Friday, December 26, 2008

Trade pact with Japan

India & Japan are moving closer in their economic relationship. Trade between the two countries has grown by 250% in the last 4 years yet it lags well behind the trade with China. Indo-Chine trade has already crossed USD 20 Billion but Indo-Japan trade is merely at USD 10 Billion. This is despite the fact that Indo-Chine trade started to accelerate at the same time! The article on provides more details below. Editor.


New Delhi: Trade officials of India and Japan will try again in February to resolve some ticklish issues blocking the tariff-breaking bilateral pact.Commerce ministry officials will engage with their Japanese counterparts to bridge the gap on issues such as recognition of Indian pharmaceutical products by Japan and services.

India is keen on gaining market access through a free trade agreement for the $19 billion (Rs93,100 crore) pharmaceutical industry in Japan, which is one of the major importers in the world.Indian firms say their products are not recognized by Tokyo in terms of quality and safety standards despite the approval by the US authorities.
India also wants wider reach for its services sector, which the Japanese are a bit circumspect about.

While India’s trade with Japan has more than doubled in the last four years from about $4 in 2003-04 to almost $10 billion in the last fiscal, many products such as oilseeds, dairy products, sugar and sugar products face tariff peaks in Japan.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mind reading technology from Japan

Newswire Reuters has reported that a lab in Japan has created mind reading technology. Indeed a first in the world it is interesting development and who knows one day, may even be able to replace the narco-analysis employed for questioning criminal! Editor


TOKYO: A Japanese research team said Thursday it had created a technology that could eventually display on a computer screen what people have on their minds, such as dreams.

Researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories succeeded in processing and displaying images directly from the human brain, they said in a study unveiled ahead of publication in the US magazine Neuron. While the team for now has managed to reproduce only simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to figure out dreams and other secrets inside people's minds.

'It was the first time in the world that it was possible to visualise what people see directly from the brain activity,' the private institute said in a statement.
'By applying this technology, it may become possible to record and replay subjective images that people perceive like dreams.' When people look at an object, the eye's retina recognises an image that is converted into electrical signals which go into the brain's visual cortex.

The team, led by chief researcher Yukiyasu Kamitani, succeeded in catching the signals and then reconstructing what people see. In their experiment, the researchers showed people the six letters in the word 'neuron' and then succeeded in reconstructing the letters on a computer screen by measuring their brain activity.
The team said that it first figured out people's individual brain patterns by showing them some 400 different still images

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rare statue of Buddha returns after 1,400 years

Interesting to note that a Cow in Zenkoji temple is worshipped as Buddha's incarnation. Zenkoji temple is also believed to be the "gate to heaven". Quite similar to a lot of beliefs in India isnt it? Looks like the Indo-Japan cultures have more in common than originally thought. This article appeared in Hindustan Time today. Editor

A rare and invaluable statue of Lord Buddha supposed to have been taken to Japan in 552 AD during the reign of emperor Kinmei when Buddhismin was being introduced in Japan is being showcased at the National Museum in New Delhi.

Sponsor Vikas Mandal, head, Japan Desk, Fox Mandal Little, told Hindustan Times that “Holding this exhibition represents the symbolic return of the statue of the ‘Ikko Amida Triad’, Amitabha Buddha, to the birthplace of Shakyamuni and Buddhism 2,500 years ago.” Director Exhibition National Museum RRS Chauhan said the exhibition would mark the 50th anniversary of a cultural exchange programme between India and Japan.

He said, “The original statue was never found in India and it's still a mystery if this is the original statue or a replica.”

Zenkoji temple in Nagano town in Japan where the statue is kept draws pilgrims from Japan as well as across the world. The temple worships cows as the incarnation of Lord Buddha.

Zenkoji temple is considered to be the entrance to paradise. The faithful also believed in reincarnation, he added.

Jawaharlal Nehru had presented two white cows as a symbol of friendship between India and Japan, during the former prime minister’s visit to Japan in 1957. The cows were kept at the Zenkoji temple.

The exclusive exhibition also showcases more than 160 articles, which also includes articles belonging to the Toku Gawa Shoguns, who patronised the temple and became the most powerful warlords in Japan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

IT firms eye Japanese market

This is a special note that would interest all the AJP/AAJP students of Nihongo Bashi across India. Note the revised forecasts compared to the Nasscom-MicKinsey report which predicted USD 3 Billion in IT revenues from Japan in 2008! Looks like reality is finally creeping in. Now the forecast is much more balanced and takes reality into account. The prognosis is for a cautious optimism rather than blind bullishness. In line with the Japanese mindset finally. Here is the article that appeared in Business Standard today. Interesting read indeed. Editor

With prominent Indian IT companies such as Tata Consultancy Services(TCS), Wipro, Infosys Technologies, Zensar Technologies and Satyam Computer Services increasing their presence in Japan, the world's second largest IT services market is becoming a lucrative market for India.

Nasscom pegs the Japanese IT services market at $108 billion, India's share in the market being only $1-1.5 billion (around Rs 4,900-7,500 crore). Offshoring is limited to 8-10 per cent of the total market, with China being Japan's biggest offshoring partner, accounting for over 50 per cent of the total offshoring. "We see India's share of IT exports to Japan growing in the next 5-7 years. This increased diversification to Japan has got nothing to do with the current economic downturn," asserts Som Mittal, Nasscom president.

However, the task is easier said than done. Japan has low overall IT spending, with spend to sales ratio being around 1-1.5 per cent for most industries, as compared to around 3.5-4 per cent in the US. BFSI and manufacturing are the highest spenders among all industries. Zensar Technologies currently has an all Japanese team of 250 people in Japan. The company gets almost six per cent of its revenues, less than $10 million (Rs 49 crore) from Japan but sees it doubling to $20 million (Rs 98 crore) in three years.

"We have been in Japan for six years and it is a slow market in terms of culture. It is a different market and the number of young people who can take up IT jobs is very less," says Ganesh Natrajan, Global CEO, Zensar. Nucleus Software, which gets 50 per cent of its revenues from Japan, has 100 employees there but the company doesn't want to increase this number. "Japan is a tough proposition in terms of language and culture and has low tolerance for mistakes," says Vishnu R Dusad, CEO and MD of Nucleus Software.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We took time to understand the Indian market: Toyota honcho

The Financial Express carried an interview with Dy. M.D. of Toyota in India. See how Toyota mentions planning as the most important approach. Typical Japanese thinking ensuring a long term strategy for success. Editor.


Toyota, with a conservative outlook, has been shying away from the Indian market. But is now gearing up for a ‘jumpstart decade’ in India, beginning with its mass-market compact car, to be rolled out by 2011. “We are looking at a presence in all segments in the country,” says Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd. He spoke to FE’s Shweta Bhanot during the Corolla Altis launch in Mumbai recently. Excerpts:

What will be Toyota ‘s strategy as it prepares to enter the mass-market segment in India?

Toyota is a very conservative organisation. Before it comes in a big way, the company tries to understand the market, reads the customer mind, buying behaviour and then looks at maintaining a balance between cost & quality since there can be no compromise on the quality front. India is a diverse country and we entered the market with our multipurpose vehicle, the Qualis. Later the Qualis was replaced by the Innova. During this process, the vendor base and dealership development was also undertaken. Now, Toyota is geared up for what we call a ‘jumpstart decade’ in India.

