Thursday, January 13, 2011

People on Wobbly Bridges

This article essentially relates the Millennium Bridge incident to the behavioral aspect of we the human beings and relates it to aspects of behavioral finance. A nice read to go through, I enjoyed reading it.

London Millennium Footbridge , was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth on June 10, 2000 . On that day the bridge was included in a charity walk on behalf of “Save the Children” . Approximately 90000 people were participating in the walk and were eager to be among the first ones to step on this engineering marvel. Design of this bridge was result of a competition organized in 1996 , inviting everyone to  come up with a design which would mark the beginning of the new millenium . The winning entry was an innovative “blade of light” design, not very different from the ones seen in movies like Star Wars. The construction began in 1998 and two years and 18.5 million pounds after, it was opened for public use. Before the bridge was opened, designers hailed it as “a pure expression of engineering structure” and engineers called it “an absolute statement of our capabilities at the beginning of the 21st century.”
But what transpired on the opening day proved to be an eloquent argument for the  need to assimilate  human behavior in to any design, be they engineer structures, regulatory frameworks of markets, social networks, curriculum design in educational institutions etc. This might seem a bit farfetched; however I hope to present a convincing argument to prove my point using the example of Wobbling Millennium Bridge.

Here is what happened: close to 90000 people crossed the bridge that day, approximately 2000 people walking on it at any given point of time. Within minutes of official opening, the footbridge started to vibrate and sway alarmingly, forcing some pedestrians to clutch the railings. Authorities closed the bridge for the day. Next day when it was reopened, with a strict limit on number of pedestrian crossing it at the same time, it began to shake again. The bridge was shut again. It was reopened two days later but with the same result, and the source of wobble a mystery, the bridge was closed for indefinite period.
A few suspected the foundation of the bridge, others an unusual pattern of air. But the real problem was “positive feedback phenomenon” also known as Synchronous Lateral Excitation. When hundreds of people streamed over the bridge, the bridge began to sway just slightly. To adjust to this slight swaying motion of the bridge, people adjusted their gait, walking like ice skaters, planting their feet wide and pushing out to side with each step, left-right-left in near perfect unison. This is the basic way human maintain their balance. It is achieved by changing the position of foot placement for each step, based only on the final displacement and speed of the centre of mass from the previous step. The initial slight wobbling of the bridge forced the pedestrian to alter their gait to achieve balance and all began walking in unison, transferring further energy to the swaying motion of the bridge. Naturally swaying motion of the bridge intensified.
What does it have to do with financial markets or curriculum designs of educational institutes? Most of the time markets are calm, transactions are orderly and participants can buy and sell in large or small quantities without affecting the market. But when the crisis hits, the biggest players – banks, hedge funds, financial institutions-rush to reduce their exposure. Buyers disappear. Where previously –before the crisis- there was diverse views on the movement of the market, suddenly one finds almost perfect unanimity, everybody’s moving in lockstep. This process becomes self enforcing. All the virtuous elements of the market – diverse points of views, large number or buyers or sellers- disappear. Like pedestrians on the bridge everyone adjusts to the swaying motion of the market by moving in lockstep.
Though the movement of pedestrian on the bridge is biological phenomenon , to regain balance on the swaying bridge pedestrians had to adjust their gait in similar ways, however disappearance of diverse views in markets has cognitive and psychological aspects.
On calmer days, ostensibly, diverse viewpoints are present in the market but their origin has less to do with genuine difference of opinions and more to do with difference in risk appetite of participants. Hedge funds typically have higher tolerance for risk as compared to a commercial bank. However the theory being used to measure the risk by different participants is almost the same. Almost similar assumptions underlie the models of investment used by all market participants.
The reason of small clutch of theories being used by all participant, stem from the curriculum design of the educational institutes. Most institutes recommend and use same text books to students for the fear of being labeled as inferior to other institutes. What follows is the classic case of regression to the mean. Each institute compares it’s curriculum with other institutes. And industry professionals while interviewing a prospective employee , ask questions based on the theories and model they studied during their student days, which in the case of finance has barely changed in last two decades. Other management disciplines like marketing and branding do not really fare any better.
So financial market participant while measuring the risk, essentially use the similar theories and models, therefore risk assignment to various scenarios is more or less the same, but the risk appetite may differ. From here it doesn’t take much to understand why market participant begin behaving like a herd at the first whiff of crisis. What we really need is the encouragement for diversity of opinion at school and college levels. The best bet for stability is simply the presence of different opinions on the same set of events and information.
Anand Mishra
Assistant Professor


