FringeNotes by Shailesh Vickram Singh is a commentary on Indian society, economics, poverty, Pollution & environment, Venture Capital I occasionally take a deep dive in some of these hot and complex issues and present you antithesis to the popular opinion. I intend to publish one or two articles every fortnight or month. Get this antithesis dote by subscribing to my newsletter

Latest Posts

India, the curse of its elites & need for administrative reforms

Why does India with high growth not look like a fancy, rosy picture of a prosperous civilisation and rather an ugly picture of poorly designed houses, equally messy roads and chaotic hospitals? As Covid19 ravaged India during the second wave, messages asking for Oxygen cylinders, hospitals beds /ICUs and life-saving medicines started pouring on social media. Almost every one of these messages was tagged to either PM or CM of that state. Rarely anyone tagged the request to a local councillor / DM or district health officer. When it comes to governance, Indian seems to be quite innocent. They think

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इतिहास गान

बहुत हुआ इतिहास गान, अब तो करो कुछ कार्य संधान कब तक यू गाते रहोगे, अपने को भरमाते रहोगे ये तो इतिहास है इतिहास ही रहेंगे  मगर हम आने वाली पीढ़ी को क्या जवाब देंगे written in class 8th, rediscovered in old diaries

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Rules

A rule achieves the exact opposite of what it is supposed to achieve !!!

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Chakravyhuh

It is easy to get in a Chakravhyu than to get out. Hence before getting into a war formation, one need to know as when to get out or in other worlds – do not start a war when you don’t know how to finish it. War declared at 500 War extended at 15000 at what not, one will withdraw from war? 30,000 50,000 100 it will continue

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Mercenary as a leader

When a nation has “no skin in the game” policy makers whose reward, long term career and personal life are not aligned with India, these mercenary policy makers will run at drop of a hat.  No nation has attained prosperity and long term leadership by having mercenaries at top leadership positions.

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Covid19 Curve : Don’t Crush it, just Ride it!

First wave of policy decisions globally were driven by “flatten the curve” crowd and “extreme infection/death model” makers. However as the time passed, neither the curve flattened nor extreme infection deaths happened on predicted timelines (NewYork Officials had estimated that 140,000 hospital beds might be needed to treat coronavirus patients by 11th April 2020 but in reality only 18500 were in use as on 11th April 2020 (almost 86% lower) as per news in NewYork Times). But has these deterred the new age evangelists ie the internet age gurus (VCs / entrepreneurs), journalist modellers and statistical porn champs! well they

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The Great Indian Tamasha

Imagine for a moment that you just got lucky. You have won some contest to own/manage a house. This house is not yours forever but you get to enjoy it with all perks as long as you remain its owner. However, ownership comes with a term limit of 5 years and need to be renewed every five years, if people in the house are happy with your conduct. So overall great. However, like with all good things, there is as usual a catch. The original owners who drafted the will, were not so fond or certain of future owners.  Hence

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Covid19 & Economy

While there is much noise and lot of mathematical modelling on spread and damage by Covid19, there is hardly any crystal gazing when it comes to general economy. The way things are, I think both side will turn up wrong big time. In India, damage by Covid19 will be contained and won’t spread much as one can see that Indian numbers are trending 100x lower than USA despite having almost same initial points. However damage to economy will be 10x more deeper and shall be there for at least 18 months. I expect NIFTY to touch 5k when next wave

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Covid19 & Laws of Mathematics / limitations of modelling

What if Naseem Taleb and all experts of gloom & doom turn out to Malthus of our time? While Taleb is a super genius guy, but he is extremely wired towards black swans or extreme events. The important thing to remember about models is that in the ned they are mere mathematical models only. On Maths, remember what Einstein said“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” Hence while it is good to have black swan people by your side but

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Income Inequality

Income inequality is caused by low food prices and high real estate costs. Paradoxically, this anomaly of keeping food inflation low is supported by economists and enforced by state. 

