Showing posts from 2010

Record Diwali Sales

Diwali has been traditionally a time of splurging for Indian consumers and companies look forward to this period.Last two years were subdued with the cloud of Lehman hanging over.This year the sun sparkled like never before.Most businesses have had a bumper time.There have been unprecedented sales of consumer durables,gold,cars,apparel and even DTH connections.A DTH company executive,I spoke to,revealed that they had signed up 40% more connections over last year in one month.Value retailers like Vishal and premium appliances both have never had it so good.The article below from ET gives an idea of the buoyancy sweeping the market.

Diwali retail sales rocket to new highs, up almost 80%KOLKATA|NEW DELHI: Retailers, carmakers, jewellers and other consumer goods and services companies have reported highest Diwali season sales, as consumers went on a buying spree across the country except in Punjab, where floods dampened demand.

Companies reported year-on-year growth ranging from 20-80% th…

Commonwealth Games 2010

CWG 2010 had its share of drama - bungled preparations,a redeeming opening,some excellent Indian performances and organised chaos that is typical of India.The media went from despair to euphoria and the usual target was Kalmadi.But 'Business Standard' possibly had the most balanced and objective take after the event.

Heads must roll

Games ended well, but all was not well. 
Business Standard / New Delhi October 18, 2010, 0:36 IST

India’s sportspersons have every reason to be proud of their performance at the 19th Commonwealth Games. While not too many world and Olympic records were broken, the impressive performance of Indian sportspersons, especially women, has done the nation proud. Kudos also to the organisers of the events and to Delhi police and security forces for their handling of security and traffic management. New Delhi was not the chaos many feared it would be. The opening and closing ceremonies were competently handled, even if the telecast was poor and the show failed…

The Crisis Knocking on Our Door

The Indian society is in a crisis – a deep and pervasive moral crisis. For a very religious country, where the average individual spends an hour in propitiating Gods or listening to assorted Gurus on good conduct, this would be funny if it were not so tragic.

The Indian society has three types of people. The bureaucratic, political and business establishment which indulges in unabashed loot of the exchequer and public resources is the first type. The second group is the self-absorbed who cocoon themselves in their own worlds and ignore everything outside .The last is the silent but frustrated sufferers -this is the group which may be seventy per cent of the population which bears the full brunt of exploitation and relative inequality widening away as the elite plunder or cynically manipulate rules and the law. This group lives on less than ten thousand rupees of monthly income for the household and in many cases does not have enough to eat or has very limited or no access t…

Inflation and the Case for FDI in Retail

As the debate opens up again for FDI in retail, it is interesting to examine the contours of the issue.

As things go,only 51% investment is allowed in single brand retail and 100% is allowed in wholesale operations.Almost no one, not even the opponents of FDI have any argument against the economic benefits of FDI. The reasons are political. The ICRIER in its report had strongly and staunchly enunciated the benefits of FDI and the fact that it has had manageable adverse impacts in emerging countries. The reasons for opposition are political and it is good fodder for the press.

But the question is can any country manage without a large organized retail and can any emerging country do it without FDI?

The Government has woken up to the fact that inflation is a monster that can be tackled only by efficiency and productivity. With the world economy likely to remain vulnerable for some time, sustaining fiscal deficits is not the answer. The Indian interest rates are also high enough to make the…

Roots of Denial

In a recent discussion on TV after Mamata’s triumph in the municipal elections, the Trinamool spokesman Deerk O’Brien kept on saying to several points the CPM spokesman raised that the communist were living in denial. We see denial every time when seemingly intelligent people refuse to see the truth. The latest scientific studies suggest that denial has its origins in power play and emotions.

1. Most denialists deny anything that they cannot see. Their vested interest survive because of this denial. For example, the society has denied global warming (as long as it did not see it directly),keeps denying evolution and earlier denied harmful effects of smoking. These denials serve to perpetuate the old mindsets preserving established interests.

2. Most denials are based on emotions and anecdotal evidence. So there is no rational study or assessment of evidence but the mere occurrence of event is touted as causality. Human beings also tend to react to emotions and thus it is fertile ground …

Artificial Life

Dr. Craig Venter, Dr.Hamilton and their team have achieved something which will profoundly alter human life. This is arguably one of the most important milestones ever in human history. They have created a piece of DNA with about 1000 genes with laboratory chemicals. This is artificial, conceived through a computer programme and this organism can replicate on its own.

There is exciting research in biology happening in several other laboratories and this breakthrough will only accelerate the process of creating synthetic living organisms. A day when artificial large animals can be created may not be very far. This also challenges our conventional notions of life and religion.

The experiments on recreating ‘Big Bang’ in Geneva are also likely to unravel the mysteries about the origins of the universe. That will be another giant step for science and make our understanding and interpretation of life more complete.

