Sunday, April 19, 2009

The White Tiger



The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is a wonderfully written book which is so readable,full of wit,sarcasm and biting reality. I generally keep away from critically acclaimed books and especially Booker winners but this book is nothing of the sort.It tells the story of one Balram Halwai and his letters to the visiting Chinese Premier(Wen Jiabao) detailing his exploits and the reality of two India's - one inhabited by the rich and full of choices and the other India which is ridden with poverty and where there is no choice but to exist in drudgery.The wicked humour of the narrator keeps one company throughout the book and the book is a joy to read.
In fact the book details Delhi in quite detail and the mention of PVR Saket, Greater Kailash ,South-Ex and Gurgaon adds to the experience for those of us familiar with Delhi.A book that entertains and pains because it brings out the stark realities of life.A book that needs not to be just read but understood.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Theatre of the Absurd ...

The news channels are going on and on about what Mr.Narendra Modi had to say about the Congress Party (he had likened Congress to an 126 year old budhiya) and then the repartee by Ms.Priyanka Vadra Gandhi and so on. Now, if this becomes the issue on which the entire media is focusing and a matter of intense debate ,then there is something seriously wrong somewhere. Where are the real issues and why they do not get even half the publicity these non-issues get. To top it all Mulayam Singh Yadav has come out with an outrageous election manifesto for his Samajwadi Party which promises to put a stop to the spread of english language and roll back of computers.Thankfully, Samajwadi Party has no chance of coming to power on its own not even in distant future, though it might extend suppport to a ruling coalition at the centre.But in that case it would be more interested in extracting its pound of flesh for the support and not really insist on these supercilious demands.I was really shocked to see a news caption few days back where Lalu Prasad Yadav (Fodder Scam) and Mulayam Singh Yadav (Disproportionate Assets Case) had jointly proclaimed to fight corruption.Now, if people with such dubious credentials and doubtful integrity want to fight corruption then there must be something good about corruption.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Great Indian Drama ....

The fifteenth general elections are just round the corner and election related news and views are doing the rounds everywhere.Even people who claim to be apolitical otherwise are getting invariably sucked into the election mania. The Congress led UPA and the BJP led NDA are the two political fronts vying with each other for voters' affection ,but to queer the pitch has come the "Third Front" which as its name suggests is a third rate alternative and full of Prime Ministerial hopefuls.The voter is faced with a tough choice between the devil and the deep sea ,as both the UPA as well as the NDA have their weaknesses. The Congress is trying to Project Rahul Gandhi as future Prime Minister just because he has the right lineage,never mind the fact that he hardly has any experience in public life.The Congressmen are united only in their blind devotion to Gandhi family and sycophancy has been turned into an art-form.The BJP has a far better candidate in L.K.Advani in terms of experience but it seems like a divided house with Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley gunning for each others blood.The BJP which prided itself on being a 'party with a difference' has been reduced to a party with differences.It has been a steady downfall for the Lotus over the years and the loss of its erstwhile citadel Uttar Pradesh to BSP and SP has reduced its chances of cobbling up a majority. So where does all this leave the average Indian voter ? Which party or candidate does one vote for ? Due to this people end up choosing the seemingly lesser evil of voting for their caste or community member.One hopes that Indian electorate will be voting this time for political stability and good governance and not on narrow considerations of caste,creed and religion.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whats Wrong With The Pink Campaign ...

By now everyone, and i mean everyone who has access to internet and/or electronic media would have come across this unique campaign to shame Mr.Muthalik and his henchmen by sending him "pink underwears".And Mr.Muthalik has decided that he will be sending sarees as return gift.A win-win situation for both sides one might think.But I feel that two wrongs don't make a right and somehow this campaign risks reducing what happened in Mangalore to a question of tradition versus modernity which it is not.It was all about individual's freedom of choice.If one wants to go to a pub ,irrespective of one's gender,one must have the freedom to do so .But surely we should not make a virtue out of pub-going.I myself go to pubs once in a while but i see no virtue/vice per se in that.In fact all this campaign is ideal fodder for news channels who have a lot to answer for making larger than life figures out of non-entities like Muthalik and Raj Thackeray.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hum Sabka Mama ,Obama Obama !!!

