Monday, December 17, 2007

Corporate Brand lifecycle

A pretty interesting white paper by a couple of friends - exploring the corporate branding landscape.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

breaking out!

there are times when you sit in front, wondering where life is heading? this weekend was packed, i did a lot, read some, relaxed, met friends and had a few meetings that direclty impact my future. but, today when i got to office, i just sat, and wondered. why? there is a lot of negativity that surrounds you. you wonder if this is good, if its required and more essentially- how it should not affect you. you need to be able to stand back, and take perspective on issues.

maybe i am crabby because i have not had my morning cuppa. but then again, there must be an underlying cause that is pushing me to this realm.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Coffee shop goes avant-garde in a silent fashion

pretty interesting when an international chain - does something like this.

New Delhi: In a unique bid, a Costa Coffee outlet in South Delhi has employed ten people who can not hear or speak. A few months ago the café chain decided to employ them on an experimental basis. Today, this silent experiment has taken off on a high note.

President & CEO, Costa Coffee, Virag Joshi says, “They are a part of the society and there’s nothing wrong in them. What we can do, maybe they can do it better”.

After being trained for forty-five days, these youngsters were eased into the daily operations of the café. They now manage the show, much on their own and with a little help from their supervisors.

But are they scared of not being able to communicate with customers?

An employee at the outlet, Arti, explains through sign language, “No, not at all. We ask customers to point to items on the menu card or we ask them to write it down."

“They are very nice. They take care of guests,” says a customer of the coffee shop. Another says, “Of course they won’t get jobs easily. They are getting jobs here so that’s good for them”.

Sometimes its good to be in IT! :)

Little would this poor junior officer have thought that the good deed he was doing by sending a DVD with information to the auditors is going to have an impact on the government, the entire country and 25Million people! WOW!

I do feel very sorry for this poor soul. Imagine the pressure. The police, intelligence sources and every possible force in england is looking for 2 discs that contain the personal, bank and social security details of 25 million people. WOW! this is the biggest loss that has happened in England, and speaking from the point of security - its any hackers / identity thief's ideal goal. 2 CDs - 25Million details. WOW!

Thast the way - that working in IT can have significant impact on small actions. Even something as small as burning 2 CDs. I must wish everyone luck here!

Brown apologises for records loss
Gordon Brown
Mr Brown said the government was working to prevent fraud
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he "profoundly regrets" the loss of 25 million child benefit records.

He told MPs he apologised for the "inconvenience" caused and said the government was working to prevent the data being used for fraud.

But Conservative leader David Cameron said the government had "failed in its first duty to protect the public".

The child benefit data on the missing discs includes names, ages, bank and address details.


During a heated prime minister's questions session, Mr Brown said: "I profoundly regret and apologise for the inconvenience and worries that have been caused to millions of families who receive child benefits.

"When mistakes happen in enforcing procedures, we have a duty to do everything we can to protect the public."

But Mr Cameron said: "They will be angry that the government has failed in its first duty to protect the public."

He added: "What people want from their prime minister on a day like this is to show some broad shoulders, be the big man and accept some responsibility."

Earlier, the Tories questioned whether Alistair Darling was "up to the job" of chancellor.

Mr Darling said he "deeply regretted" what had happened, but stressed there was no evidence of misuse of the data.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Darling said his confidence had been "shaken" by what he described as a "catastrophic" incident.

''There's no doubt in my mind there have been very, very serious breaches here.

"People are entitled to trust the government to look after information that is given to it - for child benefit or any other purposes - and that did not happen here," said the chancellor.

He said the information, which was on two CDs, should "should never, ever have left the building in which it was stored".

Mr Darling denied the problem was related to the merger of the Revenue and Customs departments and staff cuts, as claimed by staff members in e-mails to the BBC.


He also hit back at claims his own position as chancellor was in doubt amid continuing difficulties with Northern Rock, which has seen its share price plunge a further 15%.

"I am not going to start running away from things when things get difficult," he told Today.

Referring to the data loss crisis, he said: "It is difficult, unwelcome in every respect, but I am determined to see it through".

Earlier, Mr Darling said banks were monitoring all 7.25 million bank accounts whose details were on the discs, which contained the personal details of all child benefit recipients in the UK.

People are being urged by both the chancellor and banks to keep a close eye on their accounts "for unusual activity".

Mr Darling said that anyone who lost money as a result of any misuse of the data would be covered for losses under the banking code.

On Tuesday the chancellor told MPs how the entire child benefit database was sent by a junior official from HMRC in Washington, Tyne and Wear, to the audit office in London through courier TNT on 18 October.

The chancellor said the official had broken the rules by downloading the data to disc and sending it by unrecorded delivery.

But he reassured those affected that police had no reason to believe the discs had found their way into the wrong hands, nor did they have any evidence of it being used for "fraudulent purposes or criminal activity."

Buck questions

Bosses at the Revenue were not told about what had happened until 8 November and Mr Darling and Prime Minister Gordon Brown learned about the situation on 10 November.

The chancellor said he had delayed an emergency statement to the Commons because banks and building societies had asked for time to prepare and make sure security procedures were in place.

The officials involved waited before informing their superiors in the hope that the discs would be found.

The Metropolitan Police is leading the search, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which oversees the HMRC, is investigating the security breach.

A TNT spokesman said that because the discs had not been sent as recorded it was not possible to verify if they had ever been posted. He added that the company would not be responsible for any losses incurred.

Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Vince Cable asked: "Where does the buck stop in this government?"


Monday, November 19, 2007

After school - keeps crime down?

A recent news article about the after-school program that teaches school kids football, and now gives them a change in their lifestyles - is quite touching, given the circumstances in todays news.

There are many after-school programs - that essentially work to keep the kids busy - and give them something to look forward to - either to learn music, or to study. Giving them a medium to express themselves- artistically or otherwise, does in turn reduce crime rates. Essentially since kids are off the streets.

Chennai: A group of young footballers from the slums of Chennai are gearing up to play football with the Manchester United team. The children from the slums of Vyasarpadi in Chennai- an area known for its extreme poverty and high crime rates - now have a chance to meet their football idols from the Manchester United team and train under them. The training schedule has been made possible due to the efforts of a local football enthusiast and the NGO CRY. A chance to meet their idols has the youngsters excited. When asked about his idol Dhileepan, one of the youngsters, says, "Ronaldo." Another youngster A Raj says Cristiano Ronaldo is his idol. The young players are practicing for the finals of the Manchester United League selections to be held from November 24-27. If selected, four of them will fly to Manchester to get trained by their heroes. And they owe this to Umapathi, an Income Tax department employee, who was also born in the slums. He is teaching the young protégés the power of dreams through football. After training them for free for the last 10 years he says he can see the difference. "The crime rate has gone down in Vyasarpadi. These kids now realise they have a chance to make it big. So they don't go loitering around and stealing. They play football instead," Umapathi, the football coach, says

And this is what a little hope can do to a human being. "We're all going to school now because in London they speak only English. So to be able to communicate, we need to know the language," one of the youngster Ramkumar, says. "We used to loiter around earlier chewing tobacco and playing with marbles. Now we come to train. We have hope now," Hridayaraj adds. And even all of them can't make it to Manchester the journey so far has surely been dream-like.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

about Low Cost carriers

The general misconception of LCC are that they are "cheap". The low cost carriers, were essentially on the costing front, that established themselves on different cost structures. Howver, we are a society that equate Low cost to cheap. And that is just that. The jostling and the pushing that I experienced from the passenger end was somewhat absymal, and the seating space on the airline was incorrigable. I would call them the "flying chicken coups". They push in as many people as possible, and make sure that your "comfort" levels are in the negative.
Now, the new issue, giving them copies of one credit card, is rather ridiculous, as if you are booking a flight ticket for a person from another city, you need to scan the card, sign it, and then rescan the letter and send it to them. Why? is flying a sin?

