Saturday, August 28, 2004
Annual IT Management Seminar 2004, IIM Kozhikode
AIMS 2004, the first of a series of annual IT Management seminars, was the talk of town atop one particular hill of Kozhikode city. IIM Kozhikode hosted the stalwarts of the Indian IT industry as they shared their ideas and thoughts on the theme Marketing of IT Solutions. Spread over the 28th and 29th of August, the seminar was attended by some of the big names of the Indian IT industry and with the pertinent nature of the theme, it was all the more beneficial for both the concerned parties. For the students of IIMK, it was an opportunity to know how the thought leaders of the Indian IT industry are planning to counter the imminent threats of offshoring backlash in the US and the ever growing challenge from other cheap man-power countries like China. For the IT corporates, they had the chance to interact with what is widely perceived as the cream of Indian intelligentsia. An opportunity to not only clarify their stand in front of an audience of one of the IIMs, but to also make their own sales pitch in front of the business leaders of tomorrow was something no company would have missed.
Credit goes to Abhinav and Anirudh of the second year at IIMK, who form the core of Abakus, the systems interest group at IIMK, for not only conceptualising this event but also bringing it to fruition and what a fruition at that. The student council of both years, the entire Placement Committee, and not to mention the numerous volunteers who managed all the logistics did a wonderful job and it is their efforts that are going to go a long way towards building the IIMK brand and helping it compete not only nationally but also on a world level.
Day 1, AIMS '04, IIM Kozhikode
The seminar kicked off with the inauguration of the event as the distinguished speakers and Dr. Krishna Kumar, the director of IIMK, lighted the lamps. After the traditional inauguration and a bouquet welcome to all the guests, Dr. Krishna Kumar gave the welcome speech. Dr. Kumar mentioned the mission and vision of IIMK as being identified as a national institution of international reckoning and adopting a number of measures to accomplish the same. He talked about upcoming events in the institute that will further strengthen the industry interaction with the institute. He also talked about the various executive management programs undertaken by the institute. Mr. Kumar appealed to the guests gathered to help the institute achieve its objectives, specifically by helping to develop its intellectual capital.
The stage was then set for the seminar with Mr. Arun Seth delivering the key note address and narrowing down the context of the discussion with some exquisite examples and some very pertinent data to support his presentation.
Mr. Arun Seth, Chairman, BT India and Chairman, ITeS-BPO, NASSCOM
The thrust of Mr. Seth's speech appeared to be the inherent advantage that India possesses in terms of intellectual capital. Enlightening the audience about the fast ageing China and a relatively young India, he said that we have a big competitive edge because of that. Also, due to our youth, we come across as ones who do not have any legacy to hold us back. Mr. Seth pointed out the role that NASSCOM has been playing in the growth of the Indian IT sector by lobbying with the Government to get tax and other benefits. NASSCOM were the first to coin the term IT Enabled Services for the BPO sector, so that they come under the IT umbrella and get all the related concessions. It was because of the NASSCOM's intiative in pushing up the de-monopolisation of VSNL, that the telecom industry has seen such phenomenol growth.
According to Mr. Seth, there was the need for the IT industry to align with institutes like IIM Kozhikode to train its middle management with the best business practices.
With 50% of the CMM enabled companies in the world being Indian companies, Mr. Seth said that India has gained an advantage that can be converted to a $50 bn industry with the generation of 2 mn direct and 2 mn downstream jobs in years to come. This can be made possible only if the current marketers of Indian IT sector focus on and exhibit the unique advantage that Indian IT possesses of having a disruptive model where IT and BPO are delivered together.
The need of the day, Mr. Seth said, is to move the marketing operations from the back office to the front office and change the solution based approach to a more partnership based game plan. He proposed that the much hyped about offshoring backlash is actually less a threat to Indian IT companies than that caused by reservations about data security issues in the clients' mind.
Mr. Sam Iyengar, Senior Advisor, ITSMA
In an impressive presentation, the senior advisor from ITSMA put forward the changing face of marketing in the Indian IT sector. He said that presently, a huge chunk of marketing goes into marketing communication. A more proactive role can, however, be played if the level of discipline existing in the delivery model of the IT companies is also brought to their marketing model. Mr. Iyengar said that the focus should shift from being process oriented to being innovative...from being internally oriented to market oriented...from being just technical to being consultative. He said that there is the need for a proactive solutions portfolio and a move from verticalisation to identifying specific market segments and moving forward to capture them. He said that this shift from the tactical to strategic marketing will clinch the deal for India IT Inc.
Mr. Iyengar mentioned that it is important for the global players from the Indian IT sector to be global and at the same time, behave local so that they can be close to the customer fabric. According to Mr. Iyengar, Public Relations needs to be replaced with the execution of a brand strategy to increase the visibility of India IT Inc. More value based pricing is required to hold and re-gain the market that was initially won over by the low cost proposition alone.
