Sunday, September 27, 2009

Will slogans make India?

The thought was incited when I read Mr. N R Narayana Murthy saying "Slogans will not make India a superpower" during the recent inauguration of the extension to the Training Centre at the DC of Infosys in Mysore.

Indians are highly inclined towards 'Drama'. Our Politics and Bollywood movies provide ample exemplars to it. A Government at the State or Centre isn't formed untill there is a bit of mud-slinging, accusations and counter-accusations, video-clips of unethical (highly subjective term) acts by a leader or his/her scion, digging the past, horse trading, defection and more of all these. Similarly, Bollywood movies. When Politics aggravate you, Bollywood would either make critics laugh or get die hard fans in tears or in a state of mesmersim. Some instances are here -

1. When you start dancing on the road, every person you encounter would know the dance steps!

2. One of the 2 identical twin or brother is always treading the wrong path (say Amitabh Bachchan in Deewar or Anil Kapoor in Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja)

3. A 'Hero', if seen in a death scene would either die on his mother's lap/from his mother's hands (Sanjay Dutt in Vastav) or the 'Intekaam ki jwala' would be so highly inflammatory that the 'Hero' would end himself along with the villain (Shahrukh Khan in Baazigar)

4. A Hero if running in childhood, would go on to be an adult when the villain who killed his dad is chasing him and he gets on to a fast-moving Goods Train. The next destination cannot be anything other than Mumbai and the first place to be shown in Mumbai has to be either Victoria Terminus or Marine Drive!

4. And yeah....!! Who could forget the opening scene of Amar Akbar Anthony where 3 men (who eventually happen to be brothers) donate blood to a woman (who eventually is the mother of the eventual brothers) simultaneously. If that could have happened in reality, it would have made the life of many a surgeons easier perhaps!

With all these in tact which looks positive to rule our Politics and Bollywood for another few centuries or so, SLOGANS too occupy the forefront. We've had a plethora of Slogans. Some of them have inspired many to attain certain goals and some of them have been drubbed and severed into the nearest dustbins. Let's take a look at some of them which really made sense.

1. "Inquilab Zindabad", ,eaning "Hail the Revolution" or "Long Live Revolution". Came from the vociferous Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Boy! How did it inspire many a revolutionaries who disagreed with the non-violence preached and practiced by Mahatma Gandhi. Though violence would be the last thing any sensible person would want on this earth, it did make sense those days, given the treatement meted out by the Brits on Indians in their own motherland. Even the Bhagavadgita speaks of the '4 Diplomatic Principles' i.e. - Saama, Daana, DanDa, Bheda - meaning - to correct someone politely (Saama), to correct someone by giving (Daana), to correct someone by punishment (DanDa) and to correct someone by way of discrimination (Bheda)

2. Next that comes to my mind is one more given during the freedom struggle. "Quit India" by Mahatma Gandhi during the 'Quit India Movement' or 'Bharath ChoDo Aandolan' in 1942. Very easily, one of those movements which made the Indian struggle stonger and eventually the world's most powerful empire of those days crippled and crumbled.

3. By far, the oldest I can remember, again from the Freedom struggle - "Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it!". Came from Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

4. Freedom struggle slogan one more time - "Simon, go back!", given by Lala Lajapat Rai who was more popular as 'Lion of Punjab' or 'Punjab Kesari'. "Simon, go back!" was given at the backdrop of 'Simon Commission', a team of British MPs that came to India. During one of those protests against the Simon Commission, Lala was injured by the caning of the Brits and lost his life.

5. "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan", meaning, "Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer". This is my most favourite Slogan, given that it emphasizes the importance of two of our saviours to whom we will always remain indebted, no matter what! Given by Lal Bahadur Shastri in the mid 1960s. It primarily came to motivate our soldiers to remain committed in defending the Nation (May be we had just fought a war with Pakistan) and also were facing an acute shortage of food. It had an addition in 1998 by the then PM A B Vajapayee after the 'success' (over which question marks are raised now) of Pokhran Tests which was "Jai Vigyaan"

When these slogans will always find a reverred place in the history books, there are a few extra-celestial ones which lost meaning or were rejected by the public. Here are a few of them.

1. "Gareebi HaTaao" - If this worked/works nothing better than that. It did make sense when it was given by the 'Iron' Lady, Late Indira Gandhi, our Former PM during the 1971 General Elections. It also helped her and her party garner many a votes and create a bastion for them for decades to come. But the Slogan remained a Slogan for some of these very reasons. Today, 350 million Indians are illiterates. 318 million Indians do not have access to safe drinking water. 250 million Indians do not have access to basic medical care. 630 million Indians do not have access to sanitation facilities. 51% Indian children are undernourished. 52% of primary schools in India have only one teacher for every 2 classes. 300 million Indians live on Rs. 545 per month. Looks like the almighty abode under-heard the slogan to be "Gareebi BaDhao". Though the Slogan was in the right direction and thought, it remains meaningless as the WILL to implement the same wasn't the same as the will to discover or create that Slogan!

2. "India Shining" - It was a classic case of over-optimism from the BJP led NDA in the 2004 General Elections. With all the above mentioned statistics at it's helm, who could see the shine and glitter in India? Rural India which is the 'Electoral strength' of our political parties couldn't connect themselves with "India Shining" like the Urban India who are their 'Economic Strength'. It deservedly failed.

3. "Chak De! India" - Though a movie title, it soon turned out to be a Slogan. Very soon it also lost significance as the Indian Hockey Team whom it wanted to inspire to regain it's lost glory, failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics 2008.

