Thursday, May 31, 2012

Economics of bandh

I had to write this. Otherwise, I would've burst.

Anyone, who's studied the very basic economics, knows that the greater the number of sellers in the market, the better it is for the buyers. And if there's only one seller in the market, buyers will have a torrid time.

Let's say 'governance' is a product/service. How many sellers do you have? Based on our general knowledge and general interest in politics, we would say Congress or BJP, or UPA or NDA. It looks like there are two sellers. Think about it, are there two or more sellers?

Two points here:

1) You can say there are two or more sellers only if you have an option of switching.
2) Assuming that competition among sellers benefits buyers, the latter should be able to switch in real quick time.

Sure, there's an option of switching. When? Every 5 years. And after you swtich, when does the benefit accrue? Ha ha ha ha. Your guess is as great as mine.

Whether a dying patient can switch to a better hospital only depends on how many minutes/days of life he's got. If he's got just half an hour of life left, switching might not help.

The structure of governance, or let's put it 'the market for governance services' is ridiculously stacked against the buyers (voters or common people). Top it with the fact that individual allegiance matters very little. You might prefer an independent candidate, but the majority might prefer a Congress candidate or a BJP candidate. And since the two parties have had a chance to govern and channelize monies, every chance for them to lure the impecunious in their fold through momentary pecuniary benefits. Lo, there goes majority.

Coming specifically to the bandh.

Petrol prices were always be destined to rise. Why? Coz everything that we do to produce more and consume more and grow more requires energy. Only the most radically effective or path-breakingly efficient solution can rescue us from the the spiralling prices.

Did the leaders not know that if we grow like any of the western countries we wouldn't have the space to accommodate cars if every family bought one?

Did the leaders not see that Mumbai is has such a staggering number of people that it possibly can't have any more cars on the streets?

If the western countries' type of growth is what we are aiming at now, did the leaders not see the western countries' modes of transportation? Why couldn't the provisions be made 20 years earlier for a good public transportation system? Not just in Mumbai, across the country, in all the growing towns and cities?

But of course, why would they bother to see anything at all. There's no competition for at least 5 years. After 5 years, there's no emancipation. Another bull-shit governance service provider with monopolistic power walks in. And we keep alternating between the bull-shitters.

Imagine the enormous movement it takes across the country to make the monopolistic government concede on even a single point which the masses think might be beneficial.

True democracy can't stand on monopolistic governance structure. Just coz you get a chance to choose once in 5 years doesn't mean it leads to democracy. Just coz there's an institution of 'elected representatives' cannot mean there can't be monopoly. Till the time we can't switch between two or more governance service providers in real quick time, it's going to be a monopoly. And we are going to face the consequences of a monopolistic governance.

I wrote about this earlier as well. Here.

PS: There's another factor 'economies of scale' which has an impact on the market of governance services. Will elaborate on that on another day. If you want to keep a track of these thoughts, please subscribe to the blog and the posts will be delivered to your inbox.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

So what's the scope?

Parents and their kids, who are just about to choose a stream/pursue a professional qualification, ask this. Some young pros considering starting some form of business or entrepreneurial venture ask this. As if this question is going to make their careers or help earn a great deal of money.

And while I've answered that question, I have not been internally satisfied with my answers. I wonder those who asked for my opinion were satisfied either :).

MBAs would know better that 'scope' can be answered through Porter's 5-forces model. However, with supply trumping demand in most categories which pertain to life in general, Porter's 5-forces model might not be sufficient.

'Scope' is a category question. And it can't be answered categorically. Besides, it requires that once you put a name to the category, you do a lot of slicing and dicing. More on this in other posts.

For now, let me try and close this by saying that in today's economy, scope will be largely determined by how you intend to connect with people, how long are you willing to check and evaluate whether you are connecting with people in the greatest possible manner.

If you want to earn a salary, 'scope' might often be a redundant question.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How many years of experience do you have?

That's the question typically asked in interviews for any job, barring the situations when you're just fresh out into the job market.

Two parts of experience: applied skills and knowledge (in the context of the domain one is seeking to get a job in). Of course, the two are entwined and one helps the other. Knowledge would rely more on the applied skills than the other way round. So the greater the application of skills, the greater the knowledge.

So here are some issues in measuring 'experience'.

When testing a person during the interview, a great deal depends on the quality of the question itself. And of course quality of question depends on the interviewer's application of skills in turn. If one hasn't spent a significant time applying skills, then one's quality of questions would reflect that. That will also determine the quality of the interview.

And since interviews depend more on exchange of words, it is a challenge for both the parties to capture the 'applicability' into words - whether in questions or answers.

Experience is also a 'stock' question. Like, "How much you have?" And while experience is about applied skills and knowledge, a good measure of 'applied skills' would be how the stock turns into fluid/dynamic state. Again, words might not necessarily suffice. For application spans time and can be better observed in/through action than through a description in words.

Also, since two businesses are bound to be in different and unique situations, the stock of applied skills needs to adjust to these situations. How does one take a measure of such 'adjustment'?

If the organization isn't keen on getting a good measure of your 'applied skills', 3 dominant possibilities: 1) you are going to do the clerical, the repetitive and the laborious, 2) the organization has mastered the art of extracting the 'difficult measurement of applied skills' out of the words people use, 3) the one responsible for interviewing is inept.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Suppose I were Humpty Dumpty

and you knew that I am so fond of motorcycling, you would say, "Humpty Dumpty had a great fall!"

Talk about my sense of humor. :)

Some blood stains on my shirt below.

Those are the positive scraps out of my jeans torn away so that my knee could be dressed.

That's my knee and the negative cut out in my jeans.

Don't ask me how the accident happened. In short, a little slum-kid of about 3-4 yrs just popped up in the middle of the road rather nonchalantly. I braked hard and fell. Nothing happened to the kid. Walked away like they typically do.

While I was falling, in that half a second, I just said to myself, "I am in for some serious stuff here."

Well I got up almost in a push-up manner. What a relief it was when I found that my legs and hands were fit enough to push me up after a nice motorcycle fall. No it isn't funny. I was scared about having broken a bone or two.

Anyway, I just feel it helps to keep (or try hard to keep) our body in shape. There's just a slight bit of better control and balance in our movements and acts, if we work to keep the body in shape. And that 'little better' goes a long way. To relate my efforts to stay fit with the accident might seem far-fetched but there's no other way I can think about it.

We've been gifted with an amazingly evolved and arranged body. It's organic and has its own ways and so very easy to abuse it. But quite a bit rewarding when we put in effort to stay fit and in shape.

Vespa test-ride review

I just test-rode the recently launched Piaggio Vespa. And this is a short review.

First things first, the scooter is top notch in quality, fit and finish. If someone's wondering what the hell are they charging 77k (on-road price in Ahmedabad) for, this is one of the reasons. And it does feel like it will serve the rider for many years faithfully without hurting the eye and without losing the luster.

The pick-up is awesome. So sprightly. Yes, the 125cc capacity is well utilized. The meter responds to the rider's whims on the accelerator. It's just 114kgs in weight and yet feels real solid.

Lovely colors. Must make every morning a riding pleasure. Very cool extra accessories which do justice to the design. Just the one on the front mud-guard isn't so appropriate.

Here's a limiting point of this two wheeler. It's not tiny but it's what you call 'not-sufficient' for two well-built adults. I am talking of people like me. Height around 5'10" and with average build. No, it doesn't lack in power. It will merrily take the two of you around without a fuss but the over-all size of the scooter is such. Though the seating is comfortable, it doesn't let the body stretch. Perhaps that's the story of every scooter. And of course, I am so habituated with motorcycles...

If you've got the money and scooter's what you need, Vespa will be money very well spent.

Yes, you'll forget Activas and Dios and Accesses and Duros. Promise.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Patli gali se nikal le...

If you are curious like me, you would ask, "kaise nikalte hain patli gali se?!"

