Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Afghan-War and Power

Its been 96 months since the Afghan War began. The situation hasn't changed much since 2001. Osama Bin Laden is still at large. Afghanistan's situation -as a country- has pathetically deteriorated. Its become more of a ruin. And the best part: the objective behind destroying this land was to destroy certain extremist groups that had been blossoming in it. Far from the goal, even after 8 years of war, these groups are more than surviving. They run on the principle of "In this world there's enough poverty and frustration and anger and passion. There will never be a shortage of martyrs"

As the CIA boss Edward Hoffman (Russell Crowe) very rightly suggests in the Body of Lies, "It is a fallacy that prolonged war will weaken an occupied enemy. It most likely will make your enemy stronger". Nothing better can describe the situation in the middle-eastern war-torn countries. 

Not only America, but all the NATO allies are in such a position where their accelerator is on full throttle, their brakes don't work, and deceleration is not possible cause the enemies of the world -the terrorists- are advancing from the opposite side, are in full throttle too, they don't have the concept of brakes (only acceleration and death), and are ready to Die. A complete catch-22. 

It is not even possible for the NATO allies to Rio-hedge themselves. For if they lift their hands off the enemy  for even a second, the enemy will hit back so hard as to rock the entire world apart. 
So how do we, as peace-lovers, come out of this bizarre unavoidable quagmire? If I knew the answer, well, President Barack Obama would have me on his cabinet. 
There is not point fussing over why back-stabbing cultured politicians initiated such mass-destruction only to catch one Bin Laden (who still hasn't been caught). Even if Mr. Osama would have been executed, someone else would have been passed the baton. And it is a lesser known truth, that the Taliban was the brain-child of the US so as to counter Russian invasion of Afghanistan. So, fundamentally, our policies have been faulty right from the beginning. We are facing the 'tat' of the tit-for-tat principle.

Jumping on to another paradigm, what is the root cause of all this troublesome unrest? Religion? The very fact that 98% of all religions preach the same principles... and us wanting to kill each other on the pretext of the remaining 2% is not digestible. All this turmoil might be blamed on religious differences... but the fact of the matter is that, doesn't it all boil down to the expanse in our population? Separatism exists because it is impossible for all the 6billion+ of us to be under one roof. With the millions of factions existing within our human race, there is a tussle for supreme power. The mantle of which, is now held by America. Everyone wants to be the supreme force. Be it Russia, China, Iran, India or the Jihadis. This had been a constant throughout history. First, it was-mythologically- the  Indians, then the Romans and Greeks, then the English, and now the Americans.

As Sun Tzu remarks in his The Art of War... To win without fighting is best. Only if Former President George Bush had considered his advice... Which is what I like about President Obama's peace-keeping strategy. He is letting the world know, that America wants to make friends. America is a peace-loving nation. He wants to diametrically change the faulty policies which are at the moment, being unsuccessfully implemented. 

What is done is done. What will result from our past deeds, will happen. However, to avoid future unrest... the population levels have to be curbed. With so many people on the planet (so many people, which nature cannot cater to), and resources becoming scarce by the hour... we're looking at a very dark future. Already, there are predictions saying that due to the shortage of drinking water, we will have to face the wrath of a World War III

In every way, I respect America as much as I love my own country. They have held the mantle of success and power for the whole century (which is very credible, considering the population burst ever since the 1930s.)
But I haven't any answer of my own to the resolve the clash between the Westerners and the infidel-loathers, and since every other country looks at only fruitful results for itself, therefore nurturing vested interests, there is no solutions that can be formed where the entire world unites against terrorism.

If the forces are pulled out of the troubled regions, there will be terroristic havoc across the planet. And the aggression continues, more troops will lose their lives. Tax-payer money in the billions would be wasted, which could have been used for greater causes such as population-control drives, or battling the menaces of poverty and so on...

