Saturday, September 24, 2005

Where the sun never rises...

In my days at IIM Calcutta, I have learnt many things we say about ourselves that pass on from each batch of students to the next. One such proud remark, which has its roots in what some nobody said in the court of a queen of a small island east of the Atlantic. Yes, you guessed it right--IIMC, where the sun never sets!

Now this may seem disturbing to most proponents of the theories of one Copernicus, but as we all know, the fellow is dead for four hundred years, maybe even he doubts his theories by now. For all we know, the sun and earth may both be revolving around each other, changing times and durations of days, months and seasons. And so it may happen that one day, these unlikely bedfellows strike a balance of angular velocities so precise, that the sun may actually never set. But, in this deep, metaphorical perpetuality of daylight, I pause, brooding whether the solar cycle has anything to do with our lifestyles at Joka anyway?

To be honest, I have never seen the sun rise in Joka as well as I have seen it set. Because after all, that is when my day begins, with the hassles of attending classes done and despatched, it is time to do some real work as the blue sky gives away to a faraway indigo, then to a vermillion, and finally creeps up our weighed down shoulders in deep black, each inch of darkness covering us, slowly, steadily, eventually. In this cover of insecure hideousness, all of us set out for our tasks, be it assignments, movies, cases, parties, projects, addas, exams, outings or any other cocktail of these, each one of us trying to find O. Henry's so called magic proportion, wherein the intoxication of the concoction would be strong enough to keep us running and gunning for the next day.

By the time we are finished, we are finished. And then, a few moments before the sun would make its attempt to come out of the lake towards the east, by some law of nature which a later Copirnicus may discover someday, the propensity to drop dead asleep grabs controls and overpowers any will that we may have left to see the sun rising. Some survive this battle, and see what may only be described as glorious especially in misty January mornings--the others die fighting.

So does the sun really never set? I'll say yes, since every time I wake up, I am up for a new challenge. Or maybe I agree simply because I have no evidence that the sun rose in the first place! Whichever way it may be, its still beautiful here at JokaLand...


Thursday, September 22, 2005

SPICMACAY concert: An evening with Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia


I saw somebody here mentioning about the evening and therefore, putting up some photos of the event and people who made it happen. Though, it is good to be a part of the team that organized the event, we also do realise that it should not be a one-off event and efforts are being put in to ensure that SPICMACAY IIM Calcutta Sub Chapter stays alive.

Posted originally at

This tuesday, Sep 17th, 2005, we have organized a SPICMACAY concert in our campus. We hosted Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia as a part of Virasat 2005.

The performance which started exactly at 6 in the evening, lasted for an hour and enthralled the capacity crowd at the MCHV Auditorium. Panditji fondly remembered the last time he performed at the campus in the Library Auditorium and had the crowds in splits with his humor. All in all, the event ended smoothly and was worth all our efforts.

Ameya, Hariharan and Chetan along with myself and dozen other PGP1s were the organizing team and it was real fun doing all the planning. The event was very small scale; but the level of planning that went into it was amazing. Particularly worth mentioning was Ameya who planned it down to the minutest of details. Konda would be a better person to give you an account of that :)

The team

Hariharan, Myself and Ameya

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All the four of us

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The Event

Snapshots from the performance

From close

Zoomed out image

The press coverage (pre-event).

The Telegraph

The post event press coverage is yet to be released.

Chalooz, shall update this post once the press coverage comes out... till then.. signing off...


Equally relevant to us?

Nine suggestions to improve Wharton's curriculum
By Ari M. Chester, WG '06

Has the caliber of Wharton's academic deteriorated? If so, is this problem unique to Wharton? Note the following excerpt from a recent Atlantic Monthly (March 2005) expose on higher education:

"It was hard work to get into Harvard, and then it was hard work competing for offices and honors and extracurriculars with thousands of brilliant and driven young people; hard work keeping our heads in the swirling social world; hard work fighting for... investment banking jobs... But the academics-the academics were another story."

Replace Harvard with Wharton. Sound familiar? Nevertheless, from discussions with MBA students from our peer schools, I am convinced the Wharton is not only rated the top business school, but also has an academic program which is unparalleled-as we will continue to be, if the administration addresses the following issues:

Core qualitative classes: One weakness has been classes like Leadership. Whether or not leadership can be taught, we could at least have meaningful readings. More than management theories, we should be reading books about leaders or by leaders. Perhaps Wharton could consult with the wealth of academic expertise in Penn's other graduate programs in structuring a curriculum that better reflects a more qualitative, or liberal arts, sensibility. We should be reading books like Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, the novel of self-discovery about the Buddha. Short, easy to read, and classic, this book would allow for sincerely meaningful introspection, as well as imparting multicultural "global management" insights.

Integrating disciplines: Our classes are not well integrated, and we lack a general case-based class that teaches us how to broadly approach managerial problems. Typically the "answer" to a case is obvious, in the sense that we know which frameworks to apply (i.e., LTVC=marketing, Porter=strategy). The joint marketing and statistics project was an attempt to integrate classes in the core, but insufficient. We should have an interdisciplinary seminar class in the core, in Q4 of the first year or Q1 of the second year, where cases are given to which could be applied frameworks from all our classes.

Teamwork: Wharton prides itself for spearheading the learning team model. Working well with a team, undoubtedly a vital competency in today's business environment, oftentimes comes at the expense of individual learning. My learning team realized from the onset that an efficient team dynamic usually entailed separation of labor. Thus, the ex-consultant did the PowerPoints, the international students did the math, and I did the writing. Our learning team received the highest scores for the least amount of work, but our successful team dynamic sometimes came at the expense of individual learning. In structuring Wharton's curriculum, the faculty and administration must carefully weigh the balance-and sometimes conflict-between team dynamics and individual learning.

