Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gender (IN)equality

They say “all HUMANS are equal, some are more equal than others”. Note the word humans, over men, which is normally the metaphor used for such sayings. To come to the point, I recall what happened in a bus a couple of days ago. We were all standing in the queue when the bus arrived. Just as people started getting in, a lady came in from nowhere, cut the queue, and entered the bus to a huge commotion and anger by others. She completely and conveniently ignored the whole thing, sat tight on her seat, and as is the case with everything else in this country, people gave a few angry stares, blabbered, but in the end, forgot everything and everyone lived happily ever after.
I do not want to comment too much on the controversial women reservation thing (across all walks of life), but here is the thing. Almost 60% of the seats are reserved for women in buses. The instructions clearly give women the right to their seats and men have to get up when they see a woman standing, and if he is blocking her seat. But where does it say that a lady is allowed to cut lines? Where is it mentioned that she can enter from the front door? Front doors are meant strictly for senior citizens and pregnant women.
I know I haven’t gotten to anything so far, and you will probably not read beyond this. But I have a few concerns on this thing. I totally support the concept of women’s reservation, because I think that is the biggest way to ensure their participation and convenience to them. No two ways about it. But then I have to ask a fundamental question here. How can we talk about women development and reservation in the same line? How can women ask men to “TREAT THEM EQUALLY” and at the same time ask for reservations? How can we as a society stress on the fact that women are doing equally well (which they are) and probably better than men are, but at the same time, continue to lay focus on reservations and make a bone out of it? Most women HEROES we know today- Saina Nehwal, Chanda Kochhar, Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, and almost every other, have come out of systems where reservations are not even applicable! This is pure merit ! Then how do we go about resolving this disparity? Why are we seeing most success stories in cases, where there are in fact, no reservations?

Please do not get me wrong. Am in no mood to rake this controversy further by denying or supporting it. I am just trying to look at something that we are fundamentally missing. I still haven’t got the answer yet. As far as I go, therefore, this question remains.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2010- the worst things for India in the year.

This is not a year ending blog. Am just writing this so I remember which were the events or things that messed up 2010 for India.
1) CWG- The players, the work staff and the Indian audience, gave their heart and soul for this. The players had only India’s pride in their mind, and winning, their only motto. And win they did!! The support staff had just one goal in their mind- to help the players achieve their goals. The Indian audience took these 2 to their heart, and enjoyed every moment. But what went wrong was the administration. The bad top guys and their corruption cost India 70,000 crores of rupees!! They completely rot these games, cost India big, and gave a big dent to brand India.

2) Adarsh- real estate and housing have always been at the centre of corruption and power. Adarsh, quite contrary to its name, is probably the biggest real estate related scam. Who knows how this will end, and who will LAND up where. But for now, this is a very big, very big blot on the business and commercial capital of India.

3) 2G- Not many will even understand what this is all about, barring what they have read in the media, and barring a few names. But it suffices to know that in money and impact terms, this is probably much much bigger than the previous two put together.

4) IPL: Yes, it is a big money scam. Ok, it has REVOLUTIONISED the concept of 20- 20, and even generally, cricket. It has given India, what it claims, a cricket version of EPL. But at the end , and probably at the centre of it all, is CORRUPTION.

5) CVC- Not a scam as much as a moral issue, but issue it sure is.

6) Inflation- naah, this one doesn’t help. This just doesn’t help. The problem may not be under control, but the steps to solutions are.

7) Big Boss- The WORST thing to happen to India, the television, and to its people. Period.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The side effects of addicition

The other day , I tried calling my mom. Tried the home number, she didn’t answer; tried her mobile and she didn’t answer. Tried the numbers again a couple of times but no response. Do not tell me this situation doesn’t kinda freak you out. Called my sis and she was in office so she didn’t know. Called our cook and she said she had left much earlier in the morning. I couldn’t do too much apart from wondering and waiting. Finally, mom called after a couple of hours, and it is anybody’s guess how that conversation went. She was finding it difficult to justify why she LEFT her mobile at home and went out. Hasn’t that happened to all of us many many times before?

See that’s the thing with mobiles. I mean , its kinda become an offence to forget your mobile if you own one. There is just this fundamental assumption that one WILL attend to calls if they have a mobile phone. But that is where the problem is. Such situations have happened even when mobiles weren’t around. And normally, I would have said to myself, “well, mom is out somewhere and so she is not attending landline call.”

Lets not even talk about the increase in number of accidents due to talking when driving! Yesterday, I saw a woman actually texting when she was driving!! I mean good ol woman, are you going to die if you do not send that SMS? But you certainly will die if you do indeed send that sms when driving!!

Kids these days prefer playing video games to actually physical games! They have started owning cell phones and laptops at such young ages, when we couldn’t even SPELL the word T-E-C-H-N-O-L-O-G-Y. Life’s become unlivable without a laptop or a computer. But these same tasks have been done very very well by our parents and elders with calculators, letters, landline phones, cars and so on! A freaky recent survey has suggested that the use of wi-fi actually harms our trees!!

