The Show That Stands

Steve Jobs was a phenomenon, much more than just another successful CEO. Heis one among those visionaries who proved time and again that persistence on achosen path can lead to reverential success.

Jobs was a visionary, I said, someone who actually changed the way people perceived somethingviz. Digital media! Years ago, there was another man- Dennis Ritchie who wrote somecodes that laid the foundation for almost everything today including Jobs’ iPhone.
Ritchie isbelieved to be the father of C language and a co-creator of Unix (which laterinspired many other things including Linux). We all knew about him as students.In fact some of us, like me, made it a point to buy the book he had authored onC language (it had a white cover page with a dull blue design on it, andmuch more boring content inside for an average newbie to programming) when westarted learning the language in school. If parallels were to be drawn, therecan be no dispute that Ritchie stood way too ahead of Jobs as the biggervisionary (who actually made deeper impact on the society and our life over the years).
Whywould I draw such parallels? To those who haven’t seen it already on the newsand social media, Jobs and Ritchie passed away around the same time. While oneof them was given a heart wrenching farewell all over the globe, the other was simplyoverlooked. And it should not be a surprise that since we are discussing ithere, it cannot have been the way that appears normal.
Yes,while Jobs was mourned all over the world, Ritchie largely drew no one’s attentionon death. (Here I am reminded of an editorial that I read which said that itwas surprising how Jobs was so popular in India when there was not a singledirect Apple store and the i-products were so expensively priced that anaverage person was very unlikely to be in possession of one)
One of the images going viral on Facebook about this topic
Why didthe world hail Jobs while many never remembered Ritchie beyond their schooldays (though we all still remember/use C or its direct descendent programminglanguages)? Ok, a quick quiz. Who was Dr.Martin Cooper? Who is Steven Sasson?What did Mathew Gray do in 1993 for the first time that changed internetforever? Any answer? Now match mobile phones, digital camera and search enginesto the questions respectively. Do you see that we do not know who created someof the things that we have actually begun using as a part of us?
Rememberthe mega launches that Jobs held for all i-products? The gung ho over what couldbe the new Apple product, his routine jokes (‘there is one more thing…’), stagepresence, drama over his role in Apple corporation etc. Remember the media appearances and booksby Bill Gates at the peak of his success? Remember frequently seeing the face of Jimmy Wales on Wikipedia? The publicitystunts by Richard Branson? We do,of course we do! That could precisely be a major reason.
If youare an exceptionally brilliant inventor your product will become famous. Butif there is a story, a drama, a brand you build around yourself and most importantly continue to create news (good or bad, sometimes futile controversies) until your end, people willinvariably remember you and your contributions. Because the more infrequent your face or name becomesthe sooner you shall be forgotten! Not that we people are a thankless lot, but thingsevolve so fast that even five years mean a lot more than what they used to be.Five years back from today facebook was perhaps just a new idea, twitter was just about launchedand there were no iPhones!
In suchrelative speed of time and technology changes, it should not be very surprisingwhy Ritchie’s achievements and his adieu to the wonderful word he helped inshaping was lost in the smoke cloud created by the departure of this person whobrought digital multimedia so close to the common man (which again was based onRitchie’s codes to begin with)!
After all, it’s your show alone that remains inpeople’s minds and hence only a showman for life shall get a tearful goodbye and boundless gratitude from people for all that he did for them in his life! This perhaps is what the management guys call ‘Personal Branding’.

Five Reasons Why Anna’s Campaign will be a SUPERHIT

Anna Hazare and his team has invigorated a long laid back population of the country beyond any question of doubt. But ever wondered what is it that has made it such a viral success?
Is Anna the superstar of this campaign, or is its success irrelevant of the protagonist?

I gave it a thought, and this is what I found!

Reason # 1

The issue in question touches every individual in the country at the core of his/her day to day problems. You thought corruption? No… I meant MONEY!

I was amazed by the different ways the campaign was being presented- ‘Prices will go down’, ‘Alcohol gets cheaper!’, ‘No tax for next five years’, ‘Low fuel price’ etc.

For our aam admi who is used to working hard through the day as cheap labor and complaining about his woes all through the evening over bottles of local liquor, the prospect of getting rid of his financial troubles is more appealing than anything (perhaps not alcohol!) and if there is a movement for that he will be there... at any ‘cost’!



Reason # 2

The immediate target of the attack is The Government and the wider target are politicians across party lines. Everyone hates politicians… because they are meant to be hated! (Politicians and political parties are probably the most consistent villains in India’s history- even Amrish Puri and Gabbar Amjad Khan did comedy roles at times! )

And the timing could not have come more worse for this valiant ‘Tughlaqi’ government that nailed its own ministers and officials recently on corruption charges and exposed their own world-class scams.

(Psst… Is the affected DMK party supporting Anna Hazare’s campaign to bring down the government? :P)



Reason # 3

An old man threatening a pachydermal institution (you can call it an empire) to fast unto death in Delhi… sounds very familiar eh?

Yes, his Nehru cap (note the irony! It is named after one of Sonia Gandhi’s closest relatives) and Kurta apart, many people consider Anna Hazare as reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi and needless to say, our parliamentarians as their British counterparts a few decades ago.

And in a style that our dear old Viru Sahastrabuddhe said, ‘ … and this is World War… three!’, Anna goes out to tell the people that this is second freedom struggle. Why would I not want to be a part of it; something that I missed out in its first part and then ended up reading about in big fat textbooks all through my school days?



Reason # 4

The success of the Middle East uprising has set a lucrative precedent for people to come out and protest. A bunch of agitated guys with the help of facebook can bring down an entire government… Wow! And there’s more… You get noticed and quoted in some of the biggest names in media!