I came across this amazingly hilarious slogan while reading a Hindi newspaper.The article was about political slogans and how they sometimes capture imagination of the people and pave the path to success in elections.This particular slogan about Obama being 'Mama of the World' does capture the reality as it is today.The world is reeling under the effect of recession ,both real and imagined.On top of it terrorism is raising its ugly head in all corners of the world and somehow people across the world are hopeful of a positive change under Obama's dynamic leadership.For all his oratorical skills and dynamic personality , he will have to walk the talk on important issues that confront the US and rest of the world. One sincerely hopes that Obama will see through the futile war in Iraq,exert pressure on Israel to settle Palestine issue justly and ensure that Pakistan's state sponsored terror infrastructure is dismantled. And revive the US economy that constitutes more than 20% of world's GDP.All this would have been a tough ask even in normal times, but as the saying goes 'cometh the hour,cometh the man' ,and maybe Obama can be a 'Mama' to the rest of the world .

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The curious case of watching three movies ...


It started with 'Che Part One' ,a movie that tells the amazing story of the revolutionary Che Guevara and of his friend Fidel Castro. How the revolution was carried out in Cuba and the US supported dictator Batista was thrown out through an armed revolution under the banner of 26th of July Movement.Che was an Argentine by birth, but found his true calling in bringing the revolution in Cuba.He was a confidant of Fidel Castro and held the post of Industry Minister of Cuba.But such persons cannot be tied down for long and he left Cuba to organise leftist revolution in other parts of Latin America and was finally killed in Bolivia.When facing his executioner ,Che Guevara shouted, "I know you've come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man." Che Part One covers Guevara's revolutionary journey from the time he meets up with Castro in Mexico and comes to Cuba to carry the revolution and ends with his march to Havana.
The second movie i got to see was 'IGOR' ,an animation with a rather strange plot.The movie is about the Kingdom of Malaria (yes that is the name of the place) where being 'evil' is the in thing.The main character is an hunch backed character 'Igor' who dreams of being an evil scientist and his two friends.One of the friend is a rabbit with a suicidal streak.The rabbit keeps trying to kill himself but fails everytime and the other is a 'brain' without any trace of intelligence.The movie is watchable and has this sweet message that it is better to be a 'good nobody' than a 'evil somebody'.
The third movie (if anyone is still reading ) was The curious case of Benjamin Button.A good movie which is in the race of oscars and might win a few. The movie tells the story of Benjamin who is born old and grows young.We all after a certain age don't feel good about getting on in age ,but the film shows that growing old has its own good points.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Yellow Belt ...

I have been a fan of chinese martial arts movies since childhood.To be honest my elder brother has been quite a martial arts movie buff and used to bring lots of such movies.We used to watch movies in VCR in those days(CD/DVD culture is so much in that if you talk of VCR days you yourself run the risk of being considered as antique piece !)and the movies used to be lot of fun to watch. While in school, taekwando was gaining in popularity and most of the students who stayed in hostel(i was a day-scholar)had some sort of initiation into martial-arts ,formally or informally(ie.,learning by fighting).The grades start with yellow and as you move higher in hierarchy ,you get green and black belts.
Last starurday i got this opportunity to become a yellow belt ,in a totally unrelated realm of Six Sigma....a few words about six sigma and what is it ...Six Sigma is a powerful set of statistical and management tools and methodologies that can create dramatic increase in customer satisfaction, productivity and shareholder value. It is based on improving process targeting and reducing variation in a business process.
The Six Sigma approach has been used with great success in leading companies such as Motorola, GE, Honeywell, Johnson and Johnson, Allied Signal, Xerox etc. It was first started at Motorola, but received international acclaim when Jack Welch at GE began touting it as the approach that would save his company billions of dollars. It has...and the rest is history.
By the way i cleared the yellow belt certification with 17 fellow fighters/colleagues and now i look forward to becoming a greenbelt ...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mangalore Outrage ...

