Friday, December 10, 2010

Search for an "Aashiyana"

"Do deewane sehar mein, raat mein dopahar mein, aabodana dhonte hain, ek aashiyana doondte hain"
Its a famous Hindi song, which perfectly captures the state of anyone who is looking out for a house. 'Roti, kapda aur makaan' apart from being the gramophonic slogan of all our politicians and the overly used punch line of Bollywood, is after all, the basic human need. But the path of fulfillment of these basic needs is so not basic that you require an elaborate, extensive mental preparation before juggling around any of these.

Finding a house, is a project in itself. And by God! You can do your entire MBA internship with this one project. It involves requirement analysis, budgeting and financing, sales and marketing, negotiations and what not.... Its an extensive field job and extremely time and energy draining.Once you have taken that mental leap of undertaking this endeavor, your struggle begins. You start with requirement analysis - figuring out what type of accommodation you need and where you want it. It generally has 3 categories: must have, good to have and must not have. These form the basis of your negotiations at later stages. You also need to check your finances, which by the way will be taking a huge hit, even if you are looking for accommodation on rent rather than purchase. After that starts endless hours of research, both primary as well as secondary: primary by knocking door to door, which in today's scenario is knocking every apartment's security guard's door and secondary through realty websites, your company bulletin board and newspaper ads. And even after you have exhausted every possible mean, you find yourself with nothing. It is at this precise moment comes our middlemen, the brokers. Since you are left with no choice, you have to take their services, and once you do that you have to start the whole process again because not only you will find that your "must have, good to have etc." are distant dreams but whatever is being offered is totally out of your budget. In addition to that, you have to pay the brokerage which is so high that you would need a second job to pay that off. Then start endless negotiations at each and every step with virtually everyone involved in the process, including yourself. If you are a bachelor then you have additional work to do. Not only your bachelorhood marks you as 'unwanted' in many societies, but it also takes additional negotiations and at times additional financial resources to counter that. In short, you are screwed big time. In the end, if you find a house to your satisfaction then you definitely have over shot your budget by huge margin else you would be living in a place where at the end of the day you don't feel like going.

I have my criteria, but one thing which I know is, when I step in a house, the house speaks to me and if it is the one, 'the chosen one', I just know it by the feel of it. Till then my quest is ON....

PS: Guys, I am looking for accommodation in a specific locality of Pune..... anyone having any worthy information to share, please get in touch with me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Redefining - 4th Pillar of Democracy

Traditionally, Free Press has been considered the 4th pillar of democracy. This is because free press can keep a check on the legislative, executive as well as judiciary (in some sense) by influencing public opinion and can also help the legislative to remain connected to the people for whom it is forming the 'LAWS'. It is an integral bridge between 'the people' and the government. But let us try to find a logic in this all 'bridging' theory, after all this blog is called Logic :) Why is it the 4th pillar? The key is the bridge it forms. But its not the bridge thats important but its the purpose of the bridge that bestows it this significance. Its a game all about information. Yep, possession of right  information is the foundation stone of anything you can think of. Be it War, Business, Sport.... name anything. If you have the right information, only then you can think of proceeding forward. And that is the primary reason why Press is so important. You and me won't even know whats happening in the next neighborhood of the city if its not in the Newspaper or Television! But times are changing and I believe the time has come to Re-define the 4th pillar.

First of all, let me clarify, I am not talking about cleaning the press system, which like all systems is highly corrupt, biased and profit driven. Mark the last one - profit driven. Journalism as I see today is at its lowest and it has definitely not hit the bottom yet. Some might say, how can I say this? Personal experience. I have seen journalist blackmailing people. And its a very strange type of blackmailing. If you have done something wrong and then somebody blackmails you, its understandable. But if somebody just blackmail you for anything, its like, I have the power and I will write any crap about you and somewhere in the fine prints it would be mentioned that the media has not verified the story.... but the damage would be done. Similar is the present power broking story involving some of the big names in journalism. I am not saying everyone is same but on the whole the standards are falling. But discussing that is not the goal here. As its no surprise to me and I believe it won't be for any of you too.... we have become immune to all these. Nothing is unexpected for me now. Everyone and anyone can be corrupt....

But when I talk about re-defining the 4th pillar, its about the emergence of a new power. Remember, I talked about the importance of the 4th pillar is because of information. Well, its the basis on which the 4th pillar is defined and in the present context and present world scenario, I think Social Network, in the form of facebook, orkut, twitter, myspace etc, is the real 4th pillar. Just think of it. When the story of leading journalists being involved in power brokering surfaced, none of the main stream media even mentioned it. I was checking ToI, I checked ET.... there was nothing there... not even a 1 line mention of this! And my friends tell me that nothing was there on TV news channels! Isn't it strange....but definitely not unexpected, as now nothing is unexpected... But still the news is alive and where is it alive and why is it alive? Its only and only because of social network. And the good thing is, it can not be centrally controlled. Hence, its extremely difficult to stop it or tweak it. With time this pillar will only grow and become stronger. This is the shift in paradigm which is apparent to some but with time as broadband penetration will increase, it will become apparent to all. This is a moment of re-definition, which will re-define the basic human thirst of information and will change the entire social fabric.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Pity You Ms. Roy

I generally avoid commenting on a topic of which I don't have the full knowledge. And more so, I avoid to pass remarks on those whom I don't know and whom I don't understand. But I just can't hold myself this time. I feel disgusted with this lady's comments and her 'do-anything' to get the limelight attitude. Those who have not gotten whom I am speaking of, its Arundhati Roy, and what provoked me is her statement to justify her yesterday's remarks, which can be found at

From the days of Narmada to Maoist to Kashmir... Arundhati Roy has always been a lime light seeker. In the name of greater good, social justice etc etc.... she has always tried to project herself as the 'Defender of Justice'. And what has been her strategy? Pass some controversial remark so that you get media attention. If you don't believe me just do a background research on her and you will come to know how she has always done this. To rise against injustice is essential but to use the same as a propaganda even when there is no clear cut demarcation of justice/injustice, is gross. This is what she has been doing. When you speak against the government, you sell like hot potatoes in media coz they get to run their news channels 24x7 even when there is nothing to report, and you provide them a topic to call on a panel of experts who might themselves be as ignorant as any other person but who will give their comments as the Ph.D who has done complete in and out research on the topic. The media has always projected the weaker side as the sufferer, irrespective of justice and injustice, and in the process you become their Messiah! Be it Narmada, where Ms. Roy took side where majority of the cases were fake, or Maoist where she tried to rebrand them as martyrs or now Kashmir where once again she has outspoken herself, I find her credibility diminishing and raises questions on the sanity of her thoughts.