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India – The whataboutery nation

It is an age of whataboutery! Almost every week, some trend start on Internet about violence on muslims. Then there are equal story about violence netted out on Hindus. Curiously very few netizens (twitter handles) are outraged on both and one can see the separation or whataboutery. There are endless stories of justice rather lack of it for hapless victims. Stories continues, narratives keep on changing.  However the key thing which both side ie “this is not my india” vs “see how others are killing us”, forget that It is the Indian state which is oblivious to the ordinary. Indian state

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Indian Economy 2019 Crisis : The Crisis of Consumption

Indian Economic Crisis 2019 With GDP hitting 5%, there is mushrooming of experts with views as why economy has slowed down. Interestingly majority of them agree on one point thats is demonetisation and GST are the root cause of this crisis. Nothing can be father from truth and here here is counter point. If it was not for demonetisation, economic crisis would have hit us 2 years back. Demonetisation created a push of almost $11 bn to rural households (through money laundering) and kept rural consumption high – ex Escorts posted 5x profit growth / Britannia saw 23% revenue growth in

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Entrepreneur Diary

यह हार एक विराम हैजीवन महासंग्राम हैतिल-तिल मिटूँगा पर दया की भीख मैं लूँगा नहींवरदान माँगूँगा नहीं स्मृति सुखद प्रहरों के लिएअपने खंडहरों के लिएयह जान लो मैं विश्व की संपत्ति चाहूँगा नहींवरदान माँगूँगा नहीं क्या हार में क्या जीत मेंकिंचित नहीं भयभीत मैंसंधर्ष पथ पर जो मिले यह भी सही वह भी सहीवरदान माँगूँगा नहीं लघुता न अब मेरी छुओतुम हो महान बने रहोअपने हृदय की वेदना मैं व्यर्थ त्यागूँगा नहींवरदान माँगूँगा नहीं चाहे हृदय को ताप दोचाहे मुझे अभिशाप दोकुछ भी करो कर्तव्य पथ से किंतु भागूँगा नहींवरदान माँगूँगा नहीं श्री शिव मंगल सिंह सुमन

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Liquidity and Businesses

Liquidity is like blood, sudden loss of it can kill an otherwise healthy company/body Companies die due to liquidity issues not because of business model issues. Indian economy is having severe liquidity crunch & like body – a prolonged loss of blood leaves permanent scar

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PSUs and theory of Trust

A nation which doesn’t trust its people, will have its own enterprise while a nation which believes in its people will invest in them. That is the fundamental difference between India vs US or China. Indian Govt created PSUs, funded them and crowded out private capital and innovation while US dept of defence helped launched multiple defence behemoths and even today are key driver behind the success of likes of Space X etc ..

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Equity & Debt

Equity is forgiving and ignore all sins / exuberance while creating reward for all parties but debt like truth is stark, doesn’t allow even marginal error and generally destroy all, its rewarding only to disciplined souls or one backed by again unlimited equity. Flirtation with debt has rarely ended well be it individuals, corporates or nations. Debt which ideally shall only be for creating capital assets or meeting capital expenditure, always end up funding consumption or revenue expenditure, and hence doesn’t end well. Debt require discipline which by design Nation, corporates rarely have as the cost is generally not paid

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India, The land of experts and committees

Indians love committees.  And more so Governments and politicians. Whatever the situations or crisis, a group of people at many level are huddled together to solve this. And a committee is the perfect solution. A set of experts who seems to know finer nuances debate together and bring out a best solution after doing a good “brain storming.” Seems like that committees are most beautiful product of democracies and there are committees of all type with all fancy names and titles  There is High empowered group of ministers committees, there is committee of secretaries, there is committee of experts, there

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The night that stayed

Long back ago on a starry night, I met a thief,  He had an attitude And yes lot of stories Interesting ones, funny ones, But then as it turned out all were fake while i was mentoring him,  he was stealing on my name And now he is offended, As not believing something which was once believed  Is also a violation of faith Change of pattern And thief feels betrayed that no longer I hear his stories and the night is refusing to end Oh I met a thief and he got an attitude

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Capital & Labour

There is capital and there is labor. Both fight for primacy of each other  And where Capital is expensive, labor becomes cheap, and where capital is cheap, labor besoms expensive and gain dignity  Incidentally nations leaning on Socialism, keep capital expensive and labor cheap  And hard core capitalistic societies keep capital cheap and see labor becoming expensive and gaining dignity Paradox of Ideologies

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War & Peace and personal positions in the time of Social Media

You are either a Warmongers or Peaceniks – unfortunately both positions are wrong

India is run by an experienced professional setup so leave their job on them and focus on yours. Support nation and keep opinions low

Still if you have strong views, do something which costs

Ideologies always cost, and if your opinions don’t cost, you are an opportunist not an ideologue.

