Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mr.Jeya Kumar, CEO of Mphasis - The Global financial crisis and its impact on the Indian IT industry

DoMS IIT Madras and CEO Connect invited Mr.Jeya Kumar, CEO of Mphasis for sharing his experience and future strategies of Indian IT in the face of present global financial turmoil and its impact on the IT industry. He was Sun Microsystem's first, and only, Asia Pacific employee to be promoted to be on their Executive Management Group in Sun Microsystem's 25-year history.

US Wall Street has crumbled and given away to the foolhardiness of “excessive consumption” and “greed” of the Americans. With the collapse of the US housing bubble, the investment bankers and merchant bankers were halted in their stride.

Mr.Jeya Kumar started off his talk by showing us the history of the credit undertakings of US and gave figures supporting the evidence about the credit crunch which is squeezing the economy. In a survey conducted in US among 100 fund managers, 56% of them felt there will be a depression in US. Also he highlighted the King’s report which talks about credit market debt as a percentage of GDP which is a staggering 350%, surely a worry for all the financial markets around the world including India which is heavily dependent on US economy.

“Recession is a part of the business cycle. Its foolish to assume that business will grow despite recession. Its the length and depth of recession that determines business growth.” is the view of Mr.Jeya Kumar. More than the cost arbitrage advantage that India enjoys, the main reason for the success of India is that it has the youngest workforce.

The Indian IT companies should look at value co-creation with the clients and sustained profitability. They are currently either problem solvers or strategic advisors. They should increasingly look at growth as process and learn from companies like GE which has a initiative called Eco-imagination. He talked about operational levers – parameters that can affect their revenues and which help to sustain excellence. Certain Indian IT companies use their foreign exchange based growth which essentially means they use hedging to bet their base rupee value against the dollar unlike the strategy employed by mPhasis which doesn’t go in for hedging.

Control your destiny or somebody else will – IT firms should try and find their core competence and why are they so successful. Leverage balance sheet instead of Profit&Loss statement. The future of IT is in SaaS (Software as a Service) model but yet the IT companies are still wary of its usage and have not actually accepted their cost advantages. It helps to save 80% labour costs and increases the marginal productivity of the P / E multiples of top IT firms is actually better then its global counterparts despite its devaluation in recent months.

The future trends of IT sector would be inorganic growth as a growth strategy rather than as a option. Industry will move towards consolidation and there will be a substantial gap in revenues of the Top 3 and the rest. Innovation and IP-led services will drive its profits. The future of Indian IT sector will entirely depend on the way it perceives its operations to be. The wider the outlook, the better the growth will be. Mr. JeyaKumar ended the session by quoting what the Indian IT companies should look at - “Going global, be global”.

Abhishek Mehra

Batch of 2010

Friday, September 5, 2008

An eye opener to managerial dilemmas

Dr S.Narayanan, Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister addressed the students of DoMS, IIT-M under the banner of the MIST club. He has nearly four decades of public service in development administration in the state and central governments, starting in 1965. He was responsible for the implementation of economic policies of over 30 ministries including Finance, Commerce and Industry, Petroleum, Agriculture, Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, and Power.

Dr.Narayanan gave an insight into practical situations where managers are at crossroads. These problems are more complex, since the opportunity cost involved is very high. He chose an open ended format, where he cited real life instances and the decisions taken, then. He left it to the audience to take their own stand with respect to the decision.

He started out by giving the example of the recent hit book ‘Zoom’, where the author proves that perspectives change when the window of perception changes. He quoted a few examples:

  • How illiteracy was the opportunity cost for having chosen to improve tertiary education. India is a knowledge, service based economy now, thanks to the skill set of the people. But it was achieved at the cost of primary education.

  • The UTI-64 case, where the government had to intervene and pay compensation for scores of people at the cost of drought measures. But that brought about many positive trends in the economy that included people started to trust mutual funds.

  • The lack of diesel supplies in the local market even though oil exports are high in our country, due a decision taken long ago – to allow private players to export refined diesel. Now, oil export forms a major part of our GDP.

Dr.Narayanan commented that “One will always have to take ethical decisions. And the ethics line keeps getting pushed further in life.” He defined an ethical decision in a very beautiful manner – “One should be able to tell one’s mother, about the decisions taken. Because, she is a person whom we won’t lie to!" He said, "Take decisions in such a way you feel happy when you look at the mirror everyday.”

“Life is full of dilemmas. It confronts you in personal and corporate life. In a corporate setup, you are responsible for what the corporate (or government) represents. And what it achieves by the decision.”

“NRN and Tata are respected for the ethics that the corporation holds. So, choose your stand. ”
He chose to end the session there, for the audience to ponder over what sort of dilemmas responsibilities bring in, and why it is important for one to be ethical.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Learning to Lean - Insights by lean management guru James Womack

IIT Madras had the great privilege of holding a talk by Lean management guru Dr.James P.Womack recently.Dr.James is known for his new principles of management called Lean theory. He is the founder and chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute, a non-profit education, publishing, conference, and research organization who advance a set of ideas known as lean production and lean thinking, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) and now being extended to an entire Lean Business System. He said that his greatest qualification was that he did not know anything. He started out with a fresh mind which was ready to be modelled and reformed. During the period 1975-1991, Dr. Womack was a full-time research scientist at MIT directing a series of comparative studies of world manufacturing practices. He visited different countries for a first-hand experience at the auto companies like Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Benz etc. His study of the auto industry resulted in a path-breaking book called “The machine that changed the world’” which looks at Toyota and the way that it transformed the earlier business models used by car companies. This was his third visit to Chennai. He had earlier visited Madras in 1971 as a student and then later again in 2002.

In his lively, anecdotal style,Mr.Womack spoke about why the Dilbert cartoon strips are a great example of employee cynicism towards management re-engineering and what every industry can learn from Toyota-the most perfect process for value creation known to him.

He mentioned about the training program at Toyota. When you’re hired as a university graduate, the company’s assumption is that you know nothing of any use. On your first day on the job you goto your desk and there’s a blank piece of A3 paper and on it your boss has written an issue facing your department in one corner. You have to go out, ask questions, and come back with answers after which you are sent out over and over again. That’s a process called A3.Just imagine your first day of your work is a blank paper. That’s their training system.

