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The Universality of Parkinson's Law!

Discussion in 'Cheeniya's Senile Ramblings' started by Cheeniya, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Despite the eminent economist OJ da being my best friend in IL, I keep a safe distance from all economists, say at least 500 meters, because of their ability to state even the obvious in the most incomprehensible language. If guys like Art Buchwald can make such statements about economists as ‘An economist is a man who knows a hundred ways of making love but doesn’t know any women’, I can visualize the frustration they may have felt about them! I always thought that economists were guys who were blessed with everything except a good sense of humour until I came across an incredible economist! My first exposure to C.Northcote Parkinson was almost a decade after he pronounced his profound law that ‘Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’. On reading it, the scales fell from my eyes about economists as a clan and I started looking at them with fresh interest. Parkinson established that economic laws could also be stated in a language couched in humour and his instant rise to stardom paved the way to a plethora of economic laws stated in equally humorous language like the Peter Principle and the Dilbert Law. By now I realized that the much maligned community of economists was second to none in humour. My latest discovery is of course OJ da. To talk about his delightful sense of humour here will be like carrying coal to New Castle!

    I must now get back to Parkinson’s Law about how work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. This law makes me more contemplative than all the Vedas and Upanishads put together. The more I think about it, the more I am overawed by its universal applicability! For example, I had just read a blog by Chitvish lamenting how the ever increasing availability of consumer goods in the market had left us wanting more. This is in reality a derivative of Parkinson’s Law.

    In the 1940s, there was a famous Doctor in Triplicane (Chennai) by name Dr.Krishnamurthy Rao. He had an equally eminent assistant called Ramachar who carried a designation of Compounder. He was also a Stamp Vendor. Whenever I fell sick, my mother took me to him in a hand-pulled rickshaw and we used to be mentally prepared for a two hour wait because such was his popularity! All the medicines required were kept stored in his clinic as raw materials and it was Ramachar’s job to mix them as prescribed by the Doctor. The Doctor prescribed a combination of powders and liquids. He had a penchant for prescribing carbonate mixtures for most of the ailments as he strongly believed that most of the illnesses arose out of a bad stomach. The mixtures were dispensed in flat bottles which carried on one side the details of our name and the number of days for which the concoction needed to be consumed. On the other side of the bottle a strip of paper depicting a marking of single dozes would be stuck. There would be a prominent legend inscribed on the bottle imploring us to shake it before use. The concoction would be so bitter that it would be impossible to consume it without a spoonful of sugar. In my later years, whenever I heard the beautiful song ‘A spoonful of Sugar’ sung by Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins, I always had a fond recollection of my trysts with Dr.Krishnamurthy Rao. The song went like this:
    A Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
    The medicine go down-down
    The medicine go down
    Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
    In a most delightful way!

    Most of our illnesses were cured within a maximum of 5 days through these mixtures which had absolutely no toxic effect. We attributed this to the curative powers (Kairaasi) of the Doctor than the medicines! Branded medicines were unknown then. Then started an invasion of penicillin and other antibiotics. With that, the number of diseases also increased in geometric progression. These medicines created more diseases! A medical shop is not considered good unless it has at least a hundred thousand branded medicines. Thus we see the relevance of Parkinson’s Law here too! Diseases multiply to match the availability of medicines in the market!

    What Parkinson stated perhaps playfully has now reached the status of profound philosophy! It has indeed become the fundamental principle of all human activity!
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  2. iyerviji

    iyerviji Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Cheeniya Sir

    Good to know about Parkinson's Law. OUr family Doctor is a Kairasi Doctor. When we take her medicine in one day the sickness goes off. Usually half the sickness is cured by the love and friendliness shown by the Doctor. Since 30 years she has been our family Doctor.



    Regards
    viji

    P.S. I just typed the fb and by the time I tried to post the net went off. I thought I wont be able to give you the first fb. Luckily I could post it later.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
  3. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Viji
    Thanks for the first FB. You are a 'kairasi' FB writer!
    What you say is very true about Doctors. Their love and concern may cure about 70% of our ailment while the medicines they prescribe may cure the balance of 30%. Kairasi is nothing but the synonym for intense compassion!
    Sri
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear cheeniya Sir,

    what better way to start my Monday morning at IL after a lo...ng and hectic weekend than have a long chat (that's my idea of a fb) with you :)

    Though I have read the book long back I had no idea he was an economist..i share your view here..Why economists..Most of the commerce fraternity lack a sense of humour..i may be wrong but that has been my observation from the limited circle that I know….or maybe humour has nothing to do with what you do..it is just a trait that one is born with? Anyway I am drifting away from the topic…:)

    Parkinsons laws have relevance to almost every aspect of domestic life…the one about Expenditure rising to meet the income?…I never tire of hearing my father talk about just living off his salary in the sixties and the more than comfortable life that he leads now..

    I often pull my hubby’s leg when he is busy with his endless meetings….that the time he spends on it is inversely proportional to the value of it.:).

    And this one is SO true of people always acting important and blowing their own trumpet… "The man who is denied the opportunity of taking decisions of importance begins to regard as important the decisions he is allowed to take."
     
  5. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    sri,


    I did not expect this dig at economists from a person who has worked with one of the pillars of the backbone of our indian economy..:hide::biglaugh.

