Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Caption

My caption in DNA, Bangalore on the 25th December,2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review : The Habit of Winning

Prakash Iyer's - 'The Habit of Winning' is a one-flight long book which may take several flights to complete. One may complete reading a section in minutes but ruminate on it for hours. This isn't a Management tome but the contents are no less significant. The text is uncomplicated - Reader's Digest like - but imbibing or inculcating the traits described, though simple, may not be easy but are essential. The book consists of 11 human attributes elucidated through 57 very interesting, easily identifiable, real life stories, tales and anecdotes.

'Climbing the Mountain' is where the author asks the reader about the most important thing needed to climb a mountain. Is it the equipment, the training, the teamwork or favourable weather? To my dismay, the answer failed me. 'Flat Tyre Leadership' is another endearing, possibly apocryphal, story about Ratan N. Tata - about his work ethics. Whether you subscribe to or believe in these work ethics is not important. What is certain that this story will get you thinking whether you need to learn a lesson from this story - to set an example for your team.

As you savour this book you will be able to recollect several instances from your own personal or professional life which profoundly impacted you. Stories which you could share with others but perhaps didn't. 'The Habit of Winning' is not just a collection of stories from the author's own experiences. It is a compilation of stories drawn from Cricket, the Olympics, History, Nature and Business Folklore.

This is not a book just for Corporate Managers or Business Persons. This is a book which I want my wife, mother and teen-age son to read. This is a book that I'll want my father to read - who's long retired from corporate life. This is a book that I want to gift to my friends - friends who like to read and reap the benefits from reading.

Roger Bannister's accomplishment of running a mile under 4 minutes is well chronicled in sporting history. Till he broke the 'mile under 4 minutes' barrier, - it was considered to be an unattainable target. A target which was 'humanly' impossible to achieve. Doctors and Sports Experts were of the opinion that this could not be done 'without causing significant harm to the body'. Yet, just after Roger Bannister broke this barrier, John Landy an accomplished runner whose previous best time was 4 minutes and 1.5 seconds - who said that the mile under 4 minutes could not be broken - ran the mile in 3 minutes and 57.9 seconds. Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco is the current record holder with a timing of 3:43:13.

'The Second-best Time to Do Anything' is another story which will strike a deep chord with readers. The author quotes from the old Chinese proverb: 'The best time to plant a tree was twenty years back. The second best time is now'.

Unless you are among those few who are close to being perfect - a notch higher on the ladder of evolution, it may be wise decision to read the book, now - the second best time to read this book.

We are long past the best time to have read this book.

The Habit of Winning by Prakash Iyer.
Penguin India - Rs.299 - 248 pages

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Anand Kumar, who founded Super 30, Bihar's widely acclaimed free coaching centre for Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) aspirants, has blamed the institutes' entrance exam panel for the poor quality of students making the cut, a concern voiced by Infosys chairman emeritus N.R. Narayana Murthy.

Forewarned when four-armed

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Friday, October 7, 2011


He was not looking for Steve's job! He was looking for Steve Jobs!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review - Chanakya's Chant

"In statecraft, as in medicine, words are sometimes the most powerful drugs we can use.The power of propaganda should never be discounted" - Chanakya
"Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead" - Pandit Gangasagar Mishra

Ashwin Sanghi, in his book Chanakya's Chant, takes you on a page-turning ride alternating between 320 BCE and the 'present day'. The Machiavellian efforts of Chanakya to unify the Indian sub-continent under Chandragupta is described in fictionally authentic detail, blurring the difference between fact and imagination in the reader's mind. Chanakya's dedication to the cause of unifying the sub-continent lead him to using his sweet-heart as a pawn on his chessboard. Even as a concubine to his enemies, Suvasini prayed to Shiva for his success but later cursed him a future without a lineage and his knowledge of crafty statesmanship without any application - unless thousands of years later someone meditated on a mantra to be able to apply this knowledge.

A stone tablet containing the mantra, to revive Chanakya's statesmanship, is discovered by Gangasagar.The Chanakya-esque Pandit Gangasagar Mishra attempts to unify India under the Prime Minister-ship of Chandini Gupta. Chankya's crafty statesmanship is revived by Gangasagar Mishra to attain his objective at any cost.

