Sunday, January 30, 2011

A crash course in understanding India's struggles for 'Inclusive Growth' and her Economic Agenda for Future

The World Economic Forum held at Davos has now become an annual event where who's who of policy makers of world economies and head honchos of big business assemble to discuss some of the more pressing economic issues. This year the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are very heavily represented - they have the biggest delegations at Davos.

Here are a couple of videos which provide some really good insight into India's struggles for 'Inclusive Growth' and her 'Economic Agenda for the Future'. The diversity of the panel and different points of view makes the two discussions below especially insightful. The names of the panelists are listed below the embedded video.

I. India and Inclusive Growth:

Panel from the left: Vikram Chandra (Host/Presenter, NDTV), P. Chidambaram (Minister of Home Affairs - former Finance Minister, India), Min Zhu (Special Advisor, IMF), Chanda Kochhar (CEO, ICICI Bank), Michael Elliot(Editor, Time International), Salil Shetty (Secretargy General, Amnesty International)

II. India's Economic Agenda for Future:

Panel from left: John Defterios (Anchor, CNN Marketplace Middle East), Anand Sharma (Minister of Commerce and Industry of India), N. K. Singh (Member of Parliament, India), Shyam Saran (Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India, Global Agenda Council on Climate Change), Montek S. Ahluwalia (Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India), Hari S. Bhartia, (Co-Chairman and MD, Jubilant Organosys, India & VP, CII), Reuben Abraham (Exec. Director, Centre for Emerging Markets Solutions, Indian School of Business)

Viva la Revolution - My Musings

The recent movements in Tunisia and Egypt got me thinking about things revolution.

Revolutions are just like hitting Ctrl+Alt+Del on your computer in an effort to get rid of some processes that have run amok. The smarter the user is, the better he/she will be able to decide as to which process and which process tree needs to be gotten rid of, and how - the user can chose either to 'end a process' or 'restart' a system. The decision and the responsibility to make best use of this power to reset the system lies with the participant, be it by hitting Ctrl+Alt+Del on a computer, be it by voting to bring a change in a democratic setting, or be it by being part of a mass movement to overthrow an oppressive regime. Thus, it is crucial that the participating individual, the communities, the societies make every effort to not let a movement devolve into a mob-mentality. There will always be some nefarious elements who will try to seed perfidious ideas and channel the energies of the crowd down the wrong way. That is where individual responsibility comes in - everyone participating in a demonstration should be very vigilant, not just of safety of their person, but also of the safety of their cause and of their ideas - the fidelity of the cause(s) has to be maintained for any revolution to succeed.

Godspeed to our brothers and sisters in Egypt - Viva la Revolution.

We Shall Overcome:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Essential Think Pad - Part II

Continued from The Essential Think Pad - Part I

If used with care, your Think Pad can prove to be your best friend. Here are some essential do's and dont's to make the best use of your Think Pad and become a thinker par excellence:
1. I have noticed that a Think Pad will work if and only if you are in there for the actual business of thinking - it won't work if you use your Think Pad while its lid is down and you are dressed in a suit and tie ready to go to your workplace for a business presentation - so do not try to deceive your Think Pad into thinking that you are in there to think - it just doesn't work that way. I sometimes think that The Think Pads these days have developed an artificial intelligence of some sort because i've never been able to deceive my Think Pad, ever.
2. The colder the lid of your Think Pad the better it will be - after initial shivers you'll have warmed the lid up to just the right temperature and by that time you'd be ready to think too. I also don't like the ones with cushy seats - yeah i have seen a few with cushy seats.
3. After you are done Thinking, always turn the exhaust fan ON for the fumes from all the Thinking that you have just accomplished. It'll be even better if you keep the exhaust fan ON while you are thinking - i admit that it'll cause some ambient noise but believe me, once you are on your way to thinking you wouldn't even notice that noise leave alone care. Leave the exhaust fan that serves the area of your Think Pad ON for about half an hour after you are done thinking.
4. If you live in a house with other family members or roommates etc., be prepared to train yourself to either think faster or doing your thinking at odd hours. It is strange that at times everyone in the family feels the urge to think at the same time. If you are able to afford to live at a place which has multiple rooms for installing The Think Pads, nothing like it - this way you can spend more time thinking without being disturbed.
5. Those of you worried about the "insanitary" nature of the ideas that originate while using The Think Pad, please rest easy - you can always wash hands after all the Thinking you've done.

