Days of our Lives!

May 21, 2009

What they don’t tell you about Bangalore Autos

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea — Santhosh @ 12:44 PM
  • Time Value for Money: What we MBA types learn the night before the fin exam in our fin classes about TMV is nothing compared to what these guys have managed to take it to: “Saar, traffic”, “Saar, red light”.
  • Diminishing returns: The longer the journey, the kilometers actually covered keeps decreasing as against the meter reading.
  • Strategic partnership: Bangalore auto + Bangalore speed-breakers.
  • Localization: Namma Bengalooru actually refers to the autowallas. Literally.
  • Market Segmentation: The process of dividing Bangalore up into segments, only some of which any particular auto may target.
  • Franchising: The autos actually belong to BMTC. They just forgot to put up the route boards, but that doesn’t mean that the auto can travel to some random destination just because you want to.
  • Value Chain: That chain whose housing always breaks when you’re on the Nice road with not a vehicle in sight.

February 17, 2009

Heads or Tails?

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea — Santhosh @ 8:08 PM

How many times have we come across that old classmate whom all of us thought would never cut it but who is now doing well for himself? Or that boy across the street who just couldn’t grasp trigonometry or Tagore but who now runs his own business? This is an essential paradox in our education system, especially so in India. We expect our children to be good at everything in school, while they will need to be good at just one to do well in life.

An extreme way of putting it would be that our expectations of the education system are maybe out of sync with the outside world, where division of labour and specialization rule. In the world of adults, we are not expected to be good at everything. We have our own set of things we would like to do ourselves, and manage to do well, and another set of things we know we’re better off giving to the specialists. So why do we force our children to do everything in the hope that they will eventually be good at something?

The funda behind sending our children to any form of (formal) education is that they’ll get one – about X, about themselves and where they stand with respect to X and finally about what the world provides for and thinks of X (where X is what they’re trying to learn, be it physics, geometry or medicine). This has been adapted into our current education system where we send them to school to develop certain basic language and numeric skills. This is the basic infrastructure that the school system must provide so that our children can make the most of life’s opportunities. It’s the base, the foundation, the proverbial roots that they can use to reach out.

Till around the start of the nineties, this was essentially what was agreed upon by both sides in the system. However, the subsequent economic boom our country has been in, while definitely for the betterment of most, has made everyone forget just how much is this basic infrastructure. It used to be just the three Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic. This has subsequently been enshrouded with a variety of so-called hygiene factors, allegedly the absolute essentials, in terms of both quantity and quality. The rat race that’s now become a part of all this is further ensuring that.

With all this, we now have the child, the forgotten one we are all trying to help, being forced to try and do well in all of them, with us forgetting the original reasons as to why he is there in the first place. All this leaves us with one question. Should we try and make sure the child is not left behind in any way when it comes to any of the supposed essential factors? Or should we help the child in understanding what his strengths are and where his interests lie, guiding him towards achieving the best he can in them?

Should education build on a child’s strengths or should it try to minimize his/her weaknesses?

February 12, 2009

Sri Kama Sene and the (p)anty-social fundae

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea,Top Draws — Santhosh @ 8:01 PM

You know, in the good old days, Valentine’s Day usually saw lace panties being gifted to wives, mistresses and girlfriends. But now, in these pub going, loose, and forward times, we’ve resorted to sending pink chaddis to 40-something males. Forget about how extreme right or center-left he is; first check how straight he is before sending him those chaddis. Now that Muthalik has decided to reciprocate all this love by sending sarees for each chaddi he receives, I just hope that he knows what he’s getting into. Women’s fashion is not exactly as simple of rocket science and he may well end up having to set up a new complaint cell – what color is this, crepes went out of fashion ages ago, the flowers in the border are just too large...

As for the SRS themselves, it’s like watching a TR movie – I’d actually be laughing myself silly at them were it not for their actions affecting so many in so direct a manner. If nothing else, the antics of the various Senas have provided enough fodder for our junta to twitter on. The irony is that their convoluted brains have come up with some warped logic whereby it’s perfectly OK for them to oppose Public Displays of Affection with Public Displays of Violence.

Taking a cue from the Ambani brothers, the various Hindutva factions in Karnataka have even entered into non-compete agreements:

  • Bajrang Dal opposes conversions (the work of which, according to the Constitution of India and the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Religion, should be against the law.)
  • Hindu Janajagrithi Samithi works against denigrating Hindu gods in any form.
  • Sri Ram Sene call themselves the custodians of Hindu culture.

