Sunday, April 30, 2017

Why family businesses need to be ever more vigilant ..

In a study of 25,000 publicly listed companies in US from 1950-2009, on an average, they did not last for more than 15 years.

About 30% of family businesses make it through the second generation, 10-15% through the third and 3-5% through the fourth ..

Family owned businesses thus are more promising in the long run over public companies.

The two big traps family businesses often confront are

1. All family members can be accommodated - insist that family members will have tp earn their place in the family business by their education and experience
2. The business cannot grow as fast as the families - if there are enough competent people the business can be scaled up into different areas to accommodate competent people

Reference link :
Link 1  -,  Avoid the traps that can destroy family business, George Stalk Jr, HBR, Jan 2012.

Link 2  - Signs you are losing control of your family business, Josh Baron et al, HBR, April, 2017

Link 3  Why  the 20 th century belongs to family businesses, Josh Baron, HBR, March 2016.

Managing change in family run businesses ..

As per data from reliable sources listed below, public professionally run companies in US have an average life of only 15 years (50% wind up in 15 years) while we find 30% of all family run businesses transitioning successfully into the second generation, 10-15% into the third generation, 3-5 % into the fourth generation, creating value for the customer and wealth for the country in the long run. Family run businesses are therefore a vital component of any country's economy as the example of Walmart, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW and Berkshire Hathway and many others remind us.  (Refer : Baron, Josh, "Why 20th century will belong to family businesses, Harvard Business Review, March, 2016)

One of the best definitions of family business I have ever come across is this -
A family business is a commercial organization in which decision-making is influenced by multiple generations of a family—related by blood or marriage. They are closely identified with the firm through leadership or ownership - wikipedia
Here is Forbes link to the top 25 family businesses of the world, led by Walmart, Volkswagen and Berkshire Hathway ..

The biggest family business on planet earth, Walmart ..
As per a report from, of the top 20 businesses in India, 15 are family run businesses and contribute 26 lakh crores to the Indian economy. The exceptions are HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Infosys, L&T and Axis Bank.

Family run businesses have been there from time immemorial when men settled and lived in societies from 6000 BC. Though in the present days, government run and professionally run organisations are models to the rest of the world, family run businesses are here to stay ..

Great Indian business families have come and gone ..
This brief writeup is case study of a very successful family run business from the state of Kerala processing one of the oldest and and valuable items India has been famous for thousands of years and which has attracted travellers and traders from wide and far in search of this precious asset - spices. The Spice Route and Silk Route which connected India and China respectively to the rest of the world for the past four millennia and which made them prosperous and rich for thousands of years speak lots about the thriving spices and silk trade in the eastern hemisphere. This writeup is an attempt to link up with one of the oldest and prosperous trade which India has been known for thousands of years, spices.

Synthite Industries, a family run business from Kadayiruppu, Kolenchery, Kerala is the world leader in oleoresins and spice oils, controlling 30% of the global business in oleoresins.

Aju Jacob
Aju Jacob, Director, Synthite in (click here for the video of the ISB talk) where he speaks clearly speaks of the challenges of managing family run businesses. He is the son of CV Jacob, Chairman of Synthite, from Kolencherry. George Paul is the Vice Chairman of Synthite. Their family runs the INR 1800 crores Synthite Industries which controls 30% of global market in spice oils and oleoresins..

Aju, an executive alum of ISB, Hyderabad has hughlighted the challenges faced by family run businesses in this talk he gave at ISB recently. Aju's elder brother Viju, also from Rajagiri, is the Managing Director of Synthite. His articulation of problems, particularly from the viewpoint of a prosperous, educated, spiritual and emotionally well balanced family background has been perfect !! Sparks of humility, understanding and great leadership was visible in that speech.
Dr, Viju Jacob, Mg.Dir., Synthite.

From being an organisation working well for the past 47 years, there is great learning for the third generation in his family and for elders and youngsters of other business families planning transition of leadership and authority to the next generation..  The added lesson from this case study is how to work with the active and often militant  trade union leaders of Kerala. This case in plain high impact words provide simple thoughts very neatly put across to understand the pressures of managing family businesses, both during good and bad times. 

This earlier writeup of mine some time back throws light on Synthite Industries, what they do and how. This Kerala based co. controlling 30% of global market in spice oils and oleoresins supplies to global food processing industry majors across the world !!

References :

1. Baron, Josh, Why 20th century will belong to family run businesses, Harvard Business Review, March 2016.
2. Forbes, Top 25 largest family owned companies in the world, 2017.

George ..

PS : Aju is my classmate from Rajagiri HS Ernakulam during late 70s and a family friend too.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Will the bloodshed in the Indian e-commerce market end anytime soon ?

E-commerce (electronic commerce or EC) is the buying and selling of goods and services, or the transmitting of funds or data, over an electronic network, primarily the internet. These business transactions occur either as business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer or consumer-to-business. -, 2016.
Even though trading over the Internet is almost thirty years old, its popularity over the past ten years has been great and has seen many players enter this ludicrous market and disappear overnight. It has not been a bed of roses all the way.

Losses of E-commerce cos, INR crores  
                    2014-15             2015-16
Flipkart             2979                  5223
Amazon           1724                   3571
Snapdeal         1328                   2960

   Total             6031                  11,754, (Source Economic Times, January 20, 2017)

Why are Indian e-commerce cos bleeding heavily ? While all are upbeat about our great e-commerce companies, it is but a fact that all of them are bleeding heavily. While all the top three in 2014-15 made losses of approximately INR 6300 crores, 2015-16 saw them making still greater losses. In total about INR 11,600 crores among themselves.

Click here for my presentation in the class analysing the reasons behind it..

Major and minor Indian e-commerce players, at least 14 and many more ..
Even though we are upbeat about e-commerce companies in general, the real picture is very grim. How long can the top three e-commerce companies in India show a bold face and live with these losses. Amazon India may be able to survive for another three or four years of heavy losses, because of its rich US cousin, focusing on just consolidation in the Indian markets. 

It was a good discussion in the class today. One of the suggestion was to  stop the pretensions and get to play the game on the right basics without any pretensions. Customer acquisition and customer retention are two very tricky aspects in e-commerce where we find price-sensitive Indian streetsmart customers switching between e-commerce players at the drop of a hat.

The more competitive the ecosystem, the more casualties we can expect. Since it is accepted that Indian e-commerce market is the most populated with maximum number of entities vying for a piece of the pie, it will only do good for the industry in the long run. Just like the telecom market in the country presently being the most competitive in the world where the global majors like China mobile or Vodafone dare not enter and commit harakiri, the e-commerce market can also be expected to be the most competitive.

Since Alibaba, the $480 billion retailer from China and Amazon, $250 billion retailer giant from US are here to stay, e-commerce as a field is to stay, but needs a real cleanup and it will happen pretty soon. The companies cannot afford to bleed for long ! The Indian scene is pretty bad and at the same time we believe it holds the maximum promise in the long run.

Alibaba and Amazon, please stand by ! The bloodshed in the Indian market is on and shortly one can expect peace to return .. If  one succeeds in the Indian market, he/she can succeed anywhere in the world.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Budget Airlines - how they achieve cost advantage over other airlines ..

