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The Habit of Winning

Last week I read Prakash Iyer’s The Habit of Winning suggested by one of my friend. This book is stuffed with great inspirational stories and takeaways from heroes of different fields to help readers like me to be positive, focused and successful in different facet of life. Obviously people like me having interest in Sports like this book even more as it was easier to get associated with. Some quick lessons from the book are as follow:

  1. Don’t change your rabbit. It is important to prioritize our dreams and pursue one dream at a time. Pursuing multiple dreams together may lead us to nowhere. It is like identifying a rabbit from group of rabbits and focus only on that one. Even if it looks elusive, changing is the rabbit is not recommended , changing the tactics would help.
  2. If you think you can , you can. If you think you can’t, you are right. Roger Bannister was the first person in 1954 to run a mile in less than four minutes which was considered impossible for years. Doctors believed no human can achieve this milestone without significantly harming one’s body. Actually barrier which was considered to physiological was a mental one. And once Roger broke this 4-minute mental barrier, mental barriers in the mind of all runners were shattered. Bannister’s record lasted just 46 days.  Life is also about breaking mental barriers.
  3. Patience has its own reward, nothing of substance happens in a jiffy.  As long as we keep watering and fertilizing our dream, it will come to fruition, just like the Chinese Bamboo Tree. It may take weeks, months or even years, but eventually, the roots will take hold and Chinese bamboo tree will grow. And when it does, it will grow in remarkable ways.
  4. Expect more, get more. Expect Failure and get that too ! Expectation has the power of reality fitting in. This is indeed a lesson from teaming perspective. Expect good things from your team, family and friend and they will start delivering but it is important to share the positive expectations and don’t allow the fear of failure to come in between.
  5. Team Management: The author has further illustrate how the people should be managed. To fly kite higher, we need to pull it towards us and not push it. People are also like that.
  6. Bad News Quotient (BNQ):  Though we have heard IQ and EQ to be a major determinant of traits of leaders. He has further differentiated between good and greater leader by explaining that it also depends how ones deals with bad news – in terms of delivering it  and taking it in.

Last, but not the least most important lesson for me to learn from this book is : What we do in tough times decides what is going to happen with us next.  

 

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Posted by on July 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Simple Economics of Crude Oil Price Decline

 

Curde Oil has dominated news headlines as its prices plummeted in second half of 2014. It was beneficial to a segment and hindrance of growth of others. Lower crude prices hurts badly oil exploration and production companies which may cost jobs as they downsize their workforce. Share prices of Oil & Gas E&P companies went down by 38% during last 4 months. However beneficiaries who use this product and its derivatives. “What caused this steep decline ? ” is a bigger question. There are a couple of conspiracy theories floating in world market adding fuel to speculations. Few opine that the U.S. is trying to harm countries that rely heavily on oil exports. Other suggest this will make US’s shale oil economically ineffective and certain Oil exporting countries will continue to dominate.  Proponents of this theory also believe that this will lead to the end of the dollar’s dominance as the world’s reserve currency.

However this looks to be even simpler than it has been made to look. It is a simple case of excess supply meeting weaker demand. There is an oversupply of around 1.5 to 2 million barrels of oil per day in market. Tepid demand growth in India and China and very weak recovery in Europe has been key drivers of weak demand. However despite projecting weaker demand for 2015, both OPEC and US may add around 1 million barrels of oil per day and 0.75 millions of oil per day respectively in 2015. No one is sure if this is part of any strategy or conspiracy. But these numbers say that demand will be dominated by the supply in near future and hence pressure on crude oil price would continue.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Learnings from “The Winning Way”

Be it a  Corporate world or a sport, certain quotient go hand in hand. Below are some of the takeaways from Anita and Harsha Bhogle’s The Winning way that could help any individual or team in getting better.

1. Small Losses can help team getting better :  No one questions winning combinations in sport or winning team in corporate world. While the teams ride on momentum, weaknesses remain unexposed. Such team may not be always battle ready and may get surprise when sudden changes occur.  Therefore, when such team loses, they start introspecting and find things of improvements or weaknesses hidden. Improving on these things help them rise back to their position again.

2. Adverse circumstances,if handled well, bring efficiency in system: Adversity toughens people, makes them dug deep into resources. This helps team to understand their strength and limits. During such adverse times, firms should use time and little money to optimize processes and utilize resources  thereby, increasing efficiency in the best possible manner. Once economic cycle are back to its growing phase, bottom line of company grows even faster.

3. Integrating the “we” factor is most difficult in current era as members from diverse backgrounds meet with their baggage of biased thoughts. Culture of sacrificing “me” for “we”, which is pre-requisite for team to excel, is tough to build with such diverse team. It is difficult for such group to manage change in business or organization. Only a climate of camaraderie can reduce the perceived risk when changes take place in organization. The best solution for change management is to discuss it from all angles, form a joint decision and plan alternatives together. It is better to take time in planning rather then diving with a solution and changing it after every barrier.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Better regulate Media than mislead 125 Crore Indian

Basic expectation from Media, known to be 4th pillar of democracy in India, is its accountability in the interest of public. This means that they are expected to behave in certain manner that contribute to the public good.

