Biz and Eco

Democracy

By Rahul Kumar:

With debates and talks about elections to be held in 2014 and the strategies and course of action by various political parties not to mention the coalition UPA presently in power for winning the elections, I couldn’t help but notice the influence of these elections and the democratic society over the economy, as well as the decisions and techniques manipulating its course. First of all, without a doubt the decision of our great leaders who got us out of the claws of British colonial system regarding the choice of constitution and system (democratic) we were to follow was not at all questionable upon and not just Indian constituency but the countries around the globe for example US has chosen it and praised its success. However every system has two fold traits, and so far we’ve been converging towards the smoother side of the democracy. But how many times we take down the monocles of respect towards the decisions of our old ones and put to test on a balance, pros and cons of this system.

 

Yes when we look at it from a social point of view the pros defeats the cons with whopping numbers. However we cannot overlook the other aspects it has been influencing such as the economy which has become a very serious concern these days. With slowdown in Indian economy, falling growth rate increasing trade deficit, falling currency consequent upon widening of the current account deficit and trade deficit, also not to mention the Eurozone crisis, which has not only influenced the European union, but also has had a great impact on global economy, hitting hard the western subcontinent like US as well as the Eastern coalitions like BRICS, there has emerged a great need for fierce economic reforms more than ever before. The need of the moment is for government to take stern actions to dilute the global slowdown as well as the inside problems. However with elections on horizon the inclination of government is more towards pleasing the population rather than bringing reforms, the indication of any such reforms seems a far-fetched dream.

The problem arises due to the little information over economic matters and more preference to quick gains by people. In a country with only a bunch of educated people, people are not aware of how the economic system works and why a certain decision is being taken up. For example, recently the rates of petrol were elevated and there was a spread of rage over this increase in rates. However little did people know about the reasons for the increase in prices. First of all, the petrol is no longer a government regularised commodity, hence the decision relating to the increase or decrease in prices of the petrol is no longer in hands of government, it was solely the decision of the oil companies due to the losses they’ve been incurring due to the falling rupee.

Now another argument against government arises that it could have given subsidiaries or it could have reduced taxes to dilute the impact of elevation in prices, but with a high fiscal deficit it wasn’t an option either. However with lack of information about the problems being faced by finance ministry, people started pin pointing government for their incompetence and lack of taking up necessary steps in bringing down the petrol prices. Another such case in this regards can be quoted when the former railway minister Mr Dinesh Trivedi tried and elevate the ticket prices. It had to face resistance from Trinamool Congress supremo, Mamata Banerjee, who just to project a public friendly image not only stopped this elevation from taking place but also forced government to change the railway minister. Once again political influences and voter inclination took precedence over economic gains. The ultimate result was rollback of these prices and coming up of new railway minister Mr Mukul Roy.

One of the most talked about instance of influence of democratic forces over economic decisions is “FDI in retail” which could have proved to be a boon not just for economy but for farmers and consumers. The farmers would have got right prices for their hard work and consumers would get commodities at right prices too. However the resistance came from retail owners who were afraid to lose their commission. Now just to keep this retail section happy and protect the vote bank from this section all the pros of FDI in retail were overlooked, and the idea had to be dropped. There’s a long list of such incidents where just to please the public and give them immediate gains for protecting the vote banks, the perfect reforms that may have pushed our crippled economic boat to a swift speeds were dropped. Now are we really in shape to question our finance ministers for economic slowdowns and not bringing necessary reforms when we are the ones pressurising them.

Next is the question of elections 2014. With an inflation rate of 7.2% and increasing pressure of public on government to bring down the prices the abrupt decisions of government to take steps to reduce these inflated prices on the cost of already wide deficits is but obvious. Unnecessary subsidiaries and decrease in taxes would be next steps to please the voters by our finance minister.

The democratic system has undoubtedly brought down many of the social evils prevailing in country for ages. But its flaws have also been overlooked for ages too. The problem is not in the democratic system; of course economic democracy is an integral part and is very crucial to economic equality and justice. However the near fossilised system needs reforms itself. A better understanding and amendments in old and dusty democratic system is needed. Also an understanding needs to be created within the public/voters about how the economy works and need to educate them in a better way regarding the economy, its working and the problems. We need aggressive and stout-hearted government to speed up our crawling economy. Aggressive reforms and far sightedness is the need of hour. And in a society like ours where the decisions are so much influenced by the voter and election point of view, and the public is merely interested in short term gains; the miraculous reforms merely seem like a mirage.

change sign

By Saloni A D:

Situational Management theory is undergoing a sea of change with most of its disciplines viz. Human Resource Management, Marketing Management, Financial Management, Operational Management, Systems Management etc. being seen as fluid disciplines.

Leaders world over, are gearing up to cope with “Change”. Firstly, the need is to understand “Change” by the leader himself and then prompt the “Change” in such a way so that there is decreased resistance when the task comes to operation. Hence, “Change” is apparent at Individual level, group level and at organizational level.

However, “Change” that happens to an organization can be distinguished from “Change” that is planned by its members. Organizations can use planned change to solve problems, to learn from experience, to reframe shared perceptions, to adapt to external environmental changes, to improve performance and to influence future changes.

There are three major theories of organization change that have received considerable attention in the field — Lewin’s Change Model, The Action Research Model and the Positive Model.

Despite their continued refinement, the models and practice of planned change are still in a formative stage of development and there is considerable room for improvement. Planned change has typically been characterized as involving a series of activities for carrying out effective organization development.

Although current models outline a general set of steps to be followed, considerably more information is needed to guide how those steps should be performed in specific situations. Planned change also tends to be described as rationally controlled, orderly process.

Critics have argued that although this view may be comforting, it is seriously misleading. They point out that planned change has a more chaotic quality, often involving shifting goals, discontinuous activities, surprising events, and unexpected combinations of changes. For example, Executives often initiate changes without plans that clarify their strategies and goals. As “Change” unfolds, new stake holders may emerge and demand modifications reflecting previously unknown or unvoiced means. Those emergent conditions make planned change a far more disorderly and dynamic process than is customarily portrayed, and conceptions need to capture that reality.

Reshaping the organization’s culture and design element becomes need of the hour. Organization transformation implies radical changes in how members perceive, think and behave at work. These changes go far beyond making the existing organization better or fine tuning the status quo. They are concerned with fundamentally altering the organizational assumptions about its functioning and how it relates to the environment. Changing these assumptions entails significant shifts in corporate philosophy and values and in the numerous structures and organizational arrangements that shape members’ behaviours. Not only is the magnitude of “Change” greater, but the change fundamentally alters the qualitative nature of the organization.

Leadership And Communication Traits in implementing Change Management: The ability to communicate has been a proven factor in leadership. Generally, a leader’s communication comprises:

– A sense of confidence and control over employees.
– His/her own feelings about the change.
– The degree to which he/she trusts the abilities of the employees to get through the change.
– A sense of purpose and commitment.
– The degree to which he/she accepts the reactions and feelings of employees.
– Expectations regarding behaviour that is seen as appropriate or inappropriate.
– the degree to which he/she is “connected to” employees’ situations and feelings or is “in-touch” with them.

It is clear that if the leader communicates effectively, he/she will be sending messages that decreases resistance, and encourages moving through the ‘change’, more effectively and positively.

Contemporary Managerial Communication pattern embraces both the basics of communications of yesteryears and complex electronic communication systems. Thus, the latest meaning to “Communication” has been “CREATING UNDERSTANDING”.

Whenever a leader communicates to employees about change, he/she should be striving to convey the following position:

a) That he/she is personally committed to the change, and is seeing it through, even if it has negative consequences.
b) That he/she can recognize that the change negatively impacts upon some people.
c) That he/she is open to discussion of the feelings of employees regarding the change.
d) That he/she is confident that the “team” can make it through the changes.
e) That he/she wants and needs input to make the changes in work.

Sometimes the leader won’t be committed to the change, or won’t be very confident that self and the staff can pull it off, particularly when the change is imposed from above. While some may disagree, it is important that the leader still conveys an image of strength and commitment despite his/her own misgivings. The change leader has a role to play, and if he/she have misgivings or strong negative emotional reactions of own, it may be more effective if he/she underplays them. If the leader shows anger about a change, he/she may legitimize the same kind of negative behaviour in the staff.

While the leader shouldn’t hide his or her negative reactions completely, it is probably wise to keep them in the background by stating them in a matter of fact way and moving on with time.

Change is continuous. As a change leader, communication is the primary and most important tool. There is no substitute for good judgement and thus, change leaders need to be reflective and thoughtful about the ways they communicate.

