The ‘More for less, for more’ innovation


(There’s been a while I’ve been out of touch with blogging. Since the last few days I’ve been feeling the void to blog and share to the world what I’ve been learning. I hope to be a regular from now).

I just stumbled upon a thought provoking video from a recent TED talk I watched, where Dr. RA Mashelkar who’s the former Director of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in India spoke about how some innovations transformed into global social innovations impacting many. Be the the Tata Nano, A prosthetic limb or a treatment for psoriasis ( a fatal skin disease) etc that solved basic human problems/needs.

One thing I learnt from the video is that if you’re a learner or a doer, think what your life has to offer, look at the problems around you, talk to n number of people and try to solve it in a way that is accessible and affordable by all. You will become a homemade entrepreneur by taking incremental steps to create disruptive innovations. Be passionate, compassionate and then try to innovate and create ‘the more for less for more’ innovation the world needs for the 4 billion people who are earning less than $2 a day.

Check out the video here:

RA Mashelkar’s video on ‘More for less for more’

Changing Education Paradigm


Sir Ken Robinson explains how education has revolutionized the world, and the kind of cultural, social and intellectual shift required by educators throughout the world.

We know a lot of online education platforms starting from one man show Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org), to a Stanford based online education startup Coursera (www.coursera.org), a similar Harvard based online education portal EdX (www.Edxonline.org) and a collaborative platform Udemy (www.udemy.com), where anyone can become an educator and take a class of what they are good at or love doing. The shift in education is definitely going much more collaborative, open and filling the wide gap of education in the lives of the ones who can afford to ones who can’t is filled with the platforms like these.

Not just this, in the developing countries organizations like Teach for India, adopted from Teach for America are working to spark the lives of the poor, who cannot afford basic primary education.

The future of any nation lies in education and a paradigm shift from people’s adaptability to attitude of the countrymen is needed to bring that change. Not just this, if we have enough earned through our capabilities and skills or even inherited, we must sponsor a child for his/her education. It’s like giving life to them and their family. 

The Three kinds of Entrepreneurs


I read this most amazing quote today by the founder and CEO of Mu Sigma Mr. Dhiraj Rajaram. Mu Sigma is a billion dollar company in data analytics and is known to manifest entrepreneurial growth through the data scientists it makes out of programmers, analysts and applied Mathematicians.

He draws a relationship between the types of entrepreneurs and the two main kinds of marriages in India. He says, “ There are two kinds of entrepreneurs. One are arranged marriage entrepreneurs and the other are love marriage entrepreneurs.

“The arranged marriage entrepreneurs are the ones who want to be entrepreneurs and they look for the right business. They shop around. They try out different ideas. They sit in Starbucks and meet with people. They talk to VCs, raise money and sometimes even exit. And like many arranged marriages they have beautiful endings.”


“The second kind of entrepreneur is the Love marriage entrepreneur. He is somebody who has found a girl and wants to live with that girl. And as part of that he is ready to get married with that girl. The girl is the idea. I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to work on that idea.”

 

This analogy is indeed very true in the entrepreneurial context in India. There are always two sides of the coin. One side, which will always look for good ideas and create a business out of it. The other side, has already found out the idea and wants to work on it for the rest of his life. What do you think is more transformational? I say, its both. Both kind of entrepreneurs are needed in the startup ecosystem. One fosters competition and other fosters innovation. Both of which are necessary for a healthy startup scene.

I love the fact, that these two kind of entrepreneurs can be anyone. There are no set rules to become an Entrepreneur. Anyone can opt Arranged marriage, Love marriage or In India, Arranged cum Love marriage, which is the best bet and the hybrid third type of an Entrepreneur. To all those people, who never thought of marriage, marry your love and arrange it.

 

The new wave of Emerging Markets- 1.0


English: Map of Emerging Markets

English: Map of Emerging Markets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a friend’s suggestion, I have started reading this book the recent economic bestseller ‘Breakout Nations’ by Ruchir Sharma, who is the head of Emerging Market Equities and Global Macro at Morgan Stanley. It is one of the must reads for any who is interested in knowing how the emerging market economies run and insights on different sociological, demographical, political and industrial parameters required to judge the nation’s growth curve, or like he mentions a nation which can standout in the future of economic parade, the growth survivor Breakout Nation.

As we know, BRICS are more or less the most overhyped term used in the Emerging Market perspectives for businesses and nations. With the dominant force of the US in the world economy diminishing after the 2008 financial crises, there is an optimistic wave among investors and companies to reach out or expand or invest into these economies of the future who are turning out to be major players in the world market.

China: With China fueling over a double-digit growth over few years and dependent on exports, it runs on a constant urge to grow and become the world’s next superpower. Though, its communist political party which has been in power since a long time and has carried a legacy of their ‘its glorious to be rich’ leader Deng Xioping, it still has to keep up with the upcoming investment trends and demographical misfits which they are likely to face after 2014 read [the number of young people joining the workforce is going decrease over the next decade] and the businesses have overshot their manufacturing capacities in terms of labor and capital. The businesses in China run over exports and cheap labor, that might turn against them in the coming decade. With the center Beijing becoming a political powerhouse, the real estate market is on a high and has become unaffordable to the middle class chinese family. The first condition of girls in China for their marriage partners is that the latter should own a house. Though the per capita income is on rise, almost around $4000 and inflation at around 5.5 %, the future of the Chinese economy is not going to be based on the type of government in the center but on the kind of leadership that takes China forward. Owing to the popularity of chinese proverbs, one which their leader in Communist Party of China, Deng Xioping quoted ‘No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat’. They have been good cats in the last three decades, surviving as a cat is going to be important for them in the coming overturns and times.