Mr. James Womack then spoke about the evolution of management theories and gave us insightful examples on how the management principles have changed over time. He spoke about how the first systematic process thinker Henry Ford transformed the car from a luxury to a product which even the farmers in America could afford. According to him Henry Ford was the first person to integrate an entire production system, under what he termed “flow production”. Ford followed the principle – “Father knows best”. He was very autocratic in his functioning and did not have any organization structure so to speak. He was very much the one-man who knew the solutions to all the problems and would manage the company solely.

American companies were becoming more dominant in the early part of twentieth century and I quote Mr. James “Americans periodically think they can become dominant, and periodically discover they can’t”.

Then Mr. James spoke about Alfred Sloan’s new style of management which was more a decentralized one where in they had offices spread right across the geography and the local management was empowered to make certain decisions. The product became more customized and it came with a tag of personal experience.

The third type of management revolves around the concept of lean management. Perpetual innovation was the key driver in this style of management which was mastered by the Toyota group. Toyota brought in more method into execution and their model was primarily based on delivering quality products.

Today the organizations are trying to work together to create value and it is important for organizations to think on the same dimensions and engage its people for achieving its targets. According to Guru James there are primarily 3 steps which any organization needs to follow – First list out what is important for the organization (list out the goals and objectives).Second, how to engage its people to work towards the goals and third is how you solve the problems.

To put it in a simpler way he suggested the 3P’s of management – Purpose, Process and People each of which are equally important for the success of the organization.

The cornerstone principle of lean is – you always start with the customer and ask what the customer really wants. It sounds like the easiest thing in the world but most companies don’t do it. Lean is about tools that create goods and services that offer precise customer value, but with less human effort, less human space, less capital and less time.

He also alluded to the Indian way of teaching at colleges as climate-controlled artificial learning and said that classroom teaching was only a part of one’s education. The real education lies in going out and observing, asking why certain things are happening and engaging in humble and intelligent dialogue with normal people.

For further information about Dr. James Womack and his Lean style of management you can refer to his website and It was a great gesture by Dr. Womack to share his invaluable experiences with us and which was appreciated by Prof.LS Ganesh of Department of Management Studies (DoMS).We were also joined by management students from MOP Vaishnav, Guru Nanak, SRM university and senior executives from ICICI, Eicher and HAL. Dr.Womack concluded the talk by emphasising the need to keep working towards lean and keep spreading it.

-Abhishek Mehra

DoMS Interface

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mr. R. Srinivasan, Executive-CMC ITC Ltd. Interacted with students of DoMS, IIT Madras

CEO-Connect forum of Department of Management Studies IIT Madras, recently had the privilege of hosting Mr. R. Srinivasan from ITC Ltd. Mr. Srinivasan is an Electronics & Communication engineer from IIT Kharagpur('74) and has held several responsibilities in several businesses of ITC (including Tobacco) across India, in a career spanning over 34 years. He is currently a member of the Corporate Management Committee (CMC) and looks after 5 of ITC's 13 businesses with 5 of the CEOs reporting to him----Paper & Paperboards, Packaging, Stationery, Matches, and Agarbattis. He is also on the Governing Body of the Indian Institute of Packaging and a member of the CII National Committee besides being a non-executive Director of Asia Tobacco Ltd and Wimco Ltd. He is a member of Bestprax Club, Qimpro Foundation.

Mr. Srinivasan started the session by enlisting the things audience wanted to hear which ranged from leadership issues, supply chain management, role of ITC in rural transformation, difficulties of diversification, surrogate advertisement to competing with HUL and P&G. He assured that he would try to cover as much as possible in the session. Mr. Srinivasan started with the shareholder’s perspective who buys the stock and then wants to be happy forever. Companies like ITC act as trustees who need to multiply the shareholders money so as to ensure returns better then that provided by the banks. The results of such as organization is monitored by many stakeholders like employees, customers, suppliers & business partners, government, society and environment. This is where differences arise between companies like ITC and organizations like Ramakrishna Mission. ITC cannot afford to lose money of its shareholders but they have to fulfil a societal purpose also. Striking the balance is the key here.

Talking about processes, Mr. Srinivasan said nobody becomes basketball player overnight. People select roles very carefully according to their strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. Then processes are put in place to deal, track and make sure that things get delivered. Strategy, Structure, System and Quality Assurance system play important role in processes. Strategy should be continuously evolving unlike Indian Hockey team which failed to reciprocate to the changing nature of the game by sticking to the old strategy. Structure helps in having some restraint and discipline but it should not become a limiting consideration. System is required to deal with individuals and keep them aligned to the organizational needs. Team may have individual stars but if they are not aligned to the team’s requirement, it can be a disaster. Quality assurance is much more just quality of products. It extends all other processes having input and output.

Taking up the topic of leadership, Mr. Srinivasan stressed over the fact that people very often wrongly think that leadership is all about Managing Directors and CEOs. We need leadership at all level to ensure unity, alignment and control. Leadership has many similarities with parental duties which include increasing the number of subroutines so as to make them manageable. He gave examples of how parents teach their kids and these learning can be applied in corporations. Then Mr. Srinivasan went on to explain the life cycle theory of leadership.

Talking about ITC, Mr. Srinivasan stressed on triple bottom line policy of ITC which includes fulfilling the economic purpose, not messing up with the environment (ITC is a zero carbon organization) and fulfilling the social purpose (through e-Chaupal). ITC started with Cigarettes and then moved into printing; later on following a government regulation where no company could control more than 50% market share, ITC started diversifying into other sectors. Company now have 13 businesses. Through e-Chaupal initiative ITC is trying to improve the rural condition if not solving the problem completely. Every year population equivalent to that of Australia is added to our country’s population which presents a huge opportunity for the marketers. Mr. Srinivasan said brand presence of ITC lacks the charisma of TATA and Reliance; that is because ITC sells brands (bingo, wills etc.), not the company.

In the end professor T.T. Narendran thanked the distinguished guest and presented a memento as a token of appreciation from the Department of Management Studies.

Vishal Chourasiya

DoMS Interface

Monday, March 31, 2008

Investment Workshop at DoMS, IIT Madras

The students of the Department of Management Studies (DoMS), IIT Madras have been running Moolyankan, a diversified fund. As future managers and investors the students felt the need to have a platform to apply theory and knowledge to practice, the end result of which has been Moolyankan. The entire focus at Moolyankan is on learning about stock markets as well as on evaluating companies, based on the knowledge gained in the classroom. This also gives the students an opportunity to stay abreast of business happenings and trends across the globe and a chance to invest in the India growth story.