    Saturday, October 2, 2010


    Of What composite this man was made of ? Just imagine a piece of khadi on the body, a stick in his hand and even the mighty Britishers were afraid of him. Non-violence and peace were his major weapons that he gave to the world which no armour in this world can take on. Simplicity was in his every action which even earned him the name MAHATMA, first honoured by Rabindra Nath Tagore. Well no prize for guessing as you all know I am talking about our very own bapu, the father of the nation,Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi famously known as Mahatma Gandhi by the world.
    As nation greets bapu on his 141st birthday in the language of the news channels, just ask deep inside your heart do we really care than just mere celebrating this as a holiday? This is a big question which i am asking and the answer needs deep thinking. Facts in our country has always been produced by various sources and in mutilated manner as per the requirement but for god's sake please don't close your eyes and just forget what people like him and many others have given this country. Its on their past that our present is build and its on our present that the future of the coming generations is going to be build.
    We in the Hindu Mythology normally believe that our ancestors after leaving this world are watching us from the heaven with equal emotions and sense of attachment. If this is true then think what bapu would be feeling on the irony of his children. He never dreamt of a free India like this where people have been fighting in the name of mandir -masjid. He might have never thought this country would not be able to host the Commonwealth (British Empire) in the country which forced these Britishers to leave and attained our birthright freedom.

    Please lets all stood up for this father of the nation. Lets forget all our woes. Lets build a mandir and masjid together and present this world a clear show of harmony. I at this point would certainly like to criticise the media for its detrimental reporting in both cases of CWG and Ayodhya. The day after the verdict when I read the newspaper the first heading 2 to Hindus and 1 part to Muslims clearly differentiate the all and believe me it sends down a negative feeling. In the case of Commonwealth as well it was good to be critique about the work in the earlier stages but when the games were near your shabby reporting might have stopped several tourists coming to India just because you did not present the other side of the story. Its always easy to find a wrong doing than a positive thing.

    All is good if it ends well, and this is the time when CWG is just few hours away from the moment I am writing it. Lets make these games a huge success. The onus lies with us too. Lets gift our father of the nation by presenting him India's might in organising these games with humbleness of "Athithi Devo Bhavha" and then later on coming together to build a temple and mosque in the same fashion as the city of Varanasi possess near Kashi Vishwanath Mandir. It is my humble request to all don't let tears roll down the cheeks of the father of the nation other wise this burden of his tears would become unbearable by us.

    Jai Hind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thursday, September 30, 2010


    With days in and out of sheer hard work, and the 1st trimester coming to an end this was the perfect gift for all. A Gift, perfectly timed to refresh ourselves just two weeks before the exams. Well without more jiggery-pokery I would just like to raise the curtain from the non other than the JINDAL GLOBAL BUSINESS SCHOOL’S first ever cultural fiesta, the extravaganza; ‘RAGE

    ‘RAGE’ what sort of a name is it for the cultural fiesta? That is what most of you might be thinking. Well we have answers for that, yes it is true that rage means anger but it also means violent, madness and above all very popular. Believe me, we did put all our anger of not getting enough sleep, our madness to excel in whatever we do and in the days to come this will become very popular across the globe and when all these things blend together then the outcome is


    The RAGE 2010 was a complete entertainment and refreshing package. It was a more sort of a Business Extravaganza than the Cultural Extravaganza. The reason was simple business is in each and every action of Jindal’s and that is why we even played our plays with business touch, even laughed making fun of business terms that we learnt in the class. What’s adds to this fun was it was the teachers coming to the stage shaking their legs on bollywood numbers like Zooby Dooby. The whole atmosphere was electrifying with claps from audience assisting the singers and dance moves by all totally rocking the whole auditorium. It was a whole hearted effort of each and every one of us and that too just in a span of two days.

    The event came with surprise as of discovering some great talents from the student fraternity but also knowing some great talent of our teachers. It was this madness and violent participation of ours that completely justifies the RAGE and helps me concludes that WATCH OUT WORLD ITS GOING TO GET EVEN BIGGER DAY BY DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    How Apples came to India?

    Hi all,

    I am really sorry for not continuously writing up on the blog. Sooner i will come with my own views on some relevant topics but today i found something very interesting while browsing the web and would like to share with you all. Kindly have a look.


    Samual Evan Stokes was the person who introduced apple crop in the hills around Shimla

    Having earned the fame as "Apple State", Himachal Pradesh is poised to claim the distinction of being a fruit state not only in the country but worldwide. But very few people really know how apple came in India and whose effort have provided us with the sweet and delicious apple we eat now days. Samual Evan Stokes was the person who introduced apple crop in the hills around Shimla.

    Samual came to India with a doctor couple-Mr and Mrs Carleton - who were working with the Leprosy Mission of India. He wanted to work for mission in India. For his decision, he faced a lot of opposition from his family because he was the heir to the family's prosperous business of elevators. But young Stokes was determined and his family relented to let him follow his heart and Samuel landed in Bombay on the February 26, 1904. His voluntary work with the Leprosy Mission started in Sabatoo (what was then Punjab). But the extreme weather conditions forced Samual to take rest at Kotgarh church and recuperate. There, he explored the surrounding hills and the trail that was the old Hindustan-Tibet road. And soon he found himself in love with nature. He decided to spend rest of his life at Thanedar, called the "Mistress of the Northern Hills" by Rudyard Kipling. He married a Rajput-Christian woman called Agnes on September 12, 1912.

