Just writing

It's a crazy world out there!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Unelectrified villages or cities?

India has a large programme for electrification of un-electrified villages: Villages which are far flung and have not been put onto the electricity grid. There are about 85,000 of them all. The target of electrification programme is to electrify all of these villages by 2012. But I wonder where there is similar programme for powering the "un-electrified urban areas" through the grid.

Let me explain "un-electrified urban areas".

My office is in a swank DLF building in DLF Cyber City. And guess what, it has not been provided grid connection. It runs 24x7x365 on Diesel or Gas generators (especially for a lot of BPOs in this area). Imagine if there is cut in gas supply or diesel shortage or something like that. This nightmare actually became true when during the oil companies strike, the petrol pumps and oil depots went dry. The DLF areas were running on low diesel inventory. To conserve oil, half of the lifts were shut down, the lights in parking lots were switched off and so were lights in corridors and "the fancy lights" in offices. It could have got scarier the next day had it not been a Saturday. Over the weekend, the oil companies strike was called off and ...

Does government have some programme to electrify "un-electrified urban areas"?

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Similarity between failures of Subhiksha and Satyam

The founders and CEO's of two big failures in Indian economy Subhiksha and Satyam Computers are R Subramanian and Ramalinga Raju respectively. Subramanian and Raju happen to be from the most elite business schools of the world - IIM Ahmedabad and Harvard Business School respectively. Period.

Subhiksha has run out of cash
Ramalinga Raju quits Satyam; admits to fraud - Express India

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Predictive text in Hinglish, Part II

I posted this one on my blog about 10 months back "Predictive text in hinglish"

Interestingly.... Motorola has recently launched something on these lines...
USB 1.1 for charging
Office-quality speakerphone
Rich applications such as 3 pre-loaded games, currency converter and calendar
Sleek black form factor
Features 7 African languages
Hinglish predictive text for writing combined Hindi and English text messages
20 KB on-board user memory³

Monday, October 29, 2007

Flyover daudenge, Sharmaji daudenge...Dilli duadegi

Remember this ad prior to the first Hutch Delhi Marathon?

This time it was, I think the third run of Delhi Marathon; although the brands have changed hands. Hutch has been acquired by Sarin saab run Vodafone. So this time it was called VDHM- Vodafone Delhi Half Marathon.

I too put on my joggers on early morning of 28 October and ran with the thousands of junta. There were highlights of the (my) run, other than the fact that I did manage to complete my 21km in 3 hours 20 minutes ( I can look forward to breaking my record next year :)).

The other highlights should sound amusing.
First, I hadn't collected my bib. So I went to the Vodafone stall at the starting venue (a cricket ground at Vinay Marg) and requested these guys for one (The bibs could only be collected till penultimate day from Ansal Plaza). I didn't see any hope and the thought of running "numberless" was giving me depression :( Perhaps, this lady from Vodafone, took pity on my sad face and took me bit away from her office crowd and handed her bib. Huh! "Thanks madam" I told her and quickly proceeded towards the starting point. So, I ran as "Jayashree Sundar" with bib no. 31807! ;).

Anuj (colleague) and I then rushed towards the starting point at 8.15 am, only to realise that the run took off 30 mins back. shucks! Anyways, we began running..

Somewhere at 5 km, I stopped a bit, so Anuj and I decided to run at our own paces and he went ahead. Just slightly ahead of this milestone, I and some other joggers were stopped by a Dilli police constable Ram Singh..."re bhai theher ja, araam kar le...kidhar bhaaga ja raha hai...woh chore to wapas aan laag re sai!". On the opposite side, we could see the Keynians getting back heading towards the closing point. Anyways, thaanedar sa'ab to kind enough to let us late comers go ;)

The marathon route was amazing, through greenest and cleanest areas of NDMC - Chanakyapuri, Prithviraj Road, Aurangzeb Road, CP, India Gate...and yes weather was just about right to keep up the morale .. all in all, a pleasant experience..from 5km to 14km milestone, my stretch went on ...not any particular event to write on that part!

At around 14km, near Safdarjung Airport, I got this extreme pain in my feet, and I decided not to hurt myself more. I broke off from the marathon only to get lost somewhere in the service lanes around Safdarjung Flying Club. Somehow managed to ask people around, kept walking, so as to see some auto/bus. The funny part happened when, after getting directions from numerous passers-by in narrow bylanes, I finally managed to reach 'some main road'; only to realise that I had joined the marathon again. I think due to this detour I ended up travelling lil more than 21km in all. At this point, I still had extreme ache and a feeling of ulcers developing in my feet. But then, got a feeling to somehow drag myself to reach to the end.

As I touched the line, it was 11.40 pm. There were the dholwale and the naachne wale around - 'thim thim lak lak' in true saada Dilli ishtyle... that helped pep up the spirit a bit.

