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August 4, 2017 / subramanyam

Effective Evaluations – 1

In the past few weeks, I was fortunate enough to deliver a few sessions on Effective Evaluations in the ToastMaster clubs of Hyderabad.

I did get to learn quite a number of things as I did these sessions.  I intend to share a few of them in a series of articles. I hope that they would be of some use to the contestants of the Speech Evaluation Contest.

In the first article of this series, let us look at some of the common mistakes we tend to commit when we evaluate a speech.

Common Pitfalls to be avoided.  In a way avoiding these pitfalls is a Hygiene factor for a good evaluation.

1. I am speaking on behalf of the audience:
We typically believe that we are speaking on behalf of the entire audience. Remember as an evaluator we are voicing out our thoughts only and not the opinions of everyone in the audience. Hence, please do not use the any of the following words: “the audience was with you, You had all of us in grip, we as the audience did not like this” etc.  Remember many in the audience might not share the same view point, hence, it is always good to use “I”  word.  for example , we can use

  • In my opinion
  • I got connected with the speech
  • I felt that
  • In my analysis
  • My recommendations
  • In summary /To Summarize

2. Giving too many points would help the speaker.
The truth is it does not. Pick 5-6 points (3 good, 3 areas of Improvement ) and present them. Tell the speaker as to why you picked them. Give specific recommendations. This is more than enough. The depth of the evaluation helps the speaker more than the breadth of it.

3. Repeating a point adds emphasis
In reality, it does not, on the contrary, you might come across as a person obsessed with a trait in the speech. Some might even say that We were not sure of the point we made and are justifying ourselves by repeating it. (Particularly while making a recommendation). So, once you have made a specific commendation/recommendation, move on to the next point.

4. My job is to tell all the traits of a good speech 
The evaluation is your opinion/reaction to one particular speech of the speaker. That’s it, nothing more nothing less. Many times we as evaluators are tempted to the speaker about the ideal traits of a good speech. This is good, but then it makes us waste a lot of time. (we only have 3 mins) So, please focus on the speech at hand and give your recommendations how it can be improved.  Again, while suggesting an improvements ensure that the particular suggestion is actually doable.

5. I as an Evaluator matter a lot
It is often touted in every of our meetings that evaluation is the best thing in ToastMasters.  It is very true.  However, the unspoken rule is that  we as evaluators are only giving our opinions; it is up to the speaker to pick what he/she wants.  Since we are giving our opinion, we need not be too sympathetic or too harsh on the speaker.  We can speak in our  tone and deliver it as our opinion.  Again, I said we need not be too sympathetic.  We definitely need to be sympathetic and our evaluation must come across as a sensitive and motivational one.

That’s it for this post. Please share your opinions on this , the next post on Effective Evaluations would be out soon.

Note : These are not my own words/realizations.  I have picked these things from the TM manuals and added my flavor to them.  So the credit goes to ToastMasters. 


July 21, 2017 / subramanyam

How should I open my speech?

This was a question on Quora and I was asked to Answer. This is the answer I wrote on Quora. 

The opening line of a speech is arguably one of the most important lines of the speech. This line must be inline to the purpose of the speech.

Before penning down that line, I would ask you to get clarity on the following.
1. What is the generic purpose of the speech?
2. What is the specific purpose of the speech?

A generic purpose of the speech can be one of the following.
1. To Inform
2. To Entertain
3. To Persuade
4. To Inspire

A specific purpose of the speech is the one line message you want the audience to carry after you are done with the speech.

For example: Imagine you want to give a speech on the importance of using alternate sources of energy.

The generic purpose of the speech would be to persuade the audience.

The specific purpose would be to use renewable sources of energy instead of the fossil fuels.

Now that you know the purpose of the speech, Pen down the opening statement accordingly.

Never start with your name or credentials when speaking to a known/unknown audience.

If the purpose of the speech is to inform:
1. Start with a quote on stats (Statistics). You would get a lot of quotes on the INTERNET  on statistics. Try using the one that suits you.
2. If your stats tell a story, try writing a line that gives the listener a hint of the story. In other a personal quote of your own.  In this case you can try a little humor too.  However, remember Humor is an addon only.

If the purpose of the speech is to entertain:
1. Start with a small story /anecdote/ pre -written joke that sets the atmosphere. I personally would go with a personal story/anecdote.

