Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tire Companies ...

Goddamn, another flat tire. The second one in the last three months and the third in the last year. And each time, its been the same thing - Three of four nails in the tire puncturing it and then the tire just getting slashed beyond repair.

Each time on I-40.

Something's fishy here. It almost gets me thinking that tire stores are going around throwing nails on the highway !

Saturday, July 30, 2005

And time stood still ....

Everybody has a tendency to romanticize/demonize the past. All the details of the past seem to blend into a few key highlights. Once the overall tone of the past experience is set, very soon, those are the only things that you remember.

Pilani, for example, was super fun. I had (and still do) a super great gang of friends, lots of free time, a great library, no worries, lots of movies. However, there was also the power cuts, 120 degree heat, shitty food and the run down labs. I hardly remember the bad things though, because the overall experience was so positive.

On the other hand, there are some experiences which overall left a negative impression on my mind, which led me to forget some of the nice things that it was accompanied by.

Indians living outside India tend to do something similar. India is either romanticized or demonized beyond reason.

India is either remembered as the land of solid morals, lack of confusion, family, festivals, color, laughter, realness, passion, a feeling of being alive, cricket, rain dances in white sarees, chicken tikka, witty grand parents, newspapers with substance, servants to do everything, a relaxed pace of life, breaking the law with reckless abandon, the indian flag, republic day parades, the software boom, india rising, india shining ....

Or

As a land of poverty, filth, corruption, long queues, crowds, death, sweat, power cuts, heat, dowry deaths, illiteracy, potholes, caste-based reservation, crooked politicians, slowness of progress, obstacles, being cheated, the need to cheat to get ahead, conservative people, nosy neighbors, dominating parents, irritating relatives, a feeling of being stuck, religious riots, flies, death on the road, filthy hospitals

So what is India ?
Its all of the above, of course.

However, India is changing everyday ...
Its losing some of the good stuff - Morals, respect for parents etc ...
And its losing some of the bad stuff - Less poverty, reduced corruption.

The problem is that Indians outside India have a static picture of India in their minds, a sort of time trap. And they want India to conform to that image when they go back.

People go to India and say "Shit, look at the clothes girls are wearing, shocking !" - They get upset when India moves away from the image in their mind.

"Wow, a movie ticket costs 100 bucks now !" - This screws up their image of India as being the land of cheap pleasures

And so on ....

Well, India will change, you cant expect it to stay poor, traditional and backward just for NRIs to go there and be able to reconcile the country with the image in their heads.

Take India as it is, with all of its good things and all of the bad - She is no divine virgin beauty and neither is she a beaten up, haggard near-corpse.

She is the best thing to be - She is real.

Friday, July 29, 2005

BITS, Pilani

The Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani (BITS) is my alma mater. I came across this cool photo taken by a student who is helping out with Tsunami Relief efforts. The T-Shirt the man in the foreground is wearing is a Pilani shirt. And the numbers spell out B-I-T-S in binary !

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Parallel Lives

With all the growth and developments in India, most of the cities seem to be bursting at the seams with shortages of electricity, water and space on the road !

Of course, I am optimistic that India is only going through a temporary phase of growing pains. I believe there are three key things required for a countries development - Intellectual assets, natural resources and physical infrastructure. In my opinion, physical infrastructure is the easiest thing to set up. As long as you have the money, building a road just takes time, whereas if your population is dumb, nothing can help you. And of course, Indians have a good amount of brain power.

However, back to the topic - When I went to Chennai last time, I landed in the morning exactly during rush hour and it took me about 45 minutes to travel about 12 kms. When I was leaving, my flight was late at night and the same distance only took me about 15 minutes.

And this got me thinking ... A lot of the infrastructure we possess in India isnt used during the night - City roads are deserted, most schools are empty, etc ... I was wondering how it would be if we could split the population up into two parts - One that would work/study during the day and sleep during the night and with the other half sleeping through the day and working during the night.

This would instantaneously reduce demands on our infrastructure by half - Although this is extremely difficult to implement in its entirety, there is a trend towards something of this sort with the proliferation of call center jobs.

I for one, wouldnt mind working in the night, thats what I do currently as well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Jet Airways

Being in the Procurement division of a large company with operations in several countries has to be among the most interesting jobs in the world, atleast for me ... Need to research multiple economies, global travel, negotiating etc ....

