Sunday, August 31, 2008

In the Jurassic park of Kerala

where communist dinosaurs roam free, the party, yes, the party, has opened an amusement park.

Look whos talking:

This sort of campaigns would create false apprehensions among the people and have a "negative" approach on developmental issues, he said.

How many days before it goes on strike? If it does, then it will be an amusement park and if it doesnt, it will still be an amusement park....Nice trick

Friday, August 29, 2008

While the Nano waits

An entire economy has boomed right outside, courtesy the agitators.

Indeed, the protest site has become the vortex of a mini-economy sustaining rickshaw-pullers, truck drivers, ice-cream sellers and a host of other vendors. With nearly 50 transporters and an equal number of vendors in circulation, the business over the five days is pegged around Rs 5 lakh. Most of them are doing three to four times the regular business. Given Banerjee's unwavering stance, transporters and vendors look set to enjoy the stint for a while longer.

Read it all...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Laptop, the next mobile phone?

Zenith launches Indias cheapest laptop at about 15 grand.

Which is about as costly as a high end mobile phone? So, will laptops become cheaper and become as ubiquitous as the mobile phone? Probably not, since education is a big constraint as is power supply. Indeed, it is the mobile phone that may make the net more accessible and usable. In any case, its a space worth watching...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Alfred Marshall in Bhiwani

A nice article in Livemint today by Niranjan Rajadhayksha.

Marshall was one of the first economists to ask why certain occupations and industries tend to cluster in a particular town: cutlery in the Sheffield and pottery in the Staffordshire of his times, for example. “When an industry has thus chosen a locality for itself, it is likely to stay there for long: So great are the advantages with people following the same skilled trade get from near neighbourhood to one another. The mysteries of the trade become no mysteries; but are as it were in the air, and children learn from many of them unconsciously.”

Bhiwani for boxing, Kota for IIT entrance, Kolhapur for shooting - these are some of the newer clusters. India has always had clusters like these - Mumbai used to be one for cricket, Sansarpur/Coorg for hockey. But he is right, we could surely use some more of them. How about Kerala for rowing and perhaps martial arts - given their tradition in Kalaripayattu?

How do these clusters happen? Can a government create a cluster? It has to start with one, someone and then many others take it up and it becomes a cluster. So, a good possibility is to start clusters using the names of our current boxers, wrestlers and marksmen. Not to forget badminton where Saina did put up a great show.

Justifying their existence

Once again, what started off as a comment at Emerging futures lab (or its previous avatars), becomes a post here.

For a lot of people, the only way to exercise their authority is by building walls with guard towers and a list of instructions - policies. Many managers, HR, Finance - a lot of them see their role as such - they are saving their company you see by guarding the walls and the policies.

They never realize that they are there to facilitate the right people to go through, the right exceptions to go through...they will guard their rules since that justifies their own existence. The only people who need to take their roles this seriously are those who guard our borders. Without exception, nobody can be allowed - and even there are exceptions.

How often have you come across people in authority whose existence is only to show a paper with rules justifying why something cannot be done? Are you doing that too? Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution?

Sleepless nights

Yet another soldier died fighting terrorists recently. Col Jojan Thomas gave up his life fighting terrorists in Kashmir. The TOI asks a remarkable question to the government.

Who is to blame for infiltration?

But perhaps encouraged by the Wagah border candle light brigade and other bleeding heart liberals, Manmohan Singh actually has gone a step further. He recently decreed that borders have become irrelevant.

If that indeed were the case, the prime minister needs to tell us why so many of our young men are getting killed every day while defending our borders? Some months ago, newspapers breathlessly reported that the prime minister was moved to tears after watching the visuals of a distraught mother of a Bangalore boy allegedly involved in a UK terror plot.

Read the whole thing...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Of the entire spectrum

Everybody thinks only in red and blue? Tata-Fiat dealers are going for a make over. I am sure there is more to it than meets the eye, but,

Fiat has opted for a European red look while the Tata Motors branding will be in blue.

Why just these two colours? For a Coke red, we have a Pepsi blue. Half the airlines of the world are Red. Cant we think better?

Heres a link to get those black and white retinas started...

