Saturday, March 31, 2007

Reservations -The Real Debate

The debate on the reservations for backward classes has suddenly been accentuated with the Supreme Court's stay order. The BJP blames the UPA Government for not having put the case to the judiciary well (an upper caste ,right wing party also wants the share of the OBC vote you see,…..) , the DMK is shocked - what happens to its Adi-Dravida vote bank , the CPI(M) expressed grief –after all it has been the messiah of the downtrodden in West Bengal …and by implementing its strategy of rampant industrial strikes has succesfully crippled the state to an extent that people who had decent jobs even a decade and half ago have become downtrodden , so that their supporter base continues to increase …..and finally Mr VP Singh’s comment “ all people issues are political…and therefore the reservation issue is bound to be politicized… is evidence enough that all the players in the political firmament of India want a share in the electoral pie of the reservation game .

The reservation process as Mr Arjun Singh would like us to believe is a surgical correction to bring the Other Backward Castes (OBC) into the limelight by providing opportunities for economic and educational growth… the extent of sacrificing meritocracy as a principle .

I would like to draw the attention of my reader on some fundamental issues of reservation as a social engineering process.

a) One cannot argue that some form of subsidy needs to be given to backward and poorer sections of society, so I agree that reservation in some form is probably not a bad thing.

b) Poverty in India is endemic ,and it's a flawed assumption to believe that if one is backward one has to be poor or vice -versa . I am not too sure if there is a direct correlation between poverty and being backward . The protagonists of the reservation process demand reservation based on this fundamentally flawed assumption......I have lived in Karnataka and some of my Vokaliga and Lingayat friends are extremely affluent in spite of being OBC’s , similarly in Maharastra -where I presently reside ,there are many examples of rich OBC’s. A supporter of the OBC reservation would like to dismiss this by saying that yes there is a creamy layer in the OBC’s and we can exclude them from the reservation process …however the implementation of reservation is incomplete if its restricted to the OBC’s alone …which raises the second question , what are the principles of reservation in our country ..!!!. I am tempted to believe that the design of the reservation program is not to empower people of weaker sections (both OBC’s and non-OBC’s) but a diabolical attempt to build a vote bank for political parties. Mr VP Singh- The Raja of Mandya (and now the Czar of Mandal…) when asked this question responded by saying “I agree , there must be 10% reservation for upper castes as well….” Thank you Mr Singh by being so considerate, but what is the basis of this 10% ….and obviously Mr Singh would have no rationale to offer..!!

The Role of Judiciary in the process

After the Parliament's approval of the OBC reservation, I had given up all hope of redressal and rationale in the system. I was extremely agitated that neither the media nor the public was asking the right questions of our elected representatives (though I admired the resistance that the Youth For Equality-YFE provided) . However my faith in Indian democracy has been rekindled after the Supreme Court’s interim order asking the UPA government to provide more data before the issue is closed once for all. The SC judgment opined that the last caste base census happened in 1931 and has requested the government to come back with more contemporary data with statistics that correlate poverty with caste backwardness. I am hopeful that there are enough checks and balances in our democracy which will ensure that the creative minds in the UPA government cannot conjure up data which proves that one is poor because he is backward by caste.

I have written about the implications of the reservations in a previous post which might be of interest to you as well

I continue to live in hope that good sense will prevail….are you as hopeful as I am?

Social Networking sites as a political campaign tool -Orkut

I had recently written about the use of technology in the political process (YouTube as a tool for political campaigns) , and it's possible implications in the Indian context a decade from now. Building on the same theme is an article in the Washington Post (dt 30 March) which makes the pattern clearer . This article is about US Presidential candidate John Edwards using social networking sites as a campaign tool and also a distribution channel for campaign materials and content . He is on all the big ones: Flickr, YouTube, MySpace ,Facebook, et al, ...not including his own OneCorps which is supposed to have 20,000 members . In addition to this his own website has a blog feature, podcasts , RSS feeds etc etc . According to observers of the 2008 US Presidential polls , Sen. Barack Obama ,judging by the number of friends on MySpace or number of views of his YouTube videos, may be the most popular online candidate....interesting way of assessing electoral fortunes of candidates isn't it ?

In my previous post I had mentioned about the possible applications of the YouTube as a campaign tool in India about a decade from the light of the Washington post article and the state of Internet usage in India....I am tempted to beleive that social networking sites have a significant role to play in political campaigns in India as well.....

The number of people who are members of an Orkut community dedicated to one or more political parties is insignificant at this point in time , but nevertheless growing rapidly .All major national political parties and regional ones like DMK , BSP , SP , TDP , TMC, CPI(M) etc ...have a community in Orkut and the members range from hundreds to thousands . If one goes through the profile of the members of this community , its not necessarily the urban Indian youth . A quick glance of the membership profile of these communities would reveal that there is a fair percentage of people from the semi-urban and rural India . I randomly looked at the posts of the Samajwadi Party -orkut community and it was not surprising to see that community members are already using it as an election tool .

In addition to the Orkut communities dedicated to specific political parties , there are communities based on locations -for instance , there are communities dedicated to Navi Mumbai and also for Nerul ( a nodal town in Navi Mumbai ,where I presently reside..) , it will not be long before the local corporator starts using it to reach people in his constituency (Nerul has 2,000 members and Navi Mumbai has almost 7,000 members...and these numbers are growing rapidly) . Cynics will call it 'the spray and pray strategy..... try what you can.....see what sticks," . While at this point in time , given the numbers and the Internet penetration in our country it could be "spray and pray" , but I believe that with the rise of usage of social networking sites (across India) and the increase of bandwidth will make this a reasonably viable channel for electoral battles .......what do you think ?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Extending the offshore model - Tutorvista

The financial viability of the Indian offshore model has been proved beyond doubt by the India IT services industry. However in-spite of the growth of the IT services business, it is important to extend the offshore model to other areas of professional services. In an earlier post I had indicated possible areas where the offshore model could be extended seamlessly, my favorite being learning management. I had discussed this idea with Basab Pradhan –CEO of Gridstone Research and a former colleague of mine from Infosys. Basab listened to my idea with great attention and opined that for an offshore service to be successful it’s important to ensure that the “degrees of freedom” for the client is minimized. He essentially meant that the customization requirements must be kept under control. According to him learning management runs a risk of high degree of customization of content (based on the clients ever changing needs…), which could probably make it difficult to build a scalable business model. Basab’s concept of “degrees of freedom” stayed with me and I started scanning the environment for possible ideas which could extend and or redefine the offshore model and its applications beyond IT services………… I found the application the offshore tution model that Tutorvista has developed …….

TutorVista, is a Bangalore based online tuition's company , which aims to attract middle-class parents by providing online, one-on-one access to Indian tutors at rates far below those of conventional tutors in the US or UK . Tutorvista recruits Indian graduates and after an extensive training on the company’s technology and the accent neutralization assigns them students. Unlike learning management, wherein the content can be debated by the client and therefore is susceptible to multiple design iterations, an offering like online tuition's can be standardized if Tutorvista adheres to national and state standards and is fully cognizant of the requirements of the local school district or student's college. If tutors use the same textbooks and reference materials it ensures that the tutoring is relevant and useful. Tutorvista has signed up 950 students in the US and has recently tied up with publisher HarperCollins to provide the same service in the UK.
I have contacted K Ganesh the CEO of Tutorvista, and he has agreed to give me an exclusive interview on the business model, the value proposition and his vision for the company …..Keep an eye on my blog to learn more about Tutorvista and how it’s the next big thing out of India…….keep reading ….

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Citigroup to move jobs to India- Time to rejoice ??

The New York Times carried a report today (27 March 2007) about Citi's plans of a major financial restructuring effort . Approximately 26,000 jobs will be either cut or reassigned to manage its operating costs . A large part of the reassigned jobs are expected to come to India . Citi India already has a large presence with 22,000 people which is supposed to grow even further with this announcement .

Charles O. Prince III Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Citigroup quoted...“We will consolidate and simplify our back offices around the world,....Traditionally, India has been a beneficiary of that.”

Most of us will be elated with this announcement , more global jobs coming into India , more employment opportunities for us ....however I would present a slightly contrary point of view .

a) Moves like this have an impact on Brand India ( ....Back-office destination of the world ) ...more and more corporates look at India as a source of cheap labor (which at one level is good , but does not auger well for national competitiveness in the long run)....I am sure India is not interested to be merely a back office operations of entities that want to manage cost....and more so when we have such a vibrant talent pool

b) India gets prominence through announcements such as these , I would like to know the extent of international media coverage on the Tata-Corus or Hindalco-Novelis deals . .....both the stories were covered by the New York Times ....but in a very matter of fact announcements.

As a nation we have lot more to offer than back office outsourcing ...don't you think so ? , and are you still happy with this announcement let me know

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Flattening of Politics -YouTube

Technology and the internet is changing the way knowledge and content are being created, shared and debated and also challenging the notion of "content is king" . Three companies that have done well during the post -bubble resurgence are Google , Apple and YouTube . None of them create content , they distribute it ......YouTube is one of the latest kids on the block which has created a huge market cap riding on the back of content created by others . Founded in Feb 2005 , YouTube is a popular free sharing video website which lets users upload, view, and share video clips .

Politics has recently found an application for the YouTube . Political candidates for the 2008 Presidential election have started using YouTube as a channel for advertising their candidacy. Voters can easily look up propaganda and make videos supporting or demoting presidential candidates of their own, specifically those for Obama and Hillary Clinton .

YouTube creates an avenue for easy distribution of campaign material , therefore changing the rules of the election game significantly. If you do a search on "political campaigns" in the YouTube website , the amount of available content is significant

I am hoping to see Indian political parties use this as a campaign tool within the next ten years (ten years because it will take that much time for a critical mass of internet penetration in our rural areas for it to be of use to the political parties ) . Hopefully if political content is shared seamlessly, the significant by-products of such a process are :

a) Politicians will be forced to promise what they can deliver

b) Responsibility and accountability in the campaign process (now the entire content will be available on the world wide web and hence the political parties cannot have selective amnesia)

c) Issues of national importance can be documented , archived and retrieved by a common voter , who can then use all this data to make an informed choice .

The YouTube has the potential to change the way political campaigns work and hopefully it will make a big difference to the political processes in our country........

Social Trap -The BPO Agent

My post on the Talent Trap a week ago, has evoked some interesting responses , some of my friends recognized the implications, while some others felt that development is an individual issue and there are limitations to the extent that an employer can facilitate development .....I believe that the truth is somewhere in between , however the responses to my post has inspired me to look at another phenomenan which I would like to call the social trap . In this post , I would examine the dimensions of the social trap based on my personal experience with the call center industry .......

Circa 2005 , location Bangalore , venue- founder's day of a prominent call center company. I was the guest of the CEO and travelled all the way from Mumbai with an air of expectancy ....

The celebrations began with the ceremonial speech by the CEO , followed by honoring the exceptional employees of the year ...somewhat similar to the old economy .......but then it all started ........they called it a culture show ........I have seen cultural shows before but this was different ...the kids were attired in costume which were indeed global ( I hope you get what i actually mean!!) and were putting up a performance which was far beyond my imagination , in terms of choreography , professionalism etc etc ......I felt like a dinosaur and looked at my colleague and told him " P -this is indeed brilliant ....he responded saying -Welcome to the world of the BPO..." , i said to myself , I wished i worked in this sector ......however the real story unfolded a bit later ....

The Social Trap -Evidence 1

The show had some event managers who decided that they would randomly select some employees from the floor and engage with them on the dias .....a good idea if executed well....the first guy to come on the dias was a decent looking Kannada fellow and this is what happened thereafter .....

The Event Manager (E) - Hi , thanks for coming to the dias , whats your name ?

Respondent - Namez Jerry (he meant my names is..)..... I will refer to him as J from now on ...

Me- The fellow looks like Jawant Gowda , or Janardhana Murthy or J Karnard ....why does he call himself Jerry ....well it did not take time for me to realise that Call center agents have American names which helps them to be more acceptable to their customers . However , I tried hard to put myself in his situation and failed to understand why I would not call myself Niladri and automatically respond as Niel (even if i worked in the call center industry...) ...I told myself "this is a different generation so don't be judgmental ".....

What happened thereafter is even more shocking ......

E- So what did you do all day

J - I kinda , woke up in the morn and called up my gal ...and told her ,need some kinda time to shit .....and then take her out for a date .....then the unmentionables which i prefer not to document even in a harmless post like this ......the accent was perfect ...i had heard people speak like that in the Mid-west

Me- have I heard him right , did he say shit ? , was my automatic response ...of course he did , these people talk about morning chores in gay abandon in a public gathering ...!! . I decided to do some further investigation on the background of J , and as I would have expected , J comes from the outskirts of Bangalore , from a place called Maddur .

For those of us who are unaware of Maddur , it's a hamlet on the Bangalore -Mysore road and most of the villagers are probably agriculturists ...and J is probably the first generation that has ventured out to the city for easy cash ...thanks to the BPO industry

The more I thought about J the more i was perplexed , a part of me bowed down with reverence to the captains of the IT and IT enabled services for having provided employment to thousands of people like J , the other part of the me thought about the Social trap ....according to me you are in a social trap when " displacement without moderation happens from your roots and are transported to a make believe world , which is not yours and never will be.."

J was transported to a world , where he talks like an american , apes them in whatever he does , but at the end of the day retires to his small one room apartment in some non-descript ,pot-hole infested part of the city....he is trapped between two cultures and he is too young to realise it .......

Social Trap- Evidence 2

I like frequenting discotheques and in my younger days have been a reasonable party animal haunt in Bangalore is a place called "Spin" . In this visit , I went to Spin with a couple of old friends of mine . Before we proceed any further, I would like to also tell you that I have a bad habit of observing people in public places like disco's ...and i have been doing this for years .... I find great pleasure in spotting the BTM 's (Behenjis Turned Modern ) in Delhi ..the Ghatis in Mumbai , etc etc ..... I was not hoping to see something like that in Bangalore ...but to my surprise , I say this young group of gals in their late teens and early twenties ...dressed in (not skimpy, but close enough) colorful attire coming in ......I asked my well informed friend...who are these people .....pat came the reply...BPO kids .....

I went closer to the group and observed them , the ladies were wearing contemporary fashion but in wierd color combo's , hair done up in geen and brown.....a fascinating variant of the BTM's .....they were calling themselves Steffi , Anna, , I am sure their names are Saritha , Anitha , Sunitha , and after the voice and culture acclimatization program ....they have morphed into Steffi , Anna and Stacy......and have taken to smoking , drinking ....and who knows what else

I am not judgemental about personal preferences and habits , but the feeling i was left with was that these young people have gotten themselves wonderfully in the "social trap" and like J have no clue about its implications .

After a few years the attractiveness of the BPO industry will come down (it's already coming down with shrinking margins and commodatization) and as these young people grow old their salaries will not be enough to sustain a life style of a Steffi or a J ....once you have a bad habit , it stays with you for long ........and few years in the BPO , I am sure they will find it difficult to relate to their parents , their peers (who did not go to a BPO) , their cousins , etc ....and would definitely not migrate to the US what's in store for these trapped people ? , where do they go from here now ....what suggestions do you have to give them....pls write it me this is serious.........

Friday, March 23, 2007

Going offshore -lessons for Indian IT services industry

I accidentally came across a Gartner blogpost written by Partha Iyengar and Rolf Jester in 2004 which was interesting reading .... The blog is a summary of a management update which talks about 8 factors that companies need to keep in mind before before going offshore , however in the post the authors talk about Cost , IP protection and Cross cultural orientation (if you want to know about all the 8 factors , you will have to shell out approx USD 100 to Gartner .......) . These were true in 2004 , and its applicability is only going to increase as the outsourcing deals become larger in size and more complex to execute .

I thought that it might be worthwhile to examine these 3 broad elements and its possible implications on the IT services industry in India

Cost :The authors advise their clients to be acutely aware of the total cost of the move ,which is going beyond the labour arbitrage that Indian IT service companies provide. In spite and despite all our claims about moving up the value chain in terms of IT solutions and providing strategic sourcing options to the clients , the real value proposition of our industry is still cost arbitrage . The questions to ask is: With a rising wage bill how do we manage the cost attractiveness ???........I would believe that the answer lies in superior knowledge management processes . I am aware that Infosys has a strong enough KM initiative lead by my good friend Dr JK Suresh (JKS) , but i am not sure if the KM function measures its effectiveness in the context of overall cost management for the firm (to put it simplistically better knowledge capture would lead to the re-use of knowledge and hence improve per unit productivity thereby reducing costs...) ...I am no expert in the field , its a thought for the experts like JKS to ponder about ......

Intellectual Property : I would go beyond the author's concern for IP re-transfer and would say that as a country our sensitivity to IP issues is really low . I have seen proprietary manuals being photocopied and transfered to people and calling the methodologies as our own...does it sound familiar ....???. It's time we grew out of the copying syndrome and respect somebody else's work and give due credit to IP

Cross Cultural Orientation - I could probably write a thesis on the subject , but would stop at saying that cultural orientation is far beyond etiquette tips ...hope the Learning Manager in the Wipro's , Infy's and TCS 's of the world are listening .........

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Value-Chain – Perspectives from a Co-Founder of a Technology Startup

In this post , I interview Mr Neelesh Marik (Sr VP and Business Head of EMEA–Value Chain) with a hope to understand the business model , the value proposition and people issues that Value Chain faces in building up a solution which could radically change the use of information in managing businesses .

Business Background - Value Chain is in the business of providing IP based “Productized Solutions” wherein they hope to deliver the following:

a) Ability to handle and manage Information of multiple types and disparate sources
b) Ability to provide business process optimization across multiple units, and outside the enterprise, across the value chain
c) Ability to bring in people collaboration in exception and decision points seamlessly and in guaranteed manner

…..thereby enabling the client organization to get relevant information about its businesses and act on that information rapidly.

Value Chain works on a Intellectual Property (IP) centric model and unlike Indian IT service providers is not a labor intensive operation. It would be safe to assume that the issues of managing talent and performance are radically different from normal enterprises

Hi Neelesh –Thanks for participating in this interview, I have a few questions to ask of you on the business model and the related challenges of Performance and Talent , here they go:

Q1: Would like to know about your value proposition and how does the data-information aggregation lead to creation of business value for your clients. Probably you could explain it with an example from the publishing industry

Publishers can benefit in 2 ways by working with us:

a) Leveraging our data transformation and content monetization solutions to create, manage and distribute their intellectual property in a rapidly digitizing environment

b) Leveraging our business performance improvement solutions to improve KPIs in volatile and complex challenges such as production process synchronization, distribution channel management and sales process effectiveness

Q-2 : Your services do make a lot of sense on paper , but I would presume that it requires a lot of product evangelization amongst clients for them to understand the value proposition , how do you create traction for the solutions of Value-Chain (assuming that the sale is largely different than an IT services selling process)

We try to relate our solutions to real life problems in a specific industry value chain. Our solutions are about finding out the underlying drivers to business performance, how real time visibility to those root cause correlations can empower business users, and helping them model, automate, monitor and control the business processes to continuously improve operational performance. The principles are the same: but the trick is to find the relevant industry reference models that help client executives relate to those principles to their day-to-day lives.

So for a Production Controller in a publishing company the challenge is schedule adherence of the finished product and ancillary products through a complex network of internal and external stakeholders, each with their dependencies, constraints, and service levels.

For a hedge fund manager a key issue in quick testing of his proprietary investment hypothesis against historical market data, and real time deployment of that model in the marketplace through timely trades.

For an insurance underwriter the cornerstone of effectiveness is real time risk analysis based on the very latest ‘significant event’ and inputting that into rating and pricing strategies in a marketplace where regulatory and competitive rules are highly dynamic.

The three examples above may sound like completely different problems, but at the core is the ability (or inability) to track real time transactional information, sense ‘opportunity or threat’ patterns from the information flows, and respond quickly through automated workflows or manual interventions.

Q:3 – Your company is based on your ability to leverage the xml based IPR, that being the context how critical is innovation as a competency amongst your employees ?

That statement is not true. Xml transformation is just a means to an end – today largely leveraged for content digitization in the publishing industry.

Our core IP is as answered in the previous questions.

Q-4 – How do you reward innovation at an individual level, what are some of the metrics ? , Is your performance management system designed to identify innovators across your company – if so how ?

We have to yet evolve and formalize the above as we move forward– at this early stage we simply rely on more informal means of public and private acknowledgement.

Q-5 ; You have operations in India and how easy or difficult is it to hire the right talent from the Indian market , considering the fact that there might be very few people who have the skills sets that you could leverage

This is always a problem for any knowledge business. But it is less of a problem for us since our model is more IP centric. For the people intensive parts of our business, our tools/ IP help us in relative deskilling of the tasks and deliverables.

Q-6 : You don’t have an HR Head as of now , so how highly are your line managers engaged in HR processes and what has been your experience of running a people intensive industry without a full time HR Head

Since we are a small company we do not have the luxuries of too many elaborate support functions. Managing people, their aspirations, support needs, drive and productivity is something every line manager treats as one of their core responsibilities.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Technology enabled parenting (policing !!) –i-Kids Phone

I am a father of a 5 year old , who uses Google (all by himself ) to view cartoon sites and download games ( I don’t know how long will his usage of Google be restricted to cartoon sites only…the very thought gives me sleepless nights !! ….)

I have been watching him grow very rapidly in confidence and cognitive abilities in the last one year, and has started to explore the world on his own in the last few months. The newly found confidence of my kid son and his need to explore the world on his own is the context of this post, you could call it the post of a paranoid parent ……….

Neelabjo (my son) has a full time governess to take care of him during the day, in spite of strict controls that have been put on him, he managed to hoodwink her and was able to unlock the doors of the house to go out to play soccer with kids almost double his age and size. I have been quite disturbed after this incident and have reprimanded the governess for failing in her duties,......since then I have been trying to look for a robust solution…..and incredibly enough found one while surfing the net…..The solution comes from Björn Steiger Stiftung Services, a German company ........written about by Annette Zimmermann, Research Analyst at Gartner.

Björn Steiger Stiftung, has introduced something special this Christmas for the German mobile market: the i-Kids phone featuring the so-called "Life Service Kids." This service is based on GPS technology that enables parents to locate their children over Internet or WAP service. In addition, parents can determine a "safe zone" for their offspring and will be notified via SMS should the child leave this pre-selected area. Björn Steiger Stiftung Services has exclusive rights to the device provided by Australian-based company mobiles2go throughout Germany. One of its most important security features is the "panic button." When this button is activated, the phone automatically dials the four predetermined numbers one after the other. If there is no answer, a connection is established to an emergency service center, or - and this is the light version of the service - the four contacts will be informed via SMS. The device is very basic and allows full cost control for the parent. The phone has no number keypad but comes with four buttons, which enables the child to speed-dial four numbers. Text messages can be received but not sent, let alone any other fun stuff such as music downloads and ring tones. While it is not certain which age bracket this phone is geared to, yet the features and the design suggest that this handset is targeted at a very young user group: 5- to 7-year-olds.

The rate at which technology devices are being adapted across multiple geographies is not funny and it may not be to long before parents like me in India have an option of i-Kid phone ......... call it policing , bad parenting …but I would welcome such a device to keep a tab on my son …..

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Open Letter to the CEO of the Services Industry

Dear Mr /Ms Chief Executive Officer,

Let me congratulate you on the growth figures that you have been achieving quarter after quarter, across the sector (be it financial services , IT Services , BPO , KPO…etc ) . I have been a bystander in your growth plans and have seen you treat me primarily as a recruitment engine or at best a person who can manage attrition .You have classified me as another support function ...(though not a part of your business think tank), you have made a choice to marginalize me in your strategy formulation and implementation processes, in many cases I have not found a position in your Board of Directors. I have seen myself as a victim of the situation and played a marginalized role that was carved out for me .

This letter is not a commentary on what has not happened, or could have happened and did not happen ...blah blah......but from now on, I want to take charge of the situation and make you sit up and take notice of what I have to offer. For a moment forget that I belong to a discipline called Human Resources, and reflect on what is the most important item of your operating expenses!!, even for me it’s a no-brainer , its people costs , isn’t it ?? (The wage bill, the cost of managing attrition, the cost of hiring all put together). So what do you want to do with this line item of your operating costs , don’t you want to derive maximum value out of it , don’t you want to ensure that these costs are under control , so that your bottom line does not get adversely impacted… will it be wrong to say that I, (your incompetent HR man ) actually manage your supply chain ….sounds silly doesn’t it …suspend your judgment for a while and read the following paragraph ...

Think of a classical supply chain – (even at the risk of oversimplification, a Supply Chain process would broadly constitute inbound and outbound logistics), what is a supply chain in your industry? – people of course. Like your peer in the manufacturing sector wouldn’t you like optimize your sourcing costs and also make your outbound logistics more efficient …I am sure you would agree emphatically …..In this context let me reposition myself as your Supply Chain Manager. I could play around with your hiring patterns to ensure that I get the work done at a lower price point (ex- For a KPO I can hire brilliant college grads at a cheaper rate and with some help of technology can ensure that they do the same work that those guys from the biz schools do, at a cheaper cost to you…sounds interesting?). I could align the rewards program and incentivize hi-performers differentially, thereby directly adding to your margins –the appraisal forms that you and your managers loathe is a business process tool to ensure that we reward the right people for the right behaviors (competencies), I could help your underperformers to be more productive, thereby reducing the cost of your “slow moving inventory”. I could ensure that the workforce is engaged by designing retention schemes so that “there is no loss in transit” of your goods …..I am sure you will find value in what I have to offer – would you please help me to help you!!

Lets meet and discuss in details the exciting possibilities that both of us can create

Yours truly,

The People Supply Chain Manager

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Talent Trap-The Cost of Development ?

Yesterday after work, I had logged into my system and had a G Talk conversation with a former colleague of mine (Mr J), who is a very senior manager in the manufacturing sector. He quit his job a couple of years ago and took up an international assignment. In the next paragraph, I am replaying the conversation without getting into the exchange of pleasantries and trivia which approximately took approximately five minutes
Mr J:……….. you know my nephew ….the young chap you met when you came to my home ……has decided not to pursue higher education

I was quite surprised , I had spend a couple of hours with this kid (J’s nephew…) and the entire conversation was about his studies and how he wants to set himself up for success by pursuing a good degree and thereafter an MBA from a top tier school …….

Me: What happened to him? …he was supposed to do a MBA …….why did he quit….

Mr J: God only knows, he has joined a KPO and is getting paid well…he tells me that’s where the future lies and not in traditional education …….. his peers from college have joined the same place …this company came to campus and …….that’s that

Me: You mean bright kids now opt for a career in KPO’s and then don’t want to pursue higher education …

After the conversation I called up some HR Managers and recruiters in the KPO business, and to my surprise they confirmed that they have started picking up smart college graduates to work for them as Junior Analysts , according to these people it made good sense to get the number crunching done by lower cost resources and hence this shift in the recruitment pattern . It sounded very logical to me, however I quizzed them on career management plans for these young people. As I would have expected , HR was too busy in hiring and on boarding them and had no time to think about career management….This was exactly the genesis of this post ….the unintended consequences of development.

As a country we are in the midst of a transformation ,shedding our image as a backward, centrally controlled economy to a nation with one of the best talent pools with a very favorable demographic profile (Nearly 60 per cent of our population between the ages 15-59, and more than half below the age of 25. In contrast, countries including the US, Europe, Japan and China have a more aged population with dependency ratios likely to increase over the same period) ……but are we slowly and surely getting caught into what I call a “talent trap”…..

The Talent Trap

The Talent Trap is a situation wherein the best of our college grads get attracted to KPO jobs and do not pursue higher education…which creates a fundamental void in the pipeline for managerial jobs. What could possibly happen in the next ten years, the attractiveness of the KPO industry as an employer would reduce (higher automation, process improvements, would gradually take away the knowledge component of these jobs and make it boring –like a BPO job) and therefore these bright kids of today (in absence of proper career planning by their employers …which I suspect is what is going to happen) will land themselves in a situation where their employability would reduce. As a consequence the nation would have lost a lot of bright young minds, and the young people would not have any meaningful careers to look forward to.

To put the talent trap phenomenan in context, I had posed this question to a global executive whom I met after three years in Mumbai this Sunday (11 March 2007). He recognized the issue and his response was that this happens in developed countries, there are lots of examples in the US where people choose not to go to Wharton or a Harvard and pursue a stress free career all their lives. I agree that this happens in the US, but the contexts are different:

a) India’s currency to development is its talent, and the right kind of talent doing the right kind of job. Which this essentially means is that the best of our brains should pursue higher education and contribute differentially than others in the process?,while I support the HR initiatives that NASSCOM is taking to improve the quality of the workforce for the classical BPO operations (NASSCOM Assessment of Competence (NAC),Certification Program for Frontline Management etc ..), these KPO hiring have a large impact on the competitiveness of the nation .

b) The context of US and India are a bit different. As a developed nation US can probably afford to have a percentage of its brightest college grads take up “easy” jobs, which is a choice that an informed individual is making in that county. However as far as India is concerned ,I am not too sure if the young kids are making an informed choice , they are attracted by the money , the fancy name that they work for , and the team parties that are thrown occasionally , for them it’s a good happening place to be…who cares for education anyways ….. are we converting the best talent into mediocre people by this process…!!!

c) It makes eminent sense for the businesses to hire such people (cost advantages …) in the short run, but it sucks away the cream of talent thereby depleting the managerial pipeline of the nation. I also recognize the fact that these venture funded KPO’s need to manage costs and show performance on a quarter on quarter basis , but in the long run it's going to land itself in a situation where it would have a workforce which is demotivated and expensive ( considering the hikes that are given in the sector..) hence the question that I would like to pose here is “does it really make business sense , in the long term to hire such resources ,though there are obvious gains in the short run…”

So where does all of this leave us , assuming that hiring bright minds for KPO jobs is a reality and the immediacy of financial pressures will make it difficult for the employers to recognize the long term ramifications of this hiring ….. the only solution lies in a structured process of Talent Development (not a fancy word , it's different from simply training ) , so that the careers and the abilities of these young people are not eroded over time ….what do you think ? , do write in …..

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tata-Corus Deal : Expert Opinion

I am delighted to post the view points of Mr Joy Kumar Jain -Executive Director , PricewaterhouseCoopers -India on the Tata-Corus deal . In the interview Joy talks about the naunces of the deal and its implications


Joy Jain is a brilliant Chartered Accountant who rose to partnership of PwC at a very early age. Joy specalises in valuations of business , share valuation, valuation of property, plant and equipment, valuation of intangible assets, purchase price allocations Financial due diligence reviews, corporate restructuring


Q1 –Joy , what do you think are the drivers for the TataCorus deal , from a strategy perspective?

Steel Industry globally is still fragmented. The top five steel makers control only about 20% of the global production as against Aluminium where the top five producers have 40% of the market share. Transactions like this would strengthen the ongoing consolidation in the Industry. It is clear that further consolidation will soon take place. The cyclical nature of the industry means that low-volume, high-cost producers have to generate sufficient cash or create a strong enough borrowing position during market peaks to survive the market troughs. The sector is still very fragmented and cannot therefore control its raw materials costs or the price of its finished goods. Arguably, the only way to counteract the situation is to acquire other steelmakers and become a larger player on the global scene, thereby obtaining greater bargaining power with suppliers and customers, and increased operating flexibility. It will ultimately ensure they are better able to survive, should iron ore prices keep soaring. Further, there are parts of the World which have surplus steel production and other parts of the World which do not have adequate production capacities. Such mergers will enable companies to freely move steel from surplus production areas to shortage areas. The need to consolidate, reduce over capacity and to secure greater market clout will only accelerate the process of mergers and acquisitions in the steel industry.

Additionally, as Corus has offices in various parts of the World, the Corus acquisition will boost Tata Steel’s reach in the global market and providing access to customers in Europe and elsewhere, thereby boosting its exports out of India. Higher Exports would mean higher utilisation levels resulting in higher operating margins for Tata Steel. Corus is also likely to gain with the deal as they would have access to untapped iron ore reserves of India. Both, Tata Steel and Corus will be able to draw on each other global facilities which will improve their attractiveness to institutional and other investors leading to better valuations. Additionally, Tata Steel will benefit from the rich R&D facilities and a number of patents owned by Corus. The deal makes Tata-Corus combined entity the fifth largest steel maker in the World. This will improve Tata Steel’s bargaining position both with the suppliers as well as with its customers. Further, additional synergies can be secured by integrating the operations of both the entities to the extent possible.

Q 2 – Well all of us have read about the deal in the newspapers but am not too sure if we understand the nuances of the deal from a financial perspective. What according to you are the three top features of the deal which differentiates this one

Per Tata Steel, it has paid a premium of 49% over closing mid market share price of Corus on October 4, 2006 and a premium of over 68% over the average closing mid market price over the twelve months ended on that date. Further the price paid also represents a significant premium on the PE multiples prevailing in the metals industry. The price paid is a factor of synergies that Tata Steel perceives it will be able to obtain pursuant to this deal. Further, the total deal value is much lower than what it would have cost Tata Steel to set up equivalent production capacity today.

Another element of the deal is the confidence that International banks/investors now have on the Indian Corporates. This deal requires Tata’s to raise a huge amount of debt to buy out the shares. The fact that they have been able to put the financing in place for such a large amount differentiates it from other deals.

Q 3 –What are the implications of this deal of the Tata Steel balance sheet and its profitability

While there would not be a significant implication on Tata Steel’s stand alone balance sheet, the deal would make its consolidated balance sheet very large. On a consolidated basis, the leverage/debt gearing would also go up substantially. However, they may not be a significant increase in consolidated earnings as it would depend upon the accounting and amortization of intangible assets acquired by Tata as a part of the deal.

Q4 – The media believes that it is indeed a landmark deal, what are your views on the same, what are the key things that the Tata’s need to be wary of to derive maximum value from the deal?

This is indeed a landmark deal from the point of view of Indian corporate history though relatively small in the global M&A space. Tata’s will have to ensure that they obtain maximum synergies from integrating Corus’ operations with theirs as well as make the best use of R&D facilities of Corus to derive maximum value from the deal. Also they will have to ensure that they have the confidence of workers to obtain maximum value. It may not be easy for an Indian company to obtain confidence of European Workers. However, Tata’s have the experience of Tetley acquisition with them which will help them in this regard.

Q-5 – What are the implications of the deal for the country (India) , what does these large deals do to the brand of the nation, (Brand India ).

Deals like this definitely catapult the nation into top of the mind recall for various corporate honchos internationally. It make them sit up and take notice of the country. Further it sends out positive signals since the country is no longer dependant on inward remittances but is actually investing overseas.

Q-6 –Of late , India has been known more for its IT Services and BPO, does this deal change the face of Indian manufacturing ?

The deal does not really change the face of Indian manufacturing. Of late, a lot of Indian companies, particularly in auto components and pharmaceutical sectors have been making overseas acquisitions. The net FDI outgo from India in 2006 was higher than the net FDI inflow into the country in that year and these numbers are excluding TataCorus and Vodafone-Hutch deals.

India would need to improve manufacturing’s share in its GDP to continue with or exceed the 8% growth rate as it is only manufacturing sector which has the capability of providing both direct and indirect employment to a large mass of people along with various spin-off benefits.

q- 7-What people capabilities are required to derive maximum value from deals such as these

Companies require adequate management bandwidth to be able to manage such large acquisitions. Management needs to be capable of completing the integration quickly and as mentioned above get the confidence of the local management and workers to ensure maximum value from such deals.

Laloo vs Chidambaram -Who is a Leader??

The objective of this post is to make an attempt to compare the Union Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav (LP) and the Union Finance Minister Mr Chidambaram (PC) as leaders.

This however is not a research based exercise of collecting data over time and discussing the respective leadership styles of these gentlemen , but a limited effort of comparing them in the context of the recent budgets that they presented (The Railway budget and the Union Budget)

Backgrounds –

PC – Harvard Educated , suave , MP from Sivaganga , well known for his pro-market reforms and and for his bold steps to abolish red tape during his earlier tenure as finance minister between 1996 and 1998.

LP- The leader of the backward castes , has used caste equations to the hilt to win elections , has no credibility with the urban folks, the rustic ,uneducated village bumpkin , a man who would be ridiculed by most of us (me strongly included) . Image tarnished by the fodder scam, installed his wife as CM of Bihar and ruled the state through proxy

In the next few paragraphs, I am attempting to compare LP and PC based on the following 3 parameters only.

a) The Budget Speech
b) Reaction to the budgets
c) Implications on national development

I will not end this post with an evaluation , that is something that I leave my reader to do ……..

The Budget Speech:

LP engaged the audience with his rustic charm, as if he was addressing a rally in Champaran or Madhubani . The rival MP’s did not have much to say, the budget speech sailed through ……

PC was in his best English, he spoke in a manner which very few people in the country understand (and those who do don’t go to vote anyways…). I guess there was not much rancour in the parliament, considering the ability of our MP’s to comprehend reasonable English, I was not surprised, …..did they understand enough to comment on the content ??……. After the Budget speech , journalists asked PC the definition of the Aam Admi (or the common man…remember the common man ….and the Congress slogan…Congress ka haath Aam Admi ke saath…) . PC responded by defining the common man in about 5 minutes, and the definition of the common man was more philosophical and would obfuscate the most erudite listener, when the same question was asked to LP he comes back with a sharp and succinct reply ,the Aam admi is the backbencher of society whom LP wants to bring to the front benches

To me this is an example which displays rare clarity of thought and PC with all his erudition leaves the aam admi confused …!!

