An East Delhi Citizen's Blog

general riff about politics, education, media, society, cricket..

Archive for the month “April, 2009”

Good marketing of a trashy product just sinks it faster

(Or, how it is now established that Sunil Gavaskar indeed knows his cricket)

Let’s face it; even if the full team was available, KKR would have struggled.
Their batting relies too much on the top 3; Sourav comes in too late to matter. Remember, he has always been the sort who plays himself in for a few overs before launching into top gear.
The only decent bowler they have is Ishant. The rest of them are pathetic. The bench strength is so poor that Agrakar keeps playing match after match. Though, it is a mystery to many why Mashrafe Mortaza is warming the bench when the KKR team bought him for such a high price. The mystery is compunded by Ashok Dinda playing their last match as a specialist batsman.
Even in the last IPL, all the matches won by KKR was on the strength of inspired individual performances: like Shoaib Akhtar in that one match or Ganguly’s superlative knock in another.
In a lot of ways, KKR reflects the big budget Shahrukh potboiler: where Shahrukh is expected to carry the movie on his own; support cast or no support cast. But, cricket, as Sunil Gavaskar is too polite to point out to Shahrukh, is played by 11 men on the field and the roles of the director, script-writer etc are limited once those 11 are in the field. There are no re-takes, no “cuts” and normally no second chances unless of course, there is a dropped catch!

I was amused to read Buchanan’s interview in a Bengali daily where he claims that his franchise is 100% behind him and he is “on plan” to creating long term assets. He probably wants to put this year and the previous year behind him and talk about how in the long term, KKR will grow cricketing talent in the country. Alex Ferguson and Manchester United; take note. Someone else reads your script.

But, Mr Buchanan, even a phenomenally successful coach like Ferguson needs constant good performance from his present team to justify investments in the future. Given the pathetic run of this team, if Shahrukh wants to continue his involvement in this team, he has to write off many bad invstments and make new ones.

A high profile built up only on high voltage marketing is vulnerable. If nothing else, to ridicule. The Fake IPL Player is only fishing in troubled waters. Calming the waters, getting the right players in the team and getting them focused on the job of playing cricket the way at least some of them can, is what the team needs and its supporters expect.

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What if?

Many years back, in an MNC where I was employed then, they ran an global advertisement campaign headlined: “We never stop asking ourselves: What if?”.
 The campaign was about our well-earned (at least then!) reputation for designing and following sound processes. It was about asking questions to customers about what made sense to them and then designing processes and equipment and following through with sound execution and top of the class manufacturing  that justified the high premium our customers paid for them.

Our goal was to design a process or product for customer delight and then build in a large “stress-margin” so that even in the worst of circumstances, our products will work better than specified and our processes for delighting the customers will not fail.

I am a convert. I am zealot for that company; it has been almost ten years since I left. But, I still believe every line of that campaign and the examples they quoted in support of the central idea. Because, in the olden days, that was the company HP was. I am still an ambassador or an evangelist of the old HP way.

Why am I bringing up all this now? To basically comment on the recent two deaths of schoolgirls; Shanno and Akriti in Delhi.

While we all wait for the formal enquiries into their deaths to establish faults if any, I think we can safely predict the following: No school in Delhi, whether it is an expensive public school or a Municipal School in Narela, has a procedure for crisis management. 

How would a  similar incident be handled again? How would the schools ensure that such incidents do not recur?

In the absence of a clearly laid down policy and crisis management procedures, the teachers on the spot are left to improvise a response. I am sure they manage well in most cases; except when there is a real crisis and they are found wanting in their responses.
A policy handbook need not run into hundreds of pages; the best ones do not. In both Shanno and Aakriti’s case, a recognition of the need for urgent medical attention and rushing the girls to the nearest hospital would have sufficed. In both cases, precious time may have been lost while the teachers and students tried to get someone to own responsibility for action. Should this be decided ad-hoc?
I have seen suggestions from parents and comments that the school should have a “proper” doctor on premise. What next? A hospital on premise? Especially when all it needs is common sense and process orientation?

The school should have documented the process for any kind of medical emergencies. It could have either identified one person (with back-ups identified) who needs to be informed and who will decide on next steps or it could have empowered any teacher to follow through on emergencies. Having done the documentation of the process and ownership, it is a matter of communicating the names and contact details of the “process owners” to all the students and teachers and making the emergency contact details visible. Also, the “process owners” should be given real power to decide and follow through. And, they should be aware and trained on the possible choices they have in a matter of crisis.
In the spirit of “What if…?”, will the schools be prepared for the next attack of asthma or heat-stroke? Or, drowning? Or a fall?

How the absence of innate decency in public discourse hurts us

Hating Obama | Obama derangement syndrome | The Economist

Lexington, in his latest column in the Economist, points to early disquiet with Obama’s presidency in the US. He says, and I quote:
“criticisms that has been mounting since Mr Obama won the election—that he is a big government socialist (or fascist) who wants to take people’s money away and crush their freedoms……
What is clear is that the rapid replacement of Bush-hatred with Obama-hatred is not healthy for American politics. ….. today polarisation is almost instant, thanks in part to the growing role of non-negotiable issues such as abortion in American politics, in part to the rise of a media industry based on outrage, and in part to a cycle of tit-for-tat demonisation. This is not only poisoning American political life. It is making it ever harder to solve problems that require cross-party collaboration such as reforming America’s health-care system or its pensions.”

Could Lexington have been talking about the Indian polity?
As our country goes to polls, our leaders have been busy venting their spleen about each other in full public and media glare As Advani calls Manmohan “Nikamma” and “weak” and Manmohan responds with interest, one can only watch with dismay. Modi and Priyanka Gandhi have been bandying words like “budiya” and “gudiya”.. one dreads the prospect of further poetical riposte on the same lines! It may not even stop at relatively harmless “kutiya” once the Hindi heartland is aroused.
I do not know about you, but I think the wounds caused by Manmohan and Advani to each other will take a long time to heal thereby virtually ruling out bipartisanship on most issues when the next government is formed with either of these gentlemen at the helm. Which means that we are facing the prospect of another few years of petty politicking, futile posturing and scoring off each other. If you are holding your breath for action on any of the pressing national issues requiring parties to agree; be it labour reform or anti-terrorism measures, hold no longer. Action won’t happen, in the absence of consensus. It is sad that such urbane and elderly statesmen take recourse to language that in the US is used by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
However, Advani and Manmohan are unlikely to sit on the tresury benches together. But, given the predictions from most of the opinion polls, almost every politician in India today is as likely to be friend or foe with any other politician from another party, once the results are declared. So, Congress can come to power with the support of Laloo- Paswan- Mulayam or, wait.. didn’t Pranab and Laloo’s intemperate face-off yesterday kind of rule it out?
We have now several groupings: Congress-NCP, BJP, Left Parties- Mayawati-BJD, Laloo-Mulayam-Paswan (LMP), Mayawati… they have all made fiery speeches and personal attacks against each other. Left has ruled out supporting a Congress government or a BJP government. Mayawati has not ruled out anything but then, who can trust her fidelity for more than 3 months?  LMP will not support BJP and can not work with the Left parties unless the Left jettisons Mayawati.
The post-election arithmetic will be interesting enough (or challenging enough, depending on your viewpoint). The politicians, by open name calling and painting themselves into an ideological corner, are all but ruling out stability in the post-election scenario.

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