Mumbai loses another jewel

Jet Airways is not quite a jewel. Once India’s largest airline with most modern fleet, best on time performance and unmatched in flight service, it slowly started losing ground to mainly Indigo and also to late entrants such as Vistara.

I think the fall of Jet should be made a case study as towards the end how it fell like nine pins should be a learning for other corporates who could be enjoying market leadership today but who could meet the same fate as Jet if the same mistakes are repeated. Kingfisher’s case by now we know as that company went overboard with luxury concept that was not compensated by matching revenues.

But the theme of this blog is not to analyse the reasons that led to failure of these rulers in the sky, but the manner in which Mumbai is fast losing its numero uno position as the airlines hub of the country to New Delhi. In another blog , I expressed my angst at Mumbai losing the spot of the second busiest airport to Bengaluru. It’s not about one India- in fact, Delhi is my place of birth and Bengaluru is pride of this country being the IT hub of the World with the giants like Infosys, Wipro etc headquartered here. It’s about the lost glory and more importantly- an economic issue rather than an emotional matter – the loss of opportunity for growth and development! First Air India shifted its hub from Mumbai to Delhi and we know how its properties, including the iconic Air India building at Nariman Point lost their importance. Kingfisher had hub at Bengaluru but had significant presence in Mumbai. Ditto Indigo. Vistara, a TATA venture, a group having nerve centre in Mumbai is based out of Gurgaon with hub at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.

While today’s newspaper broke the good news of Jet Airways under new ownership and management resuming its services from 2022, their decision to have hub in New Delhi was indeed disappointing.

It’s high time that government takes concrete steps to heighten its engagement with business houses and reassure them about business friendly atmosphere in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Other states are wooing Mumbai based industrial houses- special target of such friendly overtures is Bollywood. Mumbai bereft of Air India is fine – but Bollywood is the heart and soul of this city.

Oh lord bless the mankind

It’s time again for our favourite festival Ganesh Chaturthi. Celebrations have been rather muted since last year due to Corona pandemic, but thanks to the blessings of Bappa, we continue to celebrate his annual arrival for 10 days of gala festivity with a “ never say die spirit”.

Two interesting bits of information. Ganesha means lord (Esha) of multitude of people ( gana) and no doubt his popularity with masses lives upto its name. Secondly, there are 108 names ( some texts say 1008 names) of our favourite lord. Based on his 8 most popular names, I have composed a prayer to be offered to the Lord for the benefit of the entire mankind.

Oh Gajanan, the elephant God
May you trample all the evils residing in me

Oh Vignahaharta, the obstacle remover
May you clear hurdles enroute my journey

Oh Vinayaka, the son of Gauri
May you keep the childlike enthusiasm alive in me

Oh Bhalchandra, the moon faced baby
May you keep the innocence of a baby preserved in me

Oh Ekdanta, the one-tooth God
May no one ever show teeth unjustifiably to me

Oh Vakratunda, the God with curved trunk
May I negotiate curves in my way successfully

Oh Lambodara, the lord with huge belly
May I always be hungry for more knowledge

Oh Krishnapingaksha, the lord with dark, smoky eyes
May all the clouds of darkness covering my eyes be removed

Ganpati Bappa Moriya! May the next year’s Ganesh Chaturthi be grander and Corona free!

It’s a woman’s world

While speaking Hindi, non-Hindi speaking people often get confused with genders and wrong usage of the qualifying verbs. For example – Roti khani hai but chawal khana hai making roti a feminine and chawal a masculine. Chawal khana hai but it’s derivatives khichadi snd kheer again become feminine causing confusion amongst non-Hindi speakers.

