Monday, May 25, 2015

Six interesting takeaways from IPL-8

We have witnessed perhaps the most exciting IPL ever. Till the last day and the last match of the preliminary games, we didn’t have a clue as to which teams will make it to the top 4 (2nd to 4th positions) and at what position a team will end up with. Three teams who lost out were in contention till the penultimate day. Only Kings XI Punjab were truly out of contention. What followed in the Qualifiers and Eliminator games were worth watching. Everything ended with Mumbai Indians taking on Chennai Super Kings at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Since losing in their first 4 games, Mumbai came back and won most of everything that came their way, including the all-important finals! Mumbai’s performance in the final was reminiscent of Australian teams winning World Cup finals in the last 1990’s and early 2000’s. Ricky Ponting presence probably made a difference as he was leading the Australian team then and now the head coach of Mumbai Indians this season. Chennai doesn’t have to feel bad about the result as they have been the most consistent IPL team in IPL history. 

Mumbai-Indians-IPL-2015-Champions-Group-Pic-Wallpaper

Here are some of the interesting takeaways from IPL season 8:
  1. Top 3 teams in IPL-8 were captained by Indians: That’s right. Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore were captained by Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli respectively. The best non-Indian captain of an IPL team was Steven Smith of Rajasthan Royals (not surprising at all). David Warner (Sun Risers Hyderabad), JP Duminy (Delhi Daredevils) and George Bailey (Kings XI Punjab) all failed as a captain to lead their team to the knockouts. What does that say? Two things in my opinion – one, Indians leaders definitely know the conditions well and have their strategies in place and two, having the best player as captain is not always the best decision. David Warner and JP Duminy played well as individuals for their team but the collective was missing.
  2. Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians are the best teams in IPL: Without a doubt, they are! Before you start arguing why I missed out on Kolkata and Bangalore, let me explain why these 2 teams are the best. They are consistent. They win matches when it matters the most. They have been past winners (Chennai – 2 and Mumbai – 2). They have been in the finals the most compared to others (Chennai – 6 and Mumbai – 3). They have been in the knockouts the most compared to others too (Chennai – always and Mumbai – 6). With IPL done with 8 seasons, the media have to start analysing teams and bring in team rivalries to make it interesting. Don’t you think we need a Manchester United v/s Liverpool level rivalry in IPL too? What about a Barcelona v/s Real Madrid? Sony Six will do themselves a world of good by promoting such competitions to bring it additional revenues in IPL. That’s one way to make money. Fans will also keep track of such matches in upcoming seasons of IPL. IPL needs to move on to the next stage and team rivalries can be a great way to start.
  3. Delhi needs a makeover, again: To be fair, Delhi started the IPL well (in seasons 1 and 2, they finished 4th and 3rd respectively). They were one of the top teams in IPL.  And then came the decline – 5th (2010), last (2011), 3rd (2012), last (2013), last (2014), 2nd to last (2015). The management of Delhi Daredevils have tried to change their setup every year, but to no avail. Retaining JP Duminy was a good decision and I feel they should retain him again for next year. They had the players to make them go the distance but no one clicked when it mattered, again. A costly Yuvraj Singh backfired terribly. This was just not Yuvraj Singh’s season and with age against him, he will have to make a decision. If he doesn’t, the auction participants next year will surely decide for him. 
  4. AB de Villiers is Cricket’s answer to Lionel Messi: He cannot do a thing wrong. Although he plays in a team-game atmosphere, he has his own individuality that cannot be overlooked on the ground. When he brings in a new weapon to score, he amazes even the opposition fans. On occasions, the opposition team have absolutely no answer and just watch his magical tricks on display. If you follow the sport, you got to respect the player irrespective of the team you support. Losing the World Cup after coming agonizingly close brought out the tears in a player we thought was from another planet and hence devoid of emotions. Who am I talking about? Lionel Messi or AB de Villiers? Or both? The same narrative applies to both these players right?
  5. IPL is a great leveller: And Kings XI Punjab is a great example in this regard. In the 2014 season, Kings XI bull dozed their way to the top of the league table only to lose in the finals in the worst possible way (by 1 run) against a resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders. But that does not take away the fact that Kings XI were the best team in that season. Kolkata simply made it count when it mattered the most. Cut to the 2015 season and the irony is evident. The best-team-by-a-distance in 2014 has nosedived to become the worst team of 2015, also by a distance! Factually, a team that won 11 out of 14 games in 2014 lost 11 out of 14 games in 2015! I don’t think the management is to be blamed here. Kings XI retained as much as 20 players for 2015 (highest by any team). It’s just that these players stooped to a level even they thought wasn’t possible. 
  6. IPL cannot be truly complete without controversies: IPL is all about synchronously merging Cricket with entertainment. In today’s day and age, entertainment also includes controversies and scams. The glue that attaches an Indian TV audience in front of their TV set is entertainment based journalism / news that involves scams and controversies. Let’s admit it, we simply cannot resist it. IPL-8 has also ensured controversies are brought it to make the event spicier. Remember Kieron Pollard’s tape incident. I felt it was a reaction in jest which was taken a little out of proportion by some. MSD criticising an umpire during the post-match speech was totally unlike MSD. Add to it, the recently discovered spot-fixing allegation in some of the matches in IPL-8. If the news channels have their way, expect a lot of "debates" on this front!
PS: This post has been selected as one of the Tangy Tuesday Picks by BlogAdda. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Is there a flaw in the IPL rule that decides final league position?