India: As India’s great hope trick continues to pervade over the minds in the west, it is anticipated to grow in building conscience over its complexity of the Coalition government, State politics, diverse Stock markets (0ver 5000 listed companies in all types of sectors from Energy to Automobile to Pharmacy) and Sadhus of the himalayas. Coming from the crony past of License Raj, a red tape-driven bureaucracy in which licenses were given to only who could manufacture goods but also determining at how much and at what price, to the liberal economy from 1991, it has come a long way in reforms and policies mostly in favor of the nation’s capitalists. As Ruchir Sharma describes India as a high context society that believes deeply in tradition, history, favoring the in-group and hence more vulnerable to corruption. The country has deepened its roots in the world economy and has got a seat in the center-stage of developmental economics. Though the per capita income is around $1400, owing largely to its 1.2 Billion population, the country has witnessed a growth boom between 2003 and 2007, nearly 9% per year. With a large savings environment inherited from its ancestors and a large workforce, the domestic consumption in India is growing every year on year basis. Though, environment of doing business in India is largely dependent on your political connections, there is a lot of divestment from the large companies now ‘outward facing’ who are in-turn expanding their businesses to other emerging markets. Investment by Indian businesses has declined from over 17% of GDP in 2008 to 13% now and overseas operations now accounts to more than 10% of overall corporate profits compared with 2% five years ago. This leads to a spike in inflation. With inflation is around 7-7.5 % and the growth rate in GDP is around 5%, the Indian crony capitalism is at its peak leading to various scams in the past 5 years. With more number of Entrepreneurs and young people joining the workforce, the reforms of the government will help small businesses measure its true value. The Congress led UPA government has disappointed in its second term, but the bucks are on the mighty of the west in the upcoming 2014 elections. Democracy can always overturn and is sociologically unpredictable. As E.M Forster remarked about India, But nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of the question causes it to disappear or to merge in something else. If we are able to identify our core roots, we can be an economically sound nation in decades to come, if not a superpower. Definitely, a chance to become a breakout nation.

Will write about Brazil, Russia and other emerging markets in the coming posts.

Remembering Vivekananda


English: Higher detail image of Swami_Vivekana...

Today is the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda (1863-2013) and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. He was a spiritual leader, a man of principles and an avid orator in Interfaith Awareness.

I am sharing his speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago in 1893. which I luckily found on the web.

Here’s the full length of the speech, a must read.

Sisters and Brothers of America:

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.”

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

Luck favors the unintended


We know that our ‘role model’ predecessors whom we look to must have been the innate example of ‘Luck favors the brave’. We have often being advised by our peers, family, mentors etc that to achieve something you have to set your goals and try to achieve it by knowledge, hard-work and passion. Would this just be enough to achieve something we always wanted to but never identified it in the first place?

Yesterday, my father narrated me a story of his life, a story which changed his life forever. A story of fate and fortune. Coming from a middle class family, my father was 13 years old when he was sent to study at Birla Public School in Pilani, Rajasthan (one of the finest boarding schools in India) with a sole intention by my grandfather to make him an engineer from BITS, Pilani in the long run. My grandfather was turned to by his brother who was living in Pilani and he suggested him to send his son to the school with a pretext of making him a capable person. My father went to attend the school for Class 8th. Owing to his nature and his attachment for my grandmother, he started writing letters to my grandmother when he was in school tugging at his heartstrings. When my grandfather came to know this, he posted all these letters to my father’s uncle back there in Pilani. The uncle then fixed this situation by asking the school authorities to take a retest for my father for Class 9th. This meant that my father had to give the re-test, could not think of going back and was stuck at the school for one more year. Propelling his will to go back, my father left Pilani with his bag in the middle of ninth standard, boarded a bus from Pilani to Delhi and then a train from Delhi to Surat with just 20 rupees in his pockets.

He came back to his parents and then was admitted in a local school. He then pursued Bachelors in Chemistry in a local science college. After getting a bachelor’s degree, he started working under my grandfather who was working as a Manager in a textile firm owned by Birlas. After one year working under my grandfather, he set out to float his own textile business. Since then, there was no looking back for him and he build a successful business along with his two younger brothers. More than 20 years in the business, he has been resilient and consistent in the growing the business. His experiences taught him to take a leap to something unconventional and go on a path less intended. One thing he told me ‘If I would have stayed in Pilani, completed my high school there and pursued engineering, I would never have got into business (which he nor my grandfather thought in the first place) and so whatever happens, happens for a reason’. 

We, as a generation, often ponder over our goals in achieving something through those common attributes of planning and hard work which have been preached over since ages and fear to take unintended risks. If we achieve or we don’t, luck has not only supported the brave but also the unintended. So, its sometimes better to be unplanned, believe in yourself and start looking for the dots which will eventually connect when the right time comes. Clock is ticking and I am waiting to ring my bell.

India-Superpower in 2048?


Recently, came across this enthralling TED video based on statistics. Do we envision a hope here?

I am optimistic if there is good leadership at the center of Indian Politics.