Closing the Loop


Sheela Jaywant

An MBA friend told me that ‘closing the loop’is what is said when, in simple language, ‘a job is complete, and we have got a satisfied response from the end user’.

I thought of a few things in my life where the loop is never closed.

Example one, footpaths/pavements and roads.

As a pedestrian, I find myself cringing and desperately stepping over gutters/shrubs to avoid being hit by passing cars. In Mumbai, where pavements exist, they are taken over by hawkers/drunkards or dog-poo. Often poorly tiled, they cause twists and sprains to my ankles. On occasion, I’ve found drivers two-wheeling on them to avoid/overtake the four-wheel traffic on the road. Getting onto and off the pavements is another story, for they are sometimes about fifty centimetres higher than the road level. Even to reach the edge from the road, I have to manoeuvre through closely parked vehicles. Add the circumference of the grocery bag to my abdomen and you know it can’t be easy. Getting padar/dupatta stuck in a handle or rusty metal edge is another story. There’s another side to the story.

As a driver, I find it difficult to not go dangerously close to pedestrians, especially on narrow two-way roads with big cars/buses plying on them. Risk-taking two-wheeler drivers are artists that display their talent at peak stress times, with or without helmets/pillions. Since the concept of covered gutters/rainwater-drains is relatively unknown in Goa, there is always a chance of a fall whether driving or walking. So we have great roads (job done well) with no planned spaces for the motorless cyclists/walkers. Loop not closed, everyone dissatisfied. Pedestrians abuse passing vehicles and drivers think anyone outside a car is a nuisance.It just shows we’re serious about our democracy: equal rights for jay-walkers, red-light-jumpers, licence-less motorists, vendors at signals, religious processions and, oh yes,… what would India be without our icon, the stray cow?

Flyover builders, road layers, MPs and bureaucrats, please note: in Management jargon, the loop on our roads is open.

Example two, garbage disposal.

The Swatch-Bharat campaign has been telling us for months now, on television, radio and the print medium, that we’re a dirty people.Spiritually evolved, with an ancient and rich heritage to be proud of, but dirty. At home, I have a bin for paper, plastic and glass things. The other bin stores our daily quota of peels and seeds of fruit, tips and tails of vegetables, bones and scales of fish. The latter is gently tipped into a groove around one of the trees, to be consumed by maggots and converted into ‘saarey’/compost. The former is collected by a horn-happy team employed by the panchayat that forays weekly into our ‘wado’. I’m told my garbage-bag is transported to and chucked upon a major dump in a neighbouring village. Sometimes, its contents are further segregated. The plastic is compressed into bricks and sent to factories, the glass is sold to waste-managing businesses for recycling, the paper and cloth also head to different, distant destinations. Sadly, sometimes the garbage-bag bursts open and mixes with other people’s oozing/decaying matter. Reason? The heap is common for all garbage. The plant that processes it is overloaded. History will say this about Goa: so few people, so much junk. The live-simply formula for happiness is stupid. We need more garbage plants. But not in my backyard, no-no-no!

Dear hoteliers, industrialists, shop-keepers, small businessmen, MLAs and bureaucrats: you’ve put up posters congratulating yourselves on how you’ve cleaned up your neighbourhood over the weekend. Management gurus say that unless you discipline us to keep up the exercise, and then show us where you took the garbage, where you will take it after every such ‘showcase’ weekend is over, and what you will do with it, the loop will remain open.

Example three: government-run schools, hospitals and other tax-paid facilities.

There’s no doubt in my mind that every Prime Minister of this country loved it and did whatever s/he thought was good for us. The three inmates of my house—Shri Husband, Bai Goanna and I— irreligious and apolitical, also believe that since Independence, we have improved in literacy and public health. (The lamanis on the beach belt are better at math/language than I am, earn more, so I don’t know whether attending school was an advantage at all. Sigh.)

Over the decades and through many governments, we’ve got rid of small-pox and polio (almost) and now have only tuberculosis and leprosy to deal with of the older scourges. Chikangunya/dengue, are comparatively newer rascals. Every time a friend/relative tells me how private hospitals cheat customers, take commissions and people for a ride, I wonder… why not go to a government hospital and insist on good treatment? If I were ever to become (not likely) part of the Government – as representative or executive — I would put this on my agenda in speeches/promises/to-do list.

Those in government in any capacity should have

l studied at least three years in a government owned/run school.

l their children study for at least five years in a government owned/run school.

l themselves and their immediate families treated for medical problems only in public/general hospitals. No reimbursement of medical bills.

l a two-year tenure working as a soldier/railway/postal employee in a hardship area.

l to use only public transport to and from work. No reimbursement of transport bills.

“Think,” I said aloud to myself as I typed the last sentence, “of the expense that would be saved on cars/petrol.”

“What about the drivers of those cars? And the flunkies who have to run to open and close doors?” Bai Goanna retorted, squinting over my shoulder at the monitor. “They may go on strike because their livelihoods will be affected, no?”

Shri Husband deflected what was likely to escalate to an argument: “So, how will your points be loops? Open or closed?”

Huh? I’m trying to understand his question(s) so I can figure out the answer or whether what he said/meant is part of some deep Management philosophy. He always confuses me.


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