Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal……..

The sun has finally set on what has been a wild roller coaster year leaving us dazed and breathless at the same time. Unimaginable events have taken place and the pace of events has been unprecedented.

In fact, 2008 can be called the Black Swan year. “Black Swan” is a concept coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

A Black Swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics – its unpredictability, its massive impact and, after it has happened, our desire to make it appear less random and more predictable than it actually was.

This year has seen a series of continuous Black Swan events both in India and globally with some serious impact.

Let me try and recount some from an Indian perspective….

  1. The stock market crashes in January and October has been a severe and traumatic experience. Millions of investors suffered large losses.

  1. The commodity meltdown was unexpected, sharp, sudden and deep. This has hurt investors, companies and thousands of businesses. Large losses have meant businesses have become ultra cautious.

  1. Hyper - Inflation in oil prices and its equally sudden and inexplicable fall has left deep scars on the Indian fiscal scenario. Food inflation has led to a piquant situation.

  1. Series of terror acts climaxing with the Mumbai attacks have had such a deep impact on our collective psyche, that even a month later we are not too enthused on celebrating the onset of the New Year. The mood is somber and most have preferred to stay at home.

Well we also have had our share of successful black swans. These have been in the pipeline for some time and we should be seeing the fruits soon –

  1. Launch of the Nano – showcased the capability of the Indian brand of frugal engineering and world class quality.

  1. The Chandrayaan launch has been a harbinger of sorts. I believe that this small step will eventually lead to great leaps for India in the coming three – four decades.
  2. The IPL T20 cricket tournament has the potential of redefining cricket as a game and spectator participation

It is normal to magnify the bad memories and make light of the good. The mind has a tendency to blindly accept the negative and doubt the positive.

At this critical juncture and as we march on to a new page on the calendar, our confidence is dented, we are angry at our political class and frustrated at our inability to be assertive and take decisive action against Pakistan. We are also staring, perhaps for the first time, at job insecurity, pay cuts and a possible economic slowdown.

In the midst of all this gloom - Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast


We shall bounce back!!!

I feel that we have so much going for us and there is so much work yet to be done, then why are we so despondent? We just refuse to recognize our strengths and find strange comfort wallowing in despair. The so-called economic woes are temporary and there is no need for IRRATIONAL PESSIMISM.

I would like everyone to believe that the best years lie ahead of us. The onus is on us to make this possible. Please share your thoughts and optimism and those believing otherwise do come here – we may have a cure for you.

Let me end this post wishing my blogger fraternity a GREAT YEAR AHEAD.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A - Z of Films: Tag from Prerna

I have succeeded in creating a serious image of myself. Prerna feels that posts are very serious and that she would like to read a fun post. She said this in a tag she has passed me.

Humour is Gopinath’s forte. I am more somber in comparison. I have tried my hand at humour and shall request Prerna to read this post - "Should I or Should'nt I - A Quirky Dilemma"

I have been scratching my head hoping that some divine inspiration strikes me………..and I will soon respond to Prerna’s request.

Now let us get on with the tag. List of movies to cover all alphabets from A – Z. Before I started, worry about X started looming large…Other alphabets protested saying that was not fair and I must be equally worried about the others. I was taken aback and decided taking on twenty five on them would be too much, so I beat a hasty retreat saying “I have been misquoted and my comments were twisted out of context by anti-national elements to deliberately create mischief.”

I now turn to the real task at hand…….

A – Aradhana, Abhiman

B – Back to the Future, Bheja Fry, Border

C – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chak De

D – Dil Chahta Hai, Devil Wears Prada

E - ET

F – Fedora, Forest Gump

G – Guns of Navronne, Gaddar, Guide

H – Hitch, Harry Potter series

I – Independence Day

J – Jaane tu ya Jaane Na, Jurassic Park, Jaws

K – Kabhi Kabhie, Khosla ka Ghosla

L – Last Emperor (The omitted), Lagaan, Lage Raho Munnabhai

M – Munnabhai MBBS, Miss Congeniality

N – National Treasure

O – Omen, Oceans-Eleven, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

P – Padosan, Parineeta


R – Roman Holiday, Reincarnation of Peter Proud, Rangeela

S – Swades, Sholay, Sound of Music

T – Taare Zameen Par, Titanic, The Sixth Sense

U –

V – Viraasat, Veer Zaara

W – Welcome to Sajjanpur, Wait Until Dark

X -

Y – Yaadon ki Baarat

Z – Zanjeer, Zubeida

Now I also have to deal with U (no - I have not seen Umrao Jaan) apart from X. Cannot even coin a limerick on this...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lessons we can draw from 26/11

November 26th happened and we witnessed three days of vicious battle. It also united the country like no other incident in recent memory has. Public anger bubbled over and there was savage criticism of the government in general and the political class in specific. The government of the day was forced to make changes and hopefully something concrete emerges out of it.

