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What’s the Most Valuable Asset to Build Wealth? Hint: It’s You!

Can you guess what the best asset is for building wealth? It’s not money, gold, or property—it’s you! In The Book of Wealth, Mark Mobius reveals the secrets to true prosperity by emphasizing the importance of investing in your skills, education, and attitude. By focusing on personal development, you can unlock boundless potential and set the stage for lasting success. Ready to transform your future and achieve greatness? Start by investing in yourself!

 

 

The Book of Wealth
The Book of Wealth || Mark Mobius

***

In order to be wealthy, you need to have assets. Assets can be money, gold and other precious metals, property, stocks, bonds, art, jewellery and many other things. But many people forget the most important asset: themselves.

 

So, the first step towards fortune begins with investing in your best asset—you. Your earning power will depend on how well you have trained and educated yourself. If you want to earn money as a health trainer, it is vital for you to develop your own body so you can demonstrate to others how good you look, which will attract customers to you. If you want to earn money as a carpenter, you must try your best to learn from the most skilled experts so you can demand the highest appreciation and income.

 

When you realize that you are your best investment, you will begin to make conscious decisions to focus on your development and well-being. You will begin to see that your success in becoming wealthy will depend on the foundation you have built in your own education, experience, social status and influence.

 

You, like others, are a unique individual, and you, like others, have boundless potential that can be unlocked by investing in your skills, education and health. A critical aspect of this is self-empowerment, where you control your destiny and become less reliant on external factors. You become more self-sufficient, which boosts your confidence and resilience.

 

An important aspect of this is gaining knowledge and expanding your horizons, beyond your current community and into the ever-changing world. This will enhance your ability to innovate and find new paths to success. A key item of self-development is setting high goals. You must dream of great things and aspire to what you normally would not imagine you can achieve. This way, you will both consciously and unconsciously take proactive steps towards reaching your dreams. Amazon’s growth is an example of this.

 

When you are considered for a job or have been hired to do a job, the people you work for and with will evaluate you and consider what you bring to the task at hand. In addition to your education and experience, people will consider your attitude. If you have a bad attitude, it can pull energy out of the workplace. That bad attitude will be like a poison pill and damage the work environment and the group objectives. A good and positive attitude can penetrate a group and organization, leading to success for all concerned and contributing to your individual success too. Always remember what Zig Ziglar said: ‘Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.’ It is about your positivity: How do you react when things get challenging or tough?

 

What will contribute to and create a good attitude for you? First, you need to be grateful for the opportunities you get for success. Second, you must be optimistic in the face of risks and danger. Someone once said, ‘The world belongs to optimists.’

 

***

Get your copy of The Book of Wealth by Mark Mobius on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

7 Must-Read Books to Understand Indian Economics Before You Vote

As the 2024 elections continue, understanding Indian Economics and its issues is key for informed voting. With a complex landscape shaped by rapid growth, persistent challenges, and reforms, Indian Economics is at a pivotal juncture. Understanding its intricacies can empower voters to make decisions as India stands on the brink of significant change. Dive into these seven must-read books, packed with insights to help you make sense of it all and vote wisely for a brighter future.

 

India in Search of Glory
India in Search of Glory || Ashok

India and the Indians have made some progress in 75 years after Independence. The number of literates has gone up. The Indians have become healthier and their life expectancy at birth has gone up. The proportion of people below the poverty line has also halved. But the shine from the story fades when India is compared with that of the East Asian Tigers and China. It looks good but not good enough. India looks far away from the glory it seeks. This issue forms the core subject matter of this book. It tries to argue why India could not achieve more and what all it could have achieved. It paints a picture of its possible future and highlights the areas that need immediate attention.

 

Quest for Restoring Financial Stability in India
Quest for Restoring Financial Stability in India || Viral V. Acharya

How to maintain financial stability in India? Quest for Restoring Financial Stability in India is a classic work to understand this critical subject. In this Penguin edition, with a new introduction, Viral V. Acharya, former Deputy Governor of RBI offers a concrete road map for comprehensive improvement of India’s economy. Authoritative and definitive, this is a must read for the students and scholars of Indian economy, policymakers and anyone interested in India’s finance sector.

 

Breaking the Mould
Breaking the Mould || Raghuram Rajan, Rohit Lamba

India is at a crossroads today. Its growth rate, while respectable relative to other large countries, is too low for the jobs our youth need. Intense competition in low-skilled manufacturing, increasing protectionism globally and growing automation make the situation still more difficult. Divisive majoritarianism does not help. India
broke away from the standard development path—from agriculture to low-skilled manufacturing, then high-skilled manufacturing and, finally, services—a long time back by leapfrogging the intermediate steps. Rather than attempting to revert to development paths that may not be feasible any more, we must embark on a truly Indian path.