The ache in the feet was unbearable...but then it definitely gave each of us who finished, a good feeling of having tried out our stamina and touched the finishing line finally!

And btw, just checked for the fastest runner. This Kenyan took just 01:00:43 (hh:mm:ss) !!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Impact of Chak De India

The neighbour of my sister has two daughters- both should be below 6 years. That late evening when I was leaving my sister's place after a visit, the mother of the two girls was asking her daughters to leave their plastic hockey sticks and go to sleep - "ab bas bhi karo tum dono, subah khel lena".

I was pleasantly surprised at this new craze of (women) hockey. The little girls, in their night suits, were dribbling with their plastic hockey sticks just outside their porsche. When I spoke to their mother about this new found craze, she told me that many of her daughters' classmates have got onto hockey. In fact, the school took all the kids for a special show of Chak De India and later dedicated a week for 'The National Sport of India- Hockey'.

By the way, are you running the Hutch Delhi Marathon?

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Energy can not be destroyed, it can only be wasted

While understanding energy efficiency of a system, I think it is important to not only calculate output/input but also look at ways in which the wasted energy (input-output) can be converted into some useful form. For example, waste heat from a foundry can be used to heat water and generate electricity. Heat generated by braking in automobiles can be converted to electricity (Toyota Prius concept). People are going much farther - A gym owner in California has installated fittings beneath the track of treadmills, which convert the pressure energy exerted by the runners in miniscule amount of energy. A famous of brand of running shoes, has installed some piezoelectric (energy owing to pressure exerted) cells in the sole, to generate energy to charge the i-pod or cellphone of the runner.
The last two examples being just a matter of information, the point I am trying to make it is that if we consider the efficiency of any energy consumption system by also looking at all ways in which the wasted components can be converted to usable forms, we will have a better view of the efficiency of the system. In fact, that is the way, we need to judge a system's energy efficiency and not just by calculating main output/ input.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Reducing my carbon footprint Part II

It has happened to me and I am liking it. Last year, I mainly worked on upcoming coal based energy plants (a really huge plant actually). So it was indirectly causing a lot of carbon footprints to be left behind on the environment and lot of guilt in my head for being a part in causing that.

Things have changed starting this year. I have been on hydro energy* till this quarter. I feel I am leaving less footprints through my work and also have the chance to wash away my past year's unclean energy's 'sins'. I may get to work on Wind energy next; meaning more opportunities to do cleaner work and totally free myself from the 'sins' accumulated last year :)

*Although not all hydro energy is renewable in nature. Big hydro plants (especially the ones which build huge dams - eg. Sardar Sarovar Dam) cause irreparable damage to environment around their dam/reservoir, since they submerge huge amount of hand- in turn submerging lot of vegitation and also people's houses. The vegitation that gets submerged emits loads of greenhouse hydrocarbon gases)

Reducing my carbon footprint

People nowadays have started asking this question " What's your carbon footprint"?. Essentially meaning that in whatever energy consuming activity you perform (for that matter, every activity we do is energy consuming, barring perhaps sleep!) how much carbon emissions did I leave in the atmosphere. So, when I went to Sikkim last Wednesday, I caused emissions to come from: Cab from home to airport, Delhi airport to Bagdogra airport (planes have a much severe impact), cab from Bagdogra airport to Gangtok. That's quite a bit of carbon footprint!

Well the question is, could this footprint have been minimised? Well yes, if my clients were willing to have that 2 hours presentation on web confrencing via say, a Reliance Webworld. That would have saved loads of money and emissions as well. Well, it's another point that the trip was a package work+leisure trip, hence I liked it.

I think we should considering the latest means of interaction - internet (and its children - VOIP, Video conferencing etc), as not only money saving but also an important way to save environment.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Good old resources conservation habits

Memory 1 # When I stayed with Mr. & Mrs. Iyer at their Chembur flat during my summer internship (April-June 2005), I noticed that Uncle used to eat rice and dal without spoon. He used his hands (typically found in South India) and at the end of the meal, he made sure that the plate was clean; he cleanly ate all bits of rice on the plate (which is only possible with hands and not spoon). This ensured that food was not wasted at all. It also ensured less water usage at the time of washing dishes.

Memory 2 # When my late grandmother had to take bath in winters, she used to keep the bucket of water in open sun. By around 1 or 2 in the noon, the water was warm enough to be used for bathing. Geyser power saved!

We still sometimes, keep refrigerated items out in open to come to normal temperature, 10-15 minutes before being put on the stove for heating. It saves gas.

