Tuesday, April 24, 2007

OBC Quotas - Know history first

The first news item that caught my attention today was about the Indian Supreme Court striking down government's petition to vacate stay on implementation of 27% OBC quota in higher education institutes. The notable statement made by the bench was that if OBC quotas have waited for 57 years, there is no reason why they cannot wait another year giving the court ample time to examine the whole issue and deliver a final verdict on this.

I am immensely satisfied with this judgement as this vindicates the stand taken by most of the anti-quota people that this whole issue deserves a thorough analysis before passing any law on reservation. There should be a detailed statistical survey to find out the exact percentage of OBCs in India. It is also necessary to find out the impact (positive/negative) of existing quota policies on SC/STs and society in general.

Came across a very interesting and informative article on the history of OBCs and OBCs who were the dominant section couple of hundred years ago have become a marginal section now, thanks to the British Raj and Indian politicians. This is a must read for all the people who have been following the quota battle.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

New Consulting Section

I recently got a broadband connection installed at my flat. This was necessary as I had limited access to internet in office which was preventing me from researching some topics that I had always wanted to.

Now that I have unlimited access to net, I have begun my research and the results are there for all to see!! Haven't noticed yet? Well, I have added a brand new section in my blogs for people interesed in Consulting. It contains links to various sites that provide MC news, latest trends, blogs etc etc.

Have a look.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Warren Buffet Way

I finished reading The Warren Buffet Way last week. The book is about Warren Buffet and his investment philosophies. It made for a very interesting reading. The author has very nicely demonstrated Buffet's principles using examples of his investments in Coca Cola, American Express, Gillette, Clayton Homes, Pampered Chef, Wells Fargo etc.

An important point discussed in the book is the difference between investors and speculators which Buffet learnt from Benjamin Graham, Buffet's guru at Columbia and also the author of Intelligent Investor - a masterpiece written around 60 years ago.

The essence of the book is the way Buffet looks at stocks; According to him, investing in stocks should be like buying a business - one should have a long term time horizon while investing.

The author also talks about the guiding principles behind Buffet's investment and groups those principles in the following tenets:

Business Tenets
Is the business simple and understandable?
Does the business have a consistent operating history?
Does the business have favourable long term prospects?

Financial Tenets
Focus on return on equity, not earnings per share.
Calculate "owner earnings" to get a true reflection of value.
Look for companies with high profit margins.
For every dollar retained, make sure the company has created at least one dollar of market value.

Management Tenets
Is management rational?
Is management candid with the shareholders?
Does management resist the institutional imperative?

Market Tenets
What is the value of the business?
Can the business be purchased at a significant discount to its value?

In short Buffet's investment strategy is:
1) Buy a business at a price which is below its intrinsic value
2) Turn off the stock market
3) Don't worry about the economy
4) Manage a portfolio of businesses

The book ends with a chapter on the "Psychology of Money" which presents a very interesting perspective on the role played by our psyche in our investment decisions.

All in all, this is a must read book for anyone who is even remotely interested in the world of investment.

Monday, April 9, 2007

MBA from Europe - Some imp points

I recently had a conversation with a friend who joined HEC this Jan. He presented a very grim scene of the job prospects in Europe post MBA. According to him (and many others whom I have spoken with), it is not easy to find job in Europe post MBA (if one is not from INSEAD/LBS). The school can help you only to an extent as most of the recruitment in Europe is through networking. Thus, it becomes a problem for Indian students who, having seen(or heard/read)about the placements from b-schools in India think that the scene would be similar there. It is not the case. Getting an admit from a good b-school in Europe will not guarantee a good job post MBA.
Based on the discussions I have had with many people, these are my tips for people who are considering MBA from Europe:
1. Learn the language of the land – If you are not going to UK, it becomes an absolute necessity to know the local language. It increases your employability manifold. Even if you are going to UK, learning another language (preferably French) will help.
2. Figure out what you want to do post MBA – This is an exercise you are supposed to complete before you apply to a b-school. Well, many people do it just for the sake of getting in a school. They actually are not sure what they want post MBA. If you are one of this kind, then sort this out before joining the school. Most of the European MBA programs are 12-16 months which means you don’t get sufficient time to do this during MBA.
3. Once you have figured out what you want to do, start learning about the industry and its main players. E.g. if you want to be an Investment Banker, then learn about the industry and the main IB firms in Europe. Start visiting their websites and reading about the deals they make. Read their mission and vision statements. It will help you when you get interviewed -one of the main traits companies look for during recruitment is the interest of an individual. If you are able to demonstrate your interest in the company, then the job will be much easier.
4. Start networking – This is another must do for Europe in particular and MBA in general. Once you have figured out the career you want to pursue and researched on the main players in the sector, it is time to find contacts in those companies. Start interacting with people and ask them about the job profiles their companies offer. You can also seek advice about tips to boost your CV.

Death, Destiny, Fate

I watched Final Destination 3 this weekend. Having watched FD1 and FD2 earlier, there was nothing new that I had expected from this movie. Yet after watching it, I started thinking again about death, fate, destiny etc.

Many a times, when things go wrong, we talk about destiny. “It was destined to happen”; “May be this is not the correct time” are the phrases you hear most often. How do you explain things happening around you? Things that are not in one’s control are easily attributed to destiny. But who knows what destiny is? Who knows what is in store for you and me? When you try hard for something but don’t achieve it, people console you by saying may be it is not the right time. When you do succeed later, people say – “see, you have achieved it now. It was not meant to happen then”. You nod in agreement and continue with your life. But who knows when the right time is? Is there a book somewhere that contains the destiny of every living soul on this earth; which contains the right time for every event in one’s life?

Is this fatalistic attitude correct? May be it is; It is so easy to attribute things to destiny and fate because no one can question these forces. You can never be wrong when you talk about destiny - if one succeeds later, you can say “You were not destined to succeed then”; if one doesn’t succeed, you can still say “May be it is not meant to be; It is not in you destiny”. Either ways, you are right. Also, this way you don’t have to bang your head trying to figure out things; you can continue with your life, working hard for something waiting for the “right time”.

I hope to figure out answers to the questions of death, life, destiny, fate etc. some day. May be it is not the right time now for me to have these answers. May be the right time will never come. Who cares! Life goes on!!!