First of all, when you release a statement a day after your remarks to justify the same, it says something. It shows your desperation to justify yourself. If you believe them then why do you need to justify them?
And what crap do you use for justification! Let me quote directly from the statement,  

"I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore..." 
Dalit soldiers!!! what type of remark is this! Are you a politician now, trying to get the support of the dalit community for your statements? Or are you trying to create rift in our defense forces on the bases of caste and religion... Or there is no other soldier in the valley and the ones who are there have a badge on their chest saying, we are dalit soldiers! 

"Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer's husband and Asiya's brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get 'insaf'—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope."
Come to your senses Ms. Roy. Is this problem just restricted to Kashmir? I request you to please visit any nearby police station in any part of India and you will find there will be cases of rape and murder where justice has still not been done. So, should we all stand for 'Azadi'! Every village of India as a separate country. Is it a justifiable reason to give the type of statement you gave yesterday?

"I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones."

Have you even checked the credibility of this? Have you tried to find out whether throwing stones was the actual reason, if in any case this punishment has actually been given? I am sure you have not. In fact you it in Narmada or Maoist or Kashmir.... its not your area of interest. You just want the media hype. You talked to separatist and according to you, you talked to 'People of Kashmir', which I seriously doubt... but have you also talked to the soldier there. Have you seen what treatment he is receiving there. Well, I don't know about you but I have talked to some of the soldiers posted in Kashmir and they are the miserable lot, who are the punching bag of everything... who are told to restraint control when they are being open fired upon.... Have you ever... ever in your life.... raised you voice on such issues? 
"Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice.."
First of all, the mere fact that you can make such statements in public and then can pass a justification the next day speaks for the freedom we enjoy in this country.... the freedom you enjoys in this country. If it would not have been for this, you would have been deported to some dark corner of the country during Narmada only to be lost and forgotten with time.... So, don't pity my nation. Pity yourself for not appreciating what it has given you. Pity yourself for always complaining.....

Its always easy to point out flaws and believe me you can find flaws even in God if you set upon doing so. But the challenge is to find the solutions. If you want to contribute then contribute by providing solutions, which by the way, you have never done... have you ever come forward to support government in any of the schemes that it runs for the welfare of its people, the very people for whom you claim to fight for? I don't think so. For a change, use your intellect for constructive purpose to resolve the problem not to create another problem. But alas! I am sure you will never do it.... Because I significantly doubt your purpose, which I now believe is to get attention...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Love This Country

Its true. There can never be any land as adaptable and as acceptable as India. For centuries, many civilizations invaded it and each became a part of it. India is a land of opposites. Haven't you noticed it yet? You can find numerous instances of this.... From communal harmony to communal rites... From Forbes Billionaires to the largest poor population.... From excess rain to drought at the same time.... From capitalism to communism.... From tribal to ultra modern... You name it, we will have both versions of it.... But what caught my attention is the Headline in ToI: "SC lays down maintenance rules for live-in relationships". I was surprised to read in the article that government had created a Law in 2005 wrt live-in relationships! Live-in! If you are an Indian reading this, you would share my surprise..... We are talking about India, where even asking for condoms in shops is still awkward, where people still talk about sex as botany with flowers, where every minute some girl is molested somewhere but talking about it is a taboo, where insane people murder in the name of honor. And look what we have over here! We are talking about Live-in relationships. Its totally opposite. But thats what I love about this nation. We might be the only type in the entire universe.

Do read this article and see what exactly the court has said. They are recognizing the need of the hour.... they are embracing the change. I am neither saying anything about it being right or wrong nor I am going into moralities etc.... But what I am fascinated by is the existence of 2 such contradictory ideas in the same society and the ability of it to accept the both!!! On one hand there are law makers who openly endorse honor killing and on the other hand they only made the law which recognize live-in relationship in principle. Contradictory... but true... and both existing simultaneously. Now read the following statement that court has given: "If a man has a 'keep' whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and or as a servant, it would not in our opinion be a relationship in the nature of marriage,"... and... "The Supreme Court held today while observing that merely spending weekends together or a one night stand would not make it a domestic relationship". Blunt and straightforward.... and again its India! They are even talking about one-night stands in court of Law.... its really amazing considering its India where all such talks had been considered a taboo in the past and if I am not wrong then those were punishable in the court of Law.

But here we are. Changing with time.... but still having both the extremities with us. If you mix hot water and cold water in a glass and still find the 2 existing separately but together.... it would only be possible in India. It will make you love it and hate it at the same time.... Thats my India.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Snapshot from my past

