Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Can leadership be taught...?


Leadership is taking people from point a to point b using various mechanisms.
I think these mechanisms be assimilated in a disciplined fashion thru training and the conscious effort to decode and re-code.

What differentiates born leaders from 'made' leaders is that the latter have to consciously inculcate what the former thinks/says/does 'naturally'. Thus, just a less talented cricketer can overcome his talent limitations, so can a less talented leader overcome his leadership limitations.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who's to blame...?

They all contributed to the financial crisis - Wall St, Government, Regulators, and consumers on Main St.

Why did the Government promote home ownership as being so integral to the American dream (Fannie and Freddie being instruments of making it happen...) ? Didn't that cause hordes of citizens to aspire to buying and living in a home (that they couldn't afford at times)? And, of course, campaign contributions that may have forced them to turn a blind eye to potential laws that could have averted it.

Clearly, the regulators were too busy watching porn or being in bed with Wall St's army of banks and law firms to actually do their jobs and play watchdog. Incentive misalignment and all that - sure, but what about their sense of duty?

And, who asked Joe Blow on Main St to buy a home they could not afford? And, of course, get neck deep into debt just because Citibank or Capital One was giving them a credit card? It's simple mathematics - if you spend more than you earn, you will be in trouble. I guess they forgot the lessons their parents taught them.

Last, but not the least, Wall St - who plundered away billions of dollars (and millions of jobs, lives, blah blah) with complex financial instruments, manipulations and outright lying. Their defense is 'We were just responding to what we were incentivized to do'. Cute, but clearly at some point, they lost their sense of right and wrong. Probably, they never had that sense to begin with, right Mr. Gekko?

While everyone has had a role to play, among the lot, Wall St is the one that's getting the most of the rough end of the stick - at least as far as commentary goes. 'I hate Wall St' has become a very popular movement.

Unfair, says Wall St. But, I say its OK. It's this category that's the most mismatched in terms of role played and adverse material impact, i.e. they have had the least to lose for the influence they had on the crisis. Stated otherwise, the other parties played an equal role in causing the crisis, but are having to bear a bigger brunt in material terms (Ok, maybe not the Govt. per se).

While the above argument could be counter argued, all said and done - for once, its ok if Wall St happens to be the fall guy. After all, they make the most money for the least value added to society. So, screw 'em!!!

(That being said, Wall St has only had to face criticism - almost none of the honchos who precipitated the crisis have had to deal with any significant punishment. Bottomline - the common man has gotten screwed and perhaps will continue to get screwed.)


In my mind, the most pressing issue facing humanity today is intolerance.
For centuries, there have been several characteristics, such as religion, color, caste, sexual orientation, nationality and race that have differentiated people. Heeding to their survival instincts, people of similar affiliations have clung together. Though this has helped to bring together and unite similar peoples, this has also served to deepen the chasm between different segments of society.

People have become more comfortable with individuals of their own color, religious affiliation or nationality and consequently, less tolerant of people who are ‘different’. Tribal clashes in Africa, the Arab-Israel conflict and the Cincinnati riots of 2001 bear testimony to the rise of intolerance. Intolerance results in negative emotions, thoughts and actions, which ultimately work to the detriment of society.

Intolerance breeds suppressed animosity towards people in the community and at the workplace. This has the effect of decreasing workplace productivity and generating an environment of apprehension in society, which in turn affects the peace of mind and quality of life of individuals.

Intolerance results in potential propagation of hate towards other peoples. Energies begin to be channeled towards activities that are destructive in nature. Such acts of violence that hamper people’s everyday lives and result in property and material losses have a huge impact on the economy of a nation.

Intolerance fosters further intolerance from target groups. When the majority begins to show poor tolerance levels towards the minority, the minority group retaliates with a similar measure of intolerance. Thus, society gets into a vicious cycle of negative emotions and drain of energy that can be constructively used for the progress of mankind.

Intolerance prevents us from looking at the big picture. It prevents us from thinking about the millions of underprivileged citizens of the world who have do not have access to two square meals a day, sufficient clothing and basic amenities such as drinking water and electricity. It dissuades us from harnessing the collective energy of men and women to work on initiatives to improve the quality of life of fellow human beings, a key facet of human existence.

Class struggle and consequently any struggle between peoples of different segments is inevitable. However, just by limiting the amount of time spent on antagonistic thoughts, emotions and actions, mankind has a lot to benefit. Hence, the need of the hour is to increase our tolerance levels in society.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


"Life is about waking up, making your wife happy, and going to bed. The rest is just details."
M thinks this could be a great tagline for a jewelery company. These marketing types, I tell you... :P

Continuous effort...

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking your potential. Thus spoke someone called Winston Churchill. Me like.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The 4 Ps...

The perfect storm is brewing for everything related to energy - in the whole value chain of generation, transmission & distribution, storage & end use of energy efficient products, services, solutions and paradigms.

