How I would act if I am PM – My 2 cents

PM Modi may be right or may be wrong about his focus  to remove black money and time will say. I am concerned about the plight of the common man who paid his taxes and have no black money. While we can debate the pros and cons of the drive, let us focus on immediate problem today,

I agree that every implementation has challenges. My question always connects to whether PM Modi is working on ground to solve problem or expecting others to solve problem, being on foreign travels, while common man suffers. It is easy for me to have opinions and thoughts. Here are some of actions that I would take if I were PM.

Action 1: Digital approach  1: Setup monitoring room.

Ask his officials  and bank officials to  setup dashboard that shows summary of cash availability across all bank ATMs and branches in India.

  • When cash goes empty or close to empty in ATMS or branches, it shows red
  • When cash is available, it shows green

The dashboard should be be displayed state-wise and branch-wise. If  a bank ATM goes red, the bank CEO gets SMS and is expected to fix the same in next 2 hours.  This happens 24 hours and not during day hours. if officials need security, he can arrange for the same. Have a RBI representative for every state, any fault of ATM or branch in state should involve the representative working with bank officials to get this corrected in 2 hours.

Transparency: Expose above dashboard to public. Let public see how things are made effective by PM. Let banks get good marketing by making things work or  bad marketing when things are worse. The representative would give announcement of day’s progress in the evening to media at 6: 30 pm about how effective they were. PM  would consolidate and address the nation at 8 pm.

Servant Leadership: Let PM walk down and get cash in bank ATM. Let him do this at different part of the country without informing officials.  He can be joined by Finance minister and RBI governor also. The point is for  Modi to demonstrate that he is on the ground to solve the problem and is really working to balance removal of black money and the challenges of common man.

I am sure  his demonstration will motivate everyone in the entire bank machinery to  ensure that cash is replenished  to branches on time.

 

Who did we give our remote control ?

“Do not give your remote control to someone else.”

Some one remarked that not having money to spend is making them anxious. I see the long queues in ATMs and bank branches. The weekend  brought to me to question         “Can we punish all including  innocent person as we cannot identify who is guilty?”

When I went around neighborhood, road-side merchants and vendors reported losing 50% business from customers as customers do not have currency. On more enquiry, one offered me chat and I replied that “I do not have new money to pay for chat”. He gave me chat and offered me, asking me to pay later. I acknowledged his act of kindness  and ate the offer. Same is story heard from old newspaper vendors and construction workers. I thank people who helped their maids and drivers with cash they have and also request them to realize that poor people have more self-respect and may not ask for money in Indian society and may instead choose to starve without money.

On a different note, I received email written with right intent that educates employees who have bank ATMs within corporate offices to visit their offices to withdraw cash. Are those ATMs only accessible to employees working in corporate offices? What would common man do? Some one would say  “If you have worked in IT park, you would have no problem. Not working here is your mistake for losing privilege “.

Everyone has privilege or right to live in the world and get privilege from nature and not from firms or humans or any governments. No invention and no innovation defines breathing of humans.

To have better life, a government setup was created. No government or firms perform favors by allowing us to have a good life, right food and surrounding environment. We choose them and gave them power and rights to act in our behalf. Think that we need to remind ourself that our life is not define by some one’s good nature or some one’s pity.

Looking around, I feel that all animals expect humans seem to live with more freedom. The urban man seemed to have lost his freedom completely and is on path to become slaves for experiences, comforts and conveniences that he enjoys. That includes me too.

Fundamentally, seeds sown in fields to grow crops has been taken over by MNCs. Today lot of farmers do not keep seeds for sowing for next crop. We are afraid to east fruits with fear of pesticides. Children think that food comes from departmental stores.

We are happy to swallow medicines and take injections given by doctors without questions.  You are not ready to be cured of fever in 5 days and demand doctor to provide antibiotics for quick relief. Soon, mobile applications are arriving to recommend medicines and injections to patients without even visiting doctor.

In India, there is a long tradition of sharing front portion (called thinai) of our house with travelers and visitors for free.  Our history talks of families sharing food with  guests and sleeping with empty stomach. 20 years back, I have gone to Palani and stayed in Chattaram which was almost free. Where are chattarams today? In trichy, bus stand is still called chattaram bus stand.

thinnai.png

Today we justify and share or inability with living  in apartments and have security and not able to allow people to come in easily. In addition, with advent of airbnb , we now rent rooms of the house and make money.  Your apartment  has club house that is large and empty and you cannot share the same with homless for nights. You also have bathrooms down for staff which can be used by them. You still do not allow them. what has comfort and convenience lead you to?

