Friday, December 16, 2011

Tie-coons on the tube: Experts' opinions on economy

During the placement interviews at college, a Keralite friend  liked to call the ubiquitous tie-on-the-shirt as "trappings of mediocrity" possibly because it served no pressing functional deficiency. While watching the attire of numerous corporate & financial experts comment on RBI's credit policy today ,I couldn't but notice those colourful noose-ropes & remember that adage.
All through the week , leading up to today's announcement of credit policy, these experts had waxed eloquence on how inflation and growth have come to a Pareto-optimal point where one could no longer co-exist along with the other.People apparently still expect the "domestic-market-demand" story of the last decade to be replayed and hence drop in interest rate to boost investment demand was the common refrain from all. But when the RBI decided to keep the rate unchanged they kept on complementing RBI for the correct decision taken. And what decision did RBI take? Nothing! The usual editorial in the business papers had earlier severely criticized the government for their "policy-paralysis" and wailed as to how the foreign investors had turned their back to India because of poor governance and slowing down of growth. And when now the Reserve Bank doesn't do anything again , by remaining in the paralytic state, they all go running to the public complementing the same government.
But wait, the same malaise is reflected on the international channels again. The experts there were croaking in a chorus about an year ago about the uselessness of the dollar and how the Chinese economy will be torn to shreds by the "junk" US treasury bonds they hold in trillions. Now suddenly, the distinct possibility of multiple-sovereign-bankruptcy in Europe , there is demand of dollars as oil prices dip thanks to a increase in production cap by Saudi Arabia led OPEC.And the Chinese seem to be rich again and these same experts are singing paeans on the good looks of the green bucks.

Isn't economics fashionable, whether international or national? Experts always side with what's in fashion. Dollar was previously out-of-fashion and now it's in. Same for the Indian government. First out then in.
No wonder all these experts were wearing their colourful ties. It complements the fashionable topic they are always on.

And just as the favourite quote of mediocrity is "If you can't convince then confuse..", the Indian economy seems  "tie"(d) up in all kinds of  knots : high inflation (core & food ) , high interest rate, falling stock market, depreciating rupee, faltering growth & expanding fiscal deficit. The escape route probably requires deep insight into finance & economics as well as in politics & philosophy but the best escape route for bureaucrats is to escape the problem altogether. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let the hungry millions have the World Cup

It could not have got better than this for the Indian president of International Cricket Council. A food minister in the present government , he had once ensured that piled up grains rot in Indian godowns when the country was going through a drought and millions went hungry. Denying nutritious aid to millions of his country-men even when supreme court had directed them to be distributed had won him international press coverage for effective inventory management. But hosting the world cup final at his home ground against the Lankans literally takes the cake. The ICC president was wondering whether he should start stocking cakes too in the Food Corporation of India godowns and in the future-drought he can do a Marie Antoinette by distributing them and pronouncing "Let then eat cakes."

Leaving behind such fleeting thoughts, the ICC president was busy arranging for a smooth final and hoping that Dhoni and his boys will score over the Lankans tonight to enable the President write a glorious chapter for himself. For, no ICC President has ever won the world cup in his home country. So what, if millions of Indians fight an unparallelled inflation of food items over the last three years , often going hungry in the process while the food minister kept himself  busy signing broadcast deals and asking for tax-break aids from his own government for the World Cup matches?

Having heralded India to be Super Pawar in 2020 by inaugurating Indian Premier League three years back as the-then BCCI president; the ICC President this morning asked his barber to wax his bald head , keeping it free for adding a glorious colourful feather to his plate. His name does not figure in the top 100 most powerful men in the world although he is said to be  sitting over an allegedly large fortune that might even shame the Fortune 500 holders.

But tonight might change that all. The only obstacle in his way will be the men from the island, Sri Lanka  led by a suave, competitive cricketer called Kumar Sangakara , who had missed the title four years back in the Windies losing to the Australians in a rain-affected final. Kumar's soldiers include the world's highest wicket taker , an off-spinning magician by the name of Murlidharan and a sling-arm pace man, Malinga. The latter two have castled the top batsmen in the world with monotonous regularity  Kumar will be hoping that they do it again tonight aided by runs flowing from himself ,Dilshan & Jayawardane.  Sad, as it may be for Kumar , the young brigade  of India led by the master batsman Sachin ,a destructive opener,Sehwag and a swashbuckling Punjabi Yuvaraj are planning to do the same under the tactically brilliant India captain Dhoni. Whether Dhoni plays Srishant or Ashwin in place of the injured Nehra; he will still have to be constantly alert with the changes in his inferior bowling-attack  and  appropriate field placements to contain the Lankans to where they belong , Premadasa stadium in Colombo and not in Wankhade stadium of Mumbai.

May the best team win tonight but let us , all cricket fans of India, thank the two BCCI selection committee chairmen Vengsarkar & Srikanth for building the best possible Indian team over the last 4 years. This team has constantly gained in confidence as they won numerous accolades in away countries including the T20 world cup  , number 1 test ranking and we pray that they finally get to hold the cup that they so richly deserve after working tirelessly for the last 4 years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sea and Mountain lovers: 2 distinct species.