I was analyzing the entire episode from a very dispassionate angle and read with great interest all material available on all the planning that went behind this operation. At the end of it, what emerged was an absolute professional approach to the task at hand.

Let me issue a disclaimer here. This is not a post to glorify the terrorist nor does it seek to justify their objective or their actions. This is a dispassionate attempt to understand the approach and the lessons it holds for us.

When I look at what happened and the background information that emerged subsequently, a sequence of activities becomes clear. I will not repeat the activities but look at it from a management perspective.

  1. Complete clarity of objective,
  2. Multiple teams in place,
  3. Thorough information gathering,
  4. Detailed planning right down to the brass-tacks,
  5. Rigorous and professional training,
  6. High levels of motivation and passion,
  7. Complete unanimity in the execution team,
  8. Complete clarity of each team member’s role,
  9. Constant communication with central point,
  10. Real time alignment depending on ground situation,
  11. Ruthless and professional execution.

When you mull on these points, it becomes clear that any top notch world class management would have had the same approach.

I just wondered if we in India had imbibed these principles in our nation building efforts, we would have been an economic and military superpower by now. It is important that our recent efforts at revamping our security apparatus are carried through carefully and with a degree of thoroughness that has not been visible till now, more so as the opponent has a highly focused, organized and ruthless approach.

It also highlights that anything done as a job with little or no interest results in poor output and in times of emergency a complete rout. We need to inject passion and enthusiasm in many of our efforts and the tenacity to stick through. May this shock jolt us from our deep slumber and prod us on to meaningful action.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's raining awards!!!

First it was Manju with her "Butterfly Award".

Then Gopinath had this irrefutable logic of a garden cannot have a single butterfly - you cannot argue against that....can you?? He added the second butterfly.

Krishnan awarded the PROXIMITY AWARD. This, however, comes with a rider. I am supposed to re-produce this paragraph as part of the award.

"This award is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Let me now come to distributing the PROXIMITY award to some of my blogger pals.

I am most impressed by Nita, IHM, Manju, Priyank, Vinod Sharma, Prerna, Anrosh and Swaps. They get this award. I also give this award to Gopinath. He will be the ninth recipient and has already received this award. I presume there is no restriction in our perfect blogger world that a person cannot receive the same award twice....

Each one of them so truly deserves this award. From my perspective these blogs have become a daily must-read habit. Thank you all for enriching my life.

To end let me try and indulge in what has become the flavour of the season - "Say it Limerick Style"

Giving awards is a wonderful practice,
More so if they are to an apprentice,
Cheering my fledgling effort,
Helped developing adequate comfort,
To further churn out works of notice.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

An Award - A Fluttering Butterfly

Manju left a comment the other day that she had a surprise for me on her blog. Wow!!! - I thought, what could it be?

It turned out to be a bloggers award, "The Butterfly Award - For the coolest blog I ever knew". This also happens to be my first.

Thank you very much Manju. It has been a pleasant surprise.

This is supposed to be the coolest blog........award. I confessed to Manju that I do not think it is cool and that I am my worst critic. I am quite unsure of myself when it comes to writing a blogpost. A million ideas flutter through my mind and I just cannot make up my mind on what I want to write about.

This pressure builds up as a week passes by and then I start getting desperate. This desperation is made worse as I watch with a sense of admiration some of my blogger colleagues churning out a post everyday or once in two days. I marvel at their choice of subjects, I am amazed at their research, I admire their committment to writing and I am quite overwhelmed at their learning and ability to express themselves so clearly.

I then sit determined to complete a post and lo the next hour is like magic. Thoughts arise effortlessly and words flow like a river and they all fall in place and the next post is done. In comparison, my efforts seem disjointed.

So, when this blog is viewed as cool by some fellow blogger, I am thrilled and accept the accolade with grace.

Thank you once again.