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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Documentaries, the 'true stories'

"Documentaries claim to reveal the truth about a particular aspect of the socio-historical world, and they do so dispassionately and objectively... In its exposition, the documentary normally employs a narrative not altogether different from the classic narrative structure of a fiction film. Both forms of moving image obey the grammar and semantics of cinematic language; the documentary generating its meaning primarily through conventions of naturalism and realism (Silverstone 1986; Collins 1986)... The discourse of the documentary, therefore, straddles two domains: in its ontological claims it privileges the 'truth,' while its aesthetic is strongly narrative in character. Documentaries are in a sense 'true stories,' and their poetics resonate with the ambiguities contained in that oxymoron... Renov suggests that poetic language in narration, music to heighten moods and characters as ideal-types are aspects of fictive elements in the documentary. The blurring of 'truth' and fiction become more pronounced in the case of news footage... Particularly significant in this context is the staging of the allegedly 'live' coverage of the night-time 'rescue' of Lynch, captured on night-vision camera and edited into a five minute film by the Pentagon for release to the networks."
(Ramaswami Harindranath in 'Audience-Citizens: The media, public knowledge and interpretive practice,' p. 108 Sage)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Displacement in the Gir sanctuary

"When our field team visited the resettlement sites the villagers spoke of their sufferings. Their animals could not settle at the new sites and some died during the initial two or three years. The resettlement site faced a shortage of fodder and water due to the acute shortage of water and fodder in the area, which did not allow the cattle to survive. The Maldharis had to fetch drinking water from sources that were 2-3 kilometres from their homes. They had to till the land - something they had never done before - resulting in the migration of families. Since they were just learning to far, the initial two years were spent without any gainful employment. They learned how to till their land from farming communities like the Patels in their vicinity. They also worked on fields owned by traditional farmers, where, if father and son worked together, they got paid as one person. Most Maldharis gave their farms to others to cultivate; they themselves, including women and children, work as labourers. The Maldharis have lost their cultural identity."
(Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar in 'Land Acquisition, Displacement and Resettlement in Gujarat: 1947-2004,' p. 132 Sage)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

You shall be blessed four times over

"Make your ever-decreasing life your shop, and make the Lord's name your merchandise. Make understanding and contemplation your warehouse, and in that warehouse, store the Lord's name. Deal with the Lord's dealers, earn your profits, and rejoice in your mind. Let your trade be listening to scripture, and let truth be the horses you take to sell. Gather up merits for your travelling expenses, and do not think of tomorrow in your mind. When you arrive in the land of the formless Lord, you shall find peace in the mansion of His presence. Let your service be the focusing of your consciousness, and let your occupation be the placing of faith in the naam. Let your work be restrain from sin; only then will people call you blessed. Nanak, the lord shall look upon you with His glance of grace, and you shall be blessed with honour four times over."
('Precious Gems of Wisdom: Guru Nanak,' compiled by Renuka Vishwanathan, p. 84 Magna)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Salwa

"Salwa frowned. Self-appointed chief of the women's section of the lab, she was a short, quick, sturdy woman who strode about with a pencil behind her ear and her burqa flipped up. It rested on her crown like a coronet; and she wore it just as imperiously. In the rare event that a man peered in at the door, the other women always scrambled to find their burqas and fasten them on, whispering apologies and hiding their faces in fear. But Salwa, whose burqa was always at the ready, would stare defiantly at the intruder. If she determined that the man was someone who might report back to her boss, she would grudgingly draw the pencil from behind her ear and use it to roll the burqa down, just as a medieval mullah might unscroll a parchment for an illiterate king."
(Zoƫ Ferraris in 'The Night of the Mi'raj,' p. 64 Hachette)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Handling questions

"Question time can be a challenge. There is a clear power shift as the audience moves from 'having to listen' to 'having their say'. What may have been a monologue until now, moves into being a dialogue!"
"Handling questions and managing question time is one of the most strategic parts of any presentation - it can make or break the whole performance."
"If your view is that you want to talk with an audience and not to them - then you will recognise question time for what is - a fantastic opportunity to change gear! It is another chance to engage with the audience and include them in your presentation."
"If they have questions, it is because they are interested. They may be looking for greater clarity, or for more detail; they may have an observation to make. Whatever their intention, it is up to you to manage the process and ensure that everyone takes value from it."
(Mark Barnes and Mary-Jane Barnes in 'Stand and Deliver: A master class in making powerful presentations,' p. 122 Westland)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Team Toboggan

