Sunday, December 27, 2009

The case for a perpetual Christmas

Recession has been the most pronounced word of 2009. Some call it the credit crunch, some just blame it on their respective governments, some blame their luck, the economists write articles analysing the happenings through a seemingly intellectual eye. My understanding is rather simplistic.

Recession is lack of confidence. Recession is lack of balance.

Imagine a boat ‘the universe’ which is sailing in balance and suddenly everyone moves to one end. It is most likely to topple because of imbalance. This imbalance can be irrational exuberance (2005 – 2007) or unsolicited fear (2008-2009) and that’s what we precisely saw in the last 5 years.

Over confidence burst the bubble - stock markets, real estate prices, easy credit (the ability to repay - notwithstanding).

And lack of confidence is preventing the recovery because people are overtly fearful.

Has there been any significant change on this planet? NONE. The same number of people have same ambitions and aspirations and same desires. People over spent and over consumed and stoked an artificial boom that could not be sustained. NOW they are under spending and preventing a recovery.

But Father Christmas is an exception – His birthday is celebrated with unparalleled zeal. He induces hope that is illogical and belief in magic that is never seen. Young gullible children are made to write their wish lists early in December so that the lists reach Santa well in time. People over spend, over consume, become irrationally happy, develop unsustained hopes and promises only to realise that Christmas does not last forever.

Credit card defaults, home repossessions and financial exigencies are quite typical of any January and Santa is missing. Because Santa does not exist. December creates an imbalance towards one side, January towards another.

Why can’t Human beings learn to be rational? Be positive all year round. Live within their means. Invest wisely. Spend for all their needs but none for their greed.

And we will never have an imbalance and will stop expecting Santa to do miracles.

Or simply put – Have a year round Christmas with rational exuberance.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Sister

Many people have made a difference in my life with their love, affection, support, strength of character and above all by being there when I needed them the most. As Tanu turns 28 today I cannot help but write a few lines to wish her Happy Birthday.

On 21st Dec this little angel took birth and brought immense joy to our lives and growing up with her was full of happiness. While we both fought madly, she would always relent and let me have my way.

As school happened, her keen interest in karate was commendable and for the next 10 years she trained every single day to become the Black Belt Dan II, one of the youngest in her city. Financial exigencies pushed her to start teaching and for many years she taught over 50 students of the preceding class each day while coping with her own studies.

Her ability to paint, dance, teach, work and strike a balance between all these activities never failed to amaze everyone in the family and her ability to form an instant fan club has been a source of inspiration for me all my life.

Never ever did any of her actions or decisions cause a concern for anyone in the family and we have always been proud of her simplicity and values.

It was a happy but emotional day for the family when she married the love of her life Soarabh and went away to the US. While it is easy (understandably) to get busy with the new life, not a day has passed that she hasn’t called to check upon my welfare. Along-with many relatives and friends she quietly transferred a large sum of money so that I could complete my MBA in the midst of the stock market crash as all my financial plans nosedived with the world indices.

Her sensitivity amazes me. During my recent trip to the US, I liked a shirt but did not have the money to buy it and neither the courage to express my desire. She sensed this thought and quietly bought this amazing shirt and hid it in my suitcase so that I wouldn’t get embarrassed and discovered it only when I unpacked in the UK. As an Indian we are used to eating rotis instead of bread. She cooked hundreds of rotis for days before my departure from the US so that my staple diet gets sorted for many months at Warwick.

I can go on and on but words are not adequate to say how proud and blessed I am to have Tanu as my sister and how much I love her.

God bless you Tanu. Happy Birthday..

Friday, December 11, 2009

The insignificance one's travel conquests

In the august company of a meritorious family in the UK I was overwhelmed by the ‘grandness’ of the holiday that they recently returned from. The hostess while ensuring an incessant supply of caviar and champagne regaled the guests throughout the evening with her travels on the finest cruises and the number of countries the family visited this year.

The sceptic that I am at times – I subtly asked whom were they visiting? She said no one.

Just as I return from a fantastic break after visiting Arvid, a very very dear friend in Norway, I muse – are holidays about destinations or people?

Are holidays about the money spent on them – to regale the lesser mortals at parties where guests are obliged to hear the travel conquests of their filthy rich hosts or are they about the people whom one visits.

I wouldn’t say that I have seen every nook and corner of the world but have travelled sufficiently far and wide to reflect with a degree of confidence that every destination in the world is just marginally different from the other. Globalisation has ensured that all high streets are just the same. Same brands, same shops, almost the same prices. Architecture and collection of museums and places to visit varies only to the extent as it varies if one is travelling from London to Liverpool via Cotswolds.

Same buildings, the same sort of places of interest and every city would have some sort of an insignificantly similar attraction.

I strongly believe that it’s only the people who matter in this equation.

Oslo (my recent holiday city) was just another destination. But what moved me was the hospitality that was extended to me. The opportunity to be a part of my host’s family, to be invited to his home where his respected parents re-scheduled their programs just so that I could be part of the family Christmas dinner, a special afternoon in his farm house, the time he spared amidst his new job to take me sightseeing and above all the evening in his beautiful new home, with a log fire, where he invited two of his best childhood friends too - made me feel on top of the world.

Destinations play a small role – the genuine friendships, relationships and the company that you are in, is all that matters.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Strategy of academic convenience

Academicians have a habit of mutating well established theories, changing a few words, mutating the shape of models and reintroducing the old wine in a self styled bottle.

Google (verb.) ESCO – it means nothing to anyone on this planet (not an iota of connection with strategy) yet students who did not believe in the ESCO model were allegedly the lesser mortals in the world of strategy.

No one really knows what was in Soichiro Honda’s mind when he changed course in the US. The decision to market small Supercub bikes after the dismal performance of Honda’s larger ones has been conveniently described as an emergent strategy. It has been discussed with great vehemence that Honda Motor Co. did not really know what it was doing and therefore it was an emergent strategy.

Can the confines of a classroom discredit the decisions of a great man or a great company?

I spoke to many colleagues in leading business schools and while HONDA is a popular case study no one associates the success of HONDA to an accident a.k.a emergent strategy.

Some believe that HONDA deserves credit only for abiding by the allegedly Japanese ‘belief that corporate direction evolves from an incremental adjustment to unfolding events’. If HONDA had just been incrementing along, it probably would not have moved so early into the US market in the first place. Even while HONDA sold through trading companies in all of SE Asia, it chose to sell directly in the US because of its founder’s strong belief that for a product to have a global acceptance it must succeed in the leading market.

