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You and I can beat recession August 18, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in International Issues, National Issues.
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Mrs. Geeta Khurana, an architect, used to work for a leading construction company. Her husband was a practicing Chartered Accountant.  Both had an exceptionally peaceful family life full of love and understanding. It was daily chore for them to have breakfast and dinner together at home along with their children. One particular day Mr. Pravin Khurana did not reach home at the time he generally used to report back every day. Natural reaction was to contact him on his cell, which eventually was not responding.

After three hours when the CA reached home he saw a lot of mayhem inside. The house was full of people, the police, the neighbor’s and a few media people. While he was shocked to see the audience at home, all others were relieved to see him safe. Since Pravin did not reach home and also since he was not responding on cell, Mrs. Khurana got panicked and called up the police station to inform that her husband was missing.  What actually happened is this – on his way back from office Pravin witnessed one accident and rushed to help the injured. He had to go to the nearby hospital and as such he got delayed. In the process someone stole his cell phone and he could not update his status at home.

Friends you and I are no different. Think about it – what comes first to our thoughts when a near & dear one does not reach home at the expected hour? Would one think that the person might have hit a jack pot on the way and would be counting the amount! Nope. Invariably one would worry of some accident on the way. It’s very natural for human brain to readily accept the possibility of a negative consequence. That’s the treatment it gets right from its birth. It requires conscious efforts for an individual to anticipate and accept a positive outcome out of uncertain situations.

Something similar happened to the world last week when credit rating firm Standard & Poor’s stunned the whole world by downgrading the U.S. government’s debt rating to AA+ from AAA. This was the first time in history that America lost its top-rung rating.  Although this downgraded of US by S&P was not the end of the world, it gave birth to a tsunami of panic driven speculations across the world. The newspapers started talking of the second consecutive recession. The world became a theater of sentiments where the drama of downfall was being staged. 

A national TV channel interviewed me the same day and wanted to have my views on the likely job market scenario if there was a double-dip recession. Though I am not an economist I refuted the possibilities of job losses and bad times. They were not convinced and started interrogating me in a manner in which police would question a suspect. I stood strong on my stand and tried to convince them. S&P’s US downgrade did not mean companies in India will start throwing out their manpower from the window. It was just one indicator. Even billionaire Warren Buffett has expressed that US economy will avoid its likely recession in three years.

Every recession has a distinct point of ignition. 1995 recession was different, 2008 was due to the fallout of subprime lending. Even the who’s who in India were caught unaware in the last recession.  On the eve of Lehman debacle, Tata’s had signed up the takeover of Corus steel in a multibillion dollar deal. As such the impact of recession was also unexpectedly harsh. But today India is not unaware; inventory and manpower levels are well within manageable limits in the core segment. There would however be certain sectors which may face the heat. Even if economy gets into a continuous phase of de-growth I thing we can be sure of is that there won’t be episodes of mass unemployment this time.  

Actually the scars of 2008 recession are still live and it does not allow our naïve brain to stop extrapolating the negative. Relax: It is most unlikely that the world would plunge into a ‘once more’ recession. While the news of likely recession was on fire, there were some positives which happened simultaneously but did not get the public sentiments. There are signs of modest improvement which should quiet the slowdown worries. Here is a list of these encouraging news sentiments: Reputed rating agencies (other than S&P) like Moody’s and Fitch have not downgraded US. In July’2011 US added 117000 jobs, better than the previous two months. Hiring picked up and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent. Goldman Sachs on Monday upgraded India to ‘market weight’ from ‘underweight’. With the macro cycle oil prices were likely to roll down and a newspaper report said petrol could come down by Rs. 10/- a liter!

Life differs in each ones perspective. A deaf child says : “For all of you I am deaf, but for me all of you are dumb.” I am sure the US downgrade doesn’t warrant too much of panic like it did in 2008. Need of the hour is to refrain from being a negative thinker. Since we may not know the details of the macro economic developments across the globe let’s not succumb to a recessionary thought process. Worries of negative expectations lead to ignorant negative speculations on a mass scale. Businesses across the nation would adopt the ‘wait and watch’ strategy and this may subsequently trigger recession. Hence it is better to be wishfully optimistic than to be hopelessly pessimistic.  Positive thoughts will encourage & help build up sentiments leading to overall growth. Let’s together cultivate an optimistic belief about the future and spread the positive word around. 

