Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Mistry of Sacking

The board of TATA Sons, on Monday, decided to sack Cyrus Mistry, who had been serving as the Chairman at India’s largest conglomerate, thereby sending the entire Indian business community into a state of shock. Ratan Tata himself would be the interim chairman till they find a suitable replacement for Mistry. Non-performance and undermining TATA group’s value system are being touted as possible reasons for the ouster; however, the real reason for Mistry’s sacking remains to be a mystery. While this unprecedented move could spark a battle between two of Mumbai’s oldest business families that share very close ties (the Mistrys own about a fifth of TATA Sons), here’s a look at some famous sackings of the world:

1. Walt Disney

At the mere age of 18, Walt Disney was fired from his first animation job at the Kansas City Star newspaper. His editor cited his “lack of imagination and good ideas” as the reason. Disney then acquired Laugh-O-Gram, an animation studio but drove it into bankruptcy. After moving to Hollywood with his brother, they started up the Disney Brothers’ Studio, and eventually created Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. As a film producer he received 22 Academy Awards from 59 nominations and went on to win more individual Oscars than anyone else.

2. Steve Jobs

Not many know that Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he cofounded in 1984. He was in his 30s and Apple had just announced the revolutionary “new” Macintosh with a mouse and first ever Graphical User Interface (GUI) on a commercially sold computer. However, at $2500, the computer was hard to sell. Jobs wanted to go ahead and spend more money on the Macintosh, but his board wanted to focus on the older but more successful Apple II. He was fired by the then CEO of Apple, John Sculley. By 1997 Apple was a sinking ship and was going through a huge financial crisis. Its competitor Microsoft had launched Windows 95 and was taking the tech world by storm. Apple needed a better operating system with modern features and flopped for one run by Steve Jobs’ new company called NeXT. Talks were initiated between the two companies and finally Apple acquired NeXT for 427 million dollars. Steve Jobs joined Apple under the title of an advisor and rest is history.

3. Thomas Edison

Edison always conducted experiments while working at Western Union. During one of his night shifts in in 1867, he was experimenting with batteries when he spilled some sulfuric acid that ate through the floor and onto his boss’ desk below. The next morning he was fired and went on to invent the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the ever-lasting, practical electric light bulb.

4. JK Rowling

Rowling worked as a secretary for the London office of Amnesty International, but dreamt of becoming a writer. She secretly wrote stories on her work computer and daydreamed about a teenage wizard named Harry Potter. Her employers finally got fed up, giving her the boot.  Getting fired helped kick-start her true ambitions and she wrote the first Harry Potter book shortly after getting canned. Her severance check helped support her over the next few years. Today, she's a multi-billionaire author, having penned one of the most successful book series of all time.

5. Louis van Gaal

Even the sports fraternity has not remained untouched by high profile canning. Louis van Gaal was sacked as the Chief of the Manchester United Football Club within 48 hours of his side winning the FA Cup, beating Crystal Palace 2-1. The club claimed that van Gaal was let go because ManU had played poorly that year, scoring only 49 league goals, failing to qualify for Champions League, and finishing fifth in the Premier League table.

Sumit Chakravarty
Faculty - INLEAD

Monday, October 24, 2016

How safe are our ATM services

Multiple blogs have been written on utility of tech in banking services. So much so, Citibank this year shut down 5% of its branches in India due to their under usage as a result of their customers’ access to home-bank ATMs and  Brown label ATMs and  usage of netbanking for making payments and fund transfers. ATMs serve as a huge support to all the working people who do not have time to visit their bank branches and withdraw money, so much so that an ATM machine and the hosting room are becoming the new payment gateways, which will further reduce the need to visit branches. We are in this day and age, witness to the phenomenon of machines taking over the work of humans. Yet we don’t mind it one bit, as it makes lives more convenient. More often than not we ignore the fallacies and risks associated with the same and choose not to mull over the safety of this phenomenon or how vulnerable it leaves us. Because that’s inconvenient! And soon enough a red flag has been raised with the recent Yes Bank ATMs’ software glitch which left 3.2 million card holders exposed to online fraud.

The scare spread like the bird flu and forced experts to analyse and ask the simple question: “How safe are our ATMs”? And as users, we realised the importance of the oft used business phrase ‘caveat emptor’. It’s the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods and service before the purchases are made.

Let’s understand as laymen what really happened with our ATM cards…

ATMs can be home-bank (managed by bank) or non Home-bank (or Brown label which is managed by third party). The software in the brown label ATMs are managed by service providers, which in this case was Hitachi Payment Services. The 90 affected ATMs in the present case connected to the infected server. So the hackers got information of all the people who used those ATMs, and cloned their cards. Since customers often use non home-bank ATMs the impact spread to 19 banks. The hack led to misuse of about Rs. 1.03 crores, where most of the cloned cards (about 641 in number) were used for transactions in China and USA, where OTP is not a mandate for card related transactions. (Hindustan Times, 24th Oct 2016)

While Hitachi claims no breach in service, the matter is under investigation. In fact, there are no stringent regulations for ATMs, debit and credit card services in RBI guidelines.

Solution to the hack…

No one knows. It can only be prevented, till the next smart hacker cracks the new code. Banks need to take over control of ATMs, which they outsource to third party as it may be too expensive to run ATM counters all over the country, even in places where they do not even have a bank branch. The outsourcing partners in the meanwhile need to be a lot more vigilant and ensure security control measures and reduce operational risks. As users of these cards, we need to keep changing our pin numbers frequently.

My memory will in this case fail me most of the time. As if remembering my iPhone pin wasn’t enough!

-Ms. Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Friday, October 21, 2016


The Nobel Peace Prize 2016 has been awarded to Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos for his resolute efforts to bring his country’s 50 year old civil war to an end. It was a war that left over 220,000 dead and over 6 million displaced. A laudable effort by no means!

So, this was the winner’s story in brief. Has anyone even bothered to find out who lost out in the race to 2016’s Nobel peace Prize? Who could have made it in the panels of history and yet did not? Who were these noble souls who did such great service that got them Peace Prize nominations?

This is the story of that loser, who in no way can be called that, simply because what they do is death defying. Their service to their nation and its citizens are unbelievable and selfless.

They are the WHITE HELMETS. Their motto inexplicably would be; “When the bombs rain down, we rush in to save”.

Their Story…

You would have few days back read in a blog by an INLEAD faculty about the plight of Syria, a great historic nation ravaged by civil strives and terrorism. The story begins from there. Syria is the most dangerous place on Earth, and on an average the country is ravaged by anywhere from 50 – 80 barrel bombs daily from ISIS or from the Russians or from President Assad’s troupes. While the ones who bomb feel they have done their bit in supporting their own selfish cause, the losers are inevitably the common citizens who get trapped under debris and perish. In a country where public services no longer function, Syrians had given up hope of seeing that rare light at the end of the tunnel. It was in these hours of despair a bunch of young Syrian men came together to help save people who get caught in debris. They are fully aware that more bombs may fall on the same site, yet pulling out people from under the rubble is what they do. They say it’s the call of Allah.

They train in Jordan and Turkey in areas like cutting through boulders and iron bars, fighting fire, handling babies trapped in unlikeliest of places under the debris, giving on the spot paramedic support, and so on. They are absolutely unfathomable in their energy to surge ahead under trying circumstances and in their passion to help the affected. They are young, have families who are equally vulnerable, do not know whether they will see the sunrise the next day, yet they remain undaunted. Even one life saved is a blessing they seek. Since the war began, White Helmets have saved close to 62,000 lives in Syria. But they have lost more than a hundred of their own brave soldiers. A small price to pay they say in a country where hopelessness abounds.

Finally they are recognized…

An Oscar nominated team from Hollywood decided to pay ode to them, and for once and for all shift the world’s focus away from ISIS and bombers to the White Helmets and their selfless acts of bravery and sacrifice. They have produced a documentary on White Helmets, which is currently streaming on Netflix and they had also been working really hard to get this group the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

The White Helmets may have lost the Nobel Peace Prize, but the world is a winner in having amongst it such brave sons of the soil.

- Ms. Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Monday, October 17, 2016

Syria –Then and Now


Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. Its capital is Damascus.

A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian ArabsGreeksArmeniansAssyriansKurdsCircassians, Mandeans and Turks.

In the early 2000s, Syria headed towards gradual economic liberalization to spur growth. Some of the structured reforms agenda were supported through IMF technical assistance, including strengthening banking supervisions and regulations, modernizing the monetary framework developing a government debt market, strengthening and streamlining revenue administration, and improving public financial management. While poverty and unemployment were on the rise, Syria was making progress towards achieving the UN millennium development goals.

In 2009 “Doing Business Indicators”, Syria ranked 137 out of 181 countries, performing poorly on access to financing, and registering poverty, while making progress.  The three main obstacles in Syria’s growth were corruption, inadequately educated workforce and poor power situation. At the same time, political reforms were limited, except those initiated by President Bashar Al Assad.
But this is when things started to go downhill; when Russia supported rebels started to clash with America supported President Assad’s forces. And soon enough ISIS made Syria its base for unleashing terror across the globe.

The 2011 uprising has evolved into a crippling and violent civil war with fierce fighting between the regime and various secular and Islamist opposition groups in different parts of the country. Syria has politically disintegrated into autonomous provinces and territories controlled by the central government, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and various rebel groups. The conflict has also attracted financial and military support from external powers, including Turkey, France, Saudi Arabia, US and Russia.

The population of Syria is estimated to have shrunk by at least 20 percent since March 2011. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 250,000 people have been killed and more than 800,000 have been injured as a result of the fighting. As of February 2016, UNHCR reports that about 4.7 million people have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbors—Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Almost 900,000 refugees had declared political asylum in the EU by December 2015. At the same time, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that there are 7.6 million internally displaced people. About 70% of population is without adequate basic needs of food, water and education. Services—such as retail, wholesale, transportation, construction, and banking—have contracted sharply on account of a collapse of the overall economy, particularly tourism, and with heighted security risks, destruction of roads, and economic fragmentation impeding trade and commerce. Banking has been further impacted by the economic sanctions.

A recent report by the charity group World Vision and the consultant group Frontier Economics estimated that the conflict has so far cost Syria $275 billion in lost growth opportunities — 150 times more than pre-war Syria's health budget. A World Bank report estimates the damage to the capital stock in Syria to be more than $70-80 billion. The situation has deteriorated greatly since then.

There can be only speculation by political and economic pundits as to when the light will be visible at the end of the dark and dreary tunnel for Syrians. Let’s pray that humanity eventually wins and the world is, sooner rather than later, rid of the malaises of rebellions and terrorism.

