Friday, March 21, 2014

India v Pakistan - Cricket Analytics!

As a very big fan of cricket, I am also deeply interested in the statistics that underpin game. For every aspect of cricket, you can be sure that there is a statistic for it. Balls faced? Check. Balls bowled? Check. Catches taken? Check. Singles taken? Check...and so on. However, today, I wanted to find out a different statistic. And it was all to do with the upcoming game between India and Pakistan. India v Pakistan as a contest has almost no parallels with any other country v country contest in any other sport barring football/soccer games between the Easter Europe nations. The two countries have fought 3 wars, and still remain wary of each other. A mix of history, politics, skill and temperament by both teams means that there is no contest between these two nations that is without drama, excitement action and on top of it all, some amazing cricket. The genesis for this piece of "cricket analytics" started oh-so-innocently, with a colleague of mine telling me "Prasanna, I don't think India will win tomorrow". When I pressed further for the reason why, assuming it might have been on the cricketing skill of India, the answer I got was "Tomorrow's friday, the day of 'jumma'". 'Jumma' according to Wikipedia is the traditional Friday prayer for Muslims. Pakistan's official title is "the Islamic Republic of Pakistan". I fondly remember 'Jumma' from the superhit song "Jumma Chumma De De" from the movie Hum. Nevertheless, I concurred that it would be rather hard for India. I did recall the fact (or so I thought) that India v Pakistan games on a Friday, had always ended in a Pakistan victory. However, we did not rest there. For every 'cricketing fact' there is always a way to determine its veracity. The "bible" for cricketing statistics, is the ESPN Cricinfo StatsGuru. Armed with this website, as well as having time to kill, we proceeded on the following: We first found out the number of ODIs played between India and Pakistan, sorted by the date on which these ODIs played. India and Pakistan, have played 126 ODIs, of which 122 have had a result with India winning just under 41% of matches. How many have occured on each of the days of the week? Well the answer is below:

WinsLossN/R% Wins% Loss% N/R

However, this includes all World Cup games. India and Pakistan have played 4 ODI World Cup games. Note that India has never lost to Pakistan. What days of the week were these games played? Answer:

WC Games Played

So the next question is, if these games are taken away from the overall tally, how does this affect India's chances?

Day of WeekWins% Wins

So there you go. India v Pakistan on Fridays means India has a 17% of victory. However, as Disraeli remarked "There are three kinds of liars: liars, damned liars and statisticians"!!! Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainities! May the best team win!!!

Monday, January 13, 2014


Just over a week ago, a young actor from the regional Telugu Film Industry known as Tollywood, Uday Kiran, took his own life by hanging himself from the ceiling wall. While the investigation into his tragic death are still going on, it is speculated that being unemployed for a long part of time subsequently led to depression which may have played a role into his untimely death.

As an aficionado of Telugu films, I had been impressed with Uday's early movies. His movies were romantic-action capers, with an element of college/university life thrown in. The TFI performs as a kind of ogliarchy according to news articles, no different to other film industries worldwide, where family members of illustrious actors of the years past, control the "shots" (no pun intended). Thus a young commerce graduate making it big without a "Godfather" was seen by many as a welcome change and his movies were awaited with excitement. Added to this, were three successive hits, and soon he was the second-youngest winner of India's National Film Award for Best Actor, with only Kamal Hassan an acting powerhouse of South India. One of his movies "Nuvvu Nenu", meaning "You and I" still remains a personal favourite of mine, with it's dialogues, screenplay and music (one can listen to a song which rocked the charts that year, titled "Gajuvaka Pilla", "The lass from Gajuvaka [a town in Andhra Pradesh]" here) It soon became apparent that this young actor was heading into the big leagues, when a personal setback and some would say poor choices of movies took a toll. With hindsight being 20/20 with clear skies, one could have argued that had he chosen to, for lack of a better word, "diversify", he would be able to hedge his risks and even if he couldn't regain the stardom at the start of his career, he could have still been around. Howevever, I digress.

My thoughts aren't about what Uday Kiran could/should/would have done. I found it deeply tragic that a young man, with immense potential, who had appeared to put the past behind him, felt so alone, so helpless, that he saw no other way out than to end his life. Not having been diagnosed with depression, I am in no way qualified to even proffer any kind of advice how to deal with it. Indeed, a good friend of mine, a classmate and now colleague at work sent me this picture below, which I found quite apt. It shows scenarios where the advice given to those depressed is given to those suffering from other illnesses:

Although not having suffered depression, I was exposed to it during my formative years when a family member had a bout of depression. She is the most toughest member of the family mentally and while I did not realise it then, time, research and public knowledge has made me wise to the fact depression, like other illnesses knows no age, no gender and no barriers. It affects all without fear or fervour. At the time, the family member sought refuge in family friends, one of whom was a doctor. I believe what got her through was this close circle of friends and her unwavering faith in spirituality. However, this isn't a treatment for everyone and I still believe it is the responsibility of anyone who knows people suffering from depression to approach qualified help. When close family friends confide in the fact that they were "feeling down every day", "not wanting to wake up and go to work", "not wanting to talk to anyone", it suggests something more than just "Monday morning blues"; something that requires professional assistance. I consider myself fortunate to be there for those who wanted to help. Indeed my (finite) knowledge of depression comes only from the fact sheets of not-for-profit organisations aimed at fighting the stigma and misinformation associated with depression.

Another thing which seemed to rile me during this entire episode (notwithstanding the sickening TV coverage of the tragedy), was comments made to the effect that Uday Kiran was a "coward" who "ran away from problems". I consider this not only insulting to the memory of Uday Kiran, but also a reason why diagnosed with depression, suffer in silence. We may never understand what drove a 33 year old young man to suicide, but the least we can do, is to ensure our friends, family and acquaintances always know they have access to qualified support services in the case of mental illness.

NOTE: For further information on depression and other mental illnesses please visit

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The year that was!

The year that was....and what a year it was.

Beginning Jan 1 of 2013 by partying with some of my closest friends at the Indian School of Business, and then making a 250km dash to Vijaywada to pay respects to our family deity, missing my return train and then catching the bus back to Hyderabad, I did not realise at that time what the year had in store. As I look back, it has been a monumental year, personally and professionally. I have grown, I have regressed. I have matured, I have acted impulsively. I received gifts and awards I will cherish through the rest of my life; I have made monumental errors of judgement. As I climbed peaks, I faltered at the straights. Enough of metaphors. I have shed a tear as one of my heroes retired from a sport that has been his life for 24 years. I paused for a moment's silence, as another hero who fixed the heart and soul of a nation, long broken by hate, breathed his last. I pray and hope that yet another hero, no stranger to risk and danger, fights the battle of his life, comes out victorious This year, has been quite the year, and two dates stand out amongst the rest:

April 7: The day when 550 students of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad Campus donned their graduation robes and made that "final walk" towards the graduating podium, after which they would not be students of ISB, but alumni of one of the best business schools in India and amongst the finest in the world. For all of us, it was a day of mixed emotions. Thrill, excitement, nostalgia, sadness, all rolled into one. We formed friendships that continue till this day. We crack jokes that only we can understand, and yearn for the time we could all wake up at 8AM for an 8.15AM lecture and rock up to the lecture theatre.

June 3: A dream come true. The start of my professional life in India. I had always dreamt and hoped to work in India, and on this day, I became part of the Indian workforce. Over the past six months, this experience has been exhilirating, frustrating, draining, exciting. But at no time has it been regretful. During the 1996 World Cup, I am told that the Australian Cricket team's slogan was "No Regrets". I have tried to live with using this as my slogan, and have succeed in no small measure. This too, is an experience, I have not regretted. It has been full of learning and has made me into a better person.

So what for the new year? As the bard hath written in Hamlet "We know what we are, but not we may be". With that thought firmly in my mind, I recall, with sadness, at errors of judgement I have made, errors which still continue to haunt me, and teach me a painful lesson. Thus, in 2014, I will be better. I will be a better human being. I will be a better son. I will be a better brother. I will be a better member of the family I will be a better friend. I will be a better colleague. I will be a better student. I will be better. To paraphrase India's first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru "Whither do I go and what shall be my endeavour?" I do not know, but if 2013 is any clue, then I shall sure learn a lot on my journey

2014, I welcome you....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My place

A place where I:
- prepared for my final exams at the last minute.
- met the most amazing of neighbours and their two young kids.
- cheered every run of Saurav Ganguly's in the Gabba, 2003.
- had my first ever pseudo-panic attack on the eve of my results, and later found that I managed to do well.
- returned to, after following the Indian team for the duration of their stay in Adelaide, after yelling at the top of my lungs "Jeetega Bhai Jeetega", "Sachin!! Sachin!!" for 5 days and basking in the feeling only Indian cricket fans would have felt after the team won its first game in 20 years.
- started following what would turn out to be my most favourite TV show, NCIS.
- received and accepted my offer at the University of South Australia.
- received a scholarship offer.
- learned the value of time management, given the infrequency of public transport.
- learned that having a big room also meant you were solely responsible for maintaining it.
- returned to, after undergoing my first major surgery in Australia.
- nursed my disappointment as India lost a home series to Australia, as Michael Clarke made a debut century.
- came to, after every game of cricket, and was greeted with a smile, regardless of the team's or my performance.
- watched with happiness as an elder sister got engaged, while playing host to another 20 of my extended family members.
- learned the harsh realities of life, of securing a job.
- realised that for those with faith (in whatever spiritual flavour), there are testing times, but these are temporary.
- celebrated as my father moved to Melbourne to join the workforce there.
- started coming late, as soon as I legally got my hands on the wheel of the family car.
- and family celebrated the traditional Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan with full gusto.
- learned the nuances of large scale event, community and stakeholder management
- slept, unsure of the progress of my Final Year Project at University.
- started my applications for graduate employment
- came, dejected, after my umpteenth rejection at the final interview stage
- called first, to inform my parents at being offered a job as an Associate Software Programmer
- thought I would leave in 2009, only to be told that all new graduates would not be onboarded, due to the Global Financial Crises of 2008-2009
- hung my certificates of Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Management (Marketing), with my parents, happy, but not satisfied. They were, are and will rightly continue to be my biggest critics.
- used to come every fortnight or so, after securing a job in Sydney
- closely followed the deteriorating health of my grandfather (and later my grandmother) while at the same time, being the Point of Contact to relatives in India as they informed me of many deaths in the family. Little did I know, that two of my most inspiring heroes would soon join that tragic list.
- returned to after securing a job as a Scientist in DSTO
- finally signed documentation to call myself a Citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia, swearing allegiance to "Australia and it's people"
- drove my mother to the airport, after learning my grandmother had slipped into a coma.
- woke one night, feeling terrible but not being able to explain. I was then informed that around the same time my maternal grandmother had passed away
- called, to inform my mother, exactly two months after my maternal grandmother had passed away, that my maternal grandfather had also passed away
- came back, after dropping my mother off at the airport, as she started her journey to Japan as an Endeavor Scholar, a proud moment, tempered by the loss of my maternal grandparents
- woke again one night, once again feeling terrible, and once again not being able to explain why. It turns out, my paternal grandmother had passed away around that time.
- hurriedly booked tickets for my father, the eldest son in the family, as he prepared to leave for India for the funeral ceremonies.
- first decided to donate bone marrow for research purposes
- started practising for my upcoming GMAT exam
- became the first member of the family, to buy a brand new vehicle, my Mazda 3
- finally completed and sent the application form to the Indian School of Business
- laughed out loud, at the surprise of being called for an interview at ISB
- received the offer of admission, at 11.30PM EDT, and pumped my fists in the air, as if I had taken a 5-for in a cricket match
- left in 2012, not sure if I would live here again
- return to in 2013, to finally soak in all that has happened
- called home for the past decade.

...and so begins my last 24 hours at this place I've had the privilege to call home for the past 10 years. It's been a great journey. These walls stood testament to our sweetest memories, our worst times and the realisations of our dreams. A home which marked the start of some of the most amazing friendships. A home where many a festive event had taken place. A home blessed with the presence of my late grandparents. It is now time to close one chapter of this journey and move onto another. 88 Navigator Drive, I bow before you, I salute you, and I will miss you!!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Thank you Adelaide!!!

As I look back at my 17 years of Adelaide, I am truly amazed at the journey it’s been. My friends have told me that this is not a goodbye from Adelaide, but rather a “see you in a little while”. While the optimist in me warms to that idea, the realist in me urges caution, using the phrase “think about it”. The pessimist in me is just morose, but thankfully he does not come to the fore very often.

Thus after reminiscing for the greater part of the day as to my memories in Adelaide, I have realised that there exists a rather long list of people that I need to thank and with very good reason. The Prasanna Kovalam of 2012, is different to the Prasanna Kovalam of 1995 and the metamorphosis is truly due to Adelaide.

So without further ado, I’d first like to thank God Almighty for giving me the opportunity to chase my dream, rather quickly in my short life. As I sit and realise that I am only 25 years, I am eternally thankful that I’ve got some years left in me to do something big and hopefully ISB is start of that. I’d also like to thank Him for the silver spoon he’s given me. At times, we tend to forget about that silver spoon, given our lavish lifestyles, but a quick visit to those who struggle day in and day out to make ends meet, gives us a sobering reality check and we rush back to the safety and comfort of that spoon. I’ve had a comfortable lifestyle and I can only thank God for making that happen.

I’d also like to thank my grandparents, three of whom are watching me from above. They were an amazing bunch of people who were my first role models. I learnt the meaning of the words sacrifice, honesty and perseverance as I heard stories on their struggles to raise their children.

If I’d heard stories from my grandparents, I saw my own parents embody the true spirit of sacrifice, honesty and perseverance. It wasn’t easy raising a rather high-maintenance only child (is there any other kind??) but they’ve done amazingly well. As children, we cannot thank them enough, but for what it’s worth “Thanks”.

It has been an amazing and humbling experience to be in the midst of such great friends in Adelaide. I’ve been given the honorific of being called a friend by some and “bhai (brother)” by others. Both are positions I have tried to be worthy of. I have failed in many situations, but I hope I’ve been a good friend and a good brother at times. I will cherish each and every moment I’ve spent with friends in Adelaide. They have been supportive of me, every step of the way, and if today I stand on the cusp of pursuing my dreams, it is because of their amazing support.

I’ve always enjoyed the journey, wherever it has taken me, literally and metaphorically. And if I’d be asked to give any suggestions, it’d be the same “Enjoy the journey while pursuing your dreams”.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thoughts on turning 64

Well, another year, another Independence day. 64 years ago, Jawaharlal Nehru, spoke to India, an India that was very different to the India which Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed this morning but also extremely similar. In his famous Tryst with Destiny speech, India's first Prime Minister talked about the long and unique road to (political) freedom, the road ahead and the dreams of the Indian people. At that time, India's GDP was close to 0.8%, and had $1.14 billion USD in foreign reserves. In 2011, India's GDP is close to 9% and has $316 billion USD of foreign reserves.

The story however is far from smooth or rosy. Until 1991, India's GDP was not much more than 1-2% per annum, thanks to the bureaucratic Licence-Permit-Quota Raj that Nehru himself put in place, despite of the rhetoric in his Tryst with Destiny speech. Our impressive growth rate can only be attributed to changes in circumstance, wherein India would be declared bankrupt if it were to not accept IMF conditions on a bail-out. Thankfully, better sense prevailed and slowly but surely, the days of waiting for years for a simple telephone connection vanished with the emergence of new providers.

The India now, is different, yet very similar to the India in 1947. Countless slogans of the style of "Garibi Hatao" have come and gone, yet poverty remains. Large chunks of the economy still remain over-regulated and licenced, for example the restaurant industry. Reforms at best have been slow, and at worst have been non-existent. Indeed, the current government led by the man who was Finance Minister in 1991 has been rightly lambasted for its inability to carry out key reforms.

Corruption once again has raised its ugly head and despite attempts to curtail it, has only persisted, or even grown stronger. Notwithstanding India's patchy history of dealing with the corrupt, even by this scale, the current UPA government is heading to the dubious distinction of being the most corrupt on record. Social workers are now clamouring for a "miracle cure" in terms of the Jan Lokpal bill, even going so far as to blackmail the government with hunger-strikes, a method the Founder of the Indian Constitution Dr. BR Ambedkar called "the grammar of anarchy". Having multiple yet toothless Vigilance Commissions hasn't done anything to reduce corruption so what's to say this new level will.

A great post by Nitin Pai shows why this new style of crusading is a bad idea, and another post here talks about the means justifying the ends. However, one way to definitely erase corruption is to give more power to the citizen. How does one do that? Simple. Open the economy up. The less licences or hurdles a citizen faces in doing their work, the less they will pay to get the work done. Reforming the sectors, ensuring that competition drives the workforce, not nepotism or cronyism, is the key to eliminate corruption.

I have a dream. A dream of a corruption free India, where the government restricts itself to economic strategy making, rather than micromanagment of the economy. A dream of a secular India, not one that is "competitively intolerant". I have a dream where I can pursue my freedom of speech, and not have it curtailed by the State, or by pseudo-constitutional bodies deriving their power on the basis of ex-cathedra statements. Funnily enough, this is the same dream that Rabindranath Tagore saw when he exhorted "Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake"

It's been 64 years, I think it's time we made it into a reality.

Jai Hind!!!!

Friday, December 31, 2010

The year gone by

Well, how does one view this year gone past? Given tragedies, it would be easiest to label this as a continuation of Annus Horribilis, from 2009. Yet, life is seldom black and white. It encompasses all the colours in between the two shades and if one were to somehow digitize it, it would still contain all 'n' number of levels from black to white.

So whereas I lost two of my role models in the year, I gained a greater appreciation for the memories I shared with them during their life. Whilst I started a new job, I realized how hard it is to juggle between one's professional and personal lives and no matter how separate one tries to keep them, the lines blur on more than an occasion. The new job, with its new riches brings with it a newer responsibility to manage one's money and one soon becomes conscious of the 'economic-problem', that is to satisfy one's inexhaustible needs, with an exhaustible amount of money. I have made new friends and renewed old ones. I have actively wanted to take a greater sense of responsibility within the community, which has bought with it, another dimension to manage my time effectively and efficiently. Have I been successful? Time will only tell.

One thing is for sure though. From January 1 2010, to December 31 2010, I have definitely changed as a person. This is but natural, for change is the only constant in one's life. Yet, the more I have changed, it is hard not to notice that the more I remain the same. Thus, when someone would tell me "You've changed", I hope it is for the better. I do not run away from it, for there is nothing to run away from. I do not live in denial that I am the "same old me", that would mean that I have learnt nothing. Thus I have changed, and will continue to change as I am faced with new experiences which, I hope, would enhance, rather than de-value Brand Me. I leave it to my friends to help me ensure that Brand Me is not de-valued too much ;-)

So, whilst this year definitely hasn't been an 'annus mirabilis', it would be wrong of me to label, my year as 'annus horribilis'. So what has it been then? Well, in the fine tradition of human thinking, the answer would be "A bit of both!"

Happy New Year 2011!!!!