Morality And Consciousness


It was interesting to read a high quality article by Pratap Bhanu Mehta on morality and consciousness in response to Sadhguru’s article on the same subject a few days earlier. The articles brought forth remarkable contrast between the views of a respected academic and a popular Indian yogi and mystic on morality and consciousness.

Mehta’s article contains a genuine concern about consciousness, that more evolved forms of consciousness would acquire more authority, thereby reintroducing gradations between human beings. This made one pause and think.

However, there were aspects in Mehta’s article that struck one for being overly pessimistic about Indian spirituality and consciousness movements. The high pedestal which Mehta accorded to morality and his assumptions about Sadhguru’s views on consciousness made one wonder if he had ever read or heard Sadhguru earlier. That he didn’t define consciousness in his article made it even more difficult for his readers to fully understand his view point.

Mehta agreeing with Peter Sloterdijk’s phrase that Indian spirituality was the ‘planetary granary of narcissism’ was taken with a pinch of salt. Spirituality is an experiential dimension and no debate on it gets settled in an academic discussion. This is at the core of the debate between the two gentlemen. For one, it is an experiential reality and for the other, it is a matter of academic debate. Probably, this is the very divide that Mehta points out (and fears) in his article.

Sadhguru talks about consciousness as the ability to experience everything as a part of oneself. That is, the distinction of “this is me, that is not me” gets eradicated. In such a state, one is incapable of doing anything harmful. Consciousness stirs up humanity in a way that one is good effortlessly and doesn’t need morality.

Morality, Sadhguru says, is like ‘trying to be good’. He wonders if one really needed morality if one’s humanity was alive and active!

Curiously, Mehta in his article says it was morality that was more spontaneous as it was based on intrinsic motivation to be good. The reader was left wondering how morality was more spontaneous than one’s humanity!

While Mehta feared that consciousness could create divisions – hierarchical or geographic, Sadhguru says that morality could divide the world into moral sects. No two sects would see eye to eye as moral standards for each would be different. Even moral standards one applied to self and others were different, he often says! 

Another surprise in Mehta’s piece was comparing Nietzsche, Aurobindo and Iqbal with Sadhguru on how each saw consciousness. Clearly, he was interpreting Sadhguru purely on the basis of one article while Sadhguru’s work on the subject was extensive and in-depth. It needed a bigger effort to decipher. 

Mehta also asserted that all previous projects to raise collective consciousness had failed, that Sadhguru was chasing a chimera and the path was fraught with risks. Not really. India has been an intrinsically peaceful country primarily because of her sound spiritual foundations. That’s how India has assimilated diverse cultures and religions for centuries with relative ease.

However, shocker in Mehta’s piece came at the end of his article where he obliquely advised Sadhguru that instead of chasing the pipe dream of raising collective consciousness and selling easy spirituality to the privileged, he should work towards exposing hypocrites and giving people civic courage by talking truth to power instead of seeking their patronage.

The realisation finally dawned on the reader that Mehta hadn’t seen the stellar work Sadhguru has been doing in the villages and for the poor, not to mention his efforts at environment preservation, education and entrepreneurial development. His yoga programs, public conversations and sathsangs are intended at making all joyful and full of life.


Besides, Sadhguru’s views on morality and consciousness are decades old (much before the current political dispensation came to power) and are based on his own realisation rather than on any need to seek political patronage.

Surely, this is not the last we have heard in this debate between the two. Readers respect Mehta and would love to see his views not only on this subject but also on Sadhguru and Isha Foundation evolve over time.

Posted in Isha Foundation, Sadhguru, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beyond The Physical With Sadhguru

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  • Around noon on the second day of consecration of Yogeshwar Linga, Sadhguru was guiding a 12500 strong congregation of yogi participants from 70 countries through an intense kriya. By the end of the kriya, he asked them to put three fingers on their forehead to feel the ‘third eye’. The participants roared in ecstasy! Depending on how much sadhana each had put in over the years, one experienced something indescribable and unique at that very moment!
  • On Mahashivratri night, as Sadhguru and Modi shared the stage to unveil the 112 feet tall face of Adiyogi, the mood among the 5 lac strong audience was electric! Modi was a Yoga Veera, Sadhguru declared. Please recall that Modi had proposed an International Day of Yoga at the UN and subsequently led a record number of people into a yoga session on the streets of Delhi. Modi praised Sadhguru for having made yogis out of ordinary people and that he could see so many vibrant faces around. The crowd roared, liking every bit of this camaraderie.

The above two were just some of the several mesmerising moments that one came across during the week long (19th Feb to 25th Feb, 2017.) events at the Isha Ashram that involved consecration of the Yogeshwar Linga, consecration of the 112 ft tall face of Adiyogi (Shiva – the first yogi) and the night long Mahashivratri celebrations.

