Author Archives: Sujeet Mishra

How Intel Pipped Past the Big 3

Link to the story from IEEE Spectrum 
We all get told how the dominant players fell to their arrogance or over confidence in misreading the trends-Xerox, Kodak. We also saw how the winds of change humble the giants-Kodak again, Nokia and from past-Singer. This is yet another story which deserves to be given similar status in our book of learning-how Intel moved past the big 3 (I am tempted to add-look at the time lines-when Indian colleges were _introducing_ solid state electronics and BJT was red hot-fight had already shifted to MOS!). Also, this piece gives briefly, insight in to how IBM became the most dominant player in PC space despite not being the first one to make such an equipment-what a strategy-in it lie lessons of innovation of leadership and management, a small startup practically with no strings attached gets born in a giant. Also, one can gain insight in how software started to assume dominance beginning of a long term trend which continues unabated and which saw birth of giant called Microsoft. Was this the reason that Google made android available to just anyone? Also, this is a humbling lesson to those smug analysts who disregard intricate interplay of services-products-technology.
Also one can see how choices made determine your future. Choices made in this period by IBM meant they had to cede space to new players making IBM compatibles in personal computing space and finally had to shut this line.
I was always intrigued since decades why Motorola lost to Intel despite having bomb of a general purpose microprocessor-like me, you can also find an answer to it.
Last but not the least-you are beaten and you fight back-what a classic turn of fortunes as TI takes in the losses and re-emerges with long term winners in embedded with iconic TMS320 family-without which powers just about anything from hard disks to WAG9/WAP5 family of locomotives of Indian Railways.
So friends here is something which is truly an iconic piece of writing and written by none other than CEO of MentorGraphics-a company which powers most probably the chips which run the device you are reading this on and for that matter just about anything which has an IC inside.

Unlearning the Economics as We were Taught

I think the biggest challenge we face is the process of unlearning. Wise men of the Wall Street pontificated in a manner that the Sermon on the Mount paled in comparison. The sermon is atleast three generations old and has been itched in our folklore as taught, researched and proliferated by creating the ‘selection criterion’ which, as one Mr. Darwin informs us, led to the survival of those who won this process of ‘natural selection’. The inviolability of the gospel has been ensured by the enlightened media-owned and manned by the graduates of the Wall Street school of management. If loss of a child’s innocence is the price to be paid for the TRPs-so be it. It is personal proclivities, deviant psyche and perversion of the few, now decides how should we bring up children, run families and marriages-thanks to M/s Ekta Kapur and Karan Johar, brought up with silver spoon and chose to be single-they tell us how Indian families should be run and that there is nothing wrong if institution of marriage is sent down under and make decisions on the model of societal and social transactions.

I have observed many traditional Indian business families- the way they managed their monies in day-today matters and it looks so very different from the way I looked at my own spending habits-though my financial status ranks nowhere in comparison to theirs. Then this at times comes perhaps because of the feeling ‘already there’ of theirs against ‘this thrift won’t in any case take me there’ so why bother. This infact gets compounded when you see beautiful citi ad targeting Indians-a young man taking his parents to their first overseas vacation-well that becomes a goal to achieve-incidentally on a credit card. Mr Ramadoss-no good in banning ads on smoke, alcohol and narcotics-this dream sell is worse than all these put together.

The extravagance and opulence has been to a large extent been on the basis of deceit and knavery at the extreme-the gullible trusted and the knaves who were trusted used age old art of ‘confidence trickster’-one pioneered by the thugs. Incidentally the hallmark of thuggery was the faith- of thugs in themselves and the fact that they have divine mandate to do so, being able to lure-the gullible by winning over their confidence and being ruthless-when they went for the kill for the entrapped. How similar it has been with our dream sellers of our banking system!!!!

Remember Arthur Hailey’s ‘Overload’ where the key offenders are profiled as people who have large houses and large cars, forced in to a life style which forces them in to ‘meter tampering’. How true it is! (Incidentally, American Express, which caters to credit card business targetted at the wealthy reports that it upped its provisions for credit-card losses from $810 million to $1.5 billion in the latest quarter, a sign that even upscale consumers are having trouble).

