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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Titan Edge

"The prototypes were sent for testing to Chronofiable SA, Switzerland, a world-renowned independent Horological Testing Agency. There, the watches were subjected to a series of stringent tests like the high temperature test, low temperature test, temperature shock, exposure to vibrations of 50 hertz to 150 hertz, shock tests, bump tests and drop tests etc., all spread over a period of eight weeks. After these tests, the Titan Edge was certified as not just reliable, but also water-resistant up to thirty metres."
"They were also tested at Titan internally, and what's interesting is the way Dwarakanath tested it. He says, 'Sure the agencies test thoroughly. But somehow they can never replicate actual life conditions.' So he has what he calls the wall test, the floor test, the pool test and the Bangalore-Hosur road test. What this gentleman does is throw the Edge against a wall, and on the floor at different angles to check if it stays safe. He chucks it into a swimming pool and it's expected to work. Finally he ties it to the shock absorbers of his car and makes several trips on the terrible roads between Bangalore and Hosur, covering 200 km in all. The 'Edge' passed these tests too."
"The team had done the impossible. They had nailed history to their doorstep and created the world's slimmest water-resistant watch. And it all started with Xerxes Desai's orbit-shifting challenge to create the slimmest water-resistant watch in the world. A team that believed it didn't have the competency suddenly discovered talents they had no idea they had."
(Porus Munshi in 'Making Breakthrough Innovation Happen: How 11 Indians pulled off the impossible,' p. 164 Harper)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mare's milk

"One of the great fallacies accepted over the years is that Mongolians drink yak's milk. They certainly keep yaks, thousands of them in great herds over the plains of the wilderness, but for their wool only. Yaks produce very little milk, though, and airag, the fermented drink so associated with the country, in fact comes from mare's milk. Nemo showed us how it was produced. The milk is poured into a bag made from a cow's stomach, which holds nearly 80 litres. About 10 per cent is kept back each time as a master culture, and it is refilled each day with fresh milk. The bag is stirred vigorously with a paddle every time someone passes, to incorporate the new milk with the old. If children misbehave, they are punished by having to paddle the milk for an hour, and any visitor entering the tent is also expected to give the bag a good stir as a thank-you for the hospitality. It reaches a strength of around 5 per cent and remarkably, Nemo told us, Mongolians can drink as much as 5 litres a day. It is little wonder that they also have one of the highest rates of liver cirrhosis in the world."
"He passed round a bowl so we each got to try some. It was noxiously dreadful drink, tasting as you would imagine a musty bowl of white horse piss should taste. Other products we were offered, all made from horse milk, were equally unpleasant: a tough, sour curd biscuit; a 'vodka' distilled from horse-milk yoghurt; and a couple of hard cheeses. One item, however, seemed to meet with universal approval: orum, a cream with a thick skin like clotted cream and made in a very similar way, by heating the milk in a pot over simmering water."
(Simon Majumdar in 'Eat My Globe: One man's search for the best food in the world,' p. 92 Hachette)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How SHGs fail

"1. Too much dependency on the intermediaries: SHGs (self-help groups) are mostly promoted and maintained by NGOs, starting from group formation to the operations. In almost all SHGs, the meeting, decision making, election of leaders, accounting, book keeping, bank linkages etc. are done by the implementing NGO staffs. The moment the NGOs withdraw their support from their SHGs, the SHGs were found to be helpless, hence unable to organise and maintain their banking structure. Many of the SHGs ended up with intra-group conflicts."
"2. Diffusion of missions over time: SHGs are primarily not made for microfinance rather made for self-help, women empowerment, capacity building to face social problems etc. So, the rigidity for microfinance is diffused over time in SHG-based interventions."
"3. Economic threshold limit: It is the limit at which the external banking of the SHGs is stopped, i.e. the banking transactions between the SHG and the SHG-linked bank (the bank where the SHG had opened its account) is seized. At this point of time, it can be considered that the SHG has reached the threshold limit..."
"4. Economic injury limit: This is the limit at which the internal banking of a SHG seizes, which means that the saving, credit, group meeting etc. are no more continuing. At this point, it can be considered that the SHG will die in coming time. After 'economic injury limit' generally the SHGs come up with internal conflicts among the members on various issues. It is difficult to reorganise the SHG again after it has reached the economic injury limit."
(Debadutta K. Panda in 'Understanding Microfinance,' p. 104 Wiley India)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Four kinds of horses

