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Dabbawalas to market Reliance Power IPO

Dabbawalahs of Mumbai

MUMBAI: Reliance Money, the financial services and products distribution company of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, has latched on to a marketing innovation. The firm has roped in the Six Sigma perfected dabbawalas to get an edge in their run-up to the Reliance Power IPO, among a host of other tradeable financial services. The dabba which arrives on the dot at most office desks with home-cooked food, will have other steaming offers in a bulging paper envelope. Apart from the full bouquet of mutual funds, insurance products and money transfer services, Reliance Money expects to push demat accounts, and IPO application forms through this channel, beginning with the Reliance Power application forms. The dabbawalas will not only carry Reliance Money’s messages across the city, they will even pick up requests and completed forms from customers back to the company.

“Its a dedicated two-way communications channel,” says Sudip Bandyopadhyay, director of Reliance Money. “The idea is to reach out to a maximum number of retail investors.” According to recent estimates, the dabbawalas move around 1.6 lakh lunch boxes everyday across the length and breath of Mumbai, with a workforce of around 5,000.

The alliance ensures that Reliance Money gets access to the most sought after segment of 24-60 year old professionals in the city, “each of who is individualistic enough to insist on fresh, hot home food every day. Reaching out directly to this segment makes more marketing sense than acquiring impersonal mailing lists,” says the director.

Given that some parts of this segment may not qualify as traditional equity investors, putting across a customised value proposition for each individual is an added bonus. According to reports, though the average dabbawala has no formal education beyond class eight on an average, their work practices draw upon a 120-year old logistics system. That means the familiar workforce on Mumbai streets – for whom even the unruly Mumbai traffic stops to let pass – misses no more than one delivery in every 10 million.

Though the deal with the dabbawalas is to be an event-based deal, Reliance Money is also looking at alternate channels to sell its services. It has also tied up with coffee chain Barista, where each outlet has a trading kiosk. Many travel agencies (like Kuoni) as well as courier offices (like DTDC) too will distribute the company’s financial products.

Reliance Money is the electronic transaction platform associated with Reliance Capital, a private sector financial services companies.

 

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People’s Car from Tata

For those who have lived or visited India, one can relate to the excessive use of two wheelers to transport middle class families or rely on the vulnerable rickshaws to get around cities and in some rural areas between towns and villages too.  Quite like Maruti – a joint venture between the then Indian Govt. and Suzuki broke the price and size barriers to make cars affordable, Tata Motors, in keeping the promise made by  their Chairman, Ratan Tata, have yet again indicated what the Indian industry is capable of for the world market.  Designed, built and tested on Indian Roads, it can only prove to be a food for thought to the advanced design teams and factories of leading car makers across the world.  Economic Times captures the launch in the article below.

RATAN TATA, chairman of the Tata group of companies, has a cerebral and cordial manner. But the so-called “one-lakh car”, which Tata Motors unveiled in Delhi to a rapt public on Thursday January 10th, is a product of impatience and chutzpah. Instead of waiting for the great swell of prosperity in India and elsewhere to create millions of customers for his company’s products, Mr Tata has decided to wade out—further than any one has gone before—to bring a car to them.

In India one lakh means 100,000, and Tata will sell the most basic version of its new car at 100,000 rupees, or $2,500 (not including taxes and the cost of transporting it to the showrooms). This is roughly half the price of its nearest rival, and little more than the cost of a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw. But the “nano”, as the car is called, is no rickshaw. Apart from the fourth wheel and the doors, it has a 623cc engine that will muster 33 brake horsepower. The car should eke out 50 miles to the gallon, Mr Tata says. It complies with the “Euro III” pollution standards that prevail in India and should meet the tougher Euro IV standards with a bit of tweaking. The firm claims that the car produces less pollution than some two-wheelers produced in India today.

Tata Motors is best known for its trucks, lovingly decorated and recklessly driven, that clatter along India’s highways. It started making small passenger cars only a decade ago. Its low-cost car project has set a trend. Mr Tata says he is “quite gratified” that other firms are following suit. Bajaj Auto, which is known for its two- and three-wheelers, said on January 8th that it hoped to team up with Renault and Nissan to produce its own low-cost car. Fiat, Ford, Honda and Toyota also have cheap models in the works.  Tata may discover a market, only for others to crowd into it.

“It’s not our God-given domain,”says Mr Tata.

Cheap cars can be expensive to invent. Tata experimented with a smaller engine, but was dissatisfied with its performance. It hoped to use continuous-variable transmission, but had to make do, for now, with manual. Tata’s rivals may be able to free-ride on its efforts, copying the cost-cutting tricks it had to discover through painstaking trial and error. “It will be an easier task for them than it was for us,” Mr Tata admits.

Competitors will, for example, notice how Tata shrank the car into what its chairman calls a “concise package”, with the powertrain at the back and the wheels at the “extremities”. The result is 21% bigger inside than the Maruti 800, says Ravi Kant, the managing director of Tata Motors, but is only 80% as long. That will, at least, shorten the traffic jams to which the nano will contribute. Congestion could be a big problem, if millions more cars are to take to the roads. The country’s poor-quality road network is slowly improving, but it is heavily over-used. With India’s transport arteries already so badly clogged, a boom in sales of low-cost cars could bring about a seizure.

Commuting in India’s cities can be both cozy and deadly. Children squeeze snugly between father at the handlebars of a motorcycle, and mother riding side-saddle at the back. This precarious balancing act, says Mr Tata was the “visual target” he had in mind when he first conceived of the need “to create another form of transport”. About 1,800 people die on Delhi’s roads each year, perhaps one-third of them on two-wheelers. Only 5% die in cars. Tata’s project may pose risks for investors, but it promises unaccustomed safety for customers.

In his address during the launch he said ” A promise made is a promise made”. Spoken like Sir. Jamshedji Tata!

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‘Chak De India’ is a beautifully made film that makes you laugh, makes you cry, gives you goose bumps, and stirs up patriotism inside you. It is a film that every lover of good cinema must watch.

It was during one of my daughter’s soccer games that I decided to watch it. She had just been beaten in a game, played the defense position instead of her favorite offense or forward position. Added to it was the verbal unsolicited tirade from her dad that she had to listen …..Poor soul. So, I had to do something for her, shall we say, self esteem and confidence to be restored.

I decided to use one of my audio-visual motivational techniques. Borrowed a copy of ‘Chak De India’ and got her to watch it the night before the game. What a move it was. She could relate to the importance of various positions, adversities faced at higher levels of competition, need to play rough when required and most of all inspirational teamwork. Long story short, she managed to score three goals and carried her team to victory AND played midfield as well as defense in the game and did so with aplomb.

‘Chak De India’ is not just a sports film. It is replete with myriad emotions. And the best part is that Shimit Amin tells the story very realistically, making it all the more believable. He also doesn’t bring any unnecessary dramatization into the story.

The movie has a number of intelligently conceived sequences. For instance, a sequence when the girl’s hockey team has to prove their mettle against the men’s team. The girls lose by a narrow margin, but they get an applause and salutation from male players. Or, another sequence when the girls bash up a bunch of eve teasers. These sequences and the last portions of the second half – when the crucial matches are played – evoke a flood of emotions inside a viewer.

I cannot recall a single dull moment in the film. From the word go, the movie grips you like a vice and keeps you riveted until the end credits roll. During this ‘Chak De’ ride, you go through myriad emotions. You empathize with the pain of the protagonist, cherish the clashes and camaraderie of the girls, and you are filled with an uplifting, charged-up feeling as you see the underdogs rise to the occasion.

My son gets so fired up with the title song that by playing it one could shake him out of a dull mood. I am not surprised that the stadium sang to this song in the recent 20/20 cricket match between India and Australia. That sure must have helped India win to some extent.

To cut to the chase, ‘Chak De India’ keeps you on the edge of your seat, even though it is a sports-based film and not a thriller.

The film’s story is simple and yet it carries so many undercurrents.

Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh), the best centre-forward in Indian hockey team, misses the crucial, last-minute penalty stroke against Pakistan and is blamed for the Indian team’s defeat in the finals. So much so, he is labeled gaddar (betrayer) by his own fellow countrymen. Disgraced and dishonored for one momentary failure, Kabir Khan leaves his parental house with his mother and disappears into oblivion.

Seven years later he appears again, not as a player but as a coach of a bunch of girls in whom even the Hockey Federation has no confidence. Kabir Khan has just three months to coach and train these girls for the Hockey World Cup in Australia.

The girls come from all over India – Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, North East and other states.

On the outside, Kabir Khan is very strict with the girls. Through his toughness he wants to instill discipline and integrity in the team, something which is significantly missing.

Within the team, there is hardly any camaraderie. There are usual girlie fights and arguments. Somebody is egoistic, somebody too self-centered, somebody is hot-tempered and somebody is simply naïve.

Using very unconventional methods, Kabir Khan manages to create a team spirit among the girls. But some differences remain, only to be sorted out in the World Cup tournament in Australia, which the team must win to make India proud. But Kabir Khan is fighting for more than pride for India. For him the victory would bring redemption (for his momentary failure 7 years ago) and reclamation of his lost honor. And when that moment of reckoning does come, he looks on with disbelief in his teary eyes.

A constant thread of humor runs through the film’s narrative. The humor is vernacular, and genuinely funny at that. The funniest of the lot is the rustic Haryanavi girl Komal (Chitrashi Rawat) and the hot-tempered Punjabi girl Balbir Kaur (Tanya Abrol).

The superstar doesn’t go overboard in his performance in ‘Chak De’– there is no quivering of lips and no heavy breathing. Using his facial expressions and intense eyes to his advantage, with utmost conviction SRK plays a man simmering and seething within. Undoubtedly, this one is a praiseworthy performance from the King Khan.

At the end of the day, ‘Chak De India’ is a deeply touching film that offers plenty for you to carry home with.

Do yourself a favor, go and see this film. It is a must-watch. If any of you visit India and get your hands on a legal copy, send me one. This one, like Lagaan, is a collectible.

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Going to Goa

Being from a family the ancestors of which apparently drifted from Goa during the Portugese invasion and thereafter seeking a living down south, we have always had a special place in our hearts for Goa. It is the only state where Konkani is the language of the parliament and State. Though heavily influenced by Portugese and has a twang to the kind we speak, it still has the musical notes to it. After many many years, lyricists have continued to add a few lines in Konkani to their songs for the Bollywood movies. ( Remember Bobby? )

Our affair with Goa started in 1974 with a few families – mainly a pilgrimage trip to all temples . This was an awesome train (steam engine – mind you) ride we have never forgotten. The picture of beautiful landscape, occasional fire when coal from the train is thrown on dry grass along the tracks, the sunsets, the delicious nick-nacks from hawkers in the train, the songs, dances, card games amidst the dhadak-dhadak of the train.

Thereafter, we must have visited a couple of times to see family and of course visit temples.

During my engineering days at BMS, we went on an educational tour to various places and industries. Goa stop being one for pleasure, and the rest of them for academic delight we shall say.

I almost took up a job there after graduation. I was actually quite looking forward to it. For whatever reasons I never got to see that realize. Looking back it is a mixed feeling. The company did not do well and would have given a rather bumpy start after all to my career.

