Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who wants to be a Millionaire???

Freida Pinto, the Latika of Slumdog said in one of the ‘Making’ of the movie that Slumdog Millionaire showcases ‘True India’. That was the point where all the phoniness surrounded reached the bottom most point for me. That was the point where a respect for the movie changed to a dislike for the movie.

For me, the craze for the movie started when it reached amongst the Top 250 of IMDB List. In addition, I had read Q&A by Vikas Swarup around 3 - 4 years back and had loved it. So was really keen to watch the movie. The movie was interesting though different from the novel – specially the end where the motive of coming to the show is entirely different and captivating in the novel. But overall, I enjoyed the movie – better than the regular movies that Indian film industry was churning out. But only better – how was it different from a regular hindi movie – apart from the background plot of a KBC setting. And how did the entire Oscars thing set in??

On one hand was the news of 10 oscar nominations for this movie and on the other was the rejection of a much more thoughtful movie from India – Taare Zameen Par. The success of Slumdog at an international level seems to suggest that Hollywood is getting so-called ‘Bollywoodish’ whereas Indian audience are waking up and appreciating the ‘hatke’ movies – the tag which was reserved for Angrezi movies. Or is it the India – the emerging economy effect – just like it happened in 1994 – 95 when focus shifted to the grand Indian market and there was a surge in the Miss World and Miss Universe crowns coming India’s way. Indian film industry is in focus this time with the sector witnessing huge investments by the biggies like Reliance. With it becoming more business rather than a starry affair – an opportunity for businesses to invest and be ‘millionaires’. 

Though it makes good business sense but something that goes against us is the branding. Seth Godin defines Worldview as the rules, values, beliefs and biases that an individual brings to a situation and Frames as elements of story painted to leverage the world view a consumer already has. (Basically another way to define Segmentation)

From the recent developments a dangerous proposition that is developing is that this worldview of the rest of the world about India is in a pretty bad shape and people are putting up frames to showcase that pathetic worldview. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009






And Set Free......

Monday, January 19, 2009

Organised Retail

The retail is booming in India. The present share of organized retail is hardly 4% of the GDP and is all set to boom with multiple malls mushrooming everywhere. It is expected that the organized retail will grow at 21% by 2015 where food, grocery and general merchandise being the leading category.

But the big question is that can it give serious competition to the 12 million retail outlets in India.

One of our Profs shared a rather interesting perspective. There is a limit to the extent organized retail can grow. This is because there are many positives of a small mom and pop store. First is the personal touch. In most of the cases, the next door kiryana wala knows you by face and over the period of time knows your choice. He needs no sophisticated IT systems to know this and that you cannot get at a big store – no matter of how much you improve the service delivery levels.

Another noticeable difference is the provision of credit. This derives from the above point only. Almost on each visit to my kiryana dukaan, I can see him giving off stuff without cash and writing in his small booklet about it which he collects at the end of a specific period. Yes, there are credit cards today but what about a daily wage earner. If a person living his life on daily earnings falls ill for a couple of days, he will have nothing to eat for those 2 days if our credit giving neighborhood retailer is not there.

There are scores of positives in favor of large, organized malls. As a consumer there are many schemes and offers whenever I go to a Big Bazaar but again ‘I’ am not India. 77% of Retail market still is in the 5500 towns and 6 lakh villages of India and the figure will be still around 60% in 2025. And as managers we need to know if someone is comfortable going to a big mall for small items or if there is a tendency of ‘impulse purchases’ (large retailers thrive on that) in smaller towns or if people prefer fruits and vegetables in a AC hall or from a cart which comes by every morning. 

*Numbers from a report by Tata Strategic Management Group

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hot, Flat and Crowded (Continued...)


5 Problems

1.       1.  Energy and Natural Resources Supply and Demand

-          This happens when the flat, connected world meets the crowded, highly populated world.

-          The demand increases by the emerging economies who are now well connected to know the kind of ‘American Lifestyle’.

-          2004: The reason behind the sudden spike in Oil Prices

o   Outside the wars, oil shortages were generally cushioned by spare refining capacity, spare crude oil and spare oil products inventory. All these acted as shock absorbers.

o   After late 90s and into early 2000’s the demand kept rising steadily and the shock absorbers kept on absorbing without increasing their absorbing capacity.

o   In 2004, all these shock absorbers disappeared. Secondly there was huge increase in demand due to China. (It was estimated that the global increase in demand of oil barrels would be around 1.5 billion. Actually it increased by 3 billion - 1 billion for China alone.

o   Further the cushioning could not take place due to:

§  Shortage of equipment and skilled labor

§  Russia squeezed out foreign producers – discouraging global and professional oil companies to carry out operations

-          Increase in Cost of Food due to rising oil prices

-          The energy and food demand has been artificially high and prices artificially Low in many countries like India. This has led to market distortions.