If the purpose of the speech is to Persuade/ Inspire:
1. Again start with a story/quote that suits the specific purpose of the speech.
2. Picking persuasive and inspiring quotes from the internet is easy, however, if you want to write your own story and present it, you can do that too.
3. When writing your own story, try making it a personal story. Start with a date, have names to every character in the story.

Instead of saying “the other day, I was playing with niece” you can start your speech like this. “14-Feb-2015, I was playing with the most beautiful girl I ever knew, my five year old niece Varsha”.

Some times , describing the nature too helps.  You can probably ask your audience to imagine a wonderful winter morning or a fantastic friday evening etc.

Hope this helps.

July 14, 2017 / subramanyam

The Best PM’s of India.

There was a question in Quora which asked for the best PM from 80’s till date.  I wrote and answer and  I liked what I wrote .  I am reproducing the answer here.

Here is my order of these Prime Minsters from the best to the good.

  1. P.V. Narasimha Rao: He took a lot of bold decisions with a minority government. Steered India out of Balance of Payment Crisis, gave a new direction to the economy, did away with the license raj, brought the biggest industrial reform in the country, pushed for the Electrification of Railways,brought in look east policy, steered us close to US and Israel.  Doing  all this without a majority in the house is incredible.  Hence he is the best.
  2. Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Modernized the military, changed the face of the country with the golden quadrilateral project, presided over Pokhran II, won the war of Kargil, made the US an ally, gave a big boost to the relations with Israel, gave a big boost IT sector of India. Created new states without much fuss. Changed the dynamics of SAARC forever. Brought in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. Kept check on terror with POTA. Gave someone like Kalam as the president to all of us.  The fact that he did all this with less than 190 MPs makes him great.
  3. Narendra Modi: Quite early to speak (his tenure as on date is three years only). The best doer India has ever got. A lot of game changers in the last three years. Probably the first PM to have given a clean energy to more than one crore families. His track record on Infra is too good. The PM who is getting electricity to all villages in India. We might have that done in next few months. Got GST implemented, OROP implemented, took the awareness on sanitation to new heights. If he is successful in having foreign defense companies to make weapons in India, he would have done something that was only dreamt of. He is heading a corrupt free govt, and that in itself is a big achievement. Demonetization and digital push to the economy are also huge measures that are changing the face of the economy. He is picking from where Vajpayee Ji left when it comes to military modernization, That too is an achievement in his kitty.  Then the surgical strikes, the way he is trying to reform the bureaucracy, the way he is shaping foreign policy, the defense deals, having the US president as the Chief guest on Republic day, having entire ASEAN leaders as the chief guests for the next Republic day.  Many good things.  The reason I rate behinf PV and Vajpayee is the fact that he has an absolute majority which those leader did not have.
  4. Indira Gandhi: The victory on Pakistan and creating Bangladesh is a big win in her kitty. Stopping the privy purses too was a great move.  She took India close to the Soviets who were one of the biggest world powers then.  However, her regime killed institutions, she imposed emergency too, and that is the only reason why I rate her less.
  5. Manmohan Singh: RTI and Nuclear agreement with the US were definitely the biggest wins of this Prime Minister. However, the less is spoken about his second term, the better. He presided over some of the worst decisions in the history if the nation. His lack of control on the scams and some of the very badly executed decisions like AP bifurcation pull him down from the place he was destined to,   in the political high table
  6. Rajiv Gandhi : This man wasted the mandate he got.  Many ill informed decisions by him brought the downfall of the nation.  His policies were in a way responsible for BOP crisis, fiddling with the elected government in J&K could have been avoided, intervention in Shah Bano was a big mistake, then the Shilanyas in Ram Janmabhoomi, a lot of mistakes by this man.  I some how believe that he had good intentions but was influenced by the wrong set of people.

I intentionally did not take into the tenures of V.P. Singh , Chandrasekhar , Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral as none of them were in power for more than an year.

June 20, 2017 / subramanyam

NDTV Frauds — My Take

There was a huge uproar in the country when CBI conducted raids on the properties of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy of the NDTV. A few in the media said that the freedom of the press was being attacked, some did solidarity marches, a few people did long debates on the television during prime time and a few others wrote lengthy opinion columns and supported NDTV.
To be honest, I have little respect for the NDTV. To be honest, I stopped watching the channel after 2009. Radia tapes expose, the biased way in which NDTV conducted debates, the selective editing of Baba Ramdev’s interview, support for the BBC documentary, etc. were the final nails in the coffin.
Wat surprised me was Arun Shourie’s support to NDTV. There were allegations regarding the fraudulent practices of NDTV for quite some time now. However, this is the first time the investigative agencies conducted raids. Now, Why does a man of Arun Shourie’s stature support NDTV? This got me thinking and I began searching for more information. In this quest, I ended up reading NDTV Frauds by Sri Iyer and here is what I feel about NDTVFrauds1-696x456the book.
In just 160 pages this book exposes all the fraudulent activities of NDTV and its founders. It begins with Prannoy Roy’s ascent to fame in the late 90’s. Then the author dwells on how NDTV’s initial fraud with Doordarshan and the way they got away with it. We get to see the mention of C.M.Ibrahim who in his capacity as the I & B minister wanted the fraudulent activities of NDTV to be investigated. The author then tells us as to how these files moved to cold storage when NDA-I took over nad Arun Jaitley was in charge of the I&B ministry. Then, we get to see the Babu-Neta-Media Nexus that came into existence and how many children of Netas and government babus ended up as journalists in NDTV.
With the ascent of UPA -I in NewDelhi’s power corridors, NDTV’s prominence touched new heights. Neta’s were queuing up to be in the good books of the television and NDTV was making its presence felt in governance also. Here the channel resorted bigger financial malpractices. The author speaks about the shady overseas companies (Shell Companies) that the channel set up, the support the channel received from the government; the way banks funded their illegal transactions, the way they had a pie in the deals, scams, etc…. This section is extremely objective and informative. We see the way the stock manipulation was done.  The way NDTV received funds from shell companies via murky deals and the way in which they cooked their books to show losses.

The Author — Sree Iyer

Was this hegemony of NDTV never challenged?  The book brings to light the plight of another hero of India.  These frauds of NDTV were first caught and brought to life by and income tax officer called Mr. Srivastava. This income tax officer tried to bring to light the frauds of NDTVas early as 2009. This book deals with his story too. I felt sad for him when I read that the UPA government and its finance minister hounded this man and had him suspended. All this for raising his voice against this rot called NDTV.

The author sys that NDA-2 did reinstate this officer. The probe resumed, but NDTV did have a a big network and good contacts in Finance Ministry. This ensured that the pace of probe was slow. Now that the wheels of law have moved, let us see if promoters are brought to book for all the frauds that they committed.
I thank Sree Iyer for bringing out such an informative book on the frauds of NDTV. A lot of research went into the book, and I commend the author for doing a great job.
The media that controlled the narrative in the country for almost a decade now. NDTV was at the forefront of this. They kept telling one and all about the importance of being good and being transparent. They, however had a lot of dirt to hide. By bringing their wrongdoings in to the public domain the author has done a great service to the nation. In future, people of this sort would be forced to walk the talk.
I would recommend every Indian to read this book and understand the reality behind this famed news channel. For, media is the fourth pillar of democracy and it should be clean to report things without a bias.
Please do read this book. It is a must read.
Image Source :
June 2, 2017 / subramanyam

Please protest against this Serial

The Aryan Dravidian theory (The Aryan Invasion Theory) was propounded by the British to divide this country.  The likes of Max Muller, Bishop Caldwell etc propounded this theory to advance the agenda of the British Government.  Today almost all the universities in the west agree that this was a fake theory.  The reason, they believe that there is little evidence to prove that Aryan migration ever happened and all.  Here is a link for the same.

Even the intercontinental research that was done to check the veracity of the theory said that this theory was fake. Here is an excerpt.

Senior CCMB scientist Kumarasamy Thangarajan said there was no truth to the Aryan-Dravidian theory as they came hundreds or thousands of years after the ancestral north and south Indians had settled in India.

The study analysed 500,000 genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 diverse groups from 13 states. All the individuals were from six-language families and traditionally “upper” and “lower” castes and tribal groups. “The genetics proves that castes grew directly out of tribe-like organizations during the formation of the Indian society,” the study said. Thangarajan noted that it was impossible to distinguish between castes and tribes since their genetics proved they were not systematically different.

