Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mulling Over the Weekend

Big Fiasco
How does it matter if it was a 'medium intensity' blast. How does it matter that it happened accidentally?. The fact remains that in spite of the apparently 'beefed' up security measures, two lives were still lost in a cowardly act of barbaric terrorism. As reported, the miscreants belong to a terror group other than the from the ones already under the police microscope. It was a heart rending sight to see the distraught mother of that 9 year old boy who expired in this incident. Yes, DPS (Delhi Police Service) had claimed into breaking into the terror nexus in the capital after the recent terror strikes. But somehow, this incident has reduced the credibility of those claims to nought.

Big Fight
Topic: Nanavati Commission Report : Clean chit to Narendra Modi
It was an absolute fish-market. There was hardly any scope for a balanced discussion as the participants freely used unparliamentary language. An example : "Would you please keep your mouth shut?".Teesta Seetalvad was as irritating as ever. I do believe that the lady is extremely capable; also that she has such an abundance of facts and with her sheer capability to remind/reiterate facts, she has a scope to present a very strong argument supporting her claims. I fail to comprehend why she almost always throws it all away by yapping incessantly and incoherently. As expected, the discussion always remained on the fringes and paid less than lip service to the actual issue in question. Everything, from the 1984 Sikh riots to the Babri Masjid demolition was discussed at the top of the participants' vocal chord capacities. Spokespersons of large political parties serve the purpose of marking their presence on such shows and providing fodder to other participants to chew on. Prakash Javdekar did just that. His inconsequential fulminations did their bit in disorienting the discussion every time the host tried to bring it on track. All in all, there wasn't even the slightest semblance of a unanimity or an agreement between our 'politicos'

A rare moment of unanimity between all the panelists was brought forth by an utterly irresponsible and completely despicable comment by senior journalist Harinder kaur. With uncharacteristic nonchalance, she exclaimed "Considering the kind of treatment Muslims are being meted out in this country, If I were a Muslim, I would be tempted to pick up a gun". Other panelists were quick to jump in and condemn the comment. Ma'am, you are a respected journo. People like me, look up to you to form opinions and to get a different perspective on various matters.A callous approach from your side on such a majorly sensitive issue was truly unwarranted and highly condemnable.

Big Fizzle
There is this new show "Ek khilaadi, Ek Haseena" whose pilot was aired over this weekend. A 'suspense' has been built up for the past many weeks as to what exactly they would make our cricketers do. Unlike my peers, my primary purpose of seeing this show was not Sushmita Sen. She was a bonus as far as I am concerned. My childhood hero 'Wasim Bhai' was going to be seen in a new role here and I was not going to miss it at any cost. I have grown up seeing the great fast bowler transform from a tearaway to a crafty all-rounder. The way he managed his hectic cricket life in spite of being a chronic diabetic is truly a source of inspiration.

Coming to the topic, : Kunal Ganjawala crooned to kick off this show.

"EK khilaadi, Ek haseena,
Thodi si partiiee, Thoda paseena"

Why in heaven/hell does everything have to rhyme? And with the amount of sense that the current introductory 'poetry' makes, it would not have been a bad idea to list out all the 'eena' words and choose the worst one.

My suggestions : Kameena, eena, meena, deena (no wait !, thats deeka), Kareena, Arena (it is spelt as areena) and many more ( I have lost the motivation to list any more)

Moving on; the show boasted of some current and some past cricketers and Nikhil Chopra. Vinod Kambli used to be a great batsman, till the fetish for ear-rings and inexplicably weird hair-dos took over from his affinity for the cricket bat. He still associates himself with his Shardashram exploits with the 'little master' and also with his long forgotten blitzkriegs in Zimbabwe when he scored a double hundred. I am not being sarcastic when i say, I truly used to regard Kambli as a very good batsman, one who was better than Tendulkar in terms of technique,stroke-power and elegance. I do not regard him as anything today and i must sincerely admit that seeing Vinod Kambli do anything other than play cricket , least of all , seeing him dance is like having a boil in the armpit.

'A boil in the armpit situation' is a pretty horrible one to be in , for those souls who are blissfull unaware of this. You know it is there. You want to clasp your arm but it pains because it is right there. And you cannot ignore it as it would send that shooting pain everytime you try to divert your mind and ignore it.

In case of Mr. Kambli in this show, I knew he was there. I tried to divert my attention off him by changing the channel but my mum would not allow me to do so and would shriek at the top of her voice " Do i disturb you when you are watching those disgusting wrestlers wringing each other's necks? or when you watch those dull-drab Test Matches?" I can't do much, so I squirm around in my seat withstanding the irritation that the 'subject' brings about in my head. But i do argue with mum that WWE is not a disgusting sport. It is a like a movie. And trust me it is much better than your 'run of the mill' Karan Johar b*llsh*t. On every diatribe of hers' on WWE, I tell her "Watch it sometime. It is completely scripted. Noone gets hurt in it and they almost always depict someone as the 'bad guy' and some one else as the 'good guy' and also show you a complete bashing of the bad guy by the good one. In short WWE depicts the vistory of Good over Evil" And each time i say that, I stick a fork into my neck.

There was pretty much more in the show that I would have been expected to cover in my account. Just that all this talk about an insipid dance show (Another one among seventy three others) is putting me to sleep.