Last time I caught an early morning 5.30 am flight from Bangalore to Mumbai, I had to leave home by 3.30 AM to reach Devanahalli airport at 4.30 AM. Why so early in the morning ? Since Bangalore does not have a secondary airport, I had to board flights departing the airport at odd times to avail of low airline fares. It was okay considering that I was paying just a third of what I would have paid had I boarded an 8.00 AM flight to Mumbai.

What is this big noise about Budget Airlines and how are they able to offer low fares to the public ?

Airlines operation is an interesting and exciting area of study for an Operations Manager. The airlines recover the initial high capital by carrying out very smart focused manoeuvres. South West Airlines in US was the first airlines in the world to start the concept of Budget Airlines. They started the field of demand management or Yield Management as an area of study where the ticket prices on a route depend on the customer demand for flights in that route. The main objective of yield management is to boost demand by offering tickets at different rates (in different slabs) depending on the demand distribution to optimise the final returns or yields.

Airlines have also looked at other minor yet important and interesting cost cutting aspects. As Sarah Coles (3) says, it is about concentrating in 4 main areas of operations,
  • first using the same type of aircraft
  • secondly, a constant drive to push costs down
  • thirdly, ensuring a faster turnaround time at the airports and 
  • fourthly not selling anything other than seats ..
We shall present them in detail here (1,2) ..

Identifying the cost pain points and addressing them to reduce the costs is the first step. US and India based budget airlines offer tickets that are 20-30% less than traditional airlines, while Budget airlines in Europe offer tickets at 50% of traditional airlines. An 800 km journey could be completed by air in under 10 euro. It is interesting to find how European budget airlines succeed where US and Indian airlines have only partly succeeded.

This video is a great example of how budget airlines constantly innovate to keep their operating costs low. Click for the video ..

There are different aspects we need to look at and they are listed here.

Physical Infrastructure - The planes are mostly of one type. RyanAir has only Boeing 737 and EasyJet only Airbus A320 aircrafts. GoAir and Indigo in India work mostly with Airbus A320 in their fleet. This helps the airlines to reduce their maintenance expenses, keep low inventory stock of spare parts and less training for the staff.
Additionally, the fleet is relatively new, with an average age of less than 5 years. They are more efficient incurring less running expenses, partly offsetting their higher purchase costs. These young planes incur less maintenance costs and are up in the air almost 24x7, giving better returns to the airlines. Most of these planes do not have expensive and luxurious reclining seats reducing costs and maintenance expenses. No back pockets for these seats reduce the cleaning needed reducing the turnaround time after each flight.The gap between the seats is limited, enabling accomodation of more seats in the economy class. (click here for pictures of future seating configurations in budget airlines..)

Airports proximity to city centre and landing fees - Landing fees at airports are a major source of expense for airlines as they have to part with higher airport landing fees when they land at major city airports. To keep the costs low, budget airlines land in slightly distant secondary airports which charge low landing fees, away from the cities with good connectivity to the city centre. The budget airlines use major airports at odd times when landing fees are very low like early morning or late night flights.

Training for Employees - training is imparted to the employees on multiple tasks like ticket checking, cleaning, luggage checking etc. . Fewer employees carrying out multiple tasks eliminates need for excess staff, reducing costs. The duration of training is less with more emphasis on safety than on hospitality. Being a very young workforce, there is no unionisation resulting in employees ready to shift to distant airports at short notice.

Catering facility - the budget airlines do not offer any complementary food or drinks during the flight and these are chargeable. The main advantage of this is that it saves inflight time for attendants who can attend to more important tasks of the passengers. Wastage of food is avoided on the flight.

Passenger loading schedules - The turnaround time at the airports are generally less than 45 minutes as earlier routine tasks like loading food trays, cleaning of planes between stops etc are avoided. As passengers are given seating on First Come First Served basis, passengers generally tend to come early to get window seats, eliminating delay in flights. The self check-ins through automated machines or internet check-ins have accelerated the check-ins.

Flying route schedules - Most of the budget airlines take only direct booking, eliminating middle men and commissions.
In addition most of the conventional established airlines operate on a hub-spoke arrangement, where they tend to touch at their hub or base very often, increasing the flying times and expenses for the airlines. Budget airlines on the other hand, have a point-to-point model of operations wherein they do not return to their main hub on every leg of the flight and instead touch base at different cities as per schedule and demand before reaching base. They also do not book connection flights as this leads to unnecessary extra expenses to the airline if the flight is delayed or connecting flights are missed.

Profit margins - Budget airlines have been observed to have healthy profit margins often running to an average of about 14-15 % while traditional airlines have low profit margins of about 4 - 5 %, besides being burdened with aging planes and heavy maintenance expenses.

What is the future of budget airlines ?

As economies keep growing, there will be increased demand for airline traveling. Hence the demand for budget airlines is only going to increase in the coming days, along  with a healthy demand for conventional long distance airlines. Short haul flights can experience a pull towards lower costs. An innovative technology like Hyperloop can bring great disruption if proved to be successful. 

The Govt of India's UDAN, the Low Cost Regional Connectivity scheme to get the distant parts of the country reachable by air is taking off today 28 April from Delhi to Shimla. Under this scheme, initially 43 cities to increase to 72 cities from across the country will be connected whereby the flying fare for a 500 km distance and a one hour flying time will be capped at Rs 2500.00. Viability Gap Funding (VGF) upto Rs 3000 per seat will be provided by the GoI to the airlines selected under this scheme. The airlines are Alliance Air, SpiceJet, Turbo Megha, Air Odisha and Air Deccan. They were awarded 128 routes under the scheme after a bidding process. With this scheme, more cities in India will be reachable by air promoting the industrial growth of these cities.

References :

1. Nils Pratley, Anatomy of a flight,, 2003. Accessed April 2017
2. Wendover Productions, How budget Airlines work,, 2016, Last accessed April 2017.
3. Sarah Coles, Low cost Airlines - How they cut costs,, 2015, Last accessed  April 2017.

Compiled and written by George Easaw for classwork in Alliance University, Bangalore, India. Unauthorised use prohibited. Contact for permission.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015 .. What, why and how ?

Climate change is the greatest threat faced by humanity due to environmental pollution.  Sustainability efforts have thus gained importance world over, with leadership actions initiated by United Nations. 
Sustainable development means "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Brundtland Commission).Apr 21, 2015
UN' 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 2015 - 2030.
The historic Paris Agreement of 22 April 2016,  provides an opportunity for countries to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It entered into force on 4 November 2016. (click here..)

The UN continues to encourage all stakeholders to take action toward reducing the impacts of climate change.

Click here for the UN website of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 187 countries in 2015 to help transform our world, to be achieved by 2030 AD. 

The Lazy person's guide to saving the world (click here) is an interesting UN document which explains how each individual on this planet can contribute to making the earth sustainable in the long run in our small small ways.

Organisations big or small or even individuals need to analyse each of these 17 goals and 
  • segregate goals which they can influence and which they cannot, 
  • identify and prioritize goals which they can influence, 
  • work out smaller macro and micro goals
  • set measurable targets 
  • try to achieve them in a fixed time frame.
The UN stated goals have been arrived at through consensus by all the 189 countries to be achieved over 15 years from 1 st January 2016. It is not legally binding on the countries of the world, but in the interests of the future generations, we need to take these goals in full earnestness and seriousness and ensure its accomplishment.