"This is a group activity, which encourages people to work and play together... Ask participants to remove their shoes. Divide them into teams of five or so and ask them to sit toboggan-style on the floor - with their feet in the lap of the person in front of them and their hands on the person's shoulders. This means that the only part of their body in contact with the floor will be their bottom. The only person who can use their hands or feet is the person at the head of the line. Let them know that this is going to be a race between the teams and the goal is to be the first to move 10 metres to reach the finish line. Judge your group! For those who will play this is quite a fun interlude."
(Mark Barnes in 'Serious Fun: Adding buzz to meeting, training and communications,' p. 165 Westland)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why discriminate against the chocolate lover

"For years, every time we'd go into a hotel room, I'd rant about how the hoteliers were discriminating against the chocolate lover. There was always a coffee maker on the counter. Couldn't they throw a few packets of instant hot cocoa in the basket? How hard would that be?"
(Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Patricia Lorenz in 'Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul: Indulging in our sweetest moments,' p. 78 Westland)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The third certainty

“There used to be two certainties in life – death and taxes. Now there are three – death, taxes and the inevitability that your computer system will go down and you’ll lose all your precious data if you haven’t backed it up.”
“There’s no doubt about it, computers are fantastic. That is, until they inexplicably stop working. When that happens things are not quite so jolly (trust us – as writers we’ve been there). What you need, of course, is some form of insurance. Bear with us here – the point is not whether you know about backing up, it is whether everything necessary is, in fact, being done. There is no worse time to hit a problem than when times are tough (and the problem could have been avoided).”
“During difficult times, you need to keep an eye on the bottom line. You are naturally concerned with saving costs and not wasting money. But the real bottom line is that you can’t manage without your IT system. It doesn’t matter whether your organisation is minute (one person – i.e. you) or huge (we’re talking world domination league here), no business can manage without computers…”
“Computers enable vast amounts of work to be produced quickly, information processed at the press of a button, and presented professionally. But for some unknown reason of mechanical, electrical or alien force, all your work can suddenly disappear without a trace. Frighteningly, it is usually irrecoverable.”
“The professional (and personal) data on your hard drive is, without doubt, the most important and valuable thing inside your computer. Scary as this thought is, it is the only part of your computer that cannot be replaced. It may be irritating and sometimes expensive replacing a failed memory chip, or even a processor, but there is no replacing data once it is lost. This is why you must set up – at the earliest possible opportunity if you haven’t already done so – a back-up system.”
(Patrick Forsyth and Frances Kay in ‘Tough Tactics for Tough Times: How to maintain business success in difficult economic conditions,’ p. 103, Viva)

Monday, March 23, 2009

CRO, the chief reputation officer

“Much as companies appoint a chief financial officer to safeguard financial capital, a chief operating officer to monitor operations, and a chief information officer to control and manipulate corporate databases, so might they benefit from appointing a chief reputation officer (CRO) to watch over the company’s intangible assets. As PR consultant Alan Towers suggests: ‘The CRO’s tactical responsibilities would include oversight of pricing, advertising, quality, environmental compliance, investor relations, public affairs, corporate contributions, and employee, customer and media relations. Rather than literally do each of these jobs, the CRO would act as a corporate guide, working with specialists in each area to help them see the reputation consequences of their decisions. If necessary, the CRO could impose an opinion…’”
(Charles J. Fombrun in ‘Reputation: Realizing value from the corporate image,’ p. 197 HBS)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Software piracy