Now some free tips from an avid thinker for wannabe thinkers:
1. To maintain the freshness of your Think Pad's surroundings after you are done thinking, don't use over-the-counter air fresheners, use deodorants instead - this author has found after extensive testing that deodorant sprays work best - author's personal favorite is 'Old Spice's High Endurance Deodorant Spray'. You are ofcourse welcome to test a few before settling for one that you and yours like. The use of deodorant comes in really handy during times when you might need to do some thinking during back to back sessions, or when different people are doing their thinking one after the other. The scent from the deodorants may even help untangle the web of ideas formed from all the thinking that has taken place.
2. Drink a couple of glasses of some liquid, preferably lukewarm water before you commence your thinking. This way you will be able to avoid grappling with your transverse abdominals, internal and external obliques, and rectus abdominus, and concentrate on your thinking instead.

Some suggestions to add some functional bling to your Think Pad:
1. Fold-able laptop desk riveted to the wall facing your Think Pad - especially if you use your Think Pad in a room 6' x 12' or smaller. Otherwise feel free to lug a small 3 or 4 legged side-table into the Think Pad Room to place your laptop etc.
2. For those who do not like to use their laptops while they think, a notepad and a pen (not a pencil because you might need to sharpen it at times and that will require more paraphernalia and more space to stow it somewhere) are essential. By the way, bath tub's ledge comes in really handy in such scenarios.
3. A small and easily reachable towel - to wipe the tears that develop during times of extreme thinking.
4. If planning to use cordless phone or cell phone while sitting on your Think Pad make sure you get the walls of your Think Pad's location acoustically neutralized, otherwise you'll run the risk of your end of conversation echoing while you are thinking and talking simultaneously.

During one such thinking session it occurred to me that the reason people who live in parts of the world that are not "West" don't make good innovators and entrepreneurs is very simple - they just don't use the sort of Think Pads that westerners use! Makes sense isn't it - they have to use The Think Pads that require squatting instead of sitting. After a few minutes of that the legs will start to hurt and one will have to get up and leave - they just can't spend too much time thinking in that particular position. Almost all of the physical energy and mental attention must go into trying to relieve the pain in the knees, hamstrings and gastrocnemius muscle groups. This means not many ideas germinate in such a short span of time, and those that do, do not get to evolve for lack of time to think. Furthermore, most cuisines outside of western countries tend to be spicier, so the thinking that follows is usually mentally as well as physically draining. If you don't agree with me all i need to do is point you to Here you can find the names of 100 of many thousands that hail from non-western countries, either on their own or were born to parents, who moved to the west and made a name for themselves - and all of it just because they got to use The Think Pad in the right way, the western way. You will find that i was quite correct in claiming that "People in the west already benefit from doing some thinking this way".

