Sunday, January 29, 2017

Workshop interventions...Celebrating five fruitful years


On Feb 5, 2017, I will be completing five years of workshop intervention programs aimed at facilitating different target groups - individuals, institutions and organizations - to move up the value chain in respective spheres. These workshops continue to be free of cost and will remain so, despite the repeated plea from some stakeholders to make them fee-based. I appreciate their view point, that anything free, more so in the fertile space of education, is undervalued by default, which also implies that anything offered for a fee is upheld by design.



Having said that, the whole charm of my workshops is their 'free for all' tag which helps me escape the burden of obligation - and yet ensures measurable value for the target audience provided they come with an open mind, free of the baggage of pre-conceived notions and prescriptive expectations.

Over the span of five years, I have conducted these freewheeling sessions across different geographies - whether pan India, US, UK, Central Asia or Africa - from the scenic town called Horley near London to a sleepy village called Nakuru in Nairobi, from the Mount prospect locality near downtown Chicago to the central business district of Almaty, Kazakhstan, from the pious landmark of Rishikesh to the tribal pockets of Meghalaya, and from the Haddo market area of Port Blair to the awesome terrain of Alangar in Karnataka - for diverse target groups - whether MNCs or SMEs, PSUs or NGOs, kids or housewives, salaried or self employed, contractors or workers, children of plush societies or urchins from slum pockets...



Some of the popular workshops and modules:


Poetry of Mathematics and the science of languages


From Classroom to Workplace: managing the academia-industry transition

Learning beyond the confines of Arts, Science and Commerce

Learning through Music, Literature, Films & Theatre

Probing the Child's mind: No child's play

Decoding gender sensitivity, financial literacy, career planning and life & language skills

Moving from intent to content: Actionable tips on ‘Fit for purpose’ writing

Why get better at communication?

o A brief on communication challenges of the ‘playground’ called Workplace

o What is Fit for Purpose writing and how it helps?

Cutting across cultures: Camaraderie beyond comfort zones

• The Pivotal Role of Language, History and philosophy in cross-culture communication
• Edward Hall’s concept of low-context and high-context communication
• Persuasion and assertion in a multi-cultural scenario – I, we and us.
• Managing a global team: Consensus stems from cultural relativity
• How to become a culture catalyst – going beyond acceptance and tolerance
• Interactive discussion on interesting specifics of cultural contexts – American, European, Asian

Friday, January 20, 2017

Shemaroo Entertainment: The Content Connoisseurs



Very few corporates have their legacy rooted in innovation the way Shemaroo has. Incepted way back in 1962, the year of the Indo-China war, the Shemaroo trump card of ‘engaging content’ has come a long way, locking horns with the evolving paradigms of the entertainment market across eras: from the relatively restrained avenues of the erstwhile ‘webless’ and ‘immobile’ world to the boundless opportunities of an ever-expanding digital universe.

Sudhir Raikar, Content Architect, IIFL | Mumbai | January 20, 2017 10:50 IST
Courtesy: http://www.indiainfoline.com/article/news-sector-media-entertainment/shemaroo-entertainment-the-content-connoisseurs-117012000290_1.html

Book library, video rentals, home video, broadcast syndication, film distribution, production and restoration, phenomenal progression is a way of life for the 55-year old warhorse, Shemaroo Entertainment. Given its seamless transition into greener pastures and smart assortment of diverse businesses across media - whether Satellite channels, Physical formats, Mobile, Internet, Broadband, IPTV or DTH – Shemaroo has raised the bar for the burgeoning content creation, aggregation and distribution market in India.


Shemaroo Think Tank: Thought leadership across generations

From the flagship book library to the current day YouTube repository, the Shemaroo management has carved a niche in territory after territory on the wings of its unflinching conviction and rock-solid resolve. That’s precisely why the Shemaroo narrative of exemplary evolution is incomplete without a tribute to founder Buddhichand Maroo’s flagship book library - its ethos and essence - that continues to guide the flagbearers of Shemaroo’s current day businesses.

The Shemaroo saga: Offbeat Off-screen blockbuster

The roots of the Shemaroo’s 200-crore enterprise employing over 500 people can be traced to Buddhichand Maroo’s eternal love for books. The invigorating company of thriller bestsellers during a part-time stint at an old paper mart enthused him to incept a circulating library of his own. The dream came true in 1962, albeit on borrowed money, in Warden Road of South Mumbai (then Bombay) The name Shemaroo was an acronym of the surnames of friends-turned-partners - Gangajibhai Shethia and Buddhichand Maroo. (Subsequently, Shetias exited the business but the Maroos retained the name, presumably for the emotional connect.)

The library stocked magazines and books across genres – from detective novels, literary gems and glossy paperbacks to inspirational and self-help literature, children’s books and women-centric publications. But Buddhichand was not content with the mere sourcing and stocking (from different old paper and book marts). He travelled the extra mile, in the true spirt of a knowledge catalyst, to establish a personal bond with members – whether commoners or celebrities - based on which he would tailor the library collection to suit the needs of an ever-growing clientele from all walks of life. No wonder, the readership was also a rich assortment of the most happening people of Mumbai including industrialists, writers, journalists and film and theatre personalities. The library opened three branches in quick time.

Innovation being an integral part of the Shemaroo DNA, the family was always looking for greener pastures even though their existing business was yet in its prime years. When Video Cassette Recorders (VCR) arrived on Indian shores, people raved about these incredible ‘fairy-tale machines’ that magically sucked in a cassette to play a film or recorded programme just like a tape recorder played audio. But the Maroos saw an irresistible business opportunity in the technology, beyond the wonderment. The Shemaroo Home Library, brainchild of younger brother Raman, who had seen an exhibition demo en route a business trip to Cologne, began life in 1976 with an inventory of 20 cassettes. With VCR technology in its formative stage in India and the then prevalent Licence Raj regime which made imports impossible, cassette production was itself a limiting factor. But the brothers worked around this supply-side constraint with yet another Shemaroo brainwave. They initially borrowed cassettes from different affluent business families, who had their own personal collections, and circulated the stock-in-trade, routing it from one family to another for a fee. This way, each family enjoyed a steady fare of new arrivals without having to own them. Subsequently, the Maroo family also acquired a few cassettes on their trips abroad. In due course, the library had over 3000 members relishing thousands of titles. The VCR market was by now at a tipping point, and with scores of nondescript libraries cropping up in every nook and corner of the country’s cities and towns, Shemaroo set its eyes on a new goal: creating an in-house video label.

A heart-to-heart conversation at a film gathering, with the nephew of noted filmmaker Raj Khosla, proved the turning point. Convinced of the value prop of Raman Maroo’s proposition, the Khoslas sold the rights of many a blockbuster film from their stable. Memorable hits like Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Do Raaste entered the video market under the Shemaroo banner. The film library swelled with time and effort and today Shemaroo’s content library has over 3400 titles across different genres.

In the nineties, spurred by Dr. Manmohan Singh’s liberalization drive, the private TV channel industry took off and the Shemaroo family was keen to mark its presence in this space too. While exploring a deal to buy films of Sony’s Columbia Tristar, the Maroo brothers ended up taking an equity stake in Sony’s Indian TV channel. Raman’s experience as the channel’s director came handy for a ringside view of India’s entertainment dynamic and later paved the way for Shemaroo’s debut into filmmaking.

Even a cursory glance at the Shemaroo graph makes it evident that innovation is at the core of their business. Working around problems, going beyond constraints and looking at the larger picture is ingrained into the management vision, mission and values. Today, the firm’s digital initiatives are being spearheaded by Buddhichand’s son Jai Maroo and maternal nephew Hiren Gada. Although they are locking horns with a new set of challenges and opportunities, the rock-solid Shemaroo business sense is intact. So is the zest and zeal to conquer new frontiers.



The Road Ahead
Shemaroo’s new media initiatives, at this juncture, constitute less than 20 per cent of total revenues. Bulk of the contribution comes from content aggregation and distribution while the home entertainment segment fetches a small slice. But given the company’s track record of making smart inroads into sunrise segments as also its rich insights into the digital space, Shemaroo’s new media business is set to scale new highs in the immediate future. The momentum should come about from one, the growing viewership on digital platforms led by high-speed internet, increased smart phone penetration and better infrastructure and two, more realizations from better view monetization and RPM rates, notwithstanding the glaring gap between India and the West in RPM rates.

On the conventional business front, India’s prominent film-centric entertainment preferences continue to spell great news for Shemaroo. Here, any meteoric rise in business opportunities seems unlikely going forward but Shemaroo should be able to maintain its competitive edge based on its impressive catalog and first-mover advantage. The future revenue mix, that would tilt in favour of new media in due course, should also improve margins and enhance asset utilization due to the inherent rewards of the digital turf.

Going forward in the digital-led era, Shemaroo would have to constantly strike a judicious balance between the tranquillity of balance sheet stability and the traction of library ramp up. Given the dynamic nature of opportunities on both sides – on one end, the graph of new media topline revenues and on the other, acquisition of compelling content to enhance the content bank - deciding the cut off for tapering the ongoing investment spree would obviously be a tight rope walk. But given the management’s overall prudence as also the practice of cautiously weighing each proposition for the cost and benefit, we strongly believe they will achieve the golden mean with resounding conviction, if not immediately strike gold. After all, it’s the management’s far-sightedness that has placed it in a comfortable position on the debt front with enough leeway for making more investments, if an opportunity should arise, and more importantly devoid of any undue FCF worries unlike what many analysts would like to believe.

Already the Shemaroo digital strides are quite impressive, especially the traction on their YouTube channels (although the revenue contribution is currently way less than what the Telco traction contributes). The Shemaroo creative value-add in this space is superlative. A case in point is their channel Retro Diaries which recalls Hindi film classics like Taxi Driver, Pakeezah and Do Bigha Zameen for a contemporary audience - a voiceover-led neat summary, rich in style and substance, highlights the timelessness of handpicked films of the bygone era for the benefit of today’s youth. This initiative makes Shemaroo a high-minded cultural ambassador on behalf of the entire film fraternity, an edge that goes beyond the triumph of mere numbers linked with views and clicks. Going forward, this value-add should motivate yester year film producers to grant perpetual rights to Shemaroo for their creations, especially when they face the looming threat of shelf-life expiry and given Shemaroo’s command over second and subsequent revenue cycles of content distribution.

Having said that, one feels the Shemaroo team needs to articulate its value prop more effectively, especially for the benefit of a global audience. The YouTube channels demand a better preface introducing the Shemaroo universe at a glance, where the conviction behind each channel needs to be elaborated, more than a mere mention of number of hits. Ditto for the Shemaroo website which hardly conveys the distinctive features of the Shemaroo DNA. This is one area where the staple Shemaroo obsession with caution could prove counterproductive.

Many PEs/VCs still regard Shemaroo as only a catalog library even though it has travelled many a mile to become a wholesome content creator and provider across media with credible presence even in tech-centric areas like animation and restoration. In the quality time and attention to the repackaging of Bollywood content, the Shemaroo team seems to have inadvertently kept the packaging of their core value content on the backburner. After all, founder Buddhichand’s Midas touch is their most crucial intangible asset of undeniably tangible gains. The founding story deserves better packaging, rather than leaving it solely to the media to rehash the Shemaroo lineage saga from time to time.

The Shemaroo conviction, as expressed in impromptu management conversations, is way more powerful and reassuring than what the web content conveys. And articulation doesn’t mean telling the whole story unlike what most managements believe. A smart gist of the past, present and future should suffice. Shemaroo, given its wealth of content, has the potential to become the most definitive encyclopaedia on India-stamped entertainment – film as well as non-film. For overseas communication & entertainment players keen to make quick inroads into India, Shemaroo can offer an India-advisory service ahead of collaborating with them.

Management Interaction


Shemaroo’s most distinctive value prop is undoubtedly the management’s vision and values, which in IT terminology is much like the Microservices Approach to Solution Architecture, of not replacing the monolith by a new structure overnight, rather testing out new waters in smaller, parallel silos and launching new initiatives in incremental fashion, and once convinced of the overall cost-benefit at a portfolio level, focusing on the new pursuit, mitigating risks to the extent possible and working around challenges and constraints aided by lateral thinking. Hiren Gada, whole-time director and CFO, Shemaroo Entertainment in conversation with IIFL’s Sudhir Raikar.

How has the entertainment industry evolved over the years?
The vehicles of delivery have changed, not the need for quality content. Content is timeless across eras, more so in the entertainment space. In the bygone era, film watching was a rare privilege for most households. Our home video service served the demand of the time admirably well, enabling one to watch one’s favourite movies from the comforts of the living room. In stark contrast, today one has the luxury of the proverbial remote to sift through scores of serials, films and entertainment programs being aired on different channels at any point of time.

The entertainment market in India is very different from that of the developed countries. Notwithstanding the fact that India has a thriving film and music industry, RPUs in India are very low as compared to US. So, despite the plethora of conventional and new media platforms on the supply side, India is still largely an underserved market. At the same time, demographics and a predominantly young population are India’s biggest strengths. So the scope for market expansion is huge.

Thanks to our creative team’s acumen and alacrity, we have repackaged our vintage content to suit the demands of the digital generation. A case in point is our 15-minute movie segment, an astutely condensed version of a regular three-hour movie, in line with the tastes and preferences of the YouTube fraternity. It offers them a delightful peak into the film’s plot which more than keeping them glued, motivates them to watch the whole film. So, in more ways than one, we are reviving the charm of a vintage movie for the youth of today.

Has the new media changed the demand-supply equation of entertainment?
The enabling role of technology is undeniable. With technology, access to various forms of entertainment is now easier, faster and better, be it broadcast via satellite, cable or terrestrial mode. In the personal consumption space, video cassettes made way for physical media which in turn is migrating to the digital regime. The prevalent trend is in favour of internet-based and mobile-based platforms. But content is still the king. After all, our YouTube are not because of the ease of access, it’s primarily due to the quality of our content, the value-adds we etch it with. Technology enriches the recall value by facilitating any time access and repeat viewing at will. For us, content and tech always go hand in hand. ​

Having said that, certain realities of today can’t be overlooked. Today’s households, middle class in particular, have a default ‘second-best’ alternative screen in their form of their cell phones. Invariably, the living room TV screen is switched on and off depending on the preferences of a select, mostly elderly, group – either by housewives for their regular Saas-Bahu fare or by the male members for their daily dose of news, sports and action spectacles. So, the younger folks of the family invariably look up to the ever-obliging cell phone as their most reliable source of entertainment – which is more user-friendly, delightfully mobile and ripe with downloadable variety entertainment. This household factor has changed the very dynamic of the entertainment industry and almost all the providers and via media players are vying for a share of this pie.

So, digital is the way to go for you?
Absolutely. Our acknowledgement in favour of this vibrant platform came way back in 2007. Given the nature of business, of owning and aggregating content, digital was a natural evolution for us. So, we tied up with a few regional players of the music and audio space for supply of ringtones, mobile radio and song downloads in as many as 20 languages. We also digitised our film library and made it compatible and accessible across different formats.

Our digital strategy is broad-based. We are not just thinking of films here but even special interest productions. The whole idea is to build sustainable revenue streams. That explains our premium DTH offerings – based on themes like fitness, health and self-help - running on channels like Tata Sky, Airtel and Dish TV. Besides, we have the refurbished library content of films and TV serials that become our additional monetization mechanisms.

Having said that, our digital focus in no way implies the end of the home video segment. The demand for home video is still alive, what’s changed is only the format of delivery. Given the higher price tag and susceptibility to piracy, the physical format is no longer feasible. Digital makes the whole process efficient and secure. Hence the thrust on moving to digital as fast as possible.

What’s your take on the competitive landscape of today?
We have minimised the risk window through our focus on re-issue segment, steering clear of new film arena. Besides, we put in a lot of thought in the choice of films. The enduring nature of the product – say a film like Amar Akbar Anthony – itself creates sustainable demand. Talking of competition, we see one strong contender in the producer fraternity but having said that, it’s difficult to make quick inroads into this sector especially when you have no experience of the space. The production houses are focused on theatrical distribution where we have no presence. Content distribution is our forte.

What about your home productions?
We are distributors first and then producers. Of course, we’ll selectively look at opportunities for film production but we are focused on the special interest non-film segments given the healthy demand for such products.

​Has the ongoing data volume slowdown in the telecom space affected your new media prospects?
Notwithstanding a minor slowdown in data volume in the telecom space in the recent few months, the video content consumption has been steadily increasing. In the developed countries, video based consumption is substantially higher as compared to India. The important aspect in India is that the overall trend of data consumption is still on an upward path and most drivers for this continued momentum are strongly intact. The current trends like wider acceptance of 3G & 4G, introduction of competitive data plans by telecom operators in the wake of Jio launch, improving broadband connectivity, surge in affordable smartphones sales, etc. are bound to increase the demand for video consumption.

In the new media, bandwidth issues are the biggest challenge. With time the cost of bandwidth is reducing and so even a normal consumer enjoys higher bandwidth. This is also one of the reasons why consumption of entertainment on the online platform is gaining popularity. Also, with better streaming solutions and increasing Internet penetration in India, bandwidth is no longer a constraint.

Managing a good creative product at a reasonable cost is a challenge these days. As we see it, video consumption gets a boost with bandwidth growth. Hence a delay in the rollout of 4G in India could be a challenge.

Which platform(s) among mobile, DTH and TV have proved more productive, both in terms of revenue and brand visibility?
Shemaroo is technology and platform agnostic. Our business model is based on content monetization across multiple platforms. In this context, our business growth would be linked to the scale of the respective platforms. We have presence/relationships across the ecosystem. We are partners to most of the services/platforms due to our content strength and industry experience. At this point, television is one platform with maximum scale and reach in the M&E space; Consequently, even for us, TV remains one of the biggest contributors of revenue.

Could you brief us on the status of your initiative to create a self-regulatory code of conduct which is critical to your industry.
This initiative is currently work-in-progress and with respect to time span, it is medium to long term in nature. I acknowledge piracy is an issue for entire Bollywood.

What’s the thought behind your Bollywood-theme merchandise initiative Yedaz?
Globally, Licensing & Merchandising (L & M) is a huge space and a major source of revenue for content owners. However, in India, the L&M business is currently at a very nascent stage and only serves as an auxiliary source of revenue. Bollywood has a strong consumer and emotional connect in India. Shemaroo has a large library of content (including movie dialogues, songs and characters) which appeals to various age categories. So, we are trying to leverage on an existing content asset under the umbrella of ‘Yedaz’. This is our experiment in the L&M space with minimal capital investments.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kedar Vanjape: Maverick in Motion




Kedar Vanjape, 38, represents the changing face of Real Estate, away from the surreal towards the real. His corporate den, situated in a quiet corner off a busy road in the heart of Pune, hardly looks like a real estate developer's office. Basking in the glory of bright sunlight, adorned with minimalistic decor, blessed with an inviting sit out balcony and to top it all, manned by a friendly and courteous staff, the cosy place looks more like a sport and recreation club. But if you suspect business would be amiss in this laid-back space, you are sadly mistaken. The whole office is buzzing with positive action, staffers greeting prospective clients and helping flat owners with different modalities.

The man at the helm, Kedar Vanjape, is in the thick of things himself: taking phone calls, attending to visitors and also addressing the flurry of questions I throw at him. One look at him and you can make out his humility is not for the sake of advertisement. He's unassuming to the core, and delightfully blunt in his observations, calling spade a spade on just about every issue under the sun - real estate included. His phenomenal life story is an inspiration for all those who wish to tread on the offbeat path to success and achievement,who wish to scale new heights and yet stay grounded at all times.

Hailing from the small town of Kopargaon in Ahmednagar district, Kedar aspired to earn his laurels in the medical field, following in the footsteps of his Surgeon father and Gynecologist mother. When he could not secure the requisite marks for enrollment into the medical stream, he opted for engineering and cleared his Industrial Engineering from VIT, Pune. His first tryst with employment happened with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in the capacity of a Junior National Consultant. Life was going the UN way when he got what he thought was an irresistible offer. His cousin Sanjay Deshpande, who worked with the renowned DSK Developers, asked him to join him. "Honestly, glamour was the biggest pull for me at that age, having seen Sanjay's life style from close quarters. I was convinced, at first sight, that real estate was the ultimate gateway to a life adorned with swanky cars and palatial homes."

So, Kedar took the plunge in the brick and mortar world, armed with his starry-eyed ambition and steely resolve. But to his utter dismay, Sanjay quit DSK and started out on his own in quick succession. Having burnt all bridges, Kedar had no option but to stay put, and somehow try and come to terms with the new reality. He decided to take the challenge head on and the ensuing effort earned him rich dividends. In a short span, he got quality exposure in different facets of realty - desk work, drawing blueprints, managing contractors, supervising sites, customer facing, ensuring legal formalities, marketing, liasioning with government offices - you name it, he did it. The depth and gravity of the grassroots experience helps him to this day as he's on first name terms with most stakeholders in the business who have moved up the value chain in terms of designations but still value their relationships with him above mere transactions.

His dogged determination and back-breaking effort saw him rise to the position of Executive Director at DSK Developers. But after this elevation, his career suffered the consequences of the glass ceiling effect. "I have learnt a lot from the founder D S Kulkarni, especially about maintaining a judicious balance between lifestyle preferences and professional decorum. Having said that,I found him highly insecure in matters of succession planning and delegation of authority. My ambition, soaring on the wings of my capability, was bursting at the seams then and I just couldn't continue in an environment which, knowingly or unknowingly, sought to clip my wings."

A chance encounter with the legendary Daji Kaka Gadgil (of P N Gadgil Jewellers fame) proved the decisive turning point. The Gadgils wished to venture into real estate and found in Kedar the perfect partner to take the idea to fruition. The four-year collaboration indeed turned out to be quite fruitful and they completed many a sterling project in the given span. It was in June 2013 that Kedar branched out on his own under the name Kedar Vanjape Developers Limited (KVDL). The failing health of Daji Kaka Gadgil and his demise in Jan 2014 left a permanent void for Kedar, as his chemistry was solely with the doyen of the jewellery industry, not with his successors.

KVDL has undertaken several landmark projects on the outskirts of Pune, with few on the verge of completion. But KVDL narrative is incomplete without the mention of an incredible life lesson that Kedar learnt from his mother.

Having seen a fair amount of success, Kedar was tempted to upgrade his lifestyle at a juncture when the construction industry was on a downturn. "I somehow could foresee that this slowdown was not a market correction, it was a business correction, yet the lure of an affluent lifestyle was overpowering." Kedar reveals.

So he went ahead and bought a plot of land to construct a lavish bungalow for the family. Subsequently, he also decided to buy his dream Merc car and wanted his mom to accompany him to the showroom for paying the booking amount.

She agreed to accompany him but posed three questions upfront

1. Can you afford the car?

2. Would it match your persona? ,and,

3. Is there a compelling need for it?

His mom herself answered the first two questions in the affirmative but passed the third in his court.

"My answer was obviously a big resounding 'No' and the car purchase plan was scrapped on spot." Kedar reminisces.

But the radical thought chain didn't stop at that. Kedar then had a detached re-look at the plan of building his bungalow under the new microscope and the honest answer was a 'No' on that front too. Without second thoughts, he sold off the bungalow plot and what's more, he even sold his residence flat and shifted to a rental accommodation, only to self-fund his construction projects rather than rely on a potential mountain of debt in an era of constrained resources.

The timely advice from his mom turned out to be god sent indeed, as Kedar gradually built his fortune brick by brick without succumbing to the lure of ostentation or lavish display of wealth, the defining traits of the real estate fraternity otherwise.

Kedar's approach to development is a sterling case study for all practitioners of the construction business. Transparency is the hall mark of every KVDL project. Comprehensive monthly reports are sent to every buyer, conveying the progress of under-construction projects, thereby weeding out any fear and uncertainty from the buyer's mind about the fate of his decision post purchase.And every project has stringent self-penalty clauses for non-completion of projects in the committed time frame.

Kedar and his team deserve rich accolades for their pioneering strides in an industry shrouded with secrecy and better known for shady dealings. The executive team, however, needs some value-added training in client-centric communication and proactive conversation. The KVDL intent is not in question but the content is far from compelling, so also the website communication which hardly does justice to the KVDL's sterling ethos and essence. The founder conveys all the right messages in his impromptu conversations, but it's high time the team does the same in respective roles.

KVDL, given its conviction, has the capability to become a global thought leader in its own right. If KVDL doesn't reach where it should in the time to come, it would go down in history as a Greek tragedy of epic proportions.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

In conversation with Shivnath Thukral, MD, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, India


Sudhir Raikar, Content Architect, IIFL | Mumbai | December 14, 2016 10:44 IST



"The Global Tech Summit 2016 (GTS’16) was our first major event under the Tech Forum Initiative. The tech forum is an effort to bring together serious players from the industry, stakeholders across the policy spectrum and government decision makers to discuss critical issues. As a think tank, our aim is to study and research policy issues that need to evolve or re-written based on objective and scholarly analysis."

Carnegie India, the sixth international center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently hosted a Global Tech Summit in Bengaluru which saw eminent entrepreneurs, technologists, and academicians sharing their thoughts on a common podium. What seemed like a logical ‘next step’ resonating founding director C Raja Mohan’s incisive views (Trump, Artificial Intelligence, and India) the summit is an attempt to bring together the seemingly disparate worlds of governance and technology by hosting a purposeful dialogue between the policy heads in Delhi and the wizards of Bengaluru and other tech hubs. The thought churn, the organizers believe, will help develop the competencies and curricula that the discerningly disruptive digital transformation deems mandatory, and will also enable global businesses to reimagine legacy processes and redesign contemporary systems in the race to remain relevant, rather in a bid to carve their niche in a fertile space of immense possibilities. On the other hand, the summit also seeks to stimulate policymaking in India towards designing effective governance and regulatory solutions to facilitate the big change rather than watch the action from the side-lines.

Excerpts of the interaction between Shivnath Thukral, Managing Director, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace India and IIFL’s Sudhir Raikar.

Will the summit kick-off engaging conversations between New Delhi and Bengaluru, i.e. India's Power hub and India's Tech hub? How would you measure the success of this event?

The Global Tech Summit 2016 (GTS’16) was our first major event under the Tech Forum Initiative. The tech forum is an effort to bring together serious players from the industry, stakeholders across the policy spectrum and government decision makers to discuss critical issues. As a think tank, our aim is to study and research policy issues that need to evolve or re-written based on objective and scholarly analysis. To that effect, we felt the Global Tech Summit managed to emerge as a serious platform where some critical issues concerning industry and policy were identified and discussed. From the issue of protection to domestic e-commerce players to how Indian start-ups can help India’s diplomatic cause to futuristic technologies such as Hyperloop to how policy needs to evolve within a framework, GTS’16 managed to achieve some key goals. The fact that stakeholders in both Delhi and Bangalore recognise the need for a greater dialogue and that the summit took the first step towards closing it leaves us satisfied.

Going by the website, Carnegie India aims to stimulate new thinking in India's policy space. Going forward, would you look beyond summits to foster collaboration and co-creation of various stakeholders? esp. for bridging the academia-industry divide...

We plan to have a deep dive on issues planned every quarter starting in March. The year will also see policy briefs, research papers and smaller convening sessions on issues earmarked for discussion next year. This will culminate into the second edition of the Global Tech Summit in December 2017.

The list of summit participants is impressive - just that one would have liked to see some representation by India's offbeat productized software development companies - esp. those with clear Big data and Analytics agendas - which have rich insights for developing a new economic strategy that relies on technological innovation.

This was our first attempt to identify certain specific topics and focus areas. We are sure we will be able to expand the discussion and debate horizon for more issues which merit policy intervention or attention of policy makers. The deep dive sessions during the year will attempt to experiment with more ideas and issues.

