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Bheeshma or Dhritarsahtra

Sanjay of Mahabharata was blessed with the magical vision by Veda Vyasa to observe the goings on of the Kurukshetra War without being physically present there. Sanjay of Mahabharata was not a mere narrator describing each day’s battle events; he was also taking the blind king through the virtual battlefield of morality and righteousness.

Sanjay Baru of today unfortunately lacks such an inner eye to cut through the fog of such moral dilemma. In fact although being present in the thick of political theater of UPA I his narrative is only a clever attempt to create a so called balanced scorecard of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s regime- the wasted decade of India.  His latest book on the so called “Accidental Prime Minister” neither gives any new facts that are not already known to Delhi cocktail circuit, nor does it give a nuanced analysis of the real social forces that shaped this regime of dual power center – one real and another  a façade.

Dr. Baru is a trained economist turned journalist and to be successful in both his chosen vocations one has to be an ideologue and not a dispassionate observer of reality. He has stated that his erstwhile boss should be likened to  Bheeshma  and not Dhritarshtra.  So his boss was neither blind or nor weak kneed due to any filial love for his flock. Bheeshma participated in the Kurukshetra War because of a covenant that he was obliged to honor- at least that is what he thought was morally right thing to do. But Dhritarashtra does not have that excuse.  He simply abrogated his responsibility as the king to uphold the justice and right path by failing to advise his son suitably. In fact, his blindness can also be seen as a poetic metaphor  to explain the king’s inability to see the truth.

In Dharamvir Bharati's "Andha Yug" translated by Alok Bhalla, the king tries to justify his failure to stop the decimation of the Kuru clan before Vidura by saying thus:

"Vidura

try to understand

I was born blind,

How could I have discerned the real world

or recognised the social codes"

In Dr. Singh’s case the lines would be

 Vidura

try to understand

I was only a technocrat

How could I have discerned the intrigues of the political world

or recognized the rules of the games

In Andha Yug Vidura counters the King by saying.

"You could have,

just as you

accepted the world      

in spite of your blindness"

For Dr. Singh the Vidura would have retorted:

You could have

Just as you accepted the position of power

in spite of being a mere technocrat

 

May be Dr. Singh would have cried out like the King did in Andha Yug, paraphrasing it suitably:

 

My senses were limited by my bureaucratic obsequiousness.

They defined

the boundary of my material world.

I had spun an illusory world

of  office notes  and agenda papers  and circulars

out of the depths of that bureaucratic hollowness,

My career, my positions, my friend circles, my post retirement sinecure

had evolved out of my peculiar world

My ethics had no other form of reference

My bosses were my guides and mentors

they were the final arbiters of truth for me

my love for them was my law

my code of honour"

The stanzas of Andha Yug are taken from http://vasanthisankaranarayanan.blogspot.in/2012/09/dhritarashtras-blindness.html

 

Tale of Two Manifestos

Tale of Two Manifestos

 Election manifestos of political parties are always taken with a fistful of salts. These are supposed to be pledges, a draft social contract between electorates and the prospective elected representatives. But these pledges are generally observed but in breaches. So hardly anybody reads them carefully, let alone carry out a symptomatic reading as prescribed by the Marxist scholar Claude Levi-Strauss. However, it may be of some value to subject these manifestos to a pejorative exercise, if not for anything but fun. In that vein I carried out a word count analysis of the 2014 election manifestos of the two main contending parties- Congress and BJP. And the result speaks for itself. The words selected are clearly subjective and so are their categorizations. The numbers in the tables below and in the charts are the number of occurrences of the chosen words in the respective manifestos.

