First 10 years of 21st century

A year passes by but we realize it only at select times- on key festivals, birthdays or Dec 31. This year is also an end of a decade and recalling some of the developments witnessed as a citizen of India can be a good idea. An attempt at highlighting some of those developments and how they impacted my life- a common man.

First the global ones:
1. 9/11 shocks US and world. Tragedy highlights how deep and severe is the problem of terrorism. From my perspective, US has lost its financial hegemony. Financial crisis of 2008 is a testimony to it. 
2. Concept of BRIC economies came sometime in 2004-05 when emerging countries gained greater attention not for extending more aid to alleviate poverty but from investment havens perspective. Which economies are growing at >8% GDP than BRIC economies today.
3. China’s domination in manufacturing became prominent and today it enjoys comparative advantage in several sectors over other nations.
4. Euro currency introduced in physical form in 2002. Expected to be a rival to US dollar with huge volume of trading in forex markets. Financial crisis seems to hit Europe badly and Euro seems to be in danger.
India centric key developments:
1.  Suzuki gains majority stake and management control in Maruti Udyog Ltd. (MUL). Represents a first most successful divestment by Indian government from a profitable company. 
2. Automobile sector hots-up with more players and more options for Indian consumers. MUL continues to lose market share to new entrants in the sector. Small car dominates Indian markets. No looking back for sales with improving road quality.
3. Outsourcing industry became a talk of every household with entry age to work reduced significantly. Just a graduation was enough to land-up with a job of INR 20-25 K per month plus opportunity to learn English language with accent at no additional cost. 
BPOs started to flourish around in metros but with more than proportional rise in real estate prices and higher manpower cost BPOs had to venture into class B cities of India. Courtesy of BPOs and several other factors count of top cities in India increased from 4 to 6 and then 8 and today its around 12. 
4. Organized retail boom picked. Big Bazaar, Reliance retail, More, Vishal became household name. Consumer is having a great time shopping though may not be ending-up with best price or value- as may be  perceived looking at promos. “Sabse bada din” concept of Big Bazaar is one of the most innovative promo in retail space for this decade. 
5. Real estate boomed, got larger and more organized. Many real estate firms went public. However, the hype about real estate is reverting to normal since 2008. Organized retail found hard to break-even early due to rising rentals. 
6. Indian consumer got rid of cable operator mafia. Got to experience digital quality program courtesy of DTH. Tata Sky and Dish TV ventured early and 2-3 years after others stepped in to cash-on the trend. 
7. LCD took over CRT. A Television was a TV till LCD came in to differentiate it from a CRT. LCD prices have dropped 60-65% in last 10 years. Same may be the fate with LED and or 3D TVs. 
8. Radio finds its own market (between a mobile, TV, disc players etc.) with private operators permitted to resume non-news based FM services across Indian cities. Satellite radio flopped despite initial hype but FM radio is here to stay.
9. Mobile phones were used more as “callers’ identity”. Near-by Local/STD calling booths were used for calling back. But with charges waived for incoming calls, pagers died, local/STD booth business flopped and craze of owning a colored mobile handset gained prominence among consumers. With years passing new players stepped in, cost per call dropped almost every month and mobile phones landed in hands of teenagers/youth (non-working). I acquired my first mobile phone in 2004. 
A black&white mobile handset cost INR 3000 in 2004 and today we get an entry model “smart phone” for the same price. Price drop of mobile handsets helped rural consumers to buy their first handsets faster while urbanites shift to high-end high-price phones. 
10. Shopping malls became a favorite hang-out zone for youth, playground for kids and window-shopping venue for middle-class Indians. Shopping malls offered to a common man the experience of air conditioning. AC sales grew exponentially while Indians dumped water coolers citing humid climate in India as if not experienced summers before.  
11. My wife today calls up a grocery shop in neighborhood and says, “भैय्या एक किलो चने की दाल और एक लिम्का घर भिजवा दीजिये गा”. Home delivery has been a revolution and spread like a virus across India- not just restricted to urban cities. Lazy Indians became more lazy with married men skipping their holiday homework of shopping for kitchen. Private banks introduced ATMs and netbanking saving men from standing in long ques to pay utilities bill. But yes, no more lame  excuses to leave office early.
12. “Incredible India” campaign not only attracted foreign tourists to India but prompted Indians to prefer India over foreign locations for holidays. 
13. Transportation improved significantly. Had it not been low airfares- courtesy of domestic private airlines in domestic circuit- not many of us would have traveled by air. Road quality improved courtesy of a financial innovation called “securitization”. Toll tax is a burden on all of us but we get good roads to try our expensive cars.
14. Fast food became a household name. Thanks for Dominos for adding an additional dish in my menu.  My first pizza was in 2006 at Mumbai. Since then I have it once every week.
15. I can buy my kids a remote-controlled helicopter, a talking doll or a kitchen set just like Barbies’. This is because of Chinese toys flooding the Indian market. Many Indian toy manufacturers would have become traders instead. 🙂
16. I can write blogs when at home and stay connected with my friends. All this is possible today because of braodband reaching our homes, Orkut and Facebook facilitating social networking at no cost and a computing device at hand in form of a laptop and or blackberry. My Orkut account was opened in 2004 and Facebook in 2008.
Overall a great decade to live and live it healthily. May God bless all of us with health and more happiness.
Happy New Year to all

