Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Capoeira has Begun!

"Two individuals sway around each other in the middle of the room. One reaches out with his foot to trip the other, only to fall, caught off-balance because he has been cleverly dodged. But the would-be tripper is unfazed, and hurls himself into a backwards, fluid cartwheel. Observers who surround them play a role as well, as they sing, smile and laugh at the contenders." --Judy Bradford.

An interesting description of the Brazilian fusion of song , dance and martial art form. The Capoeira, the folk form of native Brazilians developed in the 19th century has now started making itself visible in the way Brazil is rising. From being an impoverished underdeveloped economy of African slaves, now Brazil has more than 190,000 individuals with more than a million dollars of assets. A fast developing economy, with sound business fundamentals Brazil is the new star in the horizon of BRIC nations of India,China and Russia.

Financial rating agency Standard & Poor's awarded Brazil the "Investment Grade" status last week and sent the country's stocks to a soaring high. Brazil's stock market 'Bovespa' was one of the best performing markets of the year 2007. While the rest of the world is still reeling under the pressure of the rising commodity prices, Brazil sits contented being one of the the largest producers of soya, a very important globally consumed commodity. A series of offshore discoveries by the state owned Petrobas reckons Brazil being a major oil producing nation soon.

The dance has just begun. Brazil is in lines with its Brazilian description Pais do futuro (country of the future). The sleeping giant of South America has awakened. The Capoeira has begun!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A 100 Million Dollar Mistake.

After the shocking but well deserved sacking of Charu Sharma, as the CEO of the Bangalore Royal Challengers and the shameful performance of Bangalore's team in the IPL, media savvy businessman and owner of the Bangalore Royal Challengers, Dr Vijay Mallya admitted his expensive mistake he made while he auctioned for the players for his 111.6 million dollar franchise for the IPL.
In an embarrassing report in cricinfo.com (Read:'Biggest mistake was to abstain from selection' - Mallya ) Mallya claims that the poor judgement of Rahul Dravid and a backing by Charu Sharma, got him a team which has been often referred to as a Test team rather than a 20-20 team. He quips.
"My biggest mistake was to abstain from the selection of the team. Though I watch a lot cricket whenever possible, I am no cricket expert at the end of the day.....I had a separate list of players that I wanted. But since Dravid is such an iconic player I trusted his judgment. And Charu Sharma also backed him. After seeing the final list, my friends told me it looked like a Test team,...But I backed both of them thinking that they advised me properly. Unfortunately in cricket, unlike in any other sport, the captain is the boss."
Having lost 6 of the 8 games they played the Bangalore Team remains at the bottom of the points table and shows no signs of improving from there. The mistake of selection claimed by Mallya will only demotivate the players further and am sure will fail again under pressure. Its certainly been a costly mistake. A mistake that millions of die-hard Bangalore fans(including myself) are finding difficult to digest.

Has Democracy Won in Karnataka?

After what was predicted (and feared ) will be a very low turn out for voters in the first phase of elections in Karnataka, a refreshing 66% of the 1.73 crore electorate managed to execute their constitutional right by voting in this elections. Well! that's the good news. The bad news is though, is that the real turn out has been whopping huge in the rural areas, while the Bangalore urbans turned out in meagre numbers recording a low of 44% voter turn out. I would like to, in this post put forth a perspective which touches upon the nonchalant attitude of Bangalore urbans when it comes to voting.
The media is largely followed and appreciated by the urbans. The nation wide television termed the first phase of elections as "The Battle for Bangalore". Debates thronged in different parts of Bangalore City. Large discussions ensued the real issues concerning this elections. People claimed that the real issues were "Bangalore City Infrastructure" "BIAL airport" and "Bangalore becoming a global hub". For a moment prior to the elections, it seemed as if the issues like "Caste Politics" , "Cauvery" and "farmer suicides" will take a back seat and Bangalore will receive a fresh new life after the elections. But that, given the voter turn out in urban Bangalore, I guess is yet again going to be a remote possibility.
Bad roads and slow paced construction of flyovers and on every Bangalorean's discussion topic almost everyday. But Bangaloreans , I guess don't have a solution. Politician bashing and Government bashing although has become a fashion statement in the IT capital of India, the real people who deserve a thorough bashing are the very Bangaloreans themselves. When it was called upon them to form an identity, when it was asked upon them to become a part of a voice, when it was demanded of them that they act to solve their problems, they failed. A low voter turnout in the current situation of Bangalore is not an accident, Its a crime.
I am sure, once this election goes through and when the government is formed, democracy would have won. It would have brought forth the real issues that concern our state. It will address the problems of the real people who matter, whose problems are so grave, that they decide to exercise their franchise through voting. I wouldn't be surprised if that were the problems of the 78% of the rural voters and not the 44% of the Bangalore urbans. I wouldn't be surprised if caste reservations and farmer subsidies are on priority on the government's agenda, and not the Bangalore Metro or the flyover in Yeswantpur. And when that happens I hope the tech savvy, fashion conscious ,IT capital of the country wont have anything to complain about.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