Since its inception on 10th September’07 Moolyankan has posted returns of 24% as compared to 4.5% from the Sensex. With a yearning for more knowledge and insights into the evaluation of firms for investment, DoMS IIT Madras, in conjunction with the Business Line Club organized an Investment Workshop and invited renowned investment advisors Mr. Rajat K. Bose for insights into Technical Analysis and Mr. S.P. Tulsian for imparting wisdom on Fundamental Analysis of stocks.

Mr. Rajat K. Bose is a well known technical analyst in Indian equity markets. He is a member of the online panel of global executives for The McKinsey Quarterly, the quarterly journal of venerable McKinsey & Co. and participates in the surveys conducted by The McKinsey Quarterly. Currently, he appears exclusively on TV18 India Ltd. group channels such as CNBC TV18, CNBC Awaaz and CNN-IBN. He also regularly contributes to with daily calls and writes articles on market outlook on Mr. Bose has appeared on several Indian channels like NDTV-24x7, NDTV Profit, Zee Business, Sahara Samay and several other regional language TV channels. He has also written for The Economic Times, Kolkata edition and The Statesman, Kolkata.

Mr. S.P. Tulsian is a name to reckon with in the Indian investors fraternity. Mr. Tulsian was a member of the National Stock Exchange (NSE), right since the time of its inception in 1994. He started a hugely popular and respected weekly tabloid, Premium Investments as its Editor and Publisher and still runs this successful initiative to protect investor interest and give truthful advice. Mr. Tulsian is often seen on prominent business televisions channels like CNBC, CNBC AWAAZ and CNN-IBN. His articles appear in most of the leading financial newspapers in India, like Economic Times, Business Standard and Financial Express.

Mr. Rajat K. Bose helps unravel Technical Analysis

Mr. Rajat K. Bose started the first session by admitting the fact that while student community is getting increasingly fond of technical analysis, it doesn’t guarantee profits even to great technicians. Knowledge of stock markets is the key to success and emphasis should be on managing trading risk while technical analysis can provide controlling handle on the things. Most people assume that mathematics is the technical aspect in technical analysis. Initially when technical analysis started, very elementary school level mathematics was used but later on engineering mathematics also found application. Since 2000 there has been a de-emphasis on mathematics part because at the end of the day people are only concerned about making money and not using fancy mathematical fundamentals.

Talking about the history of technical analysis, Mr. Bose quoted Benjamin Graham and his role in the separation of technical and fundamental analysis in 1960s. Mr. Bose defined technical analysis as study of markets or company performance on price charts. Price and Volume of transactions are the basic raw data required for the analysis. Talking about the philosophies of technical analysis, Mr. Bose said market action discounts everything which is a direct inference from the Dow Theory. Technical analysis is like a chess board where everything is open while Fundamental analysis is like a cards game where many things are hidden. One of the basic assumptions of technical analysis is that history repeats itself. Many people consider it crazy but analysis has proved that it is possible to come up with price projections based on historical price movements. On one hand fundamental analysis stresses on causes of market action while technical analysis on the other hand focuses on the effects of these market action.

Getting deep into technical analysis, Mr. Bose explained three types of market trends i.e. uptrend, downtrend and sideways movement. These trends must be adequately supported by the volume data. The very essence of momentum trading is the fact that a trend is assumed to be in effect until it gives a definite signal that it has reversed. But it has a possible pitfall also because who knows if you are the last bull on the bourses. Another important philosophy of technical analysis is that averages must confirm each other. The averages here generally refer to the Dow Jones industrial average and the Dow Jones transportation average, both should move together. China in 1995 reported a flat transportation average while the GDP was reported very high; at this people suspected the figures.

Mr. Bose explained the fundamental concepts of support and resistance. Support is the level at which demand exceeds the supply and resistance is the level at which supply exceeds the demand. Basic concepts of price gaps and trend lines were then explained with the help of several examples on patterns. Mr. Bose then moved to the topic of managing trading risks. If you put an intelligent guy in a group of fools, he no longer remains intelligent and looses all his intelligence. This is the condition prevalent in the market today, where people do not behave rationally but irrationally as opposed to the efficient market hypo thesis. People generally get trapped in belief that trend will continue forever and in the process make huge losses.

Mr. Bose gave few guidelines that should be followed while trading in the markets. Trade what you see, not what you believe. People need to keep aside their belief and preconceived notions and trade the markets. Selection of counters to trade is based on many parameters like risk averseness of the investor, size of risk capital (money, on loss of which an investor would not lose his sleep), liquidity of the counter in question, volatility of the scrip and the lot size. People should never average a loser. Many investors indulge into buying falling scrip but caution must be exercised on the extent to which one can buy falling scrip. Investors need to decide the stop losses level in advance and it should be strictly followed. Last but not the least, judgmental biases should be avoided. Many investors become adamant at my-current-trade-investment-must-be-a-winner. Such biases should be avoided and the losses should be minimized in this case. In the end Mr. Bose concluded the session by emphasizing on the risk management rather than following any analysis blindly.

At the end of the session, Prof. Rahul Marathe presented a memento to Mr. Rajat K. Bose and thanked him for providing profound knowledge on the topic of Technical Analysis.

Mr. S.P. Tulsian expounds on Fundamental Analysis

The second session at the Investment Workshop was addressed to by renowned investment advisor Mr. S.P. Tulsian. He held forth on Fundamental Analysis and various aspects that can help investors in valuing a company and decide on its investment worthiness.

Mr. Tulsian commenced by saying that he was very happy for Moolyankan and impressed by the fact that the future torch-bearing managers of India were doing a good job of making prudent investment decisions. He said that during the session he would be looking at the objective and subjective factors as well as components that help decide on investments in companies, in addition to 4 case studies of different companies.