But the most fascinating thing in this is the fact that Man, a product of evol…

Lessons from HDFC and Bharti for Retailers

The beleaguered retail sector in India needs to look no further than the story of mobile telephony and housing finance for inspiration. India’s retail sector is still listless and its people frightened even after several industries have revived and the economy sizzles back to a 8.5% plus growth rate.

HDFC started in 1977-78 when the concept of housing finance was well-established in western countries but barely understood in India. It found it difficult to raise funds, had a disastrous IPO and lost money for a few years. The share quoted below the offer price for a long time. But it stayed on in the game and slowly the tide turned, first due to the underlying demand and then the liberalization in the financial sector. Today, it has a balance sheet size of more than two lac crores with its housing finance, mutual funds, insurance and banking businesses.

Bharti had difficult initial years, there were losses but it persisted. In just more than a decade of being in the game, it is a true su…

Great Stories in Time 100

The ‘Time 100’ for all its American slant and shortcomings always manages to showcase some extraordinary people. The current list has legends like Oprah, Bill Clinton, Obama, Jobs and Elton John who have exercised enormous influence on millions.

It also features the Brazilian President Lula, who started working after fifth grade to support his family, worked as a shoeshine boy, lost part of his finger in a factory accident and then at 25 watched his wife Maria and child die during pregnancy. Now he steers Brazil to a new high. Judge Sonia Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 8, lost her factory worker father at 9 and with her trail blazing work has now been nominated to the US Supreme Court as an associate justice, the third woman in history and the first Latin American.

Fifty years ago, nobody gave Singapore a chance to survive and almost single-handedly, Lee Kuan Yew has transformed it to a leading city-state. Kissinger calls him the finest strategist in the world.

Elon Mus…

Indian Tamasha League(ITL)

Periodically, the Indian public is treated to some sumptuous plays in the theatre of its public life. The stage is the media. There is a new and exciting play in town.

It is called IPL. It is a definite blockbuster. The story is fast-paced and interesting with dramatic twists. The dramatis personae are a motley lot. There is a suave minister with an attractive lover. There is someone with a doubtful background who has managed to create an extraordinary brand but with opaque deals. There is the ruling party, its ally and the assorted opposition.

The opening salvoes in the play were fired on twitter and then there is a slanging match between the opponents. The other players like the opposition, the Government enter the arena quickly after three days and all hell breaks loose. The first protagonist is sacrificed and his erstwhile camp commences a barrage of attacks against the second protagonist. The play is now in full swing with the IT department, the Enforcement Directorate, BCCI, Shi…

Hockey in India

The World cup Hockey has given a great fillip to the sport in India. The average sports lover discovered that Hockey is alive and can be exciting. The slightly more evolved sports fan got an opportunity to see truly outstanding Hockey.
The threats by Al Qaida were psychological deterrents in the early part of the tournament. But as the tournament progressed, we saw enthusiasm picking up and the crowds in the stadium were as vociferous as possible even when India was not playing. For some inexplicable reason,Germany was a particular favourite of the crowd. In the stadium, I heard ecstatic cries of ‘Deutschland’ whenever Germany touched the ball in their matches.
The Australians were fast and skilful. The Germans displayed tremendous organization. The Brits were the surprise package. The Dutch showed power and excellent long-range passing Hockey.
The Indians played Hockey with excellent dribbling in patches. But the lack of consistency and weak technical skills did not enable them to prog…

The Second Half of Life

The excessive length of life is a phenomenon of the last hundred years. In the early twentieth century, the life expectancy of an American was around 45 years. In 2007, it was 78 years. The life expectancy of the average Japanese is 82.6 years. Today, only a handful of African countries beset by poor health services and AIDS have life expectancies of below 50.

This throws up peculiar challenges for human beings. The concept of retirement at 58 was developed when life expectancies were around 65 to 70.Now many people are left with a substantial part of their life after retirement.

Many lose their bearings once they stop working and deteriorate both physically and mentally. Indians turn to spirituality. But this is not the answer.

It was Drucker who explained that after even two decades of doing the same work, many retire on the job,much earlier than the official retirement age. With empty nests and no satisfaction from work they also find their lives meaningless. But there are people …

Management Skills and Indians

In a recent alumni meet of the engineering college that I studied in(NIT, Rourkela),we had organized a talks by alumni and external speakers. The gathering was given a jolt by Anand Pillai of HCL ( a brilliant speaker) who spoke on talent transformation.

First, his earnest call to make the degrees come with an expiry date made everyone sit up. I agree with him. Peter Drucker had a point to make on this – he said that knowledge is different from other resources because it dissipates and becomes irrelevant soon. The turbulent times that we live in ensure that the really important knowledge becomes outdated faster with rapid advances in understanding .So degrees received twenty to thirty years are probably useless from a current relevance point of view. We see this in our organizations when very senior people talk in a language that nobody else understands.

Second, Anand also mentioned that a recent Gartner research has shown major drawbacks in the Indian technical and managerial talent…