Chaitanya Dalmia demystifies the Global Financial Dynamics

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The media is in the business of selling news, and news of S&P downgrading American Sovereign rating was virtually a non-event for most of the intelligencia (including Montek Singh)! It had been a long time coming! In any case, there is so much mixing of free/fair views with hidden agendas and propagandas of various constituencies, that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. Besides, financial journalism, (ironically similar in this regard to the rating agencies themselves) in the absence of strict code of conduct, is like the ‘andho mein kanha raja’. Public is quite gullible, and will take on face value whatever the news agencies will give them since they don’t have time/expertise to comprehend anything on their own! So being in the profession myself, I shall try and draw some ‘more than meets the eye’ inferences for you as follows:

I think we are headed for a stagflation in OECD, and slower growth with higher inflation in developing countries (relative to its past). I believe America seems intoxicated in a state of delusion and self-denial. It believes it is God and can keep binging on the World’s savings forever without ever having to repay them. And the longer it continues, the stronger the self-fulfilling prophecy. Euro-zone, on the other hand, contrary to popular perception, seems in a better position than America simply because they recognize they have a problem, and are trying to take harsh measures to resolve the issues. Of course they must go through their share of pain, and this, at worst, may mean taking out a few profligate countries out of the EU.

Closer home, I am appalled at the dismal state of governance in our country. The audacity and profligacy of the government is bound to blow-up in our face. We also have rattled humongous amount of debt (via Farm Debt Waiver, NREGA and all the subsidies etc), without corresponding increase in productivity/growth. The reason for that is, majority of the debt that we raked up has ended up in a corrupt politician’s coffers instead of being used for Capital Formation. There is no free lunch and someone has to foot the bill. Obviously, unless they are hanged to death (which they never will be) this debt cannot be economically repaid; and hence must be paid by inflation.

However the silver lining is that in India, we have enough internal demand and the resources to efficiently provide the same. Our ICOR is 4-4.5, and so we need an Investment rate of 31-32% to fund that growth. Our Savings rate is in that region. So for 6-7% growth, it’s not unreasonable to assume that we are truly ‘decoupled’!

Having said this, life is not a straight line, and hence a few caveats are in order. In a recessionary world, I sincerely do hope that the speculators intoxicated with free-money don’t spoil the party ensuing with cooling commodity prices, Anna Hazare forcibly inculcates some shame in the government so that blatant looting of the exchequer is stalled, and instead the government wakes up from its slumber and get-going with some quick and serious debottlenecking of the stifling bureaucracy.?Therefore, it’s time to tighten belts and run a tight ship (with low fixed costs) while positioning for moderate growth; and being a nation of believers, PRAY! It’s always smart to ignore the politicians who cry wolf about the illusory double-digit growth. An idea worth pondering over, Sirji! 😉

Chaitanya Dalmia

The Story of Mitti Cool – By Vishesh Chandiok

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The speaker for the EO Learning Event held on July 26th, 2011 was Mansukh Bhai Prajapati, a Gujarati from Morbi, near Rajkot. And he spoke no English at all!

A born innovator, he was by birth a ‘kumhar’ or people who make pots or matkas of clay. When he was young, he bartered these pots for wheat and simultaneously worked as a carpenter to supplement his income. In 1979, a flood in Morbi cost his family everything, causing his father to move to Wakaner to find work as a carpenter.

Mansukh Bhai failed is SSC exams in 1982 and joined his father in carpentry for lack of options. He knew from the beginning that carpentry wasn’t his calling and shared his entrepreneurial dream with his father who gave him Rs. 1000 to start a tea stall. At the age of 17, he was offered a job in a tile factory, where he worked for approximately 5 years and played an integral part in helping the business grow.

Since he had not let go of his dreams, he took a loan of Rs. 50,000 from his employer and decided to return to the original family business of making clay utensils. His father, though wary at first was also persuaded to take another loan of Rs. 30,000.

Mansukh Bhai took over a small space, bought an electric machine for mixing clay and made dyes. While he could produce only a 100 tawas in a day before, now he could produce 1000 and today, thanks to a machine that he innovated, his production is of 3000 clay tawas a day.

He also started making matkas with water filters, using a filter designed (and now patented) by him. A product he directs at the poorest in our country, Mansukh Bhai has made the poor man’s RO system.

Once again at the mercy of Mother Nature, Mansukh Bhai lost his house and all his matkas once again. A misinformed news correspondent covered his loss saying “poor man’s fridge broken after seeing the broken matkas”. It was from there that the concept of Mitti Cool came into existence. With the help of NGO, Mansukh Bhai innovated yet again to make a electricity free fridge which keeps fruits and vegetables fresh for 5 to 15 days using only water. A national innovation council helped him further design, patent and market his product, giving him Rs. 1,80,000 to further improve Mitti Cool.

He wasn’t done just yet. In 2005, Mansukh Bhai’s wife asked him for a non stick pan. When he paid Rs. 450 for the pan, he became curious and took to understanding the production process of these new products. He bought non stick coating at Rs. 1000 a kg and after many trials, he released his version of the non-stick tawa at Rs. 25 in 2006. Since then, he continues to innovate and now his tawas come in various sizes, with wooden handles etc.

According to Mansukh Bhai, people eat these days to fill stomachs but lack vitality and energy as they eat out of metal utensils. He said that tests prove that 45% of original minerals disappear in metal cookers while food remains healthy for up to 36 hours when cooked in clay. Therefore, he has made a Mitti Cooker, with a seeti (whistle) et al!

One has to pay respects to this master innovator’s zeal. His project for 2012 is a Mitti Cool house which needs no electricity but provides the cool of an air-conditioner. Mansukh Bhai has won two state awards, two president’s awards and one international award and has had his work mentioned in Forbes Magazine.

He aims to make products cost effective and affordable by the poor. Though his company is for profit, his endeavour is to provide his products for as cheap as possible, to a point where he has refused all offers for his patents or from those who were offering him their brand name.

His story and success is truly inspirational.

The Amristar Retreat Flashback – By Binoy Somaia

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We spent two days in the city of the golden temple, and what a trip! I wasn’t able to make the Turkey or Japan retreats, but this was too easy to pass up – a couple of days, a local destination, a great hotel and a ‘must see’ location. The agenda was well thought out and action packed, with a good mix of adult and kid friendly options.
Day one was go, go, go.  We started with the golden temple followed by Jallianwala Bagh and then a pit stop at Bhrawan Da Dhaba.  After a dash back to the hotel and a quick poolside break, we were on our way to the Wagah Attari border for the beating retreat ceremony.  Great job Suja with the VIP access – we all had front row seats and after the ceremony spent some time walking along the border followed by tea with BSF Commandant Sumer Singh. Back to the hotel, dinner for the kids (not mine!) and then we did what EO does best, started the party.
Day two was much more relaxed, with a late start and a lazy morning at a haveli farmhouse, where food and fun was the order of the day.  From there Team EO headed to Amritsar airport, where we took over the airport lounge.  From a game of father and son ball in one corner, to a discussion of power prices and open access in another, there was bonding going on everywhere!
I arrived back in Delhi tired, tanned and buzzed.  EO had delivered exactly what it had promised – a once in a lifetime experience with like minded people.  Add to that the fact that we ate well, partied hard, ‘detoxed’ at the pool and someone took care of all the sightseeing, it was a perfect holiday!  But best of all, I came back knowing so many more people – members, spouses and kids.  What I hadn’t managed to do in two years in EO, I did in two days.  Thank you Hameet and Suja!

“You only get what you put in at EO” : Pawan Agarwal

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You only get what you put in at EO”, was what I heard consistently from everyone when I became a member of the Delhi chapter of EO in August 2008.  I have to say it took me a while to understand the real meaning of it. Through my interactions with some board members and of course, the other members of my chapter, I was convinced that EO was the best investment I had made in several years. It also brought within me a huge sense of pride to be associated with this organization.
For starters, it was surely quite a pleasant change to be in environment where true entrepreneurial spirit prevailed.  Learning was not limited to the best speakers and the local events and the Regional Events I attended but also from the personal experiences of members not only limiting to business.  One of the biggest value adds that I gained from EO is the ability to managing the balance of family, health, spirits, friends and of course business.
The Forum personally for me was a life changer.  Having lived in more than a dozen towns in the last 15 years, my friends had become acquaintances and my life revolved more or less around work.  My forum gave me back my “lost friends” and I could easily say much more than friends because I also knew I am in environment with them where I am not being judged.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that what I have made of myself in the last 3 years is largely because of this great organization and its members; and it would be safe to say that I have learned something from everyone that I have spent time with here.  I truly owe this wonderful journey of EO to my friends who gave me the mantra of “you only get what you put in at EO”.

 By Pawan Agarwal; Director, Dainik Bhaskar