A realm of strategy that has been little discussed is Commitment. HONDA was committed to being successful. The decisions that it took between 1952 and 1960 were irreversible. Capital investments, R&D in cleaner and fuel efficient engine technology put all other development on hold for several years.
This is commitment.
This is strategy.

"Lock yourself into a commitment or you will lock yourself out of success forever."

And let’s not take the credit away from Mr. Honda by nomenclating his decisions as emergent strategy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Being Awesome!

During an engaging discussion with a fellow colleague, I was taken back to the memories of some wonderful motivational and self development sessions where Nick Bate advised us with clinical sharpness – ‘one way to succeed and to be happy is by being awesome in whatever you do’

The same discussion happens year after year. Nick says just be awesome. Students say, its just not possible because political correctness and ability to keep ones boss happy is of far greater consequence than just being awesome.

Nick’s absolutely right but students have a point.

Every process has a gestation period. Employees take a while before they establish their brand equity in an environment. It may be a new job, an academic cohort or just amongst friends. Till such time that this brand equity is established you have to be ‘correct’. At this point do not be tempted to assume that once the brand equity is established, you needn’t be correct.

Is it difficult to be awesome? – No it isn’t
Be a good human being.
Treat others (employees, customers, friends and relations) as you would want to be treated by others.
Assume that you are the CEO of the company and its 100% shareholder too (to ensure best intent).
Have knowledge of your domain.

It takes a while before you can establish yourself as an awesome human being (gestation period) and once you have done so, simply maintain it and don’t be bothered about anything else.

Success, brand equity, growth, money, happiness, confidence which is all so superfluously relative would then be incidental. And don’t get too busy being awesome!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Economics is quite simple really. Ask your mother who manages a home in the resources available to her. She has no problem in managing her home or saving a kitty for a rainy day. Irrespective of one’s position in the pecking order of financial freedom, the lady of the house always manages within her means.

Ben Bernanke (BB) thinks otherwise. He wants the eastern world to spend beyond their means to subsidise the imbalances caused by the western world. He says ‘progress can only be made to remove imbalances when Asians start saving ‘too little’ ’.

He wants every country to run a trillion dollar deficit. When every single country on the planet is precariously debt ridden (as bad as the US) the imbalances will wither away.

Great idea!!

In the meanwhile he needs to learn a thing or two from a prudent homemaker.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Global rant about carbon emissions

Top leaders of the world O, B, S and the likes amuse me. Their rant never stops about CO2 emissions and the impending urgency of doing something about it. And they want India and China to reduce the emissions to half.

The developed world (read G8) has enjoyed the pleasure of depleting the world of its fossils and fuels for the last 100 years and have failed to acknowledge their own contribution to the green house gases - all this while.

When suddenly they realised that they have brought the world to a precipice of destruction, they started blowing the trumpets of concern and are leaving no stone unturned to suffocate the developing world in the name of global urgency that might deprive the two most progressive nations of their share of development and growth.

The following statistic is a bit of an eye opener.

China and India are at 80th and 113th position amongst countries emitting CO2 emissions per capita.
C and I are not even amongst top 40 countries in generating CO2 per $ of GDP.
The developed countries are not even amongst the top 100 countries in terms of preserving the forest cover as a percentage of total land mass.

So is there a solution? Well practically ‘No’, which implies that the rant will continue forever.

Academically ‘Yes’ – The maximum amount of CO2 emissions happen because of heating, cooling and driving habits of a country’s population. Increase gas prices to a point that the emissions get reduced to the level that is targeted or to a level that will allegedly save the planet.

Isn’t this a simple economic principle of demand and supply (usage) curve.

Do these countries have a will – NO.
Can a structural and moral change be induced amongst the population of the developed world – NO

Developing countries have been a catalyst in retrieving the world from an abyss of severe depression recently. Let these countries develop and grow. Please do not snatch the right of these countries to their share of development.

And in the meanwhile the top environmental police party - Stop speaking and start acting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dollar’s hay days are almost over

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and he cannot get any sympathy for any of his actions. But he was not executed for what he did to the Kurds or the alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. He was executed because he started selling his oil in Euros.

For a significant period of time the US of A has been an effective global policeman. And rightly so – because if not US then who?

But the world’s biggest consumer of goods and services has been brought down to its knees by its over zealous spending population and the country is running a deficit of trillions of dollars that is likely to be its waterloo.

For as long as Americans continue to be the world’s largest (and biggest) consumers, no one can take the mantle away from the US. But gradually as the spending patterns shift and wealth shifts from the west to the east, the US$ will slowly and gradually bleed itself to death as the worlds reserve currency.

History has it. This is exactly what happened to the erstwhile reserve currencies of the world - Roman Dinar, Spanish Reale and the British Pound. The reserve currency status has allowed the country and its populace to live beyond its means and eventually be displaced forever.

UN says ‘New reserve currency must be found to end dollars undue privilege’, and rightly so. Because dollar has been and is the reserve currency, Fed could afford to simply add a few zeroes to it’s balance sheet and print money. Some say and ‘couple’ of trillion dollars.

If any other country had created a financial mess that the US and its bankers created, it would have been worse off than Zimbabwe, with a billion dollar note cheaper than the intrinsic value of a toilet roll.

This cannot happen overnight for dollar. It will remain strong for a foreseeable future but small incremental deterioration in its strength is inevitable and the world is beginning to take cognisance of this fact.

Is there an alternative? - No!! No country yet has either the intellectual or financial capital to challenge the dollar. China is too autocratic (almost harmoniously dictatorial), India a bit too nascent. But these two countries are formidable forces to reckon with.

It doesn’t matter how much China rants about the US$. They have financed the American debt of over 770 billion dollars in addition to their dollar reserves of over 2 trillion. So they need to ensure that the value of their investments is maintained. But future investments by countries must be in line with simple rules of portfolio diversification.

The moral of the story – Portfolio diversification reduces the un systemic risk. Invest while the world is still sceptical or else market efficiency will eliminate potential profits.

Where to invest – Renminbi, Indian Rupee and Euro…..

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mahatma Gandhi’s (Bapu*) greatness was His simplicity

Google paid a befitting tribute to the apostle of peace Bapu, on his 140th birthday, by putting his simple picture on its mainpage. Bapu achieved through non-violence what the wars of the world have failed to achieve.

Bapu says…

I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction. Therefore there must be a higher law than that of destruction. Only under that law would well ordered society be intelligible and life worth living. If that is the law of life we must work it out in daily existence. Wherever there are wars, wherever we are confronted with an opponent, conquer by love. I have found that the certain law of love has answered in my own life as the law of destruction has never done.

