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Yoga – aspects you may not know

The world is celebrating International Yoga Day today.

Yoga is popularly known by Asana i.e. physical movements and Prayanama, breathing exercise performed by practitioners. Asana and Prayanama are what the Yoga means is the belief of most practitioners when most think about the Yoga.

Now, since the Yoga has gained international acceptance and popularity, it is pertinent to know what the Yoga means.

Yoga is a way of life and not limited to Asana and Prayanama. Sage Patanjali had about 2000 years ago, prescribed Yoga in sutras in his treatises known as Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Even before Patanjali Yoga was practiced and considered a way of life in India.  However the oldest Sutras, we have in written format is by Sage Patanjali.

Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means ‘to join, to unite’. Joining or union of the self with the supreme.

Yoga has eight limbs and is known as Ashtang-yoga (Ashtang = Eight Limbs). Asana and Prayanama are only two of them. This is considered a way of life to achieve the highest objective of human life. The highest objective is known as Samadhi, union with the object of meditation or enlightenment. Therefore, in broader sense Yoga is a road map to attain enlightenment.

In order to achieve this higher state, we need a moral code of conduct and self-purification. These are known as Yama and Niyama, two of the limbs.

Yama means a moral code of conduct. There are five Yamas.

  1. Satya = Truthfulness
  2. Ahimsa = Non Violence
  3. Asteya = Non Stealing
  4. Aparigraha = Non Hoarding
  5. Bhramhacharya = Chastity.

Niyama means acts of self-purification. There are five Niyamas.

  1. Saucha = Purity of Mind, body and thoughts
  2. Santosh = Containment
  3. Tapa = Penance
  4. Swadhyay = Study of self, self-reflection, study of religious texts
  5. Ishwarparidharna = Surrendering the self to the God

Next two limbs are what have commonly known Yoga with; Asana and Prayanama.

Asana is physical movements designed to keep the body functioning in proper order. There are various such movements and practices covering the entire body and all body parts / systems.

Unless the body is fit the person can’t focus on the higher purpose. Therefore, fit body is necessary for higher pursuit and Asana helps in achieving and maintaining a healthy body.

Pranayama is about breathing exercise. Prana means life force i.e. our breath. Controlling the breath is what Pranayama is. But why do we need to control the breath?

There is a sutra in Yoga Sutras which says;

‘Chale vate chale chitta, nishacle nishal bhavatu’ which means;

Our mind is wavering as our breath is not under our control so in order to keep the mind fixated and concentrate on one thing, controlling of the breath is necessary. Pranayama helps us with that.

All these four limbs i.e. Yama, Niyama, Asana & Prayanama are known as Bahirang i.e. external limbs of Yoga. These prepare us for the higher pursuit which the next level of limbs aims to take us.

The next four limbs are known as Antarang i.e. Internal.

These are Pratyahara, Dharna, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Pratyahara means moving inward from our senses to our internal world. This is the withdrawal of senses. We experience the external world through our senses; our senses are our doors to the external world. Now we are moving inward so withdrawal of the senses in order to experience the internal non-physical world. Just closing of eyes and ignoring all the signals of the senses can help us focus inward.

The next is Dharana. That is focussing on just one thing i.e. concentration on one thing.

The meditation has become very famous and popular the world over. This meditation is known as Dhyana and this is the 7th limb of Yoga. Continues focus on one thing for a longer period is known as Dhyana. Continues Dharana is Dhyana.  We focus on breath once is Dharana and continues focus for a long time is Dhyana or Meditation.

One can realise why Asana and Pranayama are important and precedes internal limbs? If the body is not healthy and fit one can’t sit in meditation for a long time and if our breath is not under our control our mind wavers during Dhyana. Asana and Prayanama prepare us to practice Dhyana.

One sitting for a longer period in Dhyana, focussing only on one object or even not on any object but absorption with the self, achieves Samadhi i.e. enlightenment. The ultimate objective of the human being i.e. to become one with the self i.e. Soul.

Therefore,  Yoga is a complete road map till one achieves enlightenment. All the preceding limbs prepare the practitioners to practice the successive limbs. However, most of us are using this rich and elaborate roadmap for merely achieving a very low aim of physical fitness by practicing Asana and Pranayama. Yes, this is a starting point, but we should not stop at this. On this International Yoga Day,  we should expand our understanding to know more about these aspects of Yoga and pursue it as and when time permits or the time is right.