Mr. MV Sarma, AVP, GIS, Computer Sciences Corporation India Ltd
Mr. Sarma from CSC dealt with the service marketing part of the Indian IT companies. Customer loyalty through service management, he said, is the key today. With the stringent down times that are imposed in the world market (only about 23 minutes in an entire year), Mr. Sarma said that the IT companies need to be process oriented with customer satisfaction as their main focus. He said that being proactive today means not just going to visit or calling up the clients, but to use tools and technology to predict failures and prevent them. He said that the infrastructure needs to be improved to achieve sustainable cost reduction and despite the inherent quality advantage of India, if the Indian IT companies do not realise that the challenges vary across different verticals, it will be difficult for them to grow.
As per Mr. Sarma, there exist certain gaps in the companies due to under developed middle management that needs to be filled up by using tools like decison making matrix so that the right time is chosen for various tasks like enhancing capacity and so on. Apart from the process related productivity that everyone talks about, Mr. Sarma said that it is essential to focus on infrastructure based productivity by integrating the various processes and moving from an ad hoc organisation to one that enhances customer satisfaction.
Mr. Sarma suggested the four pronged aproach of maximizing, measuring, maintaining, and marketing customer relations in order to get the message of Indian IT companies' coming of age across to the CEOs, the CFOs, and the CIOs of the world. Mr. Sarma also talked about the unique world sourcing strategy adopted by CSC to properly co-ordinate its business functions by optimizing on time zones and resources across the world.
Mr. Deepak Khosla, GM (Central Marketing), Patni
If the previous speakers had talked about the need to introduce changes in the Indian IT companies' marketing game plan, Mr. Khosla explained how to go about it. He divided the Indian IT industry into four different phases. Phase 1, he said, was between 1985 to 1995 and included start ups in application development and maintenance. The primary driving factor in this phase was low cost. The second phase extended from 1995 to 2000 and was the age of e-Business, ERP and most importantly, Y2K. IT, and Indian IT companies, in particular, became fashionable and the new mantra was quality at a lower cost. Mr. Khosla said that the third phase from 2001 to 2004 has seen cutting edge work which is still delivered out of the offshore-onsite model. Security, productivity, and project management have been the key words in this phase. Coming up, he said, is the fourth phase from 2004 to 2007 which will experience a major shakeout in the market that will turn from being based on an offshoring to an outsourcing model.
Contrary to popular belief, Mr. Khosla pointed out that the backlash against offshoring in the US has actually helped both Indian and US companies. For the Indian companies, the backlash has focussed the attention of the US client towards the new possibilities in India that they may have been unaware of earlier. At the same time, for the US companies, they are now outsourcing the kind of work that is different from their basic fiber, and thus the kind of work that they were not supposed to be doing in the first place at all. This, Mr. Khosla said, would only make the US companies more productive and increase their profitability.
Mr. Khosla also mentioned that the main reason for Indians preferring the MNCs coming into India over the core Indian IT companies is the fact that more than anyting else, they possess a much stronger brand. The focus of India IT Inc, therefore, should be more on converting more suspects sitting outside the sales funnel into real prospects. When these prospects go down the sales funnel, they pass through areas where their interest is first narrowed down and then refined so that they end up coming out of the funnel as long term customers of the company.
Mr. Khosla also stressed on the importance of internal marketing within the organization to reinforce its core value proposition. He said that depending on the catch, different people have to be involved in making the sales positioning of the company and thus, marketing , despite being the external face of the company, should be aligned all over the length and breadth of the company. With more of B2B instead of B2C businesses in the Indian IT sector, Mr. Khosla said that online medium's importance as a channel of communication is underlined.
Mr. Khosla pointed out that there are different tools available for different marketing strategies and their optimum use can help the Indian IT companies to move ahead from labor arbitrage and skilled labor propositions to a more innovative and value driven strategy.
Mr. Subhash Dhar, Head, Communication Services Business, Infosys Technologies Ltd
Mr. Dhar started off the post lunch session with the words that he believes that there should be no marketing department in a company since marketing and business are synonymous. He emphasized the fact that instead of being apologetic for what we have, we should realize that we have built some great value for the Indian IT sector and the need of the day is to capitalize on that and increase our under utilized share of the pie. Mr. Dhar said that the English speaking capability of Indians along with the low cost are understood value propositions and have thus been commoditised. It is more important in the current scenario to put due emphasis on the other value propositions that Indian IT companies are providing and yet not highlighting. Marketing's role, in Mr. Dhar's opinion was to rally around these values such as an asynchronous enecution model, better quality, lower total cost of ownership and so on, such that the market can be fully exploited.
Mr. Dhar wanted the Indian IT companies to focus more on their core competencies and follow the more evolved hub and spoke model instead of the peer to peer model of knowledge management. He said that it is important to grease the cycle of innovation and become a part of the value chain of the customers.
