Posted in Technology Talk

The Outsourcing storm ..


obama oscar pic

Last week, there was a furore in India over the US President Barack Obama’s perceived anti-Bangalore-outsourcing statements at a meeting to discuss  US tax policies in the White House. The President was speaking about International Tax Reform, and mentioned flaws in US tax policies that favour companies outsourcing jobs over those that don’t.

Reactions to his statements and tremors were felt everywhere –at home, on TV, in the front page of the daily newspaper and in coffee time chats in office. There was outrage in various sections of the media, with everyone proclaiming “Obama is at it again!”, and criticism of the US president’s anti outsourcing  Obama-isms. The NASSCOM issued a statement that the Indian IT industry is doing quite good, and there is no danger from the newly proposed tax policies of the US.  All this brouhaha piqued my curiosity, and I was inspired to a bit of research on my own.

Agreed, these are competitive times, and everyone wants to be at the top of the pyramid. Yet, we have to acknowledge that Obama has an axe to grind against the outsourcing industry, especially when US is in the midst of the recession. Americans are losing jobs in millions, to be exact – their economy lost another 539,000 jobs in the month of April. So, he is just doing his job. Also, the tirade is not against Bangalore, but an expression of frustration towards a phenomena which has cost thousands of Americans their jobs and livelihoods.

In the last fifty years, there has been a radical shift from the old “Manufacturing Based” economy, to a new “Information Based” economy. The major force of a company is now intangible assets like knowledge, intellect, creativity and brain power.. “…In an information-based economy, it is this human capital and knowledge that creates worth for the firm.”  There is a relentless pursuit to hire and sustain employees which are of high technical value and a level of completion which the industry has never seen before. Under these circumstances, off shoring jobs to skilled personnel in foreign nations seemed to be the obvious choice for many of them. It is all the more relevant at a time when companies are scuttling to aggressively cut costs and boost profits.

However, off shoring is not the crux of all White house economic woes. And coming back to Obama’s original statement about Bangalore, we have a lot to infer from it. I read the text of his statement, and he is talking about the flaws in the tax policies of his country –“… it’s a tax code that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York.” The mention of “Bangalore”  here is not just alliteration, but is symbolic of India’s coming of age in the global economy, and how it is beginning to be perceived as a threat to a Global superpower – both in terms of human resource and technology. We have indeed come a long way – though we still have a long way to go!

Life is like that, and someone’s loss is someone else’s gain. However, we have precious lessons to learn from this. If the world is flat, then it is flat for everyone. So its very easy for fortunes to change – if the opportunities are there for you, there they are there for everyone else too!.. You have to be competitive or critical, differentiate or die – and this is what will give us the edge in the future. We might be competitive under the current circumstances, but we need to move towards becoming critical in terms of ideas, technology, competency and resources.  And the pace at which things are moving, we need to evolve fast!  We need to breed our own Yahoo!s and Googles – because in this laissez-faire and unforgiving economy, the only exclusive competitive advantage you can have  is a brilliant and original idea!!

A link to the President’s address is here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-By-The-President-On-International-Tax-Policy-Reform/

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Posted in My World View, Random thots..

The Great Indian Voter


india logo

The verdict is out, and  celebrations are in!

The India Election has surprised everyone with the hugely intelligent and level-headed output that the millions of voters have given. It has reaffirmed our faith in the Indian parliamentary and Democratic form of government which had taken a beating over the last few decades. It has also dispelled all doubts and banished the depressing possibility of a hung Parliament. We will now have a strong and decisive government when we need it most – in the middle of an economic meltdown and a stormy neighbourhood.

Just few weeks ago, scores of scribes and intellectuals were lamenting the possibility of a fractured mandate and impotent government in the middle of an economic crisis. There was the shocking possibility of a dogmatic Left calling the shots, and fears of a government led by the Left which is any industry’s nightmare come true. In the middle of all this was an arrogant and cocksure BJP which refused to budge from its communal overtures, promising the Ram Temple at every opportune moment and supporting a malignant Varun Gandhi for his hate inducing rants. And of course – a bevy of regional parties eyeing a shot at national power, after extracting their pond of flesh. The scene at ground zero was pessimistic at best and catastrophic at worst.

