Welcome to Randhir's Blog!!!

Welcome to Randhir's blog!!! You will find links to popular categories/posts on your right. If you are new here, please subscribe to our RSS Feed and visit Randhir's website at www.randhir.net

Monday, September 21, 2009

Who is a typical entrepreneur?

A recent report from the Kauffman foundation for entrepreneurship titled “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur” points out a few interesting facts which gives hope to the married or about to be married folks who have entrepreneurial aspirations:
1. The average and median age of company founders when they started their current companies was 40.
2. 95.1 percent of respondents themselves had earned bachelor’s degrees, and 47 percent had more advanced degrees.
3. Less than 1 percent came from extremely rich or extremely poor backgrounds
4. 15.2% of founders had a sibling that previously started a business.
5. 69.9 percent of respondents indicated they were married when they launched their first business. An additional 5.2 percent were divorced, separated, or widowed.
6. 59.7 percent of respondents indicated they had at least one child when they launched their first business, and 43.5 percent had two or more children.
7. The majority of the entrepreneurs in the sample were serial entrepreneurs. The average number of businesses launched by respondents was approximately 2.3.
8. 74.8 percent indicated desire to build wealth as an important motivation in becoming an entrepreneur.
9. Only 4.5 percent said the inability to find traditional employment was an important factor in starting a business.
10. Entrepreneurs are usually better educated than their parents.
11. Entrepreneurship doesn’t always run in the family. More than half (51.9 percent) of respondents were the first in their families to launch a business.
12. The majority of respondents (75.4 percent) had worked as employees at other companies for more than six years before launching their own companies.
What's your take on this? Is this applicable to India as well?

To ensure you don't miss any of my blog posts, please click on subscribe to add my blog in your favorite reader.

You can also follow me on twitter @rhebbar to get frequent updates on this and my other blogs along with hear from me about other things I find interesting as well as provide feedback on this post or my other posts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Much ado about Khan ….

After two days of non-stop news, follow-ups and more news by the sensation hungry news channels about how SRK was ill-treated by the US immigration authorities, it doesn’t look like we are anywhere close to this coming to a close. The news channels are so desperate that they’ve flashed stupid tweets by a few film-stars on twitter as though they’d got an official quote from the said stars. These so-called stars included one director (Karan Johar) who’s only hits have been with SRK and a new and upcoming star who in a recent interview said that SRK was the one person she was dreaming about working with. Of course, she’ll try to suck up to him.

Mr. Khan obviously is adding fuel to the fire or maybe started the fire himself aided by his close buddy Karan Johar by saying that it was only because "My Name is Khan" (word-for-word even in today's interview) I was called for questioning. Suspicion about this being a well-planned propaganda to popularize a movie called “My Name is Khan” surprisingly directed by Karan Johar himself and lead star is who else Mr. S.R.Khan himself adds credence to this theory.

For the first time, I agree with something another Khan (Salman) said in response to all this hullaballoo. He said it is only because US is doing such things that there hasn’t been another attack on US since 9/11 eight years ago. Whereas we on the other hand with all the appeasement that happens have been undergoing terror attacks ever so often. So true!!!

If Sanjay Dutt could go against his own country, how can America assume SRK wouldn’t do something against a third country against whom the US believes the whole Moslem world is angry with. Of course, the US is a little paranoid about terror and of course, they are guilty of living in their own world. But SRK is no MJ or Brad Pitt. And more importantly, this paranoia is yielding results, isn't it? There is a random algorithm that pulls out people for secondary questioning and lo and behold on SRK's 100th visit to the US, he was picked randomly once. And he's raised such a hue and cry.

In a hurry to get on the right side of Khan some stars said, just Google SRK and you’ll find 100s of listings. To that, I’d say Google Sanjay Dutt, he too will get tons of hits. WTF does that have to do with the US Authorities following thru with a secondary questioning that their system has prompted them to do. If they start googling every person whose name comes up, I’m sure it will take a lot more than the 66 mins it is supposed to have taken. Another said he’s the top 10 global stars of the world. This to me is like the US national sports events being called the World Series. I’m sure <10% of the Non-Indian population have even heard his name, let alone know anything about him. The fact that Indian movies are making big-bucks outside India only tells you that Indians are everywhere and long to watch any-damn feel-goody Hindi movies that K-Jo and SRK come up with every now and then. It does not make anyone a top-10 global star.

SRK says he was traumatized by this experience. Did he get tortured, whip-lashed, asked to strip and dance or what. He was asked to say who he knows in US and their phone numbers. What’s wrong with that? There’s the Indian Govt getting involved in this with one great minister (what’s with all the Cong ministers lately shoving their stinking feet in their mouth almost everyday) saying that India should resort to a Tit-4-Tat … c’mon you jerks. Do what you are supposed to do and stop getting involved in these sort of zero-impact issues just because the sensation-hungry news-media and the propaganda-hungry film-star+director are creating a big-fuss about nothing.

I can’t believe I managed to write a 2-page post about this stupid topic. But now that I’ve written it, I might as well go ahead and publish it. So here goes!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Funny book titles ….

The status of a friend on Facebook *No.1 Below* started me off on this tangent of searching for funny book titles … some of these I’d probably buy them just for the title and some of them you don’t need to buy since the entire message is in the title. :-)

  1. If You Want Closure inYour Relationship, Start With Your Legs
  2. I was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen
  3. How to Write a How to Write Book
  4. Living with Crazy Buttocks
  5. That and 'Nude Mice
  6. Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues
  7. 40 yards to the latrine
  8. Big Fart!!
  9. To be Honest: By Frank Lee
  10. The Economy is Recovering: Knott Quite

Find these and more on http://www.bored.com/funnybooktitles/ and http://www.laughitout.com/2007/06/funny-book-titles.html and http://www.robotnine.com/2009/03/24-odd-and-funny-book-titles-and-covers.html

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stop sneezing on me

At a couple of recent parties I attended, a typical conversation:

Expat 1: I hate the Hong Kong government. They are making such a big fuss of the Swine-Flu. Two kids go down with a Flu in a school and they shut down the entire school for 14 days.

Me (thinking to myself): Would you have liked a few 100 going down before they took that step.

Expat 2: Yeah, they are crazy. My secretary has taken two weeks off to stay with her child since most day-cares are either not accepting more kids or have shut down themselves.

Me (thinking to myself): Poor U!!! Having to get your own coffee – must be a lot of hard work!!!

But again, with all these measures, if the number of swine-flu cases has reached 100 in HK and rapidly rising, one begins to wonder what these numbers would have looked like if people were left to fend for themselves and Swine-Flu was treated as any other flu (as some of these people seem to suggest should be the case). That probably also explains why a bulk of the cases coming into India and China are from countries like US and UK. They don’t understand the seriousness of this. After all, its a flu. Suggestion to the WHO: Next time, please choose a scarier sounding name.

Last heard, the Indian Government warned its citizens against visiting US (probably a step taken more to get back at the US for warning its citizens against visiting India because its terror-prone) after the number of confirmed swine-flu patients in India crossed 30 and most of them were students/visitors returning from US. And it’s reached Bangalore too!!! So friends back in Bangalore, watch out for the guy who’s just returned from an overseas trip who’s not feeling very well.

Before my rant is over, I need to say something about the title. Well, the thing that really disgusts me is the way some people sneeze openly into the environment and direct their sneeze in a particular direction (e.g. onto the ground) as though they were doing us all a favour by doing so. Time to spread the culture of using tissues in India? What say? Compare this to the paranoia and dirty looks one gets here in HK whenever you sneeze even if you are using a tissue.

PS: I am allergic to dust. So I do end up sneezing (a friendly one) once in a way. Please don’t assume its a case of swine-flu and report me.

