Posts Tagged ‘Recession’

I had spent the whole day at IIT Mumbai, at the Entrepreneurship Summit (more on that, in a separate post later). I had heard entrepreneurs talking about the recession and the tough times, and survival and cost cutting and what not.

And then, in the evening, I went to Phoenix Mills, to see a movie a the new PVR Cinemas 7-screen multiplex there. And being there, it felt like a different world! You’d wonder what those guys were talking in the day?? Recession? Where’s the recession?!

It was full of people. People who were shopping. People eating at the various food joints there. Having their ice creams and the expensive coffees. The new very large parking lot was full. I had to drive up to the 4th level before I could find a spot. The PVR cinma screens with 225/- a ticket and 70/- for popcorn (just to give an idea) was doing roaring business. As was the large extremely well located, well lit, attractive Croma store, selling all kind of electroncs.

The whole Phoenix Mills complex holds a special fascination for me. We moved in to our first office in Lower Parel, for (my first startup venture) in 1999. This office was bang opposite of Phonenix Mills. And during those days for Web 1.0 in India, there were plenty occasions for us to cross the road and go to the Phoenix Mills, for food or for bowling or just for a change. At that time, the only places that were worth going to, were the CO Bowling Co, with its Sports Bar (and where they served a good lunch) and Soul Curry, a quaint little restaurant there.

And then, as we spent from 1999 to 2007 in Lower Parel (we changed offices once, but it was right there too), we kept going across to the Phoenix Mills, at least once a week, on an average.

And we saw the transformation happen before our very eyes. Big Bazaar came, and Barista, and Planet M, and McDonalds, and Bombay Blues, and Noodle Bar, and Spaghetti Kitches, and Natural Ice Cream, etc. etc. etc. The traffic increased. There were “events” in the quadrangle in the central open area. Suddenly people were all over the place. It started taking more and more time to cross the road!! In between there were a couple of ‘incidents’ – some accidents, with workers dying too. Work slowed down, but then the Ruias managed to get things under control and work resumed. And more changes happened.

All in all, if was very fascinating to see the transformation of an old textile mill into a thriving consumer hub.

Now, there is just SO MUCH happening there, that you could pretty much get LOST!

And lost I almost was yesterday, trying to find my car back in the parking lot.

But not before seeing a society that was apparently not aware of the recession, or was not affected by it, or was living in complete denial!!

Okay, so the economic crisis gave way to the Mumbai terror attack, in as far as the centre stage of news is concerned. But the challenges of the current times have not gone away.

Raw material values skidding to reduce credit limits of companies and making value-added production becoming unviable.

Reduction of US and global pickup hurting exporters in spite of the favorable currency.

Job losses in IT and ITeS (large emplyers) sectors, due to serious US downturn.

High priced real estate not getting bought, developers defaulting on payments, leading to cascading crisis.

Stock markets, the mood indicator for the masses, continuing to flounder, and not giving any hope of an early recovery.

Empty cinema halls, malls, restaurants, hotel rooms.

Huge drop in advertising rates. Reduced newspaper sizes, especially the appointments pages, clearly indicative of job losses.

NO! I am not trying to be a doomsday messenger. But all of the above, and many others, are realities of the day.

And yet, I am staggered to see umpteen statements coming out that say, “…… is recession proof”. Replace the blank with any of Entertainment / F & B / India (yeah!!) or whatever you like to. And the statement will be in the press.

Who are we trying to kid? Movies and entertainment are recession proof? On the first Saturday, after release, the big budget Yuvraaj was playing to 20% occupancy. Food stalls, the big buck earners in multiplexes, are running low queues. Discounts to the extent of 35% on ticket prices have been offered (check out

Its a seriousl connected world now, snowballing factors have cascading consequences that impact one and all. Anyone talking about India not being affected, or all is well, is living in a fantasy world.

Living in denial has never helped anyone. It is important and necessary to face facts, and confront them.

What is clearly required today, is what is referred to as the Stockdale Paradox, and quoted and explained brilliantly by Jim Collins:

“Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

AND at the same time

Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”