Taking up the topic of objective factors that helped in investment decisions and are applied as liked by an investor, Mr. Tulsian enumerated the following important ratios and indicators:
· Enterprise Value (EV)/Earnings before Interest, Depreciation, Taxation and Amortization (EBIDTA)
· Discounted Cash Flow (DCF)
· EV/Sales
· EV/ Profit after Tax (PAT)
· Price to Earnings (PE) Multiple
· Break-up value of Assets
· Dividend Yield
· Book Value
· Replacement Cost

Mr. Tulsian maintained that EV/EBIDTA is a very strong indicator of the core strength and stability of a company. For this purpose, he broke down each component of EBIDTA viz. Interest, Depreciation, Taxation and Amortization and explained that each of them must be discounted for the purpose of zeroing in on the true profitability of the company. Describing further, he said that EBIDTA margins are important benchmarks and companies with high EBIDTA are good investment avenues. However, one might look at firms with lower EBIDTA only if their future prospects and projects seem to be bright and profitable.

Speaking on DCF, he professed it to be an important indicator and said that one needs to discount the profitability of current as well as future projects of a company.
Pointing to the EV/Sales ratio as a valuable indicator of enterprise value, Mr. Tulsian said that in comparison market capitalization was a weaker parameter for measuring the enterprise value. The reason behind this is that market capitalization doesn’t consider the debt component of the company while EV does. However, the EV/Sales ratio is more applicable to industries such as services, technology, and entertainment, where proprietary technologies and innovations will be used in future projects for profitability.

Saying that today EV/PAT was not a very popular ratio today, Mr. Tulsian said that it was so 25-30 years ago. This is so because earlier there was really no difference between a company and the projects it undertook. However, with the entry of MNCs into India, each project that a company now takes is evaluated individually. He still emphasized that EV/PAT was still relevant as it was ultimately concerned with the bottom-line.

Focusing on the EV/EBIT ratio, he said that the ratio indicates how many times the market values the operational result of the company. A low ratio suggests poorly efficient use of a company's resources, even if its profit margin is high.

Mr. Tulsian described the PE multiple as a very important indicator of the health and operations of a company. But valuing the company so would require us to only consider its operations one year forward as the future was really uncertain and looking too forward rosily might attach some risk with our decisions.

Break-up value of assets is the value realised when they dismantle assets or discontinue operations. Valuing companies on this parameter is a good idea as it values a company on the basis of all assets the prices they can fetch, stressed Mr. Tulsian. He revealed that a healthy break-up value of assets permitted many companies to have high stock prices despite a lacklustre performance.

Mr. Tulsian stressed that the Book Value or rather the Price\Book Value ratio as a valuating parameter is important to sectors such as the banking sector as well as the purposes of acquisitions.

The final component of the objective parameters was Replacement cost which is a parameter relevant more to infrastructure projects and companies as the profitability for them is not initially high but increases as the project progresses.

Next, Mr. Tulsian explained the subjective factors which include the following:
Project Engineering
Growth prospects

Taking up the effect of a powerful and influential promoter on a stock’s value, he said that the Reliance Power Limited’s (RPL) IPO euphoria was fuelled because of the image of Anil Ambani attached so strongly with the ADAG. However, with its fiasco people now don’t have the same faith in RPL. He explained that those companies whose promoters have a clean image, who follow all corporate governance norms have higher valuations.

Mr. Tulsian said that different sectors have different PE multiples. Currently capital goods, retail, infrastructure, power and entertainment sectors enjoy a high PE multiple. This lot keeps on changing depending on the boom an industry is experiencing.

The size of a company does matter in valuation, he said, emphasizing that bigger companies get valued better through their sheer breadth and multiplicity of projects. Here he gave the example of Kingfisher-Deccan merger, comparing them to Jet, as a result of which its valuations are decent considering the fact that the venture has still not posted any profits.

Indicating the importance of geographical location of a company and its operations, Mr. Tulsian said that because of favourable governmental rules and regulations and lower transportation costs from fields, sugar industries in Karnataka and Orissa would be valued much higher than those in Uttar Pradesh.

Similarly, project engineering and related efficiency and capabilities of a company was important, considering the fact that refining companies which can’t process light crude are valued much lesser than those which can. In the same vein, growth prospects of a company play an important role in its valuation.

Mr. Tulsian then went on to describe how components such as fundamentals, liquidity, sentiment at the market and its listed or unlisted status swayed the price of a company’s stock.
Fundamentals were extremely important for a stock. This is the factor, which if strong, should keep the long-term investor invested in a stock, accentuated Mr. Tulsian.

He considered liquidity of a company as important as its fundamentals as that is the factor that drives the market. This was in effect particularly for the period of August 2007 to January 2008, when the Sensex really spiralled ahead.

The fundamentals and liquidity for a company would only change in a period of 1-3 years. However, the sentiment at the market could change within 1-3 days and thus imparted volatility to the market as well as to a stock. He stressed that this was what was happening today at the market when the fundamentals as well as the liquidity of companies were in good shape.

A listed company attracts much more valuation than an unlisted one. On an average, an unlisted company would receive 25-40% less valuation than a listed one and thus a listed status for a firm matters.

After explaining all such factors, Mr. Tulsian took up the case of 4 different companies: TCI Industries, Reliance Industries Ltd., GMK Infrastructure and Parsavanath Developers Ltd. In each case he dug deep to help the audience understand how each factor discussed previously helped the company value better.

Finally at the end of the session, Mr. Tulsian answered questions ranging from how the Sensex was a true indicator of the growing economy, the current volatility in stocks, the case of efficient market hypothesis and how much a retail investor knows really, why Tata Motor’s stock price dropped on buying out Land Rover and Jaguar to the outlook on the banking sector.

Presenting a memento to Mr. S.P. Tulsian the students of DoMS, IIT Madras thanked him for taking time out and his effort to explain the intricacies of fundamental analysis as well for igniting their interest in it.

Vishal Chourasiya
Kunal Lal
DoMS Interface Team

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Admissions Process on the way

Process for the admissions for the new MBA batch are on the way. GT/PI process in Chennai and Mumbai was held from 15th to 17th. Delhi process begins from 31st of March to 2nd of April.

The process has been a great experience to the candidates as per the feedback available. The professors have been working really hard to bring the best candidates to DoMS.

Once again, all the best to all candidates..

