Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Indian Web Startups Quiz - Answers

Ok...ok....I am posting the answers at the fag end of the day following some requests to delay my answers as long as possible as the efforts were still on to track down all of the answers. I think the wait has been long enough. The original post is here
  1. Which online Indian startup focusing on the travel and hospitality industry, has the tag line "Great Deals. Always"
  2. Which 2 Indian startups are giving Google News India a run for the money in the area of news aggregation?
  3. What is the common area of interest between the Indian Startups HumDigg, IndiaVote, IndianPad, PutVote and IndiaGram?
    • They are all social bookmarking sites that aim to capture interests of Indians.
  4. Which Indian company has a offline search software - one that allows you to search the Web even when you are not connected to the Internet?
  5. An Indian startup took the world of Internet search by storm when it was launched in March 2006. The startup offered a search for visual information by actually matching your key search terms to traits of million of photos on the Web. What company am I referring to?
  6. Which Indian telecom company took to providing live 2006 Wimbledon coverage for mobile phone users in India?
  7. Which Indian startup is on the verge of releasing an Open Source Web Conference tool that allows people to host and walk though their presentations online to a distributed audience ?
  8. Which Chennai based Telecom company released a low cost wireless broadband system named Cordect in Nov 2005 that is expected hasten Internet connectivity in rural India?
  9. Presumably the first Indian startup to offer photo sharing, printing and delivery of photos across India. Which company am I referring to ?
  10. What Indian startup has an Uncle Sam imitating Indian asking "What do you have to say today?" on its home page?
    • - A community based tech news sharing portal.
  11. With what Indian online company do you associate this smiling face ? [ Hint : The company received extortion threats recently]
  12. Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, both alumni of Stanford University set up a new search engine that rocked the online community, with some even terming it as the next Google. What search engine is being referred to here ?
  • Of the 30 odd entries I received, the one with the most correct entries is of Pooja. Amazingly she has got all of them right.
  • The next best entry got 10 right. It was from Kaps of Sambhar Mafia fame.
Congratulations to the winners and to the participants coz I considered the level of this quiz to be higher side and you all deserve compliments for having attempted the quiz. Thanks for the response. Till next time...keep tracking the Pulse of IT in India

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Technology & Innovation can end Monopoly

"Technology and innovation can be a monopoly killer". This statement made by one of the professors was still resounding in my ears as my thoughts raced across to the telecom sector in India. BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) in the socialist 70s and 80s was the state owned monopoly in fixed land lines and had developed an extensive mesh of lines that criss-crossed the country linking Assam to Gujarat and Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Competition never threatened BSNL as it had the blessing of the central governement to run its business in a way that profited it the most.

Then came the liberalization era in the 1990's and classic capitalist ideas started gaining the upper hand. Every sphere started opening up and competitive markets started becoming the norm of the day. A host of new players entered the market initially providing wireless cellular services which was an area that did not have monopoly players yet. Technology played its role too as it was the same time the world as a whole was facing a telecom wireless revolution in terms of mobile phone miniaturization, feature intensification and cost reduction.

Once these new entrants namely Airtel, Tata Indicom and Reliance gained a foothold in the cellular wireless market they embarked on a plan of diversification and this was when they used technology to topple BSNL from the distinct status it held of being the only firm to have land lines across India. Reliance and Tata Indicom used technology to lay high bandwidth optical fiber cables (OFC) across the country. BSNL was forced to adopt similar measures. However the gap between BSNL and the new entrants was still a chasm.
Enter Wireless Local Loop (WLL) technology. Reliance and the Tata group quickly jumped the wagon . This enabled them to lay optical fiber cables between major towns and villages and avoid last mile connectivity issues which incidentally is what requires the most capital investment. Instead WLL enabled them to erect towers in towns and villages and still issue the subscribers land line phones that connected wirelessly to these towers. The same door-to-door access that BSNL had achieved over a span of 2-3 decades by laying phone cables right till the subscriber's doorstep was achieved by the new entrants in a span of half a decade. Today the Tatas and Reliance groups boast of a network comparable in size to BSNL and still be proud of the fact that it was done at a fraction of the cost that BSNL incurred. And in doing so, it also marked the end of monopolistic market practices of one of India's telecom behemoths.

Truly "Technology and Innovation can convert monopolistic markets to competitive ones"

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cutting the Cellular Pie in India

Attempt the Indian Startups Quiz
Last Date: 30th Aug 2006

It is no less than a bloodbath that is happening in the Indian cellular phone service provider scene. With about 5 players namely BSNL (the state owned enterprise), Airtel, Hutch, Tata and Reliance, who can truly boast of nationwide coverage and umpteen local providers, the fight that is on to garner the maximum number of cellular subscribers is only getting intense.

Two things are distinctly adding fuel to the raging fire and driving competition to dizzying levels.
  • India is credited with being the world's fastest growing cellular subscriber market
The Indian cellular service subscriber base especially on the GSM front has been swelling by about 3-4 million new customers every single month and has touched 82.4 million in July 2006. With this kind of a spectaular growth, it is a story of the golden egg laying hen that is surrounded by a host of farmers ready to grab the egg as it comes out.

The customers are equally finicky about the service they get and will not hesitate to switch given the slightest incentive. Quite understandable considering the economics of the market that is booming and teeming with players offering every service that you could name.

One of my professors was mentioning that it takes roughly about 2 years for a cellular company to extract all the cost investment that goes into acquiring a new customer. That set me thinking on whether the fact holds true in a volatile market like India that will surely not see stability anywhere in the near future. My take on the matter, given the fact that customer loyalties in India last just till the customer faces the slightest disruption of services, is that the large volumes that keep getting churned out in the market every day, more than offset the need for a hefty two years to recover investment costs on a new customer. The concept of the need for two years might eventually come to dictate the market dynamics of the mobile services market once the markets have stabilized and the companies get a chance to tone down their frequent 'at-war-rhetorics'
  • Technology driven industry + Highly tech savvy consumers = High volatility
Mobile companies in India are also one of the most technology focused companies anywhere in the world. With highly technology savvy consumers biting at their heels, Indian cellular companies are introducing newer and newer gizmos with ever more features and services packed into each device to satiate the Indian market. Airtel that dished out a $1 billion contract to Ericsson to setup new wireless facilities across the country is just one example.

Another thing to be observed here is that the Indian mobile market consists of about 85% of youth in the age bracket of 18 to 35 who just want the best that technology offers them. This keeps the mobile cos on their toes.

New Technologies
I can only imagine how the competition can drive the market nuts with a host of new technologies that are pervading the market. Consider WiFi and WiMax that allow citywide and district wide wireless Internet services to be operated. With Internet enabled phones, it won't be long before customers could access the Internet via these phones and maybe make a VOIP call to their friend halfway across the world and still incur only the data charges that their local cellular company levies on them. It definitely looks like a threat to cellular companies. The same can be iteratively applied to the local market and you suddenly have a market where cellular companies are no more cellular companies but wireless Internet providers who just have been left high and dry because no person wants to use their call routing services when the Internet can do it for them at a fraction of a cost.

Even the SMS model might dramatically collapse if people decide sending an email from one's mobile to another person who will definitely have access to his mail box over his Internet enabled phone makes more sense than a SMS. What if a company comes out with a killer app that marries off Email and SMS to inherit the best of both worlds. Quite scary if I am the head honcho of a cellular company.

I can only see two possibilities. Either the bloodbath goes into hyper mode and players get gobbled up by the big fish. Or the smaller fry just find the model unsustainable economically and quit the market giving more room for the other players to stretch out. Classic marketing principles would definitely win at the end though the path towards that point would be ridden with big time corporate foresights that might either send a company spiraling towards glory or towards a not-so glorious downfall, making up for some interesting case studies at the B-schools across the globe. 'Cellularizing' one sixth of the world's population is sure to resemble an action paked Bollywood movie

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Photo Courtesy: Hindu Business Line

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Indian Web Startups Quiz - How well do you know them?

