Sunday, May 8, 2016

What's App launches Bold, Italics and Strikthrough features

What's App has released its latest feature today. Using this you can have Bold, Italics and Strikethrough in your comments. This is expected to add a new dimension to the way people communicate. Below is how it will work.

Friday, April 29, 2016

India is losing land to China & Pakistan in front our very own eyes!

I do not belong to any political part, cult or organization. Am just a true blue Indian concerned the way India is loosing its land. The worst part is, no one is raising it! The parties are busy discussing Rahul's IQ or Mr Modi's chest size - this is a more pressing matter and a loot that is happening in the front of our very own eyes.

The three maps of India above show the below three stages:
Left Map : The one of the left is the map I was taught when I was in school
Center Map : That is what you find most commonly on internet these days - part of J n K is with Pakistan
Right Map : Now the other half is with China (and Arunachal is disputed)

The first time I came to know about the revised map of India was a few years ago on some random website on the internet. I thought it might have been a mistake but slowly similar maps started popping up everywhere. It was alarming and more alarming was the fact that no one, not a single media house or political party raised it. It is like the elephant in the room, everyone knows about it but no one wants to discuss it.

I admit, that probably that piece of land was India's and we lost it because Pakistan occupied one part and China the other before we could act thanks to the useless bureaucracy that we have. So maybe these maps showing what they do is actually just the reflection of what the ground situation is. 

It may not be in our favour and we are on the losing side, or so it may seem, but there needs to be a discussion that are we to accept the lost portion as lost. Or are we going to fight to get it back - not a war but you can fight at the UN. You can send ships to Vietnam and Japan and try to coax China. You can start disrupting the port at Karachi.

Annexation of land amounts to an act of war - I do not profess a war. But I definitely do profess some action for the country that we are losing to outsiders right in front of our very own eyes. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A rolling stone gathers no moss

Disclaimer : This blog is a random babble and does not have a head or a tail. Its occasions like these I miss the days when my blog was secret. But, I guess there are times when I'd like my blog to be read too. :)

Years ago, when I was in Kolkata I made a decision based on experience. Having lived in multiple cities in a short life span of 23 years I truly understood the proverb, "A rolling stone gathers no moss". It's a profound saying - few understand it, even fewer have experienced it.

I do not profess to be a teacher in the art of living and admit having had an imperfect life till date. Its been a life of majestic highs and disappointing lows. Though I do honestly admit to having had achieved a bunch of true friends from across the world. I can proudly say that as of today am in touch with all except one. I guess the exception of one just proves the point of an imperfect life and the roller coaster it has been. Its my experience that imperfections correct themselves over time - which is a story for a different blog itself.

Anyways, coming back to my initial topic - so years ago I decided to come to Pune. I would have preferred to go back to my small city called Bhavnagar but sadly that has not been possible to achieve, but someday I shall. Over the years in Pune I've made lots of friends, the funny thing about life is if you get stuck with a job, with a routine you stop meeting new people unless newer people meet you.

That's when I figured out the other side of the proverb, "A routined soul gathers no moss either" and so began my next quest to socialize. Its been an eventful journey for a person like me who takes time to trust but slowly and steadily it is happening. Of course a routined life lived efficiently leaves you with a lot of time too which helps in meeting newer people and more friends.

So as I continue on this journey I hope to be able to enhance even more on the proverb by the end of this year, "A routined rolling stone gathers no moss"

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Corporate Life - Changing jobs

Currently I work in the KPO industry - its elongated as the Knowledge Process Outsourcing Industry. I believe this industry the greatest piece of dumb luck India has had after Independence. 

Why So? Without it, India's burgeoning population wouldn't have had jobs or work to do. The amount of fresh grads this industry absorbs and trains is phenomenal. India's schools and colleges are mostly dismal in imparting education required for a guy from rural India to make it or be fit for any type of Corporate careers. These KPO and even BPO firms train such half trained kids and make them eligible for shot at a decent corporate career. The amount of employment and skill up gradation they provide is simply mind boggling. But that is not what this blog is about - its about changing jobs. An aspect of the KPO industry that is painful and very common with most KPO's running at a 35% annual attrition rate - what it basically means is that, 1/3rd of your team will leave within the year!

I have changed a few jobs and will agree that in India, the West and the South offers the best jobs. For technology companies, Hyderabad offers the best companies followed by Bangalore and then Mumbai and the rest. For KPO industry its a bit all over the place but primarily concentrated in certain pockets. What basically it means, that any person who changes a job has a reasonable chance of changing his city as the opportunities are spread around.

That brings me to the crux of my blog today, is changing city a good idea. I used to think if the money was worth it, yes it was! But as you mature, priorities and understanding of the world around you changes. I have started to believe that it may not be the smartest thing after a certain age. A rolling stone gathers no moss they say, it actually is a double edged sword. Imagine moss as intellect, friends, connections and family - if you move about too often you may not gather it.

My advice, finalize on a city in your career as soon as possible and build around it. A few years can be spent roaming about but always have it at the back of your mind. Build your network, your connections in that one city - it will help in very interesting ways. Yes, there may be occasions when you can definitely change and should change your city - but it today's world of flux and continual change, permanency is something that may just be the thing that actually sets you apart. Stick to a city - and as long as it has adequate opportunities and think medium term because in the long term we all are dead anyways. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mumbai 26/11 returns as Paris 14/11 - Similarities between Mumbai and Paris attacks

The resemblance is uncanny - technically the Paris attack are a direct copy paste of the Mumbai attacks. Actually, the terrorist learned from their mistakes in Mumbai. It's ironic none of the international media is able to draw a parallel. They are drawing a parallel with a Charlie Hebdo attacks whereas instead the direct link needs to be Mumbai. Above all, the Paris Police need to quickly learn from the Indian authorities on how to investigate it correctly same way as the terrorist learnt how to improve such attacks.

Here are some very obvious parallels:

  • Simultaneous coordinated attacks over multiple locations
  • Low security targets attacked
  • Very well trained gunmen
  • They attacked at a time when these locations were crowded
  • The scale was mostly similar - one prime city in a country they wanted to terrorize 
  • Cheap AK 47s and machine guns were used to make it a low cost mission
  • They had sufficient training to carry out such a mission
Now, the terrorist did some mistakes too when they attacked Mumbai. 
  • In Mumbai, terrorist did not wear suicide belts
    • That was probably their biggest mistake and that is why Kasab was caught alive and the investigation got a head start - in Paris it was meant to be a suicide mission with suicide belts which were to be used when all the carnage was done
  • In Mumbai, terrorist called back home
    • Again it was a mistake as the phone conversations were intercepted and the link with Pakistan was established. I am ready to stick out my neck and say that the terrorist in Paris made sure they did not commit this mistake.
  • In Mumbai, terrorist carried food 
    • In the hindsight, it was a waste of space as any which ways they were on a suicide mission. And they figured, food and water was something they could easily get from their targets
    • People may argue that they had planned a longer mission and hence the food inn Mumbai; the counter argument would be, it was just a simple miscalculation due to lack of experience as a protracted attack did not increase their hit rate in hindsight
If you objectively analyze it, the Paris attack were inspired by the Mumbai attacks. Someone, did a lot of research on the attacks in Mumbai, not to mention the fact that they may hired a consultant from Pakistan ISI to assist them in planning the attacks.

Of course the French did a lot of things better than Mumbai; above all the French media was much more responsible than the Indian media that made it a show to increase TRP. Also, the police acted as fast as they could and neutralized the threat.

Now the French (a first world country) may feel ashamed to admit that they had an attack similar to one in a third world country - but guess what, India managed to stop the attacks (Indian Mujaheddin attacks were stopped too). I would recommend the French authorities to contact their Indian counterparts and talk. Else, the French are going to have a tough time stopping such attacks as Indians were attacked just for the heck of it, but the folks attacking France have a bone to pick. And Indians have learnt over the years how to deal with such attacks thanks to Pakistan - for the Western world this may just be a start.

Back Link : 

Friday, November 13, 2015

A true story

"Sir, I can't sleep, am worried if I calculated the amount correctly. I even see the amounts in my dreams", said Ram over the call.
"Don't worry tonight, you can't do much about it from home. Tomorrow when you reach office check it. Sleep tonight, I'll handle in case any issues come up - I am your manager and that's my job", said I trying to placate him and get done with the call.
"OK Sir, Good Night", said he and put down the call.

I sighed as I continued with my dinner in the office canteen. It was 4 AM on a cold November night in 2013 and I had been in office for over 16 hours now. The transition from UK to India was killing me and there was no end in sight. My team comprised fresh out of college grads and needed a lot of hand holding which was proving to be difficult. Above all, Ram had proved to be a challenge and training him was taking a toll on me.

Ram came from a small village near Belgaum. He had had a very humble beginning. His dad ran a small provision store that barely made 5000 Rs a month and he had 4 mouths to feed. The MBA degree that Ram had got from one of the hundreds of colleges that dotted the Indian landscape did not teach him much (or so thought I), but did set him back by 100,000 Rs not to mention the additional 30,000 loan he had taken from his friends to come to Pune and find a job.

I still remembered the first day when he had told me his calculation :
"Sir, I get 12,572 every month as salary in hand. I pay 2000 in rent and spend 900 on food. I come by bike on a sharing basis so it just costs me 600 Rs as otherwise the office cab would have costed me 1600 Rs! Additional expense come to about 1000 Rs every month. So in all I save 8072 a month. In case I skip lunch for a week, I may even save more that month", he told me with a grin.
I asked, "So for what are you saving the money for"
"Sir, my target is to save 100,000 by this year end and pay off most of my college loan. Then by the middle of next year I will pay off the rest of the loans and then start sending money home to help my dad pay off his debt"

So touched was I that I could only say, "Good" to that. As he walked by, I thought, 2 years of his life will be spent on saving every penny to pay off a debt that otherwise could be paid off in 2 months had he had a fair chance at opportunities that life offered well off kids in India. It was unfair, yet he was happy to have got a job after 4 month of searching.

As I sat there staring at my dinner I wondered what could be done with him as he was not performing well on the process. Other managers had suggested replacing him (i.e. firing him) with a newer resource who had better communication and was more skilled. But I had resisted. I felt that he deserved a chance at life. A chance to make him and his family debt free. The sacrifice needed was added attention and support that he would require - I was ready to do it. I felt I owed that much to a fellow human being. Above all, I saw that he was also eager to achieve that. That was all that I needed.

I took that decision 2 years back and it was a grueling journey for both of us. He was an epitome of being the most unfit candidate for the job. He had no communication skills and the job required that to the fore. Yet he persisted. Yet he tried. Not to mention so did I - to groom him.

Today as I look back at him I smile. He has grown as a person. Above all, he appreciates it. Its rare to find such employees these days. The humble beginnings definitely helped. Today he asks for extra salary and thinks of buying fancy gold rings. His demands have increased because he has been enabled to make that demand. It took a toll on me, but I know it was worth it.

As I see his family photos on facebook of a trip he went on, I come to realize how important and crucial those two years were for him and his family and what a transformation it has brought in his life.

Now he earns 20,000 a month. Still pittance compared to what others may, yet he is happy.

Finally, I guess, you should follow your heart - it normally points you in the right direction is what I feel.

To Ram.

*Name has been deliberately changed to conceal identity - but this is a true story of an employee who is a part of a team I manage and Ram continues to work in that team

Monday, November 9, 2015

Whats wrong with TinyOwl?

Maybe nothing as of now. TinyOwl's founders would have to be really dumb to have something wrong at their firm after raising 100 cr just 8 months back and having another 50 million USD lined up. Actually, TinyOwl may have become the victim of its own hype and the fact that people forgot that they are a start ups and allowed to do mistakes. I personally do not believe their current business practices are going to make them last long, but yes, as of today it should look like a perfectly healthy company to the outside world.

The important word here is Outside World. Now, a murmur has been going round in the investor community since the last year or so of the exorbitant funding/valuations start ups are receiving with no tangible value add to the customer beyond discounts. It is as if everyone knows about the elephant in the room but no one is talking about it. Take the example of Tiny Owl - they were founded in 2014 and received a funding for 100 cr by February on a base of almost no sales or traction to warrant this scale of investment. This level funding was based on two premise by investors :

  • A start up has to show traction, no matter how small - investors will put in money to fuel this
  • Registered users matter more than revenue
Because of these two premises we saw a trend towards getting more users registered at any cost. Tiny Owl offered 100% cash back at one point and Food Panda was not lagging at 80% discount. The aim - get more registered users. If you think about all the new apps you've used - PayTM, Swiggy, Myntra, etc - they all ask one thing in common, a customers email address and phone number. That's the thing that's going to get them the next round of funding, not the next sale. Its ironic how the priority turned the wrong way in no time.

So the question comes, weren't investors aware of this. Of course they were - but that's the thing with hype - when you are a part of it, you ignore the risks. The smart investors already reduced their investment portfolios in the last year into internet companies or took a really hard look before investing, but then there are always those who will just follow the herd b

So what is in store? Well, actually its a good thing Tiny Owl's lay off got hyped up. These questions will now be asked more openly and hopefully we will have a soft landing to this investment boom based on crazy myths. Expect some metaphorical bloodbath as more of these startup's run into the proverbial trouble. 

Finally, the few start ups that will survive will be the ones that offer true value add to the customers. Value adds that go beyond discounts as discounts are not sustainable. Here's my bet in the food industry - FoodPanda, TinyOwl are going to disappear, Swiggy may just prove to be the winner given the investment its putting into its value chain. 2016 shall tell.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I am no poet

My Wife

Twinkling and Winking, she wakes me up Thinking;
Hugging and Whispering, she starts the day very Pleasing;
She is my beautiful morning alarm.

Rambling and Dancing, she goes around Prancing;
Mumbling and Grumbling, she does it with Fumbling; 
She is my go to office charm.

Energizing and Strengthening, she bonds like Gluing;
Laughing and Helping, she is a Friendling;
She is my awesome social bond.

Analyzing and planning, she goes on manning;
Huffing and Puffing, she like being the homeling;
She is my baby mom.

Cooking and Serving, she is very caring;
Slicing and Dicing, she is a chefling;
She is my 'fatten him up' tom.

Calling and talking, she goes on babbling;
Smiling and Beaming, she is very happening;
She is my energy song.

Ordering and executing, she is very leading;
Tiring and hardworking, she goes on multitasking;
She is my manager all along.

Laughing and bumping, she returns home jumping;
Shopping and eating, she is well knowing;
She is my grey eyed prom.

Patting and cuddling, she begins sleeping;
Humming and dreaming, she starts dozing; 
She is my loving wife lifelong.