Thursday, February 28, 2008

“Global Imbalances & the Impending Dollar Crisis” by Mr. M.R. Venkatesh, CA, Columnist and an Author

Moolyankan Diversified Fund (MDF) in association with Corporate Wisdom recently organized an interactive session with Mr. M.R. Venkatesh. Moolyankan, which has recently received many accolades from corporate, is a stock market investing fund house, managed by students of DoMS, IIT Madras. Mr. Venkatesh is a Chennai based Chartered Accountant who addresses the business concerns relating to International trade and business strategies. He is also an accomplished writer and columnist with the Hindu Business Line, Industrial Economist and Rediff. Mr. Venkatesh has authored many books including “A handbook on anti-dumping” and “Global Imbalances and the Impending Dollar Crisis”.

Starting the session, Mr. Venkatesh pointed towards the debate which has been in talk for quite some time. The debate pertains to idea, that fundamental assumptions that have governed the world economy so far, were true of not. The issue before us is so profound that it is impossible to believe that we will have a safe landing. Talking about Global Imbalances, Mr. Venkatesh said, www meant world without walls and with it world looked seamlessly integrated. But then in 1997 Southeast Asian Crisis struck, which was popularized as Southeast Asian currency crisis. But that actually was a political crisis that manifested itself into a currency crisis. Investment from various parts of the world flew to Southeast Asian Nations, whose currency was pegged at a fixed level. But as soon as a few billion dollars were removed, the exchange rates collapsed. Every currency in Southeast started devaluing and moreover, every Nation entered into a competitive devaluation mode to keep its exports going. The result of all this was only one beneficiary, the importer (US in this case).

Indian finance ministers started aligning the monetary and fiscal policies with the global standards and exports were given a boost. But these exports brought US dollars that led to currently accumulated Forex reserves. But our policy makers did not know how to utilize this fund. As a result of which the reserve found its way back again to US in the form of investment in US treasury bills which give paltry return of 2-2.5%. This whole activity was known as Global Flow of Funds. The current dollar crisis first became evident in 2006 when Fed refused to give M3 figures of dollar. Now people are selling dollars buying everything else mainly commodities like Gold, Silver, Tin etc. That is the reason behind strong Gold prices in spite of falling dollars. With outsourcing, even the job of defending the dollar has been outsourced to countries like India and China because these are the countries sitting on huge piles of Forex reserves and a weak dollar could cause substantial harm. India has close to $300 billion Forex reserves and we still want more.

US’s huge deficit, which is close to India’s GDP, is funded by India and China. Americans cannot stop consuming and reason behind this is the ever weakening institution called family in the US society. While on the other hand in India, where family is a very strong institution, we save close to 35% of our GDP. The irony is America has the option of getting the money for its consumption from countries like India and China because we save more then we consume but we do not have other option to park our money. All this is leading to Global imbalances. Mr. Venkatesh said that third world war will not be fought on a battle field but by the click of the mouse in financial markets.

Recently the China has realized the implications of global flow of funds. So in order to keep the Forex in the country, they started increasing the consumption. But this has not been very successful so far. While India, on the other hand, is a consuming Nation by Chinese standard and a saving Nation by the US standard. In India we attach a social stigma to the debt and farmers commit suicides for failing to repay their debt while US seems to be enjoying and flourishing on debt money.

India is a balanced society and that is what going to keep us safe from the turmoil in world markets but that doesn’t mean decoupling theory is correct because if it is then globalization never happened.

Vishal Chourasiya
DoMS Interface

Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Is the filmmaker a Visionary?” Mr. K. Hariharan, Director, L.V. Prasad Film & TV Academy

Management Insight for Social Transformation (MIST), recently invited Mr. K. Hariharan, Director, L.V. Prasad Film & TV Academy at Department of Management Studies for a talk on the topic “Is filmmaker a Visionary?” Mr. Hariharan, who heads the department of direction, is an accomplished filmmaker and distinguished scholar. He graduated from FTII Pune. The national award winning Tamil film "Ezhavathu Manidhan", earned him International acclaim, featuring in Moscow and other film festivals. Mr. Hariharan has also made many documentaries on subjects like travel, education and social movements. He is a visiting faculty at the University of Pennsylvania since 1995, and a guest faculty at the Miami University in Oxford, Film & TV Institute in Pune, and the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

Mr. Hariharan started the session by recalling an incident, where few young students dragged a collage girl and the blame was put on movies for spoiling the young generation. He emphasized that society has thrust upon a social and moral responsibility on the filmmakers. The films today have probably the most far reaching influence on our society. Mr. Hariharan defined the cinema as an industrial art as much as any technological product. But the strength of cinema lies in its use value. A film can be explained in by three dimensions, its Grammar (language), Technology (projectors, Cameras, mixing technologies etc.) & the Spectatorship (common viewers). From an artistic point of view films are reproduction of sound and image but the representation, which the viewers construe and spectators pick up, makes the crux of the issue. In Cinema we all try to imagine a world that does not exist.

Talking about the historical significance of the cinema in our country, Mr. Hariharan made a reference to the pre-independence era when India did not exist. What existed was hundreds of princely states divided by culture, language, believes and nothing common to share. Films brought together and integrated these separate states into one Nation which was just a notion till then.

Mr. Hariharan also emphasized on the fact that Cinema, to a certain extent, was responsible for the industrial growth in the country. In 1895 when the first film was shown in New York, there was already high level of industrial growth in US and cinema delivered on the dreams of consumerism. But back in our country when the first movie was screened in Bombay, country did not even have electricity. People saw movies running on generator, saw motors in movies and that was the beginning of urbanization in the country. But Cinema had to deliver on the message of National movements also and now post-independence, we have a new kind of brown empire, cinema has to deliver on the message of Indian at heart.

About 95% of films today in our country are love stories, even if it is a mythological, historical or social movie there will be a romantic angle to it. Mr. Hariharan questioned the obsession with romantic movies even if most people don’t seem to follow the idea of love stories as most marriages in our country are still arranged. He came up with the explanation that romantic movies are symbolic to our love for the land, the country and our determination to safeguard it from ill intentions of the state including Politicians, Police & Lawyers. Cinema in our country has adopted the Gandhian approach and says Nation is something to be romanced with.

Three things bring a nation together – Religion, Language & Political Leadership. This is a common standard around the world and India is the only exception to it. Cinema brings that commonality. The exchange of actors/actresses/directors between regional movies is so prevalent. Initially many south Indian actresses went to Bollywood for acting and now many north Indian actresses are working in south Indian movies. This is an indication of culture marriage that is happening in the country. People are increasingly defying the regional chauvinism, which was so rampant earlier.

