Monday, December 24, 2012

How to be a good Salesman ?

Every day around the World there must be people who work as salesmen selling some or the other kind of product or service. In some societies such vocations are looked down upon and in the more refined they are subject of praise and recognition. Nevertheless Selling and Sales would be in increasing demand by the day and the power of this job all too conspicuous in various spheres and domains.

Look at the Computer hardware industry of India of today. What a metamorphosis and strategic shift. Salesmen and selling has proved the World wrong on myriad of occasions to be taken lightly. Study the early 1980's when primitive computer desktops were sold by companies around the country. This is possibly an era where only few Mainframe computers existed and Sales men had a very tough time negotiating through impregnable barriers and many of them did so like warriors trying to sell a seemingly unwanted piece of equipment. This was an era when the Banks of the Country were rebellious against Computerization and seeing it as a job killer - but thanks to the skill of these people and their verve and application their efforts were not totally misplaced. today banking institutions are one of the key application domains of Computerization. A full software sector emerges in India riding piggy-back on the hardware revolution and note the dynamics of the electronic industry per-se  stand alone systems gave rise to networking and thence came the internet and the global village as we see today.

The profession of selling has changed drastically over the past few years. two fundamental changes have emerged..the diminishing necessity to travel long distances for a rendezvous ..and the medium of mobile phone and the web cutting down transaction cycle time of selling and both these changes casting their spell on selling. The sales mans job of today is swinging more towards servicing orders and servicing is an activity demanding a specialized set of skills.

Forget the Computer Industry ..there are several industries that thrive on the selling
phenomena..Insurance...Private banking......Credit cards.... leisure travel and the like just to name a few and organizations face increasing challenges to maintain a good selling team that performs from time to time. I have seen salesmen who create short bursts of success and not able to retain the success for long..and many who start too slowly to make steady contributions and many things depending on what the organization is looking for ..or stands for...or its strategic orientation. I have seen too many sales managers who only abuse their salesmen and sometimes removing them from service to recall them after some time..I have seen many such confusions or idiosyncrasies and randomness on the part of organizations..but I firmly believe a healthy selling organization can be created and endured. I have seen sales managers who are guilty of criminal conduct and go un-punished for too long..and I have also at many places seen untrained salesmen who have only know their work through experience sometimes perform better than the trained ones.

Somewhere it is difficult to answer the question...How to be a good Salesman?  somewhere the fundamental point is for any salesman to find out what he likes to sell or enjoys selling from the bottom of his heart and there is no scope for any dis-honest answer. Sometimes to arrive at a right answer a person has to try selling many things to find out what he is good at. It needs a period of apprenticeship. But there can be no dubious answer to this question..and there can be no more than one product a person is very comfortable selling. However there are two broad kinds of salemen that likes to sell concepts and the other that likes to sell is chimerical and the other is physical and any person must try to upfront define which of these domains he is comfortable with.I still believe every one can be a good sales man the only difference is the product and it is an activity of high risk if anyone tries to sell something which he is not comfortable with and this relationship and misfit cannot be for ad-infinitum and will break sooner than expected. Such situations are all too common with sales men around the world sometimes lured by high earnings trying to sell something which he is not very comfortable with only to land up in an irreparable mess needing years to correct and rectify.

How is Sales different from others forms of promotion is in its targets. A salesman primarily works with targets. Sometimes these targets are ill-conceived and burdened on the sales man upfront creating something unethical and illegal..and these targets might be irrational..and yet there might be some who achieve it and many who have mastered the task of portraying they have achieved  it. Everything said and done there is a selling skill that largely revolves around closing orders, some have it in abundance and thrive in selling..but this is a continuum of various activities and a proper organization of the various components become essential for maintaining a good sales organization that can resist the long run.

In my view point every sales organization must monitor the conduct of its Sales Mangers..largely scanning for continuous unethical behavior no matter how highly qualified he or she might be. Unethical behavior can start from small misconducts like being partisan to the more serious kinds of jeopardizing orders.There can be no two ways about it and a matter that has to be attended to with rigor and severity by top management or the organizational promoters.This is a very serious issue and a prime one which needs engagement and intervention at the right juncture. No salesman would ever enjoy and continue doing a good job if he is mismanaged or abused..and this must not be permitted and has legal ramifications. Moreover SalesManagers must create a weighted average method revolving around more than two parameters around which sales men performance is measured and validated.

Every sales man must understand Sales is dependent on two customer factors namely 1. The latent  need for a product and 2. The purchasing power of the customer. In any territory he operates he must look very cautiously for these two factors to become successful. If he is not looking at these factors he is working like a business-developer and must understand it and position himself so. Note that no business developer ever works with targets. If a salesman does not look at the above factors he will fall short of targets. There might be another factor that influences selling situations namely customer behavior. But customer behavior is secondary in sales situations and the above two factors rule the roost.

Never take very large issue in territory management as it will dilute concentration of effort. Always ask for an optimal territory say having some hundred accounts and anything more than this would mean 'shooting in the dark' . This is always the hall mark of an experienced sales man...he knows the optimal territory around which he can successfully operate.

Once the sales man has made an initial survey around the above two issues..the next step is to talk to the clients. Do this always with right kind of preparation and to the right people. Use the mobile phone and the internet for this purpose but nothing can replace personal contact. 

Many of the prospects who come through the above procedure will be  ready for closing..the penultimate and the most crucial stage of the selling process very often with the Terminal buyer also called the financial decision maker of the organization.There is zero tolerance at this stage for errors or contradictions. Take another person who is sincere to the cause and at the same time knowledgeable about the history of the order to act as a prop or support. Never forget to service orders professionally after receiving orders and note that it is well serviced orders that beget more orders.

