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.


manju said...

Mavin, wishing you a great year ahead, too!

Will comment at greater length tomorrow. :)

Sahaja said...

"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."

Totally totally agree and really happy to see the way u expressed it! I was struggling to put it out seriously!

and Happy Happy New Year!
Wishing u more smiles per day! ;)

Indian Home Maker said...

I thought my comment was posted ... now not sure, but no harm done, Wish You a very Happy New Year again.

I know we disagree often but it's always good to know what you think and why :)

Irrational Pessimism is not something that gets results anyway, I too believe in hope and action ...because no hope no action :(

Thankfully I only invested what we planned, so a deep red Portfolio is not really depressing, I almost get a morbid satisfaction out of being a part of an event in history ;) Just kidding, but eternal hope is what we live by so nothing can get us seriously down :)

The only things that did trouble me in 2008 were the rise of violence and hatred. I hope and wish we see a more peaceful 2009 :)

Vinod_Sharma said...

Mavin, I liked the optimism that you have shown and which we should all really be embracing. Anger, frustration, helplessness, fear, disgust with our leaders etc are emotions that we should express freely and always. But, we must never forget to use them as tools to spur us on, not make us despondent.

Yes, like you, I believe that we have a lot going for us and that India's best years lie ahead. Let us earn them!

Wish you a very Happy New Year too.

Mavin said...

Thanks Manju.....Awaiting your comment.

Thanks Sahaja.....They say a baby smiles 500 times a day and an adult just about 25 times. Let us all become child-like. :)

Gopinath's "Artickles" said...

Hi Mavin! India also got its first Olympic Gold in Individual events this year. It was also the year in which we both began to blog! I share the optimism we hold and agree with Vinod that India's best years are yet to come.
Wish you, your family and our extended blogging family a very happy new year 2009!

swaps said...

"An optimist thinks this world is the best of all the worlds. A pessimist knows it is."

Happy New Year to you and your family, Mavin.

Krishnan said...

Great post to end the year Mavin. I had a wonderful time with your blog in 2008 and will definitely have so in this new year. Happy new year to your and your family.

Mavin said...

Thanks IHM...

The market turmoil may continue again this year. We have not seen the bottom yet.

Financial and economic turmoil has not calmed down so we need to be cautious with our money.

The rise in violence and hatred is not a stand-alone phenomenon. What we see is the effect of a cause. A lot of violence and hatred visible in India has a root cause in bad economics, discrimination is opportunities or allocation of resources for development.

manju said...

Mavin, nice explanation of Black Swan events.

"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."-

I agree completely. I am reminded of some words by Swami Vivekanada-
"All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark."

We should certainly have hope and also be ready to work hard in order to achieve our goals.

Anrosh said...

hello mavin, ..oh yes .."we haven't seen the bottom yet ... the line for bailouts just seem to be getting longer and longer..
Then what ! print mint ?
i liked the note where the author bluntly puts it " we all want to have the illusion of knowing all"
And that's why we pay the consultants at the big 5! ? --should we?

Mavin said...


You are so right.....

We must show our frustration and anger whenever it is necessary but not get frustrated and angry ourselves.

A very thin line and a wise person will know the difference and put it into practice.

I am sure our and the next generation will work towards and achieve immense greatness.

You see the difference in attitude and approach from the earlier two - three generations.

Mavin said...

Hi Gopi...

Yes we began bloging and the world changed....did it??? :0

Yes the Olympic golds and silvers definitely worthy attempts and probably should inspire many others.

What I am not sure is about the lasting impact they may have left.

Mavin said...


Pardon my could give me a e-thump for this....I completely lost the meaning of that sentence.....

Wishing to see many many great photos on your blog in 2009.

Hi Krish,

I ditto your sentiments and hope to read more about the treasures of Tamil Nadu beyond Yelagiri.

Mavin said...


Pardon my could give me a e-thump for this....I completely lost the meaning of that sentence.....

Wishing to see many many great photos on your blog in 2009.

Mavin said...


Swami Vivekananda has been a beacon of light to us. It was a pleasure spending so many hours at the Ramkrishna Mission during my college days....

Hi Anrosh...

Like they say......You ain't seen nothing.... Experts speculate on 2009 being cataclysmic.

Indyeah said...

Happy New Year Sir!:)Yes,It's been a crazy year , a rollercoaster ride really,a 'bear market' with the life savings of many going down the drain, a year of pride in India and everything Indian with the 'Nano' and' Chandrayaan',a year of sorrow when India bled with's been a year that simply defies comprehension ,and yet there it was...and I,we,all of us,India infact lived through it all..the good,the bad,the worst...and yet I believe we have come out stronger,India has come out more resilient in every way possible..

So here's hoping you have a wonderful year and India has a wonderful one too,infact a stupendous one:) and something to think about...:)
''The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.''

Mavin said...

Hi Indyeah

We all hope that the coming days are calm and spurs us on to greater heights.

We must not allow temporary reverses deter us.

Wish you a great year ahead and success in whatever is your calling in life.

Smitha said...

Mavin, I managed to read this post of yours just now - Some problem with my reader. Great optimistic post! You are so right when you say that we have so much to look forward to. I guess if we all remember this at times of despair - things will seem better. And great explanation of Black Swan - I had no idea!

Mavin said...

Thanks Smitha!

Nita said...

Good way to start the new year, with hope and optimism. Happy New Year!

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

I think we are worrying too much about the economy. Inflation is down and Govt service people just got a hike remember. I dont know of too many of them being worried right now.

Mavin said...

Thanks Nita

Wish you a great year ahead. Keep your blog buzzing with those wonderful posts that you keep putting up.

It's been a pleasure reading your blog and more importantly knowing you.

Mavin said...


Worry on the economy is unfounded as we have a lot to do.

It is unimaginable that we should be facing a recession given the pitiable conditions in which more than 70% of the country lives in.

However, if you read any newspaper you would like to believe that doomsday is very near.

Inflation is coming down - there is a serious doubt on that. Food inflation has actually gone up and others like medical services do not figure in the calculation at all. There is serious need to recast the inflation index to reflect the current realities.

All in all - I believe that we should not be cowed down by international slowdown.....but to deny that there has been sectoral slowdown in India would not be correct.