Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wall Street and Cricket

There was a very good article by Lord Meghnad Desai about market ups and downs and capitalism in Times Of India's editorial today. It talked about how humans have a tendency to blow things which can be explained through simple explanations, totally out of proportion. An example being the death of Lady Diana. Conspiracy theories involving the royal family, MI5, MI6 have been floated. Its just hard for people to understand that a young and beautiful princess could have died in a clear case of drunk driving by her driver.

Don't know how far it's true but it does make a lot of sense. In our bid to make sure we know the truth, we over-complicate matters. In the current context, the current market recession or the impending recession (atleast in the US) is also part and parcel of a similar cycle of recession and boom of capitalist markets. Unfortunately, I haven't spent a lot of time reading up the exact reasons due to why, whatever is happening is happening, but the current events which I think can be safely traced back to last year's sub-prime crisis teach us one thing for sure.

The markets and for that matter, the world is not run by a single very strong force or a few very strong forces such as governments or rich institutions. We all ultimately perform actions and the sum of such infinite actions lead to whatever happens, outside the realm of control of a single or a finite number of strong forces. As often suspected, it is not the American government or a few American multinational banks which 'run' the world, instead it is a self-organising system bigger than a single or a group of such institutions. Biggest proof of this is the sub-prime crisis which caught Wall Street unawares and created the problems it did for the American government.

Today, we see the biggest and the best American multinational banks going to the Asian (Middle-eastern actually) funded Sovereign Funds to get them out of the hole they have dug themselves into. In simple language, middle eastern governments will now have stakes and control in some of the biggest symbols of American power and wealth. And an irony it is. The very same people who the Americans drive out of their country, after 9/11, are now the ones bailing them out of this crisis that they now face. An end to white hegemony? Too early to say, another conspiracy theory maybe, but to some extent, I am sure the poles of power have shifted. The coming few years though should be interesting in the sense that where the US economy now go to.

Maybe I should have a read up a little more on the various articles about the current crisis, to be able to answer this question. Would request some of the more knowledgeable readers in this regard to educate me.

Call it a coincidence but the recent controversy in Sydney, regarding Harbhajan Singh has led to the Indian press agog with reports of how this is the end of white hegemony and how the shift of power is taking place, to where it rightfully belongs. After almost half a century of playing 'soft' cricket, of being 'gentlemen', our players have now learnt to respond back when sledged at, our Board has now learnt to raise its voice when needed. In the current case though, that of Bhajji, arm twisting Cricket Australia into the decision the Indians wanted was wrong according to me.

The debate is not however, whether BCCI was wrong or right. In two entirely different worlds, the world economy and Cricket, we see a shift of power; the focus is on whether the dynamics of the world as a whole are actually changing. Or is it just another conspiracy theory?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ricky Ponting Kicked in His Balls!


And while India was doing that at WACA, I was getting WACked!

Whats that you ask?

Thats WAC - Written Analysis and Communication.

The perfect way too ruin a Friday evening and a sleepy Saturday.

Another Lecture I Slept Through

At WIMWI, my classes are held in CR-7, Section A that is. The misery of having a name that starts with 'A' is one that never seems to end. Over here, my seat is in the 'well', dead center, right in the line of sight of the professor, and right in the front of the class. Although, the biggest advantage has been that I am forced to listen to the lectures, there are still some of them which would make the most energetic man go to sleep.

Today however, I slept through another lecture.

This man's -

H.H. The Dalai Lama.

He had come down to the campus to deliver a talk on Business and Ethics.

There were a few things about him which struck me. His personality - Confident and simple, which was reflected in the way he started his talk - he asked his aide to tell him the topic; on being told that it was Business and ethics, the first thing he said was - 'I don't know anything about business! If I start one, it'll probably fail in a week!'

The talk he gave subsequently was related to ethics with a touch of philosophy and spirituality. To some extent it was on expected lines, which for me made the talk uninteresting. Having said that, on attending the event, I did come to realize the immense amount of strength and courage that soft spoken human had. To have been the symbol of hope and a bright future for a people who have lost their country, in the face of hostilities from the Chinese government is no kid's play.

What was more interesting was the Q&A round at the end of the talk. Some people asked interesting questions such as Sino-Indian relations and the Indian policies with regard to Tibet. Dalai Lama's response to some of the such awkward questions asked just reflected the deep intelligence that this outwardly simple looking person had. Some people asked him downright philosophical and spiritual questions. For some reason I haven't been able to figure if such questions are actually genuine or whether those people were just putting their CP*. Some questions were downright funny, one mathematics professor asked him whether the concept of karma and destiny could be integrated with the concept of probability to come up with a mathematical model to scientifically analyse the whole thing. Personally speaking, the idea was interesting, but the time and setting it was asked in was, as i said, funny. I mean here was a Buddhist Monk and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, on a mission of peace, giving a lecture on ethics, thanks to the unknown mathematics prof., trying to understand the concepts of Probability!

I went to the auditorium to see him for two reasons -
1) To see an actual Nobel laureate
2) To see what was so great about this personality that people right from Heads of States to common people all over the world flock to see and hear him wherever he goes.

I guess one of the perks of being at IIMA is that one gets access to such personalities, which is why I went to the talk, even though the topic of ethics is not the most interesting in the world for me.

All said and done, atleast there's one more person whose lecture I can claim to have slept through. And this time its a Nobel Laureate!

*CP - Adapted from the concept of Class Participation - An event where students speak in a class discussion just for the sake of it, because the measure of your CP has a bearing on your final grade.