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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Bonsai businesses are not what we need

If there is only one mind and one hand behind all efforts, the growth of any business initiative will be limited like a bonsai plant

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Here goes the story of a beggar who lived under a peepal tree adjacent to a temple in a village. He used to sit over a wooden box for beggary.  During the day time he would be sitting on the box and at night he would sleep over it.  For several years, he continued with this practice.

One day a stranger passed through the muddy path in front of the peepal tree.  He stopped walking and stared at the beggar for a couple of minutes. Then the stranger asked, “what is in this box?” With his usual soberness, the beggar replied, “I have been living over this box for years. But I never bothered to check what is inside it.”

Painstakingly, they opened the box together. Both were stunned by the sight of the treasure inside

After hearing his reply, the stranger suggested to open the wooden box.  Though the beggar was reluctant to open the box initially, he accepted the stranger’s suggestion after much cajoling. Painstakingly, they opened the box together. Both were stunned by the sight of the treasure inside.

We never bother to think about the treasure over which we have been sitting upon

It’s only then the beggar realized what he had been doing for years. He was sitting over a heap of gold coins and precious stones to seek alms.

At some instances, we are like this beggar.  We never bother to think about the treasure over which we have been sitting upon. We end our lives even without realizing the truth about this treasure which can change our lives upside down. But when a business person realizes that each of his/her venture is a treasure, the world around changes.

A good majority of our businesses can be compared to bonsai plants. It’s like confining the growth by putting it in a small pot. We are content by treating it the way it is. We might even be proud of its beauty. By growing it in the pot, we are trying our best to limit the plant’s growth to certain level. Are we even able to realize that we are doing the same to our businesses?

We can grow a huge peepal tree in a small pot and make it a bonsai. Owing to the limitations of our perspective, we are forcing the businesses which can grow like a big tree to a bonsai.  It’s not the lack of vision or unawareness that curtail the prospects and possibilities of these businesses, but a mentality which is not ready to opt for boundary-less growth.

Entrepreneurs need to overcome fear and suspicion to get the thrill of adventurism

We are happy with bonsai businesses. We find happiness and peace in limitations and we look at growth with fear. This attitude is the greatest hindrance for the exponential growth of any business.

Sense the fear inside

Do you have a mentality which is scared of growth? The mentality that the growth after a certain level is beyond your capabilities will hinder the scope and expansion of businesses. The attitude that the business should always something which can be handled by yourself makes even highly potential business a bonsai.

We can grow a huge peepal tree in a small pot and make it a bonsai. Image: Pixabay

If the business person is thinking that the business should centre around him/her only, then that small pot for bonsai is ready.  A business person tends to prune his venture unnecessarily due to the illogical concept that one would lose the control over own business if it let to grow and expand after a certain level. We need to check whether we have this pessimistic attitude.

Surpass faithlessness

If you are suspicious that everybody around are untrustworthy and if you are thinking that all will cheat you, you yourself is creating blocks to the business growth. Without trusting those who stand with you, growth is impossible. The root cause of trust-deficit is the fear that someone is lurking behind to grab an opportunity to cheat you.

If the businessperson can trust the integrity of those who are working for him/her, growth will be easy and smooth. Then one could transcend the boundaries and the business will mark growth as a net result of combined efforts. If the efforts are coming only from a single person, growth will be limited like a bonsai.

Make the ground ready

The responsibility of creating a conducive ground on par with the expected growth of the business is in the shoulders on none but the business person. All back-up facilities should be created to facilitate the growth of the business.Setting aside the fear and suspicion inside the mind, one has to create a manageable business strategy.

It is easy to take care of a bonsai by yourself, but for a huge tree your lone care won’t be suffice

One has to painstakingly combine the people and strategies to create a loophole less mechanism.

Considering the unending prospects of business, one should also be able to professionalize it.  It is easy to take care of a bonsai by yourself, but for a huge tree your lone care won’t be suffice. Even in this era of technology and professionalism, we can see many who keep their businesses like bonsai plants. Ironically, many in this group are business persons with tremendous growth potential.

The only suggestion one can give to them is overcoming the fear inside. Businessman is an adventurist, who always plays with problems. Entrepreneurs need to overcome fear and suspicion to get the thrill of adventurism.

Remember, a boundary-less world with unlimited scope is awaiting you. And bonsai plants are not what we need.

Sudheer Babu is a popular author, entrepreneur and management consultant based in Kerala. He is the Managing Director of De Valor Consultants.