Rising fuel prices are clearly making a dent into corporate profits.
Increasing concerns over climate change are bringing the safety and longevity of our planet into question
Growing public perception about the 'green' and 'sustainability' credentials of corporations are inspiring change in corporations' demeanour
And, finally, significant policy decisions are catalysing the need for cleaner energies (which in turn are funding technologies which now have a chance to mature faster and become a reality sooner)

So, my mantra: Make better energy, Use energy better!

After the long hiatus...

...I am back to the blogging world. Lots of movement on various fronts in the last several months - good stuff! Several and sundry thoughts have been lying bottled up for the last few weeks and the decision to return to 'Apun kya bolta hai...' was made!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's a time...

...when stock market swings of 5% are the norm rather than the exception
...commas, underscores and dots in the 'sender' category of Outlook are getting me excited
...of being on the tipping point for making critical life choices
...when my errors of the past are coming back to kick me in the butt and make me learn some valuable lessons
...when I am trying to the find the third D.
...of great uncertainty and consequently, promise buckle down and make it happen!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I knew him from the age of about four till eleven.

Crisply ironed shirt, starched white dhothi, spectacles with bifocal lenses, neatly parted hair, mouthing Shakespearean monologue, a majestic walking stick and a strong gait - that was my Thatha!

I used to hold his hand and walk with him to Krishna Library in Chikkadapalli, Hyderabad where I would get the latest Amar Chitra Kathas, Tinkles and Tintins.
He used to take me to book fairs every year and buy me tons of books, including Children's Knowledge Bank, Tell Me Why, Tom Sawyer, etc. (He bought me my first RK Narayan book, 'Swami and Friends', the hardbound edition. Somebody borrowed it from me in the last two years and has failed to return it. If you do have it, please let me know. That particular object symbolizes a lot to me.) Whatever love for reading I have, is all because of him.

I remember how he used to shield me from my mother's beatings. I remember how my cousin and I locked him up in his room and threw pebbles through the ventilator...for fun!(Sorry, Thatha - I was a mischievious kid!). At times, he used to buy me and Appi 'Five Star' bars at Kashinath. He had a red hard bound book that contained all of Shakespeare's plays and never failed to watch Shakespeare on Saturday afternoons on Doordarshan. Whatever I know of Shylock, Portia and the like is all thanks to him. I remember him recounting stories of his stint as a public prosecutor and the nasty criminals he faced. I inherited his love for tennis - both playing and watching.

I remember him relaxing in his easychair and watching in amazement as his biceps involuntarily twitched. And of course, every afternoon, after I returned from school, him and I would play a game of Scrabble - that was fiercely competitive, mind you!
If I know any flowery language or strange two letter words, you can attribute it to my Thatha. I remember him never complaining about the lack of salt in the sambar and merely adding a pinch before proceeding with his meal.

And, I remember receiving the telegram from my dad at my maternal grandmom's place in Bombay - a terse message that said "Father passed away last night."

A man of values, discipline, patience, perseverance,dignity, courage, scholarship and affection - that was my Thatha. It's been 19+ years since he passed away. But, I think of him and miss him every single day...

Thank you for shaping me into who I am, Thatha!

What Spirit...???

Yes, the Chinese did a fabulous job in organizing the games. But, to be honest, the games lacked spirit. I was in Athens 4 years ago and in Beijing this summer, so I can draw some comparisons.

Beijing was all about efficiency, sans festivity. If you did see some of the latter, it was more orchestrated and forced than spontaneous. But then, I suppose, there's not a whole lot you can expect from a communist nation in terms of expression of ideas, emotions and thoughts.

Why was there no food at the venues??? GRRR!!! (Ok, there was food. But OH MY GOD! Such limited options)

My unscientific estimate of the # of non-Chinese people at the Games: 5 to 10%. China's policy of squeezing VISAs is indeed deplorable.

In my view, China might have made material progress. But, I don't think they have grown as human beings...


So, I am re-reading Swami and Friends these days. (Yes, I needed some comfort reading.)
It's the sort of book that makes me laugh no matter how many times I have read it.

Swami: Father, my examinations start from day after tomorrow.
Father: And yet you are roaming around the house like an unleashed donkey!

RK Narayan rules. I hear his brother is a decent cartoonist...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Of coffee and tea...

Babulal: Aaj ke khaas mehmaan ke liye, hum khud special chai banaayenge!
XYZ: Babulal, tumhare baap ne bhi kabhi chai banai thi?
Babulal: Baap ki baat mat karrr, woh to coffee banate the!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Aaya hoon to...

Implicitly, explicitly, and sometimes subconsciously, Crime Master Gogo has enriched all our lives with his seemingly obscure, yet deep insights and philosophies on life. Thus, he rightfully deserves recognition, admiration and of course,the ultimate stamp of approval - a fan club on Facebook. Join and share your thoughts on Crime Master Goga!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Gold diggers...

Its the same story every four years.