I think traditionally, we lived simple lifestyles and have been always conscious of the limited nature of our natural resources. Why can't we incorporate these elements in the new buildings we design, the cars and other resource consumption devices we design?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Creativity and enterpreneurship is found on the streets

Indians are a bunch of creative people. A case in point:

I: On three sides of my office building, DLF is doing really huge construction activity. Implying that there are large number of construction workers/labourers working from morning to evening and staying in temporary hutments provided by the builder. They are going to be here for at least a year or get engaged in another huge construction project going on just 500 metres away. Most of these workers are migrants from Bihar and poorer regions of UP. Looking at their requirement to call up their families in remote villages, a guy had set up a movable kiosk (thela) with 4-5 WLL telephones (Reliance/Tata). And whenver I pass by in front of his thela , his phones are always engaged.

And by the way, when the labour move to another nearby construction site one year hence, I have no doubt that this creative thela wala would move along.

China-India: Old comparisons and still continuing

Case I: China plans to build a road up to Mt Everest base camp on the Tibet side. The 108 km road at such high terrains, is slated to be completed in 4 months. The point is the ability and will to complete such a big project in flat 4 months, and not that such a road would be ecologically harmful.

Case II: India faces severe power shortage. And yet, it has taken the government of India more than 6 months to disqualify a successful bidder (Lanco-Globeleq consortium) for the prestigious (and critically needed) 4,000 MW Ultra Mega Power Project, when the case is clearly of false presentation of facts (both experience in developing power projects and net worth of bidding company). And they are still holding "meetings" to decide how to disqualify/qualify the bidder. The project is already 6 months delayed and a decision on who will develop the project is likely to get into a limbo again.

One government completes a project in 4 months. On the other hand, its neighbour takes more than 6 months just to decide who will or will not develop the project.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cool and useful feature: FedEx Kinko's and Adobe® Systems

Sometimes, allowing your software (like Acrobat Reader) to download updates as and when available has its advantages- you get to see and use some really cool and useful add-ons. For example this:

FedEx Kinko's and Adobe® Systems, Incorporated have teamed up to enhance your online printing experience. From Adobe Reader® and Adobe Acrobat®, you can now send PDF files directly to FedEx Kinko's for printing, binding, and shipping.

First, click the FedEx Kinko's button in Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat toolbar, or select "Send to FedEx Kinko's" from the File menu. Then, set your print options in FedEx Kinko'sSM Print Online, preview your document, select from available pickup and delivery options, and pay online.

You'll save both time and money while enjoying the powerful features of FedEx Kinko's Print Online!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

A bicycle as an investment

It is unlikely I would have thought of a newly bought bicycle as an 'investment' (rather than as an expense) had I not read about Carbon Emissions trading (more popularly called CER trading) or about the current climate change concerns.

Here is a quick analysis of my new investment called "Project Bicycle":

mileage of my two-wheeler: 35 km/ltr
Driving need for a day: 6 km/day
petrol conumsed per day: 0.171 ltr/day
Emissions per ltr of petrol: 2.320 kg/lt
emissions saved per day: 0.398 kg/day
No. of days in year: 270 days
Carbon emissions saved in a year: 107.383 kg/year
Carbon emissions saved in a year: 0.107 ton/year
revenues from CER at 20 Euros/CER: 118.121 Rs/year

Savings on fuel: 46.286 ltr/year
Current price of petrol: 45 Rs/ltr
costs saved on fuel: 2,082.857 Rs/year

Payback purely on fuel savings
Total inflow 2,082.9 Rs/year
Total outflow 2400.0 Rs
Payback 1.15 years

*Payback considering CERs
Total inflow 2,200.98 Rs/year
Total outflow 2400.0 Rs
Payback 1.09 years

*although, CER trading at a personal level is not available at the moment; but imagine if 10,000 new cycles register for such a benefit :) so that the transaction costs of such a sale can be justified

Of course, I have been on the realistic side when :
  • I compare my bycycle with a two-wheeler and not a car (which I use more often)
  • Petrol prices assumed at Rs. 45/ltr when it is very much in news that government is going to up the fuel prices as it is no longer capable to bear the load of oil subsidies.
  • I ignore the health benefits that get accrued to me.

Wish mucinipalities could bail out the existing cyclists and new cycling enthusiasts with dedicated lanes or fining auto drivers from honking incessantly at cyclists.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Profit in solving local problems

Yesterday there was an ad inviting global tenders for development of Dharavi . .. i always believed there was profit to be made in the biggest problem of Mumbai - slums. it is so sad that that b-schools keep on teaching case studies in increasing sales of soaps and refrigerators and not deal with real problems around. for example - the confluence (iima's famous b-school event) and other b-school contests can invite a business plan to solve the slum problem in Mumbai ; the end objective being twin - profit and welfare - tough nuts to crack together and surely a good challenger to all skills of MBAs. i always hated those fancily written HBR cases; when we know india has bigger and unique problems to solve- infra (poor urban infra, power, slow ports), poverty, sanitation and drinking water problem, the Ganga and Yamuna cleaning plan, tigers' dwindling numbers, poor education standard (read drop-out rates and absenteeism of both students and teachers) in rural schools and infinite others; and hold on, all this is not charity - govt spends thousands of crores in solving these problems inefficiently; that means there are chances of getting a pie of these thousands of crores; means there is profit to be made.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Attempts to channelise energies and think positively