Toyota has completed ten years in India. However, when it comes to market share, there is still long way to go…

We took time to understand the Indian market. We needed model line-up and capacity to achieve a sizable market share. Now we feel that we will be able to achieve at least 10% market share by 2015, which may go further up looking at the market scenario and growth prospects in India. India is the fastest growing automobile market despite the sluggish growth witnessed at the moment. We expect the Indian market to double in the next seven to ten years.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Unitech Machines, Nohmi Bosai form JV

As the Indo-Japan relationship diversifies into various areas, welcome developments like this JV announcement, further underscore the good news. Fire protection systems is a fast exploding and emerging field especially when considered the in light of the massive infrastructure upgradation projects in India. The recent Saravana stores fire disaster in Chennai also is an unfortunate reminder of this need. Such cooperation in the Industrial sector will also pave the way for more job opportunities for bilingual students in sectors other than IT. Our best wishes for the success of this venture. The article in Times of India is given below for those interested in the details. Editor

10 Sep 2008, 0112 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: Unitech Machines Ltd, a Rs 700 crore firm has formed a joint venture company with Japanese fire safety major Nohmi Bosai Ltd. In the JV, Unitech Nohmi Fire protection System Pvt Ltd (UNFPS), Unitech Machines will own 49% and the rest 51% will be held by Japanese firm.

The JV would be working to establish a comprehensive and secured fire safety system for airport, metro rail, refineries, petrochemicals, and commercial real estate, said MD VK Chhabra of UNFPS. The company has already advised GVK group for the Mumbai Airport project. Chhabra said that the implementation of the new fire safety system in the airport led to substantial reduction in the cost without compromising on the fire safety.

The new company will be involved in fire safety consulting, advance products selling, and turnkey project execution. It will also support customers’ challenge in minimizing the risk and damage so that they can improve their performances. Chhabra said that they will get the expertise of the Japanese partner in servicing their customers. Nohmi Bosai is the largest Japanese fire safety company and has an array of products in the sector.

Takeshi Hashizume, president, Nohmi Bosai said, "The JV would provide them an opportunity to enter into the growing Indian market. It will not only create an exciting business opportunities for Nohmi, but also increase the company’s capacity to penetrate new Industry."

The size of the fire safety business in the country is of around Rs 1,200 crore. But, it is growing at a speed of 40% per annum. At present fire safety industry is not well organized. Companies merely follow the fire regulation guidelines, which, Chhabra said, does not fit well with the complicated and advance building and production facilities. He said, there is a demand of the customized safety design. Unitech Machines has experience in providing complete turnkey solution in infrastructure for mega power plants.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to evaluate post graduate management courses

This post is in response to a question I keep hearing from fresh graduate students looking to pursue a MBA or other management courses: “How should I choose a program that is right for me?”.

Prospective students should consider some basic criteria when evaluating the prospectus of various management programs and institutions. Any Post Graduate (PG) Diploma in Management course or its equivalent MBA should provide the following :

1. Holistic overview of management concepts, particularly in the areas of time (task management), quality of output, work ethics in a group and increased Emotional Quotient (EQ) levels as a result of all of the above
2. Provide a framework to help understand the industry that they are likely to work for or specialise in
3. Stuctured alumni management program and the opportunity to be part of a peer group in the class that will form the foundation for alumni network.
4. Career counseling, resulting in job opportunities within industries of interest

Nihongo Bashi is offering one such highly specialized management course, the PG Diploma in Japanese Management in association with the reputed RV Group of Bangalore. Specifically tailored for the Japanese sector, this program includes critical Japanisation skills– a must for everyone in this sector-- in addition to a holistic management curriculum. Aspiring business leaders can get complete details of the PG Diploma program here

A career is not a sprint but a marathon. No amount of academic preparation will ever guarantee success. For a global market that is changing everyday a quick and efficient change in response is also required. However, the following metrics are still a fairly good yardstick for evaluation of any MBA course.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It ain't too bad being a joshi or a danshi

I must say that such articles are few and far between that I have come across sitting in Singapore. This one appeared in Japan Times on Aug 12th 2008. However when you read this, as a student of Japanese you will clearly understand the usage of Man and Woman. There are Hiragana, Romaji as well as their equivalent Kanjis that would be easy to understand even for a Level 4 student. Written in a very easy style, this explains the usage of synonyms in a cultural context, something most books do not teach!

Happy reading. Editor

For a long time I couldn't pronounce the word otoko (男, man) without slightly blushing; I didn't much like the word in English either, but in Japanese it sounded a little vulgar and what women of my grandmother's generation would call hashitanai (はしたない, crude and ill-mannered).

In my family it was an unspoken taboo for female members to say otoko, and in situations where we had to refer to men, we were expected to call them otokonohito (男の人, male person) or dansei (男性, male). This probably had a lot to do with the fact that in traditional Tokyo shitamachi (下町, downtown) dialect, any woman enunciating the word otoko was referring to a lover or boyfriend or someone she wasn't married to, but having sexual relations (gasp!).

Men, on the other hand, seemed to have less trouble saying onna (女, woman), though my father was always careful to refer to them as josei (女性, female) or fujin (婦人, lady). My brothers and male cousins had a simple solution; they called young women joshi (女子, schoolgirl) and any woman over the age of 25 became obasan (おばさん, middle-aged woman) and this simplified things for them considerably. Under their influence, I began to refer to young men as danshi (男子, schoolboy) well into the late 20s and was grateful how this reference freed me from discomfort and even called up nostalgic memories of grade school and junior high. Time passed, we all reached the ages of obasan and ojisan (おじさん, middle-aged man), but during family get togethers we would privately call each other joshi and danshi and recall the golden days of school and seishun (青春, blue spring, or youth).

In the past year or so however, joshi and danshi has become the new, cool way of referring to men and women and the good news is, it's now safe to do so until the late 40s. (Even former pop idol Kyoko Koizumi is calling herself chūnen joshi — 中年女子, middle-aged schoolgirl — and delighting her fans.) In this new scheme of gender language politics, there are certain rules and regulations.

First off, joshi is not to be confused with onnanoko (女の子, girl, or girlie), nor danshi with otokonoko (男の子, boy, or guy). Though it's possible for practiced men and women to switch back and forth between the two modes — these are completely different creatures and the river that separates joshi from onnanoko is especially wide and deep.

Joshi refers to the woman who reads books, is interested in the arts, knows how to use keigo (敬語, polite Japanese) and has perhaps, been a girl scout and can cook rice over an open fire. She's adventurous, spirited and athletic.

The danshi is pretty much the same — this is the boy who's honorable, strives to be the captain of the yakyūbu (野球部, school baseball team), who thinks there's something dasai (ださい, tacky) and disgraceful about hanging out with girls. He'd rather die than be caught shopping with his mother, but at home he's a good son, occasionally washing the dishes without being told 56 times. He's fascinated by bugs and dinosaurs and thinks of becoming a konchūgakusha (昆虫学社, entomologist) and at some point during his school years, went by the nickname of hakase (博士, professor). He will go for days, even weeks, without speaking to that lovely joshi sitting several desks ahead of his, because he's convinced that talking to her outright is "chō kakkowarui (超かっこわるい, ultra uncool)." And the Japanese male has an unshakable conviction that every danshi is his own hero. Ore, danshi dakara (俺、男子だから, I'm a danshi) has now become the self-explanatory line that excuses an unwillingness to commit to a relationship or a preferance for solitary weekend bike rides, leaving the wife and children to fend for themselves.

By now you've probably caught on that joshi and danshi are asexual beings, existing in an idyllic school environment where things like team spirit, physical and academic excellence are valued above all else. By referring to each other as joshi and danshi, the Japanese are in fact, freeing themselves up from the complications of love, stepping back from the frontlines of the relationship war, giving each other a break. It's not bad.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Harvard University Commencement Address / J.K. Rowling

This is one of the best graduation speeches that I have come across. J.K. Rowling needs to introduction but we now get a real life speech, sans fiction, which proves that she is best in the business! A must read for every grduating student. Editor.

