Hemant Kumar ’73


Does information technology affect common man? Maybe if you ask the vegetable vendor next door, or the grocer, or the cobbler, or the rickshaw puller, you may get an answer ranging from an incredulous look (Information Technology…? What is it…?) to an emphatic NO.

In this age it would be in order if we analyse it in a systematic manner. Let us consider how it affects various walks of society.

For All Mankind:

Nearly 8 hours are spent in sleep (for those who do not continue to sleep in their workplaces too, or the housepersons who do not take their afternoon siesta as well). About 2 hours are used up in breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner etc. Another 2 hours on average are spent on personal grooming and personal hygiene. These activities havelittle to do with infotech. Thus we can safely conclude that infotech does not affect the entire mankind for at least half a day each day.

For infants and toddlers:

Increase the hours spent in sleep by 6-10 hours. Add 2-4 hours of mischief, and the balance time crying to get the attention of Mom or anybody around, and you are left with no time for infotech.

For the Children:

a)      On Schooldays: Nearly 7 hours are spent in school (mothers can never be too thankful for that), besides average 1 hour for commuting to and fro (this may increase to 2-3 hours in metros where going to school is like going to another town). In school, infotech has only added one more to the burgeoning list of subjects to be studied. Ask any student. They would be more than keen to reducethe list as much as possible. They would like to get rid of the ‘Computers’ too unless they get time to play fancy games on it. Physical games after school hours consume at least 1 hour, while homework takes about 2 hours (even if it less, it is made out to be so, to avoid any work at home). The balance 1 hour is spent in front of the ubiquitous idiot-box, watching their favourite cartoon shows.

So? Does IT affect them? Maybe, for creating the good quality cartoon shows and computer games. But that is about it.

b)       On Holidays: Add the sleep hours by 3. Add 1 hour for tidying up their room (much against their wishes), which they mess up during the weekdays. Add 2 hours of TV, what with Shaktiman and its ilk bombarding the air-space around us. Increase the playtime to 4-5 hours. The balance time is spent talking to their friends or visiting them, making plans for the next holiday, etc. Some children indulge in their hobbies. Thus, unless the hobby is to work on computers, and they have one at home, there is hardly any role of IT other than in entertainment (?) on TV.

For the Adolescents:

Adolescents somehow fancy the idiot box more than anybody else does. They however prefer different kind of programmes, and the role of infotech is less in them. They also like to make use of the phone more than everybody else put together. Here infotech plays some role, but it is limited to the communication system. They are the ones who are more likely to be on the chat-groups on the Internet, and insist that their parents providethem with an expensive toy named Personal Computer, as also an Internet account. Since the time spent by them on these activities is likely to be about 1 hour on an average (not everybody has access to the Internet with only 6 million users out of a population of 998 million), the role of infotech is limited even for the adolescents.

For the Youth:

Some youth keep on following the pattern they set while still adolescents. Others mature to more mundane tasks. One thing is common though. They have boundless energy for the hobbies they have. Most divert their attention to sports and other‘sporting’ activities. Those who get hooked to the Internet spend 3-4 hours daily while some others may get hooked to computers as such, and spend like amount of time. For others, computers may be passé, and Internet a No-No.

On an average, infotech may play significant role for an insignificant portion of a day in the life of our youth in general. I would put it as about 1 hour per day.

For the Unemployed:

This is one category for which infotech really plays an important role, for wrong reasons, though. They feel that infotech would be able to get them real ‘Cool’ jobs, and they keep on investing (?) in acquiring IT skills. They certainly provide employment to the people who run the training institutions in this field. Since the era of on-line application via Internet (or similar medium) is yet to dawn in India, a large portion of their time is used in making applications (a computer printout of curriculum vitae certainly looksbetter than a typewritten one). Since we still believe in attested copies of documents with the application-form, and attestation of photographs, and haven’t progressed to a common ID no. for a variety of tasks (like social security number in the western world), the unemployed have to make rounds of the post-offices or the couriers and infotech has no role to play in either activity.

In short we can say that the unemployed believe that infotech can play a large role for them, but it actually belies expectation.

For the Self Employed/ Businessmen:

Unless your business is in infotech (training in IT, publishing, communications, ISP, on-line market, e-commerce, hardware or software, etc.) you get more bogged by infotech than gain from it. Some banks have computerised their services, and made it possible for the IT buffs of the kinked variety to savour your hard-earned money. Several businesses have positions for IT managers because most others in the organisations do not, and do not want to, know about it. Mostof our businesses are divorced from infotech, and are none-the-worse for it. For those in IT companies, constant dread of losing out to youngsters, fast obsolescence, threat from the viruses, hackers, and crackers abound. I would not be surprised if mostof them have peptic ulcers by the time they reach their thirties.

One of the shortcomings of the infotech is that those who believe in it do so completely, without realising that it is far from perfect. One example is the last issue of SAM. In my article “Snippets from a foreign junket”, whereas I had written one-and-a-half hours (in numerals) as the time taken for flight between Chicago and Pittsburgh, the article printed showed it to be 11 hours. This was apparently because the format was not read by thecomputer it was printed on and it replaced it by 11 and our Ed felt that he need not do proof-reading. This happened twice in the article. Also in “SCRAM” the word ‘lose’ became ‘loose’ by the person who typed it out, but the spell-checker found it to be OK. Ed depended on the spell-checker only.