However, notwithstanding gender usage and in general, a bias against everything feminine, today I received a beautiful post on WhatsApp that highlighted the importance of feminine in our lives. As it goes, it says that first we need Vidya ( education) and then Lakshmi ( wealth). All of us basically want Shanti ( Peace) in our lives. From dawn to dusk ( Usha se Sandhya tak) we work for Annapurna ( food). At night we want to sleep and see sweet dreams ( Nisha mein nindiya lete hue sapna dekhna chahte hain). Whether we chant the main Hindu mantra, Gayatri manra ( Om bhoor bhava savaha) or read Gita or do Puja, Aarti and Vandana with Shraddha ( devotion) , we are still in the feminine mode. Post further goes on to describe other Bhavnas ( emotions) – Khushi ( happiness), Karuna ( empathy), Kshama ( forgiveness), Jaya ( victory) etc. And for us, Indians, the planet we live on is Dharti mata and the country we live is in Bharat Mata. Therefore, while speaking anything of substance, a non Hindi speaker need not worry about the gender use – it’s a woman’s world!

I think it’s a great post that places the women at a pedestal that they deserve to be. All our emotions, feelings, experiences are not feminine for nothing!

Keep it tight folks

Our battle with Corona virus continues. As the nation and our Mumbai prepare a careful opening up after recession of the second wave, there are disturbing trends of number of daily cases going up! And mind you this development is worrisome reckoning the 80% of the city and around 50% of the country population have received at least one dose of vaccination

Economy seems to be reviving. Business is flourishing in meeting the pent up demand. Festivals are adding to the positivity and optimism of the pre Covid normal times. But if our carelessness and casualness become the cause of the third wave, it will be most unfortunate as no one – citizenry, businesses, economy, health infrastructure, education- can afford third wave and another round of lockdown!

Wearing mask below the nose or worse below the mouth is like wearing mask for Police to avoid fines and not not for our and our fellow citizens’ protection. Partying hard and in large hordes like there’s no tomorrow can actually result in no tomorrow for us! Going on shopping and travel sprees is understandable, but not without proper protocols. And can the mass protests, yatras, festive gatherings and other such occasions that are resulting in crowding be avoided for some more time?

I am myself preparing to travel overseas. Though fully vaccinated, I am not going to lower my guard even for a minute even if it entails continuous masking for 17 hours of journey/transit! I am not a preacher but for a change all of us will have to become one – leading a change that defeats Covid!

September has come

In the matter of emotions and nostalgia, global warming should not play a spoilsport. We have always learnt and been told that our country is unique in the sense that it has been blessed with all the four seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring and many of us have experienced the fine nuances associated with each season in our lifetimes. Even coastal cities like Chennai and Mumbai that have equitable weather round the year due to their proximity to the ocean , experience these 4 seasons even if briefly. Global warming has indeed change the seasonal patterns, with shorter and more severe summers and winters and virtually non existent spring or autumn due to sudden transition from cold to hot and vice versa, but as aforesaid, nostalgia and memories are not slave to scientific explanations or unsavoury realities.

As it’s a matter of heart and emotions, September will continue to herald end of fiery summer and onset of autumn and on first September, the immortal tune of “ Come September” will continue to uplift the mood and spirits. It’s about celebrating world’s ( and our) resilience and never say die spirit in the face of worst of all problems – Covid, terrorism, communalism, natural disasters, poverty, starvation, unrest etc.

As I wrote earlier also that “ Come September” is just a melody with no words and I am no lyricist to fit rhyming words into the meter of this melody, but I have just attempted two stanzas and my request to all my readers is to try to sing these words to the tune of immortal melody to fend off all negativity and worries.

Come September

Let’s spread happiness and kill the gloom

In this world, our beautiful world – Repeat

There will be problems galore

And disasters and furore

But we can overall all this with aplomb

Our beautiful world

No two days are alike

And a new bright day after each night

Let’s live each day with dreams in our eyes

Our beautiful world.

