Friday, April 29, 2011


Gaddafi may the biggest story right now. But we will soon realize that there will be more sequels to follow. After Asia, Africa might be the next logical step for an economic take off. But for that to be possible, Africa must rid itself from its many Gaddafis. And Robert Mugabe sure makes that list!

Obama’s popularity ratings might not be high any more, but Mr. Mugabe is flying high as he was ranked as the World’s Top (Worst, of course) Dictator. He could have been another Nelson Mandela that Africa desperately needed. He was the torchbearer of the liberation movement against minority white rule and he emerged as a hero in the minds of many Africans in 1979 when Zimbabwe was finally independent. In 1980 Mugabe was overwhelmingly elected to power and this is where the similarities end. Mugabe seemed to like Hitler more than Mandela. Mugabe steered his country through a period of early decline (1980 – 1999) whose major highlights were union struggles, torturing any opposition, increasing autocracy in public sector and a weakening economy.

Then Mugabe felt that the pace was not enough. So he decided to unleash the period of deep decline (1999 – 2008) on Zimbabwe. And the star this time was “Land Issues”. Mugabe redistributed land as if he was playing a game of Monopoly. Hyperinflation, fuel shortage, drought, food crisis and epidemic also made their presence felt. While life expectancy declined since 1990 from 60 to 42 years, Mugabe was going strong at 84. Inflation in Zimbabwe is so bad that the Government recently released a 50 billion (Zimbabwe dollars!) note just enough to buy 2 loaves of bread. Unemployment rate has gone beyond 85%. Mugabe finally agreed to hold an election in 2008 (how very generous of him). Well you wish! Apparently, he would accept the result only if he won. His supporters killed 163 in the opposition and tortured 5000 and after a “recount”, Mugabe miraculously assumed power again.

But now problems in Zimbabwe have reached such crisis proportions in the areas of living standards and public health that has caught lot of international attention and is causing internal uprisings. Mugabe was first forced so share power with the opposition in late 2008 which might be the first signal that the end may be near. He is up for elections again now and the opposition is so strong now that it can no longer be suppressed by torture. Mugabe has to be more creative than that.

His continued hold on power is a testament to his own wiles and the “mind your elders” deference the international community once showed him. But the people of Zimbabwe have made no such assurances. Mr. Mugabe: I think that there is a difference in being “old” and being “wise”. You can still choose to be “wise”. But you must hurry or you will be too “old” for that!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


There is a reason why we equate our teachers to Gods. They are more intelligent and talented than most of the icons and stalwarts in the corporate world and yet they are proud and content to be churning out more of them! The Kelley MBA program is gifted with some of the best teaching minds in the country. Today we had one last chance to listen to them again. But this time they were teaching us the lesson of life!

It was Rockney who first Mo Mo’ed his way into the classroom. He said he had no agenda. I think he was not supposed to. Today we just wanted to listen! He started off with an accounting concept. (btw.. he teaches Marketing!) Has anyone heard of FILO? I hope Jamie Pratt doesn’t hear that! Sure marketers don’t know their numbers! Well, what he meant was that we should be the first one to enter the office and the last one to leave. He had more advise but the gist was to go out and have fun. I just love him for what he is: an absolute blast! Life is so simple when you are happy!

Phil Powell was at his animated best. I had one last time to see him go airborne. For an American, he was quite candid as to how America is no more the place for big opportunities and how by 2016 China would become the biggest economy while still being in a phase of Economic Takeoff. Unbelievable! I was really thrilled (and happy with myself) when he laid out his prediction of where the next biggest growth opportunities would be: AFRICA! Bingo! I guessed it right. (unless he is wrong as well!) It is time to embrace the emerging markets.

But his best advice was: “Don’t blow away your signing bonus and buy a brand new car”. I totally agree. The beast depreciates by about 15% the moment you drive it out of the showroom! I love economists!

It was shocking to see Shockley get emotional. Ironical (but very sweet!) for a guy who is generally stoic and doesn’t believe in farewells and that kind of stuff. Think about it. I have had just 8 core professors while he would have probably had more than 800 students by now. But by the end of his speech, he had a tear in his eye while I didn’t which reminded me of how insensitive I had become. I was ashamed at myself for a moment. For a guy, who taught the most complex concepts in the simplest and most elegant way, he deserved more than a drop of my tear!

Finally it was Cattani who helped me with glycerin. I was able to peep inside the heart of a guy who revels in Dilbert cartoons. I was able to feel the pain and anguish of 10 years of hard work and perseverance reduced to ashes by one word: “tenure”. But more than that I was rendered speechless by his spirit to brave it all and be what he is today. Life is a battle which you never lose unless you choose to!

Next up was Mr. Devil Duck! That by the way is Matt Semadeni. He had the last word for us and it was fitting in every respect. “I want all of you to be successful. But more than that, I want you to be happy”. Simple but powerful!

