Thursday, December 22, 2011

Five common challenges that Consultants face in India

The idea of penning this blog came to my mind, when I decided to take stock of my short but eventful stay in consulting. At the start of my consulting career, I got to interact with a few US based partners or principals (as they call them over there) and it gave me some insights about how consulting works in the US. My further interactions with Indian clients and colleagues tells me that India is different from its foreign counterparts. In this post, I will focus on five major challenges that consultants usually face in India. Before igniting the discussion, I must say that the list is not exhaustive and the challenges may differ based on the consulting firm one is associated with.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

FDI in retail: "Modern" solutions to "old" problems?

The government of India is patting its back as by the passing of the much awaited "FDI in multi-brand retail", some experts believe that the reforms are back on track. In this blog, I don’t intend to discuss the criticality of the reform rather my focus will be on the efficacy of this reform. With the issue increasingly being politicized across the nation, let’s try to see whether this reform really aims at solving issues esp. inflation, which a common man faces. Will the benefits percolate to aam aadmi or will, once again, the crème-de-la-crème in the metros only share the spoils?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interest rate hikes: Has the time to apply brakes arrived?

The RBI interest rate policies despite evincing lots of interest have become predictable off-late. Given the fact that the last 13 revisions have resulted in rate hikes, there is an understandable gloom associated with it. Our personal loans are getting costlier, buying your dream home isn’t easy, budding entrepreneurs have seen the cost of capital head north etc. Before we discuss further, let’s first try to understand the rationale behind these rate hikes by RBI. 

The policy being referred to is “Monetary policy” by which the monetary authority of a country like RBI, controls the supply of money by controlling interest rates; monetary base and reserve requirements. The policies are designed keeping in mind, the rate of economic growth, inflation, unemployment or exchange rate. The current RBI policy also referred to as contractionary policies, seeks to address the high inflation levels in India by suppressing demand. The rationale is that higher interest rates would lead to less borrowing thereby reduced investments and demand for capital goods. In addition, higher interest rates will also lead to people saving more thereby reducing consumption i.e. demand.  

Seems logical and sound, isn’t it? It is, but empirically it has been established that monetary policies are effective in targeting price stability, exchange stability and financial stability in short term or at best medium term. The Reserve Bank has so far, hiked its key policy rates 13 times, totaling 350 basis points since March 2010 i.e. the hike has been continuing for more than 18 months.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The positive side of "Rs. 32"

The Planning Commission of India finds itself in a spot after submitting before the Supreme Court that the poor are those who, per day, spend less than Rs. 25 and Rs. 32 in rural and urban areas, respectively. While it’s always debatable whether the right methodology has been adopted or how valid these numbers are, but this "Rs. 32 debate" does have some positive significance as far as our macro policies are concerned. Let’s discuss the two major ones. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Anna moved the nation?

It’s ironical but true. It took a 74 year-old to mobilize one of the youngest nations (in terms of demography) in the world that too using the methodology of satyagraha which till the recent past was touted as being out of sync with modern India. In fact many felt “Gandhigiri” was more the "in thing". A nation that saw cricketers and movie-stars being identified as “youth icons” certainly was suddenly enamored by a Gandhian.  The Sydney Herald calls him “The New Gandhi”, The Times quoted, “Anna Hazare: How One Activist Brought the World's Largest Democracy to Its Knees” and so on. After all it was unthinkable that a metro centric- mobilization would reach such humongous proportions. So, how did Anna manage to strike the chord? 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Double Dip: The likely impacts on India

In one of my previous blogs I wrote about why double dip was a possibility in the US? Now after the S&P downgrade of the US debt, it seems that the sentiments have really turned for the worse though fundamentally things haven’t changed a great deal. But what if the double dip materializes and what lies in store for India if US is engulfed by the economic crisis? Let’s discuss them. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Telecom Industry in India: More players may lead to higher tariffs?

