Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ode to Prometheus!

As I stand with Prometheus,

My hero,

Who stole God's fire and gave it to men-

I am forced to ponder

Why was God so angry,

Is he not as merciful as newspapers claim?

Was fire like WMD

And the power to unleash harm

God hated to let go?

Or was it an IPR

That he transgressed

And let the secrets men know?

Yet one knows,

He did not profit

And gave it away to us!

Yet, he was chained and pained,

Without access to justice,

Probably in Cuba, alas!

And, then, God sent us gifts -

Illness, Greed and Lust,

To keep us forever poor and lost!

Oh! We still have our Pandoras,

Fair-minded but naïve,

Who keep unlocking His box.

And, yes, there was Hope in this package too,

Called The Market,

Or did Adam invent the term?

We earnestly believed

There will be deliverance

And did ourselves harm.

So, as I stand,

Oh Prometheus!

Be unbound and let us free!

God is angry,

But watching us keen,

He is frightened, as you see!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mittal & India

I was reading L N Mittal's interview on NDTV and surprised to learn this :

NDTV: Tell me something Mr Mittal, you are saying that lets keep emotions out. But there is an entire country lobbying behind you. And some people have debated why India is so interested? Why the Indian government has stepped in? Let me ask you the emotional question right off before you put emotions out of the way. What made you decide to keep your Indian passport in an age where most NRIs go out and make it big, they acquire the citizenship of those countries?

Mittal: I am proud to be an Indian. I have always said that the whole family has Indian passports. And I can't change my allegiance to my country. It is not the business, it is my allegiance. I was born here, I grew up here, my roots are here. It is very important for me to keep my passport.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Few Lessons for Indian IT

I am talking about President Kalam's speech at NASSCOM.

This is no ordinary politician's speech. Oh yes, I agree, Dr. Kalam is no ordinary president.

He makes a simple proposition, befitting a visionary entrepreneur. NASSCOM-McKINSEY has already come up with a detailed analysis of Indian IT's future projections, and talked about an 'addressable' market size of $300 billion, and a projected revenue of $60 billion in 2010.

While this will still represent a very high level of achievement, Dr. Kalam turned the pitch and started with - "what about making it $200 billion?" and then comes up with a strategy to make it. Yes, a real strategy - not a politician's speech. And that is exactly what is so impressive about it.

The key to his strategy is two fold - one, turn addressable market into achievable market, and two, increase the size of addressable market. Simple, and a set of to-do-s to achieve these goals.

Let's run through his agenda before commenting:

1. Aim with competitiveness - aim high and keep trying;

2. address small and medium ICT industries and encourage consortium approach for IT solution;

3. undertake a major drive in capacity building the graduates with the aim to provide value added IT services;

4. ITeS and BPO in the secondary cities;

5. encourage innovation and creativity among IT personnel thereby increasing ROI for customers;

6. focus on Asia Pacific, ASEAN and African countries;

7. focus on Indian domestic market; India is proposing a 'Pan Africa e-Network' for connecting 53 countries for tele-medicine, tele-education between India and Africa;

8. proposed world knowledge platform will be a launch pad for many innovations and create new markets for partnering nations.

The president also said that India is proposing a 'Knowledge Grid' – initially with India, Singapore, Philippines and Korea, before taking it across the world.

Now, let's look at the key points in this, connected to his twin theme of 'addressable to achievable markets' and 'expanding addressable markets'.

For the first, Dr. Kalam's strategy is to build partnerships with other countries like Singapore, build skills and innovation, move up the value chain, identify and develop new areas of work and build the 'knowledge grid' of cooperation and enterprise.

For the second, and this is where the visionary shows up, is to turn the focus on South East Asia and Africa, allow small and medium enterprises to develop, inner cities to participate and thereby bringing in a huge capacity which can service these markets without competing with 'big capital' and chasing 'higher returns'. [He did not use these words]

I guess this is the real lesson for Indian IT and NASSCOM. The Indian IT, like any maturing industry, is fast losing its entrepreneurial character. As I keep telling to my friends back home, while state governments are opening doors and making it easy for Accentures and IBMs of the world to do business, they have done little to encourage local enterprise or bring inner cities into play. This has two problems : one, India is still the 'low-cost' destination, an advantage too fickle and a distinction not too reputable - India remains vulnerable to Chinese, Indonesian, and even Pakistani or Bangladeshi competition on the costs; and two, this does not create internal competition and innovation needed to push top notch players higher in the value chain [it may mean good returns, but little long term value for Wipro to run Call Centres].

I hope we will take the lesson and get started all over again. It is indeed high time that Indian IT leaders look back at themselves. It is ironic that this time, they will have to take the lesson in entrepreneurship from a 'politician'.

For A Laugh [from MSN NBC]

David Cameron's decision to take paternity leave gave Tony Blair something of a headache as William Hague stood in for his boss at Prime Minister's Questions and delivered the week’s best insult by far. Facing his old adversary over the despatch box for the first time since 2001, Hague greeted Blair with the remark, "It's probably the first time in the history of Question Time that all three parties have been represented by a stand-in for the real leader."

Note just in case you missed the point : Liberal Democrats are waiting to elect a new leader on the wake of resignation of Charles Kennedy and being led by Sir Menzis Campbell at this time.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Calcutta Moment

Here is my best Calcutta moment - the usual, but distinct in every appearance. I had a nightmare of a trip in Calcutta, running from meeting to meeting - but did eventually succeed in doing what i wanted to do - discover my priorities. Posted by Picasa

Second Coming

Scott Fitzerald once said – There is no second coming in America. He could have as well said that about life in general, where second comings are rare and outright difficult.