These guys travel everywhere ! At a recent dinner, a few Procurement folks from one of our clients started talking about some of their travel experiences in different parts of the world. These guys are all Americans and they have been to most of the Asian countries.

They started making jokes about China's airlines, especially China Eastern and about the quality of the Iranian airline and the Jordanian airline and so on. When they got to the topic of Indian air travel, they unanimously agreed that Jet Airways was one of the best airlines in the world and that the food on Indian flights was superb ! I was very happy to hear that and I went home and bought some Jet Airways stock - If it could make these guys who have travelled on every airline in the world (literally) happy, its got a good thing going.

And after all the founder of one of the most successful investment firms in the world (I forget his name, and no, its not Warren Buffett !), his advice is simply - "Buy the stock of companies whose service you like - If you go to a store and like its service, buy their stock" ...

More power to Jet Airways !

Monday, July 25, 2005

So rich and yet so poor

How does one define wealth ?
Its really not that simple.

I spent the weekend in Northern Virginia with a good friend of mine.
And we got to talking about money and how much is enough. And the only conclusions seems to be that nothing is enough !

It almost seems that the more one earns, the more the person gets into debt. And to give you a real life example, there is this family I know - Dad's a doctor and is raking in the dough - Million dollar home, 5 luxury cars (even their 16yr old daughter has an Acura), cool electronics etc ... Pretty wealthy you would think, right.

Well, the guy is broke for all practical purposes - I probably have more cash than him. And I have the luxury of quitting my job at any time and going on a round the world tour. He doesnt - He has three kids in expensive schools and pays 100K a year on their college tuition alone. If he quits/loses his job, what happens then ?

I believe that money is good, if used rightly. I guess its just a matter of staying level headed and purchasing things that you need and then ensuring that the situation is that you own your possessions and not the other way around. I want to earn a billion dollars and live on a million a year. Hmmm.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

100th Post ...

Unbelievable, but true ... Its my 100th post today in the span of about 3 months. I have gone from being a person who turned his nose down on bloggers to a person who blogs every day, enjoying himself immensely in the process.

I have had discussions about blogging with some of my friends and I have come to two conclusions about blogging.

1. There are a huge number of blogs, and I am constantly amazed by the quality of ideas coming through on these blogs. Is there a way in which this huge pool of brains can be exploited for the purpose of something good ? Looks like there are so many individuals who have a little bit of free time and a lot of brains. Can we not set up a coordinated pool of brains to tackle some world problem ?

2. There is a feeling (Not mine) that "Those who can, do, those who don't want to, blog" ! Hmm, maybe theres some merit to that statement.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Angry Drivers ....

So, I finished up with a meeting and I got back into my car and started backing out of my parking spot. And while I was backing up, I was trying to get my sunglasses on at the same time, and so I was moving really slowly.

And when I had backed up a good deal, I realized there was a guy in a Ford Thunderbird waiting for me to back up. And I took a look at him and he was pissed off that I was backing up so slowly and gave me the finger. And started honking.

Normally, I would have either ignored him completely and slowed down even further or I would have given him the finger as well.

However, I did something different this time.

I got out of my car, walked up to him and knocked on the guys window. He rolled the window down, getting ready for a fight. I said, "Sorry I delayed you by about 15 seconds. And I can't give you back the 15 seconds of your life that I have taken away. So here's a dollar to compensate for it". And I gave him a dollar bill.

The guy didnt know what to say.
I dont get angry anymore.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Update ...

Ok, finished the rest of the presentation today and it went very well. We talked about the "Big" project with the client and they wanted to do a smaller one first and if they are happy with that, then we will get the "Big" one in January next year.

Ok, time to take some time off !

Update ...

The first day of presentations went really well.
We started off with a round of golf - I just drove the golf cart ....

I realized that my ability to do small talk has almost disappeared ! All the conversation I could manage during golf was "Nice Shot", "Ooh, almost" etc ....

I have become boring, the only thing I talk about with any level of enthusiasm is Supply Chain projects ... Hmm ....

Anyways, the client is already starting to talk about deadlines and implementation.
That has to be a good sign !