Hopefully what I have written above would help organizations and salesmen around the world alike. though I don't believe there is any one who could be branded an 'Unsuccessful salesman"..and if by any chance you are one use your experience to handle 'Sales Operations' ; 'Business Development' or move into another organization for a selling function.

According to me Sales and Selling  is a priceless experience which develops individuals into cutting edge personalities..and if any one around the world has selling difficulties please contact me for a possible analysis and remedy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CALICUTCITY::Zila Sainik Welfare Board Kozhikode Calicut

There is a place in Calicut Kozhikode that is dear to me..The ex-servicemen welfare office..also called the Sainik Welfare board. The secretary of the Board was Capt. K T Srinivasan a relative and I used to frequent this place. Captain as  I used to call him used to behave sternly at the outset but gradually we became more of friends. How did this place help was a resting point or transit point for me at Calicut Kozhikode at times. What does this office do? it basically takes care of the welfare of ex-servicemen  in the district.

It used to be a large sprawling campus with a elaborate office all some half an acre and was tucked few yards away from the main road adjacent to the Rajendra Nursing home close to the Malabar Christian College.  Capt K T Srinivasan was some kind of an influential person  in the congress party circles of  Kerala and using a reference letter from him I had met Mullapally Ramachandran in Delhi who is the present Minister of State for Home.I met a retired Colonel AVM Achutan who was in-charge of presidential guards for some time in Delhi. I have also interacted with the PS of Mullapally Ramachandran Shri  P S Money who is an IAS officer.I went to meet the Minister again at his residence 263 south avenue but was prevented by his PA from doing so and later had to correspond with him.This was somewhere in 1991-92. I have also closely interacted with a writer who is well known in this part of the world by name 'Thikkodian".I have also visited the house of Mr. Thikkodian. Captain was known for the huge parties he used to throw at times. Captain did take me once to the house of a Dy SP of police by name Mr. Narayanan some where close to this part of  Calicut . I had also met Col. Ayilath a retired military officer here.

Mullapally Ramachandran present Hon. MOS for Home

For some reason this place was dear to me and I just happened to remember has offered me comfort and retreat at times when the situation was difficult or uncertain.


Any one who wants to visit this place Zila Sainik Board in Calicut ask for Rajendra Nursing Home near Malabar Christian College and this spot must be some 06 kilometers from main Calicut bus stand.PHONE:0495-2771881

Monday, December 3, 2012

Walking between Whitefeild and K R Puram Stations

There was something eventful or breathtaking in my life as an adolescent and an exercise that I cannot forget and an endurance exercise some of us were forced to take to during our course as students at the Sathya Sai Arts Science and Commerce College.

Somewhere I mentioned that in the early 1980's there were very few BTS or BMTC as it is called now buses connecting Whitefeild and K R puram.. There were many BTS buses connecting Whitefeild into HAL and Marathhalii but few that would turn right at Hope farm into Garudarcharpalya and eventually K R Puram. This means for any reason we were stuck at Whitefeild at aroung 11:00am it would mean a wait upto around 4:00 in the evening for a train or about  5:00 for a BTS bus. This wait was harrowing sometimes at the Whitefeild station at times with Hemanth Bapat and Ramdas both my senior students at this place.

I have traveled between Whitefeild and K R Puram in un-conventional ways..once in a Diesel engine where-in the driver took concern at a lone lad waving his hand at the driver seeking a passage on the engine and he being of a kind disposition volunteered to help me and before long I was sitting in the engine room with the driver and seeing for myself how a Diesel engine operated during the next fifteen minutes. At another instance some of us were into the last bogie usually used by the guard of a goods train clasping firmly on some prop as the train sped its way over the 15 kilometers.They were undoubtedly enjoyable experiences but more than twice we had to walk the entire distance between Whitefeild and K R Puram through and through the many impoverished villages of that time braving the mild Bangalore sun and walking alongside the track lest we get lost carefully maneuvering across barren wells that posed some danger and the full exercise taking some 05 hours in all. Hoodi is a place that comes different Bangalore city and its suburbs look now with an ITPL some where around the corner  and most of these stretches of land around which we walked largely full of bushes now being more occupied without its rustic looks of the past. It was a sign of relief when we saw the houses of Devanahalli far away and home was nearby. I dont think I can embark on such an exercise now whatsoever and note that the bus connectivities and routings are much improved now than during these times I was talking. I have always beleived that a small Railway station must come up at Hoodi to give rail connectivity and access to ITPL.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Roshan Baig

I am seen here with the former Home Minister of Karnataka State Mr. Roshan Baig a photo taken one evening in 2009 at a function. The other person is Swaminathan Murthy who was Dean at MSRIM. Subia Roshan the daughter of Mr.Roshan Baig used to be my student.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Prem Kumar my friend

If one were to ask me who was my friend at REC NIT  Calicut hostels ..there weren't many. I was friendly with Raghuvaran in the first year and we had to split because he was from Electronics branch. I never really had any cronies for that matter as every singl student of my class was from a disparate social background and some time or period of social learning and unlearning was the order of the day and it took some time..days for some people..months for other ..and years for people like me.

During the early years I used to watch Prem Kumar play cricket in the field and he used to be in my class and that was all..but we teamed up to handle an electrical machines paper through joint study and the study was a huge success and both of us did well at the exams.And incidentally this was the last exam  I wrote at REC. We used to study at the first floor room in the D hostel and take occasional breaks for tea but very rigorously going through the course work. He used to use the word "full jolly" once in a while as we went through studying the problems and portions.Prem joined the Indian Navy later.

