Packaged beverages in India

Indians are remarkably different when it comes to beverage consuming behavior:
1. Temperature: India has unique demand for room temperature beverages. Even the colas and sodas which are traditionally served chilled are often consumed as room temperature. Most retailers will stock three varieties of water/beverage room temperature, slightly cold, and near freezing temperature. However I have rarely seen retailers outside India serving drinks at room temperature (it’s either cold or hot).
2. Time: Most people can spend 30-60 minute with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise) but Indian tendency of gulping rather than sipping? It is not uncommon to gulp down 2 glasses of water at one go, and the treatment of beverages is often not so different. Even as a child you are encouraged the drink the entire glass of milk (your first beverage) in one go.
3. Packaged hot beverage: Milk, tea, coffee tastes best when served hot, but most retailers are not equipped for that. So you are left with 2 choices either shell out a 100/- for a cup of coffee at CCD (or any other exotic high end tea/coffee parlor) or shell 5-10 bucks for a cheap (probably unhygienic) at a roadside hawker. The vending machine tastes like power as they don’t use fresh milk or coffee. Why is there not a market for something in the middle? A simple electrical warmer could heat up the can/bottle before it is consumed.
4. Lack of indigenous taste: traditional Indian drinks like coconut water, sugarcane, neebu pani are hard to find and the packaged beverage is laced with so much sugar that it cannot be healthy.


Careers & true Company profile

If you want an honest insight about one of the company that you plan to do business with, go to their recruitment portal. Unlike the marketing pitch the recruitment section of the company will tell you which are the major offices, which office does which activity, what are the focus areas of the company (areas where they have a large workforce, areas they are growing in).
Marketing pitches on the other hand will only promise you the moon, they will always project that the company has a large focus in the city and the business vertical that you are interested in. It will project the company to be Superman who can do anything (even though the reality says otherwise)
Job portals are a lot more focused, the kind & number of opening gives solid insights on the business activity that the company does. The location tells you what activity done where, which are sales office and which are delivery centers. The qualifications (and salary offered) give an insight of the quality of labor the company is targeting, experience levels. It will tell you what are the core areas where the company has in-house expertise and what are just pitching points. Some of these insights are difficult to gauge even after a site visit.
Why do people & project what they are not? Why is there a constant need to lie and cook up fables about slaying dragons.


Sahara: The untold story

This book by Tamal Bandyopadhyay is banned from release. Also the Sahara has filed a defamation suit against suing for damages. However the whole drama raises a few questions in my mind:
Will you and I be ever talking about the book if Sahara had not taken court action? The legal action created the free publicity which this book might never get. I remember watching so many movies, reading so many books for the only reason being that they were banned for release in India.
We might be guilt of making fun of Chinese’s communication, but people in China know and understand PR, Brand Image and publicity much better than India or rest of the world can ever can. Recently the government owned media houses were bad mouthing MNC like Johnson & Johnson, P&G, Pepsi etc. blaming them for some exaggerated truth, sins of their vendors (who are government owned monopoly and hence were not chosen by these MNC directly), and some unfortunate but not deliberate or serious mishaps. Accusing of child labor, cancer causing ingredients are always the soft targets. In most cases these MNC chose to ignore these allegations and net result such accusations faded away.
A smart PR manager only tracks the twitter & facebook feeds these days. If any negative news has not started trending, then its best to ignore it and let it fade away in oblivion. Most news flashes die in a few hours unless fanned back to life by legal action, press release or denial/clarification via the official brand manager. Hence you would step in only when required. Bad publicity feeds on the brand for its survival and any official action is seen as an official endorsement resulting in the switch from a probable “conspiracy theory” cooked by a lunatic  to a “Most likely true mystery”.


Emotion stress: not man enough!

Today I witnessed a boy’s mother complaining to a girl’s mother that her daughter teases her son and had beaten him physically. To a guy from the previous generation, this seems like an unthinkable act. (boy being beaten up by a girl, coming home crying and asking his mother to defend him). I have known a grown-up boy who calls up his girl-friend to drive a bat (the blind flying nocturnal creature) out of the bedroom.
Since ancient time man was supposed to defend his turf, sow his seeds and bring food to the table. They were supposed to be physically strong, loud, fearless/daring (to the extend of being foolish) and be the stand-up guy who protects the people he cares about. Till about 20-30 years ago a guy who cries or even shown anything remotely feminine was ridiculed. In our parents time, being fashion conscious, well groomed, soft-spoken and caring were all traits of gays and metro-sexuals (which were looked down upon). It was OK for a guy not to know how to dance and only eunuchs used to be part of choir boys.
Well in today’s generation such a man will be a social outcast. Right from school aggression and dominance is being suppressed. It is not surprising that today’s men are sissy and girls are shown more masculine traits. By consciously suppressing the genetic traits are making today’s boys be what they are not?
Einstein once said: ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’
Emotional stress comes from suppressing one’s true feeling, not expressing them, and politely apologizing to a person whose nose you want to break. No wonder the suppressing of natural male aggression has resulted in unhappier men and far more suicides as compared to females.  At this rate the male species will be extinct…. although I am not sure if that is a good thing.


