Saturday, 25 January 2014

Vocabulary of Silence






It was a casual discussion over dinner about a friend who was going through some tough times in his marriage. Our concern was for the two kids who were suffering collaterally. Since the husband and wife were no longer living with each other, the kids were forced to stay with the grandparents as none of them wanted the kids to stay with the other. And I very casually made a remark that its ok with the father but how can the “mother” be so heartless? The response I got from my husband on this left me thinking hard. He very furiously said “that’s not fair. Why do you think he doesn’t care?” He didn’t explain further but I knew what he meant. He was referring to something which most of us tend to ignore conveniently. The vocabulary of silence!

Being the more expressive breed, women are very generous about their show of emotions. But that does not come very easily to men. But when you look hard, you can notice the vocabulary of silence which often seems to say “I care”. At this point, I am reminded of an ad which very beautifully portrayed this subtle vocabulary very beautifully. 

Video Courtesy: ICICI Prudential

So next time when you are about to say “you don’t care”….just stop and think. Think about those moments of silent compassion. When he tastes everything before feeding it to your kid to check that the food is not very spicy or hot. When he tucks the already tucked-in blanket around the baby before sleeping. When he gives detailed instructions when you travel alone. When he gives a disapproving stare to your daughter about that dress that ends just above her knee. When he peeks into his mom’s room to see if she needs anything.

And many many more instances which I am sure will bring a smile to your face and some warmth in your heart.

Wishing a very Happy Fathers' day to all Fathers and Father Figures around us!!



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Saturday, 18 January 2014

AAP decides to revoke FDI approval in multi-brand retail in Delhi: A step backward

         AAP has certainly brought about some serious turbulence in the Indian political atmosphere recently. Adopting a theoretical approach to practical problems, the party is inviting trouble in spite of having nationalistic intentions (?) at core. While there are many other issues where I believe the nouveau CM’s decisions are derived from the aspiration of short term popularity, the one I find particularly saddening is the decision to revoke FDI approval in multi-brand retail in Delhi which was approved by the preceding  government. This decision, on in-depth scrutiny, proves to be regressive and can be outright detrimental for thecountry and Delhi, in particular.
            India has already lost the first mover’s advantage to China which opened its economy to FDI long back in 1992. Since then there has been an increase in employment in retail and allied industries and provided the much needed boost to its socio-economic development. Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia, Singapore and Argentina also narrate of positive impacts of FDI in retail industry in the long run in spite of short lived adverse effects. With regards to emerging economy like India, linking with the global value chains through FDI brings multiple benefits like capital infusion in infrastructure and logistics,  transfer of technological know-how, remodeling of largely unorganized retail sector thereby increasing tax revenues for the government, creating jobs in the back-end and front-end, improving the standard of living in rural areas by better remuneration to the farmers, arresting inflation predominant in the current market model due to predatory prices and ultimate benefit to the consumers in terms of quality of products and competitive prices. Some eye-openers regarding FDI are:
In the light of favorable policies, Delhi-NCR region alone are expected to attract investments worth $50 billion in the next 5-6 years.
It is expected that the retail industry will create approximately 1.7 mn jobs in the coming five years, inclusive of back-end and front-end.
The perceived threat to the local grocery stores and door-to-door vendors is insignificant as these elements will always be an integral part of the market because of the convenience,   personalized services they offer and years of association with the consumers. None of the markets which have Dominos or Pizza huts have eliminated the local food joints.
Since the produce and raw material will be procured directly from the farmers or the producers sans the intermediaries, their profit margin will be subtracted from the overall price of the commodity. This will result in a percolating effect on the price reduction thereby arresting the inflation which is soaring towards double digits in the current scenario. Consumers will also get advantage of competitive pricing and cost benefits of bulk purchase.
In India, almost Rs 55,600 crores of natural produce is wasted ie 10% of the food grains, 30% of fruits worth and 30% of vegetables. Major reasons, other than volatile weather conditions, are inadequate storage facilities, logistics and poor distribution system. Capital investment in back-end infrastructure by the foreign retailers will help curb the problem to large extent
Even if you find these validations too theoretical and wish to ignore them, there is yet another very strong stand that openly regards the disapproval of FDI as relapsing. The decision directly hurts the country’s repute in the global markets when giants like TESCO, Walmart andCarrefour have huge plans for the country. India is a country with enormous challenges for foreign entrants and such frequent changes in criticaldecisions would only dampen their spirits and project India as being unstable in terms of economic policy making.            
Indian retail sector is in a nascent stage and effective influx of capital and technology will make it robust and self-sustaining. And the percolating effects on the other sectors of the economy are vast enough to overlook. The revenue generation from this fifth largest market is luring many players to enter in spite of numerous hurdles. My earnest request to Mr. Kejriwal and AAP is not to trade the country’s future for short term popularity and vote bank gimmicks.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Makar Sankranti- Festival of benevolence and gratitude

Another colorful festival from the plethora of wonderful Indian festivals, Makar Sankranti, is a festival of a new beginning and a new life. Also celebrated as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Lohri in Punjab, Bihu in Assam and Uttarayan in Gujarat, it holds phenomenal importance for Hindus. Largely celebrated as the harvest festival, Makar Sankranti is a celebration to welcome the spring and bid goodbye to the cold waves.


                                     

I reminisce celebrating the festival traditionally with my grandmother.    The small “matkis” which  contained assorted vegetables symbolized the magnanimity of nature. And the delicacies made of till (sesame) and gud (jaggery) were generously shared with loved ones and neighbors. Otherwise avoided as being inauspicious, everybody specially wore black color clothes on Sankranti to ward off evil. I remember playing “gilli danda” and flying kites the whole day.

Now that families are scattered in different parts of the world, IT comes to our rescue. Like many other festival wishes, we would be sharing sankranti wishes of “till gud ghya ani god god bola” (Share sweets and goodwill) through IT enabled gadgets. However, there would not be much change in celebrations at home. Though the traditional style of worshipping “matkis” may be missing, there would be no dearth of delicacies and fun on the colorful festival. The house is already stocked with colorful kites and plans are being made for the kite flying session. And the kitchen is filled with the delicious aroma of jiggery and “till”. The TV and video games would take a back seat today as we fill the sky with colorful kites and our hearts with love and gratitude

Monday, 13 January 2014

3-D Printing- Transforming the manufacturing process

Until a few years back, manufacturing typically featured huge shop floors with people manning gigantic machines spitting out numerous identical parts which were carried to other parts of the factory on conveyer belts for assembling before churning out a final product. Most of these mass production units were located in Western countries or some manufacturing clusters in China and Hong Kong. The global conglomerates situated in the developed countries kept the sophisticated and critical functions such as research and product design in the domestic territories while outsourced the mass production of parts to cheaper countries. However, the advent of digital technology and development of Asian economies is changing the scenario in the manufacturing world.

                                                                                                   

The advent of  digital technology is completly changed face of modern world. The omnipresent technology is touching our lives in most innovative ways. It is being incorporated in all sectors such as education, entertainment, healthcare, infrastructure and transport. Manufacturing is undergoing a complete makeover using digital technology. Additive manufacturing using 3D printers is not only making the process simpler, cheaper and faster but it is also enabling innovation and invention like never before. Additive manufacturing also known as 3D printing, rapid prototyping, layer manufacturing and additive fabrication is defined by ASTM F42 (committee for standardizing terminology and defining industry standards) as “the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing technologies.” The process involves spraying thin layers of liquid or powdered material using 3D printers to form a prototype or many objects. The technology has been able to successfully develop varied things from dental fixtures to parts of jet engines. One of the latest technologies of AM, layer sintering, uses laser beam to fuse material with platform built with thin layers of metallic powder. This technology can be used for a variety of metals including aerospace-grade titanium (The Economist, 2012). Additive manufacturing is being incorporated worldwide to produce many products which were being produced using conventional manufacturing processes till now. Some of the advantages of addictive manufacturing or rapid prototyping that make the future of manufacturing promising and changing the way manufacturing is being changed are listed below:
Since additive technology uses layering material in a predefined manner, it reduces the use of raw material unlike conventional manufacturing where a block of metal is cut away to produce a specific shape thus wasting some of it. It also reduces the need of raw material in support structures required in traditional machining and casting processes. Reduced quantities of raw material make a significant cost difference while working with valuable metals such as titanium (Reeves, n.d.).

Using topological optimization algorithms or lattice structures, AM can create components with near perfect strength to weight ratios. Such precisions in weight are important for designing non-structural parts for aircrafts (Reeves, n.d).

Additive manufacturing gives the freedom of customization and complexity unlike standard manufacturing processes. Since customizing only requires some change in the software program, it becomes easier to customize every part to a close precision. AM also enables making fully functional moving parts such as joints and couplings (RAPDASA, 2013).

Along with the many advantages of the technology, there are certain challenges associated with it. Mass production and creating large components is still not very easy using additive manufacturing. In spite of the challenges involved in the process, AM is significantly changing the way manufacturing is done. Along with many changes happening in the process, AM also promises that the next few decades will churn out numerous useful inventions owing to this new technology.