Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir!

Top 2007 Movies I Have Not Watched Yet

(Image credit - Collider.com)
Gone are the days when I could watch a movie on just a flicker of thought. Prior to and post - office hours, I am mainly engaged in the sweet little devil that my daughter is. This adds up to an increased backlog of movies on my wishlist. Here are the movies of 2007 which I wish I could have watched but could not find the time to watch them. Some of these, I already have in my collection and still have not watched.
1. Ratatouille - This is for sure tops my wishlist. The trailers of this movie have nothing but added to my desperation.
2. Spiderman III - I have heard that it is not that powerful a movie. But still want to watch it because you get habituated to sequels.
3. No Country For Old Men - I have fallen in love with movies of Coen Brothers when I watched 'Fargo'. They are really one of the best film-makers of all time. No wonder, on IMDB charts, 'No Country...' tops the list of top rated movies after 2000. Sure I will watch this movie before 31st December (alongwith Ratatouille).
4. Superbad & Knocked Up - Heard that these are one of the best comedy movies in recent times. Sure gonna watch, especially Knocked Up.
5. Harry Potter & Order of Phoenix - I am not an avid Harry Potter follower. But heard that Harry has grown up in the movie and so has the movie. (I actually have this movie in my collection because of my wife who breathes Harry Potter books).
6. Ocean's Thirteen - It is still not clear to me how I could have missed coming of this film. Somehow its release escaped my consciousness. I am still not sure whether I have seen this or not. All of them seem so similar from posters.
7. I Am a Legend - This is currently running here for 3rd week. It's my hunch that I will like this movie (my hunch about movies is legendary! I believe it.)
8. Eastern Promises - I like this genre of movies. Also, the movie has got good ratings on IMDB.
9. Michael Clayton - Again my hunch from synopsis of the movie.
10. Hitman - Have you played the game? Hope this movie fulfills my expectations. Let me cross my fingers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Return to Blogging & Social Media Predictions for 2008

Huh! It has been almost 4 months now that I had stopped blogging. The reasons were many and excuses were easy to find. I have a tighter schedule now than earlier; I am finding micro-formats more and more appealing - my Twitter updates in last 2 months rival my blog posts in my whole life! But apart from this, also there is the blogger's gene, which I think has been weaker in me always. I have found that whenever I have tried (I have created and deleted 10's of blogs) to stick to a particular theme, the blogger in me takes a leave. So this time onwards, I will be free-wheeling mainly.
For this time, let me tell you what to look out for in 2008 (the predictions!) - Tumblr and Twitter will surely be acquired; There will be scope for integration of third-party mash-ups in both of them & more importantly, real growth of these services will start once monetization of the micro-content becomes possible. Facebook, on the other hand will either reach plateau or decline. Main drawback of Facebook is the lack of better and easy communication with fellow Facebookians. Facebook walls are burried deep down the heap of applications. For an average user like me, only utility Facebook is providing me with, is Movie Quizes! I don't know what else to do there (apart from watching Movie quiz updates from my friends). Orkut seems so much livelier than Facebook, though the later has a professional crowd there. One question that will be prominent on my mind will be about the fate of LinkedIn. Which way it will go is yet to be clear to me. As for as social bookmarking is considered, Del.icio.us will remain worthwhile alongwith Stumbleupon in the next year. In Social Media sites, Youtube and Flickr will rule the roost with the backing of giants Google and Yahoo respectively.
So these are the predictions - a try to guess the shape of future...nothing much revolutionary.

I hope that the postings will be more regular in the new year!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

One Sentence of Brand Image

Yahoo! - An old world company trying to hold on to success in Web 1.0. Some glimpses of success due to Flickr, Answers etc.
Microsoft - Vilified genius. Only company which brings out some worthwhile products from common man's point of view.
Google - Ambassador of today's world. Lot of genius working on small things and making money out of that.
Linux - Yeah! It must be something good.
Vista - Not so bad, really!
Mac - I always wanted to buy one, but...
Apple - iPod [not Mac or iPhone]
Sony - Is it a US or Japanese company?
NASA - (As if) One point leader of Human Civilisation.
Intel - Inside everything, without getting label of 'monopolistic'.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Departed



Genre: Crime / Drama
Story: An intriguing story of deceptions. A constant cat and mouse game between a cop who is turned into an undercover gangster and a gangster who has penetrated police line up. Watch the 'Macbeth'ish end of the drama. This a Scorcessian treatment of 'Internal Affairs'.
To Watch For: Leonardo D'Caprio. He stands tall in front of behemoth actor Jack Nicolson.
Rating: 4 star [1-Hate it.2-Poor.3-Good Time-pass.4-Perfect Entertainment.5-Classic]
Recommendation: A must watch.
IMDB: 8.6 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes: 93 %

Thursday, July 12, 2007

iPhone Sucks?

I got a mail today from a good friend of mine and a great web designer - Mario Garcia Jr. who works for Garcia Media - a company which helps newspapers and online products to help themselves redesign and 're-engineer'. Mario is one of those hundreds of enthusiasts who waited eagerly for buying Apple's iPhone in June. An avid gadget lover, when he was in India, Mario wanted to buy a good mobile handset. However he decided to wait for iPhone and resisted himself from buying another handset.
Well. Now having an iPhone under his belt, what are his thoughts? Read this -
I should have bought that phone from your friend while I was there. I am NOT HAPPY with the iPhone. I don't like that I have to use AT&T as the carrier, battery life is awful, can't use my Bose headphones with it, can barely hear ringer, too difficult to type on screen and the list goes on. I now want to get a phone like the one I was looking at when we went together to the store. Can you call your friend and ask what type of phone it was so I can look it up and research it? Do you remember?

Thanks,
Mario
I wonder what can be the most critical of the above shortcomings which hammered the last nail in the coffin? Was it not being able to use Bose headphones or a awful battery life or cumbersome typing facility?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Notes from Kuala Lumpur

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday with 2 of my colleagues for the Citizen Media Summit. We arrived here early morning on the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. What stuck me most on arrival was the unbelievable infrastructure development. The airport is an award winning airport and is well managed. I have been to Oslo earlier but the good infrastructure in Europe is more of an assumed fact. We know that Europe IS developed. What set Malaysia apart is the it is in India's backyard, it is closer to India culturally and you never feel out of India with numerous Indians (especially the Tamils) around you. I am sure, other South Asian countries have achieved similar fete. How did Malaysia do that? I think that the reason lies in early and complete opening of the economy has done the trick. This is what Wikipedia says about Malaysian Economy -

"During the 1970s, Malaysia followed the footsteps of the original four Asian Tigers and committed itself to transition from reliance on mining and agriculture to manufacturing. With Japan’s and the West's assistance, heavy industries flourished and in a matter of years, Malaysian exports became the country's primary growth engine. Malaysia consistently achieved more than 7% GDP growth along with low inflation in the 1980s and the 1990s. Current GDP per capita grew 31% in the Sixties and an amazing 358% in the Seventies but this proved unsustainable and growth scaled back sharply to 36% in the Eighties rising again to 59% in the Nineties led primarily by export-oriented industries."

However, the thing which shows the lacuna in Malaysia's growth is the over-reliance on exports as the engine of economic growth. Implication of an export led growth in Malaysia and the South-East Asia is that the growth comes from not local consumption. Such is not a case with India, just to compare. Indian growth is more from domestic consumption.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Challenges of an Urban Millennium

United Nations Population Fund, also known as UNFPA, has come out with its 'State of the World Population Report 2007'. The theme for this year's report is 'Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth'. The findings of the report are not very surprising. The report says exactly what was being said during past few months - the future is urban. By 2030, almost 5 billion of the world's population will live in cities and major contribution will come from Asian and African nations. However the cities will not be rose-beds for the poorers, who will dominate the cityscape. The report insists on need for urban planning, especially for the 2nd rung cities which will be engines of urbanisation. One more point that the report points out corroborates what I said in one of my previous posts. The report says that the mega-cities will actually face outward migration rather than inward. Here is an excerpt from the report which is available on UNFPA's site for online reading and downloading.