Fold top Sandwich bag

Opening a plastic bag is frustrating. The 2 ends stick together stronger than a superglue and no matter how much you blow, rub or curse they don’t separate. The productivity and the temper at the restaurants and take-away counters could be reduced substantially if the daily battle to open a plastic bag be reduced from a 30sec 2 hand chore to zero.

fold top sandwich bag

At Seven-Eleven Shanghai they use a unique fold top sandwich bag. Nothing rocket science about it, one end of the bag is folded to make a sleeve hence preventing the vacuum lock that makes packing an excruciating exercise. Also there is a lot of convenience in eating because the flap (other end) floats underneath your sandwich and protects your shirt from the dripping sauce.
BTW I am yet to find a single convincing answer why Indian government has banned plastic bag less than 30-50 microns. Thicker plastic is no more environment friendly than its thinner counterpart. But it surely is bulkier making it more difficult to recycle (per bag)


Not so Petty

I read an amazing article on a 16th century economist Sir William Petty

Meet the inventor of Economics Sir William Petty

Its amazing to see that so early on he could estimate the GDP, create guessitmates as a legitimate method of prediction & planning. What should be the ideal money supply, what is velocity of money, how do banking system, interest rate and foreign trade impact the growth and development of the nation.
He estimated the value of land based on economic output and Present value. He estimated (quite accurately) the peak population & size of London, impact of full employment, division on labor on productivity.
What it pains to see that although his theories were pretty accurate foundation stone of economics, he never received any credit for this path breaking thoughts and theories. Adam Smith’s wealth of nation had no reference to his work, John Maynard Keynes recreated his work abinitio when computing aggregate demand and unemployment. Only Karl Marx Das Kapital has given him some credit.


Chinese History

This week’s economist talks about how China is trying to open up a thousand museums all across its country to promote & educate Chinese about their rich culture, heritage and history. I went to the majestic Shanghai Museum and could not stop at the painstaking methodological collection and display of the history of China. What is more that they truly understand how there cannot be one version of the history. Unlike an island, the boundaries of all big counties have shifted over time. Some regions like tibet and the north west became part of the mainstream only recently and have a different culture, history and heritage.

political boundaries of kingdoms in China throughout history

A few years ago I interacted with a Canadian born girl of Chinese origin. She was saddened by the fact that Chinese today are completely ignorant of their culture and history. Even residents of Beijing did not knew about the Tiananmen Square Massacre 1989. The European occupation, Japanese invasion (WW-2) and the communist revolution led to burning down and looting of all the major museums. The propaganda that followed resulting in rewriting the history to glorify (even creating fictitious accounts) of the parts that suiting the current ruling regime. I guess things are now changing and the museums is the right way to correct the history. After all its our culture, heritage that separates us from the barbarians.
On a sad note, it saddens me that India’s role in the current world and history is diminishing and there is nothing that we are doing to correct it. Russia imposed the history of Moscow as USSR history to its far flung regions (even Asia). Delhi is trying to do the same. The history of Buddhism & south Indian kings esp Cholas are being increasingly marginalized.
There is a saying that history repeats itself. Rather than being ignorant fools, we should spend time in learning from our past mistakes.


Samuhik| Fund your dreams

People talk about angel funding, VC but most of them are living in delusions of megalomania. Unless your idea is developed, has several use cases and customer testimonial and a steady steam of revenue in the near horizon, Indian VCs will not even touch you with a barge pole. There is a gap of seed funding and incubators who are there to genuinely support you turn your dreams into reality by helping you with small amounts of funding needed to create a proof of concept and refine your business case. Most genius ideas are hatched over a mug of beer, but unless you are able to convert the idea into something tangible, nobody will understand you.
Today I received my first listing at the P2P crowd-funding platform that I was developing. Please help me to plug this gap and help budding entrepreneurs.
Samuhik is plugging that