Monday, June 29, 2009

Global Recession Recovery Team: India named Captain

Montek Singh Ahluwalia
“I think it is reasonable to assume the worst is over. We will now get back to more normal growth,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said about a week ago while addressing the press.

Anand Sharma
“The prime minister is confident that we will be able to take it to 9 percent in the next 24 months. By and large our economy is stable and strong, and we in India have perhaps done better than others in this crisis. India has a sound regulatory framework”, Trade Minister Anand Sharma said about a week ago while he was in London

The above two statements coming from two of the most apt people commenting about the Indian Economy is surely something to cheer about. I presume they are not just giving Indians a motivating speech but rather talking from actual data and facts.

In fact, when you see the pace of expansion in the Indian Economy stabilizing in the first quarter of the this year at 5.8percent (as it was in the three preceding months) as compared to China which showed a drop in its GDP to 6.1percent from 6.8percent (owing to their dependence in overseas sales) in the same period it sure is a great sign of India’s $1.2trillion economy emerging from the worst global slump since the Great Depression.

Why India?

Paul R. Krugman, a Professor of Economics and a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008 recently told how based on IMF’s new World Economic Outlook recessions caused by financial crisis typically end with export booms, which he feels is a disturbing results as it means that the driver for recovery will only be available if we can find another planet to export to.

The above statement by Krugman could very well be the reason why India, this time around could just find itself in the midst of things with an equal chance to add its name of the noble few which may lead the next Global Charge (by providing the extra demand owing to increased consumption).

World Pointing at India

One may argue about the predominant role of developed economies, but the fact that they are either:

  • Bogged down in the substantial quantities of debt that they desperately need to pay off, or
  • Weighted down by those elderly populations who are weakening consumption growth and leading to export dependence (Germany, Japan etc)

may just give India the edge to lead the Global Economic Revival. India could actually be the country that supplies this extra demand required!

“So guess its the hour of realization,

For India is the chosen nation”

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson: God's fingers touched him, and he slept!

Michael Jackson Memorial
Its unfortunate that one of the most popular and controversial pop star Michael Joseph Jackson passed away on the 25th June 2009 at the age of 50. His death came as a shock to everyone (especially his loyal fans) who were eagerly awaiting his 50-date comeback residency which was to start at London (over 75000 tickets were sold in less than 4hours for that London show).

He suffered a cardiac arrest at his home in Los Angeles (LA) after which he was taken to UCLA Medical Centre (in a state of coma though) where the doctors were unable to revive him.

His brother Jermaine Jackson formally confirmed the news outside the hospital: "My brother, the legendary King of Pop, passed away on Thursday June 25 at 2.26pm. We believe he suffered a cardiac arrest at his home, however the cause of his death is unknown until the results of the autopsy are known. The personal physician who was with him at the time attempted to resuscitate him."

Jackson is widely credited with revolutionising pop music with albums including Thriller, Bad and Dangerous but his career was tainted with allegations of child abuse. His eccentric behaviour has also earned him a new nickname ‘Wacko Jacko’.

Quick Recap of his Life

Born in 1958, Jackson made his musical debut with four of his older brothers in the Jackson Five before embarking on a solo career. His album Thriller (1982) – which included the hits Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller – is still the best-selling album of all time, with more than 26 million copies sold. His lifetime sales tally is estimated at 750 million.

In 1994, he married Lisa Marie Presley, the 26-year-old daughter of Elvis Presley. The couple separated two years later and Jackson later married Debbie Rowe, a 37-year-old nurse he met while undergoing plastic surgery in 1997. They had two children, Prince Michael and Paris Michael Katherine, before divorcing in 1999.

Jackson had custody of the two children and of a third, Prince Michael II, whose mother's name has never been made public.


His unexpected death has devastated fans and sparked a flood of tributes from the biggest names in the music industry. To quote a few:

  • Quincy Jones (the music producer who worked with Jackson on Thriller) said: "I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news."
  • Madonna said: "I can't stop crying over the sad news. I've always admired Michael Jackson – the world has lost one of its greats but his music will live on forever. My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family. God bless."
  • Britney Spears said: "I was so excited to see his show in London. We were going to be on tour in Europe at the same time and I was going to fly in to see him. He has been an inspiration throughout my entire life and I'm devastated he's gone!"
  • Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, CEO, Sony Music Entertainment said: "Michael Jackson's unsurpassed artistry and beloved music brought joy to every corner of the world. We join today with his millions of fans in expressing our profound sadness and we offer our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. It was a true privilege for all of us in the Sony Music family to work with one of the most talented superstars in the history of music. We will miss him greatly."

Nevertheless its sad that he has had to leave us but:

“Michael Jackson’s death is only physical,

But his life through music is eternal”

May his soul Rest In Peace!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brand Obama: Packaged Protectionism

Obama is a celebrity and undoubtedly one of the most famous and powerful President around. It is seen that he has received a rockstar’s welcome wherever he goes (recently when he addressed the whole Muslim Population from Cairo University, Egypt).

