Sunday, June 30, 2013

Consumer, Producer and Market

Household final consumption expenditure constitute India's 59.5 percent of GDP in 2008-2012 as per world bank data. Household final consumption expenditure (formerly private consumption) is the market value of all goods and services, including durable products (such as cars, washing machines, and home computers), purchased by households. Consumption shows utilization of wealth but the question runs deeper than figures. Is wealth creation enough ? Is wealth reaching the poor household even with the above 5% GDP growth rate?

Lop sided nature of Indian capitalism promotes few entrepreneurs, mostly as an employees and almost all as a consumers. This is well reflected in our quest to create jobs rather than suitable ecosystem for a new venture. I am seeking attention towards our socio-economic environment where masses are looked as consumers rather than producers. By focusing only on profit making, even BOP reduces the concept of wealth to just money, and the rest – i.e., the community and the environment - are reduced as the resources for exploitation.

Most of the poor people in India are engaged in agriculture and allied activities. The markets are distorted with oligopolies of the traders and producers are not getting proper prices for their produce. Most of the markets are strongly biased in favors of traditional trading communities. One more hidden fact : Caste reduces the transaction cost in India. That is a proper conclusion coming from the research study. [Caste discrimination and transaction costs in the labor market: Evidence from rural North India]. So, pleading with the privileged traders to share their luck may be an utterly fruitless exercise. There is need of deep market reform in India. This idea has been floating from a long time. When we fail to reform markets through regulation (that turned into license raj !), we thought of creating jobs to pull worker from the field to cities. Now on realizing that cities will not absorb the agricultural workforce, schemes such as MGNREGS are created to stop migration. So we are back to square one and problem with the market remains same.

I give weight-age to an inclusive more than an efficient market. Left Parties will always see every individual looking for reform in state policies as a suspect who has succumbed to the lure of the market. And everyone knows how socialism has failed ! Market will always go for person with better information and resources. Neo-liberals cry for efficiency without even giving chance of equal opportunity to everyone. That is the problem of our neo-liberal friends who seems propagator of free market without even surveying ground for this step. Instead of finding out why the idea of regulated market has not worked, we are scrapping the idea itself gradually. In the futile chase of efficiency, we are loosing our sights. Our markets are neither inclusive nor efficient.

There are some views that don't change with the time. Once, I have written an article heading Consumer Culture 5 years ago. But in these five years, I did learn few things about markets and social justice. Still, I am undecided on final answer. Yes, I subscribe to the words of Laurence J. Peter who argued --- “Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.”

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reviewing 1st National Symposium on Rural Management

“Small changes can produce big results – but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious.” – Peter Senge

XIMB hosted 1st National Symposium on Rural Management on November 9th-10th 2012 [Photo Album]. The event brought together institutions, academics, professionals, key client groups and other stakeholders to deliberate on the issues, pool experiences and develop strategies and designs for expansion, institutionalization and better domain engagement. Papers / presentations were invited on five aspects of the Rural Management field listed here -

1. Rural Management in the Next Decade – Tasks, Organizations and Professional Needs
2. Rural Management – Defining the Field
3. Programs in Rural Management – Intent, Design, Content and Issues
4. Praxis in Rural Management
5. Strengthening Rural Management

NSoRM Welcome Flash Video

I attended few of the lectures/presentation and it was worth attending them. Eminent personalities like Dr. Mihir Shah, K V Raju, M S Sriram, Shailendra Kumar & Dinesh Awasthi participated in the symposium. On the funny side, whole symposium gave a false impression of IRMA alumni union ! Issues like Health, ICT, Policy, Rural Marketing, Rural Development, Human Resource Management, Natural resource management etc were discussed in great details by thematic experts.

I observed that three developing trends must be watched by rural manager - Rapid urbanization, Greater income stratification and Consumer Market Growth. There is increasing level of urbanization from 27.81 % in 2001 Census to 31.16 % in 2011 Census. Rural business has emerged as a big employer for rural managers, but there has been a shift towards looking at rural people as consumers. Consumption in rural India growing faster than urban areas. National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data shows that during 2004-05 to 2009-10 rural construction jobs rose by 88 percent, while the number of people employed in agriculture fell from 249 million to 229 million.

Most of the student have motive to join - to study ‘management’ rather than ‘rural management’. That is the fact of the whole education. Rural Manager have neither many peers/seniors to correct him/her, nor one to look up to for guidance. His/her actions can make or break many livelihood of many if not lives. While students working at NGO think - Low Pay Scales & Can't fundraise; Yaar paisa bhi nahi, learning bhi nahi. It becomes easy to frustrate working in a non-professional environment where only requirements – report writing, proposal writing & ayah-duty for funding agency visits. Hence, the sector is plagued by high attrition and lack of long term commitment from professionals. But the first decade of career as rural manager has assured employment at low pay scale while second decade will bring recognition and reputation.