Now an essential Disclaimer:
1. Even though this document is just of an informerceative (adjectival of the word infomercial?) nature, the author of this document would like to make it clear that at no point in the writing of this essay did he use IBM's Think Pad while writing about his experiences and ideas from having used his own Think Pad.
2. 'The Think Pad' eluded to in this essay does not have anything to do with IBM's Think Pad line of laptops either - The Think Pad serves a greater need and is in no way or form meant to encroach on IBM's business.
3. IBM is free to use this 'The Think Pad' in its own marketing collateral and advertising as it pleases, as long as it has a 5 pixel x 5 pixel icon of the image of an actual Think Pad on every machine that they sell, and the icon should be placed right next to the Intel Inside logo.
4. Commercial as well as private users are welcome to use IBM's Think Pad while they are sitting on 'The Think Pad' - no loyalties of any kind are sought.
5. Disclaimer points 1 thru 3 above hold true for other manufacturers as well as sellers of laptops, netbooks, iPads, and all other hand-held electronic devices that can be used while one is using The Think Pad. By the way, as cool as iPad is, using an iPad while using your Think Pad just doesn't cut it - typing on the screen is difficult as the iPad has to be kept in ones lap which soon becomes unwieldy, and typing with one hand is plain annoying. May be folks at Apple should come up with a tripod specifically designed for use in tandem with The Think Pad. Steve Jobs will probably need to get healthy and come back from retirement, again, to motivate the company to do that artistically and masterfully so the quality of the arrangement is preserved and upholds Apple's high standards. Apple will have to do this soon too, for their competitors, the likes of Microsoft, Sony, Dell, Panasonic, and many others are just itching to get some sort of head start on some idea over Apple - may be this will be it.
6. The manufacturers of the companies willing to produce and sell ancillary equipment that helps add some kind of novel functional bling to the surroundings of The Think Pad should feel free to certify their wares with a logo of The Think Pad, as mentioned in Disclaimer point 3 above.
6. The innovators and entrepreneurs who come up with applications and uses other than the ones mentioned in this essay above can do so without any fear of restitution but, it will behoove them to share their ideas for applications of The Think Pad with the rest of the world so all mankind can benefit from them, after all we are human because we have the ability to think.
7. The publishers and makers of instructional posters and manuals may feel free to print and sell their posters and other paraphernalia to be hung outside or inside the doors or the walls of The Think Pad room - all that is expected of them is that they credit this author by carrying a logo as is described in Disclaimer point 3 above, and the phraseology 'My Think Pad.docx' underneath the logo.

PS: Readers may feel free, at their own peril of course, to use the first one of 'George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words', selectively, in place of the word 'Think' where ever it appears in this essay and read it all over again.

Ok, i need to get back to my thinking now, and so should you. Happy thinking.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Essential Think Pad - Part I

There is this one pad in my house that I call 'The Think Pad'. If you spend time using your Think Pad the way I use mine, I promise that you'll soon reach a stage where you will have a bright idea almost every thinking session. May be even two or more a day, especially if you are fortunate enough to have a plumbing that is compromised.

I am amazed at the number and quality of ideas that I have had while using my Think Pad. In fact, the light bulb with the idea for this particular essay written all over it turned ON while I was using my Think Pad. As to why the use of The Think Pad leads to creative and critical thinking, I am not yet certain. May be it is the thinkers' pose that one has to assume while performing the business of thinking while in the Think Pad Room - elbows firmly planted on the knees and the head resting on the palms of both your hands with fingers curled up into your cheeks, or may be its just the ambiance of the Think Pad Room, the odors, and the occasional sounds that all the thinking that you do makes.

Yes, my Think Pad has a room of its own, and I am fairly certain that yours does too. The days when we used to do all the thinking in the open are long gone. Well, actually ... let me take that back. (Unfortunately?), there are a few many amongst us who still have to do all their thinking in the open. It isn't considered very lady-like/gentlemanly to do ones thinking in the open. Now that I really think about it, thinking in the wild, in the open that is, may not have been that bad an idea. The cool fresh breeze at dawn and the chirping of the birds heading out from their nests must have made thinking quite an experience. But then, during good ol days there were no Think Pads available. Not even to the royalty of the day I reckon! So all the thinking must have had to be done while ... ... while squatting. How would squatting impact the quality of thinking? Hmmm ... something else to think about when I am sitting on my Think Pad next.

Oh ... that was a good save. Just an improperly placed 'h' in sitting would have mixed it up with thinking. Now wouldn't it? Phew!

Having had some experience using my Think Pad for a while now Ithought I'll make a case for the larger utility of Think Pads, give out some advice and suggestions for The Think Pads' optimal and best possible use, and discuss some cool and very effective applications of The Think Pads.