Me to Amit (whisper): Oh no! Another abstract lecture....
Amit to Me: Look at Chintan.... He already seems to be getting the headache.
Me: Ujjwal and Uncle are better... sleeping in hostel...
Chintan: I should have also gone back to hostel....
Me: I bet that only Dhadda would be listening....
Chintan: He is an alien. How can you not sleep in any of the lectures!!!
Me: Especially of Prof. PR....
Chintan: ha ha ha... Saale how were you sleeping in his lecture today on the first bench.... there were hardly 30 students in the whole lecture theater and you were on first bench...
Me: What could have I done!!! He is irresistible. I bet he could win a Nobel prize in curing insomnia.
Amit: Gaurav was sleeping with his head down.....he didn't even tried to listen anything... Mast banda hai...
Me: Why was he in class then?
Amit: To rest.... whats better place to sleep than lecture!
Me: Yeah.... its better than the night long sleep. I feel refreshed after PR's lecture. 
Chintan: Look at Baba Ravi....
Me: He seems to be enjoying the lecture. And why does he keep shaking his leg even while sitting! Yesterday, I was sitting with him in lecture and man I felt that I was on train....
Amit: He does it when he is concentrating....
Dhadda to Prof: Sir, I have a doubt.......
Amit: What the heck!!! Doubt!
Chintan: Bhai, he is Dhadda.....
Amit: So what! if he is Dhadda, we have Aakash... Com'on Aakash ask a question :D
Me: Saale chup... Prof is looking at us.... u will get all of us killed!!!
(All made innocent faces.... Prof looked at us.... nodded as if in appreciation and turned back. Good reputation came to rescue.)
After 30 seconds
Me: I hate Wednesdays.....
Chintan: What happened?
Me: Its electronics lab today for me....
Amit(sigh): yeah... I hate Mondays....
Me: Because of EoP Lab.... ha ha ha... AR loves u man.... he keeps on looking for opportunities to have sweet little chit chat with you.... and if there is none he creates one.
Chintan: You are completely screwed man!
Amit: Yeah, but the problem is that I have reached that level that it doesn't even hurt....
Me: Yo Amit... finally you have recognized your true potential... the real Neo is here....
Amit: Bak mat mar....I am feeling hungry.
Chintan: Me too... But I don't want to eat that Brijwasi crap....
Amit: Lets go for Biriyani after lecture.
Me: Didn't u 2 go over there just yesterday for dinner....
Chintan: Oh ho... Amit, how many times have I told u not to tell Aakash this....
Me: As if I won't come to know....
Amit: How many minutes more?
Chintan: around 5 min
Me: 3 min....
Chintan: ha ha ha.... how do you keep track of even that.... Saale system number 2....
Me: Saale, don't put me in Avi's category... I can't compete with him ever... He is 'THE SYSTEM'
Avi: Somebody took my name....
Me: Nothing nothing... you look forward.....
(3 min after)
Chintan: Biryani?
Me: Nahi yaar.... Lets eat here only. And I don't like Biryani...
Amit: We will have that for dinner
Chintan: Arre yaar... m going to hostel then... can't eat that Brijwasi food any more... let me catch some sleep.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

IPOs/FPOs of Public Sector Organizations and Inclusive Growth

Its been a busy IPO/FPO market in India and with some of the biggest IPOs/FPOs yet to hit the market, things will only get busier. Among all the IPOs/FPOs the ones that will hog the limelight are the IPOs/FPOs of State run companies. Coal India Limited's IPO is presently under going book building process where its targeting to mop up Rs 15000 crore from the market. Other biggies that are lined up are MOIL, SAIL, Power Grid, ONGC and OIL INDIA. The government has to meet its target of Rs 40000 crore revenue through disinvestment. Nearly 35% of that will come from the retail investors. Its a whopping Rs 14000 crore!!! First of all I don't think RBI has to do much to control inflation after these offers as the liquidity will be sucked up to the maximum... But still its a huge amount!!! With the number of active retail investors in the market, it seems to be a bit difficult task. But, if you change the picture a bit and instead look at the population of India... this amount is well within our reach...

Its no secret that with India progressing the gap between the rich and the poor is widening as never before. This is not a financial issue but a social issue which if not addressed in time will destroy us as it destroyed the other developed civilizations in the past. The financial divide between the various sections of the society had been the catalyst of all revolutions throughout the history. And India is trading the same track. The need of the hour is to take the India Shining story to the last strata of the society which presently exists totally unaffected from it. Financial inclusion of every section of Indian class in the India Growth story is must. But the million or rather zillion dollar question is, HOW?

Now, just look at the IPO story in conjunction with the inclusive growth need. These might be mutual solutions to each other. All these state run companies IPOs/FPOs are value issues which have tremendous upside potential with minimal risk. They can be huge wealth creators for their shareholders in the long run. Moreover, they are government owned companies! So, if there is inclusion of all the social classes in these IPOs/FPOs there can be a win win situation for both the sides. On one hand these companies will get a broader retailer response, which will help them to raise the money with lesser trouble while on the other the retail investor can become a part of the India growth story through these companies. But the problem is to get these people to invest in these companies.

Indians inherently are more risk averse and conservative. Stock market is still a mystery to many. I don't have the numbers but I am confident that the number of retail investors in India is very minimal. None in my family invest in stocks! And here I am talking about a well off educated family.... When I told my Dad that I am going to invest in stocks his first reaction was, "People lose money in stocks. Its very risky.... Don't invest.... and if you have to, invest a little". I am sure the scenario will not be different with many of your families. And when we talk about inclusive growth then we are talking of encouraging those people to invest, who are much less educated and analytical and much more emotional. So, you can understand the gravity of the situation.

But how can this be addressed... Thats the question which we are looking to answer. The first and foremost thing that is required is to educate people and create awareness about the stock market and shares. For many this has to be done from scratch as I am sure that many might not even ever heard of stocks. Once the level of awareness will rise, people will shed their inhibitions about the stock market and more and more people will start investing in stocks. Coal India tried to involve its worker class by having brokering houses to educate them and help them open demat accounts. But its not enough... We need to scale it up to the national level where more and more villages are covered under such programs. But its easily said than done, isn't it? There can be an answer to that too. The banking system and Postal system in India has really made in roads to the remotest areas of the country. These can be leveraged to achieve our objective. Now, private firms might not be interested in doing this, but the state run organizations must make that additional effort to include the wider population of the country. In addition to doing road shows for institutional investors, these organizations can tie up with the banks or with the Indian postal department to conduct village level educative sessions for our target segment. If there is a will to do this in the government then logistics can easily be worked out....

There hasn't been any focus on this side and I don't think there is any proposal for the same with the government. But if there is anyone from a government agency reading this blog... then this might be one of the ideas that you would like to take up for implementation for the greater good.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Solving a Problem

How do you solve a problem? A stupid question, huh? Not really. I am asking you to think of the process that you employ to solve any problem. Not necessarily a mathematical problem but any problem, could be as simple as your weight problem. One thing which I have noticed while solving problems is, no matter what type of problem you are solving and how difficult or easy a problem is or whether its a business problem or your personal life problem, all of them follow the same process. This process can vary from person to person but for a person its the same. Its the way the person is trained to think or the way the person's mind work. The way a person approaches any problem does not change with the nature of the problem or the complexity of the problem but its pre-defined for him/her.

