Tuesday, December 7, 2010


John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

My favorite song! :)
-> SJ

Friday, November 12, 2010

More food for thought ... Inflection point in history

As an update/add-on to the last post and some more thoughts on Obama's recent visit to India and the G-20 summit, I feel the main points to think on at this time are:

- At this stage where the market has changed and powers have changed do we still need to help USA get back to power?? 
- or can we diversify our markets by helping new markets to develop?? 
- Is it really in everyone's interest to help US economy grow or can we now sit back and measure the global portfolio so as to develop new markets and bring about more equality?

After the crisis the human civilization and history has come to an inflection point. The Superpowers who dominated the 20th century are no longer the superpowers. Those countries who were known as the Third World Countries led by the BRICs nations have now joined the world stage and have emerged as fellow leaders and powers. The whole concept of super powers has been eradicated because the number of global powers have now increased and the power is now spreading from a few hands to many.

So at this juncture what the countries have to decide is if we revert back to old times when US led its materialistic, demanding and bullying streak or we diversify our global portfolios to help new markets develop such that in the future we don't have a global recession just because one country fell onto hard times.

For the post linked to this please visit: http://goo.gl/viGg5

-> SJ

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Of Currency Wars and Free Trade Areas... An outlook into the Future

Many years ago, when I was still in school, I read an article in The Telegraph about a South Asian currency which would be used in the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) which consisted of countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh etc.

The article went onto to say that the world would be divided into trade unions with single currencies like SAFTA, there would be North American Free Trade Area, South American Free Trade Area, European Union, African Free Trade Area, Asian Free Trade Area etc.. Since the appearance of such an article we have already seen the birth of the European Union with a single currency, but none of the other FTAs have come about.

I have mulled on this topic for years and what little economics I know and what little common sense I have all say the same thing. Eventually, many years down the line, the global economy will have to move into a single currency and a global free trade zone to level the playing field for all countries and corporations will be global in nature. Thomas Friedman in his book "The World is Flat" wrote about how playing golf in Bangalore gave him the feeling that the world is no longer round. As the emerging economies emerge into developed economies and as more super powers emerge to meet the established super powers the playing field is more levelled and the world becomes flatter. Not smaller but flatter. This we have already seen happening after the recent crisis. The tables have turned as USA comes begging to India and Asia-Pac for jobs and work. Where it was once the outsourcer and job creator, it remains the outsourcer but our orders and business is what the job creator is now. The playing field just became flatter.

With the US increasing money supply by $600 Bn, the US$ will depreciate as a result of greater supply leading to an appreciation in other currencies. This is why exporting countries are shouting foul. A depreciated US$ would encourage US exports and discourage other countries exports. Where USA was the business giver it is now the business taker competing with all other countries. The playing field just got flatter.

Obama is making the rounds of Asia-Pac buttering up countries and bagging orders, saying that it is in everyone's interest to help USA succeed and get back on its feet. But is it??

Do I want to see an overpowering, arm-twisting bully get back to power? Do I want to see a President who came to beg and still threatened and bullied a countries' government? Do I want to see it support unjust causes and start wars so as to control oil?? Do I want to see it support Pakistan to maintain Britain's old rule of 'Divide & Conquer' such that a united India-Pak is not able to overtake other countries to lead the world?

Why do you think Obama wants China to appreciate it currency? Such that Chinese exports decrease and USA is able to export more, but the Chinese are no fools as they pegged the Yuan to the US$.

Right now all governments across the world are thinking in one way, a single international currency. US$ being the international currency needs to be strong. But does it still have to be the currency of choice?? We have emerged from a bitter recession into a new playing field with new rules and new ideologies. Why not change the currency order?

Allowing US$ to become the currency of choice at Breton Woods was probably the biggest mistake in the first place. It propelled USA to the top and valued the currencies of each country against something whose intrinsic value itself kept changing (How foolish can our economists get!!).

Mint periodical in India reported that the world is now going to move to a new currency order and the next step is to have multiple international currencies. Partly that is true. We will definitely have to move into a new currency order but numerous international currencies?? That is the wrong move. It will just increase competition and make matters worse. Either we have a stable element like Gold as the base for currencies (which is not going to happen because of its rigidities), or we find a way to have less number of currencies in the international market. Valuing currencies against SDR (Special Drawing Rights of the IMF) is also foolish because of political reasons. Whichever country is the strongest will obviously control the IMF.

