Monday, December 3, 2012

When the saints go marching..

If you happen to be in Chennai and come December you will see a huge multitude of people adorning black/ blue/ orange dhotis with sandal and Kumkum smeared on their foreheads and a beaded necklace gracing their necks. These are the devotees who have vowed to visit the Sabarimala temple and are in their preparation/ vrath for the same.

Every time I come across these people, the one month of transformation I see in them is just amazing. These are devotees who are from all walks of life and who are hence are no different from an average crowd when it comes to attitude/ behavior/ yielding to temptations. However, during this one month of preparation time, a vast majority of them put enormous efforts in staying good and maintain a very high level of personal hygiene. They bathe twice a day, pray at least twice a day, visit temples, stay clean, don’t use filthy language, avoid visits to TASMAC (Govt's liquor marketing agency in Tamilnadu) and try and speak the truth at all times. I have never been to Sabiramala.. But yet whenever I see these devotees, I am just very happy about the power of religion and faith and its transformational powers on its followers.

Winter (namely December - before my friends chide me that there is no winter in Chennai) is the best time to enjoy Chennai. The pleasant climate, the general perceived purity in the atmosphere (sabarimala season, marghazi  bhajans, religious discourses), the carnatic music festival (and the sumptuous sabha lunches) and the festive spirit that lingers on in the anticipation of Pongal and Thai masam, makes Chennai truly unique during this period. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Can a lifetime of goodwork exempt one from an error of judgement made in a moment of weakness?

This sure is going to be a controversial post.

A New York court sentenced Mr. Rajat Gupta, former director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., to two years in prison for leaking corporate secrets to Wall Street. The sentence comes months after Mr. Gupta was found guilty of passing confidential information about the bank to the hedge fund of Raj Rajaratnam, a friend and business associate.

Two disclaimers before I come to heart of the issue.

a. No denying the fact that Mr. RG's achievements were indeed one of the finest
b. This post is with all due respects to RG and his admirers. I don't intend hurting anyone's sentiments.

This post is however trying to address a larger issue. Can a lifetime of good work exempt one from an error of judgement made in a moment of weakness? I would put forth the five questions which are bothering me..

1. In someways and form isn't every crime an error of judgement made in a moment of weakness?

2. Aren't people who have done a lifetime of good work supposed to be more evolved and mature? In which case won't their level of judgement be naturally more evolved and well placed?

3. Speaking of "Moment of weakness", aren't these evolved folks prone to less "Moments of weakness" than an ordinary Joe on the street for whom a "moment of weakness" may mean choosing between life and death.

4. Next, assuming that it was indeed an "error of judgement" in a "moment of weakness", Shouldn't one come clean at least when one was caught? However, Mr. RG's reaction was "I am stunned and shocked by the proposed action.  Let me assure you, I have done nothing wrong.  The SEC's allegations are totally baseless" (based on a communication dated March 2011)

5. Summarizing my case, being less prone to "moments of weakness", being better placed in one's  "judgement" and having denied the whole issue as baseless, does one indeed deserve leniency?

Views, answers, comments and criticisms are welcome. However be considerate that you are dealing with an individual (yours humbly) whose view of the world in issues like these is largely binary.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The early start

In my walk this morning as I was walking down a flyover, I saw another person jogging up the flyover coming in the opposite direction. The person was quite obese and was huffing and puffing his way up the flyover. And there I was, just strolling down the flyover.

This post is not for propagating for or against jogging or walking or for comparing my fitness versus the other person. Nevertheless a few random thoughts occurred to me:

1. It’s easy to walk rather than jog and it’s easy to go down the flyover rather than going up.
2. Had the other person walked early on in life, he would probably not be forced to jog now.
3. Attending to early warning signals in life, in whatever sphere, is far better than fire fighting at a later stage.
4. In the same breath, when it comes to health prevention is better than cure.
5. If we indeed to adhere to early warning signals in our life well in time and change our diet/ lifestyle for the better, we wouldn't be painfully forced to do it at a later point (which more often than not could turn out futile).

