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.



The Vegetarian Chef …. is no more.

tarla_Dalal_midday_360x270It takes guts for someone to take up vegetarian cuisine and take it to new heights that it had never seen before. There are chefs. And there is Tarla Dalal. Or should I now say, there was Tarla Dalal.

I never knew her. I never met her. But she lived in our hearts. We saw her every day. In her cook books. In her magazines. In her website. In her youtube videos.

I baked my first cake using her recipe. My wife has made countless innovative vegetarian dishes by refering her books. There was a bond. Food is something that is very close to us. And if someone is there teaching us how to cook good food, that person is family.

In a country where the majority of the population eats both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, chefs survive by publishing cook-books with both kinds of recipes. So for folks like us who are “pure-vegetarians”, we were left to browse these books at book stores and see which of these had more number of vegetarian recipes and pick them.

I read somewhere that, after her husband passed away at an early age, it was her son, Mr. Sanjay Dalal, who encouraged her to take this up. He is a genius. Again, I have not met him. I do not know him. But the sheer idea of promoting vegetarian cooking as a mainstream publishing media house is genius. Mexican cooking. Italian cooking. Lebanese. You name it. She had a book. All in simple easy to cook recipes. All with ingredients that are easily available in the market. All of them taught in a patient, almost grandmotherly tone.

The country will remember you, Mrs Dalal. I will remember you forever. My memory of you will always be the grandmotherly way by which you taught your delightful cooking. I will remember the ways you start your youtube videos by — “This is so simple. Anybody can do it. Right now. Chalo. Lets start.”

Tarla Dalal R.I.P

The last Tarla video that we watched and learned from – just this past weekend. And yes, the brownies came out delightfully good.

Ant vs Grasshopper (New Version)

I got this in a chain mail yesterday. I was thinking very hard whether to post it in my blog or not. I was afraid if folks would brand me as discriminatory. After a lot of thought, I think there is nothing wrong posting this here. It is the sad truth in many parts of the country. I am not generalizing here. There may be pockets where this is not the norm. But it is the sad state of affairs.

Original Story:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Indian Version:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house.

Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter .

Mayawati states this as ‘injustice’ done on Grasshopper .

Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper.

The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper (many promising Heaven & Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance) .

Opposition MPs stage a walkout.

Left parties call for ‘Bengal Bandh’ in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.

Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ‘Grasshopper Rath’.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the ‘Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act'[POTAGA] , with effect from the beginning of the winter..

Kapil sibal makes ‘Special Reservation’ for Grasshoppers in Educational Institutions in Government Services.

The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, it’s home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV, BBC, CNN.

Arundhati Roy calls it ‘A Triumph of Justice’. Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden’ Koffi Annan invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later…

The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar company in Silicon Valley , 100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India ,

….AND As a result of losing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India is still a developing country…!!


Controversial Paragraph in a British Essay by Charles Radcliffe Cooke

There are two pieces of controversial material that I found in my cursory reading of the essay. (By no means, did I read it in its entirety).

The first thing that caught my eye first was this paragraph.

Wow. The British saw this when they were here so early. In my personal opinion, this is true even of today.

The second controversial topic was one that I had blogged about earlier. – the McCaulay address to the Parliament stating that, bringing in the British system of education into India was to ensure that they brainwash us into their system and that they can have more control over the “natives”.

This essay which is dated much before that indicates that the “natives” wanted more British system of Education. The British started setting up Sanskrit Universities, but the “natives” under folks like Ram Mohan Roy wanted more of the British education, and not something that they have been learning for a long time.

Ram Mohun Roy, after praising the Government for the exertions it was making in the cause of native education, goes on to say that, however thankful the natives must feel for the interest thus shown in their welfare, yet they cannot help perceiving that the labours of the Government are being misdirected, whether through ignorance of native wishes, or from other causes not specified. He therefore thinks it incumbent upon him to place before the authorities some statement of the native opinions and desires upon the subject. When therefore it was known that a certain sum of money had been voted for the purpose of promoting and encouraging education among our Indian subjects, ” We were filled,” he says, “with sanguine hopes that this sum would be laid out in employing European gentlemen of talent and education to instruct the natives of India in mathematics, natural philosophy, chemistry, anatomy, and other useful sciences, which the natives of Europe hare carried to a degree of perfection that has raised them above the inhabitants of the other parts of the world.”

If, he observes, the Government wished to preserve the study of the Sanskrit language, it could have done so by holding out certain premiums, and granting allowances to professors, already too numerous, by whom those who were desirous of learning the language, might be instructed; but he regards the establishment of a Sanskrit College, in which the native youth, besides spending much valuable time in acquiring a knowledge of the Sanskrit tongue, would learn that which was taught two thousand years ago, and waste their energies in speculations suggested by the Vedanta, in metaphysical subtilties and logical niceties, much as an Englishman would have looked upon an attempt to replace the Baconian philosophy by the system of the schoolmen, calculated, as it alone was, to perpetuate ignorance. Impelled by these considerations, and a sincere desire for the good of his country, and the spread of true knowledge amongst its inhabitants, Ram Mohun Eoy prays the Governor-General to expend the grant of money in the promotion and extension of Western rather than Oriental learning.

