The flip side of convenience

(pic-courtesy: mid-day.com)
(pic-courtesy: mid-day.com)

I had earlier written about how hyperlocal grocery delivery folks were affecting the ‘other folks’ who were actually shopping in the super markets. Some of these ‘delivery’ experts were super aggressive in picking up items before us and were trying to beat the lines etc. So while folks who found it convenient to order through them, there were some inconvenience to the others who actually did shop physically.

While one might think that this is an isolated industry and incident, two similar incidents happened to me recently involving two separate companies/industries.

Food delivery: Last week, I stopped by Taco Bell (Sony world, Koramangala, if you must know), to pick up something on the go. I had ordered from the cashiers. There was hardly any crowd. But I waited for a good 15 minutes, because there were three swiggy orders queued up asynchronously in front of me. Yesterday we went to Anand Sweets (Purani Dilli, Koramangala 5th block, again, if you must know :)). We went to eat in. We had ordered just chaat. The food pick up here is by token. I was token number 52, and the running number was 49. Usually, this would have been about 5 mins, but again, it took me a good 20 minutes. Why? Two swiggy ordes again. And again, because it was delivery, it took time to pack. And to ‘beat’ the minimum order for free delivery threshold, folks typically order more. Boom. Double Whammy.

Radio cabs: Today evening, a radio cab almost ran into me. Why? He was busy trying to talk to a customer on the phone trying to understand where to pick him up, look up the same on his map on the phone app, and steer the dang car. Quite naturally, he was doing all three actions sub-optimally.

So now what? Now I am not being the luddite cribbing against technology advances. All I am saying is, are these companies thinking enough about this problem. Should the companies care only about their direct customer satisfaction? Or should they also look at their impact on society, as a bigger picture.

I am sure there are solutions. For the radio cabs problem, this is a solved problem in the US. The geo- problem is solved beautifully there. You call, and the uber is in front of you. No hailing. No telling landmarks. Nothing. I am sure our guys can improve this too.

As for the food delivery problem, one thing that I noticed was that, the guys started preparing the food only after the guy came to the restaurant, while they actually had gotten the order much earlier. Could they do some form of predictive start? I, as a consumer, know where the delivery guy is and how close he is to reaching the restaurant. Can’t swiggy share this out to the restaurant also?

What does everyone think?

Where I dissect the MastKalandar Website/Branding Update

Yesterday I saw an FB post and a tweet pointing to something called the MKDabbawala. I was intrigued. It had the same branding colors thankfully of yellow and orange and the same MK letters in the same font. So atleast I thought, it was the same brand.

  • But What is that tiffin carrier doing in the logo? Are they pivoting? They are moving away from restaurant style business to regular home delivery, or something similar? These were the thoughts that were going through my mind.

And then I went to their website. First look, well, it looked better than what it looked before. Fresh, clean start. I started poking around.

mk1

  • The first dissonance hit me right away. On the masthead was both the new logo and the old one. Uh. What? And then I saw the small text “Powered by”. So, they were not pivoting by adding a new feature. I guessed that, other than the restaurant service, they were probably introducing a new tiffin carrier service.
  • But then, why is the new service such a prominent part of the masthead and on the main page.
  • Fine, I went along. Ok, so my next thought was, they are rebranding into ‘ordinary food’ (which is probably delivery only and in a tiffin carrier?) and ‘special food; (probably only in restaurants, but perhaps delivery too). Fair enough. I know several people who eat regularly at MK.
  • Awright, keep moving, keep moving. Lets have what they have on offer. The ‘difference’ between these two foods are (and yes, they are putting two things side by side, which by cognitive theory means, they are comparing. Or, arnt they?)

mk2

 

  • Menu on the dabba thing changes very day. Nice. Oh it is super fast delivery – faster than normal?. And I thought the traditional flavors thing was a common thing across all MK dishes. We will let that slip. Perhaps the right hand column has more exotic stuff.
  • Wide range of North Indian food and memories of home –  Hmm. OK. Again I thought was across the board. Every dish made to order. So the dabba things are pre-prepared? What?
  • Lets move on to how to order.

mk3

 

