Archive for » May, 2014 «

A PRIZE FOR ME, YET ONCE MORE ….

A PRIZE FOR ME, YET ONCE MORE ….

My response to a recent Case Study on HORLICKS has been judged to be the best of the lot. Here is what the magazine says at the end of the latest Case Study–on who else but, NARENDRA MODI.

BEST OF THE LOT

Best of the lot: BT receives many responses to its case studies. Below is the best one on Horlicks (May 11, 2014)

Jatinder Pal Singh Broca, Retired Chief Manager, Bank of India

Glaxo Smith Kline Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH) should think of introducing new and innovative  product variants under Horlicks umbrella brand to cater to the ever changing tastes of the new generation. It could for instance, launch ready to drink Horlicks combos with milk plus honey, cardamom flavour, milk with cut pieces of fruits like raspberries, pine-apples, apples and bananas. To extend the brand platform, the company should consider introducing Horlicks Jams for kids and teenagers. For example, Horlicks plus mango, Horlicks plus pineapple and so on. It could experiment with Horlicks based bread spread or paste for the busy on-the-move office goers to offer them a convenient breakfast option. GSKCH could also think of diversifying to Horlicks based sherbets for cooling in hot summers. It could try popular tastes like aam-panna and jal jeera. It could also come out with suitable sized gift packs of assorted products of Horlicks priced at say ranges of say Rs.151/-, Rs.251/- or Rs 501/-, for gifting on birthdays, anniversaries and festive occasions. As for its distribution strategy, the company should look at launching all its variants in Rs 2/-, Rs.3/- or Rs.5/- or even Rs.10/- sachets for catering to the vast section of low-income-group population. To become more environment friendly, it can use its distributors to collect empty plastic containers of Horlicks products from users for re-cycling. It could also pay some discount say one rupee per container against the price of the next product purchases. Finally, the company should discontinue the products and variants that have not succeeded in the market (noodles for instance) to control losses and improve profitability.

Broca wins a HarvardBusinessSchool pocket Mentor.

READERS CAN SEE PAGE 51 OF BT ISSUE DATED 8TH JUNE 2014 (WITH NARENDRA MODI ON THE COVER) RELEASED ON 26TH MAY 2014. (DAY OF SWEARING-IN OF MODI JI AS THE NEW PRIME MINISTER)

Bank Boards as ‘NPAs’

Bank Boards as ‘NPAs’

