Oh PETA, Save The World!

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events and/ or publicly available information. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

T R Srinath, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Image result for jallikattuThe recent protest by Tamilians against People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as PETA, is a lesson to all Indians. The fight is not only for Jallikattu. It’s to save the Tamil heritage. The mass assembly of people at the Marina beach was a show of strength against NGOs like PETA which exploit the loopholes in the Indian legal system to destroy the cultural legacy of India.

PETA is a US based NGO that campaigns for ‘Animal Welfare’ worldwide. But how can it conveniently ignore the fact that US is the second largest consumer of meat in the whole world? Since when is bull-killing okay but not bull-taming? Is it not PETA which should have campaigned for beef-ban instead of RSS?

Image result for thrissur pooramPETA also accuses Keralites for using elephants for temple rituals. Pooram, a traditional temple ritual, uses elephants to take the deity for procession in the town. Even in their wildest dreams, the Malayalis cannot imagine God’s own country without elephants around. Instead of targeting the customs and rituals, where animals are in fact revered and worshiped, PETA should have rather looked into the fact that India is the largest exporter of meat in the world. I often wonder whether PETA is a synonym for hypocrisy!

Also, it’s worth noting that the biggest cause of global warming is not the industrial pollution- but the exhale and flatulence of animals reared for food! Cattle and poultry farming is the second biggest cause of CO2 emissions. So, here is my open challenge to PETA- Can you turn the whole world vegetarian? Not only can you save the animals, you can  save the world!!!

‘Intolerance’ in India

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished
sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or
misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Akula Manikanta, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.


It is ironic that India, a secular and democratic country, where different religions and faiths flourish, where the Constitution guarantees the Freedom of Speech as a Fundamental Right to every citizen, finds itself divided along the lines of tolerance and intolerance. Given the diversity that exists in India, tolerance is a value that is inherent to the idea of India, which binds different groups together. In the absence of tolerance, it would have been impossible to maintain peace in the country even for a moment.

For any multicultural society like India, tolerance forms the base or foundation on which the fabric of a pluralistic society is woven. Though Hindus constitute the majority, the Constitution of India protects the interests of the various minority groups. India has always allowed free inter-mingling of people from different communities and promoted harmony in the society.

Not just freedom to practice their religions, but the Constitution also provides Freedom of Speech to the citizens of the country. This means that the citizens have the liberty to express themselves in non-violent and non-hurtful ways. This is the beauty of India as it promotes a truly democratic and secular culture, something that even countries like China, with all its development, does not provide to its citizens.

However, citizens also need to realize that with the right to speak what they want comes the duty to not say anything that hurts the sentiments of people from various communities or harms national interests. While it is important to convey your views, it is more important to avoid any action or speech that weakens the social fabric of the country and that may lead to unrest in the society.

This is what we have failed to do recently. There have been a few incidents in the recent past, such as the Dadri killing, killing of a popular literary figure from Karnataka and the return of awards by prominent citizens, which seem to have divided the society along the lines of tolerance and intolerance. An attempt has been made to attack the government by portraying the growing intolerance in the country. While the extreme groups behind such incidents should be dealt with a firm hand, caution must be taken to ensure that the image of the country is not hurt.

I think that this is politically motivated. There is a conscious attempt by few political groups to make life difficult for the incumbent government. Stray incidents have taken place in the past too but such hue and cry has been created recently, just to put the present government under pressure.

In the name of tolerance, people have taken too much liberty and hurt the sentiments of the people of the country. The very foundation of India is based on trust, respect and acceptance that people have for each other. By and large, India is a harmonious and peaceful country, where people from different communities live together. Thus, tolerance is in the very DNA of India.

Lessons from the Mallya case

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Gaurav Singla, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Lack of transparency weakens our public banking sector. In the age of information technology and the Excel spreadsheet, the necessary transparency is literally just a click away.

It appears that not everyone agrees on the true significance of a flamboyant tycoon decamping with debts of Rs.9,000 crore owed to India’s banks. The gentleman is no ordinary businessman at that, having earlier been embraced by the country’s political parties that had rewarded him with membership of Parliament. That such an honour could have been bestowed upon Vijay Mallya, who only inherited wealth to make a lavish display of it when the country abounds with captains of industry who actually generate it, should alert us to how political patronage works.

When the incident had been analysed in the media as an instance of crony capitalism, a maverick economist had quipped that it may be better described as “crony socialism”. Perhaps he had had in mind that it is the public sector banks that had lent so fecklessly to Mr. Mallya, and these had for decades, been showcased as a symbol of Indian socialism.

Action and reaction

Bank nationalisation in the 1960s led to schemes such as branch expansion, priority sector-lending and the takeover of private banks teetering on the brink thus rescuing thousands of small depositors. But now, four decades later, it can hardly be asserted that the performance of India’s nationalised banking sector has been sterling, with inefficiency and poor service having been highlighted, and it taken the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana to rectify their failure to advance the cause of inclusion on their own. But nothing quite matches the scale of the present scam, with public banks having lent such large sums of money to a single individual with indifferent capacity and without adequate collateral.