Why do I remember Prem Kumar after so long. That evening was a moon-lit night and the lights in the hostels had gone off resulting from a power-cut..and from the D hostel I went to the E hostel to bid good bye to Antony Susairaj ..the last official night or evening of mine at REC Calicut..I met another friend Vinod Shetty on the way and came to bid good-bye to Prem..and it was somewhere a touching affair as I found him very emotional..I asked him Prem what happenned? and he said We may never meet again and I could feel how emotional one could become under such circumstances. I could not fully apprehend his conduct that evening bt years later when i looked back on that evening felt sorely I did not respond to the situation on that day with requisite emotion or feeling or sentiment as one might call it. The face of Prem haunted me for several years thereafter and thanks to the Internet I can meet him any time now and reciprocate the emotion he showed that evening.

The process of Education and its challenges at times lead to such affairs and emotional issues and bonding and only some people like us who battled situations in a combined fashion can comprehend fully well the profundity surrounding such issues and had it not been for such hours spent together we would not have got the better of situations and challenges we were plunged into that were truly uphill but with the support and aid and emotion of some well meaning and largely honest people like Prem we not only went uphill and stood at the pinnacle but also got a view of the world from there that was largely wholesome and dear.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


There is something novel in India in the recent past..the growth of Distance Education and IGNOU being one of the first experiments. I was a student of IGNOU for some time largely learning some tenets of HR and International business and I remember one of the course co-ordinators Col. Sheshadhiri and Mr. Kurien who used to be faculty teaching Internatinonal Business and was employed with a german machine tool firm.

I definitely have words of praise for this university in having conducted a well ordained entrance test and thereafter dispatching course ware which were beyond doubt of high quality.I have profitted from the course-ware and its contents. For long the coordinating office of IGNOU in Bangalore used to work from one of the buildings near Central college and was a very centralized location. I remember participating in video-conferencing sessions here. Thereafter the location of this coordinating office was shifted to some far flung location in Jayanagar.

Rajiv Gandhi

This is one of the better ventures of Rajiv Gandhi and his vision of modern India and this university could be even more proactive in its approach in the way it goes about its activities of disseminating education.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The ITI Bus

Many today would fail to appreciate that the Indian Telephone Industries once upon a time had a full band or set of factory buses numbering more than 200 ferrying some 30,000 employees around the city almost round the clock. They wore the majesty of "Dasara Elephants"  as they progressed around the city and it was our own bus in many ways. The public-sector ITI was unique in many ways and the way the transport buses were run and maintained and operated were with the highest of standards and rhythm. What were the most unique aspect of these buses.

1. They covered every point of the city and its far flung areas
2. The buses traveled some times some 10 extra kilometers just to fetch one employee living in some fringes
3. The drivers who were very employee friendly and professional they went about their work.
4. Some kind of pin-point accuracy in their scheduling
5.The Blue color they adorned uniformly over the entire set and very rarely or never would you see an ITI broken down on the road for maintenance reasons.
6. Every morning there were school buses ferrying students of employees and there was no difference between the son of a director and a laborer..they relished these services without bias or hierarchy.

My earliest memory of using these buses was as a child from Majestic to ITI.   During those times on Sundays and Holidays there used to be a special service from the town to the factory. The earliest ITI buses were Fargo and Leyland buses which gradually gave way to full fledged Tata buses.

The full majesty of these buses could be seen in front of the factory during shift closing hours..all of them lined up..full 200 of them as they slowly progress one at a time on to the main-road. There was a scheme at that time and any aspiring traveler could buy a coupon from any of the near-by shops and use any of these services for one time. I used to do this many times and for me the most touching moment was when an ITI bus driver on one of his return journeys spots me standing at some bus stop and signals to me to get in once he recognizes me as some one from ITI..this was on many occasions very moving to me. We have heard of chauffeur driven cars and for we students of colleges ITI bus was a chauffeur driven bus.

I dont know for sure now what has come of these buses..ITI went into outsourcing its transport in the early 1990's blue buses that were a faint replica of its "Masters" some of them bulky lacking the charm and rhythm of its predecessors.. and gradually as the situation glimmered BMTC buses were hired to ferry the few employees that were around.

Thank You ITI buses ..the system..and the drivers for making the life of we tiny-tots one of pleasure in this city and we have become some formidable people of some standing and hope because somewhere along our ways you carried us through with care and concern and let there be glory and praise for those many policy makers of our country who had the boldness and farsightedness to set up such an enigma called ITI barring which many of us would not have become in some measure what we are and giving us standards of living far surpassing the living standards and support that even the wealthiest countries of these times would have struggled to provide.

Dr. M R Pattabhiram and Myself P O SUBASH PHOTO

Dr. M R Pattabhiram and myself taken in 2007

RIMS Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies

Some time back I visited RIMS Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies which is on New Bel Road closer to the BEL factory an institute for Management Studies commenced  a dozen years ago. It was initially started as a small outfit and then came up in the present location.

What I saw basically was a well ordained outfit that truly left me spell bound...adequate number of floors with good class rooms and wi-fi with offices for staff both teaching and non teaching in right measure. I even happened to be at the top of the building where from the view of the city around is breath-taking.

I have always felt that Management Education is different from many other kinds of Education systems largely because the entire subject is open ended in nature which strictly means the combined areas of Management and Business is not always bound by strict domains and absolute truths and facts but is an open science to be examined and understood in a befitting way and the science facing a metamorphosis every now and then. Most social sciences are of this nature and Management education is no exception..which simply means the more regular forms of education of being bound by a syllabus and exam being the be-all and end-all of the Education process is largely limited in the managerial context and the Education environment must indoctrinate the students largely both the tangible and the logical.

I have known Dr. Pattabhiram for many years now who put up RIMS under the overall aegis of the M S RAMAIAH FOUNDATION adheres in full measure to the doctrine that any Faculty must deliver and do absolute justice to the Student in the class and he had zero tolerance to this policy even when he was active at MSRIM.

During my visit to RIMS it was nice to have a rendezvous with my old colleagues and friends like
Mr. Sivadas Nambiar , Dr. Y Rajaram , Mr. Anil Gowda and few others.