The first and most important step of any problem solving is to acknowledge the problem. Half of the problems in the world exists because people refuse to acknowledge the problems! Indian government refused to acknowledge that there is problem in Kashmir and then the things went out of hands. Lehman Brothers refused to accept the problem with its portfolio and it went bankrupt. This is the first and the most crucial step because it initiates the process and make you think for a solution.

But you can't find a solution unless you know what the problem is. So, the second important step is to define the problem. A problem has a subjective view. It appears differently to different people and each version might be as correct as any other. Defining a problem is a skill which can be developed with practice. This is that stage of your problem solving process which will impact the quality of your solution. Skilled problem identifiers can define the problem in such a way that the solution will itself become apparent from the problem definition.

Defining a problem correctly or rather appropriately, as there is nothing correct or incorrect definition of problem, will help you to decide the data that you need to gather to better understand the problem and find out the gap areas. But from where will you gather this data? There might be several sources available with you. You should chose the one that provides you the most relevant and reliable data. Relevance and Reliability are the crucial factors and you might need to make a trade off between the two.

Once you have the data, you need to analyze it to understand why the problem is there. You will be able to understand your problem better and will be able to trace out the reasons for the same, which will help you to define the solution. Once you have identified the gaps your objective becomes closing those gaps which will ultimately lead to the solution of your problem.....

But sometimes there are problems for which there are no apparent solutions.... Well, in such cases you have just 2 options left: either learn to live with the problem or change the rules which gave birth to the problem in the first place.... I prefer the 2nd one.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

3 Years Down the Line!!!

Has anyone ever asked you this - Where do you see yourself 3 years down the line? I am sure more than once you would have come across this question. Most probably during an interview. I have faced this question a number of times and each time behind that smile of mine through which I would be giving some hypothetical diplomatic bs, I have fought the craving to ask the questioner, What the hell do you mean by it? Better first tell me if you know where will you be in 3 years down the line and then ask me. Its such a pathetic question yet all interviewers are in love with this. Its a kind of a ritual that they complete by asking this question. But WHY!

I know the theory behind this question. Its to see how clearly you think/plan and if the job matches your long term career plan. Blah blah.... another bs. All you get from this question is how well someone has memorized the response so easily available on internet. If I am there then it means that I need that job... I NEED IT. So, I will form my answer to suit your liking. You know the concept of solution selling? Tell the customer what (s)he wants to hear. I will tell you what you want to hear. Its a mockery to the whole concept of interview.

I never prepared an answer to this question. I consider it as an insult to myself to do so. I don't know where will I be 3 years down the line and what I want to be 3 years down the line, that you don't want to hear. I want to be a billionaire, driving a Ferrari, living in a palace and being someone famous and important. And why wait for 3 yrs! I would like to have that just from next moment. Now, tell me who doesn't want it.... Don't give me, I want to be a Project Manager in 3 yrs time... If thats what you really want in 3 yrs... man, you are more pathetic than the question itself. But thats actually most of the interviewers want to hear. If you want a practical answer to this question, which actually is non existent, then boss, I want to grow at the rate fastest possible that you can offer me. This is the blunt truth, but you know what, you yourself are  not able to give me that rate through which I can determine my growth. Hence you won't like my answer. So the problem lies with you....

I never say any of these to anyone asking me this question. Partly out of courtesy and partly because I need the job... but whatever I wrote is what I believe in. I have also taken many interviews but I never asked this question except on one occasion where I need to confirm that this person would be committing a suicide by taking up this job, which I told him too... but it didn't affect my decision whether to recommend him or not. He was good and he needed the job, so I recommended him.... Its up to him then to commit the suicide.... But I swear to God, I hate this question!

Monday, October 11, 2010

We the Indians

CWG is at its peak with just 2 days remaining before the curtains fall. India presently holds the 2nd position with 29 Golds behind Australia. From the topic of this blog you might be misled. I am not going to discuss the run-up to CWG and the negative publicity that surrounded it. That you can find easily on net and that too in abundance. Nor am I going to tell you the story of our glittering past, which again has volumes devoted to it. This post is about something very peculiar that I have observed in this CWG....

As I said, we hold 2nd position with 29 Golds, but you know what would an interesting analysis be? To see the break up of these 29 Gold. The picture looks something like this:

Shooting Wrestling Archery Weightlifting Tennis Total
13 10 3 2 1 29

Did you see it? NO!!! Leave Tennis apart, that I will count as exception, and now look at the other sports at which we have won.... Yeap, there you got it :)

We Indians are arguably big foodies of the world.... We eat and eat and eat!!! We believe lot less in physical exercise and put on big tummies. So man! we are literally heavyweights of world's wrestling! Shooting and Archery are in our blood. After all this is the land of Arjun. And coupled with the fact that these 2 sports also require lot less agility and minimal body movement, BANG... We are Champions here too! I don't know whether its in our blood or in the water of our rivers but we tend to excel in sports which require more of body strength, especially the abdomen strength :p, and less of agility. If there is a sport where we have to beat somebody or hit somebody/thing with bullet/knief/axe/shoe or any other weapon, we might be champions of that too. Sports like gymnastics or swimming or marathon which requires agility and/or physical endurance... well, I don't need to tell our status in these areas... We are the laziest human race. We just hate to move our ass off the chair, better if its a bed instead of a chair. And probably thats why we are so good at mind games... thinking doesn't require you to endure any physical pain! Moreover, being lazy, its in our nature to find short cuts to everything... and in process... we beat the world in many gray matter competitions. When Obama asks the American children to tighten their belts for Indian and Chinese, I say.... Feed them rich spicy food, let them loosen their belts and allow them to doze off lazily... someday you might catch us. But sports! well we have proved our point to some extent in some events and in the others I don't think we will be able to prove anything for many years to come.... But we are Indians, so you can never be sure. We did something in Tennis this time and we might do something in Badminton too... so better watch your back.... and take my advise on "heavy" games... You don't stand a chance there.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Indian Middle Class and Entrepreneurship

This post is actually a comment to my friend Aditi's blog post, "Each One, Employ One". You can find this post @

I was posting this comment on that post but then it ran so long that I thought better make it a post in itself. Although I encourage you to read that post before reading this one but for those lazy or "busy" folks the gist of that post is what the topic of this post is. Aditi questioned the middle class for its inclination towards getting job rather than entrepreneurship.

