My Opinions


India received more than $100 billion of foreign aid between 1950 and 1990. Foreign aid was the only source of foreign currency as India did not have much to export that world wanted. Aid India Club met annually in Paris to make commitments so India would know how much to expect. Foreign currency was tightly controlled hence FERA and FEMA and famous $8 men, of which I am one.

Foreign Aid was the worst possible thing that could have happened. It enabled bad economic behavior to last far longer than would have been possible. It was the economic crisis of 1991 that forced the hand. Now, India has a close to a $500 Billion in foreign currency reserve. India has an IT industry of almost $300 Billion dollars.

1991 liberalization only dismantled the extremes of the license/permit Raj. Vajpayee government got back to liberalization when finance sector, aviation sector, automobile sector and telecom sectors were liberalized. The results were spectacular.

There is a lot more liberalization yet to be done. For India to emerge as an economic powerhouse it needs to back to that agenda.

Ben Rekhi
6 hrs · Quezon City, Philippines ·
Nov 8
A year since the world shifted on its axis
Since we watched the house of cards come crumbling down.
Since we entered an alternate universe.
Since the dark cloud blocked the sun.
A slap in the face.
Fake news.
What had been in the shadows reared it’s ugly head in the light of day.
Tempers flared. Friends were lost. Families divided.
Both sides flooded the streets.
Screaming too loud to hear each other.
Handcuffed on the sidelines while the kings pillaged the castle.
The clowns keep spilling out of the car.
And all we can tell ourselves is
This isn’t normal this isn’t normal this isn’t normal
But what is normal?
So now, a year on, I feel nothing but gratitude.
Grateful because without the darkness, I would have never seen the light.
Grateful because there’s no more confusion.
No more self-negotiation, no more wavering, no taking anything for granted.
Everything is crystal clear now.
What matters in life. What’s most important.
Peace. Love. Compassion.
I never thought I’d say this but
Thank you.
Because it’s back to basics. Here and now. Heart and soul.
Thankful that logic has failed us, and all we can do now is follow our hearts.
No more analyzing. No more strategy. No overthinking.
The lights are out and we’re just feeling our way forward.
So close your eyes and let the universe guide us.
Your intuition is a whisper.
You already know what you need to do.
You’ve always known.
And to those that think differently, I’m grateful to you too.
I know you have your reasons.
I’ve been listening and making every effort to understand.
And if I can’t, I still respect our differences.
We still have more in common than what separates us.
We all still work. We love, eat, and breathe.
Our circumstances are different.
But we are born into this world, walk on two legs, and die.
So let’s put the guns down and agree to disagree.
Thank you.
For waking me up.
For bringing out the best in me.
For reminding me of who I am.
For making me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt.
Your callousness makes me kind.
Your lies make me truthful.
Your hate makes me love.
It’s been a hell of a year.
And without even intending to,
You reminded us of our greatest gift.
Our ability to transcend our primal nature.
To rise above fear, hate and anger.
You reminded me what makes us human.
You reminded me of everything you’re not.
So as I think back to that night of shock and awe,
when the world changed in a matter of minutes,
when nothing made sense any more,
I feel nothing but gratitude.
You reminded me of life’s greatest lesson.
We can’t control what happens to us,
But we can control how we react.
We can choose peace.
We can choose love.
We can choose compassion.
So yes, god yes, its been a hell of a year…
But you know what?
… I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Now I know who I really am.
#staypositive #bethechange #oneyearstronger

Noorda and Novell Ray NoordaIMG_2431



Ray Noorda was the CEO of Novell. He had bought in to failing Novell Data System and had turned it around. He ditched all the proprietary hardware and software and focused on Network Operating System software and  file server software on standard PC hardware.  He shipped complete systems by OEMing hardware for servers and NIC (network boards) from third parties. Under his leadership Novell grew rapidly and emerged as the market leader.

Starting at roughly the same point in 1984, Novell by 1989 had gone three times as far as Excelan as far as revenue was concerned. It was even farther ahead in profits. Even though, I was very proud of what we had achieved at Excelan, it all paled when compared to Novel. This was very educational for me as I was very contemptuous of Novell’ low spending on R & D, only 3% of the revenue; Excelan was spending almost 20% on R & D. Excelan was very proud of its technology prowess. Excelan could network PCs, both Apple and IBM variety to UNIX machines of all types; it could also connect them to DEC mini-computers and IBM mainframes. All this using industry standards of TCP and Ethernet. Excelan was seen by its customers as a savior as they had been buying all sorts of computers for various jobs. Novel, however, was a big innovator in Sales and Marketing. Novell practically invented the tiered VAR channel (Authorized, Gold and Platinum). It developed a third party product certification program (Novell Labs); it developed an education program to train and certify Network Engineers (CNEs); it had its own trade show (Network World) and its own trade magazine (LAN Times). Novell did not give a damn about standards; it just focused on file sharing between the IBM PCs using a file servers using a proprietary protocols. As PC’s sales soared, so did the sales of NetWare.

