Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama's call to Manmohan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is recovering after his bypass surgery in AIIMS, New Delhi. US President Barack Obama who considers India as a friend decides to call Mr Singh to wish him a speedy recovery. The PM's secretary hands over the cell phone to our Prime Minister.

Manmohan - Hello.....

Obama -- Good morning Mr Singh. I hope you are doing fine with your health?

Manmohan – Hello...kuch sunai nehi de raha hai.....Ye humare desh he mobile network...There is not much difference between them and Praksah Karat...can't trust any of them.

Obama – Mr Singh can you hear me....?

Manmohan – Yes Mr Obama. Congratulations on your taking over as President. See my condition before the hangover of your inauguration was over I landed up in the hospital.

Obama – Get well soon Mr Singh. I called you up to discuss some urgent matters concerning both our nations.

Manmohan – Now what concerns me is my health. But any ways continue...

Obama- Mr Singh I have made sure that my country tightens screws on Pakistan.

Manmohan – At this moment they are tightening the screws around my bed so that I don't fall off.

Obama – Forget about Pakistan, you are aware our economy is bleeding right now Mr Singh.

Mahmohan – Well I have just had a second bypass surgery right after taking over the Finance Ministry. Please do not push me into a third by talking about the economy.

Obama – No its just a help I want from India. You and your countrymen can help us by increasing consumerism so that production comes back to life in our industries.

Mahmohan – I don't know about others in my country but I use everything American. To give you an example my countrymen have patronised Nokia handsets but the one I am using right now is Motorola from your country.

Obama. - Thanks for that Mr Singh. I have a great deal for every $500 million worth of import we give you an advanced radar. For $1 billion you get one F-18 jet to bomb Pakistan. If you import goods worth $10 dollars we give you a nuclear powered Aircraft Carrier so you can dump that Russian Admiral Gorshkov whenever you get into the Indian ocean.

Manmohan - But we can't dump the Russians they have been our ally even when you country used to threaten us. Moreover you will supply arms to Pakistan as well.

Obama – I agree but times have changed and you are our biggest market ....oops biggest ally and we will supply Pakistan with all outdated equipment and trust me their planes will fall from the sky.

Manmohan - (to himself) Nobody can match our MiGs in this regard.

Obama – Did you say something Mr Singh.

Manmohan – Oh No. Mr Obama these are important issues concerning the country I cannot decide them on my own.

Obama – Well I understand that in democracy like ours we are answerable to the house.

Mammohan - I hope it was that way here too. In the last five years I have only been answerable to Madam. Moreover I don't take any decisions these days.

Obama – But you are the elected Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world.

Manmohan – To tell you the truth I am proxy PM till Rahul baba is ready to take charge of the nation. Moreover as far as elected Prime Minister is concerned I have never managed to win a single election all my life. I am a nominated member to the Rajya Sabha.

Obama – So should I be instead talking to Madam?

Manmohan – No she will be terribly upset and moreover the opposition will get another chance to brand me as a rubber stamp Prime Minister which unfortunately I am.

Obama – Should I talk to Rahul Gandhi then?

Manmohan – No no he is too young for all these. He will take over once he is wise. Moreover you can't reach him on his cell he is on an image building exercise and visiting tribal areas where unfortunately our BSNL network hasn't reached.

Obama (looses patience) – Shall I then talk to the communists for help to bail my country's economy out of hell.

Mammohan – Calm down Mr Obama I can't take screaming, my condition is still very critical. I now have a good deal for you. Take P Chidambaram to your country to bail you out or else....

Obama - Chidambaram, no way I will rather call some Left leaders from your country or else have recession all my life but no Chidambaram. But wait you said else.

Mahmohan – Make the same call to my best friend L K Advani, he might be able to help you. At least he controls what he speaks and has no madam sitting over him......I think I am low on battery and need to cut the call.

Manmohan cuts the call switches off his cell phone and breathes a sigh of relief. As for Obama's he dails L K Advani


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is route ki sabhi line e vyasth hai

If you are an Indian and have used any form of telecommunication be it the wired or the wireless connection you might have heard it. It you haven't than you have somewhat missed the true taste of using a phone in India. The best part is the same message is played in Hindi, English and Regional Languages so it gives you an opportunity to learn a regional language which you may not otherwise know.

Although we are one of the fastest growing Telecom markets in the world thanks to the mobile revolution in India our service quality has gone from bad to worse. To state it in a scientific term the network quality has become inversely proportional to the number of connections. For those who don't understand science it means more the number of connections worst is the network quality.

We Indians are also not helping our cause by putting stress on our choked networks with something called 'Missed Calls'. We have mastered the art of missed calls and devised codes for the receiver of our 'Missed Calls' (eg 1 Missed Call – I have reached, 2 Missed Calls – I am fine...etc). Anything that is not charged in our country we seem to patronise it.

Recently I was trying to get through a call but my redialling went in vein. I told my friend that international standards set for call drop is 1/1000000 (sigma six) i.e, out of 1000000 dialled numbers only one should fail. He mocked at me saying “Your luck always has the '1' call that can fail in the international standard. I told my friend that even if the operators promise me 1/100 call drop rate I will accept it with a smile.

