Archive for April, 2008

Business card etiquette

April 29, 2008

Picture this: Rahul Khanna, a dashing young B-school graduate, comes from a simple family and is looking to make it big in the corporate world.

He is currently in the lobby of a five star hotel where large corporate houses are holding a seminar, an excellent place to network for future career prospects.

He meets Mohit Suri, a head of HR who is in a position to offer Rahul a lucrative job opportunity. They exchange civilities and then comes the big moment — Mohit casually asks for Rahul’s business card.

Scene I

Like most people, Rahul keeps his newly-printed business cards in his wallet and he promptly reaches for his back trouser pocket. He struggles to wrest the wallet from his snug-fitting pants and clumsily drops it on the floor. It flips open and Rahul’s loose change, petrol bills, other business cards, girlfriend’s photograph and credit cards spill out for all to see.

Kaput — so much for a great first impression!

Scene II

When asked for his business card, Rahul reaches into his front trouser pocket, effortlessly pulls out a business card holder, removes a card and presents it to Mohit. Poetry in motion! Mohit’s eyes linger on the card holder and he is impressed with Rahul’s style.

Would you like to be Rahul in Scene I or Scene II?

Here’s another example: Ajay Verma, an executive with a multinational company is sitting at his desk. An old colleague drops in for a visit and asks for his business card. Ajay is quite comfortable since it is post-lunch. He pulls out his card from his drawer, holding it between his index and third fingers (like a cigarette) and casually tosses it to his friend across the table. Is that appropriate?

Your business card is an important part of your professional identity. It holds your name, designation, the organisation you represent, your office/ residential telephone numbers, mobile number, fax number, email ID, website address etc. It also carries your credentials, educational qualifications and designation. When you are presenting it to somebody, do so with respect. Your body language should also convey the same.

Always hold the card face-up, so that the print faces the individual you are presenting it to. This is a courtesy, so that he/ she doesn’t have to turn it around to read it. Hold it firmly in one corner, using your your thumb and index finger to grip it as you extend it to the receiver.

How should I present my business card?

Always present your business card with your right hand, as in some cultures it is considered impolite to do so with your left.

If you are dealing with clients from Asian countries like Japan or China, hold the business card with both hands and offer it accompanied by a small bowing gesture. Europeans and Americans do not pay as much attention to business cards as the Asians do.

In India we follow a middle path. East meets West!

Where should I store my cards, if not in my wallet?

Always keep you business cards in an elegant-looking business card holder. The stores that sell wallets and other accessories also stock card holders. Take your pick. Metal ones look extremely classy, but you also get very stylish ones in leather. Pick one that is slim, capable of holding about 10-15 cards at a time. I need not tell you to replenish them frequently!

Unlike a wallet, where business cards tend to get misshapen, a card holder keeps your cards in pristine condition. It prevents smudging and creasing, keeping the cards crisp and at their most attractive. (I’d like to mention at this point that most men don’t think it is necessary to go shopping for new wallets either — they get married to their wallets and fall into a comfort zone with what ends up looking like a relic!)

Is it okay for me to jot down extra details on my card or on someone else’s card with a pen?

Always make sure that the information on your card is current. Avoid scratching out old numbers, email addresses etc and overwriting with a pen — it looks shoddy. It’s worth investing in a new set rather than doing that.

Moreover, it is rude to write something and deface someone else’s card in their presence. When you are out of sight, by all means pen any reference required.

I have seen some people put business cards that they have just received down onto the table/ desk in front of them. Is that acceptable?

If you are in a conference/ meeting where there are more than a few people, it is acceptable to put business cards neatly and in an orderly manner on the table/ desk in front of you. You may do so through the course of the meeting — this helps you to refer to the names of the attendees/ participants as and when required.

If you are in a meeting, you may pick up the cards that you have kept on the table and put them in your planner, diary or folder. Again, the body language should be such that you are collecting your valuable papers and documents. Just make sure you don’t leave any behind. It is very insulting.

At times like this, it is wise to carry a whole bunch of your own business cards in your planner, as the supply in the card holder may soon be exhausted.

How does one show respect to an individual who has handed you his/ her card?

Simple — just smile while accepting it. Say thank you. Spend a few seconds reading it — 5 to 10 seconds should be enough to acknowledge all that is printed there! Nod your head approvingly and if you can think of an intelligent or complimentary thing to say, do so — “Oh, so your office is in Noida?” or “That’s an impressive/ interesting logo your company has”.

What does one do with the card then?

Put it back deliberately in your own business card holder.

This denotes that you are keeping it safe along with your own valuable cards and will file it when you get back to your office.

When should a business card be presented?

Ideally, at the commencement of a formal meeting. But there is no hard and fast rule. You can even present one in the midst or at the end of a meeting, as and when the need for an exchange of information emerges.