Related Posts:

Swine Flu – Better Safe than Sorry

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Facebook - Get your own username

Here's something I noticed today on logging onto Facebook that might be useful. Get your own username instead of the current number that connects you to Facebook. I always hated it when my preferred first name (as user-id) got snatched away despite not having a very common name (randhir). This time will try to be up at 12:01pm (what time-zone are they talking about) on the dot to get this .. :-)

Just kidding, I don't think its that important or I am that desperate. But its really a nice to have.

e.g. When I refer people to my LinkedIn profile, I just say www.linkedin.com/in/randhir. Isn't that so much easier to remember than some combination of first letter of first name + last name (as in www.twitter.com/rhebbar) or Gmail (initial + first letter of first name + last name). So confusing or my blog (last name + first letter of first name). So here goes the mail below. Go ahead and get your own user-name.

Starting on Saturday, June 13th, at 12:01pm, you'll be able to choose a username for your
Facebookaccount to easily direct friends, family, and coworkers to your profile.
Publish Post
To select your username, visit the link below after 12:01pm on June 13th:

To learn more about usernames, visit the Help Center:

Facebook Team

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Google Squared – A cool time-saver

Google Labs today released Google Squared – a tool that "constructs a table of facts about any search category you specify".The product is still pretty raw right now, but think of it sort of like Google's short-term answer to the very cool Wolfram Alpha's structured search—with results displayed in a spreadsheet format. This is an amazing time-saver when you are trying to put together a tabular list of information about a particular topic.

Just searched for Bangalore Italian Restaurant and it comes up with detailed information of Description, Address, Phone Number, Business Hours, Rating and you can add new rows (restaurant names) and columns (attributes such as Ambience). Since its still in its early stages, some of the information is actually incorrect. But my guess is it will learn from user inputs on similar searches done, changes made by users and keep improving so that a couple of months down the line this same search will give you much better results.”

Tried the same thing with Hong Kong. But, Google still does not have its Translate tool integrated with Google Squared (like it is integrated with its Gmail app that allows me to now read the Chinese spam mails I receive from my bank among others). This means most of the info is in Chinese and I cannot get the address from the table directly. But a great start none the less.

Wolfram Alpha might be the smarter engine, but google has the advantage of a strong and committed user-base (like yours truly), lot of related tools that it can integrate with and its going to be tough for Wolfram Alpha to catch-up with them. May not be that hard for MS to replicate this in Bing. But competition is always good for the end-consumer (i.e. Us).

My Recent Posts

Using Windows Live-writer

Coffee Break Labs – My new initiative

Elections 2009 – My thoughts

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Coffee Break Labs – A new initiative I am helping with

I have recently been helping a friend Sridhar crystallize the idea for a non-profit community oriented entrepreneurship promoting site called Coffee Break Labs. I’ve been in touch with several entrepreneurs in India over the past year or so and almost every second person I meet either is working for a start-up, is working on initiatives besides a full-time job or is a full-time entrepreneur. This of course is without even including the family-owned businesses who too are a core of this group.

There’s a silent mass-movement towards entrepreneurship that is taking place in India maybe aided by the recession and the lack of a lot of action in companies. One look at professional networks such as LinkedIn will tell you the number of groups that are getting formed to bring together these enterprising individuals, help them learn from each others mistakes, find like-minded partners for their next venture or just find some more inspiration to convert their aspirations into a real venture. LinkedIn we feel is too generic a platform and is more suited to job-seekers.

CBL (I have another rant coming on how much I hate the name :-)) is a movement that aims to bring these entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs together, share inspiring stories, learn from each other and provide tools (tips, incubation, advice) and resources (Financial: Angel Investors, VCs, Contacts, Financial Institutions, Govt grants and Non-Financial: Sourcing, Hosting, Software, Hardware, etc ) and a whole lot of other stuff. These are initial ideas and the way we see it – CBL is going to be shaped by the first few people who join the community and work with us. So if you believe in this story, have suggestions for us or just want to enjoy the ride and learn with us as we try to grow this community, you can visit us at www.coffeebreaklabs.com and sign up and / or follow us on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn so that we can keep you posted on our progress.

Using Windows Live-writer

I decided to try out something new today – an offline blogging tool called Windows Live-writer from of course who else but Microsoft that should allow me to increase the number of rants per week. Now that the election fever has died down, I am thinking of something new to rant about.

Coming Up: CBL – A new initiative I am helping with

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hillarious reasoning of the Indian mandate ...

Stolen from comments section of .. http://churumuri.wordpress.com

Credits: Gokulam 3rd Stage


All politics is local politics. Sample conversation overheard somewhere in rural Karnataka.

Kamalamma: “aa uduga yaar vosi helu” (Who's that young guy, tell me, tell me?)
Gowramma: “Indramma idralla, avar mommaga ante” (oh, he's the grand-son of Indramma - Indira Gandhi - referring to Rahul obviously)
Kamalamma: “alala, yeshtu muddaagade mundedu. bellage olitavne” (oh, he's so adorable, so fair and shining)
Gowramma: “kenne myaake guli beeltade. aadre adyeno heltavne artha aagakilla” (he's really adorable, but i've no idea what he's saying)
Kamalamma: “nin votu yarge? yaav party? asta na?” (so who are u voting for - the hand? referring to Congress)
Gowramma: “illa sumkiru. kamaladoru vote ge 500 rupayi kodtaarante kanri” (are u crazy, the Lotus party-BJP is giving 500 Rs per vote)

This conversation probably replicated itself in every constituency in the country. If the BJP didn’t pay cash, the UPA ensured it was done through the government machinery by implementing the NREGS. Everybody likes free money. Villagers like free water, power and Rs.8 per year of kandaaya on an acre of land (if at all collected). City dwellers like Rs.10000 annual fees for an engineering course for their hudugas and hudugis. Whose father’s what knot goes?


All offence intended to the dirty politicians.

Excuse the poor effort at translation if it does not sound as humorous as the original (Rural Karnataka dialect).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Elections 2009 Results - My thoughts and some more

Despite being a vocal supporter of the BJP, I'm thrilled about the results as a whole and no the market jump up (Up 17% and closed due to hitting the upper circuit) is not the reason. Wondering why? 

The maturity of the Indian Voter collectively has left me stunned for two reasons.
  1. Vote for Stability: The country was in pain crying for stability and a kick up the backside for the third, fourth and whatever fronts. And the only reason they existed was BJP did not have a Pan-India presence (No presence in AP, TN, WB, KL, and J&K). So what does the Indian Voter do - make the choice clear. No more third and fourth fronts for me.
  2. Vote for Performance: AP (YSR), Bihar (Nitish), Gujarat (Modi), Orissa (Naveen Patnaik), J&K (Omar Abdullah - although a very short stint), Karnataka (BSY - A short stint again) and Delhi (Sheila Dixit) clear positive votes for performance and UP (Maya) a clear vote against (although UP is too complex to describe in these terms). Did I miss any others?
The good thing here is the BJP ruled states (most of them) have returned them. They need to continue to do the good work and repair the damage in other states such as Mah/UP/MP/Rajasthan caused due to infighting (Raj), vote-split among factions (MNS) among other reasons.

Despite all the talk about Muslims grouping against BJP, the BJP have no reason to complain unlike Mayawati who is cursing them for ditching her despite her efforts to act as their messiah by arresting Varun Gandhi and detaining him under NSA. You don't go around threatening a community and not expect them to group up against you. This chest-beating might have won the BJP a seat in Pilibhit, but resulted in a rout in UP and a significant loss of Votes around the country. I know several friends who were sitting on the fence who decided to switch to Congress just because of VG. And this time, unlike the past elections, most of my friends did vote and in a close election (several seats that I was monitoring were neck-to-neck and kept switching back and forth), these few voters VG pissed off did matter and probably resulted in atleast 10-15 fewer seats.