I just have to make sure that tomorrow's presentation goes as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Big Day ...

Thursday and Friday are going to be among the biggest days of my life (so far).
I am making a presentation to a client on a large project ....

If they approve, I will be back in India, building and running my own company.

Fingers crossed !

Watch this space for updates.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Working from home ...

I work from home.
And I must say there are several nice things about it - Flexibility, convenience, no long commute etc.

However, I think sometimes the flexibility can be a bad thing because it makes it difficult to motivate myself to start working in the morning. I sometimes don't even start working until 2 in the afternoon. And TV is a major tempation !

And another bad thing is that I almost invariably end up working until midnight ! However, overall, I think I would find it difficult to go to an office every morning at a certain time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Exit Tax

I recently read an interesing article in the Indian Express.
http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=49764

The article talks about how the Indian Government should try and collect an "exit tax" from graduates who move abroad and stay there.

Collecting an exit tax of $10,000 (About two month's salary) would net about 4,400 crores, money that could be used in a variety of different ways.

There is no doubt that Indian education is highly subsidised and students are given the advantage of this subsidy on the premise that they would stay in India and contribute to India's development directly (Not indirectly - We'll come back to this point). For example, the University Grants Commission contributes 26 crores annually to BITS, Pilani. So at about 2,600 students, thats roughly a lakh per student per year.

And of course the subsidy in the IIT's and other government-run institutions is much higher.

There is often a claim that people who settle abroad generate more benefit for India than if they had stayed in India. I think this is not accurate, because in addition to the amount they earn and send back home, they are creating jobs abroad that potentially could have been created in India, creating more wealth in the process.

An exit tax is a good idea.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Wipro/Infosys in a few years ....



Source: Gondh

Economists ....

I am working on an interesting project right now that involves trying to understand where interest rates are heading in the US. And after reading countless vague and unequivocal articles by prominent economists, I understand why Harry Truman wished he had "An one handed economist", who would be incapable of saying - "On the other hand" !

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mao sees Red !

I read something really funny the other day .. I dont know whether its actually true or not ...

You all know about how traffic lights work - "Green" means Go and "Red" means Stop and so on.

Apparently, when Chairman Mao Zedong was the Chinese Premier, he was at a stop light one day and the red light came on and his motorcade was forced to stop.

This pissed him off, because red was the color of the revolution/communism and he didnt like the fact that it was associated with a slowing of speeds/stopping.

So, he ordered all traffic lights in China to be changed around such that "Green" meant stop and"Red" meant go ...

Imagine the confusion in China for the few days that the lights were changed around !

Saturday, July 16, 2005

If the Shiv Sena had its way .....

In the last few years, a sort of pseudo-nationalistic fervour has gripped Indian politicians and they have gone on a name changing rampage ....

Madras - Chennai
Bombay - Mumbai
Calcutta - Kolkata

and countless others ...

This, however is not limited to India ...

In South Africa, the capital Pretoria is going to have its name changed to Tshwane, Zimbabwe's capital Harare used to be called Salisbury and Mozambique's capital's name was changed from Louren Marques to Maputo

Closer home, Rangoon went back to its ancient name of Yangon as did Peking to Beijing.

Which got me thinking, is India a really "Indian" name ?

The name India is derived from the river Indus.

The river Indus had seven main tributaries and so the local inhabitants called it Sapta-Sindhu (Land of seven rivers). As the seven tributaries are part of the one river, the entire river system came to be known in time as Sindhu.

Persian explorers spelled Sindhu as Hindu as was their practice. The Greeks dropped the 'H' and called the country "Indos".

And this is the coolest thing .....

It's name was given to the entire subcontinent by the Romans, who adapted it to the current "India". The word India is the form used by Europeans over the ages !!

If Mr. Thackeray ever becomes the PM, I guess I wont be an Indian anymore, I will be a Sapta-Sindhuan !!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Fault Tolerance

Systems in India are really poor - Manual, outdated and slow.

Take the example of road traffic - People jaywalk, there is no concept of lanes, no speed limits - In short, its absolute chaos.

The Western world has superb systems to manage road traffic - Lane management, on-ramps, coordinated traffic lights etc ...

So, how do both these systems end up with almost the same number of traffic casualties ? How is it that the lack of systems in India doesnt increase casualties drastically ?