Please also keep in mind that in Asian countries no business commences till a formal exchange of business cards has taken place.

Who should present his/ her card first?

Ideally, you should not offer your card to an individual who out-ranks you, since it then becomes obligatory for him/ her to present you with his/ her card also.

If, however, some time has elapsed conversing and you have managed to strike up a measure of familiarity, it may be okay to offer yours and ask for his/ hers.

As for those at the same professional level or below you, it is perfectly alright to ask them for their business cards and present yours anytime — no protocol is required.

Below we have provided you with a few examples of international business card exchange etiquette that may help you on your business trips abroad.

General Business Card Etiquette Tips:

•Business cards are an internationally recognised means of presenting personal contact details, so ensure you have a plentiful supply.
•Demonstrating good business etiquette is merely a means of presenting yourself as best you can. Failure to adhere to foreign business etiquette does not always have disastrous consequences.
•When travelling abroad for business it is advisable to have one side of your business card translated into the appropriate language.
•Business cards are generally exchanged at the beginning of or at the end of an initial meeting.
•Good business etiquette requires you present the card so the recipient’s language is face up.
•Make a point of studying any business card, commenting on it and clarifying information before putting it away.

Business Card Etiquette in China

•Have one side of your business card translated into Chinese using simplified Chinese characters that are printed in gold ink since gold is an auspicious colour.
•Ensure the translation is carried out into the appropriate Chinese dialect, i.e. Cantonese or Mandarin.
•Your business card should include your title. If your company is the oldest or largest in your country, that fact should be highlighted on your card.
•Hold the card in both hands when offering it.
•Never write on someone’s card unless so directed.

Business Card Etiquette in India

•If you have a university degree or any honour, put it on your business card.
•Always use the right hand to give and receive business cards.
•Business cards need not be translated into Hindi as English is widely spoken within the business community.

Business Card Etiquette in Japan

•Business cards are exchanged with great ceremony.
•Invest in quality cards.
•Always keep your business cards in pristine condition.
•Treat the business card you receive as you would the person.
•Make sure your business card includes your title. The Japanese place emphasis on status and hierarchy.
•Business cards are always received with two hands but can be given with only one.
•During a meeting, place the business cards on the table in front of you in the order people are seated.
•When the meeting is over, put the business cards in a business card case or a portfolio.

Business Card Etiquette in the UK

•Business card etiquette is relaxed in the UK and involves little ceremony.
•It is not considered bad etiquette to keep cards in a pocket.
•Business cards should be kept clean and presentable.
•Do not feel obliged to hand out a business card to everyone you meet as it is not expected.


Butterfly Alphabet

April 27, 2008

Nature has wonderful ways of communicating with us and I guess many of us would listen only when she turns violent and loud sometimes.

Here is the English alphabet caught on camera and called the butterfly alphabet by photographer Kjell B.Sandved

How long does it take for a litre of water to go through our body?

April 27, 2008

The short answer is that for normal people it should take about 2 to 3 hours. There is an easy way to find out. Drink a litre of water, and see how long it takes for your rate of urine production to go up and then go back down.

But it depends on several things.

First, the water has to be absorbed. For example, if someone has really bad diarrhea or is vomiting, the fluid won’t be absorbed.

Second, it depends on what is in the water. If it is pure water rather than water with salt in it, the pure water will be excreted faster than salt water.

Third, if someone is dehydrated, say, was playing soccer for two hours and sweated out two more litres water than he drank, the fluid would stay in his body and his rate of urine production will stay really low until he drinks more. And if one lost two litres of water and drinks three litres of water, it will take longer for the rate urine production to increase than if he is not dehydrated.

Forth, it depends on the time of day. Usually, people’s rate of urine production (assuming identical rate of intake of fluid, like if one has an IV) in the middle of the night and increases around the time he wakes up.

Finally, it depends on the state of health of the person. IF a person has kidney disease, the urine production might not increase as much. ANd if a person has heart disease, the fluid may build up in his tissues instead of being excreted.

The reference is a paper where students drank water in the morning and determined how long it took for the water to be excreted. In this paper, it looks like they urinated out about 400 or 500 ml of water over about 2 hours, before the rate of urine production slowed down.

…and how Water Becomes Urine

The water runs down the throat, past the epiglottis (which is closed so that water doesn’t end up in the lungs) and down through the oesophagus into the stomach.

In the stomach, water is needed to assist in the processing and digestion of food. So far, the body has not absorbed any water. The only thing that has happened is that any thirst was probably quenched and the amount of saliva has increased.

The water and food are mixed into a dough and kneaded out into the intestines.

