Archive for ‘Opinion’

June 8, 2010

Monkeys + Sharing = Humans

Superfreakonomics highlights monkey ability with money, markets, prostitutions, etc.. and how their behaviour is very similar to us humans. In some sense, Its depressing to think that all these millions of years of evolution process has changed much in term of appearance but few in terms of behaviour..

But landed on this(below) interesting question on- what unique to humans? which is not common among other primates.! Its seems…Interactions and motivation to share.

Yeah one of the things that, the question of what’s uniquely human is actually a big one and you, depending on who you ask you might get really different answers.  If I had to put my money on something that was actually uniquely human, it seems in some funny way to be our motivation to actually interact with others, in a funny way.  And what I mean by this is that generally if you look at any humans anywhere, if they’re hanging out with other humans they’re often doing something where they’re showing something to another individual.  So you see something cool and you say, “Oh hey, look at this cool thing.”  And to psychologists this is a process of reference, right, so sharing, referring to information out there in a world and it seems like other primates even though you think this is kind of a simple ability, they seem to lack at least the motivation to do this.  This leads to the fact that they don’t have the kind of communication that we have with things like language with nouns that can kind of point to things out there in the world.  They also don’t seem to share their own desires and intentions with others, which leads to a lack of kind of cooperation in a lot of domains, so if I had to put my money on what was uniquely human I’d go with the kind of motivation to share information with others.

Bottom-line: you are a monkey if you don’t share.. 😉

May 6, 2007

India cannot afford villages…

There has been a general tendency to romanticize village life as a return to our roots. What is noticeable, though, is that most people who romanticize village life in India tend to live in cities—in India, or elsewhere. They also seem incapable of noticing the irony implicit in this romanticization, since their forefathers, too, were once villagers —who migrated to cities for good reason.

There was no greater proponent of villages than Mohandas Gandhi, who had been educated in London, and had a law career in urban South Africa. Gandhi’s most vehement critic at the time was Ambedkar, who knew about village life as an untouchable. Attacking Gandhi’s view on the republic of villages as overly sentimental, Ambedkar urged his followers to leave their rural persecution behind, get educated and move to urban centres.

Clearly, anyone who lives in the average Indian village and has access to information and money would like to leave for towns and cities.

The conflating of the development of rural people with the development of villages perhaps explains the misplaced emphasis on the latter. The fact that despite decades of attempts at developing rural areas, nothing much has been achieved in the development of rural people suggests that the answers may lie elsewhere.

Every developed economy has followed a path which begins with agriculture being the main source of income for the majority of the population, and ends with agricultural employment being a very small fraction of the total labour force. The shift has always been from a village-centric, agriculture-based economy to a city-centric, non-agricultural economy—as agriculture becomes more productive, labour is released into manufacturing and services, which have higher productivity and incomes.

At the low levels of economic prosperity seen in rural India, economic growth is a precondition for development. Economic growth, in turn, is a cause and consequence of urbanization. The reason is not hard to see. In urban areas, people aggregate in numbers sufficient for markets to deliver goods and services efficiently and cheaply. Consider the supply of an essential infrastructural service such as electricity. The economics of power generation and distribution do not allow decentralization to the level of villages that are home to a few hundred people. The average cost of per unit of power makes it prohibitive. The only way for a small 1-2MW decentralized plant to provide power for a village of 1,000 people is for the villagers to pay substantial premiums—which is highly improbable. No wonder then that essential services such as uninterrupted electricity are not available at the village level. By comparison, supplying decentralized power for the needs of a few tens of thousands of people is economically feasible.

Villages are not the proper object of analysis when it comes to economic growth, and hence economic development. By insisting on the development of villages, scarce resources, which could have been more efficiently used elsewhere, are wasted. The same resources can be used in the development of cities. It seems to us that the answer to the development of rural people paradoxically lies in urban development.

About 700 million Indians live in villages. Clearly, there is little scope for urbanization in their case by having them migrate to existing cities—those are already bursting at the seams. Practically all Indian towns and cities are unplanned and inefficiently use land and other resources. They are inadequate even for current residents, leave alone the idea of adding hundreds of millions of more people to them. The country requires new urban centres to accommodate the hundreds of millions of people who need to be in such centres.

In fact, the answer to Mumbai’s or Delhi’s problems is, interestingly enough, that these cities lose their centrality to the Indian economy as other regional centres come up and mass migration to large cities ceases. People tend to forget that New York (or London) was once considered an unlivable, hopelessly polluted city. At least part of the solution to the city’s problem lay in the creation of other centres such as Chicago, St. Louis and the cities of the west which relieved the pressure on New York itself.
India has a choice of futures, say, in 2030. Will the majority of Indians continue to live in 600,000 small villages engaged in near-subsistence agriculture or will they be in living in 600 well-planned vibrant cities (or 6,000 towns of 100,000 population, for that matter) working in non-agricultural sectors and enjoying a rich social and cultural life? Looking at current revenue ratio- income from agricultural is slowly declining and service sector is increasing even with 60% India’s workforce is in rural agricultural sector.

Depending on how we use our resources, the latter future can be a reality. Achieving that reality would be the greatest challenge for India and arguably, the most rewarding as well. Rather than trying to trap people in villages and agriculture, the focus should be on the creation of new urban centres which will lead to economic growth and development of people.

Source: WSJ’s Livemint

January 31, 2007

Tata-Corus deal closed, so What that means..??

India’s Tata Steel has won the bidding war for Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus Group with an $12.1 billion auction offer that trumped Brazilian rival Companhia Siderurgica Nacional.

What this means to Tata Steel?
with the trade barriers having been lowered, though not eliminated, most businesses have to align/ benchmark themselves against global practices. National beliefs, markets and boundaries have a role in shaping corporate strategy. But there are other forces as well – customers, technology, investors ! For many of the people in these the national borders, increasingly just mean additional/ specific documentation to be undertaken

For the tata’s this would mean that they would have about 50% of their revenues come from international customers/ operations. For a group which is as diversified and integrated into India as Tata, this is a significant change in their perceptions of business opportunities. Being a global company, does have advantages, but also different benchmarks and expectations. The next 5 years would show whether they have been able to graduate from an Indian Group to a Global group, keeping their core-values intact.

What this means to India?
A decade back, when pessimists thought that opening up of Indian economy will lead to the opposite result – all Indian companies being bought out by maruding foreigners but for the past few years, India Inc. has been looking abroad and lots of great buys have happened.

Tatas themselves have led the pack (with the acquiring of Tyco, Tetley, Daewoo’s Truck business and now Corus), like how they did in the last century – whether it be starting a premier institution – IISc & TIFR or starting aviation industry, steel production, Motors, Sofware services/Outsourcing (TCS)

It seems the phenomenon is spreading throughout, whether it is Pharma, Software/ITeS, Steel, Electronics, Beverages/FMCG… Even public sector companies like IOC and ONGC are refreshingly aggressive in this business. In the future, I would like to see mammoth companies like Indian Railways, SBI (and other group of Indian banks are much healthier than most Asian banks), BSNL, Power Corporations to be removed off their Shackles and enter the world economy in a big way.

and Interesting trend to notice.. Now, India’s FDI outflow is MORE than inflow. For long, Indians have obsessed about the amount of inbound FDI, especially when compared to China (India has received less in FDI inflows since 1991 than China will receive this year alone). Interestingly enough, with Tata-Corus deal and if Videocon takeover of Daewoo Electronics does go through, India’s FDI outflows will, for the first time, exceed FDI inflows. Effectively, the projections for 2006 are that India will receive $9 billion in inflows while outflows stand at $19 billion, spread across 100+ deals, turning India into a net exporter of capital (to be precise though, a lot of the external acquisitions are not funded by domestic capital, but from foreign sources). At the very least, the investment bankers among you, especially those working on outbound M&A deals, can expect a big, fat bonus this year.

We have just started as a trickle and it doesnt take a long time to become a flood, as all the individual droplets are getting bigger and their distance is getting smaller. I hope the Indian govt doesnt do any stupid things, as often as they do in the past, and be a silent pusher of Indian companies into the global arena.

Certainly interesting times ahead both for Tatas and India.

January 22, 2007

Media Spend and Market Share…

Starbucks spends very little on advertising. The below graph shows the top 10 restaurant chains (ranked on their market share) and the amount of money (in millions) they spend on advertising each year. If you note the trend, marketshare is roughly 1/100 of the amount spend on advertising.

$ million ad spend per share point (2005):
1. Mc Donalds: $94
2. Burger King: $111
3. Wendy’s: $162
4. Subway: $147
5. Taco Bell: $121
6. Starbucks: $10

It’s just one more reminder that Starbucks spends its advertising dollars on making better products and better customer experiences and not on making funnier television commercials.

People will be more likely to show up on Sunday morning because a friend invited them than if they receive a postcard in the mail. Not saying postcards don’t have their place. I’m just saying the most effective “marketing vehicle” is word-of-mouth.

So why don’t the other chains take a leaf out of Starbucks’ book, and spend more on product and service, and less on trying to create an “image wrapper” to cover up their shortcomings? One answer is that they are taking the easy route: making a nice new ad is a lot easier and more fun than trying to fix the real issues to do with crappy service, food and decor.

January 3, 2007

2030: Not India, Not China,..USA still a superpower…

recent blog lead to this thought..: is Asia is king of 21st century?? that what we are hearing today. then, why I feel America(/’Big brother’) will still boss around..?

