Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shaken, But Not Stirred: The Sky Who Crashed Me

The name's Bond. Games Bond.

Some weeks back I undertook a highly dangerous secret mission - to crash test the latest model developed by a leading luxury carmaker. We have an extra 4 crore to burn; please crash the car and tell us if its ok, they said. It's the latest thing in automobile safety checks I was told. A mystery crashing, if you will.

I was hesitant, but I agreed. Of course no testing track would do. To give it an authentic feel I was compelled to drive it in the heart of South Mumbai in the dead of the night. That would be the default habitat for the car in real life anyway.

So there I was, racing the car in all my secret agent glory when things got a bit out of hand. It was either a sleeping beggar or a paver block that came loose (not much difference between the two when you are going at 250 kpmh). The result was that I ended up banging the car into umm... other cars. That was not really part of the test. I was shaken, but not stirred of course. The sight wasn't pretty. A mangled mass of metal. I still get nightmares about it. And there were some minor issues, like some dead passers-by and stuff. Not that it matters much, since I have a licence to kill.

My clients realized what a mess it was of course. We must do something, they said. Can't let the competition know about this. And one of them hit upon an incredibly devious idea - what if we made it look like some bigshot was involved in the crash and that its all being covered up? People will focus all their energy on righting the wrong. Nobody will bother about what actually happened.

They managed to find a bigshot scapegoat incredibly fast. He was a driver for one of their subsidiary companies. Serves him right. These rich bullies, I tell you. They need to be taught that the entire world cannot be bribed into condoning their offences.

Somehow when I woke up the next morning, my head was hurting and my brain had taken a vacation. I didn't feel like Games Bond anymore. Who the hell is Games Bond anyway? I called my butler and told him to get the chopper ready on the helipad. A walk in the refinery will do me good. I love the smell of polyester in the morning.

So you have trouble believing this story. Ah well, what is truth if not an overrated figment of the imagination?

Friday, May 17, 2013


The cuts aren't enough
Slash it harder, deeper
Splash it, splash it all over
Paint your world, go on
Ride the crimson waves
And fill your buckets
Drink it, force it down
Feel the intoxication
Lick your lips & smile
Feel the milk of human cruelty

Thursday, March 28, 2013

BRICS Bank: World Bank Killer Or Has-Been MFI?

It has been reported in the media that the BRICS group of nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has decided to establish "a New Development Bank for mobilising resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development"

This would, to my mind, be the first instance of an investor catchphrase becoming a multilateral finance institution. Jim O'Neill, currently the retiring chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, is widely credited with coining the term BRIC to describe the then-emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India & China, which were to go on to become global economic powerhouses.

The term has since been used and abused by many (One can almost imagine a Miss BRICS beauty pageant sometime in the near future)

However, it has managed to evolve beyond a mere acronym into a formal bloc, united not by geographical considerations or by ideologies or commonality of natural resources, but by the premise of future economic power.

In this context, the statement by the BRICS leaders on the proposed Development Bank seems to have its heart in the right place but the intentions are unclear and the details are missing.

As to intentions, one might argue, for example, that the BRICS Bank can be a tool for increasing the geopolitical sphere of influence of the BRICS countries as a counterbalance to that of the Western economies (and even relatively smaller but important blocs such as OPEC). But in that case, what is the incentive for the BRICS countries to lend to developing countries through the BRICS mechanism when they can do so directly? This has been happening in any case, with China in the lead. Much of Africa, Latin America and Europe now depends on China for its funding needs. In exchange, China gets the natural resources, trade and projects it needs to sustain its gargantuan economy.

Secondly, why should the BRICS lend to other countries, when there are huge financing gaps in their own countries? The problems in financial intermediation and access in almost all the BRICS countries are well-known and well-documented. India would stand to benefit far more, for example, with reforms in infrastructure financing than it would with a BRICS bank.

Thus, given the constraints, one should not read too much into the proposed BRICS Bank. While it may rise a notch above mere rhetoric and become a functioning institution, the commitment & incentives of the member countries to its sustenance will remain sketchy and suspect, leaving it at risk of becoming another has-been in the multilateral financial institution space.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Cry, cry, cry for me
I need your tears
I need them so much
Bleed, bleed, bleed for me
I need your pain
I need it so much
Scream, scream, scream for me
I need your anger
I need it so much
Feel, feel, feel for me
I need your touch
I need it so much...

Monday, February 18, 2013


I lie down and shudder
The lewd caress chills my heart
Are you saving the world from me
Or saving me from the world?

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Refuge in darkness
Comfort in black
I seek not to see
I seek to understand
I have no fear of falsehood
I have no truth to find
I am transient solace
I am the ephemeral blind...