Many of you might be aware of Maslow's hierarchy. Those who are not, can look it up in Wikipedia.

It is a psychology/motivational theory which says  that humans move from the base of this pyramid towards the top from one level to other as they achieve the parameters at that level. Although the theory is used for different purposes but here we can use it to understand why the middle class actually shy away from entrepreneurship.

Actually, this theory has strong critics as in practice a person can exists at multiple levels simultaneously. But whatever the case may be, there is one fact for sure that the bottom 2 levels of Physiological Needs and Safety Needs are fundamental needs which in any case should be satisfied. This is one of the primary reasons why middle class look for jobs rather than starting their own business. Jobs are safe... They generally satisfy the lower 2 levels of the pyramid. On the other hand entrepreneurship has inherent risks (this is also the most common argument that your parents would give you).

This can be understood using the following equation:
Income = Wages from job + Returns from Investments

The following equation should always be satisfied:
Income >= Needs
i.e. Wages from job + Returns from Investments >= Needs

This is the fundamental equation that determines your leverage. Your leverage is your freedom... It determines your risk appetite. Greater is the contribution of your wages in your total income, the lesser is your leverage and more dependent you are on your job for survival.

If you would look at this equation in conjunction with Maslow's theory then you would understand what I mean. And I believe this is the dilemma with most of the middle class and with our society in general. The more a person moves towards that level, where his/her dependency on job is tending towards 0 to satisfy his/her needs, the more (s)he is inclined to start his/her business, at least theoretically.

Some of my friends might not agree with me. But I am not saying that this is the only reason but it might be one of the possible reasons. And there are always exceptions, like Sid. Looking at this issue from this point of view, offers us a solution, where one can ensure that the lower 2 levels of the pyramids are satisfied first through your returns on investments and then you can jump into entrepreneurship. Chintan, I know you would say its a mental block than anything else. But its just a probability.....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Core Competency

We talk about this a lot, right? And at times without even understanding what it means. This is one of those jargon which you would throw just to show off that you can talk business or just to confuse people (as half don't understand what exactly it means). So how would you define this term? Is it something at which somebody is good at? Or is it more than that? Of course, if I am babbling so much then it would definitely be more than that. There are 2 criteria: Something at which somebody is good at and that something provide that person an edge over others. If it doesn't provide you that edge or so as to say, competitive advantage, over others then its not your core competency, no matter how good you might be at that something.

Core Competency is simple but difficult to identify. Its the first step in designing any strategy. Identify the core competency and then build upon that. Some do it other way round too, identify the opportunity in the market and then build your core competency in that area. But whatever path you might take, inside-out or outside-in, you have to deal with core competency.

It is a very important tool for any strategist. We use this concept in designing the strategies worth billions, shaping new businesses or realigning some. But all this is still limited to the business world. Have you ever given a thought, what is the most important strategy that you have to make? One that everyone should make but not everyone does make. Its the strategy of your life. Now, all those who have actually, ever, made a strategy for their life... even a rough draft... raise your hand... Oh! no one!!!! I guess so. But thats the truth. Many of my juniors ask me, what should they do for future? Should they take up a job... go for MS.... go for MBA....etc.. Few days ago my brother was writing SoP for FMS and he asked me what to write in that. I told him, write why do you want to do MBA (brilliant answer, huh :p) He told me he don't exactly know. Fortunately, I know my brother well enough, so I just helped him to find the answer by figuring out his core competency and his interest areas.

Its very simple. Again there are 2 ways to do it: inside-out and outside-in. In inside-out, first find out what makes you happy and what are you good at (because generally the things which you enjoy most, you are good at them) and then try to find out how they can give you the competitive advantage over others. For outside-in, first find out the opportunity in the market and then develop competency in that area (like there is huge demand of investment bankers so let me major in finance). But outside-in is risky for the reasons that you have to develop the competency and remember we are talking about you so that means changing yourself and there is a great risk that you end up doing something which you don't enjoy... which in the long run will make you in-competent as you might lose your core competency as this was imposed on you in one sense.

I was thinking about my own core competency. I figured out that I am good at solving problems, analysis and also a good learner. Moreover, I am highly process oriented. And not just am good at these, I love doing such kind of stuff. In some sense it also gives me competitive advantage.... So, these are probably my core competencies (told you, simple but difficult to identify). Now, I guess I should look for a suitable opportunity (read job) to augment these in the open market ;)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

I went for this movie yesterday. To be honest, I had above average expectations from the movie. But after the show, I was confused. Couldn't decide how did I like the movie. Strange. Generally there are 3 categories of movies: one you like, one you dislike and one which you say are average. But in my case, I was not able to put a category tag on this one. Let me tell you why.

First of all, this movie is not for masses. Its not that sort of movie that anyone can get a grasp of. ok, let me rectify my previous statement. You might be able to grasp the plot of the movie but only a selected class of people can really appreciate the movie. Why? Its like the Television show "Big Bang Theory". Although many laugh at Sheldon's way of speaking or on his habits, but you will laugh more if you also understand what exactly he is saying. Similarly, for this movie, I suggest you better take a refresher course on finance or capital markets in general because they do use technical terms in the movie which if you don't understand, you will not be able to figure out whats going on. Com'on the movie is called "Wall Street", so that much understanding is taken for granted. If you talk about the plot of the movie, its not out of the world. Its a average plot where they have tried to replicate Lehman's collapse and sub-prime crisis and then extend it with some Wall Street rivalry and comeback of a wall street's smart crook through some back gate. There is also some father-daughter drama. So, plot wise - Average. What is good about the movie is that "something" which not everyone will be able to appreciate. The dialogues are brilliant but to get the glimpse of that brilliance you need to fall in that peculiar class of people or go prepared. Secondly, everything can't be said.... One need to understand what the characters are trying to do. You need to understand their plan. The director has quite handsomely captured this.... the tricks and tactics of walls street. But again you need to be familiar with the basics to understand these as not everything is said through dialogues.