In my opinion, the biggest reason is the high amount of "Fault Tolerance" built into an Indian's brain - Even if the traffic light is green, drivers will look all around them to ensure that they can go ahead. On the other hand, in the US, drivers assume that every other driver will drive according to the rules/system - So they dont look around when the light is green and never slow down at intersections - In other words, their tolerance for a fault is very low .....

Of course, this is nothing for India to be proud about !
This fault tolerance is just a reaction to the lack of systems and is probably adding a buffer on top of everything that ends up slowing things down.

For example, remember those railway crossings in India that would be closed 15 minutes before the train came by. In the US, its hardly a minute before and a few seconds after - Of course, if there is a similar error in the signalling system, there will be far more casualties in the US than in India simply because Indians are expecting the worst at every point of time !

Thursday, July 14, 2005

iPod Innovations

I love my iPod.
I think the iPod is going to go down in history as one of the best products ever.

People who havent tried listening to music on an ipod, you have to try it - It'll blow your mind.

However, I would like to see two additions to iPods ....

1. Bluetooth

Adding Bluetooth to the iPod will enable seamless communication between the device and my computer which will eliminate the need for wires. This would also allow easy transfer of music/photos. And considering that the iPods already have a lot of storage space, maybe they could be used some sort of a PDA as well - Maybe just to store email/contacts etc ... Only for storage though, not for sending mails

2. Wi-Fi Access

With the rapid spread of W-Fi hotspots (http://www.boingo.com), adding internet access to iPods will serve two purposes - Access to Internet Radio and Podcasts.

That would be convergence at its best !

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Aid to Africa

So, the G8 has decided to double aid to Africa and cancel all debt.
http://allafrica.com/stories/200507111507.html

Cancelling Africa's debt is definitely a super thing for the developed world to do. However, I have some concerns about the other one - Aid.

I dont agree with the way aid is measured. 50 billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but the problem is that it is going to be largely goods and not cash - Which means that you are going to get about 50 billion dollars worth of American/German/Japanese/etc goods ... And not 50 billion dollars worth of African goods.

Let me explain - What can $10 buy in the US ? - About 4 cans of soup. The same $10 can buy about 40 cans of soup in the developing world. And by giving most of the aid in the form of goods, the contribution is diluted.

Another example is contributions by Pharma companies to Tsunami relief - If they make a contribution of $10 Million worth of drugs, it probably only cost them $1 Million, because manufacturing costs for Pharma companies are such a small % of total costs.

In the short term, aid is great, but if there is to be long term improvement in the quality of ife of Africans, subsidies in the developed world (Farm/Tobacco subsidies in the US for instance) need to be removed so that African products can compete in the world stage.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Value Factor

IT companies in India havent been around for too long ... So, I dont really know of too many people who have spent more than 15 years at IT companies.

Most folks that join IT companies in India have two options after a few years of working - They get moved into Management or they have to change jobs.

This is an interesting phenomenon and I decided that its worthy of its own defined ratio.

Value Ratio = (Value Contribution of Employee)/(Cost)

When the employee joins as a fresher, their value ratio might be 2 or so. Their ratio grows very fast in the first few years, because their value increases much faster than their salary. However, after a point, the incremental value added increases very slowly.

This is because, in the IT Industry, only the last few years of experience really count - A person with three years experience is pretty much equivalent to a person with ten years experience, because the first seven years worth of experience of the latter is likely to be irrelevant, due to the rapid change in technology.

So, for the employee to continue to grow their value ratio and simultaneously get salary hikes after about 3 years, they have to move into management.

IT is one industry where experience isnt that important - In fact, it might be a liability - If you are a pure programmer (no management experience) with ten years experience, nobody will want to hire you because they can get a guy with 3yrs experience who is as technically sound as you and much cheaper ....

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hot News ....

A certain someone who is in India on a visit is getting engaged to a celebrity - Mail me for more details :-) Remember folks, you heard it here first !

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Wipro

This is probably applicable to all Indian software companies - However, I am going to write about Wipro. Wipro, as a company has been constantly moving up the value chain - Starting with testing and other mundane activities moving up to becoming a true IT consultant.