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By Shobhit Agarwal:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, and the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Fact list-1

– Almost half the world, over 3 billion people, live on less than $2.50 a day.
– 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, and 270 million have no access to health services.
– 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized.
– Funds close to the tune of $150 billion are required to meet the complete targets set by countries in Millennium Development Goal      (MDG) to wipe out poverty.

Fact list-2

– Global military expenditure stands at over $1.7 trillion in annual expenditure.
– The UN was set up to be committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Yet, the UN’s entire budget is just a tiny fraction of the world’s military expenditure, approximately 1.8%.
– The military expenditure corresponds to 2.6 percent of world gross domestic product (GDP) or approximately $236 for each person in the world, having seen a 50% increase since 2001.

On combining the two lists together, what we get is a list of startling facts —

– Less than 1% of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school.
– Poverty will be eradicated many times over from the face of this planet if a fraction of the funds spent on military was spent on that front.
– Every person in the world will be immunized against all form of preventive diseases if only a small portion of the world’s military budget was employed for the same.

The facts are for everyone to see. It is not that we aren’t familiar with these facts. Rather, we choose to pretend to not be in the know-how of reality. Advocators will argue that war is a necessary evil required to maintain peace. But most such preachers of war have vested interests. With billions of dollars riding on arms sales and deals, rather than the need of the times, it is usually the need of economics that dictate the onset of war.

There is no novelty in talking about the cultural and social impact of war. Enough has been said and written about it and that too by people with significant credentials. However, what needs to talked about is the economics behind the war. Just to cite an example, the war on Iraq was carried out by the USA on the pretext of “removing a regime that developed and used weapons of mass destruction; that harboured and supported terrorists; committed outrageous human rights abuses and defied the just demands of the United Nations and the world.” Even at the initial phase of the war itself, theories about the chief reason of war being America’s intent on stamping an authority on Iraq’s oil fields had been doing the rounds.

On August 30, 2005, Bush stated that one of the roles of the occupation of Iraq was ‘also’ to prevent oil fields from falling into hands of terrorists: “If Zarqawi and Bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks. They’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions.” Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview that the removal of Saddam Hussein had been essential to secure world oil supplies. He quoted, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.

We see how what appeared to be a clear cut war against a tyrant dictator, has more to it than what meets the eye. And this unfortunately is true for almost all the wars that have been fought in the past century. What is further surprising is to know that at a time when a deep economic recession is causing much turbulence in the civilian world, defence giants such as Boeing and EADS, or Finmeccanica and Northrop Grumman, are enjoying a reliable and growing revenue stream from countries eager to increase their military might.

Wars have been fought in the past and will continue to be fought in the future. The vested interests of a few are going to outnumber the needs of the many. At least, the powers who initiate wars owe the bearers the real reasons behind their attacks.

india-194701

By Pradyut Hande:

In the bustling 21st century global economy that remains in the throes of perennial flux, India has traversed a tortuous path of socio-economic progression through the ages. Despite the economic slowdown and consequent market volatility, India is today one of the fastest growing economies in the world; well on its way to realizing its potential as a rapidly emerging socio-economic leviathan. It suffices to say, this can be facilitated predominantly through proactive and progressive governance and wide sweeping reformatory changes that relegate “policy paralysis” to the backburner. Granted the fact that despite the tumults of the day, India’s future appears bright; it is important to take cognizance of our past that eventually led us to embark on our current socio-economic developmental trajectory. Why is it that India presently languishes behind its fellow Asian powerhouse, China? Why have we always been looked upon as a state that is “on its way to realizing its potential”? What has hindered our economic progression over the years? Let me elucidate a critical collective factor that I believe is responsible for our predicament today…that has cost us almost two decades in our cycle of economic progression.

1947; after centuries of external subjugation, India was finally free of foreign rule. The air was abuzz with ecstasy, excitement and anticipation as our time had eventually arrived: India’s tryst with destiny. A charismatic, Jawaharlal Nehru was sworn in as independent India’s first Prime Minister. The task before our leaders to galvanize a fragmented and pulverized economy into some sort of action was daunting and required a demonstration of great courage, initiative and character. Given the prevalent global scenario and his ideological leanings, Nehru and his trusted coterie chose to embrace a “Mixed Economy” under the ambit of Planned Development to alleviate the masses from the depressing quagmire of poverty, unemployment and general backwardness. Nehru had committed the nation to “the establishment of a socialist pattern of society where the principal means of production are under social ownership or control”. Enamoured by the economic growth of the erstwhile USSR, Nehru’s socialistic blueprint turned out to be a juxtaposed amalgamation of Keynesian macroeconomics, Stalinist public investment policies and Gandhian rural development measures. On prima facie evidence, it appeared to be an idyllic ideology lined with potential, provided the government was able to establish a sound and flexible framework to facilitate its implementation.

However, with the advent of time, it became increasingly clear that Nehruvian socialism was not the palliative to the country’s woes. However, well intentioned he may have been, his flawed ideology coupled with even poorer management had set India on a disastrous course. In a bid to integrate his ideology into a democratic mainframe, set in a pluralistic society, the hope was that the “mixed economy” would conflate the benefits of socialism and capitalism; propelled by the state’s leading role in industrialization. However, all it did was spawn the birth of an increasingly interventionist state with heavily leaning towards the establishment of a largely ineffective and grossly underperforming public sector, steeped in Kafkaesque bureaucratic controls that further stymied growth. The powerful albeit monopolistic public sector failed to function anywhere near optimal levels in the absence of autonomy and soon became a huge drain on monetary and non-monetary resources. The state run bureaucracy continued to grow stronger and more rigid as potentially “game changing” reforms met with depressingly premature deaths. The excessive controls that were instituted to facilitate the proliferation of capitalistic tenets across a stagnant economy soon undermined its very purpose and suppressed innovation of any kind, further diminishing economic returns.

The private sector was shunned and riddled with regulations and abominably excessive taxation which killed the faintest spark of entrepreneurship and innovation. Furthermore, our ills were compounded by the fact that we chose to adopt a deeply internalized, import substituting strategy instead of following an export promoting approach with the objective to align the Indian economy with that of the world. Foreign investment was frowned upon and further alienated us at a time when we desperately required our integration into the global economic fabric. The fact that we had just tasted independence after years of foreign rule may explain our distrust of foreign involvement and association. Our faith in the state, although admirable, was grossly misplaced as we continued to pay heavily for our leaders’ impaired vision and floundering mismanagement. As it transpired, Nehruvian socialism that promised so much on paper failed on more counts than one, in both ideology and practice. The dreams of millions that hinged upon its success were shattered in the wake of our poor socio-economic progress for over four decades after independence.

The idealistic “mixed economy” approach was novel in its character. One can understand why it held immense appeal at that time for our leaders and policy formulators. However, its efficacy was questionable at best. Unfortunately enough for us, despite taking cognizance of its failings, we continued to regard the “system” as sacrosanct and sunk deeper into the abyss of low productivity and non-performance while our Asian neighbours embarked on a bold new reformatory trajectory. It took us until 1991 to act on our follies and embrace a majorly liberalized outlook that paved the path towards unprecedented economic growth in the years to follow.

We can lament the limitations and misadventures of our past policy makers and their myopic policies, but these are events that set us on the path that we tread on today. Having learnt from our failings, we ought to now channelize our efforts and resources to further our reformatory agenda down various avenues in our quest to push for greater socio-economic growth in the years to come.

Tata-Steel-logo

By Ankit Varma:

“Industrial Relation” is a function of many variables. Some of the contributing factors are participative management, grievance settlement machinery, wage determination etc. Tata Steel is the largest steel manufacturer in India with an annual capacity of 23.5 million ton and employees approximately 80,000. Tata Steel workers in a century-old history have not gone on a strike at Jamshedpur, where its Indian manufacturing operations are largely based.

The recent incidents at Maruti-Suzuki plant in Manesar have highlighted the perils of friction between employer and employee. The functioning and model of Tata Steel in many ways can be perceived as ideal and other unions across the country can adopt similar practices.

Growth of the trade union is a response to the challenge thrown by the modern industry. Viewed in this background, the origin of trade union movement in Tata Steel were due to the same reason as elsewhere in Europe and America. Since 1907 dissatisfaction was increasing in the working class in Tata Steel. However, it was only in 1920 that labour organization was born after great struggle with the management.

The genesis of trade union Tata Steel can be traced back to 1920. Over the years the workers’ union has evolved under the capable leadership of stalwarts such as Mahatma Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad and Subhas Chandra Bose to name a few.