Novell acquired Excelan in 1989. After the merger I joined Novell board and worked as EVP of Novell and its CTO. Right after the merger, Novell decided to get out of the hardware business all together. With a big infusion of technology from Excelan, Novell very quickly was able to position itself as an enterprise networking solution with its Netware 3.11; which provided file sharing between PCs, Mackintoshes, UNIX machines, DEC minicomputers and IBM mainframes. This was Nirvana for enterprises. By 1991, Novell sales, profits and stock prices were skyrocketing. Novell stock grew 10 fold in two years. Excelan shareholders and employees had done well. Merger was seen as made in heaven for them and I was seen as a genius by one and all.

I championed acquisition of UNIX from ATT and to sell binaries on the Standard hardware through Novell channels. Novell did acquire UNIX but company had always seen UNIX as an enemy. Even when it owned UNIX, it was not able to overcome its visceral hatred of the UNIX as UNIX effort was not Utah based. Ray was of two mind, he liked the idea of UNIX being commodotized but bowed to his NetWare troops.

At this juncture Novell toyed with an idea of merger with Microsoft. Several meetings took place and a deal was agreed to also. Microsoft’s acquisition of Fox-Pro database without talking to Ray first put a kibash to it. Ray had always hated Bill Gates; used to call him Pearly Gates. But after merger was called off, this hatred only grew. Ray acquired DR DOS to go after DOS franchise, just when Microsoft was successfully transitioning to Windows. He also tried to merge with Lotus; acquired; Wordperfect and Quatropro from Borland to come up with alternate bundle to Microsoft’s Office. All this defocused Novell, which had done well being being a tightly focused company.

Meanwhile NetWare team decided to upgrade to NetWare 4 without being backward compatible and without offering the broad connectivity that NetWare 3.11 had offered. NetWare 4 was a big flop. Novell went into a steady decline. It hired Bob Frankenberg from HP as its new CEO to replace Noorda. Bob was not up to the job. I left soon after that.

At the time of merger discussions Novell’s market capitalization was about $12 billion as against Microsoft’s $20 billion. Three years later, Novell’s market capitalization was about $2 billion, roughly the same as cash on its balance sheet. Microsoft’s had soared to $600 billion. Ray Noorda had in fact destroyed Novell by going after Microsoft for no good business reasons.

I learnt many lessons during my six years at Novell. First and foremost was about the value of focus, especially in R & D. My 20% investment in R & D exposed the weakness; Excelan was getting only $5 of revenue for every dollar it put in to R &D. A whole lot of unproductive engineering effort! Novell was getting $33 for every dollar it put in R & D. Second lesson was that a business is never too big to fail. A CEO with two minds sends very destructive messages to the organization as it starts an internal war.

Ray Noorda was a brilliant but a flawed man. He was seen by his Utah minions as a traitor for expanding out of Utah and buying UNIX and rest of us saw him way over his head when it really mattered.


Stanford and UC Berkeley are among the top 10 universities in the world. They are both in the Bay Area about 40 miles apart. But they are a world apart in their worldview. Stanford is a private University focused on excellence. Berkeley is much more focused on social justice.

Stanford churns out start-ups at a rapid pace. Google, Yahoo, Sun Microsystem, Cisco are a few of thousands Stanford start-ups. I can’t think of one of the top of my head as a Berkeley start-ups, though I am sure there are many out there.

I have been engaged with both of them for last 20 years, more so with Stanford than Berkeley. India’s telecom liberalization policy was forged at Stanford. Stanford runs an India Economic seminar every year. Berkeley is much more focused on cultural and political aspects of India.

Yesterday, Marc h 11th, I was at SIEPR’s annual economic summit at Stanford. It attracts top economists from all over. It had Larry Summers and Greg Manqiw of Harvard in attendance yesterday. They both have been the heads Council of Economic Advisers at the White House in a Democratic and Republican administrations. It also had Raj Chetty an up and coming economist of Stanford and formerly of Harvard. It was a delight to listen to arguments about the income inequality and its potential causes. Both left and right views were given an equal time.

Today, I was at Berkeley for a seminar titled “India under Modi”. I was a part of the panel on Digital Governance. I consider myself as a centrist with respect to BJP and Congress. May be not quite equidistant but I am distant from both parties. My observations that India a lot less corrupt now that it was when I was growing up and most of the petty corruption that one used to face on daily basis is mostly gone cam under instant barrage of attack. Most people had the dark (or darker) view of the technology. Digital technology under BJP is being used for nothing but nefarious purpose! Congress had a more benign view. I did not get to attend any other session but if my session is any indication, mind of the most people was made up before any debate.

Very interesting and stark contrast. Makes life very enjoyable in the Bay Area.