Click Click

Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Shopclues and many more such start-ups are dotting the Indian e-tailer industry. Most of them are being touted as one success or the other backed by millions of dollars flowing in to their individual kitty. They are backed by the alphabet soup investors i.e. VC’s, PE’s, etc. So are these companies really successful? Let’s take a closer look.

The other day I bought a trolley branded Disney Bag for my child. The tag cost was Rs. 1,600. The amount quoted on Amazon – Rs. 800. The bag was sold by Mom and Me (part of the Mahindra Group). Let us look at the mechanics of the entire sale. Mom and Me (the seller in this case) chose to use Amazon as a market-place i.e. a platform to sell its goods to a customer i.e. me. Mom and Me would have sourced the product from Disney which in turn would have got it locally manufactured at the lowest cost producer. So if the product is tagged at 1600, keeping in mind a healthy margin of 20%, the cost price of the product for Mom and Me would be around 1200-1300. The product is being sold at 800 a good 400 below the cost price. Surely, somebody is losing money in this? Who is paying up the mark-up to the bridge at least the cost price if not the margin? No marks for guessing that the market-place is discounting the product but the seller might also be taking a small hit in the bargain. Another example, I bought Asics shoes on Flipkart, the cost price of the product 6,900. The fetched price – a good 50% off. The product is imported directly from Malaysia by Reliance Retail. So who is making good on the deep discounting in this case? Again the market-place.

So now to the moot point. Is this sound economics? Is it a sound business plan where in the product is so heavily discounted that you need to pay from your own pocket for any product that is sold? Flipkart currently is the victor in the battle of the e-tailers. Somehow I feel this is nothing but a pyrrhic victory – a winner’s curse. The more a person looks to buy on Flipkart, the more the e-tailer burning cash. The annual cash burn rate for Flipkart is a whopping $600 million. That is about $50 million monthly i.e. 300 crores in Indian money. No wonder the e-tailer is on the deal street every 6 months looking for investors’ money to shore up its bank balance. The money that is raised is used for general corporate purposes i.e. acquisition, shoring up the back end and the interface and most importantly – discounting strategy. Well, in my 15 years of marketing and strategy experience and my 2 years of management education I never knew that the word ‘discounting’ can at all be used in conjunction with strategy.

Anyways, let us look at a few numbers. This data is for the finanical year FY14. The data has been culled from various business dailies. The revenue chalked up by the company was around Rs. 3,000 cr. The profit is somewhere close to -700 cr. i.e. a loss of 700 cr. The GMV (Gross Merchandise Value – the total value of the prouduct sold on the website) was Rs. 25,000 Cr. The valuation commanded by it a jaw-dropping $ 11 billion i.e. Rs. 68,000 Cr. So if we look at the delta i.e. the multiple that the e-tailer is commanding, we are looking at anywhere close to 22 times the revenue and a multiple in terms of the profit cant be calculated since the company is making a loss currently. Such a high multiple for a company about 10 year old with unproven track record is quite unheard of definitely. But then the measure that is being used here is the delta with respect to the GMV’s. The number of customers (unique or otherwise) the website is able to successfully tap. Since there is no benchmark in the industry (it being nascent in nature), the general rule of thumb is that the valuation is decided by the next round of funding in to the company. The more an investor invests for a lower equity stake – the higher the subsequent valuation (post money valuation).

So how does a company making losses, having a unsound strategy of paying for products from its own pocket be valued at over $11 billion of greenbacks?

I get a feeling it’s a game that we used to play when we were kids i.e. monkey off my back. Every child used to make sure that the monkey on his back is given away to somebody else. As is in the game – the kid giving the monkey away is lighter whereas here the investor in the e-tailer is richer by a few millions. So is there a loser in this game? Well not really, atleast not in the near term. Everybody is gaining. The founders with the heady valuations and with the tiny slivers of the equity that they own – they are already millionaires. The investors backing the company look to ramp up the valuation since ultimately in the long run when they cash out they would look to pocket a tidy sum but in the near run there is some heartburn with the cash burn in the e-tailer. For the customer it is Diwali or Christmas (the way you look at it) every day. It is making hay while the sun is shining and why not – no need of going to the market but the market comes to you and that too at a heavily discounted rate.

I remember a TVC for a SIM card company in which the protagonist is off to foreign land and he is using the company paid mobile phone to call up home. His common refrain is ‘company ka maal dairya mein daal’ (Company’s money put it in the drain). Well this is so apt in this case just with a slight twist – ‘VC ka maal, pocket mein daal’ (VC’s money, put in your pocket).

‘Dilli ka Thug???’

Delhi Elections are on 7th February 2015 and the results would be out in 3 days time. Till then most TV channels are crying hoarse about the opinion polls which give a clear lead to the AAP. All are stumbling over each other to write the obituary of BJP and well the ascent of AAP and Arvind Kejriwal. But is this the situation which is going to unfold on the 10th of February when the votes are counted. Are the people of Delhi going to vote for a newbie at the hustings? Are we going to see Arvind Kejriwal on the CM’s throne again? Well, there might just be a small slip between the cup and the lip. Lets take a brief look back.

In 2003, the opinion polls had suggested the following scenario (have taken CVoter opinion poll)

BJP: 39 / Congress: 30. The actual situation turned out to be BJP:20/Congress: 47. A yawning gap between the actual and the projected. Ms. Sheila Dikshit took the accolades in 2003. Come 2008 and it was an encore. The projection was BJP: 36-42/Congress: 28-34. The actual on-ground situation turned out to be BJP: 23/Congress:43. Once again a yawning gap between the projection and the actual. If the 2003 and 2008 opinion polls are some kind of an aberration then lets focus on the 2013 opinion polls. Am adding a small excel file to prove my point

Cvoter Cicero ORG CSDS Nielsen Cfore
BJP 29 8-14 36 22-28 28 22-27
Congress 27 11-17 22 19-25 22 32-37
AAP 10 38-50 6 19-25 18 7-12

The actual numbers are BJP: 31/Congress: 8/AAP: 28.

Now if we look at each of the above opinion polls, we can see that none of the polls got the numbers correct. In-fact none got the trends correct too barring a bit of CSDS which projected that Congress and AAP might get the same number of seats. None projected the decimation of Congress and the meteoric ascent of AAP. If we look at the above results with a fine-toothed comb then we can see that the opinion polls got one number somewhere close to the actual. i.e. Cvoter for BJP, Cicero for AAP (somewhat), ORG for BJP, CSDS for AAP, Nielsen for BJP and Cfore for BJP. This being a triangular contest, it does make sense that if the opinion polls get correct for one then it is bound to go haywire for the other two which is not in the case of a duo-polistic contest.

If one were to read a bit deeper in to this then I guess the people of Delhi are bit different. They choose to put the opinion pollsters off guard and necessarily and with impunity lie about the party they are going to vote for. With what reason they do that, it is difficult to understand but then the idea of people in Delhi being ‘thugs’ (Dilli ka thug) lends itself quite well to this behaviour. Why the hell should I tell this lame joker about the party I owe my allegiance to? Is there anything in return for this? Why bother telling the truth – let me just lie?

When the real votes get counted on 10th, it is a good chance that BJP might come out tops. AAP will be second definitely and surely Congress will have to look with a microscope to find – not only the number of seats it brings back home but the vote percentage it will poll in these elections.

Lets see what the ‘trickster’ of Dilli has in store for everybody.

Strategy or Stratagem

strategy

 

I have spent about a decade in the corporate world in various capacities – as a junior person, as a mid-level manager and as a consultant. One aspect that has struck me always is the DNA of any corporate of ‘doing time’ i.e. spend hours and hours at the work desk – weekdays, weeknights, weekends etc. This perhaps is more evident in those fields where the outcomes are somewhat intangible. The assuredness is lacking if the final objective is neither a number nor a percentage.

A case-in-point, an acquaintance of mine works in one of the top banks in the country. Thankfully, he stays at about 10-minute drive from his workplace. The mention of the travel time assumes importance because the very next statement. Dutifully, he leaves home every day at 9 in the morning and comes back at about 9 to 9.30 pm. That includes the week-ends too – where in the come-back time contracts to about 6.30-7 pm. A straight back-breaking 12 hours every-day amounting to about a crazy 65-70 hours a week and he is in sales function.

This got me seriously thinking – what has brought about this Frankenstein-esque DNA change in our corporates or was it this way always? Why then spending 12 hours a day is a norm rather than an exception in today’s work place? My observations are thus.

The way any corporate ticks tells a lot about how there is a trickle-down effect on the workplace. Any corporate worth its salt is governed by numbers – the top line and more importantly the bottom line. A corporate gone public is shackled and follows the diktat like a bull with a nose-ring attached. The basic raison-d’être then for any corporate is earnings – earnings that have to necessarily progressively grow. Never matter whether the consumer doesn’t want to buy, doesn’t matter if the client doesn’t want to spend and never matter whether the economy is under a heavy recession. This very primary foundation is shaky. This very objective – of wanting to grow at a compounded rate of x% over a 5-year period irrespective of the milieu – is seriously flawed. It depicts some kind of a voracious greed. A greed that is insatiable, that is unmindful of the existing situation and definitely indifferent to the manner in which it is being temporarily fulfilled.

This objective aka greed then is transplanted in to the employees in the form of a deep inherent insecurity i.e. about their own competence, about the take-home packet, about the next promotion, about the close-ness to the immediate boss and so on and so forth. In fact this very insecurity is the prime mover which oils the corporates wheels – that enables the corporates to have the carrot and stick policy – perform and you get attractive numbers added to your personal bottom line or else you become one of the numbers which are benched.

This DNA is aptly characterized by the Mahabharata war. The kind of culture (for want of better word) that was present at Hastinapur and Indraprastha. At one end was Hastinapur which symbolizes the current corporate thought process – top down approach, unnatural focus on bottom line, develop a deep insecurity among its employees/subjects and above all an adharma (untruth) approach to situations i.e. getting the job done never matter the means/consequences as opposed to Indraprastha which focused on a collaborative approach, believed in the well-being of its subjects and above all believed that dharma (truth) should be the focal point to its approach and decision-making.

I must admit that I haven’t come across a single corporate – neither directly nor indirectly following on the footsteps of Indraprastha. Perhaps, I sincerely hope that my decade long experience is short enough to bring me across such organizations because needless to say we all know which kingdom survived at the end.

In conclusion, I sense that there is this superb African proverb which aptly encapsulates the life in a corporate world. I just couldn’t help but associate it with the corporate life across the board –

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t much matter whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun is up, you better start running.

‘Un-social’ Networking

So what is your Facebook Id? A simple question posed to me by an ex-colleague of mine to which I replied in a negative. The raised eyebrow, enlarged eyes and an odd face staring at me told me quite a story of ‘social networking’.

Look around and almost everybody is on one or the other social networking site. Be it my wife’s eighty-five year old grand uncle or a good friend’s one year old son. There are children as young as six years old that are on such sites and happily ‘networking’ with other kids their age and preferably somebody older. There are more than a few features of a social networking site that intrigues me but the one aspect that interests me the most and makes me wonder in amazement – the friends’ list. I have seen a few of my friends have at least 500 profiles on their friends list and they are mighty proud about it. Does s/he even know who these 500 people are? Is it not that at any given point of time, a person can handle only a certain number of individuals? Out of these there are a few who are completely non-negotiable i.e. relatives, colleagues, taxi/auto drivers, bus conductors, maids etc. Why would then one be inclined, find time, expend energy to add so many people on the ‘friends’ list? Surely, they aren’t all really good friends whom you want to know everything about. Or are they?

This brings me to the basic aspect that is a bit discomforting with such social networking sites. Just recently I had a chance meeting with a copy writer friend of mine who works at a leading ad agency in Mumbai. Let us name him Vishal. He had an interesting tidbit to narrate. About a year back, Vishal got a message on his profile from a long-lost friend, settled in US. That friend had wanted to get in touch with Vishal and had been looking for him for over a year now, calling up common acquaintances/friends etc. and good that he found him on Facebook. Vishal the emotional chap that he is – promptly sent across his mobile number so that the long lost friend could have a heart felt conversation with him. That was about a year back; Vishal is still waiting to hear from the long-lost friend – either on the phone or even on the social networking site. This definitely is the rule and I am quite sure most readers who are on such sites faced this in one form or the other. This seriously got me thinking. If that long lost friend was so interested to know where Vishal is, or how he is, or wanted to have a chat with him, shouldn’t he have called back the instant he received Vishal’s mobile number. Did he never intend to call Vishal, if not, then what was the basic reason behind the message?

So, now some moot points. If a person is really interesting to meet or chat up – wouldn’t one rather meet in person or talk over the phone? What good would it serve to just put a static ‘hi’ or ‘hello, what’s up?’ on the other person’s profile and wait for him/her to respond? Is it that people like being passive in nature or the idea of ‘just keeping in touch’ is of primary importance? Does it not go against the grain of what relationships are all about? It is natural for a person to want to meet or talk to somebody whom s/he likes and finds interesting – meet being the operative word here – not put a post on the person’s profile. I can clearly understand that meeting or talking over the phone isn’t possible if the distance is long i.e. the other person is abroad or in a different city. But then whatever happened to e-mail? Isn’t e-mail or a chat program the best way to interact rather than having staccato post on a social networking site? As the case with Vishal’s friend, maybe it was just a post that he put – maybe he never meant a word that he wrote. Maybe it was just some casual banter that ensues between individuals. Maybe he was just being nice to Vishal. It appears then that these sites are able to perpetrate the air of fakeness and still come across as genuine on the outside – the same old idea of ‘being nice’ than being true. The sad flip side of it all is that these social networking sites are just the messengers and the handlers behind them are real people like us.

So, do we construe by all this that people inherently aren’t genuine about their true feelings?

Spiritual Corruption

There could be various reasons why people indulge in corruption. But the moot question that one needs to ask is has any one ever considered what constitutes corruption in the first place?

A female executive being ‘over-friendly’ to her boss and getting the undeserved accolades or even brownie points compared to her colleagues also constitutes corruption. An advertising agency asking the client to re-look at the currently running (excellent) campaign to garner a few extra numbers on the top line is equally corrupt. Similarly a company with a squeaky-clean image asking its summer trainees to bribe the machinery since the company and its employees are not allowed to do so is in the quagmire too. So how does one define corruption and does the word mean the same to me as it does to you or as it does to the layman walking down the road?

A professor teaching nothing in schools but taking extra classes for tuition fee at home is corrupt. A person willing to compromise – albeit the extent varies – to shimmy up the organizational totem pole is corrupt. A government, which tries to cover up a multi-crore arms deal kickback, is corrupt. Similarly another government, which tries to cover up a clinical case of ethnic cleansing, is corrupt. There is corruption everywhere – morally, materially or intelligence wise. But there is one corruption which is hurting India extremely bad and this corruption is all pervasive. It would also be present in the select few who have held a few convictions of their own till now. This corruption is age-less, caste-less and class-less. It is an epidemic across the world. It is the age of spiritual corruption.

There are too many intermediate & temporary goals that we have for which there is a lot of clamor. Once it permeates through our mind that the ultimate goal is personal growth that these facades would fall off. Once we tend to understand that at the end what matters is but spiritual perfection that these mad rush for material things cease. Every action, solution has to come out of that very under-pinning and only then would one not find an innocent remark, as “I would do whatever it takes to succeed” It is a very strange situation but extremely true and relevant. If we start being spiritually aware – suddenly moral, material and intelligence corruption starts decimating. It is like the missing link to a huge jigsaw puzzle which when found the puzzle starts solving on its own.

I had read it somewhere that there are four great architects for a nation – the first being the rishi or the seer, the second is a leader, the third – a teacher and the fourth – person of great compassion and love. What better if we find a person who is all-rolled in to one i.e. a loving person who is a visionary and has the charisma to lead a multitude thus naturally teaching and directing us on the path to our ultimate goal! As Plato had commented ‘If an ideal city-state is to ever come into being, then either philosophers must become kings or those now called kings must genuinely and adequately philosophize’.

A nation will build itself if we impart spiritual knowledge and training to it and then moral, material aspects will take care of it by itself. In trying to stem the rot and clean the mess we are just treating the symptoms – the malaise is spiritual stupor and once that is shaken and awaken, the seed will definitely be strong and healthy – spiritually.

General Elections Plausible Outcomes

The mega show for the country i.e. the General Elections is in its final phase with the various parties batting hard in the final slog overs. The BJP with its prime ministerial candidate clearly has its noses in the front where as the Congress is reduced to has been. Perhaps and as many opinion polls predict, the Grand Old Party is going to have a hard time notching up even a 3-figure mark. All said and done these elections saw fiercely fought, no-holds barred, un-civilized words and even un-civilizing narratives. It was as if everything goes to get to 272.

But one has to admit that these elections were not like the previous elections ever. The magnitude, scale, narrative etc was distinct from other elections but then there are certain other aspects that clearly differentiate these elections from the ones that were fought before. There are certain outcomes/ideas that one notices that could portray the way the Indian political scene would be governed in the years to come.

Outcome 1: Clearly, BJP sought to establish these elections in the presidential format rather than the current parliamentary system that India has. It clearly pitched the strong, decisive and proven leadership of Narendra Modi against the oft-vacillating, somewhat pusillanimous and un-charismatic leadership of either Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi. It is yet to be seen whether this strategy would pay dividends to BJP or not but it sure is evident that a presidential format strategy lends itself a wonderful opportunity to create a strong and credible narrative. On any given issue any political party is a function of the average viz. say on issue of corruption, any political party does include a person who is highly corrupt and along with includes a person who is highly incorruptible. The perception on that issue about the party generally hovers around the average. Thus the clear way forward is to subdue the people with wayward intentions and highlight the people with superior objectives. Thus when Modi says that for every button that you bleep against the lotus – the vote would directly come to me, the party is seriously trying to de-emphasize the negative aspects and personalities in the BJP and highlight the aura around one personality (necessarily the glaring difference between the singular and the plural). Going forward, one feels that to ask vote for an average i.e. a party is going to be much more difficult as compared to an ideal i.e. a person. Hence, chances are the presidential format for a parliamentary election would be the way ahead

Outcome 2: The Indian political scene is closely mirroring a developed democracy where in there are 2-3 principal parties going at each other in the General Elections. Most others are a part of one combine or the other. At the centre there is either a NDA or a UPA which generally forms the Government with the BJP or Congress being the principal party in the combine. The direction taken by the combine would be necessarily governed by the principal parties. The regional parties will tend to take sides and be part of either of the combine. To that extent, the Third Front is clearly a still-born concept

Outcome 3: BJP has a clear strong association of a Hindu-based party with a centre-right approach. Similarly, there is a clear vacuum in the political system for a similar such approach but with a strong association of a minority-based party. Most ‘secular’ parties – be it the Congress or the regional parties – which espouse the needs of the minorities, have been indulging in a rights-based approach. There have been dole-outs, subsidies and reservations but never ever the narrative arranged is the complete over-haul and development of the community. Perhaps, the rights-based approach works favorably for the ‘secular’ parties as a vote-bank politics but then the community as a whole receives very little. Gandhijji had once said that it doesn’t much matter to a person whether he genuflects before Mother Mary or Mother Kali as long as one of these helps him douse the ambers in his stomach. When the narrative changes to roti-rozgaar-kapda-makaan-shiksha surely the intolerant view about religion is bound to take a backseat. Just like nature, politics also abhors a vacuum and surely this space would see a fill-up

Outcome 4: It appears that the biggest loss in these elections would not be for the Congress (though chances are they wouldn’t even cross the 3-digit mark). In terms of the opportunity loss, one senses that the biggest would land at the door-step of Aam Aadmi Party. Just about a few months back the party which was the toast of the ‘aam aadmi’ so to speak has been summarily rejected and castigated by the same people. It appears that the AAP is bound to be restricted to at the maximum single-digit number in the Lok Sabha. Post the debacle in the General Elections and the ascent of Narendra Modi to 7 Race Course Road and more importantly the brouhaha in the Delhi Assembly if one were to extrapolate the results to the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections (probably could be conducted in October/November 2014) BJP is most likely to get majority. If Narendra Modi would live up to its promise and oft-repeated one-liner ‘mein khata bhi nahi nah mein khaane deta hoon’ then in about half a decade’s time the raison d’être for AAP would be completely negated at least at the national level. Then there is a good chance of AAP to go through a thorough churning and most probably completely disband or reduce to a has-been on the fringes of the political scene restricted to a state or two. All of this if AAP chooses not to re-invent itself

Outcome 5: If the Grand Old Party is reduced to its worst ever performance (which is quite likely) then there is going to be a fierce round of blame storming. The family will desperately try to ring-fence and absolve itself of the blame though it would be extremely difficult and unnatural. There is a good chance that the party rank and file would bay for blood and Rahul Gandhi, logically would be the sacrificial lamb. Chances are that he wouldn’t also become the leader of opposition. Post this, if the family still would be looking to keep the fief then it is imperative that Priyanka is immediately pushed up the ladder or else there is bound to be an ambitious up-start who would claim the position. Contrarily, if the family is somehow able to ring-fence itself and absolve Rahul Gandhi of the blame then there is a high probability of a clear split in the Congress. There are very many ambitious and charismatic young leaders in the Congress who sense a de-facto glass-ceiling and hence would like to break away and form a small fief of their own. Being under an in-effective, unproven and more importantly failed leader would definitely bar them from giving wings to their ambition

Modi Antsy-sm

A e-mail response to an article by Shekhar Gupta (Editor-in-Chief, Indian Express). Have re-presented the mail as is here:


 

For quite some time now, I have been giving a very serious thought to an often unexpressed fact – a morbid reluctance to Modi (hatred comes across to me as a very strong word and hence the word ‘morbid reluctance’). These are some observations on my part. I am a complete outsider sitting pretty far away from the humdrum of politics in Delhi (am in Mumbai) and just an avid follower and reader of the Indian political scene. Hence I am not privy to any information so what I put across might come across as just a bit fictional and over the top but nevertheless here it goes.

