Monthly Archives: April 2015

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Dilli ka laddu : Ironies of desires materialized

Category : Uncategorized

Dilli ka laddu – literally a sweet from Delhi and a kind of mythical one.  It is that laddu which is told to be as such that the person who has not tasted regrets and so does the person who has tasted. Many people consider marriage as dilli ka laddu !

But this can be extended below :

1.  A film star spends some 10-15 years to make sure that everyone recognizes his /her face (by viewing the films acted in) and once he/she becomes really the star he/she wanted, she / he needs private entrances and exits, makes sure that he/she is not recognized and complains of privacy violation

2. A small business owner at the start of the business explores all options without discrimination. Every new client is an achievement. No opportunity is to be left behind. Then once these all are achieved, the business owner complains of ‘transnational friction’ and ‘too much demanding customer.’

3. A young man falls in love with a woman and then the cycle starts : wooing, courting, marriage and consummation.  After all this, as per a Calcutta philosopher : A man needs a woman only to understand that he does not need woman.

4. A young doctor starts his career and waits for patients in his mint-condition chamber. A patient seems like bright sunshine in a cold morning : a ray of hope. He works diligently and becomes successful. Very successful that it takes 2 months to receive his appointment. Money, status, fame, authority all come in due course and measure. Then, he complains of not getting proper secretary who will enforce his daily quota of patients and envies a time rich cash poor man like me !

5. A young working couple living in a metropolis, in a small flat dreams of a large home with front yard and back yard. Working hard for at least 20 years, they achieve the dream and the house becomes their own. Now they are past 50 and their children have gone to other geographies to pursue their destiny. The big house now needs maintenance and afflictions like arthritis, osteoporosis, local stick-up artists – all make the couple rethink : This large house has become cause of a headache !

6. A father who was a self-made man and made a fortune from zero mellows in his old age. He vows that his children should not be in the group of ‘have nots’. He looks at his teenage son and showers more than what is needed because when he was of such age, he struggled so hard to get bare necessities. His son gets accustomed to these privileges and considers these not as a grace but an entitlement. He gets satisfaction that his son did not need to struggle as he did. He did achieve something.  The teenage boy becomes a spoiled and entitled kid and complains that he is not given more power. He forgets that he is not qualified to handle the power. With the noble intention of making life comfortable for the son, the father, with all the good intention actually denies him the greatest gift  of being alive : to become self-reliant and to become a self-made man.

All our desires have this aspect : a man needs something until he gets it !


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Satyam Computers – revisited

Category : Uncategorized

Today, I read in my newspaper that Mr. Ramlinga Raju, Satyam Computers Founder Chairman had been sentenced to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of INR 5.5 crore.

While working on a book on Business Ethics, I had the opportunity of studying the case. What struck me and generally goes unreported is that Satyam used to get deals at 2-3% of margin. This meant that with such a thin margin, Satyam in its peak was able to outbid competitors but it was having much less real cash at hand compared to its size.

The low-margin is an addiction. It gets into your nerves as you find your more ‘elite’ competitors defeated and there comes a temporary adrenalin rush. The reverse effect happens in spectrum auctions where the winner very soon finds itself in existential crisis. Call it by whatever name : overstretch, lack of prudence, flaw in judgment, this is an addiction. This is generally not seen as an addiction because it comes dressed up in a very holy garb : cost effective.

The psychology of a business operating at a very thin margin for growth remains very tense because of lack of buffers. Nature and any system will go into an unstable equilibrium unless there are buffers. A family which has brought the dream home by overstretching itself that it may find little left for relaxed living that the house, family or both may implode.

A business will be psychologically tense because the weapon of cost effectiveness is very potent but the venom while overused will weaken the corporate body itself. There are certain insects which die once they sting once. The sting does its job but demands a heavy price for the entity that exercised the lethal option.

A business might start its first foray into unethical and grey areas when it neither knows how to increase margin or addicted to growth while using price as the only differential.

Satyam’s Chairman Mr. Raju, in spite of all the later events was a historical man in India’s IT campaign. He was a first generation enterprise builder and he was partially responsible for bringing Hyderabad into global IT map, if not in the global map itself.

However, low margin proved to be one of the significant factors in designing the fatal course the organization took.