Each time the place has extended different flavors and culture to us. Last time we went to Goa was in 2006 and spent a few quality days at a resort in south Goa with family. Despite heavy rains and being indoor, we enjoyed all aspects of Goa. I have always tried to capture the essence of the land, history, culture, tradition, food, festivals etc.,

I found this piece in The Economist. I like the choices, the suggestions and the highlights. Hope you do too.

From hippy to hip: this former Portuguese enclave is no longer the exclusive preserve of the backpacker set

“There’s one thing I know, Lord above/I ain’t goin’ to Goa.” So sang the Alabama 3, a London band famous for singing the theme song for “The Sopranos” television series. “There ain’t nothing worse than some fool lying on some third world beach wearing spandex, psychedelic trousers, smoking damn dope pretending he’s gettin’ consciousness expansion.”

This about sums up a typical view of Goa, once a Portuguese colony situated about 400km down the Arabian Sea coast south of Mumbai, and long popular with hippy-styled Western backpackers. Sure, Goa still lures budget travellers with a yen for trance music and full-moon beach parties, but India’s most laid-back state, also one of its smallest, has also become a hip destination for Mumbaikars seeking a beach-lined reprieve from the city. Returning visitors may be surprised to discover quite a few new boutique hotels, restaurants and bars.

This relatively new demand has helped fuel India’s boom in budget airlines. The best way to get to Goa however is a train ride thru Pune OR try the road via the Karwar coast.

With its relaxed pace of life, unique culture, breathtaking landscape, fabulous white-sand beaches and friendly locals, Goa is the perfect weekend antidote to Mumbai. The mountain range of the Western Ghats cuts Goa off from the rest of India; this natural barrier has let the area develop along different economic and cultural lines.


Then and now

For centuries, Goa was an important trading centre. The presence of the Portuguese (from the early 16th century to 1961, when India annexed the territory) profoundly influenced the state’s hybrid Indo-European culture, affecting local attitudes about everything from food to religion. Catholics form a 30% minority, concentrated mainly along the coast and so remain highly visible to tourists. But most Goans are Hindu, and both religions co-exist peacefully.

Today, Goa is India’s wealthiest state per capita. Although not free from hardship (and battles over development—see this website for details), most residents live in relative comfort. The ideal time to visit is between November and February, well after the monsoon season of June to September.


Getting around

Goa is easy to navigate, and relatively traffic-free. On a weekend break, eschew public transport and hire taxis (the ubiquitous white Maruti mini-van), which are inexpensive, but be sure to negotiate prices, as there are no meters. Hiring a taxi for a whole day is also common, and ensures that you do not waste precious time getting lost.

For those staying only one night, the surprisingly uncrowded beach at Bogmalo is just ten minutes’ drive from Dabolim, Goa’s airport (tel: +91 (0)832 254 0806). The Bogmallo Beach Resort (website) is decent, and all rooms have a picturesque sea view. There are some peaceful beachfront cafés, such as Sea Cuisine (tel: +91 (0)832 255 5969), where you can enjoy the Arabian Sea at sunset, less than four hours after stepping out the door in Mumbai.


On the beach—day and night

If you are in Goa for two nights, you must head either north or south; the coastline is too long and varied to cover both. The more developed—and more crowded—north is the easier option. A good base is the charming boutique Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel (tel: +91 (0)236 622 7631, website), at Querim, Goa’s northernmost beach. Housed inside an old Portuguese fort, it has incredible sea views, well worth the 90-minute drive from the airport. It has only a handful of rooms, so be sure to book in advance. For something more upmarket, the nearby hilltop Nilaya Hermitage (website), Fort Tiracol’s sister, is one of India’s most exclusive addresses and a fine destination for an evening drink or meal.

It is possible to swim at Tiracol, but there can be a strong undertow towards the estuary. A better option is nearby Ashwem beach, where a sandbar ensures that the water remains clear and shallow. Even in peak season, Ashwem is peaceful, and its southern tip is a great place to watch the sun set.

The best examples of north Goa’s lively culinary and nightlife scenes are at Candolim and Baga beaches. At Candolim, Club 21 is the archetypal Goan beach shack, serving the usual naans and curries, as well as delicious fresh sandwiches, fruit juices and cocktails. It also has a weekly barbecue and friendly local staff. Sweet Chilli (off the Taj Fort Aguada junction at Sinquerim, tel: +91 (0)236 247 9446), is a cheerful outdoor restaurant, with great food and regular themed nights. Or head to Ingo’s Saturday Night Bazaar at Arpora, a fun spot with no cover-charge, open from 4.30pm until midnight. Besides an expansive open-air flea market, there is outdoor entertainment such as fire-eating and live bands, and plenty of international food stalls.

At Baga, Mambo’s bar (Tito’s Lane, Saunta Vaddo, tel: +91 (0)236 227 5028/9895), in the open air on the palm-fringed beach, has a casual atmosphere and good music for lounging or dancing. Next door, Tito’s (website) is very exclusive, a touch pretentious and popular with the Bollywood set. For something quieter, simply cross the lane to Baga beach itself, where the Pyramid beach shack has candlelit tables on the shore, and the stillness is more than a little revitalising.


In the capital

To get in touch with Goa’s rich history, head inland to Panjim (also known as Panaji), the state’s charming capital, on the banks of the Mandovi river. Expect an unhurried Mediterranean feel and characteristic Portuguese architecture, particularly in the old quarter of Fontainhas, where you might even hear a snippet of Portuguese spoken.