Everyone has the right to have a quiet drink in a pub, and doing so is just the same as taking food, eating pizza or licking a cone in a restaurant, pizzeria or an ice cream parlour. Free world, service being provided, basic rights, independence, and all that. We shouldn’t even be talking about this – it’s a no-brainer. I just wish the junta in the various talk shows didn’t shortchange everyone by talking so indignantly of just the right to go to pubs or wear spaghetti tops. It’s a bit more than that – it’s about an individual’s right to decide what he/she wants to do with his/her own time (and life).

However, just a thought here. Blame it on a small-town upbringing, but I’d like to know how many of these twinkle-toed, sharp-tongued ladies (and young sirs) in their teens actually tell their parents they are going out for a drink. Supporting an open society and willing all those supposed philistines to be educated about the new world is puhfectly fine, but then like all things, it needs to start at home. Your parents are the old, doddering, dogmatists stuck in dinosaur-land for someone else, and if you feel so strongly about the whole open-minded thing, it’s your responsibility to sit and ‘educate’ them first. It’s highly hypocritical if you’re scared to talk about this with your own parents (and have to resort to “eating out” and “classmate’s notes”) and yet ask out loud for a more forward and understanding society.

On a side note, what’s with NDTV’s sudden overmuch of original ideas? First it was that mademoiselle Darkha Butt who came up with ‘India’s 9/11‘, and now it is Mayo Sharma with Mangalore’s Taliban. What next? India’s Monica Lewinsky?


As for the pink chaddi campaign itself, I personally don’t expect anything to come of it. Yes, it’s an absolutely brilliant, creative and novel way of making people sit up and take notice. However, I really can’t see anything practically substantive in the crusade, except for lunatics who stock chaddis in pink, and pub owners who’d be utterly delighted at the prospect of all these campaigners deciding to park themselves in their pubs and drink exhorbitant quantities of liquids and beverages (as per their own, um, constitution’s step 3). But as for any actual actions that may make a difference, all the campaign proclaims to do is:

What happens after Valentine’s Day?
After Valentine’s Day we should get some of our elected leaders to agree that beating up women is ummm… AGAINST INDIAN CULTURE.

We all know what happens with such proclamations (it’s called globe in MBA jargon). Note that I’m not against the campaign, all I’m saying is that just creating facebook communities and sending pink chaddis will do nothing more than create some temporal noise, and that’s the easy part for someone who has the finances and the faculties to visit pubs and access the net.

And as for Muthalik, if he isn’t busy giving guest talks on PR and advertising, something tells me he’s out there minting money by selling those pink chaddis himself.

February 2, 2009

Oh O Obamicons and my finance paper

Filed under: I at IIM I,My Cup of Socie-Tea — Santhosh @ 4:50 PM

Obama and the human race (at least the Western version that watches cable TV):

Me and my Finance course:

…and a few more (from the net)

Create your own Obamicons here.

November 30, 2008

The Mumbai attacks – a few scrambled thoughts

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea — Santhosh @ 9:38 PM

… some my own, some from around the blogosphere

A map of the places attacked

What I don’t want to hear:

  • stupid statements “condemning” the attacks (like this and this), like that would set everything right
  • requests to civilians for their “calm” and “cooperation”, which is nothing but a polite way of saying “we didn’t do our jobs, but things are bad and this is not a good time to yell”.
  • references to the great Mumbai “spirit”. People get back to their lives because most need to work to eat for the day.
  • anything that a doddering Shivraj Patil wants to say. I don’t expect a Rudy Giuliani act from him, but the least he can do is to appoint somebody capable to take care of this emergency
  • references to security checks in malls
  • media asking questions like “Sir, the cable connection in the Hotel is disabled, is that a precautionary measure?”
——-x——-

Speculating…

  • why no communication lines are yet to be opened with the terrorists
  • why we don’t have our own versions of a SWAT team that we so often see on American television
  • where Raj Thackeray and his goons who rushed to beat up those poor taxi drivers are
  • what the hell is happening to our tax money if it’s not being spent on guns that don’t jam or bullet-proof vests that are an apology for the term. I mean, the Maharashtra police look as helpless as the bystanders with their ridiculous service revolvers and helmets.
——-x——-

What do you do against people who’ve decided they just want to kill as many as possible, while also holding an entire country on hold for hours? What do you do against terrorism at its purest form. What do you do against those whose supposed demands (almost as an afterthought) are that all “mujahedeen” in Indian jails should be freed and that “persecution” of Muslims should stop.

