Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Business School degree’s applicability in Indian context.

A friend of mine pursuing PhD from IIT Powai keeps me on the toe most of the times. His views are thought provoking. The other day I was chatting with him and we started discussing applicability of management degree in Indian context. Though we couldn’t talk much, here are my views on the topic.

In my two years of grinding at one of the prestigious management school, I have studied and solved more than 100 case studies apart from the regular curriculum. Case study is best way of teaching as it gives insights to numerous factors integrated with each other. It is like practical examples getting solved in class rooms, hence giving exposure to real life scenario. If I retrospect, the case studies mostly dealt with American and European MNCs chasing and expanding at various geographies worldwide. It focused on issues that they faced while expanding overseas. How some xyz company has changed the landscape, or changed the face of an industry. From McDonald’s supply Chain issues, South-West Airlines game changing strategy to Wal-mart, Coca cola and Nestlé’s Maggi... mostly the cases were about developed countries and issues faced by such countries. The cases dealt with subject including strategies, stern labour laws, supply chain, merger and acquisitions, branding, positioning, managing working capital, capital budgeting, etc. The depth and breadth was very wide.

Yet it somewhere missed the Indian story. I am not able to recall all the cases, but I did study few cases which dealt with companies like the Unilever and P&G and few others, entering in Indian markets. I think Big Bazaar could be a great case study in itself. No one taught or thought of creating a hyper market with stuff arranged in chaotic manner to give it an “Indian bazaar” look, the way Indians like to shop. The success of Café Coffee Day is keeping world biggies like Starbucks at bay restricting its entry into the Indian markets. The positioning, location of the outlets and the youth appeal has seen the brand become stronger and stronger. The pricing is perfect; the management knows how much a college student’s pocket can afford. Haldiram’s is another case in point for strategies revolving around sales and distribution. You go to any place in India, on any railway station and you would find a Haldiram’s namkeen packet. Parle is another example for that matter. BCCI -the money minting machine dominating the world of Cricket, Indian railways, IPL, Chanakya neeti, Reliance Industries refinery plant, Tata Nano, the dabba walas, the networking of locals in Mumbai, etc. There are many many Indian examples which are worth studying giving great insights into various aspects.

I think we need to focus on how corporates of foreign origin deal with various issues when they try to expand in difficult geographies. They teach us how to handle language and cultural barriers, how to localize and keep pace with grow. Sitting in class room, we get to know challenges in growing business in countries like the US, France, Germany or Australia for that matter. It definitely gives exposure of world class and our thought process becomes much more informed. We become globalize and think as a global manager. We dissect strategies of Wal-mart, we find follies, think out of box and present the case to the class and submit our recommendations. We say that the company should have done these things and they could have saved these many million dollars additionally. I have my self submitted a research report comparing the strategies of Jack Welch, ex-CEO of General Electric and Jeff Immlet, the present CEO of GE. It was appreciated but it remained on papers. Had I studied JRD Tata’s vision and Mr. Ratan Tata’s vision and submitted it, possibility of its application would have increased. I work in an Indian MNC and I hardly apply what lessons I learnt during my management studies. Though the outlook is global. it is macro in nature. The skills developed are utilized but I see a huge gap between what is taught and what is applied.

The percentage exposure needs to shift a bit. If the proportion of content shifts from developed counties to developing nations the applicability would increase at work place. Our thoughts will be more realistic. We will think and innovate with some practicality in it. The second fastest growing economy is vast and diverse and a difficult market to operate in. It is religious by nature dominated by middle class psyche, divided into rural-semi urban and urban markets, the demography mix is unique. The consumer is cautious as information has empowered him and expects a lot from the manufacturers/ service providers. The youth is modern in outlook yet its core values are very much rooted. Somewhere that Indian heart beats loud. The number of Indian brands nurtured domestically knocking at the global level to get recognized; even the fastest growing economy cannot match.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Every case study, irrespective of the geography, company or subject it deals with, hones the skills to match the corporate requirements. But if the curriculum increases share of case studies enumerating Indian scenario or scenarios from developing nations, may be from 15% of all case studies to 40%, the young guns would relate to it more. It will help in channelizing thoughts with lot more practicality and applicability.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Legalizing betting: Morality over-powering economic gains?

I remember betting with my sister on small small things. As trivial as who will reach home first from tuition classes, who will beat whom in the game of chess, to whom does mummy loves more, etc. The winner’s take away use to be a Kismi-toffee bar or a Dairy Milk or a Fruit and Nut. Mostly we ended up sharing the chocolates 50-50 percent, that too with a fight on who got a little bigger! Small things are so beautiful! But as the stake increases, the gravity of situation gets compounded.

In the on-going IPL saga revolving around Mr. Lalit Modi and the allegations put on him, some where it was mentioned that he was also involved in betting matches and tarnishing the face of cricket further. And then I thought why isn’t betting legalized in India? And then I thought why should it be legalized, in the first place? Does it exist (legally)? O yes! It does! We have legalized betting in horse races, gambling in casinos and can easily find lotteries up for sale outside temples and in busy markets, especially during festival times.

Gambling/ betting is defined as wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods. Typically the span of time between speculation and outcome is very short.

In developed countries like US gambling is legalised but not all forms and with heavy restrictions. In the year 2006, gaming activities itself generated gross revenues of $90.93 billion. In states like Nevada, casino is legalized but with heavy state restrictions. Both state and local governments impose licensing and zoning restrictions. Economy of Las Vegas is thriving predominantly on the gaming and tourism business. The story is no different in Louisiana, Illinois, Detroit, New York, California and many other places and countries. But the system is so efficient that if try to dig, we wont find a politician or a state minister holding stake in the business illegally. The policing is very strong and efficient.

In India gambling and bookmaking is not legal per say. Few exceptions are there like limited number of casinos is allowed to operate in Goa and Sikkim. Betting in horse racing is legal and can easily be witnessed in Mumbai and Pune circuit. Pretext for legalizing it was horse racing involves skills and isn’t mere speculation. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mumbai saw Matka gambling a form of gambling until police broke down the illegally operating establishment in 1990s. Lotteries are legalized but are controlled by the state or central government.

I think betting should not be legalized. It is like a short cut route for making big money. Since the demography of India comprises youth in majority, legalizing might paralyze the “working psyche” of the country. When we are young we believe we can do any and everything. Sky is the limit and barriers are just like commas and not full stops. Such confidence will back fire in the game of speculation. We Indians are proud of its rapidly growing middle class. The growth is majorly because of the hard working nature and ability to set targets and achieve them. Betting, where entry barrier is least, can challenge the foundation of our strong economy. No doubt it will churn huge amount of money for the government and such money can be used for the infrastructural growth. But it is not worth having a developed nation with paralyzed future.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Considering the fact that the demography of India is dominated by young and working class people, legalising can cripple the economy. 'Hard working' psyche might get replaced by 'making shortcut' psyche. In the long run, it would prove more of  a hazard rather than any positive for the society.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Challenging yourself...

Akhilesh, Puneet and Swapnil are three friends who cannot tolerate presence of each other at all. Yet they are friends, mostly conflicting. They have great understanding between them, yet they seldom co-existed for long. It was more of adaption rather than liking. It was more of familiarity rather than fondness. The uniqueness in their relation was they always knew their thought processing is different. Right from the childhood, they studied in same school and studied same subjects. However, they differed after schools. Puneet studied commerce in graduation and then secured masters degree in business administration. Akhilesh and Swapnil did engineering and then secured their MBA degrees.

Puneet is an introvert, cute and “good” guy. Take home and make your parents meet material, in short a marriage material. Akhilesh, handsome and rich. A lady- charmer, girls chase him for his intelligence and well settled future. But he is after realizing his dreams, dreams to become richer and richer and for him means are as important as the ends. Swapnil had this knack of doing right things at right time. An entrepreneur by nature always wanting to sell his dreams to the world.

Incidentally, Puneet met Akhilesh and Swapnil at a coffee shop - Café Coffee Day, their all time favorite. They greeted each other out of courtesy. Puneet ordered for Café Mocha, Akhilesh – Café Latte and Swapnil – Devil’s Own.

Akhilesh broke the silence. “Hey Puneet dude, how is your work going? Same company, last three years! The recession is over man. Markets have improved and competitors are offering much more than what you are getting currently! Switch from your company and see your package sky rocketing! I feel bad about your current situation. Common man.” Mockingly Akhilesh delivered his speech staring at Puneet.

Before Puneet could say anything, Swapnil interrupted Akhilesh, “I completely disagree with Akhilesh. Remember the stories that you told me about you wanting to start your restaurant? What about it man? You planned so much? Entrepreneurship is in your blood! I don’t like you working for somebody else. It is time for you to take a plunge from the mundane “job” and venture out of your own. You have your restaurant plans ready since last five years and you told me that you would be starting it after your management degree. In fact I was so much impressed just by looking at the detailing done by you. I can guarantee you, if you execute your plans, it would be a great hit!”

Puneet was listening quietly waiting for his turn to defend himself. “Akhilesh, I don’t want to run after companies. The current company has been good to me and taken good care of me in difficult recession times. I don’t want to betray it now. And in the first place, you know, this is not what I want to do! I am always looking to set up my own restaurant. Yeah Puneet you are right. But I think I want more time and need more money in place before I begin in big way. May be few onsites and then I am off to chase my dreams!”

“Switch and make more money in less time. Take onsite from new company. You are in business; don’t be sentimental for the current company! Don’t be emotional fool!” Akhilesh explained, banging his coffee mug on the table. “And you are losing time, in your waiting game. Start your restaurant and start building it slowly and steadily. It takes around a decade for any new business to get set and evolve in to big one!” claimed Swapnil promptly.

By this time, Puneet was completely confused! Perplexed and unsure, he became angry. All the three started defending themselves and making it difficult for Puneet to explain his situation. Puneet’s state of mind became rather baffled. The loud music of Café Coffee Day actually started dancing in-front of him. Full of rage and anger he pushed Akhilesh and Swapnil hard, indicating them to leave the place. The two got up and left immediately, abruptly, unconvinced, determined to visit him again afterwards. Puneet started pulling his hairs in despair and anguish.

After 24 mins, a waiter came close to Puneet’s table, picked up the only coffee mug lying and cleared the table. He placed the bill for Café Mocha, the only coffee ordered for the table since Puneet came to the coffee shop.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Isn’t it difficult to deal with your own conflicting thoughts bouncing on you at the same time?


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