Friday, March 31, 2006

What's that : Bangalore Bug

The word “Bangalored” became a catch word a year ago. (Source : Wikipedia ) .

What’s odd about the term, from the point of view of language, is that it’s unusual for a place name to become a verb, though we may have heard that “Shanghaied” has been known since about 1870, at first in the sense of kidnapping a person to make up the crew numbers on a ship, but now more generally to be forced into doing something against one’s will.

Bangalored” refers to people who have been laid off from a multinational because their job has been moved to India—a business practice designed to save money that is arousing passions in some countries, especially Britain and the USA. Bangalore is cited in particular because of its reputation in the USA as a high-tech city, the Indian equivalent of Silicon Valley that has benefited significantly from such outsourcing.

This was an externally raised topic at the world table but the new term that is creating furore is “Bangalore Bug”. So what’s that?

Jittery, nervous that this is a new bug created by some hacker in Bangalore to break down the security of the Internet and corrupt your system. No No No it’s a new terminology that talks in nutshell the problems that are going to arise due to the pool of skilled labor being finite and subject to laws of demand and supply.

The term has been coined by Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Subramanian of the International Monetory Fund.Raghuram Rajan is among the few Indians who has made such a big name and managing a IMF post at the age of 42. (Details). I sometimes feel great when my elder brother who shuffles his work and classes at the Business School, Chicago says I spoke to this man.

Read here to know more about “Bangalore Bug”. (Source : International Herald Tribune) .

According to the authors, India may be facing a shortage of skilled labor. The authors point out that increasing wages in the Information Technology (IT) sectors have resulted in an exodus of managers from India's traditional manufacturing sectors, such as textiles and manufacturing. Because demand for skilled labor has increased at a compound annual growth rate, wages have dramatically risen, and other sectors have been unable to match these high salaries, which has caused migration of labor.

One of the key discussions which has emerged post the IT and services boom in India is the so called “Bangalore Bug”. The phenomenon goes this way - IT pays big money to fresh engineers, non IT/Tech/Services (ITES) cannot. Consequently non-ITES industries which need skilled manpower become non-competitive due to high labor cost or are starved of high skilled labor. If an engineer can make Rs.20,000 a month in the ITES industry, why would he be willing to work in a manufacturing set up with half the pay, longer working hours and no foreign trips? Also this wage inflation is hurting the IT industry's global competitiveness.

In Bangalore,job shift has become a norm and the majority people do it out of monetary benefits and not from the point of work or executing challenging projects. The funda is simple “make hay when the sun shines” .

The “Bangalore Bug” is principally due to the pool of skilled labor being finite and subject to laws of demand and supply.

The growth of IT has also led to diverging fortunes for many states - while a select handful of states have benefited from increasing foreign investment (Karnataka,Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh), many of India's populous states have not seen much improvement in recent years (Uttar Pradesh,Bihar,Madhya Pradesh,Jharkhand). According to the authors, to ensure that India's states grow uniformly, the Indian Government must reform India's primary and secondary education systems and investment heavily in infrastructure development. My say : remove all engineering schools which have made a mockery of technical education in India and people start these institutes as money churning machines. There are a plenty of these in India,we need quality and not quantity to be competitive and smart.

The authors also recommend removing "the barriers that prevent foreigners and locals from starting new institutions, while improving accreditation procedures and disclosure standards." I am sure everyone is aware of the "no" card shown to Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore when it expressed its plan to expand its campus in Singapore to cater to the international market and generate extra revenue. We need to make radical changes to such policies to enable India's various sectors and states to grow at a more even pace, which is socially desirable.

We need to start debugging this bug soon.

Keep reading and remain connected

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Re-live in History "Bangaluru"

I got an e-mail from one of my friends,Juhi now an ISB'ian and who will don into the corporate world again after she had left the gang a year back for her MBA.Juhi you can't leave "Bangaluru" as now also as history says you are back to square one after your one year break. Kudos to you on your new job offer and keep shining in life.

Tighten your belts and get ready to board the time machine.

Welcome back into the past. Here are some images of Bangalore, generations old, that are apparently lost in the pages of history.Come, travel with me back in time to the Bangalore in the days of the Raj, when it was still a small cantonment town. the year was 1946.The place, "Namma Bangaluru".

Does this frame look familiar ? It should.
This is the BRIGADE ROAD.The left hand side building is still standing, and housed the Ashok Electricals, the Post Office, now it is the LEE showroom. The road hasn't got any bigger, but the traffic and the crowd definitely has.

Here's the SOUTH PARADE road,any guesses what it is called now ?
The famed M.G. ROAD. Yeah. The building you are seeing is the Higginbothams bookstore, which looks dilapidated on the present day.

This picture is of Hosur Road. The present day way to Electronics City,the epicenter of IT and BPO.

This is the Mayo hall. It sure looks much more regal than what it does today. It houses the Courts and was apparently also one of the main Police Station jails. I do not beleive that the staircase shown in the picture still exists, and the view is supposedly that from Residency Road, only after taking a print out will one be able to compare because the building is so symmetrical.

Mark !!! The licence plate shows BAN565 suggests that there were under 1000 cars in Bangalore in 1946 or in the entire state(then known as the state of Mysore.)

