Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Patel Movement and the triple concept of Society Academics and Economics

The Patel Movement : Hypotheses Emerging

The Patels are rallying across Gujarat seeking inclusion ... ah inclusion into the OBC (Other Backward Classes) category such that they get a proportion of government jobs reserved for them as part of the OBC pool. . This is a very interesting phenomenon that needs to be looked at with the triple lens of Society - Economy - Academia .. and here is why ....

The Patels are traditionally the Landholding class - The Patidars.. the ones with the patti  or ownership etched in stone to land.  .. The ones raising this demand are in Gujarat .. a spectacularly successful state in India  in terms of economics. The success so much touted that it is virtually worshipped and in academics debated as the Gujarat model of Development. What we must keep in mind is that it is believed that over the last decade Gujarat has achieved a 10% growth rate in Agriculture. This is how academics looks at the success of the Gujarat model of development.

Try putting these three facts together and you will see an interesting anamoly emerge with every possible permutation ...needless to say if this anomaly can be resolved then it may be a big ticket way ahead for Policy making in India in times to come.

The major landholding class in Gujarat - Gujarat achieves 10% growth rate in agriculture - they demand reservations stating they are not having good opportunities ?

The three don't add up simply..if the first two are correct - the third ought to unjustified unless the profits of agriculture were usurped by business models downstream or out of the value chain rather than the farmer.. which can be a major cause of distress.. and sustained distress.. do we have another suicide capital building up despite a 10% growth rate? This is an important topic for society -economy and academics as well as policy makers who are all three rolled into one to engage in.

if the latter two are true.. then what happened ? where did the land of the patels go ? or does it mean that the growth story of Gujarat agriculture was scripted by new generation farmers red as non-traditional progressive farmers who may not have a significant land holding but who out of sheer skill have crafted a growth story of upwards of 20% on individual farms to achieve a overall agricultural growth rate of 10% . This could be an eye opener for policy makers in agriculture and rural development. This is without doubt a great topic for society -economy and academics as well as policy makers who are all three rolled into one to engage in. This has the potential to sustain India's economic growth rate at over 7% for the next two decades.

If the former and the latter are true then what is circumspect is the figure of 10% growth rate of agriculture. In this case is the figure different and if yes then it must be so abysmally different such that people have to take to streets to demand reservations for jobs with paltry salaries or are they looking with jobs with low salaries and high perks including kickbacks at times.. In this case academia has to rise to the occasion and turn a new leaf and understanding the phenomenon. this is definitely not economics alone .. rather it goes to show that economics alone is never enough.. you have to take society into account. and academia has to point out that both are to be considered else method or no method youre irrelevant in the true scheme of things .. where the real world is .. and the matrix of academics has to choose wisely between the real world and the virtual matrix of seeming reality.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Deciding to come back to the blog and to split it up .. one personal blog and one more professional  blog.

The personal blog will therefore be more guarded and about my life in general and more about my relationship with my daughter as she grows up and our musings ..

The Professional one will increasingly be about two things - rural marketing and livelihoods - but in general about rural life.

Hope you will like to visit them and read the experiences and musings and gain from knowing about rural India which we rarely do we engage with and about a father and his daughter again a relationships which is rarely talked about and rarely understood correctly. more myths than reality seem to abound it .. as they are personal views they will have heavy bias and personal touch :)

Looking forward to resurrect , reconnect and renew life and its knowledge

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lessons for Rural Marketing from Delhi Elections 2014 and the way AAP fought it

This is a post dedicated to one of my gurus on rural marketing Sanjay Panigrahi​

What academicians and rural marketeers need to learn from Delhi Elections  2014..

1. Business as usual is always a strong alternative. Dont ignore it. 
The AAP moved closer to politics as usual - candidate selection (dodgy pasts) , maybe liquor and cash rewards (unconfirmed so far) ...fighting elections the way other parties fight it .

2. To innovate , go back to the drawing board.. 
Innovation for rural areas and the BoP segment in urban areas ( the electorate largely in delhi) needs new designs to be served..drop caste .. drop poverty don't idea talk development.. show tangible benefits - subsidies included ...security (women) modern amenities (wi-fi) , but more so an ability of the politician to get back on the dirt tracks of the real world away from the media and the ability to connect to the real masses who are not otherwise customers to markets, media and increasingly ignored by the government despite being consumers of services of all four.

3. To resegment the market 
The fault line is no more between the BoP and the RoP  (Rest of the Pyramid) but somewhere different.. there is need for a new segmentation that is not  hierarchical or linear.. security (women) , modern amenities (free wi-fi) , traditional urban amenities (water and electricity bill) , service based segmentation rather than age or caste based. especially realise that we don't have a unified culture or a single dominant culture in many parts of India .. we are still about diversity than dominance of singularity.

4. in the absence of clarity do not keep all eggs in one basket ..
resegment , redraw to innovate, use business as usual  use multiple strategies in an intensive focus to get benefits (multiple strategies within a cluster)

5. To focus intensively and learn before you expand..
Delhi had important lessons to teach before AAP can even think of expansion.. this intensive focus is essential for integration of marketing strategy.

6. to appeal to basic needs and qualities of human existence -
no not development but even more basic honesty , a corruption free framework, community feeling and collectivisation, the ability to listen rather than speak , and an earnestness that generates trust from people . ( all of these may be debatable but the lessons are there at least at the perception level) - especially important for rural marketeers.. for designing marketing communication

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Ivanshika - By the grace of God

Dear Ivanshika

This is perhaps the easiest and most difficult blog i will ever write.

Today you complete one month and i reminisce the beauty of this time with you filling the space reserved for you between your mom and me.  I want to tell you how you have made life beautiful in so many ways for us and so many in our families and near and dear ones. First thing you should always know and feel good about is that this month has been full of love and blessings for you and you will never be short of them my little angel. today i will only talk about how much you packed for me in those moments when i first saw you and held you in my arms..

The morning you arrived you changed so much in life. you changed what i was .. what your mom was and what your grandparents were before that.

The first moments were full of anxiety when i awaited your arrival and your mom was in the Operation Theater. In those few moments you re-taught me Faith as the answer to all anxiety.

In the moments that followed you taught me that Anxiety fades to give way to excitement .. and i cant tell you how excited i was to be the first one to look at my lovely little one out side the delivery room and how much i wanted to hold you in may arms and tell how much love was overflowing from me.

Excitement is difficult to conceal within and i had to share it with those who matter to me and you taught me one more reason why family is always family.

Excitement was followed by a wait .. Wait looks longer when your waiting but totally fades away once the wait is over.. and i was overwhelmed with love .. Love for my little one and her mother who had seen through so much anxiety and discomfort  to make you a living joy for us forever.

This is most important about those first few moments my dear - i was least interested in how you looked .. whether you took my looks or your moms.. i was not interested if u were fair or dark....i was practically least interested if you were a girl or a boy.. All that came to my mind was .. This is God's grace and i wished to know if you were healthy and doing well. The rest did not matter and it never will.. in that moment you taught me all that matters is if you do well and you remain healthy dear. So Always remember these will be least and most basic expectations your father will ever have from you. the rest all will be truly optional for us. To me you are a flower that i will always behold and protect and this is why i might appear conservative to you at times. But i will always be happy if you blossom and not otherwise dear.

When i first picked you up my lovely little angel.. you taught me responsibility .. your well being was my responsibility as long as i held you. I was responsible for you and i will continue to be always. In that moment as i moved with you in my arms i discovered that i needed to be careful myself to be able to care for you.

As your Nani and Masi looked at you ..and as i talked to you ba-dada the responsibility eased out and the joy returned.. cause family will support when u need it and that takes responsibility away so you can enjoy your joys and happiness with full wanton.

I was afraid to touch you and lift you cause in my mind i thought you would be so delicate that i might hurt you.. but love is what makes us soft and rough ..and love is what softened me to hold u so dear to me and the serenity in your face was the most comforting sight ever for me cause i somehow knew you sensed you were so comfortable in my hands.

All this soon was taken up into another thing you re-taught me .. your birth wasn't the end of a nine month long wait.. it was the beginning of a long journey for all of us .. you me your mom and your grandparents and the lovely family around us- all for you. To serve us well in this journey we quickly went about to collecting blessings for you while you were taken by the nurses to observe your vital signs.

Love you lots Ivanshika.. you are very special for us .. truly the Grace of God.. His Beauty!!!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Gandhi- Why i want to remember him today

There is no surprise in remembering MK Gandhi today. Its his birth anniversary today and it is only fashionable in intellectual circle to use his name either by name-dropping or using it to effect. However, today is a genuine desire to write about my thoughts about him and my following of him.