President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates,

The first thing I would like to say is 'thank you.' Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I've experienced at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation ! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and fool myself into believing I am at the world's best-educated Harry Potter convention.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can't remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics, for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the 'gay wizard' joke, I've
still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first
step towards personal improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic succes, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.
Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.

They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents' car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure. At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that, because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates,and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment. However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person's idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure,
but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So
I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years
after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally
short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as
poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The
fears my parents had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come
to pass and, by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality. So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default. Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check- list of
acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International's headquarters in London. There, in my little office, I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye- witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind. I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man, whose life had been shattered by cruelty, took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live, I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that, in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country's regime, his mother had been seized and executed. Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read. And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before. Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand,
without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's
minds, imagine themselves into other people's places. Of course, this is a
power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might
use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand
or sympathise. And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all.
They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience,
never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than
they are.

They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close
their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally;
they can refuse to know. I might be tempted to envy people who can live that
way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do.
Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia,
and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more
monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters.
For, without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude
with it, through our own apathy. One of the many things I learned at the end
of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search
of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author
Plutarch : "What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality." That is an
astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our
lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside
world, the fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing. But how
much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people's
lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you
have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique
responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of
you belong to the world's only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the
way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders.
That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf
of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the
powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine
yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it
will not only be your proud families who will celebrate your existence, but
thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for
the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power
we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children's Godparents, the people to whom I've been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I've used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister. So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that, even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:

As is a tale, so is life - not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

I wish you all very good lives.

Thank you very much.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Job hopping impedes career, warns a study

It is now clear that professionals in the workforce need to pay more attention to the adverse effects of the "job hopping" phenomenon. In the survey below >73% respondents felt that staying longer in a job helps learning. Clearly a case of "rolling stone gathers no moss". A common sense advice to all "Look before you leap ....again and again". A timely article from Express India.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008 (Source: Express India)

New Delhi, July 30: Higher pay and better employment prospects may be utmost for a person switching companies, but job-hopping can severely hamper career growth as well as wealth creation in long-term, says a new survey.
The experts believe that sticking to the same company for more time, rather than aimlessly hopping jobs, can provide better learning and career momentum to young professionals.

Findings of a latest study by research and analytic firm Evalueserve reveal that the multiple career steps within the same company accelerate a professional's growth more than many horizontal moves across companies.

Hopping jobs every 24 months can severely damage the long-term career momentum and even wealth creation, it said.

Salary is higher at the time of switching to a new firm, but thereafter the person hardly gets any value addition, management institute IMI's director C S Venkat Ratnam said.

"A young professional should be choosy with his first job and see all angles before joining a firm so that he can stay put for at least two years at the same place, which would give him a sound base," he added.

"Job hopping is largely done in two circumstances, primarily for career progression and secondly for compensation. In the first instance, the candidate comes across as a responsible, forthright and result-oriented," a senior official at global HR services firm Manpower said.

"However, in the latter case, it comes across as professionally immature, myopic and highly selfish. This is considered as the biggest negative factor," he added.

According to Evalueserve study, fast job changes are mostly made for wrong reasons such as prioritising money over learning, succumbing to peer pressure or naively believing everything they are promised at the new position.

In the survey, 73 per cent of the respondents stated that spending more time with the same organisation provides better exposure to various functions within the company and therefore provides better overall learning and career momentum.

"A majority of these professionals get the 'two-year itch' and change jobs every 24 months, sometimes moving from high- growth companies to slow-growth captive back-office operations of large and medium-sized multi-national organisations," the study stated.

About 85 per cent of the business heads surveyed by Evalueserve consider loyalty in previous positions as one of the most important evaluation criteria for hiring and career advancement and 87 per cent of respondents feel that young professionals should not work in more than three companies during the first 10 years of their careers.

Experts believe the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) industries have been the major drivers to the trend of job hopping within a short span of time.

Elaborating the reasons that propel individuals to look for greener pastures in short intervals, IMI's Ratnam said that job hopping by young professionals might be due to tall promises made by the human resource departments of the firms, which do not fructify after the individuals joining or the profile does not commensurate with the individuals skills.

"To avoid the detrimental effects of job hopping, an organisation should encourage the senior executives or mentors to spend quality time with the young professionals, which would give them a perspective about their career growth," Ratnam said.

March of the pharma sector

It seems that lately there is a lot of movement in the Pharma sector with growing interest from Japanese companies. Takeda and Torrent seems like a good alliance. Here's the article from TOI today.

31 Jul 2008, 0049 hrs IST,

AHMEDABAD: Japan's largest and oldest pharma giant Takeda Pharmaceutical Company is keenly eyeing Ahmedabad-based Torrent Pharmaceuticals as a possible acquisition.

The inspiration may have come from Daiichi Sankyo's $4.6 billion acquisition of Ranbaxy Laboratories.

Sources close to the development said the $13.75 billion Takeda had evinced keen interest in acquiring the Mehta-promoted Torrent group's Rs 1,336-crore-turnover pharmaceutical business.

"Talks between Takeda and Torrent have reached the price negotiation stage. In fact, Takeda chairman Kunio Takeda had long meetings with the Mehtas in a Mumbai hotel last week," a source close to the deal said.

Torrent is looking for a valuation of close to Rs 400 per share. Incidentally, Torrent's negotiations with Sun Pharma, before Takeda came into the picture, are understood to have fallen through as Sun Pharma could offer up to Rs 300 per share, which was much below Torrent's expectations. Both Sun and Torrent had denied being in acquisition talks.

Takeda, which has a presence in 90 countries and manufacturing facilities in Japan, Italy, Ireland, China and Indonesia, was eyeing Torrent as it would give it ready access to the lucrative Indian market and provide a low-cost manufacturing base to cater to global markets.

Interestingly, what also perhaps makes Torrent a synergistic fit is that like Takeda, Torrent is also an R&D-focused pharma company having a strong presence in therapeutic segments like cardio-vascular, diabetes, gastro-intestinal and anti-hypertensive.

Torrent first shot into the global limelight when it made a bold bid to acquire Merck's global generic pharma business last year. Having failed in that bid, there is now realisation among the promoters that they need to raise capital for a massive expansion in the power sector.

Market buzz has it that the Mehta brothers — Sudhir and Samir — have already chalked out ambitious expansion plans of hitting a 10,000MW power generation capacity in three years from the existing 1600MW. Torrent Power is in electricity distribution in Ahmedabad and Surat, and has already established fuel linkages with the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd.

A Torrent spokesperson, however, denied the development saying: "There is no move on the part of the promoters of Torrent Pharma or its management to sell stake, in part or in whole, to any players, national or global."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Nomura in India drive

Mizuho, Mitsubishi UFJ, Daiwa SMBC and now Nomura. All point to growing interest in the brokerage revenues from India. Certainly spells an opportunity for finance professionals in India.In the past it used to be an opportunity only for bilingual Chartered Accountants and now investment banking professionals too. It seems India is set to follow the Japanese growth trajectory in the view of the spokesperson here. If that happens then Mumbai's name will be taken in the same breath as New York and London. Certainly an interesting thought. Here is the article that appeared in Financial Times. Editor

By Michiyo Nakamoto in Tokyo
Friday Jul 18 2008 13:05

Nomura said it aimed to increase staff in India from 17 to about 100 in two to three years.

The drive by Nomura to expand in India highlights the growing importance for Japanese brokers of revenues outside their ageing home market.

Daiwa Securities has signed a memorandum of understanding with Brazil's Banco Itau Financeira to co-operate in asset management, brokerage, investment banking and research.

In April, Daiwa SMBC, an investment banking joint venture, began operations as the first Japanese broker with a full line-up of services in India.

Daiwa Securities Financial Group owns 60 per cent of Daiwa SMBC, with the remainder owned by Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group.

Mitsubishi UFJ Securities set up a subsidiary in Mumbai in April. In the same month the Japanese group increased its stake in King Eng - a south-east Asian investment bank based in Singapore with operations in markets including Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia - to 14.63 per cent.

Mizuho Securities has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Tata Capital to jointly launch a private equity fund and offer wealth management services.

Apart from its foray into India, Nomura has set up a branch in Moscow and is aiming to set up a local subsidiary in Saudi Arabia by the end of the fiscal year in March.

This is Nomura's third attempt to establish itself in India.

Last year, Nomura failed in its attempt to take a stake in Enam, an Indian financial services group.

Before that, Nomura had a Delhi office and later a Mumbai office, both of which were closed after a few years.

The difference this time, Nomura said, is that the Indian market is expanding rapidly and deals have grown to a size comparable to those in Japan.

"It is like Japan was several years ago," in terms of the growth potential of the capital markets, according to Nomura.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Daiichi buys Ranbaxy

Daiichi Sankyo is the result of the merger of two leading century-old Japanese pharmaceutical companies. With its acquisition of Ranbaxy it will now command a strong market presence. Note how Takashi Shoda, CEO in his statment talks of autonomy in operations - emphasising the Japanese approach of 'harmony'. Such close co-operation will build further on the earlier such Indo-Japan transactions such as Lupin buying Kyowa’ and the Zydus Cadilla – Nippon Pharma deal. Pharma sector with its M&A is leading the way in Indo-Japan bilateral relationship, way ahead of the others. Here is the press release that appeared in Rediff. Editor

June 11, 2008 19:40 IST

Marking the largest ever deal in Indian pharma industry, Japanese drug firm Daiichi Sankyo on Wednesday announced the acquisition of a majority stake of more than 50 per cent in domestic major Ranbaxy for over Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 150 billion).

Under the deal structure that would create the 15th biggest drugmaker globally, the Japanese firm would acquire the entire 34.82 per cent stake in the Gurgaon-based firm from its current promoters Malvinder Singh and family.

Besides, Daiichi would also make an open offer for an additional 20 per cent stake in Ranbaxy at a price of Rs 737 per share which represents a premium of over 50 per cent on the average price over the last three months.

Post this offer, the deal would value Ranbaxy at about $8.5 billion (over Rs 36,000 crore). The purchase of shares from the promoters and through the open offer is expected to value the deal between $3.4 billiona and $4.6 billion, the two firms said in a joint statement.

Even as Malvinder Singh would continue as CEO and MD of the entity, which would retain its Ranbaxy brand, the family would net in about Rs 10,000 crore (~Rs 100 billion) by selling their stake.

Singh would also assume the position of chairman of the board upon the deal's closure that is expected by March 2009.

Besides the promoters' 34.8 per cent stake, Daiichi would also get about 9 per cent through issue of preferential allotment of shares and some warrants, which could be later converted into another 4.5 per cent holding. These, along with a minimum 8 per cent that the new promoters wish to acquire through the open offer, would take Daiichi's holding to above 50 per cent.

Post acquisition, Ranbaxy would become a debt-free firm with a cash surplus of around Rs 2,800 crore (Rs 28 billion).

The two firms said they plan to keep Ranbaxy a listed entity in India.

The combined market capitalisation of both companies would be around 30 billion dollars making it the world's 15th largest pharmaceutical company.

A binding share purchase and share subscription agreement was entered into by Daiichi Sankyo, Ranbaxy and the Singh family, Ranbaxy said.

"As the company moves into a next level of growth it would benefit the organisation, its shareholders and the employees," Ranbaxy CEO and Managing Director Malvinder Mohan Singh told reporters, while adding, "Now it is a clear opportunity ahead of us to leverage from each others' strengths."

The proposed open offer price of Rs 737 represents a premium of 53.5 per cent to Ranbaxy's average daily closing price on the NSE for the three months ending June 10, 2008.

Besides, the offer price is 31.4 per cent higher than Tuesday's closing price, Ranbaxy said.

"Malvinder Singh will continue to lead the company as its CEO and managing director, while additionally assuming the position of chairman of the board," Daiichi Sankyo president and CEO Takashi Shoda said.

The Japanese firm said there would be 10 members in the board and Ranbaxy would appoint four members, including Malvinder Singh, while the rest of the members would be from Daiichi Sankyo.

"Daiichi Sankyo has operations in 21 countries and by entering into agreement with Ranbaxy, we will have presence in now 60 countries globally," Shoda said.

Commenting on the deal, Singh said it puts Ranbaxy on a new and much stronger platform to harness its capabilities in drug development, manufacturing and global reach.

"With this, we will see significant growth in our business in Japan as the generic drugs market in the country is also opening up," he said.

Explaining the deal Singh said, post closing Ranbaxy would continued to remain an independent identity and all the strategic tie-ups of the company including the deals with Zenotech, Orchid and Merck would remain unaffected.

The hived-off research and developed division of the firm would also continued to be remained the part of the company.

"Together with our pool of scientific, technical and managerial resources and talent, we would enter a new orbit to chart a higher trajectory of sustainable growth in the medium and long term in the developed and emerging markets organically and inorganically," he said.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Koito Manufacturing shines light on India

It seems that Japanese anciallary suppliers are partnering with Tata thereby confirming a trend to focus on the Indian market. Given the current trends many more such partnerships are likely to come up. Editor

NEW DELHI: Koito Manufacturing Co, the maker of headlamps for Lexus-brand cars, is designing lights specifically for ultra-low cost cars as it tries to win more business from India's Tata Motors and Nissan Motor Co.

"Koito the world's biggest maker of headlamps, is in the final stages of creating a simpler light that uses half as many parts as its more expensive models," said President Masahiro Ohtake in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Koito and other auto parts makers are reengineering products to supply cars that will cost almost half as much as Suzuki Motor Corp.'s Maruti 800, the cheapest car currently on the Indian market.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Toshiba's JV in India

It was reported in Business Standard on April 16, 2008 that Toshiba is setting up a JV for turbines in India. This will add more product offerings from the diversified conglomerate in addition to its digital products. Yet another sign of confidence from Japanese firms. Editor

L&T reportedly in partnership talks with Japanese biggie.

The $63 billion Toshiba Corporation, one of the largest power equipment manufacturers in the world, today confirmed that it would set up a joint venture in India to manufacture turbines for large power plants. Further, the JV will explore bidding for the upcoming mega power projects.

We are in talks with more than one Indian company to form a joint venture to manufacture turbines and to bid for upcoming major power projects, said Yuzo Kato, managing director of Toshiba India.

Reportedly, the engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) is in advanced stages of discussion with Toshiba for the joint venture.

"It is too early to announce about the partner. The Indian power sector is booming and we foresee major opportunity for us in future," he added on the sidelines of a press meet in Mumbai to launch new generation notebook personal computers, LCDs, TVs, fridge and washing machines.

Toshiba is targetting revenues of over Rs 4,000 crore by 2015, of which a major part will come from the power and industrial sector.

The country plans to add over 78,000 mw capacity in the next five years and over 80,000 mw in the 12th plan. Many Indian and international companies are seeking to take advantage of the big power sector opportunity.