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Tale of Interest rate, debt and Equity : Three Countries

1. The country used high-interest rates to lure international capital (debt). High capital created growth which created high inflation. High inflation devalued currency thus making debt expensive. This led to a balance of payment crisis which in turn killed the economy. Turkey

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India Digital summit 2019

The flagship annual event of IAMAI is the India Digital Summit. Since its inception in 2006, it has been the most prominent digital event in the country.

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My Soul has a Hat

I counted my years
& realized that I have
Less time to live by,
Than I have lived so far.
I feel like a child who won a pack of candies: at first he ate them with pleasure
But when he realized that there was little left, he began to taste them intensely.
I have no time for endless meetings

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Dawn of digtial: The end of Nation State, advent of Corporate State Part I – Mind

One fine morning In India, millions of Android phone users (Google Mobile operating system), discovered a strange phone number in their address book which they have never entered. It was the number of UIDAI helpline, and all hell broke loose (UIDAI is managing Aadhar – a Govt run a biometric program to create a unique identification system for all Indian citizens). Pretty soon, it started trending on Twitter with allegations flying thick and high. Privacy activists who are already highly suspicious of Narendra Modi Govt went on a super allegation spree. Is it Ministry of Electronics or Ministry of Communication

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Of RBI, Real Estate, SME Rate Cuts, and case of Missing economic Recovery

As per the latest report by RBI, housing inflation is moderating, or to speak in normal English, housing prices grew by 5.2% in Jan to March period of 2016 while they grew by 9.8% in October to Dec 2015 quarter. Growth of 5% to 9% in a sector, which is considered to be dead and needs a push by Govt in terms of lower home loan interest rates!!! A similar increase in food prices would have turned media crazy by now with big headlines and debates on prime time. However, an inflation of 9% in a dead sector didn’t even

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Rate Cut, Inflation and the Curious Case of CPI Index

Dr Raghuram Rajan finally chose not to renew his term with RBI. The news of his departure has re-ignited the debate on interest rates, inflation and overall growth. Though the regime of Dr Rajan did see a reduction of 1.5% in the interest rates over last three years, but his grim outlook on the overall growth and inflation made banks keep the interest rates high. From the time Dr Rajan took over, the inflation rate indeed came down from double digits to below 5%, though it is debatable if the drop in inflation was due to monetary policy or due

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The Entrepreneur

मैंने उसको जब-जब देखा लोहा देखा लोहे जैसा तपते देखा गलते देखा ढलते देखा मैंने उसको गोली जैसा चलते देखा ~ केदारनाथ अग्रवाल

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Epilogue: Massive Earth Summit 2018

Summits are generally yada yada affairs with an opportunity to escape the routine and meet fellow industry people. There are always more people outside chatting away than inside. On top of it, being the first event, the huge challenge of having delegates/speakers etc.  The event management company advised subtly to have cocktail and dinner so as to hold guest till then and oh yes do not have more than 7 sessions in a day, with a lot of large panels so as to handle last-minute dropouts-was the parting friendly advice. Off-course with conferences happening every second day, one needs a

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Why Flipkart-Walmart and Tata-Bhusan deal will put India on the path of 10%+ GDP growth

There have been numerous presentations, articles, columns since the late 90s about India’s potential and how India can be a super economy in time to come. With the rise and rise of neighbor China in the last 10 odd years to unimaginable levels, this dream has not only bigger but also look so close and achievable. Unfortunately, despite getting billions of Dollars as FDI in the Indian economy, we are yet to see a China level growth. In the world of a friendly Institutional investor – “the Indian story has remained a story so far”. However, while all experts/economies have

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वर्गभेद और मानव समता

जहाँ वर्ग भेद की ज्वाला है, जहाँ मानव भेद की हाला है, जहाँ अपराध भी बाटा जाता है A, B, C के भागो में, जहाँ मानव भी आँका जाता है, वेतन के प्रतिमानो में, क्या वहाँ भी मानव समता का उजाला है । written in 1984, discovered in an old diary

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Massive Earth Summit 2018

Announcing Massive Earth Summit 2018: Cultivating Pollution as a resource mindsetBlock your dates – 6th June, New DelhiRegister at https://www.massivesummit.org

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Farmers poor income: Who is responsible- RBI/Gov/Middle-men? Fallacies or Puzzles?