- Ms. Shalu Solanki, Faculty, INLEAD 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Great Indian E-commerce Festival & the Snapdeal saga

The Great Indian Festival ‘October 2016 – what a huge success it was! Flipkart clocked sales of 15.5 million units while Amazon clocked 15 million units. In value this converts to Rs. 3000 crores worth of sales for Flipkart in the 5-day Great Indian Festival from the 1st to the 6th of October, 2016. There are more sales lined up all the way till Diwali. While Flipkart focused on big ticket items, especially electronics, Amazon focused on acquiring new consumers. Amazon Prime whose subscription can be bought at Rs. 499 was a huge gainer during this time. The success has left both the e-commerce players heady & happy and they have drafted aggressive plans in terms of funds infusion and promotional expenditure.

A question for you reader at this point… Did you realize that I have only been talking about Amazon and Flipkart? Have you noticed the absence of ‘Snapdeal’ in the e-commerce conversations these days? Where is this third biggest player in the Indian online retailing landscape?

Let’s find out more about the missing  Snapdeal…

It was only a year ago when Kunal Bahl, CEO, Snapdeal had boasted that his company would overtake Flipkart in sales. The company has since suffered and now lags way behind its two main rivals Flipkart & Amazon. Clearly a lot went downhill, especially with their deep discount strategy of early 2015. They never really acquired regular customers, and only got the floating ones who wanted to enjoy the discounts. It proved to be rather untenable for Snapdeal. This was followed by their brand ambassador, Aamir Khan’s “intolerance” remark. While the company did not renew his contract as their brand ambassador, many people post remark-controversy uninstalled Snapdeal apps. Then again Amazon stole the e-commerce thunder with better quality, service delivery and response to customer issues. Statistically, more people were found to be downloading Amazon app than any other in the first quarter of 2016. As on March 2016, Flipkart’s market share in the e-commerce space is 37%, down from 2015’s 43%; Amazon’s market share is 24%, up from 2015’s 14%; while Snapdeal’s market share is 14% down from 2015’s 19%. (Economic Times, 6th October 2016)

Brand Rejuvenation

Will a brand makeover pump up the game for Snapdeal? Well, the CEO thinks so. About Rs. 200 crores will be spent all the way till Dec 2016 to promote Sanpdeal’s new look. In a brand rebuilding exercise, on Sept 10th the company unveiled its new logo and a new brand identity “Unbox Zindagi”. The company wants to focus on the moments that an e-commerce customer experiences. They could be any; from website browsing to making the purchase to receiving the package to opening the box. The branding team at Snapdeal realized that the moment when the customer opens the box is most magical.

This shift away from just low prices, faster delivery and sales, to appreciating the customer’s aspirations should hopefully rejuvenate the brand and help position it better in their minds. Snapdeal insists that the rebranding is working, despite mixed response to their new campaign. And with many new distribution centers in their kitty, the company has claimed to have regained its mojo, bit by bit. As evidence they claim to have clocked their highest single day sale ever on the 2nd of October, 2016, shipping 1.67 million products in just 16 hours. Their website traffic has also risen by 20% and their conversion rate is up by 40% as compared to previous year.

It seems the Unbox Zindagi moment is working!!

So, Let the sales begin and let’s see if Snapdeal jumps into the fast moving e-commerce bandwagon once again.

-Ms. Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

All’s Not Well at Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo – a name that was highly respected in the United States in the financial circles; A bank that has done immensely well for itself in the past one hundred and sixty odd years. This elite bank has however in the month of September got embroiled in a highly embarrassing scandal, wherein about 2 million bank and credit card accounts were opened without customer authorization to meet the impossibly high sales targets. These sales figures led to soaring stock prices, the profits from which were then pocketed by the CEO, John Stumpf. When the fraud was detected by USA’s regulatory agencies, John Stumpf went ahead and fired about 5,300 employees, which was almost 1% of Wells Fargo’s total workforce. The matter is now subjudice with hearings going on in the US house of Senate, and charges are being pressed against the CEO to resign and undergo criminal investigations.

Time travel to 1852...

In 1852 Henry Wells and William Fargo founded Wells Fargo and Co. to serve the western part of United States. Wells Fargo opened for business in the gold rush port of San Francisco. They catered to banking services including buying and selling of gold. Their hallmark was attention to detail, trust and loyalty to customers. The company went on to do very well and soon opened branches all across America. They would also do express delivery of money or drafts or gold via stagecoach (there lies the answer to a historically significant logo), railroad, steamship or via telegraph.

Their brand became a household name especially among the elite class. Soon after, they started delving in corporate responsibility and into responsible lending. A very important clientele was the armed forces, whereby servicemen could take home and vehicle loans at reasonable rates of interest and for a comfortable duration.

The controversy that led to the derailment of the stagecoach...

September 8, 2016 was when the various regulatory authorities in USA like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, fined the bank $185 million, alleging 2 million fraudulently opened bank and credit card accounts. Not only that, there are allegations of forced closure of delinquent vehicle loans of US marine corps and other servicemen, while they were away on duty. Their vehicles, post acquisition by Wells Fargo, were immediately auctioned to recover the due amount. There are rules against harassing armed forces officials in USA which were violated by Wells Fargo rather blatantly.

Then again there are questions on the organizational culture of the bank. There are stories of branch managers locking the exit doors to prevent their employees from leaving their respective workstations before completion of day’s work. Employee harassment has come up as one of the charges against the bank, a case under the Fair Labour Standards Act.

The chip on CEO, John Stumpf’s shoulder earned as a result of an extremely successful organization, seems like the biggest burden for him as of now. There are investigations against the bank from all fronts, be it customer, its employees or its concept of ‘responsible banking’. Things look rather torrid with FBI also commencing its investigations as well as class-action suits filed against the bank.

All is definitely not well with Wells Fargo! A lesson for all organisations that are ruthlessly ambitious and brutal in their delivery.

-Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Are Indian Newspapers losing their charm?

Reading newspapers or dailies, as we call them, has been considered to be one of the best habits humans have imbibed, ever since the learned civilization came into existence. From politics to sports, arts and lifestyle to entertainment, the power of news dailies is not unfathomed. My affair (sic) with newspapers started when I was barely eight. With every passing year, the bond seemed to get stronger and stronger.  I didn’t know back then, that it would hit a rocky path twenty years down the line.

The front page is the most important page of a newspaper. It is what passers-by will have chance to look at, and so it represents the showcase that might determine whether or not they will end up buying the newspaper. Many of us working professionals, thanks to our pacey routines, could possibly afford to read only the front page. Thus, the stories of the front page are carefully selected to catch the attention of a large number of potential readers. Everyday, newspaper editors meet and discuss to choose what they believe are the newsworthy stories of the day to constitute the next day’s front page.

However, the scenario has changed today. Most of the Indian dailies have started featuring full-page advertisements on the front page, some even to an extent of the first three pages, especially during the festive season. Blame it on the fierce competition, or the race for fetching sponsorship, the so called “critical” front page and its news have shifted to the third or the fourth, thereby leading to distaste for avid readers like myself.

With a readership base of over 250 million, India is the second largest print market in the world. However, this market is still under penetrated for a country with a population in excess of 1,200 million and highly fragmented with over 60,000 newspapers printed in 22 languages (Registrar of Newspapers of India). Advertising revenue continues to be the key growth driver behind the industry as declining readership and increasing competition have led the players to further reduce their cover prices. As result, this sector has been the most affected by the slowdown in advertising due owing to the recent downturn. Further, due to rising newsprint costs players were compelled to undertake multiple advertisement rate hikes during the first half of 2008, which on one hand improved per unit realizations from advertising, but on the other hand made the media an expensive proposition for most advertisers. (Source: Indian Readership Survey 2008)

What remains to be seen is whether these dailies continue to be caught up with their pro-commercial approach or shift back to preserving their original charm as a powerful instrument of the print media.

What do you think? Do share your views and inputs in the comments.

- Mr. Sumit Chakravarty, Faculty, INLEAD

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Google turns 18!

Why India is important for Google...

By 2020 India is expected to have 650 million internet users from the current 350 million. We are already the second largest purchaser of smartphones in the world, with about 220 million users till 2015. Over 20 mobile brands are now assembling their products in India with the hope that infrastructure will improve with better internet connectivity and superior performance of 3G and 4G networks pan India.

The data above seems very exciting for companies that are trying their best to capture a larger share of the internet savvy Indian. Google is one such player with multiple products and services in the form of Chrome for mobile phones, Google Assistant in Hindi, YouTube Go for faster browsing on 2G connections and Google station  to provide Wi-Fi access in large public spaces. These are just some of Google birthday announcements for that nation which shows maximum promise for the years to come.

Google was set up in 1997, and was the product of a new found friendship between Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University, USA. The domain was registered on September 15th 1997. The name “Google” is a derivative from the word Googol, a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 and followed by 100 zeros. This reflected the founders’ vision to organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.

In February 1999, Google moved out from its founders’ garage to its new office in Palo Alto, California.

The year 2000, when Google launched its most successful revenue generating service, AdWords, Google starts to grow by leaps and bounds. By 2001 when Google launched it Google images with a cache of 250 million images, it soon became a household name. There was no stopping this company when soon after it opened its first international office in Tokyo, Japan.

2004 was when Google introduced the world to social network via its platform called Orkut and in 2005 it set up the eponymous Google Maps, which by 2009’s addition of navigation has rendered us helpless and without which many of us cannot move around the city. With a slew of new products and services constantly coming out of its innovative labs Google became a powerhouse in the online hemisphere. They set up wonderful offices across the globe and came up with innovative HR policies, and by 2007 Google became the best company to work for in the entire world.

2013 was when Google pledged for a total clean energy commitment, and soon after launched their Google Loon, its balloon project for rural connectivity. Google hasn’t stopped even for a minute ever in its efforts to provide better and valuable services to its customers. The company is iconic and the functionality of its products is indefatigable.

So here’s to a rocking birthday with wishes for many more. We truly cannot imagine our lives without this brand, now especially when the brand is increasingly used as a verb! Let’s Google it, shall we?

Happy Birthday Google!!

- MsMonica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Six Sigma Workshop Sept’16

Mr. Mukesh Nauhar, Black Belt Champion from Indian Statistical institute, undertook a White Belt Six Sigma Workshop for INLEADers recently. During the workshop, he explained in great details the importance of 6 Sigma and shared examples of companies that have been using this quality tool for successful execution of their multiple projects. 

The session was very critical for students, especially since a lot of them have already been introduced to TQM and the various tools used. An introduction to 6 sigma opens their eyes to quality management.

The session commenced with Mr. Nauhar introducing students to the concept of total quality management. He then took them through various quality tools that are used in the industry like Lean Management, Just In Time & of course, Six Sigma.

During the workshop students got to know that, Six Sigma states that there cannot be more than 3.6 defects in a million opportunities. This implies that teams that want to incorporate this tool in their project execution strategy need to ensure that their team members are properly trained in statistics and have undertaken certain exams. This concept then brought Mr. Nauhar to talk about the various belts that a 6 sigma certified professional needs to have. The first being Green belt, followed by Black and then Master black.

He even showed many videos that highlighted the importance of 6 sigma and delved into greater details on the importance of the same.

The session wound up with a test that was taken by the students, and clearance of the same provides students with a White belt certification. 

Is WAR the answer?

It’s been over a week since the Indian Army Camp at Uri was attacked by Pakistani terrorists, and what has followed since is a situation of warmongerism across the country. There is tremendous amount of anger in India, specifically on social media; it possibly seems too easy for many to be simply sitting in the comfort of their living rooms, introspecting if the nation should go to war with Pakistan. The real standing question is: Could India and Pakistan really go to war?
After all, both countries have long been nuclear powers - a deterrent that encompasses the lives of a combined 1.4 billion people. And yet, hours after 18 were killed in an attack on an army base in Indian-administered Kashmir, the Director-General of Military operations for the Indian Army announced that the terrorists carried gear which had "Pakistani markings."

The allegation released a gush of fury on social media. "Pakistan is a terrorist state and it should be identified and isolated as such," tweeted Home Minister Rajnath Singh. This was followed by Bharatiya Janata Party's General Secretary  - Ram Madhav, who took to Facebook: "For one tooth, the complete jaw," he posted, implying a disparate retaliation.

On India's many TV news channels, a steady drum-beat calling for war gained momentum, reaching a crescendo of sorts in primetime. Arnab Goswami, the host of the country's most-watched English News Hour, expressed rage at Pakistan: "We need to cripple them, we need to bring them down on their knees." One of his guests, Retd. Gen. G.D. Bakshi went a step further: "We must be seen as inflicting punishment on Pakistan by non-terrorist means ... the nation needs a catharsis (cleansing)!"

The other side of the border has really taken this as a grave threat. The following excerpt from Washington Post’s news article on September 22 highlights the same:
“Military officials are calling it a routine exercise, but the thunderous spectacle of Pakistani fighter jets touching down on a major highway Wednesday and Thursday, with commercial flights suspended and traffic blocked for hours, has fueled public speculation that something much more ominous is afoot.

 The air exercise led to the closure of commercial airspace over several regions of the country and triggered a sudden drop in the nation’s stock market.”
Ground realities

It's easy to get carried away by the public rhetoric we're seeing. Uri attack is not the first deadly attack on Indian soil that New Delhi has accused Pakistan of having a hand in. While Indian officials continue to link those attacks to the Pakistan government, Islamabad has consistently denied any involvement. In each of these terror attacks, and others like them, there have been calls for a strong Indian response. According to an interview to CNN by the strategic affairs editor of Business Standard – Ajai Shukla, who is a former Indian Army Colonel, "When it makes decisions, the (Indian) government is guided by realities, not by a public outcry. They realize that if they attack Pakistan, it does not play out in India's favor. One also cannot ignore the fact that Pakistan has the 11th biggest army in the world. We're in a symmetrical relationship, the consequences of any form of attack are far worse than people realize."

As recent as last night, India has conducted surgical strikes along the LoC, which is being considered as a response for Uri attack. According to the Army, surgical strikes were based on specific intelligence input of terror groups ready to infiltrate into India and carry out terror attacks.“Significant casualties have been caused to terrorists and those trying to shield them. We don’t have a plan to further conduct such strikes. India has spoken to Pakistan,” DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said. 

- Mr. Sumit Chakravarty, Faculty, INLEAD

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hospitals- Go Green!

Gone are the days when hospital used to have a deadly atmosphere and an unpleasant odor being a pre-requisite of patient getting more ill during the course of treatment. With rapid development of technology, consumer awareness increasing to greater extent and hospitals taking a social responsibility of protecting environment and patient, Green Hospital concept came into being.

A green hospital is one that aims to be environmental friendly, utilizes renewable resources, reduces waste by implementing green practices and enhances patient well-being. The concept of a green hospital was perpetuated a few years back by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) through the release of their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for building construction. It works on the principle of the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. These hospitals are very innovative and reduce the emission of carbon to a large extent. Although the initial cost of construction for green hospitals are high, it has a long term effect in reducing energy cost by 20-40% and water saving upto 35-40%.

Hospital planning companies should plan and design hospitals in such a way that they maximize the utilization of day-light rather than artificial light. One of the critical factors to be considered is improving the quality of air by using an air sterilizer and certain species of plants, which absorb pollutants. Gardens and parks provide aesthetic beauty, increase patient delight and enhance their well-being thereby helping them feel better faster. Implementing various tools like lean management and Six Sigma would help in reducing waste.

Kohinoor Hospital, Mumbai is the first Platinum Rated Green Hospital in India. Many others have also come up to follow green concept in the past few years, such as Asian Healthcare, Matushri Monghiben Ramji Savla Hospital and Research Centre, Max Balaji Hospital, Fortis Hospital, Continental Hospitals Ltd, Lazarus Hospitals Ltd, Govt. Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College & Hospital, ESI Hospital, Medica Hospitals Pvt. Ltd.

As per Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), introducing green concepts in the healthcare facilities can help address National issues like infection, epidemics, handling of bio-medical waste, water efficiency, energy efficiency, reduction in fossil fuel use for commuting, consumer waste and in general conservation of natural resources. Most importantly, these concepts can enhance patients' health, recovery and well-being.

Hence, it can be rightly said, Green Hospitals are not future oriented but the only sustainable thing.

- Mr. Anurag Bora, Student, INLEAD 

Frothy Tales

Picture this… Buzzing club, people queuing up, huge steel casks, busy team members, pulsating music, animated conversations and the desire to quench that thirst…what are the options? Plenty is the answer, while H2O still remains the most popular thirst quencher. While an array of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic is available, beer continues to be the favorite among many.

