25 Dec 2011

How Emotional Are We Humans Really?

I was reflecting on the Sharad Pawar slapgate incident. Now, this is not the 1st time he’s been ill treated in public. Do we remember the ICC Champions Trophy some years ago when the Australian Cricket Team pushed Pawar off stage in public? He laughed off the ICC CT incident. A lot of us were outraged at that incident, but were delighted slapgate occured. Now while we despise Sharad Pawar, a lot of us secretly want to be like him to a small extent. We do not want act unethically, but we have to doff our hats to the guy who has his fingers in almost every business in the country (and a lot outside also).

Sharad Pawar slapgate
The differentiator, dear reader, is emotion. Ever noticed how we humans get carried away by something that delights or infuriates us? We’re either over the moon celebrating or up in arms dropping everything else. We have witnessed numerous instances of people taking to the streets, burning effigies and holding demonstrations for bad performances by cricket teams, players not being picked, poor umpiring, etc. Sharad Pawar’s minions and sycophants conducted such protests when slapgate occurred (surprised they didn’t go to Australia and protest the team’s behaviour towards Pawar saaheb), but did we see Pawar even bat an eyelid?  Richard Thaler, in his book NUDGE, states that very few humans respond to incentive while making a decision, while most of us react emotionally. James Brauer, in an excellent article here, says that the best way to have our idea shared is to appeal emotionally to the audience. Often, he says, people share content if they have emotionally connected with it. The best marketers manage to have their products sold by connecting emotionally with their target groups. So that means that we focus less on actual matter and more on emotional appeal. I wonder, is that how it should really be?

18 Dec 2011

The 'Namma Metro' Journey...

Last week I had been to Bangalore to attend a seminar, which lasted 2 days. I was scheduled to leave on the evening of the 3rd day. That day, I got a chance to experience the recently started Bangalore Metro railway service. This Metro, christened as ‘Namma Metro’, is a JV between the Government of India and Government of Karnataka. More info on the service can be found here.

My friend and I had to meet a friend at Baiyapanahalli, which is the last stop of 1 of the two Metro lines. We boarded the metro from M.G. Road and reached the destination. There were 8 stations in between. There, our friend conveniently gave us kalti (left us hanging in the lurch) & apologized saying he wouldn’t be able to meet us. So we took the next train from Baiyapanahalli and came back to M.G. Road.

The experience was awesome. The stations are really cool and clean. They’re well covered and have a 1st world country feel; well, so do the trains. All the stations arrive on the left side only, which saves passengers the trouble of wondering which side the station will arrive on. Passengers were not many, since it’s been just 2 months since the service has started. The doors open in unison, stay open for about 20 seconds and then the train leaves. The initial movement of the train does give a slight jerk and those unprepared might be thrown off balance, but that’s fine. Each door is manned (also womanned) on each station by a guard. The stations are relatively close to each other. It feels good to see yourself tower over the city and bypass daily city traffic. The toughened plastic glass windows allow you to have a good perspective of the city. There is not a lot visible; just buildings, and roads sometimes. But gardens etc. are barely visible as the walls on either side of the tracks are a little high too.

The journey felt great. It was the best train journey of my life; albeit the collective time taken for the journey to and fro was about half an hour. I felt like a kid again; excited and smiling all the time. What’s also commendable is how well the Metro system is planned. Tickets are circular plastic coupons which we have to deposit in the machine while exiting. Those tickets will be reprogrammed and used by other travellers, which ensures zero wastage. Plus, there is no way one can skip a ticket machine, as all the other exits are sealed. I felt proud to see this service in our country and I applaud all the partners who have got it working. I hope the service, whenever it starts in Mumbai, is just as good as in Bangalore, if not better. All you people should try it once, even if just for thrills. Below is a very simple video, I shot showing snippets of the station and the train. I don't know what happened to the voice; guess we'll have to make do without it.


4 Dec 2011

5 Ways To Get Better At Blogging & Twitter...

How many of us want to have good presence in the social media world? Well, I’m sure most of us. But how many are successful are achieving the targets set? Compared to the number of social media users out there, they’re very few. We don’t quite get the hang of Twitter, comment on others’ blogs and wait for some of them to return the favour... But there are more concrete ways to power up one’s followers online (be it blogs, Twitter, Facebook and even on Youtube).

Purvesh (His Blog & Twitter handle @PureWaste) is one personality who knows how to leverage the power of social media to work for him. His 500 followers on Twitter may not be similar to the 3 – 5000 others have. However, considering that he spends more time offline than on the internet, he’s built a good base for himself on social media. The quality of his followers on Twitter is excellent. Plus he gets more hits and comments on his blog in a day than I get in a week. Let’s take 5 tips each on how to build our blog and Twitter networks from Purvesh:
"BLOGGING: Blogging is a passion. I look at blogs as a mode to rest and recuperate. Being an occasional blogger, I prefer to maintain a personal blog, although I have a speciality blog as well. A few tips from my side purely based on my blogging experience:

1.) Categorise your blog: When you start to blog, be clear as to what you want the blog to communicate and who would be the target audience.  In other words, categorize your blog. It could be something like a personal blog, or a speciality blog.

2.) Maintain your style: Every writer has his own style of writing. Some use long sentences. Some use short. Some use complicated language. Whatever be the case, stick to your style. With this, the reader knows what to expect from you.  But if you are new and want to establish yourself first, then keep your language simple. Use short sentences and simple language. Maintain a flow too.

3.) Blog at regular intervals: Do leave your blog unattended for longer period of times. There is no right regular period, but as a general rule, blog at least once a month. If you are a professional blogger, the frequency may be higher then.

4.) Publicize your blog: Your blog doesn’t exist if people don’t read it. Use other forms of social media to publicize your blog. Use Facebook, Twitter and blogging networks to publicize your blogs and generate traffic. I generally also use blogadda and indie blogger too.

5.) You get what you give: To get something, you first have to give something! This here means that read what others are blogging about and comment on it. And in no time, will you see that the traffic on your blog too increases multi folds.


27 Nov 2011

Saurabh... A Salute to Your Courage...


The tea stall is below my office. I visited it at 7 pm one evening. I took a wada pao (Indian burger) and sat down to eat it. The sun had set, the lights had come on and it was reasonably dark outside.

There he sat. In a dark corner, all alone and lost in thought. I recognized him as the new boy who had started working at the tea stall. Then I saw it. The unmistakable imprint of tears on his cheek (even though it was dark). I asked him what happened but he said nothing. Just to give him strength, I told him not to worry as all works out in the end. And then he broke into tears. However, he didn’t cry aloud. I asked him his name, and he said Saurabh. I asked Saurabh if he wanted to drink tea and talk to me. But on the contrary, he immediately drank up his tears and grief and brought me a jug of water and a glass. Asked me and the other people there if we wanted tea... as if nothing had happened. I was awed by his courage and asked for a cup. It came promptly. Then, he retired to the dark corner and was lost in thought again.

