1. With new lessons learnt fromChina and Morocco in 2009, I am more optimistic today than ever about achieving ‘inclusive growth’ by enmeshing the interests of small farmer with those of big business. Traditional business models structured the relationship between a farmer and an agri-business as two principals transacting at any one exchange point along the supply chain. Instead, one can forge crop specific hybrid partnerships depending on whether heavy investment, high-end technology or labour intensive crop care can potentially alter economics of different individual legs of the value chain, eventually delivering the best overall outcome. The Government too has a key role to play, through enabling reforms and infrastructure investments.
  2. Photography, a personal passion, got a big lift this year when I upgraded my camera to a Canon 5D Mark II. Shooting Bodhisattva Padmapani at ISO 3200 in the darkAjanta Caves, or capturing the massive Kailasa temple at Ellora in a full frame were magical moments! A quick walk from one end of the Hyderabad Tank Bund to the other re-activated Shiv’s Third Eye series of albums. Third Eye in China followed soon after. Tagging the pictures with comments & putting them together as albums, and sharing those albums with friends multiplied the joy 3x 🙂
  3. That reflection on ‘sharing’ brings me to another highlight of 2009 – my active engagement with the Digital Social Media beyond the ITC Intranet. I got on toTwitter this year, and stepped up action on Facebook. Finally, after nudging by many of you, I even started writing a Blog! Interaction with people always energized me. These media have enabled such interaction asynchronously and allowed me to be in touch with many more friends without intruding into their personal time or space. Smart interface applications on BlackBerry made the whole experience seamless and literally 18×7. Many friends joined me virtually through Facebook as I traveled in rural China; the collective journey added so much value to me. My live tweets from various conferences bring in comments from ‘followers’ with such diverse perspectives that my learning quotient will never be the same again.
  4. On work front, the biggest satisfaction of the year was launching of an initiative where we learn from ourselves, branded “Teach ABD”. The origin of this idea goes back six years.2003 was the first time we articulated the big vision of eChoupal with much clarity. Implementing such a grand plan required ‘insightful front line’ and ‘action oriented back office’, in addition to the roles in a typical traditional organization viz. ‘strategizing top management’ and ‘executing field force’. The front line should be as aware of the strategy, as the senior managers should be of the field realities. When I was asked by our Chairman, if building such an organisation was possible, I had shared the illustration of Vedic God Indra’s famous pearl necklace described in the Avatamsaka Sutra. “In the heaven of Indra, the network of pearls is so arranged that if you look at any one, you see all the others reflected in it, in this process reflections of reflections continue infinitely.” Six years later, as we rolled out Teach ABD, I am confident that such an organization will be a reality soon. After gaining knowledge of instructional design, special task forces of our own people developed content in various identified areas like customer engagement and data driven decision making. This content, in turn, is being delivered through a series of training programmes conducted by our own people who volunteered to be Teach ABD Champions. These are important early strides in building an ever transforming organization.
  5. Can’t reflect on 2009 without feeling sad about Andhra Pradesh. Not just the tricky Telangana issue which is a live bomb today as I write this piece, but the drought and the floods before. And the untimely death of YSR. Not to forget the shock given by Satyam Ramalinga Raju at the beginning of the year. Hopefully 2010 brings better luck to AP & Hyderabad!
  6. Last week, when the ABD team voted me theKing of their Hearts, I recalled Jodhaa’s advice to Akbar about the importance of winning hearts as opposed to battle victories (remember Aishwarya’s “aap sirf fateh karna jaante hai, raaj karne ke liye dil jo jeetna padtha hai” or something to that effect in Gowarikar’s Jodhaa Akbar). Thanks ABDians for the love and affection!
  7. Wish you all a great 2010…