"It is said that there are four kinds of horses."
"The first kind of horse starts running the moment it sees the shadow of the whip. The second kind is less sensitive. It does not run when it sees the shadow of the whip. It starts running when it hears the sound of the whip cracking."
"The third kind is even less sensitive. It does not run when it sees the shadow of the whip or when it hears the sound of the whip cracking. It runs when it feels the touch of the whip on its skin."
"The fourth kind is the dullest of the lot. Its response is even slower than that of the third kind of horse. It starts running only when it gets a lash and feels the pain."
"Human beings too vary from each other as far as their responsiveness is concerned."
"At one extreme are the people who have the spontaneous urge to do what needs doing right away. At the other extreme are those who always put off things as they have some sort of resistance to them."
(P. S. Wasu in 'The Fine Print of Life,' p. 61 Harper)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chindia

"The term Chindia, supposedly coined by the Indian Union Government Minister, Jairam Ramesh, is now the toast of the world. In early 2008, more than ten books were released all singing paeans to the new economies of India and China. And multinational companies are today talking of the strategic importance of India and China in their global plans. For some companies, the Indian operations are already in the top 10 or top 5 operations in the world; for others, they rank among the fastest growing markets, set to attain place among the top 5 in the not-so-distant future. In 2009, when many countries in the developed world face negative GDP growth, experts feel that Chindia will continue to show GDP growths in excess of 5-6%. Some economists even believe that the world economy needs Chindia to pull it out of the downward spiral!"
(M. G. Parameswaran in 'Ride the Change: A perspective on the changing Indian consumer, market and marketing,' p. xv TMH)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Field visit

"For a year now, Baksh had been teaching himself the art of farming. It was October, the time for sowing wheat, the main winter crop, and the days were long as he supervised. Consequently, Baksh had taken to sleeping in the fields for a while. At the day's end, exhausted, happy, he was content to lie in a cot and watch the starry night. Another month and the winter mist would begin to roll in, which would render sleeping in the open impossible."
"One such night, as Baksh lay in the open, he felt warm. The thick quilt was pulled over his head. Somebody was snuggling next to him. Who the... A hand closed over his mouth, soft, firm. It paused, waiting, as the breath fell on him in short husky draughts. Then it trailed down, pushing aside the kurta neck and resting over his chest. It moved with a deliberate smoothness, fingers stroking the hairs, palm massaging the exposed skin. He exhaled sharply and a mouth closed on his."
"The hand was down now, caressing, gripping, moving him to fullness. His legs trembled, he pulled the woman closer in a tight embrace. She placed an index finger on his lips, then slowly proceeded to disentangle herself. As he watched, she removed her shirt with practised ease, without disturbing the canopy of the quilt, and brought her chest to his face. There was nothing to see in the dark, but he smelt her: the aroma of rotis fresh from the tandoor."
"She guided his face towards a snug valley. Next she moved it to one mound, then the other, in a firm slow motion..."
(Manreet Sodhi Someshwar in 'The Long Walk Home,' p. 94 Harper)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Obamaspeak

"I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality, I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they're something they're not. They don't need to do that. None of us need to do that."
"But what I am suggesting is this -- secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King -- indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history -- were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their 'personal morality' into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition."
"Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognise some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We might recognise that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of 'thou' and not just 'I,' resonates in religious congregations all across the country. And we might realise that we have the ability to reach out to the evangelical community and engage millions of religious Americans in the larger project of American renewal..."
"Across the country, individual churches like my own and your own are sponsoring day care programs, building senior centres, helping ex-offenders reclaim their lives..."
"So the question is, how do we build on these still-tentative partnerships between religious and secular people of good will? It's going to take more work, a lot more work than we've done so far. The tensions and the suspicions on each side of the religious divide will have to be squarely addressed. And each side will need to accept some ground rules for collaboration."
(Ed: Harrison and Gilbert in 'The Great Speeches of Barack Obama,' p. 93 Jaico)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

