Monday, June 19, 2006

What fascinates both mathematicians and laypeople


Books2Byte
The magic behind Möbius
The Möbius Strip
Clifford A. Pickover
Thunder's Mouth Press (http://www.pickover.com/)
Scientists are of the view that the Möbius crystals "offer a new route to exploring topological effects in quantum mechanics as well as to the construction of new devices." Another snatch in the book is about how in December 2003 "German scientists reported the actual synthesis of the world's first Möbius aromatic hydrocarbon molecule."

More

E-mail is asynchronous


Books2Byte
Go slow on the 'send'
Case Studies in Organizational Communication
Ed: Steve May
Sage (http://www.sagepublications.com/)
Meet Kristian Mjøen, who co-founded Dossier, as a 26-year-old civil engineering student in theoretical physics. He is of the view that all employees should have "a tool for continually documenting their own competencies in a life-long learning perspective and have the opportunity to actively develop their own career." He'd argue that employees have a big incentive to update their information "because it is clearly in their self-interest to do so."

More

Role of women


E&OE
Forceless argument about doing without women
Women in the Indian National Movement: Unseen Faces and Unheard Voices 1930-42
Suruchi Thapar-Björkert
Sage (www.indiasage.com)
The book is about how 'ordinary middle-class women' were inspired by leaders like Gandhiji, and fought for Independence, despite their many constraints.
Looking back, the author asks, "Did nationalist agenda supersede the women's agenda? Was it sidelined by other political priorities, thus making it difficult to articulate a clear agenda for themselves in post-Independence India?"


More

Create goodwill by showing real interest in others' contributions


Career Crossroads
A stint with a bad boss can make you a better boss
The Truth About Managing Your Career
Karen Otazo
Pearson Education (www.ft-ph.com)
Since 'good networking is about enjoying the conversation', focus on other people's needs. "It's easy to spot networkers who are motivated by pure self-interest. They often strike you as phoney, even manipulative. They're the folks who look past you into the room as they shake your hand."

More

Behind "a huge boulder, resting about six feet above the level of the water"


Reading Room
Car alive in a watery cave
The Red Jaguar on the Mountain
Ranjit Lal
Wisdom Tree (www.wisdomtreeindia.com)

"It was rusty and corroded... the once beautiful chrome wire wheels were all twisted and broken." But something was unusual: "Its headlamps were blazing and the red taillights glowed eerily... Steam was still hissing from under the long bonnet."

More

Standards for music rights accounting?


Reading Room
Accounting for music rights
The Indian Media Business
Vanita Kohli-Khandekar
Response (www.indiasage.com)
What about advances paid to artistes and others against future royalty? "Such advances are usually guaranteed minimum payable and hence non-refundable. These are treated as assets and amortised over the period of the contract," notes the author.

More

Your greatest limits are not external, but internal, within your own thinking


Reading Room
Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers
Create Your Own Future
Brian Tracy
Wiley India (www.wileyindia.com)
Principle 2, "Clarity is critical." That is, know exactly what you want. "The primary reason for underachievement and failure is fuzziness and confusion about goals." Next factor, "Knowledge is power." Expand your knowledge by reading, advises Tracy.

More

Volatile markets are eye-openers for investors


Book Value
Returns off relationships
Market-Neutral Investing
Joseph G. Nicholas
Bloomberg Press (www.bloomberg.com)

"Market-neutral investing refers to a group of investment strategies that seek to neutralise certain market risks by taking offsetting long and short positions in instruments with actual or theoretical relationships," defines Nicholas. "These approaches seek to limit exposure to systemic changes in price caused by shifts in macroeconomic variables or market sentiment."

More

Saturday, June 17, 2006

How do the strengths and weaknesses of the economy drive the market


E-Dimension
Reading the tea leaves amidst storm in the stocks cup
The Trader's Guide to Key Economic Indicators
Richard Yamarone
Bloomberg Press (www.bloomberg.com)
Economists have helped us by weeding out the dubious indicators; so we have about fifty consistently reliable ones. Of these, the book speaks of a core dozen — the 'must-haves in any analytical toolbox.' The first is GDP or gross domestic product, 'the broadest, most comprehensive barometer available of a country's overall economic condition'.