    But why economists, look at the copenhagen summit, and the views of our PM today..mygod, if it was not so fruitfull why did they waste so many manhours, preparing for it, dicussing and arguing on it,(include the media, the people..who all discussed and add these man hour.

    I remember the concoctions and compounders. I have a evergreen memory of an incident. I was around 7/8, I was at my grandmom's place. had a throat pain. he just gave me some tulsi concoction, and asked gm to give me hot rice with amaranth leaves, my throat pain disappeared. now the same , i need to give a course of antibiotics alone with other medicines. and a very staple diet of bread, and juices...

    Oh coming to the humor part, i beg to differ from mindi, because my betterhalf is also from the same and he does have good sense of humour.
    I know that you have a great sense of humour.

    Well it was a economists who must have said that the growth of economy was inversely proportional to the hems of the skirts of the ladies...

    Maybe i should first take note of what is called humor..??
     
  6. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    Hey shan,

    Oh coming to the humor part, i beg to differ from mindi, because my betterhalf is also from the same and he does have good sense of humour.
    I know that you have a great sense of humour.


    rare exceptions shan so let us treasure them..:) honestly , throughout my b com and C A years i never met anyone who made me laugh (sad,no? :) and i got to hear of so many fun stories from my bro in IIT...no wonder i married an IITian:)

    Well it was a economists who must have said that the growth of economy was inversely proportional to the hems of the skirts of the ladies...


    hahaa i never knew that line..

    Maybe i should first take note of what is called humor..??

    I find it the most interesting topic and wish Cheeniya sir would write an an entire post on it..:) No one else can do justice to humour... :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  7. Jpatma

    Jpatma Silver IL'ite

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    Sir,
    You have dooradrishti (can see far ahead), how come you came to know my work habits? Please do not insinuate me, iam your friend.

    I must never allow my boss to see this law, then he will increase my workload. Any way i think he will be thinking it has got something to do with parkinson disease.

    I am yet to read this book, but sure i will buy it. You may take the sales commission for referral from the author or the trust.

    Corollaries for this law are many : clutter and space, data and storage, expenses and income, yes it is universally applicable. Thinking again not all economist are without sense of humor or bankers are a big bore. In IL OJ san is hasya chakravarthy while banker Cheeniya is Comedy King.

    The compounder matter brought back some memories for me. I remember the compounder mama( i don't know his name, this is how i call him) use to powder those pill with a flat knife. First he will smash it with the flat side of the knife and mince it up to powder, i love to watch him in action. He reminds me of great chinese Chef the way they mince the garlic and chop it in fast motion to tiny bits. But now the word compounder has gone into oblivion. You brought back the nostalgic memories for me.

    Now that i know my work style has been doctrined , i must find some nice excuse to cover up. May be i will say i work hard (hardly) but not smart ,thats why work stretches to the time available.

    Sir ! adutha threadle enne vittudenga, kodi punyam ondu.
    Jaya
     
  8. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Mindi
    Your point about the economics and commerce fraternity generally lacking in humour needs to be examined in detail. My own take on this is that people who have a flair for numbers are usually very rational in their thinking. Humour needs a person to be a bit irrational. The more irrational he is , the better will be his humour, like Oscar Wilde for example! Of course, I am another example! Rational guys can never look at a scenario with a stretched imagination which is the basic ingredient of a good sense of humour.

    As regards the length of a meeting and its value Shanahan's Law states it very clearly thus:
    " A meeting's length is inversely proportional to the square of the number of attendees and its productivity inversely proportional to its length!"
    It is indeed amazing how some people are able to conceptualise life's little aberrations in hard hitting statements!

    Your last statement is the quintessence of human behaviour and we see them everywhere around us!
    Sri
     
  9. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Shanthi
    That's a very tempting question you have raised in the end! It is very difficult to pass it over. And with Mindi acting as a catalyst, I am keen to stretch my mind a bit over this vital question.

    Coming back to the humourless economists, of course every rule has an exception. I was a banker no doubt, but it was more out of compulsion! I studied geography and became a bank officer because in my days, the job you were saddled with had no connection to the subject you studied. Thus a chemistry graduate joined the Accountant General's office and a Zoology graduate became a Railway guard!

    Even before Copenhagen was selected as the venue for the epoch making summit, we all knew what the outcome would be but you must admit that Copenhagen was a nice city to be! When Russia (the then USSR) was behind the Iron Curtain, they always joked about how the election results were printed and kept in a sealed receptacle even before the elections took place!

    The connection between the growth of economy and the helms of skirts eludes me but I'll find it out some day!
    Sri
     
  10. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Jaya
    It's news to me that you got your job because the work expanded to accommodate you! It is a greater news that your boss tends to associate this Parkinson with that Parkinson!:rotfl

    But honestly, you must get hold of this book and read it. The sales commission can either be paid to me or offered to you as a discount. Bankers are certainly a big bore if they are knowledgeable but I was not! I retired prematurely twelve years ahead of the due date because of my frustration at not being able to master the subject of Banking.

    The closest to a compounder I see these days is the guy who makes Pav Bhaji in restaurants. He displays the same skill as the Ramachars of my days! I have seen Ramachar even acting as the Doctor whenever a lowly patient came for treatment in the absence of the Doctor. Those were the days indeed!

    Adutha thread mattum ille, endha threadleyum ungalai vida matten!
    Sri
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010

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