Sunday, December 25, 2011


Reading ahead as the book talked about the Constituent Assembly and the process which our fore-fathers followed in framing the Constitution, there were a few speeches quoted on reservations and on national language. I found the speeches very moving and they very well drove home the point as to why reservation was needed by the oppressive sections of the society and the unjustness of the demand that House proceedings be conducted in Hindi alone and not also in English.

The remarkable thing I found was that the speeches and the other arguments given at that time, hold merit even today. Now is this an indicator of our failure to progress as a nation - is a debatable thing.

However, the most striking part is the BabaSaheb B.R Ambedkar’s points of caution which he mentioned in the end after acknowledging everybody’s support and effort in framing the Constitution. I could not resist but draw out examples indicating that we have failed to get his message.

 ·   The first warning -“Popular protests” and their place in a democracy.
 He clearly said that Gandhian methods (civil disobedience, Satyagraha and non-co operation) – methods of popular protests were relevant under an autocratic regime but when there are Constitutional methods in place they better be abandoned.

·   Second warning -“unthinking submission to authority”.
   BabaSaheb said that although hero-worship or Bhakti plays its part in life, following it in the sphere of politics was degrading one self. I think he meant, that no matter how charismatic a leader we get, we shouldn’t be submitting ourselves, our support to him without rationally analyzing his agenda, his motives.

·   Last one - "Content” with political democracy.
   He warned us that we do not become complacent with attaining a democratic status but rather work to get rid of the inequality and hierarchical order prevalent in the society.

Unfortunately, looking around us – the society and political spectrum, we seem to have not paid heed to his words!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tale of the Vale of Kashmir

Carrying on from where I had left, I read a couple of more chapters – which dealt about how Sardar Patel went about the arduous task of merging 5oo odd princely states into the Union of India, in particular the accounts of Travancore, Bhopal, Junagadh and yes, Kashmir as well.

The way Ramachandra Guha gives the account of events is simply brilliant. All the while I was reading, I was getting this great feeling of satisfaction that the events I am reading are authentic from a credible source, devoid of any artistic freedom which a Bollywood story-teller might have taken had this been his task. Yes, there were a few “Oh-I-never-knew-this” moments as well and they were bound to be there as all this while I have been relying on media and hear-say for the events that happened then. But no more!

One particular thing I found interesting was that initially Sardar Patel was also content to let Kashmir (governed by a Hindu ruler over Muslim population) go, but when he saw the not-so-friendly stance from Pakistan on Junagadh(Muslim ruler over Hindu population) he realized their hypocrisy and changed his stance.

Another thing which hasn’t found a mention in school textbooks is that one particular place in J&K (Poonch) had a particular kind of animosity against the then Maharaja which translated to anti-India sentiments and was one of the reasons that triggered the 1948 invasion from the North-West. Guha, does acknowledge that Pt. Nehru was kind of filled with regret over taking the issue to the UN but he was very much hurt by seeing power politics governing the affairs of UN.

An innocuous remark from Guha which I found hard to fathom is that he attributed the tilt of UN over Pakistan to their gifted orator, one Sir Zafrullah Khan. How come the Indian side had no great orators on their side then? Does such a trivial thing impact the outcome of such a sensitive issue? Any answers!

To end, a piece of triviaJ:
The only naval defeat ever inflicted by an Asian state on a European power?
Sinking of a Dutch fleet by the State of Travancore in 1741 (Amazing!!)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Back Again!

So after a short hiatus finally I have been able to get some precious time to get started with India After Gandhi. Although it is hard to complete a 770 page book in a span of 15 days but nonetheless, I would try and cover as much as I can at my own leisurely pace.

 It is hard to describe in words the pleasure of doing what one likes on a sunny winter day in the comforts of our home. I am lucky to have this opportunity and surely will try to make maximum use of it.

