India

entrepreneurship : culture vs economy

Shweta writes :

I was talking to somebody yesterday, who recently returned from US, and he said that he expects to see more startups in India than in US, because it is so damn easier to survive here without earning.
That comment brought back to me something that happened on the last day of my job… I was retuning back in office sumo, and I saw people lined up for buses. I saw the typical long shirts wore on saggy pants, faces tanned by having to roam around in intense sunlight, and the sweat… I had the feeling I had when I talked to my parents about my decision to leave my cozy job. The feeling of being “ungrateful”.

I would liken the entrepreneurial spirit similar to the thousands of people who throng from rural India to Bombay in the hopes of making it big in Bollywood. Some of them are talented, some not, but every one of them arrives with a zealous ambition and hope, sacrificing social acceptance and the stability of daily life. I would like to believe that the appreciation for risk will slowly permeate Indian society. Call centers, telecom and technology companies have already affected many families. The parents don’t really understand what the son is doing or why he wears that eyebrow piercing, but the neighbor’s son just bought his dad a scooter and paid off the housing loan, so maybe this will work out for them too.

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dreams of flight

This is totally awesome. A retired airlines engineer in India bought himself a decommissioned aircraft, plonked it on his backyard, and now runs what is probably the world’s first static airline. Complete with ticketing, safety instructions and air-hostess-served in-flight refreshments! According to the video below, tickets must cost Rs. 150 but it’s free for poor school children.

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digg people and the indian outsourcing opinion

I couldn’t resist citing the hilarity at Digg regarding an Indian outsourcing post. A sampling of the comments:

Original post (emphasis mine):

And there she goes, one of the last computer companies that had all tech support centers in the USA. One of my biggest selling points to my customers has been that Apple cares about their customers and had all there support from someone that spoke proper English.

Responses:

I think that you will find that English is the “offical” language in India, and that they have probably been speaking English longer then your family has. (given that they most likely emigrated from some european nation – perhaps Germany)

I’m so upset I think I’m going to sell my Mac and buy a Dell! At least THEY care about the American worker!

I have no problem with Indian tech support. Speak clearly, listen clearly, and you’ll get your question answered. If you call up speaking like a yokel and they don’t understand you, it’s your problem, not theirs. It’s a global economy, there’s no use in fighting this stuff, this is just the way it is and this is the way things are going to stay. Deal with it.Who cares if the person has an accent, they still get your problem solved. I’ve spoken with many very intelligent very technical Indian support reps.

I resent what this guy said about speaking proper english. You know, I’m just a regular white American dude. But I DO know that in India, English is the de facto national language, used in combination with regional second languages. They speak wonderful English. I work with several Indians and they speak better English than I do.

maybe they did that in consideration of their Indian customer base that are sick of talking to techs in the USA that speak crappy Indian.

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one billion reasons to care

ABCNews does yet another India report (Part Two). Memorable quote: A sardarji says to the U.S. reporter, on his face: “We are not behind you, we are with you”. Heh. In many ways, India might just be ahead.

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Remedy for the forgotten generation

Rahul writes about the absence of an entire period of music from public radio:

So the teenyboppers have their Casio tunes, and our parents have Mohammad Rafi. Nothing for us. I think I belong to Bombay radio’s forgotten generation.

Rahul, you’re in Mumbai, where Go 92.5 exists — probably the only channel in India that played music I could tolerate. I’m not sure if they’ve changed their programming or target demographic since, but I really had withdrawal symptoms when I left Mumbai a couple of months back. Imagine yourself in Delhi — where you have the option of factory-processed hindi music on RadioCity, chirpy and mast hindi music on Radio Mirchi, or casual hindi music on Red FM.

Of course, Delhi does have a glimmer of hope in AIR‘s FM Rainbow which does play classics, but most of the Radio Jockeying would make even a six year old with speech impediments cringe.