Yesterday’s BUSINESS STANDARD had an interesting article tiled :”BANK BOARDS AS NPAs”
The author Shyamal Majumdar brings out some shocking ways in which our bank boards function and hold meetings.
Here is the full text of the article.
Bank Boards as ‘NPAs’ Shyamal Majumdar:
Taxi fare reimbursement policy often takes precedence over loan recovery strategy in the board meetings of public sector banks
BS May 23, 2014
Public sector bank (PSB) boards are full of honourable men and women, but the quality of discussions during board meetings just doesn’t live up to their exalted positions. This is more than evident from the report of a committee headed by P J Nayak on governance in bank boards. The committee, in fact, has done the unique job of analysing actual board notes to arrive at this rather damning conclusion.
The scrutiny of board deliberations suggests that PSB board members focus more on compliance with regulations and other trivial issues. For example, in one bank, the taxi fare reimbursement policy took up more time than the loan recovery policy. Other issues discussed included purchase of office premises and provision of leased residential accommodation to officers. In another bank, the board was more interested in discussing the details of a lecture by the chairman at a college; how extensive coverage can be given to the finance minister’s visit to the bank; and disciplinary action against manager-level employees.
The location of branches and ATMs was another favourite topic. The surprising point to note is that PSBs, despite their government ownership, focus less on financial inclusion than their private sector peers. There’s more. On both financial reporting and compliance, private sector banks discuss in detail three times the number of issues that PSBs do. Among the areas of recent concern in PSBs is the worsening asset quality, and yet there is a general absence of a calibrated discussion in boards of the sectors within which the greatest stress has emerged, and implications this might have for further loan growth in those sectors. Recoveries through the Debt Recovery Tribunals and under the SARFAESI Act are inadequately discussed, and progress in bringing stressed assets back to health are also insufficiently analysed. As the report says, scenario analysis through stress-testing is absent, and specific plans for worst-case scenarios find no mention in board meetings.
It is difficult, therefore, to disagree with the panel’s suggestions that there are limits to the ability of regulation and supervision to upgrade the quality of board deliberations in PSBs. And, that there is an urgent need for these boards to be empowered with strategic and domain skills, and with independence by changing the entire appointment process for boards. As the Nayak panel says, the existing appointment process is structural. The Bank Nationalisation Acts of 1970 and 1980 lay down in granular detail the manner in which board positions are to be filled. There are eight broad categories of directors. Similarly, the State Bank of India Act of 1955 refers to seven director categories for SBI, while IDBI Bank (constituted under the Companies Act) has five different director categories. In comparison, the new Companies Act of 2013 lays down three categories of directors, though not in a structural manner: executive directors, part-time independent directors and part-time non-independent directors.
The current appointment process of PSB board members has given rise to the ridiculous practice of bank chairmen having no say on who all are coming in as non-official directors. As a result, if some of these directors are of poor quality or get on to the board with parallel agendas, the chairman starts viewing them as unhelpful to the interests of the bank. That’s the reason why many of the PSB boards have seen internal fissures leading to poor governance. There is no doubt that director quality is compromised in government’s appointments. While the government seeks the professionally qualified for board positions, new private sector banks, and increasingly old private sector banks, search for the professionally talented. The distinction matters. For example, almost all chartered accountants would qualify for appointment to PSB boards, but a very small subset would be sought after by the private sector bank boards.
In general, it seems the questions nobody has asked are: can PSB board members really provide the management with guidance and control as their mandate formally requires? Does the composition of the board matter for the bank’s performance during a crisis?
Attempts to improve the quality of PSB boards have been made in the past without results. For example, the Ganguly committee on corporate governance in banks had raised some critical issues way back in 2002. Among other things, the committee had suggested that the boards must have eminent people who are capable of providing a necessary oversight coupled with their duties of loyalty to the shareholders and provide the necessary checks and balances. The board should also be empowered to question the management and must be comfortable in insisting upon straightforward explanations from them. In addition, the boards should ensure that the responsibilities of directors are well defined and the banks should arrange need-based training for the directors in this regard.
The result has been predictable. Banks were advised to place the report to their boards and directors were to sign the covenants in public interest. Many directors ignored the suggestion.
In its report, the Nayak committee has also given detailed suggestions on the way out of the mess, giving a lot of food for thought for the new finance minister. Hopefully, the report will not remain unread.

My response to this article by way of a letter to the Editor is as under:

Dear Sir, This refers to the tongue-in-cheek but a shocking  article titled: ” Bank Boards as ‘NPAs’” by Shyamal Majumdar (BS 23RD May 2014).

The crux of the problem is about how directors are appointed or how they manage to get appointed on the Boards of Banks. There seems to be lack of basic skills analysis of directors. Are they competent to join the board is a mute question. It is well known that competence comes from experience, knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and beliefs. In the case of Bank boards, which are the ultimate decision makers, competencies of directors are particularly important. Further, from the deliberations reported in the article based on findings of the committee headed by P J Nayak on Governance, it is very essential that the Boards discharge their duties “effectively” rather than “adequately”.

Hence it is felt that, to be effective, there is need for boards to have an appropriate mix of skills, as well as an appropriate composition, size and a sense of commitment. Since the directors are required to perform a range of complex tasks and they often come from a range of different backgrounds it may or may not equip them with the skills required to perform these tasks. Therefore, what is important for a board is that it has a good understanding of what skills it has and what skills it requires. This can be done through Board Skills Analysis.