Ms. Sangita Singh, CMO and Vice President, Wipro Technologies
One of the youngest VPs of any IT company in India, Ms. Singh has received several awards for her role in shaping the marketing policies of Wipro Technologies. Her presentation for the day highlighted the work that the marketing team at Wipro did to achieve this objective and as such, set the benchmark against which other companies can calibrate themselves.
Ms. Singh noted that it is important that the absolute defnition of marketing be circulated amongst the internal customers of an organisation to enable it to send out measurable business benefits. This can be done through an integrated framework evolved over time to target multiple audiences. Moving from a focus on Go to Market strategy for each business group, Marketing has to generate demand through information and make more focussed and informed sales pitches to get relevant and big business. Ms. Singh said that in deciding partners, the major factors that a customer considers are the peer group and the company's web site. Adopting measures like search engine optimisation, information gathering and management regarding calls to and from Clients to Wipro through the ILG tool, white papers, web events, etc will help an organisation to maintain a balance between the push and pull models and sustain this balance.
Ms. Singh highlighted the importance of brand differentiation vis-a-vis just brand awareness and said that the time had come to identify, have insights, target and measure opportunities for growth. Ms Singh said that to achieve this objective, it is important to continuously innovate in marketing policies and make sure that all the company's employees share the same idea about the company and its marketing program.
Mr. Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, Senior Manager, Corporate Marketing and Communications, Cognizant
Mr. Ramamoorthy called upon the Indian IT companies to leverage their internal assets to build marketing platforms where referral and relationship marketing have a greater role to play as compared to the currently practised transactional marketing. He said that for the IT industry, unlike others, all three out of cost, quality, and volume are high. It is important in this scenario to employ inside-out marketing that focuses on strategy, customer relationship management, employee and analyst marketing, amongst others. Mr. Ramamoorthy said that to do this, it is important to practise proximity marketing and Cognizant, in shifting its executive management to client locations, has done exactly that. It is important to understand the pulse of the market which might vary across different regions and as such, Mr. Ramamoorthy said that Cognizant decided to get seen most where it matters most to be seen.
They aligned themselves across verticals and sub-verticals instead of on the basis of technologies or geographies and this, Mr. Ramamoorthy said, was achieved through what he called dominance marketing, that is getting into a particular sub-vertical or vertical, dominating it, and then expanding further. Mr. Ramamoorthy said that the biggest problems that the customers face and which sometimes even lead to contract terminations, are lack of communication, lack of responsiveness, and clash of cultures. To counter this, it is important to blend in the customers' location with a local sales force and a local executive decision making body empowered to take real time decisions to maintain the competitive edge.
Mr. Ramamoorthy also mentioned the means adopted by Cognizant to develop and sustain their customer relationships through end user customer meets, forming customer advisory councils, and so on. He said that an employee led marketing program is the one that is more likely to be successful. As a security provider, Mr. Ramamoorthy said that it is important to go for quality assessments at an enterprise wide scale.
Mr. Aju Thomas, Tata Consultancy Services
Mr Aju Thomas, from TCS, was the last speaker of the day and he presented a technical paper on how a systems driven approach can benefit the organisational structure from the marketing perspective. He said that in the current scenario, there are some improper consultancy engagements and the minor reason for this may be that the client does not understand its needs properly and is in effect, a bad client. However, Mr. Thomas said that the converse is also true and there are cases where the consultants lose out because of their own inefficiencies. They tend to take up consultancy engagements that do not match their expertise profile, and at times are unable to understand the clients' culture and the expected scope of the engagement.
This lack of clarity, that is required to bridge the gaps between customer expectations and the actual deliverable, Mr. Thomas said, may be countered by a systems driven approach that has the feedback and verification system in-built. This methodology, if employed, would bridge the gaps that may be cognitive, perceptive, communication or implementation based in nature. The focus, Mr. Thomas said, should be on product features that the client is actually going to use. Similarly, he pointed out, the high risk projects like nuclear projects require the formal method rather than the classical method. Therefore, in Mr. Thomas' words, a system based on the multi-modeling approach and having adequate provisions for inter departmental communication, can be the effective model employed for marketing of IT solutions.
The second day of the IT Seminar tomorrow promises to be another exciting venture, all the more so since there are some big names lined up, including the CEOs of some Indian IT companies, who will be participating in a panel discussion. A rock nite is also on the cards and it won't be an exaggeration to say that I am earnestly looking forward to it.
Posted at 11:08 pm by Nitai
Friday, August 27, 2004
Reading signs at the cross roads
More than one half of the first term is over and it is time to take stock. What did I have when I came here...not much, I suppose. Unlike the freshers who are here straight out of college, I was one of those who have had the taste of blood and are in to perhaps sharpen their jaws. After two years in Infosys, it could never have been the same thing. I do not know if this is to my advantage or works against the purpose with which people go to B-schools. I don't subscribe to the school of thought that considers inexperience as an advantage or on the other extreme, youth as an indispensable factor in perspective moulding. I believe that there are pros and cons of both and as such, I will win some and lose some.
Right from day one, I had realised that there are people here who are achievers and there are those who think that they are achievers. The real achievers are hardly ever seen in the limelight (not to say that those who are in the limelight do not have what it takes). Almost all those who have done some wonderful work in the past are either too busy with their future to give thought to the present or it may be that the others are too involved in themselves to give these achievers any thought or credit. As against people who have had the courage and expertise to run their own businesses, who have interacted and worked with the best in the world, who have as great an academic and co-curricular record as any one could possibly dream of, I have come here with what can be called a clean slate.
This slate, when written on, should not just be an academic report card. There is so much more to learn from this place and the people. The big question is : Can I do it? The even bigger question is : Will I be allowed to do it? The answer to the first question, as can be seen, is very much dependent on that to the second question. An affirmative answer to the second question means that not only should I be able to establish some rapport with people who might not actually encourage it, but also that I get sufficient learning from the courses at IIMK to at least come to a level where I can also contribute, in some measure, to the discussion with these achievers. The academia in India has often been blamed for not providing just this. Whether IIMK features in the rule or the exception is something that I will take up in some later post where I want to discuss all the courses taught here and their significance to me and my purpose, both in terms of the effectiveness of the course content as well as the relative efficiency (relative to me, that is) of the faculty who have been associated with the courses.
I am still trying to look at a way to find the first part of the answer. I believe that I can do justice to my efforts to that end only when I have probably interacted some more with my batch mates and separated the chaff from the grain. I am not sure if I am even capable of doing this (am I a good judge of people???) but one thing is certain...I am definitely going to try and perceive the way an individual executes his idiosyncratic beliefs, especially in the hills of IIMK. Probably a blow by blow account of my perceptions on each of my batch mates' perspectives, expressed through entries of the blog, is one way of going about it. Whether I will take it up depends on a lot of things, even the very least of which is their feeling about being the guinea pigs for my experiment. As of now, I do not even know them all...some of them, not even by name. Perhaps it can be gradual...start recording my takes on them (through the blog or otherwise) one by one. I am sure that with 134 people in the batch, I will be able to know each one before I write about him, even if I take only one day to write about one person.
There have been quite a few comments on this space on the net that I have made my blog, especially after I wrote the now-dead post on the student body elections. There have been people who say (and feel???) that I write well and there have been people who find the blog 'entertaining'. Some call it Baba TV (Baba is the nick that I have been blessed with, here at IIMK) with politics, movies, novels and other such masala in it while there are others who identify on a more psychographic level with what I write.
Surabhi wants to know what she needs to do to get her name into my blog (hey, Surabhi, you got it, I want a treat :-))...Aditya wants me to write something interesting before midnight and warns me that it better be good...Yash says that I need to write soon as things have been dead in IIMK for too long...Akshat wants me to write about things that are not right in the campus...Swapna wants her dose of entertainment that will help her pass the time...
What do I want to do? I just want to write...whatever comes to my mind...my thoughts and feelings...but all aimed at a particular objective...to learn...to adapt and adopt...to evolve...
AIMS, the Annual IT Management Seminar of IIMK, starts tomorrow. With the bigwigs of the Indian IT Corporate world making an appearance, the sessions promise to be interesting. Having been with Infosys for two years, I might even be able to relate to a seminar for a change. Let's see...
Posted at 11:18 pm by Nitai
Thursday, August 26, 2004
I am hap...hap...happy...
The mystery is solved, finally. I know who has been reading my blog from the faculty building. I just hope that Dr. Sarkar realises that whatever I do write about him or any body else from the faculty or student community is just my personal opinion and that again, more than being judgemental, is actually perceptive (you know, writing the report for OB has taught me the difference between the two :-))
Well, as the topic mentions, I am happy and more than that, satisfied with the way things have been shaping up. Priya (my little sis) is settled and happy at her institute and is considering a distance MBA from IMT Ghaziabad to supplement her course in footwear design and management. By the time both of us pass out, despite the one and a half year difference between us (me being the big bro), here is a brief comparison of what I will possess in terms of education and what she has laid her hands on. As for me, I am just a B.Tech and hopefully will be a PGDM holder in the coming years (not too many years, though, I hope). When it comes to her, I will have to leave the commas and go to the list format. Priya is a
Natya Visharad....or something (basically a graduate in Kathak)
Sangeet Visharad...or that same thing above
PGDFDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Footwear Design and Management) holder
PGDBM (Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management) holder
Hey kiddo, if you ever read this, I just want to say that I am really proud of you and your rakhi and card have made my day and I feel myself at the top of the world again...lest it skips your mind, just don't forget to return my walkman, music CDs, and all other things that you have stolen...robbed off me :-)
I got another letter...this one from my mother...a letter written in real ink on real paper...after about six-seven years. With phone conversations almost every other night, there was hardly any occassion for her to write me one. It is because of this reason and many more, Maa, that this letter has been truly special for me.
