Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nano has pesticides in it

Not really. This is a few days late, but heres an incoherent rant...

Sunitaji, as much as I admire your ingenuity in finding pesticides in colas and missing them in vegetables and fruits, I find your logic a little hard to understand. Arguing against cars (that too the people mover variety) in the year 2009 is almost the same as arguing against electricity. Try it and you will be hard pressed to do it.

I agree with you as far as having better, affordable, comfortable public transport goes. There are no two ways about it. Surely, you will never read my blog, but you will see me quite vocal against oil also. (It brings with it other very serious problems, you see.)

Today, there is subsidy in almost everything - either direct or indirect. Export incentives, tax exemptions, cheap land, low cost power, depreciation - almost everything is a subsidy. Show me an industry and I will show you a subsidy. Indeed, I will show you other subsidies that exist even without industries. Even public transport is subsidised. Most public transport corporations across the country (bar 3-4) make losses.

The Nano is a triumph of ingenuity. Think of it as a platform - once fuel cell technology arrives, this car will be the lightest one to get onto it. In one (actually two) stroke, it can help us get rid of all the two stroke rickshaws that are the bane of our cities. Also, it can help us get rid of many super old vehicles that run in our country.

Oh, by the way electricity is subsidised too. Ask those rich farmers. And ask me. I pay my bills. If I don't pay it by the tenth, they cut my electricity. I cannot even steal it.

End of rant...

Professor Parallel

Is the Lahore terror drama a parallel one to Bombays massacre? No. For once, I agree with PC jee.

It would be a parallel, if 10 Indians with an intention to kill non-believers had crossed over into the land of the pure, on boat or bus or rail and then massacred about 183 odd non-believers (and believers) across a few targets after the stand off of a few hours or a couple of days all the while talking to someone in India urging them to go for the kill. You know what I mean. This, for all practical purposes was a civil war, nothing else...

The immediate effect.

Intense distrust erupts...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Congress ad says the truth, inadvertently

See this ad. It starts off the visual of children having to push a van.

Sort of tells you the truth about the state of the country, no?

Friday, March 27, 2009

26/11 made us do it...

Everywhere you see in the media, people are pretending that this is yet another election, that there is no national emotive issue.

But the two "making a difference" candidates who have decided to stand in these elections - read the first slides in these links - Meera Sanyal in Bombay and Captain Gopinath in Bangalore have taken to the elections post the Mumbai massacre of 26/11. Even Rajesh Jain - one of the brains behind Friends of BJP tells you the same.

What does that tell you, intelligent voter? Are you missing something or are these intelligent guys who have decided to put themselves in line in the cesspool of politics missing something?

That the governments (both at Centre and M'tra) slept at the wheel waiting for the terror problem to explode, literally. Immediately post the problem, they set up NIA and passed an anti terror law - acknowledging that this was due all along, but woke up only when 183 people were massacred in cold blood. All the previous terror attacks did not move them, at all...Amazing, when you think of it no?

And each time this question is posed to the powers that be today, they remind you that Kandahar happened during the NDA regime. True as it is, it is no justification for this government to have slept for 5 years and let another 1000 people be killed in terror explosions all over India. (Yes, every single one of us is lucky to be alive if we are reading this. Lance Naik Anil Kumar was not as lucky as us - he died for us.)

Would you still want to vote the same government in, dimpled chin or not? Choose dimpled chin and you could get a dimpled heart or head in the bargain sooner or later. Its your choice. After all, its your head. Do let people who choose dimpled chin know this. Also please buy yourself a bullet proof helmet and jacket (and buy shares of that company for good measure - its stock will go up). Bomb proof ones may not be so easily available.

Still have a doubt?

Read between the lines of this document. In case you did not, Reality check lays it out for you...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Say cheese

I picked up a cheese packet a few days back. My favourite brand, by far, is Amul.

But when I opened it, this cheese pack had some black thing on it. I, as usual, took a picture of it, ready to shoot off an email to anybody whose mail id was printed on the pack. But there was no mail id - instead there was a phone number - STD that too. I was surprised, but I decided to try my luck with it. The first time I called, I was asked to call after 10 am. Which I did. My call was promptly 'transferred' to the 'cheese department' who took down my complaint and said they would get back to me and all they asked was the product details and asked me to preserve the cheese till they could take a look at it. I wasnt very optimistic, given my previous experiences with other companies.

