Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What does 51% FDI in multi-brand retail mean?


What happened

Government has decided to allow 51% FDI in Multi-brand retails. 

What are the pre-conditions

  • Minimum investment of $100 million.
  • 50% of the investment is to be in backend infrastructure development.  
  • 30% of all raw material has be procured from small and medium industries. [Not completely sure]
  • Permission to set up malls only in cities with a minimum population of 10 lakh.
  • Government has the first right to procure material from the farmers.
  • Products should be sold under the same brand internationally.
  • Foreign investor should be the owner of the brand.
Present Condition:
  • Farmers get only 10 to 15% of the price we pay. 
  • 3-4 middlemen in between farmers and customers.
  • Huge post produce losses for farmers due to inadequate facilities.
  • A poorly managed food supply infrastructure.
Why do we need it:

  • We are the second highest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world but still we are not able to utilise is properly because of inadequate infrastructure facilities. 
  • It will reduce pre-harvest wastage/losses and thus help control food inflation. 
  • It will create 1.5 million more jobs in 5 years. Apart from the huge number of indirect employment. 
  • It will increase competition which is always beneficial for the customer.
  • It will remove the middleman from the equation. It will reduce costs which in turn will reduce prices. 
What about the problems:

There will be no problems.

We already have local players like Reliance Fresh and Big Bazaar. They have done wonderfully well. Local traders are still trading as they were. Why not allow foreign players? They will bring with them human/monetary/knowledge capital which are very important for a developing country like India. Just bringing proper storage places will go a long way in solving the wastage problem. 

China, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Chile, Thailand, Russia and Indonesia all allow 100% and their economies have benefited from this move. India is only allowing 51% and that too with a lot of checks. 

We don't have to worry about monopoly because the Competition Commission of India can handle all anti competitive practices including predatory pricing. 

In India, cities with population of more than 10 lakh are just 53 in number. This means that any negative impact will not have huge repercussions. Kirana store walas in majority of other cities cities will be totally unaffected. It's a small but steady step on the path of liberalization. 

It will decrease unorganized labour sector and bring them all under organised labour. This will it will be easier to enforce labour laws and also check its implementation. 

A lot of jobs will be created. Ofcourse a few will be lost as well but that number will not be very high. There will be a reorganization of the job structure rather than a reduction. 

It is true that the government can also provide all the infrastructure facilities that the companies will provide but  true governance means less government role and more freedom to the society. Why should it be a problem if companies improve infrastructure facilities in return of a gain? 

Thus we can see that the FDI rule is for the greater good of the society. Oppose it at your own risk. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"I can't afford an internship." : A take on Unpaid Internships in India


Arguably the most important part of a student's CV. 

Internships in India are hard to get in spite of there being so many law firms, companies, NGOs, LPOs and other such organisations. An internship at a 'reputed' place is like a star on the CV. If you have 5 or more stars then you either have a CGPA worth killing for or are an awesome jugaadu. 

Whatever be the reason, I can safely say that internships are very very important. Not just from the CV point of view. Also from the experience of the practical experience of a specific field. 

In India, majority of the internships are unpaid. 

So, students get: cut throat competition, shady PGs to stay in, work during vacations, time away from parents and home city, rigorous office hours and NO PAY. 

Organisations get: FREE labor, temporary clerks/secretaries and no responsibility. 

A majority of the students are not from the metros but most of the internship places are in metros. It means, students have to spend money on travelling to the city, accommodation, food, travelling to the office and other misc expenses. All this and what do we get in return? Experience? Knowledge? Chance to get coffee for the boss? Chance to pass around files? Old cases to read? 

Just because interns are not 'workers' and do not have a union of sorts, organisations feel that they can exploit them. Interns are not given enough importance. They are students who are facing a lot of difficulty and trying to learn and sustain themselves. The least organisations can do is dedicate an hour a day to actually teach them something and pay them something which can offset their expenses for that time duration. 

LegallyIndia pays its interns Rs. 10k/month. It is seen as a very 'handsome' amount. Considering what other organisations in India pay (or don't pay), yes but not quite handsome when you consider the expenses of staying in Bombay for a month. It just covers all expenses which in the present Indian scenario is a very big thing. 

I have heard interns being paid Rs. 2k for a 6 week internship in Delhi. Yea, 2k might just cover food expenses for that time. So effectively, the intern is spending money to do free work.

I can understand non-profits not paying their interns. Although its not completely alright, but its understandable. They have their own fund raising problems. But firms/companies who work for profit should pay their interns. 

It doesn't matter if you get work done from the intern or not. You are calling him/her to your office and he/she is incurring expenses because of you. You have all the right to get work done from them. Make them do substantial work so that they can actually learn and contribute and rightfully earn their stipend. 

There are always things that interns can do. Maybe not a first year or a second year student but definitely from third year onwards students are well trained and can surely reduce some work load of the employees. They deserve to be paid. 

Unfortunately, interns fall into the unorganised category of the free labour sector. 

A lot needs to change. Some organisations are starting to understand this. A lot more are still not sensitive enough to understand this problem. Not paying interns is not illegal but in my view, it is unethical. 

Dear organisations,
There are so many brilliant students out there who are willing to work for 12 hours a day but are unable to do so because they cannot afford an internship. Pay your interns. Make them work. They'll contribute to your organisation in a small way. They will spread the word if you treat them well. 
A student looking for an internship in Delhi for May-June2012. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Survey on changing career choices of law students

An independent survey of 100 law students of India was conducted. They were asked 5 simple questions. 

1. What college are you in?
2. Are you in the 3 year course of the 5 year course?
3. What year are you in?
4. When you joined law school, what were you planning on doing after it?
5. At this moment, what are your plans after law school?

This was to find out what are the career goals of students when before they join law school and how much do they change. 

The results were very interesting. 

Students from various colleges like Gujarat National Law University, GLC, UILS, NUJS, NLU Jodhpur, Army Institute of Law, NLU Delhi, Nirma University, NALSAR, NLSIU, LA Shah college and Amity Law School participated in the survey. 

Out of the 100 participants, only 3 were from the 3 year course and the rest were from the 5 year course. So the scope of the survey is reduced. 

What year students took the survey?

[Click on the image to view it in full screen.]

What were student's choice of career before they joined law school?

[Click on the image to view it in full screen.]

The 'Others' option got responses like, United Nations, Journalism, Software development and No idea. 

What were the student's choice of career at this moment?

[Click on the image to view it in full screen.]

The 'Others' option got responses like,Writing, Journalism, Business, Software development, Investment Banking, Policy making.


1. LPO's were given as an option but were not selected by any participant although a lot of students end up joining LPOs.

2. No one wanted to become a faculty.

3. As time progresses, the 'others' option becomes more specific. This is because students keep coming across new options and decide to move away from traditional careers. It can also be interpreted as saying, student choose traditional careers because they are not aware about other options.

4.  All the options might seem to have only minor changes but the one thing that unfortunately the survey cannot show is how the options of students have changed over the years.

A staggering 66% of the students changed their career option after joining law school. "Whoa!" That was all I could say when I first saw the survey results.

It's not easy to make a career choice. It becomes even more difficult when there are 15 different choices to choose from. Students need to stop following the herd. It creates meaningless competition and unhappy employees. Follow your dream. Work on something that makes you happy. Don't try to be 'safe', try to be yourself. Money is not everything in this world, personal satisfaction is.

If you have an interesting story about how you decided to change your career option after joining law school then feel free to share.  :)

P.S.- This is my first online survey. Sorry for the mistakes that might be there. I will try to improve next time. Leave your constructive suggestions in the comments below.


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Right to Complain

We all complain. Recently, its almost like complaining has become a national time pass or was it so since a long time now? 

People have started complain all the time. Be it online or face to face conversations. It's like the Right to Complain has been elevated to a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Well, all those who know their fundamental rights should also be aware of their fundamental duties. Rights without duties is not possible. 

The thing with people in our country is that, even though we complain, we don't do anything to change the situation. We believe that our duty ends by complaining. A lot of people actually believe that signing an online petition against corruption is all they need to do to solve a problem. Stupid people. 

What do we generally complain about? 

"Dude, politics in the country has gone to the dogs. All of them are incompetent, money sucking parasites. They should all be shot dead!"

Yea so all the bad people are into politics. How did that happen? Well, that happened when all the 'good' people like you and me decided to work for personal gain rather than joining politics. There will always be people who will be elected. So if there are no good candidates, bad candidates will be elected. Simple. A lot of us don't even want to vote. Now if you can't even go and choose a good candidate then you definitely don't have the right to complain. 

"Our education system is impractical. Teachers are not qualified enough. Infrastructure facilities are pathetic. All we have to do is mug up stuff."

Again, if you think there are no good teachers, then doesn't that make a lucrative career option? Become a teacher. Make a difference. Start an organisation. Work for education reforms. Advocate for them through your local representatives. Teach someone. If you don't have enough time but have money then donate it. Sponsor an under privileged child's education. Do something. Don't just sit there in your comfy home and complain. 

"Elections are rigged. Poor people are bribed to vote. Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta." 

Do you vote? Have you ever encouraged people to vote? Do you know all the candidates that are standing for election from your region? Do you vote for the party or the candidate? Have you read the party's manifesto? Have you ever asked your elected representative to do something specific? Has it been done? 

These are just a few instances of hypocrisy by people. A longer list can surely be made. The thing is that humans do stuff which is easier to do but still gives them mental satisfaction. When I sign an online petition or attend a street rally or tweet/facebook about a problem, we mentally start to think that the work is done. We satisfy our conscience that way. We are lazy and hypocritical. 

First of all, do all that you can do. If it doesn't work. Try again. If it still doesn't work then and only then you can start to claim your right to complain. 

Two quotes summarize the entire post perfectly.

"It's too bad that everyone who has the solution for everything is at home commenting on the internet." - Anon

"When I grow up, I'm not going to read the newspaper and I'm not going to follow complex issues and I'm not going to vote. That way I can complain when the government doesn't represent me. Then, when everything goes down the tubes, I can say the system doesn't work and justify my further lack of participation." - Calvin

So the next time you feel the urge to complain, ask yourself this very simple question, "What are you doing about it?" 

Thank you

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Letter to the participants of "Occupy Wall Street"

We have all heard of Occupy Wall Street, right?

This is the extract from the flyer that was dropped on the protesters who were a part of the "Occupy Wall Street". 

This is genius. Best letter that anyone can write to the protesters. :D


We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money. Whether its a commodity, stock, bond or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn't matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn't hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone's 401k doubled every three years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I've never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas. 

Well now the market crapped out and even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are. 

Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you're only going to hurt yourself. What's going to happen when we can't find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We're going to take yours. We get up at 5am and work till 10pm or later. We're used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don't take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don't demand a union. We don't retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we'll eat that. 

For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We're going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and a 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I'll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much. So now that we're going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we're going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren't going to leave the 35% tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We're going to landscape our own back yards, wash our own cars with a garden hose in our drive ways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours. 

The difference is, you lived off it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama Administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it's really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat asses land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom. 

We aren't dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to service. The question is, now that Obama and his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply...will he? and will they?

I am a capitalist. I believe in free market economy. In my opinion, Occupy Wall Street is a farce. It is something like the Anna Hazare movement in India. It is impractical and immature. The only reason it has been able to garner support is because of the combined frustration of the masses. They believe that if they join a protest then all their problems will be solved. Unfortunately, they also believe that their duty ends as soon as the participate in the protest. They do not do anything else to get themselves out of the situation. 

Stop blaming capitalism just because you do not know how to play the game. If you are in trouble, ask for help. Blaming other for it will not solve your problem. 

Whenever you think you have a problem, before cribbing about it or blaming others, ask yourself this question, "What are you doing about it?" 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why the sudden obsession with being funny?

Warning: By writing this post, I am not proclaiming that I am funny and a lot of other people are not. I am just trying to say that people who are not funny should stop being desperate about being funny. Read on for further explanation.

First of all, this situation is seen more in guys than in girls. 

What is that one thing that everyone will say when you ask them what kind of a person do you like? 

Funny. Humorous. Good sense of humour. 

Yep. It always makes the list. Its like, our lives have become so boring, dull, monotonous, stressful or just plain sad that something funny from time to time is a big relief. I agree. Humour is a very good thing. 

My problem lies in the fact that once people start noticing that funny people are liked by more people then well, others, they try to be funny themselves. Why wouldn't they? We all crave for societal acceptance and praise. If I saw that people who can play the guitar are more 'popular' than others then I would definitely want to learn the guitar. I guess its normal human tendency. 

The problem starts here. Most of us can learn the guitar. We can practice alone and then learn it eventually. Ofcourse, not all of us will be great but almost everyone can learn the basics. The thing with a sense of humour is, its not something that you can be learnt. You might disagree but I think its something you are either born with or something that develops over time due to the circumstances around you. You cannot just one day decide that from now onwards you'll start being funny. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

Sadly, people don't realise it. They keep trying to be funny. Of all things that they are good at, they try to be something they are not. The result in almost all cases is that they fail. Miserably. Instead of attracting people (which was the original plan), they start embarrassing themselves. Thus, doing exactly the opposite of what they wanted to do in the beginning. 

I am blessed with friends who have an amazing sense of humour. They can literally make you ROFL. #notkidding

I am also surrounded by a few of the wannbe funnies. A little advice, although you've never asked for it, why try to be someone else when you can be awesome when you are you. 
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde.

If you are not funny then don't sweat it. I am sure you are a lot better at a lot of other things than all the funny people you know. Be awesome in that. If you are around funny people, enjoy yourself. Trust me, you are lucky to have someone make you laugh. Its a privilege not many people in the world get. 

If you try to be someone else then you will definitely not be the best you can be. As they say, "If everyone wants to crack jokes, who will laugh at them?" 

Stop trying to be funny. If it comes naturally, great. Nothing like it. If it does not then maybe you were destined for greater things in life than just cracking one liners. :)

P.S.: Although I can understand why everyone wants to be funny. The capacity to make someone else laugh, to make them forget their sorrows or problems, just for a little while, is a super power to say the least. But then, why be the Joker when you already are Batman? :) 

If you think you are funny, do share a joke in the comments. :)
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