Farmers as usual for last 70 years, are in limelight and slogans have changed (Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan to Double income mandate), but focus and condition have not! So why Indian farmers are poor? Middlemen / Small land holdings / Lack of storage facilities,  Poor productivity – all of this combined or none of the above? The issue is why despite so much focus and attention, farmers condition keep on getting from bad to worse? So some puzzles on RBI / Govt role Puzzle 1: Inflation targeting & poverty of farmers 1. The policy of Govt / RBI is to

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Goodbye (regular) Venture Capital, Hello Massive!

I have spent almost two decades in Startups / Investments and believe strongly that venture capital is probably the best option as a career. And no it is not the glamour or the usual challenges and interaction with new teams, new ideas day in day out and being in changing landscape every day/month/quarter but the real fun is in the ability to impact the world in a meaningful way. Despite all the criticism of VC world – about loss-making business models, utopian ideas and the inability of many funds to outperform many indices or even return capital, the fact remains

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Why can’t India fix its air or clean Cities!

1. Delhi Air is bad. well not bad, it is at Gas chamber level. 2. Long exposure can kill and present level of pollution is three times more than code red levels. 3. So you expect whole population to be running out of city in order to save their life!! 4. Well, NO, a few are tweeting about it while rest are like goats in slaughterhouse. Calmly waiting for the turn. 5. Little bit annoyance but otherwise business as usual while choking on Air! 6. So who is at fault – AAP (Govt)? BJP (LG/MCD)? Congress (Opposition)? NGT (law enforcer)

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Startup Exits: An Investor’s Perspective

Startups Exit is one of the paramount issues in the VC community in India and also at the same time often overlooked or misunderstood by many. The fact of the matter is that the scale/exit strategy determines the type of investor. My presentation was given at HeadStart Foundation at Delhi Exit for Startups: An investor perspective from Shailesh Vickram Singh

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Swachh Bharat, Delhi Air Pollution, Why Govt fails big time?

It is again that time of the year in Delhi. Monsoon is over, Winter (thanks to changing climate) is yet to come, but the air is slightly cold and foggy. Noise related to pollution has again started to appear on social media timelines – Posts on Paddy stub burning, trucks coming, open construction etc. But the fact of the matter is that the winter of 2017 is going to be as much polluted if not less than the winter of 2016 which was as bad as that of 2015. Before the hidden politician amongst us jumps and starts looking at

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Job less Growth & Booming Share markets

Are businessmen turning investors? No longer mid-size /SME entrepreneurs investing in their own growth/plant expansion etc. However same capital is finding its way to investments in – Mutual Fund, Share markets, Real estate and a tiny bit in startups!! as the rate of turn and paperwork in own business is lower than returns from investments. This sums up all mystery of jobless growth in a booming share market.

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धर्म ऐवम कर्म

धर्म “जो धारण किया जय, वो धर्म होता है। एक कर्म प्रधान व्यक्ति के लिए, कर्म ही उसका धर्म होता है अंतह कर्म ही धर्म है |”

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Tale of GST and why it has to be complex

IF GST becomes simple i.e. no multiple rates, no rates within the industry, it will lead to simplification of business. Ease of business will jump, business will boom as the cost of doing business will drop drastically, which will lead to lower costs and higher consumption. Given India’s massive population and interlinked economy, this will put India on another path of growth as the economy will boom, profits will soar, jobs will get created. But this has a huge downside. Simplified tax/GST laws will almost eliminate corruption. No longer there will disputes as all will be taxed at uniform rates.

