Platform and Purpose

Finished reading Subroto Bagchi’s “The Professional: Defining the New Standard of Excellence at Work“. Simple anecdotes bring out very powerful messages. Messages which all of us intuitively know as being right but somehow which don’t sink in. This is not a book review or a synopsis but just a diagrammatic representation of one of the summary chapters towards the end of the book. Basically, active workers have been clubbed into quadrants, each of which is defined by a unique combination of platform and purpose. “Platform” here refers to the silver spoons you get in life, the ‘leg up’ your education and social status provides you etc. “Purpose” refers to the methods you follow to act out your professional destiny on the platform given to you.

Something like that. So I depicted the sense I got through the chart below. I think I am in the blue quadrant as a “Pretentiously intellectual but pathetically ineffective” specimen!!!

I guess a good station in life is rare and many of us are in the high platform but low purpose realm. It appears from the book that the probability of moving over to the high purpose | high platform quadrant from the low purpose | high platform is higher than the probability of getting there from the high purpose | low platform quadrant. Ergo, the bases have to be high/low for the transition probabilities to be low/high and therefore both logically and emperically, it appears that the volume distribution of workers among each of these looks like the below. Very few people in the high purpose and high platform quadrant really.

Wikipedia Shuts Down…

…thankfully, only for a day. This is as a mark of protest against some proposed legislation – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US House of Representatives and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the US Senate. Must have been taken a good deal of thought to announce the 24 hours blackout, obviously aimed at mobilising public opinion against the proposed legislation and making the general public aware of the threat to freedom of information flows in the internet. I agree and so does the Obama establishment saying that “we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression…”. It does seem a very retrograde step and suited to serve the commercial interests of those who profit by limiting access to information. While the White House statement veers off into cyber security issues, the moot point is the thin line that seperates responsible information dissemination and cyber sanctimoniousness.

Various culture, education, IT and Information and moral ministries and politicians appear to be the most sanctimonious of the lot. It was learnt recently that a Minister of the Government had summoned execs from Facebook, Google and Twitter and asked them to remove content that maligned the current Congress President. Wow! That was some time back. Personally, I have absolutely no interest to search and read about the Congress President – regardless of the antecendents or authenticity of such information but I do care about such social media websites running fine and being allowed to flourish. A statement by an Indian judge however seeks to thwart that desire – he told Google and Facebook that their websites can be blocked “like China” if they fail to come up with a way to remove religiously offensive content. Some obscene pictures and derogatory articles pertaining to various Hindu gods, Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ have been found on the internet it seems. Quite predictably, todays Times of India carried a short comment from these companies pointing out to the fact that India is not China – in that it is a democracy where freedom of speech and expression is a right.

Which finally brings me to these fantastic infographics by on the who, what, how and why of internet censorship around the world. The site has a counter for visitors to vote for an internet that is more open and uncensored. 2.27 million people have said a yes to that, including me. I use wikipedia extensively – very extensively in fact and I hope that they don’t touch it too much.

Update [18Jan’12, 4:53pm IST]:

And this is how wordpress looked like some time back today. Brilliant stuff!!

Eastern vs. Western Averages

Here’s a chart from The Economist worth a second look. While it does appear that slowly and steadily we seem to be in an era of transfer of wealth from the west to the east, the problem of India and China is that of distribution. Is this growing wealth helping lift people out of poverty. The question to be asked is that if this increase in GDP be distributed across all citizens of India and China equally, what % of their respective population would get lifted out from poverty?

 And here’s an interesting addendum to this chart:

S&P Sovereign (FCY) Ratings:

Britian: AAA                    United States: AA+                      France: AA+                                Germany: AAA

Russia: BBB                       Brazil: BBB                                        India: BBB-                                   China: AA-

Managed Floats

Jeffrey “King of Bonds” Gundlach was the former head of the $12 bn TCW Total Return Bond Fund. His presentations on the state of whats happening around the economic world are eagerly awaited and discussed. You can find his latest message here. I am showing two screens that caught my eye. These are the lines of movement of the Chinese Renminbi (RMB) and the Indian Rupee (INR).

The INR is on a “managed float” path. Successive administrations at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have managed to maintain and further this strategy of not pegging the INR to a particular foreign currency at a particular exchange rate. Earlier, the RBI used to intervene in the currency markets (it still tried its hand very recently), but the growth in recent trading volumes on the INR means that RBI’s intervention will lack any meaningful punch going forward. The INR has therefore moved a little bit closer to full float status. 

The RMB, on the other hand is undergoing a lot of makeovers. It was earlier pegged to the USD at a fixed rate and then in 2005 when the peg was lifted, all the pent up pressure got released and an immediate revaluation took place. However, the peg was unofficially brought back due to the onset of the financial crisis. Then, in Jun’10, China’s central bank said that it will increase RMB’s flexibility. Now it is moving to managed float status. HSBC had earlier predicted the RMB to become the 3rd major world reserve currency in 15 years. That’s a lot of time for a few more makeovers.

%d bloggers like this: