Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Sunil Handa Guest Talk

Sunday mornings on campus are like desultory conversations. There is no saying when they’ll begin, where they’ll end and what track they’ll follow. This Sunday morning was a little different. Of course, we all woke up groggy-eyed from the night’s revelries. Unlike the other Sundays though, we woke up at the ungodly hour of 10:00 am. Somewhere amidst the stupor, we’d realised that Sunil Handa was coming to campus for a guest talk and we were acting with this never-before sense of urgency. By, 10:30, an eager auditorium was nearly filled with students. Normally it requires dire threats like compulsory attendance and other draconian laws to fill the auditorium. This time the students came on their own.

Sunil Handa is a familiar name in the B-school circuit. All of us have global gyaan on him, associate him with entrepreneurship, know that his motivational speeches are highly regarded. Few of us really knew anything substantial about him, until today. Just like many of us have a latent dream and nebulous plans of starting our own venture, articulate them in our B-school interviews but rarely have the motivation and wherewithal to take the plunge.

He started speaking, about entrepreneurship – his own experiences and those of his students. One had expected in his speech, a very polished, almost stilted English style of a Professor talking to his young students. Instead, the professor frequently ditched formal for vernacular, eschewed pompous English sayings for simple Hindi aphorisms, and replaced jargon with plainspeak. Here was a self-made gujjubhai, cut from the same cloth as most of us, with an authentic nasal twang to boot.

Three or four things came out clearly from his talk. The first was about taking the plunge – the urgency and the ease of doing it. He used the CAT as an example to show how those who had risked everything, resigned from their job and devoted themselves full-time to crack the CAT, enjoyed a better chance of success than those who tried to minimize their risk by holding on to their job and hoping to scrounge into the IIMs simultaneously. Similarly, or to an even greater extent, it is difficult to have a job, dream up an entrepreneurial venture and then leave the job when the venture becomes successful, he said. Because, when you’re doing a “Lallu job”, you can never think beyond its narrow confines and do what you were meant to do. To make you realise how eminently doable this (starting a business) was, he told you that nearly all his 300 successful student entrepreneurs had started with a capital investment of 2 to 8 lakhs.

Another theme was perseverance. Most of his students  had succeeded with their seventh or eighth venture. He himself had bit the dust with several failed businesses including a management consultancy, a ceiling fan distribution agency, a TV distribution agency before finally coming good with a pharmaceutical venture.

He then went on to obliterate a few myths , starting with job security. What security does a job in this cut-throat corporate world provide, he asked? According to him, today if you are above forty and without a job, you’ll be condemned to be jobless for the rest of your life (convenient friend’s example cited). A small mom-and-pop store in the corner of your locality, a self-owned business, is what provides true job security. Another myth busted was about the need to have specific personality types to succeed as an entrepreneur. He gave the example of Raghavendra Rao, owner of Orchid Chemicals, one of the most anonymous and introverted of his batch-mates at IIM Ahmedabad batch of ’79.

And so on and so forth he went, occasionally fielding questions from the participants, buttressing each point with anecdotes and driving them home with witticisms. Some of the stories were as amusing as they were inspiring. He talked about the way he forced one of his subordinates to resign from a routine salesman’s job, because the fellow had potential as a sculptor.

It all ended on an inspiring note. Insights on “What your parents really want from you”. The answer was, “They want you to be successful, reasonably well off, and most importantly, respected in society.”. If a stranger meets your parents and says that they are fortunate to have a child like you, then yours is a life well lived. And perhaps, entrepreneurship is the best way to leave that imprint on this world, across the sands of time.

The simplicity of his message was truly poignant. And there were lump-in-the-throat moments for some in the audience. What better compliment can be paid to a speaker than the fact that complete strangers in his audience were moved to tears.

