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September 29, 2010

As shown on the TV – Telebrands - A Chinese water torture – Part - II (fraud Products)

A dent removing machine that too at a cost of Rs 2,000/- only. Or my favorite - A machine that will stimulate the leg muscles in a way as if they are walking. The programme claims that just by strapping this particular machine the wearer can just sleep and he or she would lose weight. Telebrands is a lazy person’s paradise. It the only place in the world that has no pain and all the gain. Way to go Telebrands.

The search on the Google was very revealing. The reality of the issue became very clear. Viewers are taken in by these claims. The worst thing about the programmes is the brain washing technique. The same sales talk is repeated so many times that the viewer will start to believe them. They appear to be really genuine products. The ordering and paying for them is ridiculously easy. That is the only easy part. Once the product is delivered the real fun starts. The viewer is struck with a product that he or she cant even dispose off. One final piece of advice. If getting thin and having wavy thick and luscious hair was so easy there would not have been a fat person or a baldie in this world. Trust me. 

Most of the product claims are unbelievable. If anyone makes an unbelievable claim immediately become cautious. Just like the Nigerian fraud as it is now famously called. Nigerian fraud is an e-mail that informs you that you have won a lottery of a million dollars (Rs 4.5 crores). The sender very innocently and innocuously will ask for your account number (or even your password). Or the most popular trick which is to ask for Rs 50,000/- rupees to be sent as a processing fee. 

Some of the tricksters have become so audaciously that they even come down to Indian cities to snare unsuspecting victims. So never give out any personal details including bank accounts numbers and password to any person to any web site. Be very careful  of phishing attacks – phishing attacks is a tactic where a fake web site will appear like a genuine web site and this fake site will extract personal information. Personal information thus extracted will be used to devastating effect to cripple the victim financially.  

How to we protect ourselves? There is no easy way out. We are what we are. Our bodies our hair our structure is in many cases decided by our genes. Yes a healthy life style can help. So instead of believing in such faddish claims concentrate on things that can be done. A disciplined life and a healthy mind can go a long way in solving some of the health related problems that we face in life. Trying to become rich over night is never really possible. It is only possible in the movies or in dreams. Dreams that should not remain only as day dreams. Dreams that have to be realized brick by brick toiling away the old fashioned way. Like the saying “Rome was not build in a day”.

As shown on the TV – Telebrands - A Chinese water torture – Part - I (fraud Products)

Three things are inevitable in this world. They are death, taxes and advertisements. All three are inevitable and groan or grin and bear with them, they can’t be avoided. It is time we added one more thing to that list. The new entry – the half an hour torture on the television that is called Telebrands.

These programmes are unleashed on unsuspecting viewers. The programme treats the viewers as imbeciles. The same sales talk is repeated without a break. The original programme is made either in a western country or in Hindi. The programme is dubbed into telugu or into Hindi. It is painfully funny to hear a full blooded American talk in Hindi or shudh (pure) telugu. Some of the products that are advertised as Telebrands include
      A dent removing instrument  
2.      A device that makes you lose weight while the wearer is sleeping
3.      Sauna belts
4.      Green tea that can make one lose weight
5.      Arthritis reducing device
6.      All types of lucky stones and trinkets
7.      Slicers, dicers and other kitchen appliances
8.      Deflatable sofa cum bed
9.      A hair sprayer (a product that literally sprays hair on bald spots)
10.  Magical hair growers using herbal hair oils
11.  All types of corsets or shapers that can magically take off inches within minutes
12.  Exercise machines like elliptical  rotators
13.  Weight trainers that give a muscled body without painful exercises

Most of these products pry on our hidden fears and insecurities. Most of us want to have wavy glossy hair, well sculptured bodies, a terrific athletic figure. The home makers want their dull chores to be finished off in a jiffy.   Arthritis a live changing disease is a disease of frightening magnitude. But Telebrands trivializes the disease. There is a programme that trivializes the disease. Just for Rs 7999/- one can get a instrument that not only makes walker easier by shifting weight from the knee to below the knee (god only knows what they mean). It also claims that the wearer will very soon magically get their disfigured knees magically back into shape all at the cost of Rs 15,000/-.  And to think that regular knee replacement surgery cost up to Rs 10, 00,000/-!

The glibness of the programme is shocking. There is no mention of any doctor. Not even a family doctor. The programme talks about complex measurements as if they are telling the viewers as how to make tea at home. There is no agency watching these programmes and wetting the veracity of the claims these progammes are making. It is frightening even to fathom the effect these programmes must be having on our gullible ill-informed viewers. Most of us can snicker and say that viewers are very smart. But I doubt it. A simple search on the Google opened my eyes wide open.

