The Surge Battle

There was a time a while back, when stability and forming a habit was a good thing. Being predictable in our behaviour was the norm. There would be people who would say that a clock can be set to perfect time by their routine.

Not anymore.

I am writing this post while I wait for the surge to end on #uber fares. The fare that should be under 350 (a year back it was closer to 300) is right now 483. #uber app says fares higher due to demand. Well some of it might be true but I think they have figured out my pattern. They know what time I usually book a cab for work. So here I am. Waiting out the surge period and hoping I beat Uber pricing today. So much for being routine oriented and predictable.

But this doesn’t just end with Uber. Take airlines and travel apps for instance. You check out pricing for a certain sector a few times and watch the fares go up. Surge pricing? Hell yeah! Our constant looking at fares has triggered some code somewhere to let the app know that there is an interest in a certain sector and fare algorithm must kick in. I knew back in old days, if something was popular and lot of people were buying it, prices would come down to get more people to buy.

Now, you hope that there aren’t many people interested in the same thing you are else the prices will go up.

By the way, an update… fare is up by a rupee on Uber ūüôā

So someone help me understand. I think it has to do with economics and I was terrible at that.

When surge pricing is happening, or airline fares are going up, is there a calculation by the companies which tells them that beyond a certain price point, the consumer may not use the service. Or they now know that irrespective of the pricing, the need far outweighs the price?

Think about it. All tickets sold out at a reasonable price would have been a far better proposition than to wonder that if we jack up the price real high, ticket might not be sold. But obviously morons out there are ready to buy at whatever price.

What if we as consumers decided not to use the service because “fares are slightly higher due to increased demand” (that slightly bit is a sick joke!). We boycott all those who indulge in such practices. I know I know it is all about business demand and supply but still. It’s alright to make profit but more than 50%?? Or in case of airlines, 3 times?!!

There is a fallacy in the logic somewhere and at some point of time, it is going to bite them in their ass.

And I still wait because the far now is up to 490.

If this continues, the government and the auto makers won’t have to blame Uber and Ola. People will start buying cars and using them. The economy will be back on track!



Here we go again! people have found a new cause to attach themselves to. In my post about Causvengers, this is precisely the kind of behavior I had talked about.

Neutrality of internet. People just want to vent themselves on the net. I call them keyboard Kingkongs. I have a keyboard and I have an opinion.

I want to ask all these people. If tomorrow, Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter charged you a fee to use, will you stop using any of these services? If you will.. why? After all, these companies started these businesses… they are in it for profit and if you want to use them, pay for them…if you wont then why bother with what telecom companies want to do.

People do not seem to realize that internet and all internet related activities are moving towards a monopoly.

Tim Wu has written a book called “The Master Switch”. Without getting into too many details of the book, will just key in the back page info here:

“The Internet Age: On the face of it, an era of unprecedented freedom in both communication and culture. Yet in the past, each major new medium, from the telephone to satellite television, has crested on a wave of similar idealistic optimism, before succumbing to the inevitable undertow of industrial consolidation. Every once-free and open technology has, in time, become centralized and closed, as corporate power has taken control of the ‘master switch’. Today a similar struggle looms over the Internet; as it increasingly supersedes all other media, the stakes have never been higher”.

Companies wait till the knife¬†is deep in. You are addicted and then they twist the knife just a little to see how you react.. how addicted you are… Deep enough and strong enough, you start paying for your addiction…

And while I am not taking sides, let us look at telecom industry in our country. From 2003 onwards, we have one of the most cheapest call rates in the world. Same goes for data too. With mobile internet driving the internet consumption in the country (the government did nothing till then), it was but natural that a large population would shift from voice to data. Why pay for  a normal call when the same call costs fraction on Skype. So how do the telecom companies make big profits? they are not here for charity.. are they? And do we really believe that if some websites became chargeable, the telecom companies are going to pocket all the money? Have a look at the websites or apps that the telecom company wants to charge for. Obviously these sites, knowing how many people use them are aiming to monetize that.