For those who is only practicing Yoga for healthy a living, there are a few cautions:

Hathapradapika, one of the texts on Yoga which was written between 14 to 16th century says;

Yoga fails by six causes: Over-eating, over exertion, talkativeness, undisciplined life, promiscuous company and unsteadiness.

Gherandsahita says; the one who practices Yoga without control on diet will attract many diseases and will not get success in Yoga.

The point is Diet plays very important role in our health and even Yoga i.e. Asana and Prayanama practitioners will not get success if one is not disciplined about the diet.

For more curious readers the book on Yoga Light on Patanjali Yogasutras by BKS Iyengar is quite in detail about Sutras.

PS; The right pronunciation of ‘Yoga’ is ‘Yog’ and not ‘Yo ga‘.  But as Krishan has become Krishna and Ram as Rama, Yog has become Yoga.
Sunil Gandhi

Do you possess this CRITICAL skill? Perhaps NO.

Today, Saturday, so my blog is about personal matters.

“Communication starts and prevents wars nowadays.” French political consultant, Jacques Seguela

Ajit Pawar, ex-Minister in Govt of Maharashtra, in his recent meeting with party workers, advised them to speak cautiously as he accepted that he has lost everything because of his bad communication.

During the recent Mathura incidence, the way MP of Mathura, Hema Malini responded initially to a journalist was just short of pathetic.

UPA minister and prominent lawyer Kapil Sibal accepted that UPA had failed to communicate its achievements.

The communication between, otherwise prolific communicator, another UPA minister Shashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi on Twitter had cost the Minister his ministership.

We now see the difference between the communications styles of our present verses the ex-prime ministers. Communication can win elections and can make you the world leaders. Many world leaders lack clear communication skills and therefore, those who can do it better will immediately attract attention. Some of the Indians think our PM talks too much. For them, knowing the role of a leader is important;

“Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.”

— Gilbert Amelio, President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp.

Bad communication is not the monopoly of mere politicians, Dr. James Merlino in his book ‘Service Fanatics’ writes:

“Effective physician communication is a critical component of patient experience…. Most physicians believe they are excellent at patient communication, but the data suggest otherwise. Like a new medical treatment or surgical skills, effective communication skills can be taught, require practice and matter of proficiency.”

We can see that degrees or status don’t guarantee better communication skills. This is applicable to every profession.

What to talk, how to talk and how much to talk is an (important) art, a skill which everyone must master as what we do the whole life is communication.

We know the cases of broken marriages around us due to lack of communication and broken children/parents’ relationship due to inadequate communication. This is beautifully worded by George Bernard Shaw:

”The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Many times HOW matters more than the WHAT. WHAT demonstrates your thinking and IQ and HOW demonstrates your attitude and temperament and even deficiency.

I can’t resist writing what Mark Twain had said about WHAT:

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  Mark Twain.

Tim Ferris is a well-known author and podcaster. He in his own podcast he answered a question asked by one of his listeners.  The question was what would he major in if he goes to the school again?

His answer was: Obsession and communication

Recently, many boards’ results are announced. Hope students while selecting the degrees they wish to pursue focus also on communication skills before they complete the graduation. They will soon realise in real life communication skills precede every other skill.

Sunil Gandhi

Bankruptcy Code – Borrowers Beware

Now becoming an NPA is a more serious problem for the borrowers. Earlier plethora of laws governing recovery was used by the borrower to their advantage to delay the process. Thanks to the new law which is coming up soon and approved by both the houses of Parliament.

The message from the bill is clear. Restructure, repay or wind up.

Where any corporate debtor commits a default, a financial creditor, an operational creditor or the corporate debtor itself may initiate corporate insolvency resolution process in respect of such corporate debtor.

  1. The adjudicating authority shall, within 2 days will accept or reject the application.
  2. The adjudicating authority shall, within two days of accepting the application communicate the order to creditor and debtor.
  3. If within 10 days of the receipt of the above notice debtor fails to pay or indicate dispute, the creditor may file the application for insolvency process for the debtor.
  4. Corporate insolvency process will start from the day of admission of the above application.