I take leave from you at this point on this post with the hope that I can come with something more worthwhile in my next post.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wise Man Speaketh! (Hindsight Commencement -GK)

Below is a condensed extract of a hindsight sommencement speech by GK (Guy Kawasaki). (For a detailed account of the speech click here)

10. Live off your parents as long as possible.
9. Pursue joy, not happiness.
8. Challenge the known and embrace the unknown.
7. Learn to speak a foreign language, play a musical instrument, and play non-contact sports.
6. Continue to learn.
5. Learn to like yourself or change yourself until you can like yourself.
4. Don't get married too soon.
3. Play to win and win to play.
2. Obey the absolutes.
1. Enjoy your family and friends before they are gone.

It somehow has a 'feel good' halo around it. 

Views : Then and Now


W. H. Davies


WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Sourced from English Verses


see the image below :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Link : Ori Brafman (post)

Nice Post by Ori Brafman (Author of Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior)

To view the post - click here

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Viewing the future, from the past!

"13000+ points isn't a small figure, kid" Rao Uncle exclaimed. Rao uncle is one of those vibrant middle aged men who take enormous interest in dispersing 'gyaan' to 'spring chicken' like me. He voluntarily retired (VRS) as the Deputy General Manager of the Union Bank of India and is currently working as a freelance consultant with some portfolio management firm in Hiranandani Gardens in Powai (Mumbai).

In his usual cheerful mood, he went on, "True, the sensex has spiralled down by 7000 points in the last ten months. When it was climbing up like a dream, I kept wondering - Whatever happened to gravity. During our time, the Sensex was somewhere around 3000 points." I expressed a sense of excitement at that statement. Rao uncle is one of those people who would say 'A dollar in a fund is worth two in a hand'. I started imagining the amount of cash he must have raked in, by now, with his age-old investments.

"You have such a lot of media-help to tell you where to invest, how much to invest, when to invest. The Dot Com boom has given you so many venues to weigh your investment decisions (he was referring to MoneyControl i presume). There are tons of TV channels covering the recent developments in the economy 24x7. We had just DDI and DDII during our time. We were totally dependent on the ET and our broker friends on the market floor to gain information about stocks," he said.

Meanwhile, even as uncle got busy buying his bus-ticket, i got a call from home. Mum usually likes to break out the 'Breaking News' to me. This time was no different and she came up with this mind boggling piece of 'khabar'. Anil Ambani had reportedly sued Mukesh for defamation; The amount, a whopping 10,000 Crores INR. I mentioned this piece of news to uncle. I believe he has been following the Reliance growth story right from the revered Dhirubhai's days and so he had a look of absolute disgust on his face. "Dhirubhai ka naam kharaab kar diya hai dono ne," he mumbled. "Ten years ago, this very Anil Ambani was working so close in collaboration with Mukesh. Dhirubhai was ailing but was very much alive and guiding these two in every decision of theirs. 2002 saw the demise of a great man and look at what these two have done to his name today. Shameful!", he exclaimed.

I had not started reading my daily ET yet. I usually follow a decorum and never insensitively interject when a wise man is sharing experiences. So, as uncle got ready to alight from the bus, i took out my daily copy of ET (dt 24th September 2008).

It felt somewhat different when i opened it first. There were no interesting graphics on the front page and the headline read Sensex falls to 2832 points. That really got me interested as to what exactly was the matter with the paper. I went on to read further and it said Mobile Incoming calls, now free. I was literally smiling as i read this. It had dawned upon me that these were pieces of information from about a decade ago.

Rahul Joshi (exec editor of the ET), like Rao uncle, had turned the clock about a decade back in history. The front page articles of the then ET were extremely refreshing to say the least. India has truly come a long way from what it was about ten years ago.The present seemed somewhat rosy when I contemplated on the past after reading those information-bits. I just wished i could see 'Tomorrow's present' as well because,we are the ones shaping it by our today's actions.

All this set my neural circuitry in operation. It would really have been great if i could have viewed the future. At this point I just want to be as optimistic and hope that the Indian Economy would be booming to such a major extent that it would enable me to tell the kids of the future, how much their nation's horizons have expanded. Technology, the enabler, will have developed so much as to bring channels like CNBC TV-18 to people's mobile handsets. I envision a fully educated, thoroughly empowered and a well informed India pondering over its investment decisions and opportunities. I truly hope that one day the ET would come up with headlines such as 'Global Warming has completely been stemmed ; Our future is secure' and that I would be able to tell a young reader of this headline -- "Yes, my generation contributed towards the success of this phenomenon"

Well, if my wishes were horses, I would have seen a windfall at Races.

Poet Tree (A farewell ode)

With sincere wishes and a heavy heart,
As we stand here and watch you move apart,

While the mind says "we shall meet one day",
The heart says "please dont go away".

Your space might get filled, your place shall not,
We shall miss your guidance; your advice; your thought,

The torch shall change hands pretty soon,
The bearer might change but the goal shall not.

Because today we have a promise to make,
So today, an oath, we all shall take,

That we shall keep the flame aglow.
As long as we can, after you go.
As long as we can after you go.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The IT perspective

Indian IT has been abuzz with speculations about its future businesses. A large chunk of IT firms in India are directly or indirectly dependent on the fortunes of the BFSI sector. The past couple of weeks have seen a turtling or a major loss of business/goodwill of a number of major players in the BFSI sector leading top IT experts to sound alarm bells.This was a major cause of concern for India Inc since the Indian IT/ITES sector employs a huge chunk of the nation's population and large scale lay-offs in this sector would have led to a creation of an undesirably large demand for jobs.