In daily life, it has to be a course of discipline though one may not like it, like, for instance, the life of a soldier. But I agree that, unless there is a hearty co-operation of the mind, the mere outward observance will be simply a mask, harmful both to the man himself and to others. The perfect state is reached only when mind and body and speech are in proper co-ordination. But it is always a case of intense mental struggle. It is not that I am incapable of anger, for instance, but I succeed almost on all occasions to keep my feelings under control. Whatever may be the result, there is always in me a conscious struggle for following the Law of Non-violence deliberately and ceaselessly. Such a struggle leaves one stronger for it.

I call myself a nationalist, but my nationalism is as broad as the universe. It includes in its sweep all the nations of the earth. My nationalism includes the well-being of the whole world. I do not want my India to rise on the ashes of other nations. I do not want India to exploit a single human being. I want India to be strong in order that she can infect the other nations also with her strength. Not so with a single nation in Europe today; they do not give strength to the others.

President Wilson mentioned his beautiful fourteen points, but said: "After all, if this endeavour of ours to arrive at peace fails, we have our armaments to fall back upon." I want to reverse that position, and I say: "Our armaments have failed already. Let us now be in search of something new; let us try the force of love and God which is truth." When we have got that, we shall want nothing else.

Einstein wrote “will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”

“Happy Birthday Bapu

* The nation calls him ‘Bapu’ (Hindi for Father of the Nation) as a mark of respect

Monday, September 28, 2009

My first week at school a year ago!

Just as the new set of students on the MBA ‘conveyor’ start their year long journey tomorrow, my memories go back to my first week at Warwick. Excitement levels to their hilt. It was an amazing amalgam of excitement and nervousness. Many amongst us were getting back to books after over 10 years.

Fellow students were regaling the groups with their past achievements. The class seemed infinitely large because of the urgency to speak to each one of the fellow students and make friends. Some were loud, some were muted, some were interesting and some……..

The first week was action packed. While we coped with the schedules of introductory classes, alumni meets and tried to make our airplanes to take a flight of success and achievement, some stumbling blocks came our way in the form of settling-in blues.

Bank Accounts – It’s a struggle, we needed to get a letter from the University house that we were registered students - to open a bank account. And this needed to be done fairly early on as the first instalment of fees was due soon. HSBC and Barclays charged 6 pounds a month just to keep our money with them. NatWest didn’t charge anything like this and was happy to give you a connect card (more easily acceptable in most establishments and online transactions) if your balance was over 5000 pounds.

Mobile phones – We were required to give our mobile numbers for the talent book that had an alleged life of a year and beyond. Most mobile companies have arduous procedures of giving out contracts. The least requirement is a proof of address in the form of bank statement and the first statement can take about 2 months to arrive. A pay as you go card can be as expensive as 20p for a minute’s call and 10p for a sms but a contract gave us almost 600 mins and unlimited texts in under 20 pounds. My advice – do not worry. Take a pre-paid card and convert it into a contract at a later date and retain your number.

Lunch – University house that is 5 mins of walk gave us a lunch in under 5 pounds and Rootes (Ist floor behind bar fusion) that is 8 mins of walk from the school served an elaborate buffet that costed less than 4 pounds. Needless to say – if we did justice to the buffet, it helped us better in catching up with our sleep during the afternoon class. Else for the benefit of pocket and weight watchers, the school – kindly and appreciably, served a splendid variety of fruits and muffins at the coffee lounge.

Grocery – Cost cutter (next to Rootes) was really a pocket cutter. It took many of us a month to realise this. Tesco is 30% cheaper. Is open 24 hrs Monday to Friday, till 2200 hrs on Saturdays and 1600 hrs on Sundays. Residents of Claycroft had an advantage here. Its 2 mins away. Residents of Heron Bank and Lakeside struggled a bit more as they stacked up their freezers etc in the initial weeks. But 2 or 3 of us always enjoyed our walk from lakeside to Tesco and took a taxi back in 5 pounds.

Extracurricular – Warwick has over a hundred societies to suit every enthusiast. Polo, salsa, golf, cricket, sailing and many more. This we could figure out only in the 3rd or the 4th week as we began to settle down.

Hostels – Computers took a while to adjust to the new environment. A data cable could be purchased at Tesco or Costcutter. Irrespective of our previous attachments with our old IP settings we had to let our computers find their new IP. The accommodation service was fast and efficient. If at all we had an issue with our accommodation we used our login starting with bs….. and logged in an online complaint. We only realised much later that all the spiders that we found in our rooms were pets. But if there was a strong aversion we could politely request their removal.

A high point of the first week was Nicholas Bate and his introduction to discipline and self development.

In retrospect I feel academics were a miniscule part of this amazing experience that we lived. Work smart and party hard was the mantra. This was an opportunity of a lifetime to make new friends and nurture relationships. Some amongst us made the most of it, some faded away into oblivion.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The rules of the global game have changed

US, Japan, Germany and UK (top 4) contribute roughly 40% of the global GDP and have held this position for a relatively long period of time.

Settlement in a western country used to be a thing of pride at one point of time and in some pockets of the world - it still is. In the hinterland of Punjab in India many people would erect large concrete airplanes on their rooftops to indicate that someone from that house is either settled in Canada, US or the UK. Within the village community, that family would be looked at with respect.

Employment opportunities were galore. The great Western dream (derivative of the great American dream) was a reality and anyone who had the will could have his way.

The biggest catalyst that drives an economy is its infrastructure impetus. Roads, Dams, Bridges, Power plants, Industry. For a long time (many decades after the II world war) these sectors were in a constant state of development and progress.

Steel consumption in the US rose in the post-War boom years from 50 million tonnes in 1946 to peak at 110 million tonnes in 1975 and then started declining to reach around 90 million tonnes last year. More significantly, employment in the US steel industry has gone down from over 500,000 in 1974 to less than 150,000 now. The second fundamental structural change has to do with a decline in the cost competitiveness of western manufactured goods arising from a steady increase in the wage costs. This has caused a shift to low wage countries in the east, first of manufacturing and, later on, even of services. Ironically, the unionised labour in the west, which was responsible for the high wage spiral, has been the worst hit by job losses in the current slowdown.

More than often I wonder that if all the infrastructure that is required for a given country is in place, what will drive the economy of such countries with an aging population and torn social fabric. My assumption is that the infrastructure demand of the top 4 peaked out at the turn of this century. Smart people saw an opportunity and shifted focus to financial products that started driving the economic indicators. CDO’s came into being and the ‘top few’ managed to maintain that position for another decade before the bubble burst and the world almost reached a precipice of collapse.

And the rules of the global game changed!

The western world has made itself totally uncompetitive by its wage system, social system and artificially expensive currencies that have killed the local industry.