Run-up to the events

I have been a yoga practitioner for four years now. Just as I was thinking of going for a higher level yoga program, a Twitter friend informed me of these upcoming events and forwarded to me relevant literature. Consecration of a Linga? I had never witnessed one. I also knew that I might not get an opportunity to participate in another one in this lifetime. I immediately enrolled.

As I shared my intention to participate with my friends and relatives, they thought I just wanted to take a break from my routine. Others thought it was a good way to relieve myself of stress. None of this was the correct assessment. My purpose of attending the program was two-fold.

  • Consecration of a Linga is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After all, how many of us have attended such a program? How many of us have been fortunate enough to have contributed to a Linga with our own life energies?
  • Attending a program of this nature would accelerate my spiritual journey. It would give me an opportunity to absorb what could otherwise take me years of sadhana.

Spirituality being a different dimension altogether, it took quite an effort to explain that my attending the program was not akin to ‘running away’ but to actually empower myself to be able to conduct this life smoothly.

Anyway, I was quite excited in anticipation of the event and was looking forward to it eagerly.

We were told in advance that the event was attracting record participation. I braced myself for a large gathering at the Ashram.

The events

I reached the ashram on Sunday, 19th Feb 2017 and was amazed to see the sheer size of the event.

It started on 19th evening itself when Sadhguru brought the Yogeshwar Linga on a chariot to the Adiyogi Alayam for consecration. Setting up the Linga on stage was quite an effort. That set the stage for consecration over the next three days.

Our sessions of Linga consecration by Sadhguru used to start at 10 am every day and ended around midnight, with adequate breaks in between. It was nice to watch all participants completing their morning sadhana at whatever space they could find in the corridors, lawns, dormitory etc. and be ready well in time.

These sessions involved Sadhguru consecrating the Linga, yoga kriyas, mantras, videos, Q&A etc.. Over the three days, we watched, spellbound, a spectacular display of the spiritual dimension. Each of the 12500 participants from 70 countries soaked what could otherwise take us years of sadhana.

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Sadhguru explained the importance of the Yogeshwar Linga as a doorway beyond the physical dimension and why, instead of human beings, we consecrate Lingas. He also dwelled on the importance of wearing white and black clothes depending on the occasion. He also said that one would wear the crown of ignorance if one thought that what was not in one’s perception didn’t exist. He advised all to neither believe nor disbelieve; just keep an open mind and seek answers with sadhana.

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Once the Linga was consecrated, it was transported near the 112 feet Adiyogi face as a source of energy for the statue.

On completion of the consecration, we were specifically told neither to do the yoga kriyas nor chant the mantras we learnt at home. These were meant for the consecration event only.

Then came the Mahashivratri night. It was a full night event of dance, music and yoga. The idea of night long celebrations is that on this night, there is a natural upsurge of energy in the human body if the spine is kept erect. So people just stay awake and tap into the energy on Mahashivratri night.

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We could see many celebrities attending but the star of the day had to be India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The five lac strong crowd lapped up every bit of what Sadhguru and Modi said on stage. There were cheers and rounds of applause. Modi spoke in English, keeping in mind a largely Southern and foreign audience.

Modi then unveiled the much awaited Adiyogi statue – a stunning piece of geometry that would remind the world of the first yogi, the first Guru.

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Thereafter music celebrations started, interspersed by midnight sadhana with Sadhguru.

I had never been awake for the whole night ever since I completed my college.  However, time flew! Every time I saw my watch, two hours had gone by as if in just a few minutes. In the meantime, I was getting messages that I had been seen in the TV coverage of the event. So, friends and family back home were watching too!

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Anyway, the Mahashivratri celebrations ended at 6 am the next day. Sadhguru was awake, dancing and chanting with us all night. It had been a memorable week for us all; something we would cherish for the rest of our lives.

After the event

It’s been four days since I returned from the ashram as I write this. During my yoga sessions, my body still feels vibrations that I have brought from the ashram; as if my spiritual journey has been turbo-charged. This was exactly one of the reasons I was there in the first place!

I decided to write this blog post as there have been many people asking me about the experience. I thought it was prudent to chronicle it, considering the immensity of the event even for my spiritual journey.

* All pics – Courtesy @ishafoundation

Posted in Anecdotes, India, Isha Foundation, Sadhguru, Spirituality, Travel, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer Debate Around Sadhguru’s Quote

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Sadhguru

To start with, one has sympathies for those who are suffering from or have lost near and dear ones to cancer. One also has respect for those who have successfully fought and defeated cancer and are leading a healthy life today.

