Sunday, December 31, 2006

The rear view...

Its yet another 31st of December, and time is trying to tick its way into the next year. All newspapers, TV channels, magazines et al are bustling with the flashbacks of the year gone by. On my own turf, I thoroughly enjoyed the year that went by - with a lot of new things, mingled with old. Some of it I want to jot here, as my farewell gesture to 2006.
Bookswise, it was a very fruitful year - both in terms of books purchased and books read.I built up a collection of more than a 100 books ( of course I am proud!). I got introduced to some amazing authors like Orhan Pamuk, Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood, Jose Saramago

Favorite reads of the year: Snow, My name is Red, Never Let me go, The Double, The Blind Assassin, Possession, The Pickup
This was a great year for travel as well, though of course not as much as last year, when Europe offered a platter to explore. But then, India is no less. I saw the hills, snow, mist, and the spleandour of the sea.I traversed through the backwaters, spent days on a cruise, took a 52 hour train journey and enjoyed a drive through Himachal
Places I visited: Mukhteshwar, Chila, Rishikesh, Trivendrum, Kovalam, Alleppy, Cochin, Lakshadweep, Matheran,Lonavala, Khandala, Tungareshwar, Mahabaleshwar, Goa, Coorg, Simla, Kufri, Naldhera and Fagu. Also visited Bhopal and Cal for the first time.
With a lot of free time in the c
ampus as the slower sixth term rolled on, there was enough scope for movie-watching and I watched some really good movies this year.
Favorite movies of the year: CRASH, Dor, The Prestige, Godfather, The Omen, RDB, Walk The Line, Blanc, Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi, Malena

This was also an year when I got introduced to the charm of theatre for the first time. I did not watch as many plays as I would have liked to watch, but the ones I watched were quite gripping.
Favorites: The open couple, Mitr, Vagina Monologues

New stuff:
Yes, there were a lot of new happenings in life. Moving out of campus, shifting to Mumbai, Joining JPMorgan, rejoining i2, going to pubs, watching theatre, getting on Orkut, doing a trek through water, etc. Above all, for the first time I saw a brown land turn into white as snow covered it in its beautiful shine. And it was a beautiful moment, not only because it was a pretty site, but also because some of my closest friends stood with me as I saw that happen..
On that note, I wish that beautiful year a goodbye.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

See those stores!

After much deliberation, hue and cry, it seems big retail is finally making headway in India. Despite all the red efforts and Government's flimsy doors made of FDI caps, consumerism has managed to hold its reign and is bringing to the country what many consumers have been asking for years.
I wonder what had kept the Indian players from venturing in this space for such a long time. Of all the places in the world, India can be counted upon to give enough business to value stores, given its abundance of "value-conscious" buyers. Then why do we need foreign money to cash in on a great, almost sureshot business opportunity?
So it is a great relief to see that finally this common sense has alighted on the celebrated groups of our country. After a lot of hush hush activity, Reliance finally unraveled its ambitious plans of taking the country to a new level with 1000 stores in the next 5 years modeled after the most popular player in the field - Walmart. On the side, Walmart, tired of waiting to get regulatory approval for an entry in one of its sourcing destinations, decided to enter via backdoor through an alliance with Bharti - the one enterpreneur who had been quick to nail another blockbuster opportunity in India in telecomm. Since this announcement, ET has daily been giving one news or the other on the upcoming mega-retail, which, combined with the nearing vacation season, gives a touch of festivity to the economic scenario in the country. While the AVBirla is rushing to go the reliance way, existing retails players like pantaloon are breaking out of their complacency of being the only players. Other global players like Lottemart and Tesco (who had been outmaneuvered by Walmart in the Bharti alliance) are still looking at entry strategies into the market and keeping our consultants busy and thriving.
Apart from giving employement to our consultants, these mega retails are also generating scores of other jobs. Every personnel in reliance has become a headhunter scouting for talent. From IT Services to logistics, this sector is driving investments in a lot of arenas. I personally am happy, both as a service provider and as the consumer who is looking forward to all the added avenues for her retail therapy, thankfully at prices affordable for my wallet (Apart from the fact that I will not have to wait for a US trip to buy all the attractive cosmetics and Stationary that Walmart offers! )
So what was Government's aim in putting up those flimsy walls? The largescale benefits to the economy are enough to downplay the effect these stores might have on the mom and pop stores that the Govt is trying to protect. Of course the overcharging bania should be driven out to lead way for a more efficient medium. Besides, the size of the country offers enough scope for different retail formats to coexist. No large chains can reach every corner of the country, and I will still not want to stand in a queue of a large store for buying a loaf of bread. The smaller stores will only need to become more customer-friendly and fair to survive in the race, because the buyers will be weighing the cost savings in going to the large stores against the convinience offered by these players. How can it be unethical to drive a complacent set to reach for better efficiency and service?
Besides, does the Govt think that foreign money is more dangerous in disposing these stores as compared to Indian money which is now being sprung into the sector? The logic of it beats me.
Anyways, irrespective of what the Govt might be thinking, thousands of women in this country are sure waiting with excitement to get more chance to do what they love most - SPLURGE!!!