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Why USA (Trump) Leaving Paris Climate accord is good news for Environment

There is a sense of betrayal and shock among the Global community. President Trump true to expectations has pushed earth to the brink of doom by pulling out from the Paris climate accord. Frustration and disappointment are understandable. Last time when we faced last big challenge to the environment i.e Ozone layer depletion in the late 80s and early 90s, it was collective action by Governments in banning CFCs, which stopped further damage to the Ozone layer. And good news it did stop damage to the Ozone layer. So yes Ozone layer was saved, but was that really last big

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Of Politicians, Bureaucrats and 52 ministerial knots in Ease of doing Business in India

“Ease of doing business In India” seems to be stuck despite being the focus of present NDA Govt. PM Modi, determined to bring India in top 50 places to do business, has directed ministers/bureaucrats to reduce procedures/paperwork so as to improve “Ease of Doing Business” ranking of India.  However, despite all the push for last 2/3 years, India has merely limped to the rank of 130 from earlier 131( just 1 point) as per Ease of Business report released by World Bank. One wonders why has Govt not been able to solve this not so complex puzzle, despite present dynamic

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Startup wish list for Budget 2017: Leave us Alone!

Another Budget by NDA govt is in the offing and air is again thick with expectations. Like all years, every industry group is busy preparing wish list which generally boils down to a single point agenda of reducing tax rates and talk of level playing field and how this single reform i.e. tax rate cut will catapult their industry to leading position in the world, generate so many jobs, add so many basis points to the GDP etc etc. At the same time, mandarins at North and south block, silently whisper in the ear of finance ministry about worsening position

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The Indian Sahibs

1/ IndianSahibs: A senior bureaucrat is checking at the airport but hold, it’s not him but his protocol officer and a CISF guard, who is checking for him. 2/ IndianSahibs: Custom official has stopped so sahib consort is threatening and name dropping on protocol. There people are busy on full tax payer salary. Incidentally, that means Airlines issued boarding pass without seeing the person – a big security hazard. Now why custom official – It is Indian airlines departure from the international side so the customs guy needs to stamp. 3/ An official abusing powers/ utilizing free man powerfully paid

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Demonetization: recession at gate or GDP at 9%

Update 1: 12 Dec 2015 : 1. 34 days have passed since the announcement by PM Modi and as expected almost all of 14 lakh cr is going to be deposited in line with my prediction. India is a jugged country and people always figure out a way to beat system due to our long history of surviving in a hostile system. 2. I still stand by positive contribution to GDP but all assumptions were based on the idea that the situation will normalize in 10-15 days. As of now, it is not looking to normalize even in the next

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Diwali Crackers, Pollution and convenient transfer of Guilt

1. Crackers are bad as they cause pollution. The already rotten air of Delhi will be beyond repair if our obsession with bursting crackers continues! 2. While on its own, the idea of not bursting crackers is good but in totality, it is one of the worst ideas to propagate, it lulls everyone to ignore all other major causes of pollution and focus on a non-issue which is bursting of crackers. 3. Delhi air is super bad and reasons are many and cover everyone – from neighbor states, to trucks to some people burning stuff or some festivals and yes

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Sometimes

Sometimes five minutes take a year to fill, sometimes a year passes by in five minutes, Some time it happens this way, sometimes another way around! but life goes on, dreams go on … I crack a bit in bytes sometimes and then again gather me and move on Sometimes I fight back only to realize the lost cause and when I retreat, I again believe the cause the causes and faith, represent one or another the interest of individual or group, sometimes individuals win, sometimes it is a group but whose win was more important or was it just

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GST and Economic Boost

GST Bill, despite all claims and hopes, is going to be the biggest damp squib in recent times. It will create chaos, confusion, tax terrorism, and mar the next 2 years of Narendra Modi Govt. Whatever said and done, Indian mandarins are not mentally ready to let the habit of fleecing businesses go, and are least bothered about the cause of businesses or general welfare other than their own benefits. If one is that naive to believe that by just one stroke of law, all Indian officials will become honest and business will function smoothly, then they are living in

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GST and the end of hope

“Road to hell is paved with good intentions.” GST – good and service tax, summed as India’s biggest tax reform in the last many years, is finally here. GST empowered committee in one of their last meeting, finalized rates on pending items with Gold getting taxed at a new rate of 3%. The empowered committee other than creating an additional layer of tax also proposed to impose levy/cess etc beyond specified 5 slabs of taxes. Multiple tax rates, levy, cess, additional taxes!! It seems that somewhere the present Govt just lost the plot and caved into interested parties by enacting

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Raghuram Rajan Controversy: Why Subramanian Swamy HAS a Point