Political discussions and vote bank analysis essentially proved that the mandate would be caste or religion based. The assumption was that the affiliations of most Indians could be flipped and turned around by whipping up rhetoric – pitching the X community against Y, and capitalizing of the peoples’ insecurities. This let to a retrospection – are we a defunct democracy, bitterly divided by narrow domestic walls?.

The verdict yesterday dispelled all doubts. It proved that here is logic behind the thinking of a million minds, and a method behind the madness. The Indian voter can think with a national purpose, and rise above narrow differences. The Indian voter can recognize false promises and blatant rhetoric, rewarding sincere purpose and good governance. It has also proved that the electorate understands the enormity of tasks which lie ahead, and is in no mood for experimentation. It has rejected all communalists, dogmatics, double-crossers, megalomaniacs and foul mouthed dragons, voting for continuity and smooth transition.

I know this post sounds too pro-Congress, but let me tell you – I am no big fan of the Indian National Congress . The Congress party has lots of flaws, and most of its critics are not wrong when they say that it is dynastic. That “Who Rajiv Gandhi fell in love with?” should determine the destiny of an entire nation is not very commendable – it’s anyone’s guess. However, the fact that the Congress party’s Gandhi heirs rose to the occasion is commendable. They have shown a sense of commitment and gracefulness in politics which dynasties aren’t much known for, and which hasn’t been shown by the other Gandhis in the BJP!. The basic ideology of development and secularism which Congress unwaveringly stands for is what bodes well for the country, and gives hope that we will be able to tide over and rise high in these difficult times.

The mandate is out and with a highly educated Prime minister at the helm, it is a time for the Government to pull up its’ sleeves and get down to work. It has a long way to go and should begin with the cognizance – power corrupts and victory has many friends .It has finally got a chance to work unfettered without nosy allies and interfering Toms, and should make the best use of it.

Plaudits to the Indian voter for this sage verdict. Take a bow!

Posted in My World View, Random thots.., Technology Talk

Globalization 2.0 ?


IPL_logo

This is the IPL season, and cricket is in the air!

So, even though I’m no huge fan of cricket, I ended up watching this hugely successful Indian Premier League match in South Africa – a fiercely contested match between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals in Durban, SA. Amidst the huge frenzy in a jam packed stadium full of enthusiastic cricket fans, every four or wicket attracted roaring applause… There was drama, suspense, enthusiasm and trepidation in the air. As the camera zoomed over the cheering spectators cheering for Rajasthan, something struck my mind. Most of the faces cheering for the Rajasthan Royals was that of foreigners, who would’nt even have seen a map of Rajasthan! Come, think of it – a West Indies skipper Chris Gayle representing an Indian city Kolkata is batting against Shane Warne, an Australian bowler representing Rajasthan in a match which is being cheered by South Africans, and the live stream beamed all over India. Indeed, this is symbolic of India’s coming of age in this era of globalization. This is Globalization 2.0!!

Compare and contrast this with Globalization 1.0.

Traditionally, India witnessed huge growth due to globalization and open markets during the last two decades. Basically, the leap was spurred due to the service based industries flourishing from business generated in Europe and the Americas. The booming BPO and the IT industry benefited from jobs being Bangalored, specifically due to the growth of the Internet and the subsequent “flattening” of the world. But essentially, we grew as service providers and not business generators. The IPL has just changed that!!

It has transformed the way the world looks at India, and generated millions in spending and revenue, even in the middle of a recession.It is indeed heartening to see that an idea conceptualized in India has metamorphosed the face of cricket forever. Generating a huge business not only in India but also in South Africa, the IPL has ignited enthusiasm even in the US, a country that traditionally never played cricket.

It is a huge branding exercise, with innovation and a fresh approach to the way sports is marketed. A heady concoction of Bollywood, Business, Cricket and Glamour has all been pre-packaged into an irresistible package called the Indian Premier League. Capturing the imagination of millions of spectators throughout the world, the IPL is a show of corporate power, with thorough professionalism and determination in the face of all odds. The T20 format has been exploited so efficiently, ensuring that every match is the edge-of-the-seat thriller with a nail biting finish!
The Indian in “IPL” is what makes it most special, making it a defining event in the history of Indian Business. Kudos to the revolution – Hail IPL!! 😀

Posted in My World View

The Great Indian Election


ballot box

The Great Indian Election is here..

