August 2006


If for some reason you are wondering why I (who usually has something to say about everything) stayed away from the Vande Mataram controversy, here is an explanation of sorts before I start on the Onam issue.

Vande Mataram is our national song. Let’s just leave it at that. Nobody is forcing anyone to sing it. I don’t think most of us would even know past the first two lines. I don’t for sure. But I do like the song, I bought AR Rehman’s album and I liked its video by Bharat Bala.

Why is it offending? I seriously can’t figure that out. Neither am I sure if I want to either as this whole issue seems B grade political. I don’t think there is a reason for anyone to justify why she/he wants to sing it or not sing it. It’s a personal choice.

OnamNow. I have a far more serious issue. It’s about Onam. The management and principal of AWH Engineering College, Kozhikode (Calicut) have decided not to allow Onam celebrations in its campus because it’s “religious”. I like to point out that AWM is a Muslim minority institution. The students are protesting and the college have been closed indefinitely.

I would like to inform the AWH college management that our King Mahabali is not going to be very happy about this. Maybe this year when he comes visiting, her might throw you across the Mullaperiyar dam.

Four years ago on Onam day, I had the rare honour of being a guest of HRH Princess Aswathi Tirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore. We spoke for over an hour and as I was leaving she put her hand on my head and said, “May Lord Padmanabha guide you on your quests, do our land proud.” I was touched.

Onam for me is a celebration of my culture. It has nothing to with my religion but has everything to do with the land that gave birth to my forefathers and me.

A couple of weeks back I attended a talk by Mr Sanjay Bhargava an angel from        venturemutiny in geekdom woods (formally working with payPal) in IIM A, he spoke about the need of startups and helped us realize whether it was a startup we were looking for or not. The talk basically circumambulated around what it takes for a startup to initiate in India and a couple of things were made very clear: One that angels or VCs always feel more confident working with people who are putting some money from their own side as well and Two that startups in India need less seed as compared to that in the States, so if your looking for a seed, it better be reasonable. What I find intriguing is that, the extremely talented human resource of this country should find itself in a much better condition to take risks now than it had been, say five-six years back, right now almost any engineering graduate from any discipline will get a decent job in Bangalore. Given this fact it is comparitively easier to take a risk and plunge into the business world with ones own idea, but theres something that holds one back, probably the risk factor, the insecurity, the investment or the sheer social pressure to get a job and settle quickly.
Most of the successful startups are attributed to college dropouts, so the age the grand idea clicks you is then, and starting a software business then is even more secure as all you need is a desk/lap top. So eventually it all boils down to the age old hardwork conquers theory. Most of tech college goers are too damn satisfied with software jobs with high attrition rates. People interested in startups are not just interested in wealth, they are genuinly interested in contributing to the society or at times have too much of an authority problem to have a boss. Techcrunch writes about a new startup almost 3 times a week and let me assure is very selective and the number of innnovative companies I can think of in India are very few, Webyantra-the techrunch of India, Indianpad, Wallet365 (a recent e commerce tool), Dhruva Interactive (a premier gaming company), Web chutney (started by a 19 yr old college drop out), Signion.. of course Im missing a few (will be glad to read about more) but the fact remains that we are one of the top notch of software/design skill and so secure in terms of jobs and still so few initiatives.
I also met Mr Beerud Sheth, CTO of Webaroo and earlier founder of e-Lance at the same talk in IIM A. He says that he knows a lot of people trying to create Indian versions of youtube and myspace but theyr not considering the prospects of such things in India, when they should be looking to solve problems like bandwidth. Webaroo is a brilliant offline search tool that is freely available for download. The company is working to develop mobile search that Mr Sheth considers is going to be a mass tool. Now thats a cool idea! . Hes also pro the idea of joining a startup, it could be as promising as a startup as it gives one ample opportunity to explore. He even compared joining a startup to snipers and commandoes sent out in enemy territory to explore and joining the big brands to policemen doing routine work!
According to business today, Dhruva interactive is also a company worth mentioning, it is trying to find the profit at the bottom of the pyramid by producing games for the ten minute players new to gaming, playing in the lunch time. Web chutney has been very successful in viral marketing especially with their Ramayana makemytrip ads. Both Mr Sheth and Mr Bhargava stress upon the need to give it a try before coming to any decision, especially when one is in college, buzzwords are thinking, innovating and trying. More information about angels/vcs at venturewoods.

I got news for everyone out there. It’s the National Sports Day today!! Yeah, we’ve been hearing about the Arjuna Awards over the past couple of days. But, when the day comes no newspaper reports about it.

It is actually the birth anniversary of arguably the greatest sportsperson India has ever produced.. Major Dhyan Chand.

They broke his stick in Holland (1928) to check for a magnet; the Japanese (1932) decided it was glue; Adolf Hitler (1936) offered to make him a corporal.


I am too distraught to write more on this. Go here, here and here to read more about him.

There is not much I can add to this report in the Hindustan times today,

At the tender age of six (that’s right SIX), Kevin, the youngest kickboxing champion and blackbelt in India, is a natural fighter. And his long legs and lightening moves showcase the talent that could dominate the game for years to come.

Kevin Lalrinmawia, born in 2000 in a middle-income family in Mizoram’s capital, grew up with an obsession for stunts. His father Joseph understands, his mother Lalrinawmi is less than thrilled and his teachers feel this should not hamper his studies.

That should not be a worry as Kevin is one among the bright students in class II at Gospel Centenary School. He became a national sensation after winning three gold medals to become the youngest kickboxing champ of India in the just concluded 18th National Championship held in Orissa.

He was awarded the youngest ‘Dan black belt’ of the country by the Indian Association of Kickboxing Organisations (IAKO) in July 2005. Kevin now dreams to become the youngest kickboxing world champion one day.

“I’ve really been looking forward to stepping into the world kickboxing ring. I’ve trained hard and I want to win,” said a shy Kevin, preparing for the world championship to be held in Hungary this November.

He has also set his sights on another international level kickboxing event to be held in Croatia a month later. “I would show my talent in full contact, bare hand and weapons (musical forms) categories at the world level,” he added.

I hope DD sports telecasts this. The last time I checked they were showing reruns of the 2002 winter Olympics.

Bangalore will be the first Indian city to have wireless access almost anywhere in the city within the next year allowing it to join the growing number of wi-fi cities around the world

What I found really great about this news was that the government will NOT be spending a single paisa on it. If the people want it, they have to spend between Rs 250 to Rs 900 to get it.

I personally know quite a few American returned Indians who would love to get wi-fi and would not mind spending money onto it.

This seems like a win-win situation – Better technology without taking away the needed money from other more deserving causes. 

Is Balochistan going to be the next Bangladesh? There are similarities.

In 1970, a massive cyclone devastated the coast of East Pakistan, and the central government responded poorly. The Bengali population’s anger was compounded when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose Awami League won a majority in Parliament in the 1970 elections, was blocked from taking office. After staging compromise talks with Mujib, President Yahya Khan arrested him on the night of March 25, 1971, and launched Operation Searchlight, a sustained military assault on East Pakistan. Yahya’s methods were extremely bloody, and the violence of the war resulted in many civilian deaths. Chief targets included intellectuals and Hindus.

Now look at Balochistan in the past year,

In January 2006, Indymedia released on its website a 14 minute long amateur video purportedly recorded on March 17 2005 in the town of Dera Bugti, that shows a number of dead bodies including children and signs of mortar shelling. In the video it is alleged that 60 people were killed in the fighting between Baloch nationalists and Pakistani security forces that took place that day.

And now,

Prominent tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in a Pakistani Army missile attack in the restive Balochistan province that also left 38 armed rebels and 21 security personnel dead, triggering massive rioting during which a protester was shot dead.

I don’t get it, Mush bhaijaan. You have created an Azad Kashmir, why can’t you do the same with Balochistan? Why are you using the air force and artillery against your own people? What right do you have to talk about Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India, if this is what you are doing to your own “freedom fighters”. Maybe you should have a Balochistan solidarity day and offer them “moral” and “diplomatic” support.

The Financial Express website features an article where the Kerala State is thinking of moving to support open source completely. Unlike the ban on colas (The debate is still going on whether this is a good thing or bad thing) this could actually be good news apart from promoting the use of open source software
it could help in making the public in general aware about the availability of non-proprietary software which is freely available.

Piracy is a big issue in India plus there is a lack of proper information available on the use of proprietary software. The biggest plus point is that it will be promoted in schools. It is easier to teach children to use computers even if it is a bit complicated, since they are able to grasp and learn thing faster. Plus it could have a cascading effect on the public in general. Below are some of the comments by certain DIGG users.

 

I’m glad to see advancement of such open source technology. The internet is a good community, and introducing more people into only further advances the community. Unfortunately with windows, there really isn’t much a community because it is closed source.

 

Why should the government pay some set amount for every single computer simply to have an operating system, when an OS (and almost all necessary software) can be had for free. Most people are simply learning to use the word processor, cruising the Internet for information. For programming, Linux has almost too many options for learning languages, old and new. If you want to learn MS Windows later, then buy a copy. It’s hardly difficult to learn. I highly doubt any school is teaching very much about Windows system management (to the general student pop), as any system administrator worth his salt wouldn’t allow them to be used with the admin accounts.

 

One of the main hindrances for Linux has been the immense popularity of windows which is used by around 90 % of the people worldwide. Linux brings with a stereotype or phobia that it is meant only for geeks. The UbuntuLinux is a good example of user friendliness in Linux. Apart from being freely available for downloading you can even ask them freely post it by Snail mail from https://shipit.ubuntu.com/ to your house with Zero Rupees being spent. All you have to is register and put your Postal Address. The Cds usually take about a month or so to arrive. I myself have used this service to get the Ubuntu Cds. You can order multiple copies so that you can share it with other people.

Slashdot has more too. 

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