  • So the dabba is delivery and hence can be ordered by app or website. And the other ‘regular’ or ‘exotic’ stuff (I cant make up my mind), you can either get it delivered or eat in the restaurant. Fair enough. I can wrap my mind around that.
  • Let us try ordering some tiffin carrier food. I clicked on the left card.
  • And a new tab opened. Firstly, I am not a big fan of you opening tabs for me. Show it to me on the same page. In 2 minutes flat on perusing your webpage, this was what my tabs was like. I have enough tabs that I open, and I dont want three more.

mk4

  • I like the high level look and feel of this page when it opens. It shows “Aaj ka dabba” – which is for non-hindi-speakers, “Todays dabba” or “Todays selection”. I would not harp on the Hindi, because Mast Kalandar’s target audience has always been North Indians living in South India. Let us not make a pretense out of it. And I see nothing wrong in it. It is a large market, and they are focused.
  • There are 6 things in todays dabba, where I can choose from. The mouse-overs explain the dishes. I have a minor problem with the text. I think it should be more explanatory. Do not say, bite into parathas. I want to know whether there is going to be one paratha or two. I want to order here. Same goes for the rest of the dishes as well. The only thing that had count was the laddoo. When I read the description, I want the text to help me decide whether I can finish the dish or not, if I am hungry enough for it or not.
  • Also, please make the page responsive (get the target screen-size and resize with respect to that – yes, it can be done). THere are six dishes and I still need to scroll down just a bit  because the last row is only 80% displayed. Typically this UX behavior is only reserved if you have more stuff coming below. There is one unnecessary scroll down that was waster.

mk5

  • So I click on an Order button. It asks me for City and area. Currently it is only Bangalore and Koramangala. It is 6:30 in the morning here, as I write this, and it nicely says that the restaurant is closed now, but I can pre-order. Nice touch.

mk6

mk7

 

  • I click on pre-order, and I am presented with the daily menu. Nice and clean. I like the fact, you see the cart in the same screen. The only minor nit that I have is the plus (+) sign in a square. Traditionally this is reserved for an expander. So you might have people clicking on it to see if there is more text on the menu item. For this, typically you may want to use the “+” within a circle.
  • And where did this green and yellow come from? So far away from your brand colors. It is definitely a bit jarring at first glance.
  • Dear webdeveloper who did the order details page, there must be a better way to validate if the person has ordered something or not, than this:

mk8

  • So I chose something and clicked on ‘Order. There are a couple of things that I really like in this next screen.

mk9

 

  • I love it that you can log-in or order as a guest. Love it that you can order for now, or for later. I guess this is inspiration from the many taxi-apps that we have these days. And wow, I can order upto 2-3 days in advance. Nice. I don’t think anyone else has this. You should market the hell out of this feature. It is now so hidden in there.
  • The tool tips make no sense at all. And I cannot figure out which field is mandatory and which is not.

mk10

 

  • And aaaargh, the scrolling. Please, make the page responsive. I do not want to scroll for 2 more lines. There is so much white space that you can utilize here, and yet look clean.
  • I fill in some junk in some of the boxes and hit continue. And then it tells me the mandatory fields. There is now a red ‘i’ in the two more boxes, which never existed before.

 

 

mk12

  • The form validation is all messed up. I tried giving various wrong combinations, and it always pointed to the wrong fields and kept saying “Please enter all fields”. Not very helpful, nor accurate.
  • I like the “Bring change for ” feature. It could be a little more explanatory though. And if you are going to have only COD, why have a step called “Payment Options”. If you are going to have more payment options coming up, say so (More Payment options coming up).
  • And hey, why cannot I pay using loyalty points? You have my log in details.
  • And whoa, I did something wrong, back button or something, and I cannot find my cart now. No option to go back to my cart? Where is the options icon now? I just noticed it is not present in the menu. And when I go back to the main menu, I still do not see a view cart button anywhere. Ok. Big Bummer here.
  • Ok. I now have to click on one of the Order Now buttons in the menu to get to the cart.
  • I am now officially done with the Daily dabba. And I still fully cannot wrap my head around the ‘dabba’ concept. Nothing in my experience above seems to indicate it is anything new. I do not see a tiffin carrier service here at all. No repetitive ordering/monthly payment option. It is a smaller menu.

Let us get to the “Full Menu”. You can get to the full menu either from the dabba page or from the main page. This is fair, because I may find the dabba menu too restrictive and I want to see more. (And please do not put Aur Dikhao, please please).