If you are in Bangalore and happen to like ice-creams and coffee and there are few places that you can visit.In few of the "Corner House" (ice-cream/coffee shops with a nice vintage touch)or in the "G K Vale" photography studio you can find these pictures and they are even framed in an elegant manner so that you just love them.Sometime back one of my friends Sujatha (Blogs Here) was upset as the petals someone gave her were preserved in between the pages of a heavy Oxford Atlas,only to find one day that she had lost portions of Europe, England, Russia and Africa.But but but my share of loss is not as vast as yours my loss is "Bangaluru".

Keep reading and remain connected

Monday, March 27, 2006

Thande kA Tadka

I saw this Ad yesterday night while having dinner, the latest one from Coca Cola. It is summer time again and the beverage major Coca Cola has unveiled its new campaign for the season. The new 45-second commercial 'Thande Ka Tadka', featuring Aishwarya Rai.

This replaces the 'Piyo Sir Utha Ke' campaign of Coke which used Aamir Khan as the central figure. The previous theme being a series of images of people raising their heads, in different emotions - in prayer, in gratitude, in hope, in celebration, in joy, in relief , raising a Coke bottle to their lips and drinking with their head high up.

Lights,camera,action 'Thande Ka Tadka' : Aishwarya baby is being whistled at by a group of college boys. But, instead of shying away from the rowdy situation she takes the opportunity to change the situation around in an engaging and humorous way. What follows is an entertaining lesson by Aishwarya on the art of whistling. The guys are clean bowled not only by her uncommon talent but also her swashbuckling attitude. The commercial portrays Aishwarya as a salwar-kameez clad simple girl who teaches a lesson to the roadside teasers in a witty manner. This end result aptly captures the sign off 'Thande kA Tadka.' Aishwarya is in a totally unglamorous role but she sweeps the audience off their feet with her attitude, wit, and humor.

The Ad is conceptualized by adman Prasoon Joshi of McCann Erickson. Prasoon who is reported to have expressed elation for having used Aishwarya in this role. “I’ve taken the glamour quotient out of her persona, and utilised her acting abilities to communicate,” he told in an interview.

My analysis:

Why use Aishwarya and why release the Ad at this time of the calendar year ?

a.No doubt that Aishwarya is the brand ambassador of Coca Cola but her popularity after the 'Kajrare' number has soared as never before and Coca Cola saw it as the perfect time to capitalise on her strength for the long summer battle ahead.

b. The 'Thande Ka Tadka' campaign is using the newfound confidence of the youth as represented in the runaway hit Rang De Basanti. In the TV commercial, Aishwarya speaks out her mind through a storyline laced with humor.So MNC’s and other stalwarts have now realised that the non-city,non-metro market and audience is much bigger than that of the urban market and so based this theme with a perfect juxtaposition of India’s middle/small town boom with modernity.

c. The timing is also accurate as schools are going to be closed in a few days and in the northern part of India, summer vacations are already in progress. Since kids would be at home and most would be glued to the TV sets, so this is the best way to increase the sales. Next time they are out in the street, mall or a store this Ad flashes in their mind and they force their parents for this Coke bottle. “Mama mujhe bhi who TV wali 'Kajrare' aunty wala Coke chaahiyee”. Each new dimension when explored, gives the consumer yet another chance to strengthen his or her emotional connect with the brand.

An advertisement is a medium. It carries a message from a manufacturer or service provider to a customer. We all know that. But what we do not know, or care to, is that the medium often becomes the message. And the message, well, the message that the medium wanted to convey in the first place, is lost in a bewildering variety of frills. Take for instance the latest one from Pepsi camp in which Priyanka Chopra along with Kareena is endorsing Pepsi’s latest coffee-flavored fizz that’s likely to be called Cino, i.e. Cola with a dash of Cappuccino.What was the result, it was ultra flop……. Indian advertising, despite its slick, smart strides over the past few years, has not been able to get rid of its bagful of tricks that is clever by half.

The malaise in Indian advertising runs deeper than this. Often, technique is used not as complement but to the detriment of a commercial. Technique is a helpful ally, but lean a little too heavily on computer graphics and other catch gizmos, they blind a viewer with inaneness. Form must never be allowed to lead and cloud content. An advertisement can become soul-less, and ultimately, a useless piece of film or paper. One has to do a lot more here, because "technique can never substitute an idea". It can aid an idea. It can prop up one. The moment an advertisement is all sound and no stuff, all colors and no content, then it will not work. It is like writing a bad book, and printing it beautifully on art paper

But in this case Prasoon Joshi has done his homework well and for your info he has scripted a few songs and dialogues in RDB.

For Aish,its no more Salman or Vivek but who knows this summer the "Thande ka Tadka" may be the cool Junior B,"ekddum citty baajake".

Keep reading and remain connected

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Yeh Desh Ki Dharti IT Ugle Ugle Tech Aur Moti but for How Long

I was just thinking yesterday(after I read a blog by Harshad Oak titled "IT Survivors"), how the economies of different countries evolve, and how each economy manages to find its niche, its USP. The Japanese had efficient manufacturing and expertise in miniature electronics, robotics and automobiles, the Chinese have over-flown world markets with low cost goods and are investing tremendously in manufacturing infrastructure across the board, the Germans have their automobile industry, Finland has Nokia, the Dutch have tulips, the Belgians have diamond, the Americans have their attitude to experiment with science and technology and R&D and so on. And I realized, that so far, the only niche Indian economy has been able to find (in a big way) is basically IT/Tech/Services. (Have some ideas on branding and will post that soon.).I feel tech is a misnomer to be applied in an Indian context, as a very miniscule part of the India is into that area.