Telecom industry has been instrumental in revolutionizing the lives of common Indians. The mobile phone and now the internet has been in focus of late at almost every level be it policy, corporate, consumer etc. But the industry is going through turbulent times. The 2G scam, the steeply priced 3G spectrum, tax claims… the list is endless. It doesn’t make for a good reading as telecommunication will go a long way in determining our future growth rate as we are in the information age. 

Let’s have a look at some of the problems plaguing the industry. Let me divide the problem into two parts based on the technology involved; 2G and 3G

2G: If you look at problems in this space, the 2G scam comes to your mind straightaway. Undoubtedly it’s a blot on the Indian face. And its findings will certainly leave many embarrassed but let’s not waste our time over these facts related to the scam. Instead, let’s concentrate on the other major issues related to 2G. The one that comes to the mind is “too much competition or should I say too many players”. While FCFS basis used to allocate spectrum helped keep the cost down hence low tariffs but it allowed too many players to enter the fray. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ऐसी भी एक शाम हो जो सिर्फ मेरे नाम हो !!!!!

A creation very dear to me and close to my heart...

भाग दौड़ से दूर कही आराम ही आराम हो,
मन मेरा मुझ तक ठहरे, कुछ और नहीं इसे  ध्यान हो!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin: Are they worth it?

IPOs are back in the reckoning. And this time it’s none other but Uncle Sam that’s the epicenter and the boys raising the bars are from the dot-com business. With most of them having or claiming to have gained the critical mass (for the much abused “network effect”), it’s not a surprise that the valuations are simply going through the roof. The four of the biggest newsmakers are Facebook, twitter, Linkedin and Groupon. Though likes of Skype, Zynga, Yandex (Russian search engine), Pandora (music streaming company) etc. have been in the news as well. 

So, what’s the fuss all about? For that let’s have a look at the user base, revenue and the predicted valuation for some of these tech firms.

User Base
90 m
100 m
279 m
700 m
300 m
83 m

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Five myths about Strategy Consulting

My stay in consulting so far has been a brief one but nevertheless it has been an eventful one as well. Interacting with consultants at different levels and from different geographies has been an enlightening experience. As is the case, I used this opportunity to ignite the discussion and this time my topic was “myths about strategy consulting”. Based on my interactions, experiences and a bit of reading on “strategy consulting”, these are the five myths that I have come across. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Disruptive innovation: Can the "New" propel the "Old" ?

Online book stores in India are a confused lot as according to the latest US data from The Association of American Publishers (AAP), the iPad isn't just proving to be a category creator but it is threatening to be a category killer as well. The threatened category is our very own "physical books" or hard-copies with variants like hardcover or paperback. The AAP data shows that in January as well as February 2011, trade print sales witnessed double-digit declines, thus confirming our worst fears that digital sales is cannibalizing print. So "e-book" is the disruptive innovation that we love to hear about and if the online book stores are increasingly focusing on e-books then it's not a surprise. Isn't it? Let's now shift our focus to India. I know it's a bit abrupt but please bear with me.

The Indian Scenario
We can say that in the US, the digital version could very well maul the printed ones. By the way the traditional print newspapers have already learnt it the hard way. So should the online book stores in India go the same way, i.e. shift their focus from the printed versions to the electronic ones? After all in India things are a bit different as online book shopping in India is currently growing at 50% y-o-y driven solely by print sales. Most of us know that India is under-penetrated with low literacy levels (65%) vis-à-vis US and has low internet connectivity. Thus even "print newspapers" is a growing category in India. So how can the advent of e-books affect their counterparts i.e. the printed books? Will online book stores in India achieve more growth in e-book segment than printed books? To answer these question let's go through a major happening centered in India. It's the case concerning the telecom boom.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The US Double Dip: It could well be a reality

Initially the experts predicted a V shaped recovery i.e. a fast recovery for the US but then shifted to the left in the alphabetical order i.e. U, a slower path to recovery, but the existing scenario might push them further to the right i.e. to W or double dip. A look at the common economic indicators like unemployment rate, growth rate, rate of inflation or interest rate etc. would tell us that the future is murky. Add to that the increasing clout of countries like China or should we say decreasing impact of US on the global setup is only worsening the cause. The inability of the US to force appreciation of Yuan is a case in point. The usual backers of US like UK, France, Japan are themselves deep into crisis so no help can be expected from that quarter. The world economy discussing “decoupling” shows that the perception is that the US is lonely as well as depleted in its battle with recession.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Changing Reading Habits in India

Online book stores have been critical in influencing the reading habits around the world. But have they influenced the Indian landscape as well? In order to assess the impact, let's discuss the changes in reading habits in India.

