Some Lessons Learnt the Hard Way
Cybersecurity is in the spotlight again as various actors increasingly target governments and businesses. There is no room for complacency: The threat landscape has shifted and attackers have become more sophisticated! Over 6,00,000 cyberattacks were reported in the first half of 2021 (per data from CERT).
With most of the staff still in work-from-home mode, enterprises need to seriously weigh in security considerations. The adoption of IoT devices in our daily lives as well as business operations has provided a new avenue for cyber intrusions; not all IoT systems are secured with robust authentication and vulnerability management. There is also a shift in how hackers target individuals—moving from laptops to mobiles.
In this context, MMA in association with KAS and DiSAI organised a seminar on “Recent Trends in Cyber Crimes” on 23rd May 2022 to provide insights on the present state of cyber security in the country. The Director General of Police, Cyber Crime Wing, TN, delivered the keynote address and shared his perspective on the cyber security initiatives in the state. I am delighted to present an article on the theme in this issue with embedded videos of the seminar. Please read on and watch the video.
Don’t Be a Job Seeker, Be a Job Giver!
Indian start-up unicorns’ average annual growth rate is higher than those in the United States, UK and other countries. Start-ups in India continue to create value despite the pandemic-led slowdown, but unfortunately a spate of governance issues have recently surfaced. These are mostly related to transactions, creative accounting and violations. An obvious question is whether such disruptions and sustainability are at odds. Sustainability is about the bottom-line focus while disruption is often growth centric (it could involve period of capital burn). One wonders if the endless ‘burn’ can result in super profits. It may, however, create capital depletion, soaring valuation and temptation to cross the line of ethics. It is not easy for founders or anyone else to change their nature. However, a combination of self-awareness and mentoring could help. Between our obsession with unicorns and glorifying people running small stalls for survival is the middle ground in entrepreneurship. This space is sparsely occupied in India today. The need for producing mass entrepreneurs is more pronounced now than ever before. I strongly believe that now is the time to harmonize all the intent, insights and thought leadership into a framework that inspires concerted action. We now have all the ingredients to create an ecosystem for entrepreneurship to thrive. The introduction of the entrepreneurship mindset curriculum in schools has shown significant improvement in academic and life outcomes. In this context, MMA conducts a number of Entrepreneurship Development Programs at various schools through its CSR initiative. These programs are very popular and kindle the interest of students towards entrepreneurship. A small initiative by MMA, but worth it!
Inflation has suddenly become a major problem in virtually all countries. What is surprising now is that advanced economies are also recording higher levels of inflation: the annual consumer price inflation is 8.5% in the US, 7.5% in the Eurozone and 7% in the UK. Emerging markets and developing countries (including Asian countries) are recording a higher rate of inflation, reaching over 7%. The RBI must contain the risk of a worst fallout involving ripple effects. There is a critical and urgent need to revisit the fiscal policy and think of innovative measures to augment revenues in such a way that inflationary connotations are minimized and non-inflationary factors are increased. It is also important that a global coordination is required to overcome this collective problem now faced by various countries. This may require developed and wealthy countries to assume a disproportionate amount of responsibility in this regard.
Sri Lanka: Pearl Drop to Tear Drop
The debt-ridden island nation is coming to grips with harsh realities. Sri Lanka announced a pre-emptive default on its foreign debt totalling to $51 billion—fresh on the heels of its decision to increase interest rates—in a bid to tighten monetary policy. Several cargo ships are still anchored in international waters as the country struggles to find dollars for payment to clear shipments of fuel and other essentials. The result is a shortage of petrol, diesel and kerosene. Food prices have sky rocketed, hospitals are running out of drugs, what happens in Sri Lanka matter way beyond its borders. Global markets see a bellwether for a raft of potential defaults across the developing world as countries face a growing post-pandemic debt burden.
Building enough trust and creditability with the people and convincing them that the pain they are going through is not permanent will be challenging to the political establishment of any country. Is the Sri Lankan financial crisis a chance for Indian tea sellers to corner new markets? That’s easier said done!
Sri Lanka has always beaten India in the tea business. India earns lower revenues than its neighbours from overseas tea market despite being the second largest producer globally. As Sri Lanka reels from its economic crisis, can India corner its market share? South Indian orthodox tea may benefit in the short-term but the industry is in for a long haul.
In this regard, MMA organized a discussion on the theme “Sri Lanka: from Pearl Drop to Tear Drop” with experts providing thought provoking insights. I am delighted to present the article on the discussion in this issue with embedded videos.
Investment bubbles all over the world are bursting. Bitcoin has lost 55% of its peak price; Netflix is down 73%; and Zoom video communications have fallen 84% from its peak. Small budget retail investors who were nudged into buying cryptos by the big financial investors, actors and other celebrities, etc., learnt a very old investment lesson: Financial genius is before the fall!
It is important for millennials and boomers to understand that while return on capital is important, the return of capital is even more important!
The Next Pandemic?
A fourth wave looks unlikely—the strains and variants after Delta look benign—but the pandemic has been surfacing almost every 10 years; India must ramp up its health system. The WHO has recommended 44.5 skilled healthcare workers per 10,000 people; Indian health workforce is less than 20 for 10,000. Watching out for any signs of a new threat needs real-time monitoring. The data would enable governments to bring the required restrictions. It is better to be well prepared and proactive. We will have only ourselves to blame if we don’t ramp up our hospital infrastructure at the earliest.
The Indian Badminton Team
The Indian badminton men’s team winning the Thomas Cup is a reminder of the other proud moment in sports: Kapil Dev and his team lifting the 1983 Cricket World Cup. Self-belief and team-work powered the Indians to their maiden Thomas Cup win. This is the beginning of the youth dividend in Indian sports. Our badminton team has made us proud! Congratulations Team India!
As always we would be happy to hear your views, comments and suggestions.
Stay safe and stay healthy!