Salary inflation in India: Where is it heading?

The salary for Indian knowledge workers is going up and up. So the question comes to everybody’s mind is ‘Where is it heading? How sustainable this growth is?’ The salary inflation is reflecting in everything we see today. Let me give a simple example: To hire an Embedded Systems engineer we interview about 30 people in my organization. Even after hiring the organization is having no guarantee that the Engineer will accept the job offer and join the organization. There are multiple reasons why this is happening:

1. At present, too many jobs are chasing too few ‘good’ engineers in India. So the trend is to have at least 3-4 job offers in hand and take the final decision based on salary.
2. Among Asian countries India is witnessing maximum amount of salary raise of 15% year-on-year. This is mainly because of the double digit growth rate Indian companies are witnessing in the recent quarters.
3. The rupee is becoming weaker day by day. Organizations which are dealing in foreign currencies get about 5% of their margins by smart treasury management.

Even though the above mentioned factors are acting positive as of today, it is not sustainable at all. This is mainly because, the wage difference between US and India is narrowing down and other outsourcing locations like China and Eastern Europe are picking up pretty fast. Apart from this, growing any money (Including salary) at 15% year-over-year is ‘Almost impossible’ from the basics of investing. As far as I know only the ‘Investment Guru’ Warren buffet is able to offer such a remarkable Return-On-Investments (ROI) over a long period of time.

So what do we do about this? According to me we can address this problem in two ways:

1. Increase the ‘Quality’ of supply: According to McKinsey report only 25% of technical graduates and 10 % to 15% of science graduates are suitable for knowledge industry today and this is mainly because of the low skill level. Increasing the ‘employability’ is the dire need of today and it needs to be addressed by providing high quality training to these graduates. According to me this initiative needs to come from the industry by promoting a closer ‘Industry-Academia’ relationship. This will address the demand supply problem to a larger extent.
2. Drive towards value creation: For existing knowledge workers a strong drive needs to be created towards creating ‘Value’. The value addition should come in the form of intellectual property creation, product innovation for emerging markets and getting into the non-technical aspects of the product life cycle. This will make sure that there is a ‘Beyond-cost’ advantage for organizations by having their shop in India.

BOOK REVIEW: The World is flat

Author: Thomas Friedman
ISBN: 0-713-99878-4

This is one of the wonderful bestseller in the recent past. This book is all about the Globalization and how it is reshaping the whole world and I would recommend this book as a MUST READ for people who are working in the knowledge industry. The author Thomas Friedman is a famous columnist in New-York times and made an extensive effort in this book to bring out the big picture of Globalization.

According to the author opening up Indian and Chinese economy has resulted in new world where everyone is enabled with huge amount of information because of the power of the Internet. Because of this the plane for competition is leveled among the different geographies made the world ‘Flat’. The author has traveled to India, China and some other Asian countries and presented the first hand information in this book. Apart from this the author has given a very good picture of how the technology is enabling various businesses.

The most interesting part of this book is the examples the author has presented in this book. Ranging from Infosys to Wal-Mart he has extensively analyzed the global trends and presented in a simple and lucid way. The author has also given the political and economic angle which played a very important role in flattening the world. I am not able to write more on this review because I want people to read this book and get the real pleasure.

Startup Incubation from Indian T-schools

In January 2005 the state of California announced the location 367, Addison Avenue in the Palo Alto area as ‘Birthplace of silicon valley’. Please don’t jump into a conclusion this must be a hi-fi museum or a huge building. It is a small garage (See the photo) where two youngsters Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard from Stanford University started their company Hewlett Packard (HP) in the year 1938. Today HP is an 80 billion USD company and everybody knows the contributions HP has made to the technology world. After almost 60 years later another two youngsters from the same Stanford University (Lary Page and Sergey Brin) founded another company called ‘Google’ and I don’t need to tell anything more about that Google. The commonality between HP and Google is the ‘Stanford University’ which played a very significant role in nurturing these great people. After some time I was reading an essay by Paul Graham in which he clearly mentioned the importance of Stanford University and University of California (UCB), which played a very significant role in Silicon Valley’s success.

If Stanford and UCB are the best universities in the US, I can very well say IIT and IISc are equally best in India. Then the next question came to my mind was ‘Are we doing something similar to US universities? Can we create a Silicon Valley in India?’ and started doing some reading in these areas. I learned that there is nothing concrete has happened from these Indian universities as of today but there is a huge amount of momentum building up for incubating startups. I could easily see half a dozen companies are currently in the incubation phase:

1. SINE ( SINE is hosted by Indian Institute of Technology Bombay under the IIT-B umbrella for promotion of entrepreneurship at IIT Bombay. SINE administers a business incubator which provides support for technology based entrepreneurship.

2. Eisodus Networks ( This is a company incubated from IIT-B and they are into Broadband access networking. The company has developed an innovative Architecture called EisoAccess by leveraging the potential of Ethernet to enable triple play. This organization is nurtured by Prof Abhay Karandikar from EE department in IIT-B.