I am no Gandhian by far. I am not even a staunch believer in his ideology or ideals. It is not that i have not tried but i have tried and often failed to come close to him but have been attracted to his persona in more ways than one. It is this substance that i want to talk about here.

MK Gandhi was introduced to me , as he is to every Indian child, as the Father of the Nation, The one man who almost single-handed led the nation to independence through the early half the last century. He first struck to me as a Man who did a lot for a nation - one of the biggest nation's in the world even then. This could be done only when someone was larger than the self and had subdued his Ego. This was my first impression of Gandhiji. A little later i learnt the concept of a hero and i discovered that Gandhiji was a hero in the true sense cause he led a scattered nation. A nation scattered by geography  castes, classes, rulers of princely states, religions, faiths and beliefs, cultures, languages and occupations. Gandhiji successfully led this Scattered nation to give us one whole .. a holistic India. HE suddenly appeared inhuman to me. a HERO. He was a modern day Sankaracharya who was omnipresent in every nook and corner of the country.

Gandhiji was becoming larger then life for me when i learnt of the story of the little boy who used to eat a lot of jaggery and Gandhiji being unable to give him advice as he himself was fond of sweets.. the humility and simplicity of Gandhiji was the next feature that made me realize here was a man who retained his simplicity of the heart and yet rose to become Great and a leader in terms of thoughts, people and nations. for the first time in my life i believed that it was possible to be simple and great at the same time.

As i grew up and joined an engineering college , i was introduced to terms like Gandhian Philosophy and Gandhian Economics and for the first time became aware that here was a man who was deeply academic , well read and truly knowledgeable. What made Gandhiji stand out for me was that he was a man of wisdom whose knowledge did not start nor did it end with theory but was always put to use in practice in matters of everyday life as easily as in matters of extraordinary circumstances. Unknowingly Gandhiji had taught me that  if i cant put to use a knowledge i have it is pretty much useless to myself first before it is to anyone else.

As i completed engineering , as fate would have it no way else , i was offered a job 15 kms away from the land of Gandhiji's birth Porbandar. There my weekly outings for sanity and escape from the drudgery of Job were to Porbandar and often to the Home of Gandhiji now converted into a museum  I started buying his books and reading some of them and i was introduced to Gandhi , the author and thinker and researcher in action. I fell in love with his clarity and style. he would introduce a phenomenon and then immediately delve into its many aspects clearly listing each and then belaboring to list the various dimensions in each of the listed aspects. the meticulousness could not be escaped and i fell for it . I had learnt the difference between a thinker and a thought leader. Only later i realized i was only starting to learn that difference. I still hold his meticulousness at writing with crisp clarity and simple language and sentences as my ideal.

The visits to that home and followed by visits to many libraries where his works were stored including visits to the sabarmati and kochrab ashram in Ahmedabad left me amazed - a man with more than ten thousand volumes of meticulously written works that were crisply conceptualized and molded into simple words and sentences of at least three different languages. How on earth could a man who was a public figure like him manage to achieve so much ? Those were the days without computers and rapid technology and yet this achievement is almost unparalleled today.

These are the small nuggets and many such similar nuggets join to create a halo around this person that i see him in a different light and revere him for what he was and what he has helped so many people to be. In a way i ask myself would i write this blog so freely if it were not for him and the independence struggle ?

To sum it up. Even today when someone talks to me about "√Ąction-research" i acn actualyl think of no better example than  the Father of the Indian Nation - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and in that he taught me why he said "My life is my message."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Musings from the Year Going by

Musings from the Year going by

This year is about germination and to an academic germination must be synonymous with thoughts and a lot of thinking .. So this year has been about a lot of thoughts up in my head and they continue to dance day in and out up there.

Thoughts about reframing and focusing where i ought to ..  India and the knowledge and wisdom that has existed here for a long time and how NEW but similar wisdom must be created to tackle situations and catapult the country and more importantly society into a new but correct direction. I call this the need for indigenous wisdom. It has been bothering me for quite some time and i am trying to build a group of like-minded individuals fro a collaborative set-up on this.

There are thoughts about this one input in life and its multiple metaphors possible - WATER. This has been on the mind for some time and small beginnings were made and then have been sort of cold for some time but a lot more needs to be done and soon this kettle will be brewing up a lot.

