Monday, November 30, 2015

Why MBA after engineering - an analysis

Article on BE + MBA by Sandeep Manudhane
A dream can come true with right engineering
Typically, an MBA post Engineering makes you look quite bright from the employment perspective, provided your aptitude and attitude match what's taught in the MBA programme and you are able to significantly add new skills and a "thinking approach".

Being confused about your future is a pretty healthy thing, as it means you are evaluating several options. You are thinking. You are not sure. This is how it should be, initially. No worries!

I will help you understand the right approach to getting an answer to this question.

Choosing any career

For any student stuck in a dilemma, a good basic course of action is:

  1. Introspection - Undertake a serious process of introspection to identify your triggers.
  2. What you love - Find out what are 3 or 4 things you would love to do consistently for many years, day in and day out, and be happy doing those.
  3. Listing - Make a list of everything you thus evaluate.
  4. Feedback - Discuss with family, friends and those you trust.
  5. Reality-check - Check your background dispassionately - what a student does through schooling and college years is a reasonably good indicator of future potential in terms of entrepreneurship or business leadership.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Politicians v/s Bureaucrats - a comparison

Students often ask me who is more powerful - a politician, or a bureaucrat? The answer can be quite nuanced, and detailed.

sandeep manudhane, sm sir, PT education, ias
First, the basic definitions. 

A politician is one who represents her/his people, and makes the primary decisions on matters that decide the mode of assets/resources distribution & sharing. In rare instances, she/he may decide on life-and-death matters too (warfare/ terror/ abortion/ religion/ health etc.)

A bureaucrat is one who brings broad or narrow sectoral expertise and administrative acumen to help the politician achieve the goals the policies have set. She/he is not required to earn public approval, and is more permanent in that sense. For the purpose of this answer, I'll include all types of civil services under this definition. Also, my answer is not restricted to just India.

Let's begin listing the powers and limitations -

BR Ambedkar Indian Constitution PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir PT Indore
Ambedkar, the lawmaker
  1. Laws: A politician makes the laws. A bureaucrat implements them through drafting of micro rules, regulations and by running the implementation machinery. Together, they become the sarkaar.
  2. Sanction: A politician earns public approval through elections. A bureaucrat earns his position through a process of examination.
  3. Harmony: Due to point 2, a politician can harmonise mutually antagonistic perceptions of various communities. A bureaucrat will never be in a position to do so.
  4. Visible Power: A politician can muster up public support to protest government actions, or bureaucratic apathy, inaction or opposition. A bureaucrat can seek legal/systemic redressal only, and not hit the street to voice grievances.
  5. Entrepreneurship: A politician can run a business empire in parallel, either clandestinely or openly (as long as he/she can prove an arm's length connection). A bureaucrat automatically earns disqualification if he turns a commercial entrepreneur.
  6. Stability: A politician rides a lion all through his career. A bureaucrat walks the concrete road of system and processes.
    Margaret Thatcher Indira Gandhi brightsparks blog Sandeep Manudhane PT education SM sir Indore
    Iron Ladies - Margaret & Indira
  7. Scope: A politician can transform the entire selection process of bureaucrats. A bureaucrat can significantly delay or sabotage the politician's desire to do so, by apathy, inaction or complexification.
  8. Limits: Due to society's general inertia, a cunning and immoral politician almost exclusively reserves the right to indulge in abusive verbiage, harassment and criminal activities. A bureaucrat will have to be extremely stealthy about it!
  9. Grandiloquence: A politician can massage his ego regularly by making grandiose statements like - "an investment of Rs 1 lac crore will soon be made to achieve world class output in X sector". A bureaucrat cannot say anything like this ever unless formally sanctioned by the government after policy making.
  10. Stamina: A politician runs the gauntlet frequently, and has to face abusive crowds, heat and dust of the land, and rough and tumble of political conspiracies. It requires the skin of a pachyderm to endure and succeed. A bureaucrat can stay aloof, dedicated, quiet and still achieve a lot.
  11. One up: A politician can transfer a bureaucrat. A bureaucrat can arrest / prosecute a politician.
  12. Leeway: A politician can make loose interpretations of the law. A bureaucrat can make subjective interpretations of the politician's directives.
  13. Money: A politician can make a lot of money, without being perceived as being dishonest. An honest bureaucrat cannot.
    Pandit Nehru Congress image for Bright Sparks blog of Sandeep Manudhane sir
    Pandit Nehru
  14. Transformation: A single politician can transform a nation completely. Examples - Pt. Nehru (India), Deng Xiaoping (PRC), Mikhail Gorbachev (USSR), General Zia ul Haq (Pakistan), Nelson Mandela (S Africa), Abraham Lincoln (USA). A single bureaucrat just cannot. The reverse is equally true - a single evil politician with determination can totally destroy his people, and entire bureaucracy may be unable to do anything about it.
  15. Enablers: A politician can create an enabling environment for bureaucrats to deliver. Example - PM Shri Narendra Modi. A determined bureaucrat can transform a single system to enable long term political stability. Example - Ex Chief Election Commissioner Shri T N Seshan (IAS) who radically improved Indian electoral processes.
  16. Intersection: A politician can, in certain situations, act like a true bureaucrat. Example - the Constituent Assembly that drafted the nitty-gri
    tty of the elaborate Indian constitution. A bureaucrat can, in certain situations, control the raging fires of separatism. Example - IPS officer J F Ribiero in Punjab during the insurgency.
  17. Crossing over: A politician cannot usually crossover to become a bureaucrat. Many bureaucrats become politicians. Examples - Ajit Jogi (ex IAS), Arvind Kejriwal (ex IRS), Kiran Bedi (ex IPS).
    Arvind Kejriwal Kiran Bedi image for Bright Sparks blog of Sandeep Manudhane
    Arvind Kejriwal (IRS), Kiran Bedi (IPS) 
  18. Losing their sleep: A politician loses sleep when public support wanes. A bureaucrat may lose sleep when political support wanes!
  19. Transparency: A politician can subject everyone else, except himself, to public scrutiny. A bureaucrat can do nothing about it. Example - the RTI Act in India, which presently exempts political parties from scrutiny
  20. Peace of mind: Whomsoever you may be, this surely has to be earned!

