I was in New York that fateful morning. A callow 45-year-old flush with the success of a mid-size five-year-old advertising agency, investing in our very own dot-com at what turned out to be the fag-end of the dot-com boom. It was an e-learning start-up, twenty years ahead of the Byju’s of the world. We were in New York as the first leg of a coast-to-coast tour to potential customers of the e-learning engine we had developed. I was also looking forward to exploring tie-ups with a couple of Madison Avenue ad agencies whose bosses I knew. The founder of the…

Even before the pandemic hit, many bemoaned the increasing amount of time the world spends glued to screens. Then the year of Zoom, FaceTime, Teams and Meet hit us. Our work and social life moved to the screen, and human interactions became largely restricted to the disembodied exchange of words emanating from little boxes on screens. I write about this in the past sense as many of my blog readers, fortified by vaccines, have begun to step out and interact. However, the experience is still relevant. Findings are that the Delta-fueled resurgence of infections over the past few months is…

When I entered advertising four decades ago, consumer marketing sat at the high table of consumer businesses. And as I recently wrote in a tribute article for Ulka’s legendary chief, Anil Kapoor, I was proud to be part of his team as he put Ulka at this high table.

Over the past decade, much has changed. Marketing itself, leave alone advertising, has lost its place at the high table of consumer businesses. Or so it seemed to me in my dealings with brand managers, CMOs and CEOs as a consultant.

A recent book by a marketing high priest confirms this…

At sixty-four, T.S. Eliot’s lines from his poem “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” resonate with me.

“…No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous —

Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

One of the few joys of the past pandemic-inflicted months has been walking. In the face of gym closures, endless Zoom calls, OTT binges, doom scrolling and the temptations of a well-stocked fridge, I have taken to walking for hours. Last month I averaged about 150 minutes a day!

One may walk by oneself, but one never walks alone. If lucky enough, one could be walking with nature, in the company of greenery, under the great blue sky, accompanied by birdsong and like.

I believe literature heralds paradigmatic change. Two books by contemporary masters -McEwan and Ishiguro — portend, I believe, the dawning of the Age of AI. Today’s post on my blog is my take on these two books — “Machines Like Me” (2019) by Ian McEwan and “Klara And The Sun” (2021) by Kazuo Ishiguro

Literature at its best is at the vanguard of paradigmatic changes in human civilization.

Dicken’s “Hard Times” portends both the misery and the promise of the Industrial Age’s right at its onset in the early nineteenth century.

Even a poet like Wordsworth voiced a shudder at…

The Coming Age of Concierge Intelligence

I believe one of the key directions that Artificial Intelligence will develop over the next decade is what I call “Concierge Intelligence”.

Concierge Intelligence will, to my mind, go a long way towards fulfilling the initial promise of the digital age.

The impetus for the development of Concierge Intelligence will come from two areas of strife.

The Divisive Power of Social & Digital Media

In societies across the world, there is a growing realisation that Facebook, Google and its kin are critical fuelers of fissiparous tendencies.

This power to divide is a result of…

At heart, I am an optimist, but the past few months have forced me to consider the possibility of a world gone awry.

Humanity’s last major, paradigm-changing upheaval — the two World Wars — played out over four decades — the 1910s to the 1940’s — with the echoes of the disruption lasting well into the 50s and the 60s. The 50s also saw the beginnings of a new world order emerging culminating in a world of rising prosperity and globalization lasting well into the first decade of the 21st century.

At the core of the conflagration of the two…

I read Wolf Hall the first of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy based on the life of Thomas Cromwell in 2010, an Englishman born a commoner in the 16th century. Cromwell rose to great power in the court of Henry VIII before meeting a tragic end — a chopped off head as many an ambitious person did in Henry’s rein including famously one his many queens — Anne Boleyn.

I found Wolf Hall fascinating in one unique way. It was the tone of the book. Without being in the first-person singular Wolf Hall captures the complex interiority of Thomas Cromwell as he…

Reproduced below is a post I published in the first week of Jan 2009.

The great recession of 2008 was raging.

Amidst which Obama was elected US President and despite the doom and the gloom I felt a great sense of optimism.

As a result I wrote this post which predicted a world that would change for the better.

And by some measures it did and in many others it did not.

Then came the age of Trump climaxing in the continuing horror that is 2020.

Will my optimism about the future return if the Biden/Harris ticket wins?

I am…

Ashoke Agarrwal

I see myself as a pursuer of the truth that within and without

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