A White Diwali!

We’ve all heard of it snowing on Christmas, but no one could ever have imagined that we’d have a White Diwali in London this year!

Despite the unusually cold and snowy evening, we’ve had a fantastic few weeks in the run up to the big day. We’ve seen celebrations all over the world. In London, Trafalgar Square was overflowing with people wanting to experience Diwali, temples were packed to the rafters, community halls hosted Diwali parties, and the shops did brisk business, which was a welcome relief in these times.

In India, Diwali is a huge deal. I don’t often state the obvious but unless you visit India during this period, you’ll simply not be able to realise the scale of the festival. India comes to a standstill for five days. Think of Christmas in the West and multiply it 100 times.

Apart from celebrating the return of the Hindu God – Rama to the city of Ayodhya after a period of 14 years in exile in which he defeats the ten headed demon Ravana to recapture his wife – Sita, we also celebrate and worship the Goddess of wealth and prosperity – Lakshmi.

On this day, members of the business community close their previous year’s books of accounts and open the New Year’s accounts by performing a ceremony to worship Goddess Lakshmi, to ask for her blessings for good profits in the forthcoming year.

Those interesed in learning about Indian culture are advised to pick up a copy of the Ramayana or Mahabharata, in which the tales of Hinduism’s two most worshiped incarnations of God are recorded. There are many good versions in English that can be bought on the net.

As is customary during festivals and celebrations, I’ve eaten far too much in the past few days and now need to schedule an extra couple of shifts at the gym!

Happy Diwali and New Year.

American Jobs for American People

The British Government’s commitment to engaging with India can only be described as deep and meaningful. Whether we’re discussing the thorny issue of immigration, collaboration between educational institutions, strategy on counter-terrorism, right through to to the relationship with the Indian diaspora in Britain.

However, its the cool commercialism that hits the headlines on an increasingly frequent basis. With the acquisition of major brands by India’s firms, its no surprise that the day after the government reshuffle, the Department for Business fielded a senior Minister to meet with leading Indian investors in Britain.

At the dinner, Pat McFadden’s grasp of the detail was impressive. He spoke openly and was genuinely interested in learning the challenges that these businesses have in the UK. He seemed committed to providing a fair and transparent environment for businesses to flourish.

Given that our economy is under severe pressure and one in which even the PM suggested was headed for recession, I’m surprised that in the US they’re  making a bad situation even worse by rejecting the benefits of globalisation. Don’t get me wrong, I like Obama and want to see him in the Oval Office, but on this issue, I’m with McCain.

For me, I struggle to understand how the American’s have succeeded for so long, when at every big moment they start making statements like: ‘American jobs for American people’. It seems that interdependence is simply not in the cultural DNA of the US and is a clear example of how the cultural makeup of a country is directly linked to its success or failure.

Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan beat India in business reforms!

The World Bank publishes an annual report titled ‘The Doing Business Report’ in which they draw attention to various findings abour business and regulatory reform across the world. I thought it quite interesting to point out that India’s neighbours beat her in the sphere of reducing red tape.

Given the awful state of Pakistan, the transition of Nepal’s monarch state to a Maoist lead democracy, and the ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka, it would have been safe to assume that India would fare well against them in these rankings given her economic prowess.

For a country, whose global popularity was much enhanced by the abilities of its leading IT firms, you’d have thought that India would try to innovate and use technology to a much greater extent. We are, also, often  told of the huge reduction of red tape and the decline of India’s license raj, but, if this was the case, then why is India languishing in 122nd place in this global index?