LTTE

"In the chequered history of the LTTE spanning the past three decades during which Prabhakaran has held sway as its supreme leader, there have been several spells over which its insurrectionary capacity suffered serious setbacks. Prominent among such recessions were: the brief eclipse of the LTTE in the aftermath of the Indian 'peace-keeping' intervention in 1987; the worldwide anti-Tiger revulsion evoked by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991; the strategic losses consequent upon its expulsion by the Sri Lankan armed forces from the Jaffna peninsula in 1995; the constraining effects on its international operations generated by the global tide of hostility towards terrorism following the al-Qaeda attack on the US in 2001; and, more far-reaching in impact than any other, the internal revolt led by Colonel Karuna in March 2004. The impression conveyed by the experiences in each of these episodes, however, is that the LTTE possessed the inner resilience and the external support required for recovery, if not entirely unscathed, at least with sufficient strength to persist with its campaign of warfare and terror. In contrast, the losses suffered in the more recent past appear as constituting an irreversible and aggravating trend featured by indications that could well portent its final collapse."
(G. H. Peiris in 'Twilight of the Tigers: Peace efforts and power struggles in Sri Lanka,' p. 273 OUP)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Have your eyes open

"It is all about cycles. Markets, assets, and life all seem to experience some sort of order that keeps occurring with some pattern. While it is difficult and maybe even impossible to forecast when the cycle will change, it is certainly possible to identify the cycle we are in currently."
"Whether you personally are in a growth period or a rebuilding stage, if it appears that all is lost never fear; the next expansion is around the corner. Maybe you cannot see it, and perhaps it feels like things will never get better, but rest assured your emergency rate cut may be just around the corner."
"The more educated and empowered you are, the better decisions you will make -- not by listening to the talking heads on television or reading the latest blog posting. You will do your own homework and your own research, paying attention to the economic indicators that tell you what's happening. This is not difficult, and it will put you in the driver's seat as you make investment decisions based on better rationale than buy-hold-and-forget it or panicking and following the crowd."
"You will have your eyes open and your mind clear to spot the next bull as it arises from inside the bear."
(Robert Stein in 'The Bull Inside The Bear: Finding new investment opportunities in today's fast-changing financial markets,' p. 195 Wiley)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Water analytics

"Analytical equipment is essential to the measurement and monitoring of water quality. As such, the market for analytical instrumentation for the water industry has been relatively untouched by the global economic slowdown. In fact, increased awareness of the need for infrastructure protection due to security concerns has added a growth element to a maturing market. Heightened security, regulatory compliance, the need for quality control, and the emphasis on cost containment all point to a positive environment for analytical equipment manufacturers."
"The global water and water-related instrumentation market is, somewhat surprisingly, estimated at over $20 billion. Bear in mind, however, that this segment has a large and rapidly growing industrial component. Analytical instrumentation is defined as any equipment or device that is used to test water parameters or analyse water in a process-oriented application in order to determine the identity and concentration of a sample component. The equipment is utilised in a number of mission-critical applications in the water industry and is a strategic component in the protection of the water infrastructure."
"Water security is a new reality, and water quality monitoring systems are critical to the timely detection of possible contaminants. The value of real-time environmental monitoring and prediction has increased dramatically with the heightened state of security. This includes sensor and analytical technologies that can provide the equipment needed to continuously monitor water quality variables (chemical and biological); transmit monitoring data in real time; validate, display, and interpret the data; and predict the future state of these variables. Data from sensors create cost control advantages that come from treating algal blooms early, or avoiding drawing water during a turbidity event, but are invaluable as an early warning tool for homeland security protection programs."
(Steve Hoffmann in 'Planet Water: Investing in the world's most valuable resource,' p. 185 Wiley)