The remover of obstacles

The remover of obstacles is here, unpacked and ready...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ads are new online tip jar

Says Seth Godin:

If you like what you're reading, click an ad to say thanks.

And he has a follow up post to clarify, in case the point was lost.

Friday, August 22, 2008

National institute of open schooling

Thanks for Rashmi for this amazing pointer. For all those who crib about the schooling system, heres a solution. A system that helps you keep your child out of the "system" - the National Institute of Open Schooling. And a mindblowing example of someone who has done it.

Hats off parents!

Now there is no excuse...

Olympics and IIT

Got this via Aadisht, on how coaching classes are skewing the IIT results which has prompted the IITs to change their procedure.

Nothing new about it; this is a topic that has been discussed to death for a while now. Are the classes promoting talent or making muggus out of talent or beating the system.

But in the light of the Olympics, this is a pertinent question. Are the sports academies in India and abroad gaming the Olympics system? The obvious answer there is they are not. So, if the answer there is no, why is the answer to the coaching classes yes?

If the debate is about rich and poor, surely, richer countries in general get more medals - what is wrong with that?

Will the iphone click here?

Times of India has a nice report on the launch of the iphone. The iphone, has obviously been waited upon with bated breath in the media. The earlier version of the iphone is a big hit. You can see it everywhere. Unlocked as it is, it is a big hit. But will the new one click in India, especially with its super high price tag of 31000 INR and 36100 INR for the 8 and 16 GB model respectively? I am not enthused about it and time will tell me if I am right or wrong. Heres why:

Unlike the US, phones in India have rarely been offered as a "locked" to a service provider. If you dont count the Blackberry which is mostly for business users, no phone was locked to a service provider or vice versa. So, while the iphone is unarguably is a paradigm shifting device, locking yourself to a device does not seem to me to be a great idea. Not to be undone, Nokia and the others are waiting with their high end handsets without the "locks". This will be an interesting battle and I suspect Nokia/Samsung will spoil Apples party here.

This is a device clearly aimed at the elite. That means, volumes will be lower, which means developing apps may not happen so much with other volume driven players. It remains to be seen what is the sort of demographic that picks up this phone...

India is also a place where cellphones tend to get lost every now and then. So, if you get stuck to this gadget, it is a big risk. Sure, the rich and famous will own one, but it is not the kind of thing the average N series toting chap will pick up. I have also seen many guys changing their phone often, but this is anecdotal...

3G here is still some way behind as compared to US. So, that will be another deterrent. Also remember, networks arent as good all over the country. Coverage is spotty in a lot of places.

So, my verdict is, it is a great gadget, but too pricey for India. Wait till Nokia/Samsung come up with a similar or better one - and it is perhaps round the corner as well...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

BoP shock for India?

Got this from Emerging Futures lab (Hi Niti) where the news is that Indias BoP population has been pared down from 400 million to 160 million. The rest (240 mio), are too costly to serve, or so says the piece.

Jain points out that financial services, FMCG etc should be the ones entering such a market and the BOP market may not be for everyone.

To me this is a mindset problem (as commented at Emerging Futures). Whoever thought cellphones could be so cheap - not yet BoP cheap, but cheap nonetheless. When you go with your existing bag of tricks, it is obviously true. But with a different model, different services and, well, a different mindset it is possible. Obviously, profits are not going to be same in Malabar Hill as they would be in Dharavi or Raigada (Orissa).

Yes, the companies need to decide whether they need to serve this market. Cellcos faced this and cracked it by and large. The others too can decide...

Monday, August 18, 2008

China Talent shortage?

Gasp, what is the world coming to?

Am pretty sure it is similar to the talent shortage in India. All these years as these products and services were done in other parts of the world (yes, many assumptions here), wonder why there was no "talent shortage"...

Online process, offline process

Not sure how many people today will remember what a nightmare it was to book train tickets for long distance travel. The reservation counters opened about 60 to 90 days before the date of travel and if you wanted a ticket, you had to go overnight, sleep over outside the counter and when the counter opened you had to rush in with all your might. Inevitably you would be never be more than 5th in any line, even if you had the athletic prowess of Usain Bolt. Why that was so, we will come to in a minute. After all this the clerk at the counter was a little more angrier than any dragon that you might encounter in a cave in a concocted fantasy which meant that he could snarl and deny any chance of you getting a ticket. This lasted well into the computerization era - until the railways hit upon the idea of making it available online.

