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Heights of corruption

Black money is ubiquitous in the Indian economy - and the real estate sector is probably the hot bed of black money deals. But I had never imagined that people will be so brazen to quote a black money deal openly on a website - check out the screenshot below: For the uninitiated, 'cash' refers to money paid in cash but not accounted for as a part of the deal in a written contract - in effect this is black money. However, I should applaud the seller here for his/her open mindedness - s/he is giving a clear option for you NOT to pay him any cash, in which case the property will cost you 61 lakhs (INR 6 million 1 hundred thousands). S/he is also giving a clear conversion factor - each lakh (hundred thousand)  of black money gives you a reduction of 25k in the package. The quote price 57 lakhs should as per the above be 41 lakhs agreement value and 16 lakhs in cash.

Enron - Smartest Guys in Town

One of the best documentaries I have ever seen which analyses the Enron debacle from the the inception of Enron to its rise, eminent fall and ultimate crash. It outlines the role played by different characters such as Jeff Skilling, Andy Fastow and Ken Lay but more importantly it brings to light how common employees were led into doing the most unethical actions while making them believe that their actions were completely legitimate. The documentary highlights how the actions of traders in Enron illustrates the inferences of Milgram Experiments , the only other live case study of them being the war crimes conducted by Nazi / German army officers during the WWII on Hitler's orders. The documentary raised a lot of questions in my mind ... Many times our actions look quite legitimate at the time when several contextual pieces of information are in our mind. For example, under a deregulated power rate policy in California, the actions of traders would have looked legitimate. As

An Email Letter

On June 7th, 2010 Arijit Ghosal - a close friend wrote this email commemorating 1 year of moving into his new apartment. It covers me as well, so I had planned to post it on my blog. Got time today to format and publish. Yesterday was June 7th. So what you ask. Looks like a pretty mundane ‘at least once a year’ date. More often than not, in the rigmarole of sustaining livelihood and keeping the EMIs on, we generally forget to keep track and celebrate that very thing which we all are chasing in some way or the other…happiness. It suddenly struck me and couldn’t resist myself sharing with those who were together in those moments and those who will appreciate it. It’s been a year now - June 7th 2009 and the few days prior to that are very special to me, and to Nikhil & Anoop as well, I would assume. June 7, 2009: I kicked my landlord and broker and moved in as the final addition to the list of the tenants at the legendary E 703, Bluefields, Powai. It was a Sunday evening. I re

Is there a simpler explanation to the rise of Chindia

Another report claiming that "dominance of China and India [would] return to the historic norm prior to the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries" came through today. Its become so boring to read that India and China will re-emerge as dominant economies unless they goof up on their fiscal policies, urban development, educational growth, demographics .. the list is long! I find most news reports and analyses engaged either in extrapolating the economic trends of the past decade or speculating by generalizing trends from certain sectors like manufacturing (China) and software services (India). The point is - has anyone been able to spot the root cause behind the rise of China and India? And is there any theory which can justify why China and India will rise to become economic super powers - without putting riders to the claim. The reasons for rise of India and China have been different sectors, but the source of both their strengths is the same - cheap

Thoughts on a Sojourn - Part II

Continued from here . I did whirlwind tours of Bangalore and Chennai in December, went to Singapore to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and then to Ratlam to attend a wedding. Singapore deserves a separate post, but here are my thoughts on Bangalore, Chennai and sleepy Ratlam. Bangalore Bangalore is fast changing, my last lengthy visit to the city was in 2006 - in 4 years Bangalore has changed - the metro track running all along MG Road has changed the way the city center looks now. I could not recognize the square which I so often roamed around last time, until I noticed that the mall on the corner had 'Forum' written on it. Nice to see that the Bangalore metro quietly seems to be moving faster than its much publicised contemporary the Mumbai Metro.  And the 9km flyover that connects Electronic City to the city is an absolute charm - travel which used to take 2 hours can now be zipped in a cool 25 minutes! There are some things that still haven't changed or