Thus the role of infotech, even for those in IT business is unpleasant, and often does affect the quality of life adversely.

For the Retired:

Retired people have a lot of time for everything. However, a tendency noticed among them is that they have to spend a lot of time trying not to fall sick. This may include leisurely walks, slow-paced exercise, and visits to doctors, not to talk of the pills they have to supplement their meals with. Reminiscing is another common trait. They gravitate towards like people, and engage in long conversations. Most of them have to periodically make trips to their former offices in connection with their pension. Some recently retired ones may engage in building houses, and settling their offspring. Unfortunately for the IT backers, none of these activities involve infotech. We can safely say that infotech has no role to play for the retired people.

For the Sick:

Infotech has made lots of progress for the really sick ones (discount sneezing, flu, diarrhoea, headache, cough, cold, and such routine diseases). For diagnosis, it has been able to help the docs with CATs and Mouses (don’t smell a rat). Doctors can even discuss on the Internet on the various available ways and means to kill their patients in case Mother Nature is not doing it before them. But what percentage of population is really sick?

Can we, therefore, say that infotech is for the really sick ones?

For the Dying:

Those who are really dying do not care if there is infotech or not. Those who think they are dying require a shrink. Infotech does not matter


Keeping the above in mind, and after carefully considering all the arguments against it (and none for it – after all it is my article and I will write what I want to), it can be concluded that infotech hardly affects us. If one takes the weighted average, and provide correction factors for confidence-levels, psycho-physiological traits, demographic trends, and for the fact that more than half the population in Indiahas never heard the name of infotech, and after applying Laplace transformation and solving the resultant partial differential equation of the fourth order (those interested in the details may please contact the author) we come to a figure of 16 minutes and 23.023 seconds approximately, as the average time per day that infotech affects our lives in India.

So what is the hullabu about?




Anshuman Mohapatra ’96


Publishing journals is an industry by itself. But SAM is no ordinary journal, for it requires a lot more input than any other normal magazine. The very act of publishing any issue is not as trifling as it might appear to the uninitiated. The Editorial team makes it an issue to treat each issue of SAM as if it was each one’s own issue (?). In fact, the discussion of publication of any SAM issue can be divided into three issues (oops!). I shall dwell upon them, briefly and objectively (with, maybe, only a tinge of my emotions showing through).


The first issue is the selection of the special breed of workhorse called Ed SAM. This selection process involves gathering the firstee batch and inducing them into showcase their latent literary inclinations (as opposed to the imposition kind) by creating in them a craving for becoming THE Ed SAM. This process is achieved by telling them alluring (and, of course, tall) tales of what they would stand to gain on becoming an editor of this prestigious magazine. They are told that this is THE chance to make it big in life (as if, they haven’t already made it). They are asked to volunteer for this procedure (after making sure that they know volunteering is compulsory). Finally, they are given topics which range from the moon (its there in this issue) to the sun (unfortunately, it’s not there). They have to write about their far-fetched dreams and fantasies (my ardent fantasy when I was getting this inducement was to have a night’s worth of blissful sleep). Later when the entries pour in (not always willingly), they are put under the scrutiny of the SAM team and the new addition to the team is announced accompanied by sabashis.


To publish a magazine, you must have something to publish in it. So the hunt begins for material. Notices are circulated in Gym exhorting all & sundry to put on their thinking caps and let their creative juices flow. In fact, despite the notices some regular contributorsare pestered day in and day out till they submit their contributions. Of course, the wonderful multi-faceted talent of the firstee batch is tapped (this time to produce articles that are printable). Local Sams and Simis are sounded out. Previous issues of SAM are opened to list out likely contributors and Ed SAMs get after them with their instruments of torture (now a days it’s the phone. “Sir, this is …we are taking out another issue of … we are sure you would like to contribute). The regular contributors are given gentle reminders. The next step is the practical question of finance. Since the value of SAM can not be measured quantitatively, our policy is to give it free of cost. The modus operandi of meeting our financial requirements lies in allowing advertisements to be placed in our magazine in lieu of certain remuneration. It is a different matter altogether that more often than not we are not in a position to be selective about the ads (actually we are not at all selective). For getting these ads we catch hold of who else, but our readers. “ Sir, I am … we are short of funds. Can you get us some ads?” Sometimes some of you might get to hear a variation of this theme also.


Now that we have a magazine to publish, we have to get down to the task of publishing it. It involves a week of continuous toil (read typing) and another continuous of proofreading (despite any rumours of otherwise). And lo! The magazine is ready. But the struggle for Ed SAMs doesn’t end there for unlike any other magazine where the distribution is handled by separate organisations, we do it O3 (on our own). So starts the quest for addresses, and preferably correct ones.


By now, I must have made it apparent that Editor SAM is a round the year, round the clock job. It so happens that when I go to meet a SAM the Ed inside me comes to life (my batchmates call it the Ed SAM mode) and I invariably ask about the 3As (to quote an Ed SAM- Ads, Articles & Addresses, not necessarily in that order). The art of publishing SAM lies in balancing thevarious variables and ensuring the arrival of a good immensely readable issue of SAM, and of course, savouring the joy that arises out of that. I sincerely salute the first group of editors who got together and sweated it out to give us the first issue of SAM.