Well, Quiz time again...After the overwhelming response to my first IT quiz, I was inspired to come out with quizzes that make it fun to follow IT news. This one's on Indian IT and ITES service based startups that have been making waves not just in the country but also across the world. See how well you keep tabs on the Indian IT Pulse...
  1. Which online Indian startup focusing on the travel and hospitality industry, has the tag line "Great Deals. Always".
  2. Which 2 Indian startups are giving Google News India a run for the money in the area of news aggregation?
  3. What is the common area of interest between the Indian Startups HumDigg, IndiaVote, IndianPad, PutVote and IndiaGram?
  4. Which Indian company has a offline search software - one that allows you to search the Web even when you are not connected to the Internet?
  5. An Indian startup took the world of Internet search by storm when it was launched in March 2006. The startup offered a search for visual information by actually matching your key search terms to traits of million of photos on the Web. What company am I referring to?
  6. Which Indian telecom company took to providing live 2006 Wimbledon coverage for mobile phone users in India?
  7. Which Indian startup is on the verge of releasing an Open Source Web Conference tool that allows people to host and walk though their presentations online to a distributed audience?
  8. Which Chennai based Telecom company released a low cost wireless broadband system named Cordect in Nov 2005 that is expected hasten Internet connectivity in rural India?
  9. Presumably the first Indian startup to offer photo sharing, printing and delivery of photos across India. Which company am I referring to?
  10. What Indian startup has an Uncle Sam imitating Indian asking "What do you have to say today?" on its home page?
  11. With what Indian online company do you associate this smiling face? [Hint : The company CEO received extortion threats recently]
  12. Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, both alumni of Stanford University set up a new search engine that rocked the online community, with some even terming it as the next Google. What search engine is being referred to here?
Answers on 30th of August, 2006
Send your answers to

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India IT News Capsule - Aug 2006, Issue 3

  • AOL coming to India: America Online or AOL as it is better known is all out to set up shop in India and bring to Indians that have made it a household name in the United States. AOL has not revealed a foray into Internet service providing business but speculation is rife that AOL would try and acquire Sify, one of the largest privates ISPs in India to jump start its India operations.
  • Google looking for India Internet startups: Google is reportedly looking out for Indian Internet startups to be acquired as part of its expansion plan in the country. On its India site, Google has invited applications from people who can “identify and evaluate acquisition opportunities across existing and future market opportunities, drive management team decisions, lead deal execution, and help manage post-acquisition integration and performance evaluation in the South Asia Region.” Google’s ideal candidate would be “a top performer with proven deal management,” said the site. A hint about what Google might be seeking to do in India comes in the form of investment experience that the candidate must have: Internet, communications, or e-commerce.
  • Airtel offering MS-Office products on its mobile network: Airtel, the leading cellular phone service provider has tied up with Microsoft to allow its mobile users access to Microsoft Office products over their mobile phones. Airtel subscribers can access MS Word, Outlook, Excel, Powerpoint and Internet Explorer on their mobile devices. Beside, users will also get access to several other multimedia applications, including camera, video recording and MP3. The MS Windows Mobile 5.0 will be available to customers on the HP I-Paq and I-Mate handsets, priced between Rs 16,000 and Rs 65,000. Whereas, the service will be offered under plans ranging from Rs 399 to Rs 799.With this association Bharti Airtel thus joins 115 existing mobile operators who currently offer the Windows Mobile solution worldwide.
  • Indian Company launches Podcast services for corporates: Chennai PR Club, a PR professionals association, and Prime Point Foundation, an NGO, jointly launched 'Podcast' service for corporates on Monday. Podcast is the distribution of audio stream, which can be downloaded and played through any MP3 player.
  • NIIT - IIM to offer Management courses over Internet: NIIT Ltd., Asia's largest IT trainer, and one of India's top management colleges plan on offering management programmes through broadband.Content would be provided by Indian Institute of Managment, Ahemadabad while infrastructure would be NIIT's hold. NIIT will initially set up six computer centres in as many cities and the number will subsequently rise to 75. IIM will design two programmes meant for professionals having at least five years of work experience. They will be priced at 50,000 rupees ($1,076) for 60 hours of training and 180,000 rupees for a course lasting 150 hours.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

New safety measures on Indian Railways

Security is a scalding topic with the railway minister Lalu Prasad these days. The good part is that he is doing whatever in his power to elevate security among passengers of the railway networks in India.