——-x——-

What I find shocking is that this should have been expected and prevented, but it wasn’t and everyone in power seems to be surprised by it all. In the last few months there have been serial, perfectly coordinated, bomb blasts in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, New Delhi and Assam, taking over 200 lives. If the government had done something of note, Mumbai 26/11 needn’t have happened. Just take a look at the number of attacks over the past decade or so, and note their increasing frequency (here and here).

——-x——-

When the Pakistani army and LET sit for dinner to think up front names for their “modules”, do they go through the IPL roster? Mumbai Indians – Indian Mujahiddeen; Deccan Chargers – Deccan Mujahiddeen;

——-x——-

So what exactly is this “intelligence failure” thing? I mean, every time something like a bomb going off or some more Bangladeshi insurgency or a Sachin getting bowled happens, we get this matter-of-fact reply. I mean, it IS an intelligence failure, because if you knew this was supposed to happen and yet did nothing about it, it would be called collusion. It’s called Bayesian probability and in this case the value is one. Ever used “intelligence” and “it worked” in the same sentence?

——-x——-

And, speaking of our Intelligence Bureau is an insult to the word intelligence. All they’ve come out with for now is pages of pure, unadulterated bull:

  • The Intelligence Bureau has confirmed that the attacks that took place in Mumbai on Wednesday night were an act of terror and aimed at disrupting peace and causing panic among Mumbaikars.
  • The IB says that they have come to the conclusion due to two reasons. One is that the use of AK-47 rifles. IB sources told rediff.com that apart from security personnel only terrorists have access to AK-47s. They also add that the firing was indiscriminate and largely aimed at causing panic. Another reason for the IB to say it was a terror attacks is due to the fact that the operation was synchronised. Any synchronised or serial attack amounts to a terror strike, IB sources maintained.

  • The IB adds that this kind of attack (serial firing) is completely new. Smuggling bombs/explosives had become difficult especially since the heat on terror operations were stepped up. Hence the module, which carried out the attack thought of this new method, IB sources said.

I wonder if they sat around with their pot-bellies, congratulating each other on successfully solving what the shootings and bombings were all about. I mean, seriously, if we need an intelligence bureau, and I stress the word intelligence here, to

——-x——-

More speculating:

  • why can’t we get someone better equipped to handle such an emergency to step in, instead of the excuse for an Home Minister that we have. Like The Godfather says “Tom, you’re not a wartime Consigliere.”
  • why has no official spokesperson been appointed, who could give hourly factual updates to the media about the happenings inside? This would have at least cut down the rampant speculation that we’re being subjected to.
  • why isn’t the media cordoned off but are instead allowed to get so close to the scene of the attacks?
  • how can one injured terrorist at the Taj, without any hostages, keep off a hundred commandos for over a day?
——-x——-

Our prime just started World War III:

We will take up strongly with our neighbors that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a televised address to the nation. “There would be a cost if suitable measures are not taken by them.” He said the terrorists may have “external linkages.”

Yeah, go get them tiger!

——-x——-

What exactly do the media mean by the 100 odd people who “sacrificed” their lives? They did not. They were brutally killed. In cold blood. It’s an insult to their memories to call it otherwise.

If ever proof was needed about the media’s stupidity

Commandos are landing on the Nariman Building. They seem to be tip-toeing down. The terrorists inside the building don’t know about this. The commandos are communicating to each other through hand signals. Of the 6 commandos, 2 seem to be moving towards the left wall. Surprise is the only weapon they have now….
This is being brought to you live and exclusive by NDTV!!!

and insensitivity

“How do you feel?”, “What will you do if your husband doesn’t come out?”, “Do you think terrorists should be hunted down?”

——-x——-

Sometimes I think BJP and Advani should be made synonyms for abhorrent.
On the 27th, L. K. Advani, talked of political unity. “We expect that the issue of terrorism is kept above politics,” the statement said. “This is an hour for all sections of society to sink their differences.
On the 28th, the front page of Hindustan Times had a BJP advertisement. The ad had a black background, except for an ominous splotch of red in the centre. The text read: “Brutal Terror Strikes at Will. Weak Government, Unwilling and Incapable.”, with the punch line: “Fight Terror. Vote BJP.”

Still wondering why we’re regarded as a weak, divided society?