As if the things above were not enough to enthuse a guy enough, I found out that I have done decently in my mid terms, too....ok ok, before some of my batchmates kill me...a little more than decently in the mid terms. Let's see what I have got in three out of the six papers for which we had examinations...33 out of 40 in accounts...41 out of 50 in Quants...94 out of 100 in Microeconomics...and I must say that I couldn't have expected better. As far as the other three subjects are concerned, I have absolutely no idea about where I stand. Given the subjective nature of the papers, perhaps I would prefer the status quo
When I wrote my previous post, I missed out on a major aspect of what happened at IIMK over the past weekend. It was the foundation day programme presided over by none other than Mr Subeer Raha, the CEO of ONGC, one of the largest companies of India, and even the world. Mr. Raha, in his foundation address, spoke about the challenges being faced by India as a nation. He put them at ten major or macro factors which could be broken into thousands of micro factors and an equal number of opportunities for people from institutes like IIMK to prove their worth and give back to the society and the tax payer who have given them so much in the first place. Well, what he did speak was quite relevant to the present situation but there were many in the crowd who had different expectations from the CEO of such a big company and were a tad disappointed when the speech veered off to what has been discussed above. However, what he spoke did make such a lot of sense, if we do apply the philosophy for which IIMK has always stood.
For the past few days, there have been occassions and happenings that have posed a few concerns with the student body and administration. The student council had a tough job to do...they not only had to make sure that nothing of the sort happens again and be forceful about it, but at the same time, they had to be democratic and not force the things that are going to happen in the future. They had to involve the junta in a decision that may not be liked at all and though I have never been inside a lion's den myself when the lion is hungry and lonely and the lioness has been AWOL...but I can feel your predicament somewhat...
Anupam, Atul, Mustu and Rohit...you guys did an amazing job. The presentation yesterday was as well-coordinated as it could be and the way you guys handled the entire stuff was absolutely fantastic. With such people as you and the immensely dedicated Place Com working towards the casue, I am sure that each one of us feels his fate secure in your hands. You people have a great responsibility...of not just making us and the IIMK name click and shine but more importantly, to keep the fabric and spirit of our batch together for the two years here and many more to come. Believe me when I say that the way you rose up to the responsibility yesterday has contributed immensely in making one individual feel happy about himself...if that is of any use to you.
Posted at 02:16 pm by Nitai
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
If you read all this...you deserve...
Life at IIMK has been unusually alive for the past few days and contrary to my nature, I have not been writing anything. I had started this blog as a line of thoughts that are anything but random. All thoughts and feelings that I have been sharing with my blog are very closely related to what has been happening around me. It has been, at times, something as trivial as a movie I watched or a book I read, as serious as personal worries and concerns, as sensational as the student body elections, and as bland as the mid term examinations. Staying with people who are going to be a part of my career and life, directly or indirectly, I needed to know how I react to them and whether that reaction needs to be streamlined or changed. My blog has certainly helped me figure out the way people react to situations and the way I react to them (people and the situations, that is).
Any sort of introspection, in fact, is certain to give you the other perspective, which has been the title of this blog right from the word go. Fortunately or unfortunately, the blog is now being read by my batchmates and what has followed was what had kept me from writing a blog for so long. When I had, in one of my posts, come out of my dilemma by deciding to name all people in my posts as they were and not give indirect references, the blog's readership was quite limited. It was, thus, that the readers I had warned in advance to not treat my posts too seriously, did start doing exactly that and before I knew it, I was on the receiving end of hushed jokes and cry-baby remarks. It turned out that the non-conformist (as Somas likes to call it) tendencies that were already present in abundant measure in me, got a further boost in this case. Whether I like it or not, I now have the reputation of ruffling feathers that have been silent for some time and any untoward action/reaction by any one in the batch is measured in terms of what I did at a point in time.
To say that I am totally unaffected by what has been happening would not be true. I am human and humans are social beings. However, thanks to the people who know me for what I am, the situation is not bad...in fact, life is on a roll @ backwaters (as Yash would say) and there have been some new friends I really cherish being with. At the same time, it will not hurt if I get along well with everyone. With the kind of people around this place, it is my loss if I do not get to know them better. Almost everyone has something to give...almost everyone has been an achiever and there is so much to learn from each one of my batchmates.
Okay, going back to do what I do relatively better, I need to focus on what has been happening in my life for the past few days for which this blog has not seen any entry. Since there has been so much happening, this post is going to be a long one...probably my longest to date...
IBM gets its act together
Yes, I am writing this post from my lappie. Having decided earlier to get one from the US through one of my friends but that not materialising, I had no choice but to wait for the bulk deals on campus. However, I was not prepared for the kind of deal that we finally struck with IBM. A lot of credit goes to Raul (great job, dude) for getting such a good configuration for almost a pittance. For all those who think that I am talking nonsense will get the gist after I have given them a brief idea of the features that this model has and the price that we have paid for the same.
