Saturday, December 25, 2010 4 comments

10 Good Books I read in 2010

Merry Christmas everyone. What an eventful year it has been. I guess the special thing about 2010 is that representatives of the 5 most powerful nations in the world have visited India. But I guess this year will also be remembered for all the Corruption Scandals. We also had a few Mega Sporting Events[ FIFA World Cup, CWG and Asian Games], and India has managed to deliver on all fronts.

As for me personally, I have got the first MBA interview call of my life, from IIFT. But that is left for another day.

Lets end this year with a Happy Post:

Am listing down the names of 10 books which I read in 2010, which really impressed me and made me sit up and think.

So here are the names of the books, the author, and the category. In no particular order:

1) India After Gandhi, By Ramachandra Guha- History/Non-Fiction. Deals with the history of India in the year range 1948-2007. Very well written. In one word- Unputdownable.

2) Simply Fly : A Deccan Story, By Captain Gopinath.- Autobiography. Deals with the life history of Captain Gopinath, founder of Deccan Airlines. A Must read for all budding entrepreneurs.

3) A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson- Science. Deals with, erm, everything. Basically a book which tries to explain the mystery of life and planet Earth. Deals with Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, Mathematics, Paleontology, etc. Has interesting anecdotes on scientists. Written in a layman’s language. Easily one of the best books I have ever read, it’s an award winner[Amongst Top 25 books of the decade]. If you miss this one, you have missed a lot.

4) Serious Men, By Manu Joseph – Fiction. I have not yet finished this novel, but considering that it’s the winner of the Hindu Literary awards 2010, its definitely a must read. It’s a light novel. No complications.

5) Connect the Dots, By Rashmi Bansal- Non-Fiction. Story of 20 entrepreneurs who launched their ventures without possessing an MBA degree. Highly inspiring book.

6) Goal, By E. Goldratt- Management. One of the all time best selling Management novels, Goal is simply a must read for all aspiring managers. Written in such a way that even a school student will understand the principles behind throughput, inventory and operational expenses.

7) Buyology by Martin Lindstrom, -Marketing. This is a superb book which combines the aspect of marketing with psychological behavior of customers.

8) Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell- Non-Fiction. Great book which deals with the question- ‘Why some people are famous and most are ordinary?’

9) Why Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson- Self Help. Tells us on accepting change and moving on in life. More than a million copies in print. Enough said!

10) The Google Story, by David A. Vise- Non-Fiction/Biography. Deals with the rise and rise of the one of the World’s Biggest companies- Google.

Apart from the ones I have mentioned, there are other good books too. Like Gladwells The Tipping Point, What the Dog Saw, Blink. Am currently reading The Discovery of India, by Jawarhal Nehru which is also an interesting read. Next I shall cover The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen, and will continue with the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, Jason Bourne series by Eric Van Lustbader, and The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. Lots of reading to do.

Wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year in advance.
Thursday, December 16, 2010 6 comments

Life of an Average Indian Male- Part 3

*Continued From Previous Post

Last we remember, Raj had joined an average I.T. company. He moved into a house as a P.G. The food sucked, and the place was awfully hot. Still, he tried to get used to the new environment. However the workplace had another nasty surprise in store for him.

Raj was unlucky enough to have a demon in disguise of a boss. From the worst day onwards he was treated like a slave, made to work incessantly for 12 hours at a stretch. Even when he finally trudged back to his apartment, he would still have some work left over for the day. The work kept on piling, and Raj was handed one assignment after the other. He scarcely had time to eat, let alone relax or entertain himself. Moreover, he did not get along well with his colleagues. Most were engineers from Tier-3 colleges who did not understand anything about the work or the project they were working on. At max, they could perform Control+C/Control+V jobs. Raj himself found it quite difficult to cope up with an I.T. environment, though at least he knew the basics. However working on a Java environment was tough for him. Still he slogged on, day in and night, without any breaks.

Raj lost track of time. His state became even more disheveled than before. 6 months passed, an year, and then two. There was no scope of any promotion and Raj hardly got an increment in his salary. Perks were few and far in between. But the worst part was the monotonous nature of the job. He had done practically the same thing every day, each week for the past 2 years. And now he was fed up. He desperately wanted a change from this hectic work routine. He couldn’t even remember when he had last gone to watch a movie or taken a day off. Plus all this work was taking a grave toll on his health. The smoking and drinking did not help either, apart from relieving his momentary tensions.

One fine day, as Raj was wondering around the aisle of his office floor, he noticed 2 of his colleagues talking in low tones. He tried to get closer without looking conspicuous. He was a bit surprised to see them solving Mathematical problems in their exercise books. That was clearly not related to the work they were supposed to be doing. It was then that the word MBA struck his ear. Raj gathered his nerves and spoke to the two guys about their current occupation. They admitted that they were preparing for MBA entrance exams during their work hours. Moreover they remarked such a practice was common throughout the country, as many I.T. professionals avoided work to prepare for MBA exams. Raj was suddenly excited. He could feel the old enthusiastic feeling of his pre-college years come back to him. This was what he needed, to rise the corporate ladder, to get a decent salary, a resplendent house, a beautiful girlfriend, maybe even the Honda City he had dreamed of. And the key to achieve his dreams was this simple degree- MBA. Why hadn’t he thought about it earlier?

Without wasting any more time, Raj enrolled for Sunday classes at a local coaching institute. He spared 2-3 hours every Sunday for the classes, and tried to revise the basics of English and Mathematics whenever he could get time. He started slacking off in his work, so that he could concentrate on his work. Mock test season started, and Raj started taking mocks, confident that he would be amongst the best students in the country. However, to his shock, he could only manage a paltry 77 percentile in his first test. Frustration grew and so did Raj’s anger. Now he started ignoring his friends, family. He had only one goal in life- MBA from a top institute. He solved as many problems he could. But try as hard as he might, he could never go above 85 percentile in mocks. ‘Forget it, I will score well in the actual CAT exam,’ Raj consoled himself.

CAT came and went. So did 5 other competitive exams for which Raj appeared. Now came the agonizing wait for the results. Finally, the D-day arrived. 89.37 percentile overall in CAT. Raj felt as if someone had shot an arrow which pierced his heart. How on earth could he have scored so low? 3 of his colleagues had scored above 98 percentile and had resigned from their jobs. Raj was mad with envy. However, he still filled up the forms of a few 2-tier Bschools, and managed to secure admission in an average Bschool, which offered decent placements[according to the prospectus]. Raj was so desperate for a profile change that he did not bother to inquire about the details of the bschool.

Finally, Raj bade his dull I.T. job goodbye. ‘Its time to go back to school,’ he smiled.

Fast forward 2 years into the future.

‘Sales and Trading? What on earth is it?,’ asked Rahul, Raj’s cousin.

‘I have no idea. But the company was paying well, so I opted for it,’ Raj replied.

‘But are you sure it’s the right choice? Will you like the job if you don’t even know what you are supposed to do?’

‘Does not matter. Whatever it is, it will be better than that damn I.T. job, am sure of it.’

Saying this Raj took up his new job.

2 months later.

‘What is all this crap? What on earth am I doing here? All this finance numbers and additional accounts data makes no sense to me at all,’ Raj moaned. ‘Corporate finance? Banking regulations? Its all nonsense to me. Is it so hard to find a job which one may like doing?’

‘But how could this happen to me? MBA was supposed to bring me riches, and unlock the gates of happiness and wealth. Everyone is running after it, so it should be a valuable degree. But I am feeling just as miserable, if not worse in this new job. Just what on earth went wrong?’

Indeed, what went wrong with Raj? Or, to generalize, what is wrong with majority of the Indian youth? How come most of them are not satisfied with their jobs/present situation, even after passing from decent Engineering and MBA colleges? We shall discuss all such pertinent issues in a future post. But now is the time to end Raj’s story. Thank you all for your patience.
Friday, December 3, 2010 1 comments

Life of an Average Indian Male- Part 2

*Continued From Previous Post

So Raj finally begins his much awaited college life- he longs to enter the door into freedom. Now he will be free to do what he wishes. Now he can party whole night long without any restrictions. Now he is free to experiment with smoking, drinking and sex. Now he can freely bunk classes without fear of punishment. And what about studying? That too, subjects on Instrumentation engineering? No ways!

For starters, he isn’t really sure why he is studying instrumentation engineering in the first place. He isn’t even sure why he is in an engineering college. It’s just that most of his friends have chosen engineering, and he just decided to go along with the flow. Raj doesn’t care. He’s entered college, now he is going to have fun and meet beautiful girls. He’s a bit apprehensive about ragging however. Nevertheless he shifts into the hostel and eagerly waits for the first day to begin.

First day in college- Raj finds out where his classes are held and begins the day on a good note. Some of his school friends are in the same class with him. But there comes the first shock- In a class of 60 students, there are just 5 females. That too, none of them were worth giving a second glance. Whatever happened to the hot girls shown in colleges in the Hindi movies? ‘Hindi movies are all crap,’ he says to himself dejectedly. So he is going to spend 4 years like this? Worse, the teachers are horrible, and he falls into a slumber 30 minutes into the first class itself. He has basic electrical engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, English and basic Mechanics in the first semester. Mathematics is all right, but he hates all other subjects from the start. ‘Come on.’ He says to his classmates. ‘Why on earth should an Instrumentation engineer study mechanics and chemistry? And what use is engineering drawing to us? How can such funny symbols help us in any way?’