Get back they did. Within a few hours, a distributor had taken my address to deliver a replacement. Next day, it was delivered to my home. By evening, a food technologist from the factory had called me up, took details and explained why it could happen and how they were extremely sorry that something like this happened. (And it was not entirely their fault. Given the current power situation, it is possible that many shops cannot run their refrigerated storages 24/7 and that caused some temperature difference etc. etc. They could have easily washed their hands off this, but they did not.)

Lesson in there. Customers don't need a fancy schmancy call center and people with accents and a website and a jing bang marketing campaign. What matters is do you really care for them. A simple number will do - where real people pick up the phones when you call and listen to your complaint and respond sincerely. Obviously, I am a fan of Amul for life...

I dont see eye to eye

Despite the fact that you have tens of of branches and hundreds of executives and presumably thousands of ATMs and drop boxes running all over the place, a smart exec at your bank told me it was impossible for me to submit a "piece of paper" as part of a trading account at one branch and expect that it be safely sent to another. She explained it to me that it was because of "technology limitations" that the particular branch that I walked into one which "did not handle demat services" and was able to count on the fingers of the one hand, which one did handle "demat services".

I don't blame her at all, she did her job very well, as per the rules she has to swear to live by once she is employed by you. But I surely blame you, the bank for not being responsive to customer needs. I dont care which bank is dematted or non dematted or what is your internal organization. Should I?

I am the customer who is very happy with the website you provide me and I am happy to live my entire life without having to drive down to a branch 10 kilometers away, stand in a queue, submit a piece of paper, get an acknowledgement and come back and do this repeatedly whenever someone feels like it.

No, I cannot even courier it. I have to physically go there and submit the said form. Well, someday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nano and the choices you make

I have written about the Nano before, but the launch yesterday was the complete realization of a dream. Tata Motors did it in 1998 with the Indica (and Indigo, Ace and its variants), but never before has a car caught the imagination of the public like the Nano has. Heres one of the first reports on a test drive and it is an amazing read. I am sure that there will be a lot more news on the Nano in the days to come. And where, oh where, are the competitors who said it cannot be done?

I guess each one of us can be, in the roles that we do, a Ratan or a Mamta.

Being a Ratan is not easy. You have to fight status quo, change belief systems, break paradigms, get your teams to believe in your vision and execute it and then you get to change the world. And if you succeed, you get a product that completely changes existing belief systems and leaves the world gaping.

The other choice is a simple one. You just need to oppose and harangue all the Ratans in your world. But there wont be too many of them. Just one at the most. And if you all gang up, you can easily bury Ratan and his cohorts and their ambitions. (You can take cheap potshots too.)

Who said it would be easy? And why is everyone queuing to interview Ratan only? Nobody wants to talk to "the" Mamta?

No prizes for guessing who history will remember and who history will junk. What are you? Who have you decided to become?

The one has spoken

Admit it! Doesnt a photo like this and a caption like that near it make you want to run towards the nearest polling booth?

So what if the youth are mostly "Change means a different first name" types. So what if they dont practice what they preach?

So what? BTW, according to their definition of youth (below 40), I am a teenager.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Four months ago, you saw the future

26/11 was a trial balloon floated by the Pkstns "asymetric warfare department" routinely referred to as terrorists, Taliban, ISI and quite a few other pseudonyms including the Pkstn army. Over the last few weeks, we have come to see what it means for Pkstn to escalate its "death by a thousand cuts" strategy on India.

The bombs across the country, foreign terrorists in Kashmir did not rouse the sleeping elephant (it is probably dead in conscience). Nothing happened. India did not retaliate. They kept the water flowing, allowed the flights to land and overfly, continued the trains and buses and even kept the MFN going.

(Aside: India in return of course has got the MFN (replace f with f*ed) sobriquet, but little else.)

So, the great "brains" in Pkstn launched a strategy. A fidayeen attack on the nerve center of India. A 183 people were killed, in as cold blooded a massacre as it can get. It also replaced 183 as a world cup winning score to a body count in the Indian psyche. The strategy succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. They got away with murder, literally, leaving India crying in vain (and pain). India, again, did not respond beyond weeping to some foreign countries. Their populace has also been lulled into a somnolence.

Why is this important? Over the next few months, after the elections of the government of whichever dispensation, you will see why.

The "Changed" government in the US has discovered Good Taliban - with the euphemism Good being used to indicate that the "good people" will not attack any western (US by and large) interests. Having done their job there, they will be back to their safe borders. (Meanwhile, the UK has discovered that TV ads will keep them safe.)

