Friday, December 04, 2009

Global Terrorism - My two Cents!

Global Terrorism is the result of inequality – in Economic opportunity and Human Literacy. From the ancient times most economic progressions have happened with war as an instrument. Growth was by annexing new geographies. The Greeks, the Mongols, the Spaniards and the British have practised this form of economic progression in some form or the other. The aggressed have resorted to defence in various forms including covert war that have sometimes yielded results or at the very least, created statements.
The Modern world, heralded by the Industrial Revolution of the Nineteenth century in Europe laid a focus on using the threat of war as an instrument rather than actual act of war. This form of progression divided up the world like never before, along nationalistic lines and religious beliefs. The result was Two World Wars and the long period of the Cold War. The Cold War allowed numerous groups, sects and countries to align with super powers that could feed or raise their agenda, in any form. Unbridled greed and insecurity also fed their agenda that mutated to dreams much beyond the rules set up by the super powers themselves. There was a catastrophe waiting to happen.
The Cold War ended after the Berlin Wall. But the arms that were available in the world, their users who had acquired egos and inward looking governments of various countries presented an opportunity for the under classes who had not yet been a part of the world wide economic boom. Instruments of war turned against the Global population. The oppressed wanted to turn aggressors. The gun presented them with the moment.
So, Lebanon, Syria, Chad, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua and many other countries that did not see their governments pick up the gauntlet of progress turned to the gun as an instrument of peace, security and prosperity. The super powers could not play the game of checks and balances. Hydras created had started to threaten their masters.
What we see as terrorism today is a process of livelihood and progress to many groups and sects. Religion has got very little to do here. Literacy, or the lack of it, has got a lot to do with it. The UN has not made rapid enough strides in Education. The whole basis of Developmental Economics is to allow a person to progress in his surroundings and culture and not to uproot him. Development in the modern world has disregarded this tenet completely.
If we were to correct the situation today, we should start with Education, then move to Local Livelihood engagements, Provide for Local security of land, shelter and work places, create effective Local Governments that are democratic in nature and create centres of Excellence that allow religious beliefs, moralities and creativity to flourish even as countries pursue Industries and Infrastructure.
Inclusive Economics, a phrase much spoken about, has a much deeper meaning today than ever before. Terror is an instrument, used by people. Reform is for the people. The instruments shall be put away as a matter of course!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why do we shrink from quality family time..

Gautam Gambhir has decided to forego the last Test between India and Sri Lanka for his sister's marriage in Delhi. The Australians take leave from Cricketing duties for much less. Yet, it seems to be a matter of discussion in the media here.

Ganguly in his column in TOI actually defends Gambhir for what he is doing. Why? Why does a man trying to take care of his family have to be defended at all?

This is a very strange phenomenon I see all over India, in workplaces, in schools and colleges or in public engagements. Family time is viewed as an oddity. I remember a Chef friend of mine had just returned from Canada and as parents there do, went off on a weekday to his son's school to watch his son at basketball in Goa. For the next few days, all of us spoke of his neglect of work for trivial pursuits such as that. Strange but true.

Another instance, not too long ago, there was a lady worker on my floor into her fifth month pregnancy and she had to go for a check up. A colleague went hammer and tongs at her the next day. Intelligently, he avoided mentioning the pregnancy, but he picked on her lack of detail on the previous day and how she could have rectified it the next day, when she was not present.

This brings me to my question. Are we not prepared to seek or take some family time that all of us require from time to time. Is it blasphemy to speak about personal engagements during work in India. I have seen so many people conveniently lying about it at work.

This timidity we carry from schools, onto colleges and into the jobs that we go to. In US, many of my friends remain the best workers for time, but low on quality many a time as the recoup is just not there. Is it the reason that our people do not have original ideas? A question there....

Monday, November 09, 2009

DTH is the way to go for Budget films in the future..

Yesterday I read in a paper that India shall have 6 million DTH subscribers by October 2010. Good. That set me thinking.

What would it do to the floundering revenues of films in India. A country where filmed entertainment has been ravaged by piracy. These days, to get a body into a multiplex auditorium it costs an amount to make a film and near about that amount to market it, all for the first three days, beyond which the pirated discs are out and the hinterland happily buys the Rs. 30 disc to partake in the entertainment, quality be damned!

DTH shall have 6 million subscribers. So, there is opportunity for this. Read on:

1. Make a movie for 3 crores at best.
2. Promotion is just digital as practically all subscribers shall visit the net or his TV screen or some such digital medium.
3. Make Lease transactions with all the DTH companies for a short term Lease.
4. Release it on DTH platforms along with a few choice theaters thereby calling it 'class' entertainment.
5. Even if 5% of the DTH Subscribers see it in the first two weeks, the revenues could be -

6000000 * 5% = 300000
300000 * Rs. 100 (average ticket per download) = Rs. 30 million

The money spent on the film production is already recovered. So, a producer can make profits if he just puts in a bit more effort in Marketing his content, acquires a good story and gets a good director to work wonders with the story. The stakes are low and so he can work this story without the necessary stars that populate our tinsel world.

We shall be spared "Kambhakht Ishqs" and "Blue" films!!

We may even get to see gritty subjects, made by good directors with a neat cast who can "act", not tire us with noddy mannerisms that pass off as acting.

Also, digital content cannot be copied so easily and so we may not see pirated discs. Also, pirated stuff are usually of the "star" subjects and not these low budget ones we are talking about here. So, no harm done!

Better technical personnel will get their due through this alternative medium. Indian masses are most happy when served good entertainment at home, through room service. So, no harm there too!

A safe idea, ain't it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clenched Jaw Determination...

I haven't attended to my blog for a long time. Criminal, very criminal, but what do I write about?

1. How I have been doing at work?
2. How I have been utilizing my spare time in running after a passion that has brought me at the cusp of a great transformation in my career and my talent for creativity?
3. How I have been postponing the writing of the second draft of my book?
4. How I have been avoiding a trip, to a hill station, close to my heart?
5. How I have been trying to shed those extra kilos that sheath me in ripe middle age?

No, I shall write about all this some other day.

Today, it shall be about a trait called "grim determination"!

Some years ago, we had bought this duplex Apartment in a suburban area of Kolkata and were to shift to the new abode in a few weeks. I and my daughter decided to visit the place one evening. My daughter was then in first standard. An obidient child that she is, she kept by my side through out my visit to the apartment. But, I could sense her excitement on seeing the green lawn and its play area, that the developer had thoughtfully provided for the community there. But she had no playmates. I suddenly suggested to her that she should run three rounds of the lawn.

She agreed enthusiastically. But a small child like her would have problems and so it happened in the third round. She was breathless and very tired. I egged her on. Then I saw her face change. A different jawline appeared as she ran the last few metres just on determination, the will to succeed and the single objective of achieving the finish line. I was impressed with my child. I knew if we did not spoil her in the oncoming years, she will excel in whatever she does as she had that 'grim determination' to succeed under all circumstances.

This year, under a lot of duress at work, a change in job profile, my erstwhile colleagues living the company in a hurry and basic insecurity in these tough times, I had not many people to turn to. The saving grace was that my new assignment had me returning to familiar environs of Pune for business development. I had to grit my teeth and start all over again in my tenure with my company.

I dithered, for that is human. I optioned my chances of success. I tried to chart out a progress in this scenario. But then one never knows about what lies ahead. I could not turn to a forecaster or a soothsayer! It was also getting late at the job. I needed to perform. So, I decided to ditch all inhibitions and wade into this river with only my abilities as company and lots of "clenched jaw determination" that I had not used for quite sometime.

Today, I am glad to say, I am ahead of the curve, at work, at home and in my head. I am able to clinch deals, understand goals and getting around to achieving them as my organization would have wanted.

Is it not fair to say, when in strife, just put the head down and work hard, as you can!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

He is more determined than usual. The company that he has set out to start up is showing no signs of coming off the ground. At work, he realises that he can go as far as this and no further as the requirement of his skills are only that much. It can be frustrating. But, he is training himself to hold breath, judiciously mix his abilities with his vision. He is being patient. Alien to him, but an altogether necessary commodity in this crazy path to success.

