Mar 11, 2016 - Ankur Mishra, INDIA, Politics    No Comments

Free speech: limits needed, but just enough to keep system functioning

Being able to think limitlessly is more fundamental to a human being, than letting the given day’s socio-cultural constructs determine what to think. While the freedom to express protects one’s most basic human rights, some reasonable restrictions are required to protect the existing systems of which one is part of.

Ideas that define a nation, religion, community, God and governance have changed over time, and will continue to do so. Each new idea emerges as an improvement over traditionally-held ideas, with changing context of life and society. The fact that a new idea challenges the status quo means it will face resistance, but blocking that flow of ideas blocks evolution. Therefore, it is important that space be given for thinkers to express new ideas and discuss and debate their feasibility.

However, here a distinction is required in what challenges the status quo and what insults it. Society, culture, religion and politics provide a much-needed system and order for how we live. Though that system must change with time, the need of one cannot be neglected. So, we need just enough protective forces that keep a system in place: enough to allow space for new ideas, but not so much as to kill the order of the day.

Speech which can be perceived as “anti-national” may invite abhorrence, but as long as it is harmless, its expression must not be limited. In this respect, while freedom to express is still paramount, the implications of that expression cannot be ignored. Article 19(2) of the Constitution puts restrictions on free speech if it is against the sovereignty and integrity of India, national security, international relations, public order, decency or morality, or incites offence.

In today’s world, how a nation approaches ideas can have far-reaching consequences in terms of defence, economy, law and order, security and international cooperation. A new ideology challenging God may result in communal disorder if force is used to enforce that ideology. An idea which seeks a violent end to the current idea of a nation-state may result in a threat to national security. A policy which seeks an immediate end to capitalism may hurt the national economy, and policies which look for a sudden replacement of socialism with capitalism will hurt the most vulnerable citizens.




Ideas must constructively debate and consider; they must not threaten. Ideas must add to the discourse; they should not kill the current discourse. The way ideas are expressed must recognize that at best, they are in transition from one to another.

Expression of new ideas needs to accommodate what is traditionally held, recognizing the context in which the earlier ideas were formed, and appreciating their merits. This will ensure that a reasoned debate takes place and individuals on both sides of what is expressed can weigh what is and what can be.

Mar 6, 2016 - Ankur Mishra    No Comments

Nationalists don’t question the system – until there’s a power cut and they can’t charge their iPhones

If you are rich and questioning the system, you are a hypocrite.
If you are middle-class and questioning the system, you are a loser.
If you are poor and questioning the system, you are a parasite.
If you are a man and questioning the system, you have been emasculated.
If you are a woman and questioning the system, you are a lesbian prostitute feminazi.
If you are Hindu and questioning the system, you are a pseudo-secular.
If you are Muslim and questioning the system, you are an ISI agent.
If you are upper-caste and questioning the system, you are misguided.
If you are lower-caste and questioning the system, you are a spoilt brat.
If you are Indian and questioning the system, you don’t care for the soldiers guarding our borders.
If you are non-Indian and questioning the system, you want to sabotage our economy.

Nationalists don’t question the system – until there’s a power cut and they can’t charge their iPhones.

Kanhaiya Kumar – A new role model for all entrepreneurs

I don’t care whoever he is, he is is a good speakers and a good scholar, Who knows the ground level politics and ground level problems.  One university and especially one student leader, Mr. Kanhaiya kumar, was at the center of controversy around a political storm in India lately. While it will be hard to comment on the politics of left and right ideology, its analogy to start ups and their daily problems can be drawn.

Take up a issue which are being faced by public in general and build a solution around it

  • Issue taken up Kanhaiya kumar – Rohit Vemula, Occupy UGC.
  • As a start up, you take up issues that people are facing and try to invent solution around it.. Issues taken up start up – Easy recharge and bill payment  (Mobikwik, Paytm, PayU)

In political or in business, Big players will bully  you and will try to stop-

  • Established big players will flexes their muscles as they see you as intruder in their market space and try everything to kill your ambition. Ruling political part tried hard to stop you
  • Similarly in business space, big corporates have always tried to stop smaller players like IBM – Apple , Makemytrip – Oyo room, Uber – Jugnoo

Corrupt environment will try to decimate your ambitions

  • External Socio-politic-economic forces will try to stop your progress. Kanhaiya charged with Sedition for doctored videos aired by some news channels.
  • In business, big business can get access to funds more easily. They can easily create entry barriers to new players. Some of the big business tycoons are biggest bank defaulters, while every day 100s of start ups are facing untimely death due to cash crunch.


You will faces challenges all the time.

  • In Kanhaiya Kumar case, he was charged with sedition, he was beaten up by mob of lawyers outside court and he risked being labelled anti national for all of his life.
  • Similarly, in start-up, some of the problems you faced are wrong partners, cash flow issue, human resource issues, etc. These are some of the difficulty which tries to put a stop to your dreams.

Your family, well-wishers will keep faith in you

  • In hard time, it is very important to have helping hand from your closest family and well-wisher (monetary or emotionally). This will give extra mileage in long battle. Kanhaiya kumar was well supported by JNU community and lacs of Indian students.
  • Similarly, every founder needs emotional and monetary support from his close family and friends.

Slowly and steadly, you stood up against all the challenges and come as a winner

  • JNU Student Union President was given bail by Delhi High Court
  • Similarly, you will face lots of challenges in start up and finally find a way to make your start up a big story.

Your Life – Your Book – Your Choice

Hey, I am here with my new book. This time something in Hindi. You have read enough #YugalVani on Internet, now its time to read something special, Something very special from my heart. It is about your mother, it is about your village, it is about your love, it is about your society, it is about your life. This book has everything about you.  When you will read these poetic stories, you will find yourself in all lines.

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Aam Aadmi Party teaches a lot to Startups – Growth Hack ;)

1) Identifying a real need gap – They realized that there was a huge untapped market for a new brand of politics and developed their disruptive product, i.e. AAP in accordance with this market need. This came as a result of a lot of market research. In this case, the India Against Corruption movement only served to validate the findings of the research.
Lesson to be learnt: Research well on your market, customers, their needs. Then try to solve a real life problem that truly exists in the real world and not just in your mind. Then build a product to solve this recognized product.

2) Team Building – AAP then went around on a hiring spree (if I may call it hiring). AK appealed to all ‘ache log’ of this country to come together and join AAP to establish a brand pf politics. Each new member was chosen very carefully with a proper background check. They were put into roles where they could deliver/add maximum value. Each team mate was as ready as the co-founders to go all in to make the product a huge success. I won’t go into the specifics of this one.
Lesson to be learnt: Spend a lot of time in building the right team. The right team always consists of those who believe in your product and not those that are motivated by greater incentives such as money/fame etc. Candidates with the right skill set in a given. But always choose those who bring in the same amount of dedication, passion and believe as you. Choose wisely. A good team and be a deal maker or a deal breaker.

3) Test your product – AAP went around the streets of Delhi testing their models of ‘Swaraj’ – or decentralization of power. Similarly, they tested the grounds for each of their product feature such as cheaper electricity and water. After very carefully assessing each feature of their product did they move ahead on it in the rest of Delhi.
Lesson to be learnt: Test your product and each of its features again and again for real customer validation. Don’t sit idle with your product thinking and hoping this is what people wanted and that we have given it to them. Keep checking and testing until you hit the spot bang on.

4) Listen to customers – and listen to them early on. Through the many gatherings, sabhas, mediums such as twitter, Facebook, radio etc., AAP listened to what their customers wanted. For eg., women safety. And they were quick in implementing it into their list of features thereby only strengthening the product and its demand.
Lesson to be learnt: Stay in touch with potential customers throughout. Listen to each of them carefully and try your best to solve their problem. This can very often be the most important differentiating factor of your product.

5) Branding and Brand Elements – AAP chose the name of its party very carefully. Also their party symbol ‘Jhaadu’. All slogans, taglines and the Gandhi cap were all very integral to its brand building because each brand element made a connect with its target audience, i.e, the middle class.
Lesson to be learnt: Building a great product is not enough. As the co-founder it is your job to design your brand elements correctly, to create the highest impact. Naming of the product/company matters too. Pay very close attention to your positioning. How is it unique, or how it is different from the existing competition. A great product will not sell on its own. Pay attention to such details.

6) Learn sales and marketing – AAP did not just rely on the professionals to take care of their sales and marketing. But sales and marketing was right from the beginning an integral part of all its members. They recognized each member as a brand ambassador of the party with the CEO at its helm. AK himself was always the leader of all their campaigns.
Lesson to be learnt: The founders can never think or assume (especially engineers) that sales and marketing can be left to professionals that they can hire. It is important for them to first master their own craft and may be then leave it to professionals. If you don’t know much about sales or marketing then LEARN. No excuses!

