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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Great Indian Rope Trick 

Hurrah and all Graduation hats in the air please ! The joke of the year and we are barely thirty days into it. The Ingenious Silo of Blah has wormed its way into the Top 20 global B-schools riding on its “centre of excellence” in running a “research-driven and independent management education grooming leaders for the world”.

This pompous drivel has always been the hallmark of an institute that has aimed to show that what cannot be taught in twenty-four months can be successfully not taught in twelve months. Yes, it was a coup of sorts to get some big-ticket funding and international marquee names as faculty which accounted literally for state-of-the-art facilities and quality research orientation.

In India, its essential utility in providing aspiring has-beens and never-will-be’s another chance to take a crack at finally changing their sphere of work where they have persevered, mostly unsuccessfully , to get their functional monkeys off their sweaty backs. The selection procedure ensures none but the pedigreed or the moneyed have a hope in hell and the high course fees puts paid to many.

The endeavour to forcibly bring in folks from all walks of life--Merchant Navy seals, tribal schoolteachers, musicians, Armed Forces personnel and public sector gents—results in a motley crew of dealers looking for a world to change.

And the corporate world being what it is, they are gaily adopted into higher-than-entry roles where they a la Don Quixote spout strategy when tactics are needed, and flail irrevocably in the wake of anything resembling work. A bunch of dissembling misfits is what my experience has been, and very strong support systems are needed to keep them from falling off !!


Sunday, January 27, 2008


So what’s deemed as a reprehensible and ignominious fall from grace is this—a failure to get into a Grand Slam final for the 11th straight time when admittedly well below peak capacity and a straight-set loss for the first time after losing to a three-time Grand Slam eons ago.
That’s the pain of being the most dominant player ever, and as he said it’s like he created a monster of having to win everything everytime. Still, all that talk of playing his best and losing is pure drivel—our young friend Mr. Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce ( Ed-Let’s just call him B14b12 –okay ? ) with his Laurence Olivier expressions and mechanical grunt-rich game played and served better and it is maybe time that the world added another Grand Slam champion to the men’s list. After all, it was the same ol’ Nole who capitulated so spectacularly in the year-end Shanghai Masters event citing fatigue ( In a 19 year old !!) and the Fed had Ferrer for b., l. and dinner despite losing to Gonzalez in his first match ( and which my favourite News Despite Tabloid Values promptly reported as losing in the first round !) .
There have been an endless procession of youngsters with his predictable game and he’ll need to do more to challenge the Big Two in the future. As there have been bright, big athletes who have shown Tsonga’s talents and have bitten the dust , as close as his fellow-Frenchman Monfils.

Sharapova came away with the title deservedly and of course more than overpowered Ivanovic in the final ( for all their tall frames, these are two of the poorest movers in the game, and dear “Aussie” Ana at 69 kg. is one of the heaviest on the WTA tour currently.!!

And who can one can resist from wishing Good Riddance to perhaps history’s most over-rated cricketer ? Adam Gilchrist, albeit a likeable fair dinkum’ Aussie otherwise was the presiding deity of the Glorious Gods of Slogging pantheon and he did justice to that part, ensuring many match-turning innings essayed on flat lifeless pitches. It does take a certain art to perform consistently and score runs with essentially five batting stroke and Gilly did just that. Of course, the meretricious double standards on fair play and appealing cannot be judged in complete objectivity !!!

Taking the safe path of representing Western Australia ( then the weakest of the Australian State teams ) when New South Wales got unbearably competitive, Gilchrist has taken full toll of favorable conditions and slaughtered his way to seventeen Test hundreds. His inability to come up with the goods when the chips are down, has been on view more than once—he averaged just 22 in the 2005 Ashes when the ball swung and seamed, and after a chancy 122 in Mumbai against India scored all of two runs in four innings against India in 2001 as India rode on Very Very Special Laxman to turn the tide and protect the “final frontier”. Even in the 1999 World Cup, he could only breathe easily and manage some runs in the final when they chased 130 odd, having succumbed to the pressure in all the previous games.

As things stand, Brad Haddin might replace him although a younger Crosthswaite cannot be ruled out.

To end with what has been a diatribe, we introduce his old rival Darren Berry, considered by the great Steve Waugh to be the best cricketer never to worn the baggy green-Berry criticised Gilchrist's inclusion in Ritchie Benaud's Greatest XI, saying it was "an insult to Ian Healy, Rod Marsh, Don Tallon and the greatest of them all, the Englishman Allan Knott." And said, "I would suggest Gilly misses a chance in most Test matches...but it's all forgotten when he smashes a century with the bat." ( Berry did make Warne’s Top 50 )


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Toba Tek Singh & Sinisa Mihailovich.. 

As anyone who has played the game will tell you, there are only a few things more pleasurable than kicking a football. Far easier than fighting your way to the batting crease esp. when the bat is not yours, or wresting a racquet from an obstinate peer and as I say, more fun. Of course one only gets to play most of the time with peers only slightly gifted than you are, one-trick ponies with an occasional sleight-of-foot or a clever step-over or the rather more common powerful kick ( Ed-a.k.a a Thood !!) but rarely does one glimpse the shooting prowess of a lad seen in a recent telecom commercial.