In the small intestine, the body starts to absorb fluid, as well as vitamins and other nutrients from the dough. These nutrients are absorbed by the blood and transported to all the body’s cells…

The large intestine’s task is to absorb as much liquid as possible from the thin batter, so that the body can make use of this liquid and achieve a proper balance of body fluids. This is important, as 60% of the human body is made of water.

The liquid is absorbed by the blood vessels in the large intestine and transported by the blood to the kidneys. In the kidneys, blood is purified and water is converted into urine which flows through the ureters to the bladder. When the bladder contains about 200 – 400ml of urine, signals are usually sent to the brain to promote urination.

Pretty cool website where you can check your typing speed.

April 27, 2008

Typing Speed Test

29 words

The Wacky World of M&As

April 25, 2008
Terms like “dawn raid”, “poison pill”, and “shark repellent” might seem like they belong in James Bond movies, but there’s nothing fictional about them – they are part of the world of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Owning stock in a company means you are part owner, and as we see more and more sector-wide consolidation, mergers and acquisitions are the resultant proceedings. So it is important to know what these terms mean for your holdings.

Mergers, acquisitions and takeovers have been a part of the business world for centuries. In today’s dynamic economic environment, companies are often faced with decisions concerning these actions – after all, the job of management is to maximize shareholder value. Through mergers and acquisitions, a company can (at least in theory) develop a competitive advantage and ultimately increase shareholder value.

There are several ways that two or more companies can combine their efforts. They can partner on a project, mutually agree to join forces and merge, or one company can outright acquire another company, taking over all its operations, including its holdings and debt, and sometimes replacing management with their own representatives. It’s this last case of dramatic unfriendly takeovers that is the source of much of M&A’s colorful vocabulary.

Hostile Takeover
This is an unfriendly takeover attempt by a company or raider that is strongly resisted by the management and the board of directors of the target firm. These types of takeovers are usually bad news, affecting employee morale at the targeted firm, which can quickly turn to animosity against the acquiring firm. Grumblings like, “Did you hear they are axing a few dozen people in our finance department…” can be heard by the water cooler. While there are examples of hostile takeovers working, they are generally tougher to pull off than a friendly merger.

Dawn Raid
This is a corporate action more common in the United Kingdom; however it has also occurred in the Unites States. During a dawn raid, a firm or investor aims to buy a substantial holding in the takeover-target company’s equity by instructing brokers to buy the shares as soon as the stock markets open. By getting the brokers to conduct the buying of shares in the target company (the “victim”), the acquirer (the “predator”) masks its identity and thus its intent.

The acquirer then builds up a substantial stake in its target at the current stock market price. Because this is done early in the morning, the target firm usually doesn’t get informed about the purchases until it is too late, and the acquirer now has controlling interest. In the U.K., there are now restrictions on this practice.

Saturday Night Special
This is a sudden attempt by one company to take over another by making a public tender offer. The name comes from the fact that these maneuvers used to be done over the weekends. This too has been restricted by the Williams Act in the U.S., whereby acquisitions of 5% or more of equity must be disclosed to the Securities Exchange Commission.

Takeovers are announced practically everyday, but announcing them doesn’t necessarily mean everything will go ahead as planned. In many cases the target company does not want to be taken over. What does this mean for investors? Everything! There are many strategies that management can use during M&A activity, and almost all of these strategies are aimed at affecting the value of the target’s stock in some way. Let’s take a look at some more popular ways that companies can protect themselves from a predator. These are all types of what is referred to as “shark repellent“.

Golden Parachute
This measure discourages an unwanted takeover by offering lucrative benefits to the current top executives, who may lose their job if their company is taken over by another firm. Benefits written into the executives’ contracts include items such as stock options, bonuses, liberal severance pay and so on. Golden parachutes can be worth millions of dollars and can cost the acquiring firm a lot of money and therefore act as a strong deterrent to proceeding with their takeover bid.

A spin-off of the term “blackmail”, greenmail occurs when a large block of stock is held by an unfriendly company or raider, who then forces the target company to repurchase the stock at a substantial premium to destroy any takeover attempt. This is also known as a “bon voyage bonus” or a “goodbye kiss”.

Macaroni Defense
This is a tactic by which the target company issues a large number of bonds that come with the guarantee that they will be redeemed at a higher price if the company is taken over. Why is it called macaroni defense? Because if a company is in danger, the redemption price of the bonds expands, kind of like macaroni in a pot! This is a highly useful tactic, but the target company must be careful it doesn’t issue so much debt that it cannot make the interest payments.