Its not sectoral job any more. Managerial roles merge irrespective of sectors and there is need to learn a lot by learning courses on Public Systems Management and Program evaluation, Project planning and implementation, Project Funding, Advocacy, Consulting, Communication, Marketing, Monitoring & Evaluation. One more factor that I found in their talks was lack of knowledge management. There are rural managers (men of action) who are a storehouse of information which they often don’t know how to share with academic and student community. Their valued experiences are lost without documentation and appear only in the conversation with their peers.

There are so many colleges offering courses related to rural management like - IRMA; XIMB ; KSRM ; IIFM,Bhopal; IIRM,Jaipur; XISS,Ranchi; NIRD,Hyderabad; TISS,Mumbai; Amity school of rural management ; Agribusiness Management (IIM-A, IIM-L, VAMNICOM, MANAGE). One of the major contribution of these institutes have been bringing about professionalism in the development sector.
All of the people attending were more or less agree on one thing - Rural Management can't be a molded in design of established framework of business management. There can be no unique approach programme design has to be tailor made suiting to the group needs and flexible. While the sector has been growing, Institute have dilemmas of their own - Institution location, Faculty, Placements, Self Financing, Aspiration of Graduates! Alumni are the best ambassadors of what college is all about. That will be my sole criteria on judging quality of institutes.

The Blind Men and Elephant story holds so true in this field. There are no overall experts here. Everybody is a generalist integrator looking for complete picture and specialization comes much later! The whole symposium left many question that were lingering in the minds of working professionals and academic community. Does RM mean RD? What lies beyond Donor Agencies, livelihoods and MF ? Society values “Rural Managers” (??) or Rural Management degree?? And eternal question - "What is a rural manager ?" was discussed again and again for new interpretations.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sustainable Development !

Thanks to Nikhil Akhouri for that pic !!! Indeed hearing everyone go gaga about 'Sustainable Development' sometimes gives the same feeling!!!

"Sustainable development is like teenage sex - everybody claims they are doing it but most people aren't, and those that are, are doing it very badly.”

Prof. Shambu Prasad takes the Academic Contribution Award

Prof. Shambu Prasad, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, is the strict choice of the Villgro Awards' jury for Academic Contribution in 2013.

It is so nice to hear and feel lucky to be taught by our own professor who is getting recognized for his works. Such achievements help in positioning XIMB as an institute with a difference.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Suggested Viewing for Rural Manager

We realized that the important thing was not the film itself but that which the film provoked. —Fernando Solanas ("Cinema as Gun")

The purpose of nearly all films/ documentaries is to communicate. People want to communicate to outside world hidden portrayals and interpretations of the society. There will be no solution but a simplistic view of this world through the eyes of cinema. What good is cinema if it trails behind literature ? Just as in literature, as the taste has moved from fiction to nonfiction, this happens in film as well. There is need for an individual to engage with harder issues such as poverty, gender discrimination, sex trade, class struggle, prostitution, environmental damage, terrorism, ethnic and religious riots. We unknowingly or knowingly forms opinion on them very fast. But such complex issues require further probe to see the complete picture. A film or documentary is a naive effort to increase our knowledge base before making any judgement.

I am enlisting films and documentaries that shows bewitching, haunting, anxious and even comic portrait of our society's underground life. On one side the cinema display the natural beauty of the society along with representing the related customs and cultures, the other side the hidden taboos and exploitative practices. What one want to communicate and what one hope to reach is two different sides of same coin. I hope you will have rational and emotional response to section of lost, forgotten or overshadowed experiences presented through simple, straight to heart edition of cinema.

1- Movies on Business - Rocket Singh Salesman of Year, Trishul, Guru & Chak De India, Pursuit of Happiness, It’s a Wonderful Life, Thank You for Smoking, The Hudsucker Proxy, Death of a Salesman, Glengarry Glen Ross, Barbarians at the Gate, The Social Network, The Insider, The Godfather, Wall Street, 12 Angry Men, Up in the Air, Modern Times, Norma Rae, A Christmas Carol, Syriana.

2- Movies on Development - Manthan, Swades, Peepli Live, Well Done Abba, Do Bigha Zamin, Mother India, Aghaat , Gaabhricha Paus, Goshta Choti Dongraevadhi, Jhing Chik Jhing, Kanchivaram, Bawandar.

3- Good Documentaries - There's No Tomorrow; The Yes Men Fix the World; Inside Job; A Small Act; Smartest Guys in the Room; The Corporation; Food, Inc.; An Inconvenient Truth; India Untouched; Jai Bhim Comrade; Kiran Bedi: Yes Madam, Sir ; Ram ke Nam; Pitr, Putr aur Dharmayuddha, Born Into Brothels ; The Day My God Died; The Story of India ; Final Solution ; Love in India; The Slow Poisoning of India; A Narmada Diary ; Satyamev Jayate(TV Series).