So, today I completed the first chapter of the book. In the prologue, Ramachandra Guha beautifully highlights the challenges that were before him while writing this book. He explained – For a contemporary historian it is more challenging and difficult to write for his readers as they are more likely to have their own strong views over the topic as it was something that occurred more close to their lifetime. Thus, the reader is himself less trusting on the author for the account which he lists. Whereas, in writing on figures and issues of further back in time the reader is more trusting and relies on the author to guide and teach him about them.

The major theme of the chapter was how much Gandhi was disturbed with the barbarism and violence that followed the Partition and his travels all over India appeasing the raging emotions of the Hindus and Muslims who were displaced through the Partition. However, by the time I finished reading it – the accounts of violence, the shady role of RSS and assassination of Gandhi; it had left a bitter taste in the mouth.

For now, this much for what I have covered. Will write more as I progress further!

P.S: I came across this interesting piece of trivia which might feature in the next season of KBC (who knows!)
On the night of 14th-15th August, 1947 who were the three main speakers? One was Pt. Nehru and who were the other two?
Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman (represented the Muslims) – proclaimed the loyalty of the minority to the newly free land
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (praised the sagacity and courage of the British)
Pt. Nehru (As the first Prime Minister of India)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Next on the list...

Just as I had finished reading “The World is Flat” I was wondering whether I could keep up the momentum; as in follow it with a book.. similar in terms of impact and theme. Luckily participating in Stratagem (a biz plan event) in my college fest along with three of my good friends (Ashish, Atul and Rohit) paved the way for another interesting reading assignment. Finishing amongst the finalists ensured a gift voucher from Flipkart. After much deliberations I decided to go for “India After Gandhi” by Ramachandra Guha.

The idea behind going for this was that this book acts as a bridge between the school level history books and Thomas Friedman's “The World is Flat”. The school curriculum gave a good insight into the Indian socio-environment before Independence and Friedman very well points out how globalization has benefitted India and made it a fast growing robust economy. While this one talks in minute detail about the change India has undergone through after Independence which I find very appealing. Its something very different which we have been accustomed to - reading about India pre-Independence.

So, I am waiting for some free time after the semester (although its unlikely) but still I hope it would be yet another good reading experience.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Battered and Bruised

Tribute in Light in remembrance of 9/11

On the 10th anniversary of the gory attack on Twin Towers, one can’t help but regret the lost innocence our daily lives had. This dastardly attack brought terrorism and its dangers into public conscience. Sadly, the war against terrorism has acquired the colour of war against Islam or the next Crusades – which is very unfortunate. I don’t agree with the argument put forth by the proponents of this theory that had America not launched an all-out offense against Jihadists, radicalisation wouldn’t have occurred. To me, the offense put by USA in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan didn’t seem as an over-reaction. Perhaps, it saved its people of many of such catastrophic attacks.

Talking in context of India and the recent Delhi blasts, I find it extremely harsh to put the blame on the forces. Let us accept the fact that any kind of fortifying of public places cannot stop a determined terrorist. Also, we can’t put snipers on every chowk or on all public modes of transport or on all places of public significance. And India cannot be an Israel or USA (for whatever inherent characteristics it has). Ironically, the answer to the threat we face is more vigilance which is in contradiction to the reality mentioned above.

Means of deterrence are an immediate response but in long-term more easily accessible opportunities for the common man to grow economically might help dissuade many future “Kasabs”. The prosperity that terrorism tends to destroy is in itself the anti-dote to this disease.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Task Done!

Finally after a lot of persevering and dedication I managed to finish Friedman’s book The World is Flat in approx 2 months. I don’t remember me ever reading a 600+ page book completely or even for that matter a heavy course book. But let me admit that reading this was one of the best learning I got in terms of globalization, the present world. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it – I wouldn’t have derived such enjoyment even from a Harry Potter novel.

Friedman emphasized very well the affects of how computer/new technology was affecting our lives, the job opportunities and how its going to change the social landscape in coming years. The best part was I could relate it to my field and visualize what all challenges this is going to throw up.

A lot of his arguments simply blew my mind; few of which I put up here.
Someone interested in the out-sourcing debate or why/how India has evolved into an IT power will also find it worth to read.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some more Lessons

Here are another set of interesting conclusions that I could draw through my course of reading Friedman’s The World is Flat. Amazingly, these theories which he presented are spot on in the Indian context.

