30 September 2012

Sunday Reads - India Special Edition

Walk through the Amul Cartoon Factory in Wall Street Journal's interesting piece

The Economist
has a cover story on India, claiming that the country is in search of a dream. Also watch this video story. 

In his Foreign Policy piece titled India, Meet the Icarus Peter Passell warns that "why no one should be surprised that the emerging economic superpower is getting cut back to size". 

Meanwhile, the Times of India says that India is lending Mayawati and ND Tiwari to Afghanistan. The story comes with a footnote: This piece bears no connection to events and characters in real life.
Former UP chief minister Mayawati, who bears a striking resemblance to some strange statues found all over the state, is in the news again. The central government has decided to loan Behenji to Afghanistan to help the state rebuild statues destroyed in the war. 
When asked why she didn't want to go, the former CM is said to have rued the lack of money-making opportunities in the region as well as a shortage of cash garlands. 
Read the complete story here.

29 September 2012

Things You Should Know - Episode IX

  • Facebook was originally founded as 'thefacebook.com'. Before the homepage was redesigned in 2007, FB's homepage featured Al Pacino's face, hidden behind 1s and 0s (ONEs and ZEROs), the basis of binary code.
  • Recently I found this about the Virgin Group: In an interview, the flamboyant founder Richard Branson revealed that when he started a business to sell music records by (postal) mail, one of the saleswomen proposed a name for the new business: "What about 'Virgin'? We are complete virgins at business."
  • An Open Collar worker is one who works from home, through the medium of the Internet.
  • Only Vimal is a brand owned by Reliance Industries. Dhirajlal Heerachand Ambani (yes, that's the full name of Dhirubhai Ambani!) named the business after the name of his nephew - his elder brother's son. 
  • The original copy of the 7X formula (seven unknown ingredients) for Coca-Cola is stored in a safe vault in a branch of the SunTrust Bank in Atlanta, Georgia.

27 September 2012

Mid-Week Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

Here's my dose of interesting reads for the rest of the week.

  • When getting rich is not glorious. (Analects blog; Economist
  • China’s about to find out how hard it is run an aircraft carrier. (Foreign Policy)
  • Daughters of the brothel. (AlJazeera) Do not forget to watch the video! 
  • Britishisms and the Britishisation of American English. (BBC)

Today is Google's 14th birthday; check the fun stuff below.

23 September 2012

Sunday Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

Presenting four great reads, with three weekend bonus reads!

  • Siddharth Varadarajan on the UPA's reforms binge: A risky strategy born of panic. (The Hindu)
  • The China-Japan tussle over the Diaoyus / Senkakus Islands: Can it lead to war? (Economist)
  • What the mega-rich do for America. (Newsweek)

Weekend Bonus Reads

Check out these great images from the submissions to the National Geographic photo contest 2012.

20 September 2012

Mid-Week Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

We use the Internet like its a piece of furniture; in fact, without access to the Internet, you could not be reading this web page. Is the Internet just a set of protocols? Journalist Andrew Blum demystifies the idea of the Internet.

  • Paul Volcker on greedy bankers and more. (Newsweek
  • World hunger: The problem left behind. (NYT)
  • Yashwant Sinha on why the media pundits are getting it wrong on reforms and politics. (Economic Times)

17 September 2012

The abuse of the C word

There is one 'C' word that is being tossed around like small boats in strong winds: Courage. Every small thing that people do is being marketed as being a decision of courage.

Take a look at what the Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh said after his beleaguered coalition government announced some major economic decisions on the FDI front. Dr Singh asserted that it would take “courage and some risks” to break the policy logjam while strongly arguing in favour of higher FDI and FII inflows. Justifying the economic need for the hike in diesel price, he pointed out that rational energy pricing was critical especially when “our energy prices are out of line with world prices.”

I wonder where Dr Singh’s courage was all these years when the economy was floundering. If the UPA government (read Sonia Gandhi and Dr Singh) took risks today, in making these major FDI decisions, why did they rollback the same decision on FDI in multi-brand retail last year? 

Where was their courage then?

Can they be deemed cowards because Mamta Bannerjee and her ilk threatened to withdraw support and pull out from the coalition and hence on risk of losing her support, they rolled back such major decisions?

The Congress and its coalition partners should remember that they were elected to govern the country and take it on the road to prosperity through good governance. Good governance is what is sorely lacking today, especially after political expediency and fears of survival have become the guiding lights of the UPA government. 

Dr Singh clearly forgot that the policy logjam was the result of his government's dithering on major economic issues. India's economic growth has slowed down from 9% to about 5%, less a result of external forces (like eurozone crisis) and more a consequence of lack of effective governance.

Preventing corruption and punishing the corrupt, even if they are your colleagues, Dr Singh, requires courage. 

In fact, another famous person also used the ‘courage’ word on the same day, albeit in a different sense; Arjun Rampal cheekily remarked that “[It] takes so much courage to get on the ramp in a bikini. [...] I have been in the industry for 15 years now, but haven’t still mustered the courage to don a bikini.”

We would not miss anything even if Arjun Rampal does not wear a bikini; but we, as a nation, stand to lose much if Dr Singh and his government fails to govern efficiently. 

So much for Dr Singh’s courage! 

16 September 2012

Sunday Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

Apple's iPhone 5 was launched last week. Here is a Reuters graphic comparing the iPhone 5 with its four major rivals, including Samsung Galaxy III and Nokia Lumia 920.

  • Syria: The 800-year history lesson. (BBC
  • Putin's God Squad: After years of repression under Communist rule, the Orthodox Church is back at the heart of Russian politics. (Newsweek
  • SEALs’ Cover Story if Bin Laden Raid Went Bad: Downed Drone (Wired)
  • Cairo's many shades of protests: what they reveal about how the new Egypt operates. (TIME)

13 September 2012

Mid-Week Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

Apple's much-awaited iPhone 5 was launched yesterday. The Economist has an infographic on the impact of the iPhone on the global mobile market. 

  • Why Apple has become boring. (BBC) Also read Five out of ten. (The Economist
  • Libya attack brings challenges for America. (NYT)
  • Do you need to be a jerk to be a successful entrepreneur? (CEO)

12 September 2012

Anatomy of a CEO

It is the dream of every MBA (and MBA aspirant) to become the CEO of a leading corporate. Often, in their b-school interviews, aspirants are asked questions like, "what are the qualities of a manager," or /and "what makes for a successful leader". 

While this is not the space for discussion on such issues, I found this interesting infographic at ceo.com that lends some perspective on what makes a CEO tick.

10 September 2012

Underemployment - A Rising Global Concern

Every year, thousands of Indian students go abroad to pursue higher studies. Many of these students borrow lakhs of rupees to fund their career dreams. Unfortunately, given the worsening job market scenarios in much of the developed world, such dreams are fast turning into nightmares. Underemployment and unemployment are increasingly becoming harsh realities.

The situation gets worse when Indian students, upon not finding any lucrative work abroad, return home. In most cases, such students take up whatever work comes their way, i.e., a case of underemployment. I think there are a few reasons behind this: payment of installments toward loan, social and peer pressure, and fear of joblessness.

Underemployment leads to an inconvenient and low profile job and hence, low pay. Such pay is barely sufficient to cover loan installments (as the study loan EMIs run into thousands of rupees); payment of such large installments not only piles huge burden on the financial front but also saps morale. 

In fact, underemployment is a major issue not just in India but also around the world. Says Reuters: “Around the globe, young college graduates are unable to find job in the fields they studied. Instead, many are eking out a living in the service industry. Reuters photographers captured images of this “jobless generation.” 

To find out how much it would cost to study for an MBA at a leading global school, check out my Datagraphic on the World's Best MBA Colleges.

09 September 2012

Sunday Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

The Best of Reads Series is restarting after a six week break.

  • Why one Indian mother gave away her daughters. (BBC)
  • Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits. (NYT)
  • I often have to cut into the brain. (Granta)

05 September 2012

Global Debt Clock is ticking

Debt is a major problem afflicting almost all major economies. It arises when a country's government runs up expenditure which is greater than its revenues; the difference is called deficit. 

To fund this deficit, the country has to borrow, either from internal sources or from external bodies (like foreign banks). This borrowing is called debt

(Read The Explainer: The eurozone Debt Crisis)

So, what is the size of total debt of different nations, especially India? The Economist has an interactive graphic on government debt. 

03 September 2012

What's the difference between UK & Great Britain?

On numerous occasions, I have been asked the question in the infographic, 'what is the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England'? The source for the infographic is listed below it. 
The difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England

01 September 2012

Things You Should Know - Episode VIII

This is my first blog post after more than a month! I was away doing nothing and more!

In the past, I used to run a series titled '10 Things You Should Know'. I am resuming the series with this entry, albeit with an undecided number of items; however, it will continue to be labelled '10 Things'.

  • Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone operator by revenue, was founded as Racal Communications. Vodafone was chosen to stand for voice and data services carried over phone (phonetically 'fone').
  • Cisco Systems takes its name from the name of the city of San Francisco. The logo of the company is the digital representation of the Golden Gate bridge, located in San Francisco.
  • Ratan Tata holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture with Structural Engineering from the prestigious Cornell University (1962). In 1974-75, he pursued the Advanced Management Program (AMP) from the Harvard Business School. He is a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award.
  • Australian William Ramsay founded and named the show polish brand, Kiwi, because his wife was from New Zealand. As you know, kiwi is the demonym for New Zealanders.
  • Unilever is the world's largest maker of ice-creams. It owns brands like 'Kwality Wall's', Ben & Jerry's, Heartbrand, Breyers, and a few more brand listed in the photo featured here.