Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Year That Was: Hits n Pits of 2008

Another year has gone by, leaving behind an assortment of bittersweet memories encompassing pride, joy, pain, resentment, shame, an eventful year all the same.

HITS: What the year ought to be proud of
CHANDRAYAAN: India's first unmanned mission to the moon,gave a major boost to India's space program, as India joins Asian nations China and Japan in exploring the Moon.

BEIJING OLYMPICS: India bagging 3 Olympic medals, in individual events, along with a gold, gave the nation three new heroes.

INDO US NUKE DEAL: After much opposition at home and abroad, India finally became a part of the Nuclear club, also in the course of affairs, defeating coalition politics and blackmails.

UNITED STATES OF OBAMA: Indicating a new era in American and international politics, Barack Obama became the first African American President of the world's most powerful nation promising to bring about the 'change we need'. Also promising a positive turn in the roller coaster ride thats Indo US relations.

PITS: The year packed its own cauldron of tears, anguish and resentment

GLOBAL FINANCIAL MELTDOWN: The bears took as ugly run around markets across the globe with the recession hitting nearly all sectors of the economy and the proponents of the laissez faire system all turned to the government for bailout packages.

MUMBAI CARNAGE: In the worst terror strike faced by the nation in recent times, the world watched while India's financial capital came under seige. It not only brought forth the increasing daring of the terrorist organizations but also gave an insight into their skilled training with the backing of hostile government establishments. It also showed us how the entire JuD operation was supported at every step by Indian incompetence.

RAJ THACKEREY AND MNS: Communal voilence raised its ugly head in the nation once again, starting with the row over the Amarnath land transfer, Bajrang Dal supported voilence in Orissa and Karnataka, and moving on to the Marathi and non-Marathi clash in Maharashtra which resulted ultimately in the death of three persons.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Terrorists in White Collars

While this is definitely not condoning the heinous atrocities committed by those men on the right, its certainly saying that the deeds done by those in the left deserve reprimand too. The Lehman collapse can be viewed as a 2008 version of the Enron collapse. Crimes committed by intellectuals will remain crimes all the same. Introduction of highly sophisticated and complex trading instruments like exotics and other derivatives which resulted in gross over-valuations and price rise due to speculation eventually resulted in the average commoner, irrespective of nationality, losing a substantial part of his savings. Dangling the metaphorical carrots promising higher returns and lower risks and drawing high commissions with the hike in the volume of deals, the working man's hard-earned income was siphoned off to pay for corporate retreats and summer villas. The Armani-clad, ivy-schooled professionals are no less villians and must be dealt with appropriately

The Death of an Empire

A case study on why Product Innovation is vital to the growth of an enterprise. Introducing daily soap operas targetting the country's middle class petticoat brigade housewives and their mothers-in-law, Ekta Kapoor turned the fortunes of a dying family business. Churning out products involving women who were either extremely dumb or extremely spiteful, industrial houses where takeovers could happen in a 4 hour period, where the ladies still spent all their time in the kitchen, wearing kanjeevarams and dangling magalsutras, she indentified a market that would eagerly lap up the trash her production house was churning out. However, expecting even that market segment to still be loyal to version 1.0 was pretty naive. Just to bring new products into the market, she launched clones of the previous products, for lack of an innovative product idea. Back in the early years of the decade, she was looked upon as an entrepreneur of great skill, with even the Times magazine running a feature on her. What followed countless K-serials later, was a court battle after her 8 year long daily soap was unceremoniously terminated along with the exclusivity contracts. With the stock prices having crashed and all the recent productions tanking, it seems Balaji telefilms is heading towards its demise.


I am home, have nothing much to do. I am not supposed to be disturbing my kid sister who has her pre-board examinations a week from now (that she chooses not to study of her own accord is something my parents refuse to believe). Anyways, watching television seems to be the only pastime available, as I have realized how useless net seems to be without being accompanied by our LAN. In spite of countless shows running on an infinite number of television channels, all I feel like watching are FRIENDS re-runs and Best of FRIENDS on Star World and Zee Cafe. The series still appeals, even though I have watched the various seasons again and again. Some products just happen, pretty much like a Black Swan event. Probably because it was the first of its kind or because every character was so endearing or whatever the reason, none of the countless me-too sitcoms that it spawned off could attain the cult-like status achieved by FRIENDS. My mom still cant understand why people were so attached to the series and its characters in the first place. Maybe I can, since I know now how friends can form a support system, become a kind of a substitute family, when you stay away from home, with an unspoken agreement saying I'll be there for you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wanted: PR Consultants for the Indian Government