Further, many of these manufacturers will have to set up base here as the government is likely to make domestic manufacturing mandatory for power plant suppliers.

L&T has already floated a joint venture with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for super-critical boiler plants. The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) is also foraying into manufacturing power equipments, according to Anil Ambani, its chairman.

Public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) is the only leading domestic manufacturer of boilers, turbines and generators. It is in the process of increasing its capacity to 20,000 mw by 2012.

Toshiba is planning to set up a facility either in Tamil Nadu or Gujarat to manufacture supercritical steam turbines of upto 1,000 mw capacity, sources said.

A Toshiba official said the investment required for the turbine manufacturing joint venture could be around $200 million.

Toshiba had got an order worth $350 million to supply five 800 mw steam turbine generators for Tata Power's Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) coming up in Gujarat.

Toshiba also supplied 3X173 mw power generation equipments for the Teesta V hydroelectric power project in Sikkim. The company also has another major order at hand, Kato said.

Commenting on Toshiba's plans for digital products, Kato said the company's primary objective was to beef up brand awareness in India, which is comparatively lower than other countries and increase market share. It has appointed actress Vidya Balan as brand ambassador.

The company is targeting more than 10 per cent market share in home appliances and LCDs and more than 15 per cent of the notebook PC market in next three years.

It plans to launch Toshiba Innovation Plazas as a part of its retail expansion plans. Currently, the company operates 30 Toshiba shops which sells notebook PCs in India. Some of the Toshiba shops would be converted into Toshiba Innovation Plazas in near future, he said

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Nihongo Bashi completes 5 yrs in India - Thank you !

I am extremely humbled and pleased to announce that Nihongo Bashi has completed its 5th year of successful operations in India. The support we have received from parents and students has been truly overwhelming. The new financial year is once again upon us and it is time to regroup and reflect at the memories of the academic year 2007-08.

At Nihongo Bashi we look at the year past with a lot of good memories including

1. Support for AJP program from Cognizant Technology Solutions thereby becoming the 5th major IT company in the Top 7 IT companies to be the user of AJP
2. Opening of two new locations viz. Kolkata and Pune with leading local Engineering Schools
3. Student enrollments crossing the 1,000 mark for the first time
4. Successful completion of the first batch of PG Diploma in Japanese Management
5. Launch of the JobSkills© finishing school(

With hope and optimism we look forward to Academic year 2008-09 anticipating a growth of 75% to 100%.

Once again I would like to thank all the students and their parents for the confidence reposed and look forward to continuing successes as we focus on grooming the future leaders for the Indo-Japan sector.

April 9, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

As US demand softens, Indian firms eye Japan seems that Japan is getting the attention it
deserves in the mindshare of Indian IT Companies. Lot of data points in this article from Wall Street Journal. Happy reading. Editor
New Delhi: With a likely softening of demand for their services from buyers in a slowing US economy, Indian tech services vendors such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Wipro Ltd, Satyam Computer Services Ltd and HCL Technologies Ltd are increasing their focus on a market that has until now not believed too much in outsourcing: Japan, the world’s second largest economy.

Traditionally, Japanese corporations have outsourced tech and support units or have relied on services to their information technology or IT relationships built over years with local vendors.

There has been “a lack of competitive element which has not pushed them to think differently,” said Sanjeev Nikore, corporate vice-president and global head of sales and marketing at HCL Technologies. With increasing global competition, “that is changing”, he added.

The Tokyo headquarters of New trend: Shinsei Bank Ltd. The bank, formerly Long Term Credit Bank, has transformed itself into a profitable bank using modern-day banking processes and technologies. (Kaku Kirita / Bloomberg)

According to estimates by India’s largest tech services firm TCS, or Tata Consultancy Services by 2010, spending in Japan will touch $95 billion, or Rs3.82 trillion at today’s IT currency rates, growing at an annual rate of 3.2% from 2005. Currently, work worth around $32 billion is outsourced, a number expected to grow by a quarter to $40 billion by 2010. Around 4%, equivalent to $1.28 billion, of the outsourced work is sent to offshore locations—a market segment that a spokesperson, quoting research compiled internally, said is expected at $5 TCS billion by 2010.

Though it takes time,said Yukihara Yorifuji, IT services group manager at researcher International Data Corp., Japan, some Japanese customers “may delegate even custom development”. Local businesses, Yorifuji said, through a spokesperson, could ship work directly to offshore firms bypassing local vendors.

The top five tech service vendors in Japan are Fujitsu Ltd, NEC Corp., Hitachi Ltd, a local unit of International Business (IBM) Corp., and NTT Data Corp. IBM Japan, set up in 1937, is the only non-Japanese firm with a strong presence.

TCS, which set up its subsidiary in Japan in 2002, today has some 1,800 workers servicing Japanese businesses, including more than 300 based in that country. An offshore delivery centre in Kolkata drives all Japan specific initiatives for the firm. TCS’ revenues from Japan amount to around $100 million (revenues for the company in fiscal 2007 was $4.3 billion), but expectations are high. “We expect this to grow rapidly,” said a company spokesperson adding the focus will remain on embedded systems.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Japanese way of thinking

Reading this article will tell you a lot about the Japanese mind and the way they approach or would like to approach a business discussion overseas. Look at the extent of preparation that is advocated by the author!. Emphasis is also laid on "human relations" underscoring the Japanese approach that we all know. This article appeared in JETRO newsletter Vol.47 Jan. & Feb. 2008 TTPP NEWS For International Business Matching and is authored by Ms.Yoko Kawaguchi, President, Y's Worth Corp. Editor

The other day, I took part as a lecturer in seminars in Vietnam for local exporters on how to enter the Japanese market. I also attended business meetings for a buying mission from Japan organized by the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan. I would like to summarize my thoughts, based on those experiences, on how to make effective use of such buying missions and business meetings.

1. Consider in advance the sales channels, prices, and volumes of the products purchased

Beginning buyers in particular tend to end up spending all of their energy on finding and importing the products. They leave questions like how to sell the products at home and how to make a profit from them for later and therefore fail in many cases.

To order to determine if your firm can handle certain products, you have to
think of who you are going to sell the imported products to. And in which way?
Then you have to think at first about profit structure (purchasing prices,
sales prices and volume, and resulting profits). A business which studies and plans for this in advance can make full use of the free time at the country visited to tour factories, uncover more new products, and return successfully.

2. Prepare materials introducing your business in advance to facilitate mutual understanding

When the potential business partner is from a developing country or a small
business, some people take a condescending attitude to them. Do not forget that you can only do business if they supply their products to you. Further, it is not enough to just obtain information on the counterpart. It is important to introduce your own business by preparing corporate brochures in English, photographs and samples so as to accurately describe your business to the future business partner as well.

Without mutual understanding, good human relations cannot be built and good business will not result. A Vietnamese businessman I met the other day started as a craftsman in a small farm town but in a few years time grew to a manager of a business with annual sales of US$10 million. Anyone can succeed in that way, so it is important to be humble when talking with others.

3. Examine not only the products, but also the reliability and flexibility of the manager

I often see Japanese buyers who just look at the products offered by exporters and instantly repeat words such as "Yes, I will buy" or "No, I will not buy". In other cases they say only "Yes, the products would sell in Japan" or "No". How about asking the exporters questions like "Can you make this type of product?" or "Can you change the product in this way?"

This should be the natural consequence if observing the rule of the first point above.When I talk business, I always look at not only the product, but also whether the manager can be relied on and whether he is flexible enough to work positively with me by nature. This helps to avoid risks. Try it by all means.

