Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Global Indian Enterprises - Missing in Action!

We Indians love to boast about how the stewards at the helm of some of the major global companies are of Indian origin. We fill the town-hall meets and the convention centres in Bangalore and Delhi and Mumbai to hear the sage advice of these sons of the soil who have made it big at the global centre-stage. Everyone dreams of being a Satya Nadella and a Sundar Pichai.

We are indeed proud of them and should be, and I am in no way trying to steal their thunder - but why aren't there that many Indian multinational companies that are household names across the world? Why don't we have Google and Microsoft and Alibaba growing out of our backyards to rule the roost at the global stage? Nor do we have Indian answers to Mc Donalds, Chipotle and the likes, despite the fact that these enterprises are not technology driven. This question becomes all the more relevant when we have a central government that is trying to boost manufacturing through its 'Make in India' initiative. 
Michael Porter, the well-known and highly influential academician and business strategist has said that Indian companies are still far behind from being one of the globally respected brands. He had further gone on to say that, "These companies don't have strategies, they do deals. Indeed, this mentality often leads to a short-term sales focus where results are expected next month." According to Porter, the magic spell that would propel the Indian companies to the top is an "open economy" - which has minimal trade barriers and allows foreign competition to come in, and in the process makes the Indian conglomerates more agile, efficient and competitive; this sort of benchmarking against international standards would hold such companies in good stead across the world. 

But if indeed such was the case then 'the Great Firewall of China' should have crippled its IT industry - instead what we see is China is one of the most advanced Internet societies of the world. It not only has the largest number of internet users in the world, but also one of the most mature digital economies. Today Alipay - an online payments portal has more than 450 million users and has brought more than $89 billion dollars under management in a span of just 10 months; Facebook blindly apes WeChat for its social-content driven commerce where it seamlessly integrates Chatting with ecommerce, and a built-in payments portal; Alibaba has claimed the spot for the Largest Global IPO at $25 billion dollars. So how do they do it? In simple terms, the economic model of China is as follows: the government of China creates highly attractive markets for the local entrepreneurs with huge tax benefits, soft loans and benign regulations - allowing the entrepreneurs to compete against each other, and selecting a champion amongst them. These champions would then be allowed to carve out a monopolistic market in the country catering to such a huge population, and once they have achieved enough size - they would then compete on the global centre-stage, with companies like Xiaomi & Alibaba being the case-in-point. 
India on the other hand, is vitally different from China. Our regulatory laws prevent the creation of monopolies, hence the government cannot be seen favouring any particular company or other. The government doesn't control the way the people live or what they surf on the Internet. Where the government does intervene - it is through public enterprises which are grossly inefficient, even in those we are increasingly divesting off stakes. So private companies like Ola & Flipkart are largely left to fend for themselves. In effect we are following Porter's advise of allowing more foreign competition to build efficiencies in the domestic economy.

But will this lead to the creation of global powerhouses? Only time will tell. 

What are your views on this subject?

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Battery-Charger technique to help increase your efficiency( your multi-tasking toolkit )

Hi Friends,

Almost all of us are multi-taskers in our own right. Work, family, hobbies, friends, passions- there's a lot to do to justify your existence to yourself and your ecosystem. This multi-tasking takes it's toll even more on those who have desk jobs. It mounts your stress levels and makes your body accumulate toxins. Somebody recently told me that sitting in front of a system for 3 hours is equivalent to smoking 2 cigarettes. That makes me a voracious smoker, devouring something like 8 veggie-cigarettes, even though I remain deprived of the highs actual smoking would bring.

I have been working for my chemicals manufacturing business, eversince I graduated. At around the age of thirty, I used to feel totally screwed up by 6 pm, though my office required me to work till 8 or 9 pm. I consulted many doctors, got all kinds of tests done from blood checks to 2D-Echo of the heart. Nothing wrong came up. The time when I would start feeling consumed coincided with the peak time of getting reports and feedback from my team. It was almost impossible to leave office and go someplace where I could lie down and perform 'shav-asan', a yogic technique I knew would ease my physical stress. Besides with all the work-related thoughts playing bonkers in a responsible, analytic and workaholic mind, it would be almost impossible to conjure sleep.

