Thursday, December 27, 2007

Quality Built-in and Hinduism

Let me tell you a little about manufacturing and quality.

The main aim of every production line is to satisfy the customer with a quality product delivered at the appropriate time with the right cost.

If you visit any modern, mass manufacturing line, you will be amazed with all the gizmos, techniques used to manufacture the products. Each process in the line will have to conform to strict rules, sequence of operations, quality of parts used, etc. All these contribute towards building a quality product.

But, were the manufacturing processes like this from the beginning? Read on.

Stage 1:

When mass production was in its infancy, the focus was on producing the maximum no. of products and delivering to the market. If some defects introduced inadvertently or otherwise, all would not be caught in time. Only when the product reached the end-user would the defects be identified. Then the product would be repaired, mostly to the satisfaction of the manufacturer.

Stage 2:

It was recognized that passing defect onto customers was generating lot of bad image. Quality controls were set-up. The product after it was completed was checked for defects both visual and functional. If any defects were found, the product would be repaired and then dispatched for delivery.

But this had 2 main drawbacks:
There would be a delay in delivery to market, All the products had to be inspected. It took more time to repair the defective product.
It used up more parts/manpower to repair, making the product more expensive
Sometimes, it was impossible to repair the finished product due to the construction and hence had to thrown away. This again increased the cost on account of rejections.

Stage 3:

This stage was driven by the demands from Stage 2.
The main change was that quality checks were implemented in the production line itself.
The defects could be identified and repaired in the line itself. The defective product would not be allowed to proceed to the next station. There was no outflow of defective product.

But, the mass production line would slow down due to hold ups if a product was found defective. This led to the evolution of the next stage.

Stage 4:

The reasons why the defects occurred in Stage 3 pointed out to 3 main things
i. The focus was not to prevent defects from occurring
ii. There was no rigorous system to monitor quality
iii. The human factor was not considered.

So, people started think in a radically different way:
Include quality requirements in the product design stage itself.
> Design the process to prevent defects from occurring
> Standardise operations: Everybody had to follow these. If you follow these operations, the defects would not occur.
> Training the workers to act as the quality inspector himself
> Introduce a rigorous system to ensure continuous monitoring of quality
This concept was known as the Quality Built-in

This Stage 4 is the present condition and is still evolving. It is pertinent to mention that this evolution took place in the last 100 years.

(The evolution of manufacturing did not occur in just these 4 stages. For brevity’s sake, I have classified it into 4 stages.)

Now, let’s see what Hinduism has to say.

Hinduism, begins its recorded history from 4000BC. (If this were to be accepted, then there should have been a more older phase which did not maintain records. Well that’s besides the point)

It can be safely assumed Hinduism has been in existence for over 6000 years.

Hinduism, the very word conjures up images of strict rules, lot of restrictions, covering every facet of life starting from birth, youth to death. ಮನು, is considered to be the oldest law giver, in the form of ಮನು ಸ್ಮೃತಿ. The much older ವೇದ, ಪುರಾಣ, ಉಪನಿಷದ್ are said provide a map for a person to negotiate his earthly existence. These claim one can live a happy and peaceful life and allow others also do so, if all the instructions, rules are followed. I will not say more because we all know/heard about these things in detail.

In fact, these very rules have been used (Is abused the right word for it?) to portray Hinduism in poor light, making it look like the poorer cousin of the western religions which claim to be based in freedom!!

Compare the Stage 4 in manufacturing and Hinduism. Can you find the similarities?

Both stress on following a standard and rigorous process.
Both stress on quality
Both stress on a rigorous monitoring system

In Hinduism,
Manufacturing line : The world which the person lives in
Worker : The person himself
Quality : Happiness, Satisfaction
Product : Life itself

This demonstrates that Hinduism has adopted the quality built-in system long back, drawing from its rich experience of 6000 years. All the rules, systems etc. a person is supposed to follow has just 1 aim : Improve the quality of life.

Do not look upon Hinduism as a stagnant, repressive religion, as it is portrayed. It’s the world’s most dynamic, altruistic religion focusing on a person’s worldly existence as much as his afterlife.

“Hinduism is not just a religion, but a way of life”. Is it not true?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Are you really from Bangalore, Sir?

What qualifies you to be ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ನಿವಾಸಿ?

Chennai is one of the few cities I don't like to be in. The heat and the high humidity puts me off. The other important reason, the language. Tamil (or is it Tamizh) is spoken so zealously, they have forgotten other languages exist too.
Poor me, I can speak nor understand Tamil, even a wee
bit, not even "How are you" !!!

This Monday, I was forced to be at Chennai for some business meeting. As
usual, I had difficulties with my taxi driver. "Come to arrival gate with vehicle" was my request to him (in English!). I was surprised to find only him, not with the vehicle at the arrival gate!!!
Miscommunication or misunderstanding, I have never been able to fathom.

The next day, it was a different driver, who had done
previous assignments with our company staff. He could speak reasonable English and most importantly, could understand me!!

End of the day, he was driving me back to the airport.
He was a man with an encyclopedic knowledge about Chennai and Bangalore too. He was asking me some
questions about Bangalore, and suddenly, he asked me "Sir, are you really from Bangalore?" I was taken aback and asked the reason for his doubt. " Sir, everybody in Bangalore speaks Tamil. You say you don't know Tamil. So, I got doubt if you really are from Bangalore"

A simple, innocent question led me think "Is being literate in
Tamil, the important qualification to be a ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ನಿವಾಸಿ?"

I know the immediate reaction to this. S
hould we take the opinion of a simple driver so seriously?
But please remember, these are the people who account for a large percentage of the populace. The educated hardly find time to peep out of their own ivory towers!

Bangaloreans proudly proclaim to the world, "Bangalore
is a cosmopolitan city". Whenever a ಕನ್ನಡ organisation protests against marginalisation of ಕನ್ನಡ, its culture, its people, they are assaulted by a barrage of verbal missiles, claiming how their actions are damaging ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು's cosmopolitan reputation.

1. Why is only Bangalore under pressure to prove its
cosmopolitan credentials?
2. Is this a de facto admission that other cities are not cosmopolitan?
3. Is being cosmopolitan is such an important virtue?
4. Then, why are other cities not encouraged to become

Answers, anyone????