Presently, over 25 trade unions exist in Tata Steel. Some of them are independent trade unions whereas some are affiliated to Central trade union federations, such as CITU, AITUC etc. But these trade unions have hardly any following among the workers and supervisors of Tata Steel. This is the primary reason for the non-political nature of the union. At present only one strong trade union is existing since long called Tata Workers’ Union (TWU).

Tata Workers’ Union is a registered trade union with a written constitution. Through INTUC it is also affiliated to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. This helps it to adopt international welfare practices for its members. The structure of the union is highly organized. Tata Workers’ Union has a general body compromising of ordinary members. Above the general body in the hierarchy of TWU are the Executive Committee members. These executive committee members represent the workers and supervisors of all the department of Tata Steel at Jamshedpur. They are democratically elected from their constituencies.

The constitution of the Tata Workers Union provides that members of the union shall propose the name of the candidate from their own respective units. The Unions’ constitution provides about the members, their membership, holding meetings and other relevant matters. The constitution provides that a strike shall not be resorted to unless according to the opinion of the executive committee, gross injustice has been done to a member or members of the union, and this will take place only after all other means have failed to bring about redressal or an improvement in the situation. The resolution for strike has to be passed by majority of the members of the executive committee and by that of the general body of members in a mass meeting.

A close look at the growth of leadership brings out clearly two factors that have helped industrial harmony, peace and understanding in Tata Steel. The guidance received by national leaders has helped in growth of responsible union and the outside guide and philosophers helped growth of internal leadership and bestowed them with the same philosophy as they preached and practiced.

kingfisher-Vijay-Mallya

By Kriti Rathore:

I am sitting on my seat and watching the movie Namesake. The red clad women, wearing fitted skirt and a smart red blouse suddenly asked, “Ma’am what would you like to have in the dinner? Vegetarian or non-veg?” I went for the first option. The ambience is captivating, service flawless and the air hostesses have got pretty faces, moreover they are impeccable in their service not like the ones in Air India. Precisely, my journey to Vienna was splendid.

Literally, I was in a state of awe when I came to know that Mr. Vijay Mallya is going through heavy debts and the flying license may get ceased too ,crores of debt in foreign banks adds to his trouble. What went wrong with the airlines? Where were the loopholes in management? Why couldn’t Mallya resolve the mystery around? These questions haunted me and through the news papers and internet I got the basic idea that Mallya’s airline dream is falling like cards. I could not ingest this fact without a hitch as I loved Kingfisher airlines and the epitome of Mallya’s king size style completely.

With losses of about 5 crore a day, ₹6250 crore debt, bank accounts almost frozen by the tax authorities , everything is on the verge of a collapse. It seems the wings of Mallya in the aviation sector are being slaughtered bit by bit. Acceptance is hard but u can’t drift from the bitter truth, turmoil is everywhere around. Mallya’s flying empire is collapsing and the worst part; he can’t recollect the falling bricks.

Is it Mallya only who could not cope with the problems plaguing this industry or it is the whole aviation sector of India? Sectors other than aviation are accelerating at a fast pace but the growth in aviation sector is still less that 3%.We all are aware of the fact that GDP won’t grow and the economy won’t prosper if aviation is not a part of it. Air fuel is very expensive and then at the same time, government has imposed heavy taxes on the imported aircrafts and other aviation imports (spare parts etc.). It becomes challenging for the companies to administer everything at the same time.

Mallya’s case was alike; still he did some greater blunders which later added to his agony. Actually, Mallya is a versatile man; he had hands into many places like:

1. He is the liquor baron and the UB group is the second largest liquor company in the world by volume. Brands like bagpiper whisky and kingfisher beer are under this flag. Acquisitions made under Mallya are Whyte & Mackay.

2. Formula One: Mallya and a Dutch family bought the Spyker F1 team for 88 million Euros in 2007.

3. Football: he invested in the football clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

4. Cricket: Royal Challengers Bangalore cost him $111.6 million in 2008.

5. And other expenses like, 26 properties across the world, owns cars, sword of Tipu Sultan worth Euro 175,000, bought the personal effects of Mahatma Gandhi for $1.8 million, owns luxury yacht and more.

That is why Mallya got deflected into so many pat’s and invested more and more in spite of going through heavy losses in Kingfisher Airlines. As stated by The Week Magazine, Mallya knew how to become big, global but he didn’t take care of revenue generation and cost control. Also, G.R Gopinath, founder of Air Deccan said that Mallya chose a model where cost is more than revenue (His model was hub and spoke where small towns are connected with the large metros and then connecting them to larger destinations across India and abroad).

Lastly, I would say that the airline business is really intricate and very cutthroat. we can term it as dog eats dog types, which is capital intensive with a very low profit margin. As the air traffic in India is prospering at a large scale, in the same respect government should reduce the taxes on the air fuel imported and all the other aviation products. Because if the aviation sector does not grow hand in hand with the GDP and the economy in general, India cannot keep pace with the other fast growing economies like China, Brazil and more.

A simple yet a captivating quote by Claude Grahame White, which will add a fuel to my thought of engine says:
“First Europe, and then the globe, we will be linked by flight, and nations so knit together, that they will grow to be next-door neighbours .What railways have done for the nations, airways will do for the world.”

Apple-Twitter-logo

By Pradyut Hande:

After conquering the electronic realms of computers, portable music players, smart phones and tablets; Silicon Valley behemoth, Apple Inc. has trained its sights on “biting” into the social media pie. At a time when communal networking is growing in popularity the world over, and competition in a nascent albeit fragmented market is enhancing exponentially; venturing down strategically diverse avenues, keeping the company’s core competencies in mind, is critical to maintaining a market stronghold. Having floundered in its endeavour to make a dent in the social media space thus far, Apple is now contemplating a strategic investment in Twitter to further its efforts at galvanising its social network market presence. The impact of social media on consumerism and buyer behaviour cannot be undermined in a global economy. Thus, Apple’s impending foray into this domain promises to open up a plethora of opportunities at both a macro and micro level.

Apple doesn’t have to own a social network. But does Apple need to be social? Yes!” said CEO, Tim Cook recently; words that are reflective of a potential investment down this channel. An impending stake purchase in a market leader like Twitter would create far reaching consequences for both companies alike.

What’s in it for Apple?

For starters, one must note that it is not as though Apple hasn’t tried to make inroads into the social media market in the past. It is just that its efforts have fallen flat in the face of mounting competition from perennially proactive rivals. For instance, Apple’s relationship with Facebook got off to an inauspicious start when attempts at integrating key Facebook features into its own music-oriented social network, Ping, came undone owing to mutual disagreements. Additionally, the fact that a major competitor, Microsoft, already owns a stake in Facebook; makes Apple’s position in this space all the more vulnerable. Add to that the mounting pressure being exerted by an upwardly mobile Google with its own social network, Google Plus, and Apple’s “social media market experiment” thus far, pales in comparison.

However, fortunately for Apple, its attempts at priming Twitter as an integral partner has spawned a more mutually rewarding relationship in the past. The company has incorporated the latest Twitter features in the robust Apple OS that runs on its computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets. Over time, the Apple – Twitter alliance has treaded the path of calibrated stability. Perhaps now is the time to take the relationship to “the next level“.

With over 117 billion USD in liquid assets in its coffers, a financial investment in Twitter at this juncture in time appears to be a prudent move. It would mark a departure from its prevalent strategy of primarily buying out upcoming start ups that can be strategically integrated into its global supply chain. Furthermore, a potential deal would help Apple leverage Twitter’s competencies, reach and marketing prowess to gain a valuable foothold in the social media arena. It may not bestow Apple with the market leader position it is so accustomed to, but it would definitely pave the way for bigger and better things to come. While its competitors (and allies) attempt to enter the mobile phone and tablet markets (read Google and Facebook), Apple’s proactive surge in social media would serve as an effective “counter“. With mergers, acquisitions, strategic investments and an expanding portfolio of competencies fuelling greater possibilities; the tech market remains in the throes of perennial flux and caprice. Apple’s potential move thus, is not just prudent, but also necessary.

What’s in it for Twitter?

With almost 150 million monthly active users, micro blogging site, Twitter has been at the forefront of the “social networking revolution” in the last few years. It may have carved a niche for itself, but in an unpredictable market it ought to remain vigilant and receptive to change. A potential investment oriented alliance with Apple would further augment its strong financial position. Twitter has more than 600 million USD liquid assets, primarily accrued through advertisement revenue.

Furthermore, it would prop up its valuation from USD 8.5 Billion to approximately USD 10 Billion. Being closely associated with a technology giant like Apple would consolidate its market perception and position. It would also come as a much needed shot in the arm in the face of widespread conjecture surrounding the over valuation and inflated potential business projections of social media companies. In the wake of Facebook’s lacklustre showing on the share market, investors are liable to tread with caution.

An investment by Apple would also prop Twitter up suitably till its impending IPO a few years down the line.

Thus, a potential deal would spawn and augment a mutually beneficial relationship in an increasingly dispersed market landscape. The fact that Twitter does not plan to venture into Apple’s traditional markets, lends credence to the partnership’s solidity. This is unlike the situation with companies like Google and Facebook that have stepped up efforts to challenge Apple’s supremacy in its familiar stronghold of the mobile phone market.

Whatever be the case, all these company directed undertakings are symptomatic of a gradually changing consumer mentality. A strong consumer focus coupled with a vigilant eye on the competitor in the rear view mirror and sound strategic sense will be the name of the game moving forward.

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By Subhayan Mukerjee:

The economic and political success of the United States of America, since the end of the Second World War had prompted their cousins across the Atlantic to dream of an entity that could be called the United States of Europe. But between this vision and its implementation lies a plethora of political, linguistic, financial and nationalist borders, that cut up and divide Europe into small nation states, many of which are similar in physical and economic size to the states of America. This proliferation of borders in Europe has had a crippling effect on its economic wellbeing, especially after the European states lost the colonial hinterlands in Asia and Africa whose natural resources were the bedrock of their economic health. To compensate for the loss of the colonies, European nation states have been dreaming of an economic and political union that would rival the Russian confederation of the East and the United States on the other side of the Atlantic.

The path to this final union was supposed to lie through three steps. The first is the European common market that would dissolve trade and customs barriers across Europe and convert it into one economic entity. The second step was to give this economic entity a common European currency called the Euro. And the third step which has not been fully implemented is the creation of a European parliament in Strasbourg which would create an entity where individual European nationalities will be subsumed.

This glorious vision of European political unity could have been realized if the laws of economics and that of human behavior were not so obstinately complex. Between the proverbial cup and the limp, between the monetary union of Europe and the vision of a unified political entity based out of Strasbourg, Europe suffered a major slip, or rather, stumbled and fell flat on its face, precisely because the economic union was not supported by the underlying political union. The behavior of a currency, in terms of its valuation with other global currencies is closely governed by the nature of the economy, which in turn is governed by underlying political decisions regarding government spending, fiscal deficit and public indebtedness. If governments behave with reckless profligacy, the worth of the currency decreases. But in the case of Europe, we have the paradoxical situation of a currency which is supposed to have the same value across all of Europe, but is supported by political and economic policies that are vastly different from each other. These internal inequalities are the cause of economic distortions that have brought Europe to a position where a single economic currency seems to be an impossibility.

Countries like Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain have run up huge national debts which they have no way to repay. Usually this would have meant their currencies would be devalued. But this is not possible because the same Euro is also being used by Germany and France, where the economy is stronger and where the currency is more valuable. There is no easy answer to this conundrum. Either the Euro must be broken up or each country should return to the use of its national currency. Or, each individual European country must surrender its political sovereignty or at least its economic sovereignty, which is its right to print currency, to a unified central bank. Surrendering sovereignty at the altar of a unified Europe is something that the countries of Europe are not yet reconciled with. On the other hand, the break of the Euro is an equally frightening possibility that threatens to unravel the carefully assembled work of European unity that Europeans have been striving for since the end of World War 2.

Europe is caught between a rock and hard place, between Scylla and Charybdis, and between the devil and the deep blue sea. No one knows what the answer to this predicament is. So everybody has stopped thinking and is now waiting for Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening to the London Olympics.

no_offshore

By Shobhit Agarwal:

What has been India’s greatest export to the USA in the past decade? It is not cotton yarn and fabrics; it is not drugs and pharmaceuticals and it, most certainly, isn’t gems and jewels. It is a vast mix of white-collar professionals, particularly Doctors and Engineers.

Bangalore has long been making waves for being the city that brought about the IT renaissance in India. But, its existence was taken to an all new level after being mentioned in one of the policies of the US president, Barack Obama, dubbed as the ‘Say no to Bangalore and yes to Buffalo’ policy, wherein, tax-incentives given to American companies that created jobs overseas in places like Bangalore would be scrapped and instead, be given to those creating jobs inside the U.S., in places like Buffalo. Since then, Obama has made frequent calls to the American companies to stop their overt reliance on India and China for man-power and skilled labour, and to look for employment from within the country.

Plagued by insufficient infrastructure and policy paralysis, year by year, there is a mass exodus of skilled professionals from India, looking to make it big in environments that are more conducive to work. With its technological advancement and resource availability, America is seen as a hot destination. Hence, every year, we have a whole bunch of fellow Indians, armed with visas and work permits, flying across the globe to live the great American dream.

The IT boom at the turn of the century was followed by a number of American companies looking to set offshore centres in growing economies like India. That resulted in a plethora of job opportunities for the country with the highest youth population in the world. Youngsters, who otherwise were afraid of staying unemployed, due to lack of resources in the country, found themselves working in BPO’s; call-centres in particular. Although it meant they had to put up fake accents and at times be subjected to abusing foreigners, they were happy to be in a position where they received pay checks.

But with the latest change in stance, the Indian outsourcing industry will be hit and hit hard. Not only will the companies in America be apprehensive about setting up centres at new shores, but also this sudden feel of national empowerment will lead to lesser issue of work permits to people from other countries.

However, looking at it from a different angle, this change in American policy can also do wonders to our own country. With the increment in the number of unemployed youth, the government, which all this time has been unable to rest the growing divide between inflation and unemployment, will be forced to retort to drastic measures and come up with strong, sustainable policies. But judging by the current political scenario in the country, a realist wouldn’t bet too many hopes on such positive changes.

23jobs1

By Shajan Samuel:

Self explanatory, nobody need explain the meaning of ‘Demographic Dividend’. India’s trump card during the recent high growth period – the so-called ‘demographic dividend’ was the result of a mistake, and that mistake is about to come back and whistle in our ears. We need our youth to become productive quickly, with more than 93% of jobs being in the unorganized sectors; implying that we need more jobs that require employees to provide manual labour, than mental labour. This Demographic Dividend which comes once in a life time, can very soon morph into a Demographic headache if we fail to skill our youth quickly. India’s sector wise GDP is split 17%, 28%, and 55% in agriculture, industry and services, respectively. The employed workforce is split 52%, 14%, 34%, correspondingly. The disproportionate services GDP contribution is an anomaly in a poorer country like India. The vast majority of service employment in India is in low-level and low-paying industries. The contribution of higher-level industries to the services GDP is driven by the information technology and software sectors which do not employ large numbers of people. We need the likes of states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to fire up. These are the states where the demographic explosion is going to come about from but will contribute insignificantly to the GDP. The laggards will have to become the front runners in every sphere, though the challenges are insurmountable.

That’s the good news. In the not-such-great news, finding the right people for all these new jobs may be harder than it appears. On the face of it, there is enough supply to supplement demand. After all, there are 12.8 million new candidates on the job scene every year. But when you delve deeper into their skills and qualifications, you wind up with a large subset of people who are inadequately trained and deficient in several core skills. Clearly, the need of the hour is skills-based training that can boost employability.

Stringent hiring standards in recent years have thrown the employability gap into sharper focus. Today’s employers are looking for candidates with well-developed communication skills, including proficiency in spoken English. While industry knowledge is vital, companies also value employees who can demonstrate adaptability, innovativeness, and the ability to think on one’s feet. Also high on their wish list are candidates with people-friendly skills who can successfully interact with customers and with their own team members.

Unfortunately, many in the current crop of candidates lack these critical skills. They find it hard to cope in a fast-paced environment that puts importance on effective communication and independent thinking.

How do we begin to address this issue? What can we do to ensure that our candidates are job-ready from Day One? The answers lie in one direction: our education & training system.

Traditional colleges are currently not meeting expectations when it comes to delivering quality training. Their textbook approach to education doesn’t provide the practical perspective that students need in order to be workplace ready. The classroom experience in many colleges is stuck in time and based on outdated curricula. When course offerings are changed, it is not based on a dialogue with companies to ensure that the changes are relevant to the business environment.

Perhaps because of this disconnect between degree-based colleges and employment, many of today’s youth don’t pursue higher education. Currently, out of the 15 to16 million students enrolling in colleges every year, barely half a million go on to graduate. A look at the broader population presents an equally grey picture. In 2009, out of the 232 million youth in the 20-34 age group, only 10 million opted to join a college-level program.

Traditional institutions, thus, have their work cut out for them. They need to work harder to improve their programs while showing solid results in employment outcomes.

In the meantime, it is up to the vocational training industry to pick up the slack in the system by supplying what it does best: practical and job-oriented training.

