Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yet another 'slumdog' moment!


I came across this ad in the Telegraph's Indian e-edition. Don't wish to say much on it as we've got Oscars for Slumdog now but the way the west sees us is amazingly captured in this pic. This pic alternates between an accident site lined up with mumbai taxies and a pic of 3 really cute kids. Accidents do happen everywhere in the world, don't they? Just a thought!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

India's Heros didn't vote!

ipl cricket
The people of India are deciding the future of its land by getting involved in one of the biggest (and most intriguing) genaral elections ever. Perhaps for the first time many sections of the society which were otherwise indifferent to anything involving politics are coming together and are gearing up to vote for a change in the way our country is run. Youth are participating in large numbers and are infact inspiring thier elders as well.
I have been a keen follower of politics always and have encouraged the people around me to vote and make a difference. However, 23rd of April, when Bangalore came out en masse to make one of the most important choice of thier life, I was sitting in my home, watching the election saga on TV! Though I feel embarrassed and angry about this fact there is nothing that I could've done to change the fact that I can't cast a vote as I'm very new to this place and there is no way my name can be included in the electoral rolls and since life at office is hectic I can't travel 2000 km to cast a vote in my hometown (Allahabad, one of the Mecca of politics in India!).
There are many youngsters like me who have a strong political will and understanding of the situation prevailing in the country but are forced out of participating in the celebration of democracy.
Interestingly, while I (and thousands like me, recently displaced from their hometowns and thus unable to cast their vote) may be an insignificant individual as far as the list of my followers (on CnC, twitter, facebook and life) goes, even the heros of India did not vote! Our heros who are fighting hard in foreign land (read South Africa) to prove to the rest of the country that their city has the biggest cricketing talent (and cricket is one of the few common religions on India) are missing out the general elections 2009!
If someone takes the pain (I think the EC already does that, not sure) of producing the stats on how many people missed out their chance to vote as they are currently not in their hometown (for work or other reasons) the numbers would be startling.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Global Guilt is not helping the under-developed societies like Africa

africa poor
How and why the US and the other 'white powers' help the black of the southern hemisphere! A global 'white' guilt is being exploited by the political powers of the west with vested interests in the resource rich land known for its diamonds and yet to be exploited oil. The pre-recession era of the west was a place which had more money and less happ'y'ness. It is mostly a 'persuit' of this happiness that has been driving the white upperclass of rich nations to do charity in godforsaken lands like Africa (and India, recently even more after the success of Slumdog Millionare) and when charity comes so easy everyone joins hands to contribute. Giving away a day's burger can buy education for a girl in Africa some say. The charity is good but the problem is that the effort ends just there. No follow ups are made by most people, they trust their govenments which shows them impoverished faces with smiles and a bright colored flag on their favorite TV channels.
Movies like 'Black Diamond' are rare and though appreciated they fail miserably to excite the fancies of most. The west has been able to get to what it wants on most occasions. Many African governments are formed by the consensus of a 'white board' mostly populated by US and UK diplomats. If a couple of 'talks' and a donation of the surplus money of its nation can buy a land rich in resources, who would say no? The situation in a few other countries was similar. The west had an overwhelming interest in their resources and what followed was Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, etc. In these places the society had a tougher political structure and a resilient army to involve in a fight-back. Africa, sadly, has been slow to evolve to be a strong resistance (or terrorists as they are mosty referred to by the west for most other cultures) and centuries of oppression and slavery could be blamed for this.
How is India and the subcontinent different, now? Drastically! We have emerged as important players in the economic scene of the world, have an intimidating armed force and a global presence (even a couple of Indians helping Obama frame laws for America!). It is another thing that most important resource of India is 'Human' and it is in the best interest of the west to reap the benifits of the human resource that is reared by the Indian Government and works for them! A colony (or colony like establishment like in Iraq and many parts of Africa) would result in weakening this important resource. The 'Slumdog' is infact bailing out the west out of these tough times in many ways.
Post recession things have changed. The west is no longer happy and no longer rich (like it was before). Most charities have dried up as even the big corporates who wanted to gain some SRI (Socially Responsible Index) points are now shying away from donating to the poorer continents.
So, the big question is, "Can money relieve the situation or is something else needed?" The answer is not simple but a number of measures like political influence, physical engagement, representation of these countries in the world forums/culture, development of industries inside Africa and a genuine support for the existing ones can make a big difference to the current situation.
How would Obama be different? Being a black and all he's expected to bring about a sea change to the situation not just in America but in the world (or the 'world' of America at least!). But, quite frankly, how black he really is? Obama is, first, an American citizen who has lived his life like one. His political career is not motivated by the evils against the blacks (something that motivated Martin Luther King) but rather the equality that he's enjoyed for major part of his life. A comparison which is often drawn is that of Mayawati aka Behenji. The parallel, unfortunately, lies just in the heads of a few media folks and is far from being a ground reality. A dalit, girl child in rural parts of India suffers much more than the 'black American citizen' of modern times can even imagine. She has been a champion of equality and life for the dalits in India and if continents like Africa have to come up with the modern society they need many more leaders like her rather than a philanthropic monetary effort as an outcome of a guilt which has always pressed the white population of the world pre-recession.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

