Thursday, 24 November 2011

Retail Therapy

While industry watchers and policy makers makers must be licking their fingers at learning the 51% approval being granted to FDI in multi-brand retailing, it is important to acknowledge the fine print of this business and the red herring. In the globalized and closely integrated economies of ours, this to happen was a given, sooner or later. I'm glad it happened later, as it has given ample exposure or localization expertise to our homegrown bulk retailers like Future Group, Reliance, Tatas, Bharti, Mahindra, et al. to cement their positions and can only grow stronger from here on. Govts. dragging their feet for years on policies like this, and faulted for being slow decision makers, or pandering to vested interests, eventually benefits the country and protects its interests hugely when seen in the overall context, certain groups or individuals benefiting greatly notwithstanding. And now that every one is being allowed in, wonder whats going on in the mind of those overseas retailers who must be gearing up with their India strategy. I'm sure getting a grip on prices, and milking the vast consuming class is the message their bosses would have sent out loud and clear. In an economic setup like ours, where the country is a net importer, despite the recent boom in IT, or manufacturing, textile businesses, the fact remains that we are dependent on some of the most essential commodities for sustainance from the rest of the world; that includes energy, fuel, food, and very soon nuclear supplies for power generation too.

So while we dig into other western economies snatching away their jobs, as a worthy cost effective destination for global businesses, it wouldn't be surprising to see those very economies making life difficult for us to enjoy that growth because of our high dependence on imports from them.

Something is expected to give way, either mellowing of rising salaries/GDP growth of our economy or a more supply constrained inflationary economics, where high premiums will be attached to key raw materials, commodities and all those essentials resulting in slowing of the Asian juggernaut.

Hope policy makers take a global view of all their decisions and not just a narrow domestic view, which perhaps worked fine in the years gone by; not any longer.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

RAOne Economics

Well the guy, SRK has made his money already, while you ppl try adding 2 and 2. :)
You all have to realize that the film was a first of a kind in Bollywood, with expensive animation, 3D visuals, and all thing high on technology that made it a heavy budget film. Commenting that the storyline was lousy, or that the dialogues were ineffective is all meaningless analysis. The Display Unit companies are preparing you for the next wave of content viewing, which is all-3D. Currently there is very less programming content in 3D, and so consumers will find it hard to graduate to 3D TVs from their current HD TVs or non-HD TVs. SRK need not worry about the success or failure of the movie content itself so far as he's well supported by the industry to push a certain product or concept into the market to increase mass appeal.
SRK, as a brand is going nowhere. It'll probably be faced with increasing competition with new artists, but he's reached the kind of dizzying heights that should keep his brand alive.

India Inc inspsiring govts to move from the humble "RATH" to "FORMULA 1"

Well...the F1 project is entirely a private enterprise, and we know what private enterprises are capable of, not just in terms of raising capital, creating successful businesses, but also the not so beautiful, such as evading taxes, swiss banking etc. Within the peripheries of the race circuit, which was officially the private space oh so beautiful, the outside, which was the motorway/expressway was so beautiful, again a pvtly developed space. A look at the public spaces, the administration and policing, well that tells you a different story.
Its all so well and easy to give away parcels of land to pvt enterprises at throw away prices to develop, and then entice the junta at market rates. The doubling and trebling of investments is just a means developed by the rogues to get you aligned with them capitalizing on your aspirations. No well meaning economics or great governance here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Mayawati vs Assange - A contest I'd love to watch