The next day, Saurabh was in high spirits. I asked the owner of the stall what happened the previous night. The owner said “Usse maa ki yaad aa rahi thi.” (He was remembering his mother).

We sometimes feel miserable about the lives we lead. But Saurabh’s life is worse. Left his family in UP to come here, work, earn some money and send it back home. He lives with 5 other people in a one room kitchen, works at the stall from 9 in the morning to 8 at night, and then does odd jobs in his spare time. But as I look at him, he’s still smiling; braving all the odds and still dreams of making it big someday (a dream I hope is not shattered). There are many Saurabhs like him out there. They teach us life is a lot simpler if we choose to make it. They teach us to be brave, to face whatever comes our way with courage and bravery. This post is dedicated to the thousands and millions of Saurabhs out there. We are honoured to know you and learn from you. We salute your courage and resilience.

21 Nov 2011

My Yamaha RD 350's Restoration... An Impossible Task... Or Was It?

It all started with the desire to own a new bike. I was going to receive a substantial amount of money as an incentive from my company, and I had zeroed down buying the Hero Honda Karizma to replace my aging TVS Fiero F2 for a thrilling ride. As the time to receive the money drew near, I started looking for a showroom to buy the bike from.

And then it happened... My friend allowed me to spend 5 minutes with the all famous Yamaha RD 350 – the bike I had heard so much about! But I never really had the chance to experience what the ‘fuss’ was all about. I don’t think I need to rave and rant about the exhilarating experience I had – we all remember our first ever RD ride, don’t we! The intoxicating drone of the twin exhausts, the backward thrust felt when I accelerated (mind you, I was literally nursing the RD around; I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect), the respect given by people playing cricket on the road when I approached by voluntarily giving way, the concern evident on the owner’s face when I returned after a good 5 minutes; all were a part of the awesome experience. That was the moment I knew I had to have one.

The hunt for an RD which was not in pristine condition started in January 2007. I did not want to own a spanking machine right from the outset since I had seen many RD owners simply waste the machine away because of the so called ‘troubles’ they suffer at her hands. ‘Troubles’ are only faced if one does not treat her like a high – maintenance mistress and regularly give her what she needs. And one of the most enjoyable parts of having a mistress is the period of courtship; or so I am told. That is why I decided to lay my hands on an RD which needed some work to be done on it along with demanding me to roam around looking for good quality parts which would make their way onto the bike. RDs had started costing anywhere between a good 30,000 – 45,000 rupees and sellers were attributing it to the DHOOM phenomenon. I was prepared to wait it out and ensure I lay my hands on one which would cost below 25k.

Finally, in April 2007, I found her. The RD was not in the best of conditions (quite appalling, actually) and had been standing still for above 5 months. However, 3 kicks and she lazily came to life. My friend who accompanied me is an expert on RDs and told me the bike did not respond the way an RD should under heavy acceleration. However, RD prices were soaring at almost twice the inflation index and I was beginning to get concerned. The owner settled at a figure of 20,000 bucks and encouraged me to get work done on it; of course he would, he had still not gotten the papers transferred onto his name. I still followed my instinct and went through with the deal. I now owned the bike; all I needed to do was to ensure she would end up in the condition she deserved to be in.

17 Nov 2011

India's New Generation Impatient?

India’s economy is growing at a record rate! All business channels are talking about India’s ROBUST CONSUMPTION STORY! The young Indian is unafraid, impatient, knows what she wants and gets it! That’s because Indians have started earning good sums of money. And those Indians want to spend on luxury, enjoyment; on what they deserve. We Indians are living up to our expectations! We’re buying expensive gadgets, going on expensive vacations, compromising on nothing less than elite brands for perfumes, clothes, electronics, mobile phones, laptops...
There are 2 concepts in economics – Conspicuous Consumption & Conscientious Consumption. The former is applicable when brand equity overshadows value for money as buyers want to be seen using snob value goods. This was applicable in developed countries until recently. However, it’s now more applicable in India while the latter (conscientious consumption) is applicable today in developed countries. Conscientious Consumption is when value and functionality of goods have more weightage in consumers’ minds than the brand.
People today are encouraged to buy more than they can afford because of loan schemes being offered on everything. So we buy all we want, keep paying off the loans and live on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. But what’s the ulterior motive in this?
We shell out dollops of our hard earned money to buy things we want. We seemingly take pleasure in using high quality commodities thinking they provide respite from our mundane work lives. The big guns (politicians, big industrialists, etc.) are covertly having the media drive into us the logic that we can buy expensive iPads, cars, Sony BRAVIA TVs, etc. to enjoy the spoils of our earnings. This, we’re made to believe, will make the frustrations at work feel worthwhile. But whose coffers are these filling? The sellers', loan providers' and invariably - through various taxes - the government's. So who thinks they’re richer? We. But who actually grows richer? Those people suck the money out of us.
This logic gets me to another point. In the desire to own more, we start putting up with all sorts of crap. True, we hop jobs… but we’re still working for others. This yearning for money to buy more ensures we do what the higher ups want us to, the way they want us to, when and how they want us to. Some of us try being entrepreneurs, but how many of us seriously risk all we have for something we’re passionate about? The fear of losing it all has been instilled in us. So we toe in line and do not venture off in directions which might make it hard for corporates to retain talent for less. This is the same reason why the education curriculum does not get revamped either. They (politicians, big industrialists, etc.) want us to retain the mindset of learning all we NEED to for a JOB. We focus on placements, salaries, etc. We continue doing work they have chalked out for us to fatten their pockets. We are exposed to redundant educational curriculum to ensure we learn doing things the way they were and are being done. Innovation is barely ever encouraged, unless it makes money for the big bosses.
We’re being conned gradually, and we don’t even know it. The bigwigs don’t want us to think. They act like they’re offering us a lot of freedom, but it’s all well orchestrated. We spend; we make money for banks, industries, the government. Savings in U.S.A. have come down drastically from 8% of the GDP some years ago to less than 0.5% now. The repercussions are that the average American is $22,000 in debt. All this leads to rallies like Occupy Wall Street. The format is now pilfering down to us. Are we prepared to see the truth the way it is? Or are we going to learn the hard way! I guess only time will tell…

7 Nov 2011

Seems We Humans Are Living On The ANIMAL FARM!