7) Learn PR early on – AAP was in constant touch with the media. Had its PR strategy been weak or ignored, they would have never gained the traction they got from free media. Whether AK was a poster boy for the media or later on the villain they could bash, he always stayed in news. He did his part, and the rest followed.
Lesson to be learnt: Many feel that traditional PR can be ignored until you establish yourself as a major player in your domain. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the founder or co-founder it is your job to establish a great PR connection early on. If people write about you it is always great. You cannot ignore the importance of this. EVER!

8) Be Frugal – AAP was very frugal in its expenses. They operated out of small residences converted to offices. AK drove a Wagon-R till about recently. They curtailed all sorts of unnecessary spending.  No swanky offices like the established players. No chauffer driven cars. No fancy and expensive advertising.
Lesson to be learnt: BE FRUGAL! It will increase your chances of survival. Stay bootstrapped for as long as possible. Cut down on all and every unnecessary spending. Successful partnerships and business dealing need not happen in a Café Coffee Day. The roadside tea stall can be just as great. Build frugality into your DNA.

9) Bringing in Investors – Now AAP did not look out for donations immediately after launching their party even though they were open to it. They started seeking full-fledged funding (in this case Crown Funding) only after testing the market thoroughly for their product. After being sure that people were indeed ready to buy their product (in this case, vote them to power) only then did they expect real funding.
Lesson to be learnt: Investors come on board only when you have a kickass product and an established customer base. Focus first on building the right product and then on finding customers who are willing to pay. Investors will, if at all, only come then. No investor puts money on ideas which have not been implemented.

10) Learn when to scale up – Immediately after winning the Delhi elections in 2013, AAP started scaling up immensely. They thought they could win the Lok Sabha elections too. And we all know how that turned out.
Lesson to be learnt: After the successful launch of your product, do not immediately aspire to scale up. Make your fundamentals strong. Capture your home market first. Then scale up organically. You will have success stories to tell and a huge satisfied customer base who will gladly do the selling for you. Do not scale up too soon.

12) Course Correction/ Back to Basics/ Scale Down – After its dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections, the group was quick to get back to basics and focus only on the home market. They focused on their strengths and scaled down equally quickly so that they don’t lose the existing market and its customers. They gave this existing market all their energy and heart. They worked relentlessly in trying to win them back.
Lesson to be learnt: Scaling up is not just a huge risk but also an art. Do not try to scale up a business too soon. However, if you do and burn your fingers, be quick to correct your course. Focus on making customers happy. As they say ‘A happy customer is the best marketer’. This may mean giving personalized attention to some of your good customers and going the extra mile to appease to them. But do it. It is your business. If you don’t know one else will. This will pay huge dividends when you see your business grow.

13) Focus not just on good content but also its distribution- Yes, again! AAP chose every channel of marketing. They left no stone unturned. Twitter for tweeters, Facebook for facebookers, radio for those who drive cars a lot, newspapers, flyers, press releases, posters, branding on autos, Delhi Dialogues and what not. Point is they could reach out to every customer where they were, when they were.
Lesson to be learnt: Once you have your product ready and at least a few interested customers try to acquire a critical mass of your audience by providing solid content. Keep in mind that your customer will engage with you when they want, how they want and where they want. It is your job to be present across all mediums. It takes 27 impressions of a brand before a consumer put the brand into its consideration list. Be present everywhere. And more importantly, be consistent with your message.

‘A must Read from Quora…’

Feb 22, 2016 - Ankur Mishra, INDIA, Politics    No Comments

Mr. Modi Please think about India not about your Chai Shop

I miss those days when PMs would be considerate enough to at least issue a statement in a situation of crisis… statements that were not about *them*, that is.
It’s not people but Mr Modi who still seems far from getting over the fact that his chai-serving days are over and as India’s Prime Minister, there are better, bigger things he ought to be saying.

I beg you PM Sir, Please think about India not about your Chai Shop.

Just read this Story in ABP News:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday alleged that disgruntled NGOs and black-marketeers were conspiring to destabilize the government and “defame” him and asserted that he will not bow to any machinations.

He said “some people” were not able to digest the fact that a “chai wala” (tea seller) has become the Prime Minister and hence were conspiring all the time to bring him down.

“You would have seen in the recent past, there is attack on me all the time. Some people are continuously at it. They are not able to digest how Modi became the Prime Minister, how a ‘chai wala’ became the Prime Minister, they cannot swallow it,” a combative Modi said addressing a farmers’ rally here.

Without naming anybody or any specific instance, he said he had taken some steps because of which “these people are facing problems”.

