Showing posts from August, 2013

Second Coming at IMT Nagpur- Musings

Musings on my Second Innings (Feb-Sept 2013)
Came back to IMT Nagpur just before the Convocation 2013 in March. It was executed flawlessly again, and Mr. Azim Premji was a very nice Chief Guest (simple, humble and focussed) to have. A farewell party for outgoing students in February was a highlight. Made some new acquaintances among the departing students- Dushyant, Madhulika, Esheeta, Haritima, ...
Now, as I prepare to go back to Ghaziabad, I am looking back at a few things that happened between then and now. We (IMT Nagpur) became a member of the AACSB, and plan to apply for the global accreditation. We have also applied to the Indian accreditor of B-Schools, the NBA.
We revamped the curriculum and evaluation methodology in a series of meetings at Nagpur and at Marble Rocks, Bhedaghat (off-site) in April, to address dissatisfaction among students and faculty. Done through a consensus among faculty, it should stick. Three bright young faculty, PhDs/FPMs from  IIML, IISc.  and NITIE, jo…

Interview with a Stock Market Analyst

Mr. Shah, expert on stock markets, is being interviewed by the PYA (Pretty Young Anchor, of which there are many on television)-
PYA: Mr. Shah, what do you recommend today?
Shah: Well, I think half the Gujjus will have dhokla today, so I see an upside in flour making companies specialising in Chana Dal....
PYA: How about Banking, Pharma, IT, and Metals? Should you go long or short, Mr. Shah?
Shah: Well, it’s been a long time since I was so bullish on IT stocks. If the rupee goes to a hundred against the dollar, they’ll double their sales turnover by doing nothing. It’s like a magic trick, or alchemy.. so I am going gaga (no threat to the Lady) over IT now. Pharma, I am also sure will also do well, as the rupee is giving high BP and heart trouble to all the importers in our country. So they have to do well, there is no option.. Banking, I will say that people don’t want their hard-earned rupees to go waste, so they will buy gold as that is the only tangible asset they can see. Real-estate i…

Cellphone Etiquette

A cellphone, though useful sometimes, is the most invasive tool ever invented by mankind, heat-seeking missiles included. Here are some tips for its use on me.

I am not a teenager and you are not my girlfriend. Therefore, I am not waiting for your call. Sorry, I got better things to do (eat, sleep, work, blog, golf, stare into space etc.), so if possible, stay away from your cell- and DON'T call me. Note: This does not apply to about 6 people. And, I KNOW who they are. You can guess who.

If you have to call, be prepared for my not wanting to answer. It's my cell, and my prerogative. Some days, I may not charge it, if I don't want to. Obama will not stop bombing Syria if I pick up your call.

I have some email IDs that could be accessible if you try and find out. Please send me a note explaining why I should talk to you. I will think about it.

Don't ever try to sell on the cell to me. I most likely will never buy from you after that. Even if it's a free holiday to H…

The Name of the Rose- Film Review

I caught this by chance on the World Movies channel. The book (by Umberto Eco, translated from the Italian) I had read a couple of years ago. This is a classical tale of ancient Italy, with intrigue in an abbey where there is a large library of handwritten and translated tomes from around the world.

It is such a tome translated from the Greek that becomes the reason for the intrigue, and murder, because it has the potential to challenge the existing dictates of the Church. How? It advocates doubt and laughter. And it is written by Aristotle. So scared is one of the older monks there that he prevents the book's discovery, and kills anyone who finds it or tries to. There are sidelights like a witch-hunt, and the love story of the young monk with a village girl who gets accused of being the witch.

Brother William, a somewhat maverick monk, along with his understudy, figures out the truth, but not before a lot of drama happens on this remote hill-top abbey. The story is engrossing, a…

Farewell My Concubine

This is the title of a classic Chinese film made in 1993. I had heard about it somewhere long ago, and got a chance to view it today. It is stupendous, and unlike many of today's films that can't keep you interested for even an hour and a half, it leaves you wanting more after 170 minutes! That's real art, in my view.

Like Dr. Zhivago does for Russia, it also takes in a lot of the history of China from the Japan-China war to the Chiang Kai Shek era, to the communist takeover and the Cultural Revolution. But all this is in the backdrop. The story is of two boys who become stage partners in an opera company and perform the role of the King and his concubine who remains loyal to him through thick and thin, finally laying down her life for him when his kingdom is about to be lost to a rival. The name of the opera they perform successfully is Farewell, My Concubine. This itself is mesmerising, and holds one spellbound when it is on, a few times in the movie.

As they turn succe…

Solving Grave Problems in a Jiffy

I was thinking. About grave problems that the media tell us we are facing these days. And then, I thought about them for about 30 minutes. And bingo, came up with solutions for all of them. Here they are-

How to Stop Chinese Incursions

-Threaten to exchange our currency for theirs. We get a strong currency, and get rid of the Chinese, at one stroke.

