Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why is life equated with money?

Everytime an accident happens which is due to failure of the government machinery, politicians come out and dole out a few lakhs as compensation. For the poor and the needy, this compensation is necessary because they could have lost the sole bread-earner in the family. The generosity is only a facade behind which is the opportunity to swizzle a lot of money. I some times feel the politicians eagerly wait for calamities to happen, do not take steps to prevent preventable-calamities such as floods, and then make a living out of other people's misery. Bihar floods of 2008 was certainly a preventable calamity, but nothing was done to prevent it. The administration slept on it, and millions in Bihar died. How many of them received compensation - well there is no account of that, and probably there never will be.

Another thing that I hate is that every time a soldier, an honest policeman dies on duty, these politicians dole out a few lakhs as compensation. Sadly, they do not understand the value of life, the meaning of responsibility, the meaning of duty. When Hemant Karkare died on duty, he was not doing it for money. When Maj. Sandeep or Hawaldar Gajender Singh died on duty, they were not doing it for money. They went down doing their duty, and this feeling comes from a sense of accountability that you have towards your job and responsibility that you have towards your peers and the men you lead. 

No amount of money can encourage you to give up your life. Sadly, our politicians do not understand it at all and indulge in trivialising the contribution of soldiers by doling out money as compensation.

As crass as it gets

Now that the siege of Mumbai is finally over, politicians have started coming out and started doing what they do best - talk and only talk. Barring a few politicians, who in fact are not politicians but statesmen, I consider their comments nothing short of crassitude. I have developed some kind of immunity for this crassitude because day-in and day-out, we are bombarded with their crass statements.

The recent statement, made by DCM of Maharashtra, was the worst of the lot. What angers me most is the fact that he made light of the whole incident saying - "Itne bade sheher mein 1-2 incidents to ho hi jaate hain." How on earth can you say something so insensitive, so stupid? 

What did the CM do - take RGV to the Taj. I am not suggesting that RGV wants to make a movie out of it. However, he had no business being there. Is he part of the security establishment, is he part of the political establishment, is he an employee of Taj? No. Then what business did he have being at the Taj? What was his contribution to the resurrection of the Taj? Zero.

These people do not value life, especially others', I guess because their own relative has never been a victim of terrorism or any such acts. These politicians have no iota of responsibility, accountability, morality and humanity. I would say, we are the ultimate idiots, who have elected these super-idiots.

The people of Mumbai have been coming out with placards and holding a peace march. One of the placards sums up all my sentiments -

Mr. Terrorist: I am alive, what more can you do.
Mr. Politician: I am alive, despite you.
I am a Mumbaikar.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hamare liye kuch mushkil nahi hai

"Hamare liye kuch mushkil nahi hai" - the first statement made by an NSG commando returning after a successful operation - Operation Cyclone - at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. He said it such a simplicity and a sweet smile on his face, which is what makes it so encouraging and charming. Imagine what a billion people could achieve if all of us had the same spirit.

I was watching the action live on various news channels, and I could see the crowd clapping with joy when the operation at Nariman House ended. They were jostling, although not literally, to shake hands with the NSG commandos. They did not care whether the commandos were "Maraathi Maanoos" or came from other end of the country. They did not care about the religion of the commandos. They were there to salute the spirit, courage, and dedication shown by the commandos. This is the real India, this is the real spirit of people of India.

Where were the eminent politicians of Mumbai, who till some days back were busy breaking taxis? Where were the politicians who routinely attended bollywood functions? Where were the politicians who talk about Mumbai as if it is their own private property? Where were all these people. None of them had the courage to come out in open. In a way, it was good that these people did not come out because not only do they lack competence, but they also would have required their own share of security and created a ruckus out there.

Now the siege of Mumbai is finally over, but I am sure it is not the end of what we have seen. Our intelligence and security infrastructure is in shambles, and cannot be corrected overnight. I do not see any change in the foreseeable future because change requires tough measures, and our politicians are not the tough guys we need at this point in time. 

26th Nov, 2008 - Bombay Attacked

All the news channels around the world are carrying this piece of news. I won't elaborate on it too much. However, I am compelled to write a few things that I very strongly feel about. 

For quite some time, we have had a very weak leadership, which has set the tempo of India's response. Our response is neither prompt nor appropriate. The siege at Charar-e-sharief and Hazratbal shrines has, in a way, set a wrong precedent and it is solely the fault of our political leadership. The defence forces are not to be blamed for these debacles.

Since then, we have had a series of terrorist attacks, bomb blasts in cities and in temples. So many people have died in these attacks, but we haven't learnt our lesson at all.

What I fail to understand is after each such incident, we pin the blame on Pakistan and say - "ISI is involved in this incident." Is it not a given by now that ISI is behind every such incident? Why don't we take this for granted, and prepare ourselves to counter them? We give Pakistan a list of wanted terrorists and what do we expect from them - to hand over these terrorists to us on a platter? I find it all too silly.

