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Monday, March 31, 2008

Manipal Bloggers’ Meet- MMSC’08

Bloggers Meet seems to be the new trend…Of late several such events are being organized in several metros. Good thing is that the trend is spreading to tier 2 cities also and people living far from metros are also getting an opportunity to attend them.

Subject of this post is Manipal Bloggers’ Meet and Manipal Media Students' Convention (MMSC) scheduled 18th and 19th April 2008, at Manipal, near Mangalore, Karnataka.

Manipal is a sub urb of Udupi, a district in coastal Karnataka and is popular for educational institutions (MIT, KMC and more) Syndicate Bank’s global headquarters is located in Manipal. (Related posts: Endpoint Manipal ~ Karkala Photos ~ Drive in Cinema in Coastal Karnataka Buses)

MMSC ’08 is focused around the theme “Communication through the World Wide Web” and activities involve talks by experts, an unconference on blogging, workshop on podcasting and more. Visit their website for full details.

This is a good opportunity for people around Manipal, Udupi, Mangalore etc to learn a bit more about blogging and world wide web. Entry is free.
Organizers will sponsor 40 delegates (Accommodation will be provided and travel expense will be reimbursed) for which you need to send in a synopsis on any of the topics to be discussed in the event. Last date for sending synopsis is tomorrow (1st of April) and you can register here (Disclaimer: Information as given in MMSC website. I am not trying April Fool prank…) Other participants will have to make their own arrangements.

If you are participating please drop a comment at Indiblogger 

The event has got lots of sponsors including Times Of India, Bank of Baroda and Radio Mirchi and is likely to get considerable attention as this appears to be the first initiative of this kind in the town.

Meanwhile if you haven’t watched MIT’s theme video please watch below… It is really nice…based on Summer of 69 theme and shot in local places, this video makes a good watch.

Kannada Bloggers Met at Bangalore
Recently a Kannada Bloggers meet was held in Bangalore’s BP Wadia Institute of World Cultures, Organized by Pranati. Over a hundred Kannada bloggers gathered there and discussed their experience on blogging in regional language. Some common concerns like Unicode font problems were resolved to a reasonable extent. Veteran Kannada bloggers/writers shared their experience as to how they introduced regional language on world wide web and the journey then after. I was there but had to leave an hour early as I had to catch the train.

It is always a good experience to meet people face to face and know a bit more, particularly if you've read their articles for long time and liked it. Bloggers Meet gives a platform for that. Such meets doesn't even need a theme or selection criteria-anyone who blogs can attend... Check Indiblogger websites for upcoming meets in various cities... Attend if possible.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Merchants of Deception by Eric Scheibeler-Amway Inside Story

This post offers a detailed review of Merchants of Deception, a book by Eric Scheibeler, former Amway Emerald Distributor, who once believed strongly that Amway will fetch him a financial freedom and success, reached near top of the chain, only to discover that how fraudulent the system is and how everyone involved are guaranteed to lose money. His book exposes some key inside info regarding the operation of Amway (and such MLM companies) and is a must read to everyone involved in this business or considering to enter into it.
Merchants of Deception, a Book by Eric Scheibeler, a former Amway Emerald distributor
Most of you have heard of Amway and other network marketing/MLM companies. Chances are, some of you might be a part of it or faced pressure to join it. These “Business Opportunities” are projected as wealth creation tools or vehicles to achieve financial freedom. But the truth often is otherwise. Those who join these kind of business almost always suffer a loss- financial or otherwise. It may be difficult to blindly agree that these NM/MLM companies do more harm than good and you HAVE to read, Merchants of Deception, to know how exactly these companies fool people with an illusion of financial freedom.

The ebook is 232 pages long and is free for download in pdf format from author’s website (2.91MB), MerchantsofDeception.com

The book is written in first person, in a sequential order, starting from Eric’s life before joining Amway, his initial days as Amway distributor, how he trusted the company, developed loyalty to his up liners and slogged hard to promote the business and eventually climbed up the ladder to different levels in the chain. Then he gradually discovered that he is not making the amount of money he is supposed to me making at his level (Emerald) and slowly comes out of his pre programmed mind set and starts exploring things. The truths he uncovered and the trouble he faced from his up liners because of that make this book a must read for anyone who believe network marketing can make them rich.

As some of you may not find enough time to read all 232 pages of the book, I am listing below some key extracts from the book, with permission from Author, the facts you might have never known and are guaranteed to find it difficult to digest.

Eric Scheibeler, Author of merchants of deception backstage an Amway motivational seminarAn open request to all Amway IBOs and members of other similar business who are reading this- I am aware that your current mindset doesn’t allow you to accept and digest the facts given below. Your upliners are guaranteed to brand these facts as rubbish and baseless allegations and distractions which will deviate you from your goal. MY sincere request to you- don’t trust me or your up lines- Think independently and make an attempt to verify the facts on your own.

1 Amway top leaders make fortune, NOT from Amway distributorship but by selling training material (Seminars, video, audio and books etc)

While few top Amway IBOs (At Diamond level and above) appear to be super rich, everyone thinks they made money because of core Amway activities (buying and using products), but Eric has discovered that their IT returns prove that wrong. Just 5% of their income came from Amway and over 95% came from “tools business”, a collective name for motivational stuff they sell to down liners (Conducting seminars and charging people for it, selling audio and video contents with motivational stuff that will guide down liners towards success, books etc) Low level IBOs who buy these stuff think that the diamonds are sharing their success as to how to become millionaire line them, while diamonds pocket millions because of simple reason that others are buying their motivational stuffs. Hardly 1-2% of members in total network reach Diamond and above levels and mint money this way and rest of the distributors (IBOs) will never be able to achieve that (because they can’t create and sell such motivational stuff)

If you doubt the above, ask for income tax returns of these millionaires.

