Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Diwali everyone!

The festival of colors is back.

How I wish I was a little kid. Diwali was one function that I used to look forward to pretty much throughout the year. It's really bad to be so far away from home this time of the year, particularly since I'm reading so many articles that Diwali is back in full buzz in my city, which was shattered after the serial bomb blasts.

Nevertheless, we have a colorful tradition here in the campus and am looking forward to having maximum fun.

Happy Diwali everyone!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Why you have to do an MBA

I’ve read a lot about being able to move up fast in the corporate ladder without being an MBA. That’s bullshit. If you aren’t an MBA, you have no idea about the ‘Art of verbicide’ [I trademark it, but I love Open Source].

Here’s a compulsive reason why you simply have to do an MBA.

A couple of us started this argument over a tea-break when we were particularly ‘vela’ and were free-wheeling our thoughts. I guess the presence of a Dilbert book by our side butterfly-kissed our thought process, but that’s beside the point.

I am a Dilbert fan. I was one four years back. Despite gaining so much of corporate wisdom through Dogbert, Catbert and Ratbert, I never really did understand what my superiors [the ones really high-up in the ladder] spoke. Umm, I guess my English wasn’t all that bad, if that’s what you are thinking. Picture this: I was ‘just another programmer’ who was busy with my own life, but once happened to stumble upon the speech of one of the Vice Presidents of my previous company. I was enchanted at the whole prospect of seeing one of the topmost guys speak. He, to the question of how the company was planning to improve profits, replied that the strategy was to “increase the value proposition of our products and moving up the value chain, and serving the customers even better”.

The trick with that kind of a statement is that it means everything and nothing at the same time. Naïve as I was, I guess I was impressed and fell hands-down for it. If the tea-topic discussion that followed the speech was any indication, I wasn’t alone. Pondering over that statement over the night, I made a vain resolution to further improve my English skills.

That’s the proof that management jargon works. With many of the top-guys communicating in that language, you really have to understand terms like ‘synergy’, ‘proactive solution’, ‘value add’, ‘touch base’ etc to even communicate. Yes, it’s like using pneumanoultramicroscopicsilicovulcanoconiosis instead of a 'lung disease', but tough luck, that’s how it works. You got to be a Roman in Rome.

An MBA might not really be about what you learn in the books. If people say that, it’s probably crap. It might not even be about what you learn in all those infinite case discussions. I’d say it’s all about listening and understanding all the jargon that people play around with, especially when content is as hard to find as an oasis in sub-Sahara, and separating content from intentional verbicide. That brings a funny line I heard somewhere: “MBAs know what paradigm means, while others don’t.” One trade secret revealed: paradigm means bullshit. Verbatim. For learning about the rest though, you got to catch up with an MBA degree. If you thought life was easy, take a hike.

Net-net, the communication ‘learning curve’ [pun, if any, unintentional] is like this: Basic skills + Hardwork = Good skills. Good skills + MBA = Knowledge about the ‘Art of Verbiage’.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the tipping-point for sliming and sliding up.

Monday, October 24, 2005

IIM-I presents an 'Open to all' blogging contest

The blogging contest is open to all Indian bloggers. IRISing is a set of events that are open to... well, all Indians - not just B-school folks. You might have to do a 1 minute registration [IRIS website link] to check out the various events.

Following are some of the details of the blogging contest. [Mirrored from IRIS website]

About Bloggers Park

Blogging as a phenomenon is picking up slowly but surely. While blogs neither have the reach nor the say as that of the mainstream media, it surely has a definitive impact among the internet savvy population in India. In the light of the growth of this medium, Indian Institute of Management Indore (IIM-I) brings you a unique contest to lend your thoughts on blogging as a phenomenon.


Bloggers could choose to write as many articles on the following topics.

1) Are blogs an alternative for conventional media?
2) Blogging and viral marketing.

Contest rules:
  • The contest is open to all Indian bloggers residing in India and abroad, including, but not limited to, B-school students, other post graduate and under graduate students and corporates.
  • The posts have to be dated between October 24, 2005 and November 5, 2005


The winners would be judged by the top-Indian bloggers: Thanks a lot to Amit Varma, Kaps and Kiruba for agreeing to be the judges for the event.

Check out the website for more details.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Back to the future

I found the following picture in one of the newsgroups. Funny, interesting... and I'd be silent about the practicality. Anything could happen.

Just imagine 2020/2030. At the current rate - Google Earth et all, I really expect to see live satellite videos of our cities through some search technologies - the only constraint would be the bandwith of those satellites. Imagine network, internet bandwidth, the compression technologies, the power of PCs, the size of disks etc.

Exciting times we are in!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Blogging isn't a fad. It's mighty big.

I hate to be out of touch with the blog world, but competitions restrain me. Here are some updates from the blogosphere.


Read about how blog count is doubling every five months. The article says "70,000 new blogs are created everyday--that's one a minute". And there are 1 million posts a day tracked by Technorati. Wow!

CNET has an article on the decision that Bloggers won't be deemed as journalists. I wonder why since some of the bloggers like has a huge following, probably more than many small newspapers. If updating people is the motto, shouldn't bloggers and media work in tandem?


Check out what I guess is the biggest blog war in Indian blogosphere. Every miniscule angle has been vetted in and out. But Chandoo feels bloggers have been one-sided and has a completely alternate take on this issue.

With sites such as Desipundit aggregating the best of Indian blogs, has Indian blogosphere come of age?


There was Google's blog search, and next follows Yahoo!

More later!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Are Indians unnecessarily more tolerant?

