In this blog, I intend to write my thoughts on things happening around me, the news I see in the TV, something I read or anything that captures my attention. I will try to avoid the effect of everyday ups and downs of my personal life on the contents of the blog.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Michael Jackson - God-of-pop

Kid: Grandpa! Who is god?
Grandpa: Hmm...let me try to explain. God is someone who is neither black nor white, neither woman nor a man and he loves little kids like you a lot.
Kid: Why don't you simply say, it's Michael Jackson.

His public life story is a parallel to any fairy tale that we get to hear. A la Cinderella who came from a family with reportedly abusive father and 9 siblings. He came to the city, turned to a prince became the king and ruled the world owning the best, built a dream land, married a princess...pause...it's here generally the fairy tales finish as '...and lived happily ever after' and nobody questions 'what happened to them later?'

The Internet is load tested with searches from all over the planet on him and his story so I will not repeat it here but just record some of my observations, opinions and learnings from the life of a legend who I call the 'God-of-pop'.

I was a boy in early teens during his hay days. Living in a country far from where he performed didn't stop me and millions of my generation and generations that follow from being his fan. I still have the audio cassettes that were released by Grammy with his Billie Jean and Thriller albums. Even today when I shake a leg for any tune I subconsciously step into his shoes and imitate him (try to). As they say, 'Imitation is the best form of flattery', Michael is the most imitated person to ever (moon) walk on this planet. And as they also say, 'many can imitate, none can duplicate' - him. He was the first pop-star I saw who tried so much to bring awareness and gather support for people who are struggling in poorer countries or to spread message of peace and unity. His 'heal the world' could very well be proclaimed as an anthem of UN, it is my proposal to do so.

In my opinion he struggled to handle his super stardom and though he chose to live a recluse life he relied on many people to maintain his private world, and we know how it works. It reminds me of lyrics from one of the songs of Eurythmics that had won a Grammy during his times.

....Everybody's looking for something
Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them
want to be abused.....

His later life was nothing but pain. When everyone would've loved to swap their life to his during the 80s, beyond the 90s people almost tried to avoid his association. Fuelled by envy and greed, he was in the news for all wrong reasons which was difficult for die hard fans like me to digest. I
am not rejecting all of the stories as false nor do I see any strong evidences to agree too but I just sympathize for such a great entertainer who had to go through all these while we missed all the good things that he could've produced without such distractions.

Because of his closely guarded life, he will ever be a mystery and there will be hundreds of stories about him that will be floated around by people either seeking a 30 seconds to fame or revealing the facts when its too late. In my opinion I believe he feared death and wanted to defy nature and stay young forever while nature was in his case playing 'porcupine's needle', the more you fiddle, the sooner and deeper it will affect. He tried to build his own world of his lost childhood behind the gates of his property failing to understand that there is no rewind button in the video player called 'life'.

It is painful to see him go away while the world was excited about his come-back but in my opinion this is how a star must vanish, big bang, at his peak. The value would have faded had he finished his tour, paid his debts and announced a graceful retirement with an eroding health that wouldn't have let him continue for long.

The album 'Thriller' that catapulted him to the top of the world had a theme of full moon and werewolf and I am not sure if anyone noticed that coincidentally the day of his memorial service 7/7/2009 was a penumbra lunar eclipse.

Bidding a final good-bye to a 11 year old man who dared to become a 50 year old boy

Michael Jackson - the legend - A modern fairy tale that ends as...did not live happily ever after*

* - Hope you will be left to R.I.P from now on

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Barack 'Union leader' Obama

Obama has tried to appease his troubled countrymen with bills that could calm down the rhetoric on outsourcing and job creation. These announcements sounds more like a labor union leader's speech than anything that is practically viable. 

The bullets:

1. U.S citizens are under skilled for certain jobs
2. There is a clear shortage of eligible man-power needed for the jobs outsourced
3. Cost arbitrage

There were 2 important announcements that came out from mid April to early May'09. 

The more popular was what I call Obama's 'Bangalore-Buffalo doctrine'. While this created more news in the US for the mention of Buffalo than Bangalore it is more a taxation restructure as a disincentive to American companies creating jobs abroad. This is not seen as a big threat by people who are in the industry. The cost advantage despite this will still stay an advantage. It is a step to discourage movement of jobs out of the country. It is not long ago that Obama preached improvement of education in US for the American kids to compete with Asians. I appreciated him for it as that will be the correct approach for a permanent solution to abridge the domestic demand-supply gap. Now, I believe the economic pressure he is in has forced him to try such band-aid measures.

The other one is the prevention of companies that received money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) from hiring any of the foreign workers under the H1B visa program. It is again suicidal. If you cannot get the right skills, you cannot implement your solutions effectively and cannot improve your performance and so cannot repay tax-payers money. This is now looking to be easened from 'prevention' to 'difficult' level. A flavor of it is stopping companies hire more H1B if they already have 50% of employees through this. I think this will hurt Indian IT(ES) companies more than the former. As of 2006 data Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Satyam used over 15,000 H1B and inclduing other Indian companies the numbers would cross 20K.