Stock up on Goan cashew nuts (Zantye’s is an excellent brand) and delicious pastries on 18th June Road. Mr Baker (tel: +91 (0)832 222 4622, on Dr RS Road, opposite the Municipal Gardens) offers succulent lamb, chicken or vegetable Goan patties. Try some bebinca, a Portuguese-style cake made with egg yolks, and take home a pot of mango jam: this is what many Goan families eat for breakfast on the Portuguese-style breads of pao or poee. A sunset cruise on the Mandovi river is an excellent way to wind up an afternoon.

East of Panjim lies Old Goa, the region’s former capital. It is no longer a town in the formal sense, more the site of some beautiful, slowly decaying Catholic cathedrals and churches. The Church of Bom Jesus houses the remains of St Francis of Xavier (minus a toe, bitten from the corpse by an over-zealous devotee) and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (see website). Both this and the Sé Cathedral opposite, the largest church in Asia, are landmarks in Indian Christianity.


Elsewhere

With more time, the beaches of south Goa, the spice plantations at Ponda and even the Dudhsagar waterfalls inland are all worth visiting. A weekend in Goa though, is best spent doing what the Goans do: enjoying life at an unhurried, most un-Mumbai pace.

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HUMAN INTELLIGENCE AND LEARNING

I first met my dear friend Dorai Thodla in 2001. It was the post dot com times and most of us were trying to out-think, out-smart and out perform the competition to overcome the setback caused by the bust. Dorai and I used to huddle to see how his technology or application could assist my then firm to become innovative and competitive in the popular “more with less” culture to achieve productivity and results. From the very outset we realized that while we had complimentary skills, we also had common interests in reading, books, innovation, learning and particularly learning for kids.

It is during those times that he suggested the book Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century to me. The framework highlighted in that book has been a framework with which we have tried to expose our kids. I have always been amazed at the ease with which some kids before the age of 7 or 8 are able to pick up several things – music, math, reading, drawing, writing, sports etc., rather effortlessly. While we have not necessarily put a progress report to check on all the aspects of the MASTER approach with our kids, or I should rather say that it is work in progress :-), I would not be surprised if they have embedded the MASTER approach in their thinking process thru gradual training and adaptation. It is only befitting that I write a little bit about the book here.

In 1985 Colin Rose wrote a book called Accelerated Learning that brought together leading research at that time to show how learning could be an enjoyable and satisfying experience. Using this research Rose developed the highly successful and effective Accelerated Learning Language courses that you have probably seen advertised in the press. With the onset of the Millennium, Colin Rose has teamed up with Malcolm Nicholl to update his groundbreaking book for the next century. This book is packed with useful information not only for the academic seeking to research the whole issue of learning and thinking, but also for the concerned parent, the corporate trainer and yes the most important person of all – the interested learner. The authors put the need to be an effective learner into the context of today’s ever evolving information age and have developed a six point blueprint for success in Learning. Using the acronym M*A*S*T*E*R their plan can be summarized as follows:

Step 1 – Motivating your Mind.

Step 2 – Acquiring the Information.

Step 3 – Searching out the Meaning.

Step 4 – Triggering the Memory.

Step 5 – Exhibiting what you Know.

Step 6 – Reflecting on How you have Learned.

By examining each step in detail Rose and Nicholl explain the application of the blueprint, backing up their claims with examples of success from their own work and that of other researchers. There are separate chapters for teachers and trainers, the corporate world and schools. Also discussed are the areas of Creative and Analytical Thought. Most relevant to Project HappyChild is the Chapter entitled “It’s never too early”. This explains in great detail about the importance of providing a stimulating environment for your children from the day that they are born to maximize the development of their learning abilities. Just for this chapter alone, I will be recommending the book to everyone I know who might possibly have anything whatsoever to do with the upbringing of children. After reading this book you will understand your own learning style, and that of your children and how to exploit it so that you and your children can learn effectively, efficiently and have fun doing so. I would like to see every teacher given a copy of this book because if the information in it were applied in the classrooms of the world, we would see a dramatic change in the results (both academic and more importantly social) that schools produce.

Here is a quick overview I gathered about the concept:

Exploring “The Theory of Multiple Intelligences”

How would the proverbial Martian landing on Earth view the intelligence of the human species?” That’s the provocative question asked by Harvard professor of education, Howard Gardner.

Gardener developed the “Theory of Multiple Intelligences” which says, in effect, that IQ should not be measured as an absolute figure in the way that height, weight or blood pressure are. It’s a crucial blunder, he maintains, to assume that IQ is a single fixed entity which can be measured by a pencil and paper test.

It’s not how smart you are but how you are smart, says Gardner. As human beings, we all have a repertoire of skills, he says, for solving different kinds of problems. And he defines intelligence this way: “Intelligence is an ability to solve a problem or fashion a product which is valued in one or more cultural settings.”

Gardner revealed his theory in his ground-breaking book “Frames of Mind” in which he outlined seven distinct intelligences. He subsequently added an eighth.

The Accelerated Learning Network has taken Gardner’s theory and put it into practice, creating products for students of all ages. These products enable the student to learn according to his own learning preferences no matter how he is being taught. In addition, we run through a cycle of learning activities involving all Intelligences so that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn.

Here are the eight Intelligences:

Visual-Spatial Intelligence (encouraging the child to draw, color, model with clay, take pictures)

The ability to think in pictures, visualize a future result. To imagine things in your mind’s eye. Architects, sculptors, sailors, photographers and strategic planners. You use it when you have a sense of direction, when you navigate or draw.

Famous examples: Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright

Linguistic Intelligence ( exposing the child to learn as many languages as possible early on)

The ability to read , write and communicate with words. Authors, journalists, poets, orators and comedians are obvious examples of people with linguistic intelligence.

  • Famous examples: Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, T.S. Eliot, Sir Winston Churchill.