For the BJP, it is time to look beyond Advani. The main stream media does not give him his due and that was probably the biggest reason for his not being able to emerge taller than Manmohan. Most people don't realize his contribution in building a party (he did this and not Vajpayee) that he brought so close to being a strong rival to the Congress and the importance of that in a democratic polity. Before the BJP, our best alternatives were Mr. Deve Gowda, Mayawati, Laloo and Co. His voluntary sacrifice of the PM contender post in favour of Vajpayee in 1996 is really admirable. Contribution cannot be measured by the posts you hold which in the India Context is probably directly proportional to the number of times you switch parties. He's toiled hard for a party and it has almost established itself as the rival to the Congress that India desperately needs. But alas, so close yet so far.

The next step for the party involves establishing a presence in the states where BJP has virtually no presence and cleaning up the in-fighting in . Since most of these are bipolar states already, BJP cannot make a decent entry into these states without allies and unfortunately for the BJP, it cannot hope to make any allies without toning down its extreme Hindutva content. Unfortunately for them, when you say Hindutva, people only think of Godhra, Ram Temple, Muthalik/Mangalore, Kandhamal and others. 

So the way out is to find a moderate leader - a Sushma Swaraj, a Jaswant Singh or a Arun Jaitley and please not MM Joshi - the only thing I remember about him is his efforts to rewrite History books like that was the biggest priority in HRD ministry and completely stop any tacit spport for the rowdy elements within the BJP, stop all Ram-Talk and condemn/take swift action against any such BJP and non-BJP elements who engage in this. 

And maybe in 2014, after the Congress screws us for another five years, there will be a wave in favour of the BJP (and this time across the country).  Or maybe, just maybe, the Congress and all other parties will take the warning that the Indian Voter has served on them and start performing. Wishful thinking??? I hope not.

Older Posts

Friday, May 15, 2009

Indian Elections 2009 – The “D”or is it the “C” day

After 4 weeks and 5 phases of Elections, a heated campaign and mud-slinging battles galore, the day of Counting of votes is finally here. It’s been a passion following Indian Politics for me ever since the 1996 election which was the first time I almost voted. I was so excited about being able to vote in a few months that I’d started reading up on the politics, different parties, different leaders and had started forming an opinion and sat through 72 hours of counting, news reports, horse-trading, parties switching sides, forming bargaining groups and the whole works. There’s already enough signs that this one’s going to be one better than the 1996 episode of the biggest soap opera of them all – “The Great Indian Election” and the whole world is watching this one (even Obama and Hillary apparently).

Does the Indian Electorate really want instability?

Let us try to analyze this from what the electorate gains from this:

  1. If a coalition government does get formed, every small party comes into demand and their particular regions can get its pound of flesh from the Center as Chandrababu Naidu so wonderfully did between 1998 and 2004. Already see signs of this with Nitish and TRS.
  2. If a government is formed and doesn’t last its full term like 1991 and 1996, they get one more round of elections which going by last estimates, ends up with parties spending up to a % or two of India’s GDP. Where is this money going to? It is the common people. A large portion of this is probably black money which is coming out into the open. But the elections is surely one of the big revenue sources for a lot of small-scale industries, small entrepreneurs and party-workers. Why wouldn’t the Indian electorate (read common man) want this?
  3. The electorate if it can give a good enough fractured mandate that there is no government that can be performed. That is probably the best time for India. There is no one out there to ruin the country’s economy and loot the country’s exchequer. What better mandate than that do you want?
  4. What else will explain so many regional parties getting formed and actually doing well? Time for a Kannada Janatha Party maybe so that we too get our pound of flesh - central funds, an NSG unit, a lot more railway lines, international airports in other second-tier cities - Mysore, Mangalore, Belgaum?

This is probably the greatest insult that the Indian people collectively are throwing on the whole polity. If they don’t get the message now, they never will. And I have a strong feeling, they probably never will until there is a mass movement - a revolution of some sorts and we are too comfy in our own lives to do anything about this.

The other end of the argument is that people are not thinking of this at the national level or at least not enough people are thinking about it at the national level. Even assuming that, this is in fact the case, who is to blame?

What are the national level issues raised everyday in the news by the main-stream media (especially those stupid anchors – led by Arnab Go’saw’me – I would if I could)? Varun Gandhi and his shouts against a community, Priyanka Gandhi’s nose and smile and whatever else resembling her grand-mothers (I was hoping someone would say it resembled mine :p). Rajnath Singh having a tiff with Arun Jaitley and his sulking for days on end like a kid who’s been denied his lollypop, Party hopping by one person or the other, breaking and forming coalitions, shouts against a caste, sucking up to a religion, calling people names and this is the only news that is reported. The day a national party released its Infrastructure Manifesto, the biggest news was Sanju Baba promising a Jadoo ki Jhappi to his sister Maya memsaab.

While one part of me tells me that the only way to protest against this “Soap Opera” style reporting by the media is by totally boycotting the main-stream media and following the results on a more fact-based avenue such as maybe the election commission’s official website, I know I just won’t be able to resist the temptation of rushing over to check out which joker has jumped onto which bandwagon. That is probably the reason the Main-stream media sticks to the soap-opera style reporting. They won’t change until we change.

Can I resist the temptation? That is the question besides of course the more important question – who’s going to form the next government.

PS: My bet is on a Naidu or Pawar or Nitish or some other dark horse propped up by either the BJP or the Congress or maybe both. That will be fun - a government that has the support of around 500 members of parliament. 

Older Posts on Indian Elections 2009:

Indian Elections 2009: My Vote and Why

Change is definitely on its way

WTF - Is this stupidity or is this arrogance?

Tweeting URL: You can follow me on twitter here

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Swine-Flu: Better Safe than Sorry

As part of my research for Zeopane, I started reading a lot about flu in general and branching off of that, reading on swine-flu - the latest killer which is slowly but steadily spreading its tentacles. Flu Vaccines is a killer-app that we are looking at for validating our technology since they are delivered transdermally and our low-cost microneedle patch will save costs significantly and also allow easier vaccination of the poorest people in the developing and under-developed countries. 

I know this post sounds like a pitch. :-) But the point of this post atleast is not that. After seeing more than 25 ads a day on TV in Hong Kong on Swine-Flu and ways to prevent it, HK and China as well have learnt their lessons from SARS. I was concerned if there's enough of an awareness in India about the disease. This is just my tiny effort to spread awareness of the symptoms and the precautions that needs to be taken. 

What are the symptoms of Swine FLU?

  • Lethargy
  • High fever (102 degrees+) along with chills, aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Nausea and/ or diarrhoea
  • Fatigue

How do you prevent its spread and / or how do you stop yourself from being infected?

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid visiting very crowded public places.
  • Avoid touching the mouth, nose or eyes, which are primary modes of transmission.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue -- dispose it off and wash your hands immediately
  • Avoid close contact with sick people, as far as possible.
  • If you get sick, stay at home.
  • Be well hydrated with fluids.
  • Eat a nutritious diet and build up your immune system. 
It's easy to say "Oh, this is a Mexican/SE Asian phenomenon". But with all the Air Travel that takes place these days (especially between India and SE Asia) and with the near 100% circulation of the air within a flight, it's a very strong possibility that if you don't take the said precautions, it could reach India. Although I do admire the fact that India has been very cautious in the airports, you never know when this killer can break through.