I might not fly by the LCCs again, but they do are making flights affordable.

The planes also are scary- Every time i have traveled there seems to be some new noise coming thru. Wonder when they will be servicing their planes?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

10 types of programmers- which one are you?

a very interesting blog on techrepublic. All due credit to the author. I found it quite hillarious and.. well... true! :) (View PDF of document here)

Programmers enjoy a reputation for being peculiar people. In fact, even within the development community, there are certain programmer archetypes that other programmers find strange. Here are 10 types of programmers you are likely to run across. Can you think of any more?

#1: Gandalf

This programmer type looks like a short-list candidate to play Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. He (or even she!) has a beard halfway to his knees, a goofy looking hat, and may wear a cape or a cloak in the winter. Luckily for the team, this person is just as adept at working magic as Gandalf. Unluckily for the team, they will need to endure hours of stories from Gandalf about how he or she to walk uphill both ways in the snow to drop off the punch cards at the computer room. The Gandalf type is your heaviest hitter, but you try to leave them in the rear and call them up only in times of desperation.

#2: The Martyr

In any other profession, The Martyr is simply a “workaholic.” But in the development field, The Martyr goes beyond that and into another dimension. Workaholics at least go home to shower and sleep. The Martyr takes pride in sleeping at the desk amidst empty pizza boxes. The problem is, no one ever asked The Martyr to work like this. And he or she tries to guilt-trip the rest of the team with phrases like, “Yeah, go home and enjoy dinner. I’ll finish up the next three week’s worth of code tonight.”

#3: Fanboy

Watch out for Fanboy. If he or she corners you, you’re in for a three-hour lecture about the superiority of Dragonball Z compared to Gundam Wing, or why the Playstation 3 is better than the XB 360. Fanboy’s workspace is filled with posters, action figures, and other knick-knacks related to some obsession, most likely imported from Japan. Not only are Fanboys obnoxious to deal with, they often put so much time into the obsession (both in and out of the office) that they have no clue when it comes to doing what they were hired to do.

#4: Vince Neil

This 40-something is a throwback to 1984 in all of the wrong ways. Sporting big hair, ripped stonewashed jeans, and a bandana here or there, Vince sits in the office humming Bon Jovi and Def Leppard tunes throughout the workday. This would not be so bad if “Pour Some Sugar on Me” was not so darned infectious.

Vince is generally a fun person to work with, and actually has a ton of experience, but just never grew up. But Vince becomes a hassle when he or she tries living the rock ‘n roll lifestyle to go with the hair and hi-tops. It’s fairly hard to work with someone who carries a hangover to work every day.

#5: The Ninja

The Ninja is your team’s MVP, and no one knows it. Like the legendary assassins, you do not know that The Ninja is even in the building or working, but you discover the evidence in the morning. You fire up the source control system and see that at 4 AM, The Ninja checked in code that addresses the problem you planned to spend all week working on, and you did not even know that The Ninja was aware of the project! See, while you were in Yet Another Meeting, The Ninja was working.

Ninjas are so stealthy, you might not even know their name, but you know that every project they’re on seems to go much more smoothly. Tread carefully, though. The Ninja is a lone warrior; don’t try to force him or her to work with rank and file.

#6: The Theoretician

The Theoretician knows everything there is to know about programming. He or she can spend four hours lecturing about the history of an obscure programming language or providing a proof of how the code you wrote is less than perfectly optimal and may take an extra three nanoseconds to run. The problem is, The Theoretician does not know a thing about software development. When The Theoretician writes code, it is so “elegant” that mere mortals cannot make sense of it. His or her favorite technique is recursion, and every block of code is tweaked to the max, at the expense of timelines and readability.

The Theoretician is also easily distracted. A simple task that should take an hour takes Theoreticians three months, since they decide that the existing tools are not sufficient and they must build new tools to build new libraries to build a whole new system that meets their high standards. The Theoretician can be turned into one of your best players, if you can get him or her to play within the boundaries of the project itself and stop spending time working on The Ultimate Sorting Algorithm.

#7: The Code Cowboy

The Code Cowboy is a force of nature that cannot be stopped. He or she is almost always a great programmer and can do work two or three times faster than anyone else. The problem is, at least half of that speed comes by cutting corners. The Code Cowboy feels that checking code into source control takes too long, storing configuration data outside of the code itself takes too long, communicating with anyone else takes too long… you get the idea.

The Code Cowboy’s code is a spaghetti code mess, because he or she was working so quickly that the needed refactoring never happened. Chances are, seven pages’ worth of core functionality looks like the “don’t do this” example of a programming textbook, but it magically works. The Code Cowboy definitely does not play well with others. And if you put two Code Cowboys on the same project, it is guaranteed to fail, as they trample on each other’s changes and shoot each other in the foot.

Put a Code Cowboy on a project where hitting the deadline is more important than doing it right, and the code will be done just before deadline every time. The Code Cowboy is really just a loud, boisterous version of The Ninja. While The Ninja executes with surgical precision, The Code Cowboy is a raging bull and will gore anything that gets in the way.

#8: The Paratrooper

You know those movies where a sole commando is air-dropped deep behind enemy lines and comes out with the secret battle plans? That person in a software development shop is The Paratrooper. The Paratrooper is the last resort programmer you send in to save a dying project. Paratroopers lack the patience to work on a long-term assignment, but their best asset is an uncanny ability to learn an unfamiliar codebase and work within it. Other programmers might take weeks or months to learn enough about a project to effectively work on it; The Paratrooper takes hours or days. Paratroopers might not learn enough to work on the core of the code, but the lack of ramp-up time means that they can succeed where an entire team might fail.

#9: Mediocre Man

“Good enough” is the best you will ever get from Mediocre Man. Don’t let the name fool you; there are female varieties of Mediocre Man too. And he or she always takes longer to produce worse code than anyone else on the team. “Slow and steady barely finishes the race” could describe Mediocre Man’s projects. But Mediocre Man is always just “good enough” to remain employed.

When you interview this type, they can tell you a lot about the projects they’ve been involved with but not much about their actual involvement. Filtering out the Mediocre Man type is fairly easy: Ask for actual details of the work they’ve done, and they suddenly get a case of amnesia. Let them into your organization, though, and it might take years to get rid of them.

#10: The Evangelist

No matter what kind of environment you have, The Evangelist insists that it can be improved by throwing away all of your tools and processes and replacing them with something else. The Evangelist is actually the opposite of The Theoretician. The Evangelist is outspoken, knows an awful lot about software development, but performs very little actual programming.

The Evangelist is secretly a project manager or department manager at heart but lacks the knowledge or experience to make the jump. So until The Evangelist is able to get into a purely managerial role, everyone else needs to put up with his or her attempts to revolutionize the workplace.

Monday, October 29, 2007

History repeats itself

A rather interesting article on IHT, the parallel between the french revolution of the 18th century and the current state of the world.

Much as George W. Bush's presidency was ineluctably shaped by Sept. 11, 2001, so the outbreak of the French Revolution was symbolized by the events of one fateful day, July 14, 1789. And though 18th-century France may seem impossibly distant to contemporary Americans, future historians examining Bush's presidency within the longer sweep of political and intellectual history may find the French Revolution useful in understanding his curious brand of 21st-century conservatism.

Soon after the storming of the Bastille, pro-Revolutionary elements came together to form an association that would become known as the Jacobin Club, an umbrella group of politicians, journalists and citizens dedicated to advancing the principles of the Revolution.