Secondly, our political class is great at using diversionary tactics. When confronted with the question of handling terrorism, they divert public attention on whether it is Hindu or Muslim terrorism, whether to call it that way or not. For God's sake, please understand that no matter what kind of terrorism it is, people in India, our very own people are getting killed. Instead of bothering about adjectives and labels, we must focus on the core issue - terrorism.

Thirdly, the kind of idiotic questions that are raised on TV channels is unbearable. Yesterday, I was listening to Times Now and NDTV, and both were as idiotic as AajTak - the benchmark index of idiocy.

Times Now: asked foreign anti-terror experts why other countries do not support us diplomatically in anti-terror related activities. 

What kind of support we are looking for? We have to learn to solve our problems on our own. Why should any other country bear the brunt of our problems? It is silly to ask other countries to support us. We have to put an end to this menace.

NDTV: was wanting some positive comments from some film personalities about our political class uniting against terror. The example they cited was our PM and leader of opposition travelled in the same plane.

That is the least they can do. For 1 day in 5 yrs they did what was expected of them.

On a final note, a big salute and thanks to all the soldiers who fought and took care of the situation. They along with the hotel staff at Taj and Oberoi, who rescued people are the real heroes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why values are important

Yesterday, I was reading an interesting article about the meltdown of Wall Street. You can read it here. This article gives you an insider's view of what was happening in the Wall Street, and how an unsuspecting common man, was being taken for a ride.  

The business honchos at the Wall Street, who are the engineers of this financial crisis, do not have any moral standards. They knew exactly what they were doing, carving out AAA securities from shit. Even the rating agencies, that are supposed to be independent in their analysis, were accomplices. And now, these companies, the Citibanks, the Goldmans, and the lot are asking for a bailout from the government. Looks like a grand plan of robbing the taxpayer.

This is where values are important. I was listening to an all-hands call, and one of our VPs said that creating profit and more and more profit should NOT be the sole motto of a company. The motto should be to make a company a great place to work, a model company, a company loved by the community where it exists. Had this thought even crossed the minds of the engineers of financial crisis, things probably could have been different.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

After a long hiatus

After a long hiatus, I am back to blogging. A lot has happened in the mean time - 
  • Bomb blasts in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, and now in Assam. The government seems to be in a total mess and does not know how to tackle terror.
  • Lehman Brothers and quite a few companies have vanished from the radar screen, effectively forcing a lot of technology companies to go into a cost-cutting mode.
  • A very interesting test series between India and Australia is in progress. The Mohali test match was a great spectacle, and India out-bowled Australia in that match. Brett Lee's wicket (bowled Zaheer Khan) reminded me of Rahul Dravid being bowled by a similar delivery by Wasim Akram in the Chennai test. It was a great exhibition of reverse swing.
Let us dig a bit more into the cost-cutting measures in place, and how people have responded to these measures. Many of the cost-cutting measures in place in my company have been suggested by the employees. Here are some of them -
  • No work or work-only-from-home on weekends. This will enable the lab to be shut down. This effectively means that we don't require air-conditioning in the labs for 2-1/2 days. A lot of saving indeed.
  • Cut the frills from the beer-bash. Some may argue that beer-bash itself should be stopped, but in our company, beer-bash is more about bash than beer. By removing the chicken-tikkas, and chats from the beer-bash, the frills are gone. Beer-bash is not the same anymore.
  • Certain restrictions on food items such as biscuits, fruit juices, certain types of tea etc.
Among all measures, restrictions on food items have created the most flutter in the company. There was a big discussion regarding biscuits, coffee and tea. Some people were of the opinion that there should have been a poll about which biscuits to keep and which ones to remove. The person I guess is too influenced with "America Votes". One guy was upset that Twining's Green Tea was removed from the pantry. One guy probably did not enjoy the coffee from the vending machine, so he wanted somebody to make fresh coffee and serve coffee in the office. One guy was of the opinion that coffee should be served in flasks with a depressor.

I feel some times, no matter how much people earn, they still remain nothing but cribbers and are always game for free food. In these difficult times, I feel one should not crib about such petty things. Take for example the issue of green tea. For God's sake, there is Twining's Lemon Tea in the pantry. Drink that. The coffee is still of 4 types - Cappuccino, South Indian Light, South Indian Strong, and Espresso - and it is freshly crushed and brewed. What could be fresher than that? There are two types of biscuits - Britannia Cheese Crackers and Digestive. 

What more do people want? It is time to increase your productivity, which in my opinion, is the best way to save and make money for the company.  Wasting 6-hrs a day fighting over such petty matters is certainly not the way to go.