The lappie is an IBM R51 model, built on Centrino technology, with a 256MB RAM, a 30 GB HDD, a 1.5 GHz Pentium-M processor, and above all, the IBM performance, features, and guarantee...and will you believe it, all this for just 62K. I just need my speakers (which, I am sure, will be in by tomorrow) and then, I will be done. It is really difficult to manage with the laptop speakers, especially if I have to watch movies (which I have been having to, much more than I should).
Indi-Paki bhai -.....
Why I didn't complete the above slogan will be obvious if you look a little more carefully at the picture above and despite the not-too-great quality, figure out for yourself that there was hardly any scope for completing the slogan in its original (or even modified, for that matter) form, at least as far as the delegation from LUMS is concerned. But I think that I am jumping the gun...first things first, there has been a delegation from LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) visiting India over the past few weeks. This delegation, comprising of a faculty member and five students (four girls and a guy), was at IIMK over the weekend, as a part of their visit, during which they were invited to places like IIMB, IIMA, Narsi Monjee, SP Jain and others.
As was apparent from what they said repeatedly during the extensive interaction that they had with the students here, these people did not expect India to be what it turned out to be. In their own words, they were taken aback by the hospitality that has been shown to them here. I am pretty sure that even if a delegation was to go to Lahore from here, it will get an equal, if not greater, welcome. Even at the risk of sounding righteous, I will like to point out that this just goes on to show how the relations between the neighbours is being spoilt by the selfish interests of a score of politicians and decision-makers...shame on them for being so selfish...and shame on us for being such cowards as to not challenge them openly and take things in our hands and improve them.
On a more personal front, I thought that the visit got its purpose somewhat diluted, with the number of girl students in the delegation, that resulted in increasing proportionately, the zealousness of the welcome party. Rajat from the senior batch and our own newly elected SCon members were literally falling over each other to be of 'help' to the guests.
All the same, it was great having them here at the IIMK campus and given the good things they had to say about the campus, everyone will be more than happy to have the honor of hosting another delegation from the neighbouring country (it would certainly help if the sex ratio improvement is consistently targeted at by the neighbours, as well).
Of the many good things that the Pakistani delegation did for IIMK (apart from getting us some good media footage and enthusing the IIMK guys...yeah, guys specifically...well apart from a few like Reddy who have been shouting from the rooftops regarding their preferences), one of the best turned out to be the Kathakali performance. This was the very first Kathakali performance many of us were watching and what a treat it turned out to be. I had been in the habit of not missing anything similar organised during college and with like minded people as company, it was always great going to watch the masters like Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Zakir Khan, to name but a few.
The language barrier ceases to exist when it comes to performing arts. Whether it be the music flowing out from Hindustani or Carnatic instruments, or the theatrics in the plays and dance dramas like Kathakali, what comes across is the talent, regardless of language, religion, and even beliefs. The evening's performance, based on an episode from the epic, Mahabharata, did not have much in terms of the story...it did help to have a readout on whatever there was, though. The story of Kiratham was about how Arjuna was worshipping Lord Shiva and how Lord Shiva, with his consort, Goddess Parvati, tested his disciple before giving him the boon.
As one can probably guess, more than the story, the presentation turned out to be effective. With an unusual beginning that perhaps did not convey the right impression, the performance only became better. The cries of pow have become a rage and the way the actors managed to grab the attention of what they called a sophisticated audience (personally, I believe that they were and are way too ahead of what we can ever hope to be) was absolutely amazing. The performances were all very good and adequately suited to their respective roles in the play. If Lord Shiva's character was suitably flippant and did all his leelas, Goddess Parvati was the quintessential Indian woman, helpless yet influencing, arbiter yet warmonger...Arjuna was the proud and vain warrior that he should have been, adjusting his paraphernalia even when he had finally bowed down before Lord Shiva.
Sona Chandi Martial Arts
Many people would have jeered at the advertisement of Sona Chandi chyawanprash featuring the Indian cricket captain, Sourav Ganguly, who is shown to indulge in sword fight with a different martial-art style. However, the other performance of the night would have put any such people to shame. Not that Sourav came here to show his swordsmanship, but what happened was even better. It was a breath taking display of the prowess of the practioners of one of the oldest martial arts form of the world, Kalaripayatu (pardon me for mis-spelling it, if I have done so). Clad in the traditinal black clothes and equipped with shining swords, spears, staffs and what not, these people from the heart of Kozhikode showed us and the Pakistanis the spirit of Kerala.
On hindsight, I believe that the Pakistanis would have been more impressed with the Kathakali performance, given the fact that Pathans are generally very fierce warriors and the martial arts performance could be related to many-a-feats of their people. However, I doubt if they had seen anything like the extensive imagery, the play to audience, the detailed make-up and building up of the story, that was displayed in the Kathakali performance.