• Society’s ability and willingness to pull together and sacrifice for the sake of economic development

Well no need to list the protests against SEZs, highways and the tussle over land acquisition. India is still trying to find a middle path which would balance development and interests of those lying on fringes of this process.

• Presence in society of leaders with vision to see what needs to be done in terms of development

India has had a fair share of such visionary leaders but at present there seems to be a void. Amidst all the babas and fasts we are still searching for the leadership that has the willingness to use power to push for change rather than to enrich themselves and preserve status quo.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hippies, Yuppies and now... ZIPPIES

I have been trying to read Thomas L Friedman’s book The World is Flat and have come across some pretty interesting observations he has made. Now this one takes the cake as it beautifully summarizes the evolution of the global ‘youth’ all these years. I’ll just describe it in my own words as it is too good to be overlooked.

Hippies formed an integral part of American culture in the 1960s with all the drugs and rock-and-rolla. Many of them could be seen on the banks of Banaras searching for enlightenment in saffron clothes. Remember Dev Anand’s movie Guide! This trend particularly took off after The Beatles came down to Rishikesh to the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Although they are not in as many numbers as before but they can still be seen around in Goa and on the banks of Ganges.

The high-tech revolution in the 1980s transformed many of them into Yuppies. The emergence of new technology in workplace revolutionized the way things worked and many of them transitioned to the stage of Yuppies. These were people who were able to take advantage of the development and the removal of inefficiencies in the workflow. The increase in productivity gave them rewards which were unthinkable before.

But the IT boom in the late 90s opened new avenues, new scope for everyone as it made the playing field level for everyone irrespective of his/her social and financial status. The hope it generated gave birth to a new breed of people Zippies - who are buzzing with energy, have age on their side, seek challenges and are goal-driven. And its not hard to guess that this class of people are from India – raring to scale new heights and jump over many of the economic levels at one go. Every household in India has atleast one potential Zippie.

How True!
A very remarkable connection between the Generation X, Y and Z.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Good to Read

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.

I came across this incredibly relevant African proverb in Thomas L. Friedman’s famous book The World is Flat. He however used this as an anecdote to emphasize his point, and I couldn’t move further without reading it again a few times. This I feel is Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution put forth as simple and blunt as it could be. Unless you brace yourself well enough to get your prey, nature will make sure you fade away - and it applies on everyone.
In this season of Boards and competitive exams results, its relevance becomes starker. If one is not mentally able enough to out-smart the other thousands of competitors he will waste away the opportunity and the efforts in the run up to it. Amazingly, our lives are ruled by this prey-predator contest played out each day in the distant wilderness. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Times Change So Quickly!

This sounds so true in our respect. First, we had such a horrible start to the season that we wished it ended quickly and now we desire to watch this team play few more matches with the kind of football they are playing.  Personally, I would have been happier to watch  this team keep playing without any season break. Last few games were a treat to watch barring the last week hiccup. But I understand the unrealisticness of my thought. :P

Another perspective to the above quote can be understood by the recent title victory by our arch-rivals Manchester United to finally eclipse our great feat of 18 titles. Yes, it hurts to be honest specially to note that we haven’t won the Premier League for a long, long time. But again looking back at the quote instils in me hope that surely this phase is about to get over now with the arrival of mercurial Kenny Dalgish. Hopefully, with a handful of shrewd signings this summer we will be able to mount a serious title challenge next season and finally break the brief drought of trophies at Anfield breaking open the floodgates of cups and medals.

P.S: I remember Steven Gerrard saying that Joe Cole was as good as Lionel Messi. Sounds horribly wrong right now! But still, he would not have said so just like that. I think he should be given a season more. What you guys think?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

On a Learning Curve..

After riding on high hopes for about four-five months finally, the results of IFC are out and  I'm happy that the suspense ended. Although, I didn't make the final list but it was a good experience all together. And it was good to know I still need to polish my writing skills a lot to be able to write an award winning entry.