I certainly meant no offence to the person who was jogging up today. In fact, it’s good that he has at least started now - Better late than never. However in life starting early, driving slowly and reaching safely could prove far more useful.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The art of begging

The world of mentally-challenged individuals is complicated. It is impossible for an outsider to understand what is the mind of such a person going through? Of what torments and travails he is put through. Is he in any physical pain? Does he know that he is in physical pain? When was the last time he ate? Does he know he is hungry? Does he know that if he eats food, his hunger would go away? ... and to top it all, does he know how to get food?

It was only over this weekend did i realize that most mentally-challenged individuals do not know the Art of begging. These are individuals who have lost their ways in life, abandoned by their families and are thrown into the realities of a harsh world. Most of these individuals do not know how to even beg. The result - Their life is a total mess. Not cared by anyone, not loved and are allowed to suffer painfully, as death slowly sinks its teeth in their lives. Most of us just walk past them if we ever encounter them on the streets, with probably an accelerated pace.

One man chose to be different. He is Mr. Rafi. Whenever he sees a mentally ill person walking on the streets, he gets them food and takes them to his centre - Anbagam. He provides them an environment of safety and comfort. Gives them psychiatric treatment and slowly helps them recover. Not just that, with the help of social workers he jots down every single thing which these mentally challenged individuals say (however incoherent it may be), tries to make meaning out of it and ultimately try and reunite them with their families.

He has been doing that for years now and has so far successfully reunited over 600 such individuals with their families. His centre presently accommodates about 120 individuals (100 males and 20 females). He was constrained by space to accommodate more females. You may well be able to appreciate that the challenges for a mentally ill women in our society (especially if they are young and abandoned) is exponential to that of a male. Hence the need to accommodate more of them cannot be over-emphasized.

Happy that our trust, Samarpan (formed by like minded friends and colleagues), got an opportunity to build a separate wing for the ladies and we successfully inaugurated it yesterday. 20 such women will have a roof over their heads when they sleep today.

Rafi's of the world are precious. They are blessed individuals who have taken upon such a mission on to themselves. I am not sure if most us have the framework to live even one day of Rafi's life. So be it. However, could we support a few of these inspirations?

Here is a scene at Anbagam..

Also pasting below the link to an article which recently appeared on this subject

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do you know what is 1 + 5?

This link appeared in Economic Times' website's homepage today

The poll question per-se, I am sure is not a surprise to anyone, as it is a question that keeps popping up in our country every now and then. However I was more drawn towards the simple mathematical question that appears at the bottom of the link. That is, only if you are able to answer what is 1+5, you are eligible to cast your vote for this electronic poll. This I understand is for apparently ensuring that the vote is actually cast by individuals and not by some automated programs.

However, what made me introspect a bit more is that, for casting one's vote in the actual polls of our country we do not have any such basic criteria. To be an Indian is the one and only eligibility norm. It doesn’t matter if one can read/ write or if one has behaved responsibly as a citizen or if one understands the power of his vote. In short, it doesn’t discriminate any citizen against any parameter.

While this is one of the great joys of democracy, it certainly has taken our country for a ride over the last several decades. A vast majority of our population continues to be driven by "election gifts", "familiarity" or "share-of-pie" approach to casting votes rather than relying on the candidate's capabilities/ fundamentals while exercising such an important decision.

This is definitely not to say that we do not have other shortcomings in our electoral/ democratic system. However, this particular concept of Equal voting rights for all has had one of the deepest negative impacts in our country. Given this scenario, will the concept of Differential Voting actually work better in a country like ours?

Consider the situation where votes are no longer equal in weight. Every citizen gets one vote as a right. However depending on the Citizen’s Age, Educational qualification, Awareness/ status in life, criminal record, tax payment track record etc..., his vote could actually get more weightage. The maximum weightage can be capped at lets say 5/ citizen and the exact number (between 1 and 5) is determined by a combination of the factors I had detailed above.

