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Who was The Laughing Buddha

October 16, 2012 2 comments

Laughing buddha artEveryone must have seen the statue of “Laughing Buddha”. He is also called as the “Happy Man”. I have a few of these idols and some of these have been with me for a very long time. It never occurred to me to figure out the significance of the idol. I always thought it was Gautam Buddha and wondered why it was so different from the other serine images and idols of Gautam Buddha. Just the other day a friend posted a reference and I was compelled to do some reading and found out.

It was a pleasant shock to realize that Laughing Buddha is not a Gautam Buddha at all, but an eccentric Chinese Ch’an (Zen) monk who lived in china, Circa 907 AD during the Liang dynasty. He was a native of Fenghua, and his Buddhist name was Qieci literally meaning “Promise this“.

He is also referred to as Hotei or Pu-Tai and is best known as the “jolly Laughing Buddha”. In China, he is also known as the Loving or Friendly One. Hotei is a significant part of Buddhist and Shinto culture and is regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva who will be Maitreya (the Future Buddha). His large protruding stomach and jolly smile have given him the common designation “Laughing Buddha” and he is regarded as a true Zen master.

Like all legends of yester years Hotei has a great inspirational story. While I am not sure if this has any historical authenticity but it still is a very good read.

The legend says: The jolly saint would travel from place to place in search of wisdom and spread the zen philosophy.laughing buddha art Where ever he went he attracted curious eyes; he was a funny looking man with a big belly and an even bigger smile on his face. He would go to a town square and wait for people to gather, which was never a difficult thing for him.

Hotei would then distribute sweets and small toys to all children who had gathered around him. When the euphoria of gifts and presents died down, he would slowly keep his bag down, look to the sky and just start laughing. He would continue to laugh and not care if others joined him. Soon, his laughter would turn contagious and all who had gathered would begin to laugh. In some time the whole town would begin to laugh thanks to the mysterious monk. After sometime he would pick the bag, which he had kept down, smile to all, and go to the next town. It is said that he did the same thing in every town he visited. It was the only thing he did. It was his way of bringing enlightenment to people, hence his name the laughing Buddha.

The term buddha means “one who is awake”, connoting one who has awakened into enlightenment. Over the history of Buddhism, there have been several notable figures who would come to be remembered as, and referred to as, buddhas. Later followers of the Chan school would come to teach that all beings possess Buddha nature within them, and are already enlightened, but have yet to realize it. This teaching would continue into Zen. ……Wikipedia

The legend continues that he would rarely speak and one occasion when he was asked to describe why he does what he did, he said

Giving Sweets to Children:

 laughing buddha with kids sculptureIt symbolizes that more you give, more you get. He referred to it as the “Joy of Gifting”. The children represent the qualities that one is born with and the qualities that we should all cherish; living in present, cheerful, without ego, without prejudice and un-judgmental. I term it “return to innocence”; a blissful state of life where every day is a day of learning and something to look forward to.

The Bag:

The bag represented the burden of human existence. The problems that we love to accumulate. We live in a self-created illusion of difficult life. He illustrates it by pointing out, we are great at giving advice and solutions to deal with a difficult situation as long as the problem does not belong to us. But the same creativity is lost if it happens to be our own problem; we simply don’t seem to find any solution.

laughing buddha with a bundel sculptureDropping of the Bag:

The monk’s symbolic act of dropping the bag is part of a more significant Zen philosophy. It represents separation from burden, disassociation from your problem and looking at it from the eyes of an outsider and then attempting to solve the problem and getting on with life. It also represents the overall Zen and East Asian Philosophy of detachment of your soul from the limitations of your human senses and look at the reality with the objective eyes of your soul.

The laughter: hotei laughing buddha sculpture with hands up

It is an act of mocking the problem at hand and looking at the insignificance of it in the overall scheme of things. It is an act of acknowledging that life is a beautiful bouquet of roses but with prickly thorns. Problems are going to stay with us as long as we live, so why brood over it when good times just around the corner. It is also an act of prayer, thanking God for making your life beautiful and an act of acknowledging bigger problems of people around you. So stay happy and get yourself through the rough patch of life

Picking of the Bag:

In the final act of the monk, he picks up the bag to signify that the burden is always part of you, live with it rather than abandon it. Learn from it and use the knowledge to help other with the same problem and move on in life. It also signifies that if we are able to detach from the problem and look at it objectively the problem ceases to be heavy and suddenly becomes very manageable

The contagious laughter:

Finally the contagious laughter signifies that “being happy” philosophy is as contagious as laughter. It can also be interpreted as one cannot bring happiness in people around them just by being unhappy with his or her own life.

