Top five ways to do business unethically in India

Over a decade long career , I have often been reminded of this saying from erstwhile mentors in long forgotten consulting email group- It is not WHAT you KNOW, it is WHO you KNOW. The power of WHO you KNOW can defeat even what you know , have learnt or worked hard at. Accordingly these are some wry observations on how businesses sometimes take shortcuts in India, and the whys and wherefores.

1) Regulatory Arbitrage due to Lack of Regulatory Oversight- This is especially true in terms of labor practices. This includes under-paying Caucasians and non -Indians for internships , or jobs (in the name of sponsoring the work visa). India is an extremely inexpensive place to stay in, but it is sometimes unfriendly (in terms of laws not people) to people visiting from the West. This ranges from amusing things to paying 10 times the price for non Indian visitors to Taj Mahal- to not so funny things as paying them lower salaries because they need  a reason to stay on. Unfortunately this is true in many countries -underpaying aliens, but it is much better regulated in the West.

2) Stealing Intellectual Property– I have often known people to steal presentations and even excel macros from the place they were working to the new place. Almost no one gets prosecuted for intellectual property theft (unless you are caught with 10,000 pirated music or film cds)

3) Using Pirated Softwares – Lack of awareness of FOSS means many SMEs use shortcuts including downloading software from Pirate Bay and using this to work for clients in the West. Example- This could be as simple as downloading SAS software from Internet, or using WPS software for training and mis-representing SAS Institute’s name. (added confusion due to SAS -software,company,language ) . There are other major companies who suffer from this too, notably Microsoft.

This could be as complex as using academic versions of enterprise software for businesses purposes. In each case because of the geography, legal risk is quite low, and returns quite high from pirated software. It also helps lower the unethical vendor’s quotation of prices compared to the one who is doing it straight.

One way to avoid this is –ask your vendor to show you copy of how many legal licence’s for software. It can also help in cutting down exaggerated bench strength claims of vendors, as sometimes businesses hire many people and then put them on internal projects.

4) Illegal Trade practices- This include making employees sign a 1 year bond for not leaving the company after they have visited the West for company work- in the name of training . This also includes abusing the loopholes in various types of visa.

5) Ignoring signed contracts and negotiating to lower prices at every step illegally, in collusion with other vendors ( there is no effective anti -trust act ) and using the complete inadequate and lengthy nature of filing court cases in India.
Almost every non Indian client I know pays on time- almost every Indian client I know needs reminders. This is more of a mindset problem , knowing the reluctance to file lawsuits in India given slow progress in the courts ( India has 1.2 billion people and per capita access to judges and lawyers is quite low). The buzz word is- How much can we settle this? Lets do a settlement!

In the long run, this is choking off growth and potential of SMEs in India. In a continuing series- I will help the non Indian users with ways to use technology for legal remedies  in India for intellectual property  along with known case studies and examples.

The economics of software piracy

Software piracy exists because-

1) Lack of appropriate technological controls (like those on DVDs) or on Bit Torrents (an innovation on the centralized server like Napster) or on Streaming etc etc.

Technology to share content has evolved at a much higher pace than technology to restrict content from being shared or limited to purchasers.

2) Huge difference in purchasing power across the globe.

An Itunes song at 99 cents might be okay buy in USA, but in Asia it is very expensive. Maybe if content creators use Purchasing Power Parity to price their goods, it might make an indent.

3) State sponsored intellectual theft as another form of economic warfare- this has been going on since the West stole gunpowder and silk from the Chinese, and Intel decided to win back the IP rights to the microprocessor (from the Japanese client)

4) Lack of consensus in policy makers across the globe on who gets hurt from IP theft, but complete consensus across young people in the globe that they are doing the right thing by downloading stuff for free.

5) There is no such thing as a free lunch. Sometimes software (and movie and songs) piracy help create demand across ignored markets – I always think the NFL can be huge in India if they market it.Sometimes it forces artists to commit suicide because they give up on the life of starving musician.

Mostly piracy has helped break profits of intermediaries between the actual creator and actual consumer.

So how to solve software piracy , assuming it is something that can be solved-

I dont know, but I do care.

I give most of my writings as CC-by-SA and that includes my poems. People (friends and family) sometimes pay me not to sing.

Pirates have existed and will exist as long as civilized men romanticize the notion of piracy and bicker between themselves for narrow gains.

  1. Ephesians 4:28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
  2. A clean confession, combined with a promise never to commit the sin again, when offered before one who has the right to receive it, is the purest type of repentance.-Gandhi
  3. If you steal, I will wash your mouth with soap- Anonymous Mother.
  4. You shall not steal- Moses
  5. Steal may refer to: Theft, the illegal taking of another person’s property without that person’s freely-given consent; The gaining of a stolen base in baseball;

 

 

Understanding Indian Govt attitude to Iran and Iraq wars

This is a collection of links for a geo-strategic analysis, and the economics of wars and allies. The author neither condones nor condemns current global dynamics in the balance of power.

nations don’t have friends or enemies…nations only have interests

In 2003

The war in Iraq had a unique Indian angle right at the beginning. Some members of the US administration felt they needed more troops in Iraq, and they started negotiating with India. Those negotiations broke down because the Indians wanted to fight under the UN flag and on MONEY!!

India wanted-

  • More money per soldier deployed,
  • more share in post War Oil Contracts,
  • better diplomatic subtlety
Govt changed in India due to elections in2003 (Muslim voters are critical in any govt forming majority party), and the Iraq war ran its tragic course without any Indian explicit support.
In 26 Nov 2008, Islamic Terrorists killed US, Indian and Israeli citizens in terror strikes in Mumbai Sieze- thus proving that appeasing terrorist nations is just riding a tiger.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-06-13/india/27203305_1_stabilisation-force-indian-troops-pentagon-delegation

NEW DELHI: There will be a lot a Iraq on the menu over the weekend before the Pentagon team arrives here on Monday to talk India into sending troops to the war-torn nation.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-07-28/india/27176989_1_troops-issue-stabilisation-force-defence-policy-group

Jul 28, 2003, 01.28pm IST

NEW DELHI: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard B Myers, who is arriving here on Monday evening on a two-day visit, will request India to reconsider its decision on sending troops to Iraq.

and

Jul 29, 2003, 07.00pm IST

NEW DELHI: Though Gen Myers flatly denied his visit had anything to do with persuading India to send troops to Iraq, it is evident that the US desperately wants Delhi to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-09-10/india/27176101_1_stabilisation-force-force-under-american-control-regional-dialogue

Sep 10, 2003, 05.34pm IST

NEW DELHI: Even as the US-drafted resolution on Iraq is being heatedly debated in many countries, American Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca held a series of meetings with External Affairs Ministry officials on Wednesday.

Though it was officially called “a regional dialogue”, the US request to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers to the “stabilisation force” in Iraq is learnt to have figured in the discussions.

The penny wise -pound foolish attitude of then Def Secretary Rumsfield led to break down in negotiations.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

In 2012

Indian govt again faces elections and we have 150 million Muslim voters just like other countries have influential lobbies.

and while Israelis are being targeted again in attacks in India-

India is still seeking money-

India has struck a defiant tone over new financial sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to punish Iran for its nuclear programme, coming up with elaborate trade and barter arrangements to pay for oil supplies.

However, the president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association, said Monday’s attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat in the Indian capital will damage trade with Iran and may complicate efforts to resolve an impasse over Iranian defaults on payments for rice imports worth around $150 million.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

India buys $ 5  billion worth of oil from Iran. Annually. Clearly it is a critical financial trading partner to Iran.

It has now gotten extra sops from Iran to continue trading-and is now waiting for a sweeter monetary offer from US and/or Israel to even consider thinking about going through the pain of unchanging the inertia of ties with Iran.

There are some aspects of political corruption as well, as Indian political establishment  is notoriously prone to corruption by lobbyists (apparently there   is a global war on lobbyists that needs to happen)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

 Feb 14, 2012, 05.54PM ISTUnfazed by US sanctions, India to step up ties with Iran
India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran. (AFP Photo)
NEW DELHI: Unfazed by US sanctions and Israel linking Tehran to the attack on an Israeli embassy car here, India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran, with a commerce ministry team heading to Tehran to explore fresh business opportunities. 

The team is expected to go to Tehran later this month to discuss steps to expand India’s trade with Iran, part of a larger strategy to pay for Iranian oil, said highly-placed sources. 

Despite the US and European Union sanctions on Iran, India recently sealed a payment mechanism under which Indian companies will pay for 45 percent of their crude oil imports from Iran in rupees. 

So diplomats with argue over money in Israel, Indian and US while terrorists will kill.

Against Stupidity- The Gods Themselves -Contend in Vain

SAS Institute Financials 2011

SAS Institute has release it’s financials for 2011 at http://www.sas.com/news/preleases/2011financials.html,

Revenue surged across all solution and industry categories. Software to detect fraud saw a triple-digit jump. Revenue from on-demand solutions grew almost 50 percent. Growth from analytics and information management solutions were double digit, as were gains from customer intelligence, retail, risk and supply chain solutions

AJAY- and as a private company it is quite nice that they are willing to share so much information every year.

The graphics are nice ( and the colors much better than in 2010) , but pie-charts- seriously dude there is no way to compare how much SAS revenue is shifting across geographies or even across industries. So my two cents is – lose the pie charts, and stick to line graphs please for the share of revenue by country /industry.

In 2011, SAS grew staff 9.2 percent and reinvested 24 percent of revenue into research and development

AJAY- So that means 654 million dollars spent in Research and Development.  I wonder if SAS has considered investing in much smaller startups (than it’s traditional strategy of doing all research in-house and completely acquiring a smaller company)

Even a small investment of say 5-10 million USD in open source , or even Phd level research projects could greatly increase the ROI on that.

That means

Analyzing a private company’s financials are much more fun than a public company, and I remember the words of my finance professor ( “dig , dig”) to compare 2011 results with 2010 results.

http://www.sas.com/news/preleases/2010financials.html

The percentage invested in R and D is exactly the same (24%) and the percentages of revenue earned from each geography is exactly the same . So even though revenue growth increased from 5.2 % to 9% in 2011, both the geographic spread of revenues and share  R&D costs remained EXACTLY the same.

The Americas accounted for 46 percent of total revenue; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 42 percent; and Asia Pacific 12 percent.

Overall, I think SAS remains a 35% market share (despite all that noise from IBM, SAS clones, open source) because they are good at providing solutions customized for industries (instead of just software products), the market for analytics is not saturated (it seems to be growing faster than 12% or is it) , and its ability to attract and retain the best analytical talent (which in a non -American tradition for a software company means no stock options, job security, and great benefits- SAS remains almost Japanese in HR practices).

In 2010, SAS grew staff by 2.4 percent, in 2011 SAS grew staff by 9 percent.

But I liked the directional statement made here-and I think that design interfaces, algorithmic and computational efficiencies should increase analytical time, time to think on business and reduce data management time further!

“What would you do with the extra time if your code ran in two minutes instead of five hours?” Goodnight challenged.

Free Tibet

We should all ask China to free Tibet because of the following reasons-

10 Reasons to Free Tibet

1) Replace a system of governance which is giving 12% GDP growth with a 1000 year old belief that one old guy is really a reincarnation of GOD

2) Because it is a romantic idea

3) The average Tibetan is much better economically than most other countries in Asia and Africa. Still freedom is messy- Donald Rumsfield.

4) So we can sell beer, Facebook ads, Internet Pornography to Tibetans which do not have the liberty to do so currently

5) So we can explore that area for mining and minerals

6) Damn it. We need one more ally for the free world. So we can invade more non free countries.

7)  Tibetans girls are hot.

8) Dalai Lama is cool. and he doesnot charge by the hour unlike other yoga Gurus.

9) We need to encircle China just like we did in the 19th Century and Opium Wars

10) So artists like Ai Wei Wei can blog freely

1 Reason not to Free Tibet

1) Tibetans want to be free. If we give them democracy- they will be disappointed to know that the bullets just get replaced by the pepper spray. How silly is that? The desire to be free- when there is no such thing as free anymore.

(This was an article in Sarcasm and meant as literary and not a pseudo-intellectual political article. I have no training in Politics. For details see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcasm

Kindle as a Tablet for 109$ and how to order it if you in India

I was just blown away by the price and functionality of the Kindle, including the browser and in built Wi-Fi- ( though the 40$ leather bag was a bit sneaky as an accessory, I mean seriously, dude)

And unlike some media technology companies (like Hulu,Spotify , even some Youtube channels)

who offer products to Asia only after a delayed lag, it is just as easy to order Kindle sitting from India.

Thank you Amazon!

 

and lastly some art to help prod those people who offer beta sites for limited countries  even in this age.

Credit- Paul Mutant

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulmutant/4992725876/

Updated Blogging Policy for Decisionstats.com

Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai
Image via Wikipedia

I will be moving and transitioning all cultural,philosophical ,poetry, and political writing to separate blogs.

Decisionstats is for better TECHNICAL decisions by FASTER STATS (on technology).

  • for better political decisions (how to organize protests in Asia when the govt cuts off the internet) (separate culture blog),
  • better cultural decisions (which movie should we go to) (separate culture blog),
  • better poetry reading (seperate TUMBLR blog)

 

Thanks,

Ajay Ohri

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