The US has its drones in air over Pkstn airspace. It has its eyes on every single container (and presumably person) who enters and leaves the country. Now, if it has secured the country in its own inimitable electronic way - it is positively preposterous to assume that it does not have its eyes on the biggest suicide bomb on the planet. It probably has its thumb on every tail there. So, any future attack in the US will not happen - certainly not out of Pkstn. So, as far as US goes, not even a mouse can escape Pkstn in any direction towards the US.

Of course, the terrorists have changed tack, changed their strategy and moved onto something else. The bases too have shifted (closer) and the terrorists have discovered other loopholes. But presumably, again, the US has that covered that too, by and large. So, after all the water under the bridge, the US has ensured its safety. And also ensured that quite a few of the deprived terrorists will be deprived of their jobs. The recession hits everyone no. They will apply for a bailout to their strategy masters. The funding part of the bailout is being handled by the US. The job part of the bailout will be, you guessed it, you intelligent voter, you.

Enter, India, Pkstns eternal enemy - starting from 1947 to 1971 to IPL 2009. The good Taliban, being reformed will train their sights on India. Now, like the tower defence game you can expect all sorts of attacks on India. If you recall, almost every single evidence that India got for 26/11 (apart from the pickle and tissue) was validated by the FBI - and that should give you an indicator of how much information the FBI taps from Pkstn. They have presumably tapped into every single bit of information that goes in and out of the country except using carrier pigeons. So, the 26/11 attack is a precursor of things to come. And when it happens, as it surely, will, we can go crying to FBI who will have all the wiretaps in place and then we can play dossier dossier with Pkstn. Congratulations.

And of course, India being India - will not retailiate. (Now, part of why we don't, is also an inability). Now that we have wasted 5 years effectively weakening the army, removing our teeth and defanging ourselves into a politically correct lull, the terrorists have an edge over us. That gives us 'this' (imagine the width of a credit card) much time to arm, train and equip ourselves to this threat.

Either way, expect to be shot at or bombed at your next outing - in all probability post elections.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The biggest issue in Bangalore

or Karnataka if you go by the past month odds news in the leading paper this part of the country were, a pub attack at some place in Mangalore by some losers. (They do not even deserve to be named, let alone contacted for "sound bytes" on a daily basis.)

Then, there was a "furore" created by somebody on not wanting Charlie Chaplins statue on the West Karnataka coastline someplace. To them, I would ask to read, residents protest against Goundamanis statue in Beverly Hills!

And of course, moral policing has been introduced into our lexicon. It is just a newly minted phrase for thugs. These were random attacks on people by local thugs (this is nothing new in Bangalore btw) and it has been happening under governments of all dispensations.

That includes governments headed by righteous people as well as sons of sons of oil that had an ushered in an era of safety and great infrastructure sans any infighting for the past 5 odd years. Oh, for those golden times to return! But I digress.

Sure, all the above is news and deserves to be printed. But the front page? Daily? So, whats different now? Just that this time, the media has a "name" and a "face" it likes to "see" in print as "enemy". Bangalore has never been a safe place and I have seen some of it myself - couple of people I know on a first person basis were robbed, mugged, assaulted etc. This is a problem, any government has to solve (including this one). A lot of thugs here use the "outsider" tag to justify violence and robbery and thuggery. Why, even a lot of "rich" local folks use it as an issue to justify anything that they do. Ask anybody who has been in Bangalore for a few years and they will agree with you.

Btw, Bangalore did get an intelligence alert on a possible strike, but did not make it to front page.

For now, it is an echo chamber here...

Friends of BJP, Bangalore edition

It was a first of sorts, I realized as I sat through the Friends of BJP meeting in Bangalore yesterday. In my whatever years of existence, all I had ever seen was netas on TV, netas whizzing by in cars and waving to the hoi polloi - not that I ever had the misfortune of having to wait by the roadside to wave to some random nata. I realized that this was my first ever political gathering over all these years. And it started and ended reasonably well on time - which is important for people like us.

After the tamasha type campaigns were done away with, there was "exposure" to elections to people like us. Elections was something we read about or saw on TV - in the sense, nobody ever came to solicit our votes - after all, we are the apathetic middle class. But, many, including me, were the kinds who have never missed a chance to vote. But the parties did not care - because PLU were far too few and scattered. Until now.

With delimitation on the one hand and the worsening security attacks on the other (plus regular infrastructure, etc.), and their own instinct to participate in the democratic process, the middle class is becoming more and more important. And the BJP has moved first here. (On a side note, I got to meet Rajesh Jain - whose superb technology blog Emergic was really my first introduction to the blogosphere.)

While the Congress expects us to fall for the younger scions charms (arent photos inspiring enough to vote?) and other regional parties too busy with their families to focus on the middle class - the BJP is trying to reach out to this class. More such meetings would be needed to drag this class into participating in the process. I also think, that this is the future of political meetings - which means the neta has to be erudite and be able to connect with an audience of this nature.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Whither Long Term?

The Indian IT (and ITES, BPO) industry is a newish industry. It is an industry where the average age is a little under 30 (lower for BPOs). And it is also one of the industries plagued by attrition over the last few years. And in this industry, by and large there are two categories of people.

One category is the long term category - where people remained loyal to companies, sweared by retention bonuses, held onto ESOP plans. They believed much of their company sold them as far as employee value, talent retention and the like. Their increments in general were lower than what they would get if they jumped ship every now and then, but they were satisfied. They also believed that they were in it for a long haul.

By now you of course know that the other category is the short term category. They changed their jobs ever 2 or 3 years, got their 25% increment and promotion too, in most cases. They also listened to everything that the company had to say and then decided if it is worth staying or moving on. They were satisfied too with the progress they made in life and location. Overall, they believed in the long term, but had an eye on the short term as well.

The former category despises the latter category. It was the stayers at the wicket who by virtue of staying on at the pitch, scored runs, inpartnership with these short termers. To use an old Test cricket adage, 'Stay at the wicket and you will score runs'. There were swashbuckling batsmen who came in and played a whirlwind inning and went off, but nobody could afford a team that consisted of only swashbucklers or only doughty Gilraltars.

Note that this is not just an IT industry thing. It is also a stockmarket thing. With a slightly different context, there are all types of investors - ones who provide the solidity and ones who provide the churn.

With one difference. Unlike the share market which does not advertise requirements for different types of investors, companies (and not just in IT) always sold themselves as "employers for life" - give or take a few. Whether it was under the guise of a retention plan, ESOP, promotions or the promise of a long career. They encouraged employees to stay on as long as possible, even going to great lengths to ensure their employees were well taken care of. Companies never marketed themselves to the short term employee - they hoped that the next person they hired would stay on, but they planned for his or her eventual moving on. So, the long term value proposition was "sold".

For better or for worse, about 6-8 months back, not too many people saw the collapse. Every person who has been part of any boom knows there will be a bust and a pretty sharp one at that, but this time the scale took them by surprise. It is like batsmen know they will run into and out of form, but nobody expects the form of a test player to dip to gully cricket level without knowing when it will be back.

So, as of today, the short termers are having the last laugh. With retention bonuses shrinking, ESOPs coming to the price of soft drinks - they are happy that they kept moving. So, given where we stand today, there is no saying what long term is. Nobody knows what the long term is.

Like (Keynes?) said, In the long run we are all dead. My question, Is the long term dead too, atleast for the short term?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Lost Generation

Spectacular, Spectacular video!! (via Presentation Zen)

Quickfix breakfast 1920s

I am on this blast from the past trip - I guess the present does not have too many things to write about. What is there are can be expressed in 140 characters or less, which is why my tweets are more active these days ;)

So, here is something a grand uncle mentioned. In their house they had this mixture of pounded (no grinders then) wheat, rice, green gram and a few other grains ever ready. When a breakfast needed to be readied instantly, they reached out for this power, added jaggery and milk or water, plus coconut, if available and made laddoos out of them. One or two for each and you were good till lunch. Googling got me this, and I suspect, that this was what it was with some regional variation.

The main thing, in his words, was that food was not such a big deal. They pretty much ate what was available - which meant routine day in and day out - no fuss. Not too much choice. No fried stuff. Barely any snack. Nothing that was ever bought.

Aside: Poruvalangai (mentioned in the link above) then were the MTR quick fix meals of today - also the equivalent of stuff you could carry with you when you went off on a trip where you weren't sure of the food you would get. They last almost forever and pack quite a bite in terms of energy as well as hold your hunger at bay.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rambling thoughts on diet etc.

After a chat with my grandparents on what they ate when they grew up, there seems to be no great difference between diets 50 years back and diets 80 odd years back. The big difference seems to have been the addition of milk (usually meant owning a cow then) as people become "richer".