“In some cases, piracy is vendor driven. It happens as follows: some vendors provide their software drivers for devices like CDROM, DVD etc., only for popular operating systems (OS) like Windows. Actually, the device per se may be OS-independent (i.e., it can work with other OS); however, lack of availability of the software driver on the OS of choice denies the user the right to use it with any other OS. The user has purchased the device, but is denied the ability to use it, and this is unfair. This forces the user to use only that particular operating system, putting a financial burden of purchasing the operating system. Traders in many countries install pirated software on the desktop computers they sell, for sweetening their deals. Hackers too enable piracy by ripping many entertainment software and distributing them.”
“Generally, desktop software like those from Microsoft and Adobe are pirated. Server software like those for web servers, applications servers and mainframe simulators too are no exception. Creative tools like graphics tools, web content creation tools and multimedia software are pirated too. Probably the latest victims of piracy are the gaming software vendors.”
“Piracy is rampant in countries where enforcement of IPR laws is not strict. Often piracy is committed by individual users, small and medium businesses (SMBs), and training institutes. Large corporations too end up with pirated software for various reasons such as not tracking the software assets for number of licences, and use of pirated software by employees without the knowledge of the corporation. SMBs, training institutes and large corporations can be classified as incremental pirates since their software usage may exceed the limit set by the vendor.”
(K. Venkatesh in ‘Marketing of Information Technology: Concepts, products, services and intellectual property rights,’ p. 65, TMH)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reverse income statement

“As the name suggests, a reverse, or upside down, income statement starts with the bottom line and works backward into what the rest of the business must accomplish to deliver that bottom line, consistent with the idea of building the plan from the frame you established… It’s a powerful tool that can help make sure your ideas are imbued with reality. All too often, companies simply don’t do the disciplined thinking that forces them to articulate what must be accomplished. They assume ‘things will work themselves out because the opportunity is big’ and end up with costly disappointments. For instance, a number of companies in the voice- and speech-recognition industries made the mistake of looking at rosy market size and growth numbers and projecting that all they needed was a tiny fraction of all that business. Most have foundered when their segment was slow to take off, and most applications haven’t yet gone mainstream.”
(Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian C. MacMillan in ‘Discovery-Driven Growth: A breakthrough process to reduce risk and seize opportunity,’ p. 123 TMH)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Content and commerce are fragmented

“Imagine this: You are planning a trip to Rome. You are looking for a hotel around Piazza di Spagna, but not something large and impersonal – which rules out the Hassler Villa Medici. You like smaller bed-and-breakfasts, with charm, warmth, character. You want an online travel agent who can understand your needs and preferences, and find you not only the right hotel but really interesting restaurants, boutiques and shows all aligned with your taste. Normally, you use Guide du Routard as your travel guide, but today there is still a gulf between travel guides and online travel-booking sites – in other words, content and commerce are fragmented. In Web 3.0, you will see content and commerce finally come together in a big way, no longer forcing you to hop from site to site to get one job done.”
“On this same trip, you would love to meet local people who share your interests – say, cooking, jazz, opera. In Web 3.0, you will see the community elements of Web 2.0 pulled into context, making it as easy to find new friends with common interests, even in a distant city, as it is to book a hotel room.”
(Sramana Mitra in ‘Entrepreneur Journeys – Volume 1: How to stop looking for a job… and start up your life’s work,’ p. 47, Hachette)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Business process

“How do you identify a business process? First, business processes are typically supported by an operational system. For example, the billing business process is supported by a billing system; the same is true for the purchasing and ordering processes.”
“Second, business processes typically generate (or collect) unique measurements to gauge organisational performance. These metrics can be a direct result of the process, or they can be derived from the process outcome. For example, the ‘sales ordering’ business process supports numerous reports and analytics, such as customer profitability and sales rep performance.”
“Third, business processes are usually triggered by an input, and result in output that needs to be monitored. For example, an accepted proposal is input to the ordering process, which results in a sales order and its metrics. In most organisations, you can identify a series of business processes, in which outputs from one process become inputs to the next.”
(Robert E. Kennedy in ‘The Services Shift: Seizing the ultimate offshore opportunity,’ p. 99 Pearson)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Public, non-public