On the negative side, the movie is slow at times and loses the grip on the viewers. As on the personal note, I myself was not able to follow every dialogue. I guess, I don't fall into that "class" of people ;) But actually, it was not the problem of comprehension. It was the problem of hearing.... At times (and it happened many times) I was not being able to get what they said! Was there some sound problem? I guess no... It was INOX and it was not the first movie I watching there. Nor I am a newbie to English movies... but still it was that newbie feeling when you watched your first English movie in college and half of the dialogues went over your head because of accent. But still the little bit of which I could get, I liked that. Hope you won't face the same issue.

If you are a finance person or some stock market enthusiast, like Vicky or Sid.... the movie is for you. Enjoy the show!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And the World is Watching

Everyone is looking at India and that's because of 2 main reasons:
1. Of course, CWG
2. The Ayodhya verdict on 30th September.

While the first one has already got much publicity, its the 2nd one that will change every thing as we know, at least for a short period of time. First of all, I think its ridiculous to give out the verdict at this point of time. From 3rd October we have CWG and the whole world media is here. There will be so many foreigners in country during this period. Under such circumstances can't the court wait for 15 more days! Because I know for sure that there are insane frantic fanatics on both sides and what ever will the verdict be, they will create a havoc. Because thats what they want... an opportunity to create havoc. So, why to put life of people from other nations in danger? And then how will you conduct CWG under such circumstances?

I still remember the night when Babri Masjid was demolished. I was a kid at that time, 8 yrs old. I along with my parents and brother returned at night from market when our land lady called us out as soon as we entered the main gate of the house. The television was ON and on it was P.V. Narashima Rao with his sorry face saying something. It was 1992 with no present news networks or cable TV for that matter, hence news was slow to travel. I couldn't understand what was happening or what Narashima Rao was saying. But I could feel that tension in air. There was a fear in air... a peculiar unrest. As a child you tend to feel such things more than others. Well, I am afraid that same fear might again be created by anti-social elements after the verdict because who ever loses, they will not accept it as gentlemen.

Interestingly, I have been to Ayodhya once. Yes, I have seen this place from my own eyes. Its like any other Hindu religious center. But by God, what security! There were multiple security rings and if you had to go anywhere near the disputed site, where presently there is a idol of Ramji, then there were multiple body frisking. Near the site you could see huge, literally huge, size of a bus, bricks.... in pinkish color (if I remember the color correctly). These were brought to build the magnificent temple here. No where you could see any sign which would suggest you that there was once a mosque here. Somehow I feel, whatever may the verdict be, there will not be any effect on Ayodhya. It will still be the same, even if the whole country will burn, there might not even a scratch on Ayodhya. You might not understand why I am saying this, but if would have been to this place you would understand.

I wish, we could use this verdict before CWG as a display of our maturity and national integrity to the whole world. If everything remains normal after the verdict, with no violence... no bloodshed... it would be the strongest message we will be sending out to rest of the world - The true display of our Power. But I sincerely doubt that. Its not that I doubt the people of this nation. Its the gondas of this nation that I doubt, and you know who are the biggest gondas of our country? Our politicians. They will not miss any chance to take advantage of any slightest opportunity to create rift among people for their own benefit. And this would be a golden chance for many of them. But I still have hope. I hope that when the whole world will be watching us, we will be our best....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Waiting... Waiting... Waiting...

If you live in a country like India, where there are significantly more people than the resources to support them, then 'waiting' must have become a part of your socio-culture-economic life. It has got so much into my blood that I am confident you can find a 'waiting' component in my blood sample. I have waited in every possible place you can think of. Waiting for trains and buses is not being considered as waiting any more in my beloved country. I am sure all of you would have done that. But I have waited even for those services that market themselves as 'no waiting time'. Once I waited for 1 hrs at airport for my radio cab to arrive even though I booked it 3 hrs earlier. I have waited for 1 hrs for my order to be served in a restaurant when there was a huge queue outside and the restaurant required a quick turn around time for its own economic benefit. And what to say about couriers!!! They are moving into the trains and buses category, at least for me as now I expect them to be delivered after 10 working days. Waiting for your call to be serviced at helpdesk is also becoming commonly acceptable, but to wait for your own organization's helpdesk to service your call is still not that common. I waited 1 and a half hours over here too. Waiting outside toilets and bathrooms won't be new to those who have ever lived in a hostel. But how about waiting inside a toilet or a bathroom! Well, have some experience over there too...

In my opinion, if you don't have patience in a country like ours then you simply can't survive. It is a place where even patients at their deathbeds are kept in waiting. It is a place where Indian Standard Time signifies a totally different meaning. The present mess at CWG is also because of this little misunderstanding between us and rest of the world. We are on track, and I am ready to swear by anything, according to our Indian Standard Time deadlines, but I think the world didn't get our deadlines. They will come to terms in future (atleast after CWG). Interesting thing is that now some of my foreign clients have also started mentioning this on calls, "Guys, this work has to be done by 5 pm and please don't take it as your Indian Standard Time".

But leave all this. There is one kind of waiting which I hate the most and that is, when somebody gives you an appointment or schedules a call with you and then keeps you waiting. I have been waiting for past 1 hr 33 minutes now for one such scheduled call. And my wait is still on... on... on....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The After Effect

Wise always say, What goes around comes around.... Ok ok, I know, its no great saying but a song of Justin Timberlake. But the meaning lingers. It runs quite in parallel to sayings like, what you sow, you reap.... or... you have to settle your accounts in this life... blah blah... crazy stuff huh!Whatever it might be but something like that happened to me today.

I once did some work as a part of my B.Tech project. Frankly speaking, I simply love security protocols and how you can break some codes and make some unbreakable ones of yours. Thanks to Prof. Anish Mathuria for making this subject so extremely exciting. So, my B.Tech project was in that particular field. I did it under Prof. Manik Lal Das way back in my last semester in 2007. Now, as you might already know, engineers are a lazy breed. We avoid as much as we can till we can't. I remember the final semester when all of us enjoyed to the fullest... No lectures.. no exams... just a project with just 2 evaluations. So as expected everyone explored his/her hobby to the fullest and the project work was done only in the last week. Those who were little more careful did it in last 15 days :p There were always few exceptions like Pradeep Dhadda.