  • I click on the full menu (or the right card on the main page) and I see this.

mk14

 

  • The three dots show me that there are three images that you are cycling through. Ok. But should you not be cycling them yourself? A marquee scroll plug-in if you will? I should not have to do search for the small ‘white’ right/left arrow to go see the next image. And, in a good UX page, the arrow buttons are never always visible, they come up when you mouse over to that area.
  • Also every one of your three images spills over to your left. You have so much space left, why cut your images. Alignment problems I think.
  • I thought you only had types of menus – “Aaj ka dabba” and “Full menu”. What is the express menu? Where did that pop up? Is that the same as the dabba menu?
  • Ok, I want to see the menu. I keep searching, menu, menu, menu .. where are you menu … cmon out kitty …
  • What! You need to click on Order now, and only then can you see the menu? Oh cmon, MastK, you can do better than that. This is almost real-estate agent tactics. “Nahin Sir, Cant get the keys to the flat unless you commit.”
  • Ok, I stumble past the Order Now.
  • I now have to give my city and location again, else, you wont show me the menu.

mk16

 

  • Ok. Nice and clean, again. Same feedback about the plus in the square though.
  • Also, my preference – if you are going to showing categories, show only the items in the highlighted category in the second column.
  • Have another item called “Show me All” and show all the items there. Again, my cognitive dissonance may be different from yours.
  • I see the dissonating green color permeating here as well. Whats up with the new brand color?
  • No pictures for these items? If you can show pictures for your dabba menu, why not atleast a mouse-hover or a picture icon, where I can click and see what I want to get? A Bengali person might want to see how the Litti Chokha is, right? You may want to think about that.
  • And what is this “HD” acronym that I see everywhere in the menu?
  • I think there is spacing issues in your menu css. The first bits are fine.

mk17

  • But then when you go down to the ala carte items, the spacing seems to have gone out of whack (too much white space in my opinion). The screen itself is a contained screen. Clicking on the arrow

mk18

 

  • Also what is this upwards facing green arrow. I clicked and understood that it is “Scroll up to top.” In some pages, it makes sense. I still do not think that it is very intuitive. There are other established ways to do that.
  • There are pages with the green arrow, that do not need it – like the payments page. The page itself is a contained page. When I click the arrow, it just bumps me up a couple of lines.

mk19_1

 

  • There was just one more thing that I wanted to test. The more options menu in the main page. Firstly, this should be everywhere – in every page. Secondly, please add a “My Cart” option here.

mk24

 

  • Order online takes you through all of the above stuff I spoke about.
  • The Food love story and the Chefs corner is fine – but very sparsely populated.
  • I clicked on Store Locator. And that is when I realized MastKalandar had only one store in India, in Koramangala, Bangalore.

mk25

 

  • Guys – if the page is not finished yet, put a “beta sticker” on it. Or atleast, say “In construction”. Cmon. This is so not done.
  • And what the heck is the feedback form doing in the Locate Us page?
  • And I did not expect much from the Contact Us page, either and it did not disappoint.

mk26

  • I do not know about you, but I cannot figure this one out. Ok. You are giving me your corporate address and phone and email address. And a “Get Directions” to your Corporate office. Really?
  • And is that a feedback form to the right? You should put a sub label tag on it – “Write to us” or something like that.

In summary:

  • Noble effort to try and change the previous website (which sucked big time). New cleaner page. Several nice new features. There are UX nits that I have highlighted above. Sincere advise to the web-guys. If you are not done testing the website, please do not release it. Or put a beta sticker on it. Or put a “Under construction” sign somewhere.
  • More importantly, I think the branding theme needs to be fixed. This Dabba thing is too confusing. It seems to be deviating from what you are. Just call it express (or daily menu) and full menu. Too much shock to the consumer is also not good.
  • I just noticed one more thing. And perhaps this could perhaps be the most important non-technical non-UX thing in this post. There are 4 branding perspectives you are confusing the user with here.

mk20

mk21

mk22

mk23

 

  • In branding, logos, fonts, taglines/bylines are sacred.

 

 

Aur Dikhao – Bordering on Linguistic Chauvinism?

I recently noticed something awkward when I was searching for a product in amazon.in. I had searched for USB hubs and when I scrolled down to the bottom of the list, I saw this:

aurdikhao

As much as a nationalist that I am, as much as I am pragmatic to think a common language of communication is a good idea, I feel that this would go against the grain for a significant population of online India.