Although mega-cities have received most of the attention, conditions in smaller urban areas call for even greater consideration. Contrary to general belief, the bulk of urban population growth is likely to be in smaller cities and towns, whose capabilities for planning and implementation can be exceedingly weak. Yet the worldwide process of decentralizing governmental powers is heaping greater responsibility on them. As the population of smaller cities increases, their thin managerial and planning capacities come under mounting stress. New ways will have to be found to equip them to plan ahead for expansion, to use their resources sustainably and to deliver essential services.

One of the Report’s key observations is that poor people will make up a large part of future urban growth. This simple fact has generally been overlooked, at great cost. Most urban growth now stems from natural increase (more births than deaths) rather than migration. But wherever it comes from, the growth of urban areas includes huge numbers of poor people. Ignoring this basic reality will make it impossible either to plan for inevitable and massive city growth or to use urban dynamics to help relieve poverty.

Once policymakers and civil society understand and accept the demographic and social composition of urban growth, some basic approaches and initiatives suggest themselves. These could have a huge impact on the fate of poor people and on the viability of the cities themselves. Throughout this Report the message is clear: Urban and national governments, together with civil society, and supported by international organizations, can take steps now that will make a huge difference for the social, economic and environmental living conditions of a majority of the world’s population.

Three policy initiatives stand out in this connection. First, preparing for an urban future requires, at a minimum, respecting the rights of the poor to the city. As Chapter 3 shows, many policymakers continue to try to prevent urban growth by discouraging rural-urban migration, with tactics such as evicting squatters and denying them services. These attempts to prevent migration are futile, counter-productive and, above all, wrong, a violation of people’s rights. If policymakers find urban growth rates too high, they have effective options which also respect human rights. Advances in social development, such as promoting gender equity and equality, making education universally available and meeting reproductive health needs, are important for their own sake. But they will also enable women to avoid unwanted fertility and reduce the main factor in the growth of urban populations—natural increase.

Secondly, cities need a longer-term and broader vision of the use of urban space to reduce poverty and promote sustainability. This includes an explicit concern with the land needs of the poor. For poor families, having an adequate piece of land—with access to water, sewage, power and transport—on which they can construct their homes and improve their lives is essential: Providing it requires a new and proactive approach. Planning for such spatial and infrastructure requirements, keeping in mind poor women’s multiple roles and needs, will greatly improve the welfare of poor families. This kind of people-centred development knits together the social fabric and encourages economic growth that includes the poor.

Similarly, protecting the environment and managing ecosystem services in future urban expansion requires purposeful management of space in advance of needs.

The “urban footprint” stretches far beyond city boundaries. Cities influence, and are affected by, broader environmental considerations. Proactive policies for sustainability will also be important in view of climate change and the considerable proportion of urban concentrations at or near sea level.

Thirdly, population institutions and specialists can and should play a key role in supporting community organizations, social movements, governments and the international community in improving the nature and form of future urban expansion, and thus enhancing its power to reduce poverty and promote environmental sustainability. A concerted international effort at this critical time is crucial to clarify policy options and provide information and analyses that will support strategies to improve our urban future.



More news stories about the report here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Apple's Art of Innovation


Economist has a cover story on 'Apple & Art of Innovation'. In this brilliant feature Economist has enumerated the rules behind this art of innovation. The article says - 

"...But mostly Apple's zest comes from its reputation for inventiveness. In polls of the world's most innovative firms it consistently ranks first. From its first computer in 1977 to the mouse-driven Macintosh in 1984, the iPod music-player in 2001 and now the iPhone, which goes on sale in America this month, Apple has prospered by keeping just ahead of the times."
How it was possible for Apple do that consistantly? Here are the rules according to Economist -
  1. Network Innovation - the innovation can come from within and without the company. A company must be open to receive new ideas
  2. User is at the centre, not demands of technology. This also leads to simplicity of the products
  3. Thinking ahead of times i.e. rather than bowing to today's market demands, innovate for tomorrow
  4. Fail wisely - learn from your mistakes. That;s what Apple did in case of Lisa
One point, which I feel is the most important and is not covered here is 'Neglect competitors'. If Apple competed with numerous mp3 player manufacturers, iPod would not have born and neither iPhone. Your concentration on competitors limits your achievement prospects by limiting your originality. Thus you can make a Prada, but not iPhone. An innovative company must compete with itself and time and not with other market-players.

Inside Man


Genre: Thriller / Drama
Story:
A bank heist is made to be believed to be more than that. Except that it is just a bank heist - a perfect one.
To Watch For: Danzel Washington - a classic performance. Also for the gripping screenplay and solid acting by Clive Owen.
Rating: 4 star [1-Hate it.2-Poor.3-Good Time-pass.4-Perfect Entertainment.5-Classic]
Recommendation: Watch it.
IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Global Warming

The G-8 summit is over without taking any clear decision on Global Warming. There are three stands on this issue. One stand is of environmentalists who are giving a hue and cry to slow death in the form of Global Warming. They must be given the credit for building a consensus about existence of Global Warming. Second stand is of Western Countries and particularly of USA's and the third being of emerging economies like India and China. Western developed countries are historically the worst polluters. An average US citizen emits 18 times more pollutants than her Indian counterpart and an average Briton emits 15 times more. India and China argue that there should be differential liabilities about cutting down emissions based on this fact. These countries have a right to emit gases otherwise the development will be hampered. The western countries, on the other hand, accuse India and China of blockading the agreement over binding levels of emission cuts. Ironically, it is the Indians who are most worried about the global warming according to a global survey published in New Scientist. As many as 55 % Indian say that they are 'Very Concerned' about climate change whereas only 15 % Britons say the same thing. What was expected at the G-8 summit was a clear cut decision about the future.
More - here, here & here.

Some interesting headlines I came across about Global Warming -
'Adults are acting childish over Global Warming'- Bismarck Tribune
'G-8 to act on Global Warming, later...may be' - Greenpeace.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Grand Myth of Indian Inequality...Or is it not?

This is really good edit in Times of India today. It is bang on target. Read it -
...It brings up questions of inequality and class envy — notwithstanding that India's score on the Gini coefficient, the measure used by economists for inequality, stands at a moderate 0.33. It's far more egalitarian than comparable economies in BRIC — Russia scores 0.40, China 0.45, and Brazil is off the charts at 0.54.
India does well even by the standards of developed economies, scoring the same as Canada and Belgium and better than the United States (0.41). Looked at in this frame inequality is not India's most pressing problem, poverty indubitably scores higher...
The moment the economy does well, it becomes incumbent on every one of us to develop a bad conscience. Which is why the prime minister who, in his capacity as finance minister in a previous government had launched India's economic reforms, succumbed to the established political wisdom of the day and called for capping CEO salaries to stop the poor from being discontented. The hackneyed ideology of trusteeship evidently dies hard — poverty is a constant, but the rich can help by hiding their riches better...
Inequality could be the hallmark of dynamic societies undergoing rapid economic growth, but that's better than wallowing in the stagnation of universal poverty. We celebrate our IITs, yet see merit as an elitist principle. Rather than obsess about inequality of outcomes India would do better if it focused, instead, on opportunity. Every Indian should have the means to fulfil her aspirations. Rather than pushing for reservations at higher levels, it's much better to provide universal access to infrastructure and education...
...China is more unequal than India, but far more successful in addressing poverty than India...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mobile Talktime Currency

At first, the transactions seemed fairly straightforward. “Instead of purchasing a voucher or scratchcard, people would purchase airtime using their phones. They would also, we discovered, trade airtime amongst themselves where, for example, someone with airtime worth 500 Naira sells airtime worth 200 Naira on to the next person in exchange for hard currency. The seller’s balance of airtime would be reduced by 200 Naira.” - iAfrica.com

According to Gartner, developing nations are adopting innovation and technology faster than mature markets for three main reasons.