‘Dude, all engineering students need to do them. Not just you,’ his friend remarks. Raj is disappointed. But he doesn’t know yet that things are going to get worse.

The seniors drop in for a casual visit. Except it isn’t that casual after all. The ragging period stretches on for a month, and Raj is forced to do all sort of nefarious things which he never thought he would have to. Add to that the dull, insipid classes and the rotten hostel food. On top of it, his room is hot as hell, without any ventilation, and there isn’t even a proper playground nearby. ‘What mess have I gotten myself into?’, he exclaims. ‘Is college life supposed to be like this?’ Before long, Raj is fed up. Thankfully, the ragging period gets over after a month. But the vapid classes continue. Raj fails to find any good looking girl in the entire campus. The few decent ones are already committed. And thanks to the 90:10 ratio[male:female], he gives up trying his luck.

‘It’s as if all guys want to get into engineering and all good looking girls want to stay far away from engineering colleges. It’s so unfair’, he moans. Frustrated beyond all control, and fed up of staying single his entire life Raj takes up smoking and drinking in order to get rid of his depression. Soon, he finds both activities quite pleasurable and becomes hooked. He spends the lazy nights smoking on the terrace of his hostel floor and watching pornographic movies on his laptop. Life is finally becoming good. Though the classes and exams remain as intolerable as always.

First sem results are declared and Raj gets a measly 6.34, somehow managing to pass in all subjects[thanks to his newly acquired cheating prowess]. That result shocks his parents, who till now believed that their child was one of the best. Raj also isn’t amused. How come one of the best students in school end up like this? Hadn’t he prepared hard to clear the engineering entrance exams? Then why does he dislike his subjects so much now? Why is it that Thevenin and Norton go over his head? How come power systems and fluid dynamics make him feel suffocated? ‘This isn’t what I wanted to do,’ he remarks finally one fine day, after completing 3 miserable years in his college and scoring a series of 6 points GPA. But engineering is that best career choice there is. All engineers are hard working students and the ones who deserve good jobs.

Disillusioned and disheartened, Raj simply bears the pain. One day, he sees that few of his classmates were taking Computer coaching classes. On further inquiring, he comes to know that they are learning C++, Java, Oracle, Dot Net, and other programming languages. ‘What for? Why does an Instrumentation Engineer needs to learn them?,’ Raj wonders. Then he realizes. Post recession, the ‘Placements’ situation in college has been dismal to say the least. And the few companies which are coming are all from Information Technology[I.T.]. So acquainting oneself with programming skills will surely help one to get an I.T. job. ‘Raj buddy, you should know that people get into engineering just for jobs and nothing else. There is no scope for interest or passion here. We are all misfits here, but we need jobs, which only engineering colleges can provide.’ Initially Raj is a bit skeptical about this. ‘Is that really so? Can only engineering graduates get good jobs? What about people who are interested in History, or Painting, dance, Commerce, Architecture, Microbiology, etc? Is there no scope for them?’ But slowly Raj is convinced that he too must try to get into an I.T. job. He joins the tuition classes along with his friends and tries to learn C, C++ ,DBMS, Java and J2EE. Most of the things go above his head. Not long after, he starts hating the tuition classes as well. But since the placement season is approaching, he goes along with it.

Fast forward to the Fourth Year- the reason why every meritorious student joins an engineering course- the Placements Season arrives. As feared, no core company comes to campus. It’s just a few I.T. companies and that too lowly ranked ones. After struggling through the aptitude tests and interviews, Raj somehow manages to get into an ‘Unheard of’ I.T company. What surprises him is that whatever he had learned during the past 3 years[including the computer classes] was completely laid to waste. The job was related to Software testing, which he hadn’t even heard of earlier. There was just one question ringing in Raj’s head, as he attended the college convocation programme to get his engineering degree- ‘Why on earth did I waste 4 years of my life doing something which I never liked, when I never needed that knowledge to get a job(that too something totally different from my domain)?’

At the moment, Raj did not have the answer. He prepared himself to join the workplace, which was in another city.

*To Be Continued
Monday, November 29, 2010 4 comments

Life of an Average Indian Male- Part 1

So what’s the life of an average Indian male like? I decided to make a short synopsis in this post. First of all, let me clarify what I mean by average. Basically the word is used to suggest that the person is an Indian male, preferably belonging to the middle class, has access to higher education, and does not face any severe hindrances[such as financial constraints] as such. You can say that he is from a well to do family, and has all the facilities which a middle class man does[including a Facebook account and a Smart-phone]. So how does he spend his life and what does he do? Lets begin.

First of all, in all probability, he will attend an English medium private school[hardly any middle class parent will make his son attend a regional/government school]. The school may not be outstanding, but is good enough to provide decent education to the child. Like everyone else, he faces his share of ups and downs in his school life. He is rewarded for his qualities and reprimanded for his misdeeds. He does good in some subjects and excels in a few extra-curriculars. He may be a good cricketer but a poor speaker. In short, he is good in few things, not-so-good in others. He enjoys Sports, but dislikes Chemistry. And so on and on. I believe most children have a similar lifestyle. Of course there are exceptional students and abysmal ones too, but majority lie somewhere in between, like our protagonist.
Lets give our hero a name, shall we? So we will call him Raj[the most banal name used by Bollywood]. Now Raj is entering teenage life. He is already 5 foot 8, and still growing. He gets to know and learn a lot more things. He may have an interest in Computer Programming, or he may be addicted to Mathematics. Perhaps he likes reading Science Fiction, or prefers bowling Leg Spin deliveries to his opponents. Slowly but steadily, he is gaining maturity and evolving into an adult. This is the adolescent period which every child has to pass through. He may develop an interest in the opposite sex[which is normal for every child his age]. He starts shaving soon enough. He participates in Debates, and Writing Competitions. He goes on to represent his School cricket team in a city cricket competition. He scores 100 out of 100 in his class 8 Mathematics exam. His class rank is always in the Top 5. He wins a few prizes, medals and certificates in co-curricular activities. He has a crush on his classmate. And so on and so forth. He does not like certain subjects such as History and Economics, but mugs up everything so as to score good marks in the exams.

Now Raj is in Class 10, an important juncture in his life. He sits for his Xth Board exams and scores a decent 89% overall, with 95% in Maths and Science. Naturally, his parents are delighted. Raj is also happy, though slightly disappointed on missing out of an even figure. He joins the Science stream in Plus 2, in the same school, along with most of his school friends.

Most of his friends have opted for IIT coaching at a local coaching institute. Raj also does the same. He starts following HC Verma for Physics, and Das-Mukherjee for Calculus. He dislikes Chemistry just as he did in school, but forces himself to go through Organic, Inorganic and Physical Chemistry textbooks. He tries to follow the study material given to him by the institute, but hardly gets any interest in doing so. His school teachers are average and of not much help in his IIT pursuit. He proposes to his classmate but gets turned down. The first rejection of his life hurts. He feels shattered, and does not understand why she refused to be his girlfriend. He tries to get rid of the pain by watching pornography, which is freely available. He spends hours every day on Facebook, chatting with strangers and playing Mafia Wars.

IIT preparation has become a pain. Still, Mathematics fascinates him and he tries to juggle in between his subjects. His parents forced him to take up Biology as well, since they felt he should appear for both Engineering and Medical exams. ‘Why should I do so? I can’t become both an Engineer and a Doctor, so why not focus on just one?’, asked Raj in a monotonic voice. He got no satisfactory answer, but he knew that many of his friends were also doing the same. His best friend, Amit said ,’Yaar, am trying my luck in both medical and engineering exams. Kahi na kahi to ho hi jayega.’ Neverthless Raj finds his current school life extremely dull, and loses interest in studying. He finds Biology extremely boring, and somehow manages to pass in the exams.

The Entrance exam season begins, and Raj takes the IIT-JEE, AIEEE, CBSE-AIPMT, State Engineering and Medical Exams, BITSAT, etc for the first time. He performs decently in board exams and manages to get 84%. However, when the entrance exam results are declared, Raj receives the shock of his life- Failed to qualify in all exams apart from the State Engineering one. With a poor rank in AIEEE, he knows he will not get into a good engineering college. So on the basis of his State Engg rank, his parents get him admitted into one of those million private engineering colleges which have mushroomed all across India in the past decade. The college is far from his home, and for the first time in his life, Raj shifts into a hostel. Raj got into Instrumentation Engineering, because his rank wasn’t good enough to Get Electronics & Communication, or Computer Science, the two top branches.

Thus ends Raj’s stage of life dealing with Primary Education. Now he is about to enter the stage of Higher Education. And become an Instrumentation Engineer in the next 4 years. Raj is initially disappointed at his performance, but at the same time also eager to taste the freedom and fun of the college life he has heard so much about.