Hope this helped!

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Monday, November 16, 2015

What is inflation?

While a lot of technical literature is available if one wants to learn more about inflation, I present some alternative perspectives to understand what inflation can mean.

Here goes:

  • Inflation is when you feel good about the economy, but end up not saving much at the end of every month.
  • Inflation is when you really want to praise the Central Bank governor for being so technically astute, but lack the feel-good to do so.
  • Inflation is that which bites you hard when the Minister claims it would not.
    RBI Raghuram Rajan Sandeep Manudhane SM sir PT education PT's IAS Academy
    Inflation is a monster we keep trying to tame!
  • Inflation is high when you passionately try to explain a class of students why it cannot be otherwise, given the macro economic fundamentals.
  • Inflation is what remains hidden, and ready to explode, after years of Federal Reserve's Q.E. effort.
  • Inflation is the fantastic man-made monster that arises from another fantastic man-made monster 'money', that arose from yet another fantastic man-made monster 'progress'.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The magic of Nanotechnology

The magical atoms!

While at school, all of us studied about atoms and molecules. We were told these were really small physical constructs, and had almost magical properties at the nano level.

As we grew up, we read more about the "magic" that is possible at the atomic, or nano, level. Scientists the world over have tried to learn how to manipulate single atoms, to enable creation of magic drugs or machines that can cure seemingly incurable diseases.

Nanotechnology is the study of matter at the nano scale, and the immense possibilities that open up. As part of our training programme for UPSC IAS exam, I took a session on it, and here it is! 

The session is conducted bi-lingually (English + Hindi), and I have tried to explain the rather complex topic in an easy to understand manner. 


You are welcome to enquire more about this programme. 

Please visit and let us know. Best wishes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How to spend last few days before UPSC Mains

Exams IAS CAT Sandeep Manudhane PT PT's IAS Academy SM sir
Tick Tock!
Here's a 30 DAY STRATEGY prior to UPSC MAINS

Right in the middle of the Diwali festivities, the candidates who cleared Prelims are neck deep into the finishing touches for Mains 2015. The last month is very crucial. A lot of anxiety, trepidation and many questions regarding what and how. 

Let's analyse it pointwise:

1. What should have been done by now

  • By now you should have had gone through the entire Mains syllabus at least twice - for GS as well as the Optional subject.
  • Your hand-written notes - what we call POWER NOTES - should be totally ready for final revision
  • You should have had a decent exposure to writing answers and should already have appeared for some mock tests for Mains.
  • The habit of reading newspapers and magazines has already become second nature to you, and you should now be revising current affairs with full confidence.
  • The last month is the make or break month for aspirants. If these days are not utilized properly all efforts put earlier can end up un-optimised.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Politicians versus Civil Servants

A lot of students often wonder, who is more powerful - a politician or a civil servant?

Put crudely - "a CM or an IAS officer?"

This question is similar to the following:
IAS Civil Servant PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir IIM CAT
Yes Minister!
  1. Who is more powerful in a company - the CEO or the Departmental Heads?
  2. Who is more powerful in an army - the Supreme Commander or the Field Generals?
  3. Who is more powerful in a Political Party - the President or the District Heads?
In all these cases, to the uninitiated, the answer is clear - the first guy mentioned.

But to a more mature eye, the power of the 'first' depends so intimately on the workings of the second. Will a CEO be effective without proper execution by the various departmental heads (of, say, Finance, HR, Marketing, Production etc.)? Will the Supreme Commander of an Army be any good without the bravery and tactical brilliance of the field generals? Can the President of a political party alone drive home electoral victories without the involvement of other members?

As is clear, the top guy in an organisation depends on the web of relationships that flow from him, under him and through him. He/she can set the tone and the flow, but the ultimate execution depends on a whole host of factors, including involvement of everyone else.

Indian democracy stands on the three pillars name the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. There is mutual support, and checks-and-balances among them to ensure that no single entity becomes all-powerful. Further, since the Constitution explicitly vests certain powers in the services, no one can take them away (except through a long & complicated process).

If the officer is honest, and wants no special favours from the political bosses, there is virtually nothing that can stop him/her from carrying out the mandated duties.

Few points to consider:

PM Narendra Modi IAS officers BrightSparks blog PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir Indore
Political Executive with Administrative Executive
  1. Politicians come and go. But civil servants are permanent.
  2. A chief minister can be removed anytime by the Central Command of the party. But a civil servant can only be transferred between locations or posts.
  3. The Chief Minister can carry out a major shuffling of administrative machinery from time to time, but even for that, she/he has to depend on the Chief Secretary (an IAS officer).
  4. The Union Cabinet headed by the PM and made up of various Ministers can take major decisions, but the execution and 'filling-up-of-legal-requirements' depends on the Cabinet Secretary (an IAS officer).
  5. Unfortunately, when it comes to corruption, dishonest individuals in both profiles can outdo each other!

It is all about a balance ultimately.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Should governments own and run all companies?

ussr lenin sandeep manudhane PT education SM sir blog contact guitar indore youth

You have nothing to lose but your chains!

This question lies right at the heart of the historical socialism and communism versus capitalism debate. Ownership and management of assets is the key issue here. 

The idea initially sounds completely credible, only to the point when you start executing it.

  1. The USSR tried to do it. Failed completely.
  2. Mao Tse-tung's China tried to do it. Ended in disaster.
  3. North Korea does it today. Citizens are ruined.
  4. Venezuela under Hugo Chavez leaned towards it. A bad idea it proved to be.
Why does it have to be so? Why can't governments, the official representatives of people, own all assets, production and distribution?

Top reasons why it's a bad idea:

  1. Business is not the business of governments: So what is the business of any government? To govern. To provide basic services that make civilisation possible (healthcare, education, access to food, safety, security, cleanliness, mass transportation etc.) To collect taxes and use it to run these services. To ensure that a fair deal is given to one and all.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What was experiencing the economic reforms 1991 like - a primer

What did the economic reforms 1991 do to India? To begin with -
  1. they made consumerism desirable, brought in the first wave of multinational goods into India and made fancy consumer goods suddenly visible
  2. they made the IIMs a brand worth chasing; suddenly everyone wanted to be an MBA
  3. they changed the whole political and social discourse in India
Deng Xiaoping Sandeep Manudhane PT education SM sir Indore youth
The cat and its colours
Much like the Deng Xiaoping era witnessed in China after 1979, when he would exclaim that "to be rich is glorious", India was to witness its own Deng moment.

Allow me to offer a detailed insight. I was lucky to have witnessed, analysed, taught and lived the entire phase of the first generation economic reforms started by the team of PM Rao, FM Dr Singh, and Commerce Minister Mukherjee, beginning 1991. I was doubly lucky to have witnessed the tumultuous 1980s, when India witnessed a chaotic political scene, and ultimately which forced the Rao government's hands in 1991 to bring in economic liberalisation.

I distinctly remember the entire period of the first wave of Indian economic reforms (1991-1995), as that was the time I was in college (1989-1993), about to graduate, and making plans for my life. No one had expected that the Indian government would suddenly change track, and open up the floodgates of economic reforms so soon. But it happened, and India and its contours changed dramatically in just a span of 5 years. Almost each day brought with it headline news of government relaxing the rules of the game! Imagine an ET headline - "Government scraps Industrial Licensing" - that's how dramatic it was.