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Showing posts from November, 2008

Mumbai: Why are we getting it wrong again?

The usual and the expected have happened. India is cutting off air and rail links with Pakistan, and suspending the peace process effectively. Pakistan is threatening to shift 100,000 men to the borders with India, from the Afghan borders where they are currently stationed.

So, terrorists have won.

That's exactly what they came for, didn't they? They wanted International Media coverage and they got it. They wanted India and Pakistan face off each other yet again and release the pressure on Afghan border - they are going to get it. They wanted India to threaten Pakistan again, and millions of decent Pakistanis to feel threatened by India and betrayed by America - which is going to happen. They wanted to weaken the Pakistani state, which is going to happen. They will possibly even be successful, in the next few days, in triggering off a riot and undermine the Indian state even further.

This operation will be hailed as a great success in the annals of terrorism and many more operati…

Mumbai: The New War on Terror

Finally, we hope, the seize in Mumbai is over. 250 people, and counting, died, and more than 300 were injured, some critically. Two NSG commandos, fourteen police officers, scores of known faces among them. The entire city is recovering from shock and disbelief - the schools, colleges, offices were closed for two days, and now opening. The stock market opened yesterday, but the attendance was minimal, a rumour of firing nearby almost closed it down around mid-day. I would have said, the city is limping back to normalcy - but someone reminded me that the city will never be normal again.
Surely, questions will be asked and investigations will be launched. The government has to show that it is acting. The opposition will have to show that they know as much and are capable to govern, if power comes their way. Rhetoric will fly. Some issues will flare up; some issues will retreat from headlines. [One notable casualty of this crisis : Raj Thackaray and his MNS - we never felt more 'India…

Mumbai: Indifference is no longer an option

A comment on my earlier post:

Hi Supriyo, Your comments are profound and insightful. But they are a third party comment. Ask me = a Mumbaiite to the core what I feel when I see the fire in Taj, the people running scared. It hurts - something inside me has died. My beloved city is being brutalised again. It has been used by various people to push their agendas - we all saw Raj Thackeray doing this for the last three - four weeks. And now it is the terrorists. Everyone seems to be discussing about what has happened - what are we going to do to stop this from happening again? Are we just going to fill blogs or are we going to get on to the streets and demand that our politicians do something about what has happened. We seem to be always ready to march on the streets for religious ceremonies, weddings, protests etc. Are we ready to march for our safety and our security? OR are we going to continue to cower in our houses or worse, pretend it never happened and carry on?

We heard Sobha De tal…

The Attack on Mumbai

I feel angry. I can not sleep. The TV still shows the pictures of TajMahal Hotel burning, bodies lying on street, blood stains and sounds of gunshot. I felt like this during the Belsan seize, when innocent school children were held hostage. Filled with a WHY in my mind. A terrible dawn, this - the terrible dawn Faiz Ahmed Faiz saw on 15th August 1947. Our country is imploding from a seize within.

The day will go down as India's 9/11. The day the fear made a comeback. Terrorists came on boat, and seized, without much resistance, some of our treasured landmark. Held our biggest city hostage. Killed the guests to our country. And, some of our best police officers. And, innocent citizens.

And, all these terrorists were our citizens. Most probably.

All they wanted to do is to play on our fear. Their aim : stoke our idiocy, and start another riot. They tried to strike us down, when the nation is wreathing under the global recession, sustained inflation and all that. They used our weakness …

The Attack on Mumbai

I am watching the TV - the terrorist attack on Mumbai is being telecast live. This is going to be a long and cruel night. It seems that terrorists have taken over certain spots in Mumbai - VT station, a cafe in Colaba, and some of key hotels downtown. There seems to be encounters going on in different locations in South Mumbai. The reports are also saying that groups of young men, armed with grenades, explosives and assault rifles, have come into hotels and asked for British and American nationals and taken them away. There is a lot of confusion on the streets, and TV channels are broadcasting whatever they can.
One noticeable thing is that there is a complete communication breakdown. The police did not make any substantial statement - no facts are being shared or communicated. I can see, right at this time, the Home Minister of India, ShivrajPatil, is making a statement. The statement sounds unsure and he is vainly trying to reassure people to stay calm, not to draw conclusions and w…

Managing the Mediocre

HR's brave new frontier is, of course, Talent Management. As Tom Peters puts it [as no one but Tom Peter can put it] - look at a business like a football team or an Orchestra, hire top talent and let them play. This whole thing about Talent is music to all ears, hire the best, retain the best and reward the best - and you get the job done.

I believe in it. Yes, of course, the reasoning is obvious, and proof all too evident. There may be debate on what the top talent is - Tom Peters talks about someone who is a nonconformist, who 'would have screwed up something when they were twenty' - and how best to get them. But it is undeniable that being able to hire the best people puts the organization on a positive feedback loop, and improves performance beyond ordinary measures.

However, the question is how to hire these people. They are not always available, looking for jobs. They are usually motivated by money, opportunity or by something more intangible - like making a difference…

The Philosophy of Gated Community

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The ultimate middle class urban Indian dream is to be able to live in a Gated Community. Yes, like the one above - which has nice playgrounds and swimming pools and 24x7 security and all modern luxuries of life. One can not avoid the city, its potholes, its terrible people, its hustle and bustle, the traffic, the pollution and the noise. And, hence, the ultimate dream is to be able to live completely oblivious of this, inside a community of like-minded high-earners, who are educated and suave, who send their children to expensive schools and attend the right parties, and share a similar mindset.
Gated communities, hence, have sprang up all over India and found eager buyers. Sumit, a friend and one who bought a two bed flat in a Calcutta property, explained:
More than one reason, really. First, there is no law and order outside - the first thing you will have to pay is a tola to local musclemen if you want to live anywhere else. You are at least immune from that here. Besides, the facili…