Two news items in the Hindustan Times and Sify have detailed the new security related developments that would soon find their way into railway stations concourses.

  1. X-Ray machines to be installed at major Northern Railways' stations. This includes New Delhi, Delhi and Nizamuddin. The machines would be similar to the ones at airports and would revel the contents of luggages to the security personnel. The 2.75 crore project would target both passenger and parcel luggages.
  2. CCTVs (Close Circuit Televisions) also are being installed at 13 railway stations in Mumbai. This comes in the wake of the recent July 11, 2006 Mumbai serial blasts that ripped 7 different suburban trains killing nearly 200 people.

Though the measures are commendable, the railways need to realize that they have an uphill task to adequately secure the thousands of railways stations across India and make way for safer rail travel to the millions of Indians for whom railways are the mode of life.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

18 million Indians online - 10 Future Developments as a result

I was not surprised when Times of India reported that Indians are taking to the Internet in a big way and are well on the way to beating US, China, Japan and Germany in terms of the sheer number of people going online. My Orkut friends network grows by the hour, I do not get an e-mail id for my name "Vijay" at even any of the lesser known e-mail services, my blog number are growing by hundreds every day. These, I think are ample evidence of the fact that Indians just love to surf the Internet.

For those of you who demand numbers, here they are...
The total online population in India, measured in terms of people aged over 15 years accessing internet, rose 7.8 per cent to 18.02 million in June, from 16.71 million just three months ago in March, a latest survey from US-based technology research firm comScore Networks reveals. During the same period the new Internet users numbers rose from 694 million to 713 million. That means that of the 19 million new netizens, close to 2 million new ones are from India which is a staggering 10% of the newbies.

The most serious omission in the survey is that the survey has taken into account only home internet users and not the cyber cafe users who equal or exceed the home users in number.

China comes second with a jump of 5.22 percent and Russia a close third with 5.14 percent growth. Developed nations like US and UK registered growths of less than 1%.

Now coming to what this means to India.. I love this...It is more interesting. I have made a list of 10 possibilities that I feel, such staggering numbers of online Indians, can open up for the country and business as a whole
  1. With 18.02 million people, e-business would really get a kick-start. This is the age when the failed DotComs of 2001 could have had better chance at sailing through.
  2. Entrepreneurship by the youth would take off in a big way as the Internet breaks down all barriers into conducting business worldwide.
  3. NewsPapers will start feeling the heat as their readers go online in a big way.
  4. TV, Radio and Internet is heading towards what I refer to as the "Big Fusion" in India. IPTV is going to be a reality in India sooner than later. It would further fuel Internet penetration.
  5. Blogging is going to transform how people gather information. India will produce a few world famous bloggers in the days to come.
  6. Cities across the country will soon start rolling out WiFi or Wi-Max citywide wireless Internet services. Mysore was the first to go wireless.
  7. 3-G services would make a splash in India too soon as Internet connections on the move would be in demand.
  8. Work from home concept to turn popular in India with high speed Internet connections turning commonplace.
  9. Indian universities will start offering online courses for the millions of Indians who prefer to study from the confines of their homes. That will be a billion dollar market by itself.
  10. E-governance initiatives by the government would be rapidly be embraced by the general public and there would be clamour for more of Internet based user-friendly services.
May the tribe of online Indians increase !!!