Read the book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell? Animals on Manor Farm can think for themselves and talk. They decide to rebel against the injustice meted out to them by humans. They succeed in taking over the farm and think life will get better. It does, for some time. Enter politics and vested interests. The pig (Snowball) which wants to improve life for animals on the farm is driven away by a tyrant pig (Napoleon). The latter then chastises the former, claiming Snowball was hand – in – glove with the humans. Everything known about Snowball is portrayed as if he was the defector. Napoleon flaunts all the rules laid down by the farm. He makes his own to suit himself, his family and his type (pigs). He exploits animals and cruelly discards them when they’re rendered useless. The world admires the Animal Farm for the way it works, but the animals’ wish for a good life remains a distant dream.

Have we seen instances like in life? George Orwell has magnificently laid out the plot of politics and power struggle in this classic. 2 instances come to my mind. One was in MOTOGP, when Valentino Rossi & Max Biaggi got into a fistfight in the change room. The 2 were reprimanded by DORNA (the governing body of MOTOGP) and requested to stay away from the media. Rossi obeyed, but Biaggi didn’t. He portrayed himself as a victim and Rossi as the problem in front of the media, whilst the scenario was probably vice versa. Biaggi has maintained a bad reputation before and after that incident, which is why most of us give Rossi the benefit of doubt.

26 Oct 2011

Cheers India... 5 - 0

Did we really whitewash the Englishmen 5 – 0? You can bet everything you have we did! And we thumped them, mauled them, butchered them... you can put in all the verbs you want! We ran through their entire batting line up in 4 out of the 5 matches. Those 4 matches ended up being totally one – sided; only one match was closely fought viś –a – viś 2 matches when India were in England.

India were still missing their big guns. We were without, amongst others, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Zaheer, Ishant and Yuvraj. The average age of the team was 24. Quite a few youngsters debuted in this series. Gambhir was batting one down instead of his regulation opening slot. Mind you, all this with the British team at almost full strength. However, performances stood out in all aspects of the game; batting, bowling & fielding. Praveen Kumar batted for the 1st time in the series in the 5th ODI. Kohli, Gambhir, Dhoni, Jadeja, Raina and others were in sublime form. Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar bowled with real pace (in the 140s) and successfully troubled a lot of English batsmen. Ashwin and Jadeja not only tied down the Englishmen with their spin, but also were some key contributors in picking up wickets. The fielding was one par excellence. Tiwary, Jadeja, Raina, Kohli led the way and all others (including the Indian bowlers) followed suit.

The team must have been under enormous pressure before this series. India had badly suffered at the hands of the same opposition a month ago and were still missing their big guns. The youngsters surely wanted to prove themselves. Many Indians were under fire; Dhoni for his captaincy, Raina for his batting, the bowling and fielding had been criticized. But none of that showed in the matches. Dhoni was the shrewd, nonchalant captain that he has always been. His mental toughness was commendable and rubbed off on all players and they delivered. He marshalled his troops beautifully in batting and bowling. The Brits were dismissed twice for below 200 and only once did they manage to score above 250. The English bowlers could not bowl the Indians out in even one match.

India showed why they deserve the World Champions crown. Many may argue that the team is a lion at home, but the same applies to England and Australia too, doesn’t it? How many teams have been able to beat India in our den? We salute you, dear Indian cricketers. You have been sensational, nothing short! We’re sure you will continue to give your best on the field.  We look forward to similar performances when you go overseas also. We will never lose faith in you. For us, you are INVINCIBLE! Thanks for this awesome Diwali gift. Happy Diwali everyone.

20 Oct 2011

Why "Occupy Wall Street"?

Michael Moore said “This was inevitable! We’ve rewarded greed until now. 1% of the population gets 99% of the pie, and the remaining 99% is expected to fight over the left over 1%.” He was just reiterating the well known fact – 96% of the world’s wealth lies with 4% of the people, and 4% wealth is left for the remaining 96%.
“Occupy Wall Street” as phenomenon, spread like wildfire across the world. Rebadged “Indignant” in Spain, this movement has spread to UK, Rome and many other countries.  What started with a mere dozen protestors in New York now has hundreds of thousands of participants rallying all over the world. These demonstrators in nine hundred cities protested against corporate greed and wealth inequality. Protesters from London to Sydney echoed the anti-capitalist, populist rhetoric of the Occupy movement in what was deemed a "global day of protest" (TIME).
Is it unjustified? Are we going to claim that the governments are being arm – twisted by citizens, like quite a few people stated about the latest protests in India?
Well, unemployment continues to hover around the 10% mark in the US. GDP is growing at 0.4%. The 2 Quantitative Easing programs implemented by the US government have barely done the country any good. A mounting European sovereign debt crisis has contributed to ongoing market volatility and fears of another global economic recession. Joblessness is on the rise everywhere; be it Nokia, or HP, CISCO… the list can go on and on! Research reports have stated it was greed and malpractices on part of certain banking institutions that led to the sub – prime crisis and the Greece default. Legitimate action against any perpetrators is still pending.
The Great Depression, according to the documentary Zeitgeist, was engineered by certain powerful banks in USA. So were the recent recession and the financial disasters in European countries. The famines in India in the 70s, the tyranny in Egypt and Libya, relentless terrorist attacks in Pakistan; all have been orchestrated by powerful entities which wanted to fill their pockets at the extent of common man. A handful of powerfully connected and wealthy entities continue to push common man against the wall.
The Indian media declares this Occupy Wall Street movement to being spurred by the Anna Hazare anti – corruption campaign in India.  But I would beg to differ. This has been the Year of Revolutions. Starting with Egypt, revolutions spread to Libya, the Gulf, Yemen, India, US, UK and now Europe. Karl Marx had theorized that there is always one point in society when the labour class goes at war with the bourgeois. Malcolm Gladwell, in The Tipping Point writes that there comes a point when a sort of saturation level is reached and the balance of the scale tips. This tip in scale brings about actions to counter the existing norms; be it violent or non – violent. Are we seeing the beginning of one such revolution in human civilization now?

8 Oct 2011

Some Interesting Pointers About Sonia Gandhi...

Dr. Subramanium Swami, in his letter to Dr. Manmohan Singh asking for permission to file a legal case against Sonia GHANDI, brought out some interesting facts (Yes! I know they've not been proven in court yet):

1. Sonia Gandhi manipulated Rajiv Gandhi to abet the crime in the Bofors gun purchase committed by Ottavio Quattrocchi against the nation. She stationed her brother – in – law, Walter Vinci, in Sweden to influence her husband to finalize the deal.

2. When the law started catching up with Ottavio Quattrocchi in the early 90s, the Congress Government (led by late Narasimha Rao) allowed him to quietly escape India. However, his accounts where money was stashed still stayed frozen. Subsequently, under pressure from Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the UPA, the CBI quietly allowed Quattrocchi to withdraw the money stashed in India. The then Solicitor General of India was sent to London to facilitate the deal.

