An Indian Civilizational Perspective

That plane ticket, prestige …. and duty

Nice story – its makes you humbler than we are used to…

Vivek Pradhan was not a happy man. Even the plush comfort of the
air-conditioned compartment of the Shatabdi express could not cool his
frayed nerves. He was the Project Manager and still not entitled to air
travel. It was not the prestige he sought; he had tried to reason with the
admin person, it was the savings in time. As PM, he had so many things to
do!!

He opened his case and took out the laptop, determined to put the time to
some good use.

“Are you from the software industry sir,” the man beside him was staring
appreciatively at the laptop.

Vivek glanced briefly and mumbled in affirmation, handling the laptop now
with exaggerated care and importance as if it were an expensive car.

“You people have brought so much advancement to the country, Sir. Today
everything is getting computerized. “

“Thanks,” smiled Vivek, turning around to give the man a look.

He always found it difficult to resist appreciation. The man was young and
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D([“mb”,”u003cbr>nwell built like a sportsman. He looked simple and strangely out of place inu003cbr>nthat little lap of luxury like a small town boy in a prepu003cbr>nschool.u003cbr>nu003cbr>nHe probably was a railway sportsman making the most of his free travelingu003cbr>npass.u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"You people always amaze me," the man continued, "You sit in an office andu003cbr>nwrite something on a computer and it does so many big things outside."u003cbr>nu003cbr>nVivek smiled deprecatingly. Naiveness demanded reasoning not anger. "It isu003cbr>nnot as simple as that my friend. It is not just a question of writing a fewu003cbr>nlines. There is a lot of process that goes behind it."u003cbr>nu003cbr>nFor a moment, he was tempted to explain the entire Software Developmentu003cbr>nLifecycle but restrained himself to a single statement. "It is complex, veryu003cbr>ncomplex."u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"It has to be. No wonder you people are so highly paid," came the reply.u003cbr>nu003cbr>nThis was not turning out as Vivek had thought. A hint of belligerence creptu003cbr>ninto his so far affable, persuasive tone. " Everyone just sees the money. Nou003cbr>none sees the amount of hard work we have to put in. Indians have such au003cbr>nnarrow concept of hard work. Just because we sit in an air-conditionedu003cbr>noffice, does not mean our brows do not sweat. You exercise the muscle; weu003cbr>nexercise the mind and believe me that is no less taxing." He could see, heu003cbr>nhad the man where he wanted, and it was time to drive home the point.u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"Let me give you an example. Take this train. The entire railway reservationu003cbr>nsystem is computerized. You can book a train ticket between any two stationsu003cbr>nfrom any of the hundreds of computerized booking centres across the country.u003cbr>nThousands of transactions accessing a single database, at a timeu003cbr>nconcurrently; data integrity, locking, data security. Do you understand theu003cbr>ncomplexity in designing and coding such a system?"u003cbr>nu003cbr>nThe man was awestruck; quite like a child at a planetarium.u003cbr>nu003cbr>nThis was something big and beyond his imagination. "You design and code such”,1] );

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well built like a sportsman. He looked simple and strangely out of place in
that little lap of luxury like a small town boy in a prep
school.

He probably was a railway sportsman making the most of his free traveling
pass.

“You people always amaze me,” the man continued, “You sit in an office and
write something on a computer and it does so many big things outside.”

Vivek smiled deprecatingly. Naiveness demanded reasoning not anger. “It is
not as simple as that my friend. It is not just a question of writing a few
lines. There is a lot of process that goes behind it.”

For a moment, he was tempted to explain the entire Software Development
Lifecycle but restrained himself to a single statement. “It is complex, very
complex.”

“It has to be. No wonder you people are so highly paid,” came the reply.

This was not turning out as Vivek had thought. A hint of belligerence crept
into his so far affable, persuasive tone. ” Everyone just sees the money. No
one sees the amount of hard work we have to put in. Indians have such a
narrow concept of hard work. Just because we sit in an air-conditioned
office, does not mean our brows do not sweat. You exercise the muscle; we
exercise the mind and believe me that is no less taxing.” He could see, he
had the man where he wanted, and it was time to drive home the point.

“Let me give you an example. Take this train. The entire railway reservation
system is computerized. You can book a train ticket between any two stations
from any of the hundreds of computerized booking centres across the country.
Thousands of transactions accessing a single database, at a time
concurrently; data integrity, locking, data security. Do you understand the
complexity in designing and coding such a system?”

The man was awestruck; quite like a child at a planetarium.