These guys gave us the toughest and best 4 months of our MBA lives. And today they left us with wisdom for the rest of our lives. Love you! Miss you!

Monday, April 25, 2011


A gorgeous landscape, a breathtaking forest, jolly trees wrapping their arms around one another, cute flowers decorating the trees, a serene lake, gentle rain showering kisses generously to one and all! To top it all: a bunch of lovely friends. You have all the ingredients in the making for a wonderful Sunday evening. Add some adventure and fun to this and you get to trek through some dangerous terrain, climb trees (confirming our ancestral roots!), do a group dance, research on algae, fall flat on your back, enjoy watching others’ fall, get people to believe that you can actually walk on water and amidst all this strike some lovely poses for the shutterbugs! Priceless!

As if this was not enough, if you can add some fine hot tea and mouthwatering pakodas (Courtesy: Neha) to the equation, then it should easily qualify as the “Perfect Evening”. And today was indeed one of those days. And if you don’t believe it: See it for yourself.

Now you may wonder: “All this sounds great! But I don’t see you in the picture”. Some may go: “Ohh… okay… I get it”. No... I am not the photographer either (That's Ayushman btw!). You see. I had a difficult choice (in hindsight the choice was so obvious!) between correcting 190 accounting exam papers and losing myself to the beauty of Lake Griffy. Lo behold. I chose to sacrifice my happiness for the sake of 190 studious souls! Abhijit, Shalini, Ayushman, Neha and Arpana: I envy you guys. (I meant that in a good way!)

But as they say: Life gives you second chances and I did manage to grab mine. You guessed it right! The pakodas didn’t miss me too much. But I did miss a lot tonight. But I know I don’t have to regret it for long because another perfect evening is just round the corner!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


For long, Africa has been the continent that could have been. Abundance of natural resources was always neutered by the presence of monarchy and corruption which have successfully exploited the world’s largest continent and left it hungry, poor and most importantly: Angry! Libya, Tunisia, Syria and Egypt now certainly testify a continent that could be.

Before you jump into the conclusion that this post is my take on these revolutions, let me introduce you to “King Mswati III”. You may go: “Who the heck is this guy?” He is the absolute (one of the last of his kind) monarch of Swaziland. Some of you may wonder: “Is that a country by any chance?” Sure it is!! Finally if you have lost your patience and wondering what I am getting at, I am trying to point you to the next “Muammar Gaddafi”. And Mswati III sure is one of them!

Mswati III who has ruled Swaziland for 25 years received the throne from his father who apparently ruled for 60 years (Well…that’s some job security!) He practices polygamy (maybe he thinks that it is in vogue!) and at least two of his wives were appointed by the state (wow... State seems to keep itself quite busy). He is a connoisseur and luxury monger in the true sense as he spends lavishly on yachts and bling while 40 percent of his population is unemployed and a quarter lives with HIV or AIDS. Can’t blame the poor guy completely. He has so many wives to take care of!

Mswati III exercises absolute power on one of the world’s poorest nations and what are his policies focused on: “Strengthening and perpetuating the traditional order”. In 2004, he reportedly spent about $5 million to build palaces for each of his 11 wives! While he was busy juggling his wives and buying expensive cars, Swaziland quietly surpassed Botswana as the country with the highest AIDS prevalence rate. Political parties have been banned for 40 years now (helps to be an “absolute” monarch after all) and he has a history of crushing any opposition before it gains any significance.

All this sounds like a great recipe for: You guessed it right - REVOLUTION. Africa has no shortage of forests and the African revolution is sure spreading like wild fire. Next stop might be Swaziland! Public unrest in Swaziland is at its all-time high. Students are at their wits’ end about the lack of freedom in their homeland. Perfect stimulus for a country for which happiness is long due. Mswati III better watch out, it may be difficult to count your wives but your days are numbered!

Friday, April 22, 2011


So when did Kenya replace India as the emerging superpower? Well.. no.. this is not an Emerging Economies Global Summit. Our very own Chetan Bhagat has decided that is high time he rehashed his best seller book “5 point someone” and decides to call 4 superpower stars to an island (should be a costly book!!) for conceptualizing his new story. Here he is hosting our swashbuckling celebrities: Barack Obama, Rajnikant, M.Karunanidhi and Shah Rukh Khan.

Chetan: Woww… This is great. It is an honor to be among such stalwarts. More so to be in this gorgeous island!! I am going to write a book about the 4 of you meeting in college and revolutionizing a whole nation!

Obama: Oh…. That is easy! I can bring a lot of change! Change and Hope!

Karuna: oh wow.. I could do with some change! Can’t get that if I am not in power!! Looks like my dream of dying as a Chief Minister might not come true!!

SRK: I am not missing out this time. I need the copyrights to make a movie out of that. How does “4 Idiots” sound?

