Adopting Best Practices in Leave Management

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Poised on this last day of August, it is eight months checked off the calendar in the soon-to-be-gone year 2017! With barely four months (122 days, 6 hours, 46 minutes, 17 seconds – to be exact) left before we finally bid the year adieu, suddenly a sizable chunk of time appears to have vanished. This leaves us wondering whether we could have done things better if only we had managed our time more efficiently. Going through the company deliverables and charting out near-future projections we notice a pattern of absences that make us realize that despite having an HR policy in place we still need to adopt certain best practices for leave management.

We need to get more resourceful in the art of managing absences by creating fool proof processes to handle leave absences,  for whatever reasons be they due to illness or injury. These processes will have to involve better responsiveness and proactive stance by employees. The goal of better managing sudden leave processes would be to control unexplained, unscheduled or excessive absenteeism. Any company needs to take care of neat hand-overs and smooth run-of-operations to meet the requirements of functioning of its varied units.

Despite having stated leave-of-absence rules and norms in place, there are bound to occur incidental events, occasions or hazards that may disrupt an employee’s regular work pace. These sudden lapses will decidedly affect direct costs to the company in the wake of unannounced incidental absences. Unplanned absences certainly result in indirect costs to the company in terms of lost productivity or replacement of manpower. We know full well that no sincere employee plays truant but unless some best practices are set in motion we cannot disrupt the progression of operations.

Often times we are really struck by the spate of such events and it is then that we look for ways to manage these kinds of situations created by sudden leave of absence. It is not possible to replace an employee at the spur of the moment and temp positions are still not available to us in our city. All this makes the absence management situation very much more complex, leading to heartburn, confusion and disarray if HR attempts at administering intermittent leaves with a heavy hand.

It is for this reason that management seeks to establish a process to facilitate employees with a clear cut modus operandi to ensure that the charted work does not suffer. Herein it would become essential to monitor and appraise individual employee requests and assess the reasonableness, urgency and necessity for leave absences in lieu of their commitment to return-to-work performances.

The company can feel really quite challenged if employees leave them high and dry, how-so-ever it might be able to manage processes in-house. It is for this reason that following a set of best practices in managing sudden absences will be critical. For one, employees must inform about leaves in the first hour if a situation is coming up that will require their absence. They should never wait to inform at the eleventh hour or depend on well-meaning colleagues to inform management. It is for this reason that we need to develop a written information sharing policy. Such will clarify the disability of the employee and give management time to intervene for makeshift alternate duties by other staff members.

Such processes of necessity require individual assessments as well as accommodations by the company to facilitate smooth run of operations. Further the establishment of a central leave reporting system (WhatsApp leave record group) would be ideal. Herein all absences may be reported in a single line at the very earliest. This will enable the HR managers to understand beforehand how to fill the gap. Once sudden leave gets notified the employee may begin with regular administrative procedures leaving no one in any kind of uncertainty.

What is really needed here is to develop the attitude for being responsive. This will save one from being classified with some employees who are regular leave-abusers and yes every office has them! We have all done it – combined Friday leaves until Mondays to extend weekends to do our thing!! However in case of unforeseen circumstances we should be seen as following best practices that will suit both management and us. This will make the process of reviewing and establishing clear cut norms for sudden leaves, and easier on HR to manage administering such leaves of absence. It would be good to adapt to this format of sudden leaves and HERD Group of Companies will certainly stand to benefit from continually improving on it.

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Vulnerability of Religiosity

The long arm of the law finally caught up with the so called god-man of Sirsa in Haryana. Fifteen long years of struggle since incrimination, this morning saw newspaper headlines emblazoning his 20 years imprisonment for brutal crimes. Social media is awash with more skeletons as victims come out with his strange ‘maafi’ (forgiveness) rituals for women and stories of men being castrated. It was truly all horrific! The cult-following enjoyed by this god-man can only be gauged by his Facebook page claiming – ‘more than 50 million people around the world as faithful followers’.