And knowing what happened in China with SARS (repeated denials for over 4 months) just to ensure the transfer of power happened smoothly in March 2003, I won't be surprised if Mexico's current claims that Swine-Flu is under control (especially after several governments including China started blocking people and products from Mexico) is a total or partial lie. So, please do take your precautions. 

Better to be safe than Sorry!!! And do spread the word around by sharing  these details with friends and relatives.

Older Posts on Zeopane that you might like to read:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

WTF - Is this stupidity or is this arrogance?

Rahul Gandhi's latest statement on the Quattrochi / Bofors issue  is a killer - I am stuck for words here. How do you react to this? When asked if the CBI is being misused by his regime, he says

"Every party which is in power could put pressure on institutions. It is a fact," he said, adding that every government tries to push its people into such agencies. "

Even if this is indeed true, shouldn't he be ashamed of saying this. His screwed up party ruled our country for 54 of the 62 years of Independent India and his screwed up family ruled us for over 30 years directly and over 40 years directly or indirectly. If you ask him why there is so much corruption in India, he's probably going to say every party is corrrupt. If you ask him why is there so little done by the government to solve the country's problems (Terrorism, Poverty, Communalism, Casteism, Corruption)  he's going to say no party does anything. 

Is he really as dumb as his statement shows or is this his arrogance of being the natural heir to the monarchy he thinks India is? I am seething here ...

And to add to my anger is another article I came across on rediff titled "Rahul Gandhi no more a political pappu".  How long are we going to keep buying this crap from our so-called leaders?

Older Posts: 

Friday, May 01, 2009

Greenery of my garden city??? :-(

The greenery of Bangalore City or what's left of it still (as seen on Google Maps). The small green patch in the Center is Lalbagh (about to be cleaned up partially or completely with the new Metro Station planned there) and the one on the right is the National Games Village Stadium.

No way can we call this mess of concrete a garden city, can we? 

But the positive spin about all this is the citizen activism and the buzz around getting the politicians to stop s%$%ing us hiding their corruption / nepotism under the guise of development. I really can feel the change happening around the country even from outside India. I can't imagine how exciting it must be to be a core part of this. In hindsight, we may have to thank Pakistan for providing the final trigger with 26/11.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Save Lalbagh, explore alternatives for Metro - Please sign the petition!!!

Last week, a group of Bangalore Residents under the umbrella of Hasiru Usiru got together to protest against the running of the Metro Rail through Lalbagh. This Metro Rail Station will result in indiscriminate felling of trees and destroy the last remaining greenery spot worth talking about in Bangalore. Do we really need this Station going through Lalbagh? 

I feel one of the best examples of a poorly planned project that will in all probability not serve its intended purpose is the Bangalore Metro Project.

  1. A metro that will be used by such a small part of the population. It doesn't cover enough of the city for starters to be used by more people and become a widely used transport system. 
  2. A metro which atleast with its current plans won’t be able to meet the city’s public transport needs. I am sure it will help, but its surely not the magic bullet it is being touted as.
  3. A metro which is surely not state of the art. Who uses over-ground metros these days? They are so much slower, so much noisier, need so much more maintenance due the vagaries of wind, rain and other weather elements and so much  more uglier.
  4. A metro that will need car-parks around it which will lead to more destruction of greenery.
  5. A metro that will have malls around each station that will lead to even more destruction of greenery.
  6. More than anything else, even if this is the best solution for us, whenever  something like this is pushed through without as much as a public debate or atleast a debate in the legislature, there surely is something fishy about it.

Please sign the below petition and voice your opinion against the destruction of Bangalore's last surviving greenery. Also share this with all your friends from Bangalore or friends who have visited Bangalore and enjoyed its pleasant weather because if you don't do it, the next time you come to Bangalore, the weather might not be so pleasant and you won't have any right to bitch about it. :-(


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Zeopane needs your help

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are in a critical phase in Zeopane. We have made a lot of significant progress in the last few weeks. Based on feedback from a couple of VCs we approached and some honest introspection, we strongly believe that we are now at a stage where we need some specific and relevant skills on the management team and/or the board of advisors. So I'll provide a brief recap on the company, our technology and our current status and the kind of people we are looking for.

If you can help us out by spreading the word among your friends in the industry (irrespective of where they are located) and to well-connected friends who might know others, I'd really appreciate it. Of course, any contact that comes through you, we'll ensure that when we go to the next level, your assistance will be suitably rewarded. This will be over and above the satisfaction you will get from helping a pain-free drug-delivery technology reach the market and help save millions of lives.

Zeopane is an early-stage medical device start-up based in Hong Kong that has access to a unique and innovative nano-scale drug-delivery technology called Zeolite microneedles. Microneedles is the next-generation of innovative transdermal drug-delivery technologies and is being pursued by big names of the likes of 3M, J&J, BD among others. We have done thorough research on the competition and have strong reasons to believe our technology is superior in terms of costs and in terms of features.

We have already prototyped the technology, patented it (US and PCT patents filed and approved) and validated the technology in in-vitro trials. We are now moving into in-vivo trials in collaboration with some partners with a lot of experience in medical device commercialization and are looking to raise capital for the same. We plan to be ready to move into the first phase of human trials if all goes smoothly by mid next year. In order to strengthen the management team and the advisory board, we are looking for

  1. Management Partner: Strong background in pharmaceuticals or medical devices (preferably in a start-up) in a middle to senior management position with relevant experience in commercialization of medical devices, business development or clinical research / validations and regulatory affairs in medical devices. The person should be either willing to move to Hong Kong / Australia (that's where one of our partners is) or India (that's where another potential partner of ours is) and / or travel frequently between two of these three places.

  2. Advisory Board Member: For a person with the above skills and experience, but is not up for a management team position (right away due to current job commitments or not at all), we are also open to looking at getting them on our Board of Advisors (in which case they'll need to participate in occasional meetings and be available to guide us to move forward with our commercialization steps) in exchange for being a part of our growth story.

  3. Biochemical Engineer: A bio-chemical engineer who has experience in the manufacturing space or the capability to work with the scientists in understanding our critical IP around nano-technology based drug-delivery and preferably zeolite based micro-structures and helping us setup the processes and infrastructure to begin manufacturing micro-needles. If you know someone who you think might fit the bill but is not willing to commit to this right away, do put me in touch with them so that we can work out an arrangement that will be beneficial to them and the company (an advisory role for now and a position in the management team once we make more progress for example).

Please share this post with friends, relatives and acquaintances by e-mail and through social networking sites that you are a part off, send out a tweet on twitter with this post or blog's address and do whatever else is possible to get the word around and eventually reach people who might be able to help me out. I may be sounding desperate. But this is a very crucial time for this company and technology and that's the reason I am trying to push forward with this.

Thanks in advance for any help that you can provide. You can contact me or have them contact me at arhebbar (at) gmail.com in case of any interest / need clarifications.

My sudden burst of active blogging and tweeting

This blog hadn't seen activity since August-September of last year. How then did I become so active in this space over the last one week. This one week has had more activity (traffic, updates, format changes) than the whole of last year. How did this come about (you must be wondering)?

It all started with my efforts to revamp our company's website(www.zeopane.com). Having been out of touch with doing anything technical for the last one year and probably more (considering that I was mostly managing developers for a year or two before that), I really had a tough time getting stuff done. Faced a few minor challenges such as connecting to the FTP server using Adobe Dreamweaver (apparently - the user account had expired), designing a UI that looked atleast half-decent (didn't want someone to come to the website and think "Oh!! This must be some really cheap start-up) and getting Apache Server setup on my computer to test my website changes (apparently due to a port conflict with Skype using the same port). I had to really go surfing into tons of blogs to get these problems resolved and some of these were finally resolved by random posts by someone who faced these problems before. That's what got me blogging.