Now it happened that I was under pressure with little time left to cook something for my project. I had already broken 2 published security protocols as a part of my project but that was not enough for the panel. I needed to come out with something of mine own. I was having dinner with PD and he was going all ga ga on his project... Boy, he actually did work a lot. But in the background my mind was thinking of any unbreakable code which could atleast last for 1 week till my presentation... then suddenly I saw it. Just like in movies, although not that much clear but I did saw it. And when I went back to my room, after few hours I had my masterpiece. Wow!!! I had devised a protocol which I believe couldn't be broken for 1 week atleast. But I still had few doubts about its validity because no one ever had used the concept I was using in devising a protocol. It was the first of its kind. So, I took extra care of talking to Prof. Chatterji to get my concept verified. Ofcourse, I didn't talked about the code with him but about the mathematical concept involved in that. And there I had a credible alibi... If something would have gone wrong in my presentation I would have taken recluse in that. Well, thankfully my presentation went fine. Got A in my project. My work even got published in IEEE journal and then there was even a chapter in a book with my name as one of the authors which was published by Springer.... wooooo.... great stuff.... a feast which only a handful experience.

Now, its been 3 and a half years to that.... when today as I opened my mailbox I found a mail from the editor of IEEE inviting me to be a reviewer of their manuscript. He referred to me as an expert of the field of wireless communication, on which my project was based, and I don't know how but he was under the impression that I am a doctorate!!!! Dr. Aakash Joshi!!! Of course, I declined the invitation as I am no expert of the field. If this would have come after my B.Tech, I would have happily reviewed anything thrown at me then. But its too late now. MBA has spoiled me. Couldn't remember any of that thing now.... But it made my day in any case.... The work which I did 3 and a half years back is still, I believe, the most significant contribution that I have made so far..... And I am still basking in its after effect :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who can/can't drive

There was one very interesting news in today's newspaper. "Panic Drive: Woman hits 7 vehicles, injures 6". Well, when there is a headline like that, then how can you not read the complete article! For the interested ones following is the link to the article:
Though this can happen to anybody, but somehow I have seen more females involved in such heroic acts... I don't claim to be right... but its just my personal observation. I also remember a very interesting and hilarious video on YouTube.

To be honest, I am always a bit nervous when there is a female driver. I also remember the golden rule of driving... one of the very first that any newbie is taught... "Don't drive behind a car driven by a lady... if in case you must then be extra careful and watch for abrupt braking and turns". Forget car, even if there is a lady riding a bicycle, people, be extra careful. Those who know Lakshmi, would agree that ladies are quite capable of producing unthoughfully unimaginable impossible havoc even with bicycle :p

There is another interesting fact about girls riding which was recently brought to my attention. Whts the deal with stretching both the legs flying out from either side of your 2 wheeler whenever you apply the brakes or slow down! Guys, if you have not noticed this so far, then pay attention next time. You would be surprised how many girls do that. My personal stats reads more than 90%! And it looks like either they are doing skiing or are on the runway ready to take off.

Well, so much for girls. Some of the guys are also quite drivers. Have you ever noticed that dude flying on the streets... even amidst heavy traffic. Don't get angry on the poor fellow friends. He is only trying to live his dream.... Actually such guys always wanted to be pilots... but some how they couldn't. So, they took road as their runways... Poor fellows. Oh! another interesting fact about guys. Beautiful attractive girls in near vicinity helps tremendously in improving a guys driving/riding speed and style (definitely not in a positive sense). And some guys have that habit of cuts. Doesn't matter whether they are on 4 wheeler or 2 wheeler. I have a friend who has that "cut passion". The first time I sat behind him in his bike.... God, I remember that experience.... my heart was in my throat....but was fun ;) And the guy is a lucky son of god... he was doing the same stunt with another friend of ours on back seat when the bike slide and they both were in front of a bus. Luckily the driver acted on time... and then showered them with the general courtesies of MC, BC etc etc... Fun huh!!!

Its a very controversial topic as who can and who can't drive. But you have to agree on one fact.... the driving styles of girls and guys are quite distinctly different and both are capable of killing you.... so just be careful on roads.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Take a Deep Breath

"Its gonna be alright... Take a deep breath", I told myself. Took one deep breath... then second and by the time I took third one in... I was feeling better. With each exhaled breath, I was letting the -ve feeling go.... "Let it go.... let everything go...", I was telling myself. Its amazing how it works but it does really work! Whenever you are under pressure... or on the either end of your emotional side, just take deep breath. It restores the balance. But the ability to let everything go or as my brother would say "Way to Peace", is actually the underlining solution of everything. "Let everything go", isn't this also mentioned in Gita? I once attended a week long session of Art of Living in DA-IICT. There they talked about the "Prana" levels. "Pran" or "Prana" means life. Each one of us has Prana level which is associated with positive energy. There are several factors that affect the Prana level in some one. I remember 2 of them: air and water. So when we take deep breath, it increases our Prana level. Scientifically also, deep breath increases the O2 content in our body leading to "peace of mind". The other part related to let everything go, is a bit difficult. It requires a lot of deliberation and practice but its worth it.

Well, I am sure you all must already be knowing all this stuff. Even I know this since a long time. But its something which we rarely practice, if at all, even when we need it the most. The best place to hide a secret is in plain sight. This is one of those secrets. We all talk about suffering and pains and blah blah.... People start worshiping.... there is multi billion dollar industry of spiritual education based on this.... but what we seek everywhere is something which we already know. In plain sight. I am not a spiritual guru nor I intent to impart any spiritual thoughts through this blog. I just want to remind my friends of this open secret of ours, so that when in need you can put it in use.... Just take a deep breath.... give it a shot.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Art of Making Money

Money - the requirement of life. One is always short of this critical entity in one's life, isn't it? Well, at least I am. So, I was wondering what are the options available to me to bridge this fiscal deficit. In fact what are the available options with anyone. So, here goes the list:

