Category Archives: General

My Confusion about Internet.Org

There has been a lot of noise on the internet about Net Neutrality in India. Specially after Honourable Prime Minister visited the Facebook offices and the viral tricolour profile picture and the fiasco post that. I have been reading, following the discussion about the net neutrality starting from the Airtel, TRAI circular, Internet.org, AIB video and thousand other shared Facebook Posts, tweets, and blogs.

I have done all, shared those videos, posts, wrote emails to TRAI etc all in the name of net neutrality. I understand the concept and appreciate it. However, I have lately taken to wonder if my stand and belief is justified. A lot of it is based on Internet.org, the concept being propagated by Facebook where the below poverty line folks get access to a specific set of sites for no charge.

I understand this at some level violates the principles of net neutrality and might tilt a level playing field. To give you a perspective, I border on the obsession of being connected. I have two cellular connections with Internet connection, one data card, one fibre optic broadband and a fail safe broadband in case the fibre optic isn’t working. I spend a fair amount every month to get this kind of connectivity while fending for my obsession. I wonder what happens to people who don’t have money to spend on buying connectivity? Mark Zuckerberg wrote about those children in Chandauli village who saw connectivity for the first time, what about them? Don’t they have a right to experience Internet or a part of it?

While the middle class, upper middle class and the rich are busy sharing corny, degraded humour on whatsapp 24*7, what about the poorest of the poor, Don’t they deserve even to know the weather forecast for next week? They have to make do with the inaccurate one in the newspaper at the local tea stall? They have to wait for their exam results or latest news to be published in news paper or put on the government school notice boards. Why the people which belong to the lower strata of the society be deprived of the essential connectivity? Why they can’t search for some government or medical procedure?

I see a lot of people complaining about the net neutrality aspect of internet.org. I agree with their view point that the internet should be a level playing field. I totally agree with those funny AIB videos which talk about the importance of net neutrality. But what confuses me the most is when you go out and decide on behalf of those poorest of the poor, when you go all out on decide on behalf of those kids in Chandauli village that he should not get access to the restricted access to some 35 sites which are a part of internet.org, what do you offer him in return? Do you have a plan which will make a neutral internet available to those kids and others in need and lack of money? Are these people going to launch a startup to provide free access to internet, you don’t need to be restricted to that 35 sites, here is a completely neutral internet free of charge for you. If we can’t provide that to a kid in Chandauli with a better alternative, then what right do we have to deny him basic connectivity as restrictive as it may be.

As a matter of fact a lot of technological changes have happened in a similar fashion, where disrupters came and disrupted the industry bringing change in the entire dynamics of the industries. There are umpteen examples of this industry disruptions, the time when SMSes killed Pagers, then SMSes were killed by Whatsapp. Then there were times when Reliance launched mobile calls at a nominal rates of few paise per minute, when Google & Apple started giving weather update on your phone killing the Airtel Special service which provided weather forecast @3Rs/SMS.

Like any other industry there is a win-win fortune which lies at the bottom of the pyramid, and if internet.org is going to provide some kind of free service by cross subsidising the connectivity costs from advertisement revenues we should probably accept the challenge and come with a low cost connectivity solution with less restrictive internet. Calling foul on Zuckerberg doesn’t work in my opinion.

This is what makes me so confused about the internet.org platform. Two conflicting views and I am probably in agreement with both. What do you think

Thanks for Letting Me Win It

I have never been good at sports, and probably my lack of ability to play them well actually drove me away from them. It was only a lot later in life some where in my late twenties I realized there is a lot more to sports than just playing them, being good at them and winning them. Since then I have consciously tried to play some sports, watch some or at least follow the news etc. There are three sports which kind of got me interested Cricket which I like to watch live or on television, Squash which I learnt to play a bit during my days at Infosys and Lawn Tennis which I have only followed but have been greatly influenced by it. So tonight when the Wimbledon final was on, I was following it. The Men’s singles match was a great one between Roger Fedrer and Novak Djokovic. It was a very tough match where it was extremely difficult to choose favorite. Finally Djokovic won the match in a very closely fought contest. Surprisingly, it was nowhere within the play that was my favorite moment of the game. It was during the victory speech by Djokovic which brought a lump in my throat. He said for Roger Fedrer “He’s a great role model and a great champion & I thank him for letting me win today.” while Fedrer was smiling at his comment no where reminiscent of the fact that they have fought every tooth and nail for the world’s most prestigious trophy in lawn tennis. You can see the entire video below.

