For 50 days Modi Jee give us these 5 things

Okay,  Indians will give you 50 days to make things normal. Lets hope you will be able to get ATMs to start dispensing cash. Lets hope you can make sure that everyone who doesn’t have a bank account is also able to change his or her currency and get started. But all of this will be well begun half done if you don’t do the following things. Worst,some of us will also start questioning the point of this exercise.

  1. Keep a limit on cash withdrawals from banks for ever. You can only withdraw so much cash in a calendar year. If it needs a new ordinance so be it. If there are no limits on cash withdrawals from banks then we will be back to square one. If you can’t legally limit then make the process difficult.
  2. Build a national invoicing system- one single software that everyone needs to use to print invoices.  For instance Delhi government has a single system that connects all their liquor shops. No more back entries in the books. Those who are not online please connect them using digital India mission.
  3. Introduce a cash transaction tax. Any cash transaction that is done will require a 10% tax. I’m sure you have smart people who can figure out how to do this.
  4. Make political parties including BJP disclose the source of donations- both cash and cheque.  Accountability has to start from your yard and rest of us will follow
  5. Digitise all land and building records. Make sure property cannot be purchased or sold without confirming the title on the digital records and not below the circle rates.  PAN already is compulsory. No PAN, No Property .

Start with suggestions 4 and 5. We are ready to face the brunt of demonetisation. We want to see if you are ready too: 🙂

I hope these things are already planned because I believe that you and your team is quite smart and have the right intent.

The Skoda Yeti affair

No one wants to get it wrong. No one one to admit that they made a mistake. No one wants to get cheated.

I was wrong, I made a mistake and I got cheated . Hey I’m getting old man and losing the touch.

Part one of the story started with an advert of Skoda Yeti in Dehradoon. I went to check the car. Interestingly Dehradun Audi showroom was selling this car. They got it from one of their customer in exchange offer. The customer was one Mr Jamyang Kalsang who owns a famous Chinese  restaurant  in Dehradoon and Mussorie called ” Kalsang Friends corner”. He was buying a Audi Q5 ( avg cost upward 50 lacs). He got a nice exchange offer for his Yeti.

The car looked okay. There was some rattling in suspension which Audi guy told me was nothing but some minor bush work. I called Mr Kalsang personally to find out and he told me that the car is fine. It only needs a service and it has done 60,000 kms. I was at ease after hearing from Mr Kalsang himself

All good. I can handle minor bush work. Deal done. Money paid. Yeti is now mine.

Part two of the story started with going to the Skoda Service station in Delhi after I purchased the car. A quick look into the computer told me that the car had done 64000 kms in May 2014. So by now it must have done over 1 lac kms. Mr Kalsang who can afford to buy a Q5 has actually managed to turn the meter backwards.

Well done Mr Kalsang!

The “bush” work meant you have change the whole suspension. You can’t just repair the bushes. And this means about Rs 80,000

Well done Audi Dehradoon !

And to add cherry on the cake. At 1 lac kms you need to replace timing belt too. The water pump was bust too so that needed replacement as well. Total bill north of Rs 1 lac.

They say you get what you pay for. But I paid honest rupee for Yeti. I also trusted both the parties in the transaction. I’m now left wondering why someone like Mr Kalsang who is super rich and drives a Q5 will actually do such a cheap thing like tempering the meter. May be he got an extra Rs 50,000 from me. Really for 50,000 rupees.

And why would brand like Audi won’t check car before they sell it to a customer even though it is not Audi. My faith in Audi dealership is zero at the moment. Next they can sell a brand new lemon to you as well. Even if they had no mollified intention their ability to value car is a big ZERO. I wonder how will they fix cars in the workshop.

Normally I trust people with small things like these. You want to cheat, cheat big. Have some standard man.

Both Kalsang Chinese restaurant and Audi Dehradoon are off limits now.

Learned my lesson. I’m never going to trust big people again.They are the ones who will take you for a ride ( a bumpy one)

 

 

A case of misleading credit card statement- American Express

American express guys are clever buggers. Imagine reading your credit card statement with things like opening balance, new credits, new debits and closing balance. I guess they assume everyone who has good fortune of having a Amex card will know basic accounting terms. Or may be not. There is something that we are missing.

Amex never tells directly how much TOTAL amount is due on your credit card. Its always hidden there in debits and credits. Not satisfied by that they even go and tell you that ” We would appreciate receiving your payment of XXXX( this is minimum amount due) by so and so date. Then to make it look legit they add that we should make the payment prior to due date to avoid levy of penal charges. To a ordinary eye it will seem like if I pay minimum amount due then it should be okay. No. Not okay. On the balance they are going to charge 3.65% interest per month. And that is a lot of money my friend.