@ E-Cell of IIM Indore : Thank you for bringing Sunil Handa to campus

Good food in the city of Indore

This one’s filched (with permission of course) from here
It’s a pretty exhaustive list of eat-out options in the city of Indore. All expressed in a form eerily familiar to the MBA student – a matrix. Thank you Ankit Doshi, PGP2 participant, for compiling this list.
Editor’s note:- The author shuns non-veg, and so the list may feature a lot more veg eateries than non-veg, but most of the important non-veg food joints are covered.
Good food for IIM Indore participants
Given below are the places I have visited. I am sure there are more places left to be explored. I shall add more to this list with contribution from others. Please add your comments below to dispute, add or recommend anything.

Closer to campus there are a few good options:

Name Distance from E Block (Aayush) Rating Description
Chef’s Al Cove (V & NV) about 5 kms 9/10 Run by a former Taj Chef, provides a variety of high quality preparations.  Brilliant place for both vegetarians and Non-vegetarians
Mashaal (V & NV) about 5 kms 6/10 Once a monopoly, now has competition. Decent quality of food. But what people like most  is that alcohol is available 


Beach Cafe (Only V) about 5 kms 7/10 Some items on the menu are very good. Personally, love the Veg.Cheese Burger and Cadby. Frequented often by IIM I guys for Hookah and fast food.
Nakhrali Dhaani about 3 kms 8/10 Traditional Marwari fare only but very good stuff and the ambiance is a good  change.

Chef’s Al Cove – Courtesy facebook page. Click here
Somewhere between campus and the city:
Name Distance from E Block
Rating Description
Celebrations (Only V) about 12-13 kms 8/10 Fast service (self), good food and very good cakes and chocolate products. Sizzlers and limited South Indian food is available
Chlorophyll (Only V) about 15 kms 7/10 Great place for Hookah, Pizza and sandwiches. A touch far though and off route.
Retreat (V & NV) about 6 kms 6/10 Have experienced it only once but a lot of people do go there.  Again, Alcohol available here.
Utsav (Only V) about 7-8 kms NA Have not eaten myself so can’t rate. Only had a glass of Lassi with a friend. Open restaurant with indian style swings (jhulas)
Indore Sarafa Bazar
Popular options in the city:
Name Distance from E Block (Aayush) Rating Description
ShreeMaya ( V & NV) 20 kms + 9/10 Terrific breakfast and lunch buffet, great value for money. Very good food. Highly recommended for Indian food.
Treasure Island ( Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Little Italy,Food Court, Barista, Sports Bar  and much more) 20 kms + 9/10 The rating is for the fact that its a one stop shop for EVERYTHING! The rating is for the mall
Nafeez (NV & V) 20 kms + 9/10 I’m not a NV but all my NV friends praise it as if its some heaven on earth. Especially the Biryani
Sayaji (Kebabs, The Square) (V & NV) 22 kms + 7/10 Used to be the only big 3 star hotel before Radisson came in. Kebabs can be patchy…very good at times, okayish some other time. The buffet at ‘ The Square’ can again be up and down. We have not been delighted every time we’ve been there.
Ram Babu ke Parathe (Only V) 20 kms + 7/10 Delicious Pizza paratha and even better lassi and buttermilk. Specialty place for paratha only. Lacks variety and good ambiance.
Simi’s bakey 22 kms + 9/10 Only bakery items, mouth watering desserts and pastries. Recommended by our French teacher here. I love this place
Sarafa 22 kms + 9/10 The khau gali of Indore, its a superb place to go to when you want to gorge on street food. We had an awesome time at Sarafa
Lemon Tree 20 kms + 6/10 Strictly Okay according to me. Nothing really excites me about this place.
Chasers (Central Mall) (V & NV) 20 kms + 7/10 Basically a pub with ok food. Good variety. Don’t think very highly of it though
Mr.Beans 20 kms + 5/10 Hookah joint with some snack items. We had quite a bad experience here. We have not gone again since then.
The Chocolate Room 22 kms+ 8/10 Part of the multi-city chain, its a good place to indulge in a little chocolate madness. I think the bread items are very good too.
Radisson – The creative kitchen 22kms + 9/10 Awesome buffet and awesome food. Great variety. Service could be marginally better considering the price they charge.
Chappan (56) 20 kms + 7/10 56 shops lined up on a street serving interesting food and chaat. But I prefer Sarafa to 56. But worth going once at least.
Other places you can go to :
– Dominos at Sapna Sangeeta
– ‘Ghamandi’ Lassi opposite Sapna Sangeeta is mindblowing
–  Go to MHOW near the cinema hall there is a chatwala who come after 5pm. There is a fruitwala who sells awesome fruit and opposite there are fresh fruit juice walas who churn out real good juice all the time. Its a great  bike ride to MHOW too
– Rau Poha and Pani Puri ( I don’t endorse the Rau pani puri too much but a lot of people really like it)
– Sarovar Portico where I have not yet been
I think this list is good for a start.
Indore Sarafa Bazar
Sarafa – (All pictures courtesy – mywebduniya)
People! – Please help me if I am missing something by commenting below. Hopefully we shall have an exhaustive list in some time.

