Friday, December 29, 2006

Is Metro Cash and Carry really cheap?

I was going through Metro Cash and Carry's Metro Mail (21.12.06 to 03.01.2007).

I find that the prices quoted are not at all competitive. Giving some comparison here for your information:

Nokia 6030 is quoted at Rs.3946 while as per my knowledge its available for around Rs.3500 will bill

Nokia N73 Music Edition is quoted at Rs.24845 while in Big Bazaar Bangalore the model was costing Rs.24,600

MotoFlip Motorolla W220 is quoted at Rs 3985 (The magazine says MRP is Rs 4341) but Motorola Ads in the Television show the price at 3995, just Rs 10 more than Metro's price.

Olympus FE 170 is quoted at Rs 9175 with 512 MB card (MRP 9995) while this model is being sold by other sellers at Rs.9995 along with 512 SD card and Rechargeable batteries and Battery charger worth Rs 1095

Similarly for other products, I couldn't find a reasonable price difference...

If I'm a shopkeeper and I have to source my supplies from Metro CC, I need to get them at a rate far cheaper than my regular supply chain and distribution mechanism. Now that Metro has set its foot strongly,have they started increasing their margin?

This post is for your information.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Asset Vs Liability

Length: Less than one page
Keywords: Wealth management,financial advice

Though I’m desperately missing a high end multi media device to capture image, listen music and for other entertainment activities, I’m repeatedly suppressing my temptations to buy a high end mobile phone with camera and music player. While I can afford to buy a 20K gadget, what’s preventing me from spending money is the concept of Asset vs. Liability.

What is asset and what is a liability?

Understanding this concept of Asset and Liability is the primary need for any wealth management strategy. You should be able to differentiate what is an asset and what is a liability and focus on building asset first.

Any investment/spending, which, over a period of time pays for itself and starts generating additional value are assets. On the other hand, if you need to keep spending again and again on an object, it is a liability.

For example, a house is a liability if it is unoccupied and you keep spending on it in for tax, maintenance, insurance etc. If it generates money/saves money in terms of rent etc, then in becomes an asset.

A mobile phone is never an asset, unless you use it for some professional purposes and earn some money. A bike is an asset if it results in savings compared to money you might have spent for Auto/Bus etc. Knowledge is an asset as you can use it to earn money. Hobbies like drinking and smoking are liabilities as you keep spending on them and never get anything back in return, except diseases on which you’ll have to spend again.

Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad is a wonderful book for those who wish to know more about wealth management.

At the beginning of our career, we should focus on building assets, which over a period of time, start generating additional revenue and offset the dependency on primary revenue source. If we spend all money on liabilities, the savings will drop and pressure to work hard and earn more will keep increasing. We’ll work for company to earn salary, we’ll work for Government to pay tax, and we’ll work for bank to repay the loan. We’ll never be able to work for ourselves. Investing in assets, on the other hand, will ensure that your money works for you, even if you stop working for money.

Not that we should never indulge in little luxuries life has to offer, just that we need to be cautious in our spending habits. Living in an otherwise spendthrift generation we should understand that savings has advantages other than tax avoidance as well...

Related: Work as an independent Consultant, If you can

Sunday, December 17, 2006

How to select good tender coconut

Do you drink tender coconut water? I do. Those used to Pepsi and Coke may ignore this post.

If you’re buying tender coconut from a road side vendor (its predominantly available at roadside only), how do you select a tender coconut?

Why I asked above question is because of following reasons:
Tender coconut doesn’t come with a manufacturing date, expiry date, batch number, MRP and other such parameters. They’re not uniform in their size, content volume, taste and other details. Because it is straight from the tree, each one is different. So when buying one you have to select one.

This post attempts to give you some advice on how to select best tender coconut for drinking, while buying the same from a vendor. This helps you get best out of your money.

Tender coconut has two parts: Water, and Coconut gravy (Coconut meat-Thanks to Dharani for this input). Many people only drink the water part of it while few love the gravy as well. A vendor usually asks if you want water or the cream but even he may go wrong in selection

These are the key points to keep in mind while selecting a tender coconut:

The vendor: The vendor must be physically strong to cut the coconut efficiently. A small buy or weak lady may not be able to work efficiently on the coconut and you may loose some water.