Some of the immediate applications of The Think Pad have to be the ones that require a lot of thinking, for example:

1. The speaker of the house in a country's parliament should sit on a Think Pad, and so should its legislators. They will be able to think fast and smart, and the issues that need addressing will be addressed duly, not in the least because The Think Pads are hard to pick and hurl at each other. Legislators from both right as well as left can chose to sit on adjacent Think Pads, especially during the very special events such as The State of The Union. A legislator from the right should actually share their think pad with their counterpart from the left - this shall enhance the bipartisanship like never before.

2. The Presidents and Prime ministers should have Think Pads installed in their offices - just imagine, if President Obama had a Think Pad in Oval Office, he would have been able to solve so many problems for 'US' as well as for rest of the world. If he pays heed to this suggestion now, he wouldn't even need to run for a second term leave alone campaign for it again for all the thinking he was able to accomplish in his first. Had his predecessors used The Think Pads, he wouldn't need be in office right now, but then that would have denied us the historic moment of a non-white person becoming The President of our great nation, isn't it? By the way, the same goes for the current crop of governors and legislators too - they would have saved us so much botheration, only if they had been smart to use their Think Pads.

3. If we are really serious about solving some of the greatest problems that we face today (for a prioritized list of issues that mankind faces today, watch this video here ), the heads of international organizations should use Think Pads to sit on during the meetings, and so should the representatives of the member nations - lets start with the UN Security Council as a test case for testing the feasibility of using Think Pads, but, we must then immediately move to applying those findings to The UN Climate Summit and on to the annual feature at Davos that The World Economic Forum is.

4. The appointees to the erstwhile Supreme Court need to do a lot of thinking, so they certainly could use The Think Pads. Not only will the decisions be more thoughtful and more relevant to current times, they will feel better in their stomachs, hearts and minds after they've rendered a judgment upon thinking straight, thinking issue through without leaning towards one side (of the Think Pad that is) or the other.

5. The leaders of various religions - ancient or modern, idol worshipers or not, must take a cue and start using The Think Pads in their respective places of worship. And so should their devoted congregations. I promise you, the gods will come to tears in less time than it takes to say Amen and they will certainly have to pay attention to the plight of their followers on earth. The atheists will have to take heart from the fact that the likes of Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris probably did most of their thinking while sitting (phew) on their very own Think Pads. Here you can watch a very intellectually stimulating conversation between four of the most prominent proponents of atheism today - I wish they were sitting on Think Pads during this conversation. It would have been brilliant yet.

I was going to say that students who are preparing for their exams can benefit from using their Think Pad too. But, the more I think about it the less certain I am of that, probably because the mental and emotional demands of the exams of academic nature tend to effect our physiological systems such that the whole business of thinking, and that which leads us to it, is affected. So, during exam days a student's gastrointestinal system will likely be compromised in the exact opposite way to the one mentioned earlier in this essay.

Now, as true (or false?!) as matter and anti-matter are, there are places that will not be served well by the suggested use of The Think Pad. The bus stops, the train stations, the airports and all other public locations of such nature cannot afford to let people use Think Pads for thinking all the time. Primarily because people will start lining up to use The Think Pads as most transit hubs do not charge extra buck for such a service. Not only that, during times of restricted transit the situation at public transit systems is bound to worsen e.g. during the natural (volcanoes spewing ash, crippling snow/ice storms) or man-made (planes flying into buildings, airports being callous about operations management and logistics) problems - during such times when we want every individual to be at their thinking best so that the problems can be tackled well and with urgency, everyone will end up queuing outside the 'The Think Pad' Rooms at these locations because of the rush and the anxiety of the whole situation. Thus, it is advisable that the contractors and operators of such facilities (facilities that must allow free of charge use of Think Pads) and governments in-charge figure out ways of avoiding that from happening.

To be continued - Part II to follow, soon ... - Click to go to Part II.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Broken Resolutions = Bad Karma?