Mr. Hariharan also pointed to the fact that we make about 900 movies a year and we are probably the only country where regional cinema is so developed. In France, most of the theaters show English movies and the French cinema is dying. In India, Cinema fulfills a cultural need. Our country was never integrated before like the way it is now. No film maker has done this keeping in mind the societal cause but unintentionally films have achieved what others failed to. In the end, Mr. Hariharan said “The Indian filmmakers have been Visionary except they did not know it.”

Vishal Chourasiya
DoMS Interface

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Admission process for 2010 Batch - GT/PI dates are out

The JMET results and GT/PI shortlists are out!! The GT/PI are slotted in March end. We at DoMS, can't wait to see the new batch come in. Welcome to one and all!

Prospective students! Please check out our pagalguy forum for details and discussions.

All the best to all who got the call for GT/PI. Please feel free to post your queries in the blog too..

Learn more about us from the official site

CEO Connect : Mr C. Venugopal MD & CEO, Krysalis Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd . on Econometrics and more.

The first speaker of another fresh quarter at the Department of Management Studies (DoMS), IIT Madras, under the auspices of the CEO Connect forum, was Mr. C. Venugopal, MD & CEO of Krysalis Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. He is an IIT Kharagpur and JBIMS pass out and has had a diverse and rich experience of having worked in many companies across multiple domains. He represents Nathan Associates, an Econometric Consultancy in US that uses econometrics and related models to add value and better the businesses of its clients.

Mr. C. Venugopal, at the very start, announced that he would rather have an informal session of give-and-take, so he asked students to barge in with their questions and queries any time they felt fine. He began by describing the background of consulting through the means of econometrics, based on sound economic theories. He gave the difference between a business consultancy and a consultancy using econometrics. A conventional consultancy would be primarily hired to give creative solutions using its client’s resources. In contrast, an econometrics consultancy would gather transaction data of its clients that includes customer information and invoices; try to understand the nature of the customer through demographic and physiographic data; and then would create econometric models using economic theories. He emphasized that econometrics is a mathematical methodology that questions the data and asks whether the data is unveiling any trend or information that may go undetected to the naive eye.

For this purpose, he presented the example of a major US transport corporation that had a profit insurance cover that would pay it in case its profits dipped below certain levels. Post 9/11, when the profits started to dip, the corporation approached its insurance company for a monetary claim which was denied. Enter Nathan Associates. It requested for the transaction data from the corporation and build econometric models of revenues before 9/11, some days post-9/11 and much later after 9/11. With such data, Nathan Associates’ client was able to prove in the law of court that its revenues had certainly dipped and it had a genuine claim to the insurance money promised. The judgment went in their favour, garnering a couple of million dollars for the transport corporation.
Sensing a similarity between econometrics and business intelligence exercises, a student raised a doubt. Mr. C. Venugopal answered that econometrics is different from analytics as analytics offers only tools for problem solving while econometrics’ scope is grounded much more in theory. Also for a person to work in econometrics apart from analytical skills required in analytics, he would need economics, particularly microeconomic knowledge.

Another doubt raised was how was a start-up to be helped by econometrics if it couldn’t come up with data on its business, as start-ups really don’t have many customers. Here, Mr. C. Venugopal highlighted the difference between data collection in the US and India. He said that while in US it was common to be able to access business information on consumer behaviour and corporate activities on even the most niche areas, in India such practices and services hadn’t picked up. In this light, he stressed that econometrics would need some form of primary data before it could help transform an SME’s business.
From econometrics, Mr. C. Venugopal moved to discussing the difference between working for a large corporation and running one’s own enterprise. Describing his own case, where he worked for almost 25 years across functions such as marketing, sales, strategy and IT, he said that the greatest difference was an entrepreneur previously employed by a company would be shorn of the protective shield of its employer. As someone working for a firm, you take things for granted and are assured that someone will take care of the other functions and aspects of management. However, none of this matched the heady feeling of working as an entrepreneur, of being your own boss and feeling secured in the fact that your time is your own now.
Probably wanting to stimulate another thought through the minds of the attendees, Mr. C. Venugopal asked the audience what is the most important thing as an entrepreneur. He said that he couldn’t agree more when a student answered that you need to have strong determination and confidence in your ideas. Another issue while operating as an entrepreneur, he asserted, was the lack of finance and the management of cash. Mr. C. Venugopal said that more than 50% of SMEs end up unsuccessful because they cannot manage their cash. This insight was something that he himself used while acting as a consultant to his clients, as a series of answers to this question lead to the core problems that plague a business.Mischievously smiling, Mr. C. Venugopal then questioned the audience whether MBAs were overpaid or not. While the class stood divided, he stressed that MBAs start becoming useful only after 3-4 years. Carrying on from there, he listed the traits that would make an employee invaluable to its employer. He said that a person must have credibility, possess high energy levels, be willing to learn, be bright and have a good attitude. These characteristics help a person integrate better with his/her organization and add value. Also, one must underpromise and overdeliver.
From the topic of adding value to a firm, Mr. C. Venugopal segued to the difficulty of an MBA graduate in selecting whom to work for, especially during placements. He asserted that 8 out of 10 MBA graduates he had met choose pay package as a differentiating factor between their prospective employers. This was a wrong decision. Such a decision had another dimension, when it came to an experienced MBA graduate selecting between multiple offers, as he/she would have worked in some domain before and would be swayed to join back the field he/she would be comfortable with. He underscored the worthlessness of looking back at the 3 years of work experience that one has had and the importance of looking forward to the next 30 years that lay ahead and their potential.
Mr. C. Venugopal, perhaps sensing the next question that would come, came forth with the type of profile and company that one should choose for one self. He maintained that one should take up an assignment that enriches your portfolio of knowledge, gives learning, new skills, gives chance to interact with people and challenging opportunities. He said that one should work with an organization that has good systems of cash management and exemplary processes and great people. So even if you get lower salary levels but a chance to work for a firm that offers the above mentioned traits then let go of the offer given by the other company that tries to lure you by a higher CTC or a snazzy designation.

