About the Blog

This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

November 30, 2009

Omnipotent Maruti

Around the same period last year (10 Dec08 to be precise) I was in Bhopal, capital city of Madhya Pradesh (MP) on a Business related visit and as the plane made its early morning landing , the contours of this scenic & remarkably clean city came into view . And during the long drive from the Airport to the city I chanced my sight upon a small yet magnificent temple of Hanuman adjacent to the Bada Talaab, a vast lake dotting the city. Before I could make up my mind to stopby & pay obeisance, the cabdriver had sped off. I was disappointed but later in the day, and by strange coincidence, I encountered another 2-3 Hanuman temples in the city. A pleasant surprise was in store for me later that evening when I learnt that it was the auspicious day of ‘Hanuman Jayanthi’. And today is one such auspicious day, Hanumantha Vrata is observed during Margashirsh month in Karnataka.

It is said that after Gayatri mantra , the Hanuman chalisa is perhaps the most recited verses in Hindu homes. Also it is generally believed that there are more Hanuman & Shiva (and Hanuman is considered an incarnation of shiva) temples in the country than any other deity. Popularly known as Sankat Mochan, he has the power to counter the negative influence of Shani (Saturn) & other planetary influences. His chalisa recited 108 times has the power to keep evil at Bay. So no wonder he has a long list of admirers, apart from Obama, celebrities like Amitabh Bachahhan , Lalu Yadav, Bappi Lahari etc are his admirers & followers.

Like his deeds he stands tall in many places in India, his statue at Pusa road Delhi is 108 ft, am sure the one on Bangalore-Tumkur road is nearly as big. There’s a famous temple called Gaali-Anjaneya Gudi in Bangalore, one of the oldest in this part of the country dating back to 1425 AD. Then there is Prasanna Veeranjaneya temple in Mahalaxmipura, one of the frequently visited temples by Hanuman devotees. It has a 22-foot-tall Hanuman statue standing atop a hillock. However my favourite is the Ragigudda, Sri Prasanna Anjaneya Temple in the religious, social and cultural hub of Bangalore, Jayanagar.

Hanuman has an interesting connection with my aradhya Guru ‘Sri Raghavendra Swami’, a 16th century saint. In appreciation of his penance for 12 long years in a cave near Panchamukhi, located on the south bank of river Tungabhadra near Mantralaya, Lord Anjaneya (panchamukhi pranadevaru) is said to have appeared before him in a unique way amalgamating within him the avataras of "varaha, garuda, anjaneya, narasimha and hayagreeva"

Hanuman is one God who has been rediscovered in modern times, he is cool, high on emotional quotient & stands for universal timeless values and is sported everywhere including popular animation films & Playstation games and my son just like me is a big fan & devotee of him. Jai Hanuman!

November 25, 2009

The politics of hyphenation

Continuing with Sachin from my previous article, it is rather sad to see him drawn into an unforeseen controversy. I am referring to his comment that Mumbai belonged to all Indians that drew ire & adverse reaction from Balasaheb Thackeray & Shiv sena. I am a bit surprised that the same Shivsena or the MNS did not react when Sachin inaugurated/Flagged off the local Belgaum Team in the Karnataka premier league , a local edition of T20 cricket in Bangalore. Belgaum is the bone of contention between the 2 states and the Marathi & Kannada torch bearers are quite active on this issue.

Maybe Balasaheb read too much into the nomenclature, otherwise a ‘Maha’rashtra would never have come before the Rashtra. To be fair to Sachin , his comment of ‘all Indians’ included Maharashtrian’s too. Why take offense when the ‘Marathi Manoos’ is also included? The way Balasaheb reacted, it gave a sense that he wanted to hyphenate the interest of the state & its local interests from that of the nation. The nature of the reaction and its ‘Us-Them’ undertone is what raised the hackles of many people who now believe will undermine the unity & federal character of this country.