3. Sonia Gandhi holds money in Switzerland (more than $2 billion in 1991) as a legatee, the corrupt money which was banked in the name of her late husband or deposited by her of funds obtained from the erstwhile KGB, or by sale of illegally exported antiques into the country. Many intelligence reports in the 80s stated that Rajiv Gandhi had received a lot of money from the KGB of USSR as bribe and kickbacks.

4. In 1972, Sonia Gandhi was exposed as functioning as a benami insurance agent of public sector insurance companies and giving her address as that of the Prime Minister of India. Consequently, Mrs. Indira Gandhi informed the Rajya Sabha that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi resigned from that agency earning commissions.

5. From 1973 – 1975, she held the position of MD of Maruti Technical Services on salary despite it being an offense against FERA. Later, she became MD of Maruti Heavy Industries Pvt. Ltd. with an even bigger remuneration. Justice AC Gupta found her guilty of multiple offences under FERA & IPC.

6. Sonia Gandhi acquired Indian citizenship at record speed in 1983. She did not submit documents from the Italian government to relinquish her Italian citizenship. In 1992, she retrieved her passport which effectively means cancellation of her Indian citizenship.

7. Sonia Gandhi was interested in applying as prime minister in 2004. Her citizenship made her application void, but she was willing to override that using 340 party members for support. When Dr. Subramanium Swami brought out this clause of her nationality, Dr. Manmohan Singh was brought in to save face at the last minute. Thus, the so called SACRIFICE of hers was actually an eye wash.

8. These facts were put together under a full page advertisement in New York Times in 2008 by NRIs. The Congress Party filed for a $200 million defamation suit against the NRIs, but Sonia Gandhi refused to appear in court and be cross examined. Therefore the case was dismissed.
9. Sonia Gandhi gave a sworn affidavit as a candidate that she studied English at Cambridge University. According to Cambridge University, there is no such student ever.

10. Sonia Gandhi was one of 13 benefactors from pay – offs in the Iraqi Oil – for – Food scam of 2002. She received oil for support from the now deceased Saddam Hussain for support for Iraq. She sold the oil at market price through Mark Rich, a notorious swindler who was convicted by the US court for 350 years.
11. Hassan Ali, currently being protected by the Congress, was involved with Adnan Khassogi, the international arms dealer, who was found to have supplied arms to the LTTE for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

12. He, who had nothing 10 years back, had billions in his and his associates accounts by 2006. The probe into him was rendered directionless which indicates the government was keen, even desperate, to bury the Ali case.
 
13. On the next day after the raid on his house, Ali’s collaborator Kasinath Tapuriah told the ED that two senior Congress leaders had been protecting him and introduced both of them. Hassan Ali, who was hiding from the ED/IT Department, stayed in a Lonavla bungalow from July to December paying Rs. 5,000 per day.

These facts have not been proved, but the GHANDI family (please note Indira was also never a Gandhi but a GHANDI) has never disputed these allegations and others. Just makes one want to reflect on whether we really want HER son to take up the PM position in future.

30 Sep 2011

How To Become Indispensable?

So what makes you invaluable in today’s times? Most of us are involved in the routine office – work, job – hopping, spending whatever time we get at home and then repeating all activities. Many get frustrated with this life, start up a new venture and shut it down within a few years. So where are YOU headed?
Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, says “You are not doing enough to stand out if you still have to make a résumé.” Well, that’s easier said than done, right? Not so, says Godin. He believes that in order to become indispensable (rather than just a cog in a machine) you can do things which cannot be measured by a price.
Compare Google & Apple. People drool over Apple because of their amazing gadgets and products. But guess which is the home site on Safari on a MacBook or an iPad? Bright chances are it’s Google. Apple evangelists (and I know there are many of them) will crib and wail if the company shuts down. But Google will take the whole internet world with it if decides to close.
What we buy from Apple can be compared to the price we pay. But we possibly cannot quantify what Google gives us. Why? You know the answer.
The same holds true for people who diligently work towards betterment of society & the environment. Mumbai Dabawallahs, bus & train motormen, free photo providers on the net, SACHIN TENDULKAR… What’s common in all of them? We cannot quantify the work they do and relate it to a price. These people are doing much more than we would expect and can imagine. They’re doing things virtually impossible to link to a price. How we can repay them pales in comparison to what they give us.

So if you want to be indispensable, share your knowledge and efficiency with people. Do something which they cannot repay you for! Publish free eBooks, become a gateway to knowledge without any riders, reach out and do more for people (clients, customers, company, society, team) without expecting something in return. THAT is what makes you a linchpin… THAT makes you unique… THAT wins you more friends and hits on your site… THAT makes you different in today’s world!

18 Sep 2011

10 Steps To Becoming A Better Writer...

  1. Write.
  2. Write more.
  3. Write even more.
  4. Write even more than that.
  5. Write when you don’t want to.
  6. Write when you do.
  7. Write when you have something to say.
  8. Write when you don’t.
  9. Write every day.
  10. Keep writing.
(courtesy - www.copyblogger.com)

5 Sep 2011

Some Unsung Heroes of Our Daily Lives...


They drive buses all day (and most of the night). They put up with crazily potholed roads and stop go traffic almost every minute. It’s a part of their routine. They transport hundreds of people in every journey from one place to another. They are pressurized to deliver a certain amount of fuel average (2.5 kmpl in the case of B.E.S.T.). They do not behave like notorious rickshaw drivers who refuse most passengers; on the contrary they pick up and drop more people than they can. Their buses are in pathetic conditions. Other drivers abuse them for rash driving. Other drivers turn abusive (and sometimes violent) when they don’t (or can’t) give way. They sometimes suffer from heart attacks due to the amount of stress endured. They get paid peanuts compared to the amount of work they do.

And yet, they continue doing it everyday. Sometimes they are vocal about their pitiable conditions, but more often than not they take it with a pinch of salt and move on. They continue doing this thankless job day – after – day without expectation of gratification. They, along with train motormen are the lifeline of India. This article is dedicated to the government bus drivers across India. Whatever people think, I salute you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done and continue to do!

Photograph © - Rohit Hariharan

29 Aug 2011

"Corporate Loyalty" - An Oxymoron!



“Attrition is so these days! Nobody wants to stick around!” quips a corporate professional (probably some days before he decides to jump companies himself). Job hopping has become a common phenomenon these da
ys. A person who sticks for long in a company is looked at either suspiciously or sympathetically.
'Corporate Loyalty' has now been termed an oxymoron by a few pundits. Apparently no employee likes to hang around in one organization for more than 2 – 3 years. But when and why did this phenomenon occur? Cynics claim it is because we are part of the so – called impatient generation; that we do not like sticking around. I beg to differ. Are we not brand loyalists? Don't we stay loyal to brands and fail to adopt anything else even if the latter is better? Don't we have friends whom we have known for decades? We still stay in regular touch with them however busy we may be.