We all know that some like the sea and some like the mountains. Invariably such likings become an issue for a couple planning a vacation. What we do not know is the reason behind such likings. Two people , each of whom even when exposed to equal number of experiences of sea-based or mountain-based vacations, can still have different affection either for the sea or for the mountains. And this trait can be so embedded in a person's psyche that it stays forever.

What is perhaps more intriguing is the fact that such characteristics can even draw strangers together. For example sea-lovers seem to find company in other sea-lovers without even knowing that they love the sea. It's quite possible that the psyche of sea-lovers demonstrate similar behavioural patterns and so on for mountain lovers.

In my opinion, people experience the infinity of space around the world in two ways. For sea lovers, they submerge themselves looking outside to the infinity with their back to the material world  while mountain-lovers love to experience infinity at a greater height but without taking their eyes from the world below.

Are sea lovers less materialistic because they look for comfort away from the world ? My experience says so. Besides they are more romantic, sometimes depressive but mostly thinking type. Achievement of challenges in life , for them, is not a passion but just an experience in the journey of life. They are more emotional in nature than rational.

Mountain lovers on the contrary have their feet on the ground and their head in the air while they experience infinity. They seem to be value the usefulness of materialistic world and at the same time love to overcome great challenges. They are more achievement oriented and do not easily give up on the challenges. Depression is less likely to be their forte and more often than not they are more rational.

So, my dear readers, what type are you? Sea loving or  mountain loving  ?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

10 reasons why true friendships never exist

Needless to say that such a "cynical" title might put off a large number of readers . Hence I have taken the unusual approach of starting this post with a disclaimer, which otherwise should have come at the bottom.

Disclaimer: This post is taken from a cauldron of experiences of different people and their stories over a lifetime. What is said is a partial reflection of the miserable, warring, selfish , consumerist world that we live in , a world where values are degenerative but never fully lost. Therefore this post must only be taken as a guideline to avoid pitfalls while strengthening the friendships so that one does not find oneself badly hurt. Readers who are also friends must not take the sayings personally and derive meaning where it is not due.

  1. A friend in need is a friend in deed only when his deed is acknowledged by you. Often the deed is about the superior values of a do-gooder and not necessarily about the plight of the beneficiary.
  2. When someone arrives in your time of misery posing as a friend; beware that could be part of a plot to bust you . The helping hand of such friends often conceal a dagger.
  3. Get-together of long-lost professional friends , such as in college alumni , is mostly a  reality check of who has moved up in life and who has fallen behind & whether that tallies with the perceptions of the younger days. It has nothing to do with renewal of old ties.
  4. A selfless help towards a friend will often be "rewarded" in future with spite and ignorance.
  5. When friends say,  "call me whenever you need anything" , they say that because they really do not know how to react to your present plight and basically mean that "I forgot to tell you that you can call me only when I am not busy but please remember that I offered you help."
  6. Friendship is sustained only through gainful reciprocity and is never unconditional. Multi-million dollar scams always involve work among close friends in power ,sharing the war chest.A friend will not return a call if he doesn't see any gainful value in sharing his time with you.
  7. Sacrifice is a word enshrined in Elton John's song but rarely found in the lexicon of friendship. While you may be considered a fool to sacrifice for your friend, a friend will often find excuses not to do the same for you when you need it badly.
  8. When it comes to friendship between opposite sexes, inevitably complications arise with the other close family members of the friend.
  9.  When a stranger wants to become your friend; it's not because he shares the same value as yours or not because he wants to be  beside you in your times of trouble but because he sees a future value for himself in associating with you without paying for it. 
  10. Lastly friendship is good from far. Hence  a detached association  lasts longer rather than a intimate relationship. The latter can often leave you bruised and hurt for life.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Will WC2011 be the high noon for India's cricket?- A midterm review of the World Cup Cricket 2011

It's exactly mid way in the ICC World Cup 2011 cricket tournament & the matches have given their due share of photo-finishes , upsets along with some memorable batting & bowling prowess. The second half is kicking off with the group match between India & South Africa. More about that later.

Below is a holistic review of the how the countries have shaped up and what potential they hold.

