Bureaucratic reforms : Crucial need of hour

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 Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced.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.

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

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There could be no two opinions about the need for the political leadership and the bureaucracy in a functioning democracy like India, to work in sync for the optimum implementation of the government’s programs.

Unless the two wings of the democratic system work in tandem, implementation of the programs would be fraught with the prospects of the watering down of the effect of the result when it trickles down to the common man who forms the fulcrum of the system of governance.

A flawed officialdom, with uncooperative civil servants in its ranks, is the biggest handicap that any government that aspires to translate into action the lofty principles of the ruling party for the betterment of the masses it is mandated to serve could be saddled with. A recalcitrant civil service is far worse than a vindictive political Opposition, which goes at the ruling party hammer and tongs at every available opportunity, with or without provocation.

While the ruling party could add, in the course of taking on a vindictive Opposition, strength to its political muscles and ideological armour by devising ingenious counter measures, a flawed administration would turn out to be its very undoing by failing or refusing to carry across to the public the government’s message of development in real terms.

And yet, it is the party in power that would be upbraided and penalized by the voters at the next round of hustings for failing to fulfill its mandate, leaving the faceless bureaucracy out of the pale of accountability. The secret of successful governance is, therefore, for the political leadership to keep an alert and watchful eye on the bureaucracy for ensuring the vindication of its raison detre.

No government worth its name could afford to be far too heavily dependent on the officialdom for the effective dissemination of its policies and programs in absolute terms among the voters; nor could it completely divest or distance itself from the motions that the administration meanders through. Aside from the inept and corrupt officials who owe their selection and induction into pivotal positions in the system and survival to an erstwhile political dispensation, a top heavy system of administration with reluctant bureaucrats at the higher levels, with ideological proclivity and leanings of loyalty towards a party in the Opposition, is fraught with the risk of the frustrated elements working against the political interests of the prevailing dispensation.

It is, therefore, important that the inept and corrupt elements in the civil services are identified and rendered harmless by a government immediately on its induction into power. It is for this purpose and in the overall interests of the nation that timely reforms in the bureaucracy assume relevance and importance.

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The Kashmir mess

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.

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

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It appears now that post Assembly elections 2014, Jammu & Kashmir has been in constant turmoil. Waving Pakistani and ISIS flags on every Friday has almost become a ritual. For any reason and even for no reason protests are being carried out.
Recent Handwara case is the best example. Here the victim girl has already said that she was molested by two local boys yet protests against Indian Army is not stopping. Violent protests had already taken five lives. I think there are two factors, which might be responsible for this.

BJP-PDP government is not accepted

To understand this we must visit the wide gap between the two regions in the state i.e. JK valley. Kashmir remained dominant since its accession to India. Kashmir is Muslim majority region where as Jammu is Hindu majority region. Kashmir valley although have around 15.73 per cent area of the state but it has 53.9 per cent population.

Jammu on the other hand has 25.93 per cent area of the state and has a population of 43.7 per cent. For some unknown reasons Kashmir valley is made politically strong. It has 46 seats compared to Jammu’s 37 seats. As the total number of seats in the assembly is 87 and half way mark is 44, thus Kashmir valley always remains politically dominant. That’s why Jammu region has become highly discriminated one.

If one compares development parameters between JK valley, one will find that Jammu is trailing in every index and parameters. That’s why the trust deficit between the two regions have become very deep over the years. If one see the two latest incidents he or she can understand how the two regions are standing exactly opposite. In NIT Srinagar case Jammu stood for non-Kashmiri students and opposed Kashmir’s stand against non-Kashmiri students. In Handwara case Kashmir valley is protesting against the Indian Army with no reason where as the Jammu region is standing with the Indian Army.

During the assembly elections, Jammu region voted overwhelmingly to BJP wishing that it can end discrimination against the Jammu region. On the other hand Kashmir valley voted strongly in favour of PDP in a bid to not allow BJP to come into the power because of its stand on J&K. BJP in fact became highest vote-getter with 23 per cent votes, 0.3 per cent votes more than the PDP. However PDP became the largest party with 28 seats and BJP became second largest party with 25 seats. Of all types of combination of government formation, BJP-PDP combination is the worst both ideologically and regional sentiment wise.