He is more silent than usual. Not his style. But, being vocal would not get him where he wants to be. He would not be able to listen to the clicks of the levers when destiny shoves the key into his liberation groove. He needs to keep his eyes and ears open for the click of the key. Interesting stage, it is!

He can see the mist. Of insecurity and unsure future. But, he can also feel the throb of his diligence, his ability and his knowledge. The throb shall turn into a purr. A machine well oiled when he is on board and sailing. It is a matter of time, he understands.

She knows it all. She can see it in his hooded eyes. She can feel it in his tensed body at night. She envelopes his frame in her warm cuddle to melt away those measly worries. She fertilizes the determination in him. Silently yet lovingly. It is the salsa that needs no practise anymore.

The click. That sound. The flight of pigeons. The soar. The applause. She, the silent one. Beside him. Tender. Warm and indulgent. Man and woman!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Life on the Leasing Path!

It has been a long time that I have attended to my blog. So, here I am, back again to do as good a job as I can.

Many things have happened over the past few months. There has been a shift in my Job Description in the past month. I am now in Leasing and Sales. In a way, this is my first direct Sales job ever in life. Usually, people go the other way. They first do Sales, then Marketing or Strategy and then arrive at General Management. I moved from Operations to General Management to Projects and now am in Sales. Well, that's how it is. Go with the flow, as they say!

But, Leasing, in my belief (and I should be right about this) is a different ball game from plain Jane Sales. One has to create an ever lasting relationship that goes way beyond just a Sale. Some Realty agents or Salesmen in US operate on a different scale. They schmooze at a very high level, keep excellent relationships, keep track of executive movements in the professional world, in fact sometimes have a whole office who advise them as to when to go in for the kill!

In India, we do not do such stuff as our relationships are easily formed and kept. Over smaller achievements, answers and smiles. But, we are not able to articulate what is on our mind so easily. I believe that our culture does not provide for that. We just have to carry along with this. I am grateful to Baba that he taught us the art of positive speaking so early in life. I always believe that if I get into a room with other people, they shall be convinced at the end of the session, no matter what the subject is about!

But, Leasing has another thing to it. Follow Up. Rigorous. This is where most of my mates are stumped. This is where I need to test my mettle.

More stories as I motor along this highway. Sayonara.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Delhi 6, Billu, Dev D - a study in Strategy

