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Showing posts from 2008

India's war against terror - what next?

Now that Mumbai is limping back to normalcy, discussions are raging on the Internet and in the mainstream media about the appropriate response by India to these attacks.

Option 1: Pre-emptive strikes against terror camps in Pakistan
Option 2: Covert war against Jihadi elements in Pakistan and elsewhere (Bangladesh, Nepal, within India etc.)
Option 3: Speak tough with Pakistan's helpless civilian govt, but basically do nothing and may be prepare a bit for more terror attacks.

While there are lot of voices asking for Option 1, and a fair number rooting for Option 2, evidence so far shows that the UPA govt is most likely going to go with Option 3. Congress may get tempted to go for Option 1 in January/February depending on the results of current assembly elections to MP, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Chattisgarh.However, I don't think Manmohan Singh or Sonia have the guts to go ahead with such an option. Among all Indian PMs so far, only Indira Gandhi has shown such guts.

Also, going for an o…

Mumbai terror attacks..

What else is there to say?
I am tired of the same, inane statements by politicians (of all hues), and disgusted by the political correctness of mainstream English media.One may find some solace in venting in the comforts of the blogosphere.

But it is obvious that beyond a point, all these discussions and blame games won't achieve much.

I can do no better than direct you (the reader) to Offstumped, where Yossarin calls for a Satyagraha against terror. Here are the features of the Satyagraha:

Characteristic# 1 - It must be unrelenting in the demands it makes of the State to compel it into action on Terrorism pre-emptively or otherwise.
Characteristic# 2 - It must be uncompromising in its intolerance of not just perpetrators of acts of terror but also of those who aid and abet terror by providing sanctuary to those perpetrators.
Characteristic# 3 - It must be self sustaining in its execution through local community action directed at vigilance and audit of local law enforcement

India not shining..

For some people, India has never really shined.And doesn't look like it will shine in the near future as well.
This morning, I met a person from the India-not-shining section of our society.
I was walking back to my apartment complex after my morning walk, with the usual newspaper and half-litre milk packet.He stopped me a few paces from the apartment gate and enquired as to how far Patancheruvu is from here.
He looked extremely tired, his clothes were dirty, and his eyes watery.And he was carrying a small jute bag, which has two blankets of rough wool.

I stopped being curious about such people a few years back.But I don't know what made me stop and engage him in a conversation this morning.Here's his story - the gist of what he told me, all the while feeling asahmed of himself, and his plight.

Mohammed Khasim (that's his name) is from Nirmal, in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh.A part-time mechanic and daily laborer, Khasim makes the ends meet for his family, with great…

Anbumani's Folly

Dr.Anbumani Ramadoss, India's Health Minister, has finally persuaded the Government to issue a G.O. - The Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008.

While the Government Order is ambiguous about what constitutes a public place/open space, what the order has done is to give the police a new stick to beat ordinary citizens with.

Chandan Mitra of The Pioneer asks a very pertinent question:

"Shouldn't the Government be expending its energies to apprehend terrorists rather than diverting scarce police resources to catch cigarette smokers instead?"

Go figure.

Current market situation and Indian IT majors..

Here's a summary of the situation as of today in a numbered list:
1.Major financial institutions in US are going bankrupt or being sold at bargain basement prices.This is bound to impact Indian IT companies in two ways: (a) Companies like TCS, Wipro, Infy and Satyam would lose business worth hundreds of crores (b) Companies like NIIT and Patni (which are partly owned by the likes of Merill Lynch and Lehman Bros) may see erosion of stakeholder value.
2. The US Dollar is getting stronger against the Rupee.Yesterday it was at Rs.46.Almost all the Indian IT majors have hedged their positions around Rs.42-43 per USD. So, a weak rupee will not have any positive impact on their revenues.
3.Due to increase in costs, and reduced business from US, many IT majors are contemplating or actually doing layoffs. So far, Satyam and Wipro have bitten the bullet.We can safely expect that TCS and Infy will follow suit, albeit the spin they may give could be different.

So, the writing on the wall for Indi…

From Schipol..

