Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments MOST READ Organizer Destine Javelona said the league resumes on Oct. 14. —CEDELF P. TUPAS Makati-based teams Wednesday Group and Dreamchaser Basketball hacked out thrilling victories on Saturday to rule their respective divisions in the inaugural Premium Basketball Showcase held at Kerry Sports at Shangri-La at the Fort.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Kanter believes Westbrook will stay in OKC Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Read Next E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:16CJ Peralta says QC judge followed rules in giving nod to raids on militant offices02:14Galvez OK with ‘selective’ martial law in Mindanao01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Shooting guard Roy Cayanan scattered 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Wednesday overcame Goto Pilipinas, 79-77, to claim the Spartan division crown.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutForward Jake Diwa and burly center JR Casulla also shone for Wednesday, which stunned R. Lapids, 74-73, in the semifinals of the division limited to recreational players.Earlier, center JM Agustin took charge with 19 points and 13 rebounds to lift Dreamchaser to a 66-62 triumph over erstwhile unbeaten Compadres-Wilmer in the 18-Under finals of the tournament backed by PMT Clothing, Basketball TV and Nike Park.
Chot Reyes. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netAfter Gilas Pilipinas got away with wins that looked far from pretty, coach Chot Reyes knows it highlighted how much work the team needs in the Fiba World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifying series.The national team gets another three months to get it all done—whether it’s adjusting to the tournament’s new home-and-away format or making sure that naturalized player Andray Blatche stays fit for action.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chair emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan noted that Gilas’ three-week training, clearly, wasn’t enough.“If we are going to get serious against Australia, we have got to give enough time for the team to jell,” said Pangilinan.Part of that preparation should be getting Blatche on board early, said Reyes, as the 31-year-old got criticized for his sluggish showing.“The key is to get him to practice more than five days,” said Reyes, after Blatche flew in late due to commitments in China. “We can’t teach everything in five days. Or you might be able to teach everything, but to actually practice it, run it, make it instinct, you can’t get that in five days.”Blatche had a measly six points on a 2-of-9 shooting plus six turnovers against Taipei, but had 14 rebounds and five blocks. Reyes got a big boost, however, from June Mar Fajardo’s 17 points off the bench on top of eight rebounds, two assists and a couple of blocks.ADVERTISEMENT Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Read Next Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Jarata replicates Palawan tennis 3-peat Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion LATEST STORIES “It’s simply a matter of them (players) getting used to it mentally and physically,” said Reyes.Gilas struggled pulling off victories over Japan ( 77-71) last Friday in Tokyo and Chinese Taipei (90-83) Monday night in Manila in the first window of Group B action.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSo despite the 2-0 start, Reyes expects things to get harder when the Philippines takes on powerhouse Australia in the second window on Feb. 22, 2018 in Adelaide.“It’s going to be three months so there won’t be any kind of momentum that’s going to be built,” said Reyes. “But it armed us a lot of knowledge about ourselves. Hopefully, things to work on and learn.” Cayetano: 4 social media groups behind SEA Games ‘sabotage’ Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa View comments
PBA IMAGESMarinerong Pilipino used a strong start to upend AMA Online Education, 109-93, and grab its third straight win in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Monday at Pasig Sports Center.The Skippers came out firing, starting the game on a 7-0 spurt which extended to 20, 36-16, at the end of the first period en route to their fourth win in six games.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Arvin Tolentino carried AMA Online Education (1-4) with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Robbie Manalang got 15 markers, four boards, and four assists.The scores:MARINERONG PILIPINO 109 — Banal 20, Ayonayon 18, Lopez 9, Pasaol 9, Eboña 8, Robles 8, Babilonia 6, Subido 6, Toth 6, Tratter 6, Olivares 5, Iñigo 4, Tolentino 4, Terso 0.AMA ONLINE EDUCATION 93 — Tolentino 18, Manalang 15, Cañete 13, Lao 12, Martinez 7, Taganas 7, Celso 6, Garcia 6, Andaya 4, Escalambre 3, Bragais 2, Antonares 0.Quarters: 36-16, 61-46, 88-76, 109-93.ADVERTISEMENT NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Player of the Week: Garvo Lanete leading Meralco resurgence Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Read Next John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Gab Banal captained the voyage for Marinerong Pilipino with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists.Rian Ayonayon contributed 18 markers, six boards, five dimes, and four blocks as all but one of the 14 Skippers who entered the game were able to score.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“The key here is understanding what we want to do, what we want to achieve. Everything just fell into place,” said Marinerong Pilipino coach Koy Banal.It was a dominating display from Marinerong Pilipino on both ends of the floor. The team shot 47 percent from the field and dished out 30 assists while also out-rebounding the Titans, 61-44. View comments Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. AFP official booed out of forum LATEST STORIES Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH
World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide “We’ve really prepared hard for this fight and you can expect that we’re going to give a great performance,” said the soft-spoken Ancajas in Filipino on Tuesday during the Philippine Sportswriters Association at Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City.READ: Jerwin Ancajas keeps crownFEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutJoven Jimenez, Ancajas’ trainer and manager, said they have been training for the bout since mid February two weeks after Ancajas’ win over Jose Alfredo Rodriguez of Mexico last January 29 in Macau.Jimenez said Kinoshita may be taller, older and more experienced than his prized ward, but Ancajas believes he’s quicker and stronger. READ: Ancajas beats Puerto Rican champ, grabs IBF title Ancajas’ camp leaves for Brisbane on Saturday. Jimenez said it’s important for Ancajas to get himself acclimatized with the cold weather.Ancajas, who currently weighs at 121 six pounds shy from meeting the required 115-pound limit, refused to give any predictions but stressed he’s focused on winning and not about going for a knockout.“The knockout will come. We’re just thinking about the kind of strategy we’re going to use in the fight. But if there’s an opportunity to go for the knockout, we’re going to go for it.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken Cignal shuts down Racal in D-League Finals rematch WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH “He (Kinoshita) is a typical Korean fighter who has a solid chin,” Jimenez said.READ: Ancajas risks title vs Mexican today“He’s a stylist and is a good counter puncher. We focused our training to develop my speed and power and I think those are my advantages over him,” Ancajas, who started training when he was 9-years-old, told INQUIRER.net.The 25-year-old Ancajas, who hails from Panabo, Davao del Norte, has the numbers to prove he has power in his fists with 17 of his 26 wins coming off knockouts against only one loss and one draw.Kinoshita owns almost like a similar record as Ancajas with 25-1-1, he only has eight KOs.ADVERTISEMENT Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ LATEST STORIES Jerwin Ancajas. Photo by Mark GiongcoFilipino boxing champion Jerwin Ancajas vowed to put on his best performance yet against a sturdy opponent in Japanese-Korean Teiru Kinoshita on July 2 in Brisbane, Australia.Ancajas will defend his IBF junior bantamweight title against mandatory challenger Kinoshita in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn main event.ADVERTISEMENT What ‘missteps’? MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments
The agreement is similar to the one the Mavs and Nowitzki reached last year, although for significantly less money. Last year’s contract was for two years and $50 million, and the club declined its option before free agency opened this year.The 39-year-old Nowitzki is no longer the primary option for the Mavericks, so a $5 million deal is more in line with his role on a roster that has become significantly younger since the start of last season. The $25 million salary from a year ago was as much about Dallas paying Nowitzki for his loyalty, which included taking less money to help acquire free agents through the years.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsBryant retired following the 2015-16 season, his 20th with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the fifth player to spend at least 20 years in the NBA.Nowitzki doesn’t seem to have ruled out playing past the coming season. At the NBA awards show last week, he hinted as much during his acceptance speech for the teammate of the year award. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Nikki Valdez rushes self to ER due to respiratory tract infection LATEST STORIES Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates after scoring his 30,000 career point in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on March 7, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFPDALLAS, TEXAS—Dirk Nowitzki has a deal with the Dallas Mavericks that sets him up to join Kobe Bryant as the only players to spend 20 seasons with one NBA franchise.Nowitzki and the Mavericks have agreed on a two-year, $10 million contract that carries a team option in the second season, a person with knowledge of the deal said Thursday on condition of anonymity because a deal hasn’t been announced.ADVERTISEMENT LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera LOOK: Paul Millsap bids farewell to Atlanta on Instagram Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Regardless of how much longer he plays, Nowitzki’s legacy is secure after leading the Mavericks to their only championship in 2011 as the NBA Finals MVP. The 7-foot German is also the only foreign-born player with 30,000 career points, a milestone he reached last season.But Nowitzki wants to get back into playoff contention before he leaves after the Mavericks missed the postseason for just the second time in 17 seasons.Nowitzki was second to Harrison Barnes in scoring last season at 14.2 points per game and could drop further with Wesley Matthews going into the third year of his deal as the starting shooting guard.Dennis Smith, taken ninth overall in the draft, and Yogi Ferrell are two young point guards who will spend time running the pick-and-roll with Nowitzki and 23-year-old center Nerlens Noel, a restricted free agent the Mavericks are expected to keep after trading for him at the deadline last season.ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ MOST READ Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong View comments
Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next The 30-year-old Caluag, who ruled the competition in 2013, wasn’t able to defend his crown in the 2015 SEA Games after host Singapore opted not to hold a BMX event.Caluag won the gold in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games opening FILE PHOTO – Daniel Patrick Caluag finally strikes gold for the Philippines on Wednesday by winning the men’s BMX race at the Ganghwa Asiad BMX Track during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA/INQUIRERFormer Olympian Daniel Caluag settled for third place in the men’s BMX competition in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.Caluag, who represented the Philippines in the 2012 London Olympics, fell behind Thailand’s Nonthakon Inkhokshong, who won silver and Indonesia’s gold medalist Gusti Bagus Saputra.ADVERTISEMENT Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim NCAA Season 93’s Best 7: Week 7 Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:36Manny Pacquiao part of 2019 SEA Games opening ceremony Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ LATEST STORIES View comments Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul MOST READ Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Biggest Pogo service provider padlocked for tax evasion Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters
Innovation could well be her middle name and an instant connect with people, her forte. For it was a strong R & D culture backed with people practices that grew the Rs 1 crore turnover of her company, when she took over as CEO in 1997, to 100 times that,Innovation could well be her middle name and an instant connect with people, her forte. For it was a strong R & D culture backed with people practices that grew the Rs 1 crore turnover of her company, when she took over as CEO in 1997, to 100 times that in a span of 11 years. Meet Hema Hattangady, the non-techie woman behind the success of one of India’s largest energy management firms, Conzerv Systems India.The youngest of four sisters and the daughter of a civil defence officer at the Army HQ in Delhi, Hattangady, 47, grew up in the Capital in the 60s and studied at the Carmel Convent School. When she was 13, her father retired. Living in the city became expensive and the family moved to Dharwad, a quiet town in Karnataka, inhabited mostly by pensioners. “Let’s just say it was a little too quiet for me,” she says laughing. After graduating in commerce at 21, she was married.It was during her years in Delhi and the trips to the local Konkani Association that Hattangady met future husband, Ashok, later chief designer at Conzerv, as their parents were friends. In fact, at the age of six, she was cast opposite him, then seven years old, as bride and groom, in one of the association’s plays, The Wedding of the Painted Doll. “Who knew 15 years later the two of us would be exchanging vows in real life,” she says. Soon after, her husband headed to the University of Texas for his MS while Hattangady was denied a visa to join him. She instead, decided to pursue an MBA at the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata.With the family (clockwise from left): Raghav, Ashok, Hattangady and AnanyaConzerv was born in 1988 as Enercon Systems, a business in digital meters started by Hattangady’s father-in-law, H. Vasanth Rao. In 1989, post a brief stint at the advertising agency, Adwit India as GM, she joined the family business as project coordinator. She looked into almost every aspect of the business, from the building of the factory, to procuring materials, to sales, to marketing. In 1992, despite cutting edge designs, the company started running into losses. Former Hindustan Unilever India chairman, T.Thomas, came to their rescue. He was starting the first venture capital fund in India, Indus Venture Capital, and was looking to invest in a company with potential and approached Enercon. However, this meant that the family’s stake would go down from a 100 per cent to 25 per cent while Ashok took over as CEO. Being a technical person, he wanted to focus only on design and felt it was hard to manage both the technical and managerial roles. He suggested that Hattangady be appointed CEO. “And there I was, suddenly right in the middle of everything,” she says. Was her non-engineering background a hurdle? On the contrary, she feels it was an advantage. She could see the customer’s perspective and pitched in with her inputs about what was needed and what not. “I’ve always believed you don’t have to be an IT person to run a successful IT business. You have to be a good manager.” The technical basics, she learnt from her husband.At age 13 with the SBI rolling shield she won for debate at St. Joseph’s High, DharwadA huge challenge lay ahead. She picked up the threads