B.M.Shyam Singh ’60


‘REIKI” is a word from the Japanese language, meaning universal life force. It is a meditative technique based on Pathanjali Yoga Shastra, Buddhism and other Oriental Religious system.


The Divine energy is all pervading, omnipresent for every being to be shared equally irrespective of caste, religion, cult or status. The Reiki discipline involves a series of mental and physical exercises followed with attunements by Gurus.


 Basically its usage is


§  To heal oneself and others.

§  To contribute to the well being of oneself and others.

§  To heal relationships.

§  To dissolve blocks and struggles in life and make life smooth.

§  To manifest intentions and to have things happen instead of struggling and achieving things in life.

§  To create abundance for oneself and others.


With the aforesaid forces the human body becomes permeable to the divine universal life force allowing energy to flow through the body. The intensity and the effectiveness gradually increase, culminating in many a miracles. The Reiki operates beyond thoughts, feeling, faith, belief, system and religion. The best part of it is that the benefits of Reiki can be passed on to believers, non-believers either in person or i.e., the healing energy can be passed on to the persons situated far away in any part of the world just by knowing the person’s name, photograph, whereabouts and details of ailments.


Akin to Karate or other martial arts, Reiki has degrees of attunements, which is in stages. There are three degrees (I, II, III) which are followed with Mastership and Grand Mastership.


The pioneer for Reiki is Dr.M.Usui, who through meditation of different types ushered in the discovery of Reiki, which was long lost to humanity. This technique of alternative medicine flourished in Japan, China, and Malaysia. Then it was transported to United States of America. From there onwards, it has spread to other parts of the world, reaching India in 70’s/80’s. Now in all Metropolitan cities it’s being practised by housewives and persons of diverse disciplines.


Advantages of Reiki:


·      Not difficult to learn.

·      Simplest healing method we know of.

·      Special medical knowledge is not necessary (as Reiki possesses wisdom of its own and functions on its own accord).

·      Easiest and most effective way of transferring.

·      Can be used to complement all other kinds of healing methods.

·      Holistic treatment effected.

·      Effective even on abstract concepts and inanimate objects.

·      Can also be used for healing over long distances and also in anticipation (as Reiki is not constrained by space or time.

·      No ill effects to the healer (as the healer is only a channel).

·      Healer’s ability will not diminish even if not used much. Reiki works with a high degree of smoothness.

·      As Reiki flows through the giver to the received, the giver is also benefited. The more one gives Reiki, the more one receives.




Reiki has been found to be very effective in handling addiction, allergies, arthritis, burns, child birth, clinical depression, deafness, dumbness, epilepsy, eye problems, haemorrhage, kidney failures, menstrual problems, mental disorders, migraine, minor ailments, muscular atrophy, nephritic syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Pre and Post Operative Care, psoriasis, Pregnancy, Ulcers, viral infections, withdrawal symptoms etc.


Reiki can also be made available to animals, food, household, industry and business, medicines, plants and trees, in education. Reiki enhances memory power, improves relationship between students and studies. In business and industry, Reiki is found to be of immense help in areas of Industrial relationships, labour relationships etc.


No amount of write-up can be exhaustive enough to reveal the powers of Reiki. As such I am enclosing my personal experience for your reference. Needless to say that the names are to be kept confidential.


I am a Mechanical Engineer serving Indian Railways in Class-I capacity for more than 39 years. During the last two and half years, I have been exposed to various types of‘Meditational Workshops’, through which I have been able to develop extra-sensory perception and psychic ability. I have undergone the following types of mediations: -


1. Transcedental meditation

2. OM - Meditation

3. Pranic Healing

4. Reiki-I, II, III A & B, Mastership.

5. Vipasana.

6. Self Hypnosis

7. Raja Yoga

8. Combination of the above.


Through application of the above and combination of the systems I have been able to develop certain easy methods for instant relaxation, healing and methods for solving many types of problems, at metaphysical level. My main intention of projecting some of the notable events is to enthuse others towards different types of meditations and get the benefit thereof.


1.   Savithri was taken as inpatient in Lallaguda Railway Hospital on 24/25th March’99 with high blood pressure (180/110) and later moved to NIMS. Tests revealed bleeding in the cerebral region. The medical diagnosis was HTW, CVD, left capsulo ganglion C bleed with intra-ventricular EXT. NIMS ref. IP 4879. The CTscan revealed a cerebral bleed. Being in the centre, surgery was ruled out and the prognosis given was bleak. After continuous application of Reiki through body touch and crystals, she revived within 3 days and was shifted to a special ward from the AcuteMedical Care Ward. After 6 days on 31.3.99, she was shifted to Lallaguda Railway Hospital and kept under observation. During this period, continuous Reiki was given. Almost normalcy was achieved within 15 days. After 3 months, she has become normal and now is continuing with normal activities as housewife including exercises, games etc.


2.   One of the Senior Administrative Officers (Financial Adviser, South Central Railway, Smt. Meera Nageswaran), who was desperately trying for transfer to Madras to join her family which includes grown up daughters, approached for ‘REIKI’ help. Through goal achievement in crystal box, transfer materialised within 18 days, for which she gave a cheque for Rs.501/- to Shankar Mutt Temple Trust.


