November 29, 2008

The ordeal's over... almost. What next?

As I write this, the ordeal's almost over. Atleast, the more pressing one that being of the terrorists being killed/caught. More than 60 hours after the start of the attack, apparently things are under control. But beyond the material losses that the attacks have inflicted, it has forced (yet again) to raise a lot of basic questions about the way we are and the we things work. Unfortunately, the price of learning all these lessons is very very costly. Losing top grade officials and innocent civilian lives are just not acceptable. A score of people, with thorough planning and ammunition, has been able to leave a scar behind - not just in the Taj Heritage but also in our souls. Personally, I am still shocked. Not just for what has happened, but more so about what could still happen. What can change? And how? Who is accountable? The politicians? The police? The intelligence? Or we the people?

Five pointers that come to my mind... I would like this to be considered at some level:

1. Let us not please wait for people to die before we realize how important and valuabe they are. The media is all out lauding praises on Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, Sandip Unnikrishnan and others but it is too late after we have lost them. What was done to ensure we never lose them? Nothing. And if this continues, we might lose another set of such brave officers. Equipments, pay system, non-politicization of police system, ramping up the force both qualititatively and quantitatively - all these must be done. On top priority.

2. Let us keep politicians out of the security system please. I was apalled to see Narendra Modi briefing the press. What was the need? He and other politicians should be sitting in their respective houses unless thay can really add value to the process. Rhetorics and gibberish are not needed. There must be a totally insulated national and state level teams to combat terror and pre-empt such actions. A younger, able team consisting of the best among the army and security forces should be given the task, for they are more capable to handling it.

3. Let us, for GOD sake, take some hard actions to prevent anything from happening again. If we are sure that the anti-terror elements have linkages with our neighbouring country, as has been the case in the past.. then let us talk straight and direct and WARN them to do what is needed to ensure these elements do not arise from that side of the world. And, if they cannot do this job, we should be allowed to clean their insides too. It can well be done, if we keep ideologies and international border rules aside for some time. I am not suggesting an attack or a war, but a mutual operation to clean our and their systems. If they have genuine interest in helping us, they won't refuse. They dare not.

4. Let us not sensationalize the terror acts and the operations being conducted by our security forces. I have been watching various news channels trying to find news bytes and boosting their TRPs by reporting not so relevant and sensational pieces of information. Media must be more responsible. They are a very powerful and important tool to set things right, but they are stuck with more petty issues like TRP. To be fair, the coverage could have been worse than what I have seen.. still, it could have been much more responsible. I strongly believe that a half-hourly update at such times is more effective than round-the-clock coverage that creates unnecessary 'noise' all around.

5. Finally, let us NOT take all this in our stride and 'move on'. Damn the Mumbai spirit, which is nothing but lack of a better choice. Let us press for answers and actions. Let us be more active, more responsible, more demanding from the system and people who are supposed to do a better job of governing us. Let us ensure the lives of the martyrs are not wasted amidst political rubbish and vote agendas.

Signing off.. saluting the brave officers who showed the courage to face the terrorists and made sure we are safe. Many die, few live forever in history.

November 27, 2008

Need peace desperately

Yet another terror attack! This time, more direct.. more severe. I still cannot believe insane terrorists roaming around on the streets firing randomly at people around. Shocking. Some of the footage I am seeing on television are really scary.

This particular terror incident is particularly shocking for me. During the past ones, I have always been at home hearing and seeing things on TV. This time, I was at the domestic airport about 20 minutes after the taxi blast at Vile Parle. I was on my way back from Bangalore. It was chaos all across. People confused amidst rumors of 8 blasts. Police trying to shoo away crowd. I was frantically searching for a call-cab to try and make it to home. I did find a Meru cab for the journey. I cannot forget the scenes on the road for the rest of my life. My cab and luggage was checked by police at three points - Sion, Mulund and Ulhasnagar, during the entire journey. Each time, police asked the cabbie to clear off the road as early as possible. Auto drivers and cabbies would randomly stop us and advice us not to take the road ahead. Rumors of curfew being in place all across Mumbai was arift. My cabbie was particularly afraid for a simple reason. He was a Muslim. His apprehensions were very evident. Lots and lots of police, lot of citizens volunteering to clear traffic and assisting the cops, fairly deserted streets, traffic blocks all remain clear in my mind.

I left the airport at 11.50pm. Reached home at 1.20am. My cabbie got atleast 10 calls all asking about his well-being and asking him to reach home safely. Like hime, a lot of cops and people looking after the panic-struck city at the wee hours of the night. Few policemen killed in the encounters including 3 top officials. As I sit safely at home, I salute the people who guard the city against such horrible acts of terror.

The talk about the spirit of Mumbai will be back. Media will highlight the fact that people are back to work even today. Point is, we do not have a choice. With a city as crowded and populated as Mumbai, imagining that few random people can threaten the security is not very improbable. It is not a very difficult task. Terrorists hijacking police van to shoot at people on streets, checking in to star hotels with ammunition, a handful of irrational people paralysing an entire city... where are we headed? They can strike at will, and the thought is scary enough.

I do not have any solutions to offer, just humble prayers for the families of the killed.

Hoping for a peaceful world...

November 16, 2008

Traveling... and a new start...

Traveling a lot these days.. something that I love. Had gone to Hyderabad. Off to Delhi tomorrow followed by Bengaluru.

I am loving my new professional avatar a lot. Getting a lot of space for myself. What I am doing of it is a totally different matter to blog on though.. I am not stressed, over-worked or busy. I like that part especially.

After many months of working on ideas and thoughts, I am 'doing' something finally this week. The first Mumbai meeting of the Adoption community is happening on Novemeber 22. We will be meeting to discuss the way ahead and I am hoping that a lot of great things will start to roll from there. I sincerely hope so.

On a random note.. top 5 activities I am involved in these days: Teaching/training, sleeping, eating, whiling way time (ya, has become an activity in itself) and thinking. Happily unemployed, I guess! :)

November 13, 2008

Me wondering...

... why am I not blogging these days!

November 3, 2008

Nasty October

Glad that a disastrous October is already behind us. Disastrous on many counts indeed.. one of the more talked about being the equity markets. People all around have lost tons of money ranging from anywhere between 30% to 90% over the last 10 months, with the most crucial blow coming in the last month. Unfortunately, most people I knew were fully invested during the beginning of the year and hence did not have liquidity to buy more at prices that looks like a steal in many cases.

Looking forward to a better November and overall a good year ahead. Good, in relative sense, that is. Add more money on dips and stay invested for atleast 3 years. You will be a very happy investor post that period. Remember, trusting my words are also risky - a disclaimer.

Life, like markets, is very strange. Just when you think it cannot get better, you get a hit to pull you back to 'reality'. Greed and fear that people exhibit in markets are reflected in real life too. We get overly excited when things are good and severely depressed when things are not so good. Both reactions, from a spiritual sense, are unwarranted. One needs to be patient, like in market and stick to what is the original plan. Move towards the target irrespective of the near-term volatility. Planning for 3-5 years makes a lot more sense than few months. That said, trading in futures can be fun if you have deep pockets and the risk appetite. Same way, short phases of joy in life too can be exciting, provided we take short-term jolts in the same spirit.

Life, as with markets, in the long run is an exciting profitable ride. Even if it does not turn out to be, makes a lot of sense thinking it would be. We would not come to know of the difference then.

Happy investing.. Happy living!