Category of words

No of words

Congress

BJP

Social Justice

3

122

70

Economic justice

7

38

42

Social harmony

2

11

2

economic efficiency

10

82

132

Economic growth

8

121

135

Governance

3

41

61

Sectarian appeal

6

7

39

Education

2

60

60

Total

41

482

541










Category

Word

Congress

BJP

Difference

Economic justice

inclusive

15

3

12

Economic justice

poor

8

9

-1

Economic justice

poverty

7

13

-6

Economic justice

price

4

9

-5

Economic justice

inflation

2

7

-5

Economic justice

wage

2

1

1

Economic justice

inequality

0

0

0

Economic efficiency

reform

33

22

11

Economic efficiency

tax

15

13

2

Economic efficiency

technology

9

57

-48

Economic efficiency

competitive

7

10

-3

Economic efficiency

economy

7

18

-11

Economic efficiency

productivity

3

7

-4

Economic efficiency

current account

2

3

-1

Economic efficiency

competition

2

0

2

Economic efficiency

fiscal deficit

2

2

0

Economic efficiency

economic reform

2

0

2

Economic growth

growth

49

33

16

Economic growth

farmer

20

9

11

Economic growth

employment

17

13

4

Economic growth

agriculture

13

20

-7

Economic growth

business

10

17

-7

Economic growth

industry

8

30

-22

Economic growth

trade

4

13

-9

Economic growth

unemployment

0

0

0

Education

education

55

58

-3

Education

higher education

5

2

3

Governance

corruption

15

13

2

Governance

delivery

14

14

0

Governance

governance

12

34

-22

Sectarian appeal

minority

4

3

1

Sectarian appeal

culture

2

20

-18

Sectarian appeal

heritage

1

13

-12

Sectarian appeal

temple

0

1

-1

Sectarian appeal

hindu

0

1

-1

Sectarian appeal

muslim

0

1

-1

Social harmony

communal

6

2

4

Social harmony

secular

5

0

5

Social Justice

right

58

22

36

Social Justice

women

57

37

20

Social Justice

empowerment

7

11

-4





Basking in the Reflected Glory

Basking in reflected glory

Appointment of Satya Nadella, a first generation Indian immigrant, as the CEO of Microsoft has been hailed by the Indian media as the ultimate endorsement of the quality of Indian software talent pool. A leading Indian English language newspaper has carried the news as its front page headline news. Nobody can deny that the personal achievement of Mr. Nadella has been exemplary and deserves all the accolades that he is getting. But this brouhaha about a major multinational corporate appointment whenever the person concerned is an Indian reflects the complete lack of self-esteem of Indian educated elites.

I have heard lament of many Indian women, them being compared to moon – emitting only borrowed light gratuitously shone on them by their husbands. Basking in such reflected glory and idolization of its heroes is a common Indian trait. In fact, to his and his family’s credit Mr. Nadella and his Indian parents have refused to play ball with the media and four lines in his mail to his colleagues is a testimony to his emotional maturity and distaste for drivel. More importantly no emotional baggage of Indian connection is evident.  

I am 46. I’ve been married for 22 years and we have 3 kids. And like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family and my overall life experiences. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me.”

Be that as it may, Nadella phenomenon is a pointer to a fundamental weakness in the Indian growth story, particularly in respect of its most successful industry- the software industry. That 21st century will be driven by a knowledge economy is now almost a truism. Economies that cannot produce, attract and retain the best talent are doomed to remain a laggard in the race to become a developed economy.

Recognizing the importance of talent in spurring the growth of digital economy, INSEAD, a leading business school with campuses in Europe, Asia and Middle East and Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore has jointly developed the first Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI). The first such report was released in November 2013. (http://global-indices.insead.edu/gtci/documents/gcti-report.pdf)

The report identifies two types of skills-   a mid-level skill also called Labour and Vocational (LV) skill and another high level skills also called Global Knowledge, or GK, skills. The GTCI is an input-output model, in the sense that it combines an assessment of what countries do to produce and acquire talents (input) and the kind of skills that are available to them (output). While outputs are the two types of skilled labour pool, the inputs are the county’s ability to produce, attract and retain such skilled labour. In the input dimension the index also incorporates regulatory and business environments considered as “enablers”. High score in respect of “Enablers” inputs creates an enabling environment for building and nurturing an internationally competitive knowledge economy.

It is not a surprise to know that ranking of countries in terms GTCI score is highly correlated with ranking in terms of per capita income. In a scale of 1 to 100 the average GTCI scores for the high income group countries is around 40% higher as compared to that of the middle income group countries. And the level of the disparity is almost same in regard to all attributes across both input and output dimensions.

What is of interest to us is to know where India is placed in terms of these measures of talent competitiveness. With regard to overall GTCI ranking, among 103 countries studied, India is placed at 83 while corresponding rankings for its peer group are –Brazil (59), Russia (51), China (47), Indonesia (84) and Mexico (70).  Even within the low middle income group to which India currently belongs, India is not in the top ten in terms of overall GTCI scores.

India’s accelerated growth since 1990 till 2009 might have led many to believe that India has finally arrived at the take off stage of economic growth. The so called demographic dividend has been reaped on account of abundance of mid or low level skills. These are only low hanging fruits that should have been plucked much before but for the dirigiste policies that we followed. But as the GTCI scores show we are way behind many emerging economies in producing and retaining high level skilled manpower that will be needed if India wants to participate in the new digital economy as a leading player and not as the twelfth man of a test team.

Olympus- a victim or accomplice of “Goldman Sachs with Gun”?

Olympus- a victim or accomplice of “Goldman Sachs with Gun”?

The “Governance deficit” is being bandied about by corporate bigwigs, TV anchors and op-ed writers as one of the most important causes of India’s faltering growth momentum. The presumption is that deficit lies only in formulation and execution of state policies. We fail to appreciate that there is serious deficit in corporate governance also. The impact of deficit of corporate governance is considered as only an aberration at individual corporate level without seriously impacting the functioning of corporate sector as a whole. This might be true in view of umpteen number of cased of corporate malfeasance in many developed countries.

  After Enron, Qualcomm and a host of other similar case, we are now confronted with the case of Olympus- , the world renowned Japanese manufacturer of optical and digital products including cameras, microscopes and endoscopes. The case has rattled the Japanese government so much that the Japanese premier has to assure the world that Japan follows the rules of capitalism. He told Financial Times-“Japanese society is not that kind of society."

But is it so? Despite Japan being second largest economy till recently, it’s record of corporate governance is nothing to write home about. The organized crime led by Yakuza is known to have invested large sums in public companies. In 1997, the chairman of the largest Japanese bank was convicted for lending huge sums to members of this group which has been termed as “Goldman Sachs with Gun

The rarity of Olympus case arises from the fact that the company’s own CEO – a British citizen- was the whistleblower. Mr. Michael Woodford engaged an independent auditor to undertake a forensic audit of various merger and acquisitions that the company undertook between 2006 and 2009. Olympus made four acquisitions of questionable value to the company. It was found that these acquisitions were made for paying exorbitant professional fees to dummy companies for money laundering.  In a letter written to the company chairman, Woodward states that these transactions have resulted “in the shocking destruction of shareholder value of “USD 1.3 billion. Woodward instead of being rewarded for unearthing this scandal was sacked by the board. This shocking revelation has put the entire Olympus board in cross-hair, with increasing demand for the sacking of entire board. It has been alleged that Olympus payments were made to Yakuza.

As fallout to this scandal, an Advisory Panel may come out a revamped corporate law with a reform of corporate governance rules. But whether such initiatives would weaken the nexus between certain corporate head honchos and organized crime is a question only future would answer.

 

 

. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2098601,00.html

.http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/26/us-olympus-idUSTRE7AN03N20111126

http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/685056/Olympus-scandal-linked-to-yakuza.aspx

http://www.npr.org/2011/11/16/142385395/olympus-scandal-could-hasten-corporate-disclosure-changes

 

 

 

 

 


Thoughts of Iqbal

Thoughts of Iqbal

Pankaj Mishra, the Indian born author of "Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond” has written an opinion piece  on two recent phenomenon in Islamic  countries-  electoral victory of  Rashid Ghannouchi’s  Ennahdha party in Tunisia and the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s highly successful rally in Lahore.  Mishra has referred to writings of Muhammad Iqbal, the poet, thinker, the spiritual founder of Pakistan and writer of the most stirring song of the Indian sub-continent- Saare Jahan Se Achchha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saare_Jahan_Se_Achcha)

Mishra writes about Iqbal

“During the worldwide depression of the mid-1930s, the poet and Islamic modernist Muhammad Iqbal, often called Pakistan’s spiritual founder, wrote a poem dramatizing the inadequacies of Western political and economic systems”

“Like al-Banna, Iqbal believed that the Prophet had transmitted the blueprint for a just society centuries before Marx -- “the wise Jew” -- worked it out in the British Museum. And he remained confident that after the ruling elites of capitalism and socialism had lost credibility, “the message of the Prophet might appear again.”

Reading Mishra, I looked up Iqbal’s writings available on his homepage maintained by Iqbal Academy of Pakistan.  I quote below from Iqbal’s writings compiled in Stray Reflections  - a notebook maintained by Iqbal and published posthumously. Iqbal’s writing is very lucid and there is very little scope for ambiguity about his thought process. So readers will be able to judge for themselves about the logical consistency or otherwise and contemporary relevance of his worldview.

Quotes from Iqbal

1. The God of Islam

Christianity describes God as love; Islam as power. How shall we decide between the two conceptions? I think the history of mankind and of the universe as a whole must tell us as to which of the two conceptions is truer. I find that God reveals Himself in history more as power than love. I do not deny the love of God; I mean that, on the basis of our historical experience, God is better described as power.

2. Forms of Government

Let fools fight for the forms of government,” says Alexander Pope. I cannot agree with this political philosophy. To my mind, government, whatever its form, is one of the determining forces of a people’s character.  Loss of political power is equally ruinous to nations’ character. Ever since their political fall the Musalmans of India have undergone a rapid ethical deterioration. Of all the Muslim communities of the world they are probably the meanest in point of character. I do not mean to deplore our former greatness in this country, for, I confess, I am almost a fatalist in regard to the various forces that ultimately decide the destinies of nations. As a political force we are perhaps no longer required; but we are, I believe, still indispensable to the world as the only testimony to the absolute Unity of God – Our value among nations, then, is purely evidential

3. Fanaticism

All nations accuse us of fanaticism. I admit the charge – I go further and say that we are justified in our fanaticism. Translated in the language of biology fanaticism is nothing but the principle of individuation working in the case of group. In this sense all forms of life are more or less fanatical and ought to be so if they care for their collective life. And as a matter of fact all nations are fanatical. Criticise an Englishman’s religion, he is immovable; but criticise his civilisation, his country or the behaviour of his nation in any sphere of activity and you will bring out his innate fanaticism. The reason is that his nationality does not depend on religion; it has a geographical basis – his country. His fanaticism then is justly roused when you criticise his country. Our position, however, is fundamentally different. With us nationality is a pure idea; it has no material basis. Our only rallying point is a sort of mental agreement in a certain view of the world. If then our fanaticism is roused when our religion is criticised, I think we are as much justified in our fanaticism as an Englishman is when his civilisation is denounced. The feeling in both cases is the same though associated with different objects. Fanaticism is patriotism for religion; patriotism, fanaticism for country.

