Visit to Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperumbudur

Filed Under (People) by Rajesh Kumar on 25-03-2010

In 1991, as an engineering student on vacation to my parent’s place in Delhi, I remember my stunned mother telling me about Rajiv Gandhi’s demise at the hands of an assassin. She was finding it hard to control her tears. He was regaining popularity that time, and one believed, he was all set to come back to power.

While driving back from Vellore few days back, we decided to stop at the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperumbudur. This is at the same spot where he lived his last. The memorial is built over a large area on the Chennai Bangalore highway.

DSC02300 Mrs. Indira Gandhi statue at the traffic island near the Rajiv Gandhi memorial. The inscription at the memorial reads that Rajiv Gandhi had just garlanded this statue and moved on the meeting venue when the incident happened.





Sriperumbudur has a positive claim to fame too, which is that it is the birth place of the great mathematician, Srinivas Ramanujam Vaishnavite Guru Sri Ramanujacharya.







I stand at the entrance of the memorial. It is written as Rajiv Gandhi Ninaivakam. Whoever designed it had great aesthetic sense indeed.





We had reached some time before the sunset when the national flag was being lowered down for the day with the respect it deserves.DSC02326 That’s my daughter watching it with attention. The flag is indeed huge in size. I estimate it to be about 20 feet width. The staff holding it is also almost a feet in diameter at the base.










The inscription at the memorial, that I read several times. It is written in English, Hindi and Tamil. I read it in English and Hindi.










This is the path on which Rajiv Gandhi took his last walk. The white box in the center represents the place where his end came. The columns are high and strong, as if protecting someone in the center. No two columns are alike, yet, like the diversity of India, they stand united on common purpose. Very touching.



DSC02329 As I watched this, the missus was somewhere else. Lost deep in contemplation, actually.

The mural represented India.I liked it.DSC02345











As we left the place, we were quite stirred. There was silence in the car for quite some time.

Salute to the fallen leader.

A Tryst with Carlos Ghosn, the most fancied Auto CEO globally.

Filed Under (Business, People) by Rajesh Kumar on 23-03-2010

I happened to be at a lecture cum interaction by none other than the CEO of Nissan-Renault Alliance, Carlos Ghosn in Chennai on 18th March 2010. Having read a lot about him and having read his book ‘The Shift’ way back in 2006, I was really very keen to see and hear the great man himself. One of the boons of living in IIT Madras campus.


True to expectation, the ‘Cost Cutter’ did not disappoint anyone.  He was witty, sharp and fully there.

I had read earlier that he was very good with numbers and he gave a vivid demonstration of the that by rattling back whatever the Director of IIT Madras, Dr Ananth had told him few minutes back(So many lakhs sat in JEE, only so many got selected, so many boys, so many girls etc). Some samples from the Q&A.


Q: You have so many alliances in India? What is the strategy behind them? It seems to be so confusing!

A: All the alliances have a specific purpose which is different from another. The Indian market is so much unlike any other market. We are learning from all our partners and it is like having so many teachers teaching you different you aspects of the market. Like you have a teacher to teach you physics and another to teach you math and so on. Do you get confused by having so many teachers?


Q. The Indian government is not giving subsidy on electric cars..

A: The fact is that vehicle type adoption is largely governed by what the governments want to let happen in their markets. That’s why you have diesel vehicles in Europe and none in US and Japan. I would expect the electric cars to take market first in USA, EU and Japan. Remember, we are talking the same about just 10 % electric vehicles market after 20 years. That leaves out 90% and there is tremendous scope for evolution of technology.


On the whole, it was a great event. The only disappointment was NDTV’s Siddharth, who was looking very handsome indeed, but that’s about it.

Helpful Link: My review of Mr. Ghosn’s book ‘The Shift’.

World SME Conference and My Moments Around It!

Filed Under (People) by Rajesh Kumar on 04-01-2010


It is not easy to find Dr Jagdish Sheth’s time, even if it is just one minute. On the sidelines of Milagrow World SME Conference,  I succeeded in getting more than a minute. Last I heard him was at Madras Management Association, couple of years back.



Then I actually succeeded in persuading Prof Anil Gupta to pose for this picture. Those of us who have the propensity to use the term ‘innovation’ a dozen times a day would do well to listen to a lecture of Prof Gupta to figure out what innovation actually is. 

