Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hello Friends,

Welcome to Abhay's den. "Den", as you can imagine, can evoke several and disparate imageries for different people. It could mean an ‘expression of power’ to some, an ‘example of territorial supremacy’ for some others or just a ‘personal space’ to some--and so on.

To me, it simply means "my world"-- howsoever limited it may be!

As an integral part of my world, you are reading this blog.

Through this blog, I am attempting to accomplish few things -- I wish to foster a spirit of comradeship, encourage mutually (or indeed collectively) beneficial interactions, share knowledge and valuable experiences and some times simply indulge in sharing pure fun.

My den is ‘liberal’ in thinking. Friends with diverse views (sometimes they can even be 180 degrees apart) are actively encouraged to participate in this wonderful journey of collective interaction. This is a platform that encourages total ‘freedom of expression’.

By now, you must have noticed that I have chosen Taj Mahal as an icon to define my den.

Why Taj Mahal?

Taj Mahal represents the core values that will prevail in my den. It did not take me more than a minute to choose this icon as it signifies several things to me and I am sure it will to my friends as well. While this glorious monument presents before us a heavenly beauty at a physical level, it offers a much more richer gift to the humanity in general and to us, the Indians, in particular. It’s an icon that has put India on the global map of artistic excellence and the sentiments behind its creation signify eternal values such as love and dedication. To me it has always been a symbol of inspiration.

And now, turning on to the first interactive invitation to you, my friends.

Is ‘India Advantage’ diminishing?

The context of this debate is predominantly centered around the industry sectors such as IT, ITeS, Retail and other similar ‘new age’ industries.

While the current boom in the new economy Indian industry was originally triggered by the ‘cost arbitrage’ considerations, there were some other compelling growth-enablers such as the availability of large talent pool, emergence of affluent middle-class etc.

Right from the turn of the millennium, all we have been hearing about and witnessing is growth and more growth. And all the futuristic economic/industry studies are predicting this trend to continue. Great going—so far!

I have no opinion that is contrary to what these various studies are pointing about the future scenario, but certainly have some apprehensions. Of late, and often times, I get a little worried when I see certain happenings around me. Many of these incidents/happenings, albeit solitary, seemingly trivial, make me nervous. Sometimes so much that I feel that they almost overshadow and have a potential of adversely affecting the current ‘India advantage.’

Now let me just illustrate by enlisting a few such happenings/incidents, before I invite you all to share your opinions on ‘whether the India advantage is diminishing?’

*Quite off and on we have read examples of criminal behaviour on part of the BPO employees, where they fraudulently used the customer information that they were privy to as an integral part of their job!

*The salary packages in these industries are sometimes becoming almost unaffordable for the relatively smaller businesses and for those who can afford today are finding it tough to manage the future.

*We have started witnessing ‘unionization’ in the most recently emerging industry sector -‘Retail.’

*There have been more than one examples of such collective efforts by those who work in the fringe functions around the IT/ITeS industries. Flash strikes by the drivers of company vehicles are not uncommon.

*The infrastructure development (at best) is lagging the heightened economic activities in the cities
- Bangalore is the biggest example today
- We still don’t know when & where will the new international airports for Mumbai & Pune will come up
- McDonalds & Pizza Huts of this world cannot make India an international destination but ruly traffic, better roads and a much better collective civic sense on our part can do it.

Folks, please chip-in with your views.



Anonymous said...

Good to see this blog! I'm sure it's going to make very interesting reading in the days to come...

I've just read your points (very quickly) and would like to express some thoughts (sorry, it's a bit long!)

Although breaches of confidence, fraud and misuse of private information happen everywhere, the challenge facing a country like India, is that the legal infrastructure doesn't seem to be able to handle these incidents as well as in (some) other countries. My impression of the Indian legal system is that since the authorities are so bogged down with 'more serious' more, it does not take much for the average person to think that they will get away with smaller offences - in particular where the breaches aren't criminal, but civil. So in addition to building up the physical infrastructure, resources need to be spent in fortifying the legal infrastructure as well. Perhaps you have some ideas on how this is to be achieved? My knowledge of the Indian system, is limited to say the least.

A related, interesting, point is that I recently asked a guest speaker at my college about why Western firms are beginning to prefer India to e.g. China. The speaker, an experienced Corporate Lawyer from the City, who sits as a Non-Executive Director on various firms, replied that it was the 'legal system'! He was highly appreciative of the fact that when, during a recent visit to Mumbai, he mentioned to some officials that a particular area of regulation was lacking in effectiveness (I forget which - it was very technical, related to transport, I believe, but not really relevant), the rules were altered to reflect his advice quite promptly.