LESSONS FOR EXCELLENCE :

  1. 1.       Let’s train our thoughts to dwell more on “hope for the best” and less on “be prepared for the worst”.
  2. 2.       No poison can kill a positive thinker and no medicine can heal a negative mind! Be it life or business; teach yourself to be positive in the world of expectations.
  3. 3.       “Words are under your control until you speak them, but you come under their control once you have spoken them!”
  4. 4.       Tongue is the biggest tool of mass destruction as well as mass construction. Let’s use it constructively.
  5. 5.       Collectively all of us can defeat recession by endorsing the right sentiments.

 

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in

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Yoga@ Call Center – The Customer Plight October 18, 2010

Posted by aglakadam in aglakadam, International Issues, Management, National Issues, Social Casue.
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If Peter Drucker & Jack Welch would read these stories they would surely revisit their understanding about the worth of a customer, at least in India. There was a time when a lot of PSU’s and government run companies in India were strongly criticized for lack of service consciousness. This lack of service attitude ( the service apethy) was invented, revealed & amply advertised by the privately owned companies, post globalization. But over a period of time now it seems the so called huge size companies are not able to manage their growth and are compromising with their customer consciousness… Here is sharing two real life experiences I encountered myself ….

Story 1 :

Company : Dell

Product : Laptop

I responded to a lucrative newspaper advertisement from Dell and rang up the call center. It took two attempts to get the call picked and then subsequently get it transferred to the right desk. Goes without saying one has to repeat one’s introduction and state purpose of call at least twice or thrice before getting connected. After going through all this telephonic yoga and exercise, the call center executive on the other side says he does not have all the information and as such he shall call me back with all the inputs.

When no one called back in the next 48 hours, I wrote to as many email id’s as possible as I could discover, innovate on @dell domain ( after performing an intensive research on the dell website). To all my emails I got only two auto responder replies, both not from India. I then searched for Dell users on Twitter & fortunately hooked on to someone who was a bit responsive. He forwarded my query to one Mr. Rajiv Verma who took 7 days & multiple follow-ups to partially revert on basic queries raised by me post initial quote. In the meanwhile I got a feeling as if I was trying to do something wrong & illegal hence I had to struggle so much to purchase a Dell laptop. Was I trying to purchase something undeserved! The humiliation and anger surpassed my tolerable limits and I decided to stop my ordeal buying a Dell Laptop. I communicated the same to Dell officials via email. Here is the reply which I get from them :

Dear Mr. Varwandkar,

I have been looking over the email exchanges between you and Rajeev. I noticed that ……..

…….. Again, I will provide feedback to the agent, as this should have been explained to you in a timely manner. We also should not have taken so long to respond to your email on the 10th.

We regret that we are losing a customer; however, we very much appreciate your feedback.

Thank you, Amy (full text of this quote available on request)

The most surprising element is that they realized they are loosing a client, but there was no attempt to retain a loosing customer! Who said customer retention is the key in today’s fierce market place? If companies like the scale of Dell have so pathetic customer response, who will have reasons to believe on the theories of Management prevailing round the management schools across the Globe?

Story 2 :

Company : Idea Cellular Limited

Product : Post Paid connection.

I am a user of Idea cellular phone number since almost 8 years, goes without the saying that the number was purchased 8 years back! I have four connections in the corporate category, all in the name of a private limited company.

Barring of services for invalid reasons or for errors at their end or just for fun (pun!) has been the order with Idea. Off late I have got used to introducing myself to Idea Call center executives every time I have some unfortunate reason to call them & get some rude treatement. To add to the misery is that the call center trauma is not free, they proceed with your call only once you accept that your call will be a chargeable call and no more a toll free call!

