Friday, December 29, 2006

Speech at the Bharatidasan Institute of Management- 22 November 2006

The topic was " Indian business going global". Audience 120 first year MBA students of the Bharatidasan Inst of Management at Trichy. Dr Sankaran, the Director was present. The event was held thanx to the initiative of Friend Ravichandran of Chennai.

The Institute has a niche in the B-school circles. All of its students get placement thru campus recruitment. During interaction I found the students as bright, knowledgeable and mature. 90 percent have engineering degrees and fity percent have work experience.

I elaborated the following points:

-This year outward FDI is more than inward FDI.
-India is a capital deficit country. Interest rates in India higher than international rates.
- Essar investment in Trinidad is an interesting example. Basic logic for investment in Tinidad is availability of abundant and inexpensive gas. iron ore will come from some other country in the region. market principally USA. capital will be from international banks. technology might be foreign. So what goes from India?
-Indian bz going global is not just a matter of market or money. It is fundamentally a new mindset.
-After having been conquered, colonised and ruled by foreigners in the last seven hundred years Indians have now got the confidence to conquer the world. Mittal being the richest in UK is the sweet revenge for East India company .
-It is the IT cos which started the new phenomenon of going global, establishing a new paradigm and benchmark.
-Thanx to IT Indian is being recognised and respected in the world
-IT opened the doors to others such as pharma, manufacturing and mining . There is need for Indian cos to acquire foreign assets in energy, agribz and forestry.
-prospects for the Indianisation of global bz good based on two fundamentals: The large and growingIndian economy and market give a walmart advantage to Indian cos. The abundant young and skilled Indian human resources will be an advantage vis-a-vis the ageing developed societies facing skill shortages.
-Economic Diplomacy will bring value addition to the Indian bz going global through facilitation and promotion.

Speech to Poondi college students 21 November 2006

The topic was " Poondi to Punta Arenas" The audience was about 300 plus students of second year post graduation and faculty. The objective of the speech was to inspire the students from this rural college,where I had graduated.

I spoke about the challenges I had faced and the opportunities opening up for the students in the 21st century.

My first challenge was linguistic. After having studied in Tamil medium in the school, I had problems in the English medium college. The second challenge was agricultural. My family wanted me to be a farmer and did not see the use of college education. The third was cultural challenge. I had developed inferiority complex in the college with my village background After joining the Foreign service, I faced cultural challenges in adopting to the high profile diplomatic world. Latin America had challenged me culturally when I was posted there. I have been able to overcome these, regain self-confidence and be myself after my Latin America experience.

I was able to realise my dream of travelling to the farthest place ( Punta Arenas ) because I was lucky to find the college so close to my village. If it was not for that, I would not have gone to a college.

The youth of today are lucky to have before them a new era, new india and a new world and exciting times ahead. The new era of information and knowledge society has empowered the youth. Through computer and IT they can connect, communicate, collaborate and compete with the world. The new India is emerging as an economic power and indian business is going global. Indians have gained global recognition and admiration, thanx to the IT success.The globalising world is an opportunity to the young Indians in India as well as in the developed world which is becoming old and will face shortage of skilled human resources.

I advised the students to keep up the hunger for sucess and thirst for knowledge. They also need to have some imagination and craziness to keep them flying above the reality which could be daunting and discouraging.I narrated many stories and jokes and kept them animated

Thursday, December 28, 2006

empowerment of rural women

During the visit to my village last week, I saw for myself the evidence of effective empowerment of women. My niece Punita, age 28 has been elected as the president of Panchayat board of Karaimeendarkottai village. This was incredible since i had always known her as a shy and simple rustic girl. Now she is totally transformed. She has become a confident, assertive and ambitious leader. There is a new glint in her eyes and grit in her approach. She told me about her priority to improve the village water supply system. She has ordered the village clerk that bulbs should be replaced immediately when they fuse out. She said proudly that in the last one month of her presidency the village looks bright whereas it used to be dark earlier. She talked about her responsibility to the voters who have placed confidence in her ability to deliver.

What is more important is that she has managed to overcome in two months the rigid caste system which has stayed for over two thousand years. Until the elections, she had never set foot in the harijan street. But during the campaign, she visited every harijan house and requested them individually for votes. She now sits with the three Harijan members in the Board meetings.

Punita talks proudly about the close contest in which she won with 44 votes margin unseating a family which was controlling the Panchayat for the last three decades. She is conscious of the potential troubles the defeated party will cause for her and her family. But she is prepared and brave. She is also realistic that her husband would interfere with her work and use her position to do his own things.

Punita is the beneficiary of the new Panchayat System in which some panchayat presidencies are reserved for women.