Monday, April 20, 2009

India and Russia

"Russian perceptions of India are outdated and stuck in the time warp of mid-20th century India, and there is little understanding of the much richer, self-confident and savvier India of the 21st century. Perhaps Russians feel that India has no alternative to Russia and that India is not giving Russia the attention and importance it deserves."
"The Indian elite's thinking and lifestyle is also oriented towards the West. Culture, language and a democratic polity bring India and the West together. India's links with the West have been strengthened in many other ways -- the rich, well-educated and substantial Indian diaspora settled in Western countries; the rapidly growing linkages of Indian business and industry with Western counterparts and the large-scale movement of visitors and students between India and the West. Similar people-to-people linkages do not exist between Russia and India. The image that most Indians have of Russia is outdated -- Russia is no longer the crushed, dispirited nation in the immediate post-Soviet period, but most Indians have yet to register Russia as a strong, modern and stable country, much less show understanding of its problems. India is also ignorant of, and lacks confidence in, many Russian technological capabilities, since Russia is weak in transferring them on a cost-effective basis to the civilian sector. India's elite seems to have fallen under the spell of new suitors that appear more attractive than a known and trusted old partner. The general public too remains somewhat ignorant about the significance of India's relations with Russia, as Russia does not affect most ordinary Indians lives as does, say, the US or the Persian Gulf region..."
"Officially sponsored cultural extravaganzas like the 'Year of Russia' in India in 2008 and the 'Year of India' in Russia in 2009 cannot be a substitute for spontaneous and natural people-to-people exchanges. India will need to build direct contacts with the entire spectrum of stakeholders and interest groups in the political, economic, military and other spheres not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg but also throughout Russia. Similarly, Russia will have to learn how to deal with new centres of power and influence in India."
(Rajiv Sikri in 'Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India's foreign policy,' p. 161 Sage)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dog vs horse

"Italy is the birth place of the word 'manage.' It has been derived from the word 'maneggiare,' which means to control a horse. It is common knowledge that training a horse is very difficult. Training a dog is very different from training a horse. A dog can be trained by anyone in the house; but not so with getting a horse under control. The trainer will himself have to be trained to do that. That we use this term to indicate administration or management goes to prove how difficult management per se is."
"The area of management is as vast as an ocean. Much can be written and talked about management in general. Depending on the office environment and the persons working in a certain organisation, definitions of management methods will also change."
"The intrinsic quality of leadership is a vital part of the management process. A leader has the responsibility to properly guide those who work for him/ her, make action-heroes of them and increase the prestige and profit potential of that organisation."
(G. V. Rao in 'Successful Management Techniques,' p. 119 Rowsons)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Venture into the discomfort zone

"Top achievers realise that growth comes only by setting goals that require them to stretch their comfort zone. Yes, stretching adds an element of risk. It seems a lot of people don't understand that the rewards come after the risk, not the other way around. To experience the rewards of life, we must pay up front. Interestingly enough, we never know when we will be rewarded, but the rewards do come. Those who don't invest up front always search for the easy way, convinced that it exists. Don't go through life picking only the low-hanging fruit."
"As children we are always exploring, taking risks and trying new adventures. Unfortunately as we age, we become more rigid in sticking within our comfort zone. If we inadvertently venture into the discomfort zone, or we are forced into it, we immediately attempt to recoil back into our comfort zone. We cocoon ourselves in our comfort zone, protecting ourselves against possible failure or embarrassment."
"Successful sales entrepreneurs are not necessarily more competent, but they do look for ways to grow and stretch. They willingly expose themselves to new things by venturing into the discomfort zone. Use your comfort zone to rest in, not to live in. Use it to consciously relax and reenergise as you visualise performing your next challenge."
(Tim Breithaupt in '10 Steps to Sales Success,' p. 46 Macmillan)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Temporal intelligence