While the fact that Hindi is India’s national language itself is a contentious issue, I cannot imagine, how an online market place platform such as amazon can generalize and use a non-English phrase in a website which is mostly English otherwise.

Please do not get me wrong. I am not an anti-Hindi person, while most people who have read my name and figured out that I am from South India, have already stereotyped/judged me. I am proud of the fact that there is atleast one incident in a month, where a colleague/acquaintance mistakes me for a “North Indian”. Yes, I speak fairly good colloquial hindi.

Getting back to the issue at hand, I am wondering what the Program Manager, who was handling this campaign was thinking. Hindi is one of several tens of languages in India. Was there an intent to do some data mining and show this Hindi term only for some demographics? Or was it for all? I have worked in an online search entity before, and I know you can do magic like that. In a country like India, linguistic patriotism runs deep in the blood – to the extent, that the first partitioning of the states was done on the basis of language spoken.

In India (as in other areas such as Switzerland), it is not a question of whether a user understands the meaning of “Aur Dikhao”. The user would know the meaning and still pretend not know and judge the portal for being linguistically chauvinistic.

Amazon, please be inclusive and remove this abomination of an anomaly. If you really wish to do this, translate the entire damn page into Hindi. And while you are it, translate it also into Tamizh, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, Assamese, and the two dozen more ‘predominant’ languages of India.

So what, if you work for the Government …

I thoroughly get bugged when I see bumper stickers (or rear windshield stickers) which proclaim what industry you are in.

So what if you work in the government? Do you have the sticker on so that the police should not catch you if you do not heed the traffic rules? If not why?

So what if you work for the government? Do you need preferential treatment? Why? If you need to prove your identity to get ‘things done’, you have already defeated the whole purpose. It means your governance is so bad that, you get things done, only if you have that sticker or the metal plate.

So what if someone you know or even you, are in the army. I have huge respect for folks in uniform. Please don’t ruin it for me. I have had several people actually tell me that, they have the sticker so that the police do not ‘bother’ them. (Remember regular police cannot slap charges on these folks – only military police can).

So what if you are an advocate, are you threatening me that, if I get into an accident or altercation with you, you will drag me to court? Are you trying to tell me that you are a big guy? What is the purpose of that bow tie sticker on your vehicle. I am sure that is not a vehicle pass that lets you into court. You do have some other form of identification. Then what is the need for the neck tie sticker.

I dont even agree with the police sticker. I have seen folks who are software engineers riding bikes with a ‘Police’ sticker. When asked, they would give some vague answer as, their brother, who is an office, occasionally take their bike, but mostly it is so that, police do not ‘bother’ them. Wow. It bothers me though. If a police officer is really rushing to a place where he is urgently required, either he would be riding an official vehicle, run through traffic like Keanu Reaves, or grab some random persons car in the middle of the road like Chris Tucker. He is not riding his brothers bike.

The one profession sticker that I think ‘could’ potentially be useful is the doctor sticker. Even there, I use could the phrase “potentially” because this need not be the case all the time. But then I am willing to take the extreme case in this one. Perhaps, being a doctor, there may be times when you have to rush to a hospital to which you have been summoned.

Maybe I should just adjust maadi and make this sticker for myself:

swengg

But then this would probably ensure that I get flagged by the police more. *Sigh*

 

 

Fear factor

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thejcgerm/
flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thejcgerm/

Quite contrary to what most of you might be thinking, this is not about any reality show, but is a part 2 of my previous post on random policing to deter minor traffic offenses.

I am originally from Chennai. My parents still live there and I make occasional trips to this beautiful city (Singaara Chennai, as we call it — beautiful Chennai). This post is about 2 observations and my take on how they could be connected.

First observation is the general talk (or sometimes lack of it) about the reduced petty level crime on the streets. I keep hearing that the police is also very sensitized to crimes like eve teasing, chain snatching, and the likes – which I shall term (very loosely, since I am not a law) petty crime on the streets.

