Sunday, July 07, 2013

Livelylawry alive elsewhere

Hi Folks,
This is a message for those of you who knocked at my door and wondered where have I wandered away leaving aside three blogs! Since 2009, I have been a regular writer for Caleidoscope, an online cultural magazine. So please check my latest blogs there -

These days, i am rooftop organic farmer, eager eco enthusiast, sustainable economist wandering on a middle path to find world peace amidst global chaos!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Notable Nuggets

Identity Crisis
Indians normally bother a great deal about our identity, Kannadiga Lingayat, Tamil Iyer, Kashmiri Pundit, etc. But we aren't worried about our official identity crises. Many of us don't preserve our SSLC marks card, a proper birth certificate; ration card, or for that matter don't even own a voter's ID.
Over the years the value of each of these identity proofs has changed. To begin with there was only one Ration Card. Green, pink, yellow, all hues indicating levels of economic status and also privileges at the fair price shop. Then came the voter's identity card also called Seshan Card; with too many blunders in it, it never became the universal identity it was supposed to be. In the last elections, many voters with ID cards were denied their rights since the voter's list didn't mention their names! So one good photo ID proof you can show today is your Driver's License. But the fun is, when you break a traffic rule, the police can't come over to your house to pin you down; many times the address given will be outdated with most of us still living in rented houses!
A passport is the ultimate ID proof one can have; but it is too valuable to be carried around. I feel the Permanent Account Number Card or the PAN card issued by the IT dept. fits the bill. For people who do not come in the tax bracket, the National Social Security Number being issued by the PF dept. could be a better alternative. But when will that happen... Hopefully within our presidents 2020 vision period.

Google Vs the Library
Let's ask ourselves a simple query... When was the last time we went to a public library...? There was a time when private circulating libraries were making flourishing business. Remember Eloor Lending Library... don't worry, it's still very much alive! With the advent of information revolution, there is a flood of information available at a click of a mouse.
That apart, all possible info is available on the net... Can we search anything on Google... probably not. If you want the details of Hitler's conquest on Russia during World War II, you get a complete picture. But if you want to search for info related to Indian like Mangal Pandey, you will only find film reviews. The few websites that have the info on 1857 uprising are very sketchy. On the other hand, this vast ocean of data is deprived to thousands of students studying in our universities and colleges.
Most of our libraries don't have computers with net connectivity, so a student would have to manage with archived journals and books. Fortunately things are changing; University Grants Commission is modernizing the university campuses with campus wide networks and setting up its own nationwide communication network named UGC-INFONET. City based knowledge management firm Informatics India and IIIT-B are hosting their annual global event in India called Infovision-2005. Let's hope this event facilitates debate on challenges before the information society and develop a unified vision.

Everybody loves a vibrant open forum where they can exchange views or seek help. One such happening online network is Bangalore Business Network on Recently I happened to see an interesting job classified posted on it.
"A fast growing event management firm needs a graphic designer with experience in merchandising and events, skills in Flash, 3D Studio Max, know-how on music and fashion, good team player with communication skills, creative solutions within short deadlines..."
Wow! that's some job profile they are looking for! I am wondering isn't that too much to ask for in one person... honestly they are looking for quite a rare gem and that profile would cost them a bomb! Moreover there's no guarantee that they will stay with you for long. Better search for individual specialist who would do the same work for half the price.
But this is a syndrome that most of the SMEs suffer from. They want a well trained, flexible, experienced industry ready professional who would also come cheap! It is safer to get raw freshers, train them and grow them for bigger roles, than get quick fix professionals who would be a misfit.

ESP for business
Recently I was invited by Ms. Lalitha Ravi to a lecture on life skills. These days there are too many corporate soft skills trainers in the market, so I was reluctant. But when I got a glimpse of the topic, it picked my curiosity. It was not just a counselling therapy, but it also included Aura Reading and ESP sessions!
R. Ravi, President of Epiance Inc., explained how this new therapy helped him in making key decisions in strategic issues. He was undergoing serious crisis during the inception of his company and was approached by an ESP expert Rashmi Aiyappa of Aashwasan. She studied his aural energy and suggested a few changes in the way he handled issues.
Rashmi believes that ESP can bring insights into events that can happen in future from our own consciousness. It helps in discovering one's true potential and enables our intuitive mind to make the right decision. This brings us back to the ancient thinking that human instinct has to be allowed to take irrational decisions beyond logical thinking. So in future if we are well aware of our ESP, we can perceive if we are going ahead with the deal, right from the first meeting!
These snippets were published in Businessgyan, Sep 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

The torture after the death

While it has been a prosperous and bright Diwali for most of us, some of us were struck by a tragedy. A close friend of mine, Yeshwanth C B, who is a renowned advertising photographer in New Delhi was killed instantaneously when a bomb went off in the busy Sarojini Market on last Saturday.

While this may seem like another common tragic story which keep reoccurring in our country, there is a twist. The tragedy unfolded much later for us who went to collect the body from the hospital. To begin with, there was no information of how many bodies were there in the mortuaries of the three hospitals, or where the injured and the dead were taken to.

Sunday Oct 30, 9am. Thankfully some friends had gone around all the hospitals to check each patient to see whether it was our Yeshwanth. Finally they managed to locate the body in the mortuary, just by the ring he was wearing. The body was charred beyond recognition and the ring was the only clue.

Oct 30, 7pm. We reached Delhi and rushed to Sarojini Nagar police station. Contrary to the warnings given by our Delhi friends, the Delhi Police were very cordial and patient with our case, assuring us that by Monday, all formalities would be completed and the body would be handed over by evening. Quite surprised by this courteous behaviour, we didn’t even bother to talk to the media who wanted to know more about our case.

Monday Oct 31, 9am. The police inspector and the area ACP were all quite amiable today too while finalizing the body identification process. Our friends had carried a recent photo of Yeshwanth with that particular ring. By afternoon the process was over and the body was about to be given for post-mortem. But now the police were not showing the same eagerness to give it. We were guessing that they might need some grease on their hands to speed up the process. They were pushing the file to ACP’s office and the police station so that we realize the need to bribe by ourselves.

Oct 31, 3pm. By afternoon, it dawned to us that all the duty doctors have gone home and the post-mortem was not possible today. The next day being a holiday, we now realized the game ploy. Immediately we alerted all the media-persons by phone that this kind of a harassment is happening. Just after ETV did a detailed story on how 2-3 families are being harassed, all TV channels focused the spotlight on us. Even the correspondents of regional print media, reported about the story.

Tuesday Nov 1, 9am. Now the police had a nice twist to the story. There is another claimant for the same body, so a DNA test is inevitable. DNA results would take at least 10 days which fuelled our worries. Just when we lost hope, some media people came forward to help us with connections with the higher-ups. In a last-ditch effort, Yeshwanth’s relatives knocked at Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s doors. The Home minister’s office directed the police to look into the matter and hand over the body to them if the second claimant was proved wrong.

Nov 1, 2pm. So the police made a drama of extracting blood from Yeshwanth’s brother and send it to the forensic lab for testing. Till that time, there was no trace of the second claimant for the body. Some media guys educated us that this is usual gameplan of the police to either extract huge amount from the relatives or prop up a false claimant to share the booty when the compensation is announced. Finally the body was sent for post-mortem that evening.

Wednesday Nov 2, 9am. After the post-mortem comes another issue. The ACP says there is a rule that the body of a terrorist act victim shouldn’t be taken out of station, since there might be a need to exhume the body for future investigations. Again started another round of arguments. Finally they agreed to give the body for chemical embalming process, which is done only in AIIMS.

Nov 2, 7pm. Finally when we arrived at the Delhi airport to carry the body back to Bangalore, the airways official had a small objection. The post-mortem report didn’t indicate anywhere that the body was of a bomb-blast victim. Some of us were at our wits end to find the reason why he needs to know what was the cause of death. He spelt it out clearly, that IATA norms say that any contagious disease victim like Yellow fever or Cholera cannot be transported by a plane.

Thursday Nov 3, 1am. Finally the body reached Bangalore and it was taken to Yeshwanth's hometown. It was heart rending to see the parents crying over the dead body of their 26 year old young boy. After this incident, I was wondering who is the terrorist here… the person who planted an RDX bomb in a market killing people instantaneously or the people in uniform sitting behind desks who slowly torture people to death…
It’s time that we gave a serious thought about it, before another bomb goes off and another drama unfolds…

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Processing a Paradigm Shift

How would we measure level of computer performance… processor clock speed, of course. Though so many elements go into a standard desktop PC, masses know only the processor, Intel Pentium 4, Celeron 1.4GHz, AMD Athlon 64 bit, etc. But the truth is that megahertz or gigahertz, speed doesn’t matter for CPU performance. Intel was quite reluctant in accepting this fact and AMD foolishly went on fighting its bigger rival on this point.

Despite extensive coverage by the tech media that showed better benchmark performance by slower-speed AMD Athlon 64 processors, AMD itself didn’t realize this golden opportunity to tell a different story to the consumers. Meanwhile if processor speed no longer defines the processor technology, then what does? Intel's own corporate culture probably needs a major adjustment in perspective and its marketing department has a great challenge in doing this paradigm shift!

Multi-core processing is being upheld as the innovative ideal, and the new race, as defined by Intel, is to go multi-core everywhere as quickly as possible. By now, most of us probably would be aware that this topic dominated much of the discussion at the Intel Developer Forum held in city recently.

The technological challenge in achieving higher processor speed, is the heat generated by Intel’s 3 GHz clock Prescott-core P4s. There was a major concern in the industry circles due to the high cost in cooling, electricity consumption and noise. The next generation Xeon multiprocessor from Intel coming out in 2007, is code-named Whitefield, which takes advantage of smaller transistors to advance performance and decrease power consumption. Lets hope this innovation coming out of Bangalore can power the future generation PCs with much less power!

A Chip out of India

Suddenly a biz journalist stumbles on something and he thinks it's the scoop of the year! Heard about this story a while ago during a quiz of our beloved quizzard Avinash Mudaliar. But is this stale news... Please do comment.
A popular statement for industry cynics is, “Whatever maybe the achievements of the Indian IT industry in terms of earnings, there is not much to show for product innovation.” Though there are many good products crying for acclaim, our critics are not much bothered.

In the meanwhile there is a buzz happening in the chip industry that something big is coming out of Bangalore. The next generation Xeon multiprocessor from Intel coming out in 2006, is code-named Whitefield. That’s because it will be the first ever chip built 100% designed in India with its name coming from the IT township on the edge of the city.

Intel recently had put in $41million to build a new processor design center and this project is happening in top secrecy. Intel's secrecy behind Whitefield is not surprising given that the company had been seemingly lag rivals with the design of Sun's Niagara chip getting ready in 2006, so are AMD’s dual-core processors and IBM's Power.

Intel's first 65-nanometer Xeon MP processor, Whitefield, is being built for server platforms, takes advantage of smaller transistors to advance performance and decrease power consumption. Whitefield is a low-power multi-core Xeon processor that places four mobile Banias cores around a shared Level 2 cache. Media reports say that the Intel India's President Ketan Sampat expected a new Xeon to be out by end of 2006 or early 2007.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bangalore has an answer to Bacteria!

While there are well documented stories about IT and Biotech innovations happening in Bangalore, here is one not so well known discovery. GangaGen Biotechnologies recently received two US patents for its Bacteriophage technologies. This city based biotech company focused on the development of bacteriophage-based products for prevention and treatment of bacterial infections. Bacteriophage is a virus which was first found in the waters of river Ganga, has the ability of infecting bacteria and killing them.

One might remember an old belief that river Ganga is self-cleansing and also cleans our sins. There is a scientific fact to back it up; in 1896 a British scientist M.E. Hankin noted that the river water contains bacteriophages which kill cholera bacteria. Inspired by this fact, Dr.J.Ramachandran of GangaGen took up research on bacteriophages in 2001, but faced two major issues.

The bacteriophage enters and reproduces rapidly inside the bacteria and comes out in large numbers, scattering bacterial toxins inside the human body. GangaGen scientists knocked out the phage gene that codes for the Lysin enzyme responsible for breaking down the bacterial wall and produced a Lysin-deficient bacteriophage that kills the bacterial host, but remains inside the dead bacterium.

Dr Ramachandran has already demonstrated the efficacy of its first commercial product to control E.Coli bacteria in cattle which is awaiting regulatory approval. He said phage therapies would have immense revenue potential since they are the only firm working on non-antibiotic drugs. Over the years, bacteria have developed enormous resistance to known antibiotic drugs. In the next five years, the company pegged its revenue from human food safety applications at $50 million and animal therapies at $10 million. GangaGen is right now working with Lallemand, a major animal feed distributor in Europe, to develop bacteriophage products to control Salmonella infections in poultry and pigs.

Where is the boom?

Yet another Bangalore Bio expo happened in city and all the concerned dignitaries painted rosy pictures about the growth prospects in the biotech sector. The Queen bee of biotech, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD of Biocon expected the revenues of this sector to go up from the current $1 billion to $5 billion by 2010. Another 46 new firms have come into the city taking the total number of companies to 177 in the state. The CM Dharam Singh said that the work on Bangalore Helix Biotech Park will soon commence and the central government has already sanctioned Rs.14.45 crore for the project.

This was enough for our beloved scribes to gung-ho about the sector announcing new firms are coming and more jobs are being created. But if you look at the sector which takes only post-graduates and PhDs as researchers, till now we find only 20,000 people being employed, while the freshers are roaming around in the expo trying to push their resumes.

If we look at statistics, a CII-Rabobank India Joint Report of 2003 stated that the market for biotechnology products in India is estimated to be about $150 million (Rs 750 crore) in 2002 and it is estimated to grow 10-fold to $1.5 billion (Rs 7,500 crore) and to $4.5 billion by 2010. this is quite contrary to what our Queen bee said which translates to Rs 4,500 crore at present! One look at the annual report of Biocon which dominates the market gives you the clear picture. Biocon Group’s FY 2005 revenue crosses Rs.700 crores, so can anyone enlighten us where is the rest Rs.3,800 crore coming from…

Monday, September 12, 2005

The big city fight is back

Quiz question: What is the best way to get the Bangalore International Airport up and running? Answer: Encourage a Bangalorean to help Hyderabad to go ahead on its public-private-partnership airport project so that we shall burn in envy! The city based GMR Group and Malayasian Airport Holding consortia will build a Rs 1,400 crore Greenfield airport at Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Bangaloreans who worry about their city going down the drain, atleast can have solace that our arch-rival city is back in the reckoning and might give us a stiff competition. Heard that GMR group, inspired by the Dubai airport model, is pushing to make Hyderabad airport into a both cargo distribution and airline hub, since the city is equidistant from the three metros. Moreover it is focussing on getting revenues from non-traditional sources which will reduce the dependence on aeronautical revenues. (hey, do you remember the word 'equidistant' being used regularly by AP's erstwhile CM Naidu!)

It will have a huge ‘Airport Village’ with a warehouse for cargo storage, retail space for shops restaurants, business centres a mini golf course and a five star hotel. Now this surely takes away the cake from us, but heard that many Bangaloreans are happy that the city can hold on its growth and leave some breathing space!

Is the talent moving away?
While we can take the blame for the sad state of our city's infrastructure, we are surely not ready to take accusation that the talent is moving away from the city. Recently MaFoi Consultants presented their Employment Survey which is a quarterly study on Indian employment trends conducted since November 2004. But the present Quarterly forecast for Apr-June 2005 has brought out some strange facts.

The Employment Index measuring the pace of recruitment in the present quarter showed that Karnataka was in the 7th spot with an index of 1.17 while Tamilnadu was at the top with 3.16 index. The surprising fact was that figure was way below national average, making us wonder whether our state has completely slowed down in its economic progress after the end of Simply Marvellous Krishna’s regime!

Another shock was Bangalore was at a lowly 7th spot with 1.28 index while Chennai topped with 3.38. Even smaller cities like Ahmedabad and Pune had better figures. MaFoi justified it by saying that the IT/BPO sectors had a smaller portion in the entire survey, while telecom, retail, hospitality, garments, pharma sectors brought in the major contribution. But Bangalore is leading in hospitality and garments sectors with companies recently moving in here. Now what should we conclude from these facts… Is Bangalore hiring less people right now or the companies are moving away from our state in the coming quarter due to our coalition government…

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bollywood Logic

Recently the CII hosted the Young Indians Summit, on the theme 'Transforming India: Making it Happen'. The two day session was filled with presentations by eminent speakers from all spheres of life. Rahul Bose, the leading actor was invited to speak on Leadership. Like a typical celebrity, he rushed in late just before the session drew to a close. He apologised profusely and rushed to the podium since it was his turn to speak.

“I really don’t know what my fellow panellists have spoken about leadership till now, so you can forgive me if I am repetitive. But since I have been many such seminars, I do know what they would have spoken about. Clarity of vision, mission, passion, focus on your goal, interpersonal skills, team-building, etc. However I would say, it all boils down to one word, respect. You need to stand for something and people will respect you for that. If you have a great self-respect, the world will notice you and respect you.” Wow! Bollywood fiction taught a lesson to business logic!

Educated Corrupt
In an another session on Educating India's Future', Dr.Sandeep Pandey, founder of Asha Foundation was speaking about ill-effects of our present education system.

He said, "Our education system doesn’t ensure a professional career for the youth, 90% of the workforce in the unorganised sector didn’t bother to study. The notion of corruption is the product of the educated class. We all know that an uneducated person trusts people more and the educated person distrusts people." Now, Dr. Pandey, you are beating Laloo in the game of uttering naive statements!

Remote Innovation
Yet another thought provoking nugget from the Young Indians Summit. While speaking on the topic, 'Innovation - contributing for a better life', eminent IT guru, Dr.S.Sadagopan said, "Innovation need not come from moony ideas, an inspiration to change little things can bring in phenomenal change. For instance, people say that for IT industry, proper infrastructure and great talent has to be made available, but I have seen innovation happen with much support in remote corners of Karnataka. There is this Robosoft Technologies located in Udupi which is now become one of the finest software developers for Mac systems." Now, Bangaloreans, stop cribbing and start working!

Life’s Bumpy Ride
Prof. Anil Gupta of IIM-A has been searching throughout India for innovations at the grassroots level. He presented some of his findings in the session on Innovation at the Young Indians Summit.

“While we educated professionals have been taught how to think logically, we tend to lose our ability to think out of the box. But illiterate villagers keep their minds open allowing creative thoughts to flow in. one such person is Kanak Das in Assam, who always wondered how to make his cycle run faster on bumpy rough roads. He has developed a spring mechanism for reducing the discomforting effect of bumps/potholes to bicycle riders by using the force generated on a bumpy road for transmission purposes.” So if life is a bumpy ride, you need to spring back!