I am not sure if story is a true fact, or even less sure if Hotei ever said any of the above but like all legends it is a good story. It propagates living a happy life and emphasizes that being happy can make this world a better place. That message in itself is worth to think about. So stay happy folks!!

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Should I buy an Iphone 5?

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Apple has just released the Iphone 5 and that bring to an end the most awaited tech launch of the year. It also marks the end of a long wait for people who wanted to wait , compare and buy their next smart phone.

Unlike the previous launches, Iphone has been launched in a very competitive environment. There are at lest 3 other phones in the market which  would be looked at before the customer decides to splurge on their phone fetish.

But the question is should I buy an Iphone 5?

The Iphone 5, what is new

1. Thinner Lighter smarter….

7.6 mm in depth, weighing 112 grams, making it 18 per cent thinne

r and 20 per cent lighter than the iPhone 4S. Powered by Apple’s A6 chip, promising two times the processing and graphics performance of its predecessor

2. More screen

Complete redesign with 4-inch (diagnol) Retina display The taller screen delivers more content, an extra row of apps plus widescreen HD video, five days viewing on your calendar and more display space for web pages.

3. Better Pictures :

  • 8 megapixel camera with panorama feature. HD Video recording at 1080p; front-facing FaceTime HD camera is 720p

4. Better Audio

Improved audio and recording, including three microphones, bottom, front, and back and new noise canceling technology and new Apple EarPods, promising the kind of quality you’d expect in higher-end earphones.

5. Faster connectivity :

LTE-enabled (Long Term Evolution) meaning it will work on the new faster cellular networks that have been rolled out by Canada’s carriers in Vancouver and other centres and are the latest new standard for cellular communication

6. New connector

A new ‘Lightning’ connector that is smaller and promises to be “smarter and more durable” than its predecessor (Apple will have a Lightning-to-30-pin adaptor so you can use the new iPhone 5 with your old stereo systems and other docking devices.)

7. New OS

IOS 6 will power the new device, with more than 200 new features it is going to be all new and better.

How does iphone 5 compare with other phones?

Here is a small snap shot of how the new Iphone 5 compares with the completion that exists in the market. Happy smartphoning….

AppleIphone 5 Samsung Galaxy S III MotorolaDroid RAZR HD NokiaLumia 920
Screen Size 4 inches 4.8 inches 4.7 inches 4.5 inches
Resolution 1,136 x 640 1,280 x 720 1,280 x 720 1,280 x 768
Weight 3.9 oz 4.7 oz 5.1 oz 6.5 oz
CPU Dual-core Apple A6 Dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 (in the U.S.) Dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4
Storage 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, no card slot 16GB, 32GB or 64GB +microSD slot 12GB+microSD slot 32GB, no card slot
Connectors Apple Lightning microUSB microUSB microUSB
Operating System iOS 6 Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Microsoft Windows Phone 8
Battery 225 hours standby, 8 hours talk time (3G) 790 hours standby, 11:40 hours talk time (3G) TBA 300 hours standby, 10 hours talk time (3G)
Camera 8MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash 8MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash 8MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash 8MP, 3264×2448 pixels, optical image stabilization, autofocus, dual-LED flash
Networking Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G, 4G LTE
Price $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB; avail. Sept. 21 $99.99 + $35 carrier fee $199 (estimated, launch end of 2012) TBA, launch Q4 2012

I leave the decision to you….

Satyamev Jayete

May 6, 2012 3 comments

Satyamev Jayete

Satyamev Jayete

If you ask an Indian, what is Satyamev Jayete? Prompt the answer comes back – The new Amir Khan show on TV. A few not so learned ones would tell you it is the text below the emblem of India and even fewer would answer that it is the National Motto of Republic of India.