More

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Banks are subject to many an audit


Books of Account
Bankable audit inputs
Contemporary Bank Audit
Nitant P. Trilokekar
Snow White (www.swpindia.com)
The discussion of 'audit of advances' is elaborate; it encompasses term loans, cash credit, overdraft, guarantees and more. Under each, the author lists 'common errors'. For instance, 'absence of documentation' is one of the most common errors in TOD or temporary overdraft; sanction may not be written in the required format "though vouchers bear the signature of the manager implying sanction."

More

Towards real-time business


Book Mark
Seize opportunities 'as they are unfolding'
The Power to Predict
Vivek Ranadivé
Tata McGraw-Hill (http://www.tatamcgrawhill.com/)
Real-time information is a far cry from the earlier 'data at rest' era that hinged heavily on historical data. Yet, real-time information isn't the same as real-time business. The latter demands agility and control to ensure 'the ability to coordinate and control assets and activities at every level so you can sense and respond to change as it happens.' Ranadivé defines real-time business as "the ability to give customers what they want, when they want it, in the manner they want to receive it."

More

Monday, June 12, 2006


Books2Byte
The Net has its own secret language
The Secrete Language of Competitive Intelligence
Leonard M. Fuld
Crown Business (www.crownbusiness.com)
'Will Google beat Microsoft?' asks chapter 3. "When a rival broadsides you with a price cut, a new technology disrupts your plans, all your traditional tactics appear to be failing, or your market is about to undergo a major change, just play," advises Fuld. "Play a war game, the tool of choice to help you gain strategic transparency of your marketplace and your competition."

More

How 'a few intrepid entrepreneurs brought the world to India'


Books2Byte
On how ITES all started
The Backroom Brigade
Seetha
Penguin Portfolio (www.penguinbooksindia.com)
"In 1993, American Express had launched its rupee cards in the country. The operations were very similar to those in other countries. However, the Amex management in the US was puzzled by the fact that monthly reports from the India office showed that productivity and quality were better while costs were lower than elsewhere."

More

Good managers accept 'occasional mistakes and even failure'


Reading Room
Good managers are supportive managers
Managing Employee Performance Problems
Neville C. Tompkins
Viva (www.vivagroupindia.com)
"Good managers are supportive managers," says Tompkins. Such managers encourage their staff "to speak their minds, try out new approaches to work, and display energy and imagination." Good managers accept "occasional mistakes and even failure."

More

Three Rs of change management


Reading Room
Change management is a complex process
Management of Organizational Change
K. Harigopal
Response (www.indiasage.com)
Reason management, the first R, deals with employees' perceptions and beliefs, their cognitions. "Most often messages of change are laden with negative emotions and with uncertainty of the future," rues Harigopal. "If employees have to be tuned to change, communications should lead to optimism, hope and a positive outcome."

More

Ask yourself whether the problem is caused by your behaviour rather than theirs


Manage Mentor
Handling difficult people
How to be an Even Better Manager
Michael Armstrong
Viva (www.vivagroupindia.com)
Of special interest should be the discussion on handling difficult people. A sobering thought, however, before trying to understand why people can be difficult, is to consider the probability that such people may be convinced that it is you who are being difficult!

More

Building blocks of the wealth cycle are a dozen


Book Value
No such thing as a self-made millionaire
The Millionaire Maker
Loral Langemeier
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)
"People who tell you they built wealth without a team to help them are not telling the whole truth." Have a team, therefore, comprising "professional advisers, colleagues, and field partners with opportunities." Communicate your ambition, says Langemeier. "You'll discover that just by talking and sharing your vision with others, you will start to generate forward motion."

More

India's economic destiny has been divorced from its political destiny


E-Dimension
Welcome to a young country
India: An Investor's Guide to the Next Economic Superpower
Aaron Chaze
Wiley (www.wiley.com)
Studying the intellectual framework of our economy, Chaze notes that India's path to economic growth has 'emphasised developing high-quality manpower and building a very strong service economy.' Success in these spheres "is beginning to provide the momentum and confidence to expand the manufacturing base." The author points out: "This is the reverse of what has happened in the rest of the developing world, and is worth emulating."