Being on notice period

Strange are the ways corporates function at times. 

Management thinkers have spent decades researching and commenting on best HR policies, employee retention, performance-based compensation structure etc. Consultants charge heavy fees to guide management to sow seeds of innovation and cultivate attributes like transparency, integrity, team spirit, hard work to help owners harvest maximum returns on their investments. 
In last 5 years I have worked with 4 different types of organization. All were unique due to their product/service, size, employee strength, work culture etc. but strangely they all are same when it comes to the HR policy pertaining to notice period. A general HR policy states that any employee who has worked for more than 6 months within the organization and is permanent by nature of employment is liable to either serve a notice period of 30 days post tendering her resignation or pay next 30 days salary in advance. However latter is possible only if permitted by your boss.
My uncle use to say only two relations in this world get happier with your success- your teacher and your parents. For sure, such behavior is not expected from your Boss (mind the capital B just as G in God). Irrespective of miracles that you did and milestones you achieved during your employment period, you are treated just like any other employee once on notice period. All these years you tried hard explaining your Boss your strengths and achievements and she makes you realize 'that one thing you need to work upon…,else a raise of X% was on its way.'
So while you are rarely/partially appreciated (for fool's sake at times) for your performance and always told “No one is indispensable” insistence on serving the full 30 days notice period is not negotiable. While on notice its like you are suddenly without any work. Your colleagues with whom you shared and experienced good and bad of corporate world look upon you as a person who have broken their trust. Its like saying, “Why have you done this to us? You were never with us. You cheated on us. Why did you not share that you were planning to change etc…?”
Officially being on notice you are required to 'hand over' your work to one of your colleague. 'Hand over' is like teaching a 10th grade counting. All this is fine till your colleagues start commenting “you never loved your job else why will you leave if you were so committed to task at hand or you also went for more money.” One who serves a notice period is the only one to understand the pain of leaving a job. It hurts and hurts even harder if you were true to your job and to your organization to be on notice period to quit. 
Decision to change a job can be due to falling prey to greed of earning more and or combination of better future growth. All this seems an obvious statement of reality but its not true always. If its so painful to leave then why do people change jobs? Reason lies only in present job not in future one. 
Have a Happy NOTICE PERIOD just like that jingle of 'Whisper' sanitary napkins states- Have a happy period

Our Prime Minister

When I was a student at DAV College Chandigarh, Manmohan Singh was then the finance minister of India and was termed a ‘hero’ for bringing about reforms in Indian economy. I was fortunate few to receive award as a sports person from him.