That brings us to Sadhguru‘s tweets on the subject on World Cancer Day

I came across numerous responses to these tweets, especially the former one and I responded to some. However, this article in particular caught my attention.

One was pained to see sweeping generalisations, with Sadhguru having been painted with the same brush as other Gurus. However, that is hardly a surprise. In an age of limited attention span and relentless social media outrage, taking a step back, getting into details and forming a considered opinion is at a premium.

The article referred to earlier mentions the word ‘cure’ (cancer) six times, hinting as if Sadhguru has made any such claim in the referred tweet or otherwise. On the contrary, Sadhguru propagates leading a healthy life using techniques of Inner Engineering that help PREVENT ailments like cancer. What’s wrong with this message to generate an outrage of the sort we have seen?

If you read the blog post titled Cancer: A Yogic Perspective by Isha Foundation, you will come across the following passage :-

Fundamentally, yoga is not a form of treatment. This is a way of balancing your inner energies. We never really treat the physical or mental body in that sense. Irrespective of what the disease is, we only aim at balancing and activating the energy body.

Essentially, Sadhguru talks about adopting yoga practices for inner well-being; taking care of the energy body, thereby ensuring proper flow of energy to even those organs which are not in active use and have the danger of nurturing cancerous cells. So , Sadhguru talks about PREVENTION and not CURE of cancer.

One cancer patient asked Sadhguru about a cure. Check what Sadhguru replied, especially starting 4:40 minutes in the video!

Sadhguru clearly mentions that once one has contracted cancer, it is better to pursue an allopathic treatment. Yoga can definitely help in overcoming the after-effects of chemotherapy but patients should not run the risk by not taking allopathic treatment.

Some critics mentioned that if cancer was a self-created, what explains cancer to kids or passive smokers? Valid point. If one reads the blog post Cancer: A Yogic Perspective carefully, it clearly mentions that there are external causes of cancer. But in most cases, root cause lies in imbalances in the energy body. This is preventable.

So, what was the outrage about?

Posted in Cancer, Health, India, Isha Foundation, Sadhguru, Social Media, Spirituality, Twitter, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Twitter Debate

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@PritishNandy recently wrote why he felt Twitter was dying. His article received widespread response, both for and against, and it is this debate that prompted me to write this blog post.

What Pritish Nandy wrote has been doing the rounds for quite some time now. The New Yorker, in its January 2016 piece, was quite emphatic about Twitter’s decline. Advertisers and Marketers focussing on digital media have been livid about a less-than-encouraging ROI on Twitter.

I have studied both sides of the debate over the years. However, I have been surprised by some of the arguments put forth after Pritish Nandy’s article to explain that all was well with Twitter and that it was up to the users to make full use of the medium. Take, for example, this thread of tweets.

Some said, Twitter user base couldn’t be compared to Facebook’s.

Even @ValaAfshar’s tweet has been quoted and widely circulated as an argument about all being well with Twitter.

One cannot disagree with the above sets of tweets. However, none of them refer to data. There is where the problem lies. Let me explain.

Below is the trend of Monthly Active Users (MAU) as declared by Twitter.

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If you notice, the MAU growth has been plateauing since Q1 of 2015. So, while Twitter obviously can’t be compared to Facebook, such nominal growth indicates serious issues with the medium. Stagnation is death.

While the ad revenues are growing as of now, they are much below expectations and there are reports of advertisers reducing their spend on Twitter in the future owing to low ROI.

While the Board of Directors of Twitter has taken cognisance of the problem and has already made changes in the Twitter leadership and has even put the organisation up for sale, many Twitter users remain oblivious of the larger picture of poor AMU growth and ad ROI issues.

To conclude, I agree that Twitter isn’t going to die anytime soon. However, if many users feel that Twitter isn’t what it used to be; and the same is supported by data, one must sit up and take notice. Negligible AMU growth indicates that, if not addressed, Twitter is ripe for disruption.

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Healthier And Happier – Inner Transformation With Yoga

  • On my last travel to Rajasthan, my home state, I happened to meet an old industry friend after almost 7 years. The moment he saw me, he exclaimed, “Aman, you are getting younger with age!” Of course due to paucity of time, yoga couldn’t be discussed but he was emphatic in his observation.
  • Whenever I read stories of self-sacrifice or one displaying humanity, tears roll down my cheeks. This is a two year old phenomenon and coincides with my spiritual journey.
  • During my annual medical tests for the last 3 years, the reviewing doctor has consistently been asking me what I do to maintain my health. I tell him that while I practise yoga as a spiritual process, good health is a by-product. He then just blesses me with the statement, “See you next year”; meaning he would love my not visiting him again till the next year’s check-up got due.
  • A person was shouting at me for reasons best known to him. However, I didn’t feel disturbed or agitated at all. I maintained my calm (quite unlike what I used to be before I got introduced to Isha Foundation) and let it pass.