Intrapersonal Intelligence ( allow quiet time for the child to reflect and possibly express in a diary or a journal)

The ability for self-analysis and reflection–to be able to quietly contemplate and assess one’s accomplishments, to review one’s behavior and innermost feelings, to make plans and set goals, the capacity to know oneself. Philosophers, counselors, and many peak performers in all fields of endeavor have this form of intelligence.

  • Famous examples: Freud, Eleanor Roosevelt, Plato.

Musical Intelligence ( expose to as many musical instruments and music or play classical music in the background when kids are at home or doing homework)

The ability to make or compose music, to sing well, or understand and appreciate music. To keep rhythm. It’s a talent obviously enjoyed by musicians, composers, and recording engineers. But most of us have a musical intelligence which can be developed. Think of how helpful it is to learn with a jingle or rhyme (e.g. “Thirty days has September…”).

  • Famous examples: Mozart, Leonard Bernstein, Ray Charles.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence ( encourage kids to participate in shopping, counting trees, cars etc while growing up)

The ability to reason and calculate, to think things through in a logical, systematic manner. These are the kinds of skills highly developed in engineers, scientists, economists, accountants, detectives and members of the legal profession.

  • Famous examples: Albert Einstein, John Dewey.

Interpersonal (Social) Intelligence (encourage kids to reach out and mix with kids at the park, social event, libraries and make friends)

The ability to work effectively with others, to relate to other people, and display empathy and understanding, to notice their motivations and goals. This is a vital human intelligence displayed by good teachers, facilitators, therapists, politicians, religious leaders and sales people.

  • Famous examples: Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey.

Naturalist Intelligence (encourage the child to explore in the gardens, backyard, parks or when the family takes a nature walk)

The ability to recognize flora and fauna, to make other consequential distinctions in the natural world and to use this ability productively–for example in hunting, farming, or biological science. Farmers, botanists, conservationists, biologists, environmentalists would all display aspects of the intelligence.

  • Famous examples: Charles Darwin, E.O. Wilson.

In 1996, Gardner decided to add an eighth intelligence (Naturalist) and in spite of much speculation resisted the temptation to add a ninth–Spiritualist Intelligence.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence ( encourage the child to imitate a dancer, actor, athlete and participate in as many sports, dancing, gymnastics and other like pursuits)

The ability to use your body skillfully to solve problems, create products or present ideas and emotions. An ability obviously displayed for athletic pursuits, dancing, acting, artistically, or in building and construction. You can include surgeons in this category but many people who are physically talented–”good with their hands”–don’t recognize that this form of intelligence is of equal value to the other intelligences.

  • Famous examples: Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jordan.

Applying the trick to remember given in this book as well as something that has always worked for me, commit to memory (CTM-another code taught in 6th grade by my math teacher Mr, Manjunath), the acronym (SLIM LINK – Spatial, Linguistic, Intrapersonal, Musical, Logical, Interpersonal, Natural and Kinesthetic).

Traditionally, academic subjects have been taught in ways that largely involve two intelligences–linguistic and logical-mathematical. Now consider what an IQ test basically measures–ability with words and numbers. So students who are naturally strong in linguistic and mathematical intelligences do well on the standard Stanford-Binet IQ test.

Therefore, it’s a fairly good predictor of success at school because the way we teach (lectures) and the material with which we deal (logically constructed books) depend heavily on these two intelligences. Since teachers are drawn from people who do well at school, it’s a self-perpetuating system.

But is an IQ result a good predictor of happiness, of economic success, of success in relationships, of success in life? Not really. In a modern society, of course, linguistic and logical-mathematical ability are very important, but there are six other intelligences.

It is when you marshal all of your intelligences that you really begin to use your full brain power. I intend to spend some time reading and understand the now famous EQ or Emotional Quotient and see if I can get some answers or association there.

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When my partner and I started Touchpoints, we wanted to put a framework that will stand the test of time. We pondered about it being technology oriented, domain driven, etc. Eventually, we decided on exchanging notes on our own core values and guiding principles. If we had common core values and guiding principles, the possibility of conflict as well as confusion would be minimized. We decided that while conducting business, transactions or communication we are more than likely to arrive at the cross roads of decision. We would then lean on our core values and guiding principles to show us the right path.

Today, almost three years into the business, we can highlight number of situations, during which, we have potentially been swayed towards what could have been lucrative and resulted in immediate fortune for a minor compromise in our principles. Our ability to say NO and move on to the right opportunity, I believe, has kept us in good stead and we have been able to keep a clean and fearless conscience about ourselves and our endeavors.

The link between values and a purely economic function like management was highlighted by Kaushik Basu, the Economist in the Cornell University in article July,2001 issue of India today. In the article TRUTH ABOUT LYING this is what Kaushik Basu mentioned:

Lying and honesty are intriguing subjects that have engaged philosophers for centuries. Social scientists took very little interest in them. This has suddenly begun to change. It is a much more mundane concern with lying and honesty that has been engaging economists and political scientists in recent times, but it’s a concern of some pervasive importance. Social analysts, notably Francis Fukuyama and Robert Putnam, have argued that societies with a high level of trust — i.e. where people tend to be honest, adhere to promises and respect contracts — tend to prosper. So, faster growth is not just a consequence of appropriate economic policy, savings rate, human capital and fiscal deficits but, somewhat surprisingly, the level of honesty in the citizenry.

This is one area in which the Indian citizenry can do with a little bit of brushing up. The damage usually gets done early, when children are taught that “honesty is the best policy”. As they grow up, they realize whoever taught them that lesson was not quite honest. There are many situations in life where a quick lie, a broken promise or a reneged contract can bring in gains.

Many people make a mistake in trying to cash in on these gains too often, not realizing that each time one does it, one tends to damage a little bit of one’s reputation. If a person breaks too many promises, people will be wary of getting into agreements with him. In other words, excessive dishonesty and corruption, as in our society, is a sign of several things but, importantly, of myopia.

To a person interested in nothing but his own welfare, the Machiavellian lesson would be simple: try not to tell lies so that you can get away with the rare one when you have to. So even if people were very selfish, if they calculated their own interest rationally (that is, without short-sightedness), they would be more honest than they typically are.

Gandhiji once said, “You cannot be honest in one department of life and dishonest in another…..you have to function as a whole”.

We can therefore see that today even the hardheaded experts on management practices are willing to look at the values, which are behind management successes.

I am very excited about the concept of CREST (Center for Research, Education, Sadhana & Training) Center for Research, Education, Sadhana and Training is a program offered by Sahaj Marg Spiritual Foundation to impart personal and spiritual discipline along with knowledge to create living examples of the Sahaj Marg way of living. These courses are designed to cater to all dimensions of existence: the physical, the mental and intellectual, the moral, and the spiritual. Courses will be conducted under the ancient gurukula concept, with trainees living under ashram conditions, providing for a comfortable life in a Spartan setting, without luxury, but spiritually enriched.

The advantage of going back to our roots and trying to understand how management strategy and practices can be evolved by using the traditional Indian wisdom and ethos, therefore, can lead to immensely practical results. Yes, we will have an alternate problem in such a society – no Sarbanes Oxley, no Governance issues and true performance based outcomes driven by strong values and guiding principles. Meaning – IT companies will have not much to forecast growth on. I would rather live in such a society – wouldn’t you?

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I happened to be in India during this “shor sharaba” and was amazed at the two back-up locations IBM had planned….I also happened to travel my first leg back with a Sound Engineer from UK, flown in by IBM to ensure the first back up site was in tact………this article nicely captures the lengths IBM is going in India that impacts its overall strategy….

Hungry tiger, dancing elephant
Apr 4th 2007 | ARMONK, BANGALORE AND DELHI
From The Economist print edition

Cyrus Deboo
Cyrus Deboo
 

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LAST June IBM held its annual investors’ day in the grounds of the Bangalore Palace, a fake Windsor Castle in India’s equivalent of Silicon Valley. Big Blue pulled out all the stops to impress the 50 or so investors and Wall Street analysts who turned up, gathering 10,000 employees to hear speeches by the president of India, the country’s leading telecoms entrepreneur and IBM‘s own boss, Sam Palmisano, all hosted by a Bollywood babe in a red sari.

The annual investors’ day is usually held in New York, though it once took place in faraway Boston. By going to Bangalore, the technology giant was sending a strong message. With 53,000 employees, India is now at the core of IBM‘s strategy. With other big developing countries, including China, Brazil and Russia, it is fast becoming the firm’s centre of gravity.

Just three decades earlier, IBM had quit India, which was in the grip of corporatist and nationalistic industrial policies. Only in the early 1990s did it gradually start to return, as the government began to deregulate and reconnect with the world economy. Now, as Mr Palmisano pointed out to his investors in Bangalore, the domestic Indian market has become one of the fastest-growing in the world for IBM, with revenues rising by 40-50% a year, albeit from a very small base. The firm now has more employees in India than in any other country except America.

Mr Palmisano announced that IBM would invest a further $6 billion in India over the coming three years, up from $2 billion in the previous three. That sum does not include any acquisitions of Indian companies. (It has already struck some big deals, notably buying Daksh, an Indian outsourcing company, in 2004.) Some locals wondered how IBM would manage to spend all that money. But booming demand is pulling wages higher in India and costly training is now needed to lure workers being courted by other companies.
Rethinking the multinational

IBM‘s Indian adventure highlights three overlapping themes. Emerging economies increasingly count as a threat to established global firms, as well as an opportunity. Indian services firms such as Infosys and Wipro are starting to give IBM—and its old rivals, Accenture, EDS and Hewlett-Packard—a run for their money. As globalisation accelerates, this is forging a new vision of what it is to be a successful multinational company. Last, regardless of how well Big Blue fares, its strategy for growth has suffered because of those first two. The big, career-threatening question facing Mr Palmisano—and the reason other multinational companies will want to study IBM closely—is whether he can find a new way to realise the growth that his shareholders demand.

In a speech last year at INSEAD business school in France, Mr Palmisano set IBM‘s Indian move in the context of the modern multinational company. This, he said, had passed through three phases. First was the 19th-century “international model”, whereby firms were based in their home country, but sold goods through overseas sales offices. Then came the classic multinational firm, in which the parent company created smaller versions of itself in countries around the world. This was how Mr Palmisano found IBM when he joined it in 1973.

The third model, argues Mr Palmisano, the IBM he is now building, is the “globally integrated enterprise”. Rather than have a parent with lots of Mini-Mes around the world, such a firm shapes its strategy, management and operations as a single global entity. It puts people and jobs anywhere in the world “based on the right cost, the right skills and the right business environment. And it integrates those operations horizontally and globally.” In this approach, “work flows to the places where it will be done best”, that is, most efficiently and to the highest quality. The forces behind this “are irresistible”, he says. “The genie’s out of the bottle and there’s no stopping it.”

IBM‘s big investment in India is not just about getting cheaper workers. If it were, IBM might have been in and out of India almost as fast as Apple, which closed its Bangalore offshoring centre last year after about three months, apparently because rising labour costs meant that the expected savings failed to materialise. IBM is doing cutting-edge research and development in India and writing valuable software, as well as running low-cost call centres. One reason for holding the investors’ day in Bangalore, says Mr Palmisano, was to show Wall Street analysts that “places like India do not simply mean ‘cheap labour’.”

