquisitive minds wondering how big is Israel in comparison to India... 

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Israeli Chutzpah and Japanese Kaizen Make an Israeli

Surprisingly, my choice of coming to ISRAEL was moderately received by my peers and family. The word Israel makes everyone think of wars, blasts and unrest. However, living here in Israel for last one year has given me an insider’s perspective which is in contrast to the image the world media gifted to Israel. The disputes at the borders is more of a daily report. I would rather choose to stay away from discussing the unrest as my exposure to unrest is only through media like each one of you!! On a personal note, I have been experiencing a warm and a secure feeling living in Israel. I feel it is one of the secure countries to live in.  

Israel is a small country on the world map. So small that, it’s total population is less than any metropolitan city in India! Yet, people live a happy and contained life just because of the Israeli “chutzpah”. Chutzpah is seemingly shameless audacity and arrogance with good intentions. That’s right, Israelis mean business. They are very professional in their domains setting the right values for almost everything! They know to take ‘No’ for a ‘NO’ and also say ‘NO’ for a ‘No’! There is very less scope for ego clashes, and more opportunities for constructive criticism bringing in positive changes at every level resulting in enhanced happiness index! They stick on to their word, if, they give one. Through my personal interactions, I have seen similar honest attitude and level of professionalism among a few Indian communities too (Parsi, Irani, Sindhi); but not with that chutzpah. In addition to chutzpah, they also have “kaizen”!

A few innovations change the perspective of an era totally! The best-known innovation dates a little more than 100 years. It was the moving assembly line at Ford motor company innovated by Henry Ford. It was applauded then and is customized till today for every industrial need! A detailed discussion of this isn’t today’s topic and therefore, ‘period’!

Kaizen is a Japanese innovative concept. the word kaizen in Japanese means improvement or a change towards the better. Implemented at the Toyota motor company by it’s founder, Mr. Kiichiro Toyoda, today, kaizen can be seen evolved and applied in many of the industrial processes such as manufacturing, production, engineering, management and also support procedures. In 2006, under the leadership of Allen Mullaly, the then CEO; Ford Motor Company, the competitor for Toyota, since it’s inception adopted Kaizen! Hero Motor Corporation is producing 9.2 million units of motorcycles per annum implementing Kaizen at its production plants. Kaizen is so adaptable that it can be applied to almost any type of industry including banking, government, healthcare, retail, and transportation (Nestle, Mayo Clinic, Lockheed Martin are a few more examples) but the benefits of this amazing methodology are not limited to the world of commerce!

At Israel, the essence of Kaizen is used successfully by people. Not with any additional training, but as a part of life. Chutzpah with Kaizen, has helped Israelis in making improvements in their personal lives and also achieve development.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

From Gods Own Country To The Holy Land

Born in Kasaragod and brought up in Tulunadu, I have shifted 5 different schools before finally settling in a residential school in my 8th grade. I made new friends every alternate year and met old ones twice in my academic journey. Putting everything together, I changed schools 10 times before my 8th grade! It was fun. This long journey, made me inquisitive, kinesthetic, pragmatic and mercurous. It has had its own negative impact in my developmental years psychologically. When my teen peers had a closely-knit web of friends, I was always not a part of the pack, rather most of the times a lone wolf. My friends were from my parent’s generation and my role models were my teachers! Thankfully, amidst all my hardships, almighty was kind to gift me with the best. 
Science teachers were magicians some times. They had immense power of generating fire by just using sunlight, water and a transparent watch glass. They could paint rainbows on the dusted walls of our school building using the same water, watch glass and a mirror! For a 6th grade kid, that was sufficient to make a career choice, a “Scientist”. Later, when science split into three, a “Physicist” and when mathematics snooped into the walls of physics, a “Material scientist” (I still do a lot of mathematics but more closely at observable levels). The motivation towards pursuing Science at nanometric scale and engineering materials, devising experiments and techniques to optimize processes and metrology at nanoscale date back to the very idea of a science teacher being a magician.
Soon after my postgraduation in Physics from National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK), formerly known as KREC, I had a stint in teaching. Later I was absorbed back at NITK as Facility Technologist (FT) for its Electron Microscopes (EM) in the department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (MME). Working as an FT, I could closely understand the work of scientists, I could communicate to some of the great minds in the field and I soon realized, the magic wand is a PhD. Pursuing my research interests in India looked harder than I thought. Exceptionally high competition, extremely low opportunities and funds, exuberantly low exposure to the Industry and growing concern about professional ethics and exponentially increasing reports of corruption made me look abroad. The meadows were greener on the other side.
Soon, I started shortlisting universities, and laboratories whose research interests were similar to mine. The criteria of shortlisting were simple - full scholarship, working in nanotechnology, well experienced principal investigator, high level of exposure to industry and good work life balance. Trust me, Israel for 2 years, was not in my list!
I was looking for opportunities in Europe, Australia and Canada, unlike my friends, who were already in the United States, Singapore, South Korea etc. By then I was married, I had shifted to Bangalore resigning my job at NITK, foreseeing an opportunity at the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc). However, IISc did not materialize due to reduced research grants following the Union budget of 2014. I joined an R&D wing of a private organization in Bangalore and continued my applications in full swing. On an average I would spend 4 hours a day, consistently, searching for research opportunities abroad, applying to 5 places a day for 10 months. It was immensely frustrating. Many times, I would be in 2nd position after clearing a few rounds of skype interview and the person who came first would accept the position. During December 2016, I came across an online article on India -Israel research scholarship. I was aware of a lot of contributions from Israel and the Jewish community to science and technology, I thus thought I should look for opportunities in Israel, ‘more, out of frustration!’ 
After a series of applications and interviews, I was shortlisted for ‘President’s Research Grant’ a prestigious scholarship issued for the creamy researchers, to start my research (magician’s job to earn a magic wand) at the Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) of Bar-Ilan University in its Molecular Photonics Laboratory, under the guidance of Dr. Yaakov R. Tischler to work on Nanometrology. A perfect combination customized for my interests, worth all my frustration.   
I have been working here for an year now. Dr. Tischler is an extremely intelligent and kind professor I have ever met in my life. He has never made me feel frustrated at my work or at the subject. However, the path to reach him was frustrating, 3 long years after my post-graduation and almost 2 decades after I subscribed to introduce myself new magicians every year teaching a magical subject.
Similar is the story with my wife, Smt. Sharadhi, who is also a research scholar with Presidents Research Grant at the Intelligent Agent Interaction and Modelling Laboratory under the guidance of Prof. Sarit Kraus, a pioneer scientist in Artificial Intelligence.

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