CAT- GD/ PI/ Essays

I have over the years answered hundreds of questions about CAT, GDs, PIs, MBA, Job Interviews, etc. It’s less about cluelessness, and more about people thinking there’s something that could give them an ‘edge’. So, for future reference, since there are no edges to be offered really, here is a blogpost celebrating the greatness of ND Kunjika (Nandlal Dayaram).

There are four types of broad questions.  –

  • Preparing for CAT (I have no clue, I think I should do an MBA stage)
  • GD PI stages (I’ve got a call, yayy, stage)
  • The post-MBA job scenarios (I want day 0 and so, I want Investment Banking stage)
  • The MBA job interviews (I want to do consulting because I am a good problem solver stage)

The flavor of the season is GD/PI / Essays. And hence, the how-t0 for that.  Add your own points, and make it better.

  • Assess yourself. Don’t be ashamed of saying that your vocal output sucks. Or, that you are prone to making grammatical mistakes while speaking. Or that you have a squeaky voice. Unless you are ready to jot down your weakness on a piece of paper, chances are that you won’t spend time fixing them.
    • Summary assessment even as an alumni interviewer for PGP admissions – most of the aspirants have no clue how bad they are.
    • I realized very late in my preparations that whenever I was unsure, my voice became a barely audible mumble (while inside my head, I was still being pretty loud).
  • Write a detailed resume. A detailed resume is difficult to write. It means going back to all your activities and achievements. Don’t discount one thing.
    • A nice bullet point on a resume that I saw – worked in stage plays as a child artist. Deeper probing several months later revealed that it was only in a homogenous township based group. Not falsification, but projection. And if you don’t value what you might have learnt from it, don’t expect others to.
    • Write your autobiography. This is expanding your resume. Not as a bestseller. But as a way of remembering what you’ve done and what it has meant for you over the years. Resume is a set of bullet points you draw from during your interviews. Autobiography is the conversation you want to have. Chances are that it may not mean much to be an IITian. But if you are the only IITian from that tiny town of yours where there are three schools and no IIT Coaching Centers, then it’s a mighty achievement.
    • A mistake of mine – during my IIM-A interview, we talked for 45 minutes about poetry, which was my primary hobby at that time. I was happy talking about Ghalib, Meer and Qateel Shifai, but I stuttered badly when they asked me to recite a few of my own. Reason – I wasn’t prepared to do so. I spent a minute too many to pick one and the next. And I was always thinking about whether I had picked the right one. Even though, I had written writing as a hobby of mine. IIM-A was the only college I didn’t get an admit from. Because of that? I would never know, but I know I didn’t do well enough.
  • Form a group. The group should allow two things in a mutually beneficial way –
    • One on one sessions. Have someone hear your answers out. Have someone conduct mock interviews for you.
    • Group sessions. Have a watcher, and the rest as participants into discussions. Let the watcher critique. Let the participants debate.
  • Find a mentor/ teacher. Be clear on a few things –
    • How much time would you need to work on your weaknesses?
    • Those who are good, will typically be more expensive. Or, like family. Others don’t have time.
    • Do you want the mentor to be a be-all-end-all person, or a mentor for a very specific thing on your agenda. For instance, you can work with a theater artist to work on your voice modulation, but they can’t help you with content practicing.
  • Practice talking. Doesn’t matter if you have been shy all your life. Doesn’t matter if your English is not that great. Doesn’t matter if you don’t have much to say.
    • Stand in front of a mirror and talk. Get comfortable with your own face. Do not fall in love with your face. If you’re not comfortable with your own face, chances are that the interviewer isn’t either.
    • Record and playback. Most smartphones allow this. You can even video-record. If you are not comfortable with hearing your blabber, chances are that the interviewer isn’t either. At the same time, this is not bathroom singing. Everyone sounds great as a bathroom singer. But make them listen to that recording and they are devastated.
    • Practice voice modulation. Amitabh Bachchan is a great example. Its years of practice alright, but you have to start your own sometime. Loud is different from modulation. You need to be audibly loud as well. Don’t lose sight of that as you add a bit of melodrama to your voice.
  • Read, and jot down notes. Always helps. In articulating. In noticing the flaws of arguments.
    • Read a lot. In a wide variety. One of my questions during my XAT was a 10 question RC passage. It was a lift from Catch-22. And I had to fill in the blanks. Easy? Impossible? If you’ve read the book, it’s a breeze.
    • Know the context, know the names.
    • Read the backstories.
    • A friend of mine had this Wikipedia habit, which I tried to imbibe over the years. He clicked on embedded links a lot when reading articles. Gave him knowledge much deeper than a cursory reading of the topic. If you keep notes, maybe you will have to sell ten filled notebooks at the end of this month, but it will still be worth it.
    • Reconstruct stories from notes.
  • Respect other people/things.
    • The people you will talk to in a GD will have names and personalities. On an average, in a GD, its extremely unlikely that there will be more than 2 or 3 well prepared students. But that does not make the rest of the crew any less respectable.
    • During the interview, the person in front of you is looking to have an interesting conversation. Don’t bore them.
    • Always make eye contact. If while referring to someone’s earlier arguments you make eye contact with them, they are less prone to interrupting, and more likely to rallying back to you later on.
  • 15 rounds of firing
    • Malcom Gladwell wrote about the 10000 hour rule. To be really great at something, you must have done it for 10000 hours. So, Michael Jordan must have played 10000 hours of basketball before he became so good. The same rule applies to essays. Not 10000 hours. But I call it 15 rounds of firing. You need to have your own ~15 attempts at writing the answers to the typical essay questions. The list of questions for every college is most likely available online already. But even if you’ve done 5-10 awesome colleges, chances are that you are practiced sufficiently. After about 15 rounds, you are a lot clearer on your thinking about what your personality is, what your strengths and weaknesses are.
    • Critical review. Have your mentor critique it. Have your mentor suggest improvements. Clean. Rinse. Repeat. Keep doing it. 3 more times after you’ve had enough. It will hold you good for the rest of your corporate life as well.
    • Get a group of friends and independent reviewers to look at it. But don’t take everyone’s suggestion. Ask them not just about the negatives. Ask them about the positives too. Negatives generally tend to be inconsistent. But the positives “need” to be consistent.

