Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Who is Anna Hazare?

Some people repeatedly call him an RSS agent while others call him the savior of contemporary Indian politics.  Some claim he is corrupt himself while others award him the Indian of the Year crown. What some see as naivete and outspokenness is considered ignorance and orthodoxy by others. Who is Anna Hazare and why does he inspire such divergent feelings? Dr. Ramesh explores.

The 74-year-old Kisan Baburao Hazare has indeed come a long way. Not many people in India can claim to have achieved as much as this diminutive Maharashtrian. Is he a modern day Gandhi or is he a man with authoritarian tendencies hell bent on achieving his goals? His goals if achieved will benefit the masses, the only question being whether his methods are acceptable to civil society?


Let us take a brief look at his track record. At a very young age he helped prevent the poor from being evicted from their shelters by criminal elements employed by local landlords, did this play a role in his becoming an activist? He survived a possible bomb or aerial assault and this set him wondering if he had a bigger purpose in life. He survived another accident while driving for the Army and this made his mind up for him and the people of Ralegan Siddi benefited the most.

He transformed this impoverished hamlet into a thriving village, it would be churlish of anyone not to acknowledge this fact. He used his gratuity money from the Army to restore the local temple and inspired others to donate either money or labour in shramdaan. What was even more important was his success in capturing the imagination of the youth and involving them in all his programs. Some of his major achievements are Prohibition of alcohol in Ralegan, starting a Grain Bank which in a major way helped needy farmers during drought, and a watershed program that helped solve water scarcity and increased the acreage under cultivation more than 30 fold.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Microsoft and Nokia Wooing, Amazon Jilted?


How are the mighty fallen!

The travails of Blackberry maker RIM don’t seem to be ending anytime soon. Their Playbook launch was a disaster, their email outages in October made a severe dent in consumer confidence, and their market share in the high end segment compared to Apple and Samsung is falling drastically. Is it any surprise that their shares are languishing at around $12, where they were once traded at $140. Another huge dampener has been the news that new phones which could perhaps give the other manufactures a run for their money and deemed critical for the company’s future will be delayed until Fall 2012. Has the Waterloo based company met its Waterloo?


There are unconfirmed reports that the company “was now essentially on the block.” Business Journals have reported that software giant Microsoft and the Finnish mobile phone giant, Nokia have expressed an interest in acquiring RIM. It has also been said Amazon, which came out recently with the wildly successful Kindle Fire, had been rebuffed. It needs to be said that all the companies mentioned above have never said they were interested in any such acquisition and all this might be pure speculation on the Press’ part. It, however, goes to show that RIM has sunk in esteem and is considered a target for acquisition.

RIM does remain a significant player in the corporate communications market and to be frank, the ease of its use in corporate communication is still unmatched. Unfortunately its devices have fallen out of favor with consumers who have gone in for touch ‘smart’ phones from Apple and Samsung. Compared to the overall US market share enjoyed by Android devices of 46.3%, RIM’s share was 17.2%. What was shocking was a 4.5% fall in less than 3 months.

Microsoft sitting on a cash pile of more than $40 billion can easily afford to buy RIM, whose value should be less than $8 billion. MSFT has also recently come out with its Windows 7 OS for mobile phones and Nokia was one company that was really interested in using this OS-the Lumia being the prime example for this collaboration. However, it needs to be seen how successful the new Windows 7 OS will be in combating Apple ios 5 or the newly launched Google Ice Cream Sandwich. My geekish nerd friend tells me that calling this an uphill task would be an understatement. Apple and the Android devices are so entrenched in the current market that upsetting their “apple” cart will be almost impossible in the near future.

RIM should have a bucket load of invaluable patents and these might be what the suitors are really after. Google—Motorola—ring any bells?? It also has quite a presence in the Asian countries, the stampede in Indonesia while not the best advertisement for its popularity still underscores the fact that its devices are sought after. I would be happy either way, if RIM can survive on its own and prove the naysayers wrong or if MSFT and Nokia acquire and turn it around. Competition does help in improving quality and bringing prices down, and Apple and Android devices do need competition!