Jammu region never liked PDP and BJP is never liked by Kashmir region. Thus both BJP and PDP may have done a post poll alliance, but, people of both the regions have simply rejected the alliance. That’s why PDP lost its popularity very fast in the valley where as BJP too is losing its popularity in Jammu. The only beneficiary is National Conference, which although has roots in the valley but Jammu people see the party as less discriminatory.

It must be understood by BJP and PDP that whatever greater cause they aimed for during the formation of the alliance, without public support nothing is possible. Hence I think both BJP and PDP should get rid of such alliance, put the state under Presidential rule for an year, crush the separatists through tactful means and go for fresh Assembly elections. That’s the only solution ahead. If possible the Jammu & Kashmir state should be divide into three parts. Two states as J&K while making Ladakh as a Union Territory. This can solve a lot of problems.

Too much media activism

Veteran writer-cum-activist Madhu Kishwar pointed out this aspect that media is focusing too much on Kashmir issues. She even blamed senior journalist Arnab Goswami for giving more space to separatists. Her point is very logical. Pakistan flag is waved in the valley since decades. They are just bunch of people. But seeing the media response they get, they feel encouraged to wave flags of Pakistan and ISIS every time they come on roads to protest against something.

The separatists although are blasted by Arnab and others but they get opportunity to put their separatists point of view. Practically they use Indian media very intelligently. The moment media stops airing their separatist activities, they have to remain silent as people of J&K neither support Pakistan nor ISIS.

An international survey said that if option is given between India and Pakistan, majority of J&K people (85 per cent) want to be with India. However if another option of independent country is given then 60 per cent (in fact 90 per cent of Kashmiri valley) will opt for that.

Thus it’s imperative that the media should become more responsible and mature. They need to do a responsible journalism and not fuel the anti-India activities while providing separatists a platform to spread their views.

Ecommerce discounts and customer loyality

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.

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

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Customers today look for online offers on a daily basis and it has become a habit. The problem is that the companies who started this are now moving into loses while acquiring customers.
The major issues that e-commerce companies are facing today include:

Customers returning products: Due to the poor quality and juggling mentality of Indian customers.

30 days Return Policy- No questions asked: Well if we are buying something offline do we have a 30 days return policy? The answer is NO.

Payout Policy to Vendor Companies: Due to the above policies a lot of vendors are having success stories, but, more than that people have shut their shops and are not interested in selling online.

Cash on Delivery: It seems to be easy but if you are ordering for a bigger ticket size and you are not residing in one of the Tier I cities then probably the order won’t be taken. Moreover there is a threat at a lot of places and logistics companies have stopped working in few states because of the threat on COD orders. A lot of orders are not received by the customers when delivery boys call them up. So COD is the most risky segment.

Customer is not loyal: If you are looking for a loyal customer online you won’t find that because he/ she is only attracted to sites, which gives more discounts.

Products sold below the manufacturing price: The issue is that we have seen in alot of cases that goods are sold below the manufacturing price because of the heavy discounts. Hyper Retailers have been into a menace since then.

GST is on hold: A centralized taxation would help in the pricing and moreover would help in a flat pricing in the country. Still the same has not been passed and is just on papers till date.

 

Patanjali : A wave rising high

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.

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

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Patanjali has brought a revolution in making Ayurved and allied products most popular among Indians and foreigners alike. It is the integral worth of the Patanjali products that has gone down so well with consumers of all shades and classes.

A pertinent point to remember is the efficacy of the Patanjali products and no publicity is better than mouth to mouth publicity. The users of big and small products that they use talk to friends and relatives and say wah-wah for the Patanjali products. The literati, gliterati, the high and the low in the social order are equally concerned about their health. The high cost of established foreign brands and the low cost of similar products of Patanjali Ltd proves to the men and women, not forgetting children that Patanjali products are cost effective and health promoting.Let us recall the nestle products like maggie being thrown away from counter as they were found to be sub-standard and a vacuum was created for a short period of time in the noodle market.