An Indian who had earned USD 1.2 mn a year ended his and his family’s life last week in US. Well we all thought that 1.2 mn $ is decent sum for someone to lead a comfortable life. But not unlike the villains of old bollywood movies, where the parasitic hangers on used to cling on to the rich and get them in to bad habits.  Gullible families were by the persistence of media and aggressive marketing were lured in to what was desirable but not affordable. Has the sub-prime crisis not reminiscent of the ponzi scheme-you need to get in to unsustainable chain of events where those on the vanguard has to push out the frontier out get more trapped/tricked just to ensure that you have veneer over you of people who are weaker than you-it is such chain of implosive collapse that present financial crisis has been engendered.

In days when my hairline and waistline were healthier, in a fit of philosophical angst post liberalisation (early 90s, I think in Kanpur), I noticed how a basic law of mechanics help us to distinguish between the orient and the occident thought-Whenever we restrict a degree of freedom, there would be a reaction: Indian concept of mardyadaa has been the same-our upbringing has been on how should we conduct and restrain our lives and carnal desires-husband-wife, parent-child… to how to spend … so on & so forth-infact every social intercourse and the very act of living has maryadaa circumscribing it. Whereas the western thought has been to remove all the restrictions-so we have a society where divorces are record high, live-in relationships outnumber marriages, children not out of marriage equal those out of the consecrated relationships.

So the same mindset is reflected when there is enlightened clamour of less regulation and doing away with what we have. West are exhorting Indians to fix what have been serving well, getting in to a scenario where old laws do not apply and the new ones do not exist.

So it goes…


The Crash: Role of Formal B-Education

The value system and paradigm of analysis is something which the schools provide to their pupils and it is on this parameter their standing rests. Not singling a school or the other, it appears that the schools not only taught the business principles but  also taught them the dogma of laissez faire in its most raw form and also drilled in the models of success which shortened the horizon of thought to a quarter. Industry and its compensation models made the long term planning subservient to quarterly performance-battles were won, but the war was lost.

No longer did the schools considered it fashionable to teach what went in to create an enduring business-something which would have run for ages and supported millions of individuals. That business is more than the mathematical models is something every self made businessman understands as no business fully is end-to-end based on machines and mathematics.

Unfortunately the basic lessons were forgotten; every student of physics knows that his work presupposes a set of clearly defined assumptions and the moment you lose sight of these, you may land with untenable conclusions. Business has to address a need of a segment of people who can afford that solution. This relationship is driven purely on the perceived value and that’s why we stress upon value creation and delivery as the raison detre of business. Surely a person who can ill afford a house would love to own it, esp. when the wisest of salesmen assure him that he would get a solution well within his means. The person did see value in it but the targeting was wrong and that’s where the link gave way-wrong make-believe assumptions drove the models to disastrous conclusions.

Compensation models also faulted on the fundamentals-if an undeserving gets a million dollars for doing practically nothing, then be sure that a can of coke will cost us a million dollars. The culpability of business schools lies in the fact that present schools have taken students away from the very basic of business-value creation. We believed that mathematics and financial engineering can drive business, and took the practitioners away from the shops and shop floors. It was easy just to perform complex mathematics and be done with the day’s hard work.

B-Schools have enormous resources and conduct extensive research. They also have close relationship with the Governments and often one finds their senior faculty on various consultative groups which drive the policy and influence precepts of governance. How such impending tectonic shifts missed to be registered on these well endowed and equipped research groups is worrying. Absence of models which would have flagged the festering issues is a painful reminder of what happens when dogma clouds the scientific analysis.

One can’t just blame the MBAs, they were product of a system which suffered from institutional over-reach. Absence of any life threatening catastrophe like the present one made it believe that none existed and were never prepared to handle such an eventuality. Its ability to successfully wriggle out of the earlier financial problems made them perhaps complacent and believe that they had solutions to fix all the problems.