Reactions to the Budget

PC’s budget was labeled as regressive by the industry captains and also by his left wing allies ,Sitaram Yechury displayed his angst in public. Kapil Sibal tried hard to bail him out in the post budget discussions, but failed miserably

LP’s railway budget was looked upon as progressive and developmental, industry captains like Rahul Bajaj , and prominent people like Tarun Das hailed LP and his team's efforts

Implications on National development

PC’s budget was not seen to be growth friendly, the protagonists of his budget say that he has assumed that the industry would do well anyways and therefore he wanted to take away some things from them and to allocate it to the other sectors. People like me (the naysayer to this budget) would like to draw your attention to the increase in the Education Cess .Without a clear gameplan for its utilization it is indeed a regressive move (for additional perspectives on Education Cess you may want to read my previous post titled Education Cess-Lost opportunity for inclusive development . Well this is however a long debate and without going into the deadly details of the budget and its implications, its safe to assume that the Budget did not make either Corporate India or the Left parties happy.

LP’s railway budget reflected a clear game plan of process improvement, efficiencies, commercialization - a strategy that is clearly evident from the last 3 budgets that he has presented ( for some more details you may want to read my post on Laloo and Leadership ??- url: . I would suspect by not increasing the railway fares he did win a lot of goodwill from the Indian public.

I would like to leave my readers with the following questions:

a)Is PC the apostle of development? , or has times changed and the new messiah for inclusive development is LP !!

b)Can PC carry out the agenda of reforms through seamless execution , or do you need a hard task master like LP ?

c) Who is more equipped to spread the gains of development to larger sections of society –PC whose ability to connect with the masses is limited or LP who is the darling of the backward castes …!!

d)Is sophistication the only yardstick for acceptance of leadership by the urban elite?

These are my questions, and I am sure you have many such questions and parameters ….I would like to hear from you, .....your views and perspectives on the same ….looking forward to your comments on this subject


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Whats wrong with our education !!

Educational Initiatives (EI) and Wipro Applying Thought in Schools jointly conducted a national level research study to understand how well children are learning in the top schools of our country. Over 32,000 students from 142 leading schools of five metros - Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore participated in the tests conducted between February and April 2006. The November 27th issue of India Today carries a cover story highlighting some of the main findings of the study.

I encourage all of you to go through the Executive Summary of the report and if possible the whole report (70 pages). I am sure you will find it very interesting .....

Does the internet spell doom for the expert?

From time immemorial the world of trade has been fueled by a phenomena which the economists refer to as information asymmetry. Information asymmetry happens when information or data is scattered and not easily accessible to the common man . Hence the individual who has access to a large pool of information (we shall call him an expert) is at an advantage vis-à-vis the common man (buyer). For age’s information asymmetry and the ability of some individuals to hoard information has created opportunities for experts to make money. Consider this for an example; my young friend takes up a job in Mumbai , after accepting the offer , the next problem is that of housing. She has no clue of what an apartment would cost her and based on advise from friends and colleagues, she approaches a real estate agent. The agent shows her a few apartments near to her workplace and after a few rounds she settles for one. After a few months of moving into the apartment she discovers that she is overpaying her landlord. Why did this happen to her , the answers are blatantly obvious

a) She was forced to rely on the so-called expert –real estate broker to get the only available data on the rentals market

b) There was no published information about rentals, which she could access and therefore challenge the expert

The expert relied on information asymmetry to make a neat commission on the inflated rentals .As you would all agree that this is a very common example (duped by the broker…) , while this is a very small but potent example of information asymmetry , if you look around your lives you will find many more , remember the used car dealer from whom you bought your first car ?…the examples are countless .

However the Internet and the zillions of pages of content is gravely wounding information asymmetries of all kinds. As a medium the Internet is brilliant in shifting information from the hands of those who have it, into the hands of those who don’t and therefore bringing much more equality in the expert and buyer relationship.

Consider the following websites :

All these website are examples of how Internet makes the role of the expert redundant. In the first case you know the price of used cars in different parts of India , sorted by model and location , in the second case - lenders compete against each other for your business and in the third case (, - a virtual comparative data bank of life insurance policies .

What does these three websites do to the used car salesman, the home loan dealer and the insurance policy seller ……the answer is makes him redundant !!!

Well when I spoke to my friend who is a senior consultant in the Big 4 , he said well “the Internet can make some kinds of experts redundant …not all ….we management consultants, accountants and lawyers will have no problems , the net can do no harm”.

For all of us who ascribe to this point of view here is another link which might surprise you (

these are research papers given out for free by HayGroup which is a leading global HR consulting firm . I wanted some information on Potential Assessment and in normal situation I would have sough the advise of an expert in the field , but I simply did a google with a few intelligent keywords and here I was with all the information I wanted on the subject to get me started ……..So in a nutshell , the Internet makes all of us so called experts redundant if we only trade in “information

So where does this leave all of us (the so called experts ) , here are my suggestions and would like to hear from others as well

a) Migrate from providing information to dealing with insights (Insight defines as acute observation ,deduction; discernment; perception)

b) Recognize the predict the future of your chosen field of activity , rather than perpetually analyzing the past (past data , trends etc…this will help you be ahead of the information asymmetry game …)

I would like to conclude by saying that experts in almost all walks of life are threatened by the Internet and its time for us to reinvent ourselves and provide services that are not only based on data , but also on our insights and our abilities to predict the future than in dwelling in the past …….what do you think ? , like to hear from you ..?

Teleworking and Management Beliefs in India

Consider the following:

a)Sun Microsystems reported a savings of USD 300 million during the past 3 years as a result of its iWork Program

b)Cisco Systems distributed work strategy reports a return on investment of 300% resulting from real estate savings and reduced employee turnover

c) IBM has nearly all of its employees working on telework basis , It reports an aggregate savings of USD 500 million a year in real estate , training and HR support costs

d)The county of Los Angeles reduced employee turnover by 25% for its telework population


These are early indicators of the fact that teleworking and distributed workforces are increasing becoming a trend in workforce management. This post of mine explores the possibility and implications of tele-working as a practice in India and also leaves the reader with some questions which s/he might want to explore

Before we go any further its important to understand the definition of teleworking. Telework as defined by the International Telework Advisory Council (ITAC) is “the ability to work anytime, anyplace, using remote access connectivity and mobile technology”

Teleworking –Implications for Indian organizations

As we have seen Teleworking makes eminent business sense, but the implementation of a teleworking program represents a fundamental change in the organization to the extent that employees are empowered to decide where and when they work. The shift of power over the individuals work mode from the management to the employee represents a major shift in management philosophy. The question to ask is whether Indian organizations recognize this change and have the ability to adapt and make the most of the opportunity that teleworking presents as a tool.