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This is a guest post by Dr. Ramesh Grandhi. Some of his popular posts are
Lady Gaga, Why this Kolaveri Di? Justin Bieber
Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar?
Are there really no full stops in India
Samsung Galaxy Note - Phablet or Tabone?
The Dreaded Pink Slip - Part I - How to avoid?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar?

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We could soon be seeing Sachin Tendulkar in the Bharat Ratna hall of fame. Justice Katju has called the recent move to award the Bharat Ratna to cricketers and film stars a mockery of the award. In this post, Dr. Ramesh Grandhi comments on the recent clamour for broadening the ambit of the Bharat Ratna.

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All of India is agog with the news that the criteria for awarding our most prestigious civilian award have been changed to allow sportsmen to receive it. On the face of it, no one should have any misgivings about this decision, however, I feel the clamour we see in the print and electronic media for Sachin to receive it is a bit unseemly.  Sachin, to his everlasting credit, has handled himself in a highly dignified manner and it needs to be seen if there will be a backlash of public opinion that will actually prevent him from getting this award because of the clamour.


I, for my personal edification, wanted to find out if Sachin really does deserve the Bharat Ratna. Are his achievements in cricket so great that he can stand tall in the company of past Presidents, Prime Ministers, Nobel Laureates, incredibly gifted musicians, freedom fighters, and activists who have given their very lives for reforming the social and cultural fabric of our nation? The jury is still out on this, but let us quantify his achievements and try and come to a conclusion.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Samsung Galaxy Note: Phablet or Tabone?

A review of the Galaxy Note by a technology fanatic and an avid reader of this blog, Dr. Ramesh Grandhi.
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You can call it what you want but the Samsung Galaxy Note is a winner all the way, it has succeeded in capturing the attention of cell phone enthusiasts while similar devices like the Dell Streak have fallen by the wayside.

The Note’s incredible sleek looks, the Super AMOLED screen that is such a visual delight, and the host of other highly advanced specifications really make it a worthwhile buy. The ease with which it has bridged the gap between a phone and a tablet is remarkable. For someone like me who wanted both a smart phone and a tablet, the Note was a Godsend. I am no geek or nerd and this was the first smart phone I bought and I can without any hesitation say that I am glad I bought it. I have not seen other phones like the IPhone 4S so I will not be able to give my view on how the Note would compare with it. I have, however, seen the IPhone 3GS and though the 3GS is an older generation phone, the Note would blow it away.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to cure Affluenza

This was part of my presentation at a green initiative undertaken by a media house in association with a leading beauty products brand. For a background, you may want to check out The Greening of our Inner Environment over at Subho's Jejune Diet.

I was pleased to learn that my entry for your green initiative was among the 10 finalists from over 4500 ideas submitted.  The entry I had submitted was a post that Ihad written on my personal blog on fuel efficiency for drivers.  It lists out simple tips on driving, filling gas, tire pressure, car pooling, etc., that can result in saving fuel and money.  I get about a thousand hits on that page in a good month, and an average of about 2 minutes spent on the page.  This is with no promotion, no search engine optimization, and with no significant backlinks outside of my own writing.  The purpose of my submitting that article as a green idea was to test and strengthen my assumption that information and knowledge shared by ordinary citizens can be essential to the future of the planet.

My green idea, however, is not restricted to transport management or pollution abatement under which my entry was categorized.  My purpose behind coming here today is to share my vision of how we can use tools of social media and public awareness that are available to us today to drive real change in our way of living and way of looking at life, thereby impacting all aspects of environmental degradation.  You will notice in my presentation that it is not focused on any particular aspect of environmental activism but on using the collective strength of community to foster behavioral change.

My proposal for your green initiative is to invest our time and resource in greening our social ecosystems.  There is a huge movement, and we today are part of it, to manage the crisis that we have put the external environment in.  My proposal is to complement this movement by encouraging and being agents of change in the primary area that has led to this crisis - our selves, our internal ecosystems.

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