Friday, April 30, 2010

Inner Voice - Realise your mistakes

Inner Voice - Realise your mistakes

As human beings, we are all fallible. Mistakes if not corrected at a proper time, can be fatal.

Parents have a responsibil- ity to make their children realise their mistakes, not in an offensive more...

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Silent Cry

An old poem, written in 2003, picked up from my old "dusty" emails.....

She came into my life,
Like a dawn through the night.
The world all shone so bright.
Nothing mattered, but she and me.
A few joys, a few tears….
We had to share.

My heart jumped….
When I thought….
We’ll walk the trodden path….
Hand in hand.

‘I’ve someone waiting’ she said.
My achy heart trembled, skipped a beat
I gulped a tear and bid adieu.
The silent cry went unheard.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Mirage of Love?

Through the sands of time,
Lonesome and weary,
The heart wanders…

The sun takes its toll…
Hungry, thirsty and tired,
The quest goes on…

Gusty winds take their toll.
Mighty dunes lie ahead,
But the elusive oasis beckons.

“There lies the oasis.”
The lonesome heart pounds fast,
Gets that will to go on.

But the mind wonders…
“Is it for real or is just another ….
Mirage of Love?”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses, And all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!

The ongoing IPL controversy and the way Lalit Modi's backers are abandoning him makes way for only one thing - his likely ouster from the IPL.
Undoubtedly, he has made IPL a success out of nothing. A killer cocktail of sport, drama, money, entertainment and glamour has been concocted.
But this success went straight to his head perhaps? It seems to have lifted Lalit Modi into the stratosphere, on a pedestal where he thought he was invincible.
That very stratospheric feeling, the heady feeling of meteoric rise can be one's undoing.
That's why the Humpty Dumpty's of the world have a great fall, from respect and grace, Lalit Modi included, well, perhaps.....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What comes first? Development or Peace....

Today I had interesting debate with a dear friend and colleague at lunch.

We talked about all kinds of stuff - the Shashi Tharoor - IPL soap opera, the Maoist insurgency and how the IPL controversy had suddenly riveted the country's eyes to it, taking our attention off the bigger picture which threatens the Indian way of life, the Maoist problem.

My friend said that she agreed that the root cause of the Maoist issue lay in the lack of development and all the problems the tribals face. Get development done and the Maoist problem will be solved.

That to me, is a fanciful idea, which is what I told her.

How do get development done in the Maoist areas, when the administration has collapsed, doctors are shot, bridges blown up, schools are demolished?

It's ironic and rather strange that the very people who stand for rights of people in the Maoist infested areas, and for their development, ignore these very facts that prevent development from happening.

Now what comes first - development or crushing the Maoist menace?

The Indian state cannot focus on development if security remains a big issue, if all the social and physical infrastructure built is blown up every day.

The might of our state, of our values as a country have been challenged by Maoists. It's high time we took up the challenge. The might of the Indian state's machinery has to be focused on eliminating the highly indoctrinated Maoists, for they are biggest challenge to development - there can NO development without peace. There are no two ways about it.

Once eliminating, the might of the state has to be and should be used for development, no doubt about that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cakes, Flowers and the Bucket List!!!!

30 something years on this planet - No, I am not disclosing my age here...!!!!

As is customary, as the clock struck 12AM, the door-bell rang. And wow, bouquets and yummy sinful cakes from home, wishing me a wonderful year ahead, followed by a big hug from Neeti.

What followed was a flurry of calls from parents and close relatives! All this with a huge slice of the cake, hot tea and undivided attention and pampering from Neeti!

I never thought of bunking office in the morning (as some people had suggested) - the first day of the new year had to begin with work, setting the tempo for the year ahead.

The best gift I got that day was absolutely no traffic on the way to office. What a pleasure it was!

I have always endeavoured to keep my celebrations intensely private and restricted to the family. But this it was different. The birthday list on the office intranet had my name - something that I had consciously avoided till now, but missed out on doing it this time.

