Headlines: Weekly round-up

Here’s how bad the recession has got. India is now outsourcing business to other countries.

Yep. The second season of IPL will be played outside India due to security concerns. I don’t get it. The event is conducted by some of the most-feared terrorists in the word – the BCCI and Lalit Modi. We have their explicit support. They assure us they have no interest in harming the players. What more do we need?

Ironically, more people would have turned up for the IPL games than the voting booths. By that logic, shouldn’t we be holding the elections outside India instead of the IPL? Nobody cares anyway. You know, just have the elections in the UK or America or something. We have enough desis there. Ask Karan Johar.

This will surprise you. Barack Obama has sent out a conciliatory message to the Iranian people through YouTube. How cool is that? He then proceeded to add Ahmedinijad as a friend on Facebook. And reports indicate that Ayatollah Khameni is now following Obama on Twitter.

Has it come to this? The Iranians brushed it off as a joke. Seriously, can we just go back to the days when Obama pledged to talk to the leaders of rogue states with no preconditions? We’ll take that over YouTube diplomacy.

Did you watch Jon Stewart interview Jim Cramer from MSNBC? Jim Cramer was on mea culpa-mode from start to finish. The last time a Wall Street insider got beaten up like that on TV was……actually, it was only two days ago….when Tim Geithner was left with no option but to plead guilty on the AIG bonus fiasco.

Turns out Geither included a clause in the bail-out bill that allowed banks to pay out the bonuses. He figured that the Treasury can always print more money over weekends. AIG wants to pay out 160 million in bonuses? Not a problem. We’ll just print a Trillion dollars in new cash and make up for it.

I wish Obama would spare us the fake “outrage” over the bonuses. I mean, what else do you expect when you hand a bunch of crooks 170 billion dollars with virtually no strings attached? He’s obstinate, aint he? Just won’t give up on that whole no-preconditions policy.

Having said that, you’ve gotto admire the folks at AIG. They took massive risks knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to go under by the Fed. And now, they’ve got hundreds of billions in taxpayer money to pay for their f**ked up bets. When you think about it, they’ve sold the ultimate Credit Default Swap agreement to the American taxpayers without them even realizing it.

What’s more, AIG is now suing the Fed to recover $306 million of taxes it paid in 2008. So the company is suing its biggest shareholder (taxpayers) with taxpayer money to get back some tax dollars, which would be re-distributed to its shareholders (taxpayers) as dividends. Why can’t AIG do us all a favour and not file taxes at all? You know, like Tim Geithner?

The worst part – some AIG executives took these so–called “retention bonuses” and still quit the company. Their contracts allowed them to collect massive bonuses before the crisis in 2008 and even after it. In some ways, I can see why these ass***** are called the best and brightest people in America.

Obama was on the Tonight Show on Thursday. The interview was quite light-hearted, you know…..joke after joke from the President. Like when he told Leno that Tim Geithner was doing an “outstanding job” as the Treasury Secretary. That was my favourite.

He then went to confess that banks were just keeping the bail-out money to maintain certain capital ratios. No wonder the credit markets are still frozen. Not counting all the credit Obama is giving Geithner for doing such a fabulous job, of course.

Some quips dint go down well with the audience though. Like the one where Obama compared his poor bowling score to athletes in the Special Olympics. And given the huge budget deficit, his government’s credit score is worse than his bowling score.

Pope Benedict, travelling in Africa, created a furor by saying that condoms “increase the problem” of AIDS. And with just one statement, he’s moved himself into the list of the top 3 dangers facing humanity. Just behind Dick Cheney and marginally above global warming.

The Pope argues that his statement is backed by solid empirical evidence. He points out that all his bishops in churches worldwide have religiously used condoms will having sex with children and nuns but still got infected with HIV.

 

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Top 10 List: 16th March, 2009

Everyone’s talking about AIG. And the outrage over $165 million in bonuses paid to executives at the company. This was after AIG received close to $175 billion in federal bailout money and is at the heart of a global financial crisis. So all the brouhaha is understandable. No one has any clue why these bonuses are being paid.

Luckily for us, AIG CEO Edward Liddy was able to clarify some of these questions. Apparently, there are plenty of good reasons why AIG has to pay its executives these bonuses on time.

In Ed Liddy’s own words, the Top 10 reasons why the bonuses had to be promptly paid with taxpayer money-

10. “Tim Geithner owes you guys more in unpaid back-taxes. Deal with him first, will ya?”.

9. “The Execs threatened to defect to the Third Front”.

8. “Its paid out in Canadian dollars. Its a lot less than you think, really”.

7. “We took away their jets. At least give them this.”

6. “If we don’t do this, then the terrorists win.”

5. “We need to do this to retain the best and brightest talent, who just lost us 61 billion in Q1”.

4. “Yes, we can”.

3. “You cant hate us more than Bernie Madoff, surely?”

2. “Nawaz Sharif threatened to march into the Arabian Sea with his supporters”.

1. “AIG Execs are taxpayers too”.

Headlines: 13th March, 2009

It’s Holi. The festival of colours. The one day politicians can change shades every minute with no questions asked. Ominous signs for the BJP – no takers for the saffron dyes.

No one was spared. Even LK Advani was left red-faced at the end of the day. But it had nothing to do with Holi. Just that all his allies are bailing on him at the last minute.

Speaking of which, Naveen Patnaik is facing another flood crisis in Orissa. This time around, his office has been inundated with frantic calls from every single Prime Ministerial candidate in the Third Front.

Its ridiculous how everyone in the Third Front is considering himself / herself PM material. Having said that, its good to have choices. Last time, we had to pick between an Italian and someone who’d never won a Lok Sabha seat.

The scary part? Mayawati has thrown her hat in the ring. She is virtually holding the Left Parties to ransom threatening to leave the Front if she is not nominated. Am slowly starting to buy into the whole karma philosophy.

But the Third Front leaders say they wont project a PM candidate till the elections are over. In effect, we are asked to vote for them now to afford them the right to make up their minds later.

And what a motley crew at that! The beard (Naidu), the nay-sayer (Karat), the fat one (JJ), the retard (Mayawati), the sleeper (Gowda)…. its like watching the Lagaan XI contesting the elections.

Given recent developments, the Election Commission is now faced with a great challenge. Its dysfunctional team has been entrusted with the task of scheduling and securely conducting IPL matches while sneaking in a general election in between, if possible.

Doesn’t it feel like that? Why are we negotiating back and forth with Lalit Modi on the verge of arguably the country’s most important elections ever? Taken collectively – with Pak-Taliban, Lanka-LTTE, Bangladeshi Army-defectors, India- Modi – the entire Asian subcontinent is involved in negotiating with terrorists. Not our proudest moment.

India has handed over its replies to the 30 questions from Pak. Just to be safe, it has handed separate copies to everyone currently in charge of Pakistan – the Taliban, Zardari, Gilani, the Army Chief, Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan.

