Gold

Gold

I am in the middle of reading Shashi Tharoor’s An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India. If you have been living under a rock like I was, then you may not have heard about his Oxford debate where he smashed his contemporaries on why Britain should do reparations to India.

At this time, I chanced on the movie Gold in Amazon Prime. What perfect timing! A movie about India’s first Olympic gold medal – as a free country. The movie stars Akshay Kumar as a sports manager of the British India National Hockey team, and their ability to keep winning the Olympic gold for British India. History buffs and hockey buffs (preferably both) would be quick to point out that during that time the team was led by the Wizard of Hockey, Dhyan Chand.

For the sake of preserving identities of the negative roles, the names have been changed, and Dhyan Chand is portrayed by Kunal Kapoor as the legendary captain Pritam. If you do not know who is Dhyan Chand, please stop reading and head on to the wiki link. India was well known in the history of hockey largely due to this chap. We owned the international circuit from 1928 (per-independance) up till as late as 1980. Pretty much the time cricket took over as the national craze and the national sport lost its crowds. Ironically, in 2014 when Dhyan Chand’s name was being considered for Bharat Ratna (the highest civilian award in India), it was never nominated and the award winner was none other than apna Sachin! (aila!)

But I digress, this is about the movie, and not a diatribe about hockey losing out to cricket!

The movie is about getting India’s first Olympic gold, and how the main character in the story (a Bengali team manager played by Akshay Kumar) helps the team get its gold. This under the backdrop of the partition and post independence struggles that the new country faces makes for a riveting story.

Bollywood has oft taken an anti-Pakistan stance in the past, and it’s very easy to take this stance. However, you should see how this movie has spun the entire India-Pakistan tale. It’s heart-rending and one might wonder … a magnificent what-if … our national leaders back then were brave and foolhardy to take such a decision then. What stops from doing something equally foolish now?

History tells us the outcome of this story … India dominated the hockey scene for a long time. However, the story also talks about the role of administration in ensuring that the sport has enough backing. In the chaos of IPL and slogans like fan banna padega … I ask you this … what about our national sport? I wish this movie had done much better on the box office, it deserves to be scene, not only for the acting – but also for the narrative.

The tragedy behind Indian IT Services

Understanding Indian IT Companies (TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL Tech, TechM)

via Understanding Indian IT Companies (TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL Tech, TechM) —

An excellent infographic of the top IT/ITES providers in the country.

The bulk of the revenue comes from abroad, and this seems to be a problem. As technology keeps getting more simpler and easier to adopt, the reason to outsource the contract to another country will keep going down.

Combine this with the recent spate of visa issues, and you have one impending slump in the near future.

Stuttering Start-ups

Stayzilla, an Airbnb for homestays in India, is closing down its service. The company was founded six years ago and had raised $34 million from investors, including a $20 million Series B in 2015. Now is the time to pause and “reboot” however, CEO and co-founder Yogendra Vasupal explained in a blog post. The company reached a…

via Stayzilla, India’s Airbnb for homestays, closes its service — TechCrunch

Another one bites the dust, as start-ups and investors start rethinking their approach to creating unicorns. One of the largest ones being discussed (and also a poster child for Indian e-commerce) is Snapdeal, who in a recent email announced a lay-off of more than 1000 employees.

So why do it in the first place?

Well, it was good while it lasted, and at least the team that started it knows that they gave it their best and things did not work out – due to whichever reasons … be it a bad business model or unbalanced promotions, or whatever.

Over the years, investors have also become much more skeptical on which businesses would they put their money in.

Invest smart!

One of the things that peeves me off is that the investor success stories which have 1000% gains and great exits had the investors not just invest money, but also time and efforts in different capacities.

As someone who works with multiple ideas, one of the key components that I myself do not have much is time. Money is a transient thing, sometimes you are floating in it, sometimes you do not have much to spare. However, as time goes by … one of the key assets that people should look at is the time required to nurture that unicorn.

If that time is not there, then its best that you don’t put in the money – thinking that some smart people will grow that money and give you handsome returns. Somewhere in that dynamic, people are forgetting to create sustainable value.

What is Sustainable Value?

Any transaction happens because of both the parties seeing a certain economic value in that transaction. A buyer gets a good or a service for a price that he can afford. A seller gets a reasonable price for goods/services that he/she are providing.

For a time being, the buyer or seller can extract more value from the market. This could work due to information asymmetry (or third degree arbitrage). However, as information is made available to every user and as customer discovery becomes faster and smoother, this arbitrage is being worn down.

So, how does sustainable value come from … simple, it comes from fair play, it comes from co-operation and knowing that co-operation is the winning strategy when it comes to game theory.

How many start-ups get the sustainable value creation point is something that I am most interested in.

 

Living without Cash

Oh my god! The Modi government has made a huge announcement today. All 500 INR and 1000 INR notes have been invalidated in one fell swoop.

Banks are closed the next two days and ATMs wont be operating more than 2000 INR until the end of the year.

अब की बार मोदी सरकार। नोटों की बजा दी जोरदार।

 

Net Neutrality or Why I have picked up Tor

The recent Net Neutrality debate has me scared.

The very notion that the internet (which has always been considered as a free medium) needs to be regulated and controlled by a select few gives me the creeps.

India has been always pro for regulation, and this has resulted in fewer scams, but take the Telecom bandwidth licensing issues for e.g. The whole reason why telecom companies are crying out murder against OTT (read the internet) services is this.

Continue reading “Net Neutrality or Why I have picked up Tor”