I am not saying that this is the truth or fact. But this seems to introduce more controversy does it not?

Hat tip to ChennaiKaran Plus Ultra for pointing me to this essay.

Temples in India

Priest in the local temple (to me): Where is the kid?

Me: Oh, he has gone for his summer vacation. Wife’s parents place – Kumbakonam.

Priest: Ohh, Kumbakonam. Where is this?

Me: Down south. Near Tanjore/Trichy.

Priest (with a hint of recognition of the nearby landmark towns): Ok. Ok. Famous for which temple?

Me: (Flummoxed). Lots of temples. Temple town. But a couple of very big Shiva temples.

I came back home and thought about this. Wow. Temples play a huge role in the culture of India. Sure, he was a priest, and he attaches a religious significance to everything. But on hindsight, I have seen a lot of people ask me this question. Or sometimes, offer it as part of the answer. “I am from Sirkazhi. Famous for its Shiva temple. Also where Gnanasambandhar was born.” “I am from Chidambaram. Where Lord Nataraja dances his cosmic dance. “

Infinite Vision – The Story of Aravind Hospitals

If you have not seen this short film, you should see it. This is the story of grit, determination, and a vision of a man, who despite his humble beginnings and his eventual roaring success, never lost his humility and his roots.

Blurb (in the youtube page):

An eye clinic with 11 beds. A country with 12 million blind. …and one doctor dedicated to a beautiful dream.

Infinite Vision is the story of Dr. V, the legendary eye surgeon from South India who made it his mission to restore sight to the blind and whose work has resulted in one of the world’s most extraordinary models of service delivery.

This film traces the inspiring life journey of a visionary dedicated to serving humanity, outlines the evolution of the Aravind model of eye care and affords glimpses into the spirituality that has guided both for over fifty years in service for sight.

“If you can’t pay them you don’t have to. If you can’t come to them they’ll come to you. Each year they bring light to millions of lives. Their services are world-class, but the spirit that drives them is one of a kind…”

What is wrong with the Indian IT Industry?

Ok. Controversial topic alert. I agree with a lot of what Rakesh says. Unfortunately a lot of it is true. It is got to do with our mindset and circumstantial presence and we need to change it.

There is only one issue (which I had commented out also in the Slideshare page). I dont see it apt to compare TCS and Infosys with Apple. Not a good apples-to-apples (pun-not-intended) comparison. They are a hardware/software manufacturer while the other two are not. Margins are different etc. Would be fairer to compare with Microsoft or Cisco or one of those guys.

Hypocrisy – Modified Value Systems

As fancy as the title sounds, I am going to be writing about something that is super simple, and about something a lot of us have actually seen in our real lives (in recent times).

We were in deep discussion about an on-going project – me and one of my team members. The door was partially closed. She swiftly peeped in and barked – “which way to Mr. T’s office?”. I was initially taken aback. For a second, we had been wrenched out of a train of thought, and that too by someone who we did not know, and who had just asked a question in a rather rude tone. After a moment of uncomfortable silence (for us), I said, “Down the hallway and to the left”. She barked a quick thanks and left as swiftly as she had appeared.

I have a couple of observations here. Brand me as judgemental if you want to, but I make these observations here on my public blog, only because, this is becoming more common in recent times.

1. The ‘bark’ and the tone, resounded with the attitude – “I am a visitor from the US office, and I demand attention.” I do not subscribe to this attitude. Sorry. Would you use the same intonation when you are in the US office. “Please, could you tell me which way I should go to Mr. T’s office. I would very much appreciate that.” Ha ! Then why the change in attitude, when you visit here. And oh, did I mention that, less than a decade ago, you were the same as me – ‘desi office worker in the India office’.

2. Would you barge into a someones office like you did today, in the US office? I very much doubt that. You would then be branded as the ‘rude Indian lady’. So what makes you think, we do not brand you that.

I wonder why people get this chip on the shoulder when they relocate to the US (or for that matter, any foreign shore). Why is there such a dramatic transformation in attitude and behavioral aspects when you visit your ‘motherland’ versus your other home? Would you be OK if come and hug you or give you a high-five, or scream your name down the hallway, when I visit the US office next time?

This has always been the case, except this is being noticed more these days, and I will tell you why. There are people like me, and several others, who have been on both sides of the ocean. I studied for 5 years in the US, and have made several (I still do) business visits to the US office. There are several folks in this office, who have worked there for several years and have decided to move back to the proverbial ‘desh’. We have seen both sides of the equation, and unfortunately see through the hypocrisy immediately.

So dear lady from the US office, I really wish you understand, we are all professional co-workers and share the same professional and personal ethics. Now,  if you will excuse me, I need to reschedule the meeting you just interrupted, and pick up the threads and restart from where we left off.