May such institutes thrive that give and focus on giving absolute value to the student community.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Supreme Court Order and Arrests

I read recently with avid keenness an order of the Supreme Court from conducting wanton arrests based on frivolous complaints without proper investigations. I was a student of law for some time and thereupon grew an affinity around this largely time immemorial subject that always regulated human existence. The courts of India have repeatedly promulgated such laws that would restrain over enthusiasm from a duty conscious police person who might strictly follow the rule book to the disdain of some individual who might not be fully aware of the legality of his position. In such situations is the Police completely wrong ? may not be so..they are acting based on something written. If there is something that should not strictly go by the rule of the book it is the Law..Law must always be interpreted as against strictly followed and the interpretations can vary from time to time and the autonomous interpretation of the law in a precise format is something what sometimes good judgement s are composed of. Otherwise the imposers of the law might themselves be guilty inadvertently of gross injustice.

Sometime earlier I had written something about 'relative guilt" to  any given crime. A policeman performing his duty never ever looks at this angle and only looks at absolute guilt. Relative guilt tries to portray the hidden reason why some one committed a crime and depending upon the wantonness of the crime the concept of Relative guilt and absolute guilt varies . Let me explain....If someone commits a murder the absolute component of the crime is much more dominant than the Relative and has to be subject to detail examination by the courts'..but the Absolute is dominant. On the other hand if some one picks a pocket especially if he is a juvenile the Relative is more predominant than the absolute and the enforcers of the law must not  embark upon instant arrest without probing upfront the relative component of the crime and the juvenile must be kept under watch as against an arrest which may no be fully warranted and all that is needed is some form of reprimand. Note that in both these situations the enforcers of the law upfront act in a similar fashion. In the latter case if the child has committed the crime as a result of hunger it is a Humanitarian issue and the bewildered child clasped by Policemen on either side would have none around who could understand his position and in uneducated communities the lad will not be able to fully communicate his position.This is unlawful largely from the state and to a lesser account of the lad.

I have great regard for our police force but when someone is impinged upon absolute care must be initiated that fundamental legal  principles are not violated. This problem can be largely solved if every police station has a judicial mechanism as well that works with autonomy from within the police station..a legal officer or a jury without whose fullest consent some citizen cannot be impinged upon and the sooner we can bring in such  a system the better it would be in the way arrests are made across the country.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The ITI General Hospital

A very key component of any kid growing up in the ITI complex is the ITI General hospital a large hospital complex with different wards and consulting rooms. Very often after a fall from the cycle the hospital was the place to go to dress the would after consulting one of the doctors and on a typical day of these times some ten people could be seen waiting in a line to see some five to six doctors who were on duty ..and as children of employees the treatment was free and owing to this establishment as children health care of a fairly advanced kind was handy and the hospital had almost modern amenities and a very key aspect of the hospital were distinguished medical practitioners of the time being consultants or visiting consultants.

ITI Hospital

ITI was a kind place and a generous place and looked like some foreign country and during the crucial growing-up years gave support a-plenty. This hospital for us was like a god father to whom we could say "I feel feverish"  or "stomach pain" for the past few days and the system gave care that a mother would give its offspring. I understood how difficult health-care could be outside with some hospitals treating patients with disdain. I got a similar behavior from ITI hospital recently and I was upset that the hospital has changed from its magnanimous posture to one of severity.

The modus operandi was simple..take the hospital book to a counter for registering the date and then meet a doctor who would inscribe the medicines and then go to the compounder section where the medicines would be given. Paracetomol..pencillin..lidemicin...cough syrup..phenorgon all popular and widely used medicines. In case one does not have abottle to carry cough syrup on could gulp a dose then and there itself and there were many children to enjoy this refreshment.Dr. Venkat rao; Dr. Sheshadiri, Dr. Venugopal; Dr. Alawandi; Dr.Manimegalai; Dr. Hemavathi, Dr. Narayanan ; Dr. Ramachandran ; Dr. Radhakrishnan; Dr. Jayaram; Dr. Hanumanthu the child specialist;
Dr. Kumaraswamy are all few names that come to my mind and these doctors were given high respect by the people around.There was one Dr. Chacko who was with orthopaedics for a brief while.

Then there were a line of specialized consultants who would come to the hospital on a couple of days a week and they were the best in the trade in the city. Dr Sampath Loganathan the child specialist, Dr. Jayaram a distinguished heart specialist; Dr. Eswar an eye specialist;  Dr.Leela Manikkoth ,Dr Kapadia followed by Dr. Teja Shetty as dentists. Dr. Leela Manikkoth was flamboyant and  suave and added a lace of charm to the otherwise austere profession.Incidentally Dr. Leela Manikkoth was a student of one of  my mother's cousins Dr. Madhavan Nambiar at KMC in Manipal.

There were many occasions where we rushed to the Hospital in the night in a emergency and the duty doctor at casuality was very much there to provide support.Through this write-up I have basically paid tribute to these Doctors and the ITI hospital for the apparently selfless service it provided to its dependents from time to time. I have also visited the private clinics of some of these doctors as a child. The clinic of Dr. Sampath Loganathan on Edward's road which is close to Cunningham road for treatment for whooping cough and the clinic of Dr. Teja Shetty in V V Puram.

I only hope that the ITI General Hospital does not deviate itslef from  its values and ethos of its past and continue to provide the care it did to that errant patient who suddenly walked into its place with some simple or complicated ailment and provide treatment and solace as it always did with that compassionate outfit that the future public would remember it as I do for stretching its hand at times of public need in a right and well behaved manner.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Studying full night at REC Hostels

Engineering is a tough course for many reasons and the course appears even tougher if one is out to understand something that was learnt. I could not be one of those tunnelers through the Engineering curriculum..and incidentally a tunneler is a students who blindly works with zero focus on learning anything sometimes in a homegrown way using some simple text books and I could not reconcile myself to such an approach and no one forced me into tunneling.

