Saturday, July 18, 2015

Will the cloud rain

This blogger has been a longtime supporter and votary of the Indian outsourcing industry, but it looks like the wheels of technology have come full circle.

The industry - which has been fairly people dependent is slowly moving onto the cloud. And that means lesser people, fewer maintenance and fewer manual intervention. That also means that the manpower driven technology offshoring business will, eventually, taper down into a more technology intensive industry.

Ironically, the same engineers who once transferred knowledge from offshore to India are now building the same 'cloud' systems that will take their jobs away. Not that it is something to shed tears for, any industry will transition as it should.

So, here is the time for those in the industry to start moving up the value chain - or into the value cloud and quickly or look at solving problems differently or solving different problems.

Infosys - has moved - quickly - by hiring someone who has that experience at the helm. Whether he will turn around the Titanic before the iceberg only time will tell. But for the others, this change is round the corner.

May we live in interesting times indeed for the industry.

Meanwhile, people have read the writing on the wall and here is one company - Freshdesk that has a SaaS model originating out of India and doing very well for itself!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The long road to success

Narendra Modi - has been at it. For more than a year now. Sure there are promises, there is work being done, there is outrage being created, there are speeches and there are other things happening.

But you have to give credit to the man for something that he has done. And therein lies a lesson for us as well.

Modi is cleaning up the muck left by the last 60 odd years of government (or lack of it). He is laying the highway to the future - both literally and figuratively.

He is bringing in rules, transparency, technology in all spheres. Whether it is fixing leaky subsidy buckets, whether it is making policies independent of people, whether it is convincing people to give up subsidy (now isn't that one out of the box idea), whether is getting coal plants operational, whether it is fixing up nuclear supplies...

And on the literal side, building highways, defence capabilities beyond just procuring weaponry - but actually capability to manufacture in India, building rail lines, making it easier for travelers and so on and so forth.

He could done it the other way round - like the Congress does. Hoard resources, create crony capitalists, create supra legal advisory bodies that only take care of their own needs, create communnal and caste based legislations, talk symbolism but deliver little on the ground.

As a Modi supporter, I wish he did better than this - and really worked on decimating the Congress ecosystem that has bled the country over so many years, but this is a good beginning.

And therein lies a lesson from "If:

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

He is taking the long road to success. Instead of bleeding the country with more populism, doles or handing out proverbial fishes, he is laying the foundation of teaching people to fish. This is tough for any leader. 

Kudos to him for going the hard way - and a lesson for all wannabe leaders around. Do the right thing - the hardest thing - at a given point to get to success.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers day, Mothers day, Valentines day, Yoga day

Today was the first ever International Yoga Day. It falls on the day of the Summer Solstice. As events go, it was a spectacular day in India with celebrations across cities. There was an unmistakable buzz over the past many weeks with yoga teachers, yoga schools, schools and offices also pitching in.

What started off as a proposal at United Nations is now a full blown international event.

Yoga is undoubtedly Indian and Hindu. Created by Patanjali and enhanced over the years by many schools, gurus - it has brought benefits untold to many - and for free, no royalty, no nothing - while many have made their millions out of Yoga. Yoga is undoubtedly Indias gift to the world. And there is no shame in stating that it is Indias gift to the world.

But there are a few who want the country to resist and deny the traditional knowledge. Why would they want it to be so, I fail to understand. Truth is, as a nation, we are emasculated - over the last many hundred years. With our education, with our upbringing, we are ashamed of what we are traditionally - in general. And hence a larger disinclination to brand anything as traditional (read Hindu) - lest it be branded as regressive. And it is these mindsets that prevent us from seeing good in anything traditional (ditto).

We want to ape western civilization - we love celebrating Mothers day, Fathers day (incidentally it is also today) and perhaps even Valentines day. And there is nothing wrong in celebrating all of those - while at the same time it is ok to acknowledge and recognize our traditional festivals and traditions. One can have both. One can celebrate Thai Pushyam with as much gaiety as much as Halloween (and that is one of the great things of Hinduism - that we are not exclusivist unlike monotheistic ones).

Despite having so much going against them, these traditional knowledge systems have survived - though they could have thrived and been much more than what they are today. And perhaps Yoga day will help this process, if not for other things, for yoga atleast.

