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Many times as children, we were reminded to eat slowly and chew one’s food. This also applies to all the news and information being thrust on us continuously. The main consequence of 24*7 media, twitter and facebook is the gulping of news and the inability to digest it all. There are lot of vested interest who start using the media to generate red herrings and present what is not true. These vested interests never get questioned because the majority have just enough time to read the news, no time to analyze, nor revisit their opinions, each time there is an update. This phenomena has led to some very popular perceptions which are indeed misconceptions. I would like to dedicate this post to some very popular misconceptions.

misconception 1: Manmohan Singh is a very honest man: He was the unimaginative door man who was asked to open the door by Narsimha Rao and the IMF. More on his honesty (via Shrikant Patil) Rethink >>> He is not only dishonest but epitomizes evil (via Atanu Dey) >>>

misconception 2: Vijay Bhatkar is the father of India’s super computer: I have met Vijay Bhatkar on a number of occasions. He is a popular figure in Pune and is generally invited to many functions as a chief guest. By the way he was a political appointee of CDAC, neither designed the computer, and the computer that was designed did India no good. If the computer he designed was any good then we would have predicted our rains better and managed our crops better. Again it is a herd mentality, no one who invites him to be a chief guest does an in depth analysis of what he has really achieved. They believe they would actually err by not inviting him or quoting him. What is even more scary is that there is no one better alternative to invite, a case of the best of the worst.

misconception 3: Vin Dham (VD) is the father of the Pentium Processor: I was part of the first Pentium chipset design team. Vin Dham was the then General Manager of the Pentium Design team. Pentium was also the first major advertising campaign where Intel invested 100s of million of dollars, a significant amount in the 90s. The Pentium Microprocessor was made possible by thousands of engineers and employees across design, planning, marketing, manufacturing and quality. Vin Dham was know to be a credit snatcher by many of his colleagues. He used the recall of the Pentium brand to his advantage by calling himself the “father of the Pentium”, a term he used even more after his unceremonious exit. This phrase was repeated so many times that Airtel included him in an ad along with the greats of Aryabhatta, Sushruta, Jagdish Bose and Mahatma Gandhi. Airtel did a major disservice to the 4 great individuals to be highlighted along with VD. Many of his former colleagues and associates were livid on watching the ad. At a recent VC conference the pompous VD was heard saying that he started a fund in India to create many more VDs.

misconception 4: I cannot finish this post without the mention of Rahul Gandhi believed by many to be the future of this country, a to be super power. The future of this country is indeed dark and scary. For those who do not know Rahul Gandhi was pushed into St Stephens via the sports quota in rifle shooting. Not sure he knew how to lift a rifle at that time. He also claims to have attended Harvard University. He could be a late bloomer but even this theory is proved wrong, he has never given an unassisted interview, has closed room discussions with students with media not allowed to be present, his speeches are boring. Rahul has never led a debate in Parliament or else where. The one thing I must admit and admire is that he knows he is incompetent, fills that gap astutely, uses a team of competent managers and the most modern tools including the media, to project an image otherwise.

If you know of any popular misconceptions please let me know, I would be grateful.

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Let me start with one of Oscar Wilde’s famous quotes ” Everything popular is wrong” and would like to challenge the popular belief that Dr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India is a “very honest man”.

I have been struggling with this concept of someone being honest, but with all kinds of dishonest acts and deeds being committed all around. Yesterday, Sonia Gandhi quoted, “the PM to be an embodiment of sobriety, dignity and integrity”, how is this possible while everyone around him is looting the country and he remains a silent observer.

Of late, many have been questioning the conjecture that our PM is a very honest man. Chetan Bhagat recently tweeted “Prime Minister being personally honest is irrelvant. A crocodile infested pond with a lotus is still a crocodile infested pond.” There have been a couple of articles recently that challenge the status quo on his honesty. Shekhar Kapur tweeted along the same lines “How can the PM sleep while 50% of India’s kids r malnourished n 1 minister steals $40 billion from under his nose” he also reminded the Prime Minister in another “M’s 1st loyalty is to ppl of India n nt 2 d Party. His grtst legacy will be to spk d truth to d ppl her serves”. The big question ? Is he listening ? or he continues wait for clues from the family.