2 There’s no way to track your earning
Amway IBOs don’t have an option to track their earning on Amway website. If they get a check for an amount which is far below what they were supposed to get, there’s no way they can trace down the cause. At Emerald level, Eric was supposed to be making $ 100000 an year, but he was making little less than $30000, one of his down liner, a Ruby Direct was supposed to be earning $ 50000 but had made only around $ 4000. An IBO is not supposed to discuss is woes with his down liners or cross lines and up liners won’t give any explanation why there is a huge difference between what he is supposed to get and what he actually got. Not earning enough is attributed to “not working hard enough” or “lack of commitment to the business” or “a personal failure” and an IBO will be assured that all his woes will vanish once he reaches next level for which he needs to work harder. Everyone will be under an illusion that everyone else is making lots of money and only he is not making enough and try to hide this fact by attempting to show off wealth and saying they’re making huge money (if they say they are not earning enough their down liners will get discouraged and de-motivated, new prospects hesitate to join and business falls further, so faking success is the only way for everyone in this business)

3 Away founders were very much aware of all wrong things in the organization (Cultism, Tools Business, Distributors being under paid etc, fact that near 100% people lose money)
Eric shows with evidence that the fraud he detected were not isolated incidents but is spread across the organization. More importantly he proves that Amway founders were aware of this from the very early stages and nothing was done to protect innocent distributors who lost tens of thousands of dollars or punish kingpin distributors who were making fortune by exploiting the unsuspecting down liners. Book also details several unethical things done by Amway management to silence things they didn’t want outer world to know.

4 Few cardinal principles of Amway (and such companies)
Amway distributors were brainwashed systematically about 4 cardinal rules, that they should never ever violate. They will have 100% success rate as long as they blindly adhere to the system following instructions of their seniors and outside the system there is 0% success rate

a. Never De-edify
Never question your up liners (You are expected to blindly believe in whatever that has been told/instructed to you by your up line- you’re not welcome to give suggestions/make deviations/use your discretion- Eric’s loyalty was questioned when he decided to correct few grammatical errors in a newsletter given to him for circulation by his up liner). Further, a distributor is expected to praise his up liner whenever there’s an opportunity and serve him (by fuelling his tank, paying the bill etc and be loyal) whenever he receives advice/help from his up liner. You’re expected to blindly duplicate what your expected to.

b. Never pass negative-
Anything that’s against Amway is branded as negative stuff. IBOs are brainwashed to believe that those who chose not to join Amway are losers, who have no dreams, no hope, no ambitions and would ever achieve anything in life. Anyone who cautions you about any possible negative impact of Amway are jealous of your progress and trying to pull you down. You’re supposed to use only Amway products at home, never mind how expensive it is…You’re expected not to have a plan B as that would mean you don’t trust the system fully, If you’re not willing to put enough efforts to promote the business you don’t love your family…You’re always expected to give positive feedback and talk good things and show off (though you didn’t like the product or running financial loss)

c. Never Cross Line:
You need to interact with your upline and downline only and not supposed to interact with other members of the company who belong to cross line (anyone other than up and down liners). This is typically to ensure retention of secrecy.

d. Never implement new ideas
You must do what you’re told to do. Nothing more nothing less. You’re supposed to be the owner of your business, but you have no freedom to bring in a change or run it the way you want it…



5 Nearly 100% people fail
This can sound unrealistic…With so many millionaires as live example how can anyone say the system is not good? After recruiting over 2000 people under him, Eric realized that he could identify only 10 people made who a net earnings of $ 1 or above over an year (after deducting the expenses they incurred in promoting the business). The system is such that it ensures its members keep pumping money into the system, by buying overpriced products, attending seminars, buying motivational materials etc. The earning they make usually will be far lesser than expense incurred for all these. People are kept going till they break, under a nonexistent hope of financial freedom which would come as soon as they reach “next level”. Failure, when finally happens, is attributed to individual than the system, so others continue in a belief that “That can’t happen to me”.

6 Dream building is a key technique employed
A prospect is made to build a huge dream (mansions, private jets etc) and is made to believe that their current job can never take them there but business like Amway has the potential to take them there within years. Greed is quite common weakness in humans and MLM companies very effectively target that and most people don’t find any fault as such in the system and silently fall pray. The brain washing that happens gradually after they join will keep them loyal to the system and if anyone tries to save them from the impending disaster they are heading to, such people are treated almost like enemies who are snatching their dreams away.



The book explains all these in detail. Also reveals the cultism, the emotional and financial trauma he and his family faced, the tactics adopted by his up liners to keep him silent, how he was blackmailed and threatened and more. His struggle to recover to normalcy is remarkable. He could have walked away with huge amount of money, had he chosen to remain silent. But he chose to spread awareness and has actively helped law enforcement agencies across the globe to investigate scams of this nature. He has received over 3000 testimonials so far from MLM victims across the globe and his website is full of supporting documents, proof, latest news etc related to the business.

I didn’t have much of disregard towards Amway so far and was thinking this is yet another network marketing company and probably slightly better than the rest due to wide product range, long existence etc. After I heard speeches of Amway leaders (A Diamond and an Emerald) in India and read above book, I can now see the other side of the coin. This book is a strong recommendation from me to anyone who is into this kind of business or considering it. If your family members/friends/relative members are into it, please read this book to understand their state of mind and where they are headed.

There appears to be no printed version of this book. This kind of stuff is better circulated free-no publisher might have come forward to publish it for the fear of cash rich Amway and if published book can't be circulated for free. Since author is single handedly fighting against a multi billion dollar company I am sure he couldn't have done this without the support of credible documents.

In one line- I know and you know that suicide bombing is a bad idea… But making a jihadi understand that is a near impossible task.

Disclaimer: This author is not a member of Amway or any other network marketing/MLM company. The facts given here are sourced from the book stated above and from independent observations. While Eric has quoted enough evidence/proof/reasoning to defend is statements, this writer hasn't verified most of those proofs. Anyone having any concerns about authenticity of the contents in the book are welcome to inform this writer and if found appropriate such concerns will be discussed in this blog. This writer has nothing to gain/loss from people joining/not joining any network marketing companies and this post is written purely in public interest. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion in using the information given here.