In the race of earning money at individual level and developing faster at entity level, almost everything has been commercialized and so is Media. In last ten years, the way Media has panned out is utterly disappointing. One with some access to Information and little analytical skills to process this information could easily figure out how and which group of politicians , industrialists and few other influencers holds these Media houses.

The role of Media was to share information and leave viewers to form their opinion. But they changed their working model by sharing biased opinion formed on the basis of selected information. Politicians and Industrialists own or fund the media houses and there comes conflict of interests of these media houses. To survive or sustain in this competitive commercialized world, they help certain parties and business group with more than required air time for the favourable news and remain deterrent to show information negative to image of these parties and companies.

Media became a key channel for these entities to serve their interest and those who could not use it for some or other reasons were at loss. Such parties or business group, who could not get air time from these media, opened their own. And hence overall accountability of such media houses went on the toss.

We have not lost all the hope. There are also few media channels who are doing their job honestly. As an Indian, I expect our Judiciary to take some stringent action on this issue. I don’t support regulation of Media. But if this is only option, then let it be.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Collegium System in India

Collegium system is a system under which appointments and transfers of judges are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. It has no place in the Indian Constitution. 

As far as Constitution’s prescription regarding appointment of judges are concerned, Article 124 deals with the appointment of Supreme Court judges. It says the appointment should be made by the President after consultation with such judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court as the President may deem necessary. The CJI is to be consulted in all appointments, except his or her own. Article 217 deals with the appointment of High Court judges. It says a judge should be appointed by the President after consultation with the CJI and the Governor of the state. The Chief Justice of the High Court concerned too should be consulted.

Evolution of Collegium System

The collegium system has its genesis in a series of three judgments that is now clubbed together as the “Three Judges Cases”. The S P Gupta case (December 30, 1981) is called the “First Judges Case”. It declared that the “primacy” of the CJI’s recommendation to the President can be refused for “cogent reasons”. On October 6, 1993, came a nine-judge bench decision in the Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association vs Union of India case — the “Second Judges Case”. This was what ushered in the collegium system. The majority verdict written by Justice J S Verma said “justiciability” and “primacy” required that the CJI be given the “primal” role in such appointments. Besides, a judgment dated October 28, 1998, written by Justice S P Bharucha at the head of the nine-judge bench, used the opportunity to strongly reinforce the concept of “primacy” of the highest judiciary over the executive. This was the “Third Judges Case”.

President K R Narayanan’s issuance to dealt with the confusion

In 1998, President K R Narayanan issued a presidential reference to the Supreme Court as to what the term “consultation” really means in Articles 124, 217 and 222 (transfer of HC judges) of the Constitution. The question was if the term “consultation” requires consultation with a number of judges in forming the CJI’s opinion, or whether the sole opinion of the CJI constituted the meaning of the articles. In reply, the Supreme Court laid down nine guidelines for the functioning of the coram for appointments/transfers; this came to be the present form of the collegium 

1. The term “consultation” with the Chief Justice of India in Articles 124 (2), 217(1) and 222 (1) requires consultation with a plurality of judges in the formation of the opinion of the CJI. The sole, individual opinion of the CJI does not constitute consultation.

2. The CJI can only make a recommendation to appoint a judge of the Supreme Court and to transfer a Chief Justice or puisne judge of a High Court in consultation with the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. As far as the High Courts are concerned, the recommendation must be made in consultation with the two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.

3. Strong cogent reasons do not have to be recorded as justification for a departure from the order of seniority in respect of each senior judge who has been passed over. What has to be recorded is the “positive reason for the recommendation”.

4. The views of the judges consulted should be in writing and should be conveyed to the Government of India by the CJI along with his views to the extent set out in the body of this opinion.

5. The CJI is obliged to comply with the norms and the requirement of the consultation process in making his recommendations.

6. Recommendations by the CJI without [such compliance] are not binding upon the government.

7. The transfer of High Court judges is judicially reviewable only if the CJI took the decision without consulting the other four judges in the Supreme Court collegium, or if the views of the Chief Justices of both High Courts [involved in the transfer] are not obtained.

8. The CJI is not entitled to act solely in his individual capacity, without consultation with other judges of the Supreme Court, in respect of materials and information conveyed by the Government for non-appointment of a judge recommended for appointment.

9 The CJI can consult any of his colleagues on the appointment of a HC judge to the Supreme Court or transfer of a puisne judge. The consultation need not be limited to colleagues who have occupied the office of a judge or Chief Justice of that particular High Court .

Arguments against the collegium system

Experts point to systemic errors such as:

1. The administrative burden of appointing and transferring judges without a separate secretariat or intelligence-gathering mechanism dedicated to collection of and checking personal and professional backgrounds of prospective appointees;

2.  A closed-door affair without a formal and transparent system;

3. The limitation of the collegium’s field of choice to the senior-most judges from the High Court for appointments to the Supreme Court, overlooking several talented junior judges and advocates.