In Breaking the Mould, the authors explain how we can accelerate economic development by investing in our people’s human capital, expanding opportunities in high-skilled services and manufacturing centred on innovative new products, and making India a ferment of ideas and creativity. India’s democratic traditions will support this path, helped further by governance reforms, including strengthening our democratic institutions and greater decentralization.

 

Slip, Stitch & Stumble
Slip, Stitch & Stumble || Rajrishi Singhal

Manmohan Singh’s 1991 Union Budget speech made history by altering the course of the Indian
economy, especially its financial sector. His measures took a broom to multiple cobwebs in this sector. What Manmohan Singh started over three decades ago is still a work in progress today, but it does raise some questions: Why did he focus on financial sector reforms? What has motivated continuing these reforms?
This book tries to answer questions like these while focusing on the evolution of financial sector reforms which, oddly, remain incomplete even after thirty years. The fabric of this sector has been fraying and initiatives over the past three decades have resembled hasty, temporary needlework; the patchwork, incomplete reforms make the sector further vulnerable to failure. Hence: Slip, Stitch and Stumble.

 

India's Finance Ministers
India’s Finance Ministers || A.K. Bhattacharya

India’s Finance Ministers: Stumbling into Reforms (From 1977 to 1998) is the second volume in the series of books on some of India’s unforgettable finance ministers. Analysing the role of India’s finance ministers who managed India’s economy during one of its worst phases (post Emergency to the late 1990s), the book highlights the lasting impact they left on India’s political economy. This volume also provides a fascinating account of India’s economic history offering an incisive view of the key events in India’s journey from an closed, agrarian economy to a liberal economy.

 

Economic Sutra
Economic Sutra|| Satish Y. Deodhar, YS Rajan

A general perception exists that ancient Indian literature on economic matters is fatalistic and an admixture of sacred and secular thoughts. Economic Sutra provides a comprehensive perspective on the elements of Indian economic thought leading up to and after the Arthashastra. Economic Sutra is a perception-correction initiative to distil the Indian mind in the realm of economic thoughts and behaviour as brought out by the ancient Indian authors. It highlights the broader spread of economic ideas both prior to and sometime after Kautilya, giving insights into the purpose, actions and vision of our forefathers.

Poor Economics
Poor Economics || Abhijit V Banerjee, Esther Duflo

Imagine you have a few million dollars. You want to spend it on the poor. How do you go about it? Billions of government dollars, and thousands of charitable organizations and NGOs, are dedicated to helping the world’s poor. But much of their work is based on assumptions about the poor and the world that are untested generalizations at best, harmful misperceptions at worst.

Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo have pioneered the use of randomized control trials in development economics through their award-winning Poverty Action Lab. They argue that by using randomized control trials, and more generally, by paying careful attention to the evidence, it is possible to make accurate-and often startling assessments-on what really impacts the poor and what doesn’t.

Are You Election-Ready? Check Out these 12 Essential Books Before You Vote!

With the 2024 elections in full swing, it’s time to prepare ourselves. We’ve put together a list of 12 essential books that you absolutely need to check out before you cast your vote. These books cover everything from politics to policies, helping you make a well-informed decision when it’s time to hit the polling booth. Let’s dive in and get election-ready together!

Caste as a Social Capital
Caste as Social Capital || R Vaidyanathan

Caste as Social Capital examines the workings of caste through the lens of business, economics and entrepreneurship. It interrogates the role caste plays in the economic sphere in terms of facilitating the nuts and bolts of business and entrepreneurship: finance, markets and workforce. Through this qualitative view of caste, an entirely new picture emerges, which forces one to view the age-old institution of caste in a new light.

 

Price of the Modi Years
Price of the Modi Years || Aakar Patel

Columnist, author and political commentator, Aakar Patel has long been a close observer of the political scenario. In Price of the Modi Years, he seeks to explain the data and facts on India’s performance under Narendra Modi.

Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, had once said that Modi would be a disaster as prime minister. This book shows how. It concedes Modi’s popularity; this is an accounting of the damage he has wrought. It is the history of India since 2014, assessing the damage across the polity from the economy, national security, federalism, foreign relations, legislations and the judiciary to media and civil society.

 

The Essentials of Hinduism
The Essentials of Hinduism || Trilochan Sastry

Hinduism is an ancient religion, philosophy and way of life. Unlike other great religions that are based on a small set of books, there are hundreds of texts in Hinduism, most of which are very voluminous. They span not merely centuries, but millennia. And most importantly, these ancient scriptures are all in Sanskrit which many do not know. Therefore for a beginner with an interest in Hinduism it is a daunting task as you don’t know where to start such a study.
In The Essentials of Hinduism, Trilochan Sastry unpacks all the ancient texts from the Vedas to the epics covering the entire range of scriptures and everything you need to know about them in an easy-to-read and accessible way making it of special interest to Hindus and those from other religions and nations, and even those who are agnostic or atheistic.