  1. Australia:  Fit and fighting , Ricky Ponting's men are cracking ready & expected to sail through to the semis.
  2. Bangladesh : An inconsistent side , Bangladesh will have gained in confidence after chasing out England with 2 wickets to spare and has an outside chance of making it to the quarter finals.
  3. Canada    : Registered their first win against Kenya and will carry home good memories.
  4. England   : The only team to feature in all the three close finishes/upsets  (against India,Ireland, Bangladesh), will require more than pride to defeat the resurgent Windies in their last group match. Broad and KP's departures are not auguring well for the team too.
  5. India    : Unfit and struggling, Dhoni  thinks that the team will peak in the "right time" and hopefully he is right. But facing another resurgent team , New Zealand in the quarter finals in Ahmedabad, could challenge Dhoni's captaincy skill against a confident Vettori's. 
  6. Ireland  : Kevin O'Brien , the star of the first half of WC, scored a 50-ball century to blast England out of the match. Ireland has played all matches consistently well & will go back with the hope of gaining the coveted test status in the next few years.
  7. Kenya :  Sandip Patil or otherwise, Kenya should finally decide whether they mean serious business and hire a world class coach with a 3-5 year plan for improving their game.
  8. New Zealand : Playing exceptional cricket against the Pakistanis, Ross Taylor gave his team what neither Greatbatch nor Wright could imbibe as coaches; the belief in themselves. From this point onward, New Zealand looks set to be the second placed in their group.
  9. Netherlands : Ryan Doeschate gave the team a lot of respectability that they will have to sustain through  their performances in the ODIs.
  10. Pakistan :  Shahid Afridi had led the scandal-ridden team to a level from where they can look forward to peaking in the right time but will have a tough fight possibly against the Windies at Dhaka.
  11. South Africa: The side which truly deserves to win at least one world cup title has to tighten up their belts against world class spin bowling of Muralidharan & Mendis in a turning track in Colombo, if it wants to reach the final. Their impeccable pace battery & world class fielding are assets that will see them through in majority of their matches irrespective of their batting display although Kallis is yet to peak.
  12. Sri Lanka :   The top-heavy team still looks shaky in their middle order and that could be the deciding factor in a do or die match. Expected to ride on comfortably to the semis where they might meet India , just like the last edition in 1996 but only this time in Mohali instead of Eden Gardens.
  13. West Indies : The dark horse of the tournament , West Indies is coasting merrily in spite of a poor form of Gayle not only because they have multiple match winners in the side but also because of  an excellent temperament of their new performing captain Sammy. This is the punters' team just like England was the bookies'.
  14. Zimbabwe : Don't cry for Zimbabwe!! They will overcome some day.
But all of the above were subjective reviews with speculative predictions, which anyway has no relevance once a match kicks in with its inherent excitement and shining superstars .

The  South Africa versus India match today at Nagpur is going  to be a contest between the best all round side against the best batting side . No matter what  the bowling combinations that India might think of (Munaf as the third pacer being one) playing today , it will boil down to the skills of the batting heavy weights against the scorching pace of Steyn,Morkel & Tsotsobe ( a likely inclusion considering his exploits against the Indians just about two months back in South Africa) and mind blowing fielding of the rest of the team. Sachin who was tested time and again by Steyn 2 months back , might hold on to make his point but the likes of Gambhir, Yuvaraj & Sehwag will have raise their games by more than a notch  to prevent being bundled out around  150-200 runs .

The toss is immaterial for South Africa as they would like to bowl first and India , for sure, would like to bat first to give its timid bowlers some respectable total to defend . However, since both the teams are expected to be in quarters , this match could just be a warm-up game for both the contestants with some competitive actions thrown in the last ten overs. Overall, South Africa is favourites to win today but the combined Indian top-order along with Zahir & Bhajji could just make it the high noon for India in Nagpur today.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

India expected to spin out England in a controversial group match in Bangalore.

As Delhi  gets busy in ornamenting its city with a hand-etched Madhubani painting of its icons from Happy Hand Foundations as one of the many ways to  celebrate it's 100th year as Capital of modern India ; Calcutta ,which lost the status of the colonial capital in 1911, is ruing one more chance of defeating the modern-day cricketing representatives of their erstwhile colonial masters, England at Eden Gardens today.

World Cup Cricket is in India again after 15 years and a box-office match in Group-B between India & England is going to be held in Bangalore because Eden Gardens stadium was not ready on time  thanks to some sloppy project management by the Cricket Association of Bengal. Pleas were made by VIPs like the Chief Minister and  the BCCI President  to accommodate Eden Gardens as a last-minute venue only to fall in the deaf ears of the current ICC President.

Bangalore fans were ecstatic at this windfall of a match but their joys soon turned sour when they found out that only 10% of tickets were earmarked for public while ICC and its sponsors , who are anyway omni-present through myriads of mind-shattering adverts for the entire seven hours of match telecast, have kept aside 50% of the tickets for themselves. Demand of tickets exceeded supply, resulting in snaking restful queues of fans that were finally controlled by a cruel lathicharge from the local police. Having lost their community-caring image all around the world, the Bangalore police compensated next day by 'cracking'  a betting ring whose ring-leaders have names that appear to come straight from a Bollywood potboiler.

India play England today as favourites to win the match & Dhoni is expected to field two spinners against the English cricketers whose technique against quality spin bowling is still suspect, no matter how many hours of  training in sweeping the ball is given by Gooch, who had swept away 24 years ago India's chances of making the World Cup final twice in succession. India's bowling attack besides Zahir looks mediocre as  Strauss & company are expected to muzzle Nehra and Munaf out of reckoning. Alas, if only India had one pacer like Shoaib Akhtar whose yorker the night before to Jayawardane was a beauty that sent his stumps & Lanka's chances of winning the match flying in the Premedasa stadium, Colombo.

But let us be content with whatever we have got and  hopefully Dhoni will etch out a well crafted victory against England not only for India in general but also as a  special favour to millions of cricket fans of Kolkata. Unless of course, Collingwood and/or Peterson have other plans .