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Showing posts from February, 2008

A note on death

This death was like no other. It was not to be mourned, for a start. Instead, it was to be celebrated.

Each death is different. How silly it was for us to imagine it like a black curtain, beyond which our eyes can't see, but what must come at the end. But always black, always pulled with a string by an invisible hand, and it is always the end.

But, as I say, all deaths are different. Some in certainty, some in suddeness. Some distinguished by its ease, some tortured by its pain. Some of these mark a definite end, but some begins the trail.

Trail? Of death, or of celebration? Well, a trail, let's say at this time - a journey - as in Dante's Inferno, some deaths are the beginning of love. Yes, love - because love begins in separateness, to end in oneness. Death is the final separateness, to be matched only by another death to oneness.

Why am I so down tonight? Or am I drunk? Do I see the end of the road to think about death? But I am saying death isn't the end of the road, b…

Curry House Crisis

Britain's curry houses are facing a crisis. They can't any longer bring chefs and cooks from Bangladesh to work there. The Home Office has banned all semi-skilled worker visas from non-EU countries, and hence the crisis. One must note that curry is Britain's favourite food and there are 9000 curry houses in the UK. Welcome to the world of Polish Pulao and Bulgarian Biriyani!



Well, I have no knowledge, and therefore, no aversion, to East European culinary. Just that it makes no sense to have a polish cook a food which he is not accustomed to or would never enjoy eating. And, if cooking isn't a skill, what is?



This is indeed the problem of Home Office. They have so much to learn from private enterprise. But, above everything, they need to learn Talent Management. They are nation's talent managers. The problem is that they don't know that.



All governments either over-legislate or under-legislate. The New Labour under-legislated immigration first, and then over-legisl…

Obama's Moment

It is indeed Barack Obama's moment. He won another three primaries today. As he would say - change is coming to America - it suddenly looks very possible, an Obama presidency.

Hilary Clinton apparently does not seem to mind the losses. Though she has fired her campaign manager, but she is pinning her hopes on big states and kicked off her campaign in Texas. So, she wants to do Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which can get her back to the race because they have big delegate numbers, and then get a majority among super-delegates, the democratic party leaders and officials, to seal her nomination.

But this strategy looks like a mistake now. This is a dangerous time, where political calculations of the old may not hold true. This is the mistake which undid Guiliani, the erstwhile Republican front-runner. This seemed to be undoing Hilary too.

Because, well, let us say - because change is coming to America. A new 1968 is dawning. Young people, black people, professional people, suddenly unit…

Laughing Monkeys, Biblical call-girls and My Day in Manila

My second day in Manila was surely memorable. I always loved this part of my job - going to new countries and trying to set up a business there. It is very unlike a tourist visit, it does not have the trappings of coming to stay [as I did in Britain some time back] - but it needs all the involvement and sincerity that someone trying to settle in a country will need.

So, it was not enough for me to know that the Philippines is the only Christian country in Asia. I had to find it from my visits to bookshops - obviously I got into some of them in course my visits to the huge shopping malls that mark the landscape - that the section on bibles is huge, with many interested readers!

Also, I had a great time reading the newspapers. Filipino newspapers assume that every reader already knows a bit about the country, so in many cases, use initials for people's names. I have been noticing quite a bit of news on anti-GMA rallies happening since yesterday. Well, I must admit that I initially ass…

Kevin Rudd Apologises for Stolen Generations

I also watched with fascination Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister, apologise for past abuses of aborigins. I was not aware, but I am now, that the Australian government forcibly snatched children from aborigin families in name of assimilation till 1960s. What travesty, I shudder to think, to take children away from their parents and families, forcibly, to integrate them into civilization. I am sure all of it was done in the name of progress, freedom and civilization. And, I am sure this invited less attention from Western media than Mugabe's slum clearance. No apologies for Mugabe - he is a monster anyway - but some compensation to match the sincere apologies from the Prime Minster will surely help.

Microsoft says No - Almost

I was listening to some of the major Microsoft shareholders talking on Bloomberg. They are asserting that Microsoft should not - and would not - up their offer for Yahoo!. They say they have already transferred some value to Yahoo!, as MS shares are slightly down and Yahoo! shares are significantly up. So, Microsoft should walk out of the deal, and let the Yahoo! shares fall and buy shares out of the open market at about $25 [Microsoft's offer was $31, which Yahoo! says too low].

Of course, I have also heard Yahoo! shareholders - including the second largest shareholder in Yahoo! asserting that the offer was indeed too low.