There is a real need for institutes that can accurately assess students’ strengths, develop their core skills in related areas, and then connect them to potential employers. Vocational training can then serve as either a substitute or as a supplement to traditional college education.

Currently, organised vocational training is still evolving in the country. Many institutes that focused solely on technical training in the initial years have tried to branch out into other areas but with limited success. They have largely operated as islands of training that are only weakly linked to the working world, and that has been their problem.

In order to be truly effective, vocational training should always have a finger on the pulse of industry. This requires ongoing interaction with companies to understand their hiring requirements and their candidate wish lists. By processing this input, institutes can gain deep insights into what employers are looking for in the people that they hire. They can then design programs that are truly aligned with industry and workplace needs. When combined with tools such as on-the-job training and e-learning, this will very quickly translate into greater employability and job preparedness for all of their students.

There is no denying that a candidate skills gap is weighing down India’s employment system. Quality vocational training can be part of a quick and nimble response to the problem. Done right, it can help to bridge the gap and bring supply in line with demand in the marketplace.

Inclusive growth can only happen when we uplift more students reeling under the BTL line and give them training leading to employment. The dichotomy between the public and private is pivotal to bringing both scalability and skill to move things at a faster pace. We need speed in execution.

State Governments run various schemes in this direction. One such scheme run by the A.P. Government is the “Employment Guarantee Marketing Mission Scheme” where the Government partners with education agencies to train and place students from BTL Line. The Government reimburses the entire fee including boarding. The programs are for 400 hours predominantly in retail, sales, marketing, customer service etc. The highlight of the Program has been the placement success which is currently clocking at 70%, Companies like Café Coffee day and Macdonald’s in the Hospitality sector, Big Bazar and others in Retail, Hindustan Lever’s in FMCG hire massively. We need many more such state Government led and funded programs. 58% of our graduates suffer from some sort of skill deficiency, and require last mile intervention to make them employable. Companies don’t want to pay for trained man power, and students want to pay for jobs and not for training.

Highest leverage solutions:

– Reforming the Apprentices Act. It is a matter of shame that India only has 2.5 lakh apprentices while Germany has 6 million and Japan has 10 million.
– Need a shared framework between employers and academia; e.g. TNEF, ICP’s
– Making government money available for private delivery. This needs contracting skills. The task can be accomplished through vouchers or by routing social spending like NREGS to skills.
– Vertical mobility. Need NVEQF to create a corridor between certificated, diplomas, associate degrees and degrees.
– Performance Management. Need to create the fear of falling and the hope of rising.

indian-rupee-vs-us-dollar

By Anuja Tandon:

After the international financial crisis of 2008, the great economic analysts of our country had promised a continuously increasing growth rate, thus bringing in disappointment. After the 8.4% growth rate of 2010, India faced a disheartening growth of 6.5% in 2011-12. The persistent inflation, continual depreciation of the rupee against dollar, has brought down our expectation for the growth of 2012-13 down to around 7.6%. It is like going back to the 90s again.

From the time of the British, we have been trying to depreciate our currency to support our exports. What with our increasing fiscal deficit, a depreciated (to an extent, of course) rupee and increased exports, we got a good new accelerated growth rate in the mid 90s and from 2003 to 2007. Then what is it about this current depreciation that is so bad for us?

Isn’t arguing that the depreciated rupee is good for our exports and thus good for our output production valid? So let us start taking everything step by step. It is like playing a macroeconomics game. To increase growth we need to increase our output production. For this we need Foreign Institutional Investment. But due to our persistent high inflation, two digits, since the last two years, our foreign investors are running away despite high interest rate in our country.

Now you could say that shouldn’t our government provide us with the investment required to improve our dilapidated infrastructure to increase production? But you have to keep in mind that the fiscal deficit of our government is already very high, what with all the subsidies like food, oil etc. Controlling this fiscal deficit is also crowding out domestic investment since the interest rate is high.

So to sum up the government investment (excluding their conversion of public sector enterprises to private sector enterprises) cannot be increased further and foreign investment is decreasing due to fall in confidence in rupee due to continuous depreciation and inflation. Encouraging domestic investors is also hard because of high interest rate and low infrastructure facilities.

Moreover, the thought that depreciated rupee could encourage our exports is true only to some extent as the international demand is low.

Also our huge import bills which include oil import and gold import (although it has reduced to some extent) are worsening our situation.

All in all it is not a good situation for our country. So this time depreciation is becoming a huge backdrop for India’s growth. To make it stable RBI is selling some of its foreign reserves but too much will further lower investor’s confidence in our rupee. Such a complicated scenario.

In my opinion, strengthening our internal economy is the best way to get back on the track. Reducing corruption will go a long way in decreasing our fiscal deficit! Also further privatization of public sector enterprises is the need of the hour! At least increased competition will improve efficiency. Decentralization that is dividing the central roles and giving it to the people who are actually living at the grass root level will also help. Proper working institutions selected competitively will work better in supervising that the various subsidies and their distribution is efficient. Also research and development in agriculture, alternative energy source etc should also be encouraged. So whenever you see an M.Tech or PhD in Engineering or related field, boost them up.

All this is very hard for such a big and democratic country like India but not impossible. Already the first steps have been taken. It is the continuation, side by side a turbulent outside world, that is posing a problem. But hopefully we will see get out of this bad weather with a more balanced and self- sufficient (to the maximum extent possible) economy.

financial quotient

By Pallavi Dani:

Financial management in India has largely been an area of concern for accountants, bankers and those closely involved in the Financial World. A common man would hardly ever bother about the nitty-gritty of the complex financial matters. This is astonishing, keeping in mind that we trade in money in its various forms – cash, loans, credit, and stocks – with people around us every single day. Yet most of our knowledge about money comes from sources just like us, from our families, friends, through random tips etc. And without the right information, we keep struggling to make our ends meet. In this increasing volatile world economy, the need to have financial intelligence has been felt like never before.

Financial Quotient (FQ), just like intelligence quotient or emotional quotient is a measure of financial intelligence. It is your FQ that helps you to make informed decisions about your money and lowers the risk of loosing it in a stumbling global market. It opens up a whole new world with numerous opportunities to increase our wealth. While care has been taken by our education system to improve our IQ and by the rising business setup to develop our EQ, little has been done in the area of FQ.

When it comes to money, a vast majority of population in the country is still ignorant. The concept of saving is still foreign to most of the people, nor have we ever been taught how to manage our finances when growing up. In such a case, a growing number of youngsters with access to money through well-paying jobs still struggle financially when its time to take up responsibilities.

On one side, a subject with so much significance in our day-to-day life is being ignored and on the other, there is huge outcry over harsh economic conditions, rising prices and drowning bank balances. We lament over the Euro crisis and cry when stock market crashes, cursing our luck; but miss out on the most important aspect- developing our know-how on managing our personal finances. Only the person equipped with financial intelligence will be able to glide through our turbulent economy. Now is the time to develop your FQ.

The Tragic Fibre

By Pallavi Dani:

India has a rich culture of arts and crafts that has evolved through the centuries into a flourishing trade. One of the oldest industries that has gained a lot of attention and popularity in recent years marked by rising awareness on global warming is the jute industry. The advent of jute production and export on a large scale started during the British rule with the setting up of the first jute mill in West Bengal. From then on, the industry has grown to a commendable size comprising of 76 jute mills mostly concentrated in West Bengal with a few in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tripura and Chhattisgarh.

The Indian Jute Industry today, accounts for a turnover of Rs. 6500 crore annually, contributing to exports to the tune of nearly Rs. 1000 crore and alone provides direct employment to approximately 0.26 million people, while about 4 million people are associated indirectly to the industry.

The excessive use of plastics in the Indian market stalled the demand for jute for some time but it is back on track with the growing consciousness towards the environment in recent years. Jute has been reinvented from its traditional avatar of being used in making sacks for storing grains in the agriculture sector to making stylish accessories for home décor and personal use. Jute is no more just the rough golden fabric we are so familiar with. With the utilisation of advanced technology, very fine quality and soft jute is being produced, which is being used in t-shirts and hand bags. Other jute products that are finding market in the domestic as well as global landscapes are wall hangings, baskets, upholsteries, bags, rags, carpets, hangings, footwear, coasters, jewellery, show pieces, etc.

Though there is a rising demand for jute products globally, its supply management is still in the nascent stage in India with the producers following the traditional methods of manufacturing and distribution despite a highly competitive global market. Jute industry in India has emerged as a huge, decentralised and unorganised industry which is one of the major challenges in the path of its growth.