I realize that there isn’t usually enough time. But then, if you don’t get it right, you will have to wait for another 12 months, right? And this regime does not require more than 3 hours a day for 30 days to get into a momentum.



I had written this one for the Caferati readmeet which I could not go for due to some last minute thing that came up. So, I think I should post it here. The theme for this readmeet was going to be renewal


It was the June of 2004, I think. We were having a chat at the Barista. The one on MG Road in Bangalore. It wasn’t a singularly profound conversation. We were discussing music from the era where Mohd. Rafi was at the peak of his prowess. His flawless voice, and the smooth turns his  voice could take from one song to another and within a particular composition, and that surge of emotion that only he could handle at those high notes. We both loved him. The world might be divided on whether Kishore Kumar was better than Mohammad Rafi, but at the least, the world is not divided on the greatness of Rafi. The discussion started with the song that was playing  in the background – mujhe dard-e-dil ka pata na tha (I knew not of the pain of love, why did you come into my life), mujhe aap kis liye mil gaye! We discussed many more, our favorites, the poetry, the rendition, the love and the tears. And we realized the common favorites in the process. “Aap ke haseen rukh pe aaj naya noor hai, mera dil machal gaya to mera kya kasoor hai”. A new light shines on your beautiful face, how am I at a fault, if my heart did a double take!

And yet, here, today, in 2012, as the end of world is near, we bump into each other. This time, in a crowded mall. R City Mall, it’s known as. Had we been in touch? I wonder. I know all about your vacations, and your son, and the work that’s made you travel from here to there, and the friends you’ve met. I also know about the Thai place where you were dining last week. And I am sure you are clued in about me as well. Though, I haven’t met you in these 8 years. There were those couple of conversations that we had. Yes. But what did we talk about? Guess some congratulations and some work. Do you remember what it was? I don’t. And my guess is the same as yours. That it must have been something really… really important.

We talk about a lot of things. And we talk about the noisy mall. And that we should meet again. At a quieter place. Because there’s much to catch up on. Much beyond the frivolously inane facebook, twitter and foursquare updates. Because we, as individuals, are still the same. It takes a while for us to talk about the real updates from our lives.