Before the Olympics, people write/talk about India's medal hopes and how we will win 'at least' a couple of bronzes this time.
At the Olympics, we falter and don't end up with much. (Granted, over the last 3 editions, we have graduated from bronze to silver to gold.
After the event, reams of paper are spent on "Why is it that a country of one billion cannot produce a gold medal, and how we *need* to fix the system"

But, honestly - who cares???
Yes, significant investment in sports infrastructure could generate jobs and medals. But, will it generate substantial employment and results? What if we did infact pump in billions to create a sports infrastructure that created a few hundred or a few thousand jobs and generated a few medals? Is that a 'profitable' investment?

Yes, sports are key for a healthy body and mind. Let's keep it that way. Let's enjoy the game in our backyards and grounds. Why worry about medals at the Olympics? While today's barometer of social and economic progress is tied to Olympic medals, is it a barometer we should be concerned about? NO!

Instead, let's focus our energies on other sectors and aspects of the average Indian's life, to create and distribute wealth. As they say, one cannot achieve everything. If the UK, US, Japan and now, China are ahead of the curve in millions and medals, I suspect they did it piecemeal - baby steps. One thing after another...

Let's come to the realization and acceptance that sports and Olympic glory are not a priority for us. With a slew of issues from water to roads to electricity to poverty that need require transformational solutions, let's not channel our energies into a quest for golds, silvers and bronzes.

Thus far, our lack of Olympic medals has been due to apathy, not due to a conscious choice. Its time for us to make that conscious choice to be apathetic to medals and empathetic to social and economic transformation.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lords of the Rings...

While I await the typhoon to pass by Hong Kong, I have spent quality time in my mainland friendly hotel,watching CCTV. Indeed, this is an exciting time in this region and the Olympic fever is intensifying on the streets (and TV sets) in Hong Kong.

One of the oldest/most prolific civilizations around, China has come full circle in its quest for glory and recognition. Nearly thirty years ago, China started opening its door to foreign investment and embracing its own model of capitalistic communist growth. The means of progress (Tiannanmen Square in 1989) and at times, even the outcomes, can certainly be debated (what about the poor in rural China?). That being said, what the Chinese have achieved over the last 2-3 decades is remarkable - the transformation from an agrarian, bicycle riding nation to a Starbucks chugging, high tech manufacturing driven, VW driving people.

Yes, an event of this scale in a country with a communist background is bound to have controversies - Tibet demonstrations, Kashgar terror strike, 'blue skies' or the lack thereof in Beijing and so on...

However, in the final analysis, one can't help but feel awe, envy and admiration about the Chinese juggernaut as this summer's Olympics dawns upon us. I am confident given the hard working ability and the human capital of the Chinese people, this will go down as one of the finest Olympics in recent times - a true celebration of the 're'-emergence of the Chinese civilization on the world scene.

Bravo Beijing! Well done!
Congratulations China - You have arrived!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

1 or 2...

What gives you more relief? Crapping or peeing? It's one of the toughest questions around I think.

The thing is...

...we are all getting older. But, I for one, just don't want to acknowledge it.
Ah, Peter Pan - you sonova*****!

Post # 100...

I have written about soaps, airports, gas stations, sex, love, relationships, friendships, careers, music, movies, drinking, 9/11, tolerance, arguments and what not and have enjoyed writing and hearing from you.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading/commenting.
Stay tuned for more (of the same and not the same).
Happy hundred Wittynathan!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bade bade desho mein, aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai...

At Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, you see the top of an empty escalator, followed by AG Jr, as seen coming up the escalator, eyes searching for a toilet sign, listening to 'Yun hi chala chal' (Background music) on his iPod. The camera catches his expression change from anxiety to surprise as he eyes AG Sr. Camera zooms out and pans at AG Sr with a swoosh. AG Sr. is juggling bags with his wife and kids – family banter and chatter is heard (“Arre baba, give me that bag na…”). AG Jr is seen walking up to AG Sr, agape, earphones being casually dropped, the music dulling down, yet at a very basic level – like what you would hear from an earphone…and is heard saying in an excited tone 'Are you AG Sr?' AG Sr smiles, nods. AG Jr unabashedly extends both hands to clasp AG Sr's hands - camera pans to the handshake in slow motion – to capture the essence of this historic and fateful moment. No music for a few seconds. The words are muted, the slow motion continues...with snippets of 'I thought you did a great job making sure SRK underplays in Swades...' fading in and out with Kailash Kher's 'Ooo ooo ooo ooo' piece from 'Yunhi chala chal' and clinking of glasses in the restaurant behind and the sounds of the people in the mall. Photos are taken, business cards are exchanged, while Kailash and Hariharan continue to croon.
They say their goodbyes. Cut to AG Jr walking out of the mall, hands in his pockets, grinning from ear to ear, earphones back in their place, looking at the bright blue sky. Music back to max with Yunhi chala chal…camera pans to the blue sky….music fades out. Blue fades out into the blackness of the screen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Epiphanies, boredom, leadership, values, ethics, people, families, children, emotions, lives, loves, procrastination, melody, eyes, touch, sex, sins, fear, labor, entertainment, humor, conviction, confidence, betrayal, nervousness, butterflies, catharasis, countries, cultures, lust, variety, urination, relief,
optimism, hope, joy...