I tried Pranayam and Bhastrika in the morning, after my walk, but strangely it made me feel even more tired. I have heard it works miracles with many, but I guess every human body is different. So it didn't work for me. I them did a basic course of SriSri Ravishankar's breathing relaxation techniques and practiced it for several months, ultiimtely combining it with Shavasan, which eased the stress to a good extent. But the evenings continued to remain pathetic. Then my uncle who was visiting us introduced to me Aanapan, a kind of meditation in which you sit with your back straight and focus on your breath, trying to feel relaxed. One has to watch his breath flowing through different portions of the face, entering the nostrils and leaving back via the same path. Five to six different routes, counting along, and then back. I practiced it for several days, ultimately again combining it with Shavasan. Can't resist the urge to get laid!!!

Now I finally had a quick relaxation technique handy with me. I would not sit in the upright position at all. I started taking a 25 minute break in the evening from the office, would lock my office, lie down on the sofa and start counting my breath coming in and leaving from different routes. I would soon doze off and wake up exactly after 20-25 minutes. This magical jhapki would recharge my body for another 8 hours shift, enabling me to work with full efficiency till 2 pm. There is no multi-tasking without extra time and efforts, and this technique gives me the needed extra time. I just need 7 hours of sleep. One more important thing about this technique is that you need to complete the cycle of sleep. As the body detoxifies, you can almost feel the heat ooze out. But if someone disturbs you and this cycle is broken, one would feel even more miserable. So it is important to get back to the sleep meditation and complete it anyhow.

If sometimes, it is not possible to find a sofa or bed to lie down, one could relax with his head down on the working desk or even sit straight in his chair and do it. It is still quite effective. The important thing it to give your body the much needed rest, when it hollers for it.

I hope this battery-charger technique will work for you . If it does "bas dua mein yaad rakhna"

Lots of love
Sumit Agarwal

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

So you think you can sing? I believe you are right!

There are many people in the world who realise the talents that they have been gifted with. But, at the same time, there are many who don’t know their blessings as yet. Some are aware and blame time for not being able to make the best use of their abilities; while some fear public opinion.

Understand the fact that people who live their passion invest time in it. This is what makes them do well. You don't really have to wait around for an aha moment to recognise your love for music. If you can’t resist yourself from humming the latest song that you heard in the morning and if you really can’t keep music out of your mind during most of the hours, then you probably do have a lot more to your personality than just being a casual music lover. I think one out of every four people have the capability to sing well, it is only the lack of confidence and training which holds them back.

No matter which one of these categories you fall in, if you think you can sing, then one thing that you surely need to do is – hone your singing talent. To realise the power of music, you have to give your heart and soul to it.

Take it from someone like me who has to devote time to his work, family, friends and passion – without compromising on any one of them. I know its tough at the beginning to juggle things up, but the happiness that you experience, once you get right on track, is profound. For more tips on time management follow my blog, I will be sharing lots of tricks to help you do that.

Classical training helps tune your vocal cords. Find a Guruji / Ustadji to train you on the ragas. Sooner the better! Listen to Arijit Singh of SaReGaMa and compare with his voice texture now. It took him 14 years of rigorous training to achieve it. Practice (riyaz) everyday to keep your voice in prime condition. Even 30 minutes everyday is good. It won’t outrightly change your style, but will help you have better control on your voice.

To quote the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald – "The only thing better than singing is more singing."

So, for those of you who have still not recognised the power of music, it’s time to do so!
Just get going and polish your singing skills! After all, the world needs your music! Right, huh?

Wish you Happy Singing!

Monday, 28 March 2016

The cat’s purr that changed my perception on Right to Education

Given a choiceI would love to pick up my little girl from school daily but I am mostly unable to eke out time from my overloaded schedule. When I do, I try to make the most of it.  I try surprises like getting colored slush for her as she loves it and finds it amusing how it changes the color of her tongue. Yesterday as I got some time, I went to pick up Aliya from school and was gazing eagerly at the school’s gate, as the slush I had brought had started to liquefy. As the gates were opened and I saw children rushing out and looking for their parents. I too was looking for my princess. In that hubbub, I saw some relatively untidy children, wearing the same uniform, also coming out of the school. And then I spotted Aliya talking and laughing merrily with those children. I was puzzled, as affording this school (being one of the best in town) was not easy. She too spotted me and started walking towards the car, waving back at those children. She opened the car’s door and was elated to get the multicolored slush. On our way back home, I asked ‘Baby, who were those children you were waving at?’

“My friends Papa!” she replied in a who-else tone.

“Not a single normal friend?” I regretted my words as soon as I uttered them. It was hard to conceal the turbulence within.

I enquired about their muddled attire and was surprised to know that from this new session, around twenty percent of every class was occupied by these necessitous children. I figured out that this school, unlike the others in its league, must have followed the newly passed law under “right to education”, wherein all schools are supposed to give a small portion of their total seats to children from underprivileged families.

