Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When you Start-up, be innocent – it helps

As we grow up, life puts us through varied experiences – we happen to grow up thinking innocence is not cool. In order to be cool, boundaries had to be stretched and broken, one needs to hold information well beyond his reach to be able to succeed in life, and that this approach was rewarded through popularity and possibly success – always prepared more than your peers. There is this false belief that this lack of innocence after all is life – living a life of compromise.

But this burden pushes us to expect a lot from ourselves, and everyone around us – and we shall slip into living a life of regret, harbouring moments of failures than being happy about what life benevolently bestows upon us. With time, one shall come to see losing our innocence as a major regret – a sort of slow, downward spiral; not able to enjoy the precious little moments in life. In our intertwined set of expectations from ourselves, somewhere deep down we hold a lot of expectations from others in our life – for us to fulfil our expectations, we start to hold them against it. This will only lead to barriers and we give up a lot in this process. We will lose our most important ability – motivation to try.

It would not be right to think if it is good to keep this attitude of innocence when going out into the "real world” – please be convinced that hiding our innocence is much easier, but not necessarily the right step forward when we start-up and also remain happy in life. Once we start building the walls to protect ourselves, our innocence is lost and it would be hard to try again – happily.

It is important we realize happiness is in our ability to try – and it is a beautiful thing. Give it a try, be innocent and start-up.

Monday, September 15, 2014


శ్వాసను  ఆగిపోని 
కట్టను  కాలిపోని  
కానీ మిగిలేది 
నువ్వు అన్న అనుభూతే మిత్రమ ||

వికసించిన పువ్వును  రాలిపోని
దాని వద్ద వాలిన తుమ్మెద జారిపోని 
కానీ మిగిలేది
కొన్ని క్షణాల పరిమలమే మిత్రమ ||

నదులను  సముద్రంలో కలిసిపోని
సముద్రపు అలలని తీరాలు దాటిపోని
కానీ మిగిలేది
చివరికి అది నీరేకదా మిత్రమ ||

వేసే దుస్తులు వాడిపోని
సేవించే ఆహరం మారిపోని
కానీ మిగిలేది
నిరాకకై ఎదురుచూసే నేనే మిత్రమ ||

                                                                              -         అభిజిత్ జయంతి

Friday, July 04, 2014

Kafkaesque Fantasies of Starting-up

Among the macro-social variables that fuel the fantasies of empirical growth in an entrepreneur’s mind, usually identified as being highly correlated with his/her prior growth trajectory, two important anomalies stand out – finances and the ability to milk his/her “network”. Did you ever wonder why few slacking kids of rich celebrities make it with their boorish ideas while you are stuck, where you are – even with a brilliant idea?
There are a lot of start-up accelerators, advisories who give you the carrot – to help mould/nurture your business plans, but rarely tell you the bitter truth. Allow me to let the rabbit out of the bag – you will find limited to no literature that studies the issue of causality and the channels through which both one’s financial standing and his/her network play a crucial role. I wish to explore this link and its influence on the balance of flight, as a start-up takes off.
Although, it might seem obvious – I wish to look at it more logically. Specifically, I wish to take a theoretical route to analyse the relation. Exploring the link between financial standing and ease of flight is interesting for several reasons. First, if we find that the level of financial standing does have an effect on relative ease of flight – it shall underline an important start-point for entrepreneurship, i.e. it is not just about having a brilliant idea or clocking in hours of enterprising efforts with enthusiasm, but there is a need for monetary support to begin with, and therefore increases the priority someone might enjoy, in making it happen while others find it hard to cross the start-point. Second, exploring this link, we will be able to appreciate the fact – one’s financial standing will have implications on his/her influence over milking the “network”. Well, in short – let us reason out the roots for ‘Fake it till you make it’ mantra for entrepreneurship.
Let us frame a simple model for an entrepreneurial sale using the theory of Negotiation. With limited capacity to fuel the engines for the flight, an entrepreneur always finds himself with a poor BATNA. For the uninitiated, in negotiation theory, the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement or BATNA is the course of action that will be taken by a party if the current negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached. In the case of an entrepreneur, with limited resources – with limited negotiating power, the alternatives are poor – in extreme cases, there is no alternative at all. Likewise, if an entrepreneur is not in a position to milkhis/her “network” – there are no good alternatives.
Opportunities and associated BATNAs form the vicious cycle of survival for an entrepreneur. As a result, one finds himself/herself stuck in the cycle of survival but never scale up. Drawing an analogy to the conventional Ricardian model of technological differences across countries explaining international trade flows - theoretically and empirically, cross-entrepreneur variance in the level of financial standing and his/her “network” explains the relative ease of negotiating a deal to begin with and thus his/her start-up taking flight.
On the one hand, reforming the financial standing of an entrepreneur might have implications for balance of flight – it is next to impossible to target this aspect of the problem, because the inherit comparative in financial standing fuels the entrepreneurial spirit.
On the other hand, the effect of providing “network” on the level and structure for balance of flight plays a positive role – but it again depends on the level of financial standing. If there are efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in all sincerity – the focus should be on providing an equal playing field for making the right connections and enabling entrepreneurs to milk the “network”.
If any Government or an agency seeks to generate entrepreneurial spirit, focus should rest on overpowering the dependency of social attitudes on financial standing, and provide a singular platform for networking. Such efforts shall tackle the distortionary framework of the society, which impedes the entrepreneurial spirit with classification into various monetary classes.
So, the next time you consider incubators and accelerators – the question to ask, is not what they provide for in cash or kind, but do they bring/give access to the “network”?
- Abhijith 
Place: Abu Dhabi
P.S.: While my theoretical model explores a singular channel of how financial standing affects the balance of flight, sometimes, the empirical evidence (real life experiences) presents natural mechanisms for possible reverse causality and simultaneity bias.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Unfounded Meaning of Secularism in India

I wish to begin this post by exploring the basic meaning of Secularism. Secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries. One manifestation of Secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another manifestation of Secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs and/or practices. Secularism draws its intellectual roots from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius and Epicurus; from Enlightenment thinkers such as Denis Diderot, Voltaire, Baruch Spinoza, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine; and from more recent freethinkers and atheists such as Robert Ingersoll and Bertrand Russell.
The purposes and arguments in support of Secularism vary widely. In European laicism, it has been argued that Secularism is a movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values (also known as secularization). This type of Secularism, on a social or philosophical level, has often occurred while maintaining an official state church or other state support of religion. In the United States, some argue that state Secularism has served to a greater extent to protect religion and the religious from governmental interference, while Secularism on a social level is less prevalent. Within countries as well, differing political movements support Secularism for varying reasons.
The term Secularism stands conveniently abused by many a learnt member of the Indian Polity. Although the term was new, the general notion of free thought on which it was based had existed throughout history. While in India, the term assumed a rather sorry state of use. Anything and everything related to a specific religion i.e. Hinduism and thoughts related thereof were propagated to be non-secular while holding thoughts in line with other religions were not included in such a definition – absurd abuse of position by political masters and intellectual retards, to say the least.
The term Secularism should have been used to describe a class of political views that promote a social order separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticizing religious belief. While at it, if we were to look at the Indian Political Landscape, most of the Political Parties which profess religious views and seek to represent a certain section of the society will have to be termed Non-Secular. It is important that we understand that Secularism is not an argument against any religion, it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of any religion or faith; rather it helps separate the State from Religion, thus fostering general wellbeing. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever.
Few confused hard-line Secularists seek to advocate religious propositions related to particular faith/religion to be epistemologically illegitimate, warranted by neither reason nor experience, thus fostering support for other religions. It is imperative to understand that movement away/towards a particular religion does not necessarily constitute Secularism. I hope to see the new breed of Politicians in India are well-educated and understand the true essence of what Secularism stands for.
                                                                                                            -          Abhijith Jayanthi
Place: Hong Kong

Date: 16th May 2014

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Successful Entrepreneur: Scuttling Through Life

I begin this article as a critic of entrepreneurship – I am concerned about the implications that historiography has for reading into an entrepreneur's journey who lived through the events of growth. The enormity of the intellectual displacement which one experiences during the journey is difficult to comprehend. The constant sense of thought transitions and urgency to conquer related to the possibility of tasting success continue to occur every single day.

By the time the transitions are finally over, possibly zillion of ideas and methods have had crossed the newly created boundaries of growth trajectory – that everyone willfully define in their Business Plans, carrying with them memories of a kind of internal conflict that one fights with his/her own immediate surroundings, people in his/her life. The journey appears to be frighteningly commonplace with repeated occurrences and the displaced individual   called entrepreneur will respond to calls of his/her journey and also that of his /her community – sometimes involving violence, threat to their survival, security for the future, and cultural continuity including finding a companion in life. 