Two lads face off on opposite sides of what appears to be a national border between two warring nations, one accidentally kicks his football over to the other’s territory and implores him to return it. ( They speak, or rather one speaks ( pertinently the one who wants the ball back !) Tachelhit, a form of French spoken in Morocco where this ad was shot ) . And now the Pato in the making surfaces, silent and strong…

The potential ball-stealer marks a Roberto Carlos run-up , kicks away impeding pebbles and kicks hard. The camera captures the ball-owner sprinting to his left as fast as he can. And the shot pans to a front-on picture of the b.o. finally moving……right to catch the ball safely unlike a Paul Robinson. Incredible, if we had a kid who make the ball swerve that much, I am sure the Real Madrids of the world would be queuing up to snag the prodigy !! Or is it a mere editing jerk ?

PS—What goes Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce on the first and Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce-Bounce- Bounce-Bounce on the second ?

Novak Djokovic in his pre-serve motion.

Poor Maria who saw the humour at the US Open now threatens to imitate him, and I think she’s right—it is quite a boring service action !!


Monday, January 21, 2008


The tenuous and unexplained connection between my having to turn to the radio whenever I need an Indian win versus the Aussies continued this week. The first time was a decade ago at college when a Nayan Mongia century inspired India to an innings win at Delhi, a memorable one at Adelaide in 2004 was spent listening into a small radio in a locked cabin at the factory when Rahul Dravid huffed and puffed and finally carried his team over the finish line and the most recent when I arrived h. and p. at my parents’ place only to realize that we were powerless in the wake of Governmental diktats. Fortuitously the WorldSpace station Play was on hand to do the dirty and although the commentators were faintly reminiscent more of beer buddies around a campfire—no mention of score, batsman and bowler for extended periods and prolonged gaiety amidst a Mitchell Johnson onslaught, the medium did deliver the live news of a much-awaited Indian victory.

Of course the jingoists will choose to disregard the umpiring bloopers against the Ugly Aussies as well as the fact that Hayden replaced by a tyro would have helped matters no end. Indeed the 2004 series was in the shadow of the absent McGrath and Warne, and even the turning point of the 2005 Ashes loss was when the lanky NSW-man went missing for a Test. Still, nice to win….

Which brings us to the near escape that the Fed had against a bespectacled Janko Tipsarevic whose jerky and powerful game wrestle and conquer HRH’s inadequacies and diffidence till the tide turned, predictably. One of the disadvantages of watching a Fed match is that one always feels frustrated and underwhelmed at almost every stage, knowing the lofty heights his game can achieve and sustain.
The players of the tournament have been Tsonga ( a Md Ali look-alike ? ), Serena and Maria Sharapova and hope the cream soldiers on—don’t want the likes of a Rainer Schuttler, Thomas Johansson, Arnaud Clement or Petr Korda advance to the finals and help folks like Agassi restore a battered Grand Slam record !!. Hey and what’s with the weight, Nicole Vaidisova ??


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bhutan’s March to Democracy 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, or more pithily, Vafadaar ke khoon se baaghi paida hota hai. As Bhutan voted, the world cowered as a tiny nation showed how it’s done. And as in most places, a collective call to arms by the populace was scarce the reason why a compact monarchy chose to metamorphose into a democracy-that zenith of human plurality, and seemingly by of and for the people. It has been the (seemingly) unilateral decision of its king King Jigme Singhye Wangchuck who after abdication has left the transition of the Oxford-returned King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, his 26 year old son.

It’s not without its foibles—the steadfast move to a democratic system is itself patently undemocratic ( as it was in India ) , a pathological pristine culture bordering on xenophobia is dangerously fragile, little fanfare or canvassing/begging for votes and certainly no pebble-counters to go wrong by a hundred percent.
Instead what we have is a comical strictness of approach that had not one but two mock elections where the denizens chose between non-existent parties divided by colour alone, a fastidious Election Commissioner and a commendable insistence on a university degree and a crime-free background.

Almost a School election where nameless entities canvassed for two hours beseeching for votes in favour of causes that had not existed till the previous day, and would promptly sublimate once the results were announced.


Top 10 Tech Predictions for 2008 

Forecaster Mark Andersen of the Strategic News Service (SNS) has published his top 10 predictions for 2008. Here they are-generously flavoured with a comment from another famous tech-soothsayer.
Following are Mark’s predictions:
1. The Users Revolt. As advertisers focus in on social networking sites, users revolt against this trend, and power shifts in the worlds of Social Networking from owner to user, on issues ranging from Second Life rules and Facebook privacy to Cellphone Billing. Users will gain new leverage.
As Facebook fades with its Beacon Blunder, people realize their private/public spaces are for proactive networking, not advertising and privacy invasion. Social networking sites become the hub of all applications; rules tighten. New sites show increased privacy protection, smaller numbers, and tighter segmentation.

Comment-It's easy to behave like one with a bee in the bonnet, but were these advertising intrusions not free to begin with ? Can't see this revolt actually materializing. P=0.6.