Madhu Kishwar in her article, “Honestly Speaking”, questions, “I fail to understand why almost every commentator, every TV anchor, every editorial writer feels compelled to pay ritual obeisance to the “personal honesty and integrity” of Dr Manmohan Singh”. She adds, “Corruption is not only about personally accepting monetary bribes and stacking them away in hidden bank accounts overseas, buying benami properties or accepting diamond sets for your wife. Corruption can come in insidious avatars, such as knowingly turning a blind eye to the misuse the entire machinery of governance to serve private ends of a few individuals, even to the point of endangering national security.”

Atanu Dey blogs “We need a Paradigm Shift regarding Dr Manmohan Singh”, I cannot disagree with any of his observations: Dr Singh, the unimaginative bureaucrat that he was (and is), did as he was told. So essentially the liberalization of the Indian economy was PVNR’s idea, not Dr MM Singh’s. A master of brown-nosery, he dedicated “National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme” to being “Sonia Gandhi’s gift to the country.” His politics of divisiveness is a continuation of the British strategy to conquer and control India, and post independence Congress tradition of divide and rule along religious and caste lines. Why else would he address the nation not as “My dear fellow Indians” but as “My dear Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians” etc.

Santosh Desai also highlights that the notion of integrity is not just about personal probity, it involves being true to the responsibilities of the office and that certainly does not include overlooking the obvious infractions committed by a ministerial colleague because of the compulsions of coalition politics. By continuing to describe him exclusively in these terms along with a few references to his scholarship and erudition, what the Congress is essentially telling us is that we should be grateful that we have as our leader someone who looks the part and that Dr Singh’s intrinsic qualities are good enough, and that his actual performance does not matter.

I have always taken the contra position, Manmohan Singh is a truly despicably dishonest man, but there are many idiots who believe the contrary. Many times people start attacking me when I question how MMS can be called honest with dishonesty flourishing all around. I have pardoned all these idiots when someone enlightened with a old chinese proverb “”When the finger points to the moon, the idiot points to the finger”.

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Critical Corner

Software Superpower: I continue to insist that the software services story is over, however many are in a state of denial. Infosys declared results this morning, Income was Rs 6,198 crore (Rs 61.98 billion) for the quarter ended June 30, 2010; QoQ growth was 4.3 per cent; YoY growth was 13.3 per cent. Net profit after tax* was Rs 1,488 crore (Rs 14.88 billion) for the quarter ended June 30, 2010; QoQ decline was 7.0 per cent; YoY decline was 2.4 per cent. Earnings per share* declined to Rs 26.06 from Rs 26.76 in the corresponding quarter of the previous year; QoQ decline was 7.0 per cent; YoY decline was 2.6 per cent. Please refer to my previous article on the Infosys Bubble. BTW many employees of Infosys have reported that Mr Kris is a very non-inspiring leader. He  gets to head Infosys not because he is capable to be CEO but was part of the founding team. Indian companies need better succession planning.

Global Superpower: Are Educated people street smart. Our Prime Minister  has a Ph.D and spends time with leaders of G8, G20 etc when most of the country is miserably poor. UNDP has reported that 8 Indian states are acutely poor. There are more poor people, 421 million people in eight Indian states than in the 26 poorest African countries combined. Someone needs to advise him on where to focus his energy. Not surprising that the Naxal movement is gaining momentum.

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Critical Corner

Infosys reported net profit of Rs 1600 crore a drop of 1%. The stock has doubled in price over the last year  in anticipation of good results. The company generates 6400 crores of cash and market capitalization is 153,000 crores. How can one or anyone justify this kind of valuation. Even the stock market does not merit performance like everything else in India.

There are good and bad politicians in every political party. No political party can be counted a good or bad. So analyze every candidate and vote for the best one.