September 27, 2010

Contradictory messages in communication – Part II

Woodworks Gripe water: This company has one of the most memorable ad campaigns ever. A child is crying. The grand mother says to the mother “Give the baby Woodworks gripe water; it will make the baby calm. I too gave you the same”. The great grandmother tells the grandmother the same. The great great grand mother tells the great grandmother the same. The message is very clear ‘for generations it is Woodworks Gripe water that makes a crying baby calm’. The contradiction - any Pediatrician will tell you that Woodworks Gripe water is a lot of marketing hype and that what is provides is mental calm to the mother. Once the mother becomes calm the baby can feel the waves of calmness and it too becomes calm.

Playing video games: It was supposed to be the ultimate evil. Kids getting glued to the video screens. The doom sayers had a field day. They predicted a generation of Zombies glued to the computers and who never had any social contacts. In their view video games were the ultimate evil in the world. The two generation that have been addicted to the video games have not done that badly. They have come to age and have started many technology savvy companies like face book and others. Now the same experts say that playing video games is perfectly all right. They say (sic) that playing video games is good or motor skill development and that leads to analytical thinking. Tell me another example of a better double speak!

Rice or Chapatti: This is one controversy that is always raging. Ask any self respecting North Indian and he would sing peons of praise for the virile chapatti. In his view it is the ultimate meal. He dismisses the idli eating, the fond of rice south Indian as a softie. He repeats the often cited example that Chapatti is better for health and that is why most north Indians have a better build than the south Indians. But at the same time the south Indian is ready with his argument. He cites the power of rice eating as the prime reason for the South Indian states emerging with better indices of economic development than the north Indian states. So the war is always on – Is chapatti better than rice or rice better than chapatti.

What is vegetarianism: This itself leads to lots of contradictory messages. For the Bengali Brahmins in India eating fish is perfectly alright. They call it Jal Pushp (Water flower). On the other side most Indian vegetarians drink milk and they are okay with it. In Orthodox Ethiopian society milk is supposed to be non vegetarian just like eggs as both come from the body of the animal. Thus during Lent the Orthodox Ethiopian Christians do not even consume milk. On the other side we have the vegans who do not consume anything that is of animal origins. This leaves many of us very confused as to what is vegetarian and what is non vegetarian. 

Which way should the customer go? Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware but is the buyer aware?) Are we being informed or we being confused?

Contradictory messages in communication – Part I

Right from childhood we have been told that elders and subject experts are fountains of knowledge and that word should be taken as the gospel truth. But what happens when the experts give us contradictory messages. Given below are some of the messages that have been contradicted by the experts over the period of time. 

Eating eggs is dangerous: It is traditional wisdom that eating eggs is harmful especially the yolk part of the egg. Egg we have been told is full of bad cholesterol. For lots of time yolk of an egg had become a four letter dirty word which has to be avoided at all times. Things have reached such a passé that in USA the customers can buy yolk less eggs but at an added cost.

The egg manufacturers got into the damage control mode. This is where the contradictory messages start pouring in. The egg manufacturers said “eating eggs is okay and eating 4 eggs per week is perfectly alright for a healthy person”. Now the US based research (sic) indicates that yolk is actually good for health and that it gives good rather than bad cholesterol. Now the health experts say that eating one egg per day is perfectly alright and that egg is one of the perfect bundles of energy that is provided by the nature.

NECC (National Egg Coordinating Committee in India) did even better. They said that egg was vegetarian and that eggs can be eaten by pure veggies. Their logic was very simple. The poultry hens are not fertilized and that the subsequent eggs given by poultry hens are not fertile and will not hatch out as chicks. This led to such a furore unleashed by the vegetarians that NECC had to back pedal. This incident gave birth to the marking of the infamous green and red dots on all the packaged food in India. Red indicates non vegetarian food items and green indicates vegetarian food.  

Bubble gum:  when I was young I used to consume lots of bubblegum. I was told by my family doctor not to eat bubble gum as it leads to mouth cancer. This advice did not make me leave my bubble gum eating habit. I did kick the habit of chewing gum during my post graduation days. Now the same doctor tells me that eating bubble gum is very good for the muscles in the mouth and that it aids digestion, and keeps bad breath away. I am CONFUSED!

Iodized salt: The craze for iodized salt I suspect is the creation of clever marketers. They realized that in a poor country like India more people use rock salt rather than smooth table salt. That is when the campaign was launched for the smother version of salt albeit it was called iodized salt. Most of the doctors promptly fell in line and started telling us that we should use only iodized salt and that deficiency of Iodine will lead to health problems. Now the same medical professionals have done a volte face. They are of the opinion that rock salt is better than iodized salt.

Common Wealth Games or Crass wealth Gains

The latest edition of Common wealth games have been shrouded in mystery and controversy right from the start. There have been allegations that Indian Olympic committee has paid money to the tune of 1,00,000/- US $ to various countries Olympic associations to win the bid for the Delhi games.

The games bid was won by India in the year 2003 and for five years everyone was sleeping. There was confusion as to whom the games belonged. Did they belong to Suresh Kalmadi, or to the erstwhile sports minister Mani Shanker Aiyar who resigned apparently disgusted the way the games preparations were going on. Aiyar also questioned the way the bids for the various civil work contracts were being doled out. Or did they belong to the Delhi state headed by Shelia Dixshit?

Whatever it was the entire country watched with disgust the way things were handled. Each and every dead line was missed and the gobble’s propaganda kept on mounting. The glib lies that Kalmadi, Gill and Banot were doling out were amateurish. They kept on saying that everything would be all right. They told us that our hygiene levels are different from that of the other countries? They said that CWG would get ready just like the typical Indian Shaadi where all the things would be tied up literally at the last minute.

What went wrong was the miscalculation of the scale of things that have to be done. The end result India has become a laughing stock in front of the whole world. Bridges were falling, dogs were sleeping on beds made out for athletes, and security was not up to the mark. The repercussions were swift and humiliating. World calls athletes were pulling out. Things had become so serious that there were rumors that the games would have to be called off.

What else can we expect from a sports minster who refuses to recognize Pullela Gopichand, the All England Badminton champion or insults the coach of the world champion wrestler? The same sports minster tries to give a presentation when the Prime minister calls for a last minute firefighting meetings. The Prime minister had to tell him that time for talk was up and it was time to work. Rather walk the talk.

Last minute efforts are being made. But the country has lost out. We have already spent in excess of Rs 40,000/- crores and what do we have to show for the money spent? Increase in metro lines in Delhi and some very faulty and shaky stadiums. The same money could have been fruitfully spent on issues that are starting us in the face including runaway prices and farmer’s suicides.

The lessons that we should learn are many. We need management experts who have expertise in project management. They need to be free of political interference and work under the scrutiny of the Indian government. They should not have WISE men like Kalmadi, Gill and Lalit Banot putting spokes in the games work. A committee should be set up and the guilty should be punished for showing the country and showing us up in the worst light possible.

Let us hope that the next time India is awarded a major event we can pull it off with better coordination than we did it this time. Let us not forget Indira Gandhi who made the 1982 Asian games a huge success. Also let us not forget China which is hosting the Asian games in December who has handed over the games village in September itself a full two months AHEAD of schedule. Let us at least learn from our neighbor if we have any pretense of being a world power and challenging the might of China.

September 25, 2010

World's most exotic dishes

Caviar:is fish egg or roe. The caviar that is commonly eaten comes from Sturgeon fish. There are three varieties of sturgeon caviar: beluga, sevruga and oscietra. Beluga caviar is primarily found in the Caspian Sea. It can also be found in the Black Sea basin and occasionally in the Adriatic Sea.
Beluga caviar comes from a fish over 100 years old that is virtually unchanged for 120 million years. Beluga caviar ranges in price from more than $5,000 (Rs 2,50,000/-) per kilogram in the United States

Fugu: is the Japanese word for pufferfish and the dish prepared from the meat of pufferfish or porcupine fish. It can be lethally poisonous if prepared incorrectly. Fugu has become one of the most celebrated and notorious dishes in the Japanese cuisine.

Japanese have eaten fugu for centuries. Fugu is also the only food officially forbidden to the Emperor of Japan, for his safety. Eating Fugu is a sort of bloody sport akin the Russian roulette (Russian roulette is the sport of loading a single bullet in six bullet handgun. Then the magazine is spun and the person playing the roulette aims the gun at his temple and pulls the trigger once. He has a 1/6th chance in killing himself). Same is the case with eating fugu fish. There is always a chance of getting killed and that is precisely the thrill of eating the fugu.

Exotic Arab dish: The most exotic dish in the world is supposed to be cooked in Saudi Arabia. The meat of a pigeon is stuffed into the carcass of a hen which is later stuffed into a body of a sheep. In the same way the sheep’s mutton is stuffed into slabs of beef and finally into a body of a camel. The entire preparation takes lots of time. The eater of the final dish gets taste of five different types of meat in a single bite.

Pootharekulu: or Paper Sweets is a wafer-like sweet of eastern and Coastal Andhra Pradesh in Southern India.

It is a sweet version of a Vegetable Roll where finely ground sugar powder in fine laminated foils made of rice. The wafer's size varies from 100 to 1000 micrometers depending on the expertise of the person who makes it. The best pootharekulu are made in Rajahmundry, Kakinada, and Narsapuram.

In Telugu, pootha means "coating or to coat" and reku means a foil, translating to English as "sugar coated foils".

Living for eating or eating for living - No way man! - Living for eating - Hyderabadi estyle Cuisine

Chicken 65: Go to any Hyderabadi Irani café and you would hear customers shouting out “chootu ek plate chicken 65 laana” (translated into English “Hey kid bring me one plate of chicken 65”). This deep fried chicken dish can’t be explained and has to be personally experienced. It has a rich crunchy taste that the best KFC chicken can’t even come remotely come close to.

The origin of the name chicken 65 is as colorful as the dish itself. Some say that 65 ingredients are used to make the dish, some say that it is fried at 65 degrees centigrade. Some others argue saying that it was item number 65 on the menu list and it was simply titled deep fried chicken. Customers were calling out item number 65 chicken item and slowly the item number was dropped off. Any which way chicken 65 is a mouth watering dish.

Barkas biryani: A very unique Hyderabadi saying. It means that the meeting is over and every one can go home. In a traditional Muslim Valima dinner the biryani is the star serving. Once the waiter announces that the biryani is Barkas (finished) it means that the dinner is over and the guests have to go home.

Salim Pheku: Again a peculiar Hyderabadi word. It is a name of a guy who can spin yarns that are simply unbelievable but are very enjoyable. Patrons pay good money to listen to the Pheku (fellow who can tell tall tales). Sample one “I was going from Pune to Hyderabad in a lorry carrying poultry eggs. The road was very slippery. The driver braked suddenly and the lorry somersaulted. But can you believe even not even one egg got cracked. Such was the skill of the driver”. In typical Hyderabadi style one is supposed to applaud the Pheku and goad him to better himself.

Hyderabadi haleem:  is a type of meat stew It is a popular dish that is only made during the Muslim month of Ramadan or Ramzan. Haleem is only second to the Hyderabadi Biryani in popularity.

It is a type of stew made from pounded wheat and mutton (or beef) made into a thick paste. It is the mainstay of the faithful during the Holy month of Ramadan. It is a tradition to break the daily fast (roza) at Iftar with a plateful of haleem.

Osmania Biscuit: The popular biscuit's name has nothing to do with VII Nizam Osman Ali or Osmania University or Osmania General Hospital. They are an invention of Mohammed Osman, a biscuit maker of Sultanshahi who used to supply salt biscuits to various hotels. He noticed that people were fed up with salt biscuits. Osman mixed milk powder and ghee in maida powder and started supplying the biscuits to hotels and within a week he noticed that the people loved the taste. Customers love to dip Osmania biscuit in tea and then eat them, Four Osmania biscuits absorb half cup of tea. The customer then has to order for another cup of tea. A Smart way of getting more business for the Irani café owners.

Each Osmania biscuit costs Rs 1. Serving Osmania biscuits to the guests along with samosa or egg puffs is the tradition of Hyderabad.

Customer is the king - What a Joke

“Customer is the king”, “Exceeding the expectations raised will result in customer experiencing delight”, “The company and its people exist for the customer” “we are not doing any favor to the customer by serving him rather he is doing us a favor by allowing us to serve him”. These adages are taught to us and we continue teaching them to all the sundry. But these in many cases remain only platitudes that we platter without meaning any of them. Sample the following experiences that I had in the recent past of shoddy service that could have been better.

GO Airlines: The day was Udagi the telugu new year day. I was flying from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad by GO airlines. The banner at the airport was wishing the Marathi’s Gudi Padwa (the Marathi New Year). There was no mention of the telugu new year especially as the flight was from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad (Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh and telugu is the official language of the state).

The next element of bad service took the cake. My luggage was overweight by 500 grams. I was not carrying any hand luggage. The ticket checker promptly told me to pay Rs 100/- as excess luggage. I have travelled all over the world and this came as a shocker. I protested to no avail. I was curtly told that I had to pay up. I asked for the supervisor. The supervisor told me on no certain terms that the airline would lose money if concessions were made. I paid the excess luggage (just to keep the record straight I gave feedback in the Go airlines compliant register and to date I have not received any response).

The next put-off is the behavior of the air-hostesses in the plane itself. They treat the customers (customers is a bad word the airlines calls them guests) like dirt. I shudder to think if this is the way they treat the visitors at their home, better not to go to their homes. They condescendingly might give you 100 ml of water but only for the first time. Ask water for the second time and they would serve you but with a look of “why can’t you buy water you cheapoo?” What I fail to understand is why the airline can’t serve a rudimentary snack of one samosa, two cookies, tea or coffee and water. I am sure this simple meal would not cost a bomb and bleed the airline companies to death!

KFC, New Delhi International Airport: Yesterday I was taking a flight from New Delhi to Hyderabad, Feeling hungry I went to the KFC counter and asked for 3 chicken wings costing Rs 49/-. I was billed Rs 60/-. This included VAT of Rs 6/- and a so called voluntary contribution of Rs 5/- to some social cause that KFC was supporting. what is voluntary about the contribution when the amount is added automatically to the bill and the customer has no say or option to accept or refuse the same?. Disappointing way to be socially responsible KFC!

September 16, 2010

Confirmed poverty or uncertain glory - the travails of entrepreneurship

One of the founders of Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology Dr. Malakonda Reddy was very fond of saying “Doing a job is confirmed poverty. That is any increase in salary will be compensated with the inflation rate. Where as doing a business is uncertain glory. One might be successful or one might be a failure". Whichever way there is uncertainty.

India was and is a land of entrepreneurs. Indian traders are famed throughout the world. They are very popular and have been entrenched in places like Kenya where they control the retail trade. Mom and pop stores are everywhere and Indian cities are shining examples of micro entrepreneurship.

Every road and street in India is full of small entrepreneurs like cycle and motorcycle mechanics, small fruit sellers, tea and biscuit sellers and sellers of small and sundry products. So why is that the educated shy away from this exciting field of entrepreneurship? Let us look at the definition of an entrepreneur and that of entrepreneurship.

Definition of an entrepreneur: Entrepreneur is a person who creates something new of value by devoting the necessary time and effort, assuming the accompanying financial, psychological, and social risks and receiving the resulting benefits of money, satisfaction and independence.

The crux of the problem is the word risk. The entrepreneur has to take risk. Most of us are risk averse. We fear the stigma of failure. The educated middle class in India come from families who have been in service. They have been taught right from childhood that educations is the only means of living comfortably. They do not want risk. And risk is inherent with any business. So when someone ventures into a business the family is waiting with daggers drawn to say the dreaded words “I TOLD YOU SO! BUSINESS IS NOT FOR US, WHY DON’T YOU TAKE UP A STEADY JOB?”

Definition of Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is the propensity of mind to take calculated risks with confidence to achieve a predetermined business or industrial objective, in substance it is the risk taking ability of an individual broadly coupled with decision-making.

The capacity to take risk independently and individually with a view to make profit and seizing the opportunity to make more earnings in the market oriented economy is the dominant characteristic of modern entrepreneurship.

If all the Indians were conservative thinkers we would not have Dhirubhai Ambani who has given us a colossus called Reliance. Without Reliance we would not have Mukesh as the 4th richest businessman in the world (Forbes survey). And within a short period of 4 years that is by 2014 Mukesh Ambani will be the RICHEST BUSINESSMAN IN THE WORLD. Long live entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. They do not ask for anything form us but build their empire brick by brick.

September 14, 2010

My beloved teachers - Part - IV

The teacher who had a funny bone and who enthralled us with his satire was our teacher of Management theory and Organizational Behaviour. He would drawl in his traditional slow voice “You boys are like never-ready batteries and all the girls are like Eveready batteries”. He would crack jokes like “In USA there are one car and two car families, In India there are be-kar families (be-kar in Hindi means useless).

His favorite joke was “Every street corner in Hyderabad will have a bakery. It will have only two employees a be-kar and a loafer”. Loafer is a person who makes bread but loafer in Hyderabad means a person who does nothing and who loafs around.

The final ode in my MBA College would be for my HOD Prof E. G. Paremeshwaran. E.G as he was popularly called was a fountain head of knowledge and satire. One day we had bunked a boring class and were lounging in the corridor. We were happily sitting on the floor and chitchatting. E.G walks by and does a double take when he notices us. “Hey boys what are you doing here?” he says. “Nothing sir” responds a brave heart “ the lecture was too boring”. E.G sits next to us. He never forces us into the class. He explained the relationship between the student and the teacher.

He said “You have a role to play. Raise doubts and ask for clarifications, When a teacher does not know the answer his or her ego will get hurt. That will make him/her prepare better and that teacher is on the road to become a good teacher”. Today when I have became a Director – Academic I reflect on his words I understand the magnitude and the meaning. The student is only as good as his teacher and so is the case with the teacher, the teacher is as good as the performance of the students.

My beloved teachers - Part - III

The teacher who made my path in management easier was Prof Maruti Ram my teacher in Managerial Economics. As I was mentioning in my previous blog posting I come from Science background and management classes proved to be lot of Mumbo Jumbo to me. I was not getting head or tail of Economics, Financial accounting and Statistics. I went straight to Prof Maruti Ram and told him that I was not at all doing well and that I want to quit and join M.Sc Anthropology. He laughed and said “don’t you worry. Those Commerce background students appear to be very knowledgeable. But at end of the day it is the hard working guys who come out at the top”. Those words inspired me but the niggling doubt remained.

One day I met Prof Maruti Ram in the bus. We had just finished the first semester examinations and I was very curious about the result. When asked about the students’ performance, Maruti Ram sir said “Most people did okay. One student reproduced the same examples which were given in the class and it was a good attempt”. When the result was out, it was a huge pleasant surprise to note that the student who caught Prof Maruti Ram’s eye was me and I topped Managerial Economics. I got 37/50. I am still proud of that achievement.

Prof Shyam Sunder was our marketing faculty. A brilliant teacher he could cite examples and do complex calculation with the élan of a well trained surgeon. He had such finesse that he got dubbed as the “Kotler of Osmania University”. He was very quick to the retort and students loved and were quite frankly terrified of his ready repartee.

On that eventful day I was getting otherwise engaged at the back of the class and promptly Shyam Sunder Sir caught me. He asked me a question. Frankly I didn’t know the answer. I gave a rather long winded response. By his looks I could make out that Prof Shyam Sunder Sir was getting angry. I could see the storm coming. He said “Hello what is your name?” “Anil sir” I responded. “You will be a good MBA” he said. My heart swelled with pride. Getting a compliment from Shyam Sunder Sir is like an Indian actor getting an Oscar from the academy. “Master Bull Shit Artiste. That is what you are” was his crushing reply. “Be short and precise. Your answer was very long but none of it made any sense. Be more clear in the future”, suitably christened I sat down and made myself a better student.