Of carried away 'childish' outbursts
Nilanjan has been writing some very interesting blog entries recently. More than that, I have been blessed with some exquisite timing. Not to be confused with the timing of the Indian batsmen (which, incidentally, had been giving us a bad time with our Pakistani guests a much relieved lot), this timing relates to whether you read a blog entry before or after it has been edited. If you have done neither and like me, enter the blog just when the entry is being edited (seeing the full post on the main page but when you click on the comments, you get just a truncated post, killing all your ambitions of posting a cutting remark :-)), it is then that you are said to possess the timing that I am talking about.
So what is it that has caused all the gung-ho and for once, even threatened to topple me from my crown of the official batch gossip??? Nothing much really, as Nilanjan will like us to believe. It was just a party and if people decide to be in two parties at a time, who is Nilanjan or anybody else to stop them from doing that? (I don't intend the sarcasm for I really don't know who is right in this case). On one hand, it does appear rude if some people you have been having a nice time with at a party, leave the party all of a sudden, and later it turns out that they are at some other party.
On the other hand, the other aspect is well taken, too. Friendship is not exclusive and if someone is my friend, I do not have rights on his movements and behaviors. The other person has got his own individuality and the group theory is fast being disposed off and as Yash has commented in Somas's blog, non-conformists are in fashion. The long and short of it is that just because of a tiny little thing like a party, it doesn't deserve an outburst that is full of childish groupism theories (which, I am sure, Raul had a tough time reading about, in my blog).
Just wondering why I do not require the spiritual booster to write such things!!!
It was my day at Paragon
I have been having a bad time at restaurants in Calicut and to imagine that I had to come to this place after I had left everything that has the flesh and blood in it...it does boil the red liquid a bit. Moreover, if you order for soups with exotic names like Herbal Soup and descriptions that are mouth-watering, to say the least...and finally are left with Palak Daal, you know what you have been missing.
So it was quite some fun when we finally landed at a restaurant which not only had some decent tomato soup and some more than decent curries, but also turned out to be a nightmare for my more savage friends. Ravi, Vikhyat, Abhijit, Stephen, and Kanav had a hard time trying to digest the sweet and even bland fare served to them at Paragon. Surabhi and I had a field day laughing at them and for now, I have something to say when they raise that singularly embarassing topic of the Herbal soup yet again (which I am sure they will...the fiends).
Who has been reading my blog???
The hit counter at my blog helps me know, in a limited way, about who has been reading my blog. It tells me about the pages from which the site has been accessed and also the IP address of the computer/netwrok from which the blog has been accessed. Over the past few days, there have been visitors (or a single visitor, as is my guess) who have come to my blog from Google, after having searched for a particular faculty member at IIMK. Having reached my blog and having read something interesting (God! what all have I written in the blog), the visitor has even searched for other faculty members who have been teaching us...and this search is not in google...but in my own site. The other teeny weeny interesting factor is that the IP from which this visitor has been coming belongs to the IIMK proxy (oh, my luck!!!)
It may sound like conspiracy theory but it does look like some faculty member has been reading up on my blog. This makes my job of writing about my feelings all the more difficult because if I seriously do not like a teacher's teaching style, can I not even write something unflattering about the same? I would like to believe that the teachers at a professional institute like IIMK will be practitioners of professionalism themselves and will not take my comments in any negative sense (just don't let my grades be affected by my blog...please, God :-)). However, thinking again, can I even take the risk? I know I took the risk with my batch mates...decided to write what I felt...fully confident that they will have the maturity to take it in their stride and be able to identify the spirit with which things have been recorded...but what happened did put a few chinks in my faith. What is going to happen if in deed some faculty member is reading as I write all this and specifically, what will happen if I keep on writing and at some point, forget that there is that distinguished visitor who may check in on my blog yet again...
Finally...something that I have come here for...academics
It was a hectic weekend that just went past. We had four case studies in as many days and all for a single subject, marketing. Dr. Panda has sure stepped on the accelerator but I believe that it is not helping my productivity one bit. I am not sure how he would take this feedback or else I would certainly have tried telling him that I am not grasping all that he has been kindly sharing with his students.
The mid term results have started tinkering in. I am satisfied with what I have managed in accounts. I was expecting something in the 15-20 range out of 25 and I believe that Dr. Broca has been quite kind to us...I managed 18, which makes it a total of 33 out of 40 and I am sure, this is not bad. The other subjects' mid term results are due soon and with a lot of assignments, case studies, and project submissions due over the next two weeks, it is going to be a pressure cooker wroking out here on the hills of IIMK.
Posted at 09:45 pm by Nitai
Friday, August 20, 2004
Hi! I am Arjun
Itna sab kuch hone ke baad?
There are two things that do not exist in the dictionary of Arjun Khanna and they are defeat and love, in that order. Arjun lives in Mumbai with his parents...a mis-matched lot if you ask me, a still-ravishing Rati Agnihotri paired with a wonderful actor but ageing Om Puri. The character of Arjun is played by Vivek Oberoi almost as an extension of what he did in Masti and Yuva. Arjun loves fun and parties, but when it comes to girls, he rarely sees things beyond the normal dance-and-song routine and a few practical jokes.