While it seems Bangalore too has AIR FM Rainbow, the only thing people listen to here is the schizophrenic Radiocity 91, which has English-speaking RJs(Radio Jockeys) playing Hindi songs interspersed with Kannada advertisements. Not quite the thing for me, ya know.

My night in shining armor, comes galloping from the United Kingdom via the Internet: Virgin Radio UK generously provides Shoutcast streams that are make up most of my daily listening. Shoutcast is seriously a great source of free music; there are so many supercool radio stations; especially niche ones that cater to very specific audiences, like GothMetal Radio for all the pretty men and women wearing black mascara, for example. Plus Shoutcast is free. As opposed to WorldSpace, which is very nice, but costs a little more than free.

arnab's guide for media people

I've had more than a few journos calling me asking me about "this blogging thing" wanting to know why people want to become lexical exhibitionists and where can they find more. Or something along the lines of that. Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind before calling me up:

  • I like to waste other people's phone money. If you're calling from Delhi, Digboi, Ukraine, or some other place far away, I like to do that even more.
  • And if you're from a newspaper I don't like because you guys have more scantily clad anorexics than news as content, I will yap like Cyrus Broacha.
  • Please, please, please do your homework first. My mother taught me that a long time ago. All it takes is a little googling ro yahooing or teomaing. Not that difficult, you know.
  • I will ask you to send me the draft text that pertains to me. Please don't throw your mighty newspaper's no-public-disclosure policy at me in retort. I do this so that you don't misrepresent me and write about how I like to wear pink polka dotted underwear while blogging. Dear readers, no matter what any national daily tells you, any mention of polka dot and my name in the same sentence is definitely fictional. I assure you that. Also, there are laws in India about this, and I have a lot of free time.
  • After speaking to you, I will send you links and things to help you. Please do check your mail after you speak with me.
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barred ista

I was a big admirer of the Barista coffee chain. When it opened, I became a huge fan of it's themed decor, clever copy for it's ads, and it's range of coffee concoctions. Barista was also probably the first restaurant chain in India to introduce the "laid back" approach - allow your customers to hang around your joint, spend time playing scrabble on the board you provided, or strumming the guitar that's lying at the corner of every one of your stores. While this might seem to make little business sense, this became the chain's primary customer-drawing points. In the hustle bustle of this hectic world, it was nice to find a place to let your hair down and treat yourself to a walnut brownie dipped in extra chocolate.

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live from mumbai

Greetings from the city that never sleeps! To compensate for the non correspondence from Jamshedpur, the most well planned town in India, I shall now write about my stay in Jamshedpur, a.k.a. Tatanagar. The town is named after the great Jamshedji Tata, founder of the Tata Empire, one of the largest corporate empires in India. It was founded many, many years ago by the Tatas to support their iron and steel mining operations, and is a true marvel in town planning. I find it incredible that a single corporation takes care of everything in the city - the roads, electricity, and all other facilities are handled by Tata.

travelogue II

Greetings from Ranchi! Here I am, in the capital of Jharkhand, the one time summer capital of British India's eastern zone. It's almost as cold as Delhi, except that's it's less foggy and less polluted.

The one scary aspect about travelling is relatives. In India, meeting an uncle or aunt or grandmother on any other remotely related relative means that they're going to stuff you. Stuff you with food. With sweets. And with an uncanny, manic, sadistic pleasure so overpowering that you promise to do the same to them the next time they come to your place. I'm sure this custom is a conspiracy by the Indian foods and sweet industry.

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travelogue I

Thanks to the fog in northern india, it's virtually impossible to drive almost anything anywhere. Visibility at dawn is next to zero - we had to follow blinking lights of autorikshas on our way to the station. And then there's the train which arrived here 9 hours late. Oh, by the way, I'm here in Kolkata - reached safe and sound, albeit tired and trainsick. Supposedly, the last few days are the coldest Kolkata's seen in years, but it seems like spring to me, compared to the winter in Delhi. I guess I'm travelling on a cold wave.

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