Protectionism in immigration policies and trade policies is providing a seemingly effective shield to the western world. It cannot last.

The world is flat now and if Darwin is anything to go by – “Only the fittest will survive”

Monday, September 7, 2009

Creation - Preservation - Destruction - Creation (CPDC)

Strategy Module has been intriguing. Many of my dear friends were punished with abysmally low marks. I only have one question to ask – is the marker’s belief in his connotation of strategy the final word in the subject? If yes, why can’t his/her ideas be utilized to strategise about dozens of things that are of immensely improvable order in an otherwise excellent school. (This isn’t a forum to ejaculate my frustrations) but strategy is neither about past nor present.

It’s about future. And to comment on future as mortal human beings is assuming oneself to be GOD.

We aren’t GOD!!

Companies continue to be cosy in their streak of luck or past achievements yet very few lessons can be learnt from the past. Past teaches you nothing. It only opens your eyes a bit more. The basic tenet of life is defined by CPDC. The three Hindu deities personify CPDC. Creation (Brahma), Preservation (Vishnu) and Destruction (Shiva). This applies not only to life form but also to product lifecycle, inventions, management styles and strategy.

The dynamic nature of every atom that makes this planet and millions of others ensures that life form keeps travelling to a higher plane (evolution) before it dies and paves way for new one. Strategy is dynamic too. It’s about future. It’s about the constant change in the state of things.

Companies can only ‘hope’ to address the following to survive:
What can we do to address future challenges and capture future opportunities?
What kind of leadership and culture we need to develop to tackle the unknown future?
What can we do to retain present customers to sell future products?

Are there any companies that have seemingly achieved this? Well if I was to say anything against Apple; half a dozen of my friends esp. Kasmira would put my life in danger because of their unflinching love and adulation for Apple products. So I suspect Apple has achieved customer retention for future products.

Leaders should continuously strive to define their future while addressing their present and believe in the CPDC cycle.

That’s all there is to it.

My last musing – Can strategy be theorised?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The world is still full of very nice people – and the planet has 'hope' for itself

Search for a room in London can be quite frustrating. As a student one not only fights against time, the onerosity of travel and a diminishing bank balance but also with the issue of potential landlords asking for references, large security deposits and the fear of unknown.

I kept my hope high and during one of these searches, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a family that had 2 rooms to-let. Big and small. The big was bigger than my budget, the small was smaller than my imagination. They not only sensed my inability to pay a large deposit but also sensed that I could not afford the room that I liked.

What they said later was quite beatific. “We will be happy to waive off the security deposit and you can take the bigger room for the price of the smaller one only if you promise to revise the rent on your own – the moment you get a job”.

This is what I call cosmic intervention.

Hope within individuals proves the mankind’s belief in God. Hope drives the macrocosm (It’s a different story that till some time back the investment bankers thought – they did). Hope for a better life, better job, better salary, more wealth. A man without hope is ‘hopeless’ and it would be very selfish to say that hope is a function of one’s belief in oneself. It isn’t. It’s a result of our hidden belief in ‘The Unknown’. The higher the hope the closer we would be to God.

The bottom line – Keep your hope high and your karma correct and in order. The cosmic hand will guide you thru and the temporal tribulations will melt away into the unknown.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Very Anticipatingly Yours

In 1928, philologist and lexicographer H. W. Fowler gave a new order to salutations and closures in letters and confused the world amongst sincerely, faithfully, truly and very truly. Even though I have utmost regard for the English language (as this is one common thread that binds the world), last few weeks of writing business letters (basically request for job letters) left me wondering. Why??

Gone are the days when letters were written to friends and relatives to remain in touch - text has taken that responsibility.
Love is no longer communicated thru perfumed, painfully handwritten calligraphic letters – facebook, online dating sites etc are enough.
‘Mate’ and ‘Cheers’ defines the entire spectrum of salutation and politeness even in this country where English language has some momentous roots.

And I strongly feel that with the exception of the readers of this blog, human race today is neither ‘very faithful’ nor ‘very sincere’.

We write letters because we expect something in return.

Why not do away with the false pretence?

Let’s stick to ‘very anticipatingly yours’!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The British Summers

Human beings in general have a habit of being in a denial mode. Last year for the 1st 9 months of 2008 the economists of the world were in a denial mode about recession and made the world believe that recession might never strike and could possibly be averted. It took a Lehman and a dozen banks in succession to formally declare recession. And by that time it was too late. I kept wondering why were the economists in a denial mode.

A similar analogy can be drawn with the ‘British Summers’. The summer season is allegedly in full swing. People refuse to carry their umbrellas. On a cloudy day when the temperature is sub 15 degrees and the Cumulonimbus is ready to enact Shakespeare’s pathetic fallacy, it’s not uncommon to see people lying in the parks pretending to be scorched by the elusive sun.

Mortals like me who prefer to carry their jumpers and jackets are almost looked at with a degree of contempt. I am bemused when people say, ‘what a lovely weather’. I chuckle and say 'yes sure – only if you happen to be a duck’.

Why can’t we simply sacrifice this denial mode for good and be snug and warm in our jackets and avoid getting wet and catching a cold.

Britain has no summers. It only has winters and rains.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dissertation Blues

One of the hot topics of discussion these days is the pending dissertation to be submitted by the ides of September. A paper comprising of some 15000 words.

I am convinced that this dissertation is a ‘high quality’ and ‘thoughtful’ – cut copy and paste. And people have been vehemently disagreeing with me. Some have made library their home. Some have become insomniacs and some are just too nervous.

Well if dissertation was to be a fruit of one’s intellectual or academic prowess then we don’t need literature review. Just sign off the dissertation confidently under your signature - no references required. I would love to do something like that. But won’t risk it. And if we could actually submit an original paper that gets accepted by the supervisor, doesn’t it qualify to be a theory?

If all we are doing is reading, mutating and reproducing the literature that already exists and referencing it with pages and pages of bibliography, why are we loosing sleep?

It’s an interesting thing that I observed recently. Every subject has thousands of books written on it and each paragraph has a reference to another journal or a book. Can I therefore assume that 99% of books are just clever mutations and reproduction of someone else’s work?

I would be happy to come across 1/1000th the number of theories or masterpieces as the number of books that have been written in the last 40 years.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The degenerate society and the economic crisis

I was travelling to Nuneaton recently on a bus that goes through Bedworth. A large number of people go to Bedworth or go from Bedworth maybe because that is the only place in vicinity that has a Tesco, Aldi and a few other stores.

The bus stopped at a traffic light to let the pedestrians cross and then I saw an old lady (if my guess is right she must be 90) with a push stroller full of grocery crossing the road. She was frail, was struggling to cross - conscious of the traffic that had stopped by and had a sadness on her face that was visible. The loose skin had a story to tell of the number of moons she had seen and what all she had gone thru in life.