But there is a downside to the victory of Punita. She has spent 1.5 lakhs of rupees in the campaign of which half is debt. How does she repay the debt? There is no salary or legitimate income. She gets only a honorarium of 500 rupees. She has been advised that she should get commission from the contracts. She will lose her innocence and enter into the world of corruption !

Another sign of the emergence of women power was in my college at Poondi, which has now opened its doors for women students. There are ten girls from my village and 18 from my neighbouring village studying in the college now. This includes my other niece, Anita, who wants to study computer science.These girls after college studies are not going to stay at the staus quo home. They would seek changes and progress. They would become the leaders of emancipation for a better future for their children, families and the villages.

This is progress and indeed the beginning of a rural revolution !

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Upcoming Speeches- December-February

I have been invited to give a speech on 21 December at my alma mater, Poondi Pushpam college. The audience will be about 200 post graduate students and faculty.
The title of my talk will be "Poondi to Punta Arenas", the same topic on which i wrote an article for the college magazine. I will talk about the challenges of growing up in a village and the opportunities for the gennext.

On 22 December I will give a talk at the Bharatidhasan Insitute of Management, Trichy. My topic before the MBA graduate students is " India Inc going global". I will talk about the value addition to this pheneomenon by the Economic Diplomacy. Indian bz going global is not just about business or market or money. It is about mind. It is a statement of the new mindset of Indian bzmen and the arrival of the new india in the globalising world.

On 22 January, I will give a talk at the Faculty of Management Studies of Delhi University. The theme will be on the globalising Indian business

On 23 February, I have been invited by the Amity Business School to give a talk on Latin America.

I look forward to the speech opportunities, since they open the tap of creativity and excite the faculty of imagination. Talking especially before the young people, getting their attention, capturing their imagination, making them laugh, provoking them to think and shocking them with Latino stories and jokes is great fun.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Inheritance of Loss - book by Kiran Desai

This Booker Prize winning novel puts together the story of three typical Indian characters: Patel, a retired judge and settled in Kalimpong with his dog and servant; Sai, his grand daughter, the convent-educated girl who comes to live with him and falls in love with Gyan the Nepali; and Biju the son of the servant who goes to United States, struggles there and comes back disillusioned. The three main characters have one thing in common. They are misfits in the place they live. The judge, after his British education and Colonial service becomes unIndian, after having alienated himself consciously from native Indians. The convent-educated girl and the rich retirees inKalimpong are foreigners, talking a foreign language and living in another world amidst the poverty and backwardness of Kalimpong. Biju is a misfit in USA caught between the illegal immigrants who confuse him and the Americans whom he does not understand.

The dilemma and internal conflicts of westernised Indians in India caught between the Gymkhana club culture and the poor folk who steal the dog of Patel is a continuing reality. The story of Gorkhaland struggle in the region which disrupts the life of all the characters is a reflection of what one sees in the television news in India day after day. I do not remember watching Indian TV news without strikes, agitations, burning of buses, demonstrations, clash with police, insurgencies, problems of Kashmiris, Maoists, Dalits, Muslims and political party workers. What Naipaul calls as the land of million mutinies ! Disruption goes on every day in some part of India or other in the name of religion, language, region, caste and culture.

Kiran Desai's story-telling is natural and her characters are unforgettable. In the clash of cultures in Kalimpong she lets even love end up unromantically after confusing and contradictory emotions which collide innocently and unintentionally. The India, which comes out from the novel is the unvarnished,uninterpreted and unromantic country of dilemmas and contradictions for the Indians who outgrow India.

Only an Indian could fully understood and appreciate the novel with its typically Indian situations, language and even jokes. It is, therefore, interesting that the Booker prize selectors had chosen this for the international audience. May be the world is trying to understand the India of what it actually is, rather than for the BPOs and IT strength ! Why not? We, in India have been reading and understanding the local cultures and customs of England, Europe and USA.

It is amazing that Kiran Desai has captured the Indian spirit and struggle although she has been living in England and USA since the age of 14. And she is said to be the youngest woman writer to win the Booker at the age of 35.

I was disappointed with the " Goddess of small things" for which Arundati Roy got the same Booker prize. Her book did not appeal to me at all. That is why I started reading Kiran Desai with skepticism. Kiran Desai deserves the prize and she is promising.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Brokeback mountain- movie

I watched this gay cowboy film last weekend.
It is an interesting story of two cowboys who get to work together during a summer as sheepherders in the Brokeback mountain area. In the isolated and pristine Brokeback mountain area, they have only the company of each other apart from the sheep and mountain. Their interaction with each other becomes intimate and they fall in love with each other. But after this unusual and new experience, they go back to normal life of marriage and children. But then the love born in the mountains come back to draw them together. The wife of one of them discovers and divorces him. The other one who is more passionate gets frustrated by the inadequate response of the partner and dies young.
The director Ang Lee has handled the story delicately and sensibly and succeeded in making it as romantic and natural. The scenes of the mountains, meadows and streams of Brokeback mountain are spectacular.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Twenty years and two husbands ago....