The racy 'present day' narrative has the hijack of flight IC-617 which closely tallies with that of the hijack of IC-814 on the 24th December,1999. Ashwin Sanghi has blended fact and fiction so well that it makes one wonder if the rest of the fiction of the hijack has its moorings in real life. The Goebbelsian fixing of opinion polls by Gangasagar Mishra makes you wonder how much of what you are told, hear or read, everyday, is part of propaganda. The realistically fictionalized description of the functioning of RAW, the Intelligence Bureau and allied government agencies shows the ill-intentions of the elected representatives of the people. The author insight-fully covers present day business, bureaucracy and politics showing how servile, sinister and self-seeking the business of governance is.

Statecraft, about 2,300 years back, it appears, was even more sinister and dangerous when kingdoms battled without much thought about death and destruction. Honey traps in Chanakya's era were not just about pretty women. These women (Vishkanyas) were raised on deadly poisons which made them immune to even snake bites. Even the smallest exchange of bodily fluids with another lead to instant death - which was used, by Chanakya, to eliminate powerful kings in order to bring the subcontinent under the unified rule of Chandragupta.

History tell us the Chanakya succeeded in uniting most of the sub-continent under Chandragupta Maurya. Chandragupta was the first unifier of India and its first real emperor. He achieved this when he was only about 20 years old - which would not have been possible without the crafty guidance of Chanakya.

Pandit Gangasagar Mishra seeks to achieve the same with Chandini Gupta -without venomous Vishkanyas or wars. If only Pandit Gangasagar Mishra were as real as Chanakya.

Perhaps, he is.

Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi.
Westland - Rs.195 - 448 pages

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Facebook Holiday

"The place has to be dainty,difficult and dangerous", said my wife as I frantically Googled for suitable holiday on the eve prior to an unexpected seven days break from work. Of course, my idea of a dainty holiday is not having to step out of home. Difficult, for me, is to do grocery shopping during holidays. Crossing the road,in Bangalore, to do this shopping is not without its dangers.

But, this time she was quite certain with the definitions. Dainty was exquisite. My idea of an exquisite location did not go beyond Ooty. The 36 hair-pin bends en-route Ooty was as dangerous and difficult as it got for me. However, influenced by Facebook photos of friends vacationing in Machu Picchu and Mongolia, she would have none of my pleadings that we spend our unexpected vacation in Ooty, Yercaud or Kodai.She was not even okay to my extending the geography to Munnar.

I reminded her that we had been to several places, on vacation, which were dainty, dangerous and difficult. The vacation in 2002, in Sri Lanka - for example - when I fell of the elephant's back and just managed to grab its tail to break my fall - from from a height of 12 feet - was certainly difficult.

Just prior to falling off the elephant's back

Just after falling off the elephant's back

Travelling across Sri Lanka was, then, undoubtedly dangerous. The speed-boat ride from the Male airport to Lohi Fushi resort,across the choppy sea, in the Maldives, was equally dangerous.

However, she would have none of it - for this was the era before Facebook. " How can I post the 2002 photos now?" she queried. "Those photo's were taken from your Kodak camera, not from a digital SLR".

I logged on to makemytrip.com where holiday's were neatly categorized into:

a) Hills
b) Safaris
c) Spiritual
d) Seaside

I wish they had some categorized as "Facebook Holiday" packages (little known places,not far, with a good back drop for photos which could impress friends and garner likes and comments) with DSLR images of the holiday built into the cost of the holiday. That would save me the cost of changing my camera - which was also my wife's pre-condition for the holiday. I was not averse to changing the camera but being the photographer, always, meant I featured in very few frames.

Suggestions like the Andamans,Lakshadweep,Kulu and Manali were all brushed away with a "not like-worthy" comment. "What about Srinagar?" I suggested, in jest, completely sure it would be pooh-poohed. "Srinagar!" she exclaimed in excitement."Perfect!" "Srinagar is dainty, difficult and dangerous".