Studies have revealed that the key benefits from a board skills analysis include: identifying gaps in skills and diversity; highlighting the strengths around the boardroom table to enable the directors’ skills to be utilized to their fullest potential; identifying potential professional development opportunities for board members; and informing the recruitment process for future board members. Once the board has knowledge of its deficiencies and addresses these gaps in some form or other, it will go a long way towards individual board members demonstrating the care, skill and diligence expected of a director.

Lots of research and many studies have been done and books have been written on the subject matter. Broadly, there are four levels of competence required in a board: a. industrial experience and knowledge; b. technical/professional skills and specialist knowledge; c. essential governance knowledge and understanding and d. behavioral attributes and competencies enabling individual board members to use their knowledge and skills to function well as team members and to interact with key stakeholders.

Here is hoping that the new Government and the new Finance Minister will read the report and initiate required steps to avoid future Bank boards becoming NPAs!

J S BROCA, NEW DELHI

Fighting breast cancer with a dose of humour

Fighting breast cancer with a dose of humour

Breast cancer is no laughing matter, but sometimes a good joke or a game is the best medicine.

In my quest for limericks, I came across this touching and heart-warming effort of a poetess named Teresa Mondloch, to lighten the burden of pain and surgery (a double mastectomy) of her sister named Carolyn Holzer. Hence sharing. Read and comment.

The sister is nick-named KK and the breasts are code-named as “Tatas”! (Nothing to do with our Tata Group of Industry!).

QUOTE: 

A Tale of Two Tatas.

Written by Teresa Mondloch for her sister Carolyn Holzer March 15, 2011

My sister, KK, was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago and has already undergone a double mastectomy. (They got all of the cancer!)  Prior to her surgery, our other four sisters and I decided to put together a scrapbook as an “Ode to KK’s Tatas.” 

I should clarify that KK has always been very proud of her breasts, and a huge promoter of the cleavage top!  She would often state, “If they’re looking at my cleavage, then they’re not noticing my big butt!” 

So you can understand (as I’m sure many, if not all, of you do) the heartache in having to sacrifice her prized assets to stupid cancer. 

The scrapbook consisted of page upon beautiful page of inspirational quotes, favorite stories, funny quips, and most of all pictures of KK in cleavage tops from all the women (and some men) in her life. She has a huge support system. 

For my page, I decided to write a limerick, because if I can’t fix the problem then I’d rather make her laugh!  You could say I was a little more than inspired….

There once was a girl from Mid West

Who had spectacular breasts

Let the story be told

Of the glory that they hold

Sit back while we tell you the rest.

At puberty they started to grow

Jealous bitches would call her a hoe

But the girl stood strong

For she knew they were wrong

Because all the boys in her school were like, “Whoa!”

She soon realized the power

That her Tatas had endowed her

With a cleavage top

She could make jaws drop

And grown men quiver and cower.

This power was one she could use

Whether on land or even a cruise

With only a wink

She could get a free drink

An offers she couldn’t refuse.

These God-given cans were too much

For any one woman to clutch

Like tits forged in Heaven

They were a ten….nay….eleven

And this power became more like a crutch.

So alas the good Fates had to part

This power that grew from the start

But little did they expect

That this woman was already perfect

For her Tatas were NEVER her heart.

Sadly now she must bid them adieu

But this is no reason to feel blue

For when she awakes

She will have new fakes

And this tale may start anew.

UNQUOTE

NaMo Nama….

NaMo Nama

Major victory of BJP in the recent elections prompted me to post my comments on articles in FE and BS. I also posted my opinions on YS of MI and on a new e-magazine RML. Following comments were posted with minor changes here and there: 

I recall having read, long long ago, a translated version on “The Akbarnāma, which literally translates to Book of Akbar, and is the official chronicle of the reign of Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor (1556–1605). It was said to be commissioned by Akbar himself and was compiled by his court historian and biographer, Abul Fazl who was one of the Nine Jewels in Akbar’s court. The book includes vivid and detailed descriptions of his life and times. Akbar has been hailed as The Great.