Problem of Import of Oil Leading to Current Account Deficit (CAD)-whatever that is.

-Make Nano the only passenger car that can be sold in India. This solves all the above, in addition to solving the parking issue, and congestion on our roads.

-Another one for the CAD. Ban gold possession by individuals, citing ancient and modern philosophers. We are the land of Buddha, who taught renunciation. The women ,may not vote for you, but that is a calculated risk, because the men might!

If you ban gold, it will automatically boost the bank deposits and stock market investments by Indians, and we don't need FIIs (whatever they are) to do that.…

Tamilnadu Diaries

This is a brief travelogue of recent forays we made into the deep end of eastern Tamilnadu. On the way back from a golfing trip to Kodaikanal, we decided to be adventurous and ventured into the area near Vedaranyam, and the tip of the sea nearby at Kodikkarai (pic 2 with me and the boat). Sri Lanka is easily accessible from there. The Tamilnadu government wants to turn the area into an ecotourism destination, as there are forests with animals and birds in and around. Vedaranyam is also a big salt-producing area, with around 5 lakh tonnes of the stuff being produced in a year.

Our route took us from Kodaikanal through Madurai, and after a lunch halt at Mellur (pic no. 1- Biryani in what is called a military hotel in those parts), through Pudukottai,

Pattukottai, , Muthupetta to Vedaranyam and on to Kodikkarai by the sea. Got there just in time for a breezy sunset. We took another route to reach Trichy, our night halt, by way of Mannargudi, and Thanjavur.

Next morning, after a stay at …

Kodaikanal -golfing in

This was my second golfing vacation in India, not counting a visit to BEML in Kolar near Bangalore. Second time in Kodai, which has a tough golf course, but a hospitable one outside the course.

Some pics might help explain the feeling you get when playing there.

Film Review- Chennai Express

Having seen Bol Bachchan, I knew what to expect..kind of. Like David Dhawan before him, Rohit Shetty seems to have a brand of humour mixed with action, of his own. It works, mostly. Leave your brains behind, and it's fun.

A Don whose lovely daughter runs away from an unwanted marriage, and is abducted by his goons (and her cousins!) to be brought back to his 'territory' sounds corny enough, but in the days of khap panchayats and honour killings, it is believable. Trouble is, our hero gets embroiled in it, and despite many attempts to get away, he remains embroiled. Until he falls in love, that is.

There is a lot of humour, and though it's not as sparkling as some other films old and new, it's probably the best one can expect in today's age. The LOL days (Angoor, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Padosan, Bombay to Goa, Chashme Baddoor) are long gone, I presume. But Shah Rukh, whose last few films I had boycotted for obvious reasons, does a pretty decent job of this courag…

Women of Substance

These are not mythical entities, but real ones. Three such accomplished women visited IMT Nagpur recently for a guest lecture.

Sandhya Sekhar was till recently, CEO of a unique Research Park near IIT Chennai. This is an initiative that leads India-based corporates to do research that is likely to transform products, services, processes, even raw materials, or fuels, with India in mind. Needless to say, original research is sparse in India, in most fields, so this is a great idea. It also took a lot of time and energy to sell the concept to all the funding agencies. But the baby was finally born, and is going great guns. Quite incidentally, Sandhya was a classmate at IIMB around 30 years ago.

Devapriya Roy is a recent friend I made after reading her impressive first book, The Vague Woman's Handbook. A great communicator, and a very friendly, unpretentious soul, she has another piece of fiction, The Weight Loss Club (weight loss has to be fiction, you might say). She has also model…

Lonar Crater - A Pictorial Tour

Here are pics worth a few thousand words- the original meteorite that caused the hole is buried deep below the water. The humans seen are Prof Ravi Gadgil in blue, self in red and spouse even redder.

Anopheles and the Vanishing Rupee Trick

Ok, this is the latest tete-a-tete with my old friend Anopheles. For those who came in late, she is a female mosquito who specialises in intelligent conversation, sometimes giving me a complex.

This time, she asked me what problems my countrymen were facing. Brainwashed by the stories on TV every breathtaking hour, I replied, "The falling rupee."

She said, "What do you mean?"

I explained, "It's our currency. The rupee. It has fallen to an all-time low against the American currency, the US dollar."

She seemed amused. "Do you travel abroad frequently?"
"No," I said.
"Do you need something so badly that you have to import it?"
I was about to say "gold" but checked myself and said, "Not really."

