Saturday, 12 January, 2013

Faith, Love & God

Here’s an uplifting little story for you! This dog was born on Christmas Eve in the year 2002. He was born with only 2 legs – He of course could not walk when he was born. Even his mother did not want him. His first owner also did not think that he could survive and he was thinking of ‘putting him to sleep’. But then, his present owner, Jude Stringfellow, met him and wanted to take care of him. She became determined to teach and train this little dog to walk by himself. She named him ‘Faith’. In the beginning, she put Faith on a surfboard to let him feel the movement. Later she used peanut butter on a spoon as a lure and reward for him for standing up and jumping around. Even the other dog at home encouraged him to walk. Amazingly, only after 6 months, like a miracle, Faith learned to balance on his hind legs and to jump to move forward. After further training in the snow, he could now walk like a human being.Faith loves to walk around now. No matter where he goes, he attracts people to him.He is fast becoming famous on the international scene and has appeared on various newspapers and TV shows.There is now a book entitled ‘With a Little Faith’ being published about him. He was even considered to appear in one of Harry Potter movies. His present owner Jude Stringfellow has given up her teaching post and plans to take him around the world to preach that even without a perfect body, one can have a perfect soul. In life there are always undesirable things, so in order to feel better you just need to look at life from another direction. I hope this message will bring fresh new ways of thinking to everyone and that everyone will appreciate and be thankful for each & every beautiful day. ‘Faith’ is the continual demonstration of the strength and wonder of life. A small request: All you are asked to do is keep this story circulating.
God Bless You & Yours and God Bless all of God’s creatures!

Monday, 9 April, 2012

A Ferring Pharma invited Foreign Speaker Maligning An Indian Doctor at The End Of His Talk!

I am using this platform so that my Message goes to the Fertility Professionals across the globe

. This is with reference to a Conference we are organizing in September 2012 - The World Congress on Ovulation induction & Ovarian Stimulation Protocols (WOOSP2012). About a month ago, I received a call from Dr Ashok Alate, the Managing director of Ferring India saying he had received a letter from Mr Marco Filicori saying Dr Allahbadia had "copied" his Conference and that he was very upset and that such a conference cannot be held in India. I explained to Dr Alate that there is no copyright or patent on Conferences. Mr Filicori's conferences are on Ovulation Induction and our Indian meeting is on Ovulation Induction & Ovarian Stimulation Protocols. I further explained that if there is any legal disposition, Mr Filicori could write to me directly & I will respond. I am organizing a meeting with 50 International Faculty so that this important topic can be discussed threadbare in India for an Indian audience. Last night, as part of Ferring India's roadshow, Mr Filicori delivered a lecture at Hyderabad and at the end of his lecture launched a personal attack on me maligning me for having 'copied" his Meeting and requested the audience to boycott WOOSP2012! And today I learnt that this well rehearsed abusive diatribe was repeated at their Bangalore meeting as well. I am shocked and appalled that the Multinational pharma company allowed a speaker to use an academic platform to malign and abuse an Indian doctor in front of an Indian audience. I have written to Ferring India asking them to reign in their abusive "guest" and not allow personal animosities on their academic platforms. This could happen to any of us. I will write to the Italian Fertility Society & ESHRE & Ferring International to ensure that this man is censured. I will write to Fertility Associations the world over describing what has happened in India. I had a twinge of sadness when I realized not one doctor in the audience at Hyderabad or Bangalore stood up for me and stopped Mr Filicori when he raved and ranted about me being unethical. I need support from my own colleagues In India if they think I'm right for standing up for my own pride & for India. I have approached both our National organizations FOGSI with a membership of 25,000+ members & ISAR with a Membership base of 2000+ to support me and write strongly to Ferring India.

Friday, 27 May, 2011

Why Mukesh Ambani’s swank home makes Ratan Tata sad

Ratan Tata has, in uncharacteristically candid comments about fellow tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s lifestyle , pointed to the latter’s luxurious 27-storeyed mansion in Mumbai as a glaring sign of income disparity in India – and the stuff that “revolutions are made of.”

“It makes me wonder why someone would do that. That’s what revolutions are made of,” Tata told Damian Whitworth of The Times of London in an interview published on Saturday.