Firstly, emerging markets have fewer legacies enabling them to leapfrog technology and commercialise it faster, making them ideal test beds.

Secondly, in highly-constrained environments, which might include poor infrastructure and low affordability, there is an acute need for products that can serve the local market better, rather than products designed for the developed world.

As an example, Gartner said mobile phones which require less power and have built-in connectivity are more suitable for emerging markets than PCs. They are also cheaper than PCs and more adaptable to the emerging market environment.

Gartner predicts that mobile phones will outnumber PCs by a factor of 15:1 in developing markets by 2010.

"Thirdly, emerging countries such as China and India have the ambition to lead the IT industry in the global market, and innovation is their only way to compete globally", it said. - ET

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Intelligently Artificial - Shape of the Future

Sometimes you come across something intellectually refreshing and fulfilling. Palo Alto based Singularity Institute of Artificial Intelligence [SIAI] which is at the forefront of expanding our limits of ignorance about Intelligence has started its own blog. Look what SIAI has to say about its mission - "In the coming decades, humanity will likely create a powerful AI. SIAI exists to confront this urgent challenge, both the opportunity and the risk. SIAI is fostering research, education, and outreach to increase the likelihood that the vast promise of AI is realized for the benefit of everyone." Read this post on SIAI blog named '5-min Singularity Intro' -

Sometime in the next few decades, we’ll start developing technologies that improve on human intelligence. We’ll hack the brain, or interface the brain to computers, or finally crack the problem of Artificial Intelligence. Now, this is not just a pleasant futuristic speculation like soldiers with super-strong bionic arms. Humanity did not rise to prominence on Earth by lifting heavier weights than other species.

Intelligence is the source of technology. If we can use technology to improve intelligence, that closes the loop and potentially creates a positive feedback cycle. Let’s say we invent brain-computer interfaces that substantially improve human intelligence. What might these augmented humans do with their improved intelligence? Well, among other things, they’ll probably design the next generation of brain-computer interfaces. And then, being even smarter, the next generation can do an even better job of designing the third generation. This hypothetical positive feedback cycle was pointed out in the 1960s by I. J. Good, a famous statistician, who called it the “intelligence explosion”. The purest case of an intelligence explosion would be an Artificial Intelligence rewriting its own source code.
The key idea is that if you can improve intelligence even a little, the process accelerates. It’s a tipping point. Like trying to balance a pen on one end - as soon as it tilts even a little, it quickly falls the rest of the way.

The potential impact on our world is enormous. Intelligence is the source of all our technology from agriculture to nuclear weapons. All of that was produced as a side effect of the last great jump in intelligence, the one that took place tens of thousands of years ago with the rise of humanity.


By the way, I also love the term Singularity. Singularities are of various types. I think SIAI takes it as a Technological Singularity, which denotes a point of 'next leap' of a scientific civilization.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Palmistry Anyone?

Here is an interesting piece of research which throws some light on relative lengths of Index and Ring fingers and its implications.
Finger Length Predicts Aggression in Men
The research, done at the University of Alberta and announced Wednesday, found a connection between the length of the male index finger relative to the ring finger and the tendency to be aggressive. No such connection was found in women. Scientists have known for more than a century that the finger-length ratio differs between men and women. Recently, scientists found a connection between finger lengths and the amount of testosterone that a fetus was exposed to in the womb: the shorter the index finger relative to the ring finger, the higher the amount of prenatal testosterone.The new study found such a fetus is more likely to be a physically aggressive adult, according to Peter Hurd and his graduate student Allison Bailey.

Interestingly, I found that the traditional sciences of palmistry have exactly opposite to say. Read a piece here, which says it is a long index finger which makes you dictating and authoritative.

More about scientific explanations about relative lengths of Index and Ring fingers, here.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Update: Villages or Cities

After I wrote the post 'Villages or Cities', I mailed the abstract to Atanu Dey for his reaction. He was kind enough to post a prompt reply to me. He wrote - "...For all I care, India can continue to live in villages and be -- as reality dictates -- be dirt poor. It's a choice we make -- to be poor and underdeveloped. In fact, it can be argued that village life for some is so unbearable that they prefer to live in urban slums -- these are hellholes but still people vote with their feet and live in slums over the life in villages." He has elaborated his views on Urbanisation on his blog 'Atanu Dey On India's Development'. No one can debate his commitment towards India's development and he has his reasons, when he asks, 'Can India Afford Its Villages?'
The main issue here is Development of India, her people. When we say 'development' in context of India, we can't just bypass her villages where almost 72% of people live [Census 2001]. There can be a lot of ways as to how we can achieve status of a developed country. Atanu suggests one of them.
His formula is something like this - The cure for under-development is Urbanisation. Thus, what we should do is, urbanise the village population (not village 'areas', he says). This is not PURA [Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas], when he says 'urbanise', he means 'cities' (areas not people). He wants 600 NEW city centres which will accommodate 1 million people each. Thus there won't be any villages in India. There will be vibrant cities which will provide progress opportunities to the city inhabitants, on the logic of economics of scale.

When I say the strategy proposed by Atanu is flawed, the reasons are -
  • His solution is simplistic and rationalistic. Remember Muhammad Bin Tughalaq, who thought that Deogiri in Southern India will better serve as the capital of his kingdom. He forcibly moved whole population of Delhi to Deogiri, but had to return to Delhi within 2 years. But on course a large population perished.
  • When all people live in cities, who will farm? Will India import ALL the food she would require? Even if we suppose that some people living in cities will also do farming, this will not work. In my village people prefer to stay on farms in season. The farms are typically at a distance of 5-6 km only. There is logic behind this. You get more time to do the work, thefts are prevented etc. When all people live in villages, the distances they will have to travel to their farms will increase manifold. Why the people who want to do farming would want to go to cities in first place?
  • People want to do farming. That is the reason why farmers are rejecting the offers of money and jobs against their lands. It is not only politics. As I said in the original post, autonomy and ownership matter more than the monetary value of the lands. It is like saying 'Be the king of hell, rather than serving in heaven'. If you do not accept this then you are guilty of a biased view and of looking down to rural people as objects who can be moved at will.
  • When you say that cities are better places to live, you measure happiness from your own city standards. The living conditions in slums in cities are worse than those in villages, though the slum dwellers 'vote with their feet' [I don't know what does this mean]. People who prefer slums to villages are a minute fraction of whole village population. If this were not so, there would already have been 600 slum cities in India, with nobody in villages.
Then what can be the answer?
The only answer is Decentralisation and autonomous villages. Gandhiji's ideal of Self-sufficient villages is better and workable than Utopia of theorists. To make decentralisation and autonomy work, Education is must. What happened to 86th amendment act which made Elementary Education as a fundamental right in Art. 21 (A) of the Indian Constitution?
A decentralisation along with Art 21 (A), and complimented by technology is the answer to many of India's ailments.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Politics For Youth


Why the political parties don't have anything special to offer to the young people? What is true for commerce, is also true for politics. Youth have high adaptability, they have high action power, they are receptive. Should not the politics be a bit younger in offerings as well as in composition?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Villages or Cities?

I just chanced upon two articles through Rajesh jain's weblog on Emerging Technologies. One of them is in Economist and other one in Mint, an economic daily in India. The article - 'World Goes to Towns' in Economist is a part of their survey on cities, which covers many facets of increasing rate of urbanization. The main argument made in this article is that urbane metroes will be the future and will be the engine of progress for whole modern civilisation. By 2020, 9 cities across the world will touch the figure of almost 20 million inhabitants. In Mint, Atany Dey and Reuben Abraham argue in their article, with similar tones that urbanization is the natural path of human advance and the earlier we get there, better will it be. The name of their article aptly describes this line of thought - 'Can India Afford Its Villages?'
Well. To me this article in Mint looks flawed. The writers say, for example -
Villages are not the proper object of analysis when it comes to economic growth, and hence economic development. By insisting on the development of villages, scarce resources, which could have been more efficiently used elsewhere, are wasted. The same resources can be used in the development of cities. It seems to us that the answer to the development of rural people paradoxically lies in urban development.