A flurry of calls and emails wishing me undoubtedly put me on a high. It felt nice. To top it all, my team ordered a cake for me in the evening and we had a small celebration in the workspace.

It was a very warm feeling, just like home.

Returning back home, I was looking forward to a quiet evening at home watching a DVD with Neeti. As I was snaking my way through the crazy Bombay traffic, I was in deep thought, reflecting on where I came from and where I am headed now.

Being 30-something is somewhat of a weird feeling - want to feel young but have to be prepared for the years ahead - the dreaded mid-life - wouldn't be pessimistic to call it a crisis.

There is so much to do in this world, so much to see, so much to experience.

The world is so beautiful, so vast, so diverse that I barely know about it all.

Yet I don't have the all the resources to do it all. Money, time, etc. etc.

I was thinking - Will I be able to tick off all the points in my bucket list before I go?

But then there was also this enticing, tempting thought in my mind that made me salivate - there's that yummy gooey chocolately truffle cake in the refrigerator.

What followed was a hot cup of tea with a second big cake slice and a quiet warm dinner with my better half, Neeti.... while keeping the keeping the hopes alive for doing what I want to do!!!

Shashi Tharoor - A Victim of the Crab Mentality?

A sad, sad day for the New Age India.
Mr. Tharoor has finally quit.
Did he do anything wrong? Perhaps yes.
Was this the way to handle him? No.
Perhaps his flamboyance did him in. Perhaps he was too amateurish in handling it all, i.e. the political system. Perhaps he was too threatening to "seasoned" politicians.
Tharoor tried to make his entry to club of old bum-chums, i.e. the the Congress party and the Cabinet. But any such club has the natural instinct to deny entry, drub aside any newcomer. Perhaps the membership criteria for this club is genes and the lineage or ability to kiss a lot of ass. Tharoor did not fit in at all and therefore had to go.
Perhaps, he simply put in a word to push the Kochi team. Perhaps, he never did it with the intent of making money on the sly in this scandal. Perhaps, he just negotiated on behalf of his girlfriend to get the best deal for her. Perhaps he was set up? Perhaps....
Shashi Tharoor did not deserve this. There are more corrupt people in the system who deserve harsher punishments than Shashi Tharoor but they were perhaps the ones who judged him.
That's highly ironic about the Indian system.
Years ago I heard a joke about the so called Indian crab mentality which goes somewhat like this:

In a huge dockyard, there were containers of each country in the world lying there full of live crabs. The containers of each country were covered from the top except that of one country - India. The container of India containing crabs was uncovered from the top.
This perplexed a visitor who asked the dockyard owner why only the Indian container was left open from the top and that of every other country was closed from the top. The dockyard owner replied "Its simple. If we left the containers of other countries open, all the crabs would climb to the top and walk out. However with the Indian crabs it is never so as every time an Indian crab tries to climb up the container, another crab pulls it down and therefore none of the Indian crabs is able to leave the container!!!!!!!!!!!"

Was Shashi Tharoor a victim of the so called "Crab Mentality"?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Indian Foreign Policy - The Grand Slumber....

It took us 4 years and a 26/11 to realise that Mr. Shivraj Patil was napping in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Now the Ministry of External Affairs seems to be in a grander slumber.

India's foreign policy seems to be spiralling out of control.

It is not disputed that India does not have a great neighbourhood - we have the likes of China and Pakistan to contend with. We have not been able to send a muscular message across to them not to mess around.

Relations with America are in a state of grand disarray. Does anyone in the ministry know where Obama stands on the operationalisation of the nuclear deal or on firming up a military and strategic alliance?

Instead we find Obama sewing up a rat-tag alliance with Pakistan and perhaps, the Taliban.

And to top it all, Hillary Clinton vents out her ire on India possessing nuclear capabilities.

Where was Mr. S.M. Krishna when all this was happening?

The ministry has also been lacking in sending a strong signal to Australia where Indians have been at the receiving end for quite some time now. Why couldn't he summon the Australian High Commissioner and lodge a strong protest. That could have been the least he could have done.

