How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Manfest - III

Theme panel discussion

The theme of Manfest this year is "India: Global Torchbearers" and there was a panel discussion on this theme. The panel comprised of eminent people: Mr. Ashok Desai, currently consulting editor with The Telegraph, and earlier with Business Standard; Mr. P. Mohammed Ali, eminent NRI (or Pravasi Bharatiya) from Oman; Mr. C. R. Prasad, former Chairman of GAIL; and Ms. Shelby Quast, a visiting professor at IIML in the field of International Law and Business Transactions. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Chetan Sharma of NDTV. The panel discussion on Corporate Social Responsibility last year had set high standards and this year's discussion failed quite miserably to live up to those standards.

The problems were basic: one of the speakers had prepared a speech on India's energy needs and natural gas as the fuel of the century (which was great except that the connection to the topic was not absolutely clear; plus, it was a presentation, and there was no discussion). Another speaker spoke for quite a lot of time without really answering the questions posed by the moderator. After half an hour, the discussion was going nowhere, and I had to take the extreme step of walking out.

Session with Mr. Sunil Handa

We had an interactive session with serial entrepreneur and professor of entrepreneurship at IIMA, Mr. Sunil Handa. The session was totally free-form, as Mr. Handa, after a brief introduction to the course he teaches at IIMA (one of the most popular on campus) and the methodology he adopts (one-to-one interaction, no case studies), settled into a question-and-answer format. The attendees' questions relating to entrepreneurship were answered by Mr. Handa in a typical style which was at once entertaining and inspiring. Mixing Hindi and English freely, Mr. Handa gave his views: why it was not essential (or even desirable) to pursue a job for a few years before starting up one's own venture; how an entrepreneur had to have the ability to cope with failure, move on and identify new opportunities; the importance of negotiation, cost-cutting, and continuous improvement capabilities; the importance of honesty in the long run, etc. It was a relatively short session, so he could not deal in depth with questions like how to identify opportunities; how to select an opportunity from among several alternatives available, etc. On the whole, it erred a bit on the side of exuberance, but then, in a short session and talking in general on the subject, I suppose the job that could best be done was one of inspiration than delving into the nitty-gritties.

Musical performance by KK

The main attraction on the evening of the 21st was a musical performance by the playback singer and artiste KK and his troupe. I like this man's voice. It is fairly versatile, has a good bass, and is able to scale a fair range of pitches. As he performed one song after another, I realized that he now has a sizable number of hit movie songs to his credit. His performance was received quite well by people and it was clear from his face that he was happy with the response he got, although he did seem a bit tired near the end.


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