Sunday, October 30, 2005



We live in a democratic world where the fourth estate enjoys unlimited freedom. In many cases, it is the press that decides key events of the state. And without the media we wouldnt be where we are today.

However, as with all the competition at every place, press is a very very cut-throat competitive world and it is essential for every mediaperson to pull the necessary stunt that grabs audience to his/her story. For a news is a static fact and it is only the time & presentation of the presenter that builds or collapses a network. And to win in this competiton, media resorts to every possible methodology, sometimes going overboard.I got agitated in the morning when I visited the Rediff India Abroad, a really wonderful NRI website that I alongwith millions of others visit regularly. The reason was that the headline blasted Delhi blasts toll is 59,200 injured. For a moment it appeared as if the death toll was actually 59,200. Unable to believe this, I clicked on the main story, where the headline still remained the same. Only then I looked at the cleverly placed comma between 59 and 200 - which was actually stating that the death toll was 59 and the injured numbered to 200. I breathed a sigh of relief that it was not what I had dreaded the numbers to be.

A few minutes later, Raman pinged me and said that he had also mistaken the headline the same way I had. I realized that it was not just me who made the mistake. Rediff could have rephrased the headline in many other ways so that it could have given the clear message. To start with, they could have had a semicolon instead of the comma !! I got super pissed and logged into Rediff and blasted the lousy headline on their comments section - for it was misleading and a stupid attempt to grab attention over a incident that was horrible and killed people. And for all the claim that the press/media makes about freedom of speech and writing, Rediff hasnt published my comment until now.

The press should stop making such lousy and manipulative attention grabbers over incidents that have caused pain and anguish. Rediff is not the isolated one on this of course - each and ever media center from Sun TV to Indian Express to all these American news networks do this dramatization of incidents to climb on their viewership ratings. They should stop making catchy headlines on sensitive incidents that have punctured the lives of hundreds of fellow human beings.

Rediff - unimpressive, unprofessional, bad taste and cheap-publicity.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

gaudy comment by gowda


So Deve Gowda opened his mouth and we saw a typical IT professional reaction from NR Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor of Infosys.

As I always keep saying Narayana Murthy is the "Gandhi for Indian IT". Coming from a very simple background and a strong belief in socialism, Murthy had built the Indian IT giant Infosys almost entirely on his own skill, acumen and confidence. Inspite of all his success, his "father of Indian IT services" status, multi million dollars locked up in his bank accounts, controlling a staff of over 50,000, meeting heads of state of almost every country in the world - the man still leads a simple life, trying to help the society in whatever way he can - thus being a perfect role model for the IT youngsters who havent found an ideal politician whom they could emulate.

The stories of Murthy's simplicity are popular everywhere. It is said that when his son at college was asked what his father does for a living, he simply replied - "My father's name is Murthy. He works for Infosys.". Infosys and Murthy have taken very good care and precaution not only to do a brand building for the company Infosys, but also image building for the Chairman - Narayana Murthy as well. After all, amongst Tatas, Wipros, Satyams, HCLs who were born with silver spoons already - Murthy was the only man to have risen from the ground.

While Chandrababu Naidu was trying to steer his Titanic in the Indian IT wave late 90s with help of Satyam Computer founders (the Byrrajus), Microsoft and Oracle, erstwhile Chief Minister of Karnataka SM Krishna rode the wave primarily with support from Narayana Murthy. When it was felt that IT customers were moving away from the Indian silicon valley - Bangalore- to other destinations like Hyderabad and Chennai, it was primarily Infosys that stuck it out to try & retain the glory back. SM Krishna did a pretty good job at his state to the satisfaction of Madam Sonia and was promptly rewarded with the governorship of Maharashtra.

To his part, Narayana Murthy, who became the towering personality & a symbol of Indian IT early 2000s, he started representing the country in several sectors where there was a win-win for both the state/nation and IT as well. Narayana Murthy had long crossed the borders of just being the Chairman of Infosys and became the equivalent of Gandhi for Indian IT world. And one such project where his leadership was expected was in the BIAL - the Bangalore Intl Airport Limited.

HD Deve Gowda (and I keep forgetting which party he belongs to every time- I wonder if he remembers) of JD(S) and Dharam Singh formed a opportunistic coalition and been running the state with SM Krishna, who declares himself as the man who saved the Karnataka Congress, butting in as much as he can inspite of his constitutional post. Deve Gowda has been leveling charges against Krishna trying destabilize the Dharam Singh government and the comment against Murthy is one of such attacks.

