Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Terry Fox Run at IIT Madras, Chennai

Charity Begins at Home: thus goes the first lesson in Moral Science.

At a time when everyone seems to be joining the bandwagon of the Ice Bucket Challenge, IIT Madras takes the road less taken.  While most challenge each other over dumping buckets of the liquid, better known as ‘Life’, to promote awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise less known in the Indian subcontinent, IIT Madras has a more meek and underhyped method of doing its bit. When seven lakh Indians die of Cancer every year, while over 10 lakh are newly diagnosed with some form of the disease, we have a better reason to be worried about. Hence we ‘supported’ the ‘TERRY FOX RUN’, organized by the Rotary Club of Madras East and played the role of a proud host to the same.

With one leg having been amputated, Terrance Stanley Fox (July 28, 1958 – June 28, 1981), a Canadian athlete, humanitarian, and Cancer research activist, embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness about cancer research in 1980. Albeit the spread of his Cancer eventually compelled him to end his pursuit merely after 143 days, covering 5,373 kilometres, and ultimately cost him his life, his endeavour resulted in a lingering, worldwide legacy. The annual Terry Fox Run, first held in 1981, has grown to involve millions of participants spanning over 60 countries and is now the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research.

Came Sunday, August 24, 2014, and we all ran the errand to deliver our motto and message:
Working together to outrun cancer! Run, walk cycle or skate & DONATE to create a cancer free tomorrow.

In a country where Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths, where nearly three million patients are suffering from the deadly disease, and where experts say the incidence of the disease is expected to rise five-fold by 2025, it’s time we woke up and ran for the noble cause. 

Eight O’ clock, Sunday morning: not too early either, was it? ;)

PS: Watch the Terry Fox Story at:


The DoMS Interface Team.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Evolution of Indian Insurance Industry

While historians sell what happened yesterday, Insurance companies sell what might happen tomorrow. Some of them even go to an extent to say that insurance companies sell fear! Intrigued by this we decided to get some more in-depth insights on the Insurance industry and decide for ourselves what it is all about. Hence we invited Mr Mohan Babu  , Associate Vice President and Global Head of Insurance Practice  Infosys Technologies ltd .He was very excited to grace this occasion and started the session  by discussing about the evolution of Indian Insurance Industry wherein he said the first law to regulate the life Insurance business was enacted in 1912 which continued for a while, these were small Insurance companies and they were not able to maintain solvency, which resulted in a curtailed settlement of claims, hence only around 50% of the claims were getting settled. Therefore around 245 Indian and foreign insurers and provident societies were taken over by the Central Government and were nationalized to form the Life Insurance Corporation. From 1972-1998 the government expected to increase the penetration and density of the insurance industry, but the insurance companies were not able to cover it effectively & efficiently and a slackness creeped in over a period of time. To break this, the Insurance Industry was opened up with limited liberalization of upto 26% FII. There was a lack of regulatory activism or supervision till 2000, when the IRDA bill was passed in this year to regulate better.
He then discussed the key regulations and the impact that was seen over a period of 14 years right from 1999 and 2013.Mr Babu believed, this was a Golden period for the Indian Insurance Industry where it started moving in the direction of maturity. Right from the clearance of the IRDA bill which initiated the liberalization of the sector to the increase in FDI in Insurance industry to 49%, which led to greater under-writing capability in the Insurance markets , each of these regulations have helped the industry in one way or the other.
We were then introduced to the different sub-segments under the broader business segments of Life insurance and General Insurance was then discussed. Mr Mohan Babu took the pains to explain in detail the Life-Insurance Industry Market sizes in terms of the density and penetration, comparing the figures for the emerging markets and the advanced markets covering many countries. India with an Insurance density of 59 USD and penetration of 4.10% stood 15th in the world in the year 2001. The total life insurance premium stands at $53.6 billion in 2011-2012, registering a negative growth of 1.57% from the previous financial years with a total of 24 Life Insurance Companies as of September 2012, with LIC being the sole public sector representative among the lot. Whereas in terms of Non-Life Insurance companies ,  there are 27 of them as of September 2012, including 4 standalone health insurance companies with the Gross Direct Premium stood at $9.79 billion in 2011-2012, registering a growth of 24.19%, as compared to a global premium growth of 1.9% in 2011.
We then tried to brainstorm on the differences in the approach between the emerging markets and the advanced markets in the Non life Insurance industry, with many students pitching their own points on how developed nations like the United States use the pay per use method to calculate the premium which is enabled because of the technology and product innovations , effective distribution channels ,better regulations and minimized frauds.With loads of data , be it the official figures which he discussed in detail or the immense experience that he has by working in this sector for so long, Mr Mohan Babu then began discussing the SWOT analysis of the Indian Insurance market, which gave a clear understanding on where the Industry stands today and what needs to be done in the future to have a sustained growth. One more interesting point that he made was the key trends that were seen in the Indian Insurance Industry such as the Emergence of New Distribution channels, Launch of Innovative products and mounting focus on embedded value over profitability.
On the whole Mr Mohan Babu believes that this industry is still untapped and there are a lot of opportunities. Rapid development in Tier II and Tier III cities and growth in new bankable households have led to the emergence of a large insurable class with an appetite for sophisticated life insurance products. Increasing life expectancy, favorable savings, and greater employment in the private sector and the opening of the pension market with the passing of the PFRDA Bill 2011 has enabled opportunities in the Low-income Urban class including the Pension and Annuity Markets. He also gave us some idea on the future areas of investment such as Mobile Solutions, especially for claims management, multichannel integration capabilities alternative delivery models, including business process outsourcing (BPO) ,business process utility(BPU) and software as a service(SaaS)
Then the floor was open to questions where the students did try to question Mr Babu on the various happenings and the topics discussed by him. In the process of answering all these questions Mr Babu elucidated on the various roles available in the industry for budding managers, the Techniques, skills, and abilities required to excel in this chosen area of profession. We hope to make use of this session as well to the maximum extent by equipping ourselves with these necessary skills over a period of time.