And how come government is picking up cudgels on behalf of net neutrality?? We all know that at a hint of a controversy, they want to ban sites or apps or certain stuff (AIB roast a case in point)

And contrary to some tweets I have seen, internet is not free.. is it? Sure we have the freedom to voice our opinions on the net (that is free) but you pay for the internet cost to voice your opinion!

And coming back to causvengers, look at all the people who are tweeting about or writing about saving the internet.. their few seconds of fame!

This post flies against everything that is being said but hey people.. welcome to the real corporate world. They are all about making profits else why will you invest in their shares. Plus the fact that if more people need to get on the bandwagon, infrastructure is required and infrastructure costs money. You scream against these companies for asking money… how come you are not up in arms when governments levy surcharge and cess for various losing ventures??

Nothing is free or neutral in this world. it is just false sense of freedom you are living in… so wake up…

The Diesel Vehicle Ban

The Diesel Vehicle Ban

Like all bans, I would imagine that the reason behind the ban of diesel vehicles entering Delhi city is entirely different. Far too often the social causes are used as a reason for the banning something. It is the government or society trying to implement its own agenda under the garb of “Greater Good”.

Yes the air pollution is bad in Delhi. But it is so in many other cities too. What makes Delhi so special? Is it because of its status as the Capital of the country? and thereby all the VVIPs. AAP reduces the electricity tariff and water bills in Delhi? Apart from it being the state they rule, are we saying that other cities in the country do not suffer from these problems?

But coming back to the ban. Let us look at who benefits from the ban on all vehicles older than 10 years. And please… lets not talk about how the quality of air will improve. This quality has been bad for many many years. I still remember 15 years back getting off the flight and the air quality hitting you. So who benefits? Vehicle manufacturers of course! I am wondering if there is an estimate in terms of how many vehicles older than 10 years exist in Delhi/NCR? Given the fact that the automobile population is highest in this region, it would be a very large number that will need replacement.

People shouting for banning the diesel vehicles completely. What is your motivation? Is there a certifiable proof that it is the diesel vehicles that are leading to this? The new age diesel technology is very different from the one that used to exist. Probably on par perhaps with petrol. It is not the vehicle that causes pollution but the poor quality diesel that goes into these automobiles. Of course it is an entirely different issue that the government and the Oil PSUs probably make more money on selling petrol than they do on diesel.

Of course, this ban will also help corrupt officials line their pockets.

My belief has always been that greater good is never ever the reason for the so called actions taken for greater good. Yes some good may actually come out of it but that is not the reason.

Let’s look at this whole controversy on size of the image on Cigarette packs. 40% or 85%… do these policy makers really think it will cut down on smoking?? I would like to know the data of how much did the smoking come down once the images were introduced on the packaging! Oh and it can be from any country and not just India since according to a minister, there is no proof that smoking causes cancer in India. If the governments think that smoking is bad, why not ban every single tobacco product? No wait… banning beef is lot more important right now! Government the world over will never ban these products simply because these products form a very healthy chunk of the revenue. I have a feeling that the way this image controversy will play out is that there will be a negotiation whereby the image size may not go up in a big way but the tax component surely will.

Anyway, call me a cynic for being a non believer in social causes, the fact is that the reason behind people, government and society taking up these causes is always well hidden and never what is shouted from every roof top, every newspaper, every tweet etc. etc.

Rupee Vs fuel prices

So a government which is very concerned about economy and the.people of the country.. What should it do? Obvious answer is to tackle the economy issues and not burden the common man!

But not this government… It can’t do a jackshit about falling rupee, rising inflation, corruption.. It can only raise fuel prices.. So that the so called public sector companies can make profit and the government – central and state.. Can make more money through taxes.. After all the deficit has to be managed.. Who gives a shit about what happens to you and me!

Where is the ‘care’ in Healthcare?

This is a very cynical view of healthcare.

Does healthcare really care about the people suffering from various illnesses?

The most altruistic business in the world is actually as profit driven as any other business… as sales driven as FMCG product.