4. "Jai Ho!" - Every jerk in India shouts this Slogan now, thanks to the legendary A R Rahman and 10 Academy Awards to the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Say for example, India wins the toss, elects to bat, wins the match with very little contribution from M S Dhoni. A Dhoni fan would eulogize Dhoni's decision to bat first and shout "Jai Ho! Dhoni Bhayya". Similarly, when some XYZ party wins a corporation or a Panchayat election, the winners would be taken on a victory parade across the city or the village with the supporters howling "Jai Ho! XYZ". A resounding and an unequivocal "Jai Ho!" to all those jerks from my end! :-))

These were a few glimpses about the Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down Slogans. When a few can inspire people, many would remain meaningless. But none would be a success unless and untill acted upon with the WILL. Incessant rains last week in Bangalore made common man's life a literal HELL. When the Chief Minister's car can zoom as per it's well and wish causing mayhem to the general public at large, why should TVS Scooty of a common man drown in rain due to improper planning by the civic authorities? When our Corporate honchos get all facilities and amenities, why does an old lady need to accomodate rain water in her hut? When a Tirumala Vamana Achari is working as Thomas at a call centre and gloating over the burger from McDonalds, why should a petty shop owner get up from sleep in midnight to ensure his daily bread is not washed away?

It is a clear case of the 80-20 principle. 20% of the privileged ones are enjoying 80% of the wealth, benefits, ammenities, privileges and all luxuries. The gap needs to be drastically reduced. One Prof. Sunil Khilnani, Director of the South Asia studies at John Hopkins University at Washington compares India to a 2-lane road. He says Indians as of now are like the traffic on that 2-lane road facing the same direction. The traffic (people) on one lane has taken off and is moving at a considerable speed. Very soon their speed will increase. Meanwhile, the traffic (people) on the other lane is watching the 1st lane traffic move. Very soon they will get restless. Restlessness will turn into agitation and there will be a total chaos and destruction. I think the situation of 2 set of people in India as of now sums up all with this instance!

Hence, the new term coined by our dear PM Dr. Manmohan Singh is 'Inclusive growth'. India 2020 dream will be a reality only if the growth is inclusive. If growth is measured in terms of Chandrayaan, revenues and margins of Top 10 Corporates in various sectors, success of only money-spinning sporting events and neglecting the National and indigenous sports, if Industrialization is at the cost of Agriculture and ecology, then we are living in a delusive India and not a Super Power India.

All we need to achieve this is the "Yes we can!" attitude of US President Mr. Barack Obama and the WILL to achieve it. Till these do not turn out the way they need to, over-optimisitc and spineless Slogans will only be a 'Slow-Gun'!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Austerity drive... The Great Indian Tamasha! :-)

Ever since our Union External Affairs Minister and Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. S M Krishna (SMK) and Mr. Shashi Tharoor (ST) respectively have been asked by Pranab Da to find an accomodation that is 'External' to the 5-Star or N-Star, a nation-wide debate over 'Austerity' has crept up. 'Newsatainment' channels like CNN-IBN, Times Now, NDTV 24x7 with some of the hot NJs (News Jockeys!!!) like Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Arnab Goswami, Vikram Chandra, Karan Thapar haven't been 'Austere' enough over this complex issue of "How to remain simple?", thereby ensuring that the issue doesn't simmer down.

When the call for 'Austerity' came out loud and clear from the ageing loud speakers of Pranab Da with enough Bass and Treble to stir a nation-wide debate, there was a mixed response from political circles. A few were against it, a few stood for it. Some of them opted to be fence sitters. Our Railway 'Ministress' Ms. Mamta Banerjee might have been all smiles (or even grin?) over the 'Austerity Call'. Of course!! It meant some of our MPs/MLCs/Ministers would then abandon the crisis-hit Air India and travel New Delhi-Lucknow, New Delhi-Chandigarh, New Delhi-Bhatinda, New Delhi-Patna by TRAIN and that means some big bucks coming her Ministry's way. Along with an MP/Minister, their family, a PA, 2-3 Principal Secretaries, 7-8 Security officers also travel to address exotic rallies, opening ceremony of a few toiletories under the 'Pradhan Mantri (ke gram mein) Sulabh Shauchaalay Yojana', inauguration of half constructed or 'to-be-very-soon-collapsing' flyovers etc. Out of our 700 odd MPs, lets assume atleast some 50 0dd MPs per day would travel to their constituencies. So in a month you have 1500 odd MPs along with their 'Saansad Sena' travelling. Multiply this by 2 (to & fro trip). Indeed a huge number and a regular source of income to the Railways! ;-)

Meanwhile our 'Prince' who in near future will be the 'King' (after a farewell to Singh), took up the 'Austerity Challenge' by it's horns and travelled by train in a 'Chair Car' from New Delhi to Ludhiana. He rejected the bouquet, ordered for Tea in those regular use & throw cups and also rejected 'Good Food' offered in Indian Railways. As expected, fellow-passengers were excited to see the 'Prince' in their coach. Even I would have been if I were to be there. Oh yeah....!! 30 years down the line I could say my kids "Hey look... This 'KING Uncle' travelled with me 30 years ago in a train". But the situation outside was different. Though our man was in a 'Chair Car' sitting on a chair, he was spotted all over the TV. Be it Samsung of Korea or BPL of UK or Onida of India... he was all over. We do not have any Italian brand of TV in India perhaps. All would have been well to see him on that as well ;-)

Those who are easily fooled by certain antics of our rulers were fooled this time as well. A few naughty brats like me who are investigative in nature, had other ideas. We insvestigated. We found something. We found that our Prince was not travelling for a Government related work but for a party related work. I enlarge. PARTY RELATED WORK. So whats all the crap and junk about our Prince travelling in Chair Car or Table Car??? OK. I hold myself back. May be an elected representative can spend from the nation's exchequer even for his/her personal/party travel. Afterall, I haven't studied the paper 'Compensation Management of India Netas'.

