Sunday, August 21, 2005

Jai Mata Di

The trip to Hyderabad was followed by what has now become an annual ritual for me, a visit to Vaishno Devi shrine. Followed so closely by the Hyderabad trip, that I headed straight from the Airport to the railway station to catch the train.

Keeping me Company were the usual suspects, Deepak, Himanshu and Pandey. The rush there was maddening. Locals told us that the rush is unprecedented for the shrine. And there was a queue for everything, from hotels to food to the darshan tickets.

People were stuck for more than 24 hrs, struggling to get the opportunity to get the darshan, the rush had all the makings of a potential stampede, but somehow things worked out well. With Mata’s grace we did not face too much of a problem, had a good darshan and were back. Though one exception this time round. We missed out on our customary visit to ardhkunwari.

I guess that is left for the next time. Until then….

Jai Mata Di!

Hyderabad Times

A very welcome break from the monotonous rigmarole came in form of a break to undergo a training programme on “Project Appraisal and Infrastructure Financing” in the sprawling campus of IDBI owned training institute JNIDB. Must say. It was a beautiful campus with excellent facilities.

The city took me aback with its cleanliness, civic sense the extent of development and infrastructural facilities available there. What was even more impressive was that the common man there was happy with the government machinery for what it has done to the city. They proudly said that the government machinery actually works without “grease” here. That’s not something you here too often in this country.

The training programme had certain excellent speakers representing the top brass of IDBI’s infrastructure financing side. Extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their work. The discourse was extremely enriching, and the members of the group interactive, participative only made it better.

Visit to the Golconda fort with the big gang was quiet a drag. The sound and light show in the voice of Amitabh Bachchan was fairly well done and was made even more interesting by the company I kept.

The campus was so reminiscent of MDI, and made me feel as if I belonged there. I wish we had more time there; I just hate to get back to work. Meeting with professionals doing the same work across industries, gave an entirely different perspective to the entire thing. The outings were fun-filled, though certain loud members of the group did make others uncomfortable and the fun vitiated.

Overall a trip worth remembering!!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

India a Manufacturing hub

The story of India’s growth has been as delighting as it has been mesmerizing. Going by conventional economics, there are certain pre-requisites for growth like:

  • Purchasing power in citizens
  • A good manufacturing base
  • A good manufacturing base
  • Good ports and airports

If we have a close look at the above, India has none of the above, and yet it is growing consistently with a growth rate which will be enviable for most developing countries. (China humbly excluded). I agree the growth rate could have been even more phenomenal, if it would have been supported by the above mentioned “pre-requisites”. In fact to my mind the way forward is to address these deficiencies.

If we are so deficient in such basic requirements, what are the factors which are driving the country’s growth, and more importantly is this growth sustainable? Let’s take each question one at a time.

Factors driving India’s growth

The factors which have led to this high rate of growth in the country are:

  • High percentage of people in working population
  • Technology leveling the ground between developed and developing countries leading to large scale labour arbitrage (result BPOs)
  • High number of English speaking population willing to cater to the needs of foreign work requirements
  • High number of skilled labour

The above factors explain how we have managed to skip a vital chain in a country’s growth pattern, where first primary sector like agriculture and mining develop, then the manufacturing sector and then the service industry. We jumped straight from the primary sector to the service sector, thanks to skilled labour, revolutionary technological changes and woefully inadequate infrastructure and directionless government machinery.

Is the growth sustainable?

Very debatable, but I will say yes, to a large extent because I want to believe that the answer is yes. However, for the country to grow, it is imperative that sooner rather than later the infrastructure and manufacturing sector as to grow. The scope for growth is huge. Providing basic amenities like power, water, food, housing alone can lead to a kind of growth which will be unprecedented. (Yes, it can be unprecedented even by Chinese standards). What is required, is a strong government will, growth oriented policies and above all sound implementation with minimal leakages and misutilization of capital. A public-private partnership for a sustained growth is called for.

Like any other country, within the manufacturing sector, the commodity sector will take the lead, and surplus capital generated therefrom will be employed in other technology and knowledge intensive sectors. The preponderance of growth in the service sector means the service infrastructure for fast growth in manufacturing can be supported without too much of a hiccup.

Other factors which goes in our favor in support of growth in manufacturing are:

  • Cheap Labour
  • Growth in quality management education leading to pool of managerial skills
  • Technological development of developed countries can be adopted, without having to invest too much of our own capital
  • A huge proportion of the population in the working age group of 16-59Increasing consumerism

Looking at the possibilities and setup, there is no doubt in my mind that we have the wherewithal to be the next manufacturing led growth story, which will be both inclusive of a larger section of the society and at the same time create a new breed of capitalists. Are you willing to be a part of the party yet?

Investing Gyan

Discipline over temptations

For the last one year I have not put in a penny in stock market, because I felt that I should pay off my education loan before I start investing (no prepayment penalty meant that I could do that). How is that for a person, who believes that he can make returns of 20% CAGR, and the loan is costing him only 7% net of IT benefit. Hence, to my mind it is important to make the best use of this leverage, and pay off both the leverage and invest with a disciplined approach, rather that first loan than investing. With this new found wisdom I made my first investment of Rs. 15,000 in GE Shipping, which I think is ridiculously under priced.