I think the problem is that all players in this sector have been caught up by the word ‘business’.

Saw an ad for a Clinical Research Training Institute the other day which talked about “Recession proof careers”. It’s a fact alright… but a rather scary fact. Healthcare actually is recession proof… No matter what, people would have ailments… people would need to visit the doctors… people would need medicine. There is really no way out. Its a business that would never go out of fashion.

How many take up the profession of being a healer because it is about alleviating the suffering of mankind?

A pharmaceutical company… will it ever want a person to get cured completely? A cured person is a customer lost. A cured customer is a patient lost for the doctor or hospital…

We get a cold or a cough… we take medicine and it goes away… only to return at a later date. Now why cant there be a medicine which kills it completely??

Why are chronic ailments chronic?? Why after so many years we are still struggling with managing them?

Why everyone in healthcare focuses on “curing”? Why is prevention not a bigger industry than disease management?

Why are doctors pampered so much by the pharmaceutical companies?

Has Hippocrates oath lost it’s meaning?

How easy is it to claim healthcare insurance in the eventuality of claiming it?

All constituents in this space play on the fear factor of the individual without realizing that any visit for any kind of ailment actually comes with a whole lot of cynicism (the cost that would be incurred by paying to every link in the chain)

I truly believe that the day healthcare starts focusing on prevention rather than cure, is the day when the business of healthcare would be profitable and lot more fulfilling for  all concerned.

How much do you want something?

And how much are you willing to sacrifice to get that something?

More often that not, what we want is dictated by circumstances and the environment.

A kid would throw big time tantrums for getting that candy and most likely he has not even tasted the candy but has seen it on TV, has seen it with a friend and a strong desire is formed to get it and so the tantrums follow.

As he gets a little older, wants to be an engineer, wants to be a doctor, wants to do MBA… In this case too the desire is driven by parents, peer pressure and that whole ultimate goal…. good career and money (or good career = money)

Moving further, its time for materialistic things… of course somewhere along the line, there is also the hunt for the right partner and the rest of the stuff… snazzed car, phone, the best of what the products and brands have to offer.

All these decisions are driven by the surround… by what everyone has.. by what is the politically correct behaviour in the society… by what he is told is the thing to do…

The process of evaluating choices is simple and risk averse or even if the risks are there.. mitigation plans are in place before taking the risk. And more importantly, in case of failure… enough excuses are in place for the failure.

But do all these things really make a difference? Would the absence or something similar and not exactly the same would really leave us feeling incomplete? The derived satisfaction.. is it because we have managed to build a nest with all the ‘required’ things leading to enhanced self worth? Did we make sacrifices or let go of something which was dear to us to get what we really wanted? Were we “Driven” enough?

Mahatma Gandhi was driven… He let go of many things.. including his relationships for the larger task he had assigned for himself.

Even if misguided in a big way… Adolf Hitler was driven… single minded..

Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King… they all were single minded and not so much for themselves but they wanted transformation…

Some gave their lives… some took lives but they all wanted to impact the environment much larger than their own proximity…

Somewhere deep down…buried under all the needs, wants and desires, we all have a powerful need.. a need to make a difference… We need a trigger or a flash point to bring it to surface and since we are risk averse at an individual level, we need a rallying point… contributing to or being part of a community…

Can the brands tap into this need? And I do not mean at a shallow level or lip service.

In the new economy, where the materialism led to collapse of economies… can the business rebuild with a different persepective…

Not buying fur, or peddling eco-friendly technologies or hybrid cars or CFC free etc are just very tiny steps. But the world needs something big… and it will not come from one brand or one business… it needs to be a collective consciousness…

I am not for a moment saying that we should not lead a materialistic life… its a process of evolution. But in this day and age when boundaries collapse and the world is just one click away for us.. do we need to really travel up Maslow’s heirarchy gradually? Why cant it all become just top of the pyramid…. Where everything that we buy or do, it leads to satisfaction or acquiring wordly goods but also self actualization.

Can we all as one be driven enough to tranform this world?

