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The cover story on RBI Chief Raghuram Rajan had quoted the following lines from a famous poem:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise
(From “If”, a poem by Rudyard Kipling)


Here is the link to the cover story :

The article had ended with the following lines:


Rajan would surely love to end his innings at the RBI with another Kipling poem, “The Secret of The Machines”:

“But remember, please,
the Law by which we live,
We are not built to comprehend a lie,
We can neither love nor pity nor forgive,
If you make a slip in handling us you die!


I had sent a letter to the editor of BT on the cover story. The latest issue of BT dated 8th Dec 2013, just out today, has published an edited version of my letter. Here is the link:

Here are the contents of my letter:

If Only

Like the title of the Rudyard Kipling poem “If”, quoted by Raghuram Rajan in his maiden speech after taking charge as governor of the RBI (His Own Man, November 24), there are many ifs connected with his role as well. Rajan has the intelligence, the academic background, the skill sets and the grit to see the country out of its current morass, but only if he is given a free hand to tweak interest rates; if he is not targeted personally; if he gets the required support from his team mates; if he is allowed to complete his tenure of three years; if he is not blindly opposed every time he throws a new dice (such as allowing foreign banks to acquire local lenders); if he is not made a scapegoat for the follies of our political and economic system. Thus the Kipling poem which concludes the report is not really an apt analogy. Rajan is a man, not a machine.

– J.S. Broca, New Delhi

The Retirement Dilemma

The Retirement Dilemma


At times, it would seem that Sachin Tendulkar is the first man to have retired from a successful career, such has been the mass hysteria around his last appearance in Indian team colours.

Retirement is a decision that comes relatively early to sportsmen, between 30 and 40 years. The problem is that the vacuum will be difficult to fill, from the adrenaline- fuelled high of competing at the highest level and being part of a team of achievers, to a retiree.

Sportsmen have to obey their bodies, but what of those in the corporate world who have earned enough to retire by the time they are 50, or even younger, and still keep going, clearly reluctant to give up all the intangible benefits that come with a top executive position. It’s even harder when you are a founder of a company or a member of the founding family.

In a recent interview, Shiv Nader, founder-chairman of HCL, now closing in on his 70th birthday, seemed almost shocked when he was asked about retirement plans. “I don’t have any,” he responded testily.

Narayana Murthy, the same age as Nader, had officially retired, but lost no time in returning to the company he co-founded when the opportunity arose.

Ratan Tata, 75, also officially retired, is still very much in the thick of things, though his old office is now occupied by Cyrus Mistry. There are numerous others, but it is not just an Indian thing.

Many of the world’s most influential business leaders are confronting the same decision as they continue to rule their empires in their 80s and even 90s.

Leaders in their 80s include Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp and T Boone Pickens Jr of JP Capital. Kirk Kerkorian of Tracinda is 95. Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone and Li Ka-Shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa, are both 84.

Obviously, money is not what keeps these people working. They keep going for other reasons. Ego and power, for instance. Sitting on your yacht or by the pool in some fancy mansion does nothing for the ego compared to being in an office where people are looking to you for decisions, where the adrenaline is pumping all the time as you look at risk factors, hiring talent, motivating staff, chairing meetings and experiencing the rush that comes with the exercise of power. It’s a high that many corporate experts call ‘owning the experience’.

In myriad surveys, at the top of the list of reasons why people in high positions keep going long after retirement age is simply because they like working.

Exotic vacations are fine, but work provides mental stimulation, creativity, a desire to stay active, interaction with a team of achievers and, above all, the kick that comes from being the boss.

Just feeding on the buzz of the workplace is unlike anything else. “Most people who have participated in the workplace over the last 30 years have found themselves in a position of importance or relevance, and it’s very hard to walk away from being relevant,” says Brian Schwartz, a vice-president and financial adviser for HSBC Securities.

Other analysts point to the fact that, over a period of time, boss or not, the job becomes part of your identity, something very difficult to live without. “If you have been in the workforce for 25-plus years, it’s very likely that what you do is really connected to who you are,” says Marci Alboher, vice-president of and author of The Encore Career Handbook. Your job is your identity and that extends to your social life as well. So many of the friends you make are to do with that aspect of your life—peers, if you will.

The new twist is longevity. Medical advances and lifestyle changes have extended life spans all across the world. In the US, it’s now 76 years for men and 81 years for women. In India, life expectancy for Indian men has gone up from 48.6 years in 1970 to 63.2 years in 2010, while for women, it has risen from 49.1 years to 67.5 years.

These days, people in their late 60s and 70s are fit, physically and mentally, and for many, work is what keeps the blood flowing and degenerative diseases at bay.

So what is the ideal age to actually contemplate retirement? The scientific community’s consensus on long-reigning tycoons is that all good things come to an end. Some get lucky and are vigorous into old age, many others aren’t.

Generally, by the time people reach their 80s, muscle mass decreases, and so do strength and endurance. Hearing and vision loss are other factors that affect around 43% of the population.

Most elderly powerful business people, though, have no intention of abdicating if they don’t have to. And that may be the smartest decision they ever make, according to many gerontologists. In fact, hanging on to a job full of responsibilities and challenges may be the best thing for an executive’s health, says a report from Cleveland Clinic’s centre for geriatric medicine.

“In order to age successfully, you have to have cognitive challenges,” it says. “You have to have social engagement, so you’re with peers and have meaningful activities.” In other words, when it comes to ageing and retirement, there are no rules.