Therefore, full marks to the Modi government for having marketed this to the fullest. There were quite a few non-controversies manufactured around this event, but the net event was a grand success.

And for all those days we have imported, we can export this one day and it is a good move.

India does have quality yoga schools  and this one yoga day can have a cascading effect on tourism, yoga teachers, among others both within the country and outside.

Perhaps a yoga university is in order.

Not to forget health benefits to those who do yoga just at a physical level - it has increased awareness by a huge factor...

(Yes, yes, there is a large body of yoga knowledge beyond this obvious physical exercise and those who are interested can go beyond...) Meanwhile the naysayers can continue...

And I am sure the next Yoga day will be an even bigger event with more scale and fervor...

[And btw, the Summer Solstice positioning is a smart one as well - traditional festivals always coincide around these astronomical events (notice that the sun shines through Stonehenge on this day - that is no coincidence).]

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dharampals five volumes - 1

I got this link again from a bunch of tweets and finally downloaded all of Dharampals 5 volumes. This book is actually to be read in conjunction with Will Durants book. Will talks about indigenous knowledge and how it was destroyed. Dharampal, in his monumental work, has ploughed through English archive materials and from their documentation gathered how much indigenous knowledge India had accumulated.

The section on astrology and maths is fascinating to say the least. And to our communists an leftists who want this bit of history to be obscured - they almost call it a myth - because they want Indians (read Hindus) to believe that their ancestors were idiots who deserved to be invaded and conquered.

But that is my rant.

Dharampal goes through the archives lists out every single with references and cross references and in any other country, this would be a must read in every childs bookshelf and every history curriculum, but not so in India. In any other country they would have figured out these ancient tomes, sought them and reconstructed a future with the knowledge in them. But no, here we are taught to reject our traditional knowledge - well, if you know something you will reject it, here we don't even know enough about it.

What we lost mainly because of the English though every earlier invasion had played a part in the same - is mind boggling.

There are sections on Iron production in India, the Chennai mortar, Agriculture and the use of the drill plough, 'dammer', Astronomical advances and observatories, Mathematics...It is mind boggling. One reading has hardly got me scratching the surface...

The case for India

Through a chance conversation on twitter, I realized that a book by a name, "The case for India" written by Will Durant had been republished by Strand book house thanks to Mohandas Pai.

As Indians, this is a must read book for us. And a great read for those who still hold the view (and there are several of them even today) that British rule was good for us.

Interestingly, the book actually makes a case on both sides - so in that sense it is actually quite a balanced read.

But the part which caught the eye for me was the first section, where in paragraph after paragraph, the author references English documents apart from his personal experience to bring about the atrocities that were carried out in India in the name of civilizing the natives.

His introduction documents it thus,

" of the human race - suffering poverty and oppression bitterer than any to be found elsewhere on the earth. I was horrified. I had to thought it possible that any government could allow its subjects to sink to such misery."

"...And the more I read the more I was filled with astonishment and indignation at the apparently conscious and deliberate bleeding of India by England throughout a hundred and fifty years. I began to feel that I had come upon the greatest crime in all history."

Note: This book has been written without the knowledge or co-operation, in any form of any Hindu, or of any person acting for India.

He lists how the East India company profiteered at the countrys expense. How they took over state after princely state. How India fought for the British and paid for it. He talks about divide and rule. About the high percentage of taxes. The figures of the national debt of India.

"The result is a pitiful crushing of the Hindu spirit, a stifling of its pride and growth, a stunting of genius that once flourished in every city of the land."

He talks about economic destruction, social destruction and death.

"When the British came there was, throughout India, a system of communal schools, managed by the village communities. The agents of the East India Company destroyed these village communities and took no steps to replace the schools; even today, after a century of effort to restore them, they stand at only 66% of their number a hundred years ago."

And then after a chapter on Gandhi, he speaks about how the revolution began. The divide and rule policy and its manifestations. And a fairly graphic account of Jalianwallah Bagh.

Many of these things like the Montague-Chelmsford reforms, the Rowlatt act - we had studied in history but in an antiseptic way. This book gives it in black and white.

The places which were administered by natives like Travancore, Baroda actually did much better than English rule.

He also has a second part in the book where he lays out some of the good parts of English rule and so on. And frankly the part where he says that Gandhis spinning wheel won't solve Indias problems rings true even today.

All in all a good read to know another perspective on Indias colonial past.

We may talk English, walk English today - but we have also lost a substantial part our heritage, a large of indigenous knowledge and perhaps, most of all, somehow overlooked the brutality of the colonial rule and what it did to the country. And I wish that people read more such books that brings out the real truth behind many of these atrocities in India. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mr. Modi go after the corrupt

Mr. Modi, one of the great things of getting a large mandate is that you can afford to do big things. Unlike others, I will not talk about big bang reforms that may re-create the universe (simply because I believe in tipping points).

But remember, one of the big parts of your campaign was the corruption under the previous government.

As promised, we have no doubt you will deliver on the Imaandar sarkaar. But just having an imaandaar sarkaar won't do. If an imaandaar sarkaar means that they will deliver a corruption free regime from the point they took over, that is like saying your predecessor was integrity personified while the minions looted millions under his nose.

Yes, that comparison is odious, even to me, but on the ground perception matters. Your friends in the media are not your friends at all have slyly equated all governmental corruption as 'government' (read your government) at worst or started to ignore those corruption scams as if they existed in another century. So, those cases are in the background for all but the most astute of political watchers.

This is where a little bit of showmanship is required. It is important to be personally incorruptible, as you are. It is important to have honest colleagues, like you have. It is important to check the bureaucracy and its various elements who may try to slip in some dishonesty, as you have no doubt seen. But it is also important for you to be seen doing more than lip service in the process of eliminating corruption. There are two aspects - one is greater transparency in government procurement and so on and so forth and better policies. The second and if you ask me, more important part is to throw in news about making CBI independent, going after crooks and feeding news about the progress in the investigations of the various scams and scandals. And currently the impression is that other than Subramanian Swamy, nobody in the government is interested.

There are enough scams flying around.

2G and its offshoots like Maxis-Aircel.
The National Herald Case.
The curious case of the damad - which can significantly blunt the #zameenwapsi campaign.
The coal scam.
The CWG Scam (whatever happened to this).
The Westland helicopter saga.
Hasan Ali money laundering case.
Saradha scam (not entirely connected to UPA, but who knows)

This is just from my memory. And I am sure there are other scams in many of those government files under your office and others.

Please unleash those animal spirits and go after the corrupt. Believe me, if none of the biggies engaged in corruption find their way into Tihar, the media will ensure that the people believe that UPA was as clean as a whistle.

So, please go after the corrupt with all your legendary zeal. Godspeed!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Caste census in Karnataka

The government of Karnataka, is conducting a caste census exercise. Initiated by the Karnataka Backward Classes Commission, it is all about conducting an enumeration of castes. I haven't received it myself and will write in detail so when the form does reach my house.

But here is something that gives you an idea, a blog by a Congress ex-minister. The blog starts off well - with some promising thoughts on how reservation has kind of created a 'class' that thrives on this reservation and how reservation has not really reached its intended beneficiaries etc.

And then, this sentence sort of jumps at you.
"The court has spoken of transgenders but we must think of the minorities and sub-minorities too. What about, for example, poor and disadvantaged Christians and Muslims." [Jitin Prasada Blog]

And it ends well, honestly:
The time has indeed come to move ahead of an ossified categorisation based on caste, which has succeeded only in marginally improving the lot of the underprivileged. A new socio-economic bloc has to be identified cutting across all castes and religions, where only the deserving who actually need uplift should come under affirmative action.[Jitin Prasada Blog]

Now lets add 2 and 2 of the blog (which I think more or less reflects Congress opinion). Here is some background of the census etc. From what I read here

Any householder, whether Dalit-Christian, Dalit-Muslim or any non-Hindu denomination, can opt for a Hindu caste, thereby becoming eligible for benefits available to members of that category. The Dalit-Christian and Dalit-Muslim communities in particular have been clamouring for such rights.

So, what does it mean. It means, a few things. You can choose your own caste. And second, even after conversion, you get to benefit from your old caste (atleast on paper). 

Now ostensibly this is for a new social order, but knowing the Congress it will only pave the way for more clamour for quotas. An ever increasing race to be deemed backward. Like the Jats want to and the Gujjars want to. And also its a strategy to divide Hindus - I read someplace that Lingayats (or was the Vokkaligas) were portrayed or asked to portray themselves as non-Hindus and suchlike.
Yes, this is indeed Soniajis experiment for 2019. How to divide the country further in the name of reservation. Slice and dice and get the right vote banks.