Now with genX everyone in the family has a word to say/comment to make but ‘Big brother’ makes decisions and will continue to do so. 2006 events highlights self-confidence among others countries & divide in US community. Lets not forget the fact mr.Bush is unpopular so whatever he(/his friends/his policy) does is & will be unpopular not just around the world but within americans as well. A genuine superpower does not merely have military and political influence, but also must be at the top of the economic, scientific, and cultural pyramids. Soviet Union was only a partial superpower, and the most recent genuine superpower before the United States was the British Empire.

Economy: challenger ‘China’ – the progress that the US economy would make from 1945 to 2030 (85 years) would have to be achieved by China in just the 25 years from 2005 to 2030. Even then, this is just the total GDP, not per capita GDP, which would still be merely a fourth of America’s. (assuming US GDP 3.5% and china’s GDP 10%.. by 2030, US economy size $30 trillion in 2006 dollar and china’s will be around $2.2 trillion)

Brand america from Inventions to mass-marketing: Creating world-accepting brand such as Nike, Coco-cola, Xerox, Google, (very recently)Youtube,. Europe & Japan had worked very hard in last 50yrs to have few in few specific selectors. Become the nation that produces the new inventions and corporations that are adopted by the mass market into their daily lives. Lets accept American-dominated ‘blogosphere’ emerged as a powerful force of information & media. USSR was ahead of the US in the space race at first, until President Kennedy decided in 1961 to put a man on the moon by 1969. now, China has plans to put a man on the moon by 2024.

Military power: “Have a military capable of waging wars anywhere in the globe (even if it does not actually wage any). Part of the opposition that anti-Americans have to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is the envy arising from the US being the only country with the means to invade multiple medium-size countries in other continents and still sustain very few casualties. No other country currently is even near having the ability to project military power with such force and range. Mere nuclear weapons are no substitute for this. The inability of the rest of the world to do anything to halt genocide in Darfur is evidence of how such problems can only get addressed if and when America addresses them.”

Education & Immigration: 17 of the world’s top 20 universities are in the US. ofcourse, we can notice odd good B-school poping-up elsewhere but Noone is even close to MIT. so US will continuce to attract top students from Asia, Europe and retain them. “US effectively receives a subsidy of $100 to $200 billion a year, as people educated at the expense of another nation immigrate here and promptly participate in the workforce”. as long as, India & No other country has size & capablities (atleast today) to attract smart immigratent.

Entertainment & Culture: No one will be able to (/willing to) address Piracy issues (we need smart business-man & business plan to overcome this problem). and “When American teenagers are actively pirating music and movies made in India or China, only then will the US have been surpassed in this area. Take a moment to think how distant this scenario is from current reality.

Europe and Japan have tried for decades, and have only achieved parity with the US on maybe two of these dimensions at most.

PS: US will remain superpower, claims CIA

December 20, 2006

One test match win drives TV ads rates up…

One win, and cricket ad rates zoom

was wonder with one test win, 15% increase on ESPN star Tv ads rate is good? or worth-it? how ROI(return-on-investment) for these TV ads is calculated?
time to start “TV vs. Internet ads” argument…:

Today, the Internet offers advertisers a wide range of tools, which they can leverage to connect with their customers: email marketing, search engine advertising, floating animated page takeovers, interactive rich media ads, streaming audio/video, viral marketing… the list is endless. Besides scoring high points on the novelty scale, these media offer advertisers a multitude of exclusive benefits: interactivity, measurability, synergy, targeting, multi-media, and even flexibility. Powered by these unique benefits, which are not available in any other medium, Internet advertising revenue has grown significantly faster than television advertising. According to the latest ad spend predictions from ZenithOptimedia, television advertising can begin to lose its global share of revenue in 2007 (after having lost significant bytes of the pie from the US and many parts of Europe).

In India, experts estimated the Internet would take 11 years to reach a base of 50 million people. Growing exponentially with each passing year, the Internet has in the last decade reached 40 million people! Television, on the other hand, took 28 years to reach the same number of people. Radio took 38 years and newspapers, 162 years. By the close of 2005, there were 38.5 million Internet users in the country (32 per cent being women, IAMAI 2005)—more than five times the number of users in the year 2000. While Internet advertising comprised less than one per cent of advertising in the year 2005, it is expected to be four per cent by the year 2010 i.e. 747 crores on a base of 19,562 crores. Until such time, the projected yearly growth rate of the ad industry is expected to stabilize at 11 per cent; the growth of the online ad industry will be consistently more than 40 per cent.

The next 10 years of advertising is set to see a convergence of diverse media. Leading organizations are pioneering new ways of measuring the impact of online advertising. As the Internet continues to lead the way on accountability, traditional media will have to respond with better matrices for audience composition and marketing performance. In order to engage consumers—who today have several choices and great control over message delivery—ad agencies are compelled to make highly innovative advertisements. The new advertising world is set to grow more entertaining, informative, relevant, and authentic.

tomorrow is tomorrow anyways, meanwhile ESPN-Star is making money…

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