Monday, January 31, 2011

Thought for the day

"There is a general belief that accidents happen only to other people. But for other people, we are the other people." - Unknown origin

(Thanks to my friend Prabodh for sharing this) 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

5 point program to eliminate black money!

As per news reports, the Government has set up a panel to examine if an Amnesty Scheme should be announced to tackle black money. Read the news report here.

The Finance Minister detailed a 5 point strategy to combat the menace. Here is my take on what the 5-point strategy would look like:

  1. Appoint a committee to examine if black money exists.
    1. If the committee concludes black money does not exist (i.e. “there is no proof”), close the matter.
    2. If the committee concludes black money exists, go to point no. 2.

  1. Examine if the black money resides in India or abroad.
    1. If the money resides abroad, declare that nothing can be done and close the matter
    2. If the committee finds that black money resides in India, go to point no. 3.

  1. Ask the committee to examine if something can be done to make black money disappear.
    1. If the committee says nothing can be done and black money is a worldwide phenomenon, close the matter.
    2. If the committee says something can be done, go to point no. 4.

  1. Announce an amnesty scheme, which will allow people to convert their black money into white.
    1. If the scheme meets with a poor response, announce that black money DOES NOT EXIST, otherwise it would have met with a good response.
    2. If the scheme meets with a good response, go to point no. 5.

  1. Announce that NOW black money does not exist, since all black money has become white.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I've got a UID !

Well, almost!

In case you are wondering whether I happened to sit next to Nandan Nilekani on a flight, and he was kind enough to give me a UID ‘out of turn’, let me clarify – that is not the case.

Well, Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is here! After years of dilly-dallying, Mobile Number Portability has finally seen the light of the day. The one technological advancement that I suppose the big boys of cellular telephony hated the most, and must have tried every trick in the book to block, has finally arrived! In theory at least. I can at last hope to get rid of Airtel, and yet retain my mobile number. From now on, the number is mine - for the rest of my life!

I hope it works, the way it is intended to be. There may be initial glitches, but so what? Sooner or later, it will start working. I’m going to try it out soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Industry captains write a letter - addressed to nobody

A group of 14 prominent and highly respected citizens, which includes the likes of HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh, ex-ICICI Chairman N.Vaghul, Wipro Promoter Azim Premji, ex-RBI Governor Bimal Jalan, Mahindra & Mahindra Promoter Keshub Mahindra etc have come out with an “open letter to our leaders  expressing grave concern at the ‘governance deficit’ in government, business and institutions. They have voiced their concern on issues such as rampant corruption, widespread discretionary decision making, ‘extraneous influences’ and the like.

Read the full letter here or the news reports here.

It is true that Manmohan Singh’s Government is proving to be one of the worst governments in recent memory, with failures not just on the political front (terrorism, naxalism, Kashmir, North - East etc), but also on the economic front. One would have at least expected better economic management of the country with an economist Prime Minister at the helm. Instead, food prices are doubling every few months.

But what to make of this letter written by the captains of the industry?

Agreed, these individuals themselves may be clean, but only the most na├»ve will believe that they are unaware of what is going on in the highest echelons of power. The nexus between politicians – industrialists – bureaucrats – journalists has been well known, and stings like Niira Radia tapes amply prove that everyone is hand in glove in looting the nation. Instead of writing a letter, which is addressed to nobody in particular (an open letter “to our leaders” – why not say to whom?? Who are “our leaders”, what is their name??), these people should come forward and make open disclosures exposing the corrupt. The investigating agencies will be under pressure to investigate and find out the proof. For example, in one of the Niira Radia tapes, ex-CII Chief Tarun Das has talked about Kamal Nath (Minister of Road Transport & Highways) “making his 15%”. Obviously, Das knows what he is talking about. Why can’t he go to the CBI, or the ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau) and lodge a complaint? Is Deepak Parekh not aware of a single instance of the builder – politician nexus? Why has he not exposed them? What has he done to stop the flow of black money in the real estate industry?

Agreed, these individuals are themselves citizens with high standards of integrity. But this “open letter to our leaders” means nothing to me. In fact, the very fact that the letter is not addressed to anyone in particular, such as the Prime Minister, or “Madam”, or whoever else “our leaders” are, shows an intent to remain in the ‘good books’ of these very leaders who are responsible for this ‘governance deficit’.

To me, this letter is a farce that will achieve little other than a couple of claps from fellow journalist friends. Let them not fool us that these guys have done something great. Let us not clap at this farcical exercise.

Friday, January 14, 2011

25 ways to improve your life!

Arty of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is currently in Mumbai. On this occasion, I give below a short write up on “25 ways to improve your life”, taken from his teachings.

  1. Review the context of your life. Know that span of life is insignificant. In terms of space, you don’t even exist! 
  1. Know life’s impermanence. Past is like a dream. It has already passed
  1. Make your smile cheaper. Smile more! Somebody said something stupid to you. Because they had some garbage to throw. Don’t catch it! 
  1. Be enthusiastic and praise others
  1. Make meditation a part of your life. Meditation is the art of doing nothing. Let go the anger of the past and planning for the future
  1. Go to the most beautiful place on earth – within you! Take one week off every year. 
  1. Communicate effectively 
  1. Take some time out for yourself – daily 10 minutes at least
  1. Make a commitment to make this world a better place 
  1. Nourish your emotions – through music, prayer and service. 
  1. Plan short and long term goals 
  1. Prayer is a vital tool. What you can do, you do. What you cannot do, you pray for! 
  1. Implement changes if needed. Don’t be afraid of change 
  1. Identify your limitations 
  1. Do not loose your friends 
  1. Don’t look for perfection 
  1. Let us be unpredictable 
  1. Have a sense of humour. Don’t take life too seriously
  1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes 
  1. Overcome your prejudice 
  1. Feel that “I’m blessed” 
  1. Do random acts of kindness 
  1. Be a student, always 
  1. Dream the impossible 
  1. Compare your performance with past

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Surprise guest!

As temperature dipped to 12.6 degrees in Mumbai, a street kitten walked into our house this morning, causing excitement among Aparna and Aruna. We gave her some milk to drink, and a cozy place to sleep. After a while, with some rest and playing around here and there, the kitten walked away…