RIP all those who've sacrificed their blood during the last 8 years. RIP all those who've lost their lives due to the extremist-aggression. 
We'll need a real stroke of brilliance, a one-in-a-trillion coupe to be pulled off by the NATO policy-makers to come out of this mess. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Success is 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration!!

As far as I can see from my own experience and other’s experience too- this saying is true. We may be inspired to do something, but the success of it only comes with great effort and determination.

As a badminton-playing country, winning the Thomas Cup is the ultimate achievement and all players are inspired by this. It is easy to imagine winning the Cup, but the actual winning of it is very much more difficult. For twenty five years since 1967, our players had tried and tried to win it without any success. Then by sheer determination and plenty of perspiration, they won it in 1992. This magnificent achievement only came after working so hard and coming second best plenty of times.

I have been inspired by others who have done well in examinations. It is very easy to admire someone who gets four 100s in the first exam of ninth-when practically everyone else came down. When I asked her how she managed it- she merely shrugged- but I knew how much work had gone into her success. So I know- IF AND ONLY IF I harbour any hope of emulating her success, I will have to go through the grind of studying hard. Again it is clear that success comes not only from inspiration. It may come if I am prepared to work for it. But then again- there is no guarantee that it will. :P

I have again been inspired by my co-blogger Anand Gupta. Let’s just say he’s not like the girl I mentioned above- but you can’t help being inspired by him! He does almost everything- taking part in movie-ideas, doing all that NGO work, and a LOT of other things- This fellow has it going! And now- since I’m mentioning him- he can’t really say he doesn’t work hard for this. :P

Man has always been fascinated by the birds and other creatures that can fly. He is inspired by these creatures to take to the skies as well. Many, including Leonardo Da Vinci, dreamt of flying and flying machines. However, inspiration was not enough. No one succeeded till the Wright brothers came on the scene.

The brothers were credited to be the first to fly in an aeroplane. They were inspired by these people who attempted flight before them. At first even they failed. But they persisted and eventually- reached their goal. This success was the culmination of inspiration and perspiration!

It must have been pretty frustrating for those who didn’t fly in the end- now that I think about it. Not EVERYONE can succeed-no doubt-no matter how much they try. There is another thing about success I realise. Then perhaps I may be tempted to say- SUCCESS IS 1% INSPIRATION, 98.5% PERSPIRATION AND 0.5% LUCK!!

Hence I would say- try try till you succeed- because there is no happiness like SUCCESS!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marital Bliss!!

One day I just woke up like I was in a stupor,
Realised I was much bigger than the previous day I’d been,
Mum ran in all frenzied & yelled in a voice that was super-
“GIRL YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED! & you’re the greatest mess I’ve seen!”

I started and protested but I wasn’t to be heard,
It was pre-planned and I had agreed; mum yelled in pain,
“BUT I’M JUST SEVENTEEN! I said in a voice hurt and slurred,
“Nonsense woman!” said my mother, “Being twenty-seven isn’t a shame!”

“WHAT!”, thought I as unceremoniously on the bed I flopped,
“honestly the world is conspiring against me! It’s all a plot!”
But then again I realised, this plot had no ending, no aim,
How I had managed to be 27 intrigued me just the same!

I decided to go with the flow & a little acceptingly-
I tried to check out who my bridegroom was to be,
I gasped with horror & hid my shock as I saw the photograph,
All in all- a stout little man with a portly moustache!

The wedding was to happen on the very same day,
I waited with my parents for the “baraat” in dismay,
All my mind was thinking of was how to sort this out,
& when the in-laws finally arrived- I began to shout-

“You useless folk who’ve come to accept me as their own,
Try & be sensible for a change & to brainwaves be prone,
Child marriage is forbidden here you gormless ignoramii!
I don’t care who I kill right now- such is my temper high!”

They laughed as if I had cracked a fairly decent joke,
(I must say at this point- I could turn cannibal & their privates poke)
I began thinking of other ways they could probably see-
That I was not the 27-year bride they thought I was to be!