3.   M/s Bharat Petroleum Corporation (Shri Saitu and Shri Prasad) had organised a function on 13.10.99 in connection with inauguration of Computerised Railway Consumer Depot (i.e. High Speed Diesel Oil Depot) for fuelling diesel locomotives at Bhoiguda side of Secunderabad Station. The function was scheduled to start at 16.30 hours. At 16.10 hrs, there was heavy downpour and there were black clouds all around. The Manager of M/s Bharat Petroleum came to my office and requested for Reiki Help. The same was rendered. The rain totally stopped at 16.25 hrs in and around the area, where the function was expected. Though dark clouds were hovering the rain was in abeyance until the end of the function. Immediately after the function was over, there was heavy downpour.


4.   Smt.Tulasi Bai, mother of Shri Ram Pratap, A.P.Judiciary, 87 years with acute arthritis was admitted in NIMS with low bloodsugar on one Friday. It had touched a low of 50mg and survival (as declared by doctors) was remote. However, Reiki was applied with pyramids and Anthahakransymbols. Normalcy was achieved on Sunday. The level of blood sugar came back to normal. The old lady was discharged after 6 days from NIMS. On reaching home, her room was cleansed with Reiki power. After 2 months have elapsed, her conditions is getting better and better.


5.   Neurologist, Dr.Parthasarathy Deb, Appollo Hospital was treating a patient Smt Mamta, (daughter of Shri Veera Raghavulu of State Telephone Department Training Centre, resident of Ameerpet Colony). CT scan was showing small tiny tumoursalong with two medium-sized abscesses. Before application of Reiki she had problems of nausea, vomitting, irregular fever and impaired loco motion (not even able to go to toilet independently), blurred vision with double images and occasional headaches. On application of Reiki both through body touch, remote, crystals and pyramids, the position started improving. Doctors had declared that she was having brain T.B earlier for the last 6 months. She was being treated on allopathic drugs of highest potency. Later issue culture test revealed that she is not having T.B. During the last two months, there has been appreciable improvement and all the above symptoms have receded. Her blurred and double image has improved to single image when looking straight. Now she is able to walk upto 2 kms every day from Ameerpet to Yellamma Temple. She is regularly doing meditation under Anthahakaran and on the days when not doing so, she is not getting good sleep and at times headache. The recent CT scan taken is showing signsof improvement. The tiny tumours have vanished.


6.   Smt. Latha Akula, age 21 years (husband Shri Narendra Akula) with acute meningitis (6th nerve affected). Her husband is posted in New Zealand. She was admitted into Apollo Hospital on 9th July 1999 with neurological problems and left side partial paralysis. She is an MBA student. When she was given first Reiki, she was very weak and not able to get out from the bed. There was fluid accumulated between the brain and skull. However, Doctors had decided not to put on the shunt. On medication at Apollo Hospital her fever was not coming down. With application of Reiki, improvement started. On 27th August she is far better with more than 50% improvement.


7.   On Sunday (22.8.99) information was received from Bangalore about Anasuya Bai in I.C.Unit in a private hospital suffering from cardia pulmonory lungs. Through telephone Reiki was given along with instructions to feed poor people. Within 3 days 70% improvement has been achieved and the patient is likely to be shifted to ordinary/special ward for further treatment.


To be continued...

Enjoy Life Now


Mrs. Preeti Kumar ’88


Recently the thinking of people has drastically changed. Now they think, understand and plan for this time, the present. Money has become the ideal and the most wanted. We, who were the defenders of idealistic values, have involved ourselves in a materialistic marathon. We have ended up adoring money and millionaires.


To keep our environment stable it is necessary that whatever we are taking from it should be returned in any form or shape or size. We have taken more than enough from our predecessors, but are we leaving anything for our successors- be it values, culture or anything? Earn, spend and enjoy has become the motto today. Our elders have given us the foundation of simplicity, sacrifice, love and truth; and on that we are building castles of selfishness.


The urge for money will never end. Today one’s respect depends upon one’s monetary status. This thinking will never change tillas such a time the urge for money is very much alive in one’s heart and mind. Then can we expectour upcoming generations to respect us?


The House On The Other Side Of The Moon


Parivesh Sahu ‘98


Moon has always been the subject of the fantasies of people, especially the poets and the lovers. Both these classes promise to give the moon. Most of the poets bring, at least one time, the mention of moon in their poetry and all the lovers try to impress their sweetheart by promising to bring them the moon.


For ages, the moon was a mystery for the people. They were awed to see the moon change its size everyday and form different shapes and the curves. Moon even became an integral part of the festivals, the religious rituals and worshiped as ‘Chandra Dev’. It also occupied an important place not only in astronomy but also in astrology controlling ‘vartamaan’ and ‘bhavishya’ of people.


Moon has also been related with some mythological stories. Some said there is a hare on the moon, some said that an old woman is spinning yarn on the moon. But no one was sure what is the moon and what is going on there.


Then the scientists came with a theory about the moon claiming that it was just another celestial body having not even any light of its own. The surface of moon is full of crests and troughs and it only reflects the light of the sun. But still they could not dampen the spirit of hard core poets and the lovers. Moon is still in their hearts and in mine too.