I do see value in financial analysis and theory, but I always believed in the dictum, that a true business leader can’t be a mercenary, true business leader has to understand the domain where he operates-something which is both time consuming and arduous, without shortcuts-and should be able to see the complete business cycle. The present crisis saw the glorified ponzi schemes going bust-scum no matter how well packaged or however named shall eventually stink. I feel a fundamental rethink needs to be done under guidance of some of the self made business leaders and successful entrepreneurs from all over the world. People who have truly created wealth and value and not the ones who were the smart borrowers and who showed off well have to be the anchor figures to bring the B-Schools, their curricula, teaching methods and their research on terra firma. This is direly needed as the B-Schools have a very important role in influencing and de-cluttering public policy all over the world-something which has not been talked about much in the current debate.

(2009-10: On role of B Schools in credit meltdown)

Indian End to Western Beginning-the New all American Discovery

The helplessness of being the victims of collective insanity, nauseating role played by the lobby groups and media in bringing the world to such a pass is appalling. The dread that there was such colossal and collective failure in getting the fundamentals wrongly read and interpreted is perhaps something which leaves one shaken-was all that we were taught wrong, where are our management gurus, where are our money spin doctors who just knew everything, where are our evangelists and crusaders of economic reforms? Economic reforms only means that govt. should underwrite the risk while the rich make merry. Where are our all knowing mandarins of planning commission who feel that by legislation human nature can be governed and piece of paper called contracts can get work done. [I have always wondered why have not these people not yet targeted the largest spender of public money-the armed forces and police, why do not there be a tender for manning military & para-military forces-oh I forgot learned finance ministry should set up a regulator in such a scenario-let a beautifully drawn concession for 30 years be granted to whomsoever quotes the lowest]

The other day my niece who studies economics in XI std. told us that consumption is good for economy-her teacher says; well then perhaps our teachers forgot to teach the Keynes’ ‘paradox of thrift‘-what is good for an individual may ignite recession! Well it is not thrift but unbridled consumption that threatens nation states to go under-something which did not happen even in 1929.

Day in and day out we are bombarded by the adverts making a compelling case to spend over our means-we are told by our money managers that PPF is bad, MIS of postoffices should be scrapped-let all money be handed over to a few, handful private entities-so if you retire and find that you are old, sick and without a job and that the fund house which YOU chose has gone under-don’t complain-it was your choice of portfolio/money manager, so please don’t complain. NBFCs of broking firms were ready to give easy credit on phone call to make investments by putting only 10% of the trade amount. We have in a long fit of collective insanity overlooked fundamentals-our intellectually superior management gurus and money managers promised to create a perpetual motion machine and we believed.

What worries more is the impending burst of credit card credit-a staggering $950 Bn-much of it as toxic (I like the choice of word) as sub-prime related papers. To quote from BW <As with mortgages, banks bundle groups of so-called credit-card receivables, essentially consumers’ outstanding balances, and sell them to big investors such as hedge funds and pension funds. Big issuers offload roughly 70% of their credit-card debt.> Well look at the domino structure!!! Well I wonder what have engineers contributed in finance when most of the MBAs are having tech background-we are taught how to decouple problems and how to have containment in our designs. Lessons famously and tragically learnt in Chernobyl disaster have just been these-don’t make the system interdependence so much that physical separation in crisis is not possible [in this accident as the reactor heat escaped the safety systems and power supply to pumps also got burnt-making a reactor rescue hopelessly impossible]. I have always admired the last line of defence followed by nuclear reactors. When everything fails, under gravity the reactor is just flooded with normal water. [In Narora, when power and some safety systems failed following hydrogen leak related blast-in bellowing smoke operators forming human chain poured Boron compound from jerricans to kill the reaction]-well atleast we need to start decoupling the instruments. [in signal analysis every derivative makes the result jerkier unless the input is a pucca sinus wave ] & teach ourselves that there is something called moderation and thrift, which incidentally is one of the few antidotes to the in-the-wings environmental Armageddon.