4. Develop an "eye" for new products on a regular basis

Developing an "eye" for new products is a something that has to be worked on daily. Do not say it is too much trouble or that you will not find anything even if going somewhere. It is important to take every opportunity to go out and carefully examine new products in order to develop an eye for them.

Right before I left for Vietnam this time, I had a meeting in the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan and saw a product which I thought I could sell well in Japan. In Vietnam, I coincidentally found the manufacturer on one of my tours. I learned that he had received a US$5 million order from a large mass merchandiser chain in Europe and that the product was selling well in a branch of that chain in Japan.

The manufacturer told me that when he previously exhibited the products at an international trade fair in Japan, he failed to receive any inquiries from Japanese businesses. This is probably because in general the booths of developing countries lack refinement in display skills and the manufacturers have little information about the Japanese market, so fail to showcase the products suitable for the Japanese market.

5. Use "buying missions" and "business meetings" of official organizations and commerce and industry associations

Joining a "buying mission" organized by a public organization, foreign embassy in Japan and commerce and industry association offers you many merits over going on your own. Since these are package tours, the travel costs are lower and you do not have to arrange for flights or hotels. Reputable local firms are introduced. You can get support from the mission attendants. Highly skilled interpreters are arranged. All of this is convenient for private entrepreneurs and small businesses. The content of the mission will differ with each mission, but the other participants will all be professionals so even if the industry or the products handled differ, there will be much to learn from them.

Even if not traveling overseas, Japan hosts many international trade fairs and business meetings inviting exporters from overseas. Interestingly, you can sometimes learn from exporters about trends in Japanese industry which you cannot see while in Japan. Let's make positive use of buying missions and business meetings as places to meet new companies, find new products, and pick up new information!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Opportunities in Japan - A Chat relay

Karthik Tirupathi, Founder President of Nihongo Bashi hosted a live chat on rediff on Februrary 4th 2008. Provided below is the transcript that answers a gamut of questions across a wide spectrum. Editor

Karthik Tirupathi says, Good Afternoon (Konnichiwa in Japanese). Welcome all and look forward to an interesting afternoon's discussion. Karthik

vvnaidu asked, Hi I would like to know how is the job market for SAP SD or SAP Business one professionals? How do we go about applying for job ?Is it mandatory to know Japanese?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, As you know the SAP market is red hot in this part of the world. SD or Business one professionals are also in good demand however since most positions in functional consulting require client interaction, it becomes imperative that you know Japanese. A JLPT Level 2 proficiency is the most common requirement. Applying for jobs is fairly easy and most popular job portals have notices for such positions. Leading companies like HCL [Get Quote], Satyam [Get Quote], TCS [Get Quote] all need many functional consultants


siraj asked, I want to know if there is Indian food and schools are available in Japan.

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Just in Tokyo alone, there are over 150 Indian restaurants not to mention the fact that a popular dish is Curry rice (or Karey rice). However it does use pork or other meat stock for preparations and hence may not be suitable for vegetarians. Be also warned that most of tehse are fine dining restaurants and hence it tends to be an expensive affair. There is one Indian school currently in Tokyo.


shilpa asked, hi howz it for it professionals and students

Karthik Tirupathi answers, I suppose you mean living in Tokyo. It is fairly easy to get by these days than it was a few years ago. This is due to increasingly wider usage of English and bilingual signages in most places. Travel across Japan is a breeze as always due to a world class subway and bullet train system in addition to traditional airlines
ram asked, Hazeme mashithe, watashiva ram desu. i speak little Japanese. I worked there for about 2 years. Is there any correspondence course in Japanese?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, To the best of my knowledge, presently there are no correspondence courses in India. Language and cultural content require a very high degree of personal contact. Also, it has not proven to be successful in many parts of the world. This may be the main reason too
jackychang asked, after akio morita, Japan seems to have lost it's charisma. What do u think is japans future? Will it get saturated like US?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, It is unlikely that the 2nd largest economy in the world will come to a grinding halt. It has tremendous momentum and outsourcing to India is just begining. The future promises to be full of excitement across all sectors
mudassir asked, How are the opportunities for Java professionals?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Java is quite popular and in demand. Leading IT companies like TCS, HCL,Satyam are constantly looking for specialists in this sector. Embedded technology, ERP, Mainframe are other highly sought after skills. However bilingual expertise is a must here
kurukan asked, Have u ever seen Japan?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, I visit Japan many times in a year and have numerous friends and professional acquaintances.

sunil asked, Hello Karthik, I Business Manager with 7 years of work experience in the IT industry. I was wondering if you could share some information on the IT industry and opportunities for marketing manager like me.

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Today the merging Indo-Japan sector calls for business leaders which we lack. This is a major stumbling block in outsourcing to India. Sales, pre-sales, Business Development and Marketing professionals are MOST highly sought due to their "rainmaking" capability. As always people with superior communication skills are needed in all customer interactions
Aniruddha asked, Hi Good Afternoon.. I am a Human Resources Generalist with a Master's Degree from Mumbai University with about 25 years hands on experience. I am a New Zealand [Images] citizen,currently working with a Japanese company in Mumbai as General manager -- HR. Do I have any opportunities o work in japan based on my background? Thanks & Regards

Karthik Tirupathi answers, I think your skills would be extremely valuable in large organisations that are looking for bi-cultural managers who can effectively handle native and non-native Japanese. However in a sensitive position like this a very high degree of bilingualism is a highly desired
Cox asked, what about the IT salaries in Japan?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Salaries in Japan are comparable to salaries in US. Saving potential is also equally high. However like the US Japan does not have a quota for H1B visas!! It is a India friendly visa regime
itsan asked, what are the chances of small/medium IT companies making a foray in offering offshore services to japanese IT companies in the Small/Medium segment?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, It is a highly relationship oriented market where trust reigns supreme. If the client knows and trusts you at a personal level, limitations due to size can be easily overcome. This is in stark contrast to the US market where SLA's are used to enforce compliance and realtionships are not necessarily the first step needed to start a business transaction. You will find that Japanese seek quality over size and quatity. The first order is usually a small one and slowly progresses in both volume and consequently margins
Anup asked, HI Karthik, I am Dr Anup Karnik wokig in pharma and CResearch since 7 years, Any opportunities in Pharma, Clinical Research in Japan?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Bio tech and pharma sector is seeing a lot of M&A activities. Leading Indian companies have made mid sized acquisitions lately. It is a heartening trend to see Japanese comapnies exploring such partnerships.
Toshi asked, Sir, What are your thoughts on the long Japanese working hours? Sometimes they sit even if there is no work. Do you think Japanese meticulousness appears stupid to Indian brain?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, It is a matter of courtesy to your superiors to stay back until he/she finishes. It is more cultural and a very Asian trait in many ways. Their meticulousness is highly prized world over and is definitely not stupid. In the long run better quality (due to meticulousness) will be prove to be more cost effective as the Japanese experience has shown.
shefali asked, what major differences in work culture will an Indian manager experience in Japan

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Mainly it will be cultural difference at the work place. The work ethics of Japanese and Indians are quite good (hard working, diligent and so on). In the past few years, due to Americanisation of Indian work culture, we have become very direct and individualistic in our approach. Japanese place more emphasis on team culture and less on individual "visibility". Also punctuality and adherence to timelines is a major problems that Indians face in their cultural adjustment in this environment
VINIT asked, how the opportunities for ACCOUNTANTS in japan after passing graduate in india

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Recently we trained Indian Chartered Accountants for IT/SOX projects for a Big 3 audit firm who then went to work onsite in Tokyo. There is an estimated demand of about 15000 to 20000 CA's required due in JSOX compliance projects.
Bhaskar asked, Can you suggest me the best way of learning the Japanese Language?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, In my experience, any foreign language usually requires about 500 to 600 hours of study including Japanese. Any shortcut would usually result in reduced proficiency.
phil asked, hi, how do we apply for a job in japan and are there any education requirement like in US

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Yes, to get a visa you must have done 12+4 years of education and a degree is usually required.
DG asked, Hi Karthik! Any investment banking operation opportunities? Especially if I want a lateral shift in project financing and infrastructure advisory services? Shall expect to hear from you. Thank you!