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PhotoCourtesy : TribuneIndia

Monday, August 14, 2006

Google Server Farm in India Soon

This must be music to a Google lover. Yes you heard it right. Google is planning to set up a server farm in India. Following a retreat from India earlier this year, Google is all set to come back to India and with a bigger purse this time and loftier ambitions. Google plans to
  • Set up a special economic zone (SEZ) in Andhra Pradesh, the southern state of India at the cost of upto $1 billion
  • Set up a server farm that the Internet giant is famous for. These secretive server houses are massive data storage zones that are hot linked via high speed lines to Internet backbones that criss cross the world. These farms host websites and also act as a store house for all information available on the internet. be it e-mails, blogs, photos, documents or chat records, and make it available to users when they demand it.
Google's proposal to set up a server farm in India comes on the back of increasing number of internet users in the country. A local server base from Google would mean that Indian netizens would be able to get faster access to data as well as save on access costs while accessing data from across the world. It would also bring down the traffic load on international lines.

If the possibility is realized it will be the Google's second such facility in Asia and the seventh globally. Here below are some interesting facts about Google Data Servers or Server Farms that I filtered from Wikipedia
  • The exact size and whereabouts of the data centers Google uses are unknown, and official figures remain intentionally vague.
  • Google maintains an estimated 450,000 servers, arranged in racks located in clusters in cities around the world, with major centers in Mountain View, California; Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; Dublin, Ireland; and a new facility constructed in 2006 in The Dalles, Oregon.
  • Servers are commodity-class x86 PCs running customized versions of GNU/Linux.
  • Over 250,000 servers ranging from 533 MHz Intel Celeron to dual 1.4 GHz Intel Pentium III (as of 2005)
  • One or more 80GB hard disk per server (2003)
  • 2–4 GiB memory per machine (2004)
  • Estimates of the power required for over 250,000 servers range upwards of 20 megawatts, which could cost on the order of 1-2 million $US per month in electricity charges.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

India's Biggest BlogCamp at Chennai

With the first round of blog camps or (barcamps as they are called more generically) in India ending up, Chennai is about to host the biggest blog camp come this September. Playing host to the 2 day show on the 9th and 10th of September is the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Chennai. is touted to be India's biggest and most comprehensive event that would have exclusive tracks for blogging, podcasting and videocasting.

The whole basis of a blogcamp is the idea that "The expertise of the speaker is lesser than the collective expertise of the audience" This implies, you need to be a participant to attend. You can give sessions, help out with the organizing etc. Most importantly must share the spirit of the BlogCamp learn and share.

To get an idea of how things have been at previous blog camps, here's Amit giving a overview of how the Bangalore BarCamp that was held at Yahoo campus, Bangalore on April 22, 2006.

The topics at Chennai's BlogCamp too have a diverse touch and cover some interesting topics like Branding via Blogs, Professional Blogging, How to Conduct Podcast Interviews: Lessons Learnt, Podcasting As A Hobby, How to set up a videoblog in one day and much more. The blogcamp will be a trailblazer in many ways for the Indian blogosphere.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

India IT News Capsule - Aug 2006, Issue 2

  • R Systems to increase India headcount: R Systems International Ltd, provider of outsourced product development and customer support services, is now planning to up its India headcount to 2000+ by the end of 2007. The company currently employees a total of 1,350 people in its three centers in Noida, Chennai and Pune. R Systems was also in the news recently for its acquisition of the US based WebConverse, which is in tech support and specializes in mobility applications, for $10.7 million.
  • HCL turns 30 years old today: Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL), a global technology and IT enterprise, turns 30 today. Another of the "garage IT start ups" in India that had its beginnings in 1976. Today HCL runs Northern Ireland's largest BPO operation, manages the network for Asia's largest stock exchange network; designs zero visibility landing systems for aircrafts. Today it offers R&D and Technology Services, Enterprise and Applications Consulting, Remote Infrastructure Management, BPO services, IT Hardware, Systems Integration and Distribution of technology and telecom products in India.
  • Wipro eyeing acquisitions in China: India's third-largest software services exporter, Wipro Limited is eyeing more foreign acquisitions to accelerate growth and plans to expand operations in China. With six acquisitions world wide since December 2005, the company has leveraged on these acquisitions ranging between $20 million and $50 million to expand rapidly in Europe. A similar plan might be on the anvil to expand in China.
  • Indian inventions drawing interest from US UK and Netherlands: Middlemen from Europe and the US are showing up in insular government laboratories and have already sealed the first multi-million-dollar deals -- on a diverse variety of scientific advances -- to sell Indian ideas to global clients. Scientists at Pune's CSIR - Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are facing a barrage of queries form agents in the US, the UK and the Netherlands. This has prompted them to formulate an aggressive patent strategy to be modeled across the 38 laboratories of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) across India.
  • 93% Indian netizens recommend online shopping: A recent study by Internet and Mobile Association of India has revealed that 93 per cent of online shoppers are happy with their experience and recommend that others also join the community. About 52% of the 1240 respondents of the survey however opined that caution must always be exercised including detailed follow up of reviews of the product and seller.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