After scrounging travel websites for a reasonable fare, I knew that planning this travel was going to be difficult. That the Srinagar airport did not have a functional Instrumental Landing System (ILS) made it quite dangerous. Whether Shalimar Bagh and the rest of Srinagar would be dainty remained to be seen.
(to be continued)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Samsung Galaxy S2 - A user review

After a little over 2 weeks of using the new Samsung Galaxy S2 - I got it on day (-1) after haranguing the Samsung distribution system from Korea to India,- my review is as under:

First, this phone is all that it claims to be. Since the phone has been glorified all over the web, let me share the downsides of the S2 - of which there is not a pixel on the web:

- Screen Size: At 4.3 inches, the screen is a tad too large for one hand use. You need to use both hands to hold and type. I resisted buying the iphone 4 and waited for the S2. But here,I admit,the iphone 4 is better sized for one hand use. However, if you ignore the size of the screen for ease of use - the screen is brilliant.

- Battery: The battery is a monster 1650 mAh. However, if you are continously on the GPRS, expect the battery to be battered in 8 hours even with the screen brightness set to 30%. Also, it takes over 3 1/2 hours to charge from 0 to 100%. With wifi instead of GPRS, the battery may last for about 10 hours. Only with the GPRS off and with periodic wifi usage, the battery may last for about 18 hours. The phone is sexy but its battery is no Duracell bunny!

- Full Stop : The period button is next to the settings button.You'll often bring up the settings screen even when all you wish to do is to key in a full stop. Even with a lot of practice, I cannot seem to be able to put a full stop to keying in the settings button inadvertently.Period.

- Slippery as an eel: The battery charge may slip out quickly but the device itself is slippier.Hold tight if you don't want the phone to discharge from your hands. It'll break your heart.

- Mailer Daemon: If you have been using a Blackberry, be prepared to unlearn the way you handled email. Email handing is very good but very different - from the way Blackberry handles mail. It takes some time getting used to it. Overall, the speed of receiving mails, even with push settings, is a marginally slower than with the Blackberry.

There are a lot of tips and tricks which you need to learn to get the most out of the S2 and its Gingerbread OS. Some of these tips and tricks, which are not mine, are here:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Angelic Germany to be free from the perils of nuclear power by 2022

(Click on image to enlarge)
Nuclear Power Plants in Germany : Nil
Nuclear Power Plants in rest of Europe: 150
Distance between nuclear free Germany and other EU nuclear power plants : less than 300 kilometers.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fleeting Thoughts: The Old Faithful

Fleeting Thoughts: The Old Faithful: "Three Cheers to the Public Sector! If you think it is great that that there are any number of insurers that have sprouted up in the Private ..."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We regret to announce...

Indigo Airlines:" Indigo Airlines is pleased to announce the departure of 6E-001 at 17.00 hrs Indigo Standard Time - 5 minutes ahead of its scheduled departure at 1705 Indian Standard Time."
Jet Airways:" Jet Airways 9W-002 is pleased to announce its on-time departure at 17.05 hrs."
Kingfisher Airways:"We regret to inform you of a 10 minutes delay in the departure of IT-003. This delay is on account of the late arrival of the incoming aircraft due to air traffic congestion over Mumbai. You would appreciate that air traffic delays are beyond our control".
Air India:" Air India regrets to announce a 60 minutes delay in the departure of its flight AI-007.This delay is on account of the following reasons:
- late arrival of our VVIP passengers.
- delay in fueling the aircraft on account of late payment, to
Hindustan Petroleum, for fuel consumed in the past.
- Non availability of parking bays for our aircraft due to non-payment of dues to GMR towards airport parking slots.
Dinner is on the house for passengers affected by this delay.

Chris Gayle - His talent failed when it was needed the most

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A downgrade of the Indian airspace - can an aircraft be puffed out of the skies?

According to newspaper reports,the Pilatus - PC12 aircraft which crashed into a Faridabad( India) home on the 25th May,2011 met with a "Wall of Wind" at around 14,000 feet. The questions which beg an answer are:

- this aircraft has a weather radar. Did it not show the high velocity 60 kmph wind over Bhatinda?

