How I, India, Came To Be Named


I will not begin with

there existed once upon a time

a country because I exist even now; what I am not exactly sure of though is when did I actually start existing. If Nehru is to be believed, I came into being sometime during the Post-Vedic period when the Aryan settlers decided they had enough of the present day Afghanistan and Pakistan and decided to move further south-east into the fertile Gangetic lands. This is the point where my confusion starts, as documented history entangles itself with mythology into terrible knots till the point where you cease to know which is which. I will explain to you how.

People tell me that one of my several names that include India, Hindostan, Jambudwip etc. is Bharatavarsha. And why am I being named Bharatavarsha which is quite a big name and makes people stare at you? It’s because in the annals of history, (or is it mythology) around this time there existed a great king on my lands by the name of Bharat, the son of king Dushyanta and lady Shakuntala. This Bharat is not to be confused with another Bharat, who is mentioned in Ramayana as the younger sibling of Rama. This Bharat is supposed to have conquered all of the known world at the time, and the land he conquered was named Bharatavarsha after him; etymologically that would mean land of Bharat (dear me, but to me it almost smacks of the arrogance of those Britishers who coined the phrase the sun never sets on the British Empire; fancy just me being the whole world, I am flattered). Anyway, that was Bharat and that was me, and then there are in this world a set of people called Jains too, who would promptly disagree with you. They would tell you a similar story, but with a small twist. According to them, I am not named after this Bharat, but rather after that Bharat. ThatBharat was the oldest son of lord Ridabha, and in the later part of his life he retired as a monk and attained Nirvana, holy me! Since he became a siddha or the knowledgeable one, he was occasionally worshipped and I was named after him. Apparently most of the Puranas support the Jains, and let me tell you, that’s a heavyweight combination.

The name game doesn’t end here, for Bharat in Sanskrit means the cherished one and so some tell I am not named after anybody, but that my name simply means in Sanskrit, the cherished land. Tell you what, this makes a lot of sense to me – people should say: I know about and respect the whole world, but I also cherish the land where I was born whichever it may be. And so I like being Bharatavarsha, and I would have put a smiley post stating that, except that smileys are sadly forbidden in formal language, and equally sadly this is a formal assignment for which a young man who lives on me is supposed to get some credits. So I will refrain from putting a smiley and instead tell you the reason why I most like being named Bharatavarsha: Bha in Sanskrit means knowledge or light and rat is a verb for doing. So Bharat therefore means one in search of knowledge and Bharatavarsha means the land of people in search of knowledge. Isn’t that a really sexy name as the young man for who I am writing this would imprudently exclaim if he were here? Unfortunately nowadays, I don’t think working for pursuit of knowledge is held in high regard within my boundaries, but that’s another story; and I won’t crib about it now, I have limited space. For the same reason I wouldn’t tell you the etymology of my other names though even those stories are equally interesting. I will now move back to Nehru and my confusion about when the hell did I come into existence.

So if I then drop the two Bharats from my story, and stick to my favorite in pursuit of knowledge theory, answering that question is not so difficult. I don’t have to enter mythological dilemmas and it can be safely said that sometime during those hallowed times when the society here held plain pursuit of knowledge in high regard, when intelligent people spent years sitting beneath trees and pondering silently over existential questions and it was actually hip to do so, when great books such as the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Mahabharata were written and the concepts of Moksha and Nirvana were discovered, some idealist fellow decided it was the precise road which the people of his land should walk on always, and henceforth the land should be known as Bharatavarsha. You see, I don’t think my name came to be about just one fine morning like when Bharat was crowned the king of the whole world, supposedly me; it was a tapashya of centuries if you would allow me to use that word. So I started being Bharatavarsha anytime during those few centuries, and that way I wouldn’t mind even the whole world being called by that name. Continuing in that vein, is it correct to call me Bharatavarsha even now? I have my doubts.

R I P Manna Dey – My favorites of the great artist!

RIP Manna Dey…

Tera ishq main kaise chhod doon, mere umra bhar ki talash hai (How can I stop admiring you? It’s the find of my lifetime.)

My favorite songs of the singing great, along with the respective movies, music directors, lyricists and Youtube links…


1. Yeh dosti hum nahi todenge – Sholay – R D Burman – Anand Bakshi –


2. Yaari hai imaan mera yaar meri zindagi – Zanjeer – Kalyanji Anandji – Gulshan Bawra –


3. Chalat musafir moh liya re pinjre waali muniya – Teesri Kasam – Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra –

4. Zindagi kaisi hai paheli haye – Anand – Salil Chowdhury – Yogesh –

5. Na chahun sona chandi na mangu heera moti – Bobby – Laxmikant Pyarelal – Vitthalbhai Patel –

6. Ae Meri Zohra Zabeen – Waqt – Ravi – Sahir –
7. Na toh karvan ki talash hai – Barsaat Ki Raat – Roshan – Sahir –
8. Tu pyar ka sagar hai – Seema – Shankar Jaikishen – Shailendra –
9. Pyar hua ikraar hua hai – Shree 420 – Shankar Jaikishen – Shailendra –
10. Ek chatur naar badi hoshiyar – Padosan – R D Burman – Rajinder Krishnan –
11. Laga chunari mein daag chupaun kaise – Dil Hi To Hai – Roshan – Sahir –
12. Yeh raat bheegi bheegi yeh mast fizayen – Chori Chori – Shankar Jaikishen – Shailendra –
13. Hoke majboor mujhe usne bulaya hoga – Haqeeqat – Madan Mohan – Kaifi Azmi –
14. Mud mud ke na dekh mud mud ke – Shree 420 – Shankar Jaikishen – Shailendra –
15. Aayo kahan se ghanshyam – Buddha Mil Gaya – R D Burman – Majrooh Sultanpuri –
16. Babu samjho ishaare horn pukare pom pom pom – S D Burman – Majrooh Sultanpuri – Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi –
17. Chunari sambhal gori udi chali jaaye re – Baharon Ke Sapne – R D Burman – Majrooh Sultanpuri –
18. Dil ka haal sune dilwala – Shree 420 – Shankar Jaikishen – Shailendra –
19. Aaja sanam madhur chandni mein hum – Chori Chori – Shankar Jaikishen – Shailendra/Hasrat Jaipuri –
20. Chham chham baaje re payalia – Jaane Anjaane – Shankar Jaikishen – S H Bihari –

Deliberate Practice & Leadership


Let me first propose the basic framework/mindset that in my opinion has to be followed for the “deliberate practice” approach to be successful…

It’s what I call the “Heat Engine” effect

While this is widely followed in business, I am reiterating it because I often see it being forgotten in education. And a lot of value is being lost in my opinion because of that.

When Heat Engines were first developed, they were 1-3 % efficient. James Watt in 18th century took them to 5-7 %, Andre Chapelon in mid 20th century to 13 %. Today there are engines that are almost 40% efficient!

The value that has been unlocked by this improvement over almost 3 centuries has been enormous. However, to do this requires again the mindset of “deliberate practice”, that is we should be looking at continuous improvement and NOT perfection. If the early engineers let themselves be disheartened/diverted by the minimal improvement they were making, the world wouldn’t be where it is today.

Essentially this means shifting our eye from ourselves (teachers/process owners) on to the recipients (students and the society). That is shifting our primary focus from the process we are employing to the value that is being unlocked. Very importantly, this has implications for

  1. The level of proficiency we desire for each student
  2. Scalability (this will require finding “good enough” teachers/masters, but then the number will depend on the level we define “good” as)
  3. Stakeholder buy-in
  4. Focus on the creation of job channels between the skill holder and the market

Now on to the questions that Atul you have posed… I will answer the questions in sequential mails so the volume of information is manageable…

Q1 In context of “Deliberate Practice”, and 10, 000 hours rule for mastery of a skill, how does the above model play out? In particular, how long does the apprenticeship cycle for the mastery to be transferred?

Ans: First, summarizing what I have discussed below…

The number of hours will depend upon…

  1. The proficiency level we decide in accordance with the market needs (we should remember the 10, 000 hour guideline is for an ultimate master and we should need much less than that from a practical viewpoint)
  2. Our ability to match the skill area with the natural strength of the student
  3. Our ability to transform the learning environment by inspiring trainers to be leaders (crucial)
  4. Our ability to motivate the students by establishing job channels and not to forget, making those channels visible to them

We can try to triangulate around the problem of the number of required hours. However even for that we will need more data, especially regarding what proficiency level matches the market needs…

Now, let me talk in more detail. First listing down the factors I think that impinge on this problem.

  1. Learning environment
  2. Natural strength
  3. Market demands

Discussing the factors one by one…

  1. Learning environment

The paradigm shift in the “deliberate practice” model according to me is that the teacher’s primary role is not to disseminate the knowledge/skill anymore – that activity  is secondary – but to lead/motivate the students to continuously improve themselves in an intelligent manner towards the learning goal (by both self and teacher critiquing)… This is a lot of hard work and so it requires constant motivation… I am saying paradigm shift because then teaching becomes as much, or even more, about “how” than “what”. And I specifically mention the words lead/motivate, as teacher/trainer in this model is a leader more than anything else. The Greek root of the word “pedagogy” itself means to lead the child.

The other things like curriculum, assessment are secondary to this. It’s like viewing the class as a mini organization where everything else fails to make the desired impact if there is no strong leader to take the organization towards its goals (in this case the learning goal).

The other specific thing to realize here is that teaching as a skill then becomes different from the specific skill the trainer has. In addition to the specific skill the trainers have, they have to also be able to create and sustain the effective learning environment by acting as leaders/motivators.

As to what we need to do to transform teachers into leaders and create the best learning environment, that will be a huge discussion by itself and we will have to come to that later.