Goldman and Morgan have undergone a metamorphosis into Retail banks as per a decision formally announced yesterday. A causal effect of this shall be an increased Fed control over both the iBanks and the resultant array of regulations imposed on them.This news is bound to bring some solace to Indian IT because more regulations would mean an RMC (Rationalization/Modification/Closure) of the existing software backends of Morgan and Goldman and this work shall inevitably be offshored to its existing SI/SSP vendors.

Most of the existing gaps have been filled. BOA acquired Merryl lynch about a month ago.Barclays took over North American Operations of Lehman last week. Nomura Holdings ( A japanese firm) has announced a take-over of Lehman's A-Pac operations. Royal Bank of Scotland is vying for Lehman back-office employees in India. JP Morgan , too is in the fray to divert some of Lehman's man-power by organizing recruitment drives. Account Managers/CFOs at major IT firms have been spending a lot of sleepless nights, mulling over the ways in which they are going to balance their annual statements in case of a huge loss of business/revenue. Thankfully, the consolidation in the financial sector has averted such a debacle over the short term.

Partha Iyengar, Head of Research Operations - Gartner(India), also, has expressed an optimism about a turn-around of the current slowdown by the end of FY 09.

Circa 2001-2002 saw the IT bubble burst in a major way thereby rendering the Indian IT sector virtually crippled.There is little doubt that Indian IT firms, with their relentless efforts at providing satisfactory services to their business clients, have garnered an enormous amount of Goodwill in their Balance Sheets since then. In spite of being a purely intangible asset, the credibility that Indian IT has earned over the years, will probably keep the sector in good stead and take it through this turmoil.


Facts Sourced from Economic Times

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Whats in a name anyway?

No, i will not start this post with the trite 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet' . My intention through this post is to highlight the absolute incorrigible demeanour of my peers and (Sheepishly)mine.

If you happened to read my earlier posts, you must be well aware of JK. Yes, I am referring to Jagapathi Kondragunta , my famous friend who also happens to be a quiz and a talk show host. Somehow i too suffer from this name-condensation fixation as do innumrable others around me. PradeepKumar Prajapati, for me, is 'Pappu'. The person in question happens to be an enterprising guy in my team at work. Trust me, it does get extremely embarrassing at times for both of us when , during important presentations,I inadvertently or out of force of habit blurt out "Ey pappu, woh projector theek kar na".

People around usually employ a standard algorithm to slaughter the names of their near and dear ones. They just crop the name to its nearest identifiable form and attach a 'u' ,an 'a' or a 'y' to personalize it. This phenomenon is not deficient of any exceptions though. A Sandeep being baptized to a 'Sandy' is not unusual but why people would call 'Shobha' as 'Shobhu' is beyond my comprehension.

The very few bengali friends that i have are constantly irritated by the names that their folks or extended families address them with. Debobrata Mukherjee is a beautiful name. Legend goes that when Deb was born, pandits from all over the land were called for. Probable vowels and consonants in 'Bangla' were listed. A considerable amount of deliberation was put in just to establish that the name would not prove inauspicious for the child. I am told that Deb's aunt had come up with the name 'Mrinmoy' (anything made out of mud). Though it was unique, it was rejected outright (because of its meaning , i assume). You must be wondering why i am delving into this level of detail about someone you don't even know. Here comes the mind boggling piece of information - Debabrata is 'lovingly' called boltu by his parents.Just for the record, Deb's younger brother, Nilotpal is referred to, as laltu
.I can almost see the perplexed smile on your face; I am as clueless as you are.

Throughout my college life, I alongwith a number of my close friends were addressed by our last-names. I am sure you would agree that this is pretty normal. The consequence was that a few of my friends did not know my first name till the third year of engineering. There are times when many of my pals have sported a puzzled look when someone asked them about 'Nikhil'. I too, have been on the wrong side of this phenomenon. On one occasion, I had invited a certain friend of mine to my residence. You cannot imagine the pickle i found myself in when I had to introduce this guy to my parents (It is not good decorum to introduce someone only by his first name)." Dad, Ma, This is ... err... ahem... ".... "Hi Aunty, I am Vivek.", he jumps in and helps himself, much to my relief.

Paucity of bandwidth and motivation,alike, have always popped up and prevented me from rambling on about something. This happens to be a case on the same lines, wherein i have to be content with the justice i have done to this topic and allow JK to take over and distribute some of his pearls of wisdom.

JK.. err... Jagapathi Kondragunta tells me that i have been a fool to choose this topic to ruminate. He has now, thrown an open challenge to me, in that, he wants me to use his full name every time i refer to him in my posts. I humbly decline to accept this challenge of his saying "Well, JK , I would rather prefer to be incorrigible. Whats in a name anyway?"

Link : Sunday HT (Karan Thapar)

Late Night Phone Calls
A very well described account of Karan Thapar's various somnolent-state exploits. I found the article to be humourous till it ended on a very touching note. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brave death, Sham Coverage...

At martyr inspector M.C Sharma's funeral, we were witness to a couple of truly poignant scenes when the the flower decked body of this brave officer received a gun salute by a Delhi police contingent. Family and friends bid a tearful farewell to this slain inspector. It was truly touching to see a distraught son unable to perform last-rites on his father. 

Had the media resorted to a sensible coverage of the event, we surely would not have been left with a sour taste in our mouths, as is the case now. The utterly irresponsible coverage by the television media and the visible indifference of the 'dignitaries-at-the-occassion'  really left a lot to de desired.