    Shimla ApplesThough Captain R C Scot of the British army had introduced the Newton Pippin, King of Pippin and the Cox's Orange Pippin apples to the Kullu valley in 1870, but they were strains of the English sour apples that were not popular because of their taste. During those days, sweet apples were imported from Japan to meet the demand of the Indian market.

    Delicious ApplesIt was during a visit to America in 1915 that Samuel Stokes heard about the new strain of apples patented by the Stark Brothers nursery in Louisiana called the Red Delicious. He bought a few saplings and planted them at his Barobagh orchard in Thanedar in the winter of 1916. Five years later his mother sent him a consignment of saplings of the Stark Brothers Golden Delicious Apples as a Christmas gift. The first apples bore fruit a few years later and were sold in 1926.

    They were an instant hit. The divinely sweet taste and the inviting colour had the Indian market going crazy over them. Their popularity even spurred locals into planting Apples, rather than their usual crops of potato and plums. Soon the demand for the Kotgarh apples sky-rocketed and orchards cropped up all over the valley of Himachal Pradesh, to meet this demand.

    It is from these first few saplings that the sweet delicious Apples of Shimla and the Golden Delicious of Kinnaur became popular and Himachal Pradesh grew to become one of the largest producers of the fruit.

    Nandini Mittal, AIR Correspondent, Shimla

    Monday, August 9, 2010


    To witness and become proudly associated with such feelings is what just makes you dumbstruck. I am out of words to express it. Well I am not narrating any suspense story and I am in full mood to provide you with the curtain raiser of what I am talking about?
    Well guys I am talking about hoisting of our national flag. So, most of you must be thinking what’s new about it? The new part is that recently on 7th August 2010 our university i.e. O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat has become the proud owner of India’s tallest National Flag with the flag post being approx. 207ft high. The hoisting of such a huge flag by maintaining its dignity was really a tough work which was carried out very smoothly. It was hoisted by Mrs. Savitri Jindal. Even the wind came out to help in hoisting of the symbol of the world’s largest democracy. The journey of the flag to the top of the flag post was marked with the national anthem and the whole thing was just phenomenal. The feeling of just standing near to such a huge symbol of our patriotism was just inexpressible. The proper lighting arrangements made it look even more beautiful during the night time. I was missing my camera at this very moment and will soon upload the original photo. Any one if gets some time; do visit our campus especially during the night time to experience this splendid beauty of our flag. Well I take this opportunity to thank our chancellor Mr. Naveen Jindal because of whose efforts it would not have been possible for any Indian to show his passionate love for his/her country in this form. Kudos to you sir!

    As promised here is the photo of one of the  tallest flag pole in Asia along with the tricolour. Photography by Ankur Saraswat.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    THE FORGOTTEN FATHER-Architect of Child's Future

    The saga of Mother’s divine love bestowed on her child has been sung by a number of people, a number which is beyond expectation, beyond imaginations. But most of these sagas I found incomplete because there’s something missing in this lot. I won’t leave you all with a fill in the missing digit kind of a thing; the answer is simply-“the father child bonding”. The nurturing of a child into a human in progress is just incomplete if either of the one is missing. Both of these are two sides of a coin if one are missing then the other is incomplete without it. There is one fact that had been found to be true upto a certain extent that normally a boy finds greater bonding with his mom and a girl to her father. May be some of you would love to comment on this.

    Almost all of you and especially the movie buffs must have watched the story of the dyslexic boy presented by the perfectionist Aamir Khan i.e. Taare Zameen Par. If you remember the scene where Darsheel bunks the school and goes on to a tour of the city, he stops near the shop of an ice man. While having his part of ice-candy, what makes him forget his melting ice is the love of a father. The father with his child sitting on his shoulders just came to buy an ice-candy to fulfil the wish of his dear son.

    Perhaps, one reason why these lots have been missing the father thing is the inert volcano of love and emotions that the male gender of the so called Homeo Homeo Sapiens possess. The level of inertness is very high as compared to the female gender so nobody could see what is going on inside. Sometimes, due to this, their actions even seem to be stern and one of an emotionless person but actually they are bound by the love of building the future of their own child.