But, funnily, almost everyone saying no has assumed that this is inevitable. That's what struck me - I am sure that with $20 billion in cash, Microsoft will almostly surely take over Yahoo!. I shall keep watching this with interest.

Yahoo says yes, almost

Yahoo! board actually rejected the Microsoft offer, saying it is 'too low'. They are 'not saying no at any price', but they feel this offer undervalues their investment. The current offer was at an approximate 60% premium on their share price. Wall Street Journal reports that they are looking at $40 per share price, about 109% premium. Microsoft, since they are in this, is likely to come back with an improved offer.

Businessweek quotes an analyst saying that Google will have a field day under the circumstances, taking their pick on Yahoo!'s top talent. It is an interesting comment, as this shows where modern-day technology acquisitions may actually go wrong. The M&A model is industrial-age, based on per share or Asset based valuation, rather than talent-based valuation, that it almost guarantees failure. Tom Peters made his point on talent management - why can't a business run the way a football club is run - and I guess the same should hold true for M&A…

Disagreeing with the Archbishop : Part III

The row continues, though it has died down a bit. This controversy has been useful, both to bring out important issues in British public life in general, and also at a different level, contradictions in my own thought.

My issues first. I have always believed that religion is a private affair, and should have no role to play in public life. However, I have been privately religious, believed in God and had referred to certain 'inner voice' for dictating my actions. Accordingly, I believed that there should be no legal accommodation of private religious beliefs, and 'all citizens should be equal before the law'.

However, I must admit that Dr. Williams' comments and the consequent controversy allowed me to re-examine what I believed in, and to understand why I was wrong.

The first problem with my thinking was that the line between private/public life is non-existent in reality. When I allow my actions to be driven by a certain sense of religious ethic, it affects my publi…

In Manila

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I am in Manila now. I promised to myself to keep posting daily on the blog, but nothing much happened yesterday. That's not true though if one considers my 18 hour flight, across God-knows-how-many time zones [I know it is late evening in England now while I have started the day], and the fact that I have used the flight to read .. well, not exactly.. to be more accurate, to listen to, the whole of 'Crime and Punishment' [which, I must admit, I did not read earlier and always felt daunted to read].
Apart from Crime and Punishment, I have also seen Elizabeth: The Golden Age [Sekhar Kapoor's movie starring Cate Blanchett] and Michael Clayton [George Clooney against corporate misadventure], and also listened to Tom Peters Live in London, a fairly interesting lecture by Uber-Guru. So, quite productive flight, I must say.
In Manila, I haven't done much, except staying in the hotel, which has a lovely view of the bay. It is a fairly decent Hotel room, though one would expe…

Obama Vs Clinton

So, the republican race is more or less settled in favour of McCain, the democrats still have to fight it out. Given the proportional allocation of their votes and many people still can't make up their minds between Hilary and Barack Obama, it is going to be a long hard fight - possibly going all the way to the democratic convention at Denver in August. The Economist feels this will help the republicans, who will be able to launch their national campaign as early as May. Of course, after the disaster of the Bush years, this election is the Democrat's to lose. However, in some cases, the race still looks exceptionally tight.

CNN reports that Hilary and McCain is almost neck-and-neck on opinion polls. The difference is within the margin of error in each of the polls. However, Barack Obama, when pitted against McCain, has a considerable lead, and all things remaining the same, he can win the presidency for the Democrats.

Of course, things can change and it will. Obama will have to …

Disagreeing with the Archbishop : Part II

I reacted rather angrily on what Gordon Brown had to say on Archbishop Dr. Rowan William's thoughtful suggestion that it is inevitable that some aspects of Sharia Law will need to be incorporated in the British Legal System. I noted the arrogance of the Prime Minister, evident not only the matters concerning minorities, but also day-to-day dealing of the business of Government [events like not turning up for the signing of European Treaties], is only matched by his double-standards. However, having focused on this aspect, I missed out far more ominous comments and reactions from the Anglican Church and British public themselves.

Before I quote some of the reactions, however, I must also set the facts right. Lot of people have tried to take a high moral ground [including most politicians] saying that there can not be different laws for different people. Which is grossly incorrect, as Jewish courts are in existence in Britain [Read http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7233040.stm] and I w…

Disagreeing with the Archbishop

When Dr. Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday said - amazingly - that incorporating some Sharia Laws in British Legal system is inevitable, it created the expected uproar. The Archbishop is the Head of the Anglican Church, and sits at the heart of the British tradition. He is indeed the most unexpected source of such advocacy.

His colleagues have since distanced themselves from Archbishop's views. Prime Minister's Office made a statement that 'British people should be governed by British Laws'. And, Home Office disagreed fiercely.

