Friday, January 30, 2009

Mega Ponzi Scheme ...

I was reading an article recently where the author while acknowledging that the US was in terrible financial shape, was quite confused on how the country got into this mess.

Its quite simple really - The US, and most other countries, in the last few years started operating like a giant ponzi scheme with new borrowing servicing old commitments. The entire world, and not just Madoff is guilty.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Satyam's SOS ....

I am sure you know everything that there is to know about the Satyam fiasco.

I was thinking about this earlier today and I think the following folks can't pull Satyam out of this abyss and execute a turn-around:

Not Ram Mynampati (no pedigree), Azim Premji nor Narayanamurthy (not enough energy).

There is one person who would be perfect: Vivek Paul.

ex-Vice Chairman, Wipro
Currently, Partner, Texas Pacific Group (Private Equity)

This is one move that would solve almost every issue:
  • Strong leadership - Paul's experience at GE Medical Systems and Wipro (where he was the principle driver in their growth from 250 MM to 1 Billion)
  • Energy/Focus - Paul is said to be able to do in 8 hours what Ashok Soota and other ex-colleagues at Wipro took 20 hours to do
  • Access to funds - Texas Pacific Group (his current employer) has the deep pockets to provide liquidity
  • Pedigree - This would provide a great level of confidence amongst Satyam clients
  • His ambitions - It is said that he left Wipro because Premji brought his son onboard and this would prevent him from being a true CEO. This would be a great way for him to become CEO of a business that he knows in and out
  • GE - One of Satyam's biggest clients is GE and Paul's ex-boss at GE Medical, Jeff Immelt is now GE's CEO - This should help in retaining and even growing the GE relationship

There are probably many other reasons why this makes sense. Mr. Paul, are you listening?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

India turns left: And falls into a ravine.

I predicted that this would happen about two years ago. The Lok Sabha elections had just finished and it looked like the Congress had formed a stable government that could last a full term - I knew then that it was the fucking communists that would ruin things.

Their hunger for power is similar to the sexual excesses of spiritual gurus who "shun material pleasures". Anyone who claims to be "holier than thou" and abstains from "immoral" activities is most likely to be the one indulging in it. Look at the Catholic church, Republican senators and Indian spiritual leaders.

How hungry are the communists for power that they would topple a government, with the help of Mayawati no less!

Fucking cretins. Can they not just stay content with their stupid hartals supporting Saddam Hussein (of all people!). Kerala and West Bengal are the poster boys of lost opportunities - A literate, urbane workforce denied opportunities repeatedly - Opportunities that have instead gone to their neighbours.

Give me an openly immoral government any day - Anything is better than these big fat humbug communists - Sleeping on the floor and determined to ensure that the entire country will sleep on the floor forever. Progress is not something to be ashamed off and sadomasochistic self-denial and aversion to growth is nothing to be proud off.

If only we could hand over West Bengal and Kerala to the Chinese. Some nice 12 hour workdays would break the balls of these theoretical nut cases.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Everyone gets what they deserve ....

Have you heard of the old adage, "People get the government that they deserve" - So true! I really do think that the average Indian/Italian/Mexican is much more prone to blatant bribery than an equivalent person in another country, and thereby end up with politicians who openly demand and obtain bribes.

As an extension to this, I would like to suggest that "Drivers get the road they deserve". People crib all the time about the poor roads in India. Maybe it is just god's way of protecting people from poor drivers, by artificially limiting the maximum speed. Can you imagine what would happen if pristine roads suddenly appeared in the middle of Chennai and our lorry drivers and 16 year old spolit brats were released onto them? I can imagine the bloodbath that would lead to ....

So be careful what you wish for .... I am not sure what is worse - An uncomfortable, bone rattling drive from Chennai to Madurai at 60 kmph or being passed by a drunk lorry driver at 180 kmph .....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Burka for Sania Mirza?

.... from my guest columnist, Minu.