She took 7 minutes to cross the road and disappeared.

Then it struck me – The reason why the developed countries are going through this present avatar of economic crisis, credit-crunch, mortgage delinquencies etc.

And it’s got nothing to do with economics, stock markets or risk management.

It’s got to do with the changing social order.

The lack of responsibility has percolated through the system. A few decades ago when families were joint, people were responsible and answerable to each other. The head of the family had a say. The answerability was in every aspect of life. Finances. Relationships. Men and ladies married to make marriages last. Raise children. Take care of children and so on.

Somewhere something snapped. People stopped being responsible and answerable to each other. Youngsters went away on their own - early in life. Families became nuclear. Elders were left alone while kids went on to have their own life and freedom. Teachers and elders were no longer addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Relationships became casual. Formality vanished. Responsibility vanished.

Spouses redefined their relationships. Spouses no longer remained spouses. They became live-in partners. Nomenclatures like friend, partner, fiancée, girlfriend, all acquired different meanings according to individual conveniences.

Divorce was no longer a stigma. Breaking up and making up and breaking up became a fashion. The new generation calls it ‘experience’, ‘my-life’, ‘my freedom’, ‘space’.

And this triggered the breaking of the bond. Bonding became weak. When family bonding becomes weak so do all other bonds.
Bonding with your banker
Bonding with your lender
Bonding with your friends
Bonding with the society

Answerability to all these above relationships too has diminished to negligible.

And carelessness becomes a genetic makeup.

And that’s why people just prefer to walk away from a mortgage rather than pay.
Overspend rather than save for a rainy day.
Walk away from a difficult marriage rather than make effort and stay.
Have life and make decisions where elders have no say.
And that’s why world is at its present Mayday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Customer service - a science or an art. Can it be taught???

Singapore airlines (SIA) has been discussed to a point of irritation during the last few months during my MBA. And yet I often reminisced – the airline must have done something right to have been adjudged the best airline for the last over 20 years. Even though I am yet to travel on SIA, I know what they must be doing to be where they are.

My recent to and forth journey to the US was on Virgin Atlantic and even while I was welcomed in person by Sir Richard Branson who suddenly appeared like a genie on the television screen, with his wavy hair and confidence (that would turn Don Juan in his grave) assuring me of Virgin’s commitment and endeavour to make my flight experience a memorable one, the promise crashed suddenly as if the negative G had completely taken over just before all my expectations drowned forever in the Atlantic.

This happened twice over--

Flight VS009 London-NewYork
It’s a short haul flight and flight stewards are in a hurry to get over with all the service. Even while I was sitting quite close to the pantry, I was – for some reason, one of the last one to be served. And when I was asked what I wanted for dinner, I wanted to know what the choices were.
“We have chicken and beef with pasta etc etc”
“May I have some chicken please”
“Sorry mate you are out of luck – we only have some beef left if you want to have”

Well…. I had no choice and even though being a Hindu, I eat beef – when I have to, I wondered, will I ever want to travel on this flight again?

Flight VS0046 NewYork-London
I had flown from Frisco to NY and waited 6 hours for this connecting flight and was tired (its not easy to travel between 3 time zones with a waiting of 6 hours in between). This time the cosmic intervention of God ensured that I got chicken. But my bad luck – I asked for a spare pillow because my lower back was hurting.
“We only have as many pillows as seats – can’t help”
“Are you sure that an aircraft that is carrying 400 passengers does not have a spare pillow”

I did eventually travel all across the plane and counted 43 pillows that were strewn all over by guests who were not using those. I borrowed one easily.

CEO’s vision is of no consequence if the last person in the line does not understand it.
Commit only if you can service your commitment.
Mean what you say.
Be sensitive to your customer and if you can - consider him GOD.

Can any airline ever be as successful as SIA – I guess no…..
The Asian culture of care, respect, sensitivity is a genetic makeup that has been perfected over generations.

Why else has no western airline in the last 2 decades ever made the cut?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The great American dream

I landed at the JFK some 2 weeks ago with a thought that I am visiting a country that is nursing a severe recession and almost expected to see it with my naked eyes. My objective was to identify one catalyst that made ‘The great American dream’ and made America the ‘land of opportunity’.

It didn’t take me long to figure out.

I was humbled when I visited the Ground Zero and my heart goes out to the families of people who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks. The stories about how the fire fighters smilingly gave up their lives ‘proudly’ to save a few others - are moving.

A few blocks away lies the nucleus of global finance (The Wall Street) and I happened to strike a conversation with a few brokers over coffee. It was interesting to note the infectious optimism. Recession was the topic of discussion and almost all of them said “We Americans are smart people and we will definitely figure out a way fast - out of this turmoil”

President Obama’s “Yes we can” reverberates through the soul of this country and through every single citizen.

Americans work hard and party harder. The Pubs are packed. People are still shopping with a vengeance on the 5th Ave.

Recession is a state of mind. Fundamentally nothing much has changed on this planet but for a little aberration in the global confidence. If every single person on this planet gets ones’ confidence back, recession will be over – overnight.

Comprising of 5% of the world population, Americans generate 25% of the world GDP in a country that is rich in natural resources, is the fulcrum of global inventions, and is an economic and military superpower. The vastness of the US is overwhelming.

Warren Buffet is right “No matter what you do – do not bet against the United States of America”.

Investments and Risk Management

The last of my academic modules at Warwick Business School ended at an absolute high.

The Investments and Risk management was a great module. Prof. Ron Watson of Rutgers Business School took us through the finer nuances of valuations of bonds and shares and gave an interesting view about the world economy.

Prof Watson has an enviable experience in the Government (Sr. VP Federal Reserve bank of Philadelphia), Private Sector (CEO of the Custodial Trust Company – Bear Stearns), and is now an academician since the last 7 years.

The wealth of his knowledge helped us understand Risk Management and the variables through which risk can be assessed and mitigated. Diversification is the key to successful investing as no one can either predict the markets nor has anyone ever been able to avoid the troughs that keep recurring at an amazing regularity.

But there are two simple rules that have stood the test of time and can ensure that investments grow and outperform the government bonds over a period of time - Discipline and Diversification.

That’s the only way every investor can achieve one’s ultimate quest to generate positive ‘Alpha’….

Monday, May 25, 2009

Make competition insignificant

As a Master of Business Administration each one amongst us continues to search for an elusive formula that can make the competition insignificant. Whether it’s Strategy or Marketing or “The blue ocean” - the quest is the same.

As the General Manager of Springfields, Simla, I had many challenges of dealing with a hotel marred with a union problem, high fixed costs because of a relatively small size and extreme competition from the 3 other 5 star hotels in the city. The competition had the advantage of scale of economies as those hotels were a part of the ‘Oberoi’ group.

I had to find a way to create an edge. And there were not many choices.

Bishop Cotton School is one of the most popular boarding schools in Simla (Eaton of the East), and one of the very few in India where parents want their sons to read. As a habit I have always invited one or the other guest for a drink in the lounge every single evening of my working life. During one of these evenings a visibly upset parent shared his difficulty to find a local guardian for his 8 year old son as that was the pre-requirement of the school.

I offered to be the local guardian and took the responsibility and subsequently would visit the child every Sunday and take some “Butter chicken and Naan” (very popular with Indian kids) – all this outside the call of my duty.

This word spread so fast that within a year I was the local guardian of some 2 dozen kids and their parents would always keep a line of credit open so that the children could have meals and sweets over weekends. It just took me an hour or two to make these kids happy and ‘Uncle Manu’ became popular.

The word of mouth is definitely the greatest marketing tool and the hotel was full not only with parents visiting their kids but also their friends and relatives. Many guests who could afford a three times more expensive Oberoi’ Hotel, also shifted to my hotel. Parents knew that the child was being taken care of and the hotel staff were authorised to serve food to these children and simply retain the bill to be collected later.

A new market was successfully created and if Porter is anything to go by – without the threat of any entrant or substitute.

Customer service is an art and has to be given from ones heart. Just be a good human being, a considerate human being – and watch the competition become insignificant.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

India has finally matured and is shining

Irrespective of what the intellectual capital of a country is, the election results of the largest and most successful democracy of the world are a reflection of the ideology of the country’s population at large. I am ecstatic that finally religious fundamentalism and baseless contentions of regional parties (that had been a drag on the country’s progress since the last 5 years) have been resoundingly ignored by the populace.

The father of Indian reforms Dr Manmohan Singh who steadfastly stood by his principles and was ready to sacrifice the government rather than submit to the demands of the realpolitik is back – and with a resounding majority.

What does it really mean for anyone reading this blog, which has a rather international audience?

1. India grew at over 7.5% in the last 5 years despite a great political drag. With a clear mandate, Dr. Singh will usher India into the next phase of reforms and divestment of humongously giant public sector that will bridge the country’s fiscal deficit. A double digit growth in just a few years would not be surprising.

2. The conservative nature of Indian banking and the values of Indian borrowers saved the system and not a single bank collapsed. Albeit the banking sector grew at over 60% YOY when the financial system of the world was bleeding. With the lowest number of bank accounts per 1000 still, this sector will shine. And every foreign bank is likely to have a base in India.

3. Relationship with the US will improve even further. President Bush pushed for India’s entry into the nuclear club and this status will get a further impetus. America Was, Is and Will remain a superpower and the nucleus of world trade and economy. This axis of power might be an area to watch out for as the US is fed up of an artificially cheap Yuan that has caused unmanageable trade imbalances.

4. Stock markets will give thumbs up to this outcome as markets like stability. Watch out for sensex crossing previous highs before the end of this year.

5. The verdict is a clear indication that over 400 M people who were below the poverty line and uneducated are slowly getting educated and improving economically. The middle class will be a formidable force the size of which is likely to be double the population of the US.

6. Politicians are seldom economists and great economists stay away from politics. The diminutive 76 year old economist, Dr M, who was almost forcibly made the Prime Minister 5 years ago, is a stronger, mature, intelligent politician. And back with a Bang!

7. Young India (average age of population under 30) was always marred by old politicians who had wrested the power with themselves. The present government has a significant number of young highly educated politicians who have the eagerness to make a difference.

I would be happy to allow the Economists and the Capitalists of the world to draw their own conclusions..…….

For the rest, I would simply say “Watch out for India!”

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Doing your best and a bit more..

This is a pleasant and a welcome week while we are attending Prof. Robert (Bob) Johnston’s Service Management. Having spent a bit of time managing luxury hotels, I wondered what all and how much I will be able to take from this module.


Prof. Johnston (a senior hotelier himself) has put together one of the most interesting modules using more than 30 different models in which managers can reflect upon, assess and improve service standards in their organisations. Prof. Johnston shared his amazing life experiences and peppered the week with some fantastic humour.

His passion for the subject is an inspiration. And he gives his best to the class. The seemingly endless supply of chocolates that strategically start flying around the classroom like UFO’s whenever the afternoon begins to take its toll on our attention span keeps us well engaged.

Excellent service is a consequence of a few simple decisions and initiatives that managers can take.

· Articulate and communicate the service standards and service aspirations to employees - Remove ambiguity.
· Connect with your employees. Customer delight and profitability is incidental to your employee satisfaction and motivation.
· Empower (through adequate training and behavioural change) employees to solve issues right there and then. Immediate disposal of issues saves enormous time and money.
· Benchmark yourself against the best – AND ACHIEVE IT.
· Manage customer expectations and match those expectations.
· Treat your customer as you would treat your family member.


Do a bit more!! That’s what delights the customer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Green shoots of recovery

The world markets have shown resilience in the last few weeks and while DOW is up by 29% since the black Monday on the 9th March, some other markets have gone up by over 50%.

It is believed that markets discount the future roughly 12 - 18 months in advance and if history is anything to go by, recessions do not last a lifetime. And recessions of this magnitude perhaps happen no more than once in a lifetime.

We should consider ourselves lucky that we have seen so much unfold in front of our eyes while we were trying to learn similar concepts in the classroom.

This is also a great opportunity to start investing. Some of us who have not had a taste of stock markets yet could think of making some informed investments decisions. Stock valuations are still at life time lows and there is some cherry picking to be done out there.

Warren Buffet made the majority of his investments in early 70’s during the oil crisis and he invests when everyone else is selling and is fearful. Most of us miss the bus because we follow the herd.

This opportunity to invest in stock markets might never ever come back in our lifetime!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MBA is almost over and the goodbyes are going to be killing

I have seldom had a sinking feeling. Today as I think that it is just a few more months before we go our separate ways, my stomach churns. Because the opportunity for the 78 of us to get together under a single roof might not come again.

I cannot begin to express how delighted I am to be here with wonderful set of people from such diverse and rich backgrounds. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and there is a purpose for which each one of us is here. Some of us are here for just the piece of paper, some of us – to prove a point, some of us – to have a good time. Whatever be the purpose, I have no doubt that each one of us will achieve it with flying colours.