——-x——-

Watching the western news channels, you’d be forgiven if you thought you lived in a different world.

  • Their maps have India in colour A, Pakistan in colour B, and Kashmir in colour A+B. Kashmir is India, dammit!
  • Terrorism in India finally gets more than the two sound bytes, since ‘westerners’ have now been targeted.
  • An expert from one of their multiple national security agencies notes that this time “the Islamic extremists have taken care not to antagonize the local Hindoooss by targeting only Western guests and Christians”. Yeah, right! What exactly happened at Victoria terminus then?
  • The age-old rhetoric: Indo-Pakistan is a hotbed of Islamic extremism. Atleast they’ve moved on from communism, God bless them.
  • India is on the verge of a major communal violence because Hindus would now be looking to get back at the Muslims for terrorising their country. Er, correct me if I’m wrong but I used to think the country never belonged to Hindus alone.
——-x——-

I just can’t believe what’s happening. In a hostage situation, the commandos stormed into all the buildings at the same time, knowing full well that there are innocent lives at gun-point. I mean, the definition of a hostage situation is that they’ll kill those they have at gunpoint if they don’t get what they’ve asked. This is exactly what happened. Almost all gunpoint-hostages across the three locations have been killed and the only survivors are those who were locked up inside their rooms.

Those are brave people who took part in the operation, but I’m just wondering at the strategy behind all this, if at all there was one. First, to my knowledge at least, there were no communication lines opened – any Hollywood flick will tell you that you first try and talk to the hostage-takers. Next, policemen and ATS personnel tried to take on trained, well-armed jihadis without any apparent plan. And finally, Operation Cyclone and Operation Black Tornado finished the mess-up by storming everything at one go.

Yes, hostage situations take time to be resolved. Wonder if the intense media pressure had anything to do with the decision to storm, thus to be seen to be doing something. I hope not.

——-x——-

Terribly confused with Manmohan Singh’s “call” for the establishment of a federal investigation agency. Er – who is he “calling”? Isn’t he the guy who is supposed to set it up? And preferably have set it up by now?

——-x——-

What’s the urgent need for Sonia, Advani, Manmohan, and co to visit Mumbai right now? When Mumbai’s police forces and logistics are already stretched to the limit.
Thoroughly pissed off when I read this.

Sources said though the plane carrying NSG Commandos was ready by midnight, it could not take off due to the delayed arrival of a VIP, who wanted to accompany them to Mumbai, at the Delhi airport. Worse, the Commandos had to wait for a vehicle at the Mumbai airport until morning.

Why?

——-x——-

Shivraj Patil finally does the sensible thing.

——-x——-

In other news, Barkha Dutt is being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for coining the phrase “India’s 9/11”.

——-x——-

Rashmi has a few good links in her latest post.

——-x——-

November 15, 2008

Spin all the Chandra-yarn you want

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea — Santhosh @ 12:50 AM

… but can we get started on the craters on the road I step out on to, before working on the geological composition of the lunar ones?

October 9, 2008

Go back to 2001

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea,Tech — Santhosh @ 7:49 PM

Is this our version of the time machine?
From their official blog:

Amazingly enough, hidden in a corner beneath Larry’s and Sergey’s original lab coats, we found a vintage search index in mint condition. We dusted it off and took it for a spin, gobsmacked to see how different the web was in early 2001. “iPod” did not refer to a music player, “youtube” was nonsense, and if you were looking for “Michael Phelps,” chances are you meant the scientist, not the swimmer. “Wikipedia” was brand new. Remember “hanging chads“? (And speaking of that election-specific reference — if you’re a U.S. citizen, it’s not too late: please register to vote.)

Also check this out for travelling to the year of your choice (works well only for popular sites though).

April 21, 2008

Why the IPL needs all the extra glitz it can attract!

