Sunday, August 29, 2004

Believe "IT" or Not !!

"IT" is something which is neither a person nor an object, but something intangible, something which is so ubiquitous for a certain section of people. "IT" is something to which some people can relate more closely and some just can't at all. Some people believe that "IT" exists and some swear that it doesn't. "IT" is something of which it is difficult to prove the existence of but those who say that "IT" exists will go to great lengths to prove that "IT" definitely exists. In the end it is a matter of the amount of faith which determines whether "IT" exists or not. What is "IT" to one may not be "IT" for another

Many believe that if you pray for "IT" hard enough you will definitely get "IT" one day and once you get "IT" for the first time there is no denying its existence and you then get loads of "IT". Existence of "IT" can affect different people in different way - for some people "IT" can do wonders like "IT" can bring so much happiness as if they don't need anything else in this world, while it can bring so much trauma and sorrow to others.

When "IT" doesn't help people start questioning its effectiveness and existence. But when "IT" does work, the same people are willing to do anything to shave off any oppositon to the concept called "IT". Anybody who then opposes the existence or efficacy of the "IT" is dead meat.

"IT" is not of one type - "IT" comes in as many flavours as there are followers and practitioners of this cult called "IT" and one follower is always trying to prove to another that my "IT" is "IT" and your "IT" doesn't deserve to be called "IT". It is because of these conflicts that there has been mushrooming of entities which are anti-IT and which try to get rid of "IT" at all costs.

Just like so many things that are shrouded in mystery and which don't have a clear-cut solution, so is "IT". Some would say "IT" is not a problem at all so why the solution but the debate can go on and on like the Coffee-Toffee argument.

As I write this article, I realise the weight of responsibility that some people have put on my shoulders to get rid of "IT" but the task is not that easy because of the cult following that "SPAM" enjoys in our society just like GOD does. No wonder there are so many similarities and that's why GOD and "SPAM" are interchangeable.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Changing Times at IIMI

Changing Times

Scene 1

Neighbour: “Hey wake up Man, time to go to class!!”
Rohit: “Abey OSI, abhi to utha diya dobara matt uthaiyo
Neighbour: “Abey, don’t you have a class?”
Rohit: “We are in 2nd year man. Chillax!! I would suggest you also sleep (Alone, I mean)”
Neighbour: “Haan isiliye to class mein ja raha hoon. I can’t sleep in the room yaar.”
Rohit: “You seem to have developed a bad habit of sleeping in a group. Anyway, you attend your class; I have better things to do.”

Cut to Scene 2

GM1: “Hey bugger, Aaj ke din uthega ke nahin?”
Rohit: (rubbing his eyes) “What’s the time man?”
GM2: “It’s already 10:35 am”
Rohit: “Ohh shit..Why did you wake me up so early?”
GM1: “Early? Which world are you in man!! We have already had a quiz in SFM today and you got a zuk in that. So it is not early for you to wake up and smell the coffee.”
GM2: “Abey Prof. ne evening class ke liye case assignment bhee diya hai
Rohit: “Is it so? Prof. quality is going down yaar. Apnee in-house faculty hee achhee thee.”
GM1: “Get up now man. We need to make a prez as well. Hardly have 5-6 hours left. Fin ke cases to waise hee samajh mein nahin aate.”
Rohit: “Theek hai aata hoon. Tum chalo.”

After an hour or so – Scene 3

GM1 shouts: “Abey fir se so gaya kya? Aaja topper ke room mein Case karna hai.”
Rohit: “I still haven’t read the case man”
GM1: “Whyyyy?”
Rohit: “I just realized that I have lost my SFM spiral”

*GM1, GM2: Two of my group members

Still wondering why the title says what it says? Well do not, as you will soon find out this is an article written by a body that is PGP2 but soul that is still PGP1 and this soul is trying to understand why the body is behaving the way it is.

I am tempted to write this literary piece because of the transformation I’ve seen in myself from being a somewhat regular “participant” in PGP1 to not even remotely regular “participant” in PGP2. Though I’m still a participant my allegiances have shifted more to sundry activities and academics seem nowhere in sight.

Attending all the sessions, going through readings, participating / initiating group meetings and studying before the exams were the activities that took most of my time in PGP1. Contrast this with - skipping classes (now that we have the 75% attendance rule we are encouraged all the more to skip classes), leaving the readings alone (it increases their resale value), group meetings are as rare as Haley’s sightings, and studying after the exams to find out how good you are at guesswork and peeping.

From the look of it, it would appear to be quite a daunting task to undergo such a transformation but believe me it couldn’t have been easier. It is similar to flow of fluid from high pressure zone to low pressure zone. It is not tough but natural. Not to mention I am writing this sitting in the class (of course the class is going on at this moment) and my conscience doesn’t pinch me at all.

After a grueling year called PGP1, having maraoed in all kinds of stinking courses having built a decent CGPA (which is necessary for placements, as the seniors gyaaned), it is time for payback. Along the line you realize that it is the most ironical thing to take courses of your own choice and then sleep through them.

Initially, I thought I was the only proponent of the Payback Theory, but lately I realized that almost the entire batch of theorists had flourished here. This was evident during the recent SFM class when Prof. asked who all have analyzed (not just read) the case there were only as many hands that were raised as there were all-rounders in the Indian team. Prof. was more than pleased to seize the opportunity to get the class vacated which he actually did by asking who had not analyzed the case to leave. This triggered a thought-process in me - Earlier we were expected to just read the case, now they expect us to analyze it as well. That’s what I call raising the bar, which I would have appreciated in most cases, but here when I see my bar dropping like the Mercury does in Delhi winters, all I can request is

“Bar the raise, for this music I can’t face.
Cut to the chase - it is too fast to keep pace”

Everyone would agree strategic planning is one thing and strategic management another. Though I had all the plans they wouldn’t have been successful if I hadn’t received help from expected quarters - the group members. I have been lucky enough to have a group that allows me to indulge in my new found interests. I must say it was a good strategy on my part to choose members who didn’t share the same views as I do or even if they did not to the same extent as I did.