Mobiles were supposed to ease life rather they have made us dependent on them. The irony is when in the time of need you may end up hearing 'Is route ki sabhi line e vyasth hai kripaya thodi der baad dail kare...All channels to this route are busy please try after some time. As for the regional languages just fill in the blanks ________!!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Government disgraces Olympic heroes

The omission of boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar from the list of Padma Awardees has left the entire country shocked. This has once again exposed the ignorance to achievements that exists in the mind of the people government especially our bureaucracy. How on earth can anyone explain the omission of the Beijing heroes who could not make it to the list of 133 recipients of the prestigious Padma Awards.

Olympic Bronze Medallist Vijender and Sushil are rightly upset more with the Government on this. Even more because Olympic Gold Medalist Abhinav Bindra was chosen for the Padma Shri awards. Nothing to take away from Bindra but his Gold medal was equally celebrated by the nations as were the two bronze medals that the other two won during the games. True a Gold Medal is more precious than a Bronze but was this the criteria to choose between our heroes?

It may be mentioned that Abhinav Bindra comes from an affluent family and his father is known to have great contacts in the corridors of power. Otherwise it would not have been surprising to see Abhinav Bindra's name omitted from the list as well. Just about six months back these people were being hailed as heroes of the country. The irony is after all these the government will expect our sportsman to win medals for us in Olympics.

The most surprising entry into the list was cricketer Harbhajan Singh who was also awarded the Padma Shri. But he was in the news for all the wrong reasons last year starting with the 'monkey-gate' where most of us know he had truly abused Symonds with 'Teri ?? ??” (unofficially one of the official slangs in India). Then he slapped another dancing jack of Indian cricket. Bhajji has contributed a lot to Indian cricket but he did not deserve the award this year at least not ahead of Vijender and Sushil.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Aussies can be defeated!

If the last six months of international cricket is anything to go by Australia have lost their invincible tag. South Africa's Test and ODI series victory in Australia has been a great blow to Aussie cricketing pride. There was a time not too long ago when teams would turn up for a match against Australia already having accepted defeat in their minds. This had led to most of Test and ODI series in the last decade involving the kangaroos as one sided affairs.

Such was the Aussie domination that they were the finalists on the last four editions of the World Cup winning three on a trot. They hold a distinction of not loosing even a single match in the last two editions of the World Cup. Even in 'whites' (read test cricket) the Aussies were a force to reckon with and most teams would be served innings defeats and series white washes when they toured the country 'Down Under'.

Not anymore, with the retirement of quality players such as Shane Warne, Glen McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and most recently Matthew Hayden the kangaroos look a good team but surely not an 'invincible' one. Another thing which is hurting the Aussies is their ageing side . They are today one of the oldest sides in the world compared to South Africa and India which relatively have young and fresh legs.

Another significant thing that is likely to happen with the decline of the Aussies is that sledging and abusing might come down. The kangaroos had brought the game to disrepute by time and again getting involved in sledging. Their regular victories had made them so arrogant that they could not appreciate good performance from the opposition. Critic might argue other teams also sledge but the question why is Australia always part of all the sledging controversies and who started this trend in cricket?

World cricket is finally seems balanced with India, Australia and South Africa being head to head against each other. Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand forming the second bunch in the list. Aussie decline might be good to cricket as a single country domination is never good for the promotion of a game.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Should there be a retirement age in politics?

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh undergoes his second bypass heart surgery and the entire country prays for his speedy recovery. Although a good leader at the age of 76 he isn't getting any younger and it might be the right time for him to quit form active politics. Dr. Singh is one among the L K Advanis, Karunanidhis, Deve Gowdas and the Bal Thackreys who are in that stage of their lives when mind and body tends to give up.

So the question arises shouldn't there be a retirement age for politicians? Every job in the organised sector has a retirement age so why are the politicians given such a concession. Is leading the nation a much easier job than doing something clerical in an office? Why are grey hair, weak legs and a bald scalp considered signs of maturity in this country?

Ironically the only situation in which a young man in his 40s can become the Prime Minister of this country is if he is a Gandhi (Rahul Gandhi any ways is our next PM). Or else he has slog through the channels of his party for all his productive life and than become a top rank leader only when he has diabetes, coupled with high blood pressure and cardiac problem.

Some critics would say that age has nothing to do with decision making. True, then why not treat all other jobs in the country the same way. Why isn't politics treated as a profession in India rather than a service to the people. Considering the complexity and important nature of the job politics should be treated with more seriousness than it is treated right now.

It is no surprise that in developed countries like UK Tony Blair had his third child after assuming office ofs the PM where as in India being a grandfather is a must have qualification for any of our leaders. Vladamir Putin and Barack Obama have been photographed flaunting their six pack abs where as our defence minister falls unconscious on a hot sunny afternoon while taking a guard of honour.