Not sure how much importance to place on that, but maybe you have some thoughts.

On the Unionisation point - what is happening to French economy and the recent election results are a case in point to the crippling effects such groups. What do you do, however, when there are such disparities of income, a multitude of social divisions, and a distinct lack of education: all of which create easy avenues for opportunistic leaders to emerge and sway the crowds for their own self interest?

Looking forward to reading more from you...

Anonymous said...

Kya baat hein. Good idea to provide a scribble board for dift and vocal opinions.
Like the icon too - Could see few thought provoking lines in your 'Taj Corridor'
Keep up the good writing

Unknown said...

Great idea to interact in this way.
I am not quite sure about the Taj mahal though. Inspirational it of course is but not even a fleeting thought is ordinarily given to the fate of the 22,000 workers that created it.
The disparity and disillusionment that must have set in their minds reflects what is happening even today.
And then easy money and doing things 'just for fun' are the typical behaviours of the teenagers and the youth who are the main workforce of the BPOs or so i understand

Ninad said...

I happened to hear a discussion on BBC 4, where an Industry leader was bemoaning the fact that though opportunities for business in India are immense and almost at par with those in China,the difference lies in the fact that bribery gets jobs done in China within specified time frames whereas the same cannot be said about India.So much for the choice between a shining stable democracy and a surging autocracy! Would there be a finite period for the 'economic cooperation honeymoon'....?
A point...I am seeing full - Page 2 & 3 - articles on India (not highlighting poverty!) in the NYT...this is new...for whatever reason the country is being acknowledged.
Hey hi nase thodakey.........
Its good to blog...

Anonymous said...

Dear Abhay,

First and foremost, please accept my heartiest congratulations for your initiative. Your views are correct and appreciated. Would add my comments soon.



Unknown said...

hi abhudada, its really nice to know about ur concept.. it would be an experience to discuss & debate on various topics in a group.. n may b smthing good will actually start happening.. great going.. i would take sm time to i shall certainly do it.. take care..amit

Abhay Valsangkar said...

Dear Friends…It is so heartening to note that some really stimulating debate has begun just within a day of the blog creation. Apart from the response comments you see on the blog, I have also received several emails. So, all in all, looks like a great start for all of us. Praaj, Lata, Ninad, Amar, Deepak and Amit, special thanks to you for your contributions. Each one of you have made some very special and interesting points. Pls stay tuned for more and more such interactive discussions on various topics of our collective interest. And finally friends: I am sure, you have noticed that very divergent views are surfacing over here—completely in tune with our core beliefs around ‘free’ thinking and ‘liberal’ disposition. Cheers..Abhay

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Hi Abhay the Lion King.Your den will be something to look forward to..intellectually stimulating with cocktails.How can I ever forget your mastery on cocktails.
Well on another note you have really initiated an interesting topic.Just two weeks back I was at an European conference showcasing the growing consumerism in India and the opportunity for healthcare cos. to bring their consumer healthcare products here.And in the same meeting I also showed the India Poised commercial which was shot with Amitabh Bachhan.While I got a standing ovation for it,the heartening fact was the number of people who were wanting to know more about how to enter the Indian OTC market.Well the euphoria did die,when I came back and saw the controversy on the Shilpa Shetty and Richard Gere kiss.And I was just thinking ,are we really a progressive India.Interestingly as I read somewhere about the difference between India and US..In US you are free to kiss but you get fined if you pee on the road.In India you are free to pee on the road but get fined if you are caught kissing..
So that's for now .Will keep looking out for your blogs..all the best.




Unknown said...

Hey Abhay,

Great idea to have a blog....I liked the page. Surely look fwd to visiting it often.

i truly believe that India is on it's way for a bright future...the elephant is awakening and is going to shake the world.


Anonymous said...

Sitting overseas and keeping uptodate with India through web TOI and NDTV, there was an erruption of millions of thoughts when I saw this blog.

To simplify it is the attitude and not the abilty that really matters, isnt it ? We have always had the ability but our attitude to any type of work has always been very pathetic.

I think in India we have had an overdose of perceived success thanks to IT boom, frequent young travellers to US and the clever marketing of foreign brands into the country.

For many of us we have succeeded inspite of lack of Infrastructre so far.This means we do have something that rest of the world doesn't. So we can't be replaced!!

Growth is one thing and sustaining and building on it is another.

We need a clear vision as to where we are,what we need and, how we motivate people from all sectors [ Not only from IT] to get there.