To the few illiterate it would refer to a mantra in ancient scripture in Mundaka Upanishad, the full mantra is as follows

सत्यमेव जयते नानृतम् सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः ।
येनाक्रमन्त्यृषयो ह्यात्मकामो यत्र तत् सत्यस्य परमं निधानं ॥
(translation in the end)

But little does it matter to us. A nation with a motto of Satyamev Jayete should work towards it in all aspects of its governance, but dwelling into it would make us no happier than watching Amir Khans Satyamev Jayete.

The new big budget TV show by Amir Khan that is about to be aired today would dwell in to the reality…the same one that we are all well aware of, but do not have the will to do anything more about it. The episodes would dwell into the same issues that we discuss on our soft leather couches or write incoherently on blogs such as this, but do not tread any further than a being an armchair philanthropist. These are the same issues that have made unknown socialites celebrities and social pariah of people who have tilled the ground to make a change. These are same issues that made small NGOs into corporate machines and paupers of some wanted to make a difference. In short Amir Khans Show would tell you no more than what you already know …The truth as we know it and care to do little about it.

I can think of no other Indian star, who can do justice to the show. Amir Khan has the credibility and the Star power to host the show that deals with such strong issues; and he definitely has the acting skills to make us move. The drive to retain his image as perfectionist would force him to make a well researched show and it will command great TRPs and Reviews. But I just hope beside glamour of Amir the show is able to unearth the human inside us, one that has been lost for long time.

From the reviews on the net it seems to have had a good start, It is an episode that makes us relive the ugly truth of female infanticide which we have successfully brushed below the shining carpet. I have not seen the show, it airs later tonight here, I hope it is going to make us all think, and the will to act in some.

So if you are willing to take the Red pill and watch the reality emerge around you watch the show…..I leave you with the peppy theme song of the show.



______

satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ
satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ |
yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā
yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam ||

Meaning:

Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood.
Through truth the divine path is spread out by which
the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled,
reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

Top of the Charts…Ranking the Academy Award best Film Winners

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Oscars, for some weird psychological reason, has garrisoned itself in an obscure corner of my heart. The first time I saw the show, a very long time ago; “Tears of Endearment” made it to the top of the podium for the best Film of the year. I have always been hooked to it ever since. I was in grade three and we did not have a TV in the house back then and we saw a VHS recording of the show at the residence of a family friend. The sheer exuberance of the show caught on and it managed to keep me in the same state until now. It was the 56 Academy Awards then and it is the 84th Oscar this weekend. I suddenly realized I have been watching Oscars for the last 30 years and I somehow managed to watch each of these shows for the three decades.

Over the years I often come across the argument that, Oscars does not deserve importance it gets in the movie Industry. It is, but another over-hyped, magniloquent show in the US. I completely agree with most of the argument, but it still is special to me.  I am just another brick in the wall along with 39.3 million bricks who watched it live and millions others like me, who will watch a recording of the show.

It is not that I love watching award shows, in fact I hate watching award shows. I have never once sat through a complete awards show on TV, be it Filimfare or the abundance of the shows that we have on Indian television. They cannot keep me engaged for more than couple of minutes. I am not trying to be an elitist here by showing descent on anything Indian. I disdain Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes  and all other awards with the same level of derision as Star Parivar awards.

It seems like I have been conditioned over the years to like the Oscars. In the times of Doordarshan, with such a dearth of content on TV and being fed up with Krishi Darshan and Humlog, the academy awards was an event that we all waited for. It was once in a year brownie that was offered by the national Television.  Compared to the rest of the content Oscars then was one of the few shows that engaged the entire family. Add to it my dad’s love for English movies and his conversations with his friends about the finer points of film-making always made a good evening pastime. Now I am the Pavlov’s dog, conditioned to wait for it every year. If I can’t watch it live, I would watch a recorded version or  downloaded the show, in the more recent times.

This year, is going to be no exception. I have not seen the show yet and missed it on TV. But with all the content that is available on the net, I will ensure that I watch the entire show along with the red carpet fashion and commentary and all knotty gossip out there .

From 1983 with the only exception of “Out of Africa” in 1985, I have watched all the movies that have won the Oscars “Best Film Award”. Some of them I loved and some I really hated. I have tried below to rank winners of Best Films from 1983 until 2011.

This is how I did it. I ranked all the movies according to how I would want to watch them and added to it the ranks of IMDB, Rottentomatoes.com, Movies.com and a couple of other internet sources. Each source was given a weight according to my judgment, with the highest weight going to my personal ranking. (It is my list after all) Then for these movies I took the critic score and audience score from a movies.com article and coupled it to create an aggregate rank. This is what I have.