*To be Continued

Note: This is not just a fiction story. I have a purpose behind this series. I shall analyze all the wrong decisions made by an Indian male and their probable answers after I am finished with this story. So please bear with me. Thank you all.
Monday, November 15, 2010 3 comments

MBA season Begins


Hello guys. Its been quite a while since I posted last. Have been really busy this time, honest. And have loads of things to do as well.

Have 4 MBA exams left, plus 7th semester is knocking on the door. I finally started my preparation today. Phew! The next few months are going to be really hectic, no doubt.

I have taken the first CAT of my life[7th Nov]. Did well I hope. But Quant performance wasn’t up to the mark. Anyways, what’s done is done. Have got my NMAT score[224 out of 360] which will hopefully fetch me a call from Narsee Monjee, Mumbai.

In the meanwhile, I fell sick[severe cough and cold, accompanied with mild fever]. Currently I have incessant stomach pain. Sometimes I feel like swapping my body with someone else’s[a more healthy one]. But enough complains, there’s much left to be done.

My current occupations are:

1) Reading Superman and Batman comics after 5 years- Feeling of nostalgia. Just completed the Death and Return of Superman series- one of the best I must say.

2) Playing Star Wars Force Unleashed 2, and Fallout 3- thanks to Kuntal once more.

3) Reading a few novels which I had stopped mid way- Goal, Short History of Nearly Everything, The Discovery of India, etc.

4) Magazines and newspapers.

5) Wasted the entire last week by going to college.

6) For the first time in my life, I skipped a sessional/mid-term exam due to frustration[it was postponed without notice].

7) Sleeping and listening to music[not sure about the order though].

8) Solving IIFT[my next MBA exam] mocks[did quite well in the last one, confidence high].

9) Revising Higher Maths for JMET[Yet another MBA Exam].

10) Watching anime occasionally. Saw a few Superman animated movies, loved them. Especially the Doomsday one, and another called Apocalypse.

11) Planning on watching a few movies- The Expendables, Gandhi[for the 2nd time], Top Gun, POC, Goldeneye.

12) Preparing for semester exams. [PS – I HATE COMPILERS/Language Processors. I STILL DO NOT KNOW WHY ON EARTH WE HAVE THIS LAME SUBJECT].

13) Moderating at Pagalguy- The best Indian MBA website.

14) Checking out Facebook status updates[I don’t waste much time here though].

15) Thinking about my future blog topics[the serious ones].

So whats making news currently?

1) Obama visit.

2) Bihar Polls

3) Aung San Suu Kyi

4) Indonesia Volcano Eruption

5) Asian Games- Guangzhou.

6) New CM for Maharashtra, and resignation of A. Raja[No need to mention Suresh Kalmadi here].

7) Kashmir related issues.

8) Seoul G20 meet.

9) Indo-France, Indo-Russia, Indo-USA, and Indo-Japan deals.

10) Rakhi Sawant[on whom a case was filed recently].

And of course many others. Too tired to type any more. Got to have lunch. So take care folks. And all the best to Season 2010 MBA aspirants.
Monday, October 25, 2010 2 comments

Are Live-In Relationships Immoral?

Okay, I will keep this post short. For a change, instead of giving my opinion, I would like to know Your opinion on this controversial topic.

But before you give your views[via replies to this post], do read the following Letter published in the Hindu, a few days ago. Its typed Verbatim.

' It may appear that live-in relationships offer women a lot of freedom but they actually give them no security. It is the duty of the elders and society to guide young girls in the right direction lest society become corrupt and dirty. The Indian marriage system is the best and any attempt to go against it will have grave implications for our morals and peaceful lifestyle. '

This letter was written in response to the recent Hullabaloo going on in the Supreme Court regarding Live-in relationships and allowances[including the misuse of the word 'Keep']. But my question is, if two people decide not to marry and stay together under one roof, is it corrupting our society and making it dirty, as the gentleman says in his letter?

If you are reading the above post, I would request you to post a reply, stating your views on the topic. Thanks in advance.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 6 comments

Games I have Played in 2010

Okay guys, this is my 75th Blog post. Hurray! Cheers! Pass the Lemon Soda. Okay, that’s enough. Its been a long journey so far[over 1.5 years] and I would like to Thank all those patient people who took out their time to go through my blog. Thanks a lot guys. Hope you keep wasting your time like this, erm keep reading my posts like this. :)

In this post, I will not write anything. But I will simply list the games which I have played this year[2010]. Some of them rocked, some were damn good, and some were pityingly lame. Gaming has always been a big passion for me[am an avid gamer for the past 10 years] and its also a Billion Dollar industry. So here goes nothing.

In No Particular Order:

1. Mass Effect: [Action RPG]- 9 out of 10. Excellent Space Adventure.

2. Mass Effect 2:[Action RPG]- 9.5 out of 10. Outstanding. Just go and play it. Period.

3. Gears of War[Action]-7/10. Highly over-rated. Alien fighting. Not My Type.

4. Assassin’s Creed 2[Action, Adventure]- 9/10. Quite good. Lots of improvement over its predecessor. And it has Leonardo Da Vinci.

5. Prototype[Action,Superhero]-5/10. Great gameplay marred down by Repetitive Levels. Poor storyline for what could have been an Awesome Superhero game.

6. Ninja Blade[Action]- 4/10. I installed this one only because I Love Ninjas. And it still disappointed. Frustrating controls, add to that you cannot save in between levels[which take anywhere between 2-3 hours to complete], with 4-5 bosses you need to keep fighting. In short, avoid.

7. Batman Arkham Asylum[Action, Superhero, Tactics]- 9.9/10. This game is Perfect. If you like Batman, there is No way in Hell you can afford to miss this one. If you don’t like Batman, there is still No way in Hell you can afford to miss this one. Great graphics, awesome Gameplay, Fantastic storyline, Superb Moves, Adroit techniques, what more do you need?

8. Matrix, Path of Neo[Action]- 8/10. This is a rather old game[was released in2 005], but I played it only recently. And I liked it. It has nice action moves, and it’s a must for All Matrix fans. Non-matrix fans-better avoid it.

9. Saboteur[GTA Clone]- 5/10. Yet another of those GTA clones. This one is set in 1940s Paris. Which has been taken over by the Nazis. You need to do stupid jobs like blowing their hideouts or racing in antique cars. This game has great graphics, but I found it very boring. Nothing exclusive or special about this one. And some missions are too hard.

10. Dragon Age Origins[RPG]- 9/10. Twenty-Five hours of gameplay, and still counting. You can play this game for 100 hours and still manage Not to complete it. This is purely fantasy based, and has lots of things similar with LOTR, Elders Scroll, Neverwinter Nights, Wheel of Time, and so on. Still the gameplay is very addictive. The only [major] problem with this game is the camera angles which are frustrating to control[Yes you need to change them manually].

11. Desperados 2[Strategy-Wild West]- 7.5/10. This is a sequel to the Highly acclaimed strategy game Desperados which was released way back in 2001, yet boasted of Great graphics and superb gameplay. Now it even includes a Third person view. The game is good, but the story is very poor, and there is not much to do in a mission. If you don’t like Cowboys, avoid this one.

12. Prince of Persia- the Forgotten Sands[Action, Adventure]- 7/10. The Prince is back, into the ravages of the sands. Now he needs to battle sand monsters, Djinns and more. The Prince has quite a few new moves, including the Ability to Freeze water and to Teleport. However this game Doesn’t even pretend to have a story. Which is hugely disappointing considering the impeccable storyline of the earlier Prince Trilogy[sands of time, warrior within and the two thrones]. Throughout the game, you need to run after you brother, and in the end you fight him and kill him. That’s all there is for the story. The action and maneuvers however are superb.

13. Prison Break Conspiracy[Action, Tactics]- ?/10. To be honest, I just played this game for a few times, and then deleted it. My friend remarked it’s a great game, but I found the controls Horribly frustrating. Everything else about the game seems to be okay, so I will try it again in future someday.

14. Civilization V [Strategy]- 2/10. I cant believe how people find this game to be so good[it got a 9.2 rating on Gamefaqs]. Its horribly lame. Doesn’t even come close to the Age of Empires series. Its even worse off than Age of Mythology[which was released way back in 2002]. You just choose a hero[Gandhi for India], build a civilization, form pacts, and just sit around trying to figure out inane ways of keeping your population happy. That’s it. Just forget this game.

I may have played a few more, but can’t recollect as of now. Will not be playing much for the next few months[due to MBA exams], but will probably try my hand out at Crysis 2[releases next year], Max Payne 3, and Metal Gear Solid 5[which will hopefully release for the PC this time]. Until them, keep rockin, Gamers.
Thursday, October 7, 2010 5 comments

Different Kinds of CAT Aspirants

Okay guys, I admit I have been lazy in posting. But I have been busy, honest. Now with Exactly one month to go for my CAT exam[7th November], I decided to write a Sarcastic account of CAT aspirants.