Thoughts on a Sojourn

I have been busy off late and here's why - for Diwali we (me & my wife) went to Vadodara and drove to Bhopal with my parents and brother, the last 2 days of Diwali were spent at Indore; on my return to Mumbai I made a trip to Shirdi and office work made me travel to Bangalore - Chennai lined up next. Posted below are my thoughts from my sojourns: I have posted similar thoughts earlier under the same title. You can read them here . This time, I plan to restrict my post to a reality-check and not suggest any solutions. Gujarat Narendra Modi has been hailed for his development model across the country and rightly so - Gujarat boasts of fantastic infrastructure - urban or rural. From Expresshighways between major cities to BRT in Ahmedabad or roads in smallest of villages - Gujarat's prosperity is quite evident. This also manifests from the habits of Gujarat's rural folk who prefer commuting to cities on a daily basis than emigrating to them. What I am not sure is that i

Is the Blackberry a dying platform?

Blackberry is headed for a decline – so says this analysis  which was endorsed by Fred Wilson (a well known Silicon Valley VC). Indeed the analysis is quite convincing the graph does show that BB may be at its peak and on its way to decline as a platform. But I have 3 reservations for this analysis: Its too early to comment – the subscriber growth drop is only 1 quarter old trend, not something to base a future scenario on It ignores the power of network effect – while apple and android are growing faster than BB, we must acknowledge that blackberry already has a large installed user base and hence it’s not so easy for the whole platform to wipe out instantaneously. More importantly, BB users are primarily corporate users and it’s quite difficult for them to migrate away from the platform based on individual will and whims. The corporation must decide to change before the end subscriber moves. The opinion is based on sample surveys – this objection especially applies to the ‘OS

Executive Class

In my job as a management consultant, the primary function is to interact with people – clients, product vendors, government officials, bankers, and of course other consultants. Most of these are executives and over a period of time, I have started developing certain classifications for them. I know this sounds a little profane because people are not commodities; and personally I am a follower of Gandhi in terms of treating people. Most of Gandhiji's ideas can be ascribed to some inner quality of his mental eyesight that kept him from seeing people as a mass. He never saw or judged Indians or Frenchmen or Christians or Muslims in millions. He considered each human being too holy, too important to be the mere instrument of a remote impersonal terrestrial power called state. So before I start the main agenda of this post, let me clarify that this is not an attempt to define people as a collection. It’s a more mundane exercise to define certain common characteristics I have seen in

Decision Making

There's an interesting discussion going on at Hacker News about using Reason vs. Intuition - but one of the answers to it is quite pertinent to any kind of decision making. I found it worth reproducing for the benefit of all of you to be used in any situation. There are three tools for discovering truth and making decisions: reason, intuition, and revelation. Revelation means ask an expert, read the documentation. It is most appropriate when you don't know what you're doing at all -- when you have no sound first principles to feed into the engine of reason, and no experience on which to build intuition. Revelation is fast but limited; you instantly gain a conclusion as sound as your expert, but you cannot improve upon or critique it. Reason is most appropriate when you have moderate experience in a field. Through revelation and limited experience, you have developed some sound, inviolable principles, and can reason your ways to new ones. You know what  must  go here beca

Vinimay (Arthvyavastha - Part III)

Continued from here: Tamrapatrak Vyavastha (Arthvyavastha - Part II ) Anugam's tamrapatrak scheme received a phenomenal response - also because Anugam had offered his tamrapatraks at a discount to all the workmen whom he employed or bought his wares from. Saakshaat became the official scheme operator for Anugam also, and soon many more traders wanted to float their tamrapatraks. By the end of the year, two more traders had started tamrapatrak schemes, and many more were planning to launch in the next year. Saakshaat then started training more and more young pundits on managing tamrapatrak schemes - he realized that this would be a huge business and efficient and skilled handling of  tamrapatraks would make them even more popular. With more than one tamrapatrak schemes in the market, people often came to Saakshaat looking for advice on which scheme to put their money in. Some even wanted to surrender tamrapatraks from one trader  and buy someone else's in exchange. During