Karthik Tirupathi answers, There is a great demand for investment banking professionals in this part of the world including Singapore, HK and other leading financial centres. Tokyo being the largest has also therefore the greatest demand. We also see a rise in NRI relationship and India related advisory services requirement. Best of all, I have not seen a mandatory requirement to speak Japanese in this sector. I actually have known a banker who lived in Japan for 3 years without learning much Japanese. This may not have yet become a rule but it does indicate a possibility.
Aravind asked, Will there be any language problems we face there. Wat abt cost of living. Is it too costly like London [Images]. wat abt life style. Are there any gud pubs n discos

Karthik Tirupathi answers, It may amaze people to know that the Japanese language has the same subject-object-verb ordering like Indian languages. This poses a problem for for people "thinking" in English but I believe most Indians would find it easier than other nationalities to learn Japanese as a result. Cost of living mirrors that of any comparable city in US or Europe. Night life and entertainment options are the hallmark of Tokyo as also other large cities :)
dilshan asked, How about a chance for a CA there & what salary should 1 expect

Karthik Tirupathi answers, In my personal experience a CA with 3 to 5 years experience can expect to earn JPY 7 to 9 Million in JSOX projects.
BABU asked, Is there any Limit for the number of professionals recruited in a year like the one for H1B in Japan..? Also what is the minimum requirement for getting a job in Japan? Is there any migration program available for Japan like HSMP for UK?

Karthik Tirupathi answers, NO. Japan does not have an official annual quota and practices a visa friendly regime towards Indian professionals. In addition to being a specialist in your field, it would help if you possess 12 + 4 years of formal education.
Maggi asked, My daughter is 9 Yrs. old, which language do you suggest for her to learn right from this age, is Japanese language can be learnt easily or any other which you like to suggest

Karthik Tirupathi answers, At this age, kids can pretty much learn many languages simultaneously. Japanese being closer to structure of Indian languages would be an easier choice. Also, opportunities in this sector are just starting to explode and hence it would be a "sunrise" choice!

Karthik Tirupathi answers, For a single person typically reasonable rental would be about USD 750 - 1,000 per month and living expense another USD 1,000 to USD 1,500. Hence any additional income could potentially be saved.
Harpreet kaur asked, Hi, I have done a degree course in Japanese language and have been working as Japanese Interpreter and translater in automobile companies since last 12years. Any scope to work in Japan with this qualifications & experience? Kindly let me know. Please do reply this also. ONEGAI DESU.

Karthik Tirupathi answers, Kaur san, With this experience you should be easily able to work in Japan! Bridge SE positions or customer facing project coordinator positions would easily be possible. I am assuming you are Level 2 proficient currently.
shilpagoody asked, hello karthik .. i am a graduate along with lots of diplomas in field of finance. I have experience of 4 years in this field.. I am getting married and as my husband is in tokyo ill be shifting there . So what to now about the job market over there in finance field and want a job

Karthik Tirupathi answers, I am sure you would have access to many openings in your field with such qualifications and experience. Try the field of internal audit and risk assessment with Big 3 firms if it interests you. They would be keen to talk to you. Whilst you are there, please sign up to learn Japanese as you will learn it very quickly being in the "environment" there. Good luck


Karthik Tirupathi says, Thank you for your active participation. I would like to wish you all the best in your careers' ahead and exploring opportunities in Japan

Monday, January 28, 2008

TVS Motors - A disciple of Japanese quality management

This interesting article appeared in Financial Time and records a remarkable turn around by TVS group after implementing TQM. It just goes to prove that superior quality reduces cost in the long term. A true life account of TVS's quest for excellence in the words of its head honcho! Editor


By Amy Yee

Order and efficiency are hallmarks of the TVS motorbike factory near Bangalore in southern India. To direct foot traffic, arrows are painted on the shiny shop floor of India's third-largest motorcycle maker. Large banners with exhortations such as "Let Us Achieve Zero Defects" and "Quality is a Way of Life" hang across the bright facility where nearly 2,000 vehicles are built each day on neat assembly lines. Tea breaks are 9:15 to 9:22 and 14:15 to 14:22, according to a memo on the wall.

Japan's veneration for order has been fully transplanted to this TVS factory in the city of Hosur.

Venu Srinivasan, the mild-mannered 55-year-old managing director and chairman of TVS, has indoctrinated the company with the Japanese management strategy of total quality management (TQM). TVS's turnaround has hinged on principles of attention to process, consistency, transparency and employee involvement.

TQM was launched at TVS in 1989 and is credited with reviving the ailing company. Since then, TVS and sister companies in the $2.2bn TVS Group have won the prestigious Japan Quality Medal and the Deming Prize, a quality award from Japan.

TVS rolled out 923,000 motorbikes last fiscal year in India with sales growing 19 per cent to reach about $900m. It recently opened a factory in Indonesia and aims to globalise its business over the next few years.

The scenario before and after TQM reflects how far TVS has come in nearly two decades. Productivity, quality and sales have improved dramatically. Previously, the rate of "re-work" - parts plagued by faults - was 15 per cent. That figure has fallen to 100 parts per million. The factory used to make four deliveries a month to customers compared with two daily now.

It was no easy task to overhaul the family-owned company that was founded in 1911 by Mr Srinivasan's grandfather, TV Sundaram Iyengar. For three decades after 1960, India closed its markets to global competition. Imports were restricted and licences were required to start businesses, creating little incentive to improve or strive for quality.

After earning a degree in engineering from Madras University in today's Chennai, Mr Srinivasan went to the US for graduate studies, like many scions of India's business families. In 1979 he earned a master's in science and management at Purdue University in Indiana - the degree became known as an MBA in 2001 - where he received a "strong dose" of industrial engineering.

He visited factories of US automakers such as General Motors (NYSE:GM) but was unimpressed. "US factories did not have that exactness," he recalls.

A trip to Japan in 1981 and visits to the Suzuki and Honda (NYSE:HMC) factories proved pivotal. "Even the bullet train aligned exactly on the platform. People were highly motivated and committed." He was inspired by "a country that could create this kind of excellence" and sought to restore the high quality for which TVS was known in the 1940s when it ran a highly-efficient bus network and General Motors dealership.

Mr Srinivasan began reading books about TQM and "desperately tried to get hold of Japanese professors, but India was not on the radar" in the early 1980s.

The mission to restructure TVS grew more urgent in the 1980s when, profits slipped although sales grew. "That triggered the need for change. I knew that if we continued like that we wouldn't be in business."

Mr Srinivasan introduced TQM to the company in 1989 and implemented and improved it over the next nine years. Experts from Japan still visit the company.

TVS's adaptation of TQM rests on five pillars. They include policy deployment; involving every person at the company; kaizen, or continuous improvement; standardisation of processes; and new product development.

Seated at a long boardroom table at the TVS office, Mr Srinivasan takes a pen and draws a series of boxes to illustrate the "silos" that hobbled the company before. There were six layers of management. With little co-operation or communication between divisions, "most meetings were full of fault-finding and finger pointing".