It’s at a mall that I visit almost every week. And so do you. And yet we have missed each other almost every time. Except this one. You know what I loved the most – the way the conversation started – “aap ke haseen rukh pe aaj naya noor hai!, we had said almost in a chorus.


Someone I met the other day shared a factoid with me – The median number of friends in the pre-facebook era was 4. In the post-facebook era, it’s “0 (zero)”.
There is a little something about Mumbai that you never take time out to appreciate.  You “bump “into your friends invariably at Phoenix Mills, NCPA, R-City Mall, Leopold, Bandstand, etc. The city localizes everything in small pockets, and has these nerve centers for everything. And in this process, this city increases the odds of your bumping into someone. Despite the city being so huge.

Your friends. An accident. A serendipity.


IQR 2013 – The Reading Challenge

I have decided to sign up for the IQR reading challenge. Through blogadda, booklovers, etc. I have been getting access to some Indian authors’ work, which I might have skipped earlier. Despite my initial complaints, the quality and quantity are both improving with each passing day.

So, the target’s going to be,…. well.. I guess about 12 books by Indian authors this year. If I do more, good for the writers 😉

Suggestions and Thoughts for The Justice Verma Committee

Honorable Justice Verma,

The recent events around the widely reported Delhi Gangrape incident have brought to the fore not just the sentiments of an infuriated nations, but also several glaring shortcomings in the way our law and order infrastructure is setup and operating. Amongst the precious few steps taken by the elected government, one was to set up this committee under your guidance and invite recommendations and suggestions from citizens of the civil society towards the amendment of laws. I welcome this meaningful gesture, somewhat late and inadequate as they may be.

While the public notice invited only recommendations around the laws, I have included two sections in this document – the first section includes my recommendations w.r.t. to the laws the way I understand them, and the second section covers certain other recommendations  that I feel would be crucial to avoiding such incidents in the future.

