A good year despite the times

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FY2021-22 was an eventful one with a flurry of activities and conventions organised by us. A good number of people attended these events in person, and these events were graced by a galaxy of reputed speakers. Organizing these events wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our members. A recently organised event still lingers in our memory. It was about the war in Ukraine.

The Ukraine war is spilling over and is seriously impacting poor countries. It has spurred the biggest price shock in decades and choked the imports of basic commodities in many countries. Some 50 or more poor nations import 30% or more of their wheat supply from Russia and Ukraine. The two countries together provide a third of global cereal exports.

The Ukraine war: We should hedge our risks
The west is up against not only Russia but also other adversaries. We are all uncertain how this war will take shape in the coming days. We should hedge our risks. India’s abstentions at the UN on the Ukraine issue are not based on nostalgia but on facts and reality of protecting its own national interest. As far as the US is concerned, it needs India in Indo-Pacific to counter the rise of China; US’ strategic interests lie more in Indo-Pacific than in Europe. In the emerging geopolitical world order, irrespective of the outcome of the Ukraine war, it is important to have a multi-aligned foreign policy. As we found after 1991, the Western model is a good assurer of prosperity, but we live in Asia and the dictates of security means we must hedge our best. Let’s stay non-aligned!

With the stock prices of new age start-ups significantly lower, is it a good time for invest? New age stocks have been badly beaten down.

In this context, MMA with the support of KAS organised a national conclave on the theme “Ukraine Crisis: Is Global Focus Moving Back to Europe? on 22 March 2022. A galaxy of eminent speakers including Mr Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary, shared their thought-provoking insights. I am delighted to present an article on the event with embedded videos.

Indian economy, oil & inflation
Emerging data offers some comfort on the health of our economy. The numbers suggest there was only a limited damage due to the third Covid wave. Exports have bounced back smartly. We must ensure that tariff barriers do not get in the way of greater global trade integration. However, the threat of inflation is also always at hand. Crude oil prices have gone past $110 per barrel; a tough policy decision is expected soon. With too many economic variables up in the air, there is a nagging sense of uncertainty. To contain inflation and stagflation, it is imperative that the Government—for the time being at least—absorbs higher oil subsidies and passes on the oil price increase to consumers gradually. There should be no compromise in fiscal consolidation over the medium-term in following this policy option. It is also important that we manufacture what we consume; our current account deficit is also very high. Policy makers also need to ensure that our journey towards a $5 trillion economy is equal for all. We need to find a framework or support system for MSME and other sectors as well.

The IPO celebration is over!
With the stock prices of new age start-ups significantly lower, is it a good time for invest? New age stocks have been badly beaten down. Investors who would have bought stocks in these companies at their highest price post the listing would have lost close to 55% as on date. Consistent returns may be achievable only thorough competitive advantage. Investors need to be cautious in their approach. Entrepreneurs of Indian great tech wave should build products for the globe, as they might find it difficult to sustain the wave with only India as their market. A few start-ups specialize in making Do-It-Yourself (DIY) toys using concepts from Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM, also STEAM with an ‘A’ for Arts!). Such toys keep children away from the screen, improving their motor and cognitive skills. They also enhance the kids’ problem-solving skills. MMA through its CSR initiative ensures that poor children are not deprived of these opportunities; courses on Robotics and other advanced topics relating to STEM are made available through this initiative.

A governance body for startups?
India now hosts the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. Startups in India have grown remarkably over the past six years. The numbers have increased to over 14,000 in 2021 -22 from a mere 733 in 2016 – 17. A record 45+ startups have achieved the unicorn status in 2021, taking overall tally of unicorns in India to 83. However, unicorns are facing hurdles after a successful run. The booming India startup ecosystem is set to face some head winds after two straights years of runaway success. Entrepreneurs must find a way of balancing spends and resources. Cash-guzzling startups may not be able to raise as much equity in 2022 as in 2021. The need for governance in startups is coming to the fore. The solution is to set up structures for better corporate governance with robust processing, internal audit committees, and meaningful and qualitative boards.

Sustainability & environmental concern
IPCC’S latest report offers a grim scenario for Indian city dwellers if the world fails to arrest climate change. The Prime Minister’s Net Zero pledge for India announced at COP–26 in November shifted the context for Indian businesses. It means that businesses must set out sustainability plans of their own. Companies that take a long-term view of both opportunities and risks and begin preparing for the Net Zero transition stand a better chance of thriving amid major changes in the years ahead. In this context, the discussion organised during the MMA Annual Convention 2022 on the Future of Sustainability was thought provoking. Experts shared their insights on the important issue. You can watch the entire interaction by clicking the link below.

Mental well-being
For years, it is strongly believed that talent attraction and retention is a top priority for organizations. Post-Covid 19, it has become crucial for corporates to understand that mental well-being is more than just an issue faced by individuals. Organizational culture and practices impact the mental well-being of employees. Management teams at work need to be a little more understanding and supportive of their employees at the workplace. I strongly believe that managing physical health, emotional health, social connections, and spiritual practices would help to stay positive. You can change how you look without changing how you feel, and you can change how you feel without changing how you look! In this context, the talk organized by MMA on the theme “Toolbox for Emotional Coping” by Dr Prithika Chary is very relevant and informative. We present you on the article with embedded video. Read on and get emotionally fit!

Celebrating Women’s Day
MMA Women Managers Convention on the theme “Marching Ahead – Inspire Change in Humankind” was held on 26th March 202 at MMA Management Centre. Through this annual event, we present women achievers from different fields to inspire a large number of women professionals. We are excited to note how women are tackling their problems and changing the world. We interacted with the founders of the first women-led unicorn from India. If you have missed watching the convention live, here is the link for the recording.

Covid, covid, covid!
With Covid cases in India down to their lowest level in about two years, it is not a surprise to see public spaces get crowded and masks slip. The world is going back to work! But Covid isn’t gone yet. The virus has lost virulence in 2022, but that is not a reason to believe that we are in the clear. There is no need to panic, but let’s be realistic.
Stay safe, stay healthy!
Happy reading!