October 09, 2005

Asian politics

Fareed Zakaria interviewing Ashley Tellis on KQED about growing relationship between US and India.

Ashley commented US might play India as Britain while dealing with the new Asian political landscape

Next 20 years in Asia are shaping up  like Europe in the time after WWII - new alignments and lot of introspection.

October 9, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 01, 2005

Work From Home

Tragedies like Katrina bring out all sorts of  extreme emotions.  We are seeing really bad behavior in the form of gasoline price gouging and looting.  Looting could be  a sign of desperation but price gouging is insane and criminal.

I have a suggestion to get back to these gougers.  Companies in California (or maybe in the whole nation) should declare mandatory work-from-home for a week, it will have a huge pressure on the demand side. California has close to 23million vehicles and if even 2% of them are not on the road for a week it will  have a tremendous impact on the demand for gasoline.

Money saved by employees can be donated to the rebuilding efforts and employers can help deflate energy prices which should economy from sliding into recession (again !).

Let stay-off-the-road be a new slogan for helping people in distress.  Global warming, Iraq war and so many other issues are linked to oil so why not start a private sector driven process to lower the consumption.

Work from home and stay-off-the-road for a week. You will be helping Katrina affected people rebuild their house, society and pretty much life from the scratch.

September 1, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 15, 2005

Wipro Way

Business Week in its latest edition is covering the most obvious  material in the contemporary business journalism - Economic transformations in China and India.  Plenty of interesting tid bits.

This story in particular is impressive and shows  how serious Wipro is in modeling it's business process operations on the lines of Toyota way.

Check this clockwork efficiency:

   During a recent visit by BusinessWeek to an office in Bangalore, we followed the journey of a single invoice through accounts payable. The first stop was the "imaging" room, where C. Venkatesh fed documents into scanners and attached electronic copies to work-flow software, which manages each step of the process. Then H.V. Shivaram typed data from the invoice into the accounting software program, M. Rassal checked the math, Srikanth Vittal Murthy posted the charges in the general ledger, D. S. Varadharajan authorized payment, and B. Ravi Sekhar arranged for a check to be cut. Finally, V. Karunakaran printed and mailed it. If the process had hit a bottleneck, a digital display on the wall would have turned red. That would have prompted managers to swarm the center of the room, confer, and fix the problem on the spot

In this process they will end up inventing new ways of doing things as well. Which will be eventually competitive to software tool makers.

How this Wipro way will translate into new category of software ?

August 15, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2005

Experience is priceless

New York Times covering phenomena of global interns in India.

"Stipend is low but the experience is priceless"

August 11, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 01, 2005

Call it strategic networking

Atanu points to this commentary by George Friedman on how the US-India relations suddenly looks interesting. Lot is happening at the strategic level.  September 11 did change the world and the efforts to redraw the world's strategic map are still going on.

George comparing India to China  -

  India is in China's position of 1980. It has a mind-boggling bureaucracy, poor infrastructure and a culture antithetical to rapid development. At the same time, it has the basic materials that China built on. As the Sino-U.S. relationship deteriorates, India can be a counterweight to China -- not in a military sense, but in an economic sense. If the United States has an economic alternative to China for investment, Washington develops leverage in its talks with Beijing on a host of issues. China, after all, still courts investment -- even as the Chinese buy anything that isn't Chinese.

To me this economic undercurrent of this strategic change looks more interesting. I am not betting too much on the geopolitical significance of nation-states in the long run.

Big corporates will bring lot of weight  to the discussion table, significant enough to temper any military ambitions. There will be tensions and limited military engagements but not significant enough to cause widespread destabilization ( though I don't know what Karl Rove is planning after second term !)

So this realignment in world's political Lego will only work its magic in the economic terms. That too in the time-frame where you and I can see the changes. Meaning things will happen fast. If India is where China was in 1980 then India will be where China is by 2015.  Accelerating change phenomena will take over.

At the end of the day  I feel the time is right, finally we are correcting the historical mistake. For years we have been carrying the hazaar f#$%ed baggage of JNU-style socialism.

Now its time to build a strong market driven economy by aligning with US. Two biggest democracies working together - This will be a great story of this century. 

(Also this tag of Superpower gives me creeps - not that I am short on hormones but lets focus on solving the basic problems of life - roti, kapda aur makaan )

August 1, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 27, 2005

One degree factor at play?

As if we needed more proof that the global weather pattern has really gone nuts in recent times. 
Monsoon rain in India's financial hub Bombay caused the life to come to a standstill. Bombay monsoon is infamous for this reason. Every Bombayite knows that there will be couple of days in a year where he or she will be forced to stay back in the office. Everything stops - local trains and every other transport mode. I did this once when I used to work in Bombay. 

