Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Diwali 2008. Is it really a festival of lights?

Its that time of the year in India, where every citizen is in a happy frame of mind. All previous harrowing experiences in life are pushed to the backburner and a new beginning is made. In some parts of the country and indeed, some religions, it is actually the start of a New Year - the business new year. New businesses are started on this day, big dreams are conceptualised and laid out on this day, pivotal changes in professional lives are made on Diwali, crackers, lamps and flowers light up the average household. There is a sense of immense cheer and happiness right around the country. The sense of having the biggest Indian festival with its fair share of pomp and show, steeped in genuine happiness, is at its ripest best at this time of the year.

But, this year, I just want to stop and take a reality check on whether it really is a very Happy Diwali. I mean, look at the trials and tribulations that we have been through this year - the Sensex eroded by over half its value, nearly 10 terrorists strikes in every part of India, global slowdown, rupee-dollar equation getting expensive, FIIs selling off billions of dollars and repatriating cash to their motherlands, the big Indo-US nuclear deal was the big headline till it was finally inked, the erosion in sentiment and dollar dreams seen with the demise of the mammoth investment banks on Wall Street thus leading to a revolutionary government intervention in capitalism, etc. There have been just too many bad things happening around.

BUT, I am an optimist and have seen a lot of positives in these trying times as well. India's first individual gold medal at the Olympics and its best ever performance at the great event, Tendulkar scaling the peak of Test match batsmanship, the actual inking of the nuclear deal that will hopefully help India in times to come, Chandrayaan, Aravinda Adiga's Booker Prize putting India again on the world map, Tata -Corus, Reliance and its global plans, HCL - Axon ( 3 M & A deals that laid perspective to Indian corporate ambition!) et al.

I am hopeful on this Diwali day. I have not heard too many crackers near my house this Diwali - but am guessing that it is more a function of people playing their cards of not wanting to pollute the environment. And there is a quiet resilience, even in these trying times, that we will emerge from this fiasco, stronger, bigger and much, much better off than we can possibly imagine

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