Friday, January 19, 2007

Enterprise for an Existence

I often consider myself fortunate to be the part of a nation seemingly, getting into thespotlight of affairs. With over 7% of sustained growth in GDP and as a huge market for awide array of products and services ranging from Cotton Textiles to Mobile phones, fromCoffee Bars to Airline Services, India is in the heat of the moment. I feel proud to be a part of the happening atmosphere where more and more Indians want to have bigger houses, better cars, demand courtesy at restaurants and want on-time transport. It enthralls me that the Mittals and the Ambanis as the new Heroes of the youth are slowly replacing theGandhis and Netajis –Heroes of India’s yesteryears. Indians are getting ready to face the world with their sheer economic power and enterprise. It brings me pride to know that global perception of India as a poor nation is being changed by a perception of a definite power to reckon, a sleeping elephant now just awakened.

I am amazed at enterprise of humans to convert raw resources into hard earned money. I see enterprise in the eyes of the villager from Mandya holding out Maps and atlases for sale 10 rupees a piece ready for an immediate bargain. I see enterprise in the eyes of the girl from Bangalore who has just lost her job from a private firm, as she signs up to start out her own venture manufacturing name plates and making design documents. I see enterprise in the eyes of the four mavericks that quit their high paying MNC jobs to start their own unit writing code for VOIP services in Mumbai. I see enterprise in the eyes of the silent boy nextdoor as he talks about RFID solutions as the future of logistics in the nation and decides to pursue his career pioneering RFID networks. I am happy to see enterprise all around. I am glad that I am a part of this environment and I very much want to be a part of it.

I see in people the want to create opportunity and hope. I see in them the desire to innovate better and faster ways to converting resources into wealth, into a better standard ofliving. I see the urge to feel and play with the invisible hand of the market, where the competition is intense but guided purely by the unbiased laws of the market. I see the craving to enjoy the powers of being able to create more jobs, more buyers and more things to buy. I see the longing to be kindled bythe flames of healthy business competition that will only prompt them to either grow or die inthe process of the growth. I see the enthusiasm to nurture the spirit of enterprise that defines the way they think and the way they want to act. I can see with certainity a drive to be Entrepreneurs.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The $ and the Soul

It seems casual, subtle and unintentionally poised the way people deal with business.
It attracts me for sure, and arouses my desire to resemble and be part of this game -- of elite hypocrisy--and acute materialism---the game of business.

I am back from a party,hosted by a Pakistani businessman with whom I have spent several of the last 48 hours of my life. Who has rekindled in me yet again the spirit of true business crossing barriers of all emotion. The man is typical- I dare say- of a type known to me from far before like as if I knew of him since my birth, A man of all smiles-even admist bouts of excessive alcohol and tobbacco--admist chaos of his personal life--admist filthy tantrums of money passing his kitties every hour.

It reminds me of the evening I spent in the mesmerizing enigma of Marine drive, which remains and will remain proof of the invisible hand of business , even as the garangutan building neon lights stood upright against the backdrop of the mighty Arabian ocean , quietly but certainly denoting the power of money and the flow of bloods and sweat that passed to create this grandeur

As I travel in my corolla with the airconditioner in the chassis keeping the Dhaka sun at bay, I stop for a moment from to feel the fleeting time, and I feel it fleeting through my nerves as if reminding me of my inaction.

Sometimes I wonder to whom I belong?Do I belong to my parents who have instilled in me highest degree of repect for values and family? Do I belong to my brother for having taught me the joy of being simple? Do I belong to you who taught me what it is to miss someone? who taught me the way to feel belonged?

Or do I belong to this fleeting moments of grandeur? The power that these moments bring? Do I belong to the pulse I feel in flowing materialism, the way it makes and breaks life? Do i belong to being a part of business?

The answer I dont know,and I am sure I remain unaware. In addition I fear that the answer will continue to evade me for the rest of my life as it has evaded this far.
As the car stops at a traffic signal, my door screen shows me a muslim blind beggar at the traffic light. A man naked till his waist and in eternal deprivement of light begging me for some alms. His frail body shows through his skeleton,and his bony arm held by a woman you looked younger than he, presumably his wife.

For a moment i felt afresh, for I saw the love this woman had for her husband as she waded him through the crowded streets of Dhaka, or as she dodged the police cops who shooed them away from the streets. I saw the love this man had for his wife inspite of his handicap as he bravely ran admist speeding vehicles with the hope that some sahib shall make them their meal for the day.
I dont know what that meant to me , but I am sure that it meant a lot. I know that the rich will get richer and the poor poorer , but the world will move on.


The Art and the Asinine

Hung on the far wall beside a lone curtain, strained away from the streaking shadows of the lamp holder setting the mood for the tunes that played the dim light stood this masterpiece of art. The ambience of the elite , at the Royal Orchid had little to do with art. The big industrialists, businessmen,doctors and maybe kids of a rich sahib adorned this lovely Chinese restaurant this Sunday evening.

