Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurucharan Das - A Review

I had actually been asking this question for more than year now, “Can one be a good person”, so when I came across this book “the difficulty of being good” and flipped across it’s preface, I came to know that the book’s on Mahabharata and it’s relevance in our day to day life. No wonder that I gave it a try.

The epic Mahabharata has an interesting claim, it boasts itself to be so extensive and comprehensive that it quotes itself by a phrase saying

“What is here is found elsewhere.
What is not here is nowhere.”

I certainly would love to test the credibility of that phrase but just as I was thinking that, one of the chapters sprung up with the practice of polyandry in India, which is the practice of having more than one husband. I have heard of the practice of polygamy, which is the practice of marrying more than one wife happening in a lot of places in India but I never knew that polyandry was practiced in the stretches of Himalayas. By the way, if you are asking the question “where is the presence of polyandry in Mahabharata?” then I should say that it was there in front of our eyes for the taking. The 5 Pandava brothers married Draupadi making it one of the most well known and visible practice of polyandry.

To add one more, what about the presence of Eunuch, a human who is neither man nor woman, then we go to the ninth day of Mahabharata, the day when the invincible Bhishma is slayed down by tricky means with twenty five arrows from Arjuna. Shikhandi, one amongst the Pandava troops, was born a female but later changed his sex to a male making him an Eunuch. Bhishma had long back taken an owe that he won’t kill a women or someone who had been a women and hence Shikhandi was made a tool to slay down Bhishma. One more instance to substantiate Mahabharata’s claim.

All through Mahabharata, the projected heroes have always been Arjuna, Karna or Bhishma but the real hero who has been an un-hero throughout is by far the second son of Pandavas, Yudhisthira, the only person who upholds Dharma till the very end. Except for that one half truth to Drona, his life has really been impeccable.

Right from the title to the very end of the book, Mr. Gurucharan Das always keeps emphasizing that Dharma is subtle and that there is no clear definition of right and wrong or good and bad but it goes without saying that the Dharma has failed more than just once. From the rigged game of dice with Shakuni, the stripping of Draupadi in front of all the kyshatriya kinsmen, the exile of Pandavas for 13 years and later denial of even 5 villages for the Pandavas, Dharma had failed to uphold itself miserably for the Pandavas. But hang on, even the Kauvravas had been let down by Dharma, all it’s Army heads, be it Bhishma, Drona, Karna or even Duryodhana had been killed by unfair means. When it was always projected that the Pandavas are the good side and the Kauvravas are the bad side, the mode of Pandavas victory in Mahabharata was always kept without much focus or attention.

Hence is it that the ends are more important than the means?

Finally, what does Mr. Das conclude by his euphemism that Dharma is subtle, just the simple fact that you can only be as good as your neighbour wants to be.

To conclude, I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it was definitely an eye opener as far as knowing the facts of Mahabharata is concerned. Analyzing the events of Mahabharata from different angles and perspectives and bringing out the different shades of the various characters in Mahabharata was certainly exhilarating. Like say, I never knew that Karna had such a strong sense of attraction towards Draupadi that he was not able to take the fact that she rejected Karna in her swayamvara for being a Charioteer’s son. Hence, keeping this incorrigible insult in the bottom of his heart and probably with a tinge of lust, it’s Karna who orders Draupadi to be stripped in front of all the kyshatriya kinsmen. This was indeed a very strong negative shade of Karna that I never knew.

However, on the other side of the coin, I should say that the attempt to connect the recent history to the events and characters of Mahabharata had too much of a subjective impulse to it. Like say comparing Sonia Gandhi to Bhishma was taking it too far away or comparing Satyam’s Ramalinga Raju to Dhritarashtra by saying that Raju could have done it for the love he had for his two sons was too far fetched.

On the whole, a good book to read and I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who would want to know about Mahabharata.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

3G: Boon or a Bane?

As the telecom heavyweights gear itself up for the 3G auction on the second week of Feb, licking their lips in anticipation for the 25 Mhz of spectrum, let me crisply put it across as to why 3G would emerge as a significant factor for all those telecom biggies.

The third generation technology or 3G as it’s widely known, gives one the high-speed access to voice and data technology, raising transmission speeds from 9.5K to 2Mbps. It also offers advancements on the 1G and 2G networks such as multimedia applications like video and broadband services.

Coming to growth, the wireless subscription has an overall growth of 9-10% quarter-on- quarter in FY09. With the growing penetration of 11.50% in the rural segment and 6.84% in the urban segment, telecom players look forward to capture the rural market. But, the increasing subscriber base in the rural areas is creating a lot of congestion in the 2G space leading to low quality of service (QoS) for urban subscribers, which is one of the critical reasons for the biggies to jump over and occupy the 3G space. Moreover, 3G is an absolute requisite to push high Average Revenue per User (ARPU) group to better class of service and free up the 2G service spectrum to tap a wider base of users at the lower end of the ARPU spectrum.