People are F****ng their meaningful and quality conversations by being hooked on to their smart fones and other things, and friendships are increasingly becoming long distance. These are all side effects of technological ADDICTION.

True, technology brings far away based people closer, but it is also increasing the gap between those who live close to each other.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reverse Feedback...now that straightens it for managers

We all dig giving advice! We just love it. As they say in Hindi “Aur kuch free miley na miley, saali advice free zaroor milti hai”. Managers are paid to do this  But in corporate jargon, this ADVICE is called FEEDBACK, or less obviously, APPRAISAL. These are strong undercurrent words, trust me. Regardless of how great a relation you have with you manager, things are always accompanied with a constant undercurrent- a realization of the fact that you are, well, subordinate and manager.

Appraisals, however complicated, are simple. Both, the manager and the subordinate, know a set of parameters, or more fancily, goals and objectives, on which the subordinate will be evaluated. There is a discussion and it is basically a game. Both of them have their view points and try to enforce these on to the other. Someone either prevails, or there is an intermediate area that is found, which keeps both happy till the next appraisal. It’s quite simple actually.
Appraisal is good in a way. Salary invariably increases, promotions mostly happen, some constructive feedback happens, and in the end, all iz well. Otherwise, there is attrition 

Anyway, for all its merits (or compulsions), appraisals, or simply, feedback, generally lack one very basic but fundamental element of EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION. This element is the REVERSE FEEDBACK, a word often treated with undue disrespect. Appraisals are mostly one way. Reverse feedback gives a manager tremendous opportunity to REALLY gauge the gap between the expectations of his subordinates and what he actually delivers. This is really very important because a manager cannot be effective if this gap is not 0. A manager knows what to expect from his subordinates, by way of a checklist handed to him by his HR.

But a subordinate expects the world of his manager. He does not know what to expect since he has no checklist. A subordinate literally grows and develops under his manager’s guidance, and therefore, the manager has a very important role to play in how his subordinate’s career sets. A lot of times, due to the mistakes or shortcomings of the manager, his subordinate has to take the beating. And the manager’s manager will not completely know the details of what has REALLY transpired. His only way to know is through the manager, his own subordinate. Reverse feedback, therefore becomes very important. And while no manager will admit or like being feedbacked by his subordinate, it really is very important. I would also go to the extent of saying that the manager’s true management lessons have to come, not from the text book, but from the ground level- the way his subordinate thinks about him.

It’s simple- Reverse feedback is more important to a manager than feedback is important to his subordinate.

Doctors!!! Where are you sires??

A lot of buzz words are making news these days- Ganesha, CWG, anti-outsourcing, Dabangg, Salman Khan, Dengue, Malaria, munni, IE-9, KBC, KKK, Oracle-HP , Dell-HP etc etc. From page 1 to 15 of any newspaper, you invariably see various forms of only one of these buzzwords these days.

However, on one small corner of page 5 or 7 these days is a prominent piece of news- the issue of increasing the retirement ages of docs. Basically, for a long time, there has been pressure on authorities to increase the retirement ages of doctors. This has a two fold purpose- doctors can continue to guide upcoming doctors and young students by way of teaching and mentoring; and two, and more importantly, they can continue to fill up for the shortage of doctors that has been plaguing our country for decades.

Like any other such issue, this matter has been caught trapped in the typical proposal-evaluation-objections- delays loop that we have now come to know of. What happens to this issue, only time will tell. However, this does bring to mind a very important issue, due to which, page -5 for this coloumn ain’t sufficient. In our country, lakhs of students appear for Medical exams. At even a mere 10% rate, thousands graduate every year. Then why are we still SHORT of doctors?

In fact, we know of so many many many students who keep reappearing since they didn’t do too well in their previous exam. Medicine is a really tough and dedicated profession, and takes tremendous patience and hard work. From personal experience of close friends, I know this. But once you graduate and transition the initial struggle, you are ready! Medicine is a constantly learning profession, but the initial stage is the most important. Even then, with thousands becoming doctors every year, why this shortage?

One very common reason that most will cite is the population growth. The other reason that we often hear is the very commonly heard, brain drain. But that still leaves some questions to be answered. Shouldn’t the rate at which doctors grow mirror the population growth rate? I mean, it’s not as if new doctors REPLACE existing ones? So, shouldn’t the POOL of docs continue to grow? If we know that there is a shortage, why are more new doctors released into the system? This does not necessarily need to lower the bar in exams, but just modify the system so that more students graduate in.

The other question which very strongly needs an answer to is why does this brain drain continue to happen? Why is the best talent leaving the country? And probably, most importantly, we need to compare the BENFITS of retirement extension as an SOS tool with all of the options above. Increasing OPTIONAL retirement age should certainly be encouraged, but only because a doctor or a prof wants to contribute to the profession, not because we NEED him to.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Salute our SUPER COPS!! Do you?