It did two things - one, it reduced the crowds at the reservation centers (and by then the railways opened reservation centers in areas that were not railway stations) and second, you could get ahead better than 5th in line. Because, this system eliminated the agents - completely.

Who were the agents? They were the chaps who made money off the railways. How? Simply by standing between you and the railways. For a price, they could get you a ticket to any destination, any class on any date. Many operated in collusion with officials and you could see familiar faces standing in the queue on any given day. They blank booked tickes with names like Shah, Patil, Nair and then simply "transferred" it to a client. They charged a premium for their services and basically had a good time until someone cleaned it up.

Recently we visited a hospital. The hospital, one of the biggest entities in India has an online registration system. But the room allotment is not online - the person notes it on a piece of paper. So, if he forgot, like he did for us, you are completely at their mercy. For all the superb processes put in place, something like this can entirely mess up a customer experience as it did for us. Fortunately, another attendant there was kind enough to understand our situation and gave us a room on priority. But this is liable for misuse - anybody can walk in and claim, pretty much, that their name was missed or likewise, this gives room for the person who sits there to misuse the system of room allocation. There is no reason for the room allotment to not be online in this case.

The point being, any process that is not completely online will be broken. If you want to clean up a process, do it like the railways and do it completely online.

Games Indians Play

Games Indians Play (not sure why this is 70 bucks on Amazon) This is the title of the book by V Raghunathan on Indians - why we are the way we are. The first thing that happens to a book with a title like this, is that we do not want to acknowledge the way we are and hence do not want to buy a book that points fingers at us. This was my first reaction, but I decided to pick it up anyway. The second thing, more obvious, is that we always think that the other person is at fault, Indians may be like that, but I am not like that. Also, we rationalize, saying that there are black sheep everywhere, without realizing that every single one of us has a little shade of black that overall makes for a pretty dark shade. He defines the problem well and overall it does not make for pleasant reading - the truth is unpleasant. But the book makes you sit back and think and I loved this about the book.

The author uses game theory to define the problem and you cant but agree with him. In general, we are privately smart and publicly dumb. The proverbial every drop makes an ocean that is India - in a negative way. Every leaking drop drains the bucket leading to an empty bucket. He doesnt really say why we are that way (let me know if I missed that, but in reality there is no reason except stupidity on our own part), but I think there are a few answers.

On my first visit to the US, we were stuck in a traffic jam near Boston. The fire lane was empty. I asked the cab driver, will nobody drive the car through there? He said. No. They will get reported. Therein, perhaps lies the key. We love the anonymity of a billion people. Which is why we rant and rave on message boards and comments in blogs - the internet is largely anonymous (reading, another one that touched a little on this aspect, Small Is the New Big by perhaps my favourite blogger, Seth Godin, but thats for later). But ask for someone to stand up and be counted, and you will find nobody - by and large.

In the last chapter, he has quoted the Bhagavad Gita (my favourite book on it is Bhagavad-gita by S Radhakrishnan ) saying how we all know the problem and the solution. Which is true.

The book is a sad but true commentary on how every one of us wants the rules to favour us. The whole point of getting to a higher position or authority is an ability to flout rules at will. Whether you do it with by money or force of authority or mob or simple cheating is the only difference. We all take pride in finding a loophole and many of us do it pretty well leading to good results in some things, but when it comes to improving our own experience of life in our country, it falls pretty flat. We dont mind going to a temple and cheating at the queue there. We dont mind giving a little extra money to get a window seat. Not one single corrupt politician gets convicted - the cases drag on and on.

There is so much to be written about this, that a post is not sufficient. But read the book in any case...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Olympics and human prosperity

Abhinav Bindra has blown a popular myth or should I say romanticization. The Olympian from India will be this poor person who takes up a sport and against all odds succeeds in getting that gold medal for India. Thanks Abhinav. He has proved a simple point that we chose to ignore, at our own peril, for many years. If you are at the Olympics, it means that you or your country or your sponsors pockets are pretty deep.