Friends laugh when i quote this title of the song by Lee Ann Womack.
They jump quick to the conclusion- it should be a latina song.
I tell them if it is a latina it cannot be just only two...

The lyric and melody of this song has triggered one of my periodic seizures of sadness and melancholy. Blame it on the the double expresso of Barrista on a sunday afternoon after a golfless morning.Saddest thoughts ...threatening to spill over as sweetest songs?. The line that struck me is
"never let somebody that close". The beaten heart is more defensive, more alert and feels safe in solitude.

For a change, i said no to golf today and instead finished reading a book(review in my business blog)on ...what? Latin America..of course.

here is the full lyric.

"Looking in the bathroom mirror
Putting my make-up on
Maybeline can't hide the lines of time that's gone
Weighed 105 soaking wet
I'd knock him dead in that sundress
Had it all but just too young to know
But that was 20 years, 2 husbands ago

I remember when he took my hand and said I do
And the kitchen I was standing in when he said I'm through
I swore I'd never fall back in
Put my heart through that again
Never let somebody get that close
But that was 20 years, 2 husbands ago

Water under the bridge
I guess that's all life really is

Driving the kids to school today it occurred to me
With all the wrong turns that I've made
I'm right where I should be
But I go back there from time to time
Looking for that peace of mind
Find it's always just a dead end road
Yeah that was 20 years, 2 husbands ago

Water under the bridge
I guess that's all life really is

Looking in the bathroom mirror
Putting my make-up on"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

can live without wisdom but not without cafe

On wednesday, the dentist pulled out my wisdom tooth and told me that in any case it was of no use. He assured me that i had not lost anything, except a useless part.

Then he came out with the killer advice. No hot coffee for the next 24 hours. oops.. this was going to be tough. So i had to forego this life saver and stimulant for 24 hours. It was the most miserable 24 hours of my life. Normally i begin the day with coffee first thing in the morning and get into my creative world of reading and writing. This sets the mood and agenda for the day. Without coffee i started the day yesterday totally disoriented and dispirited. Afternoon came and my longing increased. Evening became even more intolerable.

This 24 hours of misery made me introspect. And the truth hit me.

Not only did i not use my wisdom tooth, but I had also spent large part of my life without using wisdom itself. I had drifted foolishly for so many years. I had made so many mistakes big and small. I was unrealistic. I let my head down and let myself be lead by my heart. As Lee Ann Womack sings, " loving might be a mistake ..but it is worth making".

My life had been lead by illusions... stimulated by cafe. After a cup of the stimulant, my imagination soars. Inspiration flows. Creativity gets in. Dreams take wings. I am above the clouds. I travel to latin America. Reality disappears. Magical realism appears.

There is another side to this story. May be i would not have reached where I am, if I was realistic and had used my wisdom. I might have got stuck like a frog in the well of my village, like many of my friends, if i had analysed my situation realistically using my head. I let myself soar with my illusions foolishly and romantically. I remember carrying paddy bags but smiling with the poems of Keats and Wordsworth. Walking along the railtrack to my school and college, I was moved with the love poems of Bharatidasan. I was so full of illusions, romance and magical realism. As Womack sings" when you get a chance to sit it out or dance.. i hope you dance", I danced without knowing dance.

Good bye wisdom tooth. Good day my cafe !

Monday, October 09, 2006

Last holiday - movie

I enjoyed this delightful hollywood film. Queen Latifa, who acts as Georgia Byrd is a sales clerk in a retail outlet for kitchen equipments. Her world comes crashing down when the Indian Dr Gupta diagnoses her with a fatal illness and gives her just three more weeks of life. So what does she do? She collects all her savings in cash and goes to a luxury resort in Europe to enjoy the last few days. She stays in a presidential suite, buys expensive dress, tries skiing and orders expensive food at the restaurant and the chef attends to her personally.

Then comes the fax saying that she was misdiagnosed, coinciding with the arrival of her boyfriend who proposes marriage and there is happy ending.

More of a bollywood story! but done in hollywood format and style. It is a comedy with some depth.

Monday, October 02, 2006

iCon - the book about Steve Jobs

A blurb on the cover of this book says" once you start reading, you wont want to put it down". This happened with me. I bought this at the Bangalore airport on Sunday evening and finished it today morning.