The ‘aamchi’ feeling defined by a linguistic & cultural affinity in a large diverse country is normal but whether it is getting hijacked by a narrow political agenda is debatable. It depends on which angle you look at it & how affected you are or simply put how much you stand to gain by exploiting it. To put this thought in perspective I will relate to an issue that I had to contend with recently. Talking to members of what I call ‘ a dysfunctional’ association , a ragtag motley group of sneery members whose style of functioning clearly reflects on the condition of the building I live in, one of the issues I pointed out was their insistence on having a ‘Hindi’ speaking security guard at the Apartment. So much so that a Kannada speaking guy (local) was summarily chucked out of the job for his lack of Hindi knowledge. To cover it up, these members came up with another excuse which is a different matter altogether. But the moot point is that such an issue would no doubt have raised the heckles of a segment of local population (unemployed youth ) who could only perceive it as an affront for such kind of injustice perpetrated by ‘outsiders’. Who better to nurse such a grudge than politicians who would not stop highlighting the fact that they were slighted by the opportunities robbed from them by people outside the state. But who is to blame? The Politicians or the Association members (as in this case). Both displayed the parochial mindset, didn’t they?

November 18, 2009

Tendlya: a 20 gun salute

Several thousand laurels & million accolades must have already been attributed to the little maestro (Sachin Tendulkar) by now, yet I am tempted to give my version. Particularly so since I belonged to a generation which had the good fortune of watching modern cricket (post Kerry packer) on TV as early as 1984-85 and being on a vantage point to witness what I describe as two different generation of cricketers. And Sachin in my opinion was the defining epoch  like AD (Anno Domini as used in the Julian and Gregorian calendars) in the Indian cricketing History because he changed the way Indians approached the game .

Going back to the period (1985- 89) India had the likes of K Srikanth and Kapil Dev who made us watch the game in excitement. They were very effervescent cricketing talent who either fired like a Kalashnikov or went dud like a Diwali cracker. Srikant, I remember in the Champions Trophy in Australia (1985) and the Sharjah matches thereafter; would go on a leather hunt like some drunken hunter going bonkers in the forest. He would have us on the edge of the seat as he lived similarly at the crease. He had the aggression , maybe some technique but surely no temperament to stay at the crease. Kapil would bring a similar excitement whenever he came to bat lower down the order. The power he generated from his shots and the disdain with which he treated all length balls was a treat to watch. But again, to see him fire was not frequent enough. Like a runaway Jat-train he had the tendency to derail (throw away his wicket to rash shots- best exemplified by his Semifinal world cup innings against England in Mumbai in 1989). Nonetheless, these two superb players made us love the game for this kind of aggression they brought to the game.

Watching Tendulkar, 1989 & thereafter brought this kind of excitement. The difference was that here was a player packaged beautifully in all the 3 compartments of the game; Aggression, Temperament &Technique that was somewhat missing in the earlier era. He would slaughter the bowlers but with a watertight technique of footwork, balance and timing he always assured us of being on top of his opponent. There was excitement but no fear of losing him the battle with the bowler. Maybe the mountain of runs he accumulated is testament to that. In the process he ushered in a kind of confidence & measured aggression in the Indian team that I felt was missing before him.

I found the duel between Akram & Sachin in Sharjah particularly interesting. The beauty of their contest was the ‘natural flow’ with which these 2 greats played the game on either sides of the crease. A fired up Akram would steam-in & bowl in a smooth free flowing rollover action. He had the pace, swing and the guile in his deliveries that would send shivers in any batsman. But in an equally free flowing action, Sachin would very often pack his balls to the Boundary in style. All the equations settled and squared off within 3/4ths of a second, the viewer would only react to the aftermath. This to me was Cricket symphony of the highest order that only a maestro could produce. Take a bow Sachin.

November 14, 2009

A memorable evening in Dakar

In the early part of this year I made a Business trip to Senegal, a west African country located near the borders of south-eastern continental Europe. Dakar, its capital city displays an eclectic mix of Arabic & European influences and is heavily influenced by French urban styling & culture. During my week long trip in this country, I had several interactions with Businessmen, Officials & contacts of Indian origin staying in Dakar. Among the memorable one was the meeting I had with his Excellency Shri Parthasarathy, Indian Ambassador to Senegal.