During this conflux of emotional servitude, most of the entrepreneurs succumb, thousands of them separated from their families and communities – resigning to the fate of failure, not able to handle the pressures of negative recognition. What qualifies as the 'rightful' success story is for this world to decide and sing praises about, but seldom do we celebrate failure. Something is fundamentally wrong with the particular construction of an entrepreneur’s identity in our country – one that shall not honor their experiences and I implore everyone to appreciate, for there are multitude of examples showcasing the concept of rejection agency in and through literary and historical narratives of the 'everyday' stories of entrepreneurship.

I am reminded of a Haryanvi Couplet which aptly showcases the struggle that an entrepreneur needs to go through – for a sense of identity and accomplishment:

Aur yeh beti jise tum saath
mere kankthiyon se dekhte ho
Beshumar haathon ne loota hai ise.

(And this daughter, whom you observe out of the corner of your eyes, sitting by my side - how many have looted her?)

The narrator of the poem represents the identity of his daughter as a possession to be looted. His rhetorical question, "How many have looted her" is embedded with a societal ideology that marks an entrepreneur's identities and their efforts as symbols of community honor and 'tradition' and makes them a subject of everyone’s judgment. Seldom does one see beyond the obvious – and understand there is a huge struggle to get to this stage – where one is at present. It takes more than learning about an entrepreneur’s journey, to truly appreciate their efforts.
- Abhijith Jayanthi                                         

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Final Frontier

The question that is vexing policy makers and analysts alike worldwide is climate change — is sending jitters across the World. One of the ripple effects, is food security, crisis thereof. India has not yet experienced riots over rising food prices linked to inflation that have hit other countries like Zimbabwe or Argentina – if an added effect of climate change is added to this, it is  a worrying signal. In the capital, Delhi, milk costs 11% more than last year. Edible oil prices have climbed by a whopping 40% over the same period. More crucially, rice prices have risen by 20% and prices of certain lentils by 18%. Rice and lentils comprise the staple diet for many Indians.

With a rapidly deteriorating climate condition and lack of consensus with regard to way forward, food security situation in India – a country with over billion people is a definite cause for concern, not only for Indian policy-makers but also other economies, considering earning/spending capacities impact global consumption in general. We are dangerously close to the final frontier and we will need to appreciate the fact that with the changing world, the chances that we will see a shift in terms of climate and environment around us is immense while at the same time, whether such a change is for the better is in doubt.

-          -  Abhijith

P.S.: The image displayed here is an award winning poster on Global Warming 

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Indian Democratic Experiment: On the Brink of Failure

In the recent years, let’s face it – Dr. Manmohan Singh has pulled down the standards.  As a result of which scores of people, both ordinary citizenry with extraordinary belief in self, and extraordinary members of industry with ordinary acumen otherwise have begun their evening stroll in the garden of Indian democracy. This is a dangerous signal for the health of democracy, and I intend to discuss the pros and cons of it in this article.

Firstly, it is remarkable to appreciate the active involvement of the citizenry – given their will and necessity, stemming from ever increasing inflation, and lack of employment opportunities. They represent the ill-informed, but passionate countrymen, filled with energy and are seeking a change, to sell their faith and loyalties to. On the other side, we have (wo)men of repute in their particular industries/lines of work – with stagnant career progression curves and negligible connect with ground realities otherwise sensing an opportunity to take the plunge, as a natural next step. There is an eminent danger that the former set of population fall prey to the latter set because of their overt packaging of selves. Ultimately, due to lack of innovation in terms of governance – considering the latter set is devoid of such intellectual faculties, except for transitioning into a new role on their career progression graphs; old set of policy measures and governance methods are bound to continue.

Given the limited acumen but bloated egos of the latter, national development that has sustained considerable damage in the recent past, will broaden creating a great divide – pushing the country towards civil war. International funds and investors (referred to in this articles as funders) will re-align their priorities to tackle this broader divide, as reflected in the 2008 - 2012 FDI Drain, pushing the economy further down.

It must be remembered in that connection that equality and democracy are not synonymous in spite of the fact that these two terms are frequently confounded in "democracies" with an aristocratic-liberal historical background. Numerical majorities are not necessarily keen to preserve equality in a democracy; considering the demand for equality (and related privileges in terms of treatment and subsidies) always arose from select minorities – leading to appeasement schemes.  Genuinely "democratic" societies can be brutally cruel to those who dare to be "different" in an unconventional way.

Our evaluation and adaptation methodology needs to be updated to reflect more systematically the broader inclusion, rather than pursuing a change of leadership – at least without adequate political training.  Enterprising in Public life has become the new trend, and is exceeding enterprising innovation in private sector. This will create continued pressure on treasury, with ill-informed choices and decisions – putting the economy at further risk. This will culminate in failure of the Indian democracy experiment.

- Abhijith Jayanthi