The burst of Indian political scenario focussed posts and tweets stem from a deep desire to a clean, changed and flourishing India and a strong belief that we are close to making some major changes and that this is a critical election for us as a country. Seeing the many young and dynamic new breed of politicians coming out of high-paying jobs to contest elections, got me thinking that I should do something. The least I could do was spread the message. Twitter, FB and my Blog was the media I chose.

But the last five days have also been my most inefficient in terms of progress on Zeopane. And this is a critical time for us. So looking at my current priorities, I will try to be less active on the tweeting, facebook, blogging scene for the next few weeks and focus on making some progress with Zeopane. Wish me luck!!! As the visitors to my blog are mostly my friends, I will go out and make one more post later today giving an update on Zeopane and suggesting ways in which you too can help us and take part in our story without of-course revealing anything that might be harmful to the company.

Coming Up: Zeopane - Some Updates and Seeking Assistance

Friday, April 17, 2009

India Elections 2009: My Vote and why?

Living in a democracy where we swear by the secret ballot, I am going out and sharing my opinion on whom my vote is reserved for this time. I guess I am not breaking any rules since I unfortunately won't be able to vote. But a promise I've made to myself is that I'll not only vote in the next election, but will also take a more active role in this. Inspired by all the leaders who've given up careers and made the move to clean-up this mess, I'll surely take some action come the next election.

Coming to the topic at hand, I am going all out in support of the BJP for several reasons:

1) WYSIWYG - What you see is what you get? At least they are being vocal and proud of being the rightists that they are. Unlike the Congress, who claim they are secular but what about the muslim appeasement by turning a blind eye to infiltration , making statements that muslims have first right to Indian resources, and rescinding POTA and putting back a similar law in place after 4.5 years of their rule (or should I say mis-rule and a dastardly incident which opened their eyes or was it just a short term measure to cool down the heated tempers among Indian citizens). Need I talk about the shoe-throwing episode and the history behind it.

2) Party that is not family-centric: We are a democracy and not a monarchy under the Gandhi family as Sonia Maino Ghandy and her children along with the rest of the coterie seem to think. BJP is an entirely grass-roots driven party with almost every leader coming up through the ranks on the strength of his or her own work or abilities. Take Narendra Modi for example. He's a national level leader now largely for his development in Gujarat.

3) Takes a stand against the muslim (yeah I said it) favoritism (or do we say appeasement) that is rampant across all parties by being soft on fundamentalist organizations like SIMI, by encouraging subsidies like for the Haj (have we ever heard of a Teerth Yatra subsidy for Hindus or maybe a visit to the Vatican for the Christians - that's too small a votebank to focus on). I believe the whole BJP strategy of supporting the Ram Janma Bhoomi Movement (of course they didn't start it) was to ensure that Congress Party's votebank politics is shown up for what it truly is.

4) BJP's vocal vows to get back the black money (predicted to be near 1.4 trillion USD) stashed away in tax-havens across the world. See this. If nothing, it shows that the BJP is much less corruptible (they have tons of Congress leaders that have moved into their party over the last 10-15 years) and they have to play the game until the game changes which might make it difficult to say that they are 100% clean. But atleast we'll have a lot more of our tax-money going back into development schemes.

5) BJP government will come without the baggage of the Left and this will be a huge huge relief to the Indian Economy. The last five years have been back-breaking with every forward step being blocked by the left parties that were supporting the government (Was that really support or was it another puppeteer managing the MMS puppet other than of course the lady in 10 Janpath).

6) In terms of policies, BJP has been more populist than the Congress (Rs 2 a kg Rice vs the Congress's Rs 3 a kg rice) because that's the only way you can play it in India (unfortunately). But going by the track-record of their work between 1998 and 2004 where India (atleast Urban India) was truly shining, I think they should do a decent job with managing (or atleast not harming) the Indian Economy. They initiated several infrastructure initiatives that have made no progress in the past five years maybe??? because the Congress realized they would get no credit for it (how cheap???).

7) Although besides the NDA comes to power, I pray that they come to power with the support of a handful of the new generation of independent candidates such as Capt. Gopinath from Bangalore South, Manu Digvijay Singh (the one I mentioned in a previous post) and the several IIM grads contesting the elections all across India so that they can keep a check on the crazy elements (such as Varun Gandhi) within the BJP going berserk.

If you are still reading, thanks for your patience as I bitch my heart about why I hate one party and don't mind another (the lesser of two evils since we need to have a party in power unfortunately), do me,  yourself and our country a favour. Come election day, Go out and exercise your vote!!!

India-Pak screw-ups

India messes up big time (http://tinyurl.com/ck9a7j)  with DNA, Anajali Waghmare fiasco and Pranab Mukherjee Election focussed??? dumb as always double-speak (here and here). 

Dawn - A leading Pakistan Newspaper puts PoK as part of India(http://tinyurl.com/cuzylr) in a map that they publish. Not sure what they are trying to do to themselves. I guess an effect of the "Copy-Paste/Reuse culture in IT in general (maybe the web-development was outsourced to India)" so rampant these days and a bit of laziness to go find another image or a lack of technical know-how do some image-editing. :-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

HKUST Entrepreneurship Club - Enrichment Talk by Roger King

Nice talk overall by Roger King (See bio here) organized by the MBA Entrepreneurship Club. Roger is an Adjunct Prof at HKUST-Kellogg eMBA who teaches Entrepreneurship and Family Businesses, has worked on several family businesses, headed companies such as SASA and Pacific Coffee and has had a pretty interesting career. I'd heard him speak the last time about Pacific Coffee and it wasn't very inspiring I must say. Partly because that wasn't his best (he will say luckiest phase) although he did end up making a good chunk of money on it.

Some takeaways:

  1. Look for a rich father-in-law who will fund your ventures and allow you to use his strong network. :-) I was all ears!!! ;-)
  2. Always keep an eye out for your exit strategy. His reasoning for why he chose to exit Pacific Coffee was that they had a few failed attempts at growth thanks to an overzealous person-in-charge, Starbucks had come in a few years back and was expanding quite fast and he just didn't see the kind of growth that he wanted. Around the time came a rich realty focused conglomerate looking to expand into F&B.
  3. His narration of how he negotiated a deal with SASA to pay for his services as CEO in share options (over a three year period) instead of funds was intriguing. Again Negotiation rule 101 - there's always a Win-Win option. Need to use this in my negotiation on the Zeopane patent transfer with HKUST TTC later this week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How I lost 20 pounds in under a month?

One early wintry morning in Columbus, I woke up and slowly ambled across to wash my face. One look at the face in the mirror woke me out of my slumber. I was shocked to see how much I’d put on in the past few weeks and how I hadn’t noticed this all these days (the whole problem of seeing gradual changes each day). One look at that sphere in front of me made me decide that it was time for action. Long story short, in under a month I’d come down from about 202 lbs to 182 lbs. A previous post when I was going through this phase.


I always had very strong beliefs in the power of the human mind. Like Paulo Coelho says in “The Alchemist”, you want something with all your heart and the whole world conspires to ensure you get it. A few things I did to ensure that it happened: 

  1. Visualization – I put a photo of my lean self (from ages ago but it doesn’t matter) at a location where I could see it every day.
  2. Set a concrete goal (I will lose some weight by next month is just not good enough and I will try to lose some weight soon is probably the best)
  3. Believe you can do it (I of course had this belief since I’d recently gained about 8-10 lbs hibernating in the damned winter of Columbus. I knew the first few lbs would be a cake-walk and with all my efforts described below, I should surely get close to the target.)
  4. Diet + Exercise (It can never be just diet or just exercise)

a.       Diet: I stuck to healthy food (Subs and Veggie-Delight at that most of that month – had just read about that Subway Mascot guy losing so much of weight eating subs) or home cooked chappathis with sabzi (preferably cooked with no or min oil).

b.      Exercise: 5 days a week of 45 mins of aerobics on the cross-trainer first thing in the morning. I’d read that first thing in the morning helps you lose weight since most of the carbs from the night meal have been digested by then. Alternately, do it after 4-5 hours after a meal. Sports of some sort – Tennis/Volleyball at Bel-Air Court.

  1. Setup a Challenge – I told everyone in sight that I was going to set out to lose 20lbs. No one believed I could. One of my friends (Ravish) actually took up a bet that I couldn’t do it. It was fun to see how he was ever-willing to take me out for some fast-food treats all of that month and the look on his face when I declined.
  2. Get a few easy wins early on (The weight I had just gained was easiest to get off and this really helped motivate me for the rest of the month)
  3. Make it a fun exercise – The challenge and fun/games everyday really helped make this a fun experience. And of course, the encouragement and the discouragement (from Ravish) really helped.

Thanks a lot to my friends (Ravi, Ravish, Gops, Chandhu, Mahaniya and a host of others) who were there with words of encouragement and support (that's obviously a very important factor too). They helped ensure my strong faith in myself wasn’t baseless.

PS: A disclaimer I need to make is that losing so much weight in such a short time is not believed to be good. You know your body best. I am one who’s more easily prone to gaining / losing weight within a range of 160-200lbs. So it wasn’t that big a deal. :-)

Shoe-shy politicians

Looks like Jarnail Singh - the journalist from Dainik Jagran is the saviour of India. He's scared the s%%t out of all politicians all over India especially in the ruling party since it appears a shoe is all it takes to get you the boot from contesting the elections.

Get all your dirty old shoes ready and vent your anger now so that they get the message.

Change is definitely on its way

A note I received from a friend. Change is definitely on its way. I had goose bumps all over after reading this and of course other similar stories.

Even though I have been a vocal supporter of the BJP because of the TINA factor (there is no damn alternative), I am inclined to think that we need to make a strong statement by voting for such candidates even if it means not being able to get the person elected and potentially allowing another 5 years of UPA mis-rule (considering that most of these candidates are strong in the urban areas where BJP is believed to be strong). Because only by such action, can we encourage more such people to come forward and in a way give these mainstream parties a kick up their back-side for screwing us all these years.

Please pass this onto your friends and friends of friends so that anyone in the Hissar constituency of Haryana hears this story and votes. And of course, if you are lucky enough to be in India (which unfortunately I am not), please go out and vote!!!

Thanks to my friend Brej for sharing this story with me. Very well-written.


Manu Dig Vijay Singh, an IIM B alumni and till recently a senior dealer, selling currency derivatives in Standard Chartered, Delhi, has quit his banking job and taken on the mantle of cleaning up the facade that runs in the name of politics. He has filed his papers with the Election Commission, and is contesting the Lok Sabha elections this year as an individual candidate from the province of Hissar, Haryana, where he hails from.

The son of a simple newspaper correspondent and one of 2 siblings, Manu has no prior experience in politics, is not from a “connected family” and certainly does not have a silver spoon to help him on this arduous road that he has chosen. All he has are blessings and good wishes, and a hope that he, and more of his kind would be able to stop the existing politicians from hemorrhaging this country. Manu, is pretty much like anyone of us, urbane youths... middle class, educated, employed...married and father to three beautiful girls.

So then what induced this madness? I cannot think of a better word to describe such a drastic move, and that too, in this time of recession and job losses. Who in his right frame of mind, would leave a well paying job, in a niche business, with a large foreign bank, for a greater cause. And mind you this is some one who has a wife, 3 children and no real safety net to speak of.

Like most people, my inherent cowardice ensured that all I could do was render some financial support, and applaud, his efforts from afar. Manu has only a short window of time, India goes to polls in less than a month. Also his paucity of funding, lack of campaigning experience, and independent status( no backing of any large political party), make it highly improbable for Manu to win.

It was with these thoughts plaguing my mind that i boarded the aircraft to Delhi to go onward to Hissar to meet Manu, on his campaign trails. For the benefit of those, who like me, are slightly geographically challenged, Hissar a province in Haryana, is situated about 200kms to the northwest of Delhi, and is home to over 2.2 million Jats,Banias,Punjabis,Agarwals, and other communities.

Hissar Statistics

Population                   :           2.20 Million

Voting Population        :           1.25 Million

Area                             :           6000 sq kms

Covers                         :           2 major cities Hissar/Haansi, 10 towns and about 650 villages

Competition                 :           Jay Prakash ( Congress) is the reigning MP

Sampat Singh  ( NDA ) is the Ex Finance Minister of Haryana State

Bhajan Lal / Kuldeep Bhisnoi   ( Haryana Janhit Congress ) Father /Son  Ex Chief Minister of Haryana State 

7th April 09

A 2 hr flight to Delhi, and 4 hr road trip takes me to Hissar. The road trip is not the most pleasurable of experiences, given that like most Indian roads, it has no central divider, so 16 wheelers, cars, bikes and bullock carts all whiz past on both sides at hairs breadth, keeping you riveted to your seat. I counted 3 major accidents on my way, but then again, this is India, and life is cheap here. If you are unfortunate and meet with an accident on this stretch, it is not very comforting to know that this constituency has only one civil hospital, where I am told, not much has changed in the last 30 years. But then again, unlikely any of you reading this mail, will ever dare step into a government hospital in India. We are so used to not expecting help or only such substandard help from the government, that we do not really expect any hospitalization support and assume that one only goes to a private hospital. Sadly not many can afford that luxury. Between accidents, disease, malnutrition and lack of infrastructure so many die in this country, that it is just a number. As some one famous once said "One death is a tragedy, a million, just a statistic"

I pass ripe wheat fields on both sides, the crops seem ready for harvest, “ Baisakhi “ ( North Indian harvest festival) is around the corner. I m glad that given some amount of good work done here in the 70-80s on agriculture , the farmer of Hissar, is better of than his not so lucky, cousins in Maharashtra /Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, where farmer suicides are at record highs...and this is an agrarian country, for crying out loud.

These and a host of other issues, is what Manu, and I know frankly many other good contestants like him are taking up.

Its well past noon, by the time I reach Hissar City, and try and locate the address of Manus campaign office. Its dusty and dry, the temperature is well over 30C but better than Delhi/Mumbai, although the sunlight is exceptionally harsh. I finally come across a bold sign in red “ Election Office Hissar Lok sabha : Manu Digvijay Singh “   It’s a modest 20ft * 20ft, square room, that boasts of a table some scattered chairs and a solitary computer in one corner. Manu is flanked by his brother in law Ranbir, another colleague from Stanchart Manish, and a friend Anil. All my doubts, on seeing such a basic and bare office, are done away with, by the sheer enthusiasm in the room. Hope breeds here. An optimism, a belief, and a fire to bring about change.  After exchanging pleasantries and having the quintessential Indian “ chai “, I was brought up to speed, on local politics, issues, electoral statistics, competition, campaign plan and strategy.

Post my de-brief, braving the scorching afternoon sun, we venture out to our first stop a local public place. Flanked by Ranbir and I, Manu would walk up to the unsuspecting passerby and fold his hands, say namaste, and go about his pitch. All in all, Manus pitch was basic, a brief introduction during which most people would wonder what this was about, till he uttered the word “ independent candidate “ and “ Lok Sabha Eelctions “.  Most of the people we met, went through a pretty much standardized series of emotions, starting with suspicion, then raised eyebrows on realizing that they were indeed face to face with the candidate, disbelief when they realize he is standing as an “ Independent “, surprise at his age, and shock at his background but finally a smile, to know they finally had an honest candidate they could vote for.  Initially it seems hard for people to accept that he has left a well paying job in the city, to enter politics. Like most Indians, they only know politicians who come from uneducated, criminal back grounds, and with a main motive of amassing personal wealth. In a country where most politicians, especially in northern India, are infamous for their bloodied charge sheeted history, and their manifestos are nothing but progress reversing, Manu is an aberration.