Even as we fail to understand such horrendous acts, so also we fail to understand the multitudes that throng such organizations. It is a despairing feature of our country that countless people become devotees of these self-proclaimed god-men. It is time we begin to question the rationality of these practices and look deeper inside to try and understand why they get so enamored. What is it that creates unflinching loyalty to these louts who get offered all the ill-founded veneration?

These bizarre figure-heads continue to draw vulnerable people in the name of religion.  Much like the axiomatic Pied Piper, be it the aged dhoti-clad reader-of-scriptures or the bling-appareled, gem-studded glib talker – hundreds of thousands of followers began to look upon them as saviors. Riddled with personal woes and copious troubles people flocked to them in hope of psychological respite and mystical ways out. They even end up offering their willing suspension of (dis)belief.  Who are these people that find time for these tricksters who soon enough begin to exercise abysmal control over them?

If you look closely it is certain classes of people who largely become followers. They are caught on by religiosity, caste-folds, paucity, and backwardness and are keen to don new identities. In the case of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Insaan, sentenced today, it was the Mazhabi or out-caste Sikhs that became firmly entrenched into the cult. Thousands and thousands of people from villages, towns, and bastis of Haryana began to find new-found dignity and social come-uppance as members of the Dera.

And the Dera was rich. As are other such ashrams providing alternate ways of life. Importantly they provide medical support, food security and psychological well-being to an otherwise neglected strata of society. The Dera in particular is quite modern in outlook. With malls and other facilities women particularly found it convenient as it afforded them a wonderful escape from ordinary humdrum lives. Not to speak of spiritual succor – the ultimate opium of the masses along with a sense of righteousness. In fact it offered all of which that should rightly be coming from the government.

It ought to be the government’s job to deliver succor, relief, fulfillment to its people. But it is the portals of such organizations that draw the multitudes seeking it there. And the government just plays the shut eye. Despite suspicions of wrong doings the powers-that-be know full-well that these god-men offer a vote bank. Electoral outcomes matter and officials do not hesitate to kow-tow to these feigning god-men. After all, their nod could mean tacit support for vote margins. The highest in the land have not hesitated to bestow patronage.

Women are willy-nilly drawn into the fold. Lower middle class vulnerable women more so. A sense of freedom, alternate lifestyle, peace of mind and most important food in their bellies are some of the alluring reasons that draw them over. But when they come to learn that gender disparity and exploitation raises its ugly head in these fiefdoms in graver and more insidious ways – often it becomes too late for a turnabout. Unfortunately young women and even young men have suffered most grievously at such places.

We can now but suggest that nobody ought to follow such god-men blindly. It becomes the responsibility of civic institutions to caution people about dangers of following cults. We should assist people to question themselves about what they do and why.  Let religion be in the private domain, within homes and reserved for inner contemplation and personal wellbeing. Let the sacrosanctity of religiosity be a matter of personal spiritualism and not become an opportunity in the hands of such culprits. Let us no longer be duped in the name of our religious vulnerability nor allow self-seeking god men to lay hand on ill-gotten gains, exploitations and our personal dignity.

Unconstitutional! Unconstitutional! Unconstitutional!

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Images – Courtesy Google 

The Supreme Court of India today granted victory to Indian women and makes August 22, 2017 a historical date! Marking a major victory for women’s rights activists, India’s topmost court has ruled the practice of instant divorce by just uttering the words – talaq, talaq, talaq as unconstitutional. The court has also stayed the practice for six months until the government brings up the needed legislation.

The Supreme Court verdict came after considering petitions challenging the so-called “triple talaq” custom. The cases were filed by five Muslim women who had been divorced this way and two rights groups. India was until now among a handful of countries where a Muslim man could divorce their wives in seconds by just saying the word talaq (divorce) three times.

With the Supreme Court’s judgment comes the suspension of instant Islamic divorces for the next six months. The Indian parliament has now to create appropriate laws and bring the legislation in place. Instigation by parents and family is the single largest reason for divorce among Muslims, according to a survey of 20,671 individuals (16,860 men and 3,811 women) carried out between the months of March-May 2017.