2.       2. Petro-Dictatorship

-          Huge wealth is being transferred from energy consuming nations to energy producing nations.

-          Many of these energy producing nations are headed by people who have not earned the leadership by building economies or educating people. Many are hardliners

-          E.g. Russia closed down natural gas supplies  to Europe to show its power. Russia didn’t get more educated, more efficient, and more productive. Instead Europe got more dependent on Russia.

-          Latest EU gas Crises:

o   Gas row flares as supplies to Europe cut 

o   Russia is testing the limits of its powers

3.       3. Climate Change

-          Earth’s temperature has risen and carbon dioxide levels are increasing day by day.

-          IPCC (which got the Nobel prize recently) says: Without a dramatic reduction in human induced carbon dioxide emissions, climate change may bring abrupt or irreversible effects.

-          Mantra for ECE – “Avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable”

4.       4. Energy Poverty

-          Electricity: even more important now because of the need to be connected to collaborate

-          E.g. In South Africa, the increase in sales of generators has been enormous. Businesses are failing and the lack of electricity is the biggest threat for starting up new businesses.

5.      5.  Bio Diversity Loss

-          Loss of flora and fauna is rampant in all parts of the world, especially in emerging economies. There will always be a struggle between growth (which you cannot prevent) and the natural resources.

-          Extinction of the #1 endangered species – Baiji (River Dolphins) in China was the tipping point for the author.

-          In addition, around 90% large predator fish and 20% corals are gone.

The current situation is like the proverbial frog in the pan whose temperature is being slowly increased.

After World War II, 3 main aims were:

-          Peace and security – for which UN was formed

-          Economy development – GATT was formed

-          Human rights – Uns declaration of Human rights

There was and still is blindness about environment despite Rio, Kyoto and Montreal Protocols. The need of the hour is to focus on these issues at top priority. 

Hot, Flat and Crowded

Recently I started reading Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman. The second chapter gives an outline of the whole issue Friedman is talking about in the book. 

There are 3 major forces prevalent presently which has ushered in an era which Friedman calls, Energy - Climate Era (or ECE) and these 3 forces are a cause for 5 major problems, ignoring which, argues the author, can be very dangerous.
The 3 forces are:
1. Population or Crowded
2. Globalization or Flat
3. Global Warming or Hot

1. Crowded
- Projected population in 2053 = 9 billion
o Mostly absorbed by developing countries
- Leads to
o Infrastructure problems
o Land Loss
o Water scarcity
o Anti – Social Elements – This is because issues like food, housing, education, unemployment will not be solved. That would lead to extremism
2. Flat
- Happening due to:
o Invention of computers
o Emergence of Internet
o Revolution of software and transmission protocols 
– called “Work Flow Revolution
- In China and India alone, 200 million people were able to move out of poverty after opening up of economy
- All this development, progress, growth creates demand – demand for energy, land, water, natural resources
- Also, this emits pollution – green house gases, Carbon dioxide.

3. Hot
- Industrial Revolution saw the emergence of fossil fuels (below earth fuels) which resulted in production of energy and emission of carbon dioxide
- Then came the Transport Revolution – cars, autos which further worsened these issues
- Next in line to multiply the effect was Urbanization.
- Earth has already warmed up by 0.8 degree Celsius (1.44 deg Fahrenheit) – compare this with a similar increase in the body temperature – A 2 – 3 degree rise in body temperature tells you something is wrong with the body – similar is the case with earth!!!

To be Continued.... 5 problems

The "New" Year!!!

The New Year indeed brought some new rays into my life. The 3rd day of 2009, which is being considered lucky by many (for different reasons like numerology, stars, planets etc etc) got lucky for me too as I got placed in Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL). The process lasted the day starting early at 8 and ending around 5 after which I found myself to be the chosen one!

It was an irony of sorts for last 2 days wherein the Oil PSU Officers were on strike. On one hand, the whole country, including me were facing lots of problems and on the other hand if the strike was successful in managing hike in salaries, it was me who would be getting the benefit. May be the ironical situation is more prominent because presently, I am more a common man than an IOC employee.