So, we have yet another example of 'moral policing' where a mob ransacked a pub 'Amnesia' in Mangalore and assaulted women present there in full view of TV cameras. They were supposedly trying to protect the culture and tradition of our great country by humiliating and beating up the womenfolk for the unpardonable crime of being in a pub. But these people are not at all disturbed when female foeticide is carried out ,when girls are not allowed to study and at every stage of life women is made to suffer for being a women. But protesting against such issues would not get you the eyeballs or TRP ratings.I was totally shocked to read an eyewitness account in The Hindu where a person described how the media persons reached the place in advance and when the attack started he heard someone shout "Action".How low can journalism get ?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Judiciary : Tareekh Pe Tareekh

Indians as a matter of rule take pride in democracy,press freedom and an independent judiciary. We all know that democracy has been made largely dysfunctional for a common man.Media has been overtaken by commercial interest so much that now news does not sell but what sells is converted into news for obvious reasons.The third pillar - the judiciary - has a distorted view of itself and the ground realities. The number of cases pending with courts as of today is mind-boggling (over 3 million cases in 21 High Courts alone). Yes,the number of judges needs to be increased and courts may have to be run on double-shift as has been suggested by a former Chief Justice of India.The law enforcement agencies also need to be spruced up so that thee is not much delay on account of shoddy investigations and wherever required exemplary punishment should be given to govt.officials also if they do not provide reports/evidences to courts on time.But the judiciary also has to look inwards and introspect as to why trials go on and on even in open and shut cases.Why quantum of sentence is reduced for Ansal brothers (accused in Uphaar tragedy) and why does it take ages to pronounce a verdict? The 1993 Mumbai blast case has dragged on for so long and still it is not over.Kasab ,the butcher of Mumbai,is awaiting a 'fair trial' after killing so many people in cold blood.The long drawn out judicial process,the stays and repeated postponement of hearings by courts have sent the deterrent effect of law for a toss. In fact , law has ceased to exist for people with criminal intentions as they know that even if they commit a crime the long drawn out judicial process will ensure that justice will not be done in their average life span,if done at all.

Sunny Deol in Damini sums up the situation well ...have a look !

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Aisi Ki Taisi ....

The day had started with promise, finally after days of planning I had managed to reach office before 10 am (9:40 am to be precise).Since there were two important meetings scheduled for the day , i got down to doing my preparation for the meetings.After some time my friend Baninder Singh,a most affable Sardarji,arrived on the scene and in his own unique way made us smile by his irreverent remarks.Then it was time for the first meeting ,which went off pretty well and all our concerns were brought on the table and necessary action was assured. Trouble started at precisely 4:10 pm when myself and my boss went for the meeting with Mr.Wahi (we are working on a report and he is the designer)and his team.I was carrying all the data in my pen drive and i handed it over to Mr.Wahi .The data was there alright but for some inexplicable reason the files did not open.Everyone looked at me and i could look at no one.Anyway the problem was soon diagnosed and the only possible solution was for me to rush home,get my other pen drive which also had the same data and hope for the best.I was given 20 minutes to go home and return which even on sundays is at least 15 minutes drive (one way).Anyway my capacities as a driver were overestimated and i left office to encounter a bottleneck at Nehru Place.After taking some risks and driving over potholes i reached home at 5pm,I rang the bell once,there was no response,i rang the bell again and again and started to walk back to get the keys.Just then the doors opened and our sleepy domestic help was at the door rubbing his eyes.I got my pen drive and rushed back ,the drive back was a much smoother affair and at 5:20 i presented the pen drive to Mr.Wahi and prayed ...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Catch 22 ...


Of all the novels I have read so far,Catch 22 remains very dear to my heart.It is one hilariously funny book.It tells about the travails of a pilot 'Yossarian" who wants to live but he feels ,and rightly so, that all (including his own bosses who keep sending him on mission after mission) are conspiring to have him killed.Here is an excerpt from the book that gave us the phrase "Catch 22" ...

