Old post- Posted in Times of India on 29th November 2016. Link here and also the entire article is also reposted here-
Dear ‘Whoever the esteemed reader wishes to be called’,
Let me welcome you to the Indian corporate world. Oh what a jungle!
After a long sabbatical of close to a decade, I have had the opportunity to revisit this exotic place and have enjoyed the adventures again. Now that this exotic safari is coming to an end, it’s time to share the story and provide a glimpse to the main attractions- the magnificent animals, the safe vehicles to board, the rules to follow and the games to play so as to enable you to have the best of the thrills, should you wish to take this exciting journey.
Are you ready to rock and roll? Great, here’s the ‘Great Indian Corporate Jungle Book’-
‘Enter’- Enter at your own risk and make your own way. There are normally no road maps available and even the direction signs are fudgy. Unlike paved roads like structured orientation and training schedules in the West that you necessarily need to go through before you are allowed to even touch base with anyone, here ‘orientation’ is more of a burden on HR’s head and most would like to keep it light. You know what I mean! If HR even decides to show you around a few steps they have done a great job. My best advice would still be that don’t follow what they say as they are as clueless as the rest. Just start and keep moving and follow your gut instincts! After all you are in jungle now!
‘Safety First’- Please always remember that you are in jungle and your personal safety comes first. Do not ever walk, talk, plan or act alone. That is suicide! You will be the dumbest target for any vicious animal. Also understand the dynamics of the group that you join. Know your co-passengers well. Find out who will drive the vehicle and never volunteer to drive on your own as you would invariably be lost. Better to let the blame go on some dumb fool who wishes to lead. Don’t give directions even if you can read the compass or see the light. Anything which sounds intelligent or reasonable is detested. Let the group talk or listen to the great leader and go directionless. That is safe- If not for the group, at least for you. Always stay covered with safety equipment like email trails for every word spoken, very long minutes of the meetings so that no one would read them ever again, saying aloud your yes to every word that the leader says even if you see the perils of his action. In short, keep your back end protected lest your front end put you in danger zone.
So now that you are ready, let us talk about the rules to follow to enable you to come out in one piece.
Being a jungle it is allowed to be quite unruly. Sure you have to get into the groove, be free and sing Yahoo, as a ‘Jungli’. Well guess what, you are allowed to do almost anything. Bribe, corrupt, beg, borrow, steal, anything that keeps you going up the corporate ladder!
You could lack personal hygiene or keep your place as dirty as you want and it’s all good. Dust filled files, dirty keyboards and screens, garbage and scrap lying around all over in factories and offices, leaking and smelly toilets, broken window panes- these are common adorable sites in the Indian industry. Actually you will fall in love with this after a while as the dirtier you are, the busier you can portray yourself to be and the higher you can reach. Want to get dirty in thoughts and spoken words too. Wink-Wink, that works too! So get ready to fall in muddy waters and enjoy the wild times.
Since this is a jungle, your freedom and that of a few apes who take pride in being one, entitles you to almost all the pleasures in life for which you had to pay earlier. Please use copy-pasting other ideas, reverse engineering, duplicating all ingenious ideas without any worries. Intellectual or copy right protection has no meaning here and anyone can use any idea freely. It’s a jungle so get lose with morals, ethics and ideas and break all the rules!
And yet, alas there are a few rules. And these are Jungle rules built basically on survival instincts and hence are unbreakable. You better learn them by heart-
Class divide- The food chain rules the jungle and you better understand that. Like animals up and down the food chain, there are different classes of people- casual workers, orderlies, unskilled workers, skilled workers, staff, executives, managers, top management and promoters/board members. You never ever rock the feudal set up. Any one up the chain can lord over the one below or treat them with disdain. After all it is the jungle and this is their basic right.
Timelessness- Indian corporate jungle is completely in tune with the Zen state and time stands still here. If there is any rule for time discipline then there is only one rule- Time is fluid. If anyone tells you that he will meet you at 10 am then that means that your time starts then and you should expect them anytime thereafter. Even till 6 pm. Or sometimes, since they are smarter than you, they could always come back and tell you that they meant the next day. Or even next week! So relax, smile and no stress! After all you are still getting paid to wait!
Respect- Please, this is a jungle and as before, you respect the food chain. And show it in your words. Sir, Madam, ‘ji’, dear, Regards, Mr- these are words that you are supposed to say all the time lest your superiors get hurt. You revere the chair not knowledge. Period!
Sycophancy- When in doubt, fall on your knees and bow down to the beast above. Sing his praises. Chant rhymes to please him! Give him the high pedestal! After all this is India and the lower you fall on feet, the higher the chances are for you to pull the rug and stamp ahead. When time is right!
And last but not the least, the ‘Golden rule’ of the Indian corporate jungle, our sacred ‘Mantra’-‘Juggad’. It’s more than the make good, temporary or last minute solution and is really difficult to translate in the Queen’s language. You can only fall in love with this like the recently visiting Prime Minister of Israel. Whether joining lose wires with cello tape, fixing broken pipes with ‘Quickfix’, covering window panes with old newspapers, carrying hazardous chemicals in coke bottles, we are great in coming up with Juggads at any and all places. So become a ‘Jugadu’ if you really want to be a successfully ‘Jungli’.
