Archive | November 2013

Reinvigorating Functional Effectiveness in Banks ( India Centric ) – Third Requirement.

     Every  bank  in  the  present  competitive  environment  needs  to  hurry  through  its  plans  &  strategies  for  2014.  Every  bank  will also want to be  a  winner.  Here’s  an  outline  of  a  Five-Step  process  for  a  likely  winner  :   1.  Define  your  strength  and  weaknesses/order  and  disorder  prevailing  in  the  operations/functions  vis-a-vis  your  stated  purpose.  What  will  happen  if  you  continue  doing  what  you  are doing   now ?  Are  they  compatible  with  your  existing  structure/resource(s) ?  Will  they  make  people  (customers)  contented  or  discontented ?  Essentially  it  means  taking  stock  of  the  existing  activities  and  their  impact  on  the  economy.   2.  Create  a  vivid  and  compelling  Vision  of  the  ideal  future  that  your  bank  will stay  committed  to  winning.  Essentially  this  means  giving  a  vivid  description  of  the  nature  of  major  structure/pillar  constituting  the  embodiment  of the  bank.   Its  organization,  overall,  will  comprise  a  tangible  part  of  the  whole.   3.  Start  planning  for  strategies  and  activities  now  for  the  year  2014.  Frame  a  clear  mission  statement  for  the  end  of  year  goals  with  a monthly  road map  in  realization of  the  goals.  This  is  expected  to  provide  the  momentum and  drive  the  employees  to  better  performance.   4.  Get  the  Leadership  and  Operational  Strategies  aligned  with  the  customers’  needs.   5.  State  what  is  clearly  evident.  List  the  various  plain  choices  that  seem  obvious  in  terms  of  banking  products;  customer  status;  and  any  others  that  the  bank  embarks  upon.  Know  what  your  competitors  do  and  their  expectations  of  what  you  will  attempt  along  with  your  own  prospects  of  future  good  in  the  present  circumstances.   This  will  help  the  bank  lay  out  a  map  of  where  they  are  and  where  they  will  be  at  the  end  of  the  year.  Also,  this  can   effectively  lead  the  bank  of  their  expected  or  unexpected  options  and  ensure  that  customers  benefit  if  the  Bank  Wins.

     Crystallisation  of  the  above  in  terms  of  Leadership  will lead  the  Bank  to  develop  adequate  support in  terms  of  Operational  Commitments  and  Customer  Relationship  that  managers/employees  display.  To cite some  cardinal  principles  that need  to  be  taken note  of  in  this  regard  :   (a)  Be  enduring  and  helpful  in  furnishing  instructions  and  illustrations.  (b)  Be  compassionate  and  supportive  when  the  person  is  solicitous  or  in  distress.  (c)  Be  polite  and  considerate.   (d)  Treat  every  employee as a  good  individual with  due  respect.  (e)  Remember  important   details  about  the  customer  (like  their  names ).   (f)  Express confidence  in  the  person  when  the  task  is  difficult.   (g)  Be willing  to  help  with  personal  problems.  (h)  Show  acceptance  and  positive  regard  for  others.  (i)  Provide  assistance  with  the  work  when  needed.

     Simple  prescriptions,  these,  it  may  appear;  and  yet  they  remain  ignored  and  overlooked  even  today  in  relationships  with  less successful  results.

     Every  bank  will  want  to  be  pre-eminent;  and  will  also  want  to  advance  rapidly.  It  is  extremely  important  that  competitors  withstand  imitating  them  if  only  to  stay  ahead  of  the  pack.

     Addressing  the  Wall  Street  Bankers  recently  at  the  SIFMA  Annual  Meeting,  former  US  President  Bill  Clinton  said :   ” We  live  in  the  most  independent  time  in  History.  Isolation  is  not  an  option.  Creative  Cooperation  is  a  better  model  than  Constant  Conflict.  Banks  need  to  go  back  to  Square  One  and  offer  a  detailed  Plan  on  how  it  is  going  to  lead  the  country  back  to  Financial  Prosperity.”    Asked  by   one  of the  participants  as  to  what  will  be  his  prescription,   he  replied  :   ” BE  TRANSPARENT    and    FOCUS   ON   GRASSROOTS   LEVEL.”   Clinton  also  suggested  that  the  recent  fines  levied  on  banks  to  be  put  in  an  “Infrastructure  Bank”  (not  in  the  Treasury )  to  give  more  power  to  the  economy.  That  is  how  we  can  Build  a  New  Economy.

     Most  banks  in  the  world  fighting  a  structural,  financial,  &  mental  struggle  in  this  critical  period  needs  to  echo  the  Quality,  Virtue  and  Worth  of  other  progressive  sectors  to  surpass its  own  competitors.

     ” Dieu  avec  nous “

     Friday,    November  22,   2013   –   9.29  p.m.  ( IST )

     Tidbit  :  ” Leadership  in  any  sector  is  not  SURGERY  ( which  essentially solves  the  problems );   It  is   PSYCHIATRY  ( where  afflicted  peoples’  skills  are  developed  so  they’ll  solve  their  own  problems ).”

Salutations to Qualcomm’s “Toq”

     If  you  think  that  the  ability  to  go  beyond  the  powers  of  the    ‘Five  Senses’    ( with the sixth  Commonsense )  is  a  peculiar  privilege  showered  on  human  beings  only,   “Qualcomm”  is  out  to  extend  such power  to  the  Digital  Society  of  this  New  Age   with  its  “DIGITAL  SIXTH  SENSE”,  the  ‘Toq’  Smartwatch.  This  may  not  be  the  summit  of  the  Advanced  Tech  Age,  but  something  Qualcomm  aspires  to  take  humanity  to  that  level  ‘summa cum laude’.