Reading is the process of using one's 'eyes' and 'mind' to understand the literal as well as the hidden meaning of what the writer is attempting to convey. Academicians consider a good reading habit to be based on four stages:
  • Exploring
  • Checking the Vocabulary
  • Analyzing for Comprehension
  • Synthesizing for Understanding
What constitutes "reading habit"?
Before we carry forward the discussion on reading habits, it is necessary to describe what constitutes "reading habit". Text book reading does not amount to reading habit. In fact it's reading as a hobby that makes the cut. So reading a novel, poetry, biography or books by Indian writers on travel, gardening, health or entertainment would come under the ambit of reading habit. I would quote a few lines from an international journal that for me describes reading habits succinctly. "Reading habit is the art of personal investigation and self-study. It should be followed by self-thinking and analysis, and only this kind of self-study on one's own accord, can develop into good reading habit."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Then (1983) and Now (2011)

Finally after 28 long years India managed to lift the most coveted trophy in the game of cricket. Finally after six world cups and probably his last, Sachin Tendulkar has a world champion title on his resume (the placements hangover). So how is this triumph (2011) different from the earlier one i.e. the 1983 edition? Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to compare how this one is better than the last one or vice-versa as that would be a cardinal sin. But some interesting differences do emerge in the way the two feats were accomplished. For analyzing the 1983 victory I have relied mainly on stats as well as opinions of ex-cricketers. Let’s have a look at them one by one.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who gives that extraaaa: Harsha or Mandira?

When cricket season arrives, soaps and other TV shows take a backseat. Isn’t it? It does happen at my home especially when it’s the world cup and I am free. But my mother had a common grudge that she had to lose out more than others as apart from the cricket match, the pre and the post-match analysis too ate into her serials. In this blog I will discuss and compare two match analysis shows that we witnessed in the cricket world cups. They are “extra innings” aired on SET MAX during the 2003 and 2007 editions of the cricket world cup and “cricket extra” that is being aired on STAR cricket in this edition i.e. cricket world cup, 2011.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Karl Marx & Mckinsey: Thought Leaders?

I am no fan of jargons as unlike simple words they don’t focus on the meaning i.e. clarity of thought. But one term mainly used in B-schools, firms or you can say the business world has been intriguing me a great deal. In fact if you go deep into its meaning, you would find that its influence lies beyond the corporate world. The term that I am referring to is “Thought Leadership”.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Five steps to Success

We all want to be successful. Isn’t it? But how many amongst us feel that we have achieved success? They say that success is relative. True, but even when we feel good about an achievement on a given day , someone else’s opinion may make us ponder whether it was worth the effort? As they say in a famous ad we keep asking ourselves, “have I really made it large?”

In this blog, I’ll discuss the five simple steps that can help you judge whether your achievement comes into that premium category that we all know as “success”. But if my personal experience is anything to go by, I must warn you that though the steps are simple but implementing or imbibing them isn't.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Leadership is about making an impact

Due to a busy schedule saketvaani couldn’t come up with any post in the month of January to ignite the discussion. So this is the first blog of the New Year and even though a bit late, I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year. In this blog our point of discussion will be leadership. I’ll share some of my learnings from a course on leadership which I must say has been a very enriching experience.

Let us first define leadership. Leadership is about doing meaningful things or making your people see meaning in things. If you ask me the single biggest thing that’s important to leaders then my answer would be "their ability to make an impact". This is the parameter on which they are judged. So we may debate whether Hitler was a success or a failure but what we can say with certainty that he had an impact.