“Public service professions have ambiguous relationships with politics and power. At a minimum they are both public servants and government servants, working with and on publics. As such they are active in process of classifying, constituting and managing publics… Ruppert (2006) talks about the ‘moral economy’ of public planning in Toronto, where redevelopment aimed to solicit ‘good’ publics and exclude the less desirable. She argues that planning discourses articulated a distinction between public groups and non-public groups. Public groups included those who bring economic benefits: office workers, people with a higher disposable income, shoppers, entertainments seekers, high-end retailers, students, and tourists. Publics who were also solicited included social groups that were not likely to disrupt or threaten the social character of the economic regeneration project: residents of the area, the elderly, families and children. Non-public groups, in contrast, included categories such as teenagers, marginalised youth, vagrants, discount stores, drug dealers, loiterers, illegal vendors, gangs and ‘interlopers’.”
(Janet Newman and John Clarke in ‘Publics, Politics & Power: Remaking the public in public services,’ p. 119 Sage)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Concrete for the contented

"Gated communities have indeed become the new suburbia. With iron or stone walls surrounding hundreds of acres of formerly good forests, these self-contained communities are sequestered from the gorgeous turmoil of the organic world. In almost all these communities, one finds, after passing security, uniform one-acre plots surrounding a handful of stereotypical architectural styles: Tudors, Cape Cods, chateaux, and Italian villas. These houses likely come from a catalog of prefabricated plans. Many of these communities contain their own amenities - franchised stores, shops, restaurants. One need not ever leave the comfortable fold, unless one drives one's SUV into town to work a job or to purchase specialty items. What does this new trend signify but an increasing unwillingness to live in the world as it really is: unpredictable, unrepeatable, heterogeneous? We have forsaken the concrete for the contented."
(Eric G. Wilson in 'Against Happiness,' p. 56 Landmark)

Monday, March 16, 2009

The question of liquidity risk remains open

“Any investor buying or holding a security or a portfolio of securities is exposed to liquidity risk. By liquidity risk we mean the gap between the fundamental value of a security and the price at which the sale of the security is actually transacted. High liquidity means this gap is small. As liquidity decreases, the size of the gap increases. Liquidity risk is the uncertainty of how wide or narrow this gap will be at any point in time. All investors and potential investors bear liquidity risk. Furthermore, this is a risk that is not fully diversifiable, as it is a systematic risk. The natural next question then is whether the systematic portion of liquidity risk is priced. In other words, do investors command a risk premium for bearing liquidity risk? ...”
“Despite its importance to practitioners and academics, there has been relatively little empirical research devoted to this topic, and the results seem to be mixed. The main problem is almost a catch-22 in that liquidity is correlated to trading. The very securities that are thinly traded, where liquidity problems are profound, are the ideal candidates for examining liquidity and liquidity risk. However, these thinly traded securities by definition have very little trade data associated with them. There are no data because there is no trading, which is exactly the reason why one wants to study the liquidity risk of these securities. As a result, much of the empirical and theoretical research that has been done on liquidity risk has been done so in the highly liquid US equities market. It is not surprising then that the question of liquidity risk remains open…”
(George Chacko in ‘Liquidity Risk in Financial Markets,’ an essay in ‘Innovations in Investment Management: Cutting-edge research,’ edited by H. Gifford Fong, p. 156 Viva)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Filter the information and remove the ‘distracting noise’

“The most significant point about writing skills in management is that it is completely different from what most people were taught about writing… Management writing has very little to do with the composition and literature you learnt at school: the objectives are different; the audience has different needs; and the rewards can be far greater. As a young executive or an entrepreneur, you write for a very distinct and restricted purpose, which is best achieved through brevity and simplicity.”
“In school you are taught to display knowledge: knowledge of English and the topic being written about. The more information and argument you wrote, the more marks you got. In industry, it is exactly the reverse. Here the wise executive must extract only the significant information and support it with only the minimum amount of argument. The expertise is used to filter the information and remove the ‘distracting noise.’”
“People in business do not have the time to marvel at flowery language or your poetic imagery. They quickly want to know what the memo is about; there is no real interest in style, except for ease of access. Your report or memo is primarily designed to convey information. Sure, your job is helped if the report is interesting; but the time is short and the sooner the meat of the document is reached, the better.”
“Today’s senior managers have a lot to do all the time; they are busy and distracted. On a top manager’s table, your document has possibly 20 seconds to justify itself. If by then it has not explained itself and convinced someone that they need to read it, they will go on to tackle something else. If this person is a good manager, he will insist on a rewrite; if not, the document may never be read.”
(Raghu Nandan in ‘Unleashing Your Entrepreneurial Potential,’ p. 54 Response)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Disownment