These are my jewel moments at the World SME Conference 2009, which I shall cherish for several years.

Only one word for PAN IIT 2008 – Magnificent

Filed Under (Business, People) by Rajesh Kumar on 05-01-2009

If there is one word that I have for the recently concluded PAN IIT 2008 conference, it is magnificent.Recently Updated There were multiple tracks, and spread over 2 days and I happened to attend a few. The collage on the left actually captures Chess World Champion Vishwanathan Anand playing simultaneously on 16 boards at PAN IIT Conference which was organized at IIT Madras in December. Anand and his wife Aruna also took some questions from the crowd that was in attendance at Pan IIT 2008. Anand was at his witty self. Imagine the world Chess Champion being asked whether arranged marriage is better over love marriage. Anand responded by saying this is best answered by someone who has experienced both!

If you thought PAN IIT 2008 was completely indoor affair, see the below picture of the resplendent Gajendra Circle. Frankly speaking, the picture hardly does any justice to the beauty and grace of the GC.


Frankly, when I entered the conference hall expecting to see social networking site founder Orkut Buyukkokten in person, I was a little disappointed to see him join via video. It turned out, I had not read the program sheet carefully, which happened to mention it. That disappointment vanished once the interaction began. Then came the typical Indian question -Why does Orkut not facilitate matrimonials?! Even Orkut Buyukkokten could not stop his smile and answered that still he gets pictures of babies asking for suggestion on names as the parents happened to meet via


What I really liked as the panel discussion on innovation, where Ramadorai, CEO of TCS, Muthuraman of Tata Steel, and Ravi Kant of Tata Motors were spoke on innovation moderated by C.K.Prahalad. I had a rather selfish motive in attending this session, which was to get my copy of Dr Prahalad’s book on innovation autographed. Needless to say, there was crowd around, this is the best picture that my eight year old daughter could take. Do you know any morphing technique that would make my face look complete?!


You could also read my post of the book on innovation by Dr Prahalad here.

The grand finale was without doubt was the electrifying presence of Dr Amartya Sen and his talk. True to expectations, Dr Sen kept extolling those present to work on the basic issues of poverty, basic healthcare etc. Personally I felt it was a lifetime opportunity to see and to listen to Dr Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate.


An excellent ending to an excellent programme. I can go writing on and on, but would stop now. Meanwhile, if you would like to check out the PAN IIT 2008 event site, click here.

Nostradamus for this financial crisis is an open position

Filed Under (People) by Rajesh Kumar on 09-10-2008

Behind every crisis is a position of fame called the man who predicted it. And when they find the man, all journals of the world ( including blogs) begin self slapping and then giving undue coverage to the newly discovered predictor. Even me and you feel like big idiots for not having followed the man, who knew something that we didn’t.

In the last international crisis, that fame went to ‘Oil Bull’ Arjun Murti, who is rumored to have known that the oil prices would rise and had spoken about it, and before the oil prices actually rose to USD 150, his words were treated as gas. There was an added aura too, saying Arjun Murti does not do photographs. Nadeem Walayat of Market Oracle ‘predicted’ the 1987 stock market crash. Read his account here.With current current financial crisis, it is only a matter of time when an authentic looking messiah would appear in TV studios all over the world and declare he-told-us-so. Newspapers would fall at his feet for a two minute interaction, which in print would appear in no less than sixty cc interaction, added helpfully be a KBK graphic. The subject of his PhD thesis would suddenly appear so relevant that his PhD advisor would  feel absolutely dumb for not having read student’s thesis and as a consequence, sold of his shares in favour of Gold. I mean it will all appear so logical that in a matter of days his book would appear in bookshelves at all airport bookshops.

Meanwhile, I am just waiting in ambush to slap myself.  And mark my words.

Guy Kawasaki's interesting Mumbai persective

Filed Under (People) by Rajesh Kumar on 29-09-2008

I noticed a rather interesting perspective of Mumbai and from Mumbai by Guy Kawasaki, one of the highly respected silicon valley names, who spoke at a conference. According to guy, the proof of God’s existence is the survival of Apple Computers, Mumbai’s dhobi ghat is the largest open laundry in the world, the guys selling books at traffic signals are India’s answer to Amazon! Here’s a must read post on Guy’s blog and a news report that captures his conference talk. Quite captivating and fresh perspective.