The flaw to me here is a visibly rationalistic attitude which treats village as a mere unit in the economy, to which some resources must be allocated and all problems in current societies are merely those of allocation of resources. Look at the Nandigram and Maan /Vagholi SEZ issues that enraged in W. Bengal and Maharashtra. Valuation of a village or land can't be done in monetary terms - a mistake which the economists are doing again and again.
There can't be any debate about the fact that the living conditions of villagers must be improved, but it is not at all convincing that lower living conditions means villages. What about the slums in Mumbai or Delhi then? Those are urbanization minus urbane conditions.
The main question here is not of living conditions off course. The question, as raised by the writers, is of productivity. Productivity and Urbanization are two different things. If we turn all the resources to cities on pretext of low productivity of villages then we will merely force the rural populations to migrate into cities. Even if new city-centers come up to accommodate these immigrants, what about the productivity in farm sector? We would have found no answers to this problem of low agricultural productivity. The results would be completely disastrous for whole economy.
Another curious phenomenon which negates this city-centric resources planning is, that most of the Special Economic Zones come up not on infertile land in some relatively remote places far off from cities. They are, in fact, proposed in close proximity to existing cities only. The logic behind benefit of proximity is clear. There is little infrastructural development in countryside. If we want to develop this infrastructure, again we must shift resources to villages, not cities.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Now, Social Movies!

Why One Minute Movies will matter?
  • Democratic flavor: Everybody can't be Martin Scorcesse or Peter Jackson. But everybody can make a 1-Minute statement. And cameras are dozen a dime now in cellphones, which everybody has.
  • It's simple: Just click and shoot.
  • It's quick: Just click, shoot and save.
  • It's economic: Camera, as an add-on in a cellphone, is free. Unless you sign up Brad Pit for your movie, it will cost nothing.
I wonder how greatly this matters for media and mobile industries...

Read this post on resurrection of One Minute Movies on ajit balakrishnan’s Blog -
"In a move that may have marked the start of a new era, the legendary former Disney CEO Michael Eisner unveiled plans to produce 80 episodes of a serial called “Prom Queen.” This by itself may not have caused a stir except that each episode will be just 90 seconds. “Prom Queen” is a serialized mystery and will begin on April 2nd and roll out over 80 days. It has been billed as 'a blend of love, gossip and betrayal”. The series will run on the studio’s own site Vuguru.com, on a show site promqueen.tv, on Youtube the popular video sharing site, on Veoh a file sharing site and arrangements are being made to distribute it on wireless and handheld video devices. Ads will run before and after episodes. Eisner also announced this week the formation of a studio, Vuguru, that will acquire and develop short videos for the web.

User created One Minute videos have been around ever since the dramatic drop in price of video cameras. But what makes the Eisner move different is that he plans to have his 1-minute videos “professionally produced”, using top Hollywood talent.

What this will do to the movie industry that has marching towards ever larger production budgets and ever lengthier durations and ever plusher multiplexes is too complicated"

Watch some great 1-Minute Movies here and here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Technology Wins With Marketing - Seth Godin

Here is great talk by talk master Seth Godin at Google, where he tells why Marketing is important. Also a great viewing for those who want to know what is a really great presentation?

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Microsoft Marrying Yahoo?

Google has taken two entities head on. On one hand Google challenged Yahoo; firstly on Search front and then on a lot of other fronts. On the other front, there is Microsoft who is threatened by Google's web based office applications. Among these three, only Google seems to be completely belonging in the Web 2.0 eco-system, while Yahoo is the runner-up(mainly due to Flickr) and Microsoft seems to be totally out of sync in the new regime of user-control, mash-ups, communities etc. Further, the lucrative market of mobile search is also a field where Microsoft and Yahoo would have to toil a lot to take on Google.

However, this particular news of tomorrow is only a rumour today. Most of the newspapers have put a question mark in the end of the news. WallStreet Journal has put up a news as
'Microsoft, Yahoo Discussed Deal'
"Microsoft and Yahoo discussed a possible merger or other matchup that would pair their respective strengths, say people familiar with the situation. The merger discussions are no longer active, these people say, but that doesn't preclude the two companies from some other form of cooperation."
Here is a video commentary of one of WSJ analysts on WSJ Online. Watch it here

Thursday, May 3, 2007

How Second Life Is a Disruptive Idea?


What can be a truly disruptive idea? What can be said to take the business one step ahead of the competition? What can be the answers of these questions when they are asked in connection with media business? These are the questions which I ask myself again and again.

I think that in media the business ideas which succeed beyond expectations are those which truly exploit the potential of that particular medium. For example, what is the strength of Internet? Is it the fact that there are lesser or no size limits when compared with print medium, where you have to stuff all the news you have into 16 to 20 pages (in India)? Is it the fact that you can stream videos? According to me, until now Internet had 2 strengths – One, the hyperlinks [which make the Internet infinite, by always giving you some entry points and some exit points]. The other strength which Internet has is its ability of offering interactivity, or a window to react and be creative, for the users. For example, I can easily connect with a friend over content on a website using the same medium. Single medium is used as a content offering tool and at the same time also a tool to interact and communicate, unlike in any other medium except perhaps a mobile.

This takes us to a relationship between type of business idea and the characteristics of the medium. The relationship is –

[Extent of disruption caused by an idea] α [Extent of use of unique strengths of the medium for maximum benefit]

This point gets validated by the disruptive ideas on Internet in recent times. Google [connects you to resources on Web], Wikipedia, Youtube and Flickr [all 3 - window to create something], MySpace [connect with each others] and Amazon / eBay [imitate real life on Internet using interactivity and communication ability].

What will be the biggest disruption on Internet from its inception? I am sure it is going to be Second Life [as an idea. Current Second Life is not at all sophisticated in technology. Perhaps it will be Google’s similar offering that will change the game altogether]. If you look at Second Life, you will find that it has everything that I listed above – communication tool, transaction tool, creativity tool and a lot more than that like it is a real-time MMORPG which will keep you engaged, provide you an earning and also entertain you.

Keep your fingers crossed, because the Virtual World is going to change not only Internet – that will be a minute part. It is going to stir the Human Society to its roots by challenging the existing logic, notions, transactions, inter-relationships and Interactions in ordinary human life in most confounding way.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Another World Cup Ends

With obvious result of Australia winning the world cup, 2 disappointments of India and Pakistan who went down in group rounds and a murder of Bob Woolmer, the world cup 2007 is over now.

How you will remember it?
- As a world cup which was extremely boring
- As a world cup where India didn't reach even to second round
- As a world cup where Woolmer was murdered
- As a world cup when one generation of great cricketers like Lara, McGrath, Ponting, Sachin, Inzamam etc. played their last world cup

Thursday, April 26, 2007

News That Matter

  • C-DAC [The institution that launched India into Supercomputing age] launched Pragati a Hindi web browser, which is based on Firefox. This is important, since there is much to be done in Indian languages computing, before Indian masses can interact with PC's and web in their local languages [via Quick Online Tips].

  • Economic Times reports that India may offer free broad band services to her people at 2 mbps, within next 2 years. The cost will be a fraction of Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF). USOF is created out of annual deposit of 5 % of revenues of each cellular operator in India. It was supposed to be used for bridging the telecom devide that exists between urban and rural India. Incidentally, currently USOF burgeons at 9194.12 crore.

  • AOL has launched its Indian version - AOL.in, which currently looks quite a basic portal.

3G Enters India...Almost.



Today, there is a full page ad of Nokia N95 in Times Of India. The features list of N95 is just impressive. It has a dual slide design, 5 MP camera, Wi-Fi abilities, internet browser with Mini Map for better internet experience, integration with Flickr, the LifeBlog application, GPS...and so on. Cool! That is a range of features I will die for! See all the features here and a deatiled review here. So, futuristic handsets are here, penetration of mobile-phones is rising at a scorching pace and operators are also prepared to play the 3G game. What about the spectrum?

