Sunday, February 22, 2009

Management in poetry, strategy in verse

It reached me last week, but this 2003 paper is the most unique I’ve read in many years. Not for the ideas it carries or takes forward -- as every paper is expected to -- but for the treatment it uses. Written in verse, eStrategy is a paper that will appeal to the poet in scholars and managers. And it may just about pull in the poets, get them to appreciate the “real” world of business and strategy, from which the authors have borrowed ideas -- cybernetics, semiotics, general systems theory, biology, psychology, thermodynamics, information theory, organisation theory, and strategic management. Sample this:
Organisation is information:
About entities, attributes, and relationships,
A construction of our mind.
Information is organisation:
Of signs, signals and symbols,
Through semiotics of our mind

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Interim Budget: Poll dance, but no item number

No relief for households, no tax cuts for industry. Just what more can you get from an interim budget? An election message, perhaps.
With an eye on polls less than three months away, as Pranab Mukherjee presented India’s 12th interim budget, the undertone behind his 80-minute drone was clear: “Vote for the Congress.”
Neither the “dream run for the economy”, nor the “fastest ever improvement in living standards over a four-year period” could stop the Sensex from falling 329 points — with India’s biggest companies tumbling: Reliance Industries and ICICI Bank fell 5.8 per cent.Gushing with what the UPA has done for major votebanks — farmers and minimum wage employees through reminders of schemes launched in agriculture, education, rural development and health — Mukherjee, who last presented a budget on February 29, 1984, dashed the expectations of the industrial elite.
Story in Hindustan Times

Sunday, February 15, 2009

An insider tells the Railways’ turnaround story

To me, tracking a turnaround is a stimulating. When that turnaround is of an organisation that’s as politically charged and as huge as the Indian Railways, it becomes all the more exciting. And when all of it has details as well as the big picture in a small 207-page book, it becomes compulsive reading.
On Friday, as Lalu Prasad presented his last Railway Budget (interim) as part of the current UPA administration, his speech took me on a journey that’s five years old — I’ve been following Lalu and his Railways since he took charge in 2004 as Minister of Railways.
Check out this piece on the interim budget, this interview and this podcast with Lalu.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

On Rail Budget day, Lalu’s message to India ‘We are changing’

With a Rs 90,000-crore surplus over five years, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad says the real change in the Railways is not about the money but the shift in thinking. “We are conscious about remaining a profit-making enterprise,” he told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview following his interim rail budget. In an interview to Gautam Chikermane and Varghese K George, he conceded a lot needs to be done to improve amenities.

The turnaround is good, but what have travellers got?
Reduction of 2 per cent in fares across classes is not a small thing. In the last five years, we made a record surplus — Rs 90,000 crore. Before that, Nitish Kumar and his alliance with the India Shining campaign ruined the Railways. Today, Indian Railways is being talked about across the world. We worked with the same people and situation and achieved this without causing trouble to anyone. This is only the beginning. We have set a high benchmark for the Railways and we have to cross that.

Interview in Hindustan Times

Friday, February 13, 2009

Podcast: Sudhir Kumar

Interview with Sudhir Kumar, officer on special duty to Railway Minister.
Podcast in Hindustan Times

Podcast: with Lalu Prasad

Interview with Lalu Prasad a couple of hours after he presented his interim Railway Budget 2009-10.
Podcast in Hindustan Times

What, after all, is Rs 90,000 crore?

Gautam Chikermane, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 13, 2009
Nothing, if you ask the people of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad’s constituency, who when told that the Railways had made a profit of Rs 70,000 crore in the four years to 2008, couldn’t relate to it. All they knew was that the fare from Hathua to Siwan in Bihar has fallen from Rs 7 to Rs 4.
Nothing, if you ask the Railway Board, who when armed with a Rs 15,000 crore surplus in 2006 and asked to reduce passenger fares by Re 1, said it would serve no end. The reality: for 88 per cent of travellers who pay an average price of Rs 10 per ticket, it does make a difference.
Story in Hindustan Times

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Highway to happiness is littered with theories

The highway to happiness has many alleys. Kids in college, happiness was simple — cut an album, tour the world, cut another album. All we had then were our passions, cigarettes we never had the money to buy, a modest collection of cassettes and a track record of having won the first or second prize in all inter-college music festivals.

A decade-and-half later, I find that the same highway to happiness is also littered with theories. From its very definition to methodologies of measuring it, psychologists, biologists, economists are in a highly competitive space out there.

Blog on Cutting the Edge

Monday, February 2, 2009

A paper on regulation that even makes sense

In a short but crisp and tightly written paper, Luigi Zingales, a professor of entrepreneurship and finance at University of Chicago, shows why the new regulation following the global meltdown needs to be fundamentally different from the one written 70 years ago in the 1930s.

Titled The Future of Securities Regulation, his primary argument in this paper is that the focus of regulatory protection needs to shift away from “unsophisticated investors vis-à-vis the underwriting of securities to the investment in mutual funds, pension funds, and other forms of asset management.”

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