Most plays and dramas attract rotten tomatoes and eggs. The 'Austerity Drama' of our Prince attracted stones from miscreants. Immediately, there was an invstigation. The Police got into swift action. A couple of youth were nabbed. But what surprsied me is a statement which came from some political quarter/figure "Pelting stones to trains are common in North India". So when will the authorities wake up from their slumber and act on it? Why or what do I worry now? I worry that this might be the next justification for the anti-North Indian stance adopted by our 'Marathi Messiah'. But what is satisfactory is that the Government considers this as a 'Common Issue' and do not intend to hang the miscreants. We already have 20 odd in queue to be hanged. We are still on a look out for a decent and strong rope to hang them :-))

Lets shift our attention from the Prince to the Mantri now. Centre of attraction for quite a few days now is our Minister of State for External Affairs Mr. ST. He tweets that he is OK to travel in 'cattle class' along with all the 'holy cows'. Soon there was an objection from political circles. I too object over ST's choice of words. In fact he must ensure his literature doesn't go over the head of our netas like the one which used to come to an Indian batsman from the 6-feet plus West Indian bowlers of the 70s. Tharoor must consider 're-tweeting' his statement to an acceptable and better choice of words or something like "Maanya mantri mahoday ke asha ke anusaar, mein saamaanya naagarik ke saath, Bharateeya Rail ke triteeya darja ke dibbe mein ek saamaanya naagarik ki tarah yaatra ke liye tayyar hoon. Asha karta hoon ki Patna se Lalloo, Chulloo, Billoo; Gandhinagar se Advani, Wadhwani, Vaswani; Jalandhar se Manmohan, Parminder, Harvinder; Kolkata se Brinda, Mamta, Devyaani; Lucknow se Mulayam, Naram, Garam mere saha-yaatri rahenge. Dhanyavaad. Aapka laaDla, 'Austerity' ka dulaara Shashi".

With all this happening at helm, our 'Anna-Daata Mantri' aka Agriculture Minister Mr. Sharad Pawar comes out with his version of 'genuine reason' as to why he cannot travel economy class. He blames his 'Bulky Shape' which makes it impossible for him to even dream a distant dream in his dreams about him travelling in 'cattle class'. 'Bulky Shape'? Thats quite interesting! Dates me back to one of those tri-series played in India between India-Australia-New Zealand (I hope I am right with the 3rd Team). If I am right, it was some TVS Cup. Anyways... for the time being lets take it as 'Who cares Cup' as we have a plenty of such money spinning tri-series being played. It was the Finals between India and Australia and the former lost the match after doing well in most part of the match. The eventual winners Australia recieved the 'Who cares Cup' from our 'Anna-daata Mantri' Mr. Sharad Pawar who was then the BCCI President as well. Mr. Pawar handed over the Trophy to Ricky Ponting and the Aussies went in a huddle with the Trophy. Right in front was Mr. Pawar who forgot that he was an opaque item. With the paparazzi rearing to go 'Chishik chishik' and Ricky's men eager enough to get themselves soaked in those flashes, Mr. Pawar was indeed a vague idol between the two parties. It needed a 'Pawar Drive' from Damien Martyn who was equally popular for his 'Cover Drive', to get Sharad Pawar evacuated. It attracted a lot of controversy. Pawar kept the issue as low as possible. A few sections of the BCCI sought an apology from Ricky and his men which eventually came Pawar's way. In any case, I congratulate the Aussie Team (particularly Damien Martyn) for not only winning the 'Who cares Cup' but also in recognizing the 'Bulky Shape' of Mr. Pawar which he himself realized a bit late!! So whats the plan of action for the next one month Mr. Pawar? With Maharashtra Assembly elections too approaching, let the 'Austerity Drive' start from the dining table. That will get your 'Bulky Shape' to some 'OK Fine Shape' thereby ensuring your 'cattle class' travel from one constituency to another for election campaigning ;-)

Coming to the 'Turbanator' alias King Singh, he says that ST's 'Tweet' is just a 'Joke' and not to be taken seriously. Yes. It is a 'Joke' and it is too high for an Indian politician to take it. The literal meaning might have flown inside the nuthsell of our leaders only after their Cabinet Secretaries referred to the Oxford dictionary and took a session on the meaning of those phrases. ST is an 'UN Graduate Minister' and only a few in the political arena like King Singh, Mr. P Chidambaram, Mr. Kapil Sibal and the likes possess the intellectual capacity to understand what ST 'Tweeted'. But then it reminds me that there are many a 'Jokes' on the part of the 'Cattle' man of India. Even the NREGA has turned out to be a 'Joke' and the Government and Bureaucrats haven't taken it seriously. Similarly the 26/11 attacks, the recent 'Incursions' by the Chinese forces too haven't been taken seriously by the Government. So why battle over this 'Cattle Class' joke? Injustice to ST I say (Summon the Law Minister immediately. But make sure he travels 'Cattle Class' and not 'Holy Cow Class'!!)

