Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama it is

We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us, said Pogo, a cartoon character 30 years back.This week the American electorate might well have said: We have seen change and the change is us.

Enough has been written about the significance of Obama's victory; suffice to say a decade back, no one would have predicted a non white President for the USA in their lifetime. A view that I have increasingly come across is that Obama got elected because of the colour of his skin and not because of his policies. That he is unproven. That he has vacillated during his tenure as a Senator. Those views might have some credence, but I think they obfuscate the point of Obama's victory

USA came into existence because of an idea. An idea that a person's destiny would not be determined by his or her birth. USA came into existence because immigrants took risks in moving to a country which they knew little of.

By electing an unknown entity as the President, USA proved that its fundamental values were very much alive. That in its deepest ever economic crisis, it could still ideate. It could still take risks. And for me, that was the point of the 2008 elections.

There isnt a single country in the world today which would have taken that kind of risk and therein lies the success and charm of the USA

Monday, July 07, 2008

Do not go gentle into that good night

i wrote an article last year when roger federer won his 5th wimbledon crown, quoting dylan thomas.

those same words are true even today.

on a day when grey skies and rain hewed the day, the king and the prince set out to light fire. the blaze was of such raging intensity, that the skies had to reluctantly make way for the sun to come watch.

for those watching, the adrenaline had run out, the goose pimples had had their day, the mind had gone blank; couldn't believe the visual feast, and still the King and the Prince battled on.

till the Prince coming from the land of the moors tasted greatness.

in the same land which gave birth to a certain chunky cigar chomping persona who inspired the nation with " Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never - in nothing great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense"

for the King's fans, it was bittersweet. On the one hand it was reassuring to see him come back in great style and make the Prince work for his win. On the other, one wished he could have lived the dream a little longer.

however time, age, change and revolution have their own agenda. that agenda left the King and the Prince swapping their roles, both teary eyed, and the audience wonder struck.

we will see lot of debate on whether the Prince is greater than the King, and whether the King can come back. there are even threads saying the King is dead, no doubt inspired by a certain lady during the A.O.

all this is irrelevant. what the King has achieved cannot be taken away from him. half a decade of sustained brilliance is unexpungable. What will happen in the future is unknown. The Prince might well go on to win 20 slams. That does not diminish the achievements of the King or of other greats.

as to the King being dead.. in tennis, Kings dont die. they become immortal, passing on the mantle of sovereign to the reigning great.

the clouds have come back today with a vengeance, as if denying yesterday happened.

But we witnessed what happened yesterday.

We witnessed Magic.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Emergence of Ordinary

andy warhol is responsible.

not only does he takes crappy pictures of a crappy soup can, he then has the temerity to say everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.

lo and behold the internet arrived giving everyone the ability to be just that. the internet didnt remain at being just able to connect things and people in ether, but also ended up having a multiplier effect on all of society.

this has created a niche for the ordinary.

here goes my list of things ordinary

chetan bhagat's one night at the call centre - inane drivel

amy winehouse - lousy hair, lousy tattoos, lousy posture, lousy behaviour, a voice that mumbles. and she wins a grammy or two for that. go figure

tate britain, work no 850 featuring sprinters running in the gallery - crap packaged as art. surest way to sell.

spiderman 3 - bollywood song and dance and love triangle. in english. with sfx

lindsay lohan and paris hilton - having a blonde day everyday

mona lisa - famous for being famous. otherwise an itty bitty painting.

big brother and all its spin offs in all countries - at one point television and movies provided escapism from reality. now reality provides escapism from reality. boring shit.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Nano, Jaguar and evolution

a few weeks back was arguing intensely(nothing new there), with a friend of indian origin about cars and the Tatas. this gentleman is widely travelled, has a passion for cars, and both took him to an automobile show in geneva. the nano and the indica were on display there and according to him were the only cars in which visitors werent allowed to sit in, to get a feel for the cars. the reason given to him was that visitors who had sat in the cars, had damaged parts of the car, and the dealer didnt have spares available.

this got my friend started on his hobby horse of indians not being able to plan, anticipate.

he has a point. however dealers sell cars not at exhibitions but at their showrooms. car makers dont sell cars at exhibitions. they sell awareness.

the nano annoumcement generated a lot of front page publicity in britain with business papers and magazines givint it extensive coverage.

while most folks seem to associate the nano with a cheap small car for the masses, i tend to look at the nano differently.

with the nano, the tatas have taken first mover advantage. they have forced the established manufacturers to accelerate their development plans for cheap small cars. they probably have got the manufacturers to give away freebies in the basic version, to differentiate from the nano.

i am willing to bet that the nano will be higher priced than the 100k originally declared, but then i am also willing to bet that a few grand here and there will not take away the sheen of the nano.

i have always believed that indian companies are not very good at marketing and branding with the odd companies such as kingfisher being the exception. however indian companies are good at innovation and thats what the nano is about.

on jaguar, i am on less sure footing re the tatas abilities. given my take on the marketing and branding abilities of indian companies, it will be interesting to see how the jaguar brand value is retained. but then toyota did launch lexus demonstrating that a mass market car maker could also launch a successful luxury car so there is precedence.