Posts Tagged ‘India’

Should India’s IT industry offer to help?

December 14, 2008

Reports say that the Mumbai police were just out-equipped and prepared by the November attackers. The attackers were in the 21st century, plus their willingness to be extremely aggressive, completely indiscriminate in who they killed, and in the end, to die. The Mumbai police and even India’s special forces are stuck somewhere in the 20th century. The police appear to have little or no experience with modern technologies such as GPS, e-mail or even mobile phones. They are at bottom, very poorly funded and can’t afford the training or the technology. Very ironic for a country that sees itself as being an IT power, if not already or right on track to be the world’s leading IT power. 

Could India’s IT industry help fund and equip the police with state-of-the-art technology? The UK has offered -help to India on better preparing it counter-terrorism efforts. A lot of people in India have hangups about their former colonial master, they may find it humiliating to take such aid. But couldn’t the Indian IT companies, that provide cybersecurity services (and hold or manage much of the West’s sensitive corporate data) help out themselves and along with some external consulting?

Moon over Mumbai

October 21, 2008

India will launch a lunar probe tomorrow in a bid to keep with China in the new Asian space race, which also features Japan and South Korea as contestants. At stake — national pride and billions of rupees or euros or yuan (will we speaking of dollars in the future??) in space businesses such as satellite launches. Satellite launches will become commoditized with NASA needing to outsource its lift capability the same way US corporations outsource database administration. 

The Chandrayaan-1 mission is aimed at high-resolution remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared(NIR), low energy X-rays and high-energy X-ray regions. Specifically the objectives will be
 
To prepare a three-dimensional atlas (with a high spatial and altitude resolution of 5-10m) of both near and far side of the moon.
   
To conduct chemical and mineralogical mapping of the entire lunar surface for distribution of elements such as Magnesium, Aluminum, Silicon, Calcium, Iron and Titanium with a spatial resolution of about 25 km and high atomic number elements such as Radon, Uranium & Thorium with a spatial resolution of about 20 km.
   
Click here to large view
 
Simultaneous photo geological and chemical mapping will enable identification of different geological units, which will test the early evolutionary history of the moon and help in determining the nature and stratigraphy of the lunar crust.

 

On the criteria of price, India has proven so far to be the low cost leader in lunar probes:

If successful, India joins the Asian powers China and Japan, which have already undertaken their own lunar missions.

But it’s doing it at a fraction of the cost – $80m compared to China’s $187m lunar probe launched last year and Japan’s $480m Kayuga mission.

And with a much smaller budget than NASA with arguably better results for the cash lately

Its budget is less than $1bn a year, compared with more than $17bn that Nasa spends. India’s remote sensing capabilities are almost legendary. Today there are seven Indian-made and operated remote sensing satellites in orbit, the largest number of any country in the civilian domain.

Can this translate in part to a higher standard of living for the Indian people? Looks like other flags will be joining Old Glory on the Moon in coming decades.

Foreigners taking Bollywood jobs, look better than locals?

October 5, 2008

Just as IT workers in the US and the West complain about cheap offshore (or onshore) Indian labor, Indians working in the Bollywood are complaining about foreigners (from the article, sounds like mostly Westerners) taking their jobs:

“Producers bring in foreign extras and junior artistes because they look nicer, and our people lose out on their jobs,” said Dharmesh Tiwari, general secretary of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees, the umbrella union for Bollywood employees.

A three-day strike by more than 100,000 junior artistes and workers affiliated to the FWICE was called off late on Friday, after four producers’ bodies promised timely payment and proper recruitment of extras.

The response from the Bollywood bosses? Would sound quite familiar to IT people in the US:

“We have an agreement with the FWICE that if they cannot provide us with the required artistes we can hire from outside and that is exactly what producers are doing,” said T. P. Agarwal of producers body Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPAA).

The locals don’t havce the skills or whatnot, so you have to bring in people from outside. Meanwhile, the global financial crisis is hitting Bollywood too.

Palin meets Indian PM Singh

September 25, 2008

Here’s a photo of one world leader meeting a possibly future world leader, courtesy of the Indian Embassy in Washington. What do you think they discussed? Outsourcing, Pakistan, nuclear weapons technology? A photo gallery of Dr. Singh’s visit to America is here.

