Never give up!

A compilation of my thoughts and learnings...

Friday, November 28, 2008

A shame, A wake-up call...

“Terror Uninterrupted”, “War on Mumbai”, “Enough is Enough”: The screeching headlines of the past 2 days say it all. It’s been a shameful and regretful period of 48 hours, wherein a handful of terrorists held an entire city, an entire nation hostage. The worst part, the terrorists displayed brazen audacity in terms of the plan that they used for the attacks, as well as the targets that they selected for the strike. The Taj, The Oberoi, a couple of the defining icons of our country, where the who-is-who of our nation/world rub shoulders, were under siege. Here is a thought to ponder on, if the terrorists can enter such high-profile places, which have high-tech surveillance equipment and trained security personnel, and carry out a planned attack in such an audacious manner, how safe can a common man on the street feel?

In the aftermath of this attack, when we look back at what happened, there would be multiple reactions. The politicians have already started playing the game of one-upmanship, and are trying to sway the moods and emotions of people in their favor for political gains. On the other hand, there would be a growing consortium of voices blaming a certain community and a certain region for this tragedy. Without enough evidence, making such statements is only dangerous and inflammatory, and could act as a fuel for more such acts in the future. Personally, I don’t subscribe to these thoughts, because I have many really good friends who belong to varied religions. At the end of the day, each one of them is just like me: a simple, peace-loving person who wants a happy and meaningful life for his family, for himself and for his friends. So leaving these one-upmanship attempts and jingoism aside, the real question is what can we do to ensure that something like this never happens again?

NDTV ran a very good segment titled “Enough is Enough” late in the evening today. It was heart-warming to see some of the most-respected journalists and citizens of the country put forth their thoughts and urge fellow citizens to not let this incident die down as just another unfortunate incident, or to let politicians start another war of mud-slinging, but rather to unite together and lead our “supposed” leaders to take stringent actions that result in a more comprehensive and cohesive security regime. As Barkha Dutt and Pranoy Roy talked to multiple people, it was almost a surprise to see our ever-effervescent and cheerful Harsha Bhogle seethe with anger on this segment. While what he and Sanjana Kapoor reflected a thoughtful, mature and educated approach to tackle the issue and it’s aftermath, there was a senior female columnist (looking more like a Page 3 socialite out for a party) who chose wrong words to comment on the tragedy. Her comments about “faceless casualties” in “bomb attacks in crowded markets" versus “individual tragedy” in this instance, just because she knows one of the victims, had overtones of snobbishness and fake sympathy. Before her comments could do major damage in making viewers think if we were reacting more strongly this time because the affluent were under attack as opposed to the lower and middle class who have been the major victims in the past terrorist incidents, it was great to see a couple of other senior journalists, who were standing there with her, give a spin to her comment and lead the discussion towards a more profound difference.

Here is the most-defining comment from the segment. A doctor couple, who themselves were trapped at the Taj, saved the life of a critically injured staff member. This is what they (Doctor Prashant Mangeshikar and his wife) had to say,

Every life had to be saved, irrespective of who it was. I was really angry when someone made a phone call to check what kind of department he (staff member) belongs to. I thought what is he trying to say? If he was a Vice President of Taj, would he get special treatment? I said, forget it, he is a human being, his life has to be saved”.

If only our Page 3, socialite, journalist, Madame had chosen her words so meticulously!

Anyways, coming back to the question about what needs to be done, while I am not qualified in that field to suggest concrete steps, here are some thoughts (some others', some mine)

  1. Frame and publish a national policy on “zero tolerance for terrorism”
  2. Have a central intelligence agency – as opposed to multiple state/central agencies who are currently working with little or no co-ordination
  3. Have a thoroughly trained and highly equipped crisis management force, with a single command center, on the ground
  4. Have more units of NSG, deployed in a distributed manner to prevent and counter terror attacks, rather than have them act as bodyguards for our VVIP politicians
  5. Engage other nations and establish a global anti-terror organization that has a single agenda, "Wipe off terrorism from the face of this planet through education, through economic growth, through peace, and if needed, as a last resort, counter-offensive".