And then he should have coached the rookie, Shashi Tharoor, as his deputy. Undoubtedly, Mr. Tharoor's years of experience at the United Nations could have come in handy for us, as a growing superpower. But he chose the other way.....

To me, S.M. Krishna is as ineffective as Shivraj Patil was and it's high time he be rehabilitated elsewhere, for he's been a family loyalist for long.

Obama - India's Worst Nightmare.....

I have never been a fan of Obama.

In the past, I had expressed my apprehensions about Obama's policies in the sub-continent and more particularly towards India.

For me, Obama was like Old Wine in a New Bottle.

Undoubtedly so.

Pakistan was the hotbed of the ideology that gave birth to the 9/11 tragedy, and still is for God knows what next. That is perhaps why the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called Pakistan a global migraine.

Pakistan is like the school kid, a bully, who wields a stick and behaves in the most churlish, silly and unbecoming manner, harassing other diligent kids.

And Obama is like the teacher who is absolutely unable to contain the kid. He lives in the hope that rewarding the rotten kid would lead to and encourage better behaviour.

How naive can Obama get?

He is also getting ready to reward Pakistan with F-16s and God knows what. On one hand Obama claims to be custodian of democracy, but invites General Kayani for a strategic dialogue to Pakistan. Is that the right signal to send?

And then America blows hot and cold on taking relations with India to the next level.

Obama has to realise that no matter what he does for Pakistan, it will be an exercise in futility. Obama's own officials feel that Pakistan does not view America favourably.

On the other hand India and America, in general, share the same values on the world, economy and democracy. That is something that America will not appreciate till it is hit by next spectacular attack emanating from the jehadi madrassas of Pakistan.

Till then, Obama will be India's Worst Nightmare..... and we will miss Dubya.....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rest in Peace - CKP!

While we all were salivating over the sleazy news coming in from the Indian Premier League, the sad demise of C.K. Prahlad, the Guru, who all management strategy aficionados swear by, received very little attention.

My first introduction to C.K. Prahlad's intense work happened at my B-School, Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon over 11 years back.

The strategy folder and handouts were a treat for me and what made it even more interesting were the way my professors, Sumit Mustafi and Ajit Prasad, drilled down the concepts of the likes of Porter, C.K. Prahlad, Tarun Khanna, Arie de Geus, Tarun Khanna, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Kenichi Ohmae, etc. etc.

And the lesson on C.K. Prahlad's concept of the core-competence stood among the dozens of lectures and class discussions we had on strategy. So while, we all thought Sony's core-competence was electronics, we soon learnt and experienced, from an amazing single page case-study that core-competence is more than what it seems.

Sony's core-competence is indeed miniaturization of electronic circuitry, which helped them deliver killer products to the market, like the Walkman, digicams, etc.

This concept sparked off my love affair with strategy in general and Prahlad's concepts in particular.

When it dawned on me that I was graduating soon, I started making dashes to the library, hunting out the all so sexy HBR articles on strategy, cutting discounted deals with xerox operator to get their copies done.

And then out in the mad-mad corporate world, I thrived on and devoured Prahlad's writings, which by then were diligently filed in hard cardboard files.

As time went by, and work pressures and commitments increased, the reading part did take a backseat. CNBC's series on management excellence helped me keep in touch.

In 2005, I got a glimpse of Prahlad when he visited ICICI Bank's office in Bombay - he was heading straight up to KV Kamath's office in the famed, exclusive bubble lift. That was the closest I got to him.
Soon the bottom of the pyramid happened. The concept was lapped by likes of ICICI Bank and Hindustan Unilever. ICICI Bank started its rural thrust, Hindustan Unilever tried to keep afloat - all apparently guided by the master strategist.

And recently when Bharti-Airtel acquired Zain Group's African telecom operations, the first thought that crossed my mind was - Yes, Prahlad's concept is at work at again - a cool marriage of core-competence with the bottom of the pyramid.