3. Vegayan Systems ( This is also incubated from IIT-B and Vegayan is into developing MPLS traffic engineering and network planning tool for service provider and enterprise network customers. Vegayan technology is based on innovative VS routing scheme with international IP protection (patents pending) and this is run by Professor Girish Saraph from IIT-B.

4. Webaroo ( This is also run from IIT-B and they are making search engines and multimedia games.

5. Esqube Communications ( This is a startup company run by professors from IISc. They are into Voice over IP (VoIP) and Wireless domain. Apart from this Tejas Networks and Strand Genomics are the other two companies started by IISc Profs which have had pretty good success in the past.

6. Backend Bangalore ( This Company was incubated from IIIT-Bangalore and they are into multiple areas like product development, consulting and services.

The above mentioned startups are in the early stage and they need to go a long way before achieving ‘Commercial Success’. After Indian independence Nehru called dams and steel mills as ‘Temples of modern India’. I feel calling these startup incubations as ‘Temples of future India’ as they are going to play a very vital role in future India.

On fitness

The globalization and knowledge industry have brought in huge amount of opportunities to people especially in countries like India. At the same time, growing competition at workplace is causing mental and physical stress to people. Long working hours, late-night teleconferences are part of life now and they cannot be avoided. Even though organizations proclaim they provide so called ‘Work-Life-Balance’ to their employees I personally feel it is more of a ‘FUTTA’. Everyone knows that in order to keep up with the competition we need to work hard and no other way. In this scenario it is up to individuals to keep themselves physically and mentally fit. I have been struggling with this for the past four years and sharing my learning’s in this blog.

When it comes to doing fitness most of us (Including me) start saying ‘Where is the time?’. I very well agree that the time is less but we should ‘Create’ time by ‘Mental Creation’. Stephen Covey in his ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ says every thing in this world is created twice. The first creation is called ‘Mental Creation’ and the second one is ‘Actual Creation’. The mental creation plays very important role in fitness because the exercises need to be done on a consistent way. Achieving consistency is extremely difficult without mentally creating a picture that ‘Fitness is very important for me and there is no compromise on my health’. Once this mental picture is formed the time problem will be solved. Depending on the nature individuals can choose either morning or evening for exercises. Choosing morning time is better because both body and mind will be fresh.

Once the mental creation and time is chosen the planning and execution comes into picture. The planning stage starts with finding out where the individual stands with respect to health. This can be found out by measuring current weight, fat percentage and Body-Mass-Index (BMI). This can be done by visiting any nearby physician or dietician at nominal price. Some organizations (Most of the software companies) have visiting consultants who provide this service at free of cost. By talking to the consultant we can find out what is the ideal weight, fat and BMI values should be. After the consultation we mostly observe that we are having more weight and fat because of past ignorance. Now a plan needs to be done on how much weight needs to be lost on a monthly basis. While planning having a conservative estimation helps. Say for example a plan to loose one kg per month is a good estimation. At this phase individual also need to have a mindset that ‘Fitness is not a destination and it is a continuous and never ending journey ‘.

The execution part is the most important and difficult phase. To start with individual need to choose a particular type of exercise that suits him or her. After my discussions with dietician I found 35 minutes of yoga/jogging/brisk-walk/gym/aerobics burn 100 calories. So any of the above mentioned activity can be chosen but the important point is that the individual should feel ‘Comfortable’ with it. If you are not comfortable better don’t choose it. Also don’t choose it just because your friend is doing it. When we start doing exercises we often find that we are not able to do it on every day and we end up being frustrated on ourselves. But that is part of life and don’t try to be a critic of yourself. Just take it casually and continue it from next day. Having a graceful mindset helps. It is always better to maintain a monthly log of weight and other parameters. During this phase it is very important to keep control on food. Avoiding fatty and oily foods will help to achieve the ideal weight quickly. Once the ideal weight is achieved we can start eating all type of food along with exercises.

I also found big people like Lakshmi Mittal and Anil Ambani spend two hours every day for exercises. If they can spend time why not we? After all ‘Health is Wealth’. Take charge of yourself and its high time to become fit.

BOOK REVIEW : Naadu Kattiya Nayagan (The story of Lee-Kuan-Yew)

Author: Mukhil
Price: 60 INR
The title ‘Naadu Kattiya Nayagan’ means ‘The hero who built his country’ and it is all about Lee-Kuan-Yew who built Singapore from scratch. In 1960s Singapore was considered as a ‘Third world’ country and it had no address in the world arena. But in a matter of forty years Singapore has emerged one of the ‘Giants’ in the world and surpassed all its limitations. This remarkable ‘Nation building’ was achieved because of a single person’s vision and his consistent action towards that vision. That single person is no other than Lee-Kuan-Yew.
Basically Singapore was a part of Malaysia and became a separate country in 1959. During that time Lee-Kuan-Yew formed his People-Action-Party (PAP) and became the prime minister of Singapore. From then he ruled Singapore for close to four decades and completely transformed the country. Starting with good governance he went on achieving excellence in Economy, Education, and Tourism which made Singapore as a ‘developed’ country. This book explains the whole story of this ‘Journey towards excellence’ and it is truly mind blowing.

Singapore achieved this excellence not by magic but because of hard work. They don’t have any natural resources and even today they even import drinking water from Malaysia. Apart from this they also have diversified Chinese, Indian and Malay speaking people and bringing all of them under single umbrella is really a difficult task. Singapore has achieved all these things in a very short span of time and we Indians have loads of things to learn from them.

When I speak about Singapore people say ‘Na! Its so small country and it is not a big deal to achieve these things’. But I feel it is not the question of big or small but it is all about what we achieved. The psychology says ‘Emotions leads to actions and reasons leads to conclusions’. As long as we are not getting emotional towards our country, we simply end up giving reasons which will lead only to conclusions. When will we march ahead?

New Horizon Media – A ‘Positive’ media company

I have a strong opinion that media (Both print and non-print) in India mainly focuses on ‘Negative’ aspects and written my reflections on the same in my blog ‘Moms and Megaserials’. For quiet some time I was wondering why there is not much effort put in making a ‘Positive’ media? Recently I found a company called ‘New Horizon Media’ ( which is making ‘Positive’ attempts in that direction.

Before getting into what they do let me give some information on the people behind this company. This is started by three guys and two of them (Mr.Badri and Mr.Satya) got education from IIT Madras followed by PhD from Cornell University. These guys co-founded Cricinfo (www.cricinfo) and sold it off to Australian company ‘Wisden’. After cricinfo they are now into ‘Media’ domain and started publishing high-quality and low-cost books in regional language (Tamil). They have published about 150 books on various topics in a matter of just two years. I have just finished reading one of the books published by them and it was really good.

The attempt made this company is really good and I personally feel providing ‘positive’ information for non-urban Indians is very vital because of two reasons:

1. Majority of Indian population belong to non-urban area and English is not yet penetrated on to those areas. So providing quality books in the local language makes lot of sense. Being brought up in a town, I can very well understand the importance of providing good books in regional language.

2. The regional language publishing industry (Say for example Tamil) is not having books for today’s world. I have read excellent books on ancient literature and verses but not much books on education, globalization, business and economics. In order to ‘expose’ people into the new ‘Flat-world’ these kind of books play a very major role.

This weekend there was a ‘Book Festival’ in my home town Erode and got a chance to meet Mr.Satya in that fest. Based on my discussion with him I understand they are very well aware of the problems I have mentioned above and trying to address the problem thro their company’s vision. They have formed tie-ups with almost all major book sellers in Tamil Nadu and slowly planning to target other Indian languages as well.

I am sure this company will be successful and transform people’s life.

Infosys stands tall

It’s all happening for Infosys. I was watching ‘Business Leader Awards’ in NDTV profit followed by 25th year celebrations of Infosys. Infosys got the ‘Most respected IT company award’ from NDTV profit. Also during their 25th anniversary celebration they have announced 126 crore bonus for their employees. Yesterday was another memorable day for Infosys when they rang the NASDAQ opening bell remotely from Mysore. It’s all happening for Infosys and it is standing tall among its customers, employees and shareholders. My mind started thinking about this company and its founders and thought of penning down my thoughts.

According to me Infosys has broken huge numbers of barriers and myths of Indian businesses:

To start with Indian businesses are mainly ‘family driven’ business where the promoter’s family holds the maximum amount of stake in the company. Also when the promoter retires their son or daughter takes over as the next chief executive of the company. Infosys is the FIRST company to break this tradition and made it a point that by ‘Design’ the company is not any individual or their family’s property but it is for the people by the people.

Second Infosys has demonstrated the ‘Wealth Sharing’ concept to Indians. Employees and shareholders have benefited tremendously from their stock options. On Sunday finance minister Chidambaram explained the same in his own words: ‘If your father or grandfather had invested in Infosys 25 years back today they would be multi millionaires today and I am sure if you invest today you can become the same in another 3-5 years”. I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Chidambaram.

Third it is always believed in India that educated, working middle class people cannot start and run their businesses and business is only for the ‘S0-called-rich’. Among Infosys founder’s no-one is from the ‘So-called-rich’ category and they are demonstrating today that in the Knowledge era it is not the background but the knowledge that matters more than anything else.

Fourth and most important point is Infosys explains the real meaning for ‘Values and Vision’. According to me this is the most inspiring because in 1981 when they started no-one would have even thought software can be developed from ‘So-called-third-world’ country called India. But the vision they had for the company and the value system that binds them together has brought them to where they are today. I remember Mr.Murthy telling he had to pay 120% import duty to import a single computer and he made about ten trips between Mumbai and Delhi to get the customs clearance. I thought what would have driven him so hard which made him to do what he believed. The answer I got it ‘Values and Vision’.

I can go on and on when it comes to Infosys but want to conclude this blog with my favorite lines from the LAGAAN song:

‘Har santh kahe sadhu kahe, sach aur saahas hai jiske man main anth mein jeeth uniki hai’