      Basically  it is the wireless connection  to  our  smartphone.  It  is  compatible  with  Android  4.0.3  and  above  mobile  devices;   features  a  Mirasol  1.5″  display;   MEMS  technologies;  &  wireless charging.   It is the world’s  FIRST  Smartwatch  to  enable a true  ‘drop  &  go’  charging  experience,  which  Qualcomm  has  patented  as  ‘WiPower LE Technologies’.   It  can  manage  smartphone  calls,  text  messages,  hook in to  weather  and  e:mail,  making  reminders  &  various  notifications  –  all  from  one’s  wrist.  Plus,  the  color  capacitive  touchscreen  can  go  days  before  needing  energy.   ‘Toq’  comes  with a low power  200 MHz  Cortex  M3  Processor  which  extends  the  battery  life.   It  looks  great  in  direct  sunlight  –  the quality that  makes  it  stand  apart  in  smartwatch  category.  MIRASOL  screens  use  reflected  light  and  use  almost  no  power  in  between  screen  refreshes  as  opposed  to  LCD  and  OLED  screens.

     Qualcommspeak  :   ‘Qualcomm’  expects  customers  to  think  of  ‘Toq’  like  Google  Glass,  a  new  prototype  that  actually  not  just  works  but  also  LEADS  the  way  for  FUTURE  PRODUCTS  using  this  technology.  Qualcomm  intends  for  MIRASOL  Displays  and  Low  Power  Processors  to  be  the  TWIN-ENGINES  driving  the  growth  of  even  the  mainstream  watchmakers  without  big  tech  embedding,  and  sophisticated  software  &  services  –  remembering  the  effects  of   Fossil’s  Palm  Watch,  and  Microsoft’s  SPOT  Watches,  which  collapsed  and  disappeared  earlier.

     How  dear  is  to  our  wallet  :   It  is  priced  at  $ 350  and  will  be  available  on  CyberMonday,   December 2,  2013.    For  comparison,  ‘Pebble’  the  Black & White  smartwatch  from  the  start-up  of  the  same  name  as  ‘Kickstarter’  sells  at  $150.  It  has  already  sold  85, 000  units,  reports  mention.  ‘Pebble’  is  waterproof,  long life,  and charges  via  a  magnetic  charger  like  ‘MagSafe’.   Another  smartwatch  ‘Martian’  acts  as both  a speakerphone  &  Siri  interface  with  a dedicated  Siri  button.  It  is  also  economical.   Can  the  features  of  the  two  merged  in  a  Smartwatch ?   Qualcomm is  the  best  judge .  Whether  the  price point  fixed  for  Qualcomm’s  ‘Toq’  is  RIGHT ?    Can  we  get  something  in  the  range  of  $200  or  less ?

     Future  plan  :   Qualcomm  is  on  the  move  to  roll out    the  “Internet  of  Things  Platform”    ( AllJoyn )  which  will  connect  many  more  devices  and  make  our  Life  experience  very,  very  special.  What  better  than  to  preserve  our  homes  with  Tech  enabled  NEW  FEATURES ?  Can  Qualcomm  pull  all our  electronic  gadgets  at  home  together a la ‘corps de ballet’ in a theatre ? 
  Qualcomm  is  a  necessity,  a  beacon  to  light  up,  and  to  accomplish  that  ‘Goal’.

     ” Dieu  avec  nous “

     Wednesday,   November  20,   2013.     –     12.59 p.m.  (IST)

Banks’ Focus on Solemn Service (India centric) – Second Requirement.

     Traditionally  Banks  have  been performing the chief function of  keeping,  lending, and exchange of  Money  –  in  effect  a  sort  of  a  money-box  for  the  savings  of  individuals.  With the change in times,  population growth,  growth of economy  banks also grew in numbers,  size,  products offered, and the technology adopted.  Concurrent with these changes popped the risk which, over time, assumed proportions out of the common course with the normal/nature.  Result  :   Enlargement of functions like  Investment  which posed newer challenges,  unforeseen failures,   customer  miseries,  need for newer strategies to combat risks  and  above  all  the impact on National  Economy  affecting the quality of life of the citizenry.  Effectively met with expansion of money, though preposterously, at times.  Have we lost track ?  Is this an abnormality ?  Have we been straying with thoughts and actions not in tune with the times and need?  Is this what will make our citizens satisfied ?  Questions  strongly debated by the concerned authorities and the public at large.

     What is at threat is probably the  “LOSS  OF  FOCUS”   and  the  “NEED  TO  PRESERVE”  the Rule  Books,  The sanctum sanctorum  of  Banking  Activity.  This  is the  ‘Second  Requirement’.

     A  preliminary survey by a student  revealed  that  Bank  executives  are  more  optimistic  about the  Nation’s  economy  as  a  whole  than  their  own  organizations’  prospects.  The challenges  are twofold  :   1.  Banks  need  to  raise  their  visibility  and  at the same time  focus/perform better on  Innovation(s)  to stay afloat in this competitive environment and to meet  the expectations of the aspiring customers.   2.  Some  banks  do  well with  new products & services  ( and innovation ) while some remain contented  with nurturing the existing lines of products/services.

     The decision to choose the right option  will hinge  on  whether the  bank is comfortable  being  small,  medium or  big.  We  have  already  witnessed  a shift  from the days of the  Mega Public Sector Banks  (60s to 80s)  to  a  mix  of  Big  Public and Private  Banks (90s  to  ’00s).  The future  to  me  will lie  in  SMALL/MEDIUM   BANKS  ( from 2015  onwards ).  In the process we  will also  be  witness to a consolidation of   some/many  of  the  small/less performing  banks.  Banks, overall, and specially  the  Private/Big  ones  will  not find  leveraging  easier in such an environment.

     The above two factors  –  (a) raising the visibility and reputation of banks;  and  (b)  Growth in small/medium sized banks (with new banks/branches in the offing)  –   will compel the Banks to  FOCUS  on  the following imminently  :  1.  Open  new  door(s)  and ideas prudently;   2.  Bring  fresh  experience;  3.  Create excitement in the lives of citizens;  

     These actions  can  heal  the  past  misdeeds/missteps of any bank caught in the whirl;  can stimulate new thinking;  and  can even surprise  the World  (India’s  pride).

     Smaller  Banks  will be  sharply defined and be without any catch;  They will display  Solemn  service;  They  may  not indulge  in  trade  beyond  abilities  and  resources;  they can be expected to be highly  transparent, specially  in  their  balance  sheets;  they  may  better  secure and  safeguard  capital.

     How  banks  will react  to  the  threat  of competition as new players tread rapidly  ( forcibly and roughly as well  !! ) their turf  will ultimately depend on how the banks maintain their standards well  refining  their  FOCUS.

     The  Human  Mind treats  any  new idea  the  same  way  body  reacts  to a new (strange)  protein.  Banks  !  Reject  or  Embrace  it  !!!

     ”  Dieu  avec nous “


     Monday,  November  18,   2013     –      8.01 a.m.

     Tidbit   :   ” Victory at all costs;  Victory inspite  of  all terror;   Victory,  however long and hard the road may be.”   –   Winston  Churchill  about  British  aims  in  WW  II.

     Instructive  words  for  the  Banks too in these demanding times.


Resurgence of Banks’ Firmness of purpose (India Centric) First Requirement.

     In one of my earlier posts  (  on   “Banks’  Power and Capabilities  on  Test-bed”  –  on 10  Nov 2013)  I concluded  with the statement that  ‘there are some essential requirements to effect the strategies’  and added that I will  deal with some  separately.

     I now present briefly the chief requirement as I see in this critical period of uncertainty and the need for banks to enhance their image and reputation to meet the impending competition effectively.

     My proposal  in  this  context  is  for  every  Bank  to  identify an able, sagacious and skilful   ‘PROMACHOS’  as  Leader  acting  and  conducting  the  affairs on  the  principle of  synteresis  ( operating  by  fide et fiducia,  fide amore,  and fide et fortitudine ).  How will he conduct  himself ?  Simple for the serious minded.

     Just recall  Late  Raj Kumar Talwar’s  ( Former Chairman of the  State  Bank of  India,  and  ‘Titan of Bank Management’ )   VISION  and  ACCOMPLISHMENTS  enshrined in total  COMMITMENT  &  VALUES –  a  study in management  for  professionals/students/employees/and everyone connected with Banking in India.

     1.  His singular message  :  “Honesty is the Best  Protection”.   2.  His structural  Reorganization  and  Systems  overhaul  of  SBI  with  Indian experts is a landmark reform that was the harbinger to other banks for two decades  and  more.   3.  MSME  ( Micro,  Small,  Medium Enterprises )  we speak of now  had its genesis founded on the excellent  PUSH  that  Talwar  gave  to  Small  Scale  Industries at a time when  BIG  Industries  were  the  darlings.    4.  His  mark of Leadership  bore  the  conviction  that  “Need-based-Lending”  shall  be the  cardinal  principle.    5.  He developed  Systems  for  efficient/effective  UTILISATION  of  FUNDS  ahead  of  Tandon  Committee’s  Recommendations.    6.  His decisions based on  QUICK  &  ACCURATE  ANALYSIS  affording  solutions  to  every  problem  he  faced  with  is  a  model  in  DECISION-MAKING.    7.  The freedom/leeway  he  extended  to  his  subordinates  to  take  decisions  EVEN  BEFORE  RATIFICATION  ( provided  analytically sound  and  factually  impenetrable  )  enthused  them  to  strive  for  perfection.   8.  His  principles  and practices  –  insights  and  foresight  –  are  what  we  are  discepting  even  now  in  the  context  of  the  Global  Financial  Crisis  albeit  without  any  acknowledgement/reference/mention  even  superficially.

     Sad,  his  service  had  to  be  forcibly  cut  short  just  when  he  was  54 ( in the year 1976 ).

     ”  Every  Bank  needs  a  Raj  Kumar  Talwar  today  not  just  for  the  good  of  the  individual  banks,  but  also for  a  clean  and  efficient  BANKING  SYSTEM.”

     I  will continue to deal  with  some  other  requirements  separately  in  due  course  of  time.

     ”   Dieu  avec  nous  “

     Saturday,    November  16,   2013   –    8.00  p.m.   (IST)

     Tidbit   :    “Banking  may  well  be  a  career  from  which  no  man  really  recovers.”  –   John  Kenneth  Galbraith.




World Diabetes Day – From the desk of a Diabetic

     Living with blood sugar is a constant source of stress and anxiety in life.  Unbalanced sugar level (Diabetes) has strong effects on  Memory;  it depletes our energy leaving us Fatigued most of the time;  it is likely to cause out of control Cholesterol;  it can put Strain on our Hearts besides other complications of Kidney and Liver;  and it can dramatically reduce our bodies’  Immunity Response making us susceptible to every little bacteria and virus floating in the environment.  Timorous, startling,  frightening, execrable – in many ways changing our physical, mental and emotional stability.

     Basics :  We are running the risk of serious health consequences if we have any THREE of the following  :

       (a)   If  BMI  (Body Mass Index) is 27 or higher;  (b)  If  HDL (“good”)  cholesterol is less than 50 mg/dL for women or less than 40 mg/dL  for men;  (c)  If triglycerides are greater than 150 mg/dL;   (d)  If blood pressure is higher than 130/85 mm Hg;   (e)  If fasting blood sugar is greater than 85 mg/dL;   and   (f)  if  Hb A1C is higher than 5.5

      Returning  to our mutton(s) ,   Diabetes,  it is important to know that  (a)  our brain cells need  energy from Glucose to function efficiently;  (b)  our muscle cells need energy from Glucose for walking, moving, running, playing and a host of other motor activities;  (c)  our liver cells need energy from Glucose to filter out harmful toxins.

    The endocrine gland,  Pancreas, controls the level of blood sugar in the body through the hormone  “INSULIN” it normally is capable of producing.  If Pancreas stops producing Insulin  or  our cells do not accept Insulin properly, Diabetes sets in.  There is too much Glucose in the blood.  No energy in the cells.  Hence the weakening and complications.

       Certain myths are being busted in recent times :   Many usually observe, ”  It’s the age;  It’s the obesity;  It’s  genetics  –  that  cause  Diabetes.”   These are actually not true.  They may have the capacity to predispose one to sustaining diabetes.  But they need not necessarily be the sole cause of diabetes  or if you have any one of these it is that ‘you are sure to be afflicted with diabetes’.  Some reprieve amidst the panic !

    A strict diet plan;  daily exercise;  prescription drugs/insulin shots are some of the remedial measures.

       Some facts to help us understand  INSULIN  better :  (a)  It is a natural hormone that our body creates and needs. If for some reasons body cannot produce insulin or produces less insulin, then a person develops diabetes and needs to take insulin from external source.  (b)  Insulin is the ambrosia of the diabetic’s life (Type 1 definitely and Type 2 to some extent) as it functions like a key, unlocking the cells and enabling glucose to enter the cells.  In its absence, level of glucose in blood rises and cells begin to starve.  (c)  Insulin will be prescribed at any stage of diabetes.  If HbA1C  goes above  7% or  7.5%  Insulin is generally a must.  With calibrated use of Insulin not just the short-term complications,  but even the long-term effects of even poorly controlled diabetes can be arrested. Consult a doctor for dosage.  (d)  Insulin shots are painless.  Due to advances in devices technology,  insulin needles are becoming thinner and smaller.  Non toxic,  non pyrogenic  insulin  syringes for daily use are made by several pharma devices companies.  (e)  Insulin does not need refrigeration to preserve/store.  They can be kept at room temperature when in use,  and even for about 3 to 5 weeks.  Refrigerated, unopened bottles are usable until the date of expiration specified.

        Insulin is one of the most effective options to have good control over Diabetes.  It normalizes blood sugar levels;  Protects eyes, kidneys, & heart;   It gets rid of body fatigue;   it even sharpens  memory.   Normal levels of Glucose means,  health is on track.  There are about 35 million diabetics in India.  India has the largest population of diabetics in the world.  India is a good market for companies engaged in  Prescription Drugs,  Insulin,  and  devices associated with it.  Some companies of note in this regard are  :  1.  Eli Lilly & Co.,(Huminsulin) ;    2.  Novo Nordisk  (Levemir,  Novo log Mix 70/30);    3.  Signum  Biosciences  Co.,   4.   Sanofi Aventis US.,   U.S.A.    5.  Glaxo Smithkline  Plc.,   6.  Ceres  Chemical  Co.,   7.  Biocon,  India.

       Ayurvedic  and  Herbal  cure as alternative natural medicine  are becoming very popular these days.  Moringa Oleifera dried powder;   Natural certified  Moringa seeds;   Moringa capsules (Cure  herbs  Co.);    Noni Powder,  Noni Capsules (Golden Horse Co Ltd.,);   Apimanu Diagymna Ayurveda,  Apimanu Hyperto San natural herb  (from  APIMANU SPAIN SL.);    Memordica Charantia Extract  ( from  Xi’on huami Bio Engg Co Ltd.,)  are just some to cite.

     Chief ingredients of use in the above preparations are :  Chromium,  Zychomium,  Berbarene (a plant alkaloid derived from herbs like Goldenseal),   Gymnema Sylvestre ( a rare herb) ,  Alpha lipoic acid ( a powerful antioxidant)  are just a few to cite.

        Healthy and productive life are not beyond the reach of Diabetics.  On World Diabetes Day  (November  14,   2013 ) let’s resolve,  ” Control  Diabetes before it controls us”.

   ” Dieu  avec  nous “

   Thursday,   November  14,   2013    –     9.  55  p.m.  (IST)

   Tidbit   :     Never ignore the  “Foursome”  if  you  want  to  enjoy  the  “Four Freedoms”.

    Foursome  :   1.  weight  Loss,  2.  Excessive Thirst,   3.  Lack of Energy,   4.  Frequent Urination.

   Four  Freedoms   :     The four essential freedoms  proclaimed by  32nd President  ( U.S.A. )  Franklin D Roosevelt in 1941   –   1.  Freedom of Speech;   2.  Freedom of Worship;    3.  Freedom from  Want;    4.  Freedom from Fear.

Higher Learning – A Taste of Uncontrolled Thought (India centric)

     Administrators,  academicians, and policymakers  in recent times  lament the fact that the  ‘Quality’  of students  coming out of the portals of our institutions ( Brand grabbing  IITs and IIMs included )  are  anything but a prospect of fortune or profit by a will.  Serious thoughts are also given to whether it is better to have a finite number of Excellent  Institutions  than an arbitrarily high number of inferior and pretentious ones seeking to pass for better than they actually are.  Much in the same manner when IITs were seeded.  A frequently expressed opinion ( though can be strongly contended)  is that  students of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s  fared better. 

     I, for one, feel that such comparisons are odious if at least for the following reasons :  Learning environment of specially the late nineties and the new millennium witnessed enormous changes – technological and social ;   Economy of the same period is different –  Globalization and Changing  Dynamics of trade is just an example ;  Web revolution engulfed almost all the sectors of economy;  Parents of students are more progressive;  Opportunities for growth, aspirations and values have also become different.

     During the 60s and 70s  students leaving our shores for higher learning and jobs were negligible compared to the present times.  We were also importing many essential manufactured items, medicine, high tech, and yes, KNOWLEDGE too.  Brand recognition of IITs  covered the glory.

     Today we see less well known institutions in the limelight doing comparably well if not more than IITs and IIMs.  We also witness the stupendous success of industrial belts in 2 Tier/3 Tier  cities of  Tamilnadu (Coimbatore, Sivakasi, Tiruppur etc);  Gujarat;  Andhra Pradesh  and  Karnataka  not so much to do with IITs but due to Enterpreneurial ventures of the local community.  A glaring feature is that the  Student  Community in these  regions have outgrown,  outpaced, and outsmarted  their peers in IITs/IIMs.

     Statements  of hues depending on context and the part of the world they are in emanate  from politicians and even corporate chieftain(s) about the glory or otherwise of students of institutions :   I recall Dr  Sam  Pitroda, while being given the go ahead for establishing  C-DoT , a milestone event in the Telecom History of India,  by the late Prime Minister,  Sri  Rajiv  Gandhi ,  he laid out certain conditions as requirements :  (a)  All staff engineers  will be young graduates and he will have the leeway and autonomy to choose them;  (b)  No  C-DoT  employee, under any circumstance, will deal with the Govt  Bureaucracy;   and  (c)  All matters of initiatives and progress (procedures)  will have to go through  Sam Pitroda  and  he  will be the one  accountable for the functioning.   Well,  the game changer that  C-DoT turned out to be in our Telecom revolution needs no elaboration.  But, the point to note and the instructive experience afforded  can not be missed  :  Sam Pitroda recruited Young Graduates and he knew well that they needed to be shielded from the ramblings and caprices of  Indian Politics.   Rajiv Gandhi stood by Sam Pitroda  as much as Sam Pitroda  stood by  Rajiv Gandhi.   Exemplary leadership by the Polity and execution by  the Chieftainry in our  GROWTH  FIRMAMENT.  This was also the harbinger to the spirit of competition among the institutions today to  excel in qualities displayed by the presumed titans of those days. A new order had been set.

     The institutions of  higher learning in India  (specially the less well known but talented) have become the ‘gateway’ to the ambitious masses to rise in economic and social status.  The onus is also on them to fulfill the ambitions of these people.  Before the arrival of the  INTERNET, owing to inadequate opportunities  to travel abroad, the faculty ( for that matter, the Indian scientists also)  and research students  were terribly out of sync with the rest of the world in terms of access to latest information and availability of quality infrastructure.  Research offers  Global presence and acclaim.  International collaborations also play a key role in development today.  It is only a question of time before it becomes an intrinsic part of academics in all institutions.  It can only be better now.  The institutions,  however,   have quite a distance  to travel in terms of research. It may be of interest to note here the partnership framed by three Universities – New York Univ, The Univ of Washington and the univ of California, Berkeley – with a new five year project on BIG DATA SCIENCE supported by funding from the Moore Foundation & Sloan Foundation ($37.8 million) being announced TODAY in Washington at an event organized by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy highlighting initiatives taken by Govt,industry and academia to advance “data-driven” scientific discovery & Tech progress.

     To succeed,  these  institutions have to  REPOSITION  themselves as a Research-University in which Post-graduate  Education  &  Research  will become as momentous  and pompous  as Undergraduate  Education.  The quality of students will eventually  surpass the ordinary and attain pre-eminence. This is my only edifying prescription to raise the quality and value of Students in Institutions.


     ” Dieu avec nous “

     Wednesday,   November  13,  2013   –    11. 05  p.m.  (IST)

     Tidbit  :       ” The  more  you  read,  the  more  you  know;

                            The more  you  know,  the  more  you  forget;

                             The  more  you  forget,  the  less you  know;

                             The  less   you  know,   the  less  you  forget;

                              The  less  you  forget,  the   more  you  know.”

Manufacturing sector’s Powers & Capabilities on Test-bed (India centric) !

     Today’s  slowdown in our economy has compelled the industry (specially the manufacturing sector) to strive hard to sustain growth prospects with minimum disruption.  Broadly the twin challenges are :  (a)  alleviation of sufferings people;  (b)  enhancement of prosperity to all communities of our society.  I  present below a snapshot of the challenge with a   ‘novel methodology’   to adopt for realizing  the objectives.

     Simply for the general weal,  industry needs to accelerate the following obvious measures first :  “Reduce cost;  Improve productivity;  Enhance operational  efficiencies;  and  maintain  what I term and often fascinatingly call ( since the late eighties in all my tutorial discourses )   ‘PSYCHOLOGICAL  QUIETUDE’  amidst growing tensions of uncertainty.”   What is more,  I also see the  “REPUTATION”  of any organization holding the key to solving many of the problems they face today,  more than ever before.