Places like India: the other message that Mr Palmisano was keen to get across was the part other emerging economies are playing in remaking IBM—which he admits will take many years. Thus, IBM‘s financing back office is in Rio De Janeiro. It has call centres round the world. Last April, when Bangalore was paralysed by rioting over the death of Rajkumar, a movie star, IBM shifted data-centre operations to its facilities in Brazil and Colorado.

IBM used to have separate supply chains in different markets, now it has one for the whole company. Reflecting the growing importance of China, John Paterson, IBM‘s chief procurement officer, moved to Shenzen in October. He is the first head of a company-wide function to base himself outside America, though other top IBM executives may soon follow. Asia already accounts for one-third of IBM‘s $40 billion purchasing budget. Mr Paterson felt he needed to raise the quality of IBM‘s purchasing staff in the region and to develop its base of suppliers.
Another case of the Big Blues

Yet when history judges Mr Palmisano’s time at the helm, IBM‘s Indian strategy may prove far more important than what the firm does elsewhere in the developing world. Becoming a globally integrated enterprise is necessary for its success, but not sufficient. Cutting costs is crucial—and globalising the supply chain has saved IBM about $8 billion a year. But to grow in the newly integrated world, as Mr Palmisano puts it, the burning question becomes “what will cause work to move to me? On what basis will I differentiate and compete?”

So as well as realising “global integration”—no easy task in a mature company with 330,000 staff in 170 countries—IBM will also need the right products. It is here that India poses a special threat, not least because of its prowling, hungry home-grown tiger companies.

When Mr Palmisano became IBM‘s boss in 2002, the firm seemed to have a perfectly good strategy. It was the legacy of the famous turnaround of IBM engineered by the previous boss, Lou Gerstner, and described in his book, “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?”.

When Mr Gerstner took the helm in 1993, IBM was in deep trouble, on the verge of selling itself off in pieces. In particular, the legendary mainframe business was perceived to be in terminal decline, while the firm’s hardware (personal computers and the like) were rapidly becoming commodities. Mr Gerstner stabilised the mainframe business, which today is expected to see modest growth thanks to greater openness to independent software vendors, clever pricing and demand from emerging economies, including India. More fundamentally, he shifted IBM‘s focus from selling hardware to the fast-growing IT-services market, including outsourcing. In 1992 hardware generated around 55% of IBM‘s revenues, and services 25%. By 2001 hardware was down to about 30% and services up to 42%.

Meanwhile, IBM‘s share price rose from $11 in March 1993 to $125 in December 2001—a price it has never since matched. Last July it fell below $74, although it rallied after that—perhaps as the message that the firm is taking India seriously started to get through. Having briefly touched $100, it slipped back to $93 during the recent market wobbles. That is not the sort of performance to make a boss feel secure in his job, especially in this era of trigger-happy boards. (Though, if rumours are to be believed, a record-breaking bid from private equity may yet rescue Mr Palmisano’s reputation.)

Cyrus Deboo
Cyrus Deboo
 

When IBM bought the consulting arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2002, it seemed like the final piece of the jigsaw needed to complete the services strategy. The consultants’ industrial expertise and their relationships at the top of all manner of industries would help IBM move upmarket and lead to the more lucrative work of solving complex business problems. Rapid growth seemingly beckoned. In fact, IBM‘s services business suffered at the lower end of the market, owing not least to unexpectedly strong competition from Indian IT firms, many of which first got started in the IT business thanks to the vacuum created when IBM quit the country.

Even now, the Indian firms are a limited form of competition. The biggest, Infosys, has a stockmarket value of only $28 billion, compared with IBM‘s $144 billion. IBM also has lucrative businesses the Indian firms can only dream of. These include the lease-like revenues from licences relating to its mainframe computers and its pioneering “multi-core” semiconductors, which feature in (among other things) the three leading video-games consoles.

Yet corporate IT departments are continually being pressed to cut costs. The Indian suppliers’ credibility with international firms was boosted by their sterling work in inoculating networks against the Y2K computer bug. Indian firms have started to win big outsourcing contracts, some of which IBM had counted on as its own. Just as troubling for IBM has been the effect on contracts that the company managed to win, many of which were at far lower prices than they would have been without an Indian alternative. The prospect of falling margins on services contracts prompted IBM—and the other big multinational suppliers—to pledge a large amount of money to India.

Even IBM‘s Indian rivals concede that so far, despite teething troubles, the American giant has done well—certainly better than Accenture and EDS. If nothing else, the company has proved that you do not have to be Indian to manage a low-cost outsourcing business in India. Under IBM‘s ownership, the Indian workforce of Daksh, which runs call centres and does other basic “business process outsourcing”, has grown from 6,000 in April 2004 to over 20,000.
Cheap and cheerful

According to Pavan Vaish, its boss, IBM has largely allowed Daksh to carry on as it was, rather than imposing on it the IBM way, as might have happened in the past. “They studied the way we did business and said we don’t have to do everything here the way we run our other businesses. Certain core functions were added, such as finance, but the rest was left alone.” Indeed, IBM is now trying to export the Daksh way to other parts of the empire, such as its call centre in Okinawa.

At first IBM paid too much for Indian workers, adding heat to an already sizzling labour market. Now it is trying to attract and retain talent by offering training and a career path that leads up the corporate ladder. (IBM‘s Indian rivals counter by telling potential recruits that they offer better training and quicker career progression than an American company run out of Armonk, New York.)

This is paying off. According to Sanford Bernstein, a research firm, IBM has already increased profit margins from its services business, thanks to the cost reductions it has made in India.

