Thursday, August 29, 2019

Road To Tokyo: Episode 7

August 29
Major Dhyanchand’s 114th birthday also celebrated as India’s National Sports Day. And almost two years to the day since this blog series started.

Since Episode 6, there hasn’t been any change in the qualification count for India. There were Quota places up for grabs in Shooting, Canoeing, Equestrian and Rowing but unfortunately our athletes couldn’t grab any during the last month. But we have had some progress across sports.

PV Sindhu becomes India’s first ever Badminton World Champion. This in now the sixth year in a row in which she has got a major medal (World Championships/Olympics) and she is still only 24! Badminton quotas will be confirmed via rankings in end-April next year. On current form, we should have multiple Indian representation in all events.

Indian women have qualified for the Asian Olympic qualifiers to be held in January.

No quotas in the shotgun events so far. However, there is an intense battle going on for places in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle, where India has booked the maximum 2 quotas but have 3 shooters, Apurvi Chandela, Anjum Moudgil & Elavenil Valarivan winning World Cup medals consistently.

Indian Men & Women Teams won the Olympic test events at Tokyo. Although much should not be read into this!

Baseball – India are out of contention.

Total Qualifier Count – Sports - 3, Events – 8, Entries -12, Participants – 11.

Coming Up Next – World Championships in Wrestling, Weightlifting and Athletics. And more qualification events across the board.

P.S. Episode 7 was on time. Hopefully Episode 8 will continue the momentum!

Road To Tokyo: Episode 6 

Monday, August 19, 2019

BookMarks #60: The McKinsey Way

Title: The McKinsey Way 
Author: Ethan Rasiel 
Genre: Non-fiction, Management 
Published: 1999 


The title seemed promising - providing a glimpse of the way McKinsey or “The Firm” (as it is referred to) operates and maybe even its history. But all we get is a glimpse and no real insights. Also reading the book about 20 years after its original publication makes it really outdated. The book would certainly need a major overhaul to stay relevant in today’s times. 

The good things about the book - 
(a) It is a short volume. And at times feels like a presentation version of a book rather than the real thing. 
(b) Talks about the importance of having/collecting facts and data over gut feelings and using the data to validate hypothesis. 
(c) The use of MECE structure – Mutually Exclusive Collective Exhaustive. 
(d) The importance of having a life beyond work. 

The not so good things about the book – 
(a) Sounds too pompous and full of itself at times. Especially in the light of the fact that the author was in the “Firm” only for a relatively short tenure! 
(b) Nothing about McKinsey’s history – how it became a global consulting giant so that business would come knocking to them rather than the company having to ever seek work. 
(c) The Waterfall Chart – It is a good representation for analyzing changes (plan vs actual or periodic), but it certainly is not a McKinsey exclusive as the author tries to make it up. 
(d) Working late nights and taking pride in it – Why do we glorify this culture? An emergency is only when someone's health is at stake, but we have glorified a working culture where even making organization charts becomes a matter of grave urgency! 
(e) And the numerous references to Mr. Hamish McDermott and his work at McKinsey. It almost felt like a pseudonym of the author himself. 

Overall, a decent read but dated and full of hyperbole. Can be easily skipped. 

Previously on BookMarks: The Perfect Murder

Friday, August 16, 2019

BookMarks #59: The Perfect Murder

Title: The Perfect Murder 
Author: Various, Compiled by Ruskin Bond 
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Compendium, Short Stories 
Published: 2017 

This is a compilation of eight whodunits from various authors around the world. An intriguing collection of mysteries – some are good, some are disappointing. Some have the buildup but no real conclusion! 

#1 The Perfect Murder – by Stacy Aumonier 
Two brothers plan a murder to get an inheritance. One is the executor, the other is racked by guilt and then there is a surprising turn of events! 

#2 The Red headed League – by Arthur Conan Doyle 
Featuring Sherlock Holmes, as he attempts to resolve a mystery of a man who wants to understand why the job he had got for his red head has suddenly disappeared. In the process unveiling something far more sinister! 

#3: He Said It With Arsenic – by Ruskin Bond 
The author, after his first major success, gets a visit from his long-lost uncle who had spent time in jail for a double murder via arsenic poisoning. And then has a decision to make! 

#4: The Interruption – by W. W. Jacobs 
A man gets his inheritance through a well-disguised murder. Then becomes a target of blackmail, till he attempts to turn the tables on the blackmailer. 

#5 When Al Capone was Ambushed – Jack Bilbo 
Jack Bilbo is hired as a bodyguard by Al Capone. The story is an extract of his action-packed first day at the job. 

#6 The Lodger – Marie Belloc Lowndes 
An old couple get a mysterious lodger on rent at their place. Meanwhile there is a series of murders happening in the city. 

#7 The Duel – Wilkie Collins 
A trip across the channel to France brings with it, its own adventures including a duel with pistols! 

#8 The Cask of Amontillado – Edgar Allan Poe 
A wine tasting expedition leads to a chilling end. 

Previously on BookMarks – Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

India @ 72

Happy Birthday India!
It’s time for my annual round up of the things India (2018 edition is here

Between birthdays India celebrated its biggest festival – the General Elections. The BJP government returned to power with an increased majority, while all others were reduced to an also-ran status. It has been three months since the election rout, the Opposition is still looking for a leader while the government struts around with a smug look on its face. Never a good sign for a democracy.

The country’s political map is set for another change with Jammu & Kashmir being downgraded from a state to a Union Territory while Ladakh has been carved out as a separate Union Territory in its own right. The repercussions of the action are yet to be seen and hopefully the transition is a peaceful one for the local communities – the real stakeholders. We do not know whats happening on ground and sources give their own version of the story!

We came close to war with Pakistan. There were attacks, and counter-strikes and lots of hot air. As usual, lives needlessly lost while the economy took a bit of a hit but “patriotic fervor” ran high, lots of political posturing was done and soon all was back to normal. Except for the immediate families of the martyred.

Meanwhile the economy is heading to doldrums and there is no immediate solution in sight. The aviation and auto sectors have been taking one hit after another and soon could be joined by others especially the financial sectors. Economics is far more important than politics in running the world. Fingers crossed on this front.

Our infrastructure is crumbling. The cities are imploding under their own weight aided by the corrupt local regimes and a bit of nature’s fury. Wonder how long before total disaster is reached.

On the sporting front, India lost in the semi-finals of the Men’s ODI World Cup which they should have won. And this is not an Olympic year, so none of the other sports count! So we can conclude that it was a year of underachievement on the sporting front as well.

But we still have hope. After all if we can reach for the moon what are these little troubles on land!

Wishing all a very Happy Independence Day!