The Indian bureaucracy and the police establishments should feature in case studies on "How to most effectively put both your feet into your mouth". Nowhere else in the world do we have investigating agencies sharing evidence and snippets on an ongoing investigation especially those pertaining to national security. The Indian police and government machinery is so eager to prove that they are not as incompetent as they are believed to be that they end up proving the charge to be correct. A proper approach would require the establishment to follow the classic JFK media policy: Minimum information with maximum politeness. Here, our officers are free not just to discuss crucial evidence on camera but also share their theories and future lines of investigation (and they have apparently been selected to the services through a rigorous examination system testing their intellect). While discussion of cases like the Arushi Talwar murder case botched up an investigation and helped murderers walk off scott-free, there is much more at stake when information related to concurrent operations and investigations involving national security are shared. The most recent case is the well publicized arrest and subsequent release of the RAW agent who had supplied SIM cards to the terrorist cells. It takes a lot of effort and risk to plant undercover agents in the field, after all, it is only through information gathered from covert intelligence sources that terror attacks can be prevented. But it takes only the stupidity of the Indian Police Force to blow up the cover, and that too on national television. Arresting an agent planted by your own intelligence unit can be circumstantial. But publicizing him as a terrorist in front of national and international media requires a really high level of dumbness that can only be achieved here. God save them, and us.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pan IIT 2008

This might probably come as a surprise, since I used to be among the first to get irritated with the way the PanIIT Summit was being organized, esp with an hour worth of work taking a full day. To add to that, it appeared as if it would be just a 3 day reunion/social networking gala while pretending to be a show of certified biggies discussing seemingly serious stuff. Well ,the shows over and, for a change, I admit, I was wrong. Sure, the summit is more about bringing together alumni and current students affiliated to the 7 campuses of the Indian Institutes of Technology, to have fun and they definitely do discuss who eventually married who after having dated whom, there is more to it that that. The 3 days are a means of meeting some really really amazing people. They do not all have to be high flying MDs and CEOs (though most of them are), whoever they are, there is something really endearing about each and every one of them, something to take home from every single encounter. The thing that really warmed my heart was probably seeing the likes of Santhanam, Sarath Naru and others, who, in spite of having been excessively busy in their professional lives, still wanted and managed to invest time and effort into organizing the show and pulling it off, really well, all out of the sheer attachement for the insti, something I'm probably beginning to feel, now that the time for most of my close friends to pass out draws near. IIT isnt just about being the toughest college to get into, there's something really positive and undescribeable attached to it. Have a feeling I'm gonna miss this place after all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

First Crush

Probably the very first love story I ever came across ( SRK-Yash Chopra stuff does not qualify as a love story). I was 13, just moving into my teens, apparently able to discern some of the emotions portrayed in the book, and I fell in love for the first time. The only trouble was that every other female I knew had fallen in love with him upon their first encounter. Right from my mother, my friends to, later, my kid sister. Fitzwilliam Darcy was not the kind you would fall for in the first meeting. He was arrogant, kind of difficult to please and basically a snob. But gradually he warms his way into your heart. His endearing care and concern for Lizzy, going out of his way for her, without expecting anything in return, will eventually make you fall in love with him, make you wish you were his Elizabeth Bennet. Sad, they dont make them like him anymore. I have, of course, read and re-read the book several times over these eight years, the latest being last night, and I am amazed, pleasantly, at how it still makes me feel. Probably the only thing SRK ever got right in his love stories was this: You'll always carry a torch for your first love ;)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Confessions to a Serial Womaniser

Confessions to a Serial Womaniser: Secrets of the World's Inspirational Women
by Zerbanoo Gifford

What links a hugging saint, a ground-breaking scientist who took on the multinationals, a French Resistance heroine who took on the Gestapo, a judge who took on Saddam Hussein, a high flier who was educated by an elephant, a spiritual giantess who danced with Fred Astaire, the original Cosmopolitan Girl, a politician who lives with two Oscars, a Bollywood actress worshipped by millions, a Chinese entrepreneur immortalized on a postage stamp and a princess who is able to touch her nose with her toes?
Some of the extra ordinary women one'll encounter in this amazing journey of a book which contains the wisdom of over 200 of the world's most dynamic women, from over 60 countries, who speak frankly about everything: their mothers, families, education, men, gurus, love, feminism, fairy stories, failures and successes. In an era that worships celebrity, this is a celebration of true celebrities - women who will leave a lasting legacy enriching the lives of future generations.
An amazing book, it helps understand the real meaning of achievement. It empowers and enriches you from within in a weirdly undescribeable way. A must read for everyone, man, woman alike.