Takeover-target companies can also use leveraged recapitalization to make themselves less attractive to the bidding firm.
People Pill
Here, management threatens that in the event of a takeover, the management team will resign at the same time en masse. This is especially useful if they are a good management team; losing them could seriously harm the company and make the bidder think twice. On the other hand, hostile takeovers often result in the management being fired anyway, so the effectiveness of a people pill defense really depends on the situation.
Poison Pill
With this strategy, the target company aims at making its own stock less attractive to the acquirer. There are two types of poison pills. The ‘flip-in’ poison pill allows existing shareholders (except the bidding company) to buy more shares at a discount. This type of poison pill is usually written into the company’s shareholder-rights plan. (To learn more about these and other shareholders’ rights, see Knowing Your Rights as a Shareholder.) The goal of the flip-in poison pill is to dilute

The ‘flip-over’ poison pill allows stockholders to buy the acquirer’s shares at a discounted price in the event of a merger. If investors fail to take part in the poison pill by purchasing stock at the discounted price, the outstanding shares will not be diluted enough to ward off a takeover.

An extreme version of the poison pill is the “suicide pill” whereby the takeover-target company may take action that may lead to its ultimate destruction.


With this tactic the target company stalls with the hope that another, more favorable company (like “a white knight”) will make a takeover attempt. If management sandbags too long, however, they may be getting distracted from their responsibilities of running the company.

White Knight
This is a company (the “good guy”) that gallops in to make a friendly takeover offer to a target company that is facing a hostile takeover from another party (a “black knight”). The white knight offers the target firm a way out with a friendly takeover. (To learn more about white, gray, yellow and black knights, see Bloodletting and Knights: A Medieval Guide to Investing.)

For more on the basics of mergers and acquisitions, please check out this entire tutorial devoted to the subject: The Basics of Mergers and Acquisitions.

The next time you read a news release that says that your company is using a poison pill to ward off a takeover attempt, you’ll now know what it means. More importantly, you’ll know that you have the opportunity to purchase more shares at a cheap price. M&A has an entire vocabulary of its own, expressed through some of the rather creative strategies employed in the process, such as the ones we’ve touched on above. Hopefully by reading this article you are at least a bit wiser in the wacky world of M&A terminology. By understanding what is happening to your holdings during a takeover or attempted takeover, you may one day even save money.
the shares held by the bidder and make the takeover bid more difficult and expensive.

IT industry has its own Hiranyakashyap to battle

April 25, 2008

Nasscom Leadership Summit has always been a place for good story-telling and provocative thoughts. This year, the spark came not from a software veteran or a BPO moghul, but a captain of an old economy industry. Anand Mahindra, vice chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra drew from mythology to call for game-changing innovation from the IT industry.

One of the tasks we at the Mahindra Group have set ourselves is to aspire to be recognized as the most customer-centric organization in India, and why not, in the World!

In order to walk the talk, every time I’m asked to speak at a conference, I have made it a default option to ask what the audience–my customers–might expect of me.

And so I found myself wondering what this conclave of IT wizards expects from a predominantly right-brained character like myself. You certainly haven’t called me here to deliver a sermon on technology. And I wouldn’t even risk doing that with Nandan (Nilekani) and Kiran (Karnik) sharing the dais!

Of course, I might have been able to do that by getting one of my IT colleagues to write this speech, but then it would have been comprehensible to you, but incomprehensible to me!

And although the title of this session is ‘Building a Knowledge Economy for Growth’, I believe that a) All of you out there have helped build the foundations of a knowledge economy, so again, you don’t need me to pontificate to you about that and b) I think there are some urgent pressures and imperatives the industry has to deal with at this point.

So, I’m going to talk about something completely different: I will talk about the Trimurti.

Most of the Indians in this audience will know the Trimurti – the trinity in Indian mythology of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the sustainer and Shiva the destroyer. There is a wonderful depiction of this in stone, just ten kilometers across the bay, at Elephanta. Both as a businessman, and as someone who tends to see life in visual images, the Trimurti reminds me of India’s IT industry. Think of it.

You people have gone through a stage, where like Brahma, you created something out of nothing. You created a new and global industry. You created a service sector that is today, a major pillar of our GDP. But most importantly, you created a perception of a new India, both in the world and in Indian hearts and minds.

CK Prahalad once told me that in universities in America today, there are almost unfairly high expectations from Indian students, because there is a huge perception that all Indian students are brilliant, outstanding. You created that perception. And within India, what you created was self-belief. You showed us what Indians could do, and now the rest of India believes that Indians can do anything. Brahma created a physical landscape; you sowed the seeds of a new mental and psychological landscape. In that sense, you are truly the Brahmas of the age of liberalisation.

But creation is only the first phase. You then have to move on to the next phase of sustaining that creation – to the realm of Vishnu the preserver. Creation is a one-time affair. Sustaining that creation is obviously a longer haul, subject to many attacks and crises. Perhaps that is why Vishnu comes not in one, but in ten incarnations.