Obama: Where did you learn your grammar? It should be: “How do 4 idiots sound”!!

Rajni: I think I already know!

Chetan: Okay.. Letzzz get into this. So which college do you guys want to go to?

Karunanidhi: I am too old for college. I can provide free laptops though!

Rajni: Kannaa… I am too young for college. Ha haa haaa!!

Chetan: We should have a theme! So what do you guys want to stand up for and fight against in college?

Barack Obama: hmm….. I have to think!!

Rajni: Corruption!!

Karunai: Corruption!!!

SRK: Piracy.

Rajni: haa haaa haa.. for that kanna, you will have to talk to Johnny Depp. Suuuuper movie paa!!

Chetan: Mr. Obama?

Obama: hmm…. I need more time to think! I should have an answer in my next Presidential campaign!

Chetan: Mr.Karuna, I can understand Rajni standing up for corruption. But why you?

Karuna: I have had enough of 2G! I need to upgrade to 3GS!!

Chetan: Ahh… Now I get it! You stand FOR corruption!

SRK: Let him stand first! Then we will see!

Chetan: So Rajni, what are your plans against corruption?

Rajni: I support Anna!

Karuna: I support Anna too!

Rajni: Wot a nonsense of the stupid of the English!! I said Anna Hazare.

Chetan: Wow… how and when do you plan to do that?

Rajni: Kannaa… naan engae eppo epdi varuvennu yarukum theriyathu.. aana vara vendiya nerathula corrictaaa varuven… ha haa haa… (Nobody knows when and where I will come but when time comes I will!)

SRK: I can use that dialogue for my next movie!

Chetan: So Rajni.. what is your first plan?

Rajni: I am on my way to Himalayas kannaaa…

Obama: Can I find Osama Bin Laden there?

Rajni points his fingers skyward!!

Obama jumps out of his chair and hides himself under the table. “Missile Attack!! I should have known that Bin Laden will find me here!!”

Chetan: Okay.. thatzz it!! I am heading to the beach! Catch you all later!!!

SRK: Time for Twitter! I should follow Sourav Ganguly!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Well... before you guys let your imagination run wild let me know tell you this is not a laser emitting uber-cool 22nd century pen drive that I have. It is much simpler than that. Well… it is one of those days where nothing goes right and you get to see how a set of insignificant events (read: “mistakes of the past”) string together and wreak havoc. I am sure you have been there before!

It was yesterday evening and here I was wondering about my fast paced (relatively!!) and eventful MBA life! And more importantly which genius came up with the idea of having a vending machine for lobsters!! Thankfully my phone rings and Siva wakes me up from slumber land. We start talking about old friends and I invite myself to his house. But then I make my second (trivial yet) mistake. I decide to return his thumb drive which he insisted twice that he absolutely does not need. I park my car outside his house and after struggling for 5 minutes, I manage to locate the thumb drive in my bag.

We have a great time until I see him glancing towards the clock. So I walk back to the car only to realize my third mistake (not trivial anymore) of safely securing my car key in my bag which by the way is also secure inside the trunk. Now we have a problem!

Siva says: Now surely you must be having a spare key!! Ahh… Now I remember! Mistake No. 1!!! Guess what... the spare key is also in my bag!! Genius!!! I guess Siva would have thought: “Well... at least I got my thumb drive!!”

It didn’t look that bad since Siddharth, Abhijit, Shalini, Neha and Siva (wow... I have so many great friends) all help me out and AAA roadside assistance is on the way. Now all of a sudden, Mr. Tornado decides to visit town. Perfect timing!! Btw….. Mr. Tornado? Did you like Bloomington? Beautiful, isn’t it? I heard you are coming again tonight!!

Well… it happens to be that Mr. AAA is not good friends with Mr. Tornado. So he says: “Later, man!!” I decide to call it a (eventful) day hoping tomorrow morning would be less exciting. Hmm….. Not exactly!! Biting cold morning, I get to where my car was parked. Still there!! Okay. Now I see 2 gentlemen arriving with an air of confidence looking to make short work of this car break in!! “Letzz get down to binnnessssss!!!” He inserts a long wire through my glass window and tries to pull it open!! CRACKKKK!!!!! My Windowww!!!! A moment of silence!!

The man goes: Well... In all my experience, that is the first time I have cracked a glass!! Daaamnnn….

I say: Don’t worry mate!! (Wonder why I got the Australian accent there!!) It happens to everybody! Btw… quick question… Is this your first time?? (Oops… Now I know why the accent!!!)

Terrible question to ask to a man who had something that looked like a crow bar in his hand. He is kind enough not to make a second crack (in my head)!! Instead he goes: “Don’t worry man... Our insurance will cover that”!

Door’s open! I get my key(s)!! That’s it!! It’s over (I guess)!! Well... what to say!! I guess we all need our share of excitement!!! Today I got someone else’s as well!!

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