To his credit, Murthy, a typical IT person, with no taste for government bureaucracies, redtape and having a no-nonsense attitude reacted the same way Gowda expected him to do. Murthy resigned right away blasting Deve Gowda and the Karnataka state govt.
I wish he had asked me personally before going to the press, or talked to you or ascertained it from members of the board. I am disappointed that a former prime minister did not accord me this basic courtesy.

I am pained, more so, that leaders in the government like you did not even clarify my role in the company and the work that has been done. I have spent enormous amount of time and energy in interacting with the government in New Delhi and the government here to make this work. The records prove themselves.

Gowda did not stop here and went on accusing Infosys as a company questioning what values it bought to the state after amassing so much of land in and around Bangalore. Infosys retorted strongly with lots of data on the employment opportunities etc., Dharam Singh persuaded Murthy to stay back at BIAL stating that Murthy was a key person in Indian IT - note that not once has the chief minister complimented any work done in the BIAL by the Infosys chairman. A frustrated Murthy was even more pissed and refused the offer.

Perhaps Murthy does not understand. He is dealing with politicians. And that too politicians like Deve Gowda who survive in this world inspite of being themselves. These are people who play with real people as pawns on the political chessboard. Murthy was just one pawn. How can a pawn gain more power than the queen ? Murthy's personality is so threatening to several parties already that there is a long queue of leaders outside his house to rope him in with one of their parties. In the world of youth, people remember HD Deve Gowda as the man who slept in public meetings on stage and not even as a former prime minister. On the other side Narayana Murthy is being virtually worshipped and is more powerful than several Chief Ministers themselves.

It was just a political attack and not a personal one on Mr.Murthy. When he volunteers himself in this part of the world, he has to stay put. His leaving BIAL will benefit no one. While an angry outburst is not unwarranted or unexpected from him, he cant run away from this. He will face hardships - that is the way these things go - and this man of all is not a man who shuns challenges. India needs volunteers & visionaries like him. Sometimes we have to put up with crap, but so be it - every visionary had to. Deve Gowda and people of his sort have to be ignored. They have lost grounds and are barking with no purpose.

Havent we heard a gazillion times Winners never quit and Quitters never win ?.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

formula one finale


[the discussions surrounding the previous post on IT unions was very enriching and interesting. thanks to all]

Iam writing this just few hours ahead of the final Formula One race of the season at Shanghai, China. The year 2005 has been very exciting filled with wonderful races and good surprises. It also saw some good engines put to test as well as a bunch of rookie drivers who tried to impress this part of the racing world.

While the driver championship is already decided in favor of Fernando Alonso, the young Spaniard - who is now the youngest F1 champion of the word, the constructor championships is in for a great showdown in Shanghai tonight. Renault leads the McLaren-Mercedes by just over 2 points. Though Renault made a suprise 1-2 pole at Shanghai, McLaren is at 3-5 and with the powerful Merc engines, it is almost a certainity that the race will be a very very close one. The Ferrari monopoly of wins has been paused and we can look forward to Ferrari to bounce back in 2006 strongly.

The year began with Renault dominating the initial races and Mercedes proving unreliable several times. Excellent driving instinct, good luck and unreliable McLaren made Alonso the World Champion, inspite of Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren winning 7 championships as opposed to Alonso's 6. This is the second time Kimi has come too close to clinch the driver's championship.. remember the 2 point close a couple of years back ?! We witnessed the terrific San Marino where Alonso held Schumacher at bay for over 13 laps; and the thrilling Suzuka where Kimi came all the way from the last position at start to win the race.

This year also had the disastrous anti-climax at Indianapolis Speedway where 7 Michelin teams pulled out of the race due to unsafe conditions. I had been to watch this 6 car tamasha on the road which showed the only Ferrari win so far. Speaking of Michelin, they have dominated this space by clinching both driver and constructor championships already.

With regards to India, they key episode was the induction of Narain Karthikeyan into the Jordan F1 team. Narain did not do phenomenally well, though he managed to pick up free points at Indy. His teammate and fellow rookie Tiago Montiero made a record 16 continious completions, a feat equalled only by Michael Schumacher (though Schumi finished all in podiums!).