 

Modi and India
Modi and India || Rahul Shivshankar, Siddhartha Talya

In 2014, the BJP, under the leadership of Modi, won a clear majority in the Lok Sabha elections. The National Democratic Alliance’s triumph ended a nearly two-and-a-half-decade run of mostly messy coalition governments. In 2019, the BJP further improved its tally, cementing its parliamentary majority and its ability to ring in transformational laws and policies. Most of the initiatives taken by the Modi-led NDA have been aimed at positioning Bharat as a ‘Vishwa Guru’—an exemplar of moral righteousness, a pluralistic democracy led by dharma and drawing sustenance from the wellspring of an eternal Hindu universalism.

Evocative, anecdotal, argumentative and deeply researched, Modi and India: 2024 and the Battle for Bharat chronicles the emergence of, and the battle for, a new republic in the making.

 

A New Idea of India
A New Idea of India || Harsh Madhusudan, Rajeev Mantri

 

A New Idea of India constructs and expounds on a new framework beyond the rough and tumble of partisan politics. Lucid in its laying out of ideas and policies while taking a novel position, this book is illuminated by years of research and the authors’ first-hand experiences, as citizens, entrepreneurs and investors, of the vagaries and challenges of India. This revised edition builds on some of the arguments of the earlier edition and brings things up-to-date.

 

Curfewed Night
Curfewed Night || Basharat Peer

Basharat Peer was a teenager when the separatist movement exploded in Kashmir in 1989. Over the following years countless young men, seduced by the romance of the militant, fuelled by feelings of injustice, crossed over the Line of Control to train in Pakistani army camps. Peer was sent off to boarding school in Aligarh to keep out of trouble. He finished college and became a journalist in Delhi. But Kashmir-angrier, more violent, more hopeless-was never far away.

 

Lyrical, spare, gutwrenching and intimate, Curfewed Night is a stunning book and an unforgettable portrait of Kashmir in war.

 

 

The Politician Redux
The Politician Redux || Devesh Verma

Ram Mohan, an ambitious man in newly independent India, refuses to let his humble origins define him. On a mission to build a political career, he realizes that the only way to live a respectable life is to hold some kind of power.

When the Congress high command vetoes Ram Mohan’s inclusion in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet, Saansad-ji, the state’s chief minister, appoints him as member, UP Public Service Commission, Allahabad. Though non-political, the position has a high social status, and Ram Mohan quickly takes a shine to it. Meanwhile, the JP movement continues to challenge the Congress regime, surging through large parts of India and setting the stage for Indira Gandhi’s downfall.

A sequel to the critically acclaimed The Politician, this new novel, set in the 1970s to 1980s north India, provides a captivating, vivid view of the political battles of that era, and captures the spirit, manners and social conditions of a transformational phase in Indian history.

 

After Messiah
After Messiah || Aakar Patel

‘Everyone bowed to the Big Man. He was glorified, deified even, with temples raised to him, as the embodiment of the nation.’

Now the Big Man is gone, with nobody named as his successor. Into this void is pushed Mira, who is reluctant at first but increasingly interested in the position she finds herself in. Will she use her authority to further her agenda, or will she hold on to her principles? Watched by her political rivals, Jayeshbhai and Swamiji, and guided by well-wishers Ayesha, Prabhu and Du Bois, she marches on and discovers something about power-and about herself.

The Quest for Modern Assam
The Quest for Modern Assam || Arupjyoti Saikia

Definitive, comprehensive and unputdownable, The Quest for Modern Assam explores the interconnected layers of political, environmental, economic and cultural processes that shaped the development of Assam since the 1940s. It offers an authoritative account that sets new standards in the writing of regional political history. Not to be missed by any one keen on Assam, India, Asia or world history in the twentieth century.

 

Another India
Another India || Pratinav Anil

Another India tells the story of the world’s biggest religious minority through vivid biographical portraits that weave together the stories of both elite and subaltern Muslims.

By challenging traditional histories and highlighting the neglect of minority rights since Independence, Pratinav Anil argues that Muslims, since 1947, have had to contend with discrimination, disadvantage, deindustrialization, dispossession and disenfranchisement, as well as an unresponsive leadership. He explores the rise and fall of the Indian Muslim elite and the birth of the nationalist Muslim, and emphasizes the importance of class in understanding the dynamics of Indian politics.

 

Post-Hindu India
Post-Hindu India || Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd pens a thought-provoking critique of Brahmanism and the caste system in India, while anticipating the death of Hinduism as a direct consequence of, what he says is, its anti-scientific and anti-nationalistic stand. This work challenges Hinduism`s interpretation of history, with a virulent attack on caste politics, and also takes a refreshing look at the necessity of encouraging indigenous scientific thought for the sake of national progress.

 

The Politician
The Politician || Devesh Verma

Ram Mohan is an intrepid and ambitious young man in newly independent India, who refuses to be held down by his humble origins. Spurred on by his diehard optimism, he aims for things usually inaccessible to people of his extraction. However, he soon realizes that without political or bureaucratic power, the idea of a respectable life in India is nothing but pretence, and when Gulab Singh rescues him from being insulted by a thug, Ram Mohan becomes persuaded of the efficacy of violence in certain situations . . .

Beginning at the peak of Nehruvian era and ending in the early seventies, The Politician is an enthralling, evocative view of provincial northern India-once the political heartland of the country-and the ebb and flow of the fortunes of its protagonists.

Here’s What Really Happened in the 2G Spectrum Scam!

Ever wondered what really happened behind the scenes of the infamous 2G spectrum scam?
Just a Mercenary? by D. Subbarao unveils the truth, inviting you into the dynamic world of bureaucratic processes, policy decisions, and public perception. In this exclusive excerpt, Subbarao shares his firsthand experience with the 2G spectrum controversy, offering a raw and honest look at the challenges of decision-making in Indian governance.

 

Continue reading to immerse yourself in an account brimming with insight and introspection.

Just a Mercenary
Just a Mercenary || D. Subbarao

 

In 2007, the Department of Telecom (DoT) under the ministerial charge of A. Raja of the DMK, a partner in the UPA coalition, determined that there was a case for licensing more 2G operators in each of the twenty-three telecom circles in the country in order to encourage competition in the sector. The department consulted TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), and TRAI, in turn, endorsed the need to increase the number of operators and recommended that fresh licensees should be given spectrum at the same price at which incumbent operators had gotten it, which was the price set in an auction in 2001. The absence of a level playing field, TRAI argued, would disadvantage fresh entrants and defeat the goal of deepening telecom services.

 

The 2001 cabinet decision stipulated that all future pricing of spectrum would be decided jointly by DoT and the Ministry of Finance. When the issue came to the finance ministry for opinion, I took the view that it would be inappropriate to sell spectrum in 2007–08 at a price set in 2001 and that we must rediscover the price through a fresh auction. My opinion was informed by the experience in India and around the world during the intervening years that spectrum was a scarcer commodity than originally believed. It was only appropriate that the government should garner a part of that scarcity premium by rediscovering the price through a fresh auction.

 

The DoT wrote back to say that they saw no reason to revisit the pricing issue and that they preferred to go along with the TRAI recommendation. For sure, there was some logic to the DoT position. If the objective was to deepen telecom penetration, it made sense to keep the price of spectrum low; competition among operators would then ensure that the lower price was passed on to customers.

 

Even as this disagreement on pricing remained unresolved, the DoT went ahead and invited applications for licences in September 2007 and awarded 120 licences to forty-six companies on 10 January 2008. Although these licences were given away at the 2001 price, the licence agreement contained a clause that the price could be increased later to accommodate the possibility of the finance ministry’s view prevailing.

 

The whole licencing process turned out to be controversial and contentious. There were allegations of arbitrarily advancing the cut-off date for receipt of applications, abrupt announcement of the successful applicants, tampering with the first come, first served principle and allowing a very narrow window for payment of the licence fee to favour some parties. This licensing part was an issue in which I was neither involved nor had any locus standi.

 

In July 2008, some six months after the licences were issued, the two ministers, Finance Minister Chidambaram and Telecom Minister Raja, reached an agreement that this round of 2G spectrum would be given at the 2001 price while all future spectrum, including 3G, which was then on the anvil, would be auctioned. Both ministers presented this agreed package to the prime minister at a meeting where I was present. I recorded that decision in the file.

 

In the months after the issue of licences, stray reports began appearing that spectrum had been given away at a throwaway price. These reports gained momentum when two of the licensees were able to sell equity to foreign investors at a huge premium, suggesting that the true value of spectrum was much higher than what was reflected in the 2001 price.

 

Very soon the trickle of allegations of corruption turned into a flood. That the government had ignored the advice of its own finance secretary added fuel to the fire. There was a furore in the parliament. The decision was attacked in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) ordered a CBI investigation, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) decided to take up a special performance audit and a public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court. This meant that the 2G issue was simultaneously the subject of a CBI investigation, a PAC inquiry, a CAG special audit and a Supreme Court probe. And subsequently, it would be the subject matter of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) inquiry as well.

 

The CAG report, signed off by Vinod Rai, incidentally my IAS batchmate, was tabled in the parliament in November 2010. Its most important conclusion was that the government had incurred a ‘presumptive loss’ of Rs 1.76 trillion by selling spectrum at below market price. This huge number, as much as 3.6 per cent of GDP, was explosive and turned the 2G issue into a full-blown scam.

 

***

Intrigued to know if Subbarao was a hero or villain in the 2G scam?

Get your copy of Just a Mercenary? by D. Subbarao wherever books are sold.

Amazon Vs Walmart: Who’s Winning the Battle for Your Buck?

Curious about the evolving retail landscape and the roles played by industry giants like Amazon and Walmart? In Nirmalya Kumar‘s Clash, find out how these titans impact the lives of everyday consumers, giving a new meaning to digital convenience and challenging the traditional shopping experience. ​

Read this excerpt as the world’s two largest companies, redefine retail and business best practices, and fight the ultimate battle for your buck!

CLASH
CLASH: Amazon vs Walmart || Nirmalya Kumar

***

In the charming suburban town of Harmonyville lived a woman named Elimijn, a dedicated and caring housewife. Her days were filled with taking care of her family, managing the household and pursuing her creative hobbies. Two giants, Amazon and Walmart, played unexpected and integral roles in her life’s journey.

 

Elimijn was an avid reader and an aspiring artist. She loved exploring different genres of books and finding new sources of inspiration for her art. Amazon became her digital haven, offering an extensive collection of books, art supplies and crafting tools. With a few clicks, Elimijn could order the latest bestseller, a set of watercolour paints or even a specialized easel, all delivered right to her doorstep.

 

But Elimijn’s affection for retail didn’t end online. Walmart, with its sprawling store just a short drive away, provided a unique sensory experience. Elimijn enjoyed the tactile pleasure of wandering through its aisles, exploring a vast variety of products. She would often visit with a list in hand, making her way through the neatly organized shelves, hand-picking fresh groceries, household essentials and even some affordable fashion finds.

 

What set Amazon and Walmart apart in Elimijn’s heart was their balance in her life. Amazon’s convenience saved her time and effort, allowing her to spend more precious moments with her family and immerse herself in her hobbies. On the other hand, Walmart’s physical presence gave her a chance to step out, breathe in the air and indulge in a bit of old-fashioned retail therapy.

 

During holidays, Amazon’s quick shipping helped Elimijn avoid the holiday rush. She could order thoughtful gifts for her loved ones, wrapping them up with care and sharing the joy of giving. But the annual tradition of visiting Walmart to select the perfect Christmas tree with her family remained unchanged. The smell of pine needles, the twinkling lights and the festive atmosphere created cherished memories that couldn’t be replicated online.

 

Elimijn’s relationship with these retail giants wasn’t just about transactions. It was about the roles they played in her life’s narrative. Amazon’s efficiency became a trusted ally in her daily routine, while Walmart’s physical presence provided a sense of connection to her community. In a surprising twist, Elimijn’s creative endeavours gained recognition online. Her artwork found a following on social media, and soon enough, she was approached by both Amazon and Walmart to collaborate on exclusive lines of products. Amazon showcased her art supplies and books, while Walmart featured her artwork on select merchandise. Elimijn found herself at the crossroads of the very stores she had come to love. Her story was a reminder that these giants weren’t just about commerce—they were about opportunities, experiences and connections. Through Elimijn’s journey, Amazon and Walmart became not just retailers, but integral parts of her life, shaping her routines, her passions and even her dreams.

 

The battle between Amazon and Walmart, or more generally between online retail and physical stores, is often presented as a zero-sum game. It is believed that as online retailing becomes more popular, consumers will increasingly abandon brick-and mortar stores. Clearly, there is some evidence supporting  this as many traditional retail chains have gone bankrupt while online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba continue to deliver dramatic growth numbers. This difference in growth is also reflected, as noted earlier, in the hefty valuation that the markets place on disruptive e-commerce players relative to incumbent physical retailers.

 

In this chapter, we will build a more nuanced picture of this competition. Specifically, we will investigate if there are certain types of customers, particular buying situations and some product categories where the relative attractiveness of physical stores like Walmart is superior to online stores like Amazon  and vice versa. In exploring this, we will restrict our focus to the US, as it is the country where online retailing began and is most evolved, while also being the largest source of revenue for both Amazon and Walmart. Furthermore, we will use my Marketing as Strategy book’s 3Vs framework of valued customer (who to serve?), value proposition (what to offer?) and value network (how to deliver?) to investigate the differences between these two retail giants. The valued customer and value proposition aspects are discussed in this chapter, while the value network will be the focus of the next two chapters.

 

Who is the target segment for each retailer? Market segments, as we are taught, should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Therefore, instinctively, marketers seek to answer this question by demonstrating that the types of people, based on demographic variables such as age, sex, education, income and geographical location, who prefer Amazon are different from those who patronize Walmart for their shopping needs.

 

However, customers in the real world, as the data will show, do not fall neatly into well-defined boxes. When asked, people often respond that relative to Walmart, Amazon shoppers are younger, more urban and educated, with higher income levels. They also see Amazon shoppers as more technologically savvy, forgetting that ordering on the mobile phone app is not a novelty or challenging any more. While the data does feed this stereotype to some extent, the differences in these demographic variables between Amazon and Walmart shoppers are not that dramatic, and furthermore, are decreasing over time.