What happened recently with me was really innovative on behalf of Idea, it was an Out of The Box Idea which changed the happiness quotient in my life. One fine morning a call is received from an unidentified person, who states that he is calling from Idea franchisee and he needs my identity proof. The arrogant caller exceeded his limits when he said that he is standing near a particular police station and I am supposed to submit an Identification proof within 15 minutes! I refused and asked him to come to my office to collect whatever document required.

After a few days all of a sudden my idea number gets barred not only from making outgoing calls but also from receiving incoming calls. The reason stated is that this number has been identified as no identity. I am asked to fill up a fresh Application Form (CAF), submit two fresh photographs and sign over all the new application formalities once again as if I am purchasing a new connection. On top of it the Idea officials insist that I should sign blank forms and not filled up forms!

After various follow-ups and persuasions an insider informs me that the Idea officials have lost the original application form and I am now being harassed to get the new documents! When I contacted the Idea grievance redressal cell in day time on the phone numbers as mentioned on the website, no one picked up the phone. I tried reaching the appellate authority where a soft sounding but harsh worded person picked the called and replied mechanically to my queries. He went ahead to charge me for not fulfilling the formalities and using the idea Post Paid connection for years together!

While I am still going through this ordeal as of date, I thought this a great idea to write down my ideas on diminishing customer consciousness amongst huge corporate in India. I am not the only one who has suffered , I am sure there would be thousands and lacks of such victims. I strongly demand future managers to be empathetic to customer plight, delight will automatically follow through!

Ajit Varwandkar
Managing Director
FS Management (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Email : info@fsindia.in
Date : 18.10.2010

Shabash INDIA – WELLDONE Media October 3, 2010

Posted by aglakadam in EQ, International Issues, Life and all, My Letters, National Issues, Social Casue.
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Finally the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court did pronounce the judgement in the Ayodhya title suit and more than 24 hours over without even a single incident of violence recorded anywhere in the country. This unprecedented situation of peace, unity & harmony in
the country has been a big relaxation to the common man, the society, the business & also the international community. Surely a big part of this success can be attributed to the Indian media because toiday we all rely on media for getting the information from every corner of the world.

The government had taken proactive measures to ensure communal harmony irrespective of the court verdict. Many a advisories had been issued to the various sections of media to restrain caution while interacting with the public through press or electronic methods. News channels were asked to exercise restraint in coverage of the ruling. The high court had even officially asked media not to speculate about the verdict till it has the copy of the operational part of the order in hand. Bulk sms was banned and it was a smart government initiative.

Historically, the most common form of the spread of information has been word of mouth, “Did you know…” sentences keep moving around from mouth to mouth to a never ending destination. The use of technology has accelerated the pace of movement of news. No doubt the media today plays a highly significant role in this and its all around us – it may be newspaper, radio, tv, sms, internet. Infact the flow of information triggers or arrests the growth of our society. Without the support of media, its very difficult to disseminate information across the wide geography!

I am sure when we come to think of 26/11 we all can easily recollect the fires & flames seen and read widely in the contemporary print & electronic media. It was not long back that Indian media was accused of having exceeds its limits in reporting the issue. Reading reports about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai sends shivers down my spine even today. Rather than playing the role of a responsible medium & presenting a balanced and responsible coverage; what happened had stunned the impressions and conclusions of the world around.
Similar was the case of Gujarat riots when the psyche of the nation was fractured in number of ways. Hate waves ruled the nation and thousands lives were lost. Surely media today has demonstrated that it is a powerful medium for instigating change in the society.
My personal understanding is that the bulk of Muslim & Hindu masses in India are absolute peace loving. Though the Ayodhya verdict by its nature of ruling itself did not instigate large scale controversy, still it was sufficient enough to disrupt the nations working for at least a few days or months. Media could have played a very important role in manipulating the situation.

