Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2007

Where do I settle down -city, town or vilage?

Whenever I discuss the topic of where one prefers to settle down in life - a Metro city, a town or a rural area - I sense that the views expressed by friends have a lot of ifs and buts sewed in.

For example, one common response from people who have never lived in a village, but only visited them now and then - I wish I could just live peacefully in a village, amid the greenery, and non-polluted space. All I need is a decent internet connection.

And of course, I don't have any friends living in villages right now. In fact, most people these days don't have friends living in Indian villages. We all have friends in American or British or even Scandinavian hinterlands. But not in the Indian rural spaces. (If you have a rich farmer friend or old parents and uncles looking after huge ancestral property its a different thing.)

Take the case of Indian towns. We may have a few business men friends or guys working on PSU banks, small universities etc. living these towns. How many of us hav…

India on the move...

Ok..we all know that India is on the move @ roughly 10 % per year.

Almost every day we read about this growth rate in the media - along with analysis on whether this rate is sustainable and if it is inclusive or limited to urban middle class.

Another oft-repeated idea is that of India being in a demographic sweet spot. We have the largest number of people between ages 15-45, the productive years.

And when it comes to the IT/IT ES/BPO sectors, we hear about the unemployability of a large number of our youth, thereby driving the salaries of the employable pool ever northwards.

So, here I go again:

India has a huge rural population that is seeking to migrate to the cities and towns in search of employment. Why? A couple of off-the-bat reasons: 1. Agriculture no longer provides a sustainable livelihood. 2. Villagers see a 'better life' being lived on the TV at home and the aspirational energies kick in.

But most of these rural youth are unemployable in the high paying service jobs becau…

The New Great Game OR The Battle for India - Part 1

I am sure most of the visitors here know/read about the 'Great Game'. For those who have not come across this term ( or not read Rudyard Kipling's Kim), here's a brief description:

In the 19th Century, Russia and England played the 'Great Game' over Afghanistan and Central Asia. England, which already ruled over the sub-continent, and had significant influence in West Asia and China, Afghanistan was the spot to be controlled to maintain its supremacy. Russia with its expansionist mindset, controlled large swathes of Central Asia, and saw Afghanistan as the entry into the riches of the sub-continent. Both countries had their spies every where. And they supported the Afghan tribes in wars/skirmishes against each other. Kipling famously called it the 'Great Game'.

In the late 20th century till date, this Great Game has continued in Afghanistan - with different players. The USA and its allies have replaced Ol' England, and the Taliban and Al Qaeda have re…

Justice delayed...but not denied...

I like Sanjay Dutt, as an actor with a strong screen presence. He has done some good films, especially the Munnabhai series.

And yet, when I read about the sentence of 6 years he received yesterday from the TADA court in Mumbai, I felt happy. Finally, an example has been set. That, however rich and well-connected a person is, the same laws would apply.

Sanjay Dutt has committed a criminal act of possessing an AK-56 assualt weapon, and hiding information about anti-social elements. He has also hobnobbed with gangsters Anees and Dawood Ibrahim. As if this is not enough, he apparently made two of his friends do his bidding and store weapons. In any other country with a functioning democracy, he would have faced much harsher punishment, and much earlier. In a totalitarian regime, he may even have been summarily executed for anti-national activities.

But this is India, where the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly. Sanjay is being punished only now, even though his supporters may claim tha…

B2B = Back To Blogging

Yes, I have had another gap in my short life as a blogger. After my last post in May 1st week, I went to UK for a consulting engagement. Guess what, blogspot, wordpress and other such blogging platforms have all been blocked out by my customer’s IT department. Reason: Productivity Impact.

I do agree that blogging during the office hours does impact productivity. But then the employees are also stopped from reading blogs. These days, a lot of knowledge is disseminated in the blogosphere, and to expect your employees to read blogs related to their business only at home, some how does not please me.

Ok, so I tried connecting to the Internet from my hotel or Bed n Breakfast. I found out that it was horribly expensive from the hotel, and the Bed n Breakfast places either do not have internet connectivity and if they have it, it is extremely difficult to connect my office laptop to the wireless service provider.

So, I simply gave up blogging till I returned to India. And now I have to go back …

Influencing Policy on Education and Development

As a regular reader of various blogs that discuss the issues surrounding Indian education, development, and venture capital, I some times wonder whether most of the time, we bloggers are preaching to converts.

Let me explain this a bit.

There seems to be a broad consensus among many bloggers on the following issues:

1. The Indian education system needs a radical overhaul if we are to achieve universal primary literacy, and provide equal opportunities to all in improving their lives.

2. The Government should be a facilitator of change and not the implementor. Implementation is best left to the market dynamics.

3. It is becoming increasingly obvious that it may never be possible to develop rural areas. But it is possible to develop rural population, by 'planned' urbanization. By planned I don't mean, the five year plans of the Government with their socialistic baggage. But the kind of business plans that get approved by financial institutions for mega projects.

4. To solve the inf…

Urbanization and Development

Posting my comment on Atanu's blog today:

Ibrahimpatnam used to be a sleepy little mandal headquarters some 35 km from Hyderabad,India.

At first, there was a residential school and college, 3 km from this small town.And then, a private engineering college came up. In the next 5 years, 4 more engineering colleges came up in the vicinity.

The residential school is owned by a trust, and is located on a huge tract of farm land – around 300 acres.The school with student hostels, classrooms, staff quarters, play grounds, open air and indoor theaters, occupies around 70 acres of land. The rest of the land is farmed by locals, the produce feeds the entire campus, and the surplus is sold in the nearby market.
Recently, Reliance Fresh approached the trust, to buy part of the land, to setup their warehouses including cold storage facilities. They want to use the facility to serve their stores in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The establishment of the school, and the engineering co…

Humour: What kind of a nerd are you?

What Be Your Nerd Type?Your Result: Literature Nerd Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.Drama Nerd Social Nerd Science/Math Nerd Gamer/Computer Nerd Musician Anime Nerd Artistic Nerd What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpaceThe above was my result. Suggest you do it too and let me know about your score.Its fun :-)

A lull in blogging..

After some long posts, I have again entered a quiet phase in my blogging behavior.

We celebrated Lasya's first birthday in India, (she had her first birthday in UK last year) on March 12 and had a get together on Sunday, March 18. Met some family friends after a long gap. Thats what get togethers are for, and this one really served its purpose. Lasya had loads of fun too.

One of the guests asked me why I am still with TCS :-) And if I am with TCS, why am I in Bangalore and not in US or UK? lol ! I honestly did not know how to answer the gentleman in brief. And that was not the place to give a long winded answer.

Don't worry..neither am I going to give a long winded answer on this blog.

In response to the query by our guest, I just shrugged, smiled, and remarked that I am too lazy.
He took it as a joke ( It was, at least partly).

In any case, it is now time to declare ( and commit my self to the declaration), that I am finally happy about two business ideas that we (me and some frien…

How to get a 3-Bed Room Flat for 10-15 lakhs?

Here's the scenario:

Like most people these days, you want to own an apartment in a good locality in Hyderabad or Bangalore or any other city (leave Mumbai out of this discussion please!).

Going rates for a 3-BR from a reputed builder in Blr or Hyd are around INR 50-60 lakh. If you take a bank loan for 45 lakh for 15-20 years tenure, you will end up paying the bank approx Rs. 1 cr at the current rates of interest. And the life of an apartment can not be more than 25 years, if one looks at the construction quality these days.

So, there is every likelihood that it doesn't make sense to you to shell out so much over the next 15-20 years. Instead, you wish to buy an apartment at pre-boom prices or may be even less. Say, between 10-15 lakhs for a 3 BR?

Before you leave this site, assuming that I am going to propose some hare brained scheme, here's a disclaimer: I am just going to suggest this plan to you. You could execute this along with your friends.Some groups of friends that I …

Union Budget and Impact on VCs

Blogger Anindita ( check out her blog..she has a dew fresh writing style) posted a comment asking my thoughts on Chidambaram's tax proposals related to venture capital funds in the new union budget.

I feel VC is like any other business activity and should be taxed. In the US, they have a system of creating transparent entities for taxation purposes, which we don't yet have in India. One could argue that VCs should be given tax exemption because the industry is still in a nascent stage in India. In fact, a number of players in the industry seem to feel that way.