 
The answer, I believe, lies within the companies itself. It lies with their favourite word – Consolidation. This adopted concept in which they have started 'compartmentalizing' jobs is the main cause of this unrest amongst individuals.

When organizations were just planting their feet in the ground, people who joined faced challenges. Their job roles were varied and encompassed a lot of responsibilities. They were not restricted to departments, designations, procedures, manuals, etc. Instead they wrote manuals for the years to come. There was a sense of enjoyment, accomplishment. They looked forward to going to work to handle and conquer a new challenge. They stayed loyal to same company, and got rewarded accordingly. Monetary benefits did not matter much; recognition and gratitude did. They liked gifts they got from their organizations which made them feel cared for.

Then companies stabilized. They started 'consolidating'. They started restricting job roles of employees. Anything new attempted by an employee was shot down by procedures and policies. And the warmth between employees and employers ended somewhere there. Now employees are expected to do a certain amount of work, and it is compared to the amount of money they are paid. That is the new benchmark. Respect, recognition, etc. seem to be lost and salary increments, petty politics, the demand for unearthly hours without any remuneration other than monetary have taken over. The fun is gone; there are no more challenges. People have their jobs decided by the industry and it is weighed vis – a – vis their pay. Is it surprising that they jump jobs to do the same thing all over again for a slightly larger pay?

Organizations, in order to improve employee morale and loyalty, need to look at non – monetary benefits. Many claim they implement job rotation, but how beneficial is it? Organizations must look at building a more human relationship with its employees. I don't think I need to list those steps as a lot of those are already listed in books; the only problem is very few organizations care to implement them. The bond between an organization and its employees decides how 'loyal' one is to his/her organization.

21 Aug 2011

Relativity & its Impact on Perception...

Which circle is larger? For most, it is the 1st. But both are of the same size. That's the point; relativity impacts our perception.

Perception is defined as the process whereby sensory stimulation translates into organized experience. But perception, in simpler terms, is the after effect of what a person experiences in a given situation. It can vary from person to person. Interpretation and perception are inter – linked; interpretation involves making sense of a stimulus.

So you decide to buy a book. It costs $35 at the store you are currently. You decide to go onto www.flipkart.com or www.amazon.com because you believe you will get a better deal. You see it costs $28 on a website (a saving of $7) and you immediately place the order, feeling pleased about having got the book for a bargain. Now, you have to prepare for your brother's wedding and decide to buy a suit (sorry gals for being such a chauvinist, but I thought it would be better to talk about something I know about). You zero down on a suit which costs $407. But a fellow shopper whispers in your ear that the suit is available for $400 at a store 10 minutes away. Do you take that 10 minute drive to save $7 on this instance? Mostly not! But it is the same $7 we are talking about. The saving in both instances should give you the same euphoria. But perception here, is impacted by relativity. The $7 saving looks much more in a $35 deal vis – a – viś a $400 deal. The relative prices of the commodities have made all the difference in our perceptions.

We humans like to compare everything. Our scores with our classmates, our performance in office with our colleagues, our salaries with those of our close friends, etc. We even like to compare between cars, clothes, computers, mobiles, etc. when we want to buy one or even formulate an opinion. Thus, it is not the features of an object/experience that count, but its features relative to another relevant one. We feel demotivated if our existing jobs pay lesser than those of our colleagues, if our clothes or houses or cars are not as good as theirs, and start perceiving our lives as failures. We start losing self – esteem which hampers our work, our thoughts and our lives overall.

One way to get out of this mess is to genuinely be aware of this trap. And to genuinely attempt to steer clear. This can be done by conscious attempts to move away from people/situations which might make us feel inferior or unhappy. Stave clear of people who are influential or who like to flash their wares, which keep changing very often. When we compare our lives with ourselves; what happened in the past and the circumstances we have faced; we will make better sense of it. Being content will lead us to giving our best at work, home and amongst friends. So let your perception be free of any comparison, or the concept of relativity. Try it, and do let me know if you see a visible difference for the better.

11 Aug 2011

Why Global Companies Prefer Indians At the Helm...

This article is dedicated to successful Indians at the helm of a lot of global companies; and many more still to come.

What do you think is one of India's leading exports? Time magazine has recently given an interesting answer to this. It says that CEOs are one of India's most important exports to global companies.
Yes, if you look around the global boardroom, the evidence comes pouring. There is a long list of Indians heading global companies. Anshu Jain was recently named co-CEO of Deutsche Bank. This means that once Jeurgen Fitschen retires, we'll see an Indian leading Europe's most powerful bank. Vikram Pandit is already the top boss of Citigroup. Indra Nooyi heads Pepsico. Sanjay Jha heads Motorola.Vindi Banga once led the food and personal care behemoth Unilever before he became a partner at a private-equity firm. His brother, Ajay Banga, was last year elevated to the position of CEO of MasterCard. We could go on naming many more names. In fact, even Warren Buffett has an Indian by the name of Ajit Jain heading his reinsurance business. And he's also one of the probable candidates who will take over the reins of Berkshire H athaway from the Oracle of Omaha .

It's clear that Indians are the preferred breed for the top jobs at global companies. But what makes them so apt for the position? Let's go the other way round. What is it that global companies value the most apart from obvious things like knowledge and leadership skills? The answer is multiculturalism! In an increasingly globalised world, you need leaders who can easily merge into different cultures, adapt to different environments and have the skills to deal with changing and challenging business dynamics. Interestingly, many Indians grow up doing exactly those kinds of things.

India has a rich and varied culture. We have 29 languages, each of which is spoken by at least a million people. There are another 122 which are spoken by at least 10,000 people. Apart from linguistic diversity, we have people following different religions. So Indians learn early on to mix and adapt with various cultures and traditions. That puts them at ease when faced with similar situations in the global arena.

Secondly, Indians learn the precious art of negotiation pretty well given the political red tape that they have to face in their native country. They learn to kick open rigid doors or create new ones if the need be. The third important ingredient is the gift of the English language, a legacy left by our erstwhile colonial masters.

These facts are some which have led to more and more companies wanting to have Indians on board. Let's hope our entrepreneural spirit stays as strong as it is (if not become better) and more Indians find their way to the top around the world.

courtesy - Equitymaster.

31 Jul 2011

Cometh The Future, Cometh Google+ !!

So I’ve spent more than a month on Google+. And I already feel that this site is much better than Facebook. I know I have done a lot of Social Network bashing on this blog, but I just had to try this one out. Well, I can attribute that desire to 2 facts; 1.) I am a huge Android fan. I like (& trust) them so much that my 1st (and only) smart phone so far has an Android OS & 2.) the hype they created around the site and then delayed people joining up was a masterstroke. Now they may indeed have overloaded servers in ß – testing, etc. but it successfully managed to arouse interest and excitement in a lot of people (including yours sincerely) to sign up and check out what it is all about.
                             