Section 1

  • Need for Special Courts
    • Separate courts for crime against women need to be setup. Again, the classification on whether a particular case needs a fast track action should be driven by the category of the case and not by the gender of the defendant. However, in the case of women, we as a nation need to recognize that the odds are heavily stacked against them – right from their ability to report an incident to their ability to fight for their rights. The number of times they are abused, violated, beaten up, burnt, killed etc and no action is taken is not insignificant.
    • Fast Track Courts for Special Cases-
      • We need to put a definition, and a set of metrics around what we mean by fast track courts. I believe that a fast track court should be defined by cases that should be resolved in less than a month.
      • Independent benchmarking – We need to have real and acceptable benchmarks for measuring the efficiency of these fast track courts. For instance, a one month turnaround on cases of rape and violence is a reasonable fast track performance. The identity of the rapists, the physical and medical examination that allows sufficient evidence to be furnished, the forensic evidence collection, etc. can be easily done in this window. The tracking down of the culprits and booking them could take time. However, an active and intent police machinery will be able to track down the culprits, is my belief. Furthermore, the evaluation metrics for fast track courts should be closely integrated with the evaluation metrics for the entire law and order machinery linked to that case. This would include police and the investigating agencies as well.
    • Escalation Courts: There should be a court where complaints against the government officials handling a particular case can be registered. This could take some cues from the consumer protection forums where cases have been addressed purely on the basis of a letter on a post-card as well. Intent counts. People should be able to write in with the specific date/time/scenario where a government official/ police person, etc. harassed them or did not fulfill his duty in the most professional manner.
  • Stronger and Relevant Punishments – I do not believe that a death penalty always serves the best. However, criminals involved in cases that lead to the death of a defendant or such bodily harm that the defendant is not able to continue with a normal life (like the case being discussed right now), are worthy of no lesser punishment.
    • It is important that the judiciary revisits the several varieties of punishments that are currently codified in the books of law, and ensure that they are harsh and compensatory enough to act as a deterrent. For instance, while a penalty of 1000 rupees for talking on your mobile while driving acts as a deterrent for individuals, the confiscation of the mobile phone may act as a stronger deterrent.
    • In this case, maybe, financial punishments to the tune of 30-40% of a criminal’s existing wealth/possessions/bank balance, etc in addition to 30-40 years of imprisonment with labor (and with no possibility of sentence reduction) might be a form of punishment worth considering.  Chemical castration in case of rape, death in the case of murder, etc. might be punishments that can be evaluated by the judiciary. However, the underlying theme should not be that of revenge (a form that general public opinion might take) but that of a deterrent  for future cases.
    • Enlist experts’ support – I am not so well versed on criminal psychology or criminal law as to be able to suggest the best punishments for corrective action/ future deterrents, but I believe there is a need to enlist a body of experts in such areas. These experts need to come from four different areas – government, judiciary, academia and citizen groups. The debate and the outcome of the same should be available to public.
  • Handling of Traffic Offenses – Impound vehicles, licenses with multiple reports. The frequency and magnitude can be discussed, but the frequency cannot be more than once a month and the overall magnitude cannot be more than 5 mistakes over the lifetime. An impounded license holder or vehicle should not be allowed to operate for an year, at least. A failure to observe so can be immediately considered for imprisonment.
  • Laws about Juvenile Criminals – I think there is a need differentiate between adult franchise and juvenile crimes. A little boy stealing from a store can be called a juvenile crime, but a young lad of 16 years age raping and brutalizing a woman cannot be called a juvenile crime. I believe that when it comes to violence against women (sexual, physical, mental), children (less than 13 years of age), old people (retirees), etc. we should have a strictly low tolerance policy. I believe young ones in the age group of 14-18 need to be treated differently, and for certain case categories, treated with almost the same standards as are used for adults. A 16 year old is sensitive and aware enough to understand men/women differentiation, law and order (through the study of civics as a subject since the age of 10, I think), and societal values. There is no element of accidental mistake in the case under public attention. Moreover, the law should create a provision for special consideration of cases such as these so that the non-adult criminal is not let off without adequate punishment
  • Judiciary should open itself to criticism.
    • On cases that are pending across the nation, can the judiciary, for once, commit to clearing the entire backlog of pending criminal cases over the next 12 months? And hold those accountable who are holding back the process?
    • The judiciary needs to assess its workload. Simple enough cases take years to get decided on. As a civilian I have heard lawyers talk about how extending a case forever ensures more money to them. I have heard stories about underhanded transactions to expedite the course of action. If it is possible, it should be established a process. And these need to be aggressive goals, not passive goals.
    • Work with the bar council and other relevant bodies to act against the lawyers that impede the process of justice.
  • Bring about transparency in judicial processes.
    • The complainant should have complete transparency into the action taken on their complaints, right from the assigned police person, to the different evidences, confessions, interrogations, etc. While certain aspects need to be reviewed critically, I believe that greater transparency will ensure ore action.
    • The mugshots of all apprehended criminals and their details should be available for public with their identities on a central website. Anyone who’s been booked under such offenses should be shamed publicly.
    • Expected Turnaround Time by Case Types
      • Depending on the case type, TATs need to be defined upfront. These expected TATs should be clearly defined. A murder case that takes three years to solve, most likely, has lost most of the core evidence already,
      • The ETAs for the police and the investigation agencies should be clearly mentioned and reported to the public.
      • Under RTI, any reason for delay should be available for further explanation.

Section 2: Other Thoughts and Recommendations.

