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Friday, February 06, 2015


Is Arnab Goswami the next Amitabh Bachhan? It was a quiet February afternoon in central Mumbai's financial hub Lower Parel. Executives from hundreds of companies, mostly in the banking and financial services sector were busy in their offices analysing data and numbers, discussing targets, profits and career opportunities over a cup of coffee/tea post lunch. The afternoon was special at Kamala Mills, an old textile establishment which was closed a few decades ago ruining lives of many workers and is today bustling with thousands of white collar executives, with many of them making millions every year. While the millionaires and wannabe millionaires were engrossed in their glass buildings, there was growing heat outside. A red monstrous vehicle was rolling inside the compound and some of the vendors near the gate and executives strolling around could sense the presence of someone unusual. Kamala City had seen many expensive vehicles and many of the stature of Phantom, Lamborghini etc. roll inside the compound everyday, but there is someone inside this vehicle that shook them. This gentleman was wearing black rimmed glasses and sporting a white French beard.
Photo Caption: AMITABH BACHHAN RESPONDING TO A SWELLING CROWD "Boss this is Big B," some one shouted. People then ran behind the car like children running behind the candyfloss man in distant villages. The car passed through the narrow road crossing by dozens of banks, offices of stock brokers and conglomerates to reach at a relatively smaller office -- A television channel called Times Now, owned by BCCL, which sells world's most circulated newspaper, The Times of India. "What happened? what happened?" the chatter was slowly growing inside Kamala City. Entire offices were emptied as people flocked around the narrow roads in front of the television channel's office. The tall somewhat old and extremely good looking man -- Amitabh Bachhan -- entered the studio and people waited outside. More joined them soon -- Families who had come the Passport office nearby arrived, while unruly kids and stylish teenagers arrived from a nearby amusement and sports center --- even some from outside Kamala Mills. I was privileged as the television channel's office is bang opposite mine. I literally had a balcony view to my privilege. After about half-an-hour, the old man came out, the crowd, which by now had swelled to several hundreds shouted in excitement, "Amitabh, Amitabh...we love you..." The most popular person obliged and waived his hand gently and crowd responded with a synchronized hysterical roar applauding the biggest entertainer in India. Cameras flashed all around, everyone wanted get close to the superstar. But then he had to go. For a moment it seemed the hysteria ended and everybody would go back to work now.
Photo Caption: ARNAB GOSWAMI RESPONDING TO A SWELLING CROWD But wait, the crowd turned their obsession to another entertained named Arnab Goswami, the editor of Times Now and the anchor of India's most watched news show, The News Hour with Arnab. "We love Arnab..we love Arnab." A visibly humbled Arnab then did something which no one expected. He waived his hand just like Amitabh Bachhan did and the hysteria began again. Camera's flashed again, people ran towards him. School kids from the amusement center grabbed him. People in groups started taking selfies with the man. And guess what he obliged many of of them. People confessed of their love for him. Middle aged men praised him for his daring interviews. Many reminded him of a particular interview with a youth leader, who could have become the Prime Minister of India. Young executives praised him for his smart management of Pakistani guests on his show. Then one old man said,"Arnab you know what? I can't sleep if I don't watch your show at the end of the day. Please don't go for holidays. You make me proud of being an Indian." The show ended their Arnab waived his hand again and moved inside the studio to grill another set of panelists for the next show. In the meantime I saw his interaction with Amitabh Bachhan later in the night. Arnab divulged a few details about his passion for Bollywood. Most candid was that he has a poster of Deewar movie in his bedroom and that his favourite dialogue was "Rishte mein hum tumhare baap lagte hain" from Shehenshah movie. The funny moment was when Amitabh Bachhan said he couldn't speak the dialogue as it needs him to be angry on the person he is looking at while who could not get angry with Arnab. Then Arnab replied," You should know I have the habit, you may call it a bad habit, of getting what I want to know." I think the way Arnab touches people across class and communities at least in English speaking India. He is definitely a worthy successor of Big B as one who can connect and entertain the nation, because he is a man who knows, "What the nation wants to know?" :) PS: I also wanted to take a selfie with Arnab but was pushed by two school kids who entered the frame at the last moment :)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

City of dreamers and city of achievers

(Bandra-Worli Sealink, picture courtesy DNA newspaper)
It is a tale of two cities
Two cities that breathe different air, two cities that sleep at different hours
One city has dreamers, the other has achievers
The dreamers are happy because they live in imagination of a better tomorrow
The achievers are unhappy because they have stopped dreaming
A few years ago the achievers also came from the city that dreamt, only to lose their dreams forever
The city of dreamers believe in the city of achievers
But the city of achievers yearn to imagine like the city of dreamers
The only problem is that the city of dreamers get to sleep at night while the city of achievers don’t
Two cities crave for each other, hoping to become like the other
The mirage continues in the tale of two cities
Two cities that breathe different air, two cities that sleep at different hours
One is Mumbai, the other is Bhubaneswar
(Mumbai musings developed during a midnight journey to home in a Dombivli slow local train)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

We stray again, every now and then

Mountains and rivers are grand and mysterious.