Interestingly, there were only 0.3% of reported divorces of both women and men respondents under the oral triple talaq at one go! The most common reasons cited for talaq and there percentiles are as follows: 13.27% – instigated by parents/relatives, 8.41% – unable to fulfill dowry demand, 7.96% – husband having affair, 7.08% – wife not having children, 6.19% – not being a good housewife, 4.87% – husband has no job/lost job, 4.42% – sexual incompatibility, 3.54% – husband does not like the wife, 2.65% – couple only has girl-children, 2,65% – wife’s health not good, 0.44% – spur of the moment anger, 0.88% – alcoholic – pronounced talaq under influence of alcohol, 37.61% – other reasons.

The Supreme Court struck down the validity of instant triple talaq by a majority of 3:2. A bench comprising of five judges, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar included Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and S Abdul Nazeer. There are actually six petitions before the Supreme Court, with the main plea filed by Uttarakhand-based Shayara Bano. Her husband of 15 years divorced her by pronouncing triple talaq.

In a 3:2 majority judgment, the Bench set aside talaq-e-biddat or instant talaq, the practice of Muslim men divorcing their wives by uttering talaq thrice consecutively. If a law does not come into force in six months’ time the Supreme Court injunction will continue. Interestingly countries in which triple talaq is already banned include Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangla Desh, Pakistan, Sudan, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Algeria and Tunisia.

Celebrating Tanha Pola : On Uncertain Notes

 

307913As rural hinterlands celebrate Tanha Pola today, it would perhaps be in a precarious state of mind. Pola is a rustic festival bestowing gratitude to hardy bullocks that assist farmers in accomplishing their tilling and other farm-related occupations. It is enjoyed fervently in Vidarbha and other parts of Maharashtra. These meek beasts of burden play a crucial role and the day is earmarked since times immemorial to venerate their silent role in the well-being of rural lives. The faltering monsoon situation however lends an air of uncertainty to the festivities.

Pithori Amavasya (new moon) in Shravana month sees farmers celebrating the festival with much enthusiasm and gaiety as they deck up their partners in toil. They pay homage to their bullocks for their enduring support in their cultivation efforts. Pola day begins with bulls being bathed, decorated with ornaments and shawls, horns painted and necks adorned with garlands, festoons and beads. And they are lovingly fed with special offerings made for the occasion.

Given a day to rest from their weary workload, the evening sees them being paraded in a procession. Farmers celebrate along the way accompanied by music and dancing. The event starts with an aging bullock leading ahead with a wooden frame (makhar) tied on its horns to break a string of mango leaves stretched between two posts. Once this is done all other decorated bulls join in the procession around the village.

Although the past week has seen a smattering of showers but there is still no rain as such worth the mention. The prolonged dry spell in and around Nagpur is a cause for worry, as rural hopes appear downcast, fearing crop loss. If a good spell of rain is not in the offing in the next fortnight and beyond the situation will have to be reviewed for suitable measures to save the fate of crops trying to come up in our parts.

For sure the rainfall in the districts of Vidarbha has been poor, compared to last year’s average. As per the agriculture department’s report, crops in many districts had begun to wilt while many appeared to be under threat of pest attacks. However the intermittent rains of the past week have revived the hopes of farmers. Even so the prediction is that productivity may likely be hit by 40%. Naturally in this state of affairs Tanha Pola celebrations are likely to be affected.

Ostensibly, the past two days have brought about a revival of the monsoon and despite the stress on crops due to dry spells; signs of traditional festivities is showing up in rural market places. The customary decorative items are on display and there’s a hustle and bustle in village bazaars. Women are preparing for the traditional meals, men are contemplating about tasks to be done and children are excited. Most especially for the ‘Chota Pola’ that follows the next day, when they will run around with wooden bullock replicas on wheels that will keep them amused endlessly.