     To meet the challenges effectively & positively,  management strategies need to be redesigned with a flavor of sophistication  and high internal & external coordination.  It is in this context I present this novel technique for consideration by all players.  ‘Analysis of failure Effects’  and  ‘Event  Impact’  as the key management technique.  It will help to create a set of strategies for different outcomes arising out of preliminary applications.  The process involves eliciting responses to simple questions as “What if .. ..?”  If the answer is ‘yes’ ,  the investigator  will ponder over details;  and if the answer is ‘no’  he will pass on to the next item on the agenda.  Consider the example of an internal supplier of  an auto manufacturer exposed to industrial,  organizational,  and  government customers.  Directions of Credit;  market share;  new product  development;  tax rates;  government stimulus funding & prices are some key parameters in this exercise.  One can start applying the question  ‘ What if market share falls ?’  and elicit the answer from data available or directly from the chief handling the function.  The entire procedure is not detailed in this brief outline here.  The technique,  however,  is  beneficial.

     While the application in normal circumstances is relatively foolproof, it calls for a high degree of circumspection and analysis in the prevailing uncertain environment.  Also, there is a need for marked depth in information gathering since exploration possibilities becomes complex in the present volatile/uncertain situation.  Being focused on the long-term impact without sacrificing short-term interests is a balancing act critical to  fruitful evaluation.  While the Failure Effects Analysis can clearly point to the key indicators suggesting the alternatives, the Events Impact Analysis will permit the assessment of impact in larger terms. The ultimate result will be the satisfaction of designing a set of tools to withstand the crisis rather than merely attempting to predict it.  Setting apart the progressive companies from the less progressive ones, it is imperative to maintain “REPUTATION”  of organizations.  This is quite significant, particularly when  regulators;  stakeholders; & more importantly  the public exercise greater scrutiny of organizations now.  Customers’  “trust”  manifests itself in the form of reputation driving the success and profitability of any business.

     Unsealing the results of investigations through an effective and responsible media will ensure an extended reach reliable to the public without any skewed tilt to the findings.  The result will be trust build-up and self confidence with more than proportionate growth of business and the economy as a whole.  “PSYCHOLOGICAL  QUIETUDE”  with no tension(s) ,  conflict,  or  apprehensions will be a big  positive among the employees giving a boost to the levels of  motivation and initiative.

     There are certain essentials needed to integrate various components in this design scenario presented here.  I will try to set these out separately in due course of time.

     ” Dieu  avec  nous “


 Tuesday,  November  12,  2013  –   10.50  p.m.  (IST)

Tidbit  :    I learnt from my experience that It is easier to go from economy to extravagance,  It is hard to go from extravagance to economy.  

Higher Learning – Rambunctious Thoughts to Deliberate ! ( India centric )

     Background  :   Teaching  and  Learning  has witnessed a massive  transformation where the faculty now don the role of a mere  “FACILITATOR”  and not the Lecturer/Professor in the traditional mold.  It is highly participative now with students contributing to every topic substantially in the class room  –   in application,  innovation  and  future trends.   In funda  probably the role of teacher  still stands reasonably firm.   This,  however,  is  not to generalize and universalize  the  scenario.  Several  factors  are  making  this  transformation  a  reality  and  a boon.

     My  Notion;   my  mind;  and  my  view  here  in  brief  :

     1.  Sourcing,  where teachers played a dominant role has  been reduced to almost nil  with  the onslaught of  web  and  networking  technologies.

     2.  Ideation, again,  is not the sole preserve of the teacher  now.

     3.  Methodology,  analysis  and  interpretation  have also been aided  by  “Open Tools”  easily accessible to anyone at the click of a mouse.  Students discuss,  argue,  and  learn  while watching  MTV  or while sipping Coffee  in  the  Cafe –  which scenario when I predicted in the late-seventies and early-eighties evoked  laughter and derision.

     These are real now and in no way  impede the learning process.  Faculty  ‘enabling’  within the boundaries  of  shifting  methodologies  is  what  I  term  the  “altered  roles”. The  point to note is that  “teaching is not less attractive  but  involves  a  role  shift  requiring  adaptation  and  when  that  happens  it  is  an  enjoyable experience  (less  burdensome )  for both the teacher  and  the  learner  today.

     What today’s  faculty  need to do is to enrich this experience by  “research  inputs”  ( local, regional, national,  international;  gathered and self-conducted );  Case studies written;  Best practices  collected;  and  new  ways of participative  contribution  –  debates,  presentation,  short problem solving exercises  and so on.  The industry  internment  is  the  Laboratory  Experiment making practical gains.  Many  others  can  be  reasoned upon a thought  and  added.

     Many Institutions promote independent initiatives ( once the overtopping province of  IITs  and  IIMs )  by the faculty in so far as involvement in a variety of assignments  –  fund raising for the Institute with contribution and recognition for self,  e.g.,  Consulting,  Executive Development Programs, Workshops,  Short-term Courses  to cite just a few.   Hence,  the oft quoted reason  that  ‘financial package’  for the faculty is a constraint in maintaining standards does not hold water.

     For years ( or is it decades ? )   IIT  and  IIM  faculty  have  been  insulated from competition within the country;  and even hailed as demi-gods.  Perhaps, rightly for a variety of reasons which today evoke discussion(s) and sometimes stokes contentious debates.  How  many top ranking  students of IITs  pursue doctorate degrees in India or join as faculty here? –  a question posed by many  in different discussions.  Is joining  multinationals/moving abroad  a  ‘recherche’  while  joining as faculty or taking up a job here   ‘en  dernier  ressort’ ?  Faculty  from  small players today  exhibit  remarkable intellectual  prowess  in  National  and  International  Forum  with  ease  and  elan.  This has been possible mainly due to the advent of ‘Electronic  Technologies’  and  ‘Smart Partnering’  activities.  With adequate funds from the Government / other funding agencies   and  better  infrastructure promoting research,  their performance  and progress will see an upside. That will be sonse  for learning  initiatives  and an answer to  our  plaguesome malaise  worrying  the  academic  administrators  and  policymakers.

