Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

Came across this video in youtube. Reminded me of the good old 'Doordarshan' days. :)

I was small boy when this song used to be played every now and then on TV. I always used to stop a few minutes to watch this. Even now I don't understand the actual lyrics of the song - I'm just bi-lingual and the song has so many languages in it. But I get the concept - underlying tone.

This is a wonderful composition and anytime I hear this, I get goosebumps.

Thinking about those good old days now - they appear to be from a long gone era - seem so far away both chronologically and geographically. Everything around me now is so different from those bygone days.

I'm just 25 and I'm feeling this way. I can't imagine how our grandparents must feel. My grandpa was born when India still had 19 more years of British rule. Think of the changes that he must have seen - he used to recall the days when 1kg of a vegetable used to 1 or 2 annas. Now think of the things he's seeing now- He's able to see me and talk to me sitting here on the other side of the globe through a web cam .I'm sure my generation is going to see even more drastic changes.

If only I can collect all my thoughts in a pensive (Harry Potter terminology :) ) for future recollection !!!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Recession ??? or not ??? ...

For quite sometime, there has been talks about a recession in the economy. There are varied opinions among the economists on whether the country has already entered a period of recession or not. The federal reserve bank of US is talking about a big slowdown in growth, increasing inflation, rising energy bill and an increasingly costlier war in the middle-east. The sub-prime housing crisis that broke out last year had an adverse effect on the global markets including India.

There's an interview with Dr Shanto Ghosh, Principal Economist, Deloitte Haskins & Sells, Bangalore, posted in 'The Hindu' on the effect of the US recession on our economy.

He talks about various investors are going to look at investing dollars in other world economies including India. If there is an increase in the inflow of dollars into India, it is going to strengthen the rupee which in turn would affect the export oriented sectors. This would also bring about an increase in the inflation increasing the price of essential commodities.

Finally he talks about the effect of this development on the outsourcing industry which caught my attention. These are the things that I've been asking for a few months now - What's our future? How secure are we?

"The second, and a more direct, linkage is with respect to the services sector. Corporate profit outlook in the US is bleak. In the face of a recession, we should expect companies to announce postponement in their capital expenditures as well as information technology budgets.
The fact that the political climate in the US is currently biased against the outsourcing of jobs from the US will have a direct bearing on the amount of dollars that are likely to flow into India as payment for the outsourced jobs. This is again a negative stimulus for the service sector which has been the engine of growth for India over the past few years. "

Aren’t some people arguing that the pressure to retain margins will actually result in a higher amount of outsourcing from the US to countries such as India?
"There is a subtle fallacy in that argument. A recession is characterised by higher levels of unemployment. Moreover, it is a politically sensitive issue. How likely is it that, while joblessness and job cuts attract media attention, a US company will announce further job cuts and start outsourcing jobs outside the country? In my humble opinion, such speculations are nothing but wishful thinking."

I can't say if his words are entirely true. There are lots of differing opinion around. but the general consensus is that there will be a slowdown. As one of my manager put it, "We don't see any immediate effect (at least in our company, in our account). Business as usual will go on. Existing systems need to be maintained. But investments in new ventures, upgrades etc --- not sure.".

So far,the IT biggies have insisted that it is business as usual. They still seem to continue hiring new people. They're just talking about moving up the value chain, hiring quality talent and increasing productivity. Let's hope the industry weathers the storm. But at least in the immediate future, I feel that the big hikes and incentives will reduce, if not completely eliminated.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reservations... Creamy layers ...

The supreme court has landed another 'landmark' judgment - one that's going to make it more difficult for us to land seats in some of the most prestigious institutions of the country; Ones that kids from our place aspire to, right from the day they join L.K.G.

The supreme court has upheld the validity of the providing 27% reservation to the OBCs in central institutions, IITs and IIMs. Looking at the verdict, the apex court seems to have tried to minimize the damage while at the same time giving some advantages to the OBCs. Few measures towards that end seem to be
  1. Exclusion of the creamy layers from the OBC category. The creamy layer definition is quite exhaustive. It's available here:
  2. Directive to review the list of OBCs every 5 years.
  3. Fill up any vacant seats under the OBC quota with candidates from general categories.
I'm not totally against reservations. There are millions of people in our country who cannot even afford a day's meal and it is just not fair to expect their children to compete against the rest of the country and fight for their education. But what bothers me is the manner in which it is being implemented.

Already most of the seats in the state institutions are filled up the candidates under the OBC, SC, ST categories. The central institutions, IITs and IIMs were one of the last places where merit really mattered . Now that has also been removed. Now our kids have to work even harder, compete even more fiercely, battle it out over marks up to 5 decimal places and at the end of the day endure seeing someone with much lower marks getting ahead. Already we see that most people in our community concentrate on nothing but studies. Our children are already over-worked and are mentally and physically stressed out.

The IIMs have declared that the total number of seats will be increased by 54% by 2010, higher than the reservation rate, so that the number under the general quotas are not reduced. That is a welcome move. I hope the other institutions also follow this.

If an OBC candidate is well-prepared and scores well, he/she fills up the general category. If not, still no problem for them - there's always the OBC quota. We, on the other hand will not be able to get in even if we get good marks. We have to be exceedingly brilliant and grab the spots available. Any candidate from the OBC category should first be filled under the OBC quota. Only if the quota there gets filled, should they be allowed to come into the general category. That will at least prevent the scenario where they fill up all the places - The exclusion of creamy layers (I really like this idea) should mitigate this situation a bit. But again, the implementation of that clause worries me. Already all the parties are unhappy about excluding the creamy layer - lest they alienate potential voters. And people will find all ways to go around this. There will many changes to the supreme court definition of the creamy layers.

Somehow over the years, it has been made a bad thing to speak against such reservations. So no one wants to voice against this, fearing that they'll labeled anti-Indian, anti-development, communal and so on. So, these things keep on increasing.

I don't know what's going to be outcome of the so called review of OBC list every 5 years. While it sounds good coming from the mouth of the apex court, in reality it will only lead to more and more communities being included in the list.

Now some parties have started urging the center to extend these reservations to private institutions and private jobs. That is the most horrible thing to do. That is an intrusion into the private freedom of individuals and organizations. I hope this is prevented and we have the choice to participate in a fair competition somewhere. If this goes on, we'll one day be waiting outside Saravana Bhavan waiting for a table under the general quota.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

YNM - insult

After a long time, I went to a tamil movie today - and regretted it. I was not looking out for a blockbuster or a superb award winnig movie, but just a time-pass. Yet I was disappointed, angry and insulted.

The movie I went to - "Yaaradi Nee mohini" starring danush and Nayantara. Screenplayed by Selvaraghavan and music composed by yuvan, the movie sounded Ok.

The first half was hilarious by virtue of being extremely silly. It is so silly that it is almost an insult to IT professionals. Danush is roaming around without a job. He sees Nayantara on the road, follows her and decides to get a job in the company where she works - "Software Solutions Inc.". He scrapes through the written test (which nayantara later claims she helped pass) and goes through the GD. It is one of the most stupidest GD I've ever seen. And Danush especially says he's not fluent in english and is asked to speak in tamizh. And finally the personal interview - The first question is "What is a foreign key?" followed by "what is multi-threading". He gets ready to leave the place not knowing the answers, but then sees Nayantara and starts answering the questions. I didn't know programmng was so easy !!!! Then starts his work. Right on the first day, he is scolded and insulted by Nayantara and becomes dejected. He is not able to code anything and in his frustration types something random and all of a sudden a siren like sound blares through the hall and all monitors go haywire. Our hero danush has "crashed" the system. And there comes the boss and blasts Nayantara right there in front of everybody for allowing Danush, a trainee to work on the critical project to be delivered in two days. He just throws the project docs in her face.This makes danush feel so bad and he spends the entire night working on the code. Whenever he is stumped, he thinks of Nayantara and starts working harder. And after much hard work the code is completed and Lo and behold !!!there is a bright blue box flashing on the screen that says "Code Activiated". And just like that he is selected to go to Australia on a project assignment. My god !!! If only things were that simple

Now the second half. This is one of the most insulting load of rubbish I've ever seen. Danush's father dies and his friend Karthik (mirchi suchi's hubby) takes him to his hometown for a change of mood. Incidentally Nayantara is Karthik's athai ponnu and they plan to get married. Apparently Karthik and Nayantara are from a brahmin family and had come to city against their grandfather's wishes to pursue their careers. Now the story moves into the brahmin household in the village.
1. Danush goes and sits on an oonjal in the house and Karthik's grandmother (sukumari) comes rushing and beats him with her walking stick. Apparently she is horrified that a guy from some other caste has desecrated the oonjal and washes it off. Karthik then explains that she is slightly out of her mind. Atleast that explains it.
2. Danush then goes to take bath. He is asked to bath in the open space (mitham) of the house where he finds Karthik bathing with a komanam (the small cloth used as a brief). He's shocked and Karthik explain that to be the way they do in that household.
3. Then the next day, Danush is made to get up very early and gather along with the rest of Karthik's family where the grandfather recites a slokha and everyone is made to drink arugampul juice and made to walk for some time to ensure free excretion.
4. Then one by one all the mamas in the household start farting. Danush is very uncomfortable and disgusted.

This was the end of the patience for me and my room-mate and we just came out of the theatre. My god ! It was just plain horrifying. What did they think? They've made a complete mockery of Brahmins. None of what is shown is even true in the remotest sense and these things can be shown of anyone. Why choose a community? Because they're so damn sure that none of us would object. Obviously this can't be done with anybody else. There would be mass demostrations and
protests. Jodha Akbar is being opposed in the north just because of a marriage between two religons and some supposed historical mistake. Hordes of movies and books have been opposed and even successfully banned. Even harry potter was opposed. But everyone would have a hearty laugh at this movie. This is an absolutely disgusting scenario.

This movie is an insult in both halves - insult to IT professionals by the silliness and stupidity of the first half and to the Brahmins by the mocking comedy in the second half.