What this will help us achieve is that:

  • Given the incentives at play, education and being a responsible citizen would be accorded greater priority and this will help us as a country to accelerate in achieving these goals
  • Election results will no longer be determined by one’s ability to move masses but by his ability to make sense and perform. The political scenario could hence get cleaned up a bit as newer and more responsible politicians may enter the fray
 I know some of these parameters are quite subjective and may hence be difficult to implement. But does that outweigh its benefits?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A world without worries or expectations

If I was living in a world where I had no worries or expectations (of my own and others'), what would have been my career choices? I know it is a bizarre question, given its hypothetical nature…

However, the question did occur to me and here are four things that popped in my mind… 

The Goods Train Guard

I have always been a great admirer of the Indian goods train. It is a world in itself. I would have loved to serve as a guard in one of these amiable snails. It would certainly be a great joy to stand in the guard station at the very end of this train and watch the long set of compartments ahead gently discipline themselves and fall in line, as they dance to the tunes of a winding track. The train’s purposeless pace, the patience it savours in letting pass every passenger train it encounters and its ability to gently be a part of the myriad Indian villages without really touching any of them are great joys, I believe. Sitting on the guard’s seat while sipping coffee and slowly absorbing everything that passes by, waving flags to the world and taking things at their own pace, certainly appeals to me as a great career choice…

The Village Primary School Teacher

Every word in this job description is important. The school must be in a village (preferably as non-descript as possible), the class needs to be at a primary level and if I am the only one teacher in the school (as defined by “THE”), my idea of another perfect career choice could just be under way. The idea of serving at the grass root level of our country and shape thoughts and lives at that level truly appeals to me a lot. Well you may ask why “Primary” and why a “Village” only. That’s because I just would like to take life a little easy… idealism combined with a easy-chair attitude may not be a perfect recipe, but I will like it…

The Musician Performer

The perfect setting would be while performing in an event where I am not at the centre stage. Say, like performing in a live-concert at a party/ marriage. While I would certainly like to give a great performance, I would like to give the audience a choice of either being in their own world or be a part of mine or give them an option to just switch between the worlds. And a true musician (like the one I aspire to be), I believe,  wouldn’t care a damn what choice the individuals ultimately make. Because I would like to view each of these performances as another opportunity to live in my own world… rather than as a chance to please others and allow them in to mine…

A Student for Life

I will most happily embrace a chance to be a student for a life. However I wouldn’t like to be distracted with grades, exams, specializations, streams etc.. Would just like to go learn things which interest me, things that remain a mystery to me and things that I enjoy doing. The learning itself could be in any stream and I would not like it constrained either by the boundaries of academic learning or by worrying about their marketability… Just pure learning for the sake of learning..

Well.. the dreams could continue. But here is my present world knocking at my door and asking me to hastily return to its realities. And I humbly submit myself to her… as I am acutely aware that its after all my choice..

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The iPad conundrum

The other day my 15 year niece and nephew (8 year old) were playing with my iPad. And my niece quipped to my nephew, "You must be lucky. I never had anything like this while I was like you".

And i thought, at least 4 generations in my family can get away with a statement like that. The exposure my son receives at 2.5 yrs is way beyond what I received even at thrice his age. The facilities,the gadgets and a whole host of other things that I enjoy now are way beyond what my father had and enjoyed at this age. The same holds true when I compare my father and grand mother.

All this sounds really progressive and great at one level. However at the other end, I feel, life was a lot less complicated in the earlier generations. A lot more simple, a lot more contented and enjoyable. People were happy waiting for a phone connection for 10 years and perfectly fine waiting 15 years for becoming a proud owner of a Bajaj scooter. Sticking to one employer for a lifetime and settling for a 2 BHK at the end of it was probably the norm and not an aberration.

Its not entirely about settling for a lesser quality of life, I think it has a lot more to do with carrying a better attitude. So, the moot question is, are we really progressing? I guess, like may things in life, the answer is neither simple nor universal. It is probably uniquely tied with ones attitude and approach to life itself.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sending the right massage

This result was published in today's Business Line. Forget about company's performance or the lack of it, I was appalled by their gross negligence for attention to detail.

Some of the most important numbers (Incl profits) are not part of these published results and have a "#REF!" tag. This is a classic Microsoft Excel error when the formula is wrong or is not referenceable.

The point is how can a listed company not take this basic precaution before publishing their results in a national daily? If indeed this reflects their attitude/ capability, then why should any investor trust their hard earned money with this firm?

Dear Kerala Ayurveda, please get your massage right... (I hope you spotted what damage a misplaced alphabet is capable of creating..)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The year of change

I got a message from Linkedin last week that "250 of my contacts changed jobs within the last one year". That's a whopping 25% of my contacts.