“Being taken into the confidence of women like Maya is not something I will ever take for granted. I see it as a privilege that someone who has suffered so much chooses to take me into their trust, and if by listening I can help them I am glad. But I never feel I’m on a one-way street. Hearing these women’s stories helps me too. Each new reminder that my experience – often magnified in horror a hundred times – is shared by so many other women vindicates my decision to leave my family and then stand up and tell the world exactly why I couldn’t stay with them.”
“Also – and I’m at last beginning to accept this – sharing their pain allows me to forgive myself for the fact that even now, all these years on, my disownment sometimes makes me ache inside. Sometimes I have a dream about my funeral so vivid that I can see the cemetery and my coffin and the kids and the friends I hope would be there but then, in my mind’s eye, there’s a gap where my family should be standing. No one from my family comes to say goodbye to me, not a single one. Sometimes when I dream that I wake to find tears rolling down my cheeks and I can hardly breathe because my heart feels so heavy. When that happens I scramble out of bed because the feeling is so intense I think it’s going to crush me. But even when I’m wide awake and thinking rationally – as I’m standing in the shower with the water drumming on my head, beating the nonsense out of me – there are days when the thought that the dream might come true still hurts.”
(Jasvinder Sanghera in ‘Daughters of Shame,’ p. 237, Hachette)

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Hungry Stones

“At last my guide stopped before a dark blue curtain and seemed to point to something underneath. There was nothing there, but the blood in my chest froze with fear. In front of the curtain a fearsome African eunuch sat with drawn sword in his lap, legs sprawled out, dozing. The guide tiptoed over his legs and lifted a corner of the curtain. Behind it was a room spread with Persian carpets: I could not see who was sitting on the couch, but I saw two feet lazily resting on a pink velvet footstool, beautiful feet in brocade slippers peeping out of loose saffron pyjamas. On the floor near by was a bluish crystal bowl with apples, pears, oranges and grapes; and next to this there were two small goblets and a glass decanter of golden wine ready for a guest. From within the room, a strange intoxicating incense enthralled me.”
“I was nerving myself to step over the sprawled legs of the eunuch, but he suddenly woke – his sword fell on to the stone floor with a clatter. There was a horrible yell, and I found myself sitting on my camp-bed, soaked with sweat. It was dawn: the thin moon was pale as a sleepless invalid, and our local madman, Meher Ali, was walking as usual down the empty early morning road shouting, ‘Keep away, keep away!’”
(Rabindranath Tagore in ‘The Hungry Stones,’ translated from the Bengali by William Radice, and included in ‘The Best Books Ever Written: Free sample chapters,’ p. 97, Penguin)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Prayer

“When Raza had finished scrubbing his feet, the green-eyed man gestured him towards the prayer space – next to one leafless tree with branches the colour of the men’s pattusis – where all the occupants of the camp were lining up in rows. Guns hung, like metallic fruit, from the tree’s branches. Raza saw that most of the men were younger than he was, some younger than Abdullah even. The setting sun dulled all the sharp edges of the world, everything aglow or in shadows. It was cooler now, and silent. All at once, Raza saw the beauty in the moment and it was with a true sense of reverence, such as he had never felt before, that he laid his pattusi on the ground and stepped on it. Abdullah turned to look at him and the two boys nodded and smiled shyly at each other as though they were both on their way to meet their future brides and recognised something of their own emotions – the tangle of exhilaration and fear – in each other’s eyes. Raza Hazara woke up, looked upon the world, and found it extraordinary.”
“The man leading the prayer recited ‘Bismillah’ in a voice that carried across the mountains. Even the sky here was different to anything Raza had seen before, stained in unusual hues of violet.”
“He felt the words of prayer enter his mouth from a place of pure faith. He had occasionally felt this before, but never so intensely. More often, prayer came to him from his mind, as memorised words with little meaning attached. But in that moment, though he still didn’t know the literal translation of what he was saying, he found meaning in every muttered syllable of Arabic: Lord, Allah, let me escape this place, deliver me, deliver me.”
“And following that thought was this one: Give these men Your blessing.”
(Kamila Shamsie in ‘Burnt Shadows,’ p.229, Penguin)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Success and failure of financial institutions