I got my laptop & opened my facebook account frantically,
I knew there had to be SOME eveidence there about me,
I pointed at my profile pic- & yelled “AHA! Now you know!”
My hubby-to-be pointed at the date-“wow you were pretty different 10 years ago!”

Frustrated I ran to my room & retrieved hockey-stick and ball,
I saw to my satisfaction- everyone was appalled,
I dribbled the ball & said “I’m sure a 27-year old will not do this!”
“sure you can!” said my fiance, “I fell in love with you for this!”

Now I have been divorced nearly 4 times in a row,
& three kids have I produced (how I just don’t know…)
& still I ponder on that little unsolved mystery,
Of how I slept for 10 years of my life’s history!

PIL against Maharashtra State Government

An effort worth lauding. Where Vishal Dadlani, a noted Bollywood musician, has come up with a Public Interest Litigation for stalling the apparent 'Statue of Liberty' sized Shivaji Maharaj statue project in the Arabian Sea. 

PIL Against the Statue in the Ocean

To the Chief Justice,
Hon. High Court of Mumbai,

First, we'd like to say that we mean no disrespect to the memory of
Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who was a truly great and able King.
Having said that, we feel that the proposed statue/memorial to be
built in the image of this great and able King, estimated to cost
Rs.350 crores, is an unnecessary expense for the exchequer of the
Government of Maharashtra.

As we all know, there has been a vastly insufficient monsoon, and on
date, if we're not mistaken, 27 districts in Maharashtra have been, or
will soon be declared drought-hit. Starving Maharashtrian farmers,
committing suicide has already been a matter of grave concern for the
Government of the state. Surely, these funds could be better utilised
saving some of these lives and livelihoods.

We also have, within Mumbai itself, a vast number of infrastructural
difficulties, that need huge investments to be sorted out. The rapidly
declining availability of potable water and usable power is a huge
problem, for example.
The roads in our financial capital are a national disgrace. We could
fix some of them.
We could certainly do with more schools/colleges, providing education
to the underprivileged at no cost. These could all be named in memory
of Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Another possible avenue for the use of surplus funds would be to
strengthen and better equip our Police Force and Coast Guard. In light
of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai last year, it is crucial to
strengthen these arms of Government, as our security and our lives
depend on them.

We have all studied the history of this great state. We are all
Mumbaikars and Maharashtrians, and the state would possibly not exist
in it's current form without the far-reaching and visionary
administrative abilities of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Since the proposed
statue/memorial is in the name of a ruler famous for this
administrative ability, we owe it to his memory to ask if he himself
would approve of such wasteful expediture in a drought year,
especially when the city's defences are not at full strength?

We'd also like to point out that in light of a track record of
consistent cost over-runs and delays leading to price escalations in
major construction projects undertaken by the Government, it is
unlikely that the amount to be spent towards such a project will
actually be limited to just Rs.350 Crores.

We, as concerned citizens of India and Maharashtra, and as Bombayites,
Mumbaikars, Bambaiwallahs, pray that such a monument be disallowed,
and the funds used for the benefit of the public, by taxing whom these
funds have been generated.

We also pray that, if after addressing
citizens-welfare/development/infrastructure issues, Maharashtra
actually has such surplus funding, it be handed to a committee of
eminent citizens who have by past action proved their concern for and
commitment to the greater good of the citizens of Mumbai. These
members may be selected at the discretion of the Hon. Court or by a
popular poll, as the Hon. Court sees fit.

Thanking you,
Yours Sincerely,
Vishal M. Dadlani, and the undersigned.

Please visit the website - - and sign the petition.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Once again I embark upon an amusing recollection from my Mary’s days. (I sound pretty old talking like this… :O) Any which way- 13 years in an all-girls school!! Must have been tough huh? Well truthfully speaking-ot quite.

As I thought about Mary’s this time- I remembered a very amusing fact. Though our school looked “almightily” proud and arrogant and united on the surface- we were well divided underneath. I mean every school has their stomachful of groupism- but in Mary’s- we actually had social distinction! I hence began to think of on what basis we were divided.