I attribute all of the above to the yoga practises I learnt at the Isha Foundation. I have attended Inner Engineering Retreat twice where I learnt the Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya preceded by ancient preparatory asanas like the Surya Namaskar

I practise the entire sequence for 1.5 hours in the morning. I also learnt Isha Kriya preceded by another set of preparatory asanas in the Isha Insight program that I attended at the ashram in 2015. I practise this for an hour in the evening. That is, I spend 2.5 hours a day practising the profound yoga asanas and Kriyas that I have learnt.

My job entails travelling 10-15 days a month. But I ensure that I do the kriyas every day. 

Of late, I have been getting opportunities to share my experiences on stage at Isha’s sathsangs which I occasionally attend to rectify errors, if any, in my practises. I then decided to just put down my thoughts in a blog post.

Dietary Discipline And Weight Loss
When I first learnt the Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya in February 2013 as part of the Inner Engineering Retreat Program, I was told to practise the Kriya twice a day for 45 days. However, I could follow the twice-a-day schedule for 7 months, dedicating an hour each in the morning and evening every day. Since there had to be adequate gaps between food intake and the Kriya, my intake automatically reduced to 3 times a day regimen – breakfast, lunch & dinner. So, all the samosas, kachoris and gulab jamuns that I consumed on occasions in the intervening hours got eliminated. This dietary discipline coupled with regular practise helped me reduce my weight (while that was not the intention of my yoga) thereby making my body more flexible.

Eliminated Anger


I got introduced to yoga essentially to be able to control my anger. I occasionally blew my top thinking that it was an appropriate way of getting my job done. When the subject came up during my formal training at the Isha ashram, I asked this question, “How and why should I not get angry when I think that’s the only way to get my job done?” I was awestruck by the simplicity yet profoundness of the answer. “Do not get angry. Just act angry. That will help you maintain your inner peace.” I practise this till date and will continue to do for ever. I have realised that I cannot give the keys to how I feel from the inside to someone else. That has to be in my control.

Improved Health

With regular practise, my health parameters have improved. Instances of falling ill have come down and I feel light and rejuvenated all day. My breath is balanced; a feeling I was oblivious to before I started regular yoga practises. My snoring is gone (still wondering how that happened!) and sleep quality has improved so dramatically that 5-6 hours of sleep a day (and an afternoon nap on weekends) is good enough.

As Sadhguru says, “Are you creating poison within you or the fragrance of the Divine? This is a choice.” I have made my choice through my own inner engineering!

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India is the best!

Ah! The luxury I enjoy in India while checking into a hotel – a warm welcome by the staff followed by the bell-boy support to carry the luggage to the room – quite unlike Europe.

As I checked into a 4-star hotel during my recent Europe trip, I noticed there was no drinking water in the room. I enquired at the reception and was told that the empty refrigerator was meant for me to keep my items. If I needed drinking water, I could use the tap water from the washroom 🤔 as the restaurant or the bar wasn’t yet open and hence I shouldn’t expect any supplies from room service at that hour.

In another hotel, I and my room-mate weren’t able to charge our mobiles as the adaptors were incompatible with the sockets. On requesting either an extension chord or compatible adaptors, the operator told us that extension chords couldn’t be provided for security reasons and the hotel had only one spare adaptor which could be provided against a security deposit 😟

On arrival at the Zurich airport from Prague, I tried logging into the airport wifi. It asked for my cell number for the OTP SMS. The SMS never arrived. Same with all my colleagues. Any intervention for troubleshooting would have been time consuming. So, we moved on.

As I arrived at the Paris airport from Zurich, I waited for about 30 minutes before luggage appeared at the conveyor belt. As I tried to log into the airport wifi to utilise my time, I couldn’t. Then I thought of charging my mobile but see what, not a single charging point was in working condition!

All the drivers and the guides, though quite courteous and punctual, were inflexible too. I noticed certain instances when they could have acted beyond the call of duty but didn’t. Remember Ratan Tata’s lament when Tata Motors took over JLR?

I can go on and on. My question is, how would have we reacted when faced with such irritants in India? Quite unsparing in our criticism, I know.

Netherlands has 2/3rd of it’s land below sea level. It is so short of land that expansion through reclamation is the order of the day. Also, water has to be continuously pumped out into the sea with high capacity pumping machines from whatever limited land the country has. Though adequate safeguards have been made, the country constantly fears flooding.