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr(a pilot) was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," Yossarian observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961 and the novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards,is a must read.Enjoy !!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Switching Jobs ...

Everyone is talking of recession, right from top honchos to the person at the bottom of the pyramid. But ,I have my doubts as to how much of what we are seeing is the effect of recession in reality. Everything is being blamed on recession , in fact companies are cutting down on expenses and some of these expenses were frivolous to begin with. This is probably the worst time to think of a job-switch, but then sometimes one has to do it.But it always pays to do some groundwork before joining any company.What a company may project might not be the real picture. For instance one of my friend left GSK(Glaxosmithkline) to join Nokia , a good move everyone thought but soon he found that the job-profile was not what he was looking for and within a few months he had to quit Nokia and join another company.
I came across this new site "www.talentequity.in" which offers something which any employee would like to know about a company he/she wishes to join.The information is as authentic as it gets as it is based on reviews done by employees already working in those organisations.Well,there is always an element of risk while switching jobs but if one can get some reliable information as to how is the work culture, performance appraisal criterions,compensation packages etc. from an insider ,then nothing like it.This is where this site "http://www.talentequity.in" plans to help the job-seekers in finding a good match.In case you are not planning for a job-switch ,still you can make a positive contribution by disclosing some information about your company and work conditions and equations with superiors.It goes without saying that all this can be done in the comfort of anonymity.Log in to find out :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mumbai Terror Attack : Revisited

More than a month has passed since the dastardly attack on Mumbai and the life seems to have returned to normal (though the news channels and politicians on both sides of the border continue their endless tirade to whip-up mass hysteria).The Indian govt. has been repeatedly telling their Pakistan counterparts that the terrorists had come from Pakistan and have ample proofs to back their claims.The Pakistani side, for very obvious reasons, is displaying an ostrich like behavior where they are thinking that just by denying existence of facts ,facts would cease to exist.Pakistan has sponsored terrorism for so long and so extensively that now terrorists are more in control of Pakistan than the elected representatives.Yes,Pakistan also is a victim of terrorism ,but it is self-inflicted victim-hood.In fact Pakistan today is a shining (for all the wrong reasons)example of what happens when you dig a hole for others.My point here is not to engage in Pakistan bashing,on the contrary India would be better placed with a stable,democratic Pakistan instead of a banana republic as its neighbour.
India has to learn its lessons, some of which are :
1.It does not make sense to keep blaming Pakistan for all our ills.Yes,these terror groups operate with support from across the border but a Mumbai like attack is simply not possible without local complicity.How did the terrorists manage to enter with such huge cache of arms and ammunition without anyone raising an eyebrow ?
Rather than just focusing on Pakistan,Indian agencies would do well to find and bring to justice everyone who has knowingly or unknowingly abetted this terrorist act.
2.NSG operation simply took too long.Yes,the terrorists were very well trained and armed to the teeth,plus they also had taken hostages.But even then the NSG operation should have been much more swift.There cannot be room for any bureaucratic delay in NSG operations .In fact ,officers in Army also do not consider NSG operation an unqualified success as it stretched for too long,far too many people were killed and terrorists achieved almost all their aims.It sounds bitter ,but it is true unfortunately.
3.Intrusive media coverage, which aided the terrorists and impaired the NSG commandos,was another factor which i felt put additional pressure on NSG to be extra careful and hence the delay.The media, and it includes Miss Barkha Dutt's NDTV, played into the hands of terrorists by giving them not just round the clock non-stop coverage but also gave them all information concerning movement of Indian security forces as has been established by transcripts released by intelligence agencies.
4.Finally,people of India as well as Pakistan need to understand that war is not a solution.Lets try and co-exist rather than co-destruct.Pakistan has to curb the jihadi elements and put their house in order, as for India,we are better placed but there are glaring inequalities ,mass poverty,deprivation etc. ,all of which need persistent efforts.Internal security has to be a priority ,but surely it cannot take precedence over providing basic necessities of life.I rest my case.