  1. Start printing money yourself - Although the most logical option, but there are practical roadblocks.
  2. Rob a bank - This option is available for the adventurous soles around. Best of Luck!
  3. Have a richie rich relative? Start networking ;)
  4. Choose your friends judiciously. Please ask the bank statement before making friends.
  5. Ask your parents - you must be really needy.
  6. Ask (Beg) for raise - We all have tried this one... never works.
  7. Starting begging from anyone and everyone - Require really low self esteem for this one.
  8. Invest - Do it on your own risk.... u never know.... u can b a millionaire or a beggar in a night.
  9. Choose a wealthy single child as your spouse - I know Amit, what you are thinking :p
  10. Join politics - your white money would be more than enough for bridging the deficit. Black money would be surplus.
  11. Be a member of CWG Organizing Committee - Not everyone is so lucky.
  12. Start extortion business - There is already a huge competition here from underworld, Maoist etc... bleak chance of success.
  13. Make an application like YouTube and then sell it to Google - ha ha ha... what are the odds of that happening.
  14. Join some terrorist organization - Who requires money after that!!! If you want something after that, just take it.
  15. Work and work hard - then what... you will still be a beggar, but will not have any energy left to think about it.
 Well, I can only think of these many right now.... Please help me to find more options.... And also, m confused.... which one should I choose?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What is the shape of Earth?

'World is Flat', most of you must have heard this phrase and if you have been to any of the business schools then you ought to know what it means. Btw, I have religiously bought that book in my MBA days and with the same religious zeal I have kept it on my shelf (never been able to go beyond the first few pages). Coming back to this blog, the term globalization has been used and abused so extensively that few actually understand the depth of this term. Fewer still, actually know that there are 2 aspects of globalization: globalization of market and globalization of industry. Both of these, although related, are quite different. Globalization of market is concerned with the homogeneity of the customers of a particular market with respect to customers in some other market. By this I mean that the customer demands and needs in one market are same/similar to the that in the other market. Globalization of industry is concerned with how the industry align its value chain to take advantage of global opportunities which might exists beyond and across national boundaries. There are many driving factors for each of these forms of globalization, but I will not be going into that. What I will be talking here is today's headline - "Ohio bans outsourcing of IT projects by government departments".

Talking from globalization point of view, this is an anti-globalization move. US has been a big bully of globalization where in past it has threatened smaller economies to open their markets for US Corporations. In those days US corporations have been behind such moves. It was in their economic interest. But what is happening now is very interesting. Not only US is going against WTO norms but is also going against its own industry. Corporations are not really supportive of this and other related moves by the democrat government like hike in Visa fee etc. But leave all this apart. What is your opinion on this subject?

First of all let me clarify, its not necessary to hold a opinion on a issue. You might or might not have one. Fine. Nothing to be embarrassed about. But even if you don't have a opinion till now, and if you are from Indian IT industry, I guess your first reaction would be - its outrageous... how can they do it.... what will be the impact on us... etc etc... right? If you didn't reacted like that then believe me, you would be in the precious few. But hold on, lets ponder over this topic a bit more. Let us first discuss why do governments exists. Any government is quite similar to a very large corporation. As any corporation's objective is to create value for its stakeholders, every government has to create value for its stakeholders. The majority of stakeholders consists of the citizens of the country to whom the government is answerable to. So, in short, governments exists to create value for its citizens, to ensure their welfare. Going by this, what Ohio government has done is totally fine. Their people are out of jobs, so its justified that they find ways to get them employed. But is it not against globalization and the norms which US has set for others? Well yes, but so what? I will follow the rules which are beneficial for me and my people. So, what if you brand me hypocrite. Thats not my priority. And my friends, THATS the truth. If the same thing would be happening in India, would you not have expected the government to take similar steps? We talk much about globalization and Thomas Friedman call it a flat world, but the truth is, the world will never be flat. Not until you have the concept of country. As far as the implications of such move on Indian IT industry is concerned, well there will not be any significant impact. Why? Well, its an open market... you can't hold such policies for long else you will be India pre 1991. Its my opinions, you are free to hold your views and are welcomed to share in the comment section. BTW, there is also a poll on this topic on this blog. Feel free to vote if you want.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Success, Failure and Opinions

How do you measure your success or failure? Yeah, I am asking you. So think rather than just reading... Are these 2 sides of the same coin or are these 2 entirely different coins? Are these absolute concepts? Well, I don't know what are your answers to these, but as I am sitting here pouring whatever is coming to my mind.... I think.... I just can't define success or failure! I feel that my perception of success or failure is not my own, strangely, but its how others perceive my state as success or failure. But then I also believe that this is half truth. On the second thought I also feel that there is something inside me detrimental of my state. Targets!!! yes Targets.... I don't know about you, but I have always been driven by targets and if I achieve those then I got that feeling of success else otherwise. From my childhood to my present it has always been chasing something... in school - marks... on sports ground - the score.... in college - grades... on job - targets... But now comes the interesting fact. At the end of each of those targets there has been a rosy picture projected which, at least I, have been chasing. Good marks at school will help you to get in good college. Good score in college will help you to land with good job. Achieving targets at jobs will help to to get promotion. Well, as far as sports ground is concerned, it was about satisfying one's own ego... But above all, it was about social acceptance. So, here comes back my initial argument. Even the targets are about others perception of your success and failure.

The problem comes when there is a mismatch... mismatch in your targets... mismatch in motivational cherries at the end of targets.... mismatch in others acceptance and expectancy... I didn't give it a thought in past but something is happening around me which is forcing me to think.... think that its opinions that are weighing heavy... opinions, which, if you think calmly are worthless but still they are driving everyone around. Strange but that how we humans are... Social Animals... and no matter how much we try to cut ourselves off this crap, we will still be a part of it and there will always be a gravitational force existing between us and the rest (which considering the combined mass of 'others' would be infinite)... Does anyone know the way to break free of this? I don't know any, do you?

Success.... Failure.... and Opinions
Are figments of mind....
Like the figments of our imaginations...
Like the image of dreams....
Like the dreams of others....
Like the others perceptions...
Like the perceptions of success...
Like the success of failure....
Like the failure of opinions....
Like the opinions of none....
Like the none consisting of all...
Like the all except the self...
Like the self without a clue...
Like the clue hidden in blind...
Like the blindness of the mass...
Like the mass of society...
Like the society of opinions...
Like the opinions of failure...
Like the failure of success....
Like success... failure... and opinions... forming a vicious circle...