At the beginning of 2011, among other things, i had resolved that i will not order food for delivery over the phone this year, for i was trying to get back into the habit of cooking for myself regularly. It was going great too, until earlier today that is. Today when i got back home i wasn't feeling particularly cheffy to cook anything. So i thought i'll work around my new year's resolution by going to a restaurant and picking up something for dinner instead.

Last week i had found this flier for a new Indian place close by posted outside my apartment door - their menu seemed fairly basic but, i was willing to give it a try because i thought its a new place so fewer the items on the menu, the better the food will be! And boy was i mistaken. I ordered a couple of samosas as appetizers/snacks while my 'dinner to go' was being prepared. As soon as i took the first bite of the samosa i knew this was going to be bad. By the time i had managed my way to half of my first samosa, a part of my brain had told me about ten times in a very hushed voice, "Dude, there is still time, cancel the order, pay for the samosas, and go back home and cook." I so wish that i had listen to that part of my brain. Lets just say that inspite of having brought the dinner home (instead of getting it delivered) i am sitting here typing this blog, and i am still hungry as hell - you can well imagine what happened to the food.

Lesson: folks, stick to your resolutions this year. I know i will.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Samjhauta Express: Pre-partition Indian Express vs. Post-partition Indian Express!

This year's Australian Open draw for Men's Doubles is in its 3rd round. Two games for berths in the quarter finals remain. In one of the remaining matches, 8th seeds Michael Llodra (France) and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia) play the 10th seeds, and an increasingly popular duo of Rohan Bopanna (India) and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (Pakistan), and in the other the 13th seed pair of Marcel Grandollers (Spain) and Tommy Roberdo (Spain) will face the together-again pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes (both from India).

How cool will it be if Pre-partition Indian Express (Bopanna & Qureshi) were to play Post-partition Indian Express (Bhupathi & Paes) next? Now that will be one heck of a Samjhauta Express, isn't it?

To understand the play on words done above, just a quick South-Asian and Tennis history lesson for non-Indians and non-Pakistanis:
1. Indian and Pakistan were formed in 1947 when Britishers had to leave the sub-continent. Unfortunately, inspite of being cut from the same cloth, since the partition in 1947 the two countries have been at it. This is why when budding Tennis doubles team of Bopanna (from India) & Qureshi (from Pakistan) broke on to the Tennis scene, they were very well received and their novel effort at helping further the cause of peace between two countries is being feted.
2. Most Tennis fans would know that Bhupathi and Paes, the two other popular Tennis players from India, played as a doubles team, and won many an open. They are referred to as The Indian Express (BTW, The Indian Express is a leading National News Daily in India).
3. 'Samjhauta' is a Hindi/Punjabi/Urdu word for compromise. 'Samjhauta Express' is a train that runs between India and Pakistan - another attempt at restoring peaceful relations between the two countries.

So now, what do you say - pretty cool, isn't it? Not only that, if that match transpires, there will be three Indian and a Pakistani player on the court at the same time - well, actually we should say four Hindustani players on the same court. During colonial rule, India + Pakistan territories were also referred to as 'Hindustan'.

Last Saturday, Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 'Walked The Talk' with Shekhar Gupta (The Editor of The Indian Express!). It was a nice interview. Lets hope they keep up the good work.

Coincidences, coincidences.

Friday, January 21, 2011

National Anthem before Cricket games - is it Jingoism? Not at all, i say.

Sidharth Monga, one of the cricket commentators/writers for the cricket website, says here that "Not playing national anthems before cricket games is not such a bad thing anyway." I wonder what makes him say that and what cricket aficionados and players think about it. This comment of his raises an interesting question actually. Will people (the fans in the stadia, the TV audience, the players, the umpires and refs, the TV production teams) have issues with the time it takes for the teams to attend to their respective national anthems and to the other teams’? or Is it that singing of each team's national anthem will somehow be considered jingoistic?