For India the Bell Tolls...

Monday, July 31st will go down in the history of corporate revolutions, the globe over, as the day when the business world celebrated officially the ascension of India Inc. to take a spot of pride and envy in the world's corporate circles. It will marked as the day that the mighty Indian elephant started its cosmic dance that would see Indian companies going global and conquering new frontiers like never before. The day was marked truly by a momentous occasion that heralded all these changes. It was the day that Infosys rang the NASDAQ opening bell remotely from Mysore, India.

The event marked the first time that The NASDAQ Stock Market was opened by a company in India. Broadcast live from the Infosys campus in Mysore, India to NASDAQ's MarketSite tower in Times Square, New York City, the opening signaled that the world is increasingly flattening and that India is part of the global economic community. Infosys was the first Indian company to be listed on the NASDAQ in 1999.

The Opening Bell is a ceremonial event that represents The NASDAQ Stock Market's virtual market model. As a result, NASDAQ can be opened from any location bringing together investors and market participants from around the world to mark the beginning of the trading day.

The event also marked the 25th anniversary of Infosys. In a news story published in its Technology section, USA Today has described Infosys as India’s most admired and best-known global brand. The news story traces Infosys’ history through seminal moments in the company’s 25-year history and salutes the vision of Infosys’ founders.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Do Not Call Law

It had been hardly 24 hours since I got my new mobile number. I was yet to let my near and dear ones know about my new number when the mobile handset started ringing. I was astonished. Expecting it to be the telecom company, I answered the call. Lo ! It was from a reputed bank's representative who was soliciting me to go for a new credit card. The first question that ran across my mind was, "How in the world did he get my number when I had not revealed it to single soul?".

Past bitter experiences with such representatives had mind was prejudiced against them. I plain loathed them. I recomposed myself and told him in as much a calm voice as I could muster that I had enough cards for 3 generations of my family and that I did not want more. He persisted, "But Sir, this is a platinum card and ...". I cut him short, "...and I can spend more and turn bankrupt faster, is it?". A long silence ensued. Before he could recover, I continued, "Tell me one thing, my dear man, How did you get my number?". He blabbered the corporate classic line, "I can't reveal that, Sir. It's against company policy". Uttering a quick thank you , he hurriedly dropped the line. I was left all high and dry.

As I was wondering for the rest of the day on what channels are available for these direct service advertising and soliciting companies to procure mobile numbers, I started suspecting a nexus between the mobile companies and these solicitors. Some research on the Internet revealed similar nexus that existed between a telecom company called Nexus in UK and telephone scammers.

As my thoughts veered into how such scammers or spamsters could be stopped, I was reminded of a strategy that was in place in the USA. When people buy mobile phones, they can selectively request to be placed on a "Do Not Call" (DNC) list of companies from whom they do not wish to get solicitation calls.
What this effectively does is put the onus on companies to cross check numbers supplied by mobile companies against their "Do Not Call" lists to decide if they can or cannot make a call to that number. Any accidental call to a DNC listed number immediately grants the mobile owner the liberty to pull the company to court and sue them for a few million dollars.