Amidst all the 'Opposition' that has come breezing from the ruling party, I get a subtle feeling as to why ST attracted a lot of opposition. Is it for terming the common man 'Cattle'? May be not. May be our politicians consider themselves to be the 'Humble Devotees' of the 'Janata Janardhan' and it might have irked them when ST compared the 'Holy Cow' to them and thereby offending the 'Holy Cow'! ;-)

This is the lighter side of the 'Austerity'. On a serious note, this 'Austerity Drama' could wreak havoc with the life of a common man. Imagine a bomb blast in the New Delhi-Ludhiana train rather than stone pelting!! Imagine a massive security check by the SPG or the NSG putting the age-old, women and children into tough times in a railway station or in a Sleeper Class of a train!! My only question is "Austerity at what or whose cost?" At the cost of the lives of common men and women who are anyways leading a cattle-like life thanks to the Pak breeded Terrorists who might anytime butcher you with their guns and bombs or an occassional 'Moral Policing' cases with the Government doing very little to stop those antics? When I honestly empathise with Mr. Sharad Pawar who might find it difficult to accomodate himself in the economy class or chair car with very little leg space or with the senior and elderly leaders like Pranab Da, L K Advani, H D Deve Gowda having knee-joints pain or other ailments, it is the safety and comfort of the common men that concerns me the most. Afterall, AIIMS or Apollo is affordable only to the leaders, bureaucrats, rich and the affluent. An average earner can either afford to get (ill)-treated at a Government Hospital or afford to die without any treatment.

Our leaders believe and follow the 80-20 rule. 80% wealth in the hands of 20%. Whats for the common citizen of India? Maybe this Doha of Sant Kabirdas which goes like this -

Saayee itna deejiye, jin me kuTumb samaaye
Main bhi bhookan na rahoo, saadhoo bhi bhookan na jaaye!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dr. Kiran Bedi at IFIM Business School campus

There was a sense of disbelief in me when I first heard it. In another 5 minutes or so the news had flown by way of text messages to some 10-15 friends and relatives of mine . I was already imagining as to how the occassion would be, what might be the atmosphere, will IFIM be a fort of the NSGs and the Commandos and lastly... will I get an opportunity to meet? Well... if you feel I have got no work to do after dinner but listen to Kishore Kumar ('Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Aankhein....' playing on my lappy right now), then let me clarify that this is how I was lost when our CEO Mr. Swami Krishnan revealed that Dr. Kiran Bedi, India's first woman IPS Officer would make it to our humble campus for the Convocation cermony of our seniors. Dr. Bedi... more than the jail reforms and her ferocious voice for women empowerment, she was known for her Firebrand speeches which would have attracted the wrath of some extra-celestial but extremely corrupt bureaucrats, top-cops and a host of other netas! Well lets get back to the auspicious again!! ;-)

It's now June 24, 2009. Another 3 days to go for my 'Happy-wala Happy Birthday'. But the date holds significance not for that day but it was the day that we at IFIM were waiting for. It was Convocation 2009. The time is 11AM and I am dressed in my newly bought White Shirt (bought it the previous day) from Westside with about half a year old black trousers. Along with that was the college blazer which is Grey in colour. Also the college tie... least I could say is the tie looks well-off for a Saturday night out on Brigade Road (Red FILA shoes, low waist blue jeans, a corduroy sky blue shirt.. Thats the perfect recipie for our college tie) The poor blazer and the glowing tie are perhaps the two things which have been cursed the most by our batch. Yes! Not even Aishwarya Rai was cursed this much by the girls all over when she got married to Abhishek Bachchan! This made those 2 poor speechless creatures (Tie and blazers) gain some space deep down my heart. I love them as much as the Late Raj Kapoor loved his super-duper and biggest FLOPbuster Mera Naam Joker :-)

Me and Parvez are now in the lobby. Bugged. Bored. We come out in search of some fresh air. We find it. Along with that we find our CEO having a chat (chat as in 'chit-chat'. I have no clue about his khaanewaala chat preferences) with Mr. Shankar Rao, GM of the IT Dept. Customary smiles were exchanged by both parties from a distance. The smile on the CEO's face turned wider. Both parties came closer. I say "Sir... Our college tie" (pointing at the tie). He had a hearty laugh. "Doesn't it look like a party wear?" was my next shot in a hurry. There was no way the CEO could have ducked that. He admits with humility. Admits that the college uniform this time 'burnt our hands'. Now its his turn to take a shot at me. He notices my 'semi-formal shoes'. Some advice there on what kind of shoes holds good on what occassion. He was right. That was my 'formal shoe' always, but that morning I wasn't comfortable with it. I knew it was going to be a momentous occassion and I was only 98% formal. A lesson for me. Our discussion goes on. CGPAs are made public. Now the CEO asks who should be the Guest of Honour for our Convocation. Before my mind could move out of IFIM campus and enter various Corporate Boardrooms, Parvez chirps "May be our next door neighbour?". He was referring to Mr. Nandan Nilekani who then was the Board Member of Infosys, whose campus is a stone throw-away from our campus. CEO says "Done!!". Dhan-dhanadan-dhan. We were so glad. I had to sacrifice Mr. Ratan Tata who came a bit late into my mind. Neverthless, Mr. Nilekani was then a good takeaway for us. Now it's anyones guess if Mr. Nilekani would make it next year. He has to distribute ID cards to 1 billion people. From where the dickens will he find time to distribute 180 Conovcation Certificates?? Having been naive to this at that point of time (we don't have an access to the Infy Boardroom or the PMO you see!) we zero in on Mr. Nilekani and disperse.