It is an absorbing and inspiring story of Steve Jobs, the rock star of technology and digital age. It is about his conquest of three different worlds" computers, movies and music"
It is an amazing resurrection of the hero who was thrown out of the company he himself founded and was in wilderness for ten long years. He is the come-back kid who defied the pundits and reclaimed his throne and title as an Icon, even after making many mistakes.

Steve, born as an orphan, grew up as a strong-willed rebel in the family of his adopted family and in the school. He dropped out of the college and pursued his fascination with electronics and got his first job in HP.

India has played a role in the life of Steve. The first thing he did after getting his salary was to travel to Himalayas seeking truth and meaning. He did not get the enlightenment like the Buddha under the bodhi tree. But the experience in India including the exposure to poverty and problems had a strong impact. He became a vegetarian and a follower of Zen Buddhism. When Michael Eisner wanted to interact with him at the time of Pixar- Disney rivalry, he invited him for dinner at an Indian restaurant in Bay area. He even went to the extent of imposing his vegetarian dinners on the guests.

Steve created a new cult with his Apple and Mac computers. He made them distinct from the rest by unique design and marketing. He has done the same thing with iPod, which has become a statement and a status symbol. He inspired the designers and creators with his visionary spirit and drive. He wanted to make a "dent in the universe" and he has achieved this already.He was shrewd in his business negotiations and managed to buy Pixar for just 10 million dollars, one third of the price demanded by George Lucas. He made one million dollars when he was 23, got ten million when he was 24 and made 100 million dollars when he became 25.

here is the flip side. Steve was overcome by Hubris at the height of his success. He was cruel and unfair to his closest colleagues. He is not a paragon of virtue. He did all the dirty tricks to get ahead of others and used others as ladders, throwing them out mercilessly after his climb. He made many mistakes in business decisions and was a hardware guy without realising the growing power of software. The joke about him was, " How did Steve do market research? ... by looking at the mirror1 ". But luck came to his rescue and saved him from oblivion. It was Disney which took Pixar to the business of full feature films and the CEO of Apple who bought his sinking NEXT venture and rehablitated him in Apple Computers. He is a changed man now. He values family, friends and respects others.

The moral of his story is " never mind the mistakes and defects... you can fight back and win "

The authors of the book Jeffrey Young and William Simon have been objective in their comments and made it lively like a story book.

This book brought to my mind the biographies( the road ahead) of Bill Gates and the Google guys ( Larry page and Serge Bin), which i hv read earlier. Unlike Steve who is more of a business hustler, these three are real geeks and nerds who have changed our lives.

Infoscion - the New Indian

My visit to the Infosys training centre in Mysore on 30 Sept confirmed the arrival of the New Indian with a new mindset and value system. The company calls their employees as " Infoscions" . I call them as the New Indians. They herald a new era, a new culture and new hope.

The centre is the largest corporate training centre in the world, which has training facilities for about 4000 at the same time. They are building more facilities to expand it for 10,000 trainees by 2008.

Why do i call the Infoscion as the New Indian?
here are the reasons:

-For about 3 months the trainee stays in this 350 acre campus, which is ultramodern, luxurious and world class. The room is like a 5-star hotel room, clean and elegant. He gets to use the laundromat and all the modern gadgets. He can eat in the different food courts. He goes to work by walk or cycle . There are 1500 cycles which can be taken for free and left after use. The walk or cycle ride from the room to office is green and pleasing for the eyes. There are four multiplexes (globe picture on the top) with the state of the art equipments and latest films for entertainment. There is a large gym, sports and games facilities and swimming pool. There is a 24/7 library with the latest and comprehensive resources on the emerging knowledge society. The workplace is worldclass and at the same time provides a university campus style environment. The Infoscion starts with a princely salary of 30000 rupees, which means acquisition of the latest cellfones, gadgets , cars and accessories . More importantly, the materialistic aspiration makes him work harder, earn more money and reach greater heights.

- i have put fotos of the campus in my album

-These facilities do not just give comfort. They make the Infosyan confident and free from the the inferiority complex, which afflicts the average Indian. When he goes to USA he is not going to be overwhelmed. He might even feel that the Mysore campus is much better than many workplaces and residences considered the best in USA.

-The Infosyian imbibes a new work ethic and value system from the motto of the company which is " driven by values and powered by intellect" This is not just a slogan. This is the corporate practice rigorously adopted by the company. The company will not pay bribes and will not violate rules and regulations. It has set the highest benchmark for corporate ethics. The young impressionable employees of Infosys imbibe this new culture and set new benchmarks for themselves and others who come into contact with them. They are going to practise their new ethical values even after they leave infosys and become enterpreneurs and found corporations.