Nonetheless today Bail Pola is certainly seeing bullocks being revered and farmers celebrating everywhere, despite uncertainty about the rains. As evening draws closer celebrations are marked with decorated bulls in sparkling ornaments ready to be paraded. Even the usual rope harness on them gets un-tethered today, while cows too are made part of the ritual festivities. Rural families prepare delicious traditional food and visit friends and relatives. The elderly explain the traditions and history behind Pola celebrations and feel happy that traditions are being kept alive. Rains or no rains harried peasants will not let the day go by un-celebrated.

World Humanitarian Day

 

August 19 is designated as World Humanitarian Day by the United Nations General Assembly as part of a Swedish-sponsored GA Resolution on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations. The day commemorates the tragic loss of Vieira de Mello and his 21 colleagues along with all humanitarian personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice while relieving the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises.

The day keeps the spirit of humanitarian efforts alive while offering the rationalist outlook for adopting the notion of an ethical stance to emphasize the value of human beings, individually and collectively. Humanitarianism reflects a democratic and ethical affirmation that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. Humanitarian vision stands for the building of a more humane society.

World Humanitarian Day 2017 campaigns with the theme ‘Not A Target’ and dedicates the day to recognize humanitarian personnel and others who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. It marks the day on which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.

Around the world, conflict is exacting a massive toll on people’s lives. Trapped in wars that are not of their making, millions of civilians are forced to hide or run for their lives. Children are taken out of school, families are displaced from their homes, and communities are torn apart, while the world is not doing enough to stop their suffering. At the same time, health and aid workers – who risk their lives to care for people affected by violence – are increasingly being targeted.

For WHD 2017, humanitarian partners are coming together to reaffirm that civilians caught in conflict are #NotATarget. Through a global online campaign featuring an innovative partnership with Facebook Live, together with events held around the world, voices are being raised to advocate for those most vulnerable in war zones, and demand that world leaders do everything their power to protect civilians in conflict.

This campaign follows on the UN Secretary-General’s report on protection of civilians, which was launched earlier this year. Laying out his ‘path to protection’, the Secretary-General calls for enhanced respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical workers as well as civilian infrastructure. World Humanitarian Day 19 August, 2017 pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

Of Chaos and Inner Clutter

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Images Courtesy Google

It’s a frenzied world out there. From aggrieved news channels reporting nothing but chaos to the information overload of the social media – everything seems to be clogging the brain.  The past few days have been especially harrowing. Ghosts of white supremacy in America, terror attacks in Spain, the stand-off between India and China – things appear to be going awry causing a sense of desperation all over.

The resignation today of Infosys CEO brings us back with a resounding thud to the way business has begun to be conducted. The quitting comes as a culmination to the never ending wrangles going on between the company and its founder-members for some time now. Top notch professionals locking horns over governance issues, attitudes and ownership.

Such extraneous crisis situations can actually play on individual minds. Our minds can only take in so many fracases. So when the world gets too much for you the good thing would be to just shut it off. That is the simplest and the best thing to do in the face of such irrelevant mental exhaustion. Bring out the stress balls and learn to eliminate all peripheral disorder. Gradually learn to concentrate on things you need to do for yourself.

Process. Prioritize. Play it out. Get your to-do-list out and start ticking it off. Once the mind becomes focused you become a little less frazzled and the clutter slowly dissipates. Start taking ways to actively focus and re-energize your brain.  Follow simple effective ways to un-clutter your brain to regain your composure. One of the best things to do is to just say stop to the thoughts inside you.

Easier said than done you might say. But it is possible. Sift through the themes of your thoughts and check out which ones you need to deal with in the immediate work-related situation. As you gradually come to grips with tasks to be done you eventually restore calm to the flood of thoughts. Continue in this manner and very consciously avoid taking in any outside information.

This kind of self-control allows you to focus wholly on the task at hand. Meet that client. Visit the depot. Write that report. The sense of doing something worthwhile and remaining committed to your responsibilities is something that will help you ease out of your over-stretched mind. Once you learn to tap into your thought processes you will have a hold on things around you.