This year, the Ganpati festival in Mumbai is different. No, I am not saying that it has suddenly become more GREEN, with realization of the environmental problems finally having dawned. I am also not saying the Ganpati festival this time was less intense or less expensive due to the recent recession. I don’t also want to suggest it was less noisy this year. It was the same huge, fun, noisy, awesome festival that it is every year. It indeed was the Ganpati of the ol, as we have come to know it for almost a century now.

Yet, there was something markedly different this time. And that was the discipline one could see in the way it was organized. The long queues were controlled well. The noise levels were kept in check. Wild celebrations seem well subdued this time. Security is super awesome everywhere. And yet, people are having the same amount of fun. Most importantly though, the traffic on the road has been well managed. Every year, it becomes a night mare to travel on the road, on the 2nd, 5th, 7th and 10th day of this festival due to the visarjan. But not this time.

I am writing this on the 6th day of the festival- the day of the Gauri-Ganpati visarjan. This is the 2nd most crowded day of this festival, and it is safe to say that all these years, it was a wise idea to stay home on this day. However, today, I went to my office as usual. My office is in Thane, which sees some very big Ganpati celebrations and visarjans today. I currently stay in Juhu, which is one of the 4 or 5 beaches in the whole of Mumbai where visarjans take place. On a normal, non-Ganpati day, it takes me about 1 hour 45 minutes to commute between Thane and Juhu, either ways. Today, I would have expected the same journey to go to about 3 hours each time, since both areas see huge huge crowds and traffic.

Surprisingly, it took me exactly 2 hours in the evening on my way back home- just 15 mins more than usual! No big traffic jams, no frustrated honking, all smooth..

All of this is due only to 1 entity—The cops and the traffic police…The way they have managed all of this is simply superb and cannot be appreciated enough….In the hindsight, they keep doing so much for us- manage traffic situations, deal with the bad guys, travel in the worst of places, face so many physical hardships..and yet, they get so little of what they actually deserve!!! This is not to even mention the kind of bad spotlight our cops get a lot of times..i mean, there are bad people in every sector damn it!!

I think it s just time we sit up and take notice,,,,rather, we stand up and salute them for their job…so the next time you are walking on the road, feeling safe, go up to the first cop you see and thank him…you owe it to him….I just did that today, and I feel tremendously happy..we all like our share of praises and thanks, don’t we? Then why not the cops? lets realize we need them more than they need us…

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Being 28....tas tricky

Every bday I grow a year older and I keep saying it : "Ok, this one is truely tricky!". I remember when I turned 25, I had just entered MBA, and in fact my bday fell in the first week of the course. Things hadnt really taken off and it was a huge party organised by the institue itself!! not for my bday, but a get together to break the ice between all of us..wot a beautiful coincidence :) a bday sponsored by the institute, so to say!! I turned 25, and my sis Neha said "boy, u r 25 today!! no longer a boy!".. hahah...i mean, 25 indeed was tricky...it is slightly a diferent zone from 24 and before :D

26th bday in 2008 went by pretty ok, i was still doing my MBA..but between that and the 27th bday last year, i must say that was emotionally the WORST and the heaviest time for me!! I didnt have a job for 6 months post MBA, I was quarelling with family, friends, and all these came with a lot of other personal and professional problems..Life was hell..Lets say I was GOING THROUGH a huge turmoil...

the year between the 27th and now the 28th bday, which is the last year- 2009..I had just begun a job, was settling in and life had just started moving back on track after such heavy years...I had started meeting with frnds, people, had started saving money and started gaining experience..lets just say I had started RECOVERING out of the previous problems...big, huge, cliche, but TRUE words..

Today, as I reflect, I guess life is much better..lots things have happened in the last 2 years, some fun, some miserable, but as they say-alls well that ends well...Today, I have a nice job in Mumbai, something that I have been longing for years...the house is being renovated, and hopefully, the past is really, well, past :)
Being 28 is really going to be tricky,,its LATE 20s and indeed some deal :) Here is cheers to the future, and prayers for a happier life :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The irony of the Indian middle class.

The last Sunday was a very rainy one and we decided that the best dinner, along with watching 3 Idiots on TV, would be Pav Bhaji. This decided, I went to the ShiV Sagar just below our building where I am currently residing. Around 9 PM in the evening, this is possibly as crowded a place as any other can get! Atleast 4 groups of people, about 15 of them were waiting ouside, and about 50 odd were inside, having a nice Sunday evening dinner with family and friends.

Lots of stuff was being served on every table. Starting with spring rolls, to dosas, to veg garlic to what not, dinner consisted of an equally big variety. Right from the regular chole bhature, to ofcourse, the favorite- Pav bhaji, right down to a pizza, food was being ordered and enjoyed. Now that’s a perfect end to a weekend, for a slightly upper middle class family aint it?