At the top rung of the “social ladder” if my memory doesn’t fail me- were three big groups. One which I can refer to as the “TEN A” group- consisting of Ridhi Vaid, Mrinalini Shinde, Antara Jha, Sayee Avhad-just to name a few. The second- a rather well known infamous little group I daresay- the LG (Lip Gloss) a horrid nickname given to the girls who were absolutely POSSESSED by the fact they have to look good even if there are no boys around to show off in front of [NO OFFENSE MAN-I just think there was no point. :P] The third- was the “TEN B” group consisting of Alisha Thadaney, Shweata Sharma, and the likes. Anyone who wasn’t part of these groups- was not “scorned” actually- but pretty much a nobody. Then there were the normal- Nerds, Part-of-the-walls… well- you know what I mean.

I was a part of a rather STRANGE group which fitted nowhere. We were the type who-on book-borrowing day of the week- would be the first in the library during lunch to make sure we get the good books first. Hence people would call us NERDS- but we weren’t- because the books we read were mainly fiction. Then- we were the ones who took part in each and every competition that happened- be it debates, extempores, dances, singing, one act plays, story writing, the list is endless. Hence we could be termed as the Bootlickers. But then again- we weren’t. There was ALSO one time in the 10th when- before one of the million exams we had- our esteemed peincipal called upon Tista (a friend in my group) and me to come on stage because we had OUR BOOKS IN OUR HAND [a dumb reason to start with….] And on being asked why it was so- Tista and I had laughed in her face and gone “THEY DIDN’T FIT IN OUR BAGS!!!” So nope- bootlickers didn’t fit either. Tista Tara and I were also in the hockey team- nope not nerdy man! But yet- I could tell we were looked down upon by groups 2 and 3 (group 1 being friends with us…) You know the general- they have glasses- they laugh at CLEVER things- they don’t talk to us- They think they’re too great- they think reading a couple of books makes them smarter than us- they think looking good ain’t important…bla di bla!! We didn’t pay much heed to them anyway.

This one’s to all the kids suffering because of this dumb issue- take a chill pill- there is someone like YOU out there- who has glasses, loves reading and doesn’t need the mirror quite so often! Find them and befriend them!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Self-made Millionaires at 18. No kidding!

I recently read a really mind-rattling article on self-made teenager millionaires! Really! And there are cases, where kids have retired before graduating from high-school!

Here is my little thesis about these brave-heart mavericks who did something different, something different than the rest.

A pattern I observed while reading the article: Out of a list of 25 teenage entrepreneurs, 23 of them made their fortunes off the internet. The two-steps on the ladder common to all of them; can seem as simple as they sound.
(1) Coming up with their own websites & (2)getting high-volume traffic.
The first bit is the easier job. However, effective marketing, PR prowess and quality material make up for getting the high-volume traffic. These kids - can we call them Kids? - have shown extreme levels of intellect and talent, combined, by mastering the marketing aspects of business.

High viewership is directly proportional to the advertising revenues generated. Mind you, the Indian Premier League runs on this very blue-print. Its average viewership per game is 5million people. And thanks to even this tiny a fraction of the World's population, the IPL is Rs 10,000 Crore business!

So getting back to our topic of discussion. Honestly, when I read the article, I did feel a little jealous (what to do? Human nature, right?) of these Warren Buffetts and Bill Gates' in the making. But at the same time my positive genes showed up too, and I couldn't stop appreciating these people nor could I stop feeling inspired by them.

On this little note, I'll leave you with the Sound of your Thoughts... the trick is, recognizing the inspirational ones, working on them, and doing what is different from the rest - further becoming an inspiration to others.

