Sunday, May 31, 2009

Simple things...

It’s amazing how simple things mean so much more than elaborate arrangements. This, I write as I watch the clip of the “Saturnalia Miracle” over and over again (the iTunes count says 21) – reminiscing how, over the past one year, have I found joys in the most simple and unnoticed of gestures. A plain old simple hug means so much that it can surpass the combined value of all those baskets of goodies. A plain simple word would of goodwill, of love would mean so much more!!! The more I watch “The Big Bang Theory”, the more I feel, I’ve so much in common with Sheldon. I’ve always pondered over what to gift my friends on special occasions and often can’t come up with anything... How sheepishly I ponder over what gift is worthy of the feeling that I actually want to display. I never even know what to write on a greeting card – once I start writing, the words never stop coming – I could well write novels on that greeting card when all I wanted to say was “sorry” or a simple “thank you”.
P.S.: The best dialogue of this episode (or in fact many many others)
Penny: He came into the restaurant. Sorry the napkin’s dirty; he wiped his mouth with it
Sheldon: I possess the DNA of Leonard Nimoy
Penny: Ya, Ya, I guess. But look he’s signed it.
Sheldon: Do you realise what this means? All I need is a healthy ovum and I can grow my own Leonard Nimoy.
[I mean, WOW... Where does someone get an idea that geeky!!!]
Penny: Ok. All I’m giving you is the napkin, Sheldon

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

99% Success is a Failure Grade

Or so, it was said of surgery and military. Very soon it'll be true of education too!!!

Just today I was seeing a news piece - 90% in CBSE is considered average!!! When I cleared CBSE X (2002), 90% was considered very good. This time, students of my alma mater, 15 students got >90% (out of 30 odd students). Goes to show that to match the standards of state boards, CBSE standards have fell!!!

So what students now have is less syllabus but they still don't learn or understand anything. Its just become easier for them to cram up - there's less syllabus. Basics, well the "Question Banks" are the basic. I know of students who hadn't even read the prescribed Text-books but managed 95%. Few years back the government proclaimed that the text-books would include more basic stuff (when the actual motive was undoing what the previous government had changed in the text-books). The argument that going back to basic in education will help falls flat in an atmosphere where understanding matters far less than the score achieved (which btw, doesn't require understanding because of the question banks and the "sample papers" released by the board). Did the easing of syllabus lead to the child being more active in other fields? NO. Did it aid anyone? NO.

CBSE started off with a good initiative of declaring the grade and not rank. I feel that should be extended to doing away with scores at all. When 90% = 95% (I really feel it is), the kid will probably try to understand more because he anyways can't get better than an A+. If not that, at least he'll spend his time not cramming up question banks but for some other interest or hobby.

High time students, parents and the boards realised that the grades and marks are all but one and must I say, unimportant part of the education the child receives. More important is what he learnt from it. Anyone can identify pictures of different strokes in swimming and score a cent percent but when at sea, the only stroke that'll work is what can make you survive till help is at hand.

Monday, May 25, 2009

French Open: Rafael Nadal in PINK

That he is no less male was demonstrated through his shots and the ultimate scoreboard (7-5, 6-4, 6-3) in the opening round against Brazilian Marcos Daniel but still PINK!!! And it was no manly pink... It was no Mauve or anything but PINK... He may call it "Light Rose" or whatever... but as Phoebe puts it many times in her typical tone "po-tay-to po-tah-to", its PINK after all...

Now if Federer can't make his trademark shots and ends up losing to Nadal, he can surely make an excuse of courtesy or even better, distraction!! We can bid goodbye to the trademark bright green - hope it is not the case with the brilliant tennis he plays along with it.

Yup, the pic on the right is his colour this French Open...


P.S.: The latest score - Federer Lost his serve in the opening game and trails 0-2.... OK no, not to Nadal :)

The heat was definitely ON...

“The heat was definitely ON...” -- President of South Africa on the IPL.

And once again Lalit Modi shows that he is indeed the best thing that happened to Indian Cricket since Jagmohan Dalmiya’s commercialisation. When the country refused to provide the IPL the security that it needed and requested, an ad hoc plan to shift the whole tournament to South Africa was required and within days,, he shifted the whole event to the rainbow nation. In his own words, “To relocate an event of this magnitude to another continent in less than four weeks is simply mind-boggling.”

I was glad I was in Bombay for my internship, thus allowing me to watch the matches on television each night – also once on the big screen at Juhu Mocha! Saddened though I was on seeing tears on the ever-so-bubbly dimpled face of the pretty Preity, I couldn’t wonder at how the South African nation stands to benefit from the IPL. Four weeks ago, as they wondered if they were ready to host the biggest event in their short history – the FIFA World Cup 2010, Lalit Modi provided them with the best dress-rehearsal there could be. With exactly 50 weeks before the first match is played, South Africa can sure claim to be the right place for the FIFA World CUP.

And not just that, the economic benefits far outweighed the troubles this huge logistical nightmare brought to South Africa. 35 days of cricket – around 30-40 staff for each team, reporters, sponsors, crickets officials, the media, the organisers and the fans – all in all we sure are looking at five-star bookings tops 10k hotel days. Add to that the travel that these people had to do – the airline tickets itself would be huge economic boost to the nation. Add to that the tourism benefits – the safari packages, the SOTC tours et al. Even the simplistic of things like the roaming charges on cellphone!!! The President put the economic activity at 1 billion rand!!!

Lest I forget, let me also mention the indirect economic activity this would bring to the nation – the goodwill that it will generate internationally. The IPL has put a cross-mark on the international event-managers’ radars. And now the South Africans can sure brag of hosting huge international events and surge on their preparations for the Confederations Cup – 2009 and the most watched television extravaganza – the FIFA World CUP beginning on June 11th, 2010.

All in all – the grandest party of the year for the South Africans will bring in more than just the fun and excitement it promised...

Now waiting for FIFA 2010...


P.S: What filled my heart with pride and gave me goosebumps – The closing ceremony – the beautiful instrumental played – guess the tune – vaishnav jan... Gandhi will never be forgotten in this foreign land even if he is ridiculed in his own nation...

P.S2: If you missed the closing ceremony, you surely should see the re-telecast. Though I din't understand the local songs (obviously, or may be they were English but I din't listen), the lights, colours and fire made it worth every second. Sydney 2000 wasn't as good!!!

P.S3: If you are wondering what the "army man" sung before the beautiful fireworks display - click here. It is a beautiful song by Eddy Grant.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

#1: Did u know...

I thot the Sri Lankan cricketers had longish names - wait till u see this...
Who is the IPL cricketer with the initials LRPLT?
Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor, RCB (New Zealand)

P.S.: Looking for other long names: Click Here

Saturday, May 23, 2009

BJP: Gear up for 2019

The verdict is out – it is a mandate for the Congress led UPA government. PM Dr. Singh becomes the second PM after Pandit Nehru to return to office with a clear mandate. With the Left not shackling it and now DMK out too, the Congress cannot blame anyone but itself if it fails to deliver what the alliance promises to – progress. Mind you, I’m no Congressman, but when it comes to a stable dynastic government versus an unstable democratic government, I’d rather prefer a dynastic government. I do agree Advaniji would be a strong PM but with allies like Mayawati and Jayalalitha to keep the alliance under a continuous threat of collapse over trivial issues like the Left did to the UPA, I'd rather have Sonia-Rahul dictate terms to a "weak" Manmohan Singh.

And in what may seem quite contrary to my views earlier, I kinda liked the “non-congress’ised Rahul Gandhi. While Sonia may have become the AICC and the UPA chief due to the dynasty, Rahul wants to establish himself through the route an “aam aadmi” would take – the route of toil and hard work. That, even the staunchest of opponents will observe, he does. His "Discover of India" tour was well publicised though did not really yield instant results for the Congress. When Rahul Gandhi came to the scene initially, he was being looked upon as the bearer of bad luck. Whichever state he went to, the Congress lost it. And not all was because of the opposition’s good performance. Few statements made by Rahul Gandhi were rebuked by the BJP and few of them simply showed Congress in bad light. But at least he was true to himself and the country - he was a "naive" politician!!! One thing that he did well for the congress was to recruit the youth to the congress. Byre Gowda contested against the might of Ananth Kumar in Bangalore. That in itself shows the strength the youth Congress has accumulated. And clearly, a lot of credit should go to Rahul. But now that he has been "Congress"ised, will he remain that focussed on actually achieving improvement and development – both for the Congress and the country – is a question that time will answer. For now, looks like, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