An Unforgettable Sunday in May

Sitting by the Aisle,
and watching all the green
The setting sun, the midnight soil
quite a weekend it has been
Freshly painted walls,
a newly laid out lawn
the touch of tiles beneath the feet
and the birds before the dawn.
The lovely games we play
the fights and times of joy
Stories on a moonlit night
resound on each brick and toy
Its more than just a house
Its more than just four walls
Its more than just four humans
who walk across these halls.
Its a warm unit of happiness
like the cool breeze on a summer day
A lovely family in a lovely home
celebrating on this May Sunday.
(this is written on the day of celebration of the first anniversary of my home-'Sree Krishna' at Palakkad in God's own country)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A letter to the PM

Dear Mr. Manmohan Singh,

I hope this letter finds you in the pink of health and consciousness (I am doubting the latter though) .And convey my hearty congratulations to Ms Sonia Gandhi on her being declared as one of the most influential persons of the contemporary world order. (I am certain she is influential, she runs the world's largest democracy even without being on power!).

I decided to write to you, to commiserate with you on your bag of troubles that have suddenly shrouded you. I want to congratulate you on having successfully demonstrated your philosophical, spiritual and populist side in the wake of elections. Unfortunately for you , your problems started in 2007 when the prices started rising and eventually the sub prime crisis, and then India's participation in the global markets collapse, and then the unheard of levels of inflation in the country. Riding on a continued growth story for the rest of your term, it has been unfortunate for you that all your troubles should resurface on a possibly election year. Tough luck mate.
No doubt you have tried your best though. Rs 60,000 crores of a gift for inefficient farmers surely will encourage them to concentrate lesser on their farming and more on your vote bank. It' s good in many ways, firstly it saves the trouble of having to produce efficiently. Clearly your methods have ensured lack of quality supply of food grains, through populist measures like these and ones in the past. I know the critics argue that to control the inflation we must improve our supply (contrary to what your schemes have done). But never mind the critics, you can control the inflation by reducing the demand for food grains and other products instead . After all "reducing demand" serves just as good as "improving supply".
You have already started implementing the "reduce demand" campaign, you have advised corporates to reduce their paychecks themselves in a "moral" move to help reduce inflation. You have asked them to earn lesser and lesser until they don't have enough money to spend. This seems like sound logic. After all where can there be a demand if there is not enough liquidity to buy. I'm sure the banks are supporting you to a good extent. They have increased their CRR, and helping in curbing liquidity in the market. I like your thinking so much that I have asked my family to eat lesser and lesser everyday, in a week's time we will need no wheat, rice, soya or oil.
This way the international rise in prices have no bearing on our family. I am advising my neighbours to follow suit.
I am sure you don't consider strengthening the rupee as a solution, as this will affect our exports and hence the growth. It is important that the US continues to buy our series of hi tech software even if we have completely given up eating grains in a "moral" move to save the economy. Yes! growth is more important. It is important that the US continues to buy website maintenance services even if they can't afford to pay for it (in the wake of the impending recession). It is okay, if domestic consumption is restricted through rising interest rates. After all consumption is bad for the inflation; the momentum tends to create demand.
I was wondering what other plans you have up your sleeve? Maybe attack rising fuel prices by promoting bullock carts? Or identify weak ailing farmers and give them more money to produce only weeds for the bullocks to eat? Yeah! and ask the Indian railways to consider making rails out of stone instead of steel? I am amazed at the choices you have.
Thank you for the direction. India is shining after all.
your sincerely
Citizen of India.