I used to try studying using very complex text books...trying to learn Pulse and Digital circuits from Millmann and can an 18 year old make sense of anything from Millman and Taub now I wonder only to abandon such text books later on and learn from less complex text books.

I remember the REC hostels for one thing  studying full night..yes the full night. I remember having studied like this more than a couple of times. Once for a mathematics course involving difference equations and once for Field Theory. The modus operandi is simple ; the decision is taken at around seven in the evening that the full night involvement is needed if the said exam has to be passed the next morning. Once the decision is taken make preparations for it meaning that a full jar of tea from the mini-canteen is all the program-mes on television in the common room and spend time upto around eleven in the night and the hostel slowly progresses into eerie the book and start from some domain and work through the syllabus taking some occasional breaks to walk in the corridors or have a gaze at the main road outside glittering in the glory of the street light above..and five minute nap sleeping on the floor for the fear of dozing off  and the objectives of the effort  remaining un-met if one were to sleep away a serious oversight if it were to ever happen and occasionally taking a look at the room mates who are in very deep slumber and the joy of seeing day break as the lights of the dawn makes its appearance through the window..and the feeling that the exam ahead could be handled..what a chain of events?

At around seven in the morning go to Pappachan hotel walking through the mechanical engineering and electrical engineering labs for some light break fast and proceeding straight to the exam hall atop the main building and spending the next three hours through the question paper and finishing off another hurdle to satisfaction and after the exam proceeding straight to the canteen for a quick lunch fully laden with sleep and making a quick dash to the room and sleeping until about 9:00 in the night and the modes operand i has some parallels to some kind of a military operation.

I have cleared a couple of papers in this way..and I tried duplicating a similar effort at home much later but was barely successful and had to abandon it mid way and not even mid way and dozed of to sleep. Thank you REC hostels especially the C and D hostels where I adventured upon such efforts (and once in the D hostel room of  Suresh Chandra Sathpathy from orissa) and thank you for having supported me in these endeavours and helping in clearing some difficult papers.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Industrialization and Bangalore

The city of Bangalore has seen industrialization in varying steps and stages. I believe every city makes its own kind of progress in its attempt at Industrialization and in the cities gradually agriculture begins to fade giving rise to Industrialization. Fruits like oranges  Guava and Grapes were grown aplenty in this city at various pockets only to disappear with time and not to forget even the cultivation of paddy ..and for various reasons known and unknown they began to get displaced for ever from the overall map of the city.

There  were some attempts at Industrialization in my view point with the advent of the British into the city and the creation of their Cantonment only the chronology is confusing. To my mind the earliest effort at Industrialization of Bangalore must have come with the setting up of the cigarette manufacturing plant of the Imperial Tobacco Company ITC at cook town in Bangalore East. Modern day industrial climate came into this town through ITC and must have been followed by Binny Mills. Both of these must have had British ancestry and the same model being followed by the Mysore Kingdom in setting up the Mysore lamps and Mysore soaps and detergents limited and the power required to all these ventures being supplied by the hydro electric plant at Shivanasamudhra. With the advent of the second world war an Aeroplane servicing facility started by Hirachand / Walchand becoming HAL post Independence. Every city inherits such legacy and this is the Industrial legacy of Bangalore and the many Public sector units that came about this place owe its existence to this legacy.

Post Independence a plethora of public sector units and their ancillaries pervade the city and dictating to a large extent the economic equations of the place. Imperial Tobacco Company became Indian Tonacco Company and note that this factory is in the hot bed of the Brirtish dominated Bangalore and carried its culture aplenty for many years and the factory is displaced to a new location owing to environmental reasons of Industrial waste and odor  I had visited this plant and met some personnel of the quality control department and saw a sprawling factory bearing a Victorian enigma.

What is so unique and particular about the Industrial culture and climate of Bangalore. I notice every two decades a metamorphosis and this seems to have occurred as a rule time and again. In the 1950's the public sectors arrive and the 1970's in my view point were the mini steel plants that came aplenty in the city and there were very many of them on Whitefield road. The electric motor industry also thrived alongside these steel industries in Kirloskar Electric. There was Bhoruka Steel , Kap Steel , Mittal Steel , Andhra Steel all mini steel industries which gradually wound up due to shortage of power with time. Bangalore sees a major tryst with Electronics with BPL and the company largely blossoming to into full bloom in the late 1980's and there again one sees the two decade gap. The Electronics sector dominated the city around this period with electronics related Industry of various kinds around the city in full sway. With Globalization this Electronic sector gradually slips into oblivion and IT sector emerges and I would put the middle part of the decade between 2000 and 2010 as the most gleaming period for the software sector through organizations like Infosys and Wipro.

The city of Bangalore seems to me to be at the threshold of another metamorphosis and it is to be seen what Industry would make its advance like a bolt from the blue to have a strangle hold of the economy and the city at large. Globalization and Internetization has redefined the World and its dynamics and the World would get to undertake almost instantly and partake in full measure any large scale change this city might be at the throes of. Possibly it is the Education sector that would have its influence replacing the manufacturing  sector and a phenomenon that is healthy to the core and in what measure emerging sectors are going to leave a stamp on Bangalore is to be seen like the various organizations that were its predecessors.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Linear Induction Motor

Somewhere in 1985 there was a seminar held at REC NIT Calicut for a few days called STEPS meaning "Seminar on Technical Education problems and solutions" and alongside this event there was an exhibition for the public and the public walked through the various departments and every department created something as an exhibit.

As part of this event the seminar found representations from many other REC's of the time..Mr. Basavaraj the principal of KREC Suratkal and Mr. Rao the principal of REC Allahabad had come and spoke in the plenary session which was held in the newly created seminar hall above the office of the principal. Students from REC Trichy whose names I do not recollect had also made their presence and were housed in the International Hostel. Being a senior student myself I was involved in the organizing activities.