Little did I realise that Prahlad was about to go soon.

But his concepts will remain immortal, will stand the test of time, for centuries to come.

Rest in Peace - CKP!

Sania - Shoaib -- Alliance or Dalliance?

I heard a joke this week about the Shoaib - Sania alliance.
It went this way - the Indian Premier League rejected 11 Pakistanis, but Sania Mirza rejected 500 million Indian males.
Funny indeed.
Going beyond jokes, I feel this is a rather odd alliance.
Sania could have gone places had she not stepped into a medieval society like that of Pakistan. Wonder what the clergy would say about her volleying around in her short skirts. Or wouldn't the Taliban hound her.
Neo-liberalists may hate to say it, but Pakistan is indeed an enemy state. The Government has indicated that time and again. Indians feel that way, especially after each attack. Doesn't Sania feel that way?
Perhaps for her the realities are yet to sink in. As of now, everything is so rosy that she's blinded by it.
Only time will tell whether this is an alliance or a dalliance.

L'Enfant Terribles Tweet to Their Exit?

Big business, politicians, sportstars and pretty girls - a perfect recipe for a big racy scandal?
That's what the third edition of the Indian Premier League is proving to be.
Abraham Lincoln had said "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power."
Lalit Modi spun a grand business model around cricket and all its associated sexiness. He seemed invincible. He was the absolute boss at the Indian Premier League.
And then with all the power he amassed he thought he could dictate the sovereign. He demanded the he be made the Honorary Consul for Iceland. He demanded that Shashi Tharoor deny an Indian visa to Gabriella Demetriades, a South African model.
Why? Was Lalit Modi scared of Gabriella for some reason? He also has much explaining to do on why and how were the franchises selected.
Lalit Modi seemed to think that he and the Indian Premier League had become bigger than the Indian state?
Certainly, Lalit Modi has not passed Abraham Lincoln's test of character. And therefore, he does not deserve to lead the Indian Premier League.
And coming to L'Enfant Terrible of Indian politics, Mr. Tharoor. I personally expected much more from him, given his articulateness, suave background and years of experience at the United Nations. In fact in my blog "The Dream Cabinet"of May 17, 2009, I visualised him as India's External Affairs Minister, pushing the case for India's ascent to the Security Council as a permanent member.

I was wrong.

Sadly, Mr. Tharoor has not been known for his work in the ministry. We have heard of him more for his tweets. And now for his infamous tweet war with Lalit Modi. Mr. Tharoor also needs to explain how as a public figure could he help the Kochi franchisee and Sunanda Pushkar.

I suspect Mr. Tharoor is paying heavily for naïveté - he's more like a new school boy trying to learn the tricks but being bullied by the oldies. All along there have been strong rumours of his rift with SM Krishna.

It's high time both Lalit Modi and Mr. Shashi Tharoor resigned, or rather tweeted out to their exits.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull - Disrupting the Interconnected World

On April 15, 2010, a volcano under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland erupted. Strong winds pushed the ash cloud towards mainland Europe. Immediately thereafter, the European airspace was closed to prevent a mid-air mishap.
I was reminded of an article I read in the Reader's Digest almost 20 years back about a KLM flight over Alaska flew straight into a cloud of volcanic ash. The ash blacked out the cockpit windows and forced a shutdown of the four massive engines.
The plane had to flown as a glider for quite a distance till it glided out of the cloud. The pilots managed to restart the engines and landed safely in Anchorage.
I immediately checked out Wikipedia about the incident and found a page dedicated to the KLM Flight 867 incident.
On that page, I found a reference to another similar incident, the Speedbird 9 incident involving a British Airways flight flight from Heathrow to Auckland, with stops in Bombay, Madras, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, and Melbourne.
This flight also ran into a volcanic ash cloud over Indonesian airspace and had an emergency landing at Jakarta.
Luckily both incidents passed by without any fatalities. The experience of the pilots and sheer luck came in handy.
But things can go wrong.
It was indeed a very good decision to shutdown the European airspace to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents.
But undoubtedly this would burn a hole in the finances of airlines. British Airways would become Bloody Awful again and closer home, God knows what would happen to Jet Airways which has over 60% of its revenues from international routes.
What amazes me is that such an incident still has the incredible potential to disrupt the increasingly interlinked world.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A sad day for Poland