For Zimbabwe, the Fight has only Begun

The official results are finally out. Mysteriously though the results make sure that nobody gets a majority in excess of 50% vote - in spite of earlier claims by MDC and several observers that Mr. Tsvangirai had won 50.3% of the total electorate. The official results (also confirmed by a few independent observations) claim that Mr Mugabe and Zanu PF, managed to make about 43.2% of the votes, and Morgan Tsavangirai and MDC will have only 47.9% of the share.
According to the law in Zimbabwe, if nobody gets a majority in excess of 50% of the vote, the situation will run into a "run off vote" in this case, between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai. Which (according to Tsvangirai) is exactly what was desired by Robert Mugabe. The situation seems very similar to the last presidential elections in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Tsvangirai has been maintaining a stand that Robert Mugabe has scandalously tilted close to 120,000 votes to his side and that he would not participate in any kind of "Run Off" until more international independent observers are involved. Amid all the chaos and violence, out of fear for losing his life, Mr. Tsvangirai is outside Zimbabwe.
What was hoping to be a healthy change for the governance in Zimbabwe has turned into a nasty political war claiming innocent Zimbabwean lives (Read: Krishna Prashanth: The Zephyr turns into a Tornado and Krishna Prashanth: A Zephyr in Zimbabwe).
In his 28 year long term as the president of Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe has denounced western media and their interference in Zimbabwe. The pictures of BBC reporters waiting in the Zimbabwe-South Africa border, to get a glimpse of some news from the inside the troubled nation, is something that we get to see everyday.
Looks like for Zimbabwe, the fight has only begun.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Innovation Centre- A Dream Come True

Remember that ad of IBM where a lady from a corporate organisation speaks tall words and claims she has a place created for making innovations the "Innovation Centre"? IBM makes a message that Innovation does not come through talking but by "doing".For the Industrial environment ABB India, is "doing" to innovation which very few companies n India have done in the past. Clearly Innovation is the distinctive business advantage provider of the future.

A report on Economic Times dated May 2nd 2008, has Mr Biplab Majumder, the CEO and Managing Director of ABB India ltd. speaking rather proudly about the Innovation Centre that has developed around 36 patent applications for global use. (Read: ABB's on a scorching growth path)
Mr Majumder says thus about the Innovation centre: "...The largest research and development center within the group is now based out of India, after shifting base from Germany. ABB India has even set up an innovation center in Bangalore with a team of five engineers who have made 36 patent applications till date, out of which five have been accepted by ABB in all its worldwide businesses. ....."
Five enthusaistic Application Engineers from Drives ABB India, (Pradeep A, Haja Nizamudeen, Gargi Karmakar ,Vikaskumar B and Myself) supported by a radically thinking ABB management dreamed of a centre for creating innovations, a centre for promoting the idea of leading the market than , merely conquering it. Nearly 3 years ago, a journey that we embarked on has seen the light of its day, and has become a role model for many more businesses in India to follow suit. I am sure this is a small symbol of the creation of a new work order in Indian business atmosphere.

Singing for Brains !

Sonia Gandhi, making way into the TIME magazine's 100 most influential people created headlines world over. But another very interesting person who made it into the elite list was Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. A very enigmatic character, she travels round the US singing and educating the masses about the beauty of the brain and the value of brain donation for research into the severe mental illnesses. She sings for brains!!
Her charming character might seem ever more special and super human, when we hear her story as published in her website (http://drjilltaylor.com/about.html):
"Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a trained and published neuroanatomist. She specializes in the postmortem investigation of the human brain. Because she has a brother who has been diagnosed with the brain disorder schizophrenia, Dr. Taylor served for 3 years on the board of directors of the national NAMI organization (National Alliance on Mental Illness) between 1994-1997. Currently she serves as President of the Greater Bloomington Affiliate of NAMI........But as irony would have it, on December 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor woke up to discover that she was experiencing a rare form of stroke, an arterio-venous malformation (AVM). Three weeks later, on December 27, 1996, she underwent major brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to remove a golf ball size hemorrhage that was placing pressure on the language centers in the left hemisphere of her brain.For the past ten years, Dr. Taylor has been successfully rebuilding her brain - from the inside out. In response to the swelling and trauma of the stroke which placed pressure on her dominant left hemisphere, the functions of her right hemisphere have blossomed. Among other things, she now creates and sells unique stained glass brains. In addition she published a book about her recovery from stroke and the insights she gained into the workings of her brain. The book is titled My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey."
Simple as you might say, this is what she says on being chosen for the honour
"What an honor it has been to be chosen as one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential in the World for 2008!This all came about because I was invited to give an 18-minute presentation at the TED conference in Monterey, CA on February 27, 2008. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design - three wide-ranging subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. Every year, 1300 of the world's leading thinkers and doers gather together for four days of networking, education and exposure to new ideas. Past speakers and performers have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Paul Simon, Richard Branson, Frank Gehry, Philippe Starck, James Watson, Billy Graham, Jane Goodall, Al Gore, and Bono. However, TED is about much more than famous names. It is about passion, laughter, beauty, and ingenuity. It is about ideas capable of changing the world, and I was given 18 minutes to share my personal story and an idea that I believed was worth spreading. My experience at TED was both phenomenal and life transforming. See for yourself by visiting www.TED.com"
This surely is an inspiration.