I am a very bad singer, but I attempted to check whether these words indeed fit into the Come September tune and meter and though I don’t have the guts to share the video publicly, I can forward it on WhatsApp id of my readers requesting this piece of junk at their own peril 😀

Fine Arts know no bounds

Undivided India was home to certain gems and these gems got distributed on the either side upon partition of India. A few chose to move to newly created Muslim majority nation of Pakistan though quite a few chose to stay back in secular India. Yet there was one thing common to both sets – they got love, admiration and adoration from their admirers on both sides of the border and they went on to form what we today call “ shared legacy”. There was Mallika-a-Tarannum ( or Queen of singing) Noor Jahan , who was already a big star by the time partition happened. She was loved as a singer as also an actress and our nightingale Lata remains her fan till date! Mallika Pukhraj and Mehndi Hasan were other two greats who were continued to be loved by people and their performances were eagerly awaited by people on this side too! Many who chose to stay back continued to earn adoration of people on that side – Sehgal, Lata, Rafi and of course, Dilip Kumar, who was awarded the highest civilian award, “ Nishan-e-Imtiaz” by Pakistani government. His death recently got as much and even more coverage in Pakistan as in India. Of course, all the above represent a fast vanishing breed that was born in undivided India and was thus truly eligible for being categorised as shared legacy. But this didn’t stop with the ageing and demise of the members of the above breed and several artists born either just before or post partition in either India or Pakistan continued to be adored in both the countries. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Khan trios, Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh constituted this elite group.

Music, literature, other performing and fine arts know no boundaries and work of high class and passion will be like a free flying bird knowing no bounds. When the world seems to be in the throes of one problem or the other, fine arts and their exponents provide much required diversion. These artists and their art are in fact bridges that can to and extent cover an increasingly widening chasm between two neighbours.

Rented vs owned

Pandemic has taken huge toll on economic activity, especially on retailers. A prolonged lockdown ensured that people remained indoors and shops shut. People were mostly ordering – initially only essentials but subsequent all kinds of goods – from the comforts of their homes and e tailers and those delivering at homes managed to survive and in fact, a few of them increased their sales. Stand-alone shop owners and those having shops within the malls bore double brunt – no sales due to closure and zero footfall and overheads in the form of rental and staff cost. Many retailers laid off their staff and started negotiating with their landlords for relief in rentals. But closure of large number of shops all across bears testimony of the above steps making only limited impact.

Some of the marquee names have survived this onslaught and one of the explanations being offered is their premises being on ownership basis rather than on rental. This took my thought process to the age old commerce lesson on capital versus revenue expenses. Capital is not free but comes at a cost – in fact, even if it’s acquired free or is available to be used, it has a carrying cost or the loss in the form of income that it would have otherwise fetched if invested in other classes of assets. On the contrary, revenue costs are met out of generated revenue and in that sense it appears more prudent as long as revenue is sufficient to cover the cost.

In the end, the only conclusion is that as long as the business is flourishing, it doesn’t really matter whether you are paying rental or servicing capital. This pandemic has shaken businesses again to think about merits and demerits of rented versus owned. In pandemic, those operating businesses out of rented premises clearly seem to be suffering more, but it’s not all hunky dory for owners too! They may not have any outgo on account of rental, but a locked premises is like a white elephant – only eating without delivering anything in return!

Sent from my iPhone

How much is much

Today a very revered and respected senior friend of mine, who encourages a lot to me to write more and better, suggested the captioned topic to me.

He has lived the life to the fullest but on his own terms. He has also stayed away from the rat race of chasing materialistic goals. Therefore, coming from him, I mulled over the topic throughout the day and towards the end thought it best to express my views on this very challenging but topical theme in the form of a Hindi poem. It captures the essence of not only my life, but that of many of us and the reality is that in our effort to assess how much is much, we end up sacrificing the most precious thing that our life offers us – happiness! Inspired by my own poem, may be I will change gears now to chase happiness in the remaining part of my life rather than amassing materials which may never seem too much!

बचपन में ख्वाहिश थी एक छोटी खिलौना कार की

और भरपूर माँ बाप के प्यार की

तब छोटी सी कार भी बजट से बाहर थी

समय कुछ ऐसा था कि प्यार से ज़्यादा फटकार थी

जैसे उम्र बढ़ी चाहते बढ़ती गई

ज़रूरतें ठीक थी, ख्वाहिशें बढ़ती गई

कमाई हज़ारों से लाखों में पहुँच गई

लेकिन ख्वाहिशें कमाई से एक कदम आगे रहीं

मारुति से जी न भरा मर्सिडीज़ की चाह रही

फ़्लैट तो अच्छा था पर नज़र बंगले की राह पर थी

अफ़सर तो मैं काफ़ी बड़ा हो गया

पर टाप पर पहुँचने की होड़ में दौड़ता गया

भाग भाग के अब थोड़ा थक सा गया हूँ

पर करोड़ों की चाह है कि थकती नहीं

How much is much के चक्कर में ऐसा फँसा मैं

इतना पाकर भी यह चक्री रूकती नहीं!

