Sunday, April 5, 2009

Climate change - Greenland

I recently came across this episode on - Wrapping Greenland. Although I always believed climate change is a real danger to the world, this episode literally scared me.


75% of earth water is locked as ice sheets on the polar regions.! And when you hear that those ice sheets are melting rapidly, you better be scared about it. I think the situation has gotten so worse that prevention is not an option now, and its going to be a gigantic challenge to just be able to slowdown the climate change.

For billions of years, nature has found its ways to maintain the balance. But in the past century we have done everything possible to disrupt this balance, and consistent with Newton’s Third Law, for every action (by us) there is an equal and opposite reaction (from nature). We know that climate has always kept changing and humans (and many others) have evolved to adapt with change – as Darwin explained. And we could do that because the change in climate was slow enough to give our bodies/genes time to evolve to adapt. But with all the actions in recent century, the climate has been changing so rapidly, that we mostly would not have enough time to adapt and hence would fail in “survival contest” – not with fellow earth mates, but with the nature itself.

Everyone in the world seems to be taking the current economic downturn/recession very seriously. And its encouraging to see the world come together to avoid further damage to economy. However, I believe climate change is a much much larger problem as compared to the recession. And yet, unfortunately, the world doesn’t seem to be taking it very seriously. This must change. The clock is ticking and with every second spent we are putting mankind in a grave danger. The world has to come together, work on “stimulus package” to revive nature’s balance and slow down climate change.

So what should be done? Well here are some steps I would suggest:

1. The world needs to acknowledge climate change as the biggest challenge and danger. May be the G-20 needs to meet again, and chart out an action plan – similar to the way they are doing currently for economy. Accept the fact that Climate Change is a higher priority than Economic Development.

2. This is not a problem of Rich or Poor, powerful or weak nations, its a global problem that touches every life. So every life in the world needs to be aware of the problem. We need a mass information campaign – first to spread awareness about the problem and then to let everyone know what they can do to help in this effort.

3. Bring out strong legislation in all countries to promote clean technologies and punish harmful ways. Even if this means slower economic growth.

4. Chart out ways to quantitatively measure the progress.

5. Spend on R&D to find out ways to avert this problem.

Mr Obama has really talked a lot about clean technologies during his election campaign, but I hope he walks the talk and leads the world in acknowledging climate change as the first priority.

In the 21st century we have to make up for the mistakes we have made in 20th century. If we don’t who know if there will even be a 22nd century..!

I have pledged to do make conscious effort to learn what I can do as citizen of the earth, put it into action myself, and also spread the word at every possible channel at my exposure.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Negative Voting

Negative voting is an option for voters to reject all candidates in a particular constituency.

Certainly this should be an option for the voters. Here are some reasons why:
1. Each voter in India is above the age of 18 (adult) and as for any other matter, an adult should be considered to be taking the decisions consciously and wisely.
2. When the Ministers of Parliament has an option to vote "ABSTAIN" in Lok Sabha, why not give the same option to India voter who elects these Ministers.
3. At the end of election this data can actually indicate how people feel about the leaders of the country at an overall level. Also over the period of time, lets say 25 years, when we have this data for several elections, it can actually be a barometer for the community of political leaders.
4. Today many people do not go to vote because they do not want to vote for any candidate, but by introducing this option we can draw more people to voting booths on the election day.

Although, this can also turn to be negetive for our democracy as a huge number of current voters may end up choosing this option (considering current image of politicians). But for this I propose this solution:
Introduce this option on the EVMs, but for initial few years/elections it can only be used in combination with other voting options.
This will give us an idea of how many people vote for one candidate or the other just because there is no other option. So we will still have The Barometer. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Nuclear" explosion by Satyam

Phew..! What a day it has been for India Inc. There been many groundbreaking days in recent past and today was yet another one, yet on a totally opposite sentiment than the other ones..!