MY KLM flight to Amsterdam reached 10 minutes ahead of time today at 8.50 AM. The flight to Boston is at 3 PM and boarding begins at 2 PM. So, have to while away the time here.

Frankfurt airport has smoking areas, but surprisingly Schipol (Amsterdam) doesn't. For a country so liberal that it allows grass (marijuana) sold in coffee shops, I expected the airport to at least have a couple of smoking areas. Well, looks like the Dutch know what they are doing. Fair enough..
During the past 6-7 years, I transited through several international airports.And I am as familiar with Heathrow as I am with the old Bangalore HAL airport :-)

Schipol would rank among the best airports in the world, IMO.There is no in your face ostentatiousness, and the amenities are first rate (okay, if you leave out the lack of smoking areas!). I am sitting in the KLM lounge and enjoying FREE, HIGH SPEED wi-fi internet connection.What else can one ask for?

I wonder when our Indian 'international' airports mat…

The different Indias we inhabit...

It seems to me that I live in different Indias each day.Let me explain a bit..
On the one hand, we have the political India, with its 'cash-for-votes' scandal, the entry of Chiranjeevi in AP politics, the totally inefficient handling of the latest J&K crises, and so on.Some of these events are moving along predictable lines, whilst the others are getting scarier by the day.
The other India that I/We inhabit is the India of malls, IT jobs, and blogger-novelists like Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan. Meenakshi blogs about her (mostly) single life in Mumbai and Delhi, with liberal doses of sexuality, drinks, smoking(not all of it nicotine) thrown in.And she is supposedly a rage in Indian blogosphere. I have also been reading other women bloggers of late, women who are professionals (again, mostly IT) by day and bloggers by night.Most of them don't talk about the events that rock 'political' India.

The third India I inhabit is the real world where I live with my family, commu…

Back in Hyderabad

Well, there is a reason for my hiatus in blogging (again !).
I quit the company I have been with for the past 9.5 years and took up a new job. In this process, I have also relocated from Bangalore to Hyderabad.

And my office in Hyderabad is in Gachi Bowli.

I did my M.A. in English (Class of '95) from University of Hyderabad, just down the road from my office now.So, in a sense, its back to where I started.

But this area - the villages of Gachi Bowli, Masid Banda, Kondapur, Serlilingampalli, Guttala Begampet, Madhapur, Miyapur - used to be very different during the early and mid 1990's. Back then, there was just a road connecting Jubilee Hills to Gachi Bowli via Madhapur. There was a single tea stall and a few temporary huts, in the area now called Kondapur X Roads. And there were the rocks. Huge boulders, fantastic rock formations..we used to use this road as a shortcut from the city, and for occassional beer parties on moonlit nights.
Two incidents that I can recall from 1994-95.

IT outsourcing waves and other matters..

An interesting discussion on Sramana Mitra's blog about Wave 3 of Indian IT Outsourcing by Sudhakar Ram. Read the article and the comments, especially by Subbaraman Iyer.

Now, for my take on this topic. I must say both Sudhakar Ram and Subbaraman Iyer have valid points. I am reproducing my comment on their posts below. However, before you read my comments, here's little summary of the debate.

Sudhakar Ram (he is the founder-CEO of Mastek)'s thesis is that the time is ripe for a Wave-3 in Indian IT Outsourcing. Wave 1 is the staff augmentation (body shopping) phase where Indian companies did low end work in India, and sent hordes of people to US to work at client sites. Wave 2 started in mid-90's and currently at its peak. This involves large scale offshore projects and implementation of CMMi and other quality processes, and world-class IT infrastructure.