The entire insolvency and recovery process shall be completed within 180 days, with one extension of up to 90 days in exceptional cases.

There will be fast-track insolvency resolution process also. This is for  special category of creditors, mainly smaller creditors and the process will be completed with 90 days.

There is also a voluntary liquidation process. A corporate person registered as a company shall meet the following conditions:

(a) a declaration from a majority of the directors of the company verified by an affidavit stating that –

(i) they have made a full inquiry into the affairs of the company and they have formed an opinion that either the company has no debt or that it will be able to pay its debts in full from the proceeds of assets sold in the voluntary liquidation; and

(ii) the company is not being liquidated to defraud any person;

There will be a new breed of professionals like Interim resolution professional, Resolution professional, Insolvency professional. These professionals will have various rights and duties in the entire process.

The proceeds from the sale of the liquidation trust assets shall be distributed in the following order of priority and within such period as may be specified:

(a) the insolvency resolution process costs and the liquidation costs paid in full;

(b) the following debts which shall rank equally between and among the following :-

(i) debts owed to a secured creditor in the event such secured creditor has relinquished security in the manner set out in section 53; and

(ii) workmen’s dues for the period of three months before the liquidation commencement date;

(c) wages and any unpaid dues owed to employees other than workmen for the period of three months before the liquidation commencement date;

(d) the following classes of creditors shall be paid equally between and among the following :-

(i) financial debts owed to unsecured creditors; and

(ii) workmen’s dues in respect of the period of nine months beginning from twelve months before the liquidation commencement date and ending three months before the liquidation commencement date;

(e) the following dues rank equally between and among the following :-

(i) any amount due to the State Government and the Central Government in respect of the whole or any part of the period of two years before the liquidation commencement date;

(ii) debts owed to a secured creditor for any amount unpaid following the enforcement of security interest;

(f) any remaining debts;

(g) preference shareholders, if any; and

(h) equity shareholders or partners, as the case may be.

There is a separate insolvency mechanism for individual and partnership firms. For individuals, some of their personal assets are excluded from the process. These are;

(a) unencumbered tools, books, vehicles and other equipment as are necessary to the debtor or bankrupt for his personal use or for the purpose of his employment, business or vocation,

(b) unencumbered, furniture, household equipment and provisions as are necessary for satisfying the basic domestic needs of the bankrupt and his immediate family;

(c) any unencumbered personal ornaments of the debtor or his immediate family which cannot be parted with, in accordance with religious usage;

(d) any unencumbered life insurance policy or pension plan taken in the name of debtor or his immediate family; and

(e) an unencumbered single dwelling unit owned by the debtor of such value as may be prescribed;

For smaller debtors there is a mechanism called Fresh Start Process. Here smaller debtor who cannot pay his creditor can apply under this provision.

There will be suitable changes in the Company’s Act. SICA, Limited Liability Partnership Act, SARFAESI, Recovery of Debt Due to Banks and Financial Institution Act and Partnership Act.

This single Act will simplify the entire insolvency and bankruptcy process in the country. Lenders /Creditors’ rights will be protected stringently. As per the World Bank report insolvency process in India takes an average 4.3 years as against 8 months in Singapore and one year in Malaysia. Now with this code in India,  this time, will be 9 maximum months. More safety and quicker recovery will boost lending climate in the country and this will also discipline borrowers.

Borrowers beware.

Sunil Gandhi

My First Podcast Interview


Sunil Gandhi

Dangerous DEBT

The NPA is a fraction of the problem for Indian banks. They will employ a team of lawyers and / or sell NPA to ARCs to get rid of such accounts. They will get capital from the Govt.

But for entrepreneurs having an NPA, it is the mega problem for them. Their other good accounts will get affected; no one will lend them, they will be at a risk of selling of property mortgaged to the bank. It’s a very stressful situation. Mostly most small NPAs are not willful but ignorant NPAs.

Most entrepreneurs are financially illiterate. They can do good business, but can’t read financial statements. They can’t understand the implication of debt, cash and cash flow.

First draft my next ebook Dangerous DEBTWhat every entrepreneur must know himself is ready. I am looking for a few beta readers who can give me feedback about the book.

Please express your interest by dropping your email ID in response to this post to receive a soft copy of the manuscript.

Thank you.

Sunil Gandhi

Who wants to suffer from Existential Distress?