Other news in the same newspaper, that has caught my attention is about Indian governement's decision (or is it just a proposal?) about inviting global bids for spectrum auction. The Indian Airforce is expected to vacate 42.5 Mhz of spectrum by July, this year. The bids will be invited after this. The significance of global bidding is that it will give some big global players, an opportunity to catch the telecom-boom bus, which they have lost or left earlier. For consumers, this will mean that they will have a richer 3G experience and the tariffs will be lowered considerably. And for government, this will mean big bucks. The news says -

"The most significant aspect of Wednesday's announcement read along with the modified 74% FDI guidelines in telecom announced by the government just last week, is a clear invitation for global telcos to put their money where their mouth is. Analysts suggest that this is perhaps the last opportunity for those who have not been a part of the Indian telecom juggernaut to now jump in."

Read the news here.

Best Cell Phones

Monday, April 23, 2007

Virginia Tech Timelapse on Wikipedia

It was great watching this video about how wikipedia changes during a world acknowledged event. I originally viewed it on Wired.com. Now it seems that even NY Times has made a great homepage feature on Wikipedia's woking in the wake of V Tech shooting. A must read feature on NYT and also a must watch video...

Are You Satisfied?

The Indian selectors have come up with this young team for Bangladesh tour. Can we say that the team is all new and young? Who else should have been deleted / added?

One-day squad:
Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Mahendra Dhoni, Dinesh Karthick, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwari, Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, Rudrapratap Singh, Piyush Chawla, Ramesh Powar and Dinesh Mongia.

Test team: Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Mahendra Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, Wasim Jaffer, Zaheer Khan, Dinesh Karthick, Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Vikram Singh, Munaf Patel, Ramesh Powar and Rajesh Pawar.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Leonel Maradona!

Great players are not born again and again. The simpply fantastic goal by Maradona against arch rivals England in the 1986 World Cup has always fascinated me. I have watched it again and again and again on youtube. Unbelievable!
However, a more unbelievable thing happened in the match between Barcelona and Getafe. The said-to-be 'Next Maradona', Leonel Messi scored this wonderful goal. The goal is so similar to the one by Master, that ... no words. Watch it!

Here is the goal by Maradona -

Update: This video is not allowed to be embedded. But being of the best quality, I tinkered with the code and put it here. Just double click on the video to watch it on Youtube.



Here is a similar one by the Next Maradona -

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stage Is Set

After a long and boring Super Eight stage, now World cup has again come to where it belongs - an interesting mode, where the titans of the game will fight with each other with anger and might. Remember one thing, except South Africans who lost to New Zealand and Bangladesh, remaining 3 teams are in full form. This means that there will be a real feast for the lovers of the game and we will hope that the excitement which is expected in a World Cup will be there (at least) now. Evergreen favorites, Australia have not lost a single match in this world cup! They are all set to win this world cup, unless Sri Lanka or New Zealand do the trick. Sri Lankans have lost 2 matches in Super Eights. Many believe that the result of Aus-S.L. match in Super Eights would have been different if Murlitharan and Vaas would have played in that match. I believe that Sri Lankans actually have matched the shrewdness of Australians ans S. Africans, by not allowing Aussies to play Muralitharan before more crucial matches. Another underdog-turned-favorites are the Kiwis. They are in a wonderful form and in a right mental state. They have the real ability to upset the powerhouses of Australia and Sri Lanka. South Africans, unlike other 3 are inconsistent totally. They defeated Sri Lanka in the beginning of Super Eights; but towards end, they lost to Bangladesh and then to New Zealand. Besides, they have a reputation of buckling when it matters most. They will have to take a lot of efforts and play a better game to beat the image of 'chokers'.

Anyway, the stage is set now! I am ready to burn the midnight oil again after Indians returned from West Indies long ago.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Verginia Shooting Spree Underlines Gun Control Necessity



While reading about the shooting spree in Virginia Tech, in which more than 20 innocent and bright people died shocked me to the roots. The real shock comes from the fact that this incident is not an isolated event. Earlier, there were similar incidents across USA and which happened on some campuses. Being from India, where there are is a strict gun control regime, the US liberty for owning the guns intrigues me. As I flipped through Wikipedia, I came to know that the right to own arms in US stems from the American Civil War. The forces which fought with British troops owned their arms. Thus, today's right is based on the assumption that owning arms is the last line of defence against the tyranny of the government. The government is nothing but some persons, in whom there can't be ultimate trust by the citizens. But from today's realities, doesn't this seem ridiculous? In a democracy, people elect their own government. Citizens invest in the government, the authority to regulate their lives. In this situation, is it assumed that the people will fight with their revolvers and shotguns with the government, which in case of US is sitting on piles of nuclear weapons? On ground what the gun liberty regime means is senseless and tragic deaths of innocents frequently (and hunting of deers and bears?). Or am I missing something here?
Another two issues here are - Why such incidents are happening on university campuses? Does this mean a lack of support system in US for the youngsters? Again, here the shooter was a Korean student. The immigrant students again have separate issues of their own and the Universities will have to strive harder to ensure a rich and beautiful experience to the immigrant students.

Update: MSN India has added a post today [23rd April] about Gun Control Debate sparked off by Virginia Tech incident -
Virginia shooting revives debate on gun control

Saturday, April 14, 2007

No 'Oomph!' here.

Woolmer is dead. Allegations of match - fixing are as usual. India & Pakistan are out, even before Super 8 stage. Even West Indies, the hosts, are out. Lara complains about low turn-out of spectators for the home match. Now, Ponting says that W. Indies has worst practice facilities.

Is the World Cup 2007, a FIASCO?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Is the Democracy in India, a True Democracy?

In spite of some differences of varying extent in the association or separation, one fact that remains true about the governance set up in a democracy, that there are 3 basic functions of the State and these are Legislation, execution and judicature. There are 3 arms of state in a democracy, which performs these functions in – legislature legislates, executive executes and judiciary decides the legality within the ambit of laws made by legislature. The legislature makes the laws because it represents the will of the people. People elect their representatives in the elections and send the winners to the parliaments to protect their interests, on their behalf. Thus works the democracy. However, do the legislatures truly represent the people who mandate them? Theoretically yes, but on ground, the answer is a big no.

How can a person, whom I don't meet for the whole term of legislature said to be representing my aspirations? I would say that representing the aspirations of a few crores of voters is just not possible for a single member of parliament, more so in a highly stratified and fractured society like India. Further, here the system is 'first past the post' – he who gets highest number of votes, wins. So you can have a candidate garnering even 20 percent of votes and winning the election. Actually, had there been an option of 'None of the Above' in the voting list, I am sure that those who mark on this option would have been highest in number. Further do the interests of the representative as a politician, align with his interests as a legislature? Or, do they even align with my interests as a voter? A politician would certainly be a election oriented person, because there are no rewards for remaining politician. The returns, however, pour cats and dogs, once you win the election. Further, the unmanageable number of voters in a constituency means that rather than doing the hard work of winning heart of each voter, I would rather use the short cuts to win the elections. Here, the aspirations of people and representative nature of polity – both are compromised.

Now, if this is the situation, then why citizens should be bound by the laws made by a parliament which is not representative in true sense of the term?

What can be the solution to this issue?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Should Sachin Retire?

