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Showing posts from September, 2010

Will everything be okay tomorrow?

This is the question in minds of gazillion Indians both in India and abroad - offices, homes, streets and cyberspace are full of muted discussions between the calm, quite and most importantly largely secular Indians about the fallout of the Babri Masjid court trial . The Supreme Court cleared the way for the High Court to announce verdict on 30th September 2010 - the date may be seen in future as a historical landmark. People, especially those who remember the 1993 riots which burned the nation for months (after the mosque was demolished by kar sevaks on Dec 16, 1992), are afraid that history may repeat itself - irrespective of the side the verdict takes. There are some optimists also among us - those who think that India has changed. More than 15 years of liberalization, globalization and capitalist mindset has changed the populace which no more cares about religious animosity but is more concerned with progress. Hence, irrespective of the verdict - people will be much more tolerant a

How Google could have saved Wave

Google killed the Wave project on 04th August 2010, while promising to "extend the technology for use in other Google projects". "Wave has not", Google said, "seen the user adoption they would have liked". Wave was an exceptional product, a revolutionary way to look at communication and documentation in today's world. As Lars Rassmusen, one of the brains behind the Wave said Wave was answer to the question - "What would email look like if we set out to invent it today". And it was not just that - wave was: how a word processor would look like if it was invented today; how a calendaring solution would look like if it was redesigned today; how people's text-chat would get logged if it was logged today, and; most importantly, how web-pages / web-apps would communicate with the server if the protocols were defined today. The last bullet is important because Google Wave was not just a jazzy collaboration web-app but a platform in itself. &qu

Intel & Microsoft of mobile phone market

If, for some reason, we make some big mistake and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter a computer Dark Ages for about twenty years. - Steve Job s May be we did enter a dark age, for almost 20 years, no iPod, iPhone or iPad came - no hardware manufacturer or electronics company launched differentiated products which people would aspire to buy, but the price of the PC dwindled over these two decades which in itself lead to a much wider proliferation of the PC. Had the PC remained the high price aspirational device which Apple wanted it to be, probably we would have had lot lesser people with computers in their homes. How did the PC price revolution happen? Apart from the lowering absolute price of hardware components, it happened as a result of breakage of the vertical integration model ( followed by Apple where it facilitates all aspects of its hardware and creates its own operating system that is pre-installed on all its computers). Today's PC market is fi

India Urbanising: A different Perspective (Part III)

Continued from Part II Having said that India needs to extend the reach of urban amenities like roads, electricity, cooking gas, safe drinking water (and education and internet) to the countryside, there is one major cog missing in the wheel – the pull for the above amenities in rural India. The need for high quality infrastructure in cities gets created by higher productivity and resultant income levels, the same applies to villages as well. In most western nations where villages too have a much better standard of living are those where people in villages have earnings comparable to their city counterparts. In the west the low population density necessitated high productivity in rural activities such as farming or animal husbandry. Thus as an outcome farms were mechanized and villages developed. However, this is not true of a high population density country like India – even today employing 10 labourers in the farm is cheaper than buying a mere tractor. Farmland in India is e

India Urbanising: A different Perspective (Part II)

Continued from Part I ' Mamata wants to turn Kolkata into London ' - screamed the headline on some days ago. Turning Kolkata into London is definitely a worthy goal - London is one of the most livable cities in the world. However, while the creation of (present day) London was in itself challenging, doing the same in India is even more challenging. Let’s investigate Indian urbanization strategy in a more logical manner by identifying the challenges which India faces today. India’s urbanization effort is challenged by 3 obstacles: A unique combination of large population with high population density never before encountered (in the parts of the world which have been fully urbanized) An existing landscape formed during different periods of history Large sections of populations who have never been exposed to an urban landscape Lack of existing institutions Of these only the last one had been encountered in countries which have previously attempted urbanization, and the

India Urbanising: A different Perspective

I recently went on a religious tour to Tulzapur via Solapur and then to our ancestral temple in Narsinghpur, near Pune. On way I also visited our ancestral village Indapur 150 kms from Pune. While old Indapur still remains a village with roads just about wide to allow cycle rickshaws run through them, I was astounded to see the newly developed areas of Indapur which were no less than private colonies in Teir 2/3 cities in India. Having read Mckinsey’s India urbanization report just a day before my travel, Indapur’s development opened a new chain of thoughts in my mind. Most urbanization studies about the developing world relate to urbanization as development of new cities or improvement of urban infrastructure (like mass transit, arterial roads, flyovers etc) in existing cities. For example McKinsey’s recent research titled “India’s urban awakening: Building inclusive cities, sustaining economic growth” [ 1 ] highlights the need for India to develop 19 clusters of cities (Page 150); i