By 4.00 pm we were back at the office, to our surprise, we are greeted by a group of young boys waiting to meet Manu. They had heard read about Manu and his campaign in the local papers. We spent the next hour interacting and chatting with this young group of students. It was heartening to see this level of awareness amongst the local children about politics. In the 14-16 year age bucket, they were clearly too young to be able to vote, but they were keen to know what ideas Manu had for Hissar, and pledged their unwavering support in any way possible.  Having seen most of the urbane youth rarely take any interest in politics, it was nice to see that these kids knew more about their local state of affairs than their city cousins.

Its 6.00 pm, and we are busy getting Manu ready for his rehearsal speech. He will be going live on local televisions over the weekend. Having studied in Hindi medium village schools till 9thgrade, its laudable how he self taught himself English, studied further and now converses in English with ease. But given where we are today, Hindi will have to be the medium of communication and Manu can be quite the orator in Hindi. It is the first time I hear Manu give a speech. His language, diction and choice of words are hard hitting, and so is the content. It is ironic, as usual, certain large established political parties are distributing television sets, to woo voters. I am only glad, because it’s probably these same television sets that will spread the message that Manu and the other Manus in this country are spreading, and will hopefully lead to the undoing of these unscrupulous politicians.

By 9.00 pm we are back at the office, a bit famished, but the day is still not over for an aspiring politician. We break for dinner at Manus house, and then proceed to meet some of the well connected elders of the city. They are quite encouraging of young Manu. There is much debate on his strategy. Some of them feel, he will be no match for the fire power of some of the more well established players, who are using every thing in the book to win. Cash is king. And I am sure no one is more acutely aware of this than Indians. It is indeed a country of contradictions. On one side it has more than a third of its population below the poverty line, and yet the same country has the highest amount in the world stashed away in Swiss Banks( rumored to be at $ 1.4 Trillion ), the closest country that comes in second has only about 0.5 trillion. Political will to bring the names to light, absolutely Nil, no points for guessing why.

In any case, thankfully there are those who feel that now, that there is a good independent candidate for people to choose from, a lot of votes will swing Manus way. All in all, apparently, given the dirty politics in place, the criminalization of candidates, lack of real concern for the ordinary citizen, and sheer dirty politics, Manu seemed like a breath of fresh air to the people of Hissar. That means the main problem that Manu faces is lack of visibility.

To address this, we are up early the next day. Its 6.00 am, thankfully there was some rain and hail in the night, and the temperature drops to a comfortable 18 C. The plan is to stalk out the famous parks and walking areas, where a lot of the more politically active people take their morning strolls. Ranbir and I take up strategic positions distributing pamphlets, while Manu does the talking. It is not easy. As an electoral candidate you have to learn to strike the right balance. Humility is required since nobody knows him, Manu has to walk up to complete strangers and make that connection. He has to be confident but not cocky, educated and urban yes, but not so urban to have lost touch with ones roots, humble because he knows he is dependant on them for their votes but not servile, because he can actually help make their lives better. Better in every sense, and not just financially. It is a good thing to spread financial and economic welfare, but not by fuelling communal hatred or splitting people on caste and religion.

All most all the people we met, were happy to see a good clean candidate, especially someone young and educated. We got invited to a couple of houses for tea. Amidst snacks, farsan, mithais and sugary teas, the discussions continued. One common topic that reverberated was the debate about aging politicians, and how it is time for youth to jump in to the fray. If nothing else, this countries demographics call for it. We cannot have a country with over 35 % of its population under 21years run by politicians who still harbor aspirations for office, and that too, when they are 20 years past even the legal retirement limit age of 55 years. Neither is politics any families inheritance that can be handed down over generations, it should go to the deserving candidate, and lineage cannot be the only reason to qualify. In fact as we left the last house, one elderly gentleman, just held Manu tight, with moist eyes welling over, he smiled and said, Yes there is still hope……

After a standard local break fast of cholesterol laden yet sumptuous parathas, we plod on, and finally arrive back at the base camp ( Office ) by 10.00 am. We have only half an hour to bathe and shower, apparently there is a press conference at 10.30 am. By 11.00 am the room is filled with press media and a couple of local TV stations. They are all curious to meet and hear more about this new candidate of Hissar. I am pleasantly surprised to see their solidarity and support towards Manu, who at this juncture is clearly a dark horse in this race. Given that most of the reporters know about his background by now, the questions are restricted to mainly them trying to get air Manus political views, ideas, and manifesto. The interviews last about 2 hours and Manu is unsparing of any party and critical of both ruling and opposition ditto. Manu did justice to most questions, especially what comes to mind, is when Manu was asked his views on the recent controversial  “ show throwing case “. Manu retorted that “ If by just flinging one shoe, justice was reinstated and 2 politicians had to step down, then may be we should consider flinging 275 shoes and cleansing the whole system “ caused titters even amongst the reporters.

The rest of the day was again a flurry of activity as we went from one place to the other, the basic agenda being meeting people and spreading the word. We covered colleges, public places, parks and any other place of public activity. We did come across some touts, who said that for a price, a certain number of votes could be easily bought. I was shocked to know, apparently the going rate in Hissar is Rs 500 ( about US 10) per vote. That’s all what it takes to buy the right to cheat plagiarize and exploit this country and its people for another 5 years The tout was thanked and shown the door. The end could justify the means and all that crap, but fact is, Manu and his fellow mates, have the firm belief that if given a choice of a clean, righteous, do good, candidate, most people will do the right thing. The fact that US 10 means a months ration for the larger part of this country, means that a lot of people will probably still take the money, but thank god for “ Secret Ballot “, they might still actually vote differently and make the right choice.

Its late in the afternoon now, and I hasten to leave. I still have to cover that long road trip, and have a night flight to catch. I am certainly not brave enough to venture on these highways, once the sun sets. After long goodbyes and best of lucks to Manu and the team, I head back. I know that by this week he would be done with the city campaign and would probably start to target the villages. I am sure his campaign will be a success there too. I like to believe that even in rural uneducated parts, people have realized the power of their vote and want to make a difference to their lives.

As I sit in the comfort of my home, sharing my thoughts with some of you, I know that Manu, and like him there are others, who are out there trying to make a difference. I helped in whatever little way I could. Frankly I don’t know if Manu or so many of the other new deserving independent candidates will win. Given the odds stacked against them, its long shot, by far. But having experienced this political campaign for 2 days with Manu, and seeing what I have seen and experienced I am convinced that CHANGE has started. It is only a matter of time now, before this change permeates through the entire system. I don’t mean to sound ideological and impractical, I am every inch, the cynical, capitalistic, luxury chasing, bonus loving banker, but if even, I can feel this, then I guess change is not far away.

Voting is not only your right, but also your responsibility. Hopefully fewer people will not just use the public holiday to plan a family getaway, but will exercise their precious vote judiciously.

In then interim, if you feel you wish to contribute in any way whatsoever, you can contact Manu and his team on the numbers listed below. 

Email Contacts for Manu and team

ekbharat@gmail.com  ;   manudigvijay@yahoo.co.in

Mobile Contacts for Manu and team

9416146529 / 9910436336 / 9996648415

Their Website



Sunday, April 12, 2009

Once a geek ...

