Featured Institution : Mann Deshi Udyogini – B-School for Poor Women

Came across this TOI Story in the morning about a B-school aimed at empowering women.

Our B-school, the Mann Deshi Udyogini (MDU), was launched in December 2006 with a Rs 7 lakh grant from HSBC. It is located at Vaduj near Satara. “

“Our courses on confidence building and financial literacy; bag-making, a two-hour biweekly session on spoken English (Rs 10 per session) and basic computer skills are immensely popular.”

This is a sign of where the rural India wants to go.

Our biggest challenge is how to meet the huge demand for such courses in rural areas. Also, our curriculum and training has to be innovative, low-cost and graphics-driven as most of the women are semi-literate. Another of our challenges is to involve the men so that they cooperate with their women, don’t feel left out and insecure.

I urge all you smart guys out there to think of ways you can help them.

Some other links to read about them are – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

They are based in Satara, Maharasthra.. Here is their website

The Salary Monster!

Saw this link which got me thinking-

1. The salaries in the Indian market have become obscene. So much so, that even though I think I am making good money, I feel that there is scope for improvement. Everytime I think I am doing well for myself, I meet at least 5 other people who can cause discontentment. By telling me how much they are earning! Whats the end figure? I don’t know! What’s a good salary? No idea!!

Faint memory – When my sister took hom Rs.7,500 as her first TCS salary in 1997, I was pretty excited. When I was completing my Economics undergraduate studies in 2000-2001, I believed a salary of 15-20K to be a good salary to have. Enough to start my career and achieve a few important financial milestone. and I am at a number several times my aspired salary. And I am still not happy…
2. The Indian offshoring industry is bringing its own demise – For me, two things have changed – one, the talent price has gone up and companies are finding their basic cost structure become gradually unfavorable. Two, there is an immense amount of billing rate pressure from clients. Combined with inflation, and the concentration of economic growth in a few cities/metros (NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai) which has led to unprecedented cost of living in these cities, supply of money is still not able to cope up with the increasing demand for things money can buy. Net result.. everyone’s running. Everyone’s unhappy.

Aside : A friend is looking for a 1BHK. Preferably wants it in the Bandra to Dadar region. Budget – 20k. Don’t laugh.
For those who are in Mumbai, thats a paltry amount to look for a 1BHK in this stretch.
For those who don’t understand Mumbai, 20k for A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE!!!! Is he looking for a palace? NOOOOO!!! a kholi will do!
What could the companies have done? Not gone berserk with the salaries paid. Kept a check on where they are headed. Thought through a basic requirement – how to differentiate between campus and off-campus hiring. People who join form campus get a salary of X. They spend 6 months with a firm, and are out in the market, because they know they can get 2X. In a hurry to poach trained (for 6 months) talent, IT ocmpanies are ready to offer 2X. However, the talent is in a bigger hurry. He jumps again within 6 months to get 3X, 3.5 X and so on. Sooner than they realize, an Indian IT company has trained someone for 6 months (paying him X) and converted him into hiking monster who is never going to be happy with his salary. And we have a whole lot of companies ready to fuel their desire.

3. If the Rupee run continues, what will happen to the Indian IT industry – Now, this is a fundamental question that a lot of economists are debating. I don’t think I need to waste my breath gasping over it. However, the long and short of it is that the fundamental driver of growth of Indian IT industry, the cost arbitrage, will get eroded far more rapidly if the dollar becomes weaker. Even if the salaries were not to go up obscenely, the strengthening of rupee can damage the margins enough to make businesses unfavorable.

But I hear the government is noticing all this! 🙂

What do I think will happen? A lot of acquisitions. Smaller fries will get wiped out. Salaries will stagnate. And there will be more unhappiness all around! 🙂 But all that.. in good time! Make hay while the sun shines. And if you can, save cash! it may become more valuable than any other thing!

Quite a bit of stuff..