As you may know, the Common Admission Test[more commonly known as CAT] is the only medium to gain entry into the Prestigious IIMs[Okay, not strictly NRIs can get in through GMAT, but lets skip that]. And it is conducted once every year, though from 2009 onwards it has become a Computer Based Test[CBT] so it is conducted over a window of 20 days. Of course, by now all the 2.5 lakh plus aspirants are working hard to crack the CAT and get a seat in the hallowed portals of the IIMs. But many of them differ in their attitude and way of thinking[preparation wise]. So let us divide them into 5 Broad categories:

1) The No-Nonsense, 99+ percentile Getter: These guys are serious. The champs, and the ones who have the highest probability of making it to IIMs/Other top Bschools. They don’t rest till they solve as many mocks as they can, and gather tons of 99+ percentiles to their credit. They refuse to budge down, unless they have solved every possible question they can, and are ready to give it their all. No wonder they end up being successful. On the down side, even if they get 1 mark less than they should have, All Hell ends up breaking loose for them. There are guys who get 150 out of 180 and still remark-‘I could have scored more. I screwed up 2 ques in DI’. Some aren’t satisfied with 99.5 percentile. They still want more. Is there any end to greed[even if it’s a positive one]? The same trend continues when they enter the IIMs. Even if they get 0.1 lakhs less[pay package] than they should have, they raise a Fury. And they are guys who broke down just because they did not get into a Famous Investment bank. Hmm, interesting take.

2) The Casual One: This guy takes his mocks and other MBA exams casually. He is not that serious as Category 1, and in most cases even the result does not matter him. He is like-‘Milta hai to Theek Hai, Nahi Mila tab bhi theek hai.’ In one word- Nonchalant. Such guys seldom manage to get into a Top bschool[though they can definitely get in 2 tier and 3 tier bschools], yet they remain indifferent to it. Many of them have a job[say Final year engineering student] and think that they can crack CAT later in the future if not now[though that seldom happens].

3) The Frantic One: This guy is always busy, but nobody knows regarding What. You will always find him surrounded with books, Mock Test papers, CAT Preparation CDs, Vocabulary building books, GRE material, Vedic Maths, and what not. But the thing is, he scarcely anything due importance. He is always shuttling around from one place to the other, has little time to talk with anyone[lest he spends one minute less on his preparation than he should have], ignores most people around him, and finally becomes a recluse. Such kind of people rarely succeed, and if they do, it’s more a matter of luck than of effort.

4) The Over-Confident One: The World is his Portal, so what is CAT in front of him? Nothing more than a minor exam which is waiting to be cleanly swept by this Supremely confident candidate. He doesn’t bother with his mocks or preparation. He knows that he can easily score 99.9 percentile on the C-day[the day when he will take CAT]. He knows he has magic in his fingers[and thumb, to be used on the mouse in order to tame the CAT]. There is possibly no way in which he can select a single wrong answer. And the reason for his Confidence- His belief that his innate Managerial skills can help him solve any problem. But when he fails to make the cut, he uses his Magic Finger[and Thumb] to blame every possible person or thing on Earth, apart from him[and his preparation]. Of course the World conspired to bring about his failure. What else could be the reason?

5) The Under-Confident One: Can this guy be left behind? He is surely appearing for CAT, but doesn’t have the slightest doubt about the fact that he is going to fail. He is positively confident that he will end up screwing the exam, even 6 months before the exam takes place. Nothing can make him change his mind. And he doesn’t even bother to prepare, since his can predict his destiny of Supreme Failure. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t end up proven wrong[unlike the guy from category 4]. So he is satisfied and remarks-‘I knew it all along I wouldn’t make it.’

All the best to all CAT takers from my side. 
Sunday, September 26, 2010 5 comments

Why Me?

Why me? I can bet that you have at least once in your lifetime uttered those two words. Isnt it? Personally, I have done so dozens of times. The question is usually asked to God, though sometimes it can be asked to our friends, or maybe even ourselves. And in almost all cases, we ask that question when something tragic happens to us.

Your girlfriend ditched you recently. You could not believe it[or still cant]. You went into a state of shock. You were the best guy for her, you were confident about that. You did everything you could to please her, you both her innumerable gifts, yet that ungrateful creature left you. ‘Why me?’, you ask in a sorrow tone.

You are struck with a deadly disease, dengue, cholera, cancer, etc. You were perfectly fit earlier, and used to exercise daily and follow a healthy diet. Then why did you catch such a disease? ‘Why me?’, you sob as you lie in your bed. ‘What did I do wrong, God? What did I do to deserve this misery? Look at my friend. He has a beautiful girlfriend and a wonderful physique. Why then am I lying in the bed with no one by my side?’

You are participating in a race. ‘This is your golden chance to prove that you are the best’, you say to yourself. You struggle to reach the finish line. Out of nowhere your competitor nudges past you and snatches victory. Worse, you come in Fourth position. The guy who overtook you smiles as he gets the medal, and you are left snarling with fury, restless and out of breath. ‘Why me, damn it? How come I don’t win anything even after keeping the lead for most part of the race?’

CAT results are declared. Furiously you open the website, and enter your roll number. Your heart is in your throat. Your fingers are trembling. And finally you get the message on the screen-‘Your percentile is 98.97. You have not got any calls from any IIMs[Not Verbatim obviously]’ Immediately you feel as if someone has stabbed you in the heart[or in the throat since your heart is stuck there].
Instantly you call up your friend to tell him your score. ‘Oh, that’s good he says. I have got calls from IIM A,B,C,……’ Talk about disappointment. You bang your head on the desk in frustration and remark-‘Why me? I prepared so hard for this for 2 years, and I still didn’t make it, whereas my friend hardly ever studied but got a better score.’

Do the above 4 examples sound familiar to events which may have occurred in your life? You can take countless other instances when you are forced to question yourself- ‘Why me? Why not someone else? What did I do wrong?’ But have you ever tried to find the answer? Most probably not. If you ask me, the answer is simple enough- IT ISNT JUST YOU. It happens to everyone. The thing is, you are probably too occupied with your personal life to notice it. We get envious of others when we see them happy, enjoying and having fun. We feel that our life is full of misery and they have everything. That’s a farfetched thought. Rather the truth is that you are possibly pessimistic and that person is optimistic.

Bad things happen to everyone, good and bad alike [and NO, they do NOT happen to Good people only, as is widely claimed]. It’s our attitude which defines how we deal with tragedies and come out of them. You have two options- cry and moan over the misfortunes that befell you, or accept the reality, move forward, and work harder to come out of the crisis. But the unfortunate thing is that Most humans do not deal with pleasure and pain alike. We welcome good things/events with open arms and enjoy as long as the day is bright. The moment something bad happens, ,we start complaining and crying that things are never right with us. Have we ever taken a moment to thank God for all that He has given us, instead of lambasting Him when problems surround us? When a famous sportsperson was asked- ‘Isnt it unfortunate that you have got cancer? Don’t you ask yourself- Why Me?’ To which the guy replied-‘No I don’t. When I won the World Championship and lifted the Trophy high in the air, did I at that time ask God- Why Me? Why not someone else?’ Those were the words of a true champion. When we get good things, do we ever question God/or to ourselves-‘Why me? What did I do to deserve this happiness?’ No we don’t. We simply take it for granted. The questioning starts when we land in trouble.

Coming back to those 4 examples, did those 4 guys ask the same question when : i) The guy was enjoying with his girlfriend ii)The person was healthy iii) The guy won a race in the past iv) Why did I get a higher score than 98.97 percent of the people? No, they did not.

I believe in the principle of Yin and Yang, Equivalent Exchange[made popular by the highly renowned anime cum manga Full Metal Alchemist], or the theory ‘that s used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn’[Source- Wikipedia]. Light and Darkness, Male and Female, Sky and Earth, Hot and Cold, and so on. Same is the case for pleasure and pain. So instead of accepting one and disowning the other, we should learn to endure both.

Thanks for reading folks. Have a nice day.

Friday, September 10, 2010 3 comments

What Malcolm Gladwell Missed!

All right, for a change, I will make this article a short one. In his book called Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell devotes a chapter to Rice Paddies and Mathematics [to know the connection between the two, purchase the excellent book]. In that chapter, he says that Asian students have an innate proclivity towards Mathematics due to which they end up performing much better than their Western[notably American] counterparts.

The reason for their inclination towards Maths, is not because they are very hard working students, but because of their language. Asian languages, like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc have very short names for the numbers. For eg 4 is Si in Chinese and Shi in Japanese. But in English, we have long names, such as Seventeen, One Hundred and Twenty Two, etc. So it takes more time for us to register that number in our mind when we are thinking and calculating in English, but if we do so in Asian languages, we can do all calculations rapidly and with a very high accuracy. This also improves our memory and our mathematical skills, since we can both calculate and write very fast with a high accuracy.

That is the basic argument as to why Asians outperform Americans in Mathematics. And to some extent the logic is true of course. But that does NOT mean that the only reason Americans lag behind in Mathematics is due to language. For Gladwell, while performing his research on Asian countries, has conveniently forgotten to consider another country, the one with the second largest population, and the second fastest growing economy- India.

We will, for the time being consider only literate Indians, notably the middle class and the high class. Almost all of them, without exception, learn Mathematics in English and not in any other language[asian or otherwise]. Yet, almost ALL of them can easily beat any American student of their level [or even a higher level] when it comes to Mathematics. Let alone Americans, in fact most Indian students can easily compete with any country in the world when it comes to Mathematics[at the middle school or high school level]. And they do that with English as a medium- making Gladwell’s argument fall flat on its feet that it’s due to the language that students perform calculations better.