  • Enable better and easier reporting of crime
    • Every police station should have women officials for responding to complaints from women, registering the FIRs, etc.
    • Setup hotlines for specific complaint categories with dedicated mobile units at the back-end to reach the scene of the crime as quickly as possible.
    • Take the FIR registration system online where an individual can request to register an FIR and provide supporting evidence if any online. Why should the system expect a victim who has been harassed and abused and violated to reach a police station, get harassed again by the policemen and still not be able to report their case.
    • The verification layers should be built in the form of approved identity papers (such as Aadhaar, Passport, etc.) and a mobile number based verification of complaint so that the system is not abused by stray criminals as well.
    • Simplify the process of registering an FIR. We can take cues from the consumer protection forum, which has occasionally taken actions on letters on a post-card even.
  • Financial Support –
    • In such cases of brutal violence against individuals, the state should fund the medical and rehabilitation expenses for the individual. At the highest quality institutes of healthcare. Without requiring media intervention.
    • These numbers should be readily reported to the individuals and a centralized repository where RTI activists, NGOs, etc have access to the information (without requiring a 4 week lag).
  • Policing the police
    • Police stations should be monitored through video surveillance as well. The video records should be made available for any case where the role of the police is suspect.
    • A clearer explanation as to why it took three weeks for the police to file a chargesheet in this case. I believe that this process should be brought down to 24 hours.
    • I believe that amendments to a chargesheet are an allowed process, and hence the murder case could have been brought at a separate point. But the first chargesheet should have been filed much earlier.
  • Independent Reporting and Benchmarking
    • Independent group of bodies for benchmarking the performance of different police stations should be setup.
    • It should include the number of walk-ins to the FIR desk, the number of FIRs registered, the number of cases open vs. closed, the distribution of cases by number of days they’ve been open, or have taken to close, the number of cases that are discarded, the number of cases that were closed due to the lack of evidence, etc. Break them by categories.
    • The Ministry of Home Affairs should step in to evaluate these reports which are published in major dailies across the country for public consumption as well as localdata being published in the city editions of top 10 largest circulating dailies on specific dates in a quarter (to start with).
    • The Ministry of Home Affairs should respond within a week to report on the identified weakness in the system, and the recommended follow-up.
  • Technology enablement
    • Deployment of video surveillance cameras with capability to take high speed photographs of the license plates, process it, and issue challans or raise SOS flags – especially in the more sensitive areas.
    • Centralization of criminal/crime database. While law and order is a state government subject, there are elements that need to be centralized for the better safety of the citizens, and for providing an air of comfort and well being in our country.
    • Put data warehousing, analytics, and reporting systems in place that are capable of aggregating information, analyzing it, and in many cases be able to identify the hotspots of criminal activities, the time of the day when such activities peak, and so on. It is a long process which will become better with time and more information being fed to the system, but we need a starting point.
    • All PCRs, traffic vans, etc. need to be centrally integrated so that the criminal databases are available to all at the scene of investigation itself. One should not be allowed to roam freely in Haryana if they have a murder case pending against them in Gujarat, for instance.
    • Move away from paper-pen challans to electronic challans. This will also ensure better tracking of incidents, culprits over a period of time.
    • We need better integration between telecom providers and police so that an SOS signal/call coming to a hotline number can be immediately tracked to a location for rapid action. We  cannot expect a dying person to always call and report their exact whereabouts and what condition they are in. Strong SOS trackers are a good investment. We need these SOS mechanisms to be advertised heavily through all channels of communication.
  • Police force strength/ staffing –
  • Assessment of staffing levels of police in different coverage areas. Furthermore, compare it to the crime rate (reported) in that area. Build a classification system that identifies the area as safe to high risk. Accordingly, adjust police personnel deployment at the field leave. Increase beat durations, frequency, and number of personnel as required. Let there be no other city to get the dubious distinction of being the rape capital. Let there be no area in the city where the civilians are scared of walking around. It is my country and it is my right to walk around in the city even late in the night without fearing for my life.
  • Geographic areas need to be clearly demarcated for police action. One of the case facts has been the debate between various police stations’ PCR vans about whose jurisdiction area the incident comes under. We lost precious few hours that could have saved the victim.
  • Availability of backup medical and support units if needed. Mobile security units with superceding authority to take action in any area beyond their immediate jurisdiction for swift action.
  • Upgrade the police force – in their ability to use technology, move rapidly, create enablers at short notice to deal with a crime scene. I think that the bus and the criminals in this case could have been tracked and apprehended within the first hour of the incident

The timelines for such initiatives cannot be several years. The technology for several of the above recommendations is already in place globally, and we need to work with international agencies, maybe, to get these deployed in the swiftest possible manner.

A New Year Post

The end of the last year being what it was, hope is one thing we should always hold close. So, with a lot of hope on a lot of things, let’s begin the new year on a positive note. And here are the ten few I hope to revisit at the end of 2013 and say yay!