Analysts doubt if the Euro will exist in the next decade. I say that there will be more currencies like the Euro forming in the next decade or two. Members of the European Union are obviously enjoying many advantages of a free trade area and a single currency. It makes lives easier (of course there are disadvantages too). But the EU is still young. We haven't ironed out the irks of such a system. After the recent Greek and Spain crises the rules of the EU will undergo a change and it will become more stable. After all it is imperfection that ultimately teaches one how to become perfect. In the next 2 decades, I think that the EU will go onto become a single political union. Looking through history we see it as a trend: from being divided and independent, the world is becoming united and inter-dependent and the scale of the recent crisis proves it so.

The Forex market will continue to be volatile and there will continue to be currency wars as the players adjust to each other: forming new agreements, MoUs, cartels and better understand the new rules of the game.

The last group summit committed to reduce currency wars and bring forth more stable currencies, but none of the countries who promised that have done much to show their solidarity to such a commitment. Each country is like an individual, it has to see itself survive, and grab the best for itself, as each country struggles to get back to its pre-recession place, it has to bring forth an extremely competitive front. No country is going to accept less just so other countries can do better, who knows by helping the other country gain now, the other country might snag its (helper country) place later.

As the currency wars get bitter, either our enlightened world leaders will get miffed and we'll enter a new world war as Nostradamus predicted, or a single leader will emerge to take USA's place (unlikely), or the number of currencies will reduce as new FTAs emerge.

I bank on the last.

For the post linked to this please visit: http://goo.gl/iq7Uj

-> SJ

Currency Wars -> Where each currency tries to be as less valued as compared to other currencies. As each currency tries to be less valued compared to each other we see extreme volatility and unpredictability in the Forex market.

Free Trade Areas -> Groups of countries who have entered into an agreement to trade free of cost (no customs or other duties) between each other. Example: European Union

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Evolution of the E-Retail Store

With the dotcom boom e-retail took the whole world by storm. Amazon.com the only pure e-retailer is doing fantastic business and has changed the retail scenario for good. With the change in the business model for retail, all the brick and mortar stores now have a new dimension to think about: e-retail - how to incorporate cyber shops in their strategies?

Many companies have a presence in both, physical brick & mortar stores as well as online e-retail stores. But there are many companies who can not afford setting up an
online store model. There are many small / regional / national retailers who have to think about going online but either can not afford setting up an online presence on their own or do not have enough knowledge or specialization to set one up. What can these conmpanies do?

The next evolution of e-retailing is outsourcing the job to someone else. A tech company which will setup and run the website is what many companies have thought of till now. But a step further is whats required to be taken.

Facebook and other social networking sites in the past few years changed the advertising scene. A whole new category of 'social media advertising' was introduced, it's one which is still being learnt and understood by the management gurus. Now before its scope and depth could be understood and exploited a new innovation by Amazon and Pampers (by P&G) is promising to take e-retailing to the next level. One which has enormous scope. Amazon and P&G recently launched a Facebook app designed to be a shop on Facebook.

Most of the brands already have fan pages on Facebook, with enormous fan falling generating even greater consumer loyalty. A shop on Facebook allows the company to tap this market better and with greater ease. Now instead of advertising on social media sites, a shop on the social networking site will let you cater to the whole market present on that site. And at very low cost. As more and more people discover the fan page they automatically discover the online shop.

By with tying up with Amazon, P&G reduces its cost of managing the social website store as Amazon will look after it and maybe even develop it. The firm now has to concentrate more on marketing and manufacturing while Amazon handles its online presence and the outbound logistics to the consumers.

Its a match made in heaven. Each company retains and focuses on its core competence, helps each other out and both earn revenue without incurring costs on things it does not have any expertise with.

Amazon has now branched out from only a store to e-retailing services while the selling business (specifically e-retail) has advanced 1 level to the next step.

How good is it you ask??
Its still too early to say whether it will be a success or not, but the simplicity and logical nature of such a store begs to say that this is the next evolution. After all everyone is already logged onto Facebook all day (from their offices, homes and phones). So now they will not have to go to a different website to order they can just goto the Facebook fan page and use the app to order the products.

The general advantages of online store over e-retail are already present. On top of that the customer now doesn't have to browse to other sites. Amazon (or other future e-retail service provider) members can earn points right from Facebook as the shop is integrated and operated by it therefore no new loyalty programs will have to be initiated.