I was there too. Not that I was elite in anyway. Although I felt the elitist blood craving to flow through my veins. I was with a Pakistani Businessman who hosted me dinner for reasons inexplicable to anyone who thought dinners were just suppers. For him, dinners meant business and business meant me!

I do not know much about art either. But I know enough to appreciate it. So I remained aware of this silent and sad but pretty woman with her clothing that covered her hair staring at the merry dinner makers. I remained aware of the silence of this painting.

Paintings are like poetry in may ways. They always have something to say. What they have to say is often hidden in the beauty of the way in which it has to be said. Very often the beauty supersedes the message and you enjoy art for the sake of art.Back in my school days I remember a favorite teacher saying this about poetry, "Its the feeling that matters, the rest is passe".

The painting in the Royal Orchid was sad, and mystic. A woman with strained eyebrows and the sun at her back, seemed to signify to me a message that i found akin to the message in the life of every Bangladeshi resident. A message that perpetuated through the shiny streets and the dusty paths of this Great Nation, through the British cultured Sahibs of Gulshan, to the petty impoverished beggar of Gazipur.

I used to love a painting in my grandparents house at Palakkad. The painting of a boatman. A lone boat in a huge winding river, flowing through tall mountains on either ends. The magnificence of the painting-- as I found -- was the enormity of it. I found the tall mountains undiscovered and challenging. More importantly,I found them mysterious. I don't know if you can appreciate this but I dare say that my young days were always immersed in a marmalade of mystery. I got to like mystery way back since a kid. I still love mysteries, and I still find life a mystery.


The Beginning of the End -1

1.The END
These smoke laden grasslands
And the hot blowing wind
With the sun shining in the lowlands
The cows mowing the farms.

These noises of the factory
And those silent days are gone
With the voice of Samba's story
The oldmen far from town.

These lights that burn the darkness
And shy away the wolves
With the magic of the forest
The spirits that shine the stars

These skins that wrap your feet up
And wont let you feel the rocks
With the misty damp of the black soil
The water between the toes.

These coins and cloth and tea-breaks
And nothing more to own
With no time to breathe the cool wind
The seeds of end are sown.

A Responsible Media

The media is the most prominent catalyst in forming an opinion. The local newspaper, the television, the theatre, cinema and the universal Internet are the windows through which we experience the world. Hence issues concerning the contents of the media or the way in which they influence the society are matters of utmost importance and hence must not go un-addressed.

History points out that the progress or downfall of societies can always be cornered down to the state of mind prevalent of the individuals that formed them. Natures of events are led more by the interpretation and assimilation of prevalent facts than the facts themselves. Interpretations of state of matters are not absolute in themselves. They are in practice reasonably biased by the opinions nurtured about affairs in general. The media is very instrumental in forming these very opinions that a generation harbors. I wouldn’t be far from the truth if I said that the media is the power that defines the path on which the world moves onto the future.

Only a responsible media can allow a generation of individuals to carry a society to the goals that it needs to achieve. The responsibility of the media should then undoubtedly be to create the necessary interpretation of the facts that surface and hence form the opinions that will propel the society to its predestined goals. This means that newspapers and magazines need to more than just report facts; they need to do so in a way so as to influence the reader to form an opinion that propels him to cause overall growth. Movies theatre music and the rest of the entertainment media need to grow beyond being symbols of art. They should form an ambience that thrusts a society into its goals.

Freedom of a responsible press is more important than the freedom of press in itself
While the former speaks about the power of freedom that a responsible press enjoys as long as it performs to the good of the society, the later speaks about unconditional freedom in the hands of the press, where the social responsibility of forming constructive opinions is transferred to the individual. A characteristic feature of the latter arrangement is that the society and its growth are largely determined by the mixed outlooks that a non regulated media will cause. This probably explains why very often we fail to achieve many of our goals like say the FIVE YEAR PLANS or THE COMMON MINIMUM PROGRAMME. Because these have been framed in the context of a free press that generates multiple opinions about the very veracity or procedure of execution of these plans. On the other hand however by conferring a conditional freedom to a responsible media, we are allowing the media to form a uniform opinion to the end that it meets overall growth towards the targeted goal. In doing so the media may need to have to decorate or even distort facts, the freedom of the responsible media will enable it do so.

Every time we watch a cricket match, no matter where we are ,we tend to root for India. This is a clear example of an entertainment media like a sport promoting a feeling of patriotism. Afternoon soaps meant to target the house wife audience carries contents of feminine independence and hence has increased the confidence and the standard of living of the Indian house wife. There are several such examples of the media largely affecting the way of life. It is quite possible that with succinctly presented news reports or smartly directed movies can change the mindset of people to believe that they need to cooperate with a potential enemy nation to grow towards success.