Now it is round about 11.30AM. We volunteers/escorts are all set after a round of briefing with the in-charge, Prof. Saurav Saha. I found him highly stressed that day. It was a big job on his shoulders of course. He ensured everything was in order. Those guys who came unshaven were sent back. It took a fortune for Mohit to convince Prof. Saha that his beard will not be spotted by the Guests. However, a few other students who had no business that day in the campus and were spotted in their Levis or Live-In were given a gatepass. Mercilessly. No scope for a face saving exercise either. Whip was cracked and cracked hard. Ouch!!!

Now it was time for the Guests to arrive. First one to walk the red carpet was Mrs. Kalpana Padode. Internal Guest. Better half or Mr. Sanjay Padode, Secretary of CDE Society that runs our Institute. Pooja and me hurriedly make it to her. "Welcome Ma'm", this protocol rested on my shoulders. Pooja presented Mrs. Padode a red rose. Mrs. Padode walks in towards the new building where the pooja was going on. Mantra was being chanted by the Pandit with full Bass and Treble. Even his cellphone which rung with an English hit did not hinder his Sanskrit mantra. Highly committed I must say!! BTW, I remember that loud English ringtone from Pandit'ji's cell-phone had sprnkled some laughing gas. I had inhaled it a lot. So had the CEO. That said, we now had our seniors coming. In groups and individually, some with their families. Very familiar faces. Guys mostly in formals. Those disgruntled ones in casuals. It was better than a 'dharna'. Girls were found dipped in Lakme/Emami/L'Oreal/sundry/miscellaneous et al. It was a sight. Old mates get together. Hugs and no kisses was a scene which soon became common. Flashes flashed. Canon/Nikon/Sony/Kodak were all on song. Every pose was shot twice or thrice. Backup perhaps. Afterall, "If Plan A doesn't work, you need to have a Plan B ready" was preached to these blokes and blondes. There was no leakage of the Corporate Gyaan. It was running in the blood :-))

Now it was time for the External Guests' entry. The Guest of Honour, Dr. Kiran Bedi was so big a name that the other Corporate Czars had to remain a low profile that day. They were glad enough as well. A couple of Guests made it and were escorted to their respective designated person. By then it was lunch time. Around 1.30PM. We make it to the lunch section. The hall is jampacked. Seniors, their parents, our team of escorts and volunteers everyone is vying for an inch of space. Our CEO was 100% right when he mentioned a few months back "Food is the most popular topic in India". Even the Father of Global Recession 2008, Mr. George Bush and former US Secretary of State Miss Condolezza Rice had a similar opinion. They went a step shead and said "Indians eat a lot. Hence there is a shortage of food world over". It was a classic case of 'Verbal Diarrhoea'. Coming back to the topic, as usual there was chaos and unhappiness over the quality of the food served. To be honest, it was a pathetic food I ever had at any of the occassions at IFIM. Smiles on faces of our seniors had turned into frown in no time and rightly so. It was their last tryst with the Institute and had better expectations. It was not to be. Very unfortunate. However, 2 years of hostel food had made them more resolute and stern. Such junk was easily digestible. The Gulab Jamun saved face though. That was the only menu which did not attract lawsuites. My next voluntary project is "Reasons for asymmetry between IFIM students' taste buds and IFIM Hostel food taste"

Back to the entrance/lobby. Comes a white Toyota Innova. Tinted glasses. Heart beats at 144 per minute. Rush of blood suddenly. Gets down DR. KIRAN BEDI!!!! Escorted by Parwez and Aashneet. As she climbs the steps, everyones neck turns into that of an ostrich. Reason, to have a closer look. As she comes up, everyone get into one kinda huddle. One "Good afternoon Ma'm" overlapped the other. Dr. Bedi shows first sign of humility. The number of "Good afternoon Ma'm" from our end was equal to the number "Good afternoon" from her end. She would reciprocate the pleasantries coming her way. Canon/Nikon/Kodak are all in a neck-to-neck once again. Out of the 4-5 shots, I get one clear close-up of Dr. Bedi. She is formally welcomed to the Institute with the traditional 'tilak' and 'aarti'. It looked uncharacteristic on a lady who ruled the world of men i.e. the Police Dept. She was escorted to the CEOs chamber. In there waiting for her were the CEO, Board Members of CDE Society, the other Guests as well. These included the CEO of Virgin Mobiles India, a senior most executive from TCS, one from Sasken Communications. Reliance Money CEO had to cancel his presence owing to last minute appointments. Meanwhile, the mood inside CEO's chamber was upbeat. Why not? You have a woman who can literally give you a solution across the table pertaining to all problems India is facing today. Corruption or Moral Policing, Terrorism or Communalism - She has got an instant solution for all. Unfortunately, it is the political will that is missing.

Dr. Bedi is now dressed in a Convocation suit. She poses for the media photographers. I wriggle in somehow and capture Dr. Bedi in the suit. By then it was time for her to address the media in the Boardroom. There were a few from the world of Press, pressing hard to get an early interview. TOI, The Hindu, Deccan Herald, TV9 and me, the unofficial photographer who gained an unofficial entry inside, courtesy to Mr. Shankar Rao. With a minute's casual chats, the formal interview began. I got my cam on and started the coverage. As it all went on, our beloved Swami Uncle barges in to serve Sandwich and Milkshake to Dr. Bedi. Even the fodder-hungry media got their share of snacks to satisfy their hunger. In another 15 minutes it all concluded. Dr. Bedi answered all questions. But my question was still imprisoned in my mind. "We have seen Dr. Bedi as India's first woman IPS Officer, Dr. Bedi as a social worker. Will we see Dr. Bedi as an MP in 2014?" BTW, here is one of the speeches I covered.

Now after the customary photographs with the pass-outs, Dr. Bedi is in the Auditorium. Accompanying her on stage are the CEO, 3 other Chief Guests, Mr. V B Padode Chairman of CDE Society. The proceedings began with a prayer and the MCs Sarfaraz and Garima making the necessary announcements. Our CEO spoke briefly which was followed by Dr. Bedi's speech. She made an interesting note. She said "You are all tested in various subjects till now. But there are some areas on which you have not yet been tested. Time will test you". Least do I say that she was talking of ethics and values, integrity in business. I tried spotting Dr. Madhumita Chatterjee, who had taken sessions on Business Ethics. What Dr. Bedi spoke was just an extension of what Dr. Chatterjee opined all the time. I have thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Chatterjee's lectures. She was always on the bang. BTW, it was expected that Dr. Bedi will touch on those lines. Afterall, the (A)Satyam scandal was still ripe and fresh in our minds. She also called for more stringent Corporate Laws, failing which we will see Satyams and more of them. Now here is the firebrand quality of her which comes into the forefront. It doesn't matter to her that she is speaking in a BUSINESS School. Or sharing stage with half a dozen Corporate associates. She was upfront and upright. She was 100% right.

Visualise. Dr. Bedi had asked us to visualize what we woould like to become in another 1/3/5/years down the line. The auditorium burst into a roaring laughter when Dr. Bedi said "I never visualized myself stitching buttons on husband's shirt. In fact, I have never stitched one". Dr. Bedi's speech was inspiring and motivating. She had stressed on the women empowerment. There were signs of the same as well. 3 out of 5 Gold Medalists were girls. When this was pointed out by a journalist during the interview, Dr. Bedi had something interesting to say. She says "The girls are excelling because they are hungry for success. Why did Pakistan win the T20 World Cup? Why not Australia or India? Because Pakistan were hungry". How true! Look at the applicability. Reminded me of a Sanskrit verse "Ekam sat, vipra bahuda vadanthi", meaning, "Truth is always one. The learned speak in different ways". The message was clear. We had read about Dr. Bedi's passion towards Tennis. She gave glimpses of the few in her speech. Along with that, the turmoil she had to take clearing her law exams in 1988 amazed me. She had to keep her wireless beside her while writing the exams since there was a communal violence going on at her region. How ironic was that? She had to write law exams when law & order in her region was under threat. Perhaps that was a glimpse of what was going to come!!

The speech was concluded. There was a huge applause on her conclusion. Needless to say that it was all for a gem of a speech we listened. The speakers who followed her admitted that it was tough to speak after a person like Dr. Bedi had completed speaking. It was an universal and undisputable fact. But I have to admit that the speakers who followed Dr. Bedi were equally good. Everyone stressed the need for corporate law reforms, honesty at workplace, integrity to be imbided in us, high degree of sincerity towards our job etc. Dr. Bedi too was appreciatory of the same and acknowledged. I also found her keenly listening to other speakers and noting down some key points. Dates me back to my school days where one of my teachers said "If someone thinks he is wise, then he is foolish. If someone thinks he is foolish, he is wise". Learning can happen from anyone, at any point of time and anywhere. Dr. Bedi was a standing example for humbleness, head on shoulders, positive influence and moreover, a 'Voice of Indian women'. Above all, she still considered herself a learner and not a scholar. She was a 'Walking-Talking Goddess of Ethics'.

In another half an hour the Convocation was over. The National Anthem was sung and we dispursed from the Auditorium. Dr. Bedi had Tea & Snacks at our insistance. I was quick enough to stand behind her and get a snap of mine. Mr. Shankar Rao was kind enough to shoot it from his cellphone. This reminds me that the snap is still with him and I need to get is transferred to mine. Meanwhile, it was time for Dr. Bedi to depart. On the way towards the entrance, there were many a shots once again. Hurriedly. We escorted her to the cab. She thanked us for the hospitality
provided (our seniors were still cribbing over the lunch though) and for all the noble gestures that were showered on her. We had thorougly enjoyed her presence. She was stil bubbling with enery at 5.30PM and would have gone discussing with us for another 4 hours or so, hadn't she had any prior appointments and a flight to New Delhi!!

As we saw her off and were getting back to the lobby, the CEO again asks a bunch of students "So whom do you guys want next year?" and this time I am quick enough to say "Ratan Tata". "RNT??? Impossible!" says the CEO thereby promoting a grim on my face. However, we were all thanking him for getting a wonderful personality amongst us for a day. That was THE DAY OF MY LIFE. Thank you Mr. Swami Krishnan and here I come Mr. Shankar Rao to get the most precious snap of my life which is residing in your cellphone. I want it badly and not just satisfied with the autograph of Dr. Bedi! ;-)

Jai Ho!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friends! Here's how they are :)

It is an year and a quarter since I joined IFIM B School in Bangalore. By now I have quite a few pals whom I know from close quarters and many more in brief. Here's how I sum up about them, one by one. The order doesn't reflect their closeness to me. Randomly I pick names which come to my mind first. In Marketing terminology 'TOM Brand' i.e. Top of the Mind Brand. Here I go!!!!

1. Amit Kumar Pandey - Well known as Pandey'ji in the group. Has the desire to make it big. In pursuit of the same. So watchout. Infamous for his tryst with the Freshers' Day (mis)adventure.

2. Mohd. Parvez - No nicknames as such. My next-door neighbour in the Hostel. 'King of deliberate pun'. BTW, who said only women are 'shopping crazy'?

3. Arvind - Known as 'MhaapLa'. He claims that word to be 'Dude' in Tamil. We have religiously accepted his version. His 1st feet always fickles between Chennai and Bangalore. 2nd one between NASA and Air Force (Not IAF in any case. He is much beyond the 'paltry' IAF. Royal Air Force is his choice) Before we depart from IFIM, I would definitely advice him to write a book '101 ways to POSITIVEly remain a CYNIC'.

4. Subhra Behari - Her 2 better-quarters (that will make 1 better-half) call her Subbi or Shubbo. Very philosophical. There is a shadow of Mrs. Shabana Azmi in her. Also, some essence of the Late Smita Patil. Very softspoken but ready to grab a fight as well. As of till last evening, she trails 1-2 in the 'Water splashing game' with me.

5. Abhishek Dutta - Known as Dutta Babu among me and my close friends. Came into fame during the Freshers' Day for his role as 'Bobby'. Since then he is popular with that name. I guess this name 'Bobby' opens the floodgates of fortune. Even Dimple Kapadia came into fame as 'Bobby' which was the title of her acting debut 'Bobby'. Consequent 'Bobby' can be a failure. For eg: - Dharmendra's second son 'Bobby' Deol has been cornered and now watches Bollywood from oblivion.

6. Richa Jaiswal - Always busy. Either projects or studies. Very upright and straight forward. A Shoppers' delight! ;-)

7. Amit Bhadani - For some time, we mistook Adani Power as his propreitory firm. 'Adani' can be a portmanteau word. A of Amit + Dani of Bhadani = Adani. Like Adidas (Adolf Dassler) or Ranbaxy (Ranbir Singh and Gurbax Singh) He is a moral guide to Subhra and her 2 better quarters. Our last resort of Finance or Operations subject. Apex body of our group. Has a great taste towards the PSUs. Mythology runs in his blood and laptop!!

8. Avinash Chandra Srivastava - Sounds more like a super cop. Imgaine he introducing himself as "Mr. A C Srivasatava, Inspector General, Mumbai Crime Branch" Can send shivers!! His Tuesday evening Pooja has made us loiter around his room on Tuesday evenings. He gives the Pras(h)aad. It can be a burfy, peda, laddoo etc. Reminds me of a dialogue from the 1975 flick Deewar of Amitabh and Shashi Kapoor which goes like this "Maa prashaad samajh ke degi, tum miThaai samajh ke khaa lena". Literally it works like that in our case.

9. Robin Arora - Earlier Robin. Now he is 'Robbie', courtesy to his 'Aashi(qi)'. Kinda unpredictable. Fun to be with.

10. Munazza Nizami - Within the group she is Munna. One of the 2 'better-quarters' of Subhra. Kiddish at times. She is our official 'khabri' and shares some funny incidents from class.

11. Dipayan Das Gupta - His middle name has been scram... scram... scram... scrambled by us. It will remain a sec... sec... sec... secret. He is a soft target though. Ends up being a ba... ba... ba... bakra all the time. Anybodys birthday celebrations in the midnight is concluded only after giving birthday bumps to Di... Di... Di... Dipayan as well. Fondly known as 'DIPYAN' by Dr. Murthy.

12. Suchitra Raut - Known as 'Suchi' within the group. Known as 'Indira Gandhi' as well, courtesy to a few backbenchers of the class. But I wonder why that name. I have never found her in 'Emergency'. Always relaxed. She is the 2nd of 2 'better-quarters' of Subhra.

13. Aashneet - Known as 'Aashi' in her group. Bubbling with enthusiasm. Game for everything. She claims I look the same like her dad of his youthful days. That's the worst compliment a guy can get from a girl!! :-(

14. Anurag Moses - Known as 'Mosi' in the class. Kinda mischievous. When it comes to splashing laughter all over, he can give our Holy Man Mr. Russell Peters a run for his money. He got admitted into IFIM a tad too early. He should have waited for a course in VJ/DJ/Instruments etc. He is second to none in them and at par with the Nikhil Chinnappas and the DJ Aqeels of the world. If he doesn't have a stint in those fields which I am sure he likes the most, I would perhaps regret more than him. A talent would certainly go dumped!!

15. Amit Upadhyaya - Now this is a 'Kahaani mein twist' or a horror scene. So I postpone it to keep you in tenterhooks! ;-)

16. Sudhanshu - Owing to his rough voice, initially I thought this chap is an arrogant guy. Then I got to know he is a fun loving like most of us. Later I discovered he can make a good politician for he could drag a peanut discussion to as lengthier as those golden coloured noodles attached to the head of Rapunzel. Now I see he is philosophical as well. "Who am I?", "Why I am here?", "What next for me?". Hang on! These are not authored by the Jantar Mantar Babas but our very own Sudhanshu. I would call him Sudhanshu Maharaj and now I find it worth calling him so. Waah Maharaj waah... Aap ki leela aparampaar. Iss tuchch praaNi ko aur kitne avtaar ke darshan milenge Maharaj?

17. Paulomi Chaudhary - The first person I met at IFIM. This was during admissions. She is the 'Voice of women' in Electronics City I say. Very firm and adamant on her stand. No wonder she hails from the same place as Brinda Karat and Mamta Banerjee.