So, here's yet another entry (theme : Inclusive Growth) which I submitted.
The award winning entries for the category :



The economic scenario has undergone a sea-change in India since Independence. To say that the economic reforms of 90s were the beginning of the change won’t be wrong at all. When India got Independence the feeling was that if we had to progress, the wealth should be controlled by the government and the public sector. The principles of socialism seemed very appealing and it was hoped that India would develop into a socialist state having influence over almost all the companies which would ultimately lead to the betterment of the society. Private sector was viewed with suspicion and contempt probably because it was against the idea of Socialism. It was thought that private sector would lead to the concentration of wealth in a few hands with wicked intent. But unfortunately after persisting with socialist beliefs, say at least till the 90s, these principles have failed to provide upliftment for the Dalits and the downtrodden and now the idea of Socialism has been abandoned and is treated with disdain. The same observation is noted by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani in his book Imagining India.

The shift in the ideas about ‘what is good for the country’ is an amazing story in itself. The mindset of a nation, that was too young and had just got to rule itself by its own, was against Capitalism. It viewed Capitalism as a “dark and evil force” that threatened to destroy the nation's democratic and socialist objectives. Thus, there was no role thought of for the private sector in the growth of the nation, moreover it was kept separate and treated with contempt. It was only after the country faced the 1991 economic crisis - when it finally rolled out large scale economic reforms, did the nation get to see the prowess of the private industry and started looking towards it with a lot of hope. This shows in itself how drastically the situations have changed since Independence.

History has taught us that as a nation we cannot keep ourselves aloof from the rest of the world. There has to be interaction with the outside world and this exposure to the global surroundings has led to a stage where it is being envisaged as to how the private sector can contribute in the growth story of India. In fact, if we have a look at the trusteeship formula- greatly emphasized by the Father of the Nation,Mahatma Gandhi, where he said that every industrialist who sets up his business and reaps profits should give back a certain portion of his profits to the society. Also, in the first Five Year Plan (1951-1956) – a planning process for economic development, recognised the role of private sector. It said
“the initiative and responsibility of private enterprise was indispensable”.

But such intent was lost in the clamour for socialistic policies. Now the situation has changed.
While there have been efforts to sensitise the private sector of their responsibility to the society and concepts like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) developed, still more is being expected from the private players in building the society. In the same context it will be interesting to note as to how the masses have started to view the private sector in a better light than the public. Companies/ Corporations earlier were basically family fiefdoms but slowly as more and more entrepreneurial ventures became successful and accountability became the underlying principle of corporate functioning, the face of private sector began to change. To be precise, Infosys lead this change and earned the label of “new economy” company. While the  government functioning was opaque and accountability was an unknown dimension, these novel practices put private sector into bright light. The situation has become such that for any ailing public service at present, the immediate solution cited is privatisation.

It is undoubtedly true that the private sector can play a revolutionising role in changing the society for the better. The prime example where the private sector is contributing at present and can do more is Education. While this is no hidden fact that the government has always been shy of spending a sizeable fraction of the GDP on education and has been citing lack of funds for new, better universities, and this is where the private sector can make the most effective positive impact. India has about 60% of its population that is young and to cater to their ambitions and give wings to their dreams, more quality educational institutions need to be opened. Since the government has its hands tied due to other commitments (which it deems more important), encouraging the private sector to enter the Education scenario will only do more good. And this is what is happening at the moment. Several states have relaxed their regulatory requirements and entered into a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model with several private players aiming to build world-class universities on the lines of MIT and Stanford.

It is a good start and what heartens is that finally it is being recognized that to up the Gross-Enrolment-Ratio (GER) at the higher level, private sector needs to be involved actively and their contribution is now being appreciated and viewed in proper light. The GER for the world at the university and college level stands at around 50%, but for India it is a dismal 12.4%.  This figure is an indicator about how many Indian students do not opt for higher education, probably because there aren’t many institutions imparting higher education. For a nation that is being viewed as the next super-power such figure needs to be changed for the better. And this is only possible by loosening the reins in education, inviting the private sector to set up more institutes—but with a rider: less but higher quality institutes and not the other way round.