To his advice of trying to work across different functions and sectors, a student asked if such a candidate would be deemed unstable in following a single career path. Mr. C. Venugopal replied that he had himself worked in many roles, so when he took up a different role he knew what the person on the other side of the table was thinking and this helped him transact business better. He said that after working in such a manner for about 10 years one would become a well-rounded manager as it diverse roles would ensure that you try to learn the roles of each profile quickly and this makes one stronger and definitely counts for something in today’s rapidly evolving business scenario.
A student then asked Mr. C. Venugopal to shed light on the right time to become an entrepreneur. He answered that it was preferable that one starts only after some work experience. Also doing so without any work experience would make it difficult as you would be bereft of a business network of known associates. Success without experience was only possible with solid financial backing and a passionate idea. Taking this idea forward he told that in fact you didn’t really need a passionate idea as most businesses of the world have achieved success by implementing someone else’s idea better.
At the end of the talk, Mr. C. Venugopal said that he hoped that students gave more importance to knowledge outside the books and gave Shuba D. of MBA I Year a prize for asking her question on the perception of instability in changing job roles, adjudging it to be the best question of the session.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Samanvay 2008 – Valedictory Session

Three days of euphoria at Samanvay 2008, the annual B-fest of DoMS IIT Madras, finally reached its termination with the valedictory function. The session was presided by Shri N. Vittal, Former Central Vigilance Commissioner and Shri T.S. Krishnamurthy, former Chief Election Commissioner as Chief Guests.

Shri N. Vittal who is from the IAS cadre of 1960 batch, addressed the gathering on ‘Models for Inclusive Growth’. He started with explaining how due to variety of reasons some words become buzz words and with due course of time become clich├ęs. ‘Inclusive growth’ was one such buzz word at the beginning of this year. There was another growth which gathered some attention, the growth at the cost of damage to the environment. But ‘Inclusive Growth’ remained the buzz word for all political and other reasons. The history can be traced back to 20th century which was dominated by ideological differences between two super powers, US & Soviet Union. Communist countries believed that state must control & command and centralized planning was the better strategy. But in 1990 when Soviet Union collapsed, communist countries accepted that for achieving growth and economic development, market forces should prevail. This in turn led to the idea that private sector and not the government should be allowed to play significant role in the economic development. Hence, the technological & IT revolution followed and world became flat with increasing globalization. But not everyone was benefiting from the process of globalization. Many voices of discontent were raised for- the mom & pop stores who lost to the massive organized retail stores, the domestic labour intensive processes which could not stand the onslaught of multinationals and so on.

The liberalization & anti-liberalization fight was so intense that NDA government which launched the ‘India Shinning’ campaign lost the election to UPA government. The present government’s initiatives like Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Rural Development missions have been launched to focus on aam admi. That’s how inclusive growth became a buzz word today. The inclusive growth as such left two categories of people untouched – Rural areas and the minority section including muslims and dalits. Inclusive growth can also be looked up from geographical point of view where in few cities and states have been left behind. Talking about possible solutions to the problem of Inclusive growth, Shri Vittal stressed on need of clarity in our thinking so far as underlying values are concerned, 80-20 is widely accepted management observation and it can be applied in policies to discourage the lack of effort by people. Shri Vittal stressed on developing a new business model for inclusive growth but should not encourage populist initiatives like reservations etc. Private Sector should play a bigger role through its CSR initiatives. Shri Vittal concluded by saying that on the issue of inclusive growth, we can apply our knowledge and find solutions which ultimately lead to greater prosperity.

Shri T.S. Krishnamurthy addressed the gathering on ‘Democracy & Good Governance”. Shri Krishnamurthy recalled how with fall of the Berlin wall and The Soviet Union, the democracy became fashionable. But many western nations use democracy not in its true form but as a tool to further their own purpose. Democracy when started originally in Greek and Roman establishments was more participating but over the period of time it has changed. Has the democracy in India and many other countries, achieved its purpose? Democracy as such creates more hindrances for growth but yet it achieved some success in few countries primarily due to affluent nature of these countries. Moreover democracy has to suite the culture of the country also. India has been praised as the largest and the most successful democracy in the country but we still have many people in rural areas, who lack even basic needs of survival. Shri Krishnamurthy believes our democracy is in danger. We still follow old British style of governance, while they have changed, we haven’t. Corruption, lack of transparency, sub-national authoritarianism, misuse of media etc. all these factors are denigrating our democracy. Shri Krishnamurthy concluded by saying that “we need more introspection to improve the quality of governance in the country”.

In the end, Prof. L.S. Ganesh, HoD, DoMS IITM, expressed deep felt gratitude to the Chief Guests for enlightening the students and gathering on such contemporary issues. He reinforced his belief in the new generation of students that they will sensitize with all sections of the society. With that Samanvay 2008 was declared closed.

Vishal Chourasiya

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jyotika – Lets Spread the Light

“Jyotika”, a student and Goodwill Foundation initiative, endeavors to bring light in the lives of visually impaired girls. Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras, organized a Jyotika Event during Samanvay ’08 to create awareness among students. The program started with a very touching video manifesting the lives of visually impaired. Shivani, the coordinator from DoMS, then welcomed the participants (visually impaired students) from Goodwill Foundation.

Goodwill Foundation works towards the welfare of visually impaired women and trains them in Carnatic music, Computers, Handicrafts etc. The participants from Goodwill Foundation then won the hearts of audience with their songs. The audience present in house packed MRC were so moved, they even started clapping to the tune of the songs. In the end Prof. L.S. Ganesh handed over the contribution money to the foundation as a token of appreciation. Prof. Ganesh expressed deep satisfaction over the student’s initiative and stressed on the fact that more such social initiative should be taken by students in MBA institutes all over the country.

You too can do your share of help. For more information on Jyotika and Goodwill Foundation visit here

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gurcharan Das Inaugrated Samanvay '08

Samanvay 2008, the B-fest of DoMS, IIT Madras started off on a high note with the inauguration of the event and the keynote talk by the chief guest Mr. Gurcharan Das. Though he has held esteemed positions in many organizations, he is best known as the author of the book ‘India Unbound’ and as a feature columnist in the Sunday Times of India.

Mr. Gurcharan Das talked about the new emerging India - the opportunities and the challenges that lie ahead of it in the 21st century. Although India still has a long way to go, he was hopeful that India will find its glory once again. He started off by describing the basic qualities of good CEOs. He stressed on how important it was to be humble, and at the same time be determined and ambitious. Though it may sound like a paradox, if one thinks about it, it is a very rare combination but one which will ensure success.