- why did the ATC not warn the aircraft not to enter the Bhatinda/Faridabad/Delhi airspace knowing that a small 7 seater aircraft could have trouble facing high velocity winds.

- are these aircrafts not designed to handle 60 kmph winds? Winds at high altitudes regularly attain a velocity of over 60 kmph. What is important to a pilot is the wind resistance that an aircraft faces.Windspeed/Aircraft Speed is the important ratio for the pilot. Wind speed of 50 Knots ( 92 kilometers/hour) is almost unimportant to a Boeing 747 flying at, say, 37,000 feet at 500 Knots/hour. However, when this aircraft slows down to 200 knots, Headwinds at 50 knots (50/200) is a very important factor. Was the PC12 at slower than recommended speeds when it faced the " Wall of Wind".

- The PC-12 is capable of flying at upto an altitude of 30,000 feet. Why was the aircraft not alloted a higher altitude (it was flying at 14,000 feet) or a lower one in order to escape the squall?

- If an aircraft can be dumped from the sky into the ground by 60 kmph winds then how safe are the ATR -72's which are regularly used by many passenger airlines. The ATR-72 has a maximum altitude of only 25,000 feet compared to 30,000 feet of the PC-12.

Not many may know it, but the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) is being threatened by the US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) of a downgrade the Indian Airspace and its Aviation procedures to the level of Sub-Sahara African level - i.e. the worst possible administration of aircrafts and airspace.

For many years, Indonesia's Garuda Airlines was not allowed to fly into Europe because of its poor safety record. DGCA seems to be sliding towards this. On one hand we have better airport infrastructure and on the other, rot is eating into the innards of India's Civil Aviation. There is complete lack of accountability. The media is interested only in 'breaking news'. This PC -12 brokeup and fell over Faridabad and made news. In the next few days media will lose all interest in this PC -12 which was carrying a critically ill patient to Apollo Hospital in Delhi.

The public too has short memory. The Civil Aviation Mandarins will go about as if nothing has happened - after all it was only a 7 seater aircraft which crashed.

We need the US FAA to keep us on our toes. I hope they downgrade us to the Sub Saharan grade. That may, perhaps, wake up all concerned.

Friday, May 20, 2011

DGCA Overlooks, Outlook Oversees

According to Outlook Magazine (23rd May,2011 - page16), the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) "overlooks" maintenance and safety standards of aircrafts in India. This is possibly true. Outlook Magazine, perhaps, "oversees" it.

Big deal. There is hardly any difference between "look" and "see" - unless it is prefixed with an "over".

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fly with the freshest pilots in the skies - fly Air India

Dear Passenger, (You did not expect us to address you as Maharajah, did you?)

There is a brand new reason for you to fly Air India. Our pilots, after a 10 days of complete rest, are the freshest pilots in the Indian skies. While other airlines and pilots struggle to maintain their schedules in the face of Flight Duty Time Limitation, Air India pilots, periodically, take things into their own hands. This time, it was complete rest for the pilots for 10 days.

Therefore, the next time you take an Air India flight you will notice a cheerfulness in the announcement of our pilots - they are yearning to take-off, put the aircraft on auto-pilot, so that they may calculate the additional emoluments and perquisites they may get once the Justice Dharmadhikari report is out.

Also, Private Airlines have been going thru very turbulent financial times. A side objective our noble pilots (other than getting the required rest) was to improve the financial health of other airlines. We know that private airline doubled their fare while our pilots rested - there is nothing like a little extra contribution from you towards improving the health of ailing airlines.

We have already announced special fares for the next few days so that your may recover your generous contribution to the kitty of Private Airlines. With the taxpayer as our chief sponsor, we can afford to pay the pilots all the increases they seek and give you all the concessional fares you need.

As you may have already know, our cabin crew are also contemplating going on strike.If this happens, our planes will still fly (our pilots have been taken care of, as you know). You may, however, need to skip a meal on board. We'll,of course, suitably modify the fare to take care of the cost of the missing meal - money means nothing to us.

Till the next strike.

Air India Maharajah