When I logged on to the internet early today, the New York Times site had a flashing news on the crash of the Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M carrying the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski.
Even more shocking was that quite a good number of the country's top leaders and bureaucrats died in the crash, creating a vacuum of sorts.
Saddening indeed.
What was ironic was that the Tupolev crashed at Smolensk, the site of the Soviet massacre of 20,000 Polish soldiers in the World War II, nearly 70 years ago. President Kaczynski and his team was on his way to pay homage to the Polish soldiers.
But the Polish leadership met its end there.
As news trickled in through the day, it came to light that the air traffic control at Smolensk told the commander of the Tupolev not to land in view of the fog, and instead advised him to proceed to Minsk or Moscow.
The commander made two unsuccessful attempts to land, but the third attempt proved fateful. Obviously, he was confident that he would make it.
But how powerless humans are when they attempt to go against the might of nature.....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Alexander the Great - The Three Last Wishes......

On my commute to office today, I had 107.1 FM Rainbow on in my car and the RJ was playing wonderful 80s' music, with lovely anecdotes as fillers.
And then she narrated an interesting tale on Alexander the Great's three last wishes.
As Alexander the Great lay on his death bed in Babylon after conquering half the known earth of his times, he summoned his top generals and spelt out his final wishes, that they would need to fulfill.
He said that his first wish was that his body be carried by his physicians for his burial. The second wish was that all the gold, silver, and treasures from my treasure-house be scattered along the path to to his grave. The third wish was that he be buried with his hands outstretched and out of his coffin.
The generals who truly admired him and loved him as a great leader were dumbfounded and in tears.
One general mustered all his courage and said that they would indeed fulfill is wishes but wanted to know why Alexander wanted it that way.
The mighty Alexander replied that he wanted everyone to understand the three lessons he had learned in his lifetime.
He went to say "To let my physician carry my coffin alone is to let people realize that a physician cannot really cure people’s illness. And they are powerless when they face death. So I hope people will learn to make most of their lives."
"My second wish is to tell people not to be like me in pursuing wealth. I spent my whole life pursuing wealth, but I was wasting my time most of the time."
"My third wish to let people understand that I came to this world in empty hands and I will leave this world with empty hands.”
Soon after he said all this, he closed his eyes and died.
Alexander the Great learnt his lesson. Have we?

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Maoist Challenge - Are we a Banana Republic in the making?

I heard of the terrible massacre at Dantewada. 75 CRPF personnel have been butchered by the Maoists.
It's sad the way things have happened.
I am pretty sure, we'll soon have endless debates on televisions. Root-cause theorists would be shouting hoarse and pleading for the Maoists to be heard.
Yes, indeed, the root cause has to be looked into.
Why do the forces fail? Are the forces equipped? Why does our intelligence collapse everytime? What makes the government administration and infrastructure collapse?
These are the root causes of these fiascoes.
Come to think of it - all this happens in the richest parts of India. There is so much mineral wealth in those regions. So much agricultural potential.
But the potential has been barely exploited. Why?
I know of several critical infrastructure projects going slow there just because the Maoists want money.

Doesn't that explain why these areas are the most impoverished?

And they claim to stand for development, right?
The Maoists are challenging our democracy, the Indian way of life, the Indian freedom of expression and enterprise. But Mr. Shivraj Patil of UPA-I was caught napping.
The government now needs to crackdown on them with a heavy hand, whatever be the cost. The opposition should co-operate with Mr. Chidambaram in tackling this menace.
If don't act now, we'll end up like one of those Latin American Banana republics.
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