This is nothing but robbery in broad day light. First of all confuse the customer by debits and credits. Then advise them only to pay minimum and then charge nterest on balance amount. Don’t believe me. Look at the American Express card statement

IMG_20150805_105816

Compared to American Express, ICICI Bank guys are much nicer.  Their statement is clear, it tells you to pay the total amount due to avoid interest charges and a layman can understand it as well.

IMG_20150805_105738

Time to complain to someone and get it sorted.

Maggi is gone and there are some lessons for big corporates

Nestle has removed Maggi from store shelves. Good step but came a bit too late. For once I’m ready to give benefit of doubt to Nestle that may be Maggi is unhealthy but it is safe. But the way the controversy has snowballed reaffirms that no one trusts big corporations. They are satan inc.

No one trusts governments either. GOI bans Greenpeace on some un-substiantiated biased information and most people believe that Government is at fault. GOI must have something fishy to hide. GOI bans Maggi without conclusive evidence  and everyone thinks Nestle is at fault.

That is why big corporations need to rethink the image that they project to the general public.For instance Nestle’s chairman proudly said  that humans don’t have right over water.  Apparently Nestle has right over all the water in the world so that they can package it and sell it to Humans. And then some years back Nestle milk for infants had Melamine in it. Melamine can cause kidney damage in young kids. So how are we supposed to trust Nestle. I also feel uncomfortable with the fact that how companies like Nestle dominates a large chunk of our life and food.

Over the last 10 years Nestle has effectively changed the staple diet of young kids. Now every kid wants to eat Maggi. And on top of it is marketed with some top brand ambassadors shouting some very in -conclusive slogan- “Taste Bhi, Health Bhi”. That is simply mis leading advertisement. A generation of kids who are severely under nourished thanks to Nestle. So people are not completely off the mark when they think Nestle is the devil and are rejoicing.

The fact however is that we can’t teach morality to businesses. But markets can. 15 years back Dhara was effectively killed because of Dropsy scandal. Cadbury had a tough time too when their chocolates came packed with some worms.

In the near term people will not eat Maggi and that is going to dent Nestle’s profit. In the stock markets Nestle stock is already taken a beating and is down some 15% in the past one week. I will not be surprised if it comes to some 4000 levels. We can’t even begin to calculate the damage done to Maggi brand.

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So here is my suggestion to Nestle. When it all dies down please do not come back with even catchy adverts on how Maggi is best and healthy. Pause. Think why people hate you so much. And fix that. Till then enjoy all the 2 minute Maggi that is lying in your offices 🙂 Or you can hire Ramgopal Verma to do Maggi advert  titled ” Maggi ke Sholay” where Gabbar (  must be played by Amitabh Bacchan ) will say t ” Sardar Humne aapka namak khaya hai, to ab tu Maggi Khaa”

Forget Modi, tell me what are you proud of as a Indian

Honestly, I can think of many many reasons that makes me hang my head in shame of India and being a Indian. Very few to make me proud especially when I leave our 4000 year old history behind.

Now don’t get me wrong. Mr Modi’s arrival has not made me become a proud Indians either. Frankly there is very little in India to be proud of especially now.

We still exist as a democracy but its practically all broken, corrupt, patriarchal and feudal and we still have to deal with the Gandhi empire. Its so bad that so many of us  secretly wish for a benevolent dictator.

Look around. Roads are broken. Power doesn’t come. Health system is broken. And on top of it there is Government’s boot on our ass all the time.  So many years after independence and we still have 400 million Indians living in abject poverty. We must have learned the art  of keeping people poor and hungry.

So for a moment forget chest beating patriotism, Modi and “everything that is good is Indian” .  Do let me know what I should be proud of as a Indian.

 

 

14000 Cr of CSR money

csrIn a event organised by Schwab Foundation FM Arun Jaitley mentioned that corporate sector are going to pump in as much as 14000 CR in CSR in India. He defines corporate involvement as a turning point in the social sector in India as the corporates are obsessed about doing good and are committed to the cause. He came up with the figure based on 2% of profit rule that has come up in the new companies act.

I feel getting CSR money into the social sector is a good thing. But just allocation will not help.  My guess is that bulk of the money will end up either not spend at all or find its way to the usual suspects.

