Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wakil Sahab Ki Beti Ki Shaadi

I had been preparing for CAT, or rather just waiting for 19th of November. The day after which I will not feel guilty spending time doing nothing. Waking up late on week ends (well I do wake up late on week days also Thanks to CSC:-)),playing corporate cricket and watching movies. How much did I miss these activities? Not that I didn’t do it, but it had an element of guilt associated with it.

CAT was finally over and as planned i was going home. It was a surprise visit. I had told my parents that I don’t get leaves so easily, and can’t make it to Cuttack till Jan end. Being In CSC this was probably joke of the year(I don’t know why I just keep coming back to CSC).The train journey was ok. I was in bogie mostly occupied with Biharis. There was guy named Mr. Jaydeep Tyagi working with Oracle. He had a habit of asking each and every one which state one belongs to. By everyone I mean every one. Even the staff of pantry was replying to his questions. There was one more guy from Dhanbaad who came to his seat very late. I was happily reading a book on the top birth using but I was ready for the inevitable question.

Mr. Jaydeep:Kahan se Hain aap?
GFD(Guy from Dhanbaad): Bihar

Mr. Jaydeep:Apne kaun shaher se bani
GFD: Dhanbaad

Mr. Jaydeep:Oh Badhiya hai

Mr. Jaydeep:Are mere ek dost ki shaadi Dhanbaad ki kisi Wakil ki beti se hui hai.
GFD:Kaun? Chote Lal ki beti ke saath(I had absolutely no idea how did he zeroed on Chote Lal)

Mr. Jaydeep:Naam to pata nahin

Mr. Jaydeep starts giving intricate details about Wakil sahab, his appearance, the clothes that he was wearing. He was also describing the guy that girl was married to. He was literally reading out the whole menu that was served in the marriage. By now I had stopped reading. The book was far less interesting than the conversation that was taking place. I was eager to know that will Jaydeep be able to explain whose marriage he attended.

Mr. Jaydeep:Wakil Sahab ne Kale rang ki Sherwani peheni thi aur saath main nagra pehena hua tha.Wakil Sahab Chashma bhi lagate hain.Mere dost ne gehere Neele rang ka suit pehena tha.Bol raha tha ki Reid and Taylor ka kapda hai aur paas wale hi darzi se silwaya hain.
GFD:Reid and Taylor?Amit ji wala(I had never expected that Amitabh Bacchan will have contribution to this talk.)

Mr. Jaydeep:Haan Amitji wala.Kya actor hain(I was just hoping that this talk doesnt gets abbrected to Amitabh Bacchan)
Mr. Jaydeep:Shaadi main kharcha bahut kiya tha.Mithai specially bahar se mangwayi thi.Aur aisa sunane main aaya tha ki dahez bhi kafi diya tha

After listening to the details provided by Mr. Jaydeep , GFD had a look which Byomkesh Bakshi(The famous Bangla detective) had before cracking a murder mystrey.

GFD:Matlab paise waali party hai.
Mr. Jaydeep:Shaadi dekh kar lagta to aisa hi tha.Kuch log to yeh bhi bol rahe the ki Wakil Sahab ke political contacts bhi hain.

GFD:Tab to pakka Wakil Sahab Rajdeep Singh Thakur honge(I dont know how GFD came to this conclusion.In Bihar i guess 99.99% lawyers must be having political contacts)
GFD:Achha shaadi kab hui thi?
Mr. Jaydeep:Do saal pehele.Thandh ka samay tha.

Thandh ka samay??I had not expected this from a perfectionist who even knew the details of the shop from where sweets were ordered.Common he could have at least recalled the month, Which could have helped our Byomkesh Bakshi.GFD was still having that same expression.His mind was still GOOGLING.

GFD:Par Chote Lal aur Rajdeep Singh Thakur ki betiyon ki shaadi hue 5 saal ho gaye hain.

Manoo Kapoor(on the top seat): Dhath sala sab chaupat(Mind you this was loud.It was audible to the guys below.)

Both of them were staring straight at me. My good old book came to my rescue. I pretended as if the words which came out were a result of some plot not going as per my expectations in the book. I retreated to a position from where I was not visible to those guys, and I again turned my ears to the receive mode.

There were no words spoken from either of them for next 10 min.There was absolute silence, I started getting restless.I thought the mystery will never be solved.But then Mr. Jaydeep was dialing some number.

Mr. Jaydeep:Mahesh kya haal chaal?Yaar Vivek ka number hai tere paas?Usse baat kiye 2 saal ho gaye hain.Shaadi ki baad baat hi nahin ho payi

Mr. Jaydeep was noting down a number on a piece of paper.

Mr. Jaydeep:Chal phir ghar pahunch kar phone karta hoon.

Mr. Jaydeep started dialling the number he had noted down

Mr. Jaydeep:Vivek bhai Namaste.Sale madar**** shaadi ke baad doston ko bhool hi gaya hain tu

Vivek on the other side giving some explanation.