Going forward, time to set some new goals. Have atleast 3 things to look forward to. The US trip and preparation for that, alumni meets next week and an attempt at Enduro. Another attempt will be to update the blog more often and do some more work on the newly started MBA gyaan blog!!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What a Year!!

"2003 was one of the most important year of life – it was when I got my 1st job. 5 years later comes a more important year and I hope when I write a similar piece next time, it will be a ‘employed’ me who will be writing it. So here’s one to a 9% growth, Sensex > 25K and no recession (in US), Sachin in his usual form and India winning atleast 1 Test down under in 2008!!"

These were the words I ended my blog welcoming 2008. So how did the hopes for 2008 turn out?
1. 2008 will end with me being employed – Negative (Well!!!!!!)
2. 9% growth – Negative (PM/FM keep on reducing this each day)
3. Sensex>25K – Negative (sarcastic smile on my face)
4. No recession – Big Negative (Huh!!)
5. Sachin – Positive (terrific form)
6. India winning test down under – Definitely Positive

So it seems apart from cricket, nothing has gone right this year – the year which will be remembered for years and years to come. Fortunately, it has come to an end and we can always hope that the sun which rises on 1st January will, in some way or the other have some different kinds of rays – rays of change so as to say.
So as we wait for that different ray(s), I go back in time to see how my life turned out in this unforgettable year.

Exams started the year on a hectic note. It was followed by a trip to Mahabaleshwar - the first real excursion after coming to Mumbai. Many more were to follow.(In fact I realized that May and June were the only months in 2008 when I didn't travel outside Mumbai)
The Month also saw the famed sensex experiencing its biggest crash. The crashes on Jan 21(1408 points) and 22(857 points) are at the 1st and 4th positions of top 10 single day falls in the history of sensex. (Amongst the top 10 single falls of all times, 8 are from the year 2008!!!!)

The month started on a high with Rompy’s marriage – one of the top highlights of the year. It was further followed by the start of Bull Run of the year at S.P Jain B plan contest

The travelling outside Mumbai which had started in January carried on with a visit to Chennai where we landed with the winners prize at the toughest competition at LIBA.

April – the trimester end month shifted focus back to the completion of projects and presentations. The highlight was the re-Branding exercise which we did for Indian – complete with print ads, video ads, radio ads etc etc.

Start of Summers though I would term shifting to the new house as a highlight of the month. Touching the railway lines, it was a tough time initially to ignore the early wake up calls by the passing trains.
It was also start of 2 months of change in the body clock with early to bed, early to rise funda coming in.
Moreover, it was IPL time – the super hit tournament provided time pass for 44 non stop evenings.

Summers continue. Lots of walking around in the sun and lots of sugarcane juice. All this meant loss of all extra flab. In addition started the real good gymming sessions which continued non-stop for more than 3 months.

Back to college after a long break. Start of a new year and new trimester. The trips continued with beautiful malshej ghats on the itinerary this month. In addition, it was SFM pressure – the one of the very few subjects or rather teacher which was able to add value in the 2 years of MBA.

The highlight for the country was Abhinav Bindra winning gold at Olympics followed by more medals by pugilists. Personally, the highlight was rappelling – one of the things on the bucket list. The place was kasara this time around.

Trimester end month again. Wonder how the time passes quickly. It started with a weeklong trip to Bangalore for placement visits. Meeting some friends after years!! Exams towards the month end.
The last exam found us discovering a new place to hang out – Rooftop. It was also followed by a trip to Chandigarh after 5 months.
September also marked the collapse of Lehman Brothers – which was the trigger point of a global collapse. Any positive sentiments there in the industry were laid to rest for good.

Passing away of Nanu – saying goodbye to the uptight moustache, finger handshake and the indomitable spirit.

The month started with a high of IIM Indore competition, Anki getting married and Lolly getting engaged. But ended with one of the worst tragedies in the Indian history – attack on Mumbai and experiencing terror from close quarters.

The start itself was a fantastic one – an invite to go to the US of A for a competition. Bull Run which started in Feb 2008, getting set to reach its pinnacle in Feb 2009.
December also belongs to the KIRDSS and the placement anxieties. The fall of the job market and the rise of the friendships. And ya it was also the trim end month – any one notice that ?? Hardly..

Looking back at how my wish list of last year was screwed up, I am tempted not to voice my hopes for new year this time around. Just hope that whatever happens, it happens for good.