His words again reminded me that sports are not only about winning, they are about being respectful to your opponent against whom you scored your victory. They are about being humble about your achievements. The power of hard work determination to achieve your goals. And it was not only Djokovic today who won my heart, it was also Fedrer when he claimed his runners up trophy he said “Definitely I felt the love out here again, I’ve enjoyed myself a lot. See you next year”. The man is simply an epitome of enjoying the experience of playing, enjoying the journey more than the result. The man is a promise of “I will work hard and try to win it next year” and that is what makes him such a legend. My heart has always rooted for Roger Fedrer, and it felt bad that he lost, but the attitude and humility of both the players reminded me that at the end of the day the game of tennis is a winner and the whole humanity is a winner.

A sincere thank you Djoker & Fedex for giving me a lesson in life through tennis.

 

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Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Ab Hamare Dil Mein Hai

Today is the day three brave martyr’s day Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged for their participation in revolutionary activities for the Indian Freedom from the hands of British. Today is the day to be thankful and pay respects and tributes to these great martyr’s, who laid their lives to ensure our generation breathes in an era of independence. It is also our duty to protect and respect the freedom and country for which so many lives have been laid. There can be and are books written on the contribution of these brave men in the struggle of Indian independence, and I can go on and on, on this topic.

However, I leave you with a poem from one of the contemporaries of these brave revolutionaries, Ram Prasad Bismil who was not only a revolutionary freedom fighter, but also a poet of great stature. A poem which became the theme and binding thread for all revolutionaries of that time.

Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna

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Arvind Kejriwal: Krantikari to Bahut Krantikari

I have written about the Aam Aadmi Party and my views on it here. However the journey of it’s founder and chief “Mein Aam Aadmi Hoon, Meri Koi Aukaat Nahi Hai” and “Bahut Hi Krantikari” fame Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has been very interesting. I started knowing about him from the time he became a part of Aana Hazare’s India Against Corruption Movement. So here his a graph of how my opinion of him varied through the time.

Real Estate: The Biggest Ponzi Scheme Ever

Movies is one of the most influential art form, they have the power to mesmerize you, influence you and stay within you unlike any other art form present. There are many movies which have moved me, made me think and introspect. One of the dialogues which manages to send the shivers down my spine is one from the fight club. Sometimes Most of the times the way we conduct ourselves, I tend to feel the words of Tyler Durden are an epitome of truth.

An entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

One of the things which make me believe in these words is the current real estate market in India. Irrespective of the economic scenario, macroeconomic reality, this particular market is perennially headed north. Looks like we haven’t learnt from the lessons of 2008 in the US, and all of us are guilty of feeding to the whims of this Ponzi scheme. Imagine a piece of land or a house which is sold at Rs. X. Out of which 0.85X is financed by the banks and 0.15X is paid by the individual buying the house. Now in a matter of a year with almost no economic value add the price of the same house becomes Rs. 2X. Again the individual buying it pays 0.3X and the bank finances 1.7X of the house. This will continue till and the individuals will keep making money as long as there is somebody else to buy the house at inflated house, which is why the commonly preached parables like “Real Estate never goes down”. But in reality the chain stops when one is unable to find a buyer to buy out at a significantly higher price. When that happens you are either left with an old property & a highly leveraged mortgage/bank loan. Combine that with a difficult economic situation which hits the markets where real jobs are created and actual value add are done, you got yourself 2008 global meltdown.

The fact is government doesn’t want to create a regulator and instruments because a lot of people in the government are the creators or nodal points in this Ponzi scheme. The politicians and bureaucrats who have the information on where the next extension of the metro rail would land, where the next development & infrastructure zone will be created all start these nodes of this Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme, where a common middle income man spends his life savings, provident fund and at times hard earned money at Onsite too, ends up being the loser.

So in the end, I don’t say don’t risk yourself in this Ponzi scheme but make sure you aren’t in a situation where you actually become the last node.

 

 

My Take on Aam Aadmi Party

A lot of things are happening in our country and I believe that India is going through one of the most interesting times as far as politics is concerned. Yesterday the Aam Admi Party won the vote of confidence. I think this is the first time after the JP movement a political party and an individual are receiving such wide spread political acceptance and support across India.

This is one of the best times to jump into the political arena in Indian landscape. After 10 years of corruption ridden rule filled with populist policy with disastrous economics was akin to the extreme dark ages in the Indian rule. At this point of time anybody who provides a believable story board of a corruption free and sensible economic policies will be lapped up in both arms by the frustrated, tired and naïve voter of the country. Two politicians who have managed to captivate these sentiments in the Indian public using rallies, mass media and the new found social media are Mr. Narendra Modi of BJP and Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Admi Party.

Now I do not subscribe to the views of any of the political parties but the politics being played by both Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal interests me a lot. I have nothing against Arvind Kejriwal, on the contrary I really appreciate the way he has matured and arrived at the landscape of Indian polity as a matter of fact I would consider joining AAP but the skeptic in me wants to know the answer to following questions-

1-      The economics about Subsidies- With the subsidies around water and power in Delhi, what is the take on subsidies. How do they intend to finance these freebies AAP is doling out? Is this going to lead to higher direct/indirect taxation?

2-      The Take on Rural Upliftment- What is AAP’s take on the development on Rural areas and upliftment of agriculture.

3-      Take of AAP on terror and the war on terror-  With Arvind Kejriwal’s comment on the Yasin Bhatkal and Batla house issue, I find it really disturbing that AAP’s view is soft on terror. If we really look on of the most serious external threat India faces is terrorism and AAP has displayed a very antagonistic view on the war of terror.

4-      Hypocritical claims on some of the statements made- There have been some instances where they have made claims (like not accepting an official residence) and then went back and forth on it. There have been instances where they have went dilly dallied on the charges of corruption by the previous government. I feel that they should really think through before making large claims and public announcement.

5-      Black Money/Foreign Policy- While AAP has a very clear and distinctive stand on corruption, they don’t have a stand on foreign policy and if they have a plan to declare and attempt return of the black money stashed in Tax Havens.

While the above questions I feel the Aam Aadmi Party needs to answer and bring forward to people in general. While there are things which strongly makes me believe in the Aam Aadmi Party, in my heart I wish this kind of politics becomes extremely successful. These are the few things which I really appreciate with AAP-

1-      The transparency in Political Funding- The most prominent thing which Aam Aadmi Party has brought into the politics is the transparent political funding. They have time and again proved that they have been excruciatingly transparent as far as their political donations and funding are concerned. This kind of transparency is unparalleled in the Indian politics. Kudos to them for establishing the gold standard in transparency in political funding.

2-      War Against Corruption- One of the greatest thing about AAP is they don’t come with the baggage of history and since their inception their stand against corruption is exceptionally clear and transparent. With most of the political parties having history with corruption, AAP provides a utopian vision of corruption free India.

3-      The Common Man- AAP has provided a ray of hope to the middle class Indian common man, which was ignored, exploited and suppressed because he didn’t have any option. They proved that a group of people with honest intentions and very little money have a chance in the democratic system in India. The AAP has given the hope that the common man still has a chance in the Indian Democracy.

I hope AAP provides the required chaos in the Indian Democracy. I wish someday I am convinced enough to join these people and become the change I want to be for the nation.

Thanksgiving, I am Thankful for II

Today is Thanksgiving, and I have earlier blogged about how I find the festival interesting and relevant. No and it has nothing to do with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on gadgets and friends and relatives coming back from US in December holidays.

The associated tradition with the festival where you have turkey for the meal, I won’t be able to do that due to my vegetarian self. Probably to compensate for the turkey bit I will have some Turkish coffee, which I am sure will more than make up for it. Coming back to being thankful, here is the list for which I have been thankful for a year-

1- Some of the recent changes at the work place and my profile have made it a lot more enjoyable and fun for me. I am thankful for the place I am at my work today which makes me want to go to the office every morning weekday. I hope this positivity continues for the years to come. I am thankful for these changes which made me a better professional.

2- I am thankful for this blog and the friends I have made through the blog, even after a huge gap and complacence on my part there were comments, emails from people on posting of my blog wishing me and my writing well. It feels so blessed to have interacted with such a caring and positive bunch of people in this vast world of internet. If you are reading this, I am thankful for the time and faith you have put in me.

3- I am thankful for the greatest people who thought I was good enough to be friends with them. People who have stood by me through thick and thin, who have supported me, enjoyed with me and are an inseparable part of my life. It is rare to be blessed with such love from people and I am extremely grateful for that.

4- I am thankful for the greatest family in the world. The ‘bestest’ of parents who didn’t disown the son who could put biggest sitcom bloopers to shame. A loving wife who despite the 4 years have managed to live by my side without killing me. An extended family which I can blindly depend upon to take care of things lest something happens to me. I am thankful to be share my life with the most wonderful people.

5- I am thankful for the life I am living, a comfortable and cozy life without having to worry about a lot of basic needs and some luxuries which at most time I take for granted. There is quote by E.E. Cummuings, “The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else.”; I am thankful for a life where I have the liberty to be myself.

Image Source: Google Images

And with this I will be signing off wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. Do share how was Thanksgiving for you?

Alarming Optimists

“The setting of the clock every night is one of the most optimistic acts possible by a person.” I don’t remember where I read this quote and when. The thought behind the quote somehow refuses to leave me and every night as I set my alarm for the next morning I smile thinking about it. Not because how I will switch off the alarm and slide into slumber again but for the fact that how granted at times we take our lives. Setting up alarm for next day when I have no surety that when I will sleep tonight I would wake up next morning but I still set up the alarm for the next morning. Leave alarms I also set up reminders for credit cards, electricity, and telephone bill payments each month.

It is amusing that I have taken the life I am living everyday for granted. Some days like today when I think about more important yet ignored things in life. I feel thankful for the life I am living, a wife who beats the crap out of loves me, parents who are there to bless & guide me, friends and family to enjoy life with them and work which pays me barely enough to show up in office on Monday to give me a sense of purpose in life. I am grateful for things I have to look forward to tomorrow morning and in the week, months and years to come.

I am glad that I need to put up an alarm early in morning when I hate to wake up, but for now I am grateful that I have to put that alarm and it does disturbs my sleep. It feels good to be an optimist, specially in the recent times where there have been a lot of negativity around. And for all those like me who are bothered by all the negative news and energy around in the news papers these days a though to ponder.

“Who is the person who should be most worried about the drastic fall in the value or Rupee against the US Dollar?

Manmohan Singh? No

P. Chidambram? No

Sonia Gandhi? No

It would be Barrack Obama as IT outsourcing to India is effin’ whole lot cheaper now. “

Why Are We Such A**holes?

I sometimes wonder that what is it about us that make us Indians a pathetic bunch of people we are. Is it in our genetics or in the method we grow up or is it a part of our culture? I know a lot of people will disagree with me but if you are going to put a nasty comment before reading the entire post then I am sure you belong right there in the title, you know between those stars and the hole.

Coming back to the point, what is it that Indians in India are stickler for not following the rules at the cost of fellow human beings, citizens, and neighbors? Think about how many times you find that you are in a queue for billing, buying a movie tickets getting in the trains and people will treat it as their right to break the queue. All the more funny is at places you will find that there will be a queue or a file of single person, after 5-10 people it will become two people queue converging to a single file and then 3 people queue and this goes on till at the end of the queue you have a large chaotic crowd.

The situation becomes all the more funny when you are on road stuck in the traffic. Imagine a two lane road, one for incoming and the other for outgoing traffic. Now some block/traffic signal/accident happens and the outgoing lane is stand still for some time. What makes us think that in such a situation the best solution is to take the incoming lane and drive on the wrong side while blocking the incoming traffic too. Why is it people driving expensive cars, speaking impeccable English, well educated and employed in honorable jobs also do that? What makes them think their time is more important than the others? The fact that they are intelligent and responsible for handling businesses of major corporations but they fail to see that their acts on the road are only going to make the situation worse.

What is it that we find an unruly child of someone else a nuisance and when our own child creates a chaos he is small, innocent and naïve to understand and correct his behavior? I was once in a meeting with the India CEO of one of the most prestigious companies globally where he mentioned an incident. In an informal discussion the senior management of the company was complaining to him about how the youngster today are not hardworking and do not put in enough efforts. There was a general perception that the entry level crowd was unruly and over smart in attitude. The CEO then asked “Do you think same way about your children who are of similar ages?” and the answer was no. We have a different yardstick to measure people working for us as compared to people who are close to us?

I wonder what is it about Indians that make us the kind of A**holes we are, when I look at the Indians travelling abroad I feel that it probably is the air, water and climate. You hardly find an Indian on the wrong side of things when they are outside India. I kind of agree with our current Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor when he says “India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.”