(Source: TRAI)

Not just that, as you can clearly see in the chart above, a declining trend in ARPU due to humungous increase in the number of low revenue subscribers and heavy competition from all the telecom players. This makes value added services (VAS) extremely critical for the telecom companies survival, since it would be the VAS that would help them increase the ARPU, once the industry reaches a matured stage from the current growing stage.

The response of 3G services can be compared with the countries already using 3G. The first few countries to implement this service were Japan and South Korea, where 3G now accounts for nearly 70% of the networks. The list adds on with Europe, North America and specifically companies in the United Kingdom and United States have implemented this service to a bulk of their subscribers. Such being the case, 3G could be a phenomenal success in India that boasts of a population that’s growing younger and as a result could be a shot in the arm for all those telecom biggies.

However, on the other side, there are major hurdles against the emergence of 3G.

* Supporting infrastructure will require major capital investment beyond the winning-bid investment, pretty much in line to be tagged a winner’s curse.

* Real returns will start after 3-5 years, which implies that there would be no short term profits for operators and they should be sustain effectively during that period.

* Huge gap in perception as foreign investors are allowed to invest 100% equity to acquire 3G license. On the contrary, the TRAI guidelines allow a maximum of 74% equity stake only.

* Delay in the Auction date, whether it is due to government policy or because of the delay in defense releasing the spectrum.

* Operators are just given 15 days timeline to pay the entire fees which is too less a time to arrange for such hefty amount. Where 25% of the bid amount will have to be paid within 5 days.

* The real usage of the spectrum by the players can not be started immediately. They will be able to use it only by September 2010.

Though the hurdles seem to be pretty tough to jump across, the telecom biggies with their financial muscle power and princely access to the rejuvenated capital markets, can see off the initial troublesome phase without much of a hitch.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vegam - A telefilim (trailer)

In an era where being in nuclear family is the in-thing, have u ever wondered what life would be like to live in a joint family. Just imagine a household, with members of 3 different generations sharing space, what would erupt is not just the difference in the value system but the difference in the way of life itself.

While a letter from a female colleague stating 'with love' prefix before her name maybe just a caring remark for the current generation Software Professional Sridhar, it happens to be an incorrigible stain on the family for his pious Grandfather Sunderesan.

While a causal bend to touch the feet is enough for Sridhar to show his respect, a complete 'horizontal-lying-on-the-floor' type traditional obeisance is the minimum requirement to receive the respect for his tradition driven Grandfather Sunderesan.

If Sridhar is quick to retort, his Grandfather is quicker in garnering enough support through his intense emotions.

In this kind of a scenario, the scope for mind-blowing arguments, perplexing interpretations and everlasting misunderstandings is just enormous, which is exactly what Vegam captures in its short one hour and 17 minutes of tele film.

Interested!!! .. Go ahead and ask for the full copy.

For viewership or sponsorhsip rights contact:
Mobile number: 9444380967
Mobile number: 9381031628
Landline: 044-24864733
Manoj Bharadwaj
Mobile number: 9920616810

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Overview of the market...

Well, i certainly don’t see a market leader and more than that the issue that concerns me the most is that govt’s fiscal deficit is raising too high for comfort. The fiscal deficit is about 6 to 7 % of GDP and the govt’s debt to GDP ratio is about 77%. Just flip across the history of different countries that had high debt to GDP ratio and you will find that those countries have eventually defaulted in their debt obligations. It happened to Argentina, France, Germany and many other countries that had high debt-GDP ratio.

• To make matters worse, govt. has raised the tax slab which would reduce its revenue from income tax

• The fiscal stimulus provided by the govt. is also of a very high order of about Rs. 1860 billion crore.

The result is that Govt. will run out of options, it will stop funding all the development projects which will have an adverse impact on the economy, it might start printing money to pay off the debt which result in a very high inflationary situation, all this combined with other interlinked factors could have a cascading effect on the economy.

>> On the other hand, there are a few positives as well, the govt is thinking of disinvesting its holdings in PSU’s, which could raise substantial amount of cash for the govt.

>> 3G spectrum allocation is another positive for the govt. which again would raise about 350 billion for the govt.

>> Fiscal stimulus packages might start to have a positive impact once the money permeates through the different sections of the economy.

Now, weighing the pros and cons, there still isn’t a definite direction for the market and the market is currently at 17,600 levels, about 84% of its all time high, which is a touch on the higher side for a market that’s on consolidation stage.

At present levels it would be prudent to invest for a short term in the range of 3 to 4 weeks.

Trade with strict stop losses as the markets at current scenario are more sensitive to negative news than positive news.

Happy Trading!!!