    I myself have been flooded with such kinds of thought, as if I have been punished. But these so called punishments always put me way ahead in this day to day race of finding success in the journey called life. I often used to remember how I used to get irritated when my father used to give the task of writing any official letter like for bank, gas connection etc. But those writing punishments turned out to be a boon which has been experienced by me during my hostel life and probably more is yet to come. During childhood, making me stand in long queues before the reservation counter taught me how to get the reservation done when internet ticketing was not prevalent. All these things came to be understood to me with the passage of time during my progressive journey as a human and it’s good to learn with your experience than by anyone’s preaching. A preaching can be erased by brain wash but an experience is inerasable from one’s life. Life (time) is said to be the greatest teacher which teaches everything.

    My father used to chid me certain times on my wrong doings but I was unable to notice how with advent of time, this chiding turned into friendly talking. This was the time that the aforementioned volcanoes used to start erupting abruptly, time and again, in a discontinuous fashion. May be if this eruption would have occurred earlier in a son’s life, then these sagas would not have been remained untold, or, perhaps, if they wouldn’t have turned rock solid our future might not have been brighter and complacent like this.

    The motive of writing this just after my first blog is clearly that I don’t want to repeat mistakes which history has made repeatedly and like to pay my gratitude to my pops for his continuous and ever confidence boosting support and like you all to join this campaign before it’s too late to repent what you could have possibly done.

    If you repeat the history, then don’t forget that one day you too will become history, may be. with the same mistake tried and tested on you.

    So, I would just end up with these lines





    Sunday, July 11, 2010


    Almost everyone once in his life had a fracture or normal hairline bone crack and the pain had been surely devastating. Now, just imagine yourself in a situation with 20 bones broken and the pain you are supposed to bear. Rather tough, don't want to imagine! What's impossible for us to imagine is what a woman has to face for giving birth to a child i.e. 57 Del pain. The reason, clearly, why a mother is treated just next to god for her divine love for her child and just for that love to see her child, her soul, she could go beyond all barriers and fight even with god. Such is the purity of this bonding of love.

    All the pain that she bore just changes into happiness with just a glimpse of her child. I guess like me nobody would remember how one used to cry in the laps of his/her mother and how just by hearing us cry, maa could sense our needs, our hunger etc. One medium of crying and so many needs were fulfilled, what a bonding we share with mom is just simply beyond reason or imagination.

    From first cry till the one speaks, from crawling to first walk, it’s her charismatic touch and love that has been bestowed on us and it’s not the end but it is the beginning of such a beautiful journey of her cherub to becoming a human in progress till the last breath.

    From the Indian Mythology, I hail Kaikyeen also as a great mother because what she did was out of love as a fear for the future of her sons as injected into her mind by Manthra, but it was her first teaching/institution that conquered her fear and the outcome of this teaching was Bharat’s concern for his brothers.

    Somebody truly said and I fully concur with this view that a mother is the first and the greatest teacher in anybody’s life and no one can match her teachings. She is the first institution from where a child learns. The moral values, the transformation of a child into a good human being, is carried out by this architect of God only, who not sacrifices her dreams as a human being but sometimes even feed her child by just cutting her share for the meal. The roadsides of India clearly show some heart melting views with mothers feeding their child with great pain and toll on her body, and yet they make up their child sleep by singing sonnet for them. With the growing of child this sonnet singing turns into story telling.

    I often remember some stories that used to be told by my mother so that I should eat, and with immense concentration and happiness I used to hear them. All these stories were instantly prepared and narrated by her like, me sitting on the back on the motor bike with my elder cousin and we both are chasing for some criminal like Tom and Jerry show and then suddenly she would say “ab pehle ye wala kaur khao’’ and then again I used to say “phir” and this process used to continue until I used to finish my food. Now, when I think about this, it looks like what I have experienced is truly unmatchable.

    The slightest problem I have till date, she could just make it out by talking to me and ask “if there is any problem”?-a true healer who just drives me out from all the problems. If I couldn’t talk to her a single day it seems something is missing today, may be my good luck charm.

    There in all your hearts, I truly believe their lives a beautiful lady, full of mercy and love- your mom, maa or mummy or by whatever name you used to call that angel just think about her for a minute and before it’s too late just pay your gratitude by thanking her for all she has done. I know some of you might feel that a thank you will make her love feel small. Well my friends it’s better to speak out your heart instead of carrying a guilt feeling for whole of your life and our mom will surely understand that this thank you is just a way of showing our love to her and we can’t match her contributions in our life.

    There are several things that happen first time first in a person's life and I am also just the same feeling while just jotting thoughts for the first post of this blog. As I am not perfect person so mistakes are bound to follow so please point out with your valuable suggestions for this human in the progress. The reason I choose to begin with this post is just a way of paying my gratitude to my lovely mother whom I will always remain grateful. I found myself several times speechless or out of words to write about this beautiful bonding of love but even then I tried with the abovementioned motive and I would like you all to join this campaign by just writing your memorable moments with your mom in the comments section.

    SO TIME TO SPEAK UP GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!