More

What's now blowing on is 'the third and latest wealth wave'


E-Dimension
Time to redraw 'the wealth maps'
Revolutionary Wealth
Alvin and Heidi Toffler
Alfred A. Knopf (www.aaknopf.com)
What's now blowing on is 'the third and latest wealth wave', de-massifying production, markets and society. However, in countries such as China, Brazil and India, all the three waves are concurrently in action, one learns. "Vestigial hunters and gatherers dying away as First Wave peasants take over their land; peasants moving to cities for jobs in Second Wave factories; and Internet cafés and software start-ups cropping up as the Third Wave arrives." Wealth that the Third Wave promises can make what the forerunner systems produced minute in comparison, say the Tofflers.

More

Crowded skies, divided pie


Book Mark
For the best of all media pedigrees
Transnational Media and Contoured Markets
Amos Owen Thomas
Sage (www.indiasage.com)
Is there a relationship between advertising and development? "Whether it is a cause or an effect is still in doubt," concedes the author, on the strength of many published research works.

More

Hard bargaining goes into the making of tax treaties


Books of Account
Transcending borders
Aspects of International Taxation: A Study
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (www.icai.org)
"The essence of the PE is the right to use with some sort of permanence attached to it. However, permanent need not mean everlasting but it should be something more than temporary," reads an explanation in the book. PE, as a topic, has been home to everlasting controversies.

More

IT infrastructure becomes 'an enabler of higher-order solutions'


Books2Byte
ROI is no silver-bullet metric
The Business Case for Enterprise-Class Wireless LANs
H. David Castaneda, Oisin Mac Alasdair, and Christopher A.L. Vinckier
Cisco (www.ciscopress.com)
IT infrastructure investments are a sunk cost, reminds the book. "This is because the average shelf life of today's IT assets is relatively short, even though the asset might be usable for a relatively long time." Therefore, you may have to look at economic life, rather than `the life span of usability' of IT assets.

More

Exciting exploration of the enigmatic world of entrepreneurship


Books2Byte
Eight patterns of highly effective entrepreneurs
If at First You Don't Succeed...
Brent Bowers
Currency (www.currencybooks.com)
"The gift for detecting - and grabbing - unique moneymaking opportunities that have somehow eluded everybody else lies at the centre of entrepreneur's mental universe," notes the book. There are two parts to the process of exploiting untapped opportunity, explains Bowers: perception and action.

More

What is the single common feature of many workplaces?


Reading Room
Meaningless work
The Myth of Nine to Five
Ted Scott and Phil Harker
Viva (www.vivagroupindia.com)
Dysfunctional workplaces are all around us. To these, people don't come to work, but to earn a living, rue the authors. "They might come to enjoy the camaraderie of their workmates. They might even come to gain gratification from the games they play to distract themselves from the mindless labour they would otherwise perform."

More

Liability insurance is what is of relevance to professionals


Reading Room
Know negligence to be secure against claims
Introduction to Risk Management and Insurance
Mark S. Dorfman
Pearson Education (www.pearsoned.co.in)
Litigious societies never run short of negligence lawsuits. Among the many examples in the book, is this one about a child who is injured while playing some outdoor equipment in a neighbour's backyard. Interestingly, the doctrine invoked by the parents of the injured child was one of 'attractive nuisance.'

More

Time management is the first skill


Manage Mentor
A dozen skills for the busy manager
Twelve Management Skills for Success
Ram Narain
Viva (www.vivagroupindia.com)
What to do if, as a novice, you find that fear is overcoming you, after you have started the presentation? "Don't bother about the audience; think that you are speaking to yourself," instructs Narain.

More

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Avoid 'affordable,' if you are not saying 'by whom'


Write Right
Think clear to write clear
The Economist Style Guide
Viva (www.vivagroupindia.com)
The book is divided into three parts, viz. the essence of style, American and British English, and useful reference. Entries are arranged A to Z, making the guide a handy reference. Be warned, though, that it can question many a thing that you always thought was right.