The other part which kind of goes unreported for secular reasons is that, conversions from Hinduism happen, ostensibly, because of discrimination within the Hindu  fold, as per the dominant discourse in the country. But the resistance to conversion is also because, once you convert, you lose the benefit of the reservation which is based on the Hindu caste system. But remember they have converted into religions that promise that there is no caste (and that is as blatant as a lie that you can get - because (atleast in India) there are places of worship denominated by caste and sect in both these global religions). Continue to offer these reservations and then, well, you give conversions a free run. 

Nowhere is the question that reservations are a product of shortages. And while affirmative action is required is this the right way and the only way to do it? By creating shortages? Or by giving equal opportunity as opposed to equal outcomes? And is it by dividing people by caste - which they ostensibly want to get rid of? Why not talk of reservation per generation only - so that if the parent avails it the next generation does not get it and so on and so forth...

A legacy of 60 years of Congress rule and misguided socialism has got us here. And every now and then Congress makes noise on quotas in private companies on the basis of religion - they had, after all, ordered a survey on religion within the Indian army. And of course, the meritorious leave the country at any rate. And this campaign is endorsed by leftists whose favorite party has a stellar track record of having Dalits in its politburo (the top decision making body)
Keep a close watch on this because this is Congress's Idea of India. An India divided sharply into vote banks. Divide and rule, Congress style...

Watch this space...

Caution: Undeveloped thoughts...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

India: Tipping point

In the book Tipping point, Malcolm Gladwell argues that small things in the right place at the right time and the right place make a huge difference and as one keeps on getting small things right, it tips the balance in favor of success.

The Narendra Modis government is working along these lines. This is early days yet, but if you take a look at his actions - and the actions that his government is following, it is all about tweaking the nuts and bolts, of filling up ditches dug by the previous government.

Lets go over a few things they have done. One, look at the coal block and the spectrum auctions. They have created a policy of 'transparency' - as opposed to the policy of non-transparency followed by the previous government. So, in both the spectrum and the coal block auctions, the government has made windfall gains which it passes to people instead of passing it onto cronies.

The Prime Minister has travelled far and wide since he took office - signing uranium deals with nations ranging all across from Canada to Australia.

Take both these things together and you will see an India that may very nearly have 24X7 power - which is far from the case today.

(The next step is to make reliable electricity and make consumers pay - which is not the case in most states in India because electricity is free. And what is free is unreliable.)

Top level corruption is gone. The lobbyists are busted. The corporate espionage scam is both a warning and a reality of how much 'middlemen', 'lobbyists' were making a mockery of the system - obviously in connivance with the powers that were. Corrupt bureaucrats are being shown the door - as are those who are shielding them. Laws are being tweaked - rather made simpler. Obsolete laws are being abolished. Add that to transparency? And what do you get? Ease of doing business.

And what will ase of doing business achieve? That means companies will open factories, offices, startups will flourish and employment will be generated. This is a generation that is hungry for jobs. And once 'Make in India' starts to take root, jobs will get generated.

Add to the emphasis of Make in India when it comes to defence and you have an entirely neglected industry that has the potential to make huge inroads into the Indian jobs market. This is one segment successive governments have neglected because defense procurement is the one area where cronies get to make, remake and multiply money. Closing the door on this is also about better defence preparedness for India among other things.

What about farming? And rural areas? Here is where the Jan Dhan yojana, direct benefits transfer (LPG money for urban folks, but much more for other parts of the country) will have a collectively greater impact than 'garibi hatao' slogans. Building skills for India - is another aspect in building employability in the youth

Every one of these are programs with vision, big ideas, but executed well, together they will transform India.

PS: Big bang reforms and those who want them are one thing, but we need a lot of small things also. Like a Swacch Bharat and a visa on arrival for tourists - Cleaner India and ease of entry - mean more tourists. More tourists mean more revenue. These are small things - as an example in one sector. And the Swacch Bharat initiative has had a viral effect - from entrepreneurs to corporates to housing bodies to children, everybody knows about it. Will India get cleaned in a day? month? But surely it will happen...

And this just a sliver of things that have happened...In 5 years, India will transform...