Monday, November 28, 2016

Try Staycation This Season

Considering travelling to a cold place, an icy mountain, a tropical resort, an island in the middle of nowhere for a holiday? This season, try STAYCATION. What’s that you ask? Read on and find out.  
Staycation also referred to as Holistay is a portmanteau of "stay" and "holiday". Simply stated, it is a time when a family or an individual stays at home sleeping in their own homes, but do indulge in leisure activities within driving distance. So is this a new trend; no not exactly, staycation had become popular during the recession times when families were forced to forego their holidays because of the economic crisis. It became popular during 2007 – 2010 during the financial crisis and in the UK in 2009 as a weak pound made overseas holidays significantly more expensive. The trend is catching up again similarly like another new trend that now is catching up is going back to the roots, where hotels are not actually selling luxury to lure the guests; it’s the rustic charm, which is attracting guests.
What has led to a marginal rise in this segment? So, when an individual or family actually goes for a vacation, there is a lot of planning that is cumbersome to many and also there are issues like unpredictable exchange rates, visa regulations and political instability that contribute to reluctance in travelling abroad. A personal observation is also that for many the reason for taking a break is …RELAXATION. But, how many of us do actually achieve this. In some cases we are busier than our normal working days. This however doesn’t lessen their itchy feet, and has led to an increase in “staycations” – which are vacations nearer to home. It is also a great way of exploring domestic tourism.
There is a misconstruction among many that travel is only valuable if you travel to other countries to see new cultures and foreign lands, but this is not true domestic travel can be just as much of a special experience as international travel. Domestic travel can be an enlightening and rejuvenating experience for those who cannot afford overseas travel.

So, what can one do to maximize a Staycation:
·         Visit a local museums
·         Arrange for a beach/pool party
·         Go biking
·         Catch up on a movie
·         See a play
·         Go shopping: women would love this while men would detest
·         Catch up on sleep, hammock sound really relaxing
·         Read a book
·         Explore on a leisure activity
·         Go to an adventure park
·         Take a mini cruise
·         Participate in environment conservation activites
·         Read a book
·         Indulge in wellness( Spa, Tai-Chi)

The trick is to deviate from daily routines and truly make it a vacation. Do things that you would do during a vacation, don’t do the regular household chores. Remember that though you are at home…but you are on a vacation. 

Ms. Bindu Menon,
Sr. Faulty, INLEAD

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Global Citizen Festival: They came, they sang and they conquered!

When Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin sang, “I call it Magic, when I’m with you”, the crowd of 80,000 broke into rapturing applause. Were they feeling the ‘magic’? Oh yes they were! That was what the Global Citizen Festival in Mumbai was about. Absolute magic!

What is the Global Citizen Festival?

It’s an annual music festival established in 2012 and has been organizing music concerts in New York, USA. Mumbai happened to be one other such lucky destination for the first time in 2016. There is however a philanthropic motive behind this unique music festival, whose curator is Chris Martin himself. It is actually organized by Global poverty Project, which aims to eradicate poverty by 2030.

In 2016, the focus has been on raising funds for rehabilitation of refugees across the world. The other causes include funding of education, water and sanitation. This year since the campaigning and propaganda commenced for Global Citizen Festival, a total of 1.3 million actions have been conducted form advertising to digital marketing, to YouTube videos (by even Michelle Obama) to raise awareness about the Festival. This resulted in announcements to the tune of $1.9 billion that should benefit 199 million people worldwide. (

Celebration called Global Citizen Festival

In New York when the festival was organized on the 24th of September, 2016, about 60,000 people attended it.  The celestial presence of renowned Hollywood artists, rock stars and politicians helped keep the crowd galvanized enough to feel joyful about their contributions. There were electric performances by Demi Lovato, Rihanna, Coldplay, Major Lazer, Elle Goulding, Usher, Metallica and Kendrick Lamar. These performances were interspersed by Priyanka Chopra coming on stage and announcing her support for festival partner, Google’s campaign “Made with Code”, which encourages girls to study computer programming, and by Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Leader, USA who came on stage to promote the importance of voting, as US elections then were round the corner.

In Mumbai, on the 19th of November, 2016, the festival marked India’s presence on global citizen map, with a phenomenal turnout of little more than 80,000 people. The show marked the daylong event with performances by Farhan Akhtar, AR Rehman, Amitabh Bachchan, Sonakshi Sinha interspersed by appearances made by Shah Rukh Khan and East India Comedy who were talking about issues like open defacation. The highlight of the evening other than Coldplay’s performance was the video speech made by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who even quoted Nobel laureate, Bob Dylan. The best part about Global citizen Festival is that it’s streamed live, so you can enjoy while cuddled in front of your TV screens.

Celebrations that are cause related are the norm these days, and when the mission is eradication of one the biggest problems on this planet, that being poverty, then people shelling out Rs. 15,000 for a ticket, it all seems worth it!

Ms. Monica Mor
Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Monday, November 21, 2016


It is highly disheartening and disturbing to watch a news flash about a human who can sensibly think and act, however, defies not to do so, thus wilfully causing pain and suffering to those who can’t speak our language or think like us. Right now sitting in front of the idiot box, news of three people who mercilessly took charge to beat up a 4 year old stray dog came into light. They became so desensitized that they picked up a sharp edged weapon to pierce her eyes making her permanently blind, Was this type of inhuman treatment even required? Remembering the lines of Mahatma Gandhi “The greatness of a nation is judged by the way it treats its animals”, made my head stoop low in shame.

Over 24,000 cases of animal cruelty were filed in last three years by those who can’t stand like a mannequin while some are those who see, feel sorry for the animal but do not react over the issue which makes them equally accountable for the act of cruelty which is happening around them. People are sometimes unaware of the system of laws and regulations which are made for animals, but the truth to be told - the law made for conserving flora and fauna in India dates back to the 3rd century B.C. when King Ashoka banned killing and hunting of animals in his kingdom. For now the main laws/acts that prevail over this heinous crime are: The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which includes punishment of imprisonment and fine also. 

The Constitution of India declares the fundamental duties for every citizen to be compassionate towards all living creature. As an individual we should not only rely on NGO’s and other welfare organizations. One can monitor their areas and can also help in sterilizing process of stray dogs so they do not further increase their population. Stray dogs are scavengers so they rely on garbage which we human dump in our locality, sometimes it is harmful for them so one can feed them on their own, Adopting any stray dog might be a great idea else the least we can do to protect them is calling or transporting them to vets or animal welfare organizations when we hear or see animal abuse as many of the organization does not charge any fee for their service.  

We must understand that our origin was also from animals. Is it "HUMANS ABUSING ANIMALS OR ANIMALS ABUSING ANIMALS?” 

INLEADers @Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon

Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon is a 400 bedded multi-specialty hospital. The world-renowned hospital has around 55 specialty departments with a world class customer service to cater to many HNIs and foreign patients. INLEAD recently facilitated an Industry Visit to the hospital in order to provide its Jan’16 Batch Healthcare Administration students a deeper understanding about the working of a hospital and its various departments.

The visit gave a practical exposure to students, especially to those who haven’t worked in a hospital earlier. They were shown around all the different facilities in the hosoital like OPD, IPD, Emergency, Nuclear Medicine, Radiology, etc. The students also got an insight into the clock work activities that are performed to ensure smooth functioning of all facilities such that customers are not inconvenienced for even a small issue.

Post the campus tour, students were taken to the hospital auditorium where they had an interaction with the Medical Quality Head, HR Head and Talent and Development Head. Students got an insight into all these three major functions and were made aware about how opportunities are generated at Fortis. This will surely serve as a boon to students in the near future.

Monday, November 14, 2016

How some of our Currency become piece of paper overnight

The demonetization of INR 500 and INR 1000 Indian Currency Note has come as a surprise to everybody. Whatever change is going to happen, but, this is the first time in my life when I have sensed that a person who is living on his liabilities, honesty and morality is feeling safe in this country. “Honesty is the best policy”, the saying, in fact, is now making much sense for the Indians. But, this isn’t the only change, which made Narendra Modi’s mind to take such a huge step, there were a lot of factors that bound him to do this. So what was that? Why this decision came into effect so sudden? Is it for unaccounted money? If yes, then what kind of effect will be seen, if that black money will become white or get captured by the country’s central body institutions. So many questions are raised.
Despite possessing legal earnings, Indians (Mostly in rural areas) accumulate their makings either at their home or lend them to the nearby surroundings. Even in the 21st century, when the banking network has spread more or less in every small area, money lending, the oldest form of business, is still effective in many areas.
With these changes, people who have a lot of legally earned cash in their pocket or at home, will have to deposit it in the bank before the date proclaimed by the government (30-Dec-2016). As it is legally earned money, it will surely be deposited in the banks (with id proof) and this will let the banks house surplus amount.
Now, talking about black money basically found in large digits i.e. crore or more than it undoubtedly carry INR 500 and INR 1000 currency notes, acquired through unrecognized or illegal ways, has no option other than to be destroyed or to be deposited. But, for considering the second option, they have to disclose it as legal income and have to pay heavy tax on it. So, how they’ll make it possible with these legal boundaries.No matter, if they found a way to make their income legal or they just get frightened, they have to pull out all the money that is not under the account of Indian government. Later on, it will help to minimise the total currency circulation in the Indian economy. As the currency circulation will be reduced, the inflation rate will also become negative, it is known as deflation. Although, deflation leads to unemployment problem, it increases the internal value of money as well.

So, the bottom line is: The demonetization of INR 500 and INR 1000 currency notes is such a positive move for the Indian economy as well a good lesson to those who are playing with Indian taxation policy. 
Priyanka Sinha
Student, INLEAD

Black is Out & White is In

It don’t matter if you are black or white…” sang Michael Jackson in his eponymous song Black or White. India’s chant is diametrically opposite “It matters if its Black or White!”, and no it’s not a racist statement, it’s all about the money that many have realized has ceased to be legal tender since India’s 9/11 (9th of November).

At the stroke of midnight, 8th November 2016, the Prime Minister demonetised all Rs.500 and Rs.1000 currency notes, rendering them worthless paper. However to not irk the common man they have been provided with time to convert their currencies into Rs.100s or maybe the new Rs.500s or Rs.2000s.

The idea behind this Master stroke

Master stroke, that’s what it is! The idea behind all of this is to curb the black economy that has taken gargantuan proportions in India. A parallel black economy was the reason behind very few people filing tax returns in India. With a population of 121 odd crores, only about 3.9 crores file their IT returns. (Economic Times, dated 10.11.2016) Those are the ones the Government is targeting & those are the ones who will be adversely affected.

Money being deposited in different bank accounts will be monitored, and any large sum deposited would come under Income Tax net. There is no immunity scheme in place. There may be a spurt in foreign currency purchases, gold purchases; and the respective rates have risen due to speculative effect. People may turn religious and deposit their black money, of no use to them since they can’t declare it, in Dan Patras.

Drawbacks to this idea

There may be mushrooming of middlemen across India who for a 10% – 30% commission may offer to convert high denomination notes to smaller ones. The temples if benevolent enough, can convert the offered black money into smaller denominations. Money for temples is tax free, and they can go ahead and get their newly received cash donations converted in banks.

Micro Finance Institutions that deal largely in currencies while lending to or retrieving loans from farmers. They may have to hold off their work for a few days. The biggest setback was 1500 points fall in Sensex on the 9th of November. By 10th it had gone up by around 250 odd points.

Purchase of consumer goods & automobiles and fine dining will see a drop in the coming few days. Online shopping will see a decline, where Cash on Delivery is the most preferred mode of payment. But all of this will be short term, in the long run consumers and companies will get used to the new systems and mechanisms put in place by RBI.

What happens to the demonetized 500s & 1000s?

Well, if you have black money and cannot declare it or get it deposited in your bank account, you have to destroy them (don’t burn them, there’s enough pollution in the air already)! So what will RBI do with all the old notes?

They have to handle the truckloads of demonetized currency notes rather delicately. All money will be shredded minutely such that they cannot be reconstructed. They will then be passed through a humidifier to be converted into briquettes, which are then given to contractors who mostly use them for land filling. They may even use some briquettes for sale as souvenirs, or for artistic or commercial purposes, as is done by Federal Reserve in United States of America.

That’s the story of how Black has become White in India, and we will along with westerners be celebrating “Thanksgiving to our Govt”.

Monica Mor
Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Does Fox get the Apple in India?

Will Apple make iPhones in India? That's one question in the minds of many Indians whilst Apple Inc.’s CEO - Tim Cook seems reluctant to make a commitment yet.

He might be contemplating about calling off the contract with one of its largest manufacturing partners, Foxconn Technology Group; the contract was signed to look at the possibility of making the iPhone in India in the next two to three years, according to two people with knowledge on the matter.

Move to make devices cheaper 

Local manufacturing would allow Apple to bring products to market quicker besides making them cheaper for Indian consumers and turning the country into an export hub, while adding that this would require creating an elaborate and complex supply chain too.

On his first visit to the country in May 2016,  Cook announced the setting up of an App development unit in Bengaluru and opened a development centre for Apple Maps in Hyderabad, with an investment of $25 million. Apple wants to expand its wholly owned stores in India, which Cook sees as an opportunity to win Indian customers by setting new service standards.

Need to boost sales in India

Apple badly needs to boost sales in the world's fastest-growing smartphone market at a time US and China are slowing down.

In recent years, Cook has repeatedly spoken of India being a market where Apple sees great potential. "India is fast-growing, but our base there is smaller," Cook told the Washington Post in an interview last month. One of the biggest drawbacks that has held India back is the inefficient cellular infrastructure.

Sales boost of iPhones in India

iPhone sales in India were up over 50% in fiscal 2016 compared to the prior year. Cook said India could be as big a market as China and would be crucial for the smartphone maker.

In a market research, it was found that Apple shipped a record 2.5 million iPhones in India from October 2015 to September 2016, up by 56% in a year, according to an estimate.

Make in India push for Foxconn

Foxconn Technology is expected to start the manufacturing operations in Maharashtra by 2018.
In the month of August, Foxconn Technology signed a $5-billion deal with the Maharashtra government to set up manufacturing operations in the state.

Maharashtra government has allotted two plots of 1,500 acres each, one in Pune and the other near Mumbai, for the company to set up its plant.

The company would also be taking 1,000 engineers from India to Taiwan University for a bridge course, to enhance their skills, so India is expecting chances of growth of job opportunity too.

Yet to find 'customers', Foxconn's Maharashtra debut awaited

Maharashtra government's much touted USD 5 billion MoU with the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer and iPhone maker Foxconn is yet to materialize as the Taiwanese giant has "yet to find customers" to start its production unit, a top bureaucrat said today.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced that Foxconn will create direct employment for 50,000 people through the MoU.

Many challenges 

However, making phones locally would come with certain challenges. Compared with indigenous brands manufactured in India, Apple's plans would entail far higher investments, cutting edge technology required for making the high-end smartphones and a component ecosystem  that is currently far more developed in China.

While local brands operate at volumes running into millions, Apple would operate at multiple times that scale as it would look at catering to multiple countries from India, not just the local market.

With Apple's growing popularity in India, there's speculation that it may reduce the lag between launch and sales of the iPhone7 in India, having shortened it last year for the 6s model as well. What remains to be seen is how soon will this turn into a reality!

Ms.Shalu Solanki
Faculty - INLEAD

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sustainability in Hotels

What is that impacts the business, what is it required to be done by a hotel to the front runner, what is it that others are doing right and you are not able to identify it and lastly how can a hotel achieve a balance between the invested amount and returns. These are questions that are constantly challenging and will continue to do so. There has been a growing awareness among hoteliers and investors to figure issues that is impacting the sustainability of hotels.

Sustainability is crucial for any entrepreneur. It has been observed that guest remain loyal to brands that offer incredible experience, while the other hotels whose services are considered mediocre loose out in creating an impressive impression thereby not having bankable guest whom they can rely on for business. So let’s in a small way look at strategies that can be induced by hotels to be sustainable.

Being Available

The managers of the hotel are crucial to the success of the hotel. They have to be out there, reaching out to guests, interacting with them, finding about their stay, issues or any short comings. What usually happens is that the General Managers are so busy with mails, meetings and fortified wooden doors. To know the guest better, they have to be accessible. Guest love this, they appreciate the fact that the manager has taken out time. Of course they don’t want them to be hovering around, it’s reassuring for them that you are accessible. This is also reflected in social media travel and blogging sites where they leave positive comments and testimonials.

Market it Right

Individual hotels and hotel groups should be extremely competitive in their marketing efforts. The website definitely has to be eye catching but at the same time should use engaging headlines and illustrations on the landing page. Hotels should identify the target clientele right, and use that create content. Hotels use a lot of data analytics to get repeat guests.

Digital Marketing

In a survey conducted by Global Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI), guest priorities differ by region, culture and country. Location so far has been regarded globally as the primary factor that determines hotel choice, price and past experience comes next. It’s a digital age; hoteliers will have to design innovative strategies for online visibility, content engagement, ROI tracking and user experience. Mobile search seems to be the strength of digital marketing. The hotels website has to be optimized for mobile search and should be compatible to all mobile devices.

Being Disabled – Friendly

Most of the hotels today are inclined towards catering to the needs of the differently abled. India and Indian hospitality industry still has a long way to go before being completely inclusive, but there is a significant change in this direction. Hotels today have ramps; signage’s and rooms to accommodate the differently abled. This segment is not fully explored and remains untapped by the hospitality industry.

“Sustainability is increasingly seen as a prominent factor in hospitality decision-making, but is not yet fully embedded in business thinking”

Ms. Bindu Menon
Sr. Faculty, INLEAD 

The massive Tata fiasco

Jokes and headline floating around at Diwali eve: “Shortest Termination letter ever...TATA”; “Mistry ends, Mystery begins”. The net result is the erosion of Rs. 26,000 crores in market capitalization of the company. A fourteen month long intricate selection process, followed by a sudden termination does not bode well for a company that is “India Incorporated” for the rest of the world. And, as an executive rightly stated, “They are TATAs, not Ambanis who wash their dirty linen in public!”

Yet the linen did reach public dhobi-ghats and the mudslinging did start.

Once upon a time…

A company founded before independence soared high in the sky with Air India built on strong pillars of a steel giant, which soon went on to acquire an ailing British car manufacturing company and a Brazilian steel giant. The steel king or rather the Jewel in the company crown, decided to handover the company’s reins to a young and hardworking prince of real estate world, to fly it further. The dream seems to have crash landed and the Prince has lost his kingdom, to the erstwhile King of good times.

This story has the following characters: The Indian company – Tata Sons, the British company – Jaguar and Land Rover, The Brazilian giant – Corus, The new aviation companies – Air Asia and Vistara, The Prince – Cyrus Mistry and the Jewel – Ratan Tata.

Cyrus Mistry - head of Shapoorji Pallonji group which owns real estate construction company bearing the same name, Eureka Forbes, engineering goods, power and textile manufacturing companies - is a very reserved personality. His father Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry vacated the TATA Sons board for him and, his Pallonji Trust by virtue of its equity ownership is the third largest shareholders in the Tata Group. This made the selection of Cyrus Mistry, albeit after a rigorous process, a valid one to head Tata Sons.

What went wrong...

Cyrus Mistry was never a dynamic leader and found himself sidelined by the Tata Sons’ board many a time for his strategic decisions, which he now claims were to reduce the heavy debt of the group. The Tata Group allegedly has debts close to $18 billion, a number that is equivalent to many countries’ GDP. The write-off of such a huge amount has sent alarm bells ringing in PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) and in Stock Exchanges and in SEBI (Securities Exchange Board of India). The way Cyrus Mistry handled the Tata DoCoMo issue was also not to the liking of Ratan Tata. (more details on TataDoCoMo issue can be found amongst our previous blogs)

As another executive stated that “Cyrus Mistry is a construction leader, not a constructive one!” So in fact, there was much angst about the way he worked and about the way he conducted business. Question arises about whether Cyrus loses his leadership of other Tata Group companies as well or just Tata Steel. The Tata Group has kept its quiet for most of the issues, claiming that dragging issues into public is definitely not their style and against the very ethos of TATA values.

Things will be laid to rest and with the resignation of former TCS chief Ramadorai as chairman of govt’s skill development agencies, rumours are abound that he may head Tata Sons as its new chairman replacing Rata Tata, who himself is an interim chairman after the ouster of Cyrus Mistry. (HT Business, Nov 2, 2016)

The corporate saga continues and we see another one bite the dust! But it’s the Tatas we are talking about. They will rise from the ashes like phoenix.

- Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

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