Kochi International Airport at Kochi, Kerala, India's third largest in infrastructure (1.5 m sq.ft T3) and fourth largest in terms of passenger traffic at 9 million annually, has built the world's first and only solar energy powered International airport. It remains unchallenged as the first and only fully solar energy powered international airport of the world even after 20 months of its initial insolation in July 2015. With faster economic development happening around the world, more people move around for work and leisure purposes. Air travel will become more popular and common, even though cheaper Mass Rapid Transport Systems alternatives like Hyperloop, do offer great promise. Airports going truly green can help make future air travel more sustainable, though air travel per se still depends on non-renewable resources..

2.5 acres of solar panels at Kochi International
Airport, India.

We find very less awareness of these  in the press and media on the time limit and the goals to be achieved by then ? Let us take it upon each one of us, reading this document and the links given above to act in whatever small way possible to achieving the grand goal for the sake of humanity on planet earth...

It is our world, it is our joint responsibility to protect his world not only for our generation, but for all future generations..

George.. (photo courtesy Kochi airport, taken by Daily Mail, UK.)

Ref :

1. Bhaskar Chakavarthi, How companies can champion sustainable development, Harvard Business Review, March 2017.
2. www,, Sustainable Development Goals - 17 Goals to transform our world,  Last accessed , 17 April 2017.
3. george-easaw,, Truly green airport at Kochi, Last accessed 17 April, 2017,

India's top 10 market cap companies ..

Market capitalization is a measure of the customer confidence in the companies measured as the value what customers perceive it to have for their stocks in the market.

Total market capitalization of the top 10 Indian corporates as of April 2017 stands at 25,68,310 crores (app US$ 395 billion).

The Market leaders ..
(Market cap in INR, crores) (exchange rate calculated at 1 US $ = INR 65)

#1 Reliance Industries Ltd, 4,57,000 ($70.3 billion)
#2 Tata Consultancy Services, 4,56,000, (70.1 billion)
#3 HDFC Bank, 3,70,480 ($57 billion)
#4 Indian Tobacco Company, 3,38,851 ($52.1 billion)
#5 State Bank of India, 2,35,308 ($36.2 billion)
#6 HDFC 2,35,123 ($36.2 billion)
#7 Oil and Natural Gas Commission, 2,32,346 ($35.7 billion)
#8 Infosys, 2,11,870 ($32.6 billion)
#9 Hindustan Unilever, 1,97,464 ($30.4 billion)
#10 Maruti Udyog Ltd, 1,85,236 ($28.5 billion)

Of the top 10 market cap companies, 2 are from IT, 2 are from energy and telecom area, 3 are from Finance area, 2 are from retail and 1 from automobile manufacturing area. Finance sector is in the top with 3 out of 10 companies in financial services area. 2 of the top 10 companies are in the IT area reinforcing India's dominance and dependence on IT related services as economy drivers.

36% of market cap of the top 10 companies are generated by the top two companies RIL and TCS, the two flagship companies from the private sector in the country, representing energy, telecom and IT sectors.

Services vs Manufacturing -
9 of the top 10 companies are from the service sector and only 1 from manufacturing. It shows the dominance of service sector over manufacturing in the Indian economy.

Public sector vs private sector - 
Only three of the top 10 are public sector enterprises, rest are from the private sector, it shows that India's privatisation push post 1991 has worked quite successfully.

Contribution of different sectors -
Finance related companies , 840,911 crores account for 32.7% of the market capitalisation the top 10 players. Energy and telecom companies account for 26.4 %, IT related companies account for 26%, retail companies account for 20.9 % and manufacturing accounts for 7.2% of the market cap of total top 10 market cap companies.

TCS was India's leading corporate but for the presence of Jio Telecom which has helped Reliance Industries to get a boost of INR 100,000 crore to their market cap over the past six months.

The import this has for the future development of the country is that IT, energy, Finance and Retail will be dominating the Indian economy in the future. 


Source -  Live Mint, 19 April 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Aadhar card, can it be a panacea for Indian low levels of development ?

When about two months back I wanted to take my second Jio mobile SIM card, I collected it from a roadside Jio booth selling SIM cards in Bangalore near Christ College on Hosur Road. The employee asked for my aadhar card number which he fed to the Aadhar database and checked my finger print scan with the records in the Aadhar database to confirm my identity. Within 2 minutes my new Jio SIM card was in my hand. This was the first application I experienced wherein my personal details recorded in the Aadhar database has been verified by a commercial operator to establish my identity. It was a big culture shock to me. My existence as an Indian citizen has for the first time been validated and cross checked with the Govt of India database to help me avail of a commercial facility.

The Govt of India's Unique Identification programme Aadhaar ( is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. The programme was implemented by Dr Manmohan Singh under the able guidance of Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of the IT firm Infosys from Bangalore, an alumnus from my alma mater Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Though the present PM Modi took scrapping up this project as one of his top election promises, initially out of ignorance of the benefits of such a massive programme, later he accepted the utility and benefits of this programme in eliminating corruption in public systems and has adopted the Aadhar system with great dedication and sincerity now.

Cost of implementing the brilliant unique identification programme, Aadhar card,  of the Govt of India, started by Dr. Manmohan Singh and Nandan Nilekani and presently being pursued with all sincerity of purpose and devotion by PM Modi has been $ 1 billion, app INR 6500 crores.

Nandan Nilekani
Already the GoI has by weeding out false claims been able to save $8.5 billion in subsidies in two and a half years, about one fifth of annual central govt subsidies ..

Once the fingerprints of all the ten fingers and the iris scans of both eyes have been taken, there is no way someone can impersonate a person to run away with his subsidies and rations. (though roughly about 30% of all aadhar authentications are turned negative.)

The Aadhar database is being tapped on an average about 20 million times a day presently and 30 % of authentications are turned negative. About 1200 million people have already availed of Aadhar card across the country as per data released by The Economist of London, covering 99% of the adult population in the country.

The Income Tax department (woefully only 2.5% of Indians pay Income Tax in the country today) has made it mandatory that all IT returns from this year onwards be compulsorily linked with the Aadhar card number of the IT assesee. It is a welcome move as the GoI can keep a track of all citizens and possibly reward them in future for their honesty shown to the nation. It will also identify the dishonest citizens and punish them as the law permits.

With each passing day we find more and more services being linked with the Aadhar card identity of citizens making sure that services reach the actual beneficiary and no impersonation or corruption occurs in the delivery of central govt welfare subsidies and services. No other country has been as successful as India in rolling out this massive database benefiting the 1.25 billion population of the country.

In this recent talk with Quartz, (click here for the link) Nandan tries to defend the security concerns raised against Aadhaar by the tech community and the public at large ..

George (the author wishes to thank The Economist of London, issue of April 12, 2017, and wikipedia for the Aadhar related information provided in this article)

Data Analytics Primer ..

Information is processed data.