I spoke to a few colleagues about the concept of teleworking in their organizations and got a mixed response. The responses varied from rejection of the idea to some amount of acknowledgement of its possibilities, the common issues raised by these managers were as follows:

1) Loss of Supervisory control
2) Employee isolation and loss of company loyalty
3) Inability to work in teams –real-time
4) Logistics issues of coordinating a virtual workforce
5) Infrastructure issues

When I reflect on the issues raised by my colleagues, I am tempted to believe that most of us in India do have long-held beliefs about the supervisors role, company culture and employee trustworthiness, thus moving to a telework program maybe considered as high risk.

I was of the opinion that in India’s services sector the beliefs of the role of the supervisor would be fundamentally different from the manufacturing sector….I am not too sure of this any longer. My colleagues work in the services sector and their unstated belief is that a supervisor should be in control of the work products of his reports and its much more efficient to get “things done” when your reports are in physical proximity . This does not mean that teleworking is a non starter in India , companies like Infosys have some initiatives in this direction with remote access work locations for mothers ( however this is not teleworking , the way we would like to define it , but it’s a good start nevertheless..)

In Indian organizations where some form of teleworking is prevalent , it has the following characteristics :

a)Employees use personal computers or company laptops to work after office hours at home . Remote access card primarily support working after office hours and are not considered a primary work channel. Hence when these remote access cards are provided to the employee, its like giving him a tool to work “more after his stipulated working hours” and not to improve his productivity. I am not sure if this helps employee retention or morale…

b) Remote access devises is also used in the context of maintaining connectivity during travel. I used my data card during my Infosys days to keep in touch with my e-mail and service my customers ……

I believe that these manifestations have more fundamental causes (going far beyond the phenomenon of teleworking per se) which needs to be explored by all of us, I would leave the reader with the following questions to struggle with and while there may not be any right or wrong answers the solution to this could be in our collective struggle , and my questions are :

a) Do we really trust our employees?
b)Are we insecure as managers ?(do we need physical proximity to retain “control” over our teams)
c)Do we treat our employees the way we want to be treated ourselves?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Education Cess -lost opportunity for "Inclusive Development"

Yesterday the Finance Minister presented the Union Budget, I was busy all through the day and could not follow the budget speech, however in the evening , I coaxed my son Neelabjo to spare some TV viewing time for me (he is a Jetex and a Cartoon Network aficionado, and evenings are his TV time) …my son reluctantly agreed, and I got to watch the Budget highlights .

What I could gather from the Budget analysis was that Corporate India was not particularly happy with the outcomes to the extent somebody calling it a Budget of the 1980’s. Kapil Sibal (playing the role of the “boy on the burning deck”….) was trying hard to convince all and sundry that the Finance Minister and the UPA government were delivering to their promise , it was really hilarious to watch Mr Sibal , do what he was doing , he had very few takers ……

However what was most significant for me was the increase of the Education Cess from 2% to 3% which means an ordinary tax payer like me (aam aadmi ) has to shell out more on this account . My initial reactions to the increase of the Education Cess were favorable, but in a few minutes a lot of thoughts crossed my mind. I remembered the last general elections, the Congress and its slogan of “Congress ka haath, aam aadmi ka saath” (which essentially means that the Congress is with the common man). This electoral slogan probably helped the UPA to come to power and there are reasons to believe that the “Inclusive Development” theme was in good currency with the Indian electorate. Inclusive Development defined as -development which benefit all sections of society.

As a conscientious Indian citizen, I have been trying to look for evidences of inclusive development over the last few years and to me Education Cess was a tool to achieve this dream meaningfully. I believed that the amounts of money raised on this account would make a significant impact on the competitiveness of the nation, revamp the education system and build employable skills in Indian youth (remember 1% or half of the money was to be allocated to the improvement of the primary school system and the other half would be spend in vocation education – this made eminent sense to me, and I didn't crib when my pay slip reflected deductions on this account).

We are couple of years into the implementation of the Education Cess process , however yesterday I heard Mr Gopalkrishnan –ED Tata Sons and Naina Lal Kidwai –Chairperson HSBC India comment that the Education Cess was like a black hole , nobody knows what’s happening with the money . It was either Kapil Sibal or Ashiwini Kumar –Union Ministers who spoke about the Sarva Sikhsaya Abhiyan but their claims sounded so hollow and rhetorical …….. In addition to this the experts in this field pointed out that the government had made a good job only of allocation of some resources but the issues of implementation still remain a challenge

My views on this issue is similar , I think the Government is not quite sure of what its doing ….

In my blog post title “Mission –Primary Education” (dt Feb 26) , I had written about some indicators which could be helpful to measure the success of the governments efforts in this direction. Ironically there is no evidence to suggest that the government would have done a good job on any of the indices that I had referred to in my post.

I would like to draw your attention to the 5th metric that I had suggested in the post and it was about the drop out ratio in our schools. I had mentioned that the drop out rate after class 8 is alarming and in the vicinity of 55%, and Mr Sibal proudly announced that in this Budget 100,000 scholarships have been declared for students Class 8 and above – he would like us to believe that this is indeed a great move in the direction of inclusive development. Well a announcement of a scholarship scheme is indeed a good idea , but if you would clinically look at the phenomenan one would realize that it’s merely an act of resource allocation-nothing wrong with it , but a very tactical step . This might help in marginally reducing the level of drop outs and make it economically viable for some households to send their children to school, but am not sure if steps such as these would have any impact on increasing the standards of our education system.

I would like to submit that there is a common thread in terms of the responses that the Government has to the theme of inclusive development. Mr Arjun Singh argues that the reservation policy for higher education enables weaker sections of the society to improve their lot and therefore is inclusive development indeed…!!! , while there might be some merit in the argument , however I would argue that subsidies such as these do not help the country or the individual in the long run (these are like the subsidies that the public sector enjoyed for a long time …did not help profitability at all …) . Similar to the reservation policy, is the Education Cess implementation, there are tactical moves, while there might be some amount of thought in the allocation of resources, I think there ought to be far more imagination and detailing on issues which are more fundamental. And I repeat with anguish, where are the efforts on:

a) Curriculum Development (modernizing the curricula…)
b) Technology based Learning
c) Teacher Development
d) Examination reforms

I see none of these happening , it's painful to see that even in a relatively poor county like ours , we have raised the resources but now don’t know how to use it , and in doing so losing a great opportunity of development ….Mr Prime Minister, do you hear me …..!!!