Thursday, June 29, 2006

Drucker with Das

Picked up The Essential Drucker and Gurcharan Das's 'The Elephant Paradigm'... Coming weekend is going to be insigtful provided my home alone idler self (P uses 'bum around' to describe the act) can weigh down on the restrained outgoing self.

And wine and cheese is forever going to remind me of Ricardian model of International trade now, in addition to that journey home.


1) Another round of exams approaching tomorrow. Not all grades are out for term 1, but the ones out have done a trick or two on the student aspirations. Many: 'If half of 418 are to get a B, be the last in the 209, and get a life here.' Some: 'Missed the high grade by whisker, let's gun better this time.' A rare few: 'I've done well. I've raised the bar for myself .' Me: 'Which success do I need more?'

2) A very good session "Editors Round Table" being held at ISB the coming Saturday. Five inkmen talking about " Is the lack of political involvement amongst the youth a threat to economic growth?" If anyone's headed here, register here and drop in.

Alam Srinivas – Editor, Outlook Group
Kaveree Bamzai – Executive Editor, India Today
CRL Narasimhan - Associate Editor, The Hindu
Kumar Ketkar - Chief Editor, Indian Express Group
Niranjan Rajadhyaksha – Deputy Editor, Businessworld

3) Global Economics (Krishna Kumar, USC): The fav course this term for most. It's fascinating to know how Savings, Consumption, Investments link up to National Current Account (and that again is linked to Trade Surplus/Deficit), but it's so difficult to move beyond the equations and intuit about the underlying principles without thinking about those Marginal this and Marginal that graphs. A fed interrest hike will have many consequences... what factors improve and what don't? I can't answer without first jotting down MPK = r + d and drawing the Savings/Investment curves. Somebody please take the engineer out of me!

4) Watch Commanding Heights if you want to know everything about the World economy in 1900's. Krishna being from the Chicago school of Economists, has us convinced that Classical (von Hayek) rules, and Keynesian is outdated. Briefly:

Classical Economics says:
- Free trade, free markets ensure speedy movement of wages and prices towards new equilibriums.
- Unemployment is voluntary.

Keynesian view retorts:
- Prices and Wages are 'sticky' when going down (during recession) and unemployment is the result of this disequilibrium.
- Government expenditure has to step in to kick-start the sagging Capital Investment and Labour demand. WWII brought America out of the recession by Govt. military spending.

5) I seriously need to order my thoughts, and get my act together.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Two paths... very simple, each of them. None of them is going to get me anything that I don't have. And none would extract a price too high either. Some times the most complicated decisions are easy to make because analytical clarity chooses the right price for the right return, and the simple ones vex you by their utter lack of both risk and reward.
Hey there, two mud roads,
I know you meet each other
In a furlong or further two.
And still I seek another.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


The Nutan Mumbai Tiffinbox Suppliers, or Mumbai Dabbawallas came calling to ISB today, for an elaborate presentation on their methods and six-sigma status. Mr. Raghunath Medge (President) and Mr. Gangarao Talekar (Secretary) gave simple speeches with lots of native wit thrown in. The efficiency of 1 error in 16 million transactions which translates to 99.999999% probability of successful dabba delivery is achieved by a unique letter & colour coding scheme. One that obviates the need for the delivery address and the name. Amazingly, though the scheme doesn't include return address, the dabba reaches back home everyday without fail. Process, supply-chain, six-sigma... 'ye sab kya hai, pata to nahi... par kaam ho jaata hai' quipped Mr. Talekar.

Manish who had come with them presented 'IT's role in dabbawalas'. I didn't quite like the content and tone... more importantly, the core idea of IT'izing the supply chain. Training the dabbawalas to use more savvy methods of delivery, bringing mechanical efficiency into this all-human efficient model, is akin to fixing something that ain't broken. Again, macro-economics teaches us that training and technofication would move the dabbawalas up the value chain, fewer leg-work men may be required, wages would increase quickly, and the little industry may soon lose its cost advantage. Do use IT for promotion and consumer redressal. Let it not touch the gandhi-topis moving effortlessly, reshuffling hundreds of tiffins in Mumbai local trains, readying each for one of the 2 lac who value fresh home food at work.


When I said I'll stay, I meant I'll try.
When I flew, I knew, I'll never come by
Music, odours, roses and leaves again.
Prick the soap bubble, or just wait... it'll fall and die.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Is happiness like energy, to which the law of conservation applies or like entropy, the sum total of which increases in every system over time.
I see happy people around me. Should I feel happier? I see two little kids smiling as I sing or play to them. I do feel happier. Some reactions are exothermic, and others endothermic. Some interactions give out net joy and leave behind a warm admixture. Some suck enough happiness and have a freezing residual compound.
Philosophy starts with analogy but continues on to... well... to philosophy. No truth is permanent, but some truths are factoids, and maybe I prefer those, cause if a truth is not debatable, it's not worth it's while.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Krishna Kumar, our professor for Global Economics, has the smarts and the funnies too. In a couple sentences he can elucidate Repo and Reverse Repo rates, GDP vs. GNP, Labor Productivity vs. Total Factor of Productivity. Brevity with clarity is what makes a good professor great. Just like Prof. Raju, who summed up 6 weeks in 10 minutes in his last lecture on Marketing Management. Global Economics seems a vast subject. How much can we siphon out of up-there Prof. Kumar through the 2-hour narrow pipes of his class?
And humor:
- I have little comparative advantage over the text book and google on specific institutional questions (e.g. are the bank reserves physically stored in the RBI or the banks themselves?). Honestly, I don't know the answers to such questions.
- GDP/workers may be a better measure than GDP/population, as in a population there may be kids who don't work, retired people who don't work... government employees, who don't work either.
It's going to be two hours of learning International Trade and Globalization. Good fun.

Monday, June 12, 2006


I forget names and faces, I forget important appointments, I forget class discussions, I forget birthdays, I forget daily routine, I forget movies, plays I see, books I read. I forget my keys, my laptop, my bike, my money... I am sure I forget other things that I can't recall now.
I just have to keep some things in. It's okay that I totally forgot it was Silverstone British GP day today (where Kimi had one second worth of hard luck at the final pit stop I read). But what do I do with my mind when it manages to retain exactly zero of the pre-read chapter I had just finished before leaving for the birthday bash of Di's?
In the unlikely circumstance that a lost soul reads my blog as a prep-reference for ISB, he should know that ISB needs retention more than it does quick grasping. Not many would expect you to figure everything out in a course of 6 weeks, but you're wasting good money if that fraction of the course your intelligence conquered and gloated over during the term break, leaks out by the next term-break.
I remember gulping spoonfuls of Shankhpushpi memory enhancing ayurvedic syrup when in class tenth, to aid memorizing which Indian state produced what crop and minerals. It didn't help then, though enough hard labour did manage to keep the facts mugged long enough. Maybe I should seek help in meditation. But you know how those gurus when putting you in a trance go, "Just let go of your mind and body... forget all your pains and joys" with a sombre voice and a beatific smile...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Aparajito - Unvanquished

Aparajito is the 2nd masterpiece after Pather Panchali in the Apu Trilogy of Satyajit Ray. I watched it yesterday after coming back from a perfect little trip to Bidar with friends.

Harihar, Sarbojaya and Apu move to Benares after Durga's death. They are making ends meet nicely, living off Harihar's earnings as a Kashi ghat priest (or panda) and one-off vaidya. Apu is happy with his new friends and experiences the vast mix of intrigues in Benares, all centered around religion, with wide eyes... On the ghats:- the kathas of the pandas and the morning exercise of the the mallkhamb body-builder, in the temple:- the sandhya aarti and the monkeys, and... Diwali.

Again, Ray chooses to juxtapose happiness with sadness like in Pather Panchali. Harihar falls seriously sick while shopping for Diwali. While outside there are firecrackers and kids shouting, one knows seeing Harihar lying on the bed and his tired smiles that not all is going to be well. He talks to Apu about his friend, Shambhu who teaches him English, and to Sarbojaya about a new baadi he wants to move into. Several days later, he dies, and the remaining family moves in with Apu's grandfather in his village.

Apu goes to the village school, does well, goes to Kolkata for higher studies, and while he is learning and growing up, Sarbojaya pines for her child in the village. Filial love does persist in him too, but the expanse of the new world draws him. Apu's is a mind full of curiosity, be it child-like when running around exploring the village, or adoloscent when fathoming eclipses and siphons. Sarbojaya can't give up her possessive love but willingly gives up everything for Apu, including her life. Losing everyone he ever loved, everything his childhood was founded on still doesn't dilute his will to learn, to educate himself. What's more, he knows that not only was Ma's death because his schooling took him away, but also it was her last sacrifice. He goes back to Kolkata for his examinations postponing Ma's last rites.

Both movies have managed to bring out some things bottled up in me. Apur Sansar will finish my cathartic tri-sojourn, following Ray's camera and mind.

Aparajito - Images

A few scenes from Aparajito that moved me:

The first appearance of Apu. Twinkling eyes full of life and... kutuhool. A child assimilates grief much faster than a grown up; after all, he has lots of growing up to do and there's only so much childhood left.

Harihar with a cup of sweetened milk that Sarbojaya has kept aside for him. It takes little to bring him to a smile. He is a blessed spirit with optimism written large on his face.