This was something big and beyond his imagination. “You design and code such
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D([“mb”,”u003cbr>nthings."u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"I used to," Vivek paused for effect, "but now I am the Project Manager."u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"Oh!" sighed the man, as if the storm had passed over, "so your life is easyu003cbr>nnow."u003cbr>nu003cbr>nThis was like the last straw for Vivek. He retorted, "Oh come on, does lifeu003cbr>never get easy as you go up the ladder. Responsibility only brings more work.u003cbr>nDesign and coding! That is the easier part. Now I do not do it, but I amu003cbr>nresponsible for it and believe me, that is far more stressful. My job is tou003cbr>nget the work done in time and with the highest quality. To tell you aboutu003cbr>nthe pressures, there is the customer at one end, always changing hisu003cbr>nrequirements, the user at the other, wanting something else, and your boss,u003cbr>nalways expecting you to have finished it yesterday."u003cbr>nu003cbr>nVivek paused in his diatribe, his belligerence fading with self-realization.u003cbr>nWhat he had said, was not merely the outburst of a wronged man, it was theu003cbr>ntruth. And one need not get angry while defending the truth. "My friend," heu003cbr>nconcluded triumphantly, "you don't know what it is to be in the Line ofu003cbr>nFire".u003cbr>nu003cbr>nThe man sat back in his chair, his eyes closed as if in realization. When heu003cbr>nspoke after sometime, it was with a calm certainty that surprised Vivek.u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"I know sir, I know what it is to be in the Line of Fire." He was staringu003cbr>nblankly, as if no passenger, no train existed, just a vast expanse of time.u003cbr>n"There were 30 of us when we were ordered to capture Point 4875 in the coveru003cbr>nof the night. The enemy was firing from the top. There was no knowing whereu003cbr>nthe next bullet was going to come from and for whom. In the morning when weu003cbr>nfinally hoisted the tricolour at the top only 4 of us were alive."u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"You are a…?"u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"I am Subedar Sushant from the 13 J&K Rifles on duty at Peak 4875 in Kargil.u003cbr>nThey tell me I have completed my term and can opt for a soft assignment.”,1] );

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things.”

“I used to,” Vivek paused for effect, “but now I am the Project Manager.”

“Oh!” sighed the man, as if the storm had passed over, “so your life is easy
now.”

This was like the last straw for Vivek. He retorted, “Oh come on, does life
ever get easy as you go up the ladder. Responsibility only brings more work.
Design and coding! That is the easier part. Now I do not do it, but I am
responsible for it and believe me, that is far more stressful. My job is to
get the work done in time and with the highest quality. To tell you about
the pressures, there is the customer at one end, always changing his
requirements, the user at the other, wanting something else, and your boss,
always expecting you to have finished it yesterday.”

Vivek paused in his diatribe, his belligerence fading with self-realization.
What he had said, was not merely the outburst of a wronged man, it was the
truth. And one need not get angry while defending the truth. “My friend,” he
concluded triumphantly, “you don’t know what it is to be in the Line of
Fire”.

The man sat back in his chair, his eyes closed as if in realization. When he
spoke after sometime, it was with a calm certainty that surprised Vivek.

“I know sir, I know what it is to be in the Line of Fire.” He was staring
blankly, as if no passenger, no train existed, just a vast expanse of time.
“There were 30 of us when we were ordered to capture Point 4875 in the cover
of the night. The enemy was firing from the top. There was no knowing where
the next bullet was going to come from and for whom. In the morning when we
finally hoisted the tricolour at the top only 4 of us were alive.”

“You are a…?”

“I am Subedar Sushant from the 13 J&K Rifles on duty at Peak 4875 in Kargil.
They tell me I have completed my term and can opt for a soft assignment.
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D([“mb”,”u003cbr>nBut, tell me sir, can one give up duty just because it makes life easier. Onu003cbr>nthe dawn of that capture, one of my colleagues lay injured in the snow, openu003cbr>nto enemy fire while we were hiding behind a bunker. It was my job to go andu003cbr>nfetch that soldier to safety. But my captain sahib refused me permission andu003cbr>nwent ahead himself. He said that the first pledge he had taken as au003cbr>nGentleman Cadet was to put the safety and welfare of the nation foremostu003cbr>nfollowed by the safety and welfare of the men he commanded… ….his ownu003cbr>npersonal safety came last, always and every time."u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"He was killed as he shielded and brought that injured soldier into theu003cbr>nbunker. Every morning thereafter, as we stood guard, I could see him takingu003cbr>nall those bullets, which were actually meant for me. I know sir….I know,u003cbr>nwhat it is to be in the Line of Fire."u003cbr>nu003cbr>nVivek looked at him in disbelief not sure of how to respond. Abruptly, heu003cbr>nswitched off the laptop. It seemed trivial, even insulting to edit a Wordu003cbr>ndocument in the presence of a man for whom valour and duty was a daily partu003cbr>nof life; valour and sense of duty which he had so far attributed only tou003cbr>nepical heroes.u003cbr>nu003cbr>nThe train slowed down as it pulled into the station, and Subedar Sushantu003cbr>npicked up his bags to alight.u003cbr>nu003cbr>n"It was nice meeting you sir."u003cbr>nu003cbr>nVivek fumbled with the handshake. This hand… had climbed mountains,u003cbr>npressed the trigger, and hoisted the tricolour. Suddenly, as if by impulse,u003cbr>nhe stood up at attention and his right hand went up in anu003cbr>nimpromptu salute.u003cbr>nu003cbr>nIt was the least he felt he could do for the country.u003cbr>nu003cbr>nPS: The incident he narrated during the capture of Peak 4875 is a true-lifeu003cbr>nincident during the Kargil war. Capt. Batra sacrificed his life while tryingu003cbr>nto save one of the men he commanded, as victory was within sight. For thisu003cbr>nand various other acts of bravery, he was awarded the Param Vir Chakrau003cbr>n(Medal), the nation's highest military award.”,1] );

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But, tell me sir, can one give up duty just because it makes life easier. On
the dawn of that capture, one of my colleagues lay injured in the snow, open
to enemy fire while we were hiding behind a bunker. It was my job to go and
fetch that soldier to safety. But my captain sahib refused me permission and
went ahead himself. He said that the first pledge he had taken as a
Gentleman Cadet was to put the safety and welfare of the nation foremost
followed by the safety and welfare of the men he commanded… ….his own
personal safety came last, always and every time.”

“He was killed as he shielded and brought that injured soldier into the
bunker. Every morning thereafter, as we stood guard, I could see him taking
all those bullets, which were actually meant for me. I know sir….I know,
what it is to be in the Line of Fire.”

Vivek looked at him in disbelief not sure of how to respond. Abruptly, he
switched off the laptop. It seemed trivial, even insulting to edit a Word
document in the presence of a man for whom valour and duty was a daily part
of life; valour and sense of duty which he had so far attributed only to
epical heroes.

The train slowed down as it pulled into the station, and Subedar Sushant
picked up his bags to alight.

“It was nice meeting you sir.”

Vivek fumbled with the handshake. This hand… had climbed mountains,
pressed the trigger, and hoisted the tricolour. Suddenly, as if by impulse,
he stood up at attention and his right hand went up in an
impromptu salute.

It was the least he felt he could do for the country.

PS: The incident he narrated during the capture of Peak 4875 is a true-life
incident during the Kargil war. Capt. Batra sacrificed his life while trying
to save one of the men he commanded, as victory was within sight. For this
and various other acts of bravery, he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra
(Medal), the nation’s highest military award.
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D([“mb”,”u003cbr>nu003cbr>nLive humbly, there are great people around us.u003cbr>nu003cbr>n– u003cbr>nSanjeev Tripathiu003cbr>nIIM Ahmedabad,u003cbr>nRing: FPMH 16u003cbr>nTring: 07926327916,u003cbr>nPing: u003ca hrefu003d”mailto:sanjeev%40iimahd.ernet.in” targetu003d”_blank” onclicku003d”return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)”>sanjeev@iimahd.ernet.inu003c/a> , u003ca hrefu003d”mailto:sanjeev_tripathi%40yahoo.com” targetu003d”_blank” onclicku003d”return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)”>sanjeev_tripathi@yahoo.comu003c/a>u003cbr>nu003cbr>nCalvin: I'm a genius, but I'm a misunderstood genius.u003cbr>nHobbes: What's misunderstood about you?u003cbr>nCalvin: Nobody thinks I'm a genius.u003cbr>nu003cbr>n– u003cbr>ni am largeu003cbr>ni contradict myselfu003cbr>ni contain multitudesu003cbr>nu003cbr>n[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]u003cbr>nu003cbr>nu003c/p>n u003c/div> nn n u003cspan widthu003d”1″ styleu003d”color:white”>__._,_.___u003c/span>n n u003cdiv>n u003cspan>n u003ca hrefu003d”http://groups.yahoo.com/group/irmaalumni/message/7807;_ylcu003dX3oDMTMyaTM4NmsyBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzcyNzE4BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTA4MDg2NgRtc2dJZAM3ODA3BHNlYwNmdHIEc2xrA3Z0cGMEc3RpbWUDMTE5MzU3NDM0OQR0cGNJZAM3ODA3″ targetu003d”_blank” onclicku003d”return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)”>n Messages in this topic u003c/a> (u003cspan>1u003c/span>)n u003c/span>n u003ca hrefu003d”http://groups.yahoo.com/group/irmaalumni/post;_ylcu003dX3oDMTJuZjQzcnA5BF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzcyNzE4BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTA4MDg2NgRtc2dJZAM3ODA3BHNlYwNmdHIEc2xrA3JwbHkEc3RpbWUDMTE5MzU3NDM0OQ–?actu003dreply&messageNumu003d7807″ targetu003d”_blank” onclicku003d”return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)”>n u003cspan>n Reply u003c/span> (via web post)n u003c/a> | n u003ca hrefu003d”http://groups.yahoo.com/group/irmaalumni/post;_ylcu003dX3oDMTJjazBwbXY5BF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzcyNzE4BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTA4MDg2NgRzZWMDZnRyBHNsawNudHBjBHN0aW1lAzExOTM1NzQzNDk-” targetu003d”_blank” onclicku003d”return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)”>n Start a new topic u003c/a>n u003c/div> n n n u003cdiv>n u003ca hrefu003d”http://groups.yahoo.com/group/irmaalumni/messages;_ylcu003dX3oDMTJjODQxZjZoBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzcyNzE4BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTA4MDg2NgRzZWMDZnRyBHNsawNtc2dzBHN0aW1lAzExOTM1NzQzNDk-” targetu003d”_blank” onclicku003d”return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)”>”,1] );

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Live humbly, there are great people around us.

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