Author Archives: Sanjay Jha


Delhi, one summer evening
Elections in the air
I am home returning
There is palpable excitement everywhere

The sky is dark and ominous
Interspersed with thunder and lightning
I almost crash against a stationary bus
At the byzantine turning

Am gripped by a strange sense of inexplicable fear
It’s only the 21st of May
Wished I could share with someone near
Seemed like an unusual day

I wonder about a lonely pilot
Up in the dense clouds in a throbbing cockpit
Experienced sure he maybe, but
This sudden storm is quite a bit

Reach home and quickly switch on the news
Heave a sigh of relief
The pilot is in Madras airing his political views
Am delighted beyond belief

Reassured, I go to sleep
Set my bedside clock for morning alarm
Next day there are business appointments to keep
Even under the thin quilt, it is quite warm

Unexpectedly, the telephone rings
I get up with a disgruntled start
Wonder what news it brings
Why is my heart beating so fast?

Haven’t you heard the news as yet?
It is a terrible disaster
This is certainly one of the saddest
A woman has lost her husband, the children their father

In a state of virtual shock
I struggle out of bed
It is midnight, reminds the grand old clock
It is true, Rajiv Gandhi is dead

In an obscure, so far unheard-of-place
A happy soul, a genial man has met with fate
Only memories remain of his handsome face
Alas, an appointment for which he was not late

I look up to find, surprisingly, the clouds have cleared
It seems like an impenetrably calm, still night
The moon and stars have again reappeared
But there is darkness in the light


I was working in the NRI Division of ANZ Grindlays Bank at 10 E Connaught Place in New Delhi in 1991. It was a regular day at the office, business as usual, men at work and everyone pretending as if the world survived thanks to their inimitable dexterity. Bankers are ( were???) pregnant with hubris. Outside, the mercury rose with a determined resolve, unrelenting in its searing intensity. But by afternoon, the weather outside had begun to subtly change, before suddenly assuming extraordinary proportions. Quite dramatically. The scorching sun had given way to one of Delhi’s typical summer dust-storms which enveloped the city in a thick dark particle-infested smog-like cloud. By late evening , we were experiencing heavy thundershowers accompanied by fiery lightning in sporadic bursts. It seemed like the heavens above were experiencing some serious warfare. The gods indeed were expressing a peculiar ire.

The bitterly-contested election campaign of 1991 was drawing to a close, and there were newspaper reports that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was occasionally flying his small plane himself, the private passion of a former Indian Airlines pilot. Although I had read that he was campaigning down in southern parts of India  , I sincerely prayed that he was not up in the sky above Delhi that evening in his miniscule aircraft as it would be highly unsafe given the rough weather conditions. I reached home about 7 pm that evening and tuned into Doordarshan to find that Rajiv Gandhi was indeed wrapping up the national campaign in Madras (Tamil Nadu)  that night. I was hugely relieved. But the deep sense of an unnerving premonition was disconcerting. It lingered momentarily, but soon I moved on.

I was a big Rajiv Gandhi fan; for many in our generation, Rajiv Gandhi was India’s new hope , who inspired you into believing that we would be in able hands under his stewardship. In short, he was India’s lodestar. Although he had taken charge under tragic circumstances on the ghastly night of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, he brought in a breath of fresh air with his bold, pragmatic, breakthrough statements and actions before some calamitous errors had brought that golden honeymoon period to an abrupt halt. But the two years under the opportunistic VP Singh-led alliance had been disturbing, and during their reign the country looked liked it was drifting into complete chaos , lacking in direction and going nowhere under their shibboleths of social emancipation . Initial opinion polls indicated that the Congress would reemerge as a leading political force and that Rajiv Gandhi would be Prime Minister once again. We were indeed very excited.

Then late in the night as I prepared to sleep the telephone rang. And everything changed.

This poem was written over a decade back and is an extract from my book When I Wondered About You , published in 1999.


Always listen to feedback that may appear initially disagreeable: Myra S White & Sanjay Jha

EDK_2258In the absence of internal awareness, individuals can crumble easily at the first roadblock, Myra White and Sanjay Jhatell Ankita Rai

While it is important for a leader or a start-up entrepreneur to believe in himself, such a belief can also lead to overconfidence and failure. Can this be managed?

Jha: The starting block is always self-belief; it is an inner conviction, a clarity of thought, a mental roadmap backed by self-confidence. In the absence of this internal awareness, individuals can crumble easily at the first roadblock ( and you face many speed-bumps along the way, incidentally) or get distracted by quick success or new alternatives.

Either way, all of it can derail the original plan. There is a wafer-thin line between self-belief and overconfidence; the former keeps you constantly grounded amidst odds, the latter can make you reckless, arrogant and often disconnected with reality. It is important to listen to others, particularly feedback that may appear initially disagreeable or discordant.

White: The confidence exhibited by people who become leaders and achievers is rooted in their knowledge of their mini-strengths, the little things that they do well and an awareness and acceptance of their weaknesses. This latter awareness of their leads them to avoid tasks, which they do poorly and delegate them to others.

The overconfidence that at times leads people to fail is a result of the fact that people are often unaware of their lack of competence in a particular area. Psychological studies have found that participants who score in the bottom quartile on tests grossly overestimate their scores whereas those who receive the highest scores tend to underestimate their performance.

You say, “Superstar aren’t afraid to fail.” But for entrepreneurs, the stakes could be very high. While failure could be a great learning experience, it can also put one’s credibility at risk…

Jha: Steve Jobs and Apple are classic examples of comeback epics. Failure is inevitable at some stage or the other of any business entity or an individual. Life is not a cakewalk, superstars are fully aware of that; in fact this awareness comes mostly at the pinnacle of their success when the world anoints them as superheroes. That is why a Roger Federer could handle the dramatic rise of Rafael Nadal or a Tiger Woods became the world number 1 again despite a horrific personal-life crisis. Often we fail not necessarily on account of personal vulnerabilities or bad decisions but because the marketplace dynamics may have changed overnight. Whatever the reasons, the old saying holds true; failures are the pillars of success, especially in a vibrant consumer-oriented markets of today.