One may suffer from PDDD (Post Documentary Dullness Disorder). I hope you feel the films and documentaries, because you will not enjoy it. These films have more role other than eroticism and social duty. We are just given tour of reality through them. Saying in the words of John Grierson- In documentary we deal with the actual, and in one sense with the real. But the really real, if I may use that phrase, is something deeper than that. The only reality which counts in the end is the interpretation which is profound.

Remember, all our lives, we have been asked to believe that "quality matters, not quantity". Yes, there is absence of a critical documentaries on current phase of Indian society that reflect a big lapse in our higher education. Watch the films and grasp reality of development either for people or fair market, one bite at a time - every films will tell something, you don't know ;)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Suggested Reading for Rural Manager

The philosophy of the former Nation editor Victor Navasky, “to question the conventional wisdom, to be suspicious of all orthodoxies, to provide a home for dissent and dissenters, and to be corny about it, to hold forth a vision of a better world” still holds true for times now.

We are all living in an era where raising comforts and growing economy has conditioned many individuals with good education to jerk off all political responsibilities and even basic understanding of political matters. There is rapid increase in the mindless content of entertainment, news, films and books, hence we have to seek knowledge in a very mature and intelligent manner. In the era of instant judgement, careful analysis and patience is required. By looking through the complexity enough one need to find real cause of sufferings of many.

Curiosity is the most powerful thing you own. There is a pleasure of finding things out. Starting point of any education is by giving us an understanding of ourself, our culture and our world. Our knowledge must adapt to changing times, not get buried under traditional walls of classroom teaching. I don't read journals (not even EPW) myself as even using Google smartly requires a scholarly work. But there is always an effort and guidance required for personal growth.

I am naming here few books related with the field of rural management and development. You can add your own preferences but reading books is a personal choice. There is a very thin line between creative suggestion and interference. One is always free to search and share his/her own knowledge. I will quote Aldous Huxley who put it in a more elegant way - “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Good Management Books

01- Connect the dots by Rashmi Bansal
02- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
03- The Essential Drucker by Peter Drucker
04- Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
05- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
06- Simply Fly – A Deccan Odyssey by Captain Gopinath
07- Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson
08- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
09- Made In Japan: Akio Morita & Sony Reissue by Akio Morita
10- Positioning : The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries, Jack Trout
11- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
12- What Money Can't Buy The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel
13- We Are Like That Only: Understanding the Logic of Consumer India by Rama Bijapurkar
14- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't by Jim Collins
15- Beyond the MBA Hype: A Guide to Understanding and Surviving B-Schools by Sameer Kamat
16- The Ascent Of Money : A Financial History Of The World : A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

Good Development Books

01- I Have a Dream by Rashmi Bansal
02- Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich
03- I Too Had a Dream by Verghese Kurien
04- Small is Beautiful by E F Schumacher
05- Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen
06- Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
07- Everybody loves a Good Drought by P Sainath
08- The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry
09- We Are Poor but so Many: The Story of Self-employed Women in India by Ela R Bhatt
10- Hello Bastar: The Untold Story Of India's Maoist Movement (Paperback) by Rahul Pandita
11- Banker To The Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty by Muhammad Yunus
12- A Fistful of Rice: My Unexpected Quest to End Poverty Through Profitability by Vikram Akula
13- The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits by CK Prahalad
14- Poor Economics: Rethinking Poverty And The Ways To End It by Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo
15- Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus

How much book a person can read, it can never substitute the experience part of the life. Talking with the people who are living with, not against, nature is biggest guide of a rural manager. Their wisdom and prejudices have been passed through generation of experiences. Observe them !!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grassroutes: Developing Villages through Rural Tourism

Inir Pinheiro is a MBA in Rural Management from XIMB of 2004 – 2006 batch. He skipped placement offers to start up his own company, Grassroutes. Grassroutes is based on the concept of responsible rural tourism wherein tourism is run, managed and owned by local village communities. Today, it is a sustainable and profit making venture transforming unknown small villages, near the metros, into viable tourist destinations; sustainable for him and giving livelihood opportunities to the villagers. There is enough Media Coverage of this rural tourism venture.

The best part in his story that he is a "typical city boy", born and brought up in Mumbai. Inir learnt about the realities of village India much later. Inir proves that one need not to belong to villages to work in rural areas. He described once his work in the words of Regina Spektor -

“It started out as a feeling,
Which then grew into a hope,
Which then turned into a quiet thought,
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder…….
'Til it was a battle cry !”


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This Blog is meant purely as a personal diary of a rural manager in making. It exists to record information, experiences and opinions about various issues encountered in the line of duty. Any person, institution and organization mentioned here doesn't assume any liability for its contents. This is not a deliberate attempt to defame anyone. And if you have actually read all that is written in the blog and aren't mad at me, then thanks for your time and patience !


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