2. The Phone and Web Worlds Will Merge. Or: Walled Gardens Get RoundUpped. Net Neutrality will prevail; carrier and ISP garden walls will fall. Box guys will win over Pipes guys. Handheld makers will win over carriers, a la Apple and Nokia. Samsung, Microsoft, and Google now join them in control.
Tribes move from phones to the Web as part of this merger. Question: How do you carry your tribal affiliations around on the Web? Widgets let you put them in Facebook

Comment-Already there is an amazing bonhomie between the "M " & the "e" worlds, and that could strengthen as we go on. Business alliances would need to sharpen though. P=0.8

3. Content Has No Boundaries. Or: By Expanding, the Web Disappears. Content will be provisioned to every device, making the “Web” seem an outdated idea, like “multimedia.” As it moves onto phones and TVs, it becomes invisible. I want the service; I don’t want its history. The separation between print and Web providers becomes outdated. Everyone distributes everywhere.Serious Segmentation of Online Ad Monies Defines the Spend Trend. Start segmenting by user age: the young are surrounded; the older are less tolerant of the din. Ad money will flow preferentially to luxury online and permission-based marketing.

Comment-Can happen sooner than we think. The kids are already barking at postmen and dismantling the landline with practised ease . P=0.7

4. High Definition Drives a Reversal in Global Standing for U.S. Bandwidth, accompanied by an extraordinary bandwidth increase. Rabbit ratios (MHz/dollar) jump worldwide, with the U.S. suddenly leading in growth rate. Provision of 5-10 Mbps will not be unusual in the U.S., which will see the most rapid bandwidth takeup increase YTY to date, as users start to demand HD-quality video everywhere. The FCC looks foolish and oh so art deco, again. Australia looks smart.

Comment-The battle for elusive bandwidth is being fought in India in another context but not for these reasons. P=0.4

5. Fake Internets Become Serious International Liabilities, as corporations pressure countries to behave according to international business norms – specifically, China, Burma, and a handful of other countries with Fake Internets. Fake Nets imply weakness, government failure, and second-class status for these countries and their citizens.

Comment-It's always been interesting to note that so-called retrograde rulers have considered it worth their while to keep up with the continuous negative information supply. Still, Google in China buckled ..... P=0.4

6. One-to-One Education Is Accepted As the Global Goal. Three-quarters of U.S. school superintendents are planning for it. Maine, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Michigan, Arizona, Utah; England, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Nigeria, India, and China are implementing it. If your state or country is not planning for this, you will be left behind in the 21st century. Using global digitized knowledge to teach and learn will become the only obvious solution in education; the goal becomes connecting every child to this knowledge via the Net.

Comment-Not quite there in India. P=0.2

7. U.S. Healthcare (finally) Gets Diagnosed, as a result of the presidential campaign. Reforming healthcare will challenge Iraq as the primary issue of concern during the year. (In 2009, something gets done about it.)
Among the problems we’ll find:
Doctors report to HMOs (and not to patients).
HMOs report to shareholders (and not to patients).
Insurance companies dictate pricing – often are primarily in the investment business, but don’t share investment profits adequately when they come in, and only report directly to shareholders (not to patients).
Government programs are rife with fraud by doctors and institutions.
Defensive medicine is practiced at huge cost increase to avoid lawsuits.
Over-testing also pays fees to doctors and pays for the equipment, while acting as lawsuit vaccine.
There is very little use of IT to reduce costs; the industry can’t even launch proper Electronic Medical Records. Guess what? It makes more money re-creating them each time you switch.
No one reports to the patient, and almost No one gets paid for good health outcomes.
Exhibit A: There is no penalty for killing your patients.A few answers: cap legal awards, make doctors directly responsible to patients, and remove HMOs and insurance companies from the mix, since they contribute nothing and take much.

Comment-It will, it should. P=0.7

8. CarryAlongPCs Become Commonplace. Small personal computers (UMPCs/micro notebooks) gain their own as a category as these new “CarryAlongs” are introduced by major players – a trend expanded by the iPhone and currently best served by the Samsung Q1.

Comment-Not here, not now. P=0.3

9. LEDs See a Meaningful Shift into Industrial/Commercial/Residential Use. Pricing drops aggressively, and new uses and conformations of LEDs become available.

Comment-India could lead the research on this one. P=0.5

10. 2008: The Year of the First Production and Commercial Sale of Alternative-Energy Cars in the U.S. Yes, we had the much-missed EV-1 a decade ago, and lots of golf cart-like things since, but this will be the year of never-turning-back on commercial alternative-energy vehicles. While GM dawdles over the Volt, Honda will deliver the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity in California. The all-electric Tesla Roadster will be produced and silently speeding down our streets, with more for sale and new orders taken for its WhiteStar 5-person sedan. New electric sports cars from Altairnano, Phoenix Motors, and other California brands will make seeing an alternative-energy car on the road something new, and more common.

Comment-India has made a small beginning in the two-wheeler segment. Will take awhile.P=0.4


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