  • Now that the cooling off period is over, I hope I am able to put some of my thoughts and ideas and plans in action and see them succeed or fail.
  • I hope that in the next three months, I am able to finish the drafts of the two different books that I am working on. One of them is an easier one, but the other one is giving me sleepless moments (on that note, there aren’t too many things that give me sleepless nights)
  • Become better and staying in touch. There was a time (and some of that perception still sticks) when I was expected to be in touch with everyone. With work, and changing (deteriorating) habits, I have not really been staying in touch. I was never a big fan of facebook as a source of knowing what your friends are doing, but have succumbed to its ways over the last few years. So, all you long lost friends from school, college, TCS, Inductis, Diamond – don’t get surprised by that sudden call from an unknown number. One of them could be just me wanting to say hello.
  • Anger Management. From being someone who had 1-2 severe angry moments in an annual cycle, I have improved to 1-2 such cycles every month. Maybe more. Need to watch that. I don’t have any specific reason singled out for the lower patience level these days, so I guess the road ahead will be harder.
  • I hope to take some concrete steps to further my interests in the education/teaching area. The biggest barrier – serious teaching requires a PhD. Education, however, does not as much.
  • This year, I want to pick up the guitar again, and get back to practicing regularly. I don’t think I am going to take the stage again (you are welcome!) but the therapeutic effect of playing an instrument is something that I miss.
  • I want to mentor 2-3 startups this year. Over the years, given the workload, I have always shied away from or taken only peripheral interests in the startups that friends, juniors, team members have invested in. This year, I want to do away with that excuse. And by mentoring, it could mean anything – right from helping review and evaluate the idea, help bridge the network gaps that many early startups face, to, if possible, financially support them.
  • Last year and a half were tough on the personal front in a few ways. I hope that all those problems are over now, and I can continue to be positive about everything. And that takes me to #9
  • I need to seriously start taking care of my health before it completely breaks down. I have had instances of back pain and flares, and the problem from eons back continues to bother anyways. Plus, the bags under the eyes with all the stress, the extra weight and fat that needs to be donated to the almighty. So, much to be careful about, rather than spend a lot of time caring about them later on.
  • Leave the comfort of the armchair and be more active in the community. This is going to be tough. It’s convenient to opine on everything from the comfort of your living room. It’s difficult to stand in the sun and make things happen. A lot of small communities that I was a part of earlier have taken a backseat. Excuse is the same, but I must take the blame. I need to get back in action, in short.

There are about 1543 other things that I want to do, but I guess this list will be a good reality check at the end of the year. Till then, keep reading, supporting, and most importantly, being a friend!

A Very Happy New Year To You. May this new year give you the strength to achieve your dreams, the courage to take the difficult decisions, the tenacity to follow through with them, the joy of giving to others, and the satisfaction of having lived a life of no regrets. May you find inner peace.


Nistabdh khada, nishabd khada
Hai raashtra aaj doraahe par
Ik aag se jalta rasta hai
Ik bujha hua sa murdaghar
Tum haath utha ke mashaal liye
apne dil mein ye sawaal liye
Ma behnon ki gaali kha kar
na koi seedha jawaab diye
is doraahe par aaj ruko
Gar kadam uthe seedha hi uthe
Aane wali peedhi pooche
Keh dena thodi der lagi
Par aaj uthe, hum saath uthe

Ye ajeeb drishya hai
Chal raha manushya hai
Ashru, sved, raqt se
Lathpath lathpath lathpath.
Kya aaj chunoge agneepath?
Agneepath, agneepath, agneepath.

Coaches, Coaching: Passing Observations

Some on-off incidents –

#1 – There is a club in Raheja Vihar, close to my apartment. It has one badminton court. The next badminton court might be at Bombay Scottish. The one after that, likely, is in Hiranandani or Lake Homes. Each of these courts has defined play times for children, ladies, and general. There are hours when its deserted. There are times when you wait for 30 minutes to get a game in. Practice ralleys are not encouraged because it eats into other people’s time. So you talk in terms of 3 practice rallies only. Or 5. I haven’t seen a ‘coach’ here.

#2 – Three kids in the building where we live in Mumbai are playing a little soccer at the podium level. General gully scratching as one would say. One of them was trying to make his free kicks curve in. The second thought he knew how to and was trying to explain him, because his kicks had occasionally curved in. But then, kid#2 could also not do it consistently enough. The third was the goalkeeper. Also, as a second coach. If you heard the conversation, you’d know that they didn’t have a clue. They were experimenting. And learning.