The Jacobins shared a defining ideological feature. They divided the world between pro- and anti-Revolutionaries - the defenders of liberty versus its enemies. The French Revolution, as they understood it, was the great event that would determine whether liberty was to prevail on the planet or whether the world would fall back into tyranny and despotism.

The stakes could not be higher, and on these matters there could be no nuance or hesitation. One was either for the Revolution or for tyranny.

By 1792, France was confronting the hostility of neighboring countries, debating how to react. The Jacobins were divided. On one side stood the journalist and political leader Jacques-Pierre Brissot de Warville, who argued for war.

Brissot understood the war as preventive - "une guerre offensive," he called it - to defeat the despotic powers of Europe before they could organize their counter-Revolutionary strike. It would not be a war of conquest, as Brissot saw it, but a war "between liberty and tyranny."

Pro-war Jacobins believed theirs was a mission not for a single nation or even for a single continent. It was, in Brissot's words, "a crusade for universal liberty."

Brissot's opponents were skeptical. "No one likes armed missionaries," declared Robespierre, with words as apt then as they remain today. Not long after the invasion of Austria, the military tide turned quickly against France.

The United States, France's "sister republic," refused to enter the war on France's side. It was an infuriating show of ingratitude, as the French saw it, coming from a fledgling nation they had magnanimously saved from foreign occupation in a previous war.

Confronted by a monarchical Europe united in opposition to revolutionary France - old Europe, they might have called it - the Jacobins rooted out domestic political dissent. It was the beginning of the period that would become infamous as the Terror.

Among the Jacobins' greatest triumphs was their ability to appropriate the rhetoric of patriotism - Le Patriote Français was the title of Brissot's newspaper - and to promote their political program through a tightly coordinated network of newspapers, political hacks, pamphleteers and political clubs.

Even the Jacobins' dress distinguished "true patriots": those who wore badges of patriotism like the liberty cap on their heads, or the cocarde tricolore (a red, white and blue rosette) on their hats or even on their lapels.

Insisting that their partisan views were identical to the national will, believing that only they could save France from apocalyptic destruction, Jacobins could not conceive of legitimate dissent. Political opponents were treasonous, stabbing France and the Revolution in the back.

To defend the nation from its enemies, Jacobins expanded the government's police powers at the expense of civil liberties, endowing the state with the power to detain, interrogate and imprison suspects without due process. Policies like the mass warrantless searches undertaken in 1792 - "domicilary visits," they were called - were justified, according to Georges Danton, the Jacobin leader, "when the homeland is in danger."

Robespierre - now firmly committed to the most militant brand of Jacobinism - condemned the "treacherous insinuations" cast by those who questioned "the excessive severity of measures prescribed by the public interest." He warned his political opponents, "This severity is alarming only for the conspirators, only for the enemies of liberty." Such measures, then as now, were undertaken to protect the nation - indeed, to protect liberty itself.

If the French Terror had a slogan, it was that attributed to the great orator Louis de Saint-Just: "No liberty for the enemies of liberty." Saint-Just's pithy phrase (like Bush's variant, "We must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself") could serve as the very antithesis of the Western liberal tradition.

On this principle, the Terror demonized its political opponents, imprisoned suspected enemies without trial and eventually sent thousands to the guillotine. All of these actions emerged from the Jacobin worldview that the enemies of liberty deserved no rights.

Though it has been a topic of much attention in recent years, the origin of the term "terrorist" has gone largely unnoticed by politicians and pundits alike. The word was an invention of the French Revolution, and it referred not to those who hated freedom, nor to non-state actors, nor of course to "Islamofascism."

A terroriste was, in its original meaning, a Jacobin leader who ruled France during la Terreur.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

a long drive.

Working for a software company in chennai, does sometimes entitle you to a long and arduous bus journey to and from offices. Sometime, it can be equated to cattle... you arrive in office and you will see all busses coming, dropping employees off and leaving.. so they swarm... colorful clothes filling hallways through the campus.

Well, once in a while you want to break out of that mould- and you decide to drive to office.

last night, my wife tells me that she has a meeting at 9Am, which is INSANITY. Considering her office is about 55 Km from home. So, in order to get there at that time, i would have to drop her at the railway station by about 640. Which was insane. So I said, why not i drop you???
Little did I think- she said "ok!"

anyways, i decided to give my good'ol lancer a run on the highway. We left home at 640, and started driving. Being this early, we managed to beat all the office/college/usual traffic and covered the 55kms in about 1 hr.

It was an awesome drive, wind blowing, crusing at 100, bliss... wish I could just drive on and on. We reached her office and I had to then drive over to mine, which is on the other side of town, another 50+kms. This route is however not on the highway but through a reserved forest region.

I guess, one of the most relaxing drives, is when you can see the road, not a soul and forests on both sides, and you know you are in the city.

It was bliss, RadioCity was cranking some nice rock numbers, put the windows down, and was cruising...untill i reached the "IT Highway"
to put the frustration in a nut shell, it took me over an hour to complete a 11km stretch. In which I think i banged the undeside of my car, went through about hub-cap deep water, got frustrated because of STUPID drivers and basically threw a wet blanket over the state of mind I was in.

Made me want to think, why are people so impatient? there was kilometer long pileup of traffic, and some jackass decides that he can go, and goes... blocking the traffic even more. And if there is an empty stretch, vehicles will go.

To complicate things, the IT highway is under construction, so various parts are either filled with gravel (to increase height) or with gravel dust, to add a foundation. Junta tries driving and vehicles are getting stuck,. Busses, trucks, sumos, bikes...everyone, but they still keep coming. Each thinkgin that they can get out of it better than the previous person.

The best picture- there is a big mess of traffic stuck in this mud and a tractor(HMT type) driver is laughing and driving slowly.. put put put puput puput puput put... I could feel his joy - like the tortoise in the race between the hare.

I finally rolled into office at 920, after completing nearly 120 kms. but it was fun.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Diaspora Dilemma- Taking credit!

Many a times, I wonder, what is it that makes people adapt? to surroundings, to people and most importantly to situations? The whole - bandwagon concept- jumping on when the wagon gets going, is nice, but how much can the bandwagon actually take? the latest of the series- and something that has always intrigued me- our "IndianNess". What makes us Indian, is it our culture, our heritage, is it our skin color or the way we think?

OR - is it simply what the society makes us out to be?

Bobby Jindal's win as the governor or Louisiana has a very large part of the country jumping for joy. but the question is why? Is he Indian? well, I dont know him personally, but from spending 40 years there, I think not. The again, it comes back to the question, what is indian?
He's been born there- so tat makes him an american citizen. His parents "immigrated" there 40 years ago - that in effect is a statement that says that they wanted out of this country, hence the move. Now that he is the good ol' gov' - the people are extatic. I wonder if the poles, or brazillians or even mexicans jump around. Did they - when Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales was appointed? I dont think so.

That's the way we have been. As a nation, we are unique in terms of our appearances and mannerisms. I guess we might be the only society that prides our roots even after we immigrate to a new culture. Or, I might just be fantasizing.

We are a great society. And thats one thing that I am proud of. I know, that below all the bickering and squwabling, we as a society are eons ahead of our time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

India in the future?

In a recent interview with Lee Kuan Yew - the much respected Minister Mentor of Singapore, he had a very interesting point to make about India:

Lee: They are a different mix, never mind their political structures. They are not one people. You can make a speech in Delhi; [Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh can speak in Hindi and 30, 40 percent of the country can understand him. He makes a speech in English and maybe 30 percent of the elite understand him.