In a similar fashion, the private sector can handsomely contribute in meeting the dire need of the hour- Infrastructure. While the government has miserably failed in taking development to every corner of the country and providing the citizens with better civic facilities (roads, electricity, water supply) and taking everyone along, the efforts from the private sector can go a long way in bridging this gap. Unequal growth is an ugly truth that is very clearly evident in the country. We have a very effective public transport system in the capital, the Delhi Metro but at the same time in the interiors of the country people spend around half of their travelling time in jams. There are cities in the country with well metalled roads and there are places which are totally cut-off from the other parts of the nation due to sub-standard quality roads.

Though we have provided access to better quality seeds and farming equipments to the farmers but every year they are forced to appease the GODS for sufficient rains. Long and frequent power cuts force them to turn to primitive methods. Such are some of the miseries ordinary people face and this is where the private sector can step in where the government has failed to deliver. The bane of the public sector has been “Accountability” and ironically, this is the shining point of the private industry. And probably this is the reason private players are being handed over the reins of public services. Electricity distribution is being managed by a private service provider in many cities and they are about to start managing it in many more. Resultantly, we have seen a much more pro-active approach from them than the state electricity department in cutting down transmission losses and other common problems. Certainly that's the way ahead!
Another area where the role of private sector has been envisaged is in the building of highways. Highways are a virtual lifeline of a country – impacting the trade, transport in a serious manner. Here, too, the idea of a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) has been mooted and has been successful in many instances. The role of the government is limited to acquiring and handing over the land, and it is the responsibility of the private party to get it ready within the agreed time. Considering the ambitious Golden Quadrilateral Project - aimed to connect all the four corners of the country, started under the leadership of Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee is still not complete after 7 years with an estimated work speed of 10km/month, this model looks very impressive. Moreover, the government allows the private party to recover its losses by letting it manage the toll collection for a certain stipulated time period, giving a new face to the concept -Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT). Similarly this model has also been applied in building new planned cities to meet the rising housing demand. A lot of new planned cities/townships are coming alongside the under-construction highways with full backing of the government. Such huge projects will also effectively tackle the problem of Unemployment, creating lots of jobs fit for people of various skills and abilities. This will help break the vicious cycle of lack of infrastructure-lack of education-unemployment-poverty-social imbalances and unrest. Being able to meet the basic needs of every citizen, every family will provide impetus for inclusive-growth and help build an “open access society” - a concept brought forward by the Nobel Prize winning economist Douglas North. Open access societies provide for easy access to resources for growth and development to every individual irrespective of his background and are self-sufficient in meeting the requirements of an individual and thus, pave the way for his all-round development.

Such real life instances give us an clear indication that probably the policy makers have also realised that they alone cannot do a complete makeover of the country without adequate support from the private industry. Perhaps, they have resigned to the fact that after repeatedly disappointing the public in terms of deliverance and effectiveness they can't win over their goodwill and it would be best to allow the responsible, clear image players to take the centre-stage. In fact, many of corporate houses have taken the lead and adopted few villages with the objective of turning them into model villages while focussing on all aspects of development. There is also a thought of letting the private sector take control over the Health-Care facilities. While this thought is in its infancy but a serious thought over it shows a vast amount of possibilities, potential in bringing about a positive change in the lives of millions who don't have access to quality healthcare facilities. India has a very dismal record in healthcare services for its people, the present structure is simply not good enough and efforts to encourage doctors to work in rural areas have borne little success. Though there are lot of complicated issues involved but perhaps, a private stake in the healthcare system can help develop a robust, effective system that would be able to serve people in far flung areas.

