Friday, April 21, 2006

Forgotten Heroes!

We have a tendency to forget our heroes, be it in cricket, entertainment or any other field. People ordinary and otherwise are forgotten soon after they are past their prime, though they might have contributed a lot to the respective field.

One is especially pained at the treatment being meted out to Sourav Ganguly, ex Indian cricket captain. But one very crucial thing that really does not go away from my mind is the fact that we are even faster in forgetting ordinary people who rose to the occasion and did some extraordinary things, at times sacrificing their own lives. People who fought for our safety in Kargil and numerous other wars, people who gave their lives to save others in difficult times - earthquakes, Tsunami's, fires, bomb blasts, other accidents.

I guess people just like to move on with out bothering about these heroes. Forget them and may be write a line or two about them once in a while. Will it change – how and why?

Bull run - Will it last?

Its taken merely days for the sensex to move from 10K to 11K and now from 11K to 12K. What does this mean for the small investor? Well the pundits claim its just a regular run and the market, companies etc. are unlocking their value.

There are also other alternate thoughts that claim the run is about to get over as FII investments are going down and would further slide as we move into 2006.

I remember the days of Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh and also remember the same pundits giving similar reasoning for the bull run then. Those days should not be forgotten when the deeds of these two gentlemen(?) led thousands of small investors to near bankruptcy.

Hope SEBI, Mr.Chidambaram and team are watching this carefully. The important question is how long will the bull run last?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rising Salary costs in S/W and Services...

One of the biggest advantage India has on the software and services front is the cost factor. Gradually due to pressure on companies to hire, retain talent the cost advantage is taking a major hit.

Productivity levels in most organizations are either stagnant or have improved only marginally. One of the main reasons for stagnant productivity levels is the failure of most of the organizations in harnessing the energy of the new hires. New hires are either absolutely unproductive in the first 6-8 months or contribute very little. A lot of time goes in ensuring that this ramp up happens quickly and also to the levels of satisfaction that meet needs of all the stake holders involved. Since software and services are predominantly team driven, a weak link can disturb the whole equation and create chaos. One also see's a lot of complacency in people coming out of colleges - this could purely be due to the varied and many options that are available today to youngsters. ESOPs and other similar wealth creation schemes are not as attractive as they were some years ago. Also they are no longer practical for people at the bottom of the pyramid, the management would lose a lot of money in that.

All of these are pushing salary levels upward with an aim of attracting and retaining talent. If organizations are unable to work on these challenges and control the rising employee costs, the country would lose its biggest advantage - the cost advantage and would become as expensive as a Singapore (for example). Where does that leave India and thousands of Indians who are dependent on the services sector?

Monday, April 10, 2006

My birthday celebrations!

Why do we celebrate our birthdays? Ever wondered why people ask us to treat them with food and drinks on our birthdays?

I never celebrated my birthday till the time I went to college (10+2). Earlier it used to be a small, homely affair with my family and I used to look out for the nice things mom would cook for dinner. The celebration began with may be a small prayer (till the time I was old enough to resist and have it my way) and ended with a nice sumptuous dinner – mostly non vegetarian. Not sure how we became non vegetarian when our ancestors were all vegetarian – well nice subject for another article!

The birthday celebration in college was more to emulate others than anything else, well ok it was also to impress that beautiful girl whom I (and 25 others) liked. On one of those birthdays I invited her and a few other friends. She never came there; we waited for almost an hour and towards the end had to gulp the cold drinks and the cake ourselves.

After that I don’t remember celebrating my birthday and its been many years since that incident. Now the celebration starts with ……hmm….hmm…well nothing, it ends with a drunken stupor. The next day you pick up your stuff and get going – work, home wherever.

The essential element of life now is - Just keep walking (sometimes running too!)

Reservations isn't as bad....

Reservations and the whole Mandal issue may seem a bit more than just another political conundrum. But there is a definite merit in reservations being made available to the deserving. For one, I know a few friends of mine whose lives (and that of their families) are much better primarily because they were able to educate themselves well inspite of coming from an underprivileged section of the society. The sacrifices made by their parents and family members become much more worth while when they see their loved one getting a good job on the basis of his/her education.

A thing to watch out for when implementing reservations is that the principle of “creamy layer” be applied judiciously and in a more pragmatic manner. Only one generation of the under privileged should be able to reap the benefits of reservations. The rest should draw them into the main stream and if the “creamy layer” concept is understood and applied on the ground reservations would really be meaningful.

I wish the establishment was serious in a true manner on this one and not just view reservation as another vote winning rhetoric.