India is a young country with more than 60% of the population under the age of 35. We need young people with wise and stable minds coupled with lots of energy to lead us. As for the the old brigade in politics their experience can be of help any day provided their don't hold key posts in the government.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Netaji: The mystery needs to be solved

"Friend's! my comrades in the War of Liberation! Today I demand of you one thing, above all. I demand of you blood. It is blood alone that can avenge the blood that the enemy has spilt. It is blood alone that can pay the price of freedom. Give me blood and I Promise you freedom”. These were the lines Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose said on July 4, 1944 in Burma.

Hereafter the Indian National Army fought ferociously for their motherland. Under the leadership of Bose they gave tough opposition to the superior British Indian Army in the eastern theatre. The fall of the Axis powers meant that INA's Delhi dream was never reliased. Bose was branded as a traitor my some as he tried to form an ally with the Nazis, the Fascists and Japan. It is a shame that those people who called Bose a traitor were born in the same country as the brave heart.

It was shame on the part of our nation not to recognise the heroics of the Indian National Army and deny respect to them. As for the people who questioned the integrity of Bose his heroics during World War II is the answer. This was the same man who escaped the clutches of the Britishers travelled around the world to fight for the independence of India. He may not even have ever set foot on his motherland again.

Mahatama Gandhi may be considered a symbol of peace and truthfulness but once in his lifetime he played a bad political game to make sure Subhash Chandra Bose did not emerge as the undisputed leader of Congress. Bose could have easily divided the Congress after defeating Gandhi's preferred candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya but instead resigned from the party and formed the Forward Bloc. Gandhi's political game during that period is a dark spot in his image.

Bose's disappearance has been Independent India's biggest unsolved mystery. Many commissions later we still haven't been able to crack the puzzle. Or have we? There are too many conspiracy theories doing the rounds which is not highly surprising considering the fact the information gathered by the various commissions have been kept classified. The Government has always said that disclosure of the information could affect India's relations with foreign countries.

Is it so? Or is it that the information could bring in the real face of many of our leaders and bureaucrats who ran a conspiracy to bury the truth of Netaji's disappearance. Doesn't a common Indian have the right to know what happened to one of its greatest leaders. The country has failed to honour the sacrifice of all people like Bhagat Singh, Veer Sawarkar, Subhash Chanda Bose and many others who were termed as rebels. This was done by people who were more politicians than freedom fighters.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Indian Air Force bird down again

Nabha Sparsham Deeptam (Touch the Sky with Glory) well that's the moto of the Indian Air Force but the pilots seem to be touching fire everywhere. The recent crash of a Surya Kiran in Bidar, Karnataka is another addition to the list of air crashes which have become synonymous with the IAF. These crashes which destroy planes and take away the lives of the pilots are happening too often to be ignored..

The Indian Air Force is currently struggling with its ageing fleet of fighter and transport aircrafts. Moves to induct new aircrafts and air defence equipments have been caught in red-tapism. The delay in the development of the ingeniousness LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) has meant that the outdated aircrafts have been regularly overhauled to extend their service life.

The Air Force has lost 169 aircraft in in the six major operations starting for the 48 Kashmir war, the 62 Chinese war, 65 Indo-Pak war, 71 Bangladesh liberation, the 87 IPKF operation in Sri Lanka and the 99 Kargil conflict. But during peace time we have lost more that 600 planes. If the figures of last two decades are pulled up its a worrying 400 planes that have hit the ground.

In many cases pilot error has been said to be the reason behind the crashes. True, but does that mean that our pilots are not good enough? The answer is a straight No. The reason for most of the crashes has been out faulty training process. The delay in the procurement of AJT (Advanced Jet Trainers) has meant that the pilots are trained on sub-sonic aircrafts and are made to fly super-sonic jets.

To put into perspective the Kiran aircrafts that the pilots train on has a maximum speed of 695 kmph where as MiG 21 has a whopping top speed of 2230 kmph. This jump from one level to another is what many a times results in human error. An ex fighter pilot once said its life joining a PhD right after passing out the intermediate examination.

The bulk of our fighter squadrons is formed by the third generation MiG-21s infamously called the 'Flying Coffins'. Indian Air Force holds the dubious distinction of crashing more than 500 MiGs since they were inducted into service in 60s. Such is the situation that of the 40 squadrons that the Air Force currently has most of them have 60% of the number of planes sanctioned to them.

Air warfare is more about technology than raw courage and in this day and age bulk our Air Force is using outdated machines. In this situation where we are thinking about surgical strikes against the enemy having only two squadrons if Sukhoi- MKI 30 is not enough. After all in a war like situation we cannot just bank on 70 jets even if they are technologically better than our enemy.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's tightens screws on Pakistan

If Barack Obama's inaugural speech is anything to go by Pakistan might not have it easy dealing with the 44th President of the United States of America. Obama clearly said that Pakistan will be responsible for the security along its Afghan border. For long Pakistan has tried to portray itself as a victim of terror and supported terrorist activities in India and Afghanistan.