The first on my list are Government programs. For instance the current NDA  Government has opened ” Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” and ” Clean Ganga fund” as legitimate CSR spends by the companies. I will not be surprised if large amounts of funds find their way into these two Government campaigns. Tax by another name ?

Another place where CSR money will find its place is  Corporate foundations.  These foundations will then end up spending money to open chain of schools or hospitals. These are things that the Government should be doing and not expecting companies to foot the bill.

I feel these massive amounts of money should be spend in building capacity and capabilities of India and Indians. It should work to solve some really big problems. For instance a consortium of companies can work together to solve public health issues in the country. Other can work to see how people can have timely justice through Indian courts.  Most of the graduates coming out of our education systems are un employable. May be CSR money to can do something there. Another area that can be of interest is in promoting entrepreneurship both business and social. I feel there are many options to solve some really big hairy and scary problems with CSR money.

In the end only time will tell how effective was 2% CSR spend. At the moment I meet too many NGOs who are facing massive challenges in raising money as most of the grant making organisations have shrinking budgets and everyone points them towards  CSR for funding needs. And when it comes to CSR NGOs have no clue how to go about raising money. Will they ever be successful is a different story. But one thing is for sure. In this CSR gold rush a lot of self acclaimed CSR experts will make a killing. Is their a way around this , I don’t know.

 

 

 

Who is a social Entrepreneur ( and who is not)

Is Airtel a social enterprise because it provides affordable telephony to masses and thereby improving their lives and livelihoods?

Is Hindustan lever who makes good quality affordable soaps and sells them in rural areas in India a social enterprise because every time someone washes their hands with them they are promoting cleanliness .?

Is no tobacco chewing gum manufacturer a social entrepreneur because he is helping people fight tobacco addiction and hence better health?

I’m sure you can come out with countless examples of where companies and individuals are doing is producing social good. But we don’t necessarily see these companies as social enterprises or the individuals are social entrepreneurs.  And if a group of entrepreneurs are social entrepreneurs does that make others “Anti Social entrepreneurs”. Or just entrepreneurs.

Currently I’m in the process of setting up UnLtd Delhi, a launch pad for social entrepreneurs. UnLtd Delhi supports early stage social entrepreneurs with seed funding, coaching, mentoring and leadership training support to name a few. Soon we will be inviting applications from potential investees. On our application form and website we would like to be able to clearly demonstrate to a potential applicant whether they are social entrepreneurs or not. We need a clear definition with some great examples.

I did a review of what is available on the internet from leading organisations such as Ashoka, Schwab, Skoll etc. There is no single definition or easy way to explain who is a social entrepreneur and who is not.

Stanford Social Innovation review makes a compelling case for having a definition for social enterprises and entrepreneurs. 

http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/social_entrepreneurship_the_case_for_definition.

This is how Ashoka, one the leading organisations that supports social entrepreneurs defines who is a social entrepreneur.

Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.

you can read more here.

Two tuck business school students define social enterprises more clearly. They did a study of social enterprises across the world and came to this conclusion that even though social enterprises are run like a business and they should be but what differentiate them from other enterprises is that ” they are social mission central” and and for them success is not only about generating free cash flows but creating social value. You can read more about their study here .

Schwab foundation that supports social entrepreneurs focusses more on innovation, scale, social value and sustainability and not on the type of organisation that they have set up. They define social entrepreneurs as someone who exhibits combined characteristics of Richard Branson and Mother Teresa. So how do I know if I have any of these traits or someone might ask.. who is Richard Branson ?

This brings us back to the original question. How to clearly demonstrate to a potential applicant who comes to UnLtd Delhi’s website whether they are a social entrepreneur or not. Not to academics, not to people who work in the social enterprise space but to those potentials applicants who are not sure of if UnLtd Delhi is the right place for them. 

As far as UnLtd Delhi is concerned we are looking for individuals who want to solve a social problem and that is at the heart of what they do. Today they might do X to reach their objective but if that doesn’t work out then they will change their method and still aim to solve the social problem which got them started in the first place.

 

Flipkart and the lure of Billion dollars

I’m quite impressed by the growth of Flipkart in the last 8 years or so. The Bansal duos have executed their business model to perfection. After working on series of startups and startup ideas I can safely say that ideas are dime a dozen but execution is what really matters in the end.

I had a interesting discussion with my friend Vivek Joshi on what sets Flipkart apart from other players like indiatimes and rediff who were much older had more money or deep pockets.  After all e-tailing was not new in India. What made a huge difference in the case of Flipkart was that they introduced innovation that other players for some reason were hesitant to implement.