--The Infosyians are working with cutting-edge technologies with varied business models for globally competitive companies. They deal with the biggest banks, manufacturers of aircrafts and cars, retailers,technology providers, insurance companies, research organisations, entertainment companies and such diverse areas. This gives them a global vision and the world becomes their playground. There is an Infosys leadership Institute(bottom picture) in the same campus, where promising managers are mentored by leaders like Narayanamurthy.

- The Infosians emerging after the initial three months training in the campus are emerging as the new indian with confidence, optimism, competitive spirit, highest standard of corporate ethics and worldclass in competence.

My pessimistic friends say " so what? one Infosys is a little drop in the ocean of india. Look at the politics and society which are pathetic and ireddemable". I tell them that Infosys is atleast a start. The new culture and ethics of Infoscions are going to spread and influence others. The Infoscions are going to create new environment in their homes, in their workplaces outside infosys. They are going to create and maintain new levels of hygiene and maintenance. A thousand infosys campuses and thousands of Infoscions are going to bloom!!. These vanguard movement will have a powerful impact on the rest of India.

I myself have come back inspired. for me, the Mysore campus is my "Dream India". It makes me optimistic and upbeat about the new india which is going to be shaped and moved by these new young generation of Infoscions.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I hope you dance

I have fallen in love
with the song
of Lee Ann Womack

"i hope you dance"

I heard this sometime back
it was like a face in a crowd.. liked it ..moved along
the face appeared again..became familiar

this time when i heard it in Light FM in Newyork
the music got into my ears
travelled all the way by AirIndia
and it is here to stay with me
...making me hopeless.... and hopeful

It is the melody and voice which have captured me.
the lyric too has gone into my heart

here it is

"I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out reconsider
I hope you dance
I hope you dance"

Womack's bio says she learnt her lesson
"between the blush of a new love and the bruises of a broken heart"

One of her song says it by its title
" twenty years and two husbands ago"

Her songs are for"everyone who’s ever loved, lost, and learned hard-earned lessons and lived to tell about it, including the singer herself and this poor blogger".

Monday, September 11, 2006

E- Love

Inbox is full
mails galore
jokes and junk
news alerts

i go down the list
racing for that one
the heart-stopper

i kiss the screen
smile and whistle
read and relax
savour and cherish

spirit soaring high
touching the moon
faith restored
feeling reinvigorated

I need a cafe
double expresso
to respond and resonate
to my E-love in cyberspace

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Adding another passion...for mountains

I have added yet another passion to my life..... I have become passionate about mountains ...after the fantastic eleven day and 1000 km journey over the Himalayan mountains from 9 to 19 June. It was a dream trip through the

- exotic places ... Keylong, Udaipur, Kaza, Samdo, Kalpa, Rekong Peo, Sangla, Manali and Narkanda,
- fascinating valleys of Kullu, Parbathi,Lahaul, Spiti, Baspa and Sangla
- breath-taking snow clad peaks of Kinnaur Kailash and Parbathi
- massive glaciers and moist rocks
- rushing rivers of Chandra, Bhoga, Spiti, Chenab,Beas and Sutlej
- the scenic orchards of apples, plums and apricots
- the majestic passes of Rohtang ( 4000 metres ) and Kunzum la ( 4500 m ) passes.
- historic Buddhist monasteries including the famous one at Tabo
- picturesque villages of Kibber( at 4200 metres-has claim to be the highest village in the world)and Chitkul
- the bailey bridges and the one-person ropeways hanging over the rivers connecting mountains
I was thrilled and scared,tested and humbled.

-thrilled by the tall peaks and deep valleys, fresh white snow on top and the rocks sculpted and designed by natural forces through thousands of years, lush green mountains with pine and fur trees contrasting with the stoic and Buddha-like bare brown mountains

-scared going through the high and narrow mountain roads. One gets giddy looking at the steep ravine on one side. Try to look at the other side and there are the rocks and stones perched precariously on the slopes waiting to roll down. Look in front and there are little temples and flags along the road put up in memory of lives lost in accidents. The driver of the jeep added to the fright, with stories of landslides, falling rocks and worse.

-Humbled by the massive mountains on whose shoulders i was climbing like a little ant. Humbled not only by mountains but also by other men and women much more adventurous and daring. While I was riding in the jeep, there were many who were cycling and trekking. There was the young Swiss boy who wanted to complete the 11 day trek to Chandratal even after falling sick on the fourth day. There was an Israeli youth who undertook a 15 day trek from Kibber to Leh. His only company was a guide and donkey.