Now, with media reports on the life and times of Narendra Mody, I feel it is high time to compile and publish NaMo Nama or a book on him with full details so that the common man comes to know about his life and his rise from a low caste birth to the highest office of the country!

Newspapers have used interesting epithets to describe his victory. Words like Land-slide Victory, Clean-Sweep, It’s not a Wave but a Tsunami, Hurricane, Tornado, Bull-dozer, Historical, Modi-fied India, Blooming Lotus, Saffron Conqueror, Stealing the Thunder, Bulls Eye, Game Changer, Clean Bowled, Sweet Revenge etc indicate the enormous impact of the campaigns and strategies of Modi.

Many writers, several academicians, a few economists, some leading educationists, some  well known marketing gurus, business leaders– all have hailed NaMo’s victory in their own languages and terms.

AmityUniversity is going to hold workshops on lessons learnt from 2014 General Elections. Special Sections in Business magazines have filled pages on features like Maturing of Brand Modi, Lessons Learnt from Modi’s Strategies, 10 Things We Can Learn From Modi etc. Some IIM / IIT Students have also given interviews to news-papers suggesting the areas Modi must focus on, to bring India to its path of glory. List of Dos have been suggested by Corporates. Industrial Houses want him to make doing business easier.

Let us ride on the wings of hope and prayers to see Modi’s new and resurgent India. Let us hope for improvement in our relations with neighboring countries and super powers like USA and China. Let us hope for proper harnessing of Youth Power. Let us hope for more employment opportunities. Let us hope for newer and better technologies to make our lives easier, safer and convenient. Let us hope the common man’s basic needs will be taken care of. Finally, let us hope NaMo delivers what he has promised!

J S BROCA, New Delhi   

MORE ON INNOVATION….

More on INNOVATION…...

INNOVATION is one of my favorite areas of interest. Here are the links to some of my previous blog posts on the subject:

http://seeingwithc.org/jsblog/?p=1832

http://seeingwithc.org/jsblog/?p=1819

http://12manage.com/myview.asp?KN=1004

The latest issue of BUSINESS TO DAY dated 25th May is again in INNOVATION. So I could not resist from writing a letter to the Editor.This is what I wrote:

Dear Sir, This refers to your SIMPLY SUPERB and VERY INTERESTING Special Issue (BT 25TH May 2014) on INNOVATION. Many authors have defined Innovation in their own ways. Basically, the term Innovation refers to a new way of doing something. It may also refer to incremental and emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations. A meaningful innovation must make people switch to new products and practices. The goal of any innovation is a positive change, to make someone or something better. It is now believed that innovation leading to increased productivity is the fundamental source of increasing wealth in any economy. A popular slogan now is Stagnate and Perish, Innovate and Flourish! ”. Innovation is becoming very important today since companies worldwide are spending more on research and development to ensure they remain competitive in a globalized world, where technology plays a very crucial role in accessing markets. Often a distinction is made between invention which is an idea made manifest, and innovation which means ideas applied successfully. The role of innovation in different fields like arts, economics, business and government policy can be different. For example, in economics, the change must increase value be it customer value or producer value.The most important contribution of any innovation is the way it changes a common man’s life. Two recent examples come to our mind. (1) Sometime in January 2012 there was a media report about a wrist watch that shocks molesters. A student of GD Goenka, Rohini, 16-year-old Manu Chopra had come up with this innovative gadget. This device can not only help ward off molesters but can also take their pictures. (2) Another much talked about innovation is about a newborn baby emailing or messaging its mother asking for a nappy change. Some scientists have reportedly developed a device which can give today’s busy parents an extra peace of mind.Finally, it is now widely believed that if you aren’t innovating, you are dead. Innovation is the key to success since the market is rapidly changing and becoming increasingly competitive. Hence there is a constant need to identify growth opportunities, increase margins and strengthen brand loyalty through innovation. Apple, Google and Amazon are too well known for their outstanding innovations! As for Indian Innovators, let’s say “Jai Ho!”–J S BROCA, New Delhi

  

“Khul ja sim sim”

“Khul ja sim sim”

The following Editorial appeared in today’s Financial Express

Yahoo! Alibaba

There is feverish excitement over Alibaba, the Chinese e-tailing giant, being expected to raise almost $15 billion from its US IPO, on its way to a market cap of $152 billion, as per an analysts’ survey by Reuters.

