Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why the fuss about protectionism??

Who isn’t mean??, me, our politicians or the beggar round the corner on the street? Animals are born mean and always behave in a way to maximize gains for themselves. All of us are hypocrites and will veto anything that goes against our interest. Governments are accountable to and responsible for people and have to always act in a way beneficial to their citizens. All of us have a chameleon inside us that changes color as per the changes in the surroundings. When the going was good, it made more sense for the developed countries to encourage globalization, source cheap raw materials from around the world, export finished goods and utilize their own talent for more productive higher paying jobs. Developed countries happily obliged their farmers and offered huge subsidies while asking developing countries not to subsidize theirs. Today China & other low cost destinations are the hub of manufacturing, India the Mecca of IT. Developed countries especially the US of A are heavily dependent on third world countries to get their backend work done and also to maintain the competitiveness of their companies. But in 2008 the tide turned, Outsourcing has now become the dreaded word especially in developed country politics; ‘bailout’ became the word of the year in 2008. Being protectionist is now not a choice but a political & economic compulsion for these once proponents of globalization. Developed countries have to be protectionist. They have to be mean and are aptly justified in being so. Chindia has no right to protest these protectionist measures because we are selfish as well. Aren’t we ignoring environmentally sustainable standards in lieu of our rapid economic growth, don’t we alter our foreign policies as per our own interests? Back home wasn’t DMK selfish in its demand for ministerial berths? It’s very simple, all of us take decisions, formulate strategies keeping the current realities in mind and what will be the most selfish i.e. beneficial thing in the scenario. That’s what is happening right now. We have no right to protest any mean policies of any country in the world.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Slumdog Millionnaire: India’s Pride or Shame??

‘Slumdog Millionnaire’ a great Indian movie indeed by a non-indian director, an NRI playing the lead protagonist and a mostly non Indian backstage crew & technicians. The great film bagged 4 Golden Globe awards and occupied prime media space all over the world, especially in India. Indian media says that its a matter of great pride that an Indian (A R Rahman) has finally bagged the prestigious award and is in lead contention for the Oscars. The same fact also makes me proud, a pride that lasts for 2 seconds and ceases to exist beneath my skin.
Why are we so fascinated by external appreciation and applaud for our work? Why we always look up to outsiders to praise our work? Is this because of our perceived notion that people living on that side of the planet are superior to us? Why we attach so much importance to their opinion about our work? It feels good to be appreciated for one’s work and that goes a long way in propelling one to work harder and smarter and produce better results. But when we have the biggest movie watching junta back in our own courtyard ‘India’ than why we need outside appreciation for our work, appreciation from people who don’t understand our culture, our language. Such appreciation is great for technological innovations but for art...I seriously doubt that.
Although the SLUMDOG occupied breaking news status on news channels and made the front page news in all mainstream newspapers, I was surprised to find equally important news being delegated to small columns in far interior of the papers. The movie is great but why are we celebrating so much the fact that outsiders enjoyed the Indian poverty, the fact that outsiders celebrated the darkness that defines India and especially Mumbai. Why are we celebrating the slums that make up Mumbai, the financial and glamour capital of India, the so called next superpower? “Slumdog Millionaire” is a great movie which makes me feel ashamed, makes me realize the apathetic conditions prevalent not only in the interiors but right in the heart of India ‘Mumbai’. It makes me aware of the huge efforts needed to truly transform India into a global power. Unfortunately the underlying reality of this beautiful movie has got lost under the more glamorous reality ‘the reality that it won some outside award which goes as Golden Globe Awards. All of us the so called educated middle class enjoyed and appreciated the movie but grossly failed to understand the underlying message it conveys.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Is Alma-Mater a Modern Age Gentleman’s Only Identity??

Alma mater usually forms an important part of a person’s identity but in recent times it has become one’s only identity. Sure some colleges like Harvard and IITs back in India have produced great leaders more than any other institution but isn’t it the deeds & actions of a person that make him great eventually and not his alma mater?
Ivy League college pass outs refusing or reluctant to work under someone from a lower rank institution is not a new phenomenon. People holding one in high regards or simply dismissing one to be just another chap based on one’s alma mater is nothing new either. But in recent times, such polarization has started to reach alarming levels which is beginning to threaten our social fabric.
Students from Ivy League institutions today hesitate to work with colleagues from institutions not so Ivy as theirs. Students refuse to join companies that also visit lower rung colleges and offer the same profile there. Students pay least attention to speakers who have studied at an institution lower than theirs, no matter how big achiever the speaker is or irrespective of his / her experience.
Why do people from Ivy League institutions mention their alma mater’s name every now and than even 20 yrs after they have passed out? Shouldn’t their achievements be a more important part of their introduction rather than their alma mater? Why successful people from not so big colleges hesitate to mention their alma mater’s name while introducing themselves to an audience.
Are other forms of discrimination not enough, that now we the educated class have brought in this new discrimination? Sure getting into a prestigious institution a big achievement but is that the only piece of identity we are left with. Does being an Ivy League pass out make a criminal not a criminal and a normal institution pass out honest person not so honest? Just because of some reasons a successful person who didn’t pass out from the so-called top college bear the stigma throughout his life?
Sure the alma mater to which an individual belongs is important and plays an important role in shaping one’s personality and success in life, but the same has been stretched way too far. It has resulted in a new form of discrimination / polarization of the world. An individual’s alma mater is being given way too importance when public opinion is formed about the person deviating attention from other equally if not more qualified perspectives.
Alma mater is important and plays an important part in shaping one’s personality and values but It should not become the dominant force shaping public opinion about a person. It should not become a new factor in the polarization of our society.

Monday, December 29, 2008

B-school placements in the aftermath of the Terrorists attacks & the Financial Tragedy (Part II)

Not much has changed since part-I of this series was published. GoI is on the verge of announcing a second stimulus package, RBI is expected to further reduce key rates and oil has plummeted to record lows. All these factors together with the impending Obama stimulus package effect have created some but insignificant hope for the B-school students in India. Companies are revisiting their freezed hiring decisions and considering to go to selected campuses in order to acquire good talent at low prices. But this is clearly not sufficient.
Many top B-schools have their final placement week scheduled in mid January, only after which the clear effect of the current stimulus package on the total hiring plans of the industry will be visible.
Current Economy slowdown (I don’t call it a recession for India) has left everyone grumbling to gain the maximum possible at the cost of others. Companies regular at tier-II campuses have developed new found love for tier 1 B-schools whereas tier-1 regulars can be spotted at IIMs hunting for the very best in India. It’s an employer’s market and companies aren’t complaining. B-schools have been left at the mercy of the hiring companies with regards to slots and other modalities. B-schools on the other hand in order to achieve the majestic 100% placement figure coercing the regular companies to hire from their campus, at times even threatening to ban slots to these companies in future if they refuse to hire now.
In this circus, the students are suffering the most. Almost all B-schools students have huge education loans to repay and above all meet the never ending expectations of their dear ones. Top performers will definitely get through as there is always a demand for good talent but Its the back benchers who will find the going difficult.
B-schools have already begun to find ways to get rid of the back benchers from the placement process. High minimum CGPA requirements to be eligible for placements, unnecessary debarring of students from the placement process, wasteful job profiles at disgustingly low salaries etc are some of the tricks being resorted by B-schools to achieve the majestic placement figure. A prominent B-school in NCR has increased the minimum CGPA required for placements to such high levels that it effectively makes half the batch ineligible for placements. Not that the colleges are not trying to place these back benchers but just in case the placement efforts don’t bear fruit, these highly ranked B-schools have a reputation to protect.
Eventually, still three months are left for the current batch to pass out and hopefully by then most of the students will be placed. The current scenario reaffirms the age old Darwin theory “Only the fittest will survive, rest will perish”.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Human Resources CEO

Marketing in 1970’s, finance in 1990’s, But HR in 2000’s? Today media is flux with management surveys saying that the new breed of CEO’s will necessarily come from the HR department. Although the trend is clearly visible, but are we ready for the change? What is it that makes an HR guy the man-Friday for the top job? Let us look at a few reasons why an HR guy will be the chosen one in future.
In today’s increasingly complex world, a person can’t be a genius in everything. Even superman can’t be expected to match such high expectations. Resting on this reality, the modern CEO has a team of specialists to help him with different aspects of the job i.e. we have CFO, COO, CTO, CIO, CMO….the list just keeps getting longer. So what does a modern CEO actually do? The main job of the modern CEO is to keep his army of executives motivated and extract maximum productivity out of them. It is his responsibility to get the job done from various specialists, put the efforts together and deliver the final product. When Henry ford was asked by the US supreme court to step down from the chairmanship of Ford motors due to his lack of engineering expertise, his reply was that although he knew minuscule regarding the technicalities of building a car, he knew the ones who were experts at that and he was effective enough to get the work done from these people. This was the mantra behind Henry Ford’s success. The mantra can’t be truer than in Today’ world.
In the modern corporate world, tales galore of how successful CEOs like Jack Welch, Neville Isdell etc were first employee’s manager over anything else. They devoted the majority of their time in finding and nurturing the best talent and getting work done from them. This accomplished, the corporate results took care of themselves. So where does the argument leave us now? Although the trend has gained momentum, it is still premature to predict where the tide will turn. HR CEO’s will have to perform in their new role to prove their worthiness. HR will continue to be looked upon as an organizational support function till the new HR chief executive proves his mettle.
HR managers to get into the driver’s seat of their organization have to first equip themselves with critical non-HR skills in Finance, marketing etc. Clearly the trend is not visible here. HR managers have to prepare themselves before they can occupy the front seat.