The money quote that is certain to echo in business circles for a long while:

“The person who lives in there should be concerned about what he sees around him and [asking] can he make a difference. If he is not, then it’s sad because this country needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways of mitigating the hardship that people have.”

Ambani’s swank residence – the world’s first billion-dollar home – has of course drawn reams of (mostly gushing) media attention. Criticism of its over-the-top opulence has so far come only from commentators like Ramachandra Guha and filmmakers like Prakash Jha. For someone of Tata’s stature to point to the lifestyle of one of India’s richest industrialists as reflecting the larger social inequity is striking.

In the interview to Whitworth, Tata also hints that Noel Tata, his half-brother, may not have what it takes to take over the reins as the head of the Tata empire next year. “I think if he is to run this he should have greater exposure than he has had. Partly his not having it has been his own choice,” Tata noted.

Asked if he regretted he had no children to whom he could pass on the baton, Tata says that if he had had a family, he would probably not have been able to devote as much of his time to the organisation as he had. But he says it would have “bothered” him to think that if he’d had a son, he would automatically have been considered as a natural successor.

“I would have probably done something not to have that happen, and my son would have felt I was prejudiced against him. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be automatic,” Tata said.

Some of the other points that Tata makes in the interview:

The UK and the US have a “work ethics” problem among senior management, which is dragging them down.

“It’s a work ethic issue,” he says. “In my experience, in both Corus and (Jaguar), nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody. I feel if you have come from Bombay to have a meeting and the meeting goes till 6pm, I would expect that you won’t, at 5 o’clock, say, ‘Sorry, I have my train to catch. I have to go home.’ Friday, from 3.30pm, you can’t find anybody in their office.”

He contrasts that with the situation in India, where “if you are in a crisis, if it means working to midnight, you would do it. The worker (at Jaguar) seems to be willing to do that; the management is not.”

by the FB team

Thursday, 26 May, 2011

The Lost Animals of Fukushima

After much hand-wringing, the Japanese government finally created a mandatory evacuation zone around the radiation-spewing Fukushima plant. Humans should be safe now. But the same can't be said of the hundreds of thousands of abandoned of animals left behind.

In the midst of a hurried and uneven evacuation plan, the creatures—both household pets and domesticated farm animals—have been left stranded. According to The Telegraph and ABC News hundreds of thousands of animals are now on their own in the irradiated region—around 3,400 cows, 31,500 pigs and 630,000 chickens. Prof. D.L Brown of Cornell University's Department of Animal Science speculates almost all of these chickens are dead by now, and that the livestock are in rough shape. Whatever livestock is left won't be around for long—the government is killing them all off as a safety precaution.

And then there are the pets. It's estimated that almost 6,000 dogs alone inhabited the radius, though no telling how many of them are still alive. The Japanese government is doing what it can to retrieve stray animal friends, and with the help of nonprofits, trying to care for them or find them new homes. But often, homeowners on government-sanctioned, temporary visits back home are dismayed by what they find. When hazmat suit-wearing 63-year-old Hatsuo Sakamoto came home to quickly check up on his cat for the first time in months, it simply ran away. "The cat must be startled because it has been two months since we last saw it—and because we look like space aliens," lamented his wife. But it's a testament to the love these people had for their pets that they're willing to brave the radiation zone at all—often, just to say goodbye.
This was the case for Shoichi Akimoto, one of Fukushima's evacuated residents who had returned for a brief visit to his house. When he searched for John, his dog, he found the pet had died, still leashed, after digging itself a little hole in the ground to rest. With only 15 minutes left before they would be forced back out of the area, Akimoto and Nobuichi Kobayashi, a local leader, placed incense for the deceased pet beside it, unable to bring his friend back with him. "I will bury his body on my next return," he vowed. Stories like this—likely playing out all over Fukushima—speak to both the psychological turmoil of the disaster, and the tenacity of those affected by it.

Wednesday, 25 May, 2011

STD Test? There's an App for That

British health officials are hard at work on a new app that will allow users to pee into their cell phones and find out within minutes if they have an STD.

Seriously, we could not make this stuff up if we tried.

According to The Guardian, £4 million have been invested in the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, which is creating a smartphone app that will allow users, "to put urine or saliva on to a computer chip about the size of a USB chip, plug it into their phone or computer and receive a diagnosis within minutes."

The techno-savvy approached is aimed at young brits, who apparently are too embarrased to visit the doctor face to face and have been experiencing rising rates of STDs (or STIs if you prefer.)

"Your mobile phone can be your mobile doctor. It diagnoses whether you've got one of a range of STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea and tells you where to go next to get treatment," Dr Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George's, University of London, who is leading the project, told The Guardian.

If it's really that simple, why wait till after the deed is done? Wouldn't it make more sense for prospective partners to swap fluids before hand, get a reading on their cell phones, and then decide whether or not to "finish the download"?

Tuesday, 24 May, 2011

Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal

WASHINGTON — Those who planned the secret mission to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan knew it was a one-shot deal, and it nearly went terribly wrong.

The U.S. deliberately hid the operation from Pakistan, and predicted that national outrage over the breach of Pakistani sovereignty would make it impossible to try again if the raid on bin Laden’s suspected redoubt came up dry.

Once the raiders reached their target, things started to go awry almost immediately, officials briefed on the operation said.

Adding exclusive new details to the account of the assault on bin Laden’s hideout, officials described just how the SEAL raiders loudly ditched a foundering helicopter right outside bin Laden’s door, ruining the plan for a surprise assault. That forced them to abandon plans to run a squeeze play on bin Laden — simultaneously entering the house stealthily from the roof and the ground floor.

Instead, they busted into the ground floor and began a floor-by-floor storming of the house, working up to the top level where they had assumed bin Laden — if he was in the house — would be.

They were right.

The raiders came face-to-face with bin Laden in a hallway outside his bedroom, and three of the Americans stormed in after him, U.S. officials briefed on the operation told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a classified operation.

U.S. officials believe Pakistani intelligence continues to support militants who attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and actively undermine U.S. intelligence operations to go after al-Qaida inside Pakistan. The level of distrust is such that keeping Pakistan in the dark was a major factor in planning the raid, and led to using the high-tech but sometimes unpredictable helicopter technology that nearly unhinged the mission.

Pakistan’s government has since condemned the action, and threatened to open fire if U.S. forces enter again.

On Monday, the two partners attempted to patch up relations, agreeing to pursue high-value targets jointly.

The decision to launch on that particular moonless night in May came largely because too many American officials had been briefed on the plan. U.S. officials feared if it leaked to the press, bin Laden would disappear for another decade.

The one-shot deal

U.S. special operations forces have made approximately four forays into Pakistani territory since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, though this one, some 90 miles inside Pakistan, was unlike any other, the officials say.

The job was given to a SEAL Team 6 unit, just back from Afghanistan, one official said. This elite branch of SEALs had been hunting bin Laden in eastern Afghanistan since 2001.

Five aircraft flew from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, with three school-bus-size Chinook helicopters landing in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way to bin Laden’s compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, two of the officials explained.

Aboard two Black Hawk helicopters were 23 SEALs, an interpreter and a tracking dog named Cairo(Navy SEAL dogs are badasses, yes. But did you know some of them have titanium fangs, designed to rip through enemy protective armor?That titanium grill runs $2,000 per tooth. The end result, US military dog trainer Alex Dunbar tells The Daily, is that being bitten is "like being stabbed four times at once with a bone crusher." Hard. Core.). Nineteen SEALs would enter the compound, and three of them would find bin Laden, one official said, providing the exact numbers for the first time.

Aboard the Chinooks were two dozen more SEALs, as backup.

The Black Hawks were specially engineered to muffle the tail rotor and engine sound, two officials said. The added weight of the stealth technology meant cargo was calculated to the ounce, with weather factored in. The night of the mission, it was hotter than expected.

The Black Hawks were to drop the SEALs and depart in less than two minutes, in hopes locals would assume they were Pakistani aircraft visiting the nearby military academy.

One Black Hawk was to hover above the compound, with SEALs sliding down ropes into the open courtyard.