Note: Cross posted on Desicritics, Mouthshut and Literaryforums


Always ask for an all inclusive resorts deal. That includes your required flights as well as a list of suitable hotels along with facility of rental cars. To save, you can choose a travel lodge instead as well.

Also read: General Observations on Network Marketing /MLM Companies * 12 reasons why MLM companies face trouble

GoldQuest/Quest Net is another similar 'business' which is spreading like virus, particularly among IT employees...

* Book Review-it happened in India by Kishore Biyani
* Book Review- Not a penny more not a penny less- Jeffrey Archur * Zero percentile by neeraj Chhibba * 2 States-by Chetan Bhagat

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Priceless बोले तो Free?

If price is not specified it is supposed to mean Zero right? Two photographs showing menus which doesn't specify the price...

First one of a popular hotel in Udupi, Karnataka (Diana)... No prices specified against the sweet items-I asked the waiter about it and he replied "I don't know why it is blank, tell me which item you want, I'll tell the price"... May be a printing error or may be management wants to keep it blank so that they can easily increase or decrease the price...
a menu card with prices missing
Another one found near a fruit juice shop in Chennai... Mango shake is priced "NIL" Because of my poor tamil and his poor english I couldn't ask him for an explanation, though he could say "Mango juice 24 rupees sir"



Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Asian Palmyra Palm (Toddy Palm)

Asian Palmyra Palm (Toddy Palm)Have you tried this fruit? I am sure you have seen it atleast if not eaten it... I didn't know the name of this, which Rajesh and Anand prompty updated me through comments. Thanks to them.

Add a comment to tell us what this fruit is called in your local language.. ( ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ- at least ಕರಾವಳಿ
ಭಾಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಹನೆ ಬೊ೦ಡ ಅ೦ತ ಕರೀತಾರೆ, if I
am not mistaken (ಹನೆ- ಮರದ ಹೆಸರು,
ಬೊ೦ಡ- ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಎಳನೀರಿನ೦ತೆ ಇರುವುದರಿ೦ದ))

Not sure if anyone makes juice out of it... Haven't seen any juice shops experimenting that, though I am sure this thing makes a good juice..

In my childhood I remember getting 3 fruits (3 fruits * 3 pieces) for Re 1.. Currently they are being sold at around Rs 4-5 per fruit (3 pieces)...
Asian Palmyra Palm (Toddy Palm)Below photo shows the tree on which this fruit grows... A kind of palm tree...

Asian Palmyra Palm (Toddy Palm) TreeMay 2009 update: This is getting expensive- was costing Rs 5 an year back for a unit (3 eyes), now costs Rs 10 in Bengaluru. In Chennai 5 eyes (about 2 units) cost Rs 10 currently

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Screw Fit vs Press Fit Tail lamp assembly

Sometime ago you have read about how trouser manufacturers adopted few simple strategies to ensure higher sales of trousers. [link]In this post we’ll see a similar change in Auto industry.

Screw Fit
Traditionally, the tail lamp assembly of a vehicle used to be screw fit, i.e. several individual components (casing, bulbs, cover lens) assembled and held together with a screw. See image. This type of assembly has a unique advantage- it is very easy and inexpensive to replace a damaged component. (if a particular lens , say of reverse light indicator, is broken, only that component can be replaced with a new one- you can just buy that particular lens, remove the old one and add new one, just using a screw driver.

Now have a look at the latest trend-The currently adopted technology for tail lamp assembly is called Press Fit.

It involves thermally fusing various components of the assembly using heat and pressure. The press fit assembly looks cute, trendy and attractive. santro car tail lamp assembly press fitManufacturers are able to launch new versions of a model by just changing tail lamp combination and not having to invest in a new die. However there’s one major disadvantage here- it is not possible to replace individual components of the assembly- if something is broken, you need to change the whole set, which costs few thousand rupees.I can’t really blame auto makers for this, but nevertheless felt this small observation is worth bringing to the notice of the public. Hence this post.

New Definition for Speed Governors

An observation on Speed Governors- English translation at the bottom

ಮ೦ಗಳೂರು ಉಡುಪಿ ಕು೦ದಾಪುರ ಮಾರ್ಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಎಕ್ಸ್ಪಪ್ರೆಸ್ ಬಸ್ಸಿನ ಚಾಲಕರು ತಮ್ಮ ಬಸ್ಸನ್ನು ಯಮವೇಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಓಡಿಸಿ ಬಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿರುವವರ ಮತ್ತು ರಸ್ತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೋಗುವವರನ್ನು ಭಯಭೀತಗೊಳಿಸುವುದು ಈ ಭಾಗದ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಗೊತ್ತಿರೋ ವಿಚಾರ. ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ನಾನು ಪ್ರಯಾಣಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಬಸ್ಸಿನ ಚಾಲಕನೂ ಅತಿ ವೇಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಡ್ರೈವಿ೦ಗ್ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾ ರಸ್ತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಎದುರಿನಿ೦ದ ಬರುವ ವಾಹನಗಳು ಪ್ರಾಣಭಯದಿ೦ದ ರಸ್ತೆ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಕೆಳಕ್ಕೆ ಹಾರುವ೦ತೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದ. ಇದನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ನನಗೆ ಗಾಜಿನ ಮೇಲೆ ಹಾಕಿದ "ಗ೦ಟೆಗೆ ೬೦ ಕೀ. ಮೀ. ಮೀರದ೦ತೆ ವೇಗ ನಿಯ೦ತ್ರಕವನ್ನು ಅಳವಡಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ" ಎ೦ಬ ಸ್ಟಿಕ್ಕರ್ ಕಣ್ಣಿಗೆ ಬಿತ್ತು.