The size: Select the medium one. The big coconut doesn’t mean more water. The water volume will be minimum in an over ripe coconut. Also avoid too small ones.

Colour: It should be green without much gray patches or strips. Too much of gray a areas on the surface indicate that the coconut is getting over ripe.
tender coconut
Fix the price before hand: Coconut vendors vary price depending on size and other parameters. Fix the price first else you may have to pay a rupee or two more

Don’t let them select: Vendors usually select the one they get their hands on. There might be a better piece nearby. Glance over and select one for yourself.
The straws
Be cautious while using the straw to drink water: Many vendors simply recycle the straws already used and thrown by others. All good effects of the tender coconut will be nullified if you use a dirty/contaminated straw.
Parcel or to Drink:
If you’re allowing the vendor to select the coconut, always tell him it’s for drinking on the spot, later tell him its for parcel. If you directly tell him its for parcel, chances are that you may not get a better deal, because, knowing that you wont open it there he may not choose a good one.

Related: Coco Fresco: Hyderabad's new concept in selling tender coconut * Upadhya's tender coconut opener * Branding tender coconuts with a sticker 

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Govt guarantee for LIC

Genre: Insurance, Money, IRDA, India
Length: 1 Page

Should Government of India withdraw sovereign guarantee its has been giving to the insurance policies issued by target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Life Insurance Corporation (LIC)?

Private insurance companies are desperately trying to get this guarantee lifted. What does it mean to insurance policy holders? This post attempts a brief analysis of this scenario from an investor perspective.

LIC has been the sole operator in Life Insurance business till the sector was opened up to Private players. LIC enjoyed a monopoly till then and had already built a strong customer base, was operating under a good profit, and even after decade since private players stepped in LIC has retained leadership in the business.

What is this Government Guarantee?

LIC is wholly owned by Government of India and was established under LIC Act 1956 according to which Govt of India will be giving sovereign guarantee for the Sum assured and Bonus promised, for the policies sold by LIC. This means that if you buy a LIC policy, there’s 100% assurance that you’ll get whatever minimum benefits guaranteed, even if LIC goes bankrupt.

The private players don’t have this advantage; hence they’re failing to snatch investors from LIC. So they’re trying to get this sovereign guarantee removed, hoping that this will give them level playing field.

Insurance is a long term business which runs for decades. You invest something today and collect your returns 30-40 years later. It’s very much natural that our hard earned money lies in safe hands for decades at a stretch. Over 50 years, LIC has built this trust and has won investor’s confidence, so many people think ten times before considering a private company for insurance policies.

Private companies do not have the patience to wait for decades to build that trust and get returns on their investment. They need quick profit. Their operating costs are high and sales volume is low, add to these there’re strict IRDA regulations and a fierce competition among private players, so LIC’s popularity, market capitalization and government backing are making them envy it. While most of the prospective customers readily do business with LIC agents, because of LIC’s proven brand value, agents representing private insurance companies are often under the pressure to convince people that their company is better than LIC. If government backing is removed, they can try wooing investors highlighting this factor.

Will it happen and what if it happens?
Removing state guarantee to LIC needs amendment to LIC Act, hence it’s not an executive decision but rather a parliamentary one. LIC has grown strong enough to support itself even without state backing, so there’s nothing to worry about. But still, for an investor, state guarantee means added security hence its preferable that Govt guarantee is not lifted. With Govt guarantee its like currency note-acceptable everywhere, while without that it’s like Sodexho pass, acceptable and honored at less places.

When it comes to fund Management,compared to LIC, private insurers have highly paid fund managers whom investors may hope of being capable of deriving better returns, which should offset the high premium rates of these companies. So private players can bank on this and target young investors by giving them better returns coupled with better services.

For some extra info on these click target="_blank" rel="nofollow">here

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Orkut and employee productivity

I’m sure all orkut fans will fume over me on this post. But what I’m going to tell is bare truth which we need to accept.

Of late, internet search major Google’s initiatives are driving people crazy. After becoming an acronym for online searching, Google has come up with several other initiatives such as gmail, adsense program, Google earth among others. The highly innovative minds at Google Labs deserve credit for all these. But one such utility, called orkut has become an addiction for most of the net users.

For the uninitiated few (if any) orkut is a community site supported by Google where individuals are provided with highly user friendly utilities to share their views, meet other people, make friends and indulge in other such social activities, virtually.

There’s absolutely no complaints about the website or the concept behind it. The technological superiority of Google products are almost unrivaled in industry. But the problem comes where people fail to draw a line. Among the younger generation, already addicted to internet, cell phones and other electronic/technical gadgets are wasting a lot of their quality time on orkut while they should have used their time for more productive purposes.

Consider these:

1. Most of the software engineers begin their day with checking orkut scrap book, open their company mailbox only after responding to all scraps.

2. Several personal and official information is publicly shared in orkut, which can be easily misused.

3. Many orkut users get into an unnecessary craze of accumulating maximum number of friends/scraps/fans etc.

4. People sitting in side by side cubicles in a same company use orkut to communicate, instead of some inter company messengers.

5. The average time spent by an employee on internet for personal work is on the increase, which, almost invariably involves orkut.

6. Unlike chat, orkut doesn’t facilitate an instant reply(I mean if people take time to read their scrap and respond). People take more time to respond to a scrap than an Instant Messenger Chat. So the waiting period for reply is more.

As the number of users and community increases, the quality of content falls rapidly. Out of 500+ friends one may have in orkut, how many does he know personally, how many names he’s able to recall and with how many people he’s in active contact? Believe me, that’ll be less than 10% of his number of friends. Most of the other conversations often end in “hi I’m fine you’re fine? bye” types. Most of the communities add no value and usually contain some useless topics like “Guys add 2, Gals subtract 2 we’ll see who wins

There’s no validation mechanism. Anyone can create fake profile in any name and cheat people. Those who wouldn’t have dared doing lots of things in real life, explore their fantasies in orkut under false identity.

While orkut is really great when it comes to finding lost friends, making new friends, and sharing information, I seriously do not see the need for being online in orkut on a 24 by 7 basis. The effort wasted in time pass activities nullifies any good orkut might have done.

On a whole, from a managerial perspective, employee productivity goes down if they’re given unrestricted access to net. But at the same time, will preventing an employee from accessing net increase productivity? Not necessarily. Though most of the companies have started imposing restrictions on internet usage in general and orkut in particular, people find some work around or vent their disappointment in some other way, as a result of which the main purpose behind blocking these sites go for a toss.

The better option would be to increase employee awareness. What stands between right and wrong is an individual’s consciousness, thought and ability to differentiate between what’s right and what’s wrong. Address this and it should let them draw a line themselves.
Some of the Google's initiatives have succeeded in making rival companies like yahoo and Microsoft shiver, other initiatives have drawn Google to court (Google Earth for revealing sensitive establishments and orkut for anti India communities). The fault is not with the product as such, just that people who use/misuse/over use may create trouble. Orkut was ad free when it started but now Google has started minting money by placing text ads (that's the only revenue model Google has, so all Google products invariably need to carry ads to make money)
Sincere apologies if I've offended any orkut fans.

Thanks for reading. If you've liked the above post, you might like following similar posts as well:Check them out:
Orkut as a marketing tool*
Do we need unions in IT companies?*
Email Superstitions*
Indian Education and IT Attrition* Your blog can make or break your career * A guide to engineering studies *
Leave your comments behind...Thanks

Sunday, December 03, 2006

On top of the world

Finally something to cheer about:

Please note that search results will vary w.r.t time and may not be same all the time. Google's search algorithm sorts the results based on numerous criteria and is a highly dynamic phenomenon. Whatever I'm writing is based on the inputs available and validated while writing this post and over a period of time things may change)

For me this is an assurance for the quality of the content in my post and will inspire me to write much better articles. It’s an assurance that what I’ve written has been identified as highly useful for rest of the world. This boosts my spirits and encourages me to write more and more quality articles.

Your encouragement keeps me writing. Thanks. Just sharing my joy.