Today as I got back home, I was filled with frustration, that caused by all the traffic jams I had to face during the day (and for all these days in Gurgaon). For example the area around my office is in such a mess and chaos especially during office hours (and even otherwise) mainly because of bad planning of roads, their 'available' area (quite a bit of it being blocked by parked vehicles without fear of any legal action) and rest of this mess being contributed by erratic traffic sense of people, lack of patience and lack fear of traffic laws. And this is the situation when there some 7 DLF towers operating in an area of about 300 metres radius; there are another 5-6 coming up, and I am really sceptical about what would happen when the number of cars would double on same cramped road infrastructure. The roads inside old town of Gurgaon are totally broken and have lived out their utility due to excess traffic. I am worried and frustrated as well at the end of this experience.

But as I settled at home, I realised that this negative use of energy won't help; not at least my mind. So I thought of writing this note, essentially to cool down my mind and at least help me channel the energy in a positive direction.

You know I realised that all these years we thought that better growth would bring happiness; I think the reverse is happening; while I agree that there are pains involved in growth phases, but how does one explain broken roads and lack of planning to accommodate growing traffic which is result of such growth. Doesn't investing in growth and actually growing at >8% also include planning and implementing new systems and infrastructure so that we accrue the benefits of this growth in a happy manner. Roads in Gurgaon have remained the same quality since I was a child. I cannot attribute this to pains of growth; I thought higher growth would generate higher incomes for government also in the form of existing and new taxes, which should improve infrastructure. But no, that is not happening. Not only existing infrastructure has not improved, but the upcoming infrastructure is not being planned to accommodate growth. Leave Gurgaon, talk of Bangalore or Bombay; wasn't there anybody there who realised that there would be many more people and businesses in the city, so that infrastructure at least keeps pace with the needs, if not deteriorate. Well, I think Hyderabad (and also Delhi) was one place which fares somewhat better and has managed to keep things in order during this growth phase. It is another thing that the man, i.e. Mr Naidu who brought about this change was given thumbs down primarily by rural voters (rural voters were right in the sense their lives did not improve because of all this); educated, intellectuals like us anyways do not care to vote.

How many times have you voted in any of the elections of your constituency?

All these years the politicians believed or rather wanted to believe that India would grow a Hindu rate of growth ~ 2-3%. Well, even for that kind of growth we had bad infrastructure. They never planned that there would be better growth and Indians would be richer to afford cars and ACs and hence they need to build roads and power plants to take care of these needs (well, the government also makes money on new toll roads and by selling electricity at 14% profit margins and earns taxes on each new car and AC). How else can one reason out that liberalisation in early 90's and investment in infrastructure did not go hand in hand for almost a decade. We only had NHAI quadrilaterals, Delhi Metro projects starting in late 90's, while the liberalisation and growth began in early 90's. Electricity is anyway in serious problem even now.

So, planning was completely missing from all this. And of course what was missing was the will to improve things; anyway politicians and the richest class who could afford to stay in good localities and only travel on highway like roads and have 24 hour power back-ups didn't care much. The bureaucracy anyways could not do much beyond a point; in a democracy like India, politicians are the all powerful creatures elected by part of the billion population; and this part anyways doesn't include many of the educated intellectuals who work from 9 to 5, crib about situations but do not vote and then full stop!

Machines do not do planning, roads and power plants do not think; it is people behind them who plan and think. If people do not think and plan or do not have the will, good intentions and the calibre (calibre having small contribution though in this) to plan and implement good things in a country, then nothing would improve. In all this, till now the biggest shortage has been of will and intention to 'do something'.

If out of the 'n' people who plan and run the system/country/government, less than 50% people are 'the willing' and 'good intention ones' the system would never improve. Boss! This is a democracy and the unwilling and wrong intentioned would outnumber and overpower the other half to make things better for themselves and worse for the rest of the country.

So why don't we have good people into the system? Why is it that the educated intellectuals who are better planners, thinkers, implementers and good intentioned do not outnumber the other half? They do not even vote, damn it.

I wrote all this because we are a lot who were together taught a lot of planning and managing in the same school, and I thought you would think of answers to this mess: the mess of not having good people in the system. More importantly, can we do something about it. And I call it a mess because higher is the worse lot of people in the system of a country, higher is a chance that the 'willing' and 'good intentioned' lot would be discouraged to contribute anything to the system. It is a clear vicious cycle.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Predictive text in hinglish

Predictive text in Nokia phones somtimes becomes irritating. The "Predictive" in the "Predictive text" relates to English dictionary only. And many a times we end up using a mix of English and Hindi, like : "movie <**> dekhne chalen?<**> I will be free by 5. Last week <**> bhi movie nahi dekha<**> ". The <**> of couse signifies changing the mode from predicive text to normal english using '*' key. And it is irritating to press it again and again.

So we also need to have a mode in Hinglish, which allows me to write a mix of these English and Hindi words. Or for that matter Kannadingish to allow Kannadigas to write "Enjoy madi" without the <**> after 'enjoy'. A mode that identifies Hindi words written in Roman script.

Harry you listening?

Monday, February 19, 2007

India adds an Australia every quarter

More than one and half decade back when I took my first lessons in Geography, I read in my NCERT book that "India adds an Australia every year in terms population". When my teacher discussed this in class, it sounded a scary and alarming situation in all our heads.

Things change, or at least the way we look at them.

On Friday, when I picked up the Economic Times, the headline read "India has 20 mn cell phone users" and adds almost 5-6 mn users every month.

That old statement now reads differently- "India adds an Australia every quarter", albiet in mobile phone connections.

A billion heavy population or a billion capable workers or a billion potential consumers. Whichever way we want to look at it!

Monday, February 05, 2007

From sensitising businesses to sensitising humans

There have been mechanisms in the market which help businesses offset any negative impact of their processes on the environment. Carbon emissions trading is one of them. Under this, an organisation mandated to reduce emissions by a certain 'x' % by certain year, can either do it by improving its own processes or fund a project which can reduce the 'incidence' of emissions (in comparison to the baseline emissions by a status quo process). For example, a paper business in France can either meet its emission reduction targets by investing (say 'x' Euros) in improving its own processes. However, it can achieve the same by funding (say 'y' Euros) a hydel project in India. And if y < x, the business would prefer funding the hydel project (the hydel project produces zero emissions in comparison to coal based generation).

The environment policy makers and the more aware politicians and academicians are aiming at going a step ahead by doing this to humans. Currently though, they are just being sensitised to do so. Imagine, each human having a quota of emissions (s)he can cause per year. Emissions caused by use of energy - at home via heating and use of electricity, during driving their cars, while travelling by air. Imagine (s)he being given the choice to fund (or partly fund) a emission reduction project (say planting trees, or installing solar cells in a village instead of supplying coal based power to it) to achieve his/her targets; the other way being of course by reducing energy consumption on their own- flying less, travelling by bus/metro rail etc. Or by buying eco efficient products instead of normal products and thus achieving the same amount of reduction in emissions. (Actually, some people are encouraging the world to do this already). And the business opportunities arising out of all this is immense.

The problems of environment have actually created so many business opportunities (and hence wealth and jobs). So finally, problems are not that bad for world.

If this entry excites you, I am interested in talking to you. Please do mail me abajaj [ at ] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

XLRI Leadership Expedition (Coverage in www.jammag.com)

Campus Buzz: XLRI Leadership Expedition
Mount Everest Base Camp, March 2006

Some people are born leaders but some learn it through situations. Texts on leadership identify some key attributes that a leader must have: spirit of adventure, high self confidence and self-awareness, an ability to influence others without force, and lastly something that has become relevant in current times, a sense of social responsibility. Keeping these key ingredients of leadership in mind, twenty of the graduating students of XLRI embark on a ‘journey’ to Mount Everest Base camp in the form of XLRI Leadership Expedition this March.

This journey to the feet of the highest peak in the world has two objectives: First is to create situations where future managers can learn and experience the fundamentals of leadership and secondly, to impact the society in a positive manner.

Learn by leading: This journey would involve about 110 kilometres of trek starting from Lukla through Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, Lobuche then Gorak Shep before reaching Everest Base Camp and its overlook at Kala Patthar (18,480 feet above sea level). A trek that would span 8 days would have a different team leader(s) on daily basis. The team leader would take care that the team meets the daily trek distance target, decide where to stop and start moving and give motivational support to the group. To ensure effective learning, XLRI is working with a leading firm that specialises in programmes in experiential learning to design the trek. In drawing up the trekking plan, we are getting the guidance of Ms. Bachendri Pal, India’s first woman to summit Everest.

Lead by contributing to society: The second objective of creating a positive impact on the society is being done through partnering with CARE (an NGO into AIDS prevention and poverty reduction) and executing AIDS awareness in Jamshedpur (India) and 7 villages in Nepal that would fall along the trek. The trek team is working with CARE volunteers on how to make villagers aware about AIDS. The plan is to talk to groups of people, have short street plays and distribute condoms. The trek team has already done field trips to slums in Jamshedpur to make people aware of means of AIDS prevention.

Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) is providing physical training support to help the team prepare for the tough trek one month from now. TSAF is providing artificial wall climbing facilities, access to a state of the art gym, all facilities in their fully equipped JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur.

Mountain Dew (a brand from Pepsi stable) that positions itself as a drink for the adventurous and young, is sponsoring the trekking gear for the team.

This expedition would be the first of its kind in India, on the lines of the Wharton Leadership Program. The idea has been more than welcomed in the corporate world, which feels that traits like genuine leadership cannot be developed through classroom teaching. XLRI has taken a commendable step in this direction. Will other B-schools follow?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Selling to BOP (Bottom of the Pyramid) market

Companies have attempted to innovate on any one or a combination of the 4 “Ps” of marketing in order to sell to Tier 3 or Tier 4 (BOP) customers. Here we quote some examples in this regard.

‘P’ for Product Innovation
An oft quoted example of product innovation to reach a new market is that of Nirma . Karsanbhai Patel (the entrepreneur behind Nirma) realized an unmet need of detergent powder around Ahmedabad which till now used primarily bars and cubes. HLL, which was leading the FMCG in detergent powder market, had a premium product Surf which was only accessible to a select few in India. HLL used high quality (high priced) ingredients like Active Detergent (AD), builder, buffer etc to ensure a superior wash. Nirma powder conformed to none of HLL’s carefully developed product formulae. It contained not ingredient to improve whiteness of fabric and the level of AD was half that of Surf and it had no perfume agent, and hence it was able to keep the price of the detergent low. In spite of being inferior to Surf and other premium powders on every single account, Nirma was able to capture one-third of the market by 1977.

‘P’ for Playing with Pricing (and packaging)
In a market where price was an important deterrent for consumers to start using shampoos for hair care (refer table 2 to notice the low penetration of hair wash products especially in rural India), Cavinkare came up with small 50p sachet packs which have revolutionized the way many products are sold in India now . The “sachet strategy” has especially helped in striking a cord with the rural consumers. Over the years, the sachet strategy has proved so successful that, according to an ORG Marg data, 95 per cent of total shampoo sales in rural India are by sachets. Sachets packets (or small packs) have now become popular even among biscuit (Tiger biscuits), hair oil (Marico), and cold cream (Vaseline) companies.

‘P’ for Placing the product at the remotest corners
Distribution is a major cost and problem while trying to reach rural customers. At the same time, rural India presents a huge untapped market for personal care brands. To achieve this, HLL’s personal products unit initiated Project Bharat (in 1998)-the first and largest rural home-to-home operation to have ever been prepared by any company. The project covered 13 million rural households by the end of 1999. Along with Operation Bharat, HLL conceptualised Project Streamline to enhance its control on the rural supply chain through a network of rural sub-stockists based in these villages. This gave the company the required competitive edge, and extended its direct reach to 37 per cent of the country’s rural population. As a rule the rural market is much more price elastic and involves more intensive personal selling efforts compared to urban marketing, and here HLL has been more than successful .

‘P’ for Promotion to create awareness
With a sizeable share of the Indian soap market, the HLL could simply focus its attention on persuading the millions of Indians who currently use soap made by its competitors to switch to Lifebuoy . For Unilever to build its business in India over the long term, though, it must attract new consumers, including the estimated 70 million people who never use soap. This is no easy challenge. Over 70% of India’s one billion populations live in rural areas not reached by television, radio or newspapers. If that were not challenge enough, illiteracy is widespread and there are deep-rooted beliefs about cleanliness that have to be addressed, such as the widely held belief that if hands look clean, they are clean. To achieve this objective of creating awareness (and hence expanding its market) HLL launched ‘Swasthya Chetna’ in rural India. To drive the message home, children are invited to take part in a ‘glowgerm’ demonstration. This involves applying a white powder to the palms of hands, then washing with water only. Hands are then held under a ultra-violet light and the powder glows where dirt remains, showing that hand washing without soap is not enough. The children then repeat the process, this time using soap, only to discover the UV light shows no trace of the powder –a simple but highly effective demonstration.
In a rural market, where only one-third of population uses toothpastes. Colgate Palmolive launched Operation Jagruti, to help the company increase its oral care penetration in rural areas synergistically with physical reach. The operation involves conducting village consumer contact programmes, creating awareness about the need for oral hygiene, increasing product penetration by generating product trials and seeding products in village outlets by exploiting Shandies / Haats and unconventional rural media to broaden consumption .

Sunday, January 22, 2006

~ Script of the voiceover in an ad of Apple Inc.

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see thingsdifferently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect forthe status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can'tdo is ignore them. Because they change things. They pushthe human race forward. They invent. They imagine. They heal.They explore. They create. They inspire. Maybe they have to be crazy.How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written? Or gaze at a red planet andsee a laboratory on wheels?We make tools for these kinds of people. Whilesome may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the peoplewho are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the oneswho do.