#3 – A month long summer cricket camp in 1994 with a coach who is a nice fellow (a wicketkeeper batsman in the MECON team, also the second wicketkeeper of Bihar team)– Jitendra Singh. Jitendra bhaiya would tell us about the need for warm up, running, stretching etc. before you get to the actual game session. The game sessions were of two types. The typical nets where someone would bat and a set of bowlers would bowl. Or, split the lot into two teams and let them play a match against each other. As the play progressed, he would occasionally tell you what’s wrong with a particular delivery or shot. And so we tried to learn. In that period, I was experimenting with the bowling actions of Arshad Ayub, Saqlain Mushtaq, Anil Kumble, John Emburey, and a whole bunch of others before getting to a hybrid which was a cross between Warne and Kumble. I was a budding off-spinner. Maybe he noticed. Maybe he didn’t. He was happy that my deliveries were landing in the right areas. But he never talked about the loop, the trajectory, the rotations and the angle at which the ball should/ could land. Or the use of crease. Or the importance of pitches. In the same coaching camp, I don’t remember telling him much to the keeper either. That wicketkeeper, you’d remember from a few years back, wasn’t the nicest sight behind the stumps when he started for India, even though he used to be quite explosive as a batsman.

#4 – Last year, I was at my sister’s place. October sometime. One of those evenings, I took my nephew to his basketball class. He was 11 years old then. It was a 60 minute session. For the first 50 minutes, the coach conducted several 4-5 minute capsules covering the basics. How to move, how the knee bends should be, the second counting counting, the shoot, the dribbles, the hold, the release, offense movement, defense movements, decoys, etc. Small capsules of theory and practice. The kids were facing the coach and copying the basics. Next 5 minutes, he let the kids play in two teams. And for the last 5 minutes he let the kids do whatever they wanted to. Let them be kids, as they say.
Random conversations with several people since then suggest that at schools in US, the coach is the highest paid teacher.

#5 – I am reading Rafael Nadal’s book – Rafa. And one thing that stands about that ginromously successful and talented player is the excruciatingly painful training he has subjected himself to. All the hardwork he’s put into getting to that place. Somewhere in Sachin Tendulkar’s story is a similar lesson. Though, it was his brother Ajit who used to drive him from one stadium to another to another. And in both their stories, you have coaches who had a significant impact, more so in Rafa’s case than Sachin’s case.


Notice anything? The general indication is that we as a nation are heavily dependent on talent. Not coaching, grooming or hardwork. Many with talent rarely get a chance to be near a coach. Even rarer is a coach takes interest. And rarest, a coach who is good.

The methods are absent because they are not considered important. The infrastructure is missing, because the administrators have other priorities. More often, how to be rich in 3 years and save for my coming generations in the next few. Like all things educational, our focus on the educators is abysmal. Teachers get paid less than daily wage laborers in primary school, and we expect them to lay a strong foundation (Rs. 5000 per month or so). A professor in a management school earns a monthly salary which a graduating MBA finds insulting. And coaches, more often than not, are an afterthought.

But how long will it be before we see a need for good teachers and coaches?

We know about Acharekar’s success as a coach. We have seen how Gopichand’s academy is grooming more and more world class badminton players. I believe that Bhupathi’s academy will give us some more world class tennis players. Albert Ekka Hockey Academy in Ranchi helps groom hockey players in the region with great consistency. Mary Kom is keen on a good boxing academy. Music, over the years, has maintained the culture of gharanas, and Rahman kind of people are investing in the KM Music Conservatory. We’ve seen Kirsten be a great coach to the Indian team. And historically as well, Ajit Wadekar, Chappell, etc. have played that role with varying levels of success. It will be interesting to see if a Dravid, Laxman, Kumble, Ganguly or Tendulkar take the route of coaching youngsters. Or, will most of them end up in the commentary boxes.

My hypotheses – it will probably be a 10-15 year long cycle where good players who retire from international or first class sports will take the opportunity to open academies, groom youngsters, bring best practices from around the globe, and get the backing of business houses who understand that there is money in creating a culture too, and not just encashing a fleeting sentiment. And then, we will have competent bench strength. And somewhere, enough adulation, money and competitive pressure to keep everyone going. I don’t think it’s going to work unless the economics is favorable.

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