Continue working positively on your mind beyond work hours too. Learn how to escape time! Start doing things that you just love to do. Allow your mind to focus on fun things. Most important release the need to control everything. Most of us with overactive minds have the need to remain in control of most everything in our lives. Just let go!

Do something interesting like start writing a diary. Or just live in the ‘now’ taking in the present more consciously. Connect with nature – go for a walk, exercise, yoga – whatever suits you. Listen to your body. Certainly positive affirmations and proactive stance for your inner balance will keep you balanced. Dismember the media thieves bringing in so much disruption for you. Finally, enjoy the changes you bring to yourself.

Clean India – Green India

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The Clean India Mission launched by the government is a laudable mission. Although begun with zest and passion with suitably amended systems of efficient garbage disposal, we still fail to keep our environs spick and span. For one, we have loads of natural debris free-flying all over and second, lack of civic sense makes matters worse. We Indians may be the cleanest of people within our homes but when it comes to keeping public spaces clean and spruced up we fail in every sense of the word. No brand ambassador can possibly get us to take up the cudgels unless we have been prepared for the task early-on.

Cleanliness and hands-on cleaning lessons should be made mandatory for children in school so that a whole new generation imbibes the importance of spotless surroundings. Both The USA and Japan teach young children in school to work at keeping sanitized bathrooms, ready for subsequent use by fellow classmates. Kids there feel no shame or repugnance in rolling up their sleeves, donning gloves and cleaning up toilets. It is our predispositions and learned susceptibilities that stop us from doing the same. Plus we have the luxury of cheap labour available to do these jobs.

Waste management of odds and ends in India has always run systemically through recycling, making it a sustainable business. We are again fortunate for having the ubiquitous ‘raddiwallahs’ doing the rounds and helping us get rid of clutter of all kind – old newspapers, old clothes, used bottles, tins and everything in between. Along with municipalities getting into the act for garbage disposal these ‘raddiwallahs’ too assist in restoring cleanliness in our homes. However present day over consumerist societies are losing the balance and disrupting these trends with the new culture of everything-throwaway. From plastic bags to online merchandise packing we are throwing paper, cardboard and plastics out the doors for someone else to collect.

The ever increasing waste materials have become a by-product of modern living. Despite norms and legislation for regulating disposal of waste, the unsightly heaps of overflowing rubbish mounds continue to abound. Even with licensed outsourcing of tasks and civic rules in place, compliance appears to be lax. This is especially dangerous during monsoons leading to clogged drains, gutters and nullahs, as well as posing serious threats for foraging animals and rag pickers alike. The recent shocking deaths of gutter-cleaners raised a big hue and cry on following days but ended a natural death. After all today’s newspapers are tomorrow’s rubbish!

As India celebrates 70 years of Independence, it is time to take stock of the rapid urbanization in our country that is making waste management to be such a big challenge. “Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites”. These statistics are as per Down To earth environmental magazine. Solid Waste Management is still one of the most basic and essential services devised to keep our cities clean.  Yet the truth is that municipalities simply dump garbage outside city limits. There are no checks and balances on proper disposal.

Of late some cursory measures that are still to be followed systematically have begun to ensure due segregation of waste at source. Again here the people have to make sure that they do this conscientiously.  Since we already sell ‘raddi’ to the recycling industry it should not be an unusual task to segregate waste on a daily basis. This will ensure less waste reaching landfills. It should be the responsibility of the municipalities that just as they have set up a system for collection and transportation, like wise they should have good follow up mechanisms for processing and proper disposal.

With nearly 100 cities slated to be converted into smart cities, the first smart move should be implement effective waste management strategies and challenge people to adapt lifestyles accordingly. Aside from municipalities, schools, colleges, hospitals, corporate houses, government institutions should be made the first line of hand-holders.  A good move planned is to do away with landfill sites and replace them with compost pits for organic waste. Community participation will be crucial and they will have to be made aware of other kinds of waste like e-waste, bio-medical waste and so on. The way forward would certainly be to go full scale with Clean India and Green India as we step into the 71st year of our Independence.

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