There’s been a huge drift in how the good old bottles have transformed it from bottles to breweries and even microbreweries today. While there’s a wide variety of beer, it’s also found that if consumed in moderation, it has certain health benefits. After tea, beer is the second most popular beverage in the world. In a beer enthusiast’s expression it is also referred to as Adam’s new ale. Beer can be one of the most intricate and diverse drinks with a wide variety of flavors; it can taste like lemon or smoke, coffee or coconuts, banana or chilies. It can be earthy or acidic or it can be bitter or aromatic.

Indian Background

India’s association with beer goes back to the Vedas, which has a mention a drink similar to beer called as Sura, it also has a mention in Ramayana. Megasthenes, a Greek explorer has recorded usage of rice beer from his visit to India during the Maurya’s empire. Traditionally beer in India was prepared from rice or millet. India was introduced to European beer in the 18th Century. The first brewery in India was set up in Kasauli in 1830 by Edward Dyer; they produced beer by the brand ‘Lion’, which is still available. The brewery was bought over by H.G. Meakin and in 1967 was renamed as Mohan Meakin Breweries.

Current Scenario

It has expanded momentum during the last decade in India. It’s a lifestyle choice, which was considered frolicsome couple of years back. According to a report by NIIR project Consultancy Services titled India Beer Market – Industry Size, Share Trends, Analysis and Forecasts till 2017, suggest that though the IMFL dominates the alcohol industry, beer has been able to make its mark and its presence. A consumer nowadays looks at alternative from whisky and beer perfectly fit the bill. India is a huge market for beer and that explains the breweries springing up all over the country.

The Indian consumers today do not mind spending extra bucks for a good ambience and great beer, just as they would do for a cup of coffee. There are close to 300 establishments that sell imported beer and currently stand at 3-4 lakhs cases annually and are growing at 40 – 50% every year. In the last 18 months India has seen entry of around 35 brands. Half of the Indian beer market is controlled by UB group, SABMiller, which markets Fosters owns another 30%.

Keep watching this space for more, as I discuss more insights and upcoming trends from the brewery industry.

-Ms. Bindu Menon, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rise of the Non-Executive Chairman

“Historically boards operated as friendly clubs, with everyone in each other’s good book. Not anymore”, so says MK Sharma, Non-Executive Chairman of ICICI, who has previously been the vice-chairman of HUL…..Economic Times, 22nd September 2016

Who is a Non-Executive Chairman?

Every organization has a Board of Directors (BOD) that directs the affairs of an organization on behalf of the shareholders and hires the executive managers. The Board approves or rejects proposals from executive management. The entire Board selects a Chairman. Technically the Chairman supervises the CEO. This is primarily to facilitate better decision making, most of which has to be for the welfare of shareholders, or rather of their investment. Not much, however, was expected from the Chairman. The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) would present plans and proposals to the BOD, but was empowered enough to move ahead with all major and minor decisions.

The Non-Executive Chairman of the board, by virtue of the fact that he/she wasn’t occupying a management position in the company, had little to contribute. Things, however, started to change after the early 2000s’ corporate, and especially the Enron, fiasco that left companies bankrupt. The United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission thereby, increased the legal liability of Boards and that of Chairmen. The same is now increasingly being followed by companies across the globe.

The New-Look Chairman

R. Seshasayee, CEO, Infosys, says the role of Chairman (who is not a CEO) is changing from that of a non-playing captain to that of a coach.

And rightly so, especially by virtue of the fact that they have decades of experiences that does make them wiser and knowledgeable. Their role has increased from just being a guide to that of being a philosopher, an ethical and legal watchdog, a mentor as well as that of a captain providing critical leadership and direction to the Board. They are expected to manage conflicts of interest and deal with them constructively. They now look into the organization’s succession plan as also participate proactively in all short term and long term plans of the company.

In many ways, the new age chairman represents true shareholder interests. They question decisions of CEO and advise them when required. They are facilitators and keep negativity at bay. They ensure that the Boards’ views do not demoralize the executive, and strive to build a great partnership with the CEO.

So, instead of the choice of a Chairman being the result ofsome long lasting camaraderie with other Directors of the Board, companies now yearn for the true coach who does not always provide solutions but engages in discussions to arrive at the viable solution.

Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Bank of Baroda says, “Many companies are facing disruption. The environment is different from 5 years ago. As a result Boards can no longer be passive and be in the thrall of a CEO.”

A non-executive Chairman, with the increased respectability, thus becomes liable for all wrongdoings of the company concerned, and therefore needs to exercise absolute due diligence.
Companies across the world are hailing the arrival of a new leader and hopefully we will be witness to better corporate governance and increased social responsibilities.

- Ms. Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD 

Monday, September 19, 2016

INLEADers @ Ambience Mall, Gurgaon

INLEAD recently facilitated an Industry Visit for the International Business Management students of Jul’16 batch to Ambience Mall, NH8, Gurgaon, in order to provide them a greater understanding Organised Retail, Mall Management and Zoning of stores in a Mall.

The mall is spread over 13 lakh square feet of space, and is often known as the 1 Km Mall. Ambience is a large real estate group with diverse realty interest like luxury residence, commercial towers and organized retail.