2005 also was a let down for Ferrari, with Schumi winning only one free race and Reubens Barichello deciding to switch sides to Honda a year early. Fellippe Massa will be the No.2 for Schumi at Ferrari in the next season.

This season also had interesting twists in terms of drivers - with Jenson Button finally winning over Frank Williams bid to take him over again. Button will now race alongwith Barichello at Honda. This signals the good bye for Japanese driver Takuma Sato who has had a disastrous season, much to the anger of Japanese fans. Honda has agreed to supply v8 engines to the team that picks Sato to race. We also witnessed the interesting takeover of BMW-Williams, to be called Sauber from now; the selling of BAR shares fully to Honda; the rumor of McLaren giving away their hold fully to Mercedes; the sale of Jordan to Midland. However in my view, the takeover of the season is the purchase of Minardi by Red Bull Racing. RBR is a very successful company in terms of extreme sport investments and it remains to be seen how the 2 team strategy will work out for them in F1.

While Juan Pablo, Fisichella, Klein, Barichello, Massa, Pizzonia had typical seasons, it was a let down by Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli of Panasonic-Toyota Racing who could have done better, atleast in Suzuka, Japan. However Toyota's presence is being felt strongly in any case. Similarly the Williams team had a bad run with Weber finishing over 150 grand prix without a win. Jack Villenvue was as usual unforgiving and had his own tussles with a bunch of racing counterparts, acting almost like a vote-splitter in a election, changing the course of few results.

As I sit biting my nails to see who will hold the constructor-trophy, it feels happy to recount some of the events of the season as 2005 was a terrific year for Formula One. Great drivers, great engines, great races !!! My favorite Alonso, Michelin, Renault had a great season..And as a diehard F1 fan, I couldnt ask for more :)


Blog update: Alonso won the Shanghai GP, with Kimi finishing second, thereby giving my favorite Renault the constructor championships. Splendid driving by Alonso and Kimi.


Monday, October 10, 2005

does IT need unions ?


Blog Update: Article from ET where NASSCOM says BPO doesnt need any unions. Click here

I was interested in this article that appeared in the rediff a few days ago that asked the question whether today's IT industry workers needed a Union to protect their interests, particularly in India. While all anti-leftists can happily yell on big NO NO NO, it might be worth to see the merits and cons of the claim.

IT workers are the cyber-coolies of the day. Many a time we have heard, seen and experienced sitting for hours together in our little cubicles - sometimes days - without sufficient breaks and definitely no overtime pay. Many a time we have seen impersonal HR sneering at our claims for raise with the conviction that there will always be a young talent in the market willing to offer his services at a much lower pay. Many a time we have sat and wondered through the quarterly result publications wondering where the 240% growth and 80% increase in earnings was going to, because it certainly didnt translate into salaries. Many a time we hear of huge MNCs laying off thousands of workers at one shot and wondering when this disease will strike us down. Many a time we have seen efforts going unrewarded, politics playing the key part in growth etc etc.,

So IT is no different from other industry when it comes to labor issues ? So how is it that of all industries, IT, one of the key factors boosting the economic prospects of India, can exist without any labor laws ? Doesnt the question seem genuine ? Is the IT boom and the industry's workforce being exploited by rich capitalists for their own profit ? After all, arent the workers causing this growth, expansion and contributing to the economic success of the nation ?

Let us flip the question. Isnt it a fact that absence of such labor laws, Unions and other bureaucratic processes make the Indian IT industry the most wanted ? Imagine if we end up having strikes every other day in some software company or BPO, why would any foreign investor decide to put his money & investment at risk ?

However the CITU and other big trade union conglomerates are already onto spread their wings over the one million plus IT workers in the nation. There is already a IT professional forum - - that has over 1000 members, which is unofficially, a trade union. Over a period of time these things will gain strength and become full fledged labor unions.

So what next ? After all the progress that we are making and the big strides and successes of the IT industry in India, any notion of trade unions, labor laws spell DISASTER. As we have seen in the past, while there have been genuine reasons why unions have been formed, more often than not, they disrupt normal & smooth functioning of factories and industries causing not only blows to economy but to the laborers as well. Furthermore, unions exist to protect the interests of the lower middle class and average and poor workers who may go hungry if they are shown the door abruptly etc.,

IT workers are more or less taken care well. Infact one could argue that it is IT management that is suffering because of the labor attrition and not the other way around. However it is time that IT/BPO employers wake up. If there are talks of unions etc. going on in this industry, it is because of dissatisfaction that is spreading with the labor workforce. When dissatisfaction is coupled with politics, it is a recipe for a huge mess. Employers have the power to stop this epidemic of trade unions from spreading within the IT industry if only they want to .