"Time masters know that time is, as Einstein discovered, elastic. They understand that clock time, although an important time management tool, contributes little to time mastery. Time masters would agree with William Faulkner, who wrote in The Sound and the Fury, 'Time is dead as long as it is being checked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.'"
"Here are some actions you can take to turn your knowledge of time elasticity into practice:"
"* Stop crises by stopping time. Maintain your objectivity when a crisis occurs, rather than getting caught up in the subjective frenzy. Time masters 'stop' time by asking why rather than when -- or, better yet, by making a completely out-of-context suggestion, as Simon Walker does when he asks for tea in the midst of a storm at sea. Such reframing gives everyone an opportunity to reboot and brings fresh perspective to a problem."
"* Don't restrict yourself to 'clock time' -- living by minutes and hours. As important as these can be, 'event time' -- the occurrence of meaningful events -- can be even more important. Let events take precedence and trump the clock when necessary."
"* Be aware of the time-related differences in team members. Recognise that everyone has a 'time personality,' a set of unique characteristics and individual differences that disposes each person to act and react temporally in different ways. Just as a team can benefit from a mix of personality types (à la Myers-Briggs), it can also function better if the team members have different senses of urgency, different time horizons."
"* Slow time down. Recognise that top speed is not always the most appropriate pace. Take the time, if needed, to do more research or ask more questions. Don't get caught up in a momentum that might bring you to market before you're really prepared, or lead you to make a decision that isn't yet ripe."
(John K. Clemens and Scott Dalrymple in 'Time Mastery: How temporal intelligence will make you a stronger, more effective leader,' p. 90 Macmillan)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How they do it in Japan

"Much is made of how PayPal stole a march on the US banks by developing the payment mode for online shopping, especially for those who didn't want to - or couldn't - use credit cards to make online purchases."
"In Japan, where PayPal didn't exist until May 2007, eBANK and Japan Net Bank have taken up the gauntlet and thrust themselves into the business, the former with venture capital and the latter with the backing of big money from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC)... Sony Bank is also an Internet-only bank, but it does not focus on payments for online transactions and functions more like a traditional bank, albeit a tech-savvy one."
"Helped along by Japan's zero-interest environment, as well as the take-up of the Internet, the banks have found interest among the huge segment of affluent urban Japanese that were at once attracted by the bank's higher interest rates. They also valued practical transaction services it offered to bored office workers fiddling with their 3G cell phones on their early morning and late evening commutes."
"Another regulatory twist, unique to Japan, has helped make the online bank truly virtual -- account-opening does not require any face-to-face meeting for identity verification and account-openers can mail in photocopies of their documents or send in image captures of their ID cards. Out of regulatory loopholes, entire industries are born."
(Peter Hoflich in 'Asia's Banking CEOs: The future of finance in Asia,' p. 188 Wiley)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

During the Emergency...

"During the Emergency, a train carrying imported dairy equipment for a project to be established in Sanjay Gandhi's constituency, Amethi, met with an accident. Consequently, it was found that a large amount of illegal material had also been imported under the garb of dairy equipment. Sanjay Gandhi tried to scuttle enquiries and regularise files lest it caused a scandal. Annasaheb refused to follow the diktats of Sanjay Gandhi. So, his portfolios like sugar and dairy farming were taken away from him."
(Ed: Anil Shinde in 'Hungry Nation to Agro Power: Annasaheb Shinde, sculptor of Indian agriculture development,' p. 46 Ameya Prakashan)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Study on profitability

"From 1977, the bank's management science department (MSD) started carrying out an analysis of the profitability of the bank's services on a year-to-year basis. Based on this analysis, the department worked out the relative cost-benefit effect of the deposits and advances schemes of the bank to enable the management to focus attention on those schemes whose net effect on profitability was positive."
"In one such study relating to the year 1979 it was observed that while the servicing costs of personal deposits and small industries and small business deposits showed marginal increases, those of the C&I deposits remained unchanged while the cost of agricultural deposits showed a decline. The rise in personal deposits was due to the increasing share of high-cost deposits such as recurring deposits, janata deposits and the 'State Bank comes to classroom' deposits, while the decrease in the cost of agricultural deposits was because the rate of deposit growth in this segment was more than the increase in servicing costs. The profitability of the deposit business as a whole showed a decline."
"The study also revealed that the servicing cost of advances had risen during 1979..."
(Abhik Ray in 'The Evolution of State Bank of India: Volume 4 - The era from 1955 to 1980,' p. 694 Penguin)