Abhinav Bindra's Olympic Gold Medal and Indian Mamis!

Filed Under (People) by Rajesh Kumar on 11-08-2008

As news of Abhinav Bindra getting India’s first ever individual Gold Medal spread, the following conversation was heard between two ladies, respectfully called Mamis for their tradition oriented leanings. They had a bewildered look about them:

Mami A -"Why have they given Gold medal to a this guy, da?"

Mami B – "Yeah, what will a man do with Gold? "

Mami A- "Maybe gift it to his wife"

Mami B – "Look at the size of the Gold (looking salivatingly at Abhinav Bindra’s picture, but not at him, but the Gold medal in his hands)"

Mami A- "A nice necklace can be made out of it"

Mami B -"Must be five sovereigns"

Mami A- "Really?!"

Mami B- "Then earrings can come out too"

Mami A- "Yes, but he’d have to give another five sovereigns for a good set to be made"

Mami B -"Its Olympics no, jeweler won’t cheat "

Mami A -"Would it be Chinese?"

Mami B – "No, 22 carats, I’m sure"

Mami A – "He should give this to a decent jeweler, otherwise they’d mix the Gold . My amma knows the thatha who runs that Gold shop where I bought this"

At this point a male listener, who for privacy reasons cannot be identified interrupted. He was struggling hard to control his internal agitation to join this conversation.

Male A -"What do you ladies think he’s that mad that he’d melt his Gold medal for his wife? Do know the value of that medal?"

Mami A – "Good idea, maybe he should keep it for his daughter’s wedding. His wife would be already having Gold, no?"

Mami B – "My husband also got Gold medal. From Madras University".


Note: Pun Intended. All resemblances are purely coincidental.

Abhinav Bindra’s Blog here.

Forrester VP Feels Indians Wasting Time in Research, Thank You

Filed Under (People) by Rajesh Kumar on 08-08-2008

In India we are not unused to being reminded by a section of the Western commentators about how poor, dirty, over populated and kind of burden-of-the-world  we are- the BBC is a living example, its TV reporters seemingly have to file reports only when there’s a cow or a drain behind, at least a child with a running nose( and Nizamuddin Nalla seems a favourite)! The Beeb is not alone.

A leading research analyst at Forrester, Navi Radjou while proposing ‘India’s Interdependence’ this year, has this to say

"To put it more bluntly, India just can’t keep inventing locally when it comes to massive socio-economic problems such as illiteracy, the energy crunch, wobbly infrastructure, and its dismal healthcare system"

(Read Mr. Radjou’s recipe for India at Harvard Business Publishing article).

Thanks Mr. Radjou. Looking at your frustration about Indians ‘inventing locally’ somehow I feel it is good you went away from the land of your birth. Must be quite a relief- Mutual.

The Failure of Human Taxonomy

Filed Under (People) by Rajesh Kumar on 31-07-2008

Lekhni evaluates the profound stupidity of naming someone as “Tallulah does the hula from Hawaii" and moves on to the implications of imperfect nomenclatures.

It isn’t too long ago that the Canadians famously decreed that their computers cannot distinguish one Amrit Kaur from another, and hence they would not entertain visa requests from ladies having Kaur and Singh as their surname. Thankfully they reprogrammed their computers and retreated.

Fortunately God was not a database admin, else he would have shouted "imperfect unique key" at the sight of such simple and oft occurring names such as mine. Why, most possibly we human beings would be all be reduced to numbers. The simpletons would say "Hi, I 897364926, call me 89". They more style concerned ones would introduce as "Hi, I am 89. 897364926". Idea Cellular guys even perceived this as a great opportunity to get rid of caste and religion differences and ran a very humorous TVC.

Then the Indian politician would almost certainly invent the VIP quota in that too. All numbers ending with two zeroes would either be allotted to ‘VIPs’. For four zeroes you would need some real clout, and not just be another ‘VIP’. For one paltry zero at the end you would need to pay some extra premium at the name registry. Of, course the recommendation from the local ‘leader’, would make sure you get it for sure. In Gulf countries, their would be confusion galore as they read-write left-to-right. When you greet someone as "Hello 43 Sheikh", he’d quickly retort that he’s Thirty-Four Sheikh, not Forty Three Sheikh.