Would Assange have ever dreamt of being on a collision course with Behenji; perhaps never, but it did happen a few days ago, and I'm mighty impressed with the swift response by the UP Chief Minister in her chaste Hindi addressing a press conference, letting her position known to all.
Would love to see both of them sharing the same dais, and contest the issue, and the validity of the claims, to put to rest genuineness of all that wikileaks puts out, and the levels of fabrication of their claims.
Weather or not she actually sent an official plane to get get herself choicest footwear or not is not something I don't wish to debate, cos she belongs to a league of CMs that have enabled an environment of some very visible and tangible changes atleast in western UP. The fact that, as a govt in power, you need to deal with babugiri, buffoons of all varieties, coarse and very rigid minds, Mayawati has been instrumental in many a change that the state has witnessed during her leadership tenure. Democracy, freedom of speech, and listening to everybody is OK in theory and practice, so far as you're able to take a lead in making steady, and authoritative decisions, to make things happen, instead of being cornered each time by opposition politics that ruling governments have to deal with constantly.
Despite the odds, the lady has surely led well, and while there might be plenty of Grey areas, one has to underplay that to some extent in the final analysis of the individual's overall performance report.
Leaders of Mayawati's pedigree could be key players when it comes to forming global perceptions of foreign policy positions, where some of our english speaking sophisticated politicians have been a let down all along, and only believed in playing west-centric appeasement politics; in the process, they have proved themselves to be very insignificant global leaders. The elusive success at being included as permanent members in the elite UN Security Council is a case in point, and I wonder if the diplomats and leaders know really how to stamp their authority and play the diplomatic global power politics of leading from the front when it matters the most.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Force Feeding a Govt. into Discussing

While there have been several anti-corruption campaigns and crusades in the past, what sets this apart from the rest is the sheer practical nature of the demands that've been put across, even though unconstitutional it might sound to the parliamentarians, but its never been said that the constitution itself cannot be amended, cos its "people first" in any democracy.
Anna as the cynosure of this demonstration stands out to the extent that he sure is reverberating with his thunderous slogans plucked straight from the bygone freedom struggle. Its my view, whats driving him is the vicarious thrills of reliving the joy of sacrificing by the great freedom fighters; the likes of Gandhi, Bhagat Singh etc. The fact that much of his inspiration and ideologies are Gandhian is a no brainer. Although Anna's role in the freedom struggle does not match the leagues of the big names, he sure wouldn't mind replicating the feat of the great freedom fighters. He aptly names it the second freedom struggle, to get that adrenalin flowing and thrills unlimited.
People might think its crazy that he's doing it for the thrills of sacrificing, but such is the nature of the feeling that one goes through when one is itching to be counted in the league of people who've made major sacrifices for the country, especially for someone who's seen the freedom struggle from such close quarters.
That apart, whether the govt accepts the bill, rejects the bill, or tweaks it, it is important not to brand the current govt. worthless, to the extent of giving the opposition parties an upper hand. Remember, no one is clean here. Its important to let the bill find its way till it becomes law, and hopefully, bring this same govt. back to power in the next general elections, to experiment the Lokpal on them like guinea pigs, and ensure the opposition too learns a lesson or two from this, and works harder and better to show its importance and worth to the people of this country. It has to be emphasized that for any democracy to work well, a strong and smart opposition is a must.
While the congress led UPA is being criticized of its handling and bungling, its actually not too bad that in such delicate matters the govt shows a bit of silliness or foolishness, cos making rigid and forceful decisions to show conviction and control can backfire, which they perhaps realized to some extent during Baba Ramdev's rally, to a greater extent on arresting Anna, and completely sealing it with their spokesman Manish Tiwari resorting to painting Anna black with concocted stories at a press conference.
Being indecisive and looking foolish is a better option here for the govt., as facing the wrath of the people would be the last thing on any govt's mind.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Fast Tracking Rules thro' Fasting

I've presented my view to several people to which the response is that I'm perhaps envious of what Anna is trying to achieve, and I feel a point of view placed against Anna's crusade should not be termed negative simply because there is popular support for it.
Simple case; Anna's attempt at using Fast-Unto-Death approach for a cause, as a means to first garner support and then force-blackmail the govt into agreeing to terms and conditions of the citizens lokpal bill is a path that smacks of rigidity, and lack of a desire to find common ground. Factually, the entire country has not been consulted through a referendum, the paradrafting of the citizens lokpal version, so no one individual or team can claim that they represent the citizen's group.
Just like Anna and supporters are using their democratic right to protest, the police and govt agencies are using their institutional rights to clamp down on them, as it almost seems fashionable to use the capital city as flashpoint for creating chaos, and disrupting normal life, for whatever cause.
The fasting and protest can very well be conducted 30Kms away from the capital, where the whole thing can be carried out in peace, unless playing to the galleries is one's intent.
Lastly, cant the team just hand over the citizen's bill to an elected, current, and deserving MP to represent the citizens and fight it out and debate in the parliament. Every one can see the live debates on LokSabha TV too.
As of now, it seems that one is just adamant to place one's terms and condition and force it down your elected representatives, absolutely ignoring and trashing the procedures, and thinking that this is the only time and method to bring about change and revolution. How can you just ignore the parliamentary democratic systems in place to get things moving. And if democracy is not what works well, then authoritarianism is best suited for a country like our's where people completely lose their freedom of all kinds and be dictated terms and conditions of disciplined living.
How about trying out the above method of searching for the most suitable elected MP and then wait for the whichever version to be passed and be made law. One can always protest, and demonstrate after that, as all laws can be subject to amendments if its well within reasonable logic and passed by the govt of the day.
One would say that the MPs would be bought over, but I say, the MP fighting for this cause can single handedly become a hero too, which will be incentive for him and boost his political cause for the future.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Broadcast Powerplay