And who knows, ‘you’ .. yeah you the reader of my blog, could also be India’s Wael Ghonim and appear in Time magazine’s list of influential people!



Reason # 5

There is some kind of domino effect here.

-First a group of inspired people initiate the ‘crusade’.

-Seeing them, a bigger crowd of people from across the country hop into the wagon (thanks to social media)

-A lot of sensation and buzz is created around the campaign, so the media hops in.

-Media is there and so much of action against the government, the opposition parties hop in.

-So many people, so much of agitation and unrest- time for some international policing and there you have the USA on board! (today they send wishes, tomorrow they send the military- even if that means some more debt!)


Now you know that Anna’s campaign is indeed set to become a blockbuster… chartbuster…. golden jubilee.. blah blah… (I’m lost for words.. i really am!) but we must remember that these are not ‘watch now – forget later’ scenes from movies!

They have consequences, they have repercussions… So we must think broadly, decide wisely and act intelligently.

It is not about Anna, it is about India!

Chintu’s letter to Obama mama ji

[Dedicated to all the Chintus in our society who have nurtured the great American dream since their childhood, and are now at a crossroads.]

‘Hari sona’ gaon

15 August 2011

Supremely revered Obama-mama ji!

Myself Chintu from India. You won’t know me, but I know you and all the previous Presidents of the USA very well. How is aunty ji? Last week in her interview to the Fox News she sounded like she was having a cold and throat infection. Ask her to take some tablet, and more importantly good amount of rest. Convey my regards to Malia and Sasha. Hope they are doing well in studies.

Mama ji though I was born in India I was raised completely American. No I haven’t travelled to the US without even an Indian passport in my name. When I was a child, my mother got American tinned baby food for me and milk powder that American kids (as the advertisements claimed) were being fed. When I went to school, my parents always spoke about Bittu bhaiya because he went to study in the US. They told me right from my infanthood that America was my destination. They drilled into me the great American dream even before I had learnt to construct my own small dreams!

But you know mama ji, it was far too wonderful to shun; at least when compared to the life back in my gaon. I learnt to grow with it. In schooldays, I had my room covered with everything American- the stars and stripes, statue of liberty, White house, the bald eagle and the liberty bell etc. I have watched more American movies than Bollywood ones! I knew everything about Tom Cruise and Leonardo Di Caprio, and felt it unnecessary to follow their Indian counterparts.I grew up listening to Bob Dylan and Micheal Jackson much more than Kishore Kumar or Kumar Sanu. I have sat up countless late nights and sometimes up to the next morning watching episodes of Friends, Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother even when I did not understand most of the humour in them.When many of my friends fantasized girlfriends like Aishwarya Rai, Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif, I was dreaming and talking about Lindsay Lohans and Megan Foxes.

I may not know all the states in India (especially after they added a few more) or their Chief Ministers, but I can definitely name each and every state in the US and their capitals, and in many cases their governors as well.I have subscribed to the New York Times and I never fail to catch up with all the NBA action live late in the night (in India) even if that means going late to class next day or not doing my homework. I adore Kobe and will pledge anything I have to meet him in person. When we had to buy a car and we did not have the money for anything but Maruti 800, I was very depressed. At last I forced my father to take a bank loan (at high rate of interest) so that we could afford the latest Ford in the market. Now I drive it on the highways assuming I am driving down the countryside in the US, with loud American music blaring out of my stereo.

You know my list of most important things to do in the US have recently gone beyond 75 and are expected to touch a century very soon? I can’t wait to get there in a year or two!

But recently I read in the newspaper- whether it was in the Wall Street Journal or NY Times I don’t remember now, that the US is slipping into a double depression and that you are neck (or perhaps, head-) deep in debt. The people around me tell that the US and the great American dream will soon turn into a big fat myth from the past! Tears swell up in my eyes and I can feel the knot in my stomach, at the mere thought of such a thing. Do you know what it means for me mama ji?

It means that my twenty odd years in this world have been utterly futile! My one and only dream in life is shattered, and I will end up being a ludicrous loser in front of my friends and relatives. It could mean that I will remain unemployed forever, or take up farming in my gaon. I will never be able to visit those places I grew up dreaming about. It will be a very rude awakening from a pleasant dream that I have been living all these years!

Mama ji, I fall at your feet. Do not deprive me of my future. Save America! Don’t let it slip off. Shield it with all your might, for you know now that it is not just the American citizens who are Americans- there are a lot many of us across the globe whose dreams, aspirations, hopes and ambitions are pinned to the United States of America. So please bacha lo mama ji!

Pranams to aunty ji, and love to the kids.

Always indebted to you,


An Incomplete Attitude Shift

There would be no businessman in today’s world who does not appreciate the role of social media in customer engagement, be it for promotion or feedback. If there is someone like that, all that I’ve got to say to him is ‘The world is watching and talking about you even if you to close your eyes and ears!’

Of late I have seen a lot of cases in India where frustrated customers who are not redressed for their concerns approach the wider world to announce the dissatisfaction. Like I read somewhere, gone are the days when your discontent customer complained to his ten close friends. Today he voices it out to thousands and thousands of people on twitter or facebook! And worse still, even if you address the complaint the scar remains in the virtual world for years to come, available to anyone by just keying in your product’s name! If someone out there still questions the power of social media in brand building and developing a loyal clientele, I ‘m afraid you need to open your eyes!