The second was to hover above the roof to drop SEALs there, then land more SEALs outside — plus an interpreter and the dog, who would track anyone who tried to escape and to alert SEALs to any approaching Pakistani security forces.

If troops appeared, the plan was to hunker down in the compound, avoiding armed confrontation with the Pakistanis while officials in Washington negotiated their passage out.

The two SEAL teams inside would work toward each other, in a simultaneous attack from above and below, their weapons silenced, guaranteeing surprise, one of the officials said. They would have stormed the building in a matter of minutes, as they’d done time and again in two training models of the compound.

The plan unraveled as the first helicopter tried to hover over the compound. The Black Hawk skittered around uncontrollably in the heat-thinned air, forcing the pilot to land. As he did, the tail and rotor got caught on one of the compound’s 12-foot walls. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft’s nose in the dirt to keep it from tipping over, and the SEALs clambered out into an outer courtyard.

The other aircraft did not even attempt hovering, landing its SEALs outside the compound.

Now, the raiders were outside, and they’d lost the element of surprise.

They had trained for this, and started blowing their way in with explosives, through walls and doors, working their way up the three-level house from the bottom.

They had to blow their way through barriers at each stair landing, firing back, as one of the men in the house fired at them.

They shot three men as well as one woman, whom U.S. officials have said lunged at the SEALs.

Small knots of children were on every level, including the balcony of bin Laden’s room.

As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

The three SEALs assumed he was going for a weapon, and one by one they rushed after him through the door, one official described.

Two women were in front of bin Laden, yelling and trying to protect him, two officials said. The first SEAL grabbed the two women and shoved them away, fearing they might be wearing suicide bomb vests, they said.

The SEAL behind him opened fire at bin Laden, putting one bullet in his chest, and one in his head.

It was over in a matter of seconds.

Back at the White House Situation Room, word was relayed that bin Laden had been found, signaled by the code word “Geronimo.” That was not bin Laden’s code name, but rather a representation of the letter “G.” Each step of the mission was labeled alphabetically, and “Geronimo” meant that the raiders had reached step “G,” the killing or capture of bin Laden, two officials said.

As the SEALs began photographing the body for identification, the raiders found an AK-47 rifle and a Russian-made Makarov pistol on a shelf by the door they’d just run through. Bin Laden hadn’t touched them.

They were among a handful of weapons that were removed to be inventoried.

It took approximately 15 minutes to reach bin Laden, one official said. The next 23 or so were spent blowing up the broken chopper, after rounding up nine women and 18 children to get them out of range of the blast.

One of the waiting Chinooks flew in to pick up bin Laden’s body, the raiders from the broken aircraft and the weapons, documents and other materials seized at the site.

The helicopters flew back to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and the body was flown to a waiting Navy ship for bin Laden’s burial at sea, ensuring no shrine would spring up around his grave.

When the SEAL team met President Obama, he did not ask who shot bin Laden. He simply thanked each member of the team, two officials said.

In a few weeks, the team that killed bin Laden will go back to training, and in a couple months, back to work overseas.

Monday, 23 May, 2011

Ratan Tata is losing patience

Ping! The clarification from Vaishnavi Communications, the Tata group’s communications agency, hit my inbox at 9:25 p.m. on a Saturday evening. Obviously, someone had swung into damage control mode inside Bombay House at that late hour. And I guess they had reason to get a bit rattled by their chairman’s sudden, sharp attack on the declining British work ethic in evidence at Corus and JLR in a candid interview to The Times of London.

The timing of the interview obviously couldn’t be worse. According to The Telegraph in the UK, Tata Steel proposes to close or mothball part of its Scunthorpe plant, putting at risk 1,200 jobs. The plans would also see 300 jobs lost at its Teesside site.

Yet it isn’t often that Indian business leaders publicly attack their own employees—and that too in a foreign country. In 2005, I had done an interview with L&T supremo AM Naik for The Times of India, where he had railed against the engineers inside his own company. “Around 95% of the students passing out of engineering colleges head either to the US or Europe or any other part of the world. The leftovers of the leftovers of the leftover come to join us, only to leave after gaining the platinum touch. So who will build India’s ports, bridges and airports?” he had questioned.