The challenge is to become a true business partner with major companies and gain their trust to the extent that they are willing to let you plan their business strategy. Once you get into business strategy planning, there is no looking back, as you become their "go-to" company for all kinds of services.

Wipro has probably built up its service capabilities to the extent that they can take on all the work that would result from such a partnership - However, the missing link is the "project feeding unit" - The consulting business.

Wipro generates a lot of cash - 435 Million dollars in 2004. And cash is all powerful in business.

I read on an article on rediff.com that Wipro has been planning to purchase a bug ticket consulting firm for quite some time - Since 2000 and in 2002, they came close to a $650-700 million acquisition in the US, but it never fructified.

Vivek Paul defended his decision, declaring that the differences in corporate culture might have been too difficult ....

So, whats the solution ? If Wipro doesnt move to the next level and acquire a blue-chip consulting firm, it is going to reach a ceiling in terms of its capabilities. And Deloitte & Touche is up for sale :-) And Premji's elder son works at Baine Consulting in the US.

Interesting .....

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Computer Science in the USA

In what is arguably the most wired and technologically advanced country in the world, there is an interesting trend - Fewer Americans are choosing Computer Science as a major in college and in fact, the number of Computer Science majors has dropped by 60% between the years 2000 and 2004.

In an interesting conversation with Gargs, he suggested that Americans, in spite of being world leaders did not enjoy competition and preferred to monopolize markets by mergers, acquisitions and other brute force approaches.

I think the same fundamental concept applies to the drop in CS majors - An informal survey of students at my ex-University revealed that the reason for the reluctance to major in CS was because students felt that they would not be able to get a job because "Its going to get outsourced to India anyway"

Interesting ...

What about a scenario in which the number of CS graduates in the USA continues to plummet until there are hardly any CS engineers being produced ?

In a parallel example, with the advent of Chinese and Indian steel manufacturers, almost every steel plant in the US has been shit down - However, if China decided to stop supplying Steel to the US, these plants could be re-started in 6 months or so.

However, if 10 years down the line, India decided to stop software exports to the US, and the US didnt have any CS graduates, how long would it take for the US to become self-reliant again ? A long time ....

Thats how future wars are going to fought - With every country in nuclear stale-mate, wars will be fought in proxy by control of commodities and services.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Truly Random

How is it possible to create a true random number ?

By definition, a random number is something that cannot be predicted. Is the number that appears on a roulette wheel truly random ? I dont think so, because the number can be predicted based on the study of the wheel's mechanics.

When a random number is created in Excel, it's only random until we find the function that creates the number. Essentially, all random numbers we come across in daily life are pseudo-random.

For a number to be truly random, it has to be born without parents - It has to be created out of nothing, there should be nothing that allows you to track backwards towards the root. If true randomness exists, so does God, probably.

Hmmm.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Stages of Development

Its going to be another long post today ;-)

I am currently working on a project that studies the usage and availability of various commodities/metals around the world. One thing that I observed is that the usage of commodities/metals is higher in the richer countries. This of course is obvious.

However, another interesting observation (Not my own) is that there are five distinct stages of development for a country in its journey from being a "developing" country to a "developed" country ....
  • Development of infrastructure
  • Development of light manufacture
  • Development of heavy manufacture
  • Increased consumption of consumer goods
  • Development of a service economy
Based upon the experiences of West Germany and Japan during the post-World War II period, and of the Republic of Korea in the period 1970-95, changes begin at roughly 5-year intervals and each of the stages takes about 20 years to complete - with stages overlapping.

Hmm, fairly basic stuff so far. However, this is the cool thing ....

During each stage of economic development, consumption of particular mineral commodities rises dramatically.

Stage I - Infrastructure

  • Characterized by large increases in consumption of cement, crushed stone, and sand and gravel
  • Cement consumption may rise from a few tens of kilograms per person per year to 0.5 to 1 ton of cement per person per year.
Stage II - Light Manufacturing
  • Consumption of copper may increase from less than a kilogram per person per year to around 10 kilograms per person per year.
Stage III - Heavy Manufacturing
  • Consumption of aluminum, iron ore, and steel rises.
  • Aluminum consumption typically increases from less than a kilogram per person per year to 10 to 30 kilograms per person per year.
Stage IV - Consumer Goods
  • Increased consumption of durable goods such as automobiles.
  • Increases in the consumption of metals with specialty applications such as nickel and fuels
Stage V - Service Economy
  • High but static rates of per capita consumption of minerals in finished goods
Now, lets get to the crux of the issue - What is the true gap between India & China ?

Stage I - Infrastructure
India's per capita cement consumption = 99kg - About 15% of this stage completed
China's per capita cement consumption = 450kg - About 60% of this stage completed

Stage II - Light Manufacturing
India's per capita copper consumption = 0.8 kg - About 8% of this stage completed
China's per capita copper consumption = 2.5 kg - About 25% of this stage completed

Stage III - Heavy Manufacturing
India's per capita Aluminium consumption = 1 kg - About 5% of this stage completed
China's per capita Aluminium consumption = 4 kg - About 20% of this stage completed

India is lagging behind China - However, we do have to remember that the Chinese started their reforms in 1979 (11 years before we did)

This has gotten me excited about cement stocks in India !

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My favorite Indian Train Names ....

There's nothing quite like an Indian train journey and I have always been fascinated by the colorful names Indian trains possess ... Some of my favorites ...

Agniveena Express : Howrah - Asansol
(Name of work by Bengali poet Nazrul Islam)

Andaman Express : Jammu Tawi- Chennai
(Each state has a train named after it and as the Andamans are islands and cannot have train services from the mainland, but at least can have a train named for them!)

Black Diamond Express : Howrah - Dhanbad
(Coalfields in Dhanbad)

And there are four trains in Tamil Nadu, named after the four major dynasties that ruled it ...

Cheran Express: Chennai - Coimbatore
Pandyan Express: Chennai - Madurai
Pallavan Express: Chennai - Thiruchirapalli
Cholan Express : Chennai - Thiruchirapalli

Flying Ranee Express : Mumbai - Surat
This is possibly my favorite - I have travelled on this, and I must confess that this ranee has lost a lot of her steam ;-)

Grand Trunk Express : New Delhi - Chennai
(Name modelled on the famous Grand Trunk Road)

Matsyagandha Express : Kurla - Mangalore
(The fisherman's daughter who was the mother of Vyasa the sage; literally, "fishy-smelling")

School Train : Kurseong - Darjeeling
Train to Darjeeling in the morning, returning in the late afternoon; Presumably from the number of school children that take it.

Chetak Express : New Delhi - Udaipur
(Named for the battlehorse of Maharana Pratap, ruler of Udaipur)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

An Open Letter to Indian IT Companies

In the last decade or so, Indian IT companies have seen tremendous success in the global arena by providing software solutions at low cost.

I write this letter to you all to voice my concern over what could be a major threat to Indian IT companies – the threat posed by the arrival of high-paying foreign IT companies in India.

In India, every year there are a large number of engineers graduating. However, not all of them are good and of course, some are much better than the other.

At first, let me try to classify the Engineers produced by the Indian Educational system every year:

Superb (Highly creative, Globally aware)
Very Good
Good enough
Sub-Standard

I’s and II’s would typically have more exposure to International business practices, typically will be more quality-minded, have a clear ability to see the big picture and have the ability to go beyond the problem definition and add functionality that was not asked for, that they deem to be useful to the client. There is possibly a higher proportion of I’s and II’s in the IIT’s, BITS and the other top institutions.

Initially, Indian IT Companies had easy access to I’s and II’s and their workforce comprised primarily of them. Now it would appear that with the influx of several high-paying IT companies (such as Accenture, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft to name a few), Indian IT companies are being pushed largely toward the II’s and the III’s. However, even today, Indian IT companies do not have a problem getting quality-employees as there are not enough jobs being created in India every year.

When that point is reached, Indian IT companies at a starting salary of 2 lpa or so, would be under significant pressure from the MNC’s at a starting salary of 6 lpa+. Ultimately, the company with the better workforce will do better. Indian IT companies will observe that they have fewer I’s and II’s willing to stay/join them. Though they might still be able to deliver very good solutions, the lack of creative input and the “big-picture outlook” afforded by the I’s and II’s will negatively impact the amount of innovation in their products as compared to the ones offered by MNC’s. The “Over-Deliver” ability offered by the I’s and the II’s will be lost.