I am well aware that the year of 2010 is definitely not representative. The two years preceding 2010 were literally wash-out years, especially for finance professional who form bulk of my contacts at Linkedin. Many people were waiting by the sidelines, patiently biding their times, and waiting for the tide to turn favourable.

Even if we take these factors into consideration and discount the above figure by say 30%, the attrition rate still is at around 18%, which is definitely not something which is normal. I don't need to explain here that "Attrition" is a very costly affair for the employers. With increasing employment choices for the people and the fight amongst the employers for the right talent, the problem is only getting worser for the employers.

Isn't it time to redesign our strategies towards talent management?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The joy of giving..

Of late, I have been taking along a few old clothes in my car. The intention is to give it to someone who is in dire need of it. I come across these people at signals, roadside pavements and many other public places. I have so far been able to give away 2 shirts (over 3 encounters) during the past 10 days or so.

The first one was to a person who was lying on a pedestrian pavement on a busy flyover. I parked my car a few paces ahead, walked back and then handed over a shirt to this guy. This person looked at me, accepted the shirt and then swiftly went back to his world. No words were exchanged..

The second encounter happened when I was at a petrol bunk. There was this poor man, along with his wife. Tattered clothes, hungry eyes and a weak frame. A few people who were walking past, took notice of the couple. A small proportion of this crowd shed their pocket change.. I went to the couple and gave a shirt to the old man. The wife looked more pleased than the husband and folded her hands in gratitude. The husband's eyes acknowledged the act with thanks. No words were exchanged..

The last one was on a hot sunny day. This man was walking on a corner of a road. All he had was a really tattered cloth clad around his waist. His last bath must have been at least a few months ago. He was taking out rice from a dirty plastic cover he had in his hand and was eating. I dreaded to think where must he have picked it up. I ventured out and gave him a shirt, pretty confident that he must be pleased to receive it. But alas, he saw me eye to eye, shook his head and move away. No words were exchanged..

All the three experiences were unique. The first man took the shirt, because someone gave it to him. The woman in the second encounter was in as much need as her husband and did not get anything from me, yet was overjoyed because her husband got something. And finally a man, who had nothing with him, but yet walked away from accepting something which was a basic need.

One thing was common though.. The joy with which you walk away.....

Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

Today I went for the Annual Sports Meet of my school. I studied in this school (Vivekananda Vidyalaya) till my 10th Class and passed out in 1995. Exactly 15 years back.. Time does fly..

While at some level I felt that the whole world has changed, another thought which crossed my mind was that nothing has really changed over these years. I saw some of my teachers. They were just the same, but for what time has done to their physical frames. A little grey hair, that additional ponch and a bespectacled face was all that had changed. But their calm intellect, their intelligent face, their inexhaustible patience and the glint in their eyes, when a old student like me walked up and spoke to them, was just the same.

The students were the same too. That little irreverence to the teachers, the know all attitude, the lazy stroll which they call as "March Past" and the joy in their eyes when they spend a day out with their friends, was just the same.

Probably the world actually never changes. What really changes is our own views, perceptions, attitudes and beliefs. It is this change that makes us see the world differently, each time. It is this change that makes us love what we had hated before and hate what we had loved before. Why is this truth, so difficult to realize?...

My thoughts were distracted, when someone walked near me and asked "Are you Rangarajan?"... That was my classmate in 5th standard. She had completely changed and I found it difficult to recollect her name.

She volunteerd "Jayashree"...

"Of course", I said, with a sheepish smile..

"Nothing has changed in you Ranga.. You are exactly the same, as I remember you from our fifth class".. said Jayashree..

" I am not sure, if I should take this as a compliment"..

"Of course, its a huge compliment. How many of us manage to stay the same?".. said she..

I felt good. What a good way to end the year.

Good bye 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nature's Response

A beautiful sunrise in Vizag, a picture I clicked during my recent visit to the port town.

While everything about the beach and the sunrise was so beautiful, I wouldn't say the same about everything around the beach. The dirt, the plastic covers, the Pepsi cans and ice-cream wrappers were spoiling the show.

That's when I came near this rocky spot on the beach and thought to myself that perhaps Nature is showing its middle finger to all of us, for all that we do to her...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tupperware Tales

It was just past lunchtime at office and I had just finished my fill then. As I was tickling my laptop to life, from the brief slumber it might have enjoyed when I was away, I heard a voice from behind.