 

4. Patriotism

Islam appeared as a protest against idolatry. And what is patriotism but a subtle form of idolatry; a deification of a material object. The patriotic songs of various nations will bear me out in my calling patriotism a deification of a material object. Islam could not tolerate idolatry in any form. It is our eternal mission to protest against idolatory in all its forms. What was to be demolished by Islam could not be made the very principle of its structure as a political community. The fact that the Prophet prospered and died in a place not his birthplace is perhaps a mystic hint to the same effect.

5. Muslim Solidarity

From what I have said above on Islam and patriotism it follows that our solidarity as a community rests on our hold on the religious principle. The moment this hold is loosened we are nowhere. Probably the fate of the Jews will befall us. And what can we do in order to tighten the hold? Who is the principal depositary of religion in a community? It is the woman. The Musalman woman ought to receive sound religious education, for she is virtually the maker of the community. I do not believe in an absolute system of education. Education, like other things, is determined by the needs of a community. For our purposes religious education is quite sufficient for the Muslim girl. All subjects which have a tendency to dewomanise and to de-Muslimise her must be carefully excluded from her education. But our educationists are still groping in the dark; they have not yet been able to prescribe a course of study for our girls. They are, perhaps, too much dazzled by the glamour of western ideals to realise the difference between Islamism which constructs nationality out of a purely abstract idea, i.e. religion, and “Westernism” the very life-blood of whose concept of nationality is a concrete thing, i.e. country.

6. The Future of Afghanistan

The verdict of history is that buffer states have never been able to form themselves into great political units. So was the case with Syria – a buffer state between the Empire of Rome and that of the Persians. It seems difficult to forecast the future of Afghanistan

7. European Christianity

In the sphere of human thought Muhammad, Buddha, and Kant were probably the greatest revolutionaries. In the sphere of action Napoleon stands unrivalled. I do not include Christ among the world’s revolutionaries, since the movement initiated by him was soon absorbed by pre-Christian paganism. European Christianity seems to me to be nothing more than a feeble translation of ancient paganism in the language of Semitic theology.

8. Aurangzeb

The political genius of Aurangzeb was extremely comprehensive. His one aim of life was, as it were, to subsume the various communities of this country under the notion of one universal empire. But in securing this imperial unity he erroneously listened to the dictates of his indomitable courage which had no sufficient background of political experience behind it. Ignoring the factor of time in the political evolution of his contemplated empire he started an endless struggle in the hope that he would be able to unify the discordant political units of India in his own lifetime. He failed to Islamise (not in the religious sense) India just as Alexander had failed to Hellenise Asia.

The Englishman, however, came fully equipped with the political experiences of the nations of antiquity and his patience and tortoise-like perseverance succeeded where the hasty genius of Aurangzeb had failed. Conquest does not necessarily mean unity. Moreover, the history of the preceding Mohammedan dynasties had taught Aurangzeb that the strength of Islam in India did not depend, as his great ancestor Akbar had thought, so much on the goodwill of the people of this land as on the strength of the ruling race. With all his keen political perception, however, he could not undo the doings of his forefathers. Sevajee was not a product of Aurangzeb’s reign; the Maharatta owed his existence to social and political forces called into being by the policy of Akbar. Aurangzeb’s political perception, though true, was too late. Yet considering the significance of this perception he must be looked upon as the founder of Musalman nationality in India. I am sure posterity will one day recognise the truth of what I say. Among the English administrators of India, it was Lord Curzon who first perceived the truth about the power of England in India.

Hindu nationalism is wrongly attributed to his policy. Time will, I believe, show that it owes its existence to the policy of Lord Ripon. It is, therefore, clear that in their political purpose and perception both the Mughals and the English agree. I see no reason why the English historian should condemn Aurangzeb whose imperial ideal his countrymen have followed and whose political perception they have corroborated. Aurangzeb’s political method was certainly very rough; but the ethical worth of his method ought to be judged from the standpoint of the age in which he lived and worked.

9. Robber Nations

The spendthrift is nature’s own child. She does not like the accumulation of large masses of wealth in the hands of a few individuals. When the maker of a family succeeds in amassing a fortune, it often happens that in the third or even in the second generation a spendthrift appears and scatters the whole wealth. But for this agent of nature the circulation of wealth would be clogged. What is true of individuals is also true of nations. When a nation, by industry or otherwise, amasses and hoards up wealth –thus clogging the wheel of the world’s industry the working of which depends on the continual circulation of money – robber nations appear on the scene and set the imprisoned wealth at liberty. Warren Hastings, Clive and Mahmud are the representative types of such nations which are unconscious agents of nature in the advancement of world’s industry. The robbery of Warren Hastings finds its true explanation in the history of the European currencies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

10. Amusements in Muslim Countries

There are no amusements in Muslim countries – no theatres, no music halls, no concerts, and better so. The desire for amusement once satisfied soon becomes insatiable. The experience of European countries clearly proves this deplorable fact. The absence of amusement in Muslim countries indicates neither poverty nor austerity nor bluntness of the sense for enjoyment; it reveals that the people of these countries find ample amusement and enjoyment in the quiet circles of their homes. The  European critic ought not to be so hasty in his denunciation of the Muslim home. I admit that indifference to outdoor amusement is not a necessary consequence of domestic happiness; nor does love of amusement necessarily mean domestic unhappiness.

