Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

Is it End of 2008 or Beginning of 2009… As the year comes to an end…this question always comes to my mind. How should one look at it?

I think it’s good to do both…while the coming year holds lot of promise, the year gone by serves as a great teacher.

Rarely do we look back individually to analyze how did the year go, what were the lessons learnt, what we did right, where did we go wrong and what we could have done better. So let me put down my intellections on what I think about the year gone by and what plans I have for the New Year.

I am yet to come across a more intriguing year than the current one. The year experienced such a blend of events, each watershed in its own right, leaving my head tossed. Rarely do we see spectacular highs and worrisome lows within the same year for e.g. oil touched high of $150/barrel giving shock to world energy managers and low of $38/barrel, making it cheaper than a bottle of water. 2008 was a watershed year in many ways.

Let’s talk about our country first. There may be many, but I am picking up which has left impression on me. Starting with good occurrences; I begin with sports. Sports has been an absolute victor this year. Abhinav Bindra, Vijendar, Saina Nehwal, Vishwanathan Anand, Pankaj Advani, Jeev Milkha Singh, Gagan Narang, M.S. Dhoni leading the show in respective disciplines making India proud at Olympic and World events. Nothing to beat India’s first individual Olympic gold. It’s very important that we build up on this. For us to be counted as developed nation wealth is not the only criteria, it’s important to excel in all the other faculties and sports being foremost.

In the world of politics, signing of nuclear deal and people coming out in large nos. to exercise Universal Adult Franchise made the year significant. There has been a significant change in the process of elections. Delimitation has happened and therefore urban voters will get more say. Increasingly elections are being fought on developmental issues. Reelection of governments in Gujarat, Delhi and M.P. are testimony to this fact. It was also heartening to see record high J&K voter turnouts sending a clear signal that they need good governance and not divisive politicking.

We took defining steps towards becoming a formidable player in space technology with successful Chandrayaan mission. The mission besides launching a moon probe also launched the Indian flag on the moon and delivered ten satellites in the orbit - all this in half the cost of a typical American, European or Russian mission.

In world of business, with economy going great guns in first half of the year, Indian entrepreneurs proved venturous making audacious attempts at acquiring businesses throughout the globe. Most notably, Tatas took over Corus and British iconic automotive brands. Unfortunately the Indian stalwart was humbled at home turf by crass politics played by likes of Mamata and Left. Indian Inc. at home also shed inhibitions of keeping controlling stakes with themselves and did what made sense for company and in turn shareholders, notably the Ranbaxy-Daichi deal. PE funds made a beeline for India.

Judiciary took concrete steps to clean their house. They could have done more, but still not a bad beginning, unlike legislature and executive which show no signs of improving or taking corrective actions.

Each coin has two sides, so amongst the same categories there have been stains as well. Amongst the painful events – scourge of terrorism would top the list. Blasts all over and Mumbai carnage woke us up from complacency. The only blessing in disguise was that it brought the country together which otherwise was appearing to be a bit fractured.

Politicians came in for severe criticism post Mumbai attacks and were questioned for the first time by the people. Demand was unanimous in their call for greater accountability. Political landscape was disappointing with Parliament reaching new lows. Hardly any debates or the ones on which it did happen, the quality was so low that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Opposition parties mindlessly kept opposing and ruling alliances rarely made any effort to build consensus. The way ‘trust vote’ was won, even Manmohan sullied his clean image. ‘Cash’ landed at the well of the house and yet nobody has been found guilty. We saw fatuous politics played by Left and Mamta, votebank appeasement politics by the likes of Antulay and somewhat disruptive politics played by BJP. Ruling alliance was no better keeping themselves busy in saving the government at centre rather than effectively ruling the country. Cannot complete this without mentioning Mr Shivraj Patil, who redefined incompetency and ineffectiveness by taking it to Himalayan heights.

In business, 3 major events dominated the headlines. First, effect of globalization was at display, growth slowed down, sensex at 1/3rd of its highs and thousands losing their jobs. Second, Tatas moving the Nano plant to Gujarat, courtesy crass politics of Mamta and Left. Third one, causing considerable damage to Brand India, painstakingly built by India Inc., was the action by the Satyam board to merge with Maytas. I am still at loss to believe on how they could shoot themselves in foot. Such a blatant disregard and not one dissenting vote, still rubbing my eyes in disbelief. It was left to shareholders to teach a lesson.

Moving on, professionally and personally, I started this year on a very good note. Professionally, I moved on to a new role to build and kickstart couple of business lines with a dream to create multibillion dollar businesses out of them in coming years. The year held lot pf promise. The bouquet of verticals gave me opportunity to work on ‘Build’, ‘Turnaround’ ‘Sustain Success’ and ‘Ramp Up’ strategies thereby adding to my skills. Had the opportunity to work with the smartest minds in the trade – CEO extraordinaire and a fabulous team to support, all breathing passion. The objectives were clear and I had clear mental image of the outcome. Overall enthusiasm within the company was high, given our 2007 results and collectively we all wanted to make 2008 even bigger and erase the memories of the lows of 2005-6 forever. I took major strategic decisions to realign my portfolio towards growth and profitability. It was turning out to be great year, however events post October were shattering. Markets seized and we were not immune as well. We thrive of deals, meeting customers and drive the team and all that came to a standstill. But as I said earlier it has served as a great learning experience. We should not allow this to take over our minds. Weak minds will then lead to weak actions and then begins a vicious vortex leading to failure and collapse.

Personally, I was able to work on my fitness upping my fitness levels. I could rebuild stamina to run 5-7 Kms with ease. My golf got a serious push. The mantra in both the cases was to take a public pledge. Friendships remained intact and thrived. Read lot of books. Revived my interest in blogging, infact most of posts are of this year. So all in all, it had all the ingredients of a very satisfying year.

But all that got thunderous knock with the downturn and economic seizure pervading all around. With gloom all around, it became difficult to remain happy. But I have decided to stay positive.

Never have I have waited for the New Year with so much of eagerness and hope as is the case in this year. Not that I am expecting any miracle as a cure of all worries. So I plan to attack my worries head-on. Foremost by staying positive, which would come by continuing to build on what I started this year - Keep working on fitness, improve golf handicap, keep blogging and enjoy my work. Want to play to my imagination, which will come by practicing mental mastery and hence plan to add ‘dhyan’ in my routine. My dad, who practices ‘Vihangam Yog’ under aegis of Vihangam Yog Sansthan and current Parampara Sadguru Swami Swatantra Dev Maha Ji, is an ardent believer in the power of ‘Dhyan’. It teaches the yoga of soul, essentially Dhyan, which has the power to heal and liberate the soul. I want to try this, consciously, this year. Professionally, 2009 is going to be the toughest year. I want to keep challenging myself, take my fears and my weaknesses head-on and keep learning, to keep my professional journey exciting and rewarding.

So here I am, with mixed emotions. I want to thank GOD, my family, my friends, my colleagues, and everyone who connected with me and made 2008 great and memorable. In the same breath, I am also very excited, filled with lot of hope, anticipation and joy to welcome the New Year with open hands. Let 2009 bring lot of joy and happiness to everyone and peace to mankind.

Wishing everyone a very peaceful, healthy and joyous New Year.

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