Mar 28, 2007

Farewells... and all that crap

Two years in SP are coming to an end. We have had our farewell, and most will pack up and leave in 10 days. Good byes are being said, senti testimonials being written, and people are getting nostalgic. I, for one, can’t understand what the fuss is all about. It is not like I am going to a different planet.

I mean, it feels a lot like those Hindi movies – you know the dramatic climax where the heroine is set to fly off to some exotic foreign locale with her fiancĂ©; and the hero comes running in braving bad traffic, evil villains, and stupid airline rules to finally catch up with her; that too, when the plane has already started taxiing for take-off; suddenly, the pilot makes a halt, and announces, “Miss. XYZ, someone special is waiting for you!”

Well, if you felt the above paragraph was full of bull, all I can say is that is how I feel about farewells. I mean, do we really believe that if the plane had taken off, the hero would never have met the heroine again? I mean, whatever happened to mobile phones, email contacts, and at worst, catching the next flight to that place. I know, I am sounding stupid, but then, that is what you get for reading a stupid blog.

Now, coming back to the ‘farewell’ issue, the rate at which people are going senti, it seems to me that I am the heroine flying away (when the farthest I can go now is to Bhavani, though I confess it is as inaccessible to ppl here as Mars), and there are my dear ‘hero’ friends, who have to wish me good bye and write testimonials, or risk being burnt in hell for ditching friendship!

Not that I have an issue with writing testimonials, or people writing one for me. In fact, I appreciate it. Thanks for letting me know that I am a witty, smart, intelligent, sharp person with a good sense of humour! (I feel sooo flattered!) Thanks also for writing that you will miss my PJs and MCs (yeah, I actually believe that!) But, I seriously cannot understand the fuss behind saying good bye.

I mean, if you mean anything to me, I will keep in touch. Somehow. Mails, Phone, Orkut, pigeons, whatever, but I will be in touch. The least I will do is say “Happy Budday” in Orkut, every year. And, if I mean anything to you, I expect you to remain in touch too. And, if this communication link gets broken due to some future event like job (no time dude, work pressure), beautiful wife (24 hours is too less to admire my wifey, where the hell do I find time for you?), stubborn kids (pester power is no longer just a marketing jargon to me), or plain laziness (c’mon da, I don need to call you to prove that I am ur friend), well, I will understand. And, if you manage to keep in touch beyond all this, yippiieeeeeee!

But, if we don’t keep in touch, 2 days after leaving SP, doesn’t it say something about our ‘depth’ of friendship? Yeah, we were in the same batch, we shared so many wonderful moments, batch unity, etc etc etc… But, we could very well have been in two different worlds, and just happened to share 2 years in SP. I promise you, I will NOT miss you. Not even one bit. Yeah, this may sound like I am a cold hearted guy, who doesn’t know the value of networking, but as I said, I am stupid and this is what you get for being a stupid guy’s batch mate (note: batch mate, not friend).

Since you are equally smart, I can assume you understand what I have been trying to say all along. So, why the senti farewell messages, the testimonials, the “keep in touch” lines, the “time to move on”, “fare well thee”, “10 days to go L” IP groups and status messages? Why can’t we just go our separate ways without behaving like long lost lovers?

P.S: The big hypocrite that I am, I wrote “keep in touch” to many people while writing testimonials.

Mar 11, 2007

Two plus Two

I remember long back, when my world was not so complicated, my Math teacher telling me that 2+2 equals 4.
Then, I enrolled into an MBA program, and suddenly, things were not so simple anymore.