Those days he was more of an economist and less of a politician. I know, and for obvious reasons, that even politicians need economists who build some rationality into their false claims and hence he may have landed into politics. Manmohan Singh is knowledgeable, calculative in his statements, pragmatic, sensible and calm, a man of few words in true sense. 
Over the years he has evolved as a politician quite well and politics may be occupying 80% of his mind. Whether its his stance over 2G spectrum allocation scam or disruption of winter session of parliament by opposition he has stood unmoved. We may be critical of his stand for not giving into demand of setting-up JPC for probing the 2G spectrum allocation despite losing a full winter session of parliament.  
What does it finally take to be a prime minister in world’s largest democracy? For sure you need to be shrewd, diplomat and tactful to manage power hungry colleagues and ever critical opposition.

A gentle reminder to dear Prime Minister- While actions speak louder than words, they speak only when initiated on time. Please overcome all the constraints that have grown around you over the years.

Law of attraction works

Changes comes when it comes but 'law of attraction' works.

Watched 'Secret' movie three years back. The movie was gifted by one of my wife's friend. I completely believe law of attraction and how it works/can work in our lives. Impact of the movie, as far I recall, lasted for not more than few days (atleast from the implementation or realization in my life) though I have often been referring to the law of attraction in my interactions with friends.
Before I proceed to share our (my wife's and mine) experiences related to law of attraction, will like to share thoughts that may sound tangential to law of attraction. The thoughts are with regards to God that my seniors, grand parents have been preaching me with. 
My grand mother preaches, “Japo Santnam Wahe guru as many times as possible in your daily routine.” “Have a constant realization of his presence and feel him in your heart”, said my Uncle. Before getting married, when I was a student, I recall experimenting with being silent for 15 minutes every day just after hearing the evening azaan from the mosque (evening azaan is about 15 min before sunset and hence a easier way to keep track of sunset time wherever you are). I was told if I only thought about God and experienced him close to heart during this time for next 40 continuous days, I will gain some divine power. In case I missed any day, I had to start afresh. 
After 5 failed attempts I finally gave up. In total, I must have ended-up rehearsing 'silence' (Maun Dhaaran) for almost  30 days. Those days I recall I felt myself closer to God and a sense of enthusiasm and positive energy within me. I experienced bonding with God (who till recently was worshiped out of fear or for fulfillment of desires) and a feeling that he hears me. 
Till recently, when I started re-experimenting with law of attraction, I believed being conscious about God's presence and being thankful to him- a constant realization of his presence builds a field of positive energy around me. 
A lot has changed since we linked some of our past life instances to law of attraction. Law of attraction is a concept that is far simpler to understand and practice unlike the concept of “God” which ultimately leads us to follow some religion in this world to connect and experience.
Since my early teens I fantasized that I will find love of my life and fall in love with her. Eight years hence, I met my wife when I pursued cycling as a sport in Chandigarh.
My grandfather use to joke on me that they plan to get me married early in life so that my wife takes care of me- single pampered and overprotected son of the family. It turned out to be true. I was just 22 years old and just graduated when I got married to my wife. Law of attraction worked for my grandfather it seems.
We use to take tuitions of school going kids during early years of our marriage as I was still pursuing MBA. When we moved out of Indore, we lost touch with our students. We did not own mobile phones nor did we frequented Orkut or Facebook every day. Since then we lost touch with our students but always desired to see them grown-up one day. A fortnight ago my wife decided to search for them on Orkut and Facebook. And fortunately she was able to find one of them and today we are connected to all of them. A great feeling and happy to know that law of attraction worked for us. 
During our stay in Indore, my wife wished visiting Surajkund Mela – a annual handicrafts expo held at Faridabad, India. Within 5 years we happen to move to Delhi and our residence was just next to Surajkund where the mela is held every year. Her wish was fulfilled and she has been visiting the expo for 2 years now. Law of attraction worked for us once again. 

Buying vs renting- excel-based calculator

Snapshot of the excel tool

“Why have you not yet taken a housing loan? Its high time that you go for one. Interest rates are low, economy is growing and you are anyways nearing 40s. Banks may not extend you a 20 year housing loan once you are 40.” said X. “I fail to comprehend multiple variables at play in deciding whether to buy a house today or continue to stay on rent.” said Y. “Also all my friends have gone for a housing loan and market prices of their property is up by 30-35% within 3 years. Will I ever afford to own a house if I delay my decision?”