Firstly, i was amazed at the scale of the coverage. My mind kept questioning me as to where these politicians were when six valiant policemen had died in an attempt to foil the Parliament Attack bid. Six families had to sacrifice their sons for one Afzal Guru. I can distinctly remember that the processes that followed a conferment of 'gold medals' to the slain officers were considerably low-key. I request you not to misconstrue my intentions here, for, I do not wish to drag the deceased officer (Mr. Sharma) into this discussion and attempt to besmirch his name. 

Many 'dignitaries' from both the houses of parliament happened to 'grace' the occassion. It was a disturbing sight to see Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi and Ms. Sheila Dikshit smiling and chatting away with no visible respect or consideration for the sombreness of the situation. The respected leader of the Opposition, Mr L.K.Advani did not let go of even this chance to take a dig at the union government. 

I quote:
"How long will this process of allowing our brave soldiers and security men to die at the hands of the dastardly assassins, these terrorists continue? Is there going to be an end to this or not? I believe that unless there is a fundamental change in the attitude and approach of those in authority, the political leadership, this is not going to end." 

Well Advaniji, this was neither the right time nor the right place...

The Media would not be left far behind in this mockery. As scribes scurried to the martyr's distressed parents, I could not help but wonder 'Will the family get no private moment amidst all this turmoil'? The journos badgered the unfortunate parents with highly insipid questions like "Aapko kya lagta hai? Kya humien unko muh tod jawaab dena chahiye?" (Do you feel we should give the terrorists a befitting reply? ). Sharma's father had problems of his own. When posed with that aforesaid inconsequential query, he started off with his own pension related woes. He was smoothly whisked away by some people and media also did not wish to 'interrogate' him any further. Media persons are clinically rude sometimes i must say, for they want to cover only those people who are ready to give them desirable snippets.

Though Mr. Sharma is supposed to have been a highly decorated officer in the DPS ranks, his family is (very evidently) rooted in typical middle class values. He, being the sole earning member of this family, it was pretty natural for his mother to start thinking of how the future shall take its course. What was not natural was the media-probing on this aspect. The crippled mother went on to publicly express her anguish and anxiety ,reflecting strong cynicism about the future in the process. As the cameras panned across the people surrounding her, it was all the more disturbing to see a couple of females grinning at her utterances.

This is definitely not the first time when the media and the politicians have made a solemn occassion look like such a sham. For a long time now, people from all walks of life, eminent speakers and leaders have urged the media to act in a responsible manner. All of us want the media to refrain from reducing people and their emotions to mere reality bytes. All of us want the politicians to feel truly empathetic for people like M.C Sharma; after all it is solely because of officers like him that they are able to talk numbers and take credit in those 'post-successful-operation' press conferences. O Mantriji, a funeral pyre is not a parliament session where you have to mark your presence to achieve the minimum quorum. Try and feel the pinch. Pray, do not be there to just make your presence felt.

Notwithstanding Innumerable such instances and scathing criticism, the 'tamasha' still continues. And it promises to continue unless our news-channels and 'mantris' miraculously manufacture some conscience and sensibility in their already-stoned medulla oblongatas.

Link : Blogworld Expo (GK)

Blogworld Expo 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Found a very interesting observation by Sudeshna Sen in the ET today. This actually sums up the last weekend in an excellent manner.
Lives lost at one end of the world; livelihoods lost at another.
As she aptly puts it, the bad news has kept lining up and observations of the experts around the world suggest that there is'nt a silver lining in sight. Sterns became history last year. The U.S govt was quick in lending it a financial bailout (liquid cash to enable Stern to pep up its assets to match its liabilities). This gesture was somehow absent this time around and Lehman had to face the ignominy of filing for bankruptcy protection.

One thing I fail to comprehend is : How did the creme de la creme of the best business schools in the world fail to anticipate a capsizing of their boats? The entire success or failure of any firm cannot be attributed entirely to it's CEO, I agree. However i would like to assume a behavior of insolence here and ask Mr. Richard Fuld : "When economists and industry analysts all over the world were of the opinion that you should have sold out when your share price reached less than $25 per share, what is it that kept you from taking that route?"

You can safely assume that when a minion like myself has the gumption to question Mr. Fuld, it is natural for the self proclaimed business experts all over the world to vie for his head.

I am basing this article on whatever i know or have read about the debacle. In the last decade, Lehman assumed its role in the financial markets as a financial advisory firm and an underwriter.To mitigate risks, all the major underwriters started to form larger syndicates. As the number of stakeholders of that 'commission' pie increased, the profits out of the exercise were bound to decrease. Now, Lehman, along with other IBanks, saw a way to increase its' net operating profits by a diversification methodology. The firm started putting its capital on the line and juggling with private equity and fixed income securities. Incidentally , a number of bonds and fixed/floating securities they bought were pertaining to the real-estate in the U.S. The sub-prime mortgage crisis that rocked the U.S in the same period, caused securities associated with real-estate and mortgage loans to be considered as high risk with passing time. Another gargantuan investment banking firm Bear Sterns saw it's downfall as a result of this crisis. When a firm (Lehman) continues to deal in high risk securities and in the process, puts its retained earnings and stockholder's equity (indirectly) on the line, it is bound to infuse a sense of insecurity in its investors. This, coupled with a number of its acquired assets being declared 'unfit for liquidation' ,is what took Lehman down.