Now there’s nothing wrong with IT or Tech industry, but just that in the long run India can’t bank on it.(This is my view.) I have felt this before, but didn’t fully understand the implications – India needs core infrastructure, engineering and manufacturing to really move forward. See the problem with IT is that its primarily a human resource based industry, rather than a core skill/infrastructure based industry. I mean, its not like Infosys, HCL, Wipro and TCS banks on hordes of brilliant hackers to write their code. That’s what Six Sigma and other such certifications are for – if you take a whole bunch of people, put them through excellent training programs, put in elaborate procedures for maintainence, some overview of architecture, code reviews and testing (basic practice of good software engineering), then you’re unlikely to mess up.The reason being that's their forte and they have been doing it time and again.I am told Infosys has classroom kind of training for 4 months after one is recruited from campus. There may be some rationale to this approach but somehow, I don't like it. I feel one learns whatever it may be not in a classroom but when one puts one's hand into the dirt and mud and plays with the same. More than that interaction with the smartest/best people and sharing ideas and trying something on your own is my approach.

However, IT does not build much in terms of core infrastructure. I mean companies surely will be laying down fibre across the country, all homes will have broadband connections, Internet access over cell phones will become easier, cheaper, faster and so on, but these are not the same as say good public health infrastructure, roads and railways, power generation and distribution, iron and steel. Of all the best of things mentioned above, the best of optical fibre cables for broadband is from Alcatel, the mobiles are from Nokia, Sony, Samsung, Motorola and so on. So my point is we don't have the infrastructure capability but of late few foreign biggies are investing in India big time in this area, I feel its too early to comment on the results.

Simple example: I came to the city of Bangalore in 2002 July and since then in a span of 3.5 years till now, the foreign export in terms of IT/Tech/Services has increased by at least double of what was 4 years back. But the civic facilities, infrastructure and roads have not developed at the same pace. I do agree to that fact that all these projects are Government driven where files pass through serpentine queues and non-adherence to official formalities is a norm. On top of all this, the lethal disease of "lethargy" and "chalta hai" is prevelant everywhere. In India this is a part of life but we have to move ahead with this. So we need some fundu engineers, city planners, and administrators to bring about this change.

One of the key differences is that knowledge transfer in software is very easy and simple. If you give me the functional specification of a software, I will most likely be able to build it after understanding the exact requirement. But if you give me the functional specification of an electro-mechanical device,a chip design or a chemical compound, its highly unlikely that I’ll be able to figure it out by myself.The other reason is the zero cost of replicating software. Software is almost trivially easy to mass-produce and distribute. More traditional (and tangible) products are less so. Setting up a "factory" to produce software (or software based services, for that matter) is significantly easier than setting up an iron and steel plant.

My father, an IIT'ian is a core mechanical engineer, who started his life as a product design engineer with HMT and later on moved to a Steel Plant, where he retired in Sept'05 as the General Manager.He understands core engineering stuff and also I sense a lot of logical reasoning in what he says, may be he doesn't understand IT but he appreciates the use of it. I have full faith and confidence that given a chance, he can also write code and program like any other software engineer. I followed his track and turned out to be a mechanical engineer but then my story ends there in terms of similarity. I am presently working for a product software firm, hmmmmm

At its core, the IT industry to me seems a lot about processes and management – how do you manage your human resources, your computing resources, what processes do you put in place, what does your quality assurance look like. And this is primarily because software and software creation have been largely commoditized. Writing beautiful (beautiful = simple (like the cute bindi wali girl and not the jeans one, my definition though) + logical + scalable) code is an art. Writing code that works and doesn’t fail is not. Traditional manufacturing on the other hand is far from being commoditized. Knowledge transfer is hard and expensive, the processes of discovery and reverse engineering is also substantially harder.

IT/Tech/Services in India is on a high tide and the Indians working in this industry are in a "It's the time to Disco" mood.

"Dil Hai Mera Deewana Kya
Kehta Hai Ab Ghabrana Kya
Taal Pe Jab Jhoome Badan
Hichkichana Sharmana Kya
Khul Ke Jhoomon Khul Ke Gaao
Aaoo Aaoo Yeh Khul Ke Kaho
It's The Time To Disco
It's The Time To Disco
Kaun Mile Hai Kisko
It's The Time To Disco

So far the ride has been good but will it sustain ????

Since I’m not an economist and don't understand the driving mechanisms in an economy in minute details, my understanding of these issues is not very deep and perhaps may be superficial. That's the reason I try to read and talk to people and learn from them on whats going in the major sectors in the Indian economy to gain better understanding of the big picture. When I have time, read and surf the Internet and want to discover the world a lot better. Nonetheless, I think its safe to say that India can and should not bank on IT to pull it through the next few decades.

(Note: These views are mine and are not intended on any individual or for that matter any firm/company/organisation.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

They Just Can’t Do it on their own.

Today morning when I checked my email, I found a reply mail in my mailbox and felt like writing a blog on that and bring to light the racist attitude we Indians hold today when it comes to the domain of sports and games.

In the month of September ‘05, I had been to Pune and while traveling back to Bangalore, I didn’t have an air/railway reservation and so had to take the bus. But that long bus travel of more than 15 hours was made all the more interesting as I managed to interact with Grand Master (GM in Chess), Surya Sekhar Ganguly. About two weeks back I learnt that he bounced back with a decisive win in the penultimate round of the ONGC Cup international Grandmasters chess tournament. (Source:"The Hindu")Since I had met him and we had spoken for a while, I sent him an email congratulating him.