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Big Data : Objectives and Challenges

In a move from hindsight to foresight analytics and change in behavior from locking information to sharing, publishing and even monetizing data, business has taken a sharp turn and racing against each other in the implementation of Big Data. Indeed some are running in this rat race despite clarity of integration of their business and role of Big data.

Big data is a popular term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data, both structured and unstructured. As far back as 2001, Doug Laney (currently with Gartner) articulated the now mainstream definition of big data as the 3 Vs of big data: volume, velocity and variety.

Big data analytics is the process of examining large amounts of data of a variety of types to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations and other useful information. Such information can provide competitive advantages over rival organizations and result in business benefits, such as more effective marketing and increased revenue. The primary goal of big data analytics is to help companies make better business decisions by enabling data scientists and other users to analyze huge volumes of transaction data as well as other data sources that may be left untapped by conventional business intelligence (BI) programs. 

Potential pitfalls that can trip up organizations on big data analytics initiatives include a lack of internal analytics skills and the high cost of hiring experienced analytics professionals, plus challenges in integrating Hadoop systems and data warehouses although vendors are starting to offer software connectors between those technologies.

 

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Is Indian Govt’s taxation policy sufficient to combat increasing tobacco consumption?

Based on the hypothesis that raising tobacco taxes reduces cigarette consumption, policy makers in India are seen to increase taxes on cigarettes  in almost all the annual budgets. But evidence that tobacco taxes reduce adult smoking is relatively sparse in various studies done across the world. Lets look at the conclusion of some of the study and then analyze changes in Budget (2014-15).

Study by Kevin Callison, Robert Kaestner shows inelastic nature of demand of cigarattes. It illustrates that increases in cigarette taxes are associated with small decreases in cigarette consumption and that it will take sizable tax increases, on the order of 100%, to decrease adult smoking by as much as 5%. But this is not true for all the samples. The price elasticity of demand of cigarettes are found to be different with respect to age, race , income, availability do substitutes for the particular nation. Some of key studies, in this regards, conclude following:

i) Tobacco tax increases have their maximum impact on consumption, the real value of the increase must be sustained. While ad valorem taxes will increase with nominal prices, specific taxes will be eroded by inflation unless they are increased frequently and by sufficient
amounts to maintain their real value.

ii) Given the evidence on substitution among tobacco products, comparable increases in the taxes on all tobacco products are needed to maximize the health benefits of a tobacco tax hike.

iii) The impact of a tobacco tax increase on consumption depends on the magnitude of the price increase that results. It has been found that firms used the tax increase as a coordinating mechanism for an oligopolistic price increase.

iv) To the extent that organized and casual smuggling of tobacco products results from a tax increase, the effect on consumption may be reduced. While increased tax differentials do result in some tax evasion, these differences are not the only determinant of cigarette smuggling.

v ) Finally, earmarking tobacco taxes for tobacco control efforts, including education and prevention, media campaigns, cessation programs, and other public health efforts, as well as for crop diversification and other efforts to reduce the impact on tobacco growers can reduce some of the welfare losses associated with the tax increase and lead to larger reductions in tobacco use.

Now lets come back to Indian context. It is indeed noteworthy  that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has increased the specific excise duty on cigarettes in the range of 11 to 72 per cent and by 10 per cent on chewing tobacco in this budget.  Most people don’t smoke cigarettes at all and cigarette smokers only constitute 3% of total smokers. Most people either smoke beedis (40%) or use smokeless tobacco which is far cheaper. The overall sight all is very glaring. Bidis attract incredibly low tax — Rs.12 per 1,000 sticks and Rs.30 per 1,000 sticks for handmade and machine-made products respectively; nearly 98 per cent of the bidis smoked are handmade. That 52 to 70 per cent of bidis smoked in India have escaped even the meagre tax levied on them — either because the manufacturer produces less than two million sticks a year or due to non-compliance — only accentuates the lapse. A 2010 study has shown that a 10 per cent hike in bidi price could cut consumption by 9.2 per cent.

Therefore, following are few drawbacks which needs to addressed otherwise it is not easy to achieve intended objective of decreasing tobacco consumption and healthy nation.

i) The steep increase in the price of entry-level cigarettes without a concomitant increase in bidi prices may result in product substitution.

ii) Current taxation system needs to be eliminated as it is based on the length of the cigarette. Cigarettes of different lengths are treated as different products and attract varying specific duty.  The tax differential between the four tiers being more than substantial, there is a great possibility of smokers shifting from longer to shorter length cigarettes; this defeats the very purpose of increasing tax to cut consumption

iii) Indian government has failed to link the tax rates to an automatic “annual inflation-adjusted increase” to bring about a “real increase” in the price. In its absence, a majority of smokers would in course of time be able to afford the now expensive cigarettes.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized