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Showing posts from April, 2010

Book Review: A Century Turns by William Bennet

This book reads more like a novel than a piece of historical work. It captures the turn of the century and the political intricacies during the period of 1988 to 2008. During this period there were wars, changes in US presidency and great turmoil in the world. Bennet does a competent job of capturing them.

The book would have beeb much better had the author tried to go behind the reasons of historical events rather than just being a chronicler of it. So, in effect the books reads more like a collection of newspaper articles pieced together in a very nice fashion.

The Long and the Short of it!!

Last week during our lunch break at work, we got into a discussion on why company executives are so hung up about short term performances instead of focusing on the long term improvement of the company. We see this everyday. Companies lay off people during bad times and then hire back with a gusto when business is booming, often at multiple times the compensation that was paid to the person who occupied the position before. This is so true in the IT industry in India. My friend, Amit, concluded that all this 'evil' was due to the "short-termism" created by being intently focused on the short-term stock value - the proverbial quarter end numbers. Amit attributes all that is wrong in the corporate system to this short=term view of life and the force that the stock markets exert on individuals as the incentive to outperform earnings is extraordinary.

I thought about this theory while driving back from work. I have a couple of objections to this line of thought (that the …

The Politics and Mindset of Entitlement

Last few weeks, two important pieces of legislation were taken up by the Indian Parliament. The first was the reservation of one-third of the electoral seats for women and the second was the passage of the bill to guarantee education to children.

I am skeptical of both these. Let me tell you why.

A lot has been said and written about the women's reservation bill. Any form of reservation is, to my mid, a step backwards. Instead of empowering people to excel it creates a coterie of "entitlers" (if I may be permitted to call them that). We have seen this so many time is the past through the SC/ST and other similar reservations. It does very little to impact and uplift the poorest of the poor and is mostly cornered by the people who are at the top of such groups (the so-called "creamy layer"). Since, it is a difficult political setup, no one has the courage to challenge the status quo. It will be no different for the women's reservation. The seats will be cornere…