Monday, April 13, 2009

A culture of accountability

"How do you create a culture of accountability? It starts with taking personal responsibility and then communicating what you will do. It is important not only to make a commitment to yourself but also to let others know what that commitment is. When you talk about your own commitment, people respect you and want to emulate you. When you set a high standard for yourself, they do the same. Creating accountability by example is effective because you are not only issuing directives, but you are also making a commitment to your people. People are highly motivated to work for a leader who holds himself or herself accountable."
"Once you set the standard by communicating what you will do, you can create a structure that supports a culture of accountability..."
"Holding people accountable works when people know what they are supposed to do and what others are supposed to do, too. This means communicating with everyone in the organisation not only about their jobs but also the jobs of the people around them. When you communicate with your entire team about what expectations are of everyone in the group, you have transparency. Transparency is simply communicating more clearly and informing people about what should and must be done throughout the organisation."
(Suzanne Bates in 'Motivate Like A CEO: Communicate your strategic vision and inspire people to act!' p. 139 TMH)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spaceship Rules

"In taking the GDP as the measure of economic performance, economists are assuming that the faster resources flow through the economic system to become toxic waste, the wealthier we are. We could get much the same result simply by managing the economy to maximise the rate of growth of our garbage dumps."
"Earth's frontier closed sometime during the 1970s, when human consumption of Earth's natural regenerative resources exceeded the limits of what Earth could sustain and many natural systems began to collapse. The collapse began slowly and then accelerated. Our reality has changed; our ways of thinking and doing business have not."
"Astronauts hurtling through space in a tightly sealed vehicle understand clearly that their well-being depends on maintaining secure and adequate stocks of oxygen, fuel, food, water, and other essentials. Minimising flows and recycling everything is essential to their long-term well-being. Because nothing can be replaced, nothing can be wasted. Consuming faster than stocks regenerate is actively suicidal. Open-frontier cowboys who find themselves suddenly transported to the crew quarters of a spaceship quickly learn new ways or expire."
"The frontier is no more. Now it is spaceship rules or death."
(David C. Korten in 'Agenda for a New Economy: From phantom wealth to real wealth,' p. 104 TMH)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Revenue gains can be deceiving

"Marketers with the ROI mindset understand that revenue gains can be deceiving. Not all revenue is profitable. We got an object lesson in this reality early in our careers; we both worked at P&G and on the Citrus Hill orange juice brand at different times. In the 1980s and into the early 1990s, P&G lost money on a variable basis on every case of Citrus Hill orange juice sold. In other words, the more orange juice we sold, the more money we lost. But management was convinced that eventually 'volume will allow us to fix the business.' And so, Citrus Hill products were assumed to 'break even' when the return on marketing spend was calculated. Of course, that fatal assumption created an even larger sinkhole as more money was spent on generating more unprofitable volume. Citrus Hill never did break even, and in late 1992, after much hard work and hundreds of millions of dollars, P&G announced it would discontinue the brand."
"ROI marketers are equipped to avoid these kinds of brand debacles because their overarching objective is to deliver profitable volume. They also ensure that the measurements they gather are based in reality and utilised to improve results. Thus, they are constantly experimenting to test their hypotheses, measuring their results, and adjusting their vehicles and events in order to achieve more profitable sales."
(Leslie H. Moeller and Edward C. Landry in 'The Four Pillars of Profit-Driven Marketing: How to maximize creativity, accountability, and ROI,' p. 70 TMH)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ben Mussanzi wa Mussangu

"Part of the problem is that the Congo is very rich in minerals. In fact, it's like a man who is in trouble because he is married to a beautiful lady in the village. Everyone has eyes on that man and is plotting how to kill him. The beautiful lady in this case is the box of diamonds and uranium that everyone wants to get their hands on. The mineral dealers based in neighbouring countries Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda deliberately inflame the conflicts between local tribes and factions to give them a pretext for getting a foot in the country."
"But we can't blame everything on outsiders. Congolese political leaders and young men have to be blamed also... We have a lot of unemployed young men who can easily be bought into the militias. And even in our universities, leading academics can be manipulated and corrupted by promises of power and money from outsiders trying to get in. There is a saying, 'Mon diplôme a détruit le Congo.' In other words, it is people with advanced degrees but no spiritual education who are destroying our country -- selling it to the mineral dealers, for nothing."
(Ed: peaceOdirect in 'Unarmed Heroes: The courage to go beyond violence,' p.91 Jaico)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