So putting these together, it is a potential pinch to countries who took the H1B advantage but the government will face stiff resistance and strong lobbying from the US companies affected and Republicans. It is to be understood that it is free market economy we are in, a theory practiced and preached by US as long as it worked for them. It has become a part of the DNA of entrepreneurs of US. Such socialistic protectionism ideas will not be welcome by the stakeholders who look at the bottom line. 

Between GE, Citibank and IBM alone there are close to 100,000 employees in India and they will not walk away from such huge investments just for the change in tax structure. Countries like India and China too will work on counter measures by offering more incentives for the companies to stay and continue providing employment. They could also resort to favoritism (which I hope they don't) by preferring domestic IT companies over US companies to bid for their public sector projects which would be a big $ billion business.

However, this is a good wake-up call to the majority of the companies in India and China who've been enjoying the highly paid lesser value jobs outsourced for cost reasons. It is already a bit late to move up the value chain and if they don't work now on it, it will be a missed bus that could next choose to stop at Vietnam or Bangladesh. It is then that these countries would understand the emotions of people who loose their jobs to foreigners.

I am confident that Obama and his team will try all possible approaches to advantage US and bring a quick economic recovery to the country and indirectly to the world. These policies are a part of these attempts. We need to wait and watch if they really help.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Let this tiger go extinct

LTTE (popularly called 'The Tigers') - The most controversial and dreaded term/group for over 3 decades from the south of India to the deep pockets of Malaysia and anywhere in the world with a substantial population of Tamil speaking people.

Started in the late 70s, this seperatist group under the leadership of its founder V.Prabhakaran grew like a weed spreading across its ideology and crippling growth wherever it found a foot hold. For reasons of ethnicity and political supremacy this group found patronage from India which later proved too costly.

Just being one of the Tamil groups of the country taking up arms, demanding more power for Tamils of the land was considered as ineffective so this group cannibalized on other fellow Tamil groups over the years. This was done partially to eliminate the possibility of a compromised settlement short of winning a Tamil land which was beccoming the top most priority of Prabhakaran and partially to eliminate competition if such a dream comes true. Repeated attempts by countries like India and Norway to bring a peaceful end to the decades of bloody misery of the civilians has been futile. LTTE has a pattern of extending an arm for peace when the hand runs out of ammunitions and gets back to their tricks once they recuperate from losses, dirtier and bloodier than before.

Quick list of famous crimes by LTTE

  • Alfred Duraiappah, mayor of Jaffna (1975)

  • Rajeev Gandhi, Prime Minister of India (1991)

  • Ranjan Wijeratne, Sri Lankan cabinet minister and former general (1991)

  • Ranasinghe Premadasa, President of Sri Lanka (1993)

  • Gamini Dissanayake, Sri Lankan presidential candidate (1994)

  • Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sri Lankan foreign minister, lawyer and international humanitarian (2005)

  • Major Gen. Parami Kulatunga, third-highest ranking officer in the Sri Lankan Army(2006)

  • Nadaraja Raviraj, Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian (2006)

  • Chandrika Kumaratunga, President of Sri Lanka (failed attempt-2006)

  • Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka army chief of staff (failed attempt-2006)

  • Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Secretary of the Sri Lanka defense ministry (failed
    attempt- 2006)
Initially, suspected to be trained by Israeli Mosad on guerilla warfare, LTTE must get the credit for pineering and mastering the art of suicide bombing. It runs a strong group called 'nizhal' (translates to 'shadow' in English) for suicide missions. They are also proved to have used minor children for front line combats.

LTTE is the only terrorist group in the world known to have a fleet of ships, anti-aircraft guns, air force, surface-to-air missiles and even a submarine. A submarine was captured by Indian Navy in 1992. Long before 9/11, IPKF unearthed a micro light manufacturing unit that was used by LTTE to customize light aircrafts for suicide missions. The nature of Al-Qaeda's 1991 attack on USS Cole suggests cross group relationships and exchange of expertise.

The LTTE attack on the World Trade Centre in Sri Lanka was followed by attacks by al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center in New York. The LTTE's use of a women's section has being copied by al-Qaeda and Chechen terrorists, for example the "Black Widows" who played a role in the Moscow theater hostage crisis and have carried out suicide bombings. Attacks on civilians in buses and trains in Sri Lanka are similar to the al-Qaeda attacks on public civilian transport during the July 2005 bombings in London.

The other side of the ugly face of LTTE is its political arm. With the rapid fall of the military wing it could be this arm (as in the deadly arm of an octopus) that could help the organization stay alive. The challenge being the political wing having penetrated Tamil speaking population all over the globe and working undercover it takes greater strategy to weed out their function and choke support for any survival attempt. While the military efforts depends mostly on the arms power of Sri Lankan government the political efforts would take a greater co-operation by the international community mainly India it's closest neighbour and fellow sufferer of the LTTE menace.

Learning from its IPKF experience and Rajiv Gandhi assasination India must stay resolved not to physically interfere in the internal war of Sri Lanka and fervently crush any attempts within its borders to muster support for LTTE which India had banned and branded a terrorist organization. This is also a lesson to India on dealing with terrorism with zero tolerance limits.

Congratulating the Sri Lankan government on their successful capture of Kilinochi and wishing them for a continued success until finish on this war on terror I hope that this particular species of 'The tiger' goes extinct forever.