The hottest case-study topic

Education, IIM, Media & Entertainment, Politics

Clay figure of Laloo - by yours truly

On February 24, 2006, he said:

Mere zunu ka natija zaroor niklega,
isee siaah samandar se noor niklega.

Hum bhi dariya hai, apnaa hunar hame maloom hai,
jis taraph bhi chal padenge, rastaa ban jayega.

Ek kadam hum badhe, ek kadam tum,
aao milkar naap de, phasle chand tak.

Hum na haare par wo jeete, aisa hai prayas,
musafir ho rail ka raja, hum sabki ye aas.

Mun me bhav seva ka, hotho par muskan,
Behtar seva wazib daam, rail ki hogi yeh pehchan.

Kaamgaaro ki lagan se, hai tarakki sabki,
hausla inka badhao, ki yeh kuchh aur baddhe.

Aam admi hee hamara devta hai,
vah jeetega toh hum bhi jeet payenge,
tabhi toh yeh tay karke baithey hain,
faisle ab usi ke hak mein jaayenge.

Maine dekhe hain saare khwab naye,
likh raha hoon main inqilab naye.

Yeh inaayat nahin, mera vishwas hai,
daurey mehengai mein rail sasti rahe,
apnaa inaam humko to mill jayega,
rail par aapki sarparasti rahe.

And last month, students at one of the most hallowed institutes of management education in the world, Harvard, were introduced to the working of the newly annointed miracle man of India Inc. — Union Minister for Railways, Lalu Prasad Yadav (who in 2002 mysteriously changed the spelling of his name from Laloo)!

The verses above were from his Railway Budget speech in Parliament.

Last week, Professor G Raghuraman of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, was delighting the media all over, with the disclosure of his management-academician’s equivalent of a muse. That’s all you would need to make a wonderfully punchy (but surprisingly short-lived) story — Lalu Prasad Yadav, media’s favourite politician-entertainer, being endorsed by arguably the best management institute in India.

The flavour of the month is IIMs making case-studies on objects of popular interest. If it was Krrish @ IIM Indore then, it is Lalu @ IIM Ahmedabad now. The pace and direction seem to suggest that Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh bachchan are just waiting to be studied. And why not! Between them, they account for a few hundred crores of business.

On Lalu, the turn around in perception has been remarkable. For someone long identified with nepotism, corruption and mismanagement in his home state, Bihar — being seen as the messiah for one of the largest public sector organizations is nothing short of a miracle.

“I think he must have taken the present task as an opportunity to prove his abilities and improve his image,” mused the professor.

Either I have become too cynical, or this is the height of naivete…

Jaswant Singh revisits Kandahar…

Open-letter, Politics

…in his book, A Call to Honour to be released shortly.

He refers to the notes that he made during the journey from Delhi to Lahore and what went through his mind. ‘It is impossible not to jot down impressions on board this special flight. I do not really know what to term my mission — a rescue mission; an appeasement exercise; a flight to compromise or a flight to the future,’ he writes.


Dear Mr. Jaswant Singh,

Congratulations on your book, and thank you for giving me perhaps the worst New Year of my life in December 1999. (Even the Tsunami ravaged December 2004 was bad — but that was a natural disaster that left us humble, unlike Kandahar 1999, where a bunch of rowdies had us humbled).

But going by your quote above, I wonder who/what were you jotting your impressions for? Isn’t it obvious you were penning down notes for your book? And on the quote itself: Mr. Singh, you rescued the three terrorists; appeased a generation of them; compromised the honour of India; and of course it was a flight to the future for those terrorists, who otherwise would have deservedly rotted in prison. So, you shouldn’t have worried about what to term your mission. I’ll give you two words that sum it up aptly: national shame.

Till that incident, I had been a BJP supporter. For at some point of time, the party displayed a certain common-sense perspective, and talked a lot of right (right as in correct, not right, the politically polarized position) things. But this surely was a turning point in my understanding of the party. And please, don’t you raise the bogey of ‘coalition compulsions’ for this one too.

You Mr. Singh, of the famous accent and articulation, showed an embarrassing deficiency of tact and bankruptcy of tactics in handling this. It is one thing to be striking compromises with various groups — perhaps that’s a part of governance, and I believe all governments do it — and an entirely different thing to be seen as capitulating completely.

Imagine this, a Union minister as the flight care-taker. Tell us, did they serve liquor in-flight. After all, this was an international flight! Right?

First, the whole idea of releasing terrorists was wrong. But even then, tact could have dictated two airplanes. One carrying the minister and his team. And the criminals with the security officials in another. Otherwise the whole idea is repulsive — a Union minister of the Indian state, spending a couple of hours in the same plane as some of the most wanted global criminals. Headed towards the same destination, but to a different end. A beheaded Daniel Pearl some time later. (One of the terrorists Jaswant Singh escorted, Omar Ahmed Sheikh, was involved in the killing of Daniel Pearl) (Update: Read here an account of an HBO documentary on the issue by GreatBong)

Second, you could have bloody paid them money! As it is, all terrorists have been paid for by different governments. Well, there are suggestions that you did hand over some bags to them, which contained either money or explosives. But releasing criminals who have already undermined your authority once lets them undermine it to perpetuity. We are still paying the price for that.