5 Observations

I went to Mumbai today for some work, and here are some interesting observations:
* 2 blind beggars in a Mumbai local singing "Darshan do Ghamshyaam.. "; 1 of whom was wearing a "digital" wrist watch
* A piece of newspaper or magazine with a shoe polish wala at CST station read - "India Shinning"
* The series of hoardings at Fame Cinemas, at Raghuleela Mall were as follows - 8x10 Tasveer, Barah Aana, Confessions of a Shopoholic, International, Fast & Furious 4, and "LK Advani". (wonder if BJP has even come up with a movie as a part of their election campaign)
* There were Streetlights lit on a particular locality at 6 pm, when there was sufficient sunlight and no lights at another at 8 pm when it was pitch dark.
* At one of the traffic junctions, a kid came up with a small bowl covered with a Obama's pic and the heading "Obama for Change" and the only thing that came to my mouth is "No Change".

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Competition drives innovation for auto rickshaw in Mumbai.

Mumbai is probably the most competitive place to do business. Irrespective of what you do, a million little management principles go into your everyday activity. Time management, priority handling, regular financial checks, advertizing, are part and parcel of every individual. Even a slub dweller knows that survival needs the best utilization of resources and time. Unlike in many other major Indian cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, etc. Mumbai's professional ethics and management are strikingly high. Mumbai has seen sleek business models evolve out of simple things like delivering food 'dabbas' to people who need them (the 'dabba walas', by the way are a six sigma establishment). There is an unsaid, un-documented code of conduct for all business (even the illegal ones) which makes this city a joy to live in (even with the presence of a number of goons and criminals who call themselves the protagonist of the story of Mumbai, the likes of Raj Thakre!).
mumbai auto rickshaw innovative
I came across a few pictures of a particular auto-rikshaw driver (along with his rickshaw!) who has found a way to cut through competition by innovating in the small space and scope that a rickshaw gives you. His is no ordinary rickshaw! If the other rickshaws provide you the usability of a DOS this clearly is very close to a 'Vista'!
mumbai innovative rickshaw driver
A first aid box would catch your attention first (not that you would need it when the ride promises to be so comfortable). A newspaper stand with news in 4 different languages spread across pages of popular dailys offers a splendid time-pass if you get stuck in traffic (which is inevitable for any major city). A small TV engages the customers while they sit comfortably enjoying the breeze blowing from the small fan installed inside the rickshaw! If the breeze of the fan is not able to beat the heat of Mumbai you have tissues that can wipe your brow.25% discount for disabled in auto rickshaw
The 'paint-perfect' rickshaw is clad with interesting quotes but the best one reads, "25% discount for handicap"! ('Only gandhigiri" comes a close second!).

PS: I just wish that as perfect as this appears his meter is working right! (At least in Bangalore its very difficult to find one that shows the right billing.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

India's best take to politics to fight it !

Its less than a fortnight to go, before India goes for poll and decides the party and its men who would form the next government.
There are those who are flooding blogs like CnC with 'vote-for-me' ads and getting mention in the national media mainly for pre-poll controversies and law disobeying rally. There are a few in the election arena this year who are already 'leaders' in their fields and are now in the fray to become 'politicians'. Here is a CnC exclusive of a few favourites:

1. Sashi Tharoor:

A writer and former U.N. under-secretary general, is rolling up his sleeves to contest as Congress candidate from Thiruvananthapuram in Left-ruled Kerala state.

In 2006, he was the official candidate of India for the office of United Nations Secretary-General, and came second out of seven official candidates in the race. Tharoor served as the UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information between June 2002 and February 2007, during the term of Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The author, journalist, and fellow of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, has had his eye on a more local political role since his return to his home state.

Born in London, he studied at Montfort School in Yercaud and Campion School in Mumbai, attended High School at St. Xavier’s Collegiate School in Kolkata and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi where he stood first in the University, graduating with a record score in History (Honours).
While at St. Stephen’s Tharoor was actively involved in the Debating Society, where he won every single debating prize available, the Quiz Club, which he founded, and the Students’ Union, of which he was the elected President. He then completed a Ph.D. at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Massachusetts, where he also earned two Master’s degrees. His Ph.D. was awarded when he was 22, a Fletcher record.
Tharoor will be contesting against P. Ramachandran Nair of CPI and P. K. Krishna Das of Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP).

Click here to reach Shashi Tharoor

2. Meera Sanyal:

Meera is currently the Chairperson and Country Executive for ABN AMRO Bank (now RBS) in India, responsible for over 9,500 staff in 40 locations across 24 cities. Prior to this, she was the Chief Operations Officer for the Asia Pacific region responsible for the IT, Operations and Property services for 16 countries in the region. As an Investment banker she has worked both in India and within the Asian region on a number of Project finance, Advisory and M&A mandates.

· AMP Advanced Management Program, Harvard Business School, Class Valedictorian October 2006
· FCIB: Fellow Chartered Institute of Bankers, UK, February 1996
· ACIB: Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, UK, February 1989
· MBA: INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France; Graduated with Honors on the Deans List December 1983

She will contest from South Mumbai, an upmarket locality and the main business district, as an independent candidate.
On a month’s leave of absence as she dabbles in politics, Sanyal will go toe-to-toe with Congress incumbent Milind Deora, the son of the oil minister, with Facebook groups and her husband speaheading her campaign. She said she found it difficult to align herself with the ideologies of the big parties.
She was apparently inspired to do so by the strong reaction of the general population after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, when the people poured out into the streets to protest the fact that they had been taken for granted for the longest time, demanding answers from the powers that be.

Click here to reach Meera Sanyal

3. Mallika Sarabhai

That thought is echoed also by Mallika Sarabhai, a reputed dancer, who is contesting as an independent in Gandhinagar in Gujarat state, taking on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani. Daughter of classical danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai and the renonwned space scientist, Vikram Sarabhai, Mallika Sarabhai is a renowned Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dancer.

Winner of several national and international awards and accolades, popular being –
· Crystal Award by World Economic Forum, 2008 for recognition of her contribution in art and culture to promote global peace.
· Theatre Pasta Theatre Awards,2007
· Nominated as one among 1000 women for Nobel Peace Prize ,2005
· Indian for Collective Actions Honour Award,, 2004
· Kala Shiromani Purskar , Institute of Economic Studies,2004
· Woman of the Year , Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC),2003
· Knight of the Order of Arts & Letters, French Government 2002
amongst many others.