You [especially if you are not an Indian] may think that I am just being boastful about my own country. But I will take another example- that of the most popular competitive exam in the world- the Graduate Record Examination[GRE]. And you cannot blame me for any bias, because it is an American exam, not an Indian one. So, I give you three guesses to this question-Students from which country perform the best in GRE? If you ask this to an average American, the chances are he will answer this- ‘USA, Germany, France’, or if he is a bit more knowledgeable he can say China. But of course the correct answer is India. Indians dominate in all western exams- GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc. Though now the Chinese have also come far ahead. In fact, take the questions of the Mathematical section of the GRE- designed to test college level students, and give them to any student of class 7 or 8 in India, and he/she will solve them with ease.

Now do the reverse. Bring some of the brightest Western students and make them appear for IIT-JEE, probably one of the toughest exams in the world. And check how many of them can even solve a few questions, let alone crack the exam.

So why is it that if Indian students are so good in Mathematics, hardly any Indian has made any significant contribution to the field of Mathematics? Can we name even a single living [famous] Indian mathematician? In fact I doubt if students can go beyond Ramanujan or Mahalonobis[both dead for quite a while].

At one time, India produced most of the World’s best Mathematicians. However this culture has vastly disintegrated and now we produce only engineers and managers trying to serve their own selfish greed, rather than making any significant progress/research in their field.

In fact, the reason why so many child prodigies who win medals in the International Mathematics Olympiad disappear is because their parents force them to join IITs and do engineering. Once they get into that, the thought of mathematics is all but forgotten. Sad, but true. In the west, such budding youngsters are encouraged to sharpen their talents and do extra-ordinary research in their field, be it Mathematics, Science, Law, Medicine, etc. It’s only in India that we look down upon people who do not choose engineering, medical, etc as a profession and try to do something different.

I will end with this story- I know a person who was interested in Statistics, and wanted to do research work in Mathematics which would help India develop a better mechanism for studying the poverty rate, and the food distribution rate, etc. Instead his parents forced him to join an Engineering college, shattering his dream, which along with him slipped into oblivion.

When will the people [especially realize] realize that forcing your children to study Engineering and MBA against their will is actually harming rather than benefiting them? Getting an ABC job is NOT, and SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED THE ONLY AIM IN LIFE.

Just recently, some notable Mathematicians around the world were awarded the Fields medal[equivalent of a Noble Prize] in India [International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM)-Picture Above]. Yet not one of them was Indian. Vishwanathan Anand played chess with 40 Mathematicians simultaneously, yet the people of India are yet to wake up from their slumber.

As long as people keep on pursuing their own selfish interests, ie money and status, India can forget about producing any eminent personality in the field of Mathematics or Science.
Saturday, September 4, 2010 3 comments

Reservation- The Conclusion [Part 2]

continued from previous post

Personally, I believe that reservations are not really necessary and should be dispensed off altogether. They clearly violate the Right to Equality. Even if we accept that backward caste people were grossly exploited in the past, it does not justify why their grandchildren or great grandchildren should be benefited now. Take the case of Australia, now one of the most advanced countries in the world. However almost every Australian has an ancestor who was a criminal and deported [from England] to the sub-continent sometime in the past. Does that mean that since their ancestors were criminals, all Australians should be put into jail? Ridiculous. We need to get over the past and focus on the present. Even Ambedkar intended the reservation policy to carry out for just 50 years, by the time; he thought the backward caste people would have raised enough to walk shoulder to shoulder with the General category. However this did not happen. Instead reservation quota was increased. And with politicians such as Mayawati and Lalu Prasad Yadav endorsing reservation like anything, it’s unlikely that reservation will ever be stopped in future.

Unfortunately the only people who deserve to get reservation are those who don’t get it, namely the ones belonging to the BPL[Below Poverty Line Category]. Such people rarely even manage to scrape through school, let alone get themselves admitted into higher educational institutes or jobs. Politicians are also not bothered, since they do not constitute a part of their vote bank. But can’t we have some other solution apart from reservation?

Instead of just reserving a Higher Education seat, why not give him proper food, shelter, clothing and access to education from the very beginning? After all, the poor student will be unable to adjust to the environment if he is just given a free pass and nothing else. Moreover, it’s almost always the middle class people who avail of the reservation schemes, since their children study in decent private schools along with the General category students. The following is a common occurrence nowadays-‘Two children[say A and B], good friends study in the same school throughout till class 12. Then the competitive exams take place. A finds out that he has scored a decent rank but failed to get into the college of his choice. However he sees that his friend B has got a similar result. But he is shocked to know that B has managed to gain entry into the college of A’s dreams. A is bewildered. Only later he realizes that B somehow managed to obtain a Backward caste certificate and got hold of a seat reserved for S.C.s]. The above incident is pretty common. In fact, nowadays most people do not openly declare that they are from backward castes. They are ashamed to say in public that their grandparents were sweepers or cobblers. The stigma hasn’t really vanished. But when the opportunity arrives, they quietly get hold of such certificates in sneak into colleges/companies/etc. In fact, such is the greed to get hold of a seat, that many General category people are obtaining forged certificates stating that they belong to so and so backward caste. It seems that people will go to any length to find a shortcut instead of taking the right but hard path. And since reservation is legal, there is nothing wrong about it[according to them].

When I was in school, I did not even know which student was from a backward caste and who was not. I never discriminated anyone with respect to their caste, religion, status, color, gender, etc. However I will lie if I say that I did not feel disappointed[and also a bit angry] when I saw some of my classmates get admission into NITs[for example] with a lower rank than mine, whereas I did not get any seat anywhere[am from general category]. This feeling of anger is natural and justified. What did those students do to deserve the seats? The answer is they did nothing. It’s just that they were from backward castes. The same situation is prevalent throughout India. We need to seriously question the motive and policy of reservation.

Or else, we could simply keep giving more reservation to people who want them. Let us have reservations for all minority religions- Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jains, Parsis, etc. Or we could have State Reservations- Marathis, Punjabis, Uttar Pradeshis, Bengalis, Assamese, etc. Or maybe geographical reservation- North, South, East, West, Central. Or reservation based on color- Dark, Brown, Fair, Extra Dark, Extra Fair, Medium, etc. Or reservation based on looks, that would be interesting- Beautiful, Handsome, Ugly, Horrible. Here is a sample Introductory session on the first day of college-‘Hi, I am A, Marathi Quota from Madhya Pradesh. Hello A, this is B, Central Quota from Haryana. Oh guys, wait up. This is C, Extra Fair Quota from Punjab. Hi, I am D, beautiful Quota from Maharashtra. Finally an exasperated guy shows up and starts speaking. Excuse me, but where is the registration for General category students? I did not find any place for that. Oh did you not hear? The General category Quota was removed. Now you need to find a Quota that suits you. Choose the State Quota if nothing else is applicable.’

So the question remains- Do we want a single united India? Or do we want to further divide it into numerous segments, dividing people across castes[which will be included in the Census, by the way], and introducing barriers throughout? The answer is only with us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 15 comments

Reservation- A necessary Evil or a Farce? [Part 1]

All right, before you all lambast me on choosing to write a clichéd topic such as Reservation in India, let me tell you that this is one vital issue which cannot be ignored by a blogger who writes about India. After touching upon ragging, racism, English obsession, sadism, poverty, etc, I have finally arrived at another hot, controversial topic- Reservation.

A little background information is necessary. In India, there are different types of reservations, for college seats, jobs in Public companies/institutions, etc. There are 3 main categories of recipients: 1)The Scheduled Castes[SC’s], 2)Scheduled Tribes[S.T.s] and 3) Other Backward Castes[OBCs]. It is estimated that more than 25% of the Indian population [around 30 crore] belong to the backward castes. The actual figure may even be higher, if all the sub-castes are included as well [along with the untouchables, the Dalits, etc]. A person namely responsible for starting the reservation Quota system after India gained independence was the late B.R. Ambedkar, a famous scholar who belonged to a lower class. He wanted people from such lower castes and classes to come up and get rid of the stigma attached to them.
Currently, around 49% of the total seats in Higher Educational Institutes[notably IITs and IIMs] are reserved for students from backward castes. In some areas such as Tamil Nadu, politicians want this figure to be raised even higher[though for now, the Supreme court has said that the number should not cross the 50% mark]. So why has reservation caused such a hullabaloo in our country though it’s totally legal and established by the Government itself?

The reason is quite simple. Almost every person belonging to the General category opposes reservation with the view that it provides a Short-cut or free pass/ticket to undeserving people, whereas deserving people[belonging to the general category] are left behind. Politicians demand extra reservation for people belonging to their castes [such as Yadavs or Mundas]. As such there are thousands of castes in our country, and it’s simply not possible to provide reservation for each and every one separately. So is reservation simply unfair? Is it actually fulfilling the aim or purpose for which it was launched?