There are thoughts about the spirit of the individual amidst situations of collective irresponsibility and apathy. this leads me to the thoughts on entrepreneurship in agriculture and the general  apathy that some sensitive individuals in my generation are worried about - the rural-urban divide and many such divides.  These thoughts have precipitated into action that has seen me launch two electives in as many years at IIMA (http://www.iimahd.ernet.in)  as a faculty . Last year i made a beginning with "Agricultural Entrepreneurship" as an elective for the students of the Agri-Business Program and followed it up this year with "Bridging the Rural Urban Divide" (BRUD) for the PGP or MBA students in General Management.

Yes there will be questions and thoughts on how broad and deep is my definition and coverage of Agri-Entrepreneurship and that will be an area of concern for me always. That is essentially a quest that is best defined by the curiosity. i worked for about two years to figure out that there was very little relevant material that existed in this sphere especially if i were focusing on India and would usually confuse itself with a) BoP markets and b) Agri-business and worst of all be devoured by c) Social Entrepreneurship.  The latter being my fear because almost half of social entrepreneurship is in the Agriculture domain and often does well for society but not enough for Agriculture cause it is seen more as Social than as Agricultural Entrepreneurship. This does not really help the domain of agricultural or the people involved in it and as such became the cause to salvage Agricultural Entrepreneurship from Social Entrepreneurship and merge it only where it made sense.

I also anticipate more questions about BRUD starting with if it is about BoP markets.

In this blog piece i think i can take on only this one question. BRUD is not really about markets at the surface or by the looks of it. However it is every bit about a large chunk of BoP markets as it takes a Sociological Orientation mixed with Management Objectivity and Economic Rationality and tries to learn more from Tacit Knowledge than hard coded Explicit Knowledge. It is also about psychology and Individual Dynamics as it is about Organization Behavior and Institution Building and therefore contributes to Consumer Behavior and Segmentation for various BoP markets.despite this It also takes a holistic perspective and doesn't look at Rural areas as only markets or suppliers but looks at them as both supply sources as well as possible markets. The same is true for Urban areas. But this is what the homo-economicus in us wants us to understand. This is also about different world views and multiple divides that separate the rural and the urban areas of the world and India in specific. It is also about various aspects of each of these divides but integrates them into interconnected Divides. This is the challenge that we look at in the first half of the course.

The second half talks about some broad solutions at present. More broad than deep at present as the deeper solutions are more complex to understand and also so specific at times that they don't really make an impact at the holistic level. The second half of the course picks up 7-8 such approaches and these are discussed to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each .

The course ends with the project presentation that runs parallel to the teaching.

I guess this is good germination as of now but the nurturing is yet to take root.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Welcoming the Year of the Growth

This comes in very late for a year that might be so important.. but better late than never.. this continues my tradition of naming every year and working it around a theme and that helps me organize my life. A quick recap on this :-

2006 - The year of the 'Transformation'
2007- The year of the 'Rising'
2008 - The year of the 'Making'
2009 - The year of the 'Realization'
2010 - The year of the 'Blossoming'
2011 - The year of the 'Consolidation'

and now it is only likely that after consolidating .. new life and new beginnings ought to be made in this year.. and yet there has to be a precursor to growth. This year can be nothing but the year of the 'GERMINATION'.

'Germination' arises from preparation and also sowing of seeds and irrigating them . The Vedas says that new life is created only when fire and water come together . Thus this act of germination is going to be interesting for the times to come. What we sow is what we reap and out of what we sow .. we germinate few ...and even fewer see the light of day and grow into something tangible and productive later on with time.

Germination is therefore the cusp for the past and the future and is firmly the present and this is how i can expect this to be. However, Germination can be a lot more and can be described in many other ways as well and only time will tell how this turns out to be in actual apart from expectations. It is this very uncertainty about germination and life that fascinates me as a cause for evolution and therefore survival. I am also eager to learn what changes in this process necessary for survival and being poised for growth.

I look forward to new beginnings which might be small but are connected to the strong branches of the past and grow to become the strong branches of the future.

To sum it up, Germination can be representative of precursor to growth, life , evolution, survival and success, and a cusp between the past and the present. Germination also represents a lot of fulfillment of hope and faith and leads to expectations. Only Time will tell how this goes for me and all those with me..