Patanjali atta noodles filled the vacuum and made money to go laughing all the way to the bank. Here is a Sanyasi and his friend, Acharya Bal Krishnaji, Ayurvedacharya who know what people want and they provide products post haste without making a hole in consumers’ pockets.Indeed there lies the secret of success of Patanjali and its products both ayurveda based and beauty based. It goes on and on.The foreign companies that had almost monopolised the Indian markets are amazed to see the meteoric rise of aurveda products marketed by the Patanjali. What was onced treated as an untouchable in the field of medicine has made a bold front door entry to drive out foreign usurpers, so to say.

PM Narendra Modi’s plan of Make in India has been made a super success by Swami Ramdev and Acharya Bal krishna. The super success comes in the face of opposition onslaught and frontal attacks mounted by foreign business concerns in league with some Indian politicians who look to capitals of erstwhile communist countries for sustenance.

Some charges leveled against Patanjali were baseless like the alleged use of human bones and forbidden ingredients in making ayurvedic medicines. It was an attack for foreign system of medication on the age-old Bhartiya system. The attack failed miserably.

The false charges fell through. The false charges had no legs to stand on. The Patanjali products sustained itself in the vast market with the unflinching support of common man as well as the nationalist politicians of all shades and colors. the law and courts of law were on the side of the Patanjali products and their manufacturers. The truth won and falsehood day perished.

Indian B2B : Reaching Nash equilibrium

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.

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

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Walmart, an American multinational retail corporation, which already owns stores across eight states in India in a joint venture with Bharti Retail, is all set to launch an e-commerce platform in other India cities such as Lucknow and Hyderabad in the coming month. This initiative will support the business-to-business e-commerce services and fuel its sales power as well. The Walmart is estimated to be valued at USD 50 billion by 2020.
In April, the world’s largest retail store announced the opening of more than 50 wholesale outlets across India and started selling products to small shopkeepers also. The services will be available to its trading members only. The products won’t be sold to consumers directly.

Krish Iyer, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart, India, according to various media reports claimed that Walmart will focus only on e-commerce services. He also mentioned that its wholesale stores, which are currently providing services to those who reside within a 20km radius only, and the e-commerce services will double the radius than before.But there are many other companies, which are in the sector of e-commerce and providing their business-to-business services to the people across the nation. Big Bazaar represents one such example, a hypermarket, which caters to people with their need. This wholesale store claims to sell the best products at cheap reasonable prices. This online shopping website deals with furnishing, utensils, crockery, cutlery,sports goods etc.

The other online website in e-commerce sector is Spencer Retail owned by RPG Group. This ‘First Food’ format has a chain of retail stores in West Bengal. The retail store deals in food, apparel, fashion, electronics, lifestyle products, music and books.

MORE from Aditya Birla Group, which made its debut with their portal, deals with electronic items, accessories, home appliances etc of 42 major brands. Q shop from Sahara India has also tried its luck in business-to-business sector. Both of the above mentioned enterprises come in the same category, giving tough competition to the rest of online selling portals.

There are the renowned online selling portal cum distributors, which are contributing in the growth of online shopping in India. Each portal claim to provide its customers with branded products on reasonable price, but sometimes these portals are condemned for their bad services too. Its pretty tough to say which portal is best to opt for. But longer period of sustainability on the site can resolve out this theory. They provide you with their services at your door step and attempt to crack their scheduled target.

The existence of these portals have made people’s life easier. They can shop around or deal from their home only. Some online websites such as Myntra and Jabong also provides a facility of exchange of product within 30 days or on the same day, if the customer doesn’t like the product or find it unfit for themselves.

The variety of products and certain percentage of discount on products fetch more consumers. People shop online as they find it more comfortable than loitering outside as it is more time consuming. The popularity of any portal depends upon the services provided.

 

Coaching nexus and declining mainstream education

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.

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

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Coaching industry seemed to have turned into an educational mafia of sorts and it needed to be tamed, says an NGO functionary working for the education of deprived children in Jaipur. Not only the suicides by students have continued despite the patch work measures by the government after a spate of suicides by students in their late teens at the coaching hub Kota in Rajasthan.