Thanks Malik Sahab for provoking me to write on this topic.

Happy platinum Independence Day

75 years into our independence, we have progressed well by becoming a nuclear, a space, an industrial, a military, an IT and an agrarian power. But are all the problems behind us? The answer is “No”. While we might have resolved the problems of hunger, child labour, gender discrimination, electricity and drinking water, the journey continues to be replete with unresolved issues, including the new challenges. Pandemic has already hurt the entire world deeply and we in India are wishing away a possible third wave with bated breath. Terrorism and expansionism in our neighbourhood keeps us on our toes at all points of time. This year’s flooding and landslides expose us to the challenges of global warming and there are issues around inflation, joblessness, agitations and population explosion!

Our curve is an upward curve; from 1947 to silver in 1971 to Golden in 1996 to platinum in 2021, we have made a great headway and that’s matter of pride of all of us! Let’s resolve that the diamond anniversary of our independence in 2046 will see a supremely confident, powerful, benevolent, unified, prosperous and most advanced India that will ensure that our problems of caste, religion, gender and linguistic biases are rendered to the history books by then !

Vande matram and Jai Hind to all my readers and countrymen on the 75th platinum independence anniversary of our beloved nation.

It’s just the beginning

God is invisible but omnipresent. There are permanent non- believers, though each one of us have moments of scepticism about the almighty, especially when we are at the receiving end. But I must admit that there are certain inexplicable events that cannot be explained without the existence of an omnipresent and omnipotent superpower.

This is the season of sports as olympics have just ended in Tokyo and our Indian contingent has returned with the best ever medal tally comprising an individual gold in athletics, one silver each in weight lifting and wrestling and one bronze each in badminton. Boxing, hockey and wrestling. While P V Sindhu was already a household name and a proven achiever, we suddenly have new icons- Mirabai Chanu, Ravi Dahiya, Bajrang Punia, Lovlina Borgohain, Manpreet, Rani Rampal, Aditi Ashok and of course, super darling of the entire nation, Neeraj Chopra.

India’s best ever performance, super show by our daughters, revival of hockey and first ever individual gold in athletics, an achievement that fulfilled a long standing wish of the Flying Sikh, albeit posthumously, deserve a dedicated blog. My readers must be wondering the connection between the first two paras of the blog viz. Omnipresent god and India’s super show in olympics!

The reason is the thought that I came across as I passed Mahim church that read – “ If god propels your spear, you can win a gold. Congratulations Neeraj”. As in the worst of times, we cannot but remember the almighty at the peak of success too. After all, what’s there to choose between the winner and the runners up and the loser – a fraction of a second or a few centimetres or few grams! Efforts are must, because we all have been told that God helps those who help themselves. And we cannot take away even an inch from all the above winners who put in untiring effort in attaining the excellence. But the thought of the omnipotent and omnipresent power automatically comes to our mind. In fact, Neeraj has been humble enough in acknowledging his success. He has been very charitable towards other competitors, including the Pakistani athlete, who also showed sparks of brilliance.

This also brings to my memory another famous incident that the sports enthusiast would readily recall – “ Maradona attributing the World Cup winning goal to the hand of god.” Man proposes and God disposes is therefore something that we end up believing in spite of any amount of scepticism.

Well done Indian lion hearts! Work hard for next olympics and the medal rally can be much larger than this! If we work hard with honesty and sincerity then God will be there to propel our spears, strengthen our legs and shoulders, magnetise our hockey sticks, pack power in our punches and bestow confidence in our hearts!