When I was in college, I used to time myself everyday. I used to keep a track of how much I would take to reach on my motorcycle. One day I was in a bit of a hurry.

After that 'hurry', what's the question in your head. "Then?"

If you ask me, "Why?" I am not sure I remember. And I am not even sure you'll enjoy the narration.

'Why' is the reason. Every event, every story has a 'why' and a 'how'. 'How' is the sequence. 'How' are the details.

'Why' is the short-cut. 'How' is the actual living.

"Why did you change 5 jobs in such a short career?" might not have as entertaining and as revealing an answer as "How did you manage to change 5 jobs in such a short career?"

Where you want people to work, "how" will help you choose better than "why". "Why" is the ideologue. "How" is the man of the word and a man of the world.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Glass Windows

There's something that let's you see yourself in it.

There's one that lets you see the beauty that lies beyond it. It's there in between you and the beyond but it doesn't come in your way.

It doesn't let the wind have its way and smash you around. Or doesn't let the chill of the snow freeze you so easily.

There's one which if you remove it from in front of your eyes, you see unbearable barrenness. And you don't see yourself anymore either.

Drum-set with consciousness

I have a drum-set. It's been lying with me for many years. Last I played it must be 4 years back, when I recall at best. Suppose it had consciousness, and to behave basis its consciousness, suppose it had legs and limbs. What would it do?

My drum-set doesn't have consciousness. But I do.

What should I do now? What should I have done earlier? And if I do nothing now, what should I do in the coming times?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Interviewer asks, "So why Mississippi Earrings?"

On occasions, when I've applied/pitched for some interesting job or assignment and people check my CV and ask me about what I am doing currently, and I tell them that I've set up a venture of my own called Mississippi Earrings, I've received some of the funniest responses.

Some are astonished: EARRINGS!!! MICA Grad, Communications pro, and earrings!
Some ask, how is it doing? If I say it's doing decent, they ask, so why a job now?
Some ask, but why did you venture on your own?

Such questions. I pity these folks who have very little to ask but these questions. Especially the 'why' question. Thinking for a couple of seconds can give them all these answers. But wtf, they've been trained to ask 'why'.

But then questions are not meant for evaluating the literal answers. Some questions are oblique ones. In the sense that 'Why Mississippi Earrings?' might be asked to evaluate my vocabulary or the quality of my voice or my body language.

Anyhow, since I haven't converted any of the interviews so far, I have 5 major alternative inferences about the interviewers' judgments of me. Mind you, none of these could be related to the 'why' they ask and to the answer I give to that 'why'. There could be more inferences of course but 5 is a good number.

I don't have the requisite skills. For me it's hard to believe that I don't have the skills. But then there's a possibility that I am fucked up in communicating that 'I have the skills'. In which case, I have licked jack-ass all my life and in all my career so far.

Third could be that I don't have experience in the domain. Fuck the domain, I don't want a domain-dependent job. In which case I am better off not having been selected.

Fourth could be that I am seen one bloody greedy opportunist, who wants to have a venture of his own and earn from a well-paying job/project as well. So I need a kick in the ass for my vice.

Fifth could be that if my venture's doing decent then I would pay more attention to the venture than to the job. So that's how people behave, right? My girl-friend's got a fracture and my mother's admitted in the hospital. So I will take care of only one. Or rather, I will not be able to take care of any of them since my attention gets divided. I am a management grad but 'management' in such a case won't work, they think. So, gone.

'Why' is a scientific question. And ridiculous too. In the context of a career path, all answers to 'why' can be concocted. 'Why' led economists to turn to behavioral economics. And the 'whys' they uncover sometimes are so bizarre that the 'why behind those whys' cannot quite be answered.

You can't ask Mukesh Ambani as to why he has a textile company and why a refinery and then why a retail company. But you will raise questions if I try to execute a strategy which I presented to a client and which was not accepted for whatever reason and which I believed could unlock value and give me some creative satisfaction. You will raise questions if I try to pull off more than one thing. The possibility is, I might just do.