25 years of Madras Musings

Thanks to madras musings officianados for their tremendous effort in keeping madras musings alive all these years…. Happy silver jubilee….

Madras Heritage and Carnatic Music

image The first issue of Madras Musings

Time for us to pat ourselves on the back. Madras that is Chennai turned 375 a couple of years ago. Fort St. George attained that venerable age last year. We don’t know how old Mylapore, Tiruvallikeni and Tiruvottriyur are. We do know that the High Court of Madras turned 150 in 2012, the Madras Chamber of Commerce & Industry is 180 this year and that the Corporation of Madras completed 325 in 2013. Compared to all that, we are small fry, but when we look below our masthead and discover Madras Musings has completed 25 years, we do feel a particular sense of satisfaction and happiness.

This landmark would not have been possible without the support of all you readers. Your encouragement, feedback, contributions by way of stories, ideas and donations is what has kept us buoyed up all these years. At the same time…

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Chamathu Kondey by Venkatraman

Blog post by Venkatraman Subramaniam DISCLAIMER: Namma girls are usually chamathu. So, this post is directed only towards TamBrahm pullaiyaandaans! It’s not kozhandai. It’s not even kuz…

Source: Chamathu Kondey by Venkatraman

put a comma not a dot.

You put me in a spot,
put a comma, not a dot
Life puts you in a spot
​Wriggle out don’t stop n stay put
learn and grow
does time cease if you are low
wear a smile and glow
let the world see you in flow
add cheer add a glow
see some in a spot
lend a hand n reach out
put a comma not a dot.

Professor Sundararaman’s informal interview

Sundaraman Mama, Shares his experience with Peiyava. Heart wrenching, indeed, he is lucky to have got Periyavas kataksham…

Sage of Kanchi

Thanks to Smt Arthi Suri for sharing this interview. As anyone could tell, this was taken on a phone camera. However the audio is not that bad…I am able to hear it if I bump the volume up….

Mama is sharing some of the known and unknown experiences too…

Mama gets lot emotional during this interview when sharing certain incidents – very moving!


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Meeting My Inspiration Dr APJ Abdul Kalam !!


Meeting with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam at Raj Bhavan Chennai Dated 22.09.2014


Meeting with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam at Raj Bhavan Chennai Dated 22.09.2014

I had a wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity of meeting my inspiration Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in person. Its a blessing that he spoke to me for 15 minutes. He asked me about my career Job and remarked that Polaris is a good company. His eyes lit up and expressed happiness when I shared that my parents and wife are also teachers, and I am a Trainer.

Some Excerpts of his interview:

ARK: You were born in Rameshwaram, studied in MIT Chennai, became a renowned world scientist and you also went on to become the president of India? How did you overcome obstacles in life? What are your thoughts to youngsters overcome hardships in life?
APJ: You should be the captain of the problem / obstacles, it should not dictate terms to you. You address the problem and don’t get bogged down. At home also you face obstacles and you resolve it, similarly try to resolve them and do not stop going ahead.

ARK: Thoughts, Behavior, Actions, Attitude – Your Thoughts on this maxim.
APJ: One should always have good thoughts, especially children must be given a good environment at home for developing good thoughts. One should have a home library with good books for children to read. Parents should monitor and guide children till they are 17 years. Once we do this later they shall be able to make informed and good choices in life. Once your thoughts are aligned and the rest shall automatically fall in line.

ARK: You have been an inspiration to millions of Indians across geographies, what does it take to inspire others and how can I inspire others?
APJ: Anyone and everyone can inspire. Do good deeds and think good and do your best, you shall also inspire people. Your experience should act as an inspiration to others.

ARK: What makes you to be active even at this age? What is your secret?
APJ: I have a vision and there is a target for me as well. I attend and address at least 30 meetings in a month and meet at least 1 Million youngsters in a year. Of course I do take care of my health and I have a goal in my heart and commit myself to it, Age is not a barrier.


My thoughts on what Francis Bacon once wrote, “We must obey the forces we want to command”.

A good leader is one who listens to his subordinates and carries them along. He is Worker First Manager Next. The term ‘Servant Leadership’ is becoming very popular worldwide. Robert Greenleaf started this concept in 1976 in America. But now it is catching up all over the world. What is servant leadership? Servant leadership is, not taking the credit as a leader. You inspire your colleagues; you inspire your subordinates, not by preaching, but by your own example and by not mere dictating them. Just share your ideas with them inspire them and not order them. And this way you serve.

There is a beautiful book by Peter Drucker, Managing In The Next Millennium,where he says, managers and executives are going to be more and more ineffectual, with no authority whatsoever over their subordinates in the 21st Century. He attributes it to upcoming knowledge society. The 21st Century is going to be a century of knowledge. The Blue collared employees are replaced by white-collared employees. The blue-collared jobs are being done by computers and some of them are computer experts, IT Professionals. How do you control them, who have better IQ than you? You will not be able to control them through power and position and through order. But you can control them through love and the attitude of service.

Swami Vivekananda practiced servant leadership more than 100 years back, when he started Ramakrishna Mission. Swami Vivekananda gave a new, holistic way of converting work into worship. When Swamiji drafted the trust deed of Ramakrishna Math, he made his brother disciple, Swami Brahmananda as the first president. He did not become the first president; he did not take the position and power. Swamiji was not only an inspirational leader, but was also a very pragmatic one. He not only believed in ‘Servant-based Leadership’ but constantly endeavored to empower all those around him. In dealing with his brother-disciples and followers, he evoked what is today popularly known in the management world as the ‘Pygmalion Effect’. Management expert J. Sterling Livingston describes it as the effect of enabling subordinates to excel in response to the leader’s expectation of them.

 Swami Vivekananda had a high expectation of his followers and he communicated that to them clearly, thus eliciting a high level of performance. Leaders empower their followers by believing in them, and they rise to greatness as a result. Swamiji had chosen ‘empower and facilitate’ philosophy over ‘command and control’ long before modern management realized its potential. Trust plays an important part in the process. If the leader does not trust his followers, he will use control instead of empowerment. Swami Vivekananda while exhorting his disciples to the highest levels of work had the fullest trust in them and their abilities. His urge to motivate people around him to aspire for higher levels of performance can be seen from this letter of his to his direct disciple Swami Shuddhananda in 1897. He writes, “…Lastly, you must remember I expect more from my children than from my brethren (his brother disciples). I want each one of my children to be a hundred times greater than i could ever be. Every one of you must be a giant – must, this is my word. Obedience, readiness, and love for the cause – if you have these three, nothing can hold you back.”

Swamiji’s call, “Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached” was nothing but an attempt to empower people en-masse. J Carla Nortcutt had once said, “The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.

Arvind Ram Kumar

Date: 23.05.2014