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

New innings, Sachin Tendulkar invests in Unacademy

Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar enters into a strategic investment with Unacademy, becomes brand ambassador of popular online learning platform

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Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar has picked up a strategic stake in Unacademy, India’s largest online learning platform.

The online learning platform has announced that it has signed a strategic partnership with cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. According to Unacademy, the vision of this partnership is to provide holistic learning for all.

Unacademy Learners will be coached and mentored by the legend through a series of live interactive classes, which everyone can access free of cost on the Unacademy platform. The iconic cricketer has been roped in to serve as a brand ambassador for Unacademy.

“Our focus at Unacademy has always been to democratize education and create holistic learning solutions that go beyond traditional forms of education. Sachin’s life and journey are a beacon to the values of resilience and determination in the face of insurmountable odds. With this partnership, we are creating an unmatched learning experience by having Sachin share his life lessons with our learners and coach them. We are working on developing a deeper content-led partnership, the contours of which will be revealed in the coming months,” said Gaurav Munjal, Co-Founder and CEO, Unacademy Group.

“I have always believed in the power of sports as a medium that not only unifies people but also gives invaluable lessons which can help individuals in any walk of life. It has always been my endeavor to share my learnings of the game with young girls and boys and inspire them to be the best version of themselves. As a learning platform, Unacademy has always bridged geographical boundaries by making learning accessible from any part of India. When my vision matched with Unacademy’s mission to democratise education, we decided to come together to create a unique learning experience,” said Sachin Tendulkar.

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

GDP Collapse: Repercussion of India’s War with the Pandemic

A recent report suggests that at least 6.6 million Indians employed in white collar jobs are now unemployed

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Once praised by global experts and those at the World Health Organization (WHO) for effective lockdown measures and pro-active leadership at the helm, India’s strategy for defeating COVID-19 seems to have been at the receiving end of a double-edged sword. With over 97,497 deaths overall and roughly 1,200 deaths every day, India is second to only the US in terms of overall deaths, and now ahead of the US in terms of being a global hotspot of daily cases of infection with roughly 86,000 cases per day.

Since the pandemic has now hit India severely, the lockdown has come into question for its style and implementation. At one point, the Prime Minister ordered a national lockdown within four hours prior to midnight and had forgotten apparently that the migrant labourers are stranded on the streets possibly infecting more people as they go back to their native villages – which in itself implies a failure of the lockdown.

For India, such a GDP decline is a massive kickback and a serious issue for India’s own standing in the eyes of its own people and internationally

In fact, a lockdown was designed to contain the spread of the virus for a brief amount of time so that the health professionals are able to access enough medicines, PPEs, ventilators and oxygen to treat the COVID patients. Although this is rather effective on hindsight, the downside is that the Indian economy, which was at a growth rate of 2% last year, would invariably collapse.

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Although lockdown has been lifted now, the coronavirus has ruthlessly exploited the population density of India along with the large population, with the cases accelerating exponentially per day (with cases reaching almost 100,000 a day). Thankfully, the death rates are low and getting lower, in proportion to the vast number of cases.

What could be another reason for the lockdown to have failed to decrease the curve? The Indian-American winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economical Sciences, Abhijit Banerjee, mentioned that the lockdown had been too early. The cases had not yet been large enough for a lockdown to be deemed necessary. In fact, what India should have done was to ramp up tracing and testing as done in nations such as Japan, South Korea and China. Even the state of Kerala had appeared successful initially by the system of smart lockdowns and doing a full on trace and test campaign implemented with diligence and care by district officials.

Moreover, the pandemic in India is now in its seventh month since the first phase of lockdown was initiated in March. In fact this has inevitably strained the health ecosystem so harshly that some regions have absolutely no manpower to help treat the rising number of patients showing symptoms of COVID-19. It’s not unusual anymore to read news about people dying on the streets because there are no hospital beds to take them to.

The economy on the other hand, was affected as well

This implies that during the lockdown, there were far less measures being implemented to increase procurement of hospital beds, PPEs, oxygen supply and ventilators, thus further diluting its’ effect. Nevertheless, it’s vital to understand that India’s health infrastructure was already fragile to begin with and combining this with the population and population density of India, “success in lowering infection rates and deaths” would be subject to a debate.

Additionally, the Director of AIIMS Delhi, Dr. Randeep Guleria, speculated that India’s already in the middle of a second wave. However, there is some hope for next year, although it’s not immediate relief. AstraZeneca has tied up with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for producing 1 billion doses out of which 500 million doses are for India. The Russian Health Ministry has suggested that Sputnik-V may be produced by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories for approximately 300 million doses in India If one more lockdown were to be implemented, the economy would sink further. A third indigenous vaccine, Covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech underwent successful animal trials on rhesus monkeys and is scheduled to begin Phase III trials from next week in Lucknow, UP on a projected scale of 30,000 volunteers.

