Monthly Archives: February 2012

The new ‘DINK’

The ‘untended gap’ widens

One of the many acronyms in popular use today is ‘DINK’ – Double income, NO kids”. Meaning a household where both husband and wife work and do not have kids. It’s a trend that has been gathering momentum.

In some households, this is a brief phase. But in some others, DINK status morphs into another version – “Double income, NEVER kids”. In this case, time-poor couples, who are focused completely on their careers and on each other, may come to the decision that the ‘brood’ is just not for them.

For a surprisingly large number of households though, I would apply yet another version of DINK status, but this time to mean – “Double income, NAUGHTY kids”! A bit cheeky, I agree. But true, nevertheless.

Declining attention from work-obsessed parents is now a common malady. Children are often left unattended after school hours or are at the mercy of ‘baby sitters’ or minders. Invariably, when these parents do get back from work, they are too exhausted to be able to share any meaningful ‘quality time’ with the children. Children will eventually choose to fill this vacuum with other pursuits, interests and friends. Unfortunately, unsupervised, they could end up acquiring a taste for deviant or undesirable behavior (‘naughty’ behavior, as we so often pass this as).

We call this the ‘untended gap’.

 

I grew up in a lower middle class family. My dad was the bread winner and my mom was the home maker. She chose not to focus on a job that could have supplemented the family income. Instead, she focused on devoting her time to the three of us – my sister, my brother and me. Mom, by just being at home when we returned from school, helped us de-stress at the end of an eventful day. From her perspective as well, catching up with what happened to us in school, and advising us when we needed it, helped her stay ‘connected’ with us as we grew.

In saying this, I am not being prejudiced against double income households. What I do feel strongly though is that the news of a 10th grade student in a city school committing suicide because of examination pressure should be a wake-up call to all of us parents. When attention is not given to our kids on a consistent basis, we risk losing touch with their world and that could have serious repercussions at some point.

Pradeep

A Tale of Hope in the Hills

Trust you’ve had a great start to 2012. Of course everybody is hoping we’ve seen the last of some of the problems of 2011.Though problems do have a masterful way of disguising opportunities. That was a theme I covered in an article on leadership for ‘HR Matters’ which was the cover feature in the Jan 2012 issue. The link’s at the bottom of this mail, if you’d like to read it and do tell me what you think.

My friend and partner, Pradeep and I found a great example of leadership converting problem to opportunity at a rural hill town called Yelagiri. Last week we drove a little over 200 kilometres out of Chennai to reach Yelagiri. Fourteen hairpin bends later we were on top of the hills and visited the Don Bosco Institute of Information Technology. In an amazing example of how education can transform the villages, rural youth are being educated in information Technology and provided the path to meaningful employment. To top it off there’s a little rural BPO and software development company that has been set up on the same campus that provides students passing out with their initial employment while completing a post graduate degree.

Pradeep and I enjoyed a brief chat with a full class of students. We were bowled over by their confidence – “Do you feel you are at any disadvantage against your counterparts at a city college?” was met with a vociferous “Absolutely not.” Even their English was visibly better than the disappointing standard we experienced on a visit to a top city college. The result of a First semester focus on teaching English that has obviously paid off. For both Pradeep and I it was great validation of the transforming power of education. The small community of Salesian priests at Yelagiri have truly set up a model worth replicating.

Education has been hogging some headlines these past few weeks. India managed an abysmal second from last ranking in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) 2009+ results which were released late last year. We managed to pip Kyrgyzstan!! Bad news for sure, but the silver lining I took away was that India actually participated for the first time. And as years in the outsourcing business teach you – what you don’t measure, you don’t improve. So we finally have an internationally recognized benchmark. Faith in the enthusiasm and ability of the children I’ve been meeting these past few months allows me to predict a much better showing the next time round. But even then we will have much to do – to move from schooling to education.To ensure education converts into employability.

Dealing with the problem is like sucking a whale through a straw, but as Mark Twain put it, “Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.”

Until next time,
Leo

“Problem or Opportunity – the Leader’s Choice” – Cover Feature in the Jan 2012 issue of HR Matters