I, however, still yawn for a second coming. Well, I am actually planning for it.

It is always difficult because we are what we are – a set of opinions, beliefs, ways of life and seeing. It is also difficult because people evaluate us by a set of attributes, education, experience etc, things that are difficult to change and re-start.

But, then, there is one thing, which makes second coming easier than expected.


That is the key to reinvention of self. If I have failed to realize my true potential, what value is my current baggage – beliefs, values and opinions! Lots of people fail to accept failure in a positive sense, but not me – I can see that this is crucial for me to know that I have failed, and try for a ‘second coming’.

Once I have done that, the job remains to alter my external image. I have already done a bit towards that already – immigrating into an alien country and starting to learn afresh. I have pushed myself inside change, and tried to validate my abilities against the unknown. Now, it is time that I sum these up, get going and make it big.

Yes, I am feeling - unbound. This India-Bangladesh trip has been helpful. It was helpful in clarifying my mind, releasing me of my bonds of comfort one final time and allowing me to focus on future. In all, it showed my failures – my obsession with my self, limitations in thinking, and inability to be bold and creative.

No regrets, though. Face to face with my failures, my inability to live my promises, my vanity and its consequences, my limitations of friendship and my slavery of self – I know I have to do something new.

The Greeks knew the true nature of hope. When Prometheus stole God’s technology [Fire] and gave it to people, they became equal to God. Hence, Prometheus was punished, and God sent a package to Pandora – Prometheus’ Sister-in-Law – packed with all evils, Greed, Lust, Illness, and all that we see in abundance today. Pandora opened the box inadvertently, womanly curiosity as one would call it, and released all the evils on the world. When she was crying as the evils flew out and she knew what she had done, there was this little angel dancing out of the box. Pandora asked – But who are you then, in this pack of evils – and she answered – I am Hope, sent by God to keep men alive in this sea of evil, so that they suffer more!

So, it was God who invented hope. But it is a human habit to defy destiny and flip around God’s will. We turned Hope into a weapon against our destiny, to say – We Will Not Fail – and to plan for a ‘Second Coming’.

So, I shall not go down as a failure! No, watch out for next three years – at least I shall invent the idea of a ‘Third Coming’ by then.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Airport Strike & The Left

As I plan to go to India today, the over-riding concern that is top of my mind today is the strikes that are affecting airport terminals, specially in Calcutta [Oh yes, as a friend reminded me – the name has changed, the place has changed too – but let me live with my old flame!]

I am hassled, and confused. Hassled, because I don’t know what awaits me. Confused, because I do believe that workers are getting marginalised in most cases and they do have a right to strike.

But, do they have the right to disrupt public services, block the roads, and harass people?

NO. This is precisely the problem in the ‘left’ thinking and this is why they are losing the battle. As in everything, the battle today is for the mind – and the mind refers to the mind of the uninitiated. And, creating trouble is not very helpful in winning minds.

Let’s give an example. Ask anyone on street why this current strike is happening, and you will get the answer that the workers are striking against the modernisation of the airports. While the leaders of the strike have a very sophisticated logic behind the strike, they have completely failed to communicate that. Those made them lose the battle of the mind, one more time.

The other issue here is the people who are striking, and whose jobs are at stake, are public servants, paid by the government. Again, ask the man on street – the insurance salesman, the computer programmer, the daily labourer, the company manager or a teacher in private school – and there is utter incomprehension on this count. Most people who have interacted directly with such ‘public servants’, have been appalled by their lack of concern, arrogance and lack of effectiveness. Every one knows that they had taken their job for granted. If that goes now – well, what’s the fuss – jobs will go if you don’t do it properly?

Again, as the ‘left’ stands for such strikes, they lose their political character. They stand for ‘Babus’ and not the ‘workers’. They attempt to protect people who undermine ‘work’, not a good idea for a party who wants to stand up for ‘labour’.

It is a losing battle – please let me land!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Holiday Notice

I am going to India – well not exactly on holiday, but for a last ditch attempt to salvage my project for English Learning! God permitting [and also striking Airport workers permitting], I shall reach Calcutta on the 3rd – and meet a few business investors who can help me get this off the ground. I am back to usual desk on 15th Feb again. So, this holiday notice before I disappear.

What we are trying to do is to set up a chain of English Learning centres in South Asia [i.e., India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other smaller countries]. This will be unique, because the training delivery will be bi-lingual, and will be backed by a very comprehensive, multi-lingual and multimedia courseware.

The idea is to go beyond English training, and integrate a full range of assisted learning products in IT, soft skills and also in education over a period of time. But, given the regional realities, we wanted to start with English, because it is such a huge economic driver in these countries. If you know nothing, but can speak in English, you are in for a decent work in these countries – and on the other end, even with best education but no English, you will never get as far as you should. Besides, most learning content we can lay our hands on are written in English, so we are starting with teaching people English before getting into other subjects.

So, as I move into holidays – no, into a rather desperate final attempt [well, if I fail to get the money this time, I am not trying any more – not in next two years!] to save the project, I would take leave – with the promise to come back with an update in two weeks.

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How To Live

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Last Words

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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