Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

In searching for something that is lot of fun - I did not update my blog for sometime. Below is guest blog by my friend Sai Narayan.
10 out of 10 for satire. Read On! Smiles guaranteed. Happy Diwali/Happy Deepavali.

In what could be called as the deal that could change the face of Indian economy,  The Times of India group has decided to venture into producing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) for United States of America and Europe. This came in the wake of an unfortunate event which led to a strong business idea.
Mr. Boman Adsaleswala from Mulund, the regional head sales of the TOI group was enjoying his usual cup of tea in the morning. He was standing in his balcony thinking of his next client meeting when an unidentified flying object (UFO) landed on his head. Minutes after the incident he fell unconscious and his family rushed him to the hospital. The doctors declared him to be in coma. Neither the family nor the Mumbai police could understand the reason of the incident. Family thought it could be due to the stress to achieve his sales target for the month. But it was quickly denounced by his colleagues saying during Diwali, advertisers mindlessly buy ad space leaving the sales team cooling their heels. On closer examination the doctors claimed that this happened because of a strong object that hit Mr. Adsaleswala on his head which led to coma.
While the family is still coming to terms with the shock, Mr. Adsaleswala’s son found a very heavy object in their balcony. While attempting to lift the object he fractured his hand. Neighbours called the BMC who airlifted the object and sent it to Mumbai police. Without wasting time, Mumbai police sent it to the forensic experts who claimed that it was the same object which inflicted coma upon Mr. Adsaleswala. On closer examination, the forensic experts found that the UFO was Diwali edition of the Times of India newspaper. The family is now all set to sue the group and hold the marketing and sales team responsible for the fate of Mr. Adsaleswala.
Undeterred by the allegations, TOI spokesperson blamed it on the advertisers who push them to increase the pages of the newspaper during this time - a mammoth 250 page newspaper. He said the journalist and the edit team usually go on a long holiday (while that’s case round the year) during this time of the year.
When the leading NDTV journalist Darkha Butt contacted the local resident of Mulund area to know more about the facts – an avid reader of the TOI claimed that these days it takes him at least 15-20 mins to reach the front page. The distraught resident added that he is not surprised with this incident and said this could have happened to him. He now relies on the TOI mobile app instead.
Even the local gyms in Gurgaon have been affected due to this incident as most of the gyms use TOI as heavy weights. Customers refused to visit their gym following the incident ‘Ibb kay uthayga bhai’ said Billu Bodywala, a 31 year old body builder and gym owner from Gurgaon.
While the circulation of TOI has dipped in the Mulund area and in some other parts of the country, advertisers continue to buy real estate advertisement space in TOI. “We park all our marketing budgets during Diwali season, this is the time to advertise” roared a budding Brand Manager of a real estate firm. His enthusiasm has a solid foundation of inexperience.
Undeterred by the dip in circulation TOI Managing Director, Mr. Bhayneet Jain has in fact seized the opportunity to expand his business. He is all set to export unsold Diwali edition papers to US and to some parts of European countries as WMDs. A special delegate from USA visited India to test the WMDs under United Nations (UN) supervision. This is pure gold thundered the delegate who later showed regret of not having used this technology for the Abbottabad operation.
Sources reveal that a team of newspaper vendors are being formed from across the country. They will be sent on a secret mission to train the armed forces of US and European countries. 
The UPA government welcomed the deal as it will improve relations with the US and European markets and further improve chances of FDI. A special committee is being formed to name the WMDs after Rajiv Gandhi. (Considering 75% of the ad revenue comes from the UPA budget.)
As anticipated, BJP says they will not support this deal for reasons unknown to them. On probing, party spokesperson said Advaniji is chilling out in Goa and they will comment only when he returns.
While the country is divided on this new development- RAW agents are welcoming this deal saying “India is waging a psychological warfare on rest of the world by sending these mind numbing editions”. Others are happy that they no longer have to go through the ordeal of reading this paper anymore.
Bollywood is extremely happy with the deal saying this is their last hope to enter Hollywood. Considering the fact that ads occupy 70% of space and bollywood occupies 40% (10% of the ads are film promotions). This could be our last chance to enter the global arena after the attempts made by Mr. Anil Kapoor, says, Amod Mehra a trade analyst.
On the global front China, Japan and some motley Human rights organizations have approached the UN saying that the deal must be stopped at all cost as the TOI Diwali editions are more powerful than the nuclear bombs that were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They beleive it is a threat to mankind.
News has just come in that Mr. Adsaleswala finally opened his eyes and is currently reading the Hindustan Times who have been quick to offer him a Job. Meanwhile Congress loyalists have announced a Rajiv Gandhi bravery award for Mr. Adsaleswala.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pro Single Idea

Before you really start reading this blog, I request you to hear the sound clip from the movie Inception below. This will give you a good context.