But that is just one side. This attitude of free expression and uncommitted (yet valuable) opinions has evolved with the cyber world and open sourcing. The concept of such synergistic development through sharing has been further promoted extensively by social media network. Reluctant users in India who preferred to stand by the side and observe have at last begun diving into it, and the virtual world created by these networks is precariously threatening the real world which we are so familiar with. Common conversations seem to be dominated by terms like ‘online’, ‘facebook’, ‘wall’, ‘comment’, ‘friend request’, ‘tweet’, ‘post’, ‘network’, ‘follow’ etc. Like every other thing in the past that has been welcomed with apprehension, I am sure social media is also here to stay and it would be only wise to put your thinking hats and ensure that you don’t lose out to competition in making use of this new tool.

Looking at it from the customer’s side, social media networks are very powerful tools to grab the attention of those customer care agents who have been evasive for perhaps months together! I have myself had experiences in this respect. I contacted HDFC Bank and British Airways through twitter for complaints that were being ignored for months and I got immediate response, at least in terms of a reply which indicates that someone has gone through my case and I have a record for it now. The other instance that happened with me is regarding Vodafone. After having spent an entire day in the hassle of listening to IVRS and talking to countless customer care agents with their standard scripts I was annoyed to the extent that I wrote an open letter detailing the issue on my blog and sent the link to the Vodafone customer care ID and twitter account. You won’t believe me, what could not be done in one entire day of telephonic conversations was resolved in half an hour after I got a call from one of their senior executives who read my post! Now that’s the power of social media.

But the attitude shift remains incomplete. If social media is to evolve as the complete marketing and branding space, we must feed all kinds of reviews to the world. As of now it has become the place for companies to promote and customers to complaint. The wider meaning of customer engagement must germinate through these social media platforms. People on their part, must come up with all forms of review. Express your opinions and reviews- bad as well as GOOD! Make the most out of the ‘Like’ and ‘promote’ options if you liked something. It is only then that we realise the true power of social media. Otherwise it would end up as just another vestige once some other new marketing tool is introduced and companies shift their focus to that.

Companies and brands on their part must exploit the opportunities presented by social media to the maximum. They can interact with their existing and prospective customers on a one to one basis through these mediums, and what better way to make each one of them feel important? A customer who feels respected and taken care of, is definitely a success story for your brand loyalty building exercise. She is a promoter of your products through her channel of social networks, and in this new age there is nothing more dependable than network marketing!

Borrowing Victor Hugo’s words- ‘No one can stop an idea whose time has come’ there is no doubt that social media engagement is that new idea for businesses to thrive, and both brands as well as customers have a role to play in shaping it. The process has begun, but still incomplete and awaiting participation…


Appeared first in 21Fools e-magazine


Mukesh Ambani is indeed worried. For a change it is not about the Reliance industries this time, but about his highly coveted pinnacle of being one of India’s richest persons. He is rumoured to have had a sleepless week and seriously contemplating a sojourn to the backwaters of Kerala to cool himself off. But what is it that is worrying him?

A week ago Mr.P was just another one among the millions of his kind in India but today he is giving some of India’s most powerful people insomniac days and nights. Let us compare and contrast the two people in question to know the real reasons for Ambani’s concerns. Laid back in a lifelong siesta in one of the most beautiful places in the country (surprisingly a communist state!), Mr.P is not unlikely to be the last person you’d associate with wealth given a choice of guess. While Mr.Ambani works hard round the clock to build an enormous business empire flying from one part of the globe to the other, trying to strike the smartest of business deals, spending a lavish portion of his fortune to build his house and what not! Mr.P on the other hand resting near the seacoast of Kanyakumari does not spend a dime and has an entire city named after him (without giving any bribe!) and not just a grand house. But the biggest worry for Ambani is the simple fact that his empire is built up on a bunch of depreciating assets whereas that of Mr. P is well founded on a massive bed of everlasting appreciating assets!

So who is Mr.P?

He is none other than the chief deity in the 9th century temple of Lord Vishnu in Thiruvananthapuram (mostly referred to as ‘TVM’ or ‘TVPM’ to avoid stress on the typist’s fingers) – Sri Padmanabha. His wealth is a whooping US$22Bn and still counting. In fact with one more vault (last of the six) yet to be opened and inventoried, he is predicted to become the richest person in our country very soon. In fact in the Forbe’s list of ‘World’s Richest Gods 2011’, our man surpasses even the biggest of names in the field by a distinctly convincing margin. His US$22Bn is way too ahead of Vatican’s US$15Bn and Tirupati’s US$11Bn.

But as the universal logic goes- ‘With every case of overnight richness comes countless pairs of greedy eyes and hands’! Several of Mr.P‘s religiously loyal well wishers over the last few decades have now turned up with the 22 Billion Dollar question –Why does God need Gold?

Mr.P has been looked after by a family of kings, who lost their power to the invading British traders who later went on to rule the entire country for centuries. In spite of losing their own base, they continued to support Mr.P and even managed his finance. In fact the treasure that makes Mr.P suddenly rich and famous is nothing but a savings-cum-insurance plan that one of the kings had purchased in the name of Mr.P years ago, and was held back from being recorded in the annals of the family accounts.

The folklore of invading Persians – Mahnud of Ghazni and Muhmad of Ghor were popular even down south in the kingdoms of Travancore, and it could probably be for the need to protect Mr.P from such plunderers that the wise king decided to keep his investment a secret. But today Mr.P is in a much bigger trouble. The plunderers are not coming on horsebacks from distant lands of Persia or China, but simply walking across the street to attack him! This time around it is not an individual’s conquest but that of a legion of money and power hungry, influential people. The very kings who handled smaller fortunes belonging to Mr.P are now being questioned for staking claim to Mr.P’s newfound treasure. Talking in the Panchatantra style, ‘Of course there is wisdom in the saying- With fortunes come plunderers!’