Under the new regime, silos were broken down. For instance, different teams collaborated on design of new motorcycles so staff from R&D worked jointly with production and assembly.

As a result, innovation has been boosted. TVS rolled out its first 20 models in 21 years but it has produced 10 new products in the past three years alone. This year TVS expects to roll out six new models.

On the factory floor, inefficiencies were identified and weeded out. TVS used to keep 10 weeks of inventory at its factory compared with two weeks now. The assembly line suffered frequent delays. "We couldn't predict what we could supply to customers," says Mr Srinivasan. "It used to be a real mess."

Mr Srinivasan recalls that previously the factory floor was haphazardly organised. "One man operated one machine with another man doing inspections. Relative to today it would be dirty." Today employees are trained to operate different machines, allowing for a leaner workforce.

In traditionally hierarchical India, Mr Srinivasan shocked employees by picking up cigarette butts from the factory floor in keeping with one of the pillars of involving every employee.

He started tracking all the company's statistics and breaking them down, line by line. Figures were conveyed to employees through charts displayed in the factory.

"Everybody could see the actual graph. Before, people would fudge," says Mr Srinivasan. "But every hour productivity is displayed. We created a feedback loop."

Changing an entrenched mindset was a difficult task. "It requires a high degree of understanding between employees and management," says C. Narasimhan, formerly president of Sundaram-Clayton, the auto components firm and sister company of TVS.

But employees were encouraged to offer suggestions for improvement. "Some employees give 200 suggestions a year," says Mr Narasimhan. "Awards are given for the best suggestion."

Roles of each employee are now clarified and targets clearly assigned. Results are displayed for everyone to see in order "to hold the gains". Changing his own role at TVS was also a challenge for Mr Srinivasan, whose position as family trustee shifted as the company's president became more empowered. "For me to move back and change my role took a lot of change myself," admits Mr Srinivasan. "You've got to look at yourself in the mirror honestly. But you have to make the change to get other people to make the changes you expect of them."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Citibank India to establish Japan Desk

Citibank has now increased its focus for Japanese corporate clients in India. Looks like Japanese corporate banking business is finally viable enough in India for leading banks to set up a Japanese desk! Editor


New Delhi, Jan 10: Global banking major Citibank India will set up a Japan Desk in New Delhi to offer banking and associated services to Japanese corporate clients in India.

The desk will offer services like cash management, trade financing, foreign exchange, lending among others, a release issued here today said.

Over the past few years, Japanese investment in Indian infrastructure, inflows touched USD 4 billion and India was high on Japan's priority, India Japan Initiative's Chairperson Geetanjali Kirloskar said.

"While other countries looked at India as a market, the Japanese have looked at India as a partner," she said.

With the setting-up of the new desk, Citi will be able to play a key role in supporting new Japanese companies that are entering into India as well as supporting existing Japanese subsidiaries in India in their expansion plans.

Japan Desk will be staffed with Japanese professionals, allowing a Japanese client interface, the release said.

Presently, Japan is the third largest FDI investor in the country and around 400 Japanese companies operate in India, including joint ventures with Indian partners.

Bureau Report


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Daiichi Sankyo sets up manufacturing & research unit

Economic Times recently reported that Daiichi Sankyo had set up a FULL FLEDGED manufacturing unit in India. This marks the first such large scale initiative in manufacturing in recent times, a welcome news from non-services sector player. Editor
5 Jan, 2008, 0103 hrs IST,Khomba Singh, TNN

NEW DELHI: The $8-billion Daiichi Sankyo Company, Japan’s second-largest pharma company, is in the process of setting up a full-fledged manufacturing and research operation in the country.

Although there are some Japanese pharma companies who have operations in India, their presence is largely limited to marketing of products independently or through local partners.

According to sources, Daiichi Sankyo will operate through a wholly owned subsidiary, Daiichi Sankyo India Pharma. The company plans to initially outsource its manufacturing to local manufactures but later on, it will set up its unit. The company would initially invest Rs 25 crore in its newly-formed subsidiary.

In addition, the Japanese parent also plans to supply and market its patented products in the Rs 30,000 crore pharma retail market in the country. Daiichi Sankyo has a strong focus on research and drug discovery and it plans to set up a research unit in India in future.

However, it would not get into pharma retailing as Indian regulations don’t allow foreign companies to directly sell to consumers. Faced with margin pressure, many American and European companies have either set up or expanded operations in India to tap the low-cost and local talent for drug manufacturing and drug discovery. However, Daiichi Sankyo would be the first major Japanese company to set up large scale operations in the country.

Sankyo, which merged with Daiichi in 2005, has a small joint venture in India. Its 39.9% holding in Unisankyo Company was brought under the merged entity. The remaining 60.1% stake in this venture is held by a group of local promoters led by Jay Soman. The JV manufactures and markets bulk drugs, pro-biotics and few pharmaceutical products.

It is learnt that through the new wholly-owned subsidiary, Daiichi Sankyo will primarily get into pharma products and formulations in cardiology and diabetology — areas where the existing JV Unisankyo is not present.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Japanese want Indian style schooling

Is this a one-off instance being published or a sign of things to come? In any case, this is an outcome of growing understanding about India in Japan mainly due to the efforts on both sides during India-Japan friendship year in 2007. We hope many more such positives will contribute to a strengthening bilateral relationship. Editor

Thursday January 3 2008

MITAKA (Japan): Japan is suffering a crisis of confidence these days about its ability to compete with emerging Asian rivals China and India. But even in this fad-obsessed nation, one result was never expected: a growing craze for Indian education.

Despite an improved economy, many Japanese have a sense of insecurity about the nation's schools, which once turned out students who consistently ranked at the top of international tests.

That is no longer true, which is why many people here are looking for lessons from India, the country the Japanese see as the world's ascendant education superpower. Bookstores are filled with titles like "Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills"and "The Unknown Secrets of the Indians"

Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorising multiplication tables far beyond nine times nine, the standard for young elementary students in Japan. And Japan's few Indian international schools are reporting a surge in applications from Japanese families.

Viewing another Asian country as a model in education, or in almost anything, would have been unheard of just a few years ago, say education experts and historians. Much of Japan has long looked down on the rest of Asia, priding itself on being the region's most advanced nation. But in the last few years, Japan has grown increasingly insecure, gripped by fear that it is being overshadowed by India and China, which are rapidly gaining in economic weight and sophistication. Grudgingly, Japan is starting to respect its neighbours.

Until now, Japanese saw China and India as backward and poor,?said Yoshinori Murai, a professor of Asian cultures at Sophia University in Tokyo. As Japan loses confidence in itself, its attitudes toward Asia are changing. It has started seeing India and China as nations with something to offer.While China has stirred more concern here as a political and economic challenger, India has emerged as the country to beat in a more benign rivalry over education. India's success in software development, Internet businesses and knowledge intensive industries in which Japan has failed to make inroads has set off more than a tinge of envy.

Most annoying for many Japanese is that the aspects of Indian education they now praise are similar to those that once made Japan famous for its work ethic and discipline: learning more at an earlier age, an emphasis on memorisation and cramming, and a focus on the basics, particularly in math and science.

The founder of the Little Angels school, Jeevarani Angelina a former oil company executive from Chennai, India, who accompanied her husband, Saraph Chandar Rao Sanku, to Japan in 1990 said she initially had difficulty persuading landlords to rent space to an Indian woman to start a school. But now, the fact that she and three of her four full-time teachers are non-Japanese Asians is a selling point.

Copyright: New York Times