Every organization should ensure that the employee-satisfaction rate is always above a certain threshold. They have to control attrition and also protect their workforce. They have to capitalize on the fact that IT workers typically dislike and hate bureaucracy & trade unions - and that when taken care properly there would be no necessity for the labor force to form any unions. Employers have to realize that a dissatisfied workforce leads to Unions/strikes/hartals etc., which spell nothing failure for their organization and the Indian IT industry as well.

Political parties have always exploited the weak minded and dissatisfied working class and channeled their unhappiness to the parties' own benefits. There is still time left in the IT industry to cover itself up against a similar fate.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

strike out the strikes


On September 29, India witnessed another strike organized by the Left which stalled the entire country, almost. While the intent of this post is not to debate for or against the demands that led to the strike, it is to condone the horrendous action called the strike or 'bundh'.

Strike is one of the most inappropriate forms of protest displayed to claim any demand. What good can possibly come when millions of lives just come to a sudden halt one whole day? The whole concept seems lousy. Most of the strikes today are just to promote incompetence and laziness by political parties that have no ideologies or principles anyway.

Yes, people are the real power. And yes, government is of, by & for the people. It is the job of any government to listen to the people and make decisions that affect the lives positively. And in any form of government there will always be shortcomings that one has to face and fight against. No system is perfect. But that doesnt mean that you push a pause button on the whole nation to place demands and attract attention.

While the Marxian philosophy that advocates hartals claims that if workers stop working then the employer stops earning, the principle applies here as well. When workers and government servants stop working the loss is for the employer - which in the case of democracy - is PEOPLE. So it will be the people who will be losers and not anyone else. India being a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) is forced to permit worker union strikes (because they are so-called best way to express the suffering of workers). And I believe this whole idea that we need to permit strikes because of the ILO membership is simply idiotic. It only provides a loophole which allows a manipulating minority to hold the govt all citizens in ransom.

The father of our nation believed in non-violence and non-cooperation. He advocated silent struggles and protest forms that didnt anyone to take up guns or kill. That was to gain freedom from an oppressor and the whole nation was behind this. Whereas now, it is not the case. When any of these strikes are called, all that happens is breaking down and looting of shops, road-rokos stopping ongoing traffic and in the process killing (,literally,) people who need medical attention etc., disrupting normal lives of normal people who arent connected anyway with the claims of the 'bundh', causing millions of rupees of loss - the Mahatma would most definitely not accept this form of protest.

While India has a vague law preventing organizing these massive rallies that disrupt essential services, it is mostly still a law in paper. My question is, why only essential services ? - any services should not be distrupted. The political parties be it ShivSena or the CPI/M get away after all the mess that they create in form of strikes. What these people do not understand is that by causing this standstill they inflict huge losses and essentially push this nation backward and it causes no good. It is simply mind boggling to think that a minority of these political activists can hold the majority of the law abiding citizens to ransom by calling the 'refusal-to-work'..

Unfortunately in a democracy like a India a stern action is always tough to take. Because a governing party today is an opposition party at some point. And they have to organize such political stunts. The latest strike is even more ironical that it was promoted by the Left against the government of which they are still a part of ! How can the UPA government take action against the CPI/M without risking the possibility of losing the reins of power ?

Strikes, hartals, 'bundhs', , road-rokos have become meaningless in India. It only gives people an additional unwanted holiday and causes loss of millions of person hours of work. India as a nation cannot compete with the countries of Japan and the like irrespective of all the manpower when we are forced into these kind of unwanted and preventable losses. Humanpower is precious. We cant afford to waste it by putting it to doing nothing.

If parties dont realize, governments dont realize this, the people have to. Lets not wait to yell against these theatrics until we lose a loved one because of lack of essential services during a strike. Lets act now. No vote to a party/person that promotes these strikes. No vote to a party/person that cuts trees, breaks bridges, burns buildings/buses, stops trains, halts traffic. We need to strike them out of power.

Let us strike against the strike by not supporting them.

'Cause after all the progress the we make and live in democracy that the world cherishes, if we still end up stalling our lives every now and then because of these strikes, we have none but ourselves to blame.