"Sir... Sir". I craned my neck behind to see a lady, about 40-45 yrs, standing behind the receptionist's desk. Since the receptionist had gone away for lunch, this lady was trying to attract my attention.

The lady, obviously didn't belong to our office. Her attire, poise and probably even the face, did not belong to our pseudo-sophisticated investment banking world.

I quickly took the role of the receptionist and asked what she wanted. She gave me her card and said that she is a distributor of Tupperware products and quickly reeled out her prepared script on how Tupperware is the best thing to have happened to mankind. I took her card and said if someone is interested, I will direct them to her.

I have seen many people react wildly when they get a unsolicited call or if they happen to meet someone like this lady. I will never belong to this camp. I never slam the phone down on calls from credit call agencies, from loan sprayers or from Mahindra Holidays. I never shut the door to eager salesmen who land up at your home on a hot Sunday and disturb your afternoon nap.

Who am I to shout at them? At best my right ends with refusing to accpet their offer. Have I myself not benefitted from kind souls, who had no obligation to hear me but chose to? What do I lose if I respect them as humans?

Next time when one of those hungry salesmen come to your house on a sunny day, offer them water. Their smile will take you a long way..

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Misguided Positioning

"Murali Medicals A/C" screamed a banner in front of my eyes. This set me into a trail of thoughts.. Ok another medical shop has come around in the neighborhood. That's ok, there seems to be a place for many more given the number of people I see queuing up in the doctor's clinics. What though puzzled me was the suffix they had added in the banner - "A/C".

I don't remember spending more than two minutes in a medical shop ever. There is a prescription, the guy behind the table is normally well aware of the positions of these medicines and he gathers them deftly. A bill is presented in the end and I walk back with my picks. The only reason I may end up spending more time is either when the shop is crowded or if the guy behind the table is incompetent. (I am assuming that the medical shop guy has mastered the art of deciphering the doctor's handwriting, which usually is a superhuman quality in itself). In both these cases, I am frustrated. Speaking for myself, in both these cases, whether there is a A/C or not, my frustration is not going to reduce.

Given this scenario, whats the use of having an advertisement which tries to build out a differentiation argument, based on a metric which is irrelevant. I understand that an A/C can keep the owner comfortable. Period. However, to try and build an argument of differentiation around it, is non-sensical.

Murali Medicals, is not alone in this madness. I see it all around. Misguided differentiation is actually omnipresent. I see hotels advertising that they are specialists in Tandoori and Chinese, I see airlines positioning themselves as low cost and full service, I see products/ services trying to achieve a position of being cheap and best. In my business school days, I have seen some of my classmates trying desperately to bring out their differentiation by including thoroughly non-sensical information in their CVs.

All these instances are sure-shot recipes of disaster. Firstly, identify and understand things that matter; Build competencies on these relevant metrics and then go ahead and confidently cement your positioning. Rise and shine.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Teachers required

Can it ever get more ridiculuous? This is an actual advertisement published in a local daily seeking candidates to apply for the post of a teacher.

Since the picture is a little blurred, I am pasting the actual text of the ad below:

Required unmarried good looking - below 30 years - Brahmin girls, PG teachers for Physics, English, Tamil and for administration for a reputed school @ chennai. Good salary for the right candidate

Apply with full details with photo to

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sir.. are you using a 3G enabled mobile?

Sir.. are you using a 3G enabled mobile?

I said "No".. hiding my surprise at this sudden question and shifting uneasily in my seat.

Why do you ask?

"No sir..My 3G mobile is unable to receive 3G signals while I move around the city. The reception is good only in certain parts of the city. I am hence unable to make video calls"

"There should be some problems with your phone settings. Once you correct it, you should be able to receive 3G singals, if your phone is indeed 3G enabled".. quipped I, slowly feeling the confidence levels rising in myself.

"Sir.. I have checked all the settings, including GPRS packet settings, 3G network settings and Access Point etc.. But somehow it is not working. I even took my handset to the BSNL service centre and they are unable to resolve the issue. Let me anyways go back and read the user manual once again and see if I had missed anything"

"Do that.. by the way what phone do you have?"