Let us go more than 60 years in the past. India, a country which has recently obtained independence. A country where majority of the people are poor and homeless. A country with 85% of its population illiterate and 75% of the people dependent on agriculture alone. The condition of backward castes people at that time was horrendous. They were[and still are] ill-treated and exploited by the zamindars, land owners and money-lenders to name a few. They were mercilessly tortured, beaten, robbed, raped, and made to perform all sorts of atrocious acts[which are too vulgar to mention here, but some included eating cow dung]. Most of them hardly earned anything and many starved to death. The Government thought it to be necessary to uplift these people and get rid of the social evils which had plagued them. Thus the concept of reservations was introduced, mainly to show that in a democracy like India, people from all castes, status, etc would be included in the daily affairs of the nation.

Moreover, most of such backward class people were illiterate [close to 100%]. So it was necessary to provide them with education and jobs. So after the IITs and IIMs were set up, it was decided that a portion of the total seats would be reserved for people belonging to backward castes. So how did this escalate into a problem? The answer is simple. With passing of time, many people from the backward castes managed to get rid of their poverty and join the burgeoning middle class[now rising in number]. Plus there were quite a few people who had decent jobs at present[along with a decent salary of course], with ancestors belonging to some backward castes. But seeing that the reservation stood for all, such people naturally decided to utilize the benefits of reservation for their wards. So even if their children did not score as high as someone from general category, they still managed to get a seat into say an IIT, and later in a Government job. This was the starting point of the agitation, soon to gain momentum throughout the country.

Thousands of people protested. Some formed mobs, and went on a rampage in cities all across India. Some destroyed public property. Others set things on fire and some people set themselves on fire as a mark of protest. They had one demand-Put an end to this unfair practice of Reservation in the name of uplifting the backward class. They considered it to be a specious act. To quell their anger, the Government introduced the Creamy layer system in 1971[Sattanathan Commission] which specified that a certain wealthy section of Backward castes people would be ineligible for the reservation quota. At present those who earn above Rs. 4,50,000[which was raised from Rs. 2,50,000 in 2008] per annum belong to the creamy layer and are ineligible for reservation.

Though that worked to an extent, if truth be told, someone whose father earns a salary of say Rs. 4,25,000 per annum[which works out to Rs. 35,000 per month, quite a decent figure considering that majority of Indians don’t even earn one-tenth that amount] is still eligible for quota. This is, what I believe, rightly unfair[Oxymoron?]. If a person is already earning such a high amount of a salary, then why should his child get a reserved seat which he clearly does not deserve? On the other hand, there are also many genuine cases where a person is unable to give his child proper coaching so that he can join a reputed institute. Due to the environment the student lags far behind his urban counterparts, and is naturally disadvantaged when it comes to college admissions. In such a case, maybe he really deserves to get admission. So whats the way out of this?

To Be Concluded
Thursday, August 19, 2010 6 comments

MBA Updates- Dates, etc

Here are the dates of a few MBA exams for this season[2010-2011]. Hope it will be useful for all MBA aspirants including myself:

1. CAT [for application to all existing IIMs and 100s of other Bschools including MDI Gurgaon, IMT Ghaziabad, NITIE, etc] - 27th October till 23rd November- You can select any Date in between the Test window, excluding national Holidays such as Diwali. Two time Slots, either in the Morning or in the Afternoon.

2. IIFT [For application to Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi and Kolkata campuses]- 28th November- 10 am to 12 pm.

3. FMS [For application to the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi campus]- 5th December. Timing possibly in Afternoon slot.

4. JMET[For applications to IITs]- 12th December. [Possibly]- 10 am to 1 pm[3 hours].

5. SNAP[For application to all institutes under Symbiosis University such as SIBM Pune]- 19th December.

6. XAT[For application to XLRI Jamshedpur, XIM-Bhubaneswar, XISS Ranchi, etc]- Possibly on January 2nd or 9th.

These are the prominent MBA examinations. I do not have information about some of the other tests, notably MAT[Management Aptitude Test held four times a year] or NMAT[which will possibly be held in January] , IBSAT and MH-CET.
Also Note- As of this date, ie 19th August, 2010, only IIFT forms are available. The official CAT bulletin should be out on 22nd August, and sales of vouchers to commence from 29th August onwards. Again this is not confirmed yet. So keep checking the websites and follow newspapers regularly.

People keep asking me as to how my preparation is going on. I usually give the same reply to all- ‘Preparation is good. I just need to improve slightly in Quant to clear the cut offs. I am doing quite well in the other 2 sections, ie DI and VA.’ This December is going to be a hectic one. Can’t expect to do well in the semester exams this time around. Btw my 6th sem result is out, and I managed a 8.89. That makes my YGPA 9.04, the second highest in my department [CSE-total 133 students]. I have been confident and optimistic throughout my course of CAT preparation[which began in my first year of college] and I hope I will be able to give a decent performance. I believe that staying calm throughout will greatly benefit anyone during the exam. As for mocks, I have mostly got in the lower 90s[93-95] but I know I am capable of getting into the upper 90s range. Going slow and steady.
All the best to those who are giving any/all of the above exams this season. I hope all of you do well. I will give my best performance as well.

P.S.- If you are not really interested in an MBA, kindly do not give the exams just for fun or thinking that it will get you a good job. It won’t help, trust me. You will only end up wasting time and money.
P.P.S.- If you STILL haven’t started your preparation, I would suggest that you either spend 10 hours a day on preparation[2 months] or just appear next year.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 7 comments

Overpopulation Crisis

Note: This Post contains material which may be suited ONLY for adults. So if you are not one, I would recommend that you do not read this post.

India is currently the World’s second most populous nation. Almost all of us know that. Yet, hardly any of us has tried to do something about this fact, namely limit the population growth. True, most middle class families have adopted the one child principle[Not legally of course, unlike the one in China], which has helped in slowing down the population growth rate. However, in the rural areas[which still constitutes of over 70% of India’s population], the situation is bleak. Most families have more than 6 members in all, and many parents still have 5-6 children on an average. This situation is alarming, since huge population has severely hindered India’s progress for the last few decades. And the bulk of it is constituted by the rural people, and also the Lower Class/Poor category people.
Though the Census results will be displayed in 2011, it is estimated that India’s population is inching towards the 120 crore mark. This is an incredibly high figure since India constitutes just a mere 2.4% of the total Earth’s surface by area. Yet, neither the Government, nor the people are bothered. As if people prefer to have more and more children, even if that means additional burden on their income, and no dips in poverty levels. People keep comparing this figure with China, saying that China has a larger population, but they forget that China is a much larger country than India, and apart from a few places[Shanghai,Beijing,etc] the population distribution is more or less even. Compare this with India, where in some areas the population density shoots up to over 900 persons per sq km. In fact the situation is so bad, that in some villages, there are a lakh households spread across an area of mere 9 sq km.[I know it sounds hard to believe but it is the truth]

Why has the situation gone from bad to worse? Why do people keep having more and more children? Let us look into some of the factors: 1) Lack of basic education- Most people don’t have any idea about how the reproductive system works, neither are the aware about maternal health and child care, as a result both sectors are heavily neglected. 2) Refusal to use any Contraceptives- Many people are still superstitious and refuse to utilize condoms, pills, etc and most people will remember the 70’s eras, when forced sterilization was carried out with catastrophic ramifications. The bottom-line is- Most Indians stubbornly and arrogantly refuse to use contraceptives, and would rather have multiple children than to stay content with a small family. Though it is also true that due to lack of awareness, many people don’t get access to contraceptives and do not know how to use them. Awareness camps have done little, and the Government has hardly spent any money in educating the mass, especially in rural areas. Sex education remains a taboo, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, such as the ferocious AIDS, are on the rise. 3) Male Child Preference- India still has a dismal sex ratio of around 927. The demand for a male child gives unnecessary pressure on a woman to keep having children[even at a risk to her health] till she delivers a male child. Even worse, the poor girl is blamed for giving birth to a female kid, even though its actually the male chromosome that determines the sex of a child. Many people still follow this policy- The More, the Merrier. Some people believe it’s the act of God who sends children, so such an act must not be opposed by using contraceptives. They even cite the example of Gandhi, who was against such measures himself. However they subtly forget to mention that Gandhi[after the age of 37] was a celibate, and strongly preached in the favor of abstinence. The modern day man clearly thinks otherwise.

Sex is one of the most basic and primitive human[or animal?] needs, as most biologists and psychologists will remark. So a person cannot simply be told to practice abstinence. However this does not mean that he should keep on producing more and more children, even after knowing that he cannot afford to take care of them. This only adds to the poverty[as we know that Food Grains increase in Arithmetic Progression, and Population in Geometric Progression] and not only affects the parents, but the entire society and hence the whole country. I believe that 90% of India’s problems can be directly or indirectly attributed to overpopulation. This can be simply reflected at the state of our miserable public transport system. Our buses, trains are so over-crowded that a normal person simply cannot make any journey in peace. No wonder so few foreigners prefer to come to India. All places around them are cramped by people, people and more people. Most of them are poor, uncouth, sadistic and follow unhygienic or immoral practices. But the saddest part is that, hardly anybody is doing anything about it. Overpopulation is one of the biggest impediments for India’s Economic development, yet the Government calmly ignores it, since politicians believe ‘More the number of People, the more votes they can capture.’ The average common Indian faces lots of difficulties, but decides to indifferent. After all, the solution is connected with the biggest taboo in India- talking about sex. And no Indian, poor or rich is willing to seek out the solutions when it deals with sex education.