This raises some serious concerns for Obama. If the Commies take over India and the Taliban topple Zardari, the US wouldn’t know which country to invade first.

Pranab defended himself in a recent interview with Karan Thapar. He said the economy was under pressure and struggling to cope. The Congress had done all it could but the road to recovery was slow and painful. No wait….. this was about Manmohan in hospital.

Anybody even remember him? Manmohan’s completely disappeared from the public radar. He’s done his bit for the party but the spotlight is totally on Sonia and Rahul these days. He got a note from Resul Pookutty that said ‘Been there, done that’.

Mulayam finally admitted that it was a mistake to hand out money to voters as part of Holi celebrations. So the mistake count, as per Amar Singh’s calculations, currently reads Mulayam – 1, CBI – 288.

Reacting to criticism from the Dalai Lama, China contended that Tibet was in fact a ‘paradise on earth’, rather than hell. The Govt spokesman said China would only take that back if we stopped calling SWAT valley the Switzerland of the Far East.

Update on the Iraqi shoe thrower. He’s been sentenced to 3 years in jail. And grandpa Bernie Madoff, who swindled more than 50 billion, has been handed a lifetime sentence. Or 3 years, whichever is shorter.

Headlines: 4th March, 2009

Everyone’s in shock over what happened to the Lankan team. None more so than the Taliban/LeT. They are utterly shocked that the rest of us assumed sportsmen would not be targeted.

This was after the Lankan team was promised President-level security. Really? If this is the protection President-level security gets you, I don’t blame Zardari for signing that pre-emptive deal with the Taliban.

No more sports in the country. If it’s any consolation, Pakistan can continue playing mind games with India and ‘double-games’ with the US.

Yep. A call intercepted by the CIA confirmed that the Pakistani military is still actively supporting the Taliban. So Pakistan is happily absorbing billions in free aid whilst merely pretending to help America in return. Kinda like AIG, when you think about it.

It’s been 2 days and no real leads. Zardari has assured everyone that the state is the doing the best it can. Sure, but no resignations. None so far. Shivraj Patil was not reachable for comment.

Condemning the attack, the Congress sneaked in a comment that Pakistan could fast become the Somalia of Asia. Pretty rich, coming from a country currently in the international spotlight for A) terrorism and B) its slums.

In terms of the fallout, this will affect the staging of the IPL next month and cost the BCCI and Lalit Modi millions of dollars in losses. So victory for one bunch of terrorists has been balanced out with substantial losses for another. Poetic justice.

Digest this. Pakistan expects to tour Bangladesh as scheduled this month despite what happened in Lahore. Any and all military personnel still alive after the Army mutiny last week will try providing security.

Chidambaram issued a warning that militants might attempt to do something during the elections. Given that Maulana Sufi Mohammad openly denounces democracy as ‘sin and infidelity’, PChid might want to re-think the word ‘might’.

I mean, Pakistan has just succumbed to the Taliban. The Bangladeshi Army is busy playing good cop-bad cop. The Lankan assault on the LTTE is still on. Cant ask for a better moment to hold a month long election. In 5 phases. Involving a billion people. Perfect timing.

Btw, Navin Chawla will take over as the next Chief Election Commissioner on April 20. Unlike Gopalaswami, Pratibha Patil can actually pull off the suo motu stunt.

And it aint gonna be cheap. Its going to come at a staggering cost of 10,000 crores! In other words, it’s the fiscal stimulus that never came in the interim budget. Clearly, the electoral process is more important than the result this year.

The Congress has drawn first blood. It has acquired exclusive rights to use the song ‘Jai Ho’ during campaigning. Not to be outdone, the BJP is buying a symbol of national pride of its own– Gandhiji’s blood test report that’s up for auction.

Top Ten List: 26th February, 2009

Am a big fan of the Top Ten List segment in the David Letterman Show. Something along those lines today.

Enough has been written about the negative implications of the Taliban’s deal with the Pakistani government. But what about the people of the valley? How would their lives be affected? Today’s list compiles the top 10 indications for the citizens of SWAT that the Taliban is now in charge of the place.

The entries are in reverse, countdown order. Here goes –

Top 10 signs that the Taliban is in now charge of SWAT valley:

10. Suddenly, all your neighbours are named Maulana something.

9. The leading economic indicator in the province is the Foreigner Exchange Reserve.

8. Bin Laden is a regular guest lecturer at the local madrassa.

7. 9/11 and 26/11 are celebrated as state holidays.

6. The district Qazi consults the Quran to decide if you are allowed to wear pink chaddis.

5. The town’s head count does NOT refer to the town’s population size anymore.

4. AK Antulay’s pic is featured on the local currency notes.

3. The valley’s new tourist brochure starts with ‘SWAT is not a bad place. It’s much safer than Mumbai. Really.’

2. A typical classified ad reads – Radical Islamic hardliner room-mate wanted.

1
. A fatwa is declared on AR Rahman for being a Pro-American infidel.

Headlines: The week that was – Part 2

The vultures are out. Both the BJP and Congress want to take credit for Slumdog’s success at the Oscars. The Congress has a good case. Without its negligence, there would have been no slums for Danny Boyle to work with.

Advani called Rahman’s win a great achievement for all Indians. You know its election year when the BJP jumps into the Muslim appeasement business.

Pakistan’s concessions on 26/11. Lets face it, Zardari made them after a whole lot of diplomatic arm-twisting. First it was India. Then Holbrooke did some more twisting. Followed by the Taliban. Even David Blaine agrees that all this twisting is making him nauseous.

Pakistan has given 30 really tough questions of its own for Pranab. And it wants the answers ASAP. Poor Pranab. It must be like going on Karan Thapar’s show again. But without the condescension.

30 questions and limited time to respond to them? That’s like Rahul Gandhi’s worst nightmare from his college days. He dropped out from Harvard then and he’s definitely dropping out of the PM race now.

I don’t think its fair though. They gave ONE answer and expect us to tackle THIRTY questions in return? I say forget Zardari and follow the conventional wisdom – directly strike a deal with the Taliban. I think we’ll get much better terms with them.

The much talked about Pakistan’s “deal” with the Taliban. Its the most disturbing instance of a sovereign nation openly signing a deal with terrorists since…since….. Lalit Modi was given anticipatory bail by the High Court last week.

The investigators in the Mumbai terror attack have booked Ajmal Kasab for entering the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) without a railway ticket. Bravo. Lets follow this up and book his 9 deceased colleagues for staying three days at the Taj without paying room charges.

Am not saying the police are being over-zealous in performing their duties, but did they have to go to this extent? Did they really have to accuse Kasab of being the elusive ‘kala bandar’?

No kidding. The Mumbai police have compiled a massive chargesheet that’s more than 10,000 pages long!! Needless to say, it’s still shorter than the transcript of Kate Winslet’s speech at the Oscars.