This has been one of the most exciting IPL tournaments. It could even be the best so far. Till the last day of the league game, 4 teams were vying for the playoff berth. That’s 50% of total IPL teams, to put things in perspective. Three of the last 4 games were virtual knock-outs. That’s how competitive this IPL was. In the end, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals sneaked through to the playoffs.

This is how the points-table looks like after the league games – 

IPL 2015 Season 8 Final League table position

Do you, like me, have a doubt about the final position just by looking at the above league table? Look closely at positions 2, 3 and 4.

How did Mumbai Indians get the second spot?

This is thanks to the following rule of IPL – 

21.9.2 Where teams have an equal number of points their relative positions shall be determined by the following: 
a. the team with the most wins in matches in the League during the season will be placed in the higher position;
b. if there are teams with equal points and equal wins during the season, then in such case the team with the higher net run rate will be placed in the higher position

Although 3 teams are tied at 16 points, Mumbai overtook RCB and RR due to the extra win they have had this season. Mumbai have won 8 games. Both RCB and RR have 7 wins each and 2 washouts. Thanks to the aforementioned rule, Mumbai Indians got 2nd position. When the number of wins are same, only then Net Run Rate (NRR) will be considered. RCB has a better NRR compared to RR and hence got 3rd position with RR falling in 4th. Mumbai Indians have the worst NRR among the three teams.  

Did Mumbai Indians deserve second spot?

In my opinion, the answer is No.

Let’s understand this rationally. Such a rule makes a lot of sense in football where a draw has an equal chance of occurring compared to a definite result (win / loss). This probability does not apply in Cricket. A “no result / tie” scenario happens when a match is – 
- washed out due to weather conditions or a forfeit
- tied, i.e. two teams end with exactly the same number of runs

The first condition is not in our hands. IPL has smartly handled the 2nd condition well by introducing a ‘super over’. If the match is tied even after the super over (after considering the boundary count etc.), then it’s considered a tie. This is a rarest of rare occurrence in T20 games. Only 6 games have had a super-over in IPL history and all of them ended with a definite result, which means no tied games in IPL history.

IPL has messed up handling the 1st condition of a “no result / tie” situation – a washout. RCB and RR lost out purely due to bad luck. No one can predict rains and plan for it. It just so happened that RCB and RR had 2 washout games – even 1 victory out of these two matches would have ensured a better league position. Moreover they have better NRR, which means they have been more consistent than Mumbai, winning more convincingly than Mumbai and losing more close matches than Mumbai. Another way to look at it is that RCB and RR have lost lesser games than Mumbai yet finished below Mumbai. Not fair, right?

I am a fan of Mumbai Indians and have been supporting them since the inception of IPL and will continue supporting them till the end of IPL. This post is not against Mumbai Indians or any other team. This is just to address the flaw in deciding final league position. IPL should take notice and correct this flaw and allow relatively better team to have relatively better position. 