Yet these are early days in the evolution of the Indian outsourcing industry. IBM will probably have to cope with two other new trends. The first is the decline in “mega deals”, outsourcing contracts that are worth more than $1 billion over several years. These were common in the first wave of outsourcing a few years ago, but many are now due for renewal. Some companies are said to feel they ceded too much control to the outsourcing firms last time and now plan to manage the work more carefully, not least by parcelling business out to several firms. Contracts that would have gone to IBM alone may now be shared by IBM and, say, Infosys.

Nobody is really sure how significant this shift will be. After a slow year for mega deals, IBM signed three in the final quarter of last year—with the German army, Vodafone and the state of Indiana. But the consensus in the industry is that deals will be split, which is bad for IBM and good for its rivals.

The second big change is that Indian firms are rapidly moving upmarket. IBM‘s great strength is in offering total outsourcing. This includes everything from simple call centres to remote infrastructure management (over 40,000 servers outside India are managed from IBM‘s Bangalore operations) to “business transformation”, in which IBM re-engineers and manages a company’s entire operation, including its staff. The company has made much of one such deal, to run the back end of Bharti AirTel, India’s leading mobile phone firm, whose boss spoke at IBM‘s investors’ day.

But the Indian firms are rapidly acquiring the skills and connections they need to compete for these deals. Infosys now has a consulting operation. Its smoothly effective boss, Nandan Nilekani, spends time building the sort of friendships with other chief executives that IBM bosses have had for decades and regard as crucial in winning contracts.

IBM and the other multinationals are becoming increasingly nervous about the fifth-biggest Indian outsourcer, HCL Technologies. It is leaving the world’s 200 biggest firms to the likes of IBM, and instead going after the next 800, which HCL‘s boss, Vineet Nayar, says tend to feel a bit neglected by the big traditional outsourcers. Largely unnoticed, HCL has won several contracts worth $300m-700m for infrastructure management and business transformation. In a recent deal with Cisco, HCL will take on risk from the American hardware company, using a contract that forsakes a fixed fee in favour of sharing revenue. According to IDC, a technology-research firm, HCL “may very well be one of the contenders to lead the IT services world of the very near future”.

As the Indian tigers improve, the pressure on IBM to innovate is bound to grow. That may get harder, which is why there is speculation that it will buy one of those Indian tigers. So far, adding jobs in India has not meant shedding many jobs in costlier places, such as America. And innovating may be harder when the corporate headquarters is in cosy New York rather than in the heat of the action in India. IBM‘s chief procurement officer may be in China, but no one who reports directly to Mr Palmisano is based outside America. Yet.
Play it again, Sam

Hoping to get IBM‘s share price up, Mr Palmisano has promised double-digit growth in earnings per share over the long term. That is a tall order, and feasible thanks only to IBM‘s progress in other businesses, which has partly offset the difficulties in services. Huge savings have come as the company has broken down the barriers between its various operations. It has bought vast quantities of its own shares. It has continued to sell low-margin commodity businesses, such as hardware. In these businesses, IBM does not feel threatened by the rise of domestic competitors in countries such as China. On the contrary, it was delighted to sell one of them to Lenovo, which bought IBM‘s personal computer business in 2005.

Cyrus Deboo
Cyrus Deboo
 

But the future gains from selling low-margin hardware businesses may be limited. That puts a greater burden on IBM‘s high-margin software business. In the past four years it has spent about $16 billion on over 50 acquisitions, mostly small software firms that have thrived after having been stitched into the company. It has done this so well that (the growth story in services having become a little hollow) IBM is now claiming to be the next great software company. In 2006 software accounted for 20% of its revenue and for 40% of profits, up from 35% two years earlier. Much of the growth is in “middleware”, software that helps all a firm’s different software to run together.

But the strategy on which IBM is pinning its hopes is more complex than just software or services. The company is betting that it can produce synergies from the three business lines—hardware, services, software—in which, unlike any of its competitors, IBM is a global leader. That means prising the firm’s employees out of their traditional product-driven business “silos” and getting them to work together. This strategy is articulated in the IBM way, ie, using plenty of jargon: “service oriented architecture”, “solutions” and so on. Rather than simply push products at customers, the new approach means sorting out customers’ difficulties using whatever mix of services, software and hardware leads to the best outcome.

One important part of this is especially relevant to the threat posed by India. IBM is trying to write software that automates many of the activities companies now outsource. It has picked 17 industries, two of which, health care and insurance, are being primarily addressed by software engineers in India. Examples include software developed in IBM‘s research lab in Bangalore that tests the language skills of applicants for call-centre jobs, greatly reducing recruitment costs; and a mortgage-origination business, launched last week, which is designed to automate lending by building on technology and software from two recent acquisitions, Filenet and Palisades Technology Partners. When processes are automated in software, they become an “asset”, the firm says, in the sense that programs generate licence fees and can be reused with other customers. This solves at a stroke the difficulty matching the Indians in labour-intensive outsourcing.

Analysts are divided about how successful IBM‘s overall strategy will be. An IBM executive complains that most of the analysts who follow the company are “legacy hardware guys who don’t get software”. One who does is Barry Rubinstein of IDC. He suspects that the Indian firms are too focused on short-term profits to make the best long-term bets, which may well include automation. “Things may look very different in five to seven years’ time, and much better for IBM,” he says.

In the meantime, the big Indian IT firms are delighted that IBM is taking them seriously. “Palmisano has authenticated our model,” says the boss of one of them. “We have convinced the global investment community that our model is the future,” he says. That keeps his share price rising and raises questions about IBM‘s value. Automation, among other things, may be a good long-run strategy, but in the short term IBM has to keep growing and get its share price up. “Palmisano’s problem is timing,” he concludes, with a smile. And to dance well, you have to get the timing right, as every elephant knows.

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