The above instances are just pointers. After my recent visit, I have other reasons to believe as well that Saare Jahaan Se Accha Hindostan Hamara (India is the best).

European countries are so small that it made me wonder why they weren’t a single country in the first place; or a stable EU at least. How can such small nations be secure, self reliant and thriving in the long run? This made me salute our leaders (like Sardar Patel) who ensured amalgamation of all provinces into a single nation. They realised that anything short of single nationhood would be a disaster, as had been in history.

Demographics in Europe seems to be unfavourable in the long run. The working age population is declining. Immigrants are therefore being allowed (exceptions apart) but the ISIS problem has complicated even that.

The European economy isn’t growing fast enough. People aren’t able to grow their businesses. A simple example. I noticed shopkeepers across Europe irritated and short tempered. They expected that if a customer entered the shop, he/she MUST buy. Else, strange reactions ensued. And no, this wasn’t about bargaining. I noticed the trend in fixed price shops as well.

This is not to say that all is bad in Europe. The way the Swiss have developed their snow peaks (like Mt Titlis) is remarkable! But I understand that scenic beauty of India’s Kashmir and Rohtang Pass (Himachal Pradesh) is mind blowing; if only we developed these locations as tourist destinations matching the level the Swiss have done in Mt Titlis.


India has a lot to learn from Europe – cleanliness, discipline, traffic etiquettes etc.. I am just saying that we have the potential to get there.

India is a resource-rich country with demographics in her favour. She is the fastest growing economy in the world. She has a stable government and sound democratic systems. Her armed forces are professional and adequately equipped to defend her borders. She has a large domestic, consumption-driven market economy. In short, India has the potential to be way ahead of what we consider as the developed world. 

It is time each of our institutions asks itself what it would take to be the best in the world (benchmarking) and then strive towards that. What prevents India from having schools and universities that produce Nobel laureates? Why can’t Indian corporates innovate as so many West-headquartered organisations do? Why can’t our corporates turn into Indian multinationals? Why can’t we, as citizens, ensure that the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan succeeds? Why can’t each of India’s states plans tourist arrivals per annum equivalent to that of Netherlands? 

I get a feeling that India is much closer than ever in history to realising her potential. Many might not realise this but India has it in her to be the golden bird again, and just in a matter of a few decades! How many decades it will take depends on how much fire we as citizens have in seeing us up there in the hierarchy of nations.

Posted in Anecdotes, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Jet Airways, You Rock!

  • We as consumers waste no time in complaining when we face customer service issues. It is equally important to appreciate when we receive outstanding service standards.
  • I am a loyal Jet Airways passenger and have been accorded a Platinum JetPrivilege membership based on my rich association. However, it is only now that I realise the importance of this loyalty program of Jet Airways.
  • I was booked on the 9:15 pm flight (later rescheduled to 9:50 pm) from Bengaluru to Mangalore. I am quite disciplined in keeping time and have therefore never ever missed a flight. In keeping with my habit, I left for the airport at 6 pm, a good 3 hours and 50 minutes ahead of the departure time. This, I thought, would give me neat one hour at the airport lounge to clear my mails and have dinner.
  • However, that was not to be. Within 5 minutes of leaving for the airport, it started drizzling. Immediately thereafter, traffic snarls started. After about 45 minutes (at 6:45 pm), I checked with the taxi driver if we would make it to the airport on time. He said we should be at the airport by 8 pm. I was relieved.
  • However, the traffic snarls only got worse, and our speed slower and slower, till we came to a complete halt at one point. It was then that I realised that I was in real danger of missing my flight. I tweeted in frustration. 

  • Some Twitter friends wished me luck, pointing out that I had many more crowded areas to cross!