My Banking Prof says 2+2 is whatever the RBI says it is. Banks can take money and create credit through money multiplier. The RBI can reduce the effect of this multiplier by raising the CRR. So, the RBI can decide what 2+2 will be.
The Equity Research Prof counters that by saying it is not the RBI, but the SEBI that has the final say. Again, just because 2+2 is 4 today doesn’t mean it is going to be the same in future. In fact, we should look out for situations where 2+2 is less than 4, and buy that company’s stock. This will lead to huge gains in future.
The Mergers & Acquisitions Prof has a very different viewpoint. He says that business leaders did not get where they are by adding 2+2 and getting 4. “You should be able to create value by exploiting synergies,” he thunders. He says Tata is able to buy Corus because Mr. Ratan Tata can see 2+2 and come up with 22. He also adds sarcastically, “You MBAs are all risk-averse idiots. You can never think big. An entrepreneur can look at 2+2 and see various possibilities, and that is what makes him your boss.”
The Taxation Prof sagely observes that 2+2 might be 4 before you file your returns. But after deducting excise duty at 16%, sales tax at 4%, income tax at 33% and all other miscellaneous taxes that you and I have never heard of, it is unlikely that 2+2 will be a positive number.
The Portfolio Management Prof has an interesting viewpoint. He says that the very fact that you have asked 2+2 and not 1+3 or 3+1 means that you have decided to allocate your assets equally among different investment options. This might not always be a good idea, since the decision has to be based on your age, income levels, risk appetite, wife’s shopping habits etc.
The Management Control Prof says that we should not waste top management’s valuable time by squabbling over 2+2. He says we should put down limits on sides, say 3.8 and 4.2. As long as the answer is within this range, the variance is not significant, and hence can be ignored.
The International Finance Prof suddenly wants to know which currency we are talking about. He says if you add 2 dollars with 2 pounds and convert the answer to rupees, then the answer is likely to be more than a middle class daily income. Again, it depends on whether you are converting at today’s prices or three months’ forward prices.
The Accounting Prof first wants us to clarify whether we are accounting for this value under Indian GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, for the uninitiated) or US GAAP. He says both the answer, and the treatment in accounts will differ accordingly. Of course, given the right fees, a skilled accountant can make this 2+2 appear as 22 in the revenue side, but it is a bit difficult after some guys called Sarbanes & Oxley decided to spoil the party.
The Costing Prof emphasizes that we should check whether the 2+2 is fixed at different levels of production or variable. Our primary aim should be to reduce the value of 2+2 through various cost cutting techniques like inventory management, productivity improvement, machine utilization and what not.
The Derivatives Prof says that if you leverage your transaction, then 2+2 is likely to give you the benefit of 22 at a very low cost. What he of course conveniently forgets to mention is that you also stand to lose 22 if your bet goes wrong.
The Quantitative Techniques Prof says that we should ideally test the results of 2+2 over a number of samples, and see if the results are consistent. We can use the regression model and check what factors affect the answer, and how inter-related they are.

The Investment Banking Prof has the final word – he says 2+2 is whatever the client wants it to be. You can tinker around with your assumptions in your valuation model and arrive at what the client wants. What matters is that you get your big fat bonuses, a limousine, a five star lunch with the client, a flight in a chartered plane, a party in a yacht after the deal etc – all for doing nothing but tinker around with the possible answer for 2+2.

After all this gyaan, I am confused. Can anybody tell me what is two plus two?

Mar 6, 2007

Cricket World Cups - a walk back memory lane

I have fond memories of the Cricket World Cup. Really fond memories. 11 years ago, in 1996, when India hosted the World Cup, we got our first new TV at home. On top of that, it was not your plain B/W TV, but a Videocon Bazooka with speakers so loud that when Sachin Tendulkar hit a boundary, the whole neighbourhood knew it. The TV even came with a remote control, and I didn’t have to sit close to the TV and turn the knob on the old second-hand B/W TV to get the channels – not that there was much knob-turning since we had not subscribed to Cable before, and had to make do with DD. But, no more going to the neighbour’s place to watch the match – it was one of the happier moments of my life.

But, my history with World Cups goes back further. In fact, every World Cup has also been a major milestone in my life too – some really major and others made up :D

Let’s start right at the beginning.
1975 & 1979 – India fare badly – nothing to remember except the infamous Gavaskar innings of 36 runs off 174 balls in the first edition and a shameful exit without even reaching 200 runs in the second edition. But then, I wasn’t born yet.

1983 – Two historic events – one, Kapil Dev lifts the World Cup at Lord’s beating the mighty West Indies. A legend is born. But, another more significant event took place 18 days before the World Cup Final. A Shining R’moured Knight announced his arrival into this world, unnoticed. Both births signalled a new dawn for India.

1987 – India reached the semi-finals but was booted out by England. The Shining R’moured Knight (let us call him SRK for convenience) completed his first year of schooling, and was ranked 57th in his class. But, like India, things were only poised for better.

1992 – India fared poorly, finishing seventh out of 9 teams, above minnows like Sri Lanks and Zimbabwe. SRK also has nothing significant to show for himself other than mediocre school performances.

1996 – India host the World Cup, and SRK gets his first colour television at home. The semi-final ends in tears after crowd trouble at Calcutta, and SRK hates the Bongs for what they did. India has shown some promise, and SRK has also bagged first rank in his school.

1999 – India is fresh from defeating Australia in 1998. SRK is fresh from a 90% showing in his SSC in 1998. India somehow scrapes through to the Super Six stage, and still has not got its bearing right. The team is confused, and all at sea. SRK also scraps through his first year in Mumbai, and he is yet to get his bearings right. He is confused and all at sea. But, both India and SRK are confident that they can rise and shine in the time to come.

2003: India put its best showing in 20 years, and reaches the finals, only to finish second best behind a deserving Australia. While no one expected India to play so well at the beginning, India managed to go where only one Indian team has gone before. SRK puts up his best showing in 20 years and aces his B.Com exams, only to finish second best in the university. While no one expected SRK to get a university rank, he managed to reach a place that only one SIES guy had gone before.

2007: The World Cup is beginning. SRK meanwhile has got a job in West India and is very happy about it. Let us see if India manages to catch up with SRK and remain happy about their job in the West Indies.

Here’s wishing my twin all the very best for WC 2007.