Sundeep Bhutoria

Welcome to my blog. Do share your views and thoughts with me. Request visitors to keep their comments brief and to the point. I shall respond to you to the extent possible.
Thank you.
ess bee

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Author's Afternoon with Subrata Bagchi

With Subrata Bagchi at An Author's Afternoon
March 30, 2016: Today evening was the 29th edition of the series An Author's Afternoon and the Guest Author was Subrata Bagchi of MindTree fame. Subrata Bagchi gained name and fame as the co-founder of MindTree Ltd – a Bengaluru-based information technology and outsourcing company founded in 1999 that has grown to become a US$ 540 million company employing over 16,000 people.
An Author's Afternoon has come a long way since it was started in July 2012. This series will be completing four years in few months from now. Subrata Bagchi, like many other guest authors earlier, was very impressed by the format of the event. On the other hand, Subrata impressed the audience with his take on concepts like goodness, greatness and their subtle differences.
Subrata recounted his enterpreneurial journey had begun from a 20 by 20 feet room in Kolkata near Mother House on AJC Bose Road. He also said during the session that he visited that office after many decades and picked up two stones from there as a memento of his emotional connect with that place. 
The novelty of An Author's Afternoon event is that the Guest Authors often share many unknown facts and anecdotes of their life for the first time during the interactions.
With Samrat Datta, Susmita and Subrata
Subrata Bagchi, who called himself a “Gardner” at MindTree Ltd, is all set to pass on the baton of executive chairmanship of the company to a younger member from Friday April 1, 2016. This Author's Afternoon was perhaps his last event as the Executive Chairman. His charming wife Sushmita, a professor of Political Science in Delhi University for 32 years and also an author was present at the event.
With Devashis Poddar, incoming President of YPO Kolkata
Subrata Bagchi, who has so far written eight books, was first invited by Penguin to write one in 2006 on entrepreneurship. The book was titled The High Performance Entrepreneur and was popular among budding entrepreneurs. Since then, Subrata has been writing a-book-a-year on an average. The first book also established him as a business author. Among his other books are Go Kiss the World, The Professional, MBA at 16, Zen Garden for Penguin and The Elephant Catchers for Hatchette.
With Rita Singh
He is known for his ability to humanize business and his writing style is very accessible. His work has been translated in many languages in India and abroad.
Today I shall leave for Jaipur again to arrange for and attend to the Peer Ghani event scheduled for April 2, 2016.
ess bee

Thursday, March 24, 2016

“Vine Festival” and Kavi Sammelan

March 24, 2016: I returned to Kolkata from a South Asian trip on Sunday evening. From the airport I went to The Taj Bengal for a dinner hosted by the hotel's General Manager, Samrat Datta.
It was a seven-course dinner at the Banquet Terrace Gardens for the 3rd International Vine and Food Experience - Gout de France / Good France project. The arrangements were excellent, however, the downside was the humid outdoor weather. It would have been better off indoors. It got over late as it was a seven-course dinner.
With Sailesh Lodha and Arun Gemini at the Kavi Sammelan
On Monday I attended the Kavi Sammelan organized by Sanskriti Sagar in collaboration with Prabha Khaitan Foundation. The participating poets were Arun Gemini, Dinesh Diggaj, Rajendra Malviya Aalsi, Mumtaz Naseem, Shailendra Sahu and my friend of Taarak Mehta fame Shailesh Lodha. Every year, I am a regular at the Kavi Sammelan but this year Prabha Khaitan Foundation has formally collaborated for the event.
At the Kavi Sammelan
I invited quite a few of my friends for the Kavi Sammelan. As expected, Shailesh Lodha was a big hit, especially his poetry on his childhood “Miss karta hoon”. After the Kavi Sammelan I met the poets as well.
This year also I stayed away from playing Holi with colours. Somehow, I am saddened with what is going on in the country and all over the world. The global news of Brussels terror blast and other small issues weighed heavy in my mind and I did not feel like playing with colours. Well this is part of life and we all have to live with it.
ess bee

Thursday, March 17, 2016

All is still not well

March 17, 2016: At present I am in South East Asia for a conference. I came to know that my views on women’s award functions in Jaipur, which I had written a couple of days ago , has created a certain resonance in the social media after few of my friends posted and shared it in their Facebook.
For sure, all is still not well.
I came to know that in some of these hair clip distribution function oops I mean award functions hosted by organizations there are individuals who are the only decision makers . An organization means a body formed by a group of people.
In our country, there are many organizations on paper which are actually a one man or woman show.
But surprisingly, there are several national organizations too which run on the whims and fancies of individuals during their tenure. I wonder how this can happen. An organization controlled by one person defeats the very purpose of having a collective decision making body. If there are failures due to certain incorrect decisions the whole organisation should be held accountable. It is always graceful to accept responsibility collectively.
So why not take the decisions together?
When something goes wrong, the person responsible for making the decision is blamed. I feel, in such cases, the fault lies more with the people who allow him or her to take the decisions. A number of people have commented and shared their views on this in their posts on the Facebook.
My respect for the individuals who have supported this view has increased as they commented inspite of holding key positions in organizations that have hosted such award functions. But I am more concerned about those who simply click on the like option on Facebook and remain silent.
The tolerance debate is raging on and related to this is the issue of silence. Remaining silent is nothing new especially when one refuses to take sides. Silence is the best option to maintain a “decent” image when one doesn't want to get into any controversies by taking sides.
But is that morally acceptable?
Being ignorant of something isn't fine today as there are so many tools of awareness around us. For example, to make us aware of our consumer rights the ‘jago grahak’ campaign informs us of the multinational brands’ policies and the how we can be duped. I see a lot of awareness among people in this area but where it comes to social issues or ills they just seem to clam up.
I think many people who know when things are not what they ought to be and yet do not voice their protest in order to maintain their “decent” image.
What about their responsibility towards the society being an office bearer of the social organisations?
We need to take sides in life, assert ourselves against accepting a wrongdoing. There is no twilight zone, it is either black or white.
To quote Ramdhari Singh Dinkar:
Samar sesh hai, nahi paap ka bhagi kewal vygrah,
Jo tatasth hai, samay likhega unka bhi aapraadh
ess bee

Monday, March 14, 2016

IFUNA and events in Kolkata

March 14, 2016: I was in Delhi for three days from March 9 to 11. I attended few meetings including the executive committee meeting of the Indian Federation of the United Nations Association (IFUNA)
With Saurav and Gautam Bhattacharya
I came back to Kolkata on Friday evening and went to Ananda Plus Quiz programme at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.
At Ananda Plus Quiz
This is one programme which I like to attend. Not only do I get to meet all the Tollywood folks together but also the quiz competition among the Tolly stars is quite interesting. 
After the quiz I dropped by at the party hosted by Arijit Dutta to mark the start of the "Eastern Fashion Legacy" fashion show - a synergization of eastern heritage and fashion at Hyatt scheduled for March 12 and 13.
With Britta Leicke Milde and her husband Udo
On Saturday March 12, I went to Mohor Kunj for the music CD release of Gautam Ghose’s upcoming film Shankhachil starring Prosenjit Chatterjee. 
With Gautam Ghose
After this I dropped by at the Hyatt Regency Kolkata and watched the ramp walk of fashion designer Bibi Russel’s khadi collection. I liked the music to which her models walked on the ramp.
Today evening I have few meetings lined up and tomorrow I shall fly out on an overseas trip.
ess bee

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Awards…. Hope all is well

March 13, 2016: It is a good sign that more and more women are becoming aware of International Women’s Day. What women do to celebrate this day or whether they celebrate it at all is inconsequential. It is more important for them to realize their worth and assert their rights in the society.
Since 1975, the International Women’s Year, March 8 started being regarded as a Women’s Day. However, the first National Women’s Day was observed in 1910 on 28th February to honour the protest of women workers of garment factories in the United States.
In 1910 in Copenhagen, it was decided to have a Women’s Day to support the cause of women’s rights including her right to vote. Some years later in 1945, the UN signed a charter that was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then women’s movement has come a long way and today’s women are a testimony to that.
It is good to see that the gender stereotypes are broken. Today we see several women heading the banks, corporate and other sectors which were once considered male bastions. Just the other day an airlines in India created history by having a Delhi-San Francisco flight with an all-women crew to celebrate the Women’s Day.
Also remarkable is the fact that now women will also be seen in fighter pilot’s roles in the Indian Air Force.
All this is good news and ought to make one happy. The recognition of women is gaining ground and on this day many organizations make it a point to give awards to women who have made a mark. But something in me tells me that things are perhaps not all that right.
This year I was in Rajasthan during the International Women’s Day and while browsing through the newspapers and the pile of my invitations in Jaipur, I was quite surprised to see that about 50 award functions - big and small - were being organized. Several women from different walks of life - writers, artists, musicians, educationists, entrepreneurs, designers, social workers, self-claimed celebrities and so on were being honoured in these functions.
As expected, most of the award functions had the same faces and in these functions number of awardees ranged between 50 to 100. I also noticed that in few of these functions those who were awardees gave awards to those from whom they received awards at earlier functions.
Was it a mere coincidence or is there something more that meets the eye? To me, it seemed that it was a case of mutual back scratching. Quid pro quo! I hope it is not so. If it is, then I have to think twice before I attend any of these because this is not the case of recognition of worthy women. This to me this is nothing but a mockery and cheating in the name of honouring deserving women in the society.
The sad part is that most of these award functions are tied-up with some media houses for the mileage they would get. I understand that small NGOs to establish themselves may resort to such tactics but I do not understand the compulsion of prestigious organizations to host such functions?
I recall about fifteen years ago awards instituted in the name of characters from the Mahabharata were given to businessmen. The story behind this award was that the businessmen received letters from the organizers saying that they were nominated for an award being a successful businessman. When they responded they were asked to place advertisements for the Award Souvenir. It was simple maths.
Award twenty people, spend Rs 10 lakhs in a five star hotel for an award function, take Rs 1 lakh each from these twenty people for the Souvenir and end up saving Rs 10 lakhs. These functions went on for fifteen years until it became a regular affair.
So next time when you receive a invite to be a judge of such an award committee or even an invitation to witness, please think if ... all is well.
ess bee

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women’s Day.

March 8, 2016: I arrived in Jaipur last evening for an overnight stay. As in Jaipur and Rajasthan, there is a lot of buzz and activities to mark the International Women’s Day across India.
A lot of changes have taken place in the Indian society as far as the lives of women are concerned. As a Rajasthani, I have seen the changes happening in the lives of Marwari women. Over the past 30 years or so, more and more women have stepped out of their houses to help their families in business and earn a livelihood. Some have pursued their own interests rather admirably.
Though the conservative Marwari society has also come to accept the fact that it is important to educate the daughters like their sons, a daughter's marriage still remains more important than her career.
I have seen my mother Dr Prabha Khaitan who was one of the first women to break away from the tradition in ways more than one. Not only was she a highly educated lady and a successful industrialist, she was a strong believer of womens' emancipation. Her writings and pennings reveal her boldness, strength and firm belief in gender equality. It is perhaps this belief that made her translate Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex in Hindi.
On the other hand, I also witnessed the fact that after my father’s death, my biological mother did not have any control over her tax papers or the shares in her name. In fact, her signatures on these papers were done by some other male members of the family.
I have seen several other Rajasthani women, who, despite belonging to well-known business families, have worked very hard to establish their own identity. Many other young women of the next generation too have turned entrepreneurs and several are well-known corporate honchos today. I feel happy and proud for them. However, there are certain reasons to feel sad too as there is a dark side as well.
To the public eye what may often seem as gender equality is actually far from the truth. Wives of Marwari businessmen may be directors in their husbands’ companies or seem to be business partners but in most cases they end up as the signing authority only for their companies. They actually have no real financial or decision making powers – something that is very crucial for women emancipation.
In most cases, the legal power lies with the husband. I feel sorry to say that I have sometimes seen a convent-educated wife having a major difference of opinion with her husband but she is unable to take any action since her hands are tied. She has no power to sign even where her own bank account is concerned. The real power is held by the husband. In such cases, the women end up giving a nod to their husbands or fathers.
It is a sad and shocking fact that still a majority of these Marwari women have little or no say even in their own financial matters like their bank accounts or income tax returns. It is always a male member of the family who controls it. The patriarchal values are so deeply entrenched in the Indian society and in the psyche of a Marwari woman that despite all the education and finesse, they have not been able to free themselves from these shackles. Not only that, there is very little awareness about it and the women have to accept all the wrongdoings as a part and parcel of their family values and tradition.
I feel very strongly about this and I definitely consider it social ill. It is important to sensitize women on these gender issues and especially the women of Rajasthan since this state is still among those states which covertly or sometimes overtly indulge in female infanticide by throwing newborn girl child in a well or bury her.
On the Women’s Day the first thing that needs to be done is to change the existing situation by formulating a law that will ensure a woman to exercise her financial rights. It is only then that a woman can really call herself free. Till that happens, it would be a mockery of her freedom.
ess bee