India Inc. too has a humane side

Companies on talent hunt among pink-slip brigade Economic Times Bureau – 20th May 2009

The cynic in me obviously questions the motives. Great talent available at bargain prices and all that but then this article shows that there is hope for people who have lost their jobs.

People who were wondering what did they do wrong apart from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They had talent, they had expertise but probably did not fit into the organization culture, did not have godfather in the organization, probably rubbed a few people the wrong and had to be part of the dreaded list. It made them feel worthless. Made them question their existence. Ask anyone who has been without a job for 6 months and he or she will tell about the trauma they are going through. Every opening they apply to and not get any response. Fear of not mentioning on their profile that they were laid off because no company will hire them.

All this could be thing of the past if this article really holds true and more organizations start hiring people who have been laid off. Of course organizations would benefit because there were lot of talented people who also lost jobs and would be ready to work for far lesser than what they were getting.

But there is a very important issue that needs to be addressed here.

Will the organization beat the poor guy down on the salary because he is not in a position to negotiate? Or believe that while earlier salary might have been way too inflated in the economic boom and negotiate something which does not demean the person’s worth.

The first move is fraught with danger for the organization because the person knows why he got hired and will leave at the first opportunity he gets. Why would he be around in the organization when he believes he was taken advantage of… just because he was on back foot.

But the organization which projects that it values the person’s expertise and is there to lend him a helping hand… it has got a person who is going to give lifelong loyalty.

Our culture has instilled a belief in us not to betray trust.

More importantly in the long run… when the economy does turnaround, its these organizations which would benefit with even more great talent. Because who wants to work for people who are only fair weather employers!

A while back I had written about how Pfizer is planning to provide free prescription medicines to people who have lost jobs in US and wondered if Corporate India can ever do anything like that. This article proves it that yes… India Inc also is capable of being humane… all business and economic considerations aside.

This truly would be a  National CSR initiative if more organizations start implementing this move.

Recession is Gone!!! Indian Economy will show the way!!!

So I would like to believe after reading this morning’s headlines. It took only two “historic” days to make the recession disappear.

The victory of Congress on Saturday and monday morning the Indian Economy is rocking.

Everything is linked to stock market and how it performed!! It sure has raised optimism of people to a new high.

To quote a few headlines:

Sensex Gives Manmohan a 21-ton Salute – Soars 2,111 points, sharpest One-Day rise ever by any index in the world.

Will help India Inc raise capital, fund projects

India Inc to loosen purse strings for infra projects

Rupee, bonds surge riding mkt euphoria

A minute makes India world’s best market

I better sharpen my brains because hey… there is going to be demand for my expertise all over again! After all when everybody is on a high and making money… I, the pragmatist guy, who believes in working hard and smart.. can also make some!

Today’s headlines remind me of the way things were a year and half back… Market was going up, up and up… people were spending money like nobody’s business and it seemed that India Inc was going to be the darling of the world and the whole momentum of the world economy was going to shift to India.

And then the American Economy collapsed and helped us awaken to a rude realization… The sun still shines out of ¬†US’ a** (By the way… I am a conspiracy theorist who believes that like in the movie “Wag the Dog”, the whole recession in US was a manufactured one to ease the “Change” for Democrats…. You do need an issue to fight on.. dont you?

And let anyone deny this.. because India Inc has been crying itself hoarse that they have been hit badly by what happened in the US..

Wonder if any Newspaper can juxtapose the kind of headlines that were happening  when stock market had touched 21K?

The headlines wont be very dissimilar in their tone and manner…

We as a culture have started looking at even financial transactions to give us instant gratification!

Investors make Rs 3.6 lakh cr in a min … hell I dont even know how many zeros in that… And did they really make this money? as in money in their pocket??? Of course not.. if they did… then there would have been a run on the BSE!

While I dont want to be party pooper or prophet of doom, I do believe certain pragmatism is required.

We all have learnt some very hard lessons in past year and half and lets not forget them by what happened in min yesterday.