For me, it is still the same moon and I still have the same fantasies and fancies for the moon. I believe there is another world on the other side of the moon, free from all the sins and all the bad omen of earth. There the skies are clear, the air is soothing, the land is all green, and everywhere and in everything there is only love and goodwill. There is no hatred, people can be trusted and everyone performs his duties sincerely. In that world, is a house, the house of my dreams andof my aspirations. The house is glittering with all the white light; the surfaces and the walls are of glasses and everything that suits the eyes. I dream of that house everyday. I long for my dream house in my dream land and will definitely get what I want. For I know how to get that.


I just have to believe in myself and the implication of all the good I have done will help me in getting me the house on the other side of the moon. And yes, one day, I will get that house of mine.



Utkarsh ’98


This is in continuation to and inspired by an article by Mr. Hemant Kumar ’73 in SAM Autumn ’99 issue. In that article the author had dwelt upon the use of the dropping of the ‘R’ from SCA which resulted in Sams not becoming SCRAMs. I think I have hit upon a better alternative.


In the short period of my life that I have spent as a Special Class Apprentice, I have found out that the mannerisms of an SCA or a Sam speak, nay, scream for themselves. One can very easily recognise a Gymmie in a crowd. Therefore I propose that the word SCREAM be used instead of SCA.


By the way SCREAM can be meant to stand for Special Class Railway Engineering Apprentice Mechanical. The use of the word Engineering would eliminate the misgivings that the uninitiatedhave for the word Apprentice. They usually associate this blessed word with Mechanics (fitters and welders). And all of us know very well that SCAs are the best engineers and managers in the Indian Railways today.


SCRAM gave rise to SCREAM. Who knows, someone might make up a ‘full-form’ for CREAM- and cream of the Railways SCAs certainly are.


My Tryst with ISO 9000

 Hemant Kumar ’73


“Yeh ISO 9000 kya cheez hai?” asked my wife one evening as I returned home after another gruelling day at office.

I was posted in DCW, Patiala, which was getting ready to implement the provisions of ISO-9002. Mr. M.G. Sripathi, our consultant, the hard task master that he is, had been driving us at a hectic pace; and my wife had heard the words ‘ISO 9000’ many times as the reason volunteered for becoming delayed at office. Now, I thought that I knew sufficiently about ISO 9000 to foolthe uninitiated, and decided to make my wife suffer for her audacity in asking questions outside the realm of her chores as a housewife. That my wife knew that I was a qualified Lead Assessor (you can pass an exam and yet be genuinely ignorant about the subject), and I did not wish to come down from the high (?) esteem that she held me in, was another matter.

 “Yeh ek International Standard hai, Quality Systems ka,” I replied without as much as a pause.

“Tell me more about it,” she insisted. I knew then that it was going to be like Satyanarayan Katha - what was the procedure, who all have adopted it and to what avail, what happened to those who did not, etc.

“OK, you asked for it,” I quipped, “but I am afraid it is going to take a while, and all of it may not be intelligible to you”. I bit my tongue even as I said it. My wife does not like her intellect to be questioned, and takes it as a challenge if someone does.

“Never mind THAT,” she said in a voice as warm as Antarctica, “tum batao to”.

“You know that we often insist on ISI mark if we wish to buy quality goods?” I started.

 “Yeah, and a fat lot of good it does to our budget. To top it, the quality is still indifferent,” my wife complained.

“Precisely,” I interjected. “Their quality is not assured. They are made to ‘product-standards’, and their conformity depends on inspection. Now, inspection has inherent drawbacks. There may be an error of judgement; the shop floor environment may not be conducive to proper inspection; the inspector may be under pressure from his colleagues or superiors; or he may be downright careless; or he may simply be fatigued”. I was getting fatigued myself.

“Oh, I see. Your point is well taken. But how does ISO-9000 help in this situation?”

She was taking genuine interest.

“ISO-9000 is not a product-standard,” I informed her.

“So? How does that help?” she asked.

“It is a Systems-standard. In fact the three system-standards are ISO-9001, ISO-9002 and ISO-9003 against which organisations can be certified. Together they are known as ISO-9000 family of standards. Actually ISO-9000 standard, and there are four parts to it, is a guideline for selecting ISO-9001, 9002 or 9003. ISO-9001 is applicable when the organisation is involved in design, development, production, testing, installation and servicing of products or services. ISO-9002 is same as ISO-9001 minus design and development part while ISO-9003 is for only final testing and inspection…. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?”

“You mean if one understands ISO-9001, one can understand the other two automatically?” My wife, undeterred, was picking up the threads quite fast.

“Yes, indeed!” I replied. “Do you know that it can be applied in any situation, by anybody?”

“Can it be applied in the kitchen as well?”


My antenna failed to pick up the danger signals.

“Well! Let us get on with ISO-9001,” she persisted.

“Actually ISO-9001 is implemented through 20 operative clauses, appearing in the standard as 4.1 to 4.20. Each clause is complete in itself and arranged logically. Customer is the focus of the standard and quality of a product or service has been more or less equated to customer satisfaction.”

“Interesting,” cooed my wife.

I had not found it so interesting during my training.

 “Clause 4.1 deals with the Management’s responsibility. The organisation ought to appoint a management representative, MR for short, who has to co-ordinate all activities related to ISO-9001, convene Management Review Meetings or MRMs, and should have the necessary authority for all this.”

“For my kitchen, can I appoint you as the MR?”

“No. Because I am your customer.”

“Does it bar the boss to be the MR?”

“I do not suppose so.” I was on shaky grounds.

“OK. Then I will be the M.R. as well.”