In my opinion, NRR should take precedence when teams are tied in the points table. NRR is a fair estimate of how a team has performed throughout the season. Had NRR been considered, Mumbai Indians would have been in 4th position behind RCB (2nd) and RR (3rd). It would have been Chennai Super Kings v/s Royal Challengers Bangalore for the 1st qualifier followed by Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians for the eliminator. 

Let’s not allow the playing conditions to decide who is placed where in the table.

Friday, May 15, 2015

App Review: My Airtel (Android)

Airtel India is in a transitional phase in Indian markets – and for all the right reasons. They are promoting their 3G connectivity across the country in print media and TV adverts. They are developing the backbone for 4G connectivity and are soon to launch the high speed alternative to 3G in Mumbai (ahead of Reliance Jio). First mover advantage in the financial capital will do them a world of good! They are coming up with more and more offers for their prepaid customers and fighting tooth & nail with other operators in the postpaid circle. All this augurs well for maintaining the leadership position in Indian markets.

They are also working on customer touch-points – improving their customer service and upgrading their app. They have released a new version of android app which is a complete overhaul over previous version. Apple users will have to wait to get their hands on the app though, but they have the advantage of reviews and deciding whether they need to install / update their Airtel app.

A smartphone user has many expectations from their smartphone. An Airtel user is also no different in this aspect. Amongst many desires, they usually crave for following –
-          Offers, offers and more offers
-          Uninterrupted and fast network
-          Eco-system

My Airtel app Android Print advertisement.jpg

Airtel went back to the drawing board and updated their android app keeping the cravings as the core. The “My Airtel” app can be downloaded from Airtel’s website or from Google Play Store.  Some of the features of the Airtel app that are interesting and have a strong chance of being replicated across other network provider apps are the following –

1.       Shake the phone and save – Every prepaid user looking for a new offer to save an extra penny will be enticed to use this app. What makes it appealing is the sound of coins when you shake the phone for more offers. Their TV advert also promotes this feature extensively. Although the concept of offers is not new to any network provider app, the concept of users shaking their handset with the app installed to select and opt for current offers makes it worth trying. By introducing free coupons, they are now challenging players like Freecharge / Paytm / CouponDunia. Much needed competition for these guys to raise their game up a notch.

2.       Easy to use interface – This is a pre-requisite of any app user, let alone “My Airtel” app. Any app should be user friendly and all the features should be easily accessible as and when needed. When user spends a considerable amount of time searching for a feature, s/he naturally starts hating the UI of the app and will be in the market for an alternative. “My Airtel” app scores on this front too.

3.       An eco-system in itself – Airtel has more to it than just being a network provider. They are into DTH as well. “My Airtel” app has covered these avenues as well. They have ensured they create an ecosystem of their own where you can connect various accounts, including family Airtel numbers for quick and easy recharges / bill payments. There’s a section for complaints new & requests. Airtel surely has their strategy in the right place. And with 4G coming, we can only expect for more!

Although there are positives in “My Airtel” app, users are bound to find loopholes with more usage of the app, possibly same offers running and technical glitches. But that’s why app updates are needed. Airtel’s work on the app is just a beginning.

But a great beginning, I must add! I fully anticipate other players to follow suit or come up with even better features. Thumbs crossed! 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Mom and I

*************** Start of Conversation ***************

Dad: It’s a Saturday. What’s your plan for today?

Daughter: Mom’s gone to work. I think we can go to the garden and you can help me enjoy the rides. Wish Mom was also free on Saturdays.

Dad: People have different timings dear. I work from Monday to Friday. Mom works from Monday to Saturday. I don’t have month-long vacations. Mom has month-long vacations. I have different problems at work, mom has her own problems.

Daughter: I know about your problems, dad. But mom also has work related problems? I have never seen her under stress.

Dad: Yes she has. She travels for more than an hour to reach her workplace. She travels in Mumbai local trains. She has to prepare a lot prior to reaching her workplace. 

Daughter: I didn’t know all this. Dad, I think we should talk about it today. We’ll go to garden in the evening once mom comes back. Let’s discuss this now.

Dad: Ok. But tell me one thing. Why do you feel mom doesn’t have work pressure?

