Transitions; though inconvenient but keep us moving

18 Mar

Transitions; though inconvenient but keep us moving.

via Transitions; though inconvenient but keep us moving.

The London Olympics – 3 days to go

24 Jul

The London Olympics are just three days away. The Olympics have traditionally helped make city’s debut on the world map, however in London’s case it’s out to reinvent itself. After having lost its sweet spot as the one of the top economic centers of the world, hopes lay heavy on the Olympic games to bring back the lost glory.


Awesome Aerial Footage


South China Sea – A volcano waiting to erupt

24 Jul

–While doing my Macro Economic exam prep; I ended up getting deep into the South China Sea and its impact on its neighbors.  Some of the details below may be of zero value for the macro mid terms.


While India continues with its wait and watch strategy and non assertive dialogue w.r.t. China; Forty-five years of continuous tradition came to an abrupt end last week when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh closed without agreeing on a joint declaration. Here’s what to expect in the aftermath of political deadlock in the world’s most apolitical bloc.

Many believed that of all the possible outside arbitrators, it was ASEAN that combined the legitimacy and political will that would be necessary to impose a mutually acceptable settlement in the South China Sea dispute. This was after all the organization that had already produced a non-binding code of conduct for parties in the South China Sea back in 2002, a milestone that it was about to build on with the drafting of a new, binding version of the agreement. Yet all it took was a few low interest loans and some timely political recognition in the aftermath of the 1997 coup for China to eventually pry Cambodia from the ASEAN fold, and in doing so destroy the illusion of intra-ASEAN solidarity.

The reason why the South China Sea issue didn’t make it into the summit’s final statement is that Cambodia, acting on the behalf of Chinese interests, stubbornly refused to heed the demands of other ASEAN members and in its capacity as ASEAN Chair for 2012, eventually scuttled the final statement altogether. These events have cast the latest summit in Phnom Penh as a stunning failure, perhaps the largest in ASEAN’s history, and they will no doubt send ripples throughout the region.

First there’s the unresolved question of the South China Sea. The failure of Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines, and Malaysia to leverage ASEAN and temper Chinese activities in the South China Sea will open the door for Beijing to continue a belligerent diplomatic track. China has ramped up its war of words against the Philippines in the wake of the ASEAN conference, primarily through the CCP mouthpieces of the Global Times and People’s Daily, and a fleet of 30 fishing vessels has been dispatched to the Spratly Islands to send a message to Vietnam. This tenuous, crisis-like situation will persist until the Chinese leadership turns over later this year at the very earliest, as now is not the time for any Chinese politicians to appear weak on core issues of national security.

This begs the question of how the diminutive members of ASEAN are going to pursue their sovereignty claims against China in the future. To do so bilaterally would be akin to a mouse playing hardball with a cat, and it seems quite clear that ASEAN will have no say in the matter, at least until Brunei takes over in 2013. Many of these countries will be left with no choice but to turn towards the United States, which itself is midway through a ‘pivot’ towards Asia.

ASEAN’s public display of impotence is critically important because it suggests a paradigm shift in regional security perceptions. Though born of the Cold War’s political crusading, ASEAN has come to be seen as a model international grouping. Its apolitical nature has allowed for broad consensus on a wide variety of issues in the past, an impressive feat given the diverse group of states that make up ASEAN’s membership. But perhaps most importantly, the bloc has come into its own as a local product that is completely divorced from the Cold War system of alliances; a system where all roads led to the West. ASEAN taking the lead on the South China Sea dispute was supposed to stand as an example that Asian security challenges can be resolved by regional actors without the meddling of outside powers. It thus stands as slightly ironic that the state that manufactured this failure is the very one that has the most to lose from emphasizing the importance of the United States in matters of Asian security. Perhaps in this we see the triumph of Chinese domestic politics over its long-term security considerations.

Thus, the biggest legacy of the failure in Phnom Penh will be a swift return into the hearts of statesmen throughout Southeast Asia of the fear of having to negotiate with a rising China on a bilateral basis; the very fear that modern ASEAN was predicated on alleviating. In order to escape their compromised position, member states will be hedging their bets by warming up to Washington, much in the same way that Vietnam has been in the past decade. The Philippines will also have to make some difficult choices as its planning shifts towards how to balance against Chinese military power. Manila’s conclusions might very well include a provision for the reestablishment of a US military base in Subic Bay.

One of the most powerful of Asian economies – India, continues to be silent and sometimes release a statement through a low ranked diplomat. India needs to get assertive about its interest and gain support from Japan and US.