भारतीय क्रिकेट संघात आता सचिन तेंडुलकर नको, असे भारतीय क्रिकेट मंडळातील अनेक पदाधिकाऱ्यांचे मत होते; पण मांजराच्या गळ्यात घंटा बांधण्यास कोणीही तयार नव्हते. आता ग्रेग चॅपेल यांनी हे काम सोपे केले आहे. भारतीय क्रिकेट मंडळातील सूत्रांनी दिलेल्या माहितीनुसार- चॅपेल हे सचिन तेंडुलकरला कायमचा निरोप देण्याची शिफारस करणार आहेत.
गेल्या काही वर्षातला आपला हरपलेला सूर लक्षात घेऊन सचिन तेंडुलकरने आता निवृत्त व्हावे, असा सल्ला ऑस्ट्रेलियाचे माजी दिग्गज फलंदाज इयन चॅपेल यांनी दिला आहे. सचिनने आपला जो लौकिक उभा केला होता त्या लौकिकानुसार सचिनकडून गेल्या तीन-चार वर्षांत खेळ झालेला नाही. कारकीर्द वाढविण्यासाठी तो आता प्रयत्नशील आहे, असे इयन चॅपेल यांनी म्हटले आहे.
मुंबईतील एका सायंदैनिकातील स्तंभलेखात इयन चॅपेल यांनी सचिनला निवृत्तीचा हा सल्ला दिला आहे.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Anatomy of Compelling Digg Videos: 101

Have a good video. Definitely people would like it. So you want the people to watch it. So you have also put it on Digg.

But there are thousands of people like you out there. There are thousands of better videos. What do you think will then make the difference? Why a dig visitor will click on a video, which is just one of many? The answer is – Write a compelling description of your video. Those 3-4 lines below your video will matter the most. The description should be so compelling that the dig visitor must feel that he has come to Digg, just to watch videos like this. How to do it then? What is the single most compelling description ever written?

There are 3 factors associated with a Digg video – Content, Title & Description. Now there are following scenarios –

  1. Content is simply very much attractive – This is obviously the most ideal situation; and a rare one. When you have a strong content of video, your mantra would be 'Be Descriptive'. Just write core of your video in 5 to 8 words of Title, and elaborate 'what the title is?' in a Description of 2-3 lines. You are done.
  2. Average Content – You know when your content is average, don't you? We are the best judges actually. In such a case, what will obviously matter are
    other 2/3rd part – the title & the description. This is tricky. But the solution is simple. Here you will have to do upside down. Make your title a bit descriptive, e.g. 'Johnny Playing Football with Dog and Getting Beaten 2-0!' This surely not a substantive content, is it? This was for the title. For description, don't write more than 1 simple sentence. The most compelling description can be – 'Just watch it', or 'Dog's dribble rivals Ronaldnho. Watch it to know it!', or 'Beyond description; Just watch that!', or 'Not that the dog is playing football; it's the way it beats Johnny', or 'My God! The doggy is Pele!!'

If you look at the descriptions in point (2), you should come to know how the descriptions ought to be. If you write a description as – 'A little boy was playing football with his dirty looking doggy, when the dog beat the boy by 2-0. Watch the video, you will lol.' Doesn't it suck? You will think – 'Who the heck is the submitter, to tell me to watch it?' What's wrong with this description? Your obvious reaction would be like this because the writer of description has placed himself on other side of Line of Distrust.


What is this Line of Distrust? This is an invisible boundary that separates a consumer from a supplier of content / product. Here, it means that while writing a description, even if you have shot the video, you need to think from a viewer's point of view. Ideal description is as if a viewer is thinking to himself, or 'somebody' telling him to watch the video because it is really great. This somebody MUST NOT BE THE SUBMITTER but a fellow viewer telling how good the video is.

While writing a good description, submitting a good post / video, you must be on side A of the line of separation. And believe me this applies to every piece of creation in a process of communication.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Should There Be A Traffic Congestion Tax in India?

Whenever I look at the traffic chaos in Pune, the emerging IT hub in Western India, I always think about the possibility of levying a congestion tax, like in case of London and Stockholm. In London, for example, in central area, an entering vehicle is charged a congestion tax of 8 £, and in case of evasion, a fine of 50 £. This is true from 7 am to 6 pm, every day except Sundays and excepting certain types of vehicles like hospital ambulances. You can read more about London congestion tax here.
The enforcement system includes database of registered vehicles, a number of cameras guarding the entrance and exits of congestion zones, apart from the inner roads in the zone and Automatic Number Plate Recognition Software.
This means that this system implementation is not an easy task, more so for an Indian city like Pune, where the traffic flow is extremely heavy during peak hours. But nonetheless, this can be one of the solutions for the menace of traffic jams and loss of precious time for a lot of office commuters. What needs to be done to implement this solution in Pune?
The first thing that needs to be tackled is the strengthening of public transport in the city. In Pune city, the public transport is monopoly of Pune Municipal Transport, a semi-governmental agency. If the high number of two-wheelers which ply on Pune roads is to be tackled, the PMT must be able to take that load. This would need large investments over the years in upgrading and increasing the fleet of PMT. These PMT buses can then take over from two-wheeler riders who don’t want to pay the congestion tax, at the tax collection posts.
This will also mean that there must be huge parking spaces, near the congestion tax collection points, to serve the commuters who want to opt for cheap public transport, instead of paying hefty congestion charge. The parking may be charged at a nominal charge. The PMT buses will take over from here to the inner parts of the city.
The investments in updating database of vehicle registrations and connecting it with an updated database of all Road Transport Offices in other districts will be an imperative. This is so, because, there is a high level of vehicle immigration into the city. Further, the use of ANPR software will also be needed.
The things that may derail this project include the resistance from commuters, who will resist any idea of paying a tax for entering into the inner city. Daily commuters will fight against this measure, tooth and nail. Chances of politicization are also vary high, for the issue-starving political parties will definitely take advantage of this. Another thing is more taxes, more rules means that more corruption. Simplification in Right to Information Act may be a cure for this.

Do you visualize any other problems that may arise from Congestion Tax?
Also, how should, the taxes collected, be utilised to the best benefits of commuters?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Quote of The Day

"John might prefer apples to bananas, bananas to cherries, but cherries to apples."
- This tells the irrational nature of human decisions. Human preferences can't be assigned with ascending/descending values. 'a>b' and 'b>c' means that 'a>c' in mathematics, but not in Human Life. Human choices vary from person to person and for a person, from time to time. I read it on website of American Mathematical Society.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Show Goes On


Before the world cup started, like any cricket fan, we were very much sure that India would at least reach semifinals in W. Indies. It was as if India had the birth right to reach semis. But, luck falters. And Indian team falters more often. So, here we are. Super - 8 has started now with full force and anticipation, sans India. Australians have not shown any mercy to West Indies, in spite of being guests there. Hayden is never in a habit of thinking twice, before hitting ball beyond boundaries. Australia showed in that match, what champions are made of. No critic has any doubt that Aussies will reach finals and unless something unexpected happens, will also lift the cup.
However, the day was won not by Ponting's men; The day belonged to the South Africa - Sri Lanka match. Actually, S. Lanka's 209 meant that S. Africa was a sure winner. But full credit of the entertainment goes to Malinga. His 4 balls - 4 wickets haul actually showed why One Day Internationals are so entertaining, and why even after Yuvraj and Dravid are out, Indians still hoped a win from Zaheer and Munaf, against Lanka. Malinga's magic almost ousted Africans, before S. African tail showed the grit to still win.
Isn't it matches like this, that we love cricket?

iPhone - the Features That Will Matter


1. Touchscreen - From video, it looks great, but we will have to wait to see how Apple has tackled issue of scratch resistance, unintended touches etc.
2. Internet surfing experience - This will be where iPhone's success will matter in long term, especially in the non-US markets like Europe and Far East, where use of cell phone for net-surfing is rising with leaps and bounds.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mystery Is Easy - How to Crack Agatha Christie?