The study was conducted by CCMB scientists in collaboration with researchers at Harvard Medical School,
Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. It reveals that the present-day Indian population is a mix of ancient north and south bearing the genomic contributions from two distinct ancestral populations – the Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and the Ancestral South Indian (ASI).

Source :

Now, there is a serial that is being made in India on the basis of Aryan Dravidian Conflict.  Now, this serial would be dangerous because

  1. From what ever is being told this serial is going to be based on Aryans clashing with Dravidians.  Now, when it has been proved that entire India share similar genetic markers and there was never an Aryan invasion on the country why do we want it?
  2. At a time when people are trying hard to bring in a North-South divide, why make a serial on a fake theory and enhance the divide ?
  3. It teaches fake history which is counter productive to the nation.
  4. Art has always been an extension to the politics, all over the world the communists use art to influence the people.   Once they assume power in any country they try to demolish the culture using their interpretation of Art.  Why bring in an art form that uses the theory that served the British to divide India.

I guess this is going to be that serial please click on the link to know more.

Please listen to Rajiv Malhotra’s views on this subject.  Please protest the airing of this serial.

Again when we say protest, it is not bring destruction upon any one. Let us protest in a decent way, make our voice heard and ask the producers of the serial to  come and address the concerns of the people.  Let us not let the Aryan-Dravidian theory break India’s back again.

June 1, 2017 / subramanyam

Achche Din

Last week the NDA – 2  government led Shri Narendara Modi completed 3 years.  We had some channels doing the mood of the nation surveys, many others are giving us the non-stop coverage on Cows and other related issues .   However, not many channels bothered to give the actual facts and figures on how the government fared in the last 3 years.

Here are  the details on the how the government performed some vital areas.

Number of Village left Unelectrified
2014: 18452
2017 : 3937 
Grameen Vidyutikaran – Minister : Piyush Goyal
Number of new LPG connections
2004 – 2014: 5.3 Cr
2014 – 2017 : 6.95 Cr
Ujjawala Yojana – Minister : Dharmendra Pradhan
Electronic manufacturing in India
2014: ₹11,198 Cr.
2017: ₹1,43,000 Cr.
Make In India – Minister : RS Prasad
Mobile Banking in India
2013-14: 94.7 million
2017: 722.2 million
Digital India – Minister: RS Prasad, Manoj Sinha
Sanitation Coverage
2014: 42%
2017: 64%
Swachh Bharat Minister : Narendra Tomor
Ease of doing business in India
(Ranking by World Bank)
2014-15: 142
2016: 130
No Minister, Credit Goes To NITI Ayog led by Amitabh Kant
WEFs Travel and Tourism Ranking
2014: 65th
2017: 40th
Incredible India Minister : Mahesh Sharma
Solar Power Generation
2014: 2,621 MW
2017: 12,277 MW
Renewables Minister: Piyush Goyal
Optical Fibre Network (Including Rural)
2013-14: 358 Kms
2017: 2,05,404 Kms
Best Accomplishment – Minister : Manoj Sinha, Past : RS Prasad
Rural Road Construction
2011 – 2014: 81,095 Kms
2014-2017: 1,20,233 Kms
Super Speed of Road Minister : Nitin Gadkari
Coal Production
2013-14: 462 Million Tones
2016-17: 554 million Tones
You will be happy to know that Now Coal Thermal Project are getting cancelled because of Solar, We are surplus in both – Coal and Renewables  Minister : Piyush Goyal
New toilets Construction
2013-14: 49.76 Lakh
2016-17: 2.09 Crores
Swachh Bharat – Minister : Narendra Tomor and Venkaiyya Naidu
2014: $24.2 USD
2017: $56.3 USD
Liberal and Open Economy Minister : Arun Jaitley
GDP Growth
2014: 6.6%
2017: 7.1%
Minister : Arun Jaitley
Fiscal Deficit
2013-14: 4.6%
2017: 3.2%
Incredible Show of Fiscal Discipline
Minister : Arun Jaitley
2014: 11%
2017: 4%
Once again The Boss of Performance Minister : Arun Jaitley
Electrification in Railway doubled 
Speed of Doubling of Railway line is twice in Congress time 
Super Trains like Mahanama, Gatiman, Tejas and Humsafar launched 
Cleanliness to providing Internet at Stations to Redevelopment of Stations 
Status of Railways has also improved sharply for sure 
Minister : Suresh Prabhu


For Sure these ministers are doing a great job a applause to all of them.  This has been one of the best governments that India has ever witnessed.


