Saturday, October 11, 2014

Basking in the glory!

Hurray time for people in India as the news of Nobel peace prize sets in. I will be lying if I said, i knew Kailash - in fact I knew Malala because of recent media coverage. There will be blogs, articles and many write-ups now on Kailash Sathyarthi. Discussions on how India's 28 million kids of age 6-14 are working in India, some will be bashing as usual the man at the centre, some will be debating H-M combination that the Nobel committee mentioned, a few like me will be reflecting tangentially on a related subject. Anyway...

I did something that annoyed a few people around me and I am wondering why? this is what I did, if you are weak-hearted, don't read further:

I have a pet and been nurturing it well. I decided to teach the pet some clever tricks to keep it occupied; some people who came home appreciated the pet and 'me' for 'my efforts' - I felt really pleased about myself. Though the pet was doing those tricks, I was enjoying its new found glory. So I decided to take it a better master and helped it learn/show off those tricks. Obviously the fame multiplied and things started paying off.  However the pet was now tired and got bored of these tricks - however will I let my new-found fame let go?

I was blinded and did not see that I am hurting its mental health, not only that the pet started gaining an ego and it also lost a few good friends in the neighbourhood. Frustration started building up. As far as I am concerned, I am working hard for the pet to learn more tricks and be well known in its circle, whereas the pet was losing its social circle, sometimes delivering those tricks well, sometimes miserably failed and people laughed at me. The vicious cycle went on and on until one day the pet got tired of me and deserted me.

The same people who appreciated me started flipping their tongues other way; started blaming and foul-mouthing me. They said I am such a bad pet-owner that never really cared about the pet, but it was all about boosting my ego and myself than really caring about the cute little pet.

I am wondering what did I do? I loved the pet so much, fed it nicely, dressed it up, spent my time and energy to help the pet learn new tricks, took it around the neighbourhood to show its talents. I was only meaning well to the pet. The same people who clapped, cried and appreciated me are throwing brickbats at me? Many people secretly yearned that they couldn't have a pet like that and chided their pets and nudged them to be like my pet - now they have all left me in a lurch.

I was so depressed that not only I lost my new found glory, but more importantly my loveable pet - what am I going to do? In addition the blue-cross is at my door steps to investigate - I might face a jail too.

I hope this story doesn't reminds you of this recent incident (click here to know) or brings any uncanny resemblance, I am not responsible. Please note the above story is not true but I was reminded when I read how Kailash Satyarthi got a Nobel peace prize for helping recover poor children from labour. By no way, I mean the incident in the link is about child labour, but more importantly is linked to better mental health for kids.

I only wish, that all children grow along their age curve, enjoy their pranks and time - while we talk about work life balance, we also should bring a healthy grow-play-learn balance concept for our young ones. May peace be upon you!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Newspaper is dead, Long live the 'New' Social-e-Paper

Blog gist: In the technology driven, Information anywhere world, newspapers need to reinvent how they communicate, focus on new concepts, (drop the 'Know your English' mentality) and time is an essence - tell the story real quick - just don't be a Modi basher and learn it from Rajnikanth's Kochadiiyan. psst: who are the two anchors who have resigned/gone on a month unpaid holiday!!

Now over to the full story:
The Hindu newspaper was a precious commodity at our house. The head of the family had his first rights to the paper - After a customary glance through news and other sections, the paper would be neatly folded back and on its place fresh. Then the elder brother ran through the sports pages and back in its fold.

Being the last in pecking order not only for the family but to The Hindu as well. I started reading The Hindu when I was 8 or 9.  Typically the interest started from the reverse sections of the paper - sports pages. Then moved on to 'This day that age', S&T, Tuesday's Know Your English, Friday's Entertainment, Sunday Magazines and I finally grew up to reading the political sections. By the time I started reading the editorial, lead or open column I would have been probably 17.Retaining the fresh look and returning to its folds took me years to learn. I used to be awed by how my father could read it even in a windy bus drive and retain its fold. 

There was a brand to The Hindu, a societal elitist look on you if you were known to be an avid reader. Whereas some of my father's friends read a dusty Indian Express who would frown upon, but still secretly look up to The Hindu reader's for its English panache.

Fast forward 20 years: I am not an avid reader of The Hindu anymore. Profession facilitating travel around the globe led to reading The Washington Post, Financial Times, The New York Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent and recently The Daily Sabah too. But to be honest, I have stopped reading these papers and use technology to bespoke relevant news as a summary.

In addition I have a set of blogs and also Apps that filters and gives me the essence. As if this is not enough, I have my own sources of "grapevine providers" So you can say I am actually a news-junkie and not only that, you can also say I am a new world order- Fast News Junkie.  (like a fast food junkie) and I don't have time!

This morning I decided to take it to the 1990s style and woke up with e-Hindu. I read a good write up from by Shiv Visvanathan. After many years, If anything hasn't changed it is The Hindu. Apart from a short-period of their interesting ads and their bold take on to the TOI plus a few aesthetic bits, nothing has changed fundamentally. Hope my above write-up gives them a dose of what is already happening to the "Media" and what is more to come.

I actually wanted to write a "closed" letter to Mr Shiv Visvanathan. But why not make it a bit more interesting with my own view of The Hindu and use his article as a means. I used a summariser app and the gist provided by an app: 

  1. Acting as the vector of a new generation, Mr. Modi decimated the Congress.
  2. Watching the rituals of Delhi one senses, first, signs of doubt, about the paucity of new ideas.
  3. In this scenario, Mr. Modi as the new Patel rules instead of an adolescent Nehru (Rahul Gandhi) but the categories are not different
In less than a fortnight this gentleman has passed on the verdict. However in order to pass his views, he has used language to his best use. "If one looks at it starkly, India stands between a desiccated left and an inflated right. Yet, one stands at a time when the left and the right as ideologies or problem-solving solutions are outdated. The nature of history has changed and Mr. Modi’s moves look outdated." 

So let me say through the closed letter to Shiv, that this blog is not about Modi or defending his nascent government. It is about highlighting that Shiv's profession may be teaching, but his pastime of writing articles in newspapers is under threat.

"The News Paper is dead, Long Live the social-e-paper!"  If he looks abstemiously in to my above write-up this will be clear.

  1. Those days of long winded flowering articles are fading. Like the Cricket Test matches, they may provide a platform to enjoy the technique of writing, but IPL has come to stay - so a new social news order has come to stay.
  2. The ideology of left vs. right has been dead with Cold War v1.0 and the v2.0 is about capitalism and naked truth is nothing but that. Even though left had a presence in India, contrary to popular belief India has never (in my opinion) understood either left or right wing politics - Simply because those models have never been described by any statesman or proponent to India and its polity. There were some notable names, but these Models were never explored even as a proof of concept, let alone an actual implementation. 
He then goes on to discuss the problems in a set of 3 triangles - The first triangle (allegedly inspired by French Revolution - which is the need for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity), Second triangle (Industrial - Productivity, growth and efficiency), but instead of projecting the third problem, he says it is the third solution!!! Which is Uniformity, Governance and Security.

So for the above problems or the needs, he outlines three solutions

  1. A Social Contract  which brings Nature and Ways of livelihoods
  2. Democracy as electoralism must go instead should be seen as plurality
  3. Technology blend of culture into a cultic religion: Technocratic-fundamentalism
Unfortunately my summariser app has chosen to omit his above "innovative" thinking altogether.

  1. People across the globe largely have moved to left-centre or right-centre. So he has decided to bring new concepts which make little sense to me, if in fact he has really found some new concepts, then he should work hard to share  them much more succinctly.
  2. Like the politics, Media is also changing, the news consumption is changing.
I see three problems here and let me explain using Venn diagrams. Even though Shiv talked about three triangles and forgot to mention one, I am going to use Venn's Circles.

So the first set is whether one wishes or not, technology has changed the world and will go on changing it as it did in the Mechanical and Computing Industrial revolutions. The new world order of "social media" has arrived. 