Vivek:Yaar "TIME" hi nahin mila.Bahut "Busy" hoon.(I guess he said this)
Mr. Jaydeep:Haan Haan bahut bada aadmi ban gaya hai tu ki doston ke liye time hi nahin milta tuje

I felt terribly dejected to listen to this.Even a guy named Vivek living in some part of Bihar is busy, and i have no work for the past 6 months.God save me from CSC.
By now i had lost interest and was again starting to concentrate on the book that i was reading.

Mr. Jaydeep:Yaar Vivek tere Sasur ji Wakil hain na?

I became alert but at the same time i was surprised.What on earth made Mr. Jaydeep so desperate that he called up some common friend to get Groom's number that to when his phone was on "ROAMING".Moreover i wanted to know what was Vivek thiking.He must have been surprised to hear from Jaydeep after 2 years and on top of that Jaydeep called him so late at night to find out his Father in Law's name.

Mr. Jaydeep:Yaar yahan ek mahashay hain jo ki Dhanbaad ke hain.Baaton baaton teri shaadi ka zikar kiya maine.Par yaar tere Sasur ji ka naam yaad hi nahin aa raha tha.Bahut der se yad karne ki koshish kar raha hoon.
Mr. Jaydeep to GSD:Unka naam Triloki Naath hai.

GFD:Knodding his head in acceptance

After a few minutes Mr. Jaydeep hung up the phone

GFD(With a broad Grin on his face):Are Tirloki Nath ji ki beti ki shaadi main gaye the aap.Haan suna tha ki bahut badhiya shaadi hui thi.Dahez main car di gayi thi aur bahut sona bhi diya tha.Are bhai political contacts bhi bahut hain unke.Shaadi ki mithai Jaamnagar ke kisi rasoiye ke yahan se aayi thi.

I came to know one thing that apart from knowing the details of Indian Railways Biharis are very particular about Mithai shops. But I felt very relieved. The find was over. Tirloki Nath was the man we were looking for and we have found him.

GFD:Are bhai late bahut ho gaya hai.Soya jaye.

GFD started pulling out a bed cover and a pillow.I was also felt tired and decided to go and brush my teeth.

While brushing my teeth.Mr. Jaydeep was waiting to wash his face.I had enough details about Sasurji and Vivek,but there was no mention about Wakil Sahab ki beti.So i asked

Manoo Kapoor:Wakil sahab ki beti ka naam kya tha?

There was no answer from his side.I thought that i shouldnt have asked her name.Might be Mr. Jaydeep was of a very orthodox mind set.I washed my face and gave way to Mr. Jaydeep.When i was about to leave he said

Mr. Jaydeep:Dude my phone's "ROAMING" never got activated.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Is India On the Right Track

It all started in the year 1991 when Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister of the Narsimha Rao government, "decided" to enter the world of economic liberalization and Globalization. Well that is what Congress says. That they "decided" on this path. The truth being the government was left with no other choice. In 1980's the Private savings financed most of India's investments. But it was difficult to sustain this investment and as a result India started borrowing from foreign resources. This led to a payment crisis. Facing this economic crisis, India approached the IMF which granted "structural adjustment" loan: a loan with certain conditions. India was thus tunneled into a structured economy which was based on reforms like Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization.

Liberalization: Aimed at removing government control on trade and business
Privatization: Aimed at reducing public sector units and converting them into private sector units
Globalization: Aimed at increasing the interdependence, integration and interaction between people and trade of disparate countries.

In general people have two opinions about free trade globalization of business. The first opinion being that it is an engine which will drive us towards better standards of living and robust economy. While second defines it as “corporate imperialism" which tramples human rights of people.

Being a S/W engineer working in an MNC I’m inclined to accept the former opinion as I am one of the millions who are directly benefited from it. The ever increasing Foreign Direct Investment in India and share markets scaling new heights every day have been underlined quite regularly in the recent past by our media. Even the BJP government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee tried to showcase their achievements based on the India Shinning campaign. They tried their best to focus the campaign on the rising GDP of Indian Economy. I along with most of the people in BJP camp was quite sure of 5 more years of BJP rule. But the verdict given by the Indian voters was quite different.

To some extent I do believe open trade and competition have benefited the Indian manufacturing industry and brand India has now become far more acceptable that it was in the 1990's.The bigger players in market have profited from open markets, but at the same time the small scale industries' graph is on a downslide. I think this can be avoided with an introduction of some more reforms in the manufacturing sector.

The real problem lies in rural India. Increased number of suicides committed by farmers has done no good to the claims offered by advocators of globalization who say that it will help in eradication of poverty. Some statistics do show that poverty in India has come down but I strongly believe that the whole process of calculating the number of people living below poverty line is flawed and needs to recalculated

Agriculture employs 60% of the Indian population but contributes to approx 20% of the GDP. Agricultural production fell by 12.6% in 2003; one of the sharpest drops in terms of crop production in the history of independent India. Agricultural growth slowed from 4.69% in 1991 to 2.6% in 1997-1998 and to 1.1% in 2002-2003. (Agricultural Statistics at a Glance, 2006).The greatest problem that farmers are facing today is "debt”. The poor farmers of India are in the inclement hands of moneylenders. The introduction of microfinance has not contributed much in alleviating the problems of Indian farmers. The earlier seed market was regulated in terms of price and quality, but with liberalization the farmers were in the hands of global agribusiness. The farmers were provided genetically modified seeds at a price hike of 3555%. On top of this, the government had to reduce subsidies (as per IMF conditions) on pesticides and fertilizers. All these contributed to an increase in the prices of Indian crops. With the withdrawal of tariffs and duties on imports, cheaper products of foreign market flooded India. As a result, the Indian farmer was not able to sell his crop even in Indian market. He was strangled in a debt trap.

One more aspect that strikes my mind is privatization. Privatization was aimed at increasing productivity and competition which, in turn, removed monopoly. But privatization in India was always aimed at generating revenue for the government. It is true that not all public sector units introduced by Congress in the late 1970's are profit-making ones and so, privatization should aim to target non profit making sectors.

We often compare India with China and how these two countries might become super powers in the near future. But the fact is both countries have their own internal problems. On one hand China is way ahead that India in terms of Technology and Infrastructure but China has undermined local entrepreneurship in favor of foreign direct investment. On the other hand India has built an infrastructure that allows entrepreneurship but is still fighting to spread the benefits of liberalization to a larger segment of its population.

The recent protests have helped .They have been successful in scrutinizing the processes adopted by WTO. There are questions raised about the matter of agricultural subsidies given in rich countries. Moreover, the developing countries have realized that something has to be done. Trade liberalization is ok but only if it’s done after bringing all partners at par. It’s not globalization or liberalization but economic mismanagement that is often the root cause of many problems.

The current danger to India is not Economic Liberalization but economic mismanagement of the past which can only be faced by sound polices of economic adjustment and an even spread of benefits among the masses.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Famous IF Then Else Condition

I somehow was not able to come up with a title more apt than the one I kept for this post of mine. I guess this particular "condition" has contributed the most in making me think. The amount of introspection that I have done in the last ten months, or so, has been largely due to it.

Anyone reading this blog (if at all someone is) must know about the "If Then Else Condition". It’s the same that we use in programming languages. I had used this umpteen number of times during my engineering days but then had never realized it creeping into my life. I was oblivious of its presence, but it was there with me. Making important decisions of "my" life and making me follow a pattern devised by someone else.

Most of you may be puzzled as to how a simple IF Then Else Condition could’ve decided someone's fate. Rethink. There must have been some symptoms of this in your life. Don’t you carry some of the common beliefs that most of our parents have had? Like "My son is good in Mathematics. He is surely going to become an Engineer'' or "My Daughter secured A+ in biology she would be appearing entrance for MBBS".

I have been adhering to such conditions. They were never set by me. was good at mathematics; so, I had to become an engineer. So here I was ,barely 15 days after my board examinations, sitting in a packed class of 45 odd aspiring IITans , religiously solving complex Trigonometry equations . I am sure there were quite a few like me who had the patience of sitting through that 3 hr long class just because they could have ‘Kalia's chicken champ’ after the class.

After a few hiccups I did clear an engineering entrance exam and entered a good college. The first three years were good. The creepy "condition" had not made its appearance. One day I called up my parents and my Dad asked me "Beta MBA nahin kar rahe ho kya?".There it was. I knew it was back. This time I had made a decision that I won’t fall into the trap of this "loop”. I was not sure about doing management; so, I decided to get some work ex.

My company was a little too employee friendly. There was absolutely no work for the so called developers. It’s bewildering how this very word has lost all its significance in just 10 months. I started feeling guilty as I was not working on the week days and this guilt pushed me to enroll in the TIME cat coaching center. The moment I entered the class I had the same feeling as I had in my first tuition class for engg entrance exams with the only difference in the latter being that the class comprised of 80 plus students. In one of the classes I asked a lady sitting beside me as to why did she want to do an MBA.With a grin on her face she said "There is no other way that I can postpone my marriage”. There were some other weird answers to this question as well like "My friend has challenged me” or "Both my room mates are preparing for GREE I need to do something”. I guess these guys were in the same state of confusion as I was.

One of my friends did argue that an Indian student has limited options and a lot of responsibilities which contribute to his/her decision making or rather his/her inability to take decisions. I agreed with his argument to some extent . But there were still a lot of questions which were unanswered. Questions like ‘why should I do higher studies to prove I am successful in life?’ or ‘why someone with a better car or a better house should be more successful than I?’

I guess the fact that most of us associate success with money would answer some of the above questions. I wouldn’t deny that I want money and fame in life but definitely not at the expense of hundreds of question marks. So lets not give our lives in the hands of conditional statements and question marks .As one of my writer-friends aptly said, "Of all the kinds of imprisonments that we find ourselves living in, one of the worst is to carry a question mark as a legacy of our past or as a precursor of the future."