Arjun meets his match in Diya who comes to Mumbai to appear for her examinations and stays at Arjun's parents' home, Arjun's father being a friend of Diya's father (played by Tinu Anand). Diya believes passionately in love and for her, a marriage without seeing, knowing your future partner is headed for the rocks. On the contrary, Arjun believes in arranged marriage and it is this clash of opinion that is supposed to have formed the basis for Kyun...Ho gaya na
There is hardly anything to the story before the intermission, apart from a few bowling alley scenes where Diya bowls Arjun over with her winning shot...some Formula racing scenes in the beginning for absolutely no reason...a decently shot scene of Arjun, masquerading as a cold drink vendor on the train, showing a film director how to enact a love scene by proposing to Diya, a stranger at the time...and finally Diya falling in love with Arjun and Arjun, as expected, making a mess of it by his tactlessness.
Even after the intermission, the only bright aspect that comes to the movie is the presence of the Big B. Playing the character of Uncle, he runs an orphanage in a different style. There has been a conscious effort by the debutante director, Samir Karnik to go out of the league, at least in this aspect. Uncle is not the goody goody Mr. India who cries at his children's plight and makes sure that their stay is as comfortable as possible. Instead, he treats them as equals and even indulges in silly fights of one-upmanship with them. He does not even think twice about asking the children to fan him while he takes an afternoon nap. Despite all this, Uncle is likeable because he does all this with style...that is Amitabh Bachchan for you.
After the acrimony between Arjun and Diya with which the first half ends, Arjun comes to Diya's home to try and woo her back. As soon as it started to look like Arjun, after a few games where he was pitted as the leader of the kids, working against Uncle, will be able to make amends, there comes Ishaan. Ishaan, played by Suniel Shetty, is a success story of the orphanage and he is one who does not easily forget his roots. Ishaan and Diya know each other for quite some time and as they cuddle up and even team against Arjun, jeolousy and finally despondency sets in as Arjun comes to know of Diya getting engaged to Ishaan.
The climax, which tries to build some suspense but fails miserably in doing so, shows how Arjun makes a last ditch effort to finally open his mouth and say the magic words to Diya and what happens henceforth.
As for the direction, the movie does have some well-executed scenes but tends to go overboard at times, especially during the pranks and games at the orphanage, which instead of gently tickling the viewer, try hard to generate a hearty laugh and finally fail to cough up even a faint smile. With the utter lack of screenplay and a coherent story, the movie fails to deliver despite trying a lot of tricks in the trade. All these tricks...romance...tragedy...comedy...jealousy...Diya-Arjun in Mumbai...Uncle-kids in orphanage...Arjun-Diya-Ishaan in orphanage do not hold the movie together. The only thing they do is to confuse the viewer as to the real intent and purpose of the movie. In fact, the movie goer might even raise doubts as to what the director wanted to focus the story at...
Vivek Oberoi, for one, is in for a bad review on this one. Though passable as long as he emotes with Aishwarya Rai in the same scene, all his frailities and over-the-board stuff come to the forefront when he is forced to share the frame with the B. I know that it may seem like I am biased towards Amitabh but let me assure you that he is the only cheerful aspect of the entire two and a half hours of half baked attempted entertainment. In fact, whenever Amitabh is on the screen, it seems as if you are viewing an advertisement and not a movie, his role is so differently played from the essential fiber of the movie. The other actors have minor roles and are adequate in the same. Suniel Shetty does a good job, probably because he does not have much job to do, anyways in the movie.
The high point of the movie for those who haven't yet had the privilege of watching it might be the expectation of some good on-screen chemistry between the lead pair (including the much-hyped smooch) and the anticipation of seeing the picturisation of some good songs (especially No...No and Aao Na). Smooch my foot...there is hardly any thing to speak about but yes, at least it is one step forward for the lady who wants to change from the erstwhile Ice Maiden tag to perhaps the Bond Girl image. The songs have been picturised quite nicely but somehow appear to be forced between the narrative with not much flow going in.
Over all, if you do not have anything to do and are absolutely gung-ho about Aishwarya (as I am), you can definitely go and watch the movie. Aish looks amazing as ever and in this movie, she even looks real...not the plastic doll that many believe her to be. The grace with which she walks and talks, the enchanting smile, the miscieveous eyes, the puckered lips, the amazing figure...I can write on and on and on about her...wisely said...A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Amitabh Bachchan fans (me again) can also make the movie for an absolutely effortless performance by the master. He is above such roles, is what I will say...were I not in this place and had I joined some media or film institute, I would definitely have made some movie that might do some justice to the legend and his abilities (yes, I do think highly of myself but that's the way it is).
As for those who are not Aish fans and are not too bent on watching AB baby either...
Itna sab kuch hone ke baad?
Posted at 02:18 pm by Nitai