She studied at St Xaviers College in her home town of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state.
The multi-faceted Mallika holds an MBA and a doctorate from IIM Ahmedabad and has experience in acting, film-making, editing, and television anchoring.
She has worked with victims of the 2002 communal riots in which about 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were hacked and burned to death. She has been vocal in her opposition to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, said she was against criminalisation of politics and wanted to bring the common man back into focus.
She also has support groups on Facebook, and a website, and while she is not expected to win, she has promised to fight.

Click here to reach Mallika Sarabhai

4. Capt. Gopinath

The Managing Director of Air Deccan is a graduate of the National Defence Academy and has served the Indian Army. He is considered the father of low cost air travel in India. He created a whole new market when he launched India's first low cost airline, Air Deccan.
Gopinath, who made the common man fly, is taking off as a politician again. In 1994, Gopinath contested the assembly elections from Gandasi in Hassan district on a BJP ticket, but lost.
He feels, “None of the political parties represent the aspirations of a new, young and emerging India, who are frustrated with what they have.”
Many support groups have come up in Bangalore for Gopinath. Young citizens and professionals can be seen distributing 'tokens' and pamphlets in front of popular shopping malls with a smile on their faces and hope in their hearts.

Click here to reach Capt. Gopinath

Sunday, April 05, 2009

70 lakh crores rupees of India in Swiss Bank ??

Yesterday morning, I received an sms which, like most service messages, I was about to delete, by then don't know what made me read it. The message read -
"Hamari koshish rahegi videshi tijoriyon mein bund takriban 25 lakh Cr kala dhan bharat lakar garibo ki unnati tatha desh ki pragati mein lagaya jaye. LK Advani"

when I was telling my friends about it, I found out that most of them had received the same.

Today, I received an interesting forward-

"Dear All,

Our Indians' Money - 70,00,000 Crores Rupees In Swiss Bank
1) Yes, 70 lakhs crores rupees of India are lying in Switzerland banks.This is the highest amount lying outside any country, from amongst 180 countries of the world, as if India is the champion of Black Money.
2) German Government has officially written to Indian Government that they (German Government) are willing to inform the details of holders of 70 lakh crore rupees in their Banks, if Indian Government officially asks them.
3) On 22-5-08, this news has already been published in The Times of India and other Newspapers based on German Government's official letter to Indian Government.
4) But the Indian Government has not sent any official enquiry to Germany for details of money which has been sent outside India between 1947 to 2008. The opposition party is also equally not interested in doing so because most of the amount is owned by politicians and it is every Indian's money.
5) This money belongs to our country. From these funds we can repay 13 times of our country's foreign debt. The interest alone can take care of the Centre's yearly budget. People need not pay any taxes and we can pay Rs. 1 lakh to each of 45 crore poor families.
6) Let us imagine, if Swiss Bank is holding Rs. 70 lakh crores, then how much money is lying in other 69 Banks? How much they have deprived the Indian people? Just think, if the Account holder dies, the bank becomes the owner of the funds in his account.
7) Are these people totally ignorant about the philosophy of Karma? What will this ill-gotten wealth do to them and their families when they own/use such money, generated out of corruption and exploitation?
8) Indian people have read and have known about these facts. But the helpless people have neither time nor inclination to do anything in the matter. This is like "a new freedom struggle" and we will have to fight this.
9) This money is the result of our sweat and blood. The wealth generated and earned after putting in lots of mental and physical efforts by Indian people must be brought back to our country.
10) As a service to our motherland and your contribution to this struggle, please circulate at least 10 copies of this note amongst your friends and relatives and convert it into a mass movement.

Col R R Joshi,
Commanding Officer
178 MH
PIN 903178
C/O 99 APO
Mob 09800046041"

After, reading both, I checked the May 22, 2008 e-paper of TOI, but sadly there wasn't any such article, atleast not on Mumbai edition. Yes, I am sure that we would have had many international black money accounts and bringing these back to our country and investing in various needs would help us a lot. But, do you think any of our politicians would be able do it, as they themselves would have been one of the biggest participants in such crimes.