Come Monday morning and I had to travel all the way to Thane taking that damn dreaded train. The 1st class people offers only the luxury of about 10 people less as compared to the general class, in a normal population of about 200 people. The crowded train itself speaks a story- rather, it poses a question. These very same people, who were enjoying a lovely LUXURIOUS, PREMIUM dinner yesterday, who probably spent 500 bucks watching Inception as well over the weekend, what are they doing yelling, sweating, quarelling, irritating in a very very crowded, (filthy if I may call) train?

Come out of the station, and you see many of the same people waiting in long queues for the B.E.S.T bus! Its raining, they are wet (half due to the sweat and half due to the rains), their clothes are messed up, and they still wanna wait for the bus? Many of them also share rickshaws.

All in all, when it comes to transport and other daily MANDATORY activities, this same middle class Indian seems to be very very price sensitive. He is ready to be late, ready to be dirty, ready to wait on crowded trains. But this same Rs 50 K per month earning man is not ready to trade money for comfort. And yet, his weekend expense, borne out of STRICTLY OPTIONAL activities, almost always exceeds that of the entire week!

What is this irony about the Indian middle class? Is this man so tired of saving and fighting over the entire week that he indulges expensively over the weekend? Or is he a careless and over spender, but makes up for the guilt by cutting expenses over the week? I guess it would be difficult to really know why this irony exists, but exist it does.

Time for me to grab my dinner  I got to go early for work tomorrow. And oh yeah, I go to take the train 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The dying inspiration

Watched SRK’s final match speech in chak-de? Felt inspired and thought u’d take the world by fire too? Tom Hanks’ success story in Forrest Gump is a super duper indication of how success and peace are so easy and simple to get in life. Watching that makes you feel you could achieve those heights too right? Aamir Khan’s character in 3 idiots, his ideals just totally connect with you, and you get the feeling that it is so simple to be ideal in life, ain’t it? The revenge act in Rang De Basanti, Will Smith’s story in Pursuit of happiness, the president speech in Independence day, are all stuff that legendry INSPIRATIONS are made of. Ajay Devgan’s roles in Yuva and Rajneeti are, well, simply inspiring. They represent strength and leadership.

Sachin’s batting and sport are truly inspiring examples of how academic brilliance is not the only single requirement in life. Sheer determination, passion, and the will to win and nothing else, helped, ofcourse, by talent (which can be nurtured, by the way over time), only and only, are important in succeeding in life.

Each of these, and many other moments, stories and events make us feel HOT from within, isn’t it? You get firing on all cylinders when you are watching the scene. You feel if DJ from RDB can do so much, if Kabir Khan in chak de can make this huge comeback, I too can change the world. I too can go back, finish up all my work, and do something brilliant additionally. Big B’s performance in Black represents PERFECTION, that can be achieved.

We all have a rebel inside. We all have a hidden dream inside. We all want to do this ONE GREAT THING, that will make the world talk about and remember us. We all want to set examples, trends, and want to be able to answer the question our kid is going to ask us- “which is one that one great thing you have done in life? Apart from paying taxes, how have you contributed to your country?” We all think about it. We want to be in the news, on the news paper, receive awards and be spoken about. Everyone does that. Everyone thinks like that. There is no exception to it.

But what happens when we walk out of the cinema hall? What happens when you drive back home, tired, and in anticipation of the following Monday? You FORGET about all of this, isn’t it? The FIRE within, simply gets extinguished under the thousand pressures we already face. Life goes back to normal and that’s it. All the feeling, the determination, the craziness, the INSPIRATION, all of these, simply DIE their natural eventual death. And this is why we continue to be NORMAL. Never SUPER normal. We are all afraid, may be lazy, may be just INCAPABLE , to take that rebellious step. We are just, too NORMAL.

But that’s not all true. We are NOT incapable. Everyone is capable. Everyone is! There is nothing rocket science about any of this! All these are normal human beings that just too that one step and followed their heart! The mind is rational but the heart is correct! The heart is brave. All of these above people are examples of UNDYING INSPIRATION. Life gives everyone the opportunity, and more importantly, the ability to do something great in life for themselves. Just take that step boss!! Let this inspiration not die down this time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kahaa panchi ne ped se,,,,

Kahaa panchi ne ped se “ Tumne mujhe chhanv di, phal khilaaya”
Kahaa ped ne panchi se “Tumne apni baton se, sthirtaa mein bhi mujhe duniya se milayaa”

Kahaa leher ne saahil se “tumse milkar mann ko badaa chain paati hoon”
Kahaa saahil ne leher “usi tarah jaise tu mujhe sukh dekar mera dukh apne saath le jaati ho”

Kahaa koyal ne kouwe se “Tumhaaree ghosle mein mera aashiaana hain, tumhe taklif kyun nahi hoti”
Kahaa kouwe ne koyal se “ Tumhaara aashianaa nahi hota, toh mere ghosle ko pehchaan nahi hoti”

Kahaa kichad ne kamal se “ Tum mujh mein khilte ho, tumhe kyun badbu naahi aati”
Kahaa kamal ne kichad se “tum meri rakshaa na karte, toh meri zindagi chali jaati”

manushya prakriti ki in khoobiyon ko kyun na seekh payaa
Har pita ne apne bete ko, is boori duniya mein khudgarz bannaa sikhayaa

Kahaa ek manushya ne doosre se, “tumhaari zameen meri hai, aur tumhaara paisa bhi mera ho jaayegaa”
Naa samajh hai woh,, boore kaam karke aakhir kab tak bach paayega.