The proletariat is rising up, in India

September 23, 2008

In response to being laid off from their jobs at an Indian car parts company, the suddenly unemployed workers beat the CEO to death. More than 60 were arrested in connection to the crime.

A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said: “Such a heinous act is bound to sully India’s image among overseas investors.”

The murder has stoked fears that outbreaks of mob rule risk jeopardising the subcontinent’s economic rise.

In the most high-profile incident so far, thousands of violent protestors recently forced Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns Land Rover and Jaguar, to halt work on the plant being built to produce the world’s cheapest car – the £1,250 Nano. The move could result in nearly £200 million in investment written off.

Indian offshoring company laying off 1,000s

September 16, 2008

Satyam is laying off 3,000 employees in India according to this post. Wonder if this is an omen of bad tidings in the IT offshoring industry. Another 1,500 employees face the boot:

This translates to a little less than 9% of the 51,000 employees that the company employs. Company sources say 1,500 employees have been put under the performance improvement plan (PIP), euphemism for employees put on watch list and asked to shape up or ship out. Apart from this, 3,000 others have not been given any increment in the last appraisal cycle, thereby indicating that their services are dispensable.

PIP – performance improvement plans. I think America invented these, General Electric especially noteworthy for tossing out people who didn’t cut the mustard on their plan ratings.

However, even if you are one of the unlucky ones to be PIP’d, you have to look presentable at the office:

On Friday, all employees received an e-mail from the company chief Ramalinga Raju warning them, especially the ones on the bench, to not bunk office and be in their best dress code, failing which they may face strict disciplinary action.

Interesting items from the article. Employees under poor performance watch are given dummy projects to prove themselves on??

A Satyam spokesperson said: “The bottom 5% of those who have got a bad appraisal are put under PIP and given dummy projects to prove themselves. If they fail they will be shown the door. But some of them marked for PIP said they have been given very little time to come up as winners.” However, even as it downsizes, Satyam continues to hire new employees in thousands. Over 40% of them are fresh blood just passing out of college.

Is this a revolving door of people, those going out who cost too much and don’t have freshly minted skills from school, and new hires going in. 

The spectre of retrenchment is creating panic among employees of the company. “Of the 12 people working in my project, five were suddenly asked to resign, failing which, the company warned, it would fire us. Everything came without warning,” said a techie pleading anonymity.

They are asked to resign, but would be fired if they refused to resign. There is a difference in India? What do you get if you resign. Here if you resign or are fired, you are supposed to be denied unemployment benefits. Is it a face saving thing?

Desis spell better than other Americans

June 17, 2008

Apparently South Asians (Desis) are doing exceptionally well at the classic American institution known as the spelling bee. The English language is very difficult to learn because it is so inconsistent. Spelling is especially difficult because you pretty much need to memorize (memorise) the way a word is spelt (spelled) ,and the spelling of a word varies from country to country.

I don’t know if this is yet another sign of rise of the Desi generation in America. Louisiana decided that it needed the state over to a 30-something Desi. A lot of companies (Pepsi, Citigroup) have Desi CEOs. Disney is shooting a pseudo-Bollywood teen movie. When I see kheer flavored ice cream at Baskin Robbins I’ll know the rise is nearly complete.

Anyway, Desis won’t be coming up due to spelling. That’s because spelling is overrated. It is being replaced by shortcuts, acronyms and symbols, LOL.

 

 

Trickle down theory not working in India

June 10, 2008

While “trickle down theory” hasn’t received wide appeal in India, you could make the case that it isn’t appropriate with what’s happening. From the land of the man who owns a billion dollar house, and other moguls (especially appropriate term!) According to the BBC, About 60% children in Madhya Pradesh state are malnourished.

“In the past year food prices have increased significantly, but people’s incomes haven’t improved,” says Dr Agarwal. “Like wheat, earlier they used to buy it at eight rupees a kilogram, now it’s 12 rupees.”

Children wait for a meal outside an Anganwadi centre in Chitori Khurda

“Because of the increase in food prices a mother cannot buy an adequate quantity of milk, fruits and vegetables. So their staple diet has become wheat chapattis,” she explains.

“A child cannot survive on wheat chapattis alone. About 80% of mothers and children are anaemic because they can’t get good quality food.”

To see why things are so bad, we headed out into the villages around Shivpuri. The drought zone stretches across this part of central India. The land is parched and barren. The air hot and heavy.

The village of Chitori Khurda is a ramshackle collection of 80 stone and mud huts on a rocky plain. The villagers here come from the bottom rung of India’s social scale.

Among the lowest of the low in India’s caste system are the Scheduled Tribes, just above them come the Other Backward Castes.

Some links:

Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project (MPRLP)

Government understates poverty rate

India: Madhya Pradesh lags in Millennium Development Goals

 

 

Curry westerns?

May 28, 2008

 Vinod Chopra  is set to make a movie in New Mexico:

Chopra’s Broken Horses, with a screenplay based on an original story by Chopra himself, is the work of several award-winning writers including Abhijat Joshi (Lage Raho Munnabhai, Eklavya and 64 Squares) and Jason Richman (Bangkok Dangerous, Swing Vote) and legendary BAFTA winner and Academy Award nominated screenwriter and executive producer, Nick Pileggi as script consultant (Goodfellas, Casino and American Gangster). Chopra has recently returned from script and development meetings in Los Angeles and scouting locations in New Mexico…

I can’t find anywhere on the Net what the plot of the movie is. It has a Western filming location, and a Western name, so maybe it’s a Western.

Vinod Chopra Films and Reliance Big Entertainment have inked a multiple film production deal to co-produce feature films over the next three years.

Reliance Big Entertainment , owned by Anil Ambani (one of the world’s richest men), counts George Soros as an investor. RBE, as its name suggests, has some big plans :

Indeed, this trend is being fuelled by the international ambitions of cash-rich Bollywood production and world distribution sector players.

RBE has swung development deals with companies owned by Hollywood stars Nicholas Cage, Brad Pitt, Jim Carey, Tom Hanks and George Clooney.

These strategic partnerships, says RBE’s creative consultant Prasoon Joshi, could in the long run yield "Hollywood films with Indian stories".

100,000 farmer suicides?

April 7, 2008

I read this article on India’s current budget woes, and the article mentions more than 100,000 farmers’ suicides . Obviously the agriculture sector isn’t benefiting from the tech boom. Apparently loan debt is a leading cause. Apparently no subprime loan bailouts for Indian farmers. Official figures say "According to the National Crime Records Bureau, at least 87,567 farmers committed suicide between 2002 and 2006."

Blame the Green Revolution ? One of the great food production success stories of all time that garnered a Nobel Prize  for its father ? Well, it was too good for rural farmers. Farmers had to borrow money to buy chemicals and seeds. "The changes caused higher operating costs and production that created a market glut exceeding demand at home and abroad. To remain in business, many farmers were forced to take out loans at high interest rates. Once credit had been exhausted, they turned to private lenders, who charged even more exorbitant interest rates."

Also blame US farm subsidies and biotech companies . "As the world’s largest cotton producer, the United States provides massive subsidies that allow American farmers to undercut overseas competition by selling at an artificially low cost. Moreover, many Indian farmers are now using genetically engineered Bt cotton seeds made by U.S.-based Monsanto Co., which produce higher yields. The seeds and fertilizer, however, must be bought each year, costing farmers thousands of dollars."

I doubt this is a US and Indian elite engineered plot  to reduce world population levels, if anything because the Iraq example shows that we aren’t that good. There is a plan to help bail out the farmers with a $15 billion rescue package, but it only helps the ‘middle class’ of farmers, since "excluding farmers with more than five acres, it leaves out those who are most at risk. "

"While well intentioned , the new budget’s lavish loan forgiveness scheme will not help those farmers who most need relief: 80 percent of India’s farmers have no access to formal credit, and it is bank loans that are to be forgiven. Moreover, since farmers who do have access to formal credit will have less incentive to repay their loans, banks will become more reluctant to lend to any farmers at all."