Deciding to own a house today or later is a critical decision atleast for the employed with limited savings. Multiple factors from current income, expected growth in income, GDP growth rate of the country residing in, interest rates, real estate prices, rentals etc. all impact the decision. With an intention to help partially address the dilemma quantitatively a excel based tool has been developed. No ways is the template a comprehensive or conclusive. In fact its users should consider this as a guiding tool in making a decision. Also its a version 1. Version 2 can be developed post feedback from its users.

Guidelines to use the tool:

a) Country of residence does not matter. However, residential property to be owned should be in the same country where currently residing
b) Tool helps you quantify the trade-off between owning a housing taking a housing loan or continue to stay on rent.
c) Results are indicative and may not be accurate.
d) Readers are advised to use it at their own discretion

The link to download the calculator is here: Housing loan vs rent calculator

Crude threat for Indian Economy

Emerging economies seem to be far more complex and difficult to manage compared to developed ones and Indian economy is just the right example.  Just when the economic pundits and RBI were reading ‘end of trough phase’ of business cycle, challenges in form of trade deficits, appreciating rupee, high inflation and international shock in the form of crude price increase re-surface. 
No way do I mean that the whole economy is threatened and may slip back into recession due to any of the unfavorable indicators. But, for sure, a part of the economy may slip into inflation faster than the whole economy. 
That part of economy which is small and more constrained in terms of resources . From a consumer perspective, the low income group is going to be impacted the most and for obvious reasons if GOI decides to increase the price of petroleum products, diesel for sure. From industry standpoint, SMBs (Small and Medium businesses) are expected to be impacted the most. Empirical evidences indicate that SMBs are more constrained in terms of financial strength and hence are most impacted at times of recession. The situation gets even worse for SMBs supplying to OEMs where they minimal pricing control and bargaining power except a predictable order book in good times. 
Forthcoming increase in diesel and petrol prices are surely going to impact this segment of economy. But what are options left with the managers of Indian economy. Let me think and revert. 🙂 

Aging members of my family

My grandmother will be completing her 100 years on earth within a year or two. She does not recall her date of birth not even the year she was born in. Despite her old age, her mind is sharp enough to worry for our wellbeing. A true characteristic of a mother, especially Indian mothers. She stays with my parents in Jamshedpur and is updated about us by my parents. She longs to be with us, visit our house in Delhi and watch my daughters playing.

She prays to God almost every instance while we do not pray even once in few days for our selfish desires. ‘Wahe Guru! take me away but ensure my kids are fine and healthy. Keep their repo intact in society and bestow on them a life of dignity’, she often prays to Wahe Guru. 
Being a kid, I recall spending most of time being with my grand parents. For years we (my sister and I) were fed fresh milk (milked from domesticated buffaloes) early morning while we were half asleep. Somehow we had got conditioned to gulp down a glass of milk in a minute or so and get back to sleep. 
Jagdish (member of our family to help us take care of our domesticated buffaloes, a source of extra income) was with us since our childhood. In fact he stayed with us since he was a kid and of same age as my father. Jagdish (I should have called him Jagdish kaku, chachu or something that added more respect to him but never did that happen) treated us as if we were kids of a zamindar or a raja. He returned to his village 15 years back to stay with his family. 
He has grown old but his kids well settled in their lives. Strangely, we never got to meet his wife or his kids. To supplement his income, my grandfather helped him with a job as contract worker at Tata Steel. He use to manage only a 10-15 days leave twice a year to visit his family who lived in a village falling under Hazaribagh district of Bihar (now in Jharkhand). He will be remembered by me for his love to us, care and great service. 
While I am indebted to my elders and have to try pay (‘return’ seems to be a better word) them back for their love and affection,  I have an emerging prominent member in my family. Till few months back, Ruhin was an infant totally dependent on us. As she grows to be a kid, she seems to have her say in what we watch on TV, songs that we have to sing for her, places to visit or buy what she points out at while shopping. I have now to build consensus not just with my wife or Jassica but very soon with Ruhin. I hope she says yes to our fantasized Goa trip next year.