The second circle that cuts into first circle is, the way people consume news, consume information and more importantly the way people will analyse news means the Media outlets have to work hard in bringing out "quality debates" - they have a choice of a) run a 24x7 news channel that has a set of anchors shouting at 9PM every day or b) to bring new world-order news consumption techniques.(grapevine: and as I write this, I hear two lead-anchors have resigned from CNN-IBN nothing to do with their "high pitch debates" - they have apparently gone to a month unpaid holiday)  

Three, sorry unlike Shiv I don't see a third problem Grrr. (Mixing humor, so keeping my reader's attention) Actually the third problem is we don't have time, so make your point very quickly or pitch a point in 1 minute elevator pitch and maybe we will come again tomorrow to read your full story. 

With the above three problems, I see three areas for change.
  • The Hindu and Shiv instead of debating about politics, should first think about renewing its communication mechanism,  story-line vs. actual content of article, using pictures or other means to share new topics. Originally The Hindu was just a newspaper, then it introduced Sundays, then Tuesdays, then Fridays, then a supplement every day. In a similar manner, try to change your communication models to the new world order
  • As you pitched yourself as a quality paper (as opposed to the likes of TOI), try engaging the audience with quality debates by encouraging new order concepts, keep the language really simple and don't regurgitate words. Know your English era is fading, there are many other ways now people can learn better English. So drop your English panache and focus on real ideas.
  • Time is an essence, before publishing try using a summariser app to see if the real message comes through. As highlighted above, Shiv's message only shows his bias about Modi when I ran his article through the summariser. If he was truly trying to engage the audience about new type of politics and nation building then the proof of the pudding is out there - his message has been omitted in algorithimisation (yes I can make up some new words like Shiv - and wake up the techncrati is going to rule the world whether you like it or not) -
So if you don't want them to rule and if "this type of world view was thought to be more dangerous than any secularism that you and your friends might have espoused", then wake up, learn the new tricks to stop them. Hope my write-up makes sense and The Hindu reinvents itself. Also please use http://freesummarizer.com/ to see if my message is conveyed - try to shrink it to 5 sentences and see if the gist conveys my message :)

Finally a joke to finish the order of the day (truly from Facebook). Apparently the media has junked "Kochadiiyan" that the graphics looks like amateurish and the film quality was not to its expectation and cannot match to the Hollywood grandeur and so on and on. This social-media junkie  rips apart and truly reflecting to the new world-order expectations that "We also expect our Indian media and news channels to be like the NY times, the CNNs, the BBCs or the Al-Jazeeras' - but what do we get? Shrill pitched anchors and garbage news! - so are we complaining that we don't get international quality media and news outlets - No! - Just keep quiet and move on!...."

Anyway somehow got Rajini and Deepika's photo to get more coverage to my blog! Vaybara Gaantham-appa... (Business Magnet) - If you have fully read this write-up to the end, then I have succeeded in the new-news world!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Good Morning 'Modi'fied India

Assuming exit polls are true, tomorrow will undoubtedly be a good morning and a dawn to India.  I moved out of India when the previous NDA government was midway in power and hope to go back when they are back in power!

5 key takeaways if the polls results lean towards a majority vote to BJP+

1. EVM cannot be tampered? If it is a hung verdict like 2009, then this scepticism will go up, if not it will vindicate the EVMs

2. It is indeed a Modi wave - After 1984 there has never been a majority. In the new social media age, with so much changed, getting a majority in India is actually a wave but not a clean sweep. Yes a wave gently brushes your foot and removes what's underneath your foot, doesn't sweep you off like a tsunami

3. India's democracy will be going through its fifth major cycle of change. From the Nehruvian to Indira to Rao to Vajpayee to Modi. However as a political cycle it will set foot onto a federal set-up from a central (till Indira) to regional (till MMS).

4. India will it become the 1980s China? Ushering a growth not only for itself but to the wider global-economy?

5. A proper rule of law might finally happen. I am already hearing that many groups in Delhi are facing the unknown and are clueless on their next strategy. They have all along played chamchas and will be uprooted.

In fact Delhi will not be the Capital any more!

All the best India.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

3 Reasons Who Should Govern India Next

Short snappy recommendation - Give BJP your vote

1. Let me tackle 2002 straight away: In spite of 10 years of congress led full-focus investigation, an iota of tenable proof has not been found; so I believe  BJP's PM candidate is not at blame yet. Re. Apology, yes he should do - but if almost an entire nation has hounded someone for more than decade, it is the Nation that should first Apologise and then expect one back.

2. Change can be better implemented only if the governing team has a bit of freedom to handle - So stability and majority is key; From this perspective BJP should be voted to Majority - for people who are concerned about possible repercussions, After 12 years No Riots in Gujarat is the proof of pudding. So for BJP to implement things better vote for them to be in Majority

3. No other viable alternative (NOTA) is to be seen as OOTA - Only Other Tangible Alternative. When you have a narrow set of choices e.g. one is unwell, and in alternate set of medicines, there is only one option that is available; with that there is a threat of cancer (i will use Media's analogy - but personally I don't believe so) - but the probability of success is high too.  - So VOTE 4 BJP to win in Majority.

Thank you.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Kedi's Day Out 2014

It was an event too good to miss; fortunately I was in a position to make it to the Kedi's (Rowdy's) Day out - an alumni of JHSS 10th class batch especially for the D section gang with a couple from other sections too.

When the day was organised, in my hearts and hearts I wanted to go. But my personal situation had constrained me until the last moment. But things turned in my favour and I booked in Air India and flew to Chennai.  It was a short 8 days trip with jam packed schedule. In addition the alumni event was also packed with a strong agenda.

When one expects so much, something is bound to go wrong. You may have guessed it right, if you had paid attention to previous para - I booked my trip with Air India. The dinner was horrible leading to a food poisoning to a few passengers. For some reason just after a mouthful of that dinner, my gut instinct warned me. I too fell sick with a bad headache. Luckily, I stabilised and more to my surprise landed half-an-hour early. I pranced around happily with a confident feeling to reach the event; but I was greeted with a delay message by 3 hours, that meant I had to spend 6 hours at Mumbai, more importantly, my plans were going to go astray.

It was painful, but I decided not to get frustrated. And just on a day like this, everything worked perfectly. I was the first person to clear immigration checks, one of the very first to get my baggage and someone assisted me in transferring my baggage to Chennai. So with all those tasks complete in less than 30 minutes, I went around an almost empty Mumbai airport (as it was 4AM). Then I found a nice food-court, ate Idly (just to be safe); I got a free internet log-in for 30 minutes, but alas only 30 minutes. Ha there were lot of free daily newspapers. I read same news from different dailies; tried even spelling out each syllable and read a Hindi daily (Dainik Bhaskaran). How else do you kill time? I took a quick shower, changed my clothes, tried a bit of hustle with Air India to put me on earlier flight - well nothing worked.

Finally landed at Chennai, visited a couple of close friends (due to a particular situation that I cannot share it in the blog, I prioritised to meet those friends first), then went over to meet my family.

At last, onto the highlight of the day/trip to Kedi's Day Out!!

My heart skipped a beat as I walked into the lift at the venue, can't explain how it felt - There were many thoughts. These are my friends from kindergarten days.The first 13/14 years of my life had been with these guys.  It is special, they knew everything about me, they know the Original Bajji (my name in school)! No Fake, Pure Bajji!!

Not many would have reflected this view. I think one is too naive to be fake (aka Matured) in their first 12-14 years of life - especially if one grew up in a remote town like Neyveli. So meeting such friends is always special with so much hype and expectations, It was exciting. What if they judged or rejected me, worse didn't recognise me at all? What if there was an awkward silence - then in a split second, I realised, I am not judging anyone and I was going there plain simple, so they would be the same - coz' this friendship was built on foundational days - so nothing would be judgemental or awkward. I can be myself.