They are silent with humility and trust.

Gigantic power they hold underneath.

In winter and rains they stay sensitive.

They are not to be messed with, when we know what destruction they can unleash upon us.

But we men of lower intelligence do not learn.

But we men of unfathomable greed do not learn.

We alter the course of nature with our shortsighted vision.

Every now and then we stray.

We rape the innocence of nature.

We challenge the fury of the Goddess mother.

We cry with her, in our eyes we see the fear.

But we wait again till comes back the silence of nature.

We forget the past.

We stray again, every now and then.

We rape the innocence of nature.

We challenge the fury of the Goddess mother.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My story: Thanks to IIMC Alumni Association

Five months ago I was working as a senior editorial member at a large media group, responsible for their fixed income and Reserve Bank of India coverage in Mumbai. One winter afternoon, when I rushed into my South Mumbai-based office in one of the two-hundred-year old heritage buildings to file the first take of an important assignment at the central bank, I saw my usually cheerful boss lost in thoughts. I kept quiet till my story was published and then over a cup of coffee asked, what was bothering him? He said he is struggling to find the right kind of people for editorial operations and has little time left (not more than a month).  I understood the gravity of the situation, for our newswire, which is at its inflection point fighting two international behemoths in India. Manpower is the biggest strength as well concern. We have to be quick.

I proposed we should try recruiting students from IIMC. My firm primarily recruited freshers from a Mumbai based institute run by a reputed Jesuit society, that has produced giants in journalism, cinema and advertisement world. He agreed to my suggestion purely from the belief that the few IIMCIans who work with him are the best in the industry. But there was another issue, he wanted experienced people as well as those who will be excellent reporters, writers and with analytical skills and passion for journalism. I again proposed that we should take help from the IIMC Alumni Association.

He entrusted me with the job of finding the right talent. I sought help from IIMC Alumni Association. Fellow alumnus Ritesh Verma, Harshendra Verdhan in Delhi and Suryakant Mishra, Krishna Pophale in Mumbai supported the idea and Ritesh posted the recruitment advertisement in the various alumni channels immediately despite his busy schedule.

Within a week I had 220 applications in my mail box, which I carefully sent to the editorial and human resources team. Each one was screened by the editor himself and the HR head. Many were selected for an editorial test followed by an interview. Finally 18 people were selected. Eighteen is a large number if someone understands the current media scenario. Most of them were from IIMC.

The whole operation finished in about a month.

My boss told me that IIMCians are really talented and focussed and he would love to recruit them from campus and this year as I understand they have called people from the current batch in Delhi. I have proposed such activity for Dhenkanal and Amravati branches as well.

I therefore would like extend my sincere gratitude to the alumni association for helping my company in finding the right talent. I want to tell you that young IIMCians have a great opportunity to connect with their seniors on this platform and benefit from the opportunities.

In the CVs I had received, there were many IIMCIans whom I knew-- my batch-mates, seniors, juniors and even freshers.  I want to disclose that there were two IIMCIans who were related to me as well. But as we understand in the professional world, the competition and quality is what keeps you going. Both my relatives were not selected-- one was rejected in the written test and other in interview.

The point I want to make is that while IIMC Alumni Association as an umbrella body can help people get contacts, inform about opportunities but it cannot guarantee anything. Even our parents don’t guarantee our professional life unless they are billionaires and own industries.

I would request young alumni members to have faith in themselves and journalism if they really believe this is their call. Because journalism like movie industry is not meant for everyone. There is a bit of luck, competition, talent and relationship management that lands you the big job.

The alumni association will give you the desired strength and right guidance. It will tell what’s happening where. It will also provide you with some exclusive opportunities, but yet there will be competition. So have faith in yourself and the system. If one would understand the reality then one must know that the media scene in India is not at all rosy. Many businesses have shut in the recent past, the ones up are on their toes and the ones that have survived the cascading effects of the Lehman Brothers-triggered-financial crisis of 2008, are not recruiting big time. Yet the supply of fresh graduates is always there, which has painted a dark picture for many journalism aspirants in the recent years.

And I am sure every senior member on this alumni association can tell harrowing stories of their own struggle. Many of us are at very senior positions in different segments of the media industry, yet we have not got it easily. Everyone has struggled, has been humiliated and yet has kept that belief. Even today no one is ever sure about how the economy is going to do. But as true Indians we must have the enormous hope which has helped us to survive as a civilisation, sustain our multicultural society and produce unmatchable philosophy.