We may argue over whether what we have on our hands now is the result of mismanagement, poor judgment or mala fide conduct, but one thing is clear. If the money is not retrieved from Mr. Mallya, the loans would have to be written-off, involving a depletion of our assets for we own the banks. And if the banks are recapitalised via the Budget, it would be us who will foot the bill for his excesses. Either way, it underlines the direct bearing upon us of the actions of public sector banks. There is no escape for us from this connection even if we migrate to the newer private ones for our personal banking, for we would continue to own the public banks.

Banks to blame

There is no question that the banks are responsible for the predicament in which they find themselves. How is it that several leading nationalised banks have separately lent such staggering sums to a dubious client struggling to establish himself in an highly competitive industry? There is reason to believe that Mr. Mallya was the beneficiary of pressure brought to bear upon the banks from the outside. And this could only have come from politicians who preside over the banking system in a governing capacity. If this is not the case, then we must worry seriously about how individual public officials can dispense such large sums of public money so freely. Are there no checks and balances in our public sector banks?

The term crony capitalism is used to describe a situation of private players being shielded from competition or vaulting over rivals due to the intervention of the ruling class. This usually takes the form of a relaxation of rules or granting of exclusive licences. The history of the United States in the 19th century is replete with examples of these. But things have improved substantially in that country, and in any case l’affaire Mallya is something worse. It is one in which the Indian public stands to lose directly. In the forms of crony capitalism considered above, the loss is indirect, usually in the form of higher prices. Even in the gigantic market intervention following the recent financial crisis in the United States, money had not been channelled to individuals.

Under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the government had purchased assets of struggling banks with a view to ensuring that they did not collapse taking along with them the rest of the financial system. These assets were disposed of later at a profit by the government! The U.S. government had acted smartly, while in the Indian case the banks now find themselves saddled with loans made by them to an individual with negative net worth. The irony could not have been more stark. The U.S. government had intervened smartly in a society strongly committed to laissez faire. On the other hand, for a country with “socialist” written into its Constitution, our public banks have unduly favoured a hereditary businessman without a sound business plan but with lots of political cronies. Also, the banks had lent to a company that has been in the news for not having paid its employees for a noticeable period of time. Here, India’s public sector banks have acquiesced in the violation of employment rights.

Dealing with the mess

Despite Mr. Mallya’s boorish style, we must resist the temptation of a tit-for-tat response, acting always in our best interest. Things that the Government of India can do would fall in two boxes. The first concerns possible ways to deal with the absconding debtor. The second contains measures needed to ensure that public sector banks do not find themselves in a similar situation ever again. On the first, there can be no question that the retrieval of loans made to Mr. Mallya must be pursued relentlessly. There are no grounds for giving him more time to present himself or to settle for less than what he owes the banks. He is perceived as a wilful defaulter and must be given exemplary treatment. The actions taken so far by the government are pathetic to say the least. The Finance Minister, under whose watch this has taken place, has not made any definite statement. He must actually announce a plan of action detailing how he intends to bring the businessman to book.

In the Mundhra Scandal in the 1950s it had come to light that the Life Insurance Corporation of India had supported an indicted businessman by purchasing shares in his troubled companies. With advice that retains a freshness today, Feroze Gandhi had stated, “Parliament must exercise vigilance and control over the biggest and most powerful financial institution it has created, the Life Insurance Corporation of India, whose misapplication of public funds we shall scrutinize today.” Following Feroze Gandhi’s intervention, the then Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari had to resign and Haridas Mundhra was arrested. Actually, l’affaire Mallya represents something more sinister, for a number of publicly-owned banks were commandeered to favour a private party whose dubious reputation was common knowledge. Immediate revocation of the absconding parliamentarian’s passport would be appropriate. After all, it would be fair to say that the ease-of-doing-business, so championed by this government, must be balanced by the difficulty of evading the law.

Making the process clear

Now onto the second of the set of actions that may be taken by the government in this case. In a plea to the contrary made by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to the Supreme Court lies an idea with hidden potential. When handing over a list of defaulters of loans from banks, the RBI is reported to have requested that the names not be revealed. As far as the publicly-owned banks are concerned, this goes against an important principle applicable to the public sector.

It would be unfortunate if we are to allow a distinction made between “passive” and “willful” defaulters to muddy the waters. The only question here is whether full disclosure will lead to better outcomes. There is reason to believe that it will. Details of every loan sanctioned by the nationalized banking sector, including the history of the borrower, the grounds on which viability has been ascertained, the guarantors, the collateral pledged and the officials involved may be posted on the website of the bank concerned.

We also need to work towards a re-engineering of procedures. It has been suggested that fear of being scrutinized by the office of the Central Vigilance Commissioner has petrified loan officers in the public sector into inaction. It is of no use having a publicly-owned banking system that does not extend credit to sound projects on grounds of retrospective scrutiny. This can be taken care of by moving to a system of whetting loan applications through committees, thus allowing joint responsibility to come into play. Lack of transparency weakens our public banking sector. In the age of information technology and the Excel spreadsheet, the necessary transparency is literally just a click away.

