Friday, May 31, 2019

What are the policy initiatives required to make rural women economically active?

As an economy transforms from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy, a decline in participation of female labour force is observed.
With an increase in income levels of the households, a woman no longer prefers working as an unpaid worker or a helper or as a casual worker unless the work is remunerative (as in MGNREGA). 
However, such opportunities are limited in rural India and as a result women are not finding jobs matching their preference (regular part-time jobs close to their households). Furthermore, with low skill levels, jobs in the non-farm sector are also limited.
These factors perhaps have led to the withdrawal of women from the labour force.

Policy Strategies
The decline observed in rural female labour force participation is due to a complex mix of several forces working simultaneously.
While the focus is on education and income effect, research reveal that the lack of sufficient non-farm jobs in rural areas has forced women to stay out of the labour market. The wage conditions prevalent in the rural labour market show that female workers have experienced a better hike in wages/salaries; it implies that the gender gap in terms of wages/salaries has started declining. But the opportunities available in rural India which are compatible with their education levels are dying out.
Dedicated efforts in skilling, re-skilling and improving their educational outcomes through infrastructure development, female teacher availability, incentives along with creating an adequate number of favourable job opportunities are necessary to harness their potential.
Considering the constraints experienced by the rural females to enter the labour force, policy initiatives are required to make them economically active. The initiatives should focus on microfinance-supported self-help group-centred activities, which will make them economically active along with handling domestic duties.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

The Essence of the Story is in How one Creates it

“I have been a Research Analyst for 10 years, but after this training, I feel that I’ve been doing it all wrong!”, said one of my Training participants recently.

The key reason we are not able to communicate effectively with data is that we don’t have a clear understanding of the ‘message’ we want to provide to the audience. We get stuck in numbers, facts, and lose sight of the insights that these numbers lead to. More often, we have a tendency to present the data and insights that we think are interesting without once considering what the audience might want or need.
Charts and Words are just tools that help us convey our thoughts. The star of the show here is our ‘thoughts’, but often we get bogged down and overemphasize on the usage of these tools rather than focusing on ‘what we wish to convey’ with these tools.

When people hear the term Data Storytelling the first thing they think about is complex and fancy charts and then their focus shifts on learning how to use the tools that help them create these. Unfortunately, it is often forgotten that no matter how complex or advance a tool might appear, it still needs ‘your direction’.

When talking about Data Storytelling, first comes the Storyteller – their take on the story and then the tools come into the picture. The emphasis should be on creating an impactful story – which depends on the Storyteller’s ability to think, analyze and then connect relevant insights to present clear conclusions and messages. When the story is well-formed in the storyteller’s mind, even the most basic of charts and writing can make the message impactful.

When creating reports or presentations one should remember that the star of the show is not the complexity of the charts, but it is in fact the simplicity with which the Story – the message, is communicated to the audience.

The Power of Data Storytelling strongly emphasizes on the need to build the story before crafting it and introduces new tools to make this story building exercise simple and effective.

*Credits: Sejal Vora, author of The Power of Data Storytelling

                                               Do you want to ace the art of Data Storytelling?                                  

Click here to buy the book

Thursday, May 16, 2019

‘RACE’ towards positivity at workplace

“When leaders adopt positive practices for change, it has significant outcomes”

Positive organizational change has grown out of the newly emerging field of positive organizational scholarship (POS), which refers to the investigation of positive outcomes, practices, attributes, and changes that occur in organizations and their members.

Positive change examines factors that influence adoption of a positive lens, focusing on positively deviant performance, effects of an affirmative bias, and impact of virtuousness or best of human conditions.

Individuals who energize others performed higher than even those who were in the central role in the network.

After the global financial crisis, there was an urgent need for change at a Middle-Eastern financial services firm. The management team designed a positive business initiative called ‘RACE’, which involved various sports, arts, cultural, and everyday business activities, intended to engage employees and build their psychological strengths.

The RACE initiative had four major events—

Marathon (daily business parameters), hurdles (business challenges), sprint (sports), and relay (arts and cultural).

The WOW factor of “RACE”:

  • These practices engage the employees cognitively, emotionally, and physically.

  • These positive practices generate positively deviant performance.

  • Individuals feel safe to express themselves in these informal settings.

  • The fear of underperformance gets converted into the joy of participation.

  • On an ongoing basis, they set goals and identify alternative pathways for goal achievement.

  • When routine jobs are converted into games, employees are more likely to work with intensity and invest their energies into it.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Is blockchain the future of finance in India?

Currently, the financial system depends on a number of centralized trusted intermediaries.

Until a decade ago, it was commonly assumed that these central hubs were extremely unlikely to fail. More importantly, it was supposed that they were too big to fail (TBTF), so that the government would step in and bail them out if they did fail. The Global Financial Crisis of 2007–2008 shattered these assumptions as many large banks in the most advanced economies of the world either failed or were very reluctantly bailed out.

Repeated instances of hacking of the computers of large financial institutions is another factor that has destroyed trust. When trust in the central hubs of finance is being increasingly questioned, decentralized systems like the blockchain that reduce the need for such trust become attractive.
The blockchain is a decentralized, replicated, tamper resistant (immutable), append-only ledger of transactions.

