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Showing posts from April, 2008

Cities in India – Part III

In this Series: Part I , Part II Today whether you visit Mumbai or Dehradun the same scene awaits you – traffic bursting from the seams, lack of amenities, overcrowded public transport (whether it is the Mumbai local, the tempo in Dehradun or shared-rickshaw in Vadodara). Why has this happened? Clearly, we have never looked at our cities in a scientific and organized fashion, our cities emerged just like other countries, as centres of trade. However, cities which should have evolved gradually underwent destruction and a military set-up was imposed on them. Today are imposing a commercial infrastructure over the same military set-up creating a further confused landscape on one hand and choking the amenities and resources on the other. What can we do to solve these problems? I have few thoughts in mind: Macro level We should de-congest existing cities by shifting out industries from them to newer, better planned cities (for example the way industries were moved from Mumbai to

Cities in India – Part II

While it is well known that the British came to India under the pretext of trade, beyond a brief period of 15 years (1757-1773), the British government assumed full control over the system. To maintain their rule, British needed to control the masses, zamindars and the local kings – and for this they needed the army to be strong. So on one hand they developed infrastructure like the railways (for speedy movement of troops), on the other hand they imposed a military set-up on the major cities in India. And thus emerged cities like Dehradun, Jabalpur, Bangalore, Poona etc - as military cantonments rather than centers of trade. These cities were also built as typical British towns – a town center, a clock tower and a Sadar bazaar being some commonalities you would find in all these towns. These towns grew further through the early years of independence thanks to the militarily charged atmosphere (due to the Cold War, Indo-Pak, Indo-China wars etc) thus maintaining the status of military a

Thoughts on a sojourn : Cities in India – Part I

I have been travelling in the past week – from Mumbai, to Baroda to Delhi, to Dehradoon and Mussourie and back. It has been a great experience, but even more it has been a thought provoking travel through the metros, small and smaller cities and via towns as well. It is wonderful to explore India because there is so much hidden beneath the quotidian activities in Indian cities - most Indian cities, however small or big have centuries old history behind them. They have grown, destroyed and rebuilt so many times and yet some element of past is still visible in them even today. While travelling to and through these cities some thoughts emerged in my mind about the way these cities have come into the current state – I am detailing them below. Long before the British or the Mughals marched into India, the region had developed mature political and administrative systems. More so, irrespective of whether there was one national ruler (ex. Ashoka or Akbar) or the rule was shared by regional sat

IT under recession??

Yesterday I got an email from acquaitance with a request to help someone related to him with a job. His email said that the said relation of his "working in [an] IT firm was laid off due to recession". I am suprised that IT'Cos have started laying off people citing reasons of "recession" because the recession is still to come. I suspect this is the case of the company trying to lay-off people from unprofitable projects (which is a routine process in IT'Cos) under the pretext of recession. However, there is no denying that effects have started showing already on the IT industry of a eminent slowdown. This overall points to a direction that companies which have been traditionally relying on a pure "Services model" (read: Maintenance services) will increasingly find it tough to survive. The age has arrived for product based companies to take a lead. SaaS companies will be also able to make it big now owing to the suitability of their Business Model f

Requirements Gathering: Boon or Bane?

Some time back I had written on how so many banks use IT Applications as electronic record keeping books. Today, I read an article by Paul Glen* titled Project Managers: Stop "gathering" IT requirements . It seems to be pointing to the same problem but some another angle. What Paul says is probably the root cause of - what I had mentioned - why IT fails to deliver competitive advantage to users; I quote: Requirements don't exist out in the ether just waiting to be discovered. They aren't out there whole and finished. Clients and users aren't playing an expensive game of hide-and-seek with us. Usually, the clients' pockets are empty. Most of the time, they don't exactly know what they require. And even if they do, it's in the form of incomplete and inconsistent ideas that can be only partially articulated. Projects rarely start out with clear objectives or requirements; they begin in confusion and ambiguity. While Paul blames the IT organization for th

Bus driver & school kids

Good story By: Gautam Soman It was morning time, around 9-9:30 AM. Volvo was rushing towards Nagpur. I sat just behind the driver, and out through the windshield, saw a group of kids on their way to school. They were perspiring from the heat. Suddenly the bus stopped. Driver motioned for the kids to get in. About half a dozen chirpy birds crowded the cabin. On the way, driver asked them a few questions. The kids were a talkative lot and informed that they were on their way to give the final exams, they had English paper that day and that it was "layi bhaari paper". It was clear they had found themselves in an air-conditioned bus like Volvo for the first time and were greatly enamoured. I had an unopened pack of biscuits, which I gave them. They distributed it among themselves and ate it heartily. A couple of kilometers later, ... we reached their destination, the school. As they got down, the driver told them, "Study well. If you don't, you will become a dr