There will always be cheap stocks

For all those who think that the market is overpriced and the bubble is waiting to burst, I somewhat agree with you, but then, no matter the sensex, their will always be bargain stocks in the market for the most discerning investor. The only problem is your effort in such a market is twice that you would need when the market overall is under priced.

Cash flow woes of salaried people

Salaried people like us get money on a monthly basis, and hence unfortunately, the investment decision is required to be made every month. The option of maneuvering the cash flows, which is available to self-employed and business people is often little. However, this also means that you can do with hitting the research desk only once in a month, and not on a sustained basis, when you have money to invest. The mantra for wealth growth is, invest small amounts every month.


No matter how small is your resource pool, it still pays to get your portfolio diversified. It gives much greater liquidity, strength and options, when you need to dig from resources. Yes diversification can be an important reason for liquidity when you want to sell. Further, the common known benefit of diversifying the risk is anyways there.

Don’t get too close to the market

One is best of not monitoring the market on a regular or daily basis. The more times you see the price of a particular stock, psychologically you feel that you have been holding it for a much longer period than you actually have. Then the doubts on your research capability, decision making, and choice start to crop up. Your perception and pulse rate start oscillating with the stock movements. These tensions and problems are best left to the punters, let the investors instead make money.

Happy Investing!!!

Mood Swings

Ever wondered, why do we human beings have so many mood swings? One moment one is ecstatic the next you feel totally out of tune with the happenings of the world. Ever thought how much better we human beings would have been if we were devoid of this mental faculty of joy and sorrow? I guess at some point of time all of us have pondered about this relatively inane question. But most of the times, we would either shrug it off as something not worth bothering, or we go by the old adage that it’s sorrow which makes joy extraordinary.

It is the adrenalin rush on big occasions something that pushes one to stretch more that his or her capabilities, but it is the same adrenalin which can have you on the brink of disaster when you want it the least. So will I trade off my adrenalin to a more measured mechanical lifestyle where everything happens in measured quantities?

Someone said that happiness is what lies within you, but yet we seek for it in all the worldly pleasures, and the more we have them the more redundant our previous possessions become. I remember when I first bought a mobile phone, I thought it was a luxury, today less than one and a half years down the line the same phone appears not only basic but redundant and pre-historic.

It’s not the phone that I am talking about, it is the shortening span for everything, we live in the world of fast foods, fast cars, short attention spans, short product life cycles (had to put this, thanks to my educational background), frequent job switch and a perennial itch to prove to everyone around you, that “I am made of a different mettle”. Yet the more different we strive to be, more similar we become in attitudes. The more educated we get, lesser becomes our tolerance for diversity and adversity.

An educated person always wants to play safe, becomes risk averse to the extent that he would not want to lose his one months salary to explore the potential of earnings which can be multi-fold his present salary. This is where we need to have a re-look at our education system. But then I am digressing from the individual perspective to criticizing the education system.

How in this world where everything is ‘grown’ on shops, does one correlate to the nature? It is not only the existence of nature outside, but also one’s own nature that one is getting estranged with. What should one do, swim against the tide and go back to his roots, or should he flow with the tide to gain momentum. One strengthens the muscles, the other gets the momentum. Unfortunately you can’t have both.

It is decisions like these, which not only shape the future but also defines one’s character. Hope most of us have the wisdom to take the right choice, and more importantly because of right reasons, and not because of the fear of the other.


Once upon a time, in a place called Gokul, their lived a mother with her foster son. The mother had no children of her own, but she never minded it, because she doted on her foster son. The child also oblivious of peripheral issues like whom he was born to loved his mother as much. They were going on a long journey together, the kid holding his mother’s finger, and the mother constantly indulging in playful banter with him.

Somewhere during the journey, the child got left behind, the mother didn’t notice and kept walking, when she finally realized and turned back, she saw another child on the way. This child was extremely attractive, well dressed and well mannered but all alone. The mother thought, this is also a child who does not have anyone, and is extremely attractive and good looking, so why cant I take him along as well. She took the second child along as well.

By this time the first son of the mother had caught up. He apologized to his mother for having lost certain paces and again started walking with her. But very soon, the son started to feel a little left out, as the attention of his mother was getting concentrated on the other child. He indulged in certain antics to catch the mother’s attention, but the mother after ignoring it for some time, coldly rebuked him.

When, the child tried to hold his mother’s finger, she took her hand off after some time. The child stopped at the middle of the road where the path split into two separate ways, and started crying, hoping that mother will come and take him along.

But mother kept on walking, she turned for a while, looked at her son, to see what he was doing, realized what the matter was, but refused to stop, kept walking….

The child feeling lost and deserted didn’t know what to do. Shall he keep standing here? Shall he chase his mother and catch up with her or shall he take the other path?

After contemplating for some time, he took the other path. But in his heart of hearts, he still wanted his mother to call him back. He knew that even if she calls back, he probably would not go, yet he wanted comfort of the fact that his mother still loves him. That would have been enough for him to take the journey ahead all on his own.