So why didn't Lehman sell out to BOA or Barclays when there was a definite downtrend in its' EPS? Well, I feel, this is the point where a criticism of Mr. Fuld would be well justified. No person at the helm of affairs wants to have a black mark of succumbing to a hostile takeover in his portfolio and Mr. fuld here, might not be an exception. Instead of selling Lehman's assets off to a competitive bidder/competitor, I am sure he must have tried to revive the sinking fortunes of his firm. The adage 'a drowning man catched a straw' would have manifested itself in all of the Lehman management's actions. Courtesy freelance writers in ET, i am aware of two alternatives that Mr. Fuld had looked at, when he saw his firm turning turtle. As reports go, there was a definite attempt to convince Warren Buffet of Lehman's rising fortunes and get him to invest about $5 billion and acquire 33% stock of Lehman. Allegedly, this happened close on the heels of the Bear Stern debacle. In a letter to the iconic investor, Richard Fuld had claimed that there was a proven redirection of Bear's business towards Lehman. Alongwith his exemplary acumen in financial investments , Warren Buffet is famously quoted for his prognostications about how Derivatives are factors that would lead to a financial apocalypse one day. I am sincerely not trying to establish a causal relation between these views of Buffet and his alleged refusal to accept Richard Fuld's offer. I am plainly hypothecating. Unconfirmed reports are that Lehman had also approached Barclays for an LBO (leveraged buy-out) transaction (Barclays buying out Lehman). The offer does not seem to have evinced any interest in the aforesaid prospective buyer.

Post Lehman's 'cave-in', the financial crisis is said to have deepened so greatly that there are sure signs that giants of the IB market such as JP Morgan, UBS (among a few) will be brought to their knees. Expert observations state that many European firms who had exposure to Lehman's finances are in dire straits and there is a lot of more bad news waiting in the offing. Incidentally, India has only $81m exposed to Lehman and as a result, it is not going to be affected to that great a deal. Amazing!, isnt it? that situations sometimes force us commoners to attach an 'only' to a sum to the tune of 100 million dollars.

This might be a very good time for India. It gives us a chance to project ourselves as a stable investment field. In the past two days, FII outflows have reached a total of $2.2 billion and if this is not stemmed soon, the rupee might depreciate to new lows.Steps are being taken by the FM to build some confidence among foreign investors but i guess this would have to be coupled with a concentrated effort to garner more FII inflows into the country. This can be done by appropriately projecting and aggressively marketing ourselves as a stable investment destination.

At this point one really cannot anticipate what the future will look like. Fusion and fission of entities is definitely on the cards. Pay packets that allow you to accumulate as much that you can buy 20 Ipod shuffles in a month might be on their way out. There are sectors that have been less affected or indirectly affected ; there is none that has been left untouched. Increasing the supply of cash might temporarily soothe the situation but it surely will not fix the situation completely. Fusion of entities is bound to trigger a mass resource-cutting by firms with a view to reduce their operating expenses and SG&A. With more and more candidates specializing in varied aspects, the high demand-low supply relationship in the Job market shall in all probability create a condition wherein even deserving/ capable candidates shall not be paid 'the moon'.

Jagapathi Kondragunta, the host of a popular quiz show tells me, " This is your final question for a million dollars?"

"Do you think everything will be back to square one soon? Options are:
1. Yes
2. No
3. Maybe
4. Maybe not "

I reply "Well JK, this truly is a million dollar question. I'd like to quit the show because i really Can't say"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Solution? Where is it?

Shivraj Patil is no small fry in politics. He assumed the office of Minister of State for defence in Smt Indira Gandhi's cabinet in 1981-82, was the speaker of Lok Sabha and has won his seat in the Lok Sabha seven consecutive times.

Throughout his political career he stood by the Gandhi dynasty and today, he is considered an important cog of the Congress wheel. The way this septugenarian carries himself really makes you wonder sometimes, how some people succeed in defying age.

Oh, one thing i forgot to mention above is that Mr. Patil is also our current Home Minister. Pardon me for this gaffe, for, it is not my fault that i am still unable to picture this man as our Home Minister. I echo the sentiments of innumerable Indians who also would have viewed the despicable blasts that shook New Delhi (Proper) last week.

Delhi burned, delhi'waasis' wailed, security personnel worked for more than 36 hours on the trot to ensure that the remainder of the Nation's capital was free of any more hazard. Amidst all this, our suave septugenarian 'Mantriji' , in his usual stylish demeanour came out in front of the cameras. Anxious eyes were set on him; not expecting some a'la Winston Churchill words of inspiration that would prep the affected people in Delhi and the demoralized citizens in rest of India but hoping that he would utter something befitting of the Union Home Minister. Belying all expectations, our Minister came up with nothing that would infuse any confidence in the nation's administration.

I feel our news channels have definitely gone way overboard in criticizing the poor chap for 'changing his attire' each time he addressed the media and also for his apparent attention to 'matching clothes and shoes' when the nation was reeling under the inflictions imposed by the terrorists. I do not care whether Shivraj Patil takes time out to choose his shoes from his 'tax-payer' sponsored wardrobe to look presentable when he opens his mouth in front of the shutterbugs. It hardly affects me if he expends his 'valuable' bandwidth in carefully dyeing, gelling and coiffuring his hair before he addresses the people who brought him to Rajya Sabha. Age adds a number of priorities to every aging person's ever increasing priotity-list and so we need to show some restraint and maturity here in acknowledging the same phenomenon in Mr Patil's case.