Zardari made a trip to China last week. You know, to the land of censorship, restrictions on public assembly, limited freedom of speech, and the repression of independent religious groups. Poor Zardari. He’s faced with Sharia Law wherever he goes.

Some good news. ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education’ Bill has been cleared by the Cabinet. So children can now enjoy their fundamental right…. to be forcibly educated?? Semantics anyone?

Compulsory education bill? Call me cynical but this just sounds like an elaborate scheme by Sonia to send Rahul Gandhi back to college and complete his course.

In Sri Lanka, the LTTE had retaliated by air-bombing civilians in Colombo. India has strongly condemned the attacks. Of course we did. We prefer it when it’s the Army bombing and shooting down its own civilians.

Lot of talk about the shift in balance of power from the US to Asia. Is there is any substance to it? Reports indicate that the “slumdog” kids from the movie are getting their own flats in Bombay. Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s ancestral home got foreclosed. You decide.

Headlines: The week that was – Part 1

I know I haven’t blogged for a week. A quick recap of last week’s news……

First off, the Oscars. A big relief for all Indians. What a billion people were hoping and praying for came true – Anil Kapoor got minimal camera time. Phew! Oh, and AR Rahman won a couple of Oscars, which was a bonus.

In his speech, Rahman confessed ‘Meri paas bas meri maa hai’, meaning ‘I have nothing with me but my mother’. Quite touching. He was, of course, borrowing heavily from Rahul Gandhi’s campaign slogan.

Rahman also said ‘All my life, I had a choice between love and hate. I chose love and here I am’. Which makes you wonder what happens to those who chose hate. Lets see….you probably end up presenting an award with your ex-husband and his new girlfriend sitting in the front row laughing at you.

Brad Pitt was gutted after Benjamin Button got nominated in more than 10 categories with Slumdog but won only 3 awards. Danny Boyle stepped in and let Anjelina adopt Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto. They called it even.

Looks like the Oscar committee has also signed a deal with the Taliban. You know, with them asking a Non-States actor, Hugh Jackman to be the host this year?

There was a lot of talk of this being the “recession-Oscars”. With the low-budget sets and scaled-back stage. Plus, the event was sponsored by the Federal Reserve.

The signs were there. You know it’s the recession-Oscars when the event was given a sub-primetime slot on NBC. You know it’s the recession-Oscars when the Kodak Theatre got foreclosed midway through the show and everyone was asked to leave.

While presenting his award, Ben Stiller spoofed Joaquin Phoenix’s awkward appearance on the Letterman Show last week. Did you see that? Joaquin was drunk, incoherent and replied in monosyllables to questions. Obama immediately named him USA’s representative to next year’s G-7 summit.

More showbiz news. Did you catch the latest show on Broadway? It’s the Detroit adaptation of Oliver Twist. Including the classic scene where Oliver asks Mr.Bumble ‘Sir, can I have some more bail-out money?’

That’s right. GM and Chrysler want $20 billion more from the Fed. You know, its odd how the roles have changed here. The automakers are the ones collecting all the taxpayer money while Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, is the one paying all the taxes.

GM also wants a line of credit for as much as 8 billion. Really? By the time GM and Chrysler can pay back the debt, the line of credit would be stretched so far into the future that it would just be a dot.

Baby-faced Alfie Patten of Britain, who is 13, became a father last week when his girlfriend Chantelle Steadman,15, gave birth to their child Maisie. Scary, eh? Or as they call it in Andhra, a ‘grand alliance’.

Yep. Rivaling factions TDP, TRS, CPI and CPI(M) have formed what has been dubbed the ‘grand alliance’, to oust the Congress from Andhra. Did you see these guys who hate each other sit side by side and grin for the sake of winning some votes? God, it was like watching the Oscars all over again.

The boring politics news tomorrow…..

Headlines: 16th February, 2009

Here’s how bad the recession is. Americans can’t even work for peanuts these days.

The day started with an elaborate paean in praise of Congress Party President Sonia Gandhiji that lasted a couple of hours. Also known as the Interim Budget.

But the stock market crashed once the interim budget turned out to be a damp squib. What else would you expect from a substitute (Pranab) of a substitute (Manmohan) of a substitute (Chidambaram)? It should have been Manmohan all along.

In his defense, Pranab argued that he did not have the mandate do anything more with the budget. No mandate? Does this mean Prakash Karat is the one we should be blaming?

Pranab termed his interim budget as one for the ‘aam admi’. Unfortunately, for the ‘aam admi’, the government is now the ‘baam admi’.

Did you read about that? A farmer in Rajasthan claims that an Army aircraft bombed his 5 bhiga field and home. No statements from the Army. Guess the IAF’s policy is not to ‘kisaan-and-tell’. Or it’s in a real kisaan jam. Or it doesn’t think it’s that bhig-a deal. Take your pick.

The bombing did not result in any loss of life or property. And that’s not always a good thing. Think about it. The IAF “bombed” an innocent, unsuspecting civilian in broad daylight without causing any damage to him or his property. Aren’t you glad we’ve ruled out military retaliation against Pakistan?

This also explains why we are stocking up on smart bombs. Because the pilots are not. It also begs the question – why this proactive approach in bombing farmers? The Centre’s previous policy of just letting them commit suicide was working well so far.

US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke in India. His only achievement on this trip is coining the catchy term, ‘Af-Pak’ to describe the disappearing boundary lines between the two countries, as far as terrorists as concerned. In that case, shouldn’t it be ‘Af-Pak-Ind-Bang-Lankistan’?

Poor Holbrooke is faced with the unenviable prospect of deciding which is worse – the Hindutva Talibanisation of India or the Talibani Talibanisation of Pakistan.

Pakistan is signing agreements with the Taliban. Britain is openly imploring militants not to target its people. India is bombing its own citizens. I hate to be the bringer of bad news but it looks like the terrorists, of all people, are winning the war on terror. Since 9/11, the score reads Terrorists 15, Rest-of-the-World 0.

And Sharia law is tough. It’s a theocratic society with extreme restrictions on women and many aspects of day-to-day life like politics, business, sexuality etc. Kinda like Vasundara Raje and Rajasthan for the last 4 years under the reign of Lalit Modi (also known as Profit Mohammad).

Modi is now threatening to take IPL away from Jaipur if the cases against him are not dropped. First, Mangalore took over as India’s ‘pink city’. And now, Modi is threatening to leave the place. Finally, the tide is turning for the citizens of Jaipur…..

LK Advani is getting an IIM student as an intern in his election team. Why not? There are no investment banks in Wall Street anymore to reward self-indulgence and incompetence with obscene salaries. Indian politics is the next best thing.

The Iron Maiden concert in Bangalore was a success. Am surprised. I mean, if we wanted to listen to senile octogenarians singing the same old tunes for decades, we could tune into Pranab’s budget speech instead.