"Sir.. I have a Sony Ericcson set. Costed me Rs. 19000. I did not want to buy a Nokia. everyone has a phone sir. There should be some difference between my phone and the usual stuff. Sony Ericsson is class sir. If i go out for some function, people have a seperate respect when i pull out my phone sir. I am very happy with this phone"

"Excellent.. Pls stop here my destination has arrived", Said I and handed him a Rs. 100 note.

"Sir.. petrol prices have increased drastically. Give me atleast 5 rupees extra sir.."

I handed an additional Rs. 10 to the Auto rickshaw driver and walked away with sea of thoughts rushing into my head. India shining? Telecom revolution in India? Impact of inflation on common man? Business opportunity at the bottom of pyramid? Meaning of financial planning at different stratas of the society?....... My trail of thoughts were disturbed by a sudden phone call I received.

"Yes sir, I am on my way. Will be there in your office in another 2 minutes"... I ended the call and put my Rs. 6900 Samsung Corby phone in my pocket, which I had bought the previuos day, after a lot of research..

Monday, February 22, 2010

The great lemon rush

Three major "home-made" lemon drinks have hit the market in recent past. Pepsi's Nimbooz, Coke's Minute Maid Nimbu Pani and Parle Agro's LMN are sweating it out for Numero Uno. A host of reports and marketing blogs tell me that lemon drinks clock the highest growth rate in the non-cola segment. Some analyst reports peg annual Nimbu Pani sales at a whopping 45 million cases (of 5.6 litres each)!!

The battle for nimbu pani is on and the manufacturers with their creative advertising, aggressive marketing and competitive pricing are leaving no stone unturned... Its easy to see why. Nimbu is available in plenty in India, Nimbu Pani is probably one of the easiest to make, has a naturally long life and ofcourse a huge profit margin.

Whats interesting is that, we Indians have been having nimbu pani for a few centuries now. We always knew its natural health benefits and pocket friendly attitude. And yet I am not sure why this segment never took off till now. Pepsi's Troicana has a 100 different flavours (well not exactly... but you get the point right??) on its menu and even boasts of a few which are strictly for the adventures types only (white grape kiwi, pomegranate blueberry!!!). Coke has Maaza and Minute Maid Pulpy Orange to its share. Frooti, Appy, Appy Fizz decorate Parle Agro's showcase and Dabur always had Real Fruit Juice to its credit. Yet it is unfortunate that none of these guys took the poor lemon seriously. No wonder people are always scared of "bad lemons"..

But the little yellow rascal is back with a vengence and is not going to look back again. The uncrowned king of India has now finally taken a lead which is clearly ahead of what many of his kins can hope to achieve in the next decade.

Question to ponder - An opportunity as big and as profitable as this, always existed right in front of our eyes. Yet, it took a Nimbooz to shake the market from its slumber and wake up to this opportunity. Can we spot the next Lemon at least?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ranking Magic

ISB is ahead of Said, Kellogg, Yale and several others in the Financial Times' Global Business School Rankings 2010. ISB has moved up from 20th rank in 2008 to 15th in 2009 and 12th in 2010.

No mean achievement for sure and I am proud of this achievement by my alma mater. It is for sure going to swing the masses in ISB's favour in the coming years. Nevertheless, do rankings really matter? What is the sanctity of these rankings? And now the bigger question of does ISB really deserve a 12th rank? Globally? Well, I am sure many of friends are going to hate me for even pondering over this question. But the doubting Thomas that I am, made me go through the fine text in the ranking.. Some of the things which I did not understand or things that had a bulb glowing over my head were..

1. Its strange that ISB does not have an Audit Year mentioned in the ranking. FT's website defines "Audit Year" as the year in which KPMG obtained evidence applying specified audit precedures relating to selected survey data. Does having the "Audit Year" as "Nil" mean that an audit was never conducted in ISB? Incidentally only 3 out of the top 100 schools have this problem of not having an Audit Year.