     With changing times one needs extreme degree of adaptation to the good  and  not-so-good of  every initiative.  Faculty,  Students,  Parents,  Administrators,  Support staff  included  with no stakeholder  remaining  excluded.

     ” Dieu  avec  nous  “


     Monday,   November  11,   2013   –    9.55 p.m   (IST)


     Tidbit   :      Years  teach  more  than  Books.   I  have  experienced it to the full.

Banks’ Powers and Capabilities on Test-bed (India centric) !

Need to cut

     Soon we will see a mushrooming growth of banks in India thanks to the proposal paving the way for New Banks ( approval likely in January 2014 )  and New branches by the existing players in this sector.  Banks are already buckling down to face the competition.  It is strategy time for them.  It is also time for a sneak peek at the challenges facing the banks and the path they need to tread wisely.  Here,  I lay a short map on the possible course to follow and take :

     Banks need to show profits while at the same time lending judiciously to growing sectors of economy to be able to stand on their own feet.  Defensive and Offensive combat actions call for a creative and aggressive set of strategies to encourage growth promoting the reform trajectory to move forward unhindered. 

     With the monetary ( and fiscal to a lesser degree) initiatives fairly and firmly entrenched in the system, banks today are facing the daunting task of lowering the lending rates in an effort to promote growth and investment.  A not so uncommon scenario  is the skepticism and reluctance of managers  to the lending initiative in general combined with a sense of  ‘aboulia’  in making the right choice of borrowers.  Compounding the task is their inability to unwind  the nasty  NPAs  in the woodshed.  It requires a bold and a newfangled approach to regain confidence in the present critical time and engage  aggressively in stepping up the efforts.

     For this to be realized effectively it is prudent to adopt a two-pronged approach as follows :  (a)  an aggressive promotion of Small & Medium Industries;  and  (b) a mild promotion of Big industries/sectors.  My logic for this is clear.  In the present circumstances of accelerated tech development and adoption  plus  the competitiveness due to the opening of more banks/branches,  the need to adapt for survival and growth/prosperity is paramount.

     A characteristic enabling them to be adept at this is their “responsiveness”.  Small and Medium organizations can adapt better to the prevailing credit situation nimbly. They can even trim their manpower with little conflict and tension.  They can also achieve growth in a relatively short period.  It is easier to grow from  1000  to  1100  ( an increase of 10%)  than from  1 crore  to  1.1 crore (again an increase of 10%);  which means for the big players to grow to the same size as small players, the numbers will have to be in crores.  The comparison is in absolute terms,  a simple arithmatic  for the discerning.

     Given the fast tech absorption-cum-training  opportunities and progress through selective support (available easily now through software packages etc.,)  small and medium organizations can even outpace others by a good margin.  Big players need not always be the smartest and strongest eternally.  With the impending stringent regulations and keen oversight,  banks have their tasks cut out clearly,  and hence need to judiciously exercise the above options with confidence.  The success possibility is plain commonsense and not empirical.  If, say, 7 or 8 out of 10 individuals buy a particular brand of car;  if 7 or 8 out of 10 individuals witness a particular movie;  if, say, 7 or 8 out of 10 parents admit their wards in a particular school;  if, say,  7 or 8 out of 10 individuals like a type of music  –  all within a strata of society,  then it becomes a NORM and becomes the right thing to do.  Extending this logic,  if, say,  7 or 8 out of 10 banks begin disbursing loans to a specific sector, then that will become the norm and others will follow suit.  This can simply boost the investment,  increase production and employment.  Stringent observation of credit worthiness and performance as yardsticks for allocation of funding shall not be sacrificed,  however.

     When times and rules of the game change drastically, as I foresee for the near future, ( with new banks opening )  it is imperative that all players, small or big,  stay in the game;  keep alert;  and adapt themselves to the new order.  ‘Cut your coat according to your cloth’ is the mantra for Banks. This will impact growth positively and contribute to our economy.

     There are some essential  requirements  to effect this strategy and I will explore them separately in due course.


     “Dieu avec nous”

     Sunday,  November 10, 2013  –    9.00  a.m.  (IST)


     Tidbits   :    “There is one thing about Life : Whether you are rich or poor, it’s always good to have plenty of money in the Bank.”

     Try this on your banker sometime :    Put 50 Rs or $  in the bank and make with drawls as below:

                                                                     Draw out   20,    Leaving   30

                                                                     Draw  out  15,    Leaving     15

                                                                     Draw  out     9.    Leaving    6

                                                                     Draw   out    6,    Leaving    0

                                                                     Total             50,    Total        51

A Piece of my Mind on Three Issues.

     What is clear to our mind  :   1.  Education is now a SERVICE sector activity;   Students are the  PURCHASERS;    and  Institutions/universities  are the  PROVIDERS.   2.   Technological,  Sociological,  Economical  and  Governmental  forces  influence  Education.   3.   Our  National  Growth  and  Competitiveness  is inextricably  tied to the attributes, character and excellence of  Higher Education in particular.

     I now want to piece together my thoughts succinctly and pithily  on three issues  that  evoke a lot of discussion among  educationists and trainers in recent times.