Liqour Ban in Bihar

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Pratikshit Gupta, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Bihar is now one of the very few Indian states, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, that have a total ban on alcohol.

Tuesday’s complete prohibition followed an earlier partial bar on intoxicating beverages in the state.  The local government in Bihar last week announced a ban on locally-brewed liquor that has in the past been blamed for many alcohol-related deaths and illnesses. It said then it would extend the ban on other forms of alcohol in a phased manner.

However, the government moved to a total ban a week after the first ban took effect April 1, saying it had public support.

Alcoholism, mostly among men, is blamed for domestic violence and deprivation in rural and poor households in India. The prohibition of alcoholic drinks was one of the promises Mr. Kumar made to the state’s women voters during the assembly election there last year.

The only places exempt from the ban are army canteens, Chief Minister Kumar said. Beverage factories in the state can continue to operate but can’t sell alcohol in Bihar, he added.

Addressing concerns about the loss of much-needed tax revenue that was collected from the sale of alcohol in one of India’s poorest states, Mr. Kumar said that people would spend the money– which they would have otherwise spent on alcohol–on education, health, nutrition and betterment of the quality of their lives.

FDI Policy in e-commerce : Hurdlefree or New Hurdles

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Abhishek Jain , MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
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The state of uncertainty in business for players in e-commerce is pretty comparable to hawkers selling their commodities on the pavements. Both of them exist in a perpetual state of precariousness. The recent move by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion tries to reduce this uncertainty.

As per the previous policies, FDI was not allowed in the e-commerce in the country. But this never flinched the homegrown startups from raising millions of dollars showing astonishing Gross Merchandising Values to the VCs. All these startups projected themselves as technology enablers and software companies rather than e-tailers. In the previous policy, no distinction between a marketplace and inventory-led model was defined. But the recent guidelines by DPP has ended the vagueness and paved the way for 100% Foreign Investments in the marketplace model, however for inventory led models there is no provision for FDI.
Yet the E-commerce industry is not at all happy with the recent policies as it restricts any vendor to sell more than 25% on any platform, which major players like Flipkart and Amazon are not complying with. Moreover,  new rules have stopped the marketplace platforms in pricing the products they are selling, experts believe that Govt. has introduced this rule with the intention of creating a level field. But this rule may cause a serious dent in the sales of these p;platforms as almost all of these e-commerce provides huge discounts to boost sales.

Refrences

  1. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/traders-demand-revisit-of-e-commerce-fdi-policy/articleshow/51687036.cms
  2. http://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/news/cait-traders-demand-revisit-of-e-commerce-fdi-policy-821888

The Year of Monkey

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Ruchi Patel, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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8th February 2016 marked the first day of the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar, the Chinese New Year – China’s most ceremonious holiday. This Spring Festival, the holiday is steeped in layers of myths and traditions.The festivities usually start on New Year’s Eve and continue till the 15th day of the new year. It is celebrated in many countries throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and in other parts of the world where people with Asian heritage have settled. It is a time for families to come together to eat good food and participate in cultural traditions.

In China, it is customary for adult children to be home with their families by New Year’s Eve. This tradition leads to a massive travel season in China. Over 2.9 billion trips have been booked during New Year’s time in 2016. This festive season also calls for a lot of security measures in public transportation system. In Beijing, armed riot police and soldiers keep a close eye on the surge of travellers, ensuring a controlled form of chaos.

The date for Lunar New Year depends on the movements of both the moon and the sun. On the Gregorian calendar, the holiday will generally fall between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. The festival traces its origins to the Shang Dynasty (between 1600 BC and 1100 BC), when people offered sacrifices to gods and ancestors to mark the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year.

While the Western zodiac system is divided into 12 months, the Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 years. Each year is associated with an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. People are said to be influenced by the personality of the animal that rules their birth year.

This is the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal in the cycle. The monkey features prominently in many ancient Chinese legends. People born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be intelligent, clever, and gregarious, but also mischievous. They are skilled and smart, but shortcomings, like a quick temper and a touch of arrogance, tend to hold them back. Some famous people born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Monkey are Leonardo da Vinci, Julius Caesar, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Hanks, Mick Jagger, Daniel Craig, Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Smith and Miley Cyrus among others.

Although Lunar New Year is rooted in religious traditions, in recent decades the holiday has become a largely cultural celebration. The colour red is a representation of good fortune to the Chinese. The colour appears around cities everywhere in China during the New Year – red lanterns in doorways, red paper cutouts adorning windows, etc.

The New Year begins at different times of the year for people of different faiths and cultures, but one thing that is common to all of them is celebration with friends and families. Most of the time the only thing that changes after new year celebration is the calendar but beginning of a new year gives a hope for a new beginning in life to write a better tomorrow.