In this frenzied extravaganza which promises a lot of drama while it lasts, commitments are made, countless castles constructed in the air, and political marriages and breakups are the order of the day. It is interesting to observe the politicians battling to out-do and out-shout one another, and for once sweating it out under the sun. It is quite a spectacle to watch – their infinite talent in using vile and abusive insults, and the deft transformations from fire breathing dragons to paragons of virtue within minutes!! It is one time when we get to see our Ministers weather all odds, difficulties, threats and potential shoe-snipers to get their message across to the electorate. The mass media is in a tizzy, and every movement in the election battle is fervently analysed and furiously debated. Caste equations are laid out, and bar graphs are drawn.. Exit polls run everywhere, and there is an all important question in limelight – What does the Indian voter want?

All the attention and importance zooms on to the poor and unprivileged millions, who can now, for a brief moment, bask in their position of power. Millions are spent in campaigns to woo the voters who will decide India’s destiny for the next five years. It is the moment of reckoning for a government which will be formed – “By the People, Of the People and For the People”. It is a time of transition and uncertainty, when the fortune of the country is in charted by a “billion nameless votes” and politics is a hot topic of deliberation everywhere.

Mostly, I have noticed that whenever we have a discussion about the elections and the future of the country, almost all debates end on a pessimistic note. There is a general perception that the ones voted to the echelons of power will inevitably be corrupt and morally defunct. In a sense, sincere and committed individuals will never be able to win elections. Surely, the democratic process in India has a lot of flaws, and that’s the reason why we might never really choose the best candidates for the top posts. Yet, I wonder if such cynicism will really do us any good? I found this quote in today’s newspaper, echoing the same sentiments –
“We have a habit of complaining. It’s my habit too… But we avoid taking the initiative for a better future” – PRIYANKA GANDHI

Indeed, the Indian election is the most massive democratic exercise in the world, and the right to equality and franchise is a privilege which Indians dreamt of only seventy years ago!. Also, it’s not an understatement when I say that thousands of Indians laid down their lives for precisely this moment – to be able to choose the future of their country. The power to determine your own destiny is a very coveted prize, and we are lucky to have the fortune to use it… At least, the best we can do is be proactive and think positive.

Posted in My World View

Celebrating independence ..


 Indian flag

15th August.

A day that comes every year… A day with different meanings for different people.. For some, it is a holiday when the Indian tri colour is unfurled and sweets are distributed.. For others it is a holiday to when we sit at home and watch patriotic movies..

For still others, it is a time to retrospect, and see where we stand after sixty one years of independence.. Agreed, we are a young nation, and we have still come a long way since the time of the British rule. We have been able to overcome the harmful influences of extremism and fanaticism which we now see our closest neighbour and fraternal twin engulfed by.. We have seen India evolve from a poor nation to a developing nation.. We have seen literacy levels soar, Indian names etched in the “hall of fame” of Science and Technology.. We have just witnessed an IT revolution which enabled young twenty somethings to earn more that what their parents could even dream about!

And yet, amidst these glimpses of optimism are the exceedingly prominent shades of grey… The horse trading, sting operations, corruption and dirty politicking….MPs brought out from jail to save the Government…We just see all this, shrug our shoulders and say – Dirty politics! Tell me, why is politics a dirty word in India?.. Something that shapes the destiny of our country, something that runs the entire state machinery, something that is a major contributor to the quality of life of every Indian is considered dirty in India. You ask any group of young college students about what they want to do in life, and you hear their aspirations to become doctors, engineers, journalists or businessmen, but hardly ever do you hear of anyone wanting to be a politician. The sole claim for political power belongs to goondas, ruffians, mafia men, or political dynasties. The educated and sophisticated shy away from this dirty game; this is not their cup of tea!