The second observation is a more personal one – something that I have been seeing in the last 2-3 visits. Chennai Police seems to have procured a large number of interceptor vehicles. And no, I am not talking about the old ‘Police Jeeps’. I talking fancy Innovas, Xylos, and the likes. And these interceptors have the blue and red flashing lights mounted on top of them – very much like the Interceptors in the US have. Firstly, I am seeing a large number of them on the road – randomly policing, parked in sensitive corners (near the auto stand in Chennai Central and T.Nagar Pondy Bazaar are two examples). Secondly, these vehicles are standing there with their flasher lights on. This makes them visible from at least a km away.

cop1 cop2 cop3

So this brings me to the fear factor. When these police interceptor vehicles are ubiquitous and very visible from a large surface area, there is a sense of safety for the common man, and a sense of fear for the offenders. I believe this is probably the link between the two observations. I have also seen these interceptors ‘prowl’ areas – smaller streets, bigger avenues, you name it – I have seen them there. This probably also has an effect for petty crime – the fact that, at any time an interceptor might turn up.

As a side note, I am one of those who firmly believe that, if the Police Department is funded well (by means of equipment and salaries), the corruption would definitely reduce (note that I said reduce, for nature will also bring forward some bad apples to surprise you). When the corruption reduces, there is more respect for the police, and in turn towards the law. I really hope the governments look into this as well.

Net-net (as we say in tech circles sometimes), I believe this improve policing is step in the right direction towards a safer future. Kudos to Chennai Police. I really hope other Police Departments pick up the cue and take this to their cities too.

 

What did Modi ‘actually’ accomplish in the US?

Modi - the redeemer :)
                                                Modi – the redeemer 🙂                                                (Reuters)

Setting up disclaimers as usual. What I write is purely my opinion. The opinion is that of a lay person not very well versed in the political sciences.

As you can see the media coverage and the general energy of the public, there is quite a bit of song and dance surrounding the PMs visit to the US. So what exactly is he accomplishing here?

Change the impression: India used to be called the land of snakes and snake charmers. Quite obviously, this pisses off a large populace . The only change in perception/impression that we have made to this is, now, India is looked at a land of cows, software engineers, and call centers.

India is considered an extremely difficult place to do business. It is considered a ‘dirty place’. (Yes, it hurts me to say this, but please drive down to the passport office in Koramangala, Bangalore and look across the street. You will know what I mean). Owing to the perception of call centers and the large scale monotonous work that we did during Y2K, we are not quite looked at where there is innovation and breakthroughs. Folks in the US still consider that the Indians in the US are super brilliant because they are ‘away’ from India.

Modi’s speeches in the US and his interactions with congressmen and leaders of businesses have revolved around allaying their fears around these factors (and probably more). I believe his trip is trying to prove to them that his new government’s top priority is to fix these basic infrastructural problems. He is probably also asking their opinions on what they consider as a problem; and if there is a large scale need for any specific SOPS he will probably do it.

Market Make in India: This whole concept has multiple facets in itself. Bring investment into India – which in itself is a big thing. This would improve the job situation in India. Also, Modi has been talking a lot about Public-Private-Partnership (PPP). Almost every MNC has money allocated for community service. That is one half of the PPP problem instantaneously solved. I read somewhere that he is already talking with Google and the likes for the Clean Ganga project. The third important factor is, as more and more product manufacturing companies come into India, their products would start getting sold in India. Goods made in India and sold here typically are also available at a lower cost. (case in point – Nokia phones, Ford cars etc). It is a win-win for the companies (expand the market) and India (lower costs).

Get some international publicity:  We need this. We need this bad. Let us accept the fact that, if you make a lot of noise in the US, it gets heard world wide. If you go and make a lot of noise in SriLanka or Thailand, no one even notices it – maybe your SAARC partners would, but no one else). This is free publicity. The “May the force be with you” starwars ending line may have sounded corny coming from the PM, but it surely got the attention. For heavens sake, John Oliver made a segment out of it in his HBO Last week Tonight show.

Thank folks for the $$: From what I hear, there was quite a bit of contribution from the Indian diaspora in the US for the Modi campaigns – monetarily. The PM needs to thank them and assure them that there would be the change that they had all contributed towards. If not for anything, he would require their support for 2 more terms (if all goes as per his plan :)).

These are the four ‘real’ reasons why I think Modi’s visit is significant. Any other thoughts, please write in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

Indian Americans and claiming credit …

This here, is a controversial article, where I am going to let what pulses through my heart, straight to the fingers on the keyboard – aka no thinking. I will set up my disclaimers shortly, and I would also like to say that, I am willing to stand corrected if your contra opinions have data enough to convince me.