I am watching the reactions to Sania Mirza refusing to play in the Bangalore Open. On one hand, I think she should play in the Bangalore event, since it is on home ground and it could help her gain important points, which can see her move up in WTA ranking. Sania does not want to play as she is afraid that there will be more controversy.

I think the media should concentrate more on the game than on her clothes and her apparent disrespect to the national flag. We see burka clad women take to the streets asking sania to stop playing for the country. The reason? Her clothes do not conform to Muslim standards. How many of these women are athletes or representing India in any kind of sport?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto. II

Will US news agencies kindly stop blustering about the three possible ways in which Bhutto might have been killed? Shes dead, and its the starting point of a disaster. Start thinking about solving that problem. You are not reporting Britney Spears' DUI here.


I am not quite sure that the average citizen understands just how incredibly bad the situation is, in Pakistan. For a very long time, I have thought that Pakistan is the most dangerous place in the world (along with Russia)

This thought was just by a simple line extension - Any country whose government the US Government supports (in the hope that the issue just slinks away) tends to become a trouble center. Iran (Shah of Iran), Afghanistan (the US supported the Taliban against the Russians - featured in the movie "Charlie Wilson's War"), Iraq (who do you think armed Saddam in his far against the Kurds?), Cuba and a variety of other banana republics.

Benazir Bhutto was incredibly flawed, but her assasination clearly shows the double game that Musharaff has been playing - Pandering to the US, pandering to the Mullahs. However, his time is limited. Pakistan is soon going to go the way of Palestine, with a democratically elected extremist government.

And what does George Bush do?
  • Looks Putin in the eye and declares that he is a "good guy".
  • Gives Pakistan $10 Billion to fight against the Taliban - USA, please understand that unless you fight against the enemy yourself, there is no point - No more proxy wars please. Prediction: Hamid Karzai's Northern Alliance is going to be the terrorists of 10 years later
  • Puts a 25 Million dollar bounty on Osama's head - Are you kidding me! Is the US Intelligence so dumb that they would believe that someone would give away Osama's location for money - They would be dead in a few days

The root problem is that the US apparently does not have access to enough people who can think like Middle Easterners/Asians. Unless the US stops interacting with them expecting that they will want the same thing as Americans, the same problems are going to exist - Forever.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MTV Arabia ...

These idiotic talking heads on US media drive me nuts. At the airport today (enroute to Puerto Rico with the missus!), there was a 30 minute program on which "terrorism analysts" were talking with unbelievable energy about how MTV Arabia was going to convert the would be terrorists into yet another legion in the I love the US bandwagon ...

What utter rot!

The only folks watching MTV Arabia in the Middle East are the ones who are already liberal to the extent that they would never consider blowing themselves up for the sake of religion. They will be the ones booking themselves on the first flight to the US when they graduate. The true nutjobs that turn into suicide bombers would never ever consider watching cable TV, leave along MTV Arabia.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kanye vs 50 Cent

One of the most talked about events in the hip-hop community has been the well-publicized stand-off between performers Kanye West and 50 Cent.

Both of them were scheduled to release an album on the same day, and 50 cent threw down the gauntlet and said that he would stop singing if Kanye outsold him by the 11th of September.

What an amazing marketing move! Both albums, mediocre though they were, sold much more than they normally would have. Kanye's album had the top sales/week ever.

And more money was pulled from minimum wage earners who could really have spent the 2 X 17.99$ on things like medical care .....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Airport Indiscretions ...

.... No, this is not a post about the esteemed Senator from Idaho, Larry Craig!

I am constantly amazed by the conversations that I overhear at airport lounges - People seem to be carried away by the aura of anonymity that airports in specific and travel in general provides and often reveal what I would consider extremely confidential information while speaking on the phone.

I have heard salespeople talking about margins they are making off specific clients, I have heard executives discussing the case of a colleague who they believed was sexually harassing a subordinate and any number of other sensitive information.

What if your competition was sitting in the next lounger in the airport?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Overcooked Apple Pie?!

I think Apple's Marketing/Product Development team has lost it. Completely.

