Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On a Sporting Pilgrimmage

Gopichandar reports from Paris
After incessant threats from Media Cell, I have finally gotten down to writing something for the K Blog. I guess everyone knows that French cuisine is out of the world (some personal disagreement) and that French women are beautiful (no disagreements at all!!) but probably unknown is the fact that France boasts of the greatest sport lovers in the world. They hosted what is easily the best rugby world cup ever with matches like even Tonga vs. America filled with beer drinking French supporters dressed in costumes ranging from Asterix & Obelix to George Bush. Here is a rundown on my encounters with sports in Europe.

Venue: Parc De Princes
Match: PSG vs Bordeaux

It was my first soccer match and I landed up couple of hours early with a lot of expectation, and I wasn’t disappointed. Unlike the blessed souls in London which has ten clubs in the EPL, PSG is the only club in Paris and not surprisingly it is very well supported. The crowds had gathered early and were waiting patiently for the gates to be opened. I was wandering around after splurging 15 Euros on a PSG scarf, when I heard loud hooting and booing. I realized it was the away team supporters arriving completely cordoned with police protection. As a practice the away crowd assembles far away from the stadium and is escorted into a specific area in the stadium allocated to them. Though the PSG team boasted of stars like Rothen and Pauleta and had great crowd support but the away team walked away easy winners by a 2 goal margin. What was fascinating was how a neutral like me shouted my heart out rooting for PSG as if I was a lifelong fan. I guess that’s what soccer can do to you.

Venue: San Siro
Match: InterMilan vs Genoa
As any soccer fan would tell you, San Siro is one of the greatest sporting arenas in the world. Home to two famous clubs and a rich tradition of more than a century, it was a must see during our stop over at Milan. My enthusiasm rubbed off on our dear topper Venkat and Nakul (both of whom couldn’t spell soccer before ;) ) and the trio marched into the San Siro to watch Figo, Crespo and company. After watching the Paris crowd root for a losing cause, we were hoping for a home team win. And win they did! With style! - Knocking four past a brave Genova side. Figo was good but Estabian Cambiossa was brilliant. I had my doubts about central midfielders being hyped too much, but it was a scintillating performance from the Argentine veteran. By the end of the match Venky professed eternal support to Inter Milan and came out only after he had rendered the Nerrazuri song all by himself.

Venue: Bercy Indoor Stadium
Match: Paris Masters Semis and Finals
After buying tickets for the semis and finals of the Paris Masters, I was confident that I would be able to catch Federer and Nadal in action. But alas, another Argentine who goes by the name of David Nalbandian decided to play the tennis of his life at the most inappropriate time. He got past Federer in straight sets in the fourth round and left me cursing. With a heavy heart I landed up at the indoor stadium to catch up on the Nadal v Baghdatis match. After looking around unsuccessfully for Baghdatis’s girlfriend, I settled for the next best option - watching the match. Nadal did what he does best- make others make mistakes and pulled off another comeback victory. The other semifinal was a damp squib in terms of competitiveness as Nalbandian blasted past Gasquet in straight sets leaving the French crowd high and dry.
And in the finals Nalbandian took his game to a sublime level. The crowd was left gasping as he imperiously dumped Nadal for a 6-4, 6-0 victory. Federer has to wait another day; I am a Nalbandian fan for now! There’s something with these Argentines-they seem to be everywhere!!!

I finished off my sporting trip with a visit to the Nou camp (stadium of Barcelona) and Santiago Bernabau in Madrid. I also visited the Roland Garros. There is still so much to write about these arenas that will follow in another post. So all sports maniacs in PGP 11 - if you are looking for reasons to come on a student exchange program - look no further………

Friday, November 16, 2007

JIBS Sweden echoes Incredible India!

Prasanna Bora reports from Jonkoping (Pronounced as Yon-show-ping), Sweden on the International Day Celebrations planned for 13th November, 2007. Read on and enjoy!

International Day celebrations were planned for 13th November 2007. The exchange students from IIMs, who normally prefer to gallivant around Europe than participate actively in events on campus, seemed all excited and geared up to put up a good show. Was it good? Well, it was great !! Here's the story: On International Day, each team is required to put up a stall representing their country and presenting information about the art,culture, education, job opportunities, places to visit and much more. So we, seven students from different IIMs, decided to show the rest of the junta, what India was all about.

Preparation time was limited and so were the resources as we had no diyas or rangolis and had chosen not to get any traditional attire from home. However, Deepika used her strong networking skills and got lots of the above mentioned accessories from an Indian lady whom she met at the supermarket. (For the record, the lady invited Deepika to her place and she was treated to a good Indian brunch). Tasks were divided among the seven of us with each responsible to gather information about different topics and prepare one-pagers on each topic. We have come to know more about India during this exercise than ever before. With just 3 days in hand, we designed seven colourful posters showcasing Indian lifestyle,sports, music, dance, places to see apart from a factsheet about India and juggled around a few youtube videos to make one of our own. Assorted parathas (Alu, Gobi, mutter and paneer), gajar ka halwa and lassi was the menu planned for the guests who would visit our stall. On the eve of the celebrations, the kitchen defied what too many cooks do to the broth.

D Day : We got up early in the morning and carried bags full of stuff to the university all dressed in traditional attire. We could not miss our lectures, so we set up the stall much earlier. As Deepika and I tried our hand at rangoli, the other IIM guys set up the posters. When we were done, our stall looked colourful with lamps, chunnis, bangles, a tray full of food, aftermint and tidbits, notes and coins all finely arranged. But the USP of the stall was that we offered visitors a chance to wear Indian attire and get themselves clicked. We even offered to email them their snaps at the end of day. The ladies got to choose a bindi and a chunni of their choice while the men got to wear a turban and a stole with the traditional vermillion tilak. With 40 countries represented, the school entrance was full of colourful attire, informative posters, music, food and above all, a helluva lot of excitement.

Hardwork pays... it surely does as we were judged the best stall. Our excitement knew no bounds as we lived the moment, a moment that we would remember for a long time and so would everyone else at JIBS. It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Peter Hiton, the director of JIBS, who personally came over to our stall to invite us to collect our prizes and was kind enough to take pictures with us in traditional Indian attire! What followed in the evening was a party hosted by the organisers for all the participants. Thats about it ...our moment of pride at JIBS Sweden and maybe for India as well. Chak de!!!


P.S: Visit this link for more of the day's pictures.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Diwali celebrations @ K

Diwali was celebrated with great fanfare and enthusiasm as the entire student community came together to give the celebration a familiar feeling of oneness. As part of the celebrations, Spicmacay organized Rangoli and inter-hostel diya lighting competitions. The enthusiasm shown by the students for these competitions was very much evident as every hostel came up with innovative ideas to impress the judge, Prof. S.S.S.Kumar who was floored by the decorations and had a tough time deciding the winner. And how can one forget the lip-smacking sumptuous dinner arranged by the Messcom which had people remarking 'Paet Bhar Gaya Par Man Nahin Bhara'
After these competitions it was time to light up the night with fireworks. And what a magnificent display it was! This was followed by a game of tambola, thus rounding off what had been a memorable diwali to all of us.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Day 3: The D-Day

The third instalment from Hitesh.. read and enjoy!

Almost all of us know the story behind the Festival of Lights. Ramanand Sagar and his tele-serial 'Ramayana' have ensured that our generation is knowledgeable about atleast the basic plot of the legend of Lord Rama (I suspect that the future will hail Ramanand Sagar as an incarnation of Valmiki/Tulsidas). For those who would still like a retelling of the eternal tale, I have something different - a video I found on the net. It uses scenes from the animated movie 'Ramayan - The Legend of Prince Ram'. It can be found at \\loki\public\hitesh10\diwali.avi
For those who like the video better than my drabbles, forget it - there is no escaping me! I will talk about the lesser known trivia about Diwali.

First, have you wondered, if Diwali is about Lord Rama's return, why do we worship Goddess Laxmi instead? Well the answer is simple really. Remember the churning-of-the-sea (Sagar Manthan) the Dhanteras post mentioned? As was mentioned in that post, Goddess Laxmi had appeared from the sea then. She 'later' married Lord Vishnu through a Swayamvara. You guessed right - the 'later' was 2 days after that - the evening of Diwali! This being her marriage anniversary, the Goddess is said to be in her best mood and willing to listen to all her devotees. Strange - in today's age if I were to disturb a kind lady on her marriage anniversary she would ask me to buzz off. Thats what makes them only human I guess.