Badh raha hai jhooth, aur kadvi ho rahi hai zabaan,
Sirf teen hi toh cheezein hain “Roti kapda aur makaan”

Poocha manushya ne Bhagwaan se “Hey Prabhu, yeh dukh bhari zindagi kyun nahi badalti”
Kahaa Prabhu ne manushya se “Tujhe banaakar ki hai maine sab se badi galati.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I ask my government: Do you know INDIA?

I ask my government- Do you know how much we lack Infrastructure? I ask my government, have you ever traveled by a local train in Mumbai? Have you ever used the staircases that join the railway stations to the roads? Do you realize that the enormous crowds at EVERY station in Mumbai just keep growing like a cancer does? I ask them, do you know the enormity of the floods every in most parts of the country? Do you not see how much we need infrastructure to control the enormous losses caused by these floods? Do you know that the Mangalore air crash could have been averted with better investment and space around the airport? Has it ever occurred to you that most roads in India already run over thrice the traffic they can support; that what used to take 15 minutes to cover now takes 60? Are the potholes, the dug up, crowded and jammed roads not visible to you?

I ask my government, why is there so much Negligence towards important issues? Why do high profile and powerful people get away with doing unlawful activities? Why are those responsible for deaths of hundreds of people not punished severely? Why are those who involve in money laundering and illegal activities not behind bars? Why has so much inefficiency crept into our system? I ask the government why are we so negligent on doing things correctly and fast? Why are we opposed to opposing the bad and favoring the good? Why is justice always a case of too much too little? Are you aware that people have almost lost faith in justice? Why are the most valuable communities- the police, armed forces, the laborer, the farmer, and ofcourse, the common man- always neglected? Why do they never get their due importance, worth and peace? Does the government realize that so many other great sports, including our national sport have been neglected behind the fame, money and power of one game? Does it remember that in 100 years since football came in, our country of a billion people can still not find 11 players to compete with the world?

I ask my government, do you know Democracy? Do you know that it is not about the ballot, but about the power of the ballot? That the elected representatives have to exercise duties along with authority? Do you know the education levels of most politicians? Are you aware of the many incorrect activities they have carried out, and yet remain in power? Do you take into consideration the opinion of people when taking decesions that affect them? Be it reservations, quotas, infrastructure issues, raising prices, dealing with terror- has the voice of the common man who suffers the impact of these decisions, ever been heard? Have you ever considered investigating where most of the tax payer money or development fund money finds its way?

I ask my government, do you know how much Inflation we have today? Have you purchased foodgrains, cereals or other essential commodities lately? Rs 50 today are barely sufficient to buy a couple of vegetables, that’s it. Have you ever traveled by the cabs or local auto rickshaws? Public transport is costing a bomb today and the common man has no choice. Costs have increased but incomes haven’t. Do you know that despite the 8 PC GDP growth, the ground realities continue to depict a completely different and miserable picture? Would you mind explaining what you plan to do with the enormous foreign exchange you plan to save on, by increasing prices? Will any infrastructure or educational investments be made as a result of your so called LONG TERM ANTI POPULIST measures? Isn’t it a little ironic that we increase prices to reduce deficit (which means we increase the foreign exchange reserve with us), and yet we approach the world bank for a loan for our railways? At a time when crores of rupees are given to celebrities for stupid endorsements and 10 minute appearances at events or photo shoots, isn’t it too much to take when the common man (70%) of the population, continues to live hand to mouth?

I ask my government, why is there no Awareness of the many other issues plaguing our country? Even if there is, why has no action been taken to avoid the continuity of these actions? Why are people still being killed for reasons that continue to puzzle the rational mind? Do you know that food grains worth 2 years of stock have simply gotten waste due to lack of storage space? Why does it not occur to you that the real problem in agriculture is not production, but timely and efficient distribution? How do you plan to resolve the issues of the many many indebted farmers who do great service to our country, but get so little in return? Why do the police and forces not get enough expenditure and support to fight crime? Why are they simply sent to fight without support and expected to tackle the enemy and emerge victorious? What are their salary levels are you aware? I ask my government, do you know many people die or suffer as a result of brattish, drunken or stupid driving, and how many rash drivers are actually caught? What steps have you taken to reduce the every minute growing traffic on EVERY SINGLE road in the country? Issues like child marriage, child abuse, casteism continue to plague our society for the past 300 years.