Participation and Preparation: Student preparation for class could be encouraged by a combination of cold calling, quizzes, and greater emphasis on class participation as a component of the grade. Cold calling is relatively atypical in core classes, yet ironically students appreciate the classes in which it occurs. Frequent, short quizzes are another way to keep students to task. Finally, class participation must have more weight. It should not be possible to sit through an entire semester, speak only once or twice (if even), and still pass.

Concert Rules: As the year ends, I find myself appreciative of concert rules. It is obnoxious, disruptive, and highly disrespectful when a student saunters in 20 minutes late with a cup of coffee. Why have the concert rules become little more than a memory of last semester? Because there are no substantial punitive consequences beyond "see me after class." Absenteeism is another endemic problem in some classes. Here is the solution: There should be a mandated QC, perhaps even NC, if students have more than one or two unexcused absences per semester. And teachers should take attendance every class-at the beginning of class.

Exams: We shouldn't still be taking written blue-book exams. Since 1994, students at HBS and Stanford have been taking written exams on personal computers (this was before laptops were mainstream). Sitting down to take a two-hour hand-written exam in a blue book is a joke. I'd almost rather QC a class than hurt my wrists and waste two hours scribbling illegible dribble that somehow will count for half of my grade.

Our exams are also too easy. In qualitative classes, they should require the unique application of frameworks (like in Marketing or Strategy) rather than mindless regurgitation of facts (like in Managing People at Work and BPUB). Also, exams in quantitative classes should not replicate those posted on webcafé from previous years. Students can avoid attending class and avoid doing coursework, yet study exams from previous years-and still pass!

Grade Disclosure: The faculty will soon vote on a proposal to add a second tier of honors encompassing the top 25% of the class, which undermines the student-initiated grade nondisclosure policy. If your resume doesn't list "top 25%" honors, recruiters know there's a likelihood that you are in the bottom half of the class. Grade disclosure is not the answer to Wharton's problems. It is a simplistic solution to problems that are more extensive. Arguably grade disclosure would further degrade academics. It would discourage students from taking more challenging electives, and it would attenuate our collaborative spirit.

Extracurricular activities: Conventional wisdom suggests that we face a tripartite-Matrix of which Wharton students must choose two at most: recruiting, social, and academics. In managing our priorities, sometimes we neglect academics. One suggestion is to increase capacity in the leadership ventures, which are opportunities for in-depth involvement during our breaks. Decreased costs, as well as scholarships, will further encourage participation.

Hunstman Hall: The devil is in the details. Most Wharton students, commuting from Center City, are hard-pressed to find study space at Hunstman. Our study lounge has insufficient capacity to accommodate even a fraction of demand. One half-hearted solution has been opening up vacant classroom space, yet an empty classroom is not well suited for individual study. In future years, major capital renovations will be needed.

In conclusion, the problem is not always the student. Despite concerns about regressive academic trends, my MBA education has lived up to my expectations-and socially, my MBA experience has exceeded my expectations. It is time for the faculty and administration to catch up with the students.

Friday, September 16, 2005

a better way to combat poverty?

"If well done, these conditional cash-transfer schemes, as they are called, have several advantages over traditional social spending. Unlike public pensions or social insurance (which mainly benefit the better-off) or indiscriminate subsidies, they target the poor. The aim is both to help them and to break the cycle of poverty by giving their children a better chance to escape it. The money is normally paid to women (who spend it better than men). Payments—the equivalent of $50-70 a month—are high enough to make a difference but low enough not to distort labour markets by removing the incentive to work. The fiscal cost is fairly modest."

Comments are invited. The complete article is available here

Monday, September 12, 2005

i see an eye. am in i, i am sea



if you believe in probablity, you are a fatalist. your life is therefore out of your control as there are more variables than you can ever imagine, comprehend or know. it is therefore inevitable that you will arrive at the question popularly known as why. why? as you struggle to find an answer, your infallible mind dwells on the past. as you disenchantedly mangle the past and project it onto the future, you begin to develop illusions of grace. you continuously seek these illusions like fishes in the sea, birds in the rain, trees in the forest or dewdrops in the moonlight. whichever you please, whichever you desire, or whichever is a fraction of your mind's eye. soon you find yourself living. in a human dream. a dream that is soon destroyed by your beliefs. statistically inconsistent in the first place.
the faster you absorb, the slower your life becomes. you continuously wrap yourself in the most secure encapsulations of your rich experience. some of you play, paint or scream. the rest of you just drink along with the next person in the room. dissatisfaction creeps, some way, your head sleeps. you imagine forgetting. and a nightmare begins. you realise that you are not like the fishes, birds or trees. you are in fact, a cave in the mountains, a shadow under a street light, or a reflection in a dewdrop. the world that surrounds you was your choice. don't break it, question it or paint it grey. accept it. that's your only choice. statistically proven. otherwise, you'd be dead. or are you ?

words on a screen are flies. swat them and hit glass. another fly made of sand. bury your feet and spend the sand. its just a piece of paper. a shred of invisible light.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

dependence decays a dream

fret for your cold trial
if the morning doesn't

make sense anymore

its an unreasonable world
and insensitivity charades

on and on, a dirty smile

to sense a whole new driver
a meaning without a cause

your boredom will approach

quieter than a hailstorm
if it helps ease your woe