In my birth town, my father had never used to drop me at school in his official jeep, while he used to pick employees/workers on the way to office. His employer did not expect him to do that. I know that he was paying back similar privileges received  by him when his superior with jeep picked him and he had no personal jeep assigned.

Today, we take rides using Uber and Ola. When we ride as single individual, can we pick guy known to us travelling in same direction, waiting for bus? Some of us would say that this is not allowed and once can use OLA-share or Uber-share. Has someone tried the same?  When three passenger can climb from your home in Ola-regular for same price, what stops us from picking this guy waiting for bus?

In last few months, my kids cajoled me to experiment using OLA and Uber. I have started to travel by bus, cycle,walk for many years now.  Earlier, I have pitched to my children of reducing pollution, reducing fuel consumption and also cheap travel( when they were young and had half/no tickets).

For shorter rides, children pitched that costs for 3 people to go in OLA was less than going by Volvo bus in Brookfield area. Very true. When we I tried to hail auto for same travel, we learnt that cost of hiring auto was more than hiring cab  using mobile app. They seem to ignore the other things. What happened to them?

Let me remind myself that girls travelled in bus for close to 8 years, when we did not own a car. My younger one used to like Volvo bus to play monkey style in Volvo bus and the elder one liked breeze in auto and complained against car and preferred auto in the past.

While hiring online cab, I was wondering how to move my children to take bus. when I looked at their regular activity, children traveled by school bus for a shorter distance and for other travel, they go along with my wife in car and have less exposure to bus today. Now both of them demand for AC in car, once car is on the roads.

For me walking and travelling by bus and cycle, I found the comfort of OLA and Uber nice. I started to experiment myself  with Uber and OLA to observe my own needs of comfort and conveniences. Visits to Chennai made me realize comfort that Ola-share and Uber-share provides same quality service at less costs. For rides, where prices are same for both option, I choose normal OLA and where prices was costly, I choose OLA-share.

I kept paying by cash and resisted payment by card. When a driver failed to turn up, I walked to metro station close-by, got a bus and went to suburban station and reached home. I was not ready to allow me influenced by the comfort.

I felt that lower cost has become more important criteria than benefits of car pooling to save environment. I realized that for long distances that I like comfort of Ola-share.

Coming back to Bangalore, I find myself more getting used to comfort of car, moving from cycling to work.  Becoming aware of my comfort seeking, I pushed myself to cycling again.

On day of demonetization, I worked late at work and had planned to take OLA. With cash currencies of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 not acceptable any more, the first thought was whether to connect my credit card with OLA to enable going by OLA.  My inner mind started to question why I have not asked for office cab and why I am falling to comfort. I decided to walk home and walked 4 km to reach home.

Yesterday and Today, I observe a lot of people standing in long queues before ATMs and sure lot of them work for IT companies. What is productivity loss with people standing in front of ATMs and anxiety of not having cash? When there is a strike and employees are not able to report to work, Bangalore employers complain about loss of productivity. Why there is no sound now?

On other hand, IT industry is happy with behavioral change induced by current situation to bring more business  online. There is little or less thought on the difficulty brought to their employees, beyond the challenges faced by themselves without cash.  Maybe thought is employees have to visit ATMs in their personal hours and will not impact productivity.

Banks promise that customers can use ATM at their convenience. In past, bank representatives come to our offices to open accounts. Where can they not send today people with cash to offices and disburse the same?  They have failed to keep up their promise as part of service contract.

While I acknowledge efforts of bank employees as individuals, I view that banks as entity have failed their customers. Banks pushed customers visiting branch to use online services and ATM services, some charged money for visiting branches.  To show that they are customer friendly, some published notification to effect that charges are waived.   When customer failed to maintain minimum balance, customer is not charged for not meeting commitments and is rarely given a chance. Are banks justified for negligence?

Today, banks have outsourced operations including ATMs and is that reason they find it difficult to handle scenario.  Technology can be used for good or bad. What would happen, in these challenging times, if there is failure in power grid and ATMs stop working? What would happen if there is natural calamity in these times?  Let me thank God and nature for protecting us. Has Indian government thought of these risks?

 

What do you use? Email? SMS? IM? Phone?F2F?

Today  multiple modes of communication are leveraged in our professional and personal lives. E-mail, SMS , IMs or Chats, Phone call and In-person F2F meeting. Are you leveraging the right communication channel? Are your leveraging right communication channel best suited  for real life scenario? Here is my attempt to answer.

Email  are used to communicate for non-urgent matters and  scales fairly well, being asynchronous. As emails document facts, emails  qualify to be considered formal and are suitable to be prioritized, free of pressure to respond immediately. The sender is aware that he would obtain response based on receiver priority. Receiver is aware that he can schedule time to check and respond emails. Easier for both parties to develop a disciplined approach for communication over emails

Emails are ill-suited when people use emails to resolve conflicts. Emails can become nuisance when emails are used to assign tasks to individuals. In these scenarios, it is better to talk or meet person in F2F mode or Phone mode

SMS are for short messages and for asynchronous communication. Used communicate quick status or interest to other person. Examples are like reached place and do not see other person at scheduled time, keep informed of delay to arrive to F2F meeting and so on.

IMs are suited for quick short informal messages prior to F2F or phone discussion(using voice) when both parties show attention to IM,  IM becomes more efficient than a candid back-and-forth email thread.

During conference call, IM are used to share quick facts on a topic  and IM can be treated as confirmation of facts across conference call.  IMs allow teams to collaborate internally better with exchange of private messages within the team, even during a joint call with multiple teams. Any IM interaction for more than a minute or two may become tricky and for IM interaction more than two or three minutes, explore options to move to voice based IM or phone call. Let us accept that  voice is quicker/cleaner than typing!

IM Pop-ups can be distraction( Remember to set ” do-not-disturb” when necessary). They are not good to document formal responses and are to be limited to internal team discussions. IMs are efficient with customers with IM federation enabled IM of customer.

Phone calls are useful when both parties cannot wait for F2F meeting to occur, or critical issues cannot wait to be scheduled F2F. Please schedules phone calls, being aware of time loss due to unscheduled Phone calls. Either answer  unscheduled calls for less than a minute to schedule or call back unscheduled calls in planned hour. While one needs to be aware of distraction on one’s focus due to unscheduled calls, there are times where one needs to  pick up phone and  talk, instead of long  back-and-forth e-mail threads.

F2F meetings are most suited to resolve conflicts or brainstorming sessions. Too many F2F meetings can be a time-killer. Schedule F2F meetings that are truly necessary with a clear agenda communicated in advance so everyone has time to prepare. Take meeting notes and documents action items. Send notes and action items to all invitees/participants for F2F meeting. if  the magnitude of conflict increase, it is very important to have F2F meeting as soon as possible, as it has potential not to let any problems linger around!

To end, please remind yourself of the cost of the meeting to the company. Remind yourself mentally with everyone’s salary  engaged in conversation. Ensure to finish meeting early when agenda of the meeting is completed. When key person required for a meeting is not able to attend, please postpone or reschedule meeting.

No email.jpg

Buy Cotton Cloth to Stitch,TailorKraft

If one wants to purchase cotton shirts, please visit TailorKraft and one can purchase your personalized dress. Wish TailorKraft provides cotton trousers and khadi shirts in stitch and buy approach.

From 2016, I decided to purchase khadi clothes and wear khadi clothes. I want to move away from brand clothing and fashion clothing.  When I visit my parents, I purchase khadi dresses and started to wear them to work also.

My inital feeling was  different and had question of how others would perceive me wearing this attire and how apt my dress would be in conference and busines meetings. I decided to ensure that I would wear them after getting them ironed.

Another challenge was fitment of khadi clothes for me. Shirts  purchased from khadi shops fitted me well and there was limited space for air circulation and made me sweat more.  My search for more airy loose shirt  had no luck in Khadi shops. I continue to wear them inspite of constraints.

During my search, I found this young startup TailorKraft. They allow people to select fabric and they take measurment and stitch and deliver shirt home. I shared to them that I would do this with only cotton shirt and they have cotton shirts.

The founder came hoem and took measurement. My kids chose the color of fabric for my shirt and we ended paying online to purchase 2 cotton shirts last week. They arrived through courier after a week to 10 days. Wearing them made me fee very comfortable. They were airy comfortable and also looked rich.

Wearing cotton and khadi shirts took  my mind to wander to my troursers and found all of them are branded jeans and branded trousers.  I have never seen any one wearing khadi trousers. Have you see khadi trousers?

My mind also wandered to Gandhi who in his later years decided to be without shirt. Can I atleast promise to myself to  wear cotton only? Trying to reach a self resolution that I would buy khadi or cotton shirts only and continue to wear branded shirts till  worn out.

Can  technology enabled e-commerce empower khadi shops and cotton mills to reach more people to puchase personalized things straight from manufacturer?

 

 

What does a Great Father Do?

Today my daughters wished for Father’s Day. It raised question how should father be to children. Sharing  real life story observed and asking myself “How will I behave with my children in adverse condition where I have no control?” and “Can I be father to my daughters like the father to his son in the story?”

“This is the price you pay for having a great father. You get the wonder, the joy, the tender moments – and you get the tears at the end, too. “

Once upon time, there was father and mother. The retired father had a son and daughter. The son went to engineering college.The son was healthy guy, involved in sports and leading social-curricular activities at college.  The son was college students chairman and coordinated placements also. In his final year, the son got placement in non-IT firm, which was very much aligned to his passion and got placement in IT company.

The son wanted to be in India, with responsibility of taking care his retired parents. When son submitted his medical checkup for non-IT firm, the company send him an email that they are withdrawing the offer and the reason was that he has only one kidney. Yes, one of his kidneys was removed when he was less than 2 years old. The son was broken and could not comprehend the reason, as he never have thought someone would reject him based on physical ailment and have involved in lot of automotive work with passion.  The son went to attend the initial training for IT firm and realized his mind not ready for IT job.

Here comes the real test for father. Your son was confident with his success and for no logical reasons, he has been thrown away from pedestal and how do you  support him. The father supported his son and asked him to do what is best for him. The son joined a job in his area of interest  paying him salary less than Rs 10,000 p.m. This job was a really tight job being on the shop floor and hectic interacting with lot of people.

The father motivated son to appear for GRE/TOEFL. The father enabled son with internet dongle( not common in those days) month, downloaded application, printed them, filled them and got pay order for application fees and send application to colleges, travelling where needed.  The son got admission in to college in USA and had no scholarship.  The father said that he will support with his means. The son quit his job to come and prepare and the father has bought one-way ticket. When you leave job, you lose your medial insurance also.

Here comes the second test for  father. The son plays volleyball every day and one day he slips and his ribs are broken. His visa interview is around. The father and his friends admit him in hospital and they perform minor surgery.  The father acknowledge that falling in sports was natural.  when your children make mistake that impacts their life, as parents we get annoyed and hurt them with our words. The father did not say anything and spend a lot of money, which was limited at his life stage.

Here comes the third test for father: After 2 weeks, they find that surgery has not healed and the surgery needs to be repeated. The father was broken in heart. Visa interview is coming, tickets are booked, son does not have job and son is in hospital, need to spend money, which is  limited and they have to repeat surgery.

The father ran around found an elderly doctor waiting till late night. His only priority was his son life and not him. The elderly doctor said that he would take care  son’s priority and not others. The son may attend visa interview and will not be able to travel on booked date and can travel after week of the booked date.

Before his retirement, the father  bought car and he loved driving  the car. He sold the car and paid for second surgery. He explained others that there is problem with his ears and does not want to drive and hence he is selling his car.  As there was no money to get another fresh ticket, he ran around  and literally pleaded/ requested many people and  with doctor’s  letter was able to get ticket transferred to later date without additional payment.

Readers can see connect between this story and Sujatha‘ story, which I have read also. When I observed this father-son journey, it came across as new age variant and decided to write and wish all fathers Father Day.

A funny, scary story for every investor and taxpayer

[ Copied story from equity master article for my reference.]

A friend recently shared a very witty allegory on the state of economics in current times and the making of a financial crisis. It was both hilarious and scary. We thought it was very important that our readers know about it. So here it is…

John, a bar owner in Europe noticed that almost all his frequent customers were unemployed alcoholics. That means people with no jobs plus a drinking problem. What to do? If they had no jobs, they would soon run out of money and stop visiting the bar. And the business would have to shut down. How could John avert this impending crisis and salvage his liquor business?

After much brainstorming, John had his Eureka moment. He came up with what he thought was a genius marketing idea. The idea was simple: drink now, pay later.

So his customers could have as many drinks as they desired and not worry about having to pay immediately. John, on the other hand, kept track of all the bills and granted customer loans to his loyal drinkers. Both seemed happy. The customers didn’t have to bother about paying up upfront. And John was able to revive a declining business. The marketing plan created a buzz and John had his sales grow exponentially. From time to time, he was able to easily hike prices of the drinks. And his customers never complained. John was now the proud owner of one of the busiest bars in Europe. Not to forget the real cash earnings existed in the future, if at all.

Seeing his growing business, the bankers were happy to increase the borrowing limits for John. They saw the debts of unemployed alcoholics as valuable future assets. Some young ambitious geeks at the bank saw a big opportunity here to transform the customer loans into securitized tradable bonds. Then of course, these securities were bundled and traded on the international bond markets. The investors do not know that what was on offer was really a bundle of debt of unemployed alcoholics. They simply joined in the extravaganza of this new hottest-selling bond and the bond prices went flying skywards.

Guess what? Everybody seemed to be making money and getting richer. John had a thriving business. His customers were happy. The bank was doing great business. The brokers were earning great commissions. The rising bond prices also made investors rich.

Sounds like the economics of happiness? Well, this story, as you may have guessed, certainly does not have a happy ending. Finally, a newly joined risk manager at the original bank saw the debt pile and decided it was time that the debt be repaid. He approached John, who in turn demanded payment from his customers. But well, where was the money? Most of them were still unemployed. And this was precisely where the party ended. John was forced into bankruptcy. The bar shut down.

But this is not all. When the news of the non-payment spread, the bond prices came crashing down. Investors saw a massive wipe-out of wealth. The local bank that had lent heavily to John witnessed a critical credit crunch and was unable to issue new loans.

And there were even more parties involved. For instance, John’s suppliers had significantly relaxed their credit terms. Some of them had to shut down. Others had to downsize their operations.

But there were some who came out of the crisis untouched, in fact, much richer. Who were these people? Can you make a guess? Well, the answer is bankers and brokers. Theircronies in the government were happy to help them out with a multi-billion euro cash infusion, all in the name of saving the economy from a systemic collapse. But where did all this bailout money come from? As it turns out, the bailout money was raised by levying higher taxes on employed people, most of whom were non-drinkers. Now you see who paid for all those drinks?

If you have been wondering what’s going on in the global economy, this allegory does explain quite a bit. Many of the developed economies are in a mess right now because they consumed a lot more than they could pay for. They were consuming their future incomes in the present with this magical concept called debt. But when you have too much of it, you have a crisis eventually. We saw how the global financial crisis that broke out in 2008 rocked the world economy.

Some may think it is pointless to worry about the world economy or the monetary policies of the developed economies. How does it concern India and Indian equity investors?

The world economy and the global financial markets are way more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. If developed economies pump in cheap money, a lot of it finds its way to developing and emerging markets. This flood of money is not coming out of real earnings and savings. It is a dangerous monetary experiment that various central banks are toying with. Whenever this money changes direction or reverses back, it could rock the already fragile global financial markets. And India would be no exception.

Are you banking on the flood of cheap global liquidity to drive valuations  higher?

On Being Broadly Correct Rather Than Precisely Wrong

[ Copied paragraphs from equity master article for my reference.]

The profession of prediction is tricky. The consumers of predictions most often look for instant gratification. Unfortunately, it can become more important for the professional to look right rather than be right.

The talking heads on television predict everything about the next day that helps them look right. Mirroring the sentiment of the world helps them appear right. Rarely does anyone bother to check the accuracy of the prediction the next day.

Predictors go to great lengths to create an impression that appears right. Every impression has the potential to mislead investors.  The truth is that every decision based on predictions can be a double-edged sword. The skill of human beings lies in being broadly correct rather than being precisely wrong.

  • If you invest, you will lose money if the market declines. If you do not invest, you will miss out on gains if the market rises.
  • Market timing can add value if it can be done precisely right. Buy and hold can produce better results if the market timing can’t be done right.
  • Aggressiveness will help when the market rises but hurt when it falls. Defensiveness will help when the market falls but hurt when it rises.
  • If you use leverage, your success will be magnified. If you use leverage, your mistakes will be magnified.
  • If you concentrate your portfolio, your mistakes will kill you. If you diversify, your payoff from your successes will be limited.

It is not difficult but rather impossible to always make favorable decisions for the portfolio based on accuracy of predictions.