Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Psalm Of Life

                                                              Copyright- Mr. Raghu Rai

To all those who spend time these days bickering about the good/evil wrought by one man on their cherished world-view, H.W.Longfellow had perhaps the best riposte :

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife! 
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mr. Rajat Gupta - Paradise Lost

                                                          Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A man who made a career navigating rookie CEOs through the minefield of corporate politics and strategy was himself ushered by his lawyer into the courtroom where he was sentenced to two years in prison for passing on insider details to Raj Rajaratnam.

Amongst his many stellar accomplishments, Rajat Gupta is responsible for creating an educational institution in India that broadened my mind's horizons, challenged me to surpass my achievements and gave me friends for life. For this, I will continue to remain grateful to him and am distressed to see him go to prison. 

But even in his fall, Mr Gupta taught me that America cares deeply about right and wrong and even though she may commit excesses as a country her people are determined to make amends. Judge Rakoff has re-affirmed my faith in the rule of law; this is perhaps the greatest case study that I've ever learned from.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Have you heard Charlie Chaplin?

             An appeal for silent talking

The answer to this title is a unanimous “No”. Isn’t he one of the greatest entertainers of all time? The answer is an equally resounding”Yes!”
Does this not strike you as absurd? If you have not heard someone, how do you know what he stands for, what his achievements are or his ideals? In an age of obsessive Facebooking and Twittering, silence is foolish. Silence, for the lack of a better word, is bad.
And yet, actions do speak louder than words. After flirting with bankruptcy in ’90-’91, India opened up to trade, overseas investments and basically got off the backs of people. The subsequent lifting of millions from the tragedy of poverty is an unsurpassed feat.  Years ago, most references to China would end with a funny intonation in Chinese, or some such similar cliché. The Chinaman is now no laughing matter. The singular focus of the Chinese masses has made them a force to reckon with.
In each of these instances people stopped talking and did something. I put a thesis here that doing is not any different from talking-it is another form of expression. A far more potent expression because it displays intent, sets an example and seizes the initiative, hence forcing a reactive response.
Doing is silent talking.
India is the Saudi Arabia of armchair analysts. The argumentative Indian has moved on from being an expression of exasperation into becoming a book title. Everyone agrees that we love talking. MBA lore is filled with references to it – “global gas”,”gyaan”,”CP”, “arbit CP” and what have you. Perhaps we owe it to a rich tradition of oral education – our gurukulas. Or the fact that we are a nation of many, many beautiful languages each with its own treasures of grammar, poetry, prose and history. In this age of rambling (and loud) conference calls, copious meeting minutes and ping-pong e-mail, Indians perhaps actually play a critical role in the global forum with all our talking?
The doers don’t mind. They are busy building the future and content to let others spend their lives talking about it. They are the Caesars, while we remain the baying masses in the Coliseum of Life.
Unless we understand the art of silent talking. And then, nobody can stop us. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The state of affairs (or the affairs of state)

What is more pitiable - having a man of straw for a Prime Minister or having men of reed clamoring to replace him?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Mancini Song

There was an Italian called Mancini,
who always wore white and blue,
there came a chance to write history,
and so he gave us 3-2 !!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How many seats does the BJP want in 2014?

Politics is the art of the impossible. Shri Pranab Mukherjee proved yet again why he is amongst India’s canniest politics through the presentation of yet another Teflon budget. In an economy that is clearly demonstrating signs of a slowdown, amongst rising input costs and harried consumers, managing to present a brief on the government budget while neither admitting nor denying constraints requires tremendous chutzpah and Shri Mukherjee has managed this.

This article is not interested in the winners and losers nor the how’s and what’s of this budget. The scope is purely to examine the why and the where from here.

The UPA administration has seen the expansion of government into every aspect of Indian life. However, this has not been combined with a strategic outlook for public policy. Whereas governments expand with lofty ideals, the lack of pragmatic spending soon turns dreams to nightmares and benign surpluses to runaway deficits,. This pretty much sums up the Indian experience in the last decade. The body blows of the Great Depression has only served to accentuate this effect.

The result has been the inevitable loss of purchasing power. Industries are starved of timely inputs and swaddled with endless red tape. Farmers are reduced to begging for a fair remuneration for their produce. The mercantile class remains a favorite whipping boy with policy flip-flops on FDI in retail and GST unsettling any expansion plans, while the householder is unable to balance budgets.

It seems a long time ago that India stood at the path of robust growth coupled with overall welfare for the masses. The NDA government under Shri A.B. Vajpayee has been amongst the most forward thinking administrations in Modern India. The Golden Quadrilateral project remains a piece of visionary thinking that has been unmatched in the last ten years, not withstanding grand promises to make Mumbai like Shanghai.

It seems that even the UPA administration understands this state of affairs, although a strenuous effort is being made to demonstrate control over statecraft. In the aftermath of a string of disastrous state results, the opportunity lay in the hands of Shri Mukherjee to stem the rote. An admission of failure would have been necessary but the situation could still have been salvaged by pruning governmental expenditure and stimulating growth through careful advancement of Indian industry. Such an approach had the effect of little short term benefits but lasting economic welfare, a la Manmohan Singh circa 1991. In not doing so, the Congress has signaled its exhaustion with power. The lack of a powerful leader in its midst, either by design or incompetence has led the Congress to throw in the towel for 2014.

So where does India go from here? This is where the current opposition has to play a constructive role. By commencing political re-alignments in right earnest, regional parties have the best change of climbing onto the development bandwagon to which only the BJP can lay true claim. A robust re-alignment is the need of the hour, so that the Indian public can provide the NDA combine with the mandate necessary to propel India ahead.

The BJP too for its part has many crucial areas to focus on. Organization will be key to the success of the 2014 campaign, and here the Sangh Parivar can provide the necessary strategic vision and “boots on the ground” to ensure that local issues are highlighted properly. The BJP needs to close ranks and project a powerful team who can articulate the concerns of the various voter segments and Indian Industry. Leadership and discipline is the need of the hour and it is up to the BJP to provide this. Social media needs to be engaged immediately to spread the message of progressive thinking amongst Indian youth.

In short, events are already in motion to provide the NDA with the absolute majority last seen 30 years ago in the hands of late Shri Rajiv Gandhi. In military terms, the terrain and weather are favorable, the current regime is tottering and whole sections of the civilian population are rebellious and clamoring for change. The only real answer to the title of this article now lies within the BJP and shall be reflected in their actions from now to 2014.

India watches with bated breath.