In a situation where the DMK even quit the government because the low performing ministers were not acceptable to the PM, Rahul declined to take up any portfolio – not that he would surely do a good job – that does speak volumes about the PM-in-Waiting. As the infighting in the BJP ranks erupts, even threatening to burn up the party’s loyal base of the RSS and the VHP ranks, here’s just a suggestion for them – look for an heir who will lead you in 2019. 2014 will surely be the congress sweep in the Parliament – Rahul surely will not lose his first election as the PM-to-be and I sure believe he'll be ready for the top job by then (Though few experts do feel Rahul wouldn't do good by being so and I agree that very well can be the case)


Friday, May 22, 2009

The Autowala Wisdom

Do you think the intelligent people come out of the best B-Schools in the country? Well, intelligent they may be but they all they can be attributed to are the recessions and the crashes – what comes out of the hawker and the autowala is wisdom that works!!!

I was travelling from Andheri to Bandra in a rickshaw. I saw a congress board thanking the loyal Bombay junta for their votes. The autowala remarked uninstigated– "पहले election पे इतना पैसा waste किया – अब thank you बोलने पे करेगा यह politician लोग." That was the conversation I was looking for – and it started. From how the politicians “work” to how it affects the “Aam Aadmi”. We talked on similar things and I din’t know I had reached Linking Road.

Wait for it...

Yes, it was then that the autowala delivered a timeless piece of wisdom – “साहिब जानते हैं, काम तो सभी एक ही करते हैं. Congress हो या शिव सेना, बारिश के मौसम में flood रुकने वाला नहीं है. But कोई भी government हो बड़ी margin से जीतनी चाहिए. हमको तो बस stable लंबा government मांगता है.”

I was like, “Wow, how would a stable government affect this petty driver?”

He continued, “अब यह देखो, मैं चार भाई लोग है. दो Congress के साथ है. एक भाई और उसकी बीवी शिव सेना के साथ है. election जो भी जीते पैसा तो मिलता ही है अपने को. जितना बड़ा margin, उतना बड़ा पैसा. और जब government रहेगा तो भी पैसा आता रहेगा. अब जो भी जीते, पैसा तो अपने फॅमिली को मिलता है।”

Now that is a very intelligent Driver!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why Doesn't India Vote?

(TIME Cover: March the 2nd, 1992)

Consider this:
The voter of West Bengal voted for the Congress thinking they were sick of the Left and could, in no way, stand a Left Rule at the centre. But after the elections, the Left is back in power. Similar situation exists in Kerala too.

The voter of Bihar votes for the good governance of Nitish and against Laloo. Elections gone and Laloo is back in power. After all, the Fourth Front gives the UPA the all important 30 seats at the centre.

The voter of AP din’t like the rule of the BJP+ and votes his ally out of power – the ally fights without the BJP – the voter is happy – the ally goes back to BJP – and if it was not bad enough, both are back in power. Wow!!!

The voter of Rampur is essentially wasting time – whoever wins, the government remains the same. The situation in the whole of UP is the same – the voter doesn’t know who and why did he vote for.

Do the political parties have a few ideological allies and foes - they don't even have an ideology. What do we vote for? They ask the voter to be informed - the manifestos of the BJP and the Congress are mere mutations of the same thought. Who do you vote for? The manifestos exist but the practice and implementation, that doesn't even exist on paper. Then they crib over people not voting and worse still, talk of making voting mandatory.

I wish to vote but haven't been able to because of many reasons - and I'm not the only one at fault - you can't blame me for not having a Voter ID if it takes more time for a voter ID to get prepared than my stay at the place.. {It took the administration more than a year to register me for a vote - by then it was time for me to move to a new location} Actually now that I think of it, even if I could, would I? Till the time that accountability and stability is made an important part of the Indian Democratic system, I don't really know if my vote actually makes a difference. For all I know, it might lead to the worsening of the nation due to a post-poll alliance that I hadn't thought of.

To quote advani:"Manmohan Singh holds office but has no authority, while the person who wields the authority has no accountability." I ask Advaniji, if he is unable to get the black money from the Swiss Banks within the promised 100 days, will he resign and ask Rahul Gandhi to implement his 100-day plan? If he states on record and follows this, I promise never to vote for anyone but the BJP. Till then, whenever I get my vote registered and, I shall vote. कर्मन्येवाधिकार्स्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।

Friday, May 8, 2009

India Voted for....

Now that the elections are over and the whole nation waits for the results, lets work out scenarios and see what will become of India post-elections...

