Dec 20, 2005

Wankhede Stadium

Saturday, December 10 2005. Left Powai at ~13:00. Was a Saturday and I was hoping to get a few things done that on weekday I'm too lazy to do. So after a stopover at Dadar and Grant Road I reached Marine Lines station. A 20 min walk and I was at the Wankhede stadium for the Ranji match between Mumbai and Bengal. I'd never seen Wankhede stadium before. Was very impressive. I've been to the Brabourne Stadium and the Chinnaswamy stadium before but I liked Wankhede better. No there's no proper explanation for this. It's just they call as the "Bombay/Mumbai" effect.

There were around 60-100 people watching the game. Right next to was a small kid who was busy trying to break the number-of-silly-questions-per-minute record. Bengal team were playing their second innings and they were trying to not to lose any wicket before the end of the day. Overall a very relaxed atmosphere. An occasional appeal for leg-before or a caught behind triggered some "ooooh" and "well-bowled" responses from the audience. Suddenly the crowd started clapping and cheering. I thought I missed out a fall of wicket but that wasn't the case. The kid next to asked his dad "why are they clapping"? I had the same question on my mind and so I listened to Papa's answer. The patient Papa pointed him to the electronic score board and told him that Sachin had scored his 35th century in Delhi.

The kid said "but why are they clapping here?"

Dec 9, 2005

2 wheelers: Back then and now

Back in the 70s and 80s it was the largest scooter manufacturer. Bajaj Auto's market share made it look like a monopoly despite the existence of competitors like API (Lambretta), Scooters India (Vijay Super), Gujarat Narmada Scooters (Prince), AP Scooters (PL170) and LML.

Such was the demand for the Bajaj scooter that after booking a Bajaj scooter, one had to wait for 3-4 years to get a delivery. If you needed a scooter immediately you'd have to pay an extra sum (in black). This was referred to as "ON" money.

Now if you were the Bajaj management during those days, what more could you ask for? People were waiting for years to buy your product. The seller was the king and sold his product at his terms. During the 70s and early 80s, the Chetak model was sold only to those customers who paid in foreign currency, and these were the times when foreign currency was a rare commodity. Today it's hard to imagine that such a concept existed.

Oh yes, if you were the Bajaj management, your major challenge would be to make sure that the quantity of scooters produced every year was within the limit prescribed by the government. How tough is that? But apparently they messed up once and the chief of Bajaj was almost arrested for producing a few extra scooters.
"O-Oh! 3 extra scooters? I'm afraid that's against the law. FREEZE. You are under arrest. You have the right to ... blah blah blah."

During the late 80s, the Japanese joint ventures arrived. Ind Suzuki was the first to launch the AX100. Soon Hero Honda and Escorts Yamaha also started making motorcycles. Bajaj tied up with Kawasaki for motorcycle expertise.

The motorcycle market grew steadily and consequently the scooter market shrank. Bajaj was the last to enter the motorcycle segment and was left far behind in the competition. Their same old scooter that once ruled the markets was not selling. After rolling out the same product for 20-30 years without any significant improvements, it was time to do something. It was the after all the matter of survival. Product development & innovation was the only way ahead.

New models were designed and brought to market. Attempts like Rave, Chetak 4 str, KB SX, NXT2, Eliminator failed miserably. Though RTZ and 4S could not be classified as great successes, they did manage to hang-in for quite some time occupying the #3 or #2 spot.

Then came the success in the form of Pulsar. This success was soon improved upon by the dual spark plug DTSi engine. Incidentally this is largely an indigenous effort unlike the Eliminator, Challenger which had "Kawasaki" label attached.

Moral of the story: The desperate need for survival forced product innovations. Had there been no competition, we would still be buying a scooter that had to be tilted before kicking that kick.

Dec 8, 2005

[Cricket] New look BCCI

BCCI today announced it's new schemes, new ideas etc. at a press conference. Soon, we can get the official "Team India" merchandise.
Caps, T-shirts, bats, stumps, bats, goti-pads ... the works. The cricket fan's prayers have been answered. Very soon Indian the cricket fan will be able to drive down into the friendly neighborhood shopping mall, flash a plastic card and get the cricket merchandise loaded shopping cart right up to the car in the parking lot.

I'm jealous of today's kids. As kids, we had to play cricket in elastic half-chaddis and these kids can have the *official* team India merchandise. बहूत नाइन्साफि है.

Dec 2, 2005

Better late than never

Intelligent Network services (like toll free, Premium Rate, Calling Card numbers) have been around for quite some time now. However, these services have been accessible to subscribers of some service providers only. Mostly MTNL/BSNL subscribers.

Finally the regulators woke up, formed a committee, committee gave it's report and have decided to bring in a regulation that will make it compulsory for all service providers to provide access to IN services.

Why did they not think of this before? Why so long? The IN services have been around for 4+ years. This will definitely increase the popularity of IN services whenever the regulations comes in force.