11. God is Power

Power is more divine than truth. God is power. Be ye, then, like your father who is in heaven.

12. Idolatry

Both Islam and Christianity had to deal with the same adversary, i.e. idolatry. The difference, however, is this – that Christianity made a compromise with her adversary; Islam destroyed it altogether.

13. The Rebirth of Humanism

One of the most interesting phenomena of modern history is the birth, or rather the rebirth of humanism in the world of Islam. This will no doubt sharpen our sense for matter which centuries of speculative Sufism had dulled; but we must not forget the distinction which the mediaeval thinkers of Europe made between “use” and “enjoyment”. We “use” all that is a means to the acquisition of the ultimate good. The Eternal alone is enjoyable; all else is useable only. Europe forgot this distinction long ago and there is no knowing where her unrestrained humanism will carry her.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-18/islam-offers-a-third-way-in-pakistan-and-tunisia-pankaj-mishra.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/view/bios/pankaj-mishra/

 

 


Steven Jobs and His Detractors

I thought idol worshiping is a disease that afflicts mostly Indians. Our pagan heritage explains this fetish of ours. Once we put somebody – however gifted she might be- on a pedestal we seek oracular sermons from her on every subject on earth. The death of Steve Jobs and the fulsome eulogies that followed it disabuses us of this notion. Americans are as much star struck as we poor Indians are. Even the computer geeks and gadget fashionistas among them are no exceptions.

Against this gushing encomiums and hyperbole, there are some sane voices that put Jobs in a proper perspective.  Decrying such “Dianamaina” Andrew Orlowski has pointed out how the products that Apple has brought to the market have also pandered to the consumerism of an acquisitive society. There is nothing wrong to building products that consumers want. That is what every businessman would like to do. . Like Bill Gates, Jobs was in the last analysis a consummate and extremely successful businessman. And this by itself is no mean achievement. To create a technology in the lab is one thing but the real challenge is to create a billion dollar product out of it. Very little of technology that goes into Apple products was invented by Apple itself. Douglas Engelbert invented Mouse at the Stanford Resaerc Institute and subsequently the Graphical User Interface was first made by Xerox in its Pao Alto Research Center. But it was Jobs who understood the real potential of these technologies and superbly harnessed and bettered them in Mackintosh line of computers. Without Mackintosh and then it’s cheaper and more affordable imitator- Microsoft Windows-, the world would not have seen the birth of a digital age.

Even the animation giant Pixar was not creation of Jobs. He got into it first as an investor because he understood its potential and took considerable risk by putting his own money into the venture when it was bleeding like hell. The genius of Jobs was to identify technologies on which great products can be made and his unwavering conviction on his ability to do so.

Finally Jobs was neither  a messiah nor an iconoclast – his dallying with Indian mysticism and his lifelong adoration of Bob Dylan’s counterculture notwithstanding. He was a conventional business man with pathological aversion to open source movement. Jobs is quoted to have said- I’ll spend my dying breath destroying Android.  No wonder, the Open Source guru Richard Stallman has not minced words while condoling death of Steve Jobs- “ Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died".
However, Steve Jobs is not to be equated with a run-off-the mill profit only capitalist. He is a visionary- no one can doubt that. Stallman and his disciples may not like the color of that vision but as Deng Xiaoping would have said-  I don't care if it's a white cat or a black cat. It's a good cat as long as it catches mice” 

Finally I end with a fascinating quote from the authorized biography of Steve Jobs by Isaacson-    “ My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products," Jobs told Isaacson. "[T]he products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It's a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything."


Read more: 
http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-products-versus-profits-2011-10#ixzz1bgsW2OGX

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/07/steve_jobs_dianamania/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/11/respect_jobs_by_beating_him/


How behind India is in the race to becoming a superpower?


Indian economy has done extremely well in last one decade, particularly in comparison to anemic growth registered by the developed market economies. This has created self-delusional belief among Indian politicians that India is on the verge becoming as superpower. After being anointed as a card carrying member of the BRIC group of countries- a nomenklatura defined by Goldman Sachs- it is natural for them to have an elevated view of their global importance. But when Indian politicians and corporate bigwigs are riding the high horse, the reality is much more sobering and mundane.    

The Financial Times, the venerable pink paper from the City, has recently published top 500 companies of the world, ranked as per their market value by the end of 2010. There are only 14 Indian companies that find a place in this global pecking order. The most valuable Indian company- Reliance Industries - is placed at the 86th positions- down from the 2010 rank of 68. As compared to this the most valuable Chinese company is placed at 2nd positions in 2011 list – a slight downgrade from the numero uno position in 2010 list.

In terms of numbers there are 28 Chinese, 11 Brazilian and 11 Russian companies in the 2011 list. The total market value of the 11 Indian companies was only 511 billion US dollar as compared to 2143 billion US dollar of total market value of 28 Chinese companies. The total market value of Brazilian and Russian companies were 884 and 673 billion US dollar respectively.    