The biggest problem is that ‘Power corrupts, and Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely.’ This is true in case of the reproductive power of man. Theoretically, a man can produce infinite number of children. So when someone has unlimited power, he is bound to misuse it. Which has become the case in India. Seeing that the fertility levels shot up the roof, each man tried to show the other[in Hindi we call it Mardanagi ] that he was more capable, by producing more children. ‘How dare he have 8 children, I will produce 11,’ he remarks without a speck of worry for his poor wife. The truth is that the problem of overpopulation has been exacerbated by the fact that people refuse to speak about sex and discuss sexual problems or even issues such as menstruation [only around 3% of women have access to sanitary napkins] or child care. They falsely believe that sex education will corrupt the minds of children. However they don’t understand that in the absence of sexual education, a child will get misconceptions which may be harmful for him. In fact, in a recent survey it is seen that most parents do not discuss anything about sex with their children, and it is obviously not taught in many schools[as everyone from politicians to teachers avoid even alluding the topic] as a result they come to know about it via pornography, or from their peers and seniors, which gives their minds a very negative impact.

In fact, such is the callousness of the Government, when it comes to the Overpopulation issue, the UP Government[Health department] recently remarked that the people should be given more TV sets which will help in lowering the population. Instead of taking concrete steps, they are just dodging the issue. And now, Uttar Pradesh can proudly boast that they have managed to beat Brazil- Not in any football match of course[not even close]. But in terms of population, they are all set to beat Brazil[20 crore plus and counting].

At least, on the plus side we can say that every sixth person in the World is an Indian.
Sunday, July 25, 2010 11 comments

Book Review: Johnny Gone Down

Well, I happened to visit the City Center Mall in Kolkata last week, entirely by accident. Or you can say that it was a fortuitous visit. But this post is not about my visit. Rather it’s about one of the books which I picked up from a small book store called the Book Cellar. As you may have figured it out from the heading, the book is titled ‘Johnny Gone Down’ and its written by an amateur [is he really one?] author by the name of Karan Bajaj. Rings a bell? Maybe, if you have read an earlier novel by the name of ‘Keep off the Grass’[his only other major work, JGD being his second novel], or maybe if you are associated with Kraft Foods[for that is exactly where the author works]. The novel has already become a best-seller in the Indian market, and that forced me [A Certified Bookworm] to find out why.

Finally, after avoiding and slithering in between inseparable couples who do not hesitate in performing PDA acts, I managed to find myself a cozy corner, and dug into the book[Obviously not literally]. Before I begin the book, let me say that Karan Bajaj is another of those Young-generation Indian authors writing in English, who have taken the world[or at least Indian youngsters] by storm. Yet another IIMian[From IIM Bangalore], his book obviously draws comparison with Chetan Bhagat’s works. Though both of their works are fast-paced, trendy pieces of prose, the similarity ends there. Bhagat is more interested in highlighting social and national problems whereas Bajaj tries to tell us just how badly things can go wrong if we choose the wrong path. Anyways, this isn’t a Bajaj Vs. Bhagat post, so I might as well begin the review before you click on some other hyperlink.

Quoting one line from the Back Page synopsis, just to give you a general idea: ‘An innocent vacation turned into an epic intercontinental journey that saw Nikhil become first a genocide survivor, then a Buddhist monk, a drug lord, a homeless accountant, a software mogul and a deadly game fighter.’ Sounds rather confusing, is it? A hotchpotch of events which apparently make little sense to the general reader. So we have a protagonist called Nikhil, who is also known by a stream of other names: Monk Namche, Coke Buddha, Nick and finally Johnny. He travels across various countries, meets not-so-harmless people and makes a mess of his life. What’s so great about this abstruse storyline, you may ask. Let us go a bit deeper into the story and try to find out.

If you consider the different events [The Book is divided into parts separating the main events] as individual occurrences then it might seem that they are describing different persons rather than the same lonely hero. But as one reaches the end of the book, he/she realizes that those events are all inter-connected, and form bits of a pattern, which might seem non-existent or quite subtle at first. But slowly the pieces begin to unravel themselves, and we are left gasping with awe. Such is the impact of this 311 page novel. It makes the life of a normal, common Indian man look like that of a Hollywood film flick. True, this book has its share of co-incidences and fancy outings, but then it’s a work of fiction after all, and we all know that Sugar and Spice makes a Fiction novel seem really nice.

But the best thing about this book is that it’s different. And largely original, though the author claims that he has been inspired by several movies, books and his own personal adventures while he breathed life into Nikhil Arya. For starters, how many heroes lose their hand within the first 100 pages of the novel? Okay, not many. Then, how many Buddhist monks[the actual ones and not Quacks in disguise] do you see in the Drug distribution business? Sounds weird? Wait, it gets even better. Why should a drug lord who is earning millions of dollars every year, leave everything, go to the USA and become a Homeless accountant who shares his place with drug addicts? Plus why does Nikhil suddenly dive into Software and end up as a Shooter who plays a deadly game which could end his life within seconds? Is he fed up of life or with himself? Does he blame himself for the pain he has caused to numerous other people including his wife, or is it the fault of the World which was too cruel on him. Or is it just another trick of God, where the entire Universe is just an illusion and the Universal Truth is that All Life is Dukha [suffering, as preached by Buddha]. The Ultimate Aim of life is Nirvana. Or is it indulging in material pleasures, wealth, drugs, casual sex, revolver duels, software codes and virtual lives? Nikhil has to find that out before it’s too late. Before he ends up hurting everybody who has ever been close to him. And the only place which can give him true redemption is the land of sages and spiritualism, India.

The story is mesmerizing; the pace is fast and the action plentiful. And that’s not the only reason why you should read this novel. It has its own share of tragedy [in fact lots of it] and also wicked humor, dark at times and inspiring at others. You will feel that you can closely relate yourself to Nikhil’s character, someone whose life has gone totally out of control, who wants to get out of this maze, but is unable to do so. One thing leads to the next, and he is unable to break free. He feels deserted, helpless and lost. He blames himself for taking the wrong decisions. But at the same time, life is not just about facing misfortunes. It is surviving in the midst of a crisis, and having the courage to move on. The best point that the author makes is that Kindness, just like corruption and sadism, is Universal. No matter where you go, whichever country you are at, there will always be someone to help you and guide you. That’s something which goes beyond the language and culture barrier. This point has been highlighted quite well. Moreover, the climax and the ending are very inspiring and motivational. There is suspense in every page. The reader is forced to keep reading till he completes the novel, it’s that addictive, and thrilling.

Will Johnny Make it? Or is he going down for good this time? But will even death give him renunciation? Read the book to find out. You may like the book or you may hate it, but you will definitely learn something new out of this novel. A lesson in life which is worth knowing. And if you are an aimless person, miserable with the way things have been going on with you, desiring change with hopeless pessimism, then you are surely going to love this book. Try to grasp the inner meaning of this novel, and you will enjoy it even more, rather than simply treating it as a work of fiction.

Karan Bajaj has done an excellent job, and the fact that he has visited all the places which he writes about in his book, makes the story feel even more authentic and crisp. And the best part is that the book costs just a paltry Rs. 99, definitely a steal for any book lover. If you still don’t feel that you should get this book, then maybe you can go and practice shooting with a revolver instead. A toy one of course, you do not want to spend your time in prison[like Nikhil did] do you?

I am participating in the WeBlog's Sleepy Sunday contest! You may read other participating posts HERE
Sunday, July 18, 2010 12 comments

Why MBA?

This is a collection of a few most clichéd statements pertaining to the popular question asked by many interviewers for Bschool aspirants:- ‘Why MBA?’ Many people have asked me the same question as well.

It is an open secret that most of the interviewees have absolutely no idea about the answer. Simply because they don’t have any reason for doing an MBA. They are merely doing so because their friends are doing so, and/or they are being forced by their family members. Or more simply, they are just doing it to get a high paying job and status in society. Of course all those actual reasons are considered taboo during the interviews, so let’s see what kind of answers these smart candidates actually give to hoodwink the interviewers. These are a collection of actual answers given in interviews, collected by me after studying various forum and blog posts in the net. I repeat, they are NOT a work of fiction created by me. People actually give these sort of answers during interviews when asked why they want to do an MBA.

Also, most of the answers have been given by engineers, who believe that MBA is an Official extension of engineering. So without wasting any more time, here I begin:

1) This is the formula used by most engineers-‘If you can’t convince them, then confuse them.’ So the answer is typically this type-‘As you can see, I gained technical insight and foresight into solving industrial and engineering related problems and also the applications pertaining to logical and technical skills which I gained during my engineering course. However, I would like to supplement it by gaining managerial skills at your esteemed ABC institute, to be able to provide in-depth leadership solutions for all esoteric problems.’ In reality what he means is-‘I don’t know why the hell I wasted 4 years doing something which I never understood[engineering] and I have absolutely no idea why I want to do the MBA. I just know that I need that 7 digit salary. But since you[the interviewer] won’t accept a direct answer, I have to go about it in a roundabout manner.’