“Clause 4.2 deals with the quality system. The quality system should be well documented, and understood by the whole organisation. Generally quality policy, quality objectives, scope etc. are dealt with under this clause.”

“Wai…t a minute… What is quality policy?”

“It is a proclaimed policy of the organisation, which guides all its efforts related to quality. This policy must be understood by everybody in the organisation”.

“And quality objectives?”

“These are objectives in some key areas that one hopes to achieve through implementation of the quality system. They may be qualitative or quantitative in nature. The scope of quality system also has to be defined. The objectives are framed from within the scope and are derived from the quality policy.”

“You mean quality policy is like a Mission Statement?”


Now, that was a specific management term. I did not let my wonderment show. Had my wife been going through some management books behind my back?

“OK. What about the rest?”

“Clause 4.3 deals with Contract Review. A contract is with the supplier and its customer. It is supposed to be documented. Even verbal contracts are to be confirmed in writing, so as not to leave any ambiguity. Every review has to be agreeable to both of them.”

“By supplier, do you mean the person who is providing the products?”

“Indeed. And services.”

I was getting more and more impressed. I had failed to discover this face of my wife in eleven years of our married life.

I continued, “Clause 4.4 deals with Design control. Throughout the process of design and development, design adequacy has to bereviewed, to see that the intended function is performed by the product.”

“And if the organisation does not have the means to conduct the ... design adequacy test itself?”

“It can get it done from outside, but must assure itself that the agency selected can do the job properly.”

“OK. Carry on.”

“Clause 4.5 is very important as it deals with Document control. It means that currently valid document must be available at the place of use, and obsolete ones are prevented from unintended use. A system has to be established to ensure this.” I further continued, “The next clause, 4.6, is regarding Purchasing. The vendors are known as sub-contractors in ISO-9001. One has to assure oneself regarding the capability of the subcontractors to understand the requirements and supply the material consistently of proper quality. The requirements have to be clearly mentioned.”

“Quite logical. How can you expect someone to supply material of proper quality if you do not specify clearly what you want?”

I did not reply, as the question was not posed to anyone in particular.

“Clause 4.7 is regarding Customer-supplied products.”

“Regarding what…”

“Sometimes customers want that some products supplied by them to be used in the final product by the supplier.”

“I see.”

I did not see it at all during my training. My wife was one up on me.

“The sole responsibility of ensuring proper quality of customer supplied product is that of the customer. The supplier’s responsibility is to see that it does not deteriorate while it is stored or handled at his end, and to inform the customer if it is apparent that the product is bad, and its use would affect the quality of the end-product.”

“Wow! It means that customer is also responsible for the quality of something.”

“Yes. It is because the supplier has had no control over the quality of the product supplied by the customer”. I continued, “Further, Clause 4.8 deals with product identification and traceability. Products have to be identified from the raw material stage, through various stages of production, to ensure traceability. This is necessary, so that if any shortcoming is noticed later, proper investigation can be carried out later, and the defective ones or defective lot withdrawn promptly.”

My wife interrupted me, “Does it mean that all the products have to be identified?”

“No,” I replied, “only those of the products and raw material which are considered necessary because of their role in the quality of the finished products. Supplier is free to choose the items it wishes to identify. Recordshave to be kept for those items.”

“That is some relief,” sighed my wife.

It was already late in the evening. The kitchen help had not come. My wife was not in a mood to cook. So we had to make do with bread and butter. I took a much-required break, to recoup my energies. “We shall continue tomorrow,” she declared.

I had no option.

The next day was busier still, and I got late at office. When I reached home, my wife welcomed me with a sweet smile, and a glass full of Sherbet. Signs were ominous. My wife had some papers and a pen ready with her. It was going to be another day of bread-butter. Kitchen help was on leave that day also. Show me a married man who says his wife’s wishes are not his commands, and I can show you a liar. When your wife asks you to do something and makes it look like a request, you had better comply.

“So, where were we?” I inquired of my wife.

Consulting her sheaf of papers, she replied, “We had covered up to clause 4.8. Twelve more to go.”

I was amazed, but continued nevertheless, “Clause 4.9 deals with the Process Control. Specified processes are to be performed in the documented way. Only authorised and trained people are to perform the work, and the equipment used should be capable of giving the desired results. Even environmentalconditions have to be right.”

“Quite exhaustive”, quipped my wife.

“Indeed. This clause is the soul of the standard in a production system. Detailed procedures and work instructions are required to be documented for the entire process, wherever considered necessary in the interest of quality,” I replied.

“Just a moment. What are these procedures and work instructions?”

“I will explain them in a while, after I have gone through the twenty clauses. Technically, they are covered in Clause 4.2.”

Consulting her papers she enjoined, “The one dealing with quality system?”

“Exactly. Now let us move on to the remaining clauses. Clause 4.10 is another important clause, and it deals with verification of products. Verification is in three stages - incoming, in-process and final inspection and testing. The stages have to be identified for all the products and quality plans drawn-up. Verification is to be carried out using inspection, measuring, and test-equipment, IMTE for short. Verification is by inspection by the supplier or any body else”

“Suppose some item is required urgently and inspection is taking too long, does one have to wait endlessly?”

This was a highly relevant question, and I started wondering if my wife has been secretly going through the standard (ISO-9001) herself, though the innocence of her face suggested otherwise.

“No. There is a provision for processing a material without waiting for verification, and it is called release under ‘positive recall procedure’. It only means that one may process it, butidentify it suitably. If material is found to be non-conforming, it should be possible to recall the items where such material has been used. If it is not possible to recall, processing of material for urgent production is not permitted.” I thought I had been able to confuse my wife enough by this time.

“Sounds logical,” my wife surprised me, “but what if the equipment used for inspection is defective?”

“Clause 4.11 deals with this aspect. All IMTE have to be calibrated and the reference IMTEs are to be traceable to internationally or nationally recognised standards. Jigs & Fixtures also get covered here.”

“What are Jigs & Fixtures?”

“Well! They are aids that help in doing quality work in a mass production system. They are for guiding the tool on the job, and holding the job, respectively.”

I was feeling one up on her now.

“I… anyway. Please carry on,” she shrugged.

“Clause 4.12 is for indicating status of inspection on products. All items have to be identified to show if the inspection at every stage of inspection has been carried out, and if yes, whether it has been found to be conforming or otherwise.”

“But is identification not covered in 4.8?,” she raised a doubt.

“Often people do get confused. Clause 4.8 deals with product identification for traceability, and applied for items considered critical. This would be like ‘batch no.’ or ‘serial no.’. However, 4.12 deals with identification of status of inspection at the verification stage, and would be by keeping the product in ear-marked areas for ‘under-inspection’, ‘non-conforming’, ‘passed’ etc. or by putting suitable tags, or by any suitable means.”

“I see. It is now clear to me.”

It had taken much longer for me to understand this difference.

“Clause 4.13 says that the method of disposal of products found to be non-conforming has to be documented. A non-conforming product can be reworked to make it conforming, re-graded for alternative use, sold under concession, or scrapped. How each will be done, is to be documented.”

I continued, “The next clause, 4.14, is for corrective and preventive action. Whenever a non-conformity is found in a product, process, or a system, it has to be investigated and remedial measures taken. It is called a corrective action, which is supposed to be complete when the root cause is eliminated so that it does not happen again. A preventive action is when such action is taken to prevent any potential non-conformity, even before it takes place.”

“How can that be?” protested my wife.

“Suppose the written instruction does not indicate the duration for which a cake is to be baked and leaves it for the cook’s discretion. It may not result in a bad cake, but is a potential area for bad cakes. In that case if the duration is specified in the recipe, it would be a preventive action.” I took an example from the kitchen.

“It sounds so simple when you explain it”, murmured my wife sweetly.

“Clause 4.15 deals with handling, storage, packaging, preservation and delivery.”


“Yes dear. The product has to be handled in a way that it does not get damage or deteriorate. It has to be stored properly till delivery. Packaging and preservation also are aimed at that. The product has to be protected till delivery.”

“Naturally. Who will take delivery of something that is already deteriorated or damaged?” smirked my wife. “I would never take milk from our milkman, if it has turned sour.”

“Clause 4.16 pertains to the record keeping. The quality records, which have been identified to be maintained, have to be kept at specified locations for specified duration. These records provide the evidence that the quality system is indeed being followed. They should be easily retrievable and well preserved.”

“Do all records have to be maintained?”

“Only those records that have been identified to be maintained according to the quality system”.

“Thank God!” my wife sounded quite relieved.

“You should thank ISO-9001”.

I continued, “The next clause deals with Internal Quality Audits.”

“Internal what?” She appeared to be losing her thread again.

“Quality Audits. An audit is to check if a system is being followed as documented. Internal quality audits are quality audits carried out by personnel of the organisation, or by external agencies on behalf of the organisation. The shortcomings noticed have to be corrected and verified by subsequent follow-up audits.”

“How often do they have to be conducted?”

“As often as the organisation says it wishes to, and mentions in the documented quality system”. I continued, “Next Clause 4.18 deals with training. All persons, who perform work that affects the quality, have to be trained. Their training-needs have to be identified and training organised. Necessary records have to be maintained.”

“Go on. Give me the last two clauses also.”

“Clause 4.19 says that servicing has to be performed, verified and reported to ensure that it meets the specified requirements.”

“Please explain,” demanded my wife.

“It only means that whenever servicing is included in the contract, a system has to be there to ensure that it is being properly done, the fact verified, and records kept.”

“Oh! That means it is not to be bothered about if it is not in the contract?” she inquired.

“That’s right. Now we come to the last clause. Clause 4.20 deals with statistical techniques.”

“I was never good at maths in school,” admitted my wife. “In fact statistics was my bête noire. Would this clause require that everyone learn statistics?” she inquired.

“No. You must have seen many consumer surveys, poll-surveys, readership surveys, etc.?”

“Yes, They do give analysis which probably nobody wants,” she was sceptical.

“But they are all based on statistical methods.”

“Which is why I do not understand them a bit.”

“That is besides the point. The main point here is that thousands of people are interviewed by hundreds of people. These interviewers are not statisticians. They are given a set questionnaire, and trained how to interview. That’s all. They need not know about moving averages, weighted means, curve fitting, or whatever. Even you can be an interviewer.”

“Is that so?”

My wife still harboured doubts.

“Indeed. Likewise, people concerned have to be trained in the role they have to play. They need not be statistics buffs.” I assured her.