He made the remarks while talking about the neem-coating of urea being done to avoid its pilferage and routing to chemical factories like in the past.

“Since we have done neem coating, will those chemical factories which were looting not be angry with Modi? If something is against Modi, will they not help it? Will they not shout against Modi,” he asked the gathering.

The Prime Minister said that NGOs receive money from foreign countries and his government was seeking the account.

“We said let it come but give account of the funds received. The moment we started asking for accounts, they all got together and said ‘Modi ko Maaro’, ‘Modi ko Maaro’ (hit Modi), he is seeking accounts from us,” he said and asserted that “the country needs to know where the money that comes in is being spent. It is in the law.”

He said since the government started asking for accounts, “they all (NGOs) got together and have been conspiring all the time how to finish Modi, how to remove Modi government and how to defame Modi.

“But my dear brothers and sisters, you have elected me to cure the country of this disease and I am doing this.

“Whatever they may say against me, I am not going to deviate from the path of the work you have entrusted me. I am not going to stop, or get tired and there is no question of bowing to it.”

The Prime Minister said he knows what is “irritating” and “pinching” his detractors but “we will not allow the country to be looted or destroyed.”

Behave like a Prime Minister not like a Chai wala.

Feb 20, 2016 - Ankur Mishra, INDIA, Politics    No Comments

What is it that we are protecting when we stop ideas from flowing?

Ideas are in evolution. Regulating dissent makes a dangerous, arrogant assumption that ideas held currently have no way of evolving further.

If ideas remained stagnant, politics would still be inside kings’ palaces, economics would still be the barter system, religion would still teach us that the sun goes around the earth.

If ideas remained stagnant, India would still be a non-existent, pre-British entity, which was never meant to be, made up of several kingdoms that wouldnever have a reason to get united under one name.

If ideas remained stagnant, the ancient gods would still be relevant, as much as you might expect today’s gods to remain relevant in religion two millennia later.

If ideas remained stagnant, we would still worship the king as the one appointed by God to protect us.

If ideas remained stagnant, we would still defend untouchability as part of our culture.

What is it that we are protecting when we stop ideas from flowing? Are we protecting ideas that will anyway decay away in few centuries’ time, to get replaced by new ideas?

Very few ideas pertaining to politics, societies, laws, religion have survived the test of time. Yet, these are the aspects of life we believe we know the best about based on our current understanding.

Feb 16, 2016 - Ankur Mishra, INDIA, Politics    No Comments

How can they ask for Azaadi despite India taking care of them for decades now

“Our tax-money is funding the studies of these JNU students.”

For one, you are probably forgetting/overestimating how much monthly tax you actually pay. Your taxes are paying for a LOT of things, many of them being facilities that you and your dependents use everyday. The tax-money being spent on their education is probably a fraction of the total spend by the government on various things, many of them undisclosed (you seem oddly okay with that).

“Look what these students are doing instead of focusing on research. Complete waste of my tax-money.”

India has a generally weak research culture when it comes to academia, JNU is among the few good institutions actually contributing in that area. So please be assured, these students are doing what they went there for. So if your tax-money is meant to contribute to nation-building through education, then you can calm down.



(PHOTO: via WSJ Blogs)


“But why do they have to get involved in politics and all, leave that to politicians. Wasting my tax-money.”

Alright, first, SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR TAX MONEY. Secondly, you are scared. You are scared like the colonisers were scared if their colonised people rose in disagreement, scared like the money-launderers were scared about contractually trapped peasants and farmers getting educated. Education is the enablement of an individual to find his/her own voice. You and your taxes have not bought those students, and they have every right (and maybe even responsibility) to pursue or support a cause they believe in.

“How can they ask for Azaadi despite India taking care of them for decades now.”

I don’t know. I haven’t lived their life. I don’t know what it is like to grow up and live in fear every other day. Since I don’t know I find it best for them to decide what they think will be best for them. India has not done them any favour. They have not sat in their homes eating chips bought with your taxes. They have contributed to the nation as much, if not more, and lived in circumstances the rest of the nation only read or heard about. India, the political entity, has “kept” Kashmir for political reasons, stop pretending you don’t know that.

“But my taxes…”

Shut up, dude!


Mukesh Bansal has logged out of Flipkart, time for a new a Start Up

Fire your boss, do what you love and work better to live awesome. Agree ?

Weeks after the top-level rejig at Flipkart, its head of commerce and publicizing business Mukesh Bansal has put in his papers. Flipkart’s Chief Business Officer Ankit Nagori has likewise stopped the firm to begin an entrepreneurial endeavor in the games area. Interestingly, Flipkart fellow benefactors Sachin and Binny Bansal are the main financial specialists in his new organization.