In China, when a leader speaks, 90 percent will understand him. They all speak one language, they are one people. In India, they have got 32 official languages and in fact, 300-plus different languages. You look at Europe, 25 languages, 27 countries, how do you? The European Parliament? Had we not moved into one language here in Singapore, we would not have been able to govern this country.

It is our nemisis. Our greatest strength appears to be waning and has not become our Achilles heel. But why? Do we blame politicians? I personally believe they are the ones to blame. Stoking the "outsider" flame in order to gather votes- evidence in Karnataka, Maharashtra and many more states.

The IT boom and the resilient economy has thrust two very important aspects about our country into the light. Our inherent technical and economic prowess, as well as the widening rift between the have's and have-nots.

The in equal spread of wealth is not helping the country as the so called "middle class" is now moving forward with a renewed purchasing power, and the so called "sub-prime" are working harder but seeing no results. But the question is: Are they?

They might be: the standard of living is still going up, with the cost of credit coming down [strictly in the urban scenario], affordability is going up. However, just as they are able to afford a new white good, others are able to afford something bigger. The race to get a better and bigger object is leaving those in the sidelines and watching.

Our greatest asset was and is our diversity. We are a proud nation of languages, communities and cultures; however, that is our greatest disadvantage. Our official language is ... Hindi yes - but why is it that no signboard in Tamilnadu was allowed to be in Hindi? The whole anti-hindi drive continued and spread to various parts of Kerala and Karnataka as well. For what? Are we proud of our heritage as a nation or as states?

Kuan Lee's statement hit the nail on the head- when Manmohan Singh speaks in Hindi - very few understand. We need to work together as a country, to bringing up the country. Not as a state or a SEZ in a city.

India in the future?

In a recent interview with Lee Kuan Yew - the much respected Minister Mentor of Singapore, he had a very interesting point to make about India:

Lee: They are a different mix, never mind their political structures. They are not one people. You can make a speech in Delhi; [Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh can speak in Hindi and 30, 40 percent of the country can understand him. He makes a speech in English and maybe 30 percent of the elite understand him.

In China, when a leader speaks, 90 percent will understand him. They all speak one language, they are one people. In India, they have got 32 official languages and in fact, 300-plus different languages. You look at Europe, 25 languages, 27 countries, how do you? The European Parliament? Had we not moved into one language here in Singapore, we would not have been able to govern this country.

It is our nemisis. Our greatest strength appears to be waning and has not become our Achilles heel. But why? Do we blame politicians? I personally believe they are the ones to blame. Stoking the "outsider" flame in order to gather votes- evidence in Karnataka, Maharashtra and many more states.

The IT boom and the resilient economy has thrust two very important aspects about our country into the light. Our inherent technical and economic prowess, as well as the widening rift between the have's and have-nots.

The in equal spread of wealth is not helping the country as the so called "middle class" is now moving forward with a renewed purchasing power, and the so called "sub-prime" are working harder but seeing no results. But the question is: Are they?

They might be: the standard of living is still going up, with the cost of credit coming down [strictly in the urban scenario], affordability is going up. However, just as they are able to afford a new white good, others are able to afford something bigger. The race to get a better and bigger object is leaving those in the sidelines and watching.

Our greatest asset was and is our diversity. We are a proud nation of languages, communities and cultures; however, that is our greatest disadvantage. Our official language is ... Hindi yes - but why is it that no signboard in Tamilnadu was allowed to be in Hindi? The whole anti-hindi drive continued and spread to various parts of Kerala and Karnataka as well. For what? Are we proud of our heritage as a nation or as states?

Kuan Lee's statement hit the nail on the head- when Manmohan Singh speaks in Hindi - very few understand. We need to work together as a country, to bringing up the country. Not as a state or a SEZ in a city.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

India Reports? or

So what do you do when you need to fill up ColumCentimeters. Advertise.

find the two snapshots one of CNNIBN a leading indian news website and a foreign website in IHT..
Pretty interesting are the quality of documents, articles and reports on IHT that CNNIBNs site is pale in comparison.

The question is - why do such sites exist? what news do i get? that a college student got thrown off the 4th floor? or that South Korean and North Korean leaders are meeting for the first time. Also, its the first time that a minister has driven down from Seoul to Pyongyang. Pretty interesting. He got off the border, walked across the yellow line which says peace and then drove for 3 hours. But none of this is on CNNIBN, instead, they have stupid pictures of some actress saying that she trust some other actor.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

CXOs... Humans as well...

The other day, a friend of mine and I were sitting at a table in the lunch room in office, eating some breakfast. An enigmatic executive officer ( not the CEO, but another X level executive) comes, greets me and sits on the table beside me. his table is at the entrance to the dining area. All of us go on with our lives - talking what we need to talk, and he, immersed in his conversation with someone.

A little while later, a lady come walking up the ramp, physically disabled she was being help by another friend. When they reached the door, they were in the process of pushing- facing some problems since the door is a little tight. At this moment the executive jumped up, and ran to the door and held it open.

Many times, executive officers don't bother. Its an "accepted rule" that the higher you go, the lesser you do, but sometimes this is carried on very literally. Managers wont bother, even to pick up paper that they drop.

Is it "uncool" to be yourself?
Is it "cool" to be a "disconnected" person?

What ever said, this one scene was quite very touching, and even though i dont work directly under this person, I am glad to know him. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What is India?

After Indiana Jones- everyone in america thought Indians ate monkey's brains. Well, things don't seemed to have change much. with 17K people surveyed worldwide - a majority of Europeans thought that India topped in poverty- what about 80% of sub-Saharan Africa? what about Zimbabwe and its 7,634% inflation?

When they think of India they think of Gandhi and Taj Mahal, but when they think of Pakistan they think of nuclear, poverty and cricket, the people across the world, said in a survey conducted by BBC. In the survey conducted on the socio-economic perception on India and Pakistan after 60 years of independence from the British rule, the BBC found that the world also associated both countries with poverty. In Pakistan's case, the respondents also associated it with the nuclear power. The survey, conducted in collaboration with international research company Synovate across 20 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia Pacific and Australia, questioned 12,670 respondents about their perceptions of India and Pakistan. "It was conducted to coincide with the celebration surrounding India and Pakistan's 60th year of independence from Britain," the BBC said. Interestingly, where French, Spaniards, Italians and Danes thought India topped in poverty on the planet, their Eastern counterparts Singaporeans, Japanese and Hong Kong nationals thought India to be a modern nation, high on development and technology.

Monday, September 10, 2007

China and labor?

From a news snippet on Yahoo!.

persons getting fired for not sucking up to the boss! wow! no wonder they are able to strive at 10% annual growth!

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese woman is suing her former employer after falling victim to the company policy of firing staff who contradict their boss three times, local media reported on Thursday.

HWA-1 Enterprise Co Ltd, a light industrial manufacturer based in China's southeastern port city of Xiamen, sacked a woman surnamed Ni for refusing to pay fines she incurred for talking back to superiors, Xinhua news agency said, citing a local newspaper.

The company's policy held that a "first contradiction of superiors" would incur a fine of 30 yuan ($4), a second would incur 100 yuan, and a third would warrant dismissal, the agency said.

Ni incurred a 30 yuan fine after taking umbrage with her factory supervisor for reprimanding her for not filling in a form.

"The factory head told me that, according to company rules, no matter whether management is right or wrong, employees are not allowed to contradict them and must obey," Xinhua quoted Ni as saying.

Ni was then threatened with a 100 yuan fine for refusing to pay the first fine, and was sacked after she threatened to report her supervisor to the company's human resource's department.

