27 Aug 2013

Why This Fuss Over the Rupee?

The rupee is tantalizingly close to the 70 mark against the dollar. But why are so many Indians talking about it? Why this ruckus? Does it mean anything to us? Do we need to panic? Our lives won’t change much, will they? We still can go about watching reality shows and spending on expensive gadgets. What do we care if the SENSEX has tanked almost 2000 points in 2 months? Who invests in the stock exchange anyway? Right?

Actually, the weakening rupee will impact all our lives a lot. Let me tell you how.

Most Indian companies borrow from foreign banks because it means a huge savings in interest rates for them. While Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) for commercial borrowing offered by Indian banks ranges between 9-11%, interest rates offered by foreign banks may be as low as 3-4%. Telecom companies like Bharti Airtel took loans as large as $52 million through External Commercial Borrowings (ECB). Almost all companies are debt laden; some more than the others. Now that the rupee has weakened, their savings due to lower interest rates have been wiped out. This not only translates to lesser pay hikes for employees but also leads to downsizing. Many blue chip companies in India are already laying people off. Imagine the stress on midsized and smaller firms. So, for one, the weakening rupee jeopardizes increments and jobs.

Now, 70% of India’s imports comprise of crude oil. This crude oil provides our country with petrol, diesel, cooking gas and more. With the rupee weakening, the government will have to shell out more for these crude oil barrels. And they’re not kind enough to bear the brunt themselves. It will be passed on to common man. As a result, we will have to shell out more for these commodities along with vegetables and daily goods. Hence the talk of increasing diesel’s price by Rs. 5 at once. Also, other imports like cars, electronic gadgets (mobile phones, cameras, TVs, etc.) will get expensive. So while our salaries won’t increase, the cost of everything else will. We won’t be able to protect ourselves from the ever increasing inflation.

Rupee v/s Dollar since 2011
Foreign funds and entities will not invest in India. They would rather prefer staying invested in a safe haven like the dollar instead of investing in India and running the risk of losing money.

The economy has spiralled out of control. It is now out of the Congress’ hands. They’ve made ½ the population so dependent upon them that getting out of this gloom doesn’t seem possible for the next year. The Food Security Bill will bleed the country’s coffers of 70,000 crore bucks. As always, it will be ridded with corruption and very few of the deserving poor will get food. Plus, schemes like MGNREGA have made labourers in villages leave farming and sit at home. By registering for this scheme, people are assured of Rs. 100 per day for 100 days. Farmers now find it very hard to get daily wage workers to toil on their farms. Even if they do, the labour is expensive. This means the cost of crops (and invariably, food) increases. Plus, labourers get used to earning without working. This leads to a slowdown in farming, infrastructure projects, fishing, manufacturing and other sectors.

While we can’t guarantee that another party will perform better than the Congress, we should give them a chance. If Modi can drive growth in our country, reduce the leeches in our economy, clear some cobwebs among pending projects, shouldn’t we give the BJP a chance? Even if they don’t do a phenomenal job and the Congress returns to power 5 years later, the latter will at least know that they can’t take their seats for granted. The Congress is complacent now. We need to do something to give them a jolt.

image Courtesy: Google images

12 Aug 2013

5 Reasons Why No One Listens to You

We all have a common complaint with the world – it doesn't listen to us. Our kids, friends, parents, office colleagues – no one listens to us. But they should! They should heed every word we say. And do as we say. After all we know what’s best for them. We know the best way to do things. Right? Wrong!

The world is increasingly becoming louder. People are raising their voices to be heard over others. And you're increasingly getting stressed because people won't listen to you. But why won't they? Honestly, the problem doesn't lie with them. It lies with you.

Here are 5 basic reasons why your kids/spouse/friends/parents/office colleagues/peers won't listen to you. Tell me if you're nodding while reading even 1:

1.) You’re not saying things right: In ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, Dale Carnegie said “The only way to make someone do something is to make him want to do it.” It’s so good I’m going to repeat it: 

The only way to make someone do something is to make him want to do it. 

Try this: Stand up and tell someone “I want you to _____ (fill in the blanks with what you want done)”. On the other hand, show the person what she stands to gain from doing a task. Study your success rate in each case.

It’s obvious that the 2nd method is more successful. Everyone thinks about just 1 person – himself! Every man has just 1 thought when doing something “What will I get out of it.” So tomorrow if your child isn't listening to you, try telling him in simple language what his benefit is. Eating boring food will make him strong enough to fight the bully, behaving well will make more people like him and he will get more friends. If you want your spouse to help in house cleaning, tell him how sharing responsibilities will take his mind off work and refresh him...you get the drift. Remember, the only way someone will do something when he sees his benefit in it.

2.) You’re interfering too much: You may be a Niccolo Tesla in your field, but interfere too much in other people’s work and kiss your popularity goodbye. Meddlesome people are not appreciated, neither are they sought after. Maybe people will listen to them, but only grudgingly. They don't make true friends and followers; people who align to their way of thought, who listen to what they say and do it because they want to. They only find puppets, and after one point in time, the puppets start slowing them down.
As William McKnight, Chairman of 3M says “If you fence around people, you get sheep. Give them the room they need.” What sound advice! Let people think for themselves. Let your kids do something which isn't critical the wrong way; let your friends go to a restaurant which you've told them is not good. Let your office colleague try something different. She may show you an alternate way of doing things. Else she will learn her own lessons. And trust me, when you speak less, people listen to you more.

3.) Your concepts are not clear: People want to listen to you, but you’re not making sense. Things you are talking about are so complex that listeners have zoned out within a couple of minutes. Your concepts, beliefs and ideas are too hard to comprehend, let alone implement. Are you guilty of these aspects when you speak to someone?
Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it.” I'm going to do it again. I'm going to repeat it.

If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it.

Herb Kelleher had explained the business model of Southwest Airlines to Rollin King on a napkin. When you want to explain something to someone, keep it short and simple. Tell your child or spouse what you want in simple terms briskly. Give your office colleagues a gist of your idea in less than 60 seconds. That will keep your ideas simple. Plus, the human brain comprehends simple ideas and concepts easily. That’s why Apple products are so popular… they’re clear, uncluttered and simple enough to not need a manual.
"I'm not listening to you!"

4.) You’re not listening: You’re busy fiddling with your cell phone, staring at your computer screen, fiddling with pages of a book or admiring the scene around. This makes the talker feel belittled, disrespected. So why will she listen to you? 
Studies show that the human mind mirrors what it sees. So if it sees gloom, it turns sad. If it sees happiness, it is filled with joy. Likewise, if the mind gauges that the person in front is not listening, it won’t listen either. People will give only when they get, and not vice versa. So if you want someone to listen to you, listen to them first.

5.) You’re a self professed ‘Know-It-All’: “I know what we should talk about in this meeting. Listen to me.” “I know how your friends behave on your playground. Don’t lie to me!” “I know how your boss must be. It must be your attitude because of which he troubles you.” “I know how the marketing team must function (though I’m a part of HR).” “I know how economics works (though I've never even touched the subject)”. “I know… don’t tell me.” “I know… don’t teach me.” Have you come across someone like this in your life?
If you’ve lived a normal life, you certainly have. And how do you feel when this person speaks? And maybe… just maybe… people aren't listening to you because you indulge in this yourself. The ‘I Know Everything’ attitude is the biggest recipe for disaster. Not only will you repulse people, but you will also get so neck deep in shit in life that you won’t be able to find your way out. No one knows everything. There is always someone better than you at everything you know or do.

Man or woman has rarely achieved anything without others. Man, by design, is a social animal. Dhoni achieved all he did in the cricket world because he had team members who listened to him. Even Gandhi became the Father of the Nation only after people listened to (and followed) him. If you want to discipline your kids, be popular among friends, climb up the corporate ladder or simply have a gratifying relationship, you need people to listen to you. Nelson Mandela, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr. – they've understood and abided by this ultimate truth. It’s time we did too!

What are other reasons because of which people may not listen to you? Do share your thoughts in comments.

image Courtesy: Google Images
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