Now, what that means is that over one or two generations, our dietary habits have changed considerably.

Some of it is because of availability of "foreign" vegetables. Some of it is because, people stopped growing stuff in their own backyard (backyards became smaller to non existent too) - which meant that vegetables that need to be consumed pretty much "on site" would get relegated in favour of vegetables that had better shelf life. If there was a migration to the cities in this generation, then that meant packaged foods like bread, biscuits were introduced (and back then, bread was supposed to be good as was vanaspati). A lot of items that were made at home, were mass produced.

Then, a generation later (now) maida was recognized as a health hazard, vanaspati has been mostly banished outside home kitchens, packaged foods changed their appearance to appear healthy and with less sugar, transfat and what not...leading to what can be called the great comeback towards health - which is why an attempt at tracking the diets about a 100 years ago.

And seeing that, food, obviously, was not such an important of their lives - clearly not on a day to day basis! Food also was not a recreational activity unless there was a feast someplace. Eating out? What was that?

Over the past few generations, the difference is that as our diets get worse, our activity also levels go down. Or, as we progress up the social ladder, our activity levels go down. Now its not as straightforward as that. Somewhere along the way, we catch up with our health - and decide that we need to change our diets, increase our activity levels etc.

In general, you can eat anything and get away with it - if your activity levels are high. That means, you walk about 6 kms a day on an average (!) - thats a brisk walk for an hour.

Otherwise, we are eating way more than what our body requires which then accumulates in all the wrong places blocking arteries and what not. More later...

A lot of this learning as come from my own personal experience. Shun packaged foods - even juices. Shun anything that has flour and/or hydrogenated vegetable oil. Prefer fruits over juices. Try to get rid of fried items, pickles from your diet.

And live by this article the starting lines of which (Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants) seems to have been the mantra of our healthier ancestors.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Diet 50 years back

I had this conversation with a friend recently on diet changes. That set me thinking on how has our diet changed in the last 50 odd years?

So, this is what constituted day to day food for my parents generation.

Morning: One coffee - cows milk, presumably diluted
Breakfast: Either rice/dal or kanji (rice gruel)
Special breakfast - Sundays/Holidays: Dosa/Idli

Lunch: Rice, Sambar (or variants), One Vegetable (typically grown in the house) and Curd

Evening: Coffee and One / two Bananas (mostly) or Dosa/Idli (sometimes)

Night: Repeat of lunch

Most vegetables were grown in their own garden and most of the stuff they ate were seasonal. The vegetables were 'traditional South Indian' vegetables - Yam, Gourds, Melons, Brinjals, and other tubers like Tapioca, Jackfruit, Raw Mangoes, Leaves like Amaranth (?) and so on. Potatoes, Onion, Carrot, Cauliflower, Capsicum were unheard of. Fruits were local and seasonal - Jackfruit, Banana, Pineapple, Mango (whatever grew).

The rice is not the white polished rice that you see widely today. It was steamed red rice or coarse rice (unpolished).

Now to see what my grandparents grew up on....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Green highway

Got this from Fast Company - The Alternative energy highway

Highways are currently dotted with gasoline fueling stations, but the highways of the future might be surrounded by alternative energy fueling stations . The first green highway may not even be that far away from reality, as the governers of Washington, Oregon, and California are mulling over a plan to outfit the Pacific Northwest's Interstate 5 with a series of alternative fuel stations from the Canadian Border all the way to Mexico.

The governors envision a revamped highway corridor with spots to swap or charge electric vehicle batteries, as well as stations for biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, and compressed natural gas refueling. Fueling stations and swap-out docks along the 1,382 mile "BC to Baja Green Highway" would be the first businesses allowed to operate at rest stops, and would not be charged rent until turning a profit.[FC]

Amazing - and ideas like these are one of the reasons why the US will continue to stay ahead of the world, recession or otherwise.

To expect something like this in India during our lifetimes is to be a pink eyed optimistic, but I am willing to be one. Given that the current government has completely screwed up the highway project it is almost unlikely that a government of this or similar dispensation will do anything along those lines. But private initiative can get it done. Or Narendra Modi in Gujarat.

My candidates for such highways in India - Bombay Goa or Bangalore Goa or both. Why? Ah-ha!

Deja Vu and Amnesia

A friend of mine had a mail signature a while back, "I have Deja Vu and Amnesia - I remember having forgotten this before". Many parts of the world are suffering this the way I see it...