Well, many would say this is what free riders do and it may be true. All I would say in the end is that I am finally getting to taste the forbidden fruit called “free-ride” and till now I haven’t been left with a bad taste in the mouth. Others may choose to differ.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

We XL at Hooliganism

It is understandable and an accepted belief to find a student or alumnus of an institute to come out and defend its institute. The same was on exhibition after the recent spate of not so fortunate incidents that took place at XLRI. I am referring to the acts of hooliganism that were perpetrated by the second year students of the "premier" B-school on the incoming fresher batch. There have been many versions of the story floating in various discussion forums, the most prominent among them being Pagalguy.

While some students of different B-schools have started criticising XLRI for such acts while the others have taken a more cautious approach and have reserved their rebuke till the matter is officially confirmed. The comments by the student community triggered a defense mechanism amongst the XLites. Many seniors and even the freshers, who have been the proclaimed victims in this incident, have come out in the open to say good things about the institute and clearly denied the occurrence of any such acts.

The matter looked more like speculation for a fair amount of time after the incident as there was no official statement and people were making comments based on hearsay. e.g.

"One version floating around talks about the seniors getting drunk, both the sexes, and then trying to get rough with the girls in the junior batch. It goes on to say that one of the seniors tried to kiss a junior girl but when opposed they threatened to barge into the hostel. What was surprising was that even girls of the senior batch were involved in creating a ruckus."

Obviously, the above incident sounds very far fetched for an institute like XLRI and is mostly hearsay. The institute by this point of time has come out with an official notice stating that "unfortunate" incidents did take place and action will be taken against the guilty. Though this kind of official statement does confirm that these acts took place but to what extent is still a matter of speculation and bait for the gossip mongers.

My personal opinion on this is that ragging or the so-called introductions should be there in the B-schools but it should not be at the cost of the others' self esteem. This episode should prompt the administration to put in place proper checks and balances in the system to avoid such incidents in future. Now that the people who actually committed these acts sit back, they would realize what their bouts of drinking and the acts that followed have done to their and the institute's image. Though the reputation that XLRI has built over the years is too strong to be tarnished by one such incident but it is incidents like these which would accelerate it towards the path of self immolation.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Cricket Crazy India

Being from a country that has very little to boast of any sporting achievements, talking about cricket is the only solace. The feverish enthusiasm that this sport generates in this part of the world is to be seen to be believed. That also explains why I chose this topic for my first blog.

When a kid grows up you expect him to know his subjects well but in India it is different. The caste, colour, creed and income level don't matter when it comes to cricket and you find every kid knowing the cricket icons more than the literary greats or national leaders. Cricket attracts the maximum amount of sponsorship from corporates and cricket takes a priority over work at the workplace.

Cricket has a very long history in India like some other sports, but somehow cricket has gotten the fancy of the Indians more than any other game. It is sometimes also the thorn in the flesh between man and wife, with TV getting more attention than the wife. But one of the most lively sites is the Indo-Pak encounter. There are three main reasons why this tussle is always much awaited by citizens of both the countries - First, both the teams in terms of strength are at par and make for interesting viewing. Second, both these countries once used to be a single nation and under cincumstances which led to the formation of PAK, people (generally triggered by power-savvy politicians) want to play the game of one up-manship. Third, relations between these two nations in recent past have never been cordial, what with terrorist incursions in J&K and Pak blaming India for human rights violation. In short, Indo-Pak is just like any other battle fought in the annals of history, it's just the setting is totally different. Sample this, the recent tour of Pak by India came after more than a decade with the Indian cricket board refusing to tour the troubled nation because of safety issues.

Just so that you appreciate the kind of craze I am talking about I would like to recount one incident. This happened during the 2001 tour of India by Australia. After being one down, there were just two tests to go and India had to win both of them to win the Border-Gavaskar trophy. To rub salt into the wounds, second test started off with Aussies piling a huge score and India had to follow-on. Then came the most interesting episode of test cricket you will ever see. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid (The Wall) batted the entire day and Aussies were found chasing the red cherry. India finally managed to win that game. The third test was the perfect setting for the two teams to fight it our for the test supremacy and on day five India needed just 155 runs to seal the victory. Easy task one would say with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman (riding high on his magnificent knock of 281, highest ever by Indian at that time). But with the fifth day pitch breaking up, the series win at stake and tough oppositions like Aussies on the other side no task is easy enough. India were quickly reduced to 135-7 and with hindsight of India's past track record, win appeared to be just a pipe dream. These were the emotions when we at IIT entered the computer centre to catch a glimpse of the last moments on the Internet. The match was a roller coaster with the fortunes of the two countries riding crest and trough alternately. We were a bunch of 25-30 people all surrounded around one PC making emotional outbursts at the fall of each wicket or at the score of each run. Even requests by the system administrator to leave the computer centre were met with protests (and I can guarantee they were not polite protests). Finally, after much foreplay India managed to reach the climax and who better than Harbhajan "Turbanator" Singh to script the climax. He got to do the honours as he hit the winning runs and India finally coasted home with 2 wickets in hand. Check out the BBC coverage here