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lunch with Kolkata's diplomats

With Damien Syed, Consul General of France in Kolkata, Reinhold Krickl, Deputy Consul General of Germany in Kolkata and Daimiano Francovigh, Consul General of Italy in Kolkata
March 6, 2016: On Friday (March 4) afternoon I hosted a lunch at the Taj Bengal for few of the diplomats in Kolkata.
I invited the Consul General of Unites States of America in Kolkata, Craig Hall, Consul General of France, Daimen Syed, Deputy Consul General of Germany, Reinhold Krickl, Consul General of Italy, Damiano Francovigh, Vice Consul & Director of Russian Centre of Science & Culture, Yury V Dubovoy, his wife Daria and my friend from Bhutan Ashi Khendum Dorji and two of her Bhutanese friends.
With musician Kathy Park, Mrs Meeryung Hall and Craig Hall, US Consul General in Kolkata
Actually my meeting with Mr Craig Hall was long due since he became the Consul General of USA in Kolkata. I was, for the most part, out of city and while I was in city, he was out travelling. It was good to meet his wife Meeryung Hall who is a musician. It was also a pleasure to meet another musician and pianist, Cathy Park, who was visiting Kolkata from South Korea. Quite a few others also joined the diplomatic fraternity here while I was out.
With Reinhold Krickl, Deputy Consul General of Germany in Kolkata
So I decided to host this lunch to meet and greet the new consuls. It was nice of them to accept my invitation.
On Friday evening I went to attend the wedding of a journalist friend and a film director at the DKS Banquets. The director's last film has broken all records in Bengali cinema.
With Yuri V Dubovoy, Vice Consul and Director of Russian Centre for Science & Culture in Kolkata and his wife Daria
I was very busy on Saturday and I missed Gulab Bari, the annual musical soiree of Madhu and Harsh Neotia. My hectic routine continued till today (Sunday) and I started the day by attending the Times of India's Happy Street function.
I accepted the request of Bawalia Group and went there while they were performing at the Happy Streets. This was my first visit. Earlier I had been to the Rahagiri event by Times of India in Gurgaon. Happy Streets is a Times of India initiative in association with the Kolkata Police. I feel that every city must introduce this concept which is quite simple in the sense the people, early risers, fitness buffs and so on take to the streets, which is off traffic, to play, act, sing, cycle, dance and make merry.
At the Happy Streets event in Kolkata
After Happy Streets at 8 am, I made a trip to Dakhineshwar and in the evening I did a book reading at the Spritual Literary Fest. After the book reading session I went to The Oberoi Grand for a function and then from there to the Tollygunge Club to attend a reception.
Tomorrow noon I shall fly out to Jaipur.
ess bee

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A musical evening in Victoria Memorial

With Mrs Trivedi, Mr Dinesh Trivedi, Jennifer and Samrat Datta
March 2, 2016: I shall spend this whole week in Kolkata. On Monday, the week started with a beautiful concert hosted by Prabha Khaitan Foundation along with the Victoria Memorial with Rekha Bhardwaj.
It was the first time she sang a Bengali song with Sourendro and Soumyojit in the amazing surroundings of Victoria Memorial where the event was organized.
With Rekha Bharadwaj
Rekha Bhardwaj got so involved in singing that she was close to tears a couple of times and finally she broke down and could not sing. The mesmerizing surroundings of Victoria Memorial and Rabindra Sangeet can do this to anybody.
This week, all the evenings are busy and I have scheduled a lunch with few diplomats which I shall be hosting on Friday.
Last Saturday (Feb 27), I went to see Einstein play at Kalamandir where Nasiruddin Shah acted as Einstein and no doubt you can't find any fault in his acting not accent.
ess bee