Daughter: She never shows it. She gets up in the morning and wakes me up in the sweetest way possible. I know I am a little fussy when I get up, I seek attention. But all I am yearning for is moms love and affection when I wake up. Then she takes care of my morning chores. While you play with me in the morning, she prepares breakfast for both of us and happily places it on the table. While we are busy eating / drinking, she gets ready for work. She sees you off and then plays with me for a while. She keeps me busy with something and quietly leaves for work, so that I don't notice and cry about it.

Dad: Wow. Interesting observation, I must say.

Daughter: Even when she comes back home in the evening, she shows no sign of tiredness. She brings lollipop for me, plays with me and we happily watch television for a while. In sharp contrast, when you return home, you seem tired. You play with me for a while and then go back to the room to change and rest. Then you and mom switch roles and you play with me while mom relaxes. But all through this, she never appears tired. This made me feel that you have work pressures but mom doesn’t.

Dad: Moms are wonderful, dear. Your Grand-mom sacrificed a lot to see me doing well in life. You mom is doing the same with you.

Daughter: I agree.

Dad: I look stressed or tired probably because I feel my primary role is to protect the family – financially and otherwise, today and tomorrow. That’s what is always present in my mind. And maybe, guys are made this way. It’s difficult for a man to look happy when there’s pressure from various avenues. Maybe we are hard-wired.

Daughter: Dad, but I think you take a lot of tension. You work hard every day and the money you earn goes into the investments you have made for me, which is great. But by doing so, you are always under stress. For instance, look at all the grey hair you have. I think you need to do what I do when I have a problem.

Dad: And what’s that?

Daughter: Go to a specialist! Like when I need something, food to eat or to apply lipstick / makeup or if I hurt myself while playing, I go to mom. I don’t know how she does it, but her presence makes me forget the pain. Football makes you forget your stress, so football is a specialist for you. Grey hair is now a problem for you, I suggest you blacken your hair. Why even make it black? Try some different shades, why not go to a specialist in this field to solve it?

Dad: OK. I take your point. 

Daughter: OK. But today’s discussion is about mom. I want to know how she hides her stress from me.

Dad: That’s because moms are selfless human-beings. In a world where every person you meet outside is selfish, here’s a lady who will go out of her way to ensure you are content and happy. You will surely realize the secret when you reach that stage.

Daughter: Now, we are taking this discussion out of scope. Its about my mom, not me being a mom some day! Let’s give it 2-3 decades from now. Garden, shall we?

Dad: Yeah sure, my princess!

*************** End of Conversation ***************

This is what I think my daughter (who is 2 years and 6 months old) will say when she starts understanding the sacrifices every mom goes through, to raise a child. These are exactly the same thoughts I have of my mom too. And I am sure many of the readers will agree. Moms are special. I don’t think there will be one special instance that stands out. Every single instance with my mom stands out, like it does for my daughter. 

They say God is omnipresent. I agree. But I also feel Mothers have a huge part to play in this.

Friday, May 08, 2015

How Salman Khan’s verdict has polarized India?

Here’s a summary of what’s happening around the word – four athletes from Kerala tried to commit suicide of which 1 has died and 3 critical, GST has been passed in the Lok Sabha, Land acquisition bill has being tabled again in Lok Sabha, Nepal has moved towards rehabilitating their people, Indian political parties are playing politics over Dawood Ibrahim, Pakistan claims Dawood is not in Pakistan, Britain elections happened, Rahul Gandhi has joined twitter, Kumar Vishwas is still in news for all the wrong reasons, Sensex is doing a deep-dive, rupee is down to 64 and shows no sign of improvement. There’s more, but I choose not to deviate from the topic.

None of us can be blamed for missing out on the above mentioned events. Our ignorance is primarily because all of us were engrossed in #SalmanVerdict.

Who was behind the wheel anyway?
Wednesday, 6th of May, saw an emotional outburst from all the Indians living worldwide. Many of us even went on to question the judiciary, the establishment we Indians should have the utmost respect towards. Certain people tried flirting with logic and failed miserably at it. Some of them, probably people whose career Salman Khan built, pledged allegiance to the superstar by making ridiculous arguments. Indian media had a field day and probably achieved their monthly revenue targets from record viewership.