 Ranking the movies that won the Best film award

Bottom Eight

Movie

Year

Rank

Crash

2005

28

Forrest Gump

1994

27

Out of Africa

1985

26

Driving Miss Daisy

1989

25

Terms of Endearment

1983

24

A Beautiful Mind

2001

23

Dances with Wolves

1990

22

Shakespeare in Love

1998

21

Well, these have been my least favorite movies; with the exception of, “A Beautiful Mind” which I thought it was an exceptional performance by Russell Crow and Jennifer Connelly on a difficult subject. But a lot of critics had a different view.

While a lot of people loved Shakespeare in love I was somehow not able to relate to the entire movie, it is in fact something I hated to watch.

I have not watched Out of Africa so it might have got an unfair deal.

I think Crash did not even deserve an Award.

20-16

Movie

Year

Rank

The King’s Speech

2011

20

Braveheart

1995

19

Platoon

1986

18

Rain Man

1988

17

Titanic

1997

16

The above list has some of the more popular movies. They have a universal appeal. All these movies have done great on box office, had I taken box office records into the ranking criteria, these movies would have been way higher on the pyramid.

I would like to mention King’s Speech. It is an elegantly crafted piece of work. Firth is superb in the lead role offering a perfectly observed blend of vulnerability and frustration alongside hints of royal arrogance. I loved King’s Speech and I thought it deserved a top 10.

If you were to watch one of the movies of the list above; Kings Speech or Platoon is your best bet. Platoon is a brutally realistic look at a young soldier’s tour of duty in Vietnam, drawn from the directors own experiences in the war. It moves away from the bang bang Vietnam war movies and concentrates on the human side of the war. The movie has not lost it relevance even today.

15-11

Movie

Year

Rank

Chicago

2002

15

Gladiator

2000

14

The English Patient

1996

13

The Last Emperor

1987

12

American Beauty

1999

11

  I loved American Beauty, Flawlessly cast and brimming with dark, acid wit, smart, provocative and a high point of late ’90s mainstream Hollywood film. With powerful acting by the cast and great storytelling, it is not a movie you would want to miss; and not a movie that you can watch with kids.

I always loved historical movies and gladiator was no exception. But the movie is anchored by Russell Crow by his awe-inspiring acting and without him the movie would have been mentioned as a great costume drama. If you like Russell Crow and this movie is worth a watch.

I thought Chicago did not deserve an Oscar, but a lot of people really loved the exuberance of the movie. I slept through the movie. But do not take my word on it you might just love it.

The Top League

10-6

The next five movies are the top of the league  and all of them are highly recommended. If you fancy to skip one of the above I would have trouble to decide and probably layoff Million Dollar Baby. While it is a great movie it made me sad and just not my genre

Movie

Year

Rank

The Departed

2006

10

The Hurt Locker

2010

9

Slumdog Millionaire

2008

8

Million Dollar Baby

2004

7

Amadeus

1984

6

The crown jewel in the above list is Amadeus. It is a movie that has not been as popular as it fellow companions on the list, but it is a brilliant movie. Find it and watch it.

For this film adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Broadway hit, director Milos Forman returned to the city of Prague that he’d left behind during the Czech political crises of 1968, bringing along his usual cinematographer and fellow Czech expatriate, Miroslav Ondrícek. Amadeus is an expansion of a Viennese “urban legend” concerning the death of 18th century musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. From the vantage point of an insane asylum, aging royal composer Salieri recalls the events of three decades earlier, when the young Mozart first gained favor in the court of Austrian emperor Joseph II.

Departed is a Personal Favorite, it has the sensibilities of a Bollywood movie and some fantastic acting by the cast. Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality that has infused director Martin Scorcese’s past triumphs.

The top 5

Movie

Year

Rank

No Country for Old Men

2007

5

Unforgiven

1992

4

The Lord of the Rings:

2003

3

As both director and star, Clint Eastwood strips away decades of Hollywood varnish applied to the Wild West, and emerges with a series of harshly eloquent statements about the nature of violence. Unforgiven is an entertaining western that pays homage to the great tradition of movie westerns while surreptitiously expressing a certain amount of scepticism.

The lord of the rings is a treat for anyone who loves JRR, it is visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy. The Best Picture award for Peter Jackson’s final chapter in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was really an award to recognize the work done on all three films since it was in essence one giant project. It is one of four films to sweep the categories it was nominated in, going 11 for 11, tying the record of wins held by Ben-Hur and Titanic

The runners up

Movie

Year

Rank

Schindler’s List

1993

2

One of the most powerful movies that I have seen in my entire life, Schindler’s List blends the abject horror of the Holocaust with Steven Spielberg’s signature tender humanism to create the director’s dramatic masterpiece. If you have not seen this movie, this should be your next weekend DVD rental.

 The top of the Podium

Movie

Year

Rank

The Silence of the Lambs

1991

1

 

Director Jonathan Demme’s smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. It is a spectacular movie with spectacular performances from Hopkins and foster. For all the unbridled savagery on display, what is shrewd, significant and finally hopeful about Silence of the Lambs is the way it proves that a movie can be mercilessly scary and mercifully humane at the same time. If there is only one movie that you want to see this year and you have not seen The Silence of the lambs and thrillers are your genre then this is the MOVIE…

_________________________

But saying this there are some 56 more movies that have won the academy awards for best films. Some of them are classics like Casablanca, Godfather, Sting and many more that did not make it to the list, because the cut-off year for this review was 1983 when I first saw an OSCAR… I hope to do a top 15 movies of all time that won a best film Oscar some time in future. But right now, I need to go and hunt for a recording of the 2012 Oscar awards…..

Sunil varma

Home Away from Home : Another Earth

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

ONE of the more memorable slogans to come out of the climate-change talks in Durban over the past few days is: “there is no planet B”. But what if there were? Over the past couple of decades astronomers have logged thousands of so-called “exo-planets”—worlds which orbit stars other than the sun. On December 5th the scientists in charge of Kepler, a space telescope designed to look for such planets, confirmed their instrument’s discovery of its first Earth-like world. It is dubbed, rather unromantically, Kepler 22b.

The existence of this planet, which circles a star 600 light-years away, in the  constellation of Lyra, had previously been suspected. Kepler, which belongs to NASA, America’s space agency, works by observing dips in a star’s brightness as a planet passes in front of it. It flags likely looking reductions as “candidate planets”, of which Kepler 22b was one. But three passes are needed to confirm a planet’s existence, and Kepler 22b has now passed this test. Crucially, it orbits well within its star’s “Goldilocks zone”: neither too close nor too far away for liquid water (and therefore, perhaps, life) to exist on its surface.

It joins two other Earth-like planets—Gliese 581d and HD 85512 b—discovered by another instrument within the past few years. In truth, the term “Earth-like” is a stretch. Kepler 22b has a radius 2.4 times that of Earth, and if it is made from roughly the same stuff its surface gravity will also be about 2.4 times as strong. But NASA’s astronomers remain unsure whether it is predominantly gaseous, liquid or solid.

These three potentially habitable exo-planets may soon be joined by many more. In the two and a half years since its launch, Kepler has spotted 2,326 candidate planets. About 650 others have been discovered by other instruments. That plethora allows astronomers to start drawing conclusions about how common various sorts of planets are. Of Kepler’s haul, 9% seem to be of a similar size to Earth (though not all are in the Goldilocks zone of their star); a further 29% are Super Earths—planets substantially larger than Earth that are nevertheless rocky. Forty-eight of Kepler’s unconfirmed candidates look as if they orbit within their stars’ habitable zones; of those, ten seem to be Earth-sized.Nevertheless, Kepler 22b is the most promising exoplanet yet found. Unlike the others, which skirt the edges of their stars’ Goldilocks zones, Kepler 22b orbits comfortably within its own. NASA’s researchers reckon its surface temperature is about 22°C, compared with 15°C (at least for now) on Earth. Its parent star is similar to the sun, again unlike those of the other two candidates, both of which orbit cooler, dimmer stars. Indeed Gliese 581d’s parent is a red dwarf—the tiniest stellar species. That means its Goldilocks zone is so close to it that the planet may be tidally locked, as the moon is to the Earth. If that were the case, one side of Gliese 581d would be permanently lit (and heated) while the other experienced unending darkness.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to let astronomers make a plausible estimate of the total number of planets in the galaxy, of the number that could conceivably support life, and of the fraction of those that could (at least in theory) sustain human colonists. If only a few of Kepler’s possible Earth-like planets turn out to be real, that third number is likely to be in the millions.