This will bring in some relief for New Delhi as US policy on Pakistan can make a huge difference in the geo-political situation in the Indian sub-continent. After the recent terror attack in Mumbai US has has championed Indian cause and constantly kept pressure on Pakistan to take action against the perpetrators of terror operating from within its territory.

Since September 11 2001 US has given Pakistan a whopping sum of 7.5 billion dollars to fight the war against terror. The global community is aware of the fact that a huge chunk of this money has been diverted to purchase military equipment to be used against India. In spite of being aware of this US hasn't been able to do much as Pakistan is a key ally in the war against the Taliban and Al Qaida

Barack Obama has however had made his policy clear right from the start that US will pull out of Iraq and take on the terrorists in Afghanistan. He had even gone on to say that if needed US forces might conduct operations inside the Pakistani territory. He is also planning to send 30000 more troops to Afghanistan after they pull out of Iraq.

Obama is aware of the fact that the tribal areas of Pakistan is where most of the terror leaders run their campaign. Unless these areas are sanitised sending more forces to Afghanistan will be of little help. Its an uphill task for the US President to make sure that nuclear armed Pakistan does not become its enemy from ally in this process of fighting the “War on Terror”


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Black President enters the White House

The wait is finally over and Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. Obama's win is historic as he will be the first African-American person to reach the top office in the US. The Harvard Law School graduate will have a challenging task ahead of him as he inherits a fragile economy and growing unpopularity of US around the globe especially in the Islamic world.

The world has patiently waited since November 4 2008 when Obama defeated John McCain in one of the most widely televised presidential elections. The world is waiting to see if the most powerful man on earth really lives up to the promises he made during his election campaign. The charismatic Obama had created superhero like image during his campaign and now the people's expectation on him will be high.

From as Indian perspective Barack Obama was not India's dream US President. His initial talks on putting a cap on the outsourcing industry had scared many industry leaders here in India. Later on Obama had put a slightly moderate economic front realising stopping outsourcing is easier said than done. His take on the Kashmir issue might be another hurdle in the Indo-US ties.

Irrespective of what the world thinks about him, India had the best possible relationship with US under George Bush. With a new administration in place there might some initial hiccups but our ties with the US should be a national policy irrespective of who is in power in New Delhi or Washington. We cannot ignore US and the US President and thus have to work with him for mutual benefits.

Barack Obama has to live up to the expectation of millions of people from within the US and also around the world. He rode to the While House on his promises to revive America. His slogan “Yes, We Can” had a cult following both among the Blacks and Whites.. It remains to be seen whether he changes his slogan now to “Yes, We Will”


Monday, January 19, 2009

Kasab has become our National Hero

Mohammad Ajmal Mohammad Amir Kasab a unknown terrorist from Faridkot in Pakistan can surely claim to be the most popular man in India today. So much is his popularity that his name has featured at least once in all the major newspapers, television news broadcast and major news portals since he was captured alive in Mumbai during the 26/11 terrorist attack.

In the last 7 weeks we have been enlightened on India's biggest guest. By now most Indians know where Kasab was born and what his parents did. What made him run away from home and how did he come contact with the LeT. We also know Kasab's love for mutton and chicken dishes and his sole wish to meet Amitabh Bachchan.

Kasab's popularity today stands as a threat to that of the Tendulkars, the Khans, the Bachchans and the Kapoors. Only Ramalinga Raju seems to give him some competition. He has forced people like the Big B to write a blog on him. The situation is such that Kasab could have surely emerged as the winner if he was allowed to participate in reality shows such as the Bigg Boss.

After the Mumbai attacks India had initially made smart moves to bring in international attention to the attack. But our diplomats lost the plot when they emphasised more on Kasab's Pakistani citizenship rather than the Mumbai terror attack. The debate over 'state' and 'non-state' actors has stretched far too long for the international community to be any more interested in the topic.

The fact of the matter is we have not been able to get anything concrete out of Pakistan and have rather made Kasab a national hero. Our talk of surgical air strike which we would never have initiated backfired on us and gave the Pakistanis a chance to use nuclear blackmail on us. From being a terrorist state Pakistan became a victim of terror and India's threat in the eyes of the international community.

We should initiate actions (not necessary military) rather than make celebrity out of a terrorist. Israel took on its enemies and declared a cease fire on its own terms. We do not need to copy Israel but should learn that internal security of our country should not be international community's tea time gossip. Let us act rather than talk and if that's not possible then shut up completely.


Friday, January 16, 2009

ICC All Time Test Batsman Rankings

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

There has been a huge hue and cry over Sachin Tendulkar's omission from the Top 20 Test batsman of all times. The International Cricket Council has come up with an argument that the player's performance at his peak has been judged. Also the player's performance in respect to the results of the game has been taken into consideration.

True cricket is a team sport and the results are the ultimate judgement but why then do the rankings says 'All-time ICC Test Batsman' and not All-Time-Team-Man' or something else. These rankings will bar players like Andy Flower and Arjuna Ranatunga as most of their good knocks went in vain as they ended up on the loosing side.

