More than any other country on this planet, I would say that India needs free access to the internet to help it leapfrog to the next stage of its already large economy (the Indian GDP just surpassed that of the U.K.). In order to sustain its economic growth, remove system inefficiencies, open up new opportunities for entrepreneurs and alleviate poverty levels, India needs to subsidize access to the internet for citizens earning less than USD 10 per day.
That figure is a mind-boggling 500M people in my estimate, mostly based in rural towns, and villages. Even large cities have huge populations of people with no access to electricity, or even potable water. Given this situation, is it not laughable that I am suggesting internet as a free (or almost free) utility for the people to use ?
No, it is not a matter to be sniffed at. Given that tablets are now available at less than USD 50 (though not great looking), access to the internet utility becomes the major constraint for those masses of people who are at the fringe of the Indian economy which is still slated to grow @ 7.5% or more this year. The key enabler for these people is going to be knowledge and application of knowledge to their vocations and school learning. And, how is India going to deliver knowledge and actionable learning to the masses when its educational infrastructure is so weak ? How is India going to develop its intellectual capabilities beyond the IITs ? There are many questions but it is unquestionable that people provided with opportunities at the right times in their lives make it to a successful life later in their lives. Opportunity is critical and the Indian economy would not be in a position to deliver opportunities to the roughly 10M people coming into its workforce every year, most of them waiting for a job. That is close to 1M people every month!
Facebook and Google are opening up the airwaves in India by offering WiFi access in railway stations and other public places. While their goals are not entirely philanthropic, such initiatives by private corporations have to be commended when the national resources are tight to deploy access throughout the rural areas of India. I believe that India stands to benefit in a huge manner when all its villages and rural population are connected via satellite-based internet. Already 400M Indians are connected to the internet via their mobile phones.
India is not only a huge consumer market which is becoming more knowledgeable about the products the people wish to consume. It is also a melting pot for all kinds of experimentation that companies would like to pursue in the interest of testing their offerings. India is also an entrepreneurial nation of youngsters rushing to launch their new ideas or adaptation of ideas which have worked elsewhere. Given that the government is pushing the idea of a “Digital India”, it is not surprising that the population is warming up quickly towards the concept of all time and real time connectivity to test ideas, consume products, evaluate anything and everything. This is nothing short of a revolution in the making.
The good thing about India is that there is space for everyone. With its English-speaking workforce and modern orientation, India will become the third largest economy of the world by 2030, if not by 2025. It is critical that India offers opportunities to its aspiring people via the concept of free internet. Such an offering can even be positioned as free for 3 years, followed by USD 1 per month thereafter, for segments of the population which has an annual per capita income of USD 2,000 or less. For people earning above this figure upto a cap of USD 5,000 per capita, the rate could be fixed at USD 3 per month. People outside this cap would have to pay the commercial price. Such a subsidy scheme would go a long way in facilitating internet access to the teeming millions of Indians, transforming the country towards a Digital India.
I do hope this happens for the benefit of all Indians.
11th June 2017
It has been just about two weeks since I started wearing a Fitbit Alta device on my wrist in my quest to measure my walking performance.
I have seen an amazing change in my otherwise staid walking behaviour. For the record, I walk for about 2.1 KMs every morning (Fitbit measures this distance and also says that I walk for around 3,000 steps) of the working week, and almost 5 to 6 KMs for the weekend morning. So, I approximately walk around 21 to 22 KMs every week.
My challenge has been on setting a target for the number of steps. Initially, I set 7,500 then increased it to 8,500. I realized one day that this figure is not good enough as the American Heart Association says the average number of steps a person needs to walk everyday should be around 10,000 steps. I kept looking at that message from Fitbit for a few days, and then decided to increase the target to 10,000 steps.
It was easy to achieve between 6,000 and 7,000 steps during the period from waking up till returning home in the evening from office. However, I found that I am not that great a walker in the evenings, and could barely ratchet up another 1,000 to 1,500 steps in the evenings. This resulted in couple of behavioural changes.
I started walking within the office more than I usually do. I started walking more often to get a glass of water, for example. That might add some 300 steps. I also started pacing around a large room or meeting area or pantry when I got a call, or I had to make a call to someone. I found that this added a substantial amount of steps, sometimes in excess of 2,000 steps – instead of sitting and taking calls or making calls, I started walking every time. Together with the water trips in the office, I was easily able to add a minimum of 3,000 steps a day, which took my average walking measure close to 9,000 / 9,500 steps.
The balance was easy to make up by walking around the house in the evenings, pacing while taking calls in the evenings, etc., So, I started doing above 11,000 steps a day. I saw this kind of improvement in just about couple of weeks after starting to wear Fitbit.