  • Amidst this turmoil, I was getting my Plan B ready. In case I missed my flight, I would check in to a hotel near the airport instead of returning back to the city (in view of the traffic snarls) and take the morning flight to Mangalore. I even called up Jet Airways to confirm the check-in time deadline in case one had already done a web check-in. I was clearly told I had to report 45 minutes prior to departure even if I had already done a web check-in. It meant that I had to report latest by 9:05 pm.
  • By the time we cleared the traffic snarls, it was already 9:15 pm and we had another 15 kms to cover. I almost lost hope. I still decided to give it a shot just in case there was a last minute flight delay from Jet Airways itself.
  • I reported at the check-in counter at 9:35 pm; barely 15 minutes before departure! The girl at the check-in counter first said it was too late. Then she realised I had already done my web check-in. Then she noticed that I was a Platinum JetPrivilege customer. She stood up and called her boss, informing about me and that she was checking me in as a special case. Since it was too late for checking in my luggage, she also took permission to allow me take the same as hand baggage. On getting the superior’s go-ahead, she asked a support staff to accompany me through the security using the gate meant for airport staff. 
  • On seeing that the support staff was taking me past a gate meant for staff, a CISF (security) official blasted him and threatened him, demanding he call his superior. The poor chap got terribly frightened. He had put his job on the line to ensure that I caught my flight. I noticed his plight and pleaded with the security official to pardon him and allow me to pass. He cooled down and let me in.
  • Having cleared the security, I ran towards the gate, only to be told that the last bus to the aircraft had already left. I again requested the gate staff. They relented and took me to the aircraft. 
  • I boarded the aircraft at 9:48 pm, barely 2 minutes before departure. Being the last one to board, all passengers turned back to see who the late entrant was!
  • However, I was tremendously relieved to have made it. The lady at the check-in counter, the support staff who carried my luggage through the security and faced the ire of the security official, the man at the gate who took me in a dedicated bus to the aircraft; all were unsung heroes in my eyes. I didn’t know their names but was full of gratitude for their having gone out of the way to help me catch my flight. Its employees like these that make any organisation a darling of customers!
  • Thanks Jet Airways for the excellent level of service quality! You made my day!!
  • I would be marking this blog post to the Jet Airways Twitter handle, hoping that it would be shared with those unsung heroes and they would read this. I also hope that Jet Airways rewards them for the exemplary commitment they showed towards customer delight. These employees are definitely an asset to Jet Airways.
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Air Costa, Where is your Customer Centricity?


Air Costa is a small, Vijaywada (India) headquartered airlines that seemed to have specialised on some routines (like Chennai-Jaipur, Chennai-Ahmedabad) connecting South India with some key towns in the North and West India. The airlines seemed to create a niche for itself by connecting towns that had no direct flight by other major airlines.

Take the example of the Chennai-Jaipur sector. With no other airlines connecting the two cities with direct flights, Air Costa launched one and became a preferred choice for me over the last two years. The airlines clocked the sector in two hours and twenty minutes flat while the other airlines took four and a half hours with their hopping flights.

Therefore, despite being a Jet Privilege member, I preferred Air Costa whenever I travelled on the Chennai-Jaipur or Chennai-Ahmedabad sectors.


However, the way Air Costa treated passengers like me recently on the Chennai-Jaipur sector during the peak 2015 Christmas-New Year season has left a bad taste and has forced me to take a pledge – never again travel by Air Costa. It is better to rely on the likes of Jet Airways as they are not only more reliable but also highly customer friendly.

I had my Silver Jubilee school reunion planned in Rajasthan during Christmas of 2015. I therefore booked to-and-fro tickets for the entire family with Air Costa in September 2015 itself. On December 21st, 2015, I got a shocker of a call from Air Costa that all flights on the Chennai-Jaipur sector between 26th December 2015 and 4th January 2016 had been cancelled.


Since I was leaving for Jaipur on 23rd December 2015 itself, that flight was confirmed but the return flight on 2nd January 2016 for all family members was summarily cancelled. The terse communication from Ait Costa was that the flights were being cancelled due to ‘operational reasons’ and that the booking amount was being refunded.

I had the following objections to what Air Costa had done.

  • The cancellation was last minute. With fares sky rocketing by December 21st 2015, any alternative bookings would cause immense financial loss to customers like me, who had bookings done for the entire family.
  • Air Costa, despite repeated requests, didn’t divulge the ‘operational reasons’ that resulted in cancellation of flights. Why? Clearly, the cancellation had something to do with gross negligence and dereliction of duty somewhere within their system – reasons behind which they knew they would not be able to hide. I will speculate on the reasons a bit later.
  • Air Costa decided that it would neither book the passengers in alternative flights with other airlines nor re-imburse the excess ticket cost incurred by me in alternative bookings owing to the last minute cancellation.

When Air Costa didn’t respond favourably to my request for booking us in alternative flights of other airlines, I had to book our return flight with Indigo, incurring more than double the original cost of tickets. Not only that, I lost two days of the family vacation as I had to pre-pone my return journey to keep the financial impact of the rebooking within reasonable limits (else, the cost to me would have been 3x the original cost).


Air Costa turned down my request for reimbursing the excess fare incurred, citing some rules. This was grossly unfair which has forced me to do three things :-

  • Write this blog post, so that the readers are aware of the pitfalls of flying with Air Costa.
  • Put up a formal complaint with the DGCA and request for justice from an erring airline.
  • Take a pledge to never ever fly with Air Costa in future.

On the probable reasons on why Air Costa summarily cancelled the peak season flights at the last minute, there are two theories doing the rounds.

  • The aircraft flying the Chennai-Jaipur sector had to undergo a repair by 31st December 2015; mandated by some guidelines, something which the Air Costa management knew well in advance yet didn’t plan the repair. I think the airlines realised only as late as December that the repairs were mandated by guidelines and couldn’t be avoided, resulting in the last minute cancellation. If this theory is true, it’s a clear case of gross negligence and poor management by Air Costa. Air Costa not only didn’t arrange for an alternative aircraft but also continued to accept flight bookings.
  • The aircraft flying the Jaipur-Chennai sector was put on duty on some other, more lucrative sectors during the peak season. If this theory is true, nothing could be more unfair to the customers.

Please note that I am forced to speculate on the reasons of cancellation as Air Costa refuses to divulge the actual reason till date. My assessment is based on my informal chats with the Air Costa ground staff and some fellow passengers.

I shall be forwarding this blog post to DGCA as well and request that

  • My blog post be treated as a formal complaint against Air Costa.
  • The DGCA should investigate the real reasons behind the en-masse cancellation of Air Costa flights from 26th December 2015 to 4th January 2016 which put the customers at extreme inconvenience and financial distress during peak season.
  • If the DGCA finds that it was gross negligence and dereliction of duty within the Air Costa system that was behind the cancellations, the airlines must be appropriately penalised.
  • I request the DGCA  to direct Air Costa to reimburse my return fare on actuals. Mere refund of my September 2015 booking amount would be grossly unfair, considering the circumstances.


I have learnt my lesson from the episode. Always trust the airlines which have painstakingly built their reputation over the years instead of betting on some rooky novices like Air Costa which can ditch the customers at any point of time.

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Surviving In A Crisis

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Curtesy saharasamay.com

What’s it like to be a household in crisis during a natural disaster? Well, we had a close shave during the ongoing Chennai rains.

Chennai rains this time broke a 100 year old record and have, in the process, brought immense discomfort to the residents, to put it mildly. They also gave a glimpse of what all can go wrong during a crisis of this nature.

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Curtesy The Hindu

It all starts with the event (heavy rains in this case) followed by an electricity outage. This outage is due to both – faults in the distribution lines as well as precautionary, lest it should electrocute someone accidentally if not shut down.

This starts the downward spiral. Loss of electricity results in outages at the mobile towers and internet service providers. The household gets totally cut off from the outside world. Landlines too, especially if they are from BSNL, become inactive in no time.

At home, inverters provide backup for a few hours. However, since the electricity outage is for days together, they offer succour for a limited period.

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When the clouds come again and again and…!

The next hit are the essential supplies. Panic buying ensures that milk and bread disappear from shelves of the neighbourhood shops in no time. Fresh vegetable cannot be stored as refrigerator at home won’t work. Hence, limited quantities of whatever is available is bought at exorbitant prices. With fresh supplies uncertain owing to blocked roads and closed shops, vegetable that can last longer (like potatoes) are bought in larger quantities. The household shifts to pulses and dishes made of flour.

Bank ATMs do not function due to electricity outages and inability of banks to load cash in time. Card is not accepted if there is no electricity at the stores. A family not having enough cash runs into trouble.

Candles too vanish from shop shelves quickly. If available, shopkeepers quadruple the prices. Take it or leave it! Petrol pumps run out of fuel but that’s not much of a worry as one cannot anyway take one’s vehicle out.

At home, drinking water becomes an issue as water purifiers won’t work! One has to boil tank water and drink; that too if the tank has any water left! If the household depends on a pump to push water to the rooftop tank, it is stuck till the electricity is restored!

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Curtesy Mansoor Alikhan K/Twitter

Simultaneously, clothes pile up for washing and drying and in a few days, one runs out of clean clothing!

In this scenario, for how many days would a household last? And Yes, if one wishes to escape the mayhem, one cannot; as air, train and road traffic is shut down too!

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Curtesy financialexpress.com

The above description is of a household that hasn’t needed to be evacuated to safer destinations, doesn’t have aged members, patients or pregnant women. Imagine the scenario when these variables are brought into the picture!

One comes across three broad sets of people during such crises. One, that starts looking for needy people in the immediate neighbourhood and offers help. Two, that doesn’t actively seek out people needing help but offers help, both monetary and otherwise, when requested. Three, that makes such crises an opportunity to make a fast buck. Yes, the third category exists.

Having gone through a crisis recently (actually one that’s not fully over yet as I write this), I realise we are so dependent on public utilities that there is no one way to be best prepared for a crisis. However, we would do well to be part of neighbourhood communities to be able to pool resources to survive, if the need arises. How important, therefore, is to know and engage with one’s neighbourhood, is worth a thought!