We are all having a great time, we are all here on a steep learning curve, and these experiences and memories are worth billions. This experience will be vouchsafed with us for the rest of our life. We always try and take a big leap but small steps make a difference and these steps would define what we will make of our life. We need to move step by step in our lives. And these steps will make a giant leap. And these small steps are not just about us. These are about others. These are about the difference that we can make in the lives of others and in everything that we do. Great moments are born from great opportunities and that’s what we have here. The opportunity to make a difference. We are here to win. And we shall win. And this bloody recession be damned.

Some of us are already basking in the glory of momentary success that we have achieved with our internships or our jobs. Life is about being a member of a team because all great victories have been achieved by teams and effective groups. Believe you me just the 78 of us are enough to push and pull each other towards achieving our objectives. We don’t need the support of professional networking sites, the effectiveness of which is questionable . We just have to start lending a hand. This group has an opportunity to become the greatest group and that is OUR choice or we will all fade away into the recesses of oblivion.

Chance seems to form the surface of reality. But deep down other forces are at work. The moving finger writes and having writ moves on. If the universe is a living one, if it is spiritually alive, nothing in it is merely accidental. Our presence here is not a chance it’s an opportunity. Let’s grab it.

I am sick and tired of hearing what a great school Harvard is, what a great school Stanford is. F@#$ them. We are the greatest and this we shall go on to prove during the course of our lifetime. Because we must and not only because we must, but also because We CAN.

Let us become the brand ambassadors of our school and help it achieve the seemingly insurmountable task of becoming one of the top schools in the world.

I refuse to believe that any moment can be tough enough. Because I have a dream that I have protected all my life. We all have dreams that we must protect and eventually achieve.

Hold on to your dreams; Just believe that you can
Nothing s gonna stop you; That’s the story of man
If you should ever loose your faith; And stumble in your stride
Remember that the dream you hold; Is your purpose is your pride
Never think of loosing; Your place is in the sun
To have the courage – to have a dream
Is to have already won.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Unemployment is here to stay forever

A few months back I was woken up on a dreary day with a strange commotion outside my window and when I drew the curtain to peep hoping that the bright sun would not wash away my sleepy stupor all I could see was a plethora of high tech machines with bright flashing lights on top and personnel in bright jackets running from one end to the other.

I thought some major crime/accident has happened and upon watching intently I realised that what seemed as elaborate as a pre preparation for the launch of a space shuttle was nothing more than an exercise to collect the leaves that the trees had shed during fall.

I was amused.

All this – just to collect a few fallen leaves.

Look at it from a financial perspective. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fast depreciating equipment, burning tonnes of fuel – just to collect a few leaves. Automation at its very best while 2.1 million people are enjoying the unemployment benefits at the cost of the tax payer, comfortably staying in council houses and hoping that the Government realises the tough times and increases the monthly dole.

If the ‘dignity of labour’ is not just an academic expression, why can’t people be asked to pick up the traditional broom and come out on streets and contribute towards keeping the country clean and justify the monthly dole that they have so gotten used to.

If the world has to survive, the scope of socialism has to be redefined.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

India 4 of ∞

To most people, India is the land of the Taj Mahal, which was built by the fifth Mughal; Shahjahan in 1650, He loved his wife so much that she travelled with him everywhere and in one of the military campaigns; she died at an age of 39 while giving birth to their 14th child.

She asked him to show the world how much he loved her and so came the Taj Mahal (described by Noble Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore as a tear drop on the face of humanity).

It took 22 years with a work force of 20,000 and the money that was spent to build it would be worth 141 billion US$ today which probably makes it the most expensive piece of architecture in the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Strategy – a fallacy?

Much has been said and written about strategy and how companies rise or fall as a consequence of decisions taken (accidentally or intentionally) over a period of time.

If strategy was a science it could easily be taught and cracked and theorised and as a consequence of this no company would ever falter because enough evidence and data are available to learn from. Yet – companies continue to make mistakes over and over again and I am yet to find a strategic model that is generic enough to follow that solicits enough attention.

The fact remains that our spectrum of study encompasses the study of a few companies that business schools have tried to analyse over a period of time, and have marred the hypotheses with the use of jargon that very few understand. The environment is ever changing and every successful strategy has a hundred failed that are embedded in the recesses of that success.

Porter and Barney have only reiterated what has been the tenet of business over thousands of centuries. As early as 3000 years ago, Chinese were believed to be businessmen of commendable calibre.

If corporations worldwide just follow 5 simple rules – study of strategy could perhaps become more meaningful.

1. Keep costs in check consistently. Irrespective or good or bad quarterly results. (read: let prudent judgement not be eclipsed by a temporary success).
2. Treat your customers like God.
3. Treat your employees like you treat your family members or your children.
4. Develop a culture in your company where every employee asks himself a question before spending every single penny. ‘Would I spend it if this was my own company’?
5. Strive for a fair share of profits that are sustainable. Remember markets are efficient.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thank you Professor Cockrum

We had only heard some tales about Prof. Cockrum and Entrepreneurial Finance, before taking on this module.

Some said you need balls of steel to survive this. Some said he is a devil, some said he is GOD of his subject.

But having worked 16 hours a day for 5 straight days, I can say this with a degree of confidence that this is the best thing that not only happened to me at Warwick, but in life too.

The passion and excellence with which Prof Cockrum delivers his lectures is indeed exemplary.

We are all senior managers and hundreds of people report to us. Leadership is not a consequence of one’s position. Leadership is a consequence of superiority of knowledge, intent and discipline.

So while we learnt a lot about financing and entrepreneurship, one holistic message that we have taken and that will stay with us for the rest of our life is that if you know what you are doing and adding value to the life of the person who looks up to you, no matter how hard or demanding you are people will revere you.

As we revere Prof. Cockrum today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A week to remember

What an amazing learning curve !!
As students of MBA each one of us strives to be an entrepreneur and some of us will actually make the cut some day. Prof. Bill Cockrum’s module on Entrepreneurial Finance has been the high point of this MBA.
One seldom comes across teachers who have a passion to make each class/lecture the best that they ever delivered and have the wealth of knowledge that is unparalleled. A fine and successful entrepreneur himself, Prof. Cockrum brings real life into the classroom.
And rightly so – perhaps that’s the reason why he has been judged the best faculty member at UCLA for 23 straight years.

Teaching is an art that has been fine tuned to perfection by Prof. Cockrum.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

India 3 of ∞

The first Rolls Royce came to India in 1908 for the Maharaja of Gwalior and by 1947, the Indian streets were haunted by some 1400 Rolls Royces: The maximum sold in any country in just under 40 years in those times. The traffic jams caused by the cars of the Nizams of Hyderabad, had swarms of poor compensation seekers hoping to have aged relatives run over by his car.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Warwick – A great value

“Small courtesies sweeten life – The greater ones ennoble it”

More than often we ignore small courtesies in life because we fail to identify them. While discussing my MBA with a fellow friend who is reading at a top business school in London, I was pleasantly surprised at the great value Warwick offers.