I ask my government, do you know the I (Infrastructure), N (Negligence), D (Democracy), I (Inflation) and A (awareness) related issues that plague India.

I ask my government, do you know INDIA?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why i just LOVE my iPod!

August 2006. 11 am on a sunday. I am standing at the Durdle sea- a beautiful beautiful country side in the UK. Awesome! The blue waves are just so huge, so inviting as if to define what the word wave means. The sky was clear, the beach was BIG, and I was almost alone! My mates had also drifted to different locations in that area. In all this quiet bigness, the wonderful melody of the song "Far away" was playing in my ears. A line from that song- Far away for far too long-, just seemed to submerge into the sea after coming out. To this day, when I hear that song, that beautiful moment comes to my mind. October 2006- a vacation to India, at the airport. I was all excited about returning home after 6 months! The best song in that time really is “Paathshaala” from RDB! Looking at all people from the world at the airport, each one disappearing in a different flight, never to be seen again, but a moment never to be forgotten! What better song than the beautiful “Yaadein” from the movie yaadein? The title song from Swades is most enjoyed when you are out of swades, and London provided me a lot of moments when I heard this song and missed India.

The time after my return from UK, and before I went to Manila for MBA, was both- memorable and confusing. Trips to the banks, passport offices, train journeys etc. Plus, a few fights I had with myself. My train journeys were always accompanied with songs that represented emotions right from anger, self tryst, emotional chords, anxiety, fear, happiness and just about everything. Cliché songs like- TU hi meri shab” and “Ya Ali” from Gangster, all of Metro songs, “tere bina” from Guru, “Main jahaan rahoon” from Namastey London, were just a few of those. Even today when I hear any one of those, that entire time comes running into my mind and takes me down memory lanes.

Going further in 2007 and into the dusk of 2008, MBA at Manila was awesome! There were times when there was stress, and then there were times when there was even more stress! I vividly remember how I used to walk everyday within the AIM complex, and listen to my most favorite song- Tanha Dil by Shaan! Vacations, when we had them were super. The beach at Boracay is amongst the best in the world. I remember the day when I was sitting on the sand, had a pepsi besides me, and the sun was shining really bright! The waves were the cleanest and bluest that I had ever seen. Each island was more beautiful than the previous. And in that serene, quiet, inviting beauty, I remember listening to the beautiful theme tune of Jab we met. As I progressed through the course, I remember listening to songs from movies like Singh is King, Bhool Bhulaiyya, Taare Zaamen par etc!

My work life ever since 2006 till today has been defined by the many many songs that I have heard in these 4 years! Songs from movies like Lagaan, Saathiyaa, Yuva, RDB, Wake Up Sid, and so many more! When the chips are down, listen to the theme track from Forrest Gump, and you will realize why I mention it here.

In all these 4 years, at various places, in various times and events, amongst all those many gazillion songs that have chalked my memory database, there was only one thing common- my iPod. This sweet little device invented by Apple has single handedly helped my memory capture all events, and provided it with a means to recollect those memories- songs! I always used to think I am such a memory oriented person, and how easily I go back to related things when I hear a particular song. Trust me, as I realize today, songs have been the only single source of my recollection of past! And I realized it far too late that I owe my ipod a lot for it! Music is simply songs- words and tunes- if context is not added to it. This context, to me, was provided by my lovely ipod. At every single location that I went, and for every single moment since I bought it 4 years ago, the ipod has given me the priviledge to listen to songs of my choice- songs that fit the situation or songs that I want to listen to, if ever I think of something or someone. I even have a song each for most girls I know in life! Hahaha..

My ipod is my most favourite possession, and for now, companion! A lot of my life has been captured via it, and that is why I really love my ipod!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

UN-coding the Chinese Yuan Unpeg

Ok.So China has announced its intention to remove the Yuan Peg on the US Dollar. The world has jumped with joy on a positive sentiment. But is the bumpy ride really over? Is it really going to be as smooth as we think it is?

Let us begin by what pegging is actually all about. You see, currency rates all over the world are determined by demand and supply forces. Assume that a particular country is export oriented, and that its exports, and therefore the economy are doing good. This means the companies there are doing well. This means foreign investors are interested in buying stocks of those companies. They will want to set up partnerships, open up branches, sales offices etc. All this means that they will require the currency of that country in order to buy stocks and goods, or do all these activities.This means, eventually, that because the economy is doing well, the demand for currency of a country will rise.

This is where the game begins. Because the demand for the currency increases, the value of the currency appreciates.This means that the same goods now become more expensive. This means that its imports increase and exports decrease, because other countries goods become comparitively cheaper. Simply put, the economy of the country no longer does well. This means that the demand for the same currency now reduces. This means that the currency now depreciates.We are back to the same situation!

