Monday, March 16, 2009

IPL out of India – Good Riddance?

It is finally out in the open – the IPL circus is going to move out of the country. Lalit Modi has indicated that Boards of ALL countries have invited IPL to their shores. The South African Board has indicated its willingness and its ability to host the matches. So has the English cricket Board. These two are the front runners for the host status. The venue will be finalised tomorrow.

My primary reaction to this all is Good Riddance. I mean, who cares? Sure, I love cricket and have always loved it but was the IPL more important than the elections that are to be held in the same time frame? What about the security requirements for the entire tamasha? Does the BCCI have any inkling of the concerns of the security forces? And quite frankly when I go out to vote I want to know that the security is adequate and not learn that it is not at the optimum level because the BCCI wanted to hold the IPL at the same time.

I was quite shocked at the extent of security arrangement that was in place for the Chennai test against England. At that time it was understandable and probably required given the environment. But to have that kind of security for ALL the IPL matches at the exact same time as the elections was too much to ask for. In that context I am quite happy that it is out of India. If the SA and/or English Boards can make some moolah out of this junket then good for them.

My secondary response was: Is it The BCCI’s way of telling the Indian Govt. that it does not need it and that they, the BCCI, can obviously go where want to and also do what they want to? After all the BCCI is the un-crowned king of world cricket. It has taken on other Boards and has cowed down almost all of them. Now is it taking on governments? Or am I letting my imagination run riot? Probably. Probably not. I wonder what the next step would be.

I mean next year. If this forced experiment is a success then what is stopping the IPL from being staged overseas next year too? After all IPL is not exactly about any touchy feely things like sentiment, patriotism etc but about hardcore lucre. So does that mean that the IPL would be permanently staged outside India? Maybe. Would that be a problem? Again I don’t think so. After all how many of us watched it at a stadium? Not too many, right? So what is the problem if it held in Timbuktu? Just watch the damn thing on TV like you did last time round. (That is, if the row between Sony and BCCI is settled before the tournament commences.) And count yourself lucky that you don’t have to go to the yucky stadia in India and can watch the matches in the comfort of your home.

Now what happens to the franchisees? The previous time none of the Franchisees made any money. So given the logistics that are required for IPL-2 would getting into the black be pushed further back? The IPL, according to Lalit Modi, would not be making any profits this year. Well, the BCCI was the only entity making money and now if it is not going to, I am fairly certain that the franchisees would not either.

Of course franchisees would be happy that is at least being held this year but I would really like to figure out how sound a business proposition the IPL is for the team owners. Or is it just a PR exercise for most of them?

Whether the IPL will continue to be staged overseas or not, whether franchisees make money or not, whether cricketers slap each other or not, whether there are any close finishes or not; I sure find the run up to the IPL as exciting as any 20/20 cricket match. And with Messrs Modi and Pawar at the helm of affairs I am fairly certain that there is more excitement coming our way before IPL-2 ends.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mock Interviews

I know that elsewhere on this blog I have been rather critical of students who appear for interviews to get into an MBA programme, but must admit I did find a couple of interesting candidates the last time I interviewed a bunch of students.
I have been conducting a series of mock-interviews for those students who have got the "CAT calls" and obviously a large percentage is engineers. And the profile is almost always the same.... Engineer/IT sector/2-3 years work experience/completely disenchanted with IT etc. But at times there are these students who stand out among the group. (Before people start off about my prejudice against engineers, let me clarify that I do not have any and the description above is just that - a description)
A couple of days back I interviewed this dude (a fresher) who is an amateur graphologist and who had read and digested the Mahabharata/Prince/Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance/Brothers karamazov etc. and wanted to be asked questions on those books. The reason? He wanted to speak about his passion for reading and wanted to check if his knowledge of trivia about these books was as good as his thought it was.
I of course obliged. Asked him questions on the Mahabharata ranging from first warrior to be killed at Kurukshetra to the astra used to slay Karna to the names of Draupadi's children etc. He answered all of them and then as he was stepping out saw me writing my comments on the interview pad. He then leaned forward and started to read what I was writing. I was a bit taken aback with this but he then revealed that he was an amateur graphologist and that he wanted to "read" my handwriting. He started to analyse my handwriting without as much as a by your leave and then proceeded to write down all my "qualities". Got about 60% right must say.
This interview was only an aperitif. Then there was this girl (another fresher) who had interests in palmistry, [had my palm read ;-)] wanted to become a crystal-ball gazer, was about to learn tarot card reading and planned to start a chocolate business after her MBA. She had already conducted "field trials" in her chocolate business by making and distributing chocolates in class and had got positive "reviews" and was confident of being able to cater to discerning consumers.
Was a refreshing change from all those who aspire to rise in the corporate hierarchy and become "Manger in a Big Company". I am not saying that these two will make to the IIMs/TISS or whichever other institute that they had calls from. I am not even saying that this is the template that should be followed by others. All I am saying is that in a universe of much of a muchness it probably helps if you genuinely have interests that are slightly hatke and if you have adequate knowledge about the same. It probably helps if you can attract the attention of the rather jaded interviewers and then impress them with your undoubted knowledge in that field. Without arrogance or a know-it-all attitude.
May more such hatke thinkers/doers bloom in the B-School environment.