Value is not only in money. Value is in value addition, value addition thru small courtesies - but of course, money matters!!

More than often I have seen many of us printing hundreds of sheets of paper only to find out that a wrong document has been printed and the bunch gets submitted to the paper bin without hesitation. All this is in addition to the 10000 print credits that we have.
There they pay 5p per copy/print-out.

We often change our mind about the choice of our hot drink, midway, after pressing the button and change our drink without hesitation.
There they pay £1.5 for a cuppa.

The unlimited fruits cookies buns and tarts can keep us going throughout the day.
There a set of 2 cookies costs 30p.

The morning dose of FT and WSJ is almost an addiction.
This addiction costs £3.5/day there.

All the books for elective modules are free for us.
There it isn’t so.

We might assume these to be very small courtesies, the greater one on our part would be to respect all this.

That’s how we shall ennoble our lives.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Relationships – The Essence of life

And I always thought that human memory was short and out of sight is out of mind.


Easter vacations gave me a chance to write to some families in Britain. These are people who stayed on my ship when I was commanding a happy ship ‘Charaidew’ some 7 years ago.

At that time the average age of each of my guests was 65+ (I wondered why – but we charged over 300$ per person per night and only senior people could afford) and they stayed for 2 weeks on the ship. It was my job to be a good host and besides eating and drinking with them I used to have some nice enriching conversations.

Goodbyes were interesting. A few tears, a few promises to keep in touch, a few assurances of “must meet again”. But life moved on and out of sight was out of mind.

I stole this opportunity to connect again. And I am pleasantly surprised to see my inbox and post box brimming with mails and letters.

It seems like yesterday once again. Invitations to come and spend weekends with them, A few own golf courses (so now I believe that my clubs will be put to good use), and some have promised to come and visit me here at the campus.

Sadly – some are no more.

I am overwhelmed by the politeness, charm and welcome of all these wonderful English people who remember their trip fondly and almost all of them – even the conversations.

Recessions will come and go. Jobs/Careers – All of us will eventually be all-right. But relationships last a lifetime. I can say this with a degree of confidence that nothing in life is of greater consequence than great relationships.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

India 2 of ∞

India was primarily the abode of the Dravidians. And then came the various invasions. The Aryans invaded 5000 yrs ago, Huns in 5th century, the Mughals in the 14th century and the British in the 18th. India has come a long way and that is the reason why this country is a melting point of so many religions, languages, cultures and sects.

The propensity to compromise and co-exist when survival is at stake, rather than heroically fight and die to the last man, allowed the Hindu culture and civilization to outlive (and even enriched by) the relentless conquests of proselytizing invaders.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

True Love

All his life her love kept lingering around him like a perfume but he could never have enough of it. Yet - even in adversity he did all that he could for her and got her the absolution from the burden with which she died.

She was too proud to accept that she could not read or write – and she made the ultimate sacrifice by confessing that she signed the death warrants of hundreds of Jews.

It’s hard to find true love and people who find it never realise that they have or care enough about it.

Stephen Daldry did an excellent job with ‘The Reader’ – Kate Winslet

A must watch!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

I miss my coffee lounge

I am longing to get back to the class on the 14th for Entrepreneurial Finance.

I regret I could not capture every single moment of my life at Warwick and this blog should have been started six months ago. Actually I did not even know what a blog really was - Till recently when I almost paid a fairly large sum to get one going and was rescued just in time (JIT).

Life at Warwick has been fun. 2 terms have slipped away successfully. How I wish time could perhaps move a bit slower and recession a bit faster, so that I could live Warwick a bit more.

Mornings are exciting. Coffee cookies and newspaper, and a chance to catch up with friends. Being outside the class is as much of an education as being inside. Being a part of so many diverse groups (polo, beer, movies, varsity). This is fun. This is life.

Work hard and party harder – that’s the essence of a MBA…..

India 1 of ∞

My blog is too small a forum to appropriately describe the richness and expanse of this magnificent country. I will still make an effort each time I write..

Mark Twain wrote after his visit to India at the end of the 19th century.
"This is indeed India!!!. The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty – of genii and giants and Alladin Lamps, of tigers and elephants – the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and millions of GODs, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great grandmother of tradition………."

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Some of my classmates said they cried while seeing the slumdog.
I wondered why?
Was it upon seeing the abject poverty and deprivation of an average Indian projected in the movie?
Was it upon seeing the clinically sharp intelligence of Jamal Malik?

I have two strong opinions here

1. The Oscars are biased towards the western producers and directors.

The reel life story of an imaginary character was indeed a good depiction of a person’s perseverance and luck but nowhere close to reality of the true - rural and urban India. But that’s beside the point.
So how could slumdog get 8 Oscars?
It wasn’t an ultimate statement of directorial calibre.
It wasn’t an ultimate statement of storytelling.
It wasn’t an ultimate statement of cinematography.
It wasn’t even a great mushy flick.
Danny ‘boy’ couldn't even use any pathetic fallacy to remind us of Shakespeare.

So would it be safe to assume that the most unusual scene of the boy jumping into the pool of shit got it the Oscars? Maybe.

I have always eagerly waited for the Oscar list each year to get an opportunity to watch the best pre-selected movies of the year that would save me the time effort and money.

I think I will have to make my own decisions from now on.

For those who might be inclined to disagree with me must watch
Mughal e azam
Mera Naam Joker
Mother India
Salaam Bombay
Bandit Queen
Rang De Basanti
Tare Zameen Par

2. An unusual depiction and mutation of reality draws much more crowds than reality itself.

While watching the movie at the Warwick Arts Centre I was rather surprised to ‘hear’ people chuckle in absolute disgust. Why?

Well immediate thoughts that came to my mind were-
Innocent citizens are being shot dead by crazy lunatics in various parts of the world in stray shooting incidents.
How citizens behave in one’s own country during natural calamities is surprising.
How dictators are pushing their countries into the silos of hunger and chaos is no news to anyone.
And how the world has been brought to the brink of an economic collapse - we are all experiencing.

Yet a culturally diverse and rich country was depicted in a rather deplorable light.

The chronicle of a reluctant blogger

It’s been a while since the thought of blogging has been lingering in my mind but making a start is always a challenge. As a foreigner I have come across many surprises in the last six months but Slumdog is seemingly the perfect trigger for this start. I hope this lasts.
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