During my travel, whatever interaction I had with him made be feel bad. A GM "struggling" on the revenue front and spends his prize-money to meet expenses and to travel abroad for attending international championships. Surya is a simple middle class man and hails from Kolkata. Modern day chess is more about adaptability to speed and technology along with the mental skills. Advanced Chess is about evolving a new playing strength in man versus man conflicts with each side using a state of the art computer to lower one's losing probability through a simple mistake, or in chess terms a blunder. I was awestruck to learn that Surya had to fund his own laptop, which he carries wherever he travels, so that he can practice the game using the latest software available. I could feel what he intended to say, there is a stumbling stone at every step in the form of lack of funds, ill-equipped trainers, no support from the Government and so on. I then asked him why was he in Pune, the reply to which was to meet and play some sessions with other GMs of India to keep his skills polished for the international trips, as his home state of Bengal, doesn’t have many shining stars. Because of his limitation of funds, he followed this training methodology unable to hire international trainers and afford for software that have the ability to calculate three million moves per second. In this manner the night was gone and we reached Bangalore early morning and I dropped him at his friend’s place before rushing for home. His parting statement though may sound philosophical to many but I realised the truth in his dream.

He has planned to take up coaching the kids and school children after his retirement. His philosophy as he told me was "Chess success is an intellectual achievement appropriate for schools. It belongs in schools because: it is a fascinating game,it can provide a lifetime hobby, it has international appeal, it requires a minimum of resources, and it demands that participants exercise their best powers of planning, memory, decision-making, judgment, creativity, and concentration. For these reasons alone, all schools should be providing opportunities for the learning and practicing of chess. Once they're exposed to the instruction, kids get chess fever. And once they get hooked, their desire to apply themselves soars. The ability to concentrate:really concentrate takes a quantum leap the minute chess sinks in. Indian chess is in a very, very bad state. There are lots of extremely gifted players but are facing a living death."

Also during the same time as I was flipping through the newspaper, I found that Bangalore girl, Nisha Millet, the Indian swimming mermaid has declared her retirement at the age of 24.The reason again no backing from sports authorities and lack of sponsorship, brought an end of another bright career. It was a really sad piece and simply showed that even after all these years of repeated political bullshitting of improving the sports situation in India,things are just where they were. Every time there is an Olympics or Asian Games, people say one billion people and one bronze medal, but they don't know what's behind the scene and how hard these people train. At the end of the day, all we are bothered for is certificates and medals, which is like asking a tribal ULFA activist to equal a sophisticatedly and thoroughly trained US soldier.

Nisha Millet was India's flag bearer at the 2002 Olympic Games at Sydney, Australia. An honor achieved by very few, especially at the Olympic Games. Coming out of a surgery for a benign tumor 'Osteoid Osteoma' in the lower back region and a lay off of nearly two years, she tried her level best. She comes from a simple family and her parents have spent close to 50 Lakhs on her career. Swimming doesn’t get much media attention and all the sponsors go straight to cricket. It is indeed very disappointing, but still she kept trying but after reaching the threshold she called it her day."Retirement". She is 24 and I liked one statement which she made in an interview in "The Hindu", that she is going for her MBA in Sports Management and she would do all that she can to improve the abysmal state of affairs as is existent today. "Bravo Girl Bravo".

Now here comes something really AMAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZING.

After making it to the cover of Time magazine, Sania Mirza finds herself listed as one of the ten people capable of changing the world by London's intellectual weekly New Statesman. Yes, perhaps a review of what Sania Mirza has really achieved. This young Indian captured the heart of India and the whole world by winning the 2003 Wimbledon Junior Doubles Championship and 2004 Hyderabad Open Doubles. The media, like hounds sniffing for a story, pounced on this and over-hyped more than just her game - her looks and her dresses, which later created quite a flutter with the Muslim fatwa.

There are a lot of deserving Indian females needing attention, perhaps some deserve it more than Sania. Why lift a Wimbledon 4th Rounder higher than a master swimmer or a chess International master, who too are looking for sponsorship. Personally I feel that the media’s over-hype has definitely gone to Sania’s head along with the newfound attention and advertisements.

This reason for AMAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZING: Sania Mirza being given Padma Shri.Every Indian even those with the bare minimal knowledge/education in him/her must ask a simple soul searching question. Just because that Sania Mirza is becoming a sensation and has risen above the pack of all tennis players to have ever represented India does not mean that the people at the top can do something out of the book. As far as the awards go, the Padma Padma Shri awards are those given for valuable contributions.

Sania Mirza also is more hype than substance though I had initially thought she really had the right spunk, attitude, and a good game, which she would improve on. But all that punk and attitude (and some argue, looks!) is all wasted if she doesn’t have the game. She is celebrated much for her attitude and fashion sense (she wears a nose-ring and librarian glasses). At Wimbledon, she wore a T-shirt bearing the slogan: 'Well-behaved women rarely make history'; at the US Open in September, where she lost in the quarter-final to the Russian sensation Maria Sharapova, her T-shirt read: 'You can either agree with me, or be wrong'.(Source:"The Hindu")

Sania hasn’t really been very consistent for the past 6 months and has been losing most of her matches in straight sets. Perhaps, she has lost her old touch after all the hype. Fame definitely eats up stars and I personally hope she isn’t the next victim of this devil. Yet, all is not lost for Sania yet. She should really concentrate more on tennis than modelling, advertisements and glamour. She is still only 19, intensive training can prove to be of help and she should return with a bang in the French Open and Wimbledon.I feel "Sania Mirza should behave like a Role Model, not a model". See gracious female players of yesteryears: Steffi Graf, Sabatini,etc.