But let me look at it this way. On one side we have our very own elected mob that creates a pandemonium in our sacred sanctum of democracy, misappropriates the tax payer’s money, abuses national treasures to build their own and produces (and reproduces) scams after scams. Also taking into consideration the fact that our country that is today in shambles of poverty and corruption, was prosperous and happy during its pre-colonial period of regional monarchy to the point of being called a ‘golden bird’; why not give it another shot?

Bring back the royals and let them take over from these scamsters. And this time, I don’t mind being ‘A Raja’!

At Gunpoint

First appeared in 21Fools e-magazine.

This article is not to be viewed as a negative criticism of the great efforts of our social workers who have forever brought people’s problems to the notice of the rulers. However, it aims at highlighting the importance of not viewing national politics as a taboo left to perish in the hands of a few corrupt people. The country needs smart and intelligent youth with sufficient life knowledge behind them to take a plunge into national politics now more than ever! As a nation of youngsters, it is also our duty to now give our long serving leaders a break to retire and spend some peaceful years relishing the fruits of their years of hard work. It is time for a more focussed next generation India that can take on today’s superpowers.


“You know that 64 year old industrialist Bharat, the famous man who was born on 15 August 1947? Someone’s kidnapped his wife and is holding her at gunpoint!”

Bharat is the head of a big family. His wife, their many children and grandchildren, and several other relatives- close and distant, and friends –all live in one large house in New Delhi. Bharat had started his business at a very young age but his risk fearing business model never earned him much returns. About twenty years ago, on the advice of one his sons, he revamped the whole business model, got into some foreign collaborations, introduced computer systems and today his company has, in its own rights, reached a point where they can dictate terms to foreign conglomerates! An unbelievable case of ‘rags to riches’ in the last four or five decades, as other players stood gazing at their development.

With large families and large fortunes come large scale intra-family feuds. Bharat was showing signs of ageing and there was a general consensus for flushing in younger blood into the company. As a result there have been widespread conspiracies brewing within the household over the last few months. But this one was a shock to everyone in the family!

Bharat never thought that one of his sons and a few ambitious grandsons would kidnap his wife, and bring his empire to standstill! “Could this have happened anywhere else?” he thought.

Bharat had registered more than half of his business in the name of his wife, and she was his pillar of strength. In his own words, “she is the reason for his existence”. They were about to bid for an international project in a couple of days that could get him and the company a global centre stage presence in matters of policy making, and this kidnapping drama had only brought everything to a grinding halt!

Bharat was down and depressed, determined to bring his better half back home by negotiating with his ‘own sons and grandsons’! By kidnapping the lady her kidnappers had brought peril to the same business that they were demanding for, and this was as stupid and futile an effort as young Kalidas’ chopping off the very branch of the tree on which he was sitting!

Needless to say that complete lack of focus on what must be a collective effort towards growth of the business can impede its progress and pull it down to the very foundation it was built upon!


This is not an aimlessly cooked up story without an ending. It is pretty much a fictionalisation of the present state of affairs in India.

India and its governance are represented by the protagonist who shares the name Bharat with it. The business he builds up is our economy and position among the other countries. The foundation of our nation undisputedly lies in our democratic set up, and it is the same thing that has been held at gun point by a few children and grandchildren who are none other than the citizens of our country.

However pure and honest their intentions are, what social crusaders like Anna Hazare and now Baba Ramdev are doing is nothing but holding the country and its government at the gunpoint of a threat. Albeit it is true that in our history we have Aurangazeb who waged wars against his father and brothers to prevent disintegration of the vast Mughal Empire so that he could be the only ruler of the dominion, and later Mahatma Gandhi who held the vast British Empire at the virtual gunpoint of a threat to go on indefinite hunger strike if they proceeded with oppressive governance.

But neither are we governed today by selfish monarchs nor are we fighting a foreign empire!

The government in New Delhi is elected by the people of India to lead the country, and reviewed for extension after every five years. WE the people of the country are solely responsible for OUR representatives WE elect to the capital. And it is only unfair if we ourselves do not let them focus on running the country. By going on mass protests and agitations, we are only pulling our country down by not allowing our ministers and bureaucrats to focus on what they must be.

Recently, Baba Ramdev created a flurry in the national capital with his threat to go on fast if action was not taken on corruption and black money. This brought some very important cabinet ministers to the New Delhi airport awaiting his arrival in his chartered aircraft, for negotiating with him to pull out of such a protest. Is this way of influencing the working of our democratically elected government with the support of a section of the population and media, the right way to go about brining a change?

It is not the intended result, but the actual impact that matters in such things. As responsible citizens of this democracy, it is required of us to ensure that we choose the right people to lead us. If we do not find any among the existing politicians of today, it becomes our duty to find ideal ones from among us and provide them the opportunity. And worse still, if there is no one else worthy of contention, plunge into the pool ourselves and promise to remain morally truthful in spite of all the eye-glittering opportunities that might come our way in the future.

Our fellow-state Pakistan is no stranger to coups that result out of dissatisfaction in the governance. We have thankfully been pro-democratic and non-violent in our approach to our problems so far, but it does not take a Rang De Basanti to jump from being a passive critic to an active participant in our own nation building process, does it?


Mobocracy against the world’s largest Democracy

“A democracy cannot be arm-twisted by a mobocracy” Well said Manish Tiwari!This is what must have been drilled into all those people, right from the beginning, who thought that anyone with a handful of followers and a sensation hungry media could make a monkey out of the elected body consisting of people who have years of experience of running the country through its various ups and downs in history.

