Multitasking Or Singletasking: Which Is Indian?
- By Professor Prabhu Guptara
- Published 03/18/2008
Professor Prabhu Guptara
Professor Prabhu Guptara is Executive Director, Organisational Development, Wolfsberg (a subsidiary of UBS - one of the largest banks in the world). He is also Freeman of the City of London and of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, and Chartered Fellow of the of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; he is also Fellow: of the Institute of Directors, of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts Commerce and Manufactures; and he continues to supervise PhD research at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) as well as to be Visiting Professor at various Universities and Business Schools around the world.
Earlier roles include: a Governor of the Polytechnic of Central London, Member of the Council of the British Institute of Management, of the International Federation of Training & Development Organisations (IFTDO), of the Association for Management Education and Development (UK), of the South East Regional Council of the Confederation of British Industry.
Judge, 1988 National Training Awards, 1980 Commonwealth Poetry Prize, 1990 & 1991 Deo Gloria Prize for Fiction; Chair of the Panel of Judges, Deo Gloria Prize 1992 & 1993.
Experience with an enormous range of organisations including: Akzo Nobel (Netherlands), the Associated Banks Institute (Germany), Barclays Bank (UK), British Petroleum (UK), the Council of Europe, Cultor (Finland), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Groupe Bull (France), Federation of Finnish Engineers (Finland), the International Management Association of Japan, Kemira (Finland), Kraft Jakob Suchard (Switzerland), Leadership Academy (Finland), Nokia Telecommunications (Finland), Novo Nordisk (Denmark), Sedgwick International Insurance and Reinsurance Brokers (UK), Singapore Institute of Management, Sonatrach (Algeria), Sun Alliance (UK), UNCTAD, Valeo (France), and so on.
Organiser, chair and lecturer by invitation for numerous international conferences, he has contributed widely to radio and television in the UK and other countries (The Money Program, Any Questions) and has written for Financial Times (London, UK), The Guardian, The Times and other publications; articles, for example, in The Gower Handbook of Management, The Gower Handbook of Quality, and the International Encyclopedia of Business & Management (Routledge).
A CD-ROM has been issued of his lecture at the Professorenforum, University of Zurich, titled "Making the World Better - Why it does NOT happen...and what TO DO about it"
Further information available from email@example.com
His best-known research publication is "Top Executives in the Global 100 Companies and their IT-Competence" (ADVANCE: Management Training Ltd., UK, and Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre, Switzerland, 1998); and he is included in Debrett's People of Today and in Who's Who in the World. Professor Prabhu Guptara lives in Switzerland.
A young friend writes personally to me as follows:
"From the time that they lined up to fill their plates to the time that they finished their dessert of yogurt made from the milk of the buffalo that lives in the shed out back, these young Indians remained conspicuously silent.
Coming from a culture where talking is an important part of any meal, the silence struck me immediately. I wanted to practice speaking Hindi with our young hosts at this shelter home, but I decided to wait until finding out the reason for the solemn meal. For the next few minutes, I awkwardly finished my own meal using my fingers. Later, Charu, one of our guides, explained that the students are forbidden to speak during their meals. She elaborated that it is an important principle in India to do one thing at a time.
The rationale is that a person will do a better job of nourishing the body when completely focused on that task. There will always be time to talk after the meal. I admire this Indian aversion to multitasking, and am interested to see how it manifests in other areas of the society. In the sprawling metropolis of Delhi where I spent the first part of the week, I didnt see anyone phoning while driving or reading the newspaper while walking down the street. Multitasking is the norm in American society and in my daily life. While I am here in India, I am going to try doing one thing at a time and see how it goes."
" I don't know what group you are with, but they are fooling you if they want you to believe that there is anything Indian about singletasking! The whole of India lives on multi-tasking from the President of the country to the poorest and least-educated person, and from the richest to the poorest! If you haven't yet seen multi-tasking in India, then you need to open your eyes and look more "innocently" around you.
"Singletasking is good in itself and if you want to see a society that has internalised it, teaches it, practices it and lives on it, you need to visit Continental Europe (not UK)
These Indians are trying to teach something that is good to fellow-Indians (and perhaps foreigners) but are doing so on the basis of a lie - singeltasking is not Indian at all.
The idea of concentration is well accepted in India, but only in relation to one field: meditation – when it is a case of meditating on nothing or nothingness – such as the sound of a meaningless though supposedly powerful word (mantra) or the tip of your nose or the feelings involved in breathing or something like that
However, if you can learn singletasking, whether in India or elsewhere, that will not be a bad thing at all!"
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