The last three days had a lot of interesting stuff happening all around –

1. Movies like Apne, Aap ka Suroor released. And I consciously stayed away from theatres. lsat heard, people had totally given up on a capped Himesh facing stiff competition from an animated Himesh [ Caricature of a caricature.. that’s intriguing] … and the Deol family’s emotional action movie. One helluva tearjerker, I hear! And going by Dharam paji’s performance at the IIFA awards, nothing short of an oscar nomination!!

2. Indian team finally won a series against South Africa. Last night, the way they started their batting, I wasn’t too hopeful. But it was a good chase in the end. A very very scratchy Yuvraj managed to hold on till the end, thanks to several dropped catches! A cat with whiskers using all his nine lives…

3. The prancing horses finally managed a 1-2. It was good to see Raikkonen at 1. And after a while, it was not because someone else goofed up. They were right up there from the start! 🙂 Good pitstop strategies this time, reminiscent of their glorious days.

4. Was watching A B Vardhan’s (CPI) defense of Pratibha Patil’s various glorious acts. It was great to see a leading politician defend the case with the wisdom of a 5-year old. “Everyone does it.. So what’s wrong if we are also doing it” citing the numerous cases of inappropriate candidatures here and there! Interestingly enough, Pratibha Patil has finally claimed that the allegations are false and baseless. How? Well, that’s not really important, is it?

5. I was writing a post on Air Deccan. Will post it later during the day.. but even before I say something, I saw this post on Y-Lal’s blog. That’s one senior from IIMB days that a lot of people used to admire. In short, everytime I think of an Air Deccan experience, its an equivalent of caught in a peak-hour 2nd class compartment of mumbai local. Whatever you go through is your problem, because we offer cheap services!

Welll…. so much to write.. I think I will pass!

Book Review: In Spite Of The Gods

Before I start commenting on the back, for the uninitiated, here is a 2-line spiel on Edward Luce, the luminary writer of this book.
Edward Luce is a Financial Times journalist who has covered India for a considerable period of time. (And his wife is an Indian). As part of his journalistic experiences, he did get to read, write and experience a fair bit of India. And the true enigma that India is, Edward is tempted to share his understanding of the profound through this book.
The name of the book – In Spite Of The Gods – The Strange Rise Of Modern India, itself tells you how a lot of people feel about India. Despite all that plagues modern India, people often surmise about what has brought India to this stage of exploding growth. Why is there so much talk about India being the next big thing in the global economy? The real answer is – Nobody Knows! It reminds me of this joke where the whole of US is baffled about “Jugaad” – a technology which ensures a 5 year tenure for a government with 20% of the seats in the parliament, which tilts the scooter at 5 degrees to start it, which provides food and shelter for those thousands of good for nothing young ones in villages who think sitting at the chaupaal and talking about Indian Politics is the biggest form of entertainment (besides periodic consumption of Chai and Gutkha), and which sums up the sentiment behind this golden statement – “Ho Jayega Saab! Aap chinta mat kijiye. Kuch jugaad to lag hi jayega!”
Anyways, back to Edward Luce and his rendition of the great (and not-so-great) story of Indian evolution. The book is very good when it comes to research, and sharing experiential learning. However, the book suffers from a very common problem. People who have not felt India, often misinterpret the chaos that prevails. Particles moving in random motion with a specified purpose often contain a powerhouse of energy within. Luce’s attempt to generalize a lot of Indian undercurrents fail at striking a chord with an Indian. Some of the opinionated generalizations are unwarranted too. However, there is no fun in reading an author if he does not have an opinion! [;)]
The thing that struck me the most was the elevation of Sonia Gandhi’s character from the common perception of an opportunistic politician. Sonia is portrayed as someone who was and is naturally averse to politics and is there in the Indian politics for a social good. Sentiments I could not just wait and see what they were trying to do with the country sound nice, but very untrue. At the same time, the hatred for Sangh Parivar and the fact that BJP has played a puppet in Sangh’s hands for long are bloated magnanimously, with there being no equal stage sharing for some of the other forms of religious paranoia plaguing our country. Not one to support the extremist acts of religious atrocities in Gujarat, it somehow paints an incomplete and unjustified picture if a “journalist” never bothers to look at all faces of the coin before forming an opinion.
The place where this book suffers the most, according to me, and I am not great orator or journalist, is that it confuses personal opinions with research facts. In the same breath, Edward talks about the facts and figures of economic growth, Nehruvian model of socialistic economic growth, and his opinions about Ravi Shankar, Sonia Gandhi, etc.
It’s a good read for those who like hypothesizing about India and the way going forward (I am one of them!), and those who love reading (seemingly) interesting anecdotes concerning popular people (oxymoron – anything related to popular people is an interesting anecdote. That’s how they became popular, right?). A little depressing for die hard Sangh fans, a little too upbeat for Congress supporters, the book is a spicy read, if nothing else!

