Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2013 edition of India Business Conference at Columbia

Glad to announce that the 2013 edition is out.

India Business Conference 2013
Wishing good luck to the organizers! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Does Bschools incubate criminals? 
The article says - " in most bschools, the perspective is ethics are only for those students who aren’t smart enough to avoid getting caught. "

My personal experience has been different. Courses such as M&A by Prof. Hitscherich and Advanced corporate finance by Prof. Hodrick, and many others had multiple discussions about insider trading, people going to jail, the loss of moral values etc. However, at the end of the day, one needs to figure out for oneself what your values are. And most likely, those are set long before you set afoot in an MBA environment.

Rajat Gupta, Anil Kumar may be convicted and they both had MBA. Correlation doesn't imply causation. This was also taught in my MBA :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Studying Public Policy in the Indian Context

Since my undergraduate days, I've been interested in current affairs. Moving to USA, this interest grew into a passion for public policy especially after seeing how the policies and the processes associated were different in these two countries. In the past few years, I've tried to build my knowledge about the Indian  context of public policy, and a resource I greatly depended upon was Pragati (a magazine)

I admire the people behind Takshashila, the institution and the group of bloggers behind Indian National Interest. During the days of lokpal struggle, I noticed their view point was different from mine. I reflected that mine was more emotional while their argument was mostly based on what works within policy context. I knew it was time for me to develop a strong foundation if I ever want to be part of the process as a bureaucrat, politician, think tank member or just as an informed citizen. When Takshashila offered a graduate certificate in public policy, I knew this was the best opportunity. I wrote the essays, and submitted the application during the last month of my MBA at CBS.

While partying in Puerto Rico, I got the good news that I'm in. Now, I'm a member of a class of 50+ students from various walks learning public policy over the summer. 

For the very first assignment on the course on Intro to Public Policy Analysis, we were asked the following questions. My answers are embedded (thrilled to get an A and start on the right foot!). The expectation is not to base it on value judgments but rather focus on the policy context.

It is not uncommon for thugs belonging to political parties to engage in violence. Such violence could range from enforcing “bandhs” to carrying out organized riots. If a thug is affiliated to a ruling party engage in acts of violence, is the state responsible?

No, the state is not responsible.                                                                                  
·        By “responsible” we mean the state deserves punishment.
·        The event is hypothetical or in other words, yet to happen.
Based on the textbook definitions we know that State is a political union under one government. The ruling party and the government are two separate entities; even if it’s not a coalition. As such, if a thug engages in a violent act, s/he is responsible for the action and should face the consequences based on the rule of law. Also, the ruling party should take disciplinary actions against the individual in the hope of reducing the occurrences of such incidents.  In case the event has already happened and one believes the government has somehow tried/managed to undermine the rule of law then I’d believe the government deserves punishment, may be a PIL to the Supreme Court could trigger the proceedings in such a situation.

The Indian Army stages a Flag March in an area suffering from political violence. The purpose of the Flag March is to deter violence by showing its presence (and implicitly, its superior capability to use force). Peace is restored, in effect, by terrifying the population. Is this ‘state terrorism’?

Yes, it is state terrorism.
·        The Army’s intent to use force is established 100%
·        The people involved are all citizens of India
Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. The state by showing intent to use force, is clearly trying to intimidate its citizens. The reason for this action may be to establish the rule of law again in the territory, however that has no bearing on whether it is terrorism or not. If one starts enveloping context around terrorism, then this definition will be a relative one which I don’t agree with. Terrorism is terrorism, regardless of who employs it and for what reason.                                                                                                                                                                 

Monday, April 23, 2012

India Business Conference Media Coverage

India: Maintaining Momentum

 When we join Columbia Business School, we get involved in many things on campus. It's a chaos and you just try to live in the moment. After a semester or two a time comes when you might think more deeply about how you wish to make a real difference during your time in school.

We learn many aspects of leadership at school and even pass judgments on various cases that we study in courses like Organizational Change and Top Management Process. But only platforms such as India Business Conference actually provide us with a real world experience on leadership. My experience chairing the conference along with Shobhit Datta was phenomenal. I enjoyed working with the team and develop my own organizational skills. Together, I can proudly say that we have raised the bar for future IBC conferences even higher!

The theme for this year’s conference was India: Maintaining Momentum. The conference brought together various perspectives on the question on everyone’s mind. Is the story of India’s rise losing steam? After a few strong years of growth, India is struggling to maintain its high growth trajectory. Lack of political will, structural constraints, and declining investor confidence are challenging the previous inevitability of high growth rates in India.

The impressive line-up of speakers including the Indian Ambassador to USA Mrs. Nirupama Rao, Padma Vibhushan Prof. Jagdish Bhagwati, Mr. George Alexander Muthoot (MD, Muthoot Finance), Padma Bhushan Prof. Arvind Panagariya, Mr. Anoop Singh (Director, IMF), Mr. Rajesh Jain (Founder, Netcore Solutions), Mr. Manoj Singh (Global COO, Deloitte), Mr. Ron Somers (President, USIBC), Dr. Alex Preker (World Bank) and many others tackled the topic from various angles.

This year the conference pushed the envelope further by inviting Dr. Kiran Bedi to engage the audience in a thought provoking and captivating discussion on corruption in India and how the youth of Indian diaspora based in the US can play a vital role in developing the country.