The ASEAN Political-Security Community may be another casualty of this latest summit. This is a platform of greater political integration that was supposed to be adopted in 2015. The Political-Security Community would have codified the importance of democratic values and norms as well as established a system of shared security mechanisms. But now ASEAN’s future doesn’t seem so certain, as it’s hard to sustain the illusion of a shared community when member states can so easily be lured away from the flock.

It is also worth noting that the Japanese government could take advantage of the current free-for-all in the South China Sea to push its own claim on the Diaoyu Islands. There are already indications that Tokyo is going ahead with a plan to nationalize the islands, a move that would provoke a fierce response from Beijing, perhaps even a dangerous one given the current political climate in China.

24 Jul

Great Lakes Institute of Management

This is in continuation to my previous post:

The Chabeel:


This was one of the most memorable days for me at the college. Being able to recreate and relive one’s culture far away from his roots is an unmatched feeling. To top it all, the compassion and the receptiveness with which the staff, the Sodexo folks and the general crowd at Great Lakes responded to the event was unbeatable. It has left a deep impression of mutual respect in my heart for people from different parts of the country. Whenever I interact with the culturally diverse crowd on campus, this is what I feel:

“Essentially, we are all the same. At the molecular levels, we differ, at the organism levels, we prosper”.

Read the full article on the Chabeel coverage here:



The Exam Week and a new discovery: The Syndicate Room!

These were 5 sleepless nights…

View original post 678 more words

24 Jul

Great Lakes Founders Day event

Great Lakes Institute of Management

It was yet another day at campus, but there was something really special about it….something which had brought all hands to work together, all minds to ponder on planning and execution and all preparations to make it gargantuan as it was so exceptional to all of us…yes it was; the Great Lakes Founders Day and an accolade to the Man behind the Show, our very own Uncle Bala (Dr. Bala V. Balachandran) to complete his platinum jubilee. It was his 75th birthday and indeed a big day for all of us as we would be enlightened with a lot more insights into his life and achievements and would get to know how the place where we are now came into being and its journey through excellence. This called for a grand celebration, so we were all game to “Make it Large”.

 We were all excited and in high spirits…

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The curious case of Shajjad Ahmad (Sohel Golwalla FT13373)

19 May

The curious case of Shajjad Ahmad (Sohel Golwalla FT13373).

via The curious case of Shajjad Ahmad (Sohel Golwalla FT13373).

Bashing anna and his supporters

13 Oct

Last nights big news – “prashant bhushan roughed up by members of a previously unknown group called sri ram sene”

Todays headlines “sri ram sene supporters protest against detaining their members and beat up anna’s supporters in anger”

Previously Digvijaya singh – claims RSS was a force multiplier behind anna’s anti-corruption campaign by showing a letter written by RSS chief mohan bhagwat expressing support to anna’s campaign

Anna‘Forced to reply – “RSS letter would be true only if I would have replied to it”

Mean while congress spokeperson condemns attack on prashant bhushan claiming the perpetrator was a member of BJP’s youth wing

Connect the dots and what you see is a well thought out strategy by our very own politicians in power to attack anna’s campaign directly and create fear and confusion amongst the general people. Will prashant bhushan’s attacker get punished, even if he does get punished for how long is he going to be in jail? One month, three months; which is nothing compared to the crucial benefits and political mileage our gov gained.

Well done!! Game well played

Tea @ 5 am

10 Oct

Is searching for a good cup of tea too difficult @ 5 am in mumbai??

Not at all if you are aware of the hidden gems mumbai has to offer. Recently, after a busy Saturday night I needed a cup of tea before I crashed for the night. I made a couple of enquiries on whatsapp and was instantly directed to santacruz east. Turn right under the flyover on western expressway towards santacruz railway station and u’ll see a place selling bhurji/pav bhaji and a small tapri giving tea for 5 rs @ 5 am 🙂  superb tea though!!

PS: I cudnt take any photo’s as my battery died 😦 damn you battery sucking android

college fees are no longer affordable

23 Feb

Despite the outcry over high college costs, tuition rates are still going up. There are plenty of schools like IIM, SP Jain, Fudan, HKUST, Princeton, Brown, Stanford and George, for example, all announced increases in the last year. Although there costs were already very high for an average citizen, raising tuition cost seems to be an annual or a regular phenomenon and not a need based program. I agree that inflation and input cost are going up at an unprecedented rate, but tuition cost have crossed beyond the average household savings.

Recently I came across a small post on the internet which read that a college in Tennessee USA, called University of the South which is better known as Sewannee will be reducing the cost to attend school by nearly 10%. Soon I was all over the internet to get a detailed analysis of what Sewannee had to offer and why it has decided to cut costs even though it was also facing higher input costs and could have gone the easy route of passing the costs to the students.