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Isha Insight : A Leadership Development Program With A Difference

Narayana Murthy

Narayana Murthy with Sadhguru at Isha Insight 2015

I am a management professional who believes that learning is a continuous process; and to that end, it is important to keep oneself up-to-date with the latest and the best programs in the country.

Those connected with me on social media and regular readers of this blog would recall my posts like My Yoga Experiences, Corporate Life And Spiritualism, When I Walked On Fire (Literally), Human Process Lab : Unmasking behaviours, Having A Personal Vision, Spiritual Quotient And Leadership etc..

I have tried to share details of some of these novel programs; should it interest anyone looking for such programs for one’s own development.

I recently attended a leadership development program with a difference – one that not only allows entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs to network with the creme de la creme of the corporate sector but also blends business leadership with spirituality and yoga.

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The program was Isha Insight : The DNA Of Success. This 4-days program is an annual feature and is organised by the Isha Foundation. Isha Foundation is a non-religious, non-profit, public service organisation which addresses all aspects of human wellbeing through Yoga and Outreach programs.

The structure of the program, which is still evolving, involves 200+ participants seated on 20 odd round tables and watching panel discussions, lectures and debates on stage, relating the learning with their business realities, asking questions and discussing among themselves.

 

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One of the team tables at the program

Each table of participants has a resource leader who is a big name from the corporate sector. These resource leaders guide participants through discussions within the table and are a privilege to listen to and interact with.

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Resource Leader of my team table, Mr MS Unnikrishnan, MD & CEO, Thermax Group

There are some keynote speakers, like Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy, KV Kamath etc. who share their life experiences to take learning from. Other keynote speakers involved are entrepreneurs who started small and made it big, or faced big hurdles but never gave up and ultimately built world class organisations. These stories are inspiring, deeply moving and it is a treat to listen to them from the horse’s mouth.

Sadguru, a mystic and a realised being as well as the founder of the Isha Foundation, is present through all these sessions and enthrals the audience with his wit and wisdom. Sadhguru also conducts 1.5 hour yoga sessions every morning for the participants which is a big attraction.

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Preparing for the morning yoga session conducted by Sadhguru

Then, there are huddles with resource leaders of one’s choice where one can discuss and seek advice for problems one faces in business.

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My huddle with Mr Deepak Satwalekar, Retd MD & CEO, HDFC Standard Life Insurance and Ex MD, HDFC Ltd. My question to him was – Can we predict business cycles?

For example, I noticed some entrepreneurs discussing their need to raise capital with some resource leaders associated with Banking industry. Some others discussed how they could professionalise their family run businesses.

There are also workshops conducted by these resource leaders on specific topics. Participants can choose the workshop of their need and learn.

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With Mr Luis Miranda, Chairman of CORO & Centre for Civil Society, Mr Deepak Satwalekar, Retd MD & CEO, HDFC Standard Life Insurance and Mr Pramod Chaudhari, Executive Chairman of Praj Industries, after a workshop conducted by them on Organisational Transformation

This is an excellent opportunity to have an outsider view from a top business leader of one’s organisation and the challenges one faces at work.

The program brings down barriers between big guns of the corporate sector and the rest. One interacts with and sees managing directors and CEOs of top organisations from such close quarters that the program seems a dream-come-true. It was amazing to find them humble, accessible and forthcoming. It was, therefore, not a surprise when I saw LinkedIn buzzing with MDs and CEOs connecting with many participants they met at the program.

Moreover, Isha Foundation has built a web based platform of its own to help the participants and business leaders stay connected. The participants’ network just grew qualitatively that much richer!

On the last day, a trek is organised to the nearby jungle at the foothills of the Velliangiri mountains (which are considered the Kailash of South India) where, near a small river stream, there is an opportunity to interact with Sadhguru through a Q&A session.

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Sadhguru at the Q&A session in the jungle at the foothills of the Velliangiri mountains

Q&A is followed by lunch in the jungle itself. (Utmost care is taken not to spread any filth in the jungle). This is as close to Mother Nature as one can get, given the concrete jungles that we have got accustomed to.

During the program, one finds time to take a dip in the Suryakund (for gents) and Chandrakund (for ladies) as well as visit the Dhyanalinga temple.

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Suryakund

Dhyanalinga

Dhyanalinga

This, coupled with morning yoga with Sadhguru and simple, satvik food rejuvenate one in ways one can’t imagine!

Not to mention the commitment levels of the volunteers – most of whom are highly qualified, well-to-do people, out there to give something back to the society without expecting anything in return.

While we all have heard that Spiritual Quotient is important for leaders, this program is the first one I have come across that actually aims to blend the two together. A must-attend for professionals!

 

 

 

Posted in Business, Leadership, Spirituality, Yoga | Leave a comment