The conference provides the students real world training in leadership by allowing them to strategize and execute a conference of such scale and stature. This year’s conference was sponsored by Incredible India (Ministry of Tourism, India), Infosys, Muthoot Group, State Bank of India and Chazen Institute.
The conference leadership - Prasanth Ramanand (Conference Chair), Shobhit Datta (Conference Chair), Sachee Trivedi (AVP) worked for over six months to put together the conference and a larger team over a dozen MBA students worked tirelessly in the last few days to execute everything into perfection.

Quote from an audience member, Anupama Ahluwalia – “Just wanted to say thanks to you and your team for putting up such a wonderful conference...excellent panelists. I am so glad I went for the conference yesterday.

Quote from one of the partners, Bhinish Shah (Asha for Education NYC/NJ) -  IBC was an incredible experience, and one of the best business conferences I've attended. The quality of the panelists was probably second to none.  The focus on sustaining momentum and opportunities in India not only covered the private sector, but also spoke about the rising middle class, and the problems still facing the Indian diaspora. The NYC/NJ chapter of Asha for Education was fortunate to have a presence at the conference, and we look forward to being there again! We'd like to thank the conference chairs- Prasanth  and  Shobhit for putting on a spectacular event.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

India Business Conference 2012

India: Maintaining Momentum
April 14, Low Library, Columbia University

Is the story of India’s rise losing steam? After a few years of strong growth, India is struggling to maintain its high growth trajectory. Lack of political will, structural constraints, and declining investor confidence are challenging the previous inevitability of high growth rates. Join our esteemed speakers as these issues and more are debated at the conference. 

To purchase your tickets, please visit :

Keynote Address:
Prof. Jagdish Bhagwati: Intellectual Father of Indian Economic Reforms
Dr. Kiran Bedi: First female Indian Police Service officer, Core Committee member of "India Against Corruption" movement
Mrs. Nirupama Rao: Hon. Ambassador of India to the United States of America

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Leadership roles I played this year

I've spent two semesters at CBS already! The next wave of newbies will arrive, come fall. Looking back, the year had enough ups and downs to make it interesting and worthwhile. It's funny to note that the 2nd years who graduated had a "disorientation party" in May. The class of 2013 will have the "orientation week" in August. Where does that put us, the class of 2012? I for one am eagerly looking forward to the 2nd year. With one year at CBS, now I know what to do and what not to and there's so much left to do. I wonder how it feels if you do a 1year MBA. How much quickly can you get settled, when do you try out new things and when do you have the liberty to do course correction? Oh well, I'm a proponent of the two year program then, I guess!

I know I've to blog about many topics that occurred through the year. For this post, I'm going to focus on some of the "leadership" activities I contributed to at CBS in the past two semesters. As I wrote long ago, there are many avenues at CBS where one can develop these skills. My resume lists the following.
  • AVP Careers, South Asia Business Association (2011)
  • Member, Hermes Society (2011 & 2012)
  • Volunteer, India Business Conference (2011)
  • Co-chair, India Business Conference (2012)
  • Peer Advisor, Class of 2013 (2012)
If you are a serious applicant or already been admitted you'd have learned that there is an AVP role available for every single first year who wants one :-). That's not to disregard the importance of these roles but to say that there are enough opportunities to showcase and build these skills. As an international first year student and on top of that a career changer, recruiting was on the top of my mind from the day I set foot in the campus. Therefore, I gravitated naturally towards a role that would work on getting together the various 2nd year students who have been there and done that and set up discussion panels and mentoring sessions for the 1st years.

One thing, I would recommend is to develop relationships with 2nd year students during my first semester itself. First semester life is very busy and there are more than enough things to do everyday when you are recruiting for finance/consulting. And also you prioritize getting to know your cluster better, figuring out accounting and any other difficult subjects that you may more or less forget these 2nd years are also in the same campus. The various clubs do a good job in getting the 2nd years and 1st years to mix especially during the first semester, but not every 2nd year is an active member in these clubs.

Hermes society is a club that assists the adcom. There is an application/interview process to get membership. It was a great experience being part of Hermes. I met with many prospective/admitted students, replied to many emails especially from applicants in India and also got to call/email and congratulate a new bunch of admits from India/South Asia.

As a first year, one gets involved in many things on campus. It's a chaos and you just try to live in the moment. After two semesters of that, a time comes when you might think more deeply about how you wish to make a real difference, like leaving a mark/legacy for the future. To me, the India Business Conference fills that void.  I had great fun and enjoyed the experience of volunteering for this year's conference with a bunch of 2nd year and 1st year students who were part of SABA club. The commitment to the conference, the positive attitude especially during challenging times that I observed in two of the 2nd year co-chairs - Surya Mohan and Saurabh Malpani really inspired me. And the way the team of 2nd and 1st years jelled together, the camaraderie was outstanding. Needless to say, the conference was a great success! So when the time came to apply for the co-chair position, this is what I wrote.

We learn many aspects of leadership at CBS and even pass judgments on various cases that we study in courses like Organizational Change and Leadership Development. But only platforms such as IBC actually provide us with a real world experience on leadership. My experience volunteering for IBC 2011 was phenomenal. As a volunteer, I enjoyed working with the IBC team and also developed my own organizational skills. I believe a co-chair has much more responsibility and many more opportunities to develop such skills. Given the chance, I will work diligently with my co-chair, the SABA and the IBC volunteers in ensuring we raise the bar even higher!

And I am thrilled that I was selected to co-chair along with Shobhit Datta who was also a strong contributor in the 2011 conference.

Considering this has been a long post, I shall write about Peer Advising as a separate one. Peer advising is one of the most sought after leadership roles on campus and I think it will be worthwhile to write about it separately.