If Congress comes to power:

  • Bofors scam pushed under carpet for yet another five years, Quattrochi made honorary member of Rajya Sabha through a special ordinance and then honorary defense advisor
  • Few more Indira XXXX Yojana and Jawaharlal Nehru YYYY Programme
  • Setting up of n new IITs and n/2 new IIMs where N = number of states where congress is in power ==> If he is an IITian, so am I... so am I... and so am I...
If BJP comes to power:
  • No more “Sonia Ji” speeches from Modi
  • Khakhi shorts declared the uniform of all national government machineries
  • Nationalisation of education and educational institutes
    • New Masters Courses in Palmistry, Tarot Reading, Parrot training

If Left comes to power:
  • IPO of CITU – sure to be oversubscribed 70 times on Sensex (reliance power was 69 times)
  • Reinvestment in all sick private units functioning at below 40% utilization to create more jobs and more unions – after all private companies are way under-populated
If Mayawati becomes PM:
  • 2% Reservation for all “upper castes”
  • Fake caste certificates legalised. Rates nationalised at 10% declared annual income

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reflections - Part III (Term 3 @ XL)

Dear Blog,
Click to read Term 1 and Term 2

The third term, the end of the first year, the term where you suddenly realised you are alone in the college without the seniors to guide you at every step, where realise you will soon stop being a student and start being a manager, was, for me, a mixture of both achievements and failures, promises kept and vows broken.

The travel did not, at all, augur well for a good third term at XL... it was hectic from the start and running train experience was indeed a new one – though I must say, exhilarating one too.

If I thought, the term was more eventful at the beginning compared to the last term, the near-end events were beyond the usual definition of “eventful”. XLRI sure was a happening place!!!

It started with a lot of firsts for me – the first dance class, the first CV point, the first bunk and proxy and a few more... The first dance lesson (I guess it was Salsa) was something I would remember for more reasons than one. Then started the chain of events that reminded me of the classic line by William Davies’,

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs...

Starting with the formation of Team Services – the vow taken to repay in kind all the help that we extracted out of the seniors – the vow taken not to rest till each one of them was placed – the vow taken to not complain of missed classes for something more important than any grade was at stake. And successful the vow was.

Simultaneous was the formation of the Maxi Admin Team for the Maxi Fair – by far the grandest event in XL in terms of student participation. Meetings through the night and door-to-door selling through the day. The whole junior batch prepared for keeping up a 30-yr old tradition of excellence. And successful the effort was.

No, it did not go by without a sad thought – I missed my first graduation ceremony– for the fiercest rivalry known to B-Schools in the India – the legendary XL-IIMC meet. I so wanted to be there but there were responsibilities – not just of the meet but also the vows taken. Forever shall I remain “unconvocated”.

The Valentine’s Day passed without a thought about it – it was the day of reckoning – it was Day ZERO. The scene wasn’t too good but did we say we were giving up!!! The fight would go on – right up to the last man standing. We were battling the worst nightmare of a B-Schooler – the worst crisis of the century – on and on it went – for a good long 74 days - and we would be victorious.

Unfortunately the battle was not the lone battle I was involved in – the academic battle was far from over!!! By no means was this an easy term. There was the “Research” and the “Operation” though hardly any “Production” – even Strategic reproduction was hampered due to the slower net speeds and the other battlefront engaged in a full scale war!!! As usual, before I knew what hit me, the End-Terms were overhead. Thanks to my group-mates, many of my projects were completed in time and that left me with the only worry of eliminating the ghosts of the exams – which I must say has never been my forte.

Learnings from the past term:

  1. The grass is greener on the other side but what is the other side!!!
  2. Naive ain’t useless – it is the only thing that works. Any other forecast will turn out to be too complicated for the uncomplicated market.
  3. If you can’t explain it, match it to some unknown factor. If you can’t match it, redefine it – all economic theories are based on this simple funda.
  4. What do managers do – Strategise – aka hold long closed door meetings – to decide crucial issues like whether the grass looks better dark green or light.
  5. What worked in 1950 works now!!! You can’t work it out??? Well.... you dint study in class 6th and 7th, why sob now...
  6. If you can’t do it, ask your virtual self to do it...
  7. And once again, never the least of all, friends are your biggest assets. Once a while they may promise you a toy and forget, once a while they may make you feel small enough to drown in little drops of water but more often than not, they will be the balancing figure to match-up your balance-sheets. No inequation with friends can be solved as their shadow price is simply infinity. Their importance is a exponentially increasing curve with alpha>1... To all ye friends...