Class of 2015

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Predatory Pricing and the German Cartel

In a time long long ago, the world supply of bromine was controlled by Bromkonvention, a German cartel backed by the German government composed of 30 separate entities. This powerful monopoly sold bromine at a fixed price of 49 cents per pound throughout the world.
In 1889 Dow received his first patent after inventing
a more cost-effective and streamlined process for bromine extraction. His associates were impressed with his work and in 1890 helped him to found the Midland Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan. Dow continued his work extracting bromine and by early 1891 he had invented the Dow process, a method of bromine extraction using electrolysis to oxidize bromide to bromine which was more efficient than the existing processes of the world. With his new company and new technology, Dow was able to produce bromine very cheaply, and began selling it in the United States for 36 cents per pound. The German cartel had made it clear that they would flood the American market with cheap bromine if Dow attempted to sell the element abroad. In 1904, Dow defied the cartel by beginning to export his bromine at its cheaper price to England. A few months later, an angry Bromkonvention representative visited Dow in his office and reminded him to cease exporting his bromine.

Predatory pricing-: 
In business and economics, predatory pricing is the practice of selling a product or service at a very low price, intending to drive competitors out of the market, or create barriers to entry for potential new competitors. If competitors or potential competitors cannot sustain equal or lower prices without losing money, they go out of business or choose not to enter the business. The predatory merchant then has
fewer competitors or is even a de facto monopoly.

Why is it relevant?
One of the most popular views is that the government needs to protect us from predatory price-cutting. Large corporations, according to this argument, have big advantages in the marketplace. They can cut prices, drive out their competitors, then raise prices later and gouge consumers. Antitrust laws are needed, so the argument continues, to protect small businesses and consumers from those corporations with large market shares in their industries.
The story of Herbert Dow, founder of Dow Chemical Company, is an excellent case study for those who think predatory price-cutting is a real threat to society. Dow, a small producer of bromine in the early 1900s, fought a price-cutting cartel from Germany. He not only lived to tell about it; he also prospered from it. Like David fighting Goliath, he actually believed he could throw stones at the large German chemical monopolies and topple them from world dominance.

The Battle
Dow started the battle in 1904, selling bromine in England and undercutting the cartel at the same price he was selling it in the US.
In early 1905, Bromkonvention followed through on its threat, cutting the price of potassium bromide in half in the US from 30 cents/lb, to 15 cents/lb, while holding the price at 40 cents/lb in Europe. Other bromide prices were also halved.
Another visit was paid by Jacobsohn (the representative of Bromkonvention), who threatened a price war to run Dow out of business if he did not desist. The cartel was backed by the German government and had ample financial resources to win, he argued. Herbert Dow would have none of it, and dismissed the astonished Jacobsohn, who said: "You don't know what you are doing."