Many questions came to my mind – Is Sewannee attempting a marketing gimmick and advertising itself to students/parents by reducing tuition cost and silently increasing indirect costs? Is the quality of programs going to take a hit? Are they reducing high input cost programs and increasing class size to the lower input cost programs?

Before I can answer these questions, let’s have a closer look at how high tuition fees affects the society at large – The cost of education must include all costs and how they are financed. Students and families are almost always borrowing money (often not from friends/family and unsecure sources), so as the student goes through college the cost of tuition inadvertently increases with interest to substantially higher amount than the original principle. Even families who use their credit lines for cost are paying more than the original price. This cost of borrowing affects how a family spends which results in cut –downs and lesser savings. Now assuming that the student gets a good paying job after the college program, everything would become hunky dory soon (assuming the student pays back the borrowed money to their family from his/her earnings). But – If the student is unable to find a good job or a job which would help pay off the debt, the cycle of debt starts to restrict and burdens the family further.

Let’s take an example – Say a student gets in at College A, which costs $40,000, and College B, which costs $20,000. College A gives the student $20,000 in “scholarships” (which are handed out like candy), and College B gives the student $5,000 in “scholarships.” Thus, attending College B will now cost $20,000, and attending college B will now cost $15,000.

The student will typically pick College A, even though they’ll be paying $5,000 more per year. Why? Because they got a 50% tuition scholarship, $20,000, and at a more expensive and therefore more prestigious school. The injustice of course is that unless your parents are well-educated themselves, a family is unlikely to realize that tuition sticker prices are just a game, and won’t even apply to either of these colleges, assuming them too expensive.

Coming back to Sewannee – Through my research I realized that Sewannee was an average sized college offering many specializations and grad degrees for both tech and business streams. Although its size and ratings fall below the Ivy League; it boosts of many high-profile and high paying jobs offered to its alumni. Though Sewannee claims its quality and focus on yielding best results for students will not go down, only time can tell whether this would actually be true.

In my opinion – this is not an example that other colleges might follow, as Sewanee’s needs to stay competitive in a heated market where costs of tuition is not only depended on professors – as their salary is definitely not the reason for the steep rise but other economic and social factors like better infrastructure, better athletic facilities, higher spending on marketing and advertising.

Thus, rising tuition cost is a reality of life, where borrowing/debt is not only justified but a real need.

Shanghai Salon Experience

20 Feb

I’ve been in Shanghai for almost two months now and I finally had to get a haircut, i was a little scared initially as I’ve seen chinese teenagers sporting extremely different or and shall I say in vogue hair styles which is very different from my simple and clean style. over the last couple of days i scanned around my locality for different salon’s and to my amazement. there were plenty of salon’s around ; almost one to two at each street. though I had been warned by my friends that some salon’s act as a front for the infamous massage industry, I managed to narrow down my search to one salon which was big, on the main road, brightly lit and played english music.

As i entered i was first greeted by two women who simply said Welcome – 欢迎 in a very high-pitched and excited tone. Instantly I was received by a very beautiful and elegant girl who asked me what I would like? I asked my chinese friend to tell her that I am here for a simple haircut or rather trim and shave; she scribbled on a page and took me to the reception where they printed out a work order and gave me one copy. then I was asked to remove my clothes, I was a little surprised as I dint understand why i needed to undress to get a haircut, quickly my chinese friend corrected the girl and told me she asked to take off my jacket so that I could be comfortable; Hearing this I realized it was going to be a wonderful experience as never before I had seen so much of professionalism and politeness at a salon.

Then I was given a hair wash by the same girl; it took ten minutes and then she escorted to a chair. My barber Jule arrived, dressed up in a crisp suit and though he was very young had his hair colored white 🙂  I asked him to give me a simple trim and soon he started working on my hair, he constantly kept asking me if everything was fine and whether I wanted something changed, I told him he was doing good and asked him to continue. I felt very good realizing how careful he was. After five minutes I was served orange juice by the same girl who initially took my work order. Jule and me started talking and I asked him if this place was very busy and if he had a lot of customer to attend- he informed that he has to work till 10pm everyday as customers keep coming after office hours and on weekends chinese women love getting their hair treated, he also added that chinese girls spent a lot of money on hair styling, color etc. Soon my hair cut was complete and was asked if I needed another hair wash, I refused as my hair was very dry from the first hair wash. I went to the reception to pay and to my amazement it turned out to be only 30 Yuan. I was very happy at the end of it all, as what I had thought was going to be a dreadful experience turned out to be a very pleasant and peaceful one. Kudos to the Shanghai salon industry!!