Apu sees the train rushing by his grandfather's home, and shouts out to Sarbojaya "Ma! Rail gaadi!". It brings back to him Didi's memory, and Baba's. Mother and child at the door watch on as the train whistles along.

Aami School-e Jaabo. Tomaar poisa nahi, Ma?

I can Learn. Loaded with books by his headmaster at school, and yet wanting more.

Apu knows he hurt Ma when he came away in a hurry without looking back at her standing on the doorway. He comes back from the railway station, and too grown up to show his emotions, just says "I missed the train", but with a grin.

Awaiting Apu. Sarbojaya prepares all this for the festival hoping Apu will come, but instead comes his postcard... He has holidays but exams are coming up soon. The mother understands, but the mother can't.

Unvanquished, I go back. Apu going back to Kolkata for exams. He has no family left, he has the guilt of not being there for Ma when she was dying, but he moves on.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Just back from an odd party at the ISB after the final exams. It was supposed to be big, wild, with lots of music, lots of food and lots of fun. The fun fizzled before it could begin, as many decided to head out uptown in seach of costlier booze and hep'er crowd at BNC. While downing the vodka's, I made a little mistake that I'll have to fix asap... and fix the loose tongue too.

Anyways, can't begin to describe the time here. Up and down giant wheel? Round and round merry-go-round? Naah, one of those supernova rides that tear you away from earth a couple hundred meters in seconds and let you free fall. It's fast, it's quick, it's speedy enough to be almost painless. The more pessimistic may think, it's the jhatka death as against the slit-and-bleed halaal of the IIM's. Reminds me of a blog post, by Govindraj Ethiraj comparing ISB with IIM's, something that all of us have been cautious about. After all, it's like comparing Kashmiri Apples to... Sw would know what to compare to(!), dissimilar attributes but equivalent utility.

The exams, 4 of them in 2 days flat left me with a mix of humility and reassurance. There are some big dreams that I will have to give up, but there are somethings that I've ended up picking up quite well, things that are of an analytical sort, that require thinking through. ISB's education's big asset is the constellation of internationally acclaimed professors.

Accounting: Fun to know that Enron was all about accounting for (or not accounting for stock options); Worldcom beefed up liabilities accounts (line costs) in its books, Coca Cola Japan's used channel stuffing to meet revenue targets, Microsoft used Unearned Revenues to smooth Net Income, W. T. Grant's accrued huge sundry debtors while keeping revenue's and income still high. All this... all accounting shenanigans as Prof. Mark Finn termed them.

Marketing: I disliked it the most to begin with, then feared it the most as 6/6/6 (Today is the day of Satan) came close; finally liked it quite a bit just before the exam today, when I could see all the P's and C's line up nicely in front of my mind with their name tags on. After my messy attempt at the exam though... I am not too sure. Next term, it's going to get more clear, concrete, credible, comprehensive and I can't think of a suitable 5th C, when Prof Jagmohan Raju takes us through Marketing Decision Making (or Mark - 2).

Economics: One of the sharpest minds ISB must have had the fortune to have on campus, Prof. Rakesh Vohra taught us the game theory and strategic thinking for 2 weeks after Prof. Amit Bubna had set the foundations right. Most of us are still to catch up with the whirlwind that his lectures and the exam paper were. We knew there's lot of knowledge he has given us, and many kept regurgitating and chewing the cud, but before the assimilation could start came the paper. It did me in. I liked to think, and still do, that analytical thinking is my forte... Haah says the inner voice whenever I think of those 2 hours grappling with 4 innocuous questions that required lots of that and little else; no formulas, no models, just maximize the goddamn profit and/or consumer surplus'es... and I kept thinking How?

Statistics: You'd have found by now by the prev posts I liked Stats the best... have already written some about it. There are many here who would concur with me on that one. No one could have taken them CA's amongst us and made them like Stats, other than the two teachers from Wharton, energetic-to-the-point-of-dramatic Prof. Robert Stine and british-cool-humourous Prof. Richard Waterman who also runs AnaBus.

It's gone by real quick... have the term 2 course material lying besides me on the table - still smelling fresh from the cyclostyle - or whatever they've used to churn out the white elephantine Comp Strat and Decision Models books. Time will soon come when I open the Comp Strat big book to its first case, maybe next Sunday... till then let me watch a couple good movies, read a little and write a bit more poetry maybe. Going on a bike ride to Bidar coming weekend. Will be good fun.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

That Song!

I’m empty, I’m dark
I’m black, I’m blank
There’s mirth here, and life
A sphere and… expanse

I walk in, there’s light
I walk out, there’s none
Look within, there’s love
And without, it’s gone.

Won’t be what I am
Can’t be, what I’m not
This schizophrenic
Will die twice, or rot.

Like a circle, periodic
Like a taut line, stretched long
On the grass lies, my body
While I wander… That Song!