The visit to Ambience Mall, Gurgaon commenced around 3:30 pm, when the students where first asked to get a feel of the mall by just loitering around. Around 3:45 pm they were taken around the mall by the Mall Manager who started his tour from Gate No.1, also known as Zara atrium. He then took them for a guided tour across all floors, explaining to them in great detail the layout of the mall and the zoning of stores. They were made aware of the popularity of Mango store and therefore the naming of the frontage around the store as Mango atrium. Thereafter they were guided across different floors, and explained the unique aspect in each floor and the major anchor stores that help bring footfalls into the Mall.

Post the two hour guided tour, students then congregated at one of the Mall management office’s conference room for an interaction with the GM, Mall Operations. He handled all queries students had regarding every aspect of the mall from store location, to security management to parking requirements. Overall, students came out well versed with the detailing that goes in mall operations and store locations.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

River Cauvery in the eye of storm

#CauveryCauldron #CauveryProtest are just a couple of hashtags trending since the 12th of September. Miscreants or maybe even political workers have stepped on to streets and have set the city on fire. Vandalism has always been a part of any political dialogue that comes up regarding Cauvery dispute. A river that would be honoured to know that two states are fighting over it, but completely ashamed when she knows how!!

So what’s the Cauvery dispute all about?

Historically the dispute dates back to the British era. In 1924 an agreement was reached when Karnataka, then known as the princely state of Mysore reached an agreement with Tamil Nadu, then known as the Madras Presidency. Mysore was permitted to build a dam at Kannambadi village to trap 44.8 thousand million cubic feet of water, and let the remaining flow into the neighbouring state. The agreement was valid for 50 years and was supposed to be revisited. However, the two states were unwilling to accept the agreement and soon after independence, they took the dispute to Supreme Court. Karnataka wanted changes in the clauses of agreement after 12 years of independence, but Tamil Nadu wanted the agreement to last till the allotted 50 years, i.e. till 1974.

In the 1970s, Cauvery Fact Finding Committee found that Tamil Nadu’s irrigated agrarian land proportion had increased from an area of 1,440, 000 acres to 2,580,000 acres, while that of Karnataka stood constant at 680,000 acres. The water demand for Tamil nadu especially for irrigation increased multifold, but Karnataka refused to part with more than allotted, else there would be shortage of drinking water for its people. Karnataka is India’s second most arid state after Rajasthan and therefore extremely dependent on monsoon. Every time monsoon fails in the state, which it did this year, there is water shortage and this dispute erupts like volcano.

The way out of this dispute

SC’s solution which it provided by ordering Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs was modified to 12,000 cusecs over 15 days was apparently unacceptable to Kannadigas who then went on a rampage plundering public property in Bengaluru on the 12th of September’16.

The solution to water shortage has to be dealt with scientifically and not in the unruly manner that has unfolded in the city of Bengaluru. Buses being burned in a depot, trucks with TN registration plates being vandalised, young boys being attacked for their biased FB posts; all this is manifestation of a society going intolerant. Of course violence by miscreants can be controlled by the police force, but it wasn’t visible, and therefore what’s apparent is the political link to hooliganism. However, all of this remains a speculation unless politicians come together to find a rational solution.

Until then this dispute will fester like an old wound whenever one state is ordered to release water and the other one demands more so.

- Ms. Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The festival of Eid-al-Adha (Bakra-Eid)

Eid-al-Adha also called the “Feast of sacrifice” is celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year. In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid-al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The word ‘Eid’ is found in al-ma’ida, the fifth sura of the Quran meaning “Solemn Festival”.   On this day All Muslim families, friends even the enemies come together & celebrate. They make especial lunch and late breakfast. They wear neat and clean clothes & celebrate Eid-al-Adha by giving gifts to each other as a token of love. They help the poor by giving money, food, sweetmeats and clothes in the name of zakath.     

The story of Ibrahim’s sacrifice

There was a man named Ibrahim known for deep faith in God and God also had immense faith in him. Ibrahim and his wife Sarah did not have any children. So, god promised to both of them that he would soon bless them with a child. After many years when Ibrahim was 100 years old and his wife almost 90, God fulfilled his promise and Sarah bore a son in her old age, at the set time God had told them. Ibrahim named his son, Isaac.

After many years, God tested Ibrahim (Abraham) by asking him to go to the land of Moriah; and kill his son for an offering upon one of the mountains. Subsequent day, Ibrahim woke up early in the morning, loaded his donkey, and took two of his two young men with his son Isaac and set out for the place God had told him about. His wife, Sarah had no idea about it. After three days, Ibrahim came upon the place. He asked both servants to stay with the donkey, and proceeded with his son to the sacred place.

When they reached the place, Ibrahim built an altar and arranged all the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, then took a knife to kill his son. At that very moment angel Jibra’il (Gabriel) of Lord called out to him from heaven and asked Ibrahim to not kill his son. They believed then that his faith in God was insurmountable. Ibrahim then looked around and in a bush saw a ram (Sheep). He then took the ram and sacrificed it as an offering instead of his only son.  The meat of ram was then divided into three parts, the family retained one third of the share, another third part was given to relatives, friends and neighbors, and the remaining third was given to the poor and needy.  

Eid celebrations

Muslims have thus been celebrating Eid all over the world since the time of Ibrahim’s act of sacrifice. They too on this day sacrifice ram, lamb, goat, sheep, cow, buffalo or camel just like Ibrahim did. They respect this pious day when Ibrahim (Abraham) was willing to sacrifice his only son, as an act of submission to Lord’s command.