Alibaba handled about $248 billion in transactions in 2013—that’s more than Amazon’s and eBay’s combined figures for that year—made by 231 million active users in its three main Chinese online marketplaces. All of this, of course, has fuelled what could be one of the largest IPOs in history.

However, it is Yahoo! that stands to walk away with windfall gains—in excess of $10 billion—from the offering, selling 208 million shares, or 40% of its 24% holding in Alibaba. This would mean a much-needed reprieve for Yahoo!—the company has been working on a turnaround under CEO Marissa Mayer for nearly 2 years now, but revenues remain elusive. Yahoo! could use the money for expansion which has for too long now seemed to be in the works, given its loose links with Yelp and Pinterest.

Though the Alibaba story isn’t entirely without blights—questions over cross-holdings by chairman Jack Ma are cropping up with greater vehemence—the big takeaway from this has to be just how poised e-tail is to eat into organized brick-and-mortar retail’s share. And instead of obsessing over whether FDI in organized retail would break the backs of the mom-and-pop stores, India would do a lot better to get it right with policy for e-tail. If one Alibaba IPO can possibly benefit a Yahoo! so much, then shouldn’t India have the right investment atmosphere for e-tail, which analysts say is expected to boom in the country in the next few years?

This is what I wrote to the Editor in response to the above Editorial:

Dear Sir,

This refers to your timely and thought-provoking Editorial titled “Yahoo! Alibaba” (FE 10th May 2014).

“Khul ja sim sim” the Hindi variation of “Open Sesame“, is a magical phrase in the story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” in One Thousand and One Nights. It opens the mouth of a cave in which forty thieves have hidden a treasure! 

Yes, the success of Alibaba IPO can certainly and literally open the doors to the much-needed foreign investment into our country. The new Government would do well to give a positive re-think to our FDI policy instead of debating about its negative impacts on our economy.

For Yahoo, the IPO would certainly prove to be the proverbial magic wand to transform the company’s fluctuating fortunes to fund its expansion plans and give a boost to CEO Marissa Mayer’s much needed credibility and vision after taking over the helms of the company around two years ago.

J S BROCA , NEW DELHI, 10TH MAY 2014

FIXING NPAs…..

FIXING NPAs

There was an excellent Editorial on the subject of NPAs in the banks in Financial Express (FE) of 5th May 2014.To read it go to the following link:

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/editorial-cultivating-npas/1247097/0

In response to the above this is what I wrote to the Editor by way of a letter to the editor: 

Dear Sir, Your Editorial: ” Cultivating NPAs ” (FE 5TH May 2014) is indeed an eye-opener and if the present state of affairs and the ever-increasing trend of NPAs continues, it would not be out of place to comment that it looks like our banking sector is literally on the edge of a major financial disaster! Warning signals need to be kept in sight of and necessary strategies need to be planned and implemented without any further delay, if such a catastrophe is to be averted. Yes, your contention that the Government’s prescribed / mandated target of 40% of annual lending by all banks to priority sector, needs to be re-visited and overhauled. With the subject of financial inclusion being much debated these days, it indicates that the position may further worsen if exposure to priority sector increases to cater to the new borrowers under the subject. All said and done, it is felt that much heart-burning over large accounts turning to NPAs, can be avoided by following some simple steps: 1. Proper and adequate study of projects, to be sure of their technical feasibility and economic viability, before taking a lending decision. 2. Ensuring meticulous compliance of all terms and conditions of sanction. 3. Carrying out regular and frequent post sanction physical inspections of all accounts by a dedicated team of staff. An element of “surprise” must be kept in such inspections/visits. 4. Regular follow-up and close monitoring of accounts by all banks and “staff shortage” should not be an excuse for not carrying out this meaningful exercise. 5. The present practice of usual Annual Review of all accounts, should be cut down to Quarterly Review, so that problems if any, can be detected timely and necessary corrective action taken. As per media reports, Banks sold over Rs.10,000 crores of bad loans to ARCs (Asset Reconstruction Companies) in March 2014 alone. Banks have also reportedly re-cast nearly Rs.1 trillion worth of loans in the past financial year 2013-14. This is an indicator of the grave malady the sector is suffering from. Like good doctors, let the banks not treat the symptoms but to treat the disease itself so that further deterioration in the quality of assets, is nipped in the bud. J S BROCA, NEW DELHI