I think teams should pay respects to their own as well the opponent's national anthem. Here is why - Cricket (and most other sports) these days are being run more as businesses. These days different Cricket boards are in effect private enterprises, being run as limited companies. Such management of sports governing bodies does bring a measure of professionalism to everything as it should, but at the same time everything ends up revolving around the money. In effect, the players end up selling their skill for money (they get paid for every game they play, isn't it) - in effect they are like mercenaries, so are most of us eking out a living working in private sector. There is no 'country' in a country's cricket team anymore. If a sense of pride in ones’ country's team has to be maintained, if a bond, a brotherhood amongst players has to be established, a national anthem really acts as a fight song. Moreover, a rendition of national anthem right before a game raises a team's fans' level of enthusiasm and their spirits too. I love the feeling of goosebumps, the shivers that run down my spine when i recite my national anthem. I am sure most of my fellow Indians do too. Then why is it that we can't be open to singing our national anthem or national song before a cricket game where our team participates?

To any sports fan who is knowledgeable of sports other than cricket (especially the ones like American Football - referred to as Football hereon out 'cos that is how it is know in this part of the world, Baseball, Basketball, NASCAR even) will certainly know about the fervor with which American national anthem (The Star Spangled Banner - equivalent of our Jana Gana Mana) and patriotic song (God Bless America - equivalent of our Vande' Mataram) are attended with ones' hats off and everyones' right hand on their hearts, and enjoyed by everyone who is in attendance watching a game. And it does not stop just at the singing of the anthem either - invariably, armed forces personnel are felicitated as well as thanked for their service before as well as during a sporting event. Not only that, an outdoors sporting event such as a Football game, a Baseball game, a NASCAR race, even a once in a blue moon event like NHL's Winter Classic is preceded by a low high speed fly-past of fighter jets such as F-22 Raptors. Such fly-pasts really charge everyone present. Kids go home with memories of the loud shock wave from the fly-past and the rattling stands, with memories of the national anthem being sung by their favorite singer/celebrity/band, with memories of the game that was played in the true spirit camaraderie as well as competition amongst human beings. My question to Mr. Monga and cricket fans all over is, isn't singing ones national anthem before a Cricket match worth that kids' memories alone?

Most of our population in India is crazy about Cricket as well as with everything else that goes with it, so much so that the game's survival* itself depends upon the eyeballs it gets from India. "The Game of Cricket" can at least let us sing our national anthem before we play it. Not only that, we Indians can actually use a dose of nationalistic pride every now and then. In the upcoming Cricket World Cup, the games that Indian team plays on Indian pitches, should all be preceded by such show of nationalistic fervor and sense of unity and purpose. In fact, each world cup game should be preceded by singing of the national anthems of the two competing teams.

We need to (re)inculcate a sense of belonging to a great country, a sense of being brothers and sisters in arms, a feeling of oneness, and our National Anthem is the cheapest (low cost - is singable without elaborate musical arrangements), the easiest (everyone knows how to sing the national anthem), and the ever relevant (everything said in our national anthem has been true, is true and will be true) way to do it. And we have Sukhois too!

Jai Hind.

*I wish (and hope) we were half as passionate about various societal issues that we face this century as we are for cricket - once that begins to happen, i promise you that we'll be able to knock all our problems in less time than it takes a test match.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Storytellers - My Grandmother and Keith Olbermann

Like most grown ups, I too miss my childhood for a variety of reasons. I have some especially fond memories of my beejee (my grandmother) telling us kids stories before we went to bed at night.

I hail from a small town in Punjab, the frontier state that borders Pakistan in the north of India. Summers used to be pretty hot, even in the evenings, but as the night fell the temperatures usually became bearable, even pleasant in the wee hours of the morning. We used to sleep on cots on the roof of our house in those days - i still remember the moonlit nights, the constant whizzing of the table fan, the relentless chirping of the crickets and our pitaji's (my grandfather's) almost-sinusoidal snoring. Beeji used to tell us one story a night, and what amazes me now is that somehow it used to be a different story every night! Now that i think about it, I think much of my understanding of Hindu mythology as well as other Indian religions, may actually stem from those stories that our beejee used to tell us. Almost all the stories we heard then were told to us either in Hindi or Punjabi. The only recollection i have of listening to stories told in English is from my school days during English classes - but that wasn't nearly as much fun as the stories that our beejee used to tell us.