I am not going to post the regular Facebook (FB) v/s Google+ review here. Yes, I will talk a little about how + is generically better than other sites and features and advantages over the others. But then I think I’ll touch up on some more points in this article also.

The overall interface of Google+ is pleasing and accommodates more than just the regular social networking options. Google has a lot of features we use like Gmail, Orkut (well, that’s passé now), Search Engine, Picasa, Google Docs, Youtube, Translator (sometimes), Blogger and much more. Google has their hand in nearly everything online and we know how much we depend on the California – based company. We see hyperlinks to all these sites on the top left of the home screen, thus making all these sites easily accessible to us. No more URL typing, no more visiting Favourites to open these tabs; it’s all right there once we log into Google+. Plus, it allows one to connect all her/his links/sites on the profile page (Twitter, FB, Blogger, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc.; anything you want can be linked right onto your profile page so others can reach you on those locations also). Features like "Circles" and "Hangout" are very innovative. You do not need to share all information with all your contacts here, plus you can add one contact to more than one circle. The amazing sensory function in "Hangout" which almost always accurately brings the person talking on the centre screen is simply genius. Plus, one can start a Youtube video and have the other members on the Hangout view it alongside – simply awesome. You don’t even need an Xbox avatar to chat with many people located at different places; + lets you see all the others in flesh and bone.

With all this happening, Google+ still does not seem to be picking up pace as fast as expected. Many attribute FB’s still all powerful account base to this. Some skeptics are not even sure if + will hold on to its own because Orkut and Buzz were flops. But I don’t think we should call Orkut a flop. It was the 1st ever genuine social networking site and a super hit for well over 2 years. Google then learnt some more lessons through a couple of failed ventures and have now come out with this ingenious all – in – 1 portal. Michael Dell already proposes to use Google+ for customer service also to make life easier for his company’s customers. Many more will follow suit and try to device methods in which they can use this site for business (clients and vendors alike). Plus, Google+ has sorted a lot of safety concerns which were rampant on FB and taken care of a lot of loopholes lurking on FB.

When Orkut was introduced, people jumped onto the wagon like there was no tomorrow. They took time to move onto FB, but have been hooked onto the latter ever since like a fish. History will most probably repeat itself and people will inevitably transition over to Google+. Orkut was the SN of the past, Facebook is of the present, while Google+ is the SN of the future. I used to wonder what the SN sites of the future would have to offer. Google, ladies and gentlemen, has all the answers!

5 Jul 2011

Existing For Our Customers!

These are excerpts from Gurcharan Das' book 'The Elephant Paradigm'. An increasing number of businesses are focussing on other aspects and losing sight of what their core is. This article aptly addresses all those pointers:

"The only job of a business, I believe, is to create and retain customers. A successful manager has to be obsessed with satisfying customer needs. The irony is that all the money a company makes is made outside the company, and almost all the time company people spend is inside the company. Time is usually spent inside the company battling over turf, whereas spending time in the field makes one realize that the real battles are fought outside, against your competitors and winning the hearts of your customers.

Why is this so? I reason, I think, is that most of us don’t see customers when we work. We see only other employees and we get busy building empires or arguing over whose department is more important or whose office is bigger. One must ensure he/she meets the customers of the organization at least once a month. This reminds one not only who pays him/her the salary, but more payoffs are gained in terms of good ideas to improve products and services.

The greatest benefit of this belief in staying close to customers comes in R&D. When scientists regularly visit the bazaar they realize that they are not working for science but to improve the lives of ordinary people. When R&D becomes customer focussed, the rewards come in very rapidly. Little improvement in some areas – even in packaging – have a major impact in customer satisfaction and on the bottom line. Ultimately you succeed in business because you sell a product that is better than your competitor’s. If your efforts are directed at making a product better, and doing so constantly, you will win. No matter how much advertising or good marketing you may do, if your product does not deliver what it promises, you will not succeed. This very simple idea begins with the belief that we all exist for our customers."

Thus, however big one is, he always has customers somewhere. And he survives and sustains because of them. It is very important to keep that in mind and work towards better customer satisfaction. That leads to a sustainable business model and a chance to grow (in revenue, customers and customer loyalty).

15 Jun 2011

Why We Should Invest in the Indian Stock Market...


The stock market is one sector which a lot of us want to avoid. We’ve heard terrifying stories of people losing money like never before and going bankrupt. We have conditioned ourselves to believe we are not capable of understanding financial markets and decide to stay away. But FDs give us about 10% interest annually, MFs something like 12 – 13% after all fees being cut and inflation is consistently rising; it’s currently at 10%. Are we really making enough money to secure our futures?

We have geniuses of minds when it comes to professions. We come up with ideas that sometimes make crores for the company and also those which save costs and increase efficiency. But we believe we don’t have the financial wisdom needed to earn, and that alone prohibits us from venturing into unchartered territories of stocks & equity. We mostly invest in Mutual Funds to save on taxes without understanding how much potential they have for us rather than commissions for the agents.

The Stock Market gives us a chance to see a lot more of this
It does not take an Einstein to invest and make profits in the stock market. Yes, derivatives and intraday trading need some practise and understanding. But to start with, long term investing is no rocket science. One can look at current & future trends, company management and potential, valuations, Price to Earnings, etc. and make an estimate. These terms can be explained by any stock broker and do not take much time to comprehend. There are shares which have grown 3 – fold in as many years, and some have experienced a little lesser growth (some even more) but shown solid performances. So if you had invested Rs. 10,000 in ITC Ltd. in 2006, it would have grown to roughly around 40 grand by now, including bonuses and dividends, etc. The same amount invested in Page Industries (licensed marketers of Jockey) and Jubilant Foodworks (distributors of Dominos Pizza) would have become 150,000 and 72,000 respectively. There are patterns to technically analyse stocks (Wedge, Head & Shoulders, etc.) which allow understand what the possible movements of the stock prices will be. A little practice, experience, etc. will enable one to be able to perform much better in the markets. Technical analysis will even help in intraday trading and money making. Of course, if one loses money in the market, he/she analyses his/her mistakes and gains an even better understanding of this volatile market. Spend 30 minutes lesser a day reading novels and invest in reading in a business paper or watching a business channel with the experts speaking, and see the difference.

Mutual Funds are actually much better performers over a longer period of time; more than the 3 years we park our funds in them. MFs like HDFC Top 200 have given almost 30% returns over 10 years vis – a – viś 11% over 3 years. Systematic Investment Programmes (SIP) over a period of 7 years or more (the more the better) with a little bit of R&D on the fund will give much better investment returns than short term investments. Factors to look for are fund manager reputation, returns over the last few years, sectors and companies the fund invests in, how often they change investments (that’s a bad sign), whether the agent himself invests in the fund, etc. Try applying the concept of Compound Interest with an average of 25% over 10 years to the amount invested via SIPs and compute the returns you get at maturity. For any queries about it feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me.