 

Research indicates that the average (mean level) income of Amazon shoppers at $84,449 is only 11 per cent higher than for those who shop at Walmart ($76,313).2 Digging deeper, the typical (modal level) Walmart shopper is a married white woman with an undergraduate degree, between fifty-five and sixty-four years old, living in the suburbs of south-eastern USA, earning about $80,000 annually.3 However, this segment also frequents Amazon because Amazon’s typical shopper is a college-educated married woman, living in the south-east, earning more than $80,000 a year, but split across two age brackets: thirty-five to forty-four and fifty-five to sixty-four. Thus, a segmentation based on demographic variables does not give an accurate picture, as consumers do not shop exclusively at either Amazon or Walmart, which I am sure also reflects the behaviour of any American reader of this book.

 

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Get your copy of CLASH: Amazon vs Walmart by Nirmalya Kumar wherever books are sold.

5 innovative insights to get started with your start-up!

Startups have changed the world. In the United States, many startups, such as Tesla, Apple, and Amazon, have become household names. The economic value of startups has doubled since 1992 and is projected to double again in the next fifteen years.

As venture capitalist Alexandre Lazarow shows in this insightful and instructive book, this Silicon Valley ‘gospel’ is due for a refresh–and it comes from what he calls the ‘frontier,’ the growing constellation of startup ecosystems, outside of the Valley and other major economic centers, that now stretches across the globe. The frontier is a truly different world where startups often must cope with political or economic instability and lack of infrastructure, and where there might be little or no access to angel investors, venture capitalists, or experienced employee pools.

Here’s a glimpse into some of these insights for all you future entrepreneurs!

 

Learn from the microfinance industry

‘In [the industry’s] early days, a key insight was that the poor were creditworthy borrowers. By placing borrowers into groups with a sense of strong social accountability and shared responsibility on the loans’ repayment, microfi nance lenders found that repayment rates were high.

But this insight was also the biggest challenge: the in-person nature of putting people in groups, making regular visits to collect money, and maintaining deep customer engagement is expensive. Companies like Tala, Branch International, and Safaricom’s own M-Shwari now offer consumer loans, relying entirely on the mobile money platform.’

Front cover of Out-Innovate
Out-Innovate || Alexandre Lazarow

 

Create rather than disrupt

‘Timbo Drayson founded OkHi, a technology-driven startup that creates addresses where there are none. OkHi’s mission statement is “Be Included.”

Creators do three fundamental things simultaneously. First, they offer a product or service that solves an unserved, acute pain point in the formal economy. Second, Creators offer a solution for the mass market. Finally, Creators are focused on game-changing innovations that fundamentally rethink a market and a sector.’

 

Raise a camel, not a unicorn

‘The growth-at-all-cost model simply does not translate to the realities of the Frontier. Instead of the unicorn, then, I propose the camel as the more appropriate mascot. Camels live in and adapt to multiple climates. They can survive without food or water for months. Their humps, primarily composed of fat, protect them from the desert’s scorching heat. When they do find water, they can rehydrate faster than any other animal.15 Camels are not imaginary creatures living in fictitious lands. They are resilient and can survive in the harshest places on earth.

Signing up for Silicon Valley’s unicorn-hunting strategy is a bit like mortgaging your home to buy three new homes. If things go well and the market moves in the right direction, then the rewards are massive. Facebook’s eye-watering returns for investors are a case in point. Yet this approach also increases the likelihood of losing everything.’

 

Build A-teams, don’t hire just A-players

‘…in Silicon Valley, companies and employees see their relationships as short-term affairs. Retention rates are among the lowest in the United States. More than 13 percent of staff turn over every year, and in certain job categories like user design, the rate is well above 20 percent, which translates to short employee tenure.

Frontier Innovators […] use fi ve key strategies to build and scale top teams. They test candidates for behavior and capabilities, develop a proprietary talent pipeline, leverage global distributed options, take a growth mindset to retention and training, and think critically about compensation and perks.’

 

Cross-pollinate

‘Frontier Innovators […] cross-pollinate. They leverage diverse lived experiences, often across multiple geographies, industries, and sectors, to build their businesses. They tap global networks for capital and resources.

At the Frontier, a typical innovator’s lived experience is longer and spans geographies, sectors, and industries. This diversity in experience explains the issues they choose to tackle and the unique approaches they employ.’

*-*

With rich and wide-ranging stories of frontier innovators from around the world, Out-Innovate is the new playbook for innovation–wherever it has the potential to happen.

Decoding Amartya Sen – the man, the economist, the visionary

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen is one of the world’s best-known voices for the poor and the downtrodden, and an inspiration for the proponents of justice across the globe. He has contributed almost without peer to the study of economics, philosophy and politics, transforming social choice theory, development economics, ethics, political philosophy and Indian political economy, to list but a few. In How to Read Amartya Sen, Lawrence Hamilton provides an excellent, accessible guide to the full range of Sen’s writings, contextualizing his ideas and summarizing the associated debates. In elegant prose, Hamilton reconstructs Sen’s critiques of the major philosophies of his time, assesses his now-famous concern for capabilities as an alternative for thinking about poverty, inequality, gender discrimination, development, democracy and justice, and unearths some overlooked gems.

Today, we are sharing with you some interesting insights from the book on Amartya Sen that would strengthen your understanding of him as not just as an economist, but also as a deeply sensitive man and a visionary par excellence.

 

1) The man

‘For many years, Sanskrit was Sen’s second language, after Bengali, and he could read classical, Vedic and epic Sanskrit. This fascination with the language and literature of Sanskrit also balanced and complemented his acumen in mathematics. Both of these important skills have been readily apparent ever since in his academic work, often side by side in the same volume.’

 

‘Sen is also a child of the Bengal famine and Indian Partition. He experienced at first-hand as a nine-year old boy the horrors of the Bengal famine of 1943, as he did a little later the horrors of communal violence of Partition. In a number of places in his academic and non-academic work, he tells the story of how, during the sectarian tensions and violence that accompanied Partition, a Muslim man, a poor day-labourer, was attacked by a gang in his mainly Hindu area. The man was still alive as he stumbled into Sen’s childhood home; the now slightly older boy helped organize to have him sent to hospital. Unfortunately, he did not survive. Not only does Sen use this story to illustrate his oft-repeated and convincing point about the dangers of sectarianism and dogmatic community and identity-based thinking, but also that, despite his wife imploring him not to go into Hindu areas in this period fearing for her husband’s life, this poor man felt impelled to do so as he was the breadwinner for his family and could get work nowhere else.’

 

2) The economist

‘First, despite his training in the mainstream of strait-laced post-Second World War economics, in exemplary fashion he grasped the opportunities provided to him and schooled himself in the main currents of contemporary philosophy. This gave him a much broader and more capacious view of the assumptions of the ‘dismal science’ of economics, the main shibboleths of which would be his targets for years to come…. in line with two of his greatest forebears and two of the political economists upon whom he draws most, Adam Smith and Karl Marx, he has done all he can to understand the main problems and issues in economics from the perspective of a broader ethical concern: improving the quality of life of all.’

 

‘Second, especially in his work on famines, but also right across his many contributions in other areas, such as development, freedom, justice and democracy, Sen has always immersed his reader in his deep and broad knowledge of theory, while never tiring of supporting his claims and arguments with relevant empirical facts.’

 

‘Sen’s theoretical and practical proposals based on his version of capability value the agency of individuals in and of itself as constitutive of a life worth living and because they tend to produce better overall effects in development projects.’

front cover of How to Read Amartya Sen
How to Read Amartya Sen || Lawrence Hamilton

 

3) The Visionary

‘While…Sen is first and foremost a man of letters (and numbers), he has also been involved in a number of practical projects that have changed the way the world thinks about and carries out a number of important and pressing matters, particularly as regards development. In fact, it is his work for and criticisms of large international bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank (the Bank), and many others besides, that has broadened his appeal and fame, along with his associated practical contributions to, for example, global attempts to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality.’

 

‘Sen has provided new ways of conceiving of development, as well as new tools for measuring it and its component parts: famine, poverty, inequality, growth, freedom and so on.’

 

‘Sen’s view of freedom is much richer than is the norm in a great deal of economic, development, philosophical and political theoretical literature: it encompasses both the requisites for individuals to make their own individual choices and the social, economic and political means for individuals to exert the necessary democratic power within and beyond their own societies.’

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5 Specific Weaknesses that Have Prevented India from Realizing its Full Potential from ‘India: Still a Shackled Giant’

India is one of the largest economies in the world today and it has been predicted that it would become the third largest economy by 2030. Yet, an average Indian is worse off than his counterpart in other developing nations like Algeria, Indonesia, Mongolia and Morocco. The tethers of corruption and fragility have prevented it from becoming an Asian Tiger.

In India: Still A Shackled Giant, Dev Kar, a former senior economist at the International Monetary Fund shines light on why India is still, even after 70 years of independence, unable to reach its full potential to join democratic giants like the United States, Germany, and Japan.

 

Fragility

Fragility is a state of affairs, consisting of many economic, social, demographic, political, environmental, and security-related pressure points that either strengthen or weaken a nation state. If fragility is left unchecked, the nation can slide towards civil war and break up. The overall fragile states index (FSI) is derived from twelve sub- indices which are: demographic pressures, economic inequality, economy, external intervention, factionalized elites, group grievance, human flight and brain drain, human rights, public services, security apparatus, state legitimacy, and refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). (page 15)

India’s overall fragility increased from the ninety-third rank in 2006 to the seventy-second rank in 2018. India’s slide by twenty-one ranks over this period was mainly driven by uneven development (such as rising income inequality), human flight and brain drain, state legitimacy, demographic pressures and security apparatus.

Dirty Politics

There is no doubt that the source of corruption in India is its rotten politics. If politicians can use black money to get elected, criminals can contest elections and win, and if they can all play vote bank politics, what kind of example do they set for the rest of the country? These days, it seems every political party needs criminals to intimidate the opposition, suppress dissent, and extract rent in order to ensure its hold over power. Under the circumstances, there can be neither raj (rule) nor neeti (ethics) left in rajneeti (politics).

Another way of looking at this sad state of affairs is that many voters perceive the criminal politicians to be more effective in delivering government services. I think, either way, from the supply of criminal politicians to the demand for them, they pose a huge problem for any democracy and its governance.

A Taxing Problem

Ever since Independence, India has had two main problems with taxation—a narrow tax base and significant tax evasion. A narrow tax base means only a small portion of India’s population is paying income taxes. Out of a population of some 1.3 billion people, only about 4 per cent file pay income taxes, which make up the largest part of direct taxes. (page 141)

A country trying to raise adequate tax revenues from a narrow base ends up running large fiscal deficits given increasing government expenditures to meet multiple development objectives. Fiscal deficits in turn hamper economic growth and lead to economic instability through rampant inflation, higher interest rates, or increasing foreign debt. It is the poor who suffer disproportionately.

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), nearly thirty-one million Indians are unemployed and looking for jobs. While economic growth has been humming along around 7–8 per cent per annum recently, the pace of job creation has been poor. While unemployment is naturally an emotive issue in a country of 1.3 billion people with a young workforce, the capacity to generate jobs is not in the hands of any politician, regardless of their promises. The bottom line is that for unemployment to come down during any period, the number of new jobs created must be greater than the number of people entering the labour market during that period. The problem of employment in India is twofold. First, India needs to invest in more education, vocational training and health. Second, there is a need to shrink the size of the informal sector by helping more workers to switch to jobs in the formal sector.

No Care about Healthcare

Healthcare in India still has a long way to go in terms of access to good facilities and reliable doctors, particularly in smaller towns and villages. While the rich in India can afford to get reasonable treatment at a price they can afford, the poor can’t. The quality of public hospitals is extremely poor and they pose serious risks to the life and well-being of patients. Moreover, the credentials of many doctors are suspect. To make matters worse, there are no independent regulatory bodies to accredit, monitor and disseminate reviews of medical providers.


Grab your copy of this book today to know learn about these barriers in detail and discover how India can find the road to redemption.

The Success of the Successor to Steve Jobs.

When it came to picking a successor to Jobs, there were rumors that the Apple board was likely to choose someone from outside the company, but this was never actually the case. The board was Jobs’s board, sometimes controversially so, and they were always going to accept whomever Jobs picked for the role. Jobs wanted an insider who “got” Apple’s culture, and he believed there was no one who fit the bill more perfectly than Tim Cook, the man he had trusted to run Apple in his absence on two previous occasions.

Tim Cook is now the CEO of Apple, and here is how Apple has been doing under his leadership.


Apple has become the world’s first trillion dollar company under his leadership

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Apple is on its way to having a more diverse workforce. Progress is slow, but it’s encouraging to hear that in 2017, half of Apple’s new hires in the United States were from underrepresented groups in tech.

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Apple’s products have received high praise from accessibility advocates. In 2017, the company won three major awards for innovations in accessibility. Being blind shouldn’t be a barrier to using the iPhone, and Apple is working hard to ensure that its products are for everyone.

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Because of Cook’s values, Apple will likely never experience privacy scandals to the same extent that Facebook has.

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Tim Cook has placed a clear emphasis on environmental efforts at Apple. Apple has made world- changing investments in renewable energy, responsible forestry, and sustainable manufacturing.  Apple’s operations now run on 100 percent renewable energy in twenty- fi ve countries, and it’s starting to bring the supply chain along. Apple’s supply chain— which accounts for 70 percent of its carbon footprint— will be 100 percent renewable in a decade or less.

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Aside from big, world- dominating products, Apple under Cook has innovated in many other areas. Apple’s AirPods are a giant hit, and they are remapping the wireless headphone space.

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Apple Pay is slowly taking off and is tipped to become the biggest contactless payment system in the United States; it’s projected to account for a third of all payments by 2022.

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The first major new product category launched under Cook, the Watch was initially greeted with skepticism and even scorn. But three years later, the Apple Watch is the biggest smartwatch on the market and is bigger than the entire Swiss watch industry. Apple is estimated to have sold forty- six million to date. It is likely to develop significantly in coming years.

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Since Cook took over the company, AAPL stock has tripled in value. Some experts attribute the trillion- dollar valuation to the success of the iPhone, the iPhone X especially.

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Apple under Cook has launched a comprehensive set of initiatives, from elementary schools to colleges, to improve the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities going into tech.


Drawing on access with several Apple insiders, Leander Kahney tells the inspiring story of how one man attempted to replace someone irreplaceable, and–through strong, humane leadership, supply chain savvy, and a commitment to his values–succeeded more than anyone had thought possible. Get your copy here!

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