Become the true "Sania Jaisee Koi Nahi" in the center court not off the court.

Don’t get me wrong, please. I am not advocating for any sports person, what I am trying to highlight is that we should move away from this media and hoopla stories and patronise meritorious ness may it be in any sport.

(Note: I am neither a cricket fanatic nor do I follow the game ever, though I understand the rules and regulations used in the game. Swimming, tennis and chess are the three sports that interest me and so made them visible here.)

Have a great weekend and remain connected.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Face of Death

At dawn the calm air and chirping birds belied a painful scene. As the morning rays of the sun spread along the debris-strewn beach, I sat there on the rocks and was waiting for someone. What had happened in 15 minutes the previous day is something that will remain etched on my mind for life long. That was the last “Holi”, an unforgettable day for me and it was in March 2002,the year I completed my graduation.

“It was a scene I’ll never forget.” The white powdery sand on which I’d had spent hours walking was now like a deathbed. I felt the smell of death in the air that day. I had lost my friend “Uggi” in a disaster and was waiting to recover his body.

How did all this happen?

I studied my engineering program in National Institute of Technology which was better know as KREC and is situated in a small hamlet called “Surathkal” off Mangalore city while driving towards the temple town of Udipi. (Campus Details here.) This is one of the most picturesque campuses in India and boasts of natural sea-beach .The best part of the my college life was I met hazzar students from all over India and these were some of the smartest, talented, brightest, intelligent and above all the most fun loving and helpful junta. “Uggi” was one fellow whom I met the very first day, I joined my school in 1998 and he hailed from Andhra Pradesh.He was into Chemical Engineering but I don’t know I somehow connected to him as we both thought on the same wavelenth,bandwidth and frequency. I don’t know or will ever know the reason why Uggi had a fascination for my T-shirts and for four years he used all my T-shirts. Life was on roll and by early 2002 almost all the students were placed in the best of the firms in India and many already had confirmed calls from the top schools in the US for their Masters and few others had made into the B-schools in India and abroad. In the midst of this, an incident occurred which shocked the entire campus.

It was day of colors “Holi” and many students had been to the college-beach and it was around 11 AM. There was excitement in the air and few of the juniors had entered into the sea completely oblivious of erratic nature of the sea. One of the juniors had gone far enough and “Uggi” somehow felt that something is going wrong. He swam and reached the point and was able to pull the junior but suddenly a mighty wave came and all was lost in a second. The junior was saved but “Uggi” was not seen for sometime and this triggered an alarm in the mind of many students.

Immediately the local fishermen were asked for help but they blatantly declined of any help as this was against their norm. They expressed that it was their rule never to enter into the sea after they have seen the sun. I was left speech-less and crying with folded hands requested them, what rules and norms when I am having my friend gulped by the violent sea. But all this was invain. The deep-sea divers at the Naval Base at Mangalore were informed but it was pretty late. The reason I say it was all useless is that, if someone is under the influence of the violent current of the waves for more than 15 minutes, then death is invincible. Still efforts continued but there was no result, even till late evening.

Uggi's” parents were informed but were never told of this accident and were asked to rush immediately. That day the entire night I was sitting in the beach all alone and hoping at least to recover the dead body. My association with Uggi flashed in front of me like a slow movie. Strange what memory and the passing of time can change, and what the sea and nature can do. The next day morning I was the first to detect his dead body, which was floating between the deep curves of a ridge. The body had inflated to twice the original volume as it had been in saline water for more than 15 hours and that day also he was wearing my T-shirt.

The worst part was when I along with my other batch-mates carried the dead body to his parents. The worst part was to handle “Uggi'smaa who till now was not aware as to how all this happened. She was speaking in Telugu but I was able to decipher what that meant and that was painful and it was as if blood was oozing out of one’s heart.

“My son Uggi is my first son, my only son, 21, my only son, the head of my family. He had dreams and hopes and I, his mother, must fight to protect him. This is now more than 15 hours from the time we got the telephonic call, we are waiting to know what happened to him and I, his mother, I need to know what happened to Uggi. His young sisters need to know what happened, his uncles and aunties need to know what happened to Uggi, his father needs to know what happened to Uggi. All his friends back home need to know what happened to Uggi. I need to know, I want to protect him. I'm his mother”,Saying this she collapsed seeing the body, for that matter any person would have collapsed.

After all this, we carried the body to “Manipal Hospital” in Mangalore city to conduct the post mortem examination. The reports were mandatoryly needed as “Uggi's” father wanted to carry his body to Tirupati to perform the last rites and as per Indian rules you cannot do that unless you have a death certificate or report if the cause of death is something un-natural.

I sometimes feel crazy, my friend sacrificed his life to save his junior and people want to certify that it was un-natural citing some absurd reason. I felt like holding each and telling what the truth is.

“There are neither words nor ways to describe the incalculable loss, I feel even today. Uggi was snatched from me without warning,”

I wrote this blog as when I entered office today morning a co-worker wished me “Happy Holi” and something was running in mind as a back ground process and before I left for the day at work, I hung up the phone, closed all work sessions on my desktop, closed my eyes, sitting alone in my cubicle made a wish … wish GOD I meet Uggi soon. But you still owe me my T-shirts and I want those, please give me those. I miss you.If my friend can give his life for someone,can I not give up the small festive pleasure of “Holi”,and that’s the reason I don’t play “Holi” ever.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Which one do you like?

· The first class is people who know how to think and how to think simple and according to what the people can connect to. These people realize that most problems are open to creative solution. If a problem appears in the lives of these people, their intellectual training will quickly lead them to a solution or an alternative statement of the problem. These people are the source of the most important product in today's economy – ideas. Ideas that are context+region+cost+scale sensitive. In India "McDonald’s" did the right job of showing it as another "wada pau" item.If someone happens to be in Forum Mall in B'lore on weekends you can see the imposing crowd there in front of McDonald's out-let. That's the magic of brilliant localised marketing and idea sentimentisation.

· The second class, the vast majority, is people who cannot think for themselves. I feel these people as "idea consumers" – metaphorically and technically speaking, they wander around in a gigantic open-air mall of facts and ideas. The content of their experience is provided by television, the Internet, market analysis and other data pools. These people believe collecting images and facts makes them educated and competent, and all their experiences reinforce this belief. The central, organizing principle of this class is that ideas come from somewhere else, from magical persons, geniuses, "them.".

Hey sometimes we don't have to toil hard to work out an idea.It just comes.

So which one do you like (this Bunty or Bubli OR “I looovbe It” McDonald’s Ad ) VS ( Sophisticated Pepsi Ad in which hunky John Abraham, the new Pepsi model, is trying woo his reluctant female employee for a sip of the soft drink).

Disclaimer : This doesn’t mean I don’t support globalisation. I do support every iota of it but when it comes to application of ideas in marketing and sales,then be local. Think Global Be Local.

Saw this video on ABC News. Watch it if you can,has some nice comments by few of my favourite thinkers: Friedman,CK Prahlad,Nandan Nilekani,common Indian junta and the growing Indian Youth Power.(Check the Video here)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

International Women's Day

March 8th is marked as International Women's Day (IWD) every year and marks the occasion of women all over the world coming together to look at a tradition that marks the struggle for equality, justice and development. Though I have not read many books on this topic but from what I know,this IWD is the story of ordinary women as makers of history and the idea of celebrating such a day first arose at the turn of the century, in which the expansion and booming population growth brought about radical changes in women's lives.

As I scribble this blog,many high sounding terms such as 'free market', 'globalisation', 'liberalisation' and 'new economic policy' come to my mind which echo in the newspaper and media of the day. Being the IT capital of India, Bangalore has a large influx of people all round the year. As a natural extension, newer homes are set up in the city and people look for domestic help in the form of cooks, housemaids, drivers etc. This has blossomed into a full-fledged business over the past few years. But one woman with whom I have interaction everyday morning is my house maid and I call her "Amma". To me she is the true symbol of the rise of Indian women. Everyday morning she cleans my house, washes my clothes, and hangs them on the washing line in the verandah, clipping them with plastic hooks so they do not fall when the weight of water has left. On weekends I prepare tea/coffee for myself (I know only to make these) and share the same with her and at times I discuss with her how things are moving in her life. Her husband works in restaurant and she says their only aim is to educate the two kids they have. At times she is worried as the kids don’t study and freak out with the other junta who live near their the chawl (slum). Her reasoning is sound which is if the kids study the bare minimal they can at least join factory or an office and not end up doing routine mundane tasks.

"Amma" works in four homes. All her employers (Raheja Residency) are working women who have given her a spare key to the house so that she can come any time and do all the work required. Since working employers are so rushed in the morning, they prefer not to have anyone come in the morning to clean the house. "Amma" is relieved she has no one sitting on her head and her employers are happy that they come to a clean house. "Amma" receives Rs 300-Rs 450 every month from each of her four employers, higher than the market rate as everyone trusts her.

Change tracks now....

While the news-stands are flooded with the likes of Business Maharajas and Business Guru speak, there has hitherto been no book exclusively featuring women entrepreneurs and business tycoons with a profound insight into their learnings and strategies. The Indian working woman, with her resilience and intellect, balances her family and career judiciously – especially when she leads a domain as challenging as business. (Source: Youth Curry). As a tribute to Indian women in business, there was a need for a long time to bring out their successes and challenges through a series of personalised stories. This job was done with great maturity by Debashish, an MBA student at, IIT Chennai and Nischinta who is pursuing her degree in Economics from Stella Maris College, Chennai. (Read more here)

The list of women interviewed in the book include Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Sulajja Firodia, Shahnaz Husain, Naina Lal Kidwai, Simone Tata, Priya Paul, Ritu Nanda, Ravina Raj Kohli, Ekta Kapoor, and Sharan Apparao all shining stars of the new age Indian women.

When the first American music videos and popular TV shows began appearing in Indian homes in the early 2000s thanks to satellite and cable, many pundits predicted Indian society would never be the same. For the first time, young Indian women saw a regular dose of sexy, scantily clad divas shimmying. Female viewers also saw independent, successful women -- think Ally McBeal -and fun, sensitive guys in Friends. Sex and divorce were openly discussed in these TV imports and couples kissed passionately, then still a taboo in Indian TV shows and movies.

Indeed, the impact on younger generations of Indian women has been profound. Whereas Indian women traditionally have been submissive to parents and husbands and valued frugality and modesty, a number of sociological studies show that young Indian females now prize financial independence, freedom to decide when to marry and have children, and glamorous careers

A generation back, women would sacrifice themselves and believed in saving. Today, it is spend, spend, and spend. It is O.K. for a woman to want something for herself, and people will accept it if she goes out into a man's world making a statement. Because today's young women are the key consumer group of tomorrow, these shifts have big implications for marketing companies. This is a phenomenon, which started in big cities/metros and with time is spreading to small towns and villages.

The success of "the new Indian woman" in sport is a story waiting to be told. And as much as the marketing men make it appear that the main character in this story is a fair-skinned, confident, 19-year-old daughter of a builder born in Mumbai and brought up in Hyderabad, and is now among the top 40 tennis players of the world. That’s the Sania Mirza chapter. Another one is something we know well, though not as well as the Sania Mirza coverage. It is the success of a 28-year-old champion brought up in a town named Kottayam in Kerala — who is currently world number four in her chosen sport (long jump), Anju Bobby

Amidst all these stories of success and celebration are some facts, which are scary to look at. Since I live in a city and meet people who are all doing good in life. There is an air of goodness everythere, but the entire India doesn’t reside in B’lore, Delhi, Pune or Mumbai. Still we Indians rank very high when it comes to rape, child molestation, dowry case death and a big list of horrifying wrong deeds. I don’t want to get into all those here, as this is a day of feel good for all Indian women.

I dedicate this blog to three honourable and respected women in my life. My maa, a simple person and who teaches kids even when her kids have all crossed the quarter century age barrier. Bhavna, my sister a thorough techie who shuffles office work, personal life and family life with panache. Finally it is also for Vidya, who is one in all kind of a lady, one of the smartest and fundu technical and people manager I have ever seen. Congrats Vidya on your second baby.

One lady who is multi-faceted and to whom I look upon and respect immensely is Sujatha.

Cheero to all of you and remain the special persons in my life as you have been till date. Hey it was not that I was reading a regular run of the mill thanks letter as they do on stage on Oscar’s day, I genuinely treasure these people and so mentioned it here.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Wipe Off The Monster

Street harassment, eve teasing and sexual harassment are these signposts of a cultured society,definitely not …but we can see,hear and feel about the spread of these dreaded tentacles in our day to day life.

Across boundaries of age, sex and locality, crime seems to be penetrating into the veins of my City (the pensioner’s paradise), or at least, that is what the ordinary Bangalorean, who is unaware of the geopolitics of crime and terror, feels. People seem to have become jittery about the happenings. The city newssheet of “The Hindu” or “The Times of India” or any newspaper abounds with reports relating to crime/assault/abuse/theft. Slots on prime time in TV channels have added to the mayhem. Police blame "sensationalism" and "excessive" coverage by media as the reasons for fear psychosis among people. Media seems to focus only on crime because it makes interesting reading and viewing, complain many.

But then there can’t be smoke without fire. I do agree that media makes the presentation a bit more exaggerated but then these incidents of wrong doings do happen and that’s a fact.

Street harassment has become a common activity in B’lore these days. The soft targets are college girls, workingwomen, elderly people, call centre and IT/Tech firm employees. For females it is generally mobile phone/chain snatching, which was unheard of a few years ago, now tops the list of crimes reported in the city. This incident happened with one of my friend’s brother on the night of 25th Jan’06 in the Arkere locality, which is right behind the IIM Bangalore, campus off Bannerghatta Road. My friend’s brother who works for Wipro was returning late that night from office. He was stopped by a three-member gang who first hit him and then robbed him of all his money and other valuables. The miscreants had covered their faces with masks and were carrying iron rods and crude knives. They threatened of dreadful consequences if he lodged a police complaint and then left the place driving the fellow’s bike. My friend’s brother had cuts and bruises all over his arms and legs, some parts of them swollen. (Note: This was later informed to the police and it had come in the B'lore edition of TOI dated 26th Jan’06)

The powerlessness to deal with the situation had pushed the individual over the edge. He is a strong man but this incident traumatized him to the extent that he was planning to move out of B’lore and re-locate to Pune. I could understand the rationale behind his decision as of late his wife, a workingwoman had delivered a baby and for any person the security of his/her family members and near and dear ones is of utmost priority. After going through long hours of thought process he decided to move out of that place and has shifted to a locality called “Malleswaram”.

There's something really scary about the state of public transport in Bangalore. Few of bus conductors are also totally evil. The reason this is unnerving is because Bangalore offers two modes of public transport to the common man - auto rickshaws, and buses.

Few auto rickshaw drivers are totally evil down to the bottom of their soul, with their primary mission to cheat and loot every customer. Among the many interesting experiences I often have after work-hours, the most intriguing ones are my interactions with the famed auto-wallas. Intriguing because it is kind of a love hate feeling that I have developed towards them. And they represent, to a good measure, of what defines us as human beings as well as proves how we are still a part of the animal kingdom. I had missed to drive back home with my colleague and hired an auto agreeing to "10 rupees extra" for no apparent reason whatsoever. OK, so far so good, mind it,its only 8:30PM now and I am heading towards Koramangala, a locality which auto wallas are fussy to drive to, so the I agreed for the extra amount.On the way I spotted another hapless colleague and asked her to get in as she lives near to my place. We reached our destination and the driver asks double of what I had agreed upon – a part from me and the other part from the other lady. “Bull Shit”, absurd reasoning, now there were two passengers but when we made the deal there was only one,thats me. But my colleague whom I had invited for the ride gave what was demanded from him and left me to deal with the idiot.