Who is Anna Hazare? Who is Baba Ramdev? Or those people who claim to be with them like the Bhushans? Pappu Yadav is also a supporter of their mission who went on a fast in jail to display his relation with their ideals and objectives. Humbug! They are all overnight crusaders against the problem that has existed in our society for years more than many of their age.

The supporters of this so called ‘civil society representatives’ are of two kinds. One who are genuinely impacted by the social malady raised by them, and two the younger generation who have had ‘no first hand encounter’ with the corruption they are protesting against but are fairly excited at being a part of the Indian equivalent of the Middle East uprising.

The former category of supporters are assets, in the sense that they can give accounts of real life corruption incidents that can flag off the investigations against corrupt officials and organisations. The latter are a bunch of disoriented gullible victims of the new media craze who aspire to turn heroes like Wael Ghonim in Egypt, hence and otherwise a liability in the long term.Besides what can they contribute positively to the protest when their awareness of corruption is limited to the traffic policemen at the junction and to what is shown in Bollywood movies!

Anna Hazare does not have many true followers, and he is no 21st century Mahatma. One of Anna Hazare’s biggest achievements in reviving his village Ralegan Siddhi (the feat that made him popular first) is to ‘forcefully’ abandon alcohol and tobacco. How many among the Anna loyalists can claim to be totally alcohol and tobacco free? Also, Anna is no Gandhian style activist as there have been accounts of violence under his aegis in Ralegan Siddhi to ‘discipline’ the grown up people of the village and forcing them to live a life that he preached.

He is said to have justified his action of beating up alcoholics in the village thus. “Doesn’t a mother administer bitter medicines to a sick child when she knows that the medicine can cure her child? The child may not like the medicine, but the mother does it only because she cares for the child. The alcoholics were punished so that their families would not be destroyed.”How ridiculous and anti-democratic is this?

Anna’s social activism through the age old Gandhian tactic of ‘fasting unto death’ in front of a large crowd of sympathisers and thus tying the hands of the administration goes back to 2003. He used the same weapon against in 2006 for the RTI bill and once again in 2011 for the Jan Lokpal bill.

Such estranged and self-distancing attitude against the elected government in a democracy is highly unbecoming of a responsible citizen, and compelling the government to dance to one’s tunes by holding it up against an emotionally agitated mob is by far completely inappropriate way to deal with things- in particular a policy or bill which is supposed to go through a constitutional process before implementation.

The subcontinent countries have a highly inflammable socio-economic scenario that in addition to the ever growing population can be a highly potential and lethal political weapon if capitalised smartly. Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev have to be political puppets, for otherwise they could end up becoming causative agents of a cataclysmic uprising that might see no real outcome but an end to our stable democracy and a nation-wide political riot!

Capital punishment for corruption is both impractical and absurd, and as dangerous as the blessing given to Bhasmasur (in Hindu mythology). At one end, it could work out to be the most successful effort to reduce the country’s population as innumerable number of people would go to the gallows orphaning their families behind and at the other end of it, the punishment could become the most successful method used to settle political scores with unrelenting officials at various levels by hooking them to a corruption case! (something akin to how narcotics helps the police today). Both of these outcomes are not intended, but inevitable in case the law comes into force.

The gap between such idealistic propositions and the political reality in our country stems from the inexperience among the persons involved from facing the ground reality. Performing social work or teaching yoga is nowhere close to running a country. In both the cases, you cater to a suffering mass that craves for your help to come out of its pains and despairs. On the other hand while running a country and especially a democratic pseudo-continent like India, the greater challenge lies not in doing the right thing but in avoiding the wrong thing that could instantly charge up the crouching tigers like fellow politicians waiting for an opportunity to pounce on you. Idealism and Utopia are words that were never a part of the political dictionary in a hard core democracy like ours.

It is never about keeping everyone happy, it is about keeping the most of them as much happy and satisfied as they can be kept! It is not about making everyone stand in a queue, it is about making ‘everyone’ believe they are the first in the queue! That is how a democratic setup functions, and corruption (in a small but wide scale) is very much one of the key lubricants that ensure the smooth running of such a setup, and hence cannot be completely eradicated overnight in isolation, by a mob of agitated and spirited people taking on the elected government and its seasoned politicians.

Jai Hind!

Change Has Come To India

The people’s mandate yesterday wasn’t all that surprising but the margins had more to say than mere numbers. Like someone told on television yesterday, the voting for once was influenced by issues other than caste and other petty mundane yardsticks that have defined electoral reactions over the decades in India.

Each of the victories has a different message from the junta to the politicians, and thankfully all of them are constructive and development oriented. Let us go state by state.

1. West Bengal
The undisputed case of a historical result, overturning a 34 year old Communist rule and handing it to a lady with stronger communist values! Yes, the people of Bengal have not forgotten their Communism, but the leaders of the Communist parties have. They have voted for the political leader who stood by the poor working class in their fight against international conglomerates. The have voted for the safer custodian of true Communist values.

The result is special because it sends out a clear message to the political parties that the true power of a democracy still lies with the people, who want to change with changing times. A political outfit that cannot reinvent itself with time is obsolete and unworthy of people’s support. But the good news for the Communist party is that there is a lot of scope to change.

The average Bengali voter did not vote against the Communist for what happened in the last 2-3 years. Instead he looked around and saw how various states have emerged in the past thirty five years. He contemplated how in spite of being one of the first metro cities in the country he has had to be a passive onlooker when cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune rose to international standards of popularity and prosperity. He stared at the improvement in lifestyle of the people in most of the other Indian states and then turned back to find the same slums from Dominique Lapierre’s City of Joy behind him.