"Then, pray, how does the rupee fall bother you?" she wanted to know.
I was a bit flummoxed. Then I thought of a killer reply "We need petrol and diesel, you know.That has to be imported. So we need…

Dancing Heroes

Heroes have to dance in Hindi films. That's a given, and except a couple of them, all others have fallen in line, dancing.

Mithun Chakraborty was one such who rose rapidly when he danced to some Bappi Lahiri tunes. One such movie was Wardaat. In this he gyrated to some fun steps in Dekha hai maine tujhe phir se palat ke and so on. Suraksha was another combo movie of this duo. Disco Dancer was another, and Kasam Paida Karne wale Ki where he teamed up with an unusual beauty, Salma Agha, was yet another.

Jeetendra was known for his tight pants and white shoes, but he managed to dance nevertheless. Farz, Humjoli (Hai re hai, neend nahi aaye), a couple of films with Mumtaz, and a host of them with Sridevi (Mawali, Himmatwala), were made for his energetic brand of song and dance. Dildaar, Judaai were some others.

Kamal hasan was a good dancer too, but his forays into Hindi films were limited. Sanam teri Kasam and Ek Duuje Liye were two where he did show his prowess.

Rishi Kapoor probab…

Leadership- Faculty Management

This is a longish post, with some original thoughts based on my experiences on leading B schools.

Faculty Management

I found faculty the easiest to manage, for some reason, in my few years as head of various institutions. According to me, the key is to treat the faculty as an equal unless you have some reason to exert your authority. I was a faculty member once, and found this above-mentioned facet to be a key differentiator in the way I was dealt with by various bosses.
I am not suggesting that this is the same as abdicating your responsibility or not thinking problems through. For example, assertiveness is required in some situations. For instance, I have had to sack faculty in exceptional circumstances too, but they were exceptional. I was also forced to take a call on performance evaluations at times, in unpleasant ways, but did not shy away from it.
But in the normal course of events, faculty are your biggest assets, and should be respected as such. They will actually go beyond the…

Lonar Crater

Planning a trip to Lonar crater this long weekend. What that is (Indian English), you may well ask. So I will try and explain. Nagpur is in the far east of Maharashtra, a biggish state. It is about 900 kms. wide, the state.

Somewhere to the west/south-west of Nagpur lies a little known town, Lonar, in a district known as Buldhana. There, in or near the town, lies a crater formed by a meteorite that hit the earth some thousands/millions (not sure of the units here) of years ago. This was a huge meteorite, and would have flattened anything in its way. Glad I was not in the way.

Anyway, it left behind a crater, that filled up into a lake. Remember seeing a similar crater in the U.S. somewhere- probably Arizona, where we saw a sign and took a detour. More on this after the trip.

Continued...Hat Tricks

Laxmikant Pyarelal had two hat tricks that I can recall (a hat trick being defined as a movie album with three or more hit songs.

Shagird which had the famous Dil vil pyaar vyaar main kya janu re.. and Bade miya deewane aise na bano, haseena kya chahe, hum se suno picturised on Joy Mukherjee and I.S. Johar. And, Woh hain zara, khafa, khafa,...

Bobby which brought in Dimple and Rishi Kapoor as a lead pair and captured the hearts of teenage lovers in the seventies, had great music from them, almost every song still remembered. HUm tum ek kamre mein band hon, ...Main shayar to nahin, Jhooth bole kauvva kate, Na maangun sona chandi with its Goan twist of Ghe, ghe ghe ghe re, ghe re saiba,.and so on.

R.D. Burman had numerous hits to his credit in the hat tricks department.

Mere Jeevan Sathi, Teesri Manzil, Kati Patang, Aandhi, Ajnabee, Jawani Diwani, The Train, Aap ki Kasam, Namak Haraam, Amar Prem, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Yaadon ki Baaraat, were some. No wonder it was tough to forget RD an…

Hat Tricks- Movie Songs

I have no idea where the hat comes in, but it is customary to call it a hat trick when you have three successes in a row. But the context in which I am using it is that of a movie album. A typical Hindi film had about six songs, at least in the days that I watched them regularly. Out of these, if three were big hits, the album was a 'hit'. And the late sixties and seventies that I remember the most, had several such musical superhits. I shall attempt chronicling a few.

Kismat (1968) starring Biswajeet. It had Laakhon hain yahan dilwaale, and Aankhon mein kayamat ke kajal, and Kajra mohabbat wala..I think it was O.P. Nayyar who tuned the songs. O.P. also had Kashmir ki Kali, and Ek Baar Muskura Do in which he had Kishore Kumar sing most of the songs, unlike his earlier films. Roop tera aisa darpan mein na samaaye, the title song, and a Savere ka suraj tumhare liye hai were some of those hits.

S.D. Burman had one of his greatest musical hits (for me) in Teen Deviyan. The magica…