-Trekking and climbing tested one's will and endurance. "Dont challenge the mountains", advised my fellow traveller,friend Harminder Sawhney, who has experience and enjoys the mountains. slow and steady pace. Dont sit step at a time. Focus on the next step .. and the next one. Body gets warmed, steps become rhythmic and one keeps going and going ...That is when enjoyment starts. After every hundred metres or at every turn of the mountain one looks down at the scenary below, filled with an air of achivement and joy. The best time to go up is the early morning when the mountains are still sleeping, said my friend. The bright sun and the shining peaks inspire one to climb higher.

- inspired by the sturdy, courageous and hard-working mountain people who make use of every bit of land to cultivate crops and live, work and enjoy life amidst the challenging conditions of nature.

It was pure joy trekking, climbing, walking, and breathing. I have come back recharged. I will keep going back to the mountains, for sure.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Google Story - audio book

This is my first audio book. The google story published in 2005 comes in five audio CDs. I listened to most of the book while travelling in the car.

The google story is exciting and inspiring. The last time i was inspired by a similiar book was when i read " The road ahead" by Bill Gates . The first brain to become the richest in the emerging era of Knowledge, which has profundly changed our work, communication, entertainment and life itself.

The google guys have done it better than Bill Gates. Serge Brin and Larry Page have brought about a revolution in internet search, built up a 230 billion dollar- worth company and became the youngest bilionaires in seven years after starting the company in 1998.

The google guys are audacious, visionaries and unconventional and quirky. They are free spirits like children chasing curiosity without fear.

The search system they have built is fantastic. One has got so much used to googling, life without it is now unimaginable. Their business model of free search giving objective results to users but giving enormous profits to them is a unique model. They have added so many other features like images, video, digitisation of books and desktop search and i am getting hooked.

Besides the scientific part of their achievement, they have defied business managers, wall street honchos, investment bankers and the washington lawyers daring them with their unconventional approach and beating them beyond belief in their own turf. I liked specially the way they beat the Wall Street with their own unique way of achieving success with their IPO.

Serge and Larry have built Google their own way. Even at the start, they managed to get venture capital without giving up control.

And of course, they have beaten my old hero Bill Gates hands down. Microsoft attempted several times and failed to beat Google.

I like the way Serge and Larry have made their work and achievements look like fun. They disregarded conventions, defied norms and did many things their own, sometimes funny ways. And their encouragement to employees by letting them spend 20 percent of their time in their own pet projects is smart and win-win for both. They value their employees, treasure them and reward them. Even when the company was small they employed a chef to do "culinary engineering' in the kitchen to provide healthy and great food. What a unique idea !

Having conquered the world, where do they go further. To mars , of course.....typical of them... they are involved in foundations and research on space travel, genomics, articial intelligence... and want to attach google to our brains....

I have become an admirer and fan of the google guys besides being an addict to googgle search.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ambassadors Cup Golf

The tournament was organised in JP Green at Greater Noida on 13 May 2006. It was sponsored by Nicholas Piramal. It was Harinder Sikka, President of the company who put this tournament together. Thanx Harinder...

Ministry of External External Affairs was the official partner. Foreign Secretary shri Shyam Saran inagurated the tournament. He got a shock when he hit the first ball and it exploded... trick ball !. Minister of State Shri Anand Sharma was the chief guest at the prize distribution.

I won a trophy ( big crystal one ! ) with a score of 82. I was under pressure from Kapil Dev who was in my four ball and he drove 300 yards and finished with a sub par round. He won the first prize.

The tournament was telecast live by Zee Business TV. First time, an amateur golf event was given live coverage !

There were two explanations about our playing in this summer heat
- we are already crazy... having exposed our head to too much of sun
- Having worked in the government for many years, we have developed thick skin

Tip for those who did not win... should change the clubs. Instead of callaway and taylor made, they try the "night clubs" ! And should remember that " one does not have to be perfect... to enjoy golf and sex !"

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Japanese Story

This is the second time i have been emotionally moved by Japanese .
Although this is a Hollywood film, the hero is japanese.Gotaro Tsunashima acts as Tachibana the main character. He travels in Australian desert countryside accompanied by an Australian geologist Sandy ( Toni Collete). The Australian is puzzled and frustrated with the japanese attitude and approach. Finally the Japanese opens up and bridges the communication gap and help her to get out of the desert. In the process he starts liking her which leads to reciprocation and love. When the love and understanding starts blossoming, he drowns in a lake and dies and leaving sandy completely traumatised. The Japanese wife comes to take the body. While Sandy cries that it was her fault leading him to the lake, the Japanese wife shows the typical control over her emotions and leaves an envelope containing the fotos of sandy with her husband. The movie brings out the contrasting cultures of the brash down under and the subtle japanese character. Tachibana explains how the word" hai " can mean yes or no or maybe depending upon the tone and way of saying it.
I was moved by the Japanese character. The Japanese songs played during the sad moments of the story touched my soul reminding me of Floating weed, the japanese film which triggered this blog.