Ayodhya verdict has been a critical milestone for the nation globally as well. The international community was looking at India with a critical eye. Common wealth games ahead and also a heap of investments were at stake for an economy which is just on its way out of the recession.
Unlike past this time, image of the nation did not take a beating in the international community. The most vital reason for the nation’s image management has been the balanced media coverage. Since the international community’s medium of getting Indian information is English, they read only what the English media writes; which this time reflected angle of Indian secular
tradition.
Looks like our media friends, have been into the introspection mode and have delivered a face of responsibility to the nation. Not even a single channel nor a single newspaper spoke of anything about any event in past related to the Hindu Muslim disharmony. On the contrary
complete media was rife with stories of communal peace. I saw some channel telecast where a Muslim was shown serving the needs of a Temple & the Goddess statues in the temple! Stories in print were read about how Hindu’s have been respecting their Muslim friends religious beliefs and celebrating Eid with them.

This was very sensitive & appreciative on the part of the media that they behaved very responsibly. Every statement printed every coverage telecast was well balanced to my understanding & knowledge. In fact some units went ahead to sponsor advertisements
requesting people of the country to adhere to peace and also suggesting why peace is must for the nation.

It is the responsible & matured behavior of media that the prime concern of National unity and integrity seems to have strengthened post Ayodhya verdict. Nothing wase not blown out of proportion and only positive vibes went into the public. Media infact played a constructive role in promoting mutual understanding among the general public, nothing was found reported out of
vengeance.

In such a sensitive subject concerning the harmony and peace of the nation, media overall took a very transparent and vigilant stance. Ethical and Sensible journalism, Isn’t it? Shabash Media, once again congratulations. Keep it up….

Ajit Varwandkar
Managing Director
http://www.aglakadam.com

Email : info@fsindia.in

PS : Any Media is free to reproduce the contents in this post in part or full without disturbing the intended message in the post.

For women in America, equality is still an illusion February 23, 2010

Posted by aglakadam in International Issues.
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Every day, we hear about the horrors women endure in other countries: rape in Darfur, genital mutilation in Egypt, sex trafficking in Eastern Europe. We shake our heads, forward e-mails and send money.

We have no problem condemning atrocities done to women abroad, yet too many of us in the United States ignore the oppression on our doorstep. We’re suffering under the mass delusion that women in America have achieved equality.

We have no problem condemning atrocities done to women abroad, yet too many of us in the United States ignore the oppression on our doorstep. We’re suffering under the mass delusion that women in America have achieved equality.

And why not — it’s a feel-good illusion. We cry with Oprah and laugh with Tina Fey; we work and take care of our children; we watch Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice proudly and sigh with relief, believing we’ve come so far. But we’re basking in a “girl power” moment that doesn’t exist — it’s a mirage of equality that we’ve been duped into believing is the real thing.

Because despite the indisputable gains over the years, women are still being raped, trafficked, violated and discriminated against — not just in the rest of the world, but here in the United States. And though feminists continue to fight gender injustices, most people seem to think that outside of a few lingering battles, the work of the women’s movement is done.

It’s time to stop fooling ourselves. For all our “empowered” rhetoric, women in this country aren’t doing nearly as well as we’d like to think.

After all, women are being shot dead in the streets here, too. It was only last year that George Sodini opened fire in a gym outside Pittsburgh, killing three women and injuring nine others. Investigators learned from Sodini’s blog that he specifically targeted women. In 2006, a gunman went into an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania; he sent the boys outside and opened fire on almost a dozen girls, killing five. That same year in Colorado, a man sexually assaulted six female students he had taken hostage at a high school before killing one of them.

And it’s not just strangers who are killing women; more than 1,000 women were killed by their partners in 2005, and of all the women murdered in the United States, about a third are killed by a husband or boyfriend. A leading cause of death for pregnant women? Murder by a partner.

In Iraq, women serving in the military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.

Even the government underestimates the crisis American women are in. Last year the Justice Department reported that there were 182,000 sexual assaults committed against women in 2008, which would mean that the rate had decreased by 70 percent since 1993. But a study by the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center showed that the Justice Department’s methodology was flawed. Instead of behaviorally based questions, such as “Has anyone ever forced you to have sex?”, women were asked if they had been subject to “rape, attempted or other type of sexual attack.” Victims often don’t label their experience as “rape,” especially when someone they know attacked them. The center says the actual number of U.S. women raped in 2008 was more than 1 million.