How can you process this data if it is very large running to terabits and is being generated on a continuous basis ?  One can easily get lost in the vast ocean of data. It is here the fields of big data and data analytics have joined hands to arrive at a tractable solution.
Big data analytics is the process of examining large and varied data sets -- i.e., big data -- to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and other useful information that can help organizations make more-informed business decisions. credit -
Big Data refers to the extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions. (source : wikipedia)

Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with them. Challenges include capture, storage, analysis, data curation, search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy. (

Big Data comes from many sources it could be internal or external from customers, suppliers, transporters etc.., from the Internet, social media, sensors, IoT devices etc..

The 4 Vs of Big Data is

1. Volume (size of data running to Terabits) ,
2. Velocity (generated on a daily basis non-stop from units across the world),
3. Variety (from a large variety of sources like social media, retail stores, transportation, healthcare and so on) and
4. Veracity (how accurate is the source of data, is it corrupted, what is the quality of the data etc,,).

Big data could be in structured form like from a provision or retail store or unstructured form as from social media or facebook. Structured data can be handled by means of Database Management Systems or more efficiently with Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle etc..) can handle strauctured data. But how can unstructured data that comes from twitter or Facebook or Google search be handled ?

The different models of Data Analytics is

A. Descriptive Data Analytics tells us what has happened in the past

B. Predictive Data Analytics they use past data to model future outcomes

C. Prescriptive Data Analytics uses optimisation or other mathematical models to help take better, effective, optimised decisions.

Big Data and Effective Analytics is a great competitive advantage for firms across the world. One model which helps one to achieve this competitive advantage is the DELTA model.

The DELTA model of Data Analytics is a simple yet effective model used across applications


Enterprise wide focus for data ensures data has to reach and should be accessible across all corners of the enterprise

Leaders across all functions that promote a analytics driven culture in the organisation

Targets, financial and non-financial that can help key business areas or departments meet their targets

Analysts help to analyse the data effectively and come out with right information to help take quality decisions.

Bid Data and Data Analytics is a great tool for the organisation to take the right decision and overtake competitors in he highly competitive world.

Click here to Understand Data mining - the three steps to analysing unstructured data ..

An excellent video from HBR click here ..

Monday, April 17, 2017

Take off - an action packed malayalam movie with an international theme ..

Happened to watch the malayalam movie "Take Off" a couple of days back in Bangalore. Have to say that there has never been such an active Malayalam movie for a long time. The most attractive part of the movie is the fact that a real incident which happened about two years back and which required the intervention of the CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy and the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi including the Indian ambassador, is the theme behind the movie. The picturisation of the theme has been carried out well by the Director.

Good picturisation of an international theme ..
The movie depicts the pains of a bunch of malayali nurses in strife torn Iraq and their escape from the hands of terrorist outfit, the Islamic State. In my memory, it is the first time in Malayalam film industry that an international theme has been used to make a picture. It was also a good depiction of the pain and every day challenges faced by Indian migrant labourers in Persia and Arabia.

Under the direction of Mahesh Narayanan, as the story goes, actress Parvathy as Sameera, the only Muslim woman in a pack of 19 nurses stranded in a hospital in Tikrit, Iraq tries to find her second husband played by Kunchacko Boban along with the help by the Indian govt ambassador and his team in Iraq. Fahad Fazil has played the role of the assistant well. With the help of an Indian businessman in Gulf, the Saudi Arabian monarch influences IS to release Sameera's husband.

It gives us a real idea of how Islamic State is a challenge to civilization not only in Arabia but the whole world. It demonstrates to us how in the interests of humanity, IS needs to be contained as early as possible. It was because we never had any such film that youngsters, especially from Kerala have been attracted to the violent philosophy of IS and its leader Baghdadi. This movie will prevent more such misguided youth from being captivated by the violent tactics of IS. The film has a very pleasant ending with the crossing of the Iraqi border into Turkey, as the nurses team escapes from the hands of execution by IS by a whisker on to freedom.

After seeing the movie I was reminded of the movie "Escape to victory" (click here for youtube movie) from the early 80s, where football legend Pele plays in the 1981 film as the captain, along with Sylvester Stallone, of the Allied prisoners in a German prison during second world war and beats the German all star Nazi team and escapes from the prison camp to victory. Hitler was very miffed at the victory of the prisoners team against the world champion Nazi football team.
Pele in "Escape to victory"

Hope this film prevents more misguided youth from joining IS ranks from India and other parts of the world. Islamic State is the curse of the modern day Arabia and Persia

The dubious role being played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in funding Islamic State with enough of materials and cash supporting their violent means of establishing a Caliphate once again in the Gulf is very shocking for the common man. The same Saudi Arabia and Qatar, playing double standards, go around talking about their intentions to establish peace in the region, while hundreds are being killed daily. The role of US in precipitating this crisis in the first place in Syria and Iraq, is by itself a deep lesson for the world on how influential and powerful countries like US can sway world opinion to their favour, resulting in violence in other parts of the world.

This film also brings to the fore how the nations of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United States are acting against the interests of humanity across the world for their personal and selfish interests and growth. Such nations need to be isolated from the comity of nations and expelled from all international fora. It may not prick some conscience to milk these countries for the riches, money and wealth they offer, but it is against the interests of humanity to stand with them in such heinous acts as creating and supporting terrorist groups.


How US-China-North Korea war will benefit India .. How ?

USS Carl Vinson, Nimitz class, moving to Korean peninsula
US and China with the Chinese ally North Korea in a face to face combat is a great news for India. Why ?

The world waited for eight long years after George Bush's exit to see a boisterous US flex its muscles. Former President Obama was too smart to be pushed into a war and attended to the growth of US economy than its decline. Its great now to see under the impetuous Republicans, US pumping its fists to the air, all for misplaced reasons.

Republican Trump came into power not as much to bolster US defence as to give jobs to US citizens and to get US to grow once again. As is characteristic with almost all Republican Presidents without fail, Trump too did not fail the US public this time.

First it was the Mother of all bombs (MOAB - Massive Ordnance Air Blast) in the Afghanistan Pakistan border. The world looks forward to watch how US will give a shock to North Korea in the coming days. If that brings US and China face-to-face, it will be a bad day for global peace.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

SAI sanctuary, Kodagu, Anil Kumar Malhotra and Pamela ..

What a couple gave back to nature and wildlife ..
The 300 acre private forest wildlife sanctuary comes up after 25 years of hard work promoted by NRI Anilkumar Malhotra and wife Pamela near Kodagu .. Save Animals Initiative ( SAI) sanctuary ..

A great private initiative to give back to nature with no personal gain and only philanthropy in mind. 

A national recognition by way of a Padma Bhushan should be given to this couple for their efforts spanning over 25 years !

Anil and wife Pamela .. True lovers of nature ..
Click here for the video link of their activity to save nature and give back to society and future generations of humanity.. priceless ..

 Click here for more information from the website ..

For stay enquires, contact / +91-9341975527  with email / mob phone.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Old silk route revisited, Beijing to London - rail vs sea..

The world's most busiest sea lanes are between China and Britain. The distance of about 11,865 nautical miles (21,360 kms) between Shanghai, China and London Thamesport UK is covered by container ships at an average speed of 10 knots per hour, ie. 18 kms per hour over 50 days. The route covers the Indian Ocean travelling across the southern tip of India through the Suez canal into Mediterranean sea, covering Spain and reaching United Kingdom.