ನಿಮ್ಮ ಬಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಜವಾಗಿ ವೇಗ ನಿಯ೦ತ್ರಕ ಇದ್ದರೆ ಇಷ್ಟು ವೇಗವಾಗಿ ಹೋಗಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವೇ ಎ೦ದು ನಾನು ಚಾಲಕನನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿದೆ. ಆತ ನೀಡಿದ ಉತ್ತರ ಹೀಗಿದೆ... "ಹೇಳ್ಕ೦ಬುಕೆ ಸ್ಪೀಡ್ ಗವರ್ನರ್ ಇತ್ತೇ-ಅದೇನ್ ನಮಗ್ ತೊ೦ದ್ರೆ ಮಾಡತ್ತಿಲ್ಲೆ... ನಾವ್ ಸ್ಪೀಡ್ ಆಯ ಹೋದ್ರೆ ಉಳ್ದವ್ರ್ ಹೆದರ್ಕ೦ಡ್ ರಸ್ತೆ ಬಿಟ್ ಕೆಳಗ್ ಹಾರಿ ನಿಧಾನ ಹೋತ್ರ್... ಅವ್ರದ್ದೆಲ್ಲಾ ಸ್ಪೀಡ್ ಗವರ್ನ್ ಆಯ್ತಾ ಇಲ್ಲ್ಯಾ ಹೇಳಿ ಕಾ೦ಬ..."

English version

I was travelling in a private bus in coastal Karnataka (Mangalore Udupi Kundapura line). Though luxurious and offer prompt service these buses are known for their over speeding. As usual the driver of the bus I was travelling was in full josh and was speeding the bus at very high speed competing with another bus ahead. While passengers inside were praying god for safety, other road users of narrow NH 17 were jumping off the road to save themselves. I happened to notice a sticker on the windshield of the bus which said “Micro Autotech- 60kmph Road speed limiter”.

I asked the driver- Do you really have a speed governor installed? How can you drive so fast... The driver replied that speed governor is indeed fixed to his vehicle but that doesn’t work. He further said “If we go at high speed other road users will get scared and drive at slower speeds in fear of their life-that’s how we are governing the speed and purpose of speed governor is being achieved.”

Related: Drive in Cinema in coastal Karnataka

Thursday, March 13, 2008

20 Observations/Analysis on Network Marketing/MLM Companies

During past few years, I’ve come across several network marketing companies. I’ve seen Amway, Modicare and recently QuestNet (GoldQuest) from close angles. I’ve also attended presentations by around 6 other network marketing/MLM companies, names of which I do not remember. I never cared to enroll into any of them, but have been following the developments and their business models out of curiosity.

In this post, I am presenting my general observations about MLM companies. These are not targeted to any specific company (not yet) and there can be some exceptions/ differences/ deviations w.r.t. some companies. Expect some more posts of this kind in near future.

General observations about Multi Level/ network marketing companies

1. No MLM/Network marketing company wishes to identify itself as MLM/NM company
There’s a saying- "if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck then it IS a duck". But despite having all characters of a MLM/pyramid scheme/binary compensation/chain membership plans, no network marketing company wishes to call itself as such.

2. Products are for namesake. Main job is to enroll more members
Most of these companies use products as a cover for their chain membership scheme. Products are for namesake. Main objective is to find new prospects and make them enroll under you. They don’t care if you’re a PHD, MBA, MBBS or uneducated or whatever- just hunt for new prospects and sign them up-that is the one and only task for everyone involved…

3. Products are always overpriced.
Networking companies claim to save lot of money because of direct selling, otherwise spent on various distribution levels in conventional marketing (wholesaler, distributor etc). However, in all cases their product is priced several times their market value. (An Amway toothpaste costs 10 times Pepsodent or Colgate, a GoldQuest coin is priced 5 times its market value and so on) if only they can sell a conventional product for few rupees less than their market price, they can make regular shop keepers a run for their money. But MLM companies always need to charge huge premium for their products, because that is one of the ways how members will be forced to pump money into the company. But this huge price difference is often covered up with terms like “High Quality of the product”, “Numismatic value of the coin”, “investment towards Business opportunity” etc.

4. Products are manufactured by some other company
Despite being in business for years, most of MLM companies do not make an attempt to set up their own factories and manufacture something. The product they sell are often manufactured by some other company.

5. Products may not sell on their own in open market
Other than being overpriced, most of the products are unconventional/unique that no one would ever buy them in open market, at least not at the price they are sold in MLM.

6. Network Market Companies never make an attempt to get listed in any stock exchanges.
Getting listed would solicit a thorough examination of company fundamentals and operations by Regulators like SEBI and investor community in general, something any network marketing company may not prefer. Also why would they need to lift money from market as members are continuously pumping their money into the company? (Amway is an exception)

7. Network marketing companies do not make any attempt to build physical assets.
Any company usually tries to build some physical assets over a period of time (such as land, buildings etc) For example, if IT boom crashes (god forbid) companies like Infosys can still survive because the value of land and building they own itself is worth several millions which can be leveraged to move on to some other business or compensate the stakeholders to some extent. But most of the network marketing companies keep their physical presence/assets to minimum. Usually one website and few rented offices in some cities. That’s all. You may call it cost cutting but this given them a unique advantage- One fine day if promoters decide to close the business and vanish, it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes for them to shutdown the website, erase all data and escape to some country from where it will be near impossible for police to trace, extradite and trial them. (Live example: QuestNet was banned in Srilanka recently and they silently have opened a new company called Lotus Marketing and started selling same old QN products.-Details)

8. Network marketing companies never spend a single rupee on its members
If you join a software company as a trainee/fresher, company spends a considerable amount on you before you could be effectively used to generate revenue for the company. (trainings, salary during training and bench period etc). Even in other industries there’s the concept of apprentice period. But network marketing companies never invest a single rupee on its members. Right from Day 1 a new member starts pumping money into the company, only a small fraction of which is re distributed as referral commission to people higher up in the chain.

Training if any, is given by senior members on one sole objective- how to find new new prospects and make them enroll for membership.

Expenditure if any will be on promotional activities like arranging a presentation in a posh hotel and in hiring lawyers who can take care of legal formalities.