India is still in its infancy when it comes to investment. The penetration into equity is less than 2% in India, while our country contributes to only 0.63% of the worldwide MF assets. More and more foreign and Indian investors are bullish on the market growth. This temporary hiccup of inflation will soon be sorted by whichever government wants to stay in power. Why should we lose out on the party? Yes, there will be instances when we will lose out on money invested (even experts lose money after playing in the market for decades) but that will make us only more seasoned. Try starting with virtual stock games like www.khelostocks.com and http://money.rediff.com where the movement is real but the money is virtual. One can afford to take more of risks when one is young (portfolio can comprise of 70% equity and 30% debt in one’s 20s and change inversely as age and responsibilities increase). So don’t wait for long. There is a huge bull run still to be witnessed in the Indian stock market. Try and make sure you are a part of it for a more financially secure future.

5 Jun 2011

"I Don't Want It."

This is probably the most powerful sentence in today’s environment; exactly opposite to what people believe gives them power i.e. “I want it!” How often do we use these words today? And do we know what results it yields?

Google exposes us to new things almost every day. The world has become a much smaller place. New Apple/Android phones can be purchased even before they are officially launched in a country. Our desires have increased, and so have our wants i.e. our desire to own something backed by the ability to purchase it. But this increase in disposable income for us has also been beneficial to manufacturers and service providers. Not just because their sales have increased, but also because the surplus demand has gradually allowed power to shift to their hands. Impatience has become an innate tendency amongst buyers and sellers are cashing in on this.

Scarcity of a particular item has led to, amongst others, rise in prices, increase in waiting periods and outrageous demands by the providers of products and services. Sometimes these demands include extra charges we consumers must pay for issues which they (sellers) create. I have come across 2 such examples in the past 2 months. The 1st one was when I was buying a new cell phone. The shopkeeper increased the price saying it included various taxes. When my friend said we were getting a better deal elsewhere and got ready to leave, all their taxes vanished and we got the handset cheaper than what was quoted at the other store. The 2nd one was when I was buying a new car. The dealer told me about 3 – 4 ridiculous clauses and said I had to adhere to them as it was part of standard procedure (Details of those may prove very boring). Since I was not desperate for the car, I told them I didn’t want the car. They kept saying I would have to follow the procedure and that it was for my own good, and I told them I would approach another dealer who could see things the way I do. Once again, all clauses were done away with and my terms and conditions were accepted.

We pride ourselves on being the impatient generation. TVs, cars, durables, laptops, consoles, mobile phones, etc; we want them at the push of a button. Sometimes, maybe out of desperation, we pay a premium and also may end up being harrowed by sellers for more money under the pretext of ‘setting’. All this extra money is pocketed by sellers while we are made to believe they united heaven and earth to get our work done. Similar is the case of telecom service providers (TSPs) also. They do not care how much we complain about poor service or billing issues (as long as we are adding to their ARPUs). If one threatens to leave the service, they don’t mind; they believe they’ll find many more. But the same applies to us too. True, it is an oligopolistic market (few sellers, many buyers) for TSPs, but we have the option of other providers too. MNP just makes it that much more convenient for us.

India has evolved, or rather revolutionized, since the early 90s when we had to wait years for everything. Barely any company has a monopoly in the market now; the market is far more competitive and there are people implementing good business models to meet our needs. So we do not need to depend on someone for selling us what we can buy from anywhere. If our desires have increased, so have the options to fulfil them. Let’s use the best information source – Google, to find alternate people/places/techniques that will fulfil our needs without us having to cater to their whims and fancies. If we can induce some patience in ourselves and remove the cap on the time limit to fulfil our needs and wants, we will end up realizing we got what we wanted and it was a bargain. We save money, are more knowledgeable and feel good about it. Besides, it will once again dawn upon sellers that the customer is king. We just need to know how and where to prudently use the words “I don’t want it!”

30 May 2011

The Inflation Conundrum...


So the RBI has raised interest rates 9 times this fiscal year; the last one by 50 bps. The GoI and RBI claim this is being done to counter inflation, which seems to be steady between 8 – 9%. Developed countries suffer from stagnating capital markets, while developing countries have to combat inflation.
Inflation is mainly of two types – supply driven and demand driven. Supply driven inflation means the supply outscores the demand, leading to a reduction in price due to abundance and surplus of goods & services in the market. Demand driven inflation, on the other hand, leads to increase in prices as the demand is larger than supply. The Indian government seems to be treating the existing inflation issue as demand driven. It believes there is surplus liquidity in the market and hence asks the RBI to raise interest rates to make money more valuable. But this action seems to be doing very little save adversely impacting our country’s growth figures. Hoarding of some primary food items has been occurring on quite a few occasions (sugar in 2009, onions last year, etc.). The demand is thus, much higher than the presence of those commodities in the market and this leads to increase in their prices. But a 150% price jump? And that too for basic food items? Does the GoI think the poor, who form 60% of India’s population, will be able to afford it? And does the GoI think this problem will get sorted by increasing lending and deposit rates in banks? Think again.
The lower class needs food to survive, and this dwindling of food supply is the primary cause of food inflation, which I can presume is in double digits. 22 lakh tonnes of food grains get wasted annually due to sub – standard storage facilities set up by the governments. Infrastructure (highways, railways, connecting roads, etc.) are in appalling conditions. Over 1 lakh litres of rain water annually get wasted per city because the government has no storage set ups for it. Imagine the wonders reduction on dependence of rain water could do for farmers. They could be lesser worried about uncertainty, food harvests would be close to bumper crops every year, more mouths could be fed and proper infrastructure could ensure the food commodities reach all the people.
The central government needs incentivize farmers to produce more crops. Private companies like Reliance, Future Group, ITC are doing something on those lines by offering farmers more money for their produce and eliminating middlemen. This is also increasing supply chain efficiency and benefiting the urban customer. Companies like Jain Irrigation can build a lot of water storage areas and ensure that the farmer is less dependent on rains and ground water and feels more secure at his profession. Tax benefits need to be increased to companies which work on developing hard and soft infrastructure (the latter includes hospitals, toilets, schools, colleges, etc.) in backward villages. The government needs to encourage companies carrying out such activities which will lead to overall growth of rural areas and still maintain our food production and supply, so that we do not have to depend on foreign countries some decades later for food grains.
True, the suggestions I have made may sound a bit farfetched as India has a lot of leaks in its system. But if anyone can make it possible, it is the team of Dr. Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Pranab Mukherjee. We have a very formidable team at the head of the Central Government, along with a very able chairperson of the RBI. It is about time these leaders pay attention to glaring problems in the Indian economy. These development policies will not only help India continue on its growth drive avoid getting stunted, but also ensure that happy and satisfied citizens of India revote the Congress into power for at least the next 2 terms. It remains to be seen what the politicians of India really want from this country and their positions.