Elaborating on the same point, it would have been great to see some non-ecomm, non-retail startup representation who may be ripe with disruptive ideas for a new India.

As I mentioned earlier, GTS’16 in its inaugural chapter identified issues which we felt were important and relevant but these are clearly not exhaustive. The sectors you mention have a huge impact on citizens and need further study and we hope to include them in our upcoming discussions.

The India inception of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Carnegie, as late as in 2016, one feels, has a lot to do with the value prop of a New India under the stewardship of PM Modi. Was the Fund wary of seeding an India office all these years?

The work to set up Carnegie India started as early as 2013. It was launched once all the relevant permissions and compliance requirements were met to set up an office.

Few resounding sound bytes from the summit:

China has very rapidly assimilated nuclear reactors and high speed trains through policies that are designed to encourage sharing technology. To do that, we must develop the infrastructure and experience to absorb such technologies - S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary

India needs to do what China did 15 years ago, tell the world we need your capital, but we don’t need your companies - Sachin Bansal, Flipkart

The real fight is on capital, not innovation - Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola Cabs

A tectonic shift in technology will not only impact blue-collar jobs but also has the potential to at least partially wipe out human interference in sectors such as healthcare and brokerage, among others” - Ravi Venkatesan, Bank of Baroda

I’m not worried about the next 10 years because these 10 years will be about how to make the existing jobs more productive through technology - Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Biocon

India needs to make five transitions—from farm to non-farm, rural to urban, subsistence wage employment to decent wage employment, informal enterprises to formal enterprises and school to work (human capital) - Manish Sabharwal, TeamLease

There is inertia and lack of clarity on the purpose of regulation. Most regulations have been from experience, and they are often knee-jerk reactions. We need to re-look at things to leverage benefits that technology must offer - Rahul Matthan, Trilegal

India needs to have regulations such that innovators and regulators can work together smoothly, to balance public interest and incentives for innovation - Ananth Padmanabhan, Carnegie India

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

House of knowledge




Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities. – R. David Lankes

Today, we happened to visit the Indian Library of Thane, a one-of-a-kind initiative of Sanjeev Malhotra and his brothers Rajeev and Jitendra, makers of the unique indigenous shirt brand DEVAA. It was their parents' dream of building a House of knowledge for college and university students, especially those coming from the deprived sections of society - that was realized in the form of Indian Library, a spacious structure of six reading rooms and a conference room spanning 6000 square feet, open round the clock 365 days of the year. What's more, the library is equipped with a hygienic canteen offering snacks and beverages at subsidized rates. The Indian Library also furnishes the latest information on various courses conducted in India post SSC and HSC. Every quarter, there's a seminar on Vocational Guidance on different course and career avenues.



For long, we were on the lookout for a good library which accepts books across different knowledge spheres, but we had to suffer scores of dreadful interactions with pompous NGOs and charitable (read chair table) organizations (who seem to stand for everything but their stated objectives proudly proclaimed on their websites)


Smiling reception: Rakhi & Pratibha

Luckily, we stumbled upon the modest web site of Indian Library http://www.indianlibrarythane.com/index.php and a short and sweet telephonic inquiry made way for a pleasant, seamless experience. The lady at the reception was very polite and proactive, and honest about the submission that the library being short staffed, door step pick up of books was out of question. So, we drove down to the place with our rich repository of books and were immediately helped by the office boys in the unloading and transfer at their end.


Office peons Ajit Khan and Ashok More

Across the expanse of the reading rooms, you'll find worthy students of Arts, Commerce, Science, Government Services, Management Courses, Medical, CA, ICWA, CS, Engineering and Law engrossed in deep study. A nominal subscription fee entitles students to refer books across various fields under one roof, nearly arranged by titles and authors. They can also order a reference Book,if not readily available. A highly professional staff caters to their needs, as also attends to visitors who come for donating books, making inquiries or seeking admission. The positive energy of the place is contagiously inspiring. No wonder, it has found a place of pride in the Limca Book of Records.

This is one place you must visit at least once and if possible, do donate your used books. The American Library Association famously said "When you absolutely positively have to know, ask a librarian." We would like to humbly add "Ask the Indian Library of Thane"

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