Sunday, June 22, 2008

One flew out of a "Cocooned" nest...

All through my life, in junior college, during engineering, during work and during my MBA I have interacted with numerous people and have made some great friends in the process. Out of all those people there have been many who had come from different parts of the country to my hometown to study/work/straggle/struggle etc etc. And I have always wondered and been amazed at how well people cope up with and adjust to being away from home. I have always admired that!

I stand at a point in my life when I need to move out of my sheltered, cozy, protected life and face a world alien and unknown to me. I have never lived away from home for any extended period of time and that idea, while not scary, is still a little hard to imagine for me. But, that situations has dawned upon me now. And there is no way out this time!:-)

Me being a complete mamma's boy will find it hard to adjust to not having her around. Home cooked food, a washing machine to wash clothes, friends to talk to, family for support, broadband internet, a computer to fall back on, TV and most of all...a comfort zone is what I'll have to do without!

But I think flying out of this cocooned nest WILL open my mind to different horizons and maybe change my "duck in the pond" outlook.

To end this blog I would like to say.."We may sleep in a thousand golden beds, but the one at home, even if it is of straw, is the one where you can sleep the calmest"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"First Mover Advantage"...Really?

As I have mentioned in one of my previous blogs, I am a student of Marketing and tend to think about most things through that perspective. We have a concept in Marketing Strategy called a First Mover Advantage. Before going on to the core subject of this blog, let me elaborate a bit on this concept.

In marketing strategy, a First Mover Advantage is when an organisation is the first to introduce a product in a market. It has relatively no competition(other than a few substitutes) and can enjoy good return on investment for some time by keeping prices high. The also get and advantage in a sense that they build up brand awareness and brand loyalty by the time some significant competition arrives.

Now this marketing analogy is what I would like to use to ponder on something in our normal lives. In the dynamic world of dating(much like the dynamic business enviornment today), everything is "globalised". The world has definitely become flat(no pun intended). Traditionalists(mainly women) would argue that it is always the man who should make the first move. Ask for the phone number, ask for a date, hold hands, kiss etc etc. Now on the face of it, if the same marketing stragey scenario is recreated in this situation, the man should have the traditional First Mover Advantage right? In my opinion...Not quite!

The first move is associated with various pitfalls and brickbats. Rejection(prime problem), loss of "friendship", awkwardness while meeting post the "ask out" etc etc. The only advantage is, you GET a date. Ever ask a girl out and shes not sure(girls seem perpetually unsure and confused nowadays), she will withdraw or on the extreme, freak out(grow up...Your not 13 anymore!!) But she will leave you dangling, wont say no..wont agree. I guess its a way of wielding proxy power over a person. And i am writing this from a male perspective. Hence the reference of girls. Iam sure there are a LOT of guys out there who act in the same way. Since Iam not gay and havent ever asked a guy out, I cant comment on that.:-)

Me, being a simple soul, dont understand the point of all these games. You dont want to go out, say no. If you want to, say yes. How difficult is that?? The guy, by asking the girl out, has compromised his position and is most likely to lose out. So where is the First Mover Advantage?

To end this blog, heres an insight to a lot of people out there...Guys like girls to make the first move sometimes. Try it......

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bravo Dr. Singh!

The economist in our beloved PM has finally spoken..And acted too!! The Prime Minister's Office recently issued a circular to all cabinet ministers to cut down on expencses..Especially on fuel for official cars! The PMO also refused to approve Mani Shankar Iyer's recent trip abroad terming it as un-necessary. Dr. Singh has himself has reduced the size of his entourage for his foriegn visit next week. I think the PM should be commended for this step and for leading by example. Something all his ministers should follow. Bravo Dr. Singh!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Blog Clog?

Writing blogs is suddenly the "IN" thing nowadays. Anyone who is anyone is writing something or the other. Which is good! The more people learn to express themselves the better for them. But along with this has come the resident evil of Media Attention. People filing defamation cases against each other and all kinds of scrutiny and regulation being proposed for bloggers.

A year back, the Indian government had restricted access to several blog hosting sites in India due to alleged sensitive information realated to terrorist propaganda being displayed on certain blogs. This, in my opinion, IS a genuine concern. But lets get it into perspective. How many people do you think can a blog sensitise? Is the reach of this medium of communication as powerful as say mainstream media? Our mainstream media in itself is not the best regulated in content. So how can we control content on blogs? Is self regulation the answer? In my opinion not completely because this is a medium controlled by polarised individuals and not a collective entity.

