Saturday, January 31, 2009

Feeling far away

Work has been overwhelming -- and I realized I haven't written for a while. So many things to write about, I will start with a few comments on my new President, and then later do a post about my work, since I realize I haven't written much (or anything) about that at all.

First, an image sent to me by friend Julie Feinsilver, who took this on inauguration day.
The big ears to listen theme is great. Obama's election signifies hope for many groups around the world. I have seen several columns in Indian papers asking "where is the Indian Obama?" and some Dalit (the low folks on the social totem pole here) leaders speaking about the inspiration he provides.

On a completely different note, one advantage of being here is being able to watch the Australian Open tennis live and at a reasonable hour. What an amazing match yesterday between Nadal and Verdasco, it just kept going on and on with unbelieveable tennis. I'm still not sure how we'll be able to watch the super bowl, but I will make an effort as the Steelers look strong.

Our cable provider switched out BBC for CNN, so now we can watch Larry King and Anderson Cooper and get a sense of what is going on a bit more in the US. I have to say that I feel very far away when I watch these guys -- whether they are talking to Joe Torre about A-Rod, or Tom Daschle's tax problems -- and that I think that feeling this distance from time to time in life is healthy.

More later on work, but I'll post this now before I go out to buy some groceries.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The world changes today

This time, for a change, in a positive way. President Barack Obama. Barack Hussein Obama. Wow. A day when it is easy to be proud to be American in so many ways. Endless hopes -- both American and global. Let us all wish him the best, as the challenges he faces will require all the hope and prayers that everyone in the world can shower upon him.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bush and India

Today's New York Times has an interesting piece by Anand Giridharadas entitled "India Has a Soft Spot for Bush" in the Week in Review section.  While much of official India (and regular citizens) are very happy that the nuclear deal went through, and grateful to the American President for pushing it, I think the article overstates the affection that India feels for Mr. Bush.  Also, the hope that a declining American empire can pass its values to a rising India seems a bit farfetched until there is a major change of attitude in the middle and upper classes here. Once those groups accept the need to create, fund, and empower effective institutions to resolve many of the collective action problems that India faces it will be plausible as an heir to American empire -- mainly in the sense of giving opportunities to its citizens.  On the international side, India needs to accept that playing an international role means more than showing up at negotiations and not moving (although they clearly are emulating the US with this tactic), or at least the acknowledge the tremendous work (and resources) that is required to pull off that strategy, especially when you are not yet the superpower you dream to be.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

India's Enron

The buzz is about the tremendous accounting fraud at Satyam, one of India's supposedly most successful outsourcing giants. Today's New York Times article, "Financial Scandal at Outsourcing Company Rattles a Developing Country," captures some of the uncertainty created by this scandal. For Indian coverage, rediff (sort of like India's Yahoo) provides complete coverage of "the Satyam fiasco." India is just learning about the downside of capitalism, with longer work hours being mandated by many firms, layoffs at others, and now doubt about whether any of the financial statements produced by any firms can be believed. Let's see what the SEBI (India's SEC) does, especially in light of CEO Mr. Raju's disappearance.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Back from Buffalo

Back in Bangalore, where the warmth, blue skies (okay, sometimes grey from pollution), and flowers in bloom contrast with the snow and cold in Buffalo. Back to ads to visit Taiwan and Kenya instead of Mexico and Jamaica. Back to newspapers that seem more inward looking and less analytical by the day. Back to dosai and sambar. Back to workers at all levels who do only exactly what they are told to do -- making me realize how much I appreciate American pragmatism and "can-do-it"ism. Still plagued by jet lag. I will try to return to more frequent postings now that I'm back.

My new year's greeting to all: help make the world a happier, healthier, and friendlier place.