Friday, December 29, 2006

Speech at the Bharatidasan Institute of Management- 22 November 2006

The topic was " Indian business going global". Audience 120 first year MBA students of the Bharatidasan Inst of Management at Trichy. Dr Sankaran, the Director was present. The event was held thanx to the initiative of Friend Ravichandran of Chennai.

The Institute has a niche in the B-school circles. All of its students get placement thru campus recruitment. During interaction I found the students as bright, knowledgeable and mature. 90 percent have engineering degrees and fity percent have work experience.

I elaborated the following points:

-This year outward FDI is more than inward FDI.
-India is a capital deficit country. Interest rates in India higher than international rates.
- Essar investment in Trinidad is an interesting example. Basic logic for investment in Tinidad is availability of abundant and inexpensive gas. iron ore will come from some other country in the region. market principally USA. capital will be from international banks. technology might be foreign. So what goes from India?
-Indian bz going global is not just a matter of market or money. It is fundamentally a new mindset.
-After having been conquered, colonised and ruled by foreigners in the last seven hundred years Indians have now got the confidence to conquer the world. Mittal being the richest in UK is the sweet revenge for East India company .
-It is the IT cos which started the new phenomenon of going global, establishing a new paradigm and benchmark.
-Thanx to IT Indian is being recognised and respected in the world
-IT opened the doors to others such as pharma, manufacturing and mining . There is need for Indian cos to acquire foreign assets in energy, agribz and forestry.
-prospects for the Indianisation of global bz good based on two fundamentals: The large and growingIndian economy and market give a walmart advantage to Indian cos. The abundant young and skilled Indian human resources will be an advantage vis-a-vis the ageing developed societies facing skill shortages.
-Economic Diplomacy will bring value addition to the Indian bz going global through facilitation and promotion.

Speech to Poondi college students 21 November 2006

The topic was " Poondi to Punta Arenas" The audience was about 300 plus students of second year post graduation and faculty. The objective of the speech was to inspire the students from this rural college,where I had graduated.

I spoke about the challenges I had faced and the opportunities opening up for the students in the 21st century.

My first challenge was linguistic. After having studied in Tamil medium in the school, I had problems in the English medium college. The second challenge was agricultural. My family wanted me to be a farmer and did not see the use of college education. The third was cultural challenge. I had developed inferiority complex in the college with my village background After joining the Foreign service, I faced cultural challenges in adopting to the high profile diplomatic world. Latin America had challenged me culturally when I was posted there. I have been able to overcome these, regain self-confidence and be myself after my Latin America experience.

I was able to realise my dream of travelling to the farthest place ( Punta Arenas ) because I was lucky to find the college so close to my village. If it was not for that, I would not have gone to a college.

The youth of today are lucky to have before them a new era, new india and a new world and exciting times ahead. The new era of information and knowledge society has empowered the youth. Through computer and IT they can connect, communicate, collaborate and compete with the world. The new India is emerging as an economic power and indian business is going global. Indians have gained global recognition and admiration, thanx to the IT success.The globalising world is an opportunity to the young Indians in India as well as in the developed world which is becoming old and will face shortage of skilled human resources.

I advised the students to keep up the hunger for sucess and thirst for knowledge. They also need to have some imagination and craziness to keep them flying above the reality which could be daunting and discouraging.I narrated many stories and jokes and kept them animated

Thursday, December 28, 2006

empowerment of rural women

During the visit to my village last week, I saw for myself the evidence of effective empowerment of women. My niece Punita, age 28 has been elected as the president of Panchayat board of Karaimeendarkottai village. This was incredible since i had always known her as a shy and simple rustic girl. Now she is totally transformed. She has become a confident, assertive and ambitious leader. There is a new glint in her eyes and grit in her approach. She told me about her priority to improve the village water supply system. She has ordered the village clerk that bulbs should be replaced immediately when they fuse out. She said proudly that in the last one month of her presidency the village looks bright whereas it used to be dark earlier. She talked about her responsibility to the voters who have placed confidence in her ability to deliver.

What is more important is that she has managed to overcome in two months the rigid caste system which has stayed for over two thousand years. Until the elections, she had never set foot in the harijan street. But during the campaign, she visited every harijan house and requested them individually for votes. She now sits with the three Harijan members in the Board meetings.

Punita talks proudly about the close contest in which she won with 44 votes margin unseating a family which was controlling the Panchayat for the last three decades. She is conscious of the potential troubles the defeated party will cause for her and her family. But she is prepared and brave. She is also realistic that her husband would interfere with her work and use her position to do his own things.

Punita is the beneficiary of the new Panchayat System in which some panchayat presidencies are reserved for women.

But there is a downside to the victory of Punita. She has spent 1.5 lakhs of rupees in the campaign of which half is debt. How does she repay the debt? There is no salary or legitimate income. She gets only a honorarium of 500 rupees. She has been advised that she should get commission from the contracts. She will lose her innocence and enter into the world of corruption !

Another sign of the emergence of women power was in my college at Poondi, which has now opened its doors for women students. There are ten girls from my village and 18 from my neighbouring village studying in the college now. This includes my other niece, Anita, who wants to study computer science.These girls after college studies are not going to stay at the staus quo home. They would seek changes and progress. They would become the leaders of emancipation for a better future for their children, families and the villages.

This is progress and indeed the beginning of a rural revolution !

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Upcoming Speeches- December-February

I have been invited to give a speech on 21 December at my alma mater, Poondi Pushpam college. The audience will be about 200 post graduate students and faculty.
The title of my talk will be "Poondi to Punta Arenas", the same topic on which i wrote an article for the college magazine. I will talk about the challenges of growing up in a village and the opportunities for the gennext.

On 22 December I will give a talk at the Bharatidhasan Insitute of Management, Trichy. My topic before the MBA graduate students is " India Inc going global". I will talk about the value addition to this pheneomenon by the Economic Diplomacy. Indian bz going global is not just about business or market or money. It is about mind. It is a statement of the new mindset of Indian bzmen and the arrival of the new india in the globalising world.

On 22 January, I will give a talk at the Faculty of Management Studies of Delhi University. The theme will be on the globalising Indian business

On 23 February, I have been invited by the Amity Business School to give a talk on Latin America.

I look forward to the speech opportunities, since they open the tap of creativity and excite the faculty of imagination. Talking especially before the young people, getting their attention, capturing their imagination, making them laugh, provoking them to think and shocking them with Latino stories and jokes is great fun.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Inheritance of Loss - book by Kiran Desai

This Booker Prize winning novel puts together the story of three typical Indian characters: Patel, a retired judge and settled in Kalimpong with his dog and servant; Sai, his grand daughter, the convent-educated girl who comes to live with him and falls in love with Gyan the Nepali; and Biju the son of the servant who goes to United States, struggles there and comes back disillusioned. The three main characters have one thing in common. They are misfits in the place they live. The judge, after his British education and Colonial service becomes unIndian, after having alienated himself consciously from native Indians. The convent-educated girl and the rich retirees inKalimpong are foreigners, talking a foreign language and living in another world amidst the poverty and backwardness of Kalimpong. Biju is a misfit in USA caught between the illegal immigrants who confuse him and the Americans whom he does not understand.

The dilemma and internal conflicts of westernised Indians in India caught between the Gymkhana club culture and the poor folk who steal the dog of Patel is a continuing reality. The story of Gorkhaland struggle in the region which disrupts the life of all the characters is a reflection of what one sees in the television news in India day after day. I do not remember watching Indian TV news without strikes, agitations, burning of buses, demonstrations, clash with police, insurgencies, problems of Kashmiris, Maoists, Dalits, Muslims and political party workers. What Naipaul calls as the land of million mutinies ! Disruption goes on every day in some part of India or other in the name of religion, language, region, caste and culture.

Kiran Desai's story-telling is natural and her characters are unforgettable. In the clash of cultures in Kalimpong she lets even love end up unromantically after confusing and contradictory emotions which collide innocently and unintentionally. The India, which comes out from the novel is the unvarnished,uninterpreted and unromantic country of dilemmas and contradictions for the Indians who outgrow India.

Only an Indian could fully understood and appreciate the novel with its typically Indian situations, language and even jokes. It is, therefore, interesting that the Booker prize selectors had chosen this for the international audience. May be the world is trying to understand the India of what it actually is, rather than for the BPOs and IT strength ! Why not? We, in India have been reading and understanding the local cultures and customs of England, Europe and USA.

It is amazing that Kiran Desai has captured the Indian spirit and struggle although she has been living in England and USA since the age of 14. And she is said to be the youngest woman writer to win the Booker at the age of 35.

I was disappointed with the " Goddess of small things" for which Arundati Roy got the same Booker prize. Her book did not appeal to me at all. That is why I started reading Kiran Desai with skepticism. Kiran Desai deserves the prize and she is promising.