Headlines: 12th February, 2009

The CPI-M has openly asked Kerala CM Achyuthanandan to forget ethical considerations and toe the party line by dropping the corruption case against ex-CM P.Vijayan (also of the CPI-M). Elsewhere, Gandhiji’s personal belongings are going to be auctioned off in NY. As a country, we’re selling out on his principles. No great harm in selling off his specs, watches and sandals too, right?

The unholy nexus between the Congress and SP on the brink of collapse over the Mulayam-CBI investigation. The ramifications are enormous. For starters, Aishwarya Rai’s Padma Shri will be taken away.

According to Amar Singh, the CBI has made at least 288 errors in its report on Mulayam. 288 mistakes?? Poor Mulayam – it must be like reading Satyam’s annual report.

The image of the CBI is supposedly at stake here. What image? It’s nothing more than a perennial source of embarrassment for the country. CBI members can happily wear pink chaddis in public without any impact on its image.

Am sure you’ve read about the Pink Chaddi campaign. It’s got a great response. More than 30,000 members on Facebook alone. Funnily enough, all 40 of Muthalik’s followers will be voting in the coming elections while none of these 30,000 are likely to.

The group claims itself to be ‘A Consortium of Loose Pub-going and Forward Women.’ Incidentally, there is a similar club for men too. Represented by the entire cast of the movie Dev D.

Based on Pakistan’s partial admission on the 26/11 attacks, Chidambaram went on to praise their report as “an exceptional and tightly argued document”. The UPA is big on Muslim appeasement, yes. But to the best of my knowledge, Pakistani Muslims can’t vote in the coming elections.

It’s not just the Congress. Narendra Modi chips in with his comment on Indians being involved in 26/11. LK Advani is campaigning in Pakistani websites. I don’t blame them. At the moment, Hindutva is likely to win the BJP more votes in Pakistan than India.

Hindutva has taken a real beating of late. First it was Col. Purohit and the Malegaon blasts. Then Shiela Dikshit trumping the BJP in Delhi. Followed by the Ram Sena show. Now, if only the RSS came up with a new cola that has cow urine as the main ingredient…

Key quote from the RSS spokesman – “Don’t worry, it won’t smell like urine and will be tasty too”. The argument better known in political circles as ‘the Morarji Desai fallacy’.

Basically, consumers have to pick between drinking pesticides and drinking cow urine. And we thought VS Achyuthanandan had a tough choice to make!

It’s possible that cow dung and urine may have some medicinal properties. But the “output” also depends on the intake. On a diet consisting of plastic bags, Lays chips, broken bottles and dry grass? I don’t think so.

P.Chidambaram now wants to sit and sort out our differences through cordial talks. He wasn’t referring to Pakistan though. This was about the ugly fistfights that erupted between MLA’s in Uttar Pradesh. Not to forget, Andhra Pradesh.

Even our commercial planes are clashing. OK, almost clashing. Two major collisions averted in Mumbai and Guwahati respectively. Small mercies.

Reports indicate that Dawood’s gang has been roped in to kill Ajmal Amir Kasab in jail. And yet, Pranab keeps complaining that Pakistan is not doing enough to get rid of terrorists.

Headlines: 9th February, 2009

Pakistan’s report is out. The 26/11 attacks were planned in Europe, of all places. In other words, this is Pakistan’s way of telling our NSA that we are barking up the wrong tree.

Europe? The attack on Bombay planned in Britain, perhaps? Last time I checked, the East India Company was definitely defunct. France, maybe? That should explain Sarkozy’s lousy approval ratings- you know, attacking Bombay with London right next door.

Pakistani Prez Zaradari has accused India of trying to diplomatically isolate the country from the international community. It’s not entirely clear what he meant – but he wants India to immediately stop the ‘emotional hatyachar’.

Since no one seems remotely interested in volunteering, Kalyan Singh has offered to take full moral responsibility for 26/11. Admirable.

Faheem Ansari, an accused in the 26/11 attacks, has alleged that a female agent from the FBI sexually harassed him while he was in custody of the Mumbai Police. Maybe she was just checking his background using some coercive methods? Taken out of context, the phrase ‘Who’s your daddy??’ and some good-natured spanking can mean a whole lot of things.

Coming on top of the winter Olympics in Tihar and the bindas lifestyle of Ramalinga Raju in jail, this is a shocker. Criminals in this country have never had it so good… I mean, sex, games, luxury? …. It’s a dozen AK-47s short of living in Sanjay Dutt’s basement in 1993 all over again.

The moral of the story – if you carry out the job and get killed, the pay-off is 72 virgins. If you fail and get caught, you are allotted a slutty cop to sex you up in jail. Not a bad business to be in, this jihad thingy.

P Chidambaram has condemned the Ram Sena and indicated that the Congress would not allow any organization to “operate as a self-styled police force”. You know, like the Congress under Indira Gandhi in 1975. Or the Congress under Indira Gandhi with Operation Blue Star.

The BJP issued a statement saying that Ayodhya would NOT be a key poll plank for the party. Amazing. With a single strike, Pramod Muthalik has achieved the impossible – the BJP wants to have nothing to do with ‘Ram’ anymore.

In a shocking case of caste discrimination, Dalit families in Rajasthan were asked to purify themselves by drinking cow urine to participate in a yagna at the local Hanuman mandir. The Dalits have not been insulted this badly since the HRD Ministry gave their kids those 10-dollar “laptops” last week.

SRK was forced to defend himself after hundreds of hairdressers slammed his film’s title “Billu Barber”. SRK argued that if he wanted to use a real derogatory term, he would have named the film “Billu Election Commissioner”.

Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, is planning to run for governor of California. Awesome. She can teach Rod Blagojevich a thing or two about auctioning Senate seats without getting caught.

After much drama, the US Senate passed the bailout bill 61-36. But not before N. Gopalaswami threatened to suo motu sack the entire Republican Party.

Headlines: 5th February, 2009

The old adage still holds. If something sounds too good to be true, then don’t believe what Ratan Tata is saying. Now we need to add the HRD to the list as well.

The 10-dollar laptop that the Department of Human Resources announced yesterday – an utter joke. Its barely a computing device and can hardly perform any useful function. The new Board at Satyam has ordered 500 of these laptops.

It was designed by students of Vellore Institute of Technology, scientists in Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT-Madras, UGC and HRD. So the best minds in the country worked for months to come up with a bulky 2GB USB stick. How we ever got Chandrayaan to orbit the moon is beyond me.

I mean, its nothing more than an overhyped brick. The only way we can build a better future for our children with them would be to construct housing facilities using these ‘laptops’. In this light, I don’t blame Obama’s ‘Buy American’ clause in the bailout package.

India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan has warned Obama that he would be “barking up the wrong tree” if he subscribes to views linking Kashmir to 26-11. Ouch. Even David Miliband was going –‘Can he say that??’

On the bright side, the NSA wont be embarrassing the UPA anymore with his interviews. You know, its so much harder to speak when you have your foot in your mouth.