Having listed these, an even more important ask is the need to convince ourselves that it is up to “us” to fight this terror! For a moment, let's think "How would it be if instead of having illiterate/rogue netas, who don’t understand the ABCD of economics, technology, security, or global politics, we had smart, educated and immaculate leaders like Harsha Bhogle and Barkha Dutt hold the reigns of our nation?" We have many more such names that could easily put our nation on the right path, and lead it into the future. Wait a second. If we do have such able people, who might also be willing to lead us, what is stopping them from entering the fray? Again, the answer is “us”. We, the educated, the urbane, are never there to support these candidates even if they are willing to put in their candidature. When it comes to electing our representatives, we all shy away due to various reasons. This leaves the job of deciding, as to who comes to power, in the hands of the uneducated masses, who can easily be swayed under the influence of divisive/petty politics.

So as I end this post, I commit to change myself! When I wake up in the morning, Delhi would go to elections. And this time around, I too would be there at the polling booth to caste my vote. In the beginning, a single vote might not make a difference, but eventually it would. If I share my thoughts with like-minded people, and convince even a few of them to do the same, slowly it would have a viral effect, and that day might be a reality, sooner rather than later, when we all shout “Harsha Bhogle for PM!”.

To conclude, we have adopted a “Chalta Hai” attitude for too long. If India is to achieve it’s true potential, and become a peaceful, progressive nation, we must act now. Bahut ho gaya sona, ab to “Jago Re!”

For those who might be interested, here are the videos that capture Harsha Bhogle's and Sanjana Kapoor's discussion from that segment

Monday, March 26, 2007

Proud to be an Indian!

Last few days have been rather disappointing for many of us country men. The dismal show by our cricket team in the on-going Cricket World Cup has shattered a lot of dreams and hopes. Die-hard fans, including me, feel cheated for the faith that we had reposed in our highly-celebrated cricketers. After all, cricket has become a religion in our country. And to see our representatives fall like a pack of cards against the Bangladesh and Sri Lankan teams dealt a severe blow to our pride...

You must be wondering how come the above paragraph about our ouster from the World Cup makes me feel proud. It doesn't. But some incident related to it does!

On Sunday, I was visiting a nearby service center on account of some work. One of the attendants, while helping out, asked, "Aapko kya lagta hai sahab, aaj Bermuda jeetegi naa?" (Do you believe that Bermuda will win today?). For those who don't have the context, Bermuda's possible win over Bangladesh was our last chance for moving on to the next stage of the World Cup. Most of us had no hopes of that outcome. Hence, I was surprised with the optimism being shown by this person. I decided to ask him, "Ab tak ki itni ghatiya performance ke baad bhi tumhein lagta hai ki yeh team kuch kar sakti hai?" (After such a dismal performance so far, do you still believe that the current team can do anything?). His reply left me speechless. He said, "Kya kare sahab, aakhir apna desh hai!" (After all, it is our country!).

After thinking about this for a few minutes, I felt extremely glad. To see a guy, who hardly earns anything, whose life is full of hardships, and who has just recently had his hopes crushed by his team, show such pride and optimism was remarkable! To contrast this, there are many of us who are privileged, who have had a world-class education, but who still like to see the glass half-empty. In the quest for immediate greener pastures, we forget that we too have a great responsibility to contribute towards taking our country forward. A responsibility to show faith. A responsibility to rub that faith on to others. Mere criticism is not going to solve the problems. After all, the countries which are prominent on the world map didn't reach there from day one. They have reached there based on the vision, the faith, and the commitment of their denizens...

The pride and faith that was shown by my friend in the service center on Sunday makes me believe that we too will be there soon. Not just in cricket, but in all spheres of life. The love and the pride for the country is deep-rooted, and the prayers, along with the resolve to perform, will definitely yield results. It is just a matter of time, and for all of us to put our heads together. So this post is dedicated to my friend at the service center, "Raj". Thanks Raj for showing the faith. Hopefully, we all, along with our cricketers, will soon realize the responsibility that is entrusted with us, and do our country proud.

