Sunday, January 20, 2008

First Frontier conquered

I ran the half-marathon at Mumbai. Yes, I ran it. Most of it. Walked at some part, especially along the torturous climb at Peddar Road. And at Girgaum Chowpatty. But, I completed it in 2 hr 43 min. Two minutes less than what I had aimed for!! I was insincere in my practice and hence the result. Had I been more sincere and systematic, I think 2 hr 30 min is achievable. But, I have conquered the first frontier. I have completed the half marathon. Something which seemed impossible for me a few months ago. Something which some felt is impossible for me, considering my bulky physique. But, I proved myself wrong!! Now, I want to improve on the timing. It is going to be more training for the next marathon. More systematic than it has been. I intend to complete the next edition in 2 hr 30 min. That's the equivalent of Ratan Tata's "Nano" for me!!

Lest, I forget, I must thank all those unknown people who were there to cheer me and lift my spirits till the end. Thanks to those two little kids on Peddar road who gave me Glucose biscuits, which were a boost of energy for me. God bless them all. Finally, a very big and personal thanks to the Mumbai Police, for staying on vigil and keeping the track clear for all runners.
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Senseless FM

What do FM channels use to play songs throughout the night, when there is no RJ? I guess they have something like Winamp with a play list of over thousand songs, with the "shuffle" toggled. That's because, this automated song player springs up songs which are completely out of sync with the time at which they are played.

Today morning at 5:45 AM, I tuned into Red FM, a popular FM channel in Mumbai. It was the automated song player that was in charge, as no jockey was heard blabbering for the next 15 mins. And at exactly 6:00 AM, the automated song player started playing- "Dekho, d, yeh shaam badi diwani", from the movie Om Shanti Om. Come on, the first song of a morning show, shouldn't be from an opposite end of the day. As it is, in the morning, people would prefer light music as they are just readying up for the day or just setting out for the day's chores. And here, the station plays a disco-like song that too describing the atmosphere in a party at evening. God bless the radio channel's wisdom.

This is where I prefer Akashvani (All India Radio). They are in-sync with the time of the day. Their first programme is generally devotional songs, before they switch on to old melodious songs and then move on to the contemporary songs, which have a lot of beats. I do not know, if private radio channels take feedback and act upon them, but if they do, they will find a fairly large audience that would like this kind of start for the day. Even contemporary songs with slow music and low beats would be preferred over disco as the first song of the day. Till then, enjoy evening disco at morning 6:00 AM !!
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Monday, January 14, 2008

Ratan "Nano" Tata leaves US critics gasping for arguments

After launch of the Nano, most of the US print media (and other media) spared nothing to criticize the car. From calling it all sorts of names, such as "a crossover between a jelly bean and golf cart", or a car "made of plastic and glue instead of welded steel" to calling it an environmental disaster, all attempts are being made to tell the people in US, that this Made-in-India car is nothing but only a cheap car. The problem with US and the scribes there is that for them, there is no concept such as "world" outside the USA. For them, people just do not exist in other continents and in environments that are not like the one in US. For them, what is made by the Big-Three and the Japanese is the best. No matter whether it costs a fortune. It doesn't matter to them if the gas guzzling SUV is three time bigger than the need of the family. But, it is a "technological revolution" for the Yanks.

Wake up Yankees!!! Remember, there is a world outside your own land, which has very different needs than you have. The needs are different, the solutions have to be different. Have you ever seen the way a family of four would travel on a two wheeler? Have you ever driven through the streets of India? The answer to both your questions is NO. So, sitting in your air conditioned homes and offices, you cannot judge the requirement of an ordinary Indian who cannot afford a car priced at Rs. 2 lakh. This family of four, will mostly use its vehicle to travel in a radius of 10km from its home. Most of its drive will be for utilitarian reasons, such as grocery shopping, visiting people/relatives in the nearby areas (socialising, which you Yanks desist a lot) and probably once in three months a Sunday picnic. For this kind of utility, Nano fits the bill. So, why are you cribbing? Is it just because it wasn't invented by your guys? Or is it because the Big-Three feel threatened by the fact that there would exist a market in Yankee-land which would be ready to purchase a car priced at around $3000?