The IRS has a new method to track down tax evaders in the US. It’s going to wait for Obama to pick them in his Cabinet. Simple.

Yep. Following Tim Geithner, it’s the turn of Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer to resign following admissions of tax evasion. Clearly, when Obama talks about offering tax breaks in the stimulus package, he’s talking to his Cabinet members.

Obama openly admitted his mistake with the Tom Daschle nomination. He actually said – ‘ I screwed up’. No wait… that was Kalyan Singh.

Sucking up to Muslims in a heartfelt speech, Kalyan took full moral responsibility for the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. He then got so carried away by the emotions of the moment that he broke down in tears. No wait…that was Roger Federer.

Given the extent of Kalyan’s groveling, aimed at the Muslim minorities, can someone tell me why he’s with the Samajwadi Party, and not the Congress??

Tough decisions from Obama. He’s slapped a 500K limit on executive compensation for bailout companies. But the good news – they’ll be compensated with stock options. The bad news – its Citigroup stock.

The Dalai Lama was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Delhi on Monday. He was discharged later once the doctors convinced him that he had NOT been offered the position of Finance Minister in the UPA.

India has signed its first commercial pact with the French nuclear giant Areva to make nuclear reactors. That’s odd. Don’t we have enough nuclear react-ors in the country already? You know, the CPI, the CPI(M), the Revolutionary Socialist Party…..

Headlines: 2nd February, 2009

Here’s how bad the recession is. Even with the Lok Sabha polls coming up shortly, the Election Commission is downsizing its workforce.

CEC N. Gopalaswami has suo motu recommended that Navin Chawla be removed from office on the alleged grounds of ‘partisanship.’ Gopalaswami almost pulled it off before the Congress realized that suo motu meant that he dint have to give a damn about anyone else.

First the EC announces the election dates. Then the CEC wants to fire his co-worker. Fascinating. This, incidentally, explains why we need more than a month to conduct elections even though we’ve upgraded to electronic voting booths.

Lots of focus on Article 324(5) and its interpretation. I don’t see what the fuss is all about. The relevant passage reads ‘ the CEC cannot act on his own and must await a ‘reference’ from the President, if only to justify Pratibha Patil’s existence in the Universe’.

On the plus side, it’s good to see the Congress and BJP studying the Constitution again. That book was starting to collect some dust.

When asked if he could have timed the announcement better, Gopalaswami enigmatically replied that it was just a case of ‘Luck by Chance’.

With Gopalaswami retiring in April and Navin Chawla possibly removed, the EC would be reduced to one member – SY Quraishi. It suddenly becomes clear why TN Seshan called him a lucky b*****d.

Since the election dates have been announced, the Congress is henceforth not allowed to make any major policy decisions. Great. First it was the Left. Now the EC. Will someone let the Congress make some policy decisions already?

Good news on Satyam. The govt. has identified a replacement for Ramalinga Raju. The new CEO is Hashmatullah Khan, an unknown exporter of shawls from Kashmir.

Did you read about it? This guy was somehow nominated for a Padma Shri in the category of ‘art’, while he is not a craftsman is the slightest sense of the word. He sells shawls. While this does not reflect well on the awards process, I don’t feel that bad about Aishwarya Rai winning it anymore.

But I am worried about rumours that she might contest in the coming elections with the Samajwadi Party. In Bihar, of all places. For once, Bal Thackeray was not complaining that the Bachchans were not doing enough for Maharashtra.

Looks like the SP wants to match the RJD in terms of candidates with similar profiles. You know, like the IQ. Enter beauty contest winner. It all fits.

Michael Phelps, who won a record 8 gold medals for swimming at the Beijing games last summer, has been caught smoking cannabis. Amazing, isn’t it? I dint even know he was planning to run for President!

Obama blasted the Wall Street bonuses and asked execs to show some ‘restraint, discipline, and responsibility’. For some reason, ex-deputy CM Chandar Mohan and actress Priety Zinta also ended up apologizing to him.

After Bush, it was the turn of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to have a shoe throw at him during a speech. I know that Tim Geithner really wants China to re-evaluate its currency, but this is hardly the way to go about it.

Headlines: 29th January, 2009

The Election Commission has announced the dates of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Entirely coincidentally, the Congress announced a cut in petrol and gas prices the same day.

More coincidences. Sonia laid the foundation stone for her dream project – the Rae Bareli rail coach factory, yesterday. The aim is to boost job prospects in the UP. Job prospects for her MP candidates, to be more specific. (The Congress had a vote share of 8% in the 2007 UP assembly elections).

On the other hand, it’s a pleasant change to see Sonia leaning in to lay the foundation stone. You know, after 5 long years of bending over backwards to accommodate all her allies.

Mayawati laughed it off as a political stunt pointing out that the foundation had already been laid near Baiswara way back in Feb 2007. Maybe. Thankfully, the Congress has made absolutely no progress with the project since then. At least we don’t need to do any of the development work again – it’s just the stone part.

Despite the seat-sharing agreement for UP, Amar Singh made it clear that he will not accommodate all demands of the Congress. No such luxury for the Congress. Amar Singh wants a Padma Shri for Kalyan Singh and an Ashok Chakra for Sanjay Dutt.

Sickeningly, the Ram Sena and Bajrang Dal are fighting over who gets ‘credit’ for the Mangalore incident. Capitalizing on the situation, Sanjay Dutt is opening bids for anyone wanting to take credit for planting all those AK-47s in his basement in 1993.

Believe it or not, the Ram Sena also claims to have a suicide squad of its own ready. In all probability, it has already claimed its first victim – the BJP.

Pranab Mukherjee rushed to Sri Lanka yesterday to address the situation there. Is it just me or is anyone in charge of the Finance Ministry either getting hospitalized or running away to other countries?

Pranab said the purpose of his visit is to ensure that Tamil civilians are protected and do not become hapless victims of the two fighting factions. I can see the people of Mumbai throwing their arms up in the air already….

Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani has reiterated his government’s commitment to resolve all outstanding issues with India to usher in an era of peace. Once he resolves all outstanding issues with President Zardari, that is. Kashmir can wait.

Gilani also has deal with the fact that Islamabad has seceded from Pakistan and is now an independent state. How else do you explain the “findings” of Pakistan’s dossier on the 26/11 attacks?

The residents of Mumbai’s slums are not happy at being branded ‘slumdogs’. Its just one insult after the other. First, they were called Pakistanis. Now slumdogs. All that’s left is for AK Antulay to somehow connect them to the Malegaon blasts.

A woman in California gave birth to octuplets yesterday. Great. We now have 8 more Americans who wont be buying GM cars. In response, a resigned Obama hiked the bail-out bill further up to 900 billion.