And lets not also forget that this government has to prove that it can provide stability… Watched the news last night… already the politics has begun (Congress does not want Montek as FM…. they want a politician! hell why politcian? how can his credentials match up to Montek’s?)

I will wait till the budget to see what reforms will this government provide (now that they cant blame their partners for holding them back).

I want to see if we are really independent of what happens in US

I want to see if the India Inc would really put money where their mouth is and walk the talk (its very easy to get in the newspaper by making relevant noises… after all our attention span is not what it used to be and we would soon forget who said what)







Can Corporate India learn from Mumbai Indians debacle?

Sports analogies have long been used in corporate world… Most have been about team, motivation and excellence. But is there a lesson to be learnt from the campaign disaster for Mumbai Indians?

The most expensive buy… A bunch of talented experienced and rookie players. A captain who is an icon and can supposedly make the nation come to a standstill with his performance… and yet they faltered… all the strategizing and planning amounting to nothing. Well actually something.. a spot above the other over hyped team called Kolkata Knight Riders!

How many times the corporates have made the same mistake. Get into a business… Believe that putting together the best management team with a highly visibility leader would take them to the top…

The best management consultants are called in for strategy and then the company goes nowhere… Rifts happen, leader is questioned… the consulting organization is not paid their fees and the whole project is stalled… I bet this would sound very familiar to many… it does to me because I been there… part of the team which just disintegrated.

How can a person who has been a great individual performer can ever be a leader. And especially when there has been a history of poor performance as the captain?

Too much  of strategy is also not a good thing. So many matches where one was left wondering if the Mumbai Indians had a strategy for winning or losing?

So many players were left wondering about their role…

And to top it all… the leader did not exactly set the field on fire now .. did he?

The lesson here for the corporates is that all that glitters is not gold. Environmental factors are far more important in deciding the strategy. And more importantly you need the right players in the right spot (not necessarily the best players)

And of course the biggest… the best performer is not necessarily the best leader. The fact is when the right team is in place, you dont need a leader even… Look at Delhi Daredevils – It didnt matter who was the captain… they kept winning. Because the thinktank had all the right ideas and the right people to exceute… Reputations did not matter… Imagine Glenn Macgrath warming the bench almost the entire tournament. I bet they will unleash him in the semi finals!

The point is that as an organization we cannot let primma donnas or past reputations dictate our decisions. Knowing who is right for what role is very important… Its the end objective that needs to define everything.

People who read this blog are welcome to add or rip the analogy apart…

Pfizer teaches how to be a responsible Corporate!

“Pfizer Will Give Away Lipitor, Viagra, Other Drugs to Jobless

Linda A. Johnson and Matthew Perrone

May 15, 200″

Just read the above article!

Ok so it might have started as a corporate gimmick (PR would go to town with this one) but the fact is that gesture itself speaks volumes for someone in Pfizer who thought about it and managed to persuade the organization to implement it!

How many organizations have come forward with such an initiative in US? (there might be but we in the world have not heard about them and we sure need to). A great initiative which sends a message out that the organization cares. And these are the consumers who will become loyal to the the corporate brand. They would become the evangelists which every brand aspires for.

It is the organizations themselves who can help the economic turnaround. Raising the level of optimism in a larger social set up would have a positive effect on the environment. Essentially you need to show you care.

Slap on the face of those though who made the people jobless! When company lays off people.. a month or two months salary is given and the person is erased from the organization. What happens to that person… how will he survive… how will his dependents survive.. is absolutely no concern. And by the way I have heard of such things happening in organizations which have won awards for best HR practices! But if only they sat and analysed and figured that only if they let go of profits for a while.. if only they let go of the prices for their stock… if only they took a decision which would help people… Imagine the goodwill and loyality they would generate!! and of course tonnes of PR which would get that stock price rocking again anyways…

The move by Pfizer sure is not purely altruistic one. The mileage would be immense but hey.. if it helps the common man in the long run… I am all for it

Now how many organizations in India can do the same?  I bet none! most would be busy padding up their reserves.