The fact that everyone feels bombarded with news of scams, and deluge of anti-corruption crusades on the telly is only an indicator that the media has become oh so powerful in  its reach, impact and effectiveness that they will seize every opportunity to make the most of every positive or negative byte it has on offer.
While free press/media has its advantages for any country, it has its disadvantages too. Uncontrolled media blitzkrieg has to be brought under the fold of a regulator, that  knows how to respect the freedom of press, creativity, and at the same time evaluates the deleterious impact of its extremities on the overall health of the nation, being subjected to continuous free programming of the ugly kind. Its time for a re-look of media regulation and broadcast policy.
The Anna episode and Baba episode is only an indicator that as India prospers, there'll be members emerging from the society wanting to bring about positive change, using raw aggression or clumsy non-aggressive strategies, their motive genuine or otherwise. While thats healthy even in a half baked democracy like ours, it will also lead to rogues trying to make their way into this. Many will fall by the wayside, as not every one can rule, and that the numbers that can be accommodated at the top is limited. Baba did his fast, Anna did his, and that democracy allows them; the govt ejected out Baba's non-violent mass gathering in the name of maintaining order and decorum in the capital city, which again, democracy allows.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The IPL Itch

Lets face's IPL was designed on the lines of the English premiership football, and the whole world knows the success of that sporting model.
I've been wondering for long now, why cricket figures so highly in the subcontinent. whereas its following is on steep decline in other big cricketing countries, including England, and there aren't too many countries keen on taking it up seriously to help populate that list. My guess is that the number of permutations and combinations that this otherwise slow sport throws up makes the detailing of those very complexities compelling to follow in the Indian subcontinent, cos otherwise the other more interesting bit, which is the result of any game is out only in 4 hrs in case of 20-20 and 8 hrs in case of one day, and 3-5 days in case of Test match cricket.
Subhash Chandra n' Kapil Dev in case of ICL, followed by Modis and BCCI in case of IPL have to be commended for creating a sports business model, purely playing on the country's passion for the game, and mixing it up with oodles of glamor to give it the much needed flavor for it to go the distance.
Country V/s the club seems like a stupid logic. No ones bound to play for one or the other. If it is injury or fatigue or anything else that keeps an established player away from playing for the nation, there are plenty of new players waiting in the wings to take their place, and thats again thanks to the IPL or the domestic league where they probably would've been spotted with their skill and talent. There were times when some established players used to cement their place in the national team to such an extent that an exciting young prospect would've started greying by the time he got the opportunity to represent the country. Things have changed, the sport itself has changed, and again, while there'll be people cribbing about the players, and the changing sport on the sidelines...the game must go on !!!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Relationship Basics

During a seminar, a woman asked," How do I know if I am with the right person?" the author then noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so he said, "It depends. Is that your partner?" In all seriousness, she answered "How do you know?" Let me answer this question because the chances are good that it's weighing on your mind replied the author. Here's the answer.
Every relationship has a cycle...In the beginning; you fall in love with your partner. You anticipate their calls, want their touch, and like their idiosyncrasies. Falling in love wasn't hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn't have to DO anything. That's why it's called "falling" in love.
People in love sometimes say, "I was swept of my feet." Picture the expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something happened TO YOU. Falling in love is a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few months or years of being together, the euphoria of love fades. It's a natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse's idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts. The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship; you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage. At this point, you and/or your partner might start asking, "Am I with the right person?" And as you reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when relationships breakdown.
The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it's learning to love the person you found.
People blame their partners for their unhappiness and look outside for fulfilment. Extramarital fulfilment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most common. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your relationship. It lies within it. I'm not saying that you couldn't fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you'd feel better. But you'd be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully to this): The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it's learning to love the person you found.
SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work on it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it demands WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make it work. Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your partner). Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. If you know and apply these laws, the results are predictable. Love is therefore a "decision". Not just a feeling.
Remember this always: God determines who walks into your life. It is up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let GO!!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Royal Austerity