Vande Mataram!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Happy Women's Day!

Today is a day that has been ear-marked to celebrate the creator of this world. A day to celebrate the preserver of this world. A day when we celebrate the destroyer of all evil in this world. No, I am not talking about the Hindu Trinity of the TriGods – Lord Brahma, the creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva, the destroyer. Instead I am talking about “Woman”. I am talking about our mothers, our sisters, our significant others, and our friends. They are the ones who gave us birth. They are the ones who have nurtured and groomed us. And they are the ones who pray for us, and protect us from all evil in this world.

Today is a day, when we bow our heads in respect in front of all women to let them know how special they are. If they were not here, we won’t be there either.

This post is a tribute to my mom, my sister and my sister-in-law who have been my strength throughout. This post is also a tribute to all my women friends and relatives who have taught me in their own way what life is all about!

So ladies, on behalf of all men in this world, I bow my head in front of you.

Happy Women’s Day!

If you want to read more about the origin and significance of this day, here is a good

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hope - the fuel of life!

A few years back, I was with my uncle, giving him a quick tour around Bangalore. We suddenly came across a small crossing. There was a horde of people crowded over a very small shop. When we moved closer, I saw that it was a lottery shop and there were lots of auto-rickshaws parked nearby. My instant reaction on seeing this was, "These guys are crazy. They earn a meagre amount of money every day and then they go to the lottery shops to burn everything. Don't they care about their families...". On hearing this, my uncle said something which got deeply entrenched in my mind and heart. He said "It is this hope, of winning a lottery one day, that is keeping most of these people alive. If they lose this hope, given the amount of problems in their lives, they would simply die..."

Today, another interesting incident happened. Some of my roommate's friends were in town to give entrance exams for PG courses in medicine. They had stayed with us over the weekend, and were leaving today. While they were leaving, my roommate asked them to make sure that they hadn't accidentally left behind any of their belongings. To this, one of the guys jokingly replied, "Arre bhaiya, chinta mat karo. Ek student ke pass hota hi kya hai. Bas ek roll number aur ek pen..." (Don't worry friend. What does a student have. Only a roll number and a pen). I don't know what happened to me, but I instinctively replied, "Ummeedein" (Hopes). Everyone, including me, was surprised with this response. But when it sank in, all of us nodded our heads in agreement. And instantaneously, the above mentioned incident flashed through my mind!

Later in the day, when I thought more about these incidents, I realized that, subconsciously, I had said something which was so very true. Aren't we all living in hope? In hope of leading a happy life. In hope of having a successful career. In hope of achieving our dreams...

If there were no hope, there won't be any life!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Is Entrepreneurship more secure than a job?

I know that quite a few of you would be shaking your head sideways, ready to dismiss this idea. After all, doesn't a good paycheck at the end of each month give a bigger sense of security than the dreams of a windfall some years into the future... While a majority of us might answer no, there is definitely a segment of individuals who live with a philosophy that the answer to this question is a resounding "YES".

Before I present a case for this, consider the following facts:

  1. With globalization in full-swing, all organizations are trying to scout for work forces which offer maximum productivity and greatest return on investment. What this means is that if someone can do your current job better than you, or at a fraction of your cost, your job would be shifted.

  2. Mega-mergers/consolidations are in full swing. And if there is anything that would change around these, it would be the rate at which these happen. And the only direction for that rate is upwards. Each such consolidation presents an opportunity for the organizations to streamline their combined work forces, and hence layoffs are imminent.

  3. Technological advances are resulting in a scenario wherein, everyday, the effort/skill set required for doing any job is diminishing drastically. For instance, we all know how some large MIS (Management Information System) teams can easily be replaced by periodically scheduled cron jobs, which don't require any human intervention at all.

The biggest casualty of all the above are individuals who had got too comfortable in their jobs, and had stopped to evolve...

You must be thinking, "Agreed that these facts are true, but how on earth does that make entrepreneurship more secure"? If so, consider the following argument which might resonate with some of you...