The writer is Group Editor, Special Projects & Features, The Indian Express


SUTTON’S LAW  New Laws, fascinate me. I have a collection of some really funny laws as well. This morning I read about the captioned law. My curiosity was aroused and a little search via Google, gave me some interesting information. Sutton’s law states that when diagnosing, one should first consider the obvious. It suggests that one should first conduct those tests which could confirm (or rule out) the most likely diagnosis. It is taught in medical schools to suggest to medical students that they might best order tests in that sequence which is most likely to result in a quick diagnosis, hence treatment, while minimizing unnecessary costs. It is also applied in pharmacology, when choosing a drug to treat a specific disease you want the drug to reach the disease.It is applicable to any process of diagnosis, e.g. debugging computer programs. Computer-aided diagnosis provides a statistical and quantitative approach. A more thorough analysis will consider the false positive rate of the test and the possibility that a less likely diagnosis might have more serious consequences. A competing principle is the idea of performing simple tests before more complex and expensive tests, moving from bedside tests to blood results and simple imaging such as ultrasound and then more complex such as MRI then specialty imaging. The law can also be applied in prioritizing tests when resources are limited, so a test for a treatable condition should be performed before an equally probable but less treatable condition.

The law is named after the bank robber Willie Sutton, who reputedly replied to a reporter’s inquiry as to why he robbed banks by saying “because that’s where the money is.” (In Sutton’s 1976 book Where the Money Was, Sutton denies having said this).

A similar idea is contained in the physician’s adage, “When you hear hoof- beats behind you, think horses, not zebras.”


“If you think that you have a new idea, you are wrong. Someone else probably already had it. This idea isn’t original either. I stole it from someone else.”





A hilarious example of what the bureaucracy can do… A Team comprising of a Writer, a Producer, a Director, etc. applied to the Government of India for financial assistance to produce a Movie on Mahabharata and even submitted the script.
All of them committed suicide later and the reason will be very obvious once you have read the reply from the Government.
Dated …………
Subject: Mahabharata
To: The Writer, Film Director & Film Producer, Mumbai
Ref: Film story submitted by you, regarding financing of films by Government of India, Your letter dt. …………
The undersigned is directed to refer the above letter and state that the Government has examined your proposal for financing a film called ”Mahabharat”. The Very High Level Committee constituted for this purpose has been in consultation with the Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women and Labour Commission, in addition to various Ministries and State Governments and have formed definitive opinions about the script.
Their observations are as below:
1. In the script submitted by you it is shown that there were two sets of cousins, namely, the Kauravas, numbering one hundred, and the Pandavas, numbering five. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has pointed out that these numbers are high, well above the norm prescribed for families by them It is brought to your kind attention that when the Government is spending huge amounts for promoting family planning, this will send wrong signals the public. Therefore, it is recommended that there may be only three Kauravas and one Pandava.
2. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has raised an issue whether it is suitable to depict kings and emperors in this democratic age. Therefore, it is suggested that the Kauravas may be depicted as Honourable Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and the Pandava maybe depicted as Honourable Member of Parliament(Rajya Sabha). The ending of the film shows the victory of the said Pandavas over the said Kauravas. The ending may be suitably modified so that neither of the Honourable Members of Parliament are shown as being inferior to the other.
3. The Ministry of Science and Technology has observed that the manner of birth of Kauravas is suggestive of human cloning, a technology banned in India. This may be changed to normal birth.
4. The National Commission for Women has objected that the father of Pandavas, one Sri Pandu is depicted as bigamous, and also there is only one wife for the Pandavas in common. Therefore suitable changes maybe made in the said script so that the said Sri Pandu is not depicted as bigamous. However, with the reduction in number of Pandavas as suggested above, the issue of polyandry can be addressed without further trouble.
5. The Commission for the Physically Challenged has observed that the portrayal of the visually impaired character ‘Dhritharastra’ is derogatory. Therefore the said character may not be shown as visually impaired.
6. The Department of Women and Child Development have highlighted that the public disrobing of one female character called ‘Draupadi’ is objectionable and derogatory to women in general. Further the Home Ministry anticipates that depiction of such scenes may create law and order problem and at the same time invite strong protests from the different women forums. Such scenes may also invite penal action under SITA (Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act), therefore they may be avoided and deleted from the film.
7. It is felt that showing the Pandavas and the Kauravas as gamblers will be anti-social and counter-productive as it might encourage gambling. Therefore, the said Pandava and Kauravas may be shown to have engaged in horse racing. (Hon. Supreme Court has held horse racing not to be gambling).
8. The Pandavas are shown as working in the King Virat’s employment without receiving any salary. According to the Human Rights Commission, this amounts to bonded labour and may attract provisions of The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. This may be corrected at once.
9. In the ensuing war, one character by name Sri Abhimanyu has been shown as fighting. The National Labour Commission has observed that, war being a hazardous industry, and the said character being 16 years old, this depiction will be construed as a case of child labour. Also there is no record of his being paid any compensation. This may also be deemed to be violatory of the provisions of The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act,1986 and Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Such references in the film may be removed.
10. The character ‘Sri Krishna’ has been depicted as wearing a peacock feather. The peacock is our National Bird and wearing dresses made from peacock feather is an offence under the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. This may not be depicted.
11. Smt M. Gandhi has raised very serious objection for using any elephants or horses in war scenes, since there is every scope for mistreatment and injury to the said animals. The provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1890 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Act, 1960 would be applicable in the instant case. Suitable changes may be made in the script to address the objections raised.
12. In pursuance of the Memorandum of Ministry of Finance regarding austerity measures, it is informed that in the battle field sequences, only ten soldiers may be allowed for each side. Also, all the characters may be shown to have obtained a valid license under the Arms Act, 1959 as well as the Indian Arms Act, 1878.
You are therefore requested to modify the script along the lines indicated above and resubmit it to the undersigned at the earliest for reconsideration.
Thanking you,
Yours faithfully,