Somehow, it was only at the age of 29 that i got a chance to listen to and enjoy stories told in English - almost all the credit goes to Mr. Keith Olbermann of the 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' fame. These days when i get back home in the evenings, i invariably log in to the news channels on my laptop. Some days it is MSNBC. On Fridays i try to make it a point to watch news over MSNBC, especially the 8pm-9pm CST broadcast of 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann'. In the very last segment on his show on Friday nights Mr. Olbermann tells stories penned by James Thurbor. James Thurbor was an American author and made his name during the first half of last century - he has written many very witty short stories. You will find a video embedded below - this is from Mr. Olbermann's January 13, 2011 show. It is roughly seven minutes long, but this story is definitely worth listening. Enjoy*.

'The Admiral on The Wheel by James Thurbor' by Keith Olbermann:

* I wish i could add various sound effects from my childhood days to the stories that Mr. Olbermann tells every Friday - that would be really fun! Might actually try doing something like that some day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

IPL - Indian Phools' League?

My evenings during weekends usually involve following news from back home by watching the live broadcasts from news channels such as IBNLive and NDTV. This weekend's news broadcasts really teed me off, for all that was being talked about was IPL Players Auction. There was unrelenting coverage of IPL for two full days.

Did other news cease to happen? Were all the recent scams suddenly resolved? Had the nexus between media, politicians and corporations in India been deconstructed to a conclusion? Did onions start to rain from the sky? Had the naxalites gone on a vacation? Had the weather across the northern plains suddenly turned balmy? No, no, no, no, no, and no. And the issues mentioned above are but a smidgen of what our country is reeling from right now.

One theme common to all media coverage, especially by TV channels is the portended windfall for the players. A player stands to make anywhere from $100,000 USD to upwards of $2,000,000 USD. These numbers are plain obscene, especially when our per capita GDP is only ~$1050 USD. These numbers sound even more mind numbing if we actually convert them to Indian Rupees. Now don't get me wrong - i do not resent cricket players making this sort of money. It is just that except for creating a few temporary jobs (jobs outside of franchises, players, league administrators, media houses, sponsors) every year, IPL does not do anything useful, does not create anything useful - it is still just entertainment ... entertainment, let me say that again - entertainment. Millions of us will end up wasting time, money, and probably even the health of our retinas and ears, and for some may be even their livers (all the drinking that will go on while watching the games!). IPL is nothing but a national time pass, and a lousy one at that.

Furthermore, the controversy about the nexus between media, big business, and politicians that came to the fore when 'Niira Radia Tapes' were made public is still a steaming pile of crap and here we find all three together in bed again. Cricket, the way it is run in India, and especially the IPL, makes for a prime example of that. Our politicians are the folks who govern the sport in the country, the big business owns different franchises, and the media leaves no stone unturned in promoting the event. Only difference is that IPL is like a poison pill that is sweetened to make it easier for us to swallow - the franchises recruit celebrities to draw eyeballs and generate faux interest.

Wake up India. It is time to smell the coffee. Let us call it what it actually is - entertainment overload. The tournament is six months out and i already have a headache. IPL is Indian Phools' League - a Cricket league of the phools, for the phools, by the phools. Actually, come to think of it, it is for the phools for sure, but people who are in it and those who run it are the smart ones as they make big bucks at our expense. The media in India is taking us for ride as it considers us nothing more than dumb eyeballs, and fools (or phools if you like that sorta thing) we are if we are not smart about how we spend our time, effort and money. Let us resolve to not pay anymore attention to IPL and everything else that goes with it, than what it really deserves, anymore than what we'll pay to a circus that is in town once a year. Anyway, we need to inculcate in ourselves as well as in generations younger to us, better interests, better ways of entertaining ourselves - reading, writing, arts and crafts, performing arts etc.

Jai Hind.