I am single. The residual energy of the dialogue from the movie Inception is trapped inside my head for some time.  Being single is an idea that has got stuck in there somewhere and much to the dissapointment of all the people around me who want me married…the idea inside my head is a resilient parasite.
I am single. I am not lonely. I don't binge drink. I don't smoke. I am not promiscuous. Man is a social animal but being single doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. Inside us all we have the power to choose how we feel every moment. Single is a state of mind and it’s a pretty good state to be in. Trust me.
I am single. I enjoy company of well bred individuals. If it happens to be a girl - even better! I hope they enjoy my company too. None of my link ups were dramatic (at least I believe they weren’t dramatic) and none of my break ups have been messy. I sleep very well every night and I can certainly look at myself in the mirror every morning because I have treated every one of the girls I have been with plenty of respect. It is my interaction with cross section of them that has made my life very rich.
I am single. I have had a good career if not an extraordinary one. I am fortunate to be making way more money than what a single guy needs. I don’t have any big expenses to think about on a recurring basis. It just puts me in a position to help out those who need money more than I do. I doubt I would be able to donate generously if I had kids of my own. More importantly, I wonder if I would have been able develop this consciousness towards society at my age if I was married. India already has 1.25 billion people and I don’t see how me adding to that number is going to make me feel any better. I urge all of my married friends to adopt at least one underprivileged child and nurture that child in the way only they can. Change lives of those who are less fortunate….I guarantee you; your life will change for the better along the way.
I am single. I am trying my hand at minimalistic living. I don’t feel the need to buy a house, buy things and accumulate assets. At the same time, I don't have a problem with anyone who is buying it all. Either ways, life goes on just fine.
I am too single. I am too happy. I love too much. I am too content. I am too mobile. If life takes me on a good journey, I hope to give too much. Well, I don’t think there is anything called “giving too much” :). I am not going to go looking for marriage, if it happens, it happens. If I grow old with no wife and no kids – that is absolutely fine too. My life like everyone else’s is going to be a total of all the choices I make.
I am single. This blog is not written for self promotion. I believe society at large undervalues/berates single as a lifestyle choice. It is disappointing. Open up your mind a bit. Try objectivity. Please allow me to quote a line that I read somewhere “I am not anti marriage, I am just pro single"

Friday, April 26, 2013

Budhha Weeping

It was March 1998. I was in 11th standard. To be specific, I was half-in and half-out.  I was unsure whether I would get enough marks in my final exams to move to 12th standard. My class teacher was deeply concerned about how I was wasting away my "alleged" potential by playing cricket all the time. In the days that followed, she took it upon herself and (I believe) she gave me grace marks in some subjects. Surprise, surprise! I was promoted to the 12th standard gracefully.
At that time - my life was all about watching and playing cricket. Some people might say playing a sport is healthy distraction in teenage years when the hormones are raging. But only I knew the real problem. The problem was, all the guys I played cricket with were in no need for grace marks to go to 12th standard…but I needed them. I really did.
Now, the question is – why am I picking March 1998 to start this blog? It was the month when an astute administrator like AB Vajpayee was elected into Prime Minister’s office. He represented the political party (BJP) which some considered does not have secular credentials. Good or bad, he knew how to take decisions and stand by it. In short, he had political stamina – a non-negotiable trait for running a complex, diverse democracy like India. True to form, he weighed his options (political risks, international pressure and economic sanctions etc.) and threw his weight behind conducting nuclear tests. This team was led by a brilliant Muslim* scientist APJ Abdul Kalam.

May 13, 1998 – India - A third world country, dodged US satellites and has done the unthinkable. Buddha smiled. It was just a wonderful time to dream for me in my teenage years. As a 16 year old boy knowing your country is standing up to international pressure, economic sanctions (by USA and Japan) just stoked the dormant pride. Before that, all I used to read in the newspaper was India going around the world with a begging bowl for foreign aid. This time it was different.  India is now a responsible nuclear power and it is just a deterrent. Without actually saying it…India’s democratically elected political leadership was making a statement and that was “Listen up world, respect India”.  

Did AB Vajpayee (BJP led government) get everything right? No. Peace process with Pakistan was a failure resulting in Kargil war and hijack of IC-814 to Kandahar, Afghanisthan. From the outside, it certainly looked like AB Vajpayee committed a big mistake of trusting a war monger like Pervez Musharraf. Things went really bad with the communal riots in Gujarat. For these reasons, I suspect the voting public in India did not re-elect BJP into power in 2004. Somehow the electorate overlooked the fact that AB Vajapyee got a lot of things right too. Constructing roads, taking appropriate policy actions to withstand the impact of economic sanctions, projecting a responsible image of India in the eyes of world media etc. Sure enough, he built serious economic momentum which the world started to respect.

Point is – no one gets everything right. Not you, not me and definitely not Prime Minister of a country like ours.

The ruling Congress led coalition has been in power for nine years since 2004. I am struggling to find right things this government has done. Rampant corruption, fiscal deficit is ballooning up and getting to unsustainable levels, economic growth is sliding year after year, totally misdirected populist spending (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and the list goes on! Since India’s Independence in 1947 Congress party has been in power directly or indirectly except for the period 1998 – 2004. For the kind of resources India has, we should have climbed out of illiteracy and poverty long time ago. But hey, Congress will keep saying every five years that they are secular, they are the party for aam aadmi and keep getting voted back into the office.  

Let’s face it – Indian National Congress (INC) has kept India sick, illiterate, poor and pregnant. Someone has to take ownership and the buck stops with INC because they have been in power for most part of 66 years of Independent India. 

I am very clear in my mind. Congress led government at the centre has let India down and I am not stupid to overlook it and vote for them in 2014. The really sad part is, even if BJP gets voted into the office, for the first two years they will not be able to do much because Congress has drained the exchequer with poorly directed populist spending which have not delivered any real economic returns. 
*Religion of APJ Abdul Kalam is irrelevant in context of this blog. But I am mentioning it to let people know that the non-secular tirade pedalled around by Congress against BJP is at best a cover up on their own incompetence from 2004 - till now.

Added on April 28.

Plenty of well meaning middle class Indians voted for Congress (in 2004 & 2009) as they saw Manmohan Singh through the prism of his wonderful work as Finance Minister in 1991. He was able to do all of it in 1991 because back then P.V Narasimha Rao was willing to bear the political risk of his decisions even when leading a minority government. But now, with Sonia Gandhi holding the remote control for all decisions an able guy like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is rendered completely ineffective. He may have all the educational qualifications but I doubt he can ever be the administrator that Indians want him to be.