“Such fancy things sound good on television channel debates, but I am sure I would like my princess to keep better company,” I thought. “They come from a totally different world. One of abusive language and unhygienic habits, far from the class we expect our children to imbibe in one of the best paid schools in town.”

The traffic light turned red. Aliya opened the window and threw out the half finished slush, in a hurry to free her hands to reach out to my mobile. The cat Jerry she had domesticated on my mobile, was purring for food. She immediately fed some milk and biscuits to the hungry virtual cat. It made me wonder at the futility of such apps.

I was about to scold her, when I heard the tak-tak on my window being knocked by a child selling novels. He was sweating in the scorching heat of the sun outside, holding a heavy stack of books in his left hand and trying to show me some bestseller covers with the other.

The traffic light went green and I had to move on, though I felt pity at this child. What had happened in the last 10 seconds had totally changed my perception. Maybe my little princess really needed to step out from the hollow world of gadgets, computers and television. Maybe she needed to develop some value for money and the hardships one has to go through in the real world to earn a living. What better way than giving her company of these children who lived in this unprotected real world. Her school had done just that! Not only would the deprived children get better education, and learn the etiquettes of the higher class in majority, they would give these children from affluent families a flavor of the real world. What a wonderful way to teach children to co-exist, develop mutual respect and bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor in our country !

My Mantras for a Happy Life

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it's all that matters.”

This famous quote, by the beautiful British actress Audrey Hepburn, rightly defines the way your life should be lived.

When you do what you love and you do it by all your heart, life becomes blissful. But, it’s not that easy always! You come across several obstacles on your way to happiness and this is when you need to learn the simple art of overcoming stress and difficulties.

Here I am sharing with you all the mantras that I follow to lead a happy life. Hope you will find them inspiring! So, go ahead and conquer the world with your happiness.

     1. Love simplicity

Enjoy the simple things in your life. Aspiring for bigger goals is important to keep you motivated. But, in this pursuit to make it large, don’t forget that there are simple things which are joyous than anything else. Go out with your loved ones on a road trip nearby, enjoy the sunset, stare at the stars in the night sky, dance in the rain, catch an old movie with your parents, pour your heart out to someone you trust –all these small things will give you much more contentment than riding that Porsche could ever bring. Sometimes in our pursuit of success, we forget to be happy. We are in a hurry to utilize each moment and in the process we forget to feel happy. Keep reminding yourself to be happy!

      2. Be easy on yourself
On several occasions, you will find yourself stressed and frustrated. But the key to life long happiness lies in the fact that you have to take things easy. Cut that stress, and let things unfold gradually. Do your best, but don’t overthink on issues that are not under your control – you have God to take care of those things. Isn’t it? And there will be a tomorrow, probably better. Also remember that no one lives forever. No one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Try to enjoy each day like it’s your last ( easier said than done…but atleast a part of it !). Utilize the opportunity to bring happiness to yourself as well as the ones who matter to you. Tell them your true feelings, so that you may carry no regrets.

     3. Pursue your passion
It’s never too late to learn new things, no matter what your age is. Learn how to play that musical instrument you have wanted to, ever since you were a child, or a foreign language that always fascinated you. Take some time out from your busy schedule and take a step towards your dream. Even if you don’t excel at it, you will not live with the regret that you didn’t try. Don’t complain that you are tied down by your schedule or responsibilities. Where there is a will, there is a way. Pursuing your dream will keep you adrenalized.

     4. Stay healthy
It’s truly said that Health is happiness. No matter how busy you are, take out atleast 90 minutes for your health everyday. If not everyday, four times a week. Jog, walk, cycle, skate, play a sport, swim, garden, do whatever it takes to make you sweat like it rained. Fast half a day once or twice a week, if not full. Eat healthy. Monitor your weight. Laugh your heart out whenever you get a chance. Diabetes, blood pressure, fatty liver and other chronic illnesses will happen when they have to. Learn to manage your health. Try to find out what foods suit your metabolism and which one causes problems. Meditate or take a powernap everyday. The amount of happiness is proportional to your lifespan, so take care of your health.

     5. Make others happy
There is no bigger happiness than giving back. God has been benevolent with you and given you a lot. If not financially, then maybe in other ways! If you have all limbs intact, you are more fortunate that a lot of other people. There is no bigger happiness than making others happy. You have to get used to it. Try to bring some good to this world, to your fellow human beings. Don’t wait for the right time when you have loads of money or free time. Start today with little things such as teaching underprivileged children from the locality for half an hour. By visiting a hospital and distributing some fruits to the needy. Do whatever you can!