PS. For all of you'll wondering about the article I have been rambling about all this while, here is the link:
Top 25 self-made Teenager Millionaires

PS-2. I was most impressed by the last person on the list, Sean Belnick. Who did something even further different from the trend.. yes, he started a website too, but made money by e-dealing in office furniture. Unlike the rest - mind you, brilliant people all of them - who used the text-book formula provided by Google, the Google AdSense and made their millions.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Stock Picks - October 2009

Alright then. Seems like the bulls are back on the Index. No more of the Doji Patterns. Although I feel a little skeptical, am bullish on mid-term growth.
Here are my picks for the month of October.
First of the pack:

Banking Stocks:
  • Allahabad bank - Is trading in the 110-120 levels. Decent P/E ratio @6. Strong earning data. 
  • Canara bank - Trading at 315 odd. As good a P/E ratio as Allahabad bank. But much stronger earning data @Rs 50/sh. 
  • Corporation bank -  Again, as good a P/E ratio as both Allahabad and Canara banks. Yet, the strongest earning data @Rs 60/sh. Best buy. 
  • Stocks like SBI, HDFC Bank, ICICI bank, have unreasonable P/E ratios which range in the 20's and the 30's. Remember- lower the P/E ratio, better the buy. Yes Bank, well.. I feel its had its run. Modest P/E ratio @19.. but earnings per share aren't really exceptional.
  • However, also take note.. The banking sector is a little risky at the moment - especially with the credit and bad-loans problems still hovering, its best stay away from banks with high risk portfolios.
Power Stocks:
  • Suzlon, Suzlon & Suzlon! Currently tradin in the 90's, this is one of the most lucrative buys. At the moment, its P/E ratio looms in the negative. Not a bad sign. Has undergone a rough phase with losses due to faulty turbine systems. But now that that issue is resolved, its got nowhere but to move up. Already 3times its 52-week low of Rs30/sh, this is my favorite pick. Why? The Copenhagen Climate Summit coming up in December is going to be one where the global political community will unite to save the Earth from the menaces of Global Warming. We could be looking at heavy investment in renewable resources of energy as key points of the climate change agenda. Which is why, a wind-energy co. like Suzlon would be the first ones to benefit. 
  • Lanco Infratech - Lets keep figures and valuations aside for this script. Lanco can't fail its investors, atleast until the next Lok Sabha general elections. Its chairman is a Congress MP. And statistics tell us that between 2004-2009, the wealth of politicians on an average grew by almost 600%. Anything else to say?
  • RelianceComm. - With a P/E ratio of 10, compared to competitors with P/E ratios in the 20s this stock simply is the best bet in an ever-growing sector. 10 - 15 million subscribers are added every month. Doesn't look like this sector will lose any steam in the near future.
Group B stocks/etc:
  • Redington India - With major mutual funds such as SBI and India Man MF picking up sizable stakes in the company, one can simply coattail. However, with decent earning per share valuations and P/E ratios, this isn't just a coattail pick.
  • VST Tillers & Tractors - With a strong leadership and management, and the diwali season coming, VST seems a great buy. This one has had a great management for over 17 years. Which is credible in itself.
  • I haven't really fallen in love with any realty stocks yet. But with Diwali coming up, we could see a boom in sales. You could consider realty stocks in that matter.
  • On paper, infrastructure stocks seem like anyone's delight. However with the delays that come along with any infra. project in India.. we could see a lot of volatility. Which sort of ruins the margin of safety. Again your pick here.
Lastly, Reliance Industries.. with the largest market cap at 3Lac Crores and the able leadership of Mukesh Ambani, is one of the safest buys. No matter the dispute with RNRL over the KG basin, this script won't fail. Pick up at levels between Rs2000 and Rs2100/sh.

With this, I wrap up stock-picks for the month of October. Will post results at the end of the month comparing the performances to the market index itself. 

Please be advised that any purchases done by you on the basis of the above recommendations will be solely at your discretion. The author shall not bear any consequences to losses/profits incurred. 

Sources: P/E ratios - Business Standard Section II. Rediff money. Bloomberg news.