Such efforts can work well to meet the needs of the people in a sustainable way. Also the fact that the private sector is more forthcoming in accepting new changes, new technology than the public, makes for a strong case for the private sector. With a proper balance between technology, man-power and process, it is very much possible that the private sector can help in a long way for meeting the needs of a billion people in this huge nation.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Opportunities for the next wave of Indian Entrepreneurs to help the country combat climate change

Well, I wrote this piece of essay four months back for some very impressive sounding foundation(IFC). They promised to declare the results in January. I had thought that this piece of writing will surely find a way to my blog whether I get awarded or not.
Somehow, the results got delayed and they asked for further two months - giving 31st March,2011 as the new deadline for the results. Patiently and hopefully, I waited only to find that on the given date they extend the result deadline to 30th April !?!?
So, I think its not possible for me to keep my humble effort of writing something to myself any more.
And here its below. Hope you enjoy it!

India's economic scenario has changed a lot since Independence. From the days just after Independence when there were only a few companies and the buzz of Socialism all around to the late-80s when the situation had improved only a bit - with a monopoly market dominated by family businesses to the present date, when the consumer has no allegiance to the brand names and demands maximum value for his money and the market looks with great optimism towards entrepreneurs and welcomes them eagerly. It has all changed drastically.

Moving from a slow paced, laggard economy to a robust economy, removing trade barriers and opening the market for outside firms, the market scene has brought about a huge change in the investors mindset. They now view entrepreneur projects as the next Cool thing. The Indian financial stage has developed immense respect for the breed of 'entrepreneurs' after it witnessed stupendous successes of many of them who made a name for themselves without having any family support. People like Sunil Mittal, Dhirubhai Ambani,Narayan Murthi are to name a few, the leaders of this change. The bureaucrats in the higher rungs of the ladder who used to mock at the entrepreneurial skills and create hurdles via the infamous 'inspector and license raj' are themselves now spear-heading the mission in encouraging such entrepreneurs to take up ambitious projects with government backing. Entrepreneurs have revolutionized the business platform with their innovative services and excellent understanding of the consumer's mindset. Who could have thought of the path-breaking concept of free e-mail access (Hotmail) or for that matter climbed up the ladder as fast as Dhirubhai and Narayan Murthy did? The fresh outlook the entrepreneurs brought with themselves freed the market from the clutches of family run businesses and allowed for better deliverance of services.
Now as the entire world including India faces a serious challenge in the form of climate change, therein lies in a great unexplored opportunity to tap.

So far, there haven't been many serious efforts from the business houses to build a niche product that caters specially to climate change and win over the hearts of environmentalists. Although there have been many international summits contemplating Earth's future and the possible actions to avert such a catastrophe, there hasn't been any initiative from the industry (do not count the efforts on cutting down carbon-imprints) that could take on this challenge head-on. As far as India is concerned, the public perception is passive. Through some NGOs and media campaigns, the masses in all big and small towns have the idea of such a lurking danger to the world's existence. But they haven't been provided with specific inputs regarding what actions or activities they can do to contribute their bit towards environment protection. This looks like one great untapped market with immense potential which so far no firm has focused on.

I believe it won't be very long before any smart firm will roll out a product to tap this field. 'The first mover' effect will be on full display here. The scope here is immense and it will take a different, out-of-the-box approach to break into this market. And this in all probability is within the reach of an Indian entrepreneur.

There are a lot of opportunities present in this segment which a smart entrepreneur with keen business acumen can capitalize upon. For example, the prime opportunity lies in the Automobile Segment. Today the key issue of pollution - ozone layer depletion is being attributed to vehicular pollution or vehicles polluting due to energy consuming fuels like Petrol, Diesel. A big solution to this problem can be unveiling of a non-traditional source of energy that can be easily used in vehicles. While there has been a lot of high and ambitious talk on water or hydrogen being used as a fuel, but as of today little progress has been made in this regard. But, nonetheless, that is the direction in which a proper efficient solution will be attained. Some big car companies have brought electric cars into the market but it hasn't taken the market by the storm but surely got fairly good reviews. Also, in the pipeline are cars that would run on Solar Energy. The ideal scenario will be a proper balance between a customer's expectations and energy saving ability. Another development that is taking place is the ongoing research on feasibility of Ethanol being used as a fuel. India has been one of the largest producers of Sugar in the world and so it can easily produce large quantities of Ethanol from sugar-cane. A successful adaptation of ethanol as a vehicular fuel will definitely revolutionize the market and attract a large demand because of comparatively less pricing if ethanol than other traditional fuels. Also, it will reduce fuel consumption and reduce the carbon imprint, pollution and help in combating climate change while bringing hosts of other benefits. This is one area where an entrepreneur can surely climb up the ladder of success pretty fast.