Leaving the case of Sachin Tendulkar apart there have been many surprises in the rankings. Apart from a few names like Donald Bradman, Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Sunil Gavasker, Viven Richards, Garry Sobers, Graeme Pollock most of the positions in the rankings are debatable.

Some of the highlights of the rankings are:

At No 3 is Ricky Pointing who has been a part of a champion side and in most part of his career never played quality fast bowling.

At No 6 is Kumar Sangakkara who has barely 70 test matches under his belt. Although a good player of both spin and pace he has nothing outstanding to boast about.

At No 12 is Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan who apart from a great season two years back wasn't even considered the best batsman in his team.

At No 17 is Michael Hussey of Australia who is barely 33 test matches old in the game. Perhaps his greatest achievement has been playing the longest number of test innings without a duck.

Now consider the names which haven't figured on the Top 20 of the ICC All Time Great Players

Sachin Tendulkar – 12429 runs @ 56

Allan Border - 11174 runs @ 51

Steven Waugh – 10927 runs @ 51

Brian Lara – 11953 runs @ 53

Rahul Dravid - 10509 runs @ 52

Clive Lloyd - 7515 runs @ 47

David Gower – 8231 runs @ 46

The list of such players is endless and may include names like Hanif Mohmmmad, Colin Cowdrey, Zaheer Abbas, Gordon Greenidge, Frank Worrell and many others. Many of these legends did not play in the days of slow motion and ultra motion. There are no highlights of many of their great knocks for the jury to see but no one stopped them from using some bit of their grey matter.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

The difference between 9 and 7

The title of the blog may seem absurd to many. Any mathematician will conclusively tell you the difference is of just two numbers. But when it comes to the growth rate of the Indian economy the two numbers seems to be so far away and between them may terms like layoffs, cost cutting, job stress losses and many others exist.

Till the last financial year the Indian economy was growing at a healthy pace of if 9% and above. There were jobs all around to choose from and employees had suddenly become king in true sense. The rising real estate price did not seem to bother the new urban markets and all the automotive giants in the world seemed to have found their largest potential market in India.

Information Technology, BPO, Finance and Real Estate were some of the sectors witnessing a boom during that period. Indian suddenly seemed to have changed gears. People were spending as if there was no tomorrow. Taking loans was no longer need based and credit cards had become a status symbol among peers.

Then the slowdown happened with IT being the first hit with the falling dollar prices. US financial giants declaring bankruptcy had assured that this depression was here to stay. The Indian economy took the jitters and slowed down. The people suddenly lots interest in the stock market and realised that their first honeymoon with the booming economy was over.

A 7% India's growth rate in this global financial turmoil may make many other economies envious but the 2% depreciation has hit us and hit us hard. Many corporates have freezed their hiring creating a virtual blocked for freshers trying to enter the market. Those within the pay rolls of organisations are living with constant fear of being fired from the company. Employees have finally come to terms with reality and have realised that a corporate job is not something to be blindly trusted upon.

There is a gloomy look in many faces and the gossip around the office campuses are no longer on India's performance in cricket matches. All these just because our economic growth rate dropped by 2%. Well who said statistics and numbers do not matter. It all seems to be a number game!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Indian business which never runs on loss

The entire world seems to be obsessed with recession and business losses. From airlines to hotels and retail outlets to real estate everybody is trying to attract customers by offering them discounts and other freebies. But there is one business in India which always seems to have buyers and never seems to be be at loss. Well you do not need to know rocket science to answer that. Its our very own Indian Railways.

Have any of us ever come across any long distance train where seats run empty?Anyone who really has seen this other than isolated incidents is surely eligible to be a 'wonder of the world'. Any form of public transport system around the world will envy the kind of occupancy Indian Railways has in spite of providing sub standard services in most cases.

RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation) and Waiting List is a norm within days when the booking starts which is also a whopping 90 days before the date of travel. Some people do not mind travelling for thousands of kilometres without a confirmed ticket as long as they get a chance to stand inside the train. Thanks to this the Sleeper Class compartments always remains overbooked much to the dismay of the passengers with confirmed tickets.

Passenger and inter city trains are even worst carrying passengers many times more than their capacity. An Indian railways passenger train is incomplete without people risking their lives hanging on the doors. The sub urban rail network in the metros resembles cattle carts stuffed with human souls who have one thing in common their dependence on Indian Railways in their everyday life.

Having spread its network around the length and breadth of the country railways can take you to all major destinations of the country. If not at least a few hundred kilometres from the destination of one's choice. It is also one of the cheapest forms of transport in the country when compared with road transport and airlines.

With so much of passenger volume and such a huge network Indian Railways must be one of the money making mints in the world. Wait here is the catch till a few years ago Indian Railways always had a deficit budget and was supposed to be running under loss. The credit for this must have gone to our political class and bureaucracy who made sure the railway funds were diverted to their Savings Bank accounts!.