“The first sentence of Anna Karenina, one of Tolstoy’s best-known novels, famously observes that while ‘all happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ And yet when it comes to ‘unhappy’ financial institutions that suffered losses, assorted problems, or outright ruin over the past decade, most of them were, in essence, Darwinian failures that had a great deal in common. Executives at these institutions lacked strategic vision and did not understand the changed financial landscape. Some of these executives were confused about the nature of their firm’s business models altogether – for instance, failing to realise that unhedged ‘originate, securitise, and sell’ operations were fee-based businesses only while securitisation markets were functioning. These institutions lacked adequate risk management capabilities and processes. Many of them – unwilling to evolve or incapable of evolving – clung to static business models, progressively descending into the ‘bloody red oceans’ of commoditised businesses with compressing margins. Eventually, this resulted in greater leverage, misunderstood risks, and inevitable sad endings.”
(Leo M. Tilman in ‘Financial Darwinism: Create value or self-destruct in a world of risk,’ p. 133, Wiley)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dibyendu Ganguly and Bonny

“Of all his relatives, he liked plump, bubbly Bonny the best. Dibyendu had always had a horror of women who wore designer clothes, exuded clouds of expensive perfume and spoke in high-pitched nasal voices with fake NRI accents. Already tall and bulky, he seemed to suddenly gain further height and girth in the presence of such women, becoming bull-like and blundering, with his hands and feet ballooning clumsily. He invariably fumbled, dropped his glasses, sent a chair crashing in his nervousness and ran into painful grammatical obstacles in his speech with his respiration becoming heavy, noisy and erratic. But Bonny, he thought with approval and affection, was different. Just his kind of person. She did not threaten his peace of mind by dressing up, choosing to keep all her distracting zones covered discreetly with loose-fitting clothes. And neither did she come charging at him with her breasts thrust out, waving her femininity like a red flag (like some of these modern young women). Nor did she simper, blush or go overboard with make-up. There was a clean heartiness to her androgynous manner, and gender – her breeziness seemed to suggest – was as inconsequential as boiled potatoes or aubergines…”
(Kankana Basu in ‘Cappuccino Dusk,’ p. 32, Harper Collins)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Enough happiness

“Lih Mei Liao, a consultant clinical psychologist at University College London, recently reported in the British Medical Journal how demand for cosmetic genital surgery, called genitoplasty, is growing with astonishing rapidity. The number of labial reductions in the NHS has doubled in the past five years, despite the fact that the operation carries serious risks such as the loss of sexual sensitivity.”
“To find out why genitoplasty is becoming so popular, she interviewed women who had undergone the operation, and found that more and more Western females are troubled by the shape, size or proportions of their vulvas. The patients consistently wanted their vulvas to be flat, with no protrusion beyond the labia majora, ‘even though there is nothing unusual about protrusion of the labia minora or clitoris beyond the labia majora,’ she says. Some women brought along images to illustrate the appearance they desired, and these were ‘usually from adverts or pornography that may have been digitally altered.’ Such pictures are prompting an entirely new question for figure-conscious females to fret about: ‘Does my front-bottom look big in this?’”
“Lih and her colleague, Sarah Creighton of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women’s Health, caution that the media-led trend may seriously distort young women’s body-image even further in pursuit of some kind of Photoshopped perfection: ‘The increased demand may reflect a narrowing social definition of normal, or a confusion of what is normal and what is idealised. Genitoplasty could narrow acceptable ranges further and increase the demand for surgery even more.’”
“Vaginas are only the leading edge of our endeavours to improve our physical selves far beyond the level of enoughness – a process that so often backfires because picking on innocent bits of our bodies and blaming them for our inbuilt dissatisfaction tends to produce only an enhanced sense of self-disgust.”
(John Naish in ‘Enough: Breaking free from the world of excess,’ p. 189, Hachette)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Strategic error