Toynbee famously remarked <It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in human history , the only way of salvation is the ancient Hindu way…>

I am attaching an interesting article on new American discovery-thrift.

Pained…confused and angry,

(written in 2009-this was covering mail to an attached article addressed to my colleagues at RDSO)

The PK Moment

Well its difficult to give a miss to Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s movies. Some of the notables which stick prominently in my memoryscape being 1942-A Love Story, Mission Kashmir, 3 Idiots, (seen in Nashik, Chittaranjan and Sagar respectively). Its not easy to forget the Dushasana of Jaane Bhi Do Yaron (JBDY), who also happened to be the production controller of that movie and producer of PK. Incidentally Naseer played the character called Vinod Chopra in JBDY, which I guess was after the Vinod Chopra being discussed above (I would do injustice to the memories of this iconic movie-JBDY, if I don’t mention, that, the other lead actor, Late Ravi Vasvani was called Sudhir Mishra in the movie; Sudhir Mishra was the writer of the movie-he got best comedian award for this role in 1984. His most memorable dialogue for me is ‘Vinod chal ghar chalte hain’).

So getting back to PK!

We have a Mrs Rastogi of 3 Idiots fame playing mother to the heroine (Mrs Rastogi is Amardeep Jha as Wikipedia informs us. I don’t want to sound nasty but cant help it- Amardeep is an apt name for Jagatjanani’s mother-Anushka Sharma, heroine of the movie is named as Jagatjanani in PK). Also Mr. Quereshi of 3 Idiots is to be seen as Jagatjanani’s dad-Sahni saheb (Parikshit Sahni plays Sahni saheb! Well this, for me, was JBDY moment in PK). So the mom of Raju Rastogi marries father of Farhan Quereshi in PK-good, no wonder the movie has a message to give!

Boman Irani-the Virus of 3 Idiots is the editor in PK who reminds of a major political party’s spokesman whose photograph in shorts and kurta while giving a bite was widely circulated on WhatsApp-bhai you only see what the framed shot contains-a key lesson of life in these times.

Both the movies get set in Delhi. Both movies see heroine driving a scooty-Amir being the constant in the equation. The format of the movie also reminds one of Anand where the movie gets narrated by way of a book being read by one of the principal actors.

Amir has grown quite a bit since Deewana Mujh sa Nahin (a coffee from me to those who remember the movie-I saw this otherwise eminently forgettable movie some 2-3 times in Agra in college days).

Movie raises questions the way OMG did, but brings a lot more sophistication in terms of arguments marshalled. The story and screenplay writers have done a splendid job-Rajkumar Hirani now has a veritable midas touch! Song Tharkee chokro’s writer, Swanand Kirkire brings nuances like ‘Patna to Patan‘ in the song. This small tribute to Rajasthan touches the small Rajasthani corner of my past.

To see Sanjay Dutt who enacted gandhigiri in another of Vinod Chopra-Hirani film, die in a terror attack, is kind of ironical-as he serves a sentence in the same prison where Gandhiji was kept having been punished for aiding the terrorists.

Tere Doggy ko Mujhpe Bhaukne ka Nai!

As one adds years to one’s life, it takes a sudden resonance to uncover memories which had tumbled in to the hidden crevices of past. Something as innocuous as a song can prise them out. So when I first heard Phata Poster Nikla Hero’s ‘Tu mere agal bagal hai’, many memories flooded back and also made me smile as I drove back, listening to the number on FM. That the Ministry refuses to listen to us, that the Railways are finding it difficult to get funds for routine maintenance, that there is festering anger over all you see about yourself, that someone acted funny in office, that you picked up an argument with a senior-all melted away…as one was reminded of the original proclamation-made by an autorickshawallah from Hyderabad…our very own Naseerruddin Shah in his younger days when he marks his arrival by driving through a poster (he goes in his auto from Hyderabad to Bombay!)…that was original—phata poster nikla hero in Hero Heeralal in 1988. Our Hyderabadi autowallah falls for Sanjana Kapoor (elder first cousin of Karishma, Kareena and Ranbir-interestingly, though our objects of affection have changed, but we have been loyal to the family!).