9. No territorial protection
Conventionally, when you take a dealership or distributorship (let us say of Bajaj Bikes or Maruti Cars) the parent company agrees with a contractual obligation that they will not appoint any other dealer in your territory. In other words, you’re protected against loss of business that can happen if another dealer opens branch in your territory and takes away your customers. But no such protections (restricting member count etc) in network marketing. No cap, no limitations-there can be two dozen members in your street alone-you may not be able to expand your business under such circumstances as saturation is reached very soon (if there’re already 20 Hero Motocorp (formerly Hero Honda) showrooms in your locality does it make sense to open one more?)

10. You will never get a loan to join MLM company/business.
If you want to buy anything- say a motorbike for 40k, a mobile for 20k or anything- or if you want to start any business (say a factory) you can avail loan from banks (I am referring to Vehicle loans and Consume loans, not personal loans) and finance corporations by giving that product as collateral. In fact many popular industrial houses come up with their own finance arms in long run (Bajaj has Bajaj Auto Finance, Mahindra has Mahindra Finance and so on). But no financier will fund you if you want to join a MLM business (you can of course take a personal loan during which purpose of taking loan is not asked). If MLM companies are so confident about their business model why can’t they launch their own finance arm? Or at least have a tie up with some banks who would loan the prospects keeping their membership as security? Give people loan to join the business, let them repay when they make money from the business, charge high interest if you wish. (If a member doesn’t make enough money to repay the loan confiscate his membership and release him from the chain) Trust me- No MLM company will ever do that, because shelling out money is not their intention.

12. New members are discouraged to speak about company in front of prospects
Anyone who is promoting a MLM (You can randomly call few numbers listed in classified section of a newspaper under work from home/part time job/business opportunity section), will never reveal the name of the company or initial investment needed etc in first discussion. All they’ll say is “come to the presentation”. Topliners instruct new recruits not to do the canvassing themselves and just bring them to presentations. This is because of following reasons-First, If the name is revealed, chances are that prospect will do some googling onlineand find out lots of negative reviews and may never turn up for presentation. Second, a new joinee will never be able to effectively brainwash a prospect over phone. That needs to be done in a closed room, in a systematic way by a trained person. The basis statement “I’ve signed up for this membership by paying 35k, now I need to enroll more and more people under me to get my money back, I am looking for people who can cough 35k and sign up and keep bringing more and more people” is conveyed in a totally different manner so as to give prospect an impression that it is a lifetime opportunity for him to join and make a fortune.

13. The Pepsi example-
Most of them say “See you pay 10 rs for a pepsi whose manufacturing cost is Rs 1”. What’s wrong in our company collecting more money? (i.e. "Pepsi is looting you to the tune of 9 Rs every time you buy a bottle, why don't you give us a chance of looting you to the tune of 25k?") Here’s a major difference- If I drink pepsi or watch a movie that is one time purchase- if I don’t like it without any hesitation I can tell my friends not to go for it, because I have no monetary interest in it. But once you join a MLM you always have to fake things. If you say “I couldn’t enroll a single member in past 2 months and struggling to get my money back” no one will sign up under you. You’ll have to fake itI am making lot of money in this business, why don’t you also join and get benefited”. Because there’s no exit option, only way you can make money is by bringing in more members, which is not possible to achieve if you’re honest. Deception starts the moment you join. All their training materials are geared up to induce a false confidence in people that they are doing some great service. Those who do not believe in the scheme and refuse to sign up are branded as losers. I’ve seen people claim in public that the potential for this business is unlimited, while in front of their mentor they cry that they are not finding any new prospects. The idea given by the mentor was this- “log in into your company’s employee database, find people sharing your surname or hailing from your state, send some mails to them and make friends with them and then bring them to my presentation” Deception starts with self and spreads to friends and relatives and eventually to society and nation.

People involved in MLM are often encouraged to use the resources (like phone and internet) as well as contacts (colleagues, business contacts etc) available at their work place to grow the MLM chain.

14. No exit option
Few companies give an one time cancellation option (say 30 days from sign up ) After that there’s no exit option. No Plan B what so ever. GoldQuest was banned in Srilanka recently- did the new joinees got any compensation? No. Because of this, the same people who are loosing their money to make the MLM company rich stand up in support of their company. Their only hope of making some money is by bringing in more people who can pour even greater money into the company. naturally they resist any attempt to shut down the company, even if they know what they are earning is a negligible fraction of the amount flowing into company account.

15. The experience doesn’t count
If you work in any other job- as a mechanic, engineer, lawyer, accountant etc, every year you spend working adds to your experience and increases your market value. If you spend couple of years working full time for a network marketing company and then try to join some other company, those few years are not considered as experience by any company.

16. One task- So many names.
The one and only job for you once you join a MLM is to hunt for new prospect and make them enroll as recruits (or business partner or member or distributor or whatever term used in specific to company) Each and every initiative/program/effort is focused on this one task. The term Hard work, be your own boss, part time effort, belief in yourself, helping others, everything boils down to one thing- find a new person and sign him up. Your skills, experience nothing counts. All that count is how good you are in expanding the chain. All training is concentrated in brainwashing you to make you believe that the business is legitimate and you’re actually helping others by enrolling them into the scheme


17. The employer example:
Some give the following example to give an impression that your employer is cheating you by paying you only a fraction of what you earned for him: They say “you work 9 hours for your company wherein you’re paid a small salary but your CEO earns several times that from your effort- Don’t you think our MLM business is better

But here is the difference in working for an employer for a salary and working under a MLM business:

When a company hires you, you’re hired for a specific skillset (say .Net programming), after thoroughly evaluating you against several other job aspirants with similar skills. You’re not required to pay anything to join and in many cases company spends some money in training you etc. After that, your task is to focus on your work (programming in .Net) and converting that work into real money is your employer’s headache (finding a customer who is willing to buy that code etc). Even when your employer is unable to encash your skills (say you’re on bench) you are paid a salary and several other benefits. Everyday you spend in office adds to your experience, increases your market value and enhances your skillset. You don’t have to hunt for new people and enroll them under you to get your salary. If you have a job, however small or big it is, you get some basic recognition/respect in society.