September 10, 2010

My beloved teachers - Part - II

The next set of teachers includes our Zoology teacher in Intermediate Mrs. Seshamma. Mrs. Seshamma taught us the finer elements of understanding the animals and for an animal lover like me they were valuable lessons. She taught us how to dissert the nervous ring in the earthworm. She was a great teacher.

But one of my friend’s actions stumped her. He started sporting a pink rash on his face and he finally went to a dermatologist who blamed it on our poor zoology teacher. Not exactly the zoology teacher but the animals taught by her. Let me present the mystery of the pink rash in the same way as it unfolded. Dermatologist “My friend this very peculiar, this type of rash in only found in lizards and specifically in frogs and toads. How is that you have this rash?” My friend promptly feigned any knowledge about the pink occurrence. We learned later that my friend wanted to sport a manly look. He wanted to shave off his stubble. Not daring to ask his father this YOUNG MAN used his dissection blade (the blade with which he disserted the frog) to shave. That is how he got his pink rash. Talk about the travails of young boys who want to quickly grow up to be MEN!

The next set of teachers who were a great influence were my teachers at Nizam college, Hyderabad. Nizam is a prestigious college that boasts of illustrious alumni including Rakesh Sharma the first Indian in space, Mohd Azharuddin, Bala Krishna the telugu actor among others. The teachers who I remember very fondly are Prof Ramaiah my botany HOD, Prof Shahbaz Khan my Zoology HOD and Prof Afzal who taught me organic chemistry. Nizam College and its teachers left a indelible impression on me.

After Graduation I had to decide whether to do M.B.A or M.Sc in Anthropology. The choice was not really in my hand. My rank was not good enough to get me a seat either in the first list or the second list in M.B.A. Disheartened I was preparing to go to Tirupati to do M.Sc Anthropology at Sri Venkateshwara University. The time was around 3 in the afternoon. I am preparing to go to the railway station when a employee of Osmania University walks in. He informs me that the auction seats ( any vacant seats are filled in with any eligible candidate present with rank cards and certificates) were filled up on that day and that I could get a seat. The problem was I was not present in the university.

This anomaly was noticed by a senior professor Prof C. Madhusudan Reddy who did not want a deserving candidate lose out the seat. He found out my address from the application and sent that employee all the way to my house. And my house was 15 kilometers away! I along with my brother-in-law rushed to Osmania University and paid the fees and took that last seat just before the scheduled closing time of 0500 p.m. This was solely possible because of the quick thinking of Prof C. Madhusudan Reddy. Thank you CMR sir, it is only because of you that I could join Osmania University and get my Masters in Business Administration.

September 09, 2010

My Beloved teachers - Part - I

A popular telugu saying “ Purushulandu Punya Purushulu veraya " meaning among important people some are more important. A very apt saying for the teachers. Many claim to be teachers but very few can really be called teachers. Like somebody had said “don’t call me a teacher call me a facilitator”. Being referred to as a teacher is a very big honor. I definitely don’t want to be called a teacher. I am a facilitator. I facilitate the process of the learning. I inculcate the interest for the subject among the students. I fire their imagination so that they discover the subject themselves and become fascinated by it.

Real teachers are very few. They are people like Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha or other saintly men who have professed on something new that no one has professed before. Ordinary mortals are more like lecturers, tutors, readers and professors.

But students neither care about designations nor care about the fancy degrees that the so called teachers possess. They admire and like a teacher who fires their imagination. They like a teacher who appears very enthusiastic and passionate about the topic or the subject being studied. No student likes a cold fish treatment of a subject. ( a cold and impersonal presentation).

I would like to mention ten great teachers who have moulded my personality and made me what I am today. The first among them is my English teacher “Phillips”. Phillips was my English teacher in the school. He was very strict about grammar and about pronunciation. He would give us knuckle jarring taps with his iron scale whenever a mistake was committed. Scared of him I picked up the nuances of English, English grammar and pronunciation. He taught us Shakespearean dramas like Merchant of Venice, to be or not to be, Julius Caesar and others. His recital of “friends Romans countrymen lend me your ears, I came to bury Caesar not to praise him” still ring in my ears.

Students would get confused between defense and defence. Same is the case with advise and advice. One is a verb and the other is a noun. But which one was the verb and which one is the noun? The students were nonplussed. Phillips Sir gave us a very simple solution. He questioned “which comes first C or V” “ C” came the answer. “Same rule for advice and advise. The word that has c is the noun and the word that has s is the verb. AdviCe is a noun and AdviSe is a verb. As simple as that” he added.