Presently, coaching industry gives its teachers a much higher pay package and tends to poach on the best teachers by offering higher pay they are getting presently. Thus, the best teachers of mainstream education get out the system lowering its quality.

The flourishing coaching industry implies a deliberate attempt by the coaching mafia to sabotage mainstream education. Even teachers working in educational institutions coax students for tuition and coaching by them. This is cheating with the teaching profession and making education a commodity at ‘coaching shops’.

Unfortunately, the cut-throat competition and high-package of salary through campus selection have turned even many private institutions into coaching centers on the sly. Education has lost its psycho-social character; become a business and a bingo and betting game for coaching mafia to thrive. The New Education Policy must take notice of this scenario and stress improvement in teacher development and classroom processes.

 

Subsidy 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.

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

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A subsidy is a converse of tax, government in order to absorb load of inflation or high cost from the people who are not in position to pay are beneficiary to these schemes.

Like indirect taxes, they can alter relative prices and budget constraints and thereby affect decisions concerning production, consumption and allocation of resources. Subsidies in areas such as education, health and environment at times merit justification on grounds that their benefits are spread well beyond the immediate recipients, and are shared by the population at large, present and future. For many other subsidies, however the case is not so clear-cut. Arising due to extensive governmental participation in a variety of economic activities, there are many subsidies that shelter inefficiencies or are of doubtful distributional credentials. Subsidies that are ineffective or distortion need to be weaned out, for an undiscerning, uncontrolled and opaque growth of subsidies can be deleterious for a country’s public finances.

In India, as also elsewhere, subsidies now account for a significant part of government’s expenditures although, like that of an iceberg, only their tip may be visible. These implicit subsidies not only cause a considerable draft on the already strained fiscal resources, but may also fail on the anvil of equity and efficiency as has already been pointed out above.

In the context of their economic effects, subsidies have been subjected to an intense debate in India in recent years. Issues like the distortion effects of agricultural subsidies on the cropping pattern, their impact on inter-regional disparities in development, the sub-optimal use of scarce inputs like water and power induced by subsidies, and whether subsidies lead to systemic inefficiencies have been examined at length. Inadequate targeting of subsidies has especially been picked up for discussion.

 

Disruption :Embracing the change

 

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.

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

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Time has its own way of moving the mountains. Industry leaders who at a time became so huge that they become the de facto name of product they were offering and gradually they were forgotten in oblivion. If one look closely at the history of all big players of their time, one patter is clearly discernible i.e. history favored those who embraced it well ahead. Many big organizations did a very big mistake of ignoring the weak signals emerging from the market. They chose to remain too close to their current customers and totally undermined the tech savvy and avant garde customers which led to disasters. We have examples of IBM losing to mini computers market, Xerox losing to portable photocopiers, Kodak giving up In front of digital cameras and Sears giving up for Walmart. All these organizations have one thing in common i.e. not embracing the disruption.

Big organizations generally fall into trap of serving current market only and shaping strategies keeping in focus current and imminent customers only, which leads them unprepared for the future which is getting nourished in distant tech savvy world. As a result when the wave of disruption strike, these companies lose their market and spot.

Disruption as we know it is not only about technological invention in particular area instead any disruption brings with it impact on whole economic chain associated directly or indirectly with that industry. Like IoT has an economic potential of impacting automobiles, homes, manufacturing, healthcare etc.

Three aspects are very crucial for organizations to take Into account while preparing for disruptions-

  • Next big disruption out of all noises.
  • Speed at which it is coming to market.
  • Economic impact it is going to impart.

As the adage goes ‘early bird catches the worm’ o the preparations will definitely pay off.

Nationalism vs Democracy

 

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.