There is a sense of anger among Indian intellectual class, stunned by the demand made by Dr. Subramanian Swamy for the sacking of Dr. Raghuram Rajan – the most respected, ever charming, hottest RBI Governor India has ever had. From Shobha De to newspaper editors to the average Joe, Dr. Raghuram Rajan commands a following rivaling that of Salman Khan. Not only analysts, commentators and financial daily editors have come out in support of Dr. Rajan, but the even common public also seems to be completely unanimous in their support of Dr. Rajan and all the good work he has

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JNU, Rohtak and Crisis of Democracy

India is in rage these days and seems very united against the threats to its unity. Countless messages related to teaching lessons to anyone who dares to attack or break India are getting posted and shared on social media. Yes – as a Nation, we are ready to crush any voice, which attacks the integrity of India. However, this steel-like resolve faced its first encounter with reality and chose to look away when Haryana violence, not very far from JNU, happened and failed to shake anybody except the people who were at the receiving end. A section from Jat community

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Politics of pollution!

Air is thick in Delhi, literally and figuratively. The winter fog laden with smoke, heavy particulates and dust has not left any scope to think otherwise. Newspapers/ social media and activists are filled with smog and rage. Yes, Delhi air is literally thick. Not to be left behind in such moments of crisis, Arvind Kejriwal Govt, like any other responsive govt, has initiated actions which as usual have muddied the waters more than to clear it and we are in the thick of actions figuratively. Truth is, Delhi is dying and dying fast. Pollution levels are 6 to 8 times

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Theory of Asset Bubbles: Its all about Color of Money! – Part III

Fidelity has marked down value of its investment in snapchat by 25% and there are some other markdowns reported by investors as part of annual/quarterly accounting procedure and it has sent a wave of glee all across globe among all startup watchers/experts and commentators as markdown by Fidelity is sure sign confirmation about the bursting of private tech bubble and like 2001, we will soon be witnessing dead unicorns all around us. However, nothing can be farther than the truth. The one thing the experts are missing while thinking of 2001, is the fundamental shift happening in the world economy

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Startup Bubble: Case of misplaced Schadenfreude – Part II

The great Startup bubble has burst finally or so the Experts would like us to believe as the evidence (as per them) is mounting day by day. Around 1500+ employees at various startups in India have been laid off. One of the Founders was held hostage in Pune and the worst of all, the biggest proof, a certain CEO had to send a strong email to his sales team on missing their quarterly sales target. No, it’s not any ordinary sales target, it was QUARTERLY SALES TARGET. Generally, in other sectors, companies fold up when they miss their targets, but

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Anatomy of coming Startup bubble: The missing argument – Part I

From Bay Area to Bangalore, if there is one word which is stirring the fancy of the masses in general and analysts in particular, “Startup Bubble” seems to be that word! It doesn’t matter if you are in the crowd or away from the crowd, the bubble is bound to get into your radar, be it at a conference, twitter feed, newspaper columns or random article forwards. At one end of the spectrum, there are the believers, led by big bulge VCs riding their unicorns, chanting data and waving neatly presented big graphs showing mobile phones’ sales growth, internet data

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Liquidity Preference 101 : All you want to know about Liquidity preference in venture Capital world

Liquidity Preference is one of the few terms in a VC term sheet (other than drag along/vesting and management rights) that really evoke strong reactions from either side. While Majority (or rather 100% ) of VCs swear by it and won’t sign a term sheet without it, entrepreneurs see it as another “Shylock” term inserted by very, very bad VCs to suck blood from poor innocent entrepreneurs. We see numerous posts/blogs by entrepreneurs (funded/wannabes) denouncing “Liquidity preference” and terming it as a draconian term. So what is “Liquidity Preference”? Liquidity preference is a macroeconomic term, that was first described by

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E-Commerce Bubble vs Modern Retail ~ The perspective fallacy

1/6 Future Retail raised close to 6000 Cr ($1.5 bn) to build a business with a top line of $2.5 bn with marginal profit/loss #StartupBubble 2/6 @Flipkart has raised $3.5 bn to build a business with a top line of $ 3bn in its 6th-year #StartupBubble 3/6 In the time of crisis, between Flipkart and Future Retail, who will be able to cut their costs drastically? #StartupBubble 4/6 Which brand is touching more consumers and reaching remote parts of India? #StartupBubble 5/6 So despite all gyan by Bizz Gurus and all maths, e-commerce is for real and nowhere near bubble