He then talked about the story of India’s growth and explained the factors which contributed to this rapid rise. Some of the important factors include the increase in GDP growth, slow down in population growth, rise in literacy levels, rise of the middle class and decline in the poverty rate. The rising investment and productivity levels also contributed a lot to this growth. When the middle class will form 50% of the total population, there will be a tipping point of sorts as far as the politico-economic situation of the country is concerned.

One important thing to remember is that even though the story of a country’s growth is common, the model for India has been unique. The drivers of growth in India have been different compared to other countries. While the growth of SE Asian countries was based mainly on export, manufacturing and investment, India has a strong domestic consumption and its strength lies in the service industry. He explained that the world needs another big consuming economy and India can nicely slip into that role. The benefits of a domestic-led model are obvious. It has insulated the country from the volatility in the global markets. However, according to some, India seems to have skipped the industrial revolution and has jumped directly from the agricultural age to the information age.

There are many reasons for India’s success. A few of them include having a strong list of globally competitive and competent companies. Some of them include Reliance, Ranbaxy, Infosys, Tata Motors, Bharti, ICICI etc. These are companies which ‘other countries would die for.’ Also the vibrant private sector space has led to the decrease in the number of bad loans to less than even 2% while China has around 20% bad loans.

On the other hand, however he said that the public space is not fully developed. Although we have a dynamic democracy and a free, lively media and press, poor governance is still a serious problem. This included not only the corruption in the government, but also apathy in the education and health sectors. One out of every four teachers does not show up, and out of those who show up one out of two doesn’t teach. The same is the situation in hospitals. The government companies and institutions unfortunately still run on ‘rishvat’ and ‘sifarish’ rather than growth and excellence. He also said that there is a problem with the way populist subsidies are announced and implemented. Populist subsidies in themselves are not a problem if the money actually gets to the right people. Currently there is also a lack of money to put into infrastructure development. China invests 6 times more than India into infrastructure. This is an area where India lacks China by a large margin and India will have to quickly address this issue in order to become a world-class economy.

Another interesting development which has happened in the country in the last 3 decades was the relation between the public institutions and growth in the country. Thirty years ago, India had an enviable bureaucracy, judiciary and a police system. But the growth was very slow. Now the growth has accelerated to a better level while the institutions have eroded in value. So an important question which needs to be asked is whether India is rising despite the State and what possibly can be done about it. One more important question to answer would be what then explains India’s economic success? One reason could be that even slow reforms do add up. Once the middle class forms a considerable part of the population, the reforms are also likely to speed up. Another important factor is the liberalization of the young minds. He explained with a story from his book as to how even a small boy in a tea-stall in a village aspires to become rich and famous like Bill Gates. This ‘decolonization’ of the mind, he said, will go a long way in helping India reach the peak. Also losing the inhibitions of using a ‘foreign’ language like English will definitely contribute in a global economy where English has become the language of trade and of business.

Mr. Das stressed that for every country there is a specific sector which contributes to a major part of the growth and becomes a source of competitive advantage over other countries. For Britain it was textiles, for India it is the knowledge economy.

Looking forward, the expected growth rate will be around 7-8% because he felt that democracy will not permit more than 8% growth. Coupled with a 1.5% popln. growth, India will reach a per capita income equal to that of US by 2066. The economy is on autopilot and it will require an event on the scale of a nuclear war to stop the engine. The big story of the 21st century is not 9/11 or terrorism but the rise of India and China in the global scene. The Theory of Convergence will further ensure the bridging of the gap. A major reason why this convergence hasn’t happened in the last 50 years and is happening now is globalization. Economies of developed and developing countries are now linked.

He also talked about the demographic dividend and the doubling of the labour force in the next 20 years. This coupled with higher savings and investment rates will translate into higher GDP growth. This demographic advantage will ensure that India’s growth will be more long term than that of China.

Again reverting to the topic of the importance of the middle class, he said that by 2040, the middle class will form 50% of the population. This will ensure that the political power centres in the country will start listening to this huge and powerful group of people and thus there will be a change in governance patterns. While looking at the factors which contribute to high growth, it was also important to list out those factors which could stunt the growth of India in the coming years. Some of them are fiscal deficit, weak infrastructure, bad governance etc. He said that India desperately needed a second Green Revolution. Other sectors which need a lot of improvement include the power sector and labour.

So the bottom line is that the Indian prosperity is on autopilot and it would require nothing less than an Act of God to stop the juggernaut. The government sector cannot be ignored. Governance reform will take its time but can be expected to speed up. Human capital will continue to expand based on private initiative and will play a major role in driving the economy.

Kirtan Acharya

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Samanvay 2008

Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras proudly presents its annual B-School fest, Samanvay. Celebrating synergy, that connects all living creatures and the samanvay in the universe since its evolution from big bang, is core to our B-feast. But this year Samanvay is about something else too, it’s about having fun seriously. Fun is an integral part of DoMS culture. We believe in having fun while doing serious things and that’s the modus operandi at DoMS. What could be the better way than to celebrate this spirit with plethora of events where there is something for everyone?

Scheduled between 11th -13th Jan 2008, Samanvay ’08 promises to be a mega-event with Mr. Gurcharan Das invited as Chief Guest. Mr. Mark W. Vannette, Operations Manager, EDC-India, Caterpillar Inc. and Mr. B. Manivannan, Zonal Manager South zone- LIC, are invited as special guests. As India Inc. is taking on the world with M&As (Tata Motors’s Land Rover winning bid is the latest proof of the growing appetite), the implications of these deals should be understood thoroughly. Hence, Samanvay ’08 will host a panel discussion on “The Great Indian Takeover” with eminent personalities from industry and academics. Also as the importance of management education is increasing, now is the time to look at some of the myths and the realities associated with it. A second panel discussion will focus on “Management Education in India: Are there dreams and are we pursuing them?” with Directors from ISB, MDI, XLRI and industry representatives. In addition to this, Mr. P.C. Narayan, Professor, IIM Banglore, will also take a session.

Apart from regular events, Samanvay this time will host a very special event “Outbound at Dawn”. This promises to be a major crowd puller wherein executives from corporates and press, along with students will test their team building skills in forest and Lake of IIT.

Be there to celebrate the spirit of synergy and fun at Samanvay ’08.

Vishal Chourasiya

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