Existential Distress is the term I learnt from the podcast titled ‘The Man Who Studied 1,000 Deaths to Learn How to Live’ by Tim Ferris with BJ Miller.

The meaning of these two words is:  Existential distress at the end of life has been defined as hopelessness, a burden to others, loss of a sense of dignity, desire for death or loss of the will to live and threats to self-identity.

Existential Loneliness has entered the literature and “is understood as an intolerable emptiness, sadness, and longing, that results from the awareness of one’s fundamental separateness as a human being.”

However BJ Miller, who is an expert on Death and has witnessed about 1000 deaths, in the Podcast defines the term as;

When a terminal stage cancer patient thinks that he has lost an opportunity to live a meaningful life, he feels this – Existential Distress.

A life is almost gone and one can’t do anything about it. A life which could have been lived differently, meaningfully, beautifully, enjoying the small things, without grudges, for own happiness is now on the verge of collapse. These feelings make the patient suffer from Existential Distress.

Unless we see our death in front of us, these feelings never occur and we keep indulging n irrelevant, unimportant and self-boasting things. The point is: Is it only at the time of death, we should feel Existential Distress? That is the time when we can’t do anything about it except repenting.  & therefore, should we not become aware of our daily life NOW? A question – How meaninglessly we are living our life? should not occur to us?

The whole objective of our life, what we have made out is to run after the money till we die. The money, which we will keep here at the time of death for someone else to splurge, waste or fight for. But unless we are terminally ill, we don’t realise that we are also going to die –  if not in the near future than certainly in the foreseeable future.

Those of us who are not terminally ill should also wait till the time we are near death to feel Existential Distress? Or when we have a chance and time to make our life meaningful, we must become aware and act to make it meaningful?

Whether we are terminally ill or no, if the death is certain than whether we suffer from Existential Distress or enjoy Existential Satisfaction, our action should start much before our proximity to death. It is not necessary that only people with terminal illness suffer from Existential Distress, everyone can suffer from this state of mind if the life is not lived meaningfully.

The opportunity to do something meaningful, something which we loved to do, the opportunity to be helpful, the opportunity to forgive someone, the opportunity to pursue our dreams and hobbies will be LOST sooner than we realise. & we may not be terminally ill, but terminally aged.

Thinking about OWN death is the greatest moment of awakening about the life.

We all know about Opportunity Cost, in financial terminology; however, we are blatantly ignorant about Opportunity Cost when it comes to our own life choices. Terminally ills can have lessons for each of us on HOW to live a life.

Sunil Gandhi

How to avoid Financial & Social Bankruptcy?

A few years ago, one of our clients approached us to help them in raising finance for their packaging unit. Two entrepreneurs, well one entrepreneur and one technocrat. The entrepreneur was riding on the passion of the technocrat. (Technocrat’s blind passion is many a time reasons for business failure).

They had identified machine from Germany to manufacture packaging items for the food industry. Technocrat was extremely passionate about the capacity and quality of output of the machine. They were confident about sweeping the packaging market with the first of its kind machine imported in India.

With equal enthusiasm, an Information Memorandum was presented it to the bank. When any company approaches the lending institutions their financial projections will match the lending institutions’ requirements. As it is done by professionals, knowing the lenders’ requirements. It is the lender’s duty to assess the possibility of achieving the same. (However, it is in the interest of entrepreneurs to make the realistic projections to know the feasibility of the project. The entrepreneur can not fool lenders before fooling the self).

The bank primarily agreed with the project, however being a technical project and machines were imported for the first time in India, they involved their technical team for viability study.

This one man technical team visited the site where land and building were ready, in addition he took some information. They analysed some data and submitted their TEV study to the branch. Thereafter, with due process of processing at appropriate level, the loan was sanctioned for this green field project.

The promoter had a property – i.e. land and building worth US $ 1 mn free from any encumbrances which were offered to the bank as collateral security. The term loan was disbursed as per the bank’s norms. Machine import order was placed. Advance payment was also made. All preparation to commence the production was on a fast track.

Finally, the machine arrived and was to be released from custom by paying duty. There was some technical issue and further disbursement by the bank was delayed by two weeks. There were heavy demurrage charges which were imposed by the customs authority.