The factory's supervisor, surnamed Cao, said it was his legal right to sack Ni.

"The company can terminate the contract of employees who seriously breach labor discipline or the company's rules," Xinhua quoted Cao as saying.;_ylt=AgdIsul78_lmeXDnfsQZ2hEuQE4F

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Battery Killer? finally - something that uses tehnology. :)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Millions of inventions pass quietly through the U.S. patent office each year. Patent No. 7,033,406 did, too, until energy insiders spotted six words in the filing that sounded like a death knell for the internal combustion engine.

An Austin-based startup called EEStor promised "technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries," meaning a motorist could plug in a car for five minutes and drive 500 miles roundtrip between Dallas and Houston without gasoline.

By contrast, some plug-in hybrids on the horizon would require motorists to charge their cars in a wall outlet overnight and promise only 50 miles of gasoline-free commute. And the popular hybrids on the road today still depend heavily on fossil fuels.

"It's a paradigm shift," said Ian Clifford, chief executive of Toronto-based ZENN Motor Co., which has licensed EEStor's invention. "The Achilles' heel to the electric car industry has been energy storage. By all rights, this would make internal combustion engines unnecessary."

Clifford's company bought rights to EEStor's technology in August 2005 and expects EEStor to start shipping the battery replacement later this year for use in ZENN Motor's short-range, low-speed vehicles.

The technology also could help invigorate the renewable-energy sector by providing efficient, lightning-fast storage for solar power, or, on a small scale, a flash-charge for cell phones and laptops.

Skeptics, though, fear the claims stretch the bounds of existing technology to the point of alchemy.

"We've been trying to make this type of thing for 20 years and no one has been able to do it," said Robert Hebner, director of the University of Texas Center for Electromechanics. "Depending on who you believe, they're at or beyond the limit of what is possible."

EEStor's secret ingredient is a material sandwiched between thousands of wafer-thin metal sheets, like a series of foil-and-paper gum wrappers stacked on top of each other. Charged particles stick to the metal sheets and move quickly across EEStor's proprietary material.

The result is an ultracapacitor, a battery-like device that stores and releases energy quickly.

Batteries rely on chemical reactions to store energy but can take hours to charge and release energy. The simplest capacitors found in computers and radios hold less energy but can charge or discharge instantly. Ultracapacitors take the best of both, stacking capacitors to increase capacity while maintaining the speed of simple capacitors.

Hebner said vehicles require bursts of energy to accelerate, a task better suited for capacitors than batteries.

"The idea of getting rid of the batteries and putting in capacitors is to get more power back and get it back faster," Hebner said.

But he said nothing close to EEStor's claim exists today.

For years, EEStor has tried to fly beneath the radar in the competitive industry for alternative energy, content with a phone-book listing and a handful of cryptic press releases.

Yet the speculation and skepticism have continued, fueled by the company's original assertion of making batteries obsolete - a claim that still resonates loudly for a company that rarely speaks, including declining an interview with The Associated Press.

The deal with ZENN Motor and a $3 million investment by the venture capital group Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which made big-payoff early bets on companies like Google Inc. and Inc., hint that EEStor may be on the edge of a breakthrough technology, a "game changer" as Clifford put it.

ZENN Motor's public reports show that it so far has invested $3.8 million in and has promised another $1.2 million if the ultracapacitor company meets a third-party testing standard and then delivers a product.

Clifford said his company consulted experts and did a "tremendous amount of due diligence" on EEStor's innovation.

EEStor's founders have a track record. Richard D. Weir and Carl Nelson worked on disk-storage technology at IBM Corp. in the 1990s before forming EEStor in 2001. The two have acquired dozens of patents over two decades.

Neil Dikeman of Jane Capital Partners, an investor in clean technologies, said the nearly $7 million investment in EEStor pales compared with other energy storage endeavors, where investment has averaged $50 million to $100 million.

Yet curiosity is unusually high, Dikeman said, thanks to the investment by a prominent venture capital group and EEStor's secretive nature.

"The EEStor claims are around a process that would be quite revolutionary if they can make it work," Dikeman said.

Previous attempts to improve ultracapacitors have focused on improving the metal sheets by increasing the surface area where charges can attach.

EEStor is instead creating better nonconductive material for use between the metal sheets, using a chemical compound called barium titanate. The question is whether the company can mass-produce it.

ZENN Motor pays EEStor for passing milestones in the production process, and chemical researchers say the strength and functionality of this material is the only thing standing between EEStor and the holy grail of energy-storage technology.

Joseph Perry and the other researchers he oversees at Georgia Tech have used the same material to double the amount of energy a capacitor can hold. Perry says EEstor seems to be claiming an improvement of more than 400-fold, yet increasing a capacitor's retention ability often results in decreased strength of the materials.

"They're not saying a lot about how they're making these things," Perry said. "With these materials (described in the patent), that is a challenging process to carry out in a defect-free fashion."

Perry is not alone in his doubts. An ultracapacitor industry leader, Maxwell Technologies Inc., has kept a wary eye on EEStor's claims and offers a laundry list of things that could go wrong.

Among other things, the ultracapacitors described in EEStor's patent operate at extremely high voltage, 10 times greater than those Maxwell manufactures, and won't work with regular wall outlets, said Maxwell spokesman Mike Sund. He said capacitors could crack while bouncing down the road, or slowly discharge after a dayslong stint in the airport parking lot, leaving the driver stranded.

Until EEStor produces a final product, Perry said he joins energy professionals and enthusiasts alike in waiting to see if the company can own up to its six-word promise and banish the battery to recycling bins around the world.

"I am skeptical but I'd be very happy to be proved wrong," Perry said.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Toilet Tricks

So, my mother forwards an email comparing water to Coke. And Adsense does this!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

IBM's Global Hold

On Feb. 5, 1924, Thomas Watson Sr. changed the name of the company he ran from Computing-Tabulating-Recording to International Business Machines. The change reflected Watson's ambitions rather than reality. C-T-R operated only in the U.S. and Canada. But since the name change, IBM has been at the forefront of each new wave in the globalization of business—from international to multinational, and now to the next new thing. For three years, IBM has been striving to become what it calls a "globally integrated enterprise." Now, the strategy is finally starting to click.

The strongest evidence that IBM's big bet is paying off came a few weeks ago when it announced its second-quarter results. Revenues were up a strong 9%, to $23.8 billion. Every division reported healthy growth, including the long-troubled IT services group, where revenues rose 10%. But confirmation that the strategy is succeeding trickles in almost every day with announcements of major IT services contract wins in India or Russia. No wonder IBM's stock, trading at about $112, has risen by 50% over the past year—even after pulling back some in the market's summer swoon.

For IBM, aggressive globalization works. In fact, over the next few years, its approach could emerge as a model for other companies trying to capitalize on the globalizing trend without being hobbled by it.

Leading by Example

The model is simple. Under the old multinational rubric, IBM created miniature versions of itself in each country or region where it operated. That turned out to be a cumbersome and expensive way of doing business. So IBM now sets up shop wherever it can find the right talent at the right price. It has a global supply chain based in China, a global IT service delivery system based in India, and a global financing back office in Brazil. The company has set up new management systems to coordinate these activities.

These changes haven't come easily. IBM seems to be in a constant state of upheaval: More than 20,000 jobs have been eliminated in the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan even as the work force has grown beyond 50,000 employees in India and 10,000 in China. "This is a huge shift for IBM, but I believe it's necessary if we are to capture the benefits and step up to the challenges of a globally integrated economy," Chief Executive Samuel Palmisano said at an IBM-sponsored Forum on Global Leadership on July 25 in Washington, D.C.