Let me clarify my position: I do not think a modern society can have separate laws for different people. This stems from my belief that religion has no role to play in public life. However, the Archbishop's comments are worth a closer examination.

First reason for this is that Archbishop, in his position, is not obligated to believe that religion should not have a role in life. On the contrary, he believes that religion…

Microsoft + Yahoo : Interview in the Redmond Report

Ed Scannell, Editor of Redmond Magazine, spoke with Dana Gardner, president and principal analyst of Gilford,N.H.-based Interarbor Solutions Inc. in about the proposed deal. I have reproduced the comments in full here. [Source: http://www.redmondmag.com/]

Ed: How does Microsoft reconcile its undying commitment to Windows with the acquisition of a major company that has a strong open source-oriented development culture?

Gardner: Not sure they can. If this deal goes through, Microsoft becomes the owner of one of the largest distributed open source data center complexes in the world. This is unbelievable irony. [What] they are saying to large enterprises is, "Our way to win on the Web is to go open source and we liked it so much we bought the company." They instantly become an open source company. No two ways about it. For them to try and shoehorn the Yahoo data center infrastructure into a Windows environment is the equivalent of swapping the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Ed: What…

Why McCain Matters

John McCain is all set to win the republican nomination after Mitt Romney 'suspended' his campaign in order to pave the way for a national campaign and to unite the party. Mr Romney had only a slender chance of beating McCain, but his stepping aside will leave a section of the Republican Party - its super-conservative american-supremacist christian-fundamentalist section - without a viable candidate of their own. Now, they are in a difficult spot - they can continue to oppose McCain and let Senator Clinton or Obama win the presidency. Or, they can unite behind McCain counting him as a lesser evil. The big question of the moment is: what are they going to do?

This campaign for presidential nomination was extra-ordinary. It was a true post-nixon era campaign, when both the parties had to do some soul searching and gave future a chance. Many times, experience was pitted against hope, fear against reconciliation, bi-partisanship against narrowness. This will possibly be the most la…

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday is the term of the year, so far! Like 9/11, everyone now knows what it means. In all this excitement, I was looking around for what other epithets other days of the week have gathered so far.

Well, Monday is naturally associated with Black - Black Monday! Not because it is the first workday of the week - that's more bloody monday than a black one! There is even a small poem in Bengali - 'Sukher sonibar, sadher robibar/ Abar jalate elo, hotobhaga sombar' - the pleasures of which I shall leave to people who read Bengali. But Black Monday is more financial. The original Black Monday was 28th October 1929, a day of great stock market crash during The Great Depression. In the living memory, the same thing happened on 18th October 1987, the day is remembered for the second largest decline in the stock market history. [Wikipedia] There is another Black Monday, as recent as 21st January 2008, which saw the biggest stock market fall post-9/11.

Before I come back to Tues…

Microsoft yahoo!s

The big news last week was about Microsoft making a $44 billion offer - in cash and equity - for Yahoo!. Or, this is the news that could be big - if the deal comes through. The fact that Yahoo! only said that their board would review the offer promptly sends out a positive intention.

So, then, it may start the wave of mega-mergers, almost inevitably expected as another cycle of prosperity is drawing to a close. I was told by Jonathan that mergers and acquisitions work in 10 year cycles - and the activity will peak somewhere in 2009. He is possibly correct - this one, and the ones which will follow this [there is a rumor on Google-AOL, which could be bigger] - will invariably push this cycle to its peak.

However, indeed, whether this merger will impact the long term future of the world/business/web, remains to be seen. Even if this is big news, this is big news because Yahoo! is up for grabs and not because how brilliant Microsoft's strategy is. In fact, this is indeed an admission o…

Indian Dynasties

Political dynasties are as much a product of the age of television and mass media as of a tradition peculiarly Indian.

The comparison with Royalism is understandable, but Royalism itself is not a problem. One of the oldest democracies - Britain - continue to be unapologetically royalist and yet democratic.

However, dynasties arise because of media's obsession about dynasties! Why do we know so much about Chelsea Clinton? Or Jenna Bush? Are we not seeing a dynasty in America? Surely, Hilary Clinton is gifted and smart, but how about a Hilary Diane Rodham versus John McCain poll? Familiarity is an asset in modern democracy, and dynasties lead to familiarity.

Or, let's talk Pakistan. Bilawal Zardari changed his name to stake it out. Or, in every other society - Ghana and Kofi Annan sprang to my mind - where a familiar family name is dropped to achieve various political, financial and social goals.

I also wonder why dynasties in politics are such a bad thing when it is accepted practi…

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