     1.  A common lament among the recruiters ( engaged in supply side talent for industry  )  is that a significantly large proportion of  graduates  coming from the portals of many institutions do not make even the pass grade.  Quality of training in institutions has taken a back seat.  Even the process of identifying the lacunae and remedying the situation is not being given a serious thought.  Hence the mismatch/gap between what is needed and what is available is appalling.  I just pen my first thoughts and reasons I visualize for this malady in education :  Could these be the possible causes ?

     (a)   Unchecked proliferation of institutions with ill-designed promotion of education in the garb of affording opportunities to virtually everyone;   (b)  Lack of oversight and extended leeway to the institutions without a thorough, due and proper assessment of the efficacy of them vis-a-vis the requirement;   (c)  Lack of Quality Faculty combined with a deliberate insouciance to SELECT  WHEN  RIGHT CANDIDATES  PROSPECT THEIR CHANCES & OFFER THEIR SERVICES  in full earnest and desire;   (d)  Suppression of  ‘Faculty Freedom to Engage in Newfangled areas’  out of deeply ingrained fear(s)  of possibly getting outsmarted, further spawning unhealthy competition;   (e)  Least emphasis on ‘Productivity, Quality & Reliability’ (PQR)  of pedagogic accomplishments/achievements leading to demoralization of even the well intended personnel;   (f)  System encouraging students to be trained  more to be “slaves of routine”  than to “demonstrate skills and competence.” ;   and   (g)  Failure/Inability to take students out into the ‘real world’  through a planned set of activities as appropriate to the discipline.

     These are just some thoughts (right or wrong – time will judge);  though not detailed and exhaustive.


     2.   Ranking of institutions by several  agencies periodically has been the norm in the last decade specially.  Some take pride  in achieving good rankings;  Some decide to strive hard to make the cut, the next time;  Some simply tend to ignore and keep the status quo remain firm;   Some discuss and discept elaborately and disregard the rankings that the parameters considered are not valid;  Some reject the rankings outright contemptuously.   Every hue and shade is visible to all and sundry.  Of particular concern to the educational administrators is the very low number of institutions proportionate to the available in the country that make or would make the Global 100/Global 200/ Global 500 and the like.  My thoughts run in an unconventional mode and pace :

     Just as Globalization is making the geographic boundaries of Nations vanish (in terms of trade, economy, exchange, and whatever ) ,  Education & Training in this new age obfuscates the distinction between institutions, fashioning/rendering the ranking  A SIMPLE MARKETING EXERCISE.

     Today we say  ‘the schoolmaster is abroad’  implying the education has spread far and wide.

     Highly creative and innovative products & services today originate from less well known places and institutions.  Flexitime,  Performance recognition,  Offering a healthy work environment,  in an attempt to motivate students and associates have contributed to the enhancement of skills and competency.  Rules of the game are changing dramatically in the field of Education & Training.  Every  institute is now boasting of innovative methods to take students out in to the ‘real world’ and the term universal(ity) is losing its sheen.  ‘Specificity’  is becoming the order of the day, be it in terms of disciplines,  courses,  approaches,  degrees,  or institutions.  And with it the parameters of evaluation are also increasing disproportionately making the very ranking a LESS IDEAL or  LESS PERFECT way of comparison/assessment.

     Shall we not go beyond ranking on a set of archaic (I do not mean to be harsh) elements and rather focus on  “Economic Social and Quantitative improvement of Society/Nation”  as a single yardstick in the process of evaluation of Educational Institutions ?


     3.  Human Relations (HR) is generally viewed as an industry need, position, and function.  And  HR  is  also considered to be a noiseless, invisible, flavorless task of taciturnity for decades earlier.  The key importance of  HR generally gets lost in the milieu of technology, production, marketing etc little realizing that HR imbibes the best from each one of these for its up gradation, and  confers the very functions of Tech, Production, Marketing their Status and Rank of importance that they envisage and enjoy.  The more the advances in technology, the more the value of HR.  Same is true for education & training too. Educational institutions should embark on creating special HR positions (now being handled by the administrators mostly) from the ground floor up.  And HR is transforming rapidly too.  This is how I  see :

     We know Ninjas strike and get out without being seen.  That is what HR has been doing for long. They should avoid operating  in “Stealthy Ninjas”.  They should also shed their diffidence  to get their ideas work and even  become popular  with employees/associates.  Nothing wrong if one wants to be popular by contributing constructively.  It should be hailed and rewarded.  HR should be  “leading the change”  and  “taking the risks”  –  a transformational responsibility in times of uncertainty specially.  HR  represents the entire people in the institution – the REAL ENGINE of DIFFERENTIATION.  This needs to be indoctrinated, formally and informally through every action.  Indoctrination,  Yes.  Each day that  HR stays  stealthy is another day  our people are hidden from peers/seniors/top brass;  and another day they are not seen as valuable.  Even  HR  heads  sadly fail to understand this reality and that drives them to do and react the way they are doing ( just plain, ornery, handling run of the mill tasks ) now.  They need to be  showy, noisy, even obtrusive without being offensive in order for them to assert their locus standi.

     We  need  HR  positions  specially  in Educational and Training Institutions  to deal with the varied and wide spectrum of customers as  Students,  Parents,  Faculty,  Staff,  Alumni, the community around, and the like.

     Hail the portals of the Institutions engaged in ‘Eradicator of Ignorance;  Booster of Self Confidence.”


     ” Dieu avec nous “


     Saturday,  November 9,  2013.     7.45 a.m.   (IST)



Tidbit : “Take care of Your Troops and train them well; All Jobs will get Done.” ( Leadership Mantra )