As part of these festivities every lab of REC  was busy preparing some exhibit and the Electrical Department was not to be left behind and the Machines lab eventually was resplendent with many exhibit and bulbs dimming and glowing at many places...and electrical motors working in oscillatory motion ..and many such things that must have fascinated the public and among the exhibits was something novel the "Linear Induction Motor"..Though I was not directly a member of the team that created the motor I was very much around as a well wisher. Shankara Narayanan; Manjeet Singh Rekhi and George John had some direct association with this project..and Dr. Gerwadis...Mr. Suresh Kumar ..and Dr. Prabhakaran were the faculty enthusiasts. I feel sorry that this model that was made by students with the help of faculty was not confined in some enclosure and preserved for the future to see... a fully working model of a Linear Induction Motor.

Linear Induction motors create magnetic traction and levitation. Magnetic traction through a space displaced winding drawn linearly and fed with a time varying current which is phase displaced. This is very easy to say theoretically but now Iam at loss now to describe as to how these windings were precisely laid out. It was possibly connected into a star node at one end with sufficient windings to create both resistance and reactance to create the necessary impedance to withstand the voltage that was being fed ..which means a well formed magnetic base was created for the windings. Couple of evenings previous to the event were spent winding the motor and I was helping my cronies by straightening the wire wearing a cotton glove.The time was set to test it..somewhere in the evening..and a toy like metal train possibly made with aluminium was  placed on the windings and power fed slowly using a dimmerstat and we could not believe that the train was moving over the windings..its speed dependent on the level of voltage fed and many around were exclaiming the sight that they doubted but became true.

During the exhibition many people around came to see our train...and some of the students were explaining it to the general public. possibly in its own way REC NIT Calicut made a model of Magnetic traction around which bullet trains and similar trains work and showed the world how a little ingenuity would create something worth the while and may be the model so created by our students back in 1985 would be some kind of basis around which traction would work in this country in the future.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Mini Canteen at REC NIT Calicut

The above appears to me to be a rare picture of the Mini Canteen of REC NIT Calicut. The character of NIT Calicut is chiseled from this place and every single student more so the hostelites bear on their back like a insignia or trademark the general modification or change of temperament this place brings about.

The MC as it is fondly called has a history and its origins to a fued between the locals and he hostelites some where in 1977 boiling out of a dispute in Kettangal and the stand off lasting for several days and the management of REC deciding to curtail the movement of students into Kettangal by puttng up a canteen within the hostel vicinity itself and thence it came stood conquered and thrived.

This canteen used to open at 8:00 AM  and extend into about 12:00 in the night with a steady inflow and ouflow of students. What is so unique about this place..its conical structure that resembles a monument from far made of thatched roof and a cement floor a specific portion of which is used by the staff who run this place in an orderly and efficient fashion with a high degree of commitment. The best part of the canteen is being there part of some cluster discussing some issue with high involvement and the time bring around 11:00 PM and the lights of the MC off and the only source of visibility being the moon light burning brightly through the trees that adore aplenty in a lush above

Our MC was not just another canteen it had a personality of its own and a character and contribution of its own and every student looked up to it with a combination of reverence and gratitude of some kind..and it was a pristine lighthouse for some one who felt lost in the hostel for some reason or the other only to be bolstered and emboldened by some idea or machination he receives from some quarter during a discussion with fellow friends or acquaintances over a cup of trea and the passing clouds of cigarette smoke. It invigorates, it propels..spells hope and inspiration all in one go and the one who felt forlorn not so long ago is enthused with a fresh bout of  optimism towards a propitious ending. MC was a solace for every one ..a high ground..a think tank..a master mind and a inanimate friend in need with the power to fill life in any loosing hope. Our MC is an edifice worth being worshipped for the lethal education one receives from various sources both the well meaning and deceitful alike and I am sure there is no college anywhere in the world that houses a canteen which is much more to a student than just a place to sip a cup of tea or coffee at leisure. Education of a special kind happens here and it resembles in its height a lucullan party thrown by some Roman King resounding victory.

What does the MC look on a typical day. The time is around 8:00 PM and many have descended into its frontiers and in every nook and corner there are animated discussions of some kind ..and the discussins to some bystander are in a composite of the various languages of the country..Hindi ..Bengali..Assamese…name it and it is represented in our parliament and suddenly there is burst of laughter from some corner sending vociferous vibrations into the vicinity to be experienced to be believed and the euphoria it so created lasting for some time and the whole cycle being repeated time and again from various corners all through the hour. What a place..What a composition of people..What a discussion ranging from philosophy to politics to the most mundane…what a setting and what an involvement.

For more than a year I lived in the D hostel overlooking this magnificence and was entreated countless times into having a cup of tea by many  and every single moment spent was educative and inspiring.

I hope the MC in the new location few yards yonder is a  replica in every sense of its ancestor  with the din. the laughter. the discussions… the parleys. the character and provides the same solace and concern for that weird student who suddenly lands up at its door for some reason of his own only to return with hope and favor as this relic if one would call has always done.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My visit to Cochin Naval Base

In 1984 there was a campus interview conducted by the Indian navy at REC NIT Calicut.. I remember Captain Murthy and another officer landed up at the institute and were conducting interviews for the "Campus Entry Scheme" where the selected students would be provided maintenance allowance and tuition fee for the rest of the course at REC and many were interested. The scheme was simple and novel as the other impediment was the Medical test. I cleared the interview and so did many and the next stage was the medical test at the Cochin Naval Base..and many of us set out on the appointed day to Cochin..and I teamed up with Rajeev and both of us took the evening train to reach cochin the next morning  and reaching the Naval Base soon after. I think we did book a room for the day in Cochin. We were promised accommodation at the Naval base for the rest of our stay at Cochin.