Sunday, October 28, 2012

Conversation with truth

We can be the finest of individuals ourselves, but live in a world which resists phenotypes. Too bad when we don’t find enough sensitive people to look at the world’s problems, but too good if we also don’t find monster-like people in abundance. There are good people and there are bad people, there will always be a mix of both at the end of the day we can only get over our own weaknesses and decide for ourselves what we want to become. It might be foolish but not weak to be honest. It might be hard but not impossible to achieve our dreams. It may not be true man’s world, but truth exists in parts in each of us. In the layers of lies and deceits, we know where the truth resides. It is most important to find the truth and nothing else. Because at the end of everything nothing else matters, but truth in its purest form. It may or may not help to practice truth with everyone, but with self only truth matters. Truth might be ugly, devious and unfathomable. But that’s what we are. A bundle of irrational aspiratons constantly trying to be rational and we end up being confused and behaving what we don’t believe in and on top of that being understood by others in what never wanted to think about us. We are bad communicators despite our clear communication, because all of us are irrational. It is fine if we don’t make it. It’s fine if we fail. Because we don’t know what is right, but we definitely know what truth is. Truth is only thing we know.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Most Admired Writer Is Also The Best Marketer

Random, strange fiction is what I desire to write the most, but the more I read from the world of books, I find almost nothing is left uncovered, unexplored. There are reams of paper filled by zealous, creative people across the world, though most of the books published are hidden in the corners of dusty libraries without any recognition. This probably is a reason, why despite all the good work, a little marketing is almost always needed for your book to be on the bed, or table of readers, than jostling for space in some non-descript district library. While it will take years for any publisher or marketer to decide on which book will be a bestseller, they surely can decide to make a mediocre scripted submission into a larger than life book, and whether the reader will like it or not, sizeable sales will happen around that event. So you can't decide who is a good or bad writer these days, or couldn't have even years before, because while you admired George Orwell, you never knew, there was someone better who remained unpublished, or unsold? Today when you read a book, you read it because it grabs your eye in the book store, on the online sellers' discount panel or is advertised via news publications. So the act of writing has to be dreamt with the vision of a marketer. It is a necessary truth and trust me all those who succeed in the market today, will become the most admired tomorrow, because people will adopt an idea wholeheartedly, when it trounces everyother competitor and stays larger-than-life forever. Books are as much a part of glamour business as the film and fashion industry do. (I ream = 500 sheets of paper)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

We Are Better As A Nation Of Cricket Fanatics

In the past decade or so I had lost that passion for Cricket. Though statistically I read a lot and love to discuss cricket at social gathering it never entered into the intimate corners of my heart. I clearly remember those days of waking up early during India-Australia cricket series in early 90s to watch ball-by-ball updates, and then there was this particular world cup match where India lost to Australia and Pakistan own the world cup ultimately.

Then there was this sad dismissal of India world cup semifinal against Sri Lanka in 1996 at Kolkatta. Those were the days of passion. But then it eroded gradually with the infamous match fixing scandal in late 90s and early part of this decade. Sourav Ganguly with his attitude and aggression revived the passion amongst many Indians including me. Premier League and 20-20 brought the love back for cricket but the as a form of entertainment.

In the past decade as a human being my perspective towards life has also changed significantly which means cricket was losing its priority in life.

The only man who has kept cricket alive for this 1.2 billion strong nation for the past two decades is Sachin Tendulkar, who is getting widely known as the God of Cricket.

This world cup offered a different side of India. The day India beat Pakistan or Australia or for that matter even West Indies, it was mostly a psychological win. We have survived almost every match but ultimately have won.

Largely because we always played till the end and as they say you have to be in the game to win it.

This time cricket touched the corners of my heart. It has shook me. It has given me goose bumps. It has made me feel like a fanatic of cricket. I have discovered how easily we melt as a nation of cricket lovers. We understand each others' needs of knowing the score, watching the cricket match, or celebrating after each win.

I live in Mumbai, which is a multi-cultured metropolis, but at heart people are loyal only to two things —-their profession and the sub-urban train lines -– they travel in.

But every night India won. The city had a commonality. East or west side of the sub-urban train line, it didn’t matter. Mumbaiah or Jaunpuria it didn’t matter. Investment banker or panwalla it didn’t matter. Hindi or Marathi, the language didn’t matter. Muslim or Hindu, the religion didn't matter. Cricket is the only religion and it does matter. We are better as a nation of cricket fanatics. Because as cricket fanatics we understand each other. We have only one Team India to pray for, we have only colour (blue) to be loyal with. And we have only one prayer – Indiaaah…Indiaaah – to recite.

Note: While the whole Indian win is shadowed by 20-year old Poonam Pandey's going nude challenge. Though it opened the average lecherous Indian man to think of a nude woman and talk loosely about her, we must admit her patriotism and her ability to unite many for the sake of the country. But I wish she doesn't actually go nude and make the World Cup victory a shallow event. God bless her and she deserves more dignity than being just remembered as a stripper.
(Photo Courtesy: Poonam Pandey in Cricket gears by Vasant Sawant, Sachin Tendulkar as a child)
Trivia: The author of this post has grown a moustache after India's win against Pakistan to meet a prior commitment.