Satyam Chairman and Managing Director Mr Ram Raju writing a bold letter to The Board confessing all the wrongdoings and inflated accounting books. Here is a piece from an article on Business Today:

"Here are the reported facts. Satyam is a publicly listed company in India and in the US. Its promoters, led by Mr Ramalinga Raju, own 8.74 per cent of the shares of the company. The public owns almost 72 per cent of the stock, of which 48 per cent is held by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and 12.9 per cent by Indian public financial institutions (FIs). This is what Satyam's management and promoters proposed. A group representing only 8.74 per cent of the stock, wanted to use $1.6 billion of Satyam's free cash to buy 51 per cent of Maytas Infra for $1.3 billion, and 100 per cent of Maytas Properties for $300 million. Maytas is Satyam spelled backwards; and over 36 per cent of Maytas is owned by Raju's family, led by his sons Rama Raju and Teja Raju. Let's assume that the valuations were right. Even so, this was a massive related party transaction. In effect, persons representing a mere 8.74 per cent of a listed entity were proposing to transfer a whopping $1.6 billion of the company's cash to pay related promoters (i.e., themselves) of another company."

There has been lot of questions raised about the Independent Directors as well.But above all the question I have is how a leader of the company can get away with such huge manipulations without the knowledge of senior management? What is the credibility of the clean-chit given by Mr Raju to all members of senior management? I am no expert in these matters so I can't answer these questions, but would seriously like to know the answers.

What I can say is its a big blow to the India Inc and especially IT industry as the credibility and trust that they have won over long time is in question. I hope SEBI and other regulators take serious actions and made required regulatory amendments to prevent this from happening again. However, I am pretty confident that this will happen and will happen quickly.

Above all, I think the most important thing for all of us to look at is the ethical and moral grounds on which we base our corporate growth. We certainly don't want to be another USA where there are so many people for whom all that matters is bottom line figures, and not how that is achieved.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Expanding the horizons...

Just a day before India's Independence Day, I had an interesting experience which lead my mind on a marathon path.
I was visiting my doctor for checkup on that day. Early morning 8 00 sharp I entered the clinic, and was first confused if I ended up at a wrong place. It looked more like a spa rather then a clinic.! I went ahead to the reception immediately and confirmed my appointment. Filled up a regular form and gave my insurance card to the receptionist. After a few minutes the receptionist came back to handover the card back to me. As he was giving the card to me, he pointed to the "Tata" logo on the card and said - "Is this the same company which produces the smallest car in the world?". I was shocked, then surprised, then proud and then enthused.! I replied - "Its not only the smallest but also the cheapest car". Thinking that I had supplied a sensational bit of information to him, I felt great pride. But immediately bringing me back from cloud no 9, he replied - "I know, and I think they also recently purchased Rover and some other expensive car brands, isn't it?". And I replied back instantaneously - "Jaguar".!
I might sound lunatic when I call this an interesting experience, but it indeed was for me. After the checkup when it was time for the tests, the friendly assistant doctor put several drops of allergens on my forehand and asked me to wait for sometime so that those allergens can show their effect. While waiting there I thought, never had I seen a common American looking up to Indian business groups so highly. More then a Tata employee, I felt proud as an Indian. Way to go..!
Creating a 1 lakh rs car has not only made a big Indian Middle class dream easily achievable, it also has brought a great glory and recognition for Indian expertise in technology and business. Adding to that, the takeover of Land Rover and Jaguar has really left huge footprint on global auto industry. So much so that recently when 4Ps Business and Marketing magazine released its annual ranking of "Companies that make India proud", Tata topped the list..! (Ref)
And this is not the only international M&A activity that has expanded the horizons of Indian business groups. But certainly I would say this one had probably the highest visibility and impact.
When Padma Vibhushana Ratan Tata unveiled the 1 lakh rs car Tata Nano, most people talked about environmental issues, the big Indian Middle Class dream, the cheap car etc etc. I have not heard anyone talking about the visibility this has given on the Global canvas.
That's why people like Mr Ratan Tata are called VISIONARY. Hats Off Mr Tata.!!

The learning here is that, just technical expertise and hardwork doesn't yield maximum results. You need to have a vision to direct the expertise and hardwork in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Coming back to life..!

Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but
Irresistible pas-time
I took a heavenly ride through one silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life

- Pink Floyd..

This somewhat narrates my past few months..! But I don't want to remember that any more.

I am "coming back to life"..!! It is true that everyone goes through the dip of the sine wave, and sometimes it is hard to come back out of it. But that's when your true friends shine like a ray of light in the absolute darkness.

After a brief period of pause I am back to dreaming and pursuing those dreams with endless optimism. And oh I so love this new pursuit of mine. And there is something Prof Randy Pausch (CMU) said during his Last Lecture that struck me hard.

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." - Prof Randy Pausch

Immediately I established an analogy with the first law of thermodynamics. Your efforts are never going to go in vein. It will be useful somewhere or the other.

What I have learnt in this period is that there are decisions to make every moment of your life. I can take each decision very carefully, or be more instinctive and follow my heart. While I may increase success ratio by being careful, I might end up spending a lot of resources in rent seeking. So I have decided to do what I "feel" is right, irrespective of what common belief is. And I "feel" I am doing the right thing.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Moments with Legends.....

I attended a function today at Kennedy Center for Performing arts. It was "Indian American Achiever Awards" function.

And guess what? The awards ceremony was interspersed with a symphony of dance, instrumental and vocal performances by internationally acclaimed artists from India. I witnessed some blazing performances by maestros like Pandit Birju Maharaj and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. Along with Pandit Shivkumar Sharma in the picture is Yogesh Samsi, who is one of the rare tabla players, son of renowned vocalist Pandit Dinkar Kaikini. Yogesh Samsi received intense training from legendary Ustad Alla Rakha for 23 years and has till date accompanied almost all top ranking instrumentalists, vocalists and dancers of India. Also present were Dr Balamurali Krishna and Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty, who touched the soul of the audience with a wonderful fusion.

Both Pandit Birju Maharaj and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma were very down to earth and patiently posed with everyone for the pictures. It was a real pleasure to watch them perform today and it certainly made my day. It was a really memorable experience.

I was also privileged to have picture with some of them.
From L-R, Yogesh Samsi, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Viken Parikh, Ruchir Shah

Viken Parikh (left) and Ruchir Shah(centre) with Pandit Birju Maharaj (right)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Is the world becoming more eventful or I have been ignorant,, these seems like a part of my life now. From the point where I cared least what is happening in the world to a point where these websites became part of my daily routine. I think about it and seems my questions is answered - Is the world becoming more eventful or I have been ignorant? Its not an exclusive or question. And this is an important condition to state. Becasue I think both or then are true. The world is becoming more and more eventful and my ignorance adds to the frenzy.

Presidential election '08 campaign is making lot of headlines. In business Barclay's bid for ABN Amro and Tata and M&M's fight for Jaguar and Land Rover is interesting enough to keep a watch on. At the same time debate on sex education is everywhere on news channels. Also the Indo-US Nuke deal, in its final stage of acceptance, is keeping the nations excited. After official election of Mrs Pratibha Patil as first lady president of India and Indian doctor Haneef's case cooling off there isn't much to talk about politics. Between all these, somewhere in the corner is news about Indian Cricket Team's England tour, which is not getting much air time thanks to deliberate ignores by India media after disastrous performance in ICC Cricket World Cup 2007. Much hyped Apple's iPhone also seems to have cleared from the news. But the results of its sales are making news in business and markets, pulling Apple Inc's stock down by approx $9 in a day..! Situation in Pakistan and Iraq continuous to be unstable, though because of very different reasons. And after much much awaited release of Harry Potter movie, it seems to be completely out of news. And the list goes on and on...

Looking at all these events and news I came across during last week, I realize how ignorant I have been in the past. But good part is I ain't anymore.

Interestingly enough, I could keep track of all these "sensetional" news items during one of the worst's weeks of my life since I came to US. But I would not talk about it and make my weekend also bad. But knowing what's going on in the worlds seems very fulfilling.

So basically, I learn that I should clear the fog of ignorance more and more to make the "picture" clear.