Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Professionalism in politics is the need of the hour

Politics has always been dominated by the babhus who have a ad hock way of reacting to the circumstances. Most of them seldom think about the big picture, concerning themselves in petty vote bank politics. Politics is as much science as it is an art. It involves as much careful planning and analysis as taking quick and dirty decisions to resolve issues.

Politicians in India have always been judged by the aam junta during the elections, and those who fool the public gets away with poor performance. instead, politics should be treated like just another job, where an official review should be conducted once or twice in a year and the minister (and his office) should be commended or criticized based on his performance. This will bring a layer of credibility.

Transparency of operation is a very key issue towards making politics a clean profession. Any citizen should have the right to question the workings of a bureaucratic system without too many hassles. In this regard, the RTI (Right to Information Act) passed in 15 June 2005 is a step in the right direction. Any person may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or instrumentality of State) which is expected to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and to proactively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally. Though this act is good in principle, there are many grey areas that need to be addressed before this act starts serving the intended purpose.

The ruling government should come up with a set of action points that are planned to be achieved in their tenure at the office, similar to the common minimum program (CMP) proposed by the ruling UPA government.

Also important is the role played by bodies like Lokayukta in probing the corrupt officials and bringing them under the purview of law. But, for this to be effective one needs a dynamic leader like former Lokayukta head Mr. Justice N. Venkatachala who was instrumental in busting scams to the tune of 270 crores in Karnataka, leading from the front.

The role of media in this endeavour cannot be undermined. Their role is not just in exposing the scams and criticizing the political policies, but also to applaud constructive and pragmatic decisions taken by the politicians, without leaning towards any political ideology or principles.

Politics is a game where the rules are set by the players themselves! Unlike a corporation, most of the times, there will not be a quantifiable and achievable goal set. Hence it becomes imperative to define a professional framework, to get people to not only believe in, but also to actively participate in the political system.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Defining Moment: Tata acquires Corus.

India has finally arrived on the global scene. And this was signified in a big way. Last week, Tata Steel acquired Corus- a British company, almost thrice as big as itself- in a bidding war with Brazil's CSN. The money that the Tatas will pay for the deal is a mind boggling $11.5 bil, making it by far the biggest acquisition by an Indian company ever.

What is note worthy here is the confidence and gumption which the Tatas and all the bankers backing them showed in the bidding war. Though many feel that the price paid is much more than what Corus deserved, the Tatas feel that their bet will pay off in the long run.

This acquisition, one of the many feathers in Tata group chairman Ratan Tata's cap, makes Tata Steel the 5th largest steel company in the world and 2nd largest in Europe. A remarkable achievement for a company which made an extremely humble beginning more than 100 years ago.

We must however not forget that the Indian attack on global companies started some time back itself. Just to name a few big ones-- Suzlon acquired Hansen Transmissions to become a global player in wind energy; Pharma major Ranbaxy took over Terapia; ONGC picked up several oil fields abroad. These are just to mention a few. Many more took place and many are in the pipeline.

We Indians can now proudly declare that our business lives up to the best in the world. Everyone believes that the best is still yet to come- what with the economy booming, more and more investors are coming forward to fund our companies. Add to this, the confidence of our business leaders is at an all time high and they are now more eager to leap forward than ever before.

World, beware - Here we come!!

The curse of being a Software Engineer

Last weekend, there was an occasion at a relative's place which I had to attend. I say, I 'had to' cos I normally avoid get togethers and not without reason. I believe they are just a platform for people to waste time gossiping about others. However, due to parental pressure, I had to attend this one.

As soon as I set foot at my relative's place, one of my mother's cousins smiled at me. Instantly, I knew that trouble was round the corner. She rushed towards me with a few people behind her. Then she started introducing me to the people around her.

Now, I don't have any problem with people introducing me; Just with the way it is done. They mention my name and immediately start off saying that I am a software engineer in such and such a company (which would naturally mean that I am an extraordinarily intelligent guy!) and the person who introduces me also drops a hint or two regarding my salary!!