But I digress. Sikhs also celebrate this day with great fervour. For them this day is 'Bandi Chhorh Diwas' - 'Release from Imprisonment Day'. It was on this day that the sixth Guru Hargobindji was released from prison by Emperor Jahangir. An interesting legend surrounding this is that the guru agreed to be released only if the 52 princes detaineed with him were limited too. Jahangir, to limit the number declared that any number of princes could leave, as long as they were holding the guru's cloak while leaving. The foolish emperor didnt realize that all the Guru had to do was wear a longer cloak. He did and the 52 princes left prison clutching onto one knot each on the guru's cloak. That left the emperor in knots. It is said that a few years later he had turned into a drunkard and invalid. I think he always was - this emperor was once known as Prince Salim (Anarkali's-royal-lover-fame).

I seem to have digressed again (its becoming a habit!). The Jains too have their own reason to celebrate Diwali. The24th (and last) tirthankara, Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana on this day in 527 BCE at Pavapuri. A freedom from the cycle of birth and death, this Nirvana is a reason for celebration. This day also marks the end of the Jain year (Veer Niravana Samvaat). Interestingly, the oldest historical reference of Diwali is in a, not Hindu, but Jain text dating around 700 CE. I do not wish to question the antiquity of the festival, for this would bring into question the historicity of Lord Rama itself - a debate that has bored many of us out of our wits in more ways than one!

Nepal calls the festival 'Tihar' :D (I wonder why India naming its maximum security prison by that name didn't cause a diplomatic standoff). While their celebrations also strech over 5 days, they worship cows on Dhanteras, dogs on Naraka Chaturthi, Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali, oxes on the day after that and on the last day brothers and sisters exchange pleasentaries. Cows, dogs, Lakshmi, oxes - I wonder why this hasn't caused the Goddess to unleash her fury. I have long given up understanding Goddesses!

Rest in the next instalment!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Day 2: Naraka Chaturdashi

Hitesh is back with the next instalment in his Diwali special:

Long long ago, there lived an king called Narakasura. He wasn't always evil, the son of Mother Earth and Lord Vishnu's incarnation Varaha the Boar, he was initially pious. He overthrew the last danava of earth to establish his rule over all of Kamrup (modern day Assam). He also built a new capital, Pragjyotishpur (said to be today's Guwahati). His initial benevelonce saw him getting a boon of a extraordinarily long life. He used this boon to plunder Swarga time and again, making Indra penniless for a zillionth time. While Indra was used to this 'regime change' the present situation was worse than before though. Earlier Indra would run to Lord Vishnu and the Lord would take an avataar and destroy the demon. But the that time avataar of the Lord, Krishna was as anti-Indra as Narakasura. Krishna had stopped the worship of Indra in households (remember the mountain lifting act? that was to protect Gokulwasis from Indra's reaction post this decision). Also Krishna had recently claimed that everything the Samudra Manthana produced (remember the cows, jewels, godesses, etc i mentioned yesterday) belonged to him. Indra was hardly in a position approach Lord Krishna.

But then Narakasura dug his own grave. He started plundering neighbouring kingdoms, not just for their wealth but also for their women. These kings, who had an ex-boy scout like bonhomie, approached the western-most (and thus one of the few as yet unaffected by the onslaughts of the first Assamese terrorist ever) of their club, Vasudeva Krishna. Always ready to uphold righteousness, he agreed. Thus the battle began.

Krishna being God-and-all, the battle was over soon. Krishna was at his impressive best, fully armed what with his weapon Sudarshana and mount Garuda. The Lord's 108 wives too turned up for moral support. After defeating Tamra, Antariksha, Sravana, Vibhavasu, Vasu, Nabhasvan, Aruna, Mura and finally Narakasura, Lord Vishnu proceeded to install Naraka's son as the next king (colonies separated by 100s of km can be very difficult to manage, something our not-so-friendly neighbour realised only in 1971). This event is celebrated every year as Naraka Chaturdashi. Yes thats the festival we have today!

He decided to return all the spoils of war to their rightful owners. These included strange trinkets like Aditi's ear-rings, a garland of vaijayanti, Varuna's umbrella and the rock that was the peak of Mount Mandara (now wasn't Narakasura weird to have collected all these?). But there was one problem when 16000 of the 'returns' were disowned. These were the women Narakasura had abducted; no one save the the 16000 and the Lord himself believed in their chastity. The Lord did the only thing an honourable man would - he married them all.

The Lord, his army and 16108 wives proceeded to hand deliver the stuff that belonged to Indra. Indra and his charming wife Sachi played the perfect hosts. They even showed the guests the grand courthouse Sudharma and the greatest of the Kalpavrikshas (wish-fulfilling trees) - Parijata. The Lord liked the former and his favourite wife (I know that sounds strange in today's monogamous world!) Satyabhama liked the later. They uprooted both and headed home. Indra, the fool that he is, decided to battle the Lord. He was, of course, defeated. He then famously declared that 'He always wanted to lose to Lord Krishna and it was an honour' - the most pathetic oneliner a loser ever gave. The courthouse and tree were then installed in Dwarka, where they remained till Krishna's death, when Dwarka itself got washed away.

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Saga of Diwali: Day1 - Dhanteras

Hitesh the Storyteller is back with a vengence. Having last surfaced during Onam, he wishes to make up for the lost time by using the 5-day festival of Diwali to the hilt. Today is the first of these 5 days, Dhanteras. Following is Hitesh's take on the mythological origins of Dhanteras:

Also called Yamadeepadan, Dhanteras is celebrated on the 13th day of the wanning moon of the Hindu lunar month of Ashwin. Simply put, two days before Diwali. The story goes that the sixteen-year-old son of King Hima was fated to breathe his last, owing to snakebite, on the fourth day of his marriage. On the D-day his wife illuminated the house with numerous lamps and placed a heap of gold and silver coins and ornaments in front of their living quarters. All through the night she sang songs and told stories. It is said that the lights of the lamps, and the dazzle of the coins and ornaments blinded the god of death, Yamaraj (the one who goes around on a cool buffalo). Thus, the wife succeeded in saving the life of her husband. In memory of this event, the women of the house choose this day to purchase gold and silver ornaments ( going by the number of jewellery stores in this state, something chechis of Kerala seem to particularly love).

Another name for this festival is Dhanavantri Triyodashi. The legend behind that is even grander. The devas and asuras once collaborated to undertake a great mission, that of churning the 'Ksheera-Sagara' (the ocean of milk) so as to obtain its valuable treasures. This mission called 'Sagara Manthana' took days and required frequent interventions by Lord Vishnu (who took three avataars Kurma the Tortoise, Ajita the Unvanquishable and Mohini the Enchantress) and Lord Shiva (who gulped down the toxin halahala to become Neelakanthan - no relation to a PGP11er of the same name). Many treasures came out of the ocean, including Kamadhenu (a forty-jersey-cows-in-one cow), Ucchaisrava (the white-green horse), Airavata (the multi-trunked mutant white elephant only Indra liked), Kaustabhamani (a diamond that was offered to Lord Vishnu), Kalpavriksha (the wish fulfilling tree; more about it tomorrow), Laxmi (the goddess of wealth, who soon after married Lord Vishnu through a swayamwara), Varuni (the goddess of wine and intoxication - the world was never the same again). Next came the apsaras, beautiful dancing girls. There almost was a battle for their ownership, till one of the apsaras pointed out that they have free will and prefer to go to the devas (Apsaras and Varuni, now thats what caused the downfall of Indra!). At last, Dhanvantari (the divine physician) appeared with a pot of amrita (nectar of immortality) in his hands. A free for all ensued, with the asuras and devas both wanting all of it. Dhanvantari, having only just entered the real world panicked and ran for his life. The clumsy guy that he was he spilled some of the nectar in Nasik, Haridwar, Ujjain and Allahabad. Every 12 years these cities see millions converge from all over the Hindu world to celebrate Dhanvantari's clumsiness! Yup thats the story behind the Kumbh Mela!
But I digress. Sensing that Dhanvantari would soon be too tired to keep up, Lord Vishnu decided to intervene. A keen observer of the chauvanistic Asura male, he saw that the only way to control them would be to appear before them as a beautiful maiden named Mohini. So enchanting was Mohini that asuras agreed to share the nectar with the devas as long as Mohini served the same. Mohini used this 'trust' to the hilt, she gave devas all the nectar and asuras plain water. There were complications, but by and large the divine plan succeeded. Dhanvantari, now jobless, seeked some employment that would use his knowledge of medicine. Indra appointed him the Physician of the Devas. Grand title, little work - having become immortal the devas didn't need a physician. Dhanvantari utilized all the free time he had to write an appendix to the Rgveda called - u guessed it right - Ayurveda!

So how do u celebrate this day? You could, of course, buy loads of gold and silver in honour of Hima's son. Knowing the poor economic conditions of people here, I think we would be better of honouring Dhanavantari. How do we do that? Well honour doctors and physicians. Run to your nearest doctor (whether near the supermarket or in Hostel C) and pay your respects. The latter of the two doctors may end up blushing, but tradition doctor-madam, is tradition!

The Summers Story

Summer Placements season for PGP-11 ended in grand style, with the participating batch of 193 students, including participants of the Fellow Program in Management (FPM), assured of a rich learning environment at some of the top corporate houses from India and abroad. IIMK’s performance this year outshone last year’s record-breaking placements season comfortably, setting new benchmarks along the way.

Summer Placements 2008 saw participation from 66 top recruiters from India and abroad, with 22 new recruiting partners participated in placements at IIMK for the first time. Some of the new names added to our increasingly impressive roster included: Google, Freudenberg, Accenture Business Consulting, Citibank, Bank of America, KPMG, Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Hewitt Associates, amongst others.

Freudenberg, the diversified German conglomerate that offers its customers technically challenging products and services in a wide variety of businesses ranging from chemicals to IT services, across the world, initiated a relationship with IIMK this year. Freudenberg was one of the most coveted recruiters on campus, and recruited students for positions in Germany and Hong Kong. Freudenberg, as an exclusive recruiter, recruits only from very select business school campuses in India, and its participation at Summer Placements 2008 speaks volumes about IIMK’s perception as the preferred destination for top-drawer managerial talent.

Other prominent names that participated at Summer Placements 2008 included: YES BANK, Johnson & Johnson, HUL, Yahoo!, Edelweiss, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Ocwen, American Express, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Boston Analytics, Marico, CHAINalytics, Standard Chartered Bank, Deloitte Consulting, Colgate-Palmolive, ITC, Asian Paints, and Tata Motors, amongst others.

The average stipend on campus zoomed 25% as compared to last year, to be pegged at Rs 25,000 per month. Accenture Business Consulting and Boston Analytics offered the highest domestic stipend at Summer Placements 2008 – Rs 50,000 per month. The offers saw an even distribution across verticals, with 28% of the batch choosing internships in the finance domain, 22% of the batch selecting marketing profiles and 20% of the batch showing their preference for Systems. Consulting internships were chosen by 16% of the batch, while the other 14% was evenly split across Operations, HR and Others.

Accenture Business Consulting extended its relationship with IIMK to summer placements this year, after making the highest number of offers across top campuses at IIMK during Final Placements 2007. Technology giants Google and Yahoo! were amongst the most coveted recruiters on campus; both offered roles in Internet Sales & Marketing that were extremely sought after at Summer Placements 2008.

PepsiCo, AIG, RPG Enterprises, IBM Business Consulting, YES BANK and Reliance Industries Ltd were amongst the many recruiters who made the highest number of offers across business schools at IIMK this year, during Summer Placements 2008. Impressed by the quality of talent, PricewaterhouseCoopers offered roles with the Performance Improvement division for the first time at IIMK. Deloitte Strategy & Operations and Deloitte Financial Advisory Services continued to strengthen their relationship with us; IIMK being the only campus where both Deloitte S&O and Deloitte FAS participate in placements processes.

A distinct trend at Summer Placements 2008 was the wide variety of exclusive roles on offer, even from traditional recruiters. American Express offered risk management profiles in their prestigious WWRIM division. AIG, impressed with the students’ knowledge in the financial domain offered roles in asset management, with the AMC division.

In a statement reflective of IIMK’s rapidly growing stature amongst premier recruiters, Senior Vice President & Regional Head (South) – Corporate and Institutional Banking, YES BANK, Mr. Nakul Beri said, “The response and enthusiasm to YES BANK on campus was terrific, with a professionally organized process. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with IIM Kozhikode that spans beyond just placements.”

Students chose to intern with organizations offering some of the most exotic and unique profiles across top business school campuses, thus underlining the diversity that sets us apart. Students were offered roles in Carbon Credit Trading and Environmental Consulting, while TCS offered unique roles in Entrepreneurship Marketing. SET made five offers in the Media Management and Media Marketing roles.

As an institute, we have been growing at a rapid pace. The last two years have seen the student intake increase by no less than 25%. That said, the growth of key placement parameters more than kept pace with the pace of growth of the institute.

Chairperson-Placements, Prof. Kulbhushan Balooni remarked “IIMK’s placements have consistently bettered the records the institute has set for itself. In spite of IIMK setting an aggressive pace of growth, placements performance has consistently exceeded all expectations. This augurs well for the next decade of excellence for IIMK.”

Every placement season, we set new benchmarks, easily surpassing its past records. Never one to rest on its past laurels, and driven by its motto of ‘Dream. Innovate. Achieve.’ we continue to march ahead, poised to challenge new frontiers in the next decade of its existence.