In other words, the largest Indian companies are still much smaller as compared to their counterparts in the other BRIC countries.   Instead of being smug and complacent about our economic performance Indian policy makers and corporate managers must introspect about India’s future position in the global high table.  Should India will have to settle for an also ran position in the 21st Century’s race for super power position?

 

 


Liberation Mubarak- True Lies

With the exit of Mubarak, a democratic euphoria is seemingly taking hold of Arab world. The facebook and twittering crowd is ecstatic that they have discovered the power of Internet and social media and Egypt will turn a new leaf – a democratic modern society. I remember the fall of Saigon in April 1975 or the Iranian revolution of 1979- when we celebrated in streets of Calcutta shouting slogans hailing the advent of revolutionary changes. Then we witnessed the fall of Berlin wall in 1989 and the break up erstwhile Soviet Russia.  Each time our expectations soared and we hoped that nirvana was round the corner.  I remember the time when Mitterrand became president of France, my teacher who was an academic revolutionary predicted that it would be a game changing event for France. The time and subsequent events proved that social core do not change in a revolutionary way but rather in a slow and evolutionary way. Nothing fundamental will change in Egypt-          unemployment will not go down significantly, economic growth will not register a quantum leap and old military elite will continue to wield power. But some new groups may become part of the ruling social formation.

What is interesting is not the change that is happening or likely to happen in Egypt but the change that is slowly but surely happening in the global power structure. If we examine carefully, all these changes are happening in those countries which were like client states of USA. Things are falling apart and the center – that is USA- is unable to hold it together. The current upheaval in the Arab world is the symptom of a much deeper crisis. This is the crisis of political instability that is now haunting the entire world. As long as US had the requisite economic and military power and an ambition to use it to create a world in its own image, the world political structure had an anchor, a master of sort. Every participating state in the world political arena knew who the umpire is and what the rule of the game is.

This is now changing. USA is likely to become more inward looking as it is getting mired in the economic mess in its own backyard. It is not known who the new emerging master is. Thus the dictators who were in power at the pleasure of USA are falling like dominoes. When the sun started setting in British Empire, the colonies became independent. Maybe, a similar scene is unfolding now.

EGYPT USA  MUMBARAK ARAB WORLD

A Tale of Two Car Companies

China is generally seen as mass producers of cheap but low quality products. While spectacular Chinese economic growth in last three decades is unrivalled in history, many believe, at least in India, that India with its large pool of entrepreneurs and its democratic political set up would beat China in the superpower race. We forget that Japan also started as manufacturer of low quality goods but it could gradually transform itself into a first world economic power by constant up gradation of its technological base through process and product innovation. With a singular determination to capture the developed, particularly US market in sectors like automobile, and electronic consumer goods, Japan could progress from producer of shoddy and cheap goods to high quality and high technology products.

Indian corporate sector may not realize that China is gradually treading the same path while we remain intoxicated with the compliments that we receive from advanced democracies about our democratic credentials. A group of young and extremely ambitious entrepreneurs are gradually emerging in China and they are ready to give Indian entrepreneurs a run for their money. What is most important is to note that they are mastering Greenfield technology and are preparing to carve out new markets for their products. A new power emerges always as a disruptive force, doing things in ways that was not thought of earlier. The difference between the winner and loser in this power game will lie more in the attitudes of entrepreneurs of these two Asian emerging powers. This tale of two motor companies gives an inkling of the shape of things to come.

Build Your Dreams (BYD) – As the name suggests, the man behind BYD is a dreamer. BYD was started by Wang Chuan Fu in 1995. He was 29 and began with USD300, 000 and 20 employees. He was producing batteries for all kinds of electronic gadgets. As the Chinese electronics market boomed so did BYD. By 2003, BYD had more than 100 thousand employees. And then Wang showed his most adventurous side of his entrepreneurial self.. He decided to manufacture Electric Car. He bought out a struggling Chinese car manufacturer and started building Electric Cars with the battery technology that BYD has mastered. For an Electric Car it is the battery that makes or unmakes it. Wang could not be surer, about the technical quality of his battery, than about anything else. BYD built F3DM, an electric variant of China’s best selling Sedan, at a street price of only USD 22K. It has a range of 330Km and its battery can be fully charged within 1hour flat.  Wang got ultimate endorsement of his business model when Warren Buffet took 10% stake in BYD for USD232 million.

BYD is now planning to enter the US market, the most demanding automobile market in the world. In April 2010, the company opened a R&D centre and a sales office in Los Angeles. A company spokesperson has clearly laid out its ambitious game plan- We hope to be a top-three manufacturer in China by the end of the year and the world's largest manufacturer by 2025."  The audacity of this vision reflects the truly animal spirit that is driving Wang and his team.