Apple.Think Different.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What am I missing out:

1. Reading - Some business fiction, Goal, It's not luck, Gandhi, World is Flat, Book on Bono, Freakonomics, Ruskin Bond, Saumerset Maughm ?
2. Going out- Trekking, Forests, ?
3. Movies- Loads of them, ?
4. Playing- Tennis (Learn from professional), badminton, TT, Football (learn), Basketball?
5. Music- Collecting great songs of all time, Fully using my Ipod, ?
6. Exercising -Jogging, ?
7. Technology: Fully exploit the features of my camera and I-pod
8. Games: Any of the games: AOE, Capitalists

Monday, January 02, 2006

My tryst with the Indian stock markets

I began trading on the Indian stock market (NSE) in October of 2005. I was acting as a money manager for an FI (actually on behalf of my brother Aseem living in SF, CA :))

My experience till now is a mixed bag of feelings. I am happy about identifying stocks which had the potential of growing - I bought them low and sold them high. But after I sold them I realised that I did not sell them "high enough". The more I look at the current prices of those stocks (for example: Phoenix Lamps, Balrampur Chini, Mastek) the more I have a feeling of incomplete satisfaction, i.e. I could have gained much more.

I don't know whether I need to be more scientifically driven to determine the price at which I should sell a stock, or is it just that I need to generally patient with things (I am a bit impatient and impulsive)?

Any comments or suggestions?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Incentives design in a supply chain

I read an interesting article on importance of incentive design in a supply chain. It sounded quite interesting to me. The article is titled: Aligning Incentives in Supply Chains, By V.G. Narayanan & Ananth Raman, Harvard Business Review, November 2004. I have written a review of this article as part of a course requirement. You can read the same by clicking here (The aricle involves some amount of integral calculus. I took the help of a Maths honours friend here to understand it).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

We (myself and classmate Shukla) had to make a presentation in the Services Marketing course. We had 2-3 hours to do this. Understanding that profs have a fascination for using matrices every now and then, we developed one on our own. But we thought we should own up the act. So we put something in the bottom right corner of the slide. Notice carefully, bottom right corner :) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A good example of how people fail systems

I bought a tshirt from Rediff.com on 26th September for a friend who was to leave for US on 5th Nov. Other than the fact that it did not reach her in time before she left, Rediff customer care is so bad that they didn't care to reply to my queries about my order. After 20 days of sending a query, I got a reply elaborating how Rediff.com gets large number of orders and sometimes such problems crop up. Were they trying to pass the buck? They didn't even apologise. Pathetic they are.

They may have the best systems in place like "Track a order" feature etc, but the people behind of those screens perhaps have failed the system. Bad customer care and a frustating experience, that's what I can say. Don't buy from Rediff.com if you have a choice.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunil Mittal

I read this line in an article about Sunil Bharti Mittal (winner of ET Business Leader award) in the Sunday Times of India:

The Harvard returned business leader smiles: "Imagine I was at Harvard in 1996 for an executive MBA. I was studying application of IT in business. Now, I hear my co. Bharti is a case study at Harvard! I guess I have come full circle" Well said, Mr Mittal.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My engineering school as seen in Google Earth

 Posted by Picasa

Just blue and white

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Friday, September 23, 2005

A shift from Short term to long term and vice-versa

I know some people whose main purpose in life is to "stay happy, no matter what".

One of such persons has the following to say: When you feel sad about something short term that has happened, try to forcibly divert attentions to long term things which would give you happiness. That way you would be able to divert attention from the bad feeling you have due the short term aweful thing that has happened. And you would do the otherwise, when you have some sad thing happened because of a long term thing. Just divert your attention to short term happiness. Khatam aaj ke liye yehi likhna tha.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I asked my MBA professor "So sir, what should the company do in such a case?", and replied back saying, "You know, it depends". What he probably meant was that MBA is not about some answers but about asking yourself the right questions.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Found this on an old almirah in the backstage of my school Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 31, 2005

A speech at the Toastmasters Club

This is a speech which I delivered at Wipro Toastmasters Club. (www.toastmasters.org). I had lost this speech, but a good friend forwarded it to me today...thanks to her for reviving some memories..