Now compare that with a MLM Chain membership scheme-Any tom Dick and Harry who can pay the registration fee can join the MLM scheme. No limit on number of sign ups, no selection criteria. Right from Day one, you start pumping money into the company and company doesn’t spend a single rupee on you. If you have to earn you have to pump more money into the system, by signing up more people under you. The MLM company’s only job is this- for every 100 Rupee you give them, they keep 60 Rs and re distribute 40 Rs to you and your upliners. Your work doesn’t command any recognition outside. You earn only when your chain keeps growing and cash inflow is sustained.

To sum up, when you work for your employer, you invest you time and effort/skill, which your employer converts into real money and gives you a salary. In MLM, you invest time, effort and money (of yours and your down-liners), MLM company simply collects the cash and gives back a small part of it as commission.

18. Some people do make money
Some people indeed make money through this. Especially who joined the chain early or those who could canvass a huge number of people to enroll under them. It is the success stories of these people that is shown to new comers to motivate them. Those who join late often never manage to recover their money. No cash flows into MLM from outside.
Even when you earn money, it is only a small fraction of the amount you and your subordinates pumped into the system. Assume there are 20 people under you- now calculate total money pumped into the company by all of you and net value of goods/commissions received. Since it is your money, no company will have any problem giving back a small fraction of it to you…

19. Poverty should have been eliminated by now
If the earning potential of millions of rupees had been realized we should be seeing hundreds of millionaires around us by now. Still we hardly see people who made it big through MLM.


20. MLM Czars never share stage with other achievers
Members of the scheme/MLM companies praise the founder/CEO of the company as God. That person is hailed as a motivational speaker, achiever, successful businessman and so on. However, the reality is that that person is mostly a con and is living a faked success, supported by a bunch of cronies. We never see a founder/CEO/MD of a network marketing company share the stage with other business magnets in any conference/award functions/tv debates etc. They make their appearances only in the events they have control of-the events organized by their own company. Outside of it, their reputation, recognition and involvement will be near zero.

Personal analysis and observations only. Statements are generic to MLM business in general-some companies might take some exception w.r.t. certain observations. Correct me if I am wrong. Feel free to comment and criticize me- but use decent language and support your statement with appropriate reasoning or evidence.

MLM Must reads: What's wrong with MLM ?* 10 Big lies of MLM * Amway Inside story- Merchants of Deception * Questnet reopens as Lotus Marketing in Srilanka | 12 Reasons why MLM companies go bad * Speak Asia *

Related post: mGinger paid SMS advertising- An analysis 

October 2012 update: Thanks to all the readers, this post now commands 100+ comments. All facts listed above still holds good. 20th point added

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why not a domain extension called .blog?

Just wondering why we still don’t have a domain extension (top level domain-TLD) such as .blog

Millions of bloggers are operating with general extensions .com, .net, .org etc… I feel bloggers deserve to have a dedicated top level domain (TLD) extension such as .blog, exclusive for blogging sites… (To know more about top level domains or extensions read this article)

Several new extensions have been made available recently- .asia, .travel, .tv why not .blog?

Just an idea…let me know what do you think… Anyone interested can take it forward…

Other ideas from eNidhi India:
Fingerprint Ignition for Bikes * Public toilets can be made free for usage *

Monday, March 10, 2008

Vasudha Hande’s poem in Taranga Magazine

Given below is a copy of Kannada poem written by Vasudha Hande, published in Taranga, a popular kannada weekly in Karnataka

Thanks to Sandesh Karanth for sending scanned image.
Trouble viewing blogger hosted image? Try wordpress copy here.

Similar: Shrinidhi Hande on ETV * Hardalli Krishnadeva Kedlaya Falicitated *
Print articles by Shrinidhi Hande – Secret Letter * Selling petroleum (Kannada) * A tribute to Dr. Christiaan Barnard  * Journalism experiences * Poem and some more articles

Wedding market saturated? 2nd shaadi is the new focus area now !

Looks like the online market for primary marriage (of people getting married for first time) is either saturated or too competitive, due to uncountable number of matchmaking websites. The new market segment for such companies is those divorced/widowed people looking for second marriage. Of late several websites exclusive for second wedding are coming up, cashing in heavily on increasing divorce rates in India.

Secondshaadi.com, shaadino2.com, doosaravivah.com etc are few such Indian sites…

Secondshaadi.com is the first site of its kind and is in operational for little less than an year now. Of late they’ve started issuing TV ads too… (that's how I came to know abt it)

Just wondering what next- thirdshaadi.com, fourthshaadi.com, shaadiat60.com, well the potential is unlimited…

Friday, March 07, 2008

Karnataka Transporters Strike over Speed Governor issue-An analysis

Last Month, over 7 lakh commercial vehicles in Karnataka went off road protesting against the state government rule that speed governors be mandatorily installed in all commercial vehicles. Lorry Owners, supported by other commercial vehicle operators and transporters went on a stir and eventually the supreme court has issued a stay to government order, relieving the owners temporarily.

This post offers an in depth impact analysis of the issue.

The reason given by the government for imposing Speed Governors: Over speeding trucks are a traffic menace and can be fatal to the public. Limiting the speed of the vehicles can bring down the death toll.

However convincing that may sound, my opinion is that it is not fair to impose speed governors on vehicles, because there’ll be more negative impact than positive, if any.

Now let us go step by step.

Will enforcing speed governors bring down death rates on highways?
Extremely unlikely. Why?

Consider this: A heavy vehicle like truck will have huge mass. Because of this, they carry a very high momentum (Momentum is product of mass and velocity and is a measure of impact an object can do upon collision). Because of its huge mass, a truck can knock down a person standing in front of it, even at a modest speed of 10 kmph. So, irrespective of whether the truck is moving at 100kmph (average speed on highway under normal conditions) or at 60 kmph (let us say the maximum speed permitted by speed governor when installed), chances are that accident will be fatal in both cases. Since it is not practical to say that trucks shouldn’t run, the approach should be to ensure that no one comes in the way of the truck.