18. Anshul Sinha - Has got a host of nicknames. 'Chul chul Baaba', 'Baba Anshul', 'Choolwaale Baba' etc. Of late, he been inclined towards ISKCON. Preaches a lot of it to us as well. Has got tonnes of philosophy. But they take a break when he uncorks that green bottle accopmanied by some meat. But then that is OK he says. Maybe because the Goat which he eats is vegetarian.

19. Chandradeep Dubey - Dubey'ji is the official nickname ceremoniously bestowed on him. Proud of many things which is better known to him. Craves to acquire tonnes of knowledge. But without access to any knowledge sources. I almost recommended him to sit under the Bodhi tree one day ;-)

20. Ravish Chandra Mishra - Mishra'ji. Everytime I see him, he reminds me of the Govinda jig for the song "UPwaala thumka lagaao ki hero jaise naach ke dikhaaoo...". His uncanny love for Bhojpuri Songs has incited interest for the same in me as well. Now this is what I call an efficient Sales person!

21. Amit Upadhyay - He is a mystery. His friends call him 'Bacti', a shortened version of 'Bacteria'. Contrary to the bacterias which are invisible, his pranks are clearly at sight for all. He would care two hoots to the protocol to be followed on certain occassions if he is pumped up. For that matter, he is like a battery that doesn't drain. To quote a punchline from Amaron battery ad, 'Lasts long, really long'. To quote a line from the Bollywood number "Kudrat ne banaaya hoga, fursat se tujhe mere yaar" Some claim he is pain in their backseat. He somehow seems to be missing dearly, 'M/s Maghai Paan BhanDaar'. He holds Mishra'ji at gunpoint and would crib "Arrey O Mishra'ji... Zara humein bhi khilaaiye maghai paan..". I am finding out a way if I could arrange an MDP for this chap with M/s Maghai Paan BhanDaar. He can make stock markets crumble. He is an active member of the legal gambling called 'Trading' in Stock Exchanges. His volume of trading could be 1/infinity of Harshad Mehta. But his level of involvement is a few thousand times more than Mr. C B Bhave perhaps!! I move a motion to rest the Finance Ministry on his shoulders for a day. Our GDP contributors like Agriculture, Industry and Services will then be replaced by one entity. Bombay Stock Exchange. All roads in the country will then lead to Dalal Street. There will be direct flight connectivity from Wall Street, NYSE to Dalal Street. We will then see 'India 2020' articulated by Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam in 2010. Yippeee!!!

22. Nagendra Shenoy, my best friend - Yawwwnnnnnn..... Time for a break!

I have great respect to all those mentioned and not mentioned ones here. This is not at all an attempt to take a dig at the mentioned ones but some mere thoughts. Everybody is wonderful the way they are. Like one of our Professors quoted in his farewell speech "There is a Abdul Kalam in everyone of you!" How true! Great pals. "Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hai jo makaam... woh phir nahin aate... woh phir nahin aate..."

Monday, September 7, 2009

YSR Reddy's death - Questions to be answered!

2nd September 2009 - A day regrettable for most Andhra Pradesh people. It marked a bizzare end to one of their 'greatest leaders' of recent times. The chopper Bell-430 which was carrying AP Chief Minister Mr. Y S Rajshekhar reddy and 4 other top notch people crashed in Nallamalla forest in Kurnool district. What preceeded before the discovery of this tragic incident has surprised me!! Also incites a few questions in my mind.

1. It took less than an hour for the top officials of our bureacracy and various political heads to launch a massive and perhaps the country's biggest search operation in it's history. Over a 5000 CRPF personnel, Anti-Naxal Squad, IAF Choopers, ISRO Officials, US Defence Dept. along with the help of the tribal people were all on song to search/rescue the CM and his inmates. Where was this ostentatious affection for the CM (read as Common Man) during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai? Is the life of a CM more precious than thousands of civillians who were either under life threat or lost lives, courtesy to Pakistan sponsored well planned and executed attack on that fateful day in Mumbai?

2. 3rd September 2009 - "Chopper found in mangled state, CM dead" - Indeed a terrible news. May YSR's and the souls of other 4 who died rest in peace. Death is inevitable but certain to every living creature on this earth. However, what followed makes me dumbstuck. The body of the CM hasn't undergone an autopsy, the last rites are yet to be performed, YSR's son YSJ and his bereaved family is yet to look at their beloved for one last time. All this was yet to happen but there was already a propaganda to make YSJ Reddy the CM of AP. Has 'Politics' and 'Power' blinded us so much that there is no place for sentiments and emotions but for greed, greed and some more of greed? Are our law makers so insensitive to the high emotions running amongst the family members of the decesased?

3. What followed after the last rites of YSR was much more horrifying. Protests in AP, dharnas on various corners of Hyderabad, condolence meets witnessed not only a few minutes of silence but also slogans like "Make Jagamohan the CM". Is it not the responsilibity of the party to crack a whip on such insensitive jokers of politics? Is someones CM post more important than the family condoling the death of their beloved? Is it not interference in personal space of YSR's wife who on one side has to bear the loss of her husband's death and on the other got to see a 'Tamaasha' made out of her husband's death? To some extent the party can be commended not to have succumbed to the pressure of the 'vested interests' (or will I say next weekend "Not to have succumbed too early?") Indian politics... you never know!

All said and done, YSR has fulfilled his own promise of retiring from politics at the age of 60. Least he could have done was to retire in a preferable manner and not in a undesired way. But destiny cannot be written like horoscopes!!

RIP YSR Reddy. Long live your memories.

Note - The writer has nothing against YSJ Reddy decorating the CM chair. However, the timing of the demand by 'loyal supporters' of YSJ has irked the writer.