“In the mid-1990s, when mobile phone services were launched, marketers made one very costly strategic error. They confused purchase with consumption and paid the price for it. They focused on the sale of mobile phone instruments and assumed that, once purchased, the handsets would be used. There is nothing to fault this logic on the surface, except for the fact that the price of a call was pegged at Rs 16 per minute. This served to scare away the consumer. So, while mobile phone instruments were sold, airtime was woefully under utilised.”
(Jagdeep Kapoor in '24 Brand Mantras: Finding a place in the minds and hearts of consumers,’ second edition, p. 51 Sage)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

ESP for successful selling

“Enthusiasm, Sincerity and Perseverance (ESP) are the three pins of the socket that electrifies selling. These three qualities convert a traveller into a salesman, a person who makes calls into a person who generates sales.”
“The professional salesman believes in his product. He lives his product 24 hours of the day. It is not a chore. And when he lives his product, he feels and acts enthusiastic and consequently transmits enthusiasm. Smile, conviction and consistency are the signs of enthusiasm in a professional salesman…”
(Walter Vieira in ‘The New Professional Salesman: Meeting challenges in the 21st century,’ p. 27 Sage)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Emotional brevity

“For reasons of emotional brevity we chisel our perspective of a family member down to a symbol and this symbol gets further abstracted through the years so that even while casting rude or loving glances at them as the case may be, we do not let them leap about our cells like a debilitating cancer but having set the parameters around them go about our daily business with felicity.”
“Thus Malini was a uterus on account of her never-ending period problems, erratic bleeding, erratic behaviour that Beatrice referred to as meena-pause; Sujata was a misguided comet, the kind of woman who rushes to a gymnasium to tighten her buttocks when everything else in her life is falling apart; and Aditi was a clock that had lost its cuckoo…”
“Aditi… remained in a state of jet lag. In a time warp too. It was the third time I was seeing her since she had left and each time she appeared to me to have no sense of time or location. At the same time she did this funny thing, made everyone shift their clocks backwards for her. Go back twenty-five years to the time she had first left. Adjust themselves to her dated perception of them. The years in between she just wouldn’t believe. The strange part, mind you, was that though she still called Janpath by its old colonial name ‘Queen’s Way’ she kept herself twenty years ahead. Kept saying ‘Why does everyone in India make so much noise?’ ‘Why is no one worried about cholesterol? Casting an imperious glance over the Azadpur jhuggies one day, she pronounced, ‘It is now known and proven that asbestos roofs cause cancer.’ ‘So crude!’ she called Beatrice’s servants.”
(Amrita Kumar in ‘Damage,’ p. 115 Harper)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In a squirrel’s world

“The burrow was broad enough to fit a thousand walnuts and was so high that the best of the squirrels on their mightiest of jumps could not touch the ceiling. Zapp sensed that there was something strange about the burrow. There was something in the air that smelled of anticipation; the whole burrow would make one feel as if something exciting was going to happen the very next moment. There was complete silence and Zapp could hear his heart, the pace of which had quickened as if his engines were fuelled by the anticipation pervading the space…”
(Rachit Kinger in ‘Zapp: The squirrel who wanted to fly – a magical parable about living your dreams,’ p. 57 Wisdom Tree)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Superannuation industry in Australia

“A fundamental aspect of the Australian life insurance and retirement savings market is the extent to which risk and savings products have been unbundled. Although there are some products that combine both elements, they are a small minority of the total business and tend to take the form of an investment product with guarantees rather than an insurance policy with investment attributes.”
“The superannuation (retirement savings) industry has a legislated mandate to provide retirement savings for all working Australians and provides the vast majority of the retirement and savings infrastructure. This legislated mandate has seen the superannuation industry grow to US$1,036 billion in assets by 2007, making Australia the fourth-largest asset-management market globally. Furthermore, there have been recent discussions about increasing mandated superannuation contributions (potentially up to 15 per cent, from 9 per cent today), which could drive growth for at least the next 10-15 years. By contrast, the domestic life insurance market languishes in its shadows with US$224 billion in assets.”
(Stephan Binder and Joseph Luc Ngai in ‘Life Insurance in Asia: Winning the next decade,’ p. 154 Wiley)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Creative politics