Such knowledge will mark an historic transition, says Chris Lintott, an astronomer at Oxford University who is giving the Kepler team a hand with the data analysis, since the uncertainties around the question of whether life exists elsewhere will cease to be astronomical (how many suitable planets are there?) and become purely biological (how easy is it for life to get going, and how easy is it for it to become intelligent?). Based on the preliminary data, it looks as if there are numerous suitable planets. The science of exobiology may soon cease to be an oxymoron.

Source : The Economist

Nandan Nelkeni On FDI in Retailing

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

In the early nineties an unusual window of opportunity opened up for India. As western companies kept increasing their dependence on information technology, they began to look at India and its large pool of technically qualified human capital. Advances in communication technology made it possible to connect remotely to computers in New York and San Francisco using satellites and fibre optic cables.

This external opportunity coincided with the opening up the Indian economy. The reduction in tariffs, freeing up of the rupee, abolishing of licences, and reforms in the capital markets unleashed enormous entrepreneurial energy. Most important was the serendipitous coalition that emerged that freed up the software industry from the clutches of regulation. It was a motley crowd of far-seeing politicians, risk-taking bureaucrats and a bunch of maverick entrepreneurs who, while tiny at the time, were fully prepared to face global competition.

This led to policies that allowed free flow of foreign capital, massive investment in broadband capabilities, zero tariffs on imported software and a favourable tax regime. Surprisingly, rather than the much touted technology companies from the West, it was a set of indigenous companies who soon took the leadership position.

The rest is history. An industry that was US$50 million dollars in 1991 is well on its way to be over US$50 billion by 2011. And India went from being perceived as an economic basket case to teaming up with China for the leadership of the Asian Century.

Most importantly, it has and will further create millions of jobs for all the young educated men and women that pour out of our colleges. India’s first middle class was created by the jobs in government, PSUs, banks, and the railways. Their children got to work in the air-conditioned offices of IT and BPO companies.

A similar opportunity awaits us today. In a low inflation, low-interest rate global environment, with tremendous over-capacity in many industries, it is very difficult to raise prices. In fully optimised economies, it is difficult to get volume growth either. The only way for companies to grow their earnings is to reduce their costs by operating and procurement leverage. That is why they scour the world looking for cheaper and high quality products to stock the shelves of department stores and supermarkets. In this world the retailers who directly reach the consumer are our best allies to take our produce to market.

What are the areas that retailers are looking at to source from India? They are apparel, home furnishings, consumer durables and agricultural products. Today the volume of products procured from India is estimated to be about US$4 billion. Wal-Mart alone is estimated to source about US$20 billion from China.

It is reasonable to assume that if we hook up our manufacturing and agriculture to global consumers through the gigantic retailers, we can generate annual exports of US$50 billion over the next 20 years. A friend from Fortune magazine once told me that what the submarine cable is to India (a gigantic pipe to ship knowledge services to the West), Wal-Mart is to China (a gigantic pipe to ship manufactured products to the West)!

Moreover, it is a great opportunity to kickstart the agricultural sector. Today the US spends about US$100 billion on agricultural subsidies. In Europe the subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy are around Euro 40 billion. In the US, the subsidies are under threat due to the humungous budgets deficits. In Europe, the increasing cost of providing benefits to an aging population combined with the burden of EU enlargement will put enormous stress on the CAP.

Agricultural subsidies will disappear in the next ten years, not because of the Doha round of the WTO but because of the oldest reason in the world, that they will become unaffordable. And it will take us that much time to get our agricultural act together to exploit this opportunity. Moreover, 100 per cent FDI in retail satisfies all the conditions for FDI considered as politically correct today.

First, the retail industry is amongst the most sophisticated users of technology. The growth of Wal-Mart and Dell is simply because they manage the best global supply chains on the planet. To get the right product at the lowest price to the right consumer at the right time at the right location, when you are dealing with thousands of products, many of which are perishable or have short fashion windows, and to still make a profit, is the most difficult job in the world.