Celebrity blogs have also suddenly become a hot topic of discussion for everyone. What did Aamir Khan say about SRK or what did Big B say about someone else being a dog is what hogs news limelight. To be very blunt and frank, WHO THE HELL CARES!!! Why do we give such stupid controversies so much credence? They can call each other by any names that they want. How does it affect you and me? Celebrities use blogs to take pot shots at one another and also as a fundamental right to express their opinion. Which is fair enough. I stiil dont get what all the hullabaloo is about.

Being a student of Marketing, I tend to look at everything from that perspective. Blogs are the new medium of marketing communication being used by many oganisations to promote their products/services at cost which are a fraction of mainstream media. The blogs with the most hits gets the most advertisements. This earns the host blogger a certain amount of money from these companies. Thus it is but natural for him/her to creat good/bad publicity of his/her blog in order to get more hits and thus more revenue. Simple economics right?

Blogs, in my opinion, should be used as a medium for people to express themselves freely. Some things which cannot be said/discussed in person are easier to write. This activity in itself can be very liberating. I have done it myself and can vouch for it So lets treat blogs for what they are...Online versions of what most people call a "Personal Diary"...Maybe we will soon get a movie called "Bridget Jones' Blog"...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

(C)rude Shock!!!

Its Out...Finally!....After weeks of deliberation and pussyfooting around, the Ministry of Finance and the Petroleum Ministry have got together and reached a consensus on the fuel price hike. The announcements today include:

Hike in Petrol - Rs. 5/ Litre

Hike in Diesel - Rs. 3/ Litre

Hike in LPG - Rs. 50/ cylinder

NO Hike in Kerosene

Customs Duty on Crude - Down to 0% from 5% (Ad Valorem)

Customs Duty on Petrol and Diesel - Down to 2.5% from 7.5%

Customs Duty on Other petroleum products(including ATF) - Down to 5% from 10%

So after doing all these permutations and combinations, balancing everyone's interests and keeping their own face, the government has anounced this move. Predictably, politically, they are being stoned. BJP calls it "Economic Terrorism" and CPM cals it Unacceptable. But the fact of the matter is that the so called aam aadmi seems to think that the government is walking a tight rope. World Crude oil prices have gone up by 100% in teh past one year and it is NOT possibe for the government to insulate the final consumer from this. Which is fair enough. I couldnt agree more. But this is where my agreement with this situation ends.

For every litre of petrol/diesel sold, the government gets 50% in the form of some or the other tax/duty. That means in Pune, against every litre of petrol sold, the government gets Rs. 25(before the hike) in their kitty. Thus for every increase, half of that is going to back to the exchequer anyways. Highway robbery?

Also, why should the oil marketing companies be profit oriented units? Why should they be listed on the stock exchange and their performance be monitored? Petrol/Diesel is the one of those rare commodities whose demand is inelastic..It doesnt follow the standard demand curve. So whatever the enviornmental factors, the market for these oil companies (PSUs) is going to to remain static at the least. But looking at the data of the number of vehicles being put out on the road every year, there is only one way the demand is going..UP!! So they have no performance pressures. They are bound to attain a Year on Year growth and sustain themselves.

If you want to treat these companies like any other company, then there should be no sops handed out to them. If they are running losses, they have to look at ways in means to resurrect themselves. And iam sure they can. Otherwise, delist these companies off the stock exchange, make them into non profit organisations and then see the difference.

Reducing the amoount the government gets from the sale of these products will ensure that everyone(except the fat cats in the government) are happy. The oil companies get a just price and so does the consumer. But then how will each MP go on a foriegn trip each year? No sir..The taxes stay!

The Prime Minister today felt the need to address the nation regarding the fuel price hike. Seeing that address made me feel like I was sitting for a infomercial of the UPA government. The honourable PM went on rambling about all the successful missions/programs that this government has put out in its tenure. This was like trying to soften the public up before he dealt the blow of the fuel price hike. Also, he appealled to the public to "co-operate" with the government and reduce our consumption of fuel. Well Dr. Singh, I think giving two bit MLAs a convoy of 15 cars is THE way of conserving fuel. Bravo!!

To conclude, as i mentioned in my previous blog, the classical economic equation is not being followed by our great economists. The government is increasing expenditure and then looking for ways to generate additional income. Doesnt the quation work in reverse? Ateast, thats what i was taught..Pity, theory never gets applied in practice!