National bias

"Investors overinflate the part of their portfolios devoted to domestic stocks. Contrary to financial theory which recommends apportioning the portfolio according to the relative capitalisations of the various markets, investors concentrate the major part of their stock holdings in domestic stocks. In all big countries, individual investors place more than 90 per cent of their equity investments in domestic stocks no matter how large the share of their domestic market into the worldwide capitalisation is. Despite recent financial developments, national bias continues to survive because the impression of familiarity associated with national stocks distorts expectations of risk and return and presents the illusion that a 'patriotic' allocation of capital is both cautious and effective."
(Mickäel Mangot in '50 Psychological Experiments for Investors,' p. 30 Wiley)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Science of light and space

"In Vedic times, the Rishis came up with the Jyotisha-shastra, the science of light, simply known as astrology, by which one can calculate the relative position of the Grahas in our life depending on the time and place of our birth. This then reveals what fate has in store for us. Thus, we can be prepared for a calamity or have hope of a fortune."
"But what if the fate the Jyotisha-shastra reveals is not something we like? The Rishis came up with the concept of Upaay, or way out. Using gems and certain chants and rituals, one can increase or decrease the influence of a particular Graha in our life. Thus we can influence the future. It is not just fate; there is free will."
"Another way of influencing the effects of fate is by using the science of space or geometry, known to Rishis as Vastu-shastra. The earth is naturally circular, aligned to the horizon, but man's dwelling is a square, circumscribed in that circle. This square of human settlement is Vastu Purusha, and this square can be broken into a smaller size. Each direction is governed by a god, a Diggapala. By reorienting walls, windows and doors it is possible to shift the energy of the gods such that it brings good fortune into the house. Thus, through desire, one can perform rites and change what destiny has in store for us."
(Devdutt Pattanaik in '7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art,' p. 165 Westland)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Argument

"We have the tradition of argument designed by the GG3 (Greek Gang of Three). We use the method in parliament and in the courts of law."
"It is an extremely primitive, crude and inefficient way of exploring a subject (if this is the need)..."
"The process is one of 'case-making,' not of exploring the subject."
"In argument you must start with a 'position' - otherwise you cannot argue. In exploration, you explore first and reach a position at the end of the exploration."
"In argument there is no design effort. You are arguing A against not-A or against B. There is no energy going into designing the possibility of C, D or E."
"Argument is about egos, emotions, attack, defend, win, lose, etc."
(Edward de Bono in 'Intelligence Information Thinking,' p. 35 Westland)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Design

"Design is the ability to deliver value from the ingredients at hand."
"How does this relate to intelligence? Because intelligent people understand and play the game in which they are placed. So they become excellent at understanding and analysis but never develop the skills of design."
"Intelligence is usually concerned with the truth. Design is concerned with possibility and value."
"You can have truth about the past but you can only have possible value about the future."
(Edward de Bono in 'Intelligence Is Not Enough,' p. 46 Westland)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Remote possibilities

"It seems to be a dilemma: we should not throw out remote possibilities and yet we have to act on the most probable. In fact, it is not a dilemma at all. Our thinking should encompass all possibilities, even the remote ones, but when we come to action we now need to focus on the more probable."
"It often happens that in the course of our thinking a remote possibility becomes a distinct probability. If that remote possibility had been thrown out at the beginning this could never have happened."
(Edward de Bono in 'The Importance of Possibili...,' p. 47 Westland)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

'Frame' each day in advance

"One of the best techniques I have found for changing distortional thinking is called 'reframing.' I have always enjoyed looking at illustrations that have a hidden message or image. I remember a patient giving me a cartoon picture of a beautiful princess. She asked me to find the other hidden image on the sheet of paper. At first I saw no hidden image, but when she finally suggested that I turn the piece of paper upside down, the image of a wrinkled old woman became obvious! The 'hidden' image appeared when I shifted my perspective."
"Reframing is similar to this technique. It calls upon a person to shift his focus or attention away from his present point of view in order to attempt to 'see' another person or a situation from a new perspective. This is similar to putting a new picture frame on an old picture..."
"Most people I know are postponing the things they really enjoy and really want to do in life until some distant time when those dreams seem more doable and affordable. I have become a firm believer that we need to live each day as if it is our last one on Earth. If we 'frame' a day with that perspective, we often find that petty things no longer bother us; in fact, there are very few big problems that bother us!"
(Don Colbert in 'Stress Less,' p. 50 Magna)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Scattered focus and weak focus

