Times of India | 26 January 2003

Our government's recent decision on dual nationality did not assuage my feelings of unease, and I continue to agonize over the loss of our best and brightest to the West. I ask myself, does it matter if highly skilled Indians leave? Certainly, I celebrate the success of the Hyderabadi software engineer who makes good in Silicon Valley--she has enhanced the respect for Indians everywhere, and there is no loss in that. But my experience in running a business is that skilled talent is the scarcest commodity in the world and everyone is in a hunt for it. Ask any CEO of a reasonable sized company and he will tell you about the long evenings he has spent trying to persuade a good candidate to join his company. The same goes for nations. America's success is measured not only by its economic or military might but because it is able to attract the best talent from the world.

Read more
Times of India | 12 January 2003

Two Sundays ago, reluctantly, I concluded that after the Gujarat elections we have no alternative but to start a political movement to focus single-mindedly on governance, reforms and performance. Reluctantly, I say, because the last thing we need in India is a new political party. The psephologist, Dorab Sopariwala, tells us that 177 parties contested the last parliamentary election and 94 parties got a combined vote of less than 0.005 per cent; 139 parties did not win a single seat, and 12 parties got one seat. Hence, I was careful in saying that we should start a movement and when it acquired sufficient mass it could become a political party.

Read more
Times of India | 30 December 2002

Once again the BJP seems to be learning the wrong lessons from history. It thinks that Gujarat is India in miniature, and it is getting ready to unroll the Hindutva wave in the next assembly elections at great peril to the nation. It doesn't realize that the ordinary citizen in the rest of the country cares far more about day-to-day governance and not nationalism or even terrorism. The election results in Gujarat highlight my dilemma and that of the average Indian voter: we can no longer vote for the BJP because the politics of Hindutva and hate do not appeal to us; nor do we trust the Congress to give us the clean governance that we so desperately seek. So, whom do we vote for?

Read more
Times of India | 02 December 2002

My friends in the corporate world tell me that India managers, especially in accounting firms, are confused and demoralized after the governance scandals in America involving Enron, Anderson and others. Their situation is, of course, nothing compared to the devastation wrought to the morale of the American manager, and I observed this at ringside over several days when I was recently with a dozen senior managers in Chicago.

Read more
Times of India | 18 November 2002

The Bhagavad Gita is like white noise in our society. By this I mean that it is part of the background din of our lives, quoted platitudinously, and masking rather than provoking thought. Technically, white noise like white light contains all the frequencies and is used to hide other sounds--the way one uses a fan sometimes to shut out the noise of traffic in order to sleep. In the same way the Gita's presence is imperceptible yet comforting, like the random sounds of a Hindi film song in the bazaar.

Read more
Times of India | 21 October 2002

Arun Shourie, our minister for disinvestment, was a year ahead of me in school. We attended an NCC camp together, and on the last day took part in a variety show, where the local commanding general was our chief guest. Some sang, others performed a skit, and Shourie decided to recite a long Urdu poem. During the interminable recitation the general started to fidget. His solicitous ADC noticed it, and tried to catch Shourie's eye. At first Shourie ignored him, but then he stopped abruptly. In a soft, polite, but firm voice, the 15-year-old Shourie said that if the general had another pressing engagement, his eminence was welcome to leave, and the show would go on.

Read more
Times of India | 07 October 2002

We lived in Mexico City for four years in the late seventies, and there learned an important civic virtue: how to name our streets. Our first home was in a neighbourhood called Polanco, where all the streets were named after writers, and Shakespeare, Dickens, Tagore and other literary greats surrounded us. We lived on the corner of La Fontaine and Homer, while our friends lived between Dante and Cervantes.  To visit a colleague a few blocks away I had to cross Tolstoy, Goethe, Jane Austen and Ibsen. Once I got lost in the colony and by the time I found myself I had received a comprehensive lesson in world literature.

Read more
Times of India | 23 September 2002

Although the strident criticism against American fast food has died and 34 McDonald's restaurants have quietly opened in India, critics of globalisation don't tire of reminding us that the world is increasingly becoming a copy of America. McDonald's amazing success in a hundred countries has impressed business students for years, but to others the expression McWorld conjures scary images of cultural imperialism and a uniform, standardised, homogenized consumer world.

Read more
Times of India | 09 September 2002

An extraordinary thing happened this summer whose significance has escaped almost everyone. While the nation was engrossed in petrol pumps, Shivani's murder, and other weighty matters, Wipro, the software company in Bangalore, quietly bought Spectramind, a call centre in Delhi, from ChrysCapital, a venture capital fund. The call centre was valued at Rs 606 crores and this landmark event sent a strong positive signal to the global financial world that India may finally be coming of age.

Read more