This journey to Bombay by Naseer was not to be the only one he would make; his next journey to this town was again triggered in very similar circumstances, just a year later in 1989-when he, smitten by another starlet, this time, Divya Bharati once again visits this city. The city which didn’t accept Vinod-the photographer in 1984 (Jane Bhi do Yaron), Hero Heeralal-the Hyderabadi autowallah in 1988 finally accepted the oye-oye man-Jay Singh of Madhavpur in 1989 (Tridev)-marking true acceptance of Naseer in commercial cinema.

For me- Jane Bhi Do Yaaron was seen in the open air theatre in a small hamlet on banks of Ganges,  Hero Heeralal on a rented VCP (not a VCR) and Tridev in a movie hall in Agra as a first year engineering student.

It is interesting to note that Shahid-the hero of Phata Poster Nikla Hero’s dad-Pankaj Kapoor as Tarneja, played villain to Vinod (Naseer) in Jaane Bhi Do Yaron-the hero whose dialog (phata poster nikla hero) in his movie Hero Heeralal became title of the movie in question.

Well this was on the title of the movie but the song which brought a w-i-d-e smile was-tu mere agal bagal hai, main tere agal bagal hoon!

Why…dear reader read on:

When the hero, who is self-proclaimed relation of Farhad and Mahiwaal (Mahiwaal ka mama, Farhad ka phoofa) and invokes memories of Majnu (Majnu se kam tu sochne ka nai), makes a mention of him being busy and that how difficult it for him to wait (…ghar se nikalne ka time to bata, Taki rahun main mod pe khada, Rehta hun main aaj kal busy, Wait karna hai mushkil bada), whatever happened to hum intezaar karengey qayamat tak…Khuda karey ki kayamat ho aur tu aaye!, and that despite hero proclaiming his right over his love (Hai tujhpe right mera, Tu hai delight mera, Tera rasta jo roku, Chaukne ka nai)-he still has to keep the practical matters straight – Tere doggy ko mujhpe bhaukne ka nai! (hope the movie ran the disclaimer of not being offensive to the canine feelings).

I think it was possibly Kishoreda, romancing with Nutan (elder maternal aunt of one Mrs Devgan) in midst of some plain speak in 1958, the pioneer in bringing the animals in to the cardiac matters of lovers; when Nutan tells Kishoreda that he is a R-A-T, rat, rat maaney chooha and that she is a C-A-T,  cat maaney billi-establishing in no uncertain terms, the eternal truth about a man and a woman’s position on the food chain. However, here in the limited context, our hero clearly demands that his love matters should not be mocked at/threatened by the doggy of his affection…Tere doggy ko mujhpe bhaukne ka nai!

But for a generation which was groomed on …husna hazir hai mohabbat ki sazaa paaney ko…koi pathar se na marey mere deewaney ko, the soulful cry of Ranjeeta, as dad of Ranbir in ragged clothes was stoned in 1976, one can’t but smile when our hero in anticipation himself says…Chahe dil tod, sir phodne ka nai.

Then one finds the good old strain-of hero falling in love despite his poverty (haven’t seen the movie-my thoughts are based on the lyrics of the song), as he says …fokatiyon sa pyaar karunga, Baaton se hi pet bharunga, Miss call pe phone tu karna… well whatever happened to Amol Palekar’s soulful surrender of his love in 1977 to the harsh realities of poverty, in Gulzar’s …Din Khali Khali Bartan Hai Aur Raat Hai Jaise Andha Kuan, …,Jeene Ki Vajah To Koi Nahi Marne Ka Bahana Dhoondta Hai, Ek Akela Is Shahar Mein… Today’s youth surely knows how to live life the fullest! (by the way, going by the definition of information in communication theory, a missed call can as well be used, as it surely would be, to communicate and pass measurable information-but then despite putting entire telecom network at work, without a penny being charged, our hero gets his message across on a missed call-Shannon and Nyquist be damned)

Well, the times have changed, who has time to, waste, negotiating …In Umar Se Lambi Sadkon Ko, esp. when we have from the horse’s mouth that these roads lead to no-where (…sadkon ko…Manzil Pe Pohonchte Dekha Nahin , Bas Daudti Phirti Rahti Hain Humne To Theherte Dekha Nahin…)so why bother!

