Thursday, September 21, 2006

Love for Stick

Last week I accompanied my friend to a car accessories shop. There were lot of young adults like us, who were doing up their cars. Here was a freeze moment that caught my eye. One of the shopkeeper was walking with a hockey stick's support. I thought his idea was simply brilliant; If you invert a hockey stick, it is perhaps a perfectly designed walking stick. Out of sheer curiosity I walked upto him and asked him, what makes him do that. He replied in Hindi "saab mein player hua karta tha, bike accident ho gaya do saal pehle, ab mein khel to nahin sakta lekin hockey to apne saat rakh sakta hoon. Aur dekhiye naa, yeh toh ab bhi kaam ki cheez hai". When translated, it means, "Sir I used to be a [hockey] player, I had a bike accident couple of years ago, now I can't play but still I can keep this stick with me. And see, even now it is useful" .

Moral is an accident can do anything. From striking a ball into a goal post to supporting a leg...Bizarre, Isn't it?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Aha Change

I am confused. Few people make 'change' their second skin whereas most of us have this inherent desire to resist change - I wonder why? In order to grow, one has to evolve, in order to evolve some kind of change has to take place. We all consider growth as a good thing. If growth is good then why do we resist change?

Through Orkut, I have found some of my long lost friends. The moment I call them up after getting their number, first thing my friends mention is, your voice has changed so much, secondly you look so different in your photo-so on and so forth.

I hope I have changed for the better! Time for a change management book, I guess..

Friday, September 08, 2006

Are You Safe In Your Car?

Why are Maruti cars so successful in India? Below are the points that come to my mind immediately:

1)Maruti has a sound product line - I do not quite agree. They do not have a good diesel car in their line-up and they do not compete in all segments of the market.(6.5/10)
2)Maruti makes great cars(all critical qualities of an automobile) - Highly questionable, no Maruti car meets the safety norms except for Grand Vitara which is completely manufactured by Suzuki. I am sure in a high impact collision, chances of survival in a Maruti (Omni, Versa, Alto, 800, Esteem, Zen, Wagon R, Swift, Baleno) is extremely bleak considering it is an unsafe car. Can't help but notice the irony here - Maruti is the other name of Lord 'Hanuman'. In Hindu mythology 'Hanuman' is the name of the monkey God who was extremely powerful, immortal etc!.(2/10)
3)Maruti makes extremely energy efficient cars - Not really, if at all there is a difference vis-a-vis cars in the same segment it is miniscule. With the exception of Swift, Baleno & Grand Vitara(V6), it is quite obvious that Maruti cars are somewhat underpowered. Achieving energy efficiency at the cost of a car being underpowered does not speak very highly of an automobile.(7/10)
4)Cheap & easy availability of spare parts - True, Maruti kills the market here. Very strong point.(9.5/10)
5)After sales service - Easily the best in India. For every other car maker, it is an aspirational target.(9.9/10)
6)Low cost of ownership and high resale value: (8.5/10)
7)Refinement and other trivial things - Less said the better, it is definitely not there. Right from how the steering wheel feels, to the gear shift, to how the foot pedal feels. Extremely raw.(4/10)
8)Design and looks - Every now and then Maruti does some cosmetic makeover to their cars and their impactful marketing machinery ensures great acceptability in the consumer's mind.(4.5/10)
9)Last but not the least, Maruti is extremely good at capturing the 'price sensitivity' of the Indian car market. For the kind of localization that Maruti has managed to achieve over the years, I do not see any other car maker doing a better job here in the foreseeable future. (10/10)

Passing thought: When Maruti started making cars in India, for all practical purposes the car market in India was monopolistic. Whatever Maruti did was the industry standard. Even today the safety norms for making cars in India is not well defined, so one can well imagine how it would have been back in 1980s. Maruti exploited this lacuna to their advantage and obviously saved a lot by not spending anything towards making their cars safer. Indian palette is so accustomed to Maruti cars that they just do not think about the safety of their loved ones while making the purchase decision. So my countrymen, a Maruti car is a great value for money but an accident happens only once. Please factor in the *safeness* of a car before buying it.