At this juncture the average Bengali decided that it was time for things to change. But now what remains to be seen is how his life travels from here now that the red light has turned green!

2.Tamil Nadu
The forever underestimated population of Tamil Nadu has now shown why they would not allow that trend to continue. Elections in the state have always been a contest of freebies and bribes. The more the money and gift you offer, the more likely you are in power. But the math this time was not so simple, especially for the ruling party.

While political parties blame the anti incumbency factor for the result, the clear margin of AIADMK victory in the state indicates that the junta has come of age. Corruption and disgrace to the state is intolerable to all sections of the society- both rural as well as urban, even if the persons in question have been their ideological leaders for years together!

Also, the decades long trend of political parties trying to capitalise on the illiteracy and lack of awareness among the people from the rural areas by showing them bright prospects ad iterim in the run up to elections has backfired.

The message – the days of blind hero worship and generational loyalty to a particular political outfit are gone, and elections in Tamil Nadu like any other state will be driven by results!

3. Kerala
One of the most intellectual set of voters in the country. I believe that Kerala is one of the few places in India where a politician however old or strong is brought to his/her knees by the public at the time of elections.

A five time state minister since 1957 K.R.Gowriamma and her party’s complete wash out from the scheme of Kerala politics after yesterday’s election result is the latest example of the ruthless attitude of the people of Kerala when it comes to politics. Also notable in this context is the election of long time NRI Dr.Shashi Tharoor from the state capital constituency to the Lok Sabha in 2009, when the people did not allow regional sentiments (Dr.Tharoor is not a native of Tiruvananthapuram and has never lived in Kerala) to work against a bright and highly educated candidate with international exposure to represent them in New Delhi.

By offering the UDF an utmost wobbly government under the strict supervision of opposition leader Comrade VS, there is no way the government can even consider deviation from the people’s expectations. Also this was probably the best way people of Kerala could show their appreciation to the clean and uncorrupt Left leader VS Achuthananthan, at the same time expressing their displeasure at his fellow partymen and disgust at the intra-party issues and problems in the left front!

The message from Kerala- Checkmate UDF! One wrong move and you’re gone!

Keeping Assam to the end is analogous to saving the best part of the cake for the last bite! Assam is the perfect example of the change that summarises all the aforementioned messages.

The one and only message that goes out from here- Do your job impartially to the best of your abilities in the welfare of your people and you shall be voted back to power. No anti incumbency factor for performance oriented governance. This is how a progressive democracy works!

In conclusion, I reiterate my belief that the mandate of the assembly polls clearly indicate that change has indeed come to Indian politics. In partnership with the wave of anti corruption movement across the country and youth participation in nation building activities, we have a bright and development oriented future to look forward to! 🙂

Finding The Perfect IT Dulha

These days, in most of the matrimonial proposals I hear around me the bridegrooms are from the IT industry unlike the olden days when they used to be predominantly employed in banks or the government. So I was wondering how one would go about comparing two people in the IT industry especially in this period of changing beliefs, fresh thoughts and sceptical approach to conventions and traditions.

Everything written herein is intended for unadulterated fun. Any form of inconvenience or displeasure to anyone because of the content is deeply regretted. In other words, NO OFFENCE MEANT TO ANYONE.


[Settings of a common 21st cent. upper middle class house in urban India. Mother, housewife, in her fifties. Daughter, ‘Four years experienced’ IT professional, entering later half of her twenties.

A not-so-costly yet luxurious looking sofa set and an LCD screen television. A manhandled Dell Inspiron laptop lying on the teapoy, along with its accessories. A few papers carelessly spread on the sofa.

Daughter, dressed in summer casuals, sitting with folded legs on the sofa clutching a cushion close to her body. Mother, dressed in cotton saree, poring over some print outs.]


I found these two cases interesting. Vicky and Bunty. Both software developers in good companies.


What about the third guy Ronald?

Waise… doesn’t Ronald sound like a Christian name? How did he get into that list?


Arre… His name is Rohan. Ronald is the name they’ve given him in his BPO. But I had strictly told panditji not to send any BPO CVs. Developer or even Tester phir bhi theeeek hai… (with a tone of compromise, and then sternly) But pucca NO call centre!


Ma… I don’t want a support guy also. They have shifts and all… It’s a big pain…

Mother clearing a few papers away from the sofa. Now holding on to the two sheets in front of her and reading from them.


Vicky works in a captive unit of an American company. Permanent employee of that firm.

He is less likely to be benched or lynched. What say?


Yeah ma, but service me onsite chances are more na? I mean if he gets a good project, he can jump to that company and we can settle abroad right? Waise how old are they?


Bunty is five years. Vicky six and a half. But Bunty has two onsite trips already… Vicky to onsite sirf map pe dekhta raha hai! [Laughing]


Haha… I told na. US or UK? I don’t like going to the US. I want to settle in London. But they are still in recession. That’s the problem. Projects nahi milenge.


[Looking carefully into one of those papers]

Hey look, Vicky is applying for lead roles in other companies. He might become manager soon… Then it becomes a very good case to proceed. Hain na?


Check who has jumped more number of companies? More companies, more salary and less likely to have had any strong love affair! [Laughing]


Both in their third firm… Equally good if you ask me. Kya kare?

Mother, rearranging the papers on the sofa and sipping from her glass of coke. Reality show running on the television, obviously on mute.

Daughter picking up the laptop.