The first innovation was game changer. You buy books because you want to read them immediately. That is why we go to book stores, flip through books and buy and take them home to read. Flipkart got this bit of customer behaviour right. Flipkart insured that you will get books cheaper and faster, sometimes as fast as the next day. I remembered the first time I ordered a book on Flipkart it was delivered to me in less than 24 hours. I was hooked from there on and I told others to buy from them.

The second innovation was to include all the inventory of the books including international titles. There was no difference in inventory between Amazon and Flipkart. What you could buy from Amazon, you can get it from Flipkart too. So for much less price ( compared to Amazon) you can order a book paying indian rupees and get it delivered to your home.

These two innovations in our opinion made much difference to the image of Flipkart. More and more people bought books from them and the rest is history.

However customers change but customer behaviour take lots of time to change. What made Flipkart hugely successful can also be its achilles heel. And now especially they are cash rich and huge and have different pressures point.

For instance now they have started charging for delivery. Indian customers are very price sensitive. They would not mind searching on other sites like infibeam or homeshop18 and buy from the place where the total cost of buying is less. This is something Flipkart will have to watch.

Flipkart has raised 1billion dollars more. Amazon is putting 2 billion dollars into its india operations. But for what its worth round one has clearly gone to Flipkart.

I don’t know who will win the war between Amazon and Flipkart. May be both will win or may be there will be a third e-retailer to upset the cart. But what is  amazing is that a bunch of youngsters with fire in their belly have created such a successful enterprise and are dreaming to create India’s first 100 billion dollar e-retailer. Well done guys, now bring to some more heat in the Indian e-commerce space.

The 8cr heist and the problem of cash

There is a problem with cash.

In a very Hollywood style robbery touted to be the biggest in India some robbers stole 8 crs in cash from a car.  It seems now that their is a bookie and hawala angle to it. Once the police will start questioning about where the money came from many skeletons will come out of the cupboard. The people who were looted claims that the money came from property deal. So who keeps that kind of money in cash ?

The problem with cash are plenty. To start with cash in the Indian economy is probably the source of all the corruption that we see in our society. Consider this. There are only  3.5 crore assesses, a mere 2.9 per cent of national population,  and only 42,800 show annual income over Rs one crore. Audi, BMW and Mercedes together sell more than 30,000 cars in their premium category. So you get the picture right.

cashWhen it comes to Bribes, cash is king. You can’t really bribe the traffic guy with credit card, can you?. Bribes at the lower level are paid in cash .

The local Bania never pays a dime in tax because he deals mostly in cash.

The property market drives out genuine buyers because there is too much of cash of cash in the system.

A lot of cash is transacted when people buy gold and diamonds and we know where this money comes from.

If removing corruption is on our agenda then removing cash from the Indian economy should be our priority number one. It can be done, very easily and very fast provided we have the political will for it.  Some of the things that can be done are like making PAN mandatory for all jewellery and property sales and having a cash transaction tax at source. And no exceptions.

The government can also ban 500 and 1000 Rupees note to root out all the black money from the system. Don’t worry the poor will not suffer as they don’t have 500 and 100o rupees stashed in pillows. While you can never root out cash from the system you can certainly make it hard for anyone to transact in cash.

Most developed countries transact very little in cash. Most of the transactions happen through the banks. In India it is said that the cash economy is twice the size of the real economy. Imagine if even half of that were to come to the mainstream we can have unprecedented growth.

My worry is that cash is  central to corruption but no one in the political circle including Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi are making any noise about it. While legislation can definitely help in reducing corruption, the real culprit is cash. I suspect that  politicians are the ones who will be hit the hardest if cash were to disappear.  So they are very hush hush about it.

Cash is king but like kings let it be only at a few places. Can someone make it extinct please.

 

The Ugly Truth: Real Estate leads to corruption

PAN number and realistic circle rates can burst part of the corruption bubble. Can AAP do this in Delhi ?

Delhi Watcher

This is so simple that everyone knows this. You want to control corruption in the country, keep a tight watch on real estate transactions.

Let’s say you have large un-accounted income most probably from a illegal source. Now you obviously cannot keep it in the bank. You may for some time keep it under mattresses or pillows or in bank lockers or in the garden but sooner or later this money has to find a new destination. The new destination is Real Estate market. This is where ill gotten wealth is parked right in front of everyone’s eyes.

Forget about the complicated Benami transactions that happen in the country even a supposedly simple deal of buying a house has enough scope to set the system in place.

I don’t why but for some reason the circle rates in most areas are at-least  2 times lower then the actual market rates. So this…

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