Benefits of the blockchain

  • A full audit trail is available to all participants. Moreover, the inbuilt cryptographic integrity checks ensure that this audit trail is verified by all of them. The result is a significantly lower need for trust in central hubs.
  • Second, the blockchain is partition resistant: if a few nodes fail or are disconnected from the network, the rest of the nodes can continue to function because they all have a copy of all the data.
Blockchain is still an evolving and therefore immature technology; it is hard to predict how successful it would be outside its only proven use domain of cryptocurrencies. History teaches us that radically new technologies take many decades to realize their full potential. Thus it is perfectly possible that blockchain would prove revolutionary in the years to come despite its patchy success so far.

Worth-exploring reads also from Vikalpa:

About the journal:

Vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers is the journal of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad ( Launched in January 1976, this peer-reviewed journal is
published quarterly. The word Vikalpa, in Sanskrit, carries a rich repository of meanings: diversity,
alternatives, logic, and freedom of choice.

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Data Storytelling – What is that?

‘Data’ and ‘Storytelling’ are two commonly used English language words which when combined can often leave people perplexed. Even the ones who have heard about ‘Data Storytelling’ earlier are always curious to know what exactly does it entail and how can I use it?

If either of these questions were raised in your minds, then you are not alone. Although the essence of Data Storytelling has been around forever, the term in itself is quite recent, a by-product of the Data big-bang I believe.

At it’s core Data Storytelling is about communicating effectively with your data – the findings, analysis, insights, and message. This Data communication in business is often written or visual; through emails, reports, presentations or dashboards. All of these can be made much more effective, impactful and engaging when painted with the Storytelling brush. Storytelling is believed to be the best tool for impactful communication, hence it is the most preferred choice when communicating with data as well.

If you are doing the following, you are not communicating effectively with data:
  • Your charts and writing are number heavy with no clarity of underlying insights
  • The audience requires to analyze the chart (just like with a data table) to decipher for themselves what’s going on?
  • The audience is compelled to re-read the writing and still might not get the desired clarity of the message
  •  The data points or insights from one paragraph/chart to another seem to be jumpy and you aren’t always successful in understanding how they connect

If you are doing the following, you are conveying an impactful Data Story:
  • The key insights, conclusions, and messages are clear at first glance (for a chart) or first read (for writing)
  • You can sense the invisible thread that logical connects all your data points giving it a much-needed flow and structure
  • You are not giving numbers to your audience, but you are taking them on a journey
  •  The audience finds your charts and writing to be interesting and often agree with your conclusions

If you believe that you need a little help or guidance in transforming your data communications into Stories to make them more impactful and engaging for your audience then welcome to the world of “Data Storytelling”.

Insights from the book: The Power of Data Storytelling by Sejal Vora                                            
                             Click here to know more about the book

About the author

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Caste, as it is experienced in everyday life!

Let us begin with a story where a woman makes a strong gesture of anger against an old man who insists on knowing her caste before drinking the water she offers when he is thirsty. When the old man almost chokes on a betel nut, one of the other passengers helps him out. He is a doctor. He tells the woman: Madam, you might feel compelled to show that you do not believe in caste. I don’t. Even though I don’t believe in it, it still stays sticking to me. I just have to keep dusting it away as I go. I should not allow it to make me, or the others who are close to me, lose self-respect. That is all I care about….

Caste, as it is experienced in everyday life, is the pièce de résistance of a recently published book by SAGE, ‘Black Coffee in a Coconut Shell’ that talks about living, loving and dying with caste as an indelible marker. Thirty-two voices in the book narrate how from childhood to adulthood, caste intruded upon their lives—food, clothes, games, gait, love, marriage and every aspect of one’s existence including death. Like the editor, Perumal Murugan says, caste is like the god, it is omnipresent.

 Award-winning book on casteism that you must-read

“If you insist that you do not know me, let me explain myself … you will feel, why, yes, I do know this person. I’ve seen this man.”

With these words the author, Manoranjan Byapari points to the inescapable roles all of us play in an unequal society. It talks about his traumatic life as a child in the refugee camps of West Bengal and Dandakaranya, facing persistent want—an experience that would dominate his life.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

5 valuable lessons from entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs

A ‘start-up’ is the ultimate expression of who the entrepreneur is and what he values and in India, start-ups have become a mainstream phenomenon.
India is ranked 77th for ease of doing business in the world but budding entrepreneurs often tend to make mistakes which they could have averted if they had proper guidance.

Here are 5 valuable lessons from entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs

Take external money only if you want to grow super-fast in the short term and don’t mind risking long-term sustenance and free control.

Understand that the right people to hire are those who are dependent on the salary led to building a good on-field workforce.

Focus on the visual aspect of the product as it turns out to be an important selling point in most cases, even if it means hiring a professional to do it.

    Figure out channels that work
Put money in figuring market channels in the beginning as it helps in achieving the long-term objectives.

    Right incentives
Start-ups are often tight on money but freedom, responsibility, and equality are a kind of incentives that empower the team.

Insights from the book: No shortcuts

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