The point is that, for making it to something like the Olympics, you have to start early and have specialized equipment and training. There are two (or three) ways in which this way can happen. The prerequisite, almost always is, your talent is spotted early. You grow up in a place that has a private or a public academy. If not the government or sponsor, you spend your own money and put in the long hard hours required for training and come up trumps. During the training period, you need money to sustain yourself, perhaps your family and unless that burden is taken off your head, it is impossible to keep your mind at something as gruelling as the Olympics.

Lets understand this. The Olympics today are a triumph of human prosperity more than anything else. Unless the country is prosperous and/or the government/sponsors invest money in sporting and training facilities, a triumph at the Olympics is as about as probable as alchemy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

So, where are they?

Here is a country wise popularity index of the 12 most popular social networks. Linkedin appears to be the most popular in India, though from my own experience I would think Orkut would not be too far behind (there is a big difference in profiles of people who log into both). Two questions.

It is highly unlikely that a social network started in India will be popular all over the world - especially first world countries. Care to guess why?

And where are, Big Adda and Minglebox and Desimartini in all this?

Another trend recently seen. Headhunters are using Linked in more and more to catch potential employees. (As are landlords, real estate agents and the like.)

Abhinav wins gold....India ?

Enough has been said and written about Abhinav Bindra's performance.

One word - brilliant performance and sheer hard work. But what about India? All sloth?
Thanks to a dad who did not mind spending money on him - the entire credit for Abhinav goes to their family. Zero credit to India.

The shooting ranges in India are not Olympic standards, by and large. Abhinav had his own in his palatial house. India as a country still won't care to upgrade. India may not know (or care) how to produce an Olympic medal winning individual, but we do have an Olympic medal winning template - cash awards, free land, free whatever !!!

Pray where is hockey? India's national game?

For me Abhinav won and India lost. There will be many more Abhinavs, Sachins, Rajyavardhans, Leanders out there who may never make it because they dont exist in the eyes of the officialdom...

Heres what the man himself says...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reuse, recycle, repair

Reuse, recycle, repair could well the mantra for the current times we are in. Looks like use and throw lasted too less for us Indians, atleast, but well, we are not too far from our roots either.

Why this thought came to my mind was I happened to be reading about Terracycle Inc which is in the recycling business and how.

Garbage in, garbage out? This old cliché may become obsolete as trash becomes the raw material of innovation and green business. Upcycling, or turning disposable items into new products, is becoming big business. The leading player in this growing industry is TerraCycle, which makes a variety of products from recycled material: fertilizers from worm poop, backpacks from juice pouches and reusable tote bags from plastic bags. Based in Trenton, New Jersey, the 60-person company had $8 million in sales last year and expects $15 million this year.

And perhaps a great business model for these times.

Now in India this business has had thousands of small entrepreneurs. There are junk newspaper buyers, scrap dealers - atleast in Bangalore, one every 100 metres. But beyond the obvious, there are a few other interesting models I have come across. Both from my Mumbai days.

There is this place where if you go with a few old sarees, they will stitch it into a quilt, for a price - and you will not know that it was a saree in its past life. Used sarees, partially torn sarees are now quilts, which can be used as a throw, rug or a blanket. A very similar method is used to create some floor mats - they are made out of rags - possibly from garment factories - considering they are available a dime-a-dozen in Bangalore.

Old silk sarees used to have real silver and gold, until synthetic thread replaced them. So, if you have an old saree, these chaps will melt the silver and gold and pay you a good price for them. If your saree is really old (and has real stuff in it), you get paid quite a bit. Again, I dont recall which area in Bombay these were, but surely either in Matunga or in Ghatkopar.

We Indians are pretty good recyclers - thank our cobblers and umbrella repairers for that. Many of those in the 70s generation will remember how hand-me-downs were almost a given right from textbooks to uniforms to clothes. Today it is lesser especially since schools work on a different mode of making money on everything, but it wasnt too long ago...

Whats next? A recycle mall? Where instead of buying stuff in tons, we go with stuff we dont want and come back with what we do?

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Thoughts as India wins its first ever individual gold medal. Look at the hard work Abhinav Bindra has been putting in. 7 hours each day shooting, plus 2 hours of other workouts, for 4 years - actually more, probably 10 years.

Hard work.

Abhinav looks at the bull’s eye - a dark 5 millimeter spot on a brown piece of paper, at the other end of the hall, as predator looks on at it’s prey. As the finger softly presses the trigger, there is a crackle of sound. The sharpshooter tugs at the pulley and examines the target. Time for another spot.

This routine is followed with rigor seven hours a daily plus another few hours for physical training: jogging and stretching exercise. Thus there is complete dedication of body and soul ten hours a day, 365 days a year. "I may not like it but at the end of the day, I am pretty exhausted," says he.

Luck cannot win you an Olympic gold (or silver or bronze).

The next war may be online

As the Russia Georgia clash shows, it wont be just online, but online complementing offline. (How they came back up in the face of the attack - they switched to google)

Add drones, satellites being brought down, telephone networks being jammed - and you know that your army needs a specialized Electronic hacker regiment as well. Infy, Wipro, up to it?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Cliches and more

Got this amazing link (via Rahul Bhatia) On the Road in India. Why you must read it, if not for anything else is for the thousand cliches it uses about India.

Todays post starts with the high sounding, "So far on the road, I’ve only seen two places that bring Indians from all parts of this country’s multi-layered society together: the ocean and the temple."

Eh, are you sure? The army brings people together, for instance, especially after a bad fight. Cricketers do too, as do cricket stadia and electronic stores when an India match (or IPL) is on. The Mumbai local does too, for varied reasons. How about trying Rajini? As for temples, well, they dont always get people together. Well, we will let that pass.

Then theres the cellphone cliche. The simple way to write about the cellphone in India is to add it at the end of any random sentence. For instance, As the autorickshaw driver wove in and out of the traffic, with a cellphone, works. Or in business attire with a cellphone strapped to his waist sat cross-legged with eyes closed, fingers counting out prayer beads. Adding the cellphone to any random thing has an effect, see. Didn't you read that piece about the toddy tapper with the cellphone?

Indians worship animal headed gods. Hey, you woke up atleast 5000 years late. Monkey headed Hanuman, Lion headed Narsimha are other examples you may want to use. Actually we not only worship animal headed gods, we worship animals too. Sometimes our object of worship is a tree or a mountain or a rock or a pond. But, you would not know, would you?

And people, if you want to qualify as a secular writer, there is only one way to write about temples. Like this.

Inside the temples, I’m a mess. ...But I haven’t performed any of the rituals in years. Now, in a country where almost everyone else with brown skin is familiar with proper religious behavior, I stand out like a sore thumb. Bravo!

Saying that you know your religion, is well, sort of infra dig, except -no I wont say when - go figure. As far as I know, in no temple are you expected to offer obeisance that takes the form of rocket science rituals, unless you count joining your hands and lowering your head. To think that anybody who has been to a temple once, will forget to do that much is as good as saying I dont know what to do if food is placed in front of me. But thats how you are supposed to write about it, in any case. 

As in any religious country, spirituality has its downfalls and the potential for abuse. 

This sentence is followed by, Next to our hotel here is a giant statue of Shiva, one of the most important Hindu gods. The sea-facing statue, along with a 214-foot tower modeled to look like an ancient Hindu structure, was recently built by R. N. Shetty, a wealthy local land developer whose his name is emblazoned on nearly half the city (including our hotel).

Basically, the giant statue is an abuse. Perhaps the Ajanta, Ellora and the other big temples are an abuse too. 

Anyway, WSJ, thanks for updating my definitive guide to writing about India.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

100 USD laptop

Rediff hardsells the 100 USD white elephant laptop.

Various commentators have told time and again what India needs is not a 100 USD laptop, but our requirements are more basic - like schools and electricity. What a laptop will do in a place with no school or electricity is imaginable.

Well, that doesn't stop someone from trying and others from falling in a trap.

Whats in a name?

When you have to chose a name, why not chose a different one instead of a me-too name? Case in point here...

Also, seen in Bangalore, a hotel named, The Shilton. Ring a bell? The "Indian CPA" is another example 

Of course there are many others, very notorious ones shouting me too, me too from every possible corner. 

Know some more?

Do you know what you are looking for?

A few days after the blasts here, everybody checks everything. Car boots, bags, luggage, i-cards everything...