Every time there is a new danger, he changes his avatar to a form best suited to meet that danger. At various times he has come as a fish, as a tortoise, as a dwarf. But his most interesting avatar came when he had to fight the demon Hiranyakashyap. Hiranyakashyap was a bad guy, who had obtained an amazing boon from the gods. Neither man nor beast could kill him; he could not be killed by daylight or at nighttime, within his home or outside it, on the ground or in the sky. All this made him pretty invincible – he went on a rampage, and only Vishnu could tackle him.

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The IT industry today faces challenges every bit as complex as those Hiranyakashyap posed for Vishnu. It is hit by a macroeconomic tsunami of adverse currency changes, rapidly escalating costs in both salaries and infrastructure and inadequate talent pools below the tier 1 and 2 institutions.

At the Company level, firms are begin to feel the penalties of poor differentiation and lack of focus (trying to be all things to all people); and an over-emphasis on high volumes and price competition.

Suddenly, the industry seems to have fallen off its pedestal; You are facing your very own Hiranyakashyap.

It’s interesting to see how Vishnu dealt with him. How do you destroy someone who can’t be killed by man or beast, inside or outside, by day or night etc etc. The demon pretty much had all bases covered. So Vishnu took on the Narasimha avatar to bypass the boon. Narasimha was a hybrid creature, half man half lion, and therefore neither man nor beast.

He killed Hiranyakashyap at twilight, which is neither day nor night. He killed him in the courtyard, which is neither inside a house nor outside it. And he killed the demon by placing him across his knee and tearing him apart, thus circumventing the terms of the boon that he could not be killed either on the ground or in the sky. Now that’s what I call an innovative algorithm!

So what are the lessons for the IT industry in this story? Well, the first thing Vishnu did was to reinvent himself. It was not the gentle and contemplative Vishnu who fought Hiranyakashyap – it was the fearsome Narasimha avatar. Vishnu reinvented himself to suit the circumstances. The circumstances have changed drastically. Reinvent yourselves.

Do I have all the answers on the modes of re-invention? No, obviously not, otherwise I’d be out there filing patents, although I can suggest two broad approaches.

First, why don’t we design business models that challenge traditional industry approaches and then transform our organizations, people and processes to execute. If we simply keep knocking on the doors of clients with our traditional offshoring options, we’ll meet the fate of hearing aid salespersons: our best customers won’t hear the doobell!

For example, software-on-demand and open source models changed the rules of the software game. Can we not try to change the rules of the game this time around? Why didn’t we invent Zoom technology or Virtualisation? Thus far, India’s brand of innovation has been identified with the IT industry, but is it truly innovative. Is it really game changing? Ironically, you can now look to the old smokestack industries for inspiration.

A few weeks ago, an Indian car company made a game-changing move. Maybe the Nano will ultimately not retail for a hundred thousand rupees. Maybe it won’t have great margins, or replace as many motorcycles as it would like to, but it was a game changing move; it fired a shot that was heard around the world. Can the IT world make any such claim?

There was an old saying, apparently adopted by the IT industry that the secret of success is to jump every time opportunity knocks. And how do you know when opportunity knocks? You don’t, you just keep jumping!

So when are we going to stop simply jumping every time a client seems to sneeze, and actually create products and IP that become their own opportunities?

Let’s look at new areas where India may have natural advantage. I remember C.K Prahlad telling us that we didn’t realize how important it was to leverage emerging innovation ecosystems in our country. He gave us the example of how, due to a fortunate coincidence, India’s IT and automotive industries were situated in roughly the same geographic clusters. So why wasn’t, according to Michael Porter’s competitive theories, a world beating automotive telematics industry taking shape here.

Why aren’t IT companies using the massive potential of India’s soft power, the film and TV business to exploit technological dominance of what Telco’s call the ‘last mile’ but is actually the ‘first mile’ in the brave new interactive world?

Secondly, why don’t we try to focus on a vertical industry (e.g., telecom) or horizontal domain (e.g., supply chain management) selecting the key dimensions of competitive differentiation – product vs. service, breadth vs. depth, speed of delivery, customer service responsiveness, fixed or outcome-based pricing, proprietary technology or intellectual property, and so on.

And let’s be prepared to make hard decisions along the way – change people who don’t fit, walk away from businesses that doesn’t fit.

It’s essential, while attempting this, however, to recognize that focus, differentiation and brand building require time and investment. Selling value or doing business differently than the norm tends to elongate sales cycles, which tends to put pressure on cash flow and we need to resist the temptation to broaden our offerings or slash prices just to win the business and keep people busy.

Along with re-invention, during the course of reinventing himself, Vishnu figured out the loopholes in the boon, and regrouped his physical and mental aspects to take advantage of these loopholes. That’s something the IT industry can do as well. It’s often been pointed out that in the Chinese word for crisis is also the Chinese word for opportunity I love that mindset. I truly believe that the adverse rate of the dollar can be viewed as the glass half empty or the glass half full. Sure it affects margins. But it’s also a chance to take advantage of the loophole and buy yourselves what you don’t have, so that you can regroup your structure to meet the challenge.

To me the fact that our currency is more valuable and our price earnings ratios are still higher than average, means that we can acquire the front-ends and the large IT businesses that we never thought we could before. And the bigger the better. If people are egging us on to leapfrog, then they should also cheer as you bid for companies that seem bigger fish than you. It’s happening all the time today in the manufacturing sector—Tata Corus being the stellar example—and we at Mahindra, while starting from scratch, have inorganically compiled together a portfolio of acquisitions that make us the fourth largest steel forging company in the world today.

This is not without historical precedent. If you look at Japan and South Korea, both of them went through a phase of enduring the worlds’ skepticism, then painstakingly building strong and competent domestic businesses, and then on the back of global liquidity support and strong price earnings ratios, compressing time by acquiring global firms and their customer credibility.

In effect, by acquiring the strengths and skill sets you need, you will regroup your profile and create a new entity, which can vanquish your challenges as effectively as Vishnu vanquished Hiranyakashyap.

And finally, while reinventing yourselves, you will have to bring in some of the aspects of the third element of the Trimurti – that of Shiva the destroyer.

Destroy for example the premise that cost arbitrage is the way to go. Recognize that the low cost, high volume offshore outsourcing battle has already been fought and won. Often, when strategic frames grow rigid, companies, like countries, tend to keep fighting the LAST war. If you are not already on the winners list, you need to think of other ways to compete on value and differentiation, rather than price and scale.

Destroy the premise that success comes only from size, and desist from comparisons with other Indian companies. There are still many IT companies in India who define success as “we want to be one of the top ten Indian IT companies”. Why not, for example, “we want to be the world’s #1 banking back office solutions provider”?

And lastly, perhaps the time has come to destroy the notion that the world may be your oyster but India is not. There is a huge domestic market in middle class and corporate India that has not been plumbed. Even selling to the bottom of the pyramid is profitable today. But it needs a creative destruction of the current mindset and a re-think on many of the assumptions we hold dear.

So, in conclusion, perhaps there really isn’t that much distance between avatars in the mythological sense and avatars in the technology sense. Perhaps they are both symbolic expressions of the same reality. In their different ways, they both underline the same message – that it is necessary in any situation to reinvent, regroup and re-think our way out of whatever challenges confront us.

I’d like to close with one of my favourite quotes—such a favourite, that I can’t even remember where I first read it:

My father thought the world would be same;

My children, however, wake up EVERY day thinking the world will be different.

Let’s begin emulating our children. Time to wake up and make the world different.

(Anand Mahindra’s speech at Nasscom Leadership Summit on February 13 th , 2008)

Make your own calendar

April 25, 2008

Create a printable monthly calendar using your photographs and make your own recycled display case. Plan ahead! Impress your friends with your pre-cognitive powers! All you need is a photo from that fancy digital camera of yours. Heck, go nuts and make a whole year.

Killing English Language

April 23, 2008

Chairman of Self financing Engineering Colleges Association, who is always speaking in English … here are some classic English sentences from him.

The stalwart talks to his students:

# At the ground:—————–

All of you stand in a straight circle. There is no wind in the balloon. The girl with the mirror please comes her…{Means: girl with specs please come here).

# To a boy, angrily: ———————

I talk, he talk, why you middle middle talk?

# While punishing students: ———————–

You, rotate the ground four times… You, go and understand the tree… You three of you stand together separately. Why are y ou late – say YES or NO …..(?)

# Sir at his best: —————

Sir had once gone to a film with his wife. By chance, he happened to see one of our boys at the theatre, though the boy did no t see them. So the next day at s school… (to that boy) – “Yesterday I saw you WITH MY WIFE at the Cinema Theatre”

# Sir at his best inside the Class room: ———————————————-

Open the doors of the window. Let the atmosphere come in. Open the doors of the window. Let the Air Force come in. Cut an apple into two halves – I will take the bigger half. Shhh…Quiet, boys…the principal JUST PASSED AWAY in the corridor You, meet me behind the class. (Meaning AFTER the class..) “Both of u three get out of the class.” Close the doors of the windows please. I have winter in my nose today… Take Copper Wire of any metal especially of Silver….. Take 5 cm wire of any length….

Last but not the least some Jeppi ar experiences … —————————————————————–

Once Sir had come late to a college function, by the time he reached, the function had begun, so he went to the dais, and said, sorry I am late, because on the way my car hit 2 muttons (Meaning goats).

At Sathyabama college day 2002: ———————————————-

“This college strict u the worry no …. U get good marks, I the happy, tomorrow u get good job, jpr the happy, tomorrow u marry I the enjoy”

At St. Josephs fresh years day 2003: ———————————————-

“No ragging this college. Anybody rag we arrest the police”

Our minister for youth affairs is 71!

April 22, 2008
How do you define ‘youth’? The median age of our nation is 24.8, and those below fifteen are 31.8 per cent of the population. China, our nearest neighbour, has a median age of 33.2 and only 20.4 per cent of its people are under fifteen. Whichever way you look at it India is a very young nation, something known to Dr Manmohan Singh, who made his living by dabbling in statistics.

So whom does our scholarly prime minister appoint as minister for youth affairs and sports? A man who faces 72 candles on the birthday cake two months from today! Can you think of anything sillier?

Actually, ‘silly’ is not the word for this particular appointment; I think ‘dangerous’ might be the better choice of word. Because the man in question is none other than that former Chief Election Commissioner Dr M S Gill, and in appointing him the prime minister has crossed a line.

It is impossible in a parliamentary system to sever the links between the executive and the legislative wings of the state. Knowing this, the makers of the Constitution set up checks, so that parliamentary democracy would not turn into executive tyranny.

Chief among these, of course, is the higher judiciary (not just the Supreme Court but the high courts too), which were given a large measure of immunity from the whims of the executive. But that was not all, certain other institutions were created to exercise a supervisory role over the government. These include the Election Commission and the office of the Comptroller & Auditor General.

We take it for granted that legislators and ministers are inherently biased, that is part and parcel of electoral democracy. But we also take it for granted that their Lordships and the election commissioners are painfully scrupulous. We may grumble at their decisions but we also accept that they were made in absolute good faith.

That faith has been shaken in the past decade. In 1997, former Chief Election Commissioner T N Seshan stood for the presidency with the backing of the Shiv Sena. In 1999, he crossed the floor, happily taking a Congress ticket to stand from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat against L K Advani.

I suppose taking Bal Thackeray’s blessings in 1997 and then accepting Sonia Gandhi as the supremo in 1999 proves that T N Seshan is completely without prejudice about ideology! But was this really expected of the man who spoke so much on the Model Code of Conduct?

T N Seshan crossed a line; his successor has gone so far that the line is totally invisible. M S Gill happily accepted a Congress ticket to stand from Punjab for the Rajya Sabha. Now he has gone farther down that path, cheerfully accepting a post as minister. Life begins at forty but ministerial life starts at 71, right minister?

What exactly has M S Gill gained? The right to a ministerial bungalow? A few cars with flashing red lights? A score of assistants? But will any of it carry a fraction of the respect he commanded from 1996 to 2001?

We trusted M S Gill to be above politics and he turned out to be just another Congressman. Can you ever again look at Nirvachan Sadan without wondering how many budding Congress, BJP, or CPI-M ministers are sitting inside?

But why should we blame M S Gill alone? Constitutionally, it is the prime minister who chooses his ministerial colleagues. And so, reluctantly, we must cast a spotlight on the political morality of that other ‘MS’, Manmohan Singh.

What exactly, Mr Prime Minister, was the crisis that led you to overturn decades of political tradition to appoint a former Chief Election Commissioner as your minister? One might have understood if there was something of utter urgency that required specific administrative talents that only M S Gill possesses?

But Shri Gill has not been made the Union home minister or the external affairs minister, has he? He has been granted the portfolio of sports and youth affairs, and that too not even as a full-blown Cabinet minister but as a mere minister of state!

It suddenly strikes me that our prime minister might not even understand the implications of his actions. Don’t forget that Dr Manmohan Singh’s instincts are those of a bureaucrat, that he is a prime minister without a mandate.

Dr Manmohan Singh is a Punjabi, but he was sent to the Upper House from Assam, swearing without a blush that he is a resident of ‘House No 3989, Nandan Nagar, Ward No 51, Sarumataria, Dispur, Guwahati’.

We claim to follow the British system of parliamentary democracy. But it has been more than a hundred years since there was a British prime minister from the House of Lords; every single one of them since Lord Salisbury demitted office has been from the House of Commons, which is to say that he or she was directly elected.

Has Dr Manmohan Singh ever stood before the people to ask for votes? He did so just once, in 1999, and went down in flames. Having endured the humiliation of defeat, Dr Manmohan Singh has barely ventured out of the air-conditioned comforts of the Rajya Sabha and South Block.

Dr Manmohan Singh’s scholarly and administrative talents may be immense. His personal incorruptibility is absolutely beyond question. But there is a democratic deficit at the heart of his prime ministership.

In about a month-and-a-half as I write, it will be four years since Dr Manmohan Singh went to Race Course Road — which is to say that it will be four years since India had a popularly-elected chief executive. That would never be tolerated in the United States, or Britain, or France, or any other democracy.

