Allama Iqbal Remembered

Allama Iqbal - Shair-e-Mashriq

Allama Iqbal - Shair-e-Mashriq

I have always been captivated by the electrifying and often highly passionate poetry of Dr. Allama  Mohammad Iqbal. Considered one of the greatest minds of early 20th century, Shair-e-Mashriq’s (Poet of the East) poetry and philosophy has had a deep impact on the thoughts and minds of millions across the whole of South Asia.

I remember my first impression of him was reciting poetry of  wonderful stories with a high moral content during my grade school. Poems like Ek Pahar aur Gulehri, Bulbul aur Jugnu. And others like Lub pe aatee hay dua and ofcourse, every Indian kid reciting, Saray jahan se acha, hindustan hamara among thousands of his greatest. Yes, arguably the greatest poet of Urdu Language, who dreamed up the idea for separate homeland for Muslim India, wrote many poems directed towards children.

Perhaps the greatest contribution that Iqbal ever did was talk about “Khudi” the “individualism” among the youth of India. He wanted them to rise above the rest and take the destiny into their own hands. He was probably one of the earliest poets of Urdu language to use “Poetry for a purpose” or “maqsadi shairee”. A trend started in late 19th century by Moulana Hali, Iqbal took it to its zenith during the struggle for independence for Indians which finally culminated with the freedom from the British raj in 1947 with the creation of India and Pakistan (nine years after his death).

He also passionately advocated to Muslims around the world (almost half of his poetry is in Persian and the rest in Urdu) to not get bogged down with the disaster of the Great War (where the Ottoman territories was broken up by the colonial powers of Britain and France among themselves) and the dismantling of their homeland at the hands of colonial powers. But resist and struggle on.

Here is a great stanza from his “Jawab-e-Shiva” poem where he urges, as if the God is speaking to His followers, the Muslim youth to stand up and struggle on and not get bogged down and give up. It is so true even today while the Muslim world struggles to cope with Talibanism on one hand and ruthless and sometimes pointless War on Terror waged by America.

Stanza from Jawab-e-Shikva

Stanza from Jawab-e-Shikva

Today, April 21, 2009, the fans of Allama Iqbal quietly celebrated his 71st death anniversary.


IPL – A beginning of an end

IPL League

IPL League

For the past many years, BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India) has used strong arm tactics to dictate its terms and vision to the rest of the cricket playing nations. There have been lots of complaints from organizers, respective cricket boards and even the die-hard fans. But ICC (International Cricket Council) has done nothing to control the growing, at times, abusive power of the BCCI.

BCCI’s latest venture, IPL (Indian Premier League) is just another attempt by which the world of cricket is kept hostage to the Indian Board’s whims. The idea of a premier league was originally borrowed from ICL (Indian Cricket League) which the BCCI banned for no apparent reason. ICL, led by former Indian Captain and legend Kapil Dev, has been clamoring for recognition from BCCI as well as ICC, but to no avail. ICC keeps referring them back to BCCI which in turn keeps refusing them audience.

IPL Cheer Leaders

IPL Cheer Leaders

It is no co-incidence that IPL has copied many elements from the hugely successful ICL, including foreign players mixed in with Indian greats. There is also a requirement to play a few juniors in each team. There are even cheer leaders with each team  to get fans into a frenzy, not unlike the cheerleaders in America’s NBA or NFL. These and other innovations to the game have been blatantly copied by IPL from ICL. The reward for ICL so far has been, that it has not been recognized at any level. And all  stars who play in the league get an automatic suspension from representing at the international level for their respective home countries. Hence, cricket greats like, Abdul Razzaq (Pak), Brian Lara (West Indies), Shane Bond (New Zealand), Damien Martin (Australia) have been outrightly banned from national duties.

Quite recently, their under arm tactics have lost them many fans even in Pakistan. Their recent one-sided decision to drop all Pakistanis from their league is another blatant attempt to show their hegemony over the sport. Players like Sohail Tanveer (highest wicket taker in the inaugural tournament), Shoaib Akhtar (the media show man and a crowd puller), Shahid Afridi (The fans favorite) are left in the cold while the next edition of the tournament gets underway this weekend in South Africa. In fact, even the Pakistani umpires (who actually represent ICC and not their respective countries) have been dropped without any logical reason.