I remember moving from office to office at the Naval base trying to fix up accommodation which we got only at some 3:00 pm owing to some mis -communication of an Administrative kind. I suggested since no rooms were available some large hall be enlisted to accommodate us..then the question arose about the bedding and some one suggested that some beds from the hospital could be trans located and so was it done. We were ushered into a large room and the beds laid out evenly around the room on the floor and we were relieved that something took shape at last..though not very comfortable but at least fit the bill.

I understood that the Cochin Naval Base had three quarters or sections or divisions as one might call it namely  INS Sanjeevini the medical arm..INS Vendruthy...and INS Garuda. Two events happened during this stay a visit to the Cochin Airport of that time and we saw an Airplane take off from very close range and in the evening we all saw a movie at the Naval Base theater..the South Indian remake of the Hindi  film Dostana. Next few days were spent at  INS Sanjeevini with the medical tests going from department to department.

I had passed at the fundamental level all the tests but the Surgeon through oversight did not notice the  condition of my right thumb which was syndactyle and he declared me surgically fit..but this was noticed by the medical specialist who took a relook at the surgical report and sighed how I was declared Surgically fit and raised a note and I was led back to the Surgical department and note hat the concerned surgeon was busy with a surgery and he came out running from the surgery and re-examined my hand only to once and for all seal my hopes of joining the Navy..declaring me Surgically unfit and that was it. I felt very disappointed for many days ..and almost the entire set of people who had accompanied me to the base were selected . I remember the names of some support staff who helped us through this process namely Kashmir Singh and another person called Mohan Lal.

For some time I thought of appealing to the ministry then felt it futile to embark upon such a venture. The Naval base left me impressed..the vast expanse..the large scale resources and facilities..the food in the mess and above all smartly dressed men and women in white uniform all left a striking impression on my psyche and this experience was a first hand opportunity to be part of an establishment though for a few days partaking in what it would mean to be in the Indian Navy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Rolls Royce Phantom

The Rolls Royce Phantom one of the finest precision built cars in its league. I wonder why the city of Bangalore does not have a  proportionate share of these cars .

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Professional Sales Management

Determining the number of Sales men required in a territory

1. Classify accounts into  Major ; Medium and Minor. Major accounts need more time and effort and are large volume and high margin accounts. Medium might be smaller organizations and minor accounts might me single individual or small group customers.

Assume in a territory there are 200 major accounts ; 450 medium accounts and  1000 minor accounts

2. Determine the amount of time needed per month to handle these accounts. Say a major account would need 04 hours..a medium account 02 hours and minor account 01 hour.

total work effort needed per year

200 x 04 x 12 =   9600 hours

450 x 02 x 12 =  10800 hours

1000 x 01 x 12 = 12000 hours

total effort needed to cover the market  =  32,400 hours...............................................( A )

3.Assume a sales mans effective work being 06 hours per day and in a year making allowance for two months towards leisure leave and vacations and also considering a five day week ; total effort of a sales man

(06 hours per day)  x (05 days a week x 4 weeks per month) x (10 weeks per year)=1200 hours..(B)

4. Total sales men required   (A)  divided by  (B)  =  27  sales men

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Infosys Story

The story of Bangalore of our times is incomplete without some discussion about Infosys a stand alone IT company that grew fast into a bellwether creating earnings in an unprecedented way and proving beyond doubt how few educated individuals who think differently can create large scale impact of the kinds never seen before. I attribute three factors to tyhe unparalleled growth of the growth of the internet which made international communications and data transfer cheaper and handy...two the y2k problem that put the world on tenterhooks creating excitement in the IT sector in general with some king of an euphoria experienced by the young and the old alike..and the  decision of Infosys to make Bangalore its base where there is a large pool of young knowledge and technological thinkers precocious in their outlook and being offsprings of  employees of various undertakings around the city have a scientific and progressive outlook. Bangalore is the crucible out of which Infosys  grew , sustained and thrived.

What makes Infosys special and me it is the composition of its founders who very conspicuously lacked any background in business at a fundamental level and did not have any links what so ever with formidable business names..they were ordinary people who combined themselves both at a personal and professional level to keep things going who conciously or unconciously took advantage of the situation unfolding around the world. Simply said the owner of Wipro comes from a business does TCS..but the founders of Infosys had no such leanings is what make Infosys and the spirit of it special to me.

I happenned to have a chat with Mr. Narayana Murthy  some time in 2006 and the discussion went into various aspects of the software world and I found in him a reticent thinker of the world at large and areas of human affairs in particular. All the founders had one thing in common..Education of an high order and by far and for sure and without any doubt are the first generation of Indians who had the wherewithal and the courage to think beyond the frontiers of the country and beneficiaries of the Nehruvian Economic policies and thought. When we say Nehru please add Krishna Menon to it.

I am not able to pin-point with precision what put Infosys on the path to its large scale success. When I used to work for BPL in the 1990's in the transformer factory at Koramangala I have faint recollection of having seen an Infosys office on one of the main roads of Koramangala and note that during this time most of Koramangala was owned by BPL ..BPL had its major press shop, pcb assembly, two transformer factories, a service center and not to mention a speaker assembly plant few kilometers down on the main road. As far as Iam concerned no matter what the legal description of Infosys would be today it is a family company which means it is byproduct of not just the individuals behind this venture but also their families who gave support to their men who were treading an unaccustomed path not taken by many largely accompanied by uncertainty which could lead to glory or ignominy and I endorse the families of these individuals who stood the test of time as their men waded through uncertain times and finally landed into glory. It is difficult to start and endure a company which these men and their families did to the best of their composure and abilities with possibly very little governmental support at the onset.