What does affect me very greatly about this issue is the utter nonchalance with which it was handled. I re-iterate : Sir, we do not expect any a'la Winston Churchill inspirational quotations from you but pray, do not come up with such mind numbingly obvious statements like "the terrorists shall receive stringent punishment as per the law".

Your statement, in addition to dissapointing millions within the country has also raised a huge inconsequential debate. And this debate has again dragged many of our camera friendly politicians into the news rooms of the leading television channels in the country. We do not want to hear about what the then Congress government had done to stem the Sikh riots. We, the citizens of this country are fed up of hearing what mistakes each of the political parties did during their tenure at the helm. We just want to know what initiatives are going to be taken to ensure our safety. Whether these initiatives are going to be taken by the incumbent government in isolation or by taking the opposition in confidence/in conjunction with them, it does not matter to us.

I can go on with this 'Morcha' of mine but these are sensible arguments and I find that i am arguing with a bunch of idiots who are more occupied in tearing each others' hair than reach a common ground and do something to nip the problem of terrorism. Ultimately I too, like all other citizens of this country, am compelled to throw the towel and accept their arguments and flow on as a blind witness to their ever increasing internal bickerings.

Cant do much as they say, "You can't argue with idiots. They bring you down to their level and then defeat you at it. They have the wealth of experience, you see"

Link : Dominos
Profound thought : If you throw peanuts, only monkeys will come! ( This is not an Ancient Chinese Proverb).
Don't wonder. The link and this text are totally unrelated. Why do all dots have to be connected?

Credit to MV.

Meri Junk

PepsiCo Foods, has come up with two new flavors of KurKure. In keeping with tradition, i tasted both, this afternoon and i am feeling cheated to say the least.

Kurkure 'Desi Beats' : An inexplicable name and hackeneyed packaging does no good for the brand or bring it to consumers' notice. After Bingo created "Horrible confusion, with great combinations" among Kurkure loyalists, Pepsico has had to see a slump in business. Going MAD and creating ANGLES was the last thing they should have done. Where is the differentiator? When will the creators wake up from their perennial slumber and revamp the whole product? Either i am oversimplifying the whole issue or missing something fundamental here. From the time of its introduction, Bingo has literally gobbled up the junkie market and I have not sighted any constructive creative and mitigative initiative from Pepsico at all.

I still am a hardcore Kurkure loyalist. Reduction of the size of the wafer sticks, Juhi Chawla being chosen as the brand ambassador, Pepsi-Co foods creative ad-team going into a hibernation ; Yes, i have seen it all. Yet, somewhere at the corner of my teeny weeny cerebral region, i still feel that PepsiCo foods will rise above floating insipid offers or distributing free ringtones and get down to serious business.

In today's age of cut-throat competition and rapidly changing business scenarios, it aint logical or feasible to give your consumers a free 'Santoor Sandal Soap' with a wafer packet or try and entice them by pasting their gleeful photographs on your wafer packets. Things just got a lot more serious guys. It aint
Masti anymore.

To say the least, i just hope that i would soon get to 'chakh' new
flavors rather than the same tried and tested 'shapes'.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dhanyavaad, MSEB

Its been about 3 months since Maharashtra has been reeling under severe power shortage. I, along with several other mumbaikars have been on the “affected list” due to the frequent power-cuts.

People of this country have been known to express their views rather freely on issues that affect them(read vandalism and hooliganism , select occasions , of course). This case was no exception. It did not take much time for the “mumbling and grumbling about the problem “ among the people to metamorphose into a much stronger form of protest that would start from signature campaigns and evolve into “banner protests” against the apathy of the government.

I have always been a rebel in thought and action. Again, in this case I beg to differ from the sea of people in Mumbai.The power cuts have been a blessing in disguise ( for me at least).This I would like to explain by first givin you guys a little background of how things have progressed, in my life.

I first got a computer ( a home –pc ) when I passed out of 12th and it has been a long standing addiction ever since. My parents were of the opinion that a professional course (I am talking abt engineering here,,laugh ur ass off guys!!) would demand the need for a computer at home. Its been four years now and the computer has been more of a distraction than of much help!

Most importantly, it has successfully alienated me from reading books. The last time I read a book was the Google Story ( I admit, thts extremely poor frequency at reading!).I know I am striking a chord among many people reading this when I say , it does not need to be anything worthwhile on the computer to keep you hooked on to it for hours on end.

Precisely , why I say , the power cuts have been a blessing, they have compelled me to revert to cultivating that reading habit I had lost eons ago. Many of you may argue that reading an e-book amounts to the same as reading a book ( I am talking abt the hard-copy here).Again, I beg to differ, an e-book gives you the “find” option , a super- handy tool if you wish to skim through. ( a book gives you the index , no doubt, but only the keywords are listed! , and pray tell me, which fiction novel provides you with an index?!!)

Most of you might subconsciously agree that a computer takes away too much of your productive time. The use that this time could have been put-to can be realized only when there is a power-cut.. Naaaaah! Don’t gimme that crap about exercising self control, we are teenagers( not officially any more, but at heart, yessir!!) not hermits.Control is something , that does not come to us naturally.

So when such an “not under our control” situation such as a power cut props up , we are driven to scout for newer vistas for spending time in some manner …I did it by reading. You might have engaged in something better and constructive , you might also have discovered something fruitful out of your endeavours..
Do try to analyse your realization and then do tell me if you happened to reach the same inference as I have ( through this article!)