Source : Forward on WA.  I verified most of the facts and they are true.

May 25, 2017 / subramanyam

My First YLP…

Some two months ago there was a Facebook post from Ravi Teja, the Club growth director of District 98 ToastMasters. The post spoke about an opportunity for a new Youth Leadership Program (YLP) program in Hyderabad and Ravi was looking for volunteers. As I was not a part of any YLP before, I volunteered to be a part of this one.

Soon I was added to a WhatsApp group, and we had an invite from Ravi to be a part of the first meeting. I am an indolent guy and the weekends make me more slothful than usual. I turned up 30 mins late for the first session. Thanks to Ravi who was patient enough to keep up with me.

The surprises began as we started for the first meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to know that Prashanti, a relative of mine,  was one of the persons who was spearheading the initiative. We drove for about 40 mins and reached KGNMT@Hydershakote in Hyderabad. KGNMT in Hyderabad houses children/teenagers who are forced to stay away from their parents. The reasons vary from case to case, in some cases, the parents would have committed some crimes, in some cases, the kids would have lost a parent or both the parents, in some cases, they are rescued from trafficking, etc.

Now meeting these girls and their councilors was in itself an experience. While I was still preparing as to what to do, thinking as to how to approach the kids? How to speak to them etc … Ravi announced that I would lead the YLP here. He did ask me before, but I accepted it before knowing the school and the kids.

I had mixed feelings when I had to take the session on CC2 the next week. However, the Neophyte’s serendipity (don’t blame me for sounding like Shashi Tharoor, but I was as confused as these words are :-)) came to my rescue. To my luck, each of the girls there was very supportive, and they were receptive to whatever I said. To begin with, they were all very shy and making them speak even for a minute was a huge challenge for me. However, there was something in these girls that made me go there every week. The dedication they showed, the sincerity with which they asked questions, the way they supported each other were amazing.

I spent six weekends with these girls, and every week the only thing I did was to ensure that a session on CC speech will happen and each of the girls would speak. The Almighty was gracious, and He ensured that people like Sai, Vamshi and Jayashree garu were there with me and gave their wholehearted support.

Those girls were indeed determined to learn the art of public speaking; they made notes of almost everything I spoke and gave their best shot every week. The girls started with speeches in Telugu. In the first two weeks, it was tough for them to make a 3-minute speech. Session after session, week after week I saw small changes happen. One week a girl would surprise me with a wonderful speech, the same girl would disappoint me the next week by running away from the dais. A girl who was eloquent in her Telugu speech would try a speech in English the next week; someone else would come up with a topic that would make my eyes go moist etc..

 In the midst of all this, one constant thing across the program was that the girls were hell bent on improving themselves. the co-operation I received from Vamshi, Sai and Jayashree mam in this regard is invaluable. I thank them for all the insights they gave and the way they added value to the program.

In the last session that we did on this Sunday (21-May-2017) we had ten girls giving their speeches. 4 of them gave their speeches in English. Every girl spoke for a minimum of 5 mins and did their speeches at a CC5 level. They were equally good with table topics and evaluations.  In fact one of the girls almost chided Vamshi for not following some tenets of CC4. My joy knew no bounds that day. I was euphoric to see the girls give such excellent speeches and awesome evaluations. Their thoughts on the contemporary subjects and events were amazing. They shared their views on Nirbhaya, the greed of humanity, child marriages, child labor and various other issues. In fact, this YLP helped me listen to the best speech I ever heard on mother and the motherly love.

As the YLP ended last week, I was left with mixed feelings.  Nevertheless the journey was indeed satisfying.


Ravi is clicking the Selfie, Vamshi is standing behind him, the  woman with bright smile is  Jayashree mam and your’s truly is holding the white board. 

There are a few moments in our life that fill us with extreme satisfaction, and then the words fall short to describe as to what we experience then. YLP was one such thing for me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank Ravi, Prasanthi and the girls @ KGNMT for giving me this opportunity. Thank you very much.