Saturday, April 30, 2011

The great Indian food price trick

These days one of the hottest topics being discussed in the print and electronic media is the rising food inflation. Politicians in India are aware of the fact that rising food prices can cost them their chairs and hence seem to be swift in dealing with price rice of sugar or potato. What has disappointed me is that most of these actions are very reactive and never address the root cause of this issue.

This topic is a favorite of mine because of a personal experience. When I was a student, I have often looked at the Tandoori (grilled) whole chicken on display in the streets of Trivandrum with hungry eyes. I could have bought them if I wanted to , but gave it a pass. Almost a year after landing on a job, one day I decided to eat this chicken. I pulled Rs 300 from an ATM and ordered half chicken, could barely eat it and had to pay only Rs 95. (I was willing to pay Rs 300 for it). I went back home, narrated my experience to members of my family and said .." This is going to be a problem, there are millions of young men like me with disposable income now, that previous generations did not have and are willing to pay "premium prices to eat"; Its just a matter of time before they raise the price of such food". My parents were quick to remind me that young people with disposable income is still a small minority in the vast population of India. A month after my statement President Bush made a similar statement about rising income levels in the developing world being the primary driver behind rising food prices across the globe. I stood vindicated.

Then and now I have thought about this problem and observed the reactions of our politicians and policy makers only to be frustrated at the lack of a long term plan to address this issue. Flush with foreign reserves, what we do is to import on a knee jerk basis commodities from global market and sell them at subsidized rates at home, just to keep the prices in check and the chairs in tact.

I come from a semi agrarian family and hence is aware of the mismatch in prices between what the farmer gets Vs what price it is retailed at. This mismatch in my opinion is the first thing to address. With Public Distribution System, the Govt has demonstrated , how inefficient and wasteful they can run a system. Millions of tons of food grains rot in public warehouses while people go hungry. ( ) The middle class and upper middle class that are the price drivers have anyway detached themselves from the PDS. What the Govt hence must do is to create an infrastructure and climate for the efficient procurement of agricultural products from the farmers and sell them at below retail prices across in India by private players.
Only large private groups with massive logistics can make this happen. The trick will be to allow multiple players to compete for the market share thus promoting an atmosphere of efficiency. Properly regulated, such a system will ensure stability of food prices and a steady availability of these commodities. The cell phone market in India is a good example of this model, where competition drove the prices down. A regulator like TRAI can be formed to ensure that the playing field is maintained level at all times.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

People , Place and Time

There might be some more people apart from me , who tend to reflect on their lives several times a day. For many years I have tried to recollect my earliest memories and that happen to be when I was something like three years old. Back then in the place I was , had good insulation from the outside world. Like thousands of villages in India , back then things around me seldom changed. Just like they say .. Ignorance is bliss.

Looking back at my life gave me feeling of warmth, the nostalgic warmth that you can create any time you want. It helped me survive the long sermons and Sunday mass. During travel , when you had no book or good company in hand, these recollection of memories kept one busy. By the time I reached college I became a pro in this, so much so that I could name most of the advertisements they showed in DD 15 to 20 years back. The recollection exercise pulled out movies, songs, books, and stories out of oblivion. These formed the backdrop(background music as well) to good times that you had as a child. Living amongst cousins and uncles was great fun. Living in a village means playgrounds were available.

Many a times we will have to leave behind people , places or both which were close to our hearts That these were invaluable is often realized , when we are away from them. When we hear that there is reunion of the loved ones , our heart yearns to be there. It is this nostalgic drive that tempt us to attend high school reunions, sidelining other engagements. Unfortunately I have found that time takes a toll (change) on people and places that we left behind. Reunions fail to recreate the old magic.I have eagerly awaited the arrival of cousins and uncles, with whom I had great time during my childhood. With a mind full of cherished memories and plans to bring the old times back, I reach them. Its changed people in changed situations that welcomes me. These can be called the inevitabilities of life. The new situations might create new magic and new memories to be cherished, but the old ones become the real life counterparts of irreproducible bugs in software.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quotable Quotes

I have been tagged again by Neena and this time its about catchy lines from books that I have read.
Jot down 5 of your favorite quotes from the various books you’ve read. If you don’t have the books with you now, googling (Wikiquotes and the like) can be used to find them. Tag five people and acknowledge the person who tagged you. This what the source blog says and that’s what I'll try to do.

Let the first one be from the most popular book of all times.

Jesus: "Wisdom is justified of all her children. "
The Gospel according to Luke Chapter 7 verse 35

Sherlock Holmes: "Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius" . The Valley of Fear " Sir Arthur Conan Doyle .

Arun : I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination. . Interpreter of Maladies , Jhumpa Lahiri

Vito Corleone : "Never get angry. Never make a threat. Reason with People. ”
The Godfather , Mario Puzo

Chacko: "What is mine is mine and what's yours is also mine"
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

Friday, July 18, 2008


I have been tagged by Neena , this is first time I'm getting tagged, so I will give my best shot.

8 things I am passionate about
News -
be that be in any format, electronic, print, word of mouth
Hindi Music- All the way from Naushad, Salil Chaudhary to Nadeem Shravan and A.R Rehman.
Economic Development of India - This is how, I stop looking at the watch when traveling alone.
Humor- I love good jokes and people who have good humor sense
Movies - The ones that are worth watching
Books - The ones that make nice reading.
Food- I like all the Syrian Christian dishes and crazy about Kadumanga(the authentic one)
Sleep - Always wanted to sleep under a clear starry sky ... (ain't that cool? )

8 things I want to do before I die

Write a thriller novel -
The plot should be such that, anybody who starts reading it wont stop till the last line.
Visit South America - Anybody who have seen or read "Motorcycle Diaries" would agree.
Learn to Play Violin- This is a bit too much to ask for ..but then again, I want to do it.
Start a Restaurant - The one which serves hygienic Kerala dishes.
Teach in a College - Where they listen to what is being spoken.
Meet Aamir Khan , Kiran Bedi- Want to tell them, how I admired their work, with respect to their colleagues.
Well thats six, but I am just 25 so should leave some space for the future dreams.

8 things I say often:

Oho..athu shari
Dai dai .. very good ketta
CIDs ... Escape !!!
aaaa... varunnoooo
am (cheyyam, pokam, varaam)
I understand that, but my point is
oodi rakshapetto
Avide oru pennu vannu nikkunnathu , nammalu sradhichilla alle?

8 books I last read
Small Is Beautiful ( some chapters randomly)
The Negotiator
The Alchemist
Treasure Island ...(read it for the upteenth time, last time for my 8 year old nephew)
Interpreter of Maladies
Cat O nine tales
The Da Vinci Code
The Key to Rebecca

8 songs I could listen to over and over again

Dheere dheere se meri zindagi mai
Mera dil bhi Kitna pagal hai
Teri aankhon ke siwa
Beat it
Aadi vaa kaattae
Mazha peyyumbol vayalukalil vithukal potti mulakkunnu.
Thaalathil vellameduthu

I tag

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The great proffesional life trick

Anybody who reads The Hindu Opportunities , or glanced the "new HR trends" articles would be aware of the line "balancing the professional and personal life". I believe this is one of the fundamental determinants of the HR policies of any respectable organization. Yet there are thousands of disgruntled employees in the post liberalization job boom era, simply because they cannot do the balancing act. Private organizations which fueled this job boom is always on a quarter to quarter bottom line chase. This chase ultimately results in ever shrinking deadlines and insurmountable targets.

Being the only son in my family , I often think what decision I should take, if there arose a toss between my parents or my professional life. What should one do when, one have an ailing parent, or a wife and kid on one side and a lucrative onsite opportunity on the other side? As Peter Lynch the former fund manager of fidelity said " After you retire , you never regret for not having spent one more extra hour in office". So it is always personal relationships and associated memories that we are going to cherish. At the same time , I believe proffesional achievements give us that sense of accomplishment in the retired life.

One group that is asked to call this toss on a regular basis is working women. It is digestible to think about a husband leaving his family back and flying off to a foreign country to work. What if the same opportunity is presented to a wife or even worse, to a mother of two kids? The call to family duty is always strong, but there is also a societal pressure to comply to the accepted model. Often women are not considered for senior management posts simply because, they can never be expected to meet the demands of such a job. How many companies have HR policies that truly accepts the double role that women have to play and yet give them a chance? . In that perspective most organizations are chauvinistic. Women folks here must understand that, most of these organizations are trying to run a business and not trying to prove some lofty morals.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to listen to a talk by the Miss Patty Morrison VP and CIO of Motorola Inc. Her profile ( ) , illustrates why she is considered a true winner, yet in the talk she mentioned , a phase of her life when she had to travel hundreds of miles from office to home on a weekly basis. On one side she oversaw SAP implementations and on the personal side, she had to suffer some really bad misfortunes. When the going gets tough , the tough gets going.
Towers like Miss Morrison stand tall, because most of the ordinary folks are never that tough. Yet it is the ordinary humans that comprise the bulk of most organizations, and without them the towers will never be made.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Credits

Year 2002 is when I wrote my first blog, but it is only very recently that I found , how to write interesting blogs that would tempt others also to read it. All the credits to this new outlook goes to my good old friend Arun Suresh and his fellow bloggers. Special mention about Nasia, whose blogs I felt inspired Arun . I hope, time , imagination and the urge to blog, happens to me also.