After my usual evening run, I usually decompress by sipping chai. The Chai and Sandwich upgraded tapri which I have been frequenting for the past couple of months has been a window into the slice of life moments. The soundscape is chirpy, located next to a jogging area and a prominent hospital. It is a melting pot of people from various backgrounds from paramedics to families.

The tapri is run by an industrious local micro businessperson, employing staff to support his chai business. Today he quipped during our chat, he did not understand whether his sales are making sense after selling three hundred cups at INR 10 per cup. So, I asked him a few questions.

What are your input costs daily?

He said,

Milk -1280 for a 20-liter pack, Chai Masala- 45, Tea- 200, Paper Cups Packet for cups: 200

This is about 1800 per day

And other costs:

Electricity: 10, 000/month, Gas: 2000/month,

Average: 400/Day

Manpower costs: 300/Day

Total costs per day then are approximately 2500 per day only from three hundred cups a day at 10 rupees. The margin for the owner is five hundred rupees only from cutting chai revenues.

He makes coffee, and other snacks which are his main income then.

He also sells cutting chai in a bigger cup at 20 rupees, which I partake. As a good Samaritan I suggested that he should increase the 20-rupee cup sale, as input costs remain the same, doubling the margins referencing a case study that I had read on increasing the toothpaste opening leading to more purchases, and greater daily use.

A ten-minute chat was an insight into bottom-up businesses that focus on cash in the pocket rather than valuations.


Learn for Learning Sake.

Learning for growth is about challenging yourself to explore the uncomfortable, the unknown in ways of seeing and ways of thinking, which is the spirit of the journey itself. Instead, assessment anxiety and optics demolish the fun in learning mostly.

As an embodied lifelong learner and training junkie, the incline itself trains one to think. The resume was always the last aspect on the agenda.

ESG on its own terms.

The crisis which ESG in the current avatar is of underperformance or at least the optics of it. ESG is not a monolith and has to be gauged on a sliding scale. The non-financial risk metrics are weak signals of material risks to be, which is a temperature check equivalent of something which might go wary. ESG itself needs to be assessed on its own terms rather than a proxy for the weight of our collective aspirations regarding climate change. ESG is a proxy for an aspect for which it is, it is a way of doing business the right way.

Power Dynamics Within ESG Ratings and Rankings

ESG is the flavor of the corporate zeitgeist for all kinds of drivers and is often treated as an acronym which might be a temperature check for ethics. Environment as a domain when double clicked on, leads to drop down menu of number of sub domains starting from climate change to biodiversity to waste management. Governance is a vast sea of knowledge of their own from anti-graft to board diversity to compensation matters.

As an environmental engineer who retrained as an ethnographer by reading PhD level coursework in Human Geography and Sociology while working on Policy Projects, the S is my area of expertise. However Social itself has several buckets from Health & Safety to DEI to BHR to Community Stakeholder Engagement to Inclusive Governance. Now a days i focus on responsible supply chains and modern slavery concerns including decolonizing HRDD.

The intertwined nature of the various elements and their effect brings about the real nature of the weak signals that ESG as a riskfication paradigm is trying to achieve. All these elements need to be mapped along a spectrum and drawn from the ESIA playbook; the cumulative impact is a vital measure. The interpretive nature of the assessment requires an appreciation of the organizational context.

Ratings and rankings are bundled value judgements; thus, the methodology matters in the way that assessments are done, rather than looking at the rankings at face value. Important questions to ask as a ready reckoner are:

Who is assessing?

To what end is assessment driven data utilized in decision making calculus?

For ESG to move from risk to resilience, power dynamics need to be included.