The most interesting drive of this strategy has been lucidly explained by Wang himself.  According to him – “It's almost hopeless for a latecomer like us to compete with GM and other established automakers with a century of experience in gasoline engines. .. With electric vehicles, we're all at the same starting line”

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2690

http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/jun2010/id20100625_309201.htm

Now let us examine the vision that is driving a 65 years old Indian automobile company – Tata Motors- that is already a US$20 billion company. It is India’s largest automobile company and leader in the commercial vehicle segment. Let us see its vision and strategy.

To increase its global presence, the company has embarked on an acquiring spree. Through acquisition, Tata has operations in the UK, South Korea, Thailand and Spain. It has acquired brands like Jaguar Land Rover, a struggling subsidiary of Ford, Daweoo Commercial Vehicle Company, another failed company, in South Korea, a Spanish bus making company etc. In terms of its global footprints Tata Motors is now truly an Indian multinational.

However, when it comes to technology, Tata Motors does not have much to show about. The company claims it believes in technology of tomorrow (http://www.tatamotors.com/)

The company reportedly spends 2% of its turnover on R&D. But the list of achievements on technology front given on the company’s website is silent about any breakthrough that the company might have made. In fact, the areas that the company has proclaimed to be actively engaged in, are very traditional and nowhere near technology of 21st century.

Thus, these two companies are following two completely different strategies to become a dominant player in the global automobile market. While the Chinese company is fixated to capture the most advanced part of the global market on the strength of new and disruptive technology, the Indian company is trying to grow by acquiring existing companies based in middle tier countries. Most of these acquired companies can not be said to be active on the frontier of technology and might not be ideal vehicle to capture the US market. The BYD is a dreamer and may succeed in realizing its apparently impossible dream. But Tata will always remain a follower, with no dream to chase, no mountain to scale.

BYD, Tata Motors, Chinese Entrepreneurship, Electric Vehicle, US Automobile Market

Out-of Box Thinking

Out-of Box Thinking

While inaugurating the recently concluded Indian Science Congress meet, Dr. Manmohan Singh has exhorted the Indian scientists to think out-of-box and make India a significant player in the scientific research and knowledge building area. If words could move mountains, India would have been by this time the scientific powerhouse of the world for on 3rd January every year each predecessor of Dr. Singh might have made similar grandiloquent statements. But the taste of pudding is in eating. What is the ground reality? 

Indian society, culture and ethos are not conducive to innovation and long term risk taking. The majority of Indian entrepreneurs are more of redistributors of wealth, rather than creator of wealth. Creation of wealth needs innovation and entrepreneurs who are ready to bet their shirt on new ideas, new products and new talents and reap rewards for years to come. Lack of such animal spirit is glaringly visible in the poster child of India’s march to economic glory – the Information Technology sector. Despite IT sector’s phenomenal growth – its share in India’s GDP having grown to 5.8 percent by 2007-08- the sector is nowhere to be seen in the High Table of software producers. It is ironic that there is not a single Indian company in the top 100 companies of the world in terms of revenue earned from software.

There are even two Chinese and two South Korean companies in this list but not a single Indian company. Our IT biggies are boxed-in in their legacy mindset of body –shopping and they have neither time nor inclination for any out-of-box thinking. The following table is self-explanatory

Source: http://www.softwaretop100.org/global-software-top-100-edition-2010

 