Through all this, I think we Indians have inadvertently divided ourselves into one of the below mentioned  groups. If the question is who divided us, I honestly don't know. I don't think Salman Khan has any role to play here. Indian media and some foolish people on social media surely played their part. 

In my opinion, #SalmanVerdict divided us into one of these groups – 
  • Salman Khan fanatic group: These are the die-hard Salman followers. The people belonging to this group are not only fans, but are “fanatic” in the real sense. These are the people who have started blaming people sleeping on footpath for the accident. Some compared this to a train driver getting arrested due to a trespassing incident. Logic took a serious beating thanks to these people. Some even suggested that he is now a changed man and hence should not be jailed. Going by this logic, eminent saints in every religion can commit accidents that results in a death but remain safe in the eyes of the law because they have done a lot of good deeds! Going by the same logic, owner of Microsoft is free to harm people since his products (namely PowerPoint and Excel) have played a huge part in the livelihood of millions.
  • Support Salman, but respect legal judgment: This is the group filled with his family, friends, well-wishers, fellow industry people and true law-abiding fans. They have given their full support to Salman Khan, but trust and respect the law of the land. They still believe that Salman has done no wrong and law will take its own course. In a way, the Friday HC decision to suspend the session court’s verdict has vindicated their stand. These are the sensible folks who know what to talk, when to talk and most importantly, when NOT to talk!
  • It doesn't matter club: I don’t think there are people in Indian who don’t know who Salman Khan is. He is a superstar in India and probably that one of those few actors in India who can assure box office success. But there are millions of people in India struggling for their daily wages to keep up with growing inflation. For these people who get up every day not knowing where their next wage is going to come from, this verdict doesn’t matter to them at all. This verdict will not help increase their wage, will not improve their standards and will do nothing for all at them. Whether you and I may not agree with this, there are many who are in this group!

Did I miss out on anything? Did I misread the situation? And which club do you belong to?

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Ek Nayi League: What could it be?

The other day, I was surfing the net and reading sports articles when I accidentally saw one of Kapil Dev’s 1 minute video. He was talking something about playing “dil se” and why it succeeds. But towards the end of the video, he said we will fail if we play “dil se” in “Ek Nayi League”. This got me hooked. I searched for “Ek Nayi League” and came across this website - http://www.eknayileague.com/

The aforementioned website has more videos where Kapil Dev described about a renowned Indian person (Dhoni, Yuvraj, Sania for instance) and talks about how passionately they have achieved all the success in their area of expertise. How they have battled all odds (Yuvraj Singh from Cancer and Sania Mirza for elevating Women’s tennis in India). Kapil Dev think MS Dhoni shouldn’t retire after developing such a fantastic Cricket team. But one common thread that binds all these videos is that these champions will fail if they play with all their heart in a new league codenamed “Ek Nayi League”. 

Kapil Dev ends his videos by saying he will reveal the concept of the league soon. When a living legend, who brought India on a global Cricketing platform, tries to describe and tease you with something new, you better stand and take notice. I am no different. So I thought, why can’t I take a calculated guess as to what the new concept / new league is all about? 

Kapil Dev's pic in Ek Nayi League website
Image courtesy: http://www.eknayileague.com/
Key takeaways from the videos and Kapil Dev’s image from the website – 
  • Top performers will fail if they play with their heart
  • It’s more to do with the mind than the heart
  • The concept has to be something to do with renowned people in society, at least their examples are sought to put forward the point
  • Kapil Dev is involved, either as a brand ambassador or as a host of the league

