Moving to digital currency – a necessary Transformative shift

Today I went to a Barber shop and asked him if he would take money digitally –  Paytm, Credit card, Debit card, Net banking instant pay… by any digital means?

For this the owner said if you want all those facilities then go to a ‘HI-FI’ parlour… not here. I am a simple man with a small shop!

I said what’s small about this place? You have capacity of 5 seats, 600 sqft of space, AC, TV, you are a rich man yourself… this is hi-fi by any standards.

He said we have always been accepting only cash why change now?

To that I asked, Do you have mobile phone? he said yes, do you have Facebook account? He said yes… then I asked him was he born with these? No right! These came now and we have adopted them. Mobile wallets have come now and we can adopt them too!

The guy left furious… and the staff there said not to piss the guy anymore … he had’t paid the staff salaries for some time now… and is very pissed with Modi for the action.

I think it’s time we move to digital payments. Hard cash has to be killed because it’s not an efficient way. Of course it need not be a Knee-jerk reaction. We could do it in steps.

  • Most shops that we see run their business in black. We need to give them a dignified path to get to mainstream. Like Gandhi said ‘Paap se gruna karo; paapi se nahi’ we cannot penalise the sinners; the crusade is against the sin and not sinners.
  • Digital in rural areas will take more time – we need to subsidise and create better reach. This is painful and long drawn process but its possible! Mobile payments can be pushed to rural areas. We need a leader and a ministry dedicated for it.
  • Labour payments is a big chunk of cash payments. Jan-dhan has been successful but not sufficient. The barber I met today didn’t have an account! We need an overhaul of labour laws and get most labour into organised sector.
  • People don’t solve problems. They crib. A strong change management is required to move the country.
  • People who are found guilty need to be told how govt. is going to deal with them. There should not be any ifs and buts. Financial offence is not criminal offence. We need to deal with financial crime in ways its constitutional.

Country has cancer and it will be painful to get rid of it. Black money is building more black money. Ability to play a business in black is a competitive advantage and govt. has to ensure this advantage is not given to players. It’s fuelling many bad things like money for vote, terrorism, bad infrastructure. It’s killing the country. Country has to go through hard times to get cured.

It’s not like cancer patients did some sin – but they have to still go through it all. Similarly most poor people don’t have enough money to be eligible to pay tax and there is no chance for them to have black money – yes its unaccounted but even if one accounts for the same there won’t be any money that is taxable. But they will have to go through the pain of standing in queue for money. Banks have capacity optimised for regular transactions and in situations like this banks will not be able to provide service that easily. They too have limited resources. But they are doing their best.

One last argument, which didn’t take place but is usually discussed is that… I shall pay tax but the govt. is misusing the money. Agreed, govt. is not using the money prudently and there is corruption. But things have to move from worst to bad. We need to take that battle too. We need to hold Govt. more accountable too. Not paying tax is not the way because if everyone did that, we won’t have defence and we won’t have anything. India is a nation where the culture is to think about dharma and our dharma is to pay tax. Our dharma is also to hold the govt. accountable and efficient and effective.

The frog that fell into a well

Have you heard of the phrase ‘frog in the well’? It denotes nature of mind which ignores the big picture and focuses and just a minute aspect at any given time. The Frog essentially starts to think that the well is the world and starts to work under this constraint. As such there is no problem with this concept other than the fact that the frog is putting unnecessary and untrue constraint on itself. It seriously limits the possibilities of what it could achieve.

With that context I would like to talk about a frog that knew the world; which wondered the the earth and on a fateful day fell into a deep well! It quickly figured out the constraints of living in the well and its depleting memory meant that it slowly forgot the world. While a faint memory of the world still existed; stiff constraints of surviving in the deep well meant that the frog is fully focused on day to day survival… slowly but surely the world was just the well for the frog.

I was watching a movie where the hero was sent to London for education, where he gets educated in finest school and just as he earns his degree, his parents call him back to the village. Once settled, he realizes how trivial the problems of the village are. He had seen the world and could clearly see how he could be part of a bigger play. But given the constraints, falls in the well, and continues living in the village. He is so engrossed with solving problems of the village that eventually, the village becomes his world. The trivial issues of the village consumes him completely making him the frog that falls in the well.

If a frog is destined to live in a well; what can it do?

