Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lost: 13,000 chances

When Prakash Karat, general secretary of CPI(M) came to The Indian Express, I looked forward to a heady debate, among many other issues, on why the party is averse to stock markets. I thought, finally, as I drag myself out of the analytical, empirical, logical paradigm, enter the “people”, the “political”, the “national” arenas and revisit my assumptions all over again, I may get a little enlightenment.
I was disappointed. Question: what’s wrong with the stock market? Answer: a paper on the Chilean experience. Question: why not invest in the market if returns are guaranteed? Answer: putting Government funds in the stock market means you are providing a vast source of capital to the corporate sector.

Opinion in The Indian Express, October 31, 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

Karma of business

The evolution of management, from military to business to personal. Its progression from Taylor’s time and motion to behaviouralists’ mind and commotion, from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the prosperous hierarchy of wants, is now moving from matter and ideas to spirit, using spirit to enrich ideas and matter. If Ved Vyasa’s Bhagwad Gita is replacing Sun Tsu’s Art of War among US executives learning to put “purpose before self”, or realising that karma is a “principle of action” from professors at Harvard, Kellogg, Wharton, as Businessweek reports, it is not a victory of Gita over War or even India over China. It is an enrichment of matter with spirit.

Opinion in The Indian Express, October 30, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

From light to wealth

Diwali has just gone by. I really don’t know when a festival that celebrates good over evil --- symbolised by the return of Rama and Sita after their 14-year-long vanvaas or the killing of Narakasura by Satyabhama (Krishan’s wife) --- turned into a festivity of wealth. When for instance, in Hindu homes, Rama and Sita got replaced by Lakshmi; the dharma of justice and righteousness, replaced by the dharma of money.

Opinion in The Indian Express, October 23, 2006

Friday, October 6, 2006

There’s no gilt in wealth creation

At a board meeting in Mumbai last week, the discussion went beyond taking organisational decisions into the future of economic reforms. On top of the agenda was pension reforms. In any such discussion, faces usually light up, ideas begin to stream. But this time, in a matter of a few minutes, the faces were crestfallen, the ideas were conspicuous by their absence. I have yet to see a group of men, managing hundreds of thousands of crores, so pessimistic on the future.
With nobody else left to strike at, they blamed the reforms troika of Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia for backtracking on reforms. They said that despite having icons of liberalisation at the helm of affairs, reforms in the UPA administration have reversed; what the NDA had begun, the UPA has ended. Their conclusion: having reformists is no guarantee to having reforms delivered.

Opinion in The Indian Express, October 06, 2006

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Handling the heights

At around $600 billion or Rs 27,46,200 crore, the total banking assets in India are about the same as the world’s 25th largest bank, the Rabobank Group. India’s biggest bank, State Bank of India (SBI), has assets of $107 billion. Still, it’s only the world’s 84th largest bank its assets are less than 7 per cent of Barclays Bank, the world’s largest.
In a business where size matters most, the Indian banking sector is small and scattered. As on March 2006, there were 218 scheduled commercial banks, of which, the top 25 accounted for about 85 per cent of assets. Of these, 18 have the same owner (the government) and do the same thing, but any move to merge some of them is likely to run into a wall of Left opposition.

Opinion in The Indian Express, October 03, 2006

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Our own Gandhigiri

It’s not his non-violence. It’s not his vegetarianism or abstinence. It’s not even his Satyagraha. And while not undermining their strength and success, I find all these mere outer ramifications of the man’s inner actions. They are an extension, a reflection of Gandhi’s personality, his core. The core itself is one of great conviction, a swadharma — discovered and practised by himself — that led to swaraj, non-cooperation, Dandi march and all the other ideas we saw him wear, ideas that were as simple as his clothes and therefore startling in a complicated world. It is his swadharma, own becoming, that is the key to, and substance of, the man.

Opinion in The Indian Express, October 01, 2006