It is often said that ‘what goes around comes around’. Success is often ephemeral and one can never take it for granted. If success goes to your head and encourages you to treat people (read employees) badly, then retribution will not lag. A private university in Bengaluru, having a sprawling campus, started attracting students with a high-flying marketing campaign and aggressive promotion. For some time, their ploy worked. Students from the north and east flocked to this university and paid through their nose to enrol in the various programmes. The proof of the pudding lies in the eating.
When these students graduated, there were not many jobs for them as per their expectations. Investment in education can’t be compared to investment in a business that returns on investment will start flowing soon after. It was a different matter that the quality of the students enrolled by this university was nothing great as the only eligibility criteria for getting admission was a bagful of cash. Once students pay astronomical sums as fees, they start behaving like customers. Any faculty, who was strict with them, was given a poor performance rating and, within no time, the university started sacking faculty members. As they were good paymasters, the faculty got attracted to the university just like bees get attracted to flowers. But soon the cat was out of the bag. Students were ruling the roost and dictating terms.
A former colleague of mine who had shifted base to Bengaluru got an opportunity to teach in this university as a visiting faculty. His son had got a job in Mindtree Ltd and the family shifted based from Mumbai to Bengaluru. But his experience was anything but satisfactory.
He said, “Mind-blowing infrastructure and pathetic quality of students—students who are not interested in learning anything, yet they have so much dominant power.” Soon enough, his contract was terminated.
This incident happened two years ago when the university was glowing and beaming with heavy rush from students for all their programmes. Two years down the line, the university is struggling to attract students and is doing aggressive marketing to attract students. In the past two years, the university blindly chucked out many faculty members simply on the basis of performance rating of students. But now, with a slump in the job market, many of their students are unable to get jobs. This has reflected poorly on the university’s credentials!
Chandraprabha Venkatagiri, Mumbai, by email
ARE CONGLOMERATES LONG-TERM WEALTH CREATORS?
“Smart Money” column by R Balakrishnan is always interesting and educative. The current column (Moneylife, 20 February 2014) on 'Intelligent Capital Allocation' was no exception and it aptly gives examples of L&T and ITC, where the managements are wasting capital in some segments of the business. The most important management act is the efficient allocation of capital. This probably is the reason why conglomerates hardly find place in the list of long-term wealth creators. Warren Buffett has also emphasised this aspect of the managements and has even recommended a book The Outsiders, which I find has not been reviewed by you in your Book Review section so far. Of late, I find you have shifted your focus from reviewing books mainly relating to stocks and investments to those on other subjects. Please re-work your focus as I feel that there are many books on these subjects which need to be reviewed for the benefit of your subscribers.
Krishan K Aggarwal, by email
4TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
Heartiest Greetings to Moneylife Foundation on its entering the fourth year of activities related to financial literacy. May Moneylife Foundation grow not just bigger, or older, but better and better and be a source of valuable information. It should transform the lives of not just your readers, but also all those who follow the newsletters, publications, and functions. It should help them to assimilate the great ideas on matters concerning our economy, finances, and it should be instrumental in shaping their thinking, which would assist in overall better appreciation of the finer nuances of clean governance.
I have become a new member and the Moneylife issue dated 20 February 2014 was very impressive. Having spent a great deal of my career in the capital markets space, I must say that the coverage of various topics, was indeed, ideal. It is doing justice to the issue’s headline ‘Are You a Smart Investor’. I am already eagerly looking forward to the next Moneylife issue.
SK Nataraj, by email
FIRST STEP TOWARDS FINANCIAL LITERACY
Well said, Moneylife. I couldn’t agree more to what has been commented by the Moneylife reader about the article “Are you a smart investor?” For the uninitiated, I would recommend reading the excellent book, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
And hats off, to all my friends at Moneylife! Now that we are premium members at Moneylife, let us congratulate ourselves for taking the first step towards financial literacy and responsibility.
Yes, we have a long way to go. The article from Moneylife couldn’t have been better. I have a suggestion to Moneylife to share insights on how investors from various international markets behave, when it comes to applying conventional wisdom in investing. Also, what is it that sets successful investors apart from the ‘smart’ investors!
Rajesh Premani, by email
CONTENTIOUS CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS?
Celebrity endorsements have always been a contentious issue in marketing consumer goods as well as services. Major celebrity endorsements have always centred on selling FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) products. One finds it so difficult to recollect famous faces endorsing a service. Amitabh Bachchan has endorsed the services of ICICI Bank, Hema Malini has endorsed Bank of Rajasthan and Juhi Chawla has endorsed Dena Bank. But we have never seen any famous face endorsing Pizza Hut or Dominos pizza or McDonalds or Café Coffee day.
Be that as it may, Mr Bachchan recently proclaiming that he decided to stop endorsing Pepsi, after a girl told him to do so, is in poor taste. After earning millions of rupees from the endorsement, is it fair that he now de-endorses it? At best, he should have remained silent. If his logic is that he wants to be socially responsible, then he should also stop endorsing products like Maggi Noodles. Noodles have vanaspati (hydrogenated fat) that is not good for health. Does Mr Bachchan know about it?
Organisations also pour lot of money in the drain when they hire a celebrity for endorsing a product which is not doing well in the market. No celebrity can guarantee increased sale of a sub-standard product. At the end, what matters is that the quality of the product/service must be good and the product/service must be reasonably priced. Consumers are far more intelligent. They know that when Sachin Tendulkar endorses a brand of pen or MS Dhoni endorses a brand of chappals or Virat Kohli endorses ear-buds, it goes from the consumers’ pocket.
TTK Prestige, the south-based maker of home appliances, has used Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai for selling their products. Barely a few days later, Aishwarya confessed that she has never entered a kitchen and doesn’t know cooking at all. The company was taken aback as the entire advertisement falls on the face. Going by what Mr Bachchan says, unless you have a personal experience with a brand, how can you endorse it? When will these organisations learn?
G Venkatesh, by email
BLOOD DONATIONS SHOULDN'T GO IN VAIN!
This is with regard to “Is the blood you donate, going down the drain?” by Vinita Deshmukh. Thanks Vinita, for highlighting the sad state of our blood banks that are simply wasting an extremely perishable life saving commodity. There is nothing to prevent the authorities from setting up a simple saving mechanism of proper refrigeration and storage and putting out in the public domain (possibly, similar to the Red Cross Blood Bank web site). The information should include the type and quantity of blood available at least on a weekly basis. The wastage can possibly be minimised by issuing out blood on first-in-first basis to other hospitals and banks. The donations shouldn't go in vain.
GO SLOW ON VIOLATIONS?
This is with regard to “Regulators should intervene only in case of grave violation says Chidambaram.” The position taken by the finance minister in his observation: "I reiterate, we must bring self-regulation, we must enforce compliance, need to heed to board of directors and shareholders and only in exceptional cases should (the) regulator intervene to punish gross grave cases of proven criminality," is quite intriguing. This amounts to asking regulators to 'go slow' or ignore violations. As I said in my earlier comment, self-regulation is conspicuous by its absence in India.
This is with regard to “Should India keep off shale oil & gas?” by AK Ramdas. Very true! It is better to be forewarned than to repent later.
MONETARY EXPERIMENTS: AT WHAT COST?
This is with regard to “Japan: Is the correction temporary or something more serious?” by William Gamble. This is a very informative article, especially, given the sea of confusing information on the Internet about Japan! It appears that Japan finally got out of deflation, but the bigger issue is: At what cost? There must be lessons here for other nations contemplating monetary experiments.