“That covers all the twenty clauses. I remember you had mentioned earlier that you would tell me about documentation later. When are you going to do it?”

“Tomorrow.” I was tired. So was she, as I could make out from her bleary eyes. I was hoping that the saying ‘Tomorrow never comes’ is true. When one is dealing with one’s better half, one has to takecare so that it does not become the bitter half. So, tomorrow it was.

“Coming to documentation, I would like to mention that they are divided into four levels. The top level is the quality manual, which explains the quality policy, quality objectives, scope etc. Its controlled copies are to be made available to all concerned.”

“What are controlled copies?” my wife interrupted.

“It simply means that for such copies, a record of whom they have been sent, is kept. In case of revision of the document, copies of the new one are sent to them and the old ones withdrawn. Do you remember document control?”

“Clause 4.5.”

I was amazed at her grasp.

“It would be necessary to have all the pages numbered, initialled, date of issue and revision status indicated on the documents so that it is possible to exercise control. It is also prudent to identify each copy as ‘controlled copy’ and serially number them, so that they can be recorded in a issue-register.”

“Very thorough”, she mused.

“The second level of documents is the procedures. Procedures explain how activities are carried out, who carry them out, what records are kept, and so on”. I gave her a few samples of draft procedures for DCW. “The third level documents are Work Instructions. These explain how the work is actually carried out.”

“What is the difference between a procedure and a work instruction?”

This was a pertinent question and I myself was aware of the hazy boundaries - what they call a ‘grey area’.

“Well, procedures tell you how things are done, while work instructions tell you in detail how to do it.”

“They still sound the same to me,” she persisted.

“A procedure for making tea could be that ‘Tea is prepared by boiling tea leaves in water, and adding sugar and milk to taste’; while a work instruction could read ‘Boil one cup of water. Add half teaspoonful of tea granules. Close the lid of the teapot and wait for a minute or till a rich brown colour of tea is obtained. Strain, and add milk and sugar to taste’. A work instruction could also list the equipment required, its setting, etc.”

“Wow! I could never imagine that. I think I can make out the difference. Does that mean detailed work instructions are required for every procedure?”

“No. If the procedure is simple enough, details may be included in it and work instruction may be done away with. The amount of details to be given in the work instruction should be sufficient to ensure consistency of quality, but may not include the basic operating instruction the operator is expected to know because of his or her training or skill. (I was careful to avoid any gender specific terms.) For example, you do not have to include how to light up a gas burner or switch-on a heater in the work instruction.”

“I see.”

“The fourth level documents are the records. They include forms, registers which are required to be filled up and kept as per the quality system.”

“You mean under clause 4.16?”

My wife had learnt her lessons well.

“Yeah,” I muttered.

“OK. So, with that, is the lecture on ISO-9000 … I mean ISO-9001 over?”

“Yes my dear,” I replied. “I hope I have been able to make it clearer to you (than it is to me).”

“Hmm…” My wife was non-committal.

A few days passed rather peacefully. I believed that I had been able to douse the fire of ISO-9001 in my wife till one day I found hand made posters pasted at various nooks and corners of the house.

They said,

Quality Policy

‘Our policy is to delight the taste-buds, and feed the stomachs with healthy food.’

These fourteen words were to alter my world… of food, that is.

“What are you trying to do?” I confronted my wife.

“Simple. I am trying to implement the provisions of ISO-9001 in my kitchen. Did you not tell that they could be implemented almost anywhere?”

It was checkmate - a check by my mate. When I was able to gather my wits together, I asked, “Why ISO-9001 and not ISO-9002? After all you only use the recipes of the books?”

“I also improvise. Since the modifications do not have the approval of the original authors, I verify them in my lab on my guinea pigs”. She sounded like a scientist from Indian Council of Medical Research.

 “Where are the guinea pigs?” I was alarmed.

“You are,” she shot back.

“But I am the customer,” I whined.

“My dear darling husband, you are playing a double role”.

My wife had all the answers.

What followed was a weekly menu that was put up to me to endorse, which I dutifully did. Even when my wife does not say anything, I know what she expects me to do. And I do it as I know of consequences of not doing it. The taste of porridge was the same throughout except when the milk was of a different quality. I cornered my wife on that.

“If you have implemented ISO-9001 in the kitchen, how come porridge tastes so bland today?”

“It is because of the milk you brought today.”

“Where does that leave your ISO-9001?”

“I can’t help it. Milk is the customer-supplied product. Customer should not complain if the same is not good.”

The alarm bell was ringing loud and clear in my mind. For almost everything, I was the customer, and I also supplied almost everything. Therefore, the blame of anything could be squarely put on my wide (?) shoulders.

She could get away with murder.

“OK when do you go for certification?” I resigned myself to fate.

“No certification is required. I simply want to implement the system. Certification bodies are not going to get a single paisa from me. They can look for suckers elsewhere.”

This was weird. I had never told her about certification process at all.

“How come you know about certification?” I sounded confused.

“I peeked at your study material,” she smiled sheepishly.

“But I did not notice any signs of tampering?”

“Are you ever able to?” She said with an air of superiority. “Have you been able to see any sign of tampering on your letters?”

Oh my God! This woman could put even Sherlock Holmes to shame.

Even as she said it, she probably realised that she had said too much. But the damage was done.

The cat was out of the bag.

This had nothing to do with ISO 9001.

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