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

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From the past few days India is witnessing a whole new type of demarcation, on the one side of line are people who claim to be nationalists and patriotic and on the other hand are those who claim to be liberal and democratic. Now this demarcation seriously puts question mark on concurrence of nationalism and democracy. On the one hand we have people whose blood boils high enough to evaporate on the mere hint of anti-national activities and on the other we have liberals whose blood boil at any terrorist punishment. Recently when JNU students organized the solidarity function for the Afzal Guru, a convicted terrorist by Supreme Court who has been given death penalty it created a furor over whole JNU campus with ABVP representatives running amok. Now there are three important highlights here-

  • Rationales are being given that Afzal Guru is state convicted terrorist, how can anyone glorify him as it will set poor precedent for others to follow the same ideology. But then RSS also glorifies Nathu Ram Godse who was also state convicted! Question here is who will decide which convict can be glorified and which not?
  • Congress party leaders showing solidarity with students of JNU but then whose government was in power when Afzal was hanged? Is it amnesia or just sheer opportunism?
  • Most people are asking to shut JNU or host national flag in center universities. Does shutting down JNU means all anti nationalism will be contained? Or it will instigate other universities to follow the suit? From when does mere waving of flag over your head has the magical power of instilling nationalism in you?

Sedition charges were slapped against student leader on video recordings as evidences. If you look down the history you will be astonished to see in how much extreme cases sedition charges are slapped. Underlying question here is two fold

  • Who will define what nationalism is?
  • What are the boundaries of freedom of speech?

May be the old saying comes the clear winner here ‘Might make the rights’.

It is the time when students should realize on how much hard earned tax payer money they are leveraging. Instead of indulging in these unproductive regressive propaganda, they should be marching towards progressive world.

And government should on other hand should be more vigil to extinguish these incidents in the very nascent stage instead of playing politics over burning shacks of country.

Smart cities, really ?

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.

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

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Indian developmental needs: Do smart cities address them?

At the very moment of conception of the smart cities campaign, the government was all praised and hailed for the sheer magnitude and ambition of the project. Government of India in order to address urbanization needs of country decided to make 100 cities to be ‘smart cities’. There’s no simple definition for smart cities. The term encompasses a vision of an urban space that is ecologically friendly, technologically integrated and meticulously planned, with a particular reliance on the use of information technology to improve efficiency. In most parts of the world, the idea begins with using digital technology to make a city more efficient and to improve well being.

Traditional ideas of smart cities suggest smart data collection, using sensors – electricity, gas, water, traffic and other government analytics – that can be carefully compiled and integrated into a smart grid and then fed into computers that can focus on making the city as efficient as possible. For this ambitious voyage government this year decided upon to allocate 100cr rupees per city per year for next five years.

In this vociferous celebration of smartness and urbanization the fundamental underlying questions still remain unanswered as -do smart cities cater to urbanization needs of India? Is this a sustainable model? With the population of India rising constantly and exponentially orienting towards urban area how these smart cities will address their needs and expectations poses a reverberating question. It is expected that more than 600 million populations will be living in urban areas by 2030.

Consider a situation where you built a castle in the middle of the city which has no doors and is accessible to anyone who is willing. Since the resources, space and service capabilities have physical constraints and you can’t deny anyone the services or space what you will do? You will increase the price of space, services and resources to such exorbitant level that only those having a strong financial backing will be able to meet the costs. So again those at lower level of pyramid are left behind and this time in a more isolated, opportunity deprived martial lands. This depicts the humiliating tale of smart cities for those who can’t bear the cost of smartness.

Since inclusion of everyone in these cities is not feasible and also exclusion is not permissible by law, So there will be whole new range of problem for the modern India where there will be a surge of peoples rushing to these cities in chase of opportunities and equally lot getting disgruntled for not getting them. So the bigger question is Do these smart cities cater to urbanization needs or are they leading us to a more dreadful challenge of ‘too many people chasing too few resources’’?

If we look closely at the rural India it is the part which has been most modernization deprived since the times. When living costs and cost for space are burgeoning in urban areas, these rural areas are the one which offer low cost space solution for the growing needs of SMEs and startups but what holds back these organizations is sheer lack of infrastructure in rural India. This mutual opportunity for rural India for employment and infrastructure development and for SMEs and startups to have low cost space solutions has always been the most undermined interest.

So the question ahead for proponents of smart cities is, On one hand they have vast rural India waiting to be tapped and developed while on other hand they have urban India already burgeoning with prices and space issues. So do we need a ‘smart-ization of cities’ or ‘modernization of rural India’?