While we all appeared to have immersed ourselves in this Royal Will-Kat wedding fanfare on the telly to find an escape from the not so Royal, mechanical lifestyles we're all so used to, wondering what it'd take to shed that overzealous fascination for all things British or western.
While this one was billed to be a Royal wedding conducted in austere times, there's nothing to deter the British royalty to splurge, and qualify as the most pampered monarchy on the globe, a shrunken invitee list notwithstanding.
Might sound as a spoiler after all that merriment, but as responsible emerging economies, our Govts could've perhaps sounded to our past colonial masters to apply a more frugal approach to their lifestyle, their monarchy included, especially in our very interconnected, and interwoven economies. "Mind your own business" is a reply that could be well anticipated in keeping with their hardened snobbery, but if emerging economies could be instructed to cut down on emissions and slow down on consumption, it's only fair to apply a reciprocal logic here.
Point is, while candy coated sweet-talk by heads of state from western countries is consumed with a fair degree of seriousness, it's time the emerging powers in the current world order give a piece of their mind, solicited or otherwise.
While, there's been enough commentary both on and off the telly on how Will and Kat looked resplendent in their sartorial elegance, not too sure if Kate will ever equal or fill the void that was brought about by Diana's demise. Comparisons with Diana were bound to happen, as the Brits would look for iconification of this new member of the royal family, and Kate will perhaps live up to it, and generate a huge following of her own in times ahead, but it might not have the same constituents and legacy that princess Diana left behind.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Massive Flight of Capital

The growth of the economy at 9.5% sounds mouthwatering, but wait till the following views might serve as a spoiler, an eye opener, only to leave your mouths dry. Pun unintended.
With a 2 trillion dollar economy, bustling at 9.5%, ever wondered, why there is not much to see on the ground, barring a few shining islands of excellence that you see peppered around the country (read major metro cities) yet still running up a huge fiscal deficit that successive ministers/govts fail to rein in ?
Politicians and powers that be will always take refuge behind the reasoning of the country's mammoth population and the efficiencies/inefficiencies of the great democracy India is, to put to rest any one pointing to the lack of an efficient system, and importantly the lack of an equitable system.
Everyone in the country loves the idea of capital coming in to the country, be it through FDIs, stock markets, outsourced jobs et al.
If the people of the country are hardworking, talented, and enterprising, the political class, bureaucracy, and powerfully rich individuals have let the country down big time.
We talk of country-wide scams adding up to big numbers, all associated to some politico or another. My take is, siphoning money off by a few select individuals in power in international trade dealings, though ethically absolutely wrong, is not so much of an issue for us all, so far as the money stays in the country black or white. Read on...
Its the flight of capital out of the country, for good, thats worrisome.
We are a nation that was ruled by foreigners, and still reel under the influence of a colonial hangover. The powerful and the political class do not mind serving as the agents of loot for erstwhile and currently rich foreigners in this new age economy too.
Its called the art of global politics, that in the age of globalization makes it all the more justifiable for the country's power brokers to cement their individual global standing by appeasing and pleasing their western and now also the nouveau rich eastern masters.
There are several known channels from where the flight of capital out of the country is made possible.

- Slush funds making their way in and out of the stock markets.
- Highly leveraged complex financial instruments introduced into the country by foreign financial institutions to tap into the greed quotient of a bubbling economy, understood well by a few and very well by only a select few.
- Unaccounted money stashed away in Swiss banks and those lesser known CROOK'S Island.
- Shady non-transparent defence, power, energy deals.

While we all revel and celebrate in our new found status of a powerful emerging economy amplified by our own sound bytes, there's a backdoor virus thats eating away deep into the foundation of our economy.
The country's fiscal state is held to ransom at the hands of the political class, and a few wealthy individuals, who've known to get around the system by decoding well this messy system that this great country operates in.
Investments in defense deals here takes the cake from among the three key points listed above.
With spends that are a significant chunk of the country's GDP, several deals involve buying of military hardware from western nations that are outdated and/or non-usable in the western economies itself, and our government terms it as upgradation of our defense systems. To rub salt to injury, there's a huge premium paid to these mostly western suppliers, much more than the market price, to get these upgrades into the country too; recent Russian deals being a case in point.
I wonder how many RTIs are raised for information seeking defense deal details. Perhaps these deals qualify for special immunity against RTI due to its classified nature, and thats probably what makes it a classical "protected" loot.

While all of this happens, we Indians will continue toiling away, with little clue about the gaping holes that allow this leak from the country's exchequer.

To make matters worse, all of this capital outflow, also translates to inflation created more out of artificial suppression on the supply side and less on the demand side.
For a country the size of India, rich in resources and vast areas that can be developed in to cultivable agricultural land and new urban zones, the premium that land attracts in the country is unjustifiable, despite the large population.
Guess what? thats just another route for our hard earned money to get into govt. coffers first and then fly out of the country.
The same laws then also apply to rising food, fuel and commodity prices. The Iraq, Afghanistan war stories, unrest in the middle-east in the name democracy, is for all to see, but its for us to assess the real implications once the dust settles. Not too difficult to guess who is orchestrating all of that eh!!

Please loot if you really have to "hey politicians", but plz ensure that you don't enable the capital to make its way to a foreign land. You can run mini-economies with that loot within this large country itself, with tangible benefits that our country can accrue out of your talents.
Go global by all means, but think local, when it comes to reaping the fruits of your loot.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Flavors of Fasting All The Way to Lokpal

Score : Anna Hazare c PEOPLE b GOVT at 72

Appears Anna Hazare and his supporters' "Fast-fest" is a big case of mis-guided optimism.
The poor man doesn't deserve to be in the line of fire and lead charge at this grand old age.
More than his fast unto death, the media is the noise maker here, much like it is in most hyped tamashaas. Media is terming it as the biggest revolution ever to happen since independence. Thats playing with the power of words to "bheja fry" a nation into believing crap bytes.
Sample this, minus the media out of this Fasting gimmick, and you'll see people going back to normal.
Strangely, there's also a feel good factor among the supporters here, unlike in other movements, where there is disappointment, and disgust writ large over the revolting class. And I believe, there's something to do with the economic well being of the country in general, and at the same time an envious mindset we're developing to the staggering sums we hear in scams and contracts. Almost gives many ambitious and/or greedy people in a high growth economy a sense of endless possibilities !!!!!
Point is, if the Lokpal bill was to be pushed to have an inclusive civilian involvement, which itself is not a big deal actually, we might as well have the new age media screw the govt in to submission, why bother dear old Anna Hazare ?
Create a strong civilian group with representation by media bigwigs and a few from the sporting world, some from the corporate world, amply supported by mass referendum via twitter/facebook/blog and get the govt's Lokpal version tweaked. Simple !!!
But its not as simple, cos the whole idea of thinking that an independent unbiased civilian element in the Lokpal is gonna change things for the better, think again. That most certainly will NOT be the case. The govts, bureaucrats, and set establishments have emerged from the society, and not fallen from the skies. Its people like you and me for heaven's sake !!
Bringing about a change in the form of Lokpal, thinking that it'll get a billion plus to fall in line is the height of foolishness.
Some moderates would say, "there has to be a start somewhere...we cant allow things to just slip out of hand !!", to which I'd say, getting order of the magnitude thats desired does not happen through a bill, but a mindset change. Till the mindset doesn't undergo change, there's nothing to stop even the appointed members constituting the Lokpal getting corrupted. Such if the effect of Power...
A case in point is our judiciary, which was created to be immune from such vice and evils has also fallen prey to this.
Now, how to get that mindset change is the moot point here, and there are several ways of getting that implemented, which I'll cover in another blog instance. Till then Happy Fasting !!!