crisis management

The Fog of War

We and you ought not to pull on the ends of a rope which you have tied the knots of war. Because the more the two of us pull, the tighter the knot will be tied. And then it will be necessary to cut that knot, and what that would mean is not for me to explain to you. –  Nikita Khrushchev’s message to John F Kennedy during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis as interpreted by Robert McNamara in ‘The Fog of War’ India and Pakistan sharply tugged on their ends of the rope this last week. And at the time of writing, they still have their hands on it. John F. Kennedy, the US President, knew what cutting the knot meant; what Khrushchev was alluding to. Most ordinary citizens of these countries at the brink of war don’t. And they need to. If only because the war is purportedly fought in their name and the consequences are also for them to bear. Robert McNamara in this spellbinding 2003 documentary – The Fog of War – shares his hard-earned insights…

Winning is not the only thing : Australian Cricket in shambles

Winning is not everything. It is the only thing. – Vince Lombardi The world loves winners and worships the idea of success. When Donald Trump won, there were people who against their better judgment, rationalized that the win made him fit to be the President of the United States, undoubtedly the most powerful leadership position in the world. These folks were not his supporters to begin with. Trump’s win made him legitimate to them. If he won, he must have been right, he is fit and able – so they said. Much the same rationalization seems to have been in place for the Australian cricket team, the team with the best winning percentages in cricket. They win, they must be right. Right in the way they play their cricket tough and go hard at the opposition. Now, after Steve Smith admitted to cheating, there is a sense of disbelief. This sense of disbelief is what needs to be reflected upon, perhaps more than the act of cheating itself. The cheating did not take place in isolation. It transpired against the…

Stanislav Petrov – The Man who Saved the World

Without you knowing about it, Stanislav Petrov has been a part of your life. He has saved the world as we know it by the decisions he made all the way back in 1983. On 26th September, 1983, Petrov was the duty officer at the command-center for a nuclear early warning system near Moscow in Soviet Union. That night, he faced one of the biggest decisions of the 20th century – a decision that could have precipitated an inevitable chain-reaction of events to culminate into the destruction of the whole world. Hard to get what this means into our gut and that is part of our collective challenge – but that’s beside the point. How did a low-ranked duty-officer come to bear such a huge responsibility? After all, we expect this to come to the desks of country leaders & top generals.  And what made it such an agonising decision? In the eighties, the then superpowers, the United States & Soviet Union, were in a state of MAD ( Mutually Assured Destruction) This is even now the case. MAD means both superpowers had enough…

Waking Up before a Crisis : What Every Citizen Can Learn from the Chennai Floods

Chennai is flooded with water. Chennai is also flooded with warmth. People are reaching out and helping each other. A crisis brings us together. Together, there need not be a crisis. If we pull together beforehand, we can prevent a crisis or limit the damage.Provided we think, plan, and do the right things. What are they? One by One. Thinking : Thinking what?  A good start would be to clear our minds. Get this : “Nobody ever gets credit for fixing problems that never happened” Would you agree? There is no fame and glory waiting for us. No distractions. Clarity of purpose. We do it for ourselves. Next, ask, ” In what way are we contributing to the problem?” Yes, we must think that! The problem begins in how we perceive our role as citizens in governance.We believe that casting a vote is the only thing to do. Who cares about things going wrong in between elections? We patiently await the next polls. Meanwhile, vested interests continue causing irreversible damage to our habitats. They pass laws and undertake actions, all of them leading to polluting…