Now that you know the rules and have your safety instructions in place, let’s meet the stars-
‘The Animal Kingdom’- A safari is fun only if you see animals on the way. So let’s get to know the star attractions among animals and insects which inhabit the Indian corporate jungle. No I am really sorry. Since this is the Indian safari you may miss the lion. Anyhow he is no longer the king of the Indian corporate jungle. But yes, there are many more to add to the fun and let’s go hunting. Or shall we say, let’s get hunted-
Fox- Yes you guessed it right. The fox is the new king of the jungle. Shrewd, manipulative, conniving, smart, preying on the sly in any guise that suits the moment, ruthless and slimy! The jungle motto is ‘Survival’ and the fox suits the bill to the T. You cheer when they howl or better still howl together to add to the shrill and instil greater fear in the animal kingdom. They used to prey in a group but the times have changed and even a single fox can create a mirage of a skulk or a leash with the help of digital technology to keep tight control on their animal kingdom. Take them for a dog and you have a dog’s life ahead for the rest of your corporate journey!
Elephant- The giant slow mover from whom you can never fear to get bitten. Actually the elephant well and truly represents the Indian corporate itself, slow and lethargic, basically designed for becoming fat and bulky and eating whatever comes on the way. It can gain weight easily and keep that weight all its life, look majestic and yet would not contribute to anything worthwhile in the jungle. It cannot bite and don’t worry those large teeth are only for show. It can trample any progress made, leave its trail of destruction behind and yet actually be unaware of its actions. Some believe that the elephant is the true king and yet, it can easily be outfoxed by many more animals. It signifies power but even an ant is enough to make it lose its senses. As long as she enters its ears!
Chameleon- A common site in the Indian corporate jungle! Actually it should be declared the symbol and the pride of the Jungle. It appears in almost every nook and corner of the jungle. It changes colour faster than you can blink and with your normal human eye, it is difficult to sight. Chances are you would fall prey to its antics always and will be gullible to its charms. It is capable of foxing even the Fox King and so be warned. Try and look beneath the skin!
Hare- A fast runner, docile, harmless and an animal which is always hopping from one place to another! You may find it difficult to keep pace with its speed but don’t worry, it will burn out fast, tire and then hide in a hole. Does not have a long life and yet very few even survive that and most become a delicious treat mid-life to animals up the food chain.
Tortoise- Perhaps the most common animal in the Indian corporate jungle. The longest surviving specie! It rarely does anything, gets into its shell at the first sight of danger and just meanders in the jungle. It always encompasses itself in bureaucracy, red tape and systems and answers to no one and yet continues to live merrily. Some say it has survived centuries and how so much the jungle changes it still has the capability of surviving centuries more. After all, life is not a race and the tortoise well and truly represents the Indian spirit of live and let live!
Snakes and spiders- Oh yes, the Indian corporate jungle is full of snakes and spiders. You have to watch your every step. They are not just venomous but also have the capability of wriggling out of tough situations and leaving you behind, trapped with their bite. I am again reminding you to refer to safety instructions above as you never want to take risks with these insects.
Mosquitoes- You are in the tropical world and mosquitoes are there everywhere. These are light weight and you will laugh at how they could harm and will always feel powerful to quash them when you want. After all you are big, have your safety kit in place and are smart enough with hands that can clap and kill them even in mid-air. But be warned! Even one mosquito bite especially of the wrong one can end your entire journey and make you sick enough to pack your bags and retreat. Some could be even lethal. Respect the mosquitoes and never allow them to pile on you.
Monkeys- Indian corporate jungle is incomplete without the monkeys and their pranks. They would always consider themselves to be smartest, get into every little act even if does not concern them and basically make your day tough. They will ape you, mimic you, make fun of you and make your life tough. I am told that there are some small and large jungles in India where the Monkey is the king and I really feel for the inhabitants of those forests. And while they love the English banana, they are well and truly versed in the art of Hindi ‘banana’. Don’t tell me I did not warn you before you become a butt of their joke in your respective part of the jungle.
Now that we have met the star inhabitants, let us also shed light on their ‘Favourite games’-
Politics- This by far is the most popular game of each and every animal of the Indian corporate world. After all fox is the king when in Rome do as the Romans do! Be a politician and you have one trick up the sleeve to survive the antics in the jungle.
Religion and superstitions- Oh yes, this also occupies a high pedestal especially in the new world of ‘Vaastu’ and ‘Baba’. In every corporate the King Fox would have his own set of gurus and consultants who would be the guardians of its sprit and perform various acts to keep the animals entertained. Not only does it help the animals in believing in the magical powers of the great leader but it also makes them fear for their lives lest the King use these divine Godly weapons against them.
Snakes and ladders- Off course silly this is the animal kingdom and what better game than snakes and ladders! You never know when they could push you up the ladder or when you can fall on your feet even die with a snake bite. Lovely game indeed and it is all left to the throw of the dice how well you do in the game. Or shall we say to the manipulations of the dice thrower!
So now that you know the jungle better, you are ready to roam.
Off course you may meet a one off lion or a tiger. These are endangered species and difficult to spot. But then if you see them, your trip would be special as they still can set things right as and when they command the jungle. Their aura, their stature and their boldness is enough to let the rest fall in line. Alas they have gone missing and I am told are now kept as show pieces behind cages or roam around in distant land where they still are treated majestically.
Oh yes, before we end, we need to show you the Exit gate. Should you survive the Indian jungle and reach that far, you have done well. But don’t think that your links with the jungle are broken as the jungle may still haunt you the rest of your living life. Once you exit, never look back and walk ahead, wherever the path leads to. Cause if you turn back, the jungle will pull back and you may be lost again till you find the next exit. Or get buried or eaten inside. As this writer is finding at his own peril!
Well bon voyage and have a rocking time!
One who flew over the cuckoo’s nest!