Surprisingly the Indian Railways turned into a profit making organisation even with fare cuts under the leadership of a person who had robbed his own state of every possible thing during his party's rule. Lalu Prashad Yadav not only made the balance sheet of the railways green he also improved upon the efficiency of the railways. No wonder if managed properly this is one business which does not seem to face any threat unless airlines start ferrying people at half the price of a train ticket!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Why Satyam is still worth investment?

Satyam has been the talk of the town since last week. So much has been the impact that another national hero Ajmal Amin Kasab has been pushed out of the front page of the newspapers. War with Pakistan suddenly seems to be secondary and nobody cares when President Bush leaves the White House and the 'Black' Barack Obama gets inside the most talked about residence in the world.

Coming back to Satyam there have been rumours running from the CFO committing suicide to the Rajus leaving India and hiding in Dubai. Many eminent personalities from the IT industry have made absurd comments to score personal points over Satyam. The news channels have reported all sorts of rumours without examining the authenticity of the source.

Being in Bangalore knowing a people from Satyam, Wipro, Infosys or TCS is like knowing one of your cousins. The situation is not as bad as it is being played out to the people of India and the globe. True the fraud that has happened doesn't have any parallels in the Indian IT industry. But it will be heights of insanity to considers India's 4th largest IT giant to be finished.

Some of the reasons why Satyam is still a good company to invest on are:

  • IT is a knowledge oriented industry and thus Satyam's main assets are its employees and not its capital. And the employees have the same amount of grey matter inside their head that they had two weeks ago when Ramalinga Raju was a great IT leader.

  • With over 60 offshore bases and development centres spread across the country serving Satyam has a solid infrastructure.

  • Satyam in its account still has 185 of the Fortune 500 clients besides thousands of other clients both in the domestic and the international market.

  • Being the IT service providers to FIFA 2010 World Cup Satyam will have a great platform to portray the better face of its corporate image and shed some of the fears of the international investors.

  • Government of India has shown its intent to save the company by appointing new board of directors. In a worst case scenario the Government will most likely bail this company out of the financial crisis.

  • Malayasian Airlines giving a project to the company in this hour of crisis is testimony enough that corporates still feel Satyam is not finished.

  • In case of a merger or a takeover any buyer will get a complete company with employees, clients, development centres and offshore bases. To build an entity like Satyam will take years for any company irrespective of its capacity to pump in money.

  • Irresponsible comments by many IT big shots have charged up the Satyamites. Many of them are willing to take a pay cut and prove their competitor wrong. In this hour of crisis the management needed this solidarity among its employees.

True Satyam has gone through a tsunami in the last week but even its worst critics will have to acknowledge Satyam is down but not out.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Should our economy really be free?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Free market is one terms many people have lost love for. There was a time not too long ago when corporate leaders wanted the Government to have a hands off policy in all matters of business and economy. Today the same industry leaders look at North Block to rescue them out the financial crisis. The question that arises in this case is should we have a free economy without any regulators?

The ongoing financial crisis has hit the so called 'Free Economies' and hit them hard. Countries likes ours which are still under the clutches of red-tapism have been partially hit. It is not surprising that American banking system saw giants declare bankruptcy where as none of the Indian banks especially the nationalised once felt so much of tremors.

Information Technology is one sector which right since its beginning has seen very less of government interference. Being a by-product of the liberalisation phase it had very little bureaucratic intervention in its day to day affairs. Satyam Computer's forgery has shown that a totally free company with private auditors can be dangerous especially when its of the enormous size.

Do we need to forget the concept of a 'Free Economy' and get back to the days of 'License Raj'? The answer is a straight NO. Post liberalisation we have seen huge growth in almost all sectors. But again we need regulators who will monitor the functioning of our corporate houses. This will help us prevent incidents like Satyam. An interesting fact is all major financial scams have taken place in the post liberalisation era be it the Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh, Abdul Karim Telgi or the present one

A full capitalistic market can be dangerous for a country like ours where a third of our population lives below the poverty line and the middle class has no social security net over it. A remarkable achievement of the private sectors has been that it has created enormous amount of jobs which have gone to deserving candidates without paying any bribes. But again this sector cannot be left free to repeat a Satyam episode.

The regulators need not be bureaucrats but can be a force made out if private public partnership so that both sides are equally represented in the forum. We are a young economy which is showing tremendous growth potential. So we need to make sure that we do not repeat a Satyam like thing in the near future. Regulators and regulations are a must.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

IT leaders score personal points over Satyam

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

No sooner did the news of Satyam forgery come out in the media, rival corporate leaders were busy scoring personal points over Satyam. There could have been no better opportunity for some of the IT majors to settle scores with the tainted company. The Americans always call the Indian business houses immature and yesterday was a prime example of how true they are.

True what Ramalinga Raju and his partners in crime had done needs to be condemned in strict possible words. But abusing and branding the organization as untouchables was too much to say within hours of the revelation. It was really sad to see such harsh words coming out of the mouth of one of the IT pioneers in the country, a man who commands immense respect around the world. For the industry's sake they should have forgetting making business scores in the current situation.