‘Before writing about this event, I reflected long on how I was to do it; how would I convey the enormity of the challenge that was we faced, as a nation and not simply as a government,’ he writes in the chapter titled ‘Troubled Neighbour, Turbulent Times: 1999’.

Mr. Singh, the nation died that day. Your government survived. (Thankfully, not for long, though!)

I had to write this to exorcise from my psyche that one image from December 1999 that still haunts me — that of the grinning Taliban terrorists disappearing into the sunset. The pride and self-esteem of a billion people ground to dust. And that dust being blown around by the station wagon they drove away in.


Rahul Razdan

10 Years

Media & Entertainment, Politics, Sports, Zeitgeist

I had received this emailer last year:

In 1995 Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi was a reclusive figure

For Saurav Ganguly, playing test cricket seemed a pipe dream

Very few people in India had ever used email or logged onto the internet

We were not a nuclear-armed nation

India had 25 states. Kolkata was Calcutta. Mumbai was Bombay. Chennai was Madras.

Aishwarya Rai had acted in only film, in Telugu

There was only one life insurance company

There were no cellphones. No one had heard of call centres or Kargil

And till October 11, 1995, there was no Outlook

It has been along journey, these ten years. And an exciting journey, in a world transforming itself more rapidly than perhaps any other decade in human history.

To celebrate this journey, Outlook presents a series of 10th Anniversary Special Issues, looking back over the last ten years and looking forward to the next ten. Because we know, and you know, that the next ten years will be even more exciting.

And come to think of it, even in the last one year, a lot has changed indeed.

  • For Saurav Ganguly playing international cricket is yet again a pipe dream
  • We are on the verge of climbing down on our nuclear status
  • Aishwarya Rai hasn’t given a hit since Devadas (if you were to ignore Kajra re)

English football team & Dr. Karan Singh

Politics, Sports

The first football World Cup I remember having followed was the 1982 Espana, which was won by Italy. This I followed through the colourful pages of Sportstar — arguably India’s finest sports magazine.

Fuelled by that and also the availability of matches on Doordarshan, I closely followed the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, which was won by Argentina who were led inspirationally by Diego Maradona.

I also followed the 1990 Italia World Cup which was won by Germany defeating Argentina in a reversal of the previous tournament’s final. I was rooting for Argentina and saw all their matches where their second-choice goalkeeper Goycochea (who had to play because first-choice goalkeeper Pumpido — who had blundered in an earlier match — broke his leg on the field) defended quite a few shots during penalty shoot-outs. For the final, while the teams were lining up, I dozed off in front of the television set, only to wake up just as they were showing visuals of distraught Argentinians and jubilant Germans at the end of the match!

The 1994 World Cup in USA was won by Brazil defeating Italy in the finals, with Roberto Baggio infamously missing his penalty shot! A moment I remember from one of the USA matches was their goatee-sporting player Alexi Lallas almost scoring a goal with a bicycle kick worthy of Pele!

The 1998 World Cup in France was my first experience of community football watching — in the hostel of IIM Indore — with Saurabh Prasad letting out the choicest of abuses every time Roberto Carlos delayed passing the ball onto the forwards! France led by Zinedine Zidane shocked the defending champions Brazil in the finals. Star player Ronaldo did not play in the finals reportedly suffering fits before the match. This undoubtedly gave birth toseveral conspiracy theories!

It was during the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan that I attained ‘nirvana’ of football watching by refusing to have any favourites, either expressed or supressed. Regardless of who won, it was football that I was watching and enjoying — all the more in the finals, where Brazil defeated Germany.

It is 2006-Germany, and the quarter-final between Brazil and France is going on even as I write this post. It doesn’t matter to me who wins eventually. (Update: France just won)

It was 1977 when the then President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed died while in office. He was succeeded by Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy who was elected unopposed.

Sons and Loafers: A case of bad sons-kaar


In their parents, children of doctors as well as people in the armed forces have natural role models at home. Wouldn’t the same then hold true for children of politicians as well? Yes. But what matters is the road walked by the progeny to step into their parents’ shoes.

The child of an army General still has to get through his Services Selection Board (SSB) interview to get into the National Defence Academy (NDA). Children of doctors have to slog through a minimum of five years of under-graduate studies (or more) — and this is true for even those who might have had the wherewithal to pay astronomical sums of money as capitation (or other creatively used nomenclature) fees.

The problem perhaps arises when the political scions get rewards too easily.

Leaving aside the Rahul Mahajan episode (where my only peeve is BJP president Rajnath Singh’s alleged announcement of planning to induct Rahul as an office-bearer in the party’s youth wing, when subsequent events have shown that his drug problems were common knowledge already), some other cases come to mind of sons of politicians who even when they had it all, lost it for themselves and for their fathers. And some who got away with it.

Here are some of them: