Saturday, June 27, 2020

Covid19 pandemic plummets Chinese exports dangers ahead

SAARC Diary- Pakistan

Bank of China Opens shop in India

Business: Biyani’s e-commerce forays in trouble in a pandemic era

SAARC Diary - Bangladesh

Vocal4Local: Say Namaste app competing with “Chinese” Zoom, Google Meet

Ladakh Fallout: Amid battle cries, Boycott calls, India begins to bleed China

SAARC Dairy - Nepal turning into a chinese colony as PLA annexes Gorkha Village

After Nepal China tries to woo Bangladesh

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Mindsets - Perceptions

mindsets outline our perceptions
mindset = established sets of attitudes held by someone

American Psychologist Carol Dweck in her book Mindset illustrates how accomplishment in school, work, sports, arts, and almost every area of human endeavour can be intensely influenced by how we contemplate our own talents and abilities.

mindset is an assemblage of thoughts and beliefs that shape my habits. My habits affect how I think, what I feel, and what I do since they are related to mindset, it helps me to understand attitude and beliefs.

She goes on to add there exists two types of mindsets – a) growth mindset, b) fixed mindsets that shape our lives 

The fixed mindset is entrenched in the credence that an individual’s personal qualities are engraved in stone, at birth, we are granted a certain amount of intellect, morals, talent, etc. and that there is nothing we can do to grow it more.

The growth mindset “is imprinted on the belief that our rudimentary qualities are things that we foster through our hard work, our strategies, and the resulting benefit from others. Even though individuals may differ in their initial talents and abilities, interests or personalities — everyone can change and grow through application and understanding.”

To narrate an example a man was passing some herd of elephants, confused he paused and observed the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was apparent that the elephants can, any time, break away from their shackles but for some purpose, they did not.

A drawing of an animal

Description automatically generatedHis eyes fell on a trainer nearby and inquired why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. The trainer responded, “when they were smaller and much lesser in size, we used the same sized rope to leash them, at that age it was adequate to hold them, but as they were bred, they are conditioned to believe that they cannot break away. They believe the rope can keep them immobile, so they at no time try to break free.”
The man astounded thought these animals can time break free from their bonds anytime but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Each one of us can relate to this fable and the sense of having botched at something over all our developmental years. 

Alike the elephants, many of us go through life holding on to a belief that I cannot do something as I have already failed at it. Over time, I begin to think that I am incapable of doing specific things and start accepting that as the reality and bound myself to a very narrowed world. 

Internally I start contemplating I did try that earlier but since it didn’t work out for me, there is no point in trying it again and wasting my energy and time, I want to look good and don’t want to appear as a fool!’, giving rise to shrinking of my capabilities as I look for an external cocoon to find solace within.  

Can I start looking this as a process of elimination i.e. when I start looking at failures as stepping stones to success I start responding positively with a sense of satisfaction that I tried and failed which makes my next step easier or when I acknowledge that I failed, I only use it to my advantage and make sure the mistake never happens again

To quote another example is Shamu the Killer Whale albeit on a positive side. How did they get a killer whale to jump 25 ft’ out of the water over a rope and dive the headfirst back into the water? 
This procedure is broken in a few steps. The 1st step is to start with the rope below the surface of the water, just high enough from the bottom for the whale to swim under it if the whale swims beneath the rope, the trainer overlooks it, however, each time the whale swims above the rope, the trainer positively reinforces it and the whale gets to indulge fish.

The whale later starts to think there is an interesting analogy between the rope and the food.” So, the whale swims over the rope more often, gradually the trainers keep raising the rope, and lo because of its conditioning od mind the whale does its viola act.

Remember the legendary Michael Jordan’s testament in Nike’s commercial on failure "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've missed over and over and over again in my life.

So, don’t bound yourself to a small world, stop limiting yourself to a life that is constrained, break free of your mental restrictions, and enlarge out into this wonderful empire that we live in.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Practise makes it perfect