2. The weighted average salary for the 2006 Alums today is US$ 141,291 which is approximately Rs. 66 lakhs. Well, it does sound huge, but what does it really include? Is it comparable with the figures quoted for other B-Schools? I remember, ISB's average salary figure for my batch (2008) and the 2-3 years prior to that were in the range of Rs. 15-19 lakhs. Assuming that the batch of 2006 had an average salary of Rs. 17 lakhs at the time of passout, their salaries must have grown at a CAGR of 40% over the last four years to reach this magical figure of Rs. 66 lakhs. Hmmmm... Did we have the worst financial crisis in this period??

3. Another interesting number.. The salary percentage increase is quoted as 166%. This is defined as the percentage increase in average alumni salary from before the MBA to today as a percentage of the pre-MBA salary. Let us back calculate. A 166% increase would mean that the average pre-MBA salary of the 2006 alumni would be about Rs. 40 lakhs (assuming that their present salary is Rs. 66 lakhs). At least 95% of ISB applicants are Indians. Doesn't a Rs. 40 lakh pre-MBA salary for an undergrad, ring a bell in your head?

I rest my case your honour.. This post is definitely not to demean ISB or its worth. I had the best of my times at ISB and have a really high regard for the school. But I do not understand this ranking business.

Sincere advice to the few who still do read my blogs.. Don't be swayed by external rankings. Do your own research and be convinced.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An idiot and a Messiah

I do not usually venture into writing movie reviews, but two movies which I had watched recently have inspired or rather compelled me to write something about them.

3 Idiots was the first one. A simple story line, an average plot, no major twists and turns and a predictable climax. A recipe for a box office disaster, you would think. But the movie was a treat to watch. It touches a chord not just in your heart, but in your brain too :-) You come out of the movie hall feeling happy and cheerful. And be rest assured that the producers are laughing their way to the bank as well.

The second movie I watched was "Aayirathil Oruvan (One in a thousand)". For the uninitiated, this was one of the most awaited Tamil movies in the recent times. People who fell in love with Karthi Sivakumar, were eagerly awaiting his second flick after his successful debut in Paruthiveeran. As rediff puts it.. the movie was supposed to have it all - War, love, betrayal, ancient history, a forgotten kingdom, magical powers and a ruined city. A perfect recipe for a smash hit at the box office....

And what a disaster it turned out to be.. The movie had nothing but great visuals which were hopelessly tied together with a razor thin plot, confused actors, disgusting violence, crass and lewd dialogues and to top it all a director who probably did not know how to end this mish-mass masala at the end of 3 hours that he just ended up choosing the easy exit by saying, ".... the journey continues." Three years of efforts and Rs. 32 crores down the drain. Interesting that director's production company is aptly named "White Elephants". If you have not yet watched the movie, take my advice and give the money you intended to spend on the movie, to charity. You will feel better.

Can these big budget actors and directors of the South take a leaf from 3 Idiots and make movies which are fun to watch and not come out with something where you will need to visit your doc/ psychiatrist immediately after the movie?

Monday, December 7, 2009

The urban spirit!!

A blogpost after a long time.. And what brings me to table now? A relatively mundane issue - City bus travel.

To travel in a city bus in a metro in peak hours is not for the weak hearted. It requires tremendous guts, will power and an indefatigable attitude. Most buses in the popular routes carry passengers at least 2-3 times their originally intended capacities. With a sizeable proportion of passengers travelling on foot-board, One side of the bus leans towards the ground and keeps you guessing, what makes this marvel defy gravity? A few really aged buses in MTC's fleet make it through this dairy chore of ferrying passengers, purely by god's grace. ... And yet these buses (in Chennai) transport over 45 lakh passengers per day, making over Rs. 2 crores collections per day. A truly commendable feat.

Well.. this post is not to douse you all with my woes against the MTC transport. Through my many travels in these buses, I have observed two things which create inconvenience to other passengers and/ or more accidents.

1. Voluntary foot-board travel by many aspiring youths, probably in a bid to showcase their adventurous spirit and woo eligible partners
2. Left side overtaking

My hypothesis is that both these problems can relatively easily be solved if the MTC officials make a small change in the seating arrangement. For historical reasons, the fairer sex takes the left side seats in the MTC buses. If they are instead made to take the right side seats, the following welcome changes can happen:

1. Dis-incentive to voluntarily travel on foot-board due to absence of the right audience/ platform
2. Reckless left hand overtaking for similar reasons described above would stop, as people would be incentiviced to now overtake from the right hand side..

Anybody listening?