Pictures from Samanvay

Here’s the story of Samanvay, told eloquently in pictures.

The pictures here are courtesy Arnav Neil Mukherjee, our Acadcom Secretary and up and coming photographer.

(The Janapav Kuti village attends the gathering to become financially included!)
(Santosh Kumar Gupta with poster-boy Darshan Karkera and his creation)
(Nanhi kali)
(Brother and sister, or just friends?)
(Busily entering beneficiaries' data into a laptop. Or using it to complete an assignment...? )

(Men at Work)
(More men at work)
(Men not at work - Ankit Gupta and unidentified kid)
(The man that made it happen - Biswadip Paul )
(l to r- Abhishek, Ravi, Partho, Sonik, Touseef, Abhishek Rungta, Shankardev DasGupta)
The man that allowed Biswadip to make it happen - Ahvan Coordinator Amitava Bandopadhyay (Yogesh M. in background)
(Oh, and we almost forgot - the bankers!)

Flashback: Samanvay

Samanvay – A small step today leading to a thousand great leaps tomorrow.

To many starstruck aspirants around the world, an MBA degree from a premier institute conjures up images of lucrative job offers and a chance to leapfrog several rungs of the corporate ladder. The allure of the degree also stems from the perception that it allows for a breezy familiarity with the captains of the corporate world. It holds the promise of a life less ordinary, a continuation of a steadily rising career graph for some, and the only escape from a quagmire of mediocrity for others.
This entire equation seems terribly lopsided, if you ask me. Lopsided, because it makes you dream of rapid growth without sustainability. Of growing the business without accountability. Of taking, but not giving. Lopsided, because nowhere does it remind you that with great power comes great responsibility.
All this is unsustainable in the long run, as we painfully witnessed in the global meltdown of 2008-09. It was caused in no small part by well-paid managers in high places, and it prompted much introspection and soul-searching in the MBA community abroad. There were calls to address the imbalance between the short-term incentives for managers and their impact in the long term. People tried to codify management into a profession, like medicine and law. In the USA, they proceeded to draft a manager’s version of the Hippocratic Oath.
India, had been thankfully spared the worst ravages of the recession, but the question “Why and how should we instill a sense of responsibility in our MBA grads?” is hardly ever asked. It is a question of critical importance. For, in the new world order, India stands poised on the cusp of economic growth, prosperity and greatness. Our GDP growth, powered by a growing demographic dividend, is expected to outpace China’s within the next 3-5 years. It will be realised only if those who have been deprived of access to the economy are now incorporated into it. It will materialize only if the vast hinterland that is our rural and informal economy, is integrated into the mainstream. In other words, the next phase of growth has to be powered by the Bottom of The Pyramid, which in India, has more than 400 mn people. If this segment is not mobilized, our estimates will remain a pipe-dream.
It is here that the MBA grad has a vital role to play. He must use his acquired business acumen to devise creative ways for engaging the unserved, the unbanked and for involving them in business. By doing so, he can help India achieve the sustainable growth that it dreams about. At IIM Indore, we have been trying to put these ideas into practice.
We realized that financial inclusion is a key enabler of economic growth, and India is crying from lack of financial inclusion. There are more people with mobile phones than with bank accounts in our country. With only 40% of the people having access to banking facilites, only 20% having any kind of insurance cover, less than 4% having insurance cover and only 26% of the rural population with annual incomes below 50,000 holding bank accounts, financial exclusion threatens the very foundations on which our dream of a better tomorrow is built. Which is why we decided to do something about it today.
At Samanvay, the launch event of our annual management fest, Ahvan, we helped open No-frills banking accounts and provided Accident Insurance for seven hundred people from the rural areas nearby. They are from mostly labourers with limited income, but do possess savings, which were excluded from the banking system for a variety of reasons. They will now experience the benefits of joining the banking system.

For our institute and our fest, this act is but a small step. However, we hope that it will enable a thousand great leaps tomorrow. We hope it will help India unlock its potential.  And finally, we hope to provide a sense of direction to the debate on how and why should an MBA grad behave responsibly towards society. Fittingly, our theme for the fest this year is “Inspire to Act, Act to Inspire.”

Festive season at Planet “I”

While the junta here at Planet-I is known to slog big time for academics all through the year, there are times when we party and celebrate like crazy. The greatest advantage of studying here at an IIM is that you get to meet and make friends with folks coming from different parts of the country. This ensures that we do not miss even a single festival from any part of the country, be it Onam, Pongal from the South, Durga Puja, Bihu from the East, Lohri, Diwali from the North or Navratri from the West. The Cultural Committee here does all the needful for us to have these festivals celebrated here on campus grandly.The month October is the biggest festive season in India. We have more than three festivals celebrated in different parts of the country. We had grand celebrations here in mid October when we celebrated Dusherra at campus. We bought a Putla of Ravan and in the evening had it burnt down to ashes, as is done popularly to celebrate the victory of good over evil. This was followed by a small show of fire crackers. Watch out this video on how it all unfolded.

Soon after Dusherra was Diwali. The mood at campus was dull and mundane as mid-terms were to commence from the very next day. But hang on, as the clock struck 6, the guys and gals at Planet-I were up to their best. People were dressed in their ethnic attires moving around in the campus preparing for the Lakshmi Puja. There were people decorating the Melting Point with Diyas, flaunting their talent with Rangali etc The Puja took place in one of the hostels after which it was the show of fire crackers. The show was absolutely spectacular lasting for more than an hour. As if this was not enough, we had a special dinner arranged for everybody. What a way to celebrate Diwali !!! It was like home away from home.

Right after the term 2 break, it was Pongal time in January. People call it by different names – Lohri, Sankaranti, Bihu etc but it pretty much is the same. It is the festival of Harvest. The mood at campus this time was bright and you could see people going to temples as early as 6 in the morning. We had a special lunch in the afternoon arranged for everybody. By the time it was evening, almost the entire campus was on the football ground. The cooks at Planet-I were at their best. We had pongal cooked and served to everyone around. You could see a bunch of people moving around with the sugarcane stick in their hands. Man, Don’t they all love them !!

Right after the cooking thing was done, we were up for the games. The Tug of war was a huge hit. The rules were slightly tweaked to accommodate girls in the team too. It was fun to watch the teams battle it out. We also had several other games like Matkaphod – Each person was blind folded and he had to break a pot into pieces.

It is amazing how the same festivals that we had been celebrating for the past several years seems so different (good different) when you are with a different set of people. These 2 years at this planet have been different in all aspects and have been the ones to cherish forever.