“Mukesh Bansal, Head of Commerce Platform, Flipkart is moving out of his active role to be an advisor to the company. Mukesh has played a huge role in making Myntra the number one fashion destination and helped build a strong platform at Flipkart,” ~ Flipkart

A computer science graduate from IIT-Kanpur, Bansal founded Myntra in 2007.  He sold Myntra to Flipkart in one of the largest M&A deals in the Indian e-commerce space. While neither companies had disclosed the deal size, it was estimated to be worth about Rs. 2,000 crore.

Mukesh Bansal’s departure is one of the most high-profile exits yet for Flipkart, which is competing head-on with Amazon and Snapdeal for a larger share of the booming Indian online retail industry. Binny Bansal will now directly oversee the commerce and advertising platforms.

Some Interesting tweets:

Mukesh Bansal quits FlipKart. He has 30 days to change his mind as per FlipKart’s return policy. ~Ramesh Srivats

Mukesh Bansal set to leave Flipkart. It’s official. #watchthisspace this entrepreneur will come up with something new soon enough :) ~Abha Bakaya


Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.46.41 AM


Feb 6, 2016 - Ankur Mishra, Politics    No Comments

Social Media Debates on Politics: Useless or not?

There are self-proclaimed rationalists on social media who utterly disregard social media debates based on political roots. They say it’s almost always inconclusive and therefore, it’s a sheer wastage of time. But before we delve deeper into facts, it should be made clear that when we say social media debates, it actually means healthy social media debates. Unhealthiness is not only useless, it’s morbid as well!

Let’s start our analysis with the most basic ailment namely, lack of awareness towards political digests! Politics has been reduced to a pastime of the old & the elderly, and its foray into youths’ circles is a fairly recent phenomenon. There are many others who don’t give a darn to politics; for them it’s all soil and water. Even the ones who keep on ranting in public to garner support for their affiliates, are not there by choice. In fact, most of them have been dragged from Anna Movement into political arena, thanks to the radical changes in the India’s political scenario over the last two years. Before that majority of them were corrupt apolitical thugs speaking out against corruption by government.

Although we don’t have many elaborate surveys on ‘youth in politics’ like the western countries, a crude data from CSDS is sufficient to give an understanding of the current situation. The study claims that the percentage of youths interested in politics has increased from 46% in 1996 to 71% in 2011. Going by the stats, we can say that Rahul Gandhi’s ‘youth in politics’ ostinato is definitely gaining ground. But these are also the people who are half aware of the facts or passive participants in system, and a misguided zeal at this age could prove abysmal for the country. Therefore, social media debates essentially provide them with a platform to have meaningful discussions. No doubt these could be inconclusive but they render their utility by letting youths know the different perspectives of people from various cultural, religious, educational and economic backgrounds.

It is becoming increasingly important to enlighten them via social media route since our smartphone generation hardly believes in socializing. There’s still a large fraction of youths who use social media purely due to sensual considerations; they deserve to be pulled out of nescience. Vigilance and awareness in a democratic system applies to youths more than it does to the senior citizens. This is because youths are the cogs of Indian economy, they will determine where India will stand tomorrow and therefore, we can’t ignore this educated workforce.

We all know how online activism has been shaping the future course of policing in the country over the past few years. Today, we don’t necessarily need to come out on roads under the scorching heat of sun with seditious banners and ready-to-be-immolated effigies to make a change. The world can be changed from the comfort of our rooms just as our netas run the country by playing pepper-knife in the Parliament. Social media could be a great place to send them a message in order to pursue them to allay methods of destruction of public property & other forms of violence to give way to more meaningful & responsible protests. Youths can’t afford to be careless; they are not politicians, for God’s sake. An undirected bullet can fetch disastrous outcomes; its energy needs to be harnessed using a target-oriented approach.

People need to realize that there are two types of media in India viz., social media & paid media. This brings to life the analogy, once drawn by Mark Twain. “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” Social media is still largely unregulated and therefore, it is perhaps the only medium which permits adulterated as well as unadulterated content to be published without curtailment. Under exceptions, paid media only publishes the former.

So, debates are good and debates are must. Their utility is not affected by their indecisiveness. They usually achieve what they are meant to, by reaching out to as many people as possible. While it does require a full-fledged mental sieving process to assess the veracity of content posted publically, social media should still be preferred as it at least gives us the option to choose between right and wrong!