Did these leaders even for once consider the moral of the employees in Satyam? Their immature remarks have shattered the moral of the employees working in Satyam completely. What are the signals they wanted to convey to the investors both in India and around the globe. This is not the behaviour expected from the leaders of IT giants who want to make India the hotspot if global IT industry.

For once all these individuals with so much of intellect should have understood that Satyam's loss won't be its alone. The image of the entire Indian IT industry is at stake. International clients will now have certain amount of apprehension in doing business with the Indian IT companies. Experts might term this as an isolated incident but a few people taking up guns can bring a bad name to the entire community. Likewise this sort of an incident can tarnish the image of the entire industry

What is required at this hour or crisis is a combined damage control by the entire IT industry. NACOM could have played a role in this by making sure such irresponsible remarks are not made by the IT leaders. There will be plenty of time to score personal points against Satyam in whatever form it will exist in the near future. The is the time for consolidation to save the image of the Indian IT industry rather than act with immaturity.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Raju leaves the Indian IT industry shocked

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Satyam Computer Chairman Ramalinga Raju's admission of forgery in the balance sheet of the IT giant has left the entire market shell shocked. Over the past few weeks Satyam had become the talk of the town with everybody speculating the future of one of India's IT pride. Everybody knew that the situation was tight but nobody right from the employees to the share holders would have imagined this from one of the IT entrepreneurs of the nation.

As if the financial meltdown was not enough we now have the fourth largest IT company in India in the midst of a forgery scandal by none other than its founder. Many of the employees and investors have been left wondering what lies in the future for Satyam. Raju has not only attempted suicide for his own organisation but also dented the image of the Indian IT sector.

The resignation of of the top board members was an indication of something fishy in the picture. Now the picture is becoming clear why the Raju family wanted to buy Maytas and move into the real estate sector. Matyas it may me mentioned has the Hyderabad metro rail project in its kitty. Surprisingly most other metro projects have gone to multiple companies while Maytas are the sole developers of the metro in Hyderabad.

The crisis has also ensured that any immediate takeover or merger is not on the cards owing to the forged valuation of the company. The situation is so bad that the share prices have come down to almost 22% of their last day closing value. The government has directed the case to Serious Fraud Investigation tribunal. Brokerage firms across the world are advising their clients to drop Satyam from their portfolio.

The question that arises now is were the Rajus the only ones involved in this forgery? If not will the investigations be able to uncover the other faces behind this? The recent financial turmoil in US and the world has raised question marks on a totally free market and capitalism. Should we have had some regulators checking not only the performance of a company's share but even the authenticity of its balance sheets from time to time.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Uranium Mining in Meghalaya

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Khasi Students Union (KSU) has asked the centre to scrap the plan to mine Uranium in Domiasiat village in Meghalaya. Their argument is that it will cause health hazards. The project run by Uranium Corporation of India Limited has been hanging on hold for the past decade and a half due to this agitation. Its ironical that when scientist and researchers have given a go ahead to the project a so called NGO with limited expertise in science and technology talks about the health hazard.

It is highly ironical that the same organisation has no objection to the coal mining going on around in Jaintia hills using dangerous traditional methods. The entire district is a huge disaster waiting to happen but the NGO has no objection to it. The reason is simple, small businessman make millions out of the coal mines where as uranium mining will be done by a government agency thus depriving the such people to make their quick millions.

Of course there are health hazards associated with mining a mineral like uranium but steps can be taken to prevent this. In this regard expertise of the scientific community seems to more acceptable than that of an NGO whose ranks can hardly boast of intellects. Uranium mining has been going on successfully in Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar and Banduhurang mines without the so called catastrophic health hazards. Displacement of people is an issue but it is a part of any developmental project.

Similar agitation in the 80s ensured that the Indian Railways never set foot in Meghalaya. In fact Meghalaya is the only state in the country without an inch of railway network. A development starved state cannot afford to reject a project of this potential. The project can be a power assurance certificate to the entire state. The project is of national importance and should be supported by the state with open arms.

Power fuels development and nuclear power is the technology for tomorrow. This particular project can lead to job creation in the state and bring a huge amount of central attention to Meghalaya. The power hungry North Eastern region can benefit from project of such a scale. Indirect developments would include better infrastructure in the state as Domiasiat will regularly be an object of global attention.

The people of Meghalaya have to be rational in their thought and foresee the potential of this project. They have to choose between narrow minded regional politics and development. If this project is stalled by such meaningless agitation the state will have no right to blame the centre for its underdevelopment. After all any noble soul should realise that the flow of resources and money cannot just be one way.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - A must watch

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Yesterday I caught up with one of my close friends. He took me to his house and insisted that I watch the movie Slumdog Millionaire on his laptop. I had heard lots of good reviews about the movie and it was a good alternative that hanging out in a shopping mall. Thanks to the n number of movie download sites and the unlimited broadband connections any movie in the world is just some megabytes of download away.

What sky-rocketed my interest was the enthusiasm in my friend's face. A choosy movie watcher he would not watch just every other movie in the world. The fact that he had watched the movie thrice was a strong enough testimony for the movie. He said me before the start of the movie “If someone watches this movie and says this is your India you have to accept it.”

The movie began with a good hook a teenager being beaten up by a policeman. How could a young man from a slum win Rs 1 Crore? How could he have all the answers which the so called intellect in the society did not have? What was the secret behind his confidence and where on earth did he learn all the answers without any formal education?

Danny Boyle in some way showed certain hard but true facts about India which no other director before him had done whatever may be the reasons. The story centered around Dharavi one of the largest slums in the world. It is highly surprising that hundreds of Bollywood directors who would have passed it thousands of times in their lives never got an idea to make a movie on Dharavi

The movie had every element that form the bulk of the news items we read everyday. From the dream to escape poverty to the fight in the name of religion. Girls being forced to prostitution to children being blinded to to beg on the streets. An over expressive media to a disillusioned bunch of call centre executives, Slumdog Millionaire portrayed the dark side of India in a very convincing manner.

On the technical aspect of the movie, one word can describe it 'brilliant'. The cinematography was excellent showing the slums like no other Bollywood movie had done before. The real game was however played at the editing table with the juxtapositioning of the shots. It was a movie edited with a documentary's precision, The editor Chris Dickens might have done the editing of his life.

In the end my friend just asked “If this is not a movie what is?” Being argumentative in nature I don't nod my head very often but this time I did it not reluctantly but as a gesture of agreement. Secondly I agreed to the statement he had made before the start of the movie. The only thing I can say to the director Danny Boyle is 'thanks a lot' for your masterpiece.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Trinamool Congress continues with its insanity

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If insanity is a word in Indian politics Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress has to be its greatest example. As if chasing away the Tata Nano project from West Bengal was not enough TMC has jumped in to champion the cause of the Auto rickshaw drives in the state. TMC has mastered the art of instigating violence in the state. They have turned into a visionless party whose only reason for existence seems to be disruption of developmental activities in the state.

The Calcutta High Court had issued an order July last year to ban commercial vehicles registered before Jan 1, 1993, from Kolkata and its outskirts. The court directed that all auto-rickshaws, irrespective of their date of registration, will have to convert LPG or CNG. This was in order to check the pollution levels in the city which has reached an alarming level. Is the State Government's initiative to check the pollution levels in the state some form of a demonic act?

Logically any public vehicle which has plied on the road for 15 years has earned it worth and needs to be replaced or altered with. Similar steps have been taken in major cities of the country like Delhi and have substantially brought the pollution levels down. What is that Mamata Banerjee and her party men opposing? Is it the clean air that the children should have the right to breathe? Or is it the step forward to bring Kolkata and West Bengal at par with other developed states in the country.

The only terms in Mamata's dictionary seems to be strikes, protests and blockades. Has she ever thought how much her insane acts hurt the state as well as the entire region. How many level headed souls would have thought of chasing away the Tatas form a industry starved state. What is it that she wants West Bengal to be? Why is it that she does not take on the government in the State Assembly and rather prefers taking them on the streets. The answer is simple good arguments need understanding of issues and a little bit of grey matter.

Any developmental project will hurt some section of the people. You cannot breathe fresh air when you have old vehicles smoking the road. The people of West Bengal at large and Kolkata in particular have to decide do they want to support such insane acts. The choice is between development and insanity and choosing the right way should not be difficult way for a balanced individual.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Lets accepts we live in a hostile neighbourhood

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

What a start it has been to a new year. On the very first day three blasts rocked Guwahati killing 6 and injuring more than 50 people. This has again raised serious questions on the government, the intelligence agencies and security forces. More importantly time and again we have turned a blind eye to the fact that we are surrounded by hostile countries on all sides.

Pakistan since its inception has had only one foreign policy to destroy India. China although not directly involved has been a constant arms supplier to militancy in North East as well as Jammu and Kashmir. Bangladesh is known to provide shelter to the leaders of banned terror outfits in the NE and help them in running camps all along the border.

Can in this situation we think of having bilateral relationships with such countries. 'People to people' is always thought to be a stand out statement to improve relationships with these hostile countries. But question arises can the foreign policies of successive governments in these countries be totally isolated to the feeling of the common masses? If no then we better stop trying to establish 'people to people' contact.

A small country like Israel has been able to survive in a hostile environment because it has insulated itself from its hostile neighbours. In the present environment where our neighbouring countries are nurturing terror outfits we need to insulate our borders. It is far better to remain isolated from our neighbours than to have Indians slaughtered in the streets on a day to day basis.

Coming back to the blasts in Guwahati the people off Assam have to make a tough call now. Some people for long have lend deaf year to the brutalities of the banned outfit ULFA. The choice is between sympathising with a terror group like ULFA or endorsing peace. ULFA no longer fights for the cause of Assam it rather takes orders from the HUJI and the ISI.

The government with the cooperation of the people of this country finally needs to take some hard steps. It is time to talk hard and take hard steps. The supporters of terror should be dealt with firmly. We need a leader who shows a firm resolve to tackle terror rather than beg for peace from our hostile neighbourhood.


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