2. Natural Strengths

To explain this, I will borrow from one of the very famous articles published in HBR by Peter Drucker called “Managing Oneself”. It talks about something called “Feedback Analysis”: to discover your strengths (as they are unique to you) and then working on to continuously improve them. Which is again nothing but another way of talking about “Deliberate Practice”.

However, one crucial difference Peter Drucker makes is that we should focus on “improving our strengths” (he emphasizes that we do have unique strengths!) than work deliberately on “areas of low competence”. As he says “it takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes from first-rate performance to excellence”.

This goes against the pure concept of “Deliberate Practice” which says there are no unique strengths.

I am more inclined to take a middle path (from observation) where there are indeed strengths, but one has to still work a lot on them in a deliberate fashion to achieve maximum competence. From what I remember from my own experience in engineering workshops, I was naturally very good at “Welding” and good at “Lathe” (perhaps because I have a very steady hand), and not so good at “Carpentry” and pretty bad at “Wiring”.

This also gels in with the observation in the article you sent me “A Star Is Born” which said that we should choose to work in the areas we love as only then we will be able to put that much of hard work. I think we naturally like the area we are strong in, and then it is a feedback loop: we get better and better at it by working, and buoyed by our success, we love it more and more.

So I think we should not assume there are no strengths. It’s important for both student and teacher to discover the areas the students are naturally strong at and hence are likely to love.

3) Market demands

Market should impact what we do in two ways

  1. Choosing pertinent skill areas, establishing channels to market, and making those channels visible to students:

While ideally the market would demand from us exactly what we are good at/love, often that may not happen. However, the motivation for the students to pick up a skill will depend as much on their confidence towards getting a job once they are done with their training as much on their natural proficiency in it. Those two are inextricably linked.

So it is important to choose the right skill areas and simultaneously establish channels to the market while the training is going on, and equally importantly make those channels visible to the students. The presence/absence of this can greatly impact their desire to do deliberate practice and can even act as make or break

Proficiency level: We also must keep the market in mind while deciding on the proficiency level (thus the number of hours) and neither under nor overtrain

These are my first-cut ideas. From here, we have to establish a lot of specifics (strategies and processes).to achieve these things on ground.

Dekha Iss Bimaarii-e-dil Ne Kaise Kaam Tamaam Kiya (Recreated Lyrics)


Original ghazal by Mir Taqi Mir (


Dekha iss bimaarii-e-dil ne kaise kaam tamaam kiya,
Teri yaad mein baithe baithe maine subah-o-shaam kiya,
Dekha iss bimaarii-e-dil ne kaise kaam tamaam kiya,

Aankhon mein tasveer hai teri, dil mein teri aas bhari
Teri paayal ki chhan chhan se hoti kal ki yaaden hari,
Jab bhi meri saansen chali maine tera hee naam liya,
Teri yaad mein baithe baithe maine subah-o-shaam kiya

Dekha iss bimaarii-e-dil ne kaise kaam tamaam kiya,
Teri yaad mein baithe baithe maine subah-o-shaam kiya

Yeh Shaam Mastaani (Recreated Lyrics)


Original song from the movie ‘Kati Patang’; sung by Kishore Kumar; music by R D Burman; lyrics by Anand Bakhshi




Yeh shaam mastaani, madhosh kiye jaaye
Mujhe dor koi kheenche, teri ore liye jaaye

Baahon mein tere, hai ek bheena nashaa
Rukhsat hoke tu yun, na de mujhe sazaa
Meri hansi, meri khushi, teri ek haan se aaj mil jaaye

Yeh shaam mastaani, madhosh kiye jaaye,
Mujhe dor koi kheenche, teri ore liye jaaye

Tera bheega badan, teri behki nazar
Katthai aankhen teri, dhaati mujhpe keher
Chaahun main yeh, dil mere tere, phool-e-mohabbat aaj khil jaaye

Yeh shaam mastaani, madhosh kiye jaaye
Mujhe dor koi kheenche, teri ore liye jaaye

Kabhi Aahat Si Koi Aaye Toh Lagta Hai Ki Tum Ho (Recreated Lyrics)


Kabhi aahat si koi aaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho
Kahin guncha koi khil jaaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho

Kabhi aahat si koi aaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho
Seeli hawa choo jaaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho

Rakhti hai sar apna kabhi rukhsaar-e-dil pe teri yaad
Woh yaad wahin so jaaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho

Sulagti hai maddham saanson mein tere pairahan ki khushboo
Woh khushboo kabhi bikhar jaaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho

Daudta hai shiddat se ragon mein teri kami ka ehsaas
Woh ehsaas kabhi tham jaaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho

Udti hai door kahin khaaabon mein teri aarzoo ki patang
Woh patang gar paas aaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho

Tum ho tumhee ho lagta hai ki tum ho
Tum ho tum ho bas lagta hai ki tum ho

Kabhi aahat si koi aaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho
Kahin guncha koi khil jaaye toh lagta hai ki tum ho