The huge advances in technology today, whether it is RFID for tracking products, data warehouses for understanding customer behaviour, or IP-addressable refrigerated trucks, are all about improving distribution. Our supply chains will get upgraded with technology dramatically, reducing waste and intermediation costs. This will lead to lower prices for consumers and higher prices for producers.

Secondly, it will significantly augment our productive capacity. The US$50 billion in exports, combined with another, say, US$10 billion of organised retail domestic will create the need for thousands of factories, to make jeans, curtains, fans, cans, bottle caps, and what have you. It will be the catalyst to manufacturing and agriculture what IT was to services.

And finally, it will create millions of jobs in the factories, the fields and the transportation companies. In an economy growing at 7-8 per cent it will be additional jobs as the expanded domestic capacity caters to urban areas which will grow from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of our population in the next 20 years.

And, who knows, like in the software, the telecom and the airline industry, the ultimate winners may not be the foreign companies but our own homegrown entrepreneurs who time and time again have shown what they can do when they have been unshackled and exposed to global competition.

Over a decade ago, we did some far-reaching things that put the sparkle back in the eyes of our educated urban youngsters. What right do we have to deny to the millions of kids growing up today, the same opportunity in our fields, factories and stores? The only way not to let them down is to create the supply chain pipes that will connect our farms and factories to the consumers of the world. For that we need 100 per cent foreign direct investment in the Indian retail sector. There is not a minute to lose. We should just do it!

Nandan Nelkeni, EX president and managing director, Infosys

This is an earlier article by Nandan Nelkeni, i donot have the source but a copy of the article.

The prestige of a Magician…A tribute to Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011 3 comments

“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”

From the movie The Prestige (2006)

“No one is indispensible (in an organization)” my first boss once said, “If one goes there will be more to come, just like the passengers on the train, they come and go but the train does not stop”

But there was one who clearly defied my intellectual colleague. He was no ordinary passenger, he was the pilot of the train and when he gets down the train stops. He is one of the mythical few, who have the uncanny ability to bulldoze through all odds to get to where they want to be. We know him as Steve Jobs.A very few people in this world have the ability to evoke extreme emotions: admiration, love, worship, hate; that Steve Jobs is able to by the mere mention of his name. With a fan following which would mock a rock-star, the master crafts man in the last three decades has been a phenomenon of a rare kind. His rode a roller coaster while most of us are anxious of the merry go rounds that we call lives.

The Pledge:

His entire life was a soap opera, born to an unwed mother who gave him up for adoption, adopted by amaranthine middle class folks who never went to college but promised Steve’s biological mother to see him through a college education. But he drops from college because it was too expensive for his adopted parents who were hell bent to fulfil their promise, but stays on the campus and continues to learn. He then starts a company with a friend in a garage with a vision so clear that the first MAC was a revolution in personal computing. In a strange twist of fate, worthy of a bestseller plot, he get thrown away from the company he created by the person he recruited….what more does the audience require before the end of Act 1 of the great magician.

The Turn:

The ACT 2 starts with Jobs creating a new company Next computers, then Pixar comes into picture and both these are individual success stories. Next more so because it was bought over by Apple and that brought Steve Jobs back into the company that he created and Pixar because it is now considered to be one of the finest animation production houses in Hollywood. (It was later bought over by Disney) end of season 2

The prestige:

Act 3 was the most dramatic; the final Act….it was also the most creative and profitable phase of Apple. Over the years even though it was developing some of the finest personal computers, Apple was playing a second hand fiddle to IBM machines. It was the product of the geeks and artistic niche. But with the coming of “I revolution” : IPOD, MAC pro, MAC Air, Apple TV, ITunes, IPod touch, IPhone, IPad it was the golden phase for apple and its shareholders. Each product was a cutting edge in technology, cool, and each was a divine revelation. It changed how we listened to music; how we bought music, redefined a personal computer, integrated mainstream TV to computing, gave a new perspective to a smart phone and created a new electronics category call a tablet. Apple was no longer a toy of the geeks or the artistic misfits but these products were the gadgets of the elite and the cool dudes of the world. All these were the result of the tyranny of visionary genius call Steve Jobs. He did all this fighting cancer and in the fall of 2011 he finally said good bye.

Like the end of every great act, it has left the audience spellbound and the theater quite; still sitting in their seats the audience expects him to come back and finish the show…..and they will keep waiting.

This is a picture tribute to him from the pictures on the net from 1970’s to 2011

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