The other important and somewhat compelling reason for wearing Fitbit was the comparative measurement of other folks who are connected to oneself and using Fitbit. I was able to see how I was doing compared to a few of my friends and colleagues. As it happened, several of my friends and colleagues were veterans of Fitbits, and have collected many badges on the way. They were clearly above 80,000 steps during any preceding week, while I was barely making it to 70,000 steps. This gave additional push to my behavioural change, and I have just started thinking of adding more steps to my daily rigamarole.
My estimate is that 85,000 steps in any one week is a very good figure to achieve for most folks (average of 12,000 steps a day). During the weekend day, I am also trying to ensure that I walk for over 6 KMs at the minimum. There is enough motivation to do so, given the nature trails in Singapore. I get into issues only when I travel, as I have to replicate the steps measure over a treadmill in a gym which is not exactly equivalent to open air brisk walking.
Overall, Fitbit is a good gadget addition to the list of gadgets we all end up with. May be I should go in for the latest device which also has heartbeat. I noticed that the Health app in my iPhone is not exactly producing the same as the Fitbit figures (the app produces far lower numbers as compared to Fitbit numbers). I am going to check out the latest Fitbit device or any other device which can give me more parameters.
Walking makes one feel good (I am sure running also does that). Walk more and eat less is my new motto.
23rd October 2016
Five decades after bullet trains (“Shinkansen”) revolutionized land transportation in Japan, it is the turn for India to enjoy such high-speed mode of travel with its speed, convenience and elegance. Japan is funding most of the investment required for the bullet train service between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and if this proves successful, then we can see all the key land corridors connected by bullet trains in the next couple of decades.
This is a huge milestone in the relationship between the two most powerful democracies in the world – Japan and India. Japan has also agreed to transfer nuclear technology to India after a long period of reluctance. In combination, these two milestones will provide the much needed boost for the Indian transportation and energy sectors in the years to come and further, solidify the partnership between India and Japan.
The Shinkansen system has not had any accidents over the past 50 years or so, as against the bullet trains from China which has had one major accident in the recent past. The reliability of the Shinkansen, combined with very low interest financing by Japan, and transfer of technology for local manufacturing clinched the deal for Japan.
However, one cannot ignore the Chinese competition. China has been working aggressively over the past couple of years in conducting feasibility studies for the New Delhi – Mumbai and New Delhi – Chennai corridors. These implementations will entail a very huge investment due to the distances involved, and my view is that the Indian Government will be hard pressed to ignore a competitive offer from China. The bullet trains from China are obviously lower-priced (like anything else) as compared to the Shinkansen which comes with a very long experience and expertise of inventing and running such systems with an impeccable accident record. However, a developing country like India will need to consider both the countries’ offers before making decisions on every corridor, and politics might eventually dictate such decisions.
India deserves to be served by such fast bullet trains as trains will become an “economic” mover. For the Indian economy to continue to flourish, the efficiency of the transportation sector, especially rail transport, is crucial. This combined with improving infrastructure logistics, will pave the way for the “make in India” campaign to be successful over the next decade. It will be easier to connect the metros with bullet trains than with roads, if one ignores the financing required. Further, trains provide mass transportation as compared to roads in India which still do not measure up to international standards – most people on the roads seem to be driving their cars followed by lorries. It is obviously not possible to run very long distance buses (for more than 500 KMs) due to passenger fatigue and other considerations.
Given the above situation, bullet trains provide an excellent alternative to the congested road systems of India. If one can travel at the speed of 300 KM per hour on bullet trains, why bother using flights for shorter distances ? It takes a long time door to door when one uses flights anywhere in the world, even for shorter flights. One prime example is the time it takes to reach your hotel in Kuala Lumpur from your home in Singapore. It takes not less than four good hours to go through the two airports, with the flight taking up less than 40 minutes. This is the reason why a high-speed bullet train is being contemplated between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. This is one of the highest air traffic routes in the world.
I am happy to see the closeness developing between India and Japan, this is a much needed collaboration. The Indian Prime Minister has taken a fascination towards the Japanese Prime Minister, and personal chemistry does deliver some wonders in due course of time. Japanese technology for anything is one of the finest available anywhere in the world (I am making this statement in a generic sense), and if India could find a financially meaningful way to leverage various Japanese technologies in its “Make in India” Campaign, then both countries would benefit enormously.
Let us not forget that this is a Democracy to Democracy partnership. The Japanese apparently see value in catering to the large Indian population, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this partnership becomes the most critical, defining strategic partnership in Asia, between any two countries.
13th December 2015
Last week, I visited the Texas Book Depository on Elm Street in Dallas.
While I had been to Dallas several times, this was the first time I thought about going to see the place where President JF Kennedy was shot in 1963.
It was an experience !