More

Save energy

Realty Check
Energy conservation opportunities
Energy Auditing Made Simple
P. Balasubramanian

  • Reduction of solar heat gain through glass windows and glass doors by external shading
  • Use heat reflecting window/door coatings
  • Insulation and lighter colours for roof and walls
  • Raising conditioned space temperature by one degree in various halls

More

A glaring example of lack of civic infrastructure


Realty Check
When quality of life becomes the victim
Rajasthan Development Report
Planning Commission
Academic Foundation (http://www.academicfoundation.com/)
"Schools rub shoulders with buffalo dairies and small shops. Drain water keeps flooding the roads, and cars are parked all over without any regard for the proper flow of traffic." Sounds too familiar? There's more: "Temples have cropped up in the small parks causing shrinking of open space and the government remains a mute spectator."

More

There is a constant influx of population into urban centres


Title Feed
Dualism in India's urbanisation
India Infrastructure Report 2006
On 'urban infrastructure'
3iNetwork
Oxford (www.oup.com)
While Tier I cities, representing 6 per cent of the population, contribute 14 per cent of the country's GDP, Tier II cities, which account for about 7 per cent of the population aren't far behind; they contribute almost 13 per cent of India's GDP. "A Nasscom-KPMG study has revealed that Tier II cities - Kochi, Pune, Nagpur, Chandigarh and Jaipur offer more advantages to ITES companies."

More

Today's investments form the basis for future purchasing power


Book Value
Not investing your money is also risky
All About Investing
Esmé Faerber
Tata McGraw-Hill (http://www.tatamcgrawhill.com/)
One of the many tips in the book is on using the Net to find value and growth stocks. "Use a stock screener on www.finance.yahoo.com or www.moneycentral.msn.com to see a list of some current growth and value stocks," writes Faerber. "For growth stocks, enter higher P/E ratios and higher earnings per share growth estimates. For value stocks, enter low P/E ratios and lower earnings per share growth estimates."


More

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Even a 5.5 to 6 per cent average growth is quite creditable for such a large and diverse society


E-Dimension
Creditable growth for a diverse society
Essays on Macroeconomic Policy and Growth in India
Shankar Acharya
Oxford (www.oup.com)
"There is urgent need to recapture the growth momentum of the mid-1990s, not only in industry but in all sectors of the economy," urges Acharya.
More

Per capita GDP growth is 'an imperfect indicator of welfare improvement'


E-Dimension
Knowledge, the ultimate vehicle
Growth Theory
Dipankar Dasgupta
Oxford (www.oup.com)
In the maze of models and formulae that populate the pages, you'd find enlightening lines on how knowledge, 'the most abstract of resources created by economic agents', can be 'the ultimate vehicle for breaking through the barriers of diminishing returns'.
More

Sources of growth are two: changes in input and changes in output per unit of input


E-Dimension
Gears that move the innards of growth
The Sources of Economic Growth in India
S. Sivasubramonian
Oxford (www.oup.com)
One of the insights that Sivasubramonian offers is that during the transition from stagnation to moderate growth, TFP was the most important factor. "Labour input played a more important role than capital input during deceleration and the reverse was seen during acceleration of growth," he observes. "The contribution of education, which reflects the possible improvement in the quality of labour input, and that of machinery and equipment, which reflects the adoption of modern technology, have not yet become as important as they should be in a rapidly growing economy."

More

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ethical conduct is not a fashionable subject to sermonise upon


Books of Account
No more 'chalta hai'
Business Ethics
Rajiv K. Mishra
Rupa
In ethics management, there are four words to watch out for, says Mishra. These are greed, speed, laziness and haziness. Meaning, the desire for more, the wrong notion that faster is better, the pursuit of the easy way, and the haze caused by not thinking one's actions through.
More

Build a brand name that is equal to the solution of a problem


Book Mark
Whatever you do, don't waste time!
Out of the Box Marketing
David Abingdon in
Viva (www.vivagroupindia.com)
The book brims with ideas. "Work is no longer work - it is your life - and it's fun," proclaims a banner in the middle of a page. "Think about how you can be first to offer something the others do not," suggests another. Elsewhere is this insight that jumps from the pages in big, bold letters: "One of the primary traits of the Web shopper! They're impatient!"
More