Nandan Nilekani has authored a new book titled ‘Imagining India’. Really? Do we need more imagination in this country? We’ve had CEOs running companies with 13,000 ghost employees, 400 benami accounts and non-existent cash reserves of 7,000 crores. We’re doing O.K. with the imagination part, methinks.

Headlines: 26th January, 2009

Big Republic Day parade today. And a bigger security force of close to 20,000 men. Basically, we had the police protecting the Army, which was showcasing our military might. Ironic, eh? Am just glad we have the moral police around to take care of the rest of the country.

Good news. Doctors attending on Manmohan Singh post-operation said that he is “stable, comfortable and making rapid progress”. On the downside, we never go to say these three things about his tenure as Prime Minister.

The operation went well. Much better than the last bypass operation he was involved in. That ailment was brought about by leaning too much to The Left for 4 years.

RK Panda, a cardiac surgeon with Asian Heart Institute (AHI), led his team of doctors at the operation table. A bunch of outsiders at AIIMS? That should teach the AIIMS for having pushed for the quota system and ‘diluting’ its brand. Or…..was it the UPA??

When asked if Manmohan had been suffering from any stress, Pranab replied – “Some stress must be there. Otherwise, I don’t know why it has happened”. With statements so vague and lacking in investigation, he’s in danger of being mistaken for an auditor from PwC.

M & A news. Pfizer is buying rival drugmaker Wyeth in a $68 billion deal and will immediately follow it up with a bunch of lay-offs to shed the ‘excess fat’ resulting from the merger. This is where all the stockpiles of Lipitor come in handy.

Remember Gov Blagojevich? The one who tried to sell the Senate seat? Even as he got impeached, he compared himself to the likes of Mandela and Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi, I am guessing. She could very well be his role model.

Then again, if terrorists can use ‘Gandhigiri’ as the centerpiece of their political campaigns, why not politicians impeached on corruption and malpractice charges? I do think he’s like Gandhi and Mandela – in that he will be spending a lot of time in jail hereon.

The Padma lists are out. Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar, and environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna were on the list. So was Abhinav Bindra, for being our first Olympic Gold medalist. And Aishwarya Rai. Presumably, for this.

Sister Nirmala, from the Missionaries of Charity also got the nod. The moral of the story – it doesn’t really matter whether you claim Mother Teresa inspires you at a beauty pageant or actually get inspired by her. You get a Padmi Shri either way.

New game in town. Heard of the Kevin Bacon number? This one’s called Six Degrees of Amar Singh – wherein, your chances of winning a Padma Shri go up dramatically if you can be linked to Amar Singh in the least steps possible. The Congress might be corrupt, spineless and ineffective but its nothing if not grateful.

Lets take Aishwarya Rai. She is married to Abhishek. He is the son of Amitabh Bachchan. The Big B is a close friend of Amar Singh. That’s a mere 3 degrees of separation. No surprise she was on the list.

How about Akshay Kumar? He was in Aitraaz, produced by Subhash Ghai. Ghai directed Tina Munim in Karz. Tina is married to Anil Ambani. Anil has all but slept with Amar Singh. Fun game, isn’t it?

Israel’s government will provide legal protection to its military officers if they are accused of war crimes. War crimes? What war? Thousands of Palestinian citizens were slaughtered. Some Hamas militants got caught in the crossfire by mistake. There never was any war.

And don’t be surprised if Ehud Olmert, Israel’s PM gets nominated for a Padma Shri. Wondering how? Well, he is Obama’s pal. Barack appointed Hillary Secretary of State. She is married to Bill Clinton. And Amar Singh is so close to Bill that he’s donated millions of dollars to his charity. That’s 4 degrees. Not bad.

Want to try your hand at some of the other nominees? Harbhajan, Dhoni, Udit Narayan, Helen anyone?

Headlines: 23rd January, 2009

Big news! Steven Spielberg is going to shoot another sequel to the hit Jurassic Park series. But there will be no dinosaurs. Instead, PM candidates from the BJP and Congress for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections will represent the life forms from that era.

Yep. Look at the roll call from both sides – Advani, Vajpayee, Pranab Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh…..But the real scary part? John McCain would be the youngest contender at the polls if he ever opts to relocate here.

Several names being thrown about in the Congress for ’09. Pranab Mukherjee among them. Following decades of service to the Congress, he’s hopeful that he won’t be overlooked by Sonia. Much to his dismay, Asif Zardari called up Pranab today and asked him to stop ‘living in denial.’

And to stamp out any lingering embers of hope, Pranab has been handed the dreaded Finance Ministry post. That should seal his fate.

Advani has coined a new slogan for his party in the ’09 elections: ‘Give us your support; we promise you good governance’. He also has a new slogan for bridging diplomatic relations with Pakistan – ‘Give us Dawood and we promise to hand over Kalyan Singh’.

To counter the SP’s Sanjay Dutt nomination, the Congress will have Mohammad Azharuddin contest on its ticket. How about that? Closely observing developments, Pakistan demanded that India back this up with appropriate action and get them duly elected.

Manmohan will be out of action for up to five weeks after he undergoes a routine heart surgery operation on Saturday. Out for five weeks!! Surgeon RK Panda confessed that he had never come across a more cheerful patient at the operating table.

M. Karunanidhi has issued an ultimatum to the Centre threatening to withdraw support if it didn’t act on Lanka. He then warmly wished Manmohan good luck with his impending heart operation.

The DMK wants Lanka and the LTTE to arrive at a political solution through peaceful talks. Yeah right. How about trying to get Priya and Manyata Dutt on speaking terms first? Lets see if we can accomplish that.

Subramanian Swamy has chipped in his with his perspective. He reckons that the LTTE is not relevant in Lankan politics anymore, does not represent its people and is part of the problem, and not the solution. Ironically, the same arguments apply to the Janata Party in the Indian context.

Karunanidhi contends that, as a “great democracy”, India has the right to intervene and question ethnic violence in any part of the world. Meanwhile, both the Congress and BJP have taken strong objection to British Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s comments on our cross-border disputes with Pakistan.

India has indicated that it draws the line at the UK offering “solutions” to India’s internal problems. I’m glad we are the ones drawing lines. The last time an Englishman drew a line to solve an Indo-Pak dispute, things didn’t work out particularly well, did they?

Our stance is clear. Kashmir is an “internal” issue. We don’t need any advice / help from the US or UK. But when the same LeT militants (again with the help of the ISI), wreck havoc in Mumbai, we’ll demand that the US, UK and the rest of the international community take action to dismantle the terrorist camps. Go figure.

Following his criticism of Slumdog Millionaire’s unflattering portrayal of Mumbai, Amitabh Bachchan has also dismissed the importance of the Oscars from Bollywood’s perspective. Unless he is looking to get invited for a tea party at Raj Thackeray’s place, its not really clear what the Big B is trying to accomplish here.

To wrap up, a what-the-hell-was-the-editor-smoking-when-he-let-this-one-pass headline from the Indian Express : “Bollywood actress, Aussie troops: Afghan ‘sex scandal’ under probe.”

Headlines: 18th January, 2009

More signs that the recession is behind us. We are back to paying footballers 107 million pounds for kicking a ball between two posts.

Its celebration time in Washington. Rock concerts, lavish star-studded parties, 10 official inaugural balls, 150 million in expenses. And why not? The two wars in the Middle East have been won, the economy has recovered and unemployment rates are at an all-time low. Right?

In its defense, the Democratic Party claimed that the whole gala has been funded entirely by the back-taxes paid by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner last week.

Obama, and his supporters, made a grand entry in his private train as it passed from Philadelphia to the capital. He picked the train since he was less likely to be floating over the Hudson River 10 minutes into the ride. Smart.

Everyone’s excited about the Inauguration. There will be new policies and faces at Washington. Not to mention, new lips, breasts, noses, hips….

Yep. Before the big Inaug, the demand for “cosmetic procedures” has shot up in Washington. So one can expect a whole bunch of people at the event hiding their real ugly selves behind artificially erected facades. And that’s not even counting Congressmen, mind you.

Narendra Modi has been touted as a future PM by top industrialists following the 10% GDP growth in Gujrat’s economy over his tenure. It should be mentioned that his state has also achieved a 10% growth in the MDP (Minority Deaths in the Population) during this period.

On his part, LK Advani has showered praise on Modi and assured him he will have his turn as the Prime Minister of India one day. That’s pretty sweet, and decidedly delusional, coming from someone who’s been waiting 81 years for his turn.

Congress Spokesperson Manish Tiwari compared Narendra Modi with Adolf Hitler, branding him a fascist and a ruthless dictator. Modi hit back saying that flattery would not get the Congress anywhere as he was committed to the BJP.

Pranab Mukherjee has again accused Pakistan of ‘living in denial’ over 26-11. In unrelated news, he says he’s confident that the Satyam scam is definitely an ‘isolated incident’.

As part of its investigation, Pakistan is likely to want to speak with Amir Ajmal Kasab soon. Should be fairly simple – just return his cellphone and SIM card. They know his number and everything.

Wipro is arguing that it had not bribed World Bank employees. It had merely handed them gifts, also euphemistically termed ‘facilitating payments’. This has set a bad precedent. Ramalinga Raju now wants to re-classify his fraud at Satyam as a ‘subtle strategic subterfuge’.

In his blog, Amitabh Bachchan has slammed the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ for projecting the “dirty underbelly” of Mumbai (and India, by extension). Its funny, cause he can call up his good friend Amar Singh and tell him the same thing about nominating Sanjay Dutt for the Lucknow seat.

This is interesting. An oil painting by Vladimir Putin got picked up for more than a million dollars at a charity auction in St.Petersburg yesterday. Wow! The extent to which the EU will go to make Russia resume gas supplies to the region…

Headlines: 14th January, 2009

Good news folks! The job market is looking up and companies are hiring again. Just today on Naukri.com, I saw openings for the positions of CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, VPs, and Directors at Satyam Computers. Recession? What recession?

The government has taken charge at Satyam and plans to replace the entire Board of Directors with its own nominees. Ostensibly, with the aim of avoiding any further shocks going forward. Makes sense. When was the last time any of us got shocked when reading about corrupt government officials?

The Centre is also planning a 2,000 crore salary bailout for the 53,000 Satyam employees. This sends out the right message. Namely, if you are the CEO of a large MNC, feel free to siphon off all the company’s cash reserves and profits with a clear conscience. Your employees will be somehow taken care of.

On the plus side, Infosys intends to honour all the campus offers it made for 2009. A marked difference to Satyam, where it’ll be more along the lines of ‘Yes your Honour, No your Honour’.

After the revelations about Satyam, it’s the turn of Wipro to be banned by the World Bank, for bribing its employees. Shows you how business models have changed at banks – nowadays, they are taking in money rather than lending it out.

One Supreme Court judge, along with 11 high court judges in the Ghaziabad judiciary have been accused of using court funds for making expensive personal purchases. They are likely to be fired with immediate effect and sent where they belong. To form the new Board of Directors at Satyam.

Prince Harry is in a spot of bother for calling a Pakistani Army Captain a ‘Paki’ in a home video. Its a derogatory term, apparently. I believe the politically correct term is ‘non-state actor’.

Pakistan has dismissed the 26-11 dossier submitted by India as ‘information’, not proof. They want us to be more extensive with the investigation and provide more documentary evidence. I know what you’re thinking. If only the auditors from PwC were this thorough…

Former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje has been accused of corruption and arrested in connection with the Deendayal Upadhyay Trust land scam. In her defense, she was probably stuck riding a galloping camel not knowing how to get off without a parachute.

In his role as UN Ambassador, Sanjay Dutt could get a chance to meet Barack Obama. Great. That should put an end to all talk of Obama ‘palling around’ with terrorists.

Finally some solid evidence for the existence of parallel universes. Right here on planet earth. Both the SL Army and the LTTE released statements claiming to have achieved a string of major victories against each other. Right now, both armies are simultaneously in-charge of Kilinochchi. A classic win-win situation.

The new ‘Kings Button’ iPhone 3G, made with gold and diamonds, is now available for a cool $3 million!! Unfortunately, the steep price tag means that the market for the product is very niche. Under present economic conditions, only auditors, Somalian pirates, Supreme Court judges and AIG executives can afford it.

This is touching. Manmohan Singh had sent a personally signed New Year greeting card, featuring a dove, to Pakistan President Zardari. It almost worked. Till he chose to sign off with ‘To my dear Paki friend’.

The Secret Diary of Narayana Murthy

Forget David Copperfield and Criss Angel. The world’s best illusionist has been living in India all along. Our very own Ramalinga Raju. A 5-page letter, and 7,000 crores of shareholder wealth disappears overnight. Try topping that. Of course, we are all astonished. But shouldn’t industry insiders have suspected something? Take Narayana Murthy. Over the years, he made several entries in his personal diary about Satyam and Ramalinga Raju that, on hindsight, indicate that something was up. Some select passages that are of interest:

Note: In his diary, Narayana Murthy refers to Ramalinga Raju by his pet name ‘Rama’.

January 3rd, 2002: At the Nasscom Leadership Forum
…. bunch of clichés. Talk then turned to Enron. Azim confessed to be being shocked by the whole affair. I was too. We all agreed that this was NOT an isolated case of mis-governance. Foreign investors need to be wary of American companies going forward. Surprisingly, Rama opined that competitive pressures can push CEO’s into a corner. He then muttered something about Kenneth Lay piggybacking on an Orangutan and not knowing how to get off without finding a banana to distract it. He was despicably drunk. He then started laughing so hard that he almost fell off his chair. ‘Why on earth would anyone go to the trouble of creating a bunch of offshore entities merely to hide ones losses?’ he asked us, still breathing hard. I agreed with him. It was utterly unethical and Enron would have been well served to come clean a lot earlier. Rama went into one of his laughing fits again. What about the shareholders, Azim pointed out. Rama continued, rather cynically, that shareholders were leeches who don’t do any of the work but boss you around just because they loaned some money. I ignored him for the rest of the day. Besides, my presentation on ‘The IT boom in India – Myth or Reality?” was up next…..