Infosys has come a long way. I had a moment of pride of my own when travelling to Mysore by a deluxe bus an found a foreigner sitting next to me and I asked him what he did. He said he was an American named Scot and he worked at Infosys. Somewhere I felt India has arrived with the potential to influence the economic well being and partake in the larger well being of the world at large.

Now Infosys seems to be at some kind of cross-roads many of its founders themselves leaving the organization to which they were passionately attached and the kind of demands on them changing with time and circumstances. Problems of Corporate Governance and competition set in and add to that attempts of many other global economies trying to duplicate in the short term and medium term what Infosys did and possible hostile approach to such ventures from the markets itself..all these must be forcing Infosys to reposition itself through difficult times but I believe if your basic orientation as an institution is right it would tide over difficult times. Basic orientation means an adherence to values followed by people policies and fiscal discipline. I believe an organization of the kind of Infosys at this juncture must not suffer from Strategy paralysis of some kind ..more than what it does on the ground the organization has to carefully not steer itself but upgrade itself through a series of steps into a more enlightened and well positioned global enterprise. It possibly needs to add more verticals and even get into uncharted areas and reinvent itself all over again keeping what it has gained hitherto intact.

I observe sometimes the biggest challenges of enterprises is to transit smoothly from one level of success to another level of maturity and in both these regimes the need is sometimes for a different kind of people and outlooks. My father buys a car and my brother say drives it very and safe  and before long maintenance problems set in redefining the very way the car gets driven henceforth and at the same time periodic maintenance and prediction of problems becoming dominant. See an add on skill emerging..the skill of upkeep. Some where this analogy can be extended into organizations. The car cannot be sold off as it is a source of income the flag ship must be maintained and put to appropriate use as new vehicles are purchased and it would be a folly of a serious kind if the flag ship is hived away in some act of desperation. New ventures have to be built around the old. All institutions face this crisis.

Infosys had its first level of crisis during an earlier slow down where people were benched , I dont know exactly how long ago but somewhere during the Iraq war during the closing years of the president-ship of George W Bush Jr.. and was a challenge of sorts effectively countered and considering the organization was cash rich tided over these circumstances. Presently sluggish markets and a general constrained world economy hell bent on tightening their economic belts who have regimented corporate activities seems to be the bane add to that the growth of many other new developers of software and also the possibility of repetitive maintenance orders falling away from the hands of Infosys could be creating problems. Organizations have a crucial problem according to me---to think new ventures well in advance when the current venture is progressing well..always there are many What-Ifs? that must be constantly asked when the going is good or very good and in answers to such questions ly solutions for the future.

Was there some thing erroneous about the business strategies of Infosys the closest one can get to answer this question is to study TCS vis-a-vis Infosys. Infosys in my view neglected the domestic software market. I dont see one software in the domestic market that can be attributed to Infosys..a airline reservation software or an ERP for some sector for that matter. TCS is the largest software developer of this country and TCS must be focusing on domestic software market as much as non-domestic. A large scale software developer like Infosys could also contribute to the software development activities arising from well within the domestic market leveraging on its existing experience.

Infosys must develop and also operate at various rims around the world hither-to unvisited..not with rapacity or vigorous sales skill but in a long term approach to handle small development work leading to larger orders both from corporate sectors and governmental sectors. This could happen in China, Russia, Mongolia all neighboring markets for India. There is a huge language barrier that hampers operating in these economies but almost instantly there would be some avenues for getting a foothold. Buy a small software company in China or partner with them to develop softwares in Chinese language for China. Travel times to these countries is so less compared with farther pockets of Europe or USA. Whenever a business institution looks at profits as against other parameters they are more than likely to get into a jinx some time down the line sometimes difficult to diagonize ..the problem seeming somewhere in the way the earlier journey was taken being very precise and focused and not possibly  viewing other factors that might have needed a re-look or added attention.

Who can solve the problems of Infosys if any? It is the founders themselves with the aid of committed professional people from outside who have a varied range of experience occupying positions on the board to the first line developer and testers. New domains are emerging in the software development sector in my view as the process of the way in which software is developed and tested continues to be the same. Infosys of today needs  upfront and at a very basic level remodel itself or model itself in the lines of  one or few other development or business houses apt with the times from which it can replicate strategy and put to use to reinvent itself. It must combine a short term tactical approach with a long term strategic one. Mr K V Kamath might be of succour towards this end as he can bring to the fore what he did at ICICI to the overall wisdom of Infosys.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I S E C Institute for Social and Economic Change

There is an institute in this  city adjacent to a largely residential locality that has large stone buildings resembling an IIM and possibly doing path breaking work in the domain of Social Sciences and the existence of such an institute is unknown to many ,the public and intelligentsia alike.

I chanced upon to identify this institute one day during my visit to Nagarbhavi and had a stroll through its buildings and lawns. This institute owes its existence to Mr. Rao amd Mrs Indira Gandhi and what strikes me the most is that Mrs Gandhi gave her consent to the formation of such an institute with such a nomenclature the kind of which may not exist in many parts of the world because it personifies upfront "social and economic change" and was it a good venture - I think very much so- any society always needs platforms where from various issues can be discussed first and acted upon later. The lacuna somewhere is in the action and institutes like this must ensure that deliberations are followed with action.

I think this institute has ideal moorings to become the  LSE  London School of Economics of Bangalore and India . I don't know if this institute runs a two year masters course which it should do in right earnest the earlier the better focusing largely on social and economic issues of this country and the world . The focus must not be to create few people who would be driven to find placements but a bunch of people who can do something on the social and economic front  and the contents of the course largely delinked from the rigors of just studying for exam work but exams also asking students to portray original ideas in these crucial areas. Such an approach will go a long way in achieving the objectives around which an institute of this kind stands.

For those of you who would like to visit this institute take a bus to Nagarbhavi and this place is just walking distance.