"Scattered focus is different from weak focus. Most youngsters love to listen to music while studying and genuinely believe that the music in the background helps them to understand and absorb better. This is an absolutely ridiculous concept and an entirely defeatist act, as it is a perfect combination of both weak and scattered focus."
"With music playing in the background, there is continuous distraction happening, and just when the mind begins to focus, a change in song could ruin that focus and by the time you get back into focus, considerable time is wasted...."
"Remember, however intelligent one may be, it is advisable to understand and realise that the mind can never do two things parallel and successfully at a time. It is best advised to do just one thing at a time in a highly focused manner and achieve perfection in that single assignment..."
"Forgetting where you have left your keys, credit cards, wallet or slippers is a factor of weak focus, as the act is accomplished as an involuntary action without giving it a second thought. As the mind has not registered the action, it will not remember the act and you will end up going through the irritating task of searching for the item. (A simple remedy to avoid this hunt is to make a proper place in your house for each of these items, so that when you return home, you offload each item in its designated place routinely whilst making it a habit.)"
(Deepak Rao in 'Unlock Your ESP Potential: Using Extra Sensory Perception to excel in life,' p. 108 Magna)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

CBRN

"Since the mid-1990s, the possibility of the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons by non-state actors has become a topic of an extensive academic and public debate. Originally, the discussion concentrated primarily on capabilities, where the alleged ease of acquisition of CBRN materials following the break-up of the Soviet Union as well as the arguably more widespread availability of expertise needed for the production and weaponisation of such agents were the main sources of concern. Later, the debate was brought to a more realistic level through the acknowledgement of technical hurdles associated with the successful delivery of CBRN agents, as well as the possible motivational constraints involved in the decision of terrorist groups to use such weapons. Another shift in the debate was represented by the claim that the rise of a phenomenon known as the 'new terrorism' had eroded these constraints... Today's terrorist organisations demonstrate only a limited potential to use CBRN agents for the purposes of launching an attack capable of causing mass casualties or significant physical damage. Nevertheless, the threat of small-scale operations involving certain chemical, biological and radiological agents is certainly real, and is most likely on the rise... Even more importantly, today's terrorists seem to have a much greater appreciation of the psychological impact that even small-scale CBRN operations will have on the population and society."
(Adam Dolnik in an essay included in 'Terrorism: Patterns of internationalization,' edited by Jaideep Saikia and Ekaterina Stepanova, p. 210 Sage)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Maldives' competitiveness in tourism

"From a very modest beginning in the 1970s, the tourist industry in the Maldives has evolved and matured to become a key player in the economy. Tourism has been the engine of growth in the economy, accounting for about a third of the GDP. The industry has substantial links to other sectors of the economy, such as construction, transportation, telecommunication, and distribution, and contributes over 50 per cent of the economy's output. It also provides employment for about one-fifth of the workforce with a sizable participation of foreign workers in the sector. Tourism contributes over 90 per cent of services receipts to the country and surpassed fishing as the country's major source of foreign exchange in 1989. Almost one-third of the government's tax revenues are generated from rental payments on leased islands and a flat rate tax of USD 8 per bed night is levied on foreign tourists."
"Since the establishment of the first resort in 1972, more than 87 resorts have been developed, with a total capacity of some 16,000 beds... More than 6,00,000 tourists visited the islands in 2004, among them, Europeans comprised over 77 per cent of the tourists (led by Italy, Germany, and the UK) and Asians comprised of 19 per cent (led by Japan, China, and India)... Until the end of 2004, the tourism sector performed remarkably well. However, the sector sustained severe loss due to the tsunami and as a result, in 2005, the sector contracted by 33 per cent..."
(Ed: Saman Kelegama in 'Trade in Services in South Asia: Opportunities and risks of liberalization,' p. 202 Sage)