I hope situation improves quickly and people get on with their life.  Though something has to be said about this sudden change in the intensity. Part of the reason should go to  The One Degree Factor:


  Dust clouds are building high over the Atlantic. An entire population of caribou is declining, while other species are pushed to the limits of their physical survival in the oceans. A respiratory illness, once uncommon among children in Trinidad, is now widespread. Amazingly, many scientists now believe these disparate phenomena may be linked to global climate change.

This and other such extreme changes happening all over the world constitute new normal. This is not your mother nature playing it's random dance sequence, this is very much our own creation.

Now only if we can stop screwing around with the nature.


July 27, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2005

Go Arfa

Other reason I like this news besides the obvious achievement by a kid is that it creates  healthy role model for kids in that region. Sort of like what we see here in US in the Spelling Bee phenomena !

From this cached  link

Little Arfa, who is the youngest MCP girl of the world, has invited Bill Gates to visit Pakistan and stay at her home. The invitation was accepted by Mr. Gates who had invited her to his home. She asked him to visit Pakistan and insisted that Gates stay at her home which he accepted and remarked that it would be fun.  

July 19, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2005

Whitney's Legacy

Story of Eli Whitney is very relevant in our times. Times of intellectual property debates, patent controversies and general concerns related to piracy.

Whitney's greatest contribution to American industry was the development and implementation of the American System of manufacturing and the assembly line, which he was the first to use when producing muskets for the U.S. Government. Whitney's concepts were later exploited by Henry Ford and others in manufacturing.

There exists question today over whether the cotton gin, which Whitney received a patent for on March 14, 1794, and its constituent elements should rightly be attributed to Eli Whitney; some contend that Catherine Littlefield Greene should be credited with the invention of the cotton gin, or at least its conception. It is known that she associated with Eli Whitney (along with other historical figures such as George and Martha Washington). Some historians believe that this invention allowed for the African slavery system in the Southern United States to become more sustainable at a critical point in its development.

Born in Westborough, Massachusetts, he was graduated from Yale College in 1792. While his ideas were innovative and useful, they were so easy to understand and reproduce that the concepts and designs were readily duplicated by others. Whitney's company that produced cotton gins went out of business in 1797.

He never patented his later inventions, one of which was a milling machine

Doron S. Ben-Atar, associate professor at Fordham University draws upon  Eli Whitney's story to drive home new findings regarding the evolution of intellectual property issues in US.

His central thesis captured in the book will remind everybody of other country - which apparently is following US but in a more secretive (and some would say more methodical way) way in exploiting the interpretations of intellectual property. That country is  China.

In Doron's word -

This book focuses on the role policies relating to intellectual property played in promoting the appropriation of smuggled technology which led to the emergence of the United States as the premier industrial power in the world. I study the evolution of the American approach to the problem of the relations between intenational boundaries and intellectual property from the colonial period to the age of Jackson. I examine the role of federal and state governments in that transformation and study the contradictory (some would even call it hypocritical) American policy. Officially, the young republic pioneered a new criterion of intellectual property that set the highest possible standards for such claims - worldwide originality and novelty. At the same time, through a variety of measures, the government endorsed and supported the violation of intellectual property of European states and individuals. The United States emerged as the world's industrial leader by illicitly appropriating mechanical and scientific innovations from Europe.

This issue needs to be understood at three levels - individual ownership(and later on corporate) of intellectual property, protection and interpretation within national jurisdiction and finally in the increasingly flat world protection  and interpretation across national boundaries.

Have we come full circle and finally met Eli Whitney in acknowledging the futility of patenting any technology?  In this world of fast innovation and fast replication - next generation Eli Whitney's will not be motivated to go to the patent office.

National level issues are well understood.  It's the global protection which is raising new concerns.  In a short history of the very idea of intellectual property - its only 200 yrs old ! - countries will be driven by their social-economic compass to interpret the property rights.  Be it providing cheap AIDS drugs to Africa or China proposing new technology standards to bypass patent regime, every country will use their domestic agenda to build new rules to either flout or to respect the ip issues. Near evangelical adoption of Open source in developing world is another aspect of this same phenomena.

Countries at the receiving end will definitely be quoting from Doron's work.

This issue will be here for some more time.

July 17, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2005

Redesigning the American High School

C-SPAN is running a live show hosted by National Governors Association. It's about fixing the education system world over and specifically US.

Dilip Thakore just finished his mildly suck-up speech. No new data points but lot of passionate pleas.  He made it a point to convey his painful 2-ocean crossing journey to make it to this esteemed conference (which was supposed to by and for the likes of Arnold-The-Kalifornian).

No Child Left Behind is a new tool and new reason for schmooz-fest. I dont see any new experiments or real concrete findings but the rehash of same old concern. No conference on No Child Left Behind without The Flatman !

Tune in now , as the Flatman Begins !

July 16, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2005

What happened ?

Paul Krugman lamenting over  state of the nation and specifically  Rove -

it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?

Make sure you check the wikipeadia article on Karl Rove.   

July 15, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack