Cerebral Shangrila

Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscars - 2005

There were hardly any surprises in the Oscars - 2005. Its was sad to see Martin Scorcese not winning the Best Director this time too ....Martin , Oscar or not , you are always a great Director !

Sunday, February 27, 2005


The first time I heard about microcredit , I was terribly excited by the idea. It was during a meeting with an NGO and I was amazed by what a small amount of money can do to the poorest of the poor.It suddenly seemed like a panacea for all the ills of the poor . I immediately started googling to know more about it and one name kept coming up everywhere -- Muhammad Yunus & Grameen Bank. Here is his interview on Knowledge@Wharton.

India can reap tremendous benefits through Microcredit. The network of NGO's,SHG's ( Self Help Groups) & Rural,co-operative Banks alongwith NABARD and with big names like Vinod Khosla , Citibank , ICICI ( in partnetship with Grameen) devoting their money , we could hope to uplift our poor through self-reliance.

But the Key as FM , P.Chidambaram has rightly said is not to treat this as charity but with a high degree of professionalism . No more NPA's and the target should be to strive for 100% recovery rate. This is what is " Business with a social perspective".

Saturday, February 26, 2005

P.Chidambaram - The Man

Being the Finance Minister of India is not an easy job. Particularly when you are running a coalition with the Leftists as your partner . Its a constant battle between Socialism Vs Adam Smithian free markets.

I admire him a lot . One of the Astute Financial Brains in the Country, he has always managed to tread the thin line of satisfying both the Classes and the masses. Chidambaram's ( An Harvard MBA), 1997 budget was described as a " Dream Budget" , and his last year budget focussed more on the Rural India. Monday (28th Feb) is the "Budget" day in India .I am looking forward to the Budget because this would also be the first time , I would be analyzing the budget as a management student .

Btw, Here is a nice article in Rediff on P.Chidambaram.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Narain @ Sepang -- F1

If all goes well , I should be at the Sepang F1 Racing ( Malaysian F1 Grand Prix) on the 20th March ( Don't worry , only in the audience ! ). We , Indian Students here in Singapore are trying to get tickets for the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix.

It would truly be a momentous occasion to cheer Narain Karthikeyan in Malaysia ! My knowledge about F1 is quite limited , but from what I hear , its no mean achievement to qualify for F1 Racing . The Year of 2005 seems to have dawned propitiously for Indians with Sania Mirza's WTA Triumph and Narain's F1 Qualification .

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Art of War

I just finished reading the Chinese Classic " The Art of War by Sun Tzu " . This Book is considered as a Classic treatise on the Art of War and is so popular that our University has a course titled " Sun Tzi's Art of War and its business Applications " . Its a very interesting book which talks in detail about War Strategies like Mode of Attack,Espionage etc.. Its considered as the " Oldest Military Treatise in the World" having been written more than 2500 years ago.

The Book reminded me of two comparable books I have heard/read in the past ( Which are Classics in their own right) . One is Kautilya's " Arthasasthra" ( A book I have not read but a play I have seen numerous times) and the other is Machiavelli's " Prince". Arthasasthra ( By Kautilya or his more popular name Chanakya) goes much beyond the war and enunciates on governance and Administration too. The Chanakya play by R.S.Manohar ( A Tamil Theatrical Legend) was largely responsible for making the Story of Vikramaditya & Chanakya popular among the masses.

The Prince is a cult in its own respect espousing the concept of " winning at any cost" and Machiavelli is an Adverb (Machiavellian) as much as being a Pronoun.

Though I don't agree with all that is said in these Classics , I couldn't help wondering about their influence on modern history and the concept that " Business is War" .

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

"Black" - A visual treat

Saw the movie " Black " during the weekend. Black thoroughly deserves most of the praise that has already been heaped on it. Lot has already been said about Amitabh,Rani's Acting and the direction of Sanjay Leela Bhansali.Shernaz Patel as Rani Mukherjee's mother was Outstanding .What struck me about the movie was its Camerawork & Music . The Camerawork and the use of lighting was spectacular . The Background score was excellent too and there were no songs in the movie. There were a few minor shortcomings but on a Whole the movie is a remarkable achievement.

Black has been largely inspired by the life of Helen Keller ( Bhansali's credits the Helen Keller Institute in the title).I remember reading the book " The Story of my Life by Helen Keller" a few years ago. Its an amazing book of struggle,survival and triumph.Now , I am planning to see the movie " Miracle Worker" (*ing Anne Bancroft) which is based on the book.

"Black" is a significant milestone in Bollywood's path towards serious cinema.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fiorina - Severance Pay

Not too sure if FT (Financial Times) , was merely reporting the fact or was trying to be satirical :-)

" Carly Fiorina will be paid a $21.4m severance package after being fired as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard last week. She will also be able to keep her computer and receive free tech support for three months " ( Courtesy : Financial Times )

Friday, February 18, 2005

Exams - The Good,Bad and the ugly

Exams are like a Clint Eastwood Movie, they can be good or bad or ugly.People don't talk about the good ones, forget the bad ones and crib about the ugly ones. Finally, my second trimester exams got over today. Most of my subjects went off very well except today's exam -- Managerial Accounting ( Costing ). Costing didn't interest me too much from the start , though later I realized it was actually a good subject ( But by then it was too late ! ). The exam was tough to finish in the given time and due to the time constraint , I realized , I made some costly mistakes. Really unhappy about my performance and had to vent out the frustration !

Anyways, looking forward , I have 10 days of Vacation. Surprisingly I haven't planned any trip yet , though will mull over travel destinations this weekend. Grabbed a few DVD's ( David Lean's " Great Expectations" , Akira Kurosawa's " Akahige (Red Beard)" , Guru Dutt's "Kaagaz Ke Phool" and a few books ( Scott Adams's " The Dilbert Priniciple" , Ray Bradbury's " Fahrenheit 451" , Aldous Huxley's " Brave New World" ) to keep me busy during the weekend & Vacation . Also got to start applying for my summer internships soon.

Monday, February 14, 2005

HP & Fiorina Posted by Hello

This is not just another Garage . This is the Garage where Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard founded HP more than 65 years ago. The Commemorative Plaque outside proclaims this place as the " Birthplace of Silicon Valley" . For the uninitiated , Silicon Valley (or Bay Area) is the Stretch between San Francisco & San Jose
( Almost 50 miles if you drive on 101 Freeway) in California which is the Home of Tech Giants such as HP,Oracle,Cisco,Intel,Sun Microsystems,Yahoo,Google,Apple.

When I heard the news about the ouster of Carly , I couldn't help feeling a sense of Clairvoyance.HP is a company that I admire a lot . Aren't they afterall credited with the Creation of " Silicon Valley" ? I lived in the valley for almost 3 years . The Silicon Valley is famous for many things -- Innovation , Venture Capitalism,Entrepreneurial Spirit , Geekdom and also sadly greed. HP was one of those few companies with brain & soul in an otherwise competitive cerebral world . Folklores are legendary inside HP about its Founders' simplicity and unique " Management by Walking Around (MBWA)".

During my recent MBA projects (OB Project on HP-Compaq Merger and Costing project on " Cost of Quality" at HP) on HP , I couldn't help having a eerie feeling when I realized that 70% of HP's profits came from its Lucrative Printing / Imaging division or when the bulk of market Cap of HP was due to its "cash cow" printers (Actually catridges) . Most analysts wanted the company to be split to enhance shareholder value and also the HP-Compaq merger had not gone as well as they wanted it to be ( IBM is still a king in Services and Dell seems no signs of wearing down in PC Business enjoying the highest margins ).

Against all this Backdrop , I thought Fiorina would quit and probably pursue her political ambitions ( BusinessWeek reports that she is close to the Republicans and has aspirations to run for the Senate ). But fate (or the Board) willed otherwise .........

Friday, February 11, 2005

The exams are back

My second trimester exams begin next week. This semester however the exams look a lot easier since most of them are case based exams ( Except Managerial Accounting or Costing ) . So I am back to sharpening pencils,borrowing erasers & being surrounded by Books !

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lata's Ten Favorite Songs Posted by Hello

A few months back I had written a Blog Post on my Favorite 10 Lata Solos. Here are Lata's personal favorites . Awesome collection !

Monday, February 07, 2005

Thanjavur Temple Posted by Hello

India and its culture never ceases to amaze people. I was fortunate enough to watch a program on the " Brahatheeswara Temple" on the Discovery Channel. Brahatheeshwara Temple ( also known as Big Temple) is located in Thanjavur,Tamil Nadu and is one of the most famous temples in India.Its an engineering marvel with a huge vimana (216 feet) and the shadow of the cupola on top never falls on the Ground ! The program showed its architectural beauty & how they might have moved the Huge 25 ton Granite stone ( The huge Nandhi which is 25 ton) using Elephants & inclined planes ( They tried doing it in the program with the aid of Elephants and found even part of it very difficult - a testimony to the architectural and engineering prowess of yesteryears).

The temple was constructed almost 1000 years ago ( 995 years actually -- for the number trivia freaks) and stands as a testimony to the Chola heritage & the Greatness of " Raja Raja Chola " . Most Tamilians would be familiar with the great Chola emperor Raja Raja Cholan ( Most of them through Kalki's magnum Opus " Ponniyin Selvan" or the others through Sivaji Ganesan's movie Raja Raja Cholan) . Arul Mozhi is the Hero of Kalki's immortal Classic novel " Ponniyin Selvan" ( If you haven't read this book , you don't know what you have missed in life ! ) & took on the title of " Raja Raja Chola" after incarnation as a King.

I visited this temple almost 10 years ago and was stunned by its huge Vimana & Nandhi . The Thanjavur temple is an ode to our Glorious past !

Sunday, February 06, 2005

World's most powerful Supercomputer

The world's most powerful supercomputer runs Linux . The Columbia at NASA is the world's most powerful supercomputer now ( Columbia is comprised of an integrated cluster of 20 interconnected SGI Altix 512-processor systems, for a total of 10,240 Intel Itanium 2 processors. The research and analysis ranges from providing more accurate hurricane predictions, to climate change, galaxy formation, black holes and supernovas).

Click here to have a look at Columbia !

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Has Linux finally arrived ?

BusinessWeek had a
wonderful article a few weeks back on the emergence of Linux & how the OSDL ( Open Source Development Labs) works.After years of waiting , Linux is finally getting much deserved recognition. With Tech Heavyweights like IBM,Intel,HP contributing to the development of Linux and other giants like Motorola,Google using Linux in their products, the future looks rosy.

The fascinating story in this article is the way Linux community works. Very interesting.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Never be afraid to " ask"

I already have a reputation of asking too many questions , but definitely have a thing or two to learn from this quote.

A wise man, when asked how he had learned so much about everything, replied: "By never being ashamed or afraid to ask questions about anything of which I was ignorant."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sir Tim Berners Lee - " Greatest Briton 2004"

In an industry where humility is a rare virtue , Tim is different. Inventor of the WWW ( at CERN,Geneva in 1980) & winner of the Millennium Technology Prize , he modestly admitted that his contribution to the internet world was just a wee bit. Had he patented his invention of " World Wide Web (WWW) " , he would have become perhaps the richest man in the planet today. But more than anyone he fought to keep the world wide web open,non-proprietary and free.

A few days back he was named the " Greatest Briton 2004" .