I just finished reading 'Murder Is Easy' by Agatha Christie, the queen of mystery. Here the lead of novel meets an old woman on a London bound train and gets to know about mysterious deaths taking place in a desolate village, not far from London. The old lady mentions to this retired police officer, that she is going to report to the Scotland Yard the murders and the suspect according to her. But, the police officer reads in next day's newspaper that the old lady has been knocked down by some vehicle in London. Determined to see to this affair, the lead goes to village, falls in love with a lady besides trying to unfold the murder mysteries. Regular stuff.
I actually had zeroed down on 3 persons in novel as possible murderers when I was somewhere in the middle of novel. And bravo! Here are the actual results - First one the pompous Lord is closely related to the murderer; Second, the lady - in whose case I failed - is not the murderer, but in fact becomes muse of the lead; the third one - the old lady once engaged to the Lord is the actual murderer.
Now, here is my formula of how to crack murder mysteries before Agatha Christie does that on
last/secondlast/thirdlast page
.
It is quite simple. Just remember following facts about the murder mystery - 
  • The murderers appear at the earliest stages of novel.
  • They are delved upon to lesser extent inspite of being lead players
  • Those, whose eccentricities, murderous sides are exposed again and again in the novel are NOT murderers. Stay away from them (and pray the hero doesn't waste much time on them)
  • The investigators are silly fellows - ignornig obvious facts. You don't be silly.
  • Inspite of this, if you fail, then don't be sad. The mystery novel is meant for that.
How about writing a mystery novel, like Agatha Christie? More than writing skills, it needs some mathematical, analytical mind.

  1. Write a simplest murder story with all facts.
  2. Now you have characters - facts - character info; one murderer; one investigator
  3. Wipe down character info as much as possible, without making the character look suspicious by lack of info about him/her
  4. Now, make one more pseudo-murderer. He/she will come handy to create twists
  5. Your murder mystery is ready now. Just don’t tell the readers some facts here and there. Create small twists throughout [twist=suspect somebody-show that he is not the real one].
  6. Finally, twist before main exposure is extremely important for the ‘Orgasm’ at the climax. Here you make the reader believe that the pseudo-murderer is the real one. Obviously, you make reader think like that by making your investigator think like that. Readers will read it and draw desired conclusions.
Here is the graph -





Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Two International Teams For India?

In an exclusive interview to NDTV BCCI chief Sharad Pawar said that there will now be two cricket teams for India - India Seniors and India Blue.

While the seniors will, as the name suggests, consist of the more experienced players, India blue will also get a chance at international games.

Readers Write - Updated

Our reader, Jayant adds -

The Indian Cricket Team players majority of them r in the team b'coz they want to make more money, that is by being in the team and shooting for the advertisement and endorsements one player is such that he is made into a comic book hero so the stakes r high they have stick in the team hook or by crook using their political friends to get in is also a option. The fact remains the Men In Blue is kicked out of the world cup tournament even before it has warmed up so i would like my Indian cricket team to be young aggressive and who can win matches the coach and captain should be maintained.

One of the active readers of Sakaal Blog comments -
The extra-ordinary fan following as well the excessive importance given to cricket,the pre world cup hype & hoopla by all media in India too is partially responsible for the ignominious fiasco in the first league against underestimated opponents!
Excessive cricket,too much money in many forms,too many distractions,iconic celebrity status took the toll.The all time greats are now jaded enough though despite our gr8 population,we are not producing good enough replacements!
Perhaps time to withdraw from the international scene for 2-3 yrs & high time for the tired & not young any more greats like sachin,sehwag etc to retire!
But we must still treat them with respect coz they have won great laurels for India in the past & winning as well as losing have to be taken with sportsman spirit though now with the proverbial pinch of salt!
While other contributor says -

Cricket is not just a game to play or enjoy. We Indians feel it from our HEART. Indian players are none other less than Bhagwaan to us. But after Panipat of Indian team in 2007 World Cup it’s time to rethink for us. This 2007 Cricket World Cup put lot of questions in the mind of Cricket fans. Bob Woolmer’s mysterious murder again gives rise to the Match Fixing issue. In olden days people used to say “Cricket is a Gentleman’s game”. But now it becomes just a money game.

After India’s defeat, World Cup just become No man’s Land for the entire nation. People are so irritated that they even don’t want to see Players faces, their ads. I am a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar. World’s no.1 batsman unable to play in swinger of Fernando, it’s really shame for him. This defeat will change our Cricket fans minds. Now, I think no one is interested in World Cup. We refer seeing movies rather than cricket. I think days are over where “We think cricket, we eat cricket & we play cricket”. One thing is sure that Indian team totally lost their Spirit to win, since it doesn’t matter who you are? If you have such momentum to recreate something different you will become Idol for the nation. But with great sorrow I have to say, presently there is no one who can make it possible.

As a cricket lover I never forget cricket which is a team game & always teaches us “Let’s win together”. Now, there is no such enthusiasm to watch the matches, to shout for the players, to pray for them. ICC 2007 WC is unforgettable nightmare for me & I desperately want to forget it.



Friday, March 23, 2007

No Child Porn Or No Porn For Child?

A federal judge in USA, thrashed down a law of 1998, which made it a crime for websites to allow children to gain access to explicit material on web. New York Times reports that the judge said that - 
"the law was ineffective, overly broad and at odds with free speech rights. Judge Reed added that there were far less restrictive methods like software filters that parents could use to control their children’s Internet use."
The question here is the clash between our desire to protect our children from anything which may destroy the joy of childhood, and freedom of expression, which more or less all constitutions guarantee their citizens.

Let's have a look at the first of the two contestants of clash here, viz. 'our' desire to protect our children from anything that destroys their 'joy of childhood'. Now the interesting part is who is this 'our' here? And what exactly is 'joy of childhood'? My doubt is whether parents [if they constitute 'our'] or elders can decide really as to what constitutes 'joy of childhood'? I mean if I am a child, then I may genuinely please myself by watching the explicit material. Isn't it true that as children we all felt an invisible desire to be able to at least watch 'such' things? Offcourse, there is no chance that we might be knowing where we were heading or where we would end up by such desire, unless the parents are psychopaths. Now if on the other hand, I am a parent, a normal parent, then what I would wish? Hmmm. Here is the tricky part – I would want to protect our children from the same things for which I had craved as a child.

If we go by this logic/ argument/ line of thought, then it is all a messy dilemma which leads us nowhere. Then what can be a plausible line of thinking for this question? Let’s look at it in this way – how about the child porn industry? Isn’t it the real issue? More than trying to protect my children from porn material, the important thing is protecting the children who are the exploited for quenching the carnal desires of some psychopaths by making them the unfortunate stars of third rate porn flicks. Earlier, on my previous blog, I had written a post about a story of frustrating battle with child porn. It seems to me that where the market forces enter the regard for humanitarian concerns is seriously and irreversibly undermined due to the complex web of survival that is woven around the illegal activities. A drug peddler supplies drugs, his business grows and turns into an empire and wealth is generated, a lot of people who support this illegal activity through totally legal professions [e.g. a transport man who doesn’t know what is inside those bags]. Now this does not remain a question of a drug peddler only. Along with him a lot of other innocent people are involved. Now magnify this situation to an international level where on one hand there is very high demand for child porn, on other there are all those innocent - guilty suppliers, and on the third side, there are thousands of children out there who have lost their human dignity even before they understand what exactly does that mean.

What should be done? Why there are no free and powerful apps that filter out / block out child porn content? Why there are no stringent sanctions on financial transactions which are related to this industry – this is possible, remember how effectively US has choked the finance channels of Al Qaeda. Is the question of child porn not critical enough?


[It would be interesting to see which ads Google Adsense throws up for this post!]

Thursday, March 22, 2007

क्रोनिए, कॅडबरी, वूल्मर... कधी थांबेल हे सत्र?