Let’s match some horoscopes ma. [Logs in to facebook]


How? I don’t have their horoscopes. And who believes in them anyway. Sab kuch to computer manipulated hai


This is 21st century horoscope. More accurate than your previous generation ones. Hehe…

Let’s see… Vicky and me… See friendship… We have thirteen mutual friends… We both like Eminem, Pink Floyd, A R Rahman… We support Mumbai Indians… He likes NIIT? Must be some nerdy certifications guy… Hmmm… On the whole five out of ten… just ME.


What’s ME? And Bunty?


That’s the annual ratings ma… It means ‘meets expectations’.

Yeah… Here we go with Bunty. We’ve got ten mutual friends… Both like photography… Again AR Rahman… Aamir Khan… We like similar series… Both play Farmville… Hmm… Interesting. He likes cooking! Wow! Thats definite brownie points for you… And ye blog bhi karta hai? Not bad… He gets seven on ten… Exceeds expectations for sure…

Aakhir blogger hai! He’ll survive somehow… At least he has something else also, besides me, to drain out his frustrations! Haha…

Selected for appraisal… Chalo, isi ko pataathi hoon ab! I always hated arranged marriages!

File dot close…

A Grandpa tale… Or Life Lesson?


The best way to come out of a writers’ block is to (re-) start off with something not so creative, yet delivering a satiating output, so that on the response to this output one can build upon. So here I am, writing about a story that I heard from my grandfather as a child. The story isn’t particularly great, but its got hell a lot of stuff for a thoughtful brain. So here it is…

There lived an old guy in some part of India in a small village (although not in any way relevant to the story, such a start helps many people identify themselves with the good old days of grandpa and grandma tales) He had a son who went to the town everyday to work. Now this old man was very old (LOL at the sentence), and he had a wish. He asked his son to bring him betel leaves while coming back from work every day.

The first day the boy brought some extra betel leaves. The man had some and stored the rest away (in a fridge? I don’t know!). The next day when his son brought fresh betel leaves, he chewed the ones he had put away the previous day and replaced them with the fresh ones. And this routine continued. The old man continued to keep the fresh leaves safe and chew the stale ones.

Probably I used to fall asleep by this point of the story, for I fail to recollect if there is anything further in it! Never mind, my interest lies only up to this part.

As a child, this story wasn’t anything fascinating. But as I grew up, there is something I found ingrained in this story that reveals itself only to its seeker.

The ability to discard’ is a character that we Indians, in particular, lack. To throw away anything, we think twice, thrice and endless number of times only to decide to put it away for ‘some’ use in the future (this fictional purpose shows up every time we think of discarding something but never after that!).

Open the refrigerator and you can find food older than a week or eatables that got past their expiry date craving for your attention there. The best place to look for your family heritage, especially if you are living in your ancestral house, is the attic and overhead storage units that remain neglected since the time you have ever known them. You can be certain to find an old diary or photograph or sometimes much bigger elements of your ancestry there! In cities, we live in relatively small apartments with hardly three or four rooms but still manage to misplace something or the other every day. Like my mother frequently says, “Half of one’s life is spent in searching something or the other.” LOL!

And another thing with us. We associate everything around us to religion. Flowers, food, paper. You name it and I can find something religious about it! Until very recently (to be precise, until I completed graduation) it was a sin to shred paper before discarding it. I would be disrespecting Goddess Saraswathy if I did so. Throwing away food was beyond sin! Accumulating trash over trash, in the process! Health and hygiene – gone to the dogs! Don’t worry, God will take care of it. “Humbug” I’d say, if I were allowed to have an opinion on this one. But alas! That would be another symbol of my sinful irreverence.

So coming back to the old man and his betel leaves. He was a typical Indian scared of trashing eatable stuff. If God becomes angry, he may never get betel leaves again! But the truth is that even our religions teach us not to accumulate trash- physical or mental. Discard the ones that do not serve any purpose. For only if you discard the useless can you replace them with something good, something new and useful; and only then will life and lifestyle improve.If he had thrown away the stale betel leaves on one day, he could have probably chewed fresh ones for his entire lifetime.

So, Think fresh, Eat fresh, Be fresh! Make a conscious effort to never accumulate trash, in any form!

Cheers! 🙂

Image Credits: federico stevanin

Why should Japan wear a mask?


A brief look into the science behind tsunami and the risk involved in the Japanese tsunami and Fukushima nuclear reactors.

It was a Sunday, the day after Christmas. We were attending the lecture on fluid mechanics at one of the premiere coaching centres for entrance into the Indian Institutes of Technology in Chennai. Dr.Ananthan, a highly respected Physics teacher, speculated to have been considered for some of the highest honours in Physics in the last sixty odd years was pacing up and down the class (as he normally did) while trying to think of the best way to explain the concept in mind.

His driver, who was sitting in the car downstairs listening to the radio, ran up to our classroom completely panic stricken and announced that water in Marina beach was receding. The teacher dismissed this as some speculative news aired by careless media, and continued with the class. After a while, the driver was again at the door, this time claiming that the water was now flooding into the city! Chaotic information, and even more chaotic information dissemination. Luckily, the teacher decided to bow down to the pressure from the driver and to a few concerned parents who had seen the rising water levels on television and wanted to confirm the wellbeing of their wards.

This was my first impression about Tsunami that struck in 2004. Roads were blocked, and our persistent demand to the bus driver to take us through the road along Marina to have a prima face look at the radio jockey’s claims, were turned down. Little did I know until I came back home and saw in the television that we were talking about ferocious giant water waves more than thirty feet tall, travelling at almost 500km/h.