The essence of democracy is allowing the people to choose their own rulers. The mechanism is free and fair polling. There is a pattern in his behaviour, whether refusing to stand for the Lok Sabha or appointing M S Gill as a minister — and it reveals a disturbing disdain for democratic procedure.

In 1804, faced with universal criticism after the execution of the Duc d’Enghien, Napoleon grumbled that he had just followed the letter of the law. To which Talleyrand responded, ‘It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder.’

A prime minister sitting in the Rajya Sabha and a former chief election commissioner joining party politics are not crimes, Dr Manmohan Singh, but they are certainly blunders.

Indian Premier League – Schedule

April 22, 2008




Friday 18 April

8:00 PM

Bangalore Royal Challengers vs Kolkata Knight Riders


Saturday 19 April

5:00 PM

Kings XI Punjab vs Chennai Super Kings


8:30 PM

Delhi Daredevils vs Rajasthan Royals


Sunday 20 April

4:00 PM

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Deccan Chargers


8:00 PM

Mumbai Indians vs Bangalore Royal Challengers


Monday 21 April

8:00 PM

Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab


Tuesday 22 April

8:00 PM

Deccan Chargers vs Delhi Daredevils


Wednesday 23 April

8:00 PM

Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians


Thursday 24 April

8:00 PM

Deccan Chargers vs Rajasthan Royals


Friday 25 April

8:00 PM

Kings XI Punjab vs Mumbai Indians


Saturday 26 April

4:00 PM

Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders


8:00 PM

Bangalore Royal Challengers vs Rajasthan Royals


Sunday 27 April

4:00 PM

Kings XI Punjab vs Delhi Daredevils


8:00 PM

Mumbai Indians vs Deccan Chargers


Monday 28 April

8:00 PM

Bangalore Royal Challengers vs Chennai Super Kings


Tuesday 29 April

8:00 PM

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Mumbai Indians


Wednesday 30 April

8:00 PM

Delhi Daredevils vs Bangalore Royal Challengers


Thursday 1 May

4:00 PM

Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders


8:00 PM

Deccan Chargers vs Kings XI Punjab


Friday 2 May

8:00 PM

Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils


Saturday 3 May

4:00 PM

Bangalore Royal Challengers vs Deccan Chargers


8:00 PM

Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders


Sunday 4 May

4:00 PM

Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Daredevils


8:00 PM

Rajasthan Royals vs Chennai Super Kings


Monday 5 May

8:00 PM

Bangalore Royal Challengers vs Kings XI Punjab


Tuesday 6 May

8:00 PM

Chennai Super Kings vs Deccan Chargers


Wednesday 7 May

8:00 PM

Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals


Thursday 8 May

4:00 PM

Delhi Daredevils vs Chennai Super Kings


8:00 PM

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Bangalore Royal Challengers


Friday 9 May

8:00 PM

Rajasthan Royals vs Deccan Chargers


Saturday 10 May

8:00 PM

Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab


Sunday 11 May

4:00 PM

Deccan Chargers vs Kolkata Knight Riders


8:00 PM

Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Daredevils


Monday 12 May

8:00 PM

Kings XI Punjab vs Bangalore Royal Challengers


Tuesday 13 May

8:00 PM

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils


Wednesday 14 May

8:00 PM

Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings


Thursday 15 May

8:00 PM

Delhi Daredevils vs Deccan Chargers


Friday 16 May

8:00 PM

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders


Saturday 17 May

4:00 PM

Rajasthan Royals vs Bangalore Royal Challengers


8:00 PM

Delhi Daredevils vs Kings XI Punjab


Sunday 18 May

4:00 PM

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings


8:00 PM

Deccan Chargers vs Mumbai Indians


Monday 19 May

8:00 PM

Bangalore Royal Challengers vs Delhi Daredevils


Tuesday 20 May

8:00 PM

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals


Wednesday 21 May

4:00 PM

Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab


8:00 PM

Chennai Super Kings vs Bangalore Royal Challengers


Thursday 22 May

8:00 PM

Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders


Friday 23 May

8:00 PM

Kings XI Punjab vs Deccan Chargers


Saturday 24 May

4:00 PM

Chennai Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals


8:00 PM

Delhi Daredevils vs Mumbai Indians


Sunday 25 May

4:00 PM

Deccan Chargers vs Bangalore Royal Challengers


8:00 PM

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab


Monday 26 May

8:00 PM

Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians


Tuesday 27 May

8:00 PM

Deccan Chargers vs Chennai Super Kings


Wednesday 28 May

4:00 PM

Bangalore Royal Challengers vs Mumbai Indians


8:00 PM

Kings XI Punjab vs Rajasthan Royals


Friday 30 May

8:00 PM

1st Semi-final


Saturday 31 May

8:00 PM

2nd Semi-final


Sunday 1 June

8:00 PM