As these thoughts resolved, I exited the lift and there was a hurrah when they saw me. It was hugs, pats and kicks that I gave them a pleasant surprise to everyone and a great feeling. As usual the Kedis started chitt-chatting about yester-year mischiefs etc. Interestingly we remembered most of our teachers (even though we were notorious) and their impact on us.

I was one of the last guys to leave. It was close to midnight and as I walked back (nervously - mainly because of the street dogs), I reflected the day. We had shared our personal stories, a few friends came on line via Google hang-out and it was truly a global get together. One thing stood common, some of us were top scorers, some like me were all over the place, some average rank holders. But today we were all accomplished or to put it exactly - satisfied with what we are! all of us had hit some or other stumbling roadblocks; but we chose to work hard to overcome those challenges and difficult phases in life.

That presents a perspective, life's experiences and one's approach to take on those situations makes you who you really are. We still haven't figured it all, there were few more hurdles to be removed. One thing was sure, we may have 'matured' to world's expectations, but the Kedis were all about fun. It was better than American Pie reunion. It is real!

They say if you are friends with someone for 7 years, then it is a friendship for life, so in my case these guys are friends in this and next life! This is a special post to my Kedi friends. I am proud of you guys!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

AAP: Ada Assattu Pasanga Party

It happens only in India - Govinda's infamous song comes to my mind as I see the comedy show AAP. If anything AAP has achieved, it is that they have underlined their stupidity, in-experience and have made sure, no new party can rise to challenge of BJP & Congress for the foreseeable future.

I have expressed previously that I am not a great fan of Gandhi's "adam-pudikkum" non-cooperation movement, even though it helped us to get freedom. It is a bad practice and a bad example for not only kids but also for democracy. Anyway it worked in 19th/20th century, but it is not a valid tool anymore. Today for every other challenge one does a dharna in India. In the absence of an information medium, one man fasting and dharna created ripples, but today you have the instant judge and lightning fast judiciary arms such as 24x7TV, Twitters and FB's. If a message needed to be conveyed and acted up on, it can be made possible. Instead what does AAP do? Dharna!!! I digress...

Modi has been Gujarat's CM since 2001 and has successfully implemented some or other schemes (because the moment Modi's achievements are mentioned, someone will come with a % based statistic to disprove - btw % is one of the most abused measure). Except for a few, most would agree that he has delivered 24x7 electricity, Sabarmati re-furb and a few other schemes... More importantly no riots since 2002;  in addition he has convinced his party across multiple states (Gujarat, Goa, Maharastra, Bihar hmm actually, all of BJP's state functionaries) PM nominee and all these in highly charged hostile, step-motherly environment.

Compare that with this guy AK from AAP; An IIT-ian, and also an ex-IRI fellow. or Compare him with UP's CM...

In spite of the hostile environment, did Modi not participate in democracy? did he not go to all-CMs meeting? (Unlike JJ from TN, Modi never walked off  from the CM's conference or sent a second rank minister) did he not meet our MMS - 'Mutta Mestri' Singh and seek solutions for Gujarat? Even though he received very little help from MMS & Co. He has done something... Has he not? Instead of tearing up the letters from Centre (like our RaGa), Modi always engaged Central government and persevered. Think along these lines, one would see that Modi is a better democrat and a governor.

AAP and AK have taken Gandhi (I mean Mohanchand not Rahul) and applied his idea directly. It is akin to a developer copying code, without realising the context...(I have copied code, but will fully re-modify ;) )... The point is Dharna would take you only that far; Gandhi himself was well aware of its value and hence he went to the round-tables and other participative means to keep the conversation going. Also a less discussed fact that Gandhi was the power centre and he allowed other leaders to join the government, embed the party leaders into governance(even prior to Independence). If AK had truly understood Gandhi (Mohanchand & Sonia), he would have let Yogendra or someone else become the CM and remain as AAP's functioning party leader. Thus he could have kept the movement going (if it was his primary motivation). This guy has gone overboard and will soon lose his sheen, dampen aspirations further.

India needs better governors, not these Asattu pasanga...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Operation 6 year old - Success

I decided to test it on my 6 year old to see if he has got it. My parents should have let me taken this test, but those days we never had these much challenges. So unfortunately I took these tests only in my teenage and not to mention, I failed and still appear to these tests once in a while. A trifle satisfaction is that my wife also appears with me to take these tests and fail 'em but these days very rarely but still continue to appear. That's one advantage of marriage (I don't know why, but we spend money and still take it, with the HOPE that one day we will learn our lessons finally).

But as the next generation starts, I wanted him to take it up early in his life - if he passed it, then life-long it will be a lesson and if he didn't then, we got another one to join us for the next sitting.

This all started when one of our friends suggested this idea. What are friends for? Recently they moved back to UK after a couple of years in India. They were sharing these wonderful stories about India, malls, movies, and pani-puris. Apparently their boys had taken these tests in India and are used to it. Believe me in India, a lot of kids these days go take it, just so much peer-pressure! They talked my boy into it and he was really looking forward to it.

On Sunday they joined us for Lunch and the boys though they knew it from their previous experience, they really didn't know what they were getting into this time. We allowed them to play XBOX and fed 'em with good lunch. Good Parenting you see, no pressure. My 6 year old boy was kind'a excited and was ably joined by other two kids. The rush was setting in.

It was time!

We drove in two separate cars and reached the hall, got the necessary passes. The kids wanted a treat before going into the hall. We as mature adults, didn't budge - It was a clear NO. They will have to go into the hall for 3 hours of tests and may be in between at the break, they can get an ice cream. Poor kids - the phrase Bakra came to my mind.

As usual, we went and sat in the back row. (Ah always back-benchers) and my 2 year old didn't know what was happening, she got scared a bit. Poor thing, she didn't know she will be subjected to such a severe test when she turns 6. Who knows may be early too. My boy kept nagging me. Any one who's been to a test before sure knows that last minute tension and stress. There may be a few minutes to start, but you would better like it just start and get on with it. So, I understood his feelings and was very supportive. After all, with so much pressure on a 6 year old these days.

It was time. The test had just begun. Boys were initially quite happy to take it, but within half-an-hour, they were exhausted. Given that we grown-ups had been taking the tests for 15 years, we were trained to the necessary stamina and resilience levels. But after 45 minutes or so, even we couldn't take it. My friends' wife, who really likes these tests - she herself couldn't take it.

Luckily my boy, he had a brilliant idea to get out. He raised his hand for a wee-wee; I happily took him out. This probably was one of the rarest moments that I had taken him happily to the loo even without the missus pushing me to do it. Wifey was fuming because she couldn't grab the opportunity as she was having the 2 year old who was sleeping like an angel. I mentally noted, sleep my dear little one. One day you will go through this pain and I am sorry. It is for your betterment.

Fortunately we had the break between the tests and all of us rushed out with a deep sigh. My friend and I were discussing strategies for the next half of the tests - the boys were tired, but were looking forward to the ice-creams. Then it started again - My son he couldn't take it. He begged, pleaded - Nope I didn't budge. I decided - he just needed to stay in there till the finish and it will be a lesson fulfilled for his whole life. He was really frustrated. He might have thought I am the worst dad in the whole world. Never mind, one day he will thank me.

Shrewd guy that he is, threw a master strategy back - He said if i just stay in here till the finish, will i pass? I said yes, then he said, give me your phone and let me play a game. I said, Ha but my loan phone (as Nokia & Vodafone have ruined my smart phone) is a basic one. He said never mind, "give me the phone, I will just play a very basic game of popping the bubbles, let the time run out and I will come out fully passed. I swear will never ever come to a Tamil cinema especially this guy Vijay's movies" - Jilla Nee Jeichuttada! (Click here)

Post-Script: We adults have not yet learned the lesson after Sura and such movies - we continue to waste time & money on it. So it was my way of teaching my son a valuable lesson. If you are young and not a teenager, your mind will still be healthy and will reject crap. My 6 year old boy did it. He sat there bravely for three hours and I am sure will never set foot on the movie halls any more.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mumbai T2: Why do we need to spend lavishly?