Mr. Ravi kanth
Student, INBM

Jul’16 batch, INLEAD    

FICCI - HEAL Conference 2016

Indian healthcare sector is estimated to reach $280 bn by 2020. However, unprecedented demand due to demographic changes and disease patterns calls for a complete re-engineering of India's healthcare. The FICCI HEAL conference aimed to shift focus to re-engineering India’s Healthcare and also focus on innovation. The conference provides a platform for industry members to come together and deliberate on emerging trends and strategies. The ultimate goal is to move closer to provision of universal healthcare.

In order to keep our Healthcare Administration students abreast with the changing healthcare scenario of the country, INLEAD arranged for them to be a part of the FICCI HEAL conference 2016. The two day conference was extremely enlightening for students as they got to listen to a large number of business heads in the Healthcare sector.

The conference commenced with an opening session by Ms. Shobha Mishra Ghosh (Sr. Director, FICCI) which was followed by other members of FICCI.

Mr. J P Nadda(Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare) was the keynote speaker and he talked about giving importance to Healthcare system rather than Hospital care System and also National Indicators should successfully address both Communicable and Non-Communicable diseases.

Directors from Eminent Corporate hospitals like Max, Apollo, Fortis, Columbia Asia, P.D. Hinduja and other delegate members (Prof. Stephen D. Sisson, Ms. Sasa Bozic, Mr. Matthew Eliot, Dr. Peter Bauer) were present and panel discussions were conducted on important and emerging issues of Indian Healthcare.

‘Triple Aim or a Triple Threat’ by Prof.Stephen D.Sisson talked about increased Patient Satisfaction and Outcome with decrease in cost of healthcare. This was followed by a talk on Organ Donation by Dr.(Col)Avnish K.Seth) which  was a real eye-opener about the statistics of number of donors required in India.

Panel discussions were focused on important topics like re-engineering Indian Healthcare, Emerging Power of the Healthcare Consumer, Human Resources in Healthcare – Challenges and Solutions, Emerging Financing Models in Indian Healthcare, Technologies driving new models in Healthcare , unlocking India’s potential as the Emerging Hub for Healthcare Start-ups and Role of Innovations in Healthcare.

Towards the end of the two-day conference, INLEADers came back with truckloads of knowledge and a refreshed enthusiasm to do something concrete and meaningful in their field. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

2016 Paralympics: Spirit in Motion

The Paralympic Games, a major international multi-sport event, governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), involves athletes with a range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power (e.g. paraplegia and quadriplegiamuscular dystrophypost-polio syndromespina bifida), impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency (e.g. amputation or dysmelia), leg length difference, short staturehypertoniaataxiaathetosisvision impairment and intellectual impairment. The Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, start in 1988 as Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, are held almost immediately following the respective Olympic Games every four years.

This gaming event that started as a small gathering of British World War II veterans has grown to become one of the largest international sporting events by the early 21st century. Paralympians strive for equal treatment with non-disabled Olympic athletes, but there is a large funding gap between Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Today, the Seventh day of September 2016, marks the commencement of the 15th Summer Paralympic Games, to be held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which will conclude on 18th September 2016. These games will host over four thousand athletes from 160 countries for over 528 events during the course of 11 days and will yield 225 medals for women, 265 for men and 38 mixed medals. Some of the games are:

After cheering for the 2016 Olympics, it’s time to cheer for the Paralympics! We can catch all the action on Doordarshan!

- Mr. Sumit Chakravarty, Faculty, INLEAD 

Monday, September 5, 2016

The significance of G-20 Summit

G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation and aims towards global economic governance reform. It was initiated in 1999 with the coming together of 20 nations and economic powerhouses. It includes the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, , the United States and the European Union. Often whenever the Summit is hosted, invitees also include guest countries, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD).

Till 2008, when the global economic crisis had set in, G 20 members would just discuss about world economic development and international financial & monetary policies. Since 2008, when the first summit was hosted in the USA, discussions have veered around more reformative and proactive international economic policies.

The Summit this year was inaugurated on the 4th of September 2016 with ample fanfare along with spectacular fireworks and cultural performances, the grandiose that’s associated with China, was in full display. It’s a two day summit and culminated today on the 5th of September. 

The Summit this year

This is the 11th Summit which is being hosted in Hangzhou, China under the leadership of Xi Jinping. China has made “Trade” the theme of this year’s summit. World Trade Organisation is predicting this year’s global trade growth to be a very sluggish 2.8%, the fifth consecutive year with rate below 3%. Ironically, while China is the host, there are ample noises against the host for a majorly bloated steel industry leading to over production and for inundating the world market with low-cost steel, thereby adversely affecting production capacities of other countries.

India’s presence at the G20

India’s priority this year is to work towards Trade Facilitation Agreement for Services as also to be the voice of developing nations who need to be provided with level playing field. Separately PM Modi has had individual meetings with heads of almost all nations till now, including UK PM Theresa May, Saudi’s Deputy Crown Prince and French President Francois Hollande.

In addition PM Modi has been busy building international opinion on anti-terrorism measures as well as on Pakistan’s increased role in acts of terrorism. He even brought up the controversial China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would be passing through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Terrorism was the central theme in his bilateral discussions with Chinese President Xi and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull.

What do Indian’s expect from this Summit?

With trade as the theme and PM Modi focusing more on terror acts in his discussions, our hopes get substantially limited when it comes to fruitful discussions. A constant harping against Pakistan at every forum, I believe, diminishes our status as the fastest growing economy. Trade protectionism & dumping of commodities is a big area of concern, and India needs to proactively participate in such discussions, even if services tend to remain our largest component of export basket. The session will definitely be the harbinger for many productive trade related discussions and we have to be in the 
forefront to be able to benefit, however minuscule.

Till another year and another Summit…

- Ms. Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

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