Well I’m from the school of thought that would call Obama a perfect marketer but at the same time feel that he is not doing a great job when it comes to running the country! This is not a casual comment but my inference from his current activities (mainly his attitude that shows more protectionism than globalization).

Barrack Obama Protectionism

Here is why?

For threatening to end the tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas (overseas aka Bangalore, India :) ) and trying to be the so-called 'saviour of America', he is surely called the 'popular guy' of sorts...

But I feel this move of his, which shows America’s attitude intentions to resort to Protectionism (a mistake that led to the Great Depression to last for over 30years), opens a window for possible Indian companies going global and entering the US market. This may result in Indian companies employing Americans(at a lower wage though) and generating jobs in the US.

Well, from the present actions of Obama, I guess he would not mind this..!!! But this is where I feel its sad that US, the fore-runner in bringing in globalisation is actually back-tracking and resorting to protectionism. Surely, a positive for India in the long run! (that though is only if Indian companies have that kind of a vision and capability)… But this has raised eyebrows on Obama’s leadership and decisions..!

“Obama better take note and Introspect,

Else the downfall of US will be a case studied in Retrospect”

Friday, June 19, 2009

Historia:The New-Born Baby

After the success of this blog I have decided to increase my imprint on the Blogosphere. Well if your wondering what I am talking about especially after reading the title, then yeah the new born baby is the new wing to my blogging armoury. It is a new blog called Historia.
My current Blog (which you are presently reading... lol) as you know deals with the Present Buzz around you. It gives you my take on the current happenings. Whereas the new born blog would deal with the past, and it would be more fact based than opinion centric.
It is my attempt to bring to light a few forgotten or ignored milestones in history which has resulted in a world that we are living in today! So what say? Lets learn together! :)

Buzz Marketing
Thanks a ton, and hope to continue receiving your endless support as always in this new endeavour of mine! :)

PS: First post already updated on Historia. It is titled "English: A 1530year old language"!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New-Age Indian Temples: A Recession Proof Investment

A "land of temples" is what a lot of people call the state of Tamil Nadu with over 33000 temples in the state alone (most of which are 600-800years old). These temples were constructed over a vast period of time by various dynasties. Gopurams, huge gateways, pillared hallways and a Sanctum Sactorum are a few things that you would find in nearly all these temples.
People goto these temples for different reasons:
  • For peace of mind
  • Place of worship
  • Place of tourism
I'm from the school of thought that there is a supreme power, and people refer to in different forms, which is otherwise referred to as religion.
The other day I had gone to a relatively new temple (built about 2-3years ago) close to a town called Vellore in Tamil Nadu. It was called the 'Golden Temple'. I was in for a shock, not by the amount of Gold used to build the temple but by something that has coerced me to write this article.Golden Temple Vellore
I entered the temple and it had scenic beauty as far as your imagination can go, it had a star shaped pathway around the temple with the different sayings of the head preist there. The temple was shinning in the hot sun especially as it was completely covered with gold. It had a small water body and an artificially made waterfall. All this is attractive and amazing to the extent that it is a perfect display of human creative excellence.
This is where I noticed a few issues or features that really shocked me. Which were:
  • When you enter the temple you are asked to leave your footwear in a small stall for which you pay (like many temples) but here you have to buy a plastic cover to put your footwear in, from another counter which is run by the temple (first instance of a business angle)
  • You have to pay INR 250 per head at the entrance as an entry fee (the ideology of an entry fee is not new but the amount is way to high for any temple)
  • You have to leave your mobile phones and cameras (if any) at another counter for which you again have to pay
  • Then as you walk through the pathway, it is made sure that you pass 3 shops (if i can call it that) where they sell different artefacts and photos of the temple)
  • After you enter the temple if you have paid the INR 250 at the entrance you are made to sit at a distance of 15m from the idol of the Goddess, and if you have entered by not paying the entrance of INR 250 you don't get to sit there rather walk by and see the idol from a distance of 20m
  • For those who sit, there are 2-3 people who are something like volunteers who then tell you that you could get a special puja done with your name and get a small gold petal for which you have to pay a small sum of INR 1508 ;) (I had nearly made up my mind that this temple was more of a business center)
  • Then as you walk back you have 8 people sitting with computers and they ask you to make donations of any denominations if you wish too
  • Just when I thought this was all, at the end of the pathway as you exit the temple they have a juice shop (a noble idea) but which is a litte over priced (INR 20 for a 100ml cup of sweetlime juice) and due to the hot weather at that part of the country, about 9 outta 10 people stop there to take a quick sip (Business center for sure)
Well now guess at times of recession when all businesses seem to be seeing a dip in their revenues this business is probably a sure shot business plan which could be replicated to great effect.
So if your thinking investment think nimble and invest in a temple!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Problems all around" - An apt status update for Satyam