Take the iPhone for example - I saw it the day it was launched, and although it had a lot of "cool" stuff, I realized that functionality-wise it was at the same level as an Apple laptop - Very slick interface, very well designed widgets - But lacking is actual utility.

Making a simple phone call was difficult - And typing on that god-awful touch screen key pad - Dreadul! .... And then and there I thanked the good Lord for the Blackberries in my life !!

In my mind, the iPhone would only do well soon after its launch, because the buzz surrounding it would ensure that the million or so folks that live on technology's cutting edge would each buy it.

After that threshold, I predicted that sales would drop off - Once the novelty factor was lost, it would lose most of its appeal. And that is exactly what happened.

And then Apple jumped and cut their prices by $200! What a bad move ... the iPhone was now likely to cannibalize iPod sales.

And then Apple re-designs the iPod to look almost exactly like the iPhone. Geez, three strikes and you are OUT. The thing that is going to sustain Apple is their computers.

Disclosure: I have owned five Blackberries so far and they are the best email device by a HUGE margin.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pet Peeve

I absolutely detest bluetooth headsets. I do not understand the logic of using them in airports where you have both your hands free. These headsets don't even work, so the users have to scream every word and the rest of the folks are made unwilling participants to someone's domestic arguments or corporate bull shit.

I hate them, with their annoying flashing light (UFO-like) and for making their users seem like crazy people talking to themselves ....

And one more thing - I think bluetooth users feel obligated to make calls even when they don't really have a reason to make one. Of course, if I wore a piece of plastic on my ear the whole day, I would probably do the same ....

No bluetooth in airports! That's a one point manifesto I could get behind.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Simple Lifestyle.

I truly enjoy my simple lifestyle, free from frills. I only wish to be rich so this lifestyle can be a virtue ....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Skin Color as a proxy

This morning, I was reading a post by my sister-in-law, the multi-faceted Nandita A about her unhappiness about how skin color was used as a comedy ruse in the recent blockbuster "Sivaji".

The whole of India (and in fact the world) is quite obsessed with skin color. History is full of colonizers invading countries and attempting to impart their "culture"/"education"/"religion" or "values". And invariably, the invading nation has the fairer skin (with a few exceptions).

The treatment of blacks/native Americans in the US in the past, Hitler's obsession with white skins/blue eyes are other examples of this obsession.

Black skin is assumed to denote an inferior person ... For example, our Hindu caste system although supposedly based on occupation (warrior, trader etc) is really based on color - Kshatriya, Brahmin etc are all "varnas" - which means "color" in sanskrit. Essentially, our dumb caste system was based on skin color.

And I guess subconsciously, the desire to get married to fair people/get fair daughter's in law etc is really a subsconscious attempt to elevate one's social status. The fairer the family, the higher the social standing. Skin color as a proxy for achievement :-)

Even amongst the Nadars, I guess there is discrimination against the darker skinned people from the deep-South districts (Nagercoil, Tirunelveli etc) and the first generation rich from the deep south attempt to whitewash their modest past by acquiring the fairest daughters in law.

It's sad but true. And of course, movies are only a mirror on society - So, there is no point blaming Sivaji, the movie - It is us all that allows the perpetuation of the color based disrimination and humor. And in any case, there is no kind of humor that is uniformly kind to every type of person.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Flights in the US

Flights in the US are supposed to the most bare-boned of them all - Service on most flights is just a little bit above Air Deccan levels - With a tiny bag of pretzels and a few drops of soda being the pretty much the summary of inflight service.

Apparently, things were a lot better before 9/11, but I am unable to comment on that as my flight in the US was in 2002.

Recently, I was on an American Airlines flight where a passenger asked for a pillow. He was told that pillows were not free anymore - He could "buy" the pillow if he wanted and take it home!

I am waiting for the day when you have to buy your own seatbelt ... Or worse still, imagine the pilot making this announcement - "This is an emergency, there is low pressure in the cabin, please swipe your credit card for oxygen!"