Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Mahabaleshwar Trip...

In the geography lessons in our ‘bachpan’ we learnt that the central India was a plateau. In exams it was generally followed by a definition of plateau. Till this weekend, it was only a picture of plateau that I had in mind. Some 15 years later, on the trip to Mahabaleshwar, I saw it for real!
A Text Book definition of a Plateau on display

The place was magnificent. Hills plus water form a deadly combo and it was on display in plenty. The rivers originated and meandered at a leisure pace through the flattened hills, providing abundant photo ops.

The Meandering River from top

The view reversed. In the middle of the river

Another highlight of the place was Strawberry. There were numerous farms growing the red fruit. There were different utilizations – in jams, ice creams etc. But the favorite was strawberry cream. It is tough to resist despite being relatively high priced. Needless to say, we had more than one.

Strawberry Fields

Along with geography we also had history lessons. A visit to Pratapgarh fort highlighted the violent, brave and strategic history of the place. Guess modern architectures have plenty to learn from the old forts of India. Also, MBA’s can learn a lot of strategy from the history. I wonder how the meetings took place at those times. I am sure concepts of Team work at those times would have good theories which could be used in the modern era.

1 thing that I sorely missed was Para gliding. It was first on my To-Do List on the visit. But unfortunately we went during off season and the para gliding was off. So have to wait for it.!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Struggle..... Survive Rise Fight and..

....Find a Way.

1. A Hut in the middle of the Jungle - Mumbai
2. Sunrise - Shimla.
3. Struggle between Darkness and Light - Mysore
4. A path to Nowhere - Somewhere in Karnataka

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Below the surface!!

It was the University day in our college today. Having to come to college for a half day seminar on “India’s Tryst with Urbanization” in the middle of our Trimester examinations had left most of us irate. But what we got was worth the time. The last speaker on the forum was Dr. Jairaj Phatak - Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai. It was a rare opportunity when we got to listen to the Government Perspective of things. He spoke extensively on the problems and some facts, which are perceived wrongly by the common public but which are much deeper than what looks on the surface and are in fact good for public. We should have made extensive notes on his speech but alas, by not taking the seminar seriously, we were carrying iPods, books, Newspapers to pass time. Some of the things which made impact and I can remember are as follows:

1. The topic was on the financial powers of the Municipal Corporation and if techniques like Public bonds (Ahmedabad Corporation is using this technique) can be used to gather more money to be used for city development. Dr. Phatak remarked that Mumbai MC was a quite rich and had surplus equivalent to a year’s budget. But the problem was that we are a democracy and though he can sanction crores of rupees but he has to consult with the advisory bodies consisting of MLA’s, MP’s etc. And it is there that the problem lies. But in a sense that is good too. It is the 2 sides of the democracy. On one hand it binds your hands and on the other hand, if such checks were not there it would lead to autocracy and free will of some people.

2. An interesting incident he told was where he prevented constructing individual rooms in a Government Hospital. Normally it would look ridiculous that the development of a hospital is being stopped and Government/MC is not acting for the benefit of ‘common man’. But there was a reason. Had the big dormitories (which house 6 – 8 patient beds in a room) been converted into rooms, it would have led to richer people to get admitted in the hospital. Consider this. Would you, a well to do person, prefer going to a private hospital or get admitted in a hospital where you are lying in alongside 6 others who may be a rickshaw puller or a laborer. Of course, we would want a better hospital. Had the dormitories been converted into rooms, people like us wouldn’t have minded going to the ‘cheaper’ Govt Hospitals, which again would have led to people with rooms getting preference of the doctors, nurses (we pay more.. we should get better service!!). Result: neglecting some unfortunate ones who also demand attention.