Costly products and high export prices poses a threat to the Indian jute industry from the neighbouring jute producing countries. The government of India has recognised the huge potential and contribution of jute industry to the overall economic development of the country and has introduced many policies and schemes to promote and help its advancement. Workshops and fairs are organised across the country to showcase the ingenuity and skills of jute artisans and develop a market for their products. The evolution of jute industry in the current scenario is only possible with the introduction of proper management and marketing strategies to support the rich and diverse craft. This eco-friendly and highly sustainable fibre will not only help the economy but also give us an alternative to environmentally harmful materials such as plastics.

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By Sanchita Khurana:

The idea of “empowerment” can be empowering only with cognizance of the difference in agency it brings about or is supposed to bring about. For rural women of the Purulia district of West Bengal, this cognizance has been complete, their self-confident narratives and beaming faces are testimony as they speak of their realised self-sufficiency. The exemplary story of these tribal women- who with forming Self-Help Groups supported by NGO’s like Pradan, and more importantly by believing in the concept of self-help, have risen from being mere secondary help to efficient livelihood makers- is a story not just of skill and determination but also of the tremendous dynamism that accompanies a belief in oneself.

The women in some tribal communities (for instance, the Jhalda and Burrabazaar blocks of Purulia) are more self-aware and in charge of themselves, since they hold decision-making power and other privileges in the social life of the community. This has come about by the (re)handling of agricultural practices (water-harvesting, horticulture,etc.) by the women of these communities. The double responsibility of productive as well as reproductive labour on them has made revolutionary change-makers of them, and they have successfully generated, as in the case of this traditional production economy, self-sustained livelihoods, changing possibly for ever the drought hit face of Maoist-inflected Purulia.

What I find more encouraging and endearing than the logical methods applied to water-harvesting techniques by these ever so ordinary and by-far unvalued workers resulting in the double-crop productivity of their lands, is the role the success of these SHG’s create for women in such communities. Those that had no voice in a patriarchal society now find themselves powerfully responsible for productive work. The agency that comes with such a role has implications for the social status of women in a larger context.

While it is true, observed statistically, that the households with their women working with SHG’s see more domestic violence, it is also a significant pointer towards the unsettling power-equation such involvement of the women has generated. The mere confidence brought about from being able to change a whole district’s economy, is enough to make these women question other social ills plaguing that society.

Like the federation leader Sadmoni Hembram, pleasantly assured of her new status, says “These days men take the cattle for grazing while we attend a meeting.”

It is time for this all-female initiative to change the overall status of these tribal women, just as they have changed their economic status. It is clear that breaking this economic/ecological binary that is usually associated with the men/ women divide, will also necessarily mean shaking the public/ private divide, as women go out in society independently, confidently and not to mention, purposefully. The constraints on their social presence can be seen lifting as the three strands of nature, culture and economy are merged and used for developmental work, much in the strain of eco-feminism. In addition to the usual role of SHG’s as micro-creditors, Sadmoni’s self-help group ‘Petre Madwa’, for instance, instils women not just with useful skill and knowledge but also with the basic conceptual idea of self-help groups, that each (poor) villager can do something and is enough to help her community.

Even if empowerment holds a different meaning for each community and even if it would be wrong to say that these women are totally “empowered”, what brings efficacy to their effort is the hope that they have the power to do something, to be able to bring to pass dignified conditions of living for themselves and for their tribe. With this awareness, the major part of the empowerment, I believe, has already happened.

Marketing

By Shashank Bhasker:

For many decades the marketers were challenged in reaching their target groups (TG) with the right media mix for converting top of mind recall at the store level into purchase intent. Let’s revisit the journey cycle. The product is ready and shipped to the store. The marketer thinks of a compelling campaign; brings in a media mix so that his target group sees it on the medium but far away from the place of action. The TG visits the stores and while shopping for other things has to recall his purchase intent for the marketer’s product and take a decision. Don’t you think the journey is too long? This traditional journey of buying behavior is getting outdated with a plethora of options available in the hands of the consumers.

Traditionally certain sectors like clothing, groceries relied more on human resource for selling their products. The personalized human touch was regarded as of prime importance but the scenario is changing rapidly. With the amount of time being spent on smartphones, tablets, social networking sites like Facebook, twitter, Instagram, MySpace etc. the need of the hour is to give the consumers abilities to multi task — seek information online — take decisions and act accordingly. Let us now take a quick look at the upcoming platforms which will be exploited abundantly in near future by all companies:

Location Based Services:

Social apps like Foursquare, Path etc. are going to play a pivotal role in collecting consumer data in near future. These apps can be used by the shopkeepers to send personalized SMS to their target customers if they are there in the vicinity to inform on the latest offers.

Near Field Communication:

It is a set of rules that define the way smartphones or any other NFC device interacts through radio communications by touching them together or placing them in close proximity. Google Wallet allows customers to store their credit card details in a virtual wallet and carry out transactions through NFC enabled devices. This technology can be exploited to share photos, files, have multiplayer gaming and lots more. For marketers it spells a new way to interact with their target group.

Augmented Reality:

It has a huge potential to change the way customers make decisions to buy online especially clothes or jewelry. Online stores should start offering an augmented view of how the dress would look on them. In fact it should not be limited to online shopping even the retail stores can have PCs where they use augmented reality. Saloons can also use this to show how the haircut or style would finally look so that the customer can make an informed decision.

YouTube’s going to lead the way-
Here’s a statistic:

33 Tarzan movies have been made since 1933 while 8950 Tarzan YouTube Videos have been made since 2005. This clearly shows the popularity of this medium today. We find ourselves spending an increased amount of time surfing on the net mainly through our smartphones, tablets or PCs. A large number of trailers are being previewed for upcoming movies and are first aired on YouTube. Even social campaigns are being taken to the next level by sensitizing the audience through interactive videos.

Integrated Marketing:

Brand recall can be improved by showcasing relevant advertisements about your product in every possible front. This includes print media, TVs, mobile phones, apps etc. Bombarding the customer with relevant, catchy & innovative ads will surely pave out a positive impact on the brand for the company. QR codes are a novel way to make the customers interact with the company.

Change the Game is the new platform for marketers to market their products and for consumers the way they interact. Dollar costs of reaching the right audience through traditional medium are increasing by the day. Hence laser sharp advertising and reaching the right audience is the need of the hour.

euro

By Mohit Dayal:

In the midst of renewed calls for Greece to step out of the Euro-Zone over the past few days, several vantage situations have been contemplated and cited. Analysts have argued that a Greek Exit is a matter of ‘When’, rather than ‘Whether’. But while these arguments are legitimate and reasoned, they exhibit only one side of the coin. The consequences of a Greek exit from the Euro-Zone can be catastrophic not just for Europe, but the entire global economy. It can, and probably will lead to a break-up of the Euro-Zone, and its consequences will be grave.

Setting the Clock a couple of Decades back

When we do consider a disintegration of the Eurozone, one needs to go back in history and look at the reasons as to why it was established in the first place. A congregation of a number of countries, and economic integration without political integration, it’s a concept which has been questioned time and again. Deemed flawed by more than a few analysts, it seems more and more likely that they were right. The vision of an empowered block of countries, rejuvenated by common market policies, brought all the major economies together to institute a shared currency in 2000. The dream was shared and lived for almost a decade, until it turned into a nightmare. Analysing the concept itself, the idea of economic integration and common market dynamics, coupled with political incoherence and policy diversion, is a recipe for disaster.

Together We Rise, Together We Fall

But this concept, even though flawed, was realised for more than a decade.  And the Eurozone is, and shall remain to be, the largest economy in terms of GDP, if we were to consider it as an economic block as a whole.
A Greek exit will lead to many more countries contemplating the same, and countries like Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy may follow suit. A Eurozone break-up will take a region a couple of decades back, as far as international geo-politics is concerned. And Europe’s might, in an increasingly multi-polar world, will be considerably diluted, something which no country or leader wants.

The Economic Fall-Out

Whatever the geo-political consequences might be, the economic aftermath is bound to be a Pandora’s Box. As and when Greece leaves the Euro-Zone, it is expected to revert back to its domestic currency, The Drachma, which would be relatively devalued. Now the good part is that reverting back to your domestic economy will help wipe off the enormous public debt. The bad part is that it will cause erosion in the bank deposits and savings of millions of people in Europe. That then will lead to a credit crunch, and lack of liquidity in the markets. The anticipation and the speculation around such a situation is another nightmare. All this will affect the global economy adversely, and contagion to other major economies would be inevitable.

So, while Greece goes to elections on June 17th, and while Euro-Bonds are seriously considered, and while the ECB and the IMF firefight this sovereign debt crisis in the best way possible, it would be wise to excogitate a worst-case scenario for a Greek exit, rather than a best case scenario, which is projected by the proponents of a Greek exit. For a Eurozone Exit is a path traversed never before, and no one is sure what lays ahead, not even those who are at the helm in Europe.