Recently Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy on took to Twitter to urge people to not wait for the novel coronavirus enforced lockdown to end before honing their skills.
"Once, Lord Indra got upset with Farmers, he announced there will be no rain for 12 years & you won’t be able to produce crops. Farmers begged for clemency from Lord Indra , who then said , Rain will be possible only if Lord Shiva plays his Damru..." began Swamy.
In a series of tweets, the Rajya Sabha MP narrated what happened next. Lord Indra secretly requested Lord Shiva to not agree with the farmers' plea. When they arrived to plead their case, Shiva said that he would play the damru after 12 years. The disappointed farmers decided to wait for 12 years.
"But one Farmer regularly was digging, treating and putting manure in the soil & sowing the seeds even with no crop emerging. Other Farmers were making fun of that Farmer," writes Swamy.
After three years of the same, the other farmers asked him why he was wasting so much time and energy despite knowing that there would be no rain for quite some time.
As Swamy narrates, the farmer said that while he was aware of this, he was "practicing" to ensure that he didn't "forget the process of growing crops and working in the field". He adds that this farmer intended to "produce the crop the moment there is rain".
His comments piqued the interest of Goddess Parvati who told Shiva that there was a possibility that even he could forget how to play the damru.
"The innocent Lord Shiva in his anxiety just tried to play the Damru, to check if he could….and hearing the sound of Damru immediately there was rain and the farmer who was regularly working in the field got his crop emerged immediately while others were disappointed,"
It did not matter whether the lockdown was lifted after two weeks, two months or even two years.
"Don’t wait for rain , that is the lock down to be lifted and then start something… focus on our skills today, upskill yourself so that you are ready to meet the challenges

Tit-for-tat: After Google drops “Remove China Apps”, Beijing may face more Indian trouble Article in Revoi - Published on 04 June 2020

China paranoid at Indian response to the border dispute.

More Indians retaliate, uninstall Chinese apps

Alternate ways for uninstallation after Google Play Store drops

China to face more trouble from Indian whizkids.

Even after Google Play Store dropping the Remove China Apps, despite a whopping 50 lakh downloads in a couple of weeks, a recalcitrant China, currently flexing its muscles on India borders, is likely to face the ire of nationalist Indian information technology professionals.

The First Response to the Chinese Dragon’s Designs on Indian Territory.

IT sector sources said more action is in the offing against Chinese IT products which have 
thrived at the cost of their Indian counterparts. “Now is the time for us to get even with China”, said an IT professional, who is keeping a close watch on the developments. He, however, refused to divulge more.

The Remove China Apps, developed by Jaipur-based OneTouch App Labs in mid-May, became instantly popular garnering 50 lakh downloads before it was suddenly pulled out from Google Play Store early this week. Professionals suspect China’s ‘invisible’ pressure on Google in this regard.

But even after Google Play Store suspending it, the immensely popular app will be downloadable. On Thursday, for instance, IndiaTV disclosed how to download and install it on Android in five easy steps: (1) Download the Remove China Apps APK file; (2) Tap on the downloaded file; (3) If prompted, allow your browser to install the app from an unknown source; (4) Hit install and (5) Once done, tap on ‘Open’.

The app helps the Indians identify ‘Made in China’ apps installed by the users or third-party websites. Without any login, they could simply identify China-made apps on Android phones and uninstall in a moment.

If the rest of the world suspects China for allegedly masterminding the spread of COVID-19 into a global pandemic, Indians are far angrier with Beijing, their new villain, for amassing troops along Sino-Indian borders and virtually threatening to launch a war against India. Even China’s official media, like CCTV and Global Times, have been relentlessly spewing venom against India in a psychological war, indicating China’s nefarious plans.

These twin crises have triggered a nationalist fervor across India and the Remove China Apps was its first expression in the IT arena.

With controversies like the ongoing pandemic outbreak with China as a cause, the row between TikTok and YouTube, the impasse on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Union Territory of Ladakh, have all snowballed into a strong anti-China sentiment across India.

A clarion call for the boycott of all Chinese goods was also given by entrepreneur and education reformer Sonam Wangchuk, also known as Phunsukh Wangdu of the Bollywood blockbuster “3 Idiots” fame. Actor Milind Soman became the first celebrity to uninstall TikTok, a Chinese short-video making app, followed by 40 lakh others.
But it would not be easy to shake off the Chinese yoke. In view of huge Chinese investments in different Indian sectors over the years, any comprehensive ban on the use of Chinese products is too multifaceted to comprehend.

For instance, three Chinese conglomerates Alibaba, Tencent, and ByteDance have made ‘strategic investments’ in India. The Indian technology start-up sector has more than $4 billion in Chinese investments, in 18 of the 30 unicorns. These start-ups include Big Basket, PayTM, Zomato, Snapdeal, Byju’s, Dream11, Flipkart, Ola, and Swiggy.

TikTok, created as a short video app by Bytedance, a Beijing-based technology company, tried to overtake YouTube but gradually lost its sheen.

India may face a challenge in replacing imported Chinese goods in the electronic sector. In the Indian smartphone market, Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo have a 66 percent market share. Similar is the story of all kinds of China’s cheap and substandard products being dumped into India, the world’s largest market.

According to a report by The Gateway House, some Chinese funds route their investments in India through offices located in other countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mauritius. For example, Alibaba’s investment in Paytm India was made by Alibaba Singapore Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and this does not figure as Chinese investment in Indian government data.

In their quest to ban Chinese products’ invasion, youths are also trying hands with ‘Made in India’ apps like “Say Namaste”, an answer to Zoom, and “Mitron”, the answer to Tiktok, have gained popularity.

However, Mitron was pulled out by Google Play Store this week for violating spam and repetitive content policies, or minimum functionality policy. This app was downloaded more than 50 lakh times as it grew very quickly because of its perceived Indian origin. It was, however, discovered later that the source code had been purchased from a neighboring country with a changed name and logo.

Tit4Tat, again: Fresh ‘China twist’ as Twitter does a Google with Amul!

My article in REVOI dtd. 06 june 2020

After Google, Twitter also falls in China’s line - Removes Amul weekly ad temporarily - Amul refuses to withdraw.
On a day India was actively engaged with China in military-level border talks to reduce tension in an ongoing standoff in Ladakh, Twitter went hammer-and-tongs against Amul, the Taste of India, by temporarily pulling off its weekly comment on current affairs—this time on “Exit the Dragon” theme which apparently irritated China.

The Baby and the Dragon!
Recently, Google Play Store suspended the “Remove China Apps”, which facilitated the deletion of China-made apps, and also the Tik-Tok replacement Mitro’n app, without assigning any clear reason. Google was suspected of being under pressure from China. It is no secret that several multinational companies have historically toed the Chinese line, even crawled when asked to bend.

Twitter may have tried to keep China in good humour and ‘Enter the Dragon’ as the micro-blogging site is not allowed to function there!

On Friday, Twitter suddenly pulled the plug on Amul by temporarily blocking their twitter handle, @Amul_Coop, for putting up a routine news-based topical creative, although now it is back: “Exit the Dragon”, the Amul girl warned China in the weekly comment from Amul, Made in India.

As usual, Twitter tried to explain it away: “Caution: This account is temporarily restricted. You are seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account. Do you still want to view it?”

Interestingly, Twitter is engaged in a war of even with US President Donald Trump as well. In America, Twitter claims freedom of expression; in China, it toes the Chinese line!

When Revoi sought comment, an Amul official refused politely: “We do not want to get into it. We do topical advertisements with a very clear intention to comment on what is the mood of the nation. We don’t favor anybody, we don’t spare anyone. But our ads are humorous. Twitter and Amul are in touch with each other to understand the technicalities.”

Asked if Amul would delete the “Exit the Dragon” message, the official rejected: “No, Amul is not going to change its stand and will stick to it. The only issue was that Twitter did not inform Amul before taking any action.”

Amul Butter Topical is recognised as one of the longest-running advertisement campaign in the world. The Amul social messaging was launched in 1967 from Mumbai. With increasing popularity of the weekly comments, Amul increased its frequency to four or five campaigns a week, changing theme each time.

Amul’s advertising agency D’Cunha Associates began popularising the theme with its Chairman Sylvester D’Cunha at the helm of affairs along with Usha Katrak and Eustace Fernandes as illustrators.

Sylvester’s son Rahul D’Cunha took command in the early 1990s, supported by Manish Jhaveri, the sole copywriter, and Jayant Rane, the illustrator, for Amul campaigns. The posters are still hand-painted. And the famous Amul girl, in blue hair and red polka-dotted frock, has stayed in the campaign. In March 1966, when the first topical ad was launched, she was seen riding a horse with the pun “Thoroughbred”, followed by the famous slogan “Utterly Butterly Delicious” slogan.

The Still Flight

4 monks decided to meditate silently without uttering a word for two weeks. On the 1st night, the candle began to flicker and then goes out.
The 1st monk - "Oh, no! The candle has gone out."
The 2nd monk - "I thought we had an agreement not to speak?"
The 3rd monk an in irritated tone - "Why must you two break the silence?"
The 4th monk smiled with pride and said , "Ha! I'm the only one who didn't speak."
"Individually each of the 4 the monks spoke for different reason, each of which is a shared stumbling block to inner journey, meditation, distraction, judgement anger and pride.
The 1st monk became anxious by one element of the world - the candle- losing sight of the rest and forgot what was more important.
The 2nd monk was more concerned about rules than the meditation itself. He was quick to criticise / judge others without noticing the he himself is guilty.
The 3rd monk let his own anger at the first two to affect him . The singular eruption of anger ruined his energy.
And the 4th monk was lost in his ego because of pride. He was convinced that he was superior to others, proving his ignorance, had he simply maintained his silence, he would've been successful in his endeavour.
But if he had continued likelihood the other 3 would've possibly continued to argue and not even observed his stillness.
I know many people who are like the 4th monk; their motto: If I'm doing something good and no one is watching (or no one notices), I might as well not be doing it at all. They believed that the reward is not in the determination, but in the acknowledgement.
It is clear from reading the story that none of the 4 monks are spiritually ready to perform the difficult. Unfocused and easily distracted by their surroundings. I see the moral of the story is 'to plan thoroughly and be solidly ready before embarking on an action. Focus your mind repetitively in reaching your purpose, and the objective will be reached, however difficult.
What would you have done if you were the 5th monk?

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

Lockdown 1.0 was undeniably taxing time for e-tailers, grocery firms as they have responded to first-time tests with pioneering strategies to maintain supply chains and ensure consumers can access their goods. Survival of the fittest - Firms adapted to supply provisions to homes through their platforms as a means of its existence.

Newer insights - On a routine discussion with a leading blue collared job aggregator, I was delighted to hear they were helping eCommerce companies recruit individuals for delivery of essential goods since companies were facing adversity in their present set of employees moving to their home town unknown about their future 

The hurdle - Trade was hit badly at the workforce level with numerous employees leaving for their home towns immediately after the declaration of lockdown, reducing eCommerce working capacity by half and at the same time, 5X times increase in consumers ’ resorting to panic buying.

Adaptability - Businesses like BigBasket, iD Fresh Food used technology and business process engineering by filtering their SKUs and further justifying reach in cities facing manpower scarcity increasing their productivity. 

iD Fresh Food manufactures of fresh foods like idly/dosa batter parottas, chapatis, curd and paneer embarked on an innovative method to halt customers from panic buying as they launched a store finder feature on its website rationalizing SKUs, it provides consumers with updated info on iD products available at stores near them. They also offer a notify-me feature to alert consumers as and when fresh stocks get refilled at neighborhood stores.

A newer way of doing business - Milk basket a subscription-based micro delivery service gratifying dairy essentials and household need of customers need every morning now has a new normal as the cost of serving customers multiplied with the anti-Covid measures, they had to temporarily cut down on their capacities, cancel last minute orders inconveniencing customers apart from large scale wastage & dump of perishable goods. 

Nandu’s chicken and Licious Food supplying fresh non-vegetarian foods recruited a new workforce to cater to the gastronomical needs of their customers.

MTR foods tied-up with Shell oil to ensure their products are accessible across all petrol pumps in South India apart from enhancing direct deliveries of orders placed through their website to 15,000 pin codes in India.

Marico partnered with logistic companies like Delhivery, Shadowfax, and Lalamove to ensure products are delivered from factories to depots to distributors and to end consumers.

The 2nd lockdown - with no letup on non-essential items has given Fashion brand Nykaa an opportunity to launch its private label in handwashes, masks, and hand sanitizers with a pledge to deliver it to over 14,000 pin codes. 

The logistics trade also swung into action as they were allowed intra and interstate movements of trucks. MyGate, a community-based management platform realigned its business by building partnerships to restore essential services for its users by partnering with companies like Grofers, ITC for the fast delivery of grocery supplies apart from free medical consultation tie-ups with healthcare companies like DocsApp and mfine.

Reckitt Benckiser, P&G, Unilever have become more resilient than ever and are revamping their production of cleaning supplies as they see unprecedented demand even in the future. Products like Lysol and Dettol are in huge demand as personal hygiene is becoming more important and they expect more pronounced changes in consumer behavior and are quite confident that consumers will stick to well-known brands. 

Aid from tech companies - Marut Drones, Flytbase, GarudaUAV is rushing up the process compared to traditional deliveries by delivering medicines, vital supplies. These drones fitted with infrared cameras, speakers help civic and government authorities not only monitor body temperatures but spray disinfectants, help to monitor and cautioning citizens, providing pertinent evidence on people’s movements

Don't worry about dying, worry about not living - Heartening trend signified amidst a countrywide lockdown, the e-commerce industry has tried to stay afloat by delivering essential goods and expanding to grocery and are still working on their business continuity plans and will be more active in their direct-to-consumer outreach and will need to devise strategies to adjust to this new reality. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

This too shall pass

A Few days back, I received a forward in WhatsApp urging citizens to boycott e-commerce platforms operating in India stating earlier these companies splurged on advertisements by generating noise as they held round the year sale, imposing us to purchase things that we don't consume, but now they are unseen during testing times, living us with no option but to fall back on our time tested neighborhood stores to meet our daily needs.

For a moment even I felt like falling to the forward, but then my mind pondered with a few questions like a) are we not responsible for the rise of these companies? b) did we not fell to the enticement? c) did we not savor all the rebates? d) did we not purchase things that we don't need?. We changed our basic understanding of consumption forgetting the thin line between needs and wants.

We can always keep debating on this topic but my opinion is not for or against that forward but in such adversity how new generation fintech/e-commerce companies have responded to an adage - "Tough times never last but tough people do".

Life is not always calm, there have been periods in the past - mankind, when faced with adversity, had looked deep within and believed in their everyday power to get all of us through.

Pessimist started perceiving the ongoing pandemic as a glass half empty by terming the pandemic as "a Black Swan", but optimists approached positively by looking the glass as half full and could see the swan as cool, calm, graceful but furiously fierce and determined paddling below the surface.

It is during such troubled times you know the true character of a person; a chance to exhibit their best as optimists reinforced the statement "new beginnings are often disguised as painful endings".

Tech companies started factoring the directives issued by the government for essential goods and services to their advantage, this business disruption might not be a major revenue earner for them but this out of the box thinking paved way not only for collaboration but also led to a different stream of business opportunity as huge demand for daily staples were forecasted.

Organized existing marketplace in Big Basket, Grofers, along with e-com companies like Flipkart, Amazon all were facing a mounting task of fulfilling the extra demand during the last week of March' 20 fuelled by lockdown resulting in reduced manpower, disruption in logistics, uncertainty in supply-chain across state borders and panic purchasing. Almost all forcibly had stopped taking orders as the orders surmounted beyond comprehension.

A slew of internet businesses like Zomato, social commerce start-up Meesho, etailer Snapdeal, DealShare, Paytm Mall, real estate platform NoBroker, Swiggy, have all diversified into the groceries space, a category considered hard to crack for e-commerce players.

To meet the rising consumer demand companies started teaming with local manufacturers, Kirana stores, local modern retail outlets like Nilgiris, Modern Bazaar,  NinjaCart, Gully Network, Jumbotail apart from organized retail-like Spencer's Retail, Vishal MegaMart, More Retail, Metro Cash & Carry, etc. to fulfill orders, all of them now are in further discussion with multiple national and regional (FMCG) brands for strategic alliances.

Companies started accepting finite disappointment, but we're not losing infinite hope." Start-up company Perpule (app for self-checkouts & easy payments) launched an e-commerce portal "Storese" by launching a grocery ordering online platform by partnering with prominent offline retailers such as Vishal Mega Mart, More Retail Ltd, Metro Cash and Carry, etc by targeting apartment residents of Bengaluru city to order essentials and groceries by leveraging its POS technology through a real-time inventory map of the stores on its online platform.

All online and offline companies are pooling their resources to survive the current business environment and have kind of rewriting the rule "Life keeps throwing stones at you, and we have to keep discovering the diamonds" or "when life knocks you down, you can either bounce back up and move on or you can stay down there and live the rest of your life with resentment and regret".

Flipkart has started a pilot project in partnership with Spencer's in Hyderabad to make doorstep delivery of groceries and essentials to leverage synergies and delivery of essential products to consumers and promote social distancing.

Marico has partnered with Swiggy and Zomato to ensure the delivery of its popular Saffola brand of oats and oil. Once the order is placed, a delivery executive picks it up from the nearest Marico distributor and delivers it to the consumer in Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, and Ahmedabad.

ITC Ltd. has tied-up with Domino's Pizza to deliver its Aashirvaad brand of flour, salt, and spices, besides Savlon hand sanitizers, to customers in Bengaluru, Noida, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad

Big Bazaar has aligned with online bike aggregator Rapido and food delivery service scootsy is delivering groceries in Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Jaipur.

Spencer Retail has joined hands with Uber in the Kolkata market aside with Rapido and Scootsy to deliver in Mumbai, Gurugram, Cochin, Hyderabad, Haridwar, and Chennai.

BigBasket has teamed with Uber and Rapido to deliver groceries in select parts of India is advertising-free profiling of clients during the lockdown period.

Zoho an app development platform is letting companies use their products for free.

We may never know how long humans have to face the ongoing situation? or to that matter how many such stop-gap associations between companies will last? whether retail consumers spoilt for choice will continue to solicit this temporary arrangement without any discounts or will the retail customers revert to time tested habitual buying behavior developed over the last few years. One thing that I can foreknow is such disruptions are there to stay.   

These all are just a few examples of how as a nation we all are fighting together, paradoxically these are testing times but learning times which reiterates "our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." This too shall pass.