The business impact of Speed governor

1 Loss of Business
With Karnataka being the only state in the country to enforce speed governor, the vehicles registered in Karnataka will be at a competitive disadvantage compared to vehicles of neighboring states. If the speed governor cuts the average speed by 50% the time to deliver the goods will double. This means the operating cost also will double. The government will not compensate the truckers for this and customer will not pay extra, because on the same road the trucks belonging to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra can zoom at twice the speed and deliver goods on time. Gradually customers will shift to non Karnataka trucks throwing the later out of business. So, if at all it is enforced it needs to be done uniformly across the nation.

Ask yourself as a consumer:

If an Airavata (KSRTC's Volvo Service) takes 15 hours to reach Hyderabad while Garuda (APSRTC's Volvo Service) can take you there in 10 hours, which one do you prefer? Slower speed doesn't necessarily translate into higher safety. What counts is how safely the vehicle is run and how external parameters (roads, other road users, vehicle condition such as braking efficiency etc) help ensuring a smooth journey. [Related: Bangalore Hyderabad by Bus]

We're building express highways like Golden Quadrilateral to facilitate smooth and quick transport. Imposing a speed limit of 60kmph is like going back to stone age

2 Effectiveness and implementation
We already have so many traffic rules-how many are being effectively implemented? Will not this speed governor become another measure for RTO inspectors to make money? From a business perspective, it makes more economical and business sense for truck operators to bribe check post inspector with few hundred rupees and speed away without a SG, as the delay in delivery time because of SG can be more expensive than the bribe. So the implementation is more likely to serve the vested interest of few than general public.

Also it is very easy for anyone to buy a truck in TN/AP, get it registered there with National permit and use in Karnataka. The state government will unnecessarily lose revenue.

3 What about Volvo & Man Trucks?
A Volvo truck costs 3 times the ordinary one. If someone has invested in a Volvo he definitely needs to charge his customers extra, which can be justified because a Volvo can carry 2 times the load of a normal truck and take half the time to deliver them. If speed of Volvo is restricted at par with ordinary vehicle, Volvo truck owner will never be able to recover his investment.
High performance truck makers like Volvo, Force Man and Merc will be eventually driven out of business

4 Damage to roads
Few claim that over speeding/overloaded truck will have greater damage on the roads. Partially true. But my argument is that we should build an infrastructure (roads) that can withstand heavy loads and facilitate faster movement of goods. That is the only way forward. Not the excuses such as "Go slow because our roads are delicate"

What is the solution?

1 Address other issues first:
It is perfectly safe to cruise at high speeds when the road and vehicle condition is good, driver is skilled and there's no possible obstacles on the way. The average speed of vehicles abroad on autobahns is 2 to 3 times Indian vehicles, still the death toll there is lower.
Drunken, rash and negligent driving, drivers allowing cleaners to drive, poor state of the trucks, not having good roads, improper rest room and other facilities to highway drivers- these are the major reasons for the accidents which need to be resolved first. Else with or without speed governor accidents will continue to happen.

2 Educate all road users:
Most of us (pedestrians and cycle riders included) don’t take traffic rules seriously. Haven’t you seen a cycle rider getting down his vehicle and pushing the same across the street when there’s a red light and he was not supposed to cross? We often wont show any respect towards big vehicles. A truck driver will often be forced to hit some other vehicle to avoid hitting a bicycle rider who took an abrupt turn to came in front of the moving truck. We often catch the bigger vehicle, never trying to find whose fault it was.

3 Use hub and spoke model
(it is already in use partially in some cities)

4 Promote RORO wherever possible.
Konkan Railway corporation has a service called RORO (Roll ON-Roll OFF) wherein trucks are carried between Mangalore and Mumbai on train. This saves time, fuel, money and effort for truck operators and saves lot of space on roads which these trucks otherwise would have occupied. Similar service should be extended to other parts of the country.

RORO Video:




Speed governors make sense if the vehicle is exclusive for intra-city use (BMTC Buses already have speed governor). But on highway, they hinder the speed, not just of the vehicle, but that of nation’s growth.

What others say? Churumuri offers an opposite perspective which I do not agree. Enguru and Vasuki Rao agree with me.

Btb I was holding a valid HTV license until last year. Now it has expired and needs to be renewed.

Similar posts:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Quick Movie Reviews

This post offers quick reviews on some of the movies I have seen in recent past . Most of them are a bit old movies and it is little unlikely that you'll be taking a watch/no watch decision based on my review. Just wanted to share a few lines about them.

ओ० शान्ति ओ० (Om Shanti Om- Hindi):
Good entertainer, worth ticket’s price at issue . All possible tactics adopted to entertain audience. The best thing I liked in this movie is SRK's attempt to promote "Fish" as a replacement for another four lettered bad word beginning with F, which youngsters use carelessly these days in every sentence. (We catch all wrong things really fast, but when some good things are shown we hardly notice it, let alone the implementation part)

तारे जमीन पर (Taare Zameen Par-Hindi): Excellent.

Welcome- Hindi:
OK OK.

ದುನಿಯಾ... (Duniya- Kannada)
ಎಷ್ಟು ಹುಡುಕಿದರೂ ಒ೦ದು ತಪ್ಪು ಕಾಣಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಉತ್ತಮ ಕಥೆ, ಒಳ್ಳೇ ನಿರೂಪಣೆ, ಸಿನೆಮಾ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಮೂಡಿ ಬ೦ದಿದೆ. ಇನ್ನೂ ನೋಡಿರದಿದ್ದರೆ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಅನುಕೂಲ ಮಾಡಿಕೊ೦ಡು ನೋಡಿ.