The messgae is automatically translated to the common man. The least he does is keeps the country less filthy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Abhudada,
Blogging sure has come of age and kudos to you for making the effort. My personal take on India's competitive advantage and its medium to long term sustainability, really hinges on two core, intertwined factors. The first is governance - or indeed the lack of it. Lousy governance prevalent across our country (with a few notable exceptions) can single-handedly neutralise all our intrinsic strenghts which led to the build-up of our competitive advantage in the first place. Bureauocratic reforms, empowering local self government bodies, accountability audits etc are a few of the things which come to mind which might help tackle this malaise.

The other factor is the non-participation of our intellingentsia in the processes which underpin our democracy. In the longer term, our fledgling democracy is unlikely to succeed without a wider, active participation by the Indian "Bhadralok" in political institutions and processes.

The reason these two maladies are inter-related is; the second creates the first and ironically, the first feeds off the latter, giving rise to a vicious Brechtian cycle, which needs to be broken.

Bombaiya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bombaiya said...


It is good to see your blogg and innovative way to meet you.

Mean while here some brain teasers from me.

I hope you will keep sharing fresh thoughts regularly.

mahendra inamdar

Abhay Valsangkar said...

Friends....I am indeed thankful to each one of you for your very valuable contributions.Going forward, I plan to generate such debates/discussions on various subjects of our collective interests and request you to initiate similar discussion from time to time as well.Going by the no.of posts(and more importantly quality of these posts), I am confident that we can utilise this space for collective interaction and learning.
And finally,Mohinish wrote to me as follows:

I finally read the entire blog in detail. Very stimulating indeed Abhay.

I think in the same spirit , its so frustrating for Indians to see PILs being filed for immorality while millions of go without food clothes and shelter… its this strangeness is the real India. Its something to do with our legacy of the freedom struggle.. and the genesis of democracy.

In fact think about it… what if we actually earned our freedom in 1857…what would India been like? I suspect more like Afghanistan ….well that’s another story.

Great thought to put up your blog.

Look forward to your next posts. Its added in my favorites.

Warm Regards…Mohinish

I'll be back soon..Cheers...Abhay

Anonymous said...


One of the anonymous comment was mine, as I battled to get around.

I can see that the blog is gaining momentum and its really fun to read different point of views.

Look forward to more initiatives.

Abs said...

Hi Baba!
Sorry for the late reply. As I have already told you, creating your own blog is certainly a very good idea.

I don't know how far you would agree with me, but I believe the concept of 'India Advantage' is or was much like a balloon. It bloated in the beginning and when it became too big to handle, the balloon burst.

The concept of outsourcing was a novel idea in the Indian industry; therefore India enjoyed the benefits of the same.
Outsourcing to India has become one of the most popular management practices today. India, because of its cost effective solutions became a popular offshore outsourcing location. Although the cost effectiveness was an important advantage of outsourcing, countries like the UK and USA provided several backlashes against India over offshore labour. Many leading newspapers carried articles with headlines like:

·"America's pain, India's gain", The Economist, Jan 2003
·"Is your job next?” Business Week, Feb 2003
·"Study sees 406,000 U.S. jobs shifted overseas in 2004", Financial Times, Oct 2004

However, despite the initial anti outsourcing backlash, benefits from outsourcing are very tangibly felt in many economies. I believe the very foundation of success of these economies lies in opportunity and innovation, making it difficult for anyone or anything to paralyse its workers or its economy. Even the media headlines began to change:

·"Stop Blaming Bangalore For Our Jobs Problem", Fortune, Apr 2004
·"UBS Study Finds Outsourcing Not Big Hit to U.S. Jobs Market", The Wall Street Journal, Oct 2004.

As you mentioned, India is a talent rich country and also offers the largest pool of technical skills in the world. The creativity combined with experience helps Indian vendors deliver high quality work in a wide range of services such as e-commerce, business process re-engineering etc. I read somewhere; about 80% North American companies prefer India most while outsourcing business process. I must admit I was a little surprised because the reason mentioned in the article was India’s “exceptionally good” education system, for example, IIT. India also has the largest network in Asia with nearly 20 million telephone lines expanding at the rate of more than 20% a year.

I believe all this seemed to be rosy in the beginning, however, just like you; I believe the ‘India Advantage’ seems to be diminishing.

·Outsourcing business process means loss of managerial control. It is difficult to manage outsourcing service provider as compared to managing one's own employees

·Threat to security and confidentiality of issues of company

·Outsourcing results in possible loss of flexibility in reacting to changing business conditions lack of internal and external customer focus and sharing cost savings

·Loss of internally generated
talent. For example, it may hamper the growth of an employee by depriving him from the experience he would have gained by handling the business issue himself then by passing it over to some other external party


·Handicapped legal system