“We Indians are a tolerant lot and we can live and adjust anywhere – right from single room flats to places in downtown Manhattan, from roadside tea-shops to CCDs”. How many times have you heard this?

My earlier reaction to these statements was more of approval and pride for being able to ‘adjust’. But of late, I’m thinking that such a tolerance has lowered our expectations and we stop dreaming big, just because we are satisfied with what we are, particularly when it comes to the ambience we live in.

Thanks to Jam, I was reading a book called ‘The Purple cow’ by Seth Godin.

It starts with an interesting story line. Godin was traveling across the French countryside and was initially fascinated by cows on the field. But the fascination went down after seeing a string of similar looking cows. His argument is that a purple cow in the middle would’ve been much more visible because of the difference. He implies that companies have to new expectations and stand out.

It’s very similar as far as our expectations are concerned. How many times have we accepted a lower or moderate quality service as our ‘Indian’ way of life and tolerated it and moved on without being assertive? Following are common examples.

  • Losing out 30 paisa on petrol

  • Standing in the queue for hours together without complaining to the counter people. This happened in an Indore railway booking center where I was made to stand for 2 hours in a queue. No one else seemed to care. Everyone accepted it as a way of life. One person complaining about the need for more counters might not make a difference, but all the 100 people complaining day in and day out might make the difference between more counters and perpetually standing in queue for hours.

  • I’ve read a lot about the inability of Indians to say ‘no’ and doing a patchy job in the end. Why do we assume doing a patchy ‘lesser quality’ job is okay when the other option is to be assertive and do a better quality job?

I’m not suggesting solutions for all this, and I might even be miserably wrong in some of my examples. But it was just a random thought I had that we Indians think tolerance is good and hence settle for a lesser quality service. Maybe the quality of service improve manifold if we start being more assertive and demand what we really deserve?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Need for Speed

We had the first NFS:Hot Pursuit II tournament in our campus a couple of days back. I guess its the first ever computer game tournament we've ever conducted here. It was simply awesome. There were about 48 people who participated in the first round. About 16 - including yours turly - qualified for the semi-finals, and I lost out there. It was bound to happen since I was out of practice for years. 4 people went on to the finals which was a knock-out round.

The good part was the enthusiasm it generated. Loads of people queued up behind the screens and cheered up participants. It pretty much revived the gaming interests in a lot of people.

The best part was the tournament itself. We have almost a quiz every week conducted by students for students - ranging from Geography, Bollywood, Music, IT, Marketing, Finance, General Knowledge etc, apart from the innumerable JAMs, debates, block and tackles. The common thread in all of these is that everything was somehow acads or mind oriented. Nothing was for fun, excepting the physical game competitions conducted every year. But this event was pure fun. I personally feel this makes the whole competition system complete - catering to all types of people.

The organizers have promised more on the same lines: AOE, Unreal, Counter Strike, F1, Quake etc.

On a different note: It's disheartening to find that freedom of expression is something that's still a castle in the vacuum. Kaps has been doing a great job covering the incidents in Chennai involving questionable practices by the so-called moral police, while he himself is bothered by spam to his reviews of the latest newspaper. I can only empathize since I've witnessed similar stong threats because of posts. Even if you mention "Views are entirely personal", there seems to be no meaning to it. Sometimes, you really wonder how good it would be to live in countries where 'freedom of speech' really means something. Sigh!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

India Inc: Employment everywhere!

When it comes to the question of whether India is developing or not, I have absolutely no second thoughts about it. Just looking at the job market for freshers would give a very good indication of the times we are in.

One of the technology companies in Chennai was considered a premium when I was in the second year of the college. Barely 5 people made it every year, and most of them were Computer Science engineers. Things took a complete volte-face when I hit the final year, when the same company took 49 students from our college alone - and 14 from my own class (Electronics dept.). The company was great, the placements were unprecendented, and we were all happy. Looking at the current trend, all's going very well. The company recruits 50+ repeatedly every year.

But then, there is also a different side to look at.

First: Every kid who takes the XII exam gets an Engineering seat. Well, almost. I really don't think getting 60% in the higher secondary exam is a big deal. You should have a killer combo of being dumb AND putting zero effort to fail in these exams. Despite having 20,000 vacant seats in TN alone, the intake shows no sign of slowing down. That explains the quality of students in the lower rung Engineering colleges.

Second: The only reason why we attract so many MNCs is because of the Engish skills and the quality of the Engineering students who pass out every year. The applicants : intake ratio was tough and that ensured quality work force. Things have really changed now, and I'm now wondering if everything (the excessive hype over IT) is for good.

Companies are recruiting like crazy, and if employment fairs are any indication, the applicants : intake has fallen down drastically. For example, my superiors in Oracle used to boast that the applicant : intake is almost 300:1, but even during my last days of employment there, it fell down drastically. Or atleast, that was the sentiment. That's good news and bad news. Are companies really taking in quality work force? Even if the answer is yes, the attrition is so high that 'quality' people almost always get multiple offers and keep scooting between companies.

Third: Almost every bright student from the top Engineering colleges (barring those who go to MS, MBA etc) opts for an IT and ITES career. There is a huge 'talent gap' in other disciplines - be it Mechanical, Electrical, Civil Engineering etc. In other words, if, after sometime - say 20 years, the IT boom evens out and all disciplines are back in equal demand, there would be a serious lack of technically sound people in other disciplines. A matter of concern?

Although I've taken several assumptions, the simulaneous existence of all the three things above sounds grave. I just hope that the pace and the hype doesn't get out of the hand and IT industry doesn't tread in the direction of BPO industry where the world continously doubts if we are really competitive enough. For the moment though, let's be optimistic and relish the change.