Vodafone wins the race

Valued at $19bn, hutch gets sold to Vodafone (link) – average valuation of every hutch customer is $778, and Airtel is $900 plus! 🙂

Reminds me of the INR1.8MM annual salary that MBAs were getting after graduating from IIMs back in 2001. And when I graduated, I had a feeling that I belong to the bottom 1 percentile of salaries! 🙂 .. This time, I feel like the top 1 percentile! I knew I wanted to go up.. but certainly not here!

Happy Deepawali & The S(hort) M(essages) S(wiftly) Generation

I dont remember having wished so many people Happy Diwali ever in my life. I mean, I always had a lot of friends.. but wishing Happy Diwali was never such a big deal. You just met friends, family, relatives, acquaintances, new people. You ate a lot of good food/sweets, burst a lot of crackers, and had a good deal of fun. This explicit expression of Diwali bringing great joy, happiness, prosperity and a whole lot of other things was never soooo important. It “used to” go without saying that you mean well!

All this- before I got a mobile phone, and my friend living across the street got a mobile phone, and the friend living in the other city, and my aunty, and my servant, and my grocery store guy, and the tailor, and the barber and everyone else that I knew decided to get a mobile phone. Before 70% of my office folks got my cell number. and before all of them decided to send a Diwali message to all the people in their extended phonebook (thats a selling proposition – 500 numbers on phone memory and another 300 on the SIM! With the latest N series and x series and extendible memory blah, you dont need to worry!)

Simple maths – I wished more than 120 people today, some of them living overseas. I spent, thus, more than 60-70 bucks on wishing people. And i used orkut friend list to wish some 300 people or so! I have received more than a 100 message during the day. Thats 7-8k telecom revenue in the vicinity of my near and dear ones! And I am not even the most popular person around! I would always wonder how many messages the babe living down the street got!! With every company claiming to have a few million subscribers, I wonder what the daily revenue looks like for these companies. Several millions/billions? On such “simply” important days as new year, diwali, holi and “extremely” important days like Friendship Day/Women’s Day/ Mother’s day!!

On a separate note, before the age of media glorifying the ritual of simple love, I always thought that everyday was Mother’s day and Friendship day! And being a little unbiased when it comes to gender, every day is Men’s day and Women’s day as well!!
I wont be surprised if a couple of years from now, people start sending “Gandhigiri” messages on 2nd October, and “Republican/Long Live Democracy” kinda messages on 26th Jan/15th August.

This is my explicitly spoken apology to all those who feel happy/get bugged with the continuously ringing/beeping cellphones carrying the same “May the goddess of light…” messages from n different people. Some call back to say – Thanks for remembering. Some message back with another deepawali forward that they got from someone else. Some choose to ignore. Some feel important.

But here is my last word – check the cell phone model of the person who’s making you feel important. Can he send a message to more than 5-10 people at one go? Does he/she need to write/forward that message to important people, one at a time? Is he/she taking the pain to write just one extra phrase – “Hey Dingi!” or something like that? Well.. with an N-series, you dont need to worry!

And those of you who did walk the extra small message yard swiftly, Thanks for making me feel special! 🙂

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