My friends in India are quite pleased about the way T2 has been done. Needless to say that Media are
excited about T2.

The Hindu: "The T2 terminal is touted to be larger than Singapore's Changi T3 (3.80 lakh sqm) and London's Heathrow T5 (3.53 lakh sqm)"

Ibnlive: "The four-storey glass marvel, whose design has been inspired by a dancing peacock"

NDTV: "The terminal boasts of tens of thousands of artifacts and paintings, housing arguably one the largest collections in the world at an airport."

Indiatoday: A three kilometer long 'art walk' titled 'Jaya He' has been built inside the T2. It displays Indian art pieces between the 8th century and 19th century

Is it actually worth it for a developing country like India? While we try and throw spanner into Mangalyaan type of space projects, actually these T2 type of wastages should be culled. This a classic example of just copying existing implementations, with no attention to what is actually required today and in future. Actually India has gone beyond aping the western world's model of airport building.Who defines that airports should be built in such a way? If the passengers can get in and out in a queue, receive their bags in time and fly out & in in-time then the purpose is well served.

I read on the net that people on average spend 4-10 hours on airport layovers. I also understand for Airbus a380  needs more landing space, but where is the need for a lavish layover when there is a billion people in the country who would need a lot more space in future.  There is an argument that if you are stuck in delays, then the layovers could be useful to spend your time. Seriously? I don't think this is a sound argument... if you are stuck because of delays, you may be keen to window-shop but would you go visit the art gallery? I think if you did, you might miss another flight and get further delayed.

Why is nobody thinking about alternate designs and building things suited to Indian context? In fact this should be the case for all countries. When the world is reeling in recession and billions are starving, Countries need to plan and build in a sustainable way. As internet and Kinect type of technologies are enabling virtual presence, business related travel might actually start to drop off over the next few years. Leisure and tourism might be the key travel reasons, Even if this is not the so - why overload airport infrastructure for very little returns? The maintenance cost over years is going to mount on the public. Am I the only one who is concerned about such extravagant, no-purpose layovers?

Let me clarify that I am not against building new terminals or expanding infrastructure, I only advocate for minimalistic and effective use of funds, acreage in such infrastructure projects. There is no point in competing with China or West on these projects. There are also additional indirect expenses like electricity utilisation, people and maintenance costs. This money could have pooled for building multiple bus-stands or local train stations.

Above all, not many would know that India's aviation policy under UPA-2, allegedly 200,000 seats a week has been magnanimously given to middle-east sector through Jet-Etihad deal (Ref: https://medium.com/p/ab752d0cf543). If this is the case, how will T2 operate successfully as a Hub?

Literally on a very bad foundation, a multi-story T2 has been built. Even if the above posture of Jet deal is a farce, still it begs the question - why should India lavishly spend on airports in a needless and meaningless race of sprawling airports? 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 will be a special year for many

I wish 2014 to be a special year for many and my hunch is it will be.

2013 for some reason, has been a challenging year not only for me, but for many of my near and dear ones; also to some of my friends of friends. When such a challenge comes, I only see the benefit, that we will all come better off with the experience. I remember the write-up by Clayton Christensen about how to measure life. Please do read this article. (Click here).

I had 4 clear objectives for 2013. 2 of those have been accomplished, other 2 are in-progress. These are not monetary goals and hence not some thing that can be easily quantified. However the accomplished goals are going to deliver through my rest of my life. With that the case, I am signing off 2013 in a strong state of play.

So why I think 2014 will be special to many?

I admire Aandal  for many reasons. An 7-8th Century Woman mystic who occupies a special place in Hinduism and will always be remembered at the end of every year. A lot of Hindu followers in South India, sing her poems during the month of Margazhi. (December - January).

I grew up in Neyveli in quite a religious context with every morning of this season spent in Krishnan Temple. A special memory that forms part of this season goes back to days when i was about 10 or 11 years old. The cook of this temple fell sick and I was called for help to cook Pongal under his guidance and that also became the starting point of my culinary skills. It was a daunting task given the fact the amount of pongal that need to be prepared and also that it was for public consumption. It may have been under the chef's instruction, but preparing in open fire with very minimal prior experience was a huge ask. I still remember the excitement and nervousness when I was called in for the service. I really don't know till date, why I was woken up at around 3:15 AM and summoned for cooking.

Anyway, this season is always remembered with Aandal and to her paeans. I may not be religious today, but I am a lot more spiritual then i ever was and I owe it to her a lot. When people talk about the plight of Woman in India, I think of Aandal and Maitreyi. Once in India, these two women reached the heights that cannot be described. Also, it allows us to reflect on the society's maturity those days.


Aandal is one among the 12 highly acclaimed poets of Hindu tradition. This is unfathomable feat. Also one of the paeans proclaims that her 30 songs is actually the essence of Vedas and in fact anyone who hasn't read these 30 verses are said to be a burden to earth and its existence. If indeed the society was male-dominated those days, then this achievement gains a lot more respect.

Many have written about her 30 songs (known as Thiruppaavai); I am keen to present my interpretation but will reserve it for another day.
As a gist,
the first 5 stanzas describe the 5 earthly elements and its impact,
the next 10 stanzas attempt to wake up the human spirit to recognize,
the next 1 is to open up the heavenly gates for change,
the following 5 stanzas is to wake up the Godliness,
the next 7 stanzas portrays different abilities of Gods
and the last 2 establishes the Oneness.

The tradition is every one of these stanzas are associated with a day in Hindu Calendar. 2013 ends with the 16 stanzas that attempt to wake up the human spirits and the rest 14 will play out in 2014 January. Today 31st Dec coincides the 16th stanza and it is about her request to open the heavenly portal (metaphorical portal for change). It is hard to miss the symbol as the new year dawns to this change. It is a great coincidence and hence my hunch that 2014 will be a great year for betterment. (btw can one actually explain the reason for hunch?)

So I wish a happy new year 2014 and let this year usher welcome changes to you and all leading to fulfillment. In Aandal's words Let us all be together and happy(கூடி இருந்து குளிர்ந்தேலோர் ); Let the light be with all of us. (எங்கும் திருவருள் பெற்று இன்புறுவர்)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Missus and her friends suddenly turned religious?

Back in India, month of Margazhi is an auspicious time and is dedicated to Godliness. Especially in the yester years, girls wake up early in the morning and do rangoli etc.

This afternoon the missus, her friends and their friends were discussing on the phone about an early morning program. I heard them saying - we should get up early in the morning, quickly bathe, dress-up and be ready for queuing up. They also chatted about their pre-marriage times during Margazhi that it was habitual and used to wake up early during Margazhi, bathe in spite of the cold weather (!) and hence this should help for the next day activity. Hmm I thought what happened to these women? Has the Margazhi month finally made an impact on these women that they have suddenly become so pious...

One of them talked about the fact that crowd and queues can be challenging, that husbands take care of the kids. I got a bit queasy... OMG how am I going to manage a 2 and 6 year old the next day morning. I just nodded uneasily without clues.

Then they started talking that it is once in a year activity and benefits the whole family. So they indeed should go early in the morning.  Hmm the women must be keen to participate in the religious activity and seek blessings for the whole family; if so, then I should take care of the kids.

The next topic was that I should probably make the food, so they can come back around 11 have a brunch and head back. Wow I thought, these women are indeed trying their best, may be catching up the missed opportunities for the whole year and earnestly making efforts to touch-base to their religious side. If this is the case, then somehow I should manage the kids and cook as well. Now they are talking about waking about 4AM or 5AM... They even talked about the point that if they over-slept then may be can queue up after 11 as the crowds would have tamed.