The Book Depository has been maintained like it was way back in 1963, some 5 decades ago. I thought the entry fee of USD 16 was somewhat on the higher side for what was essentially a lesson on freedom and democracy.
I read almost all the placards in which JFK’s life history, his passions, his determination on civil rights, and his fights with communism were so well documented. I also saw the couple of film documentaries on his life, especially impressed by the one that was shot after his assassination.
When I looked at the spot chosen by Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot the President, I was indeed surprised. It must have been a rather tricky shot – in fact there was a tree in the line of fire. There were so many doubts about this assassination leading to several congressional inquiries. It is very difficult to believe that an assassin took a shot on the President of the U.S. from a bookstore and almost got away, and that too, from an improbable angle with a USD 12.78 rifle that he purchased via post.
I spent an hour and a half and then walked down to the exact spot on the road where the President’s car was when he was shot, marked with an “X” mark on the road leading to the underpass. An “open” presidential car procession is inconceivable in today’s world.
The oratorical skills of President JFK continue to impress me. His vigour and passion, his deep interest in the arts, his ability to fight against the Soviet Union, and his very deep conviction on Civil Rights for the blacks are all elements of a world-class leader.
Well, that was a rather young and high-potential leader’s life cut short by a brutal assassin, who was probably mentally deranged anyway.
If you are in Dallas, make it a point to go to the downtown and see the Bookstore Museum. It became, and continues to be, an critically important milestone in the development of human freedom and democracy, and is a beacon for people around the world in memory of a President who cared about freedom of people all around the world.
27 April 2013
It is perfectly OK to be competitive.
It is fine to want to be the best and the first in the world. No question about that ambition.
India wants to become the world’s third largest economy in a short span of 9 years from now, by 2020. There is no problem.
But are we going to achieve that by trampling over each other, pushing our way up by shooting people ahead ? Definitely not.
Indians must learn to work together as a team to achieve the country’s ambition and vision to become a top player in the world, not just in terms of economic muscle, but in terms of political weight at the high tables of international diplomacy. The U.S. and China have that kind of power. Do we have ?
Long way to go. There is more internal fights and scandals in the government and outside, which are being witnessed on a daily basis. Even in something as mundane as sports, there are fights between the government minister and sports bodies. In fact, these days the newspapers and TV channels have become more of scandal mongers than true disseminators of news and news analyses.
When there are fights and internal differences which cannot be bridged, then you start to see cracks in the manner in which we approach problems and resolve the same. There will be long delays with attendant loss of business and growth. There will be weakening of the fabric of civil society. There will be dogmatic fights between political parties. And, so on and so forth.
At the end of the day, the achievements will speak for themselves. And these achievements will not happen if we fight.
One can see how the people push and climb over each other in simple queues even when there is no trouble, and that push is symptomatic of what happens in other avenues. For long, India has been a “shortage” economy, crippled by shortages of key consumption items. The tendency to push and climb over others arises from that mentality.
But we have now arrived at some better stage – we are one of the top 10 economies in the world. We do have poverty which is still widespread. We have a government which defines poverty line as something below INR 25 earnings per day, which is nothing short of ridiculous – the limit should have been at least INR 100 in today’s highly inflationary economy. But whatever are the numbers, India is far better today than it was in 1990.
But culturally, are we moving ahead towards a refined society ? We don’t have to be first always, we don’t have to beat the Chinese, we should realize that we are still admired all over the world for various accomplishments not the least of which is the strength of our democracy, et al.
As Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore once said – I do not have the exact quote, but he said something to the effect that Singapore would find the true character of its citizens when a famine strikes the country – then we would know how the multi-racial, multi-ethnic society survives by helping each other. The same thing applies even more strongly in the Indian context, wherein we have a great many number of races, religions, cultures, etc., It is important to take cognizance of this fact of working together in nation-building for the long-term instead of rushing past and lose one’s character.
Some rambling this is, but nevertheless I have written what has been on my mind for some time,
24th Sept 2011
Many did not see the results coming in the way it happened.
But, true to the democratic ideals and traditions, Indian voters surprised all of India in the manner they voted and delivered a stunning result for India’s next Government.
Once the early pattern of results became clear in the first couple of hours, it was evident that the Congress-led UPA alliance has taken an irreversible lead. Most people must have thought that Congress would have problems this time, given the departure of some of the allies and vociferous anti-Congress statements even by the ministers in the current government. Almost all parties were angling for future tie-ups in a very opportunistic manner. I had even written a blog post earlier on the Prime Minister’s own statements to this effect.