First the disclaimers. I am a huge Modi fan. So even if there is something that seems to echo that what Modi is doing is wrong, is definitely a fault of the English language (which is a funny language, you know!). I have lived in the US, interacted with several first generation Indian Americans (who settled there in the 70s) and second generation Indians (American citizens born to first generation American Indians). In fact, I do have one very close friend of mine, who is a second generation American Indian, and we have had several talks on how they feel, the hardships they feel, and largely the search for their true identify (some have come to terms, and some have not, believe it or not!).

With these disclaimers out of the way, let me state my controversial rant first, and then see if my fingers can build around that (see, I am setting up my fingers for the blame, so if you do not like what I am saying, ‘talk to the hand’ or the ‘fingers’ to be precise). I take objection to the fact that several American Indians and unfortunately several Indians (and media too!) are stating that, Indians went to the US to ‘save India’. It is because of all their money that got pumped into India, that we are what we are now. Someone on FB (I think the guy was one of the organizers of the event at Madison Sq Garden) even gave an example of how, since they could not physically come and show their love and affection to their parents, they sent the money to buy a new couch – which apparently satisfied the parents even more than their children coming home (really???). And that apparently the money that the parents spent on the couch went into building the economy of the country.

Anyways, Indians have been going to America for a variety of reasons, and the reasons have evolved over time. In the early 60’s and 70’s there were the Indians who went to the US because it was the land of opportunity. I personally know of folks in my family who went there because their immediate family was in ‘need’. These folks had it real hard. Racism was rampant. They did not have the number of ‘Indian stores’ that exist today. They struggled. They struggled to make ends meet for themselves and they still had to send back money. And they did. They worked at gas stations. They worked at grocery stores. The works. The admirable thing about these people (in my humble opinion) was the fact that they did not make a pretense of trying to return to India. After all the struggling, they said, they were going to settle there and be there. They still were comfortable coming to India once in a while, but that was it. Home was the USA. Why do I admire them? Atleast they are not making a hypocritic pretense. They are clear.

Then came the 90s. Youngsters (including yours truly) went there to the US, because the universities were great. You would find folks saying they are going to the US for ‘higher education’. Cue: You would not hear folks saying to make ends meet for their family home. These folks did not have that much of a struggle (if you ask me!). A large portion of these folks either got financial assistance from the university or got some ‘on-campus’ jobs as we used to call it. By this time, atleast folks in the universities (thanks to the first generation folks whom we spoke about in the last paragraph) had a good opinion of the Indian students. They were hard working, smart, and could understand/speak fluent English. And hence these jobs came by. No one got paid boat loads, but got enough for sustenance. Few sent back money home. These were folks who had taken educational loans to take care of their first semester tuition and living expenses. But thats it. By the end of 90’s, the tech bubble was at its peak. By this time, not only were the Universities aware of the smart, hard working, English speaking Indians, the companies got to know as well. And they started hiring. Indians got in early and made it big. These guys sent some money home – perhaps paid for the renovation of the home that was long due – but I would not call it the revival of the economy due to them. They were settling in too. The bought a car, a house, and material comforts to lead a comfortable enriching life.

At the risk of alienating some of my batch mates, I will make another boisterous uncomfortable claim. There are clearly some of them who are clear that they are going to stay there in the US. They try and get their parents to the US once a year for a few months etc. They do ‘something’ for better living in India (perhaps buy them a couch like the Organizing person said), but essentially did all they could to make their and their parents life comfortable. I see nothing wrong with this crowd. Honestly, I am pretty proud of this crowd. Hey, their head is screwed on to the right place. They know what they want to do. They do what they can. The ones that bug me to no end are the ‘n+1’ folks, who claim every year that they would come back the next year. These are the folks who contribute to a lot of hypocrisy in the American Indian Community. These are the folks who talk about the ‘mother land’ in every party there. These are the folks who send money to Indian election campaigns here. These are the folks who claim that they are doing all this because they are going to return back to ‘desh’ once it gets better. Once it gets better. Hmm. Hmm. Ok then.

Let me move on now. The last set of folks who are in the US – perhaps now, as I write this long winded boring post, are the folks who have reached the US in the last few years. I have been observing a large number of these folks go to the US by funding themselves. “The wha ….”, you might say!. Yes, you heard me right. These guys fund their own tuition, their living expenses and everything else. From what I hear and understand, about half of these guys would defenitely come back to mother land and work in an ‘American’ company in India; and the rest would get assimilated there. Again, how many of these would claim that they would come back vs they would settle there, I do not know. Time will tell.

With these three categories, epochs if you will, of folks who immigrated in to the US, excepting for the first set of people who genuinely ‘pumped’ ‘some’ money back into India, I do not see the recent claim that the Indian American community is pumping ‘dollars’ into India to revive India. Really? Is that because of these guys that Infosys has become so big? HCL? TCS? CTS? They might not be the hot-rod startups of Silicon Valley, but boy-o-boy, do they bring in revenue or what? Revenue that brought prosperity to the folks who work in these companies. Revenue to the Government in terms of tax. There is also data somewhere (I dont recall where), that the NRI community does not even pump in that many tourist $ into the country. More $ is spent by European and Japanese tourists.

I should be fair, and should acknowledge the one data point that is in favour of this argument. There are a few handful of companies based out of America, who have come and started their Indian operations because of the initiatives by Indians in the management of these companies. They have been able to convince their American counterparts that there are smart, hard working, fluent English speaking folks back in India too. I say a handful, because, it is only a handful that came because of the Indian community there. The rest came because of capitalism. “Hey, we hire a lot of Indians here in the US, and they are getting expensive. Lets go in search of the source. Bingo. We can hire three Indians in India for the price of one in the US.”

So where is this ‘India is what it is because of the NRI community’ claim coming from? If that is what it is, then why is Modi there and introducing all these reforms in immigration? Why is he asking afresh to contribute? The VISA on arrival is not for the Caucasian Americans. It is for the US citizens born of Indian Immigrants. He said a lot of stuff indirectly. Let me try and say it in direct words here – “I am sure most of you here are not going to return back. And that is fine. But I want you to come and go freely. I want you to come and stay long periods of time. I want you to give ideas on how to improve (from your observations here in the US and elsewhere). I want you to contribute in whatever way you can.” You should notice that he did not say “you can Western-Union money to this account here to save my country”.

I am done with this long rant, but this is something that I wanted to share and probably get some conversation and opinions on. We are not perfect. We need all the help from everyone, from everywhere across the world. Modi has a vision. It is up to each one of us to realize it.

Bhaarath Maata ki Jai.

PS: I did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings by this rant. I am just using Freedom of Speech and all that. I would love to stand corrected, if you have sufficient data to counter my data-less claims 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World’s Best Pizza Box

Mumbai businessman rethinks the pizza box. Rather than thinking outside the box, he rethought the box. Apparently the reason why Pizzas arrive soggy is because, they dont have a way by which the steam can be ventilated out. This box has been judged the worlds best pizza box by the renowned Scott Wiener (author of a book called Viva La Pizza – The Art of the Pizza box).

It’s the biggest challenge of pizza box designers to design something that retains heat without trapping steam and I think this box has just achieved that” – said Scott.

Gotta love this guy. Check out the full story here -> [link]

Reimagining India – Eric Schmidt

The last segment is priceless. And I quote here:

India’s impact

India has had a big impact. Sun Microsystems was founded by someone who’d been to an IT university in India. And here in Silicon Valley, there is evidence that 40 percent of the entrepreneurs are Indian foreign born. So it gives you a sense of the scale and reach of Indian entrepreneurs outside of the country. So the problem is not the Indians, the problem is the country. And the country appears to be relatively dysfunctional politically, and has some corruption issues. You can see the potential when the Indians come here. Imagine if they were there and they were doing the same things with the same kind of structure. They’d change the world.

There are some portions of the interview which  may seem condescending towards India – for some viewers. But if you look at it objectively, it is the truth. For example, where he talks about the state of the broadband in the US vs India.

There are some great observations as well – for example, the potential of 4G LTE to disrupt the internet space. I think he is right. It is difficult to improve something as physical as broadband infrastructure. However, the cell phone telephony infrastructure is already there.

Similarly is the alternative of improving on wifi hotspots. This way the high data rates are avoided.

Source: mckinsey.com