The Nano is built not only around technological innovations, but also around supply chain innovations. Not many of the technology changes were earth-shattering. Simple, but previously not thought changes have helped Tata come out with Nano. Changes were pretty simple- use of aluminium engine instead of cast iron, fitting the engine in the rear, a single wiper instead of two, single tail lamp, slight change in the outer body design and many such small things that added up to big savings. Innovations in the supply chain has been the back bone of your Wal-Mart. Tata Motors has just picked up these things from you guys.

My advice to you guys is, stop cribbing. Just think of the reasons for which this car was developed. It is not for people who want to experience the pleasure of driving. It is for those people who want a comfortable ride while doing their routine tasks, but could not afford a car previously. So, keeping that in mind, Nano is a pretty good invention. If you are true gentlemen (on gentle-ladies), you would join me in applauding the Tatas for manufacturing the Nano.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Impossible is nothing!!

Adidas should rope in Ratan Tata as its brand ambassador. With the launch of Nano, Mr. Tata has achieved what the world's automakers said was impossible. Suzuki motors ridiculed Tata's attempts to build such a car. It was called all sorts of names, like it would be an enhanced rickshaw, will not have that much power, no safety features, etc. The features that the boys from Suzuki wanted are all present. I call them boys, because the men are in Tata Motors. The 600cc engine develops 20bhp. Enough for a family of four that used to ride a two-wheeler which is not more than 8 bhp.

Scooter-king Rahul Bajaj and motor-cycle prince Rajiv Bajaj are a classic example of "the grapes are sour" adage. Bajaj first scoffed at the fact the two-wheeler ride is unsafe. Well, Mr. Bajaj, two-wheeler ride is unsafe and actually not meant for a family of four. So, Tata was targeting a market where the family has not enough means to buy a Maruti 800, but wants to travel comfortably. What's wrong, when Mr. Tata says that four people, with luggage on a two-wheeler is dangerous riding? And if he wanted to make the journey safer for them, why should Mr. Bajaj be so worried? And Rajiv Bajaj, the less said, the better. After unveiling the concept car Bajaj 'Lite', Rajiv Bajaj was constantly trying to undermine the Nano. Talking about the feasibility of a low-cost car, he even mentioned that it is impossible to make a car at Rs. 1 lakh. And after the fully functional car was unvieled, Rajiv Bajaj changed tracks and started talking about how the pricing makes the car unprofitable. If the car wasn't profitable, no business would have launched it. So, it goes to say that the car is indeed profitable. The margin will be definitely less and Tata Motors will have to rely on volumes for generating revenue. But, Mr. Bajaj, apart from profits, there is also an underlying social cause. The Tatas are known for this. And Bajaj is not as big as Tata on the social service front. So, stop your cribbing and accept with grace that the Nano has beaten all skepticism and is a fully functional car in its category.

Let's talk of the man who started this all. Ratan Tata, despite facing so much criticism, gracefully said that Nano won't be able to fulfill the needs of every person who needs this car. So, there have to be other players like Bajaj and Maruti who can build such a car. I think the other industrialists should acquire this trait of humility in success from Ratan Tata.

Thank you, Mr. Ratan Tata. You have proved the well-known saying "Where there is a will, there is a way". For once, everything else had taken a back seat and the entire world was talking about nothing else but the Nano. It has become more popular than cricket. Airtime dedicated on channels as well as radio networks and print space in newspapers indicates the popularity of the car. For once, the front page and editorials had something other than cricket. People forgot Harbhajan and Symonds and were discussing about the Nano. On behalf of Tata Motors, Mr. Ratan Tata, please take a bow!!
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