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GDP Bihar

By Manisha Chachra:

Ranked amongst the Bimaru states, regarded as the hub of potential resources but with no hope of development- Bihar, recently achieved an economic growth of 13.1%, which was the highest among the all the states. No wonder, the figures did astound many of us. As a matter of fact, one couldn’t believe that a state which sometime back was a laughing stock for many of us, owing to its former Chief Ministers, has created a history. The economic figures very well elucidate the lessening gaps between incomes and are a sign of egalitarian society.

The reasons for such enormous developments lay in the effective governance of Bihar under Nitish Kumar.

The growth rate of Bihar becomes more astonishing if one comprehends that Bihar has toppled even the national capital — Delhi, which stands at the economic growth of 11%. The prime reasons for this growth is the better law and order situation in Bihar compared to what it used to be. The pre-stagnant economy has now become an area of investment. The state is more concerned about the internal problems than merely focusing on corporate sector. In this way, the state has set a good precedent for other states as well.

Privatization and liberalization – the key tenets of liberalism have obtained a new shape in Bihar. The state isn’t merely concentrating on the hype of gross domestic product. It has rather envisaged a greater role in solving the problems of the ‘aam aadmi’.

The state famous for its Liquor ban campaign and innumerable schemes- Gujarat under Narendra Modi has obtained a growth of 9.1%. Known for its tourism industry, Gujarat has failed to gain the status among the top five Indian states.

The model of green revolution– Punjab has achieved sheer 5%. The basis again lies in more concentration of central government on the schemes of liberalization where farmers are the first to get victimized due to withdrawal of subsidies. The other reasons can be the prominence of caste in political mobilization, where leaders are more engrossed in caste and class mobilization than development initiation.

The story of the most populous state —Uttar Pradesh is very similar to the grain bowl of India.

The growth rate in Uttar Pradesh is lower than 6% and the obvious grounds are that of prevalent caste, class and religion mobilization. The Yadav- Muslim formula in Uttar Pradesh and the widespread Dalit mobilization has created a nexus of vote bank politics, where a handful of people are gaining prominence over others. This further leads to a gulf in society between winners and losers.

The history of Bihar is a model for other states to follow. Nevertheless, only ‘GDP’ should not be a point of attraction, the states must focus on effective governance which will indefinitely lead to economic acceleration. The policy making shouldn’t merely concern itself with investments and foreign capital where the elite class defines the rise in income standards. The aim really should be on creating equality, where liberty of every individual is preserved with respect to the other. Thus, creating a compatibility between liberty and equality.

Business meeting

By Neelima Ravindran:

The decision is made. You have chosen to leave your old job for good and move on to richer and greener pastures. And the one last gesture of conclusion to your employer-employee relationship is giving an honest and constructive explanation about the job experience and reason to quit. Or is it?

Exit interviews on paper seem to be a solution to providing insights that might increase the productivity and decrease the attrition rate. Feedback from the employees is a powerful development tool in the hands of the organizations. But for an employee who has decided to leave his present job it mostly ends up being a pain in the neck. No one likes explaining a reason for the choices they have made in their career especially to a team they are parting with. Long exit interview processes and venting your emotions about your bosses might help you to heave the burden off your chest for a short period of time, but it might lead to unlikely down sides in your professional life. It is much more practical to keep the conversations short and sentiments in check. Many of the superiors find it hard to take criticisms in their stride which may adversely affect your climb up the ladder especially if you are sticking to the same industry. Being honest may be the right thing to do but most employees wind up sugar coating their answers so as to make the break up clean and concise.

Which, of course, doesn’t serve the purpose of any organization? For most companies exit interviews have become an unwanted process that is being followed because it has to be followed. Most of the feedback from soon to be ex-employees are either diplomatic responses or emotional outbursts, both of which cannot be taken at their face value. What would help an organization affirmatively is conducting surveys about employee satisfaction or work culture every six months or so, preferably anonymously, which helps the members put forth the truth. Exit interviews should be limited to lending a compassionate and caring gesture to an employee who helped in uplifting the productivity and upholding the name of the organization instead of prodding him/her with uncomfortable questions and surveys. Let it be a positive note from the side of the organization to assert that the employees are treated with equal respect on their way out as on their way in. Let it be a sign of closure from the side of the employee to move on from any negative feelings and ensure a smooth transition into a new world.

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By Nikhil Borker:

At a time when the country is under a severe financial crunch and the rupee is resting at all- time low levels, following the “keep the change” policy is definitely not the wisest idea for the common man. However, the irony is that we are forced to follow it whether we like it or not. With the extinction of the ‘chavanni’ and the ‘atthani’ and the virtually weightless coins in circulation these days, the demise of coinage in India looks imminent.

Isn’t it embarrassing when you are flaunting all the red and green in your wallet but don’t have any silver to buy a cup of tea. This is a minor but highly irksome problem faced by all of us almost every day. It is frustrating when the shopkeeper, with his smarmy smile, hands you a few candies. You are left with no choice but to leave with a disgruntled face. It is disheartening that India has the brightest minds in the worlds, still, as consumers we repeatedly prove that we are fools. The perfect example is the ’99 phenomenon’. Don’t we get excited when we see hoardings showing something being sold for 99 or 999? Yes, we do! And may go on to buy it later even when we know that we are not going to get the extra rupee back. Suppose a company sells 1, 00,000 goods in a month, it will make a profit of a lac at your expense. This has been a recipe for profit-making over the past ten years.

Why have we been suddenly struck by this situation? In the last few years two devils have tormented the country- corruption and inflation. These are the primary causes for reduced circulation of coinage. Corruption increases the amount of black money in the economy. This results in an increase in the ratio of higher to lower denominations. Thus, there is a relative decrease in coinage. Inflation leads to goods becoming more expensive. This implies that even the price levels of the goods that were earlier costing the bare minimum (like a matchstick) have increased. This is a clear indication of the rupee getting devalued. This is the macro side of the issue.

Just blaming the government won’t solve the problem. Now you would argue what can we do? I would say that it is only we the youth who can bring about a change. A foundation stone is required for the construction of any building. In the same manner we need to take the starting step if we are to save our currency. The most basic step could be to not give up any ground when it comes to rendering of balance. Try to amass as many coins as possible and always keep them with you for transactions. This will disseminate to others around you about the fact that coinage is an integral part of any economy. It’s still not too late. Start today so that you don’t have to lament tomorrow.

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By Awanish Shahi:

It’s time to sleep and we reach for the remote to switch off TV, flipping channels furiously. “Kya aap motape se pareshan hai?” a Hindi-dubbed non-Indian ad flashes on screen and we watch it slumbering. We see anorexic blonde girls lined up, selling body slimming tea to sex power booster powders. No matter what they sell, they ardently bring delight to a seedy man resting in his bed room and needless to say give food for his dreams. So right from pesky calls to late night funny Hindi-dubbed foreign ads, telemarketing ever-present in our lives, both irritating and benefiting us.

Telemarketing revolution has swept Indian subcontinent as today we live in a mobile information society. Having more than 900 million mobile subscribers, India has witnessed a great upsurge in teledensity in both urban and rural area. So with this great increase in teledensity, telemarketing too is witnessing a great time. With changing economy, targeting the new customer groups is making telemarketing more effective and thus aiding them in keeping pace with the taste and likings of customers. Which age group likes what? – Such queries are the priorities of these telemarketing companies and customized product based on needs are developed.

A customer can be happy receiving such calls or may be unhappy, agitated or mentally frustrated by many such pesky calls during a working day. A research conducted on telemarketing revealed following results:

– Approximately 50% people prefer ignoring any kind of telemarketing calls.
– Recorded voices and SMS are frequently received.
– People targeted by telemarketing companies are usually young.
– Majority of people find the telemarketing calls irritating and time consuming.
– Those who respond most to these calls are then called even more often.
– Young people are more comfortable in dealing with pesky calls than elderly people.

Telemarketing besides impacting customers also has a socio-psychological side. This side helps the telemarketing companies to decide the potential customer keeping in mind factors like taste, purchasing power, their background, social setup etc. All these factors assist the telemarketing companies to increase their market.

It basically is a low cost solution to direct marketing and it’s a customer response based process. Robocalling too is telemarketing as it is a form of voice broadcasting which is commonly associated with political messages. So telemarketing has now emerged as a cardinal tool for marketing and understanding the consumer behavior. Dynamically changing Indian consumer behavior is the biggest challenge for the Indian telemarketing companies.