My maid Balamani has gone back home to enroll for a widow pension scheme. Another one of UPA’s “no work more benefits” scheme.  Her husband left her a while back, she is young in her mid thirties, able-bodied, definitely not old enough to deserve a pension. Neither old nor a widow, but local authorities have informed her family she still qualifies, for sure they will get a cut of the pension. No surprise where the tax payer’s hard-earned money goes.

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Critical Corner Feb 2010

Vancouver is the best city to stay in the world and Mumbai is ranked 117th. Australia had 4 cities in the top 10. Shiv Sena can take the mandate to improve this ranking.

All of a sudden Shiv Sena chief decided that the Australians were welcome to play IPL-3. May be his think tank pointed out that all those attacked in Oz were indeed North Indians.

Our PM always makes obvious statements for blind consumption by the billion Idiots. After the German Bakery blast, he called for a speedy probe. What about all the probes that are on ? What about hanging Afzal Guru ?

I think the international investor community is putting lot of pressure to close existing cases before fresh investment is committed. Thats why the idea to have special courts to process 5cr+ claims.

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Critical Corner Jan 2010

It is always good to ask Why ? Why ? Why ? and peel the onion. The superficial media and the so called youngistan do not ask tough questions or challenge the status quo. So I have decided to post these simple questions as and when they come my way.

Has anybody taken a status update from Abdul Kalam of his grand vision 2020. Proof of concepts of some of his ideas like PURA are gathering dust. Mr Kalam only 10 years remain any thoughts on how we are doing ? My take: Pathetic

Ever wonder why Narendra Modi never gets invited for any business awards even when Gujarat is the fastest growing state. Gujarat is no Bihar where the base is small. It has been in the top 3 for so many years now. My take: He does not pay up.

Inspite of Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry Prof Venkatraman categorically stating that India had no role in his Nobel Prize, we fools jam his inbox with congratulatory messages, and give the second highest civilian honor, Padma Bhushan, despite his honest claims. My take: We suffer from an inferiority complex.

You may have an answer for the above would love to hear from you. If you have any questions that challenge the obvious, you can either email me or post to the blog.

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A few old school mates met up last Sunday and were discussing the current economic and political situation. I commented, that in a few years, 50 families will rule this country, economically and politically. There was silence and for a change everyone agreed. The reason, that few families will control this country implies that we are not a meritocracy based society but one of patronage. India will forever demand but never command in the globaleconomy. Below are a few reasons why we will never be a super power.

Rich Poor Divide : The disparity between the rich and poor is widening. The average quality of life is deteriorating. It is not about the poor having a cell phone but about living without fear. The fear of hunger, exploitation, lack of choice and uncertainty. This rich poor divide is what is proliferating the naxal movement across the country. Addressing the naxal movement is only addressing the symptom not the root of the problem.

Corruption : The British set up a system of governance which enabled extraction of resources in a structured manner. When the British left the transfer of power shifted from white people to brown people. They continued to extract benefiting a few families and this trend will converge to the benefit of the 50 or so families that will ultimately rule this country. Unless the bureaucracy and politicians are made accountable this country has no future. Our public servants were rated the least efficient in Asia.

Legal System : The legal system in India needs to be completely re engineered where the focus is to render justice. The nexus between lawyers, a corrupt judiciary is making it difficult for a common man to get justice or  business to run efficiently. It also becoming impossible for the poor to seek justice because of the high costs.

Right to Education: Still 50% of our country remains illiterate. Every educated citizen should be drafted to educate the rest of the country. Just like many countries have compulsory military service why not we have compulsory teacher service.

Decline of key professions: While in school, I was reminded to always tell the truth to one’s teacher, lawyer and doctor. My general experience with all 3 of them has been notorious in the last 3 years. There are some exceptions, in general, one has to to be lucky to find them. Teachers hired by the government don’t do their work, those in private become inaccessible to the common man. The same situation applies to doctors and lawyers also.

There are many other issues, but if we start addressing the above with a 25 year plan and a mission where a billion people participate. The world will notice us not because of the number, we are, but the large number focussed on doing the right thing, that will be ideal momentum.

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