The economy on the other hand, was affected as well.  The serious downfall with the lockdown measures is the economic crash by about 23.9% in the first quarter (April to June) and the resulting employment crisis that has left over 23% without jobs. Although since lockdown was lifted and the economy was slightly better off than what it was in the first quarter, the GDP growth each quarter is going to be weaker still. The government’s $260 billion relief package has not reached the beneficiaries as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his Mann Ki Baat speech a few months ago.

A recent report suggests that at least 6.6 million Indians employed in white collar jobs are now unemployed. They have taken a massive hit as well. Investment into India has been considerably low — with $20 billion being the figure put out by the Ministry of Finance.  The response of the Ministry of Finance has been rather mute and in fact outright evasive over issues — such as migrant labour deaths, which had gripped the nation’s attention during the early months of the lockdown. For instance, the central government said at the new Lok Sabha session that they didn’t have a record of migrant labour deaths, in essence suggesting that they were not concerned enough about the humanitarian crisis at large. 

This is not to say that India has failed significantly because the virus had been after all an “Act of God”, with the phrase being a poignant reminder from the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Major world economies such as the US, with 9.1% decline or the UK with 20% decline are less affected in comparison to India where a large number of people are making less wages than much of anywhere in the world and has high income inequality.

India’s nevertheless supposed to have a grim, but much better figure than -23.9% decline for the second quarter. According to the eminent economist Pronob Sen, the GDP will decline by between 13-14% in the 2020-21 financial year.

For India, such a GDP decline is a massive kickback and a serious issue for India’s own standing in the eyes of its own people and internationally. India’s achievements in the past decades included getting at least 300 million people out of poverty, but this economic catastrophe induced by a pandemic will undo whatever progress was achieved in previous years.

For India, this pandemic has been a tragedy and a catastrophe

However, as the saying goes, if we are knocked back to square one, the only way to go about is forward. Hence, the positive here is that India can serve as an open market for companies to fill up and help boost employment opportunities. Moreover, several economic reforms such as the most recent Farm Bills, that were passed by the legislation controversially, has the potential to shake up the agricultural sector from centuries of medieval practices and systemic exploitation — although farmers are staging protests across the country during this pandemic, arguing that these three bills passed were against their interest. It’s primarily fuelled by a fear that the government’s planning to rob them off the Minimum Support Price (MSP) that had assured the farmer of protection from losing out on minimum income.

To a point, the Finance Minister’s recent comments on the crisis as an “Act of God” which is rather remarkable since the pandemic sure was God’s play, but the decision for the nationwide lockdown and the subsequent economic fallout was clearly the act of humans. For India, this pandemic has been a tragedy and a catastrophe. However, there is hope and light since India is a relatively young population and that explains why there is a large recovery rate and a lower death rate. However, COVID-19 is possibly humanity’s awakening to the critical flaws that exist in our economic structure and even health response and infrastructure.

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

AtmaNirbhar App Challenge; Chingari is India’s best app in ‘social category’

Chingari wins AtmaNirbhar App Challenge. Voted as the best ‘Made in India’ app in ‘Social category’

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Chinese apps have been facing the heat in India for the last few months. Citing security reasons, Modi government banned 59 Chinese apps, including the much popular TikTok and Helo. After that the government has been encouraging home-grown startups to fill the vacuum created by the ban, and hence introduced the Atmanirbhar Bharat App challenge.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave us a clarion call and the Chingari team works on his vision of self-reliant India

Sumit Ghosh, co-founder and CEO of Chingari App

On Friday, Hyderabad-based Chingari app becomes the best in the social category of Atmanirbhar app challenge.  The app has a user base of 5.1M+users.  The Ministry of Information and Technology conducted the App Innovation Challenge with an aim of identifying the best Indian apps that are already used by the people, and have the potential to scale up as world-class apps.

According to Chingari, Make in India for India and the World is their agenda. “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave us a clarion call and the Chingari team works on his vision of self-reliant India. We provide features for the requirements of a young Bharat,” Sumit Ghosh, co-founder and CEO of Chingari App, said.

Biswatma Nayak, another co-founder of the Chingari app, said, “This recognition has given a new boost to our team. We will strive hard to provide our users a seamless social network experience.”

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