How will this effect social networking media advertising?
The new field of social networking media advertising (which is still in its initial years) has already undergone a new a change. Since the shop on Facebook is a Facebook app, any purchase made there can be exploited to be shown on the wall of the facebooker thereby every purchase becoming an advertisement. All the friends will get the update.

Facebook can also charge a fee for every such advert post increasing its revenue.

Game Apps can also integrate some sort of shops in their apps, where game wins will provide points which can be used to shop with or purchasing can provide points which can be used to play games with et al.

As you can see the application of such a e-retail concept is quite huge, and its a very appealing concept. One that has the potential to generate income for the app devloper / e-retail service provider, the selling firm as well as facebook itself.

The only thing remaining to be seen is how well will the consumers and Facebook users take to such a concept which will ultimately decide on how successful it is after all, as they say:

"Customer is the king"

-> SJ

Monday, August 16, 2010


A truly inspiring poem, it inspired the great Nelson Mandela in times he was feeling down, even today it inspires those who may or may not be looking for inspiration.

It gave name to the great movie based on Mandela's effort to transform South Africa.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
- William Ernest Henley (1849 - 1903)

-> SJ

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mysterious Mr. iPad

When Apple launched the iPod it changed the music industry. Samething happened when it launched the iPhone. The dwindling and struggling smartphone industry was revolutionized. In an age when there was hardly any talk or recognition for smartphones, Apple brought the industry to light and now everyone right down to the ignorant layman is talking about the iPhone.

The BIG question is if Apple can do the same thing all over again. Many companies including Apple have tried to introduce the tablet PC and have failed miserably. So can Apple be successful 2nd time round? Its hard to say, a lot depends on how people receive the iPad.

The problem with tablets and why so many companies have failed in their attempts is because it lies in the convergence area of multiple technologies. It’s mobile, it’s a laptop, it’s an ebook reader, it’s a video cum music player, it’s a netbook et al.

Now that we know a little about history let’s get to know the iPad. It looks like an oversized iPhone except that it has a 9.7 inch high-resolution (1024x768) touchscreen. It supports multi-touch and has an accelerator to adjust the image as you tilt it. It is about 0.5 inch thick and tips the scales at 700 gms, making it very portable. Like the iPhone there is just one home button on the front, with buttons on the side for volume and resetting the device.

Purring beneath its sleek hood is Apple's new A4 1 GHz processor, which Apple claims, packs a punch while consuming little power. Connectivity options include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in all iPads and GPS and 3G in some models. The device claims to offer a staggering 10 hours on battery back-up while on Wi-Fi, putting it well ahead of most netbooks, notebooks (including the iMac) and phones. It'll be available in 3 memory capacities - 16GB, 32GB & 64GB.

So Can we use this as a normal computer/laptop? No, Of course not. The iPad is not exactly a laptop in tablet form. Though, we can use this for all our normal activities like browsing, email, watching movies, listening to music, playing games etc. we cannot install off the mill softwares on the iPad. Apple will have apps available for the iPad like it does for the iPhone. There is also no option to expand the memory. No USB or Firewire slots, no SD slot, no HDMI ports, no LAN ports and no disc drives.

Apple has made a very decent attempt in introducing a tablet PC but it’s got gaping holes. Their thinking and imagination has been restricted by the iPhone and they’ve taken the mobile concept and enlarged it with a few changes. There is no multi-tasking. That means you can do one job or run one program at a time. The whole concept of minimising and running in the background is unavailable. Apple has made the iPad dependant on another computer. You need a computer to sync and configure your iPad like you do with your iPod and iPhone. I can't imagine taking the iPad to class. It'll be so difficult to type on it and to use MS Word and Excel at the sametime (and the fact that i cant install them on it).

The main advantage for the iPad is that it’s an Apple product. If HP or Dell had introduced this it would certainly have failed. If you ask me to rate it on 5 stars, I’ll give it 2.5-3 stars.

Apple could have done a brilliant job but instead they come out with a half baked product which is more based on the mobile concept than the computer concept. They just took a step backward. On the other hand their main competitor, NotionInk’s Adam is the perfect tablet PC which is a PC which is mobile, instead of a mobile which is a PC (iPad).

p.s. coming soon... Adam without Eve

-> SJ

Monday, February 15, 2010

Its Valentine's Day!

Its a day celebrated globally. Its a day put aside for love. A day when lovers or would-be lovers propose/re-affirm their love for eachother. Single people feel sad that they do not have anyone to share this day with. No one special to go out to dinner with or to buy gifts for or who would buy gifts for them or shower their attention and love on them.

"Being single isn't bad, what is bad is giving up hope that you will that someone special"

This was a status message put up on Google Talk by a friend. When i read this message, I initially felt very sad that people perceived that their life depended on another person. At one point of time this was true for me too. I too believed (i realise now was a perception based on crappy hindi movies) that life was nothing without love. It was nothing without having to share special moments in your life with someone who you love more than anything else in the world. But i've now come to realise and understand that love and the companionship of love is just one aspect of life. There is so much more in this world to live for - Beautiful sceneries, friends, family, work etc.

Work is ultimately what makes us who we are. It is not what we say or our beliefs that dictates who we are. It is what we do. The work we do and its effect on the world around us is what makes us who we are. Thats because then we have dedicated our lives to something and this giving meaning to our lives. This meaning is what defines us.

It is not who we spend our lives with but what we do in the time given to us that makes us who we are. Thus our lives, in reality are more dependant on what we do and not on the person we spend it with.

I believe that the whole concept of finding "that someone special" is flawed. Anyone can be "that someone special". You do not have to look through 6.5 Billion human life forms to find that someone. Statistically if you do look thru so many people you will find many "that someone special". Then what will you do? Fall in love with everyone of them?

Also, lets assume that "that special someone" exists for everybody. Dealing with such a large number there is a very high probability that you will never meet that special someone coz you might just die before you even get to know all 6.5Bn people populating this planet.

Why is it that in love we imagine the other person to be the world? Why do we think that our perfection, our lives and our growth depends on the other person? Why is it that so much of the time in love we feel suffocted and frustrated? This is because the brain mistakenly assumes a deep feeling of attachment, attraction and bonding to be love. Why else do you think there are so many instances when lust is thought of as love, when mere fondness is interpreted as love and when close and continuous proximity makes the mind believe that it needs the other person.

Love is nothing but an illusion of deep attachment which the 'heart' is fooled into thinking so by the mind. Love is a feeling that can be artificially generated. Through arranged marraige a man and a woman start living together. Through close proximity and continuous interactions over a period of time they become used to each other's presence and become emotionally attached to the other. This need, to be with the other person, is what we mistakenly call love.

Finding a partner all depends on how you respond to people. "That someone special" you are looking for and hoping to meet can be anyone you choose to be. Even the ex- boyfriend/girlfriend you had a terrible fight with, the ugliest person in school to the most beautiful person, or even that stranger you met at the bookstore.

Yes, i do know that the decision of choosing the partner depends on many factors. History, values, ethnicity, compatibility et al. But why should any except compatibility make any difference. Compatibility is an obvious need as without it the couple will not be able to stay together. But imagine if everyone realises that finding a partner depends on how he/she responds to her/him. This would make everything easier. People do not usually understand this and thus it makes all the problems.

Finding a partner all depends on how you respond to people. If you are patient and kind and understand with everybody and accept him/her as he/she is instead of making him/her change into someone you you want, then anyone you meet can be the person you've been looking for. Then the relationship you are in, will be a peaceful one with a sense of belonging. It would be true love where you both are independant but dependant at the same time. There is attraction but the attraction is filled with the need to do good for the other.

But tell me, why is it that we need to find a partner?? Can we not do without one?? Can we not exist on our own free will and enjoy our lives alone?? Yes, humans are social creatures. But we do not need to find anyone to spend the rest of our lives with. We can be single and still enjoy the moment.

But we still hope and eagerly wait to find "that someone special". Someone so perfect that he/she understands what i need before i do, understands each and every cell inside me better than i know myself, someone who will put everything on the line for me and not regret it later, someone who will be devoted only to me.

Why should we be depended on any one person?? Why can we not just do our work and go home peacefully and worry about how to perform better. The whole concept of waiting for true love and "that someone special" is nothing but a load of crap because everyone is capable of being "that someone special", you do not have to pick and choose. I'm not saying that love or attachment is bad. Its not, you should get attached to people especially when you have a high need for people. But you must remember that you cannot revolve your whole life around finding someone. That search should just be a side effect of the work that you do.

Happy Valentine's Day people!

-> SJ