Thursday, December 11, 2008


A race for survival?

In the current 'gloom and doom' economic climate it is certainly not hard to predict the fact that revenue flowing in from sponsorship and advertising deals into sports and sporting events would reduce to a trickle. Sports, it appears, would inadvertently be a casualty of the recession (or should I be using the term depression?). However, the problems that could plague Formula One in a prolonged recession certainly set it apart from the fortunes of other global sports.

Recently Honda decided to pull out of F1, to concentrate on its 'core business' i.e. that of manufacturing cars. Speculation now surrounds the possibility of Toyota biding goodbye to F1. A recent article which appeared in the Financial Times draws attention to the fact that after Honda, Toyota has spent more than any other car manufacturer on F1, close to £700 million over the past five years. In difficult economic times, when cutting costs is the norm and with company results scrutinised thoroughly by analysts and shareholders alike, it would appear logical to do away with the glamour of racing for a while.

The survival of teams with billionaires at their helm is being called into question too. Billionaires have seen huge amounts of their fortunes being wiped off in the bearish market and if their other businesses(Airlines for instance in Vijay Mallya's case) take a pounding or two in the recession, then continuing in F1 would be the last thing on their mind.

The aforementioned article in FT is centered primarily on the payment behaviour of the teams in F1. Astonishingly only 2 of the 10 teams pay their invoices by the due date and teams such as Force India pay 99% of its invoices nearly 75 days late! Throwing in the current economic factors into this equation as a well, its not hard to guess that the delays in payment are surely going to worsen and would call into question the credit worthiness of most teams. All in all, it certainly seems to be tough times ahead for F1.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008


Who failed Mumbai?

Of course its incompetent politicians did. Managing an ethnically and economically diverse city with a population upwards of 13 million is no joke, yet sadly it was jokers who were at the helm of affairs when tragedy struck.

Starting with the Chief Minister of the state - this gentleman claims he had received intelligence reports about a possible terror strike but could not do much in terms of preemptive action as the report did not detail any specifics. Boy, doesn't he sound really clever! It's like flunking miserably in an exam and trying to seem intelligent at the end of it by stating proudly that at the very least you could identify the questions posed. To top it up of course was his grand tour of the Taj Palace Hotel accompanied by his film star son and a movie director that convinced people of his seriousness to act and do making a Bollywood movie out of it.

The Deputy Chief Minister followed up with an even more audacious statement that 'small incidents' like these do happen in big cities. I really wonder what would classify as a big incident in his lexicon, perhaps a nuclear strike on the city? Nah, even such a doomsday scenario may not be not 'big' enough according to him. Maybe if his kith and kin were trapped along with other hostages? or perhaps a stray terrorist bullet hit one of his security cars or something like that, possibly then we are talking about a very serious threat to the city.

The Mayor - yes, the city of Mumbai has a Mayor, did not make any stunning statements, but I wonder what she knows about leadership and leading from the front in times of crisis. In her one and half years' in office, she has made 5 foreign trips, including one to New York. Wonder what she has learnt (if anything at all) about governance and leadership from her foreign counterparts. I checked Wikipedia (its not the absolute source of info, but a good starting point) to find some info about her, only to find that the pinnacle of her achievement was that 'she ruled that all state government documents must be printed only in Marathi, not Hindi or English'. Yet again an abject display of Indian politicians turning out to be self proclaimed protectors of language and culture as opposed to being protectors of the very people who voted them in.

Of course no talk about politics in Mumbai is complete without a mention of a certain Uncle-Nephew combo who are self proclaimed protectors of local culture. They would go any lengths for their cause (if it can be categorised as one) such as conducting daring raids on unarmed, innocent and hapless civilians who dare enter 'their' city. Of course there was no news of them or their goons when the 'real' outsiders entered Mumbai. By the way, going by their classification of people, the NSG would have consisted of many 'outsiders' too, I won't be surprised if Uncle and nephew are offended by that fact.

I really wonder what role the politician has to play in the Indian society. This shameless 'cartel' does not care to protect the masses or alleviate their living conditions, but instead talks about protecting 'culture', 'language' etc. It reeks of arrogance and stupidity. Language, culture etc. are too huge for one person or party to claim to protect, history of hundreds and thousands of years eventually charters its course. On the contrary protecting a human life and improving living conditions are well within the power of politicians, but sadly they choose to remain oblivious to reality.

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