50 first dates

saw this yesterday.
This is a typical Adam Sandler comedy. he meets Drew Barrymore in a cafe and she invites him for breakfast the next day. But when he goes the following day she does not recognise him and drives him away as a stalker. he discovers that she had suffered brain damage in an accident. Thereafter her memory stays for only one day and during her sleep in the night it all goes away. But she remembers only what happened on that particular day , the accident took place. The rest is romance and comedy and caribbean beach resort, where the story takes place.

The friend of Sandler tells him the girl fits perfectly to the casanova-type hero who seeks vacation flings and avoids commitment.
There is another character whose memory lasts only for ten seconds. oops.. sometimes it happens to people in parties where they " are glad to meet u " twice or thrice during the same evening.
I enjoyed the movie and recommend to friends.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

blue is my colour of passion and inspiration

Blue is the sea
moving and waving
Blue are your eyes
darting and striking

Blue is the sky
opening my horizon
Blues are sadness
fermenting poems

Blue is a song
of cristian castro
Blue is the ink
penning my feelings

Blue is a club
of poets and muses
Blue could be light
profound at times

Blue makes me smile
sad sometimes
Blue is my color
of passion and inspiration

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

discovery of Loreena Mackennit

Thanks to a queridissima friend i discovered this canadian singer with gypsy legs, sufi soul and mystic magic.
i liked her songs mummers dance, samain night, mystic's dream
i got carried away by her lyrics which took me on mystic journeys through celtic lands and beyond.

here r some of the lyrics of this exotic and eclectic singer which touched and inspired me

samain night
when the moon on a cloud cast night hung above the tree tops height
you sang me of some distant past
that made my heart beat strong and fast
now i know i am at home at last

mystic dream
a clouded dream on an earthly night
hangs upon the crescent moon
a voiceless song in an ageless light
sings at the coming dawnupon a darkened night
the flame of love was burning in my breast
and by a lantern bright i fled my house while all in quiet rest
...the eyes declare a truce of trust
and then it draws me far away

when she says every journey brings its own surprises a challenge, a sudden detour a new set of friends along the way or perhaps even a destination different from the one you intended

i am reminded of my queridissima friendwho said we are the sum of the places we have been
so .. i am where i have been

Need for a new paradigm in "Bureaucracy – Business” interaction

How do you make a bureaucrat laugh on a Friday?
..Tell him a joke on Monday…
..He needs five working days to process the joke and get necessary approvals before laughing !.

This was how the bureaucrats were blamed for the Hindu (slow) rate of growth in the past.

Now when there is pressure for FDI in retail sector or reforms of outdated labour laws, the bureaucrats are blamed for being too fast. And here goes the new story:

Who is the fastest in India? …The businessman boasts he can drive 150 kmph in his Mercedes….The pilot says, he can fly at 800 kmph. But they have no chance against the bureaucrat whose office closes at 5.30 pm but he manages to reach home by 5 pm !

Poor bureaucrats ! They get the blame one way or another. Bureaucrat- bashing has become a popular sport.

At the 37th Jawaharlal Nehru memorial lecture on 21 November 2005 at New Delhi, Lee Kuan Yew had put it bluntly in his characteristic style.

“My secretaries asked Singapore businessmen with investments in India what, apart from infrastructure, they found as major constraints. To a man, they replied it was the bureaucracy.They believe it is a mindset problem. The average Indian civil servant still sees himself primarily as a regulator and not as a facilitator. The average Indian bureaucrat has not yet accepted that it is not a sin to make profits and become rich. The average Indian bureaucrat has little trust in India’s business community. They view Indian businessmen as money grabbing opportunitists who do not have the welfare of the country at heart. India must find some way to reward bureaucrats who facilitate, not hinder investments and enterprise”.

The civil servants are not allowed to defend themselves, being bound and gagged by conduct rules. Of course, there are good and bad bureaucrats as there are good and bad ones in business and politics. It is not fair to condemn everyone. Good bureaucrats need to be recognized and encouraged and the inefficient ones should be filtered. Some of the civil servants are as good as the best in business. They can deliver more, if they are given the right ambience.

Here are two examples of how they can perform, when they get the opportunity.
- One of the secrets of success of LN Mittal who has made his fortune through his steel ventures around the world is his core group of 60-70 Indian engineers from the Indian public sector steel companies. They were the ones who turned around the old inefficient steel mills from USA to Indonesia and Mexico to Kazhakstan.
- The key executives behind the success of Reliance in their oil and gas ventures are from ONGC and IOC.

