Skip to main content

Notes from Melbourne Uni

Taking a break from my weepy posts, here’s some gossip.

The University of Melbourne’s Australia India Institute seems slush with funds at a time when there is global shrinkage on spending. I have no reasons to complain. Attending a two-day seminar, I got free lunch, a notebook, a pen drive, water bottle, bag, mint in a nice case with the AII emblem on it, and endless rounds to tea and good coffee. I also met a familiar face -  Siddarth Vadarajan, who was at the Times of India way back in 2001. Today, as editor of the Hindu, he has been feted and put up at the Langham along with all the other invitee speakers for the three-day Argumentative Indian seminar. Meeting him was good, brought back memories of ITO.

I keep attending seminars after seminars and come back home with information overload as people come with tomes of paper to be read by the audience at least. I am a no different person after the seminar, the knowledge does not inspire me to change the world but what overstays in the memory are good orators. Take Deepak Saxena, managing director, Riverina Oils & Bio Energy (ROBE). At a session on economics, resources and trade relationship, he spoke in a way that layman like me could understand. Of course, I happened to attend that session by chance as I was waiting for the special address by India’s provocative cop Kiran Bedi. 

Saxena made me realise what a good speaker can do especially in contrast to the other three supposedly big corporate guys who had their laptops for data and figures and piece of prose from which they never left their eyes. Everything I hated in a class at school – maths and teachers who read out from textbooks. Saxena dwelt on resources and he began his speech by saying he did his own research on the subject by talking to the man on the street, business people, family and friends. He asked what resources meant to them. They said minerals or mining. Of course, this is Australia so nobody said ‘food or agriculture’. But Saxena had a revelation. In the next twenty years, Australia’s big issue is going to be food. For a moment, I thought he had his info mixed up with Sudan or Ethopia. 

His argument was that: Australia is not making good use of its resources for the long term. We import most of our stuff here including soya milk. A small country like Switzerland has promoted brand Nestle worldwide. Even New Zealand, smaller than Australia, has built its trademark in the white wine Sauvignon Blanc. It is not that Australian does not have the wherewithal. It is because business in this country is process driven, system driven but not outcome driven, said Saxena. It takes five years to set up a project and get it running in Australia but it takes one year in India or China. In other words, it does not have an investment friendly climate, hence few foreign direct investments. And that is case of worry in the agriculture sector because farms in Australia are spread far out, the average age of a farmer is 56 and there is very little human resources. I was enlightened. God forbid I live that long but I don’t want to be drinking genetically modified soya milk after 20-30 years. 

I liked Saxena’s talk. It was simple and relevant. The other three speakers spoke and spoke on Indian businesses - pharma, IT, jems & jewellery etc etc, from probably papers that are lying in the dust of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) office in Delhi. Wonder why speakers do not stick to a topic and air their original views when invited at a forum attended mostly by university students who have read all that shit or will probably read it soon.  

Kiran Bedi came on stage next and was busy promoting her book too. Will blog on her tomorrow as I have to go for another session today on Media Revolution – Myths and Realities. I am a little sad they did not invite Barkha Dutt as a speaker because in this cold weather I would have loved some theatricals from her.


Simply Curious said…
Love to hear you tearing them with your brand of "charm" :D

Popular posts from this blog

A Mad Man Or A Boor

What does one do when one encounters a mad dog? Or what does one do when one encounters a man with pre-fixed notions about everything in life, most specifically of women who live alone and give him some importance? The two are equivalent to me and basic intelligence says avoid the paths they tread like plague. But I chose to tackle them head on. I almost got rabbies.

The mad man said [sic] "You sound like a very desperate person. A single and frustrated woman who is looking for anyone to leave a comment on your blog so much so that you wouldn't even spare a spammer." Spammer being, the first comment on the previous post is apparently a spam, an advert for T-shirts. Bummer! I thought it was a handsome Spaniard or Latino, so I had replied "Hi Rodrigo", hoping to take the conversation forward offline. Anyway! All this the mad man found out. I didnt. Sure, I dig comments because I love the spontaneity and intelligence of my friends. And I didn't invite the mad m…


Two million people at the National Mall in Washington alone. The world watched too as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. So did I. I rudely cut roomie's soap operas and switched to CNN to witness history being created. Some day I may live to tell the tale of how Barack, the much touted Afro-American President of the United States, stumbled with his swearing-in oath.

I was a bit disappointed as I watched the man who had run the most successful of election campaigns, the man who Americans were pinning their hopes on, take his oath. Clearly, he was under too much of a pressure to be the best. So before Chief Justice John Roberts could complete the first sentence, there was Obama abruptly breaking out into his first names... "I Barack Hussein Obama.." and then waited for the judge to complete the sentence.. The next line was even taxing. He stopped short after two words... "That I will excute..." and then Justice Roberts continued…

The Churn

11 am: There I was bang on time at work, perhaps, in a long time. The occasion: a meeting called by the top boss and compulsory attendance required. I am, as always, out of the loop. Reason being there is always so much happening in my life that I am always behind everything. That does not mean I fail to deliver! And unlike some people who are truly into perception management (will delve on it later) and are such repository for all 'inside news', office gossip and politics least interest me. I mean, who cares if someone is quitting for some place else or is having an affair with so and so, or is being transferred unless that person happens to be someone I am generally fond of. Maybe then I would have been privy to some of the classified information ahem... So, was I in for shock today?

The meeting was sombre and had a full house attendance. And then our top boss spilled the beans. Three of the men at the helm were either quitting or were assuming other responsibilities and a ne…