FE has published an edited version of my letter in today’s paper. You can read it by going to the following link:

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/letters-to-the-editor-fixing-npas/1247815

 

Happiness and Productivity

Happiness and Productivity

There was an interesting article in today’s FINANCIAL EXPRESS (Sunday). Here is my response by way of a letter to the editor:

Dear Sir,

This refers to your inspiring article “Happiness and Productivity” (FE Special Sunday 4th May 2014). Yes, research has shown that a happy work-force results in higher productivity.
Amul, the brand leader in diary products, has even made an interesting observation on its website, that most cows give more milk when they listen to music. So, not only human beings but happy animals too yield more.
Research has also established that when people aren’t happy with their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less and their work quality suffers. Latest American Psychological Association research findings show that people want contentment, love and happiness derived from meaningful work. They want nourishing personal relationships, a healthy mind and body, a spiritual core and a reason for living.

Alas! Indian industry has often been suffering indirectly by an un-happy workforce resulting in strikes, lay-offs, slow downs and down-sizing. Hence it is high time that industrial houses create necessary environment both internal and external to result in a happier workforce and in turn higher productivity. Happy employees stay longer, take less sick leave, have more motivation and energy, are more creative and have more ideas, care more, make customers happy, sell more and are more helpful.

In fact, in some countries and in some enlightened organizations, they now appoint CHOs (Chief Happiness Officers) like they have CEOs and CFOs! Incidentally, other not so unusual names in place of CHOs are: Chief Fun Officer, Director of Delight, Passion Catalyst, Chief Imagination Officer.

J S BROCA

New Delhi

Thematic Research in Urdu Shayri

Thematic Research in Urdu Shayri
This morning I recalled a favourite theme of quite a few Urdu shayars.
The theme is “Drinking”. The most famous oft quoted Urdu couplet on this theme was by Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869).
The couplet was as under:
“Zahid, sharaab peene de masjid mein baith kar
Ya wo jagah bataa, jahaan Khuda nahin…”
A rough translation of above couplet:
“Zahid, allow me to drink wine sitting in the mosque, or tell me a place where God doesn’t exist”.
A somewhat befitting response to the theme was later given by Allama Iqbal (1877-1938). This is what he said:
“Masjid Khuda ka ghar hai, peene ki jagah nahin
Kaafir ke dil mein jaa, wahaan khuda nahin”
A rough translation of above couplet is as under:
“The mosque is the house of God, not a place to drink. Go to the heart of the disbeliever (an infidel), you won’t find God there”.
The theme was subsequently followed up by another shayar Ahmed Faraaz(1931-2008).
This is what he had said:
“Kaafir ke dil se aaya hun, main ye dekh kar,
Khuda maujood hai wahaan, par usey pata nahin”
Literal translation of above sher is as under:
“I have returned from the heart of the disbeliever and I have observed: God is present in his heart too, but he just doesn’t know it”. (in other words he is ignorant / sleeping)
Hope you enjoyed reading this theme of shayri and its research by various shayars, as much as I loved compiling it!