Can we allow things to go on like this forever? Shouldn’t we finally change this conception, so that more educated, and eligible people walk in our corridors of power? Our constitutional forefathers had such lofty dreams for the nation. They had a vision of an India which was a truly sovereign secular democratic republic.. They gave us a level of freedom which is unprecedented in other newly independent countries.. Shouldn’t we attempt to live up to their expectations? Don’t we owe them the responsibility of using this freedom in the right means, and for the right ends. In India, anyone can dig up streets, set fire to buses, hold up traffic with demonstrations.. What we need is a sense of social responsibility.. And what the men in power need is a sense of accountability, not just before elections but throughout the year..

Now, as I think of India as a nation, there are many images that conjure up in my mind.. On one side, I can see a progressive India, urban, sophisticated, educated, employed, and well settled in life.. On the other side, I see an India embattled with odds, rural, uneducated and struggling for basic source of sustenance.. And I wonder in what way has this progressive India contributed to this not-so-well-to-do part of our country? Probably nothing..

I know it is easy to point fingers, but isn’t it time to at least begin thinking about what we can do? An idea can change your life, and also the lives of the billions in our nation. What we need is a desire to bring that change. So this Independence day, we can at least start thinking, because the journey of a thousand miles always begins with a single step!

Posted in My World View

Barricades and bombs


 

gunman

23 bombs in 24 hours..
The news kept flashing on all the news channels on TV, and while we watched, the numbers kept growing.. 15…. 20… 25 live bombs found in Surat.. 50.. 60..100 casualties in Ahmedabad..
Living rooms were inundated with heart wrenching scenes of children battling for their lives in hospitals. And amidst all this, a numbing sensation dawning on us that no place is safe anymore…All these explosions and attacks seemed to be stuff from movies.. Too unreal to be true.. And I was left wondering if this was some kind of cruel practical joke meant to insult our intelligence..
And it wasn’t really something new, or something that wasn’t heard of earlier. The whole chain of events had the same pattern, with bits and pieces different here and there.. The story, the location the description was different.. But the conclusion always remains the same.. We blame the government.. We blame the police, our limited resources, the Pakistani ISI.. There are countless debates and mud slinging matches on the television, in which the opposition and the government blame each other in a recursive loop.. Finally there is a statistic for the dead and the injured.. And the event fades from the public memory, until the next time the blasts happen again..
There are committees formed to investigate, forensic experts consulted to nail the accused… But do we do the most important thing … Do we get to the root cause of the problem. Are we able to ensure that this deadly criminal mindset of religious fanaticism is not perpetuated amongst us? Do we try to know and understand the reasons why this things need to happen at all?
60 bombs going off in 3 cities within 48 hours would need an infrastructure of at least 1000 people..Who are these faceless people.. Where do they come from.. What is their psyche? Do they do this for money, power, or just to gain a sadistic pleasure out of the destruction and mayhem.. Are they hired to do this, or is it a crime of purpose..Are they aliens, or are they misguided individuals amongst us? In a sovereign, democratic republic, why do they feel persecuted enough to kill innocent people.. What are they fighting against, what do they want, and what will they gain from this?.. These are the questions that loom large, and continue to persist from one incident to another.. And many perpetrators of these crimes are locals, so why do they feel no loyalty for place where they are born… And why they take to this path of mindless violence?
If these terrorists are intelligent enough to strategize and plan their attacks so efficiently, then they would also have a concrete reason and purpose. It is in our best interests to understand and destroy this purpose. If we annihilate a hundred of them, a thousand more will be born. We can find out and punish a few, but we need to change the conditions in which breed people of this mindset..We need to create a sense of security, belonging and loyalty in these people.
Should we not attempt to make changes at the grassroots level.. No one is born a terrorist – only situations, reasons, and misguided beliefs create one. A disgruntled child of today can emerge as a faceless terrorist tomorrow.. There should be a conscious effort from the administration to bring a positive mindset to these people and bring them into the general fold.. Occasional rants about the “other” religious fanaticism must go. Let them not be alienated from the outside world and get equal opportunity for growth..
And finally, you should believe in the ideology that human beings are essentially good in nature – and it takes an inhuman amount of treachery to hurt someone who is good to you.