Wave 3 according to Sudhakar Ram will see Indian companies do what hitherto has been the preserve of global MNCs such a…

Kasi Yatra - Part 4

We are back. So, the autos sped through some fairly narrow lanes of Varanasi and deposited us in front of a street with a door at its entrance (yes, a door !). The board read 'Sri Rama Taraka Andhra Ashram'. The place where we had accommodation (Karivena Brahmana Satram) was supposed to be in the vicinity. I called the Karivena Satram manager on the cell and he gave me directions. Apparently, the Satram (travelers lodge) is some 150 m from where we were. The autos wouldn't /couldn't go beyond the spot where we got down. So, I went first through the street-door and after a couple of turns, found my self in an area full of pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, and a few restaurants doing brisk business in Idli, Dosa, Vada, Coffee and Tea. (Great ! Food won't be an issue in this area, I thought). I found the Andhra Ashram too, and a shop keeper there guided me towards the Karivena Satram.
Thirty minutes later, we were all checked in at Karivena Satram. We took four rooms and e…

SaaS, ITaaS, and ProaaS

We all know about Software As A Service (SaaS). Gartner has predicted in 2006 that global SaaS revenues would become 25% of the software market. And Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has announced an IT As A Service (ITaaS) recently. TCS is going to provide software, hardware, and related services, in one package to small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India first, and then in other geographies. If this succeeds, even medium large businesses may try the model.

This brings me to the point: In the US and EU, software companies and server farms (data centers) are generally not located in the metro cities. They are located in small towns; some even in villages. It helps spread the growth and provides job opportunities to qualified people who do not want to leave their villages and move to the big cities.

IT aaS seems to be a good idea. It could provide small businesses in India the ability to use world class software at affordable rates.And store their data in data centers adhering to intern…

Kasi Yatra-Part 3

So, we finally started the 2100-km long train journey to Varanasi. Fifteen minutes after the train left Tirupati, it stopped for 20 minutes at Renigunta Junction. We tucked into our lunch and dozed off while reading the magazines bought at Tirupati railway station.

We reached Vijayawada around 9.30 PM. Our relatives in Vijayawada came to the station with what else...but lots of food for our dinner :-) There seem to be some restaurants in Vijayawada that specialize in packing railway dinners. Very neatly done!

The long train journey was a good time to catch up with the rest of the family- dig out childhood memories, discuss the Indian IT and business scenario, and of course debate about films, politics and so on. The presence of some Kerala Catholic nuns in our compartment, made us talk about the convent schools we attended during the 1980's. The kids - Anagha (8) and Lasya (2.5) had a whale of a time too.

My brother Ramana (who had 'miraculously' recovered fully from the thro…

Kasi Yatra-Part 2

During my 3 years in Mumbai (1999-2002), I used to travel by train to my hometown Kadapa, once in 2 months on an average. The train leaves around 5 PM and reaches Kadapa at lunch time the next day. I used to relish the journey as it provided me the opportunity to spend time with myself, try out all the food items that are hawked on the train, and finish reading at least 1 book.
But now this Kasi Yatra with family was to be very different. The family wanted to make many different food items to ensure that we are not entirely dependent on what is available on train, and even in the restaurants at Kashi. And none of our people believed in 'traveling light' :-) So, here's a rough list of what we packed, apart from the clothes: 1.Around 50 plates and 30 bowls made of dried plantain leaves; around 25 paper plates as well. 2. Around 60 big tumblers for drinking water, and 20 small ones for coffee 3.Tissue paper- 1 roll and 50 paper napkins. 4. 250 gm packet of Amul milk powder and 250 …

Kasi Yatra - A Travelogue - Part 1- The Planning

I wanted to write about my Kasi (Varanasi/Benares) trip as soon as we returned to Bangalore on Jan 27. But some how I just couldn't sit at the computer and start the typing.Every time I tried, I ended up reading some blogs or visiting new sites on the Internet. May be one should coin a term for procrastinating a blog post. How about blognertia ? Hmm..doesn't sound right. Please let me know if you can think of any better terms.

Now, before the blognertia bug bites me again, let me get into the details of the Kasi trip we did in January 2008. This is going to be a long post, so may be I will split it into a few posts of manageable size.

This trip to Kasi has been in our plans for a long time now. Almost a decade, really. We wanted it to be a family trip.But every year, one of us three brothers had some urgent issues to tackle, and when all of us were ready, it was either my mom or dad, who were busy with something else. Finally, my younger brother just went ahead and started the p…