Pictured here is a check going on at the Inter state bus station. There is nothing wrong in checking, but do these guys know what they are looking for?

The bombs of these days do not look like the red, blue sticks with an alarm clock on them - the kind we have seen in many Hindi movies. Have they been trained on what they need to look for? 

I know that this is a simple deterrent, but still...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Why politics, why terror, why religion?

This blog has been up for nearly 3 and a half years now. As the name suggests, it is mostly about Indian business at a street level and few meanderings on humour, management, new ideas and design. How Indian business, be it retail, real estate, IT and others are doing in the face of globalization. This blog is pro globalization and believes that capitalism is the way to go as you might have seen in the various posts. I am also a firm patriot and a lot of things India stands for - not necessarily what Indian politics today stands for.

Recently, however, you might have observed a change in the tone. Especially in matters concerning internal security, terrorism and politics. Yes, these events keep happening, but should a blog (this blog) be concerned with all of this? This was a question that was put to me. After all this blog is not really about politics, religion and terrorism. That is true. But the fact is that at a street level, these events impact people as they should.

The places where the bombs exploded in the last few years - the Mumbai local trains, the Jaipur market shopping area, indeed the very bus stop where a bomb exploded at Bangalore have all been places I have frequented.

Which means, just being at any of these places at the wrong time could have killed me as it killed many a citizen. So, what are we doing about it? Where is the outrage? It is only probability that separates you and death due to a bomb blast. If you have ever gone to a doctor and taken0 medicines to cure your illness, you will realize that there has to be a medicine for this which the governments are unwilling to administer.

To close your eyes to this as we often do, look at the other way, close your senses, believe in a temporary reprieve or believe in our gods and offer a prayer thanking that you are spared are all but cargo cult science reactions to terror. At a very basic level, it is important that we identify the enemy and react. React by waking ourselves from the stupor we are in and being more alert about the surroundings. This blog, at best a street level blog, aims to do that. A week into the terror attack, it is slowly being overshadowed by other news, as it perhaps should. But it is important to know that the shadow of terror has not shortened by any means. If anything, it has only lengthened.

And, while there are many who believe that band aid can cure cancer (terror cancer), I am not one of them. Early detection usually cures cancer, but believing that it does not exist or it can be warded off by charms has never helped anybody. If things continue this way, it is only a few steps away from travel advisories, businesses shutting shop and the economy withering away, not to mention our entire way of life. If any of these are important for us, it is important that we sit up, take notice and do what we can to rid the country of terror.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Quit, dont quit

Outsource, dont outsource, to rephrase what Master Oogway had to say...

Fashion heavyweights shut shop in India goes the breathless headline, but the excerpt reveals that while one is shutting shop, one is considering shutting and two are increasing.

In any case, this is not about child labour or caste discrimination, it is a regular business cycle at work. As global economies get the jitters, now that we have stronger linkages in the shape of the outsourcing industry, expect more of this to happen. But remember, it is all a business cycle. When they laughed all the way to the bank, we did too, so it is rightful that we share some of the downsides too...

Oil slips to 120 USD

But dont let that distract you in buying that big car. After nearly kissing 150 USD, 120 suddenly seems affordable. The price will stay at a point where it is the right price to let you, me and the world continue its addiction to oil. After all, it is that money which lubricates a lot of stuff. And if everybody thought renewable, what would happen to the oil lobby?

So, do the world a favour and continue to be stingy with oil use. Whatever the price, renewable energy is the future.

Ramdev, Asaram, Ravishankar, Morari

Not exactly Superman, Spiderman and Batman - not even Amitabh, Aamir and Akshay or even Mulayam, Mamta, Mayawati, but if these 4 accomplish what they have set out to do, it is going to be a teeny weeny issue for the psecs.

You can’t ask for a better brand ambassador than God.

And so starting next month, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) is enlisting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev, Morari Bapu and Asaram Bapu to create an alliance marrying political, religious and environmental causes.

The strategy taps into the godmen’s oft larger-than-life presence among followers to bolster support for the VHP’s main political ally—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—in the next general election.

[Read it all]

Terrorists waiting

800 terrorists are waiting, says the BSF chief in this piece on rediff.

While we wait with upgraded border fences and thermal sighters, who knows, they could just drive down, you know using, The Buses

They could also use the Bangladesh or the Nepal route, two much favoured entry points. What are we doing about those? 

And while they supposedly wait, what are we doing about those who will shelter them once them come in?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Watch local, buy local...

Think Global, watch local, act local, eat local, drink local.

First it was the movies - you cannot dub any language movie into Kannada (and a whole host of rules). Now, any wine produced outside Karnataka and being sold in Karnataka will attract a hefty duty.

Not that this is entirely an idea owned by Karnataka; Maharashtra already levies a 150% duty on wines produced outside Maharashtra. Funnily, enough as the article notes, Maharashtra is the largest wine producer in India with some 51 vineries and yet it feels a need to protect its industry (well, its all politics, whatever) and Karnataka has just 2 vineries.

What else can this be stretched to?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Internal insecurity

A great piece by Shekhar Gupta of IE.

Nuggets (emphasis mine):

These four and half years are the worst in India’s history of fighting terrorism. Surely somebody in the UPA will bring out statistics to show that overall deaths were more in some other regime’s five years. But this is not just about numbers. It is a spectacular four and a half years of mayhem when not one terrorist has been caught, not one major case solved.

...It said, between January 2004 and March 2007, India had lost 3,674 lives to terrorism, second only to Iraq.

...And if it is not guilty of communalising our internal security policy, how does it explain sitting on special anti-terror laws in all BJP-run states when exactly similar ones have been passed for the Congress states?

Surely no government can ensure no terror attack would ever happen. But it has to be seen to be trying, fighting, and being even-handed. This government fails on all three counts so far...

As Churumuri says, 96 people a month for 38 months...

Now you know what you get when you vote for the hand, you get a stinging slap with the same hand.

Friday, August 01, 2008

How to use a new tool

A few years back, when I first started working, I was startled to see how people use computer tools. Many people use computer tools in the same manner that they would use a similar paper tool. For instance, a tool like MSExcel was being used, basically as a register. With no use of its analytical, summarizing or reporting capabilities.

This was obviously not the first time that I saw this happening. People still slam doors of new cars (the Ambassador effect, as I call it), or typists bang into electronic keyboards.

In a similar way, many people use the net in a very different way - not the way it is supposed to be used. People read the same newspaper online that they would read offline - sure there are exceptions like rediff, but that is not the point of the web. Sure, you get to read the NYT or WaPo which you otherwise could not, but the real power of the internet is not with these regular sites. Thats not where you can get the juice. The juice is elsewhere.

If you are reading this, you know it better than me; if you arent, well, theres no juice....

No TV is good news

Seth Godin, the TV dividend links to this wonderful (long by rivetting) piece here on how people moving away from a passive media like television to an active medium like the internet (I agree you can be passive on the net, but...) gives rise to a wonderful consuming, producing and sharing culture. I cant say it better, but do read both the links above...

Thanks to the time saved watching TV (I barely watch TV - especially since I started blogging) I blog and read tons of stuff I otherwise would not have. I cant imagine that this is the case. There was a time when all I did was watch TV. Now, well, it is tough for me to watch TV - most discussions are one sided and with a specific agenda that is being propagated subtly or otherwise. I did watch the IPL, but post that I have barely watched an hour of TV. But of course, I spend tons of time on the comp.

Of course it is bad news for the media companies, but...

Some dots

This story sort of got buried yesterday. A bomb on the Amarnath route. First it was hospitals in Ahmedabad, now its pilgrims. Whats the next easy target that will let the PM sleep well?

And this one, of a train that mysteriously caught fire when all passengers were asleep, affirms an old theory of spontaneous combustion, does it not?

"Till now no proof of sabotage or use of explosive has come to our notice," he [The great Indian railways minister]said. Absence of evidence is evi dence of absence? Could be another dry run taking place.

These are some dots. Eventually a line will join all or most of them...

CNN IBN shows its true colours

And the BJP boycotts it. As if the BJP did not know what moves in CNN IBN and what does not.

Now, wait and watch until it is announced that the footage in the tapes was grainy and inconclusive, footage gets mysteriously lost, offices catch fire or a volcano could erupt.