Well, it is all over now, and Congress has turned in its best performance in over 25 years. What is important in this whole exercise is the value of democracy as it is practised in India, which is the world’s largest democracy (over 700M registered voters). The U.S. elections pale in comparison with the 3-week elections in India. It is a massive demonstration of people power. It is a bit sad that voting is not compulsory in India, unlike in several other nations. However, a 58% turnout of the voter population spelt that there would be enough changes in the numbers this time. It proved out to be true.
The Congress could get a bit cocky, given the endorsement of the voters, but it still can’t go it alone without the support of its alliance partners. Horse-trading might have already started today ! The UPA alliance parties would be pushing the Congress for plum Cabinet posts, but the pressure would not have that much impact this time due to the strong showing of the Congress.
The other important and critical dimension of this election is the coming to power of young politicians. There are a number of them who have been returned to the Parliament for the second time in this election. The key difference now is that some of these young politicians could now well become Cabinet or State Ministers. With their fresh thoughts and ambitions, India could be well poised for significant political and governance changes in the years to come.
Another important result of the elections is the marginalisation of some of the regional parties, especially the Communists, who thought they could dictate the formation of the government with some 30 to 40 seats in Parliament ! They were successful last time, when the UPA Government had to make many policy compromises. Finally the Communists broke away from the alliance when the Prime Minister took a hard line on the nuclear agreement going forward with the United States. That did not jell well with the Communists.
Well, we will now see whether the Congress and the UPA are able to translate their success to major policy decisions which would take India forward in the comity of nations, towards a global leader status. The challenges are many, the night is long,……….and it would take many years, but I believe these elections are truly significant and symbolic of youth and urban influences which are trying to assert their rightful place in driving the reforms forward.
17th May 2009
Eduniversal Evaluation System: Business Schools 2008
The 2008 Rankings : IIM Bangalore ranked among 27 best B-Schools in the world, # 1 in India
Please see “The Eduniversal 2008 Rankings for India”
Eduniversal selection endorses IIMB’s international reputation and influence defined as the capacity of a business school to make a student valuable – and thus to improve their employability – in domestic and international spheres
Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) has been recognized as the #1 Business School in India, and among the list of 27 global Business Schools identified by Eduniversal, a unit of the French consulting firm SMBG.
The Award, presented at the Eduniversal World Convention at La Sorbonne, Paris, on November 4, 2008, recognizes the 3 best institutions within each of the 9 Eduniversal geographical zones: Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Latin America, Northern America, Central Asia, Far Eastern Asia and Oceania.
Notably, the Deans of the 1000 Best Business Schools from 153 countries have elected IIMB among the Best Business Schools in the Central Asia zone, with a recommendation rate of 398 per thousand, followed by IIM-A (379) and IIM-C (321), classified under “internationally known”.
“We are delighted to receive this recognition as India’s top business school. Eduniversal has developed a unique evaluation methodology; the acknowledgement from an independent international firm is significant for us,” says Professor Pankaj Chandra, Director, IIMB. “We have made several new initiatives, while continuing to strengthen our existing programmes, so that IIMB remains the preferred business school for students with global aspirations. ”
The process of the Official Selection involved a global mapping system meeting the criteria of universality and the international reputation of each academic institution. The aim of the Official Selection was not necessarily to include the 1,000 best schools, but the most important 1,000 schools based on a method of quotas, offering business schools the opportunity to measure their performance, evolution and durability both in their zone of influence and internationally.
First of all, the selection was made by the Eduniversal International Scientific Committee constituted by:
• 9 experts, each recognized both in their academic zone of influence and internationally
• 1 representative of the Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS)
• 2 executive members of the consulting firm SMBG
All countries in the world were concerned by this selection: the number of schools per country was weighted by quantitative and qualitative criteria. The first step led to a selection of 1000 Institutions taken out from more than 10 000 Business Schools in the World.
The second step was the classification by Palms, ranked from 1 to 5, awarded on two essential criteria:
– Evaluation of the International Dimension of the schools: their level of state recognition, their international accreditations (AACSB, EQUIS, AMBA…), their presence in most renowned rankings (Financial Times, Shanghai Jiao Tong, Wall Street Journal…), their memberships in international academic associations (EFMD, EMBA, CLADEA, AAPBS…)…
– The Deans’ vote: each Dean from the universities and schools on the list of 1000 had to vote to recommend the other academic institutions.
Eduniversal’ s ambition is to promote students’ mobility all over the world and give better visibility to the best Business Schools from more than 153 countries, and also to encourage all educational actors to share their experience and collaborate in a better way.
For more details, visit: “Eduniversal”
WHY AM I POSTING THIS ? IIM-B happens to be my alma mater – I passed out of the 2-year PGDM (MBA) Program in 1987. I recall it was refreshing and enjoyable to study at IIM-B. It was also rich with many interesting experiences for me – more on that later !
Have a wonderful week ahead,
23rd Nov 2008