Let me draw your attention to a very prudent Marketing principle:
Delhi 6 is releasing this Friday. The net is agog with good news out of New York about the movie. Good to hear. UTV, again, as usual has done a tremendous job of getting the film to its required junta. The songs and the music are doing wonderfully well and are able to lend to the movie’s marketing a whole lot.
In fact, this brings me to the above principle. Delhi 6 was announced to the world some two years ago and R O Mehra took some time to get together his principal cast. But, he had done his script and had taken pains to give A R Rahman a complete narration of the screenplay. Rahman , on his part, started with his homework and it then took a painstaking process of much over a year before he got all the tunes in place. Tunes that were from all over the place, various types of music, even a devotional number that he had safeguarded for about nine years!
ARR knew Rakeysh’s story. He also could get the spirit of creativity. He nurtured it. So, look at the product we have at hand. ARR strove to provide us through Delhi 6 music the strongest relationship – love and honesty. These were tunes that were not hatched up in a Rum and guitar session. These were not ditties that were composed at 6 am in the morning because Shreya Ghoshal was not going to be available for another 3 months as she was going away on a Live tour! This was not poetry that was hatched up with stock words such as “Soniye”, “Munda”, “Mar Jaawan”! This is lyrics, as we know it from the “Aaa chalke tujhe main leke chaloon” days. Prasoon Joshi may not write another single line at all but shall be remembered for “Arziyan” forever. This is what I mean when I say “Strongest Relationship”.
When this kind of a relationship is created at the outset, the rest of the movie is created with the same fervour and devotion. I can very well imagine the cast, high value ensemble that it already is, would feel when confronted with such writing and such music. Top your best, shall have been the cry in unison. I can definitely say with complete confidence, even without getting a minute peek into the film, that Vijay Raaz, Dipak Dobriyal, Divya Dutta, Rishi Kapoor, Supriya Pathak, Waheedaji, Om Puri, Pavan Malhotra, Sheeba and the others would have just been driven by some unseen power to deliver acting standards that they themselves had not touched before. Such is the power of sturdy, hard, painstaking, honest work and craft!
The Marketing principle also stated “Profitable customers”. Fortunately, Indian cinema, the unique Entertainment juggernaut does have the entire country’s population as its “profitable customer”. Movies made with utmost honesty with true regard to story, plotting, music, language, idiom and communication shall always be able to reach out all the customers.
Billu – a moderate movie with a simple cast except Shahrukh Khan has not seen hysteria at the Box Office. Why? For me and many other people, it is that entry of Shahrukh and his dalliances with three heroines, promoted as they were. So, what happened?
a) It became a mass movie that converted into a multiplex movie
b) It was a multiplex movie all along but had tried to break into other markets too
I really have no problems with either marketing premise, but was the story or marketing true to its form. No!
Ideally, the movie was to have 3 – 4 nice songs from the heartland, like the location of the movie, based on new sounds, but heartland, with good and clear lyrics, not the Urdu symbolisms that fail to enthuse the normal paying people and that good cast to do some even more pithy lines of dark humour right through the movie.
But what we got is a Shahukh Khan starrer where he has pontificated about the goodness of our film industry. C’mon, people can see through all of this! So, Monday onwards the movie is taking a huge dip. At best, it will scrape through somehow and a thundering performance by Irrfan shall be consigned to the back pages of tabloids.
On the other hand, Dev D, a movie, that had an entirely different form, style, content and visual appeal has managed to stick through the last ten days quite merrily. The reason is very apparent. Kashyap and UTV focused on getting their customer right with the right story, the right pitch, the right music, hummable lyrics, easy to understand dialogues, everyday pronunciations and generally kept the vim and vigour flowing. Kashyap has gone on record saying that he bounced it off his mother too.
This is the hallmark of a good Producer, manufacturer or service provider. They keep it simple to make it easy for the customer to see some value in it. Thereby, a Brand is created and generates mindspace and heartspace.
Delhi 6 is on its way to become a huge trendsetting blockbuster.
Dev D has shown what a good small film can do.
Billu is where it is!!
The Best Startegy is still the best product, a great movie shall still result from a well told story and its accompaniments, other gimmicks can be kept back in the garage!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

To President Obama - Sramana Mitra on Strategy

To President Obama - Sramana Mitra on Strategy: "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let our minds awake.
-Rabindranath Tagore"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009..Here we go

2008 was bad for India and for the world at large. For me it was a nice year. I switched from my Job in Pune in early Feb. In fact, I recieved the offer while I was in Kolkata celebrating my cousin sister's marriage in Jan.
My in laws visited us in Feb. They did have a nice time in Pune. I spent my last few days in Pune at home, with the family. That too is a rarity for me. Ma also went over to my brother's place in Hyderabad. She also had a nice time.
My new Organization turned out to be very different from what I had seen of companies till then. The pace is hectic and so are the dynamic people in it. Work became a pleasure, a passion to excel, curiosity for the better and striving for productivity. I loved this. Mumbai was kind. I took up residence in a PG dig in Bandra and started life anew.
By April, I had been assigned Bangalore as my area of purview. The project was very promising. After having been in Marketing and Operations through the most part of life, switching to Projects and Retail Leasing was the trickiest. But, I have been managing fruitfully till now. There are two projects under development in Bangalore. Things are underway and we are making daily progress towards a mid 2010 launch!
Personally, I got to know a lot of new people. PFC became a serious hobby. I am looking at this getting to be a serious business entity in the oncoming future.
I acquired a lot of new friends on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It helps!
My classmates from the olden times have also become accessible. Its been good on the whole.
So here's to an equally or more happening 2009!!