Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rang De Basanti

wow great movie. Really inspiring and touching venture. I knew two kinds of movies, one where people came out screeming and other where people walked home silently. Then I saw Rang de Basanti. I am sure people would have walked out inspired.

Its among the rare movie which links practicality with idealism.
The best thing that I liked about the movie that it shows the gen-X is a positive light. I do not know from where this perception of irresponsible youth have caught up with Indian national thought process. Being myself a member of this generation, I feel that we are no less responsible for India's fate than any other generation. In-fact I believe it is fortunate for us and India that we have more dreams than memories about India.

All of us would have only heared about India being golden bird but would havenever believed it. We came up watching doordarshan claiming Mera Bharat Mahan but would have never believed it. But I feel the times are changing. There are many more people who are working towards actually making mera Bharat Mahan. and Indian gen-X is forerunners in it. I can sense a lot more optimism in Indian economy.
Coming to Movie, what was the best shot. I think it was the one when our foreign actress speaks out her first phrase in hindi ;-) I was stunned then and could not control myself laughing for more than 5 minutes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yes the Jain ceremony of head anointing which happens once in 12 years goes dot com this year.
To give the background of the event:

The 57 feet, thousand and twenty five year old monolithic statue of Lord Gommateshwara, also popularly known as Bahubali, at Shravanabelagola is the tallest in the world. As the Mahamasthakabhisheka begins, consecrated water is sprinkled onto the participants by devotees carrying 1008 specially prepared vessels. The statue is then bathed and anointed with libations such as milk, sugarcane juice, and saffron paste, and sprinkled with powders of sandalwood, turmeric, and vermilion. Offerings are made of petals, gold and silver coins, and precious stones.

After 1993, this event took place in 2006, from February 4th to 19th. The grand opening of Mahamasthakabhisheka festival was done by President of India APJ Abul Kalam on 22nd January 2006. Instead of limiting the abhishek ritual to a day, like all earlier times, the state government and the Sri Digambara Jain Mutt Trust held it for nine days. "We want more pilgrims to experience it. One hundred and eight selected pilgrims will pour the kalasas on the first day, 504 on the second and 1,008 on each of the remaining seven days," the Digamabara Jain Mutt seer Charukeerthi Bhattaraka said.

More details are available on the official website and there is always google.

Now coming to the point. The reason I am writing this blog is that during my two day long visit (see picturtes) to the place, one thing constantly made me think and re-think. I felt that Lord Gomteshwar's mahamastakabhishek was made available only to people who paid a well defined "ransom". See the kalash link for details of this.

A man doing his job honestly, living a true Jain life but poor was very much uninvited. I had an opportunity to experience this stark difference myself. On 18th Feb Saturday, first day of my visit, I went in as a poor man. I was not allowed to step on to the hill (Indragiri) on which the idol is located. The ceremony time was from morning 8 to afternoon 3. All the poor people were required to stand in hot sun or climb a smaller hill (Chandragiri) opposite to the main hill from which one can see the head of the idol but it required a very good eye sight. Poor were allowed to step on the main hill only after 3 PM till 8PM and thankfully till 10PM on Saturday else the poor me would have been disappointed. The great crowd because of religious appeal of the mega event, ensured that each person need about 3 hours to reach to the idol and that too for less than two minutes before you will be pushed out to the downhill way. In between there were enough places to get humiliated in the crowd similar to a Mumbai's local train during rush hours were one would be almost crushed. The patrolling police too made sure that all the people use only half portion of climbing stairs which rest was kept reserved for themselves or some VIP.

I was fortunate enough to get darshan on Saturday night. Finally a poor me got a consolation darshan to cherish.

Came the Sunday, and I was the rich me who got privileged to participate in the ceremony thanks to the money I could "buy" a Kalash. It also offered me privilege to get accommodation for next three days after paying a fixed amount (remember it was the last day of ceremony and I wonder if those temporary things would even have still been around for next three days.) and free food. Food which a person who has not "bought" a kalash cannot get. Food which was not allowed to non-Jain people such as my taxi driver. Food which was being cook exclusively for few privileged "pure Jain" people but the preparation place had loads of potatoes (Jainism advice againt eating vegetable which grow below ground like potatoes, onion, carrot etc.). When I inquired about the presence of potatoes, I met a harsh yelling asking me not be to oversmart and claiming that it was for non-Jain people who are working to make this event happen. Was my driver not working for same reason?

anyway... When I went with a pass denoting me a privileged Kalash holder, I was surprized to see the pathway to hilltop which took me 3 hrs to climb on Saturday, took me only 10 minutes rate limited only by my speed. Why not, I "paid" for it. On the hilltop, I was offered a privilege seat to witness the whole ceremony right infront and experience a divine joy for which I actually went there. But I am thinking, why a poor man who might be a better Jain than me or most of people out there is standing out waiting for the ceremony to get over before he is allowed to climb the hill?