Indian population still primarily lives in villages using traditional and unhygienic methods for cooking. Gas-consumption for cooking is limited to urban, semi-urban areas. A meticulously planned strategy to effectively commercialize a different, energy saving method for cooking will surely catch lots of attention and will be a big hit among the majorly housewives  dominated market. The Indian Govt. had carried out campaigns in the past advocating use of bio-gas, cooking gas from cow dung but it was limited to rural areas and that too only in certain parts of the country. It also started giving concessions to people opting for installing solar cookers but their performance of was not as per expectations. Lessons can be learned from these failed campaigns to design a product that will be able to capitalize on the present factors.

Similarly such innovative products can be rolled out for electronic appliances with their least/minimum consumption of electricity or use of some other power being their USP. Such a brilliant idea will surely be an instant hit in the electricity-scarce country.

With the commendable economic growth our country is having, the open markets, the past entrepreneurial success stories and optimist sentiment present in the economy gives us every indication that the time is ripe for a next wave of entrepreneurial innovation that will target the climate change after sweeping the software, telecom, super-store and garment industry. They now have the proper backing of the government and no autocratic rules in place to stem their rise and they can probably outwit everybody else by bringing out an excellent product to which every environmentalist will swear his loyalty to.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Does the recently solved imbroglio relating to myriad corruption scandals serve any constructive purpose?

The last parliamentary session held from 9th Nov to 13th Dec, 2010 ended with zero business – no meaningful business being done. The opposition stalled the proceedings of both the Houses reiterating its demand for high level probe on multi-crore scams that were disclosed in the run up to the session. While the govt. tried its best to find a middle way that could be a face-saver, the rigid opposition didn’t let it happen. And as the session ended without any work done, it was all over the media highlighting the irresponsibleness of our polity. This unprecedented event in the parliamentary history, a full session resulting in no work, has triggered a very relevant question about “who is a dutiful opposition”, “what all can a dutiful opposition do”.

As we ponder over it, it will be helpful to keep in mind the mentality the ruling side and the opposition parties have. No ruling party will ever be willing to be held at ransom by the opposition. The sense of ego is very strong in all political parties especially when the stage is hallows of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. And this ego comes in way of any attempt to exploit or manipulate the weak footing of the either side. This is what happened precisely this time. After the high level scams in CWG and Telecom had been revealed, everyone was quite dejected and disappointed by the functioning of the govt. The public sentiment was against the govt. and any move to make the govt. accountable would have gained massive public support. In a bid to capitalise on this, the over-zealous opposition decided to place its demand for a JPC probe into the scams, whose instances are rare and few in the history. Obviously the govt. wasn’t going to easily budge on this as it feared this might be portrayed as a victory for the opposition. And this turned the session, which was supposed to handle serious business, into a stalemate.

It is interesting but difficult to pinpoint the right and wrong in this episode. The basic idea or what superficially looked like behind the opposition demand was to find the real king-pins of the scams. When this demand came out it was being anticipated and, rightly so, that the govt. will not agree and it didn’t. Seeing the session go waste didn’t make the either side to try and salvage it. Waste of the working hours and the public money was the result of the session and not by any standards it can be termed as constructive.

