February 28, 2013

Inspite of the Gods - Edward Luce - Book Review

Hi Guys,

I rarely read Non Fiction books. After being recommended by a few professors, I decided to read the book ‘Inspite of the Gods’ – The Strange Rise of Modern India written by Edward Luce. A superb book written by Edward Luce that has in-depth research on India and its growth story.

As the title suggests, the book deals with how India grew despite the Gods being against the country. At many places in the book you will seriously feel ‘God Save the Country’. Already many of us know much about the politicians in our country. If you want a more detailed knowledge or the naked face, this is a much read book for you.

The book starts with how India grew after its Independence and how India has grown from the past. After that he writes about the Bureaucrats of the country whom he calls ‘The Burra Sahibs’ (Big Bosses). He speaks of how bribe, corruption and bureaucracy have stalled the growth of the country. Then he writes about the issues of the Lower Castes in the country and the history of how it came into existence and how various political parties play with the castes. In this chapter Luce has described his interviews with Lalu Prasad Yadav and Amar Singh.

Then he moves into the Hindu nationalism that has been a constant threat to the Country’s Secularism. He goes deep into the Gujarat Riots and the various other movements of the Hindu Nationalistic groups and how are no different from the others.

Then he goes to the Congress party. He researches about the Nehru – Gandhi Dynasty and how the Congress party can’t survive without them. In this chapter, the story of Arun Jaitley and his Delhi Cricket Association Secretary days are exposed. Luce concludes that in this country, ‘If you are rich and important, you rarely pay. If you poor, you usually pay through the nose. And there is no guarantee that you will get what you paid for’

Next he moves into the Muslim people of this country and analyze the problems of Kashmir and Pakistan. He says that the people of Kashmir are exhausted and they want to live. They don’t care which country they belong to. He further goes on to say that though it is said that they are separate from the society, Indian Muslims have all the complexities of the society. He concludes that they are no separate entity and they are better than their counterparts in other parts of the world.

In the next chapter, he discusses the triangular relationship between India, China and USA. He analyzes how US was with China and Pakistan in the early days and how they have come close to India now. He also says that USA is backing India mainly for the reason that India is the only country that is atleast capable enough of tackling China. He also depicts the importance of relationship between India and China and the increasing trade between the countries.

In the final chapter, he discusses the multilayered dimensions of modern Indian Economy. He portrays how life is different for some and how it remains the same for many. He says despite modernity, how the roots remain and how it continues to trouble the country.

Finally he concludes saying ‘Hers to Lose’. He writes that despite having many differences the country moves in One Direction. It might take time, but the way India moves is like an Elephant – Slow yet Strong.

It was a different experience reading this book. A very insightful book that had many factual data and in depth research. If you have interest in knowing how India performs and the various nuances in the country, it is a must read for you.

Happy Reading!!!

February 22, 2013

Hyderabad Blasts and the Social Media Ethics!

Hi Guys,

Yesterday was an unfortunate night for Hyderabad with two bomb blasts killing at least m
ore than 10 people. It was a very sad incident, that too after coming to know about the earlier alerts from Intelligence agencies in India and US.

I first came to know about the news around 7. 30 pm. The first thing I did was to keep track of the search results of ‘Hyderabad’ in Twitter. I thought I would come to know more about the blasts and the aftermath of the blasts.  What happened was really annoying and it raised a lot of questions in me. Here are my Observations from yesterday’s event.
  • The main purpose of Media is to bring the truth and help the people. But what happened was completely disgusting. One channel was tweeting that there were just 7 deaths. Another was saying there were five serial blasts. Yet another channel claimed that more than 20 people have died. Some went on to say that there are two blasts and there is a possibility of a third blast. If you guys are not aware of what is happening, why publish it and create fear amongst people?
  • There were few geniuses out there, who thought they would increase their TRP ratings by publishing photos and videos from the site. But, the fear that another TV channel might go out and capture it before them was high. So, they called out publicly for photographs. NDTV and Zee News were two channels (there might be more) which publicly tweeted that viewers are welcome to contribute photos. At least our People are not in that level. I guess the only response these people got for the tweets were angry responses. One Person went on to say that ‘What happened is a bomb blast, not a few friends blasting to send the pictures’
  • As people were suffering out there, there was another set of extremists in Twitter. Their main debate was on whether the blast was created by Saffron Terrorism or Green Terrorism. There were few national leaders too who made use of this opportunity to make sure their name was all around the place. Each one came out with their own analysis and logic of the blast. Whoever did it, it was Terrorism and it has to be stopped. What difference does it make finding out the religion behind it?
  • There was a big group of people, who retweeted anything that came across their eye. They never bothered to think about it. They never thought the rumours would create a panic among people. If you had been searching Hyderabad in twitter yesterday, you would have found out at least 10 different stories hovering all around.

Among all this the good thing was there were a set of good people (and a few good media too). They were suggesting people to be calm and help those in need. A few people said they were in Hyderabad with a particular Blood Group and would be ready to help if needed. A few people circulated the Hotline numbers and asked people to use the phones only if needed so as to help reduce congestion in Phone lines. They advised people not to come out with their own analysis and the Government will take care of it. It was glad to see that a few people were responsible.

It is high time our people start using Social Media responsibly. Tweeter has the power of making news hot in a few minutes. But, it is the users who must tweet sensibly.

Hope the situation improves!

February 11, 2013

The Complexity of being Simple!

Hi Guys,

Many people say that ‘Being Simple is the most difficult thing in Life’. In the past few days, I have come across people saying that it is difficult for products too.

We are living in an era where Technology advances each day and at the end of the day, it is difficult for the user to assimilate all the advancements in his mind.

Last week, I had the privilege of listening to Mr. Alok Goel, who is currently the Chief Product Officer of Redbus. He was giving a speech on Disruptive Innovation. He was saying that in a world filled with complexities, being simple is a disruptive innovation. He was saying about Google Docs. In 2005, when Google Docs was introduced, Microsoft never considered it as a Competitor. Microsoft continued to upgrade its Office Software. It added more and more features and made it difficult for people to understand the features. An average user uses only 5-10% of the features. In the same phase, Google continued to improve its Docs and the main advantage of Docs is that it is simple and easy to use. It has the necessary features alone. So more and more people have started using Docs.

Today, I was reading the book ‘Five Future Strategies you need right now’ written by George Stalk of BCG. One of the five strategies was dealing with Complexities. The author says that though being simple is said to be the best thing, people love Complexities. Whenever we buy things, particularly electronic goods we make sure that the products have all the features. The author goes on to say that companies that provide Complex stuffs in a simple manner go on to win. The best example is Dell Online Store, where each and every step is explained and you are fully aware of what you are doing.

A few days before I came across a phrase in Facebook which said ‘Today we have Smart Phones and Stupid People’. I feel that the Complexity is the main reason behind this. Thought there are lot of features in Smart Phone, not all people want all features. But when they are buying the phone, they would ensure that the phone has all the features.

I feel that today people are psychologically compelled to buy Complex Products, though they are more comfortable using simple products. They just do not want to admit to the world that they can’t use Complex Products. Being simple is too Complex, isn’t it?

Happy Reading!!!

February 4, 2013

Strategies in IPL Auctions!

Hi Guys,

It has been a long time since I started writing. The fact that this is my 200th post is quite amazing. As the days have went by, the number of posts has decreased proportionately. There are two reasons behind this. One is that I have got busy in life and second one is I think quite seriously before writing each post. For the past few days I have been of the idea of writing an E-book. I have been doing some research on publishing e-book. Anyway, I am not a person who can write long. So, I am still in confused thoughts. Let’s see, how things go.

In this post, I’m going to write about the IPL auction that took place yesterday. Like the previous versions of IPL auctions, this edition too had many surprises. Each team followed a different strategy. Some players who are very young and unknown became very rich by the end of the day.

Thinking a little on why some teams just keep rising the bids, two things come into my mind. One maybe the Ego factor, where two rival teams fight for a single player. In that case, the past performance or talent of a player doesn’t come into play and the teams enter into Irrational Bidding. The other factor might be a trap. If one team is so desperate on getting a player and other teams come to know of it, they might keep increasing the stakes of the player and make the other team pay high for him. This way the spending capacity of the team goes down and the other teams can concentrate on their wish list.

Some teams have got too many big names in their squad. From the past records, the teams that is strong on paper struggles at the end. The main reason is that at the end of the day, the teams (or Captains) don’t know who to pick and who to leave. The second is the team spirit gets decreased and individual talents come into play. Some teams like Rajasthan Royals have stuck to a 21 member squad instead of acquiring more players and creating problem.

The latest auctions were better compared to the previous versions where only the names of the players went into consideration. This time, the teams have considered the availability of the players, their recent performance and also their past performance in IPL.

Yet another strategy adapted by many teams is that of getting ‘Mystery Players’. A player who has played fewer matches is under exposed and the other teams find it difficult to handle the player. It has been the case in the past too. A new batsman or a bowler comes in and the opposition doesn’t know about the player’s particular style. Once the mystery players’ styles are exposed, their value goes down. The traditional proverb ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ goes well with these players.

A few well deserved players have missed out the chance. It is always a Zero Sum game with the franchises having a fixed wallet. At the end of the day, it boils down to the players’ form during the IPL, the team spirit and attitude and the Captain’s cleverness.

The players’ performances have never been proportional to the money they get. It has always been the case and I believe that it will be the case this season too. So the bottom line is that a better method has to be generated in which a player’s performance is linked with his performance.

Happy Reading!!!

February 2, 2013

Afternoon Naps!

Hi Guys,

Today, there was an article in the Economic Times Newspaper about Human Body. There were many interesting facts about the Human Body. One of the points was about Sleep. It was given that if you sleep within 5 minutes after lying down, it means you are so exhausted and sleep deprived. If you sleep within 10 to 15 minutes, it means you are tired, but no so tired of feeling sleepy during the day.

I was wondering how many times I slept within 5 minutes in the past few months. It was most of the days. When I was in home, it was never the case. It usually used to be the second case. I was thinking of writing about Afternoon Naps and this fact captivated me.

Day before yesterday, I had a nap for nearly an hour after a very long time. In the end, I was not able to sleep for a long time in the night. Afternoon Naps are so comfortable for some and so uncomfortable for some.

I remember that Afternoon Nap was something I hated during my Childhood days. My mother used to say me to sleep and I never will sleep. I used to have the attitude that I will never sleep in the afternoon. But things always change in life. Somehow as I grew up and when I was in home during vacation and Holidays, I acquired the habit of sleeping in the afternoons.

Afternoon Naps have problems of their own. If you sleep for two to three hours in the afternoon, you won’t be able to sleep properly in the night. Lying down in the bed without having sleep is one terrible thing in the night. Sometimes when you wake up after a Nap in the afternoon, you will be in a very sleepy state for a long time.

If Afternoon Nap is not a regular habit, it affects the regular metabolism of the body and it leads to the above said side effects. The problem is that when you are free in afternoon and particularly if you had done some works in the morning, sleep comes automatically. The best way to avoid is to indulge in some activities. My usual resorts would be to watch a movie or read a book (for some reading a book will induce sleep).

Happy Reading!!!