तुम्हाला याविषयी काय वाटते? ई-सकाळ वरील ही बातमी वाचा -
जागतिक क्रिकेटला सामन्यांच्या निकालनिश्‍चितीचे (मॅच फिक्‍सिंग) लागलेले ग्रहण अद्याप सुटू शकलेले नाही, हेच बॉब वूल्मर यांच्या मृत्यूने सिद्ध झाले आहे. दक्षिण आफ्रिकेचा माजी कर्णधार हॅन्सी क्रोनिए, पाकिस्तानातील कुख्यात बुकी कॅडबरी यांच्यानंतर आता वूल्मर यांचाही काटा काढण्यात आला. "फिक्‍सिंग'च्या समुद्रातील "बडे मासे' बाहेर येऊ नयेत, यासाठी या व्यक्तींना हटविण्याचे काम योजनाबद्ध रीतीने होत असल्याचा संशय व्यक्त केला जात असून, हे सत्र कधी थांबणार, असा प्रश्‍न निर्माण झाला आहे. दक्षिण आफ्रिकेचा तत्कालीन कर्णधार हॅन्सी क्रोनिए याच्यासह विविध देशांच्या क्रिकेटपटूंचे सट्टेबाजांशी; तसेच बुकींशी असलेले लागेबांधे १९९९-२००० मध्ये उघड झाले. "फिक्‍सिंग' होते, या शक्‍यतेलाही त्या वेळी दिल्ली पोलिसांनी केलेल्या तपासणीत पुष्टी मिळाली होती. निकालनिश्‍चिती केल्याची कबुली देत क्रोनिएने त्या वेळी क्रिकेटविश्‍वात वादळ निर्माण केले. वूल्मर तेव्हा दक्षिण आफ्रिका संघाचे प्रशिक्षक होते. क्रोनिएबरोबरच हर्शेल गिब्ज, निकी बोए, तसेच भारताचा तत्कालीन कर्णधार महंमद अजहरुद्दीन, अजय जडेजा, अजय शर्मा यांचीही नावे दोषींच्या यादीत आली होती. विशेष म्हणजे तेव्हा प्रशिक्षक असलेल्या वूल्मर यांच्यावर मात्र एकही आरोप झालेला नव्हता.
१९९९ मध्ये दक्षिण आफ्रिका व ऑस्ट्रेलिया यांच्यातील विश्‍वकरंडक स्पर्धेचा "टाय' झालेला सामना, तसेच वूल्मर प्रशिक्षक असताना पाकिस्तानला बांगलादेशकडून स्वीकारावा लागलेला पराभव हेदेखील "फिक्‍सिंग' होते, अशी दबक्‍या आवाजात चर्चा झाली होती. या सर्व प्रकरणाची तसेच क्रिकेटपटू व सट्टेबाज यांच्यातील संबंधांची खडानखडा माहिती वूल्मर यांना होती. हा सारा तपशील त्यांच्या "डिस्कव्हरी ऑफ क्रिकेट' या पुस्तकात येण्याची शक्‍यता होती. कदाचित हेच पुस्तक त्यांच्या मृत्यूस कारणीभूत ठरले असावे. या पुस्तकाच्या माध्यमातून वूल्मर काही "बडे मासे' जाहीर करणार नाहीत ना, या भीतीने ग्रासलेल्या "फिक्‍सिंग माफियां'नीच त्यांचा योजनाबद्ध पद्धतीने काटा काढला असण्याची शक्‍यता वर्तविली जात आहे.
१८ मार्चच्या घटनेपूर्वी वूल्मर यांना धमक्‍यांचे दूरध्वनी आल्याच्या वृत्ताला जमैका पोलिसांनीच दुजोरा दिला असून, जमैकात आलेल्या एका पाकिस्तानी बुकीला ताब्यात घेऊन त्याची चौकशीही सुरू केली आहे.
... क्रिकेटमध्ये येत असलेला पैशांचा प्रचंड ओघ पाहता, सट्टेबाज या टोकाला जाणे शक्‍य आहे. एक तर प्रचंड पैसा अडकला किंवा हरला जाण्याची भीती प्रत्येक सट्टेबाजाला असतेच. त्यातच ज्या संघावर कमी बोली आहे तोच संघ हरला, तर सट्टेबाजाला कोट्यवधी रुपयांचा फटका बसू शकतो.
...हे सगळे लक्षात घेता, बॉलिवूडला जसे गुन्हेगारी टोळ्यांनी घेरले आहे; तसेच आता क्रिकेटला सट्टेबाजांनी घेरल्याचेही स्पष्ट झाले आहे.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What A Business Model!

A few years ago, when I was staying in Mumbai, I came across this fantastic information about how ingenuity of people can decieve the laws and rules. This was about the Mumbai local train transport system. Mumbai suburban railway system daily carries more than 6 million commuters on 3 corridors - central, western & harbour. 6 million commuters on these trains means that the task for the authorities is extremely difficult. Ensuring that all these commuters pay for the tickets is next to impossible for the railway authorities. The system to discourage ticketless travel has to rely on random ticket checking and the chances are that you will escape getting caught more often than not, while travelling without a ticket. However, if more and more people think that ticketless travel is harmless, the chances of them getting caught in the random check will obviously increase. This keeps the number of ticketless travellers in check.
However, when there is DRM, there is piracy. Because supply reaches to demand (and not vice-versa). This happened in this case also.
Some very intelligent traveller (and in Mumbai everybody is a local train traveller), came up with this brilliant idea. What he did defied this model of random checks. It works like this - if you are a daily traveller, then become a member of this organisation of local train travellers (or was that ticketless local train travellers?) by paying a sum of around Rs. 500 or so. By becoming a member, you receive a guaranteed ticketless travel. What you will have to do is just pay whatever fine authorites charge - IF YOU GET CAUGHT WHILE TRAVELLING WITHOUT A TICKET. Once you pay the fine, go to the organisation's office(?) and show the receipt. You will get 100% refund.
Now, what can be the chances that a passenger who travels for 365 days getting caught in a random check, if he is among 6 million or so fellow passengers?

Update: A few years ago, the fine for travel without ticket was just Rs. 50 [about a US Dollar], plus the charge of ticket, which is minimum - about 0.2 $ for almost 30 km of travel. Around 2002, the fine was increased fivefold, to Rs. 250.This is a considerable increase, for the passengers who are habituated to a Rs. 50 fine. However, what minimizes the disincentive of the fine is the system of random checks. For the passengers who are travelling daily, in these trains, for years, it is extremely difficult for ticket checkers to catch them unaware. One of these daily travelers told me that the passengers even know when the TC’s [that’s what the ticket checkers are called] would be coming. The dates are around middle of the month – from 14 to 17, and at the end of month- around 26 to 30/31. Further, the coaches being extremely crowded, the ticketless travelers can easily escape, when they come to know that the TC’s are there. On these occasions the passengers even enter into rather rare camaraderie against the system and help fellow passengers.
This all actually means that a passenger would say that he even doesn’t need the Rs. 500 membership of the so called ‘ticketless travelers’ association’, because he just would never be caught even in random checks. This can be the reason, why this association, fortunately, never achieved its true menacing potential.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Virendra Sehwag - 114 (87 balls, 17 fours, 3 sixes)


Do the '9%' win?


Post you comments here, or mail them to sakaalpapers@gmail.com. Write 'blog' as the subject line in your comment mail.

Now...It Is The Time For Team India!


Highest world cup total by a team - 413 runs;
Highest number of sixers by a team in a world cup match - 18
Widest margin of win in not only World Cup but in any One Day International - by 257 runs
AND...
Virendersahib Sehwag scores his first 100, after 2005 (!) - that too in 87 balls (!)

Can this Indian team thrash Australia & South Africa?
Is India destined to win the world cup?

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Sify CTO Talks About Wi-Max

In a podcast interview, Indian ISP major, Sify's Chief Technology Officer Bhaskar Sayyaparaju talks to Kiruba Shankar of Kiruba.com about Wi-Max technology and the promises the technology holds for future.

This is a really good podcast. Listen to it here.

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Unfortunately, I could not embedd the podcast video here...Hmmm. I will try and see if I can.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sehwag Throws The Wicket Again!

The Nawab Of Najafgarh, Veerendra Sahib Sehwag was LBW after scoring 0002 runs (!) against Bangladesh (which is again a surprise, because like anybody else, we were expecting him to hit atleast a 50 against Bangladesh).
Listen to what Sunandan Lele says about it from West Indies, here.

Now the BCCI needs to answer this - Why Sehwag is in the world cup squad in first place? He has not shown any flicker for a long rememberable past. So..why is he in West Indies and not in Najafgarh?

Should he be given a ticket back to home?