I really felt glad that the missus, her friends have suddenly turned a new leaf and planning to participate in the religious events. I said to myself that the next day must be Vaikunta Ekadesi. So I rushed to check the calendars if it was vaikunta ekadesi - the annual 11th day festival when the heavenly portal opens up and people are blessed. But no it is not ekadesi? So where are they all planning to queue-up?

Apparently Boxing Day sale! Aaha withouth realising this, I promised to cook and take care of kids as well. Worse, the wallet is going to go for a toss! 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Mangalyaan - India's Pride, World's Envy; MAVEN - US be accused of extravagance!

Many a views of have been written about India's space mission to Mars. In Astrology this is the planet that symbolises Ambition & Competition and also known to be the God of Wars. India has successfully launched its first mission towards Mars - Everyone knows that it is THE cheapest amongst all Mars missions but I observed that many media outlets haven't highlighted the important subtle fact that an opportunity to launch Mars missions only occur every 2 years. So If India's ISRO had missed this window, it would have had to wait till Jan 2016.

This needs to be seen in  the context, that the project was approved in Aug 2012 (though studies started in 2010), the team had to work hard to a successful launch by 2013 November -  In a record time, the satellite was designed, produced and put to launch, and remember the team need to work out communication aspects etc (for long range comms) in parallel. (for IT folks, I don't need to mention project success rates, especially if it is the first time!) Though India had already done quite a few space missions, this one falls entirely in a different spectrum. Instead of discussing all the pros & cons about India, I look at it in a different perspective.

Undoubtedly the ISRO team should be appreciated, acknowledged and awarded accolades (a lot of 'a's) - Those guys have really aced it. Request not to view it as an Indian mission, but in a non-partisan way, if a team has achieved a success that has got no parallel, in a true sportsmanship spirit, that team needs to be felicitated and they deserve it.

I would like to close my eyes and think for a minute, if life in earth is really endangered- would I/you travel for an year on a space-craft to go to Mars (assuming we set habitable camp in Mars)? I think the answer is Yes of course. Hopefully that situation never arises. But hey with the way things are going one day having a back-up is necessary. A company might be a start-up and/or really short-cashed, but still they would have definitely built a level of redundancy - now I know where I am going with this, but let me park this thought here, as that line of argument has no end to it (as the redundancy requirement is actually hypothetical, unless someone proves Mars can be inhabited)

But this blog is about a different perspective. So I really want to go back to my previous thought - as ISRO team built Mangalyaan, so did NASA build MAVEN in parallel. However Mangalyaan project's cost was 10% of MAVEN's - The ISRO team, sort of a first timer (as far as Mars mission is concerned) built it in 15 months, at 10% cost of a similar project - If you can't call this an achievement, what else would you felicitate? It has been successful up until now and is in its last but second lap towards Mars - Forget poverty and other clichéd arguments  - This team has done something that needs to be commended! So let us set aside those arguments and let us just give them a round of applause. But why do i keep talking about this team's efforts? What is my truly different perspective here?

A lot of articles and blogs have taken different sides on poverty and India's extravagance in building a Mars mission. So I did something different. I compared USA's GDP, Unemployment, Financial spend for NASA in 1950's. The picture looked bleak and comparable to what India is/was. In a way, one could say that India is like the 1960's US. So what US was doing in 1960, India has achieved a similar feat in 2013. Here my base case is the failed Apollo 13 mission (as James Lovell put it - a successful failure), even though Mangalyaan is still successfully continuing its journey. (Fingers crossed)

The flip-side and alternate perspective that I would like to finally present is that recently USA's financial situation has been a lot worse (obviously) but has spent approx $670M on MAVEN - So, shouldn't the media turn its 'guns' (i.e. the criticism) towards US for wasting the money instead of bailing out its economy? In fact one can argue that US has already been successful in its mission, so why not pause it until its deeply troubled economy starts its way up? I think it is a valid poser to US and media should turn the heat on MAVEN's needs. But instead what does the media do? questions India on its Mars mission...

I can now safely say this, even if the mission gets into a muddle after this point, the world will recognise(!) it as a success. In fact I was waiting for Dec 1st and then put my thoughts, because I wanted to make sure the mission successfully kicked off to Mars from earth's orbit.

For a first-timer to jump 200,000 kms and continue to jump a million kms a day, this is extraordinary. I am sure it will fire up many many young growing minds in India and set a new direction akin to the 1980's/1990's IT Industry led growth. It is truly a small step (and may be an unnecessary) as far as the world is concerned, but a GIANT LEAP for India and its fellow nationals. At least that is the feeling I get from my social media interactions.

On a lighter note: Ha, another outsourcing industry and revenue stream for India! May be, Mangalyaan will become the Nano-car in the space travel:)

Alt. Perspective 1: Kudos to the team for its extra-ordinary achievements, you will fire up the imaginations of many as well as set up benchmarks for performance (This is the different perspective) for other space missions across the world. US,EU, China's Space Project Directors, now you have a target! Watch it you will be measured on these criteria from here on. No pressure!

Alt. Perspective 2: US be accused of extravagance on MAVEN.

Good night!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Sama Veda Upakaram - Update for 2013

I am very pleased to see there are a lot of Sama Vedic people who have recently contacted me. To ensure appropriate communications, please send me an email and I will send the links to you and make you as a collaborator on the google docs - these should display as zip files - Step 1,2,3 & 4.

But before you use these pdf documents, some general comments - I humbly and kindly request you to PLEASE READ These before you do.
  1. These procedures are for the Sama Veda Followers only
  2. Second sub-point is these mantras are followed by Jaiminiya Sutra of Sama Veda only
  3. I am told that only three branches of Sama Veda have survived:
    1. Jaimini, 
    2. Kowthama 
    3. Rānāyanīya 
  4. In order to find your saka - try slowly saying your "abhivadaye" and you can find the Sutra you belong to.
  5. In case you need any help, give me a shout and I can see if I can be of help.
Happy Avani-Avittam for Sama-Vedikas (07-Sep-2013).

Sanskrit equivalent for the year, month, day & star =
Vijaya-nama-Samvatsare (Vijaya named year)
Dhakishna-Ayne (When the earth is is on its southern sojourn)
Varusha-Rithu (Rainy Rithu)
Sraavana-Maase (Month)
Shukla-Paksha (Moon on Waxing State)
Thriuthiyam (Day - three)
Sthira-vasara (Saturday)
Hastha Nakshthra (Star of Hastha)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Suppli Balla" - A new game on the making!

I am enjoying my time off with my son and in order to up the fun, I decided to 'invent' a new game.

One of my childhood stories is about me making a new dish called 'Kaja-Buja'. I guess my skills were quite on display from the very beginning and I have been a 'creator' always. Kaja-Buja tasted yummy to my family members as this was an innovative dish (please ask recipe through email), even though you need a few ingredients to make the dish, you actually don't need fire to cook it. Well, looks like i have been health conscious all the way.

But today I want to proudly share the new game. (my son improvised it as we went through). I also trialed this game at my friends' place with their two kids (doubles version). I should say it was real fun and especially playing it with kids makes it great. So try it with caution, if you have any doubts - you know how to reach me. Any royalty claims belong to me.

What do you need? a ball and the rules. This game has been inspired by Volleyball, Tennis, football, basketball but very little cricket (How could we have a game without the influence of Cricket?). The objective of the game is to keep your score low. Whoever has the lowest score is the winner. In our game room, we made a net using a few play things. This net actually makes the room into two halves. Now the player is chosen by a special toss. Whoever loses the toss  starts the play. The player can use his/her leg, arm whatever and try to hit it on the opposite wall. The opponent needs to stop it - however the main objective is to tease the opponent and try and make sure the opponent touches your side and btw you should not touch or cross to the other side, else you will start to gain points - if he touches your side, he loses, but gains a point i.e. teasing is the most important aspect in the game. Here comes the basketball rule, you cannot hold on to the ball more than 5 seconds, if you do then you have to tap the ball on the other side and try and take it back again.

When you have more than 2 players, similar to power play the tallest player needs to stand behind and protect against the ball touching the wall but with the aim to catch the ball and this player is equivalent to the goal-keeper except he cannot strike the ball but only protect it (basically this is the role for dads). So the kids play in front and keep teasing the other kids in front. Dads, you should resist getting involved and try not score - the role is purely a blocker role like in volleyball. Every time, a person scores by touching the other side, the ball has to be served by the kid who has crossed the line (else, the kid will start crying - so the service essentially goes to the loser!)

So how do you end if there is a draw/rain? This is where Cricket's D/L method comes into play - since we are in England, the rules often come to play because of rain (?? but i thought the game is to played indoors?) The rain, i am talking about is either moms getting really upset by too much noise or one of the kids starts crying like rains! Now you know the game needs to be closed quickly both these scenarios are dangerous conditions to play - so allow the kid to go for a super bowl and announce individual winners and run away - else they will continue to torture you to announce a clear winner - the super bowl technique is just another distraction, before i call it a day and hurry for a wee - now the whole scenario gets messy with you in the toilet room, 4th umpire (one's wife/kids mom) comes into play - She will say enough is enough and the kids quietly dismiss!!! (Enjoy with your kids and feedback for improvising the game, but please don't try it without elders or don't try to improvise by yourself)

PS: Its time to ask me why is the game named "Suppli Balla"
Suppli means a Kid in tamil (nam thai mozhi சுப்பா/சுப்பி - plural suppli, suppli also means "Surprise" in French); Balla means to spar in Hindi (Hamara Rashtrabasha) - Eppudi?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fellow Indians, Cricket and CSK Fans: It's the time to decide!

When news about Sri Srinivasan should have been making us proud, the other Srinivasan is shaming us all over. This blog is an urgent appeal to Indian youth and all, in particular to my fellow CSK fans.

We do not have time as the final is tomorrow and I am requesting you to do something that is going to be against what you all hoped for - Request CSK to NOT play tomorrow but more importantly make sure finals happen between MI vs. RR or MI vs. SRH.

Why? 
1. This is so-called 21st century of India belongs to 65% of Indians who belong to <35 under and most of them would follow IPL. So its time to show whether you like to follow rules and will be against corruption and/or  improbity.

The fight against corruption and malpractices start from you.

What is my logic?
Meyyappan was the CSK Principal till they "erased like a kid at school" the evidences all over the internet and that is an admission of guilt - Nobody can deny this.

I have seen some of my CSK friends post that why not arrest owners of MI/KKR for Vindoos' links, but a wrong cannot correct another wrong. So force the IPL governing body to follow the rules.

If you decide to take cover under technicality and let CSK play the finals - you fail a generation of fight against corruption and malpractices in India. History is watching you.

Finally, even if CSK wins, everyone is going to taint the win and do you need such a win? Instead choose the high road to call it off and to make sure cricket wins, force MI vs. RR or MI vs. SRH - by this option Cricket wins.

So its my plea - force the IPL governing body to change the finals.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Do you relish your paydays anymore? ...


It’s about 10 PM and the night has started off with some strong philosophical debate. I was lost in thoughts about the value of IT, automation and how sometimes the ‘real’ value of humane consciousness may be losing after all! Let me forewarn this is a philosophical yet valuable thought-train for technology leaders and an interesting question for fellow bread-winners to take away…

First the question: are you relishing the salary that you draw especially in current macro-and micro-economic period?
In my school days, I remember how the 1st of month set the expectations rolling and how the family prepared itself to the run up-to an end of month. Planning started at least a fortnight in advance and the joy of being born in a middle class family means – it allows the family members to gain a concept of ‘planning’ – This prepares the younger members of the family to understand the concept of money, planning and more importantly saving. Straightaway as a kid, I got myself the hat of project manager – Planning and Commercial acumen on the mould.

There was a little hum of joy for the first few days, the cash would be counted and the old man would go to a state run bank to deposit… Subsequently this element disappeared as the cheque came through and very soon, the money was directly deposited and cheque as well disappeared, but now there was a payslip.

Fast forward to 1990s when I began to earn. This was a time where IT bloomed in India and I earned much more than my dad would have in a decade – Soon I was in the land of opportunities where the pay cheque was delivered twice a month. The feeling was double and the payslip was a good feel-factor.

Subsequently with good business cases for IT automation and ‘value’ to employee, HR departments have totally done away with the payslips and now it is just a downloadable pdf. The situation is I don’t download the payslip that often. In fact I even forgot the last payday, which is what set these thoughts rolling… I will throw in a piece of info: every month-end, I still review the accounts, debt etc. Anyone who knows me, will surely concur on my management accounting skills and how I apply it on my household finances as well to review my investments and debts… I share this coz’ it’s not that I am at a position where pay-cheques are not important – I give due consideration to finances, but the very fact of automation means that many of you like me, wouldn’t be receiving a pay cheque or a pay slip – so back to my opening question – do you relish your paydays anymore?

How many of you enjoy or carry the feeling of earning money? Have the HR teams made an incorrect decision about doing away with physical payslips – has this concept subconsciously made us the humans lose the very concept about relishing what we earn and would this impact our productivity? According to me, this is quite an interesting concept in the days of ‘everything on social media/cloud’ and ‘smart-computing/tablets’ – How humane are we? How is technology impacting us subconsciously?

PS: If I have money and time, I would be keen to do a research on this topicJ!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why RR have already won IPL6 and IPL is going to change from here on...


T20 games are designed in a way that’s really unfair to bowlers. Coming up with a strategy(s) to win such a format is no mean task. Hey but the world is unfair in many respects i.e. it’s not a level playing field. So having a few tricks up the sleeve is just not enough, but devising a whole new approach is needed. It’s difficult to ignore the ‘Moneyball’ approach in this context.

The ongoing IPL series is turning out to be a good to learn on strategizing strategies and team management. To select a team for such an event is a challenge. Mr Cricket (Rahul Dravid) and co. just spent 10% of the total cash to source a team that started as underdogs and has been on top form. Just yesterday they won against the tournament favourites, top performing and popular CSK (Chennai). There has been some chatter on twitter and such social-media sites about a defensive strategy – personally nothing wrong as I see it.

A subtle thing that I noticed (not many are discussing this subtlety) is the strategic time-out that Dravid called at the end of 9th over. Until then, CSK were sitting merrily and hadn’t lost even a wicket. This time-out in my opinion changed things. I also ask the CSK that if they realised Dravid is applying a defensive tactic by delaying Watson, an option could have been to brig Ashwin early. I guess a smart man like Dhoni knew, that there were very few choices and only wait for chances.

There are some thoughts that play in my mind, CSK, MI and RCB have some very good quality and known players – so they winning the matches and climbing to top is not something a feat. It’s the likes of Rajasthan that sourced unknown players and have gone on to be the top 2nd team. Even if they lose the finals, it doesn’t matter – they have shown ways to tackle an unfair situation to advantage. To show an analogy, currently another unrelated story is doing rounds in local papers in Tamil Nadu – schools select best performing students and coach them to secure state ranks and the criticism is that they should choose average and below average students, coach and make ‘em excel. In a way Dravid & co. have done the exact opposite – they chose a mix of players – some good ones and average ones to go on and win everything that came their way.

These are very valuable lessons that I will apply in future not only in business, but personal choices too.
1.  There is a context for everything and strategy is ongoing, need to be revised continuously – sometimes need to be brave and radical – c’mon it is a huge risk to source a team for 10% of total cash, where the temptation is to go all out and buy top players

2.  Don’t pay too much for the skills – sometimes an over-priced player may not deliver (all that glitters is not gold, also if it’s a tin, you can polish it and sell it as a silver!)

3.  A mixture of skills, with some leadership roles is enough to deliver the magic

4.  Finally – have some secrets up your sleeve!

I think we have a winner for IPL6 - RR... Because the IPL has just got interesting - next year rest of the teams are going to look at their wallets and skills before buying out top players!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Bee for Boss: Don't underline your ignorance

"Don't underline your ignorance" - Those were the golden words from my dad as he was reviewing my test papers. I have mentioned this previously in a post. I remembered this quote again as I read through our "Boss's" speech.
I said to myself: Boss, who is going to call out that the emperor is wearing new clothes?

True to this storyline, no one is calling out that our Boss is not wearing any clothes and parades before the Confederation of Indian Industry, a non-profit body for that works with the government for advancing policies and strategies for all industrial sectors.

In this setting our Boss starts with a storyline that in 1991 people thought we are travelling in elephants and praises the Industry for giving us the advancement, but then goes on to say in 2012 (over 20 years), that a lot of migrants are still travelling in overcrowded trains and shamelessly admits that he, the Boss allowed an empty-pocket entrepreneur to buy him a cup of tea! Please some amateur story writer has penned his speech, apparently he lost it (see above video).

I am shocked how could Congress let loose such a guy on CII? Aren't those CII leaders ashamed? These are top Industrialists and they have lost a few hours. No one has called out and said he is wearing no clothes... How? are you not scared that tomorrow if such a guy leads a government, that your industries may loose out? our Boss will makes us not only empty-pockets but make us buy a chai and say this is the spirit!

Two things to single out from his speech. 1. A man on the white-horse and 2. Bee-hive theory

Re, A Man on the white-horse: Not only in India, but across the world, millions of stories about a single individual in many fields over many years have changed the course of history. We have our own 'Original' MK Gandhi, Narasima Rao (who incidentally started the change in 1991), His great grand-dad, grand-mom all have single handedly influenced the Nation. The point about hearing a billion voices is fine, but even the bee-hive needs one single queen. In the west, there are many such tall leaders like Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Margret Thatcher, etc. who have altered the course of their Nations - in some cases through their teams, in some cases personally leading the charge. Even though Cricket is a team sport, many a times we see and read the Captains knock. - I say Boss don't underline the ignorance. Interestingly towards the end of his speech, our Boss starts mentioning individuals like "Sam Pitroda, Krishnamurthy, Sreedharan, Nandan Nilekani(?! Narayanamurthy?)" - so he is now contradicting his own thought process, where he higlights individuals who have made the change, if instead he had said the organisation names, I would say he believes that no one man can change things...

Re. the Beehive, A writer in the Universal Magazine for May, 1800, has penned:
"Thou art a fool, thou busy, busy bee
Thus for another to toil;
Thy master waits till thy work is done,
Till the latest flowers of the ivy are gone,
And then he will seize the spoil. He, will murder thee, thou poor little bee.”

Does the boss wants India to be like a beehive where the honey is tasted by someone else? In the pursuit to display a fresh and original idea, our Boss has underlined his ignorance about India's complexity and gone with a freemasonary symbolism of beehive - a very old idea. With his mom at the top, using beehive as a symbol is the last thing one would want to choose.

So what is wrong with beehive - this whole concept of colony and society is actually not true in case of bees. Most bees aren't social -- less than 15 percent of bees live in colonies. The rest are solitary. They may exhibit some social tendencies, but they don't build large hives or store lots of extra honey. i.e. 85% of the bees are individualistic and does not work and live together as our Boss thinks! Anyway the idea looks fresh, but the question is does he want all of us to be just workerbees delivering the honey to Queen and her drones? I will leave it to your choice...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good bye Mr Achebe, Things fell apart - a holiday to remember

Almost the same time last year, I was in Peak district with family and friends. The snow hadn't receded, the peaks were beautiful and it was a nice cottage on a picturesque peak! This time we hadn't planned a lot of sight-seeing or any major activities. I had just submitted my thesis for my MBA dissertation and was in a perfect mood to relax. In the cottage, I found a book "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe.

Okonkwo, the lead role of the novel and leader of Umuofia, Nigeria just took me through the book and to much chagrin of my family and friends, I was just reading the book without putting it down! I love books, but very rarely I have motored through books like this. Then when I came back home, I started reading about Chinua and was impressed by this gentleman and his contribution to African and World literature.

I came to know Achebe, Chinualumogu ("May God fight on my behalf")'s "Things Fall Apart" was his first  novel, I was pleasantly surprised; in the sense, how could someone's very first book be so powerful, fluent and  heart-rendering? Just a couple of days before I came to know he had passed away (21-Mar) and went through a feeling that I could not explain. I have a weird thing. I often wish, that I could meet some eminent personalities like Achebe, Yogi-Ramsurat Kumar (YRSK) and a couple of others (I prefer not to mention).
I would have a random thought about these people and would feel an urge to meet them. Suddenly from somewhere, I would then recieve the news that these people have passed away. I had planned a couple of times to meet YRSK and those did not materialize. I literally embarked on a journey from chennai on my birthday 20-Feb-2001 to have a darshan of YRSK and called a friend who was ever-ready to take me to the holy town of Tiruvanamalai. That day even before I called him, the telephone booth owner who had a picture of YRSK told me that Yogi had just passed away.

In a similar vein, I thought of Achebe and said to myself, if at all I should somehow try to meet Achebe in Boston during my trip to the states. But a few days later I hear this news. I don't know how to relate to this.  I was always fascinated by Africa and Achebe's novel multiplied my urge to travel through Africa. I vividly remember his description of Okonkwo taking his matchet and delivering the blow on his son, and then goes on to highlight that Okonkwo did not want him to be perceived as weak. Chilling, but true - I see perception plays a big role in our life!

I am going to buy a few more of his books and I am told Arrow of God is a master piece. Have a safe trip Chinualumogu Achebe, you have done well and your name is etched in the literary world!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tortoise and Hare - The Race Never Ends...

In a FB comment one of fellow FB-ians posted a frustrated note that "Can we outsource our country's governance to some other country ? Will there be takers ?" I read the blog and my view is this another blogger who has done a very basic piece of analysis and concluded that China has won the race and India will be end up second as opposed to Morgan Stanley's view that India will take lead by 2050's.

Surprisingly the blog article is from a regular writer (meant to say not a novice) - Steven Rattner, he led the Obama administration's auto task force, was one of the executives involved with payments under scrutiny in a probe of an alleged kickback scheme at New York state's pension fund, according to a person familiar with the matter. (Link, Link2). But this has got nothing to do with his write-up. I wanted to spice it up and found this allegation.

Anyway I responded to the FB post that The writer misses quite a lot of context and compares a banana and a jack-fruit (!). Like an under-grad student in an analyst intern role, he has blindly compared the statistics.

So why did I say that? Steven himself starts and finishes the blog about the choice of vehicle for development between both countries, In fact to make sure he doesn't get a kick from his elitist club, has dismissed Chinese autocratic regime and puts the disclaimer that he doesn't support it(!)

India has opted for a slow moving, let us call it a "bullock cart" to reach its destination, where as China took a "Maglev". By the very fact that two countries have taken two different mechanisms to deliver its objective, direct comparison is going to give a lopsided view. But still if you insist a comparison, leveling up those mechanisms and reviewing the outputs can help. So how do you level up?

I do these all time in my work when i review IT contracts, procurement, solutions etc. The mechanism can be different, but make sure the inputs to mechanisms that are in comparison are same. i.e. if you are comparing 3 different mechanisms, one should first make sure the inputs to those 3 mechanisms are same, if these are still same and one mechanism provides better result then there is a winner (May be). I would still investigate any hidden assumptions on the winning mechanism to understand why this is different. This basic science lab stuff.