White: today, who receive large infusions of venture capital, are particularly vulnerable to large setbacks because they believe that money insulates them from failure and can solve any problem that arises. In contrast, entrepreneurs who lack funding are forced to be more resourceful and can only afford to take small calculated risks.

Taking right decision is difficult as most of us are bad listeners and not ready to learn and unlearn things. How can we overcome this and take better decisions?

White: People who become leaders in their fields are information seekers. For example, Narayana Murthy’s inspiration for founding Infosys came from his discovery of a US judge’s ruling that hardware companies like IBM could no longer prevent users from running software on their computers that was developed by outside vendors.

Unfortunately the internet has created a culture of “information outputers” rather than “information inputers”. People are now more interested in voicing their opinions and publishing and promoting them on the internet than listening to others or seeking out factual information.

Jha: The paradox is that at the top of the pyramid leaders usually involuntarily insulate themselves from the outer world. The casual stroll in the office, chatting with the new recruits and having informal meetings is replaced by a structural process. Listening is about giving respect to the other person. It is the ultimate weapon of a good manager or a leader.

Courtesy: www.

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Review Of 11 by Tehelka

11 loraCricket’s Cassandra

Sanjay Jha challenges cricket’s status quo, says SHANTANU GUHA RAY

SANJAY JHA started tracking the willow game— cricketers, umpires, their emotions, idiosyncrasies and outrageous acts — from 2000, the year he hosted He instantly brought a voice and character to the portal. My interaction with him was brief — I think it was during my days with ESPN Star Sports — but Jha always rattled those running the game when he wrote his column. In some ways, he is the unsung Busybee of Indian cricket. A senior official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) once said during a meeting in Delhi: “Remember the image of Michael Holding kicking over the stumps in fury during the 1979-80 tour of New Zealand? If Holding had to be replaced (hypothetically) by a cricket writer, it would be that Jha.” Over the years, Jha has earned many titles. He has been labelled a maverick, a go-getter, rabblerouser, and even a Sourav acolyte. But, no one could counter his arguments that — over a decade — produced a perfect rainbow of writing for India’s sports (read cricket) cognoscenti. He continues to rattle the establishment with his excellent columns.

I loved the well-crafted open letters he wrote to both Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell at the peak of their slugfest, urging them to end their public spat. And also his list of 10 — distinctly uncomfortable for the world’s richest cricket board — questions that included one on the legendary Sunil Gavaskar and his eyebrow-raising 36 off 60 overs in a Prudential World Cup tie. He wanted answers for all but no one bothered to reply. True to his style, Jha — an executive director at Dale Carnegie Training, India — asked whether there was anything that a common fan had missed. Basically, he asked: Was it deliberate, Sunny? There are other highly controversial posers, including one on why Abhijit Kale shut up after levelling bribery charges on national selectors. I have a feeling that Jha — totally clued into the game — knew the answers but still wanted someone from the board to reply. No one did.

His book, 11: Triumphs, Trials, Turbulence (Indian Cricket 2003-10), is a compilation of his writings that — time and again — highlight his desperation to get into the management of the game in India, even world (read ICC), and change what he calls some big time, basic flaws that are messing the game in the subcontinent. Jha has loads of grievances, the newest being the way the game has been commercialised by former IPL czar Lalit Modi. Expectedly, the BCCI top guns stay away from him.

Jha knows he can be an agent of change only if he is allowed to join a state association and work his way up the greasy ladder. This collection of excellent columns is useful reading for the serious fan of cricket and cricket politics. However, it is not likely to help Jha leapfrog into the BCCI.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 23, Dated June 12, 2010

My Favorites


Great Expectations
Charles Dickens
Midnight’s Children
Salman Rushdie
The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini
Freedom At Midnight
Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
The Golden Gate
Vikram Seth


Deewar Kuch Kuch Hota Hai Anand Lage Raho Munnabhai Lagaan


Indian Accent Serafina Big Chill Soam Indigo Deli

NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST : Speakership Series

Speakership Series :- Sanjay Jha.

rogerfedererWe mistake ethics with just society values, legal processes, statutory compliance and rigid adherence to rule books. But in reality ethics is also about willingly taking questionable decisions, risky positions, doing suspect transactions , and implementing strategic plans that may actually be permissible by both law and general management principles. Usually such actions are influenced by rising expectations, peer pressure, competitive egos, and short-term profiteering. If the end consequences are indeed disastrous, leaders pass the buck on to a changed environment or something usually external. Accountability is tragically missing. They conveniently ignore the repercussions on the large majority of employees, customers and other stakeholders, should the contrary transpire. It is the latter category who are left holding a crying baby and pink slips.

In the boom phase, everyone just focuses on market capitalization and shareholder value. There is such a frantic rush to be on those famous lists published regularly by well-circulated business weeklies. Since it is a human condition that optimism feeds on itself, no one realizes that ballooning over-confidence often leads to a bubble that frequently bursts. Interestingly, this familiar story usually repeats itself. There is no assurance that the calamitous forays of 2007-08 will not repeat itself. Are our leaders prepared to be guarded against such susceptibilities in the future?

As the world recovers, albeit slowly, from a difficult and exacting phase in it’s economic history, probably the worst since the 1930s Great Depression, it is time leaders went back to the drawing board, reinvented themselves, thought long-term and looked at recreating faith in their abilities to lead people and organizations with honesty and ethics.

Integrity remember, never takes a holiday .

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