The players from Pakistan are beginning to get together to sue the league for damages as the league owes them close to 4 million dollars and according to the contract they cannot take one sided decision.

And oh, the world media is also boycotting this year’s IPL in South Africa as the terms and conditions enforced by the BCCI are considered unsuitable for open and impartial journalism. Therefore, this year’s event will not be covered by the media as a whole.

This ugly situation by BCCI is enough to get any fan to turn away. Already, there is a huge disappointment in Pakistan (one of the world’s most cricket crazy nation) and chances are the TV viewership will plummet drastically as a whole in South Asia.

There are some growing concerns among the fans of cricket as well. We wonder who actually manages cricket? Is it BCCI or ICC? Why is ICC letting BCCI dictate its terms? Just because BCCI can throw a few dollars here and there, should we actually forget our morals and ethics to appease them? Would such tactics bring in more fans or will just turn them away?

I for one see it as the beginning of an end. Such tactics and many others will only result in fans turning away to other sports. BCCI should heed to the cliché, what goes around, comes around. The dangerous game that they are playing will one day come to bite them and bite hard it will!

>To Raise or not to Raise

>To Raise or not to Raise

This is a question that every startup asks itself when it is about to take off. There are enterprises out there that have never needed to raise any money and have done just fine for decades and grew into a respectable enterprise. While others, have raised quite a bit and used it wisely to grow tremendously. Yet others have perished due to lack of financial resources when in times of need or remained a small enterprise for decades as their finances never allowed them to grow to their true potential.

The question remains, To raise cash or not to raise.

Let’s look at the landscape of tech companies. Some of the biggest enterprises on the tech scene are those that have had some form of cash infusion at some stage during their growth cycle. Twitter, Facebook, and even Google would not have been what they are today without the money pouring in from Venture Capitalists (VC) and investors. Even the old warriors like Intel, Oracle, Sun Microsystems reached their zenith with timely cash infusions during their growth cycles. Even today’s smaller steller startups like Simply Hired (jobs), Zazzle (print), Allvoices (media), Scrybe (office), and others would not have grown to the level they have today had it not been for some serious cash infusion at the right time.

It is also a verifiable fact that companies need money to grow regardless of their size and financial condition. It is not possible to regularly generate huge amounts of cash and use that reserve to invest back into the company. Surely, some do that, but it is not sustainable nor is it always wise. The extra finances (raised capital) is always good when the economy is shaky and revenues are hard to grow.

Startups usually survive from month to month or quarter to quarter. One bad quarter in a down economy, and you bite the dust. Even in good times, extra cash is always good. Say, the market is demanding your services/product and you need to scale up fast. If you rely on your cash to grow, then the growth will be slow and painful. And a competitor with deep pockets might take advantage of the situation and surpass you.

It is great to remain independent, and it feels great to be your own boss with no one to report to. However, it is hard to remain that way for a very long time. Market changes, economy tumbles, the revenue streams dry up or even a competitor might go for the kill. Either way, independence does not guarantee a long and prosperous life.

Nor does raising funds. But it does reduce the risk of failure and reduces the impact of over zealous competitor, economic turmoils and market fluctuations. And a company that can reduce its risks can definitely survive, grow and become a force to be reckoned with.

So my conclusion is raise funds but do it wisely.

Youtube is uncool to mute music

Youtube - Broadcasting Mute

Youtube - Broadcasting Mute

It is not uncommon to find the following message published under some cool videos on Youtube saying:

This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled. More about copyright

Together with WMG, Youtube is unnecessarily banning music, even on videos which are not for profit and for a good cause. Yet, music label, Warner Music Group, WMG, somehow considers it as “unauthorized” usage. Considering that the quality on Youtube of any music is at best a good mono and really flat, it just not does not make any sense that anyone would use that music for any other purpose (or even play on their portable players).

In short, Youtube is showing signs of being uncool and WMG, well, with such unforgiving tactics wont win many fans like us who love to listen to their music. We would rather move to other labels who “actually” spend time in understanding the needs of their customers.

Youtube for me is a good way to see the creative use of some of that music and if I like any, I can always go and buy a CD or download the mp3 from itunes store. Both of these options, offer a superior quality audio, than what Youtube could offer.

Hence, WMG and Youtube, you are both to me acting really uncool.