The Master Plan
The imaginative Dow worked out a daring strategy. He had his agent in New York discreetly buy hundreds of thousands of pounds of German bromine at the cartel’s 15 cent price. Then Dow repackaged the German product and sold it in Europe—including Germany!—at 27 cents a pound, again, lower than the cartel's rates at Germany. "When this 15-cent price was made over here," Dow said, "instead of meeting it, we pulled out of the American market altogether and used all our production to supply the foreign demand. This, as we afterward learned, was not what they anticipated we would do."

The Aftermath
Antitrust laws are needed to protect small businesses and consumers from those corporations with large market shares in their industries.
Indeed, the Germans were befuddled. They expected to run Dow out of business; and this they thought they were doing. But the U. S. demand for bromine kept growing higher and higher! And where was this flow of cheap bromine into Europe coming from? Was one of the Bromkonvention members cheating and selling bromine in Europe below the fixed price? Powerful tensions surfaced from within the Bromkonvention. According to Dow, "The German producers got into trouble among themselves as to who was to supply the goods for the American market . . . ." The confused Germans kept cutting U. S. prices—first to 12 cents and then to 10.5 cents a pound. Dow meanwhile kept buying the stuff and reselling it in Europe for 27 cents. Even when the Bromkonvention finally
caught on to what Dow was doing, it wasn’t sure how to respond. As Dow said, We are absolute dictators of the situation." He also wrote, "One result of this fight has been to give us a standing all over the world . . . . We are in a much stronger position than we ever were . . . ."
The bromine war lasted four years (1904–08), when finally the Bromkonvention invited Dow to come to Germany and work out an agreement. Since they couldn’t crush Dow, they decided to at least work out some deal so they could make money again. The terms were as follows: the Germans agreed to quit selling bromine in the United States; Dow agreed to quit selling in Germany; and the rest of the world was open to free competition. The bromine war was over, but low-priced bromine was now a fact of life.

Arnab Saha
Class of 2015

For more interesting articles read DoMS' own magazine "Dhithi" Click Here

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Samanvay 2013

Some experiences in life have an everlasting impression in our mind. This year’s Samanvay was one such experience which will be cherished by all of us for the years to come. Managing VUCA was the theme for the 7th edition of Samanvay where VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. DoMS was the most vibrant place in IIT Madras this October with the convergence of some of the top minds in B-school and the Industry taking on the challenges of the new VUCA world. The nerves were running high leading up to the event and the challenges equally big, but the hard work and dedication of all the co-ordinators with the support of the faculty took Samanvay to a whole different level this year.

Cyclothon and the Flash Mob

The event started on an exciting note with a barrage of enthusiastic students from all over the Institute taking part in the cyclothon on the evening of 17th October. Prof. T. T. Narendran flagged off the event which announced the commencement of the 7th edition of Samanvay. Refreshments awaited the participants at the finishing point and Certificates were given to the first 100. At around 8’o clock on the same day, the student fraternity of the Institute was in for a special surprise when a sudden flash mob appeared in front of the Himalaya mess. The flash mob was a perfect signal of the excitement and the pleasant surprise that were to be witnessed in the next three days of Samanvay.

On 18th October the moment that we were all eagerly waiting for and working towards arrived. Everyone gathered in the IC&SR auditorium of the Institute for the official inauguration of Samanvay. Mr Awdhesh Krishna, MD, Global HR head, Nomura Services India Ltd. Was the Chief Guest of the Inaugural function. The ceremony began with a prayer song followed by an opening address by our HOD Prof. G. Srinivasan about the department and his expectations from this edition of Samanvay. Mr Awdhesh Krishna delivered an inspiring speech on the theme of Samanvay, ‘Managing VUCA’. Though the concept of VUCA gives a negative feeling he urged the students to approach the VUCA world with a positive mind-set which would help them find the right opportunities out there. ‘Learning Agility’is the mantra that will take us to success in a VUCA world. He discussed the megatrends in the industry like changing face of technology and sustainability. He concluded the speech with his own quote that says, ‘What matters is not competence but Character, not success but Significance.