A Note on Future

Today there was snow in the morning, followed by some afternoon rain and a bitter cold breeze afterwards. It was too daunting to venture out, and besides I did not intend to go out to the mall because I did not have anything to buy. I have noticed, indeed, such days when I am out and about without the need to buy something, I end up buying things which are completely unnecessary. So, I stayed home to keep myself away from such wastefulness.
My mood isn't all too sunny, so this caution was well-timed. I have this feeling which is midway between despondent and totally desperate, and I guess it is not getting any better. The news channels are full of gloomy news, and everyone you talk to is down too. British economy seemed to have taken the hit - and it seems, will continue to take hits in the coming days - from this recession. As expected, the United States look far more resilient than Britain, though I am sure it is not exactly at the best of its economic health right now.
Compared …

Preparing for 2009

I am hoping, despite various commitments on the calendar, that I shall stay home for the next six weeks to Christmas. In fact, I am dreaming about a week's leave around Christmas and may even take a short trip outside London. Indeed, I need all the time to recharge and resurrect myself - I have spent 2008 trying too hard. It is almost time for me to recount what happened, and what hasn't happened, and prepare fresh for the oncoming year.

2008 was a rather terrible year for me. Not as bad as 2006 - when I come to think - when I lost my mother and faced serious setbacks in my personal life; 2008 started as a promising year, building on the hard won gains of 2007, but did not deliver on the promises. Of course, 2008 was a ruinous year for many people, across the world. A credit crisis broke, and many people are significantly worse off today than they were at the beginning of the year. So, I can't complain, in fact, I should consider myself somewhat lucky by that measure. But, …

The 'Modern' Entrepreneur

I have structured my career wrongly so far. I have worked hard, trying to learn skills and understand how businesses work, and wanted to save up a bit of capital in the process. All I wanted to become is an entrepreneur, independent, high-achiever. But, as I know now, my imagination of 'entrepreneur' was wrong. Or, it is, at the least, dated. In these boom-bust age of hypercapitalism, the entrepreneur needs to be a modern entrepreneur, one that runs with different rules than those in the book. Here is my take of the Modern Entrepreneur. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The 'modern entrepreneur' is usually young, energetic and high living. He is modern because most of his ideas and actions are determined by pop capitalism [aka Richard Branson] and he has, most probably, come of age in the new millennium. He is an economic agent, and he value-adds through opportunity-mining. He appreciates nothing but money, sees no sin in lu…

FASHION: The Movie

I went to watch Priyanka Chopra in FASHION, but was impressed by the movie itself instead. It's a MadhurBhandarkar movie, and I learnt [I am not exactly top of things bollywood] that he made his name making movies depicting real life situations. I have seen PAGE 3 in bits and pieces, and it was okay - it was a bit simplistic but had a message. FASHION too was a bit simplistic on that scale, but impressive in its execution.

Like so many other bollywood movies, FASHION really does not have a story. The young MeghnaMathur of Chandigarh defies her parents and comes to Mumbai to be 'a supermodel'. After lots of catchy lines, a sequence of improbable good luck and a string of impressive costumes, Meghna falls a victim of her own success, steps over the line when she makes public her affairs with her married benefactor, and is soon dumped, back to Chandigarh. There is a follow-up story, indeed, of her second coming and struggles, where her parents now support her and gives her t…

BPO in India

I am back in Dubai again, and writing this post sitting at the lounge. This has almost become a routine, long absences from writing and then a resumption on my way back, or on transit, always at this airport lounge. By the last calculation, I have taken 42 Emirates flights this year, coming back to this lounge, therefore, 21 times in the past 11 months. This is indeed too frequent for my liking, but I increasingly like the writing practise I get at this airport.

I have chosen to read CHINDIA - a Businessweek collection on China and India, and the new marketplace in general. Interesting read, full of usual optimism and the usual warnings. Some new insights were revealing - for example, how the Chinese consumption pattern today is different from the consumption pattern of India. Though we don't see it, this book is cautiously optimistic about India, and goes on to postulate that India may have a better long term potential than China, primarily because of its large and growing working…

India's Favourite Australian - a Farewell

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Cricket is a great game because it always delivers the unexpected. Just as it did, a few minutes earlier, when SouravGanguly, playing his last innings, was foxed first ball by Jason Krejza, the rookie Australian off-spinner. A duck in the end - Sourav was so incredulous that he did not take down his pads after he went back to Pavilion. The crowd, which cheered him in, stood up for him on his way back, sportingly, and greeted him as a hero as they always did.

It has indeed been a long journey for Sourav, one of the most colourful cricketers in our generation. He came in with public doubts about his temperament. He performed, and forced himself in the team, in the face of a consistent whispering campaign in the media. I do remember watching his whole first innings in Test Match cricket, at the Lord's, where he scored a balanced, well-composed century. Another century in following test, as well as a few wickets through his part-time bowling, sealed his place in the team soon thereaft…

Obama's Day

I lived through a bit of personal history again. I recalled that I was in Dhaka on September 11th, 2001. Returning from office that afternoon, we watched with shock and awe the twin towers coming down, with a feeling of despair, uncertainty and fear. I knew the world will change, and it did. That moment is still vividly captured in my memory.

So will be this morning. At the cost of being late for meetings this morning and missing out on seeing a very dear friend, I watched, with hope and expectation this time, the election results coming from America. I held on till the time John McCain walked on the stage and gave a very dignified, gracious and courageous concession speech. I am again in Dhaka, by the way, and I knew that the post-9/11 veil of fear will now be lifted. America, almost unbelievably, has a President in Barack Obama. The world will never be the same again.

Why do I rejoice? Because this is a win for freedom, possibility and hope. John McCain was a very good candidate, one …

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