Here are my guesses – 
  1. How about a “reality-show” league where a certain number of celebrities will compete either as individuals or as teams. There will be competitions where participants have to use their intellect to succeed. Individuals / teams will play against each other and points will be awarded. There will be a points table, similar to the IPL competition. Once the round-robin competitions are done, there will be a grand finale, typical of a reality-show, to decide the winner. This seems possible since such a game show is not present in Indian television at this point. Celebrities will also bring in more viewership. Kapil Dev’s teaser campaign suggests that the makers are confident of the concept and hence take a risk with such a marketing concept. 
  2. If this is not about a television show, then it must be an advert of a product. The climax of the teaser videos by Kapil Dev will culminate in revealing an existing product category with a different concept. Now, as per the takeaways mentioned above, what could that product possibly be? Something to do with the mind. In one of the videos, Kapil Dev suggests Dhoni should not consider retirement. This makes me believe that the product category should be something that either prolongs retirement and / stimulates intellect. If my presumptions are correct, then it could be an Insurance advertisement of a new insurance product. Kapil Dev as brand ambassador also adds added weight to a product where trust in the brand matters.
  3. One of the few sports where mind rules over heart is the game of Chess. We have had IPL-like concepts replicated in Badminton, Lawn Tennis, Kabaddi, Hockey. Will Chess be next in line? Some of the takeaways mentioned above support this line of thought – mind over heart and the fact that retirement can be delayed. But it doesn’t connect all the dots. Also, an IPL like league for Chess will cater to a niche audience. This appears to be a remote possibility, but a possibility nevertheless.

Let’s now wait and see what Kapil Dev has up his sleeve. Will it be a bouncer or a Yorker? Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

News Channels – a double edged sword

Once upon a time, Indian news channels were all about sharing news. What happened anywhere around our country will be “reported” as is. It was all about sharing news information. An earthquake happened – the news will be shared with the public. A bomb blast happened – it will be shared. Some politicians arrested for some wrong doing – it will be shared. India wins the world cup – it will be shared. Through all this, the news media of those times hardly ever tried to “promote” their views to the public. They were the messengers.

Now, they are transforming into message creators, or should we say in today’s parlance, content creators.

May 3rd was the World Press Freedom day. There’s not an iota of doubt that the press (and in a larger context, news media) should be free to perform their duties. Having said that, news media must have their own ethical standards they need to adhere to, in a humane way. On this day, Nepal citizens took to Twitter and Facebook to express two things – their gratitude towards Indian government for providing selfless help and their hatred towards certain sections of Indian media by trending #GoHomeIndianMedia.

When the earthquake happened in Nepal, Indian news media were immediately on it. No problem till now since speed is one trait the news channels compete on. News channels started showing the destruction caused by the earthquake. No problem here too. News channels asked their viewers to contribute towards the cause of Nepal. Great gesture, I must say. News channels started reporting about people being rescued from the debris. No problem here since it shows the hard work put in by all concerned and the improvements happening since the disaster. News channels started shoving their mic in front of the survivors and asking them how they feel now. Ok, now you guys are teasing to cross the limits. News channels asking people, who have lost their loved ones, how they feel. News channels promoting the help and support of Indians and thereby making it a PR stunt. Guys, now you have crossed all your limits!

#GoHomeIndianMedia - cartoon created by @mirsuhail
A popular cartoon created by @mirsuhail
To Indian News Media – I understand news reporting has changed. Corporates with big money have invested in the emerging news media hoping to make big bucks. There’s high competition for eye-balls now. Rankings matter. Ratings matter. Revenues matter. But one more thing has increased more than what it was a decade ago - and that’s responsibility. Sensationalism sells. And now we have reached a stage where we cannot go back and undo the wrongs. In this age of social media, you will receive instant support and criticism which will spread like wild-fire. So, you need to find a way to balance sensationalism with responsibility. There’s no harm in learning from the past. Perhaps, the news channels of old were more responsible than what we have now. 

To Citizens of Nepal – The loss you have gone through post the tragedy is difficult for us to even comprehend. Loss of lives and property, struggling to come to terms with the loss and braving yourselves at a long drawn recovery is, in itself, a tough ask. Our prayers and our support will always be with you throughout this recovery phase. We got a glimpse of the destruction caused by the Himalayan tragedy and the pain you endured thanks to the news channels (primarily Indian ones). Yes, there are some who cross the lines of ethical and responsible journalism. We have faced the same problems ourselves when we had to endure natural disasters (Earthquake, Floods) and man-made ones (terrorism). The sections of News media you are accusing are the ones who did the same thing to us Indians too. So, we understand the root cause of your concern. In a way, we are glad you brought it to everyone’s attention. News channels need to learn their lessons from this one and accept that they need to change. 

