Thursday, November 27, 2008

Introducing MegaCorp

In the past I often wanted to write about something I saw in the office that made me stop and think, but I decided not to because it would mean I had to name names.

So from now any organization I work for/with will be "MegaCorp" as in "Today at MegaCorp the CEO gave a speech on ... ". So "MegaCorp" is an amalgam of various companies I (or sometimes my friends) worked at, but I won't be giving specifics.

So here is a story.

Once upon a time at MegaCorp, just as India and Pakistan went through one of the sham "we are going to nuke you off the face of the Earth" type bluster sessions, the American Consulate issued a notification to US citizens to leave India because of "imminent threat of war", one American manager (let's call him Sam) almost literally ran for his life, and the team was puzzled when he didn't turn up the next day. Yet another American manager (let's call him Bill) stayed cool (and stayed on) and went about business as if nothing had happened. In a week or two, the governments of India and PAkistan got tired of staring at each other and it was business as usual. The next time Sam said things like "We are all in this together. We are all MegaCorpers! " , the Indians just smirked. Bill got unstinting co operation for the rest of his stay at MC.

Media Overdrive

As I write this, the terrorist attack in Mumbai has been going on for more than 20 hours. I won't add to the discussion on the event itself, but I have to note that the (Indian) media is frighteningly ineffective in delivering any real news. Not only was the news of the event released through twitter/flickr, but for all these twenty hours, the "professional" TV news has consisted of "going over to the Taj/Oberoi" where a barely English literate journalist would announce that he/she "heard a loud explosion". Umm yeah.... and?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Money Off Obama's Campaign

A long time ago, when the Democratic and Republican primaries were still very much up for grabs, I conducted a survey amongst my friends as to who they thought would win.

Actually I went further and asked them to rank the candidates in order of preference.

As with all exercises of this nature, the answers revealed more about the participants than about any electoral prospects. Some patterns I observed -

1. Most of the ultra feminist women (Yes I do have such friends though I be a staunch "anti feminist" myself!) picked Clinton. Their choices were in order, Clinton, Obama, McCain , Huckabee. The more thoughtful of my women friends, who actually follow politics in some depth were split between Obama and McCain for the top spot, followed by a grab bag of secondary choices (including Hillary).

2. A very intelligent Christian friend chose (in order) Huckabee, Obama, McCain, Clinton. This was a bit surprising because the person in question is hardly the fanatic/ conservative type.

My choice was Obama/McCain/Huckabee-Clinton - the latter two being somewhat equal in my eyes. The funniest bit was how some "clintonista" friends bet money (about a 100 $) on the fact that she would win.

I was happy to take their money :-).

When the primaries were over, these "feminist" friends switched to McCain to "avenge" Hillary. (I guess if they were Americans, these people would be PUMAs). I proposed another bet that Obama would crush McCain. Heh! Taking money twice from deluded people is a great deal of fun!

The latest thought process amongst these folks is that Hillary as SOS will "outshine" Obama. I would be happy to bet money on that too, if I could nail down a metric for "outshine" I could bet on.

The mistake my friends make is that they get blinded by (a) their ideology - projecting all the unfairness ever perpetrated on women onto Clintons candidacy, no matter how foolish such projection be (b) Obama's rhetoric- they (being intelligent) sense that some of it is just vacuous/game playing and they "switch off".

In my opinion, Obama is the rare politician who combines the standard "negatives" we associate with politicians - ambition, a lust for power, dirty tactics and so on, with some of the virtues of the "ideal"politician - intelligence, empathy, vision etc. Throw in a frightening ability to stay focussed, organized and most importantly calm and emotionally stable in an unfolding crisis, and he makes the most formidable opponent one could ask for. Hillary was just outclassed politically, and duly pulverized. I am a great believer in the survival of the most competent.

I never saw the sense of voting for "someone like me" whatever the axis of comparison. I would have thought this would be like selecting a general for your army or a CEO for your corporation. You make a study of the competencies needed *for a particular situation* and then select the best person who fits.

I "chose" Obama not because he is like me (I shudder at the thought of someone like me becoming POTUS) or because he somehow represents my ambitions.

I concluded he had the best chance to win, just as someone who follows say boxing would know when one fighter just outclasses the others.

When people *asked* me how I knew Obama would win I often spout something like

"Hillary's autobiography is ghost written though the book title says "By Hillary Clinton" - the names of the ghost writers are on an inner flap. Obama writes his own books."

And people scratch their heads and think I said something very profound.

Heh! I can be nasty at times.