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea,Sports,Top Draws — Santhosh @ 2:24 AM

Now that the IPL has finally begun in all its hype and hoopla, everyone seems to be asking just the one question – why do we need all this glitz, glamour and sideshows for a cricket match. To understand this, one would first need to understand the Indian cricket fan. There are essentially two types :

One is the cricket sport fan.
The one who has a genuine love of cricket as a sport and is able to appreciate the fine nuances of the game. He understands the subtle changes in the spinner’s flight and angle according to the batsman and the field or the way a batsman changes his grip slightly to bring more of his bottom hand into play. To him, watching a cricket match is an experience, understanding the critical passages of play, riding the ebb and flow of the match and becoming a part of a most intricately constructed drama where he becomes one of them. For such a fan, even seemingly boring passages of play – low-scoring scraps, batsmen biding time by letting balls go by, a spinner bowling six maiden overs in a row – fascinate and fill his mind with action, adding to the drama slowly unfolding around him. Unfortunately, for such a fan, going to the cricket ground is not necessarily a requisite option. He wants to follow the game at the micro-level – close-ups of the batsman as he prepares to face, the change in grip as the bowler decides to go cross-seam – none of which can be done if he’s sitting near square-leg in a pathetic stadium and can’t even follow which way the ball is swinging, never mind the inaccessibility to tools for his own analysis (pitch-maps, replays, comparisons, etc).

The other is the cricket entertainment fan.
He looks at cricket as another means of entertainment, another Bollywood movie, with a Dhoni or a Yuvraj as the hero. For him cricket is about the story of the good guy winning against the bad guy, the hero who would do all the things that he wanted to, but couldn’t. And just the way the movie fan leaves the theater muttering his dissent if his hero couldn’t win in the end in one of those tragic-dramas, the same goes when his team doesn’t win and in which case we have effigy-burning and house-stoning. This fan wants fours and sixes and excitement and action and confrontations and shots of women in the crowd. He just wants to be entertained. This is the Indian Cricket Fan that the outside world gets to see – the one who builds temples for his idol but also throws bottles on fielders and burns effigies. This fan is not crazy about cricket – he’s crazy about Indian cricket, more specifically the international version, which is why India was the only country where domestic 20-20 was such a huge flop last June.

However, it is this second category of fans who make cricket such big business in India. Their blatant ignorance of the sport in question is entirely besides the point, because they are the ones who bring in the moolah by flocking to the grounds, paying millions for sweaty shirts worn by their heroes, and generating billions in revenues for the BCCI. This is why so much coverage of the game is hyperbolic, designed to keep viewers perpetually excited. This is also the reason most commentators are ex-cricketers, hired for being familiar to a celebrity-obsessed audience, and rarely for the insights they offer – why we are forced to hear a Rameez Raja’s “That was a fast ball. Make no mistake. The mistake was made by the batsman” or an Arun Lal’s “That ball was in the air for a while, but it didn’t quite reach the fielder”. The commentary is mostly rhetorical and the commentators are mere summarisers with a delivery like the Speaking Clock. It’s playing to the gallery that knows no shades of grey – just black and white – which is why even experienced retired cricketers, even taking their relative lack of common sense into account, judge a shot as splendid or terrible based on just the result.

So for the IPL to sustain, the cricket is not going to be enough. The category of fans who matter for the balance-sheets are not going to want to pay good money day in and day out for 3 hours where more than 50% of the players are cricketing nobodies from the Ranji wilderness. This is the reason why Lalit Modi and co feel there’s a need for firangi cheerleaders and Akshaye “I-act-only-in-multi-starrers” Kumar swinging down cables; why SRK feels it is fine to dance away in the crowd, how much ever patronising or contrived it may look; why we have gold coloured pads, orange helmets and Gavaskar commentating in ultra-speak mode.

So rather than asking why we need all this razzmatazz to be a part of cricket, we should look at IPL cricket as just a part of the packaging for the category of fans that matter. The IPL is for the masses, pure and simple, a 3 hr movie for the star-crazed fan, with generous doses of hype and masala and girls and action and high-velocity entertainment. The cliche of IPL being the marriage between Bollywood and Cricket suddenly makes sense – both are essentially based on and serve just one particular quality/need of the fan.

ps : if you’ve come till this, you belong to category 1 and I love you, but if you haven’t then better get your fat backside off to the Chinnaswamy stadium – Mallya’s got some Redskins with pom-poms for you.

April 19, 2008

High Jack in the John

Filed under: Musings,My Cup of Socie-Tea — Santhosh @ 9:30 PM

If every hijacker has to use the plane’s restroom to strap the bomb or assemble the gun,
Why the hell can’t we have a metal/bomb detector in the plane in the general area where the restrooms are located? These would at least work after the said bomb/gun has been assembled.

Meanwhile, why do all media portray all hijackers automatically as terrorists after 9/11?

April 15, 2008

the Demographics of Democracy

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea,Whimsy — Santhosh @ 1:47 PM

In a democracy, why is the electoral winner called the ruling party rather than as the serving party?

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