Let me start by asking you a question. What is the best known protection against pathogens like viruses and bacteria? Yes, you are right, it is vaccines. A preparation of the same weakened or killed pathogen. Similarly, experiencing the insecurities and the uncertainties around your "Entrepreneurial Destiny" are the best way for you to prepare yourself against any other form of insecurity. As an entrepreneur, your very existence would depend on you being innovative; on you thinking on your feet; on you finding alternate paths if the primary one is blocked. If you are one of those individuals who hate to fail, you would always be evaluating new plans to succeed. All these would ensure that at no instant would you be resting on your laurels. While one plan is being implemented, which by itself has a pretty good chance of succeeding, your mind would have already moved on to evaluate the successive/follow-on strategy. Chances are high that, even before you know it, you would have lined up a very good strategy for survival, and possibly success, for the next few years.

Hence, the argument that Entrepreneurship can be more secure, as well as rewarding, for certain individuals. But before anyone jumps to any conclusions, let me clarify. I do not mean we can generalize this. This argument definitely does not hold true for "everyone".

While, the insecurities associated with the success, or the survival, of an Entrepreneurial Venture are grossly over-highlighted in a negative sense all across the board, the benefit of the same feeling of insecurity as an antidote against other evils rarely finds any mention. Hence, if you are one of those individuals who like to fight fire with fire, go ahead and take the plunge. In the long run, the bumpy "Entrepreneurial Ride" is definitely more cozy and warm than that office chair you have got so much used to...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A triple treat for future Indian Entrepreneurs!

All you fans of entrepreneurship in India, here is some good news for you. The following proposals are being considered by the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology). When implemented, these would come as a big boost for promoting entrepreneurship in the country:-
  • Most of the IITs are planning to soon have a venture capital fund on their campuses. IIT Bombay is in talks with Infosys Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro and other major IT players to seek help to start a venture capital fund. IIT Madras, too, is considering setting up a VC fund on its campus. IIT Delhi, will explore the option in future, it says.
  • IIT Madras is setting up a research park along with 35 companies. At the research park, the institute would reserve space to accommodate start ups by students and faculty.
  • There is a recommendation given to the Department of Human Resource Development, Universities Grant Commission and All India Council for Technical Education, to encourage all science departments and technical education/training institutions to include entrepreneurship and new venture management in their course curriculum.

Now that's called a triple treat for all Entrepreneurs-in-the-making. Isn't it exciting to see that more and more colleges are starting to plant the idea of entrepreneurship in young minds, as well as guiding them some of the way? By also encouraging students to seek out early-stage entrepreneurs to work for, the colleges could guide the students on a path of exponential learning, growth and rewards.

Click here to read more details on the above mentioned proposals.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

About Venture Capital And Innovators

First of all, here's wishing everyone a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

2006 was an year of tremendous growth and success for India. 2007 promises to be yet another year where the upward trend should continue!

As has been the theme for the past few posts, this time too we will focus on some important aspects related to entrepreneurship. These are Venture Capital, Advertising and Innovation. Instead of capturing my own thoughts, this time around, I'll introduce you to some really interesting information and thoughts on these topics by a couple of my very close friends.

Ritesh is maintaining a blog wherein he is following the Venture Capital situation in India. Here is a post by him which highlights some important facts about VC funding in India that has happened in the past 2 years. In case you are strapped for time, and don't click that link, here are some important statistics from that post:

VC Fundings in India
2005 - $482 million in 52 deals
2006 - $240 million in 49 deals till June, $300 million in 50 deals expected in remaining 6 months

This is excellent information to support my previous post about "Entrepreneurship in India". India might not be there in the league of big boys yet, but things are definitely getting started ;-)

Pranav is maintaining a blog wherein he talks about interactive marketing, innovators, new ventures etc. Check out this post in which he has captured some interesting insights about innovators. These were provided by Rohit Agarwal in his recent talk at Barcamp Bangalore 2. Also checkout some of Pranav's posts related to marketing and advertising. They might come in handy for all you entrepreneurs. After all, isn't Web 2.0 all about ad revenue? ;-)

Happy Reading!