The next day, there was a huge uproar inside L&T as Naik had to placate his engineers and assure them that they weren’t exactly third class citizens as he had described them! Tata may have to do something similar in UK, as is evident from the hurried clarification. (See the clarification.)

To my mind, there’s a clear upshot from this no-holds barred interview: Ratan Tata is finally losing his patience, when it comes to securing the full benefits from his global M&A binge in the last decade. To that extent, this outburst, though somewhat belated, may not have come a day too soon. Let me explain why.

Ever since the Tatas made their big move to buy Corus in 2007 and followed it up with the JLR acquisition in 2008, their post merger integration model had a clear defining theme: it was referred to as light touch. Management consultants McKinsey & Co called it a quintessential Asian approach to M&A. Here’s how they describe it in a 2010 article in the McKinsey Quarterly: When it comes to acquisitions, some Asian companies are forging a novel path through the thicket of postmerger integration: they aren’t doing it. Among Western companies, the process can vary considerably from deal to deal, yet it’s an article of faith that acquirers must integrate quickly. Otherwise, the logic goes, they may lose the momentum of a deal before they can capture the synergies that justified it.

The Tatas epitomized this so-called Asian approach. From the time they made their big move, Ratan Tata chose to leave his crown jewels—Corus and JLR—strictly alone. There were no 100 day integration plans. There were no large armies of senior managers sent from India to indoctrinate their European employees.

A very senior manager from Tata Steel who was sent to push things along in UK returned home completely frustrated by the bureaucracy. None of the British managers would listen to any kind of advice; he confided to a senior executive I knew on a flight way back from UK. And Bombay House was in no hurry to enforce its writ.

The word was out that Corus was perhaps the most bureaucratic organization in Europe, a spaghetti of different cultures slapped together from the erstwhile British Steel and Dutch maker Koninklijke Hoogovens merger in 1999. No one had attempted to fuse the two organisations, and the plants across Euorpe continued to operate as decentralised entities, with enormous operating freedom for its managers. And this created large, bloated bureaucracies that no one had any control over. There was a joke about Corus’ antiquated IT systems—that may have well been true—no one in the central office knew exactly how many workers were employed in each plant. A senior executive at the Tatas once told me that the managers at Corus would do everything possible to thwart any kind of change effort. And the Tatas did nothing to attack this bureaucracy in the initial years, despite the fact that they may have overpaid for the two acquisitions, buying, as they did, at the top of the cycle.

When they bought Corus in 2007, the Tatas allowed the local management to set the agenda. The massive downturn following the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers and the resultant downturn did force the Tatas though to make massive job cuts in the UK and elsewhere. But it wasn’t until September 2010, that Corus became Tata Steel Europe.

Obviously, there may have been valid grounds for the Tatas not to meddle too much at Corus. The Anglo-Dutch steel maker was four times bigger than Tata Steel. Besides, the Tatas themselves did not have a cadre of international managers who were trained to handle such complex post merger integration. So they consciously left it to the existing European managers to lead the charge. It wasn’t until the combative American steel expert Kirby Adams arrived as the new CEO did the process of restructuring and culture change at Corus begin in right earnest. His plan to mothball the Teeside plant made him hugely unpopular with local politicians in the area. In the 14 months that he was there, Adams cut 6,000 jobs across Europe and thereby helped stop some of the bleeding at Corus. Not surprisingly, Adams stepped down in October 2010 and was replaced by his COO Karl-Ulrich Köhler, who had come in from German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp.

While he was at the helm, Adams made no efforts to integrate the European operations with the Indian ops. The two entities continued to perform without too much integration. Perhaps Adams was apprehensive that it could destabilise his own power base in Europe. Köhler, on the other hand, has no such compunctions. In the past few months, apparently he has himself realised the inherent fallacy of having two independent entities in India and Europe. He is said to have taken up the challenge of merging the two organisations and deriving greater synergies. And he is also said to have taken on the tough task of dismantling the infamous bureaucracy that Mr Tata ranted about in the interview to The Times.

So, after nearly four years after the Tatas acquired Corus, the gloves may finally be coming off. And it’s about time someone had the courage to call a spade a spade.

by Indrajit Gupta