The second teacher who had great influence on me was my social science teacher named Mrs. Mathews. Mrs. Mathews was a wife of a senior diplomat from the government service. She loved teaching. She taught us the measurement of time difference using lattitude in a very easy and lucid way. I can still calculate the difference between GMT and IST which is 82.5 degrees lattitude. The time difference between any two lattitudes is 4 minutes and 82.5 x 4 = 330 minutes. That is 5 hours and 30 minutes which is the difference between GMT and IST.

One simple minded student had remarked sarcastically “Madam, how is that a person who is not good at calculations remember the time difference between GMT and IST”. Without batting an eyelid Mrs. Mathews responded "very simple, turn your watch upside down, the time that you read when the watch is upside down is the GMT time”. The student was nonplussed by the witty answer. For example, if the time in the watch shows 1p.m the reverse will show 7.30 a.m which is the GMT time. She also taught us a very easy way to remember the nine planets. MARY VERY EARLY MADE JOHN to SHAKE UP NELLIE’s PILLOW. The first letter in the sentence will give the nine planets in the same sequence as they appear from the Sun. Thank you Phillips Sir and Mathews Madam.

September 08, 2010

Director - Academic speech - delivered by Prof M. Anil Ramesh on 3rd September Inauguration of SSIM second shift programmes - Part II

Ask for no quarters and none will be given. You would be treated justly but firmly. Discipline would be sacrosanct and only a disciplined mind can do the job on hand. So please do not expect us to be lenient. You will have to stand on your own and experience this wonderful world of education.

When asked “who is a good student” the answer that is commonly given is “the one who gives the right answers”. I disagree “a good student is the one who asks the right questions” Any one of us would have taken the apple that has fallen on our head and would have eaten it. It took a Newton to ask that question albeit very a basic as it sounds to us today, “why is that the apple has fallen down, why has it not gone up?” Awaken the Newton in you.

Inculcate the habit of positive questioning. Question yourself. Raise questions in the class. Have intellectual arguments with your classmates and with your teachers. Internalize the concepts and make them your own. Once the process of internalization sets in you would find a transformation in yourself, in the way you do things and you would find your bearings. I did the same and still do it. In my heart of hearts I am still a child who is eager to explore and is very greedy to lap up all the new things that management as a discipline has to offer. After all management is the art of doing things – right. Let the process be continuous.

A word of caution for all the parents. Let your child explore the world himself or herself. There is nothing called the right career or a right job. Yes money is very important should be considered in taking up a job.

Job satisfaction and happiness are equally important. Let your child be happy doing whatever he or she likes. It is said “when your hobby becomes your job you are the happiest person this world” Let your wards explore and decide what are going to be their hobbies. You and me especially me and my team of dedicated teachers and staff are always ready to advice and counsel them. We will set them on the right path and see that they discover their yearnings and achieve their goal. Thank you for the opportunity given and let us pray to the almighty that he gives us strength, vigor, force and direction to achieve what we have set out for. Au revior – till me meet again.

Director – Academic Speech - Delivered by Prof M. Anil Ramesh, on 3rd September Inauguration of SSIM second shift programmes - Part - I

It is a great honor to stand before you and deliver this speech as the Director – Academic. I stand before you with a mixed bag of emotions. The emotions include a tinge of sadness, happiness, sense of achievement and more than anything else a sense of purpose and determination. The sadness is because I am leaving a great department that is the department of marketing where I have worked in this prestigious group. I had a lovely team of people and it was great working with them. But things have to move on and so have I. But I promise that my heart always beats for marketing and any time the department wants my services I will be there as a loyal soldier.

The sense of purpose and determination is the bigger emotion that is swirling in my mind right now. It is very rarely that a person gets a chance to associate with an organization right from the time of its inceptions. I am honored to have that distinction. The sense of determination to prove to the management that I am up to the challenge and the goal that has been set for me and my team.

Yes the challenges are many and they are worth a mention. The challenge to set up an organization that is equal to the standards that have been set by Siva Sivani institute of Management (first shift). I have an advantage which is that I have all the stalwarts associated with SSIM standing next to me ready to extend a helping hand. I can always approach them in any case of need.

The next challenge is to groom the students to see that they emerge as equals and be compared as being as good as the students of the first shift. They will have to stand on their own and make a place for themselves and I am sure that they would take up this challenge earnestly and prove me right. The present set of students have a solemn goal in first of them. They are going to be our first batch of students. It is up to them to set the tone and tempo of students’ affairs. They will have to set a high bar of excellence. A high bar that can be scaled but only with a great effort.

An appeal to the young students who have assembled before me. You are all bright eyed aspirants of this hallowed magical kingdom called management education. Pause for a second and visualize your thoughts. Let me speak out your thoughts. Why I am doing this PGDM? Is it for money, a great job, is it because my parents have said so, or is it because it is the in-thing or the fashion or is it because somebody else has done the same. If It is for any of the above reasons it time you have revisited your own thoughts. Management education for me is an attitude changer and personality builder. It is not education but it is a career that we are grooming you for. I will treat you as employees on a loan from the corporate world.