“In the political scenario of north India today, popular politics has been converted into a very creative process in which mapping, reshaping and using popular aspirations and popular identities appear as major constituents. These popular aspirations and popular identities, however, are not always the creation of the communities themselves. Most often they are inspired and instigated by others, especially the state, political forces and dominant forces of society, which the communities follow either as replication or as reactions. This can be observed mainly in the case of marginalised communities where culture and not political oratory based on promises of indicators of development like access to health, education, roads, electricity and clean drinking water has emerged as an essential ingredient in the strategies of political parties to mobilise them. In this process, politics has transformed into a cultural act from a political act and the earlier forms of election campaigns like raising slogans, organising processions, strikes and rallies have given placed to organising celebrations, commemorations and installation of statues of local heroes of different castes, especially marginalised Dalit castes. Rather than building up obvious resources such as money, power, cadres and local leaders, invisible resources such as myths, memories, legends and symbols centring around local heroes of individual castes are being built up both to construct the identities of these castes and to pose them against other castes and communities with the aim of creating a division among them.”
(Badri Narayan in ‘Fascinating Hindutva: Saffron politics and Dalit mobilisation,’ p. 175 Sage)

Monday, March 2, 2009

War in the heart of India

“After years of trying a military response and failing to end the threat of armed Maoist insurgency, the Chhattisgarh government has decided to pit civilians against the Maoists and also against each other. We believe that as a method of combating Maoists – the Salwa Judum movement – has been a failure. The state cannot outsource law and order to underage, untrained and unaccountable civilians. From the year Salwa Judum started, civil strife has increased and the administration is on the verge of collapse. As an elected government which has sworn to uphold the Constitution, its blatant violation of human rights is completely unacceptable. The government has simultaneously stepped up police operations. These also hold the danger of leading to loss of civilian lives. What it has not done, and which is at the root cause of popular support to Maoists, is taking up development on a large scale such as building schools, primary health care centres, providing employment, and so on…”
(Independent Citizens’ Initiative in ‘War in the Heart of India,’ a chapter in ‘Human Rights and Peace: Ideas, laws, institutions and movements,’ edited by Ujjwal Kumar Singh, p. 190 Sage)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Stress

"Why is our digestion compromised - whether by ulcers, acid reflux, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome? The main reason is that when we are stressed, the body moves blood away from the digestive tract to the extremities. Even though we may be eating healthfully, we are in the wrong frame of mind. That, combined with the lack of proper blood supply in the organs of digestion and assimilation, means that we aren't breaking our food down properly. We're burning food improperly and inefficiently: the food is sitting there, but the body doesn't have the necessary energy and blood supply to digest it properly. We can eat all the organic foods we want, we can eat macrobiotically, we can ingest all the vitamins in the world, but if we can't metabolise our food properly, those efforts go for naught. We just might want to take a breath or two before our next meal, just to switch from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous systems..."
"Chronic stress is responsible for many of the aches and pains we experience. Our muscle cells are bathed in adrenaline for a flight-or-fight response. Adrenaline in small amounts acts like liquid energy for the entire body, especially for the muscles. When it ends up not being used, it sits in the tissues. That causes the muscles to get tight, get hard, contract, and feel sore..."
"Stress is unavoidable. The key is to limit the kind of stress we experience to acute stress, which is much less harmful to the body than chronic stress. Acute stress happens, it ends, and we have time to recover from it. Chronic stress allows our body no recovery time. This is when our body starts to steal energy from other vital processes. If our external protection system is working overtime, as it always does when we are living in survival mode, the internal protection system can't function as well. They are both drawing power from the same energy source, and when we constantly shift to emergency power, we're ultimately going to tax the system."
(Joe Dispenza in 'Evolve Your Brain: The science of changing your mind,' p. 284 Westland)