I wonder how facebook generation and twitterati see… Is Ajnabi Se Shahar Mein Jaana Pehechana Dhoondta Hai, Ek Akela Is Shahar Mein….(not sure if Gulzar saheb is on the Facebook or Twitter!)

I am rather intrigued, how could Gulzar saheb in 1977 forget, our dear old Johnny Walker, when he described, in1956 the attributes of Bombay city in Ye hai Bambai meri jaan for posterity…as Dev Anand goes about hunting for the eternal villain in CID (how we miss K.N. Singh, his arching brows … how he could make one’s heart skip a beat).

But then our hero is a practical lad (with genes of Karamchand-our very own Holmes, with daughter of Keshto Mukherjee as his Watson) and no wonder like Karamchand, has his contingency plans ready at hand. Gone are the days when love struck heroine says …Neend See Rahatee Hai, Halakaasaa Nashaa Rahataa Hai… (Ghar, 1978), as the jasmine lady doesn’t shy, having had a pawwah in 2012, demanding attention and affection of the man she has set her eyes on. Whatever happened to…Raat Din Aakhon Me, Yek Cheharaa Basaa Rahataa Hai (Ghar, 1978), surely, this generation is fevicol generation and doesn’t like to leave things to chance! So when heroine in our days said Jaane Kyaa Hotaa Hai, Har Baat Pe Kuchh Hotaa Hai, Din Mein Kuchh Hotaa Hai, Aaur Raat Mein Kuchh Hotaa Hai…things are found to be quite different now dear reader, now its…Baahon Mein Aa Soniye, Bas Aaj Raat Ke Liye, Subah Hone Na De, Saath Khone Na De, Ek Dusre Ko Hum Sone Na De (Desi Boyz, 2011). Well, when dad of Kareena saw his control over himself loosen in company of Aishwarya’s mother-in-law, in Jawaani-Deewani, he gets her wise counsel…Nahin, nahin, abhi nahin, abhi karo intezaar. But when hero these days says, Baahon Mein Aa Soniye, Bas Aaj Raat Ke Liye, he is proclaimed as hero…tu mera hero!. I think, our times were unfair to Kareena’s daddy dear!

There were many other occasions when heroine found herself in the same room as the hero and there were times when it was apprehended that the keys to the room can be lost (dad of Ranbir had faced one such occasion in 1973 with mom-in-law of Akshay Kumar, when they imagined…hum tum ek kamarey mein band ho aur chhabi kho jaaye), before that, samdhi of Sanjay Dutt’s dad, on one such occasion in 1967 (Aman) rose to the occasion when he bemoaned…aaj ki raat ye kaisee raat, ki hum ko neend nahin aati, to wife of Dilip saheb-things remaining in control. Then, there were occasions when the foundation to a dramatic turn was seeded on one such moment…when father-in-law of Akshay lost to the charms of Kareena’s mom-in-law in 1969, aptly captured in roop tera mastana….. To be fair to the present times and for historical accuracy one must add that Aishwarya’s mom-in-law dear, who advised caution to Kareena’s dad in 1972, changed her views and instead advised Sanjeev Kumar just a year later in 1973…bahon mein chaley aao, humsey sanam kya parda….Jury is out, what caused this change of views. 

Now, with doggy taken care of, with a caveat that heart might be broken not the head…these indeed are changed times-but the basic chemistry has remained the same.

Aapke paon dekhe. Bahut haseen hain. Inhe zameen pe mat utariyega. Maile ho jaayenge. No wonder the principal actors of yore were patient enough, contended, to just admire the feet of the heroine…now, jaani, things are different, eyes have moved up!

Do listen to Tu mere agal bagal hai, hope you too find a reason to smile.

Read full lyrics :