More to follow…Sumit Agarwal

Friday, 11 March 2016

Poor condition of public services in India

When we think of going to a government office/institute the first thing that comes to our mind is poor infrastructure, manner-less staff, dirty corridors and squalor all around. But do we see the same condition of government offices in countries like Singapore or Dubai?  The answer is no! Every time we visit a government office to get some work done whether it’s your daughter’s driving license from local RTO or your parent’s health issue in a government hospital, we have to be prepared for the hostile behavior of employees and incase we do not want to face this humiliating behavior we are bound to suborn them.

Now why are these employees so addicted to taking bribe for the work they are already being paid (handsome amount) for? And from where do they derive the audacity to be bold enough to ask for it. The reason here is, they are well backed by people sitting at high-up positions. The officers in-charge, the HOD are well aware of every small and big amount (bribe) being taken by the clerks & peons but the reason why they let it happen is their own cut in every amount taken by the ‘support staff’. And somewhere or the other we all know this grubby truth but when the in-charges them selves are responsible for nourishing this system, at some point in time we feel helpless before the system. We are being victimized by this complex structure as we find ourselves in the middle of a chaos and we don’t know whom are we supposed to complain. And this annoyance at times results in a brawl with the babus, which eventually ends with the victim being shown the door to the office.

Even the “Janlokpal andolan” from which we all had high hopes, turned out to be a bubble that burst in no time, leaving things in the same state they were.

So what are we supposed to do now…? That’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves someday or the other. Should we arrange a dharna? Shall we do a sting to get these faces exposed? But we always have this second thought in our minds ‘will it make a difference’? Also, we reiterate to our self “I’m not a politician or a social worker” and we leave it to destiny. We allow wrong to happen to us and to those around us without raising our voice. We are too tolerant and adjust to the atrocities around us. We have a mentality that one man can never make a difference, but let me remind you all that time when Mr. Gandhi was thrown out of the train he was just a common man and that too all alone in a foreign land but it was due to his determination that today we have his photo on every note in our pocket and we call him ‘Father of the Nation’. Its true that ‘revolution can never be brought about in a day’ but there’s always a beginning to a new journey and your nation is waiting for you to be that beginning…do you have the cojones to be that change…?

Monday, 29 February 2016

My Multi Tasking Mantras

Many of my acquaintances ask me about how do I really manage the multiple roles that I had embarked on in my life long back. Well, to answer this I would just say perseverance is the key! There are times when juggling various roles might seem to be extremely difficult, but as they say it – when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

From being a writer and a philanthropist, to being a singer and an industrialist, all these roles give me a sense of fulfillment. These have made me who I am today, and to make sure that I manage these roles with full zeal and commitment, I follow a set of mantras.

So, here I am unveiling my mantras for multi tasking! Hope you will have a good read!

1. Are you simply working, or living your dream?

The author of Toby Daye series, Seanan McGuire, said it right when she said, “Some people live where they work. Others just visit.” 

If the former is the case with you, then congrats you are doing the right job! However, if the latter is your real life scenario, then you certainly need to reconsider the goals of your life. Think about the work and non-work roles that you play and introspect your conscience a little to see if you wish to replace each with one another. Only when you have the right roles on board, can you actually love the way your life turns out!

2. Prioritize right!

As life unfolds, you witness yourself focusing on various roles. But as you do it, don’t forget to prioritize these roles based on what you want to achieve at first. Off and on, you will realize that you can’t really forego trade-offs – they are a part of your work and personal life. So, while you have to make a choice, do it after careful planning and do it consciously to avoid any negative consequences later in life.

3. Time is more expensive than money

Unlearn the adage that time is money, because it is much more expensive than that! Practice the art of time management and pay undivided attention on the results. Aim to attain excellence, but not at the cost of taking too much time that the task that you need to accomplish becomes futile, once the time that you have in hand lapses. Always make appointments to get things done on time, no matter at what position you are in your organization. This not only helps you to work effectively, but also lets you respect others’ time, so that you don’t end up interrupting them when they are busy in much more important matters.

4. Stress less, work more

The road to success is full of obstacles. You have to learn the art of crossing those obstacles without fretting much. Do your best and let the little things in your life go. Avoid stressing so much so that you finish off with anxiety, depression or sadness. Remember this life is a journey. Just relax and enjoy the ride. The less you stress, the more you will be able to focus on your work – ultimately devoting more things on other tasks that you love to do! Balance will eventually be achieved; all that you need to do is to keep the worries off your head!

Wish you a Happy Work-Living!