3. Another fascinating reason was behind the queues we see at the Ration Shops for rice, wheat, kerosene etc. It is actually designed such that there SHOULD be queues at such a place. It is a way of providing subsidies to only those who need it. Say, the subsidy provided on rice is Rs 20. And due to the queue it takes around 1 hour to get the rice at a ration shop. Now only that person will go there whose value of that 1 hour is less than Rs 20. If I can utilize my 1 hour doing something which will earn me more than Rs 20 (this is a hypothetical number) in that hour, ideally I do not need that benefit. If this doesn’t happen then there can be a case where a daily wage earner after saving Rs 200 for the whole month goes to the ration shop to get subsidized rice and finds that all of it has gone. Taken away by people who actually don’t need it. Hence, the Queues !!!

There were many other issues, cases he touched upon like Pavement dwellers, cross subsidies and lots and lots of figures and facts. The vastness of the knowledge and ability to link seemingly different things were displayed by Dr. Phatak with panache. Though MBA may have left the charm of IAS far behind, but I guess IAS officers are far much knowledgeable, well read and effective than many of the Business Managers. I was impressed. And so were my batch mates which was evident from the applause which continued for quite some time after his presentation.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!!

It’s that time of the year again – when you look back at the past 365 days and wonder how quickly or how slowly they have passed. Most of the times in the past, I have felt that the year has passed very quickly. It was like yesterday when I did this in January or that in March. But not this time. 2007 was a long year and it was one hell of a roller coaster ride. As it was difficult to recall all that happened in the year, I had to consult my previous blogs to remind me. But that was also not possible. Cuckoo, sometime in 2007 had gone a week without the internet and I had wondered how!! But it has been the same case with me. There has been virtually no connection with the outside world for the past few days. In fact I don’t know when I will be publishing this. The need was also not felt during these days as I was busy doing something I had not done during the whole trimester – Studying!

When you read subjects like Macroeconomics – the nitty gritty of inflations, interest rates, tax cuts, GDP and all, you feel that it should have been studied at ease during the sem, not hurriedly when exams are on head. But nevertheless, I am not regretting. I had certain plans for this trimester (of course studies were not a part) and I was able to follow the plans. Coming back to the bigger picture called the year 2007; I have to rely on my memory as the reference blogs are not available. The year had started out near a fireplace in Shimla. Upswings had started with a good CAT result – but it was not that good. Some other calls and February passed in preparation of GD’s, PI’s and trips to Mumbai, Pune, Delhi. March came with a successful conversion of a call at NM. It was also a time of coming together of some old school friends. With it started an attempt to make a short movie (which ultimately didn’t materialize) and rekindling of the college days or I should say Cricket days. The crash of India early out of the WC didn’t hamper our spirits to play. India, though redeemed themselves later in the year with a T20 world cup win. The fun, meanwhile continued in April which was marked by an important event of me giving my official resignation at Infosys. It was also start of Shaadi time. April end saw Rompy getting engaged and May saw Thakur tying the knot. End of year, also saw the all important occasion of Punnu and Neetu becoming soul mates. The marriage season continues in 2008 with Rompy getting out in February'08.

June started a different life altogether – life at Mumbai, life at a Management Institute. Well, to be frank, the college has not given the same feeling that my graduation college, PEC gave. That feeling of closeness and fondness which I have for PEC is not prevalent for NMIMS till now. The reason for that, I guess is a lack of proper campus. If you don’t feel like staying in the college after classes get over, that bond with the college is not possible. Anyways the life @MBA has been hectic and quite enjoyable mainly due to the people around. I had only 1 friend when I came to Mumbai and it has grown mani-manifold to an uncountable number. In addition, there is the roller coaster ride called student life. The fun filled excursions and parties to the scary time of Job hunting. From winning competitions to exam time rigor. From sleeping in class to sleepless nights. It’s been fun.

2003 was one of the most important year of life – it was when I got my 1st job. 5 years later comes a more important year and I hope when I write a similar piece next time, it will be a ‘employed’ me who will be writing it. So here’s one to a 9% growth, Sunsex > 25K and no recession (in US), Sachin in his usual form and India winning atleast 1 Test down under in 2008!! :-)

Happy New Year!!