A change is needed here. If the news channels don’t learn from this feedback from Nepal, we viewers should take a stand ourselves. We can choose not to watch such channels, which will reduce their viewership count, which will lead to a reduction in their “rankings”, reduction in ad and sponsorship revenue and finally forcing them to change themselves. It’s a vicious circle and we can play a part too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chinese product in Indian pockets!

Move over Apple and Samsung. It’s time for a Dragon invasion! Not literally though, but figuratively it could be as massive as a dragon itself. I am talking about Chinese smartphones in Indian market.

An year or two ago, only a handful knew about Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo. Now, a significant proportion of the smartphone crazy consumers are aware of these brands preferably due to favorable reviews. But these products are Chinese. Why take a leap of faith and move over the Samsung’s / HTC’s / Apple’s of the world to buy a Chinese smartphone?


For one, they have almost all the features present in the flagships of top smartphone manufacturers. Still not convinced? Let’s try again – they sell for almost 1/3rd of the price of these flagships! Are you now looking at me with suspicion? “What’s the catch?” you may ask. There’s no catch at all. These are new companies who have adopted new selling models which significantly reduce the cost of the smartphone. Their model is to sell online using flash sales at minimum marketing cost (at least till they establish themselves). So, I can understand if you have not heard about the brand but their operating strategy makes it very difficult to reach you unless you are in touch with a smartphone crazy friend. 

Last to last week, I finally crossed the “Invite Only” hurdle to buy OnePlus One. They sell this brand online and through word-of-mouth marketing. Tech savvy consumers / reviewers buy the phone at near-cost price, love the specs and provide their feedback (mostly positive). I have now used it for almost 2 weeks now and must admit, using OnePlus One is a breeze. But I took a leap of faith on the durability aspect. Only time will answer my query.

If my gut-feel on these Chinese products aren’t enough, Ratan Tata has now invested significantly in Xiaomi! There must be some logic to the Chinese smartphone madness right? All this points to only one thing, your next flagship smartphone will have stiff competition with Chinese ones and chances are that you will buy the Chinese smartphone (after all, pricing matters to Indian consumers).

Click here for the detailed article I wrote for IdeasMakeMarket.com with respect to this topic.  Do read and let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

No Dream too big. No Obstacle too high!

God has a peculiar way of inspiring each and every one of us through one of our own. Our inspiration can come from a nursery story of a Hare and a Tortoise, or a David v/s Goliath story. It could come from a person, like your parent, sibling, teachers, professors, bosses or any random person you meet. It could come from experiences – sometimes as simple as watching the rising sun, walking barefoot on a virgin beach, listening to music, watching movies / sports or in some cases, from our own personal life.

India adores sports. Cricket in particular, but things are changing and that too, for the better. We now have World Class performers in Badminton, Tennis, Chess, Athletics, Boxing, Wrestling et al. India is on the global map and is only destined to improve year on year. Many of the renowned players have had a humble beginning. They went through testing times and eventually overcame all the odds.

One such sportsperson is Mohammad Salih. A Chess fanatic who has played and won at college, university, state and even at South Indian Chess Championship, where he came 2nd. What’s that big a deal, you may ask? It’s a big deal, because he’s blind. That’s right, a person blind from birth plays Chess, a game where you have to be visually and intellectually astute.

Mohammed Salih - Chess player with visual disability

He was born in Calicut to a poor family which included a blind father and two blind sisters. He grew up not clearly knowing the benefits of sight. He was later admitted to a residential school for the visually impaired. That was when he was introduced to Chess, among other games. He took to Chess the way a fish takes to water! But fate had a different story for young Salih. He was moved to a different school where his freedom to play was restricted, more so due to extra care given to him by his teachers. During these testing times, he gave equal importance to academics, passed his 10th and later on went on to complete his LLB.

But his passion for Chess remained intact. Anyone who has played Chess knows how important it is “see” what the opponent is trying to do. Imagine closing your eyes and playing it. Very difficult, isn’t it? Also, when Salih works on his strategies, he has to touch the pieces to determine its position and then play. This gives a strategic advantage to the opponent. Another problem he faces is during the practice. While other players can practice using computer opponents and afford coaches, Salih had to practice with humans and had to teach himself through experiences. Despite all this, he went on winning – not only against the visually impaired opponents, but also against players who don’t have the disability. Quite incredible!

He is the only earning member in the family. To make ends meet, he has started taking Chess teaching sessions. He dreams of starting a Chess Academy to develop the next set of champions from India. He also dreams on representing India on the world stage – which involves a lot of money, something he is deprived of.

In one of the interview, he said – “I want to be known as famous chess player and not a ‘blind chess player’. I can play as well as other sighted people. Then why to add ‘blind’ to my name”. It’s very obvious he doesn’t need our sympathy. Disability does not (and should not) disturb our ability to achieve success. Mohammad Salih is one such icon we need to look up to and respect.

A true sporting icon indeed!

Corporates have regularly come in to assist, support and develop simple yet super-human icons live and realize their dream. WillOfSteel.in is one such initiative from JSW. When you visit the website, you are introduced to wonderful human beings who have braved all odds, sacrificed self and family needs, for the betterment of the society at large. These are the people who need our support. Just read their stories, select the best out of them and vote for them. It’s that simple.

I’m voting for Mohammed Salih’s #WillOfSteel and blogging on BlogAdda to help him get felicitated and eventually enabled by JSW.

Who are you voting for?

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Abhor the message, not the messenger

Now-a-days, filming, releasing and sharing 2 minute videos have been a trend – an instant means to increase your “klout” in the social media. Almost everyone is following the trend, which means we have some amazing videos, some boring ones and some that we outright reject. Some of the common responses to such a video would be – 
  • Awww, that’s so cute (almost tears moment)
  • Wow, I didn’t see that coming (a typical what-he-does-next-will-shock-you video)
  • What the hell! Who does such a thing?

The reaction is usually the first two for most of these videos. However, one video was released recently that made most of the Indians go “what the hell!” And for rightful reasons, I might add.
Vogue released a video which they thought would stir the ocean and force people to think and eventually empower women. It achieved its objective, albeit for altogether different reasons! It did stir the ocean; it surely forced the people to think and it empowered women to completely abhor the message propagated by the video. Hey, ends justify the means, right?

Deepika Padukone - #MyChoice video with Vogue Empower screengrab

When I clicked on the play button, I saw Deepika Padukone describing what “choice” means to a woman. The dialogue writing seemed apt and I began appreciating the video till it came to a woman’s sexual choices / lack of it. I honestly didn’t understand the logic behind the statements the first time and I thought of seeing the video again (that’s my part in making this video cross 3 million viewership). Deepika actually said “having sex before marriage is her choice, having sex outside of marriage is her choice”. While I am no one to judge any person’s choice, doing anything against the law of the land is a choice, but a bad one in the end. Social media decided to act against the video and they have done a good job. Parents are happy their children hate that video. Husbands are happy their wife cannot relate with the video. Kids are happy because umm… well… its vacation time!

For the record, I don't agree completely with the video and its message.

Throughout all the rebuttals, some chose to rebut and, unfortunately, despise the actor who was representing “all of womanhood” in the video. Yes, the video messed up. The characters in the video probably didn’t think of the message the way it was eventually portrayed. I would like to believe that the concept of the video had its heart in its right place – women having the right to make their own choices in a largely male-dominated society. It’s just that the examples shown in the video went against our own ethos, are illegal and something that a right-minded person would never choose. The actors (including the lead actor – Deepika Padukone) probably decided to do this project with a different thought-process and the end product was totally different. Haven’t we seen this in movies too? Actors play certain roles which they think will be portrayed in a certain way and the end result is a total disconnect with the public. It works sometimes and messes up on occasions. Despising the actors for this is totally unwarranted. After all, the same Deepika Padukone recently had an interview discussing the perils of depression and how she came out of it, which was largely motivating and well received by the same audience. Just like adultery is against our ethos, despising someone (let alone a lady) for a choice s/he made is also against our upbringing. It was her choice to do this video and she will live with the repercussions. Personally, I would like to think of this video as a branding exercise for Vogue that went terribly wrong. And they now have to do some serious re-branding to get back in their target audiences’ mind. 

Despise the message. Don’t despise the messenger, Deepika Padukone in this case. It’s my choice. And I will live with it.

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