Friday, February 17, 2006

The World Is Flat

Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times "Foreign Affairs" columnist and author of "The World Is Flat

The World is Flat

A amazing book which gave me a perspective to why and how of the Flat world.

What was I doing when I came to know the world is flat? hmm.. Do I have an answer to this question?

let me try...

My first brush with one of the 10 flattener as Tom describes happened when I was waiting for my IIT-JEE result in summer of 1999. I remember to have visited a friends place who ran an computer training institute. I was impatient, as always I am, to know my JEE result. At that time my friend dialed up to the net and connected to to search website of IIT. It did not made sense to me then as the concept of internet seemed western while the name yahoo seemed kind of Hindi word!! I did had some exposure to computers then as I had learned some GW basic, logo and game of chess quite some time back, but this was altogether different. The first time I had ever used a computer was sometime in 1995-96 when I went to my uncle's place and played a game of chess on his machine. I specially went to his place some 100 miles off my town to see his computer. At that time it was just an amusing machine which had more of gaming utility. I was unaware of the potential it contained.

Well the JEE result came and I made it to IIT Madras chemical engineering. There in my first semester we had a course on Pascal which we heard was outdated and wasn't that appealing. But it gave a chance to go to computer center which has these green screen Unix-AIX IBM dumb terminals. I guess most of the learning came from peers just by mutual sharing and competing, hacking accounts or just getting sadistic pleasure of doing a remote kill -9 -1 on machines and logging people off unaware.

The internet was limited with only 2 terminals available in library which were always crowded. I remember getting up early on weekends to rush to library to get a hand on one of those terminals. It was at that time, sometime in August 1999 that I opened my first email account at only to forget the password the very next day. Those days the net was so slow that it used to take forever for even a page to show up.

Then we used to hear all around of Y2K problem and the big challenge it presented to the computing industry. It came and went mostly un-noticed in IIT campus but we saw that the jobs for our graduating seniors were great and everyone from computer science to civil engineering was joining a software company.

Suddenly as the millennium changed, there were computers all around the IIT and we all became expert users overnight. I do not recollect how this change happened so fast but it did happened for good. And thanks to a big donation from Mr Gururaj Deshpande that IITM suddenly went overdrive on computers and internet bandwidth. It made me a virtual global citizen which I am today for almost 20 hours in a day.

Then when it was the time for us to graduate, we came to know that dot com bubble has gone burst and many Indians are returning back from US after loosing their jobs. Our seniors who were placed with software companies got regret letters from them communicating their inability to offer them a job. Some companies even put their shutters down or disappeared entirely. It was a bad time and somehow the perception became that software companies are unstable and a risky proposition. Better find your branch jobs. Even the IT salaries took a big dip and it seemed that our seniors graduated with almost double average salaries. I find these trend even today in IIT campus where people do not have core software companies as their employer of choice. I feel companies like Infosys are also responsible for it to some extent as they offer a salary package almost one third of campus average and popularized the word tech-coolie.

Had I knew about these driving forces of the flat world or had Tom was not sleeping when the world went flat, I would have long back understood the issue and the opportunity that came hidden along. This book really helped to get it right for me now.

I now understand the actual drivers of this software (IT/ITES) boom in India. The opportunity it presents and excitement it carries.

It was indeed insightful to know the importance of 11/9/89 in the flat world. Else it was just a historical date! Actually I know most of these things as I saw them happening, but I was just a kid then unable to reason them out. And when I was able to reason them out while I was in IIT, these issues from current affairs had became history and our IITs do not teach history.

Anyway I feel very obliged to Tom for writing this what I feel is the best book among some 50 odd management/business related books that I have read till now. Thanks Tom.. I am really flattened.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Delhi in Davos: How India built its brand at the World Economic Forum - News

Delhi in Davos: How India built its brand at the World Economic Forum - News

Building a Delhi in Davos is easy. The real challenge would be to build a Davos in Delhi. We as a nation still need to cover a very long distance to reach the economic destination. What we see today in India as IT revolution is something we have not dearly achieved but luckily received. I do not intend to take away credit from people rightly deserving whatever India has achieved but my point is that India has a very long way to go. We are just at the tip of opportunity iceberg. The responsibility is on us to use it opportunity and earn ourselves respect from the world or turn our back to it and happily chant Mera Bharat Mahan.

As righly said in Movie Swadesh, Mera Bharat Mahan sirf kehne ya likhne se nahi hoga balki uske liye mehnat karne se hoga (India will not be a great nation by only saying or writing but by working for it)

I hope to see of govt fulfilling its commitment made at Davos. We are way behind in terms of Infrastructure. The "Doing Business" report points big gap in terms of Indian business agility.

Lets make a Davos in every part of India.