Of course, those numerologically discerning would fight for numbers that add upto 9. Consider Amitabh Bachchan not as as Amitabh Bachchan but 99. (Namaskar 24-36-24ji, Kaun Banega Crorepati se main 99 bol raha hoon. Aapke pati 548266 hamare saamne hot seat par baithe hain") I am quite certain names such as 900009, 636300 would be reserved by parents even before the series is opened. Why, name squatters would do roaring business on Ebay.

The usual icebreakers in Chennai – and I love them – would have to morph and mutate. Today when I meet someone whose name I should know but I don’t, I just greet him as "Hi Bala, Paddy was mentioning about your new house". It turns out to be right, or the person responds, "I am Paddy, you must be meaning that Bala told you about my house?". I quickly grin that I took the names mixed up and get away. Either way you are not sure what his name is, since Bala could be Balamurugan, or Balasubramanyam. And if he’s Paddy, whether he’s Padmanabhan Chelapathi, or Padmanaban Ramamurthy. Either way, I remain completely confused. And wait. In eight out of ten cases Bala or Paddy turn out to be Venkat, actually!

But then I am not complaining. When I was growing up in Delhi, a friendly sardar once introduced himself to me as, "Hi I’m Balwant, you can call me Lovely".

Getting back in touch with my lost friends

Filed Under (People) by Rajesh Kumar on 30-07-2008

I have been a net freak for quite a while now and don’t let go a single chance to lecture my colleagues and friends on the latest tools and sites that help us do this and do that. I use it like a machine to communicate and buy sell, blog, and occasionally leave scraps and respond to them, and poke people on Facebook. I also admire when Mark Zuckerburg rides the wave of social networking to become a billionaire, but never given a thought beyond that, my skepticism always getting better of my sense to appreciate innovative new business. The social networking thing never touched me, I mean like the way it has , in the last few weeks.

The MBA boys are fairly well connected, and most of them are a phone call away. One did not have to make much effort to create the phonebook, it somehow seems to have happened, via meetings at airports, or when visiting another city. And anyway, Gazab, Padri and Mota all love that old thing called Linkedin, where you invite and accept and then basically do nothing. And precisely how joke forwards in the old boys network can be called as connecting actually beats me.It is somehow integral to the creed to MBAs to ‘hate’ each other and still be in touch! My wife (mercifully, not an MBA, but a more real variety called PhD researcher) has been a die-hard Orkuter who keeps telling me of people she reconnected via Orkut.

Cut to late 2007. The long lost engineering gang starts to emerge. It becomes interesting to see the difference of one person could make to building this connect. Okay, make it two of them. And Tripathi is in Australia, and Binay in Bengal, working as an Indian Railways officer. After digital identities, phone numbers are ascertained, one to another, and I get to be back in touch with several of them. Call it engineering precision.Wow!

Cut to last evening.Via an Orkut scrap, Apurva Mathur, my class mate from Kendriya Vidyalaya , Andrewsganj, New Delhi (we like calling it KVAG) points me to a picture posted on Facebook which is our school farewell picture(Three months back I discovered Apurva Mathur when surfing KVAG community on Orkut at my wife’s insistence). I have long lost the my copy of this photo so this one gets all my attention. I try to recall the names, but Vivek Varma, my newly discovered classmate has taken the pains to list all the names. Not just that, he has tagged couple of them via their Facebook profiles. I was completely overwhelmed to see the picture yesterday. I asked Vivek for his phone number and spoke to him near midnight. We used to travel together to school in the same van, and studied in the same class for 4 years.It was quite unbelievable to hear his voice after so about 19 years. I have been day dreaming this morning and listening mentally to my classroom ruckus, which happened decades back.
KV Andrewsganj Class of 1989

Facebook and Orkut – wish your owners another billion dollars. What you have given me is treasure.

PS: What next? My kindergarten friends from Doon Cultural Centre? My early school friends from Prabhat Tara School Muzaffarpur? How will they come to be reconnected to me- via Twitter?

About Rajesh Kumar. Rajesh is based in Chennai, where he works for Defiance Technologies in Marketing. The views on this blog are his own. Rajesh Kumar