ಚೆಲುವಿನ ಚಿತ್ತಾರ...(Cheluvina Chittaara-Kannada)
By and large good movie.ಬೆ೦ಗಳೂರಲ್ಲಿ ಬದುಕೋದು ಎಷ್ಟು ಕಷ್ಟ ಅ೦ತ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ತೋರಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. Bajaj showroom ಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ TVS Scooty ಹೇಗೆ purchase ಮಾಡಿದ್ರು ಅ೦ತ ನನಗೆ ಇನ್ನೂ ಅರ್ಥ ಆಗಿಲ್ಲಾ... ಕೊನೇ ದೃಶ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೋಟ್ಯಾಧಿಪತಿ ಮಗಳನ್ನ ಬೈಕ್ ಮೇಲೆ ಹೋಗೋನಿಗೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟು ಯಾಕೆ ಮದುವೆ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದು? ಬೆ೦ಜ್ ಕಾರಲ್ಲಿ ಹೋಗೋನಿಗೆ ಕೊಡಬಹುದಿತ್ತಲ್ಲಾ...

ಮು೦ಗಾರು ಮಳೆ...(Mungaaru MaLe-Kannada)
I was in Hyderabad for about 2 years and yet hadn't visited Prasad's imax. On my last day in Hyd (30th Sep 2007) I decided to check this place and also watch this Kannada movie which was released some 9 months earlier in Karnataka and proved to be a block buster which I hadn't cared to watch all these days. (In fact I had made an attempt to see it once during my visit to Bangalore but abandoned the plan after I learnt that getting tickets will be tough)

ಏನು ಬರೆಯೋದೋ ತೋಚ್ತಾ ಇಲ್ಲ...ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿತ್ತು.

ಮಠ (Matha-Kannada):

I'll give it 3.162/5 but Jaggesh fans would surely like it.

బోమ్మరిల్లు ( Bommarillu - Telugu)- Saw it while traveling in a bus to Chennai. Good movie
హ్యాపి దేస (Happy Days - Telugu)- Covers challenges and confusions young minds undergo during their college days.

Blood Diamond: Very good movie-Exposes the other side of diamonds-You might not want to wear that diamond if you had known few humans might have lost their lives while procuring it.

Mighty Heart: Based on the real life story of Daniel Pearl, the journo who was abducted and killed by militants while on war duty in Pakistan/Afghanistan. The movie shows some good views of Pakistan's Cities and shows how investigations are pursued. Our own Irrfan Khan plays role of Pak CID Chief and Angelina Julie is the lead actress. Pinch of hindi/urdu dialogues make viewing more interesting.

Only odd thing I noticed was that police were seizing a monitor from the house of a believed to be militant. I understand seizing Hard disc (or CPU if one doesn't know how to detach HDD) is sensible but unable to understand how a Monitor can help in any investigation...

Hitman
I loved the game but movie has nothing special. Not so strong story and nothing extra ordinary actions. If you're a fan of Edios Hitman game you can watch this movie once without keeping much expectations. Else no need to watch.

Similar: Sevanthi-Sevanthi Kannada Movie Review | Corporate (Hindi) movie review | Watching News inside Movies | 16 in 1 Movie reviews

Saturday, March 01, 2008

FYI: eNidhi India Operational Policies

Recently the gmail id of one of ex classmate was hacked into and the hacker made maximum possible misuse of the account before corrective measures could be taken. (The hacker sent indecent images, chatted with all contacts, altered orkut profile and even made an attempt to change bank account password of my classmate (which was spoiled thanks to SMS alert system the bank has)) My classmate could identify the identity theft, trigger damage control initiatives and eventually was able to regain the control of gmail account but damage done in the interim period was permanent.

I am just trying to imagine what all a hacker can do if he/she manages to break into my Google account. I have a far greater presence on net than my classmate (blogger and several other Google services) and misuse can be dangerous.

While every precaution is being taken to avoid such a situation, this post is a preventive measure towards Business Continuity and aims to keep my readers informed how they can detect an identity theft.

Below are a set of Operational Policies this user (Shrinidhi Hande) will always be adhering to during his online activities. If you observe any deviation from these stated policies, it is extremely likely that something is wrong and you're advised to proceed with extreme caution.

I follow highest possible standards of personal and professional ethics and never ever indulge in any activity that can hamper my reputation/credibility and damage the general interests of self, my contacts and the society.

In particular:

1. I will never ask you for money. I'm adequately protected against possible financial crisis/situations and do not anticipate any possibility that I may have to ask my readers/contacts for money. Should you ever receive a request under my identity to transfer money to certain account, never ever entertain such communications without multiple verifications (such as contacting me or my family members to check if the request is genuine). I may not be able to compensate you for any loss you might suffer if you fall pray to such tricks.

2. I will never publish/circulate/solicit obscene content. If you ever see such content on this blog or receive it by mail, please notify Google of the suspicious activity

3. Sensitive personal communication will never be sent using email. If you receive love letters/hate mails under my identity which are not supported by a real life statements/approvals, please ignore them.

4. Usually I do not invite my contacts to visit/register at websites. Please use your discretion while visiting such sites. I will have no regrets if you don't join/visit. Repeated arrival of such mails are likely to be a spam activity.

5. I will not force/tempt my contacts to join under me in any sort of referral programs /memberships, chains etc. Never join/do something because I am asking you to. Use your own judgments.

6. I will not ask for your personal information such as photos, residence address etc unless there's a genuine reason. Any first meeting shall be in public place and you wont have to reveal unnecessary details.

7. Any criticism against any individual or organization shall be backed by strong analytical reasoning/evidence. There shall be no baseless allegations/accusations.

8. Abrupt changes (add/edit/delete) in this blog layout & content, side bar content, blogger/orkut profile content which can not easily be justified, can be due to a possible intruder activity.

9. I will never reveal confidential/sensitive information and never indulge in plagiarism.

What can you do if you spot a violation of above guidelines and suspect a hacking?
As I'll be online every day chances are that I will detect it in time to initiate damage control. If someone has hacked into my gmail account mailing me or writing comments at this blog will not serve the purpose.

Under such scenarios you can use following options:
  • Contact me through my mobile number if you have it
  • If you work in same company as I do use the corporate email ID
  • You can leave comments for me at any of the blogs in my blogroll. Chances are I will read it when I visit those blogs next time.
  • Please do not jump into conclusion that I have gone insane. Your support will be very crucial in recovering from such situations
All your thoughts are welcome.
An eNidhi India Business Continuity Initiative


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