I had the privilege of spending a delightful evening with him & his gracious wife at their sprawling official residence. The Ambassador’s residence is perched on top of a hillock in the heart of the city with a well laid out garden giving a panoramic view of the Atlantic ocean . What really amazed me was the natural settings , adding a touch of class to this panoramic view was some large stone cliffs with sharp edges that emerged right out of the sea as if someone had done some artistic landscaping for the Ambassador’s residence. Maybe the prestige of the location signifies the importance Senegal attaches to India which is its 2 largest trading partner. I guess India too attaches a lot of importance to this francophone country for geopolitical & strategic reasons.

Interacting with the Ambassador was quite lively & insightful; an unassuming Engineer and MBA , he has a sharp analytical mind with a strong grasp of geopolitical realities of this part of the world. He also speaks fluent French. Like a true blue diplomat his knowledge & interests spanned a range of topics from Poverty alleviation, 3rd world Technology adoption , Political climate, World affairs and even topics like Gold price movement & its underlying global factors etc that made interesting conversation . Naturally time flew in his August Company. They served me traditional Indian food which was simple & unostentatious and was a welcome break after a couple of days of strange alien food that I had survived on. But the dinner was doubly interesting to me for one simple novelty; the cutlery in which the food was served by the orderlies. Fine white porcelain dishes , gold rimmed alongwith the official insignia (Ashoka emblem)on it certainly gave me a whiff of what state hosted dinners could be.I signed off the evening in style when the Ambassador's smartly dressed black hunk of a chauffeur dropped me back to the Hotel in his S class black Mercedes.

November 8, 2009

Yeddy & the leadership lessons from the crisis.

Yesterday I was interacting with a senior Govt functionary over some contract related discussions at his expansive 7th floor office overlooking the adjacent Sankey Lake & it’s lush green surroundings that nestles a large sanctuary of birds. After the Business discussions the talk took a lighter banter over a cup of tea, and probably my curiosity had the better of me when I raised this rather awkward question to him; I said ‘Sir your dept & some of its officials in both the states (AP & Kar) are in the eye of the storm that is brewing in state politics’? He took a pause and slowly sipping his tea gave a rather candid answer; he said ‘where there are politicians, how can the bureaucrats be far behind? They use each other well & this is bound to happen’. One of his colleague who was also present said ‘Dont take most of these NEWS (i.e, pertaining to officials who are being used as pawns in this power struggle) at face value, there are a lot of things that more than meets the eye’.

It is said that this crisis was created by a blind sighted leader (Karnataka CM Yeddyurappa) & his approach to handling his team especially when it had powerful Business magnates. Whatever it may be, there are some Leadership lessons that Yeddy can take from this crisis, as I see it

1. A crisis may erupt over a small event (in this case flood relief management) but like a snowball rolling over a mountain slope will quickly gather weight & size .The snowballing in this case has still not ended after scalping several ministerial heads , a Principal secretary, and several Govt transfers. It will eventually end at the bottom but by then it would have stuck into the reputation of the party, the credibility of ministry and chiefly its CM. LESSON: Never skate rashly on thin ice Yeddy, especially when it’s been laid out by your money rich potential adversaries in the party.

2. People affected by the crisis, or sometimes those just watching it, will demand that someone be held responsible which in this unpleasant case is you & your confidants. LESSON: Stop making a spectacle of yourself in front of a hungry media. Leaders don’t cry or whine in front of the media even if to make an emotional point but retain their poise & composure even in tough times. Pls stand up and take a position for the people who have stood by you and don’t get cowed by those after you.

3. This crisis will officially end with some settlement and then comes the clean up. Clean up means change but sometime this fix may be temporary. LESSON: Dont bargain for short term fixes to cling on to your Gaddi, eventually people will judge you on how unwavering were your actions and how stronger you emerged after this crisis.

4. And just as with big, public crises, don’t ever forget that you have a business (in this case a Government) to run. Make sure you’re running it. Crack the whip on those MLA’s who are supposed to be on the ground supervising relief efforts in their districts instead of huddling in resorts.

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