There are various incidents that can be cited to make the points as above. All their unethical charges above the meter, absurd, doctored meter readings, the fleecing of newcomers by taking a longer route, asking for one half/double before/after the appointed hour, have grown like horns on their heads shadowing the occasional halo. My point is not all auto wallas behave in that note, but the actions of few leaves an impression in our minds that all belong to the same cadre.

On crowded buses, women are subject to every kind of indignity and invasion of their personal space. And if the numbers of such cases on the city's transport system is low, that is probably because Bangalore lacks an effective public transport system like it is in Mumbai and Chennai, forcing regular commuters to depend on two-wheelers or three-wheeled auto rickshaws. A small number use cars to move around. On Dec 13th, 2005,the rape and murder of a call centre employee, a 24-year-old woman Pratibha, by a person pretending to be the late night driver of her company transport has sent a chill down the spine of the BPO industry in Bangalore.

Eve teasing is a term that refers largely to sexual harassment of women in public spaces, thereby constituting women as 'eves', temptresses who provoke men into states of sexual titillation. Considered a growing problem, eve teasing ranges in severity from sexually colored remarks to outright groping. In India, people say that the way a girl/woman dresses is to an extend responsible for drawing the attention good or bad. I feel this is crap reasoning as like males, females do have the right to dress the way they want. More so the females whom I have met and interacted so far in life, all dress sensibly and smartly and feel more than 80% of B'lore does that. I can’t brand a female colleague of mine who comes to office in pants and suit as doing something to grab attention. Com'on its part of the business attire. I had read this article last month as to how Jasmeen, a graduate from B’lore, is collecting old clothes from across the country for her project. Not just any clothes. Clothes that carry with them tales of harassment.(Read more here)

I feel one of the causes of this horrific behavior is the images being splashed across the media.Indian Movies play an important role in propagating this behavior. Many Bollywood movies depict scenes of eve teasing showing this behavior as a way to win his "mehbooba's" heart. Others show this as a behavior for men to indulge in some 'fun' at woman’s expense of course.

Many psychologists believe that sex, love or fun is not the only motive that men indulge in this behavior. Eve teasing is closely related to the patriarchal mindset of Indian male. Men are raised to believe that they are more powerful- physically and emotionally than women. They feel that they are doing nothing wrong - having some fun! Women on the other hand are made to feel vulnerable and the ‘weaker sex’. It sounds so cheap and at times I feel shame that I am part of the same society and what have I done so far to wipe off this malice.

I think the Indian society will be looked upon with skepticism, one with fake values, and highly hypocrytic, if we don’t take corrective steps. India is a place where women are worshipped (in theory) and women don’t have enough security to be on her own (in practice). So how can this change happen,Is it through laws/rules, etc etc, can any law cause a change in mindset? Men have to be sensitized into respecting women as individuals in their own right with the freedom to live on their own terms, earn, be educated and enjoy an existence without fear.

What I think is that, women cannot expect anything from society. Our society is both blind and deaf but is vocally extravagant. The emancipation of women lies among the people itself. The guts and the will power to stand up for one self. Do not even dream of being bestowed with independence, freedom and respect by men. You have to fight and earn for yourself and at the same time support your fellow people, not bowing to society at large. Well society matters, but what if the values held by the society are fake and is practiced hypocrisy.

(Thanks to Sujatha (Blogs) for inciting me to write this blog, this one is for you.)

Make this world a safe place for my maa, my sister, my co-worker,my friend,my colleague,my wife, my daughter, my sister-in-law, and my aunty……Keep reading and remain connected.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

This one is for Nandya ...

Today as I was leaving for home after work, it suddenly stuck my mind that it’s the B-day of someone special and my mailbox has many mails from him but this one was special.

Hi ,

This is me with our latest acquisition....A ball python..along
with him...we have another two tarantulas that share our humble
apartment....Thats Jayanth the proud owner of these babies posing with
one of them. A feeding session consists of Crickets for the Tarantulas
and Little baby Mice for the Python.



Presumptions,assumptions and generalizations are the very bane of communication, aren’t they? (Don't tell me these are Critical Reasoning Questions). The more we assume about people, based on stereotypes, the less we give them a chance to be themselves. So much that eventually, the person you think you know is more a creation of your own conclusions rather than who they really are. A total waste of getting to know someone, that’s how I think about a person. A person should be one s/he is and be not what the world wants him/her to be.

And so often anyway, it is the exceptions that prove the rule. So isn’t it best to just let a person be, discover them for who they are, the opinions they hold and the ideas they generate.. and be pleasantly surprised at how different from the so-called norm they are? Soon enough one realizes that there is no norm in the first place. Nandu,I like you because you are no norm follower,"tu jo hai so hai" . I miss the long discussions and chumma talks which we used to have in your room late nights, especially in the final year with music in the background and a novel/book as company.

"Nandu/Gandu/PJ King/Anand/Gujju/Nandya",these are all the synonymns of a huge small moving log and on your B'day I wish you all the best in all that you do.By that way any new additions to your nickname list. Shine on and succeed in all your endeavors.

"Khuda karey ki tu sau saal jiye". Nandya (Blogs) need more postings from your blog, update it more frequently. I know your re-search work keeps you busy but then try for at least half an hour every week.

Have a nice day and remainconnected.