Hence I say Steven's analysis is intern stuff! He is not calling out the inputs before comparing democracy and autocracy. First the context: Did both countries start development at the same time - answer NO! They lag by 15 years. The economic policies and financial management - are the same? i.e. the amount of investment that both countries deploy. Macro-economic situations for both countries may be similar, but by the time China had started its Phase 1 development, Bangladesh war had just finished in India's context, Also China had just screwed up India and not to forget the constant nonsense from the neighbor supported by China. (In fact Chin as it grows, keeps tripping India - bad sportsmanship in a race) The resources as inputs to the mechanism is something that can be contentious i.e. how much raw materials were available to both countries, human power, Industry knowledge, etc. In my view there are lots of lagging factors between the two countries; so with that, comparing these two models are going to be incredibly difficult and most likely are to be subjective. (Same with my blog)

Steven's blog has been reviewed by another blogger - (Fernando Salazar), this guy he adds a simple variant like education. This insight is better and informative in contrast to the bland statistics that Steven has put together. Steven calls himself an economist and God Bless USA. In any field and more particular to economics, when you review macro-models like China and India, it imperative to level the inputs and then get into a study.

But he has just put together measures like GDP, Inflation, Budget deficit etc. and these are current day figures and does not go pack to starting point to show the trace-ability. Reviewing such measures over a time period is a basic requirement to trace the nature of economic levers and this so-called economist has just used a point in time. Also, We all know how % can be misleading. To give an example using his own statistics, the 6% difference in Investment proportion between China and India is roughly $3000/person. That's a whopping big number! i.e China potentially invests $3T more than India. (assumption both countries have a ~1B people). Just as a side note - please look at this study and refer to slide 7. (Link to India start-up report)

Now to the title of this blog, In my view Development is a mirage. I myself have used the word USA is fully developed and i am happy to recall it. Growth always is a cycle of ups and downs. The question I often ask, why do you even need to be in a race? Why shouldn't India take its own time to grow? Another analogy: One could eat well and go to gym and build his/her body alternatively could buy a protein from H&B and pump weights to build quickly - we all know the disadvantages of the artificial growth. Hence I say development is a mirage. In fact Fernando, the Techie sums-up in his blog that "India is a peculiar mix of social democracy" I like his blog better than the so-called economist Steven. I meant to quote in FB that USA has reached its 'developed' country tag and it took them almost 250 years. So the US we say today was not the same as recently as in 1930 i.e. prior to the big depression.

Sometime the path is important for a few, sometimes the results are important for a few but the path is not. I am not suggesting that India has taken a noble path, but India's vehicle of growth is a long drawn one. In such a race, the Hare will always seem to run faster to a set distance, retard for a while, then run faster again, but the Tortoise will keep moving at its own pace, and the Race never Ends!

Post-Script: The writer fails miserably in his writing style as well. First the title that India is losing the race, then ends up saying India will be second... Also he does dilly dally between India's state of affairs in legal, corruption, summary execution and confuses throughout... He is unable to identify a clear state of difference between both countries, but ends up saying India is losing, however doesn't support the autocratic Chinese regime? Sorry Steven a shoddy write-up - change the ghost-blogger, this person is damaging your reputation!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Smartphones in general and especially Iphone5 are stupid...

There are millions of stupid tech-fanatics who support Apple, Android and Microsoft and one of my friends assume I am one of them. I love technology and I used to be a Java fan and then subsequently took to Microsoft but have become technology agnostic. I have now used all the three smart phone OSs and of clear view that officially Apple sucks.

I am really frustrated coz' of the hype that surrounds apple. This friend of mine who talks so much about perfection in apple can't really open his eyes and see that after 6 versions, if keyboard, touch sensitivity and blue-tooth doesn't work to basic standards what's apple doing? really I mean really please...

I had a Nokia 800, I loved it but it had a glorious death after almost 1.5 years. So I replaced it with a 820 - a good model, except blue-tooth and call switching between 3g and LTE was crap. I was fuming the bluetooth in 800 was better, so how come a working feature is let to degrade in an upgraded version? C'mon Nokia and Microsoft just wake up and realise the market is crowded...

Then I chose to go to Iphone 5 (first I-Device) and to my shock the keyboard is crap, Nokia and HTC's keyboard were fantastic - I would personally give it to Nokia.

Bluetooth definitely Samsung and Sony are better i.e. Android, Apple's BT is just crap

Maps - Nokia, Android and Apple - I don't need to mention

Touch sensitivity and swipe - C'mon Apple users need to use Win8 to see how much they are missing, Samsung is also great in this section...

When some basic things don't work after 6 versions why would people be so proud of the device? I have always felt people choose to link themselves with a brand and Apple feeds that.

I can say somethings for sure, the Camera, Web-browsing speed, LTE call-switching are fantastic in Iphone5. But I can compromise on some of those things, however when I travel up and down daily for 2 hours - bluetooth and music are two important things, with no way to control these two issues, I am gutted. I changed the Nokia device just for these two issues, at least in the Nokia device the pause button worked, whereas in Iphone, even that doesn't work!!

This doesn't mean Win 8/Nokia are better - There are no manufacturers yet to take advantage of Win8. In this situation, I should have gone for a safe bet Samsung S3, but hey I thought Iphone was a safe-bet...Now I can't change my phone for another 18 months!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Celebrating a Kerala king's birthday - the one who sang in flowering Tamizh...

Many should have heard the beautiful lullaby rendering by Bombay Jayshree - மன்னு புகழ். Its a lullaby by Kulasekara Azhwar about Lord Rama. 'Kulasekaran' as per history lived approximately 1200 years ago and ruled what is known as Kerala today roughly around the region of Ernakulam. His 105 poems take a special place in the Vaishnava sacred  4000 hymns. An ardent devotee of Lord Rama and Ranganatha has penned most of his poems revolving around Lord Rama, Ranganatha, Venkatachalapthy (Tirupathi), Sowriraja Perumal (Thirukannapuram).

But why mention of this mystic-poet today? Today is his birth-star that appears on a Maasi (Tamil Month) "Punarvasu Star", the two brightest stars (Castor and Pollux) in the constellation of Gemini. Incidentally this is the star of Lord Rama too. I selectively recited few key poems today and was touched. Being a king in the Kerala region which has Malayalam as its lingua, his compostions are in flourishing Tamil.

When I recite such poems, I usually have an eye to notice the contemporary situations embedded in the verses. e.g. In some poems the description of the village and its rice fields, the types of plants, types of insects, people's dispositions etc. can be understood. Interestingly a set of poems about Krishna by PeriyaAzhwar (a) Vishnu-Chithar (1.2-7-4, 1.2-7-6) in first centum portrays two things.

  1. He describes how Krishna stands at the street corner and teases girls 
  2. He also describes how Krishna picks up fight in the street with the wrestlers...

In a way, is he describing the way guys were in 6th Century AD? Also it sounds very much same even today as how Teenagers behave in streets today!!!

In Kulasekara-Azhwar's composition (1.6-1), he sings that sitting on a sandpit, he awaits Lord Krishna takes me back to my childhood days to Neyveli where on one occassion of a Janmashti (Krishna's birthday), impressed by Krishna's valour, and believing my mom's words, I had sat outside on the doorstep waiting for Krishna's arrival. (Now girls should say choo chweeet!)...

It is also interesting to observe, how Kulasekara Azhwar vividly describes Tirupathi, Chidambaram, Thirukannapuram in his poems. Though these are in the context of a Hindu religion and also in Tamil, I wonder, how a King of such stature notices such subtle things, brings philosophic views and renders in a language that is not his native-tongue? In the same vein he also describes his emotions too.

I have always felt such classics can actually be a lens to know our civilization, about our ancestors and useful especially to understand the thinking and interests in that age. This is one of the reasons, that I wish our future generations learn Tamil to actually understand our history and more importantly cherish it.

This azhwar in my view represents a vibrant, positive, nurturing period of south Indian history where the states, its kings, its people, language and different philosophies were simultaneous and harmonious unlike portrayed  by Modern historians.