22 May 2011

How Google Changed the World

The year was 1996.  It had only been 15 years since 1981, when Microsoft had introduced their revolutionary DOS operating system on IBM and other PCs, and started their ambitious goal of putting a personal computer into every home.  The world had also just started to transition to the colour of Windows 95 monitors after more than a decade immersed in monochrome monitors. Two years ago, in 1994, Yahoo! had created the first comprehensive directory of the World Wide Web with their Yahoo! directory. The internet for the general public was born in the mid 90s, as many people rushed to post information onto the internet, supporting its initial growth.

With all this information on the internet, it was critical to find a way for people to find information. With a way to find information that people needed, it would further support the growth and continued use of the internet. During the late 90s, the search engine Alta Vista became the most popular search engine in the world, allowing people to find some of the information they were searching. However, its search results were mostly trashy, as it was difficult to pinpoint relevant information for which one was searching.

Fortunately, in 1996, a new university graduate project collaboration between two graduate students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, was under way. It used an innovative approach. Instead of merely using a forward mechanism of searching for pages, it calculated a web page’s importance or relevance based on backlinks linking to a certain site, through PageRank, after crawling and indexing as many pages as possible. The result was a highly-targeted search engine, which allowed for highly precise search results, truly allowing people to find a needle in a haystack. What, in the past, may have taken days, weeks, months, or even a lifetime of searching, just took a few seconds. The company, Google, was incorporated in 1998. Like many of us, Google’s initial beginnings were humble. As poor graduate students, the founders of Google sometimes looked for microprocessors that were being dumped and not used by the university any more in order to use them for servers. Gradually, knowledge about the relevance and usefulness of Google’s search engine spread throughout the world. In 2000, Google tried to sell its search engine to Yahoo! for $1 million, but Yahoo! unfortunately, did not have the foresight and declined.

After the .com crash at the turn of the millennium, many more useless internet companies had to fold. Throughout this time, Google, who provided a highly essential service to people, was able to plough through this difficult period and give the internet its needed structure and stability. Eventually, Google figured out a way to monetize its search engine through AdWords in 2002.

Today, Google contributes to everything we can think of online. Picassa is one of the best online photo sharing applications, Google Maps is an application almost everyone uses for directions before they visit a new location, the Android OS has already dipped into about 30% of the iOS’ market share of tablet PCs and mobile phones, Orkut was quite a social networking hit before Facebook eclipsed it, the Google Blogger site which allows bloggers to maintain online diaries and share their thoughts if they choose. We don’t need to mention the Google search engine which is arguably still the best in the world and keeps updating itself e.g. the iGoogle search engine which allows one to personalize his/her search page. “Google it!” is a new term that is used by many people when looking for information. Google has not only synchronized the World Wide Web, but has empowered most people with information on virtually anything they want. Indeed, Google has changed the world!

8 May 2011

The Week That Was...

The week from 1st to 7th May, 2011 was quite an eventful one in context of happenings across the world. The killing of Osama bin Laden, Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer apologizing for the hacking of Playstations and offering $1 million per user in remuneration, more 2G scam revelations coming to light, the BSE rallying up and down, etc. were some of the events that occurred. We’ll focus on a few that really made the headlines in morning papers.

Osama bin Laden was reported dead on late Sunday evening. US Navy SEALS infiltrated into his Pakistan quarters and successfully killed him. This was timed perfectly to occur just before Obama begins his election campaign. Bin Laden wasn’t brought back to the US like Saddam Hussain and electrocuted on the chair! Instead, he was shot in the head and his remains buried at sea. A bit too convenient, it seems. And was bin Laden really responsible for 9/11? The documentary Zeitgeist proves otherwise; more so that it was an inside job. Also, the bin Ladens were especially close to George Bush Snr. and managed to get a lot of favours from Bush Jnr. right after 9/11. That is not to say that the news may not be true, but I have my reservations. What the news has done, though, is that it has spread a lot of euphoria amongst US countrymen. That, and additional jobs created, have increased Obama’s popularity drastically. He has almost reserved a stint for himself at the White House for the next few years. He can afford to spend nothing for his election campaign and still be a major contender for the position of President of the United States.
For the 9th time this fiscal year, the RBI increased interest rates; this time by 50 bps. This, they declared, was one of the key measures in controlling inflation in India, though it was not investor friendly. This policy, along with possibilities of a global economic recovery, led to the SENSEX dropping for 9 successive sessions before rising on Friday. A lot of people also lost money invested in silver as it lost its shine by almost 30% in this week alone. Experts cite the reduction in imports into China as the main reason for this slide in not only silver, but other commodities also. This might encourage those investors to enter the stock market and possibly help it rally upwards in the near future. Crude also dropped to below $100 a barrel after long. This could spell good news for India and other countries as the prices of fuel may now not rise as sharply as expected. Also, a reduction in dependant palm oil and other raw material could reduce input costs and margin pressures for many industries. Also, reduction in edible and cooking oil could lead to control in food prices and positively impact inflation. That being said, all we can do is wait and watch if the Indian government proactively takes some more measures to benefit the common man.
Kanimozhi has finally been named in the CBI chargesheet and was presented in court this week. She looked extremely tense, bordering on tears. Ram Jethmalani defended her staunchly in court saying she claims her main fault is she is Karunanidhi’s daughter and hence she is being targeted though she had nothing to do with the 2G scam, and that it was all Raja’s fault. She now wants to be granted bail on the grounds that she is a woman. Strange... she did not think of all this when she was one of the main perpetrators in the 2G scam, something the evidence accumulated by the CBI clearly shows. It is amusing how Kalmadi, Sheila Dixit, Kanimozhi and other politicians amass all the wealth when they can, but blame the entire world when they are exposed. Anyway, I am sure I speak for most people when I say that I hope justice is dished out to all those guilty, man or woman.
Of course, I have not mentioned the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The who’s who of the world were present, and the paparazzi ensured the high profile wedding was covered from all angles; attendees, fashion, celebrations, etc. I didn’t follow it to be able to write a lot about it, though.
We didn’t have only one headline repeated over and over again this week, though the media were more than keen on constantly covering the death of Bin Laden. So the world did see highs and lows this week, and it was fun. It’s a pity such weeks do not come often to keep us interested and thinking. Now, the consequences of the events that have unfolded remain to be seen. Hopefully they will be positive; the world has witnessed too much bad news in the past few months.
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