The distressing statistics don’t stop with violence: Women hold 17 percent of the seats in Congress; abortion is legal, but more than 85 percent of counties in the United States have no provider; women work outside the home, but they make about 76 cents to a man’s dollar and make up the majority of Americans living in poverty.

This is a far cry from progress; it’s an epidemic of sexism. So where’s the outrage? When my co-bloggers and I write at Feministing.com about the hurdles American women face, a common criticism is that if we cared about women’s rights, we’d focus on countries where women are actually oppressed — that women here have it too good to complain. When I speak on college campuses, I’m sometimes asked the same question (generally by a male student): What are you complaining about? Women are doing terrific!

In her upcoming book, author Susan Douglas calls this “enlightened sexism.” She writes that the appearance of equality — from “girl power” to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — is a dangerous distraction from the pervasiveness of sexism.

So why the blinders? Most women know that sexism exists. But between the glittery illusion Douglas refers to and the ongoing feminist backlash, it’s not surprising that so many women don’t realize how dire their situation is. Organizations such as the Independent Women’s Forum, for example, exist to tell women that equality is actually bad for them. In a 2007 opinion article in The Washington Post headlined “A Bargain At 77 Cents to a Dollar,” the forum’s Carrie Lukas wrote that the wage gap is simply “a trade-off” for holding jobs with “personal fulfillment.” The organization’s campus program argues against Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions. Between pop culture and politics, women are being taught that everything is fine and dandy — and a lot of us are buying it.

Part of this unwillingness to see misogyny in America could be self-protection — perhaps the truth is too scary to face. Or maybe American women are simply loath to view themselves as oppressed, and it’s easier to look at women in other countries as the real victims. This isn’t to say that international misogyny isn’t a problem; of course it is. And many women in America do have it easier than women in other parts of the world. But this isn’t a zero-sum game, and we can fight for our rights while fighting for women internationally as well.

In fact, our successes could help women abroad. The recent increase in the number of female ambassadors globally has been dubbed the “Hillary effect” — the idea that our secretary of state’s visibility has opened doors for women in other countries. And perhaps if the pay gap here were closed, women would have more money to spend on causes overseas. It’s time to do away with the either-or mentality that surrounds domestic and international women’s rights.

Fortunately, a vibrant feminist movement is still at large in the United States, taking on issues from reproductive justice and racism to pay equity and motherhood. But feminists cannot pick up the sexist slack on their own, and recent mainstream conversations — such as when singer Rihanna was assaulted by her then-boyfriend Chris Brown, or when Clinton and Sarah Palin were the targets of sexism during the 2008 campaign — have been far too civilized for the mess that we’re in.

We act as if the hatred directed at women is something that can be dealt with by a stern talking to, as if the misogyny embedded in our culture is an unruly child rather than systematic oppression. Yes, women today fare better than our foremothers. But the benchmarks so often cited — the right to vote, working outside the home, laws that make domestic violence illegal — don’t change the reality of women’s lives. They don’t prevent 1 million women from being raped, female troops from being assaulted or the continued legal discrimination against gay and transgender people. And seriously, are American women really supposed to be satisfied with the most basic rights of representation? Thrilled that our country has deigned to consider us fully human?

There is so much more work to be done. The truth is, most women don’t have the privilege of being able to look at gender justice from a distance; they have no choice but to live it every day. Those of us who are lucky enough not to have to think about sexism, racism, poverty and homophobia on a daily basis — those of us who have the privilege of sending money to an international cause via e-mail while ignoring the plight of women here at home — have a responsibility to open our eyes to the misogyny right in front of us. And then to stop it.

Jessica Valenti is the author of “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women” and the founder of Feministing.com.

Submitted by : Ajit Varwandkar, Twitter : @varwandkar

Read COMPLETE DETAILS AT :
Source : http://ow.ly/19UnK
The Washington Post
By Jessica Valenti
Sunday, February 21, 2010