Then when the machine was released and arrived at the factory it was the 3rd week of December and there was a closure due to Christmas in Europe. Therefore, Installation was postponed till 2nd week of Jan as technicians from Germany had to travel to India to install the machine and train the people. Further unscheduled delay of almost a month.

Now on the other side promoters could not raise the promoter’s contribution on time and they borrowed from the market their part of the contribution. This additional interest was not factored in the project cost as promoters contribution is expected as capital from promoters.

While processing the proposal, net worth statement of promoters were submitted and immovable property was considered as a part of net worth and bank assumed promoters would liquidate the same to bring promoters finance. This was not possible as the immovable property was their residence.

In between all these, we for our other professional assignment met one of the machine manufacturers in Nasik and incidentally, they were manufacturing the similar machine which the borrower above imported from Germany. We just asked the cost of the machine. To our surprise and shock. the cost was mere 15% of the imported machine from Germany.

The immediate thought occurred – how the project with imported German machine would succeed when the difference in capital expenditure is so much. I wondered whether promoters were not aware about the high cost of Capex they are indulging in? How will they match competitors’ price?

I informed the technocrat partner about the same. He told me their quality will be unmatched. I just inquired packaging is an outer part of the product, whether the market will pay a higher price for things which ultimately will be thrown by the users? But they were confident or rather over-confident oblivious of the market condition.

After a few months when I met them, they were in search of a loan to buy 2nd hand machines at a cheaper cost to bring their cost of production down as their cost of production from German machine was quite higher than the market can absorb. I advised against raising further debt and focussing on marketing to multinational companies where they were getting some success but that too without covering fixed costs.

After a year or so when I met them, I was told they had to sell their land and building to repay to the bank as the account become NPA and property was on sale. They mortgaged their residence to raise a loan to buy that 2nd hand machinery. After selling the factory, they had taken a small unit near Mumbai to manufacture on a smaller scale.

They looked confident that with this small set up they will come out of the financial trouble. I had my own doubt.

Many lessons:

1) The entrepreneur was not literate about the financial implication of their actions.
2) The entrepreneur was fully and blindly relying on the technocrat partner who also happens to be his relative.
3) The technocrat was over confident or rather did not do any homework before indulging such a huge debt and mortgage of property made out of lifetime saving worth US $ 1 mn by his partner.
4) His blind passion about the quality of output and capacity of the German machine was the only drive to set up the project.
5) The bank had done TEV study just for the purpose of record. No in-depth industry / competition analysis was done before committing the debt.
6) Most banks just go by financial projections submitted without trying to test every data.
7) Orders on hand submitted during the time of sanction are not reliable as they come with many conditions and which hardly materialise in reality.
8) Capacity of promoters to invest liquid funds as the margin was neither ascertained by the bank nor planned by the promoters.
9) The bank followed only security and disbursement procedures without going into either technical or market details.

Today they are not reachable. Their cell numbers were changed plenty of time during the last eight years. Of course to avoid calls from creditors. I am sure they must be in serious financial trouble. Once a zero debt entrepreneurs with an asset base of US $ 1 mn in the city of Mumbai now may be either under heavy debt and facing a legal suit from lenders and living somewhere in a distant suburb. They were residing in two of the prominent suburbs of Mumbai.

Debt can be dire. Financial illiteracy and over-confidence of entrepreneurs can be fatal – if not physically then socially. In Indian society failure and bankruptcy are very big crimes.  More than legal consequeces, the social cnsequences are unbearable.

Here I would like to invoke Guy Kawsaki. Someone must play devil’s advocate when any new idea is to be implemented. All pros and cons should be thought through and taken care of. Every action and its implication should be thought through – dispassionately. Rather than doing post-mortem when the damage is done, this kind of pre-mortem is necessary.

In his book Enchantment Guy Kawasaki writes;

Pre-mortems, according to Gary Klein, author of Sources of Power ; How people make decisions; are a better idea because they can help prevent death rather than explain it. … The team leader asks everyone to assume the project failed and come up with the reasons why failure occurred. … The team then figures out ways to prevent these reasons from happening… the goal of pre-mortems is to prevent the potential problems in order to increase the likely hood of success.

Shouldn’t borrowers and lenders both do this Pre-mortems to limit incidences of – bankruptcy and NPAs respectively ?

Sunil Gandhi