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Startup Bubble / Debt Crisis

1. If 2001 dot-com bubble was Type I (false positive) error for analysts/columnists etc, 2015 is going to be type II error (false negative) to all wise women/men. 2. About impending Startup bubble burst, there is unanimous certainty among newspapers, ex-CEOs, Missed the bus-VCs/ entrepreneurs !!! 3. However, as it always happens, Crisis won’t hit the Startup bubble but might come from a totally unexpected quarter. 4.  Debt overhang at Indian corporate is going to bite and bite it big time. Amtek Auto and Now Jindal Steel, debt rating crisis are here! 5. Debt contagion will spread and may start

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Union Budget 2015: Ordinary Ahoy!

First, let me give a disclaimer before I get into the nitty-gritty of budget analysis. Overall, this has been quite a good budget, and in normal routine times, it might have got 8.5/10 or so. But then these are extraordinary times with extraordinary ambitions, and so, we all need an extraordinary budget and not routine, as routine brilliance is nothing but mediocre in such times!!! There seems to be quite a euphoria related to the formation of MUDRA Bank as well as the allocation of INR 1,000 Cr to start-ups. But before we all start celebrating, we need to pause

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In the time of Euphoria

We are all at a wonderful ball where the champagne sparkles in every glass and soft laughter fall upon the summer air. We know, by the rules, that at some moment the Black Horsemen will come shattering through the great terrace doors, wreaking vengeance and scattering the survivors. Those who leave early are saved, but the ball is so splendid no one wants to leave while there is still time, so that everyone keeps asking, “What time is it? What time is it?” but none of the clocks have hands.                    

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Startup India, Standup India: The Missing Link

Euphoria is in the air. Startups – the poster boys of these times – have got another fan-base, i.e., the Government of India, cheering for them. Startup India, Standup India Action Plan announced on January 16th by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created another level of excitement among all stakeholders – be it venture funds, angel investors, incubators or startups. It is not the first time in the history of India, that the Govt has announced some major policy decision, but probably it is the first time that the Govt has gone ahead and engaged with a section of society,

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Age of Porn / Age of Kali

Traveller, foodie, and photographer!!! These powerful three words, or traits, probably capture the personality profile of 90% of millennials / “generation me” navigating the wild-wild-web on those social, or not-so-social, websites. These foodie travelers armed with cameras are in the pursuit of creating mind-boggling images every second. Some 800 billion photos were created and shared on social networks in the year 2014, and these numbers are quadrupling every quarter, and the world seems to be shifting to images as demonstrated by the fact that Instagram users (Instagram is social network built for sharing of images) far exceed users of Twitter, which is

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Drama @ Wagah Border

Nothing captures the essence of India like Wagah Border Post daily ceremony. The show, Chaos, Confusion, VIPs, VVIPs, honks, false rhetoric, and oh yes, the usual second-class Indian citizen, the native who runs from pillar to post to get passes and then some seat, and ends up being a native refugee with hardly any dignity. Hence, the ceremony at Wagah Border is a Dance of Democracy! Or is it a Drama of Democracy… God knows!!!

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Wish List for Budget: Unleash the Entrepreneurial Spirit

The maiden budget of Narendra Modi Govt. is about to be presented in coming days, and as usual, there is loud chatter and demand around raising tax limits, allowing greater tax exemptions, as well as various other tax sops demanded by industry bodies. It is not that these demands are made for the first time; but being Shri Modi’s first budget, the expectations are much higher than ever before. While the aim of a national budget is to present checks & balances of annual revenue along with expenditure and provide an overview of the overall economic health of the country,

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The Song of an Entrepreneur

Awesome poem by Milton Berle. Captures the mind of an entrepreneur – “I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.”

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Of Entrepreneurs, Artists and Signals from the WhatsApp Acquisition!!!