and began to analyse what was not right with the company. Since the Bangalore based Conzerv was mainly a south Indian company, foraying into the north by expanding the sales and dealer force was necessary. Next, she made sure that at least a sizeable part of the turnover, between five and eight per cent, was invested back into R & D as the business depended on constant improvement and technical innovation of products. She also created an advisory panel consisting of academics, customers and representatives of government testing labs.Keeping up the morale and retaining designers was essential too. That’s when her love for human resource and people practices was born. “I think the thing people valued most about Conzerv was the people connect. That’s what kept the lid on attrition,” she says. It is this trait that her mentor R.R. Nair, former director with HUL and an organisational development consultant now, feels is responsible for her success. With son Raghav, nine, and daughter Ananya at age one at home in Bangalore”Hema’s attention to detail and emotional intelligence are outstanding. She would remember every employee’s birthday and anniversary and probably be the first one to wish them.” He recalls the time during the 2004 tsunami, when an engineer at the company lost his life and Hattangady rallied the whole of Conzerv to support the family.Being a woman, the going was tough, but she continued to persist. On one occasion, Hattangady had gone to demonstrate a product to a textile mill owner in the interiors of Tamil Nadu. Instead, he asked her to open it up and tell her the cost of each component and add it up. And then remarked, “If all of it adds upto Rs 30,000, why should I pay Rs 70,000? You’re fleecing us.” “I tried explaining to him that the software that came along was what he mainly paid for but to no avail. I almost ran out in tears.”Hattangady, six, with her mother on the terrace of their Delhi homeTalking of persistence, her husband remembers the time when he was completing his degree in Texas and Hattangady had joined him there for a few months. “On one of the nights, I was wrapping up a project and had to stay out late. At times like these I would just grab a few chocolate bars and that would be dinner. At about 1 a.m., I heard a loud knock on my lab door and was surprised to see Hema standing there with a basket of food. With no access card, she had managed to get into the building by waiting for a student to pass by so she could sneak in and did the same in the lift. It took her almost an hour but in the end she got what she wanted,” he laughs.Over the years, Conzerv has had a steady annual growth figure of almost 40 per cent and today it sells its products across 22 countries. The recent decision to sell the company was a tough one. Schneider Electric first made an offer in 2004 but the deal came through only in 2009.”I call it the five-year courtship period,” Hattangady laughs. Now seemed like the right time. “The company had become big, the engineers needed to move up and we had products that needed to be sold abroad. Also, the children were growing up while I was not around.”advertisementadvertisementHattangady, 21, and husband Ashok, 22, at their engagement in March 1984She has just completed her employment contract with Schneider and has already launched an advertising and brand consulting firm, NewClue Innovations, along with her husband. Currently, Hattangady is enjoying her relaxed schedule and spending time with the children, 15-year-old Raghav and sixyear-old Ananya. Her day starts at 6.45 a.m. and she heads to drop her daughter to school. Post that she goes for a four km walk with her husband. After breakfast, she works on her consulting assignments and then goes to pick up Ananya from school. “Because Ananya has announced to the world that her mother sold her business so she could drop and pick her up from school everyday,” she says. Hattangady loves to travel and is an avid golfer. In-house jam sessions are regular family affairs as Raghav plays the keyboard, Ashok is a percussionist while she sings and Ananya does the ballet.The break has also given her time for other commitments such as her brainchild, the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), an industry association that is a policy research and advocacy body supporting the government’s energy efficiency policy. She is also on the board for several NGOs such as Dream-a-Dream that works with street children and the Bangalore chapter of Common Purpose, a UK based organisation that holds workshops to develop leadership at the middle management level.Hattangady has added a lot of firsts to the industry. Conzerv was the first metering firm in India and one of the few in the world to add energy consulting services to their portfolio. Another first was to shut the company twice a year for a week each time to ensure employees took time off. Her success story has even been turned into a Harvard Business School case study, as part of the Advanced Management Programme.”Ashok and I wanted to build a company that was sustainable, that outlived the two of us,” she says. Which is why the transition to Schneider has been so smooth. Within a year, Hattangady has managed to hand over the company. “We will continue to look for great investment opportunities and if the idea is right, who knows we will make another success story like Conzerv when the children are a little older.” The world is watching. 5 Places to Visit with Children1 Goa : For its beaches, food and the lush greens that are so relaxing. A holiday in the monsoon. Wet. Wild. Fun.2 Coorg : The natural beauty, coffee plantations, wildlife parks, treks and the weather are all amazing especially during the Christmas season.3 Osaka, Japan : To see the hundreds of cherry blossom trees flowering together during the Golden Week in the first week of May.4 Penang, Malaysia : For the water sports, the shopping, the Petronas Towers and an amazing cultural blend of the West and the East.5 Washington DC : For the numerous museums and political monuments especially The Smithsonian and the International Spy Museum.advertisement
After spending nearly four decades in government, Pranab Mukherjee says he’s had enough.The last thing Pranab Mukherjee does every night is to write down the day’s events in a diary that has become the first draft of narrative history. The cherubic Mukherjee calls it “history from a personal angle”. The,After spending nearly four decades in government, Pranab Mukherjee says he’s had enough.The last thing Pranab Mukherjee does every night is to write down the day’s events in a diary that has become the first draft of narrative history. The cherubic Mukherjee calls it “history from a personal angle”. The claim is justified, because Mukherjee is the one personality who has initiated or supervised the course of crucial events since the era of Indira Gandhi. After working with four Congress PMs, he has taken a decision. He will not serve a fifth, Rahul Gandhi.There are no secrets in Delhi. Rahul has been officially nominated the heir by Manmohan Singh, who is ready to step down at five minutes’ notice, if and when it comes. Equally obviously, Mukherjee feels he has been denied the dream job of being the prime minister twice, in 1984 after Indira’s assassination and in 2004, when Manmohan was chosen by Sonia Gandhi. She did not trust Mukherjee and later denied him even the consolation prize of the President of India. He is indispensable in every role, except that of the prime minister.Speaking exclusively to INDIA TODAY, when asked whether he would join Rahul’s cabinet, Mukherjee exclaimed, “My goodness, what would be my age? I am already 75. There is a limit beyond which you cannot go.” He then added significantly, “Rather, I have overstayed my wicket.” Why would the only Cabinet minister today who can trace his lineage back to Indira’s Cabinet (Ghulam Nabi Azad made it only to minister of state in 1982) opt out of her grandson’s Government? When Indira became prime minister in 1966, Morarji Desai, who had lost out, joined her Cabinet. Arjun Singh felt aggrieved when P.V. Narasimha Rao became prime minister, but took the ministerial oath.advertisementIn a party of yes-men, Mukherjee is the first to say no.Mukherjee feels he has been denied the dream job of being the prime minister twice. Sonia denied him the consolation prize of President of India as well. He is indispensable in every role, except as PM. He was not included in the Rajiv Gandhi government after the December 1984 elections though he remained finance minister until then. He had been punished, according to Congress folklore, for daring to suggest that as senior minister, he should be the prime minister in the transitory government. The shock persuaded Mukherjee to float his own party which flopped. He was taken back only in 1989. But Mukherjee claims there is no ill-will with the Gandhis. He says, “There is no trust deficit and no deficit of acceptability” with Sonia. As for Rajiv, he quotes a 1991 interview that the late prime minister gave INDIA TODAY, where he had said, “Many things said about Pranab, I found were not true.” Mukherjee perhaps feels he has outlived his utility under Sonia’s dispensation. Or maybe he is just fed up of playing the best man to successive Congress prime ministers.The astute Mukherjee knows it’s better to walk off the stage than to be reduced to a political farce called Arjun Singh. The average age of the current cabinet is 66 years with the earnest Dayanidhi Maran as the youngest at 43. Of the 27 Congress Cabinet ministers (including the prime minister), 10 are in their 70s. It is unlikely that Rahul, with youth as his calling card, would opt for this ’70s show. He would not have a 74-year-old sports minister and a 78-year-old foreign minister. It would be interesting to see who would play Mukherjee in the Rahul era-the enigmatic Digvijaya Singh or the pragmatic P. Chidambaram.As ever, he puts it best: “I am comfortable at the height where destiny has put me.” At 5 ft 3 inches, he is not the shortest man in the Cabinet. Politically, he is the tallest. But though Sonia respects his vision, she simply does not trust his ambition. She used a lame excuse, that he was “too important” to be spared from the Government and then offered Mukherjee a Padma Vibhushan as a corny compensation. “I personally believe that the office of the President of India is not to be sought. It is to be offered,” says Mukherjee. It is an office that is once again coming up for offer in 2012. But Mukherjee is not issuing any RSVPs. The powers who did not even make him a deputy prime minister for a fortnight when Manmohan had his heart bypass in January 2009 are hardly likely to oblige. Yet Mukherjee says he is a “satisfied man”.This article appeared in the India Today magazine dated October 25, 2010. Subscribe to the print copy or read it on Zinio.advertisementHe does get to play prime minister for brief spells, when Manmohan is out of town but there is too much uncertainty between de facto and de jure. He does all the heavy lifting, whether it is to push the Nuclear Liability Bill through or shepherding the Women’s Reservation Bill. He heads 12 EGoMs and another dozen GoMs on topics as diverse as food security to caste census. Manmohan even postponed a Cabinet meet once as Mukherjee was delayed by the visiting Sheikh Hasina Wazed, the Bangladesh prime minister.The challenge for Rahul’s Cabinet will be the governance gap, and the experience spine that keeps an administration stable. Mukherjee would have been the perfect tutor.As finance minister, he doesn’t just do the country’s arithmetic, but also solves UPA’s algebra-soothing egos and sometimes losing his temper as he did with the temperamental Mamata Banerjee when she came up with a last-minute list of 24 projects to be announced in the Railway Budget. The girlish Banerjee complained that even her parents had not scolded her as much. Another ally, A. Raja was unceremoniously asked to leave an EGoM meet on fuel prices as he was not a member. Raja had accompanied M.K. Azhagiri as an interpreter. Mukherjee said, “If Azhagiri needs an interpreter for English, we’ll provide him one.” At another meeting, Maran was summarily ticked off when he wanted to know if the figure 13,420 next to the ministry of communications was an allocation in crores to his party rival. “No,” said an exasperated Mukherjee, “that is the number of post offices in the country.” He has the stature to snub.It’s not just the nuts and bolts, sometimes he puts the entire paradigm in perspective. During the 2009 debate in parliament after the prime minister’s Sharm el-Sheikh faux pas, Manmohan found, to his horror, that a reluctant Congress had lined up a lightweight team of speakers for his defence. He asked Mukherjee to speak at the last minute and lend gravitas to his case. The nitty gritty of US President Barack Obama’s visit was sorted out by Mukherjee during his recent visit to Washington and not the external affairs minister. Recently, the indefatigable Mukherjee landed in New Delhi after a 16-hour trip and went straight to a core committee meeting at the prime minister’s residence to discuss the Karnataka crisis.However, there is one break that he allows himself-a visit to his native village, Kirnahar in West Bengal during the Pujas where he recites the shlokas of the Chandi Paath himself. He joked with Sonia and Manmohan, “Please put all crises on hold till the Pujas are over!” With his perennially red cheeks and mischievous smile, Mukherjee is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the coalition Star Wars. Yet his name is deliberately kept out of the credit ratings.He got the finance ministry because he wanted it, not because the leadership wanted him there. There was no way the Congress president could deny him this tryst with his own legacy. As it transpires, the job was an excellent political fit. The man who steered Indira’s social spend in the ’80s was a perfect link to reinforce the party’s relationship with the aam aadmi. Mukherjee’s legacy will be fortuitous for any prime minister. Recently, he was judged the Best Finance Minister for Asia by Emerging Markets, a part of Euromoney Institutional Investor. It’s a qualified pat on the back for a man who was judged the best finance minister in the world by Euromoney in 1984. The man, who has spent 37 years in government, jokes that he can never be the prime minister of this country as he is not fluent in Hindi. Mukherjee remembers every little trivia and keeps the memorabilia. He gave up smoking in 1993 but still has the three pipes Indira got him.advertisementThe challenge for the Rahul Cabinet is not getting the job. That, in Congress culture, is a given fact. The problem is the governance gap, and the experience spine that keeps an administration stable until the (comparative) youngsters have been honed into position. Manmohan is already talking about lowering the average age of his Council of Ministers to taper it to Rahul’s demographics. A prime minister has to understand political nuances as much as governance. This had been Rajiv’s undoing. He did not quite get the political culture of even the Congress, and repeatedly stubbed his toe until gangrene set in. Sonia was an eye-witness to this phenomenon.Mukherjee’s departure will bring to a close the Indira era. Coincidentally the next set of “seniors” will be Rajiv Gandhi’s contemporaries. Can the likes of Chidambaram, Digvijaya, Azad and Kamal Nath replace the wisdom and political savvy of a Pranab Mukherjee, Hansraj Bhardwaj or an Arjun Singh? They were men who knew how to fix the plumbing simply because they were around when most of the pipes were laid. There is an irony here as well. Rahul has opted for his grandmother’s brand of socialist politics, instead of his father’s liberal economics. But to help him do this, he has to depend on his father’s team. So far, the young prime minister-in-waiting has steered clear of the halls of governance, except when he goes visiting to plead for an extension for MNREGA. That is not gathering experience but collecting photo-ops. Government is not a studio, and pictures are not policy.Pranab Mukherjee would have been the perfect tutor in the transition phase. But the perennial Bengali Master has had enough of school.This article appeared in the India Today magazine dated October 25, 2010. Subscribe to the print copy or read it on Zinio.