At the rate at which people are getting solicitation calls, I presume that it won't be late that the government decides on implementing a similar DNC system in India with hefty penalties associated for trespassing DNC number. To hasten the government's will in that direction, I am pleading the good lord to let the companies make more of such calls to me and my country brethren.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ultra Rapid IT Growth has its Pitfalls

The Economic Times speaks of the Andhra government giving land to select IT companies that show the promise of greater employment opportunities. Smaller IT fry have been shown the door when they requested for land to set up IT centers.

Land at Cyberabad, the IT capital of Andhra Pradesh state is scare to come by and is turning into a very precious commodity. What this means is that the government wants only Fortune 500 companies which easily boast of Rs. 50 crore (5 million rupees) in investment consistently for the past three years and promise employment for at least 1000 to 1500 workers are being given the red-carpet welcome.

Small scale companies and would be entrepreneurs are crying hoarse on the matter. Says Moschip Semiconductor chairman K Ramachandra Reddy that he was asked to set his company 50 km away from the capital when he approached the state government for land.

Moldtek managing director has a similar story that speaks of his request for land being turned down as his company which is a KPO dealing with engineering design could not show the necessary headcount. He adds that since the company does high end niche work, having more hands does not help, rather skilled hands does.

Infosys on the other hand secured 550 acres of land at cheap prices.

While the government might be reaping the immediate benefits of such a policy, the Andhra government should realise sooner than later that the unbalanced nature of this policy might prevent startups from taking wing in the state.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

India IT News Capsule - Aug 2006, Issue 1

  • BCCI to have its own website: Board of Control for Cricket in India, the world's richest sporting body has decided to have its own website at last. Competing for the website design and hosting rights are TCS partnering with Microsoft and TCN, THe Cricket Network partnering with Sun Microsystems and Wipro. The winner is to be announced on August 14 this year.
  • Government to provide G2B portal for investors: With an eye on facilitating easy communication and service linkage to foreign and domestic investors, the government of India is planning to launch a government-to-business (G-2-B) portal. Spear headed by C-DAC, Pune, the Government-2-Business portal would provide investor hassle free information from a spectrum of government departments and also do away with red-tapism and bureaucracy. The move is part of the Rs. 23,000 crore National e-governance plan (NeGP) initiative announced by the United Front government earlier this year.
  • US graduates in Infosys Global Talent Program: Infosys has hired 126 US graduates under its banner program of Global Talent Program (GTP). These new hires, the largest group of foreign nationals recruited to work in India to date, begin their six-month, customized education program at Infosys' Global Education Center in Mysore, India. The GTP, Infosys' university-level recruiting program outside of India, was created to enhance recruitment efforts to attract the brightest talent in the countries and communities in which Infosys operates.
  • Wells Fargo to open tech center in India: Wells Fargo & Co., the No. 5 U.S. bank, on Tuesday said it plans in the fourth quarter to open a technology facility in Hyderabad, citing a shortage of qualified technical talent in the United States. The move by the San Francisco based bank is aimed to setup a software development center in India by hiring 30-40 people and ramp up to 300 in a year based on requirement.
  • SAP to invest $1 billion in India and double workforce: The world's largest business software maker, SAP, Germany has announced plans to invest $1 billion in India over the next 5 years and double its workforce in the country. About 30 million euros ($38.4 million) would be spent on boosting research and development facilities. SAP will also increase its headcount in India to 3,500 by the end of 2006, from 2,750 now, and double the current number in five years.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Delhi turning e-Waste capital

The Economic Times carried a damning report on Delhi that pointed out that New Delhi, India's capital is very well on its way to becoming the e-waste capital of the country. This sure makes for some chilling news if one goes by the statistics.

  • 900 personal computers and 3,500 TV sets are dismantled in the city every day for reuse of their component parts and materials.
  • Delhi alone gets around 70% of the electronic waste generated in the developed world.
  • Delhi’s e-waste weighs between 10,000 and 12,000 metric tonnes per year.
  • The industry directly employs about 15,000 people in organised recycling units.

Why Delhi of all places in India?

Information from different areas suggest the quite obvious ones

  • Delhi and surrounding areas have a big market for recycled e-waste. E-waste imported into Mumbai and Chennai mostly makes its way to Delhi as there is a ready market for glass and plastic in the NCR.
  • Burning of PVC coated copper wires, gold extraction from computer chips, reuse of glass, plastic or taking out lead from picture tubes; whatever the case, there is a ready market in north India.
E-Waste and its associated problems are the major bane associated with this largely unregulated industry and the cause for concern. This combined with realities like

  • US consumers will get rid of about 10 million old computers, containing toxic mercury and lead, this year. Two-thirds of this will be shipped to Asia for dismantling.
  • About 93 million mobile phone users in India will start junking their outdated or old handsets over the next two-three years.
pose a grim picture if things continue to be this way this industry that exposes the dirty under belly of the IT b

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Tech Saavy Indonesian Friend

I always thought Indian IT or software professionals were among the most tech-obsessive in the world and that included me. That was further supplemented by the fact that Indian bloggers own the most number of tech-blogs on the Internet.

However my whole assumption was given a body blow when I met a certain Mr. Henry (name changed for privacy purposes) at Singapore the other day. He was from Indonesia. He was a self confessed Internet junkie and took interest in anything remotely related to the software or the Internet field. Working for the UN as a Web consultant for past few years, this guy Henry was so obsessive with technology that he had bought himself the latest Nokia model for about 600 Singapore dollars to keep himself connected to the Net at all times. He was extremely knowledgeable in anything technical. So much so that his friend even remarked that he was so involved in surfing that he needed somebody else's help to get the AC he had newly bought for his room. Amazing guy. His room too resembled that of a typical Internet addict with clothes and stuff haphazardly thrown about. Not that there is anything bad about it, but that speaks a lot of how much his attention is taken up by his passion in life : technology. His tech suaveness also came to his aid as he was the most professionally prepared guy during one of the programs we attended together where he not only used the opportunity to introduce himself to other guys but also distributed neat visiting cards so as to ensure he is not one of those "Meet Now - Forget Later" guys you happen to meet at such programs.

Getting to know him was quite a humbling experience because I just realized what extremes tech obsessiveness could take you to. Hats off my friend.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

10 Online Safety Rules for Kids

With Internet becoming more and more a ubiquitous commodity in Indian households, more and more children are adopting to them and the amazing world that it opens all in just a few mouse clicks. 3-4 of my nephews and nieces insist that they have there own e-mail id and be allowed to surf the net and none of them is a older than 6 years. Internet can be a great tool for gathering information and learning though at times children need to be guided by adults on what safety rules they need to follow while online.

SafeKids has come out with a 10 point Internet safety guideline devised for kids worldwide to incorporate into their internet surfing habits. Here below is a gist of the suggested 10 online safety rules.
  1. I will not give out personal information
  2. I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
  3. I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without my parents permission.
  4. I will never send a person my picture online.
  5. I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable.
  6. I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online.
  7. I will not give out my Internet password to anyone (even my best friends) other than my parents.
  8. I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software.
  9. I will be a good online citizen
  10. I will help my parents understand how to have fun and learn things online and teach them things about the Internet, computers and other technology.
BBC too has come out with an article titled "The rise of the cyber-children". The article goes to lengths while discussing what age would be right for a child to go online. Startling revelations like
  • By the age of four, 45% of children have used a mouse to point and click, 27% have used a computer on their own at home
  • Children as young as 18 months are on the courses of computer classes
  • A four year old child being taught basics of Excel spreadsheet.
are sure to make your mind go numb.

While parental and peer pressure, sure are drivers and any amount of hoarse crying by educationists making minimalist difference, the best option would be to educate children about the need to stick to certain ground rules to ensure they have a safe and sound Internet and computer experience.

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