An ode to the teacher (on the eve of S. Radhakrishnan’s birthday – Celebrated as teacher’s day)

Teachers are revered in India. India has the deep rooted tradition of the Gurukul in which the student becomes the part and parcel of the Guru (teacher). He serves the teacher like a son. The teacher’s word is his command. He does all the work assigned including household work. The student tags the teacher. The teacher teaches the student in a very natural way throughout the day.

The role of the student is given a lot of importance. How can anyone forget the dedication of Karna who bore the extremely painful bites of a bee on his thigh (the bee is a god who wants to thwart the penance of Karna) rather than wake up his sleeping guru. The guru was sleeping resting his head on the lap of Karna.

The Indian mythology talks about Ekalavya the ultimate student. Ekalavya is refused tutorage by Dronacharya the expert martial art trainer. Undeterred, Ekalavya trains before the statue of his guru Dronacharya and becomes an expert archer. His name and fame spreads. This leads to heartburn in Arjuna the favorite student of Dronacharya. Dronacharya had given a word to Arjuna that he would be the best archer in the world.

To fulfill his vow a tearful Dronacharya asks the ultimate Guru Dakshina (a parting gift from the student to the teacher as a thanks giving for the education and knowledge imparted) the thumb of Ekalavya. Ekalavya cheerfully gives off his thumb for a guru who has not taught him anything. But he gives his thumb as a respect for the image of the guru that he trained under. That is why Ekalavya is regarded as a epitome of a good student. In his heart Dronacharya had realized who was the best student among Arjuna and Ekalavya but his vow stopped him from admitting that Ekalavya was better than Arjuna. Blessed is the teacher who has a student like Ekalavya.

The relationship between the teacher and the student is interesting. The teacher takes the raw student under him and moulds him to become an expert in his field. The teacher has to be selfless and impart all the knowledge that he possesses. A telugu saying goes like this “Guruvunu minchina shishyudu” meaning the student who is better than the teacher. It is only a very selfish teacher who does not impart all the knowledge, like a wrestling coach who does not give all the tips to a trainee wrestler. The student also has an important role to play. He has to remain a faithful student till the end. He will have to remember the teachers and follow the directions set by his gurus. Blessed is the relationship between the teacher and the student. A Sanskrit saying “Mathru Devo Bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava, Acharya Devo Bhava”. Translated into english “Mother is the first god, father is the second god and teacher is the third god”.

September 01, 2010

Sales terms Part - I

PSS - 'Professional Selling Skills’:  is a highly structured selling process pioneered by the US Xerox (and UK Rank Xerox) the photocopier sales organization during the 1960s, and adopted by countless business-to-business sales organizations, normally as the 'Seven Steps of the Sale'. PSS places a huge reliance on presentation, overcoming objections and umpteen different closes. Largely now superseded by more modern 'Open Plan' two-way processes, but PSS is still in use and being trained, particularly in old-fashioned paternalistic company cultures. The regimented one-way manipulative style of PSS nowadays leaves most modern buyers completely cold, but strip it away to the bare process and it's better than no process at all.

Trial close:  is the technique, by which a sales person tests the prospect's readiness to buy, traditionally employed in response to a buying signal, e.g.: prospect says: "Do you have them in stock?" to which the sales person would traditionally reply: "Would you want one if they are?" Should be used with extreme care as many customers might resent the question and might feel that it is impertinent. If one sees a buying signal there's no need to jump on it - just answer it politely.

Used by pushy salesmen it is the process of testing the waters. The sales man is testing the resistance of the buyers. If there is no resistance the sales man would go in for the Kill (ask for the order). Pushy trail closures will not work in the modern era where the customer is confident of himself and will not accept pushy salesmen.

Face of the company: In a sales situation the company can’t monitor the activities of the sales person at all times. When the sales person is interacting with the customer he becomes the company. Rather he is the face of the company. If he is polite and professional the company will be perceived positively and if he is rude to the customer, the customer is inclined to have a negative opinion of the company. The company has to recruit the sales people with care as they can impact the customer’s opinions and perceptions about the company.

Moment of truth: is what a salesman lives for. It is the culmination of all efforts that the sales person has put in right from the pre-prospecting stage. The sales person would have moved the customer from the stone cold level to the cold level then to a warm level and finally to the hot level. The customer is ready. The sales person has to maximize his time with the customer and see that his objective is achieved. The moment of truth has to be utilized in the optimal fashion. In the retail sector the moment of truth is when the customer takes the product in his hands and examines it. If he is interested the sale is made. If not the entire marketing process has gone waste.

Galvanometer test: A research method that measures physiological changes in consumers when asked a question or shown some stimulus material such as an advertisement. The most famous case that is always quoted is the Senior Bush’s election speech in which he says “read my lips no new taxes”. This particular speech was given the galvanometer test and when Senior Bush uttered the above words he got very good positive response. The speech was later widely used by senior Bush and is cited as one of the reasons of his victory in that particular presidential election.