Do you see the self correcting cycle here? This, as we all know, is text book economics. In the long run, whichever country or economy manages to hold on to the positive cycle does well. But the point is that it is this cycle, or fluctuations, as we call, that is responsible for what we know as ECONOMIC EQUILIBRIUM.

Now what pegging does, is that it isolates the currency from this self correcting cycle. China, as we know is an export oriented country, and the world over uses products manufactured in China. As we now, its all "Made in China". Pegging means that your currency is RELATED or STUCK with another currency (base currency), and the movement of your currency is determined, not by the international trade cycle described above, but by the movement of the base currency. China had so far pegged its currency to the US Dollar. So, the strength and movement of the Chinese Yuan was determind directly by that of the US Dollar. Essentially,the Chinese currency is devaluated, or depreciated in value. Thus, its products always are much less expensive than most others, and this has been a major reason why China has dominated the world product export markets in the last 3 decades.

With pegging removed, the Chinese Yuan becomes dependent on the international trade cycle for value determination. This means that it no longer would enjoy the advantage of a constant perrenial devalued currency. It therefore falls int the 2nd part of the above cycle. A move to UN peg the currency means the currency will appreciate in value, thus resulting in lower exports etc etc. More importantly, this opens up the world export markets by reducing China's domination. The USA will be most happy with this development because this gives them an opportunity to reduce their trade deficit- the difference between exports and imports. In the case of the USA, this is highly negative, given its exeptionally strong consumption pattern.

This explains why the market sentiment was strongly positive on the first day itself. However, the immediate slow down on the 2nd day and subsequent expectations seem to imply that such a huge change cant happen so soon and smoothly. World economies still need to control costs and increase efficiences to match the bandwidth and expertise built up by China in 3 decades. If the Chinese currency starts appreciating too much, it could again buy US dollars, thus increasing the value of US dollar, and subsequently devaluating its own currency Yuan.

This is quite early to predict how this event unfolds in the coming time. However, world economies must be a little careful in being too cautious or aware of this, because improvement is needed all across. My first prediction is that if the un-pegging indeed takes place, it is going to be a good development globally.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The T-20 fiasco- The IPL angle

A lot has been written about India's recent cricket failures- the loss to Australia, the 2 match loss against Zimbabwe, and most of all, the T-20 World Cup debacle. Too much analysis has been made and all the points are the same.
Ok, first of all, I would really like to congratulate the England team for winning the t-20 IN STYLE. The way Aus was playing, I really appreciate England nothing less than winning the finals. This nation has given us the game of cricket, and represents great professionalism and grace in handling things. For them to have not won any major tourney in the recent past was an upsetting thing for someone like me, who is a fan of the country itself. Collingwood's men showed great character in dominating the tourney and winning the finals against the strong Aussies really sweetly.

Back to the Indian drama. Lazyness, partying, lack of seriousness towards fitness, arrogance, over confidence etc are the commonly cited reasons. But like Aamir Khan mentioned in a beautiful scene in TZP, these are symptoms, not causes.

As I believe, the real causes for the debacle are tow fold-one, the recent success in both the one day and test format, and, two, the IPL. The recent success, has caused some pretty natural arrogance and overconfidence, collectively termed complacency.

The IPL, the phenomenon that we know, has been a mixed blessing I would say. As much a fan as I am of it (I track it only when Mumbai play), I do think its not a mere coincidence that the last major multi team tourney India won- the T-20 2007 WC, was a year before the IPL. India has had tremendous success in tests and 2 nations series since then, but multi team tourney remains elusive.

Here is why I believe the IPL has been variously responsible for the failure. Ok, the IPL does reveal new players. But then, how many of those have actually made their mark? Barring Yusuf Pathan and Ravindu Jadeja, none of the others have been seen in any form of international cricket ever since. Whatever happened to the "talented" Abhishek Nayar or Dhaval Kulkarni?

Fine, the IPL, just a week before the T-20 WC, gives good match practice and is the perfect rehearsel, when competing with, and playing alongside, world players. Well, not quite. Firstly, most of these so called international players are retired and play only to earn more money in retirement. Gilchrist, hayden, fleming, pollock, warne, etc are all out of international cricket, but have played in IPL. Playing against them is no match practice for the younger world players taking to T-20. Its no good either in playing against each other, because that is not helping.

Look at it this way. Before every major graduation exam, we have a preliminary exam. This exam gives an indication about how well prepared we are, but can never replace the actual studies. Therefore, there is a gap of about a month between the preliminary exam and the final one. Studies happen in this month.

The IPL is similar to this preliminary exam, although with a rider. It is an OPEN BOOK preliminary exam. So, although the exam does give us a feel of how the main test is gonna be, because it is open book, we are never really tested. The IPL does give us an idea of how the players are going to play, but not completely. Also, there is not time between the IPL and the WC, which means the actual studies- the NET PRACTICE, which is oh so essential, does not happen! This is where I think the IPL causes a problem in its concept and being taken for granted as the perfect pitch for the world cup. It is so far away from it.

Thirdly, and more importantly, the IPL gives too much exposure to world players of Indian cricket strategy. Consider this. Barring Jacques Kallis and Boucher, we do not have too many SA Players playing in the IPL. So, the Indian players playing along side or against them, learn about the strengths and weaknesses of only 2 SA players. The 2 SA players, on the other hand, come to know about almost every India player participating in the WC. Same holds true for the couple of Englis players Boparra and Peterson., or for Mahelam Sangakarra and Mendis- the 3 SL players. My point here is- the Indian cricketers are getting too less in return for the tremendous amount they are giving away- game strategy, strengths and weaknesses. The world now knows a lot about the India cricketing strategy, while we know very little. This becomes very important in global competitions.

Concluding, I believe the Indian cricket is certainly undergoing a change with the coming of IPL, but the effects of this change could be massive and huge if not checked.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Magic Box of Answers (MBA)

The one question that we all REALLY prepared for the MBA entrance interviews was "Why do you want to do an MBA?" I am sure no one can claim with 100% confidence that they knew why they wanted to. Lets face it, almost everyone looks at an MBA as a quick machine for a higher pay job, or acceleration in career. Those who do not reason with this, will kick me and say they wanted to do an MBA in order to change their profession and move into a different stream. All in all, almost every answer fits into one of these 2 heads, and that is where the problem begins.

Not many would admit in an interview that they want to do an MBA for career acceleration. I mean, how can you claim that, when you have not even done your MBA? This is never really a convincing answer. The interviewers catch you with all kinds of words, and then you mess up with even stranger answers as "I have a road map, a vision..." , or "I will acquire the skills necessary for a manager in a prestigious B-School like yours.." and other such crap. We all have done that. The interviewers know this to death.

THe other option of changing career is even trickier. One better be sure that he knows his stuff just too well. I mean, how is a 20 month MBA gonna help you change your career path of 3 or 4 years? The MBA is still studies remember.

This is not to say that people have not gotten away with one of these 2 answers, but these are far from "WHy we REALLY want to do an MBA". I am still struggling with this answer! I am yet to figure out why I did the MBA and spent a fortune on it;how my career has really taken off AFTER the MBA.I am in the same industry as I was pre- MBA so that option is also ruled out. To take the liberty of speaking for my fellow MBA batchmates, I can also say with confidence that none of us got the even remotely close to the salary we were hoping from the MBA. In fact, some of us actualy received MUCH LESS than what we earned before MBA!! I am not kidding and you will know why. We passed out in Dec-2008, a time when the world was going throug the darkest economic and financial turmoil- the Sub-Prime mortgage crisis or simply "recession" as we have come to call it. And while 3 years since it started in 2007, the recession still continues,I have no doubt that around the end of 2008 was the WORST time in this. Forget salaries, we had to wait for 6 months to find a job!!

So then, this situation takes away both the above options of WHY one does an MBA. Atleast in my case right? Well partly yes, but mostly not, as I am learning now. It is only AFTER one does an MBA that he realises WHY he did it. The less known cliche to this is 'The exerience' that one goes through when doing the MBA, that comes into picture when he gets into the job. IN a short period of less than 2 years, the MBA subjects you to ALL possible situations that you could ever imagine in the life of 50 years after that- intense study pressure, hectic timeline schedules, peer group pressure, inter and intra group politics, simply too many projects, crocodile tears, some great friendships, networking abilities and a lot lot lot more! Add to this the lesser realised, but probably more important factors as - education loan, family pressure, voluntarily not having a job, and ofcourse, expectations!!!

It is all these factors that you are subjected to, that come into play when you get into a job. Because you have seen it all, it becomes easy to handle everyday situations and problems in your job. Decesion making, the one thing we associate with both managers and MBAs, truly becomes more effective and quick. Situations and prblems become easier to handle. Being a manager, your team members look up to you for guidance and info, and I very strongly believe that an MBA manager is much more qualified to handle these things than someone who has not done an MBA. Being an effective manager, according to me, takes some formal classroom training and guidance, and cannot always be picked up with only experience as effectively. And it is because of this improvement in performance that MBAs generally, and I mean only generally, get a slightly better career growth, which then eventually translates to higher salaries.

So there..The 2 common objectives of salary and career acceleration do indeed follow for an MBA. But not because the MBA degree says so. It is an indirect result of doing an MBA. Both salary and acceleration are only milestones of the journey. The eventual destination is EXCELLENCE. The MBA, as I have always mainained, is NOT a Magic Box of Answers (MBA). It only trains you to handle common life situations slightly better and faster than otherwise. Do an MBA not because you want a higher salary, but because you want to be better, quicker and diferent in doing everyday things. Because you want to experience this awesome roller coaster in 2 years. That is all that is to it. True talent will always do well, with or without an MBA.