The public sector employees, who are stereotyped as inefficient have delivered success and profits to these two companies, which allowed them to give their best.

So what is needed is a reform of the civil service to provide an enabling environment for delivery and efficiency. The anachronistic foundation of the bureaucracy which was made for supporting a colonial structure needs to be replaced by a new set of values and rules needed for the emerging new India.

The most fundamental need is a change in the mindset of civil servants. It is not uncommon to find bureaucrats with a bloated moral sense of superiority over businessmen whom they perceive as profiteers. Some have an inverted inferiority complex and exercise their power to show off their authority. Some presume that they are the sole guardians of national interest. These perceptions need to be corrected in this new era of diminishing role of the government and strengthening forces of free market and globalisation. The bureaucrats should be reoriented to recognise that businessmen are as indispensable for economic growth and generation of employment, as the government itself.

At the same time it is imperative for the business also to change their perceptions of bureaucracy as a power-hungry and rule-bound obstacle for progress. They need to respect and recognize the legitimate role of policy-makers and implementers.

The two sides should recognize the role of each other in the society and shed their notions of superiority or inferiority. The interaction should be based on mutual respect, trust and confidence.

The s uccess of Japan, the East Asian Tigers and recently the Chinese Dragon are to a large extent based on the shared vision and partnership between the government and the private sector. The bureaucrats in these countries work closely with the business in the strategic development of industries, business and technologies.

Business organisations such as CII and FICCI can play a role in bridging the gap between the bureaucracy and business sector. They can take the initiative and organise regular interaction with the civil service at various levels to foster better understanding and working between the private sector and the government. They could be involved in the training of the bureaucrats at various levels. Business executives could be included for brief training in civil service academies and bureaucrats could get training in the instituitions of Infosys and Tatas The government and the business could consider opening up opportunities for lateral movement of bureaucrats to business organisations and vice versa. Regular and structured interactions between the two sides could be institutionalized at the policy-making process, wherever feasible.
It is time we stop the blame-game and do something constructive to evolve a new paradigm of partnership between the bureaucracy and private sector for the larger goals of growth and prosperity. Civil service reforms can unlock the potential of the bureaucrats in the same way as economic reforms have unleashed the entrepreneurship of Indian businessmen.

This article is being given space here after it missed publication in a newspaper.

Monday, January 02, 2006

"The world is flat" by Thomas Friedman

I started this book tentativley, after the critical comments of Siddharth Varadarajan from The Hindu. But once I started reading, it became absorbing. Of course i do not subscribe to all the theories and conclusions of Friedman.

In 2005 this was the second non-fiction i read with unstoppable enthusiasm after Pawan varma's " Being Indian".

Friedman has given a graphic account of the supply chain which works seamlessly between countries, companies and individuals. He has highlighted the erosion of the vertical command and control system giving way to the horizontal world in which there is need to connect and collaborate.

For an average Indian, who is at the lower end of the globalisation which has opened unlimited opportunities , the book gives an overview and surprisingly balanced one coming from an American.

It celebrates the new spirit of enterpreunership unleashed among Indian geeks and bzmen.It highlights the emergence of a new Indian who has the confidence and courage to transcend frontiers and connect and collaborate,converge and synergise with the innovators and reasearchers besides the customers through call centres. The inexorable march of technology demolishing barriers, frictions and restrictions has become a tool for the Indian brain to explore its full potential and plug and play from anywhere. Anything which is digitisable is game for the new Indian hunters.

It is , of course true that this march is through the urban middle class streets and millions are left behind in the rural india. But the society cannot wait to collect all the passengers and in that waiting, miss the bus. Those who take the first bus are going to inspire and motivate the others to follow. With its massive problems of overpopulation and underdevelopment, India needs to tap into every source and exploit every opportunity.

What India has got so far in the shrinking world is a small fraction at the lower end. Not to worry. That is how the Japanese, Koreans , Taiwanese and now the Chinese moved up the value chain. Today China exports more high tech goods than USA. Lenova has taken over the flesh of IBM, which has turned into a ghost calling itself the "other IBM". Look at Iflex which has one of the best- seller banking solution product which has been exported to over 100 countries.

I was surprised to see so many pages of this 473- page book has India stories and Indian names. This coming from the other side which feels threatened, shows the arrival of Brand Indian..who commands respect because of the knowledge power.

I like Friedman's easy and conversational style of telling stories.

I would strongly recommend this book for all the Indians to reinforce their new found pride and self esteem and to get inspiration to aspire more. I hope an Indian would write the view from our side.