2) The interviewer asks-‘You are so talented in photography. You have actively worked in an NGO. Your photos and articles have been published in international magazines. Why do you want to do an MBA then?’ Answer-‘This can be defined by Maslow’s theory in his pyramid. Blah blah, degree of self-actualization, needs, defining human psychology, etc etc.’ By now, even the interviewer is struggling to stay awake. Finally the candidate miraculously concludes his discussion by saying that an engineer just cannot stay alive and make a living unless he does an MBA. Defined by Maslow of course.

3) Sometimes the student tries to define a non-existent link between engineering and management. He tries to prove that both are actually quite similar and that one cannot exist without the other. So all engineers should be managers and all managers must have an engineering degree. Otherwise it will create havoc in this world. One guy actually said that just like different organs in our body perform different functions but are all interconnected by nerves, similarly management is largely connected to engineering and that only engineers can be good managers. Some people will go to any length to try to prove something which has no meaning. But after all, too many lies do make a truth.

4) Yet another plan devised by the ubiquitous engineers-‘Technopreneurship. The term stands for entrepreneurs who venture in the technical field. For example, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, or even Akio Morita, founder of SONY. The frustrated interviewer remarks-‘If all engineers rush after MBA, then who will do engineering jobs’. The candidate smartly replies-‘This is an era of technopreneurship. We need capable entrepreneurs who venture into the field of technology to create outstanding products and sell them, blah blah blah.’ The interviewer sighs and gives up.

5) Finally, a person actually remarked- Since I am from IIT, the best engineering college it’s only logical that I go to IIM, the best management Bschool. Only that he forgets to mention WHY that should be so.

You may think that I harbor some kind of grudge against engineers or something. There’s nothing like that, since I am an engineer[about-to-be] aiming for doing MBA myself. It’s just that I do not approve of such shady methods of trying to fool the interviewer. If you have no reason of doing MBA besides money and status, why don’t you have the guts of simply saying so? Be frank and who knows, you can even be selected as the interviewers will definitely appreciate your honesty. In most cases, they are experienced people and will be able to see through your lies. However, with most of the people clearing the cut-offs being engineers, the institutes have no choice but to accept them[they can’t keep all their seats empty, can they?]. This is why many people who have no clue as to why they should pursue an MBA, also do manage to get into a good Bschool. Its only later, after passing out that they realize their mistake and end up suffering in some job which they never actually wanted. They may earn lots of money, but I doubt whether they will ever be satisfied.

It’s not a sin to run after money. In fact, you should learn effective[but legal] ways of generating wealth both for yourself and your company. Subroto Bagchi of Mindtree Tech. says that ‘To build a company, you should learn to love money. If you do not love money, do not build a company.’ Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, also says that its very important to have a good financial understanding of a business. However, that does not mean that your only objective in life should be earning money. Even Chetan Bhagat remarks-‘You should have at least one non-monetary reason of doing an MBA.’ Most engineers have no real interest in business, economics, etc. Its just that MBA has become too much of a fad in India. We should try to relinquish this greed of making quick bucks, and instead do something which really interests us.

After all, before you take the decision of jumping into the MBA bandwagon, ask yourself this question-‘Am I wasting the 4 years I spent doing engineering? Will I actually apply any of my engineering skills after I complete my MBA? Or did I do engineering just for getting an engineering degree[which holds lots of value] and no other purpose’. These questions will help clarify your doubt.

Sunday, July 11, 2010 6 comments


Updates from my side:

1. Saw I Hate Luv Storys today. Average, time pass movie. Nothing new. But enjoyed time with a great friend. :)

2. Saw two middle aged men arguing with the man selling food in the Interval Food counter. It was quite a loud argument, and at one point seemed that we would witness a free WWE Sample[okay not really]. I find it amazing how even grown up people start behaving so immaturely at times, just because they were getting a few minutes late for the movie.

3. Getting burned out from my summer training at Kolkata. Thankfully, it will be over soon.

4. Have almost completed Assassin's Creed 2, one of the few great games I have played recently. The last one was Batman: Arkham Asylum.

5. FIFA World Cup 2010 draws to a close. Final is tonight. Am supporting Netherlands though Spain look to be the favorites to hold the cup.

6. Have bought Simply Fly by Captain Gopinath. Simply amazing book. Also in line is Made in Japan by Akio Morita, and then The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, followed by the Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen. Am booked. Phew!

7. CAT preparation going on well, though Quant is hurting me real bad. In my first real mock, I got 94 percentile[IMS Open SIMCAT 1]- With almost Zero preparation. Am confident of scoring 98+ in the future mocks. But I need to work harder in Quant.

8. Need to work on my Education research. Have to decide on my career goals and take a firm decision.

Thats it for now. Thanks to all of you who have taken the pains of going through my lengthy posts. Am immensely grateful. I hope I will keep entertaining[or boring] you in future as well. For now, Adios Amigos.

P.S.- I got Desperados 2. Its cowboy time, baby! Bang!
Sunday, July 4, 2010 6 comments

A few Book reviews

First another sincere apology to all my blog readers- I managed to post just one entry in the past month[June]. Here are my excuses:

1. I am lazy
2. I had my sixth semester exams, which I messed up [except for the java exam].
3. My summer training has started, and I am traveling frequently to Kolkata and then back home every week.
4. The biggest culprit- My modem got damaged after suffering from a lightning discharge which got transmitted by the telephone wire. So I was left without a stable net connection, and rarely came online.
5. I am indolent, erm isn’t that the same as point 1? :-D

Anyways, to take a slight break, no serious topic this time. Will write short reviews on a few books [which I have read recently/am currently reading]. Would like to thank one of my best friends, Girish, for lending them to me.

1. The Double Life of Ramalinga Raju, by Kingshuk Nag[former Times of India editor].

This one is an excellent work compiled by Nag, and gives us a detailed insight into the Satyam Scandal. What were the things that actually went on in Satyam, even years before the news broke out. As the tag line says- ‘How did an IT czar run a $2 billion company to the ground?’ We get to know the entire life history of Raju, and also his family, and the other conspirators who were responsible for this nefarious act. Raju’s lust for acquiring land led to his downfall. Also included- Extensive coverage of Maytas Infra, a real estate company run by Raju’s son. Very highly recommended. Nag has a great writing style. I could not put the book down. I felt I was reading a comic book, and not a book on corporate chicanery.

My score- 8.5 out of 10.

Plus- Great highlights, factual, exhaustive
Minus- Nothing much really, maybe the author could have written a bit more.

2. What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell.

Those who are Gladwell followers will possibly have read this one too. This guy is a genius. Period. I have never in my life seen such an accomplished and versatile Non-fiction writer in my entire life. He used to write articles on Business, Medicine, law, etc for the New Yorker magazine[from which the articles in this book are taken] and is now writing books dealing with the intricacies of human behavior. Why do people do the things that they do? Gladwell has further increased my interest in psychology. This book is a collection of different articles which he has written in the past, after doing extensive research. His topics are quite diverse- Why is Heinz still the leader in the Ketchup market? What do hair dyes have to say about women independence? Why should we not hire people who are too-smart? What are the harmful effects of having too much information? What is the art of failure? How can we predict Dog patterns and avoid dog attacks? For what purpose was the birth-control pill invented? How can we hire the right candidate for our job? Who was responsible for the failure of Challenger space-shuttle? Are smart people over-rated?

I guess you got the idea. Go and get the book and unravel the Gladwell magic for yourself. I bet that you will be hooked. Do read his previous books as well if you haven’t already.

Final score- 9.5 out of 10 [sorry, but nothing’s perfect in this world]

Plus- Everything
Minus- Nothing. [Sorry, but am a bit biased towards Gladwell]

3. The High performance Entrepreneur, by Subroto Bagchi:

First of all, let me say that this book is not for everyone[at least that’s how I feel]. If you have no interest in entrepreneurship, the chance is that you may not like this book. Though the author has written it in a very reader friendly approach, and you should have no problem understanding the text. In short, it’s totally non-esoteric. However, I would recommend you skip this one if you have no interest in business, corporate life, etc. This book gives you an insight into setting up a business of your own, ie a profitable company in which you[along with your team-mates] are the boss and you have to make the rules. However, entrepreneurship is a very tricky business and out of every 100 start-ups, just a few are likely to succeed and make it big. This book will give you lots of tips on Do’s and Don’ts and things to keep in mind while setting up an entrepreneurial venture. I have not yet completed the book, but have found it simply amazing. Bagchi has a great and lucid writing style, and tells us a lot about his company, ie Mindtree. He says that the most important characteristic of an entrepreneur is resilience. For an aspiring entrepreneur like me, this book is almost like a Bible.

Rating- 9 out of 10.

Plus- Great guide-book for all budding entrepreneurs. Lots of comprehensive features about the intricacies of setting up a business from scratch.

Minus- Not really recommended for people who have no interest in business, entrepreneurship, etc.