A tsunami wave is different from the ordinary wind generated wave in the sense that it travels at speeds as high as 800-1000km/h compared to the ordinary waves that travel at 8-100km/hr, and has a wavelength of 100-500km compared to 100-200m in ordinary waves. The wave period can vary between 10 minutes to 2 hours while that of an ordinary wave is 5 to 20 sec. This gives us a picture of the enormity of the Tsunami waves when compared to the ones we enjoy watching at the beach.

Tsunamis occur when there is a vertical displacement of the earth surface causing the water that occupied the region to turn into massive tidal waves full of energy ready to move in all directions. It is the energy that destroys cities and towns, and is depreciated by the resistance offered by the sea. The more the waves travel from the originating point (called epicentre) before striking the land, lesser is the energy content in them and hence the impact.

On March 11, 2011 at 2:36pm local time North Eastern Japan was rocked by their most powerful earthquake of the order of 8.9 on the Richter scale. By 3:40pm, water waves as high as 30ft strike on the Japanese coast washing away homes, vehicles and several other things in the process of invading the Japanese territory. But this was not to conclude thus.

Japan is low on fossil fuel reserves, and hence depends on nuclear energy for one third of their power requirements. The nuclear reactors in Fukushima have a rated capacity of 9096MWe and a fuel loading of 1100 tons U. In the wake of such a natural calamity, the impact on nuclear plant could turn things exponentially catastrophic. That is the reason why the entire world is now focussing on the possible nuclear impacts due to the Japanese tsunami more than any other aspects.

The biological impact of exposure to radiation is measured in Sieverts, abbreviated as Sv. An exposure to 500mSv, for however small a period of time, is considered very dangerous. An exposure to 20mSv is considered to be normal. However, health risks including an increased chance of cancer, mutations and deformed babies may result if radiation exposure exceeds 0.1 Sieverts. For one-time exposure of 0.5 to 0.75 Sieverts of radiation, nausea and vomiting will occur within hours, followed by hair loss.

In the long term, low exposure to radiation may cause cancer and genetic mutation while acute exposure in a short period of time can lead to skin damage, damage of the central nervous system or death, said Ngai Wai- tat, director of Hong Kong Baptist Hospital Nuclear Medicine Centre.

The Japanese officials have admitted that the radiation levels near the affected plants have been alarmingly high as 400mSv. There are multiple potential causes to a nuclear accident in Fukushima. For one, the repeated hydrogen and steam explosions in the plants would expose the nuclear core material resulting in massive penetration of radioactive elements in the vicinity, that could be very dangerous.

A nuclear reactor meltdown is a severe accident that results in the core of the nuclear reactor being damaged and exposed due to overheating. There can be a partial or complete collapse of the core, resulting in a large scale exposure to nuclear fuels with long half lives. Based on an improbable assumption that the nuclear fuel assemblies and control rods still retain their integrity in the Fukushima reactors, cooling with sea water mixed with boron as neutron absorber would help further damage.

Latest media reports claim that all six reactors at the Fukushima complex have problems — be it blown-out roofs, potentially cracked containment structures, exposed fuel rods or just the risk of explosion that has been great enough to force emergency measures, making it a bigger threat than the accident at Three Mile Island, but less impactful than the one at Chernobyl. The latest update as I wind up this article is that white smoke, in all likelihood steam, is seen coming out from the walls of the nuclear plant.

The radiation level reported in regions of human inhabitation is well below the dangerous levels mentioned above, and hence there is still hope of avoiding a massive nuclear tragedy. On a positive note, the Japanese are known to fight hard against nuclear attacks bouncing up to become one of the biggest economies in the world post World War II and hope they are able to redo the magic after this one as well.

For further reading: Resources

A play about Death- Review

Has the loss of your loved one ever made you want to come face to face with death so that you can tear it apart? Or have you ever felt that you are just another character in a pre written play called life that ends with your death?

These are the two aspects that stand out in ‘A play about Death’ written by Thomas Manuel and Visvak Reddy that was staged at Alliance Francaise, Chennai over this weekend. The play was directed by Harish Aditya.

The play begins with a monologue by the character Peter. He describes himself as a playwright who wrote a play on death but before he could stage it, the lead character dies in an accident and hence has to abandon the plan. His role is central to understanding the concept of death described in the play.

Death, he says first, is nothing but a random unpredictable incident in everyone’s life. At a later point in the play, he debates with a fellow character Ralph whether death itself is the only proof of a real life?

Ralph is the other main character in the play whose role is central to the concept of life itself as a play. His argument with Peter on the differences in the life of a ‘real person’ and a ‘fictional character’ is both hilarious as well as thought provoking. Together they define the traits that distinguish a character from real person, while conveying the message that after all, we could all be characters in a play pre-written and directed by someone (you can say, God).

Emphasising on the concept that a character knows only that what his creator wants him to know, they also joke on man’s losing battle with information overload (his inability to know even the facts that directly concern him) and the distinction between friends and ‘facebook friends’. End of the play, they conclude, is death for the character.

A beautifully conceptualised and executed play by a bunch of post-teenagers, ‘A play about Death’ is indeed a hope for the bright future of Indian theatrics. The actors were brilliant. In particular, the guy who played Gordon, the common man. His natural yet humorous portrayal of the characters deserves special mention. The actor who played Ralph was emphatic to say the least, while the actions and dialogue rendition of the guy who played Peter were impeccable.

All in all, a well spent hour and a half. Must watch if you are interested in some satirical comedy on an abstract topic like death, that camouflages its philosophical message to be visible only to its seeker.


[I have consciously refrained from naming the actors here because I fear that I might mix up their names and roles. If someone can give me the correct mapping, it’d be great! 🙂 ]