The US seems to be suffering from it now, as it prepares to "handover" Afghanistan to Pakistan. (Side note, Theory X will work here)

The Indian public seems to be suffering it now - having let the media wipe out the notion that national security is an issue at all in this elections.

IT companies are going back to Theory X after being a self professed fan of Theory Y throughout the boom. This happens each time there is some sort of a slowdown or a threat of it. Why cant they believe in Theory Y when they believed it it all along is something I cannot understand. Or, obviously, they never believed in Theory Y in the first place.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why TV Lost

A superb essay, by the ever phenomenal Paul Graham...

After decades of running an IV drip right into their audience, people in the entertainment business had understandably come to think of them as rather passive. They thought they'd be able to dictate the way shows reached audiences. But they underestimated the force of their desire to connect with one another.

Facebook killed TV. That is wildly oversimplified, of course, but probably as close to the truth as you can get in three words.

In any case, I am glad TV is losing out. Good riddance to such passive forms of entertainment...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Those pirated DVDs are bloodstained

A few years back, I had put up a post on piracy. That was a learning from The Long Tail, but in that post which was about pirates stepping in to create new markets, I had stupidly missed a big point (pointed out then by Aadisht) that Piracy supports Terror. Make no mistake, those DVDs are bloodstained...

While the technology angle still remains, I think, it is too big to ignore the reality that Pirated DVDs are another of those areas where we unwittingly play into the hands of terrorists.

Moser Baer Zindabad...

Friday, March 06, 2009

There is no security problem

There is no emotive issue this elections, they all tell us very sanguinely, while, looking over their shoulders that the Black cat commandos they were assigned are covering them from all directions. But there is a security issue and if we ignore it, we are going to pay with our lives.

A terror event in a neighbouring country (West) involving the Southern neighbour has sent many in the Indian establishment shitting in their pants regarding the organization of a cricket tournament. And they all tell us there is no security problem?

In the meantime, Maharashtra, last in the news for the 26/11 carnage (yes, this happened a few months back when you were asleep and woke up today to see everything has been wiped out from your own memory.) has come out with rules for terror proof buildings.

But believe me(dia) there is no security problem. Ever since we got Pkstn to capitulate (they arrested some people, you forgot?) and bend and crawl on all fours using our might and solved the terrorist problem comprehensively, there is no security issue. (*Satire)

Aside, I learnt a new word from the tweets I follow (me, on twitter, here) - Thanks to Ravikiran and Acorn - the word is Jamais Vu and do take a look at what it means.

It is the opposite of Deja Vu and it is what will happen when we will see yet another terror incident. Because. there. is. no. security. issue. Repeat after me and go back to sleep.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Links to think...

Heres a collection of links that puts into perspective, the performance of the government that is in power today and seeks us to re-elect them and their cute leader. In case you forgot, heres a partial listing of their performance. If this were a report card, it would read, "F"

Pioneer: Poverty figures from MJ Akbar...

DNA: Government is feverishly printing money...

DNA: Bharat Nirmaan way off target - oh this the same scheme which has seen full page ads in newspapers a few days ago...

DNA: Even telecom is screwed up...

BS:Flagship program funding overstated - guess where the money goes...

If you think it does not affect you, it does. It is yours and my money - taxpayers money that goes down the drain. The list is not over yet...

Two years back...

The "good gentle doctor" who the media sings praises about is fisked and rightly so...

Whatever happened to the Golden Quadrilateral? Neither golden nor a quadrilateral...this one project has screwed up the country completely. Well done. Anyway Rahul baba uses helicopters...

A list here too...and NREGA

I will post more of these as they come, but remember these beyond those silver lighted, halo bearing advertisements....and please all you influential Mallus (and non Mallus) out there, get the Communist-osauruses out of Jurassic parks in Kerala (and Waste Bungle).

Tavleen Singh: Make believe in gloomy times

Superb Article...

As I approached the very ugly Mantralaya building I noticed that there seemed suddenly to be colour in the landscape. Wishful thinking? A rainbow? A silver lining? Some new poster from Bollywood? No. It came from a wall covered in posters of Rahul Gandhi in different moods and different colours. When he stood dimpling happily beside a caption that said, ‘My only religion is the Indian flag’ his cheeks and hair glowed in luminous Bollywood hues. And, when he stood beside a caption that said ‘On the foundation of the past stands the future’ he was in duller, almost greenish hues as he gazed somberly into the unknown future.

