Monday, May 25, 2009

The dust is settling down

The world as I know it seems to have cooled off its recent hectic activities and is beginning to offer some quantum of time to sit back and think, maybe bask in the glow of what it has achieved in the past few months that have sped by. While I was never a very prolific writer, this blog did allow me to explore and keep in touch with my English and its nuances of grammar and sentence construction.

As time goes I have begun to realize more often than not that I personally become very conscious of what I say, not just the syntactically but also semantically. That I believe has helped me in my communication with my customers these past few months. Of the many design documents and the follow up discussions mails that have been exchanged nobody has said "Could you explain ?" In fact, there have been commendations on the economical use of words and the lucidity of language. For those who are not aware, I quit my previous large organization and joined a services startup, where our current business model focuses on generating revenues first and then channelizing those into in-house products to give that fillip to the revenues. Given all the market scenario and the negative spiral ( tailspin, perhaps ?), it so far has been good going. Things are looking steady so far, and we are now planning to look at more avenues for growth. Let's see what comes along.

Speaking of the world of markets, while the general markets are still in bad shape - thanks to all the dole that these governments have been giving out - and may continue to do so for some more years, the capital markets have at least shown some signs of hope, maybe lesser despair to say the September - October time frame of last year. That was an awesome time - a time to understand and appreciate behavioral finance as a respected field of study. There are so many biases that an investor holds - confirmation bias, hindsight bias, anchoring bias. From what little I know of the actual finance industry it looked like the hotshot big bosses went through at least some or all of those. In fact I am pretty confident that the ordinary conservative Indian investor did better. My Dad, with his fixed deposits, definitely did better for sure. And I for one have learn some valuable lessons that will last me my lifetime. Couldn't have come at a better time as I have just begun my investment journey and am yet to have invested large sums. In retrospection things look rational - the markets rewards only the rational investor over the long term. That apart the best investment is the investment in oneself and in one's career.

To help the Indian capital markets come out of its despondency vis-a-vis other world markets, along came the endgame of the Indian Political Theater - the five-yearly General Election and the Election Commission behemoth. At the cost of sounding much too cliched, the world watch as we did the dance of democracy and elected our representatives, lawfully and peacefully to a large extent. And the citizenry did quite a good job of getting convinced massively by the arguments of the Grand Old Party. Kudos to the strategics in their camp to have devised whatever they did and to have come up with such numbers when all and sundry to bet on haggling and horse-trading post elections. Thankfully that did not happen. What happened instead is that the party seems to have found some spine on its own in the way it is dealing with its current allies. Hopes are up that the disinvestment process that had been stalled, thanks in no small measure,to the Left, will be renewed and the fiscal deficit will go down. Now all that we need are a few more honest-to-self ministers and things would start to look pretty good. Looks like steps are being taken in the right direction when we consider that the party-and-family loyalist Arjun Singh has not been honored with ministerial berths. I am also hoping others like Kamal Nath also make way for better people. These two guys top my list of personal peeves in politics. All this 5-week long election and threw up quite some interesting tidbits of voting patterns, mindsets, etc, etc.

There are other places also where the dust has settled - Indian Premier League. Apart from the elections if there is one topic which occupied the mind and heart (o yeah, the heart too!), it has been this. The drama has been never ending. But the best comment was from a local spectator in the field - "I don't understand cricket. I came here to watch the cheerleaders." I like it !!! And in all this I also discovered a few good places in Bangalore where they broadcast matches for the public and serve nice drinks too !!! Obviously you need to pay.

Anyways, things are cooling down all around. And as the dust settles the leader starts to prepare for the next boom cycle.

Cheers !!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Indian Political Theater

This post written around May 2007 is dated in the future so that it stays at top of all posts and symbolizes the burning desire to act in this regard. For other posts see below.

That's how the Economic Times describes its political news page. And I think it aptly sums up the feelings and expressions of any regular educated middle class Indian. Especially those that belong to the creed of people who move away from home for better pastures abroad, not necessarily to different countries but to neighboring states within India itself.

Oftentimes, when I have been involved in any sort of discussion (heated debate) on the situation in Indian political scenario, both parties have derogated the current existing state of Indian politics in general and then have proceeded to thrash the party in opposition to their own favorite. What probably they miss is the point that both are agreeing that its the Hobson's choice and yet are taking no cognizance of the fact.

Getting more specific, people of my age (mid-20's) are acutely aware of what is missing and will endlessly debate about what can be done. We whine about the availability of good leaders, about there not being enough people with political will to implement development projects as we like it. But when it comes to action to get a better society, we pull back citing not enough resources and not enough experience. Recently in such a debate one person alleged that the country had not given him anything, had not helped in his progress in any way. So he was not bothered about the progress of the country and would rather think about the progress and welfare of his own family.

But here lies the crux of the matter: WE DON'T EVEN VOTE IN ELECTIONS, LET ALONE TAKE ANY AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. Can you think of a bigger hypocrite than this??

I have been burning with this idea since sometime. And I have decided to do something about it. Here are a few simple things that can be done and I hope to follow them through, keeping in view that the next national elections are to be held approximately 2 years from now.
  1. There is enough time, so get the voter id card. It makes you eligible to vote.
  2. Save some holidays and plan so that during election time you can go back to your constituency and vote. Far as I have heard, you can also vote from where you are now. Need to find out more details.
  3. Cast your vote. It is essential. You find that the candidates from the larger parties are not good. Simple idea says choose one of the independents. Let the government formation take care of itself. As of now, nobody can foresee anything but a coalition government at the center.
More ideas later, but I believe these are very simple and you and I as the educated but frustrated middle class can follow them through and make a lot of difference. All voting statistics in the recent times say that only 45% of the people registered do actually vote. And the winning party takes only about 30% of that. Which makes it only 13.5% affirmation for the largest party in power. Imagine the difference you could make.

Update (31.08.2007) : As of yesterday, I am an Indian citizen carrying the voter id card, that makes me eligible to vote in the forthcoming Indian parliamentary elections.

If you are reading this, then go out and get your voter id card. Don't just read this.

Update (14.12.2007) :
All please follow the Lead India campaign on Star One at 8:00 pm every Saturday.

Update (01.10.2008) : Try out Jaago re ! Is a good option to get more information on the voting process and a lot of help on it.