As part of the OBOR, one border one road initiative from Chinese Pres, and to partly revive the old Chinese silk land route 2000 years back, connecting China with Europe, the longest train journey was completed over 17 days in January of this year covering 8000 miles. The return journey from London to Beijing carrying 30 containers of whiskey, soft drinks, pharmaceuticals is starting today from London reaching Beijing in 17 days covering the 8000 miles distance travelling across the Channel tunnel to France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakstan before entering China. The distance of 8000 miles (11800km) will be covered in 17 days at an average sped of 31.4 km/hr.

The biggest advantage of this land route is the savings in time by almost 67%. Travel time is reduced to almost one third from 50 days to 17 days. Even though the fuel costs would be more and it would result in greater environmental damage, the strategic advantage it would bring to China in terms of opening a new land route via Asia and Europe is a great de-risking opportunity for China in case its route to the outside world through the South China sea is blocked because of a future regional war over the rights to South China sea islands.     

In this train carrying maximum 30 containers, each container can be loaded with app 36 T (80,000 pounds). The largest container ship in the world presently, MSC Oscar of Mediterranean Shipping Company can accommodate upto 19,224 Twenty foot equivalent Units (TEUs) with a Dead Weight Tonnage of 196,362 Tonnes (includes the weight of cargo, fuel, fresh water, ballast water etc..).

China in its growing international clout is able to run a train through these countries over 8000 miles distance. This is a historical event as also a strategic event for China trying to find an alternate land route for its goods to the outside world.

george.. (pic courtesy Reuters)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Big Data or Right Data ??

These days every organisation, big or small, physical or digital, manufacturing or service, almost all organisations are producing loads of data. 

Sensors, RFIDs, social media, Google search, Facebook etc are producing Terabytes volumes of data both are stored data or live data getting generated by the minute at great velocity in different forms or varieties..

Even though engineering field and statistics have come with lot of statistical tools to analyse this data, we need to think whether Big data will help us in identifying trends or patterns in data which is is difficult for naked eyes to identify or find the right data which will help us to identify patte.rns in the data that will help us.
It thus would be of interest for us to ask three questions before we undertake any Big Data exercise.

1. what decisions drive waste in the business ?
2. which decisions could we automate to reduce this waste ?
3. what data would we need to do so ?

As an example we could take up the case of  Relinace Fresh store.

One of the greatest sources of waste in a Reliance Store among the Tera Bytes of other Big data generated on a daily basis is the great amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits that get wasted at its different stores.

Identify from Big Data which stores in which areas consume maximum of these fresh fruits and vegetables and which stores consume minimum. From this data we could automate decisionatas to give orders to suppliers and transporters of areas and shops which need maximum deliveries and stores which need minimum deliveries.

The data we need to take this decision to automate the supply decisions to specific Reliance Fresh locations would be sales of fresh fruits and vegetables across the different Reliance Fresh retail outlets across the city and the state.

Instead of analysing all the Big Data generated across the organisation, analysing only that data which generated maximum waste, turns out most beneficial to the organisation in the long run and is called finding the right data.

It would be great for us to find out which are the greatest sources of wastes in the transportation and logistics sector, in the manufacturing sector, in the healthcare sector and so on.


Ref : Maxwell Wessel , You dont need big data, you need the right data, HBR, Nov 2016.

Low cost innovation case LASER disposable Razors.

I was taken aback at  this offer from UK based "Laser" disposable Razors in India.

Great features are offered in this case as detailed below..

1. Triple bladed razor, 
2. Tilting facility to suit the curvature of your fac
3. Firm grip - anti slip handle
4. Top lubricating smooth strip - with aloe and Vitamin E to initially soothe and condition the skin, prior to blade movement
5. Complex blade tilt support mechanism ..
6. Great cost innovation
7. No more cuts and scars on face !

All this for just Rs 10/- per razor which can last at least for 5 - 10 shaves. (have to confirm... . )

A pack of ten for Rs 100/-. US $1.40  .. 

Mostly everybody shirk when the discussion of cost innovation comes as some poorly informed and prejudiced people feel that cost innovation works only in poor countries like India and China. But it is a fact the world needs to agree, that these are the two countries that are going to conquer the world with their cost conscious innovation policies. If the advanced countries still feel innovation in features is more important than innovation on costs, they will be proved wrong very soon.

The personal toiletry section in Indian bathrooms is an area which is seeing loads of innovations of late. Right from single blade fixed razors which causes many cuts and nicks on the cheeks to the five blade Gillete MACH3 razors with tiltable blades, the field has been innovating at a frenetic pace.

Feature and cost Innovation at its peak !!


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Pal's sudden service in Tennesse - what makes it tick ??

Within 80 miles of Kingsport Tennesse, are 26 locations of a super fast fast food outlet spread out in Tennesse and Virginia . Pal's fast food outlet ..The average time this fast food outlet takes to serve its customers is just 18 secs at a drive in counter and 12 seconds at a hand in counter. By the time you turn around the building and arrive at the other window, the order is ready for service.

This is Pal's super service. It is no small ordinary setup. It is the first restaurant company to have been awarded in 2001 the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award. Pal is known for its speed and accuracy. They make a mistake only once in 3600 orders ensuring great customer loyalty.

There is very less employee turnaround in this company, in all of 33 years of its history only 4 General managers at senior level have ever left the company, 1.4 percent at the Assistant Manager level and almost one third the industry average at the front office stage.

It makes a great learning to find how Pal's has been able to retain its employees. What surprises everyone is the great emphasis the company lays on selecting the right employees with attitude and then continuously training the,. Even though there are 1020 workers in the company's 26 locations, 90% of whom are part-time and 40% between the ages 16 and 18.

Lesson 1  - Hire for attitude and train for skills - a tough 60 point psychometric survey is able to catch the right candidate with the attitude and skills

Lesson 2 - Give employees constant opportunities for improvement - train the employees continuously, new employees are given upto 120 hours of on-the-job-training before given individual responsibilities. In every shift, in every location on every day two to four randomly selected employees are given a quiz to help re-certify them to be fit to do the job they are doing at that point of time, if they fail, they are taken off and given training till they qualify. On an average an employee can expect upto 2 to 3 pop quizzes in a month. This is an indication of the level of training and retraining the company gives to its employees so that they never err and are able to deliver the best standardised service to the customers.

Lesson 3 - Leaders have to be great teachers. All leaders at Pal are expected to spend at least 10% of their time teaching, having to identify a target subject and a target student every day.

Pal's commitment to hiring smart and teaching continuously their hires, makes them very responsible to their customers helping maintain great standards of service to their customers.

This is a great example of exemplary customer service of the best quality delivered in the shortest time. Click here for the video ..


Ref : 1. Bill Taylor, How one fast food chain keeps its turnover rates absurdly low, HBR, April 2017.
         2., last accessed 9 April 2017.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The changing global retailing landscape, some pointed observations ..

Walmart is a global retailing giant with operations in 28 countries. walmart is a common name across the world for students who have studied supply chain management who essentially have to take a case on their very efficient physical supply chain management practices, cross docking etc. Walmart is also a world leader in sustainability initiatives and efforts to reduce carbon footprint for the past fifteen years. This article is from the Walmart perspective to understand whether being socially alert and environmentally conscious (click here for the Walmart Global Resposnsibility (Sustainability) Report of 2016) will be appreciated by the global customers in the long run ?

Of late with the onset of electronic commerce there are a lot of apprehensions being raised regarding the ability of global retailers to establish themselves in the global scene. Has Walmart been successful in trying to catch up with the global leaders Alibaba and Amazon ? Are these fears unfounded or can Walmart, the physical retailer giant weather all these small storms and take on the retailing world yet again ?

As per the Fortune 500 list 2016, Walmart retains the top spot for the third year in succession with $482 billion annual revenue. Alibaba of China has been trying to catch up with the world's largest retailer and also the world's largest business conglomerate in terms of volume. For comparison, India's largest business conglomerate Tata Sons, the body that controls all Tata companies makes a turnover of just $103 billion a year, including their Jaguar LandRover operations, TCS etc.  Alibaba, the largest Chinese retailer is mainly B2B and B2C as is Walmart. Alibaba gets almost 100% of its business over the Internet, while Walmart gets app 3% of its sales over the Internet, about $13.7 billion out of $473 billion in 2016.

It will be of interest to understand the various steps global retailers take to establish themselves in the physical and online retail world. What are the changing features of the global retailing landscape ? Let us try to analyse some of them here.

1. Retailing modes : Except for Alibaba, both Walmart and Amazon has dual models of retailing. Walmart's dual model started with physical retail and then moved to combination of online and physical retail, the same as what Amazon is offering. The Amazon's dual model started with the online model and then moved to a combination of online and physical model. As of my understanding, only the last mile delivery is what is made possible with the physical model of distribution for Amazon.

2. Concentration in local markets : While Walmart and Amazon aims for global markets, Alibaba by the sheer size of Chinese market, gets almost 70% of its online business from China alone. Even though Walmart has operations in 28 countries around the world, there is a trend within Walmart to concentrate more in the United States as they feel US still offers the best market in the world for Walmart. This may not be true for Alibaba or Amazon.

3. Organic or inorganic growth : Walmart's belief in inorganic acquisition of online retailer and retaining it that way was based on a realisation that building a new online platform from scratch would be a costly and time consuming proposition for Walmart. Building up on somebody who is already there makes economic sense too. It has helped it to retain its clientele and improve on its online offering too. is a good platform from which Walmart can think of expanding in a big way. 

4. Rapid growth pace of global retailing : The rapid pace at which customers around the world are gobbling more and more products in a materialistic world which would make their lives easier and simpler plays a great role in the recent global trend to embrace retailing in a big way. The pace of change happening in a fast paced retail organisation is hourly from the earlier yearly schedules. Retail organisations need to be really on top of changes and adapt to changes fast in order to be able to respond to customer needs better.

5. The growth of the hybrid model : online grocery business is a fast paced one where customers get to select from a wide variety of items offline and cannot wait for days to take delivery. They do not mind having to go to a nearby physical store or warehouse to take delivery.  Amazon and Walmart depend on the hybrid model of retailing in a big way.

6. Stress on environment sustainability efforts : In the physical retailing world, Walmart is always be known as a company which has stood for good practices like ensuring environmental sustainability of its business operations, be it buying vegetables or harvesting fish from the seas and ensuring low carbon footprint of its operations. The issue which Walmart would face in the online world, whether it matters if one is environmentally friendly (with long-term benefits) or not as much as one is customer friendly (short-term benefits).

7. Effective monitoring of sustainability efforts : Another very pertinent question If so, who will reliably monitor these claims of environment sustainability efforts by these three giant retailers of the world ? Can Alibaba or Amazon claim to be as environmentally responsive as Walmart which has been regularly publishing its sustainability efforts in a big way ?

8. Public acceptance of sustainability efforts over short-term customer convenience : An interesting question the world is waiting for an answer is will people appreciate the companies that work for the environment too rather than just for the customer ?

9. Upskilling employees : The retailing world is growing at a fast pace and it has become essential for decision makers not only to concentrate on the markets but also on upskilling the employees.

10. Exacting employee requirements : As stores get more on the cloud and physical stores become just distribution centres, the worker at the store needs to be able to handle and operate handheld devices, analyse data, ask questions, receive data and so on. The workers need to be more tech savy than of past years. Digital natives (tech savy) citizens or the millennials need to be part of the management team at any organisation that is planning to go ahead and lead the world. These digital natives will help the organisation handle disruption much better than older workers.

Here are some questions worth pondering for Indian retailers and people interested in Indian retailing.
 a. In India, potentially the largest retail market in the world in another thirty years, will the initial Walmart strategy of joining hands with Airtel and presently going ahead alone fructify ?
b. Will Alibaba strategy of entering the Indian markets through Paytm be successful ?
c. Should TESCO look for a more serious player than Tata to establish itself in the Indian market ?
The author wishes to thank Harvard Business Review for some of the content for this article.

George Easaw
Ref : 1. "We need people to lean into the future" - an interview of Walmart CEO Doug Macmillon with Adi Ignatius, Exe-editor, HBR, April 2017

Friday, April 07, 2017

Trump pushes his armed forces to combat mode yet again !!

It was not long back, about sixteen years ago in 2001, Al Queda terrorists, funded and grown by US, attacked the World Trade Centre in New York. George Bush Jr. in return got the US forces to attack Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria (against IS). In the process lasting another eight years, US spent extra 3-4  trillion dollars, not to mention of loss of lives on both sides. Other than cultivate more enemies for US citizens across the world and make them more security conscious, more xenophobic, this armed aggression by US on the said states had no other benefit. Let us not mention about who cultivated Al-Queda with resources to fight Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and so on. The turnaround of Islamic militants to fight US interests around the world has been the most significant and important tactical impact of the fallout of the cold war.

Obstinate vs. amenable (war mongering vs peace loving..), pic courtesy CNN
Obama took over from Bush Jr and the world coulkd see the difference. Even though US did try its arm twisting tactics with some of its partners, enemies etc, never did it go out of the way. Obama kept US soldiers back in US and controlled US offensive on the rest of the world, used mediation over brute force and military might to control disputes between nations.  

Now the self-styled global policeman Trump, restarts US misadventure on the rest of the world with attacks on Syria .. One of the greatest motivational forces for the US and Russia to interfere in other parts of the world is the fact that nobody would care to fly right across half the globe to attack them in return.  If Syria is left to itself, with no external interference, it is something which they can take care of themselves. That may be difficult ln the present situation given that terrorist groups like ISIS, promoted and nurtured by US have now turned against it and is hurting Syria and Iraq in a big way. More and more external interference, time and again, from non-stakeholders is only helping complicate the Middle East crisis beyond redemption.

In the meantime, China and India exchange glances and heave a sigh of relief. They can focus now peacefully on their economic, infrastructural  and social growth. US will fight on their behalf ! Trump is a blockhead not to understand that this is the last chance for US to lead the world peacefully. China and India are just waiting to trash United States and Russia to the dustbin of history for all the sins of commission and omission they have subjected the rest of the world to.