So, there is a confusion here. The FM has listed software and hardware, but not Internet :-) Some people interpret internet ventures as software plays. Definitely, if there is a Software-As-Service (SaaS) venture out there, they could request the pass thru benefit and should get it. But what about B2C plays (Naukri, Bharat Matrimony, 99 Acres and dozens of other such ventures) that have attracted VC funds? If the VC fund …

Warren Buffet's Wisdom

Here's a hunch. Most of us know about Warren Buffet, but very few would have actually gone on to the Berkshire Hathaway web site to check out his company.

I shamelessly admit that even though I admire the man, I have never thought of visiting his company's web site. On the other hand, I admire Gates, but definitely not some of Microsoft's practices, but I visit their web site quite regularly.

Goes to show that information consumption pattern could be quite different from personal opinions. Hmm..interesting.

Coming back to Warren Buffet, I read a post on (where else !) Venturewoods today about Buffet's annual letter to his shareholders. As a matter of habit, I generally prefer to read the source than the excerpt. So, I promptly went to the Berkshire Hathaway site and discovered that the site has all of Buffet's letters to shareholders since 1977 ! I was 5 years old in 1977.

You can access all those letters from this page. If you have any interest in how the stock market…

OLPC and the problems in India's education system

Cross-posting my comment on Atanu's blog post today.

The post was about OLPC issue and why it will not work in India. Btw, even the HRD ministry has rejected the idea. Atanu had earlier written a lot about this.

Srinivas has commented that Atanu has done a backflip on the 'education and technology issue' :

Quote begins:

The author goes from saying“The OLPC is irrelevant in the context of Indian education. It’s a technological solution, and the problem in India is largely non-technological.” and that “Electronics is neither necessary nor sufficient for education.” to doing a back flip “The solution to India’s educational problems will and must use technology intensively, but it will have little to do with children toting laptops around.” Before finally concluding “OLPC is a costly device for poor countries. It’s going to be a huge waste of money that could be more efficiently spent on other technological solutions such as radio, TV monitors, and DVD players.”. Wish he paid som…

What does the Indian Startup Ecosystem need, really?

A good discussion is developing on the 'need for more incubators in India' at Sramana Mitra's blog. I thought I will post my take on it here first and then add a comment there.

Ok..going by all the reports, more and more VC money is coming to India. But as we all have been told umpteen times, there are too few deals.I guess deals here refer to high tech and internet deals, and not non-technology deals.

So, what does the eco system need really?

Let us identify the issues first.
1.Experienced industry professionals prefer to work in IT service provider companies than working in Startps. Reason: Some of them did try to join startps around 2000 or so, but then the dot com bust made them get back to IT SPs, licking the wounds so to speak.
2.There are very few startups where the team is strong and has trust, a proper vision is in place, and they are backed by some able and experienced ('adult supervision' according to Sramana Mitra) grey heads.
3.Leave alone senior heads, even…

A white space in real estate internet plays?

We have been planning to meet a friend and his family for almost 3 months now. Over the weekend, we finally managed it.

This friend stays in a place called Bilekahalli, off Bannerughatta Road in Bangalore. I have never been to any of these residential areas developing on either side of Bannerughatta Road. Like the rest of the city, even Bilekahalli has literally scores of apartment complexes coming up.

The talk soon turned to real estate, as it does between most IT professionals these days.But since neither of us are really looking for a real estate investment, it was more a general discussion on the boom than any thing else. And then, a third friend came by, carrying a bunch of glossy brochures of various residential ventures. This guy is actively looking for an apartment to buy, and is totally confused about the choices on offer.

And guess what, there is no one trying to help him make what is probably one of the most important investment decisions he will ever make.

And this is where, I…

Getting a VC Job

Hello, and welcome back !

After my last post, I had to rush to UK again to work with a valued customer for 3 weeks.Came back in December, and then went off on a vacation. Must write a post on Maravanthe beach this weekend:-)

Thought I will start posting here again (During my hiatus, I posted couple of times at TWIN ) . Especially after reading this post on Venturewoods.

If you are still here, or have come back after reading the great post and the comments on Venturewoods, read on for my take:

1.Firstly, I don't think one needs an MBA to be an analyst at a VC firm. It is a different matter that majority of the VC crowd seem to think that way. It is more a question of being able to do basic math and demonstrating a lot of common sense, networking skills, interpersonal skills, etc etc. And of course, decent amount of domain knowledge in one or more areas, and yes, the ability to be an 'aggressive learner'. Some one who can read up on a new domain for a week or so, apply existing …