Showing posts from October, 2008

Why John McCain Should Lose

I admire John McCain. He was, indeed, a brave soldier and an unerring patriot. A great statesman, who served his country for more than four decades with great devotion and integrity. Integrity - how important is that in Washington, when the lobbyists and special interests made the American democracy look silly! Over these years, he stood for principled behaviour, decency and whatever is good about the American politics. There was no better man than him to lead America in an age of uncertainty, dishonesty and violence. George W Bush and his clever campaign administrators not only foxed Al Gore and stole his election in 2000, they outwitted McCain that year in the primaries. It was a sad win - backed by an indecent campaign of personal attacks and misinformation. It was a game of money and electoral calculations, which triumphed over principles and public service. It was a turning point in American history: What a difference a McCain presidency could have made in the last eight years. Bu

New India's Road Test

Today is being called Black Friday in India as the BSE Sensex , the index of 30 most-traded shared in the Mumbai Stock Exchange, plunged by 1071 points. This fall, one of the biggest in a single day in the history of the index, takes the Sensex to 8700 points. This was clearly unthinkable in January, when the index peaked 21,000 point mark. Even in March, when the Sensex experienced big falls and credit crunch was well under way, the Sensex was hovering around 17,000 mark. Given that the Indian economy was experiencing a 12%+ inflation, the rupee was weakening, the government was facing a crisis and oil prices were firmly around the $120 mark, that was a lot of optimism. I remember meeting a stock broker around the time in Mumbai , who tried to explain to me why investing in stocks still at that level made sense more than any other asset, saying - "how low can it possibly get? 12,000 mark? But it will still bounce back, because the Indian economy is fundamentally strong. And,

Memoirs of a Recession

A rare opportunity to do some creative writing came my way. A friend publishes a private circulation journal and wanted a few of us to 'project in the future to assess the recession'. More of a fun exercise, but this allowed me to think beyond my worries today. I have her permissions to put this on my blog. So, here it is, a take on today's recession written in the year 2040. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- My only qualification for being asked to write about the Great Recession of 2009/10 is that I had been an observer and a participant. There are many studies then, and since, regarding what caused the recession, and how it played out - on the economies across the world and also on the politics and culture of the age. My economics is rusty, and I would not dare tread there. However, my age gives me the advantage of perspective, and this is exactly what I wish to share here. The Great Recession of 2009/10 is often compared with an

When Does Business Gift Become A Bribe: A Marketing Policy Perspective

Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s

A New 100 Days

I noticed this on a cheap poster hung in a Calcutta eatery: Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Very profound thought indeed. Incidentally, my 100 day project came to an end - without discernible results, though I may say that my thoughts and ideas changed quite a bit. However, the crisis worldwide submerged whatever little I achieved, and at the end of it, I was left insecure and confused, rather than strong and certain. However, it's me - if first 100 days did not solve the problem, I am certain the next 100 days will. I loved fashioning my life around 100 days - as meaningful/meaningless a construct as corporate quarters, around which much of my life has revolved. As every quarter must be better than the other, I need to promise to my stakeholders - my family and friends and myself and all others who interact or transact with me - that the next 100 days would improve my ' deliverables ' significantly. I quite enjoyed keeping a tab on my progress on this blog.

Indian Renaissance

I am reading Sanjeev Sanyal's Indian Renaissance - a fine book, as I have noted earlier. On the second reading, its principal thesis is becoming clearer to me, and I have started to disagree. The principal thesis of the book is how Indian civilization went into a decline for about a thousand years, before turning a corner again in the nineteenth century Bengal, and finally coming into full bloom again after 1991, on the wake of Manmohan Singh's liberalization efforts. The author maintains that the civilizational decline was accentuated by a 'closed' approach to innovation, change and new ideas. And, all of this came back in fashion after 1991 - when Indian entrepreneurs were unleashed on the world. And, that started an Indian renaissance. However interesting this formulation may sound, the timeline mentioned here are bound to raise eyebrows. This sounds too familiar - in line with Hindu Nationalist thinking of a golden Indian past, followed on by a dark age under

Back from India

I am on my way back from India - after a rather extended, almost 4 weeks trip. I am now quite used to write the blog posts from the Emirates Lounge in Dubai, as I am doing now, and know exactly which seats get a good wi-fi reception. I am no longer hungry for lounge food, and rather tired of my travelling routine. But, there is another thing new - I felt at home in Calcutta, after many years. This is new. I always go to Calcutta with the expectation of going home, but come back to disappointments. It is just the gap between perception and reality, the abstract notion of home and the actual comforts and habits one carries with him. As I know now, home is not a place but a habit, or expectation of habits, and everytime I go to Calcutta, I find the great disconnect over and over again. This time, indeed, was no different. While I was travelling, the whole drama of Tatas exiting Singur was played out. Bengalis fighting bengalis to eventual loss to all isn't something new, and it happen

Tata ta-ta!

You will say ta-ta in India when someone leaves. I don't know this is meant to wish good luck. I don't know how this originated. But suddenly, it seems to have become an irony, for Bengal. Tatas finally announced they are leaving West Bengal. One can't blame them - this isn't an ordinary project, where long drawn-out negotiations can be done. They have to produce a car within time and within a set cost. And, though this isn't necessary known in West Bengal, rest of the world treats time as money too. This, ironically, also comes just before the ' puja ', the time when all bengalis all over the world celebrates. This is the celebration of home-coming. Unfortunately, this time, the celebration will be dominated by the thought of this departure, and its implications of Bengal's economic future. Of course, going by pure economic logic, nothing should happen. Ratan Tata does not have any love for Bengal. He decided to open the factory here for perceived e

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