I always thought "Once a geek, always ...". But after spending several hours trying to get my company's (Zeopane's) website cleaned up, I came to the conclusion that I am no more the geek that I once was. I decided I don't have the patience to learn new technologies, experiment with new tools and learn web-programming. It didn't help that in my 6 year long stint in IT, I had rarely done any sort of web-programming. The most I had done was some HTML coding ages ago and of course tons of reviews and modifications (that's what Project Managers do in a large IT services company in India) of codes in Java, JSP, ASP, Javascript and a few other technologies. But as I found out yesterday, reviewing codes never sets you up for doing anything from scratch. So decided to clean up the content and leave the design as it is.

Of course, I am not one to give up on challenges that easily. This was just the short term solution to get an item checked off my task-list. Then I used Adobe Dreamweaver template to create a simple web-structure and started playing around with it. Downloaded some reading material of the latest trends in web development and started reading it. Before I knew it, it was 4am in the morning and I was going great guns on my third cup of "Chai". 

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cost-cutting ... Looting at best!!!

Just checked the brokerage amount on my last few ICICIDirect trades and notice that the brokerage rate has gone up from 0.9678 to 0.9811 without as much of a notice saying there's been an increase either in the brokerage or the service charge.

Just had my Karnataka Bank Account charged 225 per month for the last 4 months due to a change in min deposit in the account without as much of a communication. Apparently, they had sent a mail ... but probably chose not to put the stamp on it as a cost-cutting measure.

My Dad had a similar experience with Canara Bank recently. And who said the financial downturn hasn't hit India.

Friday, February 06, 2009

London Housing Scams ...

Mail one: Interested in the flat for the period from Sep 20th to Dec 15th. Two people sharing it - ok to pay extra if it's big enough to be shared by two people. Call me at XXX-YYYYY.

Response within 3 mins flat - 50 line e-mail. I thought Mr. Fawcett's either has a very fast typing ability or maybe he has a canned response he's sending to everyone. But the last line of his mail was interesting.

It is not compulsory that i rent out the flat but if i can get a reliable and tidy person that will take care of my flat for me i can let it out.so i need to know them better i.e what you and your partner do for a living. Waiting to read from you.

Since I had heard about the Western Union scam and tons of other scamsters around London, decided to search for James Fawcett and found out that that was a very famous scamster who's been cheating people using that name for the last few years. Not sure why he didn't change his name more often and why gumtree and other sites did not disable his user id. Anyway, decided to have a little fun at his expense.

Both me and my room mate will be two London Business School MBA Students from India. When can I come to take a look at the flat?

James Fawcett's Response ...

Thanks so much for the reply and interest in my Flat. However,i will be willing to meet you,get to know you and show you round the flat so that you can see what you are renting.
 But the issue is that i have been having problems with time wasters with regards to making the payment for the Flat and this was really a wasted time because i am presently  in the studio doing some live recording and icant make or recieve calls due to the nature of my job,but have my Laptop here to reply to emails.viewing will not be a problem, Anytime during the week in the evening would be a good date for our meeting. but i want to be sure i get a proof you have the funds on you before i can commit to viewing as i have been dissapointed several times after scheduling viewings in the past few days.I work here as studio manager.. My job had suffered and i have also wasted my funds coming over to london before thats why im a little skeptical.
However,how am i going to be sure that i will not be disappointed when i come around to show you the flat?Please understand that i am NOT asking you to pay for what you have not seen.People have told me that they will pay upon us meeting if they are satisfied but they all don't have the money to pay,everyone of them is looking for a free or cheaper Flat to rent despite the fact that i have made the rent Cheap.
Pls,i need you suggestion here because you can't pay for what you have not seen,it is not advisable.
However,i am also discussing with my Colleague here as regards idea on what i can do.I will get back to you or you suggest on what to do so that we can arrange a meeting and the viewing of the flat.Thanks while i will be waiting read from you.
Do not hesitate to ask any question. feel free to ask me any question. 
waiting to read from you.

Do you have the money to pay me if you like the Flat after viewing?
How many are you to occupy the Flat?.

I sent a short one line response ...

I can send you proof of my bank statements to show I have more than enough
cash to pay you. :-)

His response!!!
Thanks for the mail and there will signing of an agreement and contract on the viewing day,I would have love to receive bank statement,reference and bank slip as proof,but sorry i have been sent fraudulent one in the past by time wasters .I wasted fund coming from manchester just because of this flat but people don't have the money to pay for it they just want to see how beautiful it looks so i asked my colleague here in manchester, .she said for both of us to be on a safer side, that we can both do it this way that  for you to show that you have the cash to pay for my rent and deposit and you will not disappoint me when i come down from manchester to sort the viewing, the best you can give me as a proof is to show that you have the cash in hand to pay.
 Is that you should go to any western union outlet close to you, to send one month rent of 560 +refundable deposit 560pounds in your name to  your friend's name in your present address or you tell your friend to send the money to you...Scan and send the transfer receipt via email to me for confirmation on the western union customer care line if the money is available for any of you to pick up. when i come around to sort things with you,we will both go and pick up the money together then you pay me up.moreover, you are not sending the money to me, which i can do to person and i can never accept it. You are in custody of your money all i just needed to see is that you truly have the cash to pay me when i come down.and i will refund the transfer charges back to you.If you can get the western union done today then we can meet for viewing tomorrow in the evening from 6pm and the keys to the flat will be given to you... the money will start counting from the day you intend to move in
waiting to read from you.

See the closing of the e-mail. The bugger's almost in love with this potential sucker that he sees infront of him.Waiting to hear from you my love!!!

But then one question, if I send you a scan copy of the Western Union Receipt, won't it mean that you could use that information to get the money from Western Union. I don't mean to doubt your honesty here. Since you are
taking so much care, I too need to take care. 560 pounds is a lot of money and I cannot afford to just lose it in a fraud and I'm hearing about lots of frauds happening every day around the world.

Mention of the Western Union Scam has him a little worried about the potential money he had started dreaming about. He comes up with a short response.

all i just want is to confirm the money is available for you to pick up

My Response: 
Can you send me a scanned copy of your photo id (maybe your passport) so
that I know who I am dealing with?

And you still haven't answered my question. Isn't it a big risk for me to
send you details of receiver because then you or anyone who reads that mail
will be able to fraudulently pose as "My Friend" and withdraw the money from
any Western Union? I am not sure how putting the money in Western Union
makes you sure I will be able to give you the money. Just as Bank Statements
can be faked, A scanned receipt of the Western Union can also be faked
Can you and your friend come up with a better plan to make this work? I
really need the flat and I'm going to be homeless in a week's time if you
don't give me your flat.

Thanks for your mail, i dont believe that the western union tranfer iscomplicating, what i just need it  for is an assurance and proof so that i can come to show you arround the house and handover the keys of the flat to you , and since you've told me that you have the cash to pay for my rent. i dont believe it should be a problem,...moreover, you are not sending the money to me, which i can do to person and i can never accept it. You are in custody of your money all i just needed is to see it that you truly have the cash to pay me when i come down.Cause i have recieve a lot of fraudulent bank statement in the past so i dont want to have anything to do with that again,Hence,I will also be responsible for the transfer charges when i get back to show you arround the house
Warm regards.

I'd like to have a scanned copy of your photo id/passport please and a proof
that you actually own the house. Thinking from my perspective, I don't know
you exist as a genuine person with a house. I lose the transfer charges for
sure (if you vanish) and potentially the money (if you are able to use a
fake identity). Again, I don't mean to doubt your credentials, but I need to
take precautions.

I didn't mean to doubt his credentials or mean to say that he might be a scamster. I KNEW he was a scamster!!!!

No more responses from the sucker!!! Realized that I had realized that he's a bloody cheat!!!