Penchant for Parochialism

Again, a bit old ... :) (Kindly bear with me)

I am infamous for missing the office bus everyday while coming in the morning to office. My laziness, coupled with the disconcerting chilly mornings is instrumental in making me snuggle more in my blanket.

Today was not a run of the mill day though. Surprisingly, I was sprightly all morning and was even on time to board the ‘much missed’ office bus. But even then, I reached a good 25 minutes late to office.

The reason: Some acquaintance of my bus driver was involved in a scuffle at some point on the way. Evidently, the associative instincts of my driver guy got the better of his duty and he strode off; to make peace, I believe.

Here I was, amidst equally frustrated colleagues of mine who wanted to get to office soon to have their morning breakfast. A clarification here: work was not a concern on my colleagues’s minds. It’s just that the canteen gets horribly crowded a little while after 9 am. Hence the hurry.

There were a few champions of ‘an eye for an eye’ principle amidst us as well. One of them went on to remark “Arre, bhaiya hai kya?, tho chal jaake case lete hain saale ki”. Pardon me for mention of un-parliamentary language here, but this very statement forms the crux of what I want to throw light upon through this article.

The statement, very evidently, comes in the wake of the latest controversy that has created ripples in Mumbai.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena - a result of a single person’s seething discontent and his aspirations is yet again in the news for all the wrong reasons. Being a commoner, a layman citizen of this democracy, I am entitled to believe what I have seen on national television. And what I saw, and am sure most of you did too, was nothing short of appalling. Innocent taxi drivers , a pan-wallah and a hawker were bashed up plainly because they hailed from a region that has been the Thackerays’s bete noire for a long while now.

The controversy started when Mr. Raj Thackeray had not so pleasing words to say about the Chhat Pooja being performed on Juhu Beach last week. Mumbai celebrated Uttar Pradesh Divas around the same time. In absence of any kind of provocation by the community in question, such a statement by Mr. Thackeray was uncalled for; I feel. However, the remark was made and expectedly, there were reactions. But that was it. There was nothing more to this than a few potshots taken at each other by Laloo and Mr Thackeray.

A couple of days later, our own Marathi firebrand came up with another one of his digs, this time at Mr. Bacchan. I feel , the media had a huge role to play in majorly misinterpreting Mr. Thackeray’s statement and then creating a controversy out of it. The statement was twisted to the liking of favourable parties and we ended up thinking that Mr. Bacchan’s loyalty towards Maharashtra was questioned by the Sena strongman. The part of speech that we saw on national television, atleast, did not have any such implication. Whether the gist of the speech was any different we would never know because it was not on record.

However, if questions were raised about Mr. Bacchan’s loyalty and his inclination (or the lack of it) towards Maharashtra, I would like to ask a basic question to Mr. T. Why is it that noone has ever questioned someone like Lata Mangeshkar or Madhuri Dixit in this regard? Is it because they belong to this state and certain assumptions are made and certain leverages are given to them by default?. This brings me to only one inference that the bacchans, and the khans of the bolly world have ceased to be plain bunnies for politicians. And it is not a good trend. The people in question have constantly proved themselves as being excellent ambassadors of the nation and such capriciousness while judging their activities will only encourage them to become even more reticent than they already are towards the media and people in general.

There are two main points that I wish to argue upon through this medium. Why is it that Maharashtra ceases to be just Mumbai for our politicians?. It is an accepted fact that MNS does not hold strong ground in the elections that are coming up next year. So, if this is an attempt by Mr Thackeray to garner a strong marathi vote bank in Mumbai, he should not forget that there are several other regions In Maharashtra that would play a stronger role in propelling him to power.

I do not see a reason why the suicide of farmers in vidharbha, sangli should be a subject of the central government. I do not see a reason why fingers should be raised at Sharad pawar citing he has time for BCCI and not for Vidharbha(he, having the agri portfolio in the UPA gov).

I am not in politics and do not understand the machinations that people in the vidhan and the Rajya Sabha use, but my common sense tells me that the best way to garner votes and establish a presence would have been to empower these impoverished sections of the marathi society. Instead of pointing(if Mr. T really did do it) that bacchan does not do anything for Maharashtra, would’nt it have been better if Raj Thackeray had directly called upon all eminent personalities, all eminent non marathi personalities (if u will) to come ahead and pool in some amount to alleviate the condition of the poor relegated lot in the isolated corners of Maharashtra?.

To put the facts in place, in 2006, a set of farmers had commited suicide in Vidharbha region for want of 25000 rupees to repay their debt. Even a contribution of a crore from a single celebrity would have meant a reprieve to 400 such farmers. And this is the most basic calculation there is. Social responsibility of celebrities and monied class is mandatory but the mode of making them aware of the fact that they are lacking in fulfilling the same, should take place through suitable channels. This, definitely, was not the way.

Why vidharbha?, take for instance our own Mumbai. The city is ridden with all sorts of problems. The traffic snarls within the already polluted and congested city do not make matters easy for the residents. In such a case, was lata mangeshkar’s stiff opposition to the Peddar road flyover justified?. Cant our celebrities contribute a little of their mite in making Mumbaia better place?

Why only celebrities? Can’t all the residents of Maharashtra today including non maharashtrians contribute towards the betterment of the state?.We surely can and we definitely want to. My roots do not lie in this state but I surely have moulded myself to the ways of the state. However, I am sure if the situation worsens, I too will be discriminated against. So where exactly is the security in Maharashtra that we constantly harp about? What exactly is expected of us, non marathi manooses? It was mentioned that being in maharashtra we should behave like maharashtrians. Can someone please elaborate what this means?