Righting a wrong by committing other wrongs can’t be justified at all and this is what has happened. Playing negative politics and paralysing the Parliament in the name of public outrage isn’t constructive and is a preliminary symptom of the deadly disease of anarchy. Our nation which symbolises a functioning and healthy democracy world over, has undoubtedly been let down by this disrespect shown to the highest institution. No doubt this has set a dangerous precedent for future budding politicians - that they can hold to ransom the Parliament of the biggest democracy in the world, for any demand whatsoever. Issues on which no consensus have been between the ruling and the ruled have been many and will be many in the years to come, but it shouldn’t pave the way for anarchy to prevail. Demand for a JPC probe wasn’t that big that the govt. couldn’t accommodate. And paralysing the parliament was never considered as a ‘Chankaya-sque’ tactic. Both the govt. and the opposition were party to the belittling of our constitutional ideals.

India is still a young democracy and such mistakes can’t be afforded to repeat themselves. It would be better if people and the media convey this message to the Delhi durbar that such incidents are simply unacceptable. Undesirable disruptions and repeated adjournments have become the norm over the past few years and it is time to encourage and enforce better standards of public behaviour from The Elected.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Diaspora - Thinking Big??

As Facebook continues to engulf user after user throughout the world and with no competitor in near sight, four computer science students from New York University: Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer, and Ilya Zhitomirskiy have come up with a revolutionary idea which can well go on to be the “next Facebook”. Facebook has been facing lot of issues with privacy and how the information posted can be misused. This has given rise to “Anti-Facebook” kind of a movement which consists of people (usually paranoid) who eye these privately owned social networking platforms as a threat to their privacy. Maybe such sentiments were behind the idea of Diaspora. Now what Diaspora aims to do is to hand the control to the user about the information he shares online.

Diaspora will be an open-source and ‘privacy aware’, distributed social network where users interact directly without the need to hand over the messages to a central hub. The network would consist of individual nodes called ‘seeds’ which would be owned and operated by the users of the network. Each seed will accumulate all the online information of the user and interact with other seeds by “friending” them. Users will be expected to install the Diaspora on their machines (or a pay and activate scheme for non-technical users) and choose the settings they are comfortable with it.

The underlying principle of Diaspora dashes Mark Zuckerberg’s theory that sharing of information and privacy are mutually exclusive things. It will be interesting to see how people react to the idea of having more control over their information especially at a time when analysts have envisioned an era of over-sharing. So far the Diaspora team has received a warm response. The team managed to raise $200,000 on a fund-raising site Kickstarter (initial target was only $10,000!!) and there is a lot of buzz about it in the tech-world. The idea was so appealing that founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg decided to fund the four students amidst all the flak that the project has received.

A lot of tech analysts claim Diaspora has striking resemblance with Appleseed Project, a falied 2005 project with similar aims shelved due to lack of funding. Maybe the word “seed” has been derived from it. Another big point is that how many users will actually take the trouble to install Diaspora on their machines considering the vast majority of users who aren’t tech savvy. Still some progress has been made. The developers code was released on Sept. 15 this year and the fate of Diaspora will be known when the consumer alpha is out later this year.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

IQ v/s EQ

IQ was for long been considered as the sole characteristic of an individual that would determine as to how far he would go. IQ – a number used to express the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new situations, ability to apply knowledge; was considered enough to get through in life and be successful. But many real life examples of extremely intelligent and bright people failing to make their mark highlighted the importance of EQ.

 EQ is a measure of a person’s ability to use his emotions and his cognitive skills to function more effectively, emotional literacy, empathy and self-motivation. And in the past few years many researches and studies have proved that EQ is the factor that distinguishes a person from his peers with the same intelligence. Whether a company needs to downsize or team leaders need to be decided – it is nothing but EQ that helps one make the cut.

IQ is what takes you through school and EQ is what that takes us through life!
IQ acts as the springboard and our jump is determined by EQ and SQ. Our EQ has more to do with our success and happiness than anything else. EQ has been the most neglected part in our education system with over importance been given to IQ. But the best part about EQ is that it can be learned and increased in due course of time.

In a workplace or in general in life, it is EQ that helps us navigate well through the various tricky meandering ways of life. Establishing a connect between the colleagues and earning their trust helps a great deal to give best performance and this can be earned only by EQ, but only after IQ has got you in your desired place.
So, IQ can be easily considered as the tip of the iceberg of the immense potential our mind has.