Well the word Satyam is synonymous with the fraud that has made India look down in shame. New clients refrained from even considering Satyam as a possible service provider. A few existing customers showed displeasure with Satyam. Just when it looked like this giant IT firm was about to sink and add to the loss of jobs due to recession which is already prevalent, recovery steps came in with Tech Mahindra acquiring this IT giant in a bid that was eyed by many.Satyam
But Satyam needs to introspect as they have more issues to take care off else they may lose out on existing customers. This may sound a little stereotype and judgemental but I say this on the pretext of my personal experience with one of Satyam’s SBU’s as a customer.
I’ve been on the internet from 1999 which makes it 10 years. At the beginning Dial-up was the in-thing to use the internet, with the only other option the ISDN was way too expensive. I started off with Satyam as my Internet Service Provider (ISP) and stayed with the Satyam Dial-up which soon came to be called ‘Sify’. I was a loyal customer when I decided to shift from Dial-up to Broadband in 2007 and even then opted for Sify as my ISP.
From a marketers perspective I would have been a customer that they should have given special privileges in order to reward my loyalty. Any sane marketer would have at least taken complaints and suggestions from such customers seriously and done a good follow-up.
Sify on the other hand was far from this. As a customer I spend a good amount on phone calls to the local sify technical incharge and the sify customercare giving constant complaints of faulty connection. I was not able to access the internet for about 10-15days every month. The worst had not yet come.
In April 2009, on one rainy night there was a power surge through the sify LAN cable which burnt my motherboard and resulted in what could be called a ‘mini-diwali’ with a cracker sound from my CPU (Approx incurred loss is INR 8000)
That was it! It had gone too far this time. I called the customer care and mailed them about this daily for 10 consecutive days with no reply from their side. In India acting on such issues legally would have demanded shelling out more money and a positive result if any would come really soon in about 10years time.
So I finally decided to switch my ISP and opted for Airtel Broadband which is widely acclaimed as the best in the country with respect to Internet connectivity and customer service. I requested for an Airtel connection and within 30mins I had a sales manager come home and take a written application. The following day a technical team came home and in less than 24 hours I was connected to Airtel Broadband.
I’ve been using this connection for some time now and my observations:
  • It does cost marginally higher than its main competitor BSNL but it scores way better in customer service
  • BSNL gave me a waiting time of 4weeks to install my connection whereas with Airtel it was just 24hours
  • Airtel inspection team conducts surprise visits to customers to enquire about and check for proper working of the connection on a regular basis
  • Whenever you post a complaint on the Airtel website or make one through the helpline you get a message on your mobile indicating the time deadline by which your complaint would be solved (trust me they take not more than half the time indicated)
  • To top it all, the customer care executives, the linemen incharge of wiring and the technical team of Airtel all knew good English unlike their counterparts in BSNL and Sify!
So guess it is high time Sify improves else it might just vanish in a Jiffy! :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Racist's – Australian for Character?

With 6 cases of Indians students in the last 22days being at the receiving end of racist attack in Australia it has been a serious issue for the Indian Community and the Indo-Aus ties. The Indian student Shravan Rao from Andhra Pradesh is the unfortunate student to have been worst injured and still fighting for his life, when a group of Australian fanatics put a screwdriver through his brain.

The Indian diplomats have expressed their deepest concern and doing all that is possible to ensure security of Indian students studying in Australia. The Indian actor Mr. Amitabh Bachan has politely refused to accept an honour from the Queensland University in Australia to show the Indian solidarity against this serious issue. The Australian Govt has lately taken critical steps by putting into action a new Special Task Force headed by former elite soldier Duncan Lewis to co-ordinate a response to the assaults and the perception they are hate crimes. They have also passed a law to ensure more stringent punishment for those who are guilty of such crimes.

Racist Australia

This has been the talk of most news channels in India and around the world in the past week. Like every issue even this has its group of stakeholders:

Australia: The Indian students studying in Australia is around 90000 which constitute over 18 percent of the foreign students in Australia. The number students in the fiscal year 2008-09 who have gone to Australia for higher studies has doubled as compared to 2007-08. The revenue from this amounts to a sum of over 2 billion Australian dollars ($1.6 billion) to the Australian Economy. Hence if this issue is not resolved it could badly affect the Australian economy, moreover this could even result in students from other foreign countries not considering Australia as a favourable destination for education.

Indian Students: A cheaper alternative to getting international exposure while going for further studies as compared to the US and UK

Political parties in India: The political parties in the opposition have as usual tried to make use of this by blaming the ruling government, and have tried to create a bad public opinion against the ruling party.

Australian Fanatics: They find themselves losing out on opportunities to Indian students in their own country owing to the recessionary phase around the world, hence lesser jobs and more demand for admissions into Universities. They cannot digest the fact that Indians are far more skilled and have a more developed intellectual capacity hence making them tougher competitors to beat. This is what draws questions on the competitiveness of the Australians. Are they losers or racist? Is a question that is doing the rounds.

How long will this pointless racist intolerance against Indians continue is something that cannot be decided by one person or a handful of people! Such issues require fundamental changes by educating the Australian citizen on how to deal with and accept different cultures. Sure the Australian cricketer Bret Lee has shown interest by going to a couple of universities and has tried to counsel students regarding this, but will this continue and how seriously the Australian government’s initiatives be implemented is a question that only time will tell!

Till then we can only pray for the security of Indian students and stay united for this cause.

Jai Ho!