If IBM's strategy continues to pay off, it could become a model for other large corporations to follow. Just as IBM found that it couldn't compete well against super-efficient, low-cost IT outfits in India, other industrial giants are at a disadvantage against upstarts from the U.S. and elsewhere that are tuned for the new global realities. They're being forced to make wrenching changes, as well. "For the past 20 years, people have been talking about what the company of the future should be. IBM is actualizing those ideas," says Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School.

Shifting Workflow and Revenue

While shifting work overseas to lower-cost locations has helped make IBM's huge tech services business more competitive, there's a lot more to the strategy than labor arbitrage. IBM also has improved its effectiveness by redesigning business processes, automating work with software, and bringing all of its increasingly global capabilities to bear on behalf of clients. The company uses the same processes in India that it does in France. That makes it possible to shift work to wherever employees with the right skills are available. As a result, at any given time, fewer people are sitting on the bench waiting for a job to be assigned to them.

And by hiring tens of thousands of people in developing nations, IBM gains more than the benefit of low-cost labor. It's also helping to build strong economies that are now becoming sizable markets for its goods and services. Revenues from the so-called BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—now represent about 5% of IBM's total sales and are growing at 25% per quarter. Strategic outsourcing contracts from Indian companies grew nearly 150% last quarter. "These are the markets that will hypergrow over the next few years, and IBM will grow even faster there," says Michael Cannon-Brookes, vice-president for strategy in emerging markets.

IBM still faces fierce opposition in IT services from both India and Accenture. There's plenty of competition in its software and computer hardware businesses as well. But, thanks to its globalization strategy, it's no longer the slow-moving, inefficient, and overpriced giant that it was just a few years ago. Globalization is here to stay, and so, apparently, is IBM.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The world in India

Revolves around two things.
1. Cricket.
2. Bollywood.

Yesterday a sentencing locked away an actor for 6 years. All news channels stopped other news- like the DJ take over, Iraq, CR's visit to the middle east everything to run constant updates. A court has pronounced someone guilty - that usually means he/ she is. Unless proven otherwise. Now, after 14 years the sentence is passed and it becomes" tearful" - the country is up in arms about this- the verdict is too harsh - well, why arnt they thinking about the 245 families who lost their loved ones because someone wanted to look macho with AKs and Dessert Eagles?

Anyways - the news is only talking about this. Where are we going ?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Audi moving ahead!

Audi's latest results have put analysts in a tizzy. They are expecting that if the current trend of Audi's sales continues - it will overtake BMW in operating profits by 2010 and by 2012 it will overtake the operating revenues. Analysts expect the rate of growth of Audi to be at 10% per annum for the next three years about 3 times that of BMW. All these are fueled by the new models launched by Audi.

The sights trained on Audi after the 1998 launch of the Audi TT, never did the industry expect a car subsidiary to catch up with main manufacturers. Audi is successfully wielding the same growth strategy premium-market leader BMW deployed in 2000 to outsell Mercedes. Audi, Germany's No. 3 premium automaker, is on a tear to expand its lineup of high-performance cars such as the posh Q7 SUV and the A5 coupe, and it's employing head-turning design to steal customers from the competition.

The numbers tell the story. In the first half of 2007, Audi's worldwide car sales rose 9.8%, to 509,079, as revenues rose 12.4%, to $24 billion. Global sales at BMW were up 4.5%, to 730,285, by comparison, while Mercedes' fell 3%, to 591,200. First-half revenues at Audi rose 12.4%, to $24 billion. Mercedes edged up 1%, to $34 billion. BMW releases first-half financial results on Aug. 1.

With the growing brand awarness - older models, that usally have a lifespan of 3- 4 years usually decline - however, the Audi A4- a Six year old Audi starts at $28000.

Audi managed to sell 162,900 A4 sedans in the first half of this year, up 1.5% over the same period a year ago. And now it is planning to unveil a new-generation A4 in September, which should give it yet more room to run.

In the first half, Audi's U.S. sales rose 13%. Until recently Audi sold its cars in the U.S. through Volkswagen dealerships, which muddled its image by association with a mass-market brand. In markets such as Miami, Los Angeles, and New York, upscale glass-and-steel dealerships have opened, helping to lure buyers with higher incomes. The edgy, minimalist design of the new dealerships exudes upmarket ambience.

Audi is not just selling more cars, it's making more money on those cars. First-half earnings zoomed ahead as more expensive models and an increasingly tony brand image reaped higher margins per car. In the first half, operating profit increased 39.5%, to $1.38 billion, and net profit rose 67%, to $937 million. That puts Audi's 6.4% operating margins on a par with Mercedes' long-term returns and very close to BMW margins. Audi's management vowed two years ago to be the world's most successful premium car manufacturer by 2015.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wild life or Sane Life?

An awesome video of a hunter's maternal instincts overtaking the killer instincts. A leopard kills a babboon, and left with the babboons baby - instead of killing it - started nursing it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Dog eat dog world! :)

Another travel site launched in beta, they need advertising revenue - so they place ads. What are these ads? For other websites offering better fares! :) what is the world coming to!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Toyota Way

Toyota's fast pacing growth towards the number 1 automobile manufacturer with just two car brands (toyota and Lexus) under its belt, as opposed to the several touted by other manufacturers.
maybe this is the reason why:

Fujio Cho has only been in the top job at Toyota for a year, and he is only the second chairman not to be a member of the founding family.

But he's been with the Japanese automotive giant since 1960. He is now 70, not particularly old by the standards of Japanese bosses.

Mr Cho got a law degree from the elite Tokyo University, and then joined Toyota as an apprentice.

He learnt the secrets of Toyota's revolutionary Lean Manufacturing System from the man who invented it, Taiichi Ohno, an unarguable genius.

In the six years from 1988, Mr Cho was the head of Toyota's United States operation in Kentucky at a time of relentless and brave expansion, a long way from home.

He must have picked up a lot of English, but he prefers to speak Japanese when answering reporters' questions.

I suppose it gives him time to think, and thinking is what he does, leaving quite long gaps between a question and its tentative answer.

Mr Cho does not wish to appear to have all the answers. His is extraordinary modesty, and so is his company, considering what they have just done.

Strong sales

Some time around the first quarter of this year, Toyota outpaced General Motors as the largest car-seller in the USA. It is likely that will continue for the rest of 2007.

This is probably one of the most significant business happenings of the past century.

Toyota Rav4
Toyota is trying to behave like an American company in the US

Answering my question about being number one during a visit to the St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland recently, the self effacing Mr Cho does not sound like a chairman of Toyota.

He ducks it.

"I think it is too early to talk about who is number one or not," he says.

"And we do not really consider ourselves number one, anyway. But yes, we've been doing very well in sales in the past six or seven years in particular."

American company

Fujio Cho thinks it is the fact that Toyota now manufactures for local tastes that has made the difference. It is what he pioneered in the USA.

Our way of thinking is very difficult to copy or even to understand
Fujio Cho
Chairman, Toyota

Talk to the people who have run the big three US car companies into almost bankruptcy and they seem to have little understanding of the sheer wholeness of the Toyota system; and part of that completeness is Toyota's refusal to take a victory role after decades of having GM as its global target.

Toyota recognises the dangers of being number one and luxuriating in the glory. Besides, Toyota has political problems to face if it comes out too strongly as the giant killer in the US.

The export of US jobs from rustbelt industries is already a big issue, and Toyota's (defensive) US stance is to become as American as it possibly can, hence Mr Cho's pride in local manufacture and local employment.

Living the success

But there's another wonder about Toyota I wanted to know about.

Toyota factory
Toyota makes cars like nobody else

There's nothing secret about the Toyota Lean Manufacturing System. Anyone from a US rival can walk along the elevated runway in Toyota City, above the production lines, and see how Just In Time, a Different Model Every Time, Lean Manufacturing works.

And yet, few others seem really to understand what's happening down below them on the factory floor, let alone take the lessons back to beleaguered car industries elsewhere in the world.


Mr Cho thinks long about this, and then answers at length.

"There are many factors, so I have to think a bit," he says.

"First, the philosophy needs to be fully grasped by top management. Groups of companies involved in car making have to become one, to move together.

"Avoiding overproduction has to be built into the system, a difficult task. And each problem will have to be made visible, and then tackled by every one of the workers.

"These are all things that companies do not normally do. It's difficult to live the Toyota way of production."

Global benefits?

Just introducing methods and ideas on their own are not going to bring about success, he insists.

"Visiting our factory, you will see that on one line we have eight different types of cars, not just variations. This is done to help our suppliers use up production every day.

"Our way of thinking is very difficult to copy or even to understand. It is even difficult for top managers to understand that this is worthwhile. And doing it this way causes inconvenience all over the place.

"At the start, the line keeps stopping, for example. Even when you see it, it is difficult to understand."

A last, cheeky question: would the company now echo the old GM motto and proclaim :"What's good for Toyota is good for the world?"

Mr Cho grins. "We wouldn't dare to think that," he replies.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hyping News!

With the advent of new news channel, the dearth of quality reporting has made a mark. The other day i was reading a "report" by someone from a "leading daily" in a very large metro - this is how the "reporting goes"

"The accident occurred a mere 16 days after another teenaged driver put two food vendors in hospital just metres away from Monday’s accident site at Khar Danda. Nearby Carter Road has been the site of several accidents in the recent past. Recently, the traffic department said the owner of the car would be arrested if an under-age person was found driving it.

Salim Khan (name changed), a resident of Uttar Pradesh, had been staying for the last few days at his maternal uncle Miraj Khan’s (45) home at Khar Danda.

Salim, anxious to try out Miraj’s grey Maruti Zen, stole the keys and set off on a drive. Only, a nervous Salim (14) hit the accelerator hard as soon as he turned on the ignition, slamming the car into a stall and two houses. Fisherwoman Parvati Saroj (50) suffered severe head injuries.

A terrified Salim jumped out of the car and tried to flee, but he was nabbed by the locals and taken to his uncle’s residence nearby. As Miraj ran to the spot to take Saroj to hospital, locals told Salim’s aunt what had happened.

Taking advantage of a diversion, Salim fled and is yet to be traced.

The teenager’s relatives said the the car was bought only eight days earlier and that Salim

had never driven an automobile before. “It seemed as if he did not know about the brakes,” said Mohammed Ayub, a witness to the crash. Ayub, who was repairing his scooter at the spot, suffered minor injuries after the car brushed his right leg.

The car itself was mangled. “It was so terrible that parts of the car flew into the houses nearby,” Ayub said. "

Given the quality of the article, one wonders on what grounds do editors ask journos to write. This is more like a high school essay submission “a nervous salim,… “ gwad.

Competing closely with bullshit reporting is the television media. You really must give it to them because they need to churn out the same shit, so many times a day, that they should ensure that they don’t get bored of reporting / repeting it. So what do they do? Sensationalize!

The above article was there in a leading news website - Terror in Jammu and KAshmir school curriculum.
Wow! so now with the world already talking that madarsas are teaching all kids terrorist tacticts, an article like this echos just that, but is that the article? no! the article is that they have started introducing methods for kids to cope with terrorism, but talking about it. The initiative itself is brilliant, but the way the headline is given makes you believe that they are teaching something else. Is there NO one to check this kind of "hype" reporting?

Todays article was titled " World Prays:Atlantis stuck in space" You thinking 'OMG" hope we dont have another problem, but then it goes on to talk that there is cloudy weather, hence they cannot land. So as much as it is a temporary phenomenon, you really need to churn out shit to keep readers on one's site!

God save this industry!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Globalization and Economics!

It is an article of faith on the left that the gap between rich and poor has now widened to a dangerous chasm, as global capitalism has enriched rich countries and impoverished poor ones.

But its not quite like that.

It is true that Burundi and other countries in sub-Saharian Africa remain desperately poor, while living standards in the West have risen dramatically, so the gap between the two extremes has widened.

But there is a big group of previously poor countries whose average citizens are now much better off as a result of globalization.

China, India, Indonesia, Chile, South Korea, Chile, Brazil have all moved up, and they are highly populous countries.

Inequality is only unambiguously worse if you ignore the countries where the bulk of the world's population live.

A new Gilded Age?

It's within countries rather than between them that inequality has grown starker.

Shopping mall Garuda, Bangalore, India
Affluence has come to urban areas in developing countries
In China and India, those left on the land remain dirt-poor, but those who've been sucked into the global market have seen their incomes rise substantially.

In the United States, too, the gap between the super-rich and even the middle class has widened.

There is now talk of a new Gilded Age in America, reminiscent of the previous ones in the 1920s and at the end of the 19th century when millionaires bought mansions by the ocean from the mountains of money the had made on railroads or steel or oil, while the poor looked on from outside.

Rising inequality

According to Princeton economist Paul Krugman, the incomes of the middle class and poor in America have barely risen in a quarter of a century,but those at the top have gone up by about 150%.

"It really is a new Gilded Age. If you look at the distribution of income, at least pre-tax, it is the same as it was in the 1920s, and the 1920s looked the same as pre- World War One - so we are in a new gilded age of inequality," he says.

In Britain, the country's thousand richest people now have wealth of about $300bn (£150bn), three times the figure of ten years ago.

That's partly because London has attracted some of the world's super-rich. from the Russian oligarchs to steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, but also because bonuses in the City of London have gone through the roof.

Trade union for the rich?

Finance people all over the world have found a way of securing more money that any trade unionist of old would recognize: play one employer off against another in a very competitive market.

Finance professionals around the world are getting rich. Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones of the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University says the habit isn't confined to Wall Street and London's Square Mile:

"We can see it in the City of London but also in very poor developing countries. They have this curious habit of saying that 'we have to be paid very well because our peers in other countries are being paid well and we will leave if you don't pay us ridiculous salaries and bonuses' that pushes up their levels of income," she says.

$400m yachts

The signs of inequality are now large - literally so on the jetties of Antibes or Florida.

Where it used to be the "haves and the have-nots", now it's the "haves and the have- yachts".

Twenty-five years ago, a top of the range vessel would have cost about $8m (£4m).

Today, it would be $400m, according to Jonathan Beckett, the chief executive of the Nigel Burgess company which sells the grandest vessels to the super rich.

So what do you get for your $400m?

"Nothing is impossible", he said.

"You would have a yacht with two or three helicopter landing facilities. You would have discotheques and cinemas. You would probably have a submarine with opening doors in the bottom of the boat., so you get into the submarine and you get into the hatch and then flood the compartment and you slip away quietly".

Politics of envy

Of course, it's easy to sneer and play the politics of envy, perhaps easier in Britain than in America where affluence is more often seen as a reward for success.

Can you begrudge Sir Martin Sorrell his salary of about $5m a year when he built an advertising company operating in 106 countries out of a shoe-string operation in a damp garage?

Or should George Soros really hand back his billions from his hedge funds when he made them from nothing after surviving the Nazis and the Soviets?

He says there is a duty on the rich but you can't expect them to sort out inequality:

"I do think there is something slightly obscene in the degree of inequality that prevails in the world and to that extent I feel an obligation, but to expect inequality to be taken care of by philanthropists is barking up the wrong tree because some philanthropists feel it and others are not philanthropic. So it really needs social regulation." he says.

In other words, it's for governments elected by the people to determine rates of taxation on the rich and social provision for the poor.

And any sensible policy would recognise that success does merit reward. The question is: how much?

Is equality good for you?

So are there any real, objective consequences to inequality apart from firing up cheap resentment?

Poverty has risen in the US along with affluence
It does seem true that more equal countries tend to have healthier populations than unequal countries of the same over-all economic standards.

Perhaps the crucial question is whether unequal countries grow faster.

If they do, might a bigger cake, with unevenly divided slices, be better for the poor than a tiny cake cut into equal but tiny pieces?

After all, the most conspicuously successful economy of our times is that of the relatively unequal United States.

The academic evidence isn't clear-cut, and it may vary between countries.

Inequality in desperately poor countries might stifle growth, but promote it in richer ones.

Generally, though it seems true that some inequality in a country accompanies high growth, but too much may destroy social cohesion.

The two previous Gilded Ages ended with a bump - the Panic of 1893 and the Crash of 1929.

How will the third one end?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007



By Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desart....Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Technology and Religion

While reading an article the other day, a couple of "hot links" came onot the page. This is a feature of the browser, and now it is integrated into the website, as in, the some keywords would launch as individual search windows.
So, while reading up on some intense technological funda, I get the following "hot links"

I do find the image quite amusing. The article is talking about NBFC's (Non-Banking Financial Companies) and Stock brokers, and the advert says "Sri Sri Ravi shankar Wants to know" :) yup, how to make more money in stocks than in religion, however, sometimes, religion does PAy!!! :D

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The indian Automotive Market

Timeline: India's automotive industry
India has begun an ambitious development programme for its automotive industry, which it hopes will make it a global production hub by 2016.

To many in India, cars remain illusive luxuries

The initiative, which is backed by both the government and by the existing automotive industry, relies on heavy investment both by domestic operators and non-Indian car companies.

Many foreign firms are eager to participate in the likely profits to be derived both from the growth of the Indian market and from the development of India as a major producer and exporter of cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles and automotive components.

Here is an overview of the relatively slow, albeit increasingly rapid, emergence of India's automotive industry.


An embryonic automotive industry emerges in India


Efforts to create a manufacturing industry to supply the automotive industry with components get underway, spearheaded by the Indian government and leading entrepreneurs.

1970 to 1980

India's automotive industry begins to grow relatively fast, fuelled by six automotive companies:

  • Telco (now Tata Motors)
  • Ashok Leyland
  • Mahindra & Mahindra
  • Hindustan Motors
  • Premier Automobiles
  • Bajaj Auto

However, having a car is still seen as a luxury.

This is at least partly because the sector's growth is held back by requirements for production licences and restrictions on both production within India and on imports.

1980 to 1985

Rickshaws in Calcutta
Rickshaws are still commonplace in India

Japanese manufacturers begin to build motorcycle, car and commercial vehicle factories in India, often in partnership with Indian firms.

Component manufacturers also enter into joint-venture agreements, with European and US firms.

Exports start to grow.

1985 to 1990

The auto component sector, which had been protected by high import tariffs, squares up to competitors as the rules are changed.

Maruti Udyog enters the passenger car segment.

During the following years, Japanese manufacturers started selling motorcycles and light commercial vehicles.

1990 to1995

Delhi cab driver 1993
Taxis outnumber private cars in many parts of India

Economic liberalisation gets underway, allowing passenger car production without licences, though import restrictions remained in place.

Hero Honda emerges as a major operator in the motorcycle market, while Maruti Udyog becomes the leading passenger car maker.

1995 to 2000

International car makers enter the Indian market, a trend that accelerates.

Calcutta 2001
India's streets are gradually getting fuller

Advanced technology is introduced to meet competitive pressures, and environmental and safety imperatives.

Automobile companies start investing in service network to support maintenance of on-road vehicles.

Auto financing starts emerging as an important driver for demand.

2000 to present

As India's car market grows, the country is also emerging as a global automotive production hub

Liberalisation of the automotive industry gets underway, with the removal of many trade and investment restrictions.

Cars developed and produced entirely in India for both the domestic and exports markets emerge.

Financial services firms begin to offer car loans, in cooperation with the car industry.

Efficiency, capacity and environmental issues are identified, along with initiatives aimed at encouraging research and development to address such issues.


A post wrten by a friend......


Murali is tapping his fingers to his forehead, trying to remember something. His shoulders are hunched over and his feet twitch sporadically.
"What? What is it?" I ask. He sighs and shakes his head. I trace the letter 's' down his back and yawn. When I open my eyes, Murali is gone. I look under the bed and behind the chair. I call out his name but no one answers.


"What? What happened?"
"Murali's gone."
"What do you mean he's gone?"
"I mean he was sitting right beside me and I yawned and now he's gone."
"Don't be silly, he probably left."
"He couldn't have left, he doesn't know how to open the door. Meaning it sticks and he can't get it open by himself."
"Is this some kind of joke? Do you two have me on speaker phone or something?"
"No, he's really gone."
"Listen, call me back."

I begin to tabulate everything I know about him. He is left handed and has scars on his feet from a bike accident. He collects butterfly wings and hides them between the pages of an empty pocket diary. He never wears a watch. He believes that my door is haunted. Sometimes he thinks there are tiny demon-hands holding it shut. Sometimes he just kicks it and says 'Stupid fuck.'
"How come I can get it open?" I asked him once.
"Because," he said. "You're haunted too."
I open the window to see if he has fallen out and broken his ankle but he isn't there.


"It's Diya. Is he back yet?"
"Are you high or something? It's ok if you are but are you sure he was there? "
"I'm sure. I don't know. I thought he was here."
"Ok. That's ok."
"Diya, I need you to come let me out."
"What do you mean?"
"I can't get the door open, it's stuck."
"Ok. Ok hold on."


The light dims and bends on the floor like liquid. Murali suddenly seems to be everywhere at once, in colored bits and pieces. I remember the curve of his teeth, how I sometimes felt like shrugging him off like a heavy overcoat. I think of all the questions people will ask.
Where you the last person with him?
How often do you lose things in your room? Have you ever lost a person before? How well did you know him?
I know that he hummed when he peed. I know that as a child, he thought girls came from their mothers and boys came from their fathers.
Was anything bothering him?
He didn't like my door. He thought it was vindictive and haunted.
Did you make him disappear?

I don't know.


"Hey, it’s me Diya. I'm knocking, can you hear me knocking?"
"Ok, so how do you want to do this?"
"Pull the door towards you when I say."
"Ok. Now?"
"No wait. Ok now try."
"Fuck. What happened?"
"I don't know. Usually I can open it fine. I don't know what happened today."
"Is he still gone?"
"He's not here. I don't know what happened."
"Everything will be ok. I'm going to get somebody to help open the door and then we're going to figure this out. We'll go look for him, how about that? I'm sure he'll be there."
"We'll find him, don't worry. We'll figure this out."


I picture roots shooting from the base of the door like sprays of black lightning, anchoring it down into places filled with broken things. I don't think they'll be able to get the door open. I don't think anybody will be able to do anything.
The dim light of the evening fades into a thick, dark smudge, swallowing the lines and corners of my room. The only thing I can see is my pillow which is lying on the floor. There is no trace of Murali-- no fingerprints, no butterfly wings, no notes saying 'gone fishing' or just 'gone'. It is like he was never here.

I sit beside the door and listen as a forest of broken bones blossoms inside me..

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