Year of Incorporation

Country of incorporation

Rank

Company

Software Revenues in million USD

Software Revenue Growth

Total Revenues in million  USD

Software Revenue Share

1975

USA

1

Microsoft

49,090

-1%

61,159

80%

1896

USA

2

IBM

21,396

-3%

95,758

22%

1977

USA

3

Oracle

18,582

6%

22,734

82%

1972

Germany

4

SAP

11,368

-2%

15,373

74%

1876

Sweden

5

Ericsson

7,595

5%

29,014

26%

1889

Japan

6

Nintendo

6,799

-6%

17,762

38%

1939

USA

7

HP

6,183

-15%

116,245

5%

1982

USA

8

Symantec

5,565

-2%

5,992

93%

2007

Finland

9

Nokia Siemens Networks

4,529

-15%

18,114

25%

1979

USA

10

Activision Blizzard

4,279

-7%

4,279

100%

1976

USA

11

CA

4,012

2%

4,318

93%

1979

USA

12

EMC

3,960

-6%

14,026

28%

1982

USA

13

Electronic Arts

3,728

-13%

3,728

100%

1982

USA

14

Adobe

2,796

-17%

2,987

94%

1984

USA

15

Cisco

2,137

8%

36,633

6%

1983

USA

16

SunGard

1,996

-1%

5,508

36%

1946

Japan

17

Sony

1,914

-27%

79,441

2%

1980

USA

18

BMC

1,758

11%

1,888

93%

2006

France /USA

19

Alcatel-Lucent

1,635

12%

21,835

8%

1969

Japan

20

Konami

1,594

-24%

2,887

55%

1910

Japan

21

Hitachi

1,589

-7%

99,818

2%

1981

France

22

Dassault

1,584

-1%

1,803

88%

2002

USA

23

Infor

1,575

-5%

2,100

75%

1981

UK

24

Sage

1,557

4%

2,336

67%

1982

USA

25

Autodesk

1,557

-21%

1,764

88%

1983

USA

26

Intuit

1,294

-6%

2,888

45%

1986

France

27

Ubisoft

1,249

-16%

1,249

100%

1976

USA

28

Apple

1,218

8%

43,086

3%

1986

USA

29

Synopsys

1,202

0%

1,353

89%

1892

USA

30

General Electric

1,200

9%

156,783

1%

1999

USA

31

Salesforce.com

1,191

24%

1,287

93%

1976

USA

32

SAS Institute

1,155

2%

2,310

50%

1989

USA

33

Citrix

1,140

-3%

1,614

71%

1900

USA

34

NCR

1,117

-22%

4,612

24%

1987

Netherlands

35

Wolters Kluwer

1,045

13%

4,934

21%

1988

USA /Japan

36

Trend Micro

1,029

5%

1,029

100%

1998

USA

37

VMWare

1,029

-13%

2,024

51%

1895

CANADA

38

Nortel

1,022

-46%

4,088

25%

1987

USA

39

McAfee

964

21%

1,927

50%

1983

France

40

Thales Computers

928

5%

18,556

5%

1975

Japan

41

Square Enix

916

62%

1,832

50%

1992

US

42

Take Two Interactive

916

-37%

916

100%

1990

USA

43

THQ

909

-1%

909

100%

2006

Japan

44

Namco Bandai Games

860

1%

4,213

20%

1969

Germany

45

Software AG

836

12%

1,221

69%

2004

Japan

46

Sega Sammy Holdings

836

-14%

4,248

20%

1993

Israel

47

Check Point

834

21%

924

90%

1985

USA

48

Qualcomm

826

-7%

10,482

8%

1969

France

49

Cegedim Dendrite

825

8%

1,259

66%

1963

USA

50

Siemens PLM

800

0%

107,396

1%

1979

USA

51

Teradata

772

-9%

1,709

45%

1983

Japan

52

Capcom

767

32%

994

77%

1982

USA

53

Sun Microsystems

760

8%

10,211

7%

1999

Germany

54

Wincor Nixdorf

757

9%

3,305

23%

1979

USA

55

Novell

751

-6%

853

88%

1979

USA

56

Cerner

747

3%

1,672

45%

1988

USA

57

Cadence

746

-18%

853

88%

1866

USA

58

Reynolds & Reynolds

744

0%

967

77%

1999

China

59

Shanda Interactive

704

40%

768

92%

1991

Canada

60

Open Text

692

21%

852

82%

1935

Japan

61

Fujitsu

671

-5%

50,662

1%

1973

USA

62

Compuware

656

-10%

935

70%

1992

USA

63

NetApp

655

14%

3,558

18%

1993

USA

64

Red Hat

622

18%

732

85%

1994

South Korea

65

Nexon Corporation

608

70%

608

100%

1984

USA

66

Sybase

593

3%

1,170

51%

1969

USA

67

Intergraph

578

-5%

770

75%

1891

Netherlands

68

Philips

565

6%

33,406

2%

1992

USA

69

Nuance

564

3%

976

58%

1983

USA

70

McKesson

553

-3%

108,717

1%

1997

South Korea

71

NCSoft

549

100%

549

100%

1969

USA

72

SAIC

539

8%

10,781

5%

1966

USA

73

Solera Holdings

534

8%

593

90%

1975

USA

74

Sterling Commerce

526

0%

634

83%

1996

USA

75

F5

516

4%

689

75%

1987

USA

76

Avid

509

-29%

629

81%

1996

UK/USA

77

Autonomy

493

47%

740

67%

1968

USA

78

Intel Corporation

485

68%

35,172

1%

1997

RUSSIA

79

Kaspersky Lab

480

33%

480

100%

1981

USA

80

Mentor Graphics

477

4%

802

60%

1985

USA

81

PTC (Parametric)

477

-24%

960

50%

1994

USA

82

Verint

468

7%

702

67%

1968

France

83

Sopra Group

461

26%

1,576

29%

1975

USA

84

Lawson

457

-1%

731

63%

1979

USA

85

Epic Systems

451

0%

601

75%

1974

USA

86

Aspect Communications

450

0%

600

75%

1981

USA

87

Progress

445

-4%

495

90%

2001

USA

88

Rockwell Automation

432

-24%

4,317

10%

1983

Brazil

89

Totvs

429

51%

620

69%

1987

USA

90

Quest

418

-11%

695

60%

1859

USA

91

Diebold

413

-12%

2,718

15%

1991

USA

92

Pgi

401

-4%

601

67%

1995

USA

93

Real

401

-10%

562

71%

1979

UK

94

Misys

393

-12%

1,073

37%

1969

USA

95

ESRI

388

0%

776

50%

1970

USA

96

Ansys

383

3%

517

74%

1998

USA

97

Google Inc.

381

14%

23,651

2%

1968

China

98

Inspur

378

11%

3,784

10%

2007

UK

99

Acision

375

0%

500

75%

1956

USA

100

FICO

375

-7%

625

60%

 






































































































































 

Source: http://www.softwaretop100.org/global-software-top-100-edition-2010


 

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