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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