In the east, many including the Buddhists believe that detachment is the way to go. They realized that one typically moves from one well to another – a losing game eventually! so appreciating this fact, living a detached life was seen as one way to create necessary condition to live liberated.

Once Brahma falls into the same “frog in the well” mentality and starts to feel that he is the most powerful in the universe. When told that Krishna, a small boy in Vrindavan, is the supreme lord; Brahma flies straight to test Krishna. There Krishna is seen playing with his friends in a beautiful garden and the agitated Brahma abducts all friends of Krishna and takes them all to Brahma-lok, the adobe of Brahma. Seeing this, Krishna takes forms of all his friends and goes back to each houses – not letter anyone in the village know what happened. Seeing the smart way Krishna manages the situation, Brahma realizes his mistake and comes to Krishna flying in his swan. While reaching Vrindavan, Brahma sees millions of other Brahmas flying into Vrindavan to see Krishna. It was now that Brahma realizes that there are many Brahmas in the world and that he is just one creator among many – a typical “Frog in the well” attitude had taken over Brahma blinding him completely. From the story, I find that the ancient Hindu texts favor a storytelling method of reminding people that they are in a well and there is world outside.

I believe introspection is the starting point – to understand how we sometimes behave like a frog in the well and to believe that there is a world outside to conquer.



Fashion is Important

Since my childhood I always heard stories of asetic people and cherised living a minimalistic life. Happiness was always simplicity; Fashion was bad… Really bad!

Gandhi gave away his dresses and took to a simple dhoti … And he became Mahatma! And Buddha… Did not retain even that! And a great many famous and rich Indians are living a minimalistic life… Azim Premji, NRN, Gopinath… are all heros. This was my context.

It takes experience to realise, fasion is not bad by itself. Yes, testing cosmetics on animals is horrific; A byproduct, which now recides more in history. Today’s fashion is much more…. It means delivering better experience by better design. And experience includes looks, smell, touch and a lot lot more.

Did you know that a research was done to understand why some people are attracted to some smells? It turns out that ancient chinese always knew the connection between olfactory and the brain and inturn emotions. Yes, your colleagues’ purfume can make you happier!

Fashion can help you live a more content life with just a few things. Minimal in terms of number. So as we move towards a world of abundance, fashion will help move from ‘having more’ to ‘having better’ and feeling better and live a minimalist life.

So all you people who want to live asetic and minimaist life, loosen you purse and broaden you mind. Learn fashin read fashion and lead a fashionable minimalistic life that makes you and people around u experience life better.

For what client is willing to pay for?

Value Adding

I was in a marketing class when I had a transformative experience; we were introduced to a new idea that jolted a deep rooted faith. It unfolded like this; we were discussing “what is Value Add?” and several of us spoke about our understanding but the final conclusion was that “Value Addition” is activities for which client is willing to pay. And it had a very important corollary, Non-Value Adding activities are those activities for which client is NOT willing to pay.

My earlier philosophy was that a company must do what it believes is required– irrespective of whether the client is willing to pay for it or not. I believed that cost of such activities for which client is not willing to pay for should be added on top of the cost of activities for which the client is willing to pay for. However after paradigm shift, I started believing that non value added activates should be at best be eliminated!

Steve Jobs once famously quoted “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” But this quote didn’t have any meaning for me.

A few days back, I was at a very famous 5 star hotel for my holidays. My family and I were awestruck at the beauty of the hotel – the architecture was phenomenal. On the last night of our stay, we invited our relatives for dinner and we were thoroughly impressed by the hospitality and comforts. After a sumptuous dinner; my wife and I walked our guests to their bike. We had a good walk until we reached the basement – When we reached the car park we realised it was a different world! It was at best shabby.  Then we walked to the bike parking and the situation worsened – it had instructions all around – parking at owner’s risk, don’t leave helmet on the bike etc… We felt bad that such a beautiful hotel had such a bad basement. It was dirty, no paint … plain ugly! It hit us more badly when we realised this parking was mainly for the employees who took such good care of us! It also made our guests go to a place so bad before they could get to the restaurant.

I felt why did the hotel leave the place so bad? I stumbled upon the fact that normally clients never get to this place! We never had before! We left our cars to chauffers for parking!

What do MOST clients pay for? Food, beautiful rooms and corridors, hospitality… Those are all top class! Who cares about comfort of the employees and their parking? So it becomes a “Non-Value Adding” activity and cost.