May 14th, 2004
The NDA lost the elections comprehensively. I did predict as much to Sudha. Why choose to highlight the success in the IT sector when the rest of India is plunged in darkness? In fact, I am worried about our Earnings Announcement next week. Uncertain global economic conditions are forcing clients to reduce spending on technology in the short term. Expectedly, it has led to a decline on several key operational metrics at Infosys. I hope investors appreciate the fact that Infosys cannot sustain its growth rate of 30% Y-o-Y regardless of market conditions. Satyam is also announcing its results this week, which makes it worse. They never post anything less than 40%. My admiration for Rama continues to grow with each passing day. He handles pressure like a seasoned campaigner. If I am to be the President someday, I need to manipulate politicians as skillfully as he does. Rama practically has Chandrababu Naidu eating out his hand. How I wish I could throw away this balance sheet and take an empty piece of paper and fill it with the numbers I want to see. If Satyam posts 40% growth, we’ll declare 45%. Maybe I’ll round it off to 50%. If only life were that simple.

January 10th, 2005
….I should drop off a congratulatory note to Rama about his son launching Maytas Properties, Inc. Looks like a promising venture. ‘Maytas’ is Satyam in reverse apparently. If Satyam means Truth, what does that say about Maytas? Should remember to include this witty observation in my note.

June 3rd, 2006
This is getting annoying. Nandan tells me that we lost another project to Satyam. Big fish. General Electric. Our quote was a reasonable 120 Crores. We had no chance though. Satyam offered to do it for 25,000 rupees. I wonder how Rama pulls this off. His team consistently underbids for projects and snatches Tier-1 clients from under our noses. Satyam employs half the number of people we do but operates on an enviable 25% margin. Truly remarkable productivity. Maybe we are not working hard enough. Our assets walk out of the door each evening and we have to make sure that they come back the next morning. I know that. It was my quote. But it’s a lot easier to have them in their seats next morning if they don’t leave overnight. I’ll call up Nandan tomorrow and ask him to announce revised working hours at Infosys. We have to beat Satyam at its own game.

April 8th, 2007
Today was a disaster. Instead of focusing on Kalam’s speech endorsing my Presidential credentials, the instrumental version of Jana Gana Mana we played snowballed into a controversy. If I know anything about this country at all, the media will be baying for my blood unless I apologize within 24 hours.

July 25th, 2007
Pratibha Patil was sworn in today. Maybe I should just forget about the Presidency and focus on my speaking assignments and charities. Sudha reminded me about the shining example in my own sector, Ramalinga Raju. Here is someone whose company has been growing remarkably in the last decade – share value, market cap, revenues etc. And contrary to expectations, he has been steadily divesting his stake in the firm and donating the proceeds to charity. Last time I checked the shareholding pattern, his equity in Satyam was down to 8%, compared with 25% in 2001. Rama assures me that every single paisa went to charity. Not a single family member or friend got any of it. He runs one of the most promising companies in India, with sound fundamentals, and yet his commitment to the poor outweighs everything else. Clearly, he knows something the rest of us don’t. Namely, that money isn’t everything in life. Such selflessness in this day and age is rare indeed. Wish there were more like him.

November 22nd, 2007
Earlier today, I rang up Rama to congratulate him on winning the E & Y Entrepreneur of the Year award. Rama said he was flattered to be the recipient of an award that I had previously won in 2003. Now it was my turn to be flattered. He then asked me to hang on for 5 minutes, since the auditing team from PwC had dropped by. I understood and offered to call him back tomorrow. These audits can be brutal. But he put me on hold and as promised, he was done in 5 minutes. I asked him jokingly if he just handed them a prepared version of the statements. There was complete silence for 10 seconds before he spoke again. Rama indicated that he did not find it funny. Productivity and efficiency are the cornerstones around which Satyam was built, he barked. He also pointed out his internal audit team had received the “Recognition of Commitment Award” from The Institute of Internal Auditors, (USA) last year. Of course, I knew that. He did not have to get all defensive over a harmless quip. I reminded him that I had called him about an award in the first place. I concluded the call by saying that the future of the IT sector was in safe hands.

December 12th, 2008
…. After lunch, I belatedly called up Rama to congratulate him on Satyam winning the ‘Golden Peacock’ award for Corporate Governance. He conceded that it was long overdue. The award, not my call. More importantly, he was looking forward to throwing this at the World Bank’s face. He confessed that he had taken the bribery charges personally and couldn’t sleep at night thinking about it. I conveyed my sympathies. It’s the likes of Bernie Madoff who give the rest of us a bad name, I offered. Rama joked about this decade turning into an elaborate tribute to Charles Ponzi. I mentioned Enron and WorldCom. Rama was adamant that Madoff was much more serious. The scale of the fraud was so much bigger. 50 billion dollars! For decades!! A single man hoodwinking the system for decades, he re-iterated. I had to stop him since I detected a touch of admiration in his voice. Hundreds of investors, including Pension Funds, had lost their all money, I retorted. Rama mumbled something about how Bernie Madoff was stuck riding an Iberian Ox and couldn’t get off without the animal chewing up his beard. I hung up the phone.

December 18th, 2008
……An equally rough two days for Rama. The markets did not take the news of his planned acquisition of the Maytas firms well. To a layman, it does look like an unrelated diversification. But Maytas Properties has been doing stellar business. It recently secured the Hyderabad Metro deal for a whopping 12,000 crores. And as one would expect, the losing parties are crying foul about bribery and land scams involving the state government. Can drive anyone to despair. Besides, my good friend Rammohan Rao chaired the Board meeting where they decided to go ahead with the proposed takeover. I suppose the Dean of ISB is a complete moron? That seems to be the implication. What about corruption? I am sure there will be sections of the media accusing him of colluding with Rama. The bottomline – the Dean of India’s premier MBA institute is a complete moron and corrupt. Will that make everybody happy? Or would he have to resign? It just gets sadder with every passing day in this country. The least they can do is give entrepreneurs the freedom to do what they do best.

December 31st, 2008
Unsettling developments over the last 2 weeks. Maybe the Dean of ISB is a complete moron. And possibly, corrupt. But I can still see some merit in the deal. Why let 5,000 crores of cash reserves idle in the bank? Why do shareholders want Rama to pretend that the amount is non-existent and lay off it? It’s like riding a tortoise and expecting it to go faster without twisting the tail. If you have extra cash, then make optimum use of it. In any case, hope things turn for the better in 2009. Not just for Rama, but all of us. May God be with us all.