My Views

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Identity of a 'State'

How are states formed?

Look at the map of USA and Australia. The boundaries of the states are at many places just straight lines. Even boundary between US and Canada has many straight line segments. These are examples of relatively new countries where administrative convenience dictated the decision regarding boundaries of the states. Of course, geography of the region had to be taken into account.

This cannot be the case with Asia, Europe and Africa. What constitutes a State and how do you draw its boundaries is a much more complex issue in India.

First and foremost factor is the geography. Look at the shape of Assam. It is totally dictated by Brahmputra river. Five rivers have shaped the state of Punjab. Geographical factors affect the development of civilization in that area. Dry and arid climate has created a different ethos for Rajasthan.

So topography and geography influence development of human habitation, its community, economy, language and ethos. These give rise to an identity.  And this identity is the basis of the state. 

Behind the current turmoil in Andhra Pradesh, the geography is the key factor. Let us see how the inter play of technology and geography caused economic disparity. Coastal Andhra is more fertile but was affected by the vagaries of weather. The distinct upward growth of the region started when mighty rivers Godavari and Krishna were tamed because of the new technology in the form of dams and canals and much better irrigation became available. Suddenly the farmers and large landowners of the area got much richer. To enjoy their riches they made a beeline to the 'City'.

Of course we are talking of Hyderabad. Rulers of Hyderabad (Nizams) had developed the art of enjoyment. Just for example in the area of culinary tastes, Hyderabadi biryani can only be matched by the biryanis from Lucknow patronized by the Nawabs. Older residents of Hyderabad were uncomfortable with the sudden influx of the rich brothers from the South-East.

Economic disparity between the two regions created a perception of injustice. These perceptions have become solid, very solid indeed. Fueled by the emotion and absence of reflection, there is no way one can dispassionately create a dialogue between different groups in Andhra. I am not against formation of Telengana. In fact I favour it. But I am under no illusion that the two new states will live peacefully here after.

Telengana will for a few years/decades continue to externalize the cause of their lack of fortune. It will be only after passage of time that realization will dawn upon them that the real key to the economic growth in this century is not from agriculture but from non-agriculture area. Unless Telengana quickly forms a powerful vision under an able leader the gains from the new statehood will never materialize.  




Sunday, July 28, 2013

Will this periodic ranting help us?

When I switch on TV or read business newspapers, a frequent refrain that I hear from the industrialists is that Govt should do this /Govt should do that/ RBI should do this/ RBI should do that. While I fully subscribe to the view that there should be a continuing dialogue between industry and the Govt., I find this ranting as a dependent child's ranting. From another angle, the captains of industry appear to say that I will win if the rules are changed. Or I will win if the umpire is of my choice. 

The real adversary is not the Government. (I do not hold any brief on behalf of the Government.) The real competition is from China, South East Asia and other emerging economies. While we talk of cooperation between emerging economies, fact is that there is greater competition amongst themselves. 

If Chinese can make the goods at one fourth of the price that we in India make, the problem is that we are not innovative and competitive enough. Earlier we always claimed that China is a mystery, it is no longer so. We know about Chinese industry enough. And its competitiveness is for real. And they are competitive despite providing a better standard of living to their workers.

China can make cheaper toys and even cheaper toothpicks. We need to introspect as to why we cannot make these and other countless goods where high tech is not required at a competitive rate. 

What is missing are 1. innovation, 2. big vision and 3. risk taking.

More on these later.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Need for a new political party only for women

At different times there are new dividing lines in the society which define the political alignment. In the initial years after independence, the dividing line was Pro-Nehru vs. Anti-Nehru. Later it became Congress vs non-others. Then it was socialism vs right wing. Now it is UPA vs NDA. On policy front both are quite similar. 

The real dividing line today is Women vs Men. In order to create a society which gives the women their due share, I propose that there should be a party for the women only. If the women of India can unite, they do not need Women Reservation Bill. Without such reservation also, if most of the women vote for their own party, they will form the Government at Centre and State level. 

And I am dead serious about it. 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Are your new employees "job ready"?

Industry representatives have been demanding that the prospective employee should be job ready.

If you are employing a fresher straight from the college, polytechnic or ITI, your expectation is unfounded. A person coming out of the educational institution has to be career ready and not job ready. Today, a young person usually goes through 16 to 18 years of education. This education has to prepare him/her for next 30 to 40 years of career. Through these years this person will move from one job to another job even if he stays in the same organization.

Making the person "job ready" is the responsibility of the employing organization. Industrial organization have been trying to cut down on expenditure on training of fresh employees. If you want to do away with this expenditure, you have an option of employing only people with work experience. While you save on training expenditure, you have to pay a higher salary. Some of my clients pursue this policy and have no complaints. Only organizations of certain type and certain size can pursue this policy. For larger organizations, this may not work.

In order to achieve the objective of 1. reducing cost and 2. reducing time period in which the employee becomes productive, employers should tie up with the educational institutions and in last six months of education of prospective employee, they should provide inputs which bridge the gap perceived by them. 

General complaints and innuendos would not help. Let us adopt the attitude, "If we have a problem, let us solve it."