I have also observed a common pattern in the people who are asked to undergo the misery of knowing me. If the person is middle aged, he sees me as a villain. He thinks that I am one of those criminals who installs computers at every possible place and hence cause job cuts for people like him!! Alternately, if the person is in his teens, he sees some Nobel prize winner in me and starts dreaming about himself in my position!!

In the days when I had just started working, all this made me proud. It made me feel really important. But as days passed by, this attitude of my relatives started irritating me to no end. Nowadays, whenever someone introduces me, I yearn to hear my father's name, or to know how the person is related to me. But alas, people are more worried about the future of IT companies! Interestingly, people talk of marrying off their daughter to me just on the basis of I working in a software company. To my misery though, the girls don't even give me a second look. Your daughter wants much more, my dear prospective father-in-law!!

Nowadays, I have observed one more interesting feature, given that there is at least 1 software engineer per family. People are now aware of the names of a few software companies. And they compare us depending on the company for which we work!

This is precisely the reason why given a chance I would skip any gathering, specially of my relatives. God knows when these people will understand that software engineers are also normal people who work for a living; In fact, we would work much more than most of the others and accomplish much less. I can take a bet that given a chance, most of the software engineers would opt for an alternate career. And, the so called big pay (which is not so big, after all)- well, it is the only take away for doing such continuous mindless work and inviting so many health problems due to our couch potato life style...

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Instinct

Space, the final frontier... These are the voyages of a starship enterprise… These are the words that were an intricate part of most of our childhood days, when each of us wanted to be a Mr. Kirk or even a Mr.Spock! "Beam me up Scotty!!!" used to be our favorite catch phrase.
While you are caught up in a nostalgia uncalled for, let me ask you a question, do those words still make any sense? Or do you dismiss them as just being a childhood delusion? Don't worry. These were the exact questions that I was asking myself yesterday and do you know the answer for these that my sub-conscious gave me? "YES" and yours will too.
All these thoughts wafted me to the world of "black holes", the key for time travel. Scientists have come up with a hypothesis according to which if you are suspended in a world with a lower number of clock ticks per second you will travel to the past. Considering our earlier perception of time travel, as induced by H.G.Wells you may presume that you would be actually revisiting those moments of your life that you have actually experienced earlier. This leads to the million-dollar puzzle. Here it is for the novices: If a great grandson of H.G.Wells visits his ancestor, does it mean that the visit goaded him to actually conceive and write "The Time Machine"? or is it his writing that goaded the scientists to invent it?
Either way, the proposal of an infinite parallel world has reduced the probability of that event. The infinite parallel world theory says that, there is an infinite number of parallel worlds that are ticking their clocks simultaneously and if we slow down ours, we may land up in any of those worlds, and not necessarily the one that we came from. Yes, it does mean that at the very place you are sitting and reading this article, certain other things may be simultaneously happening too, but are not visible to you due to your myriad status. Nevertheless, many of us would have experienced it.Sometimes you feel that someone just called you. But there may be no one around. A group of scientist(I dont remember which university) had conducted an experiment on a billiards board to explain this phenomenon.
When a player targetted one of the balls and gave a strike the ball started rolling in a particular direction. But then as it rolled it slowly started altering it straight path. Critics said that according to the laws of physics this is perfectly normal. But then when they started applying the current laws and started calculating the angle of deviation of the ball, the deviation taken by the ball and the calculated value did not tally. Surprisingly, several billiards players(and players of other games) have faced this kind of a situation. When critics do not get their way the only plausible explanation is "the Paranormal" factor.
Para-scientists say that, when the ball started rolling it collided with another one in the parallel world and hence the deviation.
All these may be the foundation of "The instinct", a quality not found in many other species. Events happening in your world are often influenced by those happening in the parallel worlds and hence may rekindle your "instincts" that often harbinger many of the twists in your life.
So, it may not be entirely wrong to start trusting your instincts as they may be messages from the parallel world:-)