19 Billion, the price Facebook paid for WhatsApp acquisition!!! So while the whole world is still grappling with the price points, pattern seekers amongst us are trying to figure out the perfect template / the secret sauce. (Un)Fortunately, patterns are loud and clear ~ “Pure product obsession / total disregard for market shares, revenue or break-even.” Social media is already abuzz with news about the handwritten note by Brian Acton, Co-founder, to Jan Koum, CEO, about “No ads, No games, No gimmicks!” that has already acquired cult status in the community. The other company that displayed such a mad obsession

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2014 : Economic Crisis at the Gate

The year 2014 onwards, one is bound to see India facing its worst economic crisis, irrespective of the fact whether Mr. Modi becomes PM or not. Since it is the first time India will face an economic crisis without any luck or local stimulant as Manmohan Singh’s actions (or rather lack of them) have exhausted India of any option, and India is staring at serious crisis without any arrow in its quiver. With 6th Pay Commission stimulus tapering off and with the almost negligible capital formation for last few years, attempts of bringing back growth by having same old & tired

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We All are Hitler, We All are Buddha

We all are Hitler, we all are Buddha, It is not they are some other, It is just we, who vacillate between one and the other, Is it a moral choice to choose one, Or just inability to choose one? B’coz somewhere deep down there, We are still the one, with mistaken identities – We are all Buddha, we are all Hitler.                                                    ~ Written in 1999 at Mumbai 

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An Entrepreneur’s Diary… Thoughts on a Long Road to Building that Next Big Company!!!

Came across this piece by Diana Nyad who swam from Florida to Cuba (full 53 miles) at the young age of 64. I think nothing captures the struggle of an entrepreneur more beautifully than this note by her where she captured the ordeal of swimming for 15 hours. I think every entrepreneur will recognize this pattern where he struggles with short-term reality to achieve long-term dreams. “Imagine swimming continually for fifteen hours. Fifteen hours in rough, cold ocean water. Fifteen hours of unconsciously doing the same stroke that you have been doing since you were 10 years old. You can’t

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अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! – The Startup Anthem

वृक्ष हों भले खड़े, हों घने, हों बड़े एक पत्र छाँह भी, मांग मत! मांग मत! मांग मत! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! तू न थकेगा कभी! तू न थमेगा कभी! तू न मुड़ेगा कभी! कर शपथ! कर शपथ! कर शपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! यह महान दृश्य है चल रहा मनुष्य है अश्रु-स्वेद-रक्त से लथ-पथ! लथ-पथ! लथ-पथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! अग्निपथ! (Poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan from “Madushala”)

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Apple iPhone 5C: Return of the Ordinary

Steve Jobs is gone and is gone forever. Nothing more can reinforce the fact in our subconscious than the release of Apple iPhone 5C by Apple Inc. (AAPL) on 10th September 2013. Apple, to most of us, is almost the final word when it comes to product design, seamless consumer experience, imagination, and yes, perfection. All this was achieved by not aiming to make analysts and strategists happy, but by completely focusing on user experience with Apple products – starting from packaging to fonts to the casing to design to overall manufacturing and feel of the product. All this core user

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Why has India Failed to Produce Tech Giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.?

This was a question asked at Quora about the failure of India in producing tech giants. While there have been many answers with the focus on obvious villains like the Indian education system, lack of vibrant technology market, risk-averse VCs, and Blah! Blah! Blah! I think the root cause is much deeper and fundamental. First, I think the obvious villains are too obvious like in any crime thriller and do not point to real symptom/villain, and second, I am not so negative on Indian education system as the popular wisdom would like us to believe – that Indian education is

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Startup Pitch: An Insider’s Guide on What Do VCs Want?

As a VC, we suffer death by PPT (on a cue from Alexei Kapterev) almost every day. Every month, we see 100s of PPTs and attend many events where again one is drowned by pitches and more pitches… all vying for a time which is equally captured by e-mails / social chatter and other noises. However, the majority of those (almost 99%) become dead on arrival or rather lose the plot in next 60 seconds. A lot of them are great business ideas or have better teams but all is lost in enthusiasm/eagerness to impress or in storytelling. Given the

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So You Want USD 5 Mn Series A Valuation for Your Startup: Some Key Metrics?

Venture Capital: What metrics does a VC look for in a consumer internet startup, e.g., a social networking site to fund a typical Series A valuation ($4m – $5m)? I would like to know about the metrics such as: A) How much revenue? B) How many users? C) What is the rate of growth? D) How viral? Also, please mention if there are any other metrics that VCs look for. This question was posted on Quora with a request for an answer. This is a question which keeps on appearing at regular intervals in meetings / informal sessions/conferences or in secret whispers

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Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017