Indian IT companies have always been considered low-cost players – However, they have had the foresight to emphasize the importance of quality as a company goal. However, if companies start perceiving a “lack of spark” in the Indian solutions as compared to the MNC solutions, companies might outsource only their low-criticality, low-tech, low-pay work to Indian companies with the high-criticality, high-tech, high pay work going to the MNC’s.

My suggestion to Indian IT companies is that in order to maintain continued access to I’s and II’s, they need to develop a two-pronged HR strategy where there are two starting level job cadres for which recruitment is done.

There should be one 2.0 lpa cadre and a 6.0 lpa cadre. For the 2.0 lpa, sufficient testing should be ensured so that the recruits are at least of class-III. For the 6.0 lpa jobs, a different kind of interview is required. This would be more oriented around business process knowledge, international business awareness and quality-mindedness. This cadre would attract primarily I’s and II’s.

Then for each project, there should be one 6.0 lpa employee per ten 2.0 lpa employees. The increased cost will be more than compensated by the added benefit. The 6.0 lpa employees will take on more responsibility and will be involved in project management decisions.

Indian IT companies will then no longer be viewed as secondary to the MNC’s on college campuses. Most people have two major criteria when it comes to evaluating jobs – money and job satisfaction. The I’s and the II’s will be happier in the 6.0 lpa jobs not just because of the money, but because they of the increased responsibility and creative freedom involved. They would perceive themselves as being on a career fast-track. Sufficient training is also to be provided to the 2.0 lpa employees to enable them to join the 6.0 lpa ranks, so that they do not have a sense of resentment.

In a people-intensive industry like IT, the company with the better people wins! This suggested combination of 2.0 and 6.0 might prove to be ideal for Indian IT companies as a combination of low cost and creativity.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Porsche ....

My boss let me drive his Porsche to lunch :-) Its a 911.

It took some time to get used to the car - The pedals are placed really close to each other and it feels strange to be sitting so close to the ground.

After the initial teething troubles, it felt pretty good and I could feel the car's raw power - And it was a nice day for a convertible.

However, overall, I dont think the car lived up to my expectations of what a Porsche would drive like - I think I actually prefer my own car !

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Drunken Towing ....

Scenario:
  • You are at a bar
  • You are stone drunk
  • You can't drive home
  • You don't want to leave your car there

Typical Solution: Take a cab home, come back the next day and take your car home

Out of the Box solution: Call AAA, get them to tow your car home, its like a dollar a mile :-)

Warning: Don't try this every weekend !

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Blockbuster Return Policy

Blockbuster, the video rental store doesnt allow you to return DVDs to a different store from the one that you rented it from.

There are a bunch of people driving around the US on long trips and with the proliferation of in-car DVD systems, it would be great if they would change the policy and allow people to return their DVDs anywhere they wanted.

For example, lets say a samily leaves on a road trip from New York to Orlando, Florida. They start with two DVDs. When they finish watching it, they can quickly take an exit in North Carolina and return them. They can then pick up some more DVD's, watch them and return it in Florida ....

Maybe, if this catches up, there will a Blockbuster every few exits like McDonalds !

Friday, July 01, 2005

Freedom Fries

President Calvin Coolidge introduced the Volstead Act on Jan 17th, 1920, thereby introducing prohibition in the United States.

There were a coupla reasons for this.

One of them was predictable considering Coolidge's party affiliation (Republican) - The 1920's were one of the periods of heavy immigration into the US, with a good portion of Europe still in tatters after World War I. Most of the immigrants were Irish, German and Italian. Coolidge claimed that prohibition would be one way to protect the US against the "pollution" of the beer and wine drinking immigrants !

Also, prohibition had been made into a patriotic issue during the elections - There was a heightened sense of patriotism due to the war and intense hatred for Germany and Italy whom the US fought against, in the war. And so the second reason for prohibition was this:

The Germans drink beer, and so, in order to be patriotic, we must not drink beer
The Italians drink wine, and so, in order to be patriotic, we must not drink wine

Of course, prohibition was a colossal failure and indirectly gave a huge amount of financial clout to the mafia, including Al Capone.

The "Don't drink beer because we hate the Germans" thing reminded me of something more recent - The renaming of French Fries as Freedom Fries !!