So the good news is that a general election looms closer by the hour and that whatever change it brings it will be for the good of India. I say this not just because the right to kick out bad governments is the whole purpose of democracy but also because I think this government has been unforgivably irresponsible and wasteful. First, it squandered our money on massive government schemes of dubious merit and now, if you read even one newspaper a day, you would have noticed that taxpayers money is being frittered away on huge and very expensive advertisements that exalt the non-existent achievements of this government. If you want to amuse yourself in this gloomy week read these advertisements and afterwards turn on your television and watch the happy, healthy Indians who smile out of idyllic rural settings for the Bharat Nirman commercials. Make believe is always fun. [Indian Express, Tavleen Singh]

Read it all...

Of course, you have to do your "duty" for those who have made it the "hard way". Get back in the queue...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Terror, what terror

Yesterday, there was a major terror attack on Sri Lankan cricketers. The brave cricketers (or their stupid board) had done nothing (of course, you can argue that their existence did) to deserve this sort of welcome on Pkstn soil. But, luckily, they escaped with their careers intact. In any case, this is the end of international cricket in Pkstn for some time now, but US is lining up more goodies than cricket can ever make for them.

Now, remember, that the Lankans were touring in place of the Indian team. And, there is a good chance that this attack was planned as a welcome for any touring team.

Lucky India, lucky Lanka, but as the Indian general elections comes closer, the big elephant in the room is being ignored - the terror problem. The media has swept the murderous Mumbai massacre under the carpet, as the prior terror before that (and let me just refresh your mind) in Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Surat, Guwahati among the bigger cities. It is not a question of whether the Congress or the NDA has been ambivalent about terror. It is a fact that this current government which seeks us to vote in a cute prime minister has slept on its job of fighting terror.

If the Congress comes back, it is an endorsement of their line that we, as a nation, can afford to be soft on terror and let traitors and terrorists get away with impunity after killing our citizens. If it is a non Congress government, there is no way but to be hard on terror.

Today it is the Lankan cricketers, tomorrow it could well be IPL and we are shitting in our pants already with the home minister suggesting we postpone IPL. So, do we all still believe there is no terror problem?

(Shhh...the elections are nearby, we need to do something - so "secret missions" are being leaked out. Secret or not, this is great news. We need to show a resolve to get them wherever they are.)

Prem Panicker calls terrorism, terrorism - and a spade a spade.

Open Letter to IT companies

Dear Indian IT companies,

I have been reading everywhere that you are making your employees work longer than usual. I read that employees may need to work on weekends, or work on an average each day for 9 hours or more?

Just what exactly are you trying to achieve is beyond me. As far as I know, we are entering some sort of a slowdown. All around me, factories are doing exactly the reverse. They are working lesser. If they went your way, they would be producing more cars (or cement or shoes). But they arent, because not everybody is interested in buying a car (or cement or new shoes) during a recession.

So, what is different about your business? I have never known a restaurant that gets more customers simply because its cooks work an extra hour each day.

What happened to paradigms of smarter, efficient and cutting down wasteful labour? And if employees work longer, surely, you will have to get in more work? Just who is waiting to give you more work in these troubled times?

And not one, almost all companies in one great migratory bird type of reaction have decided that South is the way to go.

Heres a thought. How about thinking contrarian? Reduce the week to 4 days - save money on cost, transport, power and associated infrastructure? Or give a summer vacation week off to employees on a rotation basis, so that they go home and enjoy time with their families? Sure, don't pay them for it. They will only be too happy about it - atleast they know their jobs are secure, by and large.

Or, getting your employees to work from home one day a week on a rotation basis? That will free up atleast one building or a floor occupancy.

Or if you are a start up, simply give up your office. Whoever said work has to be done by travelling to a central location each day? Meet once a month at an offsite - the rest can be handled virtually. Don't trust your employees? Oh come on. Change your hiring process and grow up.

Heres another thought. Encourage them to come up with their own ideas to float a business. For those who qualify, give them your office space free for incubation for 3 months. Charge them for using infrastructure if they wish to continue after 3 -6 months. If it works, great, take a share in it, else take the employee back.

Downturns make people do strange things. Sometimes, it helps them think. Use this downturn to earn goodwill amongst your employees. They will remember when it is back to boom times.

I am a fan of Indian IT- been so for a long time. The reason why your model evolved was partly because your staff was very smart, but also because you figured out that work need not be done at the place where it is created - and thus was created offshoring and an entirel business model. I am hoping you use this downturn to turn some commonly accepted practices upside down...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rahul, Oh Rahul

What charm. What personality. The dimpled smile. The crowd pleasing ability. The charisma.

I have been a fan of yours since I saw you for the first time. (I am not gay, get lost.) Since then, I have followed your ascent diligently through media. Newspapers, magazines, news channels, the internet - you name it, if you can.

And the media is such a dahling fan of yours, you have them eating out of your hand. Believe me, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to get there. Tell you what, they are a nasty bunch of peope to deal with. If they don't like you, you are gone, finis. But, no, not you. You are not one of them who they dislike.

The media truly believes in you and through them, people like me, the unwashed masses (I did have a bath a couple of days ago in hard water with Lifebuoy soap) who blog also believe in you. Drawing room discussions are about you and only you - sometimes, I chat on Yahoo messenger too after giving my i-card to the cyber café owner - they need to do their job on terrorists you see. The media knows what they are talking about. They do not endorse Johnny come latelys.

Why, they do not even endorse Johnny been-forevers. They are fans of certain hardworking diligent people who have come up the hard way - not those lucky to be born in the right household. Lucky you. And lucky me. Thanks to them, I even know your supper. I am such a fan of yours, I have the same thing you had for supper (provided I can afford the ingredients) the next day. I read every printed word about you, especially when I wait in railway stations, waiting for or in the train which is delayed due to some bomb scare some place (airplanes are too expensive after the UDF). Sometimes co passengers don't oblige, they read all those full page ads of these political parties - the dorks. I might even have had a few dreams about you leading me in an all star team or when I am in the helpless audience good enough only to clap. But it does not matter. I will cheer you for ever. I am your non complaining fan. You are the captain I have been waiting for. Why, you are the captain the country has been waiting for. Yes Rahul, you.

I loved the way you danced around in Dil to Paagal hai, the songs in Kuch Kuch hota hai, the masterful apperance in Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham. Rahul is your best onscreen persona - I get confused sometimes on which is which - I am sure you will forgive that. When is your next movie as Rahul?

What did you think I was writing about? Sirf Dil Hi Pagal Hai, Dimaag abhi tak theek hain...

Disclaimer: Actually I am a fan of neither Rahul Dravid nor SRK. I like it when they play well or make great movies or vice versa, but my fanboy days are long since gone. I abhor all dynasties except mine, btw.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Where your money goes

If you said, down the drain, thats right.

The CAG points out (via) that funding on Government Flagship programmes is overstated. What does that mean? A lot of things. But your money is being wasted. Where does it go to? Your guess is as good as mine...

The government was apparently clueless as to how these funds were actually used, as the accounts of these agencies were not subjected to any official checks. It was not surprising, therefore, as pointed out by the CAG, that these funds either remained unspent or were diverted to other, usually unspecified, purposes, thereby depriving the intended beneficiaries, mostly the poor. [BS]

Screw you, mango man...Not that this is a new trick.

It used to be an old trick in both central and state governments for various departments to look for ways of making sure that money, which had been allocated for the year but remained unspent, would not lapse. One convenient method was to move the cash into the bank accounts of associated bodies; while some financial tightening has been done to prevent such parking of funds, it may well be that the old games continue to be played, and NGOs could therefore be a useful ally. It is well known that in the thicket of NGOs that have sprung up to take advantage of government funding, many do not observe proper accounting norms or auditing discipline. And without these, the government cannot, of course, certify to the correct and timely end-use of the allocated money. [BS]

Off the money goes, to the right places.

Otherwise, no one will know when and how the money has been spent. [BS]

Isnt that the whole idea?

Anyway, let that not prevent you from doing your duty...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Swapan Dasgupta in TOI

Superb piece...

The stand alone campaign of the Congress is centred on Rahul Gandhi who, the hoardings say, will bring about the seamless transition from a glorious present to a spectacular future.

This is what makes the Congress campaign an optical illusion. The proclaimed candidate for PM is, as Punjabis say, a good man di lalten but the person being projected is Rahul.

The question naturally arises: is Singh the mukhauta who will quietly step aside for the real prime ministerial candidate after the election is won? Or is he just a night-watchman?

Of course you all know the answer. Get back in the queue. Wait for the one and only one - the difference being this one will keep you in the matrix.