The Conclave
Individualism can only go so far. Real Excellence is beyond its reach, far beyond the horizon that only togetherness can unravel. On October 19, 2013, the students, alumni and faculty of DoMS, along with the corporate leaders, gathered together in a ‘Management Conclave’ to aggregate their distinctiveness, to exploit the pull of ideological differences and to experience the sheer brilliance of collective coherence. The Management conclave was a panel discussion on India’s Demographic Dividend – A boon or bane’ The panel members of the conclave included many of the industry stalwarts. We had Mr.CharathNarasimhan, CEO Indian Terrain, and also an IIT-M alumnus. Mr.P Suresh, Chief Operating Officer of Bhartiya International was another panel member. We also had Ms, VidyaMuralidhar, HR Manager at Ashok Leyland andProfessor V.R Muralidharan, Professor of Economic at the Department of Humanities and Sciences, IIT Madras. The Guest of Honour for the conclave was Mr. T.V Karthikeyan, CFO L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Limited. He also heads the F&A at L&T Ltd., ECC Division. The panel discussion was moderated by Mr.ArunSubramony, a Ph.D student at Department of Management Studies, an entrepreneur, and an MBA graduate from the Kellog School of Business. The panel discussion shed light on various aspects of the Indian economy that needs to be looked upon, if we are to take advantage of the current demographic dividend and make it count for the future. The speakers stressed on the importance of bringing about a good coverage of quality education across the country, to address the needs of employability and improved economy. They also spoke about the importance of setting up necessary infrastructure that would address the growing needs of our country. They also spoke about reforming the labour laws to favour the growth of business and address the employability and unemployment issues. The speakers also responded to the questions posed by the audience at the end of the discussion. The event concluded with a wonderful speech by Mr. T.V.Karthiekyan, the guest of honour for the day. Mr. T.V Karthikeyan, being a CFO of an infrastructure organisation, delved more into the need for sophisticated and world-class roads, bridges and transportation structure that would enable easy flow of trade, favouring the economy of the country.

Valedictory Function

As all good things must come to an end, the beautiful and pleasant evening of October 20, 2013, saw the curtains being drawn down on Samanvay 2013. The valedictory ceremony of the seventh edition of Samanvay was attended by the faculty, alumni and students of the Department of Management Studies. Mr Ambarish Das Gupta, Head of KPMG operations India, Mr Raman, KPMG India, Professor R. Nagarajan, Dean of International & Alumni Relations graced the occasion with their presence. Mr Ambarish Das Gupta delivered the keynote address. He spoke about the consulting industry and the qualities that are needed for a consultant and outlined the importance and contribution of the consulting industry in growing economies. Mr Ambarish Das Gupta captured the attention of the audience with his wit and humour. He also took questions from the audience. Finally the Vote of thanks delivered by Samanvay Core Coordinator Shine Nagpal brought us to the end of Samanvay 2013 with the hope of returning bigger and better next year.

DoMS Interface Committee
Class of 2015

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Growing Up with Big Data

It was yet another full house at the IC&SR auditorium, where Mr. Anand Rajaram had arrived  to talk about Big Data. A renowned IIT alumni and Senior Vice President, Global E-commerce, Walmart, besides donning many other high profile roles, Mr. Anand Rajaram took the stage with ease and familiarity of an old student. Mr. Anand Rajaram, a recent recipient of the distinguished alumnus award from IIT-Madras, an alumnus of Stanford University, is also the founding partner of Cambrian Ventures. He has worked with Amazon as its Director Of Technology, previously. His talk was pitched on the four generations in the evolution of data driven applications. The first one as he explained was all about collecting, storing and processing private data like payrolls, employee records of an organisation etc. This, he said, was followed by the second generation where businesses tapped into public data that could be collected online. Formulation of Wikipedia and other related websites were products of the second generation of data driven applications. With further advancements, “semi-public” data came into existence in the third generation. Social Networks cropped up in this generation. He stated an example, as to how useful these social networks are in finding product-consumption data across geographies from websites like twitter, facebook etc. This information was used to stock up retail stores accordingly and hence very helpful in market basket analysis. He drove the point better when he quoted Eric Schmidt; “Every two days mankind were creating as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”.  Just like how combining oil and oxygen could fuel a rocket launch, combining private, public and semi-public data , he claims, is set to launch a new generation of endless possibilities. This along with the penetration of smart phones and mobile applications, data is set to provide fodder for many more ideas and concepts. He calls this fourth generation, one of Social Sciences Revolutions. And in this generation we are set to meet “The Big Data”. As data becomes big and bigger at a rapid pace, he advises that data modelling should adopt a “data-rich, model-light” approach, wherein one uses simpler algorithms that can accept frequent changes in volume and nature of data. He concluded on a note that claimed us all to be on the cusp of social sciences revolution, where business possibilities are limited only by one’s imagination.

Padma Priya
Class of 2015

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