  1. Congress and BJP have been at each other for quite some time (since BJP emerged as a force to reckon with post Ayodhya Ram Temple strategy) and rightly so since they are opposing parties and also since they represent opposing thought processes (wont use the word ideologies since I sincerely feel Congress doesn’t have one and BJP has its moorings in one but does vacillate). But never ever have we seen the narrative between the two so sharp and acrid. Somehow I get a feeling that the mere mention and sight of Modi makes the Congress absolutely antsy
  2. Moreover, I feel is that antsy-ness (if I may use the term) is specifically related to the family and somehow the family has been able to percolate and distill it down to its close and loyal associates who then flow it much further down the rank. Additionally, if that antsy-ness is not displayed by all and sundry in full force then lo and behold the political career of the defaulting Congressman would careen downhill and hence the sharp tirade from all quarters towards Modi. The more vituperative the comments the deeper the loyalty ‘expressed’ towards the family
  3. Why then such antsy-ness towards Modi? I feel Modi as an idea is what makes the family squirm. He has a strong perception of being a no-nonsense getter, brutally incorruptible, breaking old shackles and old cozy relationships to get the job done, rustic, being abnormally nationalistic and so supremely confident that he has the gall to show a middle-finger to anybody (Indian or otherwise) who doubts his vision. Perhaps, Modi represents the complete anti-thesis of the dynasty, the perfect anti-thesis of what the family stands for. Modi stands for self-made whereas the family stands for a silver-spooned lineage on a platter, he stands for a rustic, grass-roots person where as the family is perceived to be ensconced in its high citadel, he is seen as once poor yet driven who had to strive at every step of his life whereas the family generally had it pretty easy where in it didn’t even have to move a muscle to get things done. There is a clear, striking distinction between the two – a distinction of entitlement – one deserved the other inherited. Moreover, the kind of support, allegiance and favor Modi is receiving from the country – urban, rural alike, the family might just be afraid to look at the writing on the wall and sulking at the change of guard. Modi in a way is not just talking about ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ but about ‘Gandhi-mukt Bharat’ where the family is rendered irrelevant and ineffective not only in the country but more importantly in the Congress
  4. Another aspect that I observe is that there have been innumerous riots that have happened in India (am not even for a moment condoning it and asking for business as usual), a number of them under Congress’ watch, most notably 1984. A simple Wikipedia page would tell us that there have been innumerable such communal conflagration across the country since 1947 – useless to get in to that. Why is then Congress fixated on Godhra 2002? Is it then that there are no issues that they can rake up against Modi? Or are they trying to make the Muslims ‘understand’ the fear of Modi and thus make them vote en-bloc for Congress? Isn’t a counter-polarization a counter-strategy? At the outset the handicap is only 15%, but the advantage a whopping 85%. Or is the Congress trying to belittle and morally assault Modi by reminding him about Godhra over and over again? Perhaps they feel that the person can be broken down by a persistent and stinging moral assault day in day out
  5. There is the behavior of one more group I find very intriguing. The intelligentsia. They are going completely gung-ho about the country’s non-communal status, its secular fabric the ‘Indian-ness’ etc going the Ganges way i.e. in dirt, if Modi becomes the PM. I feel Swapan Dasgupta made a brilliant point in his article in TOI (6th April edition) when he said that maybe the intelligentsia is a bit afraid that the ‘outsider’ tag that Modi brings along with him would seriously alter the relationships in Delhi. The cozy clique that the babudom, editors, newsmen and the legislators had created and nurtured for so long is in for a rude shock. The ‘I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine’ syndrome is going to meet an abrupt end when Modi unveils his sharp claws
  6. Also, I really would like to understand as a fly-on-the-wall as to what exactly the Muslim voter is thinking. It is a foregone conclusion that theirs is a negative vote rather than a positive one i.e. s/he votes to defeat the BJP rather than look to win a SP/Congress candidate. So whoever is supposedly best placed to defeat the BJP candidate would be voted for. The sad part of this is that a negative vote is necessarily never going to make things better. I guess it started out as a positive vote for SP, BSP, RJD, Congress but then later converted in to a negative one post the ‘promised backlash’ if BJP was voted in to power. It is imperative for the community to understand that even after 60 years and voting (positive or a negative one) primarily for an anti-BJP party why are they still lacking in most social parameters i.e. education, enrolment, jobs, security, overall well-being etc. This fear and supposed protection vote that the anti-BJP party claim precludes them from feverishly acting on the social parameters of the community and assimilating them in the mainstream. It is obvious that if the mind is pre-occupied with security fears and existential issues where then would be the mental space and bandwidth to focus on the day-to-day travails of roti-rozgaar-kapda-makaan-shiksha. Why is the narrative arranged for them always on the brink of a morbid and unnatural fear related to their religion and the idea of joining the mainstream never arises? I believe the onus squarely would lie on the liberal, educated and sentient people in the community. The community needs to understand and inherently believe that this is nothing but the path of diminishing returns. It is turning in to a self-fulfilling prophecy where in the community claims of being socially outcast is being re-asserted time and again by the un-willingness of the community to assimilate itself in to the mainstream much to the delight and glee of the anti-BJP party
  7. Lastly, I feel Modi is a very smart chap. There is no hope in hell that he believes that he can continue with the majoritarian view-point, if he has any. This is but likely the view that ‘khaane ke daat kuch aur dikhane ke kuch aur’. BJP might push for counter-polarization as a strategy but surely that wouldn’t be the game going forward. It is just not possible for the country to clock 8-10% GDP growth with the 15% handicap being ghettoized. At this point of time he has plucked on the mantra of ‘hope’. A hope for development, a hope for jobs, security, water, electricity, infrastructure etc. A narrative which is definitely going to energize and enthuse the voters. A narrative which necessarily has a corollary of the misrule of the UPA and the scam-a-day Government that has reined upon us