>From: "Ambrish Bajaj" <>
>To: "Akshu (E-mail)" <>
>Subject: a speech i delivered at toastmasters
>Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 18:38:07 +0530
>Memories blurred, but indelible
> It was sometime in the first week of October 1984. Her personal
>bodyguards had just assassinated Indira Gandhi, the PM. There was rage
>amongst certain sections of the society against another section. The houses
>were blazing around me; they looked as if paper houses were being put on
>fire, just for fun!
> Good Morning Toastmasters and distinguished guests.
> I was about 5 years old then. One would aptly call an age when all you do
>is play, break neighbors' windows, eat all rubbish from street hawkers, and
>spoil clothes by playing in mud. All your parents do is clean up the act.
>That is, buy you toys to play, apologize to the neighbors, take you to the
>doctor for the belly pain you've got by eating all rubbish on the street
>and wash your clothes hard to remove those almost indelible stains. So I
>was also that kind of a kid. But I used to muse and think a lot. Very often
>I used to be alone and indulge in deep thinking, mostly directionless.
> Getting back to October 1984. I knew something awful had happened in the
>country. I also used to get confused about the concept of a country. Please
>do not expect anything more out of a kid of 5. TVs were running day in and
>day out loud and clear. Just when the news of the PM's assassination
>started spreading like forest fire, a similar conflagration began at many
>ill-fated homes; the inhabitants of which had committed just one mistake
>that they were born with religion of the PM's assassins.
> Anyway, we had wonderful neighbors. Typical of how neighbors are in a
>street in small towns. One of the loveliest neighbors was the next-door
>family of four- Sardar Uncle, Sardar Auntie, Badi didi and Choti didi. I
>must tell you that were an amazingly affectionate family. Often Auntie used
>to take me to her kitchen and offer me tasty stuff. Both the didis used to
>pull my red fat cheeks. I hated them for this, but probably it was their
>way of expressing love for me.
> As the fire raged across the city, I didn't feel intimidated. Why should
>I be frightened, I could hardly understand the graveness, which now I would
>call insanity of the matter? But then one night fear struck me. My family
>and me were standing out in the porch of our house. There was a curfew
>situation on the road. The yellow glare was emerging from all four
>directions around me.
> A bunch of unruly guys was approaching our house. I think I would have
>got a bit scared. They were in "dire need". In dire need of some
>inflammable thing, probably they had consumed all their stock on earlier
>homes. "Sir please, petrol, kerosene or even LPG, kuch bhi chalega". My
>father and landlord straightforwardly refused them.
> The refusal didn't deter the mob's animalistic spirits. They forcibly
>stopped a scooter on the road near Sardar Uncle's shop. Obviously the shop
>was closed at that point of time. They took all petrol from the scooter.
>They approached our street, which unfortunately for that day housed many of
>the ill-fated families other than our beloved neighbors. But I think God
>Almighty was not asleep, he felt moved and alarmed. A nearby milk-dairy
>owner, a 6 feet, rustic and healthy man came in the way of the mob. In
>authoritative Haryanvi, he commanded the bunch of "boys" to just get lost,
>as there weren't any "prey" for them in that street which they were
>frantically looking for. I think that it wasn't that the mob got fooled and
>pushed off; they actually got scared by the words of the man, the man who
>was determined to save some lives on that night.
> The night went off calmly, at least in my street. Next morning the houses
>in my street were intact, their inhabitants unhurt.
> A few months later our "beloved" Sardar family moved to Punjab for
>probably safer if not better prospects. Mom was in touch with Sardar Auntie
>when the two didis got married. The two moms exchanged good wishes. A few
>years later we lost touch with them.
> My memories about all of this are a bit blurred. But I cannot ever
>forget- the love of our neighbors, fear in their eyes during that turmoil,
>not to forget the cheek pulling by the two didis.

My first tryst with Mumbai locals

A friend of mine forwarded this mail to me which I had sent her when I was in Wipro.


>From: "Ambrish Bajaj" <ambrish.bajaj@wipro.com>
>To: "Akshu (E-mail)" <@hotmail.com>
>Subject: A Civilization called Mumbai
>Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 11:40:30 +0530
>A Civilization called Mumbai
>I had to reach Starters and Shakers (a pub on the first floor of Eros
>Theatre, opposite Church Gate stn). I started from Borivali stn. Bought a
>ticket and asked the man behind the counter for a fast train. The guys tell
>me "bahut saari hain, platform no.5 per chale jaao". I went there but was a
>bit confused, I couldn't locate a board where I could see the platform no.
>Now, ignoring my didi's advice to buy a Ist class ticket, I took a II class
>ticket. I wanted to show that 'I can' board II class compartment at 8pm on
>a working day. I think the above is really something worth showing to
>yourself, boarding a local train at this hour on a working day is no joke,
>and that too the IInd class compartment.
>Well, we move on with my experience. I was standing at this platform (which
>I later realised was Platform no.4) and the train comes. I could understand
>that there were so many people to board the same train, but I was
>The next moment I remember is, the train left the station and also 'me'.
>Ok, I missed the train so what. When I walked slightly to my left to ask a
>person if there will be more trains to Church gate, I was told that trains
>to Church Gate would leave from the other side of the platform.
>Thank God, I didn't go to Virar (trains from platform 4 go towards Virar).
>Virar is the other end of the Western track of which one end is Church
>Gate. ;-)