Of Glamour and Grace

There have been innumerable women who have been termed as "wow" women from time to time. The media as well as the masses today categorize the sultry hot bods as being wow. I mean comeon, there is more to feminine charm than pouty lips and a statistic represented by three numbers. True female beauty is about grace, poise and elegance rather than brazen sex appeal. The likes of Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra, Angelina Jolie and the Victoria's Secret brigade can never stand a chance in front of a Maharani Gayatri Devi or a Jacqueline Kennedy. Its more about the carriage than what you carry around that counts. Unfortunately, couldn't get my friends to agree. I asked one of my friends, "Wasnt Audrey Hepburn beautiful?". "Well", was his reply, "she certainly looks graceful, but is flat." So much for guys.

Recession is Good

Before you all choose to hunt me down for this utterance, pray read on:
Some of the deepest recessions that hit the global economy during the past few decades have given the world companies which we are today proud of. These successful giants trace their origins to the financial mess that has plagued the world from time to time.
1. IBM: founded as the Tabulating Machine Company during the recession of the 1890s, incorporated its present name in 1924, during the Great Depression
2. Hewlett-Packard: born at the end of the Great Depression in a Palo Alto Garage
3. Microsoft: the company that rules close to 90% of the world's desktops was founded during the economic crisis of 1975
4. Symantec: one the largest companies offering information security solutions, Symantec Corp was founded in 1982, when the world was reeling under the deep financial crisis of the 1980s
5. Wikipedia: Founded in 2001 following the burst of the dotcom bubble, the company rode through the post 9/11 recession due to its non-profit structure

Courtesy: indiatimes infotech

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jurassic Returns

The period 230 million years ago to 65 mya was characterized by gigantic fearsome beasts walking the earth. But then an asteroid hit and all changed. The dinosaurs went extinct . The smaller mammals, on the other hand, survived on the frugal resources and also made a feast out of the carcasses of the dying dinosaurs.
Yes, the Jurassic age is back, or at least the end of it is back. With all due respects to the Lehmano-Rexes and Citigrouposaurs of the world (May they R.I.P.), its time for the smaller firms to grow and flourish eventually. The small shall rise. I hope my disheartened friends sitting for campus placements got the message

Friday, December 5, 2008


How much of enough is ENOUGH? This is a question that has been receiving a fair share of mileage in rallies, the media as well as personal conversations. The Indian Civilization, inspite of being among the oldest in the world, is one that has never been an aggressor. Of course, we have been invaded, plundered and colonized by several parties, ranging from Qutb-ud-Din Aibak to Babur to the British. We have socially evolved in a way to appear unfazed by everything. We have been a society that has, always, been able to, what is usually called, "move on". Floods and earthquakes ravage us, but we still find the courage to pick up the threads and start over. Serial blasts rip through the city, we still take the same metros, on the same routes,, the very next day. To a point, its a boon. We are a society that tries to take everything in its stride. It is probably what gives us the strength to fight and bounce back. But beyond a level, this resilience becomes a weakness. VJ Luke Kenney, as a panelist on NDTV's We The People, said that he was 13 when he encountered his first riots, he took the train the next day after the blasts, he too, like countless others, thought, "hota hai". And that, he believes, was his mistake. If we ourselves are fine with the terror atrocities being inflicted upon us and do not protest, why in the name of Christ would anyone else care. We are covered by a thicker skin as compared to many, but that does not mean that driving knives through it is acceptable. Our so-called resilience should not be mistaken for indifference or weakness. We must make it very clear that it's "not ok" this time. We shall make conscious efforts not to move on, to ensure that such incidents do not become the order of the day. As one Mumbai based entrepreneur correctly remarked, "Its high time we went from being resiliently defensive to resolutely offensive".