Image courtesy: http://new-business-lists.com/

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By Abdul Wahid Khan:

Several devices to record brain waves were already there and used but they are getting more detailed with the advancement of technology. Even though they are getting more sophisticated, scientists say that we have still very little knowledge of brain and our map of our brain is as unexplored and vague as the map of the world in the 16th century.

The field of neuromarketing is an application and extension of neuroscience. The Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging technology called in short as fMRI as used initially for examining brain. Ale Smidsts of the Erasmus University in 2002 coined the term neuromarketing while the first marketer to use this technique was Gerry Zoltman at Harvard in 1999. Basically, it is mainly about which parts of the brain become active when subjected to different stimuli. Then comes the interpretation stage and various dependent variables are analyzed using correlation.

The development of this field started long ago when brain scientists used to have Pupilometer for observing and measuring pupil movements in response to a TV commercial or a print ad. They said this was not as effective as direct response of words. Coca cola used it up to some extent. Then came Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) which checked the skin response instead of pupil. Later also came eye tracking technology which could trace exactly which part of the TV screen the eyes were looking at.

Finally in 1970, Herbert Krugman and Flemming Hansen started studying brain processes using Electroencephalograph (EEG). An advanced version Magneto-encephalograph (MEG) is used to show which areas of brain light up in response to different actions. It has been tested in various experiments at London Business School where they found various important areas like location of brand equity in brain. Such locations are called as known centers and neuromarketing focuses on these centers. But the problem is that some centers are active with various stimuli and it is hard to determine relation between such stimuli and generalize them. For example, insula light up during price-pain as well as smoking addiction. So, research needs to come to a conclusion about such areas and confirm which is basic activity or a set of activities for activeness of insula. A lot of studies have appeared in the press but a very few of them have been published.

Various problems with the neuromarketing exist. The field is quite new and it is still under development. Various studies in this field are going on and the views are varied. It gives opinions and views in lots of directions while marketing needs simple answers based on Keep It Simple (KIS) philosophy. So, it needs solid proofs to drive marketing campaigns. News and media have also made lots of hyper claims about it which has given it a miraculous brand image. Neuromarketing is sometimes considered unethical because some critics say it read minds of consumers and then make such ads so as to make them buy. It is a topic of debate and there are different views. Various consulting firms have started which make marketing strategy using this technique. Among all such discussions, one important use can be for the benefit of society to show ads to abandon smoking or let people have some good habits.

Air India

By Anannya Roy Chowdhury:

To fly high is not that easy a task. Not only does gravity become your enemy, but also do other obscurities weigh you down. This was exactly what happened with the idyllic Air India flight management that metamorphosed ghastly; from a bird roaring high up to what it today is… a slum dweller. The story of the debacle of Air India and the current disposition of it is certainly not a happy one. 10 lips are mouthing 10 different things and I too feel that in the basest of manners, the problem has a plethoric angle to it. What I deduced and what you should know (we all know them somehow, but not in the right places) is written along as you continue.

Road to fiasco; a general overview of the problems

Before we start digging deeper and jot down different points that possibly give us linkages to the strikes, it only makes sense to gauge the current situation. News headlines all over the country and the world to some extent are blazing out the event of the massive strike by the members of the IPG, the Indian Pilots Guild that has made the scenario worse for AI (Air India). The already dwindling economy that caused shrunken pay packages, untimely services and an overall mess for the company has exacerbated, owing to this full bodied walk out by the pilots. The situation is not sudden, as is the case with all mutinies that have happened in the past, and over the years that followed the historic tie up between the two major Indian Aviation services, the Air India and the Indian Airlines have witnessed sequential falls that summed up to the monster it is today. The following few points can be rightly asserted to the ultimate fall of AI —

  • Social organization: This is indeed one of the biggest problems that posed a threat to AI. Instead of being a capitalist institution or at least adopt a few principles of it, AI till today continues to be a strictly public sector. This cringes down its profit value.
  • Continued benefits in times of crunch: Now, this might come as a biased point but the whole point of downsizing or facing an economic upheaval makes no sense if, at the same time, top employees keep getting richer! Unnecessary reimbursements for them proved to a gargantuan set back.
  • Lack of international tie-ups: Unlike other successful aviation companies such as Lufthansa and the Emirates, AI never initiated such link-ups, making it a solitary player and now a solitary loser.
  • Too many recruits: Although in the short view, a high recruiting rate indicates better popularity; in a situation as what AI is in, it fails to provide work to the all-huge army of talented pilots and other employees that it calls on board. As a result, the company profile goes down, along with the spirits of the hundred plus pilots who work there.

These were the generic reasons and now let us look at the cause that ignited this mini mutiny. But before that there are a few things that you ought to know to make the understanding of the complex situation somewhat easier.

Before 2008, there were primarily two aviation bodies in India, (of course excluding the dozens of private companies), namely the Air India and the Indian Airlines. The former was the international carrier flier while most of the domestic tagging was done through the Indian Airlines planes. With the tie-up, it came under one joint administration that had top members from both the individual sectors.

  • IPG: the Indian Pilots Guild is one of the oldest and most reputed of all pilots’ associations, and was formed by the working pilots of the AI of the pre-merged state.
  • ICPA: Short for Indian Commercial Pilots Association, it is the parallel body from the pre-merging state of the Indian Airlines.

While these two bodies continue to remain, their existence is shaky for all practical purposes following the administrative tie up.

The IPG vs. ICPA conflict, Survival of the Fittest

Historically, the pilots of AI were paid more than the ICPA members, while the latter received an equal and sometimes greater advantage in terms of faster, time-based promotions and longer sick or personal leaves. These distinctions were constructed completely by AI administrators, thus causing a general discontent among the likes about its unfairness. A point in favour of AI went due to their wider exposure to airplanes with innate training and polishing with wide-bodied jetliners and Boeings.

The discrepancies were, in a way, balanced before the merge but after it, things changed. When AI recently took delivery of the Boeing 787s, there was a huge hue and cry over who should be given the greater preference in piloting them.

First hand treatment of the strikes; a take on the Media 

Owing to the above-discussed situation, some odd 150 pilots of the IPG feigned sickness and refused to pilot the planes. On this account, after following a methodical investigation (doctors actually went and personally examined the sick pilots) by the ministry, Ajit Singh (the Aviation minister) decided to call it off by sacking 10 pilots who got busted by the investigation. It was alleged that IPG forgot the basic rules of conducting a strike and it was heralded “illegal”. IPG’s demand for complete riddance of ICPA pilots from piloting the 787 Series came out as a base and greedy move. The media followed these exchanges closely, but the sad fact was that neither party actually initiated conflict-management and discussions, and most of the verbal exchanges were done through the media.

What the ICPA had to say

In the simple sense, why should they be dealt as refugees in their own lands? This is precisely what ICPA had to comment on the uncanny strikes by IPG. Just because IPG is traditionally the coherent union under AI does not mean that pilots from ICPA should not be given a chance to pilot the Dreamliner. A move such as preventing ICPA pilots from flying 787s would certainly slack a chunk of their careers! Also, they said most of the comments made by IPG revolving around the dismissal of ICPA were gross overreactions.

IPG’s take

Now, this is where the side taking comes. Although I was convinced by the former set of justifications, mostly because the master tool, Media propagated the same, after going through their side of the story I feel it was too gore to call the Union greedy. Somehow from the beginning of its instillation, ICPA pilots have gotten an upper hand on an overall basis and hence, giving them the parity in flying the Boeings seemed discrimination redefined. Also, one of the logics that IPG bases its renunciation on is the fact that the commanders with ICPA do not have a practical knowledge about widebody jets, and hence training them will only cause harassment, which is totally baseless because trained pilots already do exist.

Among other demands, the IPG has also expressed its dissatisfaction over discriminatory treatment of its pilots, compared to the ICPA. IPG has, for a long time now, been facing problems with respect to employee treatment. For example, IPG pilots are bound to penalising for availing their sick leaves or casual leaves, while their ICPA counterparts enjoy advantages of having more leave allotments. While IPG pilots were earlier paid greater wages, almost as a form of compensation for these inequalities, however, ICPA pilots were given pay rises in order to appease them during the strikes last year, a situation, when viewed now, only increases the discriminatory treatment between the two associations. The strikes were thus a cumulation of unmet demands of the IPG pilots, the ones mentioned above being only a few of the many other grievances voiced by them.

No matter what sides we take or stay neutral over the issue, the point that remains stoned is that due to this mess, it is the general public and the employees themselves who are adversely affected. When the company is losing a few odd crores each day, the problem of No Salaries still remains. Strikes are only aggravating the concern and hence, it makes all the sense to talk…now how tough can that be is a question left unanswered.

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