It has also set the stage unwillingly for terrorists from other parts of the world to plan to refocus their attacks on the self-styled global policing nation of the world.

When a nation loses its global focus and becomes more inward-looking, to further it's selfish, grandiose plans, such events happen. Terrorist attacks, blood flow, suspicions, extra security, slow growth etc ..
The latest Syrian attacks are once again a reminder that unlike Obama, Trump lacking intelligence and patience can be drawn or pushed to military confrontation at the drop of a hat ..
What the erratic flip-floppery of Trump’s foreign policy really means is that America’s foes can easily manipulate the Trump administration into greater and greater military quagmires. Guardian, 7 April, 2017.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Religious vanity ..

( a shared doc..)

In an ancient temple, a number of pigeons lived happily on roof top.

 When the renovation of the temple began for the annual temple feast the pigeons relocated themselves to a Church nearby. 

The existing pigeons in the Church accommodated the new comers very well.

Christmas was nearing and the Church was given a facelift, All the pigeons had to move out and look for another place. 

They were fortunate to find a place in a Mosque nearby, The pigeons in the Mosque welcomed them happily. 

It was Ramadan time and the Mosque was repainted, All the pigeons now came to the same ancient temple. 

One day the pigeons on top found some communal clashes below in a market square. 

The baby pigeon asked the mother pigeon 
"Who are these people ?

The mother replied; they are "Human beings". 

The baby asked, 
But why are they fighting with each other...?

The mother said "These human beings going to temple are called 'Hindus' and the people going to Church are called 'Christians' and the people going to Mosque are called 'Muslims'. 

The Baby pigeon asked, "Why is it so? When we were in the Temple we were called Pigeons, when we were in the church we were called Pigeons and when we were in the Mosque, we were called Pigeons. Similarly they should be called just 'Human beings' wherever they go"?

The mother Pigeon said, 
'You and me and our Pigeon friends have experienced God and that's why we are living here in a highly elevated place peacefully. 

These people are yet to experience God. 

Hence they are living below us and fighting and killing each other.

Many of us Should Have Thinking as Pigeons 😊 but in spite of all the blessings and grace we have received, we act as human beings !!


The problem with the world is that we are led by "false" spiritual leaders who are very selfish and cannot think out of the box, are intolerant and are so heartless. These spiritual leaders instead of making the people think in broader terms , make them think very narrowly. They are able to manipulate and control the dumb minded believers for their selfish needs, like building bigger and bigger religious establishments, more and more religious establishments so that the spiritual leaders and their cronies can continue to live a life of luxury and exploit the people of the world.

And we the followers give ourselves up to being exploited by these spiritual leaders.

Beware the "false" spiritual leaders, the crooks who come to you in the name of God, most of them do not wish to serve humanity, instead want to exploit the people for their personal needs.

Let us be like the pigeons, not let ourselves be fooled by the leaders, fighting and killing each other.

Our spiritual leaders would definitely go unemployed if we follow the commandments to live peacefully on earth with every other living being, because we are all from that Supreme power called God, the God which these selfish spiritual leaders have apportioned to themselves for serving their personal and selfish needs.

How shameful that our spiritual leaders cutting across religions are getting so cunning and are not able to get out of their limited mindset and crooked thinking.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

HDFC and SBI, will they stick to a two way contract ??

Will SBI and HDFC stick to a 2 way contract or try to be unilateral and try to enforce a unilateral contract ? Sadly, since we are not aware of the legal provisions that could be invoked and enforced, we may out of ignorance and stupidity fall for these idiotic banks and their unilateral ways of getting things done.. Let us for the time being also forget that it is our money that is lying with these banks ..

Today I went to 2 HDFC ATMs in Koramangala, Bangalore and both did not have any money. This can happen to anybody anywhere in the country.

If there is no min balance in my account, HDFC can take Rs 250/-. Why not the other way round ? If the ATM does not have minimum balance, is HDFC ready to compensate me with Rs. 250/- two times, since I checked in 2 ATM machines ?

Spread this message.  Let's raise our voice against banks. Stop customer unfriendly banks like SBI, HDFC etc. fleecing customers. !!

George ..

PS : Pursuant to this on Thursday, 5 th April, I went to two ATMs of HDFC in Koramangala, and sad to say, the bank which I was having high hopes as a real customer friendly bank is out there to fleece me yet again .. They are adamant on punishing their customers and were locked today too. Can I expect them to be manly and customer friendly and pay me Rs 1000/- for the 4 disappointing and disillusioned visits to the branch ? Will I be yet again get disenchanted and regret my association with HDFC Bank as are the thousands of other HDFC and SBI customers ?

SBI may have become among the top 50 Banks of the world, but let them not forget it was the customers who made them so big . If they forget the customers and remain ungrateful to them, the fall will be great and pathetic for SBI, this is just a small warning..

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Toyota Way at Toyota Kirloskar plant at Bidadi, Bangalore, India.

What makes Toyota the global top automobile brand ? In 2016 Toyota's 10.2 million automobiles automobile production globally was just slightly behind and very close to Volkswagen's 10.3 million automobiles. (click here for the Forbes Report) It is their unique production philosophy and outlook on life which makes Toyota click.

This article is a writeup on Toyota's Indian operations and how Toyota is planning to make the Bidadi plant (click here for the video on how Toyota Etios is being made) as one of it's top production sites in the world.

Toyota Automobiles, Japan started manufacturing operations in India as a collaborative effort with Kirloskar in 1997 in India in Bidadi, near Bangalore, Karnataka. The first vehicle of the  Qualis brand, a Multi-Use-Vehicle (MUV), rolled out by 2000. Qualis was a runaway success for Toyota in India. It was so popular, that this initial high quality manufacturing pitch prepared the right environment and acceptance among Indians of Toyota quality and great Toyota vehicles to be introduced in India.

Even though Qualis production was stopped in 2005, the vehicle is still seen on Indian roads twelve years after its withdrawal from Indian markets and introduction elsewhere in the world. The initial Qualis success saw the introduction of many Toyota brands like Innova, Corolla, Camry, Fortuner and Toyota's special product for the Indian market, Etios and Etios Liva.

The following steps will demonstrate the commitment by the management of Toyota Japan through this plant of Toyota in India to ensure high standards of environmental consciousness practiced in the plant. As claimed by Toyota Bidadi, this is one of the most advanced plants of Toyota in the world and includes great environmental sustainability and solar energy initiatives in the plant. Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) Bidadi, India produces only 3,20,000 cars annually, producing 3 % of its global production.

First let us start with some of the great environmental and social steps initiated by Toyota which have been initiated in India, along with some of the other production sites in Japan. 

Monozukiri - manufacturing in harmony with the environment has been the guiding light behind Toyota's environmental sustainability initiatives. 

Environmental Sustainability initiatives :

1. Recycling of Water  - the water for daily consumption in the canteen, gardens, wash rooms, etc. are all recycled with the help of a water recycling plant that recycles 60% of all treated effluent. Only water for cooking and drinking is taken from outside. High volume Rainwater harvesting plant of 25,000 cubic metres captures rainwater using it for plant needs for 4 months and supplements the efforts at conserving use of water.

2. Minimise waste and implementation of 5S - the basic philosophy of lean is to minimise waste and orderliness to the shopfloor.  Minimising the eight wastes in the plant is Toyota motto (as is the guiding principle of Toyota philosophy, presently renamed as Lean manufacturing)

3. Transition to solar energy - a 3 MW solar plant now meets less than 50% of the power needs in the plant which Toyota is planning to increase to meet 50% of the plant energy needs by 2020 and is working to meet 100% energy needs by solar energy by 2035. 

A view of final assembly line, courtesy Malayala Manorama.
4. Solar sludge drying for drying and safe disposal of hazardous wastes produced inside the plant, based on the superior co-processing technology adopted by major corporations across the world has helped Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) reduce its carbon footprint

5. Reducing CO2 emissions - Using route optimisation, the supply of spare parts to the various distribution centres across the country using LCVs having only 20% space utilisation was shifted to smaller vehicles ensuring 80% space utilisation. This helped TKM save 10.3 T of CO2 emission and saving INR 3,00,000 a year.

6. The bio-gasifier plant inside the factory premises handles daily 1.5 tonnes of food waste generated in the TKM canteen and converts it into 100-120 cu.m of biogas, a non-polluting renewable source of energy, saving 40-50 kg of LPG consumption a day and generating app 140 kg of solid manure daily used in the gardens..

7. Use of racks from suppliers while supplying spare parts reduces packaging.- Toyota may the first in the country to use this unique style of taking delivery of items from suppliers. Usually spare parts come in  paper or plastic packaging and once the parts are used in the assembly the packing material is waste that needs to be properly reused, recycled or destroyed. Toyota has come up with the unique method where by the suppliers are sent spare parts racks by Toyota which are filled by the suppliers and sent to Toyota. After the spare parts are used, these empty racks are again sent to the suppliers who fill them and return it to Toyota with new spare parts. The cycle continues saving large amounts of waste packing materials.

8. Toyota is the first company in India to use water based paints the company was the first to use water based paint, even though it was costlier, it is environment friendly. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) that float around in the paint shop as the paint solvent vapourises, is a major health hazard. Water based paints are a great initiative from Toyota to reduce VOC emissions and build healthy workplaces.

9. Planting 2.5 lakh saplings inside the 432 acres Bidadi campus of TKM has helped bring back green cover and oxygen.

10. Toyota's great emphasis on ensuring safety - The customary Toyota hand gestures (pointing the right hand fingers sequentially to the front, left and right sides, ensuring there are no vehicles or people coming from any of these directions, before crossing any road, is a classical exercise which would catch the attention of any visitor to Toyota premises). In fact, visitors at the plant are given brief instructions on the safety precautions practiced on the shop floor, before they are allowed to visit the shop floor. Even while walking along corridors, visitors are given instructions to keep themselves to the left side. Toyota corridors are safe passageways for employees..
All Toyota cars came with dual air bags across all models, with 100 per cent anti-lock braking system and was awarded four star in the Global NCAP crash test.

Social initiatives : 

11. Gurukul, the learning centre. All of the employees who join Toyota are mostly unaware of the Toyota philosophy (or lean thinking). They are compulsorily made to take a 5 day primer course at the Gurukul. The Gurukul also gives training to the employees on maintaining good health and teaches safety precautions while inside the plant.

12. Toyota Technical Training Institute (TTTI) - established in 2007 as part of Toyota's Corporate Soial Responsibility Initiative (CSR) about 40 selected students after their 10th or 12th are given intense training for almost three years before they are inducted into the Toyota production line.

The unique nature in which Toyota differs from the rest oif the manufacturing world is the way in which they plan their manufacturing. While usually organisations make a demand forecast and try to plan to meet this demand, Toyota is one of the few companies in the world that manufactures to meet customer demand.

Takt time - production according to customer demand. Even though the Toyota assembly line is capable of a minimum takt time of 67 secs (ie. in a shift the maximum production possible from the line working 480 minutes in a shift is (480 x 60) / 67 = 430 units) depending on customer demand this varies. Toyota produces only to meet actual customer demand, not future potential customer demand. Presently the takt time is 465 seconds on the second advanced plant, ie. 62 units of automobiles of different brands a shift.

Were it not for the innovative manufacturing style initiated by Toyota, we would not have been blessed with some of the finest quality cars in the world today. As a tribute to the founding fathers of Toyaota a Visit to Toyota Hall is a must for all visitors visiting Toyota plant anywhere in the world. All visitors are explained the Toyota way of life in the Toyota Hall where every visitor gets to see an exhibition of pictures that highlight the birth of the company in Japan in 1939, its founders and key leaders, besides a power point presentation of the Toyota highlights and Toyota Production. 

Click for my earlier writings on Toyota , Ten points to some great learning and the other one on Lean Manufacturing at Toyota Bidadi ..

While the first assembly line of Toyota assembles the older versions of Fortuner, Innova, Camry etc, the modern second assembly line assembles Etios, Liva and Corolla Altis. Corolla is by the way, the automobile model which has sold almost 37 million numbers throughout the world and is the largest selling automobile model in the world from any auto manufacturer.

Bidadi plant of Toyota has an annual capacity of assembling 3,20,000 vehicles, though it is still  pain as Toyota still imports the engine, power transmission and gear box from plants around the world as they are not yet sure whether the workforce in India would be able to match up with the high standards of quality and excellence attained by Toyota around the world. This also partly explains why, after importing automobile components taking up almost 70% value of the final automobile, Toyota is not able to gets its cars on Indian roads at less than Rs 7 lakhs on-road price, while other low end Japanese, German, Korean and French manufacturers like Honda, Suzuki, Volkswagen, Renault, Hyundai are able to offer cars at less than or near about Rs 5 lakhs.

Click here for the link in Malayalam from the Malayalam newspaper Malayala Manorama, an excellent piece. Having been associated with Toyota Bidadi and teaching Lean Manufacturing at a prominent University In  Bangalore, I can say that this is really a great article on the Toyota Way of Lean Manufacturing. In the article, you find lean is not a just a manufacturing philosophy for Toyota, it is a life philosophy.

Toyota having built their most advanced automobile plant in India also speaks volumes of the importance Toyota attaches to this great and most ancient economy of the East, which has already pushed Japan to the fourth position and is the third largest economy of the world.

References : 
1. Toyota Kirloskar takes steps to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions, The Hindu, Business, 28 Dec 2016 
PS - 1. the author teaches Lean Manufacturing at Alliance University, Bangalore, India. He can be reached at 
2. Technological Innovation especially in energy area has helped India advance in critical areas of energy application. India's advanced expertise in the solar technology application area cannot be demonstrated any better than with the help of the world's first and only 100% solar energy powered, energy neutral International airport, a super critical application, fully functional and operational in Kochi, Kerala, India (the third largest airport in the country with 1.5 million sq ft area handling 9 million passengers annually) for the past twenty months without occurence of any accident or untoward event. Click for the link here...

Data Visualisation Presentation..

Dr. Sukanya explaining the finer aspects of Data Visualisation in R Today 19 July 2019, Business school and Engineering school of Alli...

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