It has also constantly been said that we take up jobs in mumbai that belong to Maharashtrians. I humbly disagree. There are enough and more extremely intelligent Maharashtrians who wander away to greener pastures outside the country. Figures suggest that there are huge numbers of Marathi Manoos in silicon valley. Can Mr Thackeray please elaborate why his own marathi manoos had to move out to silicon valley from Mumbai which has an array of jobs? Was it because the ‘Uttar Bhartiyas’ grabbed all of their jobs?. For all I know, the above question is rhetorical.

I can go on filling reams and reams of pages on this but I do not wish to do so, cos then I would be following on the lines of Mr. Thackeray. I sincerely do not wish to do so. All I want is to make Mr. Thackeray and all his supporters know for sure that Mumbai is as much my home as it is theirs. It is only a partnership among all of us that would hold the city in good stead amidst its already spiraling problems. A high level of capriciousness and malice on either side is going to help no-one

Namaste, Madam President!

Again, a pretty old article that i had penned...

Namaste, Madam President.

Notwithstanding all the mudslinging that the NDA indulged in over the past month, Madam Pratibha Patil managed to come out trumps this past week. India got its first woman ‘first citizen’ in 60 years.

The presidential race saw the entire Electoral College stoop down to the levels of a municipal election. Allegations of tokenism, venality, misappropriation flew fast and furious. After the storm has now taken refuge as simmering discontent in the minds of all NDA loyalists, one tends to ponder what the reciprocation of Mrs. Shekhawat (nee Patil) would be to all those people who left no stone unturned in besmirching her name.

Credit has to be given where it is due, and this case is no exception. The woman maintained a stoic silence during the entire campaign. The silence was interpreted as her inability to refute the charges leveled against her. I would see it as a case of ‘Let the dogs bark; my caravan shall go on’. The only thing that remains left to be seen is whether she behaves as a true blue states’woman’ when it comes to imparting a decision in favor of her detractors.

Its just a day past after Dr. APJ has bid adieu to Raisina Hill. It’s still too early in the day to go on and analyze all the statements of Madam Patil and pass judgments on her. Let us give her some time. After all, Dr. APJ also had his share of bloopers ; One of application of president’s rule in Bihar at the insistence of the UPA government.

But one thing is for sure. In Dr. APJ, we had a president who was approachable. A new age guru, who took the realm of presidency to a new level altogether. A true statesman, who did not budge while sitting at the feet of the entire media fraternity with his legs crossed while attending their queries and giving them pointers at the Ramnath Goenka memorial debate. In him, we had a figure like Nehru. In him, we had someone whom both the older generation and the younger generation could look up with reverence.

From all that we have seen of Madam Patil, she does not look one, who can replicate Dr Kalam’s charisma.

Time will tell.


This is an article I had penned quite a while back....

It’s a rat race out there, they said…there is cut throat competition out there, they said…

Cut throat competition, it isn’t anymore, it has transformed into a slit throat, burn vehicles and block national highways competition now. The current reservation policy of the UPA government does nothing but encourage these ‘rats’ to dig further and go deeper down the caste matrix in trying to reach stages from where it would be easy for them to demand privileges.

As a young Indian in 2007, I am appalled to see people thronging at NH1 to demand their status at the lower rungs of the so called ‘caste chain’. It would be very convenient for me to criticize those indulging in absolute vandalism in the name of reservations, but won’t delve into it. This problem cannot be laughed off derisively.

From what we have seen over the past three days in Rajasthan, this problem is frighteningly grave. We cannot push it under the carpet and continue to formulate plans on how to increase our per capita GDP. We have beaten this topic (reservations for the backward classes) to death. We have seen D. Raja battling it out on T.V channels, arguing for the application of Mandal II propositions. We have seen embittered, disillusioned, agitated students spit fire on national television against the very same propositions. But the topic has remained constricted to just inconsequential discussions. No concrete step has been taken in this direction till now and none is expected.

There is a subtle difference between being distinguished and being discriminated. By acceding to these people’s demands, we are not distinguishing them from others but are blatantly discriminating against them. There is a line in the movie Swades which goes “Jo kabhi nai jaati wahi hai Jaati”. Here, we have people, who want to be discriminated.

Isn’t it ironic that Amitabh Bacchan declares himself a farmer just so that he is allocated a certain number of acres of land? Doesn’t this stray case point to the blaring deficiencies in our system? Let us get the point straight, backward classes do need reservation, economically backward classes do.

Reservations and cushions for the economically backward classes are mandatory. Let there be a reservation for deserving students like Prince Thomas. This boy scored 91% in this tenth boards and ended his life because he thought his family will not be able to support his academic pursuits. Let there be a reservation policy in India that prevents such heart rending cases from propping up. Let there be reservations based on economic conditions rather than caste.

Today, when I see the